Sunday's Coming

I think it was

Tony Campolo

who first coined the phrase,

It's Friday, but Sunday's coming!

Those five words truly capture the


of this Easter season. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday with Jesus exalted as he rides through Jerusalem only to find his body buried in a tomb on Holy Saturday.

And in between, Mary watches her son beaten and scorned, nailed to a cross.

Jesus sees his mother's grief from the cross and speaks to her loss ~

“Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

~ John 19:26, 27

It's Friday, but Sunday's coming


Mary and the others who find the tomb empty and realizes the fulfillment of Scripture and the hope of resurrection.

It's Friday, but Sunday's coming

truly resonates with my soul.  As a mother who has laid her


in the arms of God, I have known


  I grieve the loss of a child almost daily in my thoughts of



Yes, life in His Kingdom is full of contrasts.

Those who mourn are comforted.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.~ Matthew 5:4

Those who grieve have hope.

Dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14

Those who die in Christ are truly alive.

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.~ 2 Corinthians 5:4

Many of us have known


and we long for



One of our local pastor's truly captured the heartache of Holy Saturday and the hope of Easter ~

Holy Saturday is really like the world we live in ~ it's the in-between day . . . We believe in the Resurrection and we know it is coming, but we patiently wait as we grieve, knowing His promise will be fulfilled. ~ Pastor Gregory Beaumont

Jesus said ~

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.~ John 16:33

This life is full of


but do not lose heart because

Sunday's coming!


Jesus Taken Down From the Cross

, Michael O'Brien

Resurrecting My Resolutions

Yes, I know that 2010 is less than thirty days old.

Yes, I know I just made my New Year resolutions.

But if you are like me, New Year resolutions made on January 1st are often D.O.A. before the end of the month. I like to think that I am not a flake. I do not consider myself unmotivated. But what I know about myself is this ~ I am a creature of habit and old habits are hard to transform.

Oh, I breathe life into my resolutions for a few days ~ sometimes for two or three weeks. More often than not though, I finally remember them about mid-month. Quite honestly, at that point, I tend to just declare them pulseless and non-breathing. As I go through the ritual of mentally burying yet another set of New Year resolutions, I am struck with both guilt and grief. I heap loads of guilt upon myself for failing ~ once again ~ and allowing my good intentions to fall lifeless along the roadside of the routine of life. I mourn the fact that it was not my old habits that died, but my good intentions that are once again found too weak to survive.

Sadly, this year’s resolutions are no different. Knowing my habit of making and breaking resolutions, I made just a couple. I kept them for a few days. But alas, as the number of days of the month increased, so did the number of fatalities on my list of resolutions.

Then, this past weekend, I remembered the words of a wise friend ~ words spoken in a sermon over 30 years ago. Ben West was the pastor of the small church we attended in northern California. Near the end of January, sometime in the late 1970's, Ben delivered a homily about keeping our resolutions. The focus of his sermon was not so much about making resolutions but rather on breaking them. That’s right! He wanted to address those of us who seemed to not be able to keep the resolutions alive for more than a few days or a couple of weeks.

It was one of those sermons where I felt he was going to preach directly to me. You know, when you feel like the pastor must be looking in the windows of your soul! I prepared myself for another dose of guilt.

Ben’s words that morning were not accusatory. His message was not filled with ‘should of’ and ‘ought to’. Rather, his words were gentle, encouraging and full of hope. Here is what I remember from that Sunday morning over 30 years ago.
We make New Year resolutions and we break New Year resolutions.

We can focus on our success at keeping them, or look at our failure of breaking them. Rather than focusing on what was not done, focus on what was accomplished because you made the resolution.

Maybe today you are able to say:
  • I exercised 5 days in January ~ when your habit is to not exercise at all!
  • I read my Bible for 3 days ~ when your Bible usually collects dust during the week.
Realize that you have accomplished something because you made a New Year resolution. Take heart and keep going from there.
Ben’s words were life-support to my dying resolutions back then, and are again life-giving in 2010.

Thank you, Ben, that today I choose to resurrect my resolutions and keep going from here.

Thank you that I can redeem this new year as I again breathe life into my desire to change old habits; as I lay aside the guilt and grief of failure; as I keep on being transformed into something new.

Hope of the New Year

Here is a fact you may not know. I am sentimental. Very sentimental!

Perhaps nothing makes that point quite as much as the small gift tag from Christmas 1992 that I have tucked away in a drawer. As I remember, this tag was not attached to a very memorable gift.  But this tag is in my mother's own handwriting.  It simply says To Bonnie, Love Mom and Dad.  She passed away the following February.  This tag marks the last of the forty Christmases we shared together.

So it comes as no surprise to my family that I tend to become sentimental, okay, pensive as New Year's Eve approaches.  I want to hold on to those precious memories of the past twelve months, and yet, I long for the fresh start the New Year brings.  I have to confess that in my desire to learn from my past mistakes, I often take them to heart a little too much ~ rehashing them again and again in my mind.

I want this year ~ 2010 ~ to be a redemptive one year!

How will God redeem my failings and transform me into a better wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, and mentor?

With all honesty, I am very hopeful this New Year's Eve.  I am relying on His power that redeems all things to Himself. I am resting in His promise to restore and reshape me for His good pleasure; to re-establish my path; and to renew my thoughts with His thoughts.

As I read the prayers of the Daily Office for December 31st, it included the wonderful story of the healing of the crippled man found in The Gospel of John. Here is the story in the Apostle John's words as it appears in the Book of Common Prayer:

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids ~ blind, lame, and paralyzed ~ waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred the water: whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. ~ John 5:1-15

What an incredible story of transformation! Jesus not only restored this man’s health, but redeemed his future ~ Take up your bed and walk . . . sin no more!  The man did not leave his bed behind, but took it with him, perhaps as a reminder of the transformation he had experienced.  The man obeyed and took those first courageous steps of faith as he walked out into the city of Jerusalem on his own two feet ~ for perhaps the first time!  The man was truly transformed ~ from the inside out as he was encouraged to sin no more.

And yet, as I re-read the story, I find Jesus' question to the man a little strange.  Why would Jesus ask a man who had been invalid for 38 years if he wants to be healed?  Isn't the answer pretty obvious?  I think Jesus asks the question because Jesus knows that lifestyles are hard to change.  We tend to be quite comfortable, thank you with how we use our time, how we spend our resources, and how we treat one another.  In many ways, we have become invalids ~ stuck in our own bed of old habits and traditions.

I want this story of redemption found in John 5, to be my New Year’s story!  I want Jesus to restore to health to those areas of my life that He knows need healing.  I want Him to redeem my future.   May I Him with all of it, and be willing to take some courageous steps of faith as I walk where He leads me and become who He wants me to be!

Yes, I am quite hopeful this New Year's Eve ~ as I fix my gaze on the His redeeming love ~ that 2010 will be a redemptive year .




A Picture That's Worth A Thousand Words

Okay, so I didn't mean a


words. But this morning my friend Robin posted this photo on her Facebook profile after a recent day in the snow.  My mind immediately filled with words inspired by this tiny pine tree in the snow.








I hope this picture encourages you in the 'winters' of life ~ to know that He is able to produce in us a life that brings Him glory and draws others to His kingdom - no matter what.



does this picture say to you as you consider the new year?

Photo by Robin Manuszak 2009

Happy Birthday, Scott

Tomorrow ~

November 23rd

~ is Scott’s birthday. He would be 30 years old.

To be perfectly honest, while I rest in the assurance of where he


, I wrestle with the reality that he

is not here


Tonight, my heart cries out for Scott to be present in our lives. My ears long to hear his voice. My arms ache to hug him.

I struggle to envision what he might look like, all grown up. I can only see him as he was ~ a fair-haired, freckle-faced teenager . . . with a contagious laugh and smile! I remember one of the first things our grief counselor told us in those early days after Scott’s accident ~

You will forever be the parents of sixteen year old boy.

I did not understand it then, but I know it all too well now.

I have been on this journey of grief long enough to know that I really cannot fight the emotions, or bury the sorrows. So today, I surrendered to my grief. I allowed the tears to come to the surface. What deep wisdom is contained in Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 ~

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

In anticipation of Scott’s birthday, Tony and I drove to one of our favorite local nurseries this afternoon. We thoughtfully selected new plants to add color and life to Scott’s memorial garden in our side yard.

Amy and our grandchildren ~ Kaitlyn, Kyle and Jack ~ will join us in Uncle Scott’s Garden tomorrow. We will prune back the perennials and place in the soil each new sign of life. Our work will be a labor of love as we strive to not lose heart. As we toil to bring beauty to what is seen, we long to bring into focus what is unseen, what is eternal.

In this small way we celebrate the life of our precious Scott and give thanks for the sixteen years we had with him. All the while, we cling to the hope of our blessed reunion when there will be no more sorrow, no more tears, and no more goodbyes.

Happy Birthday, Scott ~

I love you


Rogue Waves

Tony and I do not watch much TV.  First of all, we only have


cable - no premium channels, no TIVO, no DVR - so our choices are usually slim.  Secondly, there does not seem to be much on TV these days that encourages us in our daily lives. Lastly, we do not have too many evenings when we are home with absolutely nothing to do. 

Once in a while, as we surf through the channels, we come upon a show called 

Deadliest Catch

 ~ about the men and women who make their living fishing the depths of the world's oceans.  It has some amazing footage of these vessels, the crew and what they encounter.  It actually can make one sea-sick just by watching.

The work on these ships is tough, the weather is fierce and the living conditions are cramped.  As if these realities were not enough, there is another threat for those tough enough to hold down this job.  There is the possibility of

rogue waves

 ~ waves that seemingly come out of nowhere and have measured upward to

100 feet tall!

Scientists are still working to understand completely what causes these killer waves to occur.  One theory is that these giant walls of water form when strong winds push against the ocean current, or when swells react to the rise and fall of the seafloor. It may also be that smaller waves converge at the same place and time to combine into a monster wave.  Can you imagine how many little waves it would take to come together to build at just the right time, in the same place, to become a rogue wave?

Whatever the cause, rogue waves are rarely predictable.  They rise up spontaneously, without warning.   Captains and crew members of ships have little warning except the visual image of a wall of water coming toward them.  And by then, it is often too late. 

Although I live with both feet firmly planted on dry land, I often find myself facing killer waves - situations, circumstances, events and at times, personalities - that seem to come out of nowhere, with little to no warning.  And like an oceanic scientist, I find myself trying to figure out

what just hit me




Sometimes I find myself in a place where I have allowed too many

little things

to just build.  Am I the only one who keeps saying 'yes' to things and then finds myself over-committed, way in over my head?




  Other times, I may sense life taking me one direction, and I fight against it, like a fierce wind pushing against the ocean's current, only to find the pressure of the current wins in the end.  And I am left treading water rather than swimming with the flow.  It seems I can look back

(with 20/20 vision, of course)

and see how I could have predicted the wave, planned for the wave, and maybe even avoided the wave.

But there are times in my life when - without any warning - I am hit by a rogue wave . . . a monster, killer wave. It comes out of nowhere.  And I feel like I am drowning.  I'm sure you have been hit by them too.  The phone call that tells of a fatal accident.  The diagnosis that means life will never be the same.  The devastation left by the wildfires.  The layoff.  The foreclosure. 

Life . . . at times, it can feel like a rogue wave ~ sucking us under, towing us into the deep where we can't stand, swallowing us, taking our breath away. 

The day


 our home was hit with the massive rogue wave of


, my husband, Tony, was teaching an adult group at our local church.  There were no indications that a monster wave was in the making.  No way to know what the next day held for us.  Yet, Tony's text for that morning in early February was a passage in the New Testament about when Jesus' disciples were gripped with fear as their small boat was tossed around by the winds and the waves on the Sea of Galilee. 

To illustrate his point, Tony drew a small boat on the white board.  He added waves crashing over the sides of the boat, and 'stick figures' of disciples yelling out from the boat.  Then he drew a rock, just below the water line, holding the boat steady.  Tony commented, "Even in the midst of the storm, Jesus is our rock, holding us as we ride out the waves."  I think every person in the room that morning will always remember that drawing.

Just 24 hours later,


boat was fighting to stay upright against a killer wave.  We were taking on water fast.  We were drowning in our own tears.  We could hardly breathe.  And yet, we survived the loss of our precious son.

Jesus said to his disciples that day on the stormy sea, "Oh, you of little faith!  Have you not learned anything . . .?"  Jesus had proved His power and strength ~ to keep them, hold them, provide for them ~ and yet, they did not remember His faithfulness in this time of need.

When rogue waves are looming off on the horizon and it is as if a towering wall of water is ready to overtake us, let us call out in our weakness from our small boats to the One who made the seas, who calms the winds, who holds our very lives in His hands in the midst of the storm.  He remains our hope.  Our rock.  Our cleft in the storms of life.

Surviving the Present

I know there are times it is too much for me to even think about redeeming the future; when today is just too overwhelming ~ I hope I can just survive the present. You know those kind of days.

You are or you have been the mother of small children and you do not have one.more.ounce of energy to offer. You have deadlines and responsibilities that seem to consume every brain cell. You are battered with images from your past that rob your joy. The memory of someone loved who has died opens that hole in your heart to allow all your strength to drain away. The future just looks hopeless.

I know there are times I just want to survive today. I cannot think about redeeming tomorrow.

I am thankful our Lord knew we would have days like this. Listen to his words in Matthew 6:34,

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

I am grateful for God's promises in Lamentations 3:19-24 when I encounter these times.

Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."

How precious, how refreshing, what a hope-filled picture, as I face one of those kind of days, to know He is the great I AM, offering His lovingkindness and compassion, renewing my hope, and filling my portion.

I know I will have days where I do not have one.more.ounce of energy to offer; where it seems every brain cell is consumed with deadlines; where the brokenness of my past robs me of the joy here and now, my strength is simply draining away, and I feel hopeless.

When those days seem to find us without the energy, joy, strength and hope we need, may we dwell on the promise of His strength for today and His bright hope for tomorrow. As we wait on Him to renew us, restore us, fall a fresh on us ~ as we survive today ~ we ARE investing in the future that He promises to redeem in His perfect time.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Easter Reflections

Easter stirs so many emotions for me. It seems my reflections are intricately woven with the events of Jesus' last week on earth.

As I approach Holy Week, I feel myself drawn to Gethsemane. It is a place of protest, you know, where Jesus went to ask the Father to let this cup of death pass from him. I have stood among the old olive trees in Gethsemane on a trip to Israel in 1997. The year before, I quite literally found myself begging God to let the cup of death pass over our family. I have laid a precious life in the lap of Abba Father and uttered the words,"Not my will but yours be done," as I learn to trust Him with the pain.

As I awake on Good Friday, I find myself identifying with the sorrow of Mary, whose son's life is slipping away as he hangs before her on the cross. And yet I find comfort in the words Jesus speaks to her in John 19:26, 27. He sees her tears, and looking down from the cross, he meets her in the form of her need, to fill the deep void created in her mother's heart.

When Jesus saw his mother

and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby,

he said to his mother,

"Woman, behold, your son!"

Then he said to the disciple,

"Behold, your mother!"

And from that hour

the disciple took her to his own home.

And then the hope of Easter comes upon me. I realize the power of the resurrection to bring a glorious reunion with those who have gone before. I recognize the promise of Jesus to his disciples as he taught them about his Kingdom that would be ushered in by his death. Jesus tells his disciples in John 16:22, 23 ~

You have sorrow now, but I will see you again,

and your hearts will rejoice,

and no one will take your joy from you.

In that day you will ask nothing of me.

My Easter reflections always take me back to a Garden in Jerusalem, where I stooped to enter an


tomb. I praise Him for the promise of resurrection, the hope of reunion, and the Kingdom where he will . . .

. . .

wipe away every tear from their eyes,

and death shall be no more,

neither shall there be mourning,

nor crying, nor pain anymore,

for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4