Sunday, December 15, 2013

How Great Thou Art

It has been almost ten years since we stood at the altar of an old, Baptist church, June sun shooting through the glass stained blue and green, downtown traffic buzzing outside of the thick, wooden doors.  We lifted our voices while we squeezed our hands and felt the words to How Great Thou Art sink into the choir of hundreds of friends and family.  They were all present in their finest clothes to witness the joining of our lives.  I remember how easily the lyrics left my lips, how they nearly floated out of my nervous smile.  They rang loud and true while the ancient organ hummed low beneath all that joy rising in song.   

Just a couple of weeks ago, sparks from the fire popped into the black sky over our backyard.  Bare hands, shaking from the fall crisp held plastic cups of red wine and glass bottles of amber beer.  In camping seats and wooden lawn chairs, on top of coolers and criss-crossed on the brick patio, friends gathered around the hot blazes as my husband poked a stick to stir the flames.  They came to remember.  They came to support.  They came to pour their tears into our cupped hands, the perfect and only offering.  It was a night to feel the grief of losing our little boy two years ago.  And our voices cracked with deep sadness as we whispered the words of that same hymn, How Great Thou Art.  The strumming of the guitar could just barely hold up our fragile song.   

I felt it on the altar that afternoon in June so many years ago.  I felt it in our backyard that night in October.  The deepest places are an invitation to touch the holy.  And I wonder sometimes why it is that those moments of grief, of despair, feel like they are scraping right up against a mystery hinting of joy and peace.  How can it be that the same song, the same old, ancient hymn could cause a heart to bleed the same hot tears on the altar of marriage and at the service of remembrance?  I don’t know for sure why the wall between joy and grief feels at times more fragile than lace, with holes to peer through and catch a peak of the other side...

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Backpacks of Hope

It was a year ago that Help One Now launched its first Legacy Project.  The hope was to rally enough support to build a school in Haiti, a school with walls and books and trained teachers, a school led and run by Haitian leaders.  Today that school, Williamson Adrien Academy, is alive and thriving.

This year I am excited to be a part of Help One Now’s campaign by helping to spread the word about the Legacy Project for 2013, Backpacks of Hope.  The idea is simple:  partner with local leaders in Haiti, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia to offer students and children opportunity, education and hope.  These “backpacks” are not actual backpacks.  They simply represent the opportunity given to the children who will benefit from this project. 

The goal is to sell 1,000 “backpacks” at $100 each to split among six local leaders in these four countries.  The leaders will use the funds from Backpacks of Hope in unique ways to fit the needs of their communities.  For example, Pastor GaĆ©tan will open a computer lab and a well-stocked library. Pastor Jean-Alix will form a preschool. The preschool will allow older children to attend school instead of caring for their younger siblings.  Pastor John in Zimbabwe will construct a playground and expand the school’s kitchen to be able to serve even more children. 

The effects of Backpacks of Hope will be far-reaching.  And like most profound and impacting changes, they start with a simple step.  For more information, visit this website:  You will find ways to give, ways to become involved, and ways to spread the word.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent Blessing of Hope

May hope lead you to step into the dark this season of Advent.  When all around you, lights are blinking and new things are shining, shouting empty promises of relief, may you keep groping your way to find the star, searching for the real.  May the hope that your journey will bring you to witness new life keep you crawling to the cradle. 

And as you make your way, if you feel the twinge of loneliness invading your space of hopefulness,remember Elizabeth, whose womb was empty, whose time seemed to have passed.  Remember how she eventually felt the flutters of life inside of her, how she laughed with surprise.  May you prepare to be surprised as well.  That may be what hope looks like for you this Advent season, preparing to be amazed.  But may your preparation be quiet and simple, free of fuss and full of truth. 

When you do finally arrive at the place where you can see and feel and touch the one, true God entering into your darkness, light a candle and hold it up high.  Whisper to the others behind you to come and see that Love is here.  For there is hope indeed.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Drip, Drip, Drip

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We have had a flurry of birthdays to celebrate.

 This one turned 3.  

This one turned 5.  

And this one...knows true birth and full celebration.