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Iris Carignan Road to Tyrella
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The Classiest Reunion of All

Recently my husband and I went to my 50th high school class reunion. Although I graduated from a California school, the reunion was held in Las Vegas Nevada. At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. I hadn’t kept up with any of my classmates except for Margaret, who wasn’t able to attend. The only reunions I’d attended over the years were my 10th and 20th. It seemed that with both of those the only things anyone wanted to know about were things about profession, success and family size. Not that I had any objections to those things, but I wondered how much any of them truly mattered in God’s grand scheme. However, as I considered this big one, it seemed prudent that I attend. After all, it was likely there wouldn’t be another reunion after this. Surely it would be good to see if the professing Christians at the last reunion were still walking in faith and I wondered if any others had also come to salvation.  And, Okay I’ll confess there was one more reason I decided to go.

Admittedly, my own vanity raised its ugly head, as I considered this event. I felt a lot better about myself and my appearance, than I did in high school. Back then I was a very skinny freckle-faced kid with hard to manage natural curly hair. Teens can be cruel at times and some deep pain still lingered from those days. Now years later, my figure had filled-out fairly well, and my hair was a pretty blond coifed style. Plus, people say I look younger than most our age. I was curious to see if anyone would realize how much of an improvement there was since those gangly, awkward and difficult teenage years. Would my improved look make a difference? “Vanity of vanities…all is vanity” says the good “preacher” Solomon. But, maybe some of the hurts and wounds inflicted back then, could find restoration and reconciliation now. Besides, I reasoned, I’d found just the right dress – not too dressy, comfortable, and very cute.

The evening of the big event came. We entered the banquet hall and I scanned the room to see if anyone I remembered was there. Who are all those old people? I nearly blurted out loud.

It quickly became clear that it wasn’t going to be easy to recognize old acquaintances either. After wandering around the room trying to spot familiar faces to sit with, we gave up our futile efforts and simply chose a table that had spaces left. A few minutes after sitting, the gentleman to my right asked who I was. When I told him my name, a light of recognition struck his face; he stuck out his hand in greeting and with a big smile said his name – David. Suddenly, something in his bright eyes and sparkling expression broke through with great familiarity and recognition. It wasn’t long before we also discovered that both he and his wife were strong believers. Ironically, the other couple sitting at our table seemed familiar too, but it wasn’t until we started talking, and personalities came out, that we both recognized each other. Happily I learned they were also believers. He had come into faith several years after graduation.

Throughout the evening, it seemed that recognition mostly happened through expressions, personalities, and character. By the end of the event, I was able to connect with several friends and familiar classmates. Joyce, was a gal who had been in several of my art classes and she too had become a believer. She lived in a nearby town and we talked about getting together after the reunion. Another gal had struck me as familiar, but after introductions neither of us could remember knowing each other in school. It wasn’t until after the event that it we realized we had an even greater connection than school – the connection of Christ. Her name was Susie and she had since become a believer several years after graduation as well. No wonder her face shined with a certain joyous glow.

One week after my reunion, I received an email from Susie. She had noticed on the directory that I lived in her area and something I’d said made her wonder if we shared a common faith. We were able to get together for lunch a couple of weeks after the event. It was great to have this new Christian connection and share in spiritual matters of significance. As we sat having lunch, Susie shared that she had recently experienced an interesting church service. The pastor had asked the congregation to text him questions they had about heaven and eternal life. One of the questions regarded whether or not we would recognize friends and family when we get “up there.” I asked what he said and it was very much in line with what I believed according to scripture. Because we’ll have new bodies- “glorified bodies, ”when we get to heaven, I believe that it might take some time before we recognize each other when we. It would be somewhat similar to how it was after Jesus was resurrected from the grave and had his new body. People didn’t recognize him at first.

That was when it hit me “It will be a lot like that when we get to heaven,” I surmised. “Only we will hopefully all have younger, more beautiful bodies and faces.”

Ephesians 5:27 says: the church will be presented to Christ at His second coming “without spot or wrinkle.” And, much like our experience at the school reunion, it will take a while before we recognize each other in heaven. At the reunion, most of the time, the spark of recognition came as the individual’s personality and character showed through their eyes and expressions. That will also likely be the key to identification,—not our appearance.

Days after the reunion, I reflected further on what I’d observed. This time many were now interested in the things of the Lord instead of the things of this world. Of course there were exceptions, but at this reunion, thankfully, many had come to the realization that there was something and someone much more important in life than career, success and even family. And, in case you want to know, my own vain reasons for attending melted away too.

God’s word makes it very clear that we won’t bring any of those kinds of accomplishment with us into eternity. We won’t need to worry about impressing others in heaven with our clothes or figures. Nothing of material success, accomplishments, or even number of kids and grandkids will matter in eternity. The only things we’ll bring with us into heaven will be the attributes that God’s Holy Spirit have placed in our souls. And the only treasures we can attain there will be the spiritual treasures that we’ve built into eternity.

Not long after this event, my husband and I attended a 50th anniversary for Joni and Friends to honor our friend Joni Eareckson Tada. In many ways this was like a reunion for her as she reconnected with old friends and supporters. At the event I picked up one of her books, that I hadn’t yet read. It was Joni’s first book, “Joni, an Unforgettable Story”, and in it she talks about the kinds of things we’ll bring with us to heaven. “The only thing we can take with us to heaven,” she says, “is our character. Our character is all we have to determine what kind of a being we will be for all eternity. It’s what we are that will be tested by fire. Only the qualities of Christ in our character will remain.” (Chapter 15, page 174).

It also says in II Corinthians 4: 16 -18 (NIV), “Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day… So we fix our eyes not on what is seen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” II Corinthians 5 goes on to say that in heaven we will “be clothed with our heavenly dwelling. His Spirit was given to us as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come.” (NIV)

Wow! What a grand and hopeful word He has given us regarding our aging bodies. One day, we will have perfect, “heavenly clothes” to wear for eternity. Talk about the perfect dress!

Out of our large class of over 900, sadly about 143 were already deceased. Around 250 attended that night. I’m pretty sure that many of those who had passed away, never received the promised seal of salvation and a guarantee of a new and glorious body for all eternity. And so, much like my 50th, many of them won’t be attending that reunion either. I pray that many will be there and we can reconnect then. And, as Joni said, it will be the qualities and spirit of Christ in us that will shine through. It will be the good qualities of our personalities that were perfected by the Holy Spirit that will spark recognition when we get to that great eternal reunion. So, it may take awhile before we recognize each other in that great and classiest reunion of all, but we’ll have all of eternity to figure it out. And what a celebration that will be.

My husband and I at another kind of reunion—the 50th anniversary of Joni and Friends

A Blessing Indeed

It is good to celebrate together

         with friends and is a blessing indeed.

But even greater still to lift one another

         with helps and good deeds.

 

And when undergirded with prayer,

         ‘tis a chord of strength,

reaching from here to there.

Iris Carignan, 2015 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Heavenly Voices

As someone who has always loved music and occasionally belts out a ballad or two, the idea of singing praises to God for eternity hits a good note with me. Recently a discussion came about at a Bible study I attend. We were talking about worship and praise and someone commented that she thought only singing was true worship. Now, truly we know that music and singing is a predominant way of worshiping our Lord. But, I protested, I believe there are also other ways we can worship Him. One way is through our service, another is in our prayers and sometimes it’s just by being quiet and still, listening to His quiet voice. Besides, I said, there are lots of folks who can’t carry a tune and their singing would be more of a loud clanging to the ears of the Lord, not to mention a little distracting to others. No! My friend protested. Singing is the only true way to worship. Not wanting to be argumentative I conceded that I sometimes sing in the wrong key and my own husband occaionally hits an incorrect note or two while singing praises, yet, I’m sure it blesses the Lord that he sings from his heart.

Later that day, I remembered something from an experience several years earlier. My family and I were in Israel on a tour with our pastor and 48 others. At some point during our site-seeing we all gathered inside a simple little chapel named “St. Anne’s.” Other travelers entered and sat alongside bringing the number to about 90 or so. Our guide, Gila, a very knowledgeable and gifted Jewish woman, joined us inside as well.

We all began to sing simple praise songs to the Lord and in that moment it seemed a miracle happened. The sound of our praise rose up to the ceiling and beyond the walls of the chapel. Our voices seemed to be transformed into an angelic concert to the Lord. Now, I’m quite sure that there were at least a handful of people in that chapel who weren’t “gifted” in the area of singing, yet this was the most beautiful singing I’d ever heard. And I’ve heard lots of beautiful music in my life and participated in several excellent choirs. Then, I glanced over at our guide Gila. Tears were glistening in her eyes. She too, was clearly touched and perhaps like the rest of us sensed that we had experienced a glimpse of what heaven was like.

So, as I pondered that experience, it occurred to me that perhaps our heavenly experience will be a lot like that time at St Anne’s chapel. When we enter that heavenly cathedral, the miraculous acoustics will carry our worshipful songs throughout God’s vast and glorious throne room. In that moment we will all have angelic voices that beautifully praise and worship the Lord for all eternity- whether or not we have musical talent here on earth. So therefore, it’s probably a good idea to at least start practicing down here till that day comes, no matter how “off” we may sound sometimes.

Stained glass window in the Rijksmuesum in Amsterdam

photographed by Iris Carignan 2016

 

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His Immeasurable Love

They call states like Montana and Wyoming God’s country and fittingly so. After spending two weeks in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, my husband and I were awe-struck with the beauty God displays there. His creation wraps itself around every road’s bend, spills down every waterfall into rivers and lakes below. The rivers rush onward aiming to quench its demanding and lush thirst to full satisfaction. This carpet of green is laid snug and held firmly with boulders and spiky pines that seem to nail it down purposefully.

The big sky above calls down to earth below with soft whispers of wind and clouded blues, cooling shadows and sunlit joy. As an ark for the wildlife, it encompasses every want and need they have. The google-eyed tourists trespass and disturb with frequent interference in this kind of Shang-re-la or land of Eden.

The mountains are God’s most awesome and majestic diamonds on display. With every bend of the winding road ascending up these gargantuan creations, the mountains shine a new facet of God’s amazing creative powers that are impossible to ignore. Romans 1:20 says it well: “For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts…”

Stopping alongside the high road to see a grand view that seems to stretch on forever with amazing heights and depths, my breath is caught short. Gazing out to the expansive vistas, my heart cries out to Him with words that fall far short in astonishment. No stupefaction. He echoes back with His word: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:17, NIV).

His love truly is immeasurable and His creation illustrates it with such splendor.

Iris Carignan, July 2016

 

six steps to painting a picture
Blog, Poetry

But For The Joy…

Spring is nearly here and Easter is just around the corner. It is my favorite time of year. As color blooms its way through the rain softened ground and emerges with new life, we can’t help but sense the hope that springs forth with it. As our eyes behold the beauty that has been hidden for months, we realize just how dull things have looked for a while. But do we think about the struggle each plant went through just to make it into the light again?

Recently, while on my usual morning walk, something caught my eye. A tiny palm tree was growing through the black asphalt of our street. The little seedling was only three inches high. As impressive as its fortitude was, the shadow that it cast was even more interesting because of its shape – a cross. The irony struck immediately with clear meaning. This pint-sized plant seemed to forecast a reminder from the past. It stood proudly proclaiming the former glory of its use on a day of celebration – Palm Sunday and the Triumphal entry of the Messiah into Jerusalem. Its baby leaves stretched towards the sunlight like the loving arms of our Lord and their shadow predicting the coming crucifixion. It almost seemed that it was doing its best to compensate for the turn-about of events that occurred shortly after. What had begun with a joyous celebration and laying of palm branches as a carpet for the coming king had quickly turned to cursing, condemnation and hanging on a tree.

Seeing the enduring strength of this baby plant triumph over the stubborn hardness of asphalt spoke to my soul. Its victory over struggle, beautifully modeled the pain, suffering and resistance Jesus experienced even prior to the cross. The fresh purity of this infant tree reminded me that Jesus didn’t have the most hospitable environment from the moment of His birth in a manger to his last days on earth.

Hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, the prophet Isaiah foretold the messiah and his suffering. Isaiah 53 most amazingly prophesied the Messiah as one who “grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. …He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering….Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted… But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

The words of Isaiah prepare our hearts for all kinds of trials in life. They are God’s amazing testimony to the foreshadowed plan of redemption that He knew must occur. When we read all of Isaiah 53 alongside the Easter story, it helps our eyes focus and our ears tune to any and all signs that He has prepared for us as reminders of His love and sacrifice. It may even be a tiny palm tree.

In celebration of Easter many of us will don new spring clothes as if joining nature in its re-birth. We’ll sing praises to our Lord who demonstrated His holiness by rising from the grave. We can shout and sing for joy at this amazing miracle and its redemptive promise, but Hebrews 12:2 also reminds us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, …who for the joy set before him endured the cross…” Even Jesus needed to see beyond the immediate suffering and look to the joy that lay ahead.

If you find yourself going through a season of struggle, look to the victory that brings us hope and to the victor who brought it – Jesus.

 

THE GREATEST JOY By Iris Carignan

The greatest joy is to come alone,

To the Lord of Hosts,

Who removed the stone.

 

And the greatest peace can be found in prayer,

When you come to Him in Solitaire.

 

For He comes to those who abide in Him,

And He rolls the stone,

Away from sin!

 

Happy Easter to All!

I hope you will subscribe to my blog at the bottom of this post and also make a comment.

 

Blog, Poetry

Neglecting the Signs

Hebrews 13:2, Hebrews 12:12-13, Hebrews 13:16

How many times have we all found ourselves driving along a road or highway daydreaming and in an instant we lose sight of where we are or where we are going? We’ve all missed a sign or turn and took an unplanned route as a result of our inattention. Our own personal distractions, foggy spiritual focus as well as the storms of life can take us off our life path or cause us to miss out on blessings waiting along the way.

It was just such a day about 30 years ago, when my own languid response to an opportunity resulted in a missed blessing and years of regret. I was at a choir rehearsal that evening and the director realized that we needed more copies of the music we were learning. Our pianist, the pastor’s wife, and I, volunteered to go down to the church office to get the needed copies.

The sun was setting and a light rain had begun to fall as we entered the office that evening. Finished with our business and the light turned off, we stepped out into the garden path. Then,startling our exit, several strangers approached us. All of them were dressed in biblical-looking attire. One came closer and introduced himself as a fellow believer and “traveler.” He asked if the church might have a room where they could rest for the night and be sheltered from the rain. I started to respond positively but was quickly cut short by my companion. “We don’t have the authority for that,” she responded. Of course being the pastor’s wife she did indeed have the authority, but was obviously timid to allow strangers into church property.

It doesn’t take authority,” the young man said “It just takes heart!” The strangers walked away briskly and we stared at each other with pricked consciousness.

“Maybe we could let them sleep in the early childhood room where there’s a bathroom,” she revised.

Sure,” I said and immediately we set out to find them and give our hospitable good news. They couldn’t have been out of our sight for more than a few seconds, yet as we rounded the other side of the building in their direction, they were nowhere to be seen. They had simply vanished. There were no other structures nearby possibly hiding the conspicuously dressed group and no crowds of people to blend in with, yet we could not see them anywhere.

Looking at each other in wonder and dismay, words failed and expressions revealed our obvious regret and curiosity of the blessing we both missed that night. We had forgotten to entertain strangers and likely missed out on “entertaining angels.” Perhaps there is no correlation to this event, but it was only a few years later that the church closed its doors.

Can you imagine the regret the innkeepers had for turning away Mary and Joseph that serendipitous night? After learning later of the special birth they missed, it must have pierced their hearts with remorse. Some no doubt never put it together, or made excuses for their harshness and unsympathetic refusal of a room. We can only surmise that many may have realized their mistake and lived with long regrets for the blessing missed. Who knows, but perhaps some of the Inns may have even gone out of business consequently. Hebrews 13:2 shines a light on the importance of attentiveness and brotherly love along life’s highway. “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”

STAR OF WONDER

Star of wonder

Star of night

Lead us with thy splendor.

Guide us through the dead of night

And make our way much clearer.

Wish I may and wish I might

Find my way to thee.

Holy one of His delight

David’s prophesy.

Star of wonder,

Star of night,

Little lambs are bleating.

They can hear a shepherd’s voice

Tiny though it be-e.

Angels they have heard on high

And they wonder too,

Will you be a lucky star,

And make our wish come true?

By Iris Carignan 2009

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In His Time

Recently I was praying about my busy schedule and I asked God to help me sort it all out. It was all good stuff… things that honored Him. Most everything on my schedule involved Godly activities for His glory. One particular responsibility was our small group Bible study. My husband and I host and lead a study for about 16 people. We take turns doing the teaching and it was my turn to teach that particular week. I could feel the tension building in my back muscles as I contemplated how I would find time to do it. I went to prayer and asked God to help me know what to drop or help me have more energy to do them all. This tired old body of mine ain’t what it used to be. Then I asked a very bold and crazy thing- I actually asked Him to give me more time to do them. It just sorta slipped out in the same breath.

A short while later I began preparing the lesson needed for our home Bible study. After what seemed like a few hours of prep, I glanced at the clock thinking it was probably getting late and I’d need to get to bed soon. To my amazement only 30-40 minutes had passed and I still had plenty of time left before the clock struck midnight and I turned into a pumpkin. I continued on with the study prep and finished in record time.

It’s hard to describe just how much it felt like time actually slowed down for me that night, without sounding like an idiot. But it sure seemed like it. Then, just because He is that kind of father, He gave me some more miraculous moments the next day. He woke this “night owl” up sharply at 6 am the following morning. Not only did I wake earlier than usual, I felt completely rested and ready to go. The study went well and the rest of my week continued to feel relaxed. Praise God for His mercies and peace.

Philippians 4: 6&7 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

As we enter into the holiday season, no doubt many of us will be feeling stress over added duties. I pray that we will all remember to give them over to the Lord with thanksgiving our hearts.

 

Blog, Poetry

Purple to the Rescue

The virtuous woman as described in Proverbs 31 is commonly set forth as a standard for Christian women and has always been a favorite of mine. While I fall sorely behind meeting that standard in many ways-especially the part about rising before dawn, one characteristic is especially fitting for me- the love of the color purple. In verse 22 it says: “She makes tapestry for herself: her clothing is fine linen and purple.” Long before I became a woman, purple was my favorite color. In fact it actually came to my rescue, once, saving me from a bully.

For me the middle school years, (Junior high as we called it then) were the most tumultuous part of growing up. Dealing with the daunting new responsibility of several classes, remembering locker combinations and battling emerging hormones, was a walk in the park next to the stress of peer pressures. To say I was a scrawny little kid was putting it kindly. Those of us who hadn’t yet caught up with the leaders of the pack-the already well endowed, beautiful and popular girls-faced a double dose of intimidation. Just about the time I felt secure in finding a best friend, another friend stepped in with divisive betrayal. They both turned against me with cutting and hurtful words that pierced deep into my spirit. So when a bully began taunting me too, it was almost more than I could handle.

Bullies didn’t just appear in the 21st century, they’ve been around a long time and mine was the girl who happened to have a locker next to mine in P.E. One of the other dreaded experiences of middle school was the embarrassing predicament of changing clothes and showering next to strangers. These revealing close quarters apparently ignited a rage of hatred towards me that was without merit. Every opportunity she had, this bully would taunt and intimidate me. One such day caught me “up-to-here” with her ugly threats.

I got in her face and told her if she didn’t stop bothering me, she would be sorry because, “I know karate.” Of course it was an unfounded threat, a bluff. About all I knew regarding karate was what I’d seen in movies and television. She immediately called my bluff.

“Oh yeah! What color belt do you have?” she challenged me.

My mind scrambled furiously for the right response to the punch she threw my way.

(Apparently there were multiple karate belt colors-who knew back then?)

“Purple,” I shouted back confidently, (while praying that belt color even existed in karate).

Turning from raging red to ghostly pale, the bully’s face revealed my well-placed blow had hit square on. She shrank back in retreat. Apparently, I’d chosen just the right color level-not too high-not too low to be a convincing foe.

The bully girl in the locker room never bothered me again. So, that was the day the color purple came to my rescue. Now, years later as a grown woman, I see in Proverbs 31:24 that the virtuous woman also “makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.” In verse 25 it goes on to say, “strength and honor are her clothing.” A sash is a kind of belt typically worn in Biblical days. How ironic I thought, as this scripture spoke to me today in new ways. I also wonder if the belts she provided for the merchants gave them a sense of confidence and strength as they faced the challenges of the marketplace while selling their wares. Some of them may have been purple too.

Ephesians 6:11-14 affirms that the underlying true belt that girds us against the enemy is God’s word. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil….Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,…” As you go out into the world today, be sure you have put a belt of truth around your waist, because you never know what kind of devilish bully may challenge you.

RAIN UPON IRON

Like rain upon iron,

Rejection produces rust.

And injustice withers the spirit,

If in you, we do not trust.

Temper me like steel, oh Lord.

Let my soul become wise.

Bring your mercies to my door,

And justice to my eyes.

Open the visions of my soul,

To the working of your hand.

Let it see your perfect will,

And only on you, stand.

Rejection once rained on you,

And still it does today.

Injustice tried to conquer too,

But redemption had its way.

You were despised and betrayed.

Great sorrow yet embraced.

And so much more,

You suffered for,

To bring us all your grace.

Iris Carignan 2015

 

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Muddy Paths

Any artist who paints knows that there is one color you never want to put in your painting and that is mud. Now this isn’t a color you can buy in a tube or jar, it is really a non-color, but actually what has been dubbed as “mud” when too many of the wrong colors have been mixed together and end up looking very much like it’s descriptive name.

With life, we also see that the temptation to mix a little lie with the truth can lead to trouble and muddy up our life. We read in Genesis 3:13 of how Satan tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. If you read it carefully, you’ll see that much of what he said to her was the truth. He just mixed in a little lie or two, and colored the truth with distortions. These lies mixed with the beauty of the fruit were just enough to convince Eve to sin. Jesus referred to Satan as the “father of lies” (John 8:44) and says that telling lies is consistent with who he is and always has been.

We continue to see evidence of the evil one’s influence in our society today. Unfortunately, too many Christians don’t know the truth well enough to spot a lie when it’s there. We may be so impressed with the beautiful color that has been painted that we buy into the lie.

In Psalm 7:14 it says, “the wicked conceive evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies. They dig a deep pit to trap others, then fall into it themselves”. One of the most frequently used methods of deception is repetition of a mistruth. Many businesses and organizations whose motives are less than honorable have used this technique effectively to influence large segments of our society. They have discovered that if they tell a lie often enough, loud enough and to enough people, it will be believed.

How can we best sort through all of the information that bombards our minds and souls every day? Is there any way we can truly find the truth about important moral, ethical and spiritual values? For centuries the Bible has been the one consistent source of truth that has withstood time, societal and cultural changes. In it we read that we can ask God to give us the gift of discernment to help us distinguish the truth from a lie. We also read that the author and finisher of our faith in God’s truth never changes, for it says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

 

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A Surprising Perspective

As our plane approached LAX on the evening of our return from a vacation, a large number of passengers began making o-o-oh sounds. I glanced out my window and saw a most amazing and surprising sight – fireworks exploding everywhere for miles. It was an awesome and most interesting perspective of our nation’s birthday celebration for the 4th of July. Of course I have seen many fireworks displays over the year, but never from a heavenly perspective.

I couldn’t help but wonder at that point, what God thinks and feels as He looks down from His throne not only at the colorful splashes of glittering fireworks in California, but all across our nation’s skies. Does it make him joyous to see us celebrating our blessings and heritage or does He weep over the vain partying of a nation that has strayed so far from the faith it was founded on?

A week later, after sharing this experience with some Christian friends, they told us of a recent experience they’d had while on vacation in Belgium. It was not for the 4th, but for another most important event’s commemoration. Our friends, Larry and Beccy told us how they were in a restaurant with a large picture window near their table. Suddenly they began to see dozens of fireworks shooting into the sky. They learned that it was an annual celebration of the end of WWII. They also found out that at midnight the colorful display would end; the whole city would go totally dark and silent in reverent remembrance of all who lost their lives during that horrible war. Now that sounded like a well-balanced and meaningful commemoration.

We all like to celebrate and some of us look for the smallest reason to throw a party. I wonder, though, how much of what we do for holiday celebrations like Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter etc., actually expresses or produces appreciation and reverence for the true meanings.

The Israelites also had many festivals and feasts to commemorate Godly events in their lives. Often times they were also instructed by God to set markers of stone in certain places to help them remember His leading,blessing and protection. Sometimes they also built altars for sacrifice as commemoration. A friend of mine who endured terrible abuse all her life from her own mother, recently purchased a heart-shaped stone with words on it to help her remember God’s love and path for her life.

As tender creations, I believe all of humanity craves joyous reflecting on even the most horrendous events which have affected their lives. It gives them a sense of hope in the midst of sad remembrances. it sets a marker for a new and better path for the future. Do you need to set a marker of hope to look toward when trouble threatens to steal away your joy? Remember that our Lord has a godly perspective on things. Ask Him to give you His vision for you in the circumstances. Psalm 121:1-2 says: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills-from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Painting Title: “Yellow Tree- a Bird’s Eye View”

Blog, Poetry

Freedom’s Never Free

There is a land

Of which I’m certain

Is a land of the brave and free.

It was built by our great fathers,

Built for you and built for me.

It wasn’t born without a trial,

Nor did it happen easily.

The men who died

To bring us freedom

Gave their lives for you and me.

So when you stand and see old glory,

Or when you sit by the shining sea,

Just think of all that came before it

And that freedom ‘s never free.

 

To look ahead to our great future

This land I love

Must see the past,

For it was there

Our nations’ history

The great foundation’s built to last.

It is a land of strength and power

With its’ roots of faith and peace.

It is a land of great resources

A land of opportunity.

So when you stand and see Old Glory

Or when you sit by the shining sea,

Just think of all that went before it,

And that freedom ‘s never free.

Words and Music by Iris Carignan 7/4/ 2014