Saturday, November 24, 2012

At Autumn's End


Jerri's Hope: Finding Hope in Season's End

At Autumn’s End

The last of the leaves cling to the trees,
brown with hints of yellows and reds.
Winter’s bite is in the breeze
tiny animals make their frozen beds.

I walk with my face pressing
into the cold of the dawning day
and wonder if the spoken and unspoken fears
have come into our hearts to stay.

Frozen hours lie before us
it is not yet December, and there is snow.
I share the concern for times ahead,
for the future is not ours to know.

All mothers wish for days of joy
along the paths of their children’s lives.
Sometimes there are valleys with shadows looming,
and we pray on those days....mothers, wives.

We learn the most in uncertainty,
We comfort ourselves with false control
Faith is the price of abiding peace
when the nights are long and the gray clouds roll.

By Jerri A. Harrington

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What is Wrong With America?  Finding Hope in Facing the Truth

         "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

      Last week, after the election, I was sent an article that upset me very much, not because I believed it was revolutionary or prophetic, but because there was little truth in it, and no hope.  Maybe some of you received the same email.  It said that America died on November 6, 2012, and the implication was that Democracy didn't work in America, because we re elected Barack Obama.  The election was long, and the campaign was brutal, but it wasn't because of the politicians.  It was because of the passion of the American people, and what was it that drove us to a voting frenzy the likes of which we have not seen in years?  
      Was it our desire to leave our children in stable households where parents are devoted to one another for life?  Obviously not, the divorce rate in this country is nearing 80% even among Christians.  And, really, is it our concern for the poor?  Maybe a few people voted out of their concern for the poor, but America, the money the candidates must spend to convince America to push a button, check a box or poke a chad would go a long way in housing and feeding our poor.  Friends,most of us voted out of fear, and that fear was not of terrorism, it was the fear of an empty pocketbook, an empty retirement account and a crashing stock market, and the sad truth is,the answer to those fears does not rest in the hands of the Republicans, the Democrats, Mitt Romney, or even President Obama.  And they are not to blame.  America, we are to blame, and the answer lies in turning back to God.  
     The problem is, we are a nation of excess, and we want our excess now!  It should be plain to us.  The number one health crisis in our country in all of our generations is obesity.  I have been overweight since I was a small child.  Yes, there are genetic factors, and yes there are metabolism issues...mine is far too efficient with calories.  But I still eat too much for my body.  The same is true with our consumerism in this country.  We spend too much for our economy.  We have been spending money we don't actually have in our pockets for far too long.
     I teach immigrants English, and the stories I hear from my students are sad and ludicrous.  Most of them come to this country, hoping for a life of freedom, and they are happy to be here, and willing to work hard.  But some of them come here thinking they will find money lying in the streets, stacked up on the street corners.  Their families are shocked to find they are not able to send money back home in baskets.  Why do they think that about America?  Because Americans spend money like we own the world!
     I remember my grandparents.  My grandmother had a few dresses, and my grandfather had his weekday overalls and his Sunday suit.  They were pretty typical.  We have come a long way from there.  Most of us have more clothes than we will ever wear.  Every season our church gives away several rooms full of  clothing from the excesses in our closets.  Probably some of it is still being paid for in our monthly credit card payments. 
     Consider the state of our families.  What are we teaching our children?  We are teaching them that what we "own" is more important than who we are.  We get married, and we promise to love one another until death do us part, or, maybe we promise "as long as we both shall love" or some such non-committal commitment.  We have lists of requirements for the "soul mate" for which we search, but when we find Mr. Or Ms. Right, we don't stop looking.  We want more of everything, and we give little without expecting...oh, everything on a silver platter.  We promise to love, and we ridicule. Women ridicule men for being different from women, but what woman really wants a womanly man?  
      Men want their wives to know what they want when they don't even know what they want or need themselves.  Women want their men to take control and lose control at the same time.  We all want too much!  We are teaching our children to expect too much and leaving them a legacy of want, because they will never succeed in meeting all of their own expectations.  We cannot have everything!
      What do we do now, in this country?  In our hearts, we know the answer.  We ask for forgiveness....down on our knees to our Creator, who we know we have sinned against.  We give up our idolatry of excess, and we repent of our sins....against Him, against each other and against our children.  We Christians are supposed to understand repentance.  We have been doing a lot of blaming and precious little owning up to our own responsibility.   I read a lot of mourning the morning following the election.   No matter who takes over the office of President, the answers do not lie in him.  If our democracy lives or if it dies, it will not be the fault or to the credit of any administration, any party or any one person.  God can make our democracy live.  We can destroy it with our own greed.  We are a nation of many blessings, bought at the price of the blood of our ancestors, and we are walking around on the excess debt we created ourselves.  Jesus said in Luke 12:15, "Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  That is our problem, America.  Our future does not lie in the abundance of our possessions, but in Jesus.  And Him alone.  We must repent of our excess!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Finding Hope in God's Peace

Peace In the Face of Rage

In You we find peace in the midst of the storm
While faces of rage burn in our minds,
for their hatred of us is their hatred of You,
and You’ve promised victory  is not far behind!

“Those who live by the sword will die by it too!”
Wise  words of Your Son still hold true
As we appeal to You, Father,  to guide us through life,
You call us to the peace that’s in You!

A people most of us never have known
Through technology  send images of hate
Blood, fire and anguish thrust murderous mobs
crashing through Embassy gates!

Motivated by Satan, so evil and dark
Fueled by his lust for death
Destruction and hatred wreak punishing blows
and innocents gasp their final breaths.

How long, our Father, O how long
will evil reign harsh in this world?
How long will Your Name be blasphemed about
and your saints to torturous deaths be hurled?

“Those who live by the sword will die by it too!”
Wise  words of Your Son still hold true!
As we appeal to You, Father,  to guide us through life,
You call us to the peace that’s in You!

By Jerri Sisk Harrington

Sept. 14, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hope in the Generosity of the Love of the Father.

     I have been thinking about the brothers in the Prodigal son story.  The temptation is to distance ourselves from the younger son, the immoral one.  It's easy to understand why we do that.  His request to claim his inheritance even before his father died, was outrageous.  In essence, he was looking forward to the death of his father, and couldn't even wait to get his hands on his stuff!  Then he wasted it all on immoral living, allowing himself to wallow in the mud with the pigs.  He scorned his status as a beloved son, and gave himself away to immorality and base living, ending up eating with the pigs.  It's no wonder the older brother stood with his mouth gaping in indignation,  as his father ran out to greet his brother, who returned begging to just be a lowly servant.  We can feel the older brother's frustration as the father lavished rings and food on the son who had broken his heart.  After all, the older brother had been there as the father mourned the departure of the younger son.  He had helped pick up the pieces of the family, only to watch his father give his heart away once more to the son who had not only deeply disrespected him, but had wasted the riches the father had worked hard to accumulate.  What was happening there?  Did the father love the younger son more than the older, stable son, who had always stood by his side.
     Why did Jesus tell us the story of the two brothers?  Is it because Christian parents often lose one of their children to the influences and deceit of worldly pleasure?  I don't think it is of any comfort to share that kind of misery.  What loving parent would fail to shudder at the thought of watching a beloved child disappear into the horizon of a most certain disastrous fall?  There is no joy in watching the grief of another parent, even in a parable.
     Jesus knows  that we humans rise to dangerous heights and  then endure dangerous falls , up and down on the whims of envy and self promotion.  In other words, we are both sons.  There is great hope in that realization.  Much of criticism that is directed at Christians centers around our propensity to set ourselves up as God, judging the minds, actions and hearts of those we deem "less than" ourselves.  I didn't give a lot of forethought to the Chik Filet hoopla last week.  I respect the restaurant's policy of closing on Sundays so that their employees have the opportunity to worship on Sundays.  I also agree with the definition of traditional families; although, just like young people consider their friends part of their extended family, we cannot control how others define family.  I have not read in the Bible that defining family is our job.   I do value our 1st amendment right of freedom of speech,  but sometimes we should just keep our mouths shut, until we figure out what we really should be saying.  The Bible says we should flee sexual sin, and we must.  We may have circled our wagons around Chik Filet, but I haven't seen too many computers kicked to the curb, even though Jesus said that lusting after someone is adultery.  We paint others' sin in the blackest black while we meander around in our "shades of gray".
      Jesus summarized the law in two commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and the second, like the first,  love your neighbor as yourself."  So Jesus said loving our neighbors is "like" loving God.  Jesus said that we would be known as Christians by our love for one another.
      Whether we find ourselves in a faraway land, heading home and being welcomed by our loving Father, or we have never strayed from Him, working as One with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, only to be overshadowed by the dramatic transforming work He is doing in others, we must abide in love, considering others more important than ourselves, seeking to serve rather than be served, and living as beloved children of our Heavenly Father.  Therein is our home, where He greets His children and  has blessed us all with abundant life.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hope in Prayer and Petition

"Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

      I get so tired from worrying!  Don't you?  I have so much to do everyday, and I have so much I want to do that I never get around to beginning.  My life is tick tick ticking away, and I fritter away the hours, doing what?  Painting a  Writing a best-seller?  not one.  Hugging my grandson?  Well, yeah, but I'm only with him a few hours  a week.  Hugging my hubby?  When we aren't both too tired.  Cleaning the house!?  Have you been to my house?  No.  Well, then...yeah, cleaning my house.  HA!
      No,  just like many of you, I worry away the hours.  That is such a waste of time you might think, and you would be right.  But you don't know my worries.  They are much more productive than yours.  Of course they are!  And, because I have put in so much time worrying, I have added exactly....0 years to my life.  In fact, I may have subtracted a few.
      Oh, I pray!  I ask God to heal, seal, cinch a deal.  I ask Him to intervene, make me clean, make me the greatest writer the world has ever seen.  But what does He mean when He says, "Have no anxiety...." ??  Doesn't He see the traffic in Northern Virginia?  If He does, then it is reasonable to assume that the emergency vehicles I hear, could, at any moment, be rushing to the rescue of any number of my family members, who no doubt need their mother, wife, grandmother, friend at their side to miraculously heal them with her prayers.  So I spend a lot of my time praying without breathing, waiting for the sound of a key in the lock, or the "Hello." on the other end of the phone. What if I forget to pray for someone?  God is still God, and He sees when a sparrow falls out of the sky.   Have no anxiety.
       But in everything....   What things are too small to bring before the throne of God?  Well....nothing.  I had a friend tell me not to pray for help with our finances, because the God of the universe does not have time to balance my checkbook.  That's a tidbit of advice I have many times wished I had ignored.  What if we had consulted God before we made a purchase...or, in the case of buying a house, before we chose NOT to make a purchase.   God would have helped us make wiser decisions, and the military would have bought a house for us!.
      What things are too big to ask God to accomplish?  Again...not a thing..  Yes, God can bring peace.  He can divert an asteroid from the earth.  In fact, we are hurtling through space at speeds we are better off not knowing about, dodging all kinds of cosmic bullets, and God handles all of that like a conductor effortlessly drawing beautiful music out of a group of highly trained musicians. Can God make a purse out of a sow's ear?  It depends on what he has purposed for the sow's ear, but yes, He can.  And if He doesn't want the sow's ear to become a purse, it will forever be a sow's ear. Why would a sow's ear want to be a purse anyway?
    We would be forever grateful if we truly trusted God to take care of whatever it is that is causing us anxiety.  What if you never had to worry about your health...even if you have cancer....or any other chronic disease.  What if you believed God had it all you could be cured, paying for the hospital bills?  Do you think the doctors would notice?  Do you think the world would notice.  Don't worry about becoming a city built on a hill...or the salt of the earth.  We will shine like a city set on a hill and speak like our words are seasoned with salt when we allow God to be God and thank Him in advance for taking care of all of our concerns in life. And then, after thanking Him in advance, we make our requests known to Him.
      Of course, He already knows our requests.  So why do we still need to ask?  I don't know, but I know I need to ask. Because it is only after thanking him and making my requests known that I can have peace.
       And, after all is said and done, isn't the peace "that passes all understanding" exactly what everyone is striving for in life, with all of the work, all of the worry, all of the searching?   Peace.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hope in Facing Giants

God told Moses to send some men to go spy in the land of Canaan that God had given the Israelites. Moses always obeyed God, so he sent out twelve men, among whom were Joshua and Caleb. The land was rich and full of produce, and all of the spies reported this to Moses, but ten of the men also stirred up the people by predicting certain defeat at the hand of "giants" that lived in the land. God knew those giants were there, of course, but He wasn't concerned about them. Neither were Joshua or Caleb. Numbers 13 says Caleb silenced the naysayers by saying to Moses,"We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." Numbers 13:30

Are you facing any giants? Are there naysayers predicting your inevitable defeat if you take them on? God knows those giants are there. He isn't concerned.
Most of the time, the real giant we face is the naysayer inside of us, battling for the soul. Don't listen to that Liar, for "the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." 1John 4:4

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hope in Aging, in Spite of Illness--the Great Physician!

Well, this week has been full of surprises!
On Monday, Don and I had dentist appointments, and neither of us had any more appointments for six months!  What a blessing after a year of  two crowns and root canal!

 The "thing" we have been waiting to happen with our son Nathan seems to be on the horizon, so we are singing some praises over here! If you don't already know what the "thing" is...believe me it is huge, and we are thankful....including Nathan!

 Lisa got some wonderful news, which still has me smiling and thanking God!!  Her PET scan on Tuesday was a "hair away from absolutely normal", and she is only halfway through her chemo!!  Praise God!  She had a challenging chemo on Thursday, but by yesterday she was feeling great!  That has to be God's healing Hands!!

Thursday I had my appointment with my diabetes specialist.  She gave me not great news in the best way possible, and by the end of my appointment, I was feeling like it was no big deal to be on insulin all day long!  It turned out to be a bit more challenging than I thought...yesterday was my first day.  I had a day of highs and normals, but by evening the thought of food made me almost run for the bathroom!  I went to bed completely exhausted.  But today is a new day, and my morning blood sugar was much better.

Entering the Sunset Years!
Last but maybe not least....I will be wearing glasses for the first time in my life.  I was thankful to have only a tiny diabetic change in the back of my right eye....a tiny speck of a hemorrhage , which we have to "keep an eye on".... pun intended!  But the reason I was seeing blurry which caused my diabetes specialist to request an immediate eye examination, was not diabetic retinopathy...but the worsening of my vision, requiring me to start wearing glasses.  At least I'm not in bifocals yet.  I asked Don to make sure he isn't the kind of guy who "won't make passes" if this old girl wears glasses!  He asked if I had "looked" at him lately?  lol!  (He has a collection of all strengths of glasses and a contact!)  I love my husband.  I might even stop coloring my hair and we can start really growing old together!

Well, we have to live up to our titles, EeeEee and DooDah!  We are 57....old age?  Bring it on!  We have a Great Physician, and the end is better than the beginning!  Hope!