Broken Chains

Oh, the inspiration and the irony. The past few days have been full of both. Normandy, France, was to me…a piece of history. That is…until yesterday when I experienced this place of beauty and blood-stained sand–where a decade before I was born something happened that continues to affect my life today.


I reflected on the lives of the young men and boys who landed on those pristine beaches over 70 years ago at the “beginning of the end” of World War II. I watched  videos of survivors describe that fateful day when many of their “band of brothers” fell. Preserved in a museum, their belongings tell their stories. I heard those stories, told and untold. My heart felt sad, full, grateful, and inspired as I walked among the 10,000 white crosses commemorating men whose bodies never made it home. I saw name after name of men who once lived and walked as I imagined the futures they never lived. In my mind’s eye I saw the tears their families cried. They fought for my liberation and I left inspired. 20150428_122259

As irony would have it, today I am in Berlin, Germany–once home to “the enemy.”  I greeted two of my friends and colleagues, one who is German and one who is French. My French friend shared that his father-in-law, who lives in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, where the bloody D-Day battle was fought, was sixteen years old when the invasion came. Tears welled in his eyes as he spoke of stories his father-in-law had shared with him. I needed to hear those stories…to learn of the past that changed my present and future. 20150427_161849

My mind goes back to a sculpture in Sainte-Mere-Eglise that stirred my soul. It’s entitled, “The Day They Came.”  20150427_110537 (1)Once-chained hands reach upward..but the chains depicted were broken chains.

As a women’s minister I am often with fellow Christians. I spend time teaching and listening…and learning. I marvel at ways I see God at work. This past Sunday was a glorious and historic day in Paris, as four elders were appointed in the growing, loving, and lively church there. That same week four Parisians (college, high school, single, and adult) experienced “broken chains” as they were baptized into Christ. Tomorrow I will be with numerous Europeans while we learn from the Bible during the Spring gathering of the European Bible School. The fellowship will be sweet and the bonds tight. Cooperation and unity will continue to be forged–as they are essential for showing Jesus to the continent. French, German, British, Canadian, American, and more…all will be there–united in purpose and filled with deep and meaningful love for each other. This is all because many years ago someone came and paid the price required to break the chains of our own (my own) pride, selfishness, and everything else opposing God’s loving plan.

I’m reminded of the words of President Reagan at the 40th anniversary celebration of D-Day.”If we forget what we did, we forget who we are.”  In the spiritual realm (which is the part of us that can’t be buried under a tombstone) I’d change one word.  “If we ever forget what HE did, we forget who we are.”

And that’s the truth. The sculpture of the broken chains would read…”The Day He Came.”

That day changed everything…and he is still the only who can break the personal chains that embitter and enslave us…and the social chains of hate, prejudice,and entitlement that separate us. We are all level at the foot of the cross of Jesus.  If we ever forget what he did, we forget who we are.

We aren’t meant to be chained. We are loved, valued…and because of his amazing grace…worth his unthinkable sacrifice. Thank God for broken chains.

Tomorrow, as I stand arm-in-arm with dear friends, fellow workers, spiritual brothers and sisters–my allies.,.the ground will be level, as it is always is at the foot of the cross. I will stand grateful for what Jesus did. Because of that, I know who I am.

“Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” as arranged by Chris Tomlin

     Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see
     ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
     My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace
     The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
     My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace
     The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Will be forever mine.
You are forever mine.

Leaving a Mark

As I prepare to write, I stand amazed at how quickly and thoroughly our new puppy has impact wherever he goes.  In about ten seconds time he has chewed a box, tried to pull out the computer wire, chomped on the trashcan, brought out a towel, carried papers away and various other “accomplishments”.  I am confident he is leaving a mark every place he visits, albeit not always a positive one. (It’s a good thing he’s so cute)

While still a baby, and not yet trained, this tiny little furball can alter numerous situations around him quite quickly and decisively.  It is dumbfounding to me.  (I’m also becoming a strong advocate for crate training)

I pray, as I go about my day today, that I can “leave a mark” (a good one), on people and situations with whom I come in contact.  I am confident that this can’t happen without prayer, thought, focus and initiative.  Hebrews 10:23-24

    Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. [24] And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (emphasis added)

If I am not alert to the presence of God in my life I can just go through the day, leaving little or no mark.  I can sometimes be like a phrase I once heard, “Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit.”

One of my friends, when I was a young Christian, used to greet me excitedly saying, “Did you have a Jesus day?  Did you have some Jesus conversations?”  This would always get me thinking, because when I consider the life of Jesus, and read again and again the accounts of that life I am utterly amazed at Him, and called so much higher.  Everywhere Jesus went…every person he spoke to, every situation he was in …he made a difference.  He left a mark.  The sick were healed and “casual conversations” led to decisions that altered eternity for men and women.  When Jesus spoke with individuals they felt heard and understood- loved, and often very challenged.  He spoke with authority.  He also cried with compassion.  He was dependent on his relationship with the Father.  He spoke the truth that resonated with hurting, troubled and complacent hearts.  He made huge “dinner parties” from mere leftovers, kept to what was truly important over the urgent and showed us what love really means.  He did this in an unparalleled way -by giving his own life for those who disregarded him and spat in his face, including me.  Yes, I am amazed.  I pray I can leave some mark today that reflects Jesus in me and points someone to him in a life-changing way.

Matthew 5:16

    In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

1 John 2:6

    Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Yes, our new puppy leaves a mark everywhere he goes.  Like him, I pray to leave more of a mark where I go… and challenging as it is, I pray it will be more like Jesus than Denver….having  a “Jesus day”, that brings Him to situations and conversations I encounter, one person at a time

Col. 3:17

    And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Hebrews 13:20-21

    May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, [21] equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Denver’s Coming!

Tomorrow is a big day.  Yes, Denver is coming to town for a big playoff football game against the New England Patriots. I’ll have my jersey on, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  (In fact, it will be cold tomorrow…  I must layer…I plan to wear my Patriots garb over an orange and blue championship shirt from when Florida won the NCAA championship guided by Tim Tebow’s arm.  I hope that’s okay!)

But more importantly, my husband is flying through Denver, Colorado, to pick up our new puppy, Denver.  Look at that face!  He just makes you want to hug him, doesn’t he? After getting over my episode of sheer terror at the thought of raising a new puppy again, I’m really quite excited.  I sort of feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. I can’t wait to meet the little guy.  I am sure he has no idea what is about to happen to him.  He will leave his familiar place….his mom and his siblings.  (Now I feel like I want to cry.)  He will be transferred to the hands of a man he hasn’t met and go on a long airplane ride in a soft crate under my husband’s seat.  It may be a bit traumatic.  It’s sort of like a “new birth”.  He will likely wonder what new world he is entering into -and he must entrust himself to his new owner.

However, what he doesn’t know is what is waiting for him on the “other side”.  I’ve been “preparing a place for him”.  He’s got a “Cadillac crate”, new toys, a new collar, puppy treats, some big brothers, a family of adults and children who can’t wait to shower their love on him, and a promise of care, training, and lots and lots of love.  It’s going to be a good life.  We can’t wait for him to get here.

I thought of this “transition to a new place” when my grandchildren were born.  There they were, in a safe, warm and snuggly womb.  However, little did they know that on the “other side” were parents and grandparents, and aunts and uncles who already loved them.  And there were hugs, kisses, and even (as I had with three of my grandchildren tonight) pizza, brownies and ice cream awaiting their futures as well.  That’s got to be way tastier than anything the umbilical cord offers.

I can’t help but wonder if this is something of what God feels as He awaits His children’s arrival – from their “new birth” all the way until heaven.  He must shake his head at how attached we can get to the world, scared to let go, and sometimes have fear of trusting Him…when we have no idea that “amazing awaits” – on the other side.

1 Cor. 2:9
[9] However, as it is written:

    “No eye has seen,
        no ear has heard,
    no mind has conceived
        what God has prepared for those who love him”–

John 14:1-7
  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. [2] In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. [3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. [4] You know the way to the place where I am going.”
    [5] Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
    [6] Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [7] If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”