Remembering Sandy Hook

“Christ be our light, shine in our hearts, shine through the darkness”

It is almost hard to believe that two years ago today we all learned of the name of the school Sandy Hook Elementary, Adam Lanza and Newton, Connecticut. My heart still aches for all of those who lost children that day. And for those families, I am sure it feels like just yesterday and not two years ago. In the days following Sandy Hook, I blogged several blog posts. One of my most read posts was this post: I Am A Daughter.

But there also was this one that I wrote on the day following the Sandy Hook shooting. This post was originally posted on this blog on December 15, 2012. The title of the blog is “Why Won’t the Tears Fall?” These words still capture so well how I feel some days when I look at the world around me. There are so many days when the tears just won’t fall because I have become…in some ways…numb to what is happening in the world around me.

Here is the post I posted on December 15,2012: This afternoon I had the privilege of hanging out at church while the SS kids practiced for the SS Christmas program! As they sang the words “Peace to all the Earth,” I wanted to cry as I thought of the families in CT who won’t hear their babies voices again! Such a senseless act! I want to cry yet the tears simply won’t come! Why?!? Why won’t the tears fall from my face? Is it because I’ve cried too many tears over violent acts like this in my thirty years on this Earth? Is it because I’m numb and cannot understand why 20 innocent lives were taken way too soon from this Earth?

Yesterday and today I found myself thinking about and remembering all my friends who are parents! I can understand why you needed to hug and hold them last night and today! I found myself telling them to give their children an extra hug or cuddle just for me! I’m not a parent myself yet I yearn to be so deeply! And then I wonder do I really want to be? Of course I do! But what world will my future child enter into? A world strewn with sinful people…a sinful world! Yet what I do know is that love….God’s love…always wins!

I understand that is hard to grasp in light of yesterday’s events! But what I do know and believe with every fiber of my being is that God was there yesterday! God didn’t allow the events to unfold but as they unfolded God was there…holding and embracing each precious victim. God sent Jesus into the world and Jesus proclaims “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these!”

As I write this blog post, I find myself typing as my fingers dance across the keyboard yet I still find that these words are inadequate! Why can I not find the words? Why won’t the tears fall? How do we know that God’s love always wins?

God sent God’s Son as this precious gift who is born in a manger in Bethlehem and then later dies the ultimate death for us and our sins! This child comes as the light in the midst of the darkness and now more than ever we need this light to come!

So even when my words are inadequate I find myself turning to Scripture and letting the sighs rise up to God. “With sighs too deep for words to express….”

Or in these words, “Lord listen to your children praying, bring us love, bring us power, bring us peace!”

And finally, maybe, the tears I so deeply want to cry will fall from my face knowing we live in a sinful and sin-filled world but that God in God’s love for us all ALWAYS wins!! Perhaps that is a place for us to begin and cling to in the coming days!

Shortly after I wrote this post, the tears finally began to fall. And tonight, two years later, I still find myself clinging to these words knowing that Jesus Emmanuel is always with us. Emmanuel reminds us that he is the one who comes as the light in the midst of the darkness. He is the one who ultimately will bring about his peace. “God’s peace to us we pray.”

“Christ be our light, shine in our hearts, shine through the darkness.”
“Christ be our light, shine in our hearts, shine through the darkness.”

(In addition to this post and the link I posted earlier in this post, I also wrote one other post related to the Sandy Hook shooting. This post was written the day of the Sandy Hook shooting: With Sighs Too Deep)

Out of the Darkness

I have
been doing a lot of driving this weekend. Most of my driving has been in pure
daylight but last night I found myself driving in the dark. I have never been
much of a fan of driving in the dark. I think a lot of that has to do with the
fact that I can’t completely see everything around me or that I have to constantly
keep my eyes peeled for deer who want to jump out onto the road and could cause
an accident. However last night I found myself reflecting even more on the
darkness.
As I
looked up in the midnight black sky, littered with beautiful twinkling stars, I
found myself thinking about what it must be like to be pulled in by the
darkness of depression or a mental illness. Now I have never experienced it for
myself, but I have watched friends and family members who have been pulled in
by the darkness. As I drove, I wondered what it was like for them to be pulled
in by the darkness. Is it like their lives are constantly lived like they are
continually driving in the dark; no light in sight? I think often times that
yes, they are pulled in by the darkness and cannot find their way out…and
that makes me so very sad. I want to offer them healing and so much that I
don’t have the power to give them. Yet I know that God loves them in the midst
of their brokenness and can offer them those things they need.
God is the
one who offers light to them…even if that light is just a little glimmer of
hope. In many ways, it reminds me of a lit candle in a darkened room after a
power outage. The candle gives just enough light; enough light for us to see what
is around us; to find our way around the room. God is that eternal light; that
brings hope to the broken hurting people in the world. Yet so often in the
midst of mental illnesses and depression, I think that light isn’t always
enough. Those suffering with those illnesses need more light to overcome the
darkness that they are pulled into. Yet God asks them to trust him; to know
that God has the power to bring light, hope and healing into their lives.
I was
touched by the following words from writer Anne Lamott. Her words
remind me; remind all of us that God is with us even in the
uncomfortableness and that God promise to never leave us or forsake us. 

“Faith includes
noticing the mess, the emptiness, the discomfort, and letting it be there until
some light returns.” 

So let us
hold onto hope for and with each other until some of the light returns!
 
 

Light…

I’ve been trying to spend more time looking for the light rather than the darkness these days! Jesus is this treasured holy child who comes as this light in the midst of the darkness who calls us to cling to the light especially when we feel there is no joy, no peace, no hope! Jesus is that joy, that peace, that hope!!

Today as I was driving home for the holidays, I witnessed a moment of light that made my heart “leap for joy!” A black pick-up truck was in front of me as we drove down the road! On the other side of the road, a van was broken down; hazard lights on etc! Before I knew it, the black truck had their brake lights on and blinker as they turned into the other road. I couldn’t figure out what they were doing and then I saw that they were stopping to help the van!

I have no idea who any of these people were but they showed me LIGHT! Thank you strangers for showing me this light!

“The light no darkness can over come!”

The Light in the Midst of the Darkness

First off, I want to begin by saying “Thank you”; Thank You to everyone who read my last blog post. I have been humbled by the amount of people who have read it (89 at last count and the blog post hasn’t even been up a week yet). I am glad that my words could touch and bless you. You sure know how to make a girl feel loved!!

I am a daughter of a woman who has lived most of my life with a mental illness! I will ALWAYS be her daughter; a daughter of a mental health patient.

And this woman; my mom has taught me more about life than I can even begin to count! She would totally give the shirt off her back for someone else! I honestly can’t remember her ever saying anything badly about a neighbor either! As a child, I remember her doing simple kind things for others! She is seriously a beautiful kind grace-filled woman of God!

And as this grace-filled woman of God, she has taught me to look for the good in people! That is not at all easy because we live in a sinful world but that’s the beauty we need to look for the light and distinguish the darkness in our midsts! God comes in Jesus as the light in the midst of the darkness!

Let us spend time not letting the darkness overcome us but letting us trust in God and God’s promise to us all! May we continually look for those moments of light and hope especially when we feel like the darkness is overtaking us! I’ve seen lots of moments of light this week: a woman in TX buying all the caskets for the families of the children at Sandy Hook who lost their lives, dogs comforting those grieving in CT, a child sharing their toys with another child who doesn’t have any! And these are only a few moments of light I’ve seen! What is a moment of light you’ve seen today, this week, this month, this year?

“The light comes in the darkness, and the darkness shall not overcome it!”

(Another blogger captures this so well! Read her awesome grace-filled blog post about looking for and bringing the light! You can check out her blog at Looking for the Light)

With Sighs Too Deep….

The names of every single child I know is running through my head this evening. I cannot help but think of them and their dear parents. The news out of Newtown CT is absolutely heartbreaking. Such a senseless act. I find myself turning to these words: “Christ be our light, shine in our hearts, shine through the darkness.” Yet it is so absolutely difficult to see the hope in the midst of the events that unfolded today. I can’t help but think of how each one of these precious children has been called and claimed by God. Jesus says to us in the book of Matthew “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matthew 19:14).”
I can’t even begin to fathom the grief these parents and grandparents and other family members are feeling tonight. How could these innocent lives be taken from us? Why is their still evil in the world? These are only a few of the questions swirling through my head tonight. I find myself clinging to the promise of Jesus who comes as the light in the midst of the darkness, hope in the midst of despair, and joy in the midst of sorrow.
I know that as more information surfaces and the world begins to move on, these families will not. They will forever be changed by the events of this tragic senseless day. Who knows what this person is suffering from? I know some will say it could be a mental illness and that may be true, but the reality is many people in this world live with mental illnesses and are the kindest most grace-filled people in the world (Two of my family members being those grace-filled kind people!) Mental illness can be treated effectively. So often it seems to me the world doesn’t know how to talk about this illness. There is such a stigma associated with the illness but this illness can be treated and people can live wonderful lives.
May our prayers be with all those in Newtown CT affected by this senseless tragedy. And when we cannot find the words, may we simply let our sighs escape and rise up to God.
“With sighs too deep for words to express…..”

The Resurrection; Here and Now!!

My cup is absolutely overflowing today!!!! I think so often it is simply so easy for life to get in the way! We get so caught up in the busyness of life that we can so easily see the darkness in our midst but we have a hard time seeing the light. This weekend has been absolutely full of light for me! Yesterday with about 500 other people, I witnessed new love…and new joy at the wedding of my friend Renee. Now some of you, my blog readers, know her story but others of you may not so I’ll give a quick snippet. Renee, Renee’s husband Ben and Ben’s cousin Jon were all in Haiti in January of 2010 when the earthquake hit! They were all seperated and Ben lost his life in the rubble. Ben spent his last moments of life singing! Over the course of the past two years, Renee and Jon have found their way to each other and formed a new love! This to me is light! This is the Resurrection in our midst; here and now!

Then yesterday morning I met up with a good camp friend over Breakfast. As we were visiting, she was telling me about her foster child. She does “parent support” fostering. As many of you know, it is something I have been praying about and thinking about for a little while now! I couldnt help but smile and think about how smart the Holy Spirit is; showing me another opportunity. More light…more Resurrection in my midst here in now! Then later that afternoon, I Skyped my mom for the first time! So much fun to see the light in her as she saw me and got to talk to me at the same time! Perhaps the Resurrection in my midst yet again?!?!

This morning I went with a good friend out to the church Renee serves at. We met up with another camp friend and her family who recently moved to town. The church is on the campus of the youth correctional center. We gathered with the boys and girls who are currently staying at YCC! I couldn’t help but wonder what their stories were! While at Heart River, I got to hear a dear Diaconal sister preach (She preached a rockin’ sermon that inspired this blog today!)More signs of light….more joy….more of the Resurrection in our midst here in now!

The weekend isn’t even over yet. I will get to see college friends later this afternoon who I havent seen in forever! We are gathering for an adoption benefit for a college friend and her family who are adopting from Bulgaria! I am sure I will see more light…more joy today!

Hard not to see the Resurrection in this Easter season as I look around this weekend yet it also is so easy like the gospel story we heard from Mark last week to be afraid, to let fear creep in, to doubt, and to see the darkness. May we spend more time always looking for the Resurrection in our midst! And in the midst of seeing the Resurrection, may your cups begin to overflow with love, joy, and countless blessings!!

Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Bonhoeffer, MLK Jr. and Me

I’m still really having a hard time wrapping my head around the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death. I understand that people need to rejoice; rejoice for those that lost their lives on Sept 11, 2001. I understand that many of us are feeling relief for this evil man who caused the death of these people and cannot hurt them anymore. Yet Im still having a hard time wrapping my head around how I should feel. This morning I sat with some ladies in my Tues morning devos. I spoke my mind and told them how I was feeling; that I just couldn’t bring myself to celebrate over the death/murder of someone even this evil one. I was immediately met by responses that told me that they rejoiced. I don’t shame them or blame them for that at all. I myself just cannot bring myself to celebrate the death of ANYONE! How should I feel? How should I react? I am reminded of Lutheran Theologian Dietrich Boenhoeffer who in the last part of his life wondered if God was calling him to murder and instead ended up in a concentration camp. Recently a quote has been all over fb and it seems to capture how I am feeling in these days. I’ve recently been informed that only the last half of the quote was truly MLK Jr. and that the first half came from somewhere else. I hesistate to post a quote that I am unsure of the source but it is truly capturing how I feel. “”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” I am clinging to these words as I try to discern and wrap my head around the events of the last several days and how I should feel, etc, etc!

The Greatest Story Ever Told (Sermon for 12-24-10)

Hi ya’ll. I haven’t been posting any of my writings on this blog because I started a blog just for that but I know I have more readers on this site, so I thought I would share. For some reason, Im really liking where this sermon went so here it goes…my sermon for 12-24-10!

We all know this all familiar story.// Some of us can recite it by memory.// Tonight we listen attentively as the story is read once again too us. But do we see ourselves there?// Do we see ourselves as a character gathered at the manger?//

Now do me a favor; imagine for a moment that you are a part of the story TODAY!//Perhaps Joseph and Mary are emailing each other.// Perhaps Joseph is Map Questing directions for how to travel to Bethlehem.// Maybe Joseph even is buying his donkey from Enterprise Rent-A-Car (or Donkey).// Perhaps Joseph is Twittering and updating his Facebook status as he awaits the birth of his son. Then the minute this precious boy is born; he uploads a picture.// The three wise men are buying their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh off of Amazon.com.// Now the story definitely looks different in these terms, but the beauty of the story is that the story still evokes all the same emotions and feelings in us!//

Yes, we know the story but the reality is that we don’t always hear the story.// It seems to me that we forget that this story took place and continues to take place for each and every one of us.// God sent God’s son to remind us that the story didn’t just take place for us in a stable in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, but is a story that continues to shape who and whose we are today and always.// In other words, God calls us to be a part of God’s story now and always!//

So tonight I ask you to imagine yourselves as one of the characters gathered around the manger, seeing the one who will bring light, hope, and peace for all the world.// What are you feeling?// What do you see?// Are you surprised by what you are seeing and feeling?// How will you share this amazing good news with the rest of the world?//

Perhaps you are Mary awaiting the birth of this holy child you have been carrying.// Maybe you are Joseph trying to do the right thing after realizing that Mary truly is pregnant by the Holy Spirit after you have been visited by the angel// Perhaps you are a shepherd keeping watch over your flock by night when the angel comes to you and proclaims, “Do not be afraid.// I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:// to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is the Messiah, the Lord.”// Maybe you are the angel bringing this good news to all!// Possibly you are the wise men bringing holy gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to this precious child.// Or maybe you are one of the animals gathered around the manger, not making a noise but simply taking in this precious holy night as God’s Son enters into the world.//

And as God’s Son enters into the world this night, I am reminded of the words of Bismarck Tribune reporter Karen Herzog. Her words remind us that everyone is invited to be a part of this holy story.// She writes, “With the animal body, we are bonded to this world, rather than floating invisibly through it as disembodied vapors. Through the body, the animals of creation-us among them-experience warm and cold and stars and straw, blood and birth.// Christmas carols sense this, and speak to it in their lyrics.// They try to convey that if the Christ Child’s birth was in a place where animals sheltered, that means something. Something important.// It says that living beings, from little barn mice to night-flying owls, nursing ewes and long-eared donkeys, have a place at all the pivotal moments of the earth’s story, from the creation to the incarnation and beyond.// That the one who made us also made them and loves that creation, too.// That no one is too small or too mute to witness miracles or be included in the love that runs the universe.”

No matter what character you are, you are an important essential part of this story.// Without Mary and Joseph, who would be Jesus’ parents?// Without the angels, who would proclaim the good news that the Messiah has been born?// Without the shepherds and wise men, who would come to meet this holy child and bring gifts to him?// And without you and I, how would God’s story continue to be retold again and again?//

The beauty of this Christmas story is that God invites us to share it again and again.// God summons us to really truly hear this story; the one told to us to remind us that it is only the beginning of God’s story unfolding right before our very eyes.// God wants us to move beyond just the words and to truly hear, feel, and experience God’s story taking place as God’s son enters into the world on this peaceful holy night.//

Interim President of Wartburg Seminary David Tiede on his commentary on Luke’s Gospel writes, “Luke’s Christmas Gospel invites treasuring the
words, awe at the splendor of God’s faithfulness and wonder about where it
will lead for ‘all the world.’// The gentle truth invites all who see and hear to return for Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost.// God’s drama is just beginning to unfold.”// In other words, the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth is only just the beginning of the greatest story ever told.// In fact, it seems to me that the best parts of the story are yet to come!//

The Christmas story also reminds all of us who God is and always will be!//
God continues to call and claim us as God’s children. Through the waters of Baptism, God promises that God will never leave us or forsake us.// God will come again and God’s power will have the final victory.//

And because God will have the final victory, it is important for us to remember that this story; this familiar story that we hear tonight is not just the beginning of God’s story, but the beginning of our stories as well.// God will always bring light in the midst of darkness, hope in the midst of fear and will be the one who always walks with us.// In the words of Luther Seminary Professor David Lose, “Perhaps it should be that this story of long ago is not only about angels and shepherds, a mother and her newborn.// It is also about us, all of us gathered amid the candles and readings, carols and prayers.// God came at Christmas for us, that we might have hope and courage amid the dark and dangerous times of our lives.// This, in the end, is why we gather, so that as God entered into time and history so long through the Word made flesh, God might also enter our lives even now through the word proclaimed in Scripture, song and sermon.”//

God’s story is offered for all to hear this night.// Go out proclaiming that the Messiah has come for all God’s people.// Go out and share this all familiar story with your friends and neighbors!// Go out, not just hearing the story but proclaiming and living the story as if you are one of the characters gathered around the manger this night proclaiming loudly, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth.”
Amen!//