Joy Comes With The Morning

This is Day 23 of 31 in my Write 31 Days series: 31 Stories of God’s Grace. I also am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Joy.” Write for five minutes; unedited.


“Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning!” –Psalm 30:5

This has become a  favorite verse in my life. It really began to appear in my life after the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. My friend Renee, her husband Ben and Ben’s cousin Jon were in Haiti when the earthquake struck. I was in Gettysburg PA as a small group leader for the Diaconal Ministry formation event. Eventually we received the news of Ben’s death. My small group was to lead  worship that night we found out Ben had lost his life in the earthquake. As people entered into worship, we had Ben’s version of  Psalm 30 playing through the loudspeakers.

Ever since this song has become one of my favorites. It also is such a beautiful joy filled promise! Even in our darkest times, God finds a way to eventually show us light; to show us God’s grace at all times and in all places. God’s grace shines the light even in the most gut wrenching places. We just can’t always see it or find it.

Our lives are full of brokenness, sadness, celebrations, and joy. It is during those times when it feels like it is going to be night forever when God especially offers God’s grace. God knows when the morning and that joy will return.

For me, the joy has come in seeing my mom live a joy- filled faith-filled life. The joy has come in seeing a new relationship form where it once was broken. That joy has come in seeing friends finally get pregnant again after trying for so very long. I have seen that joy come in God’s grace being offered again and again and again!

If you are feeling like it is a long dark dank night, please know and trust in the promises of Psalm 30. That night soon will come to a close and you will be awakened to God’s grace as the sun begins to rise and a beautiful sunrise is spread out for your eyes to see.

“Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning!”–Psalm 30:5

Mourning into Dancing–Ben Larson

To Remember….

Remember=”to have or keep an image or idea in your mind of (something or someone from the past)”; “to cause (something) to come back into your mind;” “to keep (information) in your mind;” or “to not forget something.”

This morning I woke up and immediately began to “remember.” Five years ago today, the earthquake struck in Haiti. My friend Renee (we worked at Bible camp together), her husband Ben and Ben’s cousin Jon were in Haiti when the earthquake hit. Ben lost his life that day. It is believed that his last words were breathed as he sang the words “God’s peace to us we pray” and then it was silent.

I was in Gettysburg Pennsylvania that January day. I was a small group leader for the Diaconal Ministry Formation Event (all diaconal minister candidates are required to do the formation event.) My small group and I were talking about prayer that Tuesday morning when one of my students said she wanted to share a song with us. She pulled it up on her laptop and we strained to listen to this beautiful song. The song was song by Jon and Ben and talked about “hands parted after prayer like cups raised to receive.” (The words were  words of a poem that a seminary classmate wrote). So that morning we listened to the song and than later that afternoon we found out that the earthquake had taken place. Immediately my IM box was popping up with messages from friends letting me know that Ben, Jon, and Renee were in Haiti for a J-term class and that they had not been heard from yet.

For several days after, as you can imagine, there was much confusion. On Thursday morning, one of my students and a dear friend called and asked me where I was. I told her my hotel room and she asked if she could come to me. The minute I hung up the phone that morning I knew that something was wrong. Shera came to my door and informed me that it was confirmed that Ben was gone. We cried and held each other. We proceeded to breakfast where we were asked by the rest of our group if we had heard anything. Shera couldn’t get the words out. I was on auto-pilot and all I could keep repeating was “Ben’s gone.” From breakfast, we gathered in the chapel and worshipped together. When it came time for communion, tears welled up in our eyes as we recalled the words from the song we had heard just a few mornings before “hands parted after prayer like cups raised to receive.”

After worship, we all went to our small groups. My small group was in charge of leading worship that night. The girls decided that they still wanted to continue with our original plan; to sing the song “Freedom is Coming” etc. We made one small change; to play Ben’s version of Psalm 30 as individuals entered into worship that night. “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Now you understand why this verse has become one of my faves). The next day, at the airport, we found a blog post where someone posted Ben’s sermon from his senior year at Luther College. It talked about how the song “Freedom is Coming” was one of the most influential songs in his life. (Anyone else get goosebumps. I know I did that day…and still do!)

It is hard to believe that it has been five years today since the earthquake hit. I found myself waking up this morning. My cell phone clock confirmed today as January 12th. Grief has a way of swooping in and declaring to us the date even before we realize what day it is. Today I was reminded of that again. Immediately I took a breathe and began remembering.

And throughout the day I was continually reminded of the promise of hope and Resurrection. A couple of friends texted to say they were thinking of me today. I went to start my car this morning and an envelope was taped to my driver’s side window. I opened the envelope. Inside was a note talking about how it wasn’t it much but hopefully it would brighten my day. With the note was a McDonalds gift card. Then from there, I got to spend the day with one of my dearest friends and dear colleagues as I headed to our YouthWorkers meeting. We spent the day talking about the ELCA Youth Gathering this next summer and tips we wished we knew when we went for the first time. Tonight at Curves, I shared the story of Ben, Renee, and Jon and the promise of hope and Resurrection.

And today Renee and Jon are married and expecting a baby. What a beautiful promise of hope and Resurrection! Ben’s music still lives on. (Check out the website Ben Still Sings) Another reminder of hope and Resurrection! And for me Psalm 30 especially Ben’s version will always hold a special place in my heart. It is currently playing as I type this post and it is such a breath of fresh air for my soul. It is a song that continually reminds me of the power of hope and the power of Resurrection. (However sometimes grief does sneak in and cause the tears to flow…today is one of those days)

Mourning into Dancing (Click here to listen to Ben’s version of Psalm 30)

Remembering Two Years Later….

It seems hard to believe that it’s only been two years since the Haiti earthquake happened. I remember exactly where I was and who I was with when the events of that day and week unfolded. I was a small group leader at the Diaconal Ministry Formation Event in Gettysburg PA. We began that morning talking about prayer (if I’m remembering correctly) and one of the girls in my small group shared one of Ben and Jon Larson’s songs. Little did we know that hours later the earthquake would hit in Haiti. And then only two days later would we learn that Ben was gone! And as I think back to that week, I am fully aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the midst of this tragedy.

Today Ben’s wife/my friend Renee and Ben’s cousin Jon are in Haiti; walking with the people of Haiti, that still two years later is trying to rebuild. I began my morning this morning listening to Ben’s version of Psalm 30. Even after his death, Ben still sings! Ben’s words are still heard! Today has been a busy day; conference meeting, conference call, etc, I find myself  FINALLY just taking a moment to reflect and remember Ben and the other 300,000 people that lost their lives that day. I cant help but think of Ben’s words, “God’s peace to us we pray.”

May God’s peace be granted to all of us! May God’s light shine during this season of Epiphany!

The Anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake

Well today is January 12, 2011. Today is the one year anniversary of the earthuake that shook Haiti. I can’t help but think of them today. I think especially of my friend Renee, her husband Ben, Ben’s cousin Jonathan and their families. I also can’t help but think about where I was that day. I remember sitting in small group on Tuesday morning Jan 12 listening to one of Ben and Jon’s songs during my small group at the Diaconal Ministry Formation Event. That day is a day forever stuck in my mind. It seemed so impossible that this could happen to friends. Today I wasn’t sure how I would feel but I find myself remembering that day and praying for the people of Haiti.

This morning was an unusual morning for me. I hardly ever wake up before my alarm but at 7 am this morning I was awake and had a hard time falling back to sleep for about another hour or so. (The church office doesnt open until 9:30 am) As I lay in my bed, my mind kept returning to a year ago but it also made me think about all my friends scattered near and wide. You all are so important to me!

May we continue to pray for all those shaken by the events of a year ago today now and always! And in the words of Ben Larson, God’s Peace to us We pray.