Post-Christmas Musing: The Essentials of The Way-Faith, Hope & Love

My mind has been going back and forth over what to write in relation to the Christmas Holiday this year.  The celebration has come and gone.  Now I recognize that the Christmas season is definitely a mix. By tradition and works of Church we celebrate the Incarnation alongside the celebrations of the world.  Boundaries get blurred, things get mixed, and perspective can shift from God’s Holy work to that which is of self and our own desires.  In fact at times, the season can be about getting what we want. The reality is that the focus should be to grow more and more in alignment with walking in what God wants, living in surrender.

As previously stated, this Christmas season has been a strange one for me and my family. There is an ongoing mix of grief and hope.  My sister-in-law suffered the loss of her mother in the past year.  My step-mother is quickly slipping away while hope remains that God will bring restoration of her health.   My mother continues to cope with her loss of vision, which continues to fade. My wife hopes to receive word on Monday of being promoted to a Service Manager position at her employer but prepared for the potential disappointment. And for me, there is my ongoing care and love for all of the above as well as thoughts, plans, dreams to transition to a functioning private practice.  In all these circumstances God is bringing the three essential elements of the Way to mind: Faith, Hope, and Love. 

It is worth noting that these essential elements are NOT about having desires met. Rather, it is about growing in each aspect through God-centered surrender.  It is always all about God, yet we can easily make it all about self. In each of the essential elements there is a risk, much like this season, can be a mix. There can be self-focused or Christ-focused faith, hope, and love. The key difference is where is the attention drawn, the actions or acts or benefit to self or the ongoing pointing to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Now that being said, let us examine each element of The Way a little closer. 

Faith: It is a word quickly spoken and easy misused.  There are many who make proclamations that faith is some self-actuated behavior that if the right words or thoughts are engage in, then what want will happen.  However, such thoughts are more about self-assurance and gratification then about growing in dependence on God.  Rather, Godly faith is faith that remains when all seems darkest. Godly faith is such that  “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:” Job 13:15a (KJV).  Faith is keeping focus on God and His ways knowing that “He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23b (ESV). Faith is always keeping focus on what God has laid forth at all costs and without any visible evidence. Recently on December 21st there was a solar eclipse on the longest night of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere.) Now we know that the darkness will fade and morning comes but if we did not know that fact when the darkness comes and light is blocked, there would be much fear.  The struggle here is always to be focused on what God says even when things look worst, or things are very difficult.  Walking in faith is having full assurance in God, that no matter what the appearance, He will remain faithful.  And His faithfulness are not about the appearance in certain results or turning things to our desires in our time or fashion. Rather, it is always about His way, His time, and His actions that bring glory to Him. 

Hope: We all have hopes and dreams. We have desires. However, these hopes, dreams and desires can be for much apart from God and His will.  The true hope is when our hope is focused on the things of God.  Such hope is not easily swayed by the vagaries of life. Rather, such hope rests on the knowledge and surety of who God is.  Yet, we are always torn between having the hope  “built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” and hope that all will fall in line with our desires while at the same time knowing we don’t always get what we want. Yet, when there is true hope, hope that is founded on Jesus blood and righteousness, hope that is based on the surety of God and his promises and plans, the hope always is right.  For God and his hope and faithfulness are not based on what is visible, what is seen as many have gone to their graves without seeing the fullness of God’s promise yet received and walked in it daily.  There is a great could of witnesses. So our hope, when in God never disappointments even if things to not appear to match how we think it will work out. As God does things His way which more often than not does not match what is expected, for what He does is far greater than any of our expectations for His ways are perfect.  So, the key is to have more and more our desires and our hopes to match what God is doing which is always about untangling the twists that come from a sinful world and being shaped and restored back to what God intends.  Ultimately, the true hope is to be fully restored and in line with God.  And, true hope is resting in knowing that God meet our desires and needs in his way. He knows us intimately so our hope can be sure that God will give from His abundance, in accordance with His will, as we walk His path.  And His ultimate gift, the ultimate hope, the ultimate gift is that which endures: His love.  In His love is all, and in His love is life everlasting. So whatever we hope for, whatever we want, whatever we desire the point of it all in God’s time and frame is drawing us closer to Him. For with God, all things are possible and He moves us ever toward that which is beneficial and draws us in alignment with Him.  And it is resting in the hope based on Him that can carry us through the dark times, knowing that God keeps His promises in His way and that His ways are not our ways.  True hope is hope in who God is and that regardless of circumstances for good or bad, God has the best in mind.

Love: Ultimately, we all long for pure love. We want to be valued, be safe, and secure. We want to know we matter.  Yet, in this life we can often focus on our lack of being loved. Fact is none of us live up to God’s standard of loving, and we all want to be loved as God loves us.  We all have hurts and pains that get us twisted up and in turn we act in ways that hurt others, in turn twisting them up. We lack being loved wholly, leaving us not only broken but resistant even to true love, for the pain results in fear.  So we grasp on to what we know. God’s love is beyond that which he grasp. God’s love is greater than the “something other than” love to which we cling.   God’s love always brings us to restoration and wholeness.  God’s love never changes.  God’s love endures forever. Yet, we often fail to grasp God’s love, twisted by the varied bits of harm that comes, concluding that love falters, but not grasping true love.  We exchange our limited love for limited love; self for self.  Yet, the love of God is shown in love for others.  The love of God is shown in giving up that which is adored and valued for the benefit of others.  True love comes with great cost.   True love is found in surrender to the point of surrendering our very lives.  Living in love is working to the good of others and pointing them to the truth, so the sins of self and others caused wounds and twists and distortions, can be made right.    Now it is important to note, that while our love is faulty and frail, every action we take that reflects God’s love results in lasting reverberations that have long lasting impact. However, that impact has it limits as our love in not ever enduring, but it lasts far beyond our scope or vision.  He action of moving beyond self, of considering others better than self points to the one True way which is Jesus.  He that set aside his divinity, became a servant and suffered in every way yet remained untwisted and whole, and set aside His life so that all who come may live.  Oh, what marvelous love that is beyond our perception in every way for we only really know limited, self-focused love that falters.  We can taste God’s love, know that it is good but our experienced is distorted and partial for God’s love is far greater than comprehension. 

Now taking these thoughts back to reality, back to life on this earth as currently know it.  Again pointing to surrender as watch those I love hope, struggle, heal, slip away, suffer, grow, and live whatever God has come their way.  There is one sure foundation in all, that no matter what happens and however what happens is perceived, that God is working to draw me into ever deeper understanding of Him and growing my ability to walk in true faith, hope, and love. And this is the essence of “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13 (ESV) which is that God the enables what we are unable, so in all these circumstance the possibilities and direction belong to God and God alone.  Whether blessing or sorrow; mourning or dancing, it is all in His hands and for His will for no matter what, He is faithful and His love endures forever, blessed be His name. All Glory to the King of Kings! Hallelujah! Amen

Advertisements

Musings on Personally Perceived Strangeness of this Christmas Season

Many things are on my heart and mind and it is all in general very connected. We are at the time designated to celebrate God’s birth, His incarnation. The focus is on family and sharing love through gifts and fellowship. For me this time, this season is strange. Currently am moving in and out of feeling my own pain and connecting with the pain of those around me. Currently my brother and his family is in town. It is uplifting to spend time with them, knowing that they have come through a tough time with the death of my sister-in-laws mother from breast cancer and their issues with dealing with her father. They also are caring for their son, Anant, who embodies a joyful creativity even at four going on five years old. All this is rather normal. Here are the things that have gone to make this season strange.

If you are a follower of this blog you know that the central portion of the strangeness is the health of Janie Blake. When Cancer returned a few years ago, she reported having a word from God, “you shall live and not die.” Then she went on to engage the battle and appeared clear of cancer cells, only to have them reform to the point where her very life is in jeopardy. It was a shock hearing the news back in mid-October and even more shocking the rapid degradation of her health. Today is first I have seen her since stopping by to help the clean in preparation for her brother’s visit. The sight was heart breaking. For I really appreciate how God has used Janie in my life and the life of those I love. Yet, what God’s sees is even beyond what I see. He knows His will and His plan. He is always faithful to what He promises our job is to surrender no matter how things look. It means letting go of our will for His. He can heal. He can restore. He is the one that makes all things new. We submit to Him alone. I really want Janie around, but that is up to God alone. There is life here and greater life in His presence.

Janie’s health is not the only aspect of the strangeness of this year. There is my mother’s ongoing vision loss and going through a process of learning. She deals each day with great pain and loss while focusing on learning how to function without depending on vision. My mother has endured and survived through a lot of suffering in her lifetime. Now she faces this challenge. Yet, I know God is using this to strengthen her and use her in the lives of others. He has given her special moments one of which will eventually share on this blog, as it likely connects to all that has been going on. Now, my mom’s vision loss is nothing new. It has been ongoing. But it is one more dynamic to the strangeness of this year.

Now not all that is going on is dealing with health and illness. For my wife has been going through and interview process for a potential promotion to service manager. My wife really does posses natural talents that would make her a great manager. Her prayer has been for those interviewing her to see what God wants them to see in her. Her heart she simply wants whomever they promote to be someone that will build and strengthen the team. We know it is in God’s hands and the promotion would be a great blessing to us. As I am writing this, in my mind the elevation of Daniel standing out over all others in Babylon would fit, if that is God’s will for Liz. We simply await the answer, hoping one thing but surrendering to whatever the outcome.

In my own life, still am working through matters of reluctance and holding self back. Yet, my workload is increasing and there are things on the horizon, yet many obstacles still stand with my-self being one of the obstacles. There is the ongoing question as get busier whether I can take on more or how can I find ways to improve all together. There are lessons learned as always in this process. The key principle to all here is coming back to surrender. There is much we cannot see in terms of what is ahead. Some like my mother have to learn to operate without sight. My stepmother appears quickly headed to death. My brother and his family already faced loss, may face more, are loving and building up their adopted child who is God has made as one who is joyfully creative in the midst.

So it is a strange season, this year. There is hope of seeing God give blessings and doing amazing things. There is the need to move beyond the visible. Ultimately, it is surrender to God regardless of the outcomes, walking not by our sight, but depending on Him alone. For He alone is the Rock. He alone is our safety. By Him alone to we stay or go. By Him alone do we rise or fall. He is the one who gives life or takes it. Yes, our choices and actions play a role we can walk His path and walk his way or go our own. One leads to life, one to death. God allows us our choices and then simply calls for surrender and walk the way He leads even if it seems impossible. There will be barriers from inside and outside. We want to make everything about us, but it is always about God and His glory and purpose which ultimately is to show and reflect His love in pain, in sorrow, in struggle, in fear, in reluctance, in anger, in pain, in joy, in blessing, in hope and so on which is all in His life in us.

Musings on Repentance 1: Glen Beck’s Call for Awakening versus Biblical Repentance

Glen Beck has made the news because of a speech he gave on the Washington Mall on 8/28/2010 which was an Anniversary date of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream speech.  The speech was part of a rally hosted by Glen Beck that when by the title of Restoring Honor.  The speech made the news because Glen called for the nation to return to God.  The speech garnered varied reactions ranging from unqualified support, skepticism, or criticism. Many Christians were alarmed that such a call came from a person known to be a member of a Latter Day Saints (Mormon) congregation.  Some have spoken with Glen Beck and have come away convinced he understands and embraces the idea of atonement.  Well, given all the reactions this writer decided to listen to the speech and having done so have found it to be quite disturbing.  Yes, Glen Beck calls for an Awakening and a turning to God by acts of faith, hope, and Charity. He spent time pointing at the need for firm reliance on divine providence as written in founding father documents. However, his call for Awakening does not match the Biblical view of awakening or repentance. Let’s examine a bit closer what he stands for as indicated in his speech. You may want to take the time to view the speech for your self before you read the further commentary in this article. The speech can be found at: http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/45013/.

In listening the speech there were four concepts espoused by Glen Beck that do not correspond to Biblical principles or Biblical repentance.  Glen Beck did use some words that have an element of truth, but the truth he spoke simply served as a means of accepting the other content of his message as true.  There are four key message elements of his speech that are in direct contrast to Biblical repentance and awakening. 

The first element that is in contrast to Biblical repentance is that Glen Beck emphasized the importance of self-determination. He opened the speech with a comment “One man can change the world.” “It is you.”  He made frequent references to Moses and his staff.  He encouraged people over and over to “pick up the stick.” Meaning get involved in the efforts to alter the course of the nation. He used the metaphor even of Egypt and slavery to make his point. However, the slavery he refers to is not being involved in political action and having restrains to self-determination.  True, he does reference seeking God and acting in faith, hope, and charity. Yet, it is all for the building up of self.  He even alluded to his being a broken man and having made changes. Yet, he points to political actions to “set people free.” 

The second element that is in contrast to Biblical repentance is that while he hearkens to engaging in prayer and engaging in firm reliance on divine providence, he emphasizes the importance of “America.”  He clearly espouses the concept of America as a “special nation.”  He referred to the documents from the founding fathers of the country as being “American Scripture.”  He indicated that if “America” does not change the course it is on, then there will be no one to step in when the “world” is in trouble. In essence, he elevates “America” to a savior of the world status.  This is elevating the country of the United States to an unhealthy level and looking for human element to saving the world.  The perspective of the Christian faith is that nothing will be made right until Jesus returns and everything will continue to get worse.

Another disturbing element of Glen Beck’s speech was the frequent references to “looking within.” He made comments such as we need to “strengthen our spirits” and we need to explore “inner space.”  The need for such “inner exploration” is not part and parcel to the Christian concept of awakening and repentance but rather calls to finding what you are sure of and finding some form of spiritual guidance for inner strengthening.  And while it was not directly said, it suggests pointing to some inner element of “the divine.” For Glen Beck made constant references of to humility. He even declared God as King, yet he frequently focused on self effort.  Even his push for “faith, hope, and charity” really seem inclined to being found in looking within in and choices made.  Yes,  Glen Beck did proclaim that we need to look to God and look to love, yet the direction he pointed folks to look was within.

The last disturbing element of Glen Beck’s speech  is that  what he pointed to is everyone needs to know what they believe. He indicated that belief is important, he stated truth was important but only as elements of self.  In terms of truth, a person needs to be truthful and have no lies in your life.  He proclaimed  “truth shall set you free” but the determiner of truth is self and what you believe. He emphasized that what was important were the “universal principles” of the varied faiths, not absolute truth.  His embracing nebulous universal truths was highlighted even by his action as he called for a “Black Robe Brigade” of people of varied “faiths” that were standing for advocating political answers with a human moral base centered on universal principles.  This is not by any shape turning to submission to a Holy God and Jesus who is “THE WAY,” rather it is being actively involved and engaged in solutions of this world to change moral behavior and political focus. It is quite different that biblical awakening and repentance.

At the core, Biblical repentance is not turning to self or elevating self with the aim of some political world changing purpose. Biblical repentance is turning away from self-effort and following God’s ways. Yes, that involves loving God and others. Yes, it involves turning to Jesus as King.  But it is something that is not about elevation of self or society but simply doing what is right before God and turning away from that which is self.  The Bible is filled with evidence of what repentance looks like.  The story of the Prodigal son is one example.  It is a coming to an end of self and turning to God.  True repentance will result in a turning to Jesus.  The attitude seen in Biblical repentance is shown in James 4:6-9 (ESV) “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.”   There really is stark contrast.  Look at Zacchaeus for a Biblical example of repentance. He was crooked, greedy man. He met Jesus and he changed his life to the point of even returning more than he stole.  He was called and he followed. Biblical repentance involves two actions, a turning from self and turning to God.  It is leaving the old way for a new.

Glen Beck offers ways to arrange the world and life to best accommodate desires. It is holding on own life in a way, it is far different from the self-surrender of scripture.  There is a verse passage in Ephesians that really sums up the difference between what Glen Beck is promoting and the Biblical view.

Ephesians 5:6-17 (ESV) Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  

 This passage  exposes those  appear  to proclaim a turning to God yet really are elevating self.  The passage also commands to have nothing to do with those who are deceptive.   For there is always really two ways, the way of God and the way of the world.  There is Godly sorrow and repentance that leads to salvation as those who lose their life will gain it. Then there is the way of the world, the works of flesh, the elevation of self that has no life and leads to death and destruction.  One is real, one is but illusion.  Glen Beck’s call is to that of illusion leading to death. There is no life there.

Seven Essential Strategies for Coping with Acute Stress Reactions

People who face acute stress, critical incidents, or disaster have faced something that is life changing.  The greater the acuity is the greater the life impact.   Their lives will never be the same.  More and more as separated from the immediate impact by time and distance there will be a psychological rollercoaster of emotions and symptoms. A basic understanding of symptoms related to acute stress reaction if found at this article: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/understanding-acute-stress-reaction/.  The focus of this article is about coping with the experience of acute stress reaction.

In examining how to cope with acute stress it is important to recognize that there is a difference when you are in the midst of an acutely stressful situation and when that stressor is over and there is no longer immediate risk.  During acute stress, coping is all about meeting needs and staying safe and helping others to do the same. It is all about survival and making it to the next day.  The symptoms of acute stress reaction can start as the ongoing fear of what will happen next is normal.  However, the true work of coping and reducing symptoms comes later, when removed from the acute stress and in a place of safety.  When that safety level is reached the acute stress reactions symptoms intensify and can be debilitating.  However, eventually the symptoms will subside if you are able to effectively cope and heal from what happened.  Now let’s look at some specific things you can do to help facilitate the healing and reduction of symptoms.

  1: Take care of your physical needs. 

            This means attending to basic self-care needs.  Basically it is assuring three essentials: nutrition, exercise, and rest.  Eating well, engaging your body, and assuring rest will help anyone recover. Granted many of us do not eat well or exercise well before any acute stress. This really is about focusing on basic needs and is really a carry over of the survival mode that occurred during the acute stress.  Now rest is an important part of self care but it is also worth addressing in more detail separately.  

2: Set aside specific time to just rest.

            Rest is essential to any recovery from acute stress.  When we rest and even sleep, the body takes time to recover and adapt.  Some of the symptoms that are experienced are essentially our body and brain trying to work through the difficult experience.  It is while we sleep that the brain goes over the communication routes and does any ‘rewiring’ of the communication patterns.  Also if you cannot sleep do not focus your thought on the difficulty sleep, but rather do things that enable you to be in a more relaxed state.

3: Practice Relaxation.

            This goes along with taking time to rest but really needed to comment on this more fully.  Some of the symptoms of acute stress are directly related to anxiety and panic and fears triggered by having experienced acute stress.  Practicing relaxation is the primary means of coping with anxiety and panic symptoms. So do things that you find relaxing or calming.  It also may be beneficial to take time doing exercise, which can also shift your body into a more relaxed state.  It is also helpful if you notice increasing anxiety to practice deep breathing.  Take deep breaths in and breathe out slowly.

4. Talk about experience

            This is an essential step for recovery. Being able to process and sort through and talk about the experience.  It is helpful to talk things out both with others who have been through the same experience and those that have not.  Talking enables thoughts and feelings. It connects you to the shared experience and it reduces the intensity of the symptoms over time.  It is worth noting that talking about the acute stressor is important for a time, but if it pre-dominates your thoughts and conversation then there is a need to disengage from that discussion.  Do make sure and take time about all ways impacted and the results.  It can be easy to get lost in one aspect of the acute stress or another. Take time to discuss it all.  Do not refrain from discussing or engaging others around what happened. The more you hold things back, the more likely symptoms are to increase and remain. 

5. Stay engaged.

            Some of the symptoms of acute stress reaction that results in withdrawal and avoidance.   Engaging in withdrawal or avoidance is tempting and will seem to foster safety.  However, when you disengage through avoidance and withdrawal it can increase the frequency, duration, and intensity of symptoms.  It is better to find ways to keep engaged and not shut down.  There is really a balance here, there are moments of needing rest and relaxation and perhaps time alone.  But if decisions are made to avoid certain places or things that remind you of the acute stressor such behavior directly impacts the recovery. In fact the opposite of the temptation is more beneficial.  For example, let’s say you were in a car accident and initially any time you are at the place where it occurred you will nervous and scared.  The more you go by that place and are safe, the anxiety and nervousness of being at the spot of the accident reduces. 

6. Engage in pleasurable activities.

            This is a general principle in dealing with distressing emotions and situations.  Find time to do things that are soothing and pleasurable. Engage your senses.  Moments of doing things that are pleasurable can serve as a distraction from the distressing emotions and take your mind off of matters. Now, it is not uncommon to have difficulty enjoying things that were usually enjoyable, but it is worth the effort to follow through even if you may not feel like it.  Living every minute of the day focused on recovering from the acute stress will get draining if there is no ability to engage in pleasurable distractions.

7. Attend to your spiritual health.   

            The experience of acute stress can bring all sorts of responses and barriers to your relationship with God.  Doubts can surface, anger at God can surface, you can draw closer to God, even enter into relationship with God.  Engaging spiritually and turning to God can be an essential part of your healing from the experienced trauma.  Now, it takes another article to go into details about spiritual principles that can help with coping with acute stress.  The starting point is really about building your faith and finding hope out of the trauma.  There are always two choices, a path of faith and hope and that of doubt and despair. Choose to walk in faith and hope and draw closer to God, He will see you through.  Seek out spiritual counsel for assistance directly for help and prayer with your personal struggles in this area.      

 Now hopefully these suggestions to help for coping are helpful.  Admittedly on first glance they may seem to be simple common sense, yet they are easily ignored and not attended to as well.  If you have experienced acute stress, your life is forever changed, but healing can and will come.  Ultimately the suffering and pain endured will serve to strength you, make you more aware of weaknesses and enable further fruit and growth.  Peace and joy are available, but it all starts with being intentional with these coping strategies.  It continues with following some basic spiritual principles that will be outlined in another article.  Recognize that recovery takes time, but the only way to recover is to engage and go through the process.  Symptoms will occur, emotions will fluctuate, but healilng can and will come.

Video Selections: The Words I Would Side- Sidewalk Prophets

The Words I Would Say
Three in the morning,
And I’m still awake,
So I picked up a pen and a page,
And I started writing,
Just what I’d say,
If we were face to face,
I’d tell you just what you mean to me,
I’d tell you these simple truths,

Be strong in the lord and,
Never give up hope,
You’re going to do great things,
I already know,
Gods got his hand on you so,
Don’t live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don’t forget why your here,
Take your time and pray,
These are the words I would say,

Last time we spoke,
You said you were hurting,
And I felt your pain in my heart,
I want to tell you,
That I keep on praying,
Love will find you where you are,
I know cause I’ve already been there,
So please hear these simple truths,

Be strong in the lord and,
Never give up hope,
You’re going to do great things,
I already know,
Gods got his hand on you so,
Don’t live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don’t forget why your here,
Take your time and pray,
These are the words I would say,

From one simple life to another,
I will say,
Come find peace in the father,

Be strong in the lord and,
Never give up hope,
You’re going to do great things,
I already know,
Gods got his hand on you so,
Don’t live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don’t forget why your here,
Take your time and pray,
Thank God for each day,
His love will find a way,
These are the words I would say

Groundhog Day Musings

Today is Groundhog’s day. It is a day of superstitious tradition that the extension of winter occurs for six more weeks if the groundhog sees his shadow. For those curious about the history and foundation of the practice, it is connected primarily to ancient Celtic pagan practices. In particular it stems from a festival called Imbolc and is part of the pagan concept of Wheel of the Year. There was a Catholic syncretistic festival known as Candlemas and focused on being the time when Mary presented at temple for purification and when Simeon made his pronouncement. The main themes of both the pagan and Catholic tradition are of purification, initiation, and fire. It is seen as a time of light returning and overcoming darkness. This brief history examination is to really show the shaky foundation of Groundhogs day. As with most superstitious rights, the actual accuracy is poor. The Groundhog Day results have only been accurate about 39 percent of the time. It is interesting to examine why this ritual and superstition is held and remains a part of culture. Groundhogs day is really about looking to an early end to the winter season.

The winter season is generally one of trial. It is a time when darkness is greater than light. It is a time hoping for an end and release to what is seen as suffering and trial. In life, we often look for signs or hope that suffering will come to an end. We hope the course of any trial in life is short, or runs a shorter course. It is a focus on hoping that what is not liked ends quickly. Like winter, trials have a set course, they run only for a season. Granted some seasons last a lifetime, but it is always but a moment. Ultimately, the pain and suffering can be blinding. Pain can be all-consuming and the focus becomes on just quick release. Yet, everything serves a purpose. We all suffer, just as we all face winter. It is just a matter of the differences in perspective. No matter how severe the pain or trial it can be endured and transcended. It is all about focus. It is all about connecting to the true light, Jesus. It is about seeing the pains and suffering in this world from a different perspective. Suffering is not the greatest evil in the world. Our focus on self is. Often how we deal with the trials in our life really illuminate how self-focused we are.

Here is a challenge, face each day as it comes. Each day look to Jesus first and take eyes off the ebbs and flows of the seasons of life and the ongoing turning of time. Life is far more than the empty turning of a wheel found in paganistic views, but rather each day has meaning, even the trials and pain. All true meaning is illuminated in Jesus, who is the light of the world. It is Jesus who redeems the darkness and brings true newness. Jesus is the end and beginning of the true circle of life. He is the one who bring true hope, true peace, and true joy that enables standing in the midst.

NEWS AND COMMENTARY ~ Napolitano: Humanitarian parole granted to certain Haitian orphans – Breaking News – MiamiHerald.com

Well we are seeing answers to prayers for the varied orphans in Haiti. See the article following this short commentary.  Late Monday, several of the Haitian orphans  have been granted immigration parole.  It sounds like manly the orphans that have been matched up with adoptive parents.  On the Livesay’s Facebook there has been mention of some even already having left Haiti.  God is showing self to be true and providing for these little ones.   Yet, do remember that the pain and devastation in Haiti remains catastrophic.  When one phase of the crisis ends  and the attention dies down, other reactions and levels of crisis occur.  Continue to pray for the children from Haiti and their adoptive families.  Pray that they work through the issues that come with adoption including attachment, medical issues, and a host of other things.  Above all pray that these children grow into being children of God’s kingdom.  

Napolitano: Humanitarian parole granted to certain Haitian orphans – Breaking News – MiamiHerald.com.

lyanez@MiamiHerald.com

In a late development on Monday, the U.S. government announced it was granting humanitarian paroles to hundreds of Haitian orphans who were waiting to be adopted by Americans before the earthquake.

“While we remain focused on family reunification in Haiti, authorizing the use of humanitarian parole for orphans who are eligible for adoption in the United States will allow them to receive the care they need here,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The humanitarian parole policy will be applied on a case-by-case basis to the following children:  Children who have been legally confirmed as orphans eligible for inter-country adoption by the government of Haiti and are being adopted by U.S. citizens.

 Children who have been previously identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for intercountry adoption and have been matched to U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents.

Napolitano left the door open for other needy orphans to be considered for the humanitarian parole.

The Catholic Church in Miami has announced plans to launch a second Operation Pedro Pan, this time to house in South Florida Haitian children at risk. They have already identified three sites; two in Miami-Dade and one in Broward.

In the early 1960s, Catholic Charities took in Cuban children fleeing communism. Some 14,048 were spirited out of the island and into camps and group homes in Miami-Dade until they could be reunited with their parents.

DHS said U.S. citizens with pending adoption cases in Haiti should send the department detailed information about their cases to HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov