Easter Prayer

Stock Photography - Easter Lily Close Up

There can be no safer place to be
than in the certainty of God’s love.
Every bumpy, curvy road
can be made straight
by this assurance:
God’s love and protection
are always present.
Problems don’t disappear;
our ability to manage them
is strengthened in the light of his promise
to be with us always.

Christ lived that we might live.
Christ died that we would be saved.
Christ arose that we might have hope.

God knows our need;
God gives us tools
to be wise and courageous
in the most difficult of times.
He does not forget us
when we are less than faithful.
He waits for us to return to the rock of his refuge.

Thank you, God, for your presence.
In times of uncertainty,
relieve our anxiety,
give us strength and courage day-by-day.

– Amen

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go. Psalm 71:3


 

A Rooster Tale

RoosterWhen I was a kid, we lived in a trailer house on my grandparents’ place. They had a farm with requisite chicken coop, cows, and garden. It was also the residence of the meanest rooster God ever created. It had wild red eyes that glowed in the dark, sleek reddish-brown and dark green feathers, oily with evil.

I hated that bird and was thoroughly terrified of him.

I was about five when the rooster from hell crossed my path for the first time. My brother was six. To this day I believe that rooster lurked in the yard, waiting for my brother or me to come outside. He was a sneaky creature, full of cunning.

Seventy-plus years have not dimmed my memory of the terror I felt the first time that cannonball of pure wickedness homed in on me. All I could do was stand there and scream my head off. Fortunately someone, probably my grandmother, came into the yard and scooped him up before he could fly into my face and peck my eyes out! Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I swear I can still smell that bird’s chicken yard breath!

For days afterward I wouldn’t leave the safe haven of our house. My parents had little patience with slackers, and threatened me with dire consequences if I didn’t do my chores, which meant at some point, going outside.

With quivering, wet-noodle legs barely holding me up and a belly watery with anxiety, I opened the door carefully, scanned the yard to see if the evil one was anywhere around, then stepped outside, watchful and alert. About the time I started feeling easy in my mind, that foul fowl came cartwheeling right at me, a flurry of feathers churning up dust. An awful squawk raised the hair on my arms and neck. After one breathless second of terror I was off like a shot heading up the steps to the house screaming, “ Mama, Mama, Mama!”

My mother hated that bird almost as much as I did, but she wasn’t afraid of him. She hauled out the broom and went after him with a vengeance. “Shoo, shoo! Out of here or it’s into the pot for you!”

My father didn’t hate the rooster, but he didn’t like the fact that my brother and I were terrorized by something with feathers. Dad told us to yell or throw rocks at the rooster to scare it off. “You’re bigger than that bird, don’t let him scare you.”

As I recall, I wasn’t bigger. In my mind I was about the same size and I didn’t have spurs.

Nevertheless, with my father’s words as a motivator I made up my mind, no crummy chicken-legged piece of poultry was going to keep me prisoner in my own house. My brother and I started carrying a stick or a broom with us when we were outside. The yard became a battlefield, one we defended resolutely, usually with me standing behind my brother as he did battle for both of us, until one night something got into the hen house and the rooster met its end. I’ve always suspected my dad had a hand in that, but maybe not. Dad insisted it was a fox.

That rooster, as much as I despised him, and my father’s insistence that we couldn’t let a silly bird whup us, taught me a lot about not allowing fear to rule my life.

In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in a speech to Congress:

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want – which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings, which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear – which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world.”

There are a lot of roosters in the world, stirring up hatred and violence in every barnyard around the globe. Freedom from fear is something we lack in this anxiety-filled world. We’re afraid to speak out; we’re afraid not to speak out. We’re afraid we won’t have enough money to live. We’re afraid of terrorism – domestic and global. We’re afraid of illness. We’re afraid of death. We’re afraid nobody will like us. We’re afraid we won’t or can’t live up to the expectations of others. We’re afraid to marry. We’re afraid not to marry. We’re afraid our leaders are dolts. We’re afraid our homes are vulnerable to thieves. We’re afraid we are vulnerable to violence. We’re afraid of millions of problems that can arise in an instant over which we have absolutely no control.

The good news is that we have at our disposal two weapons to overcome that fear, much like the stick and the broom we used to defend ourselves against that wild-eyed rooster. We have courage and vision. It begins with courage based on wisdom and discernment, and is under-girded by a vision of ourselves as winners, not victims. Courage gives us confidence, vision gives us possibilities.

Be courageous and visionary. Don’t let the roosters win.

___________________

 Updated and reprinted from an opinion piece written by me in the Hermit’s Peak Gazette in January 1999. Given the state of the world, this seems as relevant today as the day I wrote it 20 years ago. Interestingly the words of President Roosevelt from 1941 resonate as well.


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Courage

Sundown

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 1 Peter 3:13-14

Sometimes courage shows
when we do the right thing;
when we stay quiet
in the cacophony of raised voices;
when gossip is being spread about.
Perhaps it is speaking faith
by your actions
when others say, “There is no God.”
Could it be prayer raised
on behalf of someone who is not like you
or who has treated you badly?
Don’t fear what other people think;
be true to who God made you to be,
that is the step-by-step journey
called courage.


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Rats!

Throw all your anxiety onto him, because he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 (The Daily Life Bible)

AnxietyWhat makes you anxious? Try to concentrate on the thing that’s eating you up over which you have some degree of control. Forget the world condition; as angst-ridden as it may be, you probably can’t do anything to affect decisions made outside your direct influence.

Think instead about the thing, person or situation that has your heart racing or your head pounding. Right now, today – for me – it’s a dead rat just outside the garage. My husband killed it and tried to convince me the droppings I’d found in the garage were lizard leavings, but I knew better.

I have a rat and mouse phobia. It nearly renders me catatonic. I want and need to scour the garage and make sure no taint of that rat is still there, but I’m afraid I’ll stir up a rat cousin.

This is the anxiety I’m having a tough time overcoming right this minute. It helps me breathe to write about it, but it’s still there, a vise at the back on my head squeezing out rational thought.

So, I call on the God of all things, large and small, to relieve my anxiety and help me put this in perspective. I have two choices: believe this rat was the only one and go on with my day, or think there may be others but somehow overcome my fears and get on with my day. The washer and dryer are in the garage and its laundry day. I have no choice but to suck it up.

Thank you, Lord of all, for courage to overcome something that in the greater scheme of life is nothing. And, please, keep the critters in the great outdoors where they belong!


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Courage in the chaos

Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

PrayerIt is normal to slide into panic when life surprises you in negative ways, but it is not in your best interest to stay there. Panic overload leads to poor decisions, causes words to be spoken that cannot be taken back, and generally keeps a person’s life in a state of uncertainty bordering on chaos. God is present. He can find us when we can’t seem to find him. His promise is to never leave us come what may. Each day brings opportunity, and yes, challenges. The challenges that create opportunities to get closer to God – and to each other – often prove to be the events that lead to enrichment.

__________________
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DEDICATION

NEW DAY

Doors open… and close
opportunity comes… and goes.
Life occurs ‘midst storm and trial,
yet there are reasons for us to smile.
Yes, life’s ruts make us stumble,
but courage assures we won’t crumble.
Rise, stand tall!
Follow life’s clarion call
to leap barriers in our way,
get to that better day.
Victory is ours to claim.
Tomorrow will never be the same
because today we gave a bit of who we are
and always, always raised the bar
to make of this moment now
all our dedication will allow.