Unruly Sheep Feeding Each Other

“At a point later in the year I observed a paddock with two mature ewes with rather thick necklaces of twisted hay. These stubborn ewes, I was told, had taken a disliking to one another in the field and were almost incessantly butting and harassing each other. These edible Elizabethan-style ruffs of hay were the only source of food in the pen, so if the battling ewes wanted to feed they had to get up close and nuzzle, ultimately developing a bond of familiarity” (Craeft, Alexander Langlands 73).

It’s happened more than we care to admit. We decide we don’t like someone. Then Providence pushes us together in a way that we have to rely on each other.

We come to see the “adversary” in a new light. A bond forms.

In the church, that’s community. Imperfect, sometimes ugly. Yet a community, ideally, that feeds its members.

Sheep crave community. Even if it means building a bond with an adversary. The wise shepherd puts the unruly sheep in a situation where they must feed each other so they can both return to the flock.

Craig Rogers says, “Although many think of their flocking instinct to be a sign of “dumbness,” it is in fact a community-based survival mechanism where they have learned that their strength is much greater in numbers and their comfort and survival is enhanced as a group rather than as an individual. Not a bad lesson for all of us.”

Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their toil. If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one. But woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help.  So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm?  Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord[ais not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NABRE).

Remember that Christian who irritates you? Offer some food–figurative or real–and try to get comfortable as an ally in faith. And how about that neighbor who’s a non-believer? That’s someone outside the flock, perhaps a wounded spirit just waiting for an invitation.

Like sheep wearing food around our necks, we carry the Bread of Life with us.

The lost sheep live among and around us. And we are the only ones who can invite them to come home.


Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Hospitality Overcomes Hostility

It was 2017. Donald Trump had just been inaugurated. The president’s bad behavior of the past frustrated many women. They decided to march on Washington in protest. But pro-life women were not welcome.

This event was exclusive to a particular mindset–one that viewed the sanctity of human life stance with hostility.

But not all the women shared hostility for all things pro-life.

And that some women learned more about the pro-life perspective that day may simply be due to an aversion to the porta-potty.

if you’ve ever marched in Washington, you are either acquainted with the porta-potty, aka porta-john, or you strategically plan your bathroom breaks. If you are marching in the cold of January, you work harder at the strategic plan of finding bathroom facilities.

In Building the Benedict Option, Leah Libresco tells the story of the Dominican friars of Washington, DC, who welcomed pro-choice protesters to use their bathroom facilities in 2017. They opened their doors to women protesting the election of Donald Trump–protesting the rise to office of a president whose past behavior had been unsavory–a president who claimed to be pro-life.

At first, it was only 12 women seeking to use the facilities; then it became more than 100. Libresco quotes the account of Brother Martin Davis:

“The peculiar situation of some people wearing ‘Get your rosaries off my ovaries’ next to men wearing rosaries on their belts did not stop many [of the women] from inquiring into what brings us to live lives dedicated to Christ” (105-06).

Libresco explains that the friars answered the women’s questions about their work and their beliefs about abortion and unborn life, among other topics. The grateful women then passed a hat collecting over $100 for the church.

They warned Brother Martin to avoid reading the text on the hat they passed.

It was an unlikely encounter and yet a profound one. The friars may have found the march discouraging. They might have withdrawn and stayed behind closed doors. They might have lost hope.

Libresco: “To be a Christian means to believe that hopelessness is always a misapprehension at best, and, at worst, a form of spiritual attack” (158).

More than 100 women saw the beauty of Christ that day and heard the message of life. The march’s organizers tried to shut out that message. But a simple act of hospitality on a cold day shut the door against hostility. And it didn’t take much.

From Libresco: “[T]he friars weren’t engaging in traditional witness. They weren’t preaching or participating in a street prayer vigil” (106-07).

They were just being hospitable Christians. They obeyed a calling from God and opened a door where minds and hearts had been closed.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Abortion, Child Abuse, Poverty, and the Lies that Perpetuate Them

“The great conflicts in American history, especially slavery, civil rights, and abortion, have been unusually hard-fought and passionate because they cannot be understood as symbolic fights over different worldviews or cultures. Instead, they are better understood as clashes over how common liberal values should be extended to different categories of humans. These conflicts have been disagreements over who counts as a human person.” (Jon Shields)

It was supposed to fix it all–women dying from illegal abortions, child abuse, poverty. Abortion would end dangerous, back alley procedures that killed desperate girls and women. Child abuse would end. Lessening the burden from “unwanted children” would enhance the economic stability of the poor.

Compassionate helpers would be the heroes of abortion “rights”. That’s what they told us in the 1960s and ’70s and into the ’80s. Perhaps some were misguided. We can see now that others were intentionally deceiving us.

Former atheist and “abortion doctor” Bernard Nathanson revealed the concoctions after his conversions–first to a pro-life perspective, then to a Christian one. A leading proponent of ‘legal and safe’ abortion became a vocal proponent for life–and a voice of truth.

“Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200 – 250 annually [before 1973]. The figure constantly fed to the media was 10,000. These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans convincing many that we needed to crack the abortion law.”

Cracking the abortion law caused, Nathanson said, “the annual number of abortions . . . [to increase] by 1500% since legalization.”

The reporting of abortion complications in 24 states is voluntary, so the numbers we have are guesses.  Even so, the CDC acknowledges that four-hundred and thirty-seven women have died in America of legal abortion between 1972 and 2014. Legal and safe was not safe for them.

America bought the lie. And much of what abortion was supposed to fix got much worse.

I remember the slogan: “Every child should be a wanted child.” The irony is that the rates of child abuse and abortion parallel each other. When abortion rates rise, so do those of child abuse.

Some may argue that better reporting has led to greater transparency of abuse that was going unreported before. But the rates of abuse simply do not translate into abortion access reducing child abuse. Child abuse was a problem before liberal abortion laws; today it is a bigger problem. America bought the lie that abortion would reduce, even eliminate, child abuse.

And poverty. Abortion would keep women out of poverty by ensuring that an unplanned child did not interrupt a mother’s education or require her to leave her job.
Rachel MacNair sites Thomas J. Strahan’s assertion that abortion can exacerbate poverty. “Experience suggests abortion may instead actually be a contributing factor. Through an increase in broken relationships, psychological difficulties, and substance abuse, a practice which is done exclusively on women may put them at greater economic disadvantage.”

And as compassionate as abortionists might like to present themselves, nobody does abortions for free.

An abortion website lists the prices for a medication abortion (abortion by pill rather than surgical procedure) at between $400 to over $790. Costs of surgical abortions begin lower($350) and increase with the age of the unborn child (to more than $3,000). I ‘m at a loss to understand how a pill (a set of four pills) can be, at any point, higher in cost than that of a surgical procedure.

ike the purveyors of illegal abortion, those who engage in the legal practice of ending a pregnancy through the death of a child conduct their business on a cash upfront basis.

Abortion “providers” were supposed to care deeply about women. But those who perform abortions do not provide. They sell. They earn. They prosper.

They are also potential Bernard Nathansons. As he turned from lies to truth, so can they. Robert P. George credits Nathanson’s transformation to the “luminous power of truth.” Truth changed Bernard Nathanson.

Forty-six years ago last month, seven robed justices afflicted America with the lie of free and easy abortion. We have not been the same since. Sometimes, we feel hopeless.

But our hope is always in truth. And there is power in that.


Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Adapted from a post from January 2016.

Friends, Family, and Revolutions

“In a post-Christian culture the dominant worldview is not longer founded on Christian principles. . . The Church no longer shapes the culture. . . . In a very real sense, this ‘post-Christian’ world is coming full circle to resemble the pre-Christian world.” From Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It AgainAquilina and Papandrea, 23.

In the 1950s and ’60s we made room for Daddy and Father knew best, and Donna Reed’s version of Mom held her own as did Lucille Ball’s.

Entertainment mirrors society. As the family is the foundation of Christian culture, so it was in the land of television more than half a century ago. But in the late ’60s and into the ’70s, as America turned away from devotion to God, television lost its devotion to family.

In the 1970s Archie Bunker was a cartoonish father who did not know best. Television celebrated the single woman with Marlo Thomas’s That Girl and Mary Tyler Moore’s self-named series. Men were accessories, not necessities.

In the late ’70s came One Day at a Time, celebrating the woman emancipated by divorce. In the 1990s, Seinfeld was a show about nothing and Friends brought us the sexual escapades of six friends who sometimes came with benefits. Slowly, the television family had been distorted.

Television has become a primary conduit of culture with the average child viewing 28 to 32 hours a week of programming. Television provides much of the information we receive and shapes our ideas. It is an influence on par with the Church and family of the past.

A child growing up on a steady diet of typical network programming would think friendship to be the foundational life relationship, not marriage or a family connection. That sounds like a strange idea. But it’s an idea the world has embraced before.

The Ancient Greek Achilles spent most of the Trojan War upset that he had lost his “prize”–a woman/sex slave he had won through his feats. He only reentered the fight to avenge the death of his friend Patroclus.

Achilles’ fellow soldier Odysseus spent 20 years yearning to get home to his wife. The war consumed 10 years as Odysseus fought beside male counterparts. He spent the next 10 years trying to get home to his faithful Penelope, but enjoying some dalliances along the way. Odysseus retired to marriage; he did not invest his life in it. His son grew to manhood with his father absent.

The Trojan survivor Aeneas left his lover Dido to achieve his greater destiny–founding Rome. Aeneas later married Lavinia after brokering the deal with her father. “The Roman gentlemen we meet in literature were more likely to reserve ‘love’ for the exalted philosophical relationship between equals [other men of their social standing] that they theoretically prized” (Aquilina and Papandrea 71).

Ancient Greeks and Romans reserved affection for friends; marriage was about deal making. American feminism in the 1970s asserted that marriage was a financial arrangement, detrimental to women. Now unmarried couples cohabitate to save money. And prenuptial agreements and no-fault divorce laws do not seem to have contributed greatly to the romance or longevity of marriage.

For some people today, friendship does supersede marriage as the primary relationship. It’s not just that some friendships outlast some marriages. That can happen in any age. It’s that many Americans have come to expect more from their friendships and less from their marriages, just as ancient pagans did.

“From the point of view of Roman tradition, the single most revolutionary thing in Christianity was Paul’s startling instruction “Husbands, love your wives” (71).

The more America rejects traditional marriage and the family, the more like the pagan world America becomes. And the more pagan our nation becomes, the more clearly Christianity should stand out in contrast.

But “the truth is that many self-proclaimed Christians are joining the paganization of the culture, not to mention the criticism of Christianity itself” (23).

To embrace true Christianity today means becoming revolutionary. People will only hear us if we are willing to recognize the “challenges to traditional faith, call them out, and resist them. We will also need to support one another . . . speaking up for our brothers and sisters when they are ridiculed.”

Unity among Christians who embrace orthodoxy in faith and tradition in marriage and family will be crucial to our effectiveness in once more turning the world upside down.

“In this way, the Church of the twenty-first century can overcome the new paganism the way the Church of the pre-Christian world overcame the old paganism . . . by refusing to deny the faith and by being willing to risk our lives (or the comfort of our lifestyles) for something bigger than ourselves” (32).

Refuse to deny. Be willing to risk. Pursue the God bigger than ourselves.

One at a time, we can overturn paganism for Christ once more.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is available in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Today’s post revised from January 2016

Down a Slippery Slope

When we think of pediatricians, we usually think of kindly people looking to care for infants, young children, tweens, and teens.

We tend not to call to mind the newly elected governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam. In a radio interview, Northam went beyond supporting abortion and beyond even supporting late term abortion. Northam espoused abortion after birth.

Northam’s comments came during a radio interview in which he supported an abortion proposal that would provide no restrictions until birth–clarifying that a woman could be in the throes of labor, preparing to give birth, and could still opt to terminate her child.

And that such a decision could even be made between a mother and her physician after the baby is born.

“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

He made little mention of fathers being part of the decision.

After a great outcry over his comments, he complained that opponents were taking his comments out of context since such a situation would happen only in “the case of tragic or difficult circumstances . . . [such as] severe deformities.”

Essentially, the governor proposes infanticide–the intentional killing of a born child–because of medical issues the child would face.

Except the bill makes no mention of exceptions–of disabilities that would disqualify a child from life. The bill would allow abortion for any reason at any time.

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska is one of those criticizing Northam’s stance. “In just a few years pro-abortion zealots went from ‘safe, legal, and rare’ to ‘keep the newborns comfortable while the doctor debates infanticide.’”

It’s been quite a slide from safe and rare to several states giving an official stamp of approval on late abortions. Yet the slide toward infanticide is not over in Virginia yet. CBSnews reports that a majority Republican committee has tabled the bill.

This time.

The winds of politics blow to and fro. And the next election cycle could produce a committee in lockstep with the governor’s views of life.

Abortion is a big issue right now. As a nation, we are bracing as the SCOTUS decisions that removed all barriers to abortion hang in the balance. Most Americans don’t realize that, in 1973, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton legalized abortion until birth.

In the wake of a more conservative court now–and in view of health problems the court’s oldest justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg suffers presently–some states are taking steps to put restrictions on abortion in place. Others, as New York has done and Virginia is considering, are moving to ensure that no restrictions exist in their states.

Should Roe and Doe die the death of the Dred Scott decision, in places where abortion will remain unrestrained, a culture against life will only continue to grow.

And even some doctors, whom we would expect to care for the welfare of children, will become those who ensure their doom. Doctors like Ralph Northam lead the vanguard of such a culture.

No civilization ever stands still. It moves upward toward a noble culture that values even the weak, or it turns downward into a morass of death.

The state of Virginia gave us Thomas Jefferson who crafted the Declaration of Independence and James Madison who developed the Bill of Rights.

Yet in tomorrow’s Virginia, life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness may belong only to the chosen. Virginia–and every other state who takes this path–will have fallen.

And the fall will be great indeed.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered came out in paperback on January 22, 2019! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The View from Inside the Fence

Abby Johnson worked in the building that sat inside the fence. Outside the fence, pro-life people prayed.

At one point, the people praying logged 40 days of prayer–two people at the site 24/7 for the duration of 40 days.

Abby Johnson had begun her career at Planned Parenthood as a volunteer. She walked with “clients” from their cars to the door of the abortion facility as she talked to them–trying to distract them as those holding vigil outside the fence tried to offer help other than abortion.

Abby then moved up through the ranks of hired employees to the position of clinic director. She became the on-site boss.

The pro-lifers offered her friendship and continued to pray.

After eight years, Abby became one of those on the outside of the fence–one offering prayers for the clients as well as the clinic employees and volunteers. And she tells of her transition in Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the LifeLine.

I read this book–in a matter of a few days–after I’d read Abby’s second book–The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories. I finished that book in just a bit more than 24 hours. I could not put it down.

The Preface of that book begins with this statement from Abby: “This will not be an enjoyable read. It is a necessary one, however, as it narrates the real-life experiences of former abortion clinic workers who agreed to be interviewed, as well as some of my own.”

Reading the books out of order actually provided the context for less detailed stories she provides in Unplanned.

Neither book is for the faint of heart. Yet, I agree with Abby’s preface to the second book: It is necessary.

You might wonder how someone could get caught up in the abortion industry to begin with. And you may also wonder why so many are leaving their jobs.

Swallow hard and pick these books up as soon as you can. Their pages will change you.

Pray for Abby’s ministry–And Then There Were None–which helps abortion workers walk away, get new jobs, and build new lives.

And pray for 40 Days for Life–a ministry Abby once thought was limited to her own clinic but which now touches five continents. Pray for them all prayer warriors and clinic workers. Women and babies.

Prayer makes a difference. Just ask Abby Johnson.


Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered came out in paperback on January 22, 2019! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Transparency: Sharing the Real You to Get Help and Give Help

“One after another, a half dozen people in the room named some of the worst things that had happened to them and offered them freely as a gift to the rest of us. In some cases, I had already known the cross a friend was carrying, but there were several weights I learned about for the first time that night. . . My friends moved on from offering conventional strengths and put forward their suffering as their contribution.” Leah Libresco, 56

It’s something we don’t consider often enough. But it makes a big difference as we go through a difficult time and someone else walks with us. It also makes a big difference for someone else who thinks they are struggling alone as we offer to walk with them.

Perhaps it’s happening to you. You face a challenge, but you don’t want anyone to know. You want to keep your secret. Those around you seem so whole and perfect. You don’t want to appear to be the only broken one.

Then perhaps you finally give up your secret. Or even better, when you’re still trying to keep up the appearance of perfection, someone else spits out their secret. You gasp in surprise and relief.

You too?

In sharing your secret or receiving someone else’s, you find a companion who walking that same path.

If we never share our secrets, we can never receive the help we need. And we can never give our help to others.

It seems hard. But it’s not a new idea. It comes from the pen of Paul in a letter of encouragement.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.” II Corinthians 1: 3-5

In our darkest times, we can find encouragement and compassion.

In the darkest time of a friend, we can be the encouragement and compassion God has already given us.

Show your true self. Give up your secret. Receive and give grace and help. Let encouragement overflow.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered came out in paperback on January 22, 2019! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Championing the Unborn Even When It’s Hard

“Eleven jack-booted thugs” raided his house to retrieve the evidence. They thought he was a criminal. But the evidence implicated someone else.

Many someone else’s, actually. They are the someones at Planned Parenthood whom he caught negotiating the sale of the body parts of unborn children.

He calls himself a citizen-journalist. He is David Daleiden, and he spoke at the 2019 March for Life Conference in Washington, DC, last week.

“The body parts [of unborn children], he says are valuable to sell because they are just like ours,” he says, proving the humanity of the unborn because they are just like us.

The videos reveal that Planned Parenthood has violated the law by selling the body parts, performing partial-birth abortions in order to obtain them, and ignoring the Born Alive Act requiring that viable unborn children born alive as a result of abortion receive immediate medical attention.

(Reader discretion advised as you proceed.)

Planned Parenthood claims that they only receive reimbursement for processing, and shipping and handling costs. But Daleiden has recovered a copy of an invoice showing a double charge–per body part–for two fetal eyeballs shipped in the same package.

Daleiden refers to Planned Parenthood’s abortion business as “state-funded, industrial scale abortion.”

The word industrial implies a for-profit venture on a mass scale. Medicine (like education and law) was once a profession–an art practiced with the idea that the main advantage would come to the recipient of a service–not to the practitioner. The patient was someone to assist back to better health–not someone to exploit for profit.

Criminal charges against Daleiden have been dropped, but Planned Parenthood’s civil suit against him remains. He would appreciate your prayers.

There is a wonderful irony in the story of David Daleiden. He describes himself as “the product of a crisis pregnancy situation.” He grew up with the idea that sometimes children are conceived in less than ideal circumstances, but that “now is always a good time to welcome a new little person into the world.”

Now is a wonderful time to welcome the new little people that Planned Parenthood is horrifically exploiting for profit.

David Daleiden could have been among them. He is one Planned Parenthood missed.

And our world is better because of that.

—————————————–

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered comes out in paperback on January 22, 2019! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Restoration of Confession

“[A]nd My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” —2 Chronicles 7:14

[D]irt, soot, and grime can build up on both sides of [stained] glass from pollution, smoke, and oxidation. In churches the traditional burning of incense or candles can eventually deposit carbon layers. These deposits can substantially reduce the transmitted light and make an originally bright window muted and lifeless.[i]—Neal A. Vogel

Six months after I became a mother, my own mother passed away from congestive heart disease. She was only fifty-four, and I was only nineteen. Her illness took her quickly, and there was no time for the kind of healing conversations that might have reduced my regret after she was gone.

After she died, Dad decided to sell the house and move into a small apartment. As we were helping him prepare for his move, my brother and I were cleaning the attic and musing over some of our finds. I still have two—a silver sugar bowl and a veneered dresser that sits in my dining room. But our most fascinating treasure was inside the top drawer of the otherwise empty dresser—a letter Dad had written to his future mother-in-law, Mother Miller, as he called her.

He was writing from California where he was waiting to deploy to the uncertainty of the South Pacific during World War II. He wrote of his sense of “blank thrill”—a combination of “the feeling of the unknown and also adventure.” He discussed how much he enjoyed the navy and how glad he was to be with the men beside him. He expressed his eagerness to return to those he loved after the war. “Back home, I have a wonderful collection of friends; good ones. You and your family come first, Nan of this group being first. She means everything in life for me—and to think about her and the two of us together after the war makes all this worthwhile.”

Dad wrote of three things that gave him a sense of security. First was his assurance in the men he was with: “in our commanders and the reason we are going, also we will be successful in our detail.” The second was his friends at home and “the strength my love for Nan gives me and hers for me.” His third source of strength was his “faith and trust in God.” The first two addressed “my worldly cares, the last, my spiritual … I can leave tomorrow satisfied completely in everything I live for. Not a question in my mind of a thing left undone, or a word unkindly said, not righted, not a care.” The letter was dated August 10, 1942, eight months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Years later I mentioned the letter to him. “I was saying goodbye” was his response, “just in case.”

The part of the letter that has always stuck with me is that he left “no word unkindly said, not righted.” He had done all he could to make everything right with everyone he was leaving behind. He might have been able to convince himself that he didn’t have time to fix things with everyone or that whatever he had done wrong was not a big deal. Instead, “just in case,” he had made things right.

I spent many years dwelling on the sins of my husband before I fully acknowledged my own. I told myself that his sins were of greater magnitude than mine and the cause for justifiable bitterness. My own sins were tiny, long ago, easily explained away as the result of immaturity and, therefore, easily forgiven. Year by year conviction peeled back layers of self-justification and excuses. I marveled that so many years after the poor decisions I made, the consequences of my sin had such weight.

I can look back now and see that God redeemed and restored much that my sin could have destroyed forever.

* * * * *

Up close and personal, the other person’s sins always seem bigger than our own. We don’t see the judgmental beam in our own eye for the speck in theirs. Inevitably, hindsight comes closer to 20/20. As the image of the window becomes clearer, so does the reflection of ourselves in it.

Time gives us the objectivity to see two sides where before we could only see one. We realize that we too are not without sin. We have no stones to throw. We can give forgiveness and ask for it too. The perspective of time gives us the opportunity to repent of sins that might seem long ago and far away. Only Christ, through our true repentance, can wash them away.

Repentance is how we start to restore the image of the Bride, not in a public relations sense, but in a biblical one. And repentance begins with the faithful.

Why the faithful? Isn’t repentance something for the unbelieving population to grasp—those we perceive are messing up the world and dragging our culture into a downward spiral? Yes, it’s something they need to do to become part of the Bride, part of the picture. But the kind of repentance that can turn the world around is for us. It’s for his people already in the church.

I didn’t come to this idea on my own. I’d been praying for our nation to turn back to God, but in my mind that always involved something someone else needed to do. I’ll pray. I’ll watch. I’ll work when I can. I’ll cheer when it happens.

At brunch one day, my longtime friend, Renee, dropped a brick of truth on my head. “He calls his own people to repentance—my people … called by my Name.”

That is me.

That is us.

….

Confession, they say, is good for the soul. When we let others see who we truly are, they can be transparent with us. We can become companions who mentor and disciple each other. Mentoring helps us find a new path in life. Discipling includes bearing one another’s burdens, and confession is part of that. Discipling helps us navigate our new path in faith that grows as it goes.

Christ is the Great Forgiver and the Great Physician who cleans the glass. The repentant church in accord radiates the image of the window in vivid clarity.

* * * * *

 “I wish,” Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff: “but it’s too late now.”

“What is the matter?” asked the Spirit.

“Nothing,” said Scrooge. “Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something: that’s all.”[i]

—Charles Dickens


[i] Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Stave Two (London: Chapman and Hall, 1846), Project Gutenberg, released August 11, 2004, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm.

Excerpted from Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord–in paperback January 22, 2019.


[i] Neal A. Vogel and Rolf Achilles, “The Preservation and Repair of Historic Stained and Leaded Glass,” National Park Service, Technical Preservation Services, October 2007, https://www.nps.gov/tps/how-to-preserve/briefs/33-stained-leaded-glass.htm.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When We Don’t Understand Why

“Why?

“God, are you here?

“What does this suffering mean?

“At first those questions had enormous weight and urgency. I could hear Him. I could almost make out an answer. But then it was drowned out by what I’ve now heard a thousand times. ‘Everything happens for a reason’ or ‘God is writing a better story.’ . . .

“The world of certainty had ended and so many people seemed to know why” (xv-xvi). Cancer was happening to Kate Bowler, a young wife and new mother, and she did not know why.

In Bowler’s Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved, the author provides wisdom, wit, and rawness to guide us through her story of dealing with terminal cancer–all without dragging us down.

Bowler has spent her career as an academic studying the Christian prosperity gospel–the view that all will be well. She and her husband endured the brutal uncertainty of infertility–until their son finally arrived and all, indeed, appeared well.

But then came the horrible diagnosis of terminal cancer. Doctors gave her no hope, but hope was all she yearned for.

“The prosperity gospel is a theodicy, an explanation for the problem of evil. It is an answer to the questions that take our lives apart: Why do some people get healed and others don’t? . . . The prosperity gospel looks at the world as it is and promises a solution. It guarantees that faith will always make a way” (xiii).

The philosophy of the prosperity gospel, she says, was “painfully sweet. . . . And no matter how many times I rolled my eyes at the creed’s outrageous certainties, I craved them just the same” (xiv).

Certainty is something we all crave in life. We seek financial security, good health, and we pray for the provision of health, wealth, and safety for ourselves and those we love.

But we never know what any day may bring. And many times, when the tests come, we don’t understand their purposes.

Bowler’s book is, at times, a rant, not at God, but at the thoughtless among us who don’t know how to avoid saying the most hurtful thing. It is, at times, a grand celebration of life. And it is, at times, a plumbing of the reality many of us will face–a physical decline toward the end.

Yet as she navigates her darkest days, she manages to uplift us. Even to make us laugh. And to help us live in the moment we have–to live in today.

It’s something we strive for–to live in the moment. To deal with the past and leave it behind. To live in the now instead of the not yet.

And we hope it won’t take bad news from a medical team to teach us to dwell in today–something Bowler thought she was doing.

She had spent her life, she believed, “in the center” between the past and the future.

But “I rarely let my feet rest on solid ground, rooting me in the present. My eyes shifted to look for that thing just beyond, the next deadline, the next hurdle, the next plan. . . . As [my husband and I] walked through the tall Carolina oaks on a fall trail dusted with Technicolor leaves, my mind hummed with possible futures. Always. If I were to invent a sin to describe what that was–for how I lived–I would not say it was simply that I didn’t stop to smell the roses. It was the sin of arrogance, of becoming impervious to life itself. I failed to love what was present and decided to love what was possible instead” (154-56).

Bowler’s book is a gentle, well-crafted reminder to love what is present–to be present in today for today is all we can hold.

And today is enough.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”