Loretta Schoen – Under HIS Wings

Discover the Other Side of Medical Adversity from Being Pressed to Feeling Blessed


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Friendship No Foe Can Make Folly  

I was cleaning house the other day and as I dusted a picture of me and three other women I was struck but the specialness of our relationships.  Standing tall and smiling, we are linked arm to arm.  But there is more that links us, God has been weaving us, in and out of seasons, sharing history and experiences together in this life.  I close my eyes for a moment and my eyelids become a movie projector flashing memories and images of days gone by.

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The Hailstorm in My Mind

The fog begins to lift but I so want to remain within its midst, devoid of all thought, to continue my slumber.  I glance at the large red numbers on the clock: 4:30 am.  I have time.  I dig into the soft mattress and pull the covers up around my neck.  Sleep, you are getting sleepy.  My thoughts begin to drop like pellets of rain.  Slow at first.  I let them fall where they may, considering each and determining whether they will be a part of the upcoming day, almost enjoying where they are taking me.  Soon the rain turns into hail, ricocheting off the walls of my mind causing a flood of feelings from logistics of the day to “what-ifs” and worry.  Pellets of thoughts are hitting and hurting me as I try to catch them and collect them into baskets.  Slipping from my grasp they taunt and spite me.  The sound of the hail is deafening.  I am overwhelmed for they are too many and I have lost control of the storm that has rolled in even before I have stepped out of bed.

STOP!  I must seek shelter from the hailstorm in my mind!  I want the fog that lulls my mind in slumber to roll back in so I can just be.

Ah, to just be.  What would that take?  I whisper to God, “Come into my soul, come into my heart and come into my mind and melt away the hail storm that threatens my sanity”.  And in answer to my prayer I am carried gently by a warm breeze.  It is the Holy Spirit blowing through the field that is my mind pushing the hail into small melting pools of Holy Water thoughts.  The storm has receded.  While the pools of thought remain, they are no longer a threat to my spirit and I am once again at rest.

I smile and sigh.   Why did I not call on God sooner?

The holidays often bring with it frenetic cooking, shopping and preparing which can feel like a hailstorm in what should be a joyful time of year.  As we prepare for the birth of Christ, my prayer for you is that you take some time each day to invite God to melt away the hail and leave only the Holy water.

Prayer: God, turn my hailstorm into pools of Holy Water.  


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O Holy Night

O HOLY NIGHT

Dr. Jeff Sanders begins his article entitled “The Story Behind ‘O Holy Night’” with the following words:

It’s a tough song to sing isn’t it?  Also hard to play on the piano (so I’ve been told).  But it is the “show stopper” at many Christmas cantatas.  You just can’t help but get a thrill when you belt out the chorus “Fall on your knees. . ..”  But the carol “O Holy Night” was actually banned by church leadership, and if it were not for the common people, the powerful song would have faded into obscurity.

“O Holy Night” (in French it is Cantique de Noël) was composed by French musician Adolphe Charles Adams in 1847 to the poem “Cantique de Noel” (“Song of Christmas”) that was written by a French wine merchant, poet, named Placide Cappeau.  Cappeau had been asked by his parish priest to write a poem for the Christmas Eve service even though he had previously shown no interest in religion.

nativity

Agreeing to write such a song, he pondered the creation of this poem as he rode to Paris in his carriage.  During the ride, he imagined himself a witness to the birth of Christ.  The wonder of that glorious moment flowed through his pen, and he gave us the poem that became this carol.  But he needed music and the music had to lift the hearts and souls heavenward in song.

Cappeau’s friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, was a trained classical musician who would be well-able to create the appropriate music to support the poem’s spirit, but he was of the Jewish faith.  Nevertheless, Adams put his training to good use and composed the tune that fit the poem perfectly. It was, indeed, a perfect match and three weeks later the song was performed for the congregation on Christmas Eve.

While the people loved the carol, the French Catholic Church banned the song when it was discovered that the poet had abandoned the church and that the composer was not of the Christian faith.

However, the French people would not let the song die and they continued to sing it even if it had to be without the approval of the church.

When an American abolitionist, John Sullivan Dwight, heard the carol ten years later, he loved its message of hope.  He, of course, focused on the verse that says, “Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.”

Legend has it that the French Catholic Church received the song back into its worship services only after an encounter between French and German troops during the Franco-Prussian War.  During a lull in fighting, a French soldier stood up without weapon in his hands or by his side and he began singing “Cantique de Noel.”  The Germans were so moved that they responded by singing one of Luther’s carols “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come”.  The “songfest” encouraged the soldiers to honor a truce for 24 hours on Christmas.

Moving the story to a bit more recent times, on Christmas Eve, 1906, Reginald Fessenden (a former colleague of Thomas Edison) was experimenting with a microphone and the telegraph. He began reading the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke chapter 2.  Around the world, wireless operators on ships and at newspaper desks began to hear a man’s voice come out of their machines.  It was the first radio broadcast of a man’s voice and the beginning of the radio era spreading the Gospel of Christ.

But then, Fessenden picked up a violin and began to play “O Holy Night.”

The song written by a wine merchant, set to music by a Jewish composer, banned by church leaders, kept alive by the French, adopted by American abolitionists, sung by troops in the trenches, was broadcast to the whole world by invisible radio waves, and is loved and sung still today.

Father, we thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who left His home in glory to come to this fallen world, for the sole purpose of being the sacrificial Lamb who would take away the sin we have so grievously committed.  We praise Your Holy Name and bow at the feet of our Lord, the Babe in the manger, the One who came that Holy Night, Jesus Christ, our Savior.


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Who am I – David or Goliath?

I have often said that I would rather have a baby than go to the dentist.  But at 63, I may have to rethink that statement as I am exhausted after a full day with my two adorable grand kids let alone childbirth.

I have a deep seated, illogical fear of the dentist, tensing up and expecting the worse.  So you can imagine the state I was in when I learned that I needed not only a crown but a root canal.  My bowels were in an uproar, my mind muddled with a myriad of possible dental tortures and I wanted to retreat into an imaginary land where magic would make all this disappear.

But I wasn’t in an imaginary land and the ache in my mouth was real.  It wouldn’t go away.

So there I was with the endodontist’s hand expertly rummaging in my mouth giving me injections to numb the area enough so that he could excavate the dying root.  Outwardly, other than my hands clutching the arms of the chair, I appeared calm; but inwardly—

Whenever I find myself in a situation which causes me to panic and run for the hills, I rely on a few bible verses which I repeat over and over. I find that they help center me and focus on God rather than the expected and impending doom.

Psalm 91:4 “The Lord will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge.  His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

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Habakkuk 3:19 “The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army.”

It took quite a few injections until I no longer felt anything but pressure.  After about an hour, I realized I could relax. As I did so, I stopped saying my verses and thought “I’m good, God.  I don’t need you now”.  And as soon as I thought this, I felt an ache deep down in the gallows of my jaw causing me to jump!  It was momentary but the dentist notice and paused, asking me if I was in pain. I signaled that I was ok. But I was not. The physical pain was gone but the emotional pain was not.

I knew that it wasn’t the dentist who had dug down deep, but God.  In that split second I knew that God was showing me that in all times, in all ways, I needed Him.  Not just in the scary times, but in every time.  In that single thought I was being Goliath – puffed up with self-importance, thinking I needed only to depend on myself.  In contrast, David relied on God knowing he was weak but that God would use his weakness to arm him with the confidence and assurance that only God can bring.  For in his knowledge of his weakness, he knew that God would be strong – stronger than any Goliath of the land.

Sitting in the dentist chair, I was reminded that we are not smart enough, strong enough, fearless enough for this world, but God is.  Our battles are the Lords and each battle can drive us to Christ.  With Christ as our champion, He is always with us, facing the giants of our life – Even when it’s the dentist.

When did you depend only on yourself rather than on God?  What made you realize that without Him you could not survive and thrive through it?  Please share so that others might gain from your experience.


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Keepsakes, Scars and Rocks

While most of us collect keepsakes, I seem to collect scars.  A coronary artery bypass scar, breast cancer scar, a hysterectomy scar, two hip replacement scars – you get my drift.  They are like the stones God asked the Israelites to collect as reminders of when He safely carried them across the river to dry ground.  While each of my scars represents a journey I was reluctant and afraid to participate in, they too, remind me that God has walked with me and delivered me to dry ground.

As I prepare for Thanksgiving this year, I am in wonderment of the body God has created for each of us to inhabit while on this earth.  The resiliency despite the scaring, the strength despite the wear and tear, and its ability to repair and heal give me pause to reflect in awe of His creation.  I give thanks for the body he has given me and I ask that He give me the ability to care for it wisely and to use it for His works and His desires for me.

It is my prayer that each of you sees your body not as the media or society judges them but as God sees them and as He see us.  As you overindulge (I know I will) in the bounty of a heavily laden Thanksgiving table, think of how every part is working in tandem to sort through the plethora of carbs, proteins, fats and sugar to assimilate, process and discard what it needs and what it does not.  All as we enjoy the chaotic, crazy, loving company of family and friends.

Remember to set a place setting for Jesus at the table and share with those gathered together a time when God was with you as you traversed the turbulent rivers of life.  For no matter how many scars, or whatever disease or disability you may be encountering may you only see the magnificent beauty of your body and God’s faithful presence in your life.

Blessings for health and wellness.

Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, “What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.”’  – Joshua 4:21-22 (NIV)