Loss

I’m no poet, but I think this is a touching and moving poem. It was written by Kara Dedert, whose son, Calvin, was born with multiple disabilities while Kara and her husband Darryl were serving as missionaries in Cambodia. You can read her full story on her blog. This is how Kara introduces this poem:

Loss comes in different ways. I’ve been thinking about my friend’s mom with Parkinson’s, a girl recently separated from her husband and struggling to care for her disabled daughter, a father fighting cancer, a family whose children have been unjustly taken away. I think all of those situations, especially those that surprise us, leave us with these sentiments.

The cool thing about having a blog is you can write what you like. So here it is folks, the editor’s nightmare. And that’s okay. I have no idea if it’s poetry, an essay, or just freehand words. Whatever it is, it spilled out on paper and I wonder if you can relate to it too.

LOSS

Loss sweeps you off your feet.
It comes, uninvited, with no apology.

It lifts you up, tips you upside-down
and shakes you til you’re empty
and it’s hard to find any piece of you left.

It broadsides you. You may be
looking up at the sun, reaching
for the next mercy that’s before you.

It hits you from behind and your feet,
they flail wildly unable to touch
the ground and find security, stability.

Survival makes them quiet. Makes
them set down beneath you and move
forward shakily on this new ground.

Your hearts stays behind but your feet
they move, driven by routine,
producing a stilted rhythm but
it’s in moving that your heart keeps
its beating and your life keeps on living.

They say time heals. Maybe it does.
But when I look back I still see
a deep, deep, hole. It has a sign
called LOSS at the edge. And a face
of a little boy there.
What face do you see?

But these feet shuffling forward
point my eyes to another spot. It is
a sign with GAIN written all over.
It also has the picture of
a little boy there.

In the folds of His providence
there are mercy treasures and
unexpected joys that my tired eyes
and slow heart never thought to see.
It continues beyond even what my
eyes can see.

So all these holes and
all these mercies exist, together.
The gains do not erase the loss.
And the loss opens our hearts to
gains we never imagined.


Before you call, I will answer

Jack Westerink has been a much-loved husband, father, elder, and Christian School Principal for many years. A few months ago, we were all shocked to hear that Jack had been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gherig’s disease), a disease of the nerve cells in the brain that results in gradual muscle weakening and wasting. However, he and his dear wife Lena have continued to testify to the loving faithfulness of God as they navigate this shadowy valley. Here’s a sample of their most recent email update (posted with permission).

Hello family,

Just to keep you all updated on how the Lord has marvelously provided for us again last week.

I received a call from a school parent that an elder from her church had decided to donate a motorized wheelchair to me. He died six weeks ago from ALS. Before he died, he and his wife decided that because God had really blessed their business  they would not  sell any of his equipment but  give it away to someone else who needed it. When they heard that I had ALS, they decided to give it to me.

Last week the widow, her grand-daughter and some friends came over with a truck and trailer.They delivered the electric wheelchair, a lazy boy lift chair as well as various other assistive devices, probably worth over $18,000.00!  After talking with us over a cup of iced tea about their difficult journey, she said that she had other things at home that would be useful and that we could also have them if we were interested, all for free. She would bring them over on another day. At the end of the visit she gave us both a big hug, her best wishes, and said she was praying for us. We had never even met this woman before!

We were not looking forward to all the hassle and red tape of  filling out  forms [to apply for wheelchair, etc], but we had them all laying  ready on our desk, when this woman phoned for the first time. I hadn’t prayed about these details yet, to my shame, and I was wondering how were we ever going to be able to purchase such an expensive wheelchair and all the other equipment I would need and here it was delivered to our doorstep and without even filling out one form!!

It brought to mind the scripture: “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24)

Our covenant keeping God is so good, and true to His Word.


Catchy sermon titles?

Should we work at crafting catchy sermon titles?

Well, according to my friend Steven Lee, President of SermonAudio.com, the best way to increase sermon downloads is to improve sermon titles.

We may not like it, but that’s reality.

Unless you think it’s extra holy to minimize the number of your listeners, you are probably asking: “So, how do I do it?”

In many ways it’s like writing headlines. That’s why Matt Thompson’s 10 questions to help you write better headlines is so useful. Here’s a summary checklist:

  1. Is the headline accurate?
  2. Does it work out of context?
  3. How compelling a promise does it make?
  4. How easy is it to parse?
  5. Could it benefit from a number?
  6. Are all the words necessary?
  7. Does it obey the Proper Noun Rule?
  8. Would it work better as an explanatory headline?
  9. Does it focus on events or implications?
  10. Could it benefit from one of these 10 words? Top, Why, How, Will, New, Secret, Future, Your, Best, Worst.

And you can read the Matt’s exposition of each question here.


Gentle Reformation

I’ve been really enjoying reading a (relatively) new blog, Gentle Reformation. It’s description:

Gentle Reformation is a cooperative effort by friends in the R&P faith (Reformed and Presbyterian) to speak the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in its many applications through the media of the internet.  Our blog is intentionally styled:

  • to be persuasive rather than polemical (seeking to avoid the condescending pride that is, sadly, too often seen in R&P circles among those who, of all people, should be able knowledgeably to  say “by the grace of God I am what I am”);
  • to speak in a tone that is pastoral rather than pejorative (though Biblical faithfulness demands that we cry “Wolf!” on occasion (see Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29-31), we will be sure to do it only when warranted and not so often that we start sounding like that proverbial boy);
  • and to consider the people in the pews rather than professors and pastors as our primary audience (though many of us, being such ourselves, love pastors and professors and invite them to read along!).

I’m especially grateful for the “popular” focus and even more grateful for being permitted to tag along!