Exposed by Peggy

Exposed.  The very word invokes thoughts of discomfort; even pain.  Have you ever had an exposed nerve in a tooth, or an exposed wound?  I shudder to think of it! Even worse than physical pain is the emotional and mental anguish that some feel they may experience if things they keep hidden are exposed.

I’ve never felt that I am pretty.  Never.  In fact, there is probably only one day in my entire life that I can say that I actually did feel pretty.  That’s just the truth of it. The truth of my feelings.   As a little girl I was abnormally skinny,  wore glasses and, when very young, couldn’t hear well at all.  I was the weird little nerdy one who seemed to be completely introverted (when you can’t see and can’t hear, isolation becomes a place of comfort).  Even so, I have always been surrounded a loving family (who never made me feel like I was “less” than anyone else), and by friends—some life-long—that are beautiful, inside and out.

I don’t really know when those feelings of insecurity about my looks began, but those feelings followed me into my teen years. I found the way to make friends was to have a good sense of humor, and just kind of pretend that I was as pretty as everyone else.   It’s funny how teenagers think about things: I figured as long as I acted like I was pretty, and other girls hung out with me anyway, then no one would really know how ugly I was, how terribly ugly I felt.  Every. Day.

In my teen-aged mind, one of my biggest fears was that everyone would discover the “real” me, see me for the fraud I was, and know that I was ugly.  As irrational as that sounds, it was a real fear, and a mighty heavy burden. I truly believed I was unlovely.  So, I just went merrily along, acting like everyone else, enjoying and truly treasuring my friendships.  Suppressing the ever-present nagging deep inside that I was only wearing the mask of what I considered “normal”, I was terrified that one day my hidden ugliness would show itself.

As the years wore on, and adulthood happened, I settled into a place of comfort with myself, making peace that I am who I am. People seemed to like me. My husband loved me, we somehow managed to bring three truly beautiful little people into the world whom I loved beyond anything I could ever think or imagine, so, no worries.  Until one day, it happened.

I was in my thirties, happy and content as we were raising our kids, living a good, American life.  Very involved in our church, we spent a lot of time there and a lot of our fellowship and social life revolved around the programs and people within the church.  One day a friend from church and I went shopping to get some clothes for an upcoming event.

As we were trying on clothes, she looked at me and said:  “You know, that doesn’t do anything for you at all. In fact, I’m just going to say it, Peggy, that you need a whole new look!  You’re really pretty plain, and the clothes you wear just accentuate that.  You should wear things that make you look better.”

Yes, she said it.  And there I was: exposed.  If she knew I wasn’t pretty, then so did everyone else.  As usual, I laughed it off and made fun of myself, which was the only coping mechanism I had in place.  But when I was home alone, it hit me.  I was mortified, embarrassed, self-conscious, and terribly hurt.  I don’t think I would ever say anything like that to anyone. All of the old insecurities about not being delightfully cute resurfaced.  ugh.

It was also one of those life-changing moments for me.  As I contemplated the scene (rehashing it over and over again in my mind is more like it!), I came to realize that it wasn’t me that was exposed, but she.  She let slip from her mouth something she probably thought many times, all while being part of my company of friends. I came to think that she had a far greater problem than I ever did.

I had gotten over the feelings of self-loathing years before.  As my life evolved, I found that my friends were true and just didn’t look at me the same way I did when looking in a mirror.  They loved me; it was  that simple.  My family, husband, kids: they all loved me.  That simple.  God?  He loves me.  That simple.

I don’t know why that girl sought me out and made me her friend.  Maybe she could only see the 2-dimensional mirror image of my lack of physical beauty, and she made me her project.  Maybe I was someone she thought she could transform.  The thing was, by that time in my life, I didn’t need to be transformed.  I was not a caterpillar needing someone to break me from my cocoon and turn me into a beautiful butterfly.  I was happy, content, and quite at peace with myself.

I have not held that incident against her, although our relationship did change a bit.  She really seemed to have no clue that her words stung like viper bites.  She was exposed, and I realized that even though her physical beauty was far greater than mine, she must have been hiding some terrible insecurities of her own.  For me it was a point of growth.  I learned how not to act, how not to be.  I learned that if I didn’t want to hurt someone, I needed to reflect on myself often and allow God to change my heart and attitude as well.  I needed to always strive to be a better person.  I began to look at people with different eyes. I needed to forgive her, and I did.  I need to be light in darkness, and not allow darkness in any form to overtake me or become the rudder of my ship.

I won’t say I don’t still struggle with the mirror a bit.  I couldn’t bring myself to put a picture of myself on my book, my website or my blog.  I cringe when someone else posts a picture of me on social media. There are very few good pictures of me, and the thoughts of sitting for a photographer gives me knots in my stomach.  BUT, I do not allow those feelings to overtake me.   I realize that when I think like that, I am hurting God, who made me as I am, and who loves me unconditionally, and has provided me with a truly blessed life.  I guess, in the end, it’s really all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38, 39

TRADITION by Peggy

‘Tis the season for unending days of tradition. We all have our certain ways of decorating, certain foods that are always made, cookies always baked, songs always sung, movies always watched.

We rely on our traditions to make us feel good.  Have you ever sat late at night, in a quiet room, alone with the beautifully lit Christmas tree, and feel…, well, just comforted?  It’s like every breath you take brings to mind another memory of Christmases gone by.

I can hear my mother and father setting up the toys under the tree when they thought we were sound asleep.  I can feel again the excitement as I set up the toys for my children, anticipating their utter glee upon waking.  Contentment fills my mind and emotions, as I recall every midnight Mass attended with my parents and siblings; I can still smell the incense of the High Mass and the candles in the sanctuary, hear the choir singing in the choir loft, and being part of that same choir in seventh grade. I still display my mother’s Nativity set (right next to her huge ceramic Christmas tree with little peg lights), reminding me always of the true reason we have this season, and hope rises within me a little stronger.

Every year we string tons of colored lights inside and outside the house, on every branch of our tree.  One time someone snickered at my tree and said it looked like a “clown” tree with all of the colored lights, instead of just clear ones.  Humbug, I say!  If your traditional tree bears clear lights, I’m sure it’s beautiful!  But so is mine!  The beauty of each having their own traditional decorations is that there is no right or wrong, there is just joy!  Unspeakable joy!

I am very melancholy this year, as I know some long-running Christmas traditions are coming to an end.  We will probably sell our house this next year, thus ending the annual open house we host, the lights on this lovely home of ours, the fresh-cut tree tagged weeks before we pick it up.

The thing I think I will miss the most, though, is the family Christmas breakfast.  I just love having all of my children and grandchildren together in the morning, reams of wrapping paper everywhere every colored light blazing. Lots of coffee, French toast, Dutch puff, and so much love!  Everyone is happy, and together.  I look forward to it every year, and will surely miss not being able to host it in this house.  This house where we raised our children, and housed some others for a spell along the way.

Tradition.  It’s a beautiful thing.  It’s important.  It sets our roots a little deeper, and gives each generation a sense of stability and belonging. The comfort zone of tradition gives us structure, boundaries, and even excuses.

The thing about observing traditions is that we take them with us forever. No matter where we are, we always will have the memories and the feelings they invoke.  Throughout the years, our Christmas traditions have stuck, and everyone in the family feels the same as I, and someone else will pick up the baton. Even though I won’t be hosting the holiday festivities in this house, they will be hosted somewhere, and we will be there.

We aren’t sure where we will end up, Jim and I; most likely out of NJ. Where ever we are, I will string the colored lights, display the Nativity set and ceramic tree, and photos of Christmases past.  I will breathe and take it all in, and I will remember every single Christmas of my life.

I will smile and give thanks to a mighty God, who sent His son to a manger, under a star.  The one destined to die for the forgiveness of all sin, for the salvation of mankind.  I will thank Him for a life well-blessed, and for Christmas.  Then we will get into some mode of transportation and show up at one of the kids’ houses for Christmas breakfast!  Traditions never die, they just change location, and I’m ok with that.

                    Merry Christmas to all, and to all I pray for many blessing throughout the New Year!

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2: 11-14 (KJV)

Silence by Peggy

I remember the days when the kids were all little and there were several cousins and/or friends over, playing.  Normally they would be outside, but on rainy days, they were cooped up inside.  The decibel level was off the charts in the house on those days!  While I have always loved the sound of kids at play, there would inevitably come a point in the day when I craved a break.  The quiet moments were easy to achieve back then. By calling a time-out, or bribing them with popsicles and pudding I could get a welcome respite from the frenzy.  I cherished it.

The noise that assaults my senses now is not from rambunctious children. It comes from the “talking heads” on the TV news, and the rantings on the Facebook and other social media outlets.  It just never seems to turn off, does it?

The odious cacophony coming from politicos seeking election, the pummeling of rantings and half- truths constantly in our social media streams all seek to convince us that their voice is THE voice, the only one worthy of being heard. I feel that the louder and more obnoxious the voices become, the less anyone listens. Even if I agree with what is being introduced, I don’t want to read or listen because of the manner in which the subject is broached. I try to tune it out, to scroll past it all as I lurk, searching for the feel-good posts of kids and puppies.

The disturbing result of the banshee-like posts is the deafening sound of silence. Unlike the covetous quiet that ensues when the graceless masses are shushed, I fear the silence of the righteous and level-headed is interpreted as a thunderous roar of acquiescence to those boorish mouthpieces.

While there are times when silence is indeed, golden, there are times when it is harmful.  It is time for the well-spoken among us to speak up and be heard.  There are serious issues in our society, and very quick changes afoot.  Where is the voice of the majority?  The tide of acceptable behavior is being turned by the smallest of rudders, while the anchor is ignored.

Why don’t we hear from those that know how to string together a grammatically correct sentence and present it in a clear, concise manner?  I find that I am one of the guilty, just rolling my eyes and making my case in my own head, unheard by those that need to listen.

Contrary to what one may think, I don’t maintain my silence because I am afraid of criticism or of the challenge of a different opinion, or even of being verbally attacked by those that think differently than I.  I find that I am silent because I don’t wish to be baited into battle. But, while I am weary, I do think we need to stand up and be counted.

Years ago when the health curriculum at one of my children’s school got way too sexually oriented and explicit, I went to the teacher, principal and other parents, and, collectively, our voice was heard and the curriculum modified to a more age-appropriate learning experience.  We didn’t rant or scream; we presented our case in a non-threatening manner, well-thought out, and articulated exactly what we wanted to say, making a clear and concise point. We got their attention and they listened.  They didn’t all agree, but they respected what we said because we were non-confrontational and well-versed on the subject.  We did our homework before we opened our collective mouths, and it paid off.

I have seen two videos the last two days explaining the changes to the health and family curriculum in the public schools in two different States.  I have not verified the validity of either video, so I won’t go into details here, but it has been suggested that the school boards have acted against the will of the parents to introduce new courses to the children concerning sexually explicit content.  If this is true, the battle is even more than the one I fought all those years ago.  While I faced everything at a local level, today’s issues are fought on a world-wide battlefield, a tangled web, indeed.  It will take more than the voices of the local parents.  It will take us all.  Woefully, this is only one example.

I am, indeed, tired of the rantings on social media, in the news and so many other outlets.  I don’t listen to them, but I do hear them.  My silence does not indicate my agreement with them, or my total ignorance of the situation; it simply means I have chosen thus far not to engage.  I think now it is time to be heard.  It’s time to pay attention and have the conversations. The future of our children’s children depend on it. I feel it is our reasonable service.

What is the topic that is bothering you most right now?  Go ahead—I’m listening.

“A word fitly spoken (is like) apples of gold in pictures of silver”.  Prov. 25:11

Relevance by Peggy

Everyone has a story to tell; some nugget of truth, wisdom and experience to pass on that will enhance the situations of those that follow them.  It is what we do—we teach, train, and edify by our personal experiences and gained knowledge.  But so often, as life goes on and circumstances change, I see that often the wealth of knowledge that one possesses is not respected or wanted by those that need it most.  It is considered irrelevant and useless information because it is presented in a judgmental and critical “you-have-to-do-it-this-way” manner.

I think the same thing happens in many industries and in all walks of life, including the church. The relevance of one’s experience is lost in the presentation.  No matter how valuable it is, it becomes moot in the wake of inflexibility.

Because of the nature of our ministry, we are involved with many ministers and visit many churches.  It seems that there are a lot of churches who have a dwindling if not non-existent population of young people, congregations are dwindling, and doors are closing.  Others are filled to capacity.  Why?

If you speak to any of the people who are un-churched, yet committed Christians, you will hear things like: “I’m tired of playing the church game.  I just want to get some good teaching and worship God”.  Or “I’m so bored in Church; there’s nothing there for me to do; the list of rules is stifling and unrealistic, my kids are ostracized if they wear their jeans to service,” etc.… The local church has become irrelevant to the community it seeks to serve.

Not long ago I downloaded a Bible app on my little phone.  I love it!  I can get around quickly, look up multiple translations, take notes, highlight text—it’s wonderful! It’s always with me, and I can easily read it during a break at work.  I am thrilled not to have to carry what seems like a ten-pound book around with me, with papers and notes falling out all over the place.  Imagine how I felt when I was in a service recently to hear the pastor say that he has a problem with people looking at the Bible and following along with the sermon on their electronic devices.  He wanted all e-devices stowed during his service. There are very few young people in that congregation whose work just hasn’t quite caught up to this e-society in which we live.

Yet, recently I was in another church, with probably over 1000 attendees on a regular basis, and it seemed to me that almost every single person there followed along on their phones or tablets with a pastor who had nothing more than his I-pad. Every week visitors come to that church, listen to the unchanging, uncompromised word of God, and answer the altar call.

Relevance.  The message of Christ is the same in both churches, but one has learned how to reach and build relationship with a community who are accustomed to the world- wide web way of life.

The church that hears from heaven on how to reach people, how to spread the good news of Christ, and how to effect change in their community is the church that has been able to break down barriers and is not threatened by change.  It is the one who first acknowledges the validity of progress in the life of its people, embraces it, and keeps moving on.  Instead of having a problem with it, they learn how to use it to reach and touch people in their community, and ultimately to the salvation of many, all to the glory of God.

The church was never meant to be a stagnant entity.  It is an organic declaration of the relevant truth of the redeeming gospel of Christ.  Somehow, in our witness, we must­­­ eclipse changes that become the cultural norms of society in our sphere of influence without compromising the integrity of the Scripture and the truth of the Cross.  People will never even listen to the Word if we don’t work on relationships and build bridges instead of walls.

I’ve heard of the cowboy church, the biker’s church, and churches for those being exploited and trapped in the sex industry. Christian works that seem to be able to reach a segment of society that no one else can, all while delivering the message of the Cross.  You or I may not understand them, and may not be called to work in those vineyards, but we are called to be unified in the Spirit as followers of Christ.  That doesn’t mean we are all to be clones and be the same, but we are to follow the direction of Holy Spirit in our ministries while respecting the work of others.  It is not our job to throw stones at those who do things differently than we do.

We must know, believe and exhibit the Scripture. The only way that I know to do that is first to know God, renewing our minds with the study of the Word, and in prayer.  Learning to hear from God and let the Holy Spirit be our guide, even if it seems unconventional, is key.  We do it not for any self-gain, but to the glory and honor of He who has given us eternal life through Jesus.  The simple truth of God’s message does not change and always remains relevant.  We must be willing to be changeable and malleable under the potter’s Hand, with a purpose and passion for His work, even if it leads us into uncharted territory in what is required of us.

The relevant church will change without compromising the integrity of the Scripture, the redemptive work of Jesus and the cross, the power of the Holy Spirit and the unconditional love of the Father.  She will respect the work of others who may do things differently, while preserving the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Eph 4: 1-3 (NASB):   “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”.

Hopeless

We all know the word “hopeless” and probably use it all of the time.  I always say I am a hopeless insomniac (which I am), others say someone is a hopeless romantic.  Of course, there are also times when we..I.. may become just a tad frustrated with someone and declare “You are hopeless!”,  a phrase usually uttered with a clenched jaw, throwing my arms in the air.  Can you relate?

Unfortunately, for me, the word and it’s true meaning has really hit home again in a profound way.

Several weeks ago we got word that a young man we knew had died by his own hand.  He was truly a nice young guy, early thirties, promoted to manager of a very prominent restaurant in his area, with a serious girlfriend; the whole world at his fingertips, a life just begun.

Friends said that although he suffered from depression a few years ago when he was diagnosed with a deadly heart condition, he underwent open heart surgery and had the promise of a long and healthy life, and really seemed to have his act together.  I was truly horrified and heartbroken at the news of his death.

Unfortunately, it is not the first time I experienced such shock.  The sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, the deep, deep sympathy that rose up in me for the parents, family and friends, and the huge question mark that overtook my thoughts, echoing “WHY?” in the very depths of my soul, were all too familiar.

No, this is not the first time we got such news.  It was the third.  And since then we’ve become acquainted with parents of another young lady who did the same.  All four were young adults, with families and friends and a lifetime of adventure in front of them.

Hopelessness is the belief that there is no future; absolutely being convinced that everyone you know would be better off without you, and you just want to be anywhere but here in this life.  I imagine that thoughts and feelings so dark come to one who feels this hopeless; thoughts that can’t be expressed or spoken; thoughts that haunt, terrify and eventually justify the extreme action of ending it all.  Thoughts that are totally hidden from view of those who love you.  Hopeless.

How can anyone ever find hope and meaning for life when that kind of darkness shrouds the consciousness of their being?  I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist or a mental health professional.  I can only say what I either learned myself or heard others say.  This is a blog, so I’m going to keep it pretty short.  I could tell of many times in my life when I have dealt with someone in a state of depression, but not in this blog.  I can only share some quick thoughts of what I have learned along the way.

­­­­ What can the rest of us do to help when we see someone falling into an abyss of despair?  Speak life, not judgement.  Speak truth if asked for an opinion or thought, but don’t use it as a platform to bully someone into “getting normal again”.  If you can’t speak that truth without judgment, then decline to speak it at all. That person is not your project; they may be your family member, friend or acquaintance, but God didn’t put you in their life to fix them.  He put you there to serve Him, by being a carrier of His presence and grace.  Offer practical help.  Don’t tell people to “snap out of it”—if they could, they would.  Offer support to the family and friends.  And pray.  And then pray some more.

If you are someone who is sinking in despair for any reason, I’m saying to you:  Yes, there is hope!

You are loved, you are worthy, and the world will not be better off without you!  The people that know you: your family, friends, co-workers, would be utterly devastated if you were gone, this I know!  I also know that God loves you and has a plan for you and your future.  There is no depth so deep or low that He isn’t there to lift you out!  Get help.  Talk to someone—don’t keep anything bottled up.  If the first person you try to talk to doesn’t listen or seem to get it, then move on to someone else.  Call a mental health hotline.  Reach out to a pastor or someone you know that has a relationship with God.  Google God’s promises and read them.  Take a step—God will put someone there to catch you.

Here is what God says for you today:  “     For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   Jer. 29:11 NIV

Write that verse down, put it on your mirror, and have faith to KNOW that you are loved!!!

The Way of Life by Peggy

If you are like me, as the year comes to a close, I become contemplative about life.

I’m not thinking about the meaning of life, as some might imagine I would. Instead, I think about the way of life: how I move and transition as I pass through what seems to be the shambolic disaster of this chaotic world.

I have worked for several years as an IT specialist in behavioral health organizations. While I don’t deliver services to clients, I do interact with many as well as therapists, program directors, and administrative staff.

I have seen many people who are just plain overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, and seem to lack the coping mechanisms to get through it and move on. Their lives seem to be blocked, as they can’t seem to get out of the pit they have fallen into. It is heartbreaking and frustrating all at the same time to watch. All of these folks have been diagnosed with some kind of disorder, and they need the help of professionals and support of society to keep moving.

But for the rest of us, how do we keep moving? How do we get through the tragedies of sudden death, sickness, financial burdens, or watching a loved one spiral out of control? How do we handle the blessings? Do we take them for granted, or abuse them in some way, or do we appreciate them and walk in humility? So many things come at us, vying for our attention, that it is overwhelming. Did you ever feel that there is a time that you just can’t breathe from the weight of it all? I know I have.

Someone asked me once how I just continue on in every circumstance. She called me a “steady Eddy”, one who stays consistent in every situation, good or bad. My answer: I don’t ask “why?” anymore when I see tragedies or come upon difficult circumstances, or even when I am blessed beyond anything I deserve. I have found that asking “why” seems to be an exercise in futility. Instead, I have learned to ask “what did I learn from this?”

Once I start digging into the “what” of it instead of the “why”, I seem to find some answers. I have come to realize that everyone who crosses our path in our journey of life, crosses it for a reason. We may never know the reasons, but I believe everyone we meet is a divine appointment—ordained by God.

Every circumstance, whether a blessing or a tragedy, is a learning experience. Many lessons learned are difficult to swallow, but life- growing nonetheless. When I look back on life in general, there is one thing, one truth, that I have learned to be consistent no matter what: that God is who He says He is. It really is as simple as that, yet so profound!

He is the light of the world—the beginning and the end. He is purity and righteousness and holy. He is with us in every circumstance, good or bad. His word is enlightens us with revelation: “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105, 130; 43:3; 56:13).

Our place in all of this? Simple: we are called to walk in His light, to be His image bearers and couriers of His presence. We are to bring comfort to those who mourn, feed the hungry, clothe and shelter the poor, pray without ceasing for those that are or seem to be lost or are drowning in confusion and heartache, as He does all of these things for us.

As we move forward into a new year, I challenge you to do the same: Look back on this past year and ask yourself what you have learned in every circumstance. Whether you have had a great year, or 2015 may have been mediocre, with ups and downs, or if you may have been thrown into an unimaginable situation. Ask yourself how you have seen God this past year. Maybe it was in silent meditation, or seeing Him evidenced in another person. However He has revealed Himself to you, make note of it, and learn what you are to do with it.

My prayer for you for 2016 is that the revelation of God in your life is shown in new ways, that you come to a deeper understanding of Him, and that you are blessed with health, happiness and prosperity!

Happy New Year, one and all, and thank you for reading our blog—we all appreciate you!

Erasing God by Peggy

As we come upon the holiday season, it seems to me that most people get very contemplative about God. That’s a good thing—most of the time.

We also seem to become very conscious and aware of the political climate of our towns, schools, nation and even the world. We see more and more incidents of things like Nativity scenes being removed from the town square, store clerks told they are not to say “Merry Christmas”, etc.…

I see a lot of reactions and responses to society’s attempt for an androgynous holiday season. We all see them: the posts on social media that declare stuff like: “Like this post if you say Merry Christmas”; and of course, the ubiquitous “Jesus is the reason for the season” signs, pins, banners and stickers.

But then there are the folks that are, in my opinion, a little, um.. “Overzealous”. Well-meaning Christians who appear to be so offended by the government’s removal of God that they get downright militant in their response and reactions. Have you ever seen a social media post that says something like: “Like this post if you believe in the constitution and say Merry Christmas to every store clerk, or just keep scrolling if you are happy to be going to hell in a handbasket”. Or, my all-time favorites that conveys the message: “Kids are bullying other kids into a suicidal mindset because we removed God from schools. Like if you want prayer back in schools”.

I usually just keep on scrolling and take my chances that I won’t really go to hell in that handbasket. But I want to take this opportunity to say my piece. You see, I do say Merry Christmas to everyone I see, and once I say it, most store clerks say it right back to me. I also love the season and the Santa Claus, decorations and hustle and bustle—all while KNOWING that Jesus is indeed the reason for the season.

I am not at all worried that we are erasing God by not allowing a Nativity scene on government property. We do not live in a theocratic society, but live in what is probably as close to a democracy as it gets in this crazy world. It is my right to put a Nativity scene on my lawn, and I will defend my right (or yours) to do so always. We are all guaranteed freedom of religion. We can worship as we want and the government cannot stop us. Not any of us.  We ALL have freedom of religion.

So, while I am saddened by it, I’m not upset that Nativity sets and Ten Commandment plaques are removed from government property. As long as they are not allowing any symbolic representation of any religion.

I believe that when someone challenged the courts to remove prayer from public schools (in those days prayer was a normal part of the school day and led by the teachers), that God allowed it to come to pass in order to preserve the children of God from being subjected to prayer led by teachers of other faiths. You see, if teachers are permitted to lead prayer in public schools, then they would be able to lead ANY prayer that they see fit according to their beliefs. No, thank you! I will teach my children about Jesus and teach them to pray. I am not interested in anyone teaching them to pray to the air or wind or anything or one that suits the fancy of the teacher!

I am not concerned that God is being erased by society and/or the government. I am more concerned that He is being hidden, and the only ones that can do that are those that believe in Him and are supposed to be His light in this world. God has not been removed from the schools or from our society.  If you are raising your children to know Him and serve Him, then when they go to school, He is there.  His Word says that He is with us always.  We abide in Him, and He with us.  We are the carriers of His glory in this world.

What does the glory of God look like? It looks like the one who buys an extra cup of coffee and a meal for someone who is hungry. It looks like the nurse who sits in the emergency room with a woman who just found out she is now a widow, and holds her hand until her family arrives. It looks like the one who takes off their own coat to give it to a homeless person on the street, the one opens their home to someone who needs a place to stay. It looks like the changes seen in society not by posting things on social media, but by those prayer warriors who take up the cause on their knees, knowing that God hears them. And yes, it looks like a Nativity scene on the lawn, and the signs reminding us that Jesus really is the reason for the season. It sounds like a choir singing Silent Night and the greeting of Merry Christmas.

No, society cannot erase God—not if we don’t let it.  Reach out to the un-lovely among us; get involved and volunteer somewhere. Run for office and be an honest, forthright, praying politician! Most of all, be obedient to the Word that says in 2Chr. 7:14:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

This season I challenge you not to just think about what to give thanks for, but who you give thanks to. Declare “Merry Christmas” to everyone you can, and while you’re at it, add “and may God bless you!”

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones, and may the Lord abundantly bless you and keep you. May He bless you with a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!