Monthly Archives: January 2010

A Celebration of a Friend

A very wise man once told me that, when the darkness of grief settles on our life, it is human nature to look for a new beginning where the sun set.  However, if we turn around and face the darkness with courage and conviction, we will see the sun rise sooner and in the most unexpected place!

Thursday, I’m starting a new beginning in my life. I leave for an adventure in California.  Despite my excitement, this season starts with a profound loss.  Friday, I learned a dear friend passed away very unexpectedly.  Home alone when her grief-stricken husband called at 7AM, all throughout the day, I needed a hug –  to feel some of the love that the world would now be missing.

My friend was a force to be reckoned with.  Blessed with the most amazing gift of evangelism, there are probably hundreds of people who are and will be in God’s Kingdom because of her kind, thoughtful and generous evangelistic efforts.

I was a Christ-follower when I met her and throughout our relationship, she insired me.  Whenever possible, I observed her gentle ways.  Oh, how she loved God and His children.  There was no judgment as she reached out to people.  She lived to celebrate God’s presence in people.

There was much for me to learn.  She taught love when she organized countless parties and even a bridal shower for me.  She taught patience when she listened to endless stories from hurting people.  She taught laughter as she shared the joys in her life.  She taught the importance of faith, family and community. Most importantly, she showered everyone with the love of God.

The day after her funeral, as I begin my own adventure of sorts, I will be thinking about my friend.  She is at peace now; her journey completed.  Mine still continues.  But, fortunately, God gave me a friend who showed me the way with clarity, courage and conviction.  I love her and will always miss her dearly.

New Beginnings

For several days, I’ve sat transfixed watching the newscasts from Haiti.  It’s like watching a train wreck – precisely because that is what it is.  My heart aches for the people suffering the after effects of the 7.0 earthquake. Tears well up in my eyes seeing the flattened homes, lack of basic human necessities and the twisted, torn bodies of both the living and the dead.  The debilitating scars of losing family and loved ones will remain even after the city is rebuilt.

An Obvious Question

There are so many questions asked after this kind of destruction.  Where is God?  Why did He allow this to happen?  Why were some individuals spared while others were crushed?  But an obvious question is how do you find joy in the face of such sorrow, death and devastation?

James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (NIV) The Message Translation takes a step further – “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.”  A true gift…city in ruins, hundreds of thousands dead and over 3 million people without food, water or shelter?

It sounds ludicrous to look into the eyes of a mother who lost her entire family and say, “Consider this a sheer gift.”

God versus the Earthquake

When I am overwhelmed by tragedy, it is best to look at what I believe. My God is a great God, a faithful God.  Nothing is too difficult for God.  He does the impossible.  He can heal.  He can deliver. He helps us out of hard places.  He is the God that can do all things.  God has already done excellent and great things.  He will never leave us.  

  • God will walk beside you and give you a life of victory and wholeness.
  • God asks you to “cast your cares on Him” daily (I Peter 5:7) and in return, He will extend deep peace.
  • God will make you to “soar on the wings of eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).
  • God is our support (Psalm 18:22)
  • God is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)


An earthquake will not stop God’s miracles.  That is why natives of Port-au-Prince joined in a chorus of worship songs the morning after the quake hit.

The strength and resilience of the Haiti people is displayed in every newscast.  They will rebuild – their lives, their city and their country.  They have hope and strength.

God is already working His miracles in those who draw closer to Him through prayer and acts of service to those in Haiti.  His miracle is in the people of many nations who are working side-by-side using their lives to meet other people’s needs.  He is touching the 82nd Airborne soldiers who, normally called into war zones, are now ambassadors and peacemakers. 

Our human understanding makes it next to impossible to balance these things against what we see on television, which is why we need faith. God will be glorified by this.  He is mightier than the earthquake. 

And isn’t that where our joy truly resides?

If you would like to help with Haitian relief, consider making a donation to a reputable organization.  (Red Cross, Doctors without Borders)  Or please make a donation to Willow Creek Community Church’s Disaster Relief Fund.  100% of the proceeds go for disaster relief.


Yesterday, I was totally astonished by the sight in front of me. In my local grocery store, a fellow shopper, who happened to be male, had wedged his laptop in the cart’s baby seat.  Utilizing his G3 Wi-Fi connector, he was strolling up and down the aisles while surfing the Internet.

Was this gentleman so addicted to technology that he couldn’t spend 35 minutes without it?  Understandably, shopping is not one of my favorite chores, but it is far from the most onerous.  (Cleaning toilets takes that distinction!)

For a quick second, I thought maybe he was using the computer as a cost-saving tool by checking prices in other stores.  While that could have been the case, I also reasoned that someone that price-conscious would have done his checking before getting to the store.  Or is that one of the differences between men and women?

I, along with experts, worry about people hunched over their Blackberries furiously typing away and missing the beauty of their surroundings.  Or the folks so quick to add friends to their Facebook page that they feel isolated from the friends and family around them.

While technology is great for those who have no face-to-face option, real intimacy cannot be replaced with technology.

With the communication vehicles available now, ever wonder why Christ wasn’t born today?  Think about it, His message could be spread via Twitter and the Internet in minutes.  And who wouldn’t want to be a Facebook friend to Jesus?

Proverbs 17: 17 and Proverbs 18:24 illustrate the value of a great friend:

  • A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)
  • A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

God picked the perfect time for His earthly ministry.  I’d like to think part of the reason was the close relationships people enjoyed in Biblical times.  Christ ate with people, stayed in their homes, conversed at length with them, embraced them, and walked the long, dusty roads with them.  He spent valuable face time in close relationship.

Washington D.C. psychologist and relationship author Neil Bernstein states that, “Overreliance on social media dilutes intimacy because it can’t replace the talking, the looking, the affection, the support.  There are no shortcuts to good relationships.”

A joyful life is all about the quality of our relationships…the one with our Savior and those we enjoy with our friends. We all have a basic need as humans to build community.  Relationships are simply about connecting with others.

To find a bit more joy in your life, try this simple experiment for one week.  When tempted to email someone, call them instead.  Better yet, invite them to dinner.  Instead of spending an hour on Facebook, practice your listening skills by inviting a friend for a conversation at a local coffee shop.

Joy is a premade, positive commitment to God and the world that He created.  It involves nurturing the things that bring joy.  That includes our relationships.