Some thoughts chase me. Healing, restoration…these have been trailing me lately. Pastor Kris’s recent sermon “Peter Heals” was the catalyst this time. It was beautiful.

During her message she shared how her brother was injured in an auto accident when he was 22 years old. A senior at West Point Academy, Bobby no doubt was a young man with nothing but promise ahead of him. A single moment of time changed the direction of his life, forever. He flew through the windshield of a car. He was left a quadriplegic with significant brain damage. He needed a-round-the clock care for the remaining 26 years of his life.

Kris shared that after his death his caregiver of many years, a deeply spiritual women, called her to tell her that she had a dream the night before. In her dream Bobby was in heaven, and that he had been restored, completely, restored. But the thing that struck her is that he remained in his wheelchair.

Remained in his chair, yet completely, perhaps most importantly, spiritually restored…

Kris shared how she never thought about healing quite the same way again. Maybe I won’t either.

I settled into a yoga class that following Tuesday morning. At the start of class my instructor sat upon her mat, faced her students and asked for Grace. With a heavy sigh she explained that one of her children, a Son who has struggled with drug addiction since his teens, had called her over the weekend asking for help. He was high and combative, and was likely to lose his place to live. In the process of trying to help him, he physically assaulted her.

She was brokenhearted. She shared a bit about her family’s seven year struggle. She asked for prayer.

Upon my mat, staring up at the ceiling I prayed for her family. I prayed for healing, for restoration. I thought about her Son, wondering if he’ll break free from his addiction. I prayed for healing for her brokenness, and for his. I thought about Pastor Kris’s brother Bobby.

Restored in his chair…maybe life altering adversity doesn’t have to cripple our spiritual wholeness.

Pastor Kris suggested that perhaps we assign worldly expectation to what we feel healing should look like, and in doing so maybe we limit God.

And so I’m left with this swirling about…

file000539488754Perhaps healing, the miraculous, crazy crisp, soul cleansing, blanketing kind, the kind that only He can offer, maybe that is best obtained by letting go of our own expectations, remove that which may hinder our renewal, and instead allow Him in. We might never be the same. Maybe we still carry with us the scars of this world. But, He shines them up, restoring us to more than we once were.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 New Living Translation (NLT) 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Mindy Lynn Hilo and her family have been members at Easter for eleven years. She is a conformation mentor and a regular contributor to Easter Praise. You can follow Mindy on her personal blog, Mindy’s book Embracing Charlie was honored with a Finalist Title in the Christian Inspirational Category of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards.

Gratitude and Generosity – Vision Board Devotion by Brad Van Horn

“Gratitude and Generosity,” words that are inextricably intertwined when talking about faith.  Words that are technically prose but are nearly poetry because they have the potential to ignite the imagination and carry with them the power to bring great change when used together.  For a moment, in your mind, consider converting the phrase, “Gratitude and Generosity” to an image of a very long timeline but imagine there is only one point, the now, delineating the segments making up the past and the future.

The gratitude side of the line causes us to reflect on the past, about things that have happened to us or for us.  Some things we recall easily because they’re very tangible and we may experience them every day like being thankful for loving family and friends so we are reminded and re-reminded frequently.  Other things are a little more distant and we have to be vigilant to not let our memories fade, like our gratitude for service men and women who have fought for our freedom.  And then, of course, in this most holy season, as Christians, we must take time to contemplate and have gratitude for the eternal salvation granted to us with the ultimate sacrifice of our savior, Jesus Christ.

Now, remember the image and look at the generosity side of the line, the future, and think of it as a verb.  While it is important to send God our “thank you notes” in the form of prayers, he expects much more from us.  We are also called to action.  Another closely associated phrase, “time, talent, and treasure” have wonderful alliteration and symbolism but it seems like they are used so frequently that their meaning has become diluted. Do we sometimes interpret these words as “Time or Talent or Treasure”?

Because my term on the Vision Board is ending in April, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you for allowing me to learn and grow in the most wondrous of ways.  It has truly been an honor to serve God by serving Easter Lutheran Church.  Easter Lutheran Church is healthy in every sense; spiritually, culturally, and fiscally.  We have the greatest volunteers who are abundantly generous with their time and talent.  We have tremendous plans to do even more incredible work in God’s kingdom and now, more than ever, it is important that we make sure we are properly supporting our ministries and staff by reflecting on all the things for which we are grateful and seizing the opportunity to align our generosity with our gratitude.   Please prayerfully consider the call to action that lies within “Gratitude and Generosity.”

Today Lord, guide my generosity by doing your will with all that I have.  Amen.

Big Time Foot in Mouth Disease

By An Anonymous Writer/Member of Easter Lutheran Church

Ecclesiastes 3:7  “A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be silent and a time to speak.”

Several months ago my husband and I woke up to discover we’d come down with foot-in-mouth disease. Big time. We inadvertently offended someone we love and respect. (Big time.)  And wow she was angry. Big time. We’re talking “I’ll-never-speak-to-you-again” and “Don’t-you-dare-approach-or-I will-turn-my-back-on-you-and-walk-away!”  Really big time!

Amazing GraceIn Lent we heard so frequently of God’s love for us even when we ignore Him. He just keeps on giving. He loves and forgives us daily for our every sin. He even let His son be persecuted and killed just so our sins, our foot-in-mouth diseases, wouldn’t stand in the way of our salvation.  I am unable to comprehend a love that is so strong you would sacrifice your son.  That’s who He is–a giver who never stops giving; a Love that will always be there to welcome our approach.  Big time!

A common saying among our friends is, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”  That’s not forgiveness.  I Cor. 13:5 says Love keeps no record of wrongs. When we sin we’ll never hear God saying, “Okay, that’s twice!”  And we must forgive others as quickly as we expect God to forgive us. That’s big time difficult! Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt someone who hurt me. This is what God does – all the time!

Lent this year meant weeks of watching Jesus be so very brave, loving and forgiving.  Weeks to not mourn our hurt, instead to tell our hurt and pain that’s it’s time go away and simply love. It meant we really understood the great disappointments we cause our Father. Yet we must do as He did and forgive. Big time.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said there’s “a time for everything.”  Lent showed us big time that our time is now.

Please join us in prayer that our ever forgiving Lord and His brave, unselfish Son will be with us in our times of missing the mark.  We ask them to bless our words and deeds so that we may always be loving—big time!