Loving One Another

Archive for the ‘Life and Death’ Category

Fast Away


Fast Away

Fast away this old month passes –
New one enters, cold and blue.
Never have I felt such distance
Separating me from lovely you.

My arms long to hold your heartstrings;
My soul aches to feel your touch.
Never did I think I’d feel so lonely-
Never have I missed you so much.

I miss my church friends in the pew;
I miss singing our hymns with you.
I long to gather at your table
And sip a glass of wine or two.

I miss the chance of volunteering
Where I can go and serve with glee.
I miss the sound of great crowd cheering.
I pray you’ll soon be here with me.

Fast away this old month passes –
No one knows where the end will be
Of this dark and deadly outbreak.
Won’t you pray for a cure with me?

Looking on the Brighter Side

Fast away this old month passes
I’m reminded of how much I love
Being safe and feeling healthy,
Hearing coos from nesting doves.

I have much for which to thank God –
And as April nudges through my door,
May my heart be ever grateful
For my safety and for so much more.

May I thank God daily for his watch
Over friends and family – oh so dear.
May I remember to show gratitude
For all the blessings I have here.

Keep my eyes on all the wonders
God has strewn across my path.
Food to eat, a loving family, and
Friends with texts that make me laugh.

Fast away this old month passes.
I won’t let the new be blue.
I’ll keep looking for God’s miracles
And send His love daily to you.

My Thanks and Condolences

Thank you, dear blogging friends, for visiting JanBeek.
You represent about 80 countries,
my WordPress stats have told me.
Some of you have lost loved ones
during this pandemic…
or you know people who have.
11,600 deaths in Italy alone??
It is unfathomable!!
The USA’s latest toll is 2,900,
according to today’s news…
with no end in sight.
No place, no person on our planet
is immune!

My Heart Breaks


My heart breaks for all who suffer,
who have lost loved ones,
whose family and friends have tested positive,
who are feeling the loneliness
and the vulnerability I wrote about
in the beginning of this blog.
It is not a situation we should make light of!
It is deadly and it is on the rise.
Bee Well, my friends.
Bee safe!

I love you!

Let’s pray together:
Dear Lord,
please
make this COVID-19
go
FAST AWAY!!

Amen.

Spread Love & Hope!


Beautiful Words of Love

O love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer fuller be.

O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.

Today’s Worship Service

In the absence of a worship service in our church today because of COVID-19 and the need for social-distancing, our worship service was e-mailed to us. The hymns I include in this blog were chosen by our pastor Steve and our music director, Fran McNeill, and then e-mailed to us from our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church here in Ennis, Montana today.

The following sermon by Pastor Steve Hundley was printed for us to “hear” in the privacy of our homes. It is powerful!

Please take your precious time now and hear it with me:

Today’s Sermon

TRUSTING GOD IN THIS DARK TIME

Read: Psalm 130

Read: Romans 8

Some years ago, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a book entitled, “WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE.”  He wrote this book in response to the death of his 14-year-old son, Aaron, from a rare disease called “Progeria” which causes the body to age and die prematurely.

In his bestselling book, Rabbi Kushner concluded that we must decide between a God who is infinitely powerful, but not loving enough to prevent such tragedies as the suffering and death of his 14-year-old son, or, a God who is all loving but not all-powerful.  “You can’t have it both ways,” he says, “we must choose: all-powerful or all-loving.”

Yet as Christians, we believe that:

  1. Evil exists in this world, causing bad things to happen to good people, so evident in these past weeks of the COVID 19 pandemic.
  2. Secondly, we believe that our God is all-powerful; and
  3. Thirdly, we believe that our God is a loving God.

Now, I admit that our dilemma is that we can reconcile any two of the above philosophically, but not all three.  For example:  If evil exists in the world, how can a loving God be all-powerful?  Or, if God is all loving and all-powerful how can evil possibly exist?

Still, the Bible does not deal with human, philosophical questions, as much we would prefer it be so.  Instead, the Bible deals with divine faith questions.  So, even if we cannot know philosophically how evil can exist in light of God who is all-powerful and all-loving, what we “can” know from scripture is that “no matter what evils or tragedies we face in life, our God will not desert us.”  And, knowing that is enough. 

Yes, it is enough for most of us—most of the time.  But, in moments like this, that alone may not be enough.  When our entire world is paralyzed by this current pandemic, it is difficult in this dark hour not to cry out to God: “WHY, OH WHY, GOD?”  I don’t mean to make you feel guilty, for It is only human to want to know “WHY?”

I don’t know about you, but I find myself cringing every time I hear someone in the media refer to this COVID 19 pandemic as “AN ACT OF GOD.”  In all fairness, I realize it is an accepted way for referring to any such natural disaster.  Still, I am uncomfortable attributing such death and tribulation to the will of God.  As someone said: “If God is light,” according to Holy Scripture, “then why should we impart darkness to God?”

Visiting a young couple who stopped coming to church after their only child died of cancer, their pastor pleaded: “You can’t stop believing in God because of what has happened, can you?”  “Oh, I still believe in God,” said the grieving father, “I don’t come to church anymore because I hate God!”

It is for people much like that father that I have chosen to venture further out on the “thin ice” of what is called “the Theodicy Problem”, that is: “Why do bad things happen to good and innocent people?” 

So, I humbly dare to venture forward on behalf of all around this world who have suffered or lost loved ones in the midst of this unprecedented natural disaster that has and will continue to cost so many lives.

Let me begin by saying that the Bible, as I understand it, speaks of our all-powerful God who does not completely control everything in our fallen creation because of the limitations God has placed on God’s self in order to allow us freedom of faith.  Without freedom, there could be no faith.  Faith, by its very definition, requires us the freedom to love and believe in God, or to reject belief and love for God.  God does not desire us to be puppets, manipulated into having to believe in or love God.  Therefore, our God has granted us, and creation itself, freedom by relinquishing total control over our lives and the world.

The Bible speaks of Satan—and other dark forces at work in this world.  And, our own human experiences confirm that there is a dynamic evil force that exercises a powerful presence in our world contrary to the will of God.

“Yet, God in Christ,” writes Paul to the Roman Church, “broke the power of these dark forces on the cross,” which means that we are dealing now with mortally wounded, though still very dangerous “principalities” and “dark powers.”  Bad things continue to befall good people because these dark forces are still alive, powerful, and enemies of all that is good in this world.

As Christians, in this Easter Season, we have hope and assurance that through Christ and His resurrection, God’s eventual victory over the evil in our world is a foregone conclusion.  But, until that time “when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord,” our God will do all that can be done to drive back these dark forces and utterly destroy them, as we continually pray and serve Him until God’s Kingdom comes on earth as it is in Heaven. 

Until that time, says Paul in Romans 8:19-23:

Creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

In his book: “Christ and Time”, Oscar Cullmann uses the analogy of WWII to illustrate our and creation’s struggle against the powers of darkness.  He makes a clear distinction between two definitive days of the war: D-Day and V-Day.  D-Day was the day Allied Forces landed in Normandy and established a beachhead.  The strategizing generals on both sides recognized that the outcome of war was decided on that fateful day, June 1944. 

They understood that if the enemy had driven the Allies back into the sea, the Nazis would have won the war.  However, the Allied Armies prevailed in Normandy and sealed the doom of the evil Nazi regime.  Still, in spite of the triumph of D-Day, the Allies had not yet totally subdued the enemy.  Between D-Day and V-Day (Victory Day), there would be many months of suffering, death, and struggle.  There would be horrendous battles as the Allied Army, little by little, pushed back the Nazi forces.  Still, the ensuring battles would culminate in “Victory Day,” which marked the complete surrender of the enemy and the total liberation of Europe.

So you see, the cross and resurrection of Jesus were our D-Day.  God in Jesus won the decisive battle over evil and death in this world.  However, God and His children, as well as nature itself, continue to face struggles while driving back the forces of darkness whose power has been broken.  Still, dark forces are alive in the world and free to raise havoc.  God’s V-Day is not yet here!  However, we can be confident in God’s triumph over evil and death (and COVID 19), because we know how it will end. 

Or, as Paul says:

Who (or what) shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword (or this COVID 19 pandemic)?  As it is written, “For Your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither, death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 35-39)

Pastoral Prayer:

(Written by Rev. Steve Hundley and printed in our worship e-mail)

“In midst of life, O Lord, our lives have been interrupted by death: the death of our normal routine, the death of worship as we have always done it, the death of life as we have known it, the death of our personal plans, the death of innocence, the death of institutions, the death of promises, the death of those we love, the death that works in our own bodies.

In spite of our broken dreams we give You thanks for the gospel of Jesus Christ, whose message is not death but life: the life of the Spirit, the life of dreams, the life of faith, the life of love, the life of justice; life for the small people of the world, life for the meek, life for the broken and rejected, life for the diseased and afflicted, life for our loved ones, and life for us.

Lord, we pray for those who need hope, healing, and grace.  We hold up before you those who are alone and isolated, those who are sick, and those who are scared of what the future holds for them. Lord, help us to discover new ways of living: living for Christ, living for those around us, living for this frightened world, living for Your Kingdom.  Let the Christ of the empty tomb make empty tombs of all our disappointments and fears.  Come and reign over us, now and in the days ahead and forever and ever. Amen”

Verse One:
God be with you till we meet again; By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you; God be with you till we meet again.

Chorus:
Till we meet, till we meet; till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet, God be with you till we meet again.

Verse Two:
God be with you till we meet again; ‘Neath His wings protect and guide you,
Daily manna still provide you. God be with you till we meet again.

Verse Three:
God be with you till we meet again; When life’s perils thick confound you,
Put His arms unfailing around you; God be with you till we meet again.

Verse Four:
God be with you till we meet again; Keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
Smite death’s threatening wave before you; God be with you till we meet again.

(Back to chorus)

Photo by 42 North on Pexels.com

Spread Love and Hope

I pray you found love and hope in these songs, these words, and these prayers.

If you did, as I did, you can spread love and hope by forwarding this post to your friends and family. Or you can sit with those in your household (as I did with my husband this morning) and read/sing these messages together. Or you can do both!

God’s got us in the palm of His hand.
He never fails us.
Spread His love and hope to this hurting world today.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

God bless you.
See ya tomorrow.



Feel the Hug?


Is there such a thing
As a socially-distanced
Heart-felt real hug?

Photo by Kamille Sampaio on Pexels.com

Can you feel the hug?
Can you feel the arms and kiss?
It’s the hugs I miss!

If you’re a grama
With your grandchildren with you
You count your blessings

If your sweet loved ones
Are far away in their homes
You long to touch them.

Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Pexels.com

You may video
Seeing them on computer
But you can’t hold them

You may see them change
From the baby you once held
To a one-toothed child

Thanks for the pictures
Thanks for the videos, too
But it’s not the same!

I long to hold them
I wanna play with their toys
Just touch their fingers

A long-distance hug
Yes, it’s nice to think about
And glad to receive

Liam (my great-nephew) with my sis, Sally

Grandsons cannot hug
Their gramas in nursing homes
Patients sit alone

Loved ones with virus
Dying in the hospitals
Can’t have family there

This is the cruelest
Part of Coronavirus
My heart is breaking

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

They need the touches
They need our love and real hugs
Not through window touch

Photo by Mugurel Photo on Pexels.com

But this is what is
This is reality now
We will keep distance

We will i s o l a t e
To keep the virus at bay
Stop it from spreading

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

We will do our best
To stay connected right here
Feel my heart-felt hug!

Do you have one to send back?
I need it!
Have a blessed Sunday.
I have you in my prayers.
I’m sending angel hugs your way.

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

See ya tomorrow.

It is Well


The outside pressures
Try to squeeze peace from our souls
But we can’t let them

Treat Yourself

Treat yourself to this beautiful rendition of “It is Well with My Soul” by the First Plymouth Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Special Meaning

This hymn has a special meaning to me because when we were members of the Harvest Presbyterian Church in Ceres, CA, a dear family who were charter members there had a son, Robert, who was dying. His dad, Homer Jorgensen, was at his bedside with a hymnal. He was turning the pages of the book, asking Robert to blink when he came to a song he’d like to hear. Blinking was all he was capable of doing at that end-point of his earthly life. Robert blinked when his dad came to “It is Well With My Soul.”

Homer was reading the words of this hymn to Robert when his son took his last breath. Since then, both of Robert’s parents have joined him in their heavenly home. Rest in peace, Jorgensen family. I am praying for the beauty of your legacy to live on in our hearts as we listen to this gorgeous, meaningful song and consider the beauty of its words.

Let the Words Be Your Prayer

As you listen, my friends, pray for all those you know who need the peace this composer wrote about. It is the peace that only God can give. Lift your family and friends up as you enjoy these beautiful voices and appreciate the phenomenal, majestic organ.

God bless you!

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Psalm 46:1-3 –
“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”

Photo by Valdemaras D. on Pexels.com

I will find the peace
That comes from deep within me
And I’ll sit awhile

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sit awhile with me!
See you tomorrow.
Bee well!

Add a Little Levity


A little Humor
During times of Tragedy
Ain’t sacrilegious!

Found this on FaceBook
It was in response to this post.

The Coronials
Will have a life of their own
Just like this virus

But, just in case my Haiku and pictures offend those who are in the midst of quarantine or have loved ones who are infected or family members who are the victims of this terrible pandemic, here is something on a more serious note:

My friend, Gloria, posted this on FB.

Some people are offended by the suggestion that we should dare to use the word, “Relax.” This is a time of heightened senses. A time to be on alert.

But ultimately, we know we are not in control. We know better than to believe someone who tells us he is… unless He is God.

So, God bless you, my friends.
Trusting or Terrified?
Afraid to make light of it?
I understand.


But, a little levity is good for the soul,
even in the midst of tragedy –
especially when all the toilet paper is gone!

We may have to come up with clever alternatives.

Got any other ideas?

Trusting or Terrified?


Do you live in trust?
Are you feeling terrified?
We all have a choice.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

Today at Madison Valley Presbyterian Church,
in Ennis, Montana,
our pastor, Rev. Steve Hundley, began his sermon
by telling us he had scrapped
the sermon he originally planned.
“It just didn’t seem to fit,” he explained
to the sparsely attended congregation.

With this Coronavirus Pandemic spreading like wildfire around the world, and the first four cases being tested positive in Montana just yesterday, Pastor Steve felt God nudging him to speak to that topic.

So, here are my sermon notes from today’s message:

Terror or Trust?

We must always trust in God
In the face of everyday life.
We must turn to Him when
We’re faced with terrifying strife.

We must trust the Mighty Fortress
In the midst of Pandemic Fear.
We must trust He is with us.
We’re not abandoned; He is here.

Even when we learn that things
Will get worse before they’re better,
We still must trust the Lord.
We must read His Word; believe every letter.

In Psalm 46, the Bible says
The Lord All Powerful is right here.
Especially in the midst of disasters,
He tells us, “Do not fear!”

To really know God and believe
In His love and care every single day,
Takes a lifetime of faithful living
With consistent prayer and walking His Way.

There will be days when we doubt
Because God seems so far away.
It’s days like that when we gather
Together, listening to what God has to say.

We hear His Word and are reminded
Of God’s faithful love and care.
We believe in God’s good character
And see His goodness everywhere.

We must know that God expects us
To be His character witnesses today.
Witness to the love of Christ,
And spread it with what you do and say.

In our state of dread and insecurities,
We are invited to live in the HOPE
That only God can give to us.
Will I become frozen in fear? NOPE!

Photo by Suliman Sallehi on Pexels.com

Not only did Steve’s sermon encourage us to live in Trust (not terror), but his Prayer of Confession (printed in our bulletin) further inspired us to look deep within and examine whether or not we are:

  • more apathetic than active
  • more isolated than involved
  • more callous than compassionate
  • more obstinate than obedient
  • more legalistic than loving

Our Prayer of Confession continued,
“Gracious Lord, have mercy upon us and forgive our sins. Remove the obstacles preventing us from being Your representatives to a broken world. Awaken our hearts to the promised gift of Your indwelling Spirit.
Amen

Photo by Eduardo Braga on Pexels.com

Psalm 46

God Is Our Fortress
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear …
Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

God Bless You!
Bee safe – Bee well – Bee a Blessing
TRUST and KNOW: God is with you.

What is
one small act
you can do
to change
Terror to Trust
in someone’s heart today?

See ya tomorrow.

We Need Guardian Angels


Protection needed!
Our guardian angels are
Working overtime.

Surround yourself with
The love of family and friends:
Your loving angels.

My friend, Maria Mendoza, gave these cuties to me.

Angels all around
Reach out to bring you comfort.
We all need them now!

Sanctuary lights
Highlight the angelic tones –
Angels softly play.

My mother-in-law created these Faberge’-like eggs

Angels sweetly pray
For your safety and wellness.
I pray for you, too.

Seven represents
God’s number for completion.
Seven angels sing.

This glass angel is a gift from Toni Bowen.
She was here in this room before we bought this house.

Social distancing
Suggests we sit far apart –
Stand six feet away.

This ancient tiny bowl and antique carved angel with accordion are gifts from a friend in Germany

Sit in your own bowl
And do not touch anything;
Stay isolated!

Carry your concerns
Like your heart in open hands –
But wash them often.

My daughter’s mother-in-love, Denise Solioz,
gave us this darling flute-playing angel.

Like the Pied Piper,
Be an angel with a flute.
Compassion plays here.

This lovely angel was among many in a box my mother left behind.
She bought every angel in her nursing home’s gift shop before she died.
I gave most of them away in her memory to the friends in her care facility.
This, the largest of the collection, I kept as a reminder.
BettyDeA believed in angels!
She sits at the top of the circle staircase…
guarding my daily coming and going.

We all need angels
To guard coming and going
In this Virus-age.

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

The winds of change blow.
The Virus changes our world.
Hang tight to angels.

Don’t let fear freeze you.
Live in deep faith and courage.
What goodness will come?

With factories closed,
Air is clearing in China.
People create new.

New ways of thinking;
New ways of doing old things.
Appreciating!

Gratitude for the
Things we saw as common-place,
Like simple touching.

Photo by Kristin De Soto on Pexels.com

Appreciating
Arenas where we gather
For sports or speeches.

Thankfulness for the
Opportunity to dance
With wild abandon.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Now authorities,
Closing our business and schools,
Keep us from living.

We remind ourselves
It is for our greater good.
What about our jobs?

What about our plans
To travel for marriages
Or for funerals?

Our vacation plans –
Things we paid for months ago –
All of them cancelled.

In the midst of this,
Can our angels show to us
The good that’s coming?

Will our guardians
Show us tomorrow’s bright hope
In sorrow’s dark midst?

Photo by Retha Ferguson on Pexels.com

Calling All Angels!
We need your guardianship;
Save us from the doom.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

What are your thoughts
about what’s happening with this Coronavirus –
and what ideas can you share
about how we can be
each others’ guardian angels?

Let me hear from you.
What’s happening in your part of the world?

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