Friday, June 22, 2012

D-Day, Omaha Beach, and a Thankful Heart

"This embattled shore, portal of freedom, is forever hallowed by the ideals, the valor and the sacrifices of our fellow countrymen." American Cemetery, Omaha Beach.

Today I visited the D-Day beaches in Normandy with my family. I have been looking forward to this day and dreading it, knowing it would be difficult. I had prepared for the day by reading the book The Longest Day, which tells the story of June 6, 1944. That day when thousands gave their lives to bring freedom to millions. I knew what happened here. And I didn’t. Reading a book could never prepare me for standing amidst 9,387 white-marble crosses and Stars of David.

It’s difficult to look squarely into such pain and sacrifice, all the while knowing each man whose life is represented here was a son, brother, husband, father, or grandson. But we must. It's how we honor them.

We walked to the far corner of the cemetery, knowing it is likely the least visited. We wanted to see the names of those men who gave everything for us.

So I walked and walked past hundreds, thousands of crosses. Saying their names. Thanking them. It wasn’t easy and there were tears. As I sat on the sands of Omaha beach this afternoon, I prayed I would live a more purposeful life for having been here today. That I would live a more thankful life.

So I honor their sacrifice by sharing in this tiny way what they experienced. Remembering their lives. Their deaths. Saying their names, so they can live on in my memory. In my thankfulness. In my freedom.

Thank you William

Thank you Jerome

Thank you Michael

Thank you for my freedom.

Evening Taps

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What About Me

I was having a look at my blog this evening - and you should know that I am entirely captivated by the look of my blog. Silly because it's just a free blog template from Google's Blogger, but I am enthralled by its design and color. I think that may speak to my level of self-absorption but let's pretend otherwise please. My intent was to update the "About Me" portion of my blog. I say "update" but really what I mean is "write," because currently there is one entire line on the "About Me" page. I can only describe writing my own bio in this way - yuk!

So here's what I wrote instead.

I want to wake up every day giving my life to God, asking him to use me to make someone's life better that day. That's what I want. Honestly, though that doesn't always happen. Like everyone I have my issues or what I call "my stuff," because you know this is real life and it's messy. Much of the time I'm entirely too self-absorbed, critical, cranky, scared, worried and downcast. You may not think so (or maybe you do!) because I'm pretty darn funny (and humble) and funny can hide all manner of things, but it is so.

In all this imperfection, I find so much comfort in these words from Carl Medearis, "I know the one place I can't go wrong is the place where Jesus is.  I can be weak, sinful, foolish, and even rebellious.  I can fail others, ruin ministries, fumble my work, and still, I cannot go wrong when I stand with fear and trembling, knowing only Jesus."

"Oh, thank God - he's so good! His love never runs out." Psalm 107:1

"Come near to God and he will come near to you." James 4:8

I'll keep working on that "About Me" page.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Surprised in London

Today I had the amazing opportunity, along with Kevin and Rebecca, to attend the evening service at Westminster Abbey in London. I was looking forward to the rare opportunity of worshipping in such an historical location. I mean Westminster was built in 1065, long before the country I call home was a twinkle in the eye of any founding father. Every monarch since William the Conqueror has been crowned in the Abbey, with the exception of Edward V and Edward VIII who were never crowned. That's a lot of history!

The Abbey is beautiful and I sat in my pew taking it all in. It was incredible walking over the green marble memorial stone under which Winston Churchill is buried. And also the memorial stone of Charles Darwin, that trouble-maker!

What I didn't expect was to enjoy the service so immensely but I did. I loved the interactive service, the sit and stand, the readings and responses, the up and down of this traditional service.

I also didn't expect the fantastic message, which The Reverend Peter McGreary Priest Vicar delivered. Reverend McGreary shared a beautiful message about Jesus. He said so often we forget that Christianity is about Jesus. We make it about books and rules and doctrine. We make it a concept, but a concept doesn't have a mother. He asked us to live out the love of Jesus every day, to let Jesus be seen within us. He said, "Be an icon for Jesus." I love that.

I am thankful for the unexpected today, and for the blessing of worshipping my God in such a unique way. I hope that tomorrow as I put some more wear and tear on my poor feet, I will remember to live the love of Jesus in every step.