Statues, Images …. Our History

There’s so much crazy rhetoric after some American tragedies. When certain types of violent incidents occur there’s accusations about racial hatred, use of violence. The flurry of criticism from some sources isn’t conducive to unity among us but incites more suspicion and blame.

History has flawed people but we need to keep around reminders of those who’ve helped preserve our country. We don’t need to ‘love’ everyone, or agree with them but we should accept both sides of the story respectfully in public forums.  The reality is that the majority of American’s of all colors can and do, work, live and inter-marry in peace and we want that to continue.

The recent chatter in some U.S. media outlets about taking down statues is a curious thing. Statues are a pieces of art commissioned by a community to commemorate some event, person or place. We’ve got millions of them scattered over the world!! Sometimes people display a relic saved from a battle, or ‘911’ or a famous persons life. Streets, parks and airports are named after famous or significant individuals. And…. we need a sense of public and personal belonging in an age where families are so fractured & people don’t have a good sense of where they came from or what they stand for. People will walk thru a park or airport with their kids and share a quick word on some leader, and that can lead to a sense of identity.

Statue outside Portland Museum, Downtown PDX

People everywhere are so double-minded. They love to visit abroad for some cultural history. They visit statues of past leaders, artists, scientists. Famous war memorials especially in Europe are scattered there as many U.S. soldiers died in wars there. In the U.S. we have statues of great leaders, ships in Boston Harbor, murals. Statues of famous Black, Brown and Indian influences included. Europe contains many people groups, languages. histories & conflicts but I’ve never heard of anyone wanting to bulldoze the Coliseum due to it’s very bloody past. Why would a nation destroy it’s past?

Some Southern statues are being talked about for the negative image they seem to convey to certain people.  Our TV’s, movies, billboards have images that give us many destructive, violent messages, but we don’t hear much about giving up their input in our lives. The disrespect for women, for health or our environment runs rampant on those.

Our most important images perhaps are our family scrapbooks or phone galleries! The memories, history they evoke in us! The way they bring us together to laugh, cry and memorialize our lives.  What would life be like if we didn’t have our photos.? Bland, meaningless …. probably unlivable!

What has God said about images, icons, statues? He commanded that the Golden Calf be destroyed. He doesn’t like it when we fall down and worship anything outside of Him. He asked Jewish Kings to destroy the altars in the high places. He likes images …. and gave strict guidelines for the decoration of the Arc of the Covenant, Noah’s Arc and the entire Jewish Temple!

God told the Jewish nation to build ‘memorials’ after they got victory at certain stages in their journeys. He wanted them to remember where they came from. He told them to celebrate Passover to commemorate their passage out of Egypt. He didn’t want to give them pain again but to remind them of His love and intercession for them when they were slaves.

Memories, memories …. images, images! God doesn’t want us to forget our pasts because if we understand what happened before we will not only see that evil doesn’t win but we’ll be grateful for where we are now!

God does accept images but He likes to choose or inspire them.  He’s a jealous god. Do you want your wife’s former boyfriend’s photos on your mantle, or on her cell phone wallpaper? I’m sure you don’t!

Flags are different tho …. they connote allegiance or where you hail from. I see flags from Mexico, El Salvador, Lakers Nation waving from cars, stuck on windows here but I don’t think most would like to see a Confederate flag on government soil,  …. just in Museum’s, certain historical places or in private residences.

We are a diverse country. I live on the same street as soccer moms, homeless, churches and gangs out in L.A.  There’s people in my part of town from Sri Lanka, Mexico and Korea. From the Middle East, Mid West and middle America. It’s the reality in all our larger cities and somehow I traverse this huge city with all these people groups and I don’t feel threatened or criticize those different from me, or those not seeking God like I do.

God’s given us so much in this country and we need to protect our diverse legacy! We need to appreciate the differences in others, where they came from, look like. We shouldn’t broadcast false descriptions of people, events or incite people to hate a group of people in our news coverage. We shouldn’t promote wrong impressions so people get scared or lose hope in our nation, in God.  We need our minds woken up these days to value or learn from the good & evil done before.  What if we never heard of the Holocaust? I shudder to think.

 

It’s That Time Of Year Again

(To the many Mothers and Fathers missing their children!)

This is not a post seeking ‘pity’ but one seeking your condolences once again! Sometime in the month of September the ‘heaviness’ starts to hit me once again. Seems like my limbs are full of lead. It’s Fall, it’s the time for Marc’s birthday and then the anniversary of Marc’s trip to heaven for the last time, on my birthday! It seems so abhorant to stop the life long practice of celebrating birthdays in the Fall, and replacing the habit with pain, reflection. I have to consciously make it a point till it becomes routine.

My sons Paul (L) and Marc

Bitterness wants to creep in with the clout of a demon. America is coming off the tragedies of Harvey, Irma & Maria. Homes were battered, trees and sidewalks battered and I’m being battered by my loss …. but still, God is good! The grunge wants to steal my joy, but I’m resolute in standing for purpose out of all this!

We were created with deep emotional needs! We are made to react strongly to loss of love! Our hearts cry out for restoration of what’s right been ripped from our lives! A family …. a nation …. if broken, must mourn! Remember the past! We shouldn’t …. refuse to mourn!  A person can get severe physical and emotional maladies from holding grief in.

Our dear ones gave us so much love and we feel right inside giving back remembrance! We rejoice for having known them, our hearts are full of love and gratitude …. we don’t want to forget them! Even if there’s pain in remembering certain details it’s worth it to remember. The world is not going to end …. even tho we may wonder, ‘how will I muster the strength to go thru this, I just wanna drop to the floor again!?’

Two brothers

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the low times! I relish remembering Marc’s face, his wonderful ways, his love of God and life. I can’t express how much I get in return for carrying the burden of his loss and sharing with others that God is real! I need to feel close to him!

I’m really OKAY when I grieve! We who have traveled the road of no fear in the face of death are ‘victorious’, we can’t forget that! Gone are the crazy ways we used to plan our lives. I’m in pain at certain times more than others, and it does feel crippling at times, but death doesn’t have the sting it once did! Jesus and I took it from satan.

Death can be very ‘sharp’ but it doesn’t have to defeat us! Don’t pity me or others. If you only knew how blessed a mom I was to have such an incredible friend and son in Marc, you’d rejoice in his life and urge me on! The crazy thing is, ‘I never feel far from him, I always feel close. I talk to him every day.’

Mourning proves there’s love, and that bond between people can never be broken! We who’ve lost have a whole new respect for ‘eternity’ now. God’s plans are not reckless but purposeful, no matter what happens to us or our loved ones!

In Matthew 5 it says: ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’, and I have really been comforted –

 

“DOES ISAAC LIVE?”

On the way to see my brother, when they said that in his illness he is crushed and low

A messenger of evil tidings stood in my path and was silent.

Whereupon I spoke to him: “Tell me, why are you still.

Does Isaac live?” He answered: “He is already dead.”

I replied: “Silence, may dust fill your mouth!

May you be notified of every distress and affliction and may your father and mother be bereaved over you!

Did I not bring a physician who healed many others like him and sustained them from sickness?

How can he die, the great one of his age, accepted of the multitude of his brethren and seeking the welfare of your people,

Perhaps he sleeps?” He replied: “Will he awake be he prince or pauper who has fallen ill and died?”

 

Jewish Prince in Moslem Spain: Selected Poems of Samuel ibn Nagrela.

Copyright © 1973 by The University of Alabama Press.

Dealing with a Natural Disaster

In America we’re used to being alerted in the Spring and Fall about fires and storms. This is a normal pattern.

Every once in awhile there are monster storms or fires. FEMA told us perhaps 25% of Houstonians and Floridians in the Keys lost their homes recently! I can’t comprehend that number or misery! I remember after the Northridge Quake in the ’90’s my neighborhood looked like a war zone, it’s something you never forget. Losing 25 % of an areas homes is like a nuclear bomb was detonated there.

Every day I awake thinking of those hurt by the storms. Then I’m reminded how God brought me out of the deep loss of my son going to heaven before me.  Let me say, God is there with you! He’s blessed you before and He’ll continue to bless you! But you have to put your faith in Him, not the government or the weather there.  You may have to examine your purpose in life and rearrange some priorities perhaps.

Sometimes we see people taken advantage of in these moments, but rest assured God sees. Just keep your eyes focused ahead of you, and not on what happened and you’ll find who you are in God. He will reveal what’s important to know! The God who’s been with you will give you the words, the will and the way to see beyond what seems like a dismal future!

Today I watched on CBN how Operation Blessing helped strip and rehab a home in Houston, and then help rehab another couple’s house in a coastal town. One family wasn’t Christian per se, but how they appreciated the help when they were destitute! And there are so many churches sending funds, food and people from all over America! There are people spending their own vacation time to help out!

Yes, it hurts to see people suffer, it’s painful to know their lives have been brought to the brink of death, and some will never be the same. But if we keep looking for God’s face in this and not blame Him or those who don’t believe in ‘climate warming’, or whatever, we will see God’s hand of provision and restoration. It won’t be like we imagined, but it will take us out of our self made ‘hardship’ mentality.

What’s really sad is that the people in the Gulf areas won’t recover in a couple months but it will likely take years to recover from these blows ….. we won’t hear about the tragedies much after a few weeks, but the church will not stop working! I know at these times some are thinking, ‘what is going on with our world, are these the End Times’? God does have a word about these ‘times’ in this crises, I pray people look for it.

We need to take our attention off celebrities and a ‘quick fix’ of raising money and look at the many more millions that are being spent out of people’s pocketbooks, church coffers, large ministry rescue operations. Police and fire departments are stretched to the max helping to pull those regions back together again! FEMA and local governments are assisting where they can. We need to be reminded of the web of people out there who will do what they must to bring help to those resting in God’s answers. We cannot go thru these crises in our country by ourselves, our broader church family will be working as well as our civil servants who give tirelessly!

What religion or country out there has the compassion for the hurting, needy like a Christian nation? What other gods are sending prayers, money or bodies and sacrificing for those they don’t even know?

 

 

 

The Forgiveness Project …. PTSD & Healing

I’m so glad to have found this article! It helped make me feel more sane, normal after losing my son to murder. This lady in the following article went thru some of the same things I did after her dad was murdered. The article helped confirm that what I wrote a couple years ago wasn’t ‘crazy’ thoughts …. someone else had experienced the same things. PTSD affected not just our emotions but our bodies.

When Margot’s dad was in his casket she told him that his passing would ‘not be for nothing’! How much we are alike. Both of us headed down a new trajectory, while trying to dodge the ever-present temptation of doom, depression.

Margot said she felt ‘black’. After my son Marc’s attack I felt like someone had stabbed me too in the heart, for months I felt I was walking around with a huge stake in my chest. The defendant in Margot’s dad’s case was genuinely remorseful, so when she met him they both sobbed and cried, like I did with Wesley …. Andrew at sentencing. She says they have a special bond, and that’s what I’ve tried to share in my blog, that I have a special relationship with my sons attackers. I think it’s because we’ve experience a life changing event and have come to know what’s really important in life and, …. we can forge ahead with love. We hold a key to each others healing.

Margot’s and my reactions towards our loved ones murderers are not the norm unfortunately, but I think because of the conscience of the men involved, they were ‘ripe’ for forgiveness. I can’t tell you the awesome freedom it gives to not have to carry around fear, anger or hate towards someone after such a terrible crime! Alot of crimes involve a certain amount of evil intention, but in Marc’s and other cases it was more like ‘misperception’ of danger’, as one attorney put it.  Forgiveness isn’t, ‘well, ‘I’m sorry, see you later’. No, it’s ‘I’m so sorry, I wish it never happened, I almost wish it happened to me sort of’ feelings! It takes a mature person.

The ‘Forgiveness Project’ shares stories of various victims and defendants mostly in Canada & England. This woman’s story has such a powerful message for men and women, I just needed to share!

Margot Van Sluytman (Canada)

“The moment I began to consider forgiveness, my whole body started to feel different, more complete and more at peace.”

 Photo by Katalin Karolyi

When Margot Van Sluytman was 8-years-old her parents moved from Guyana to Canada in order to bring up their three children in a safer environment. In March 1978, when she was 16, Margot’s father was murdered during an armed robbery at the Hudson Bay store where he worked. Many years later Margot embarked on a path of reconciliation with her father’s killer. Today she is a poet, publisher and founder of the Sawbonna Project, a justice organisation that encourages respect, responsibility, and relationship within the crucible of our shared-humanity.

The last time I saw my Dad on this earth he was laying in his casket. I kissed him on his forehead and said, ‘Dad, I promise that your life will not be for nothing.’ At the time I didn’t know what that meant.

My mother, my brother and my sisters were very close and the murder of my Dad shattered us as a family. Within three months of his death, at the age of 16, I had moved out of home. I felt suffocated. There was no context. No center. I needed to be alone to think, to feel, to grieve.

Three days after my Dad was shot, a journalist came to the door to talk to my mother. ‘Do you ever think you’ll be able to forgive the man, Glen Flett, who killed your husband?’ she asked, and without hesitating my Mum said, ‘Yes, I forgive him so that I can live.’ She knew that if she thought differently she wouldn’t survive. And she almost didn’t as one year later she spent 12 months in hospital.

When I was 18 I tried to kill myself with a bottle of pills. My mother came to see me and said, ‘I have lost Daddy, I can’t lose you too.’ After that I never tried to take my own life again but instead for six years I became bulimic.

I had this feeling that half of me was black; I would walk around feeling like half a person, completely lost. Somehow I managed to do an Honours in English and Philosophy and although I didn’t believe in much I did believe in love and when I fell in love we got married and started a family. The marriage didn’t last but my two daughters gave me a reason to stay alive. And yet still my life felt full of existential angst. An author I knew said to me once, ‘You’re not the only one who feels pain, Margot.’ But I was trapped in my hurt, and any injustice filled me with vitriol.

It was poetry that saved me. I’ve always loved language and I created an ideal job for myself using poetry as a form of healing to help people with their grief. I ran courses and published several books. I received an award from the National Association of Poetry Therapy in America for my book, Dance With Your Healing: Tears Let Me Begin to Speak. I’d felt like a loser all my life and this accolade made me feel worth something again.

Just after collecting the award, I received a donation to my publishing press, Palabras, from a woman I didn’t know. I sat there staring at the name and then turned to my daughter and said, ‘You won’t believe this but I’ve just received a donation from the wife of Grandpa’s killer.’

It turned out that Glen Flett (who had transformed his life in prison and been released after 14 years of incarceration) had attended an event aiming to bring victims and perpetrators together, where a woman had asked if he ever thought about contacting the family of his victim. When he replied ‘yes’, she went away to research what I was doing and then showed him my publishing press work.

So I replied to Glen’s wife to thank her for the donation and ask if her husband would consider giving me an apology. She emailed straight back saying, ‘he has been waiting a long time to do this.’

From then on Glen and I started to exchange emails. They were emails filled with humanity. His words helped to heal me, but after a while the words weren’t enough and I knew I needed to look into his eyes. So three months later I met the man who killed my father.

After introducing myself, we both started to sob and just hugged each other. It was extremely powerful. We did lots of talking and lots of crying – it was as if we knew each other. All I can say is that from that moment on the black part of me started to get coloured in.

This was the first of several meetings, all of which have informed my work on restorative justice which I now refer to as  Sawbonna. It’s a word I learnt from Glen when he used it to sign off an email. He told me it was a Zulu word meaning “I see you” – our shared-humanity.

At first I hated the very notion of forgiveness. To tell someone who is in pain to forgive is brutal. Forgiveness can’t be prescriptive. But at a talk one day an audience member told me she had chosen to forgive the perpetrator of a heinous crime and this made me wonder if perhaps I was being too narrow minded. The moment I began to consider forgiveness, my whole body started to feel different, more complete and more at peace.

For me forgiveness is a fluid process which means healing. Before I embarked on this path half of me was a void and full of nothingness, whereas now I have a friendship with the man who killed my father and that has helped put meaning back into my life.

Christian Dating Site …… At My Age

Joining a dating site used to seem so repugnant to me …. I thought it was so abnormal, or weird. I’m not into ‘chats’ or flattering people just to be nice …. but I’m really pleased about this adventure.

On my last trip to Portland

My friend Crista shared how she met her husband thru the site I’m on, and she’s such a true Christian blogger sister that her success started removing some of the tarnish of it being a tawdry way to meet someone serious.

The first few days I was so nervous, sceptical but there’s a learning curve to most anything. Part of this journey is so normal, part is funny …. and part is seriously scary! My male family & friends don’t realize there’s guys even on Christian sites who’re out to prey on women! People don’t want to hear that side of life. I know my son Paul, and former brother in law Gregg, would be pretty concerned if I told them about some of the men who’ve contacted me.

It’s interesting sharing about going on a dating site, I never thought I’d have the nerve to share in public. I’m like alot of people …..  careful about sharing such a personal side of my life. But …. after Marc went to heaven I was surprised by a couple messages from God. I felt He was saying, “I’m going to send you a comforter’! I knew in my case it meant ‘husband’, as my best friend on earth had been taken from me. The word was not something I dreamed up in my sub-conscience as I was so worn from sadness, lack of sleep, keeping up with the court case, family, work and blog! For so long I’d sit on my sofa and cry at night, and even told myself, ‘how could anyone be part of my broken life?’ So I doubted His message.

But God speaks in the quiet times, sometimes reiterating His plan thru other sources. The word ‘comforter’ is such a great term ….  it went right down to my heart. It’s just soooo unheard of these days …. but so necessary in normal relationships. Women are increasingly carrying such heavy loads of work, family and church they many times are lacking the experience of being comforted themselves. We are so used to giving comfort to children, others ….. we need it ourselves at times. We really aren’t super women!

Usually you hear men and women joking to each other about these relationship things, but dating isn’t really a ‘funny’ issue in the long run. Anyway, there’s no proper screening on the site I use, so it’s possible to have any number of strange people sign up. The site let’s me know that here and there someone has tried to contact me but they’ve been deleted for abusing the guidelines, so I’m glad there’s some protection. I’m also not into giving someone my email immediately and then finding when we connect that I’m led to a porn site or I download a virus. Who knows what hackers, or whatever are on these sites

To be truthful there are some truly good people on the site. I always read profile bio’s, so I can get an idea of a persons life experience, heart towards God, family and others. Some profiles are so involved, some are one liners. A few have shared how their lives have dramatically changed and God’s brought them a new perspective of things. They’re actually brave enough to share how they’ve chased the wrong things, like the successful life at the top, and it wasn’t what they thought and came crashing down. Then some guys write like all’s so rosy & perfect and I’ve felt, ‘gee, you have it all worked out, …. where would I fit in, what would I add in your equation?’

No one ….nada ….. has mentioned a thing about my blog or Marc early on, even tho I mention him a bit in my profile. I’ve had to mention him later on. I’m not real put off but just bit surprised. Maybe that’s how women view things. I totally know that dealing with death or murder is something that scares alot of people, even Christians, and I couldn’t partner up with anyone who’s not compassionate about a loss that’s so great! One man said he and his kids are a ‘package deal’, and that’s how I feel about Marc …. ‘the blog and Marc are my package deal.’ No likey, no takey! So I lose some because of Marc, and that’s okay.

Church sign in Portland

I’m not on the site to waste mine or anyone’s time.  Re: physical attraction some have differed to God to send them the perfect one. Personally, I don’t want to waste time wondring about people, I like to get an idea soon. I look at photos, read bio’s and have certain preferences I know I can’t shake.

Anyway, the best word I could think of in my profile to describe over-all attraction was ‘chemistry’. Chemistry doesn’t stand for ‘lust’, like one man stated. ‘Chemistry’ to me involves the whole being’s motive for living and how open they are to working as a ‘team’ member with the opposite sex. It’s about his/her energy level, the commitment they make to life. To me it’s just not being very true to yourself to not consider the chemistry element in a relationship.

We are supposed to be attracted to our opposite …. they bring out the best in us, complete us, but also make us confront things we would not normally think of or deal with on our own. There are a ton of Christians out there but to find one with ‘character’ is more rare but so important. Having an exciting purpose in life is attractive to me …. daring to be real in this world of users is another neat quality in a man that’s so desirable.

Thankfully Marc and I had some solid relationship ideals that stood the test of time. I know from just having lived life that many are living in a fantasy world with their real selves …. with family, health, finances. I’m not putting anyone down cause I’ve had my short fantasy, American lifestyle period and it led down the wrong road. But I’m so glad Marc would have none of that nonsense pretty much! Solid as they come, he was!

Another Jail Sentence

There was another court appearance on July 7th for the lesser defendant Wesley. I want to protect his privacy to a degree so will say the infractions were minor basically, probation issues, etc. It may seem to some ‘he’s a loser, his life is out of control’ but I’m so much more encouraged for his future after the hearing!

Downtown Portland, OR Old Courthouse

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s an epidemic of youth floundering without any solid adult grounding in their life these days. It’s not that Wesley doesn’t have any family …. he does, but they are estranged from him mostly. I’ve been staying in touch and watching his growth and hard times for awhile. I know what his character is like …. so I understand what he’s capable of growing into.

Anyway, the last hearing brought back the memories associated with the original hearings for Marc’s murder. I wanted to cry, feel terror again but I had to listen so intently thru the phone to the proceedings, I had to put my feelings ‘under’. Wesley had a new attorney, someone from a neat Public Defenders Law firm that helps indigent and poor persons. I’ve been sooo impressed by them …. one guy writes these great articles on human compassion  for the less fortunate, and he’s not even a Christian. Marc’s original D.A., Ms Jergovic, and the original Judge, were on this case again.

I’ve shared in the past how any subsequent arrests for the two defendants are hooked automatically to the original murder case, so it’s not like you can avoid probation or get into a fight, and it’s seen as a separate infraction. So …. everyone knows you as this person who’s been in a murder case who’s now re-jailed due to probation issues, etc! The shame/fame follows you around. Ugh! What a heavy load for a 21 year old who’s so honest and gentle mannered to be around, but what a strong man he was in court! I tried to be so strong for him, D. A. Nicole and the Judge, but oh, the ‘memories’, the flood of feelings …. and the fear & sadness for Wesley.

Keller Fountain, Downtown Portland, OR

I was so grateful I could participate by phone! This was an important hearing as yes, he was given 39 more days in jail …. but, I think this time he’ll get the help he so needs! I got to speak twice, so cool. I told them I trusted their decision, but I relayed how Wesley was a foster child, then adopted and has had life stacked up against him in many ways most haven’t. He didn’t finish High School as he was told he had a test evaluation that didn’t give him bright hopes for his future. In my view, he just hasn’t had the encouragement of parents, mentors to know how to go out in the world!  There’s more to the story but he’s not a bitter, rebellious young guy who uses drugs but someone who’s very trusting, respectful and normal around me and in our many communications.

In most court hearings not alot is unknown as many things are decided beforehand …. so it’s not a surprise what the exact charges are, the sentence is. But I was so grateful I was allowed to speak because I believe it may have impacted Judge Immergut’s recommendations for Wesley. She listened receptively to my suggestions, and gave some instructions for Wesley’s future with counseling, etc. that I know he’d learn from! He’s recently been housed at a 501(c)3 Youth Rescue facility, and asked for some ‘anger management’ counseling, so he’s learning to speak up better for his genuine needs.

There are those in our society who are living a world outside our churches, families, jobs. As we go to work, shop, drive thru the streets we don’t see them for the most part. There are many going thru difficult times we know nothing about. If you saw Wesley you’d think he was a normal young man …. he’s clean, social yet private, and has a circle of friends after the ones who abandoned him for the crime. He’s funny like a normal teen and shares silly, yet thoughtful things on his FB account. He cares about me when I share certain things. He opens doors for me and has asked for a hug a few times …. this is a 21 year old, with good manners and kind heart! Not some crazed ‘murderer’ type. We can talk so freely, you might think we’re related except for his reddish blond hair.

God many times puts us with people we never thought we’d have anything in common with, only to find out they are a ‘bridge’, a comfort that few could be. In this case Wesley and I are drawn together thru a great pain, and we can be ourselves because we’ve been thru a horrendous tragedy together. We don’t have to put on ‘aires’, run thru hoops, etc. There’s few in the world I can relate to who care about the case, the topic of violence. I feel Marc is involved in helping this young man find his way! I’m finding MY way thru knowing Wesley too! I don’t feel the pain of the murder is wasted when I’m with him! Marc is not forgotten!

Prophetic Revelation Briefly

Prophecy is so not talked about for the most part in the circles I live or work in, but it’s a powerful part of the Judeo/Christian heritage!

People from all cultures generally understand prophecy is a component of a faith system, and means the foretelling of something before it happens. In the Bible it’s used many times to predict that certain things will transpire at a certain time or way.

Before the Jews were an organized people, God spoke prophetic words to many individuals. When Abraham decided to not worship the idols of his father God spoke to him to move away from his fathers culture. He spoke other things to Abraham …. changing his name, giving him a child in old age. Prophecy was sometimes used as an ominous sign of impending doom on the Jews, other nations …. but normally it was used to encourage certain people to dream big or hang in there and believe that God will truly do what He said He’d do for them. (Joseph, Jacob).

God prepared every Jewish age with the prediction that a Messiah would be born to fulfill His plan for not only the Jews but all peoples. The New Testament is the culmination of those prophecies as God came to earth as a human Jesus to teach, heal and proclaim that all must go thru Him if they wanted to go to heaven.

Nowadays prophecy is being discussed on many Christian TV shows or in books by writers with excellent credentials. It’s very popular to listen to all kinds of sources share how God’s prophecy for the Jews has been fulfilled, as Jews from around the world have returned to Israel. God’s spoken about other nations going under or rising up, in the book of Daniel, other books. Those kingdoms have gone on to fulfill their time in world history.

There’s a grand scheme of things in God’s creation. So while God has a prophetic plan for all groups, He has a plan for each person. King David is maybe the best example of how God can work prophetically in an individual. Because of David’s character as a youth, God honored him and told Samuel to anoint him King. David loved deeply but suffered as no other had, yet he wrote very personal songs about a Creator who was a continual strength and comfort to him. He passionately and eloquently shared intimate details of the attacks against him, how God always rescued him, the way he loved God’s presence. David prophetically revealed to us that God knows what we go thru in our walk with Him. God sees all. No matter what happens, how much we’re attacked, He is not far from us. He’s in fact loved us since we were in our mothers womb and has a plan for us.

Prophecy is a promise, future, but God’s blessings can’t be known unless we ‘accept’ that God speaks that way to us thru predictions. We know the 10 Commandments are right to live by. We may know there is salvation thru Christ, but we can’t know God’s plan for us unless we ask Him to reveal it.

God won’t force us to see the world the way He sees it. He’s been dropping hints in our conscience, creation and other sources that He’s desiring to be intimately involved in our choices. He speaks prophetically to us thru our hearts desires if we relinquish them to Him. If we don’t believe he’s the kind of God who cares about our everyday concerns, the little things as well as big, we won’t seek Him out. If we think God’s only interested in the Jews or the larger world picture, we’ll worry, suffer and stress out waiting for some miracle or sign or whatever.

He wants us to talk to Him about our circumstances, trust His leading, His timing. He wants us to read his Word so we get familiar with His love and plans for those who turn to Him. Many times people have a bad dream about something and it scares them from trusting God in the prophetic realm. Our bad dream could stem from watching tragic news before bed or not dealing with a tough decision at work. But it doesn’t mean we are to stop listening to Him. God is never too busy to speak with us about His personal plan for us, even in the backdrop of a world in chaos. He’s that kind of god!

God uses words of knowledge, words of wisdom or gives miracles, dreams and visions. I used to have more dreams and visions, now I have have ‘nudgings’ where I know to stop and ‘listen’ to His voice. He speaks many times out of order, meaning, I may have something brewing on the inside that I want an answer about but He will speak about something on another issue, which is exactly what I need. His timing always is right!

Real prophetic words from the Word, a prophet or from the voice of God in us always gives identity, protection and purpose to a person or people group. (Myles Munroe speaks about this phenomena being present in those following God’s directive to have dominion on earth.) God’s not too far away to hear you. Bring EVERYTHING to Him, don’t hold back feeling what you have to say is too hard to come true, too silly or painful. We’ve all made been there.

But ….. true prophecy also involves ‘risk’ and going outside what may be your comfort zone. Others may not understand what you hear, find those who will. God will give you dreams to spur you on so you can weather any storm that comes your way. He has strategies for each of us that we can use to claim our purpose under heaven! I think in this age, there’s many out there who sense the prophetic but they think it’s outside their ability to understand, . Many see ‘co-incidences’, not understanding they are God incidences. Many have had dreams and revelations that could only come from God. Don’t just take someones word on it but try expanding this side of your life.

I saw this side of life in Marc, and sometimes I marveled at the rapidity, blessing he received because of it. I’m seeing it in his case with the defendants as well. God never stops showing me a life after loss …. love after tragedy!

A Letter From The Main Defendant

God’s allowed me to have an unusual view of life from where I am. To look death in the face and go on to find blessing from suffering, healing out of pain takes daily trust and commitment. It ‘frees’ up your imagination, your energy to be above the frivolous attitudes or pursuits that confine most people. I live with alot of gratitude for what we have here in the West where we can have a life style that affords enough time to go thru the grieving process, so that a new direction in life can be constructed!

It’s been pretty bad missing Marc lately, and I’ve actually found myself almost asking, ‘this suffering is going on so long, I don’t know if I can do it?’ That’s normal, the human heart doesn’t like losing ‘love’, it battles for sanity, meaning. The enlightened person I am knows there’s a devil who’s alive and wants to hurt us in our most vulnerable spot if he can. But my soul understands the battle really wasn’t lost as Marc has a legacy thru my blog and the defendants.

Last paragraph from Andrew’s letter –

The devil knows we’re made for love, and he tried to hurt me in the worst way by taking my best friend, son and comforter away! But, whenever the devil tries to cripple or destroy us, God says, ‘look, I’m going to do a new thing! Don’t look back or despair, I’m walking with you thru this! Trust me and release your fears and anger, watch what I’m going to do!’  If we can resist the blaming or bitter spirits, and desire God’s perfect will, He’ll lead forward in the most odd yet wonderful ways! I can’t let Marc go, and I’m NOT, in a very real way ….. but God has shown me ‘love’ in some unlikely young men …. the defendants.

As you may know my blog contains info on the main defendant in my sons murder case.  Andrew’s now in a prison in NE Oregon, in a town called Umatilla. The prison is along the beautiful Columbia River, which borders the state of Washington.

When I first read Andrew’s letters I was in a daze, I couldn’t believe my eyes. He had accepted my forgiveness in such an open hearted yet articulate way, I instantly knew God had hold of his life. It was so strange to see a relationship unfold between us, to read of his life, his goals, his honesty about mistakes. I never dreamed a person like him could be behind the stabbing! That we could be part of such a horrible incident and yet share a commaraderie is just another totally unexpected miracle. God’s continued to reveal that he has a plan for all the suffering not just ‘I’ve’ gone thru but what Andrew has faced.

In class with my students –

Here’s an excerpt from Andrew’s first letter above:

‘You, your family and all of Marc’s loved ones and all the friends are in my prayers. I want to keep Marc’s spirit alive and present in my life. Because I’m certain if I become more like his true self, I will keep improving. That is my promise. ‘ 

Regards, Andrew M ……

You just can’t make that stuff up! To hear your son’s killer say that takes your breath away! You can’t hate with that type of heart turned towards you!

As a parent, educator I know Andrew was doing his best to redeem himself by resolving to be a ‘good boy’, not understanding it takes awhile to heal. But receiving forgiveness and desiring to truly grow into a different person is such a big part of his journey. Some convicts never get to that stage, ever …. they stay lost in the prison system or life, so I’m so glad for him.

I want Andrew to claim his true identity, not try to copy Marc or measure up to some person who’s had a huge impact on his life.  I believe the VM of Marc I played at his sentencing touched him but I want Andrew to learn to love himself, his life and only God can reconstruct him wholly.  I want the crime to recede and for love to increase in him!

God loved Marc so much, He’s honored his passing in a unique way, cause that’s the kind of loving, sacrificial guy Marc was to others! I had planned to tell the court, ‘you don’t know how Marc loved, you don’t know the God we serve!’ I wasn’t so shocked by all the good coming from his going to heaven so soon, as continually painful as it is!

MAX Train Attack – Curbing Violence In Public

A comment on the recent stabbings in Portland, OR

In my blog I keep up with some people and the news in Portland. Few days ago a man on a MAX (light rail) train stabbed 3 men, killing 2. The suspect had been yelling racial slurs at a girl in a Muslim hijab. A witness shared that the victims had tried to get the guy to leave the train after telling him he was saying disturbing things, and so the suspect stabbed them when one victim got too close with his cell phone.

Hawthorne Bridge over the Willamette River, Portland, OR

This story has brought back so many painful memories for me as my son was an innocent victim of downtown street crime over 2 years ago. Very hard to listen to the news and hear family members crying for their lost ones! I had to turn their weeping off. My deepest condolences to the families!

Some are calling the train attack a ‘hate crime’, but I believe there’s a bigger issue in this we all can learn from. There are gangs, homeless, mentally ill in Portland like in all cities. This suspect had a criminal record, but wrote rambling diatribes on FB that wandered all over the place. When asked to defend his sanity by a reader he referred to a court case in 2013 where the judge said he was ‘sane’.

I’m on the side of saving lives, and maintaining dignity in the face of a few slurs, instead of losing ones life, and causing eternal pain to loved ones, the community! The suspect seemed clearly mentally ill, confused terms, uttered prejudicial slogans, and rambled with little sense of connection with others around him … both online, and on a video of him on the train the night before. There are people on the internet, everywhere, who very intentionally hate Jews, blacks, whites, police, the Left or Right, etc. and write or blow up places on purpose. Then there’s distraught suicidal husbands, youth high on drugs, homeless or mentally ill who won’t hurt unless pushed over the edge. If you’ve worked with the homeless, police, mental health workers in Portland you know who I mean.

Police, mental health experts, educators have some common strategies for dealing with those who’re mentally ill or ‘high’ …. ‘don’t try to reason with them! Don’t take the law into your own hands and risk your life or the safety of those around you by arguing with an unstable person!’ If you don’t know someone, then you don’t know what they’re capable of doing to you. Calm and vigilance is what’s required even when physical violence has begun.

Some hateful people are just waiting for someone to push their buttons, they can attack you simply if you look their way. But most ranting unstable people will become violent only if we try to force ourselves into their ‘space’. Truly unstable people don’t have normal lives with jobs and family usually, they can’t control their mental process ….. it’s impossible to calm them with any ‘words’! They just don’t hear anyone but themselves! Don’t try to be a ‘good, rational’ guy by trying to argue or reason with them!

Stay away from a ranting hate-fulled person if you feel scared, like you’d go to the other side of the street to avoid a suspicious person. What just makes me so sad about this incident is that the train conductor spoke thru the loud speaker for the ‘person who’s causing the commotion …. get off the train or I’ll call the police!’ And the suspect yelled back he was getting off at the next station! He was starting I think to get the idea he wasn’t wanted and the police would be called. The mother and teens were already safe in the back of the train. It seems the victims were ‘boxing the guy in’, a witness said. They told the suspect to ‘get off now’, just as the train was pulling into the station, and the suspect had gotten up to leave! Oh, the pain caused by that misjudging of the suspect! Just such a terrible, terrible tragedy for so many!

As best you can, assess if a ranting person is a frustrated guy or part of an organized gang, etc. Is the person a teen, or on drugs? We can live having our feelings hurt, but can die if we provoke a deranged bigot. We don’t know the heart of everyone and what kind of family or struggles they came out of, therapy sought, rehab? We don’t need to label people all the time and get filled with hate, but use restraint, tolerance! We need to maintain a sense of strength and clear thinking for our younger generation when we hear abusive, confusing rhetoric. There’s a time to speak up, and a time to stay quiet.

Light rail in downtown Portland

There are things to be upset about these days, and there are those who will try to take us on with their anger. I’ve had to deal with parents at the schools I’ve run who were downright threatening! I stopped a man once from stealing items from my car after I assessed his age, mental capacity, attitude.   You have to develop that part of you that we call ‘gut instinct’, develop the part that understands human nature ……. that can see what’s going on in the scenario so we consider the long term repercussions.

I don’t personally believe it’s good to call people martyr’s because they took on an unstable person, it’s the wrong message to send to youth. If we see a person mumbling out loud on Fifth Avenue in front of a food cart, we don’t need to tell the guy he’s offensive, or tell him to leave. We can call ‘911’ if that’s the case. It’s better to be vigilant and escape a potential criminal act, so we can go on to have a productive life. We should never sit and let someone be beaten, but ‘words’ we can ignore, walk away from. We can refuse to let negative words keep us hostage just like civil rights leaders, Gandhi have done in the past and accomplish more for our cause than violence or negative words ever could.

I’ve been called names or bumped into violently at a concert or been the victim of sexual harassment. It’s a part of life to run into people who’re out to hurt others, and those people don’t care who’s in their path. I’ve had to grit my teeth, and walk away a few times. Angry predators will not stop seeking their prey …. frustrated mentally ill people can usually be ignored …. we can learn who to fear. (Read Dr Phil’s book “Life Code’ to read about true predators).

Being out in public takes some discretion …. we all take into account the busy times of the day, park our cars near a lighted area at night, but it’s the erratic person who can create chaos and pain if not handled properly. If you’re a parent fearing for your child during verbal abuse, move your child out of the way the best you can. You can contact security, pull the emergency brake, call ‘911’ in many places. Don’t let fear stop you from clear thinking, acting.

I recently rode the MAX from the airport and took a different route to Downtown. Some gentlemen gave me the schedule for the next transfer but I told them I refused to stand alone at that stop but wanted to be with a group of people while waiting for a transfer train. I didn’t want to be a sitting target for a stray bullet, a ticked off gang member.

I’m so glad for Marc’s legacy and for the voice I have to share some hope and sanity in this life. There’s a criminal mind who’s looking to hurt, an insane person who can’t make his thoughts come together right and then the ’emotionally’ pained person who’s going thru a crisis. Many of those lost people are more to be pitied rather than hated. We need to keep that in mind.

Resources:    Oregonian Newspaper                        CNN

KGW8  TV                                            Portland Police Report

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day To You (And Me)

Happy Mother’s Day to you! I’m saying to ‘me’ too because it’s a hard day. I’m finding my ‘loss’ is still as deep as ever!

Some of us are joyful on this day because ‘we’ are celebrated. Some of us are ‘mournful’ as we miss not only our mother but the children we were supposed to be mothering! All this joy and sorrow seem confusing to me sometimes.

My 2 sons, Paul (l) and Marc (r)

How do other mom’s celebrate with one child gone? Some parents lost their sons to war, or violence or heroin. It all hurts. Certain holidays are so ‘different’ since Marc went to heaven. So many things have changed, and not for the worse, so I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I know other mom’s are feeling a ‘lack’ even tho we’ve still got lives and children to be responsible for.

I’m blessed to have another great son, Paul, my first born! Named in part after my older brother Paul who was a beacon of love to me! You never know how your children will develop? You never know totally what’s going on inside until they grow older and reveal more of their inner hearts and ideas. When they’re younger they’re learning how to be an adult and wanting to please us. I’m so blessed both my sons have deeply caring, hopeful personalities. They aren’t whiners, blaming God, others whenever life is hard. They never used their friends or women as they set their goals. I’m so grateful that Paul still wears his heart/emotions on his ‘sleeve’, as they say. He still has a sense of the spontaneity and joy of life that many lose as they age.

My son Paul and I

I’ve appreciated so much those today who’ve helped me ‘bear’ my loss.  I don’t want to forget Marc. I don’t want to pretend there is no mourning in this life that can’t be answered by the Lion of Judah who sends us strength to bear us up and power to envision beyond the grave.  That love is available in all circumstances. If you know the bible is true, that it speaks of real life and real overcoming from loss, like in Ruth’s story, then you know there is purpose beyond the grave! Faith produces ….. self pity diminishes. Hope restores joy ….  bitterness depletes. Death is not the final say so, God is always looking to the future!

We live in this narrow world where we don’t wish to get involved in others pain many times. The human experience of growing in Christ escapes us when we are only trying to be ‘happy’all the time. I’m so grateful for other Mom’s who hurt but still love. For Mother’s who speak out their sorrow honestly but make plans to ‘give’ instead of holding grudges.

“Love ….. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things …..  love never fails.”  I Cor 13:7-8