September 11th: Destruction can serve as a Distraction or an Opportunity

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Today marks the 16th anniversary of September 11th.  I will always remain grateful for the officers, firefighters, city officials and now utility workers that are out in the streets today working tirelessly to keep us safe in the wake of this storm, as they were 16 years ago.

September 11th.  I remember the conversations I had in the immediacy of the knowledge of the attack.  The fear of the unknown was palatable.  After checking in with family, I called a childhood friend that worked for a Congressman in DC.  A moment of relief washed over me, as I heard his voice answer the call.  He answered,“What happened?!” He had just deboarded a plane.  Together we pieced together the news of what had just occurred.

Even amongst the brave, widespread fear had settled in the hearts of Americans.  I recall a sign posted with red solo cups on a nearby private school for Muslim children.  This was not a declaration of a “DRUG FREE SCHOOL”  or a push for their local “PTA”.   Their sign read, “WE LOVE THE USA”.  This was their white flag declaring we are not them – the extremists, the terrorists

We survived the attacks of September 11th as a nation.  The by-product was a sense of unity during this season, a unity our nation desperately needed at the time.  The enemy lost again.

On this September 11th, we remember the fallen, the brave, the thousands of lives lost 16 years ago and the families that lost them.  Today we begin our own restoration in light of the natural attack we just endured.  In the absence of a personified target to blame – our focus is still on rebuilding and restoration…and formulating a new foundation.


As Floridians we took heed of the destruction this type of danger brought to Houston just weeks prior with Hurricane Harvey.  Although we had been down this road before with Wilma and Andrew and those in between, the dodging that we had been blessed with in recent seasons, did not seem promising this time.  We evacuated out-of-state, to shelters or bunkered down in homes shielded by shutters and hurricane proof glass to ride out the prolonged symphony of rains and the taunting pervasive winds.  Alarms pierced through our homes in the wee hours to prepare us to brace for the strikes.  We prepared for the worst and prayed desperately for the best.

The storm has passed.  Miraculously we made it through, given its true potential.  Our hurricane season is not over though ––it has actually given birth to yet another season of opportunity for bridge building.  Beneath the distractions our world may bring, lays the spirit of humanity.  The spirit that compels us to not just see, but in times like these, earnestly seek those in need and find a way to meet it.  During these times strangers become neighbors, neighbors become friends and friends become family.

Let’s make the most out of this opportunity to give back.  Enroll with your local Red Cross, connect with a food bank or homeless shelter.  Join forces with your local church or synagogue that are collaborating to provide relief to ourselves stateside and to the surrounding islands ravaged by this storm.  Feed a firehouse, police station, bless a utility worker, meet your neighbors :).

I would love to hear your stories of community and connection in the days and weeks to come.  In a time when we sensationalize divide, let’s override the system with stories of humanitarian pride.

Praying safety for you all!

Joycy

 

What is the difference between Guilt & Conviction?

What do you think is the difference between guilt and conviction?  Are they one and the same?  Please share your thoughts and I will share mine by the end of the week!

Do you believe in “Modern Day” miracles?

We have read of miraculous things happening during “biblical times”, but do you think true miracles happen in our day and age?  A miracle by definition is defined as,

A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.” Oxford Dictionary

It has also been described as:

“A highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.Oxford Dictionary

Have you ever experienced a true miracle? Do you believe in miracles?  I welcome your thoughts and would love to hear your stories on any miracles you have witnessed or experienced.   Please share your comments below!

Update – Do you think crying is a sign of strength or weakness?

Thank you all for joining the conversation on facebook and twitter! We learn from each other :)).  

I am going to respond to this week’s question with two simple words: Jesus wept.

Jesus was anything but weak.  Jesus was fully man and fully God. (If you need further explanation on this – you can ask Him when you get to heaven 🙂 ).  I know many of us have heard this verse before.  Today I want to examine the context of this verse to understand the necessity and purpose of our tears.

The Death of Lazarus

11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”….

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11, NIV)

Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead four days before he arrived to wake him from the dead.  There is always purpose and layers of purpose in His actions and movements in our lives.  This story is no exception.  Here Jesus needed those who were watching and following to understand with certainty the fact of Lazarus’ death.  15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”  One layer here is to demonstrate the power of Christ through the Father.  Interesting enough, Jesus did not doubt the power within Him to raise Lazarus from the dead.  Yet, as we read further along in the passage, we see Him modeling His humanity as well – the second layer.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Jesus wept.  He felt sadness and allowed Himself to express it.  That was not weakness.  Those in observance attributed it to the depth of His love.   Jesus allowed Himself to weep and to feel the sadness, BUT He did not stay there.  He continued to move, as He was called, to fulfill the Father’s will.  But nowhere in here was this seen as a sign of weakness — it was a natural emotion considering the death of His beloved friend (even knowing He was going to bring him back to life).  Some commentaries say that He was grieving the lack of faith from those who followed.  I think that we become scared of allowing ourselves to feel sadness or pain because we are worried that we will become stuck there.   The reality is if we do not deal with our pain, it will ultimately hold us back.  Nothing irritates me more than the “encouragement” that comes in the form of this statement, “Be strong” when it reinforces not showing emotion.  If strength is seen as an avoidance of feeling, then I do not want any part of that.  True strength comes from facing our heartaches and trials head on and dealing with what comes…like Jesus did in the days and weeks leading to the cross.  He cried out to God while there, demonstrating that He felt the pain, He felt the burden of our sin,  He felt the absence of the Father under the weight of our sin, AND He kept on moving and endured the cross for us and for God’s glory.

This is a longer post, but I could have easily added more, because I feel that this is a part of becoming unplugged.  By truly modeling our emotions, actions and direction after the One who modeled perfection.  We have become so lost in the ideals of our culture that we have forgotten the origins of how and why we were created.  Continue to seek after your purpose in this life and I believe that you will find true freedom.  I will leave you with this quote that I captured from a fellow therapist, “We need to feel, in order to deal, so that we can heal.”  Be strong my friends and start feeling.

Highlighted Hero – Helen Keller

Question of the week – Who is your Hero and why?

Thank you for sharing your heroes with me on Facebook, Twitter and here on this site.  A hero by my definition is anyone who does the extraordinary for another or the greater good – we all have the capacity to be heroes in someone else’s life.  As promised I did select one extraordinary hero from your submissions – Helen Keller.  Thank you @irrationalliving for your comment:

“Definitely Helen Keller. The reason is because, before she existed, what she did would have been considered impossible. And then she was born blind and deaf, into a family that didn’t know how to help her…and she became a famous inspirational author and speaker. I think anyone who does the impossible progresses the human race because the only limits we have are the ones we impose on ourselves. Now no one can say what she did is impossible for someone else to do, because she has already done it. She is absolutely my hero.”

Helen Keller2

When I think about Helen Keller and what she was able to accomplish it seems impossible.  She is exceptional and known worldwide because of her ability to push far beyond the “apparent boundaries” set before her.  This information is commonly known.  What stood out to me was the possibility as to why she was able: it was her disability that gave her the ability to supersede all expectations for her life.  Think about it — what often stops us from achieving our dreams?  We conceive a thought, it sounds wonderful, it looks amazing but often once we start moving in that direction we are faced with opposition.  Opposition that we must push through in order to make our dreams come to life.  I propose that what Helen was lacking was the very thing that kept her focused.  She didn’t have access to the wealth of opposition!  She couldn’t hear the voice of distraction, she couldn’t hear people tell her no.  She couldn’t reflect upon the looks of disappointment, disdain or discouragement.  She didn’t know people didn’t believe in her.  What she did have was her innate desire, her passion, her drive and her determination…and ultimately her success.  What are you going to push away to achieve greatness?  Stay focused and you will give your autobiographers something to write about!