Transforming the “Old World” into a “New World”

 

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     The 1930’s, “old world”, was engulfed with segregation, riots, and wars. People of color were separated and isolated in restricted areas such as schools, buses, barber shops, libraries, and churches. White schools were large and made out of brick.  Black schools were small and made out of wood.  Blacks were only allowed to sit in specified areas on buses and were only able to read in designated areas in the library.  This “old world” was filled with racism, prejudice, and hatred.

The civil rights movement played a huge part in transforming the “old world” into a “new world”.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the head “Drum Major” leading this civil rights movement.  During his life of thirty nine years, Dr. King preached many sermons, lead several freedom marches, and encouraged many people.  During Dr. King’s life of thirty nine years he inspired many people to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

Unfortunately, on April 4, 1968 Dr. King’s earthly life in the “old world” ended through a senseless act; an assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.  This day, April 4th , has always been a monumental day to me.  Not only is it the day Dr. King was assassinated, it is my birthday.  For the past thirty eight years of my life, I have carried much respect for Martin Luther King, Jr.  I respect the courage and strength Dr. King exhibited during these years of segregation my parents and grandparents lived in and experienced.  I will always remember listening to the stories my Mom would tell me about playing high school basketball in segregated schools.  Before my visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Atlanta, Georgia I had no clue how many different people and groups Dr. King peacefully impacted.  I did not realize the extent of the power Dr. King’s sermons and speeches had on thousands of people to transform our “old” segregated world into a peaceful integrated “new” world.  Before my visit to the memorial, I didn’t fully understand or respect the peaceful influence Dr. King contributed to many people.  All fights do not have to be fought with war in order to win.  After viewing the sites and exhibits at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial I carry a more deeper appreciation for Dr. King’s peaceful fight for justice.  Listening to his voice through speeches, looking at the pictures in the gallery, and reading the engravings on the tomb enhanced my appreciation for the sacrifices Dr. King and his family made for the integrated world we live in today, the “new world”.  I am very thankful for all the perseverance and agape love Dr. King and his family exhibited during these hard, segregated years. His love was a true, unconditional love for God as well as a love for freedom for all.

Today, many people around the world carry negative feelings about others different from them in skin color.  Dr. King describes it best in his sermon Levels of Love dated September 16, 1962 when he speaks about the conversation he had with a white man he met in Albany, Georgia.  The white man said, “I used to love the Negro, but I don’t have the kind of love for them as I used to.”  After viewing the memorial sites, reading Dr. King’s sermons, and hearing his voice through videos, I realized we still have a long way to go in this integrated world we live in that I now refer to as the “new world.”  Even though the civil right movement Dr. King lead demolished segregation in schools, buses, and libraries there are still glimpses of hatred among people of different colors, words of slang used in many conversations and actions streaming today which resemble the old segregated world.  Take for example the worship hour on Sunday.  This hour of worship is one of the most segregated hours during the week.  Spiritual transformation  and spiritual practices help us today continue to strive for the best world; a world filled full with peace. Trips to places of peace such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Atlanta, Georgia provide us with visual glimpses of how much damage hatred and evilness can do to people of all colors and religions. Trips to places of peace and remembrance can also provide us with faith, hope and love for the future.  Dr. King’s wife, Coretta’s tomb is a visual reminder of the three gifts that now abide; faith, hope and love.  With agape love being the greatest gift provided to us by God.

As Christians strive to be “Drum Majors” for peace, we must constantly continue to seek justice in this broken world we live in.  Micah 6:8 reminds us to continue serving so we can reserve our seat at the left and right hand of Jesus. As Christians, we need to continue to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly for all;  No matter the color of people’s skin, the size of people’s bank account, or the level of education people earn.  We, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Drum Majors” for  justice, travel roads much like the “Freedom Road.”  Our journey of justice along the freedom road forces us to ask ourselves the question what are we doing for others? We are forced by Micah 6:8 and Mark 12:30,31 to continue to strive for complete transformation of a “new world”.  A “new world” full of love, peace, and equality for all.  We must continue to love the lord God with all our heart, mind, and soul; and love our neighbor as ourselves.  We must even love our enemies.  This is hard.  Loving our enemies is very hard.  This type of unconditional, agape love is hard but very important.  This type of love is important because it is what will bring peace to our suffering world.  Without agape love, we will have a distorted personality and the “old world” of sin, hatred, segregation, and darkness will slowly take back over.  Learning to love unconditionally and help others allows us to continue to grow close to God and allows our spiritual formation to transform into a “new world” full of peace and joy meant for all.

Blessings!

Jacqueline M. Martin
Three Little Birds

 

Looking for additional reading:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Levels of Love,” Sermon Delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church
16 September 1962  Atlanta, GA
http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/primarydocuments/Vol6/16Sept1962LevelsofLove.pdf

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Last Sermon Preached before his assassination at Ebenezer Baptist Church
4 February 1968 Atlanta, GAThe “Drum Major” Instinct
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBiFnDuCJIU

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Easter Blessings

I think Laura Story’s song Blessings says it best , “‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?”

This past week has been a difficult week for my family to say the least. I learned a lot about myself as well as my family during the past seven days. This past week I learned we (JJ, Jack, Julia, and me) seem to be doing “OK” or “fine” on the outside. I learned our insides may not be doing as well as I thought. We still have a long way to go to heal our loss of James. We still have a long way to go in the grieving process. Everyone heals and grieves in different ways.

Our families book and story Three Little Birds: Faith, Hope and Love was released and available online a few weeks ago on March 19. I was so excited to see the book cover on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles online sites. I watched book sales soar and book rankings increase. I had conversations with many friends online through Facebook as well as in person about James and our journey. What I didn’t realize during this book release was the impact and the emotions the release of the book would have on my family.  I didn’t realize how much hurt and sadness we were bottling up inside.

The past few months I have told myself several times we survived. Our lives seemed to be getting back to normal. I would silently give thanks to God for helping us survive the most difficult tragedy imaginable. As I would tell myself we were doing fine I would run through current accomplishments of our family to reinforce my thoughts. I would tell myself, “J.J. continues to work hard and meet goals at work. He continues to volunteer for many organizations in the community. J.J. continues to shine his smile and sense of humor we all love. Jack continues to excel at school. He worked hard on his first middle school mission trip and never complained when asked to do anything. Julia continues to draw and love art. Her grades are fantastic. She loves to help and is always asking questions”. Yes! I would tell myself, we survived. We are doing fine.

Then, the unexpected happened. The book released and all of a sudden, we didn’t seem to be doing so fine. All of the hurt and sadness being held inside began to compound and explode. This hurt and sadness being held inside was seen now on the outside. We had a family “meeting” this past week to talk about what was happening around our house. We were losing our tempers. We were arguing with each other about everything and anything. We were fussing, yelling, and even cussing at each other. The instant the kids came home from school, they headed straight to electronics. I was attached to my computer and drawn to insignificant projects. We were hiding in our electronics: iPad; computer; and Xbox. It is interesting the things we go to to hide what we are carrying inside.

The house was a mess! Dishes sat in the kitchen sink and piles of paper were everywhere. The laundry had a back log and searching for clean socks became a chore. Even our dog Jerrard was sick. He would go lay under my bed and just cry. I had never seen a dog do this before and it really scared me. Things seemed nothing but fine or OK in our house. There was even a time this past week where I thought a demonic spirit was lurking over our home and attacking my family.

I had convinced myself that my family was “healed” and we were no longer in the dreaded grieving process you read about many times in books. Boy, was I wrong. My eyes were opened.

Finally, after many family meetings this past week, phone calls to friends, and pleads for prayer I realize, we need to continue to heal. My family continues to grieve. Some of us silently. Some of us publicly. After a long, difficult week we decided to plan and take a family trip. We are going to go to the Isle of Palms this coming weekend and spend Easter Sunday at the beach. How ironic is it that we are heading to the Charleston area? We are heading to the same area that we felt so much pain and sadness. This is ironic to me. We have not been back to the Isle of Palms since we stayed in Charleston with James at MUSC. It has been almost two and one half years since we have been back to this beach.

Actually, I think Easter weekend is the perfect weekend to revisit the Charleston area. What a great weekend to remember our hope and promise in God. What a great weekend to celebrate our earthly blessings as well as heavenly blessings! Always remember, it is OK to continue to heal and grieve. Just remember to never get stuck. I pray my family doesn’t get stuck with our grief and I pray we will be able to respond to God’s calling with our families story now published.

Let’s remember to keep standing and keep taking those “baby steps” to complete healing and happiness.  Pray for peace.  Pray for healing.  It may take a thousand sleepless nights to know you are near.  We pray for Your (God) mighty hand to ease our suffering.

Blessings to you friends!  Have a joyful Easter.

Jacqueline

Go to http://www.thethreelittlebirds for book release information.


Blessings by Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

Go and Do Likewise

Last Sunday morning I was rushing to get out of the house. As usual, I was in a pinch for time. My alarm clock went off early and I rushed to get in the shower, get dressed, and head out the door to church. JJ and the kids were sound asleep. They had a late night, once again. I needed an early start as I had obligated myself to teach the High School Sunday school class, teach extended session (children’s church), and then drive back to Montreat, North Carolina to pick up the Senior High youth from a weekend retreat. Have I mentioned I needed to be back by five o’clock for youth group? As I look back at the things I agreed to do and help with I realize I must have be crazy. How in the world did I ever think I could do all these things in one day?

As I am waiting at the Ingles Gas Market for my van to fill up with gas I stood quietly next to my van and felt the brisk, air blow across my face. I listened to the rain drops hit the aluminum roof. Last Sunday was a rainy, wet day and the temperature had dropped. My gas tank was on empty and there was no way I could make it to church from Easley to Greenville without stopping to fill up with gas. Plus, the Ingles in Easley has the cheapest gas in the area and I needed to save the five pennies per gallon from my fuel perks. Pennies add up to dollars at some point. Right?

As I stood outside waiting for my nineteen gallon gas tank to top off I began to hear a noise crank from the gas stall to my right. The noise sounded like a stalled motor. I looked around the gas pump and saw a gentlemen, dirty and rugged looking, standing next to his moped. He had a dark hoody on and his head was covered. I couldn’t see his face. He was dressed in warm, dark, dirty, clothes. This gentleman was trying to get his moped to start. He had put gas into his moped but the motor would not spark. For the next two minutes, this man continued to crank up his moped. I still couldn’t see his face but continued to hear the failed ignition of the motor. Over and over, the engine failed to spark. I got a glimpse of a Hardees bag sitting on the foot rest of this man’s moped. This unknown man had stopped first next door at the Hardees fast food restaurant and ordered his breakfast; a biscuit and a juice. His breakfast was sitting inside a brown, Hardees bag, tightly folded, on the moped.

I began to think about helping this man. That is what I do, right? I am a helper. When I see someone in need, my mind immediately starts telling me what to do; Help! “What am I going to do?” I asked myself. “How can you help?” I thought. Then I wondered, “Should you help? You don’t have time to help this man today. You have to teach Sunday school. Look away! Don’t let him see you looking. Act like he isn’t there. You will be late if you don’t leave now”. All these thoughts quickly started to fill my mind.

Then, I saw out of the side of my eye the man started to push his moped away from the gas stall and out into the rain. Rain drops began to hit his Hardees bag with his breakfast. His breakfast was getting cold and the rain was soaking the bag.

I stood still. Again, out of the corner of my eye, I watched this man walk his moped through the Ingles parking lot and head toward the street. I stood still and looked away. I couldn’t help. I didn’t help. I didn’t have time. My Sunday school class was waiting.

I started to grow angry with myself. My tank finally topped off around $56.00 and I saved .95 with the $.05 a gallon Ingles gas perks. Immediately, I thought about the well-known parable in Luke 10:31 about the Good Samaritan. I was the priest. I, a priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he (I) saw the man, he (I) passed by on the other side. Even though this man wasn’t going down from Jerusalem to Jericho or attacked by robbers, he was in need of help and had started to go down the road. His moped wouldn’t start and he was pushing his moped in the rain while his Hardees breakfast was getting wet. Shame on me. Maybe I am not a helper after all? Maybe this story of the Good Samaritan didn’t mean anything to me after all? Maybe I am a fake?

Quickly, I placed the gas pump back on the gas stall and jumped into the van. I drove out of the Ingles parking lot very fast and started to roll my passenger window down. “Sir! Sir!”, I yelled. Finally, I saw the man’s face. He stopped pushing his moped and looked up at me as he stood in the midst of the pouring rain. “Can I help you? We can put it in the back of the van and I can take you home,” I yelled. I pointed to the back of my van. He didn’t respond. Again, I pointed to the back of the van and yelled, “We can put it in the back of the van and I can take you home.” I yelled louder the second time just to make sure he could hear me.

He looked up at me and simply said, “no thank you”. He continued to push his moped in the rain up the street. His breakfast was ruined. He was soaked. I couldn’t help.

Much like the Samaritan from the parable, I took pity on this unknown man, a traveler. But, he wouldn’t accept my help. A simple, “no thank you” was all he said and he continued to travel on his way through the rain, pushing his moped. I had no clue where he was going.

I drove off feeling empty. I couldn’t help. I tried. But, I did feel a bit relieved that I had tried to help and wasn’t needed . At least I had tried, right? Remember, I didn’t want to be late for my Sunday School class commitment.

I pulled up into the church parking lot on time for Sunday School. I walked into the classroom exactly at 9:15 a.m. The lights and heat were on, but the room was empty. I sat in the silence and waited. Twenty minutes later, I was still sitting in the silence. The room was empty. I finally realized, all sixteen of our Sunday School youth were in Montreat. They wouldn’t be coming to Sunday School this morning. The youth were at a weekend retreat. I was picking them up that afternoon.

All the rush, all the fuss, and not a one at Sunday school. Why was I worried about being late when no one was in town to come? They were all on a weekend retreat. I had forgotten. The busyness of my plans made me forget the important details.

At times, all I can think about is helping others. All I can think about is the rush, the fuss, and beating the clock. All I can think about is what I need to do, what I have to do, and what I should do. Shame on me. Shame on me for putting so much emphasis on myself. How many times have I mentioned the word I in this post?

Please help me remember this week the true meaning of the parable of the good Samaritan; Not to remember what I am doing or what time I need to be at certain place. As Jesus says, help me to remember, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

This week please pray for the unknown man, our neighbor, pushing his moped in the rain. Please pray his breakfasts are not cold and wet. Please help me pray this week that our lives do not center around ourselves but center around God.

Blessings to you for a great week. Go and do likewise!
Jacqueline Martin

It is an addition problem; Not a subtraction problem.

Friday!  My favorite day of the week.  I jumped out of bed this morning and rushed to take Jerrard out to potty.  This is normally JJ’s job, morning potty duty for the puppy.  JJ was still lying in the bed trying to catch a couple of extra minutes of rest before his day began.  I guess it was hard for JJ to get up this morning.  He had a late night last night.  He attended a banquet for the Boy Scouts.  His weekend is already planned as well revolving around service.  He gives so much to so many people.  I am thankful for this and to have him as my husband.

It was rainy and very chilly outside this morning and Jerrard just stood in the middle of the yard and refused to potty. For all my dog owner friends, you know how frustrating this is when your dog refuses to go potty in the rain.  I was not going to let Jerrard’s issue of hating the rain ruin my, “Today is Friday” excitement.

Jack, Julia and I jumped in the van.  We were trying to beat the clock again this morning.  Julia needed to run by the grocery store before school began at 8:00 am to pick up snacks to sell in her classroom store.  Only my child would want to sell snacks instead of trinkets and school supplies.  After the kids were dropped off at school, I thought about the things I was going to get accomplished today.  My mind began to fill up with things I needed to do.  My house definitely needed to be cleaned.  Cleaning the house was top on my list.

As soon as I got home from dropping the kids off at school, I attempted to take Jerrard out two more times to potty.  Again, his lack of hating the rain was not going to ruin my Friday morning.  I began to unload the dishwasher and called my Dad to talk.  Oh, how I love my Dad and miss seeing him so much.  He lives seven hours away and we only see each other a few times a year.  Dad had the day off so we chatted on the phone for thirty minutes.  I tried to finish the dishes but I was drawn to my phone again before I was able to finish this chore.    As I held my phone in my hands I realized this morning that life is good.  Life is really good.  My life is full.

I have been trying all week to think about what I was going to “give up” for Lent.  Nothing came to mind.  The most popular and obvious things that came to mind were chocolate, bread, soda, and sugar.  Oh how I would be well served to give up sugar.  A few of my girlfriends and I joked over breakfast last Wednesday morning about giving up sex for Lent.  I am not sure that would go over well.  If that happened, I would probably get assigned puppy potty duty every morning. That is not happening.

I realized this morning that my life is good and I am not sure I want to give anything up.  I realized that idea doesn’t fall in line well with the Christian season of Lent.  After I spent a few minutes on Facebook and read a few friends updates I came across a status that perked my interest.  This status read, “Several years ago a minister friend suggested that instead of giving up things for Lent, that we should instead add. Add a kind word to a stranger, add an extra prayer for a hurting friend, add a call or email to a someone we’ve lost touch with….etc, you get the picture. “  This Facebook post has received 77 likes so far.  It has caught the attention of many viewers.

What a great idea!  Why do we have to give up something for Lent?  Why can’t we just add something?  Don’t get me wrong, I know the theology behind the season of Lent I was just not sure what I could give up this year.  I feel like I have had to give so many things up dear to my heart during the past three years; my time, financial security, and my biggest gift my son James.  He has been the hardest to give up. Living life without him has been the hardest.   I’m not sure I can give up anything else.  So, I won’t be giving anything up for Lent this season.  Instead, I will be adding for Lent.  I will take my friend’s advice through her Facebook post.

As I attempted to finish the dishes this morning I realized for the past five days I have had the wrong kind of thinking.  Just because it is Lent season, I don’t have to give up anything.  I can add for Lent.  This thought is so much easier for me to wrap my head around.  So many positive thoughts began to fill my head once I started to think about adding and not subtracting. Giving up is subtracting something from my life.

I began to think about all my friends in my life.  I began to remember all the kind things people had done for me and my family.  I began to think about all the amazing people in my life.   I thought about the countless hours people give to help and serve others in need.  My life is so full today because of so many people.  I don’t want to give any of that up.  If you knew me 2 ½ years ago you understand completely.  I was in such a dark, sad,  grief place.  I was battling depression and anxiety.  My eyes fill up easily with tears at the memories of the sadness I felt and the loss of my precious gift from God, my baby James.

Quickly, I picked up my phone and began to text.  I started texting people I knew read texts.  I simply texted!  I decided to send out texts telling a few people how thankful I was for having them in my life.  I wanted to let people know on this Friday how much I appreciated them.  I am a lucky girl to have so many amazing people in my life.  I am so fortunate to be surround by such an amazing cloud of witnesses.  My life is full.  It is not perfect, but full.  I decided the act of appreciation was needed.  I will let people know during this season of Lent how much I appreciate them and all they do for me as well as God’s kingdom.

This Lent season, we don’t have to give anything up.  We can just add. Are you tired of giving things up?  Let’s add appreciation, kindness, and caring.  There are so many different, positive things we can add this season of Lent to honor God’s ultimate sacrifice of his son on the cross.  In our world today, we really need an addition of positive things not a subtraction; Everyday not just on a Friday.

Have a great Friday!  Enjoy adding and not subtracting.

Jacqueline M. Martin

 

 

 

The Six Week Journey: Mystical Travel

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  John 15:4 (NIV)

Today is Monday.  The first day of a new, work week for many.  If you work in ministry, it is actually the second day of the work week.  Today, I start off wondering what I am going to do.  For once, I have a true day off.  The University I attend is closed this week for Spring break.  I do not have any classes to attend and I do not have any assignments or essays due.  I do not have any pressing projects at work due today.  The house is silent.  JJ is at work and the kids are at school.  Our dog, Jerrard, is roaming back and forth in the house from the front window to the back window watching the birds fly in our yard from tree top to tree top.  His paws go click, clack, click, clack on our hardwood floors in our house as he walks back and forth from the front window to the back window.  My house is painfully silent today.  Why does the silence of my home and a blank schedule bother me so much? Why can’t I just relax?

What is happening in our world today that we can no longer relax? Why can’t I relax and enjoy a quiet house and a blank schedule?  I should go fix myself a cup of coffee and enjoy this time off.  I should go pick up the book on my night table and finish reading it.  My house is  a mess and the floors could really use a cleaning.  Maybe, as you read this journal post you don’t feel like I am talking to you.  Maybe you would love a day off with nothing to do.  You are the opposite and just need a day off from work and family responsibilities. You would love a day of rest and quietness. Or, maybe you are able to find time to relax and do not worry about what is on your to do list, what needs to be cleaned, or where you need to go.  Maybe you do not struggle with “always needing to be busy”.  If so, I would love to hear from you.  There are several of us out here in the world that struggle with sitting still.  We struggle with quiet time.  Why is it hard nowadays for us to not be busy? There are so many questions, no answers.  Or do we know the answers and just do not want to be honest with ourselves?  This is something to think about.

As I sit here at the computer and think about the questions I asked above; I realize the answers to my questions revolve around God.  My schedule is always full of lots of busy things; Work, school, parenting, wife, family, neighbor, and friend.  The list goes on and on.  What’s missing from my schedule is spiritual emphasis.  A spiritual practice is missing.  This is why the quiet time I face today bothers me so much.  Spirituality can be discovered in the quietness of a clear schedule; Something I don’t take time for anymore.  Enjoying quiet time, watching the birds fly around the yard, and connecting with God is missing from my life. No wonder my spiritual cup fills “empty” at times.  You need to know this is very hard and almost chancy for someone working in Youth ministry to admit.  This is hard for anyone to admit.

I am taking a personal wholeness class once a week at the University I am attending.  This personal wholeness class has challenged me to set a spiritual goal that will renew my spiritual life and emphasis on God. In the quietness of my home, I decided to take time today and begin a spiritual practice I enjoy and hold dear to my heart.  Today, I will begin to blog again.  I will use this silent, down time to reconnect with God and find time to journal online.  For the next six weeks, I will take time to participate in a spiritual practice I love and enjoy; I will be writing and blogging.  It has been a very long time since I shared in a journal and blogged faithfully online; Close to two and a half years.  I hope you follow me weekly through my blog and find spiritual renewal yourself.  My hope is to challenge you as well, to set spiritual goals for yourself during the next six weeks.  Many times our days are filled to the max.  Many days our schedules are packed and we do not leave any places for our own spiritual life.  When we do find ourselves in an empty, quiet house what can we do with our time to increase our spiritual life?  What do we do with this quiet time?

I look forward to walking together alongside with you the next six weeks, growing together, spiritually and learning to enjoy the silence of our lives as well as the busyness and sounds of click, clack, click, click of others.  I look forward to hearing about the spiritual goals you set for yourself.  May you find peace today and strength to begin a new spiritual emphasis within your lives.

Blessings to you!

Jacqueline

(Travel with us the next six weeks by joining the Facebook group: The Six Week Journey: Mystic of God.  This is a closed group and only members will see posts and prayer requests.)

Don’t Get Your “Tinsel in a Tangle”

Don’t Get Your “Tinsel in a Tangle”

Good morning to you all.  Today is another cold, January, Arctic Monday registering a brisk 30 degrees. This morning as I was leaving home to take the kids to school I rolled down the driver’s side window in the van to see as I backed out of the driveway; I didn’t want to run over the shrubbery and take out the mailbox as I was backing out of the driveway.  My driving skills while moving in reverse can be very dangerous.  I am the only driver I know that hits non moving items while driving.  Just take a look at the bumpers on my van and you will understand.  Also, take a look at the sides of my garage.  I bet I have run into the garage at my house a least a hand full of times.

This morning, the kids and I were on our way to drop them off at school. Julia was the first stop. As we headed to Julia’s elementary school the Arctic chill air filled the van.  Jack politely told me in a firm voice, “Mom, you know having the window rolled all the way down does not help keep the car warm when it is freezing outside.”  I quickly responded to Jack and said, “The window is stttuuccck!”  The window would not roll back up.  The window was frozen and stuck rolled all the way down.  Even though the Christmas holiday is over, and all of our decorations are organized and stored away for the 2014 season, I quickly felt my “tinsel getting in a tangle” over this darn window that was stuck and would not roll up.

As the Arctic chill began to hit me in the left shoulder and face quickly this morning as I drove Julia and Jack to school, silent thoughts started to quickly run through my head. ” Wow, why am I still driving this old van?  It is time for ME to get a new car.  How many miles must I drive this van before it falls apart?  I deserve better.  How much is this going to cost to get fixed?  I can’t believe I am now driving the kids to school with my window rolled all the way down.  How embarrassing is this to our family?”  You can imagine all the negative and dark thoughts running in my head as the brisk wind hits my left shoulder and left side of my face as I am driving in 30 degree weather with my driver side window, stuck, rolled all the way down.

Soon after I dropped Julia off at school I heard Jack say, “Mom, I forgot my book bag”.  I thought, “You have got to be kidding me?”  I turned the van around and headed back home so Jack could get his book bag.  This meant an additional five minutes of freezing air blowing in on me from this broken, stuck window.

As Jack and I headed back, for the second time, to take him to school, thoughts silently filled my mind again. The Arctic air continued to blow on my face.  I started laughing out loud. Jack looked at me with a surprised look.  I bet he thought I was beginning to lose my mind at this point.  There was a man walking on the side of the road, all bundled up.  “I bet he is colder than us.”  I told Jack.  “It could be worse, we could be walking.”  Jack gave me a head nod and agreed.

I began to thank God for being alive and able to fill the brisk wind blow on my face.  As we waited in the car pool line at Jack’s school I stuck my arm out of the open window and propped my arm on my head .  “If I hold my hand out the window and prop up my head, I told Jack, people will think we want our window down.”  He just shook his head at me like a typical middle school boy.  Then I saw Jack chuckle and smile.  He jumped out of the van and smiled at me as I said, “See you later alligator, have a great day”.

During the ten minute drive home from Jack’s school I started to pray thoroughly.  I thanked God for reminding me this brisk morning I was alive.  I thanked God for my frozen, stuck window this morning.  This stuck window reminded me that my problems are small compared to many of my friends today.  As I drove home with the Arctic chill blowing on my face I began to pray.  I prayed for a friend having a tumor removed at MUSC.  I prayed for a youth leader with three unspoken prayer requests.  I prayed for my family grieving the loss of their beloved husband, father, and Ga Ga.  I prayed for a youth friends grandpa recovering from a fall.  I prayed for my children.  I prayed for Mary’s grieving parents and grandparents.  I prayed for a family facing a brave surgery this Friday.  I prayed for the homeless families I will meet this week at our church as we host Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN).  As I felt the chill blow on my face this morning, I thanked God for helping me remember a stuck window is a small problem in a gigantic world filled with brokenness, hurt, and pain.

Finally, as I arrived home this morning I walked into my warm home.  I reached in the cabinet to get a cup so I could start my day with a glass of cold water.  I looked up into the cabinet and saw a cup a friend of mine left from the Youth Christmas party.  The cup said, “Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle”.  Yes.  When we find our windows stuck, and Arctic air hitting us on the face, let us not get our tinsel in a tangle.  Thank you God for my many blessings and thank you for allowing me to feel the Arctic chill on my face.

Blessings to you all for a day filled with warmth, love, and prayer!

Jacqueline Martin
Three Little Birds