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Posts Tagged ‘#memorials’

It’s a thing … a rather big thing,

if you look at social media posts on the first week of school.

Kids, all clean and smiling (real of forced), often standing in front of the door to their house, sometimes holding a sign recording the grade they are about to begin. Sometimes even parents … if they work in schools, because, let’s face it, if we work in schools there is a part of us that hasn’t moved beyond the glory days of school.

I have those pics, in photo albums and on memory sticks. I remember trying to acquire them … often with much insistence, schedule-juggling, bribery and the potential that we would be late for the first day of school (horror of horrors). As the years meandered on, the first day of school picture morphed into the first week(s) of school picture, for that one shot is a difficult one to remember, to organize.

I love those images and the memories they hold … not the memories of the battle to get them taken, but the memories of each child at the age represented. Heck, let’s get real here, they could have been taken in February of that school year and the cockles of my heart would still be warmed by the flashbacks my momma’s heart would experience glancing at the faces from past years staring back at me.

These pics are reminders of an entrance to a new phase of schooling, of life. They are markers along the schooling journey … they represent growth, change, development. They are also images that represent hard work, accomplishment and, for those of us who follow Christ, they are images that remind we parents that what is done is done in His strength, His faithfulness.

Like the Israelites.

They too had 12 markers, but not photos. These markers with twelve stones, representing the 12 tribes of Joshua. God himself told Joshua to create a memorial with a stone from each tribe. These stones were to be a reminder for all time of the miracle of their crossing the Jordan River.

Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, … and they are there to this day.

Joshua 4: 4-7, 9

As a parent of now adult children, I look back on those first day of school pictures differently than at the time. At the time they were hurried images of my littles. Now I look at them and think of the faithfulness of God, who walked through each year with them, protecting them, loving them, challenging them, teaching them.

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As I opened the bedroom door I was temporarily blinded by the light shining through my office window, illuminating that room and the hallway.

A bit startled by the abrupt visual awakening at such an early morning hour (due to the need of the Wonderdog to go out), I squinted, raised my hand to shield my eyes.

Once the startling awakening subsided, I was able to take joy in this fleeting gift of light beauty to start my day. What a lovely way to start the day … walking into the light.

That dazzling early morning moment stayed with me all day long, bringing a smile to my face as I remembered the joy of my entrance into a new day.

It was startling, unexpected, overwhelming, heart-stopping.

All words that also fit those moments in our life when we are walking with God, our very own sunshine-maker … and we know it. Moments that are gifts to us, that keep us spiritually afloat when the waves of life rise threateningly.

These are the moments that linger … like that gleaming morning light that greeted me one morning.

In Deuteronomy 6:12, Moses tells the Israelites,

“be careful that you do not forget the LORD,
who brought you out of Egypt,
out of the land of slavery.”

This warning is valid, because we humans are quick to forget the blessings, the gifts, the good times and where they come from. When times get tough we are often quick to pull out the woe is me complaint.

In the Bible, memorials (usually with stones) were created so that people would not forget the faithfulness of God in a difficult time or situation. These memorials are also a testimony to others, showing evidence of the presence of God in our lives.

I just took a picture, saved it on my phone, then told my sunshine story here to you … and you.

Be careful that you do not forget …

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;  his mercies never come to an end; they are new  every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

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When we live and breathe and experience life we all experience injuries, bruises and trauma. These leave us with scars … some that leave a mark on our skin, some on our minds or hearts.

Probably the oldest scar I have, which is barely visible, is from when I fell into the corner of a door, gashing my head just beside my eye. My mother is always amazed at how it is almost invisible, for the injury was so deep.

There are other scars that are more recent, more visible. A couple of years ago, while trimming branches on a tree with a reciprocating saw, the hot blade lay, just for seconds, on my arm and it burned into my skin. The freckles are just starting to darken this almost two inch area, still very visible.

Then there are the invisible scars. The ones that leave no physical mark, yet they scar, altering other areas of my life … my mind, my habits, my thoughts.

Scars can be like the stones that God told Joshua to have the Israelites bring up out of the Jordan River, after God opened it up so that they could cross through the middle of it. God said to have one man from each of the twelve tribes carry a stone on his shoulders to the place where they would sleep that night (I am hearing Annie Lennox singing “Sweet Dreams are made of this”).

“They will be a sign among you. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these rocks mean?’ Tell them the water stopped flowing in the Jordan when the Ark of the Agreement with the Lord crossed the river. These rocks will always remind the Israelites of this.” Joshua 4:6-7

I love the thought that scars could be reminders of the depths of pain that we have gone through, by the grace of God. Reminders that we did not go through the waters alone, but that God was always with us. Memorials to our faith in God, when that is all we had left.

Scars are the evidence that we survived.

Sure, they remind us of pain, and sadness, and hurt. They take us back to a time of tears, of prayers beginning with “why, God?” But they also remind us that that pain is finished, that, by the strength of God in the midst of our human weakness, we are still here, we survived.

Like those stones from the river Jordan, our scars can provide opportunity for us to tell our children of the faithfulness of God during painful seasons in our lives … the telling gives good for the bad, blessing for the curse, redemption for the pain.

“Waking up to a new sunrise
Looking back from the other side
I can see now with open eyes
Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
‘Cause my brokenness brought me to You
And these wounds are a story You’ll use
So I’m thankful for the scars”

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