Sunrise, Sunset

On December 4th, I finished our 2017-2018 family photo album. The final page displayed a background of a beautiful picture of a sunrise in my front yard, and a sunset in the back, accompanied by the lyrics from the song “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof,

Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly flow the days,
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as we gaze

Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset!
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears.

The past three weeks have truly been a time laden with both happiness and tears.

Two weeks ago, my oldest son became the first of my four children to marry. My heart is full of great joy and hope for their future as I release my son into adulthood. I thank God for giving us Kristen and putting her into Nick’s life. These two young adults are better together than they are apart. An answer to prayer.

For my 46th birthday last Saturday, my family (minus our newly married son and his bride) watched “Fiddler on the Roof” together at my request. I reminisced about Nick as a three-year-old singing, “If I were a Rich Man” at the top of his lungs into his karaoke machine and dancing around with the best of them. Ever since he was a little boy, we’ve said that Nick would do something with a microphone in his hand. For years I’ve said, “Someday Nick will be a preacher, a singer or a politician!” This time, though, it was me singing along with the wedding scene as the Tevye’s oldest daughter marries under a candle-lit canopy, “Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don’t remember growing older. When did they?”

Sunrise. Sunset. Swiftly fly the years. One season following another. In the twenty years of Nick’s life, we’ve certainly had many seasons. We’ve had seasons of agonizing pain, persevering only by God’s grace through marriage and parenting struggles. And we’ve had seasons of immense joy, celebrating new accomplishments and relationships, granted us also by God’s grace. But this current season we’re in has been such a bizarre mix of pain and joy, that it’s hard to know how to feel at any given moment.

Christmas Eve, the day Nick and Kristen were engaged, was the very day we found out that Kari Coudriet, and three beautiful children who were staying with her family, Sharron, Aaron, and Joy Naik, had passed from time into eternity. Then, two weeks later, the very day Nick and Kristen were married, was the day that Srinivas and Sujatha Naik, their parents from India, shared their hearts with our congregation, and I got to see them for the first time since their children’s deaths.

That morning, I mourned with those who mourn, and that afternoon I rejoiced with those who rejoice. Tears of grief coming, and tears of joy going. Sunrise. Sunset. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Please join me today in praying for the marriages of Nick and Kristen Endraske, and Srinivas and Sujatha Naik. “May your lives be pointed always toward Jesus with hearts full of hope and peace. May your marriages demonstrate how deeply Christ loves His bride, and gave Himself up for her, even while we were His enemies. May God give you long seasons of joy, interspersed with short seasons of hardship, that you would lean on Jesus, savoring the good times, and numbering each day with hearts of wisdom. In the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.”

How can I pray for you and your marriage?

What is Certain?

Recently I’ve been thinking about the saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” I’ve been thinking about how untrue that statement is. There are so many more things that are certain, just as certain as death and even more certain than taxes.

So, today, on the eve of the memorial service for a precious saint, I am pondering what I am sure of. I pray it will bless your soul, as it has blessed mine.

I am certain of God’s eternal existence. (Romans 1:19-20)

I am certain of the truth of God’s Word. (Luke 1:1-4)

I am certain that God formed me in my mother’s womb, and numbered my days before even one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

I am certain that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. (John 20:31)

I am certain that God will never forget me. (Isaiah 49:15-16)

I am certain of God’s unending love. (Romans 5:8)

I am certain of God’s boundless mercy and grace. (Hebrews 4:16)

I am certain of God’s abundant forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)

I am certain of God’s Almighty power. (Revelation 1:8)

I am certain of God’s great and daily faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

I am certain of the coming hope of heaven. (John 14:1-4)

I’d love to hear what you are certain of. Please leave me a comment. Let us encourage one another with the Word of Truth, Hope and Certainty. Let us choose to doubt our doubts, and doggedly believe our beliefs.

Enjoy this beautiful song by Ellie Holcomb “As Sure as the Sun.”

“As Sure As The Sun”

There is good news
There is good truth
That you could never change
No matter what you do

You are loved
More than you know
More than you could hope for
After everything you’ve done

As sure as the sun will rise
And chase away the night
His mercy will not end
His mercy will not end

There is good news
There’s a promise
That no matter where you go
You will never be alone

In the dark
In the doubting
When you can’t feel anything
O His love remains the same

As sure as the sun will rise
And chase away the night
His mercy will not end

Even through the night
Silver stars will shine
Hope of glory’s light
That will wake us once again

As sure as; the sun will rise
And chase away the night
As sure as the sun; will rise
His mercy will not end
His mercy will not end

When Joy and Sorrow Meet

So often the Christian life is a mix of joy and sorrow.

Life and death intermingle. Death for the Christ-follower is the beginning of a new and joyous life with Christ in the heavenly eternity. Our lives here on earth are but a breath in light of eternity.

Yesterday was one of those mixed up days for me. Sunday night, Bill and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. Afterwards I couldn’t seem to fall asleep and was laying in bed scrolling through Facebook.

Around 1am, I received a text and a phone call that three children of an Indian missionary that we love and support were killed in a house fire in Collierville where they were staying for Christmas break, along with the mother, Kari, of the family that was hosting them. Kari is the wife of our youth leader, as well as a friend and fellow homeschooling mom. Kari’s husband and youngest son were also home, but they escaped the fire through a second-story window.

All I could think was, “No, No, No. God, it just doesn’t make any sense. Why would you let this happen? Why, God, why?”

That morning at 7 am, I was scheduled to teach English online to my favorite little Chinese student. Before the class began, with my heart reeling, I saw his excited little face appear on screen. Suddenly, he began to play “Silent Night” in English for me. Tears began to roll down my cheeks as I just soaked in the mix of joy and sorrow. For that brief moment I reflected on the deep joy and sorrow in the mix of Christ’s arrival on earth, cloaked in the form of a human child, destined to die for the sins of man.

I moved through Christmas Eve Day with our family in a state of shock, all the while knowing that my son had a special surprise in store for us later that day. Yesterday afternoon, my oldest son, Nick, proposed to his incredible girlfriend, Kristen, and she accepted. Our hearts rejoiced with the hope of a coming wedding, but the joy was tinged with grief as I sat thinking of the grieving families who were missing their mom, and missing their children. How could I be happy when so many of my brothers and sisters are in the throes of despair?

Maybe you’ve had times like these, too. Times where joy and sorrow meet. Times where God has given and taken away in such close succession. It happens often in our broken world. I remember when my sister’s second son, Matthew, was born, only for her first son to die the very next day. I remember when my grandmother died, December 12, 2006, only to learn 2 weeks later on Christmas Day that I was expecting our youngest son, Daniel.

I guess we all have a choice to make. Will I believe that God is good, loving and sovereign? Will I choose to praise Him for bringing me through 24 years of marriage and blessing my son with a lovely bride? Or will I say that God is mean, uncaring and distant for the deaths of these saints?

Like the towel I stitched for a Christmas gift, I choose to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) This is a choice, a covenant, a faith of hope in the coming future. I will choose to trust Him, and His word. I will speak to my own soul, and to yours, “God is trustworthy and good.”

He sent His only Son, Jesus, into this broken world to save sinners like me. Praise His Holy Name. This Christmas Day and every day to come.