Some things are worth remembering . . .

Some things are worth remembering . . .

Fifteen years.

That’s how much time has passed since the worst terror attack this country has ever known.  Those of us who are old enough to remember that day know exactly where we were and what we were doing when we first found out about the attacks on the World Trade Center towers.

I was working in an insurance office, and the first we were made aware of the attack was when the son of the owner called to say a plane had hit one of the twin towers.  At the time no one knew if it was just an accident or something worse.

Then the second plane hit the other tower, and there was no longer any doubt in our minds.  This was intentional.  This was war.

We didn’t have a television in the office, but quickly turned up the volume on the radio and listened intently to reports as they came in.  Everyone looked at each other in shock—not believing what we were hearing.  It was like a nightmare.  I suddenly understood the trepidation in my parents’ voices when they recalled where they were the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Soon was the news that the Pentagon had also been hit by a plane and was on fire.  I think that’s when it became very real for me.  This was a planned attack on our country by people who were evil.  It wasn’t just a random event—they’d been orchestrating this attack for years, meticulously planning each and every moment of it.

I’m more thankful than I can say for the passengers of the United Airlines flight who chose to fight back that day, rather than allow a fourth plane to hit the White House.  How brave they were.  I think I mourn their losses even more than the others as they chose to die for their country.

I wasn’t going to write anything about 9/11—even though it’s an important anniversary of that tragic day.  Then I thought about the fact that today’s teenagers have no idea what it felt like to live through that day and the days following.  All air flights were cancelled, people were sent home from work, we all went to churches and prayed for the lost and for our country.  There was fear in the land, and our innocence was lost.  We weren’t as safe as we’d thought we were.  In the ensuing months, we feared even to open our mail as anthrax was sent through the postal service to several agencies.  It felt as if our world had changed forever.

And it had.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in fear, but I also think it’s important that we learn from what happened on 9/11 and never forget how precious the freedoms are that we enjoy in this country.  And we need to make certain that our children and our grandchildren are taught the truth about that day.  We WERE attacked by evil.  And it COULD happen again.

Hopefully, we’ve learned this most important thing—take nothing for granted.  It can be lost so quickly.

And remember, as Christians, our true freedom can NEVER be taken away from us.

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  (John 8:31-32)

 

 

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“For such a time as this . . .”

 

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“…and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14b

 

Today was a difficult day. 

It should have been a day of celebration—and I suppose in a way, it was.  But not in the way I envisioned it would be.

Two years ago today I started working part-time as an Administrative Aide at a local church (which is just a fancy way of saying I’m a Church Secretary).  Never in my life have I felt more led by God to accept a job, and I greatly enjoy the work I do each day.  It’s an awesome feeling when you know you’re exactly where the Lord wants you.  I love the job I do, and I feel a great deal of satisfaction knowing the time I spend working each day makes the church family’s life a little easier.  Even though it’s only part-time position, I believe this job is more fulfilling than any other employment I’ve ever had.

When I started working there two years ago—assisting the the pastor of the church–never in my wildest dreams would I have believed that this wonderful young man, who I’ve come to know as a dear friend, would now be gone.  Of course, illness can strike at any time and at any age but when it affects someone in the prime of their life, it’s heartbreaking.  Even though he was a young man with four dear children still at home, a week ago God made the decision to take him home to Heaven—much earlier than any of us who loved and knew him would have liked.

Today we held a Celebration of Life service for him.

It’s been a difficult week for the entire church, and I’ve grieved the loss right along with his wife and children, parents, and the church family.  Even though we know our loss is Heaven’s gain and that Pastor is so much happier where he is—in the arms of his Lord and Savior—it doesn’t mean he won’t be missed.

Unfortunately, I was only able to work with this sweet, gentle man for a year and a half before he became ill.  For the past six months he was in and out of hospitals, physically losing ground each time.  Instead of working at his side, I suddenly found myself working alone, making decisions without him, and feeling the loneliness you only feel in a dark and empty church.

Several members of the congregation have told me they think God sent me to their church because He knew this was going to happen.  I don’t really want to hear that as it makes my job there seem to be a great deal more significant than I feel it is.

But part of me wonders if they’re right.  Did God bring me here, to this spot at this exact time, because He knew I would be needed?

It’s a pretty humbling experience to think He trusts me enough to send me to do His work someplace.  I’m certainly no one special.

I’m well aware though that not everyone would be able to handle the quiet and loneliness.  Not everyone would be able to function without having others to talk with on a day-to-day basis.  Fortunately, I’ve always been a loner and a self-starter, so being alone doesn’t bother me all that much.  I’ve managed to keep busy; there’s always something to do.

And during the past six months when Pastor hasn’t been there, but instead has been in the hospital, God and I have had a lot of in-depth conversations.  I’ve argued with Him, feeling much like David must have in the book of Psalms.  I’ve begged Him, much as Job did in the book of Job.  And I’ve finally accepted His calling me to be in this place, during this time—much as Esther did in the book of Esther.  For such a time as this . . .

It’s never easy to lose a loved one—especially one who (at least in my estimation) had so much work yet to do for the Lord.  But I know—without a shadow of doubt—that God never makes mistakes, and His timing is always perfect.  Why He chose me to be here, in this circumstance, during this particular time, I may never know.  I just have to trust in His wisdom and timing.

I also know that my dear Pastor friend would not want me to end this post without asking you a very important question:  Do you know his friend Jesus as your Lord and Savior?  Have you surrendered your life to Him?

It may sound like such a difficult thing to do—but in reality it is extremely simple.  If you haven’t done so yet, please take a moment to ask Jesus into your heart.  It’s the most important and best decision you’ll ever make.  Surrender your heart and your life to Him, and I guarantee, you’ll never be sorry.

It was certainly the best decision I ever made, and I will continue to follow His leading the rest of my life.  He’s never let me down.

God bless you always,

Ruth Kyser

Finding old friends….

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about the girls who were my best friends when I was growing up.

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Now you have to understand, I’m talking about a completely different world—back in the ‘60’s.  Back then a child of six or seven could walk to school without fear.  A child could play outside in the neighborhood with the other children and not worry about going home until the street lights came on.  Those who didn’t head home right away would hear the sound of their mother hollering their name, echoing across the back yards.  Those were wonderful days for children.

I had several ‘best’ friends growing up.  I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t kept in touch with any of them over the years.  We moved from the old neighborhood when I was thirteen, and even though I wrote sporadic letters to some of them for a while, after a time the letters stopped.  So, I have no idea what happened to all my old friends.  Over the years, they’ve often come into my thoughts as memories of my childhood returned.  Then I recently made the decision to attempt to find some of them.

You would think in today’s world with Facebook and LinkedIn and all the other social networks, it would be fairly easy to track down old friends, and I suppose that’s true with male friends.  But when you’re looking for a female, it gets a little more difficult.  Women marry and, more often than not, take their husband’s name.  They basically become impossible to find.  So I wasn’t having much luck finding any of my old friends.

Then I did a search for my friend Nina.

Nina was a girl I became friends with back in the first grade.  She and her family moved to my neighborhood from another country.  I didn’t know from where at the time (I learned just recently, Nina was born in Canada), but I did remember both her parents were of Scandinavian descent.  Her mother was Norwegian and I have fond memories of going to their house and hearing her mother bustling around in the kitchen (they lived in a very modern split-level home), singing Norwegian folk songs, and baking spicy Christmas cookies.  I have never forgotten the day my friend, Nina, was late for school because she had gone with her parents to a ceremony to become an American citizen.

But life interferes, people move, and Nina and I lost touch.

So I decided to do a search on-line for her.  More than likely because her name was not a common name, I actually found some information about a Nina that sounded like it might just be her.

I came across a website that had been set up to honor a woman in her struggle to return from a stroke which had almost taken her life.  There were photos showing her in a wheelchair and going through physical therapy, and photos showing her finally going home.  I continued to search, hoping I would find out more information about this woman as I was certain this was my Nina and I was determined after finally finding her, I was going to contact her.

And then I found a link to another website, and when I clicked on it, my heart dropped.

Not too long after going home, this Nina had suffered an aneurism and died.  I looked at the date on the memorial site and cried.  She had passed away exactly one month earlier.

I had waited too long.

Tears running down my face, I scrolled through the photos that told the story of Nina’s life; photos of her as the young girl I remembered from my own childhood; photos of her and her two daughters; photos of her and her husband.

It wasn’t fair, I cried out.  I had waited too long to look for her and now she was gone.

There was an email address listed for one of her daughters, and I emailed to explain I had gone to school with a Nina many years ago and described the place and situation under which we had known each other.  My hope was I had the wrong Nina, but my hopes were crushed when her daughter emailed me back and told me—yes, I had the right Nina.

My friend was gone.

I never had the chance to know her as an adult.  We didn’t have an opportunity to compare notes or share our life stories, and I’m sure by what her daughter shared with me, we would have had a great deal in common.  I have to believe we would have laughed over mistakes we’d make and smiled over shared joys in our lives.   I was very thankful to discover Nina was a faithful Christian, and I know someday I will be reunited with her.

However, that knowledge down not erase the sense of loss I have.

Sometimes people come and go in our lives for a reason.  Nina had a sparkling outgoing personality—even as a small child—whereas I was a very shy child.  She came into my life and befriended me and made me laugh at all of life happening around me.   She lived every day of her life with love and excitement and passion, and from what her family has told me, she never backed down from a challenge.

I am so sorry I waited so long to try and contact her, but even in her death she has inspired me to live my life with passion and enthusiasm—not to just go through the motions.

Whenever I get tired of trying, I will remember Nina.  And I will try one more time.