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The scripture that he read was instantly familiar. The last verse in the 4th chapter a personal memory verse in my Bible.



16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and
momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes
not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since
what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live
in is destroyed, we have a building from God,
an eternal house in heaven,
not built by human hands.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:1 NIV


I don’t recall him quoting the scripture reference, but as soon as I heard the words, I flipped open my Bible and read along. In my quest for spiritual maturity, I’ve made a commitment to implant God’s word on my heart. For me, it’s a ‘slow and steady wins the raise’ type of process, almost a turtle crawl.

Raised Catholic, I’d never read the Bible until I took a religious studies course in college. It was then that I learned that the Book of Job (pronounced with a long O) was not the book of job synonymous with employment. I attended my first black Baptist church experience as a college pledge for my sorority. I was unfamiliar with the order of service, the location of the books in the Bible, the gospel music and the outward displays of emotion, but I remember that I enjoyed the experience. In my family, we were raised to believe in God and attended mass on high holy days and sometimes on regular Sundays, but we never read the Bible, and like other parishioners, we didn’t tote a Bible to mass. If we had a Bible, I didn’t know where it was. When I joined a Bible based Baptist church as a young twenty something, I felt that I was learning a new language. Decades later, my spiritual maturity quest is richer, but still very much a work in progress which is why I get excited when I can easily locate a learned scripture without assistance from the Concordance or the biblical version of “Shazam.”

Unlike my mother who now has a “Rain Man” like memorization and recall of biblical scripture, my recall of scripture is slower and more deliberate as though I’m translating in a new language. In those instances where I’m not near my highlighted Bible, I have a Bible app on my phone where you can type in a few words from a verse and the “smart” phone will take you to the scripture in various translations. In functionality, it’s similar to the “Shazam” app that listens to a song and tells you the artist’s name. On the Bible app, you just type in a few key words or phrases and it directs you to scripture that has those words or phrases referenced. When it comes to biblical look ups, one of my personal goals is to be as smart as (or smarter than) my smart phone, so I was pleased that I didn’t have to biblically Shazam the scripture that the President was reading when he spoke words of encouragement at the interfaith service in Newtown, Connecticut. When he finished, I felt that the President’s speech writers had chosen the perfect scriptural verse to bring comfort to the people of Newtown, Connecticut even though I’d heard a vastly different message on that same scripture from our pastor several months prior.

Our pastor in Tennessee, Rev. Dr. Frank Anthony Thomas, Senior Servant at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church had preached a sermon from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 on April 15, 2012. I know this because I mark the date and minister’s name in my Bible whenever I hear a sermon. I call it leaving footprints in my Bible. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 is a scripture of hope, a promise for a brighter day. When Pastor Frank taught from this scripture in April, his message was entitled “Living Inside Out.” He shared that a minister that he described as one of the top twelve preachers in the world was now suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, yet he hadn’t lost hope. His words reminded us that the gospel frees you from what you think about yourself and gives you the strength to free yourself from what others think about you. He shared that God develops our character first and then our gifts. He closed by stressing that we are each charged with communicating and declaring our vision for our lives and living God’s purpose for our lives. For the next few months, Pastor Frank repeatedly referenced how we are to “live inside out and not outside in” reminding us to be more concerned with the development of our character than the labels on our cars and clothing because our earthly dwellings are wasting away, but we should strive to be renewed from the inside out. Noble attributes that are consistent themes in his sermons.

Before the birth of my children, and after I’d joined a Baptist church (pastored by Rev. Dr. Frank A. Thomas) in my quest to play biblical catch-up and master my new language, in addition to weekly Sunday church services and Sunday school, I also attended a weekday Bible study group that met every Wednesday evening between September and May for over two years. Yes, we met every Wednesday evening for two years. The group was put together by the church and based on our zip codes. During this time, a few members fell off, but a core group remained in tact, I was the youngest member in our group which also included the pastor’s wife. The group became very close and remained accountable to one another during our two year study. We shared life experiences (the birth of my first child) and death when a member lost her young daughter in a tragic car accident. The Sunday after the car accident, this member and her husband (both deacons at the church) were in attendance at church. As I waited my turn to hug them, I searched for the “right words” to try and offer comfort. Their daughter had been only two years older than I was at the time. Her eyes were tear stained and puffy, and my eyes teared at the sight of her. “I didn’t expect to see you at church today,” I whispered. “Where else would I be?” she asked sweetly. “You are so incredibly strong!” I stammered, still not quite sure what to say. She smiled at me, with a look that I’m sure confirmed my biblical infancy in her eyes. Squeezing my hands in hers she simply said, “You can’t manufacture strength. You have to store up strength so that when you need it, it’s there. I needed to hear a word from God today.” So simple and yet so profound. I stepped aside to allow someone else their turn to greet and hug her. Typing it now brings tears to my eyes. Here was a woman who had recently lost her daughter, and was at church days later. As a new mother, I couldn’t begin to imagine the pain in her heart as my young daughter was the center of my joy.

Later on my spiritual journey, I would learn and be reminded that our children are not ours. They belong to God and God allows us to serve as their earthly parents, so if their earthly journey ends prematurely, we must believe that they are in a better place, no matter the tragic circumstances surrounding their untimely death. It’s a concept that reads well in theory, but in practice is not so palatable. As an adult, I’ve watched two close family members bury adult children in the prime of their life. And I’ve watched these same family members very slowly rebuild their lives and reemerge from the dark cocoon of grief to laugh and smile again. Their strength was stored as they’d watched their mother grieve and recover after burying her daughter, their sister. As a young adult fiction writer, I decided to introduce death and grief as a theme, so a main character in The Black Diamond Series is killed in Chemistry, Chaos & God’s Grace, and the remaining characters slowly rebuild their lives. A critic suggested that it was inappropriate to bring grief and death into a young adult fiction series. I retorted that, sadly, grief and death are a fact of life, and reading how the characters grieve and recover might give readers strength during their own personal grief processes.

Years ago I purchased a hand painted frame with this phrase scripted on it, “Who takes the child by the hand, takes the mother by the heart.” Like the world, my heart is ripped to shreds over the slaughter in Newtown, Connecticut. The children and teachers murdered in Newtown, Connecticut have lost their chance to live “inside out.” Most six and seven year olds only know how to live inside out. It’s their modus operandi, their confidence self evident as witnessed by their bold clothing choices, and the proud way in which they display their missing teeth like badges of honor. At that age, most still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and on average at least one child each week loses a tooth in class. I remember when my own would return from first grade carefully clutching the little plastic containers containing their precious tooth, anxious to await the Tooth Fairy’s arrival.
There is absolutely nothing that anyone can say, write, text or tweet to heal the vast hole that is in the hearts of the families of Newtown. Absolutely nothing. Even the families whose children weren’t killed will suffer survivor’s guilt and possibly post traumatic stress disorders from the horrors of what they saw and heard. Grief is not a respecter of persons. Even people who don’t have children are grieving as though they knew someone killed in the massacre. I weeped today as I picked up my own children from school, wondering what was going through the minds of the children that were killed as they watched their classmates being gunned down ahead of them. 

Someone shared that you NEVER get over the loss of a child. They say that you just learn to live with the hole in your heart and subsequentpain so that it doesn’t consume you. The loss of those heroic teachers and administrators is equally as sad, but it’s the faces of those innocent babies that will be forever etched in our memories.


16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and
momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes
not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since
what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live
in is destroyed, we have a building from God,
an eternal house in heaven,
not built by human hands.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:1 NIV

We can’t manufacture strength. It must be stored for such a time as this, and it’s never too late to implant God’s word on your heart as we strive to live inside out, strengthen our character and focus on what is unseen which is eternal. The world will continue to cry and mourn with the families and people of Newtown, Connecticut and may God cradle their fragile hearts as he is cradling the new angels that are now in his care.

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Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 

The scripture that he read was instantly familiar. The last verse in the 4th chapter a personal memory verse in my Bible.



16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and
momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes
not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since
what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live
in is destroyed, we have a building from God,
an eternal house in heaven,
not built by human hands.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:1 NIV


I don’t recall him quoting the scripture reference, but as soon as I heard the words, I flipped open my Bible and read along. In my quest for spiritual maturity, I’ve made a commitment to implant God’s word on my heart. For me, it’s a ‘slow and steady wins the raise’ type of process, almost a turtle crawl.

Raised Catholic, I’d never read the Bible until I took a religious studies course in college. It was then that I learned that the Book of Job (pronounced with a long O) was not the book of job synonymous with employment. I attended my first black Baptist church experience as a college pledge for my sorority. I was unfamiliar with the order of service, the location of the books in the Bible, the gospel music and the outward displays of emotion, but I remember that I enjoyed the experience. In my family, we were raised to believe in God and attended mass on high holy days and sometimes on regular Sundays, but we never read the Bible, and like other parishioners, we didn’t tote a Bible to mass. If we had a Bible, I didn’t know where it was. When I joined a Bible based Baptist church as a young twenty something, I felt that I was learning a new language. Decades later, my spiritual maturity quest is richer, but still very much a work in progress which is why I get excited when I can easily locate a learned scripture without assistance from the Concordance or the biblical version of “Shazam.”

Unlike my mother who now has a “Rain Man” like memorization and recall of biblical scripture, my recall of scripture is slower and more deliberate as though I’m translating in a new language. In those instances where I’m not near my highlighted Bible, I have a Bible app on my phone where you can type in a few words from a verse and the “smart” phone will take you to the scripture in various translations. In functionality, it’s similar to the “Shazam” app that listens to a song and tells you the artist’s name. On the Bible app, you just type in a few key words or phrases and it directs you to scripture that has those words or phrases referenced. When it comes to biblical look ups, one of my personal goals is to be as smart as (or smarter than) my smart phone, so I was pleased that I didn’t have to biblically Shazam the scripture that the President was reading when he spoke words of encouragement at the interfaith service in Newtown, Connecticut. When he finished, I felt that the President’s speech writers had chosen the perfect scriptural verse to bring comfort to the people of Newtown, Connecticut even though I’d heard a vastly different message on that same scripture from our pastor several months prior.

Our pastor in Tennessee, Rev. Dr. Frank Anthony Thomas, Senior Servant at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church had preached a sermon from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 on April 15, 2012. I know this because I mark the date and minister’s name in my Bible whenever I hear a sermon. I call it leaving footprints in my Bible. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 is a scripture of hope, a promise for a brighter day. When Pastor Frank taught from this scripture in April, his message was entitled “Living Inside Out.” He shared that a minister that he described as one of the top twelve preachers in the world was now suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, yet he hadn’t lost hope. His words reminded us that the gospel frees you from what you think about yourself and gives you the strength to free yourself from what others think about you. He shared that God develops our character first and then our gifts. He closed by stressing that we are each charged with communicating and declaring our vision for our lives and living God’s purpose for our lives. For the next few months, Pastor Frank repeatedly referenced how we are to “live inside out and not outside in” reminding us to be more concerned with the development of our character than the labels on our cars and clothing because our earthly dwellings are wasting away, but we should strive to be renewed from the inside out. Noble attributes that are consistent themes in his sermons.

Before the birth of my children, and after I’d joined a Baptist church (pastored by Rev. Dr. Frank A. Thomas) in my quest to play biblical catch-up and master my new language, in addition to weekly Sunday church services and Sunday school, I also attended a weekday Bible study group that met every Wednesday evening between September and May for over two years. Yes, we met every Wednesday evening for two years. The group was put together by the church and based on our zip codes. During this time, a few members fell off, but a core group remained in tact, I was the youngest member in our group which also included the pastor’s wife. The group became very close and remained accountable to one another during our two year study. We shared life experiences (the birth of my first child) and death when a member lost her young daughter in a tragic car accident. The Sunday after the car accident, this member and her husband (both deacons at the church) were in attendance at church. As I waited my turn to hug them, I searched for the “right words” to try and offer comfort. Their daughter had been only two years older than I was at the time. Her eyes were tear stained and puffy, and my eyes teared at the sight of her. “I didn’t expect to see you at church today,” I whispered. “Where else would I be?” she asked sweetly. “You are so incredibly strong!” I stammered, still not quite sure what to say. She smiled at me, with a look that I’m sure confirmed my biblical infancy in her eyes. Squeezing my hands in hers she simply said, “You can’t manufacture strength. You have to store up strength so that when you need it, it’s there. I needed to hear a word from God today.” So simple and yet so profound. I stepped aside to allow someone else their turn to greet and hug her. Typing it now brings tears to my eyes. Here was a woman who had recently lost her daughter, and was at church days later. As a new mother, I couldn’t begin to imagine the pain in her heart as my young daughter was the center of my joy.

Later on my spiritual journey, I would learn and be reminded that our children are not ours. They belong to God and God allows us to serve as their earthly parents, so if their earthly journey ends prematurely, we must believe that they are in a better place, no matter the tragic circumstances surrounding their untimely death. It’s a concept that reads well in theory, but in practice is not so palatable. As an adult, I’ve watched two close family members bury adult children in the prime of their life. And I’ve watched these same family members very slowly rebuild their lives and reemerge from the dark cocoon of grief to laugh and smile again. Their strength was stored as they’d watched their mother grieve and recover after burying her daughter, their sister. As a young adult fiction writer, I decided to introduce death and grief as a theme, so a main character in The Black Diamond Series is killed in Chemistry, Chaos & God’s Grace, and the remaining characters slowly rebuild their lives. A critic suggested that it was inappropriate to bring grief and death into a young adult fiction series. I retorted that, sadly, grief and death are a fact of life, and reading how the characters grieve and recover might give readers strength during their own personal grief processes.

Years ago I purchased a hand painted frame with this phrase scripted on it, “Who takes the child by the hand, takes the mother by the heart.” Like the world, my heart is ripped to shreds over the slaughter in Newtown, Connecticut. The children and teachers murdered in Newtown, Connecticut have lost their chance to live “inside out.” Most six and seven year olds only know how to live inside out. It’s their modus operandi, their confidence self evident as witnessed by their bold clothing choices, and the proud way in which they display their missing teeth like badges of honor. At that age, most still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and on average at least one child each week loses a tooth in class. I remember when my own would return from first grade carefully clutching the little plastic containers containing their precious tooth, anxious to await the Tooth Fairy’s arrival.
There is absolutely nothing that anyone can say, write, text or tweet to heal the vast hole that is in the hearts of the families of Newtown. Absolutely nothing. Even the families whose children weren’t killed will suffer survivor’s guilt and possibly post traumatic stress disorders from the horrors of what they saw and heard. Grief is not a respecter of persons. Even people who don’t have children are grieving as though they knew someone killed in the massacre. I weeped today as I picked up my own children from school, wondering what was going through the minds of the children that were killed as they watched their classmates being gunned down ahead of them. 

Someone shared that you NEVER get over the loss of a child. They say that you just learn to live with the hole in your heart and subsequentpain so that it doesn’t consume you. The loss of those heroic teachers and administrators is equally as sad, but it’s the faces of those innocent babies that will be forever etched in our memories.


16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and
momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes
not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since
what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live
in is destroyed, we have a building from God,
an eternal house in heaven,
not built by human hands.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:1 NIV

We can’t manufacture strength. It must be stored for such a time as this, and it’s never too late to implant God’s word on your heart as we strive to live inside out, strengthen our character and focus on what is unseen which is eternal. The world will continue to cry and mourn with the families and people of Newtown, Connecticut and may God cradle their fragile hearts as he is cradling the new angels that are now in his care.