In The Light
ISSUE 2 // MAY/JUNE 2012
EMPOWER | ENCOURAGE | ENLIGHTEN |
GLORIA BURGESS Building a lasting legacy
The BENEFITS of BEING SINGLE
Why BAD THINGS Happen to GOOD PEOPLE
A TASTE of SPRINGTIME GIFT Ideas for MOTHER’S and FATHER’S DAY The perfect gifts
In The Light May/June | Issue No. 2 EDITORIAL Editor In Chief
Ashley Ormon | a-ormon@proverbsnwisdom. com Executive Editor
Stephen Porter | firstname.lastname@example.org Editoral Director
Susan Dusterhoft | email@example.com Editoral Assistant
Danielle Wright | firstname.lastname@example.org
Proverbs & Wisdom
Sarah Hamze, Rita Schulte, Ebonie Jones
Rachel Allison Hoffman Cover Photo: Courtesy of Kevin Ray Smith
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND FEEDBACK
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EDITORIAL Embracing You. It’s good to strip daily: to remove the titles we’ve been given, to ignore the clothes we wear, and disregard the money we have (or wish we had) in order to look at ourselves nakedly. Before Adam and Eve gave into sin, they were naked – unashamed and clothed in God’s glory. They embraced who they were, as they were, for who God created them to be. If you’re familiar with the story, you know how the next chapter reads. Adam and Eve succumb to sin and when they gain consciousness of the world in which they abide, they have an identity crisis. The two are embarrased by their nakedness. They are afraid to confront God. Adam and Eve, who were once confident, are now ashamed to embrace themselves. However, the story does not end there. While the two certainly needed an identity restoration, they had children. Generations after them, Jesus Christ was born. We can praise God that through Jesus Christ we can have our identities restored. We are now able to be clothed in the glory God created for us. Smiliar to Adam and Eve, it’s all too easy for us to compromise who we are by giving into the world’s temptations. You will often be questioned by others which may cause you to ask “Who am I?” instead of declaring “Who I am.” In moments we’ve fallen into the enemy’s trap of “identity theft” we must not turn to relationships to regain value or anything else for that matter. We must return to our manufacturer – God. I challenge you to strip yourself (not literally please). Extricate yourself from everything others have placed on you. Learn to embrace who you are, as you are, for who God predestined you to be.
Ashley Ormon | Editor In Chief
Editorial <<< 01
You speak. We listen
Loving through difficulties
Rejoice! Your daily dose of encouragement
Letters: The Readerâ€™s Voice
The Benefits of Being Single
Rescuing the Pershing
Who saves the dying, beaten, and bruised?
Music and Books Reading, recommends, and songs to deepen your praise and worship
02 >>> Contents
Laying Down A Legacy Creating a powerful, lasting legacy that withstand time by learning God’s plan, vision, and calling for our lives
Why Bad Things Happen to Good People One man’s story of why bad things are a blessing, meaningful, and a gift from God.
32 A Taste of Springtime Interviewing photographer Rachel Hoffman as she shares her photographs with us.
What to Buy? Choosing a Mother’s and Father’s Day gift for mom and dad
Contents <<< 03
The Reader’s Voice. YOU SPEAK. WE LISTEN.
FROM THE WEBSITE AND BLOG I know exactly what you are saying! I recently realized this in my own life. What do I want to do with the rest of my life that will bring me joy each day? Write about Jesus. Spread God’s joy and glory. Share what I’ve learned and been through over the years with others so that they might see, believe, and receive. Comfort, encouragement, practical help. All these things I want to give out as easy and often as breathing. Thanks for sharing this story. —Lynette on Spiritual Wellness in Life – Perseverance All of us as Christians were once dirty before the Lord, but in Christ all our dirt was cleansed. I was reminded of this truth while reading this blog. —Jessie on Planks and Specks Yes. How much better a man is than a sheep and the fowls of the air. Our worth is determined in the Lord; He said we have finer things than Solomon in the kingdom of heaven, and like a diamond ever glistening. This is what we are to see us as! We are made to have fellowship with the Lord, to think like He thinks, to speak like He speaks, to rejoice in what He rejoices in, and to know the treasures of heaven here on earth in our hearts. The Lord took David from the sheepfolds to guide and teach his people and Jesus is our Shepherd to guide and teach us. He knows each sheep by name, which is very special to me. —Mary Lou on To God, You’re a Jewel with Potential
Have a comment on this issue? Email us: email@example.com
04 >>> The Reader’s Voice
TWEET US: @PROVERBSNWISDOM @Lajitpoet: @proverbsNwisdom sent me a simple message telling me that God made us conquerors. @RStephens1962: @proverbsNwisdom Thank you so much for your daily posts. They lift me up and closer to our loving and forgiving God. @heartof_HOG: OMGGGGG i love this website @ proverbsNwisdom its fab for Christ lol beautiful job everyone visit ON OUR 1 ANNIVERSARY AND MAGAZINE ISSUE’S FIRST RELEASE:
FACEBOOK.COM/INTHELIGHTMAGAZINE I’m very excited to see this great new magazine! May God use it to encourage others and bring many closer to Him. And may you be blessed for allowing Him to use you as the wonderful beacon of light that you are! —Joe D. Your magazine is beautiful, the articles are outstanding, so is the layout, images, etc. When I look into the future, I see more and more of your work influencing more and more people on a national level and throughout the world! —Chuck B.
@spreadingJOY: Happy 1 year anniversary @proverbsnwisdom - your heart for the LORD Ahhhmazes me! I LOVE your magazine http://proverbsnwisdom.com/readmag/ #Tworship
What an AWESOME magazine! I was blessed reading all the articles....I can’t get enough. I’m looking forward to your next issue! God is doing amazing things with you... this makes me so happy! —Jacqui R.
@E_margaretha: Happy b’day @proverbsNwisdom, thanks for sharing n encourage each of us! Love you, God bless abudantly
IN THE LIGHT magazine welcomes feedback from its readers. Please post a comment or tweet us! proverbsandwisdom.com <<< 05
The Benefits of Truly Being Single
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I am a firm believer that at some point, every woman should take the time to be truly single. Just hang out and engage in a little “me” time. While it is nice to have company, rally up the girls and have fun as a group, it is also important to be comfortable…by ourselves. Take time to get in touch with our inner being, meditate on God’s words, and absorb what He is saying. “But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better proverbsandwisdom.com<<< 07
to marry than to burn with passion” 1 Corinthains 7:8-9. So how do we, as women, foster a relationship with ourselves? Why not experience going to the movies, eating dinner at a restaurant or taking a trip just by yourself? Notice I didn’t say “alone”, I said, “by yourself.” Alone implies that even if you wanted to enjoy the company of others, you couldn’t. Alone implies that you have no network, no support group to call your own, and basically no friends. Doing something by yourself means that you have chosen to be in your own company. Don’t be scared. Just do it. Even if this feelsa bit daunting, try it anyway. I was speaking to someone the other day and this individual explained that she experienced anxiety when she pulls into her driveway. She often sits in the car for hours because the thought of going inside her home is scary. She then explained that, at the age of 43, this was her first time living alone. She grew up in a large family, always had people around, and did not know how to be on her own. Physically being in herapartment by herself was an overwhelming experience for her. Though an extreme case, this is an example of someone who didn’t know how to be single. Because of this, she always needed to be in a relationship, and she always needed to have people around. Being single is the time to spread your wings and truly fly solo. It is also the time to develop a solid relationship with God. Pursue our God ordained purpose, and learn how to abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Once you’vebuilt a solid foundation based on God’s love and grace, you will soon realize that being single fosters the following: Flying solo fosters resilience. We often live our lives jumping from one relationship to the next without really taking the time to get to know who we are. Hence, we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Taking the time to be truly single allows us to set higher standards and avoid settling; it allows us to build confidence and foster high self-esteem. When we enjoy our own company, we are not devastated because the relationship the relationship didn’t work out. We bounce back much faster. Take the time to become a complete person before venturing into relationship territory. This makes it much easier to remain whole when things fall apart. Take time to make a mature assessment of what 08 >>> IN THE LIGHT_May/June 12
“Take time to becom before venturing out territ
me a complete person into the relationship tory.”
happened, instead of morphing into a serial dater. Being single is a learning and preparatory experience that should be embraced. Flying solo helps us to execute our life’s journey. I’m not saying to become consumed with solitude. We need the support and physical presence of friends and loved ones. What I am saying, is that it’s okay to do whatever you wish solo. If you’re unable to find someone with the same vision, consult God and allow Him to lead you into His direction. Waiting around for others to jump onboard, might leave us feeling unaccomplished. This might result in a life filled with regret because we failed to execute. When we’re on God’s agenda, we move in faith. We don’t need a following to take action. Flying solo aids in better decision making. Why do we always second guess ourselves? We second guess ourselves because there are too many voices in our head, too many people offering advice. This confuses the thought process. When we take time to clear the mind and consult God, we become confident in our decisions and choices. Our goal should be to truly own and take full responsibility of our thoughts, words, and actions. See them as extensions of ourselves rather than elements of someone else’s perspectives. Flying solo prevents us from being people pleasers.There are some people who cannot say no. They fill their agenda with tasks; they agree to everything; and they allow others to disregard their personal boundaries. God is a God of order and He loves boundaries. Being truly single helps us to set limits on ourselves and on others. Not only will this make others respect us a bit more, it also gives us control over our person, our time, our physical, emotional and mental space, and we will be less stressed. Be truly single before fostering an intimate relationship with anyone. Concentrate on executing God’s agenda before thinking about being a couple. God has a special plan for each of us. Stop searching. Stop fussing. Enjoy the gift of being single. Ebonie-Marché Jones believes faith and worry cannot co-exist. Her passion is to motivate each woman to cultivate a forgiving heart and a mind equipped to conquer and survive any challenge. Web: www.jonesmooreconsulting.com Twitter: @the_new_woman proverbsandwisdom.com<<< 09
I Marry a whore. Keep her as your wife. She will betray you continuously, but you must love her and never
leave her. You will be rejected continuously. You will be seen as a fool. Your life will be painful. Your reputation challenged. You will need to trust Me. You will need to depend on Me. You will always need to forgive, always show unconditional love, and always remain faithful in spite of your feelings of betrayal. Who would ask such a thing? God did, of the prophet Hosea. Why? He likes using the dramatic to drive home a point. God uses real-life people like you and Ito demonstrate the commonality of our struggle. But the purpose of this story illustrates something profoundly deeper. God is telling us the story of His heart here. By using the sanctity of the marriage bed, and its defilement (something He knew we could understand)He shows us something of His pain regarding the betrayal of the children of Israel. Did you catch the part about Hosea loving his wife and never leaving her? Close your eyes for a moment and freeze-frame that scene. You’ve discovered your spouse has been unfaithful. Not once, but dozens of times. This is a person you thought you knew. This is a person you trusted. The truth has seared your soul like a hot iron. Every part of your being cries for justice. Hurt outweighs reason. What should you do? Now, think about the worst betrayal you have experienced. Close your eyes and recall the pain. Now imagine you have to experience that pain every day for the rest of your life. And you have to do it with love. By now, most of you are probably thinking, “No way! I wouldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. But that’s what God does.You may be thinking, “Ok, but He’s God.” He is supposed to love unconditionally. You’re right. And He does. Over and over He demonstrates His faithfulness to us in spite of our rebellion, just asHe did with Israel. He does it to paint a picture of His heart toward you and I. Don’t get me wrong, He was angry at Israel’s betrayal and continual idolatry. But consider this: here in this story, as always, mercy is remembered in the midst of wrath. Rejection of His children is not an option. God never leaves for a better offer. His love is unfailing and His mercies are new every morning. The story of Hosea provides a powerful window into the heart of God and how Hisheart breaks over our constant infidelity and wandering. While this story is symbolic of God’s relationship to Israel, it is nonetheless applicable to each and every child God has loved and with whom He has desired intimacy. I believe God’s heart is saddened under the weight of our lack of faith and trust in His goodness. I believe He is disappointed that we often choose not to see the love of His heart toward us. And just as He lamented over Jerusalem in Luke 13:34, I think His heart is broken at how quickly we forget him to chase after another. So consider this; God wants to show us that even though we whore after other things, even though we don’t trust Him, even though we rage at Him and blame Him for our plight—just as the children of Israel did—He waits patiently for us, constantly showing us the mercy and compassion of His heart. I can think of no gift better than this. So, the next time you’re tempted to believe no one understands your pain, remember the story of Hosea, and how God demonstrates His faithfulness to us in spite of our wandering hearts. Rita A. Schulte Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional Christian counselor and author of Sifted As Wheat: finding hope and healing through the losses of life. Rita also hosts a weekly podcast show called Heartline. Web: www.siftedaswheat.com.
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Rescuing the Perishing WilSarah Hamzeam Johnsonn
Imagine you are bruised, beaten, and left to die on the side of the road. People walk past you and nobody stops to help, and you are in tremendous pain. Finally, one person walks by and sees your pain and distress; this man decides to help you. This very thing happened, and Jesus described the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. What would have happened to the man if the Samaritan did not stop to help? He could have easily died.I am reminded of a Dr. Seussquote I heard while watching the movie, The Lorax: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” If each of us for12 >>> IN THE LIGHT_May/June 12
gets to do our part and act on God’s call in our lives, things won’t get better in our hurting world. How many times have we ignored the call to help those around us? Sometimes we get busy in our daily life and say, “I am too busy, that’s somebody else’s job to help that person.” We might not find dying people along our daily route, but there are spiritually dead people around us, people in need of a Savior. All around us there are people who have emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical wounds. We need to lead them to the great physician, the Savior who can heal and mend all wounds. In our daily life, there might be people in our
path who are so depressed they want to commit suicide or maybe they are dealing with abuse they suffered as a child. Maybe there is a neighbor who is treating their pain with alcohol or a single mother who can barely feed her children. These people are crying out for our love and help, and we can’t ignore them. But what if we decide that helping others isn’t our job or that we are too busy to help? If we don’t help, who will? God has called each and every one of us to be His hands and feet here on Earth. “‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me
in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” ~ Matthew 35-36, 40 NIV Remember how it was described to be like the dying man on the road. You were probably thinking, “That is not me or that will never be me,” but it was you. You were lying spiritually dead on the road until a loving Savior picked you up, forgave you of all your sins, and gave you a new life with Him. Each of us has been given
a second chance, and we should be so grateful for our new life that we should want to glorify God by being His hands and feet. God commands us to love those around us in John 15:12, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Dr. Seuss’ quote reminds me that if we don’t care and help those around us, nothing will get better. Pray for God to open your eyes to the hurting people around you. God has a plan and purpose for each of our lives, and He has plans for us to further His kingdom, we just have to listen, watch, and pray for His guidance. We could easily become like the two men who missed out on help-
ing the dying man. Wipe your eyes and dust off your glasses, God has plans for you to rescue the perishing and the hurting around you. Sarah Hamze is a full-time student in the great state of South Dakota. She enjoys writing and spending time with loved ones. She is obsessed with Christian music and eating anything chocolate. You can find Sarah on Twitter @SJHamze or http://sarahhamze.com
proverbsandwisdom.com <<< 13
It’s at the Cross!
FAITH 14 >>> IN THE LIGHT_May/June 12
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.
The God of All Comfort And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
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Music for the Soul...
Websites for Christian Music & Lessons!
www.klove.com - Contemporary Christian www.christianrock.net - Christian Rock
www.streamingfaith.com - Online Lessons
www.crosswalk.com - Lessons, Bibles & More www.biblegateway.com - Lessons, Bibles
www.live365.com/genres/gospel - Gospel
www.blogtalkradio.com/lsrtalks - Dr. Lorelle Strong Richâ€™s online radio show www.joycemeyer.org/broadcasthome. aspx - Joyce Meyer Ministries online broadcasts
16 >>> IN THE LIGHT_May/June 12
What Moves You? FeedRead, Your Spirit! Reflect, Renew The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Quiet Strength Men’s Bible Study by Tony Dungy
Hermie and Friends: A Bug Collection by Max Lucado (Children’s Book) So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore
The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer
Being God’s Man in Leading a Family by Kenny Luck and Todd Wendorff
Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence by Sarah Young proverbsandwisdom.com <<< 17
18 >>> Cover Story
Laying Down A Legacy Ashley Ormon
Kevin Ray Smith
Heaven’s joy resides in Dr. Gloria Burgess’ voice, “God made us vibrant and radiant human beings,” she says. Being an award-winning poet, author, consultant and behavioral scientist are only a few of many hats she wears – all which she believes is adding to her legacy. However, Burgess didn’t always share her story and talent with others. “I didn’t believe I had a story worth telling,” she says. Overtime she learned that everyone, including
her, had a story to share. “[It] lets people know you are real, and it encourages others that there is a way through [bad times].” Her lesson on building a legacy which she writes about in her book Dare to Wear Your Soul on the Outside, again at a young age. She learned through her father’s
proverbsandwisdom.com <<< 19
benefactor, William Faulkner, who displayed an act of kindness by paying for her father’s college tuition. When Burgess’ father spoke about not being able to repay Faulkner, his benefactor’s response was simple: “I don’t expect you to pay me back! The only thing I ask of you is that you pass this kindness on and let it just keep on going.” From there Burgess learned a lasting legacy is one built upon servitude and gratitude. Legacy is all about passing on kindness. HELPING THOSE WHO CAN’T HELP YOU When Burgess and I spoke on today’s society, especially in the Western world, she said we live in a culture that has become self-centered. “We (our culture) has become so focused on glorifying ourselves instead of helping and serving others,” she says.“The problem is we are seeking to obtain more by indulging in a selfabsorbed lifestyle.” And being a benefactor to someone, in some way, is a trait everyone has. “We all have that underlining ability to be of service, to love, to be thankful. We have to be intentional about using those abilities.” Instead, she believes true wealth comes from giving to others and sometimes, to those who can never repay you. “Legacy living is about planting trees under which you may never sit, whose shade you may never enjoy,” she quotes from her book. She explains the fruit of our labor isn’t always for us, but a gift to pass on to generations after us. We must understand that we are to sow seeds and allow God to water them, nourish them, and make them grow. “Plant, keep moving and let the seeds grow in time,” she urged. What is it that causes Burgess to “wear her soul on the outside”? Humbly she told me, “We’re made in God’s image and Christ served with humility. Serving others is why we’re on the planet.” To her, “serving others is a privilege.” Being made in 20 >>> Cover Story
God’s image is a special gift most of us don’t acknowledge or understand. In not embracing the likeness God formed us in, we do ourselves an injustice. ACCEPTING THE DARE “God has a legacy and promise for every one of us. We wear our soul on the outside whether we realize it or not.” She said explaining the meaning behind her book’s title. “The ‘dare’ part is to become conscious of it because we always have an impact on each other. When we do positive, we have an impact and when we do negative, we leave an impression too. We have to be intentional and purposeful of our choices and actions because they are always affecting those around us.” Burgess shares a personal story about a friend with whom she was
“Legacy living is about
trees under which you may never sit, whose shade you may never enjoy.” close to in high school and in college. After they finished college though, they lost touch. When Burgess had a daughter years later, she received a package in the mail. She knew she hadn’t ordered anything, but here was a blue, child-size car for her daughter. “I looked on the outside of the box and I wasn’t too sure where it came from,” she says laughing. “Later on when I opened the box I saw it was a gift from my high school friend. She left a note inside saying she heard I had a daughter and went through other people to find out how to reach me. My friend also told me what a great impact I had on her
in high school and said she knew if it wasn’t for me, she wouldn’t be who she is today.” Burgess said we never know who we’re having an impact on and she “thanks God for it.” It keeps us humble. Building a good legacy, especially a lasting one, requires us to know everything we do and say has significance. “Our legacy is the sum total of the choices we make,” Burgess continues, “…and we start [our] legacy when we realize just how close we are to God. The way in which God designed earth is so perfect. God is the Creator and here on earth we are His ‘little creators’.” When God created Adam and Eve, He instructed them to “be fruitful and multiply.” It’s because the Creator designed life where He only had to create it once. After that, it is up to men and women to continue what He first began. OUR VISION AND CALLING Burgess stressed “God has a master plan” and to “take the steps God has prepared for you.” We often confuse our calling with our every day job. We feel in our hearts this is what I’m meant to do; we get an idea and want to run with it. “We must consult God about His plan for us,” she told me. “Make sure [your idea] is God’s vision and calling for you – [not] your own. We can’t give God our plan. He’ll laugh. We have to discover His plan for us.” It’s difficult not confusing our vocation, vision and calling together. While they are all interrelated, each serves a different and unique purpose within the fabric of our lives. By grasping the concept of each and applying them accordingly, we strengthen and find it easier to accomplish God’s will.
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“Vision and calling go together,” she said before speaking again. “Vision is how you see your life and your future. It shows you how to construct your future. [Whereas] vocation is really about voice,” she paused sounding in deep thought. “[Vocation is] how well you use your life energy, your soul, your creativity, the gifts and talents God have given you.” It varies from your calling which is “how you see your life and your future. It shows you how to construct your future.”
And yet, the wisdom Burgess shared with me next was extremely profound, but plainly said. I asked her how we can differentiate our plans from God’s plans. It can be hard discerning what’s from God and what’s coming from our own thoughts. “If your vision and calling is clear in your head then it probably isn’t what God has planned for you,” she says. “If it’s clear then that removes the entire purpose of you needing to trust God. If you’re vision and calling is a bit mysterious and unknown, you’re probably headed towards the path God has for you.” Because Burgess believes “legacy captures everything life is about,” we can often wonder how our past will affect our future. Don’t worry. She has advice on this too saying, “Don’t dwell in the past.
Don’t make it your residence. You can’t grow there.” She advises us to use the wisdom we’ve acquired from our past experiences to help us excel. “The past can teach us lessons for the future, but it won’t help us out too much to move forward. Obstacles, struggles, and setbacks prepare you for who God wants you to be. We don’t always understanding why we’re going through something, but because it’s intentional by God, when we overcome it, we’ll understand its purpose.” With this knowledge, she says, “Calling is what your life’s purpose is.” LIVING TO INSPIRE But to Burgess, legacy and serving isn’t just a “Jesus thing” or something only Christians embody. She asks, “What are the common principles between the creative process and leadership? They are the Seven Sacred Promises that we make to God.” Seven Sacred Promises which she defines as gratitude, faith, love, vision, integrity, creation action, and legacy. “All of these seven promises can be found in any belief – Buddhism, Islam, Christianity,” she continues, “…because they are really seven sacred truths God has given everyone.” With these truths and the wisdom she has obtained, Gloria Burgess continues to be an inspiration across the globe. From giving keynote addresses to sharing her legacy with others in hope that they will embrace there’s, she’s giving back what was given to her. When as I asked her how she felt knowing she touches so many lives heaven’s joy resounded once more, but this time with a laugh, “People tell me I’m inspiring, but I’m just living my life,” she says. And to her, that’s what legacy is all about.
“We wear our soul on the outside whether we realize it or not. The ‘dare’ is to become conscious of it.”
Visit Gloria Burgess at: www.gloriaburgess.com
proverbsandwisdom.com <<< 21
What To Buy? Mother’s and Father’s Day Gift Ideas
1. Things Remembered Photo Frame $75
5. The Art of Shaving Set $100
6. Kindle Fire by Amazon $199
7. Red Envelop Gadget Charger Coupon Code GIFTSCOM15 $39.95
SpeakSake Audio Scrapbook $39.99
SpaFinder Gift Card Pick Your Price!
4. Purse Holder Various places, Macyâ€™s $14.99
8. GiftTree Leather iPad Case, Free Engraving $44.95
9. iHome IP41B Deluxe Alarm Clock with iPhone/iPod Dock $64.95 proverbsandwisdom.com <<< 23
Why Bad Things Happen to Good People 24 >>> IN THE LIGHT_May/June 12
“People judge me because they don’t know my story,” he told me. Mark, who at the time was a junior in high school, was a young man who had all the heart and love in the world. When I first met Mark I didn’t understand him. He’d say thank you in times when people normally would not express gratitude. He’d ask questions to seek a deeper meaning of something insignificant; he lived a humble life and in the midst of chaos, continued to have hope. Mark was one of those “bigger-than-life” people, resting assured that God would have more in store for him. Born to a mother who neglected him and not having the presence of his father, Mark was sent to a foster home as an infant. In need for personal care, he was adopted by a woman who trained and raised him as the individual I know him today. He always spoke highly of his adopted mother too.“She’s a sweet lady and when nobody cared about me she helped me out,” he’d say. “She’s a good woman. A really, really good woman.” I never met her personally, but I recall speaking to her once, via telephone, and the lovingkindness she embodied exuded from the phone. She was happy to talk to me, very polite, and extremely sweet. However, I remember the night I went out shopping and received a phone call from Mark. Heart-broken and in distress, he told me through tears his mother had passed away minutes before. My heart stopped. All I could think was, “Why God? Why Mark? Why him? Had he not been through enough?” I saw the overbearing sadness he carried as he finished out the school year. Time progressed and while everyone was enjoying their carefree summer, Mark talked about proverbsandwisdom.com <<< 25
I’ve been through a lot and I shouldn’t have to tell people my story in order for them to just take me as I am.
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entering his last year of high school motherless. He’d often ask me, “Why do bad things happen to good people, Ashley?” At the time, I wasn’t too sure why and didn’t have an answer besides “everything will work out.” I was at a loss for words. It was a question many, I included, had sought an answer to. Mark turned to God to find healing. Gradually his spirit became uplifted and because of it, mine did also. I smile thinking of times when his faith in God was so strong, he would minister to me. We could have been talking about a TV show and somehow, someway, he turned it into a spiritual lesson. The characteristic I loved most about Mark though was his nonjudgmental, kind and caring attitude. Despite all I had, he never judged me. He allowed me to be entitled to a bad day with-
out slapping everything in my face about how ungrateful I was, like most people did to me. Instead, he taught me how to appreciate what I took for granted; a lesson few had tried to teach me. Senior year arrived for Mark and all he could talk about was graduating, but not for the sake of graduating and leaving high school as most seniors wanted. Mark had a plan. He couldn’t wait to move on to the next stage in life. He was ready, and for him life after high school meant joining the United States Military. All this time he was here. A great friend, a good person who inspired many and it took him to enlist for me to acknowledge I was losing someone special. I was upset. Not with Mark, I supported all his endeavors, but how could I have let time and life get in the way of valuing someone as unique
as he? And so, Mark graduated high school successfully and as I embarked a new journey to college, he took a flight to the boot camp. The day of his departure he called me saying he appreciated our friendship and thanked me for supporting him. It was just Mark being Mark. Always grateful for what he had, taking nothing for granted, being appreciative for all the hidden details of life. I knew it would be months before I would speak to him again. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I ever would. My prayers for him were longer and I kept asking God for the same thing: to grant him protection, love and happiness. I prayed that same prayer so much I’m surprised God didn’t yell back saying, “I’M NOT DEAF!” Eventually, the following year I did hear from him. He was happy, safe, and
felt loved. God does answer prayer. Mark was more mature, more disciplined as expected and his heart… well, it grew even bigger. Although he is miles and miles away from me, has a rigorous schedule and I have mine, we still talk – just not as often. His main concern isn’t dying, he says, it’s being remembered. Mark’s story is a long one; to record it all would require a biography (which he implores me to write). Yet, it isn’t the overall meaning of his story which is most important. It’s in the hidden details of his life in which he searched for God and thanked him. In various ways, Mark “saved” me. He enabled me from going throughout life without appreciating what I had. I’ve learned life isn’t as hard as I often had made it out to be and to never judge anyone. “I’ve been through a lot,”
Mark said with his voice low. “… and I shouldn’t have to tell people my story in order for them to just take me as I am.” It’s a piece of a conversation I’ll never forget. “Pay attention to the small things,” he urged. “The details count. You know, I try hard, but I thank God for the little things. My mother always taught me never to give up, to work hard… to do right. And even if I go to war, I’m not going to be afraid. Ashley, if you have God on your side you never have to be afraid. You know what…” he loved starting sentences that way, “even if I go to war and die, don’t be sad. My body may be dead, but my spirit will be alive in heaven.” He laughed. “I guess in that way I never really die, huh?” Mark ended that conversation praying for God’s protection on us. He’d say, “Take care, Ash” and hang up with an “I’ll talk to you soon.”
To me, Mark is a living testimony that despite where we come from, what we start with, regardless of our circumstances, God can and will turn our situation around if we are determined to be better. Mark was a person who used what he had and understood with it, he could use it to propel himself forward. And every now and then when I hear the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I smile. Not because of the terrible circumstance, but because I know how beautiful the outcome can be. *Author’s note: Mark’s name has been changed in order to protect his privacy. All other facts in this article are true.
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Rachel Hoffman ITL: What do you love most about photography?
ITL: What three words would you use to describe photography?
ITL: Are there specific kinds of photographs you love taking?
ITL: Why did you choose to share the selected photographs?
Hoffman: I’ve always had a thing for pictures; I used to flip through our family photo album on a regular basis as a kid - I knew every photo by heart. So while there’s so much to love when it comes to photography, I have to say what I love most of all is the captured moments. It’s like saving a little bit of life and history with each shot; something like writing a piece of a story I suppose... and I’m always up for a good story.
Hoffman: Only three? Creative. Inspiring. Fun.
Hoffman: I love photographing people and events. I do a lot of nature photography too, partially because that’s what’s most available to be photographed and also because I’m continually amazed by my Father’s creation and I love capturing it. I also love architectural photography, taking pictures of old houses and buildings and such.
Hoffman: These are some of my favorites so far this spring.
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A Taste of Springtime, photographed by Rachel Hoffman.
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A Taste of Springtime, photographed by Rachel Hoffman.
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