nancy williams

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Archive for June, 2009

One Nation – Under God

In a few days, we’ll join people across the country to celebrate that momentous day, when a group of leaders gathered to sign a document that would change the course of history, in our land and around the world. The Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted the Declaration of Independence, unanimously declared by the 13 United States of America, on July 4, 1776. The first celebrations began shortly after the signing in colonies along the Eastern Seaboard, with parades, fireworks, the firing of cannons, military reviews and festive meals shared by families and friends. As signed copies of the document reached various towns throughout the colonies, eager citizens gathered on the courthouse steps and town squares to hear it read aloud. This public announcement of the birth of a nation began with a statement of observation:

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

It continued with a list of the colonies’ concerns and the failed attempts to resolve them with the British monarchy; and it closed with this declaration:

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. ¯ And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. Citizens have gathered each July Fourth since then to celebrate the steps to freedom; and in just a few days we’ll have opportunity to do just that. We’ll begin with morning parades and proclamations, continue with celebratory meals and end the festivities as the sky fills with breathtaking fireworks displays accompanied by the sounds of freedom resonating throughout the land. As we enjoy time with family and friends, let’s also pause to reflect on the principles our country’s founders set in place for us, principles that can be a guiding force for our nation and our personal lives as we face the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

– We must know what beliefs we hold dear – the principles we want to base our life upon – and why they are of value to us.

– It’s important to stand strong for those beliefs – to speak out, not just about what we are against, but also for what we favor.

– We need a solid foundation to uphold us when the challenging winds of adversity blow – a source of strength to guide and sustain us.

– It is important for us to cherish our freedoms and not take them for granted.

–We can learn to respect differences, while seeking out the common threads that can draw us together.

As we celebrate in traditional style this special day in the life of our country, let’s also pause to humble ourselves before God, seek His face and ask for His guidance, protection and provision. May “that star-spangled banner yet wave” and may freedom ring, in our nation and in our hearts. Happy Fourth of July!

The Night God Had a Crisis

“Oh, no, Mommy! Look! Hurry and look! It’s terrible!”

The startled young mom quickly steered the car over to the side of the road and prepared to stop, convinced something terrible was lurking in the back seat with her anxious four-year-old daughter.

“What is it, honey? What’s wrong?”

“Look, Mommy. Look out the window. God has a crisis!”

Trying to get a handle on exactly what was happening, she wondered, “What’s she talking about? I know she has an active imagination and is full of curiosity, but God with a crisis? Where did she even learn the word ‘crisis’?”

She soon realized she didn’t typically take her daughter out after dark so perhaps she saw something unfamiliar and assumed it was a problem. She had taught her young one about God’s love for them and His creativity so she supposed the bright young mind had somehow linked the two together. Trying to calm her daughter’s anxiety while attempting to understand just what caught her eye in the clear night sky, she turned to the little face wide-eyed with wonder, “Okay, honey, tell me. Just what kind of crisis does God have?”

“Look. There’s a chunk out of the side of the moon!”

Relieved. Amused. Surprised that her four-year-old already needed a lesson on the moon’s phases, the loving Mom assured her daughter that God was not worried. He knew just what was happening and it was all part of His master design for the world.

I’ve thought about this story a lot since that little one’s mother shared it with me. My first thought was pride in the bright mind of that young girl and her genuine concern for God. She loves Him and wants life to be good for Him, just as He’s making it so for her. Then I burst into laughter. God with a crisis on His hands: just think! I like to imagine God with a sense of humor and I think He must often be amused at our observations about His creation. I’d like to think that as He heard her outcry, He smiled, “Ah, that’s my little one. She loves me so. Look how she cares for Me.”

If we’re honest, we find ourselves at times feeling the same anxiety when we see things happening that don’t seem right to us. Illness. Suffering. Injustice. Conflicts. Losses. Waiting. Rejection. Uncertainties. Sometimes life flows just as we want it to with bright sunshine of the day and the full moon lighting the night sky. All is well, we think as we travel along. Then we look up, or around, or maybe within and see that something has happened. The road we’re traveling has taken a sharp turn, perhaps to unknown places. There are bumps, potholes, rough patches, and slippery spots. We may even look around and see things missing that were once part of our experience. And we find ourselves muttering, “Oh, no. Something terrible has happened. A crisis!”

We know God is all-knowing. Nothing escapes His view or His power. Just because we define life’s twists and turns as crises, doesn’t mean He does. I believe from the depths of my being that He loves me and has my life firmly set in the palm of His hand. And, yet, I sometimes worry and even cry out in dismay, when all the while God is with me, beckoning me to draw close to Him as He assures me He has everything under control. When He created the moon He also designed its phases and how it would interplay with the rest of His creation. When He created us, He also designed just how He wants our lives to flow and promised to be with us each step of the way. He wants us to love Him and spend time with Him. To care about what’s important to Him and enjoy His creation. And He invites us to trust Him with our concerns.

Next time you look up and see a chunk out of the moon, smile and rest assured that God does not have a crisis at all. And in this life filled with questions and uncertainties, aren’t you glad about that?

Ready or Not – Changes Are Coming

“One thing you definitely can count on in life is that changes will come. Expected or by surprise. Desired or dreaded. Ready or not.” That’s the insight I heard as I spent time recently with a delightful group of ladies who participated in one of Lone Star College’s Adult Education classes. These precious women, all enjoying the “afternoon” of their lives, shared stories about events that altered the course of their lives. I listened with mind and heart as I considered changes taking place in my own life, knowing their wisdom was a gift I would draw on in the days ahead.

While we know change is a part of life, we still find ourselves surprised at times when life takes a turn. All too often, we find ourselves focused on establishing a routine. We find security in the structure we create. Once it’s in place, expectations are set. We assume life will continue on course, just as planned. However, the reality of change is all around us. We see it in our families and communities, in the workplace and in nature, and when we look in the mirror. Change is a continual part of life.

Sometimes anticipated, other times catching us unprepared. Sometimes subtle, other times significant. It may be as simple as a change in our appearance, or as drastic as the death of a spouse. A new relationship, new job, new home or significant birthday. An empty nest, retirement, divorce, aging parents, or illness. A new responsibility or the close of an opportunity. There are beginnings and then there are endings, followed by times of transition that usher in new beginnings. At each place of change, we find ourselves at a turning point with life moving in a different direction.

When we anticipate its arrival, we can begin to prepare. We organize ourselves, our lives and our belongings, and focus attention on bidding farewell to one season of life and preparing to embrace something new. We establish goals and develop a plan to approach the opportunities waiting for us as we move ahead. There are other times, however, when changes come unexpectedly. We are traveling our journey, assuming we know where the next steps will lead when suddenly we find ourselves at a turning point we may or may not have chosen. A life shift. We come face to face with change and realize life will not be quite the same again.

Questions abound and emotions whirl in our minds as we wonder how to move through this transition time and where our life journey will take us next. Will our grief consume us? Our fears overwhelm us? Our self-doubt hold us back? Will our excitement energize us and our confidence spur us on? Where is God in the midst of this transition? Ready or not, change has come and we ask ourselves, “What do I do now,” and “Where do I go from here?”

As my dear sweet ladies shared their stories, we spoke of the losses and gains that come with life changes. The pain. The grief. The questions and uncertainties. The hope. The joy. They spoke about their need for a time to mourn, a time to heal, a time to prepare for new opportunities, and a time to step out and establish a new “normal.” They shared about the value of support from friends and family, and about the power of God’s presence, guidance and provision in their lives.

I left my time with them and reflected on changes happening in my own life. Once again, I was reminded that while we may not know what lies ahead for us when change comes, we do know that God has promised to walk alongside us with His love and grace, His guidance and provision. He said if we trust Him with all our heart and not rely on our own understanding, if we’ll acknowledge Him in all we do, He’d direct our path (see Proverbs 3:5-6 in the Bible). As you encounter your own turning points, I encourage you to draw close to God, trust His promises and then step out with confidence to embrace whatever life holds. And as you do, may you find joy in your journey.