Category Archives: Inspiration

Moccasin Man

Moccasin

Mowed the lawn in moccasins
to make a point about January
being different in the great
and generous Northwest.

My Daddy, frostbit, from chopping ice
off the walk a few decades
and states east of here, would marvel
at anything so green close to his birthday.

Late in life, we might just miss
the things our children notice,
like an upstart of daffodils closer
to the curb than the wild.

Over at the cemetery
the sun shines equal
when it does come out.
Night rain on the graveyard don’t
bother residents, however temporary
the stones.

The shut down engine and smell of simple labor
whispers what God thought
when He said, “Well that’s enough mountains
for now.”

One long string of soft steps,
makes everything we climb, puny.

Quotes for the New Year

Outstretched Hand
Hand

We do not enter the new year alone. (Image by Janet Beagle)

We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds tomorrow.”

Even when we have no idea what’s going on, there is Someone else who does. The start of a new year always brings the promise of new beginnings, but it also brings the promise of new challenges. This makes the above quote from a recent sermon particularly apropos for this time of year.

While I have been thinking about the uncertainty brought on by the start of a new year, I have also been thinking about the timing of the recent Christmas holiday. Consider the fact that we celebrate the birth of our Savior at the end of one year and the beginning of another. This should be a reminder to us: we do not enter the new year alone. We are accompanied by the greatest gift ever given to mankind. Immanuel. God-with-us.

No matter what tomorrow holds, we never face it alone. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Girl with lightbulb
I am not as smart as God. And that is ok!(Image by Janet Beagle)

“I am not as smart as God.”

Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of this, because the way my brain gets to churning some days I could accidentally conclude that I was single-handedly solving the entire universe of problems. (Anyone else sometimes find themselves in this situation?) There are days I have a lot of questions for God. Why is a big one. So is how. It is a comfort, at the end of the day, to know that even when I cannot reason something through to my own satisfaction, there is Someone else who can. There are some things I will never understand. And that is okay. We have a God who knows all things, and is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.

Whatever the New Year may bring, we can rest in the assurance that we are infinitely cared for. The days of our lives are held – perfectly, protectively – in the very palm of His hand.

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13).

Janet Beagle

Janet Beagle, Ph.D.

Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate admissions for Purdue University and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with her dog, Marly. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org, and follow her @minimustard.

Changes

Courtesy Bing Images

January 6, 2015. A new week. A new month. A new year. The old calendar has been placed in the recycle bin. The new one sits on my desk waiting to be covered in ink and pencil.

Change. Out with the old, in with the new.

One of my favorite songs in the early 1970s was David Bowie’s, “Changes”. Ch-ch-ch-ch-

Courtesy Bing Images

Courtesy Bing Images

changes. The song talked about turning and facing the strange changes we go through. While I’ve certainly been through an abundance of changes in my life, not all were strange. Some were of the everyday normal variety, like transitioning from elementary school to junior high, junior high to high, and finally college.

Some changes I saw coming and prepared for. Others hit without warning and left me scrambling to regain my equilibrium. Some changes were more than welcome. Some were dreaded. I would have been fine if they’d never occurred. Thank you very much.

Merriam Webster online dictionary defines change as to become different, to make (someone or something) different, to become something else. Change alters. It transforms. Replaces. Switches and shifts. Change exchanges one thing for another. It is transition. Modification. People change when they pass from one phase to another. Change also occurs when something passes from the possession of one owner to another.

Courtesy Bing Images

Courtesy Bing Images

One thing about changes…you have to walk away from something before you can walk toward something else. You can’t say whether what you are walking toward will be better or worse than where you’ve been, all you can say is it will be different.

In the movie, “Paint Your Wagon”, a Mormon is spurred on by one of his wives to auction off his other wife to the highest bidder. They could use the extra money, after all. The wife to be sold was all for it. Believing it incredulous his wife could be all right with the idea, the husband said something like, “But you don’t know what you’ll get.” To which she replied, “But I know what I’ve had.”

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

We may not know what we’ll get, but we know the One who does, and we can be confident He is in control. God will never leave or forsake us, no matter what change we end up with.

Amen?

Like me, have you seen God’s hand at work in the middle of your changes after the fact, and said, “Of course!”? Does it make it easier to step toward and walk away, knowing He is in control?

Hanging the Light of the World on a String

XmasLI

The wren wonders at outdoor
Christmas lights,
not much there for nesting,
the wires make poor worms,
the bulbs, sharp white on green leaves,
confuse with slight shadows
and heat.

To a bird’s eye, this
seven dollar string of electric
adornment, is supernatural, and to us,
on this holiday of heaven come to earth,
the Light of the World hanging from eaves
and roof gutters, sparkles in the eyes
of the children His birth makes us all.

Angels and doves top
the indoor trees, visitors
and families, all wise,
bask in glowing hearts, the Gift
of never ending love swaddle wrapped,
waiting,
like Santa’s cookies on a plate, to be shared.

Blessed Among Women

Courtesy Bing Images

Mary. The mother of Jesus. Blessed among women. Chosen by God.

Many a time I’ve tried. I really have. But I just cannot imagine what it was like to be a teenage virgin engaged to be married, and be told you would soon become pregnant. But your intended would not be the father of your child.

To be told by an angel, of all things. That right there would be scary enough.

Nonetheless, Mary had found favor. She was the one chosen to give birth to the long awaited, much prayed for Messiah. Savior. Deliver. She was blessed above all others.

Mary. A peasant girl from the village of Nazareth. A descendent of the House of David. She was honored above all women who ever were, and who ever would be. Her son’s kingdom would never end.

How can you be the mother of the child of God? It’s difficult enough being the mother of a regular, everyday, garden variety child. But to raise the son of the One True Creator God? Like I said, I just cannot imagine it.

Jesus on the cross

Courtesy Bing Images

I can’t truly understand the flood of emotions that must have coursed through Mary’s every waking, and probably sleeping, moment.

Me? The vessel chosen to deliver the Messiah to the world? I believe that in God’s omnipotent, omniscient love and grace, he shielded Mary from the shadow of the cross for as long as he could.

Don’t you?

Beyond the awesomeness of being chosen to carry Immanuel in her womb, must have been the pain of telling Joseph she was expecting. Would he believe her? Would he really believe her?

Fortunately, God took care of that when he sent an angel to inform Joseph of his part in God’s redemptive plan.

Then, of course, there were the neighbors. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Did the gossip sting Mary’s heart?

God took care of that problem, too. When Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, heard Mary’s voice, her unborn baby leaped inside her womb. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth told Mary God had blessed Mary more than any other woman because she believed what the Lord said to her would really happen. That declaration reaffirmed who Mary was despite what the local gossips thought.

There were the angels. The shepherds. The wise men. Anna and Simeon in the temple.

Courtesy Bing Images

Courtesy Bing Images

Each one a witness to the great thing the LORD God Almighty had done, and would do, through his Son.

God continues to use his people to accomplish his plans today.

We won’t give birth to the Messiah, but like Mary, we carry Christ inside us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Once we claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior it becomes our responsibility to praise God for the great things he has done for us through his love, mercy, and grace. It becomes our responsibility to share that wonder with those we encounter each and every day.

So my question to each of us is this. How are we doing in that area?

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.” Luke 1:46-50 (TLB)

Sandy Quandt

“IT WASN’T HELL” – TRUE STORIES FROM 9/11, HEROES WHO ANSWERED THE CALL

Slide1

It Wasn’t Hell – PART 2

From an interview with my friend Charlie Edmond, NYPD

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

 

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

I was working the late tour—midnight to eight—the night of September 10th. Got off at 7:50 on the morning of 9/11…

My partner and I were on the Long Island Rail Road going home when the first plane hit. One of our friends called and told us, “A plane hit the World Trade Center. They’re calling it a terrorist attack.”

He didn’t have any inside information, it was just his suspicion, but he called it right. So Mark and I are on the train going home, and Mark says to me, “What are you going to do?”

“Are you kidding?” I said. “I’m going back in!”

I drove home and ran into my house just in time to see the first tower come down. I grabbed some clothes, shoved them into an overnight bag, and then kissed my wife and ran out. I drove back to Mark’s house to pick him up along with two other guys from our squad, and then together we drove to Home Depot and bought 25 pairs of leather gloves. Gloves! I can’t help but laugh now. I don’t know what we were thinking. We had about twenty guys in our squad and, I mean, we didn’t have the slightest concept of what we were driving down to. No concept at all. That’s where my mind was, you know…we’d have some gloves to help dig people out. We just had no idea.

And so the four of us drove the Long Island Expressway in. They’d shut it down to all civilians. Cops, firefighters and paramedics…they were about the only ones other than military who could get into Manhattan at that point. And you could see it on the faces of the cops who were managing traffic. You know, we’re talking 40 miles away on Long Island, and their only job is to divert traffic, but you could see such intensity in their eyes. They’re like, “Come on, come on, come on! Go, go, go!” The level was so high at that point. I mean, that was their function, and they were giving all they had for it.

When we got into Manhattan all the rules just went out the window. Everyone received orders to go here or there, but no one obeyed. Everyone went to their home precinct. You had to be with your squad. And they immediately plopped us at churches, synagogues, mosques, whatever. They put us all over everywhere trying to set up security, because they knew that someone was after us and they wanted to start locking down. But later that night they rounded us all up and marched us down to Ground Zero. And there’s about an inch or two of dust everywhere. I don’t know what it was, it must have been sheetrock dust, or something, but it looked like the moon. It was just a disaster. And there’s debris hanging everywhere. And you’re looking up as much as you’re looking around wondering what’s going to fall. And nobody knows what they’re doing. It’s just a total cluster. I mean, there’s I-beams lying all around, bent like you’re bending a straw, and here I am with my leather gloves, handing them out to everybody. “Here, here you go.” I just had no idea.

So they get us all set up. And they have a laser on one of the buildings. I guess they figured it was gonna fall. And so we agreed that if it started to fall, we’d all just run down into this tunnel (subway) and come out in Brooklyn. So that was our game plan, to run into a hole to get away from a falling building. And that’s how it was. It was nuts.

But the most surreal thing of all, and I remember this as clear as day: There’s this cobblestone road close to where we were set up, and I start hearing this clickety-clickety-clickety sound. And then this silver push cart appears— clickety-clickety—a room service cart. And two guys dressed in white and wearing chef’s hats come walking up and go, “Are you hungry?” And they had smoked salmon. And steak. It wasn’t the Waldorf, but is one of those, like, high-end hotels, and they sent these people out to help. There was just so much coming in at that point. Tents full of stuff. Cell phone batteries, ponchos and socks. Food. It was strange. It was like you walked onto the wrong set, you know? “The Tonight Show’s over there…” It just didn’t make any sense. The outpouring of help was incredible.

And so everybody’s trying to get in at this point, so we were trying to set up a perimeter to make it as safe as we could. Keep the criminals out. But all around us it was total madness. Nobody knew what they were doing. And I realize now that I should have been scared. But I wasn’t. Not all all. I knew I had this little church out on Long Island praying for me, and I wasn’t feeling any fear. I mean, I get as nervous as anybody else, and we’re out there looking at all this stuff, but I just had this peace. It was the peace of God. And I was like, if this falls we’ll run this way, but if I don’t make it, it’s okay. I just wasn’t afraid. I think God did that so that I could be support for everybody else.

One of the best feelings I had was watching the planes—the F-14’s or F-16’s—flying over Manhattan. I was like, “Whew, we’re safe!” You knew at that point, nothing’s getting to us. If they’re going to do it, they’re going to do it a different way, they’re not coming through the air. It was a secure feeling. But it got me to thinking about America. About Christians. Sometimes we get to feeling too secure. We’re all going about our happy lives, and suddenly, out of the blue, the enemy attacks. And that’s what happened. They hit the first tower. Then they hit the second tower. Then the Pentagon. And then the Christians start going, “Oh, Lord, we need you.”

I feel in my heart that it was the concerted prayers that inspired those men on that last plane to stand up. God strengthened them. He thwarted the enemy, because the enemy—he’s taking us out. He’s hitting buildings all over the place, and now the Christians all over are going, “What’s going on?” And they begin to pray. And it’s like the prayers started and that last plane didn’t reach its destination, because God intervened. He had those brave men throw themselves on the grenade for everyone else. They were heroes. God used them. But could it have been different? Would any of this have happened if the Christians in America had been awake? We were sleeping. Christians all over America, we had fallen asleep.

It’s not a game. The only reason we’ve not been hit again is the hand of God. We’re not great at stopping these guys. We’re not invincible. There was another attack planned in Brooklyn, but one of the attackers got a guilty conscience at the last minute. He ran up to a Transit cop and said, “I don’t want to do this,” and they stopped a whole subway attack. It wasn’t great research on our side that stopped it, it was the hand of God.

So I would encourage Christians to pray. To develop a closer relation with Christ. To read his Word, and to let it speak to you. To pray for our country’s protection, for our leaders, for those overseas on the front lines. I mean, you just never know when that security guard at the airport is going to check this bag or another. We need to ask God daily for a hedge of protection. We need to pray.

 To be continued…


Coming November 28th, Part 3 of “It Wasn’t Hell” (with Charlie Edmond NYPD)

Conclusion

…I’ve heard people say, “9/11 was hell.” But for me, it wasn’t. Hell is hopeless. Down there I saw lots of hope. The outpouring of help was just unbelievable. Like I said, they came with their little cart. There was so much help they had to turn people away. That was the Christian spirit. That selflessness…No, 9/11 wasn’t hell. Christians across America awoke, and in the end, Christ was glorified. There’s still hope.

 


Books by Pat Patterson:

Answering the Call, Inspirational Devotions from a Tested Paramedic

Tested by Fire, A Medic-7 Novel

Hydro Low

DSCN0996

Water and worry leak
to the lowest level,
a fool’s pool
spiraling the spirit
to depths
beneath the necessary steps.

It takes hydro-logic
to lift water
higher than clouded despair.
To rise as steam,
we admit wet
as requisite.

Our Engineer’s faith;
part bending knee,
part pouring cups
to the least of these,
cuts across current fashion,
chiding the waves to be still.

There is living water
and there is a stagnant well.
One can’t flow forward
by going back.
The well worn path is reasonable,
but making sense of resistance, is mist.

“It Wasn’t Hell” – True Stories from 9/11, Heroes Who Answered the Call

It Wasn’t Hell

From an interview with my friend Charlie Edmond, NYPD

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

Part 1

There’s no way to even begin to comprehend the size of that disaster. It was gigantic. A pile of rubble. People. And it’s hallowed ground at the same time. A lot of people were never recovered. I’ve heard it said, 9/11 was hell, and in many ways it was, but in the end I believe God was glorified. My faith in Christ is what got me through…

I was raised an atheist. It’s not like my dad sat me down and explained it to me that way, I was just raised with nothing. No God at all. I got married at twenty-two. I had been a cop for about two years at the time. My wife was already a Christian, and I believe, if not for her prayers, we would have become a statistic. You know the divorce rate, 50% or more. And I was just living all wrong. My life was headed for trouble.

I came home one night drunk as a skunk. tore up the kitchen, made a big mess. I knew that it hurt my wife. So I was lying in bed later thinking, and there was this wooden cross on the wall, and I knew right then that my life just wasn’t right. I knew I needed to change. “Lord,” I cried. “I can’t live like this anymore!” I called my wife into the room and said, “You’ve got to pray for me.”

Mercifully, she did. I got on my knees and asked Christ into my life. And that’s the day I got saved, but I had long, long way to go. Like I was in this bar a few nights later, having a couple of beers. And the language coming out of my mouth is inexcusable. And God’s like, “How’s that working out for you?” And I would preach to these guys at the bar, and they’re like, “Are you serious? Look at you, man. You haven’t changed a bit!” And on the street nothing had changed either. I mean these guys that grow up in the ghetto, they only understand filthy language, so you gotta talk to them that way. You can’t be soft on these guys. And so I’m cursing them. I mean it’s coming out of my mouth all wrong, and again God’s like, “How’s that working?”

And so one day I listened to him and just stopped cursing, and he showed me a new way to do my job. I mean they should teach this to cops, because you show the people out there something they’ve never experienced…respect. I wasn’t any less firm, but instead of swearing at them I started to treat them like human beings. “All right,” I would say. “I’ll listen to you, man.” And suddenly I was able to talk these 6’4″ guys into handcuffs instead of trying to fight them into submission. That was God. It was totally God.

I spent almost two years on the force as a non-believer, so I got to see it from the critical side. Back then we had a name for the bad guys…the homeless, the crackheads, the dirtbags. We called them “Skells.” It meant they were losers. And that’s the negative attitude you get working on the streets without Christ. And in time, unchecked, you go through this downward spiral. First, the skells are the bad guys. Then the midnight cops are the good guys and all other cops are skells. And then soon, your squad. They’re the only good guys. And then your partner’s the good guy and all the rest are skells. And then one day your partner’s a skell, and you hate the world.

And that’s the way it went for so many cops. Many guys ended up eating a gun, because they forget why they had become cops to begin with, to help other people. I mean we always see the negative. People never call a cop when they’re happy, like, “How you doing, guys? Come on in. Have a cup of coffee.” No, it always, “I’ve been robbed!” or “I’ve been in a car wreck.” or “Someone beat me up.” Always something negative. And some guys just have enough of it. And cops have the means, too. So they end up putting the gun in their mouth and pulling the trigger. I’ve seen it too many times. The suicide rate among cops is too high.

So I’ve got to say that my faith in Christ is the only way I got through it. Like I said, I was a drunk. I was going to lose my job. I definitely was going to lose my marriage. But God in his mercy just took all that away. Took it completely away. I don’t know how you make twenty years in the force without God. It’s a tough, tough road.

To be continued…


Coming October 31st, Part 2 of “It Wasn’t Hell” (with Charlie Edmond NYPD)

September 11, 2001

“…there’s about an inch or two of dust everywhere. I don’t know what is was, it must have been sheetrock dust, or whatever, but it looked like the moon. And there’s debris hanging everywhere, and you’re looking up as much as you’re looking around wondering what’s going to fall. And nobody knows what they’re doing. I mean, there’s I’beams lying all around, bent like you’d bend a straw. And I’m just standing these with these gloves in my hands. I just had no idea what to do. We had no idea…”


Books by Pat Patterson:

Answering the Call, Inspirational Devotions from a Tested Paramedic

Tested by Fire, A Medic-7 Novel

Thumbs Up

photo

Angels hitchhike
on the truck side of lonely.
Lovely weeds bend in the flying dust
of wheels stopping to start again.

The driver might chatter football,
the radio Gospel, or tripe.
This part of the Damascus road
is between homes, jobs, baths.

The Son of Man
has no where the lay His head.
Transients, the easy victims
of innocence and dumpster diseases.

The next Samaritan binds
the next wounds.
Our daily bread buttered,
one side at a time.

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