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Lighting your Spiritual Fire

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This Sunday is when Christians worldwide remember Pentecost, often considered the "birthday of the Church." It commemorates a time following the Resurrection, when Jewish followers of Christ who had gathered for the "Feast of Weeks" were suddenly, miraculously! empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit to transcend the limitations of race and language and culture, for the glory of God. (Read more about it, here.)

Often, Christians wear red clothing to church on Pentecost, to symbolize flames, and worship on that Sunday is an energizing event, "firing up" congregations and renewing their faith and commitment after the rollercoaster emotions of Lent and Easter.

But Pentecost isn't just for churchgoers, anymore! (As if it ever were. ;)) Let's explore the many possible ways and means by which each of us can re-energize ourselves, spiritually, wherever we are in our personal journeys; whether we are thinking about adoption, waiting to match, recovering from placement, or parenting/grandparenting.

What do you need to do, to renew your inner spirit and to catch a fresh wave of enthusiasm about your own life and your personal relationship with your Creator?

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What do you need to do, to renew your inner spirit and to catch a fresh wave of enthusiasm about your own life and your personal relationship with your Creator?

For me, it's simple: Prayer. I pray. GOD listens. GOD Speaks. I listen (well, hopefully I listening ;) ). I may not literally hear his words, but I know his power and grace and I know that he can get me through anything. I know he speaks to my soul. It is a continuing faith journey and open communication with God that will get me over a hurdle and 'recharge' my batteries. God is good all the time. :) I don't really feel I can force the rejuvenation, I just have to let it happen. Sometimes its harder than others, but everytime it does happen.



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What do you need to do, to renew your inner spirit and to catch a fresh wave of enthusiasm about your own life and your personal relationship with your Creator?

Up until about 2.5 months ago, it was reading my Bible at about 5:15 a.m. each morning followed by my morning outside run/or sometimes a gym workout......then I was always ready to take on the world (once I saw what God was creating outside each morning, life was good---be it rain, sleet or shine) ...............Now...it's reading my Bible first thing, but not so early, since I'm not allowed to exercise right now.

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You know, well first of all I go to church on Saturday but that really doesn't matter. God has had to "relite" my fire many times in my life. Most recently he urged me to attend a church I had never attended before South of where I live. So I went, and was VERY blessed from the moment I walked in. They accepted me right in, and I felt like I had belonged there ALL my life.

Also, two years ago when Alex was VERY little I was the female counselor on a roughin it campout for my church for a bunch of teens. It was a lot of fun. And this year, I was asked to go back and be the speaker. Wow. So I have decided, in lieu of my deployment, to talk about safety. Human vs. God's.

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  • 6 months later...

I was trying to find the right place to put this. I am still not sure it is the right place. As some of you know I like to write poems. I may not be good at it but, it helps me get out what is often hard to actually say. The past few weeks have been stressful and overhwhelming to me to say the least. I wrote a poem to try to get out what I am feeling.


Lord you are faithful

I wish I could be

You are there through the trials

Though I may not always see

Lord you are faithful

I want to be strong

Through the ups and downs of life

You fill my heart with a song

Lord you are faithful

I want to serve you more

When one window closes

You open up a door

Lord you are faithful

I hope I do enough

To show you that I love you

In this life that is tough

Lord you are faithful

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What a awesome poem Sabrina and so true!! Through all life's ups and down the Lord God is forever faithful to his children.

You my friend are very talented. I could see this poem put to a tune.

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Melissa, I was just thinking the same thing! Very catchy verse, Sabrina, and meaningful, as well! Thank you for sharing it... that's a reminder we all could use, any day of the week!

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Melissa and Elizabeth,

Thank you so much. I thought that it would be a reminder that I could remember.


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You have a wonderful gift Sabrina - thank you for sharing

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That is awesome. Thank you for sharing. Faithfulness is one of the attributes of God I am most thankful for (along with His love, mercy, grace...there are so many.) When I share my life story, the faithfulness of God is what I see most clearly. He has never let me down. He always comes through...not always in ways I expect, but better. And He's there for me day in and day out...even when I am less than faithful to Him.

Again, thanks for sharing!


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Beautiful poem Sabrina. Hope life gets less stressful and overwhelming for you very soon. :)

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For some reason, I've been thinking a lot of my brother lately. He died four years ago after a battle with colon cancer. I just reread a speech I wrote about sacrifice. It was delivered a year after Ralph's passing, but that made it no easier to get through. I think it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I give you a copy of it here, slightly edited. I hope that someone finds it either inspiring or comforting.

Thanks for reading...

“The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can't know.

He can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will

be killed, all right, but he can't know whether he is killed because of

the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he

hasn't got and which if he had it, it would save him. There's cold in

your stomach, but you open the envelope, you have to open the envelope,

for the end of man is to know.”

This quote from “All The King's Men,” Robert Penn Warren's peerless novel of political corruption, might make us uneasy, because it talks about the inevitable: The end of man. When we think of “the end,” we often think of death.

After all, “When Christ calls us, he bids us to come and die,” said German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And it is true. We are called upon by Christ to give our all, even unto death.

But there are other forms of “the end of man,” and some have little to do with death. I believe the lines from Penn Warren's book talk about more than our conventional perception of death. The lines also talk about change. Each new piece of knowledge we gain, every experience we have forever changes us. That change can often represent an “end” to our old selves.

And here's the best part: With each end there is a beginning.

Remember John 3:16-17:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that

whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting

life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;

but that the world through him might be saved.”

Jesus sacrificed his life to give us, as imperfect as we are, the opportunity to come before our perfect God and rejoice in him. As followers of Christ, we are compelled to follow this example. But how do we do this? Do we, too, need to hang on a cross? No, Jesus took away the need for that, but he did not take away the need for sacrifice in his name and in the name of our fellow man.

Sacrifice can take all kinds of forms. It can be prayer at an unexpected and inconvenient time. It can be an act of charity toward another in the name of Jesus and you. It can be a shared fellowship that draws us closer to God. It can be a random act of kindness toward a stranger. Giving of ourselves and our talents, at any time, in the name of God is sacrifice.

My family is a living testament to the power of sacrifice.

In November 2002, on the day after I returned home from a retreat, I received a message from my father telling me that my older brother Ralph's battle against colon cancer had reached a stage where his death was an inevitability. Ralph had had a bout with colon cancer several years before, but he seemed to have beaten the disease. A construction worker, Ralph had moved from Pennsylvania to Florida about six years ago in an effort to find year-round work. He settled near my parents and was doing well.

But the cancer returned, and this time, the fight would have only one conclusion. Ralph was dying, and no amount of fighting was going to change that. Immediately, my parents, both in their late 70s, took Ralph into their home, determined to make him comfortable and knowing that as his illness progressed, he would be in no shape to live alone.

Our family rallied around each other. My wife of less than six months told me to go to Florida to visit whenever I wanted and as often as I wanted, no matter what the cost. My oldest brother Ron and I visited Ralph and my parents at Christmas time that year, knowing it would be the last time we would be together as a family.

There were other issues. Ralph had two children from whom he was estranged. Both adults now, Jennifer and Mark bear the emotional scars of a brutal divorce and years of fighting between their parents. Jennifer was bitter and sometimes contemptuous of her father. Mark was in more danger. He had descended into a life of crime and was in jail awaiting trial on theft charges. Ralph was insistent they not know about his condition.

Through phone calls and e-mails, my parents, Ron and I discussed calling the kids and telling them about their father. But we wavered, wondering whether to violate Ralph's wishes. Finally, in May, unsure of how much time Ralph had left, we decided that they needed to know, and I called Jennifer. As I explained her father's condition, Jennifer began sobbing quietly. When I finished, she asked if she could go to see him.

Within days Jennifer was in Florida with her father. By all accounts, their reunion was uplifting. Ralph's health was failing, but he and Jennifer spent hours together each day, talking, taking drives and even going fishing. Jennifer spent a month with her father, caring for him and healing the hurts of the past.

Mark was sentenced to prison for his crimes and would never see his father again. In a series of remarkable phone calls, however, he did get a chance to hear his father's voice. Ralph, determined to make the best use of his time, tried repeatedly to get Mark to admit his mistakes and craft a future for himself. He expressed his love. He gave advice on school, careers and the slings and arrows of life.

At times, it seemed that it wasn't working. Mark appeared unable to believe that his father's illness was serious, and he also seemed oblivious to his own predicament. Once, when I visited for Ralph's birthday in June, Ralph's frustration boiled over. “He can't understand that I'm dying,” Ralph shouted at me. It's one thing to know your brother is not going to live. It's another thing to see one of the strongest people you know, now reduced to less than 100 pounds, admit it.

That June would be the last time I would see my brother. One day, three months later, Ralph got up to use the bathroom. Stricken by a wave of excruciating pain, he cried out, and my mother ran to him. She tried to lift him back into bed, but Ralph's body slumped. On that day, September 23, 2003, Ralph David Schoonejongen, 49 years old, beloved by his family and friends, left this world as he entered it, cradled in his mother's arms.

What does all this have to do with sacrifice, you might ask. This story is filled with sacrifice. My parents straining body and mind to care for a dying son. My wife loving me enough to not only let me go to Florida several times but also to put up with my scattered thoughts throughout a year of sorrows. My niece Jennifer putting aside her resentment and caring for her father as he slowly faded. Ralph, with little time left, giving of himself to his imprisoned son in an effort to put him on the right path.

And my church family also sacrificed. I was on a retreat team during my brother’s illness, and my friends patiently stood beside me and behind me, supporting me through every up and down, with prayers, hugs and love.

Three weeks after he died, I went on a retreat with a heavy heart. My church family, of course, was there for me, but something unforgettable also happened. At one point during the weekend, I broke down. I knew it was going to happen, but that didn’t make it any less painful. As my anguish mingled with my tears, I felt a hand slip into mine and an arm around my shoulders. It was a member of my small group, a stranger, really (I had known her only a few hours), but someone who felt my heartache and moved to assuage. Comforting a stranger in his hour of sadness, loss and pain … can there be a better definition of sacrifice in the name of the Lord?

Ralph's illness and death was an ordeal, but the sacrifices of us all – family, friend and stranger – during that time uplifted each of us, changed us and brought us a measure of peace and hope for the future. It is no wonder that Revelation 7:9-17, with its glimpse of heaven, has become one of my favorite passages of scripture since Ralph's death:

“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could

count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,

standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with

palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,

'Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the

Lamb!' … Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, 'Who are

these, robed in white, and where have they come from?' I said to him,

'Sir, you are the one that knows.' Then he said to me, 'These are they

who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes

and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are

before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his

temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They

will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them,

nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be

their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,

and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

This is the end of man. This is the knowledge that saves. God's sacrifice of his son is mimicked every day by Christians around the globe. Are you coping with a death in the family, a crisis of faith, a struggle with a loved one? No matter what your great ordeal, remember that we all are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You will feel it now as the prayers of the faithful surround you. God's infinite and amazing grace is in each prayer, each sacrifice.

The result?

“They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

“God so loved the world.”

And that is all...

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