A SEASON OF SUDDENLY

More than twenty years ago, Larry Sparks, my booking agent, mailed me a cassette copy of a sermon by his pastor, Jack Hayford. It was titled ‘A Season of Suddenly’ and, at present, John and I have adopted that mantra.

In his articulate, compelling way, Pastor Hayford talked about how we sometimes pray regarding particular needs for long periods of time without any resolution or perceptible change. We forge ahead, looking neither left or right, with an almost stubborn determination that God is hearing us and working in our behalf. We believe, but not because we see any response to our petitions. Our belief is based solely on who He is and what He promised. Our assignment is to ask, seek, knock, and to keep on doing it.

In January, when we least expected it, God answered a prayer in such a way that we knew He had orchestrated the outcome. Much like dominoes, other prayers were answered and events triggered until we found ourselves in the throes of a visible, real time, act of the sovereign God of the ages. All we could do was stand back and utter words of gratitude and disbelief at the same time. In that brief chunk of time, God took a handful of impossibles and rendered them done. Asked and answered. And better than we hoped for.

Peter had just healed a man crippled from birth when he admonished the onlookers to repent and turn to God, so that there would come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19) Zechariah shared the Lord’s promise to the house of Judah that the fasts they were to observe would be to them seasons of joy. (Zech 8:19) My personal favorite is probably the most familiar from John 5:4, “..For an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water.” You know the rest.

These wonderful seasons have been very, very rare for me, but they are impossible to mistake. When they occur, God moves in the events of my life, rendering me a mere observer. I am as helpless to stop His sovereignty as I am to start it.

For centuries, pastors, scholars and poets have quoted the timeless promise of Ecclesiastes 3. Solomon proclaims that our lives are lived in seasons and that God has made everything beautiful in its time. He adds that we cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

So, here is the crux of the matter:
God is working even though we cannot see it
He longs to take our most painful events and make them beautiful in time
When we call on Him, He answers
Sometimes suddenly.

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WISE MEN AND SEA TURTLES

Every day from May to August, volunteers monitor the entire coastline of North Carolina. They patrol the edge of the ocean, looking for turtle tracks.

The female loggerhead sea turtle leaves the comfortable domain of the ocean and ventures ashore to lay her eggs. Working at night, she finds a steep, wide area of beach. There she digs a hole about two feet deep and deposits a clutch, containing approximately 125 eggs. She covers them with sand, providing the perfect camouflage. Only her distinct track alerts volunteers to the possibility of a nest. Some two weeks later, she repeats the process until she has deposited as few as three or as many as five clutches.

Two months later, at nighttime, the hatchlings break their shells and crawl to the surface as a team. When ready, they break through the sand, flail about, then move toward the moonlight. Enthusiastic groups hold vigils to watch the babies complete their long march to the sea. As they move toward the glow of the moon and the reflection off the water, they are moving to their natural habitat, the ocean.

A few years ago, on Bonaire Island in the Caribbean, a group of hatchlings began to emerge further down the beach, close to the nearby airport. Confused by the bright lights of the runways and terminals, they began moving toward the airport. When they when stumbled upon a busy highway, they were all killed.

This year, a group of volunteers noticed that another clutch of eggs was beginning to hatch further down the beach, near the airport. Determined to keep them safe, when the hatchlings emerged, the volunteers created a human wall, effectively blocking the airport lights. The only light available to the babies was the bright moonlight, pointing the way toward the sea. All 112 turtles scrambled in the right direction and made it safely to the water.

Volunteers warn spectators not to interfere with the hatchlings on their trek to the sea. It is this exertion from nest to ocean that builds endurance for the coming swim. Carrying them to the water would bypass this strength-building exercise and lower their chances of survival.

“All of this happens quite apart from man,” as Catherine Marshall said. “Little man who struts and fumes upon the earth.”

It was the shepherds working the night shift who received the personal, angelic invitation. “Don’t be afraid,” they were told. “You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” The accompanying angelic choir did not finish the final note before these shepherds began their pilgrimage to where He was.

Pilgrims still recognize the miraculous.

The Magi were men of great learning. They were wealthy and highly regarded for their knowledge of astronomy and astrology. They had identified an unusual star and discerned that a special king had been born. Their feet had barely touched Israeli soil when they asked, “Where is he that is born king of the Jews?”

Wise men still seek the extraordinary.

We, too, have heard the clear, stirring news that a child is born. We have not seen His swaddling clothes or touched His manger, but our hearts have seen Him; our hearts have heard Him.

We emerged, flailed about, then turned toward the light of His bright, morning star. We, too, found protection in a human wall: a lifetime of pastors, evangelists, teachers, and friends who helped mitigate the allure of the destructive lights. These mentors did not pick us up and carry us to the water; rather, they watched us strengthen and build endurance for our own trek, our own journey home.

Centuries later, His star remains the most extraordinary; His call the most compelling. The humility of His manger astounds us; the savagery of His cross woos us.

As pilgrims, we stake our lives on the promise that He came. As wise men, we recognize the poverty of our own wisdom and seek His. Still.

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A RENDEZVOUS WITH DESTINY

On June 27, 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his acceptance speech for nomination to a second term as President of the United States. Against a backdrop of the Great Depression, his words rang in homeless shantytowns, to men without vocation, to families without food and shelter. “This generation of Americans,” he declared, “has a rendezvous with destiny.”

A year earlier, FDR sent General Douglas MacArthur to the Philippines to establish a military force in the region. One day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded the Philippines. Little military backing and diminishing supply took its toll. Defeat seemed inevitable. President Roosevelt issued a command that MacArthur leave the island. A month later, 70,000 U.S. and Philippine soldiers were captured and forced to march to the capitol in what would become the Bataan Death March. Seven thousand soldiers died during the 80-mile torturous trek.

When WWII ended, MacArthur, in his eloquence, stated:

Today, the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. The skies no longer rain with death – the seas bear only commerce – men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world lies quietly at peace… I speak for the thousands of silent lips, forever stilled among the jungles and the beaches and in the deep waters of the Pacific which marked the way, ‘We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back.’”

General MacArthur had a rendezvous with destiny. In 1962, West Point Academy bestowed upon the frail, 82-year old their most prestigious award. In his acceptance speech he spoke of what mattered to him:

The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday.

I listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams, I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.

Today marks the my final roll call with you, but I want you to know that when I cross the river my last conscious thoughts will be of The Corps, and The Corps, and The Corps. I bid you farewell.”

Paul, the Apostle, understood his rendezvous with destiny. He taught that Christ would return for believers in the small church he established in Thessalonica. When the congregation began facing the death of their loved ones, they questioned Paul’s word. Doubt crept in, but Paul was smart. He did not simply tell them the truth; he demonstrated it. He tied their hope to their knowledge. He secured the resurrection of the believers to the resurrection of Christ: “Since we believe that Jesus rose from the dead, we also believe that He will resurrect believers who have died with faith in Him.” Then he went a step further, “We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together . . . to meet the Lord in the air.”

You and I, also, have a rendezvous with destiny. We have known triumph and defeat, and we have determined that there can be no turning back. Our destiny is indelibly linked to a baby, a cup, a cross, a grave, a tomb, a promise. Were we to take license with MacArthur’s poignant farewell, we may offer this, our own valediction:

“The shadows are lengthening for us. The twilight is here. Our days of old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. We listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the moving melody of a dusty hymn, of voices raised to join the song. In our dreams we hear again the crash of the ocean waves, the laughter of a child, the sad, sorrowful sound of those who mourn. But in the evening of our memories, always we come back to what remains our highest hope. Always there echoes and re-echoes Jesus’ words:Do not be afraid. I hold the keys of death and Hell.”When we mark our final roll call, when we cross the river, our last conscious thoughts will be…..

O, Death, where is thy victory?
Oh, grave, where is thy sting?

(1 Corinthians 15:55)

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November 2013

Hey Everybody,

It’s almost time for my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving! I’ve been pooling recipes and creating menus. I’m browsing for table decor, centerpieces, fun ideas for out of towners. Planning to put the tree together (well, John does that), pull out some decorations, and fill the fireplaces with real wood and kindling (um, John does that, too). No gifts to buy (although I enjoy that) and no traffic jams. And, of course, there’s Black Friday to look forward to.

In short, what a great time of the year.

The WebMASTER has created a Thanksgiving special (you knew that was coming). This month, you can get 4 Vocal Performance CD Tracks for $16.99. That’s a $39.96 value. Here is a link:

http://janetpaschal.com/cd.html#SP

One more thing…. In keeping with a thankful attitude, I had a wonderful experience that I just can’t keep to myself. So, here goes…

I purchased a dress in a local shop that I really loved. It was made by ‘Nic and Dom’. I wanted another one like it in a different color so I began searching. After exhausting all of my resources, I found the company website . While they did not offer dresses for sale, I found an email address for Nikki (of Nic and Dom). I emailed her asking if there was any way to buy that style of dress, were there any in a warehouse somewhere, etc.?

She emailed me back right away and offered to make me one for free. Yes, MAKE me one. She checked their fabric inventory and emailed me some options. She refused to let me pay her. The dress arrived this week.

Here is their website (www.nicanddom.com) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/nicanddom). Here is Nikki’s email address: nikki@nicanddom.com – I’d love for her to hear from some of you!

We love you….always!

Janet
newdress

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Sisters

jpmjanet_G2

They came from as far away as the west coast and as near as the other side of town. Long accustomed to travel, the trip to Nashville was easy. For years, most have packed clothes, music products and babies then hit the road with a family or singing group. These women were not nervous or anxious. They were not apprehensive or intimidated. This was not a new thing. These ladies had just slipped into old, well worn shoes.

When the cameras began rolling and the video was in full swing, they had fun. This was a respite, a brief vacation, a day spent with girlfriends. There was catching up and opening up between these peers and allies. The room was electric, warm, and vibrant.

Their treks here varied. Some plowed through small churches all over the Bible Belt, tenaciously presenting their message to whomever would listen. As their platforms grew, so did their experience. Their talents stretched and flexed well beyond what they ever envisioned. God was with them; He blessed their work and multiplied their results. The call from Mr. Gaither to be a part of this event was a validation of their history of good results.

Others arrived in this music genre by following the footsteps of their parents. They rode a wave induced by someone else, and their lessons began earlier than most. They were cast and coached by industry pioneers. They shared their parents and their childhoods with strangers in music venues. They brought to the taping, that Tuesday, rich music histories and polished skills.

The ages of the women in the room varied greatly, as did their respective careers. Some were young, others older, and some were grandmothers: a moniker which they bore proudly. Some were at the height of their careers, some beginning their ascent and others slowing. No one seemed to differentiate between those stages.

Sitting contentedly on the front row was the woman whose life has inspired and mentored us all. Throughout the taping, she issued wordless encouragement and affirmation. That is her style: unobtrusive yet powerful. That is her gift: words that do not demand, yet do not allow to be ignored. That is her legacy: the ultimate representation of grace, discernment, and empathy. The women in that room call Gloria a hero, an icon, a friend.

Perhaps one of the most important relationships in Jesus’ earthly life was His friendship with siblings Lazarus, Mary and Martha. When Lazarus became ill, the sisters summoned Jesus. Four days following his death, Jesus journeyed to a safe place outside Bethany. When Martha heard that He had come, she went to meet Him. “Lord, if You had been here,” she gently chided, “my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask.” (John 11:17-21 NIV) Jesus made her a quiet promise that her brother would live again. Martha rushed to the home where Mary was and whispered to her that Jesus had come. When Mary ran out to meet Him, she fell at His feet and repeated Martha’s disappointment, “…if You had been here…” Matthew Henry notes that Mary did not verbalize hope of a resurrection, as did Martha. “But it appears,” he writes, “by what follows, that what [Mary] fell short in words she made up in tears; she said less than Martha but wept more.”

On Tuesday, in Nashville, the room was filled with sisters. These women have crisscrossed their lives with each other as surely and intricately as would a family. They have grappled with situations that made them say, “Lord, if You had been here…” They have run to a real time Mary and whispered that Jesus has arrived in the middle of their circumstances. They have aligned their faith with Martha’s stubborn resolution, “But I know that, even now, God is with You.”

The women who fell short in words, on Tuesday, made up in tears and genuine love.
They shared a grownup tea party. They exchanged notes and news from home. They savored the spontaneous refreshing.

After all, that’s what sisters do.

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THE ART, THE ARGUMENT, THE BURNING

The Art
When Germany formed their military power, the Reich, they also created the Abwehr Military Intelligence, a concession to the Allies for solely “defensive” purposes. When Adolph Hitler came to power, the agency was headed by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. Witness to massacres and crimes of war, Canaris soon began a clandestine movement to undermine Hitler. He appointed enemies of the regime to act as agents and expose the atrocities of the Third Reich. One of these agents was the Protestant priest, Dietrich Bonhoefer.

A theologian and pastor, Bonhoefer delivered essays questioning the treatment of the Jews by the Nazi regime until 1936 when he was forbidden to lecture at Berlin University. In 1941, he was forbidden to print or publish. In 1944, at age 37, he, along with Admiral Canaris and other agents were arrested and imprisoned at Flossenburg concentration camp, then executed for treason. Two weeks later the camp was liberated by American troops.

The camp doctor who witnessed the executions wrote that he saw Bonhoeffer kneel and pray before being led to the gallows. He recalled, “I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. In the almost 50 years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”
That picture would have been priceless: strokes of poise and grace brushed across a human model. Peace that defies depiction. Faith with a face. Art in its purest form.

The Argument
Francis Schaeffer was the first student to graduate and to be ordained in the Bible Presbyterian Church. He pastored in Pennsylvania and Missouri before joining the Reformed Presbyterian Church, a forerunner of the Presbyterian Church in America. In 1981, the prolific and influential author published A Christian Manifesto, which some have declared greatly influenced their theological arguments. In it, Schaeffer attacks the influences of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, arguing that the United States began as a nation rooted in Biblical principles. As a consequence of secular humanism, he writes, “These two religions, Christianity and humanism, stand over against each other… The church has forsaken its duty to be the salt of the culture.” His subsequent book, How Should We Then Live?, became the basis of a tour, study and film series which was enthusiastically received in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom.

Some say that the ideology presented by Schaeffer allowed for Christians to use civil disobedience to restore Biblical morality. While many prominent figures credit Schaeffer with helping formulate their life mission, his argument was, for most evangelicals, a passionate rallying cry.

The Burning
On the way home following Jesus’ crucifixion, Cleopas and a companion are joined by Jesus, whom they do not recognize. Cleopas admits that Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, was the one who they had hoped would redeem Israel. When they arrived home, they invited Jesus to stay and, when he gave thanks and broke bread, they instantly recognized Him. Just as instantly, He disappeared. They recalled, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?” Their spirits were quickened and their hearts burned as the Christ walked and talked with them.

John Wesley wrote of his own Emmaus experience: “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

Wesley did not face gallows or probe secular humanism. He did not see the resurrected Christ break bread. But his heart had been strangely warmed by his quiet encounter with the Christ. The spirit had fanned his flame of faith into a bonfire of salvation and, for all time, Wesley’s soul knew the peace of reconciliation and his heart knew the burning.

THE ART, THE ARGUMENT, THE BURNING

The Art
When Germany formed their military power, the Reich, they also created the Abwehr Military Intelligence, a concession to the Allies for solely “defensive” purposes. When Adolph Hitler came to power, the agency was headed by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. Witness to massacres and crimes of war, Canaris soon began a clandestine movement to undermine Hitler. He appointed enemies of the regime to act as agents and expose the atrocities of the Third Reich. One of these agents was the Protestant priest, Dietrich Bonhoefer.

A theologian and pastor, Bonhoefer delivered essays questioning the treatment of the Jews by the Nazi regime until 1936 when he was forbidden to lecture at Berlin University. In 1941, he was forbidden to print or publish. In 1944, at age 37, he, along with Admiral Canaris and other agents were arrested and imprisoned at Flossenburg concentration camp, then executed for treason. Two weeks later the camp was liberated by American troops.

The camp doctor who witnessed the executions wrote that he saw Bonhoeffer kneel and pray before being led to the gallows. He recalled, “I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. In the almost 50 years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”
That picture would have been priceless: strokes of poise and grace brushed across a human model. Peace that defies depiction. Faith with a face. Art in its purest form.

The Argument
Francis Schaeffer was the first student to graduate and to be ordained in the Bible Presbyterian Church. He pastored in Pennsylvania and Missouri before joining the Reformed Presbyterian Church, a forerunner of the Presbyterian Church in America. In 1981, the prolific and influential author published A Christian Manifesto, which some have declared greatly influenced their theological arguments. In it, Schaeffer attacks the influences of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, arguing that the United States began as a nation rooted in Biblical principles. As a consequence of secular humanism, he writes, “These two religions, Christianity and humanism, stand over against each other… The church has forsaken its duty to be the salt of the culture.” His subsequent book, How Should We Then Live?, became the basis of a tour, study and film series which was enthusiastically received in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom.

Some say that the ideology presented by Schaeffer allowed for Christians to use civil disobedience to restore Biblical morality. While many prominent figures credit Schaeffer with helping formulate their life mission, his argument was, for most evangelicals, a passionate rallying cry.

The Burning
On the way home following Jesus’ crucifixion, Cleopas and a companion are joined by Jesus, whom they do not recognize. Cleopas admits that Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, was the one who they had hoped would redeem Israel. When they arrived home, they invited Jesus to stay and, when he gave thanks and broke bread, they instantly recognized Him. Just as instantly, He disappeared. They recalled, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?” Their spirits were quickened and their hearts burned as the Christ walked and talked with them.

John Wesley wrote of his own Emmaus experience: “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

Wesley did not face gallows or probe secular humanism. He did not see the resurrected Christ break bread. But his heart had been strangely warmed by his quiet encounter with the Christ. The spirit had fanned his flame of faith into a bonfire of salvation and, for all time, Wesley’s soul knew the peace of reconciliation and his heart knew the burning.

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Happy July 4th

Happy Independence, Everybody!

I hope your summer is shaping into a solid regimen of fun, relaxation and plenty of sunscreen. The experts say that as you get older, you should increase your spf number; I’m currently using 100:)

I just finished a summer course and am excited to have some free time before the fall. I’m doing some concerts for some longtime friends this summer, but mostly catching my breath from the academics of the last year. A friend of mine would say, “It’s all good.”

If you are in the Toronto area, I’ll be in concert on July 13 in Cobourg. Beautiful scenary, beautiful people, and God always shows up. I’m taking my sister again this year; I think they schedule me because they love her so much! If you are nearby, we’d love to see you. The information is posted on www.janetpaschal.com

The WebMaster is selling my latest release, Treasure, for $9.99 online. It is regularly $15.99. The WebMaster knows I love bargains!
(correction: The July Special is the Home Again CD for $8.49)

We love you all and hope to see you sometime soon. Watch out for the stingrays!

Blessings,
Janet

Homecoming Magazine recently celebrated 10 years of providing a first rate publication with a Christian perspective. I am honored to be a regular contributor for more than five of those. For the anniversary edition, I took the readers back to where and when it all began. Those trips are almost always beneficial.

 
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Anniversaries are for remembering, revisiting, and celebrating. To that end, I thought it might prove interesting to revisit some of the random events that have taken place in the world since the Homecoming Magazine began arriving in mailboxes 10 years ago. When the ink dried on the introductory issue, these were our headlines:

The price of Gasoline is $1.86/gallon.
The US Department of Homeland Security begins operation.
The Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates, killing all 7 astronauts aboard.
Nine months following her disappearance, Elizabeth Smart is found.
Army PFC Jessica Lynch is rescued from her Iraqi captors.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is suspended after refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from the Supreme Court Building.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected Governor of California.

2004
Spirit, a NASA Mars Rover, lands successfully on Mars.
Google introduces Gmail.
Oldsmobile builds its final car, ending 107 years of production.
The World War II Memorial is dedicated in Washington, DC.
Longtime Jeopardy! champ, Ken Jennings, is beaten. His winnings: $2,520,700.
Ronald Reagan’s funeral is held at Washington National Cathedral.
The cornerstone of Freedom Tower is laid on the site of the World Trade Center.

2005
YouTube is launched in the United States.
Condoleezza Rice becomes the first African American Secretary of State.
Lance Armstrong retires after record seventh consecutive Tour de France victory.
Hurricane Katrina devastates the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.
Saddam Hussein goes on trial in Baghdad.

2006
The United States population reaches 300 million.
All toiletries are banned from commercial airplanes.
Barry Bonds hits home run # 715, breaking Babe Ruth’s record.

2007
Apple announces the iPhone.
Virginia Tech massacre: The deadliest mass shooting in American history.
The tomb of Herod the Great is discovered.
Jack Kevorkian is released from prison.
The Dalai Lama receives the US Congressional Gold Medal.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest ever monarch of the UK.

2008
Dictator Fidel Castro retires as the President of Cuba.
Gold prices on NY Exchange hit $1,000 /ounce for the first time.
Danica Patrick wins the Indy Japan 300: the first female to win an Indy car race.
The US Air Force retires the F-117 Nighthawk.
Barack Obama becomes the first African-American President of the US.
Bernard Madoff charged with securities fraud in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

2009
US Air Flt 1549 makes an emergency landing into the Hudson River. All survive.
Chrysler files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
General Motors files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the fourth largest in US history.
All US television broadcasts switch from analog to digital transmission.
Roger Federer wins a record 15th Grand Slam in tennis.
The 72 year run of the soap opera The Guiding Light ends.

2010
Jessica Watson becomes the youngest person to sail around the world solo.
John Isner wins at Wimbledon in the longest match in tennis history.
BP Oil rig explodes off the gulf coast of Louisiana.
Operation Iraqi Freedom ends.

2011
Attempted assassination of AZ congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Prince William marries Kate Middleton.
Osama bin Laden is killed by US special forces in Pakistan.
Oprah Winfrey ends her 25 year run of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
NASA’s Space Shuttle program ends.
Occupy Wall Street movement begins in NYC.
World population reaches 7 billion.

2012
Wendy’s overtakes Burger King to become the second best burger chain.
The Lion King becomes the highest grossing Broadway show.
Tiger Woods’ matches Jack Nicklaus’s win record.
The unfinished One World Trade Center overtakes the Empire State Building to become the tallest building in New York.

Sixty issues later, we wonder what the next 10 years will hold, but we do not wonder Who holds it. What a great adventure!

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The Wonder Years

They warned us that life would pass at warp speed. We would be their age before we knew it. These were the best days of our lives, they said. Maybe so. Just maybe so.

Our parents worked fulltime, so when they were home they stayed busy. Daddy never let an engine stutter, a tool dull, or an appliance operate inefficiently. Mom maintained our household and cooked two meals a day. Because of their busyness, the kitchen table was about the only place where everyone was in the same room at the same time, except for summer thunderstorms.

Our family practiced great respect for lightning and thunder. There was an unspoken rule that we all gather in the living room and speak quietly until the storm passed. These were some of my favorite times because it meant that work and chores and church did not take us in different directions. We simply sat in the room together. It felt safe. We did not know fear as long as daddy was there. He was stronger and smarter than anyone I knew, and he could construct, repair, or unravel anything.

Mom and Dad were very strict. While we didn’t appreciate it at the time, in hindsight both Kay and I are grateful for it. One of the things for which we were most often in trouble was giggling in bed. Daddy always issued a warning, which only intensified our goofiness, until we heard his feet hit the floor. At that point, we knew we had crossed the line. To this day, Kay and I can be uncontrollably giggly and goofy in the most inappropriate situations. We try to avoid each other at weddings and funerals.

When I was four, our local Ford dealership held a drawing for a black and white, 19” portable television. Unbelievably, our dad won it. He put it on a rolling cart in the living room and our family stumbled into the golden age of television. We loved Red Skelton and Lucille Ball, Dracula and Lost In Space. On Sunday mornings we tuned in to watch Oral Roberts pray for the sick and more than once I placed my hand on the convex screen as a point of contact.

Our parents had a daughter between Kay and me, Dianne. She died of pneumonia at six months old. For some time afterward, Kay would cry and say, “I want to see Di.” Several times, my parents took her to see our cousin, Nancy, who was about Dianne’s age and that would assuage her for a while. In her Sunday School class recently, Kay spoke of Mary Magdalene’s visit to Jesus’ tomb and how, when He called her name, Mary knew His voice. Kay said that she believes when she gets to heaven, she will hear a voice call her name, and she will instantly recognize it as belonging to her ‘Di’, her sweet Dianne. I believe it, too.

When we were in junior high, Kay and I formed a trio with our cousin called The Gospel Classics (okay, I said it.) Another cousin played the drums and a friend played bass. Our parents paid for us to record an album. They purchased and renovated an old bus to make traveling easier. When a man in our hometown painted our name on the side, we thought we were the next big thing. Only in adulthood did I realize the sacrifices both parents made: leaving home on Fridays, returning just in time to be back at work on Monday mornings. I took so much for granted that it shames me. They never mentioned their lost weekends or their financial sacrifices. It just seemed that they dreamed with us, for us, and they never computed our indebtedness.

They bore the cost of our wonder years. They spent their youth on our childhoods. They took responsibility for who we were and who we would become. But the driving force that underscored all of their actions and their responses was never more complicated than love. The lone dynamic that held no wonder for us back then was just how much we were loved.

And that was wonder-full.

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February 2013 Update

Hey Everybody, and Happy February!

This is the month for Valentines and chocolates and spinning class. And speaking of class….

Many of you have written asking about the classes I’m taking. Here’s the full story…

I started singing professionally at 18, but it was always in my plans to – one day – go back to college and earn a degree in math or accounting. In 2005, while being treated for breast cancer, I started classes at a nearby community college. I continued at a snail’s pace until last year when my travel schedule slowed down. In three years I hope to have my master’s degree and check that off of my bucket list.

While some of my friends think I’m crazy, I am just loving it. I love being in a learning environment. I love the challenge of it (and it is very challenging!). I love the learning process on THIS side of adulthood. It is hard work, but an incredible privilege!

I honestly feel that this process has the Lord’s fingerprints all over it; this is the result of my Father remembering and granting a desire of my heart. I believe He has opened this door even though it has meant closing others. He is such a good Father, carefully working all things together for our good…

The toughest part of this process is that I am having to curtail my traveling; in fact, I am making time for the concerts I love the most – women’s events – but not much else. I am not comfortable being gone more than one or two weekends a month, and even that’s a stretch sometimes. I am also determined to remain a proud contributor to Homecoming Magazine as long as Gloria feels my column valid. I would do anything for her!

That said, I hope to see a lot of you sometime this year. I’ll be around – and I hope you will, as well.

Now, for some housekeeping items: Many of you wrote that you did not receive the attached article in January – so I’m re-sending it. Also, the WebMASTER says there are still some soundtracks offered at half price in the online store. Don’t miss out!
Here is a link: http://janetpaschal.com/store_home.html

We love you – and we appreciate you!!

Blessings,
Janet

A NEW STAR

Most of us know the story well. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Not satisfied with the dark emptiness, He spoke light into His universe and established a timetable for it. He designed a vault to separate the vast waters and called it ‘sky.’ He spoke and the waters under His new sky began to gather, and dry ground appeared. He decided that the land would produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees that would replicate themselves. He was just getting to the details.

He added recessed lighting to the vault of His sky, stars to shine on His earth; a great light to oversee the day and a lesser one for the night. God added great creatures to His waters, winged birds to fly across the vault of His sky, and creatures to move along the ground. He created wild animals and livestock and, under His perennial scrutiny, called it all good.

Next, God replicated His own image and created a man and a woman. He blessed the man and appointed him supervisor over everything in His sea, His sky, and on His earth. At this juncture, God rested.

Genesis chronicles the story of creation in extremely broad strokes. It does not record the details and complexities of the beginning.

God placed His planet the precisely perfect distance from its source of heat and light – some 93 million miles. Even a fractional variance from His calculations and life on earth would be impossible. His lesser light, the moon, is the perfect size and distance away for its gravitational pull to create tides to refresh the ocean’s waters, yet restrain them from spilling over. The earth’s temperature ranges from -30 to +120 degrees; any further away and we would freeze; any nearer and we would be consumed by solar radiation. The blend of oxygen and nitrogen in the air is perfectly balanced for the support of life and the elements. Scientists will tell you that the ecology of our planet is so complex that, centuries later, they are still uncovering layered networks which point to intelligent design.

Tides that wash the beaches, oxygen that recycles, stars that sing, animals with innate behaviors, planets that rotate, water that flows upward against gravity, eyes that focus automatically and distinguish some seven million colors, blood that circulates throughout the body every minute, hearts that beat without outside stimulus; and the God that crafted every DNA strand, every atom, and every ocean, pushed ‘start’ and the spectrum of intricate systems He had spoken into existence began to operate accordingly. And then, God had a child.

It is understandable that people would be talking. The Prophet Isaiah declared, “For unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end….” (Isa.9:6-7 NIV). Micah wrote of the city of His birth, “But thou, Bethlehem, though you are little among the clans of Judah, out of you will come [the] ruler over Israel, whose origins are from … ancient times.” (Mic.5:2 KJV).

Against a backdrop of galaxies which He had orchestrated, all of creation must have waited with indefinable anticipation as the almighty Creator planned the arrival of His son. A star led wise men from the East to see the baby and to worship Him. Surely they would witness luxurious opulence and worldwide fanfare. Can you imagine their surprise when the star stopped beside a hotel, and hovered over the barn? When they peered inside, they beheld “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation….for whom all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:15-16).

In purity and simplicity, the Beloved Son was born on the planet created by His Father. At last, a new star had appeared in Israel.

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Christ the Solid Rock

Edward Mote was raised by atheist parents. As an adult he remarked, “So ignorant was I that I did not know that there was a God.” At 18 years old, however, he heard the gospel and was baptized. At 55, he began his first Baptist pastorate in Sussex, England.

During his lifetime he wrote more than 100 hymns, some of which have become standards in our churches and, more importantly, in our hearts. Here is my favorite:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name

On Christ the Solid Rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest in His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
(Refrain)

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way,
He, then, is all my hope and stay
(Refrain)

When He shall come with trumpet sound
O, may I then in Him be found!
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
(Refrain)

Amen and amen!

Blessings to you all,

Janet

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