Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

This afternoon I ran across an old letter to my son Erik in my computer, written over a dozen years ago. Reading it reminded me how I wound up writing an article later based on that correspondence. Today I’d like to reprint the article to encourage any overwhelmed homeschool parents out there. Here it is:

Home schooling our children was such a rewarding experience that by the end of each school year, I was willing to do it another year. The beginning of each school year was a different story, though. Every year frustration took over as I faced the task of setting up the new school year. I felt overwhelmed, drowning in details — all those books to look through, subjects to plan, music lessons and sports activities to schedule, a house to manage, a home school support group to lead, and on and on…

Then one year, in the middle of the annual mess, I read the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible. As I read, it struck me that Genesis 1 not only says God created the earth, it also describes the creative process. For in the beginning, God started with a giant massiveness that was “without form.”  It was empty and covered in darkness. That sounded just like what I faced at the beginning of each school year! (more…)


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Last week I talked with a friend of mine who has an adult daughter with special needs. Some unsavory people took advantage of her daughter, who has been hospitalized. My friend is a Christian, and she was struggling with the ferocity of her rage. “I feel like a Mother Bear: ‘Don’t get near my cubs!’” she said. “I want to go and beat up people. I just want to get revenge on the people who have hurt my daughter. Is it wrong to be so angry?”

I told her that I believe it is right to be angry at the things that make God angry.

Our culture is offended at the idea of a God of wrath and judgment, especially a God who would become enraged at us. Yet at the same time, we all long for a God who will right the wrongs that upset us. That’s why we like Superman so much. He has power. He gets mad at injustice, and he does something about it. We really want God to get angry and do something about people who rape children. We want God to get mad and swoop in to rescue vulnerable people like my friend’s daughter. And the Bible says that the real God does this – in His own way, in His own time, and with incredible power. God gets angry.

This blog post could proceed at this point, I suppose, to discuss free will and original sin and why God doesn’t always swoop in like Superman, in the way and with the speed that we think He should. But I just want to talk about a mother’s pain and anger. Or anybody’s pain and anger. People do things that deeply hurt us or those we love. Things that may not necessarily be illegal, but things that are cruel and unfair. And we get angry. We want revenge. We want to get back. A lot of Christians think we’re not supposed to want those things – or feel that way. After all, “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord. “I will repay.” And didn’t Jesus say we are supposed to turn the other cheek?

So what does that mean? Pretend it didn’t happen? Swallow your rage? (more…)

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This week I decided why the women in my church kiss the air instead of each other when they greet.

I attend Alfa y Omega, a Spanish language church in nearby Anthony, Texas, a small, working class town of 5-6,000 people, but growing. Rents are cheap. A lot of recent immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Central America, live here – not too many Anglos like me. Since the culture of people in my church is in many ways very different from the culture I grew up in, I’m always trying to figure out the customs and the why behind them.

When I walk into Alfa y Omega, even if I’m late and the service has started, people usually greet me. They stretch out their right hand as I pass their pew. “Dios la bendiga,” they say, “¿Como está?” (“God bless you. How are you?”) The men shake my hand. Women who don’t know me well also shake hands, but if a woman knows me a little better, she shakes my hand and leans her upper body forward. I do the same. Then she lays her right cheek flat against my right cheek, and we kiss the air.

I notice that when the men greet each other they shake hands and they often hug as well. And if a man is greeting a woman he knows well, he leans in and kisses her – her check, not the air. None of this Anglo “Hi, Mom!” stuff. When a man sees his mother or his sister in public, he gives her a big kiss. Smack on the cheek. But if a woman sees her mother or sister, they rub cheeks and kiss air.

One of the first things I learned when I started going to this church was the importance of acknowledging people’s presence, of greetings, of hellos and good-byes that pronounce a blessing with words and with touch. I grew up in the Midwest. I was raised to get things done. So when I first started going to this church, I walked in exuding purpose and direction. I had my goal: find a place to sit (hopefully next to someone who could translate), try to hear Spanish, immerse, learn the language. But my progress was impeded by all these gentle greetings, all this blessing and affirmation.


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My friend Ruth Tsai told me recently that when her 82-year-old American mother came to the U.S. from mainland China in the 1970s after living in China for more than 40 years, it took her mother a while to learn to drop her China habits. She was so accustomed to living in an anti-Christian terrorist state that she wouldn’t say God’s name. When she referred to God, she would silently lift her index finger and point to heaven.

“People must have thought this old lady is half crazy,” Ruth said. “Why won’t she say ‘Jesus’ or ‘our Heavenly Father’ or ‘God?’” (more…)

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I was revising an old poem today and decided I’d post it. Here it is:

Smashing Pots

In darkness Gideon stood
above the conqueror’s camp
with his few men.
Each gripped a horn
in his right hand,
while in his left
he held an earthen pot.
And each pot hid a torch.

The signal came.

They blew their horns,
and shouted victory;
they smashed their pots,
and glory blazed;
they shattered brittle clay,
they lit the night
and threw their captors into panic
by the sudden noise and light.

And what a bargain
those men made!
And what a modest price
they paid for victory!
They traded broken pots…
for peace,
a pile of shattered shards…
for liberty.

I have pots, too —
my expectations
What I Want —
my earthly things.

Am I in another battle
that requires
a shattering?

© Becky Cerling Powers 1999

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Faith Journey is the Chinese translation of my upcoming book Laura's Children: the Hidden Story of a Chinese Orphanage

Faith Journey is the Chinese translation of my upcoming book Laura's Children: the Hidden Story of a Chinese Orphanage

A day to celebrate! Monday I received a few copies of my new book translated into Chinese. The English language title is Laura’s Children: the Hidden Story of a Chinese Orphanage. The Chinese title is Faith Journey: Laura Richards and the Orphans of Canaan Home in China. It’s ironic that the Chinese translation wound up being printed ahead of the English original.

Laura Richards was my mom’s quiet, shy first cousin, and I grew up hearing stories about how she started an orphanage in China in 1929 and how the Communist government forced her to leave the children in 1951.

A glimpse of Laura’s remarkable, hidden tale of wild adventure fell into my keeping in 1983, two years after she died at age 88, in a collection of her memoirs and old letters, plus notes from my Aunt Jean’s interviews with her. Reading these, I decided to try to find out Laura’s story. At first I thought I’d just try to get the story for my children, but as I worked, and as Laura’s story began to change my thinking and my life, I decided that I needed to write the story for a larger audience. Eventually my search led me to the orphans themselves, inside China. Faith Journey  6-09 book only Altogether it took 24 years to get the information I needed to tell Laura’s story fully.

I am hoping to publish Laura’s Children and have it available by late fall or early January.

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A number of years ago I set aside a morning to ask God to give me a faith vision for my writing. How should I pray for my writing? Where should I focus? I felt the Lord directed my attention to Psalm 90. So over the next weeks I memorized this psalm, and I have meditated (reflected) on it through the years in the process of reviewing and reciting it.

Right away I noticed that it ended with this benediction: “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us, yes, establish the work of our hands.” That was what I wanted. I wanted the work of my hands – the articles and books I scribbled and typed – to have staying power, to be a positive influence to people not only today but in the future.

Then I found out that the man who wrote these words was an astonishingly famous writer: Moses, one of most widely read, most widely translated, best selling authors of all time. This man wrote or dictated the first five books of the Bible. These books, and this psalm, have been translated into thousands of languages.

Lastly it dawned on me that this remarkable prayer by this remarkable man was answered over and over again. People have been reading Moses’ works for over 3000 years in every corner of this planet. Entire civilizations have been built upon his writings. Truly the favor of the Lord rested on him. Truly God established the work of his hands.

So I began to call Psalm 90 “The Writer’s Psalm.” It’s a great psalm for writers from one of the greatest writers of all time. But it could also be called “The Parent’s Psalm,” because don’t we parents want the love and labor we expend on our kids to endure through generations? It could also be called “The Builder’s Psalm” or “The Artist’s Psalm” or the “The Scientist’s Psalm.” Really it is a psalm for anyone who wants to leave behind a positive legacy.


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