When Decorations Come Down

I do love to decorate. I love fussing with little things and placing them in the exact place they fit. I love seeing the transformation of our home.

I really do not like taking down and putting away decorations. Especially the putting away part. It’s tedious and frustrating.

Yesterday I finished un-decorating our living room. It looks bare. Empty. Plain. Our banister going up the stairs is empty. No garland, no ornaments, just a handrail on the steps.

As I look at this, I remind myself of when we first looked at our home. It was really empty then. No furniture, in need of paint (still is in many rooms), but we fell in love with our home. It was perfect! It was an answer to our prayers. It was our dream home. It still is.

There is a spiritual lesson here for me also. When I came to Jesus, I was in great need. My marriage was crumbling. I was in a foreign country. I was away from family and friends. I felt alone and lonely. Sometimes the Lord allows you to get to the bottom of yourselves so that all you have left is to look up.

In this state, plain, empty, lacking any hope, I looked up. The Lord was there, ready to transform my life. I came to Him empty and plain. He gave me decorations. First, He gave me hope. He gave me peace. He cleaned my insides and decorated me with His Holy Spirit. My smile returned. I was renewed, washed in His presence, in His love. He decorated me for His kingdom.

Since that time, there have been seasons where I have tried to hide things in my life, like He isn’t aware of my every action and thought. I have decorated myself in self righteousness. I have placed pride in just the right spots. I have boasted of things that were petty.

Eventually I realize the season is over and I allow Him to un-decorate me. He removes the pride, the boasting, the world from me, but instead of carefully wrapping it up and placing it in storage, He takes it and throws it into the deepest pit, where I cannot retrieve it.

God is faithful, even when I am not. He is always there beside me. Each day is new. Each day I attempt to keep the day focused on Him. Some days it’s a cinch, others a fleeting thought will remind how little I have been in touch with my Creator. No matter what the day turns out to be, I know that He is decorator and He is also the One who will remove the extra garland and tinsel I have put on to cover up my bare spots.

” Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Hebrew 13:8 (KJV)

Veteran’s Day

“Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.” Psalm 144:1 (NLT)

When I was in high school I would participate in selling poppies on Veteran’s Day. They weren’t real poppies, but little red flowers that were poppies.

I would stand in front of a store downtown, with poppies in one hand and a can in the other. People passing by would stop, give a donation and take a poppy. Older men would stop, and devoutly take a flower and lovingly put the flower in their lapel.

At the time, I thought it was a weird thing to do, but as I was in a community serving group, we would do this for the local VFW. Some years it was pleasant, and some years the bitter November air would rush down Seneca Street chilling you to the bone.

I knew my Dad and my uncles were all veterans. They all served in the war. They each had stories, that were talked about briefly to each other. There were also hushed tones when they remembered their brother who passed from war wounds.

They were referred to as the greatest generation. To me, as one in high school, I did not realize or understand the depth of what they experienced or endured.

I neglected to ask questions as I didn’t think it was important. I have my Dad’s papers from his time in the service. An uncle who was in the Navy gave me some memorabilia from his time in Subic Bay. As a Navy wife at the time, he felt I would enjoy them. I do.

Veterans write a check with their lives at some point. They serve, they give and they sacrifice. I was broken in easily when I married my sailor. We were together, with no deployments for the first few years of our marriage. We explored the places we went.

We explored Japan, we had our time together to see places my uncles fought against. We lived in occupation era housing along with the bugs and rats and brick bathtubs. We relished each day we were together. I began to understand the military.

It wasn’t until the early 80’s that I began to truly realize what sacrifice and deployment meant.

This photo taken the day Dale returned after eight and a half months, sealed forever what sacrifice is. Not just for the veteran, but, for the families. His expression at seeing his daughter after such a long time brings tears to my eyes still. I was standing out of view with our youngest in my arms. It was his first meeting his baby girl who was five months old.

In case I might have forgotten the meaning of what a veteran is, our daughter, pictured above became a Navy wife. She endured several deployments with a baby, like her Mom. He is now a Veteran. Having served honorably and sacrificed much, he is celebrating his second Veteran’s Day.

We owe a debt to these brave men and women. They have accomplished things that we will never hear about. They will talk to brothers in arms with the same hushed tones that my uncles did.

Today and for the next couple of days I will remember my Dad, my uncles, knowing what they accomplished on the fields in World War II. I will once more look at Dale and see that young man who swept me off on a life of adventure, and I will pray for my son in law as he continues to adjust to civilian life.

Warriors sign a blank check. The world and powers write what is owed. Our Savior understands what these men and women accomplished, as He too, came down to earth to pay the ultimate price that we may be saved. Today, look around you and truly see what is surrounding you. Freedom comes at a very high price.


My full name is Mary Catherine. If you count my Confirmation name from the Catholic church my name is Mary Catherine Anne. My family has always called me Cathi, well, actually they called me Cathy until I went into my freshman year of high school and I changed the spelling of my name to Cathi. I thought it was fun and cute, never thought it would stick and now I am a 67 year old with a cutesy name… it’s like I need to make certain I have a cute little heart or flower when I write the ‘i’ at the end. In jest, some people have called me Cat-hi.

The nuns always called me either Mary or Mary Catherine. I still have some friends from elementary school who will occasionally refer to me as Mary Catherine.

In middle school, since I was taller than most of the class, I was called Stilts and Jolly Green Giant, sometimes Wilt (the Stilt). But, with age, I no longer claim such titles.

Dale calls me Kate or Katie and sometimes by my maiden name, McCarthy.

Each of us have a variety of names that we are known by. Some are pet names, some are full names, and some are the all important names of Mom, or Grammy. The point being, we answer to many names, each special, each individual, each with meaning.

Our God has many names also. We are all familiar with the common names, God, Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, our Savior, Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost. These are the names most referred to describe God. God is also Abba (Father), God the Son, and again, God the Holy Spirit.

Apart from these there are compound names of God that each mean a particular aspect of God. For the next few days I am going to write about these compound names of God and what they mean to me.

Let’s start with Jehovah-Rohi, The Lord is my Shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1(NKJV) This psalm talks about the Lord leading us to lie down in safety and provides for our needs, how He protects us and shields us. It is a comforting psalm for us. It allows us to see what the Lord, my Shepherd does.

In Luke 15:4-7, it tells us, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” (NKJV)

I love this passage, as it talks about not only Jesus being my Shepherd, He is also my Savior. This description of going and searching for a lost sheep is what He did for me. He saw me as I was heading down paths that were dangerous and not life giving. He found me and picked me up.

A shepherd puts a lamb or sheep on his shoulders so that the lamb can hear the shepherd’s voice. It is during this time the lamb learns to hear what he needs to hear. He is held closely to the shepherd and learns from him. His rod and his staff are used to correct lambs.

The Lord is my Shepherd, Jehovah-Rohi, I have experienced the Lord in this way. He sought me, found me, picked me up and held me. I learned His voice and experienced His shepherding. He has provided for me, a place to lay my head, a place to rest, a place to be nourished. I do fear no evil, because He is with me, protecting and guiding me. I have had to be tutored with God’s rod and staff. I have been corrected because God is my shepherd.

I am still learning all that Jehovah-Rohi is to me. Sheep are stubborn animals and not the smartest. We, as Christians are sheep, He is our Shepherd. He will continue to provide, train and correct me in safety and security until the day that we are with Him forever.

A New Day

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

As I write this on Easter Monday, April 18th, my mind is filled with many thoughts.

First, the day after Jesus rose from the grave, I imagine the joy and smiles on the faces of those closest to Jesus here on earth. The feeling of dread and doom that had filled them was now replaced with wonder and expectation. What was next for these men and women? They had witnessed so much in three years and now another twist in their adventure with Jesus.

Forty five years ago this evening, Dale and I made a commitment to follow Jesus. We both knew Him, heard the sermons and felt like we were pretty good. Our marriage was not only on the rocks, it was wrecked. We argued most of the time and around 6:30 p.m. on this day, we decided that we would divorce. He would stay in Japan, obviously, and I determined that I would go to San Francisco with our dog and start over.

A half hour later saw one of us asking the other what the marriage needed. The answer, “A relationship with Jesus Christ”. These were words neither of us expected. But, we looked at one another, knowing it was the truth. We went to our bedroom, knelt down and prayed together. When we finished praying we looked at one another and we knew that something had changed. We looked with eyes of love, hope and commitment.

On April 19th, 1977 I woke up different. I still looked the same, I was still the same person, but there was a deep change within. I opened up the blinds in our bedroom and looked out. The same four quad-plex buildings surrounded the grassy courtyard, but it appeared the sun shone brighter. Everything was brighter. I felt cleansed, more clean than you feel after showering, it was a deep clean. I guess the way I felt is how your home looks after a deep cleaning. The house glistens. The floors are polished, the furniture dust free, the windows clear, and fresh smells abound. That is the way I felt on the 19th of April, 1977.

Like the disciples the day after Christ arose, I was filled with anticipation, expectation and joy.

 “Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer captive to sin’s demands! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.

That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God. ” Romans 6:6-14 (MSG)

Have I looked at each day like that first? No, but when I stop and quiet myself I still recognize that difference. My whole being shouts to me to be expectant and anticipate what the Lord is going to do today. Each morning is filled with the promise and assurance that God is in control. Nothing is going to happen to me that will take God off of His throne of grace, He is not wringing His perfect hands in worry. He has a plan for my life and yours.