By Katherine Makinney
By Ray Agnew
By Corbin Hodges
By Christine

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By Katherine Makinney
(c) 2001 Katherine Makinney, all rights reserved

some kind of psalm

thank you that i'm enough,
that the curves and edges of my soul are yours
that you've fashioned some kind of miracle
from this flesh

I bow down in my heart
at the work of your hands
at the creation of a willow tree in the wind
i'm in awe at the touch of your breath on me

How hast thou made me
so delicately like the night air and the summer fields
you've worked in and out of my sight
to re create something of your land

And i praise you
and it's not even like these words
come from my mouth
they were formed long ago
before i was

There you were in the dawn of time
and after
your stillness eludes even
my imaginings
i don't know you; can't grasp all of you
but there you are--
your fingerprints on even my inmost being

Oh God i am but in pieces
not here, not there, i am not completed
my form takes shape inside
my heart reclines in your space
and yet in you, gently, at last.

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By Ray Agnew
(c) 2001 Ray Agnew, all rights reserved

Christmas was so magical this year. With kids at age six and age three it
was really something special. Tori, our six year old just truly believes in
Santa and that was fun. Our three year old, Zane, had his first really "with
it" Christmas in that he was getting vibes from sister so he was very
caught up in the entire thing, too. Gosh I wish I could stop them from

The season's magic - both in terms of the birth of our Savior and in the
wonder and love of children and family - was enhanced by an astonishing
experience I had with my six year old daughter, Tori. Her birthday is
December 16, and her big present was to go to NY City with dad to see
Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. We had a fabulous time!

Well, one of Tori's favorite movies is Miracle on 34th Street. So on the walk
back to Penn Station we scooted over to 34th to hit Macy's. When I told her
we were on 34th Street, her eyes got very large and she said, "like the
movie?? Where is the store!?" I pointed out Macy's and she said, "That's
where the REAL Santa meets children." I told her we'd stop and see if he
was there.

After waiting in a long winding line that runs through "Santa Land" it was
finally our turn. An elf guided us to meet Santa, and as we walked in I had
to gather myself quickly, mind racing with explanations. But Tori smiled a
huge smile, and went up to Santa with a big hug. She sat on his lap, and
this big jolly old Santa had her laughing in no time. She told him what she
wanted and then I sat down with the two of them for a photo. It was grand!

So why did I have to "gather myself?" Because this particular Santa was
an African American. Thinking I'd have to explain how Santa is all races to
all children and how next time he might be Indian, or Chinese, it was me --
the 43 year-old -- who was caught short. Tori -- beautiful, beaming and
believing -- didn't bat an eye or question for one moment that this Santa
was the real Santa. And she shows everyone the photo saying, "Look --
daddy and I had our picture taken with the REAL Santa."

If I could preserve that moment and share it with the entire planet I think
folks would realize that the innocence of youth -- with no learned
prejudices or biases -- is how we should all approach life. After all, the
first "Santas" were wise men from the east bearing gifts for our Lord from
their homelands. They were a menagerie of races and beliefs, yet united
in their search for Christ, their search for life, salvation, and the good that
can be achieved if only we would allow ourselves.

I am so thankful for the lesson taught me this year by my daughter.

* * * * * * * *

By Corbin Hodges
(c) 2001 Corbin Hodges, all rights reserved

Missing Person

You danced into my life,
and you called me by my name.
When I realized the difference,
my life was not the same.

While I was unaware of your presence,
yet your love is everlasting.
Searching long for my manhood,
"Child-like" was how you saw me.

* * * * * * * *

By Christine
2001 Christine, all rights reserved

During those transitional periods of life it is often difficult to understand
what the will of God might be for us, much less fulfill it. I have been in the
midst of one of those transitional periods for the last four years now and
have been desperately trying to discern, and, yes, manipulate, the will of
God for my career. I had been pretty certain that God's will for my life
entailed my becoming a psychologist since I had uneventfully completed
my master's and doctoral programs in clinical psychology and several

But the turning point came as I was writing my doctoral dissertation. After
spending several months researching the topic on which I was to
collaborate with a professor of mine, I completely - and I do mean
completely - lost interest in this area of research. My curiosity just dried
up and evaporated into thin air. I knew I could not spend the next two
years dedicated to this project. Big time desperation set in and I was
miserable for the next couple of months, wondering how I was going to
get myself out of this dilemma.

But then early one morning, by the grace of God, I was given a special
dream in which I was blissfully writing my dissertation - on the broad
topic of Christian spirituality and psychological theory. Now, to give you
some background here, my first love (stemming from my Christian
college days) was the integration of spirituality and psychology. But
somehow I had gotten away from the spiritual aspect of psychology after
marrying a psychiatrist and having two children. To make matters worse,
the graduate school I was attending at the time of this dream was run by
and filled with wonderful, but Jewish, administration, professors and
students. The academic atmosphere of the school was psychoanalytically
and not spiritually inclined. Regardless of all that, after
waking up from this dream in an atypically wonderful state of mind,
I could not write on anything other than this topic and I felt tremendous
relief that God was leading me toward a much richer use of my
psychological background. So, again, by the grace of God I convinced my
dissertation committee to let me research the spiritual conflicts which
sometimes result from early familial-relational conflicts. I did this

But this does not end the saga of "not my will but thine." For two years I
worked on this dissertation, every day falling more in love with this new
desire of my heart. I so fell in love with the whole spiritual-psychological
realm again that I kept praying God would open a door for me to use this
research in my next practice, because all of my previous environments
had been secular in nature. I became increasingly committed to the
centrality of spiritual growth to emotional growth.

For two years I gladly wrote my dissertation while working in a
community clinic, thinking God would surely open the doors for me to
use my research to best advantage after my dissertation was approved. But
that didn't happen. Doors did not open as a result of my prayers. So I
did whatever I could to open them myself, both in secular and Christian
environments - to no avail. Talk about feeling like a failure. I wrestled
with God, imagining how Jacob must have felt wrestling with that angel.
Or how Joseph might have felt, imprisoned unjustly for years. My angry
questions and accusations were constant. Why had God given me an
education and a new passion only to forget about me and leave me
sitting on the shelf? Why hadn't I just stayed with the traditional practice
of psychology? What did I do wrong that God is punishing me? These
were my questions for the last two years, scared to death God had
abandoned and betrayed me.

In my more lucid moments, however, I remembered how God had
already richly blessed me. He had blessed me with a good husband,
two healthy kids and a gratifying educational experience. I remembered
how, unbeknownst to me, God had worked behind the scenes to answer
my prayer (for years) that God would guide me in marriage. My husband
of 20 years is well-suited to my (more volatile) personality. Then, I was
fearful I could not get pregnant for a time, and now have two healthy
children. Later, I feared I could not withstand the rigors of a Ph.D.
program, but God blessed me with the desire of my heart again. After
years of prayer, God helped me let go of my anger toward my mother,
healing that relationship - something I thought would never happen.
God already had a proven track record with me. How could I not trust Him
anymore? When you have had a long relationship with God, you can't
just give it up. It becomes ingrained in our deepest selves.

Even when I sometimes wished I didn't have this faith so my life wouldn't
be torn, I realized that stubborn faith is a gift. It makes us plow through
the difficult times knowing deep down that God wants to give us more
than we expect or ask for. Because of God's track record so far, I knew
He was guiding my career life this time, again behind the scenes where
I could not see. Possibly the doors are not opening right now because I
have a greater responsibility to my two newly teenage kids. Maybe my
fears that history will repeat itself have contributed to my staying at home
for now, because it was at this same developmental stage that my own
family of origin fell apart, never to recover, due to drugs in the '60's. I
don't know. Isaiah 55 reminds us "The Lord says: 'My thoughts and my
ways are not like yours. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
my thoughts and my ways are higher than yours.'"

Then I "stumbled" upon the latest book of one of my favorite spiritual
writers, Philip Yancey's "Reaching for the Invisible God." His writing is
special to me because he does not hide the fact he is one who
questions and believes that God is strong enough to endure our honest
questions. But what jumped out at me this time was his account of
Walter Ciszek's life in Ciszek's book, "He Leadeth Me." For those of you
not familiar with this story, Ciszek, a priest from Pennsylvania, so wanted
to be used of God he volunteered to serve in Soviet Russia, despite its
strongly atheistic atmosphere. To his dismay, Ciszek was sent to Poland
instead and served there for several years until war broke out when
Hitler's armies invaded Poland. At this point, Ciszek sneaked into
Russia among other refugees, thinking at last his prayers to serve in
Russia had been answered. Shortly thereafter, however, the Soviet
secret police arrested Ciszek for "spying" and put him in prison for five
years, much of that time in solitary confinement. These were the
questions Ciszek struggled with "day and night:" What had he done
wrong to end up here and deserve such punishment? How could he
possibly serve as a priest in solitary confinement? He believed God had
called him to be a priest, yet what good was all his training if he wasn't
going to use it? To make matters worse, when Ciszek didn't completely
cooperate with the demands of the secret police, he was further
sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in Siberia.

Surprisingly, it was in the Gulag, where he endured bitter cold and
14-hour work days, Ciszek was able to fulfill his calling as a priest to
those around him. But first he had to confront some harsh realities. He
had felt betrayed by God because his calling to the priesthood had not
followed the career path he had envisioned. The conditions he faced
were not of his choosing. The tools with which he previously worked
(theological or inspirational books) were non-existent. In his book Ciszek
states he learned to accept God's will "not as we might wish it, or as we
thought in our poor human wisdom it ought to be [but rather as] the
twenty-four hours of each day: the people, the places, the circumstances
he set before us in that time."

Yancey sums up, in his usual adept way, Ciszek "realized he had always
approached life with an expectation of what God's will should be, and
assumed God would help him fulfill that. Instead, he had to learn to
accept as God's will the actual situations he faced each day, most of
which lay outside of his control. Ciszek's vision narrowed to a twenty-four
hour time frame&Mac183;When he chose consciously to abandon himself to
God's will, Ciszek knew he was crossing a boundary of trust he had
always feared. When he finally did cross it, however, 'the result was a
feeling not of fear but of liberation.'"

After reading Ciszek's account, and identifying with it so intimately, I
could only "abandon" my will to God's. Struggling with unanswered
questions at some point becomes too heavy a burden and that is the
time to let go. Yes, we do what we can to make things happen but
sometimes God wants to take us in a totally different direction. At these
times it can be liberating to trust God in only 24-hour increments. At this
point I look back on what God's track record with me has been and trust
that He has not forgotten me. Focusing on ministry as occurring in
24-hour increments has helped me to make myself available to others,
in the name of God, more often. That does not mean my long-term goals
are forgotten - they are not. But those goals may manifest themselves
differently now. I am trusting that, as in the past, God is working behind
the scenes right now to bring about whatever is His will. And up to now,
that will has proven to beat my expectations. I find encouragement in
Philippians 2:13: "For it is God which works in you both to will and to do
of His good pleasure."

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Except where otherwise noted, (c) copyright 1999-2001 Destiny Music, Inc. All rights reserved.