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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Give Thanks


By Kathy Graumann

November 7, 2012


Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

First Thessalonians 5:18


Our Heavenly Father created a perfect world, a world that was flawless, without sin or shame. When mankind chose to sin, our Father’s world became corrupted. Yet, our Father loved mankind and sent His Son to redeem us. In the midst of the turmoil and pain our sin has caused, our Father beseeches us to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

“In all circumstances,” He commands. Even when Hurricane Sandy destroys my home or when a United States ambassador has been murdered by terrorists? Even when I have lost my job or the farmland is dry and parched? Does God call me to obey His command to give thanks even when cancer invades my body or dementia overtakes a parent or when my candidate is defeated in the national election?

Our Father did not say, “…in most circumstances” give thanks; instead, He commanded, “…in all circumstances” give thanks. Obeying God’s command to give thanks is a choice He alone empowers us to make.

Even when I am in pain and the world about me is in turmoil, even when our religious liberty is threatened and infringed upon, I know that my Father has everything in His control, even when I cannot perceive it. I know that He loves me perfectly and that every situation and event in my life is filtered through Him for my best. I can walk through troubles with quiet confidence in God’s sovereignty and divine purpose for everything He allows. Every frustration, every disappointment, every spiritual battle, and—yes, every joy in our lives—has a purpose and is used by our Father to refine us, to produce within us godly character, to draw us closer to Himself, and to fulfill His unique plan for our lives.

The poem, “The Tapestry of My Life,” expresses these truths:

My life is but a weaving

Between my Lord and me.

I cannot choose the colors

He works so steadily.


Oft times He weaves in sorrow

And I, in foolish pride,

Forget He sees the upper

And I, the underside.


Not ‘til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly,

Will God unroll the tapestry,

And explain the reason why.


The dark threads are as needed

In the Weaver’s skillful hand,

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned.


Let us, therefore, with joy, give thanks to our God and Father in all circumstances.


Dear Father, we, who call ourselves Christian, come to You today, humbling ourselves before Your holiness. Where we have each personally sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, we ask for Your forgiveness. Where we, as a nation, have dishonored You and rejected what You value, forgive us. Cause the people of this great country, especially those who are called by Your name, to turn from sin and seek Your face. You call us, Lord, to give thanks in all circumstances. We choose to obey You. Your purposes are good, and we know that You have control over all things. Transform our anxiety into peace that passes all understanding. Your goal is to accomplish what is best for us in our lives. You work for our eternal good, for our eternal, sustaining joy. Thank You for the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross.  Thank You for being the Light shining in a dark and desperate world. Thank You, Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Honor the Military

In the United States, Veterans Day annually falls on November 11. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The armistice ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be "filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.” Veterans Day is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It is marked by parades and church services and, in many places, the American flag is flown at half-mast. A period of silence lasting two minutes may be held at 11 AM.

In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. The Congress also requested that the president should issue a proclamation calling upon officials to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved on May 13, 1938, that made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States. American forces also fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans’ service organizations urged Congress to change the word "Armistice" to "Veterans". Congress approved this change, and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.

Honor Our Military

Let's honor our military,
The men and women who serve,
Whose dedication to our country
Does not falter, halt or swerve.

Let's respect them for their courage;
They're ready to do what's right
To keep America safe,
So we can sleep better at night.

Let's support and defend our soldiers,
Whose hardships are brutal and cruel,
Whose discipline we can't imagine,
Who follow each order and rule.

Here's to those who choose to be warriors
And their helpers good and true;
They're fighting for American values;
They're fighting for me and you.

By Joanna Fuchs


Friday, October 26, 2012

Exercise Your Right to Vote

We are blessed to have the privilege to vote in the upcoming election. This election just may be one of the most important elections in our nation’s history. We will have the distinct privilege to act upon our spiritual and moral obligations in this election. The commitment and courage of people of faith can restore truth and morality to our land through the power of prayer and the exercise of our freedom to choose godly leaders who will govern according to Christian principles.

Many of our forebears left their homeland so they could practice their faith without persecution. Being free—not only to worship, but also to live according to the teachings of their faith—was a driving force in their decision to uproot their families and establish themselves in America. In recent months, our government has taken steps that many believe infringe upon religious liberty. As we are on the cusp of national, state, and local elections, it is important to become informed citizens who follow our consciences and sound reason to support candidates, legislation, and social and political efforts that would improve society and safeguard our religious liberty.

Our nation was founded on Biblical values. In 1776, the members of the Continental Congress called for a day of prayer believing that “by sincere repentance and amendment of life,” they might “appease God’s righteous displeasure and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain pardon and forgiveness.” In 1863, Abraham Lincoln stated that “it behooves us to humble ourselves before the offended Power to confess our national sins and to pray to the God who made us.” The Holy Scriptures records this promise of God in Second Chronicles 7:14, “If My people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Dr. Billy Graham stated, “We need to pray that God will give us officials in the White House and in Congress who will give moral leadership to our country, men and women who fear God and will turn the eyes of American back to Him.”

In the remaining days before the election, I encourage you to pray for our country, our leaders, those who serve in the armed forces, and for all those who work to preserve freedom, peace, and justice. Educate yourself about the issues facing our country and the positions of those running for elected office. Participate fully in the political process, and let your leaders know the issues that are important to you. Engage in respectful, informed discussion with family and friends, and be sure to exercise your right to vote.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An Acrostic Poem, Lighten Up!

The new school year 2012 - 2013 has begun at Salem Lutheran School in Tomball, Texas. Even after serving for 42 years as an educator, I still begin each new school year with fresh enthusiasm. I love teaching! I especially delight in introducing young eager minds to a love of words and how words can be knit together in a multitude of ways to express thoughts and feelings, relate events, and tell stories.

During these first few weeks of school, I have exposed my students to acrostic poetry, cinquain poetry, and haiku poetry. Students are writing about experiences and concepts with which they are acquainted. They are also writing about Salem's theme for the year, Lighten Up!, and preparing verses for the upcoming Veterans' Day celebration.

Below is an acrostic poem written on the SLS theme verse, Isaiah 60:1 -- "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."

Live in the light of Christ's love,
Inspiring others through
Generous giving of one's self and resources,
Thanking God for
Every blessing from His gracious hand,
Under-estimating God's lavish
Providence and provision.

Monday, August 20, 2012

­­Purified by Adversity

Bible Verse:

Psalm 119:71 (ESV) – “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”

Additional Bible Reading:

James 1:2-4 (ESV) – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”


Depression has typically been my first response to the fires of adversity. Unpleasant words and actions sear deeply into my soul leaving painful scars. Even when the flames of adversity roar about me, I know that God is still actively present, caring for me in all circumstances and allowing the upheaval in my life to accomplish a greater purpose. When I suffer the consequences of my own sinful choices, I know that God is lovingly permitting the winds of adversity to burn away my imperfections and supply a quality I lack so that I can become spiritually mature, purified for his purposes. As I renew my intimacy with God, I trust his promise to never leave me or forsake me.


Dear Father, when the fires of adversity cause upheaval in my life, strengthen my faith in your good purposes and renew my trust in your promises.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Consider your own response to adversity. Does it draw you into greater intimacy with God?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Facing Adversity


Bible Verse:

Isaiah 55:8, 9 (ESV) – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Additional Bible Reading:

Romans 8:28


 In our fallen world, bad things happen to people who do good things. The Aurora, Colorado, movie theater tragedy of July 2012 is a riveting example of this truth. When sin came into the world, suffering accompanied it. Our own foolish choices cause heartache.  Satan plots to destroy our lives and our Christian testimony, attempting to render us useless for God’s purposes in this life. For those who place their trust in God, we know that every adversity that befalls us has been sent or allowed by God to achieve his good purposes. In his love for us, he has the power to take every adversity and use it to grow us in faith, transforming us into the image of Christ.

Dear Father, in the midst of adversity, strengthen my faith in your good purposes.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Reflect upon a time of adversity in your past when God used it for his good purposes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tell Me a Story

Bible Verse:
Psalm 102:18 (ESV) – “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.”

Additional Bible Reading:

Psalm 71:18, 19; Deuteronomy 32:7


Invariably, one of my six precious grandchildren will ask what life was like for me when I was a child. I treasure these moments, because they give me the opportunity to share with them God’s watch care throughout my life.­­­­­­­ To recount the mighty works of God with my grandchildren is a high priority for me, for it is a high priority for God. During these sacred moments of remembering how God has faithfully intervened in my life in the past and has kept his promises to me, faith in God is nurtured in my grandchildren and confidence for their future is strengthened. “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. Psalm 77:11 (ESV)”

Dear Father, thank you for your faithfulness that endures to all generations, for your steadfast love that never ceases, and for your mercies that never come to an end. Help me convey these stories to others so that they may be connected more closely to you. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Share with a young person a personal story from your past that demonstrates God’s faithfulness to you.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Serving Christ in all Circumstances

Bible Verse:

Colossians 3:23, 24 (ESV) – “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Additional Bible Readings:

Galatians 5:13


Throughout my mother’s life, serving others in the name of Jesus was her lifestyle. She has experienced personal joy meeting the needs of others through loving and encouraging words and deeds performed for God’s glory and honor. Even with a diagnosis of multi-focal dementia, I am confident that God will continue to use my mother as a vessel for His purposes and that his Spirit will be poured into her daily as a blessing to all who are touched by her life. Though her impact may no longer be as obvious or appear as fruitful, I trust that God will achieve his purposes and be glorified through her.

Even in our weakness, God can accomplish his mighty works through us.

Dear Father, let your Spirit work through me and provide me with all I need to serve you with a full heart all my life long.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Never allow your disability, weakness, or fears to discourage you from a willingness to be used by God for his glorious purposes.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

When My Parent Ages


Bible Verse:

Proverbs 23:22 (ESV) – Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Additional Bible Reading:

Exodus 20:12 (ESV) – Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.


The doctor’s assessment read, “Global dementia, likely vascular dementia, cannot rule out concomitant Alzheimer’s type dementia.” The medical report confirmed our haunting suspicion as my siblings and I had begun to witness the gradual loss of cognitive function of our intelligent mother, who had earned a doctorate degree in education. The troublesome diagnosis thrust us on a formidable journey with a growing group as “the number of Americans living in the United States as caregivers to someone with Alzheimer’s or a different type of dementia is fifteen million,” according to Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., with the Alzheimer’s Association. God is allowing my siblings and me to assume new responsibilities in the care of our mother, and he will not forsake us.


Dear Father, I ask for your wisdom to make decisions for my parents that honor them and glorify you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Examine choices for your aging parent. Consult with professionals and Christian friends who can walk the difficult journey with you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A New School Year Begins

As a new school year is about to begin, teachers, students, and parents are all busily preparing for a new term. Parents and students are shopping for school supplies and perhaps a new school wardrobe to accommodate the summer growth spurt. Teachers are busily studying the year’s curriculum, planning lessons, and decorating their classroom. Anxiety is rampant for each in different ways. Students are anxious about who their teacher is and if their teacher will “like” them; they worry about getting bullied by classmates. Teachers hope that their students will be respectful and attentive to instruction, that the relationships with their students’ parents will be beneficial to the learning process. Parents worry about their child’s teacher, the quality of instruction, and the classroom setting in which they hope their child will thrive. The following poem is from the perspective of a parent:

We held their hands the first day of school.
Our hearts were filled with pride.
There was an aura of fear and apprehension
As we stood close to their side.
We deposited our children at your door,
Our most precious and prized possessions.
We trusted that you would give them more
Then Reading and Writing lessons.
Our unspoken words were, give them self worth.
They are little children, respect their rights.
Teach them with love and remember compassion.
Use a firm hand to break up their fights.
As the years went by, you did us proud
With your guiding hand and understanding smile.
You gave much more than we expected.
That was your way, your undeniable style.
What higher tribute can we pay a teacher?
To what greater heights can he ascend?
Than to have his students praise his work,
And to say "He is my friend."
- Myrna Beth Lambert

This next poem, A Classroom, which I wrote, is a Noticing Poem that utilizes the refrain, I Know. A Noticing Poem focuses on sounds, smells, and words that use imagery so that the reader can picture something in his or her mind. As students, parents, and teachers all get ready to begin another school year, perhaps this Noticing Poem will help prepare you for that special first day.

I Know a Classroom... (sounds)
+ The quiet chatter of students conferring on a team project
+ The clicking of computer keys as students compose individual essays on their keyboards
+ The startling, piercing ring of the school bell announcing the end of class

I Know a Classroom... (smells)
+ The allergy-afflicting suffocation of airborne chalk dust
+ The gagging perspiration odors following afternoon recess
+ The heady intoxicating smell of permanent markers

I Know a Classroom... (words)
+ "Students, please take your seats."
+ "I forgot my homework."
+ "Great job, class."

I Know a Classroom...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Finding Contentment

Bible Verse: Philippians 4:4-13 (ESV) – “…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content…”

Additional Bible Readings:

II Corinthians 11:24-30; Romans 8:28


How would our family find contentment after learning that our mother was diagnosed with multi-focal dementia? The Apostle Paul knew how to experience contentment in all circumstances. He gave his anxieties to Jesus and received, in exchange, a peace that surpassed understanding. Paul’s contentment was governed by an inner attitude that drew its strength from God.

In our family’s new reality as we face an uncertain future, we can be confident that, while God did not cause our Mother’s condition, he has allowed it to accomplish a divine purpose. We submit to a trustworthy, loving God who has our best interests at heart. He will quiet our anxious spirits and give us the ability to respond as he would.

Dear Father, uphold us in the knowledge that You will never leave us or forsake us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Persevere in your circumstance knowing that God intends to accomplish good through it in your life.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Tribute to Nonnie

This past week Wayne and I accompanied Greta, Bryan, and Aurora to St. Louis for the funeral of Bryan's grandmother, Martha Flynn, a precious woman of faith. This is a poem I wrote in her honor, for she was dearly loved.


A wonderful woman is no longer with us,

Heaven’s now her glorious home;

Wicked cancer took our gracious Nonnie from us –

Her life’s revered, a sacred tome.

Nonnie blessed our lives richly with her gentleness,

Excellence, hospitality;

We applaud her skills in knitting, tennis, and bridge

Shared with infectious gaiety.

Nonnie touched children’s lives as a renowned teacher;

Her heart was filled with compassion.

She loved Tony, Pat, Bryan, Greta, and Rori,

Bob earned her devoted passion.

Nonnie’s funeral mass was a touching tribute

To an exceptional woman;

Hundreds of loved ones came to honor her; they stayed,

Prayed, and sang ‘til worship was done.

Beautiful music and words of Holy Scripture

Brought comfort to the hearts of all;

Family fellowship in the home of the Moore’s

Gave endearing closure to all.

We want to carry on the legacy she left:

Love for God, love for family,

A Christian lifestyle and joyful worship of God,

Kind to all, ever neighborly.

We thank God for His gift of Nonnie in our lives;

We’ll carry her love in our heart.

Our memories of her are precious and many –

The tears flow freely as we part.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Acrostic Poem: A Letter About Me

A writing assignment my students have enjoyed each year is the creation of an acrostic poem about themselves. The format I ask them to follow is this:

  • Use the letters of your first and last name down the left-hand side of your paper.
  • Use each letter to begin a short phrase to describe yourself.
  • Use descriptive adjectives and action verbs.
To assist my students, I provide an example of an acrostic poem, such as the following:

Kindness is an attribute of her character.
Adores the Lord Jesus with all of her heart and soul and mind.
Thankful for the gifts God has given to her, including travel opportunities.
Happy to be married to Wayne Graumann.
Yearns to have a fulfilling, productive, meaningful retirement.

Grandmothering is a joy for her.
Reaches to accomplish laudable goals.
Active member at Salem Lutheran Church of Rosehill in Tomball, Texas.
Ultimately will receive the crown of life through faith in Jesus Christ, her Lord and Savior.
Music ministers to her soul and spirit.
Admires landscaped flower gardens and herbs.
Needs quiet time to write in order to maintain emotional equilibrium.
Nurturing others cultivates joy and contentment within her.

Friday, May 18, 2012

When My Parent Ages

When My Parent Ages

 Bible Verse:

Proverbs 23:22 (ESV) – Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Additional Bible Reading:

Exodus 20:12 (ESV) – Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.


The doctor’s assessment read, “Global dementia, likely vascular dementia, cannot rule out concomitant Alzheimer’s type dementia.” The medical report confirmed our haunting suspicion as my siblings and I had begun to witness the gradual loss of cognitive function of our intelligent mother, who had earned a doctorate degree in education. The troublesome diagnosis thrust us on a formidable journey with a growing group as “the number of Americans living in the United States as caregivers to someone with Alzheimer’s or a different type of dementia is fifteen million,” according to Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., with the Alzheimer’s Association. God is allowing my siblings and me to assume new responsibilities in the care of our mother, and he will not forsake us.
When Mom’s capacities diminish,

Wisdom and love are put to the test;

Choices available haunt our thoughts

As we seek to choose only what’s best.

Researching options consumes our days,

As we pray for peace and discernment,

Seeking to provide for all Mom’s needs

And, above all, that she be content.

It is difficult for the children

To assume responsibility

For the provision of loving care,

While escaping Mom’s hostility.

Father, we kneel before You in prayer;

You know the condition of our hearts,

The desire for what is best for Mom;

Reveal to us choices that are smart.

Cover us with grace as we proceed;

Remove our mother’s troubled spirit,

Cleanse her inner wounds; help her forgive;

Restore pleasure, gentleness, and wit.


Dear Father, I ask for your wisdom to make decisions for my parents that honor them and glorify you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Examine choices for your aging parent. Consult with professionals and Christian friends who can walk the difficult journey with you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Know a Hospital Room

One of the creative exercises I have encouraged my students to practice is the development of a "Noticing Poem" utilizing the refrain, "I Know." The poem is designed to recognize sights, sounds, smells, touch, and words. The topic is to be about something they have done or experienced.

Since I have recently experienced the death of a dear friend, I chose to write about the experience of participating in a service of commendation at the hospital bedside of my friend as she was commended into the everlasting arms of Jesus.

I Know a Hospital Room (sights)
  • The soft, puddled, loving eyes of a devoted husband that appear to tenderly caress his wife as she lies sleeping
  • Children and grandchildren hovered round her bed
  • Tears spilling from the eyes of loved ones
  • Wide-eyed somber-faced, serious countenances upon the faces of family and close friends
  • Instruments and IV's hooked up to my friend's body
  • Hands folded and heads bowed in prayer
  • Supportive tender embraces
  • The pastor making the sign of the cross on the patient's forehead and on her heart
I Know a Hospital Room (sounds)
  • Muffled sobs of loved ones
  • Machines beeping, monitors ticking
  • Harmonious melodic praise as the hymn, "Beautiful Savior," is sung
  • Strong voices of conviction united in speaking "The Apostles' Creed" and "The Lord's Prayer"
  • The quiet whisper, "I love you, Mildred"
I Know a Hospital Room (smells)
  • The pungent, sterile smell of hand sanitizer permeating the nostrils
  • The vacant, sanitized odor of a room in the Intensive Care Unit
I Know a Hospital Room (touch)
  • Warm, soft, motionless, unresponsive hands of the patient as they are being massaged
  • Soft, cool lips that linger on the patient's forehead as a gentle kiss is placed there
I Know a Hospital Room (words)
  • The Invocation: "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen."
  • The Apostles' Creed: "I believe..."
  • Reflections by the pastor on Romans 8:31-39
  • The singing of the hymn, "Beautiful Savior"
  • Psalm 23 spoken by the pastor, "The Lord is my Shepherd..."
  • The endearing prayer of a pastor who loves the patient, his friend and parishoner
  • The Benediction that concludes the service of commendation
I Know a Hospital Room

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

To One Who Has Strayed

Bible Verse:
1 John 1:9 (ESV) – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Additional Bible Reading:

Psalm 38:18 (ESV) – I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.
Proverbs 28:13 (ESV) – Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

To one who has strayed, God loves you.

There is nothing you have done that is so bad
that God would love you less.
There is nothing you could do that would be so great
that God would love you more.
God's love for you is unconditional and changeless.

We all have made choices we regret.
God will forgive everything
for which we repent genuinely.
He will work with us
to redeem those past choices.

The road to redemption may be fraught with enormous obstacles,
but God's Spirit will enable you to overcome:
He will free you from slavery to the world and your flesh.

Lay your burden down before the Lord.
Ask God to cleanse you and shape you
to become the person He created you to be.
By God's grace, He will bless you
when you choose repentance
and embrace chastisement
as a tool for growth, maturity, and service.

God's Holy Spirit will enable you to achieve
all that He has planned for you to do.

Dear Father, I lay my burden down before you in full repentance. Cleanse me from my sin. Mold me to become the person you created me to be. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Name your sins and repent of them. Ask forgiveness from those you have wronged. Make amends.