Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17

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Broken Crayons Still Color

It’s February…the month of love! Valentines have been in the stores since the after-Christmas sales. It’s funny how retail runs all the holidays together – Valentines on the shelves while Christmas decorations are still on the end caps; wait another couple of weeks, and we’ll be inundated with Easter flowers and bunnies even though it will still be February. Oh well, I digress. This is NOT what this post is about.

It’s about February, love and heart break.

It’s also about understanding that Broken Crayons Still Color!

Research from the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that emotional pain may be more closely linked to physical pain than scientists previously realized, and heart break specifically registers in the same part of the brain that responds to physical pain. Further, heart break registers sensations much akin to broken limbs. Ever had a broken heart? Then, you didn’t need a study to tell you – it hurts!

Heart break changes you, consumes you. It drains and weakens, crushes and kills – joy and spirit. It separates and isolates. Yes, true heart break leaves you feeling out of sorts, depleted and alone. And were this not enough, heart break leaves you feeling imprisoned in a jail of sorts that surely you will never be able to leave.

But guess who has the key? Yes, our Father, God Himself. He, our King, who sits high and looks low knows what it is to have a broken heart! We (humans) have broken his heart for ages, and we continue to do so on a regular basis much like Gomer in the Book of Hosea (read the first three chapters; Hosea 1:1 – 3:5). Gomer repeatedly breaks Hosea’s heart, yet he loves her against logic and redeems her by taking her back. If you don’t know it, you’ve got to read the story and how Gomer leaves a man who loves her and passes from man to man until she ends up naked on the slave block to be sold!

And who buys her back?

You guessed it – Homer, her husband! But even that is not the BEST part of the story. Hosea pledges his love anew to his newly purchased wife – his wife the betrayer and prostitute, his wife the dregs of society, his wife who was broken. Now, the best part…Hosea’s love broke Gomer’s heart anew AND from this time on Gomer was faithful to Hosea. Gomer was restored!

Are you broken?

Have you loved someone only to realize that they don’t love you in return? Has a love betrayed you? Deserted you?

In your brokenness have you stopped “coloring?” There is a color that only you can paint in this world.  But have you ceased to be you? Ceased contributing positively to your work place, to your family, to your friends, to your home?  You may be a broken crayon, but you can still color!

Hosea paints for us an image of God’s love for us. We have broken His heart, strayed, turned from Him and sought other loves and lovers, yet He loves us and redeems us from the enslavement of sin. He sees our brokenness and calls us to come to Him in the midst of it. Our inclination is often to run from God and to seek worldly repairs for our broken hearts – drink, work, drugs, social networks. At best, they are temporary. There is no repair, but God. His love is true love – love that will not desert, betray or deny. His love is a love that has a plan for your good (Jeremiah 29:11), that stems from a desire to make you whole, that knows though you are as a broken crayon, you can still color and, thus, it is a love that redeems and restores.

THIS WEEK read Hosea 1:1 – 3:5. Who or what has broken your heart? (It doesn’t matter if the leaving was intentional, accidental or unavoidable as because of death, you may still experience heart break.)  Whose heart have you broken? What has been the impact of your brokenness? What temporary repairs have you sought? Your first step is to turn to God; only He can restore you. Ask Him to help you identify the next steps after that.

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Labels and Colors

This semester I am teaching two special education classes at my Alma Mater.  I lived a “special ed” life for a number of years – teacher, Program Director, Regional Consultant – before moving into other areas of education and administration.  But as others who have majored in Special Education will tell you, “once Special Ed, always Special Ed.”  You just can’t get away from it.

So, here I am preparing future educators to work with students challenged by intellectual, physical or emotional disabilities.  Because none of my students are Special Education majors, the dialogue has been especially interesting.  Recently I lectured about the core principles of the federal law, IDEIA, including “Nondiscriminatory Identification/Evaluation.”  In one class deep dialogue around biases, prejudices and stereotypes ensued, so I required students to complete at least one hidden bias assessment and to report their findings, feelings and take-aways.

It turned out to be even more powerful than I imagined.

While there were some who seemed proud that the tests confirmed their biases which ran the gamut from “I really just can’t stand fat people because they are lazy and choose to be fat” (Yes, a student wrote that.) to “The test confirmed that I do not like people who do not share my skin color.  I wasn’t surprised. That’s how I was raised.”


Thankfully, that was the minority.  The majority of students “got” what the assignment was about, and while they confessed some hidden biases, they wrote of their desire, prayer, conviction and determination to overcome them and to embrace every child regardless of his or her abilities, appearances or addresses.  As a retired educator who sometimes worries about the future of education, I experienced a moment of relief.

While 60 years have passed since the landmark Supreme Court Case, “Brown vs Board of Education,” and many laws declaring equal rights to all people now rest on the books, the fact remains that our nation is still greatly divided.  We see that every day in the media, in our workplaces, in our schools and in our communities.

During the past two years I experienced racism such that I had never before in my 50+ years of living.  I know history.  I grew up with the signs posted over water fountains and even in my pediatrician’s office distinguishing which fountains and which chairs were for WHITES and which were for COLORED.  But the blatant racism that I experienced every day in a recent workplace and in the town and community in which I worked was, was…  Well, I’ve left that experience behind, but I still don’t have words for it.

But there are words that I have to share with you, and I hope you will share them with your children.  They are the words to a song that I learned as a child.  “Red and Yellow, Black and White, we are precious in His site.”  And the color that matters, the only color that matters is RED – the precious red blood that Jesus shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” (Ephesians 1:7 NIV)

And the only label that will matter in the end?  SAVED!