Susan McGeown

Author, Speaker, & Teacher

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Me, God, & Transformation

Posted by Susan McGeown on December 23, 2017 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

My childhood memories are riddled with worry, sewn together with panic, and painted with dread: about school, about gettingt things wrong, about getting in trouble, about being alone … None of my fears were rationale in case you were wondering. I was raised in a loving, middle-class family that included close extended family. My mom stayed home with the kids, my dad went off to work every day, and if the weather was good all the neighborhood kids played kickball in the street every day after school. With slight variations I had a very similar up bringing to those typical television families we all remember: Donna Reed could have been my mom, Andy Griffith my dad, I lived in a house like the one in My Three Sons, and I even had a friend like Eddie Haskell from Leave It To Beaver (although her name was Janet and she was a girl).


 

I was a“nervous, shy” child and my mother still jokes (I’m almost sixty now) about the permanent wrinkle marks in the hem of her dress from me clinging desperately to her wherever we went. I hated birthday parties and sunny days because they required me to leave the safety and security of my life. Aside from being home with mom, there were very, very few places where I wanted to be.


 

I always had the most fun playing at home in my house. Friend’s houses had scary big brothers or sisters, terrifying food (surprise, surprise I was also a picky eater), and unfamiliar rules. I refused to take swim lessons so I never learned to swim, I quit Brownies after only one painful year, I never joined a sports team or a school club, and when encouraged to learn an instrument chose the solitary piano.


 

My first memories of kindergarten were of big hands holding my shoulders while my mother left through the door and I screamed. I threw up before class trips terrified to be traveling farther away from home than school had already required me to be. This continued right through high school. (I cried every night before the first day of school up and through sixth grade.) You’d think that I would have enjoyed weekends and vacations but they were shadowed by dreary clouds of misery due to the inevitable, eventual required return to school on Monday.


 

Church wasn’t much better. Although I was forced to attend Sunday school, I eschewed attending as many youth oriented activities as possible; happy to sit quietly and contentedly next to mom in the big pew throughout the sermon. My terrors grew to include being up in front of people which eliminated playing piano on talent Sunday and participating in children’s choir. I vividly remember my mother offering me a whole dollar (big money back in 1967) if I’d participate in the church’s children’s choir and sing the song I had rehearsed. As much as I wanted that dollar, I refused.


 

There was nothing that could induce me to leave home. Ever.


 

Amazingly, God was at work in my life early on, even in the midst of my anxieties. Prayers brought me security in the deep dark night as I huddled in bed fearing the end of the world, the monster in theattic, or the death of my parents. (Yes,those were some of many things I stressed over.) I clung desperately to the Bible stories I was taught about Joseph being separated from his family and sold into slavery only to triumph, David who faced a giant with only five small stones and a sling and succeeded, and Daniel who faced a den of lions and lived to tell about it. Surely if God helped these faithful young men He would help me, too. My belief was rooted not only in the essence of who God is but in the deeds I knew He had done and would continue to do.


 

At the age of eight I made a public profession of faith stunning everyone not the least my parents. I walked to the front of the large congregation - by myself - and asked the Lord to come into my heart and take over my life. To this day, after almost sixty years of living, my memory of that day is vivid. For weeks I had felt as if someone was literally pushing me out of the pew and urging me to go forward. I certainly didn’t want to go. But the urge became so all-consuming that it finally could not be ignored. I remember everyone towering over me, the choir in their robes, the smiling faces of the congregation and Pastor Griffith’s shock of red hair and kindly voice. But what is the most powerful aspect of that memory is the fact that I remember the three of us standing in front of the smiling congregation. That third presence, invisible to all and yet fully felt by me, was strong enough to make me do something totally outside of my confidence or ability with no memory of fear . That memory is as powerful to me today as it was then and that push out into the church aisle was the first of many steps of faith for me that continue to this day. Timid little, frightened little, shy little me went on to meet and be questioned - on my own - with the Board of Deacons (oh,okay, Daddy was a deacon but I didn’t even get to sit next to him). On my own I responded to questions about my profession of faith and my desire to be baptized. When I participated in full immersion baptism it was at a point in my life when I still refused to put my face under water in the shower. Talk about transformation through Christ!


 

My life is not a happily-ever-after story from then on. But neither is it a tragedy. Through His great love He has allowed me to flourish rather than fade. His strong presence helps me stay focused on what is right and produces a blaring siren on what is wrong. And when I fail or flounder, His stunning grace encourages me to dust myself off and start again. I have learned to link my ever present anxiety to my faith. I try daily to take my every step with prayer and I keep a daily journal about what worries me and what delights me. If I feel a peace about a choice I’m about to make or a direction I’m about to take then I know that God is walking right beside me. If anxiety becomes all-consuming then I stop, and wait, and pray, and listen for His still small voice (or loud thundering shout) to redirect me.


 

As much as I hated school (up and through college) I also, passionately, wanted to become a teacher. In a tough economy when teaching was a dead-end career I secured a job in a thriving community and taught happily and successfully for over thirteen years. Despite endless poor choices in relationships He guided me to meet the perfect man at the perfect time in my life allowing me to have the always dreamed of wish of a husband and children.


 

Yet,adulthood brought to light another issue that needed to be dealt with in my life: depression. Anxiety regularly chips away at self-confidence, as does daily life. Simple disasters and numerous failures (large and small) are hard to ignore and even harder to forget no matter what you are told. Marriage and children brought about endless challenges that I so desperately wanted (needed?) to get right - an impossibility for anyone. In a strange,odd way my faith masked my depression; I had no fear of death, in fact I quite looked forward to my promised next life. At the worst of times, my skewed reality knew for a fact that my husband and children would be so much better off without the over-emotional, incompetent, worthless wreck that I was.


 

Medication and therapy help. I thank God every day for the wonders of modern science and the skill and caring of well-trained therapists. I still, passionately, look forward to my next life that promises no tears, no worry, and no hurt. But I know that we are each given a purpose and I was called very early to do mine. Even at my saddest times, I cannot forget that presence that was so palpably beside me when I was eight years old. I also cannot ignore the numerous, never-ending blessings that fill my life.


 

Just in case you’re wondering, my favorite place in the whole world is still my home. Isn’t God wonderful that He’s allowed me to become a writer? Just in case you’re curious, I still prefer to have friends come to me. Isn’t it incredible that God has given me numerous opportunities to open my home and use my teaching skills to conduct Bible studies? And just in case you haven’t noticed, God’s still pushing me out of my comfort zone. I’m standing in front of you conducting this seminar, aren’t I?


 

My faith has transformed me. The struggles that make up my life and the multitude of failures in my past that could easily be a bag of awful rocks around my neck are now precious gems I gladly display. Look what God has done in my life! Look what God has blessed me with! Look what God thinks I am capable of and has called me to do! I feel God’s patient,persistent, hand gently pushing me out of my comfort zone almost every single day. I have chosen to continue to belike the trusting eight year old I was so many years ago and follow that unforgettable presence.

 

Life, Death, and Strength In The Moment

Posted by Susan McGeown on December 23, 2017 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Because you are my helper,

I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 63:7 NLT)


My younger sister died when I was fifteen. Born with the genetic disease Cystic Fibrosis, her death was not a shock; more like a reality I grew up with. I remember the church family praying for a miracle healing as her health deteriorated. She was eleven when she died, and hers was the first wake and funeral I attended. I don’t usually volunteer that information about myself immediately. People tend to have reactions and make assumptions that are incorrect which I then must work to realign, i.e. I had a relatively happy childhood and my life story is not a tragedy.


The Shunammite Woman’s story in 2 Kings 4 is one of my mother’s favorite Bible stories. I remember wondering how that could possibly be: mom didn’t get her little girl back from the dead like the woman from Shunem did. Wouldn’t that story make you angry? Bitter? Jealous? When the church’s prayer to miraculously heal my sister didn’t work, shouldn’t that have shaken Mom’s faith just a little?


I can’t begin to understand the reality my mother lived in experiencing the death of her child. As a child I saw her tears, as a mother I can only begin to imagine her grief, and as a fellow woman after God’s own heart she has shared some of her personal agony. What I can absolutely attest to, however, is how my life has been blessed having lived within the shadow of such a woman as my mother.


Despite being a young woman actively involved in church, I never managed to become involved with any young men who were of like standards, which was trouble right from the start. From high school through my twenties I never lacked for male company, but never enjoyed spiritual companionship. At the age of thirty-one when I finally married, the closest I had gotten to a Christian marriage was I had been married by a minister in a church, I was allowed to ask my husband to occasionally join me on Sunday mornings (“But don’t ask me every Sunday") and I was welcome to raise any future children in any faith I wished (“If they turn out as good as you I’ll be happy.")


I found a small local church near our home and began to make sporadic appearances. However attending church on my own, once I was married, just about broke my heart. (Staying home on Sunday mornings with the new hubby didn’t make me any happier, though.) On Sundays that I appeared particularly sad or asked outright, my husband would reluctantly tag along. One Sunday David got up, got dressed and came down ready for church without any pleading on my part. Sundays took on a whole new meaning for both of us.


Through the strong witness of a woman at church David made a public profession of faith and was eventually baptized. We made life long friendships there, becoming actively involved in numerous levels of church. It was at this church that my writing, speaking, teaching and leading truly blossomed.


I began leading a women’s Bible study every Thursday afternoon out of my house. Sometimes fifteen women (including my Mom) with their children would crowd into my family room and we would fellowship, pray, and study. One of the women who held a position of leadership in the church (she was, in fact, the deacon who came to our home, spoke with David and convinced him to be baptized) asked if she could come one Thursday and share her testimony with us. I was delighted. Linda shared many personal aspects of her childhood and married life; the road had not been easy and for a major portion of her early life the idea of committing her life to Christ was something she vehemently did not want to do. Life had proven categorically to Linda that the world was a cruel, hard place. And if there was a God - especially an all-powerful god - He was not the kind of being she wished to associate with. Look at the world! Look at the tragedies! Look at the cruelties of life! Linda was a nurse, you see, and had seen unimaginable heartbreak in her hospital wards. Being religious didn’t spare you; she’d seen devout families who were faithful and good and deserved only happiness in their life suffer unimaginable heartache and loss.


A friend had invited Linda to a women’s conference and she agreed to go. The speaker shared about surviving the loss of a child and told the story of the Shunammite woman who, at the death of her only child, was still able to say before her child was raised from the dead, that all was well. “How could that be?” the speaker had asked her audience. “What did that woman have that gave her the ability to respond that way?” Although it appeared that the Shunammite woman’s life was in tatters,the true reality of the situation was that her faith in God was still strong. Her soul, the essence of who she was, was well. She was not a member of this earthly life; her home was in heaven.


In my family room there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Turning to my mother, Linda asked, “Isn’t that what you spoke about, Marylynn?” My mother, the guest speaker at that women’s conference in which Linda had made her profession of faith, nodded through her tears.


Life is difficult, sometimes even impossible. A life of faith does not promise us a life of ease. It promises more than that. It promises beauty from ashes, joy from sorrow, triumph from despair. I do not tell you this because I have been taught it; I tell you this because I have lived it. And I want you to live it, too.


My sister Faith and I ... a long, long time ago.

I Will Speak

Posted by Susan McGeown on December 23, 2017 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I do not have the profound words of the experienced business man and I cannot advise on matters of law or provide insight on the deep political implications of world matters. But I have my own words and…


… I will speak.


Perhaps you do not value my words as much as others. It is possible you hear my advice and doubt its reality or even question my sanity. But I know my words carry just as much weight as others…


…if not more.


I speak not as a mother or a wife or a friend or a sister or a daughter. I speak as a woman of faith; someone who has lived a life that has taught me that God does not give you hopes and dreams and desires He does not plan to fulfill…


…but in truth, provides greater than you could possibly ask or imagine.


Life is never a straight, smooth path. Times of joy are complemented with times of sorrow; hope is shadowed with moments of despair, love shares space with hate. Yet I know …


…no darkness is so great as to extinguish the light of even one tiny flame.


Following God’s direction means learning that trust must overcome uncertainty, confidence must shatter doubts, and growth must conquer fear. Sometimes the road is frighteningly difficult…


…and only makes sense in retrospect.


I will speak of my certainty in God’s promises. I will speak of my choice to place my eternity in Jesus Christ. I will speak of my past that is a clarion call of God’s love and care and grace. I will speak of my thankfulness of today come what may. I will speak of the joy of knowing that I am safe in the palm of God’s hand through the valleys of darkness as well as the shining summits of joy. I will speak…


…what I know to be absolute truth.


I will speak of a life that is filled to overflowing with the blessings God has generously provided. I will speak of triumphs that can only come about through great trials. I will speak of the incredible peace that can only be known in times of true chaos. I will speak of strength in the midst of teeth-chattering fear. I will speak of battles vanquished and still ongoing…


…with breathless anticipation of what is still to come.


I will watch this life unfurl with pride in my eyes, love in my heart, and joy in my soul and I will speak of it…


…I told you so.

Faith's Attitude At Christmas

Posted by Susan McGeown on December 8, 2013 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

 Mary:  BELIEVING

“Mary believed ...”   Luke 1:45

 

Joseph:  OBEYING

Joseph “did what he was commanded.” Matt. 2:24

 

The Shepherds:  TELLING

“The shepherds told everyone ...”  Luke 2:17

 

The Wise Men:  SEEKING & GIVING

The Wise Men “came to worship…gave…joyfully…”Matt. 2:2, 10-11


Simeon:  AFFIRMING

“I have seen the Savior.”   Luke 2:30

 

Anna:  PRAISING & SHARING

Anna “praised God and talked about Jesus to everyone.”  Luke 2:38


Picture Credits:

Mary:  BE UNTO ME by Liz Lemon Swindle http://www.reparteegallery.com/p-10899-liz-lemon-swindle-be-it-unto-me.aspx

 Joseph:  http://totustuusfamily.blogspot.com/2012/03/he-held-jesus-in-his-arms-st-joseph.html

 Shepherds:  adorationof the shepherds Giorgione

 Wisemen:  http://www.jesus-story.net/magi.htm

Simeon:  SIMEON'S MOMENT by Ron DiCianni http://www.rondicianni.com/ ;

Anna: Anna at the Temple with Jesus, Jerry Bacik,

 



OMG!

Posted by Susan McGeown on August 3, 2013 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

OMG!

Most of us know what this strange looking collection of letters means but for those who don’t it’s the texting equivalent to the expression, “Oh my God!”  From the first moment that I was asked to preach, I’ve known I wanted to talk about the phrase, “Oh my God!”


Being a little Baptist girl, I grew up with a healthy respect for the phrase, “Oh my God!”  “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain!”  (Exodus 20:7)  Based on this commandment (number three if you’re interested) I had been taught that saying the phrase was a sin.  Not actually sure what “in vain” meant back then but suitably educated in what a sin was, I’ve avoided the expression altogether.  My children were raised to not use the phrase and to this day I can’t help internally cringing when I hear someone use the phrase.  (i.e. “Oh my god!  I can’t believe you ate that whole thing!” or “Oh my god!  What’s that smell?!”;)


Do you use the phrase?  When you do are you conscious of what you’re saying or is it just a casual expression along the lines of “Wow!” or “Gesundheit!” (God bless you in German, said when someone sneezes) or “Have anice day.”  The interesting thing is that “God” isn’t really God’s name.  It’s more like a title equivalent to King or Superior Court Judge.  I suppose you could say, “Oh my president!”or “Oh my mailman” with equal impunity.)


Yet after a lot of thought, I’ve decided that I think quite a few biblical characters must have used the phrase, “Oh My God!” with appropriate justification. 


I’m pretty sure that Moses must have said, “Oh My God!” when he encountered the burning

bush in the desert and has his first ever conversation with God. (Exodus 3)  He actually tried to clarify the whole name thing with God, asking him specifically “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”  (Exodus3:13)  (Please note in my humble opinion Ithink this was a viable question.)  God,in His infinite wisdom, gave the somewhat vague answer, “I Am Who I Am” (Exodus 3:14)  (Somehow, “Oh My I AM” doesn’t have the same ring to it.)


Of course, this led to the whole using the name of God in vain as a sin issue.  In essence, God is so superior to us, so transcendentally above our station within the universe that He and we being on a casual, first name basis is simply impossible.  And just in case you’re wondering, the Holy Name of God was known but only by the Jewish High Priest and he was allowed to utter it only once a year when he was inside the Holy of Holies (the most sacred location on earth).  Never written down, this Holy Name of God was written only using the consonants YHWH; the true pronunciation of which has been lost in antiquity.  Nowadays we guess by saying “Yahweh”; many of our biblical translations simply substitute “the LORD” for where the real, formal name of God should be used.  Look on many Jewish websites and you’ll see that in deference to His holiness even ‘God’ is spelled out “G-d”.


Once I thought about Moses saying, “Oh My God!” that got me thinking about others biblical heroes. 


I’m pretty sure that Noah must have said, “Oh My God!” at the moment that the ark broke loose from solid ground and began to float away to parts unknown amidst an epic torrential downpour. 


Daniel probably did, too, in the lion’s den, as probably did Mary when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and Saul – who later became Paul - on the road to Damascus… 


Are you getting my point?  The phrase “Oh My God!”accurately used, should always reflect a personal statement of faith.  Is it only as meaningful to you as“Gesundheit”?  Is it merely an automated exclamation?  Or is it a sincere, heartfelt prayer?


Saul, who became known as Paul is a biblical hero that had quite a history. Privileged, educated, passionate, and spiritual he used the phrase “Oh My God!” incorrectly until the Lord set him straight on the road to Damascus.  He was a man with intimate knowledge of the feelings of loneliness, loss, regret, and guilt.  Paul wrote thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, filling over one third of that portion of the Bible.  In Ephesians 3 he writes a prayer that has come to mean a lot to me; in fact I’ve memorized it and – this will probably shock very few who know me – I’ve edited it to fit my purposes!  While the true translation is written in the third person – a prayer Paul wishes for his fellow believers in city of Ephesus – my version makes this prayer my personal 'Oh My God' statement.  Listen to the first part of this prayer.  Can you see what My God looks like?


When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan,

I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,

the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 

I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources

He will give me mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. 

And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in my heart

as I trust in Him. 

Ephesians 3:14-17


This God that I believe in and have chosen to rule my life by is so big that He can only be described as three persons in one.  Do you see that?  There is the mighty Father, the creator of everything in which my “Oh My God” can only be uttered on my knees in awe at His power and might.  There is the Holy Spirit in which my “Oh My God” is uttered standing tall and powerful (sometimes even with a cape flapping off my shoulders) in which I feel invincible.  And there is the Messiah – the Christ – my savior, redeemer, and friend who holds me close as I whisper my “Oh My God” through the agony of my tears.



This is the God that I believe in and have chosen to rule my life by. I have made the decision.  I have stepped over the dividing line of doubt into the vast expanse of a faith based life and have made an endless free fall into My God’s arms.  Oh My God!


Paul’s prayer includes adviceon how we are to achieve this.  What is our responsibility is in all this?


May my roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. 

And may I have the power to understand, as all God’s people should,

how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. 

May I experience the love of Christ,

though it is so great I will never fully understand it. 

Then I will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Ephesians 3:18-19


“Deep roots…experience…understanding…filled with life and power.”  I’ve made a choice to believe in all of this.  This choice to believe is an on going, never ending process in which I am forever growing and changing and working.  I am no longer the person I once was prior to knowing Jesus Christ as my Savior.  I am transformed.  Evolved. Made new.  No longer is the success of my earthly life measured by the dollars in my bank account nor is it evidenced by the number of grey hairs that I regularly work to cover up with Nice ‘N Easy #37.  No, the goal of my life is to make My God smile and in doing so claim the life God intended for all of us to have.  Oh My God!


For me, it’s become a lifetime commitment with a guaranteed reward that’s beyond my human understanding.


Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within me,

He is able to accomplish infinitely more than I would ever dare to ask or hope.

Ephesians3:20


Oh My God!  What a promise!  “Infinitely more than I would ever dare to ask or hope.”  Can you envision what that statement entails?  It means take the biggest, broadest, most incredible possibility you could imagine and God will do “infinitely more.” 


Is “Oh My God” part of your daily vocabulary?  Can you describe your God?  Can you point to evidence in your life of being filled with His life and His power?  Are your roots deep?  Is your faith ever growing?  Are you excited about the infinite possibilities a personal relationship with God offers you?  Can you say, “Oh My God” with passionate reverence regarding your personal relationship with Your God? 


I pray that you have all these things.  Let Paul’s prayer be your personal “Oh My God” prayer, too.

 

A Eulogy Written In Honor of Rita Barney

Posted by Susan McGeown on November 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

A Eulogy Written In Honor of Rita Barney

Those we love are with the Lord and theLord has promised to be with us.

If they are with Him, and He is with us,they cannot be far away. (Peter Marshall)

I didn’t meet Rita Barney until Sunday night.  Given that she was in ICU, unable to speak and barely conscious you would think that it would be impossible to understand what kind of woman she was.  But you would be wrong because you – family and friends – are a clear reflection of the woman that Rita Barney is.

Each and every one of you, whether you are family or friend, helped me know Rita, giving me a vivid glimpse of how precious she is to all of you. I heard the love in Kenny’s voice when he took me to her bedside and said, “This is my mom.”  I saw it in the deep concern of the people that lined the hospital hallways and occupied the chairs in the waiting areas.  I felt the caring that filled her ICU roomas we all held hands and prayed.  I witnessed the comfort of Rita’s loved ones who committed to hold her hand throughout the long night.  I felt it in the gracious appreciation of the many, many people who thanked me formy heart felt prayer at her bedside.  I saw the strength of family in the eyes of those who desperately didn’t want her to leave them so soon.  Rita’s legacy of love, concern, caring, comfort, gracious appreciation and strength was evident in the family and friends who surrounded her.  You reflect that and help me appreciate the woman that Rita Barney is.

I also know that Rita is a woman of faith.  How? Well, great effort was made to get a minister to her bedside on Sunday.  Through the efforts of friends and family Rita was visited by not one, not two, but three faith based strangers.  Despite being Janine’scousin, I was one of those strangers.  It was an honor and a privilege to be there on Sunday and it is an honor and a privilege to be here with you today.  I don’t believe for one minute that it is a random occurrence that I am standing here before you today. 

Our entire life is part of our personal and unique faith journey.  Did you know that “Faith” means to believe in something that can’t be proven?  What we each believe is a personal choice that we decide to make deep in our hearts. I can’t tell you very much about Rita’s faith journey, but I can tell you what I believe with every fiber of my being. 

Death is a terrifying thing for many of us.  We don’t understand it and cannot control it.  It makes us ask questions that nothing but faith can answer. What happens next?  Will I see Rita again?  Is heaven real?  What’s the truth and what’s not?  Where do I go from here?  How do make sure I’m going to get to heaven?  Jesus got asked those kind of questions all the time; even his own disciples worried about it.  Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home in heaven.  If this weren’t so, I wouldn’t have told you.”  (John 14:2)  I have chosen to trust in Jesus and believe that He is God’s son.  In making that simple choice, I step out on a faith journey that promises me more than I could hope for or imagine.

I believe that there is a place called Heaven.  It’s a place where the Bible tells us God will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things will be gone forever.  (Revelations 21:4)

I believe that Jesus is the way to get there, that His words are truth and that only through Him will I truly live.  (John 14:6)

I believe that God wants a relationship with all of us but He wants us to come to Him of our own free will. He promises love, guidance, and protection.  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Try it my way.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  (Matthew 11:28-29)

I believe God doesn’t keep score and this life we live is not a pass or fail test.  He wants us and there is nothing we have done in our past that will ever change that.  Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, He forgives them all. (Psalm 65:3)

Just because Rita’s time here with us has ended doesn’t mean that her faith journey is over.  We are promised in our next life joy, health,and purpose.  The most wonderful times of Rita’s life here with us were just tiny, tiny glimpses of what is in store for her in heaven:  the joy of being with her beloved husband, the pride of watching her children and grandchildren grow and flourish, the comfort and camaraderie of time well spent with friends and family… 

Love and faith:  the very essence of what I learned about Rita Barney in the brief few minutes I spent with her by her hospital bed are never influenced by sickness or death.  Rita Barney’s life, which is reflected in the faces of the people I see before me, is undeniable proof of that.  I am privileged to have met Rita.  You are blessed to be her family and friends.

 

Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank You for the life of Rita Barney.  Thank you for her family and friends who are committed to carrying forward her legacy of love and faith.  Please comfort them in their times of grief as they miss their mother, their sister, their grandmother, their aunt, and their friend.  Let them look toward the future with a growing faith rooted in the wonderful hope Your love and promises assure us.  Let them feel Your presence in their most desperate times and let that presence give them strength.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.  2 Thessalonians 2:16

 

Rita’sLegacy:

·       42 years of marriage to James

·       Four sons: Jimmy, Kenny, Richard & David

·       One daughter: Lisa

·       13 Grandchildren:  Kyle, Kirsten, Brianne, Michaela, Melissa, Kenny (KJ), Rachael, Jessica, Meagan, Amanda, Zack, Gavin, and Deegan.

 

 

QuotesAbout Rita From Her Family and Friends:

She loved her husband James very much and spoke of him and told me how much she missed him almost every day.

She always told people they were beautiful.

She was a good mom.

She was always there for us and making us laugh.

She had a heart of gold and was always sweet and kind to everyone.

She had a way of making you feel good about yourself.

Every day she would tell me how proud she was of me.

She saw people for their beauty never seeing their flaws.

She was a loving grandma.  She read books, played and shared everything she had with the kids.  She’d sneak them junk food.

She loved animals,especially cats.  She fed all the strays outside and they never went hungry.

She was a simple woman who didn’t have much and she never asked for anything.

Being with her kids made her happy and she was proud of us all.

Every year for Halloween she was either a kitty cat or a cowgirl.

She was helpful.

She didn’t have a mean bone in her body.

She only had nice things to say about everybody.

She was my biggest fan.

She was one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to know and be loved by.

She was a quirky,lovely lady.

She loved

·       Boston Cream donuts,

·       Chocolate milk,

·       Candy,

·       Elvis,

·       Bubblewrap,

·       Game shows,

 

Why Do I Pray?

Posted by Susan McGeown on September 19, 2012 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (2)

I was asked to do the women's devotional at the fall women's breakfast at our church.  Here it is.

My heart has heard God say, “Come and talk with me.”

And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Psalm 27:8 NLT

  • I pray because I believe prayer is a subversive act in a world that constantly calls faith into question… and I like to go against the world whenever I get the opportunity.

  • I pray not to tell God what He needs to know or remind him of things that He has forgotten.  I pray because prayer gives me the opportunity to finally care about things from the same perspective as God.  Prayer allows me to see others as God sees them.
  • I pray to give an opportunity for God to say, “yes”, “no”, or “not right now.”  God is not really silent, we are deaf.  Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers, you know. 
  • I pray because I believe it is the very best way to get to know God better.  I find it astonishing that the God of the Universe desires a relationship with me … how cool is that?
  • I pray because it’s a way of saying, “God show me what you are doing today and how I can be a part of it.”  I certainly have nothing better to do than to put myself in the stream of God’s healing work on earth.
 
  • I pray always and only for the Lord’s Will.  I make suggestions and share my desires, but always acknowledge that He Knows Best.  Certainly He has to have the best plan for the future and the best solution to any problem.  Wouldn’t it be the greatest possible disaster to argue with God and win?
  • I pray with an open heart and an open mind.  After all, God cannot fill what has not been emptied.  God is more creative, more powerful, and more clever than I could ever imagine so I’d rather go with His Ideas.  Plus, He’s got a great sense of humor.
  • With the Right Attitude and the Right Guidance I can pray almost constantly.  I can pray when I talk to people by letting the Lord lead my conversations.  I can pray when I read my Bible by offering up my heart and thoughts to Him for enlightenment.  I can pray in the car, in the line at the store, as I wash dishes and change sheets, while I eat lunch or pull weeds in my garden by willingly giving my actions over to God and letting Him lead so I can follow. 
O gracious and holy Father,
Give us wisdom to perceive Thee,
Intelligence to understand Thee,
Diligence to seek Thee,
Patience to wait for Thee,
Eyes to behold Thee,
A heart to meditate upon Thee,
A life to proclaim Thee;
Through the power of the Spirit
Of Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Benedict of Nursia)

 

My Favorite Psalm: Psalm 63:1-8

Posted by Susan McGeown on November 6, 2011 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

 1 O God, you are my God;

I earnestly search for you. 

My soul thirsts for you;  

my whole body longs for you 

in this parched and weary land 

where there is no water.

 2 I have seen you in your sanctuary 

and gazed upon your power and glory.

3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself; 

how I praise you!

 4 I will praise you as long as I live, 

lifting up my hands to you in prayer.

5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.  

I will praise you with songs of joy. 

6 I lie awake thinking of you, 

meditating on you through the night.

7 Because you are my helper, 

I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.

 8 I cling to you; 

your strong right hand holds me securely.

Psalm 63:1-8

 

An Argument For Faith

Posted by Susan McGeown on December 22, 2010 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (2)

I do not know if this conversation ever even really occurred ... nor does it really matter to me.  I just liked the way things were presented and thought I'd share.  It's a long piece, but worth the read ... but if you only want to read a bit skip down to the blue bit at the end.  That's my favorite because I agree with the argument!!  :)



"LET ME EXPLAIN THE problem science has with Jesus Christ." The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand. "You're a Christian, aren't you, son?"


"Yes, sir."


"So you believe in God?"


"Absolutely."


"Is God good?"


"Sure! God's good."


"Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?"


"Yes."


"Are you good or evil?"


"The Bible says I'm evil."


The professor grins knowingly. "Ahh! THE BIBLE!" He considers for a moment. "Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help them? Would you try?"


"Yes sir, I would."


"So you're good...!"


"I wouldn't say that."


"Why not say that? You would help a sick and maimed person if you could... in fact most of us would if we could...God doesn't." [No answer.] "He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?" [No answer] The elderly man is sympathetic. "No, you can't, can you?" He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. In philosophy, you have to go easy with the new ones. "Let's start again, young fella.....Is God good?"


"Er... Yes."


"Is Satan good?"


"No."


"Where does Satan come from?"


The student falters. "From... God..."


"That's right. God made Satan, didn't he?" The elderly man runs his bony fingers through his thinning hair and turns to the smirking, student audience. "I think we're going to have a lot of fun this semester, ladies and gentlemen." He turns back to the Christian. "Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?"


"Yes, sir."


"Evil's everywhere, isn't it? Did God make everything?"


"Yes."


"Who created evil? [No answer] "Is there sickness in this world? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All the terrible things - do they exist in this world? "


The student squirms on his feet. "Yes."


"Who created them?" [No answer] The professor suddenly shouts at his student. "WHO CREATED THEM? TELL ME, PLEASE!" The professor closes in for the kill and climbs into the Christian's face. In a still small voice: "God created all evil, didn't He, son?" [No answer]


The student tries to hold the steady, experienced gaze and fails. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace the front of the classroom like an aging panther. The class is mesmerized. "Tell me," he continues, "how is it that this God is good if He created all evil throughout all time?" The professor swishes his arms around to encompass the wickedness of the world. "All the hatred, the brutality, all the pain, all the torture, all the death and ugliness and all the suffering created by this good God is all over the world, isn't it, young man?" [No answer] "Don't you see it all over the place? Huh?" [Pause] "Don't you?" The professor leans into the student's face again and whispers, "Is God good?" [No answer] "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?"


The student's voice betrays him and cracks. "Yes, professor. I do."


The old man shakes his head sadly. "Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen your Jesus?"


"No, sir. I've never seen Him."


"Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?"


"No, sir. I have not."


"Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus...in fact, do you have any sensory perception of your God whatsoever?" [No answer] "Answer me, please."


"No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't."


"You're AFRAID...you haven't?"


"No, sir."


"Yet you still believe in him?"


"...Yes..."


"That takes FAITH!" The professor smiles sagely at the underling. "According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son? Where is your God now?" [The student doesn't answer] "Sit down, please."

The Christian sits...Defeated.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Another Christian raises his hand. "Professor, may I address the class?"


The professor turns and smiles. "Ah, another Christian in the vanguard! Come, come, young man."


The Christian looks around the room. "Some interesting points you are making, sir. Now I've got a question for you. Is there such thing as heat?"


"Yes," the professor replies. "There's heat."


"Is there such a thing as cold?"


"Yes, son, there's cold too."


"No, sir, there isn't."


The professor's grin freezes. The room suddenly goes very cold.

The second Christian continues. "You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold, otherwise we would be able to go colder than 458 - You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. Because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just..," [Silence fills the room] "...the absence of it." [More silence. A pin drops somewhere in the classroom.] "Is there such a thing as darkness, professor?"



"Yes..."


"You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something, it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, Darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker and give me a jar of it. Can you...give me a jar of darker darkness, professor?"


Despite himself, the professor smiles at the young person before him. This will indeed be a good semester. "Would you mind telling us what your point is, young man?"


"Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with and so your conclusion must be in error...."


The professor goes toxic. "Flawed...? How dare you...!"


"Sir, may I explain what I mean?" The class is all ears.


"Explain...oh explain..." The professor makes an admirable effort to regain control. Suddenly he is affability itself. He waves his hand to silence the class, for the student to continue.


"You are working on the premise of duality," the Christian explains. "That for example there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science cannot even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism but has never seen, much less fully understood them. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, merely the absence of it."


The young man holds up a newspaper he takes from the desk of a neighbor who has been reading it. "Here is one of the most disgusting tabloids this country hosts, professor. Is there such a thing as immorality?"


"Of course there is, now look..."


"Wrong again, sir. You see, immorality is merely the absence of morality. Is there such thing as injustice? No. Injustice is the absence of justice. Is there such a thing as evil?" The Christian pauses. "Isn't evil the absence of good?" [The teacher is temporarily speechless.] The Christian continues. "If there is evil in the world, professor, and we all agree there is, then God, if he exists, must be accomplishing a work through the agency of evil. What is that work, God is accomplishing? The Bible tells us it is to see if each one of us will, of our own free will, choose good over evil."


The professor bridles. "As a philosophical scientist, I don't view this matter as having anything to do with any choice; as a realist, I absolutely do not recognize the concept of God or any other theological factor as being part of the world equation because God is not observable."


"I would have thought that the absence of God's moral code in this world is probably one of the most observable phenomena going," the Christian replies. "Newspapers make billions of dollars reporting it every week! Tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?"


"If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do."


"Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?"

[The professor makes a sucking sound with his teeth and gives his student a silent, stony stare.] "Professor. Since no-one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an ongoing endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a priest?"


"I'll overlook your impudence in the light of our philosophical discussion. Now, have you quite finished?" the professor hisses.


"So you don't accept God's moral code to do what is righteous?"


"I believe in what is-that's science!"


"Ahh! SCIENCE!" the student's face splits into a grin. "Sir, you rightly state that science is the study of observed phenomena. Science too is a premise which is flawed..."


"SCIENCE IS FLAWED?" the professor splutters. The class is in uproar.


The Christian remains standing until the commotion has subsided. "To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, may I give you an example of what I mean?" [The professor wisely keeps silent.] The Christian looks around the room. "Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?" The class breaks out in laughter.The Christian points towards his elderly, crumbling tutor. "Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain...felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain?" No one appears to have done so. The Christian shakes his head sadly. No one appears to have done so.  So, according to the Established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that You have No Brain, sir.  With all due respect, sir, how do we when Trust your Lectures, sir?  (The Room was Silent. The Professor stared at the Student, his face unfathomable)


Professor : I guess you'll have to take them on Faith, son.


Student : That is it sir . . . Exactly.  The Link between Man & GOD is FAITH.  That is all that Keeps Things Alive and Moving.

 


 


Me & Contests: Hysterical Together

Posted by Susan McGeown on October 28, 2010 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (7)

 

 

So, when I found out I was a finalist in the 2008 Golden Rose Contest in the category "Novel With Romantic Elements" for Rosamund's Bower I was so excited I couldn't stand myself.  When the winners were finally announced there were four names listed and three award categories: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize. I was the fourth name.  Alone in my office I fought back my disappointment and tried to remind myself how great it was that I even finaled in my first contest attempt.  Then I noticed a little asterisk after a few of the names on the list.  Reading the fine print below it said, "*Full Manuscript Requested By Agent."  I remember thinking,"HEY!  I got asked for a full manuscript!"  So, I contacted the contest coordinator and asked timidly, "Could I at least have an asterisk by my name?"

 

Imagine my shock when the responding email said, "Oh Sue!  I'm so very sorry for the confusion!  YOU WON IN THAT CATEGORY!!!"   Waves of delight rolled through me.  And then I thought about that poor woman who'd been told that she won in error. 

 

So, yesterday I got an email that said, "Congratulations Susan!"  You would think that with all the time I spend at my computer that I'm impressively skilled, but I'm not.  At all.  While I recognized the EPIC name, I am completely paranoid about opening attachments - of which there were three in this email.  To make matters worse, in my curious enthusiasm I opened one attachment and was horrified to scroll through a collection of random personal pictures that I had received via email over the last few months. I immediately assumed the message was spam, that I had been hacked, and completely panicked.  I notified EPIC's webmaster to let him know that their site was being used fraudulently, forwarding the spam email and advising DON'T OPEN ANY ATTACHMENTS TO THIS EMAIL!!   "I’ve just received this forwarded email,” I wrote, “and I’m frightened because I know it’s not real."  Desperately, I asked him if he could send any information my way about protecting my computer.

 

Imagine my shock when the responding email said,  "This is real.  You are a finalist in the EPIC eBook Awards contest.  EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Coalition™ (www.epicauthors.com) is delighted to announce that your entry, No Darkness So Great, is a finalist in the Historical Fiction Category of the 2011 EPIC eBook Awards Competition™. 


Better to laugh in embarrassment then cry in stupidity!

 

Given my history thus far with contests, I don’t think it’s safe for me to attend the EPIC awards ceremony down in Williamsburg, Virginia in March, 2011.  Do you?






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