Cathédrale Notre-Dame: The Broken Heart of Paris


Built through centuries;
Burnt in hours. We cry, “Dear God,
Please restore your Church!”

“He restoreth my soul;
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

We stayed under the shadow of Notre-Dame last time we were in Paris and visited twice.

We sat in solemn resonance through a service.

We climbed the 387 steps to the bell tower.

We breathed in the ethereal air above the Parisian landscape.

And, we gazed in rapture at the dazzling stained glass windows. But, it never once crossed my mind that it might be the last time I would ever have such a rare privilege.

Yesterday, in a matter of twelve hours, a fire destroyed two-thirds of the roof and enveloped the interior of this iconic 856-year-old bastion of our Christian faith, which is home to more than half a million parishioners.

As of yet, the extent of the damage is unknown, although there have been reports that heat melted the lead holding the panes of some of the stained glass windows, and France’s largest pipe organ, with its 8,000 pipes, has suffered damage.

Nearly 400 fire-fighters battled heroically to save the twin bell towers,

although the cathedral’s spire has collapsed.

The stone exterior of the building has been saved, but so much of the interior was made from wood that there are questions about the basic integrity of the cathedral. Is enough intact for it to withstand rebuilding?

Beyond structural issues, Notre-Dame cathedral was filled with irreplaceable treasures, including seventy-six paintings dating back to the 1600-1700s, along with many other relics, statues, and carvings, some of which have been saved, but many which could not.

This morning, a team will be assessing the damage, and I find myself holding my breath as I await further news.

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has promised the world that France will rebuild Notre-Dame, and two french billionaires have already pledged $339 million towards the restoration. A call has gone out for the those who are artistically gifted throughout the Christian world to offer their help in the restoration. But, will it ever be the same?

The answer, of course, is that it will not! In the Gospel of John, Jesus forewarns his disciples that life will be full of sorrow and troubles, but that we can find comfort, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Even though we suffer great disappointments in this world that change our lives forever, that doesn’t end God’s goodness or his constant work within us.

God will make something new for us, just like He will make us new! As He promised in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. ” I believe God will help the world rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral, just as I believe God will give new life to all who put their trust in him!

God is THE God of love and mercy. He is always up to something good, even in the midst of apparent evil: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Our responsibility is to believe in God and do what He’s asked us to do: to accept forgiveness for our sins through faith in the sacrifice of Christ for us, and to surrender our hearts to Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He can make something new from the ashes of our lives, just as I believe He will make something new from the devastating loss of Notre-Dame.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:1-7).

*I took all the above photos on our last trip to Notre-Dame, in May of 2016. If you’re looking for even more photos and information, I wrote an earlier post here: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/the-glory-that-is-paris-cathedrale-notre-dame/

How Jesus Came Into My Life

The story of Philip’s conversion and consequent enthusiasm to share his faith is precious to me because it reminds me of my own experience. Many Americans grow up learning John 3:16 by heart (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life), but that was not true of me! In fact, my mother wrote in my baby book—in her list of funny sayings I’d uttered as a toddler—that I thought I should learn something about the Bible. My father was an atheist and my mother agnostic, so the only time I heard God’s name in our home was as part of an angry outburst if my father was upset.

For whatever reason, I never thought about God at all as a child and never had philosophical debates over whether or not He existed. I was totally ignorant and totally thoughtless. All that changed when my older sister won a trip to Washington D.C. and heard Billy Graham preach back in 1962. My sister was as irreligious as I was, but she’d never been to D.C. so entered a Bible verse memory contest with the prize being a free trip to Washington D.C.

She came home utterly transformed. Instead of fighting all the time (as we were wont to do), she became supportive and kind, even offering me use of her favored jewelry if she thought it would look pretty with my outfit, etc. The crowning confusion to me was that she stopped dating her current boyfriend, who was a minister’s son, because he didn’t believe the “gospel.” I wasn’t sure what the “gospel” was, but I figured you couldn’t get any more religious than being a minister’s son, so I was completely baffled by some of her decisions.

She couldn’t really explain things to me, either, at least in a way that penetrated my heart, so she invited me to attend a Youth for Christ rally with her. That evening I heard for the first time in my life that there is a God! That was news to me, but it rang true in my heart, and I believed it. Further, this God who created us and the world, loves us all . . .  including me! I was overjoyed! But, God wants us to be good, not bad, and all of us intentionally choose to do evil sometimes. (That was easy for me to admit as true of myself.) God so ordained life on this earth that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together) had provided a remedy for sin so that all of us could “come clean” and be reconciled to God through accepting the death of Christ as payment for our sins and asking the resurrected Christ to reign within our hearts.  I was mesmerized, and when the invitation was given to come down to the front to learn more or pray with somebody, I practically flew down the aisle, crying tears of joy to know that God loved me and that Jesus died for me. I never stopped to wonder if it was true. It was like a light turned on in my heart and brain, and I was all in! I asked God to forgive me for my sins and for Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I was flooded with joy and light!

Like my sister, I was full of enthusiasm but not very able to explain the transformation in my heart. My father (an extremely liberal professor), patted me on the head (not literally) and declared it was just a passing phase, pontificating that no thinking adult believed in God.

I’ve had many “adventures” in sharing the good news of Jesus since, but I don’t think I’ve ever become the excellent “fisher of men” that some are. Nevertheless, I will keep sharing my faith wherever I go, not because I’m a thoughtless (or thinking) adult, but because I’ve experienced the love of God, and it is better than anything else in the world to me. The power of God’s love is even better than a cure for cancer, and to know Jesus is to be born again into eternal life that will never end, not even when our physical bodies die!

If you’ve never come face to face with God, I invite you to “Come and see,” just as Philip encouraged Nathanael. Come and see for yourself! Read the Bible. Visit a church where they believe the Bible is true and teach from it. Talk to friends who believe in Jesus. Ask God to forgive your sins, and ask Jesus to save you and make you into a new creation: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5;17).

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
(Psalm 34:8)Since Jesus Came Into My Heart
(by Rufus H. McDaniel, 1914)

  1. What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought
    Since Jesus came into my heart;
    I have light in my soul for which long I have sought,
    Since Jesus came into my heart.

    • Refrain:
      Since Jesus came into my heart,
      Since Jesus came into my heart;
      Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll,
      Since Jesus came into my heart.
  2. I have ceased from my wand’ring and going astray,
    Since Jesus came into my heart;
    And my sins which were many are all washed away,
    Since Jesus came into my heart.
  3. I’m possessed of a hope that is steadfast and sure,
    Since Jesus came into my heart;
    And no dark clouds of doubt now my pathway obscure,
    Since Jesus came into my heart.
  4. There’s a light in the valley of death now for me,
    Since Jesus came into my heart;
    And the gates of the City beyond I can see,
    Since Jesus came into my heart.
  5. I shall go there to dwell in that City I know,
    Since Jesus came into my heart;
    And I’m happy, so happy as onward I go,
    Since Jesus came into my heart.

 

 

The Mystique of Nicaragua’s Masaya Volcano National Park

                                   Perhaps the greatest advantage of cruising             is that the ship’s captain does all the “driving” while you relax on board,  and every day or two you’re magically transported to some fascinating new place, often in yet another foreign country!  Of course, cruising is also like a 101-class in foreign studies, because you skim over one or two highlights in each country without getting a very intimate look into the culture. To me, that’s the major downside. But, we don’t have the time and money for both, so we usually have to choose breadth or depth. On our recent cruise, we sailed from Los Angeles down through the Mexican Riviera, stopping for just one day in each of the Central American countries that touch the Pacific Ocean there before we transited the Panama Canal.        Today I want to share about the Port of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua,  where we took a wonderful day trip through the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes.” The most thrilling event was being able to walk right up to the edge of one of South America’s most active volcanoes and look deep, down inside (closer than this mortal has been able to get anywhere in America…even in Hawaii)! This opportunity to get up close and personal with an active volcano is in Nicaragua’s first and largest national park, Masaya Volcano National Park.  According to our guide, Masaya Volcano throws up to 2,000 tons of ash into the air every day* and emits a constant column of sulfur dioxide, which can be seen all the way to the ocean.  He said the natives believe there are seven doors to hell, and this is one of them! When Catholic missionaries arrived many years ago, the local priest set up a large cross at the edge of Masaya, gave it the Christian name Santiago, and “baptized” the volcano in hopes of purifying it and protecting the people.  Masaya hasn’t had a major eruption since 1772, and beyond the prayers of the people for safety and relief, it’s also thought that part of the reason it doesn’t explode is because it’s able to “let off steam” every day!  Do you ever feel like a volcano inside? I don’t believe baptism alone can fix the problem, but I’m sure that Jesus can transform us and give us peace if we’ll ask him.  Also, I think it’s extremely helpful to be able to “give off steam” every day…hopefully not as noxious gas and spewing ash that harm others, but by pouring out our hearts to God in prayer.                             He can take it. He cares. He loves us. He will hear.   “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).   Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:6-8).

*That statistic surprised both Alan and me, but I can’t find any source to verify or refute it.

(I took all the photos a few weeks ago except for the gorgeous night shot into the volcano, which was used by permission of Leon Petrosyan via Wikimedia Commons.)

Humorous and Provocative Reflections à la Rogue River

launching-canoes-on-the-rogue-riverTime for another break! My oldest son, Aaron, was born on my 25th birthday, ducks-on-rogue-riverand we’ve had the joy of celebrating most of our birthdays together ever since.swans-geese-and-ducks-on-rogue-riverbankThis year was no exception, although it was exceptional canoeing-on-rogue-riverthat we could share the pleasure with Aaron’s entire familyshady-green-bows-over-rogue-river as well as Alan and Joel during a leisurely canoe ride down the Rogue River. old-snag-in-rogue-riverThis entire week, I want to share some photos from that serene afternoon canada-goose-island-on-rogue-riveralong with three series of favorite quotations on various subjects great-blue-heron-fishing-on-rogue-riverthat I’ve been saving up.bubbly-water-along-the-rogue-riverToday’s quotes are ones I kept because they made me smile:green-glow-of-indian-summer-on-the-rogue-river“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems,
but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”~Herm Albright
canada-geese-in-flight-on-rogue-river“People with a negative attitude brighten the whole room when they leave.” ~Anonymous leaf-and-sun-on-rogue-river “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
~Robin Williams sunshine-streaming-down-on-canoeists-on-rogue-river “I’m far from perfect, but I’ll be perfect for that imperfect person that’s perfect for me.”  ~Amanda Bynes  turtle-on-a-log-in-rogue-river“People often say to me that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing … that’s why we recommend it daily.”~Zig Ziglar quiet-paddling-along-the-rogue-river “Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.”
~Ray Kroc  reflections-of-birches-along-rogue-river“There is no magic in magic, it’s all in the details.”~ Walt Disney  trees-overhanging-rogue-river“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living.
The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” ~Mark Twain
canada-geese-along-rogue-river“To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.” ~Theodore Roosevelt…I can only wish that were still true today, but it’s not. 😦trees-reflecting-in-rogue-river“One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie
is that the cat only has nine lives.”~Mark Twain   study-in-sun-and-shadow-on-rogue-river“Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he’ll believe you.
Tell him a bench has wet paint on it, and he’ll have to touch it to be sure. Murphy’s Law” ~(read in Walk the Talk…but not always true, thankfully!)cormorant-on-rogue-river “Need a new life? God accepts trade ins !!”
(~shared by a friend, Pam Hembroff)

  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (~2 Corinthians 5:17)