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Showing posts from 2010

Mixing up traditions

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Thanksgiving dinner is coming up soon. At our house, food is beginning to crowd shelves and counters. And I'm not done shopping!

I'm looking forward to cooking for family and friends. I love when we can get together. Those times are rare since adult children have moved to different states during the college years.

Traditions evolve
We customarily celebrate Thanksgiving at our home by serving a traditional meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and the usual fixings.  Last year we went to a friend's house and sampled foods that were amazing. Laura will serve one of her mother's recipes again this year.

I love having many cooks in the kitchen. Everyone seems to enjoy pitching in. When our four children were younger, pitching in meant stirring the mashed potatoes or dumping canned green beans into a casserole dish. As the children grew, so did their interest in more interesting ways of serving green beans, turkey and potatoes. They have surpassed my basic cooking ski…

When it's fun

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One thing why writing is fun for me:
I enjoy putting words to images           or disembodied thoughts                        or a tsunami of feelings.

For me writing is something like capturing a moth and pinning it to a board. Then I can study the details.

I enjoy sharing what I learn.
How about you? What do you enjoy doing? What do you do when it is no longer fun?

Raking good will

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Fall is a beautiful time of year in Maryland. Red, gold, burgundy, green, olive and brown leaves festoon limbs and litter lawns. This is one of my favorite times of year.

Raking leaves
I raked leaves this morning from our lawn to the curb, sweeping them across green grass. In years past, children would help by leaping into the piles I made, and crunching dry leaves underfoot. This morning a gentle breeze kept me company, rearranged a pile here or setting a leaf twirling there.

I didn't let new accumulations of litter discourage me. I wasn't expecting perfection, only progress.

Some of our leaves scampered across to a neighbor's yard. I watched my leaves mingle with other leaves I couldn't identity. My neighbor's tree was aflame with bright leaves that hadn't yet fallen. None of the leaves I raked were hers. Not yet.

Raking good will
It only seems right that a homeowner with a tree could collect at least some of the leaves that litter a neighbor's yard.

I d…

Silence therapy

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I'm enjoying the silence of a quiet house. Nap time! Toddlers are sleeping.

Nana's soaking up the silence as a camel gulps down water at an oasis. Soon it will be time to snack on real and pretend food, color, or hold a plastic potato head while small fingers fashion a face. And best of all it will be time again to listen to the uncensored thoughts and feelings of small children's squeals or cries or giggles or chatter or gibberish or grunts.

Children are delightful. Children are wonderfully exhausting. And, yes, now and then, children present challenges for creative problem solving and quick prayers to God for wisdom, patience and perspective. As ever, God is ready and willing to provide for our needs.

Sometimes I miss the time when my own four children were young. Now I enjoy the moments and sometimes hours when I can play with small grandchildren or chat with an adult child.

Resting now will make playing later and the evening's work more enjoyable.

Sometimes sleep i…

Vote

Don't forget to vote on Tuesday. Your opinions are important. Make the effort. Make a difference.

Reading Stronger can make you stronger

Stronger: Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength by Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, is worth reading (David C. Cook, 2010).
In Stronger, Jim Daly shares his and many others’ experiences with suffering that gave them the choice to be “Beaten, Bitter or Better.” Throughout his book, Daly builds a case for choosing to let the difficulties in this life make us better and stronger as we find our strength and hope firmly grounded in God’s uncompromising love for us. God is more than powerful, and He can do more than we hope. 
The alternatives? We could grow Bitter, but that’s no fun. And why should we stay Beaten when Christ offers us purpose in and through pain and struggles?
Some of the principles are not new, but Daly’s stories and slant on a familiar subject breathe with the Spirit of God’s consolation.
I enjoyed reading this book. It is well-written and packed with inspiring stories and the type of truth that can be life changing. (Reading is one…

Aging with humor and grace

I have a stamp buddy in Florida who is young at heart. He is a marvelous example of aging with grace and humor.

Here is a link he sent me recently that inspires me to look to the future with a smile. I hope you do too.

Old Rock Stars

Why do it?

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In today's publishing, platform vs. content questions can inspire discussion among writers and editors. Publishers would like to publish great content, but they need to have buyers, so writers with a platform that attracts readers (and buyers of books) appears to be more  important than working with unknown writers with a great idea or content.

An online writers group posed a variation on the question of "What is more important 'killer' platform or 'killer' content?"

In response, I wrote out the following thoughts. Since this is a big reason why I write on this blog, I want to share here also.
Thoughts on ['killer' platform vs. 'killer' content] are potentially deadly for me since I don't have a 'killer' platform. This issue is important for those making business publishing decisions. I understand that.

However, for those of us who have messages, we need to be careful not to let this destroy our efforts to communicate.

I th…

"Seeing God in the Wake of Loss"

In today's Focus on the Family's Daily Broadcast, Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman continue sharing their journey of grief and faith since the accidental death of their five-year-old daughter Maria in 2008. In "Seeing God in the Wake of Loss," a multi-part program, the Chapmans share candidly about the difficult road they have been on individually, in their marriage and as a family.

The 2008 accidental death of their daughter Maria jettisoned the Chapman's into a journey they didn't choose. Not only are they grieving the loss of a child, they have struggled with questions of faith and hope that swell and churn in the wake of such experiences.


When feelings, questions, and struggles threaten to drag them under, they said they have been showing up for life. They're not going through this alone. God is helping them, and it is hard.

By Maria's graveside, Mary Beth spoke for a moment with her son Will Franklin, who was behind the wheel of the car t…

Dr. Perkins' legacy on justice endures

Dr. John M. Perkins, the keynote speaker at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference spoke on Justice, Compassion and Advocacy issues. Dr. Perkins has been a Civil Rights activist for decades. He accepted Christ in the 1960s.

During a panel discussion later in the conference, Dr. Perkins shared a story of the time he was brutally beaten by authorities in the South, to the point of near death. That's when he said Love changed him. Love, not hatred, filled his face as he spoke about those painful experiences.

Dr. Perkins has worked with writers to create several books on Justice, Compassion and Advocacy issues, including a biography. He works to change the world so God's justice can create reconciliation. God makes the difference where nothing else can.

The statement I found most striking? "I want to make Jesus Christ beautiful."

Books worth reading: Stronger by Jim Daly

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This sounds like a book worth reading. This is the press release:

Spiritual Strength Training: Life’s Challenges Can Make Our Faith Stronger
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly asks: Do we allow our circumstances to define God or allow God to define our circumstances?
Click here to watch the Stronger book trailer!
While serving with Focus on the Family, Daly has come face to face with many people dealing with heartbreaking trials. Yet on a trip to Beijing, China, when he asked a local missionary the question “How do you pray for us?” the answer was eye-opening. “We are praying…for the church in America to get more persecution.” Why would someone viewing the lives of believers living in the U.S. ask such a thing from God? Daly concluded that ours is viewed as a weak faith in need of strengthening.
As Daly began to examine his own life and the lives of those with whom he ministered, he observed that trial and persecution had a markedly different effect upon people, and he discovered that …

A new look and title

If you haven't noticed, or you're new to this blog, I've been tinkering with the look and focus of the heart messages I want to share on this blog. So, Sequoia Thoughts now has a new name, a new description and a new look. I hope you like the changes.

Come back often as we journey in grace to deeper understandings of the hope of his calling.

When love wears boots

Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. -- Isaiah 26:12 NIV
As a teen, I read love stories. I couldn't read enough. Some weeks, I read two or more.

So, my young heart thought relationships were all about feelings of love. Hollywood did much to sell that lie.

Although feelings are important, I've learned that love is bigger than that. Commitment is a vital component to a lasting love relationship.

Commitment does what feelings can't. Commitment is love with work boots on. Commitment decides to hang in there when times are good and when times aren't. Feelings come and go, but love's commitment endures.

These thoughts are on my mind this morning as I think about our wedding anniversary coming up next week. Thirty-five years ago David and I stood before a pastor, our friends and family and made promises I hoped we could keep with God's help. I must confess, I didn't really think we could get this far. My mother had b…

On faith enough to do what makes us come alive

Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that because the world needs people who have come alive."- John Eldredge "Wild at Heart"My only question some days to this inspiring statement is, when you're doing "what makes you come alive," who is paying the bills so you can eat?

I'm grateful for my sweet husband who encourages me to write. And pays the bills as God provides.

How about you? Can you stay alive if you do what makes you come alive?

Faith for today in the One who can

Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
       and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
       do not forsake me, O God,
       till I declare your power to the next generation,
       your might to all who are to come.
Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,
       you who have done great things.
       Who, O God, is like you?
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
       you will restore my life again;
       from the depths of the earth
       you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
       and comfort me once again.-Psalm 71:17-21 (NIV)

Unpacking

For the last several days I've been attending the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. My head and heart are packed with information and ideas. As I untangle them, I'll share some here.

Book Review: The Buzzards are Circling, But God's Not Finished with me Yet

In The Buzzards are Circling, But God's Not Finished with me Yet Stan Toler combines humor with sound biblical theology as he encourages and challenges those who face troubles. During these tough economic times, this book does much to answer tough questions and issues.

Toler's messages address a variety of difficult situations and life challenges. Toler, his family and members of his congregation have experienced a bevy of difficulties, Toler describes some of these as a massing of buzzards and then shares folksy stories, anecdotes and relevant scripture to dispel their menacing presence.

The Buzzards are Circling, But God's Not Finished with me Yet contains practical wisdom liberally mixed with humor in each chapter:
When Your World Crumbles, You Don't Have to be One of the Crumbs (You Can Survive Your Situation)Life is Full of Uncertainty ... but I Could Be Wrong about That (Gaining Confidence in Tough Times)God Created the World in Six Days and Did Not Once Ask My Adv…

God's love is limitless

In a recent Upper Room devotional, Mike Macdonald wrote: "Our Creator knows our limitations. While desiring our best, God is not surprised or thwarted when we fail to live up to the divine hope for us. God's love for us is even more abundant and unconditional than parents' love for their children."

We'll run into people (we may be one of them) who can't communicate God's great love for us as we are, where we are.  God's love stretches beyond our understanding. God's love is unconditional, it knows no limits.

God's love reaches beyond our faults, failures and limits. These don't surprise him. Nothing, the scriptures says, nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8).

Books: God Knows My Name: Never Forgotten, Forever Loved

Have you ever had one of those days when you want to climb into the sudsy tub of God's love and soak out the tensions and strains of the day?
If ever a book massages and soothes a weary spirit, this book does. The messages and tone of God Knows My Name communicate everything a beloved child of God needs to know about the heart of God toward those who believe.   

This book is biblically sound in a warm, conversational way.
I hope you or someone you love reads God Knows My Name: Never Forgotten, Forever Loved, by Beth Redman.

On "Trusted Advisors" by Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt often writes helpful blog posts. Today is a great one, full of practical and wise points.

Who Are Your "Trusted Advisors"?

Finding solid footing in God's love

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I'm meditating on rejection today. That isn't true. That's too tame a word. I'm wrestling with rejection today. Some days it's a mud wrestling match. I'm slipping. My feet and heart are reaching for the stone foundation of Christ's love and truth so I can get a better footing.

There's a lot of rejection in this life. If you work as a contractor, freelance writer or artist, you run into rejection. If you apply for jobs or compete for better positions, you run into being judged and possibly found short of someone's expectations.  If you're in the dating phase of relationships, you may feel rejected many times.

Sometimes you know why you're rejected, sometimes not.  Sometimes you're at fault and there is something you can do to improve. Sometimes when you don't measure up, the other may be using a faulty measuring tape. The difference isn't always clear.

Jesus dealt with rejection. He was "the stone that the builders rejected&q…

Transitions

I'm in quiet mode during construction and change. This blog is on hold for the time being.

Enjoy your summer.

Books: God Knows My Name: Never Forgotten, Forever Loved

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This sounds like a book worth reading: Finding Acceptance, Love, and Worth Redman helps women find their true worth in the eyes of the Father who knows their names
Click here to view the God Knows My Name book trailer!
In a society that defines worth by material possessions, professional success, and physical beauty, it is often difficult to feel worthy of God’s love and forgiveness.  Sometimes, those who are closest to us, even parents and siblings, can deeply damage our hearts by rejecting the person God has created us to be in Him.  God Knows My Name: Never Forgotten, Forever Loved is Beth Redman’s confident declaration that believers do not have to bow beneath these feelings of rejection and worthlessness.
Redman readily recognizes that no matter how good and whole we are, there are days when we all feel misunderstood, blamed, forgotten, and rejected.  She wants readers to recognize these feelings for what they truly are—the enemy’s attempt to make us feel anonymous, illegitim…

As you are

Cats are a comfort. They accept you as you are. Feed them, give them shelter, talk softly, treat them well, and they respond with love. Cats don't care who your parents are/were. Cats don't care what level of formal education you've completed. They don't care what your job title, or lack of one, is, nor what your net worth is. Cats just like you if you like them and treat them well. Simple.

I wish people were so simple.

God. Well, the whole God thing would be a nightmare if it weren't for grace. What we couldn't be and couldn't do for ourselves, God did, so we can come near to him and be accepted as we are, as Christ is making us into.

I wish more people were as smart as God. 

I wish I were.

Shadows

I haven't thought about her too much lately. She hasn't been around. He remembers her still.

It's been nearly a year since his wife died. Her sudden death swept him into a world without her. She was his best friend and more. He told her everything. No one, nothing, has taken her place.

Sometimes a sister or a brother calls him to see how he is coping. Sometimes he's glad to tell them what's going on. Sometimes, he said, he cries. Some men die shortly after a spouse dies, he shared. I've heard of that, I agreed. His faith is strong, he said as he wiped tears from his cheek.

All I could do for him was pray silently and listen. I let him share whatever feelings and memories spilled from his heart.

Death.

Listening to someone in grief casts shadows.

I don't think about losing a spouse too often. Today, I could see shadows of a future grief.

Hope and pain, love and grief swirled among his words. Faith also. He talked of eternal life.


There was a time I would ha…

Love restores

We've been walking through older homes for sale in Philadelphia in recent weeks. We have a contract on one now.

The home has character. A small vestibule opens into a large living room and dining room. The original oak arch separates the areas. An old oak banister ascends to private rooms on  upper floors. In the rear of the home is a modernized kitchen and private back yard.

Many of the home's contrasts of old and new are enchanting.

During a recent home inspection we looked more closely at floors, wiring, plumbing, roof and basement. For its age, the home is in good condition, the inspector said, but it needs some work and money to bring it up to and keep it at a well-maintained condition.  Some of the fixtures will need to be replaced, some can be repaired.


Love restores

I've been meditating lately on God's investment in us. He took us in our "as is" condition. He saw things about us that he loved. He also clearly saw the stains, scrapes, ruptures and bro…

Night glasses

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Have you ever tried to peer into the murky future? It's frustrating when you can see so little of what might be ahead on the path. Joys and future challenges are all shrouded in the unknown.
Have you ever stood at a crossroads and tried to see which path was better?
We make choices without fully knowing what affect decisions will have on our future and on those we love. We weigh available facts and pray. We wonder. Maybe we worry.
Fear can wrestle away peace of mind, if we let it. Fear of the unknown, fear of making a wrong step or a bad decision. Fear can paralyze movement in any direction.
Faith takes a different perspective. Faith looks not only at potential problems and tries to prepare wisely as time and resources allow, faith also looks to the One who promises to go with his children. 
God loves us and helps us. God said he would never leave or forsake us. The writer of Psalms 23 knew God to be a good shepherd who could find green, restful pastures, and still, refreshing waters.…

Heart dreams

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Don't give up because of obstacles. 
Keep trying. 
Keep learning. 
Keep giving your heart dreams to God
and asking him to help

with the next step
...and the next step
...and the next step.




Photo Credits: (c) 2009 Brown

If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil

I'm reading If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, by Randy Alcorn (Multnomah, 2009).
The section "Why Does God Allow Suffering?" offers readers insights on the following topics: How God Uses Suffering for his gloryHow God uses Suffering for Our SanctificationHow God Uses Suffering to Build Our CharacterSuffering can give Birth to Joy, Compassion, and HopeHow God Uses Our suffering for the Good of othersAlcorn's book is wise and relevant.

I want to highlight one of Alcorn's points which resonated with a recent experience I've witnessed: As dentists, physicians, parents, and pet owners regularly demonstrate, suffering may be lovingly inflicted for a higher good. Not long ago, I watched as a doctor/father held his two-year-old child and administered a breathing treatment.
The hospitalized child yelled "No! No!" as he pressed the mask against her face, covering her nose and mouth. Assurances and soothing tones did not still her cries. …

Some day my prince will come . . .

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It isn't politically correct for modern stories and movies to let princesses get so embattled by problems that their only hope is for a prince to rescue them. That's the old style.
     You don't see modern princesses like Princess Tiana completely helpless. Tiana works hard alongside her  prince to overcome struggles and fight off enemies together . . . all the way to the altar.
     In contrast, Snow White bites into a poisoned apple and collapses. From then on, she can only sleep gracefully in a glass coffin. She is completely helpless to rescue herself from the curse of the sleeping death. Her only saving grace was wanting the prince to come for her.
Snow White models an important biblical truth.
     Ever since Adam and Eve munched forbidden fruit, death's curse has been capturing God's children, prince and princess alike, one by one, and we've been helpless to free ourselves. God's true love, in Jesus, has the power to break death's curse. Those who …

Awesome God

Christ broke our chains

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of sin,

suffering and death

... so we can 
run

to our Father's

outstretched arms. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.        -Ephesians 1:17-23 (NRSV)

Hope through dark times

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Today I am meditating on the day after Christ's crucifixion. This day in Holy Week  doesn't get as much press as a joyous Easter sunrise service. 
The time between death and resurrection can be a pain-filled and confusing experience of jumbled memories, questioning, regrets, and anguished prayers. When someone we love dies, something within us dies also. Some wrestle with helplessness and despair.

The disciples experienced many emotions after Jesus died. Mary grieved for her son. The disciples mourned for their mentor and teacher.
If you've ever lost a child or someone you love, then you know something of grief. Perhaps you are grieving today.

God doesn't leave his beloved children bereft.
God's story of redemption doesn't end in death, defeat and destruction, even if it may feel that way for a time.
On a dark day, a time of hurt or grief, I've learned to ask, with the psalmnist:        Why are you downcast, O my soul?
       Why so disturbed within me?

Beauty for ashes: Home, by the Esh family

What's so good about Good Friday for Christians? Jesus opened death's doorway, so we could find the heart of God, our home.

Eight members of the Esh family went Home after dying in last month's crash on Interstate 65 in central Kentucky. Read their story.



The song with the lyrics:


Thank you, Shirley Brosius, for sharing the Esh family's story of faith. God gives beauty for ashes.

What are your memories of home? What makes a house a home?

What becomes of the broken-hearted?

Didi Benami was eliminated on "American Idol" last night. I expected she would be. Tuesday night Didi sang "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?" During a mentoring session with Usher before the show, Didi couldn't sing the lyrics without breaking down into tears. She'd chosen this song, she explained, because it meant something to her, because it moved her. Unfortunately for her and the audience that night, Didi didn't sing the song well. And her performance didn't move her audience to pick up the phone and vote for her.
     Sometimes we can be too close to suffering to be able to talk or sing about it in a way that is meaningful for listeners. I think that was what did Didi in. Didi's delivery was too affected by her own feelings to allow her to sing well or to provide a catharsis for others. Then, when given the chance to connect with listeners by explaining her story, she couldn't or wouldn't.
     An emotional Didi left "American…

What kind of God lets little children suffer?

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Suffering children. We've seen televised images of thin and battered Haitian children climbing through rubble in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. We've heard news stories of children who have been brutalized by strangers, or worse yet, by parents. We might even be one of those people who was hurt during childhood in ways that never should have happened.
Real life isn't Disneyland. Not all tigers are toys or a friendly person who is dressed in a plush costume.
How can a teacher or parent or any caring person see a hurting child and not say something, do something, to help?
I don't know how doctors can stand to watch a screaming and bleeding child be carried into an emergency room.
If we can care, why doesn't God seem to care? 
How can God have any kind of joy and peace while he sits in front of his big screen and watches children struggle and cry? How can God keep silent about what he sees? How can God let his children suffer and continue to suffer for any per…

What does Snow White have to do with it?

My granddaughter, 2 1/2, loves Snow White. Of course, she puts it differently. She says she IS Snow White. There is definitely a resemblance.

In recent days and months, I've watched Disney's "Snow White" countless times beside her. I've become a fan.

Snow White has a lot to teach us about life, the world, faith, good, evil, how to treat others, and most importantly about love. We could probably learn a thing or two about what it is to be a princess (or prince), a beloved child of God, the King of Kings.

In conjunction with the Let's Be Real series of blogs I have on my heart, I will post a thought or two on The Gospel According to Snow White.

The problem of pain

I find it hard to understand how a good and loving God can allow pain in this world. I've read books on the issue that have offered insights and perspectives, some I agree with, some I don't. Titles that come to mind are The Problem of Pain, by C. S. Lewis, and How Can Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Harold Kushner.

Some of the questions explored in the books included: If God is good, how can he be loving to allow pain in this world? Or if God is loving, how can he be good to allow pain in this world? Each author came to his own conclusion.

Each of us may have formed an opinion on the subject.

For a thinking person of faith, I think the existence of pain in this world is a HUGE problem.  


What do you think?

Let's get real: Life hurts

Sometimes life hurts. That's what I'm thinking about today, this week. You're welcome to join me in the discussion.

I have some thoughts on the subject. I bet you do too. You can agree with me or not. That's okay. I want to listen to you. I hope you listen to me. We may learn something from this sharing.

No holds barred. Let's have at it. I like honesty. Let's be honest. 

The Scriptures say, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." I believe truth can hurt. I also believe we can become freer people by exposing ourselves to Truth -- our truth, another's truth, God's truth.
Let's not be afraid of speaking or hearing truth as we know it. But, let's be respectful of one another while we share...
This is Holy Week for Christians. Good Friday is coming up soon. I'd like to start this discussion with something worth talking about.... the problem of pain. Is it a problem? Is God good? Is God loving? What kind of Father in hea…

Changing times, changing roles

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This week I'm Nana, helping with grand kids while their parents work nights. That's a different role than the independence I experience most of the time at home.

As I understand the Nana role, correct me if I'm wrong, Nanas aren't in charge. Oh, for some moments and some tasks, maybe, when parents aren't around, but not in the way Moms and Dads are in charge. And not when they're home.

Over time a parent's role changes from being a parent to helping an adult child be the parent. That's part of the Nana role I'm talking about. Tricky stuff.

It's challenging to slip wisely and gracefully into the Nana (or grandparent) role. Sometimes it feels like snapping on a scuba mask, squeezing into a wetsuit and fumbling with fins. It takes time and attention not to trip. I have bruises to prove it.

Wearing a Nana role includes slipping in a mouth piece. Good thing. It can get a bit bloody biting that tongue. Especially a big tongue like mine. Better to have som…

Are you bearing heavy loads?

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Broken tree limbs litter grounds outside my office window. A recent snowstorm dumped record levels of snow onto branches, lawns, roofs and roads. Several roofs collapsed in the region, many more limbs buckled under the weight of February's snow.
Younger limbs higher on the conifers survived the storm. Older limbs were not as fortunate.  The younger limbs have less area, less capacity, to hold wet snow as it sifts through the sky and slips from higher branches. Lower, older limbs which have stretched to gather sunshine further from the trunk have more surface area. Surface area can be an advantage for synthesizing sunshine, but a disadvantage when wet snow clings in heavy clumps. Some limbs broke under the weights of the storm and now litter lawns.

This image reminds me of workloads.  During this time of economic challenges, when more employers are cutting back, are you being asked to carry heavier work loads? Are fewer people volunteering to help a community project or in the churc…

Taming tech anxiety begins with remembering

I like to joke now and then about struggles I've had with computers. It helps to remember. It may help to share.

As a Web worker for our local church, I meet people with diverse attitudes and comfort levels with technology. Some are excited, some cooperative, and some are outright hostile.

A Web worker in the local church may enjoy spreading the word of Christ's love on the Web site, but loving words are needed behind the scenes as well, especially for those who resist change the loudest.

When I can listen and recognize frustrations or fears I've once felt, I'm in a better place to pray. When I can hear, "I don't want to have anything to do with the Web site" and not expect him to change, that gives him space to own his feelings as the whirlwind of technology invades more and more of his once familiar world and also his church routines.

Mastering technology is important, but it isn't the most important part of Web work for the church. Serving is. Remember…

Yikes! There's a spider in my Web

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I work on our church's Web site. It is a wonderful way for a writer and Christian to serve in the church, but it isn't paradise. Or maybe I should say it is similar to paradise on some days, but watch those spiders!

Spiders are creepy, crawling problems, thoughts and sometimes people that unsettle my concentration on serving God. They have eight legs!

Yesterday I tangled with several spiders. Yikes!

Today is a time for healing from their bites. My bandages have a smiley and the verse, "The Lord is good."

Since Christ could endure the cross out of love for us, I willingly and prayerfully serve him now on a Web. But I don't do it because I like spiders or their traps. Sometimes I don't even like technology.

No, I serve the living Christ who said he was the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christ's way for me has lead me on a journey on Webs and through Webs. Although they can be cool, I'm not enthralled by Webs; I'm seeking God's smile.

How about you? Wha…

Sweeter than chocolate

I heeded a friend's recent message to live simply and invest in relationships. In the aftermath of several monster snow storms in the metropolitan Washington area, I helped a neighbor shovel her driveway. We chatted a little. It was a rare opportunity to catch up on each other's busy lives.

No good deed goes unrewarded.

A few days later she brought over a large tin of cookies as an early Valentine's gift. I said thank you, but "Yikes!" I didn't buy that particular tin at Costco during the holiday season for a reason. Many little, tiny, delicious reasons and several hard-to-walk-it-off-the-hips reasons.

For days our family snuggled in the family room with that unexpected tin of cookies. Snow piles everywhere we look have outlasted those tasty gifts.

The rewards of being a good neighbor are sweet. I like her smiles.

I think I'll give her several of my yellow roses.

How about you? What non-chocoholic ways do you try to be a good neighbor?

Dodging calorie overload at church

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Do you ever get the feeling that people are more interested in your wallet than your best interests?

Ads on television strike me that way. Yesterday, during footage of the Winter Olympic Games, ads frequently interrupted the games to entice viewers to buy this product or that service.

I know, that isn't news. That's what ads are all about.

Often I tune out commercials. I'm just not interested in most of the appeals to buy this and that. The appeals come from their desire to sell or promote their product or service. Most appeals aren't focused on you as an individual and what you want or need. Long ago I realized that and decided that I can't buy it all, and probably shouldn't. So, I try not to listen to appeals that really aren't what I want or need. That's healthy screening, and it is a good thing.

What about commercials at church? How are we as smart consumers to respond? What if those ads are "dressed" in appeals to support deserving causes?

Fo…

Living Simply

I've been away, silent. I haven't had much to say. Today I do.

Our church is running a campaign on Living Simply this month. Big talks coming.

I've studied the topic before and I've been deeply impressed with some of the messages, so I can anticipate some of what is coming in the sermons. I've already read a message or two that have accompanied the church staff's campaign.

Living Simply. Not a bad concept. Not a bad pitch. Especially coming from sermons in today's complicated world. Life is stressful. Life is busy. Life is short and do we really have time to waste minutes and hours doing things that aren't important or necessary?

That's where the simple message of living simple can have an appeal to busy people -- return to the simple life of simple pleasures, deeper relationships and meaningful, not wasted, moments. Spend less, live more.

Ah, but this topic is frought with mine fields of simplistic answers and anything but simple motives.

There are peo…

Happy New Year

Merry Christmas.

Happy New Year!