He Is Risen!

He is risen indeed!

There is nothing in this world that gives me greater joy than knowing that Jesus rose from the dead as “the firstborn among many brethren” after dying to pay the penalty for the sins of the world so that “whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This is the gospel…the good news…that we embrace and celebrate on Easter Sunday morning. Can you think of anything more wonderful in all the world than knowing that by simply trusting in His work we have forgiveness for sins, the means for giving and receiving forgiveness from/for others, reconciliation, and a life dedicated to loving God and one another? Praise God, from whom such blessings flow!


This glowing rose is blooming in my brother-in-law-in-law’s garden in San Diego today. Isn’t it fantastic? Snow on daffodils also has a beauty of its own, but I have to confess…it’s easier to appreciate a gorgeous rose than another lovely snowfall in April. 🙂

This week Alan and I scooted up to Traverse City to help host an Appreciation Dinner for all the hard work our doctors do up there. We had a wonderful evening and came away feeling like we’d met a lot of great people. There had been 10 inches of snow fall and another 5 predicted, so our hospital put us up for the night at the Bay Shore Resort, with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan out our window. We woke up in the morning to a pink sunrise over a lake so serene that it just thrilled my heart and made me feel peaceful.

I returned home to read the frightening news that a dear friend from our chapel, Tom, has a very aggressive lymphoma and the doctors are going to try a stem cell transplant.

It is so easy to appreciate things that are beautiful and make us feel peaceful, but hard to appreciate things that are painful and frightening. Tom sent these thoughts along to all of us with his message about his upcoming treatment:

“It is in our acceptance of what is given that God gives Himself.”

—Elisabeth Elliot

“The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21)

May I be found appreciating and praising God in the midst of both sunshine and sorrow. May we all experience God giving us Himself as we accept everything He gives us.

What Kind of April Showers Bring May Flowers?

We woke up to about 3 inches of snow this morning!

       Alan’s sister and brother-in-law are at our house this week. They’re on a 7,000 mile around-the-country tour in their corvette, visiting family and friends. Frank pointed out that they left California in the spring, hit Charleston, S.C. when it was 82° and seemed like summer, and they’ve now arrived in Michigan just in time for winter. Are they moving forward super fast or backward in time…or what?!

Joel had oral surgery today to fix his front tooth…something he’s had to wait about 10 years to correct after falling off his bicycle as a little guy (had to wait until he stopped growing). The patient is doing well tonight, but based on the fact that Joel is now “all grown up,” I’m guessing that time is indeed moving forward. And…that April showers, whether they are snow or rain showers, will bring us another bountiful season of May flowers…if I’m only patient!

“Tribulations worketh patience…”

Romans 5:3

What’s Your Idea of Success?

To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children … to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better … to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived … this is to have succeeded!

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, that’s Emerson’s take on it! What’s your idea of success?

For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story

I don’t recommend videos too often, but last night we saw a very moving portrayal of one Cuban’s struggle for freedom during the 1980-90’s called  For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story. It’s a 2001 production based on the true life account of one of the world’s foremost trumpet players, and it particularly touched me because one I have a niece whose parents escaped from Cuba around the same time. Vivianne’s dad was a prominent pediatric surgeon who left everything behind and had to start over without a dime in his pocket (although he eventually became a professor at the University of Southern California’s medical school). I found myself laughing and crying through the movie and came away deeply, deeply grateful for the freedoms I enjoy but so often take for granted. The freedom to work, to sing, to play, to pray…to sleep in a bed in a warm, dry house without fear of being awakened by an invading army…

Praise God for governments who desire to see “liberty and justice for all!” 🙂

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

2 Corinthians 3:17


What do you see in this picture?

In Sunday school yesterday, we had a brief discussion on the importance of good attitudes and maintaining a grateful heart. You know…is the cup half full, half empty, or just bigger than it needs to be? 🙂 I was thinking about the lesson this morning as I glanced out the window to decide how warmly to dress for my morning jaunt. I saw a world of gray and brown…not very enchanting. Forecast: pretty empty! “Oh dear,” I thought to myself, “my default setting is to see a gloomy global picture. Not good!”However, upon a more careful inspection (by actually going outside and studying the woodscape), I noticed that there are signs of life, even though it was very hard to get my camera to focus on them. In fact, I had to change the setting from “Automatic” to “Portrait” and use a flash to actually get a good close up of some of the emerging beauty.Ah, here we are! This is what I was trying to see all along!

This made me think of how I often fail to perceive God even when he’s right in front of my face. I have a friend who just read the book God Hides in Plain View.  My “automatic” mental setting makes it impossible to see him, and until I change my focus (and even better—get a flash of insight from the Word), I can’t get a clear picture!

Of course, even when I get my clear picture of something on this earth, I can still ask the question: Is this good or bad? Am I looking at the thorn or the budding black raspberry flower? Again, it’s an issue of focus! Our sermon was entitled “Think on These Things.” What things? Why not focus on what is good and hopeful in every situation? Be realistic, sure. Deal with the bad, but FOCUS on the good! I want to focus my mind constantly on what is good and practice learning how to find the best in everything around me.

“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Philippians 4:8

First Crocuses

Don’t you love it when the browns and grays of winter give way to spring flowers? The crocuses are the first to bloom around our home, and it always fills me with a sense of wonder and hope when I see them! There is life after death! There is hope of transformation! 🙂

Jesus said…”I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

(John 11:25)

Disney Dreaming

When you dream of vacations, what do you think about? For the last 35 years, our family thinks of our “home away from home,” Disney  World’s Fort Wilderness campground.

We day dream about past times with blue skies and a “cloud count of zero” over Cinderella’s castle…

and the big, silver golf ball at the entrance to Epcot surrounded by flowers!

We daydream about our walks to the Lodge…or between the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian…And most of all, we think about all the fun we’ll have together as a family!

This year, we were in for a bit of a surprise when we were caught in several days of torrential downpours (with a tornado that touched down just 10 miles away). Our campsite became beachfront property for the everglades.

And our close fellowship became even closer as we stuffed 15 of us into the camper for meals!

But, ya know what? Despite the disappointments over the weather, we were still able to do “the most important stuff,” like celebrating Jonathan’s 31st birthday,

playing with the grand kids, and celebrating Reuben’s 5th birthday!I didn’t get to take Reuben up in the big balloon for his birthday because it was too windyBut, Aaron and Alan did take the boys out on water sprites for some super fast excitement!In the end, we had a grand vacation and everybody was glad to have come. But, it was quite different from what we expected.

I think that’s the way life is for most of us. We dream and plan, but things don’t always turn out the way we expect, because sometimes our priorities and plans aren’t God’s. Someone once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I think contentment comes from relying on God to further His plans—whatever they are—in the midst of trying to follow His lead. 🙂

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thought than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9