Thoughts on Persecution: Being on the Right Side of History

Cardinal-Francis-George_110516_photoby_Adam-Bielawski “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” This is probably the most famous saying of Cardinal Francis George, who was laid to rest after a beautiful celebration of his life just one week ago today. Francis George was also the Archbishop of Chicago—a shepherd who was said to “smell like his sheep” (as Pope Francis says good priests will do).

For those of us living in America today, that dramatic statement seems more than a little prophetic. Here’s the end of the speech in which that pronouncement was made, and I think it’s well worth considering:

“God sustains the world, in good times and in bad. Catholics, along with many others, believe that only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, savior of the world and head of his body, the church. Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb, no matter their nationality, are on the right side of history. Those who lie about him and persecute or harass his followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up ringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression. There is nothing “progressive” about sin, even when it is promoted as “enlightened.”

“The world divorced from the God who created and redeemed it inevitably comes to a bad end. It’s on the wrong side of the only history that finally matters. The Synod on the New Evangelization is taking place in Rome this month because entire societies, especially in the West, have placed themselves on the wrong side of history.”

(Taken from the National Catholic Register, April 19, 2015, concerning Cardinal Francis George, who died last week.)

“There is no guarantee that the battle-front may not stretch some day into our own land. Hodie mihi cras tibi. (Today it’s me; tomorrow, you). If we show no interest in this matter now, if we shrug our shoulders and mutter … it is not our fight, if we don’t back up the Holy Father when we have a chance, well, when our turn comes, we too will be fighting alone.” (—May 18, 1937, spoken by Cardinal Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago just before World War 2.)

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
(2 Timothy 3:12)

(Picture from Wiki Commons by Adam Bielawski, GNU Free Documentation License)

Singapore’s Sensational Orchid Garden

Meijer GardenWhen Susan and I took Cindi to Meijer Gardens on her birthday last month, Pink OrchidsjpgCindi mentioned how much she loved orchids, Balboa Park Botanic Building so I told her about having recently visited San Diego’s Balboa Park, Balboa Park Orchids where they have this incredibly beautiful botanic building that’s overflowing Orchids in Balboa Park's Botanic Buildingwith 100s (perhaps 1000s?) of orchids… more orchids than I’d ever seen in my Lush orchids. Balboa Park Botanic Buildingentire life, and Cindi decided on the spot to put that building on her bucket list! National Orchid Garden 15Well, Cindi (and orchid lovers the world around), do I ever have news for you!  Orange orchidsOrchids are the national flower of Singapore, National Orchid Garden & they have a free National Orchid Garden that’s home to 60,000 orchid plants,Yellow orchid-lined path. National Orchid Garden including 1,000 different species National Orchid Garden 6 and more than 2,000 hybrids. National Orchid Garden 14 Orchids are tropical plants, and I’ve been really excited that I’ve been able Orchids to grow a few orchids in our sunny garden room here in Michigan. National Orchid Garden 16 However, Singapore is just 1° north of the equator at the south end of the Malay National Orchid Garden 10Peninsula and is the perfect tropical environment for keeping orchids happy! Garden Room They need no shelter, such as orchids need in Michigan to keep them warm, National Orchid Garden 11 nor do they need protection from the heat and drought,  as they do in San Diego. National Orchid Garden 13In Singapore, orchids grow by the thousands outside in the fresh air and sunshine… National Orchid Garden 8 rather like rose gardens flourish (with care, of course) in temperate regions. National Orchid Garden 7 Singapore’s National Botanic Garden consists of three artistically designed and National Orchid Garden 12meticulously maintained hectares of gardens built on the highest hill and slopes National Orchid Garden 1of Singapore Botanic Gardens (which happen to be the only free garden in the world that’s open 5am-midnight every single day of the year). National Orchid Garden 3 So…if you’re in the area, you can go before any other attraction opens or visit long after other sites have closed! National Orchid Garden 2 I imagined feeling like Eve wandering through the Garden of Eden. National Orchid Garden 9 What would it take to produce a life that glorious?

National Orchid Garden 4For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).


Leaving (the world’s largest) on a Jet Plane (the world’s largest)

Flight to TokyoSo, last Friday I showed you photos from our fabulous flight to Tokyo, but this morning I want to tell you about the rest of our adventures trying to get to Singapore. People waiting for flight Due to a problem with the lavatories on the jet we were supposed to take on our flight to Tokyo, we had to wait at O’Hare over an extra 2 hours for an aircraft to come in from London’s Heathrow. Tokyo at night The flight to Tokyo was otherwise without a hitch, and the seemingly endless sea of twinkly lights in Tokyo at night—a city which is now approaching 38 million and is by far the world’s most populous metropolitan area—was just mind boggling!!  However, the delay caused us to miss our connection to Singapore. Airbus 380Alan and I were dreading an overnight layover, but a smiling stewardess from Singapore Airlines met the group of us who needed a further flight and ushered us onto the biggest airplane I’ve ever seen! It turned out to be an Airbus 380, Airbus 380 Comparative Sizewhich has enough floorspace to carry 853 people and is the world’s largest passenger plane!  We were totally in awe of its immensity. It was also a very new plane and had  state-of-the-art everything, lovely food, smiling service (even for the drunk ahead of us who kept demanding more drinks), and a phenomenally smooth ride. There was only one catch! Specs on Airbus 380The dimensions of my height versus the seat size and proximity to the window, added to the distance between the inner and outer windows, multiplied by the darkness outside, divided by the light inside equaled absolutely no view. 😦  A Seat with a View...or Not!.1.23.15JPGNow, in all fairness, I will say it was better than the view I had not once but twice in the past 4 months on 737s heading to California. This, folks, is a fluke. 10-A does NOT have a window on some 737s, so be forewarned to never ask for that seat unless you’re seriously acrophobic but not claustrophobic. Almost SingaporeThankfully, there are little porthole views by the restrooms if you’re just dying to see what’s going on outside, and it was a very cushy ride into Singapore. I mentioned a while back that we landed at just about 3:18am…the exact time that Singapore’s beloved statesman “father” was passing away. (If you haven’t read about our tour of Singapore yet, it’s here): AirportIn all, we had a great—albeit exhausting—trip nearly halfway around the globe, and I’ll just give you one more quick tip I learned the hard way. Cheese or explosives? If you’re wondering what to bring for a really nutritious snack, consider not packing a one-pound round of smoked cheese. As it turns out, this is exactly the perfect shape and weight to be an explosive. They eventually let me keep it, but not without quite a bit of fuss to determine if it was legit! Singapore Airport Grand HallAh, and all that to tell you this: Biggest isn’t always best! If I had it to do again, I’d rather have a bit less pomp and circumstance and a bit more view!           Sometimes a little is better than a lot. Just sayin’ …

“Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith” (Proverbs 15:16).


Take Hold and Help the Homeless

Preparing lunchesDo you have people looking for handouts on the street corners in your town? Ten years ago, I would have said, “Not in my neighborhood,” but recently we’ve had people with signs posted near our grocery store. While visiting in Singapore, I learned that they have an unemployment rate of less than 3%, and the guide thought it was because “vagrancy” is considered a crime punishable by a public beating with a bamboo pole! While this seems very severe, the Bible does suggest that people who are unwilling to work should not be allowed to eat (i.e., no handouts for lazy bums, 2 Thessalonians 3:10). However, I have a friend who is a missionary in France and routinely gives alms to the poor, believing that if the poor could do better, they would. In fact, there’s an extremely high statistical correlation between homelessness and chronic mental illness, particularly if it’s co-occuring with substance abuse and/or chronic physical illness. So, what can we do as ordinary citizens? I’d been pondering what to do for the folks who stand on the corner near my grocery store, and an answer came to me Saturday as a result of spending the day helping out at an inner city ministry. A group of about 20 young adults gathered to prepare good lunches and toiletry bags that included handwritten notes of encouragement and scripture verses, and then we went out in small groups to distribute the food as gifts from Jesus, inviting folks to visit Take Hold Church (a daughter ministry from our church) just around the block on the main thoroughfare of our city in “Heartside,” the poorest area of town. Although it was a little intimidating, no one was hurt, and almost everybody was polite and appreciative. In fact, they practically flocked to us once they knew what we were doing!  Daffodil in vase As I returned home, reflecting on the experience, I saw a daffodil that had been uprooted while Alan and Stephen were raking leaves. It was all wilted and lying in the driveway. I love flowers, and so I picked it up and stuck it in the vase on our kitchen table. This morning, the daffodil looked totally revived and as beautiful as any in the gardens that hadn’t been uprooted. I’m going to pack a lunch before I shop, and if someone is looking for a handout, I’ll give them my lunch and a gospel tract. Money can be mis-spent, but food is a gift you know is good, and perhaps mine will help revive a soul that’s been uprooted and is lying all wilted beside the road of life.

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8).

Spring Daffodils copy(P.S.—This afternoon I got so inspired that I went out and found all the daffodils that had fallen over along our driveway. Hopefully, I’ll be as outreaching to people, who are worth infinitely more than flowers!)

Rise Up, My Love (134): When North and South Winds Meet…

Beach castles at Daytona BeachSong of Solomon 4:16 “Awake, O north wind: and come, thou south; blow upon my garden…Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” Usually our Lord speaks in a still, small voice, but sometimes he speaks through a mighty, rushing wind. I completed the above sections just as our children finished their final exams for the summer, and then we left for a delightful family camping trip down to Florida (17 years ago now!). The skies were cloudless the whole week, and warm southern breezes brought daytime temperatures into the nineties. We spent the week playing volleyball and tennis, swimming, splashing in the waves, strolling up the beach, and building sand castles. It was heavenly.

However, shortly after we returned, there was a terrible clash between the warm, southern winds and a strong northern wind that blew down from Canada. The result was a tornado that leveled an entire town in North Dakota and tornado-force winds that swept across much of the country, leaving a path of destruction behind. I learned an unforgettable lesson concerning what may happen when both the north and south winds ‘awake’ together!Trout lilies in woodsMy husband and I were awakened by the loud crash of a tree coming down (which by God’s grace didn’t damage the house but landed inches from it—and the head of a set of bunk beds where our boys sleep!). The wind whistled like a train engine roaring down the tracks, and we fled with our children to the basement. In a matter of minutes the storm had passed, and it wasn’t until the next morning that we learned the true extent of the damage. We were just nine of 600,000 people in southern Michigan who were out of electric power. Our immediate surrounds were declared a national disaster area. Leafy branches and debris were blown all over the yard and road, and more than twenty trees had been blown over on our property…some with massive root systems reaching ten feet into the air. A telephone pole had been knocked over by two trees, and the trail through our woods was impassable. The sound of chain saws rang through the air all day, and the younger children helped me rake and sweep until our arms ached.Kids with daffodils and grape hyacinthsFortunately, no one died in our area, and after several days electrical power and water were restored. Although it will take years for the woods to recover from the trauma, the rest of our property is pretty much back to normal and the birds are singing again in the woods. But, we learned so many lessons from the storm! One: when you invoke the north and south winds at the same time, you may get a tornado, so be prepared! Two: be prepared, but don’t be afraid. There were so many ways God protected and provided for us during the crisis. God always has his hand upon his children. Three: curiously, mighty oaks and cottonwoods fell, but not one flower. Not even the hanging basket of fuchsias or the roses budding on the trellises. There were reports of quarter-sized hail falling some places, but at our house the sweeping rains only provided much needed nourishment for our flowers, and the next morning the gardens glistened in the bright sunshine. I could not help but be struck by the thought that the 120 m.p.h. wind which demolished huge trees not fifty yards from our house had not touched our home or any of the delicate flowers in the gardens. It was a profound lesson on how God can care for us even in the midst of storms.

By faith, the bride asked for the movement of the winds so “that the spices thereof may flow out” and her beloved could enjoy his garden. God may send a mighty, rushing wind into our lives that topples lofty dreams or sends brilliant career plans crashing to the ground, but it will not touch the fruits of the Spirit. Rather, the flood of rain will only provide spiritual nourishment and luster to our lives and souls.Girl with Downy woodpecker chicks(Kathy has one downy woodpecker on her head and another in her hand.)

Lastly, the Lord gave us one special blessing in the storm. A family of fledgling downy woodpeckers was nesting in one of the trees that blew over. The children found the birds quickly because of their distressed chirping and begged to rescue them, but I advised them to wait and see if their own parents would find and tend them. My children waited anxiously all day for the parents to return, but alas, as evening came the pitiful chirps for help were growing weaker. Rather than leave the babies to starve, our children took them in.Feeding a downy woodpecker chick It took countless hours of faithfully digging worms and grubs and pill bugs, stuffing blackberries, seeds, and tiny bits of crushed nuts and suet down their beaks…hours of work and love…but now (back then) we have five robust birds who trill and sing in the bedroom each morning and hopefully are within days of being ready to return to their woodland home. Girls with Downy Woodpecker baby Raising a brood of five baby birds…and all the lessons learned along the way…was a great source of joy and blessing to our whole family… Brookfield Zoo and to many families, as the woodpeckers traveled as far as Chicago with us! Boy with Downy Woodpeckers on his capWhen we pray for the Lord to work, he does! His touch may be like a gentle breeze, or like a terrible electrical storm, but it will be for our good. He will always be with us, providing for us, overseeing our trials, and bringing us through…giving us sunny skies and times of relaxing rest, and then times of severe testing. But always, always, his work in us is to produce spicy fragrance and pleasant fruit in our lives for our happiness and his eternal enjoyment.Teenager and Downy Woodpecker



Bless Your Baby (Eighth Week)

  1. Metamorphosis Mother and Daughter 1.10“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2 (NKJV)

PRAYER: Abba Father, we claim you as our own precious daddy! Bless Baby! As I am a child of God by faith, may Baby become your child too. Help me to be faithful to teach him about you both by what I say and by what I do. Gift Baby with faith to believe in Jesus and someday trust him as his own Savior. Thank you for the truth that “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” May we all grow up as a household of faith where each of your children resemble you!

THOUGHT: Usually by this age, most birth traumas have resolved and baby is starting to look as adorable as a cherub. Does he look more like Mom or Dad? Before long, he may favor someone else. Enjoy his constant changes!

ACTIVITY: Jiggity…Ohh! Hold Baby securely under his arms with his feet resting on the ground or your knees, and jiggle him gently up and down, saying something like “Jiggity jiggity….jiggity ohh!” Vary the number of times you let Baby bounce up and down, but on the “ooh!” lift him gently into the air as if he’s able to jump super high.

  1. SnowflakesBaby with football hat on“He gives snow like wool; he scatters the frost like ashes.”
    Psalm 147:16 (NKJV)

PRAYER: Dear Lord, our creator, thank you for creating all things…for “stretching forth the heavens” and “spreading abroad the earth” for us like a mother unfolding a tablecloth and laying out a scrumptious picnic. Thank you for the changing seasons…for springtime and harvest, for the heat of summer and the snows of winter.

THOUGHT: Babies have very tender, sensitive skin, so they shouldn’t be exposed to extremes in temperature, but they can be introduced to many different touch sensations.

ACTIVITY: If you don’t have any snowflakes, how about letting your baby rest the tip of her finger for just a second or two on the frosty side of a glass of cold water or warm (not hot) cocoa? Let her feel the gentle caress of your silkiest blouse against her cheek and the luxurious feel of your softest sweater. Let her enjoy the tickly sensation of a feather if you have one, and the lush feel of rabbit fur (or your family pet, but wash her hands afterward!). Let her explore the feel of the curtains in your living room, the couch cushions, the walls…finely polished wood and coarse burlap, stone, or brick. If you have any flowers, let her feel the delicate petals and sturdy stems. Stand over the kitchen sink and pour a little warm water over her hand. Let her feel all the (safe) things she sees around the house! As a last “good feel,” wash her hands in warm, soapy water to make sure they’re perfectly clean again. 🙂

  1. Tubby Time Bath time?“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” Isaiah 43:2

PRAYER: Dear Spirit of God who moved upon the face of the waters and brought beauty from a formless void, please take my beautiful but largely undeveloped child and make him beautiful in spirit, soul, and body. Give him a cheerful heart that delights in doing your will. Bless him with kindness and compassion. May he love all and be loved by all. May he enjoy long life and see good days because he has honored you in all he does and says. Please keep him safe by night and day—both in his work and in his play.

THOUGHT: By now, Baby will probably happily float in a tub of warm water if you hold his head in your hands and support his back. (Keep his face and ears entirely above the waterline.) Most babies love to kick and splash, and a time of play in the tub will not only insure that he’s fresh and clean for bed, it will help relax him and tire him out so he’ll be all ready to nurse and fall asleep!

ACTIVITY: If Dad is up for the sport, try starting some first class swimming lessons and father/son bonding by having Dad and Baby bathe together. It especially maximizes pleasure and minimizes the discomfort of being cold and wet if Mom will participate by undressing and redressing your tiny protégé.

  1. Super Poops!Wide-eyed!“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7

PRAYER: Dear Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us, thank you for offering up your blood as an atonement for our sins so that we can become whiter than snow! Even as blood courses through our bodies every second, washing, repairing, and cleansing us, so may the blood of the Lamb of God course through our spirits and cleanse us spiritually.

THOUGHT: Sometime around now, Baby may go from having a bowel movement every hour or two to having fewer but bigger “super poops.” As you clean Baby, consider praying for your family to be cleansed and refreshed spiritually by the Word of God.

ACTIVITY: Is there any more unfun chore in motherdom than changing diapers? Make it a positive experience for Baby by expressing joy in being together. Congratulate her on her “hard work.” Sing songs to her or tell her about your day. After her diaper is back on, tickle her toes a little while they’re out and wiggling or massage her legs for a few seconds and help them do “bicycle” motions. Put a little pressure on the balls of her feet and see if she’ll press her legs against your hands. While she’s still on her back, pull her legs gently up into a knee bend position and back down. Almost every experience of life can also be an opportunity for growth and bonding.

  1. To Schedule or Not to Schedule: Is That the Question?Father with 2-month old son“To every thing there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)

PRAYER: Dear Ancient of Days, who existed before the mountains were brought forth and to whom a thousand years is “as but yesterday when it is past,” thank you that our times are in your hands. Thank you that there is a time and season for every purpose under heaven. Help me to discern your will as I try to plan each day.

THOUGHT: To schedule or not to schedule. That is a good question. A generation ago, scheduling was touted as an absolute necessity for bringing up a well-adjusted child. By Baby#2 I stopped trying to rear children “by the books” and relied more on prayer, love, and instinct. And, I think the rest of the children profited from the change. Schedules and goals are worthwhile, but be sensitive and flexible. It’s important to have a target, just understand that it’s a moving target, so don’t expect to hit the bull’s eye often!

ACTIVITY: Here’s a little nursery rhyme that babies love to hear:

“Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock!” (Run with your fingers up Baby’s leg to the top of his head.)

“The clock struck one— (Pause and clap Baby’s hands above his head while saying “BONG”)

“And down he did run! (Run your fingers back down from the top of Baby’s head to his toes.)

Hickory dickory dock.”


  1. A Perch with a ViewBaby sitting in a chair“For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit.” Isaiah. 57:15 (NKJV)

PRAYER: Dear holy God, who is high and lofty and inhabits eternity, it is almost incomprehensible to us that you are willing to “fix in us your humble dwelling” and desire that we should be your tabernacle…your dwelling place here on earth! Thank you that you not only dwell in the high and holy place above, where you invite us to be seated together with you in the heavenly places, but that you condescend to abide with all who, in repentant humility, open the door of our hearts and invite you to come in. Please come!

THOUGHT: Isn’t it exciting to see new sights…or “the same old things” from new perspectives? Give Baby opportunities to study her world from different points of view.

ACTIVITY: How many different safe perches can you make for Baby? Go from room to room and find the best spots for her to watch you. Can you make a secure nest for her on the couch? On a bed? On a table? In a chair? A swing? The car seat placed somewhere unusual? Don’t let financial constraints limit your options. Many places can be safe as long as they are warm, free from either hot or cold air drafts, and surrounded by appropriate barriers to keep Baby from falling.

  1. Daily Workouts “At the Club” Ready to Work out!“Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn your commandments.”
    Psalm 119:73 (NKJV)

PRAYER: Dear Lord, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, give us great understanding as we walk through life. Please protect Baby from harm as he begins to explore his world, and bless him with a deep desire for true treasure. May he grow to discern good from evil and choose good!

THOUGHT: I remember watching mothers waiting for the doctor at a free medical clinic I attended with my firstborn. Some of the women would set their babies down in the middle of a small blanket and slap the child any time he tried to move. I was shocked at first, but perhaps the mothers thought they were just teaching their children to “be good” and stay out of trouble. Curiosity, activity, and exploration aren’t bad! These are good things…even if they are inconvenient at times. Whenever possible, don’t slow your child down…rise to meet him! If he wants to explore, encourage him. Just be there to make sure he doesn’t harm himself or others.

ACTIVITY: A cradle gym—an exerciser toy hung across Baby’s crib with rings and beads to grab and play with—is a great investment even at this age. Although Baby probably won’t touch it yet, it will very likely arouse his curiosity and inspire him to attempt capturing it within a month or two.


Breath-taking Flight to Tokyo

747 flyingDo you ever fly in your dreams? I do…often! Flying over mountains Now, don’t get Freudian about this, but I think flying is one of the most exhilarating experiences of life! Lake Michigan shoreline from air Just about a month ago Alan and I flew from GR Ice receding on eastern shore of Lake Michigan across Lake Michigan Chicago from the air to Chicago, Rocky Mountains from the air and then on to Tokyo via northern Canada, Flight Map in Alaska Alaska, Mt. McKinley from air 03.21.15 past Mt. McKinley (at 20,321 ft, it’s the highest peak in North America), Bering Straits across the Bering Straits Arctic Sea and Coastal Siberia and down the coast of Russia China and ChinaJanpanese Islands?  into Japan.   The flights were AWESOME!! Alaskan Coast from the Air A huge highpoint of any trip Alan and I take is the flight from here to there, and I never cease to be dumbfounded by the majority of people with window seats who shut their blinds in order to have a better view of their tiny video screens! View out window of airplane WHAT?? Do people not know that the world is passing them by?  Do they not care? Why do they fail to enjoy experiencing the reality of what is right in front of them and prefer fantasy…videos…video games…books…sleeping?! Sunset on Transpacific flight 549 I understand that on a transcontinental flight we need to get some sleep because our flight is our night’s rest—what there is of it—and our body clocks get knocked unconscious.Flying over clouds and lake But, can’t people sleep when there’s nothing to see but clouds Flying in twilight over clouds or it’s dark out anyway? New moon from flight It makes me wonder what I miss of life that I fail to perceive and appreciate. Sunset over the Pacific Ocean Would I rather curl up after dinner with a good book than a good friend? Sunset on transpacific flight Do I pull down the shades of my soul and ignore what’s beneath me? Is it easier to indulge in fantasy than experience reality? May we never miss the majesty of the moment! Our only reality is the one we’re living. Let’s make the most of it!

Alaska from the airO come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”
(Psalm 95:1-7)Sunrise on transpacific flight Flight

Have You Registered for ArtPrize 2015 Yet?

60th Birthday Party for Alan and Kathi 2Last Monday at noon the registration for ArtPrize 2015 began, and I’ve officially entered! Would you like to join in the fun and frenzy? All you have to do is be 18, pay $50, and have an idea that you’re willing to turn from vision into physical creation. It’s not too late to enter. Here’s the link if you’re interested:  Alaskan Glacier 2 copyNot only have I registered, my entry is pretty much finished, which isn’t too surprising since I’ve been working on it for about 18 months!  I spent the first 8 months searching through my 120,00o-picture photo library for “just the right” 400 pictures and then had them all developed and framed. (Huge thanks to my son Joel for his critical help in getting them to the right place at the right time.) Back of frames Then, for 10 months the pictures remained labeled and boxed in a closet while I pursued grand-mothering. However, last fall the project resumed with ever increasing enthusiasm. I hired Silvio (the carpenter who’s pretty much transformed our home over the past eight years) to frame them in groups of 20 each with 2 sets per panel, or 40 pictures per panel times 10. Panel 5-6.9-12JPG copy The completed project (of which I have no single picture yet since I have nowhere to hang it) will be a mural about 10 feet high and 33 feet long entitled:

“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same
the Lord‘s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).

SummerThe top half tells the story of our family (and hopefully every family) living through the seasons of one year and one lifetime… sunrises and sunsets, flowers, life cycles of the wildlife and nature, and the joyous heartbeat of a family growing up, celebrating holidays, and growing older. This one represents later summer.16 Exotic Animals copy The 10 sets of photos on the bottom half each have their own theme, everything from water scenes to autumn scenes, animals to awesome buildings…magical moments I experienced and am now able to share! Bringing in pictures Just yesterday, Silvio came with his wife and one of his sons and delivered the pictures. Talk about excited! The grand prize is $200,000, but for me, the grand prize will be if every person who sees the mural is drawn to our Lord, who is the author of all our world’s beauty and splendor. It occurred to me that if I’d given up when the way was blocked last year, I’d miss all the thrill of working on ArtPrize this year.

Got any projects that you haven’t been able to finish? Any chance you can take them up again now? It might be worth the work!

10 Cathedrals and Grand Estates copy

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

Have You Heard Enough About Weight?

Berries in a bowlHave you given up on any visionary New Year’s resolutions you entertained about weight loss last December 31st? Sixteen weeks into my personal “healthy eating” program, I’ve lost ten pounds and am slowly changing from the inside out so that I often sincerely prefer fruits and veggies to most (not all) starches. Tea Sandwiches A fresh tossed salad with corned beef and Swiss cheese on top actually tastes better to me than a big, fat crusty roll stuffed with goodies…and I’m happier with a burrito bowl than a burrito! How can that be? Filet Mignon The other shocker was the blissful discovery that after three weeks on a cruise ship I hadn’t gained any weight, even though I allowed myself all sorts of fun things, tried a bite of every exotic dish offered during tours, and only limited starches and desserts (and even those not perfectly). Wonders never cease!!  Crawfish on smoked salmonHow are you doing? Only two of our original partners in progress are still checking in weekly, so we may form an email accountability group instead, since I am determined to keep at it this entire year until I reach my weight goal but suspect people generally are no longer interested in a weekly discussion of weight issues. Any thoughts or suggestions (including—if you’re interested— letting me know if you’d like to be part of an email group). Thanks!  🙂  Scallops copy While discussing uninteresting internal processes, it’s also occurred to me that posts should have one main point instead of trying to share everything. As a gabby girl, this will take a lot of effort. However, I’m going to put my word count on a diet as well as my body and hope the slimmer looks are better!

Sushi“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”
(1 Corinthians 9:25)

Celebrating Summer Setting’s Seventh Anniversary in Busan, South Korea

Cherry BlossomsSummer Setting‘s Seventh Anniversary was April 8th, although I’m a bit late getting out my annual update because I was out of country on April 8! Kids with Asians students by Seoul Tower In this past year Summer Setting gained 187 new followers (Welcome!!), was viewed more than 80,000 times, and has now been visited by people from 199 countries. Balloon stuck in cherry tree One of my dreams as a young woman was preach the gospel to “every nation.” Performance by Seoul TowerJust looking on the internet this morning, the U.N. recognizes 193 sovereign states, 2 more “observer” states, and  2 “partially recognized” states. Signpost in Busan That’s fewer than the number of “nations” from which I’ve received visitors! Whoever Coffee and Herb However, there are also 45 “inhabited dependent territories,” so perhaps that’s where some of the names come from. Love is in the air. Seoul Tower At any rate, I am rejoicing in the thought that I’ve been able to reach out to pretty much every nation via this blog. Distances from Busan Thank you, Father!  Seoul National Cherry Blossom FestivalLast year on April 8 Alan and I were enjoying Seoul’s Cherry Blossom Festival in South Korea…and this year on April 8th Alan and I were again in South Korea, Busan, South Korea although this time in Busan as part of a “Grand Southeastern Asia Tour” with Princess Cruises. Approaching Busan Harbor We were told that Busan was “small…easy to get around” so we went on our own. View of Busan from Busan Tower 2Surprise! Someone had no clue what they were talking about! View from Busan Tower Busan is nearly 300 sq. miles in area with a population of over 3.5 million. Busan View from Tower It’s South Korea’s largest seaport Busan. 5 largest container port in world and ranks as the fifth largest container port in the world! Busan Bridge Definitely worth a visit, Cherry Blossoms in Yongdusan Park especially if you can go in early April while the cherry trees are in blossom. Busan Tower We took a taxi to the base of the Busan Tower Busan Tower above Cherry Blossoms (you still have to climb lots of stairs to reach the top), Busan and from there we got a bird’s eye view of the city. Shrine in Yongdusan Park After checking out Yongdusan Park at the base of the tower, Cherry trees in Yondusan Park we walked downtown Jagalchi Fish Market to marvel at Jagalchi Fish Market 3 all the peculiar offerings Jagalchi Fish Market 2 at the world’s largest fish market, Crabs at Jagalchi Market Jagalchi Market (which also seemed to have some of the world’s largest crabs…Crabs at Jagalchi Marketmany of whom seemed intent on escaping)!Lunch at Jagalchi Fish Market If you go to Jagalchi Market around lunch time, it’s a great place to eat. Choosing Seafood at Jagalchi Market You can point to whatever you’d like, Fish frying at Jagalchi Market and they’ll cook it on the spot for you! Kathi in Yongdusan Park  When Alan and I were in South Korea on April 8, 2014, Bell Shrine in Yongdusan Park it never crossed our minds that we might actually be in South Korea View of Busan from Sapphire Princess exactly one year later, and I didn’t really even realize this was true until today. Camilia Rose. Yongdusan Park 4.8.15 copy Life is always full of surprises! I can’t imagine we’ll ever be in South Korea again, but you never know. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Lockets and promises at Yongdusan ParkHowever, even though we change and our circumstances change, God’s person and attributes, his purposes and promises, never do! Lockets at Yongdusan Park. Busan He is always the same…
“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).