Category Archives: Relationships

Visiting Magnificent Santorini

The Greek Isles deserve their reputation for mythical beauty,  and of all the Greek Isles, I think Santorini is the most famous and splendid.  What I didn’t realize is it that Santorini is actually a group of  islands. It is a volcanic caldera
formed by one of the world’s largest volcanic eruptions some 3,600 years ago.  The steep cliffs are nearly 1000 feet high  and the lagoon over 1,300 feet deep! The day we visited, it was a cloudless 80° with a soft wind blowing—a perfect (but typical) summer day!  Temperatures range from about 49-82°F year round,  and there’s nearly always a breeze blowing.  In fact, winds from 35-61 mph are not uncommon, so all their grape vineyards sprawl flat on the ground to keep from being destroyed by the winds! Our ship, the MSC Sinfonia, anchored in the lagoon,  and everyone had to “tender” (take a ferry from the ship) to Skala Port. There is a donkey trail  between Skala Port and Fira, the town built atop the cliff there,  but to save time, energy, and Alan’s allergic nose,  we zipped up on one of their efficient cable cars, which gave us breathtaking views of the area for miles around! Although it would have been pleasant to spend the day exploring Fira,  the most famous areas are Imerovigli and Oia, considerable drives from Fira, so we hired a very good-natured taxi driver
who was willing to stuff all eight of us into his van.  Per hour, this was by far the easiest and most cost-effective way  to tour a large group (especially with small children),  and our knowledgeable driver gave us phenomenal driving  and walking tours  of some of the island’s most picturesque places.

Well, I’ll have to share the rest of our adventures in Santorini tomorrow, because my time is up! At noon on Thursdays (EST), I join a prayer meeting at the Aqueduct Prayer Center. If you ever want to join us, here’s the link:

https://aqueductproject.org/prayer-center/

(then click where it says to click for the “live video conference call”). Anywhere in the world there’s internet, there’s potential for a prayer meeting together! Let me know if you want to join!

Meanwhile, I just finished praying with Catherine through Psalm 92, and I want to share two verses of that beautiful psalm with you as today’s benediction: “For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works!  and thy thoughts are very deep” (Psalm 92:4-5). Remembering the beauty of Santorini makes me very glad, and I know His thoughts are deeper than the deepest harbor!

Morphing into Your Friends

Have you ever played with the phone app MRQSD that morphs your face with that of a friend’s? It takes the central part of both faces and swaps them out so your face is on your friend’s body. I’ve had a lot of fun with my kids and grand kids swapping faces! With my grand daughters, it looks strange but almost possible at times,                     but with my sons, the results of these games can get pretty bizarre! It reminds me of the suggestion I heard not long ago: “You should never enter into a relationship with someone you would not want to become.” While you may become involved with someone in order to help them (like the good Samaritan), I think this advice is really “right on” if you’re entering a relationship which could end in a marriage! The fact is, the more time we spend with someone, the more we will become like them!I love spending all the time I can with my family, but the one person in all the world I’d most like to become (or become like) is Jesus! Guess I’d better be spending all my time with Jesus, huh?! Thankfully, we can practice the presence of God with and within us 24/7! I’ve been working on this via a principle I learned from Optimizing Your Brain Fitness: “If you can see, then look. If you can look, then observe.” Focus. Attend. Concentrate. Sounds easy enough, but it certainly takes practice!

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

“O To Be Like Thee” (~Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897)

“O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

“O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.”

 

Is Anything Better than The House of Flavors?

Do you—like me—just love ice cream?  Did you know there’s a Guinness-world-record-breaking creamery
right here in Southwest Michigan? There’s nothing quite so luxurious on a hot summer day
as a scrumpdelicious ice cream treat, is there?

Homemade ice cream is probably the very best (or at least the most fun to make), but for everyday yumminess, I keep some of our local dairy’s “homemade” vanilla in the freezer for my hubby, who has been known to have an ice cream attack any time of day or night and any time of year.
However, our all-time favorite creamery is in Ludington at the House of Flavors, and we always stop in if we’re nearby!
The House of Flavors has been in the business for over 66 years, and they produce an astonishing 25 million gallons of ice cream annually!
They call themselves the Ice Cream Capital of Michigan, and with good cause! Last year I wrote about being there when they attempted to set a new record for the world’s longest ice cream dessert (which I shared about here):   https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/i-think-we-just-ate-part-of-the-worlds-longest-sundae-and-it-was-yummy/ .  

 

 

Their attempt

was a great success, 

and now the House of Flavors 

is really on the map,  so to speak!
However, they’re not just good at making amazing flavors of ice cream!
They have a full menu of inexpensive and delicious breakfasts,
 and they always have a turkey roasting on a spit (which you can almost see in the center of this photo) for their fantastic turkey dinners, 
which they serve throughout the year! 
We’ve been coming since our kids were little, and our all-time favorite treat is a round of turkey dinners but a shared “Original Pig’s Dinner.”   This one was made from four scoops of ice cream with names like Michigan Potholes, Bear Claws, Eskimo Kisses, and Tennessee Toffee, but you get to choose whatever you want…plus four toppings of your choice and whipped cream with cherries on top.Needless to say, nobody leaves the House of Flavors feeling hungry!

I know of a place even more satisfying and fulfilling than the House of Flavors.  It’s the place of quiet rest when we place our trust in the Lord and abide safely under His wings, secure in the knowledge that no matter what is going on in the world around us, God’s “got ‘ya covered!” Literally. Spiritually and physically. We can rest in the knowledge that He loves us, and like a loving father, He’s looking out for us.                      In a world of choices, I pray you will choose “the best!”   Our God exceeds anything in the Guinness Book of World Records. What other God is perfect in love, kindness, mercy, grace, wisdom, justice, and goodness? Who else is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, and all-present? What other religion teaches that God loves us even when we fail and has made a way to be reconciled to Him through the blood of a sacrificial lamb (Jesus)?  If you’ve never learned to love and trust this great God, I pray that you will put the past behind you and reach out to him in faith. As Jesus taught, “how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not” (Matthew 23:37).   May today be the day you join in the fellowship of those who are trusting God! How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.  They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” (Psalm 36:7-9)

(I took all the photos in and around the House of Flavors recently, except for the ones taken a year ago on June 11, 2016… the day they broke the world’s record for longest ice cream dessert!)


Did You Have a Happy Mother’s Day?

One of the saddest notes I read yesterday came from a young man who lost his warm and extremely gifted mother to Mad Cow Disease ten years ago. Mother’s Day was very painful for him. One of my sons (who is a dentist) had a patient this morning who was teary-eyed because she has four grown children, none of whom remembered (or cared enough?) to call her on Mother’s Day.

My heart goes out to everyone who grieves during the holidays because they have lost that for which others are rejoicing. If you do not have a mother, may the Lord comfort you. To the millions who have children who don’t care enough to call, may you know that God loves you even if your children don’t seem to. To all those who’ve longed to be a mother and have never been able to, my heart goes out to you. May God grant you a fruitful life even so.

I wish there were some way of matching up the motherless and those who long for children. I had a wonderful mother, but she didn’t understand the spiritual side of me, and so I developed a mother-in-love relationship with a couple of older women who guided me spiritually (until they left this earth for better things above). Now, I have a couple of spiritual daughters. There is no complete replacement for the “real thing,” but surrogate mothers and children are better than nothing, and frankly, it’s possible to have a wonderful spiritual relationship with someone who isn’t biologically related.

If you were lonely yesterday, please look around you and do a little prayerful thinking: There may be someone who’s just as lonely as you are. Would that person make a good friend? Could be a surrogate mother or son or daughter to them? Maybe by next Mother’s Day, you’ll have a reason to celebrate Mother’s Day again!

“And he [Jesus] answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3:33-35).

Finding Beauty at the 2017 National Medical/Dental Association’s Annual Meeting

In almost 30 years of being a doctor’s wife (plus seven while he was in training),I’ve been with my husband to countless meetings, but last week I actually had the joy of being a participant! For the first time in forever, we attended the NMDA’s annual national meeting in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. I loved everything about it! Ridgecrest is a beautiful Christian conference center (like Maranatha here in southeast Michigan) nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Black Mountain, North Carolina. Although—I have to admit—the schedule (7 am-9pm) was grueling, the speakers were outstanding, not only medically but spiritually…some brilliant, some extremely wise, and some just plain funny (but also wise). There were constant opportunities to connect (Midwest Regional Meeting), and get to know people (like Dr. Jim Hines, who’s planning to run for governor of Michigan in our next election; I’m very likely to vote for him!). There were many options for break out sessions on topics that interested me: human trafficking (by a female M.D. married to a police officer in Vermont),  moral ethics, legal issues, philosophy, and Christian education (in addition to more specifically medical issues). One of the really inspirational aspects was hearing about the doctors who received various awards for outstanding medical research and service. I learned many, many practical lessons from the lecturesand left with my heart and brain stimulated and enriched. I’d like to encourage anyone in the medical field
(not only doctors but dentists, P.A. and N.P’s, nurses, optometrists, etc.)
to think about attending the CMDA conference in 2018.

On the other hand, if you’re in some other profession, I’d like to encourage you to look into the possibility of a conference geared for Christians in whatever field you’re in. And, if you can’t find something…maybe you could start something! Finally, let me end by sharing one of the most provocative thoughts I heard, which came from Thomas Aquinas 800 years ago. His question to us is this: Is it possible that our battle wounds will somehow become glorious and beautiful? In heaven, will that which we perceive of as beautiful be virtue and character, not outward appearance? I love that! Wow!! Feeling ugly or deformed here on earth? I believe the day is coming when our spirits will shine out, and the measure of our beauty will be the radiance of Christ within us. Want to be beautiful? I do!

“Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me
All His wonderful passion and purity
Oh, Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”
(~Albert Orsborn/Tom M. Jones)

But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

(All photos from last week in North Carolina during the 2017 CMDA conference.)

Do You Know His Name?

Okay, so this might sound a little crazy, but it really happened, so I’m going to tell you! Yesterday there were so many family members visiting my lifelong buddy while her husband was having surgery that she suggested I come later in the day after the surgery was over, thinking it might be more restful to go out for dinner together after the company was gone. She texted me a map and the room number, and away I went, bearing a beautifully crafted, stem-entwined pink and white azalea tree as a gift. Because the gift was a bit heavy, I stopped at the reception desk just to double check where to go.

The receptionist cocked her head and knit her eyebrows. “I’m sorry, but there’s no one here by that name.”

“There has to be!” I pleaded. “He had surgery this morning, and his wife said he’s doing great, is through recovery, and is in his room.”

She studied her computer thoughtfully. “How do you spell his last name? One “n” or two?”

I spelled out his name again. Surely they couldn’t have lost track of him!

“Are you sure he’s at this hospital?”

“Well yes, I believe so. I know the surgery was going to be done at Spectrum…”

“Yes, but there’s the Butterworth campus and the Blodgett campus. Let me check and see if he might be somewhere else.” She took several minutes and even put in a call to someone. “Sorry,” she sighed. “We simply don’t have anyone by that name. We do have a patient with the same last name, but not one with the same first name. Could your friend have a different name from what you’re used to calling him?” I can’t give you any information unless you know the right name.

I thought hard. I had been friends with Tom’s wife for 55 years. I’d been at their wedding. The four of us had visited back and forth for the past 45+ years. We triple-dated with them and another couple almost every month. Was it possible that I didn’t really know this man’s real name?

Long story short, I was finally able to produce enough information on address, age, etc. that they took pity on me and were able to suggest I try the same room number at a different hospital…even though they still were not allowed to tell me his name!

I knocked timidly on the door and was amazed to hear Tom answer, as loud and strong as ever: “Come in!” I thought he’d be semi-conscious and miserable, but he was sitting up, smiling and cracking jokes with his wife and two sisters. Incredible! This guy just had major surgery for cancer, and (as Alan said happily that evening) he was already “holding court.” Praise God! Tom says he believes it was the prayers of the saints lifted up to God that raised him up so fast. Amen!

As I reflected on this experience last night, it made me think of Jesus, who was raised from the dead by God and “holding court” at a time when no one ever dreamed that such an amazing recovery was possible! Miracles never cease!

It also occurred to me that—just like my surprise at not knowing Tom’s first name—many people probably think they know Jesus without really knowing “the right” name to gain access to him. Jesus  himself taught us: “Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out” (Luke 13:26-28).

Just as I went to the wrong hospital (even though I was convinced I was at the right hospital), many people believe you get to heaven by being good, but that’s not really what God tells us in the Scripture. God warns, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, ESV).

But, what is “that name?” Is it Jesus? Is it Christ? What’s His name?

Just as the receptionist wouldn’t tell me how to find Tom without my knowing his true first name, neither can we gain access to Jesus and entrance to heaven without knowing Jesus’s true “first” name. Do you know what it is? Would you like to know?

The title by which we must know him is not just “Jesus,” a religious leader who existed 2017 years ago, or as “Christ,” who was the promised Messiah of God. The title by which we gain access to both the Father God and his Son, is Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as we learn in 2 Peter 1:10-11, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

What is it that we must do? We must repent of our sins, surrendering to Jesus as the Lordthe master—of our lives and trusting him as our one and only Savior from sin. Have you done that? If so, the Bible says you are “born again,” a new creation and spiritual babe…a sibling of the Son of God and a child of the Father God, with full rights to his everlasting kingdom and his home in heaven! Do you know his name?

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).

Rise Up, My Love (232): Mysterious Unity

Song of Solomon 7:5 “Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries.” Before un-entwining “purple” hair, let’s consider one more aspect of the bride’s head being like Carmel— which stands “with regal splendor even above the grandeur of the sea.” Here is where spiritual mystery leaves us grasping to feel with our hearts what our minds cannot adequately process. The Scripture repeatedly reminds us that the man is the head of his wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, which is his bride, the body of Christ: “The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (I Corinthians 11:3). “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). “And he (Christ) is the head of the body, the church…that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). “And ye are complete in him (Christ), which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:10). In Colossians 2:19, the Christians were warned about false mystics who were “not holding the Head (Christ), from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.”

Although the term “head” is used as an office of leadership, it is also—particularly in this last passage—speaking of the church…the bride of Christ…as also being the body of Christ in an organic sense. This is a spiritual mystery. How can Christ at the same time be both a literal God-man with a physical body and—in an organic sense—also the head of “the body of Christ” which is His church…called to become His bride? How can the church be at the same time both the bride of Christ and the body of Christ? The bridegroom marries a bride that is a separate person. How does it work?

Indeed, it is a great mystery…one of those things that we look into now but can see only “through a glass, darkly” knowing just in part what we shall know fully through glorious experience when we see Him face to face! Now we know only that the marriage between a man and a woman foreshadows what it will be like.

In our most intimate human relationships, we begin to experience the merging of two souls and the unifying of two spirits. We sense the opening of our inmost being to receive the intercourse of love from heart to heart and the communion of soul to soul. In marriage, we can experience the fullest culmination of union in the merging of two bodies as well as souls and spirits. As Christ prayed for us, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:21-23).

What an incredible prayer! That we may all be one. That every man, woman, and child who belongs to Jesus by faith in his sacrificial death for our sins would become one entity…cells working together in one body which is both the beloved bride of Christ and in some great spiritual mystery the real, physical, living, eternal body of Christ. Bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, having partaken of his blood and flesh, having become one in him. I stand in awe, silenced by my inability to comprehend the workings of such a mystery and the love that would allow me such privilege.

The Father loves us like he loves the Son? It’s true! The Bible teaches us this concept, and it is ours to believe by faith. The Father—who can do anything he wants—conceived a plan which will make us not only sons of God but a part of his organic body…even as the Father and the Son are one! Forever and for eternity we will be not only indwelt by the Spirit, but joined to Christ…and through Christ to God the Father as well! God in us and us in God…united and one in some inconceivably wonderful and mysterious way. And can it be?? Yes! Praise God, it can.