Category Archives: Trying to be our best inside and out!

In the Spirit of the Ides of February

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Maureen Churabrutus-and-the-ghost-of-caesar-public-domain-wikiMost people know about the Ides of March, March 15, which was made infamous by the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC and continued in infamy by Shakespeare’s famous play, Julius Caesar, written some 1643 years later.

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

However, did you know that February 15 also has special significance historically? February 15 was the date of an ancient ritual of purification, particularly washing with water, to purify people and their city from any evil spirits, which would allow the blessings of health and fertility to flourish as the citizens prepared for spring. februar_leandro_bassano-public-domainI don’t know about you, but I find all the dissension in America deeply disturbing, and I’m wondering if we might honor today as a day of personal purification coupled with earnest prayers for the healing of ourselves and our nation. It’s so easy to be critical of others…to make ourselves and our own values  into a gold standard for the way things should be. Can we instead humble ourselves and ask God to purify our hearts and straighten our thinking, so that we can see clearly and become a positive influence for good instead of adding to the cacophony of discord? There’s an old saying that “Charity starts at home,” and I think it’s just as true that “Purity starts with me.” Are we casting stones because we’re perfect and angry, or are we throwing mud because we’re frustrated that life is unfair and things aren’t going the way we think they should? Instead of adding to the problem, let’s pray that God will make us part of the solution by purifying our hearts and the hearts of our people. We can’t change others, but by God’s grace we can change ourselves. Then, I do believe God himself will rise up and move to work all things together for good…something no amount of fighting and anger will accomplish.mourning_mingrelians_pranishnikoff_1884“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” (James 4:7-9)

What Does Courageous Love Look Like?

courageous_love_movie_posterCourageous Love is being released on Valentine’s Day…perfect timing and perfect contrast with another movie just coming out that looks at “love” from a perfectly selfish (evil) standpoint. Mark A. Knudsen has written a powerful story to demonstrate what real love—courageous love—looks like. In this romantic drama, young Alex Shelby is shocked to discover that he’s become the CEO of his father’s engineering company following the tragic death of his parents.  alex-shelby-in-courageous-loveWhile relying heavily on the wisdom of the remaining executives, his own intuition, and guidance passed down to him from his father, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,” Alex learns to make the hard choices that integrity demands but could lead to bankruptcy for his company.  director-daniel-knudsen-with-actress-patricia-mauceri-1Monday I’ll share more about this inspirational movie (which I had the privilege of previewing last night), but today I want to spend a minute reflecting on the courageous love demonstrated by those who’ve written, directed, acted in, and produced such a movie! These are not Hollywood professionals. They are flesh and blood, every day heroes who have spent a tremendous amount of time and money, and they’ve invested heart and soul in developing a product to impact our culture for good…to give us a choice. Thankfully, I’m finding more and more such movies on the shelves of our local video store, which thrills me no end! actress-holly-houk-with-actress-kristina-kaylenAre we going to watch glamorous stars spewing profanity and teaching immorality as the new morality, or are we going to choose inspiring stories produced by a budding Christian industry that wants to exalt God and promote Truth? Courageous Love was developed and filmed right here in Michigan, and I hope a zillion people watch it, love it, and are inspired by it! Will you give it a try? It’s coming soon. Look for it! (It can also be pre-ordered now.) Please watch it, and let us know what you think!

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things:
and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things

(Matthew 12:35).

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing,
whether it be good, or whether it be evil
” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Chasing Slow All The Way To Hawaii

chasing-slowErin Loechner is young. I am a senior citizen. Erin Loechner is a blogger with a fan base of over a million women. I have yet to have half a million people even view my blog and no “fan base” at all! Erin Loechner’s new book, Chasing Slow, just hit the market three weeks ago. I’ve never had a book hit the market! One thing we do have in common: She has no clue who I am, and I have no clue who she is…or at least that was true until I accepted the offer to read and review her book on my blog.

Chasing Slow arrived just before we left for Hawaii, and I chased slow all the way there and back, as the deadline is today! Do I recommend her book? Yes, for these people:

*Women who feel a lion roaring inside them or are feeling dizzy on their merry-go-round. (If this makes sense to you…you’re in.)

*Women who own a Millennial, love a Millennial, or would like to understand the pressures on this now largest living generation, born sometime between 1980 until 2000 or so. Millennials are a cohort of 75± million precious souls who are the major target of massive marketing efforts. They live in a world of cyber connection, averaging 250 friends on Facebook and a median of 50 phone texts per day. They tweet, instagram, pin, blog, linkin and are expected to measure their self worth on the yardstick of what the world-wide web deems perfection.

There’s the reason the “web” is called the “web.” It’s sticky and few escape. Erin found herself trapped in the vortex and has been trying to find her way out.

But it seemed impossibly hard, because she kept feeding the lion, and he was never satisfied. Feeding the lion? I grew up eating the Word and brushed my cut my teeth on 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t feed the lion, resist the lion, and cast all your cares on God, who will care for you and deliver you from the lion (1 Peter 5:7-9; 2 Timothy 4:17). Sounds simple, but I know it’s hard. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to keep the lion fed. Both sooner and later he’ll just keep devouring you.

Feeling dizzy or empty? “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). That works better than yoga, brambleberry lip stain, or a double chocolate latte with whipped cream. Seeking fame and fortune—which comes standard on most Millennials—isn’t the endgame of life. Love and connection with God, family and friends is. Erin’s struggle to figure that out will inspire you if you’re a Millennial and probably distress you if you’ve stayed out of the fast lane, but she’s a very entertaining, openhearted writer, and she salts her mismatched analogies with lots of pepper, so if you can keep from crying you’ll be laughing as you read along her wild ride Chasing Slow.

(P.S.—Tomorrow I want to tell you about a Hawaiian we met last week named Larry Rivera. He played with Elvis Presley back in the day but passed him forty years ago by chasing slow!)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV)

Are You Tuned in to Donald Trump’s Inauguration?

donald_trump_august_19_2015-wikiToday is Inauguration Day… “the big day” that every American’s been waiting for, either with a sense of anxious dread or excited anticipation, or something in between. Are you going to watch Trump being sworn in at noon today?trump_rally_in_cincinnati-wikiWhether you’re lining up with the thousands of protesters in L.A. or have a room reserved in Washington D.C., there’s electric energy in the air across the country. I try really hard to avoid being political on this blog, although I am deeply grateful for every person who has invested his (or her) life in trying to make our country the best possible through serving in a public leadership role…a difficult calling at best and a heart-breaking disappointment at worst.  trump-caucus-wikiWould you like to be the president of the United States? Frankly, I would not. donald_trump-wikiApart from spending my life flat on my face praying to God Almighty for wisdom, I can’t imagine how I (or anyone) could possibly have the insight and courage to rule our country well. I have a few friends who are quite delighted with the prospects of Trump becoming president, and I have many friends and family members who vacillate between feelings of fear, anger, and despair.  electoralcollege2016-wikiNo matter how you feel personally, as Christians I know what the scripture teaches, and that is: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).  donald_trump_laconia_rally_laconia_nh_4_by_michael_vadon_july_16_2015_19-1Over the years, I’ve done more complaining and less praying for our presidents than I want to admit, but I’d like to encourage all of us to take up our role as prayer intercessors on  behalf of those who are in positions of authority… especially Donald Trump. Do you want to be able to live a quiet, peaceful, godly, honest life? I do. Let’s put our prayers where our complaints have been and lift up Donald Trump to the throne of grace, so that we (and he) “may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

donald_trump_and_mike_pence_july_2016-wikiWhen the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice:
but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn
” (Proverbs 29:2).

(All photos used by permission of Wiki Commons.)

Rise Up, My Love (218): Feeling Blue? How About Being a Brilliant Blue?

kathi-in-field-of-rapeseed-05-15-16-france-countrysideSong of Solomon 7:1. Do you ever wish you looked different? Shorter nose, lighter frame, smaller waistline, broader shoulders…whatever? Do you know that God made you exactly the way he wanted you? I still marvel at that and find myself asking, “Are you sure? I don’t look the way I would have made me…” Do you doubt God’s wisdom? Would you change his sovereign choice? Would you like to be a piece of pottery who says to the master, “Why did you make me thus?” “Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay?” (Romans 9:20-21). beautiful-ceramic-pottery-in-napoleons-apartments-louvreNo, we need to respond as the prophet did in Isaiah 64:8, “O Lord, thou art our Father, we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” May we learn to rejoice with the sweet psalmist who sang out, “For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands” (Psalm 92:4). Oh, the love and tender care our heavenly bridegroom has bestowed on us! Oh, for hearts to understand our heavenly husband’s delight in his wife’s beauty (that’s us)! And yet, we must also always remember that our beauty is really the result of his love, not the cause of it! africa-starling-in-ehlanzeni-saMay we never come to the point of becoming proud or lifted up, thinking that we are more beautiful or somehow spiritually superior to anyone else. Who makes us beautiful? “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee [emphasis mine]…behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires” (Isaiah 54:10-11). south-african-national-gallery-of-artThe next time you feel blue, remember that you are blue…deep down…for God has laid your foundation with sapphires! As a friend once said to me, “If you’re going to be blue, at least be a brilliant blue.” tanzanite-from-shimansky-diamonds-in-cape-town-saIn fact, our foundation is the brilliant sapphire, and the structure of our body (which is the spiritual temple to be filled with the glory of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us) is laid in multicolored gems…rubies, diamonds, and emeralds, etc.! If that doesn’t cheer your heart—then meditate on that last passage (Isaiah 54:10-11), and let it sink in! Finally, as we read in Colossians 1:16, “All things were created by him, and for him.” Not only did his great love culminate in our creation and redemption, he did it for his pleasure! blue-skies-with-grey-and-white-cloudsLook at Revelation 4:11, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Would you like to add to his pleasure? “Build the house [referring to the temple]; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord” (Haggai 1:8). How can we please our Lord and add to his pleasure? By “building” upon the house-temple of our body’s foundation with the gold, silver, and precious stones of faith, reverence, love, obedience… and the good works that follow in their train. Oh, Lord, may we rejoice in your work in us—the work of a cunning craftsman—and may we also do our part to build upon the foundation a temple of great beauty so that you will be glorified and take pleasure in us!

New Year’s Resolutions

candles-glowingDo you make New Year’s Resolutions? Back in 1973, one of my brother-in-laws playfully announced that his resolution was going to be the same as always: “More in ’74.” When I asked, “More what?” he responded, “Eat more popcorn, of course.” Forty-three years later, I’ve found that my resolutions are often alarmingly similar from year to year. “More in ’74 (or 2017)” is about right, but that’s more exercise not popcorn, and the second one is like unto it: “Eat less” (of everything). Alan was lamenting to one of our sons about our inability to maintain proper dietary and exercise routines, but our son consoled us, “Yes, but just think about what you might be like if you didn’t even try!” True enough. As discouraging as it is to be striving and never succeeding at maintaining a truly svelte body, there’s something to the striving that helps. So, I’m going to keep making my resolutions and “keep on keepin’ on” as I was encouraged to do at my alma mater.  fun-togetherBy the way, even though the first thing that usually pops into my brain when I’m examining my life is how I look on the outside, there’s something of infinitely more importance, and that’s how I’m doing on the inside. We humans are body, soul, and spirit…emotions, will, mind, heart…How am I doing at loving the Lord above all else? At loving others as I love myself? At growing in my spirit?

As we examine our lives this New Year’s Eve, I pray we’re inspired by these verses from Philippians 3:7-11: But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Life in Season: Cozy and Warm

life-in-season-bookLife in Season is a book of gentle reflections to “Celebrate the Moments that Fill Your Heart & Home.” It’s the type of book you’d like to curl up and read beside the fire with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. At least, that’s how I enjoyed it! vanessa-hunt-and-heather-patterson-life-in-seasonTwo sisters, Vanessa Hunt and Heather Patterson, open their lives to give you glimpses into what the Lord has taught them through their tears and triumphs…mostly as wives and moms, but ultimately as women. scars-life-in-seasonTheir meditations journey across the four seasons of the year, and the entries are a potpourri of lessons. quote-by-oswald-chambers-life-in-seasonAs I read, I kept having the fantasy that they’d cooked up a nourishing bowl of oatmeal, sprinkled it with craft projects and evocative photos, and poured over it some warm milk of the Word. hospitality-life-in-season                                                      Very sweet soul food. mind-the-gaps-life-in-seasonIf this sounds interesting to  you, check out their website, At the Picket Fence. peppermint-sugar-scrub-life-in-seasonIf you enjoy that, Life in Season is a new release that’s now available on Amazon. Or, if you live close by, you can borrow the copy I received for this review. It might be too late for Christmas this year, but there are ideas for Valentine’s Day and Easter at the beginning of the book…

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:8-11. ESV)