Bird’s Eye View on Social Distancing

Don’t shake my hand, least not today; just leave the bill on in my front door.
Don’t talk to me or look my way; let’s stay apart at the grocery store.

Though birds of a feather, we can’t flock together
Lest we spread our COVID in this warm spring weather.

So, keep hunkered down and isolace.
Let’s stay at home, sheltered in place.

For this sad state I have no words
‘Cept: “Social distancing’s for the birds!”

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise
with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2).

*Credits—The lovely picture of the gulls on their nest is a photo I took from a little museum at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, but I am sorry to say I do not know who took the original. The rest are mine: from 1) Marquette, MI, 2) Bay Lake in Disney World, and 3) seagulls lined up for the ferry to Mackinac Island, MI (Well, maybe lined up, but you can see that only the last one is socially distancing himself properly! 🙂 )

Lost and Found

We mourn our losses
But find sweet consolation
In joyous rebirth.

My brother Rob, who lives in California, sent ’round this beautiful photo to cheer the hearts of his sibs who live in more northern climes. It definitely consoled me with the thought that spring is on its way, and the drab, brown grasses splotched with fallen leaves outside my window will soon give way to new life! How glad I am that death gives way to life when the sun arises!

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise
with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth . . .” (Malachi 4:2).

Now You See Me; Now You Don’t

Have you ever had the sensation that something completely disappeared from view, just like magic? Yesterday was March 20—the first day of spring!—and while I was driving, a bright, orange sun began to peak above the horizon, reflecting its beautiful glow onto the hood of my car. I wanted to get a good picture, but to my disappointment— just as I got to the stoplight—a vehicle turned in front, totally blocking out the sun.  😦Thankfully, I was able to take a pictures on my cell phone (not great resolution, but you get the idea) after the truck passed, while the light was still red.It was breathtaking! I felt like I was heading straight into the sun! As I approached the next light, the sun was so bright it was hard to see. Both the road and sky had turned to glorious shades of oranges and reds!Strangely, after I crested the hill, where I expected to be overwhelmed by grandeur, the sun was completely invisible! Where had it gone?The sky was still dazzling, but there was no sun to be seen anywhere! Was it the angle of the hill? The signage? The evergreens? Had the road (which seemed straight) actually veered enough to obscure my view? Where was the sun?Only after I turned off the highway onto a side street could I see the sun again.

I think seeing God is like this. Sometimes we catch a glimpse—hopefully even reflected in us—and we are enthralled. We feel like we’re heading straight into the heart of God. His light is blinding, the effect of his presence glorious. His light casts a rosy tint across our sky and even the worn roadway  before us. But, at times He disappears from view. If you try to show Him to a friend, they might think you’re just imagining things. What blocks the view? Occupational hazzards and business? Angles and perspectives? The writings and opinions of others? Beautiful distractions? Veering just a little?

We can all see the gorgeous glow of nature, but sometimes the One whose presence has created the beauty is not visible at all. However, like a stunning sun rising in the sky, God is worth pursuing, even if it means turning off the highway onto a quiet street.

Honour and majesty are before him:
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary
” (Psalm 96:6).

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

Supermoon Set and Supersun Rise

supermoon-11-14-16Did you see the “supermoon” setting this morning before sunrise?supermoon-on-november-14-16Having just returned the night before from a trek through sub-saharan Africa, supermoonAlan and I were wide awake at 3:00 am
and basked in the moonlight that filled the night sky.

supermoon-11-14-16 According to NASA, last night’s brilliant moon was the closest full moon to the earth since 1948. Because of its elliptical orbit around the earth, at “perigree” when the moon is closest to earth, the moon can be as much as 14% closer to the earth than at “apogee” (the point at which the moon is furthest from the earth), making the full moon look 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual.beautiful-moonset-of-supermoonI ran out and took dozens of photos of the moon during the wee hours and then shot another series as the “super” moon was setting through the trees just before dawn, when it was supposed to be its very brightest.

brightness-of-supermoonIf you missed it this morning, maybe you can enjoy it tonight,
as it should be very close to as lovely. supermoon-11-14-16If you miss it altogether, there won’t be another supermoon until 2034,
so it might be worth the effort!
supermoon-setting-behind-tressTo me it was, although I wasn’t astonished by the difference.
close-up-of-supermoon-11-14-16After all, the moon only shines because it’s reflecting the light of the sun.
It has no burning energy radiating out from within.supermoon-black-and-whiteIt did light up the sky like moonlight on fresh-fallen snow,
but no one could mistake moonset for sunrise. woods-at-dawn-11-14-16When dawn arrives, darkness gives way to light,giraffe-in-sunshine-11-09-16and the world is robed in clarity and color again
so we can see where we’re going!supermoon-mysteries-of-lifeThis life is full of darkness and mysteries now,sun-at-victoria-falls-11-08-16but won’t it be glorious when the super Sun of righteousness rises?!  doe-on-morning-of-11-14-16But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise
with healing in his wings
” (Malachi 4:2)

(The orange sun photo was taken last week at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and the giraffe photo in Botswana, but the rest were taken at home last night and this morning. More of Africa to come!)

For the Healing of our Nation

lotus-seed-pod-meijer-garden-10-09-16“Keep your face to the sunshine and you will not see the shadows.”
~Helen Keller

“In your hands you hold the seeds of failure or the potential for greatness. Your hands are capable, but they must be used and for the right things to reap the rewards you are capable of attaining. The choice is yours.” ~Zig Ziglar

“We need a spirit of community, a sense that we are all in this together.
If we have no sense of community, the American dream will wither.”
~George Walker Bush

“If we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fail.” ~Winston Churchill

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not,
but rejoices for those which he has.”~Epictetus

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity.” ~John D. Rockefeller

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
~ Henry Ford

“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you look at what you do not have in life, you don’t have anything.
If you look at what you have in life, you have everything.” (~Can’t find author)

“You can complain because roses have thorns,
or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.”~Ziggy

“We could never learn to be brave and patient
if there were only joy in the world.” ~Helen Keller

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world.” ~ Margaret Mead

“The first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself…Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, and humility.” (from Walk the Talk)

“We must become the change we want to see.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

“The depth of a revival will be determined
exactly by the depth of the spirit of repentance.” ~Frank Bartleman

“Hold to Christ and for the rest be totally uncommitted” ~Herbert Butterfield

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” ~Abraham Lincolnrose-in-rodin-museum-garden-5-8-16But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise
with healing in his wings
” (Malachi 4:2).

Best Remedy for Sunburn

Summer SunWith July coming this week and the weatherman promising soaring temperatures, I thought it might be a good time to share a story about a friend of mine (not one living here in GR) who was out working in the sun for a few hours last week and burned his back very badly. His arms (which had been exposed already for many weeks during the spring) didn’t burn, and he was concentrating on finishing his work, so it wasn’t until he came inside that he realized the extent of his injury. He was in pain for days, had trouble sleeping, and is just now starting to feel better…although his back is now terribly itchy as the skin peels.

As soon as I heard about it, I remembered a couple of miserable experiences I’d had with burns, and that my mother treated my back with vinegar, which smelled horrible but was very effective, so I recommended his trying vinegar, although I couldn’t tell him why it would work, just that I knew from experience that it had helped me. He was not convinced. I also remembered getting a terrible chemical burn from trying to process by hand my first bumper crop of jalapeno peppers from our garden. I was in such agony that I almost went into an ER, but when I called, they didn’t really make any promises of instant cures, so I started calling around. Finally, the Michigan State University Extension Service recommended soaking my hands in a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. It really took the sting away, although as soon as I took my hands out of the water, they’d start to hurt again. I recalled that after many applications and a couple of days, the pain subsided, and so after my friend had suffered a day with the pain unabated, I encouraged him again to try vinegar. But, he was still unconvinced. However, he just called not long ago to let me know that he had done quite a bit of research on the internet and found that vinegar was among the common home remedies, and that he’d taken a tepid bath with some vinegar in the water, which had helped.

Two things came out of this uncomfortable experience. One is that I studied up on remedies for sunburn, and the other is to think about how often I recommend Christ as the solution for the “burns” of life, but often find that others aren’t convinced by my suggestions. In the final analysis, each person has to anguish, study, and seek out their own remedies for their problems. Below I’ve listed everything I found for dealing with sunburn, but I still believe from my personal experience that the world’s best remedy is the immediate (and if needed, repeated) application of apple cider vinegar. I haven’t listed everything I’ve learned about dealing with life burns (because the list would be legion), but I still believe from my personal experience that the world’s best remedy is the immediate (and repeated) application of Jesus Christ, submitting to him as Lord and asking him to save and heal us.Setting Sun Play at Beach

Help for sunburns:

  1. Get out of the sun and into the shade immediately; keep cool.
  2. Cool down quickly in cool shower or with cold compresses to insure all soaps, dirt, or oil-based lotions are cleansed away. (Soaps are too drying, and oil-based lotions can trap heat and exacerbate the burn.)
  3. Apply apple cider vinegar to the affected areas; if you can, take a bath with tepid water and 1-2 cups of vinegar. Save the water in the tub and repeat several times at intervals if needed over the next few hours. (It’s a great astringent and also helps restore proper pH balance.)
  4. Moisturize your skin, but not with petroleum or oil-based ointments that trap heat and cause more damage.
  5. Use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen to decrease inflammation and relieve pain. (If you’re already on medications, you should check with your doctor first on this one.)
  6.  Rehydrate by drinking extra liquids, including water, lightly fruited drinks, or sport drinks to help replenish electrolytes, both immediately and while your skin is healing.
  7. Take it easy and sleep. The burn and pain will make you tired. If you can’t sleep, try sprinkling a little talcum powder on your sheets to reduce chaffing. If your legs and feet are burned and swollen, elevate them to above your heart level to help stop swelling.
  8. Consult a doctor if you develop these symptoms: severe blistering,  nausea, chills/fever, faintness, generalized weakness, confusion, patches of purple discoloration or intense itching.
  9. If your skin blisters, try not to pop the bubbles. (Some say you can use a sterilized needle if they’re very painful, but I wouldn’t recommend it.) Be aware that if the burn seems to be spreading, you could be developing an infection that might compound the problem.
  10. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Always use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher about 30 minutes before going out, even if it’s overcast. (You can burn just fine through clouds.) Don’t forget lip balm with SPF, wear protective clothing and sunglasses (good for protecting from the development of cataracts when you’re old as well), and avoid prolonged sun exposure. Take extra care between 10am-4pm. Remember that if you’ve been burned, the new skin is even more sensitive; it takes 3-6 months to regenerate completely.

There are lots of other ideas for home and commercial remedies out there. To name a few: Cool, fat-free milk, buttermilk, or yogurt compress; wet tea bags on your eyelids; 2 cups of baking soda in a tepid bath; aloe vera; witch hazel; oatmeal…and the list goes on, including some very expensive glamour options. But, I haven’t found anything that works as well as plain, old inexpensive apple cider vinegar. It might not smell as sweet as a commercial product, but I believe it’s the most effective thing out there. Similarly, Jesus Christ and the plain, “old, rugged cross” (which was expensive for God but totally free for you and me) may not seem as fragrant or glamorous as a more costly solution, but it works! Please don’t put Christ off and suffer along because you’re not convinced. At least try!

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38).Hot Air Balloon in Sun




Sammy at 40 Weeks: Looking Back and Ahead

Alan and KathiAlan and I just celebrated our 42nd anniversary, 38 weeks and it was especially happy and special for us Mother and Baby because our anniversary was the due date for little Samuel, November 24, 2014 Emergency C-section although—as you probably know—he was born 13 weeks early, back in November after Brianna had an emergency C-section due to a dangerous pre-eclampsia. Thanksgiving Day, 2014 Here Samuel is on Thanksgiving Day, and I was thinking about just how much has happened in the past 13 weeks, and how much he’s changed. November 30, 2014Here he is on November 30, after Brianna had recovered enough to love him up. December 16, 2014 Off VentilatorBy December 1, he was allowed to go from a ventilator to a C-PAP, December 8, 2014 Pneumoniaalthough the next week he developed pneumonia. December 19, 2014Poor Baby Samuel was hooked up and wired every which way! 😦 December 25, 2014By Christmas Day he was beginning to recover, but life was still really tough. January 1, 2015By New Year’s Day, we were all beginning to feel very hopeful that he’d survive. January 4, 2015However, then Sammy started developing eye problems, January 10, 2015and eventually it was decided that he needed to be transferred from his NICU  NICU Children'sto a more specialized children’s hospital in case he needed eye surgery. January 18, 2015Thankfully, his eyes have been improving (although they’re still at risk), January 23, 2015but now he has inguinal hernias that will need to be surgically repaired before he can go home. Preemie at term If all goes well, they’re hoping to be able to operate by the end of next week. Father and SonIf Samuel had been born at 40 weeks, he might weigh over 8 pounds today, the way his daddy did when he was born, but with all his extra struggles, Feeling playful we’re just delighted that he’s passed the 5# mark!
(Dan and Sam are starting to relax and have some fun together!)Opening presents at the showerLast Saturday, Brianna’s sisters threw a wonderful baby shower for her.Fun at the baby shower We had tons of fun, Opening Gifts at Showerand Brianna got tons of presents, toys, clothing, and stuff one needs to take care Sisters threw a Baby Showerof a baby, so now all Sammy has to do is grow enough to fit into his new clothes! Baby ShowerWell, I guess he will also have to endure and recover from his hernia repairs, learn to eat and breathe well enough…so lots of challenges yet.Sammy at 40 WeeksBut, the doctors are encouraging us that if all goes well, he’ll be able to go home in 2+ weeks. We’re not crossing our fingers, but we’re all praying it will be soon!

Elin FaithBy the way, if you’re willing, there’s now a new baby in the NICU: “Elin Faith Gillis was born on 2/12/15 at 12:13pm after a placental abruption and rupture of membranes. She was 24 weeks and 2 days. She is being treated at the Helen Devos Children’s hospital in Grand Rapids. She is 15oz. Her due date was June 2nd.” Thank you!

“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)