Dried Tears

Dear Reader,

My mom’s death is still recent, slightly over one month.  The first weeks I was numb, and was carried by family, Memorial service preparations, company and great support.  Then the shock of her death hit.  And now, the tears.  Grief barged into the house without an invitation.  It appears to have no intention of leaving in the near future.

So, to help manage it, I’m doing the following:

  1. Investigate as best I can about what exactly occurred to her physically, what caused her death. I did that, and I am at rest with it.  I also took a day to “protest” her death before the Lord, and that felt incredibly good.
  2. Support myself through the grief in these ways:
  • write her letters
  • talk with family and others about her life/ death
  • see my counselor
  • sing worship songs at the piano or listen to them online
  • write thank you notes or notes of explanation to people who care
  • read several books, currently: Experiencing Grief— Norman Wright, A Grief Observed—C. S. Lewis, Nearing Home—Billy Graham, Life After Loss—Bob Dietz, scriptures about heaven (only a partial help, but interesting in content). Also to come: Grieving the Death of a Mother (H. Smith) & The Mourning Handbook (Helen Fitzgerald.)
  • journal
  • let the tears fall; they cannot and should not be stopped: aren’t they from the heart of God?
  • plan a trip back to Michigan and walk where I did as a child; interview cousins/family members about her, so that I can finish her life story with our voices

This I do to take care of me, that I might recover from the unexpected “kidnapping” of her presence. (God has the right to do that, after all, He took Enoch and Elijah with little warning at all.)

All these things are helping. But I haven’t figured out how to handle life’s joys and excitements without her here to share it with. How do I do that?  She used to rejoice with me in the Lord over wonderful things that happened!  My grandson Rowan was baptized only months ago, and how we delighted over the phone about that.  And my nephew Casey just became engaged and announced it on Mother’s Day, our last family gathering with Mother still among us.

Last weekend, there were new wonderful things……..some neat surprise visitors come to my show on Saturday….and on Sunday, I taught a great lesson on the life of Isaiah in a children’s class.  I wanted to call her and say, “Guess what, Mom?  Michelle and Alf sold their house, isn’t that wonderful?  Mom?”

But she is gone. I want to see her face, and I cannot. The silence is a most uncomfortable quiet.

I surely do miss her, my friend, my fan, my fellow rejoicer in the Lord. Perhaps my next strategy will be to just talk to her as if she were sitting in the chair in my living room?

I have to come up with something.  If I don’t, life without her is going to feel more pitiable than a lost duckling at night.  I have to find my way now without her, like I had to as a girl—feeling my way down the long, dark hallway during the night, to get to the bathroom. It was foreboding.  But this is my new assignment, to live without her here.

Yesterday I went online to a music site given me by a friend. I was thirsty to hear something beautiful. One worshipful melody led to another. My tears began to dry up. I found a group of college students in Canada (from Fountainview Academy) who sang this song. It made me feel connected to my mother. I am singing it now.  And my tears are gone.

‘Wonderful Words of Life by Phillip W. Bliss, 1874

Scriptures:  John 6: 63, 68  and Phil. 2: 15 & 16

Sing them over again to me,
Wonderful words of life,
Let me more of their beauty see,
Wonderful words of life;
Words of life and beauty
Teach me faith and duty.

Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life;
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life.

Christ, the blessed One, gives to all
Wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list to the loving call,
Wonderful words of life;
All so freely given,
Wooing us to heaven.

Sweetly echo the Gospel call,
Wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all,
Wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior,
Sanctify us forever.


In Closing:  Today a friend stopped by. As we talked, I remembered a strategy for what to do when something has overwhelmed me.  Per chance, why not apply it to my sorrow?

Here it is:  Stretch out both your hands with the palms up.  Upon both of them, put the concern or trouble and pray, “Lord, what would you like to do with this? (because I can’t handle it.)”

So Lord, today I place this sorrow for Mother in my opened hands.  What would you like to do with it?  (Repeat this prayer as many times as you are troubled, and the Lord will do something astounding with it!  When I first began using this strategy, I had to put the anguish into my hands over a hundred times per day. Over time, it became less.  And then lesser still, a week later…  In time, the ________ was all gone.[Fill in the blank!]

May the Lord of Mercy bless and strengthen us for what He has assigned.

The Trip of a Lifetime

This morning I awoke to the tune and words of: “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus” rolling around in my head. We had begun Mother’s Memorial service with it, thanks to the Lord recently giving it to my oldest daughter to sing at her church in Marietta, Georgia weeks before.  Our remembrances of Mom couldn’t have begun in a more precious way.  Thank you, Lord.  Thank you, Becky.  Here are its words by Charles E. Weigle.  (Find and listen to it, if you can.)

I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus, since I found in Him a friend so strong and true.

I would tell you that He changed my life completely. He did something that no other friend could do.


No one ever cared for me like Jesus. There’s no other friend so kind as He.

No one else could take the sin and darkness from me.

O how much He cares for me!


Every day He comes to me with new assurance. More and more I understand His words of love.

But I’ll never know just why He came to save me, ‘t
il someday I’ll see His blessed face above.  


My adorable mother died of intestinal failure recently.  It is still fairly surreal.  Her condition became unexpectedly perilous, for at her fragile age of ninety-three, there was no way to recover from the slide.  I had the privilege of being with her that second day of her hospital trial. My sister and brother tried to get here quickly.  We had no idea it would be her last full day on earth.

It was not as if we didn’t know that at some point God would probably call her Home.  My sister and I talked about her becoming more delicate many times. I’d tell my daughters we probably could not expect much more time with her. There’d been a radical change in her physical abilities— she couldn’t travel any longer, even to cross the city to my house.  Up until then, she was vibrant and energetic, a well preserved woman for her age.

My counselor says not to dwell on the suffering of Mom’s last days, rather think of the happy times we shared.  That matches what Philippians 4 tells us: whatever is good and pure, whatever is right, think on these things…

Mornings are the hardest, waking up to the reality of her absence.  I used to call her several times a week, to hear her voice. This loss is giant.  But I’ve been told it is healthy grieving to keep the communiqué going.  So I talk to her and began a notebook, “Letters to Mom.”  I write about the last weeks, my feelings, my regrets, tell her I’m thinking of her, what’s new:  things she’d like to know about, things she’d understand. Talking and writing to her sustain me.  And there are other things that help.

If a family member or friend calls, how sweet.  Meals have been brought to us, how wonderful.  Three gifts of gorgeous flowers, wow!  A relative sent a Honey baked ham, how kind is that?  Cards have flowed in.  A pal asked me to come over and swim, she herself going through chemo with struggles of her own. My husband strives to be understanding of my emotional sensitivity.  My sister mourns beside me, knowing how to sympathize instantly.  I reach out to my stepfather whose pain stings, without his darling mate at his side.  (He is ninety.)  And then there is music, uplifting music like this gifted song “No One Ever…” I sit at my piano and play it many times over.

Plus, we have the hardiest comfort of all:  God’s communiqué to us. Yesterday I found a balm in First Corinthians 9: 1,2: “Am I not free?  Am I not an apostle?  Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?  You are the seal* of my apostleship in the Lord.”  Paul was explaining his credibility as an apostle of Jesus Christ, and the application is rich.

Mom was Jesus’s “apostle.”  She loved and lived His gospel; shared it with all who came into her presence.  Now she’s free!  Her eyes are no longer irritated but whole, with 20/20 vision!  We who “follow” her are her spiritual fruit, her “seal,”* evidence of her loyalty to the Lord.  We can honor her life by living with that same unwavering faith in Jesus.

The morning knowledge that Mom’s gone is not how I like starting my day.  Waking up isn’t for the fainthearted.  But Reality is God’s Plan.  We are only visitors in this world.  Mom knew the end was near, that last day.  She stayed as long as she could, then it became her turn to travel.  She had lived well, and her pre-paid ticket to Heaven was at the “Will Hold” table before its gates.  Splendorous!  She’s no longer restrained by a frail body!  She took her trip of a lifetime!  She has to be rejoicing with her Savior and our adorable relatives and friends who went before her.  She requested the song, “I Can Only Imagine” which ended the Memorial. (I imagine the Lord let her view her Celebration service–hurray!)

We can rejoice.  I do rejoice, for in just a blink or two, I’ll be with her again!

One of God’s names is God of Comfort.  I love that.  May the Lord bless and comfort you, if you mourn.  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  ~Matthew 5:4     If you want to write, I’m at: tdthomas2000@gmail.com.

Never Separated

Never Separated

The bird was not destined for longevity.  But it did make it to adulthood, long enough to enjoy many worms and bugs, inhabit the trees of Kennisaw Mountain and fly among them.

I was walking my grandchildren to school this week while visiting them in Georgia.  Our route was a sidewalk adjacent to a busy thoroughfare, so our hands were firmly clasped.  To our right was a forest of very tall trees.  In no more than a brief moment, there was squawking and fluttering of wings, and something swooped down from overhead and fell into the road.  It was no more than three feet from the curb, right in front of our faces.

“What’s that?” Emmalin said.

“Oh my, I think it’s a crow,” I said.  We stopped, stared at it.

“It’s hurt, Grandma,” Rowan said.  It landed with its feet and one wing crumpled underneath.  His head was erect and his eyes blinked, probably stunned.  It made no attempt to stand up, perhaps it couldn’t. It flapped its other free wing slightly, then stopped.  I wondered if it had been injured by another crow, or what.  We pitied it, lying there helpless.  The children wanted me to help it, but of course that was not an option.  We continued on our way.

Rowan looked back at the cars driving by. The third one clipped the bird, and he shouted, “Wow! It’s dead now!  That car got it!”  Intrigued, he kept watching and announced two more “hits” before I made him turn back around. Fortunately, we were several feet away from the crow while it was being clobbered.

A discussion about death followed.  These are the teaching moments of life.  Thankfully, there was no crying and fussing, but my daughter told me if it’d been a furry animal, there would have been.  I told the children that in all my sixty some years on earth, I’d never witnessed a bird fall to earth right beside me, and then die so fast. That we got to see something quite rare.  That this was God’s plan for the crow, today was his time to die.  They seemed to accept this but Rowan did ask about whether or not animals would be in heaven, which ones and so forth.  He told me animals have no souls.

On my return home, there was another road kill, an adolescent squirrel.  Poor thing.  First the crow, and minutes later, the squirrel.  It seems Kennisaw  Reserve is a veritable sanctuary for all kinds of wildlife.  Many meet with their death on the local roads nearby.  When I see a dead animal, I often think “…not one…[sparrow] falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.”  (Matthew 10:29)

An animal’s departure doesn’t hold for them the same kind of suffering as humans, of course.  The severance experience for us is far reaching.  For those death leaves behind, an ever present and ongoing adjustment is required.  Cut off from someone or something, how do we do then live?

Visiting here in the eastern part of the country, I am separated temporarily from my house, routine, computer, and husband.  While this is a given, it’s also an illustration.  While away, I have no control over whether those I live with will stay in touch with me.  When they do, I’m blessed.  Conversely, without that, I feel cut off.

But God is my refuge and strength.  I can think of Him whenever I want.  I can take comfort in the fact He is with me.  The feeling of being cut off or separated no longer has a direct pull on me, rather, a slighter one.

A secondary thought is that if I want something so much I become upset over the lack of it, perhaps I want that thing too much.  There are exceptions.  First, I can never want the Lord too much.  Also, if one is grieving the loss of a beloved family member, it takes years for the soul to acclimate.

My daughter has a window ledge solar plastic flower with move-able arms.  When overcast, its little leaf arms barely move at all. But when it’s bright and sunny, its arms flit so fast, they make a clacking sound.  Remembering that noise, I smile.  So cute, so cheerful.  I’d like to get me one of those solar flowers

My sunshine is not that phone call I have been languishing to receive, nor the return of a life taken from me. It is not an answer to prayer my heart longs for.  My sunshine is the Lord Himself.

He sees me.  He sees you.  We are ever visible.

He is with us.  Let us be of good cheer.  What we have or do not have is up to Him.  For what He brings, let us praise Him.  For what we lack, He fills with Himself.  Nothing separates us from God or His love for us.

These Days

The sub office called about five this morning, jarring and untypical.  I could not get back to sleep. Though I have tried to change my sleep habits, more often than not I am up late enjoying the Fox night news, reading, crochet work or writing.  When interested in a teaching post, I do not block the calls but filter out the unsuitable.  Today’s offer was a Special Education spot for which I felt unqualified.  So, I’ll spend my day on a different offer, or work on projects at home.

Each of us has these days given us by our Maker, until our bodies are taken back by Him.  He allots to each a different amount.  Some are privileged to enjoy the presence of a parent on into their eighties and nineties.  With both American women and men living longer, this is possible.  I am most blessed to still have my mother, at ninety-three now.  I know there are some of you who enjoy the same.  I have chosen to interview her for a memoir and began the process many months ago.

This ties in with my subject:  the spending of our days.  If we were to write a memoir of our own life, are there chapters we would want to leave out?

The concept of spending is a creative one. What kinds of things can we spend?  Commonly the word spending is synonymous with money.  Then there is time, which I am talking about.  What else?  Energy—what kinds of things do we put energy into?  And of course devotion, a spin-off of energy.  To what or whom are we devoted?  And lastly, there is the mind and the soul. How do we spend the gift of free thinking?   And what do we do to care for this gift of a soul that will last forever?

I am a pianist, not the concert type.  Just your basic black and white key player able to read music well enough to accompany a program or soloist, or grace the bride and groom in wedding overtures.  Years ago, having learned to play most simple tunes, the duet “Heart and Soul” became part of my repertoire.  It was a favorite if not over-used simple piece for most budding pianists.  Do you remember?

Heart and soul, I fell in love with you,
Heart and soul, the way a fool would do,
Because you held me tight,
And stole a kiss in the night…

Heart and soul, I begged to be adored,
Lost control, and tumbled overboard,
That magic night we kissed,
There in the moon mist.

-circa 1930’s

I cannot attest to the devotion of this song.  Rather it is the melody and pairing of the heart to the soul that has become ageless. They go together, don’t they?

We know of someone dear who has decided to devote her non-working hours to another man and place other than her family.  Bills are neglected, time is used raucously, and what little energy she does have left after work is being spent on lustfulness and alcohol.  Maybe you have experienced something similar in your own circle of life.  It is heart wrenching. We pray  it will not prosper and for her heart to return to a place of rest and rightful devotion.  Failing that, her road’s end will not be happy; it won’t lead to a castle. It is joyless for her children and all who love her.  An agonizing unraveling of life.

Our Lord lets us spend ourselves in ways that render us frightening freedom.  The hope is Big, the hope for his creatures to return His love, as do children.  A child looks to the parent, stays connected, has the reward of exchange and mutual love.  In the hand of our Creator, we can walk with helpful direction, stability, peace of mind.

For those who did not have even one nurturing parent, may I say I am sorry.  It came short of God’s perfect design. Mercifully, there are surrogate parents or friends who might supplant a barren pantry with goods that were supposed to be delivered.  And there is God.  Always, there is God.  Bigger than all life can supply.

I had the challenge of a first marriage that rarely met my needs.  I didn’t rush into the arms of someone else.  Forty years later as a divorcé and single parent, I did re-marry but this time I knew my mate couldn’t meet those needs.  Only my Maker could, my Forever Parent.

I want nothing more than to spend the gifts He has lavished on me with gratitude.  Humility calls to me daily, for without it, sharing and praying is not the same. May the talents He gives us bring Him attention.

May the Lord bless our gift of these days, their number His doing.  And may our lives bless Him also.

       “The days of our lives are seventy years, and if by reason of strength they are eighty ….teach us to number [them] that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Satisfy us…with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!”

 ~Psalm 90, 10, 12 & 14

The Joy of the Whole Earth


The Joy of the Whole Earth

 “You thrill me, Lord, with all You have done…I sing for joy because of what You have done.”

~Psalm 92:4


        What brings you great joy?

        Children can.  A soul mate or friend can.  They are so much better than a work or casual association.  Health is a joy we seldom appreciate until we have sustained sickness, serious surgery or live with a chronic condition.  For those in prison, joy is being visited by the family member whom your eyes ache for.  For the innocently accused, joy is acquittal.  For the lost in battle, being found is their joy and for a POW, their release. For the worker, joy is time, maybe in a cozy nook at home or a scenic reprieve.  For the couple with multiple children, maybe some get away time? For the single, spending great times with friends.  For the elderly, joy means visits with family members. For the creative, a work of art.  For the writer,  authoring a new chapter. (or editing one!)  The list is endless, yes?  

        And then there is the joy found in careless abandon.  As a little girl in Michigan, it was the outside play in summer or winter that thrilled me.  In summer, we dwelt in a cottage on a lake. I know now how privileged I was. I climbed trees, picked berries, adventured in the woods, fished, swam, played with turtles, and survived mosquito bites. I played Canasta and read comic books.  I fell asleep to the serenades of crickets.  In winter, the cold delighted us. We reveled in the snow.  We slid on the ice in the streets or on sidewalks with glee!  We never shrank from it.  We formed the snow into balls, figures and structures. We laid in it, or made paths in it to simulate rooms of a house.  Once Dad made an ice pond of our backyard!  We were breathless and tireless in the cold.  This freedom is one of the best joys of all.

        Joy is not defined by material things.  Temporal materials can be a facet of joy but do not sustain it.  It might be fun to have big money, but unless it is used to bless others, might it not drive us?  I know of some investors who are married to the Stock Exchange. It dominates their life. They arrange their social life around it. There is no guarantee of longevity with riches; they can dissipate quickly. Money can be extorted in secret and well hidden.  Inheritances can be argued over, envied, or dwindled away.  Gold has the most lasting quality but it is bound by gravity.  “Don’t store up treasures on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them and thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven…where the desires of your heart will be also.”  (~Matt. 6:19)

       One of the best songs ever written is based on Psalm 48:2, The Joy of the Whole Earth. I cannot say this truth without singing it. The Bible is filled with verses of joy, from Deuteronomy to I John.  Their messages lift the spirit.  Visit your Concordance and have fun!  Or take ten minutes and stroll through Psalms looking for the word joy.

       Without Jesus, there would be no joy in this life or in Eternity to come.  Whether we realize this or not, God is our base. Without Him, we anatomically and spiritually would be breathless.

       Praise God it is His will for us to know joy. “I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.  I have given them My Word.”  ~John 17:13  He does not want us to go through life without the element of joy.  Yes, life can be a suffering crucible at times.  But since Christ suffered, that demonstrates clearly there will be times we also will be asked to suffer and endure.

        “Because of the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame.” (Hebrews 12: 2,3) 

         A prayer for all of us:   Dear Lord, this Lent, this Easter season, we thank you for Jesus, the Joy of the whole earth. Thank you He endured the cross.  Because of His sacrifice, we can know joy. Joy flourishes when sin and evil are crushed. Thank You for this costly gift of joy. Thank You that material goods and money do not run our lives.  When we suffer, Lord, help us consider ourselves privileged;  We get a small helping of what Jesus did for us.  In His name we pray.  Amen.

Deborah Thomas

Taking Out the Trash

In a recent Bible study I could not get past the first verse.  When a scripture does not let you turn the page, you have found a wonderful thing.  1 Peter 2: 1 got me.  “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.”

Prior to this verse the reader is told that humans are like grass and their glory fades like flowers.  But the word of the Lord stands forever.  Then follows the Stop Sign verse, “Therefore…”   Since God’s Word stands forever, we have work to do in order to further our salvation.

Today in our neighborhood, the trash is picked up.  I need to throw this garbage out of my life:

Malice.  I rarely want to intentionally hurt someone but I do notice that on occasion if I am insulted, I wish I could invent a clever zinger in reply.  Moments like these might be turned around if I prayed instead.  And what about when our life is sometimes affected by darkness more than it can handle?  I am taking a writing class at a local college.  We are assigned the task of reading and critiquing the work of other students. Most write with a secular slant.  Being exposed to darkness depresses my spirit.  But I can offset this by reading my Bible often.  A brother inspired me that being around unbelievers give us the chance to pray for them and influence them.  Marvelous viewpoint, and is it not so?

Deceit.  Do I paint the truth to make myself look better than I am, or leave things out of the picture?  Do I fudge? My husband asked me if I had used our new clothesline recently and I quickly said, “Oh yes!,” thinking I had when in fact I realized, NO YOU HAVE NOT, because I forgot I had it.  So I had to back up.  In my case, I think I need to be slower to respond and think about my words.

Hypocrisy.  “How are you today, Debby?” an acquaintance might ask, and I say, “Oh, fine.”  I probably cannot tell a stranger my inner feelings, or even a friend if I am short on time.  But a better response might me, “Pretty okay.”  Or, “How about I take a pass on that?”   Another way I find myself at fault is that as a middle child, I play the peacemaker role.  I listen to one person’s story and try to sympathize and side with them.  Then I listen to the other side and side with them.  A good listener does not have to invest an opinion. One more consideration about hypocrisy: do I expect things of others that is not a standard for myself?

Envy.  Do I wish for myself what others have been granted and resent they have it?  In the writing world, others might be receiving accolades or prizes or publishing opportunities.  Do I rejoice for them or begrudge it?  Is there anything you envy?  A way to break the hold of envy is to ask God to bless that person. Every time it comes up.

Slander.  I wonder when or if I say something that is not very kind what my motivation for that is.  If I apply this to myself, I shudder to think what God knows about me He could disclose if He wanted to.  Yet, usually God in His kindness does not tell all.  May we be as merciful to others as God is to us.

Peter has another stellar admonition in verse 2: “…crave spiritual milk (the Bible) [because] by it, we grow up in our salvation.”

Have you been saved by Jesus, dear reader?  I was at age eight but only came to fully understand His friendship with me at age sixteen.  Did I have a love of His words at age eight?  Not much.  I knew John 3:16 and Psalm 23 and the Ten Commandments.  At age sixteen, I fell in love with the Word.  Big difference!

I cannot rid myself of these five maladies on a permanent basis.  They are temptations.  But if I crave His Word, I will take them to the trash pile and my salvation will flourish.  Hallelujah!

A Slice of Apple Pie

I wonder where the average citizen in America finds a disclosure of God these days.

A battle is going on to submerge the Lord of the Judeo-Christian persuasion.  The God of Tolerance proposes acceptance of eastern religions and particularly Islam in this land, while Christianity is being cast aside and trampled.  There is no longer tolerance for all faiths, only tolerance for anything that is not Christianity.  The God of Tolerance himself is intolerant.  Have you noticed?

We cannot hold only our president Obama to blame for this, although he certainly is responsible for not being an inspiring role model.  His declaration that America is no longer a Christian nation is something he will have to stand before God one day and explain.  On the one hand, it could be God’s warning to us, to take heed, to pay attention that we are not living close to Him, reading His Word, and hearkening to His voice.  God forbid that this declaration was a prophecy.

We listen to our own voices and the voices of our culture, and fulfill our own needs.  We probably like the voices of those who tickle our ears the most.

We want so many things.  We want notoriety or acclaim.  Most glitzy Hollywood actors adore their awards and nothing else seems to mean more to them.   We want power, position and money. The corporate world finds  loopholes that smooth the way to their goals.   We want to play ball without any consequences for our private life choices.  Sports is bigger than ever and a thing as small as deflated footballs is nothing to make them stumble.  Who did it?  Well, the two top persons in charge certainly knew nothing about it, no Sirree.  (A psychiatrist is brought on national network to explain to us how particular body language and avoidance lingo reveals that lying is going on.)  We want mystery, intrigue and mysticism.  Readers of the best sellers want authors to create this and more for them through unsolved or solved murder, with dark plots.  The novels may or may not include honesty or light.  But a gnarled expository lacking declaration of good over evil seems to have a popularity.  A story without even a hint of God does not only disturb most readers, but is embraced as normal.  Or if there is a hint of God, it must be vague, otherwise it cannot be used as a literary text in the public schools.  And we want equality.  Of course we do.  Skin color was mentioned in the opening sentence of President Obama’s acceptance speech and has continued to be on the front burner.  I thought election was about choosing a capable president, not choosing a color. While no one can dispute that prejudice still exists in our land, using the color card to complain about not receiving a movie award or to call police bigoted is a misplay.  I think God made different skin color to test us.  We fail if we look at skin color instead of the heart as our gauge.  There can be hearts of integrity in every skin color.

Beth Moore, a renowned Christian speaker, says that we live in a new age, the Age of Posing.  Truth is twisted and tweaked, dyed and redressed.  Truth is squelched and pinched, stepped on and disguised. It is sliced out of a lemon pie and cleverly presented as apple.  In the case of food, that slice is how the pie tastes, but in life, that slice is a phony. The giver hopes the receiver will think it is apple.  But it is not.  Beth cautions us to be wise.  The Bible tells us to be as “shrewd/wise as serpents and as gentle as doves…” Matthew 16:10   In other words, we are to be on our guard that those around us will not mislead us into lies or danger.  We are not to treat others as they might treat us.  But we are not supposed to be blind to the truth.  Beth said we are to love with our eyes wide open.

Our culture seems bent on disposing of, or redefining God.  He is not Allah. Culture pushes Him aside, off the page, out of mainstream conversation. Arguments ensue about removing all Bible and its teachings from curriculums, from public buildings, from newspapers, from talk.   Nativity scenes on public property are being accused of being inappropriate. Statues that show Christian heritage are no longer looked upon with reverence, it seems.  But I love the scriptures that are already engraved in marble in public buildings that cannot be removed without blasting down the wall.  I saw a scripture about “Forbid not the children to come to Me…”  in an education office built in 1948. Hurray for marble!  Hurray for the permanence of truth!

Hurray that in our United States, we still have freedom of religion and open church services available to all who will come.  Think of our brothers and sisters in Third World countries who do not.  Pray for them.  Here, we still have loving churches that preach the good news of Jesus Christ!  Healthy churches spend money and time serving the needs of others about them, stepping outside their own walls to bring Christ to those in need.

Better voices than our culture, like Christian radio, make Jesus known.  Authentic Christian television makes Christ real.  Some relief organizations do not mince the gospel in order to qualify for federal funding:  hats off to them!  Bible studies are still thriving. God based recovery groups are getting the job done.  In fact, Christian based addictive recovery centers have the best rate of no return addicts.  Real Christians walk the life they talk with integrity and gentleness, convincing others of the truth by their example and word.  Functioning Christians invite their friends, co-workers and neighbors to come to church. Myriads of Christian material is available these days, but sadly we must discern which of it is authentic Christianity and which is not.  Deceit is usually subtle, and it craftily dribbles down into crevices and crannies.

Hurray that God gives us the ability through His Holy Spirit to recognize the truth and to confront deception at every turn.  He is intended to be our filter, the One through Whom we can screen all things and identify deceit.  It is not easy; we sometimes have to be detectives.  And sometimes it takes time.  Satan likes to punk us.  He is good at submerging the truth under the water.  Happily, it always bobs back up.

But there is more good news!  It is the presence of Christianity and authentic Christians in this world that God is using to hold things together until Christ comes again. I have heard this statement many times in my life, and I believe it now more than ever. We must take our role as authentic Christians seriously.  Our integrity, and our unwavering loyalty to Christ are absolutely vital in this Age of Posing.

Let us be careful to discern if our slice of apple pie is real or not.

Out of Practice

Everyone knows that practice is not optional if you want to get better at something.  I just talked with a seasoned piano teacher about the possibility of teaching a four year old to play the piano—can they do it? She said that to the degree that the parents make the child practice is how well they do.  With discipline and regular practice, they progress solidly.  But parents that do not require their child to practice see them struggle.

The same goes for any skill.  I used to take private dance lessons to learn how to country swing better.  I had no boyfriend so practicing alone in between lessons was almost useless. Line dancing practice a la solo worked better, as long as I did not forget any of the moves.

In Christianity, we have moves, also.  I call this practice.  If we are out of practice, today is a new day! Christianity does not end at conversion; that is only our birth.  We must go on with Christ, a life time with Him. We need to get smart!

Whoever learns how to throw hardball while sitting on the sideline?  Who learns how to suffer without bleeding or injuring a body part?  Who knows grief unless there has been loss of some life?  Who can swim well without practicing strokes or treading water a long time?   Can anyone really practice being kind until they are shown unkindness in their face? The Lord is not going to hand these things to us on a gleaming platter.  He wants us to practice and exercise our spiritual muscles.

1 Peter 1: 6 & 7 declares:  “…now for a little while, you may have…to suffer grief, in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Trials come to give us practice; if we practice, we prove our faith.  God wants to know if our faith is the real thing.  Authenticity  matters.  You cannot just say you are a Christian.  Your life has to prove it.  Practicing your Christianity brings forth outstanding results: praise, glory and honor to Christ.

I do not want to be out of practice, as I walk in faith before the Lord.  Suffering?  Grief? Unkindness? Trials?  Yes, they are there all right.  But they are just the backdrop on which we practice our instruments for Him.  Amen?

Sara’s Song

Once again the beloved Christian celebration of Christmas is here. I enjoy the entirety of it.  Like someone said recently, pitch the hype and embrace the fun.

No one slams the commercialism of Easter or Passover or other holidays as much as Christmas.  It gets unfair criticism. There will always be those who cash in on culture to gain bucks.  The money god drives that.  He is ever on the lookout for ways to pad his pockets.  But most people do not buy things because of cool marketing.  I prefer to think they simply want to bless others with their gifts whether they do it for the same reason the wise men did or not.

Christmas is what you make of it, in my opinion.  The church advises us to keep it meaningful or simple and that is good advice.  But if you are serious about your beliefs, you would do this anyway, wouldn’t you?

I like the words to a new song I just heard on the radio called Love is Christmas by Sara Bareilles.  While she does not quite get the point of Christmas, at least she understands that the more important factor is love.  Here are a few lines from her song excerpted (thus not rhymed):

I don’t care if the gifts are wrapped, or there’s nothing here to open.

I don’t care if it’s gonna rain, our little room is warm and stable. 

Love is who we are, and no season can contain it.

Love would never fall for that. 

We sing, “ooooooooooo…” Let love lead us, love is Christmas.

So this is Sara’s Song.  Mary’s song records in Luke 1:46 and forward. What is yours? Why not write a song to God in your own words; no rhyme is needed. Or talk to Him over a cup of tea or coffee about your appreciation of His saviourship for you.

Jesus had to have been born after midnight for the angels told the shepherds, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”   The shepherds made a beeline to the manger’s side, and right afterwards, they spread the word throughout the streets.  I love that.

This is Christmas.  Such happy news for us: a savior born!   We get forgiveness and we get Love, straight from God’s heart to ours. Joy unspeakable!  Peace among men, goodwill on earth.  May it be so.   Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Merry Christmas all!

Crossing the Lines

I was minding my own business as I drove home from Christmas shopping when an SUV darted smack in front of me from the left side of the road.  Crossing from the west to the east across a north-south parkway, the driver perceived that all four lanes were empty.  But not mine.

Had I been looking down or distracted for a second, I would have hit him/her broadside.  But I did see him.  I braked and honked a warning.  The vehicle never braked or slowed, but continued crossing at full speed to the east side of the parkway.

Wow! How fortunate I did not hit him.  Was he blind or just bold?

Not one second later, I saw another party decide to cross the parkway from the west as well. As I approached the stop sign, I could see them on the other side of the intersection.

Mommy and Poppy Quail skittered to what they hoped and planned on being the other side of the parkway just like the SUV.  But upon arriving in the turn lane of the median, they abruptly stopped.  A slow moving vehicle was coming towards them in the turn lane.

As soon as Mommy and Poppy halted, so did the three or four youngsters who had skittered along behind them.  They almost crashed into their backsides. They huddled into each other, and paused but only for half a second.  Poppy seemed to be giving them directions.

“Stop, children!  We cannot cross over after all!  A massive obstruction is in our path.  We have to go back.  Go back!  Go back!”

At the very moment of this brief pause, another covey of young quails had begun their crossing from the west as well, following right behind the three or four youngsters now stopped with the parents. As if by magic, this group seemed to know Father was warning them. The very second the children stepped backwards to return in the direction from which they had come, so did the latter covey. They looked like synchronized swimmers turning around together, taking off for the shoreline.

Mommy and Poppy lost no time in following the turn tail runners and so brought up the rear.  I laughed out loud to watch them all scurry back across the street they had just seconds before seemed confident they could cross safely.  Their little feet ran smoothly and without stumbling, back through the two vacant west lanes.  They hopped the curbed so fast I marveled how they could work so perfectly together.  Did they speak some kind of gutteral low decibel Quail Language?

They were adorable!  I was fascinated.  But in no more than a blink they were gone.  I could not be sure but suspected they took cover in the bushes of the sidewalk restaurant.  I imagined them panting together in a huddle, quivering with excitement over the narrow escape.  I bet they were exchanging little bird noises again.


I wanted a replay but it was over. It was so sweet, I lingered there.

Lord, two crossings in less than ten seconds flat.  What is this about.  How marvelous are Your creations- man with his intelligence to make and drive a car and birds with enough sense to flee.

Yet man is so foolish, throwing his superior common sense to the curb by crossing lines he has no business crossing.  Though endowed with so much less than we, the quails crossed back, using their instincts to pull them out of danger.  They obeyed the law of ebb and flow, removing themselves when the flow reversed.  The human ignored it.

Forgive us, Lord.  You have given us common sense and ruling laws of protection much more than the basic instinct of a quail.

Can we quit thinking that because we step into a large, heavy car that we can cross any line we want to?  Can we quit thinking that we can be careless with Your extravagant grace and ignore your readiness to save us?  Humble and alert us, Lord.  Amen.