Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Word for the New Year

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
—Luke 2:52

I can’t ignore it. Everywhere I look, there it is. My eyes are drawn to it. I look up, and there it is. I drive down the road, and there it is. I open a book, and there it is.

It all started before Christmas. I cannot say exactly when, but sometime around Thanksgiving—the time when Christmas decorations went up, when I sported a Rudolph nose and posed for my annual Christmas card photo, and when it made its way on the page of my Christmas devotion. It drew us outside the night after Thanksgiving to interest little boys in the formation of stars, and two weeks later it drew me to the deck to witness a seemingly personal meteor shower in the eastern sky.

Light. A five-letter word that has manifested itself in countless ways this holiday season—from the lights on my Christmas tree to the lights strung across the streets of LaPlata, the town of my birth—but most importantly, in the birthday celebration for the One Who offers new birth to allChrist, the Light of the world, Who brings new light to our dark places.

With the New Year just hours away, many folks have already packed up Christmas and moved onto making resolutions for self-improvement. But as for me, I can’t bear the thought of packing it up, especially the lights. Perhaps I don’t have to.

Allow me to explain. Several years ago I read about an alternative to New Year’s resolutions. Rather than making a resolution, you choose a focus word— just one word to guide you in the coming year. The first year I chose “balance.” Another year I chose “perseverance.” But this year…well, it’s been chosen for me. I can’t ignore it. It’s light.

You may be confused. Balance, you get. Perseverance, you understand. But light?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lessons Learned from Reindeer Games

It seemed like the perfect time to do it. In fact, it was the first time that all of us had gathered under one roof since the birth of my youngest grandchild Javi.

“Time for my annual Christmas card photo!” I announced.

With Thanksgiving leftovers yet under wrap
We settled on the sofa, babies on lap
When what to our wondering eyes did appear
But a spirited Grandma and six tiny reindeer
More rapid than eagles the photographers came
They whistled and shouted and called them by name:
“Now, Javi! Now, Eli! Now, Layla and Addison!
Come on now, Nicky! Come on now, Cristian!"



But soon we discovered that babies aren’t into reindeer games. All that shouting and waving outstretched hands that resembled reindeer antlers themselves did nothing to coax a simultaneous smile from the herd, but everything to terrorize and conjure cries from our wee ones.

It was time to call it quits on the pics and pull the babies in for some mommy comfort.

This experience with my miniature reindeer taught me a lesson with more points than the record-breaking number on the deer display at Cabela’s—well, at least six. Allow me to share.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Stay in Lane

”... let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us”
—Hebrews 12:1

“Wait for green,” the traffic sign read.

As opposed to what? I wondered. Doesn't every licensed driver know to wait for green before venturing through the intersection?

“Beware of aggressive drivers,” the next sign also caught my attention.

What? They have to post a sign for this? Where I come from the signs read, “Beware of deer crossing.” But aggressive drivers? What state is this?

I was traveling through Pennsylvania and New Jersey when I spotted those signs, so I’m not sure which one gets the credit. But I do know which state gets the credit for the sign I read this week—it’s where I come from, my own beloved Maryland.

“Use caution. Stay in lane.”

Perhaps I’m missing something, because again as opposed to what? Doesn't every driver know that?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Cares and Hairs


Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
—Matthew 10:29-31 

I saw it fall.  

Right there in front of me the striking blue blossom loosened its grip on the orchid’s stem and floated to a landing in the center of my kitchen table. 

“Aww…” I moaned, pausing from my work just a moment to mourn the demise of my gorgeous centerpiece. 

Then I returned to the task at hand—tidying up the kitchen. But I left the blossom there. Maybe because it matched my mood. My kitchen table once decorated with smiling faces at each place was now set with piles of bills and a fading flower in its midst. 

A speck of green on the bench caught my attention. As I leaned down, I realized it was a tiny hair band. 

That’s where that got to. I remembered earlier in the week I had picked up my pony-tailed two-year-old granddaughter Addie from day care, and she wasn’t at my house long before the pony-tail disappeared. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

When Your Sign Falls Apart


Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it.
—2 Corinthians 13:5a 

My mouth flew open and I stopped the car and stared. What on earth?
Right there before my eyes was the wreckage of my former house number sign. I got out the car to examine the mess. A closer inspection revealed that the nails had popped out of place, causing the boards to collapse. Apparently, changes in the weather and exposure to the elements had caused the wooden boards to swell. Over time, the swelling pushed out the nails.
Now what? I’m not handy with tools, but I know the sign must be repaired—for the same reason it was installed. A number of years ago all residents of our rural county were ordered to post house numbers, mainly for location identification purposes for first-responders to a 9-1-1 call. Even though responders can now rely on GPS, having a sign for location confirmation is still helpful.
I stood there gaping at the remains and wondered how I never noticed the boards were pulling away. Perhaps if I had taken the time to inspect it regularly…

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Good Report


Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.
—Philippians 4:8
 

The wheel jerked sharply to the left and then I heard it. Thump, thump, thump. 

Oh, no! A flat tire! 

Quickly I maneuvered my car to the shoulder and got out to inspect.  

Yep, just as I suspected, I groaned. Now what? I don’t know how to change a tire. 

I glanced at the time. 5:45. The farewell dinner for one of my best friends would begin in 15 minutes…without me. 

No, Lord, that can’t happen. I can’t miss this. What should I do? 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Way Out


No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 
 
I admit it. I am an emotional eater.
I have struggled with my weight for years—taking if off, putting it back on, taking it off, putting it back on. Only in recent years have I become aware of the root issue. My relationship with food is unhealthy. Food has been my go-to source when I’m sad, when I’m stressed, when I’m in pain, when I’m bored, and even when I’m happy. I know I use food to self-soothe, but I also know that when I do I am only creating a bigger problem. I must get a handle on this and go to God instead of reaching for food.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Emergency Lessons

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
—Matthew 25:13

He’s coming. And I've got to get ready. It could be any day now.

I have to be prepared. I have business to attend to—emergency lessons to write.

My daughter is due to give birth to my grandson. And as soon as I get the word, I’ll be jetting off in her direction as fast as my little Jeep will carry me.

But I have 150 students counting on me here at home. And it’s my duty to leave lesson plans for a substitute teacher. While I’m excited about the arrival of my new bundle-of-joy, I also care about my students and want to leave lessons that are relevant and meaningful—lessons that will enlighten and engage.

My administrator is also counting on me to be prepared. Leaving without leaving lesson plans would be falling short—the equivalent of my students not completing their assignment.

Jesus used The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) to explain the workings of the kingdom of heaven. The duty of the ten virgins was to attend to the bridegroom, to light the way to the wedding banquet. Five were prepared with plenty of oil for their lamps, while the other five fell short. The foolishness of the unprepared cost them entrance to the wedding banquet.

Our duty is to attend to the business of our souls, to be ready for the Lord’s coming. It could be any day now. And our assignment is to the light the way for others. Let us not fall short. Let us be prepared. May our lamps burn bright for Him. And may we share this urgent message of hope in relevant and meaningful ways.

Dear God, thank You for making a way for me to enter the marriage supper. While I’m excited for that joyous day, I also care for others and pray that they too will receive this blessed hope. Thank You for entrusting me to attend to the business of souls. May I not fall down on the job. Guide me to complete this assignment, illuminating the way for others. Amen.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How's your posture?


Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
—Colossians 3:1-2 

“Feet flat…back straight…elbows by your side…fingers on the home keys…body centered on the “J” key…eyes on copy,” I reminded as I milled around the classroom monitoring my students’ keyboarding posture.
That was then—when the school of thought was that “proper” posture would result in greater keyboarding speed and fewer errors. But this is now—and things have changed. Most of my current students have been tapping on electronic devices since they were toddlers. They have their own technique down pat.  Some are faster at typing out a message with just two fingers than I am with two hands. To have them learn touch-typing at this stage would only result in frustration for all parties. As such, keyboarding class has become obsolete.
But when I did teach keyboarding, I covered my classroom walls with “Cartoons on Keyboard Basics” (published by J. Weston Walch). These cartoons featured Pretzel Patty, Peekin’ Pete, Side-Saddle Sig, Stop-and-Go-Sandy and several other characters whose keyboarding posture was substandard.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Too Important to Miss


Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
—Ephesians 6:18  

“No!” Mabel stopped me just as I reached down to scoop up the scrap of paper from the floor, “Leave it there. It’s my reminder.”
“What? A reminder on the floor?” I laughed.
“Hey, it works. You noticed it.”
I had to admit she had a point.
How do you remind yourself of important things? Write them on the calendar, leave strategically placed notes, or make lists?
I’ve done it all. In fact, I’ve even been known to write messages on my bathroom mirror with a dry-erase marker.
Hey, it works.
But I’ve also been known to miss the important things because I’ve overlooked my reminder.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Scratch-Off Calendar


All the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
—Psalm 139:16
 

I already knew what was beneath, but still I watched closely as my father dragged a coin across the label, scratching away the surface. 

“Banana split.” 

“But where does he go to get his banana split?” my mother asked. 

“He doesn’t have to go anywhere,” I explained, “I have all the fixings in the car.” 

As I sliced bananas and scooped ice cream, I explained how the 30-day calendar worked, “Some days you win a surprise, other days a special message, prayer, or thought.” 

“When do I scratch off the label?” Dad asked. 

“First thing in the morning each day, but you have to give me till the end of the day to deliver. And no going ahead!” I laughed. 

Hoping my father would enjoy the anticipation of surprises, I created “Dad’s Lot O’ Surprises Scratch-Off Calendar” as a Father’s Day gift that would extend beyond the special day. And since I know my father has an affection for sweets, most of his surprises are sweet treats. Shhh! Let’s keep that a secret, though! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What's in your cup?


“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
—Mark 14:36 

What’s in your cup this morning? As for me, I pour steamy Folger’s Breakfast Blend and add a splash—well, more than a splash—of French vanilla creamer. Then I head to the front of my house for my first porch party of the season. Porch party is a term coined by my Facebook friend Julie Garmon that she uses in referring to the daily quality time she spends with her husband. No matter the weather, they meet together on their porch every day. And it doesn’t matter what they talk about, but that they talk or just be together, for they know how important this is to their relationship, and they have made a commitment to do so. It is a priority. (You can read about Julie’s porch parties and more on her blog.) 

On the way to my porch, I gather up my bible and a devotional Daily Guideposts 2014 (of which Julie is a writer) and I’m excited. For you see, this is my daily quality time with God.  

Although I’m single, I recognize the value in married couples spending time cultivating their relationship and I know that the Lord desires this same type of commitment from Christians. Daily porch parties. Of course you may not have a porch or even a balcony, but just find a quiet place to come apart from all the busyness of life and rest a little, just as the Lord told His disciples (in Mark 6:31) when they had been ministering so much that they had not so much as time to eat: “Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little.” 

Be still before the Lord. Allow Him to refresh your spirit…your body…your mind. I like how Joyce Meyers puts it, “You had better come apart and spend time with God before you fall apart.” 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Queen Anne


I knock.  No answer.
I knock again. No answer.
Please let me in!
Still no answer.
I turn the knob.  It’s locked.
I bang the door with my fist.
I push.  I lean.
I press into it with my shoulder—hard! 
Finally it flies open!
And I fall
headlong into a sun-splashed foyer,
your strong arms wrapping me in
an embrace, welcoming and soothing
as warm silky bath water.
Somehow I know this is where
I belong, this is where
it all began.
My heart swells, my throat constricts,
I don’t know whether to yell or cry. 
All I know is this is what I’ve been waiting for,
my flesh craving,
my soul longing.
You link my arm and lead me down your hall
lined with long-stemmed Queen Anne’s lace,
while tiny ballerinas in tissue-paper tutus twirl
and flutter about me like attendants to
Queen Anne herself.
Your cushiony carpet squishes between
my tired toes, as you
gently guide me to an open door—
my chamber you’ve adorned with
aromatic red roses, vibrant zinnias, flaming lilies—
a myriad of colors, making my eyes
dart from side to side.
I scarce can take it in!
Red, white, blue—
your glory flag waves from the corner.
I nod back—
it flaps again,
directing my attention.
There it is!
Inviting me to sit and sway
to your music medley,
a familiar orchestra, familiar tunes,
kindred voices,
melodic highs, deep-throated lows.
My soul sings along
and the rocker lulls my spirit like
a mother’s lullaby to her restless infant.
Your breath cools my cheeks and
plays with my hair, swooping it from my face.
You refresh me with your bountiful basket of
harvest—mouth-watering melons,
chin-dripping peaches, and plump blackberries
that explode on my tongue!
Come, you beckon,
pulling me to my feet.
And we parade, arm-in-arm,
breathing in
sweet-smelling hay and
unmistakable honeysuckle—
an ambrosial blend from
your atomizer.
You lead me to the pond,
still and serene, surrounded
by lush green growth and
a single blue heron, standing sentinel.
Suddenly, a turtle pops up his head!
Concentric waves surround, and
I peer down.
There it is!
My face,
peace washing over it,
and there you are,
waves blurring
the lines between you and me,
and I cannot tell where I end
and you begin,
for you are a part of me,
and you always have been,
my dearest, closest, truest friend,
June.


A tribute to my Creator—our Creator—the maker of all things, including the month of June with all its glory and bounty—and me, Desiree Anne St. Clair Glass, who He brought forth on Flag Day, June 14th many years ago.

Thank You Father for Your countless gifts, including the gift of rest, as is promised in Your Word, for that is most welcome by this teacher now in the month of June. Amen. 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
—Matthew 11:28

Saturday, May 31, 2014

How many followers do you have?


“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
—Mark 1:17
 

I smiled when I heard it. That familiar bleep that could only mean one thing. A new follower!  

Yay! I congratulated myself. I’ve been working hard ever since I returned from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, ever since Edie Melson’s workshop on social networking. 

A social networking guru herself, Edie emphasized the importance of doing so when building a marketing platform. Without an established platform—an audience that looks forward to your 140-character nuggets of truth and inspiration and would buy your book chockfull of the same, you may be hard-pressed to convince a publisher to take a chance on you. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mothers and Teachers and Rosebushes


Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
—Psalm 25:4-5 

“Tell me the best part and the worst part of your day,” I introduced the favorite mealtime ritual that invited my children to share.  

One by one they described the highs and lows of their day, which opened the door to meaningful conversation and opportunities to encourage and praise and counsel. 

Years have passed since that time, and I have to admit I miss those days. I miss mothering—and I miss those faces that circled my table. 

Last night I went to dinner with a friend and engaged him in the high-low conversation. I listened as he described his “low” part of the day that occurred at work. In the end the “low” became a “high” and I concurred that he did the right thing. Then the tables were turned (no pun intended…well, maybe), and it was my turn to share. 




Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Way Home



Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
—John 6:35
 
I call it a funk—this melancholy mood, this heavy heart I’ve been carrying around all week. This week after Easter, after all my family members have returned to their homes and schedules have returned to normal. Except nothing has felt normal to me. Nothing has felt like home.
 
“Please pray for me,” I asked my friends. And I prayed for myself, Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God (Psalm 42:5).

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Sign


I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
—John 10:9 

I picked up the wooden sign I received as a gift. The desk was not the right spot for it.
Over the living room doorway would be perfect!
I rummaged through my tool box for two sturdy nails, all the while rethinking my decision. What if the sign falls while someone is walking underneath it? What if one of my precious grandbabies is crawling through? I shuddered to think of the unthinkable.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hope Blossoms


Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.   And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
—Romans 5:1-5 

I glanced over as I always do when I pass by—at the driveway lined with gorgeous cherry trees. This time I did a double take. What was that? What did that sign say? It looked like “Free Cherry Trees.” 

But I couldn’t go back. I would be late. I’ll check the next time I drive by. 

As I approached the home later in the week, I lifted my foot from the accelerator and zoomed in. Surely that’s what it said. “Free Cherry Trees.” 

How could I pass up an offer like that? I remembered the breath-taking beauty of the trees in bloom. 

I want them! I’ll take them!  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Her Basket, Your Basket



Then she put the child in it and laid it among the rushes by the brink of the river.
—Exodus 2:3b

 
Jochebed. Not a common name. Not a familiar name. But Moses, that’s a different story.  

Actually it’s not.  

Recently I saw the Sight & Sound performance of Moses, which opened with the story of Jochebed, Moses’ mother. While the bible does not tell us much of her story, Sight & Sound  brings forth a creative—and convincing—portrayal of what might have been. 

Kneeling at the riverside, Jochebed places three-month-old Moses in the basket that she has woven of bulrushes and waterproofed with pitch (Exodus 2:3a). All part of her plan—God’s plan—to save her beautiful baby boy (Exodus 2:2) from Pharaoh’s plan of extinction (Exodus 1). Pushing the basket into the current, Jochebed collapses into sobs.  

And my heart breaks for her. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Little Guy, the Frog


Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
—Isaiah 26:4 

Light was already streaming through my cotton curtains when I opened my eyes this morning and turned toward the clock, displaying 8:06.  Wow, I never sleep in this late! I guess I needed my rest. 

I knew it was true.  It had been a long week, filled with ups and downs, excitement and exhaustion, wonder and worry.  Wonder over the birth of a new grandchild. Worry over those who have been sick. 
 
I drew back the curtains to behold the day—an overcast sky and a soggy ground. Then I lowered my gaze to the artificial pond just outside the window and watched while scattered sprinkles plashed upon the water. Suddenly a creature rose to the surface, flailing its legs. A frog.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Scary Situation


Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God.
--Isaiah 41:10a
It was her first sleepover and it was with me, her Grandma.  I don’t know who was more excited, me or her. As for her parents, they were a bit anxious. My son and daughter-in-law had never spent a night apart from two year-old Addie, and they wondered how it would go. They packed up all the essential equipment to make for a smooth stay-over—the books, the toys, the favorite foods, and of course the pajamas. And when they dropped her off, they offered reassuring words about when they would return and how much they loved her.  Then they set out for a night alone—dinner and shopping for a few more items for the baby-on-the-way.
At last, Grandma and Addie time! We colored, read books, watched Peppa Pig, and looked at every picture on Grandma’s phone. Time flew quickly, and before we knew it, it was time for bed.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Wishes for Baby

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
—Deuteronomy 11:19
He’s coming soon and we’re getting excited.  We’re preparing and bringing gifts, for the baby boy is on the way.  My first grandson, that is. 
On Saturday we celebrated with a baby sprinkle for his mom, my daughter-in-law Tara. Some of you may be wondering what a baby sprinkle is.  Designed for mothers who already have a child and the big ticket items that go with babies but need gender-specific clothes and accessories, a sprinkle is a scaled-down shower.
This was my first time hosting a sprinkle, and I wanted to keep it true to theme—simpler than a shower.  Not a lot of over-the-top shower games, but something different.  Thanks to the Internet, I found an activity, which invited guests to write fill-in-the-blank wishes for the baby. After the gifts had been opened and the guests settled down with sprinkle cupcakes and sundaes, we took turns sharing our wishes.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Wrong Door


Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
—1 Peter 5:8 

It was Friday afternoon, and I couldn’t wait for my “Friday Night Write,” which is what I dubbed my time set aside to write my weekly devotion. I sunk into the couch cushions with my laptop over my knees and logged on.  Suddenly lines of text scrolled across the screen and a bright light flashed from my webcam. Then a warning took over the entire window: Your computer has been blocked.
What?
I read on. Apparently I was suspected of one of a myriad of serious infractions, such as copyright violations, use of unlicensed software, spamming, and terrorism.  Terrorism? Clearly they have me mixed up with someone else!
My heart beat fast. What should I do?  Call the police? But it wasn’t a 911 emergency and it was already after office hours.
I continued to read. Then I noticed something in the wording was askew. It didn’t line up.  This is a hoax!  A virus!  Ugh. Now what?


Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Most Romantic Valentine

A little deviation from my usual post...

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.
—Song of Solomon 6:3 


“Really? But I’m trying to write my blog post.” Still in my pajamas and propped up on pillows, I hammer away at the keyboard—in between checking Facebook, of course. I read my friends’ posts and like their Valentine’s pictures.

“Shut it down. Let’s go for a walk.”
“Huh?  It’s 8:30 in the morning.”
“Put your sneakers on.”
“But what about my sprain?  The doctor said…”
“Put your sneakers on.” (Psalm 37:23)
I trust you, so I dress quickly. I slip on my sneakers. Hmm…my foot doesn’t feel too bad. I think I can do this. (Philippians 4:13)
"Could we drive to the dumpster first?" I ask. "I have a pile of junk to get rid of." (Ephesians 4:31)

You smile and nod, as if that were all part of your plan in the first place.

I drive to the barnyard dumpster and am careful to avert the muddy ruts left by those who have been here before. I would hate to get stuck in this mess. Quickly, I throw out a bag of garbage and a box of things that weren't working. Whew!  It feels good to pitch them.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Church, Out of the Mouths of Teens


And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
—Hebrews 10:24-25
Out of the mouths of babes. Out of the mouths of teenagers (smh). For those of you not well-versed in text language, “smh” stands for “shaking my head.”  It took me a while to catch on myself, but as a teacher of teens, I need to keep up.
Yes, I shake my head at what comes out of their mouths, but the truth is some of what they say gives me pause—like their responses to a recent assignment. Given a three-column chart, students were directed to identify and classify ten structures they pass on their way from home to school.  In the third column, they were supposed to describe the purpose of the structure.
While I expected that many would list a nearby church in the first column, I did not expect how they would fill in the remaining columns.  Some classified the church as a commercial building. And others described it this way:  “To worship your religion,” “To worship religions,” “To practice religion,” and “For people to feel holly [sic].”


Friday, January 24, 2014

Tattoo Your Mark

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
—Proverbs 16:9
I didn’t think he’d do it.  This man, so particular, so neat and tidy, one who values what he has and works hard to keep things in like-new condition.  He’d rather maintain and fix than buy new. An old school kind of guy.  Old trucks, old cars, old movies, old music. One who wished he’d been born decades earlier. In a simpler time.  Nary a rebellious streak in him.  A former police officer who obeys every traffic rule.  Yup, that’s him. Regimented. Not a wild hair to be found. He uses coasters religiously to prevent water marks on his furniture—surely he’d never mar his body. That’s what I thought.  But there it was as plain as the nose on his face…uh, his arm…a tattoo!
He told me ahead of time he made the appointment—even described his design, but I didn’t think he’d go through with it.  But he did.  And I have to admit the tattoo suits him. A piston and wrench in crisscross fashion surrounded by music notes.  By my description of him, you probably agree that it fits.  But there’s another part of the tattoo—a pair of dice.  A gambling man? Not really. He doesn’t play the lottery or cards or slots. He doesn’t bet on the horses or the games.  And he doesn’t gamble at making decisions—not a risk-taker. Every decision is well-thought-out.
So why the dice? Because that’s Kevin’s outlook on life. Like rolling the dice, you never really know how it will turn out. You may plan well and think through every decision.  But certain situations arise that are beyond your control. And things happen so unexpectedly that it’s…well… as shocking as Kevin getting a tattoo.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dust Free, Debt Free

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.—1 John 1:9

Really?  I just dusted two days ago!  And there it was—sunbeams penetrating the blinds bringing it to light—a trail of dust once again making its home on my picture table.

I abhor dusting—all that moving items to dust beneath and then dusting the items themselves.  I guess that’s why it’s always at the bottom of my list.  But I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer and set out to conquer the thick coating on my furniture. What a chore it was dusting all those picture frames.  And now to have the dust return in two short days makes my work seem in vain. 


Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Handwriting on the Wall

Please note:  The following reference to Mike Shanahan in no way reflects his character or faith.  It is used only for the sake of comparison. 

And the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth.
—Psalm 25:9-10 

If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times. “The handwriting was on the wall.” This is how reporters referred to the firing of Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan on Black Monday, the day following the final game of the regular season—the day after his team completed a 3-13 record.
“The handwriting was on the wall.” With a four-season record of 24-40 and rumors flying around about Shanahan’s demise, the coach’s firing came as no surprise to most of the team’s followers.
“The handwriting was on the wall” is a familiar idiom used to mean there were obvious warning signals.  For Shanahan, the numbers on the wall—the scoreboard—were his warnings.