July 30, 2018
This week my granddaughter Rachel and I have the privilege of leaving for Europe for over two weeks of travel, beginning with visiting near relatives in Copenhagen. My next blogs will be coming from various places around the Baltic Sea.
Although I absolutely love travel and special places, reveling in history and visiting ancient buildings, particularly churches, I always value living in the United States and being able to return here.
Our Republic depends upon the participation of the people in electing representatives to run the government, and being informed enough to do that well is important. For that reason, it dismays me that we despite many news organizations, we get only chosen parts of the truth or slanted views of events.
The turmoil surrounding our President and Congress, the vile put-downs in campaign ads, and the upsetting news from around the world are all difficult for American citizens to understand, sort out, and consider wisely during an election year.
At times, of course, we despair at ever seeing balance and statesmanship return to our government operation, and concerns over operations at the state level are added to the worries. It is easy to either turn off the news and hide from what is happening or to believe the first thing we hear and shut out the rest.
However, we are Christians, and that requires a different world view. Jesus made it clear that we are to “render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar’s,” in other words, honor our governments and leaders within the limits of their place in our lives. Beyond that, we are to give the rest of our lives to God.
Meanwhile, if we truly believe that all things are in God’s hands, then we have to trust Him, make sure that obedience to His commandments is part of our lives and of our governments, and otherwise pray for our country and believe that He guides us.
July 23, 2018
This past week centered on our County Fair, which was delightful all the way from the grandkids’ and other kids’ 4-H projects to a fun ranch rodeo and a great concert by Rodney Atkins. But it contained something which again summoned major memories of our son who died and is the opening subject of my book.
Josh was part of the Class of ’98, who were celebrating their 20th reunion during the Fair. He was loved and missed by many as one of the “bright lights” in their class. The women who ran the reunion decided to have a table with his pictures and funeral brochure.
Because they knew him so well, they added a chair and a plate of food and a beer, just as though he were going to sit down and join them. It touched me so deeply that they would make his “presence” at their reunion so real.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he was truly there in spirit, brought so close again by memories and love. Just as grief goes on and on, so do all aspects of our loved one’s importance in the lives of those who knew him.
LifeCenter Northwest, the organ donation center, has a new program related to their donor/recipient celebrations entitled “the ripple effect.” It is based, of course, on the idea that organ donation (and all sorts of body donations) gives someone new life, and that affects all of their loved ones, their jobs and all of their contributions to our society and world. In that way, the love of donor families and the influence of the person remembered go on and on like ripples that spread out in concentric circles in a pond.
The reunion made me miss Josh so poignantly again and made me wish desperately that he could have been there, enjoying the Fair he was such a major part of when he was winning championships with his horse and other projects and celebrating with his classmates. But healing comes again in the knowledge that our Savior holds him close and is present in the love of all who treasure Josh.
July 17, 2018
I try to share a blog post with you each Monday, but at times I am a day late. This time I was in the mountains on Monday without Internet but am now home and able to share my ideas with you.
I spent the last couple days with a dear friend named Sue Lueneburg, one of the people I dedicated my book to. She has been a friend for over 55 years and always offers a sincere friendship with understanding, support, and a “meeting of the minds” I always find comfortable and reassuring. As I said in the book, Sue’s faith is strong and her love of our Lord inspires me.
True friendship is one of God’s richest gifts. Most of us have varying experiences with friendships, finding some to be false, some to be shallow, some to be short-lived, and some to be burdensome. Hopefully, like me, you have also found friendships which are true, deep, long-lived, and enriching because burdens can be shared.
As I shared in my book, all of us who believe have “this little light of mine,” a reflection of our Lord’s Light which helps others through our faith. Our lights can contribute much to the world. However, if we join our lights like candles in a candelabra, then the light is brighter and much more effective. One way to look at true friendship is to see it as joined light – and the joining enlightens each friend and then shines all around us.
How do you surround yourself with Christian friends? I have always liked the term “cultivating friendship.” Cultivation in farming or gardening means not only preparing soil for use but enriching it, seeing to it that it yields good crops. In the same way, if we bring the best of ourselves to new friendships and work towards positive “yields,” we will find our lives and faith enriched.
Jesus taught us not only how to be His followers but also how to be special friends. Praise Him for His blessings of friendship!
July 9, 2018
Many ideas in our time are expressed related to “comfort zones.” Simply put, different people operate their lives comfortably in different situations, including physical comfort zones.
Do you have someplace you can be which fills you with comfort and peace? I have friends who find such places in the middle of cities or towns of varying sizes and are definitely uncomfortable in sparsely populated places and wilderness.
I am the opposite. If I can be outdoors – on our small ranch or even better in the wilderness, I find my spirit and sense of well-being revived. The last couple weeks have offered time in the Beartooth Mountains, which I grew up loving because my parents and grandparents loved them so much. They offer rugged peaks, high country trails, amazing lakes and waterfalls, and forests where the trees point skyward toward their Creator.
Tomorrow my youngest two grandsons and I will be in the Beartooths, hiking trails and fishing in small lakes as well as relishing a cookout by my talented outdoor chef brother. I considerate it a legacy to pass on, just like our faith, family loyalty, belief in education and love of music.
Are the boys required to find their comfort zones in the mountains? Of course not – but they do have the chance to revel in God’s beautiful creation, treasure its creatures and find delight in their own strength and enjoyment. The mountains offer physical challenges hiking rugged trails, mental challenges in dealing with wilderness, and spiritual challenges as we see both our tiny part in creation yet our great role in stewardship toward that creation.
He is there, our Creator -- in the pure air full of ozone from the bubbling creek, in the awkward steps of the moose calf, in the strong essence of the pines in sun warmth, in the butterflies in the variegated wildflowers, and in the singing of our hearts as we praise Him by loving what He has given us.
July 2, 2018
“One nation under God.” As we celebrate Independence Day this week, we need not only to honor the day for what it is beyond fireworks and picnics but also to honor the Christian origins of our country.
Freedom of religion is a very important part of democracy and should not be taken lightly. Respecting the rights of all citizens to their own faith should be something that every American citizen does.
However, recent trends have championed the erroneous idea that respecting others’ choice of religion means denying the Christian belief which was such a strong part of the creation of our nation. It is almost as if bringing up the faith which underlies the whole idea of a nation based on individual “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is wrong.
The truth is that such a nation would never have been created under the rule of the other world religions, all of which subjugate the individual to the “state” or separate the individual completely. The Christian background of our forefathers -- evident in writings from all of them contrary to the words of those who would label them “deists” – led them to create a nation which sees the individual as more important than the “state,” in fact the controller of the country.
How thankful we should be that Christian concepts of loving God, oneself and others are essential to our country! We should celebrate the fact instead of trying to hide it or explain it away. And we should heed the warnings of citizens like George Washington, who made it clear that the nation could not exist without Christian faith.
“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” “Your love of liberty – your respect for the laws – your habits of industry – and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness.”
Happy Birthday, America! -- Always One Nation under God!