February 18, 2019
Happy Presidents’ Day! If you are my age or older, you probably remember when we celebrated both George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays without holidays when banks, post offices, and government entities were closed. They also weren’t “sales events.”
Instead of all these trappings, those birthdays were occasions to think about two of the great men who established and preserved our nation despite horrible odds. I hope that you know a lot about Washington and Lincoln and honor them along with other Presidents who made the right choices and did the right things in relation to our country.
You cannot study Washington and Lincoln without understanding that they were both Christian men who knew that our country needed to truly be “one nation under God” and to remember those roots. The whole concept of a democracy within a republic as conceived by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson (two more Presidents whose faith and dedication is part of our heritage) was based on Christian concepts of the dignity of the individual.
Every one of these men believed in freedom of religion and would never allow people to be persecuted or denied freedom because they did not agree with every Christian concept. However, they also knew that everyone, no matter what their faith, needed to respect the Christian ideals underlying the country.
We are living in a very volatile time. Disagreement and non-cooperation seem to be rampant and unbeatable. What can Christian people -- who have enough worries and challenges in their own lives -- do to honestly be of help in such a society?
Again, it is time to “walk at the speed of light,” to turn to our Savior and take a good look at what He would do and say in reaction to our people’s troubles? If you were in church yesterday, you probably heard the Beatitudes, whether as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew or the sermon on the “level ground” in Luke.
There is the answer – straight from the Lord’s mouth – that if Christian people are meek, merciful, righteous, pure in heart and peacemakers, they can not only be saved but can follow Him in a way that changes the world. What a thought for today – that power and riches are not the answer but instead all of Jesus’ concept of love is what we need, both as individuals and citizens.
February 11, 2019
Happy Valentine’s Day this week to all of the very special people who view this blog and who care enough about others to experience love, joy, and also grief at times. This holiday may seem fun but superficial in some ways, but it can be more than that.
The subject of Valentine’s Day gives me a chance to talk about my husband of nearly 45 years. If you have read my book, you know that he is a cowboy and that hands-on experiences helped him to heal from the death of our son.
My valentine, my husband, is a rock. He has always been someone I can lean on, depend on, and know without doubt that he is solidly in my corner. We have been through so many experiences together, some of them devastating, and he has never waivered in being a good husband – in fact strong in all his relationships.
Many years ago, he had to walk away from the family farm/ranch where he thought we would be for the rest of our lives. When Josh was two years old, my husband had to move us away from the small ranch we had bought and let it be sold before we lost it. A few years later he would again have to move us away from a place and job where we thought we would be permanently.
Every time disaster at one level or another has struck, my husband has been strong, able to cope, and always there for his family. He has strong faith coupled with a strong work ethic and love of his role in the rural area where we live, and he shares and nurtures those things not only in himself but in everyone around him.
In this era when so many men are divorced, estranged from family, abandoning children, etc., we need to admire and encourage the men like my husband. Do they have faults and shortcomings? Of course. Can we see the true gem and its shine even if we have to scrape through some surface distractions like a geode? We had better.
God gives us the people in our lives, and as I have said so many times, when we commit to love we also sign on for all of the joy and all of the possible grief. Thank God for those special people who make it all worthwhile.
February 4, 2019
February has begun in Montana in a very cold, snowy way, and we are undoubtedly in for a month of genuine winter. As country people, we are used to the severe weather and ready for it in a number of ways including plenty of firewood, a pantry full of provisions, and warm clothing and bedding.
However, for many people this month carries more threat than just cold weather. The lack of sunshine and dismal weather can bring on depression, particularly for those who are isolated or dealing with personal problems beyond their ability to cope.
If you or anyone in your life is facing the dismal grayness of February with worries, fears or depression, the need for light and the Light of the World are greater than normal. This time of year when we are inside more than usual can be a time to study the Scriptures, pray, and encourage in ourselves and others a stronger faith and spiritual life.
Faith can be fed by a number of things if we set our minds on walking with Jesus. First among those things is hope. February may be dismal and gray in many parts of the northern hemisphere, but it also is a month when every day gets longer. Light is growing stronger in February, light which will someday soon bring springtime.
If you are an early riser, you may be seeing sunrises first rather than a period of darkness. Sunrises can bring color and promise to the beginning of our days, literal enlightenment at a time when we need it badly. When you see the beauty of sunrise, consider a time for prayer and contemplation of God’s promises and blessings.
During the day, we can look for more reasons for hope, more evidence that God has given us purpose and many gifts and Jesus has given us the example of a perfect life of service as well as His salvation. Winters will always come, both the seasonal weather kind and the figurative life-disturbing kind which comes with troubles and loss.
Just as we store up supplies “against the winter,” as my Grandma used to say, we can store up spiritual strength along with faith, hope and love, against the winters of our lives and thoughts. May you always be surrounded with warmth and goodness in February and always.
January 28, 2019
Greetings from Urbana, Illinois, and welcome to the new people who are viewing this blog for the first times. I hope that it provides you with some food for thought and hopefully some help and comfort as you deal with life, which simply is not simple for any of us!
My dear friend is part of the Champaign-Urbana Symphony, and their marvelous concert Saturday night included one of my favorite symphonies by Franz Schubert. Schubert, like Mozart, was a child prodigy who produced an amazing volume of work and then died tragically at age 31.
That experience engendered a lot of thought about longevity. Most of us want to live as long as possible, and we do what we can to take care of our health to add precious years. We believe that life comes from God and we are meant to cherish it as long as he wills it, something which is complicated by modern society’s emphasis on longevity.
However, does the length of a life have anything to do with it being productive, meaningful and happy? Should we wish that Schubert had lived to a ripe old age and composed much more music? Is there any guarantee that a longer life would have meant more music?
In this month of my son Josh’s birthday, when he could have been 39 rather than dying at age 33, some regret at the brevity of that life were part of my thoughts. But this week end, as I thought about Josh and many people, some of them much younger when they died, it became obvious to me that length of life has nothing to do with quality of life.
Just as our Lord accomplished His ministry and work on earth in 33 years, each of us can lead lives of worth in service to Him and each other within whatever time we are given. Valuing each day, valuing each other, valuing our relationship with God – all of those things need to be part of our daily awareness, our daily dedication to being the best we can be.
For those of you who are grieving, may your focus be on the time that your loved one did have here and on the love that person gave and was given. And let’s value every person we know, whether they are hours old or over 100 years old. God smiles on that kind of thinking.
January 21, 2019
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I am sure that few people are not familiar with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. No matter what your opinions are regarding the Civil Rights Movement and the results of King’s efforts, I think we can all agree that the speech was powerful and wonderfully crafted.
Because so much of what I have written in my book is based on light, I have to share a quote from King’s speech: "Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.” I think that the sentiment can be extended beyond the subject of racial segregation and justice to any situation in our society which is dark and desolate and needs sunlight.
Martin Luther King saw us all as “God’s children,” referred to constantly throughout his famous speech, and we need to remember that above all else we are all God’s children, created by Him and in need of His compassion and words. The source of light is Him and His Son, and the darkness will not be conquered without them.
The other factor in what King said is that he was emphasizing his dream that things could be better. That kind of forward thinking is what I refer to so often in my book – forward thinking expressed in everything from the Gospels and Epistles to the Lord’s Prayer.
Things are definitely better for many people because of Martin Luther King’s and others’ efforts. Are they perfect? – No, but is the human condition ever perfect? What God gives us intelligence and abilities for is to continue to work to make things better, to help each other make things better not only for individuals but for our society.
I repeat my favorite words from my treasured minister author, Norman Vincent Peale, who reminded us that instead of saying “at least we can pray,” we need to realize that “at most we can pray.” I hope you will spend at least a little of this holiday to pray for the dream of better lives for all people, ourselves included.