March 18, 2019
St. Patrick’s Day has always been a favorite of mine, not because I have a drop of Irish blood, but because of a very special friend. Yesterday my husband and the Knights of Columbus served green pancakes and sausages at our church, and in the evening we had corned beef and cabbage with lots of other good veggies. So we celebrated well, but I want to continue the celebration with the story of my friend Roseanne.
Roseanne was Irish as “Paddy’s pig”, born and raised in Butte, Montana, with a large family of Irish miners. She loved all the songs and taught them to me, and she revered all things Irish, including taking her beloved grandfather to Ireland to see all of the relatives still there and to enjoy the “little people” and all the traditions and special places.
But most of all Roseanne treasured her faith with a strength that matched all of her amazing accomplishments. She loved Our Lady of the Rockies, a magnificent white statue which stands on the mountain overlooking Butte. She knew that the statue brought blessings to the city she loved so much, and to this day when I drive through Butte my eyes are drawn constantly to the statue.
Roseanne’s story is one of both joy and sorrow, and it fits very well with my consistent theme of following Jesus in both grief and joy. She was easily the best teacher I have ever been around. She loved junior high students, a group whom many teachers avoid, and she could reach all children and teach them to love English and reading and writing in many ways.
Her classroom was highly organized and disciplined, but it was also bustling and full of sounds of kids participating, laughing and exclaiming with amazement. Outside of school she had a Book Club, a Writing Club, a Photography Club, and a club which produced a yearbook for the school, and kids flocked to all of the clubs to the point that they often outnumbered the kids who were practicing sports.
Then came a vindictive administrator who cost her the job and cancer which took her life. The switch from joy to sorrow was horrible, but her faith carried her through all her trials. I loved her through all stages of her life, but I admired her the most for her resilience and her faith in the face of insurmountable odds.
May you be blessed with that kind of faith.
March 15, 2019
My apologies for missing my Monday blog update. To be honest the reason that I did not post on Monday was that my focus was on a new book – a sequel to Walking at the Speed of Light entitled Drinking Deeply: Reflections on the Living Water. To be fair to you regular readers, I shouldn’t miss a blog post anyway, so here goes.
On March 14 I turned 71 years old. I realized that day that I was the youngest I’ll ever be for the rest of my life – and that made me feel young. I’m with Toby Keith: “Don’t Let the Old Man In, a recipe for staying young which helps to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. We can stay young in a way if we just walk with the young Jesus (remember that He was in His 30’s when He did all His ministry).
Then we move to today, March 15, the birthday of my oldest son who catapulted me into motherhood and engaged my heart in children as a gift from God. As we gather for dinner tonight, celebrating the two birthdays, I will be so thankful to have him and his family at our table because we share faith and love of so many things.
This love brings me back to a theme that is vital to not only my book and my programs but my whole philosophy of life based on belief. We know that God is Love and that He sent His Son to express that Love in the very deepest way possible, Love dedicated to saving us even though that involved allowing His Son to die.
When we profess our belief in God, we accept our role in that kind of Love, which radiates far beyond the everyday expression of caring about the people in our lives. Real love involves realizing that we have signed on for all the joys connected with that person and all the sorrows connected with that person. If we lose a child or lose a relationship, however temporarily, or see a child suffer, then we know the suffering that God experienced.
Perhaps this seems complicated, but to me it is so simple – that suffering with or over a loved one is part of the Love given and inspired by God. May this Love that passes all understanding be a vital part of all your lives.
March 4, 2019
My husband and I are attending another funeral today – the fourth in two weeks – and as we offer sympathy to people dealing with grief, we can believe that this is the worst darkness. Family members, friends and neighbors adjusting to losing someone who belonged strongly in their lives is so hard.
However, if we look around at all the people in our communities, we realize that so many are dealing with different forms of darkness, some much more difficult than grief. I say more difficult, even though these things can hardly be measured, because there is no support or the darkness is self-inflicted and repetitive.
This week many churches observe Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent leading to Jesus’ death and resurrection. One reference is to Queen Esther, whose exhortation to the Jewish people to fast and put ashes on their foreheads becomes instrumental in saving their lives. This helps us realize that darkness can even be political – something which speaks to our current national problems.
At the risk of seeming simplistic, I believe that the answer to political and societal darkness is the same as the answer to individual darkness. We need light, and it needs to come through Jesus, the Light of the World. One thing Jesus constantly reminds us of is that all things in our lives and our society are in God’s hands and will work together for His purposes despite human interference.
One sad thing related to our current situation is the misconception that Christianity must be put aside in all political affairs because some American citizens are not Christian. Instead, while honoring religious freedom and avoidance of any kind of persecution, we should embrace the Christian beliefs and ideals which will benefit all citizens.
As the early Christian leaders discovered, the whole world can benefit because some people dedicate themselves to sharing Jesus’ Light. Just as Jesus knew that His ministry to a small remnant of people in one small corner of the world could lead to the salvation of so many “throughout the earth,” we need to realize that when we seek the Light and offer others support in seeking the Light, we make a difference which can be contagious.
During this time before Easter (Resurrection Sunday), surrender your darkness to His light and shine, shine, shine – and those touched by your life will also shine.
February 25, 2019
While I’m writing today, a pot of Swedish meatball soup is simmering on my stove and amazing smells are filling the house. Outside, the snow keeps falling with enough wind to threaten possibly a blizzard and definitely low wind chill factors later tonight.
The idea of “comfort food” is often shared in our culture, often in a critical way because unnecessary pounds can be the result of carb- and calorie-laden poor choices. However, food can bring comfort, especially if it appeals to the senses in the way the soup is appealing and if it warms us at a time when our surroundings or our feelings are cold.
One story I love to tell and retell is the one about our former neighbors who showed up on my doorstep one evening. It was a dark December evening not long after our son died and my husband had returned to the ranch camp where he works, and I was weighed down with the chill of grief and hopelessness.
But with a knock on the door there they were, bringing with them a pot of homemade turkey noodle soup and a loaf of homemade bread and asking me if they could join me for supper. Of course, they brought with them not only the warm, nurturing food but also their warm, nurturing friendship, all of which I needed so much.
What I am sharing on this icy day is that we need to seek comfort in whatever form answers our needs. Of course, caution is needed so that comfort is not in a form which can be damaging; for example, momentary comfort may seem to be found in drinking or drugs or temporary relationships, but that sort of comfort will never last or truly meet our needs.
If you are joining me in “walking at the speed of Light,” then you are seeking comfort in the most wholesome way possible, comfort from the Lord who promises comfort, healing and hope throughout His ministry and then promises us the ultimate comfort of eternal life with Him. No more pain, no more suffering, no more tears – ultimate comfort.
So imagine yourself joining me in an aromatic, tasty bowl of soup and then truly join me in loving the Lord of comfort, Light and Life.
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.