Tuesday, September 19, 2017

FRIENDS

We all remember the television show, Friends, that showcased several young adults trying to "do life" together. They became a pseudo-family. The highly successful series resonated with its audience on several levels.

I believe many enjoyed the show because it mimicked a group of friends in their lives both past and present. For others, it may have triggered a longing for such a fun group to connect with.

This past Sunday, my pastor preached on the remarkable friendship between David and Jonathon of Old Testament times. He had a lot of important things to say about the value of friendships.

For me, good friends do three things:
  • They make me feel welcomed in their presence. I'm happy to be with them!
  • They bring out the best in me by encouraging me to exercise my abilities and tell me when I mess up.
  • They complete me. What do I mean by that?

I am blessed with a wonderful group of long-time friends. One of them has amazing spiritual strength. Another exhibits the gift of hospitality. She loves welcoming others to her home and making them comfortable. One blesses me with her sense of humor that helps keep things in perspective. One has incredible Bible knowledge and spiritual maturity. And one has the gift of nurturing others.

These women have much of what I lack. As I look to them as role models, I learn and feel completed.

One of my favorite New Testament passages comes from John, chapter 17, where Jesus prays for his disciples, a group of men he has poured himself into for three intense years. And...get this. He includes US in that prayer! Click here to read it for yourself: John 17. It's friendship at its very best.

* * * * * * *

Are you blessed with a good friend or friends? Cherish that.

To keep from being "me-centered" I should ask, "What kind of a friend am I?"

I must check myself:
  • Do I make others feel welcome in my presence?
  • Do I bring out the best in others?
  • Do I help complete my friends by openly sharing my strengths?
Whew. A lot to consider.

Thanks for reading, my electronic friends! 

 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY



GOD BLESS AMERICA

God Bless America is an American patriotic song written by Irving Berlin in 1918, during World War I. In 1938, in response to Hitler's anti-semitism, he revised the lyrics, making it an important song of World War II. Kate Smith introduced it on national television and in the 1943 movie, This is the Army. It became her signature song.

God Bless America is a prayer asking for God's blessing on a nation looking for peace.


To hear Kate Smith sing it in her beautiful contralto voice, click here: Kate Smith
(Be sure to watch the whole five minutes.)


* * * * * * *
 
After the tragedy of 9/11, when our country was reeling under nationwide devastation, members of Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol to reassure a hurting country. They broke out in a spontaneous rendition of God Bless America.

Democrats, Republicans, Senators, Representatives--all barriers were down as our leaders led us through our grief.

Click here to read an article depicting that event: Article

Click here to see a You Tube version and hear them singing: Congress on Capitol Steps



* * * * * * *

The most moving rendition of this beautiful song occurred May, 2017, at the National Memorial Day Concert at the Capitol on PBS.

Captain Luis Avila, a wounded warrior fighting his way back from horrendous injuries suffered in Afghanistan, sang this prayer, along with his musical therapist and opera star Renee Fleming.

Music is helping Captain Avila recover. His singing fills me with gratitude for the sacrifices many have made so I can live a life of freedom. His is the most beautiful performance of this song I've ever heard.

Click here for a very special blessing. You won't be disappointed:  Captain Luis Avila



Enjoy celebrating the 4th of July.

Pray that God truly will bless our America.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

HAUNTED

Is your mother in your head?
  • "Wash your hands, brush your teeth."
  • "Mend that hem, don't use a safety pin."
  • "Raggedy underwear? Un-uh. Never!"
  • "The kitchen isn't clean until the counters are wiped down."
My favorite saying from my mom when I was going through tough stuff was, "You'll live through it, Honey, but you won't look the same!"

And then there was Dad. Why do I think of him whenever I get to the bottom of the toothpaste tube? Having lived through the difficult Depression, Dad always insisted we squeeze out the very last bit of toothpaste.

Dad also said, "If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing right." No slackers allowed.

Bill & Marge Faris--my parents who lovingly "haunt" me, even today!


As moms and dads we work hard to "get into" our kids' heads. There's so much to teach: compassion, kindness, hygiene, work ethics, self-discipline, etc. Part of our job is "haunting" them...in a good way.


The June 2nd devotional in My Utmost for his Highest by Oswald Chambers really touched my heart. Here are the powerful sentences that grabbed me:

  • "The whole of our life inside and out is to be absolutely haunted by the presence of God."
  • "If we are haunted by God, nothing else can get in, no cares, no tribulation, no anxieties."
  • "We see now why Our Lord so emphasized the sin of worry."
  • "To be haunted by God is to have an effective barricade against all the onslaughts of the enemy."
And then this:

"'God is our Refuge'--nothing can come through that shelter."

When I allow worry to envelop me, it affects my sleep, appetite, joy, energy--even my face! It paralyzes me. That's why these lines from the devotional speak to me.

May we all be haunted by God, who loves us and know us better than even our moms!

 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

PAY IT FORWARD

Ms. Bolin, a fifth grade teacher at Dana Middle School in San Diego, is leading her students in an assignment that reinforces:
  • reading skills
  • writing skills
  • life skills - compassion and gratitude
Together the class read Pay it Forward: Young Readers' Edition by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Originally, this was an adult novel made into a movie starring Helen Hunt. The young readers' version is the same story and concept on a different reading level.

This wise teacher followed up the novel by assigning the students a "pay it forward" activity every day for the last month of school. They must come up with an idea, do it, and write about it for their homework assignments.

My granddaughter is fortunate to be in Ms. Bolin's class. I watched as she performed various good deeds: thank you notes, giving her last bit of change along with a note to a homeless man, giving flowers to a nurse, cleaning a sister's dresser, etc.

This assignment introduces fifth graders to the joy of serving others. Human kindness.

We're lacking that sometimes, aren't we? Hate is on the rise as evidenced by language and actions. Violence and rage seem to dominate news reports.

Evil MUST be destroyed and it has to begin with US.

Perhaps a "pay it forward" every day is a start.

Where is the light of human kindness?  I'm searching. It's there, just buried under all the bad news. It is:
  • on a Portland, Oregon, train when three men (heroes) defend victims of evil.
  • in Manchester, England, when strangers, one homeless, usher people to safety during the tragedy.
  • on a computer app created by a young boy to help physically challenged people find public places with accessibility.
  • in a sympathetic smile and offer of help to a young mom with a screaming toddler. Yes, even on an airplane!
  • in a fifth grade classroom in southern California.

How can  you and I Pay it Forward today?


Evil MUST be destroyed by US


 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

TOWER OF GOOGLE?

Picture this:

You're out with friends, enjoying a lively conversation. Someone casually asks, "I wonder if it's still snowing in Colorado?" Then, three people whip out phones and start typing furiously. The conversation continues. Several minutes later, someone says, "Yes." You are puzzled but then realize your friendly banter has been "google-ized"......your conversation among friends has been over-taken with up-to-the-minute facts.

Has Google become the new Tower of Babel?

Read Genesis 11 for a Biblical account of a time when mankind tried to become smart like God. It was four generations after Noah--after God had destroyed nearly the whole earth because of mankind's sin.

Noah's descendants spoke one language and settled the region called Shinar on the plain of Babylonia, between those two famous rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. The people multiplied and developed a booming city with skilled craftsmen.

Trouble was, they got a little full of themselves and decided to build a city with a huge tower "...that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." (Genesis 11: 4) 

This was human endeavor, full of human pride. It was self-glory instead of God-glory.


Do we do that today? The Internet allows us to wonder about nothing! Whatever question arises, there's an answer right at our thumb-tips.

Be assured, I believe in the power of knowledge, learning, and education--I'm a teacher, remember!

However, does our quest to know, understand, or explain interfere with faith and trust in God?

Adam and Eve got us into all sorts of trouble because they couldn't resist the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." (Genesis 2:16)

Those who attempted the Tower of Babel soon came under God's discipline when he said, "Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." (Genesis 11:7) That pretty much:
  • stopped the building
  • caused them to scatter over the known world (something they didn't want to happen)
  • gave birth to Foreign Languages 101.


I believe God instilled in each of us the ability to create, learn, discover, etc. After all, we are made in his image. However, I continually ask myself, "When do I need to know for sure and when do I trust God for what I don't know?"

 Apply the pride of "needing to know" to modern life. Where is the wonder, the mystery, the call to trust God even when we don't know his specific answers. It's a tough line to walk.


BTW: I did use Google to research the Tower of Babel....also, two very old commentaries collecting dust on my bookshelf: Halley's Bible Handbook (1962) and The New Unger's Bible Handbook (1984). I, too, have been "google-ized"!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

COMFORT WORDS

Words. Words. Words.

Lyrics (words) to songs speak to me. Always have, always will.

Our family is currently walking through a serious medical situation concerning an adult son. It's been a tough time, to say the least. How am I comforted during this stressful, extremely emotional time?
  • Prayer - my own, my family's, my friends'
  • Bible Reading - God's promises in Scripture are real
  • Love of community - family & friends: thank you for listening/praying/loving
  • Sound medical practices
 
There's another source of comfort, and that is words...to Christian music.

Old hymns from my youth
Praise songs from the 1980s
Modern renditions from my very progressive church
 
 
These words of comfort come to me at unusual times: in the middle of sleepless nights, during long walks, or when I'm feeling the most frightened.

Songs that are particularly meaningful:
  • I Need Thee Every Hour
  • Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Sweetest Name I Know - especially the line that reads, "...fear not I am with you peace be still, in all of life's ebb and flow..."
  • It is Well With My Soul
  • Let's Just Praise the Lord
  • God is So Good
  • The Joy of the Lord is My Strength
Click here to read the lyrics of modern praise songs:
My message to you: As life ebbs and flows, remember God loves you. He will walk you through whatever you must endure, he has a plan for you and your loved ones, and (as a pastor friend wrote to us), "God is God and he is good. He will never let you down and he'll never let you go!"

Take comfort in that, dear friends.

 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Mother's Day Rerun

(I haven't posted for a while.....life has been happening, with all its ups and downs. My desire is to get back to posting regularly on this blog. After all, I handle the ups and downs better when I'm writing. However, I'm repeating a post I did last Mother's Day, because I think the thoughts have merit. Thank you for reading.)

 

 

Mother's Day Can be Difficult

Hallmark has made sure no one forgets Mother's Day. However, they've also managed to make it difficult for some people to get through it. I always cringe in church when we are instructed to stand and wish the women around us a "Happy Mother's Day."

What about those women who aren't mothers? Who have lost children? Who have lost their moms? Those who are single or those who choose not to have kids? What about those who may be estranged from their children?

I once knew a woman who never went to church on Mother's Day because it was too painful. She spent almost her entire life taking care of aging parents and in-laws. She said they were her mission in life, and there was no time for motherhood. Ouch.

What about single dads? Shouldn't we send them cards or flowers and chocolates on this day?

I feel privileged to be a mom and enjoy everything about it. But, I never want to lose my sensitivity to those who are not parents or choose not to be parents.

I wish all mothers a special blessing as they work diligently to make life good for their children. They deserve the accolades and attention of Mother's Day.

I pray all women (and men) feel God's blessing whether they're parents or not.

Maybe we should celebrate a Happy Adult Day..........

By the way:  call your mother!