Tuesday, November 28, 2006

He Really Did It

It all started when Mr. and Mrs. William Banks had their first child. Robert Evan was his name. He was a detached, scholarly child with an angular nose, and a dark unibrow. Though most scholarly children do seem to be a bit detached anyway, he was detached in a very odd sense of the word. He did not allow himself to feel any affection towards mother or father - towards anyone for that matter. Even as a baby, when hugged or held, he would strain against their arms, and wail until he was released. Perhaps this detachment implies independence. Oh no. Not Robert. He was thirty-one and still living quietly at home at the time this story took place. He expected his mother to come in every morning, sit softly on the edge of his bed, and stroke his hair until he woke up. He then required her to hum Rachmaninov's Suite No. 2, Op. 17 outside his door as he prepared for the day.

"Rob, are you quite done dressing?"

"Just working on the tie, Anne." (He never called her "mother".) "Start from the beginning. I'll comb my hair while you're at it." As you can see, he liked to savor every note. Oddly enough, this fine specimen never sang a song, or played an instrument in his life.

He was a very private person - never shared his thoughts or feelings with anyone, which is one of the underlying reasons for his status as a bachelor.

He had never been 'in love', neither had he ever been 'out of love'. Every time he left the house, a trail of at least seven females followed him at indiscreet distances, casting obvious looks of dislike at the others as each considered herself to be the Chosen One for Robert. His own mother could not understand why the women followed Robert until he himself informed her that they did so because they admired his unibrow, of which he was very proud. He groomed it carefully with a toothbrush every morning, and enhanced it with a stick of drawing charcoal.

"Rob, dear, I'm sure it's because of something else. Perhaps your money?"

"Nonsense, Anne. I know it is because of my unibrow. I'm sure they are all artists and must study me carefully to make the proper translation from mind to paper. A unibrow is a highly difficult feature to duplicate."

His mother folded her lips into a thin line and said nothing more. The mere thought of seven women following her son because they admired his unibrow...it was too much. She had heard the expression, "he had a face only a mother could love", and this saying wounded her deeply: was she that poor a mother that she found her son so hideously repulsive? But every morning as she studied him across the breakfast table, trying to find even one feature to admire, she only found him more revolting, more gruesome than before. He nose seemed longer and more pinched, his eyes more beady, and his unibrow more bushy and black. And was that the hint of a goatee creeping along the chin that fell miles below the bulbous forehead? She could not restrain the involuntarily shudder that came after each careful morning study. She could only take comfort in one thing: since Robert's birth no one had ever said to Will or her, "oh, he looks JUST like you!", for indeed it was not true; there was very little family resemblance to be found between the three of them.

Robert eventually began to sense his mother's vague displeasure about something, but couldn't put a finger on what it was all about. He spent many evenings reflecting on this development, when he finally received a revelation at a most unexpected time. It was not what he was doing, but was he wasn't doing.

He'd just finished attacking his dinner in the most vulgar way - spreading his vicinity with bread crumbs, gravy, and gristle from his steak, and finally dousing the whole setup with the remains of his wine, when he broke his cup across his plate.

"Robert! Just look at you!" his mother shrieked, rising.

He walked over to mirror and examined himself carefully, dusted a few crumbs from his coat, inspected his hand for possible glass splinters, and returned to the table.

"Yes?"

"Your place is like a pig trough!"

"Yes?"

"You're thirty-one years old!"

"Yes?"

"I'm ashamed of you!"

"Apparently so."

His mother grabbed the back of a chair and squeezed it until her knuckles were bulging and white. "Why can't you live up to your name? Your father has led a successful life! What about your grandfather?"

"What about him?" Robert responded coolly.

"He started his own business; he made it very well in life."

"So you want me to live up to my name?"

"Yes, I do. Do something worthwhile."

"All right, I will." A look of ominous calm passed over Robert's features.

"And please clean up your place."

"I think you just mentioned the word, 'worthwhile'?" He turned halfway up the stairs and nodded to confirm his statement. "Goodbye, I'm going out."

She watched him climb the stairs with a sinking feeling. Could she never penetrate that dense, self-infatuated head?

"What's the trouble, Anne?" Will wondered, entering the room, and draping his suit jacket over the back of his chair.

"It's Robert," she said, turning. "Look at his place."

Will sighed. "I know, but you've allowed him to do it for the past thirty years; I'm sure he won't change now."

"How do you--" Anne broke off as Robert walked through the room, hat on, and walking cane in his hand.

Turning, he tipped his hat and bowed slightly before slamming the door. Anne and Will moved towards the window as one, and watched as the inevitable stream of females began to file after him. Suddenly, Robert did an uncharacteristic thing. He turned and began shouting and waving his cane violently at them. They stopped short, terrified, but did not start to run until he wheeled and rushed towards them, cane whistling sharply through the air. They did not return to continue their pursuit.

"What's gotten into him?" Will wondered after his son's lone figure disappeared in the distance.

"I only lectured him - probably not enough to put him in a bad mood... I told him to clean up his place, and I also told him to..."

"Told him what?" Will wondered, scared by the shade of white creeping over his wife's face.

"Told him to...live up to his name," she said in a barely audible whisper, then sank to the floor in a dead faint.

"About time someone told him that," Will grunted as he went off in search of the smelling salts. Suddenly he stopped, mid-step, freezing in holy fear. "No."

Yes, the room replied. Yes, he will.

"He wouldn't!"

He is.

Will thudded to the floor - the first time he'd fainted since Rob Banks had entered their formerly happy home thirty-one years ago.

Poor Rob Banks.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Control Freaks Can Grow Up

I never knew the true definition of the title, “Control Freak” until I was in charge of something. Suddenly, everything changed. Suddenly, nothing could be done properly unless I was the one at the helm. Suddenly, the word ‘surrender’ made me nervous.

Really nervous.

This story takes us back a few years when my sister, my aunt, and I decided to start publishing our own Christian e-magazine. This is a long and painful story, so I will summarize and spare you the gruesome details. Basically, I was “somehow” appointed editor. I understood that it was my job to pull the magazine together, organize details, process mail, develop our mission statement, and formulate a set of guidelines. It sounded so easy...
Two weeks later, my life hurtled into a brick wall. Maybe I glanced off, maybe the wall toppled over on me – my memory of that time is still a little blurry. All I know is that I had taken on WAY TOO MUCH. I was spending over thirty hours a week trying to file and manage hundreds of email addresses: a nightmare. I was trying to respond to mail, appease the rude, express gratitude to the gracious, make plans to keep people’s interest, design the layout to look professional and easy to read, encourage the other two columnists to meet the deadlines, trying to remind myself that friendships were more important. And this was supposed to be a small-operation thing! Then everything came to a grinding halt.

“I QUIT!” was the only explosion that sounded from the computer desk when the keys stopped rattling and the smoke cleared.

And indeed I did. For all of five days.

What a miserable five days they were too. Here was the problem – our problem, my problem: when I quit, I was selfishly dragging the whole thing down with me. “I quit” meant, hypothetically, “it’s all over”. When the other two involved offered to ‘share the load’ my heart almost stopped beating.

“What’s the password?” they asked, “We’ll add the email addresses, we’ll type commas between addresses from now ‘til Kingdom Come; we’ll put the magazine together”.

Visions of formatting gone awry flashed before my eyes. Three beats short of a heart attack, I hopped back in the pilot’s seat, determined once more, to do everything myself. “Thanks anyway guys, but I think I’ve got everything under control.” (Translation: “No thanks, I’d rather be in control.”)

No man is an island. Eventually I learned that it was OK to accept help from others, hand the reigns to someone else, even if only for a short time. My sanity was spared because of this.
Guys, I am not writing this to show you how I can behave at my worst: I’m trying to say that so many of us have a little of this hidden inside. We believe that things can work out properly only if we are in charge. We would rather drive than take a plane because we trust our hands, not the pilot’s. We paint our own rooms because our friends would do a lousy job. We format our own articles because someone else would do it all wrong.
And my solution is not, “Hang out with some phlegmatics; life will get really easy.” My suggestion is: die to self and be humble (i.e., don’t be so proud and selfish!). Control freaks are not people who are naturally more selfish than others: they are people who succumb to their intrinsic selfishness and...yes...let it take control of them! As the title of this article suggests, control freaks can grow up. They can submit and...yes...even surrender.
When we humble ourselves, then we are lifted up.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

It Profits Nothing

Based on a true story related to me by a friend...

It was by pure chance that my car broke down, I’m sure. It’d been a very faithful car in the past; serving me well, saving me gas money, getting me where I needed to go. Some people would like to call such a thing a coincidence because I broke down in front of a church, but I like to call it a mistake. I had no amazing conversion experience as some of the stories tell, and what’s more, I don’t intend to ever go back.

I’d heard that church people are known for their compassion. Seriously! So, I trudged the short distance across the parking lot, mounted the steps, and knocked on the door. It was opened directly by a corpulent man in the biggest black suit I’d ever seen.

“Can I come in?” I asked, keeping my voice rough, but quiet. I said it at exactly the same time as he said, “Welcome!”

It was an awkward moment. He stood there grinning like the cat that swallowed the canary, while my fingers linked and scrambled and sweated together behind my back. What to say?
“My...umm...my car—”

We did it again. This time I caught him mid-sentence saying, “Thank you for coming today; I’ll help you find a seat.”

Also awkward.

He waved for me to follow him and started to lead me toward some swinging doors where a woman stood with a stack of folded papers. I could feel her roving eyes taking in every aspect of me. I felt terrified as she approached me waving a long tee shirt.

“Here, honey: why don’t you put this on over your shirt during the service,” she suggested.
I stared.

And took the offered tee shirt.

The woman stuck out her hand and grinned a 100-watt grin. “I’m Dorothy. We’re so glad to have you in our service today.”

“My car...” I broke off. She’d already turned away.

The dumbly grinning man beckoned me on, but again halted before the doors. He leaned over and muttered something in Dorothy’s ear. I waited, cheeks flaming. Apparently, they were talking about me. Did they know about my car? If not, how should I interrupt and tell them? I really needed to get going.

Dorothy was approaching again.

“Honey, I hate to tell you this, but jeans aren’t allowed in the service. It’s disrespectful to the Lord. If you’d like to come with me next door, though, I can quickly fix you up with a nice skirt!”
She grinned like the canary before the cat swallowed it. Sort of twitchy and nervous.
I felt my blood burning; my legs trembled.
“I’d not like to come next door. My car just broke down outside—”

“Aww honey, what bad luck!” she crooned.

Mr. Can-Do-Nothing-But-Grin was busy scribbling something on the back of a folded paper.
“Here’s the number of a good towing company. I know the fella who owns the place; he’ll fix ya up nice. I’m ‘fraid he’s not a believer – that’s why he’s open today – but he’ll still do you a good job.” He grinned, and folded his arms atop his expansive abdomen.
I don’t remember how I got outside the doors; all I know is that eventually, I did. I turned and looked through the glass only long enough to see the Cat and the Canary looking towards the door and leaning together in conversation.
I knew who they were talking about.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Different Kind of FREE

The idea for the title of my blog and column came from this (piece of a) song by the Christian singing group, Zoegirl:
Pleading the most worthy cause
For the innocence we lost
With His tears of blood
He started freedom’s flood
As the world’s opinions sway
My beliefs will not be changed

Take it back to the beginning
To the first taste of shame
A fallen world in waiting
Only One could take the blame

Fast forward to the ending
One truth remains
There’s a miracle waiting
For all who speak His name

Take my life, my liberty
It’s all but a breath
In the grand scheme of things
Oh, I have found eternity
It’s a
different kind of free
And they can’t take it from me

Signs

I had the most routine walk to work. One step out the door, three down the steps, several across the street, and I was on my way over the mossy, twisting sidewalk: past iron lampposts and hanging baskets overflowing with blooming flowers, and fragrant greenery. My favorite part of the scenic walk was where I crossed the Wildflower Bridge. It was a beautiful little swinging bridge: rustic in appearance, and beautiful as it stretched across the dreamy creek and escorted the winding path into the dusky, mystic forest beyond. If I had the leisure, I would stop mid-crossing and gaze at the water swirling beneath, just for the sacred feel it brought.

One night, a raging storm twisted through our village, leaving behind flooded gardens, crumpled roofs, tattered hanging baskets, and broken windows. The next morning, I joined the stream of work-bound people and walked with them under a gloomy and overcast sky, trying to avert my eyes from all the wreckage and waste while also trying to watch my step lest I slip on the generously strewn mud or break my brisk trot by stumbling upon some shattered glass.

Then I saw it. My bridge – the Wildflower Bridge was gone. Obliterated, save for the one wooden post belonging to the torn railing that was probably surging through the torrential surf miles away. The impatient and disappointed crowd of workers beside me was driven to follow a long, winding bypass to reach their respective offices. As I walked, I tried to forget the incident, tried to carry out my daily work with as much vigor as in days past, but I could not.

For the next few days, as the town rose to its knees, then to its feet, I watched and waited, hoping for my bridge’s recovery. Even as the town dusted its jacket, straightened its hat, and as the creek waters receded, I waited for the bridge to be restored, or for a report of some kind on the progress being made.

It never came.

I engulfed myself in my work so I would not dwell on the disappointment. Because I had to make such a wide detour, I was never on time anymore, so it was necessary that I worked longer hours. As I passed my creek in the midnight gloom, I hummed so I could not hear its laments for they tore into my very soul.

The warehouse next to the creek was one of the first to go back into business. As I passed by it each midnight, I was surprised to see the lights on, and to hear banging and grinding – the sounds of machinery at work. Men streamed in and out both morning and evening. These events confounded me – I knew not what to make of it – I only hoped they were rebuilding my bridge.
These things continued for many weeks.

Then one day, it all made sense. That morning, I saw it.

The Sign.

It was a beautifully painted Sign with intricate flower designs and hand carved lettering. Its oiled surface gleamed in the warm sunshine, and for a moment, it captured my complete attention because of its vast proportions and the impressive craftsman-work. I could read of the time and skill devoted to it by gazing in its face.

It said, “Danger! Caution: Wildflower Bridge (Est. 1857 –by Javid Valleniour) is Out. Please follow detour.”

Later that spring, someone planted fresh daffodils and lilies by its base, and the patch was beautifully maintained throughout the following seasons.
We continued to use our detour.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Home is Not Here

(It Never Was)

The last bag is packed, the last zipper shut. I lean back on my heels and look at the room I’m about to leave. What was it...three, four days ago that we got here? Maybe less. It seems like just yesterday. I stand to my feet, pull the heavy backpack onto my shoulder and inch backwards towards the door. Maybe next time I should bring a piece of furniture, something to make the room look more...

“Time to leave!” a voice calls from downstairs. One fleeting glance is all I’m entitled to before I close the door behind me.

I shouldn’t be too worried. We’ll be back next week.

Six hours, and two cramped legs later, I open the door to my other room – my smaller, but certainly more personalized room. The backpack slides to the floor with a heavy thump. I won’t bother to unpack most of the essentials – five days can slip by so fast.

In case you’ve not guessed already, my family is moving. Again. I love moving: it’s an opportunity to clean out the closet, clean out the old life, make way for ‘all things new’ – and it’s exciting every time. What is not exciting is finding the house where God wants you to be, and then having God keep a restraining hand on your shoulder, so to speak, by not granting the immediate sale of your current house.

There is an agony associated with watching someone exit your house after a showing, wondering if you prayed hard enough for them to like it, wondering if you prayed with the right words, asked God for the right things, asked with the right motives. When nothing happens week after week, it’s very hard to accept the fact that God sometimes says simply: “Wait.”
Be still and know that He is God, right?
Right.

What’s right is not always easy.

Someday, I know that we will be able to settle down in our new house. Someday my heart will not be in two places, or caught somewhere between. Someday my family will look back and say, “Praise the Lord for letting us sell that house. We thought it would never happen, but He is faithful.”

This desert place in our lives, this valley called “Waiting” has taught me a lesson I should have learned years ago: We are pilgrims, wanderers in a strange land. We have no true home but that which is in Heaven. We are visitors; we are sojourners. We are just passing through. Someday we will be in our true home, but for now, we do our duty and look forward to that day.

My earthly possessions may be in Maryland, my heart may be in Virginia, but my citizenship is in Heaven.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Hard Life

I bet you think you have a rough life; a bad job. I have news for you: nothing can compare to mine. You could run a contest from East to West, North to South, and you won’t find a position more psychologically damaging, nerve-wracking, disobliging than mine.

How would you like to do nothing more than sit silent all day, having nothing more to stare at than the peevish, scowling, exasperated faces of those people to whom you are slave? How would you like people to shake you violently on occasion, mutter curses in your face, throw insults left and right, criticize you because you work fast, but not fast enough? Worst of all, you’re never given the chance to explain yourself!

It’s rare that I make a mistake, but sometimes I accidentally forget and take a rest while I’m helping someone with their work. I never thought it would make them so angry! But I tell you it’s not my fault! They expect me to do everything; so when do I get a break?

Finally, when the weight of everything I hold in my mind combines with the insults and scowls of those who use me to their advantage, I have to grumble a little. When I sigh and groan, people rush concernedly to me, and try to figure out what’s wrong.

For a moment, I feel special – but it doesn’t last for long. That’s when they shriek in outrage, “You STUPID COMPUTER! You lost all of my files! I can’t stand computers – they’re nothing but trouble.”

But, my friends, I know that you don’t agree with them.

You’re using me right now! Please, be kind. (And, remember to keep your mouth closed when you sit in front of me).


Author’s P.S. I’d just finished writing this story, and went to save it when the screen blanked and Microsoft Word shut down on me!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

To My Health.....And Yours

He wakes up at 5:15 every morning, does pushups for forty-five minutes, then runs five, grueling miles while munching on an organic granola bar. After that, he takes a dive into his backyard pool, and does endurance laps until hunger calls him from the water. I can always smell his baked apple, plain yogurt, and bran muffin. He is a man of routine, a man of habit. After breakfast, he rides his bike twenty miles in the heat of the day. His afternoon and evening routines are very similar, though five times more intense.

I would know this because I am his neighbor.

One day I spoke to him over the fence as I pruned my forsythia. He was doing bench presses on the back patio, but put the weights aside when he saw me.

“Hi, Neighbor,” he called, sitting up. I returned the greeting.

“You should really put on a pair of running shoes and hit the road,” he recommended. “You’d be surprised – the wonders it would work on you. You’d not only feel great about yourself – you’d be looking great, living to your fullest potential; what more could you want? Running a simple thirty minutes a day could add ten years to your life!”

If I didn’t previously understand that he was a one-track minded health fanatic, I would have taken offense when he told me that I had the potential to look great.

“And, including a few fresh fruits and whole grains in your daily diet – you’ll be rock climbing when you’re 99!”

“What exactly are you doing all this for?” I asked, avoiding his challenge.

“To increase my life span. Want to live to see my grandchildren marry, that’s what I want.” He nodded happily to confirm his feelings. “Want to feel great my entire life. You know what? Never spent a dime on hospital or doctor bills since I was twenty.”

I nodded with my lips pressed tightly. He knew as well as I did that I’d been released from the hospital four days earlier. Pneumonia, high blood sugar, and a blood clot.

“Worked my entire adult life to have the health and strength I have today. Feel better now than I did at eighteen!” He laughed.

“How are your grandchildren?” I tried to change the subject. What grandfather didn’t want to talk about his grandchildren?

“Doing okay, doing okay. Emilie’s the youngest – turning six on Friday, having a big party; lots of guests and all.”

“So I guess you’ll be gone on Friday. Do you need me to watch your dog?”
No... I guess I won’t be going to the party.”

“Why not?” I couldn’t mask my surprise.

“Can’t interrupt my schedule. Three hours driving each way – waste of time – whole day wasted, actually. Have a full schedule on Friday anyway. It’s my busiest day, you know.”
“Busy with what? Something I could help with? Emilie will be disappointed if you can’t come.”
“Oh I know, I know. No, I appreciate your offer, but it’s just exercising. Friday’s my most intense workout day.”

“I see.” My voice was chilly with disapproval as I bid him good day, and turned to leave. So, he exercises in order to see his grandchildren marry, but he’s too busy exercising to go to their birthday parties. Maybe when the time came, he’d also be too busy exercising to attend their weddings.

Ultimately, I figured it wasn’t any of my business; so, for the rest of the day, I tried to put him out of my mind and work on my crocheting instead.

The months went by, and as my health failed, his only increased. He pushed himself further, higher, faster, better. I could only watch.

Then one day, he pulled out of the driveway and I never saw him again.
Head-on collision, they said.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Stories Never Told

The sidewalks are cracked with the dry, rampant heat. Or is it age? They’ve been there for longer than I can remember, which speaks volumes. I was born before most of these shops were built; before half the parents of the children filing towards school even lay eyes upon each other, before that library was voted into existence once upon a Town Hall meeting long ago (I was first in line to cast my vote), before most everything you see now.

So, I sit on the sidewalk in the sun and hope that somebody will come ask me to tell them a story of when our town was younger – about the good old days when people were kind and took time to love their neighbors, and stop for a friendly chat now and then.

“Mornin’,” I greet Mrs. Washers, owner of Essie’s Dry Cleaning Services as she steps out behind me to beat a rug. “This town’s not what it used to be, is it?”

“Sure isn’t,” she agrees, “Busy day,” she comments before returning to the air-conditioned depths of her shop. Maybe before the door closes, she’ll stick her head back out to invite me in for a cup of tea – maybe then we can reflect and I can tell my stories, I think to myself. I’ll tell her about the time Tom Niles and I went out to Fitch Splayer’s barn raising back in the days. And let me tell you, nobody can know half of what a barn raising is, ‘til they’ve had the experience of Old Splayer’s. Can’t forget those evenings after working when we gathered ‘round the long tables bowed over with every food imaginable. Then the games, the songs, the talking ‘til all-hours. My spirits rise as the memories come flooding back…

Then Mrs. Washers’ door slams shut.

The newspaper boy, Jack, rides up on his bike, hops off, and leaves it leaning against the iron lamppost as he makes his hurried rounds. I stare at the post reflectively.
“That there lamppost’s been around since before your grandpapa even moved into this here town,” I call out, hoping he’ll ask about it.

He glances at me and shrugs. Maybe he didn’t hear me right.

“Want to know how it came to be there?” A story offer; what kid’s going to turn that down?

“Got swim team after this. We’re runnin’ late. Gotta go.” He blows a bubble with gum, and rides away, picking it off his face. I watch his retreating back with a sigh. I think to myself that I’ll never understand this new brand of kids.

That there lamppost was given in memory of old Mrs. Starch who died a millionaire and never knew it. Lived in a potting shed ‘til the end of her days, with no living relatives to her knowledge. But that’s only the beginning of the story. The best part was... Oh! here comes Keff Lawless, probably on his way to buy some food for his growing family. Last time I seen him he had a brand new baby boy.

Don’t know why people aren’t going to the Old General for groceries these days. Ever since that new place sprang up on the corner – the one with the gaudy, flashing red sign – everybody’s abandoned the Old General. That ol’ store orders their milk and eggs from another town, and has them delivered by a big truck that breathes black smoke into our clean blue air. Awful risky to me, consuming shipped eggs and milk from who-knows-where.

“Hey Keff,” I call out in greeting. “Come’n sit for a spell. I’ve got to tell you a good one about the Old General. Ever hear the one where your Pop—”

“Sorry,” Keff breathes as he jogs past, beet red, and sweating like anything. “I’m late for a meeting. Gonna be the new pool manager.”

I watch his feet kick up small clouds of dust into he fades into the scorching distance.
Pool? What pool?

I lean back in the sun, pull my hat over my eyes, and dream about my little town, and the people who are in such a hurry to forget its memories.

Ol’ Rick Selles, the new county sheriff, rolls by slowly with his window down, radio buzzing. He sees an old man sitting on the sidewalk, and calls for me to go back ‘where I belong’. “The street’s not the place for old folk like you,” he scolds kindly, but firmly. I think to myself that he probably doesn’t remember when his father, the old sheriff, used to come sit with me after his shift was up and we’d smoke our pipes and tell jokes like all get-out.

But he looks too busy to hear a story right now, so I gather my hat, and I leave, not once turning to look at the spot I’d occupied nearly every day since my high school graduation.No longer is it mine. Just like the town, it’s slipping from my fingertips.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Whatever Is - Is Best

This is a poem that I memorized a few months ago -
It's come to mind so many times over the past few months
as we've watched the Embrees deal with the loss of their son
and brother, Ethan.
We know as we grow older
And our eyes have clearer sight
That under each sad wrong somewhere
There lies the root of right!

We that the soul unaided
Sometimes by the heart’s unrest
And to grow, mean often to suffer
That whatever is – is best.

We know there are no errors
In the great eternal plan,
And that all things work together
For the final good of man

That each sorrow has its purpose
By the sorrowing, oft unguessed:
That as sure as sun brings morning,
Whatever is – is best.
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Friday, March 24, 2006

Bringing on Maturity

For lack of anything better to post, here: This is from a [fiction] journal I wrote long, long ago.

MATURITY:

1. Stop thinking about yourself. Don’t walk into a group worrying about the way you look, the way you feel, the things you’re saying. Take interest in the things that are being said by others and try to make them feel good.

2. Have a little initiative. When you see something that needs to be done – don’t wait around for someone else to do it, do it yourself. If a brother, sister, or friend needs help, don’t expect someone else to come to their rescue. Offer your assistance. (Don’t always expect praise – just do those things to be nice. You’ll get your reward in Heaven.)

3. Read good books, geared towards the older group instead of most of the cheesy stuff sifted through the teen entertainment mafia today. Think through things deeply, study hard, read a lot, and try to keep a clear mind about things in general.

4. Be friends with someone older than yourself. They can really help when it comes to things you’re struggling with because they’ve most likely already been through (and conquered) the thing themselves and can give good advice.

5. Don’t abandon a relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray without ceasing, establish a daily Bible reading routine, and try to behave in a Christ-like manner, asking for His help and blessing in all your endeavors.

Friday, February 24, 2006

"Christian Divorcement”

A Service of Divorcement
John and Mary are both Christians and want to keep Christ as the center of all things – including at the center of their divorcement.
So they developed a Christian divorcement ceremony, complete with a pastor leading the service (in a church, too) to remain completely holy in all proceedings surrounding their decision.

A couple stood at the front of the dusky church. The pastor stood before them, with his Divorcement Handbook open, his eyes roaming the open page, as he waited for the music to die down, and the guests to settle themselves.
When silence reigned, he opened his mouth.
“We have gathered here together today, to perform an operation upon this which has been past united. What three years ago I joined together, I stand before you now to put asunder. Please bow with me in meditation and prayer.”
The rustle of starched collars and neatly pressed skirts whispered through the building as the people bowed and the insipid prayer echoed tastelessly off the vaulted ceiling of the small chapel.
The pastor adjusted the small glasses on his nose, and flipped through the pages of his book.
“Do you, John, fully intend to put away Mary from yourself: to separate all bonds, not withstanding your commitment, to reverse the act which was performed preceding this date?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Do you, Mary, agree to John’s decision: to fully put him away from yourself, to separate all bonds, notwithstanding your commitment, to reverse the act which was performed preceding this date?”
“Yes, sir.”
“All you have heard their intent. If any object, speak now, or forever keep your thoughts to yourself. John, please turn towards Mary and state your withdrawal.”
They stood diagonally across each other, facing the pastor more than each other, and tried to pretend they were elsewhere.
“I John divorce you, Mary, from being my wife. No longer will I have or hold you. Through better or worse, we will deal with our situations as individuals. Whether we are rich or poor, sick or in good health, we shall remain in this divided state. I cannot love or cherish you as long as we both shall live. To this I pledge myself, truly with all my heart.”
Mary repeated her vows in the same manner, looking over John’s shoulder at the stained-glass window beyond the whole while she spoke.
“Now, please return your tokens of your love for one another, and concede your commitments,” the pastor stated without emotion.
“Mary,” John began, trying to look anywhere but at her. “I take myself from you in divorcement, and cease to be your husband all the days of our lives. I take my hands from you, and you take your hands from me, as a symbol and a pledge of our one flesh, dividing into two separate components. I renounce my love and the outpouring of my heart, as a symbol and a pledge of our separating from being one spirit. I take this ring from you, back into my worldly goods, as a symbol and pledge of our permanent divergence.”
Mary repeated likewise, and thrust her delicate wedding ring and diamond engagement ring in John’s direction, her stumbling fingers grasping for the thick gold band he forced towards her.
“Please step forward for the extinguishing of the unity candle,” the pastor droned.
John and Mary stepped forward towards the thick, single-lighted candle on the center of the table. They reached for the individual candles on either side, lit them from the bigger one, and jointly blew out the center flame.
The last thing they would ever do together.
The congregation bowed as the pastor prayed the Prayer of Separation over the newly divorced individuals.
After the prayer, he asked them to face the congregation and pronounced their declaration of divorcement, then moved on to the pronunciation.
“I now pronounce you, Mr. John Smith, and Mrs. Mary Jones. You may all be dismissed.”
The piano music began to throb through the church as John walked out the door on the left side of the church, and Mary exited through the right-hand side.
She departed in her car, and he left in his truck.
Both …free?
The members of the congregation stayed afterwards to vacuum the church and put away the candles.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

BORROWED TIME

The recent hype about the threat of nuclear terrorism is frightening, even nerve-wracking. How many of these tidings should we buy? Who should we believe? Is there enough evidence, or is it just someone’s word over someone else’s?

So many things have happened recently in the Middle East, to give us reason to expect this activity. I quote, “At their facility near Natanz, Iranian scientists earlier this month successfully restarted four centrifuges necessary to produce weapons-grade uranium. Iranian officials blocked international inspector’s access to the site and disabled security cameras set up by the International Atomic Energy Agency 13 years ago when Iran admitted to violated the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.” (Marvin Olasky)

According to Harvard professor, Graham Allison, we’re living on borrowed time. Their opinion: Four years without a terrorist attack? Highly unusual. Something’s to be expected in the next ten years, and it may very well be nuclear.

Allison is right in this sense: we are living on borrowed time. God is lending us this short taste of life, but he is in control of who comes and who goes, and what trouble befalls us here on earth. Our responsibility is to keep our focus upwards, and not worry about the future. God promised not to give us any more than we could handle – and what’s so bad about death for Christians? We end up in Heaven! What are a few hours of suffering on earth, when now we have everything to lose, but everything to gain in Heaven’s glory?

I know some of these predications have earned the vilification of scholars and skeptics, but as Christians, we can understand this development perfectly. Translated into a biblical context, America has primed itself for judgment, and another terrorist attack would provide a wake-up call similar to 9/11. Our responsibility? Trust God, be faithful to His calling, and realize that He never said it would be easy, but He said He would be with us every step of the way.

“He’s got the whole world
In His hands He’s got the whole world
In His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands”

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What if Nobody Did?

I was talking to a good friend one evening, when I raised the subject of the music course I am taking this school year. My sister and I don’t read notes as well as the other students in the class, so we stick with singing the melody rather than the tenor part that more ideally fits our voice range.

“I can hit all the soprano notes we’re supposed to sing, but it sounds fake and it’s hard to do. When we get to the really high notes, I just stop singing,” I told Melody.

When she started laughing, I was confused.

“Wouldn’t that be funny,” she finally explained, “If everybody did the same thing?” I stopped for a minute to take that in, then also began to laugh. She was perfectly right! What if everybody stopped singing when we came to those particular notes? That wouldn’t work at all, for obvious reasons!

This lack of initiative can carry into other aspects of our lives, as we’ve all, I’m sure, experienced first-hand.

While taking a short break for school on day, I happened to walk through our foyer and noticed some scraps of paper lying on the rug.

I ignored them.

When I came down to make lunch later on, the papers were still on the floor.

I proceeded into the kitchen.

At chore-time, the scraps hadn’t moved an inch, but this time I actually looked at them with my full attention. This time, I picked them up and deposited them in the trashcan.

If I didn’t pick them up, it could have very well turned into an acute case of, ‘what if nobody did?’ What if we all just did our own thing, made up our own rules, and expected everybody else to do the work for us?

Minor things like skipping notes while singing in class, or ignoring scraps of paper on the floor don’t have many consequences, not really. But this idea must be translated into a broader scope.
Take for example, things that a good many of us overlook: politics – what if nobody got involved? What if nobody campaigned because everybody felt lazy and comfortable at home, and succumbed to his or her desires? What if nobody stood up against abortion, nobody spoke out to defend marriage?

We have the tendency to expect others to always do the hard work – we don’t want to get involved – we don’t want to do anything except stay within our little comfort zones. We need to start taking initiative – be the leader, if that’s what it comes down to – we must break out of this cycle.

What if nobody did?

We’d be in a sorry mess.

We say, ‘what difference would one person make?’. A lot of difference, actually. What if everybody asked that same question, then quit?

The individuals are what make up the crowd.

We need to get to work.
What if nobody did?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Not Perfect

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” Eccles. 9:10a

I watched my little brother Michael carry a neatly folded stack of laundry up the stairs. His feet dragged, his arms were limp around the bundle, his expression was pathetic – as if he could barely pull himself along. I wondered what could be wrong with him.
While he was upstairs, my other brother, Daniel came to the bottom of the stairs and called for him, telling him that Daddy brought home a surprise for them. I’d never seen a happier face, or someone so light of foot as Michael when he cheerfully bounced his way back down the steps and ran into the kitchen with Daniel, giggling and talking enthusiastically.
It’s funny that we can still be so much that way, even when we’re older. Michael’s three – he doesn’t care about hiding his grudging attitude, we’re older – we do a better job with hiding our attitude over having to do something we don’t want to do, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
If we have to do something, why can’t we give it our best? In everything that we do, we are commanded to “do it as unto the Lord”.
So, we do it grudgingly, right? What a rotten way for us to show our appreciation to the One who gave His life for us!
“Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable” (Chesterfield) – he’s right: as humans living on this earth, nothing we do will be perfect; that’s why we’re commanded to do all things with all our might (that would translate as, “Do the best you can”).In other words, exert yourself, really stretch yourself to do the best job you can – aim at perfection – because it’s the effort that really counts.

Monday, February 6, 2006

No Excuse (On Taking Responsibility)


When things start to go wrong, people seem to have only one natural reaction: find someone to blame.[1]
We do this all the time. We make excuses, we place the blame on others, and we are loath to admit we’re wrong; we don’t take responsibility for our own free actions.

If Johnny drops a vase while he’s searching for his baseball mitt, what happens when his mother confronts him?
“Well Mary’s the one who told me to look for it!”
Does this change the fact that Johnny broke a vase?

It’s shameful that we must be so cowardly in confessing our mistakes. If we make a mistake, we need to:
1. Admit it
2. Vow to make a change
3. Start working towards our goal.
It’s nobody else’s fault if you cannot accept the consequences of your own actions.

Take for an [extreme] example the drunk who is living in sin. Either he can turn around and point his finger at the parents who should have told him better, the wife who never cared about him, his miserable financial state...or he can be honest and admit that he reacted wrongly to the circumstances that he says ‘drove’ him to make his bitter decisions. In other words, he can be honest and say that the fault is all his own.

When I was young and thoughtless, I could have benefited from this article. I remember sitting at the kitchen bar once, listening to my mom give a lecture to my younger sister. In my insensitive and unsympathetic heart, I guess I must have thought something about it was funny.
I started to laugh.
When my mom reprimanded me, I pointed to the empty grape stalk lying on my plate.
“I wasn’t laughing about Beth! I was laughing at that grape thing because it looks like a spider,” I said, and proceeded to show her the ways in which it resembled a spider.

The excuses we offer up these days aren’t always as rotten, lousy and so obviously untrue as what I said as a kid, but they are still rotten, lousy excuses whether we call them that or not.

Now that I’m older and still just about as thoughtless as before (just better at hiding it), this article is still something I need to read. Is it really because of my busy school schedule that I sometimes forget to read my Bible? Believe me, I could make room for it if I really tried.
“But Mom gives me too many school assignments!”
Nice attempt, but I really doubt that’s the case. It’s been proven that we make room for the things we really want to do. We do – you must admit it! For example, I have no problem memorizing facts about my favorite singing groups, tracing their successes, tours, and album releases. In fact, it’s a lot of fun.
So why can’t I take the same time I’d spend doing that and instead use it to memorize Bible passages, trace Jesus’ ministry, miracles, and all the wonderful promises contained in the Old and New Testament?

In the end, we’re going to be held accountable for every thought, word, and deed we’ve ever had, said, and did, and there’s going to be nobody standing behind us to direct our fingers towards.

Don’t you think we need to grow up a little, and admit where we’re wrong instead of always shifting the blame?

“You’re running out of excuses
And you’re gonna have to face the day
~
No more lies, and no manipulation
No more avoiding all responsibility
Well you know it’s time that we change the situation
‘Cause we all want to sleep tonight”*

*Paul Colman Trio
[1] Based on quote by Nicolae Carpathia.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Mission Statement

We, as the body of Christ, are given the responsibility of evangelizing to the lost. It is also our responsibility to be worthy examples of the way true children of God are to conduct themselves.
Everything we do must also be aligned with and tested by the truth of His infallible Word.
It is then our duty to be Christ-like in every way – by reflecting His teachings in and through our thoughts, words, and deeds. All areas of our lives should indicate the forgiveness and grace He and He alone has imparted to us through His great sacrifice on the cross.

Finally, as Christians we must embrace these responsibilities happily and wholeheartedly, so as to make the lost around us aware of the ultimate joy that can only be obtained through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Summary:

Our Job as Christians: Being effective witnesses of our namesake, and putting ourselves in positions that would enable us to further facilitate the message of God’s love and forgiveness to those who are lost. It is also our duty to read God’s Word on a daily basis and strive to live by His laws alone and not by the laws of men.

Our Decisions as Christians: All future decisions we as Christians must make should be tested and made valid by God’s Word only. If the choices cross any spiritual boundaries, they should only be discarded.

Our Reward as Christians: We receive the fruits of our labor through the reward of living under God’s blessing.

Knowledge or Love?

Why should I always try to be the best?
To be the most smart – the most well-dressed
To know everything from present and past
So as to answer every question asked.

What makes me think I’m any better than you?
We’re all just humans, so we mustn’t confuse
Knowledge with love, and possessions with grace
We’re all just humans with the trials we face

I’m just a “normal” person – so please excuse
Me, if I don’t know such ‘important’ news
Such as why rhythm differs from tempo
And how many instruments are in a typical concerto

Who the Sino-Japanese war was between
And what on earth synthesis means,
Who painted ‘Still Life With Onions’
(Or that a sequence of three nucleotides is a ‘codon’)

Knowledge is a gift, a wonderful thing
But if it is placed over love, it is nothing
It is like a tinkling cymbal, a sounding glass
Who cares if you get to the head of your class?

If you don’t love your neighbor, and you love yourself more
You’re the only person you’ll have to answer for
So while you’re in school, strive to learn all you can
But never place its value over loving your fellowmen.

Pride is ugly, and intelligence, a joke
If we think it makes us better than any other folks.
Thank God for our minds, that can store information
But thank God for our hearts that can love His creations

Point . Click . Message Forwarded (Or, The Trap of Chain Emailing)

(NOTE: This article is not in its entirety yet.)
Part 2.
I feel bad for anyone who falls victim to the annoying habit of chain emailing. What is it they say? Oh yes...if you read some long and sentimental message, make a wish, count to some random number, then quickly forward the same message to 15 of your friends your wish will come true within 24 hours. Does anybody really believe that? If you’re one of those people who passes those chain emails along…do you really think the person receiving it will read it? That’s only one part of it. Another issue to consider is: should Christian people really be passing around that nonsense about making wishes and having wishes come true?
I think that one of my biggest pet peeves in life is getting a chain email. Let's be honest with ourselves… they're just really really long, they don't make any sense, and do you honestly think that if you send it to 15 friends as quickly as possible, your wish will come true?
I mean, do you really? Really, really?
I didn’t think so.I’m sure anybody who writes emails checks their email with expectations of receiving a personal reply. It’s disappointing to find about fifteen forwards and nothing personal at all.

Unaware (Love Takes on a New Meaning)

(NOTE: I plan to re-write this story within time, but I thought I would go ahead and post it how it is for now)
Karen and I emailed for years but never knew what the other looked like. We agreed not to exchange pictures, but to one day disclose our locations and meet for the first time. Once we agreed to describe ourselves, using general terms: height and age, mostly. Karen’s description was, “4’2”, 73 years old, and 680 pounds”. It showed her great sense of humor, but also got me wondering. I was too polite to ask, however.

We were great ones for discussions. We felt strongly about many of the same issues, loved reading biographies and new fiction, both grew up in a family of four girls, had the same schooling education, plus two years of college. But that’s where the similarities ended.

Many of our discussions were based off of Karen’s true stories of working as a missionary to foreign shores. I grew up having a sheltered life, smack in the middle of a bustling city. She spoke of dangerous adventures, and the quaint people she encountered. I spoke of my newspaper route, and of our irascible landlady. Although we each had funny and exciting stories to tell, hers were incredibly entertaining.

Finally, the great day came. Karen asked me to reveal my location, and said that she thought she finally had the money to afford a short vacation. I was thrilled! The days of preparation were busy and excited ones as I cleaned the house and prepared all manner of wonderful meals in honor of my important guest. I laid out photo albums for us to look through, remembering that she promised to bring hers as well. I couldn’t restrain my fast-beating heart from jumping a time or two, just speculating about the evening ahead.

Half an hour before she was supposed to arrive, I realized that I had no centerpiece for my dining room table. I also realized that I had just enough time to slip over five blocks to a local florist shop and buy a fresh arrangement.

The trip there took longer than I thought. I realized I would have been better off walking because the traffic was unusually congested for a Friday afternoon. I had to park one block over from the shop upon arrival, which also disgusted me.

I had fifteen minutes to go.

The inside of the florist shop was always cool and fragrant, but this time I was not there for pleasure – I was in a hurry. I waited impatiently for the sales clerk to finish with the woman in line ahead of me. I sighed and tapped my foot. I leaned on the counter and tried to look impatient. The woman turned,

“I’ll just be a minute,” she assured, in a slow drawl that annoyed me. She turned back to the clerk. “How about purple – how would that look with these colors?”

“I don’t have a minute!” I shot back. “I am going to be really late! You should decide what you’re getting before you come in here.” I sighed again, even louder.

She smiled at me, but said nothing for a moment. “I’m sorry,” she said finally. “But I came in here to see what I wanted because I wasn’t sure.”

“Don’t you understand?” I almost shouted. “I AM IN A BIG HURRY!”
The woman stepped back slightly to let me pass her. “You may go ahead. I’m sorry for slowing you down.” She fingered a yellow petal gingerly and kept her head down as she waited for me to make my hurried selection. I didn’t have enough time to feel remorse.
I slammed my money down on the counter and waited for the clerk to return my change.
Finally, with the arrangement in hand, I turned to leave.

“I apologize,” the woman said again.
“No need. I’ll be late anyway, but thanks.” I tried to keep my tone cool and sarcastic.
She offered no reply.

The traffic was so intense that it only succeeded in heightening my rage. I blared my horn; I skipped lanes, doing everything in my power to reach my home in time. My guest was sure to think that I had a problem with meeting deadlines.

I was waiting and waiting to pull into the second turning lane, when the car from behind me jumped into the spot I had in mind. I leaned on my horn, and rolled down my passenger window. It was that same woman from the florists with that same dumb face.
“I was about to pull in there!” I shouted.

“I’m sorry,” she called back. “I can hold back to let you turn first,” she offered.
“You shouldn’t be jumping lanes like that, right in front of other people.” I rolled up my window to cut off her response.

Finally, I reached my street and flicked on the turn signal. I sat, pulsing the gas pedal, waiting for the stream of traffic to quit flowing. Just then, that same car zipped into the road in front of me. I sped up to cut her off – I had enough of this woman, really, I did. She jerked her wheel to avoid hitting me, and hit a parking meter instead. I sped on ahead, not caring. I parked in front of my house and ran to the door, grumbling when I tried the wrong key.

Once inside, the air-conditioning worked its wonders on my mood, while I arranged my bouquet atop the dining room table.

I heard a knock on the door and smiled to myself. My heart pounded nervously as I walked to the front door. I rehearsed my words as I envisioned us wrapping our arms around each other.
“Oh Karen, it’s so wonderful to meet you after all these years! Isn’t it exciting? Your dress is so lovely – come on inside and have a seat. Dinner’s almost ready.”

I turned the doorknob and prepared to fall into a warm embrace. I opened the door fully and opened my mouth. Then shut it. Then opened it again.

“Susan?” The woman spoke quietly.
The woman from the florist shop. The woman behind me in traffic. The woman I ran off the road.Karen.

Point . Click . Message Sent (Or, The Lost Art of Letter-Writing)

Part 1.
With all of its conveniences, I think that there are many downsides to email. Besides being a fast, great way to communicate, and besides the fact that it doesn’t cost 37 cents per message, the negative aspects are still something to consider.
In the old days, letter writing was an art. Because it was somewhat expensive, it was considered special, and people took extra time writing the letters, asking clear questions, giving news and details in an interesting, yet condensed fashion. Through using email, people are more prone to write short, meaningless notes without any sort of personal touch to them. A lone email does not show time set apart to write to a special friend, not really. Especially when most emails begin with something like, “Sorry I haven’t written for so long – things have been really crazy [busy] around here!”
Through writing a letter, people not only appreciate the time designated to write exclusively to them, but they also appreciate the length and sincerity of a message written over a longer period.
Emailing doesn’t take long at all, so people grow to expect swift correspondence. The person replying to the email understands this, but doesn’t have time to write anything interesting in such a small amount of time, so they quickly respond with a short, insignificant email and disappoint whoever sent the original message.
Either we need to start writing letters or we need to take more time with our emails. We need to consider the interests of other people ahead of the things we’re interested in. We need to make them feel important by writing them something worthwhile – ask anybody – I am sure they would unanimously agree that they would rather trade in all the ‘quick notes’ saying how busy someone is, to have two or three longer, more personal, interesting letters that actually progress a relationship.
These hasty habits inevitably make email a great breeding ground for arguments to begin. To put it plainly, people just type too fast to consider the things they are writing. Misunderstandings are swift to surface through little-thought-over comments or not properly phrased ideas. On the other hand, take letter writing: literally days stand between each message, thus giving the ones communicating time to ‘cool off’ and really think about the proper response.
I am not trying to say that we should stop emailing each other, or even that email has no redeeming qualities. I am just concerned about the potential danger it poses for our friendships. Are all of our modern ways of communication depreciating our friendships?
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? So, when someone knows they can type an email, IM, or just pick up the phone to call someone, it no longer becomes a treat, the relationship is no longer special – because it’s easy. There’s nothing exciting or worthwhile about it.Unfortunately, I’m not writing to offer a solution –I am only writing to present this problem, and sound the alarm that friendships are not what they used to be. What needs to be done? What can we do to help? What sorts of solutions can we consider?

Life Prayer

“Let us pray, let us pray
Everywhere in every way
Every moment of the day
It is the right time.
For the Father above
Is listening with love
And He wants to answer us
So let us pray.”*


The other day I was having devotions in my room. I finished copying out a hymn text, and began to write in my prayer journal, when just then, from downstairs, my mom called me to come down to do our morning school – memorization and recitation with the kids. I quickly finished the line I was writing, slammed my notebook shut, and ran downstairs. I sort of threw myself around as I was getting seated – just to let everybody know that I was being inconvenienced. I joined the recitations grudgingly, and pretty much made it plain that I would rather be elsewhere.

In the middle of my bad attitude, I was suddenly hit with a convicting thought: what on earth did I mean by stopping my devotions halfway through, coming downstairs, and living like the things I was learning and praying for had no bearing on my life? What gave me the entitlement to pray great and fancy words to God, then come downstairs and act like I hated my family? What made me think I could pretend that Mom helping us out with school was an inconvenience? It would serve me right if I had to learn Latin, Catechism, and different chapters of the Bible by myself! Thankfully, God allows us grace, and not everything we deserve.
But in what manner should I have responded?

I believe that all of our lives reflect as individual prayers to God. Just because I got stopped halfway through my vocal one, did not mean that I needed to go down to live apart from the things I prayed for only seconds earlier. I should have continued my prayer towards God by pleasing him through a good attitude and a loving spirit.

Did I just say a good attitude and a loving spirit? How often do we as teenagers try to have a good attitude and a loving spirit? Don’t we just tend to assume, “All teenagers have a bad attitude and are self-centered, therefore, if I act that way, nobody is going to blame me.”? So, who set that standard, and why do Christian kids think they are entitled to behave the same way?

During the teen years we have much more time for friendships than we will when we are grown. This is the time that we build those relationships to last us for after we’re adults. Since we are able to be in contact with so many people, what sort of testimony are we showing to them? Are we showing them a life that is set apart – and full of joy – or an ordinary teenager who is disrespectful and self-centered like the rest?

Live your prayer today, and make it acceptable to God. Let Him know you’re thankful for your family, by treating them with love and respect. Let Him know that you love Him, by loving those he put closest to you.

“Just because we say the word, ‘Amen’
Doesn’t mean this conversation needs to end”*

*Steven Curtis Chapman – Let Us Pray
(From the album, “Signs of Life”)

One More Time Around

I’m going to try to make this blog a little more worthwhile than the previous one. Hopefully I’ll be posting articles I’ve written, some music reviews, devotionals, and other opinion columns. We’ll see how it goes.

Until then,

Be FREE!
Jenn
John 8:33 & 36