Friday, December 23, 2016

Crossing the Divide

Seventy-nine years ago this week, the 1.5 mile Lincoln Tunnel under the Hudson River was opened to traffic. Creative engineers constructed a safe path for travel under previously unpassable waters. For the first time, cars could drive from New Jersey and end up in New York City.  

This bit of trivia caused me to reflect on other events we are experiencing here at the year’s end that mark a beginning and an ending and sometimes cause us to tunnel through to the other side.

 Most folks will agree that the national election of 2016 was one of the most divisive in recent memory. And many will also agree they are very thankful that the election is over. As our country moves forward under new leadership many policies will end and new ones will be put in place. There will still be rough and tumble politics, but the uncertainty of who will lead the country for the next four years has been put to rest. 

Did you notice that today we had one more minute of daylight than we did yesterday? The Winter Solstice was the divide between fall and winter and the shortest day of the year. Everyday has 24 hours, but from June to December in the northern hemisphere the daylight hours grow shorter and the nighttime hours longer. These days can be tough for those who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. For all of us, longer hours of daylight will be a welcome relief signaling the arrival of spring.

Christmas marks the greatest divide in human history. God broke into history by sending Jesus into the world. No longer was God a distant creator but a flesh and blood Savior who bore the sins and hope of all mankind. The great divide between man and God was broken down. Light and love replaced death and darkness for all who put their faith in Him. May you find time this Christmas season to open your hearts to the light of God through his son, Jesus Christ.

“The people living in darkness have seen a great light; 
on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”  Matthew 4:16

On New Year’s Eve we will cross the divide from 2016 to 2017. Out with the old and in with the new. For some it is a lonely time as they remember the loss of family members and friends during the past year. I’m always glad for a fresh start and a new beginning. I resolve to make the next year better than the last—only to find my expectations don’t quite measure up to reality. My prayer is not just for a Happy New Year, but for a healthy, hopeful, and holy 365 days for each one of you.

Thank you for following my blog. See you in 2017.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Let There Be Peace on Earth

Many Christmas songs call for “Peace on Earth.”  As much as we would like a peaceful world, it’s easy to feel helpless when we see so much war and turmoil all over our planet. Maybe we need to look within to find peace in our own lives before we can impact our world.

In 2015 my friend, Tanya Hall, and I collaborated in writing 28 Advent devotionals for our church members to use during the weeks leading to Christmas. We used a stanza from the beloved Christmas song O Holy Night for each devotional. I’m pleased to post one of Tanya’s devotions where she shares her thoughts on the true source of peace.

O Holy Night

“His law is love and His gospel is peace.”

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

What does peace mean to you? Is it the absence of conflict?  Is it really possible to experience peace in the midst of great conflict? According to the Bible, the peace given by God transcends all understanding. In other words–it doesn’t make sense. But we know God loves to work in the impossible. Many years ago I struggled with a situation that I could not move past. I was stuck. For seven years my mind and emotions were tormented. I could not enjoy the present, because I was stuck in the past. God did a healing in me that only He could do. He gave me a peace that transcended my understanding. I knew it was from God because nothing else I tried worked. His peace wrapped around my mind and emotions until I could rest from the battle.

God’s peace doesn’t make sense to the world yet it’s the world’s greatest need. Everybody is looking for peace. We all seek peace on earth, but it’s only in God that true peace resides. HE IS PEACE. He longs to fill you with His peace which abides in spite of earthy conflict. It truly transcends ALL understanding. The peace the angels proclaimed at the birth of Jesus has yet to be realized. It didn’t make sense to the chaotic world of Jesus’ time and makes no sense to our world today.

If you are lacking true peace, turn to Him. It’s the best gift you can give yourself.

 Lord,You are my peace in this chaotic world. Amen.

Wise men and women still seek Him.  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Time for Everything

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens …” 
Ecclesiastes 3:1

The writer of those words in the Bible goes on to explain the joyful and tough events that can occur in the journey of a lifetime. Our Thanksgiving week 2016 was filled with so many life events, I experienced mental and emotional whiplash before the end.

A time to mourn:  One week before Thanksgiving, I boarded a plane to head to Western New York State to attend my brother’s funeral. I visited my brother, Jack, in May and knew it would be my last time with him. His passing was not a surprise and I am glad he is not suffering anymore. It was good to spend time with his extended family and cousins I hadn’t seen in years. 

A time to rejoice:  My annual check in with the liver transplant doctors was very encouraging. After 18 plus years, my liver is functioning better than anyone expected. I remain amazed at my second chance to enjoy a longer and productive life.

A time to feast:  It was a day to enjoy family members and a table-full of turkey and all the fixings with enough leftovers for the weekend. It always amazes me that women have energy after all the cooking and clean up to hit the Black Friday sales on Friday.  I did my shopping online. 

A time to celebrate:  My late bloomer husband’s birthday is always on Thanksgiving weekend. He received birthday cards and gifts and spent enough time with several of our children to make him not mind turning a year older. I’m very thankful that he continues in good health and can enjoy these later years of life.

A time to laugh: In the next few weeks our fourth great grandchild will be born.  Charles’ grandson Jesse and his wife will welcome their first boy after three girls. We laughed over some of the possible names they are considering for the little fella. I think they were teasing us and already have a great name picked out. 

A time to dance: My granddaughter said “Yes to the Dress” on Thanksgiving Day. Her family lives in Toronto, Canada and since they don’t celebrate the US holiday, they went wedding dress shopping. She’s been looking for months and finally found the right one. July 1, 2017 and that first dance seems more real than before.

What a week—A funeral, a potential wedding, a birthday, a future great grandson, a healthy report, and a national holiday. I am so thankful for the good health and the ability to participate in all these life changing events. 

The writer of Ecclesiastes sums it up in 3:11-12:

“He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.”

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Swinging On A Star

“Would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar …”

“Swinging on a Star,” by Jimmy Van Heusen & Johnny Burke was introduced by Bing Crosby the year I was born.  World War II was winding down and people were looking for lighter music and hope. That song was propelled to the top of the charts for much of 1944.

Maybe that’s why I’ve always loved to observe the stars and other celestial bodies.  As a child I was fascinated by the constellations and the Greek and Roman mythological figures that identified each one.

As I grew older, I was amazed by how the stars spoke of God’s hand in creation.
Psalm 8:1&3

“O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
    The moon and the stars, which You have ordained …”

My late bloomer husband, Charles enjoys going outside on a clear night to marvel at the expanse of the heavens and feel the presence of God. He often wishes we lived away from the city lights so he could have a clear and unobstructed view.

November 2016 will be filled with celestial events, with the most enjoyable being the supermoon that will appear on November 14. As the moon’s orbit brings it into close proximity to the earth, it will appear 14% larger and 30% brighter than a regular moon. The supermoon will be the largest it’s been since 1948–68 years ago–and will not make another close up visit until 2034. With clear skies promised here in Georgia, Monday should be a good night for moon watching.

As the moon fades and once again becomes a crescent in the sky, it will appear in close proximity to Jupiter on November 25. That sighting will probably require a telescope.

When you tire of watching the skies, you can tune into the National Geographic six-part fictional television mini-series about an astronaut crew on a mission to Mars, the red planet.  Or maybe watch the Comedian John Stewart pack for his outer space trip.  He told People magazine in August of this year that if Donald Trump is elected President, “I would consider getting in a rocket and going to another planet because clearly this planet’s gone bonkers.” Maybe he’d like to join singer, Cher, who has declared her intention to go to Jupiter.

When I look up into the heavens, I know without a doubt that God has it all under his control. I hope you will join me in resting in that assurance.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Good News for Dry Bones

“New Dinosaur Discovered in Australia”   “Huge 13,000 Year Old Mastodon Found in a Michigan Field”   “Lucky Beachcomber Finds Giant Tooth from Huge Prehistoric Shark” 

These sensational headlines were posted online this past week. A nice change from all the political controversy about our “Really Big” election just two weeks away!  Here are the interesting details.

Savannasaurus is the name given to the skeletal bones of this monstrous plant eater that measured one-half the length of a basketball court. It is speculated that this creature lived 95 million years ago and migrated from South America before the continental drift separated Australia from the prehistoric land mass.

The mastodon unearthed in Michigan was an extinct relative of the elephant. Around 65% of the skeleton was found in the State’s thumb region on a stream bank.  Researchers will carbon date the bones and try to determine if humans intervened in the animal’s death.  I’m reminded of that proverbial bit of wisdom. “How do you eat an elephant?”  Answer – “One bite at a time.”

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina made news when a lucky tourist strolling through the waves found a giant shark tooth measuring five inches long.  Officials determined the tooth was from Megalodon, a 60 foot shark that became extinct 2.6 million years ago.  It appears that Jaws wasn’t so scary after all. 

These ancient skeletal remains make the human skeletons on display during this Halloween week look pretty pitiful. They remind me of the insignificance of man compared to the magnitude of God’s creation. Will people in the distant future, be digging through our civilization, trying to determine why we no longer exist?

What could be unearthed—the foundations of once magnificent skyscrapers; portions of tumbled down bronze statues that proclaimed freedom; rusted girders from bridge spans that crossed mighty rivers; granite remains of famous presidents fallen from mountains and monuments.

In the Bible, God set the prophet Ezekiel down in a desolate valley of the dry bones and asked him, “Son of man. Can these bones live?” Ezekiel 37:3

The Good News is that God wasn’t done with Israel in Ezekiel’s day, and I don’t believe He is done with us today, if we will follow His ways.

Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.  And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:4-6

Monday, October 10, 2016

Escape to the Mountains

Every October like a siren call, the small cities and towns of North Georgia beckon me to explore their beauty and bounty. It doesn’t take much convincing for me to escape the traffic and congestion of metro Atlanta and head north to see the changing leaves and breathe the refreshing air of Fall.

Conference Center
In late September, I visited the rolling hills of Rome, Georgia and the Chick-Fil-A WinShape Conference Center in the Appalachian Piedmont. The conference center on the campus of Berry College is located on the former dairy farm of the college. The dairy was constructed in the early 1900’s to teach farming skills to the isolated students of the region.  Each barn was built to resemble the architecture of the French countryside. Careful restoration converted the brick and tile dairy barns into meeting places and hotel-type accommodations. I was raised in cow country in Northern New York, but I wasn’t brought up in a barn nor did I ever spend the night in one. But I finally got to do just that and what a delight it was.

The purpose for our visit was to attend a writer’s workshop that focused on writing narrative non-fiction. Both Charles and I received great instruction and ideas for enriching his life story, Chasing a Whirlwind.  We came home with enthusiasm ready to tackle the rest of his book. The beauty and serenity of that place will stick with us for months to come.

On my next venture into the mountains I headed with my friend, Libby, to the foothills of the Smoky Mountains and the quaint town of Blue Ridge, Georgia. We ate a delicious lunch before checking out all the gift and boutique shops lining Main Street.  Stores with their colorful fall—and Christmas—decorations were a reminder that the holidays are just around the corner.  We visited a roadside produce stand and were amazed at the beautiful displays of pumpkins, gourds, and flowers.  I never knew pumpkins came in so many shapes, colors, and varieties. 

We couldn’t resist stopping at the Panorama Farm Market in Ellijay before hitting the Interstate and heading home. A cold drink of complimentary apple cider and a sample of a variety of fresh apples and deserts was a perfect way to end our day at the “Apple Capital of Georgia.”

The Psalmist best expressed the spiritual refreshment that comes from a visit to the mountains.

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”  Psalm 121:1-2 (KJV)

I hope that each of you will experience a mountain moment during this beautiful season of the year.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Grandparents as Mentors - Part 2

Grandparents have a wealth of wisdom that can positively impact their families and others in their communities. My last blog post covered how grandparents can work with their home
schooled grandchildren. This week’s focus is on grandparents and other seniors who want to make a difference in their communities.

For several years our church has provided a ministry to our local elementary school to help provide school supplies for needy students and teacher breakfasts on the first day back at school. This long-standing relationship opened the door for church members to participate in a new mentoring program for at risk students. The school selects the students they feel would benefit, parents give their permission, and the school matches a volunteer to work with a child on a weekly basis. The child leaves the classroom and interacts with the mentor in the media library for 30 minutes at least once a week. (In the stories below, the names of the two grandparent mentors have been changed to protect the privacy of all the parties.)
I asked John to tell me about his experience as a mentor to a 5th grade boy. He expected to help him with math or English, but the counselor explained that this boy just needed a friend. As they met together, John worked to break down the age barrier so they could become friends.  He thought for sure that an eleven year old boy would be interested in sports.  He was surprised to discover than his mentee wanted to talk about politics. John was a history and political junkie, so the two clicked right away. At the end of the school year luncheon for the mentors, John’s assigned student gave him a big bear hug and said he hoped he could come to his new school and continue to be his friend.

Mary’s experience as a mentor was with two 5th grade girls at first, but one dropped out of the program. Mary and her remaining student spent time talking about her experiences at school.  She learned her student was an artist, so Mary brought her a paper tablet for drawing. During other sessions they played UNO or worked on Mary’s electronic tablet playing puzzles and games.  As they met and talked, they bonded making a memorable experience for both parties in spite of the wide age difference.

Seeds planted tend to bear fruit in due time, and the contribution of these grandparents is yet to be fully realized.  No matter how old we are there are ways for our older generation to make a difference in our communities. 

I would love to hear from you if you know of other ways seniors can positively influence the younger generation. Enter your comment below and please add your name at the end of your comments. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Grandparents as Mentors - Part 1

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter officially designated the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents’ Day. This year’s celebration will be held on September 11, 2016—also the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. National Grandparents’ Day is a secular holiday celebrated to honor grandparents for their contribution to our lives, and to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children.

Because of instant communication and easier travel, today’s Grandparents have many opportunities to influence the lives of their grandchildren. One of the most beneficial is to encourage their education. Those with financial means might choose to contribute to a 529 Savings Plan that will provide funds when college time rolls around. Another worthwhile way to support their education efforts is to encourage and support those grandchildren who are home schooled.

My guest blogger this week is Jennifer Henn. She desires to see home school mothers flourish. Sharing from fifteen years of experience, she seeks to support others through the challenges of schooling at home. Jennifer speaks to home school groups large and small. Her true passion is fulfilled when the mom who feels alone or defeated is encouraged.
Even though her life is full being a wife and mother of teens, she makes time to escape with a book, coffee, and chocolate.  Welcome, Jennifer. 

5 Ways Grandparents Can Help to Home School
The concept of homeschooling can be hard for grandparents to understand since it isn’t something they grew up with. Even if they can’t understand why their adult child decided to homeschool, they have an abundance of patience and experience to share with the next generation. Homeschooling is rewarding, but at times, a daunting task. These are some ways you can help.

Be a Positive EncouragerYour children could be struggling with the decision themselves, but need to homeschool because of a bullying or learning problem. Let them know you support their decision to homeschool. Encouraging words will go a long way to strengthen their confidence.

Financial Help:  Homeschool is less expensive than private school, but still isn’t cheap.  Consider buying a year’s pass to the zoo, an amusement park or museum. Some grandparents help by paying for music lessons or sporting activities. If that’s too much, consider purchasing school supplies or fast food gift cards for a treat when the kids are on an outing.

Tutoring:   Brush up on your skills and teach a new math concept, conduct a science experiment, or complete a building project together. Read aloud a favorite book from your childhood or one of their favorites.  Out of town grandparents can Skype, use Face Time, or text to be part of the learning environment.

Field Trip:   Here’s the chance to share your passion like your favorite museum or hiking trail. Taking the kids on a factory tour while mom stays home would be a nice break for her. Need an idea? Start your search for field trip ideas on the internet.

Baby Sit:   If you live nearby, offer to take your preschool grandchild for a morning or two. Preschoolers are full of love and life, but pose a challenge when older kids need a one-on-one lesson.

Grandparents enjoy time with their grand kids and have a role in the family’s activities. More than just spending time and helping out, they’re building a memory, and everyone is blessed.
Psalm 127:3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. (NIV)

Grandparents as Mentors – Part 2 will focus on how seniors can work as mentors within the public school system.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Writing Inspiration

After spending the weekend at a local writers’ conference and being inspired by all the great speakers and conference leaders, I am thinking more about what inspired me to write in the first place.  In 2005 when I started this journey, I was “green as a gourd” about what it took to become a published author.  I was fairly good at putting words on paper in a cohesive sentence and paragraph, but that’s where my aptitude ended.  I had no idea about the hard work involved in writing, critiquing, editing, and publishing a story or book.  Approaching an agent or editor with a book proposal was a very scary proposition.  Every conference I’ve attended has increased my knowledge and confidence, but it is still a daunting task.  Even the world of self-publishing is fraught with difficult decisions.  Who can you trust to transform your manuscript “baby” into an appealing book that people will want to read? 

Authors who wrote and published books years before my time also faced many challenges.  The Diary of Anne Frank was rejected 15 times before it was published.  Author, Margaret Mitchell, received 38 “no thank you letters” before someone took a chance on Gone with the Wind.  Beatrix Potter’s story The Tale of Peter Rabbit first debuted as a self-published work since no traditional children’s book editors were interested.

My love for the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder prompted me to read a book about her publishing journey for the Little House on the Prairie series. It surprised me to learn that her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, edited and rewrote large portions of her stories.  The Little House books were written around a deliberate cohesive theme to encourage people during the years of the Great Depression. They promoted the theme of rugged individualism and survival in opposition to government dependency and Roosevelt’s New Deal. I have a personal connection to Laura’s second book, Farmer Boy, about her husband, Almanzo, who was born in my home town of Malone, New York. Life in that farming community hadn’t changed a lot by the time I came along. A few years back, I visited the Wilder’s restored house and barns so vividly described in that book.

Another of my writing inspirations was Eugenia Price, who authored numerous historical novels about the Old South.  I fell in love with her writing when I first moved to Georgia. After her conversion to Christianity she had a new purpose in telling the stories of the strong faith of Georgia’s earliest settlers.  Her first three books–The Beloved Invader, New Moon Rising, and Lighthouse–led me on a journey to St. Simon’s Island off the Georgia coast. Christ’s Church was the setting for her Georgia Trilogy and a beautiful, inspiring place to visit.

Writing an historical novel would be a dream of mine, but I think at this point in my life an unrealistic goal. For now, I am sticking with non-fiction. Charles and I are working hard on completing his life story—Chasing a Whirlwind—that will be a bookend to my memoir, Born Three Times.

Inspiration is defined as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”  I believe inspiration is a gift from God, and I am thankful for those writers who have gone before me and inspired me to use my gift to write.  What inspires you and how are you using your creative gifts?  Please post a comment and share it with me.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Time for Temple Maintenance

The closing of a hardware store and a drugstore caught my attention while I was stuck in traffic.  Already the buildings had fallen into disrepair.  It made me sad to think about the no longer used stores and the employees who lost their jobs.  Hopefully, other businesses will move in and restore the buildings to their former glory.

Those stores are not the only thing falling apart lately. I could add my name to the list. This past year has not been kind to my body. Last August a long time pain in my hips and legs became more acute. With too much to do and too many places to go, I kept hoping it would get better on its own. By the holidays I was using a cane and at times a wheelchair to get around. I spent a lot of time in my recliner with a heat pack on the affected areas. Being bored and watching too much TV led to a dangerous addiction—snacking. 

By the time I saw the orthopedic doctor in January, I needed shots and steroid epidural injections to calm the pain. Steroids are not kind to my body and one of the major side effects is immediate weight gain. Then I was off to physical therapy for four months before I could really walk again. No physical exercise and a year of poor eating habits and I was shabby-chic—looking old and worn around the edges.

My late bloomer husband is a fitness nut and he kept encouraging me to get moving again. Long walks made my leg hurt again, so I decided to take the suggestion of my physical therapist and get a recumbent bike. Those black and steel exercise machines at fitness centers really turn me off.  They remind me of medieval torture chambers, but I decided a recumbent bike was more user friendly. After much research, I opened my wallet and bought a bike. My daily rides have gone well so far with no bad side effects. Since the control panel looks like a black metal face and since it blows air to help keep me cool, I’ve decided to name my new friend “Darth Vadorette.”

I knew I still needed to do something about my eating habits. Exercise wouldn’t do the job alone. I decided to take the Bible verse seriously on the subject of temple maintenance.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I need to feel better so that I can do those things that God calls me to do and glorify Him. Lack of energy makes me sluggish and tight fitting clothes make me want to stay home instead of interacting with others. So I bit the bullet and joined Weight Watchers. It has been a rude awakening to discover how out-of-control my eating has become. It will be a long but very worthwhile process. The new Smart Point online plan and an easy to navigate Smart Phone App make keeping up with my food intake easier than ever. I think I can do this long term and achieve my goal.

As senior adults we can go into a long decline, or we can do our best to get back into the action.  Darth Vadorette and I are on a mission to pedal together as far as we can.  I hope to see you on the road to better health.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Don't Take Church for Granted

Did you go to church Sunday?  Did you take time to pray today? The freedom to engage in those two activities is often taken for granted. But for those believers in China and Russia, it’s really risky behavior. Recent newspaper and magazine articles tell of religious crackdowns in these two Communist countries that are as severe as in the days of Stalin and Mao. 

According to the Christian Post newspaper in a July 16 article by Stoyan Zaimov, Chinese students in the Guizan Province are being told to stop going to church or be banned from going to college. Parents are forbidden from taking their children to church or the students will not be allowed to take college entrance exams or be admitted to the military. The excuse is that children under 18 should not be subjected to brainwashing.

In other areas of China, churches are ordered to remove outside crosses or they are torn down by authorities. House churches are under strict scrutiny and forced to turn over all tithes and offerings to the government. Church pastors and members who protest this unfair treatment are subject to arrest. 

A new law went into effect in Russia on July 20, 2016 that prohibits evangelizing outside of a recognized and government authorized church. Severe limits have been placed on preaching and teaching the Gospel. This includes activities in homes and online. This report written in Christianity Today by Kate Shellnutt explains that Russian nationalistic identity is tied to the Russian Orthodox Church and that those outside the established church who engage in missionary work will be severely punished. 

For ten years my daughter-in-law’s parents, Charles & Phyllis Hardie, served as missionaries in Novosibirsk, Russia. They entered Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. That window of opportunity allowed them to preach and spread the Gospel to many who might never have heard.  They encountered all kinds of opposition from the Russian Orthodox Church. Now that the doors are closing again to evangelical Christianity, I pray that the seeds they planted will continue to grow and flourish.

Why are totalitarian regimes threatened by Christianity?  I can think of several reasons.
  1. Christianity preaches a gospel of freedom.  Freedom from sin and freedom of conscience proclaims that the individual should not be controlled by the State.
  2. Christians believe in the supremacy of God and Jesus and obedience to God and Jesus as their ultimate authority and not the government.
  3. Christians do, however, believe that civil allegiance is owed to the State and that Christians should pray for their leaders.
  4. Communist controlled societies are atheistic and do not believe in the existence of God and Christianity’s belief in God is a threat to their disbelief.

Many Bible verses talk about Christian persecution and how Christians are to bear up in times of distress.  1 Peter 3:16 “Keep a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Theologian William Barclay said “Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.”

Pray for Christians who are being persecuted in Russia and China and for those whose lives are in danger at the hands of ISIS and other evil groups. And be willing to take a stand against those who would place limitations upon the spread of the Gospel here in America.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Helping Hand

Happy 75th birthday to United Service Organizations—better known as the USO. President Roosevelt encouraged the creation of this private entity at the beginning of World War II in 1941. The stated purpose was to support our troops overseas by building clubs that would provide a “home away from home.” The USO clubs provided dances and social activities, as well as a quiet place to write a letter or read.  It later became well known for its sponsorship of celebrity entertainment to raise the morale of the soldiers, sailors, and pilots serving deployed to distant battlefields.

Many of us remember Bob Hope and other celebrities who brought cheer and encouragement to the troops fighting in Vietnam. Today contingents of USO volunteers are on hand at the top of the airport escalator to cheer men and women in uniform returning to the home front at the end of their tour of duty. This organization provides a valuable service and a helping hand to those who are sacrificing to meet the military obligations of our country. Private donations and volunteers are vital to the success of the USO. 

Today I want to share a touching story from guest blogger, Rosanne Douglas, about how she and her husband provided a lifeline to another of God’s creation.  Rosanne is a member of my Christian Authors Guild. She writes a variety of styles including inspirational and human interest stories. She has also written Bible studies as well as poetry. Welcome Rosanne.

“It was one of those, ‘but does God-really-care-what-you’re-going-through kind of day!’  A walk would do us good we thought as we stepped from our cozy cabin into the sunshine. This trek would take us where the creek frames the gravel road and honeysuckle winds its way up the roadside bushes. And mountain laurel was soon to display her breath-taking white bridal gown boasting of her southern beauty and sweet savor! My husband and I lived off a trail at the foot of the Smokey Mountains and daily enjoyed God’s stunning creation. Stopping along the creek waterfront, I breathed in the fragrance and felt God’s presence entangled with my own. I needed this. The season had been a spiritually tough one.

From the corner of my eye, I locked in to the distress signals of a black bug scooting about on the top of a rocky mound—a tiny island surrounded by tumbling water but scaled to his size!  With no fly gear attached the bug seemed imprisoned and desperate. When his first pair of feet touched the stream, he quickly backed away. That would not work!  Several minutes went by.  Circumstances got him there, but now he was in scramble mode—vulnerable but determined.
We decided to throw him a lifeline?  We did it by forging the stream with a stick which enabled him to cross over. He was now a happy little bugger as he scampered into the woods.

How often do we find ourselves in that same predicament with no way out, hopeless, crying for help?  The Lord reminded me that He is there to attend to our every need in life, no matter how big or how tiny.  If important to us, is important to Him.  He always plans a way of escape.             
 Isa. 30:21; Jer. 6;16; 1 Cor.10:13

This little black bug gave us a mighty lesson in diligence and trust in God’s faithfulness— a lesson learned from one of the most unlikely of God’s creatures. “

You can contact Rosanne at

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Look My Way

What’s tall, colorful, and gyrates wildly to get your attention as you drive down the road and silently says “Look My Way”?

An Inflatable Air Dancer

These vinyl creations are most often used to lure customers into a retail store or car dealership. But vineyards and gardens are sometimes decorated with these sky puppets in order to repel birds and four footed creatures that like to eat the fruit and plants.

There are days when I identify with the wacky waving tube man. In recent weeks, I’ve been pulled from one event to another. Circumstances and situations constantly required me to change gears or change hats. And there is no end in sight. But I have discovered some spiritual and practical lessons as I’ve observed my air dancing friend.

Spiritual Lessons
  • It’s easy to ignore my surroundings. Just as I drive without ever seeing the stores on the side of the road, am I also failing to observe people and their needs? Unless someone grabs my attention like my air dancer friend, I’m content to stay in my own little world. I need to be attuned to the spirit that tells me to interact with folks I meet each day..
  • Life is full of twists and turns and I often flail about on my own trying to get my balance.  I stay that way until I realize that I am not in charge of the circumstances of my life.  If I have done my best, I need to trust God to handle the rest. “So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6.
  • Like the tube man, keep on smiling. Everyone knows my mood by my face.  I’m not very good at hiding my feelings. I want to be spiritually uplifting to people who are probably having a tough day too and a smile is a good way to start.

Practical Lessons
  • Be more flexible—physically & emotionally.
  • Limit sticking my fingers into too many pies.
  • Go with the flow.
  • Relax when I have a bad hair day.
  • Strive to be that skinny again.

Even an inanimate object like an air dancer can teach us important lessons about life.

Click on this YouTube link to see air dancers in action.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Keep the American Spirit

I felt a sense of pride as I pulled into my condo community today and saw American flags mounted on all our mailboxes in honor of Flag Day.  The banners representing our country fluttered in the breeze and at times snapped to attention when a stiffer wind blew. In light of recent terror attacks on our citizens. I also felt a sense of sadness that enemies both foreign and domestic are attempting to destroy our American way of life.

Some things never change. One hundred years ago today President Woodrow Wilson officially established June 14, 1916 as Flag Day.  He spoke these wise words:

“Many circumstances have recently conspired to turn our thoughts to a critical examination of the conditions of our national life, of the influences which have seemed to threaten to divide us, of forces within and without. Stand with united hearts for an America which no man can corrupt; no influence draw away from its ideals; no force divide against itself.”

We need to pray for our country as never before that we the people will appreciate and protect our country, not only for ourselves, but for the generations that will follow.

Several weeks ago I asked fellow bloggers to submit a guest piece. In the patriotic spirit of the recent Memorial Day and upcoming Independence Day, I received the following from Debbra Stephens. Debbra has published Bible studies on the Gospels and the book of Ephesians. She is on the women’s ministry team at her Marietta, Georgia church and blogs at Welcome Debbra.

Make It Memorable
"With holidays come memories. I usually choose to remember only the fond ones, of course. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t experienced bad holidays—I just choose not to dwell on them.

I don’t want to remember how many spare ribs I’ve burned, pies I’ve ruined, or potato salad recipes I’ve attempted. And I certainly don’t want to recall relational tensions, family feuds, or feelings that got wounded.

What types of things do you dwell upon?  Choosing to dwell upon the admirable and the lovely helps to shape positive attitudes. It’s not to deny reality, mind you. It’s simply a choice…a wise choice. When practiced, it eliminates attitudes that have the potential to rob the atmosphere of joy, truth, or worse, create great difficulties. This is nothing new. It’s an age-old principle—tried, tested, and proven true—and handed down by the Apostle Paul. It’s something I like to call the 4:8 Principle.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, 
whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

I look forward to every opportunity to make family holiday celebrations memorable. I want to be positively all there and leave the negatives where they belong—in the past, forgotten and forgiven. And following the 4:8 Principle ensures just that."

Today I reached 20,000 clicks on my blog www.twolatebloomers .  
I never dreamed four years ago my blog would reach that many people. Thank you for your support.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Live Longer & Healthier

Everyone wants to live a longer and healthier life. Numerous website and magazines provide plenty of advice on how to care for your body and maximize your lifespan.
Eat the right food, exercise, drink lots of water, make sleep a priority, don’t smoke or use illegal drugs, and maintain a healthy weight are on every list.  Recently several articles have appeared on news and Facebook feeds about the importance of faith, prayer, and church attendance in a longer-healthier life.  In August 2025 I referenced two studies in my blog post The Pursuit of Happiness.

More studies have followed that have led to some surprising conclusions. Seven benefits of an active faith are described by researchers as follows:


Participation in religious organizations was ‘the only social activity associated with sustained happiness.’ Researchers noted, however, that it is unclear whether the benefits of participating in a religious organization are linked to being in the religious community, or to the faith itself. 
The Week,  The Key to Sustained Happiness, 8.15.15

                                                       Less Depression
Regardless of unhealthy or healthy habits, the study found that people who attended one religious service each week were less likely to be depressed than those who did not. Since depression can impact longevity, such attendance might help. And a 1998 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that elderly community residents who regularly attended church services lived longer than those who did not partake.,  21 Reasons you Will Live Longer Than your Friends,  Michael De Medeiros, 9.19.15

                                            Stress Relief

A number of studies have found that devout people have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as a better ability to cope with stress. Certain religious practices may even change the brain in a way that boosts mental health, studies suggest.
The Science of Religion: How Spirituality Impacts Mental Health, Rachael Rettner, 9.29.15 

                                                    Better Mental Health

For example, a 2005 study of older adults in the San Francisco Bay area found that being religious served as a buffer against depression among people in poorer health, with the highest levels of depression among those who were in poor health and not religious. In addition, a 2013 study found that patients who are being treated for mental-health issues such as depression or anxiety responded better to treatment if they believed in God. The Science of Religion: How Spirituality Impacts Mental Health, Rachael Rettner, 9.29.15

                                               Purpose & Meaning in Life

In another review of 93 studies on religion and health, Dr. Harold G. Koenig, director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center, found that more religious people had fewer depressive symptoms."People who are more involved in religious practices and who are more religiously committed seem to cope better with stress," Koenig said. "One of the reasons is because [religion] gives people a sense of purpose and meaning in life, and that helps them to make sense of negative things that happen to them," Koenig said. A person's religious community can also provide support and encouragement through hard times, he said."

                                                       Healthier Brain

Studies on the brains of religious people may also provide an explanation for the link between religion and mental-health benefits, said Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia. Studies suggest that meditation, and meditative prayer (such as prayer that repeats a particular phrase), activate areas of the brain involved in regulating emotional responses, including the frontal lobes, Newberg said."It's also possible that the beliefs and teachings advocated by a religion — like forgiveness, love and compassion — may ‘become integrated into the way the brain works. The more that certain neural connections in the brain are used, the stronger they become, he said, so if a religion advocates compassion, the neural circuits involved in thinking about compassion become stronger.”
                                       Longer Life

Women who attend religious services frequently may live longer than women who don't, new research suggests. Women who attended religious services regularly were 33 percent less likely to die during the study period, compared with women who never attended services. Once-a-week attendees were 26 percent less likely to die, and those attending less than once a week were 23 percent less likely to die. Overall, frequent religious attendance was associated with a 27 percent lower likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 21 percent lower risk of death from cancer. Frequent attendance was also associated with significantly less risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer.  Religious Service Attendance Tied to Longer Life, Reuters, 5.16.16

We know that being a Christian gives us eternal life in heaven and abundant life here on earth. Now, it appears that the scientific benefits for our bodies and minds are equally important. Say your prayers, read your Bible, and go to church on Sunday. It just might save your life.