Being Polite to God

Karin Gwen Willow_BlkForest-CO_LAH_0313-001For the past week we’ve enjoyed the company of our out-of-state daughter and two granddaughters. Gwendolyn is now three months old, Willow recently turned two. I’ve loved every chaotic minute. I’ve spent the week reading cardboard picture books, filling sippy cups, and moving sharp or breakable objects to ever higher shelves.

Like all grandchildren, our grandkids are nearly perfect, but they still need a lot of civilizing. They weren’t born polite, considerate, well-behaved little girls. Our kids are doing a wonderful job of teaching and training, but if you’ve ever wondered about the concept of Original Sin, just spend a day with a toddler!

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What I Wish I Had Known (Before Getting Married)

1978Aug P&L MtRainierOur 35th anniversary is in three days, on July 14. In those 35 years we’ve had long stretches where life seemed to just flow along—work, family time, kids, church—and other times when it felt as if we were wading through muck. But even when life is at its hardest, I love being married to Pete. If I had the choice all over again, I would marry him in a heartbeat. However, there are a few things I wish I had known before I said “I do.”

Lest you think I had some sort of unpleasant surprise once Pete and I moved in together, let me assure you that’s not the case. Oh, he has a few bad habits. He leaves sock lint on the carpet and apple cores in the car. He spends too much time helping other people, and not enough time spoiling me. And he puts ketchup on my homemade macaroni and cheese. But all in all, Pete is one terrific guy, and I’m blessed to have him.

The ugly things I learned as a newlywed weren’t about Pete at all. There were about me. You see, I’m not perfect. Continue reading

Don’t Waste a Moment

This will be my last Tuesday post for a while.

I have lots of reasons:

  • My new job is taking more time than I expected, especially during the growing season.
  • We’re expecting lots of houseguests this summer and I want to focus on them while they’re here.
  • I have less time to simply think about things, and I don’t want to write meaningless posts just to meet a schedule.

Perhaps when the weather turns cold, and all the hikers and gardeners go inside, when our guests go home again, when I have some down time to mull over what God’s teaching me—then I’ll go back to posting twice a week. For now, I need a break! And remember to check for something new every Friday. See you then!

Meanwhile…

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Celebrating Freedom

fireworks_theme_350Today is Independence Day, the day we celebrate the birth of a nation dedicated to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I’ve been mulling over just what that means, particularly in an age where our liberties seem to be diminished more and more. We read that we’re under surveillance by our own government, we trade our rights for an illusion of safety, and our elected politicians don’t obey the laws they’re sworn to uphold.

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Temptation

Temptations come in many guises. There are the obvious ones—alcohol to an alcoholic, internet porn, illicit drugs. There are the ones we can rationalize—overeating (I obviously struggle with that one!), irresponsibility, such as watching TV or playing games when you should be doing something else, selfishness, preferring our comfort over the needs of others.

Life is full of temptations to ignore God, disobey His word, put ourselves first. We all are faced with an ongoing stream of ways to get life wrong, but recently I came across an incident in Luke 22 that’s helping me do better.

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Praying for (someone else’s) Faith

The argument is as old as the Bible. Do we really choose to believe in God, in Jesus? Or does God choose us, extending mercy to some, and hardening the hearts of others?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. (Romans 9:18)

I prefer to avoid thinking about confusing and contradictory concepts—they make my head hurt!  However, the tension between predestination and free will concerns me a great deal. In fact, it’s a matter of life and death.

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Intentional Giving

Summer is a great time of year. Backyard barbecues, running through the sprinklers, feeling warm breezes on bare arms and legs—most people claim summer as their favorite time of year. But if you’re trying to run a ministry, or meet a church budget, summer is a time of scarcity. People on vacation aren’t home to make donations or mail checks, and we rarely put something in the offering when we’re just a visitor somewhere else. Ministries that run on donations know that summers make them tighten their belts, so they send out scads of donation appeals. My mailbox is full of them.

Being on a limited income, there’s no way we can send money to everyone who asks. (When Jesus told the disciples to do exactly that—see Matthew 5:42 and Luke 6:30—I often wonder if he had our era of mass communications in mind!) The problem is that they’re all worthwhile causes. How can I possibly choose between puppy-eyed orphans, rescued slaves, starving families, unborn children, our local homeless shelter or food bank, refugees, and entire people groups without any knowledge of Jesus? Indecision leaves me paralyzed.

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