In Praise of Mothers

Mother’s Day. It started as an effort to reunite the North and South after the Civil War, led in large part by a woman named Ann Reeves Jarvis. She organized picnics and other opportunities for mothers from both sides of the conflict to come together in friendship and peace.

Her daughter, Anna Jarvis, “never had children of her own, but the 1905 death of her own mother inspired her to organize the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908.” Her focus was on appreciating one’s own mother, not mothers in general (hence the careful placement of the apostrophe).*

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Happy Thanksgiving

(I decided to post something a day early, because I wanted to share this in time for Thanksgiving Day.)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s not about the feast, although I adore turkey, stuffing, and all the accompaniments. It’s not about the football, even though I enjoy a good game every so often.It’s not even about getting together with loved ones, although I treasure any time I spend with our daughters and their families.

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When All Else Fails…

Pete & kiddos_MillCreek-WA_LAH_3005I didn’t run away from God. It was more of a drift, a gradual replacement of time normally dedicated to Him. Three weeks on the road—two weeks with the grandkids—will do that. Getting up early to go birding, eating breakfast on the run instead of at home with my Bible by my plate. Being woken at the first glimmer of dawn by two giggly little girls wanting to snuggle with Grandma and Papa Pete. Days full of familiar friends, new places, flowers, birds, and family. I didn’t run away from God. I got distracted.

We finally arrived home this week after driving 4,000 miles through nine states. After unpacking my suitcase, sorting the mail, and starting the first load of laundry, I sat down to write. Nothing came; my mind was a blank. But what about all those inspiring ideas I’d had while praying as I drove across Wyoming, Utah, Nevada? I’d never had a chance to write them down. They were forgotten. Worse, God wasn’t giving me any new insights. I felt disconnected. Distant. Chagrined that I’d let my most important relationship languish.

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Worthy of Praise

The Bible often describes God as being “worthy of praise.” (See 1 Chronicles 16:25, Psalm 48:1, and Psalm 145:3 for some examples.) I was singing at church last week when I started to wonder—what does that actually mean? Why should we praise God? What makes Him worthy? What makes any of us worthy of praise?

I had these questions in mind when, later that day, I clicked on the news and was inundated by the media’s hot question of the week: Is McCain a war hero? Yes, he was shot down and captured, and spent considerable time as a POW. So, does that make him a hero?

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Be Thankful for More than Turkey

turkeyThanksgiving. More and more, we’re calling it “Turkey Day.” Is Thanksgiving a holiday about eating as much turkey, stuffing, and pie as we can possibly handle? Has this holiday, like so many others, become so fixed on staying busy, keeping up our traditions, watching football, and buying stuff that we’re missing the point?

For the past few years my dad wasn’t well enough to travel, so we hosted Thanksgiving at our house. We invited friends, family, whoever needed a place to land, and I cleaned and shopped and cooked. Numbers varied, but we usually ended up with a dozen guests crowded around our table built for six. Somehow we made it work.

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Bringing Light into Darkness

Turning off the main highway, our minibus bumped over the rocky gravel road toward Gege, Swaziland. Tree farms, with their orderly rows of pine and eucalyptus, gave way to grassy hillsides, cattle, and the occasional small cinder block building. I tried to snap some photos from the moving bus, with limited success.

About ten minutes into our 40-minute ride, we bounced past a run-down homestead flying a worn, solid black flag. Odd, I thought, and asked our missionary host what the flag signified. He explained that some Swaziland belonged to a cult that worshiped a nasty snake idol/demon, and the flag meant that a snake “church” met at this home. Apparently, Gege was the epicenter of this cult.

Swaziland_LAH_9879-001

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We Voted—Now What?

So did your candidate win? Or are you horrified at the results of the election? Either way, we’re probably stuck with this person as president for the next four years. But whether we are celebrating or in mourning, it’s time to move on. As believers, we have an important assignment. It’s our job to:

Pray for those in authority.
We’re pretty familiar with the verse in 1 Timothy 2, where Paul urges:

… that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

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