We’ve been planning all year for a graduation this week. But we didn’t expect two graduations. Earlier this week our Aunt Debby graduated from the Now into Eternity. As Elizabeth crosses the stage and receives her high school diploma, a prelude to the next step in her life, Aunt Debby will be laid to rest 2000 miles away. 

We will miss being there with the family. And they will miss being with us. We will miss Aunt Debby when we visit next—miss her laughter and her conversation. In fact, it won’t really seem real that she is gone until we miss her then. 

So we will rejoice and grieve at the same time tomorrow. But isn’t that in itself simply a picture of our life on this earth? We take the good with the bad, the happy with the sad. We smile and we cry. Our hearts swell with pride and break with hurt, all at the same time. Yet our God is in every moment. And life goes on.




Short, and Sweet

Sometimes it’s the simple things that touch your heart. In these stressful days when my head is full of things that must be done, I needed something to read. Something short. And sweet.

I remembered a conversation I’d had a few days earlier about a new musical based on the book Sarah, Plain and Tall. This person had never read the book or seen the movie, but she was so touched by the musical version of the story. I’ve always loved this book, so I pulled it out again. It’s a quick read. Lyrical and sweet. The perfect combination of heart-wrenching sorrow and joy.

Pick it up again—or for the first time. You’ll be glad you did.


As We Forgive

Those of you who’ve been around my blog very long know I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. And even when I do, it isn’t often I tout them here. But it would be impossible for me to let this opportunity go by. 

As We Forgive by Catherine Claire Larson is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. It is the story of the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, the story of a reconciliation taking place in a society and culture. An almost unthinkable reconciliation. This is a book about forgiveness. The stories of several individuals are interwoven with chapters discussing how and why we should seek reconciliation and forgiveness. These are topics that, as human beings, we will all face in matters big or small, but hearing how God has worked in Rwandan society, in perhaps the biggest of all matters, gives us hope. 

Don’t read this book if you don’t want to let go of your own hurts or shortcomings. Don’t read this book if you don’t want to get free of unforgiveness. Don’t read this book if you don’t want your life changed. Because that’s what it will do. You will never be able to fall back into old patterns of nursing hurts and desiring revenge without a prick of conscience again. 


Racing Downhill

Ever feel like you are in a downhill race? That pretty much describes my life right now. And given my propensity to be a bit of a klutz, I’m worried I’m going to trip over my feet and go tumbling all the way to the bottom! 

All the end of year school stuff is upon me, as well as graduation events and parties and the wedding season gearing up, too. Hard to believe I have three friends who have children getting married this summer! Add in that I’ll probably need to live at the gym due to all the cake I’m consuming at these social events and I’ve about used up all the hours in my days! 

But knowing me, I’ll find time to read, probably to research, and maybe to write. And I’ll fit in blogging somewhere, too. So hang in there with me. It’s going to be a wild ride!




The Value of Chronicles

2Timothy 3:16-17 says: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 

Do you really believe this? ALL Scripture? I’ve been reading in Chronicles lately. It is tedious, to say the least. List after list of unpronounceable names, some in the form of genealogy, some in lists of positions held. So I found myself asking: is this part God-breathed, too? If so, what in the world can I learn from it, besides what not to name my children? 

As I meditated on this, as I asked the Lord to teach me something, anything, from these endless lists, a bit of understanding dawned on me. While earlier books of the Bible cover some of the same time periods and events of Chronicles, those books are mainly concerned with the big picture stories. But in Chronicles, God has a point to make: everyone matters. 

Name after name, with even some mothers and daughters thrown in, of people we don’t know much, if anything, about. And yet God knew them. He knew them by name. He knows what they did or didn’t do. He knows how they lived their lives. He knows the positions they held, from king and high priest to the overseers of troops and supplies to simply the heads of families. Each had a place. Each had a part to fulfill. I think Chronicles is an admonition to those of us who don’t have the “out front” roles in the body of Christ or in the hierarchy of His kingdom to remain faithful. To do what we are called to do. And to know that He sees.


The Best $5 I've Ever Spent

When my mother handed me the information for the Heritage Farmstead Museum, I knew it was a place I needed to go to further understand farm life at the turn of the century—the 20th century. Finally I had a free day and took off. They only do docent-guided tours at 1:30, but I showed up at 12:30 to look around the grounds for a little while on my own. I took pictures and imagined my characters living and working in such a place. 

At 1:30, no docent had arrived. Finally, at 1:45, the director of the museum came to give me the tour herself. So there I was with this wonderful historian, just her and I, walking through this enormous museum-house and discussing what would be available to an average person and when they might own it, admiring the reproduction paint colors and wallpapers, and studying the original furnishings, clothing, toys, etc. As we talked, I discovered that she has done research on the home front during World War I. She invited me to come back and visit with her about that another day. My conversation with her as well as all I saw in the house was absolutely invaluable and would have been enough to make my $5 worthwhile. But when we stepped outside, this lovely lady handed me off to the Executive Director of the Museum, who took me around the rest of the buildings in the “farm yard.” 

Again, a fascinating historian who answered every question I threw at him. At the end, he gave me his card and an invitation to call or email as well as the name of the director of another such place that focused more on town buildings and would be another good source of information. Two hours of individual attention from two historians steeped in the time period I am working in. See what I mean? Definitely the best $5 I’ve ever spent!


Worship With The Body of Christ

We worshipped yesterday with a congregation made up of many people from Africa. We visit this church once a year with the team our daughter goes with on her summer trips to Ghana. It is always a wonderful time being with other parts of the body of Christ. This time it made me think: why don’t we do this more often? Not go to this church, necessarily, but visit other churches that are not like the one we frequent, worship in different ways with different parts of the body of Christ. After all, we’re going to spend eternity worshipping with these people! 

The thought sparked an analogy between our physical bodies and our spiritual ones. I’ve heard that when you exercise using the same routine, the same movements, that your body gets so used to it that it doesn’t have to work as hard and thus, stagnates a bit. That’s why it is important to change up your exercise routine occasionally. It struck me yesterday that perhaps it is the same with our spiritual “exercises.” We get into our routine, we get used to the way we do things. And, perhaps, we get a little comfortable, a little less focused on the Lord and more going by rote. What if, occasionally, we stepped out of that comfort zone and fellowshipped with other parts of the body of Christ who worship differently from us? Perhaps they are more free and expressive in their worship. Perhaps more reserved. Perhaps more liturgical. Just coming at worship from a different perspective, even if we don’t agree with that congregation on every point of theology, opens our eyes to Christ in a new way.



The Nun's Story

Not long ago I walked into the library at my kids’ school and perused the shelves as I waited for a meeting to begin. Now I’ve been known to be intrigued by books others would easily skim over. Sometimes such a book will almost jump off the shelf and into my hands with little explanation why. 

Such was the case with The Nun’s Story by Kathryn Hulme. It’s an old book, published in 1956. I opened the book to read the front flap and found a summary and endorsement by none other than Daphne du Maurier, one of my favorite authors. And the subject matter of the book? A woman’s (nun’s) struggle to surrender to obedience. Since obedience seems to be the lesson I’ve been stuck on this year, I left a note on the librarian’s desk and took the book home with me. 

Fascinating book on many levels, but definitely the book for me right now. I could identify with the main character, Sister Luke, as she struggled to die to herself, to conform her iron will to the mandates of her convent and of the Lord. She not only learns obedience and humility, but, in the end, she learns to listen to the voice of the Lord over it all. It may not be a book to speak to everyone, but for me, at this moment in my life, the story touched deep places in me with every twist and turn of this woman’s life. 

I’ll be finding a copy of this book for my own shelves now. And then I discovered, quite by accident, that there is a movie adapted from the book starring Audrey Hepburn that garnered quite a few Oscar nominations and awards. So I guess I’ll be acquiring that as well. 

Has the Lord used an obscure book (or at least obscure to your current culture, maybe well known in its time) to further open your spiritual eyes? For me, this is but one of many.