In my most recent post, I wrote that our purpose in living is to glorify God. I explained that God is worthy of our praise and that we can glorify him by living in a way that points to him. We can eat the food he created - real, delicious, full of flavor. We can build in ways that create sturdy structures that protect human life while incorporating design principles that speak to the created order. We can care for our animals making sure they are fed and cared for and grow native plants in our gardens that add to the local ecosystem.
I’ve been teasing that I’m going to be writing about women’s issues. Is a post about glorifying God just dragging my feet? Am I afraid to start writing about this? Well, yes and no. I’m not dragging my feet. I’ve got a ton going on and it is easy to set aside writing to care for more immediately pressing issues. Yes, I’m a little scared to write about what I’ve read because it is controversial and nuanced. People have deeply held opinions built on misconceptions that are difficult to unravel from the truth. I’m trying to organize my notes and provide accurate, orderly information.
So why did I take the time to write about our need to glorify God? You might not like this answer, but it is because of Barbie. Yes, that Barbie. In the 2023 Barbie movie, there’s a song called "What Was I Made For?" The song is beautiful, contemplative, and heartbreakingly sad. Sung by Billie Eilish the lyrics state plainly how many women feel. They feel frustrated and lost. America Ferrera’s speech in the film drew millions of comments and views from women saying it expressed exactly how they feel. If you haven’t listened to them you should. If you listened to them and the feelings expressed are completely foreign, that is wonderful. I don’t wish frustration or sadness on any woman but please don’t use your own experience to diminish the experiences of others. Many movies have promoted feminism or the ideals it teaches but Barbie lays it all out for the viewer. Through Barbie, women are expressing how they feel living out third wave feminism. It is a significant cultural moment because many women recognize themselves in the confusion and want an answer to the question, “What was I made for?”
The other issue that the Barbie movie dealt with is women's ability to be everything. It's the tagline of the movie - She's everything. He's just Ken. Barbie can be anything - Astronaut Barbie, Teacher Barbie, Lawyer Barbie, Doctor Barbie, and the list goes on and on.
This you-can-do-it-all attitude is straight out of the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir (feminist philosopher and author of The Second Sex, 1949). "The modern woman, she argues, is not free, but divided. She cannot escape the demands of the feminine world, even while jockeying to succeed in the masculine world. She has to live both like a man and like a woman, and 'her workload and her fatigue are multiplied as a result.'" (From Abigal Favale, The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory) Combining this philosophy, biological clocks, and innate desires makes women feel like they should be able to have a career, family, social life, a healthy body, and a clean and well-ordered house, but since that is clearly impossible hopelessness ensues and we're back to looking at what our purpose really is.
We’ve all had something in our house of undetermined usefulness. It usually just shows up on the counter one day and you find yourself asking family members, “What is this? Where is it from? Who brought it home?” If you can’t find a purpose for the item it is usually tossed into the trash. There is no point in useless things. That’s why we have to start with finding our purpose.
Women have a purpose and it isn’t to get married, have children, bake bread, or look pretty. Many women do get married which is wonderful. I’d give the experience five stars - highly recommend. Having children is incredible - literally forming the next generation - life-changing! Baking bread is terrific, although I’d rather eat bread than bake it. (I still haven’t attempted a sourdough and I am not interested in trying.) If looking pretty is my purpose I’m in trouble. I CAN look pretty but at least 50% of the time I’m not even trying to. I’m not an object to be viewed. I am a human being with intrinsic value. (Psalm 139:13-16)
But where does that value come from? It comes from God. God created each of us and he didn’t create us to do everything like Barbie can. He promises to order our steps and be our helper and guide. All we have to do is glorify him and live ordinary lives. “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23
So today, I would like to offer you hope. The hope of knowing you were made for a purpose. If you don’t know God, I would be happy to introduce you to Him. I want you to feel, to be alive, to be cared for, to know you have value, to know that you have a purpose. You don't have to be everything which is great news because you can't be everything, but you can be loved, wanted, full of hope and joy.
Looking out over my snowy backyard, I fondly recall one of my favorite springtime activities -- \ planting my container gardens. I use plants that spike up, plants that fountain down, flowering plants, and foliage plants. Each year I mix the pots up a bit but, I always include a coleus plant. Coleus is a gorgeous foliage plant but there’s always a struggle with it. The coleus wants to create flowers and go to seed which will end its life cycle. I don’t want this to happen so regularly I go through my containers and pop off any flowering growth. Unfulfilled, the coleus will continue to produce gorgeous leaves. While working to maintain this beautiful plant, I considered how specifically this little plant knows its purpose and works to fulfill it. Do you long for that? Have you ever wondered at the world around you and thought, “Why am I here?” or “What am I supposed to be doing with my life?” If you’ve thought that, you aren’t alone. Philosophers and scholars have pondered these questions. Thousands of self-help books have promised to help readers find the answers. They tell people to find something they love, seek to make themselves whole, make themselves happy, help each other, and the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be great if we could know our purpose specifically?
According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the chief end of humans (our purpose) is to glorify God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 was the school verse at the Christian school where I grew up so it was something I quoted every day for several years. Despite all that quoting I still had an incomplete understanding of what it meant to glorify God or how that was achieved. Some said it was by doing excellent work and performing to the best of our ability. This seemed to fall flat because everyone can (and should) do a good job and work hard. How does that glorify God? Now my son attends that same school and his class chose that verse as their class verse. Never truly having understood it and desiring to find a simple way to explain what it means has lead me to spend the last few years pondering the question, “How do we glorify God?”
Here’s what I concluded in a simple enough form that I can explain it to myself and young people: to glorify God is to point others to him. We do it when we sing “Jesus Loves Me” we are sharing the Truth that points back to God. When we sing “Nothing But the Blood” we are sharing that Jesus is the way of salvation. Everything we do should point back to who God is. When we cook good food we share the bounty that God has provided and consume the wonderful flavors and textures that God created for us to enjoy. Everything we do should point to God.
Some of this involves motivation which is why this is a command to each person individually. If I bake Christmas cookies to thank my neighbors for being awesome and share the love of Christ with them I am glorifying God. If I bake Christmas cookies to demonstrate that I am better at baking than they are, I am seeking to glorify myself. In both circumstances the neighbors get cookies, but in only one of the circumstances is God glorified. You might be saying, “That’s really confusing!” You’re not wrong. But the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. If you’re given a gift, even one you really like, you can usually tell the motivations of the giver. My neighbors might not notice the first time, but they would pick up on my prideful and condescending attitude at some point and see through my selfishness. But if I give out of a desire to show love and Christ that will also become apparent as I live that out around them.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” But doesn’t that sound kind of egomaniacal? Why is it okay for God to demand our adoration and praise? If I was leading you and asked you to follow me and give me your adoration and praise, you would quickly discover I don’t deserve your praise and glory. I make mistakes, I’m selfish sometimes, I forget things, and I’m a hot mess and can behave unpredictably. Quickly, you would be fed up and move your adoration and praise to someone else. I’m not worthy of your glory and neither is any other human.
In Revelation John is in heaven and the angel asks an important question. “Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’” (Revelation 5:-1-5)
So God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are worthy of your praise. You are not and should not be the focus of your life. I am not God and should not be the focus of my own life. We are not God. God is worthy. We aren’t.
So, Why are we here? What is our purpose?
Everything we do should point to God. If you’re not quite sure what that looks like or how you can talk to God about that, maybe this can help us understand. When Mary was told that she would be the mother of Jesus through a miraculous virgin birth she praises God with the following exclimation:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.” (Luke 1:46-50)
Let’s look at her first line. “My soul magnifies the Lord.” The word magnify means to make bigger, but not in the way that a microscope magnifies things but more in the way that a telescope makes faraway heavenly bodies bigger. Here’s an example. The Andromeda Galaxy is a barred spiral galaxy and is the closest major galaxy to the Milky Way, where the Solar System resides. It is 2.5 million light-years away from Earth.
The radius is 110,000 light years. So if you wanted to go from the outside to the center it would take you 110,000 million years to get there.
On a clear night, you might see a tiny spot in the sky that is the Andromeda Galaxy, but with telescopes like the Hubble telescope or even powerful telescopes here on Earth, we can see more details. The telescopes magnify something that looks impossible to see but is actually massively large.
God is the all powerful soverign king of kings but to those who don't know Him He can feel distant and incomprehensible. We magnify, point to, or glorify God when we show others who He is. When we reflect his beauty, love, grace, justice, and peace.
I'm going to be spending some time on this topic and posting about it on my social media to provide more understanding. If you want to find out more and grow with me you can find and follow me on the links below.
One of the many things my students used to tease me about was my use of the word “favorite”. I tend to be fickle in my tastes and don’t really have any one thing that I can say I prefer above all others. I often make choices based on how I’m feeling at the moment. Sometimes my favorite lunch is salad; sometimes it’s guacamole and tortilla chips. Sometimes I want to go out for Italian food while sometimes I am hungry for steak. Sometimes I want to sit down with To Kill a Mockingbird while other times I crave non-fiction like The Devil in the White City. Students would mention a book during class and more often seemed logical I would say, “Oh! That’s my favorite!” I enjoy discussing books with people and sometimes the question, “What’s your favorite book?” is asked.
Now here’s the part where I’m going to be very real with you. My least favorite answer to that question is, “The Bible.” I know, I know! It’s the Bible! It’s the literal Word of God. But as an answer to that question, it seems like such a conversation-stopper. I’m excited to talk about being entertained by Pride and Prejudice or To Kill a Mockingbird and this answer comes across as demonstrating spiritual superiority. Maybe it’s not intended that way. I feel terrible about being annoyed by this answer but when I consider my feelings there’s a good explanation for my annoyance.
The Bible is a big book. It is 66 books that vary in genre telling a meta-narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. When I was younger I would read it out of a sense of obligation one chapter at a time. The reading was painful because it was confusing and the sense of obligation made it a drudgery. For a while, on the advice of some lesson I heard, I tried to read until I found something to me. This was really hard to do particularly when reading through the law or genealogies. At some point, I gave up and did daily devotionals (sometimes) just to keep from feeling guilty.
Then around 2012, I had a crisis of faith that drove me to ask, “Is all this really true? Am I wasting my time with all this God stuff or is there something worth clinging to?” I thank God daily that through a series of circumstances, I came upon friends and a congregation of believers who loved me and pointed me to God. They didn’t guilt me or push but they loved me, prayed for me, and left room for God to work. I started wanting to read the Bible because I wanted to see what it said. I hadn’t really considered the meta-narrative before so I wanted to learn about that. I read The Story and found myself riveted. I knew what was going to happen but I still couldn’t put it down! It was so exciting. Later I read The Books of the Bible which is the entire Bible with the chapter and verse numbers removed. You may think, as I did, that those aren’t a big deal, but boy, I was shocked to see how much clearer the text was. It was challenging to search and mark passages so I understand why we have the divisions we have but still deeply appreciated this read-through.
For the last several years I’ve been on a quest to read through several different versions and so far I’ve read the KJV, NASB, NLV, HCSB, and the NIV. I'm currently working through the ESV but that’s going to take a while because I’m doing it one study at a time. I’m about a year six months in and I’m only through Psalms and sixteen chapters of Genesis. My reading is challenging as it changes me, exciting as I make connections and understand more about God, and enjoyable as I read along with the millions of others in our time and in ages past who have read and loved the same book.
So what does all this have to do with my annoyance at answering “The Bible” when asked to name my favorite book? I think it’s because although it is a book I see it as so much more. It is fair to say that every book I’ve ever read has had some kind of impact on me. The words have made a difference in my life, which is why I love reading so much. In Pride and Prejudice, I see a beautiful love story, a quirky family, and a strong woman who refuses to settle for the life society has foisted upon her. In To Kill a Mockingbird I see the horrors of racism and prejudice through the innocent eyes of a child. I love these stories, but I would not die for the book itself or for the authors. In contrast, the Bible is a book full of ancient truths that are living and active. I would die for this book and its Author. I’ve seen this book change lives and I’ve seen people react in strong opposition to it because they hate its Author.
I’m going to start posting the results of the last several years of reading, listening, watching, visiting, and interviewing people about women. Before doing so I want to clearly state that my foundational book, the book I try to consume daily, the book that has changed my life is the Bible. I love it. I would die for the words it contains and it is important to me that you know that because it will be my foundational premise. I look forward to sharing the things that I’ve learned and hearing from you about them.
This may surprise my regular readers, but I usually don’t end late-night adventures being interviewed by the police. Last night was an exception to that usual set of circumstances. It started after our school’s graduation. Logan’s class was responsible for putting on a reception after the absolutely lovely ceremony. The kids did a great job setting up, hosting, tearing everything down, and cleaning up.
One of Logan’s friends graduated so after we were finished at the school we went to Wendy’s to get some food and spend time together. It was after 10:00 so the dining room inside was closed but the drive-thru was open. We got food and hung out together in the parking lot. There were six teens including the eighteen-year-old graduate, two upper elementary cousins, and three parents. After we ate, the kids were playing some live-action version of Pokemon that I didn’t understand but it was very entertaining to watch. I’m not sure where this description should go but I want to note that the teen girls were wearing semi-formal performance attire and the boys were wearing tuxedo shirts and bow ties. They weren’t on social media, they weren’t trying to bother other customers, and they tossed all their garbage into the trash cans. One of the girls and I were imagining what the workers watching were thinking of us. We were laughing guessing that they were making videos saying, “These kids are nuts! There’s no hope for the next generation!” and other common observations. That thought made us laugh because the graduate wasn’t drinking or being wild, just having fun with his younger friends and siblings. Honestly, I was so proud of them.
Suddenly, an employee popped her head out. She was clearly upset and yelled, “The cops will be here in five minutes!” and then disappeared back into the building. We all looked around at each other and worked to figure out why the police had been called. Were the kids doing something wrong? Were we breaking any laws? Had we been asked to leave? No, no, and no. The graduate got nervous, cleaned everything up around his vehicle, said he was tired, and left with his family. Only three of us were left - Logan, one of his classmates, and me. I wanted to stick around to talk to the police. I assumed they had our vehicle information and I wanted to know what was being reported about us.
Two officers came. First, they talked to the employees then they came and talked to us. I gave my name and information and said that we had never been asked to leave and we didn’t know we were upsetting anyone. The officer said that the employees were going to be going home soon and that they were afraid for their safety. I assured them we were just having a good time and didn’t intend to scare or upset anyone. I even commented on the wild experience of being kicked out of a Wendy’s parking lot and he informed me we weren’t even being kicked out. The whole thing was weird and kind of an exciting but sad end to a wonderful evening.
Today, I’m upset. Here’s the problem. I can see it from the employees' perspective. They appeared to be older women who looked out and saw a group of teenagers acting oddly and were scared. I’ve seen so many recent videos of teens acting like monsters - jumping on people’s cars, acting like fools to get social media content, and being degenerates. These women were scared that these kids were going to act like that too. Maybe without context, I would have felt the same way. This is why God hates sin so much. The sin of others ruins everything. I think these kids were innocent of wrongdoing but they experienced the fear and distrust caused by the sin of others. To put it in modern phrasing, “This is why we can’t have nice things!”
Yet I’m bothered that we weren’t asked to leave before they called the police. We weren’t given the opportunity to do right by them. I’m so sick of hearing adults complain about kids these days when they do everything in their power to avoid interacting with them. “Kids are always on social media,” adults say as they watch teens’ videos and share their content. Fun fact, I don’t think many twelve-year-olds are paying their own phone bill which means adults are complaining while actively supporting teens’ social media consumption. On top of being complicit in their social media consumption, many adults actively avoid interacting with teens. Regarding teaching children about God and his law, Moses said, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) If you spend more time complaining about “kids these days” but aren’t willing to invest in this generation, you are part of the problem. On Twitter, someone posted a “kids these days” post and I shared a short version of last night’s adventures. I said that my fear is that the kids learned that they were doing something wrong and that the “safer” activity was staying home and playing video games or scrolling through social media. As a society, we’ve made being on a screen safer than spending time outside then we wonder why kids are unhealthy, screen-addicted, and depressed. We have got to do better.
It may be cliche and overused but be the change you want to see in the world. Get involved in your church’s youth group. Hire neighborhood teens to work with you in your yard. Demonstrate the love of God and show interest in their lives. Your investment will make a difference and you will be blessed beyond measure as I know I have been.
It's that time of year again. Time to spring clean? Not yet. Time to declutter? Always. Time to take down the Thanksgiving decorations? Umm . . . definitely.
It’s time to invest in those around us by telling them how much they are loved. I’m actively preparing for my annual Galantine’s Day party. Each year I take the time to invest in women who I want to celebrate by thanking them for being in my life and telling them how much they are loved. This all started in February 2019 and was inspired by the Galentines Day on Parks and Recreation. It has become one of my favorite days of the year.
It’s time to invest in those around us by telling them how much they are loved.
I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. My mom made holidays special by doing fun things for us and my teachers always let us exchange Valentines in the most fun ways. I love pink. I love hearts. (My childhood bedroom was decorated with heart bedding from JC Penny.) I love chocolate. It’s a fun time to celebrate Love and the God who is Love. All this makes me look forward to Valentines Day every year.
But for some people it’s not a fun day. They don’t have good memories of their childhoods. They are lonely and in desperate need of encouragement. They don’t feel loved. There are so many women and girls who are longing for love - the love of a spouse, the love of children, the love of a lost family member. With so much hurting and longing it can be discouraging to see all the hearts and reminders of painful longing. Too many people face the depression of a cold winter on top of the ubiquitous reminders that they are alone. This is why we need to invest in the women around us.
I would love to see more Galentine’s Day parties this year. I’m already hosting mine and my guest list is the girls in the class I sponsor at my son’s school. This is a precious opportunity to pour love into them and empowering them. I want the girls I spend time with to know that I love being a wife and mother but that there is so much more to being a woman. I don’t want them buying into the idea that Valentine’s Day is just about romantic love and if they don’t have a man than they are somehow less of a person.
- Photos of Galentine's Days Past -
So here’s the challenge - who are you going to invest in? Are you lonely? Plan a get together. Are you a single mom? Invite your kid’s friends or their moms. Are you empowered and confident? Plan a get together. Here’s my stragety for hosting a great event:
How to host a Galentine’s Day Party:
So that’s it. Who is going to do this with me? Who is going to help share love and joy with others? If you are a believer in Christ you should have love to pour out and share and this is a great place to start.
The last few months have been challenging to say the least. Two members of my close family have passed into the next life and we've been missing them dearly. That's all I can say about that for now. God is good and he has promised to provide beauty for ashes.
The world can be an ugly and stressful place. People can be rude and destructive. Assumptions and judgments are made about others and if your beliefs don’t match with others you can suffer derision and scorn. Sicknesses of all kinds are rampant and death is not restricted to unknown strangers. With all this going on in the world my home has become an extra special place. I work in my home, entertain in my home, and study my Bible as well as a large variety of subjects from my home. I’m home with my crazy dog who needs lots of work and activities. In summary, I spend a lot of time at home.
This being the case, I have fallen really hard into houseplants. Yes, my home may look like I’m slowly losing a game of Jumanji, but there could be worse things to fill a home with. Here are a few of my beauties. Some houseplant gardeners like to have multiples of one particular plant. Not me. While I do have a few multiples, I prefer variety.
Aren’t they amazing? Each plant’s leaf has a different color, structure, and shape. Each is unique in its own way. They remind me that God is creative and loves his creation. Yes, these plants are readily available to me at grocery stores and garden centers, but for millennia these were solely in their own ecosystems, quietly glorifying their Maker. Today there are hybrids and cultivated varieties, but they all shout praise with their incredible design.
When I study my plants, I see the toxic danger of root rot. I am reminded to be rooted in Christ. Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” If my foundation is weak, if my roots, what grounds me, is sickly, I can not thrive and I will never bear fruit.
That’s all for me today. I’m off to work around the house. Come see me. Stop in for a visit. I’d love to share some coffee and show you my plants. They are gorgeous.
If you’re interesting in learning about plants, I would recommend these books. There are a lot of how to grow guides but most of the information in them is easily accessible from a quick Google search. These two books get into details and share some more in depth information.
Do you believe that your words matter? Sometimes, when viewing the massive number of available books, podcasts, blogs, TikToks, Reels, etc., I assume that my words are insignificant, that they only add to the cacophony around us without making an impact. When I start to feel like that though I find that I’m looking in the wrong direction. When I fall into thinking, “I don’t matter,” I realize that I’m forgetting whom I matter to. One of my favorite Bible verses is I Peter 4:11, “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.” (NIV) This is referring to those with the gift of speaking but I think also applies to those of us who have the freedom to share and speak or write to others as an ambassador of Christ. In some versions, the word oracles is used. An oracle is one through whom the gods speak. In writing to the believers of the early church, Peter is conjuring up imagery and wording that would have been familiar with this imagery. Peter is challenging believers to speak as though they are speaking God’s words. That’s quite the challenge! Too often we speak our own words acting like they are God’s words. We put our words in His mouth instead of putting His Word in our mouths.
Recently, I was discussing the web-like connectivity of the Bible. An example of this connectivity is the idea that we need God to be the foundation and sustainer of our lives. The Israelites were told to collect manna every day and that to only collect what they need for that day other than the Sabbath. Jesus alludes to this when he asks for daily bread (Matthew 6:11) as well as later when he tells his followers not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough troubles (Matthew 6:34). We can cast our cares on the Lord and He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22) like the wise man who built his house upon a rock (Matthew 7:24). The idea of only speaking God’s words is not isolated to I Peter 4:11. Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” We are to hide God’s Word in our hearts and meditate upon it because we can’t speak words we don’t know. Have you ever been in a conversation with a group of people who have all seen and loved a movie you have not yet seen? Their entire conversation becomes quotations from the movie as you realize you have no frame of reference for these quotations. If you tried to quote the movie it would quickly become apparent you don’t know what you’re talking about. You haven’t memorized the lines. You haven’t made the quotes from the movie part of your everyday language. (Lest you think I’m exaggerating about movie quotes being part of language, I dare you to think of the word inconceivable without coming around to thinking about the Princess Bride.)
So what about you? Do you know God’s words well enough to quote them? I struggle with memorization but have good comprehension. I love doing what I did above and finding connections between verses and peppering my writing and speaking with them. I like to read multiple passages over and over to help me understand and absorb more. Before speaking at an event or counseling with students, I pray that I would only speak God’s words. This isn’t some weird mystical thing, it’s just making sure what I’m saying aligns with God’s Word. Before a salesman goes out into the field he needs to make sure that he knows the product he is speaking about and trying to sell. If he is misinformed it will reflect poorly upon the company he is representing. Political leaders pick their own ambassadors because they want people who will represent them well.
Your words matter. You impact the world with your words. You will be held accountable for your words. Lest you think you are off the hook because you are not a speaker or writer, I will remind you that your words on social media matter - and not just what you write but also what you share from someone else. Your words to the sales person at the store or your server at a restaurant matter. Most of the world is short staffed and it’s easy to become impatient, but Christians are called to be the light of the world. We can demonstrate our love for others and our willingness to be different simply by being kind.
In my life, there have been many dreary days when the sun did not shine and it was too wet to go out and too cold to play ball. On those days I could read and travel around the globe with books. Sometimes I went to places that were real and sometimes I traveled into Narnia or Wonderland. In my travels, I discovered that from there to here, from there to there, funny things are everywhere.
When I grew up I became a teacher and had students who would rather eat green eggs and ham than read. They wouldn’t read in a box or with a fox, in a house or with a mouse, but with some work most discovered that they liked reading everywhere.
March is celebrated as Reading Month by schools and families across the country. Special days and contests are designed to help students discover the joys of reading. We celebrate reading in March because March 2, is the birthday of Ted Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Geisel did much to expand the library of children’s literature by creating high-interest stories as an author-illustrator as well as the editor of Beginner Books. He worked with P.D. Eastman and Stan and Jan Berenstain to create a library of titles that would motivate children to read including Go, Dog, Go and Old Hat New Hat. One of his requirements was that the illustration on the page had to match the words to help struggling readers self-correct.
This year, the day is being swallowed up by controversy about the work of Dr. Seuss. I’ve seen more posts about the controversy than I have about reading month! So here’s my plan of action - I’m going to move forward without heeding any of the articles because they don’t affect me and I doubt they affect you. One story states that a school district in Virginia is dropping Dr. Seuss and another states that six books will no longer be published. Although I have opinions about these issues, neither announcement has any immediate effect on my life. I don’t live in Virginia and I already own a copy of And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.
Andy Warhol predicted a world where everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes. I’ve seen people achieve those minutes in a variety of ways but it seems like a current popular method is to cancel something. People start sharing their approval or disapproval and soon it’s all anyone can talk about. But what happens then? We aren’t talking about the benefits of reading, rather we are arguing and fighting for something that really has no impact on us. I’ve seen many shares of the anti-Seuss campaign with great consternation and while this is understandable it has to stop. Social media gives you a positive feedback loop so the majority of what you see affirms your own viewpoints. This gets us nowhere. I strongly encourage you to read “The Zax.” It’s only a few pages long and can be found in The Sneetches and Other Stories. (That whole book is incredibly relatable right now. In “The Sneetches,” Sylvester McMonkey McBean takes advantage of the Sneetches by exploiting their desires and encouraging divisiveness.) In “The Zax,” a North-Going Zax and a South-Going Zax run into each other while walking across an open plain. Neither would deviate from their course and so they stayed butting heads for a couple of years until the growing world grew around them. Arguing with people on social media feels like that. I can argue and refuse to deviate course but what will that accomplish?
So today, I’m asking you to join me. Don’t be a Zax. Don’t let Sylvester McMonkey McBean manipulate you. Pick up a book and read. If you can, read a Dr. Seuss book aloud today. Luke (age 2) was delighted by Green Eggs and Ham this afternoon and I plan on reading and discussing some of The Sneetches and Other Stories with Logan this evening. Read The Lorax and discuss conservation or read The Butter Battle Book and discuss nuclear proliferation. For a taste of what it feels like to age read You’re Only Old Once, but follow it up with something positive and inspiring like Horton Hatches an Egg.
I know it’s upsetting to read about things “getting canceled” but you don’t have to participate. No one is coming for my books (yet) so I’m going to fight back against cancel culture by going around the “other Zax” and sharing my love for reading and learning with others. At night, don’t spend time fretting over what others are doing or refusing to do, rather inspire those whom you have the ability to influence then lay your head down saying, “Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. Every day, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.”
It was few days into the New Year and I found myself sobbing while sitting on the floor amid a mess of Christmas decorations, storage boxes, and semi-decorated trees. Every year I like to take the ornaments off the trees while watching the Rose Parade. Jason and Logan wish the decorations would stay up a little longer but I like starting January 1 off by putting Christmas away. Our little debate has become a tradition and one that I didn’t know how much I loved until it was gone. No Rose Parade, no decorations taken down and, suddenly, everything was just “off” about this new year.
I knew there wouldn’t be drastic differences between December 31 and January 1, yet there’s always that hope ushered in by a new year and it was already dashed. Everyone had so loudly protested that 2020 was the worst year ever and the idea that its end would bring a promise of change. Now 2021 was only a few days old and the virus was still here, political tension reigned in the land, and 2021 was proving that hope in this new year would provide disappointment.
Eventually, all the Christmas decorations did come down and the house is now back in order, or at least our version of it, but I’ve been thinking a lot about hope. Not the hope that hopes I find my lost keys or the hopes that I have for Logan’s future, but rather the hope that my heart looks to when it is in trouble, the thing that anchors my soul. The song lyrics, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,” have been stuck in my mind and I’ve been thinking a lot about Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
Today’s Word: Hope
One syllable. Pronounced [hohp]. Verb. Defined on Dictionary.com as “to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe, desire, or trust”
As Biden was sworn in as President of the United States people around our area began shooting off fireworks. Of course this sent Samoa scrambling upstairs convinced that we were under attack and that it was every man, or dog, for themselves. Today my social media feeds are full of celebration and hope for the future. People are happy that their daughters have hope in Kamala Harris becoming VP. People are looking forward to so much and it makes me sad. I’m not sad because I hate the elected officials or because I disagre with their idology. I’m sad because I see people building on the wrong foundation.
In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus tells the story of two builders. One builder built his house on the sand. I’m sure it was a great house with a great view, but when the storm came the house fell flat. Its foundation was unstable and provided no protection. The other builder built his house on the rock. Maybe this house had a great view as well or maybe it didn’t, but what matters is that when the storm came, the house stood firm. It didn’t fall down or suffer damage. My favorite image to illustrate Psalm 46 is that of a lighthouse pelted by giant waves. God is our refuge and strength and so because of that we can be still and know that he is God. The quality of the building materials isn’t the point here. This isn’t the story of the three little pigs. This is about foundations. What is your house built on?
My literal house is built on a solid foundation that includes a basement. My spiritual house is also built on a solid foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that I have a created purpose so I seek to fufill that purpose with confidence in a future hope. Please understand I am not being critical of those who are hoping in VP Harris. I don’t know if she will meet their expectations for her or if she will fail to meet them, but I know she is human and that in this era of cancel culture we have seen so many people fall from the favor of those who once supported them. Today, people who once cheered for and supported VP Pence are calling him all sorts of names including traitor. The point is that people dissapoint.
In this era of the mind-bending convergence of cancel culture and “don’t judge me” attitudes, it is radical to say that one thing is sure and trust worthy. We are in an era when nothing and no one seem trust worthy and yet I choose to trust God. I have seen Him working in my life over and over and I will follow him. I don’t do this because I’m a wonderful person. I am a person who really wants that beach front house built on my own fabulous ideas, but I’ve seen the damage done by storms that have destroyed my attempts to build anything off a solid foundation.
So where is your hope? Is it in someone or something that might disappoint or is it in the unmovable and unchanging God? I’m currently reading through the Bible using the R. M. M’Cheyne reading plan which will take me through the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice. I’m not doing this because I want to check a box everyday but because I want to know the God that I serve. I want to live in the knowledge of him so that I can honestly say, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I’m not certian of anthing this 2021 except for knowing that God is the unchanging and unmovable rock I upon which I will build my life.
We are in the midst of a polarizing political season. Facebook and Twitter are full of very angry people trying to convince others to agree with them, or more often crititizing those who don't agree with them. People shout and yell then they feel good when they get likes and shares which bolsters their viewpoint. They forget that the platforms’ algorithms show users what they want to see which causes further polarization. I make a habit of following others whom I do not agree with in order to get a broader perspective of the issues. I constantly go back to God’s Word as my foundational belief before proceeding with any belief.
Although this has been a long time concern, I have been noticing it growing increasingly worse. Individuals who may agree with a group on an issue are being attacked for not being zealous enough or for deviating from the party line. The concern is that these people who feel marganilized and attacked will fail to participate in the voting process at all.
Based on the conversations I’ve had with many people lately I’ve compiled a list of things that make me say, “You lost me,” when I see your political post. These are things that make my respect for people’s viewpoints diminish and weakens future ideas you promote. Please read these and share if you agree. I don’t think I’m alone here. You lost me when . . .
So what can you do to persuade others to agree with you? Well, in all honesty, in some cases, nothing. Some people, despite your best efforts and the best arguments, will never agree with you. So don’t waste your time arguing with them. Move on. If you have to get along with them because they are a co-worker, neighbor, family member, etc. find common ground and meet them there. However, there are people searching for answers and looking for direction. Here are some ways that you can influence them.
So, there it is. I have been purposefully vague regarding specific candidates. My purpose in discussing politics isn’t to debate the 2020 election but to encourage others, particularly believers in Christ to do so with compassion and critical thinking. Now more than ever it is important to be a light in the darkness of this fallen world.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."