Living a Ten-Talents-Plus Life — Dianne Barker here with encouragement for your day. Recently I wrote about the parable of the talents—such a familiar story that I sometimes trivialize its impact. Reading the story again (Matthew 25:14-30) gave me fresh inspiration to live a ten-talents-plus life. Read More →
The Gargoyles of Life
by Mary Tatem
We parked in a mall parking garage that overlooked a cathedral. From this viewpoint we could see that the decorative curlicues on the tall towers were not shaped like the gargoyles of European Cathedrals. Gargoyles are an architectural term for decorations of long-necked animal heads or ugly human ones built into a structure to ward off evil spirits or, more practically, drain the water running off the roof away from the mortar of the building to ward off deterioration. The name sounds as strange as these appendages to the churches look. The concrete decorations we viewed from our parking place curved upward reminding us of an ancient belief that evil spirits would slide down the roof, encounter the curve, and fly away from the structure instead of entering it.
We don’t think much about the superstitions of gargoyles in our day. Yet, what kind of gargoyles do we unconsciously build into our thinking to ward off the evils of our world, whether physical or spiritual. As kids, we joked that to step on a crack was to break our mother’s back. We laughingly said breaking a mirror brought bad luck. We entered buildings that skipped a thirteenth floor. Human nature tends to hope that outward actions will provide protection and win favor. If we pray enough, read the Bible enough, go to church without fail, we might be okay. But who decides what is enough? Prayer, Bible reading and church attendance are all beneficial, but we don’t earn God’s protection. Instead, we cherish our inward relationship with God. We don’t earn His favor. God gives it. Our protection from the evils of the seen and unseen world doesn’t lie in outward rituals we perform or objects we construct around us. It is in building our lives and our thinking processes around Jesus, and acknowledging the authority of Jesus and the love of God that bring us peace. In a dangerous world, we grow in putting our trust in His goodness and grace as we bask in the love of God. Take courage. God is a superb protector. He delights to surrounds writers, editors, publishers with his protection. Thank you God for blowing your breathe on the publishing business.
Hello from Kathy Collard Miller in the desert of Southern California where we are enjoying the most perfect time of year, besides the beautiful Fall. Enjoy my latest story.
My husband, Larry, and I met because I was lost. Now we’ve been married 46 years.
It was my senior year of high school. The water polo team for my school, Downey High School in Downey, California, was going to be playing in the state championship. I’d never been to a water polo game but my friend and neighbor, Margie Tweedie, thought it would be fun to see one.
Margie and I rode the school bus to a distant school which had a huge indoor pool. Since it was a championship game, lots of people came from many schools, and after Margie and I exited the bus, we joined a mass of kids and adults trying to make our way into the pool arena area.
Before I knew it, I was lost. Well, only in the sense I suddenly looked around and couldn’t see Margie anywhere. Where has she gone? How did I become separated from her? I can’t see her anywhere.
As I looked around searching for her, I saw someone I knew. It was Frank Dawson from the Episcopal church I attended. Oh, good, someone I know. I’ll talk to him.
I went over to him and said hi when I realized the Cute Guy standing next to him was a friend of Frank’s. Frank introduced me to the Cute Guy as Larry. OK, Cute Guy has a name. Good. Larry and Frank explained to me they were both on the water polo team at Warren High school, the other high school in Downey. Warren High and my school were rivals.
After chatting a while, Margie still hadn’t appeared in the mass of humanity, so when everyone started migrating to sit down, it just felt natural for the three of us to climb up the bleachers together. I found myself sitting next to Larry and I quickly hatched my plan. Since I’d never been to a water polo game, I put 2 and 2 together:
2: keep Larry’s attention
2: ask him questions about water polo
4: make Larry want to ask me for a date.
I’m a good question-asker. I’m a very good question-asker. And I proceeded to literally ask questions the whole game—about water polo and about his life. I knew I was being successful because he seemed to thoroughly enjoy my interest in him. I just knew we’d reach 4!
When the game ended (I can’t remember who won but Larry remembers), we climbed down from the bleachers and the magic moment arrived for 4! Larry turned to me and I knew the magic words would come out of his mouth: “I’d love to see you again. What’s your telephone number?”
Instead, he said, “Thanks for the nice time. See you.”
I weakly replied, “See you.” I felt the blood drain from my face.
Wait! Where was the 4? I was so dismayed and disappointed. Yes, that’s just like you, Kathy. You always get the fish on the hook, but he jumps off.
I didn’t know until later (yes, obviously, Larry did call and ask for a date later) that he was afraid to ask me for a date right then in front of Frank. He didn’t want to be embarrassed if I told him no. Hello! I had just paid rapt attention to him for several hours! And he thought I wasn’t interested?!
I had lots to learn about understanding a man–and 46 years of marriage later, I think I understand his motivation some of the time.
I’m so glad I got lost in that crowd. I’d like to tell Margie the result but I can’t find her. Wouldn’t that be fun to tell her?
I didn’t know it but God was arranging our meeting all along. Although I knew I was lost in that crowd at the water polo game, I didn’t know I was spiritually lost. I attended church and thought I was a Christian because I was trying to become perfect so that God could love me. I wasn’t assured of going to heaven–I thought I could only find out after I died if my good deeds had earned enough favor with God for Him to love me.
But because I was lost in that crowd, separated from Margie, I met Larry. I started dating him, attended his church, and I heard the clear message there that I didn’t need to earn my way into heaven. Jesus’ death on the cross and spilling His blood to cover my sin was sufficient for me to be accepted by God. But I did need to receive Him as my Savior and Lord. And I could be assured of going to heaven. Talk about the lost being found!
Psalm 119:176 describes me at that water polo game: “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.” (NIV). How fascinating that the Psalmist says, “God, seek me!” It’s God’s work.
Kathy’s recent book.
We met because I was lost. That applies to Larry in my life and that applies to God in my life. I hope you can look and recount multiple times when hindsight reveals God was working in you all along. If you haven’t recognized it lately, ask God to reveal how He has been seeking your attention. I guarantee He has.
Hello from Kathy Collard Miller in the Southern California desert near Palm Springs where our perfect weather has begun.
How do you envision spiritual growth? Most of us think of it visually like a linear time line. On the left side of the line we make a step of progress and the temptation seems to be behind us and we won’t address it again. We have moved along that line to the right and we’ll only encounter new challenges—not old ones.
But that’s not an accurate visual of change. Change is more like a spiral. Let’s call it a whirlpool. We’re going around and around in life and every time we reach a certain situation or person, there’s a rock, representing a sinful strategy that hits us, tempting us to behave badly. If we think there are no rocks (as if they are behind us in a time line), we’ll be surprised and unaware of their approach. Read More →
Mary’s Monday Musings to Quilt Encouragement — Lily Pads
The lake teamed with life, both plant and animal life. The interesting view of varied grasses punctuated with groups of lily pads called for us to sit and enjoy the scene. We spotted a crane land and watched him fish for his breakfast. We heard his rasping call. Every morning the large white lily blooms opened to greet me when I slipped past sleeping family and out the door to enjoy the scene. Every evening they closed their petals into a ball resting upon its wide green leaf. The lilies on the pond flourished. A few of our party wove a kayak around the grasses and among the lilies for a close up view of the frogs that leaped from pad to pad. The water lilies were larger than any I’d seen before. The water lilies routine was implanted in their cells. They opened and closed with the sun.
We can take a lesson from the lily. Are we pushing ourselves too hard and missing the rhythm of rest that our cells need? With the invention of electric lights, the temptation is to go, go, go cheating ourselves of proper rest. God has a rhythm for us that replenishes and allows us to greet each morning with the bloom of refreshment. Regardless of deadlines, daily rest and refreshing helps our creative juices to thrive.