Sunny Pathway

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Exploring the Blogosphere?

The blogging world seems somewhat slow this week. Is it my imagination? Or perhaps the combination of the Memorial Day weekend and the onset of summer? Whether real or imagined, I’m going to take advantage of the lull by mentioning a mistake I made last week—a mistake made when I wrote in the middle of the night on May 19. I mixed up the names of two blogs—and anyone following through would have been confused.

Because the mistake concerned a blog, I’m going to highlight not only the two of interest—but a few more that I didn’t get to last time around. If you’re interested in looking these up, go to the sidebar on the left where you’ll see a segment titled, Links and Blogs I Visit. Scroll down to the title that interests you and click.

So, on May 19 I mentioned Yesterday, Today, and Forever—and said it would be a joy to anyone with ties to agriculture. Wrong blog. While Yesterday, Today and Forever could bless someone connected to the farm community, farming is not part of its content. I meant to direct readers to Getting Down with Jesus. (The mistake has been corrected in the posting.)

Getting Down with Jesus comes from a gal who’s worked professionally as a reporter for a major newspaper. She and her husband left it the city to return to his family’s farm—where they worship at a local country church with their two young girls. She has a gentle spirit that probes interesting ideas. And she’s an excellent writer.

(I’m not sure if I just stumbled on this track, but it seems many of the bloggers I visit are young stay-at-home mothers. For some of them, blogging is a way to connect with the outside world. It also offers a place to write creatively.)

The blog I mentioned by mistake—and which I’d planned to bring up next month—seems unique to me because the lady’s children are adults—and she has grandchildren. Someone I can identify with. Although I’m quite sure she’s not as old as I am, she’s above the norm age-wise, and I appreciate that.

That’s why I’ve found her format so amazing. My approach is to keep everything as simple as possible. She’s rather complex—but I’m getting better at finding my way around. To find her original material I have to click stuff and the learning curve keeps presenting itself. Let me just say, I enjoy it when I do. Of additional interest on the site are her ties to her homeland and her translations of German hymns. So I keep learning new things on several fronts.

If you’re looking for something short to pick you up, try Today’s Inspiration. These posts (by a fellow this time) can also be received via email—the easy way to do things—and his morning offerings have been exactly what I needed on more than one occasion.

Yvette from A Journey Through His Garden posts only occasionally, but when she does, she’s worth reading. She’s also adjusted to a different country, and she includes stories about her family. Then, there’s her poetry.

On a totally different track, Conversation in Faith is written by a veterinarian with a wealth of material on medical issues. This is pure information. She’s been covering ramifications of health-related scenarios. I’ve not kept up, but I keep going back when I can because I find her material—as well as the many links she provides—helpful and interesting.

Finally, this time around I want to mention Tiffany Ann Lewis. My link takes you to her website. However, I’m highlighting her now because her recent Monthly Manna offered such a beautiful picture of God’s grace. To make sure I don’t miss this monthly material, I’ve subscribed to it by email as well.

Blessings—and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Losing Ourselves for Something Bigger

Watermelons cost less than $3.00 at a local store on Friday, the day before Memorial Day weekend, and I purchased one. As I made my way through the checkout, the gal at the till let me know I could leave it in the cart. Then, Sure will be glad when this weekend is over, she declared. Everyone’s getting pop and watermelon.

For her, Memorial Day means problematic shoppers. I don’t blame her. She didn’t experience my history. But, at the risk of sounding like a tired, old-lady—which I often am—let me share something from my past. And make an observation.

I don’t remember my first parade, but I suspect the most vivid memories are from 1946 or '47. A group carrying rifles led the way in dark blue uniforms. They marched in step but not with precision.

Then four military men in varied uniforms carried flags—the only sound the shuffle of feet on asphalt while people saluted as they passed.

Then the men from World War I, also in dark blue, with Doc Elliot—a congenial fellow—as drill sergeant. But on Memorial Day he didn’t smile. His command was comprised of middle-aged men, out of shape and out of practice. I can see their sober faces.

And then the young men straight from the European and Asian arenas of World War II. Royce Peterson, a huge softie, gave commands to the human machines that made up this group. Every gun at an angle identical to the one next to it, every arm and leg movement perfectly synchronized—khaki uniforms with white embellishments performing as one. Why do tears come when I remember?

On any other day, these were the casual people of my hometown. People I knew. In a few years I’d babysit for Royce and Jeanette’s children.

Years later the Peterson’s oldest son Bill would write for National Geographic and make a reference to the Memorial Day parades of his childhood. (Life in Rural America, 1974, p. 10) He could not have witnessed his father in the full vigor of a just-returned veteran—he mentions the parades as lazy events of his childhood. But he felt their importance enough to include them. I find that interesting. He went on to criticize our government’s failure to protect Appalachia.

I wasn’t offended by his views. I’m not offended by a checkout gal who thinks of Memorial Day as a trial. I don’t really long for a past that is gone. And although we’re in a conflict—or war—or whatever you want to call it that I believe is equally as serious as World War II, I wish it would go away. Don't we all?

But what disturbs me most is our loss of purpose—our lost sense of identity. I know anyone can say as much, but I want to add that observation I alluded to earlier.

Please understand that, contrary to what some might say, no one thought our country was perfect during or after World War II. People complained about the government then, too. I remember the conversations. And they weren’t expecting a perfect country in the future.

What they had was a vision of something bigger that our country. In fact, when the American GI’s fought, they didn't fight for America. Some fought simply because they were drafted. But at the same time, the concept of decency, the value of human life, the importance of freedom loomed large. And to a greater or lesser degree, they fought against evil.

I love my country, my nation. I think the United States of America is the best place in the world to live—after all, it’s the destination of choice for the displaced people of the world. I also think that if we focus on saving our nation, we’ll become self-serving and somehow lose it.

Jesus said, For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? (Mt. 16:25,26 NLT) The principle holds true at every level.

A fairly popular saying made the rounds a few years ago: The family that prays together, stays together. People rallied to the cry and the family as we know it began its demise.

When we try to save ourselves, we become self-focused and self-serving. Saving a country—like like saving a family—like saving an individual—depends on losing sight of personal gain for something bigger, something more important.

But how do we focus on something bigger? We have to be discreet. Prayer makes a difference. But perhaps we need to rethink our motives when we pray—for individuals, for families, and for country.

I’ve prayed for our nation off-and-on ever since becoming a Christian. I've prayed for blessings, protection, wise leadership, etc.—certainly prayers in line with God's Will.

Or are they? I've recently begun to rethink some things. Even when praying for a move of God, I thought it important because our nation needed it. This is subtle, but I was praying self-centered and self-serving prayers for my good, for my country's good. It was all about me, me, me, me, me. And, we, we, we, we, we.

Is God simply part of an equation? Or should He be the center of my focus? What should I pray regarding our nation if I focus on Him? If He’s the center, and if our nation and other nations simply revolve around His plan, would that change my prayers?

Rhetorical questions to bring home the point that we need purified motives. We need to pray for His Will—and then we can ask Him to bring about His plans for mankind.

When we do, our country will probably be blessed, but that won’t be the issue.

It’s time to forget about ourselves and to lose ourselves in something bigger. Bigger than problematic shoppers and memories of the past, bigger than whatever stands in the way of seeking God.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

God's Soil

In August of 1966, Ken and I moved our family from the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park to Phoenix. The reason had nothing to do with climate or spiritual growth—but with completing college. Although we both came from educated families, we had elected to drop out of formal schooling. That shouldn’t be an element of self-esteem, but for us it was. He tried to go back at one point on a part-time basis but we actually had three babies at the time—aged 4 months to three years. I tried to work part-time, too—we needed money to live—but we couldn’t keep it up.

So two and one-half years later, when they were five, four, and two, he answered an ad for a job that offered a great deal of overtime—meaning that as the children grew we’d be able to save money. The plan was to finish college and return home in five years.

Now this blog posting is not going to be about our time in Phoenix. Just included that for a bit of human interest. It will also introduce the concept of soil—one of the first things we noticed about our new city was the dirt. It wasn’t black but red!

Ken had traveled a bit when in the Navy, had been exposed to the world. I’d been as far east as central Wisconsin, as far south as Des Moines, and as far west as Fargo—with a brief excursion to Montana with a youth group during which I really hadn’t noticed the soil.

At any rate, I marveled over the red dirt. It seemed impossible that anything would grow in it—but we had a cactus garden in the house we rented and our grass was green. When we purchased a home, we planted an olive tree, a plum tree, two apricot trees, a carob tree, three junipers, five dwarf natal plums, roses, a hibiscus, and two pittosporum. Along the front of the house, everything was exceedingly small—we were watching pennies—but roses grow quickly in Phoenix so they filled-in for a season.

People assured us everything would grow and it did! In fact, they flourished, and the hibiscus became my favorite—its bright red flowers bloomed throughout the hot summer when nothing else would. Thirty years later we had an hibiscus tree with red flowers in our home that lasted several years—compliments of daughter-in-law Patty. During the summers, I moved it to our deck, as pictured here. I loved it, in part, because it reminded me of that second home which I grew to love so much.

Recently, while in Custer, I picked up a placemat in a restaurant that featured soil—i.e., dirt. So interesting. Of course, one of the things it mentioned is that some soil is red. It also identified soil as a natural resource.

Anyone who thought about it would have known it was so—but I hadn’t thought about it and found it interesting. And because it’s my inclination to think along these lines, I thought about the stories Jesus told that included soil. The ESV translation of Matthew 13:8 reads, Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Other passages use the word ground, but I think we can safely assume that word also refers to soil.

Jesus grew up and lived in a rural setting, familiar with soil and it’s properties. He knew some was better than others. Some simply needed working or cultivation. And he compares us to soil.

Here are some interesting facts about soil taken from the placemat: cotton grows in soil, we build on soil, soil is fun, roots need soil, we depend on soil, worms live in soil, soil has minerals, soil filters water, wells are in soil, soil has texture, baseball is played on soil, soil feeds the world. In addition, from the same list, we should prevent soil erosion, protect our soil, and keep soil pollution free. (National Association of Conservation Districts,

So, do we appreciate the wealth of our life in Christ—the life He planted in the soil of our being? And what are we doing to prevent erosion of our spiritual resources, to protect our walk with God, to keep our lives free from pollution?

In a way, I hate to make the spiritual applications, because the thrill of enjoying God’s provision thrills me. But it seems appropriate.

As for our family, we saved like crazy, Ken graduated from college while I did odd jobs to help (my degree came many years later.) Phoenix is where I finally entered into salvation and where many other exciting spiritual events occurred in our lives.

As for our home and plantings, the plantings did much to help us sell. And as for coming home, Ken grew up in the northeast corner of South Dakota, I grew up in west-central Minnesota, and we moved to the southeast corner of North Dakota—home.

We stayed in Phoenix a total of eight years—until August of 1974. Our impetus for moving at that time was a surprise fourth pregnancy. Wouldn’t do for one of ours to have roots outside the Midwest.

Life has it’s troubling times, but it is also very, very good. Wherever God plants us, we live on His soil so our life has incredible value. It’s a miracle. Furthermore, He’s worked in our hearts to produce His life—He’s creating us into good soil, too! And that, my friends, is another miracle.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blogging in the Middle of the Night

At the time of my last posting on this site, I had a head cold; it’s since dropped into my chest. Ken took me to the walk-in clinic Sunday where a doctor prescribed medication and, while washing my face tonight (Monday), I realized I have a rash rather than the flush I thought I'd observed earlier, a sign of an allergic reaction. Since then it’s spread to my arms, and my legs are beginning to itch. I’m actually afraid to go to sleep for fear of breathing problems so decided I’d try writing. Unable to come up with original ideas on my own, I'll do something I've been meaning to do for some time: mention a few wonderful blogs—knowing I’ll have to check whatever I say in the morning to see how it reads.

Morning—The rash is subsiding and I didn't take any more medication. I’m feeling better but waiting for a call from my doctor. I know I’ll be okay—but desperately need the energy to clean a dirty house! What I wrote makes sense and I'm going with it:

Mentioning a few blogs: After posting on Darwinian evolution on May 14, I read a May 17 post by Jennifer at Conversion Diary and I loved her approach—totally different than mine—actually enticing. I was less than thrilled with her May 18 post, but can’t let that stop me from highlighting what truly inspired me.

I especially want to highlight the work of my friend Cindy at cindyhan 111—who lives right here in Fargo!—even if I might have mentioned her before. Cindy is a poet who has many other things going in her life. Her blog took off like wildfire—something I found interesting when so many say they don’t like poetry. Cindy’s work is accessible and fresh. The most remarkable thing about Cindy is a relationship with God that draws people in rather than scares them away. She has a freedom that welcomes people of all spiritual persuasions.

Then, I've added a few blogs to my blogroll and also want to highlight the following: Be About Your Father’s Business is always insightful and challenging. Family Fountain contains much good teaching from a pastor’s heart. Larry Who takes you on a wild ride, and he tells an exciting story. It's interesting to hear how God moves in different people's lives. Getting Down With Jesus will be a joy to anyone with ties to agriculture, i.e., farming—although that alone wouldn’t hold me—it’s so much more.

Taking pictures for blogs is still my nemesis. I use three a week for Thoughts for Inspiration, most of them shot by members of my beleagured family. The posting today is about God’s faithfulness based on His Word to Noah after the flood. He promises that seasons of planting and harvesting will never cease. A helpful promise when faced by flooding and a late spring planting season. I’d planned to feature a picture of apple blossom buds—and because I wasn't feeling well, asked Ken to take a picture of a tree at church on Sunday morning. But, I wasn’t involved in his departure that morning and he forgot the camera. He suggested taking a detour on the way back from the walk-in clinic that afternoon, but I wasn’t up to a detour at that point.

I forgot all about it until around 9:30 (still Monday in my world at the time of this writing), so then I asked him to take a picture of a budding tree in our condo yard. Although the sun had set, he obliged—pretty neat fellow, don’t you think. Because dark was advancing, he used a flash—and took a picture with the afterglow in the background. I found it so interesting and ended up printing the entire picture rather than cropping it. I wanted to feature the afterglow as much as the tree! And I’m sharing the cropped version in this blog.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Theories of Creation, a Matter of Faith

Today I’m going to address a topic on which I’m not well-informed—but one on which I have a strong opinion. Doesn’t sound promising, does it?

Let me share a bit of history. In 1981 I took an undergrad class in cell biology. During the semester, the professor attended a seminar conducted by a grand-daughter of Dr. Louis Leaky. My professor was impressed, and when he returned he announced that in ten years Darwinian evolution would be a proven fact. Now, he was a man I knew and respected, but I had to take issue. I told him I’d remind him of his statement in ten years.

I didn’t have the heart to say anything when I last saw him about three years ago. That would have been unfriendly.

What's happened in me is that I rarely think of the subject any more. But the May issue of Christianity Today ran an article on St. Augustine of Hippo and the Biblical account of creation. It appears the theory was a hot topic in the fourth and fifth century. Augustine wrestled with this very topic throughout his career. Why do I find this funny? Perhaps it’s that human nature is consistent—some things never change.

Augustine’s thoughts intrigued me. He believed God created the world in one instant or moment—but that this created world had embedded within it the capacity to change or develop—or evolve. He compared it to a seed which is complete—but which contains the blueprint for something seemingly different. In other words, various forms of life could emerge.

Augustine addressed the topic in part because he didn’t want the church to latch onto a secular theory that rejected the Biblical account. So he accepted the creation story literally—but identified concepts differently. And, as one might expect, his ideas came against those who did reject the Biblical story outright—Caesar’s personal physician, for example.

There were other tenets—also interesting--but I don’t want to suggest I am on Augustine's bandwagon, either. I know I don’t have a scientific mind, but I can think—sometimes rather clearly. Rather than put together an argument of sorts, I want to share a few observations.

Darwinian evolution—a theory that insists upon random selection—hasn’t been conclusively proven. In fact, according to material I’ve seen here and there, recent discoveries are problematic for scientists promoting Darwinian evolution. Yet those who believe the theory object adamantly to revisiting their conclusions. To support their ideas they come up with additional fictious possibilities based on their yet unproven theories.

People who compare today’s church with the church of Galileo’s time don’t want to acknowledge the change in the church’s influence. In reality, the church today is not regarded highly enough to impact scientific controversy. Any suggestions that the church is exerting undue influence doesn’t work. But there is a group which can police scientific discovery: the education system and its network. They have the power to suppress independent scientific data.

When someone discusses Darwinian evolution and tries to find out what another has to say on the subject, they rarely talk in terms of what a person thinks. It’s almost always turns into what the other person believes. Because beliefs are linked to faith, asking someone what they believe recognizes the tenuous nature of the subject. Accepting Darwinian evolution requires leaps of faith as broad or broader than accepting most of the Bible-based theories on creation.

I’m not interested in proving the world was created in six 24-hour days or, if you prefer, six extended periods of time—but one day I realized I could apply faith to the problem. The Bible says, without faith it is impossible to please him [God]. . . . (Heb. 11:6 ESV) If someone proves that God created the world, the possibility of a faith response is lost. We’re in no danger of someone proving anything about the earth’s creation. It’s beyond human understanding. Not that it shouldn’t be studied.

Accepting Biblical creation—believing God created— gives us one more opportunity to reach out and receive Him in faith. I think He experiences joy when we think things through, understand our options, and choose Him.

I am interested, however, in resisting Darwinian evolutionists who insist they have a corner on reality. They choose to believe the theories they prefer—just as I choose to believe the theories I prefer. Claims for anything else are silly because they haven’t proven random selection. It’s a theory.

A theory!

A theory with far-reaching implications. If Darwinian evolution is true, we lose the sacred nature of human life—of all life—and even of our planet or any other physical bit of creation.

Darwinian evolution is also a theory that’s lost its moorings. I suspect much of the current noise on the subject comes because they are running scared—trying to cover up their shaky foundation. And their insistence on pushing random selection is contrary to honest intellectual pursuits.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Where, O death, Is your Sting?"

Ken and I made a trip to Custer, South Dakota, for a funeral this weekend. It was a fairly hard trip physically—we left as soon as we could on Friday (not until noon, later than we’d hoped), traveled through rain, and didn't arrive until almost 10:00 PM. We left early Sunday morning, did a bit of sightseeing on the way, decided we couldn't handle another night in a strange bed, and arrived home about 9:30 PM last night.

So all day I’ve struggled off and on: should I write about the trip—we did drive the Needles Highway, took a sidetrip through the Badlands, saw wildlife, viewed South Dakota's state capital building, and drove through Hubert Humphrey's home town. Or should I write about the funeral—a huge topic because it involved people I care about. The man who died was a cousin’s husband. She is just a few years older than I am, not really an older sister but someone important to me.

I’ve hesitated only because I don’t want to violate her or her family’s privacy. And yet, this funeral was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen, an event in need of focus and comment. And for that reason, I'm going ahead.

They married young—she just out of nurse’s training, living in Minneapolis, and he just out of the military where he'd finished duty in St. Paul. He from the southeast and a culture different than that of rural Minnesota. She, off the farm, trained to be a supportive wife. He had opinions while she’d learned the Norwegian art of reserve.

She was important to me as a kid and, later, as a young adult. After they were married, Ken and I were engaged and attending school in Minneapolis. Because my mother had died earlier, my cousin more or less schooled me about things I need to know. I spent time with them. But then they moved and we moved. They had children and we had children. They were busy and we were busy. And so, our relationships became a sporadic, long-distance relationships.

Somewhere along the line, God entered the picture and I needed my older cousin for support. Although I didn’t know exactly where she was spiritually, I felt I could share my experience with her. And she understood! She received my testimony with joy even though my spiritual walk was a bit different than hers.

Where was her husband in all this? I occasionally wondered, but he wasn't someone I could confront. Two years ago I wanted to visit them so we worked it into another family trip by spending a couple of nights in their Black Hills cabin-home. Although I didn’t quiz him on the subject, and although I can’t offer a concrete reason why, I came away knowing he walked with God.

In his search to live rightly, he turned to God and was greatly altered. God had produced fruit in his life. I wanted to emulate his total transparency.

With the help of hospice, she took care of him at home. One day he told her with a sense of wonder, I can plan my funeral. So he did. For music he selected Beautiful Savior; Come Ye Disconsolate; Blessed Assurance; Precious Lord, Take My Hand; and Amazing Grace. Just before the close of the service, one of his grandsons sang the Irish Blessing.

At the end, he held on until a sister could make a final visit. His children gathered to say good-bye and share their love. He had no pain.

In a gathering in the reception hall of the church after the funeral, the children shared stories that revealed their dad’s changes through the years. We laughed and my cousin was beautiful in her joy over God’s dealings and provision—and in her loss. Because the loss is real.

When extended family gathered in the home later, she told me that during a lengthy stay in a motel when he received out-patient treatment for his specific cancer, they experienced tender unity. One night she said to him, This has actually been a sweet time.

He said, It's been like a second honeymoon.

I felt they gave everyone who knew them a testimony of how to live in the face of death. We can’t plan to experience no pain. That was a unique blessing. But the Holy Spirit blessed them with great faith in the love of Jesus. As my cousin also said, Death is the final and ultimate healing. What more can we ask.

I don't want to close without giving thanks to those who told me they prayed for us. Although tired, we made it without incident. Also, on Saturday, the day of the funeral, I felt God helped me and blessed me at key times. So thanks.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory. "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (I Cor. 15:54-55 NIV)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

God's Creation

Yesterday I had a Remicade infusion to treat rheumatoid arthritis—something that happens once every eight weeks. Ken felt like making the trip with me. For one thing, he was interested in seeing river levels in the Red River Valley after the flooding earlier this spring—so he did the driving.

The trip between Fargo and Grand Forks isn’t exciting—the terrain is flat. Really flat. And while flooding is still issue for some of the smaller cities to the west, the only evidence of flooding that we saw was just north of Fargo—where I29 crosses the Sheyenne River by a hamlet called Harwood.

National newscasters do not understand the nature of overland flooding. Not all flooding in North Dakota came from rivers. When deep snow melts quickly—and when the soil is saturated from heavy fall rains—the water can’t soak in. It has no place to go except into the next field. Waters from fields flow downward and join until they rise above the roads and then the state highways and then the freeways. It eventually reaches rivers, but damage often occurs before it gets there.

Such was the nature of much of the flooding in our Red River Valley and by Harwood. There is a small river, but most of the water traveled overland to get to it. And although water no longer covered the freeway yesterday, it ran freely in the deep ditches. We were good citizens throughout the crisis, so this was our only view and we were impressed. Yet, I admit imagination based on prior experience is necessary to envision miles and miles of water deep enough to flow over the freeway—a foot or more over the freeway.

On the way home, I forgot about floods and looked at the sky. When the land is flat, skyscapes often grab a viewer’s attention. After a long, long winter and a gray, gray spring, yesterday’s sky was a glorious treat.

I had the camera with me because I planned to take a picture of daffodils in our daughter-in-law’s garden when we came back to Fargo—which we did. Jesus said, Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Mt. 6:28b,29 ESV) I’ll be using a picture of the daffodils within the next week for the Thoughts for Inspiration blog, but here’s a preview. Aren’t they lovely?

But when looking at the sky, I remembered that I had the camera and I decided to expand my subject matter. In my amateur way, I think I took some awesome pictures. Truly, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Ps. 19:1 ESV)

Without intending to, I captured some of the expanse we live in. The wide open spaces. It looks bleak and barren right now. Not so. This summer the fields will reflect the farmer's planning and hard work. Our soil is some of the best!

Ken and I will be leaving tomorrow for a funeral on Saturday. We should be home Sunday or Monday. If you are a praying person, we’d appreciate prayer for the journey. Blessings. Have a great Mother’s Day.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Blessed by some Young Debs

Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, break out in a song! (Judges 5:12a ESV)

Last Saturday I traveled 70 plus miles to Minnesota lake country. There I attended an afternoon and evening conference hosted by Firestarters, a group we had fellowshipped with when we lived in lake country ourselves from 1999 to 2003. They were a youth group then—most in high school.

Now they’re young adults. Many married and some with children.

This was a conference for gals—Young Debs between the ages of 16 and 35. I knew the focus would be worship—the signature message of Firestarters’s. I didn’t know it would be worship through the arts.

Now, just a week ago I’d gone to a poetry workshop in Fargo. It was interesting—but I came home depleted. Although the intent was to encourage aspiring poets, I felt discouraged.

To think that God knew ahead that the two Saturdays were a unit. The young Firestarters brought teaching as good as I’ve heard. This Saturday I came away inspired, energized. I’ll provide just a glimpse of one specific teaching below.

In it entirity, the focus was tapping into God’s creativity: whether in writing, in the visual arts, in music, in dance, or even in prayer. I wanted to take pictures of each of the gals as they presented their material, but I couldn’t make myself do anything that would distract from the message.

They weren't overly impressed by themselves, however. There were breaks—some to practice what we learned. But there was a silly break, too. Approximately one hundred young gals (I was included only because of my long-time association with Firestarters) divided into groups of ten to eight. Then each group selected one member to dress as a Deborah, using newsprint and TP—to compete for a prize.

I'm sharing this because that's when I took my one and only picture!

When the final message closed, I realized I wasn't tired. Interesting, because I was so sure I'd be tired as I had been the week before. I planned to stay overnight with a friend.

Instead, as the miles passed on my way home, I didn’t sing or engage in obvious praer. I simply rested in the soft, gentle, explosive Presence that filled the car. Resting with Him in total confidence was the final blessing on a powerful day.

Teaching Tidbit: In Writing by the Spirit, a young woman named Heidi said we write from the body, the soul, or the spirit. None of these are necessarily bad. Writing from the body concerns secular work—the type she does for the local paper that employs her as a reporter. I did it for years with a farm paper. The concern is clarity, volume, and time—meeting deadlines.

Writing from the soul releases emotions. Much poetry stems from the soul—that had been the focus a week earlier. I have no problem with poetry that reflects the ecstasy or agony of the soul, but I don’t want to live there.

Writing from the Spirit comes from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This teaching—fairly early in the afternoon—turned me on and tuned me in. I knew I was where God wanted me.