Created to Be Creative!

by Tamara Glasner

In the beginning…God Created!

He loves His creation and we are made in His image and after Him we create.

We create to bring him glory.

From the time our children were very young, we could see the joy and laughter that came as they ventured out creatively. Everything from play-dough sculptures, paper cut-out flowers arrangements, beautiful little songs, to after dinner musical productions (and the list goes on!)

We didn’t realize that these early years of having fun were the foundation for a lifetime of gifts that would bless our children’s future work, education, relationships, and spirits.

Creativity is a fragile thing. One must carefully guide little ones as they are learning how to play and how to create. God gave us the most beautiful textbook on learning. It’s called the Bible. We can learn His ways and His desires as we create, following His example as the Master Artist.

What so ever things are lovely…..

I praise you…

The joy of the Lord…

By focusing on the lovely, on praise, and on joy, we can make a huge impact on the world. This doesn’t mean we shy away from pain. But it does mean we strive for our creative efforts to encourage others to emulate what God says we should emulate. It means we embrace and seek after the ‘sanctified imagination.’

Cultivating Godly Creativity

When our girls were young, we spent a lot of time ‘playing with them.’ It was important to help promote ‘thinking outside the box’ that honored God.

As parents, sometimes we need to get the ball rolling. As your children get the hang of it they will need you less and less. There are tons of great examples for prompting creativity, whether in play or the arts.

Here are a few examples:

  • Pretend your living room is a ship, or perhaps a fort or a cave. Make up a fun and exciting story and get the kids to build structures with pillows, blankets etc. to make it seem real! You start the story, but let your kids finish it. Teach them what is an acceptable story line (or not) so that their creative thoughts and ideas are centered on the the right things.
  • Encourage your little ones to compose a song or paint a painting of something that makes them happy.
  • Ask one to make a special Italian sauce to go with the hamburger meat in the fridge. Maybe ask them to make a something that accompanies what they may be studying….(flatbread from the Mediterranean, Great Depression-era desserts, etc.)

The Power of a Prompt

Lawrence, my husband, was a natural storyteller and would tell bedtime stories that were simple and funny. To this day, the girls can retell many of these tales with joy and laughter. This was an important example to them how to think of a story on their own.

Prompting your children and leading by example are very valuable tools in the creative arts. As little ones are growing and exploring ways to play, be there. Your job as a parent is to provide loving and careful guidance. You can direct your child so their behavior is edifying and life-giving and FUN.

If you do your job right, they will carry lessons learned through creative-play their entire lives! This is how future doctors, missionaries, and artists are born.

Keep Encouraging

It is a vulnerable place to share your work with others… So, make your family a SAFE place to ‘reveal’ creations, whatever medium they come in, (music, song, dance, story, poem, painting, food creations, etc.).

A safe place is one where words are carefully shared, criticism weighed before being offered, and applause given for trying, whether the outcome is the desired one or not.

As your children are embarking on their creative journeys, they will need your encouragement and applause to feel free to go for it more and more. Too much criticism can shut down the free flow and joy of the process. (We have done it both ways and regret when we are too critical or perfectionistic!)

Remember, every family is on a journey. We are always trying to find better ways to communicate and love more like Yeshua. But… we are on this journey together, and we are persistent to stay in forgiveness and champion each other above ourselves so that God will be glorified. This new year, I encourage you to commit your family’s creativity to the Lord. You will be very pleased with the results!

Racing Pigeons and Donuts

*A special holiday excerpt from The Song of the Storm Petrel, Book 3 in the Seabirds Trilogy.

Dorris squinted into the pigeon loft, a special coop for the drafted birds of the U.S. Army stationed in Townsville, Australia. “So, they are just like regular pigeons?”

“Regular pigeons!” Frank was horrified. “I mean, these girls are the athletes of the sky! Specially bred and trained.” He reached in and pulled out a gentle sleek bird. “Look how muscular she is and well-proportioned. Sure, she may come from the same family, the Columba livia or Rock Dove, as those pathetic run-of-the-mill pigeons down at the fountain, but they are altogether a better bird. These will live for twenty years. Those other birds might last three or four. It’s all in the breeding, see?”

“They look the same,” Dorris challenged. 

“Well, they aren’t.” He put the bird back, and we stood aside as he came out of the loft. “I’ve been studying.”

“I can imagine.” She looked at him squarely. “They don’t seem to mind when you hold them.”

“Pigeons like people. They are actually pretty social.”

Edie adjusted her straw hat and slipped her arm around Grace’s waist, as though she was afraid the girl would bolt at any moment. “And to think, they mate for life!”

“They do. Not like some people.” Frank’s expression was emotionless. 

Peter and I peered into the loft. It was not terribly large, not much bigger than a garden shed. But it was large enough for the fifty birds in the program. 

“So, how do you get them to race?” Peter cleared his throat. 

“It’s pretty simple. These birds have been here since they were six weeks old. They’ve been trained together, and it’s in their genes to come back to their home. They have an amazing sense of direction. We take them somewhere, release them, and they fly home.”

“How do you tell them apart?” Paul asked. Much to Frank’s disappointment, Paul had gotten yet another afternoon off.

“They wear a little rubber ring with a number on it. Whichever one makes it back first wins. We also time each of the birds so we know which ones are the strongest, fastest fliers.”

“This should to be interesting.” Dorris elbowed Grace playfully. Grace tried to look interested, but she was obviously distracted. 

Frank checked his watch. “We ought to be going. How about you all go get in the jeep with Horatio? Peter, Piper and I will follow with the birds. We’ll all meet up at the base on the top of Castle Rock.”

* * *

The drive up Castle Rock, the enormous pink granite mountain rising out of the earth in the center of town, was breathtaking. Surrounded by eight cooing pigeons in their cages, Peter couldn’t help but laugh. “Well, this certainly beats walking.”

“I thought you wanted to hike up this monolith,” I protested, remembering his words upon first laying his eyes on the mountain. 

“I take it back.” Peter looked down over the edge of the mountain. 

As we wound our way up the steep switchbacks, Frank switched on the radio. Immediately, a newscaster with a heavy Australian accent broke into the gentle birds’ songs. 

“One week ago on December 16, 1944, German forces launched a massive offensive campaign through the Ardennes region of Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. They have completely encircled and destroyed four Allied armies, and there are rumors that the Allies are willing to negotiate a peace treaty favoring the Axis.”

Peter and I shared a pained look. 

“American forces have suffered more than others, and the casualty list is higher than any other operation during the war. Between 63,000 and 98,000 men are killed, missing, wounded in action, or captured.”20

“How can they know?” I exclaimed. “I mean, so soon! It’s only been a week!”

Frank slammed his hand on the steering wheel, barely containing his rage.

“We’ll counter-attack,” Peter said firmly. “We will. You mark my words. We will. We are Americans.”

The radio announcer continued, “Disagreements between the Allied forces have caused delays in a clear response. German Panzer units…”

Frank shut off the radio, and we drove up the rest of the mountain in silence. 

We did not speak of the news as we prepared the small flock of birds for the race. But by the looks on Edie, Horatio, Grace, Lorelei, and Katrine’s faces, they too had listened to the radio on the drive over. I wanted to scream and cry. I wanted it all to end. I was infinitely finished with death. How could it go on and on? It was absurd. And the absurdity of it all was frustratingly infuriating.

One by one, we released the graceful birds off the granite rock at a set time and watched them soar back to their coop, where another birdkeeper waited to catch them and clock their arrivals. But the excitement of the race was lost. 

It was Edie who was humming under her breath, “His eye is on the sparrow.” I knew she was thinking of all our boys in the Ardennes forest, and she was reminding herself that God saw them, just as he saw our pigeons soaring over the Townsville skyline in a magnificent sunset.

“Well,” Frank said, rubbing his hands together, “that’s it. The show’s over.”

Dorris tried to smile. “Maybe we could all go to dinner? I know a great place right on the water. It’s called Longboards. They make a great hamburger.”

“That sounds good to me.” Peter nodded. 

“I could go for a hamburger,” Lorelei agreed. 

“Nothing like a riveting pigeon race to wake up the metabolism.” Edie took Horatio’s hand. “Don’t you think, so dear.”

Paul paused and took Lorelei’s hand and whispered quietly as the group made their way back to the car, “I have the night off, Lorelei. I was wondering… Maybe I could take you out. You know, something nicer than a hamburger.”

Horatio, just ahead of them and accidentally overhearing, stopped dead in his tracks. “What’s this?” He turned on his heel and looked up at Paul. “You are asking Lorelei out… to dinner?”

Paul smiled innocently and shrugged nonchalantly. 

“But you haven’t asked my permission,” he stated bluntly, rolling his brogue ‘r’s’ especially long as he stared menacingly at Paul. 

Lorelei stepped in. “Horatio, I don’t think it’s necessary. Really—

He put his hand out and stopped her. “Lorelei, you are my pseudo-adopted daughter. If a man wants to ask you out, he must go through me.”

“Sir,” Paul looked at Lorelei, “Lorelei is 28 years old. And just between us, we’ve been going out for quite some time now.”

“Is that true?” Horatio’s eyes widened in shock.

Edie rolled her eyes. “Where have you been for the last two months?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Fighting a war. Kicking the Japanese back to where they came from? And apparently, this young man’s been gallivanting about in the bush with my daughter!”

“Oh my.” Edie fanned herself and smiled. “I had no idea you were such a protective father, Horatio! I like this side of you!”

Horatio shrugged to Edie. “Just practicing for the young ones.” Then, back in character, he continued to Paul, nearly shouting, “I think I deserve an apology, young man.” 

“I’m sorry?” Paul had no idea what he was apologizing for.

“And…” Horatio waved his hand for Paul to continue.

“And…?” Paul looked at Lorelei for a clue. She looked nervous.

“And dinner is a lot more serious than coffee,” Horatio hinted.

“May I have your permission,” Paul said solemnly, “to take your sort-of daughter to dinner?”

“I’m not sure.”

Edie slapped his arm. “Horatio!”

Horatio frowned. “Oh, Edie, I’m just teasing the young lad. Well, I already know you’re an upstanding citizen and a true Christian. I can’t think of any reason off the top of my head to say no.” He looked at Lorelei. “Unless you don’t want to go.”

“I want to go.” She smiled up at Paul.

Horatio waited, enjoying the moment. “Have a lovely time, dear.” 

“I’m planning on it.” 

Paul offered his arm to Lorelei. She nodded, and arm in arm they began descending the switchbacks down the mountain.

Watching them, Edie exclaimed, “My my my, that young man reminds me of Horatio when he was young. He could be your twin! It reminds me of our old courting days, doesn’t it you, darling?”

Horatio nodded in agreement. “I definitely see the resemblance.”

“Don’t you think so dear?” Edie called to me.

“Think what?”

“That Paul looks like Horatio!”

I looked at Paul’s back. Well… if Uncle Horatio was a foot taller, clean-shaven, had more hair and a tan, and a stronger jawline… there might be a resemblance, I thought.

“So,” Dorris clapped her hands together, “how about that hamburger?”

“You all go ahead,” Katrine said. “I’m not very hungry. I’ll meet you at home. I’d like a walk myself. I need some time to think.”

* * *

Though the weather made it feel nowhere close to the holidays, Christmas was just around the corner. And despite the heat, I woke up early the next morning with a subtle desire for the familiar of Christmas’s past. I could make my mother’s Linzer cookies with spiced jam. She always made them this time of year. The problem was, I couldn’t remember how many cloves she used. Or maybe, Katrine and I could make an almond-filled stolen. That was always a crowd favorite. 

I glanced at my watch. It was 6:30 in the morning. Coffee cup in hand, I was ready for a pleasant moment of quiet spent reading my pocket Bible in the living room. But my pocket Bible was nowhere to be found. 

“Where is it?” I huffed under my breath, glancing around the room. I was sure I had left it there the morning before. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the menorah we’d made of tinfoil and wooden beads. Hanukkah this year fell right over Christmas, and we had, of course, gone to great trouble to honor both holidays in our house. But it was difficult to feel celebratory. All our thoughts and prayers were directed towards our boys on the other side of the world. 

“There it is,” I thought relieved. It sat beside the menorah and underneath a stack of books and papers scattered on the desk. 

As I moved to push the clutter aside, the writing on a page from the open notebook covering the Bible caught my eye.

Who is this Jesus?

“What’s this?” I whispered to myself, picking up the page and scanning it. 

It was Katrine’s writing. 

Findings: Obviously, there is archeological evidence for the existence of a Jewish rabbi named Yeshua who was born in the first century…  The eyewitness accounts, the sources outside of Christian scriptures… there is no doubt that Yeshua existed. The question at hand: Who was he, and why is he so important? And why do Lorelei and Piper feel so strongly about him the way that they do?

My heart started beating in my chest. Katrine had taken my challenge! And she was doing it the only way she knew how, through research. There must have been 20 library books stacked beside the desk on the floor. The notes on the page were detailed, her handwriting small and even. I assumed she had been up half the night. Carefully, I continued to read.

The Gospels are clear that Jesus was convinced he was the son of God. But did he match Messianic prophecy? 

Below that, on one side, she had begun a numbered list.

1. A descendant of Abraham? (Genesis 12:1-3)

2. The tribe of Judah? (Genesis 49:10)

3. The House of David? (2 Samuel 7:12-16)

4. Born in Bethlehem? (Micah 5:2)

5. Carried to Egypt? (Hosea 11:1)

6. Born of a Virgin? (Isaiah 7:14)

The list went on and on for several more pages. At the bottom of the list, she had written in a hand that was not as firm or as straight as before, the last lines underlined: 

The first Christians were Jews… Yeshua, Jesus, did not come to start a new religion.

I felt nervous, as though I had stumbled onto something not meant for my eyes. The books, the papers. I could feel her internal struggle, her mind’s restless wandering to find the truth. She would never find it on her own. But I knew God’s promise, “Seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be open to you.”19 

Silently, I extricated my Bible and sat down behind the desk, still looking at Katrine’s research, praying God would lead Katrine on her journey. If Katrine was looking, she would find him. If she was knocking, he would open the door. As I prayed, my thoughts turned to the day ahead. 

My notebook full of notes from the soldiers waited to be edited and expanded and cajoled into some sort of cohesive whole. The task seemed daunting, and I geared up for a morning of frustration. The pain of losing my camera and film still stung. No suitable replacement had been found and I was resigned to do without until we returned home. Where that was and when that would be was up for grabs.

And then, there was the Christmas shopping to be done. I had been assigned Grace via my aunt’s Secret Santa plan. That would, possibly, take even more work than my attempt to become a journalist.

Grace was not the easiest of my cousins to shop for. In the past, she had always been fashionable, more so than I. But now (for the most part) the new Grace stuck to trousers or shorts and blouses rolled up to the elbow. All frill and fun was gone, replaced with a sort of strict, militaristic harshness. I thought of perfume or maybe a new lipstick. But that sort of thing was so personal. A woman needed to pick out her own lipstick. Nylons were too expensive. Edie suggested a book, but Grace wasn’t much of a reader. 

However, it was in the bookstore I found it—a beautiful leather journal. It was not dissimilar from the journal my mother had given me long ago when I’d first arrived at Edie’s lighthouse the summer of ‘39. The paper felt handmade. I purchased it and a box of brand-new colored pencils. The pages, unlined, were perfect for writing or sketching. She had so much locked up inside of her… If she couldn’t share with me or her sisters, maybe she could share within the safety of a blank page.

“What do you think?” I asked, holding it up for Lorelei, who was staring off into space.

“What did you say?” The fog cleared, and she looked at me.

“What do you think? For Grace?” I tilted the journal to the side.

“I have no idea what Grace would like these days.” Absentmindedly, she backed into a stack of books on a table. They crashed to the floor and, startled, she knelt down to pick them up.

“Here,” I set the journal down, “let me help you.”

She smiled and one by one; we re-stacked the books.

“What’s going on, Lorelei? You’ve been acting awfully funny all morning. Did the date last night go badly?”

She shook her head, an indiscernible expression on her face. “Not badly…”

“What then?”

She put another book on the stack and whispered, “Oh, Piper, he asked me to marry him.”

“He didn’t!” I exclaimed.

Loudly, she shushed me and motioned for me to come closer. “Keep your voice down, please!”

I leaned in, whispering, “What did you say?”

“I couldn’t answer him. I… I didn’t know what to say!”

“You didn’t!”

She nodded. “I’m just not sure yet! Piper, this is not just something you rush into! You knew Peter for years before you married him! You knew his family, his friends. . . his life. Paul is still a mystery to me.  Everything about him and his life is foreign and strange. I feel I barely know him! And he barely knows me!” 

“Marriage is always a risk, Lorelei, and you can never fully know a person enough to safeguard against that risk. It takes time. The more you talk, the more you will learn about each other,” I offered.

She nodded. “We do talk, just not about the things I think we should talk about—like the war or my family or, oh, I don’t know. He doesn’t ask the right questions… Sometimes it seems like he doesn’t want to. It makes me nervous.”

“Sometimes you have to help people out. If there are things about you that you think Paul needs to know, you need to just tell him.”

She raised one eyebrow. “I need him to ask, Piper. I need him to know to ask on his own. What if everything in my life, all these hard years, is too much for him to handle? If that’s true, how could we be together if he doesn’t want all of me?”

I shook my head. I knew from experience that you could never expect men to know what you were thinking, even if it seemed obvious.

“But surely, you understand what I am feeling, Piper? I can’t say yes now, not without knowing if it’s the right thing.”

At that moment, Edie bounded around the corner. “All right, ladies! Tempus fugit! We’ve still four more shops to hit before closing time.”

Lorelei looked at me, silently pleading for me to keep what she’d just told me in confidence. She walked around in a daze behind Edie and me the rest of the afternoon. Later, once we made it home and began stringing popcorn, listening to Christmas music, frying up donuts, and trying our best to act festive, Lorelei sat with her bowl of popcorn and string, barely moving, not saying a word.

* * *

“How absolutely international we are,” Edie said, munching on her donut. “Christmas and Hanukkah together.”

“It’s not a bad fit really,” Katrine said thoughtfully, “Yeshua celebrated Hanukkah, and we are celebrating his birthday, even if he might not have been born on Christmas…”

I looked at Katrine surprised.

To my astonishment, she continued sharing her recent research in her usual confident, ‘teacherly’ fashion. “You know,” she said, “Jesus wasn’t a Christian at all. He was a good Jew. I never realized that.” Her tone was serious. 

Grace, not hearing what Katrine had said, began a list of complaints. “No dreidel, no latkes, no cheesecake. It doesn’t feel like Hanukkah at all. And these donuts are oily.” 

“Don’t disparage the donuts.” Horatio poured another mug of eggnog. “They may be a little ‘oily,’ but the jelly in the middle is excellent. Eight nights of donuts,” Horatio patted his stomach, “on top of whatever is coming on Christmas Eve tomorrow at the party and Christmas and New Year’s. The children won’t recognize us when we get back home, darling Edie!”

“More than likely we won’t recognize them.” Edie frowned. “Imagine how much they’ve grown, dear.” Her face fell. “The presents we sent them won’t make it in time most likely.”

“Happy thoughts, love, only happy thoughts.” Horatio brought her a mug filled to the brim with eggnog.

Lorelei smiled and said softly, “Eating oil-based foods is one way we remember what God did on the first Hanukkah after the Maccabees rebelled against the Seleucid Empire. Once they got the temple back and purified it, they needed pure olive oil for the lamps. But they couldn’t find any, except for one bowl that was sealed with the signet ring of the High Priest, all the way from the days of Samuel. That’s how they knew it was pure. There was only enough oil for one day, but God made it last eight whole days, long enough to find other pure oil for the lamps.” She took another donut. 

“Only the Jews could think of such a way to remember.” Frank smiled, “My mother made great donuts.”

“Our boys need that same oil in the Ardennes right now if they will survive the Germans, much less defeat them. If things keep going the way they are…” Peter trailed off. The Nazis, as usual, were proving a formidable enemy. He looked up. “Well, all I can say is we need a miracle.”

“A Hanukkah miracle.” Lorelei picked up the popcorn garland and began to wrap it around the small potted palm tree that was standing in for a Douglas fir.

“A Christmas miracle.” Edie nodded. 

“God doesn’t perform miracles anymore.” Grace stood up. “If you want something done, do it yourself.”

“That a girl.” Frank winked at her from across the room where he sat at a small card table playing solitaire. “My sentiments exactly.”

My heart dropped, but no words came to mind to refute their doubts. But I knew. I knew. God was performing miracles every day, all around us. Miracles had marked every stage of our journey; the boys’ survival of the storm in the Malahini, Paul’s rescue, the submarine pickup, catching Ansel Thornton, being together now, the list went on and on in my mind. Grace and Frank just couldn’t see them or didn’t want to. 

*To read the rest of the story, read the book! The Song of the Storm Petrel, Book 3 in the Seabirds Trilogy. (Also available in print!)

The Family Song

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

Colossians 3:16

Years ago, I felt the Lord prompt me to find a simple song for our family, one that would encompass our values and remind us what is important. At that time Lawrence and I had 3 little girls, aged 1, 4, and 7. For those ages (for any age, really) singing is an amazing teaching tool. It helps children remember important lessons and the songs will stick with them for the rest of their lives. There are songs I learned as a little girl that still come to mind when I am stressed or hurting. These songs remind me who I am and who God is. They comfort my heart and set me firmly back on the path of life.

The songs you sing, the songs you listen to, are powerful life influencers. I wanted our family song to be one that would stick with my family forever, one that would become a core part of their genetic makeup.  I knew that in future times of stress and overwhelming circumstances like we’ve experienced the last two years, they would remember who they are and who they trust because of the songs they learned when they were little. Songs stay with you. Music is powerful. (Just ask David!)

Amazingly, we discovered a song that encompassed our heart, one that encourages us to become a sanctuary for the Lord.

What does it mean to become a sanctuary for the Lord?

It means that we become a safe place for the dove to rest. We become like Christ, pure and undefiled, always increasing in kindness and love. It means that we become rich places of sacrifice and joy and depth that brings God glory and proclaims the good news of salvation. Essentially, it means that we become people the Lord wants to be with. If there is anything I wanted my children to become, it was (and is!) that.

Lord prepare me 
To be a sanctuary, 
Pure and Holy, 
Tried and True, 
With Thanksgiving 
I’ll be a living….. Sanctuary, for You. 

Singing a song like this is a very simple but powerful way to get the family on the same page in just a few minutes. Starting or ending your day for a time with the same song can bring security to the little ones and unifies the whole family. We felt drawn to this song because it was so focused on becoming a living sanctuary to the Lord. And ever since we learned it, we have sung it frequently together holding hands to remind each other of what is important. Maybe this is a season to go after a song or scripture together as a family and be unified in a new way. I pray you will find your “family song” and sing, sing, sing to the Lord. I know it will bless you.

This Thanksgiving, we released a new book inspired by this song that we adopted as our own so long ago. With incredible artwork by Madi BowmanSanctuary will inspire you to open the door to your heart and your home to all that God has in store. Each beautiful page serves as a guide to making your home a safe haven.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed writing it.

With Love,

Tamara

Brother Lawrence

Lawrence Glasner

We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of Him, and [when that’s] done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before Him, who has given me the grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.”–Brother Lawrence

Brother Lawrence (I don’t think my parents named me after him) was a French Carmelite monk who served in a Paris monastery during the seventeenth century. Raised by peasant parents in the Lorraine Region of Eastern France, he joined the army as a young man to escape poverty but resigned following an injury. He later took monastic vows and entered God’s full-time service in a monastery in Paris.

Lawrence was uneducated. He started his spiritual career in a job he didn’t like, washing dishes and cooking in the monastery kitchen. He repaired shoes in his later years. Brother L didn’t write books because he couldn’t write. He didn’t travel much, teach or preach, or hang out with people of influence, wealth, or importance.  Yet over four hundred years after his death, we recognize him as one of a few authorities on living in God’s presence twenty-four seven. And his thin volume of collected maxims, Practicing the Presence of God, endures as a magnificent devotional and mystical classic.

This cook, dishwasher, and cobbler came to embrace the backbreaking rigors of cooking, cleaning kitchens, and repairing sandals as God’s personal invitation into His existential presence.  

What do we take from Brother Lawrence? One thing for certain, he did not distinguish between times of prayer and work. He sanctified his work by pulling and pushing it into the Kingdom by making it an act of conscious worship.

What about my work? The Teacher in Ecclesiastes concluded that work is vanity.  And if work was just a way to pay the bills, I‘d reach the same grim conclusion. But it’s not just a way to make money. Work can (and should) have profound significance.

Jon Bloom puts it best:

Wait, our labor is not in vain? Isn’t that what futility is? Yes! And part of the gospel is that labor done ‘in the Lord’ is not in vain because it cannot ultimately be derailed by the curse of sin.  What is labor done in the Lord? Does that only apply to kingdom work? Yes. But ‘kingdom work’ encompasses everything Christians do: ‘Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.’” (Jon Bloom, How To Find Joy In Your Work)

The issue is, how do you do your job for the Lord? The question sounds cliche, almost trite, but it is quite the opposite. Brother Lawrence teaches us the recipe for his secret sauce to living in real significance. Your time on the job each day occupies a slice of your life on earth.  Sanctify each slice by turning to God with thanksgiving and praise.

Herb Ellingwood was one of President Reagan’s lawyers. The U.S. Army Intelligence during WWII, Yale and Stanford, friend of Billy Graham and confidant to U.S. and world leaders, taught me something helpful when I worked for him in Washington. It’s a lesson that’s stuck with me for decades.

Someone asked him during a staff prayer meeting if it was okay to drink coffee while we were praying. He said, “No, you shouldn’t drink coffee while you pray.” Those of us seated around his conference room table holding coffee mugs squirmed in our seats until he finished. “But it’s always a good thing to pray while you’re drinking coffee.”

I am constantly learning to sanctify my work one thin slice of my life at a time. I’m discovering how to destroy the wall between sacred and secular, practicing work and worship, on-the-job and off-the-job spirituality.  Intentionality is the key. We all want our work to count and, at the end of the day, hear the Father tell us, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

How do we do this? By remembering that repairing a shoe is an act of pure worship no less acceptable to Heaven than music or any other offering. For myself, it’s remembering that every time I sit down to type or go to the gym, or light a fire in the wood burning stove, I’m doing it out of love for my creator, and as such, he counts it a sacrifice of praise.

Cuanto la Gusta

My great grandmother (lovingly dubbed ‘Mer’) sang in a trio with her sisters during the Great Depression through the 1960s. They were three petite brunettes with spunk and gumption.

When my sisters and I were little, Mer was determined we would sing too. We had music in our veins. In our blood! If she and her sisters could do it, we could do it. I remember standing around the piano with Em and Maddy, Mer’s fingers flying over the ivories, my voice struggling to reach the low notes, while simultaneously switching back and forth from melody to harmony, much to my sister’s chagrin.

Mer recorded videos of her favorite trios for us to learn from. We grew up on those tapes, learning those silly ditties by heart. And like anything in your heart, they tend to surface at the most unexpected times and put music to the moment.

“Cuanto la Gusta” was one of those. It roughly translates to “How much you like?”

How much you like? I like. A lot. I would go so far to say if there was a song for the Glasner Girls right now, this is it.

And on that note, the following is an excerpt from Sandpiper Sets Sail, the first book in my trilogy, The Seabirds… inspired by Cuanto la Gusta.”

The frenetic singing to Cuanto la Gusta started up and Edie began to sway. “You and your sisters were singers in a hip underground jazz club. You must have picked up some of the new moves. Why don’t you teach us how to swing a little? Horatio, come here! Peter, you take Piper. Lorelai, you can demonstrate with Frank.”

“He can’t dance!” she snapped.
 
“I can too!” he retorted, taking her in his arms. “Well… I can try.”
 
She rolled her eyes but didn’t pull away. Frank looked triumphant.
 
Edie had Horatio in her arms now and was attempting a two-step. “You girls have got to help me. I really don’t know what I’m doing! But I’ve always wanted to swing with the best of them.”
 
Looking over at my parents, she said, “Nathan, Rosie, you two don’t get off so easy. Up and at ‘em you two. Move the feet.”
 
The Andrew Sisters blared out, “We gotta get goin’, where are we goin’, what are we gonna do? We’re on our way to somewhere, the three of us and you. What’ll we see there, who will be there, what’ll be the big surprise? There may be caballeros with dark and flashing eyes.”
 
Edie laughed, “I think this is our family song!” The trio kept crooning, and we all began to try and dance. Edie had a way about her where you simply could not argue with what she wanted.
 
Grace took over, showing us a modified Balboa. We all tried to follow my cousin’s instructions. It was a little complex, but I started to get it.
 
Anna, Willem, and Raffi moved right along with us. The joy of movement and my Aunt’s crazy antics showed radiant on their little faces. Frank swang Lorelei around like a sack of flour, which remarkably succeeded in producing a tiny smile on Lorelai’s rosebud lips.  
 
He looked knowingly at Peter and me, “Told ya! The ice age is ending!”
 
Edie turned the record over, and we moved on to faster stuff. Peter and I did our best with the West Coast Shag, but Peter was distracted. Sure, he hung in there, but he kept stepping on my feet and forgetting the timing, apologizing that he just wasn’t a good dancer.
 
It wasn’t that though. I knew him too well. He was thinking about something. In the end, he excused himself before the song ended.
 
As I was about to follow Peter, my father caught my hand and pulled me in. “Come on, Agatha, conga line!” The children laughed gleefully, keeping time with the music and nearly screaming with delight.
 
We danced and danced, all of us whirling around that room till the needle fell off the record, and we collapsed on the floor, quite breathless. Before Edie could start another record, I made a quick exit to find Peter.
 
There he was, sitting alone on the stairs in the dark front hall.  
 
Surprised by my presence, he looked up.
 
“Peter? What in the world is on your mind?” What was the point of beating around the bush? Ask straight questions, get straight answers.
 
In a bit angry of an angry tone, he spouted, “Piper, I can’t sit around this house anymore doing nothing. I’m not in school. I’ve no real work now that the fleet and crew are all with the British Navy. I feel useless.”
 
And restless, I thought. Like me. And Frank. Like Grace and Katrine and Lorelei. Like my parents.
 
“It’s late.” He stood up and gave me searching look before heading up the stairs.
 
“Do you want to talk about it?” I called up after him.
 
“There’s nothing to say.”
 
I watched him march up the stairs, feeling sorry for him. Feeling sorry for myself.
 
The words of that song stuck with me all night through my dreams. I was whirling through Europe, wondering, “What’ll we see there, who will be there, what’ll be the big surprise? There may be caballeros with dark and flashing eyes.” But in my dream, the caballeros were actually German Gestapo. And “three of us and you” were my cousins and I. We were lost in the ocean with nowhere to land. No home to go to, just adrift at sea…
https://hopehousepress.co/voyage-of-the-sandpiper/

Unity in the Community

Our little community during much the Covid-19 quarantine consisted of our niece and two of our adult daughters. We were together under one roof for many months and learned a good deal during that time in lockdown.

Stuck in the same house for weeks on end could be a recipe for disaster. Tight quarters. Powerful personalities. Energy trapped with nowhere to go but a long walk around the block… again. Like everyone, we had to restructure our attitudes and daily rhythms to stay in UNITY. And believe it or not, my prayer that we would emerge from this journey closer than before was answered.

So… what did we learned?

Here goes:

LOVE. Not fuzzy, syrupy ‘love.’ But genuine love. LOVE that is sincere. LOVE where there is NO game playing, self-pity or manipulation. LOVE where no one speaks poorly or gossips about others. LOVE that is completely FOR one another. This is the love that diffuses conflict before it happens. Trust me.

SERVICE. Selfishness kills community. The best way to combat selfishness is to be selfless. Thinking more about the needs of the people you live with than your wants and needs destroys the cancer of selfishness. Think: More YOU. Less ME, MY, MINE. And teach your kids to do the same. Remember, every selfless act is a hefty deposit in your relationship account. When this is all over, you will have a surplus of goodwill to spend. Not a stinging deficit of ingratitude and resentment.

RESPECT. We all process stress differently. Know that the people you live and work with might handle this challenging season differently than you. Some may struggle more than others in your house. Some need more space. Others might not do well alone. Respecting others’ social and emotional needs and doing the little things to meet them, breathes life-giving pure oxygen into your community.

FORGIVENESS. FORGIVE QUICKLY AND OFTEN! How? A quick ‘I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” followed by a quick, “You bet, I know you love me and didn’t mean it.” Don’t let offense root and fester. Don’t fake being happy when you’re angry. Deal with offense now! The time is over for half-hearted, ‘if I feel like it’ forgiveness. From now on, we apologize quickly and forgive just as fast. (Or at least, we try 7X70!) Humility is the key to take you where you want to be here. Giving and accepting forgiveness takes a humble spirit. It means admitting you hurt someone or someone offended you and immediately making things right. Forgiveness is gold. Forgiving heals and binds us together. It is the agent ensuring that when we go back to ‘normal’ each person will know they are loved and valued.

Love, Service, Respect, and Forgiveness are POTENT ways of keeping your personal peace and joy. And you can take responsibility and make your community a pleasant and thriving place to live; especially during this crisis.

Let me encourage the people in your home to buy into the “Fab Four” (Love, Service, Respect, and Forgiveness). Embrace these values to bring unity in the community whether you are forced into lockdown or not.

We hope and pray you join the fight for unity in your home. It’s a daily battle! And the fruit of victory will remain long after quarantine passes.

By Tamara and Lawrence Glasner

History

“One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.” 

― Golda Meir, My Life

When we first set out to write a WWII history and writing curriculum to go with The Seabirds Trilogy, we had no idea that its release would come at such a dramatic or serious time in our nation’s history. (I never thought I would see the things I’ve seen over the last few months. At times, the parallels to the past were awe-inspiring. But in the word’s of Solomon, nothing is new under the sun!)

What began as a way to teach students about the importance of the Second World War and its aftermath is now a remarkably timely foundation for understanding current events, for students and parents alike.

Remember this, the further we move away from the Holocaust and other atrocities of the twentieth century, the greater we run the risk of forgetting the 20 million Jews, disabled, Eastern Europeans, Soviet prisoners of war, and political prisoners who died at the hand of Nazis. It is imperative that we teach the next generation what is at stake when we turn a blind eye to the oppressed, the disenfranchised, and the disabled. 

But, at a time when journalists, mobs, politicians, and educators would prefer to re-write, ignore, or diminish the events of the past through “new histories” and alternative facts, or silencing those who speak the truth, the closer we step to the precipice of repeating those exact same atrocities.

Consider the following: according to Newsweek, in 2018, one-third of Americans didn’t believe that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, nearly half of Americans could not name a single concentration camp, and two-thirds of millennials could not explain what ‘Auschwitz’ was. White supremacist groups in the United States are on the rise. Neo-Nazi groups have increased by 20% from 2015 to 2018, and 11% of Americans polled have claimed that it is ‘acceptable’ to hold Neo-Nazi views.

Learning history matters. An understanding of the events of the past and their ramification for the present has the power to de-escalate tension and open the door to real communication and positive change. 

We are confident that The Seabirds Companion Curriculum will, in an age-appropriate learning environment, enlighten, inform, and prepare your student for adulthood, specifically in regards to the current challenges posed by the political and social climate. Maturity and wisdom are the product of diligent teaching, careful study, and real-life application in a faith-based environment. 

The 36-week long curriculum is designed to learn about the greatest conflict in human history through story, the testimony of those who survived, and award-winning films and documentaries. Along the way, students will sharpen their critical thinking skills, grow spiritually, and learn how to write a college-level historical research paper.  It covers all the high school humanities, so all you need to add is math and science and you are good to go for the year. 

The Seminar, a live zoom-class, is a wonderful opportunity to go through the curriculum in a group context with live-lectures, discussions, and personal TAs.

We believe that learning is most successful in a family environment. Your student will be covering heavy subjects, such as the Holocaust and the development of nuclear weapons. Keep the door open for any questions that might arise that provide an opportunity for growth emotionally and spiritually. As Christian educators, we do not shy away from hard questions. We believe that any opportunity to go to the Word and discover God’s best is an opportunity worth taking.

We hope that The Seabirds Companion Curriculum opens your student’s heart and mind to what God is doing in the world today and what He has done in recent history. We hope that through learning about the past, your high schooler will think about what God is calling him or her to do in the present and the future. 

*Our content is carefully curated to be what we consider age-appropriate and family-friendly. Nevertheless, we recommend parents review all material before their child to ensure it fits their maturity and educational needs. 

To order the Companion Curriculum, click here.

Resilience

Resilience: An ability to recover from or adjust easily to change or misfortune.

Our family went to Forest Home Family Camp summer after summer as our girls were growing up. The camp was one of our favorite family memories, as we all had incredible times with each other and also with God during communal times of worship, hiking, swimming in the lake, and flying down the zipline. Every summer we came back changed, restored, and ready for the year ahead. But there was one year that had a bigger impact than the others. 

Every family was tasked with creating words to go with each letter of their last name that would help describe their family and also be a “family value memorial.” We labored together under the shade of old pine trees to come up with just the right words to describe who we were.

G (grateful)

L (loving)

A (able to forgive quickly)

S (secure)

N (nurturing)

E (exuberant)

R……. 

R? 

This last letter was a little harder for us to decide. Several ideas were thrown out, but none of them resonated. As we waited and prayed, the word RESILIENT seemed to appear out of thin air.

I wouldn’t exactly say we were resilient at the time, but we all agreed this was a skill we wanted to grow in and be known for. If we could become more resilient, if we could get back up faster when we got knocked down, and be less offendable, we would be a stronger family.

Sometimes the most important part of a healthy family unit is to be able to bounce back after a defeat. When there is a need to forgive or to receive forgiveness, we can lean on resilience. But, it takes practice. You have to grow your resilience muscles. You have to choose to have a good attitude, even when you don’t want to.

Little did we know at the time how developing this skill together would come into play. If the current state of affairs is not a time for reliance, no time is. In other words, if there was ever a time to be resilient, this is it. As a family, community, and nation, we need the ability to bounce back quickly. Bounce back to peace. Bounce back to joy and connection. Bounce back to dreaming and hoping.

It’s true, we could still use more resilience. Who doesn’t? In these times of extra stress and pressure, we need extra mercy and grace. 

But in those moments when the words hurt, hope seems lost, and the dream looks dead, the Lord is there to help us up, brush us off, and whisper, “Yes, you can. You can keep going. You can keep trying. You can keep loving and forgiving. You can keep dreaming.” 

I am 56 and LOVE being a wife and mom. I want to encourage you in whatever battle you may be facing, prayers for sustaining peace and love in your life can come with the amazing help of the Lord and his brilliance infusing his children with what they need every hour. 

RESILIENCE is one of those sweet gifts. 

Bless you today with more of what you need.

Tamara