SERVE SOMEBODY

By Lawrence Glasner

“Well, it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” 

Bob Dylan

A small Los Angeles firm hired me in 1990 after I passed the California Bar Exam. With a growing family to support, I was eager to prove myself, succeed, and generate enough income to buy a house and the stuff of life accompanying it. The firm’s three partners were a good twenty years ahead of me in terms of career and family, each grounded in the Christian faith. I appreciate how extraordinary it was to have these men mentor me looking back after three decades.

They paid me a low salary compared to what I would have earned from the large national firm offered me coming out of law school. But they incentivized me by paying production-based bonuses. The more revenue I generated the more I was paid. Two years into the practice, I was billing significant hours, settling contingency fee cases and developing my own clients. The reward? A generous car allowance, multiple raises, big bonuses, a firm loan for a down payment on our first home, and partnership in three years.

I worked longer and later hours, sometimes spending Saturday at the office, and discovered the law of diminishing returns. My productivity dropped like a rock falling off a cliff after working fifty plus hours a week. I turned counter-productive, losing creativity and the peace of mind to plan and strategize.   

The effect on my wife and kids was the worst part. When I’d get home late, long after my wife and kids finished dinner, the house felt empty. It was difficult to reintegrate into family life and I went days and days spending no meaningful time with them.

But God had mercy on me by having the senior guys keep their eyes on me.

One afternoon, two of them cornered me in my office, shut the door and laid down the expectation. “Don’t hang around late because you think you’re impressing anyone. You’re not. This is not a sprint.  It’s a marathon. There are exceptions, but we expect you to finish your work, organize for the next day and go home and take care of your family.”

I took their advice to heart.

I had friends who worked in large firms who lived at the other end of the spectrum, billing 2,200 to 2,500 hours a year. Late nights and weekends in the office.  Extensive travel. Something gives. There’s always a cost. A marriage. Relationships with kids. Health….

Jesus taught, For your heart will always pursue what you value as your treasure. The eyes of your spirit allow revelation-light to enter your being. If your heart is unclouded, the light floods in. But if your eyes are focused on money, the light cannot penetrate and darkness takes its place. How profound will be the darkness within you if the light of truth cannot enter! (Matthew 6:21-24, The Passion Translation)

Do me a favor.  Get alone, somewhere you can think and pray. Spend a moment and ask yourself: Are money, power, and reputation my core motivators? Ask your wife, a trusted friend the same. If the answer is yes, your direction and motivation oppose the momentum of the Kingdom of God. Worse, you are practicing idolatry and engaged in syncretism. “How can you worship two gods at the same time?  Hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t worship the true God while enslaved to the god of money!” (Matthew 25:23, NKJ)

Success and personal achievement can be marvelous blessings, the sign of God’s favor, and the fruit of hard work and integrity. But unless the love of Christ compels our performance, work is idolatry.  I strive to work at the Lord’s pleasure. I want one thing. I want to hear Him say, Well done good and faithful servant, you were faithful over a few things…(Matthew 8:36, The Passion Translation). I am not always successful, but I am improving year by year.

If you are not driven by a single-minded, wholehearted devotion to serving God at work, it’s time to change direction and repent. Ask God to forgive you for letting him slip into second or third place. Dump the idols of selfish ambition, greed, and pride on the cross and leave them there. Confess to a trusted friend or pastor and ask them to hold you accountable. Reorder your priorities and realign your heart to the people and matters you know matter. You might need to set limits at work or recreational activities distracting you from time with God, family, and committed friends. You might have to change your job or career.  For what use is it to gain all the wealth and power of this world…at the cost of your own life?

I’ve spent years struggling in the gray zone, living with mixed motives, my attention away from God, my wife and kids. We suffered. But the Lord gave me grace to repent and make things right. Not an easy process, but worth it in eternity.

Psalm 19

by Tamara Glasner

May the WORDS of my mouth and the THOUGHTS of my heart BE PLEASING to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

Words! 

My words! 

EVERY SINGLE WORD coming out of this mouth? My mouth. Wow.

I am on a quest to make every word count for good. That means I am going to need to speak a lot less. If every word I speak and every single thought I think is going to please the Lord, it’s going to take some effort on my part. 

It means in those hard moments…. I will need to take a moment to be quiet and NOT speak, rather than just blurt out what comes into my mind. It will mean I will need to take a few seconds before responding to ask the Lord for help with WHAT WORDS should be spoken and at WHAT TIME. 

“Joy comes to a man with the reply of his mouth. How good is a word at the right time!”

Proverb 15:23

The wise words, the kind words, the patient and thoughtful words… The words that do not break, but build, that are not hard, but tender, that are not mean, but kind. The words that restore moments, rather than destroy them. 

Words begin with our thoughts. It is no surprise that the psalmist cried out for his thoughts to please God, too. What goes on inside always makes its way out somehow. 

Thoughts! 

We have thousands of thoughts throughout the day and all of them are to please the Lord! Another WOW! 

I believe that we can change the course of our lives by agreeing to think the thoughts the Lord desires. This leaves very little room for thoughts of disgust, criticism, anger, jealousy, judgment, self pity, etc.  

Today, my husband Lawrence and I were having our morning coffee in bed as we do devo’s and worship before getting on with our day, and we were talking about allowing the Lord to surround our thoughts with His love! Our thoughts are important to the Lord. They can lead to goodness or they can bring separation and death. So today I choose to capture my thoughts and ask our wonderful Lord to lead my thoughts to Him in EVERY SINGLE situation. There is NO ROOM for ugly secret thoughts. Time is short. We only have a few years on this earth… We should spend them thinking thoughts permeated in the spirit and truth. From such thoughts come wise words that produce life. 

I’m not there yet… but I am getting better. Love does transform hearts, thoughts, and words. 

LOVE is a crazy, beautiful, powerful, gift from God our Father. He IS LOVE, and it is His desire we love well, everyone around us, with our thoughts and words! This may mean listening more and speaking less and discipling our minds to think the very best!

How else will we as believers in Yeshua make a real impact on the world we live in today? 

We are called to watch what we think and say and be people who others can depend on to not act like the world. Let’s get out there and get loving with our words and with our thoughts! With His help, you can do it, and so can I! 

Mama T

The Great Exchange

By Tamara Glasner

The last few weeks have been extra trying for us here in the US. I have found myself meditating more on the scripture than usual. I have found myself calling out to the Lord to make my heart softer. Larger. Kinder. More alert. More engaged. More sensitive to others. Less distracted. Less foggy. I have asked for tender understanding of my fellow man and a deeper relationship with Jesus. 

The tragic, avoidable violence and loss of innocent life all over our country has placed us in a season of mourning. We live in times when sin is no longer sin. God’s blessings that He has richly poured out on us as a nation have served to steer us away from God rather than draw us to Him in thankfulness and praise. We have forgotten who we are and where we came from. We have lost our compass. In response, I want to be humble and pray for forgiveness. I love this land and her people. This is a precious land to our Father. He loves when we go low and repent so He can bring healing.

I must repent for not speaking up. For not noticing the enemy sliding in through the back door.  For contributing knowingly or unknowingly to my nation’s turning away from God. I must repent for not loving God or others as I should. The tough love that corrects, the gentle love that comforts, and the untiring love that stays when everyone else leaves. 

“And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.” (Daniel 9:4-6)

If the last few years have revealed anything, they have revealed a need for collective repentance, a need for deeper understanding and courage to walk in God’s ways, and a serious need that we are filled with His love for others as never before. More love for Jesus, and more love for others. 

When times of trouble and stress come, a natural human response is to shrink back. Instead, as believers, we have the opportunity to grow and “take up space,” to speak up, to love the unlovable, to demonstrate our value for human life, freedom of religion, and the freedom to raise our children as we see fit in safe, healthy, nurturing, Christ-like environments. 

Don’t shrink back, mamas! Grow, grow, grow, through repentance, through active love, and through courage. Ask the Holy Spirit for His special “miracle-love-grow” to give you the energy and wisdom to run the race He is asking you to run. He is never empty. Jesus runs on full. HIs kingdom is always increasing, even in times of darkness like our present time. He has plenty to pour out. He is the life giver. 

Lead us our dear, precious Lord through the hard times to love You and know You and walk with You so close that we are running on FULL to pour out love on others.  

Jesus is truly powerful to heal and love you so much that you can’t help but love others in a way that transforms lives, families, communities, and ultimately, nations. See if there is any wicked way in you, then repent. Confess your sin to the Lord, turn away from the negative pattern or behavior, and welcome His presence to heal you and align you with His Word and His plan. 

He is so sweet to forgive. He is the good shepherd. He cares for his sheep. He LOVES his sheep. We are the sheep. 

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:5)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

Much love,

Tamara

A Letter from Iona

When I was in the brink of growing up, and since, I thought ‘well, that’s that’. I had read all the staples of a girl’s childhood, classic and contemporary. Juvenile favourites had been fondly slid back onto a shelf, grown out of but not forgotten, beloved, but with that bittersweet smile that this was an end. I had exhausted all the books I could love like that, books by contemporary authors no longer having that power to speak right to me and touch that part of my heart for the first time again—just the gilded path of classics now. 

Or so I thought. 

You have no idea what Sandpiper has meant to me. 

By the end of Chapter Five, I was smiling so wide it hurt, absolutely delighted in  the purest and strongest sense of the word. And throughout the rest of the book, when I wasn’t laughing, I was tearing  up or crying in several scenes. You know why? Because your story is alive, real in a way I have not come across in so long. 

Piper, Edie, Peter, Horatio… the crew, Piper’s parents, Fredrick… Harry, Katrin, Lorelei, and Grace…even smaller but no less important characters like Rolf and Gertie. They were real people to me–characters you made me care about intently. There was no need to spoon-feed emotions like in so many recent writings, sighing softly in happiness or holding one’s breath just came naturally. As I listened, I was among the world you spun with your pen as it came to life with the narration. 

Your book inspired me to hope more, trust more, and live life even brighter than before. Genuine, real, and insightful, you touched my heart again and again. 

Voyage of the Sandpiper is a voyage of a book. It was a lovingly-crafted, sails-to-the-wind journey over uncharted waters.Watching Piper grow from an unsure, out-of-depth young girl with one foot in the water, to a bold young woman learning to sail the storms of life was an adventure I cherished. Edie’s own ‘growing-up’and setting sail, well, all of the characters paths, decisions and dynamics. (I was memorising quotes from our first session!)

I feel proud to have been a part of this eccentric, loving family…at least for a little while. I can’t wait to peak into more of their lives. 

Sometimes I felt certain lines in the book were spoken straight to me: words I didn’t know I needed to hear, and those C.S. Lewis moments of, “What, you too? I thought no one but myself…

We need more kindred-spirit books in this world. Books you want to quote to yourself and friends. Books that highlight family (and sister!) relationships. Books that inspire and nourish, both creatively and spiritually. I cannot thank you enough for this story.  As a writer I know what it can be like to uncover special words for the eyes of the rest of the world, and so please know, that this story you gave wings has flown right into my heart, and will nestle in many others to come. (And also, from a writer’s point of view, you inspire me in the brave, genuine, real love in your writing.)

When I finished I was speechless, not in lack of words but because I had so many. I cannot pack all your story meant to me in a single email  all my favourite scenes and lines, but I can wrap it up in that classic, ever-used but  ever-genuine 

I love it.

I will rein myself back now and tell of the audio. Can I say, the narrator’s voice and style just grew on me more with every listening! Without ‘too much salt’, the narrator brings Voyage to life, in an exciting audio that’s both engaging and colourful. Malana and I both thought Ellie did an amazing job, with such a wide grasp of accents and ages and a perfect Piper. Also, as a side note, she read theYiddish dialogue so well it sounded natural to my inexperienced ears! 

It was a real blessing from God to be able to dive into the world my mother and sister had known and loved first, before my vision even allowed me to yet read it myself.

Thank you so much.

Excited to take wing with reading Seahawks

Iona B, UK

Coming Out Gold

by Jessica Glasner

My history with fires goes way back.

In 2007, I was one of the Westmont College students trapped in the Murchinson Gymn for 15 hours while firefighters lined the perimeter of the building and the roof with hoses while a savage wildfire swept through our campus.

The fire came so quickly, there was no time to evacuate the campus nestled in the foothills behind Montecito. We could feel its heat from inside the gym. All the girls had to use the men’s locker room because the trees over the women’s restroom were on fire.

We faced death that long night, and when we emerged, the smoke lingered in our skin and hair and nails for weeks.

As the years went on, the fires kept coming. The Gaza War and Operation Pillar of Defense in Grad School in Israel. My father’s triple by-pass and battle with sepsis.

Relationships that didn’t happen. Relationships that did.

And then came 2018. The ultimate trial. In the blink of an eye, the State of California was set ablaze.

The Thomas Fire.

The Carr Fire with its fire-nados, those twisting, terrifying, flame throwing whirlwinds.

The Camp Fire wiped out an entire town.

The Woolsey Fire.

The list goes on and on. It was the deadliest, most destructive wildfire season on record. We self-evacuated three times and watched as our friends and loved ones lost homes and property.

By the time it all ended, I felt like a National Emergency had been called in my soul, not just my state. Nothing felt right. I felt as charred and devastated as the land I love.

Going through the fire is hard. But unlike Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, instead of a quick visit to the fiery furnace, I had moved in. And the fire kept getting hotter, and hotter.

As the heat grew in intensity, doubtful whispers plagued my mind.

Will you still love Me? Will you still trust Me?

There was a lot I had brought with me that was burning up. Misplaced hopes and dreams… ideas about the way my life should look by now… unmet expectations… props I used to make myself feel secure… one by one, up in smoke.

All I had left was Yeshua and myself stripped bare, illuminated in the glow of the flames. Would I make it through? Would I keep the faith? Would I trust him and believe he was right there with me? Would I come out stronger? Would I come out at all?

Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. 

You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him – with laughter and singing. 

Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation. 

The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. 

The Messiah’s Spirit let them in on some of it – that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamored to know who and when. 

All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves – through the Holy Spirit – the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this! 

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives.

1 Peter 1:7-17 (The Message)

There is a scene in the pilot episode of Little House on the Prairie where a wildfire threatens to burn up the Ingles rough cabin and everything they’ve spent the last year building on the Minnesota Plains. Mary, Laura, and Carrie hide in the cabin while Ma and Pa do everything in their power to put out the flames sweeping up the prairie. They reach the breaking point, that moment where it is obvious their efforts are futile.

What are two people in the face of a raging brush fire? Nothing.

Nothing without God, that is. Caroline Ingles screams knowing the end is near, and then, there is a crack of thunder. A raindrop. Two. A shower. The heavens open and God is merciful. The Ingles are spared.

What’s more, they are stronger than ever.

I saw this scene a couple of days ago. I cried. They made it, but by the grace of God alone–And I made the conclusion that a pioneer only ever makes it by the grace of God alone.

I am pioneering, what exactly, remains to be seen. But I have set out to find a place to plant and to harvest, a place of safety and creativity, a home for new sounds and fresh words. That means I will face fires. By the grace of God, what I build will withstand them, and his rain will preserve what I’ve built that’s worth preserving.

The rain is coming. I smell it in the air, I imagine I feel the drops falling from the sky. I’m going through the fire, and God willing, I’m coming out gold.

Kind of old school… but Beckah’s song is for today. Enjoy.

CHANGE THE TONE OF YOUR HOME: THE POWER OF A THANKFUL HEART

by Tamara Glasner

There are many sounds that come from a home. Sounds of laughter and love. Sounds of joy and peace. Sounds of closeness and trust. Or, alternately, sounds of strife, anger, and hurt. Though you may not know it, you have the power to control what sort of music comes out of your house. And it is as simple as choosing whether to be thankful or not. 

Sharp tones are softened by thankfulness. A thankful heart does not express meanness, criticism, or harshness.

A thankful heart sounds like peace, acceptance, love, and kindness. 

Who wants to live in a home where the tone is peaceful, accepting, loving, and kind? Where you are not constantly attacked without warning. 

I certainly do! And miraculously, living in such a home is 100% possible, if you cultivate a thankful heart.

Steps to thankfulness: 

  • Mindfully trade criticism and quick comebacks for appreciation.
  • Refrain from nitpicking.
  • Remind yourself what you are thankful for daily.
  • Catch yourself when you start to get annoyed with your family and laugh it off. We all have habits that may grate on those we live with. Showing grace and generosity towards our weaknesses and quirks is an open door to enjoying life together.
  • Practice saying nice, encouraging words to everyone in your house, several times a day.
  • Don’t take over, fix, or impose your ideas of what’s right or how to do things. Let the people in your home be free to create and express themselves the way God made them. (I.e., don’t control others.)
  • Train your mind to be thankful above and beyond any other response. 

Lawrence and I have had lots of practice breaking free from destructive patterns of complaining and criticising each other. Little jabs, judgemental looks, and know-it-all postures quickly erode trust and are a sure fire way of having a terrible home life. 

We all are in our homes a lot more now. We are around each other a lot more than we have been used to in the past. If there was ever a time to change the tone of your home, this is it. 

Don’t be afraid to stop the voice that is bringing everyone down. Take it seriously and communicate that criticism and complaining is no longer going to be acceptable at your home. 

Take it from me, filtering your thoughts and words through LOVE will literally deepen your love and affection for your spouse or those you live with, and make the sounds coming out of your walls ones you want to listen to.

Restorative Justice

By Lawrence Glasner

Mirislov Volf, the Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, wrote “Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans and myself from the community of sinners.”

Man, it’s hard to forgive. I had no grid for it, no impetus. Forgiveness made no sense. Forgiving someone in a position of trust who’d betrayed me over and over seemed unfair, even irrational!

The Prophet Micah tells me what God expects. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. And the Son of David teaches, firsthand, “For if you forgive others their sins, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

So, how to forgive? Really forgive? Volf pulls the curtain back, revealing a liberating true truth:

“The practice of nonviolence requires a belief in divine vengeance. When we know that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, we are free to rediscover that person’s humanity and imitate God’s love for them.” Id.

For us that means to treat others (like everyone) fairly and with dignity, as members of the human community. It means I must never marginalize or exclude another human being because all of us are made in the image of God.

No, I must forgive, recognizing the truth that there is justice from a just God who will ultimately hold our abusers to account and exercise retribution.

My job is to help restore people to God and one another. My job is not to make them suffer for how they’ve hurt us.

Retributive vs. Restorative Justice

Under our Constitution, anyone accused of a crime has the right to due process, a right with its roots in our Judeo-Christian heritage. It is the right to a fair hearing before a neutral tribunal where the accused has an opportunity to be heard, to state his case and present evidence. Without due process we’d live subject to despotic kangaroo courts, punished for thought crimes and independent opinions; or destroy each other in an endless cycle of personal and violent retributive justice known euphemistically to lawyers as self-help remedies.

Left to our own devices, we can go to far extracting a pound of flesh. That’s why retributive justice, i.e., punishment for crimes, for exploiting the poor and vulnerable, should be in the hands of responsible governing authorities whose job is to keep us safe by deterring crime and punishing criminals.

And ultimately, God is the one who, and ultimately who will judge all and sentence us at the end of time. Heaven wrote payback and violent revenge out of our job descriptions. “Vengeance is mine, and retribution…” thus saith the Lord. Deut. 32:35. And Romans 12:19 Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

So, what does the day-to-day justice God calls me to exercise look like? It is a restorative justice. Restorative justice actively seeks orphans, widows, the poor and oppressed aliens, the sick and imprisoned to bring relief and make things right. Restorative justice makes other people’s problems my own. When I bring isolated people into my home, give money to folks in need, visit and encourage prisoners, welcome and honor people from other countries, and bring healing to the sick, and fight for the human rights of the oppressed, I am walking out my God given call to restore justice to the world.

Restorative Justice: The Evidence of Faith

Though not salvation itself, restorative justice is the hard evidence that we are in Christ and our faith is alive. It is the prison minister, the Good Samaritan spending his time and money to save the life of the traveler, Mother Teresa, and the retirees who deliver meals-on-wheels to shut-ins. It is inconvenient. It is God’s work.

When this truth dawned on me as a young adult, I realized my parent’s frail humanity for the first time. My dad, a Depression kid, couldn’t stand against my mother’s wiles with origins in her own abusive upbringing. And in fits and starts, bits and pieces, with counselling and prayer, I started forgiving them. The process took years and they are long gone. But the three of us, by his grace, finished strongly with great mutual respect and love. The bonds we formed as healthier adults were far stronger than the damaged ones of my childhood.

James teaches us, “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well… For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Let’s get out there and do justice. Let’s make our neighbor’s problems our own. Let’s forgive our parents, siblings, spouses, betrayers and enemies. Let’s be generous and forgive and forgive again and again. Let’s do this recognizing that in Heaven, the folks we’ve forgiven and served will thank us, and that non-repentant bullies, torturers, murderers, racists, rapists and oppressors and their ilk will get their just desserts because God is just.

And vengeance is His.

Quote: Mirislov Volf, Exclusion and Embrace. A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996

Go Where the Peace Is

By Ali Morris

When I moved back to my hometown of San Diego, CA, in 2017, I had some big, lofty dreams for myself. It wasn’t that they weren’t possible; it was that I had given God a really short timeline for making them happen. I gave Him my timeline. 

In those first few months of living with my parents, I was jobless and mostly friend-less. My siblings, all much older than me, were busy driving kids from school to soccer practice or learning what life with a newborn looked like. About ten minutes down the road, my childhood best friend was doing just the same. 

And so, I woke up early each morning, shoved a laptop in my “work” bag along with a few pens, a notepad, snacks for the day ahead, and off I went. I’d spend a few hours checking email, doing research, designing my website, or deciding if I would take a journalism or children’s lit class when the semester started at the local University.  

As I crossed items off my list, my days began to end earlier and earlier. Where once I woke up eager and excited for the day ahead, proud to finally say I was a writer, even dressing for the part, now I felt lost. I had the uncomfortable sense that I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. Which, in many ways, was true. Instead, I found comfort in the embrace of my newborn nephew while binge-watching the latest mini-series releases on my sister’s maternity leave. 

When I moved south to San Diego, my long-time roommate and dear friend, Cheryl, went north to Los Angeles, California. We both made moves that allowed us to pursue dreams we’d been working toward for a long time. For me, having the support of family and less pressure to hustle allowed me to work on writing. For her, to try her hand at acting meant thrusting herself into one of the weirdest, trendiest, sunniest places in the world. She loved it. 

Alone, we had each other. We talked on the phone a lot back then. Partly because she was trying to process the new friendship she had with her now-husband, but also because we were both trying to figure out what we were doing. No one seemed to understand our lives. We found solace in long calls and trips between our respective cities. 

Despite the newness we were both in, Cheryl never seemed to doubt where God had her. I, on the other hand, had no idea what God was doing.  

I wondered, I debated, I questioned my calling and my purpose. I regretted my decision to move; I was curious if God would ever really do anything of meaning with my life. Was it all for nothing? Was it worth the cost? I struggled to explain what I was doing to anyone else because the reality was, I didn’t know the answer.  

My heart was weary; my soul felt burdened.  

And then, during a conversation with Cheryl, one mostly focused on boys (one in particular) and whatever internal drama I was wrestling with that day, she said, “Go where the peace is.” 

As a peacemaker, that made sense. It cut through the tension I’d been living in and reminded me to check in with my heart. Beyond that, it reminded me to check in with the Lord. When I decided to move back home, it was in a season where I felt more settled, being in tune with the Lord, not influenced by my emotions or circumstances. I had been seeking the Lord’s wisdom in how to move forward, and I felt peace about my decision. 

Months and months later, I was in a very different place. Emotionally I was overwhelmed, spiritually I doubted if God was in it with me, and literally I was living with my parents for the first time since my senior year of high school. Up was down, down was sideways, and my insides were in turmoil. Peace was somewhere buried underneath it all. I’ve learned since, that we don’t often make our best decisions under stress. 

“Our brains are wired to be more reactionary under stress. This can mean that in tough moments we reflexively narrow and simplify our options to all-or-nothing extremes… The minute you find yourself between two extremes, assume that both are limited, step back, and build a broader menu of options. That’s where you’re likely to find your optional choice.”

Ron Carucci, Stress Leads to Bad Decisions. Here’s How to Avoid Them, Harvard Business Review 

And yet here I was, totally stressed, questioning everything, making extremes of my circumstances and what I would do next. Becoming a writer was either working, or it wasn’t. Moving home was either a bad idea or a good idea. There was no in-between, no nuance, no room for God to do what He does best and get creative with my willingness to step out in faith. I had taken it upon myself to write my own story, but God is more in the business of setting our hearts toward Him so that we might experience His majesty. When we do, the story writes itself. 

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2, BSB 

“Go where the peace is,” Cheryl declared. Or in my case, stay where the peace is

Oof. 

At that moment, I did a gut-check. It brought me back to when I had decided to move back to San Diego after 13 years away, confident that God would be with me in the journey ahead. It’s not that He wouldn’t have been with me if I had moved to LA with Cheryl or stayed exactly where I was. But as I took a step of faith, I knew God was more concerned with my obedience than where I was going.

Those first few months of wandering through San Diego sent me down a spiral. I started with clarity and confidence and ended up covered in brambles with dirt caked up my shins, twigs stuck in my hair, and a work bag shoved somewhere under my desk. My eyes veered off course, off Jesus, leading me through thicket after thicket, a lost sheep with wolves around every corner. 

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.”

Luke 15:4-6

In the midst of that late-night call, God found me. He picked me up and put me on His shoulders. He brought me home and reminded me to stay where the peace is. Where He is. To trust that He is with me and will guide each step I take, even the ones that feel like a giant leap of faith. There have been a lot of those in the last four years, but mostly a lot of little ones. When you follow Jesus, you will experience a peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7). Even when life gets shaky and there are wolves nipping at your heels, God promises to never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6). We need only to be still and trust that He is God; His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Allison is…
the founder and creative director of Dear and Love. She is a writer and editor specializing in content production for nonprofit organizations and anyone passionate about helping others. Currently Allison is living many lives as a ghostwriter and working on developing better sleep hygiene. Please no dogs. You can read the long-winded version here.

Watching Our Words

When I was younger, my parents would often share the verse, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver”(Proverbs 25:11). And I would nod knowingly because I’d heard it before. They would explain briefly that it meant to be careful with your words—use them well, in right ways, and at the right time. I understood that part, the meaning, but not the illustration used. I always thought that the second part of the verse was simply a pretty image and would, in passing, wonder why that particular image was so important. It is only recently that I began to reconsider that passage and realized that the writer was describing an image made of materials that required great craftsmanship and care. 

Take the silver setting. The melding and molding of silver into a beautiful shape—whether that of a latticed basket, picture, or a setting of filigreed jewelry—would take incredible skill. The golden apples could either depict literal apples that were considered sweet, sweet-smelling, and healing to the person who held it—and would have required great care in the process of cultivation in a dry, semi-arid climate—or it could refer to skillfully-done gold filigreed spheres set in silver, like jewelry. Either way, the portrayed image depicts something that would require patience, care, skill, and attention to design and detail—whether in cultivation or crafting—for days, months, or even years before the items could be combined together into a setting of beauty. The silversmith, farmer (or goldsmith) had to learn how to do the work and then take the time to do the work well. Perhaps, the work was done from a place of solitude, with the intention and expectation that it would be enjoyed by others in the time to come. 

Viewing that verse in this way, leads me to imagine that the work of speaking a word well and in the right season takes preparation, and is not something simply done in a moment. A word rightly spoken means behind-the-scenes work to prepare our tongues to say the right things. It’s easy to think that it is simply about making our words pretty in the moment, but I believe that it also implies undergoing a period of training…willingly. There is a carefulness to saying meaningful, powerful, life-altering words at the right time. 

Do we want to become careful with our words, so that we know how to speak the right words at the right time? How do we make our words “fitly spoken”? There is a verse in the book of Isaiah that I think speaks clearly to this process and how we can be people that are careful with our words and that speak right words to others. Isaiah 50:4 (NASB) reads: 

“The Lord has given me the tongue of disciples, 

So that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word

He awakens Me morning by morning

He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.”

When I first read this verse, I thought “Ok, Isaiah is talking about himself and his role as a prophet. Makes sense.” Then, as I began to study it, I realized that the speaker was acting in a servant-like role. I felt myself looking at the text and asking, like the eunuch from Ethiopia in Acts 8:34 who, reading from another Servant song in Isaiah 53, asks, “Was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?”

I believe the passage most clearly relates to the “Servant of the Lord” who is referred to in several passages throughout the book of Isaiah. For example, in Isaiah 42, the Servant of the Lord bears the Spirit of God and brings justice to the nations. Isaiah 50:4, and the few verses that follow, is distinctly separated from the verses before it, such that some of our English translations demarcate it with a subtitle that indicates that the Servant is speaking. 

The Servant describes himself as having a tongue like that of a disciple—like one who has taken the time to listen, to sit at the feet of a teacher and gain wisdom. It describes a level of deference, a willingness to be trained in how to speak, to be trained as one who is taught—in order to become a teacher. It’s not a robotic repetition of something, but a posture of discipline from which a disciple speaks. A disciple has learned how to speak and because he has learned how to speak, he knows what words to say…and when to say them. He therefore has the ability to sustain a weary person (affirm or enable that person to keep going) with a word. Wow. 

The second part of that verse describes a process. In the mornings, the Servant sat before God (Mark 1:35) and then He would hear what God was saying and speak what God would say (John 7:16). We see the examples of this in the Gospels, and it becomes so easy for us to relegate this again simply to the role and character of Jesus in the earth. Yes, He demonstrated this so powerfully in His earthly ministry, and we can’t do it how He did, but we are called to imitate Him. In the servant song itself, the Servant describes His tongue as like that of a disciple. I read what follows, then, as a characteristic that all disciples should have. 

Whether someone is a disciple of Christ or not, we all as people learn how and what to speak from what we observe, listen to, and “awaken our ears” to. We have an opportunity for that to be from a place of wisdom.  

So, how do we apply this? Seeking God in the morning, we can pray that He opens our eyes to see others (those weary and suffering) with compassion and that He stirs our hearts with a noble, pleasant theme so we can speak words of life to those that need it (Psalm 45:1). Secondly, we can ask God to open our ears to hear His heart and His words for the people that we will speak to or encounter that day—and each day. Lastly, we can ask God to train us to teach others with our words, to give “faithful instruction” (Proverbs 31:26), because “there is [so much] healing in the words of the wise” (Proverbs 12:18).

The world is weary. So many people need words from those who have learned how to use words in a way that bring life, restoration, and empowerment. Put simply: “Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good (encouraging) word cheers it up.” (Proverbs 12:25). We are reminded to give a good word to build others up according to the need of the moment, so that it will benefit those that listen (Ephesians 4:29). Fitly spoken words. 

We are justified by our words; do we speak in a way that reflects our discipleship? We speak from what’s in our hearts; have our hearts been awakened with compassion? Have we learned to curb ‘empty’ words? It is not always easy. The Servant passage in Isaiah 50 later describes the scorn and rejection that He faced. But we have beautiful promises tied to our words written in the scriptures themselves, that show how we overcome. 

I’m reminded also of a poem by the late W.S. Merwin called “Language.” In the poem, he describes the words that we no longer say and the ones we’ll never say again and how “We need them./ Like the back of the picture.” In one interpretation of this (though it may not be his), the words we choose not to say remind us of where we’ve been, how we’ve grown, changed, and, hopefully, become better stewards of our words. In his poem, the words we never use again stand ready to bear witness (to that transformation), “trembling already for the day of witness.” 

Another beautiful image.

-Rebekah Lynn

Letting go of Control

by Malana Barton

I wish I knew how this story would end, how it would all turn out, for each of us. If only I knew what would happen in the next chapter.If this dream comes true or if this foretold disaster comes to pass.

Then I’d be alright.

I could march on with the confidence of knowing.

Have you ever though like that? Wanting just a little extra certainty of the future, perhaps especially nowadays as the world has spun out of our control.

I have — at least to some degree. I’ve stood, head tipped to the stars hoping for a little assurance of a steady tomorrow. I’ve even thought, If only I knew this would turn out okay, then it would be so much easier to trust God!

But I’m afraid that isn’t trust.

Trust is a beautiful childlike assurance in a strength other than your own… and letting go of your own control.

Try as we might, we are never going to know what happens in our tomorrows. Oh, we can plan.

But everything is exposed to change. Weather can change, people can change. Laws can change.

But God never changes. And really, that’s enough to know.

We don’t need to know if so and so will meet expectations or if such and such will happen to us when we know that the God of all time holds our future.

I’ve always loved knowing things. Perhaps not in an over the top controlling way, but still. I like details. Really, it is just a part of my personality, and by itself not a bad thing — until that desire to know draws swords against trust.

Trusting God means to rely on, take confidence in, His ability, His strength, His knowledge — Not your own.

You are not the author of this story.

You can hand yourself over to your Creator with the assurance that He has every day of your life planned out before you live it. (Psalms 139: 16) You have no need to worry about any of them.

Trusting God leaves us free to live in the present moment of this wonderful journey.

Cast off the need to know, to over prepare, the habit of worrying about the future too much to live in the present, give it all to God and trust Him to fulfill his promise.

“Trust in the Lord will all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

God does not make empty promises. He does not do abandonment. (Deuteronomy 31: 8)

Sometimes we hear Bible verses so often or for so long we forget to take to heart their amazing significances. Proverbs 3 is a promise not to be taken lightly. He promises to make our paths straight! He tells us to trust Him.

He has got all of this in the palm of his hand, He is your author and believe me, He does not want you worrying your way through this Story.

Even when you have times like Piper from the Voyage of the Sandpiper, when it seems nothing is going right. She is miles from home and miles further from her mother, who fights tuberculosis in Switzerland. Piper’s mother writes to her:

“I know this is not what we planned, but I want you to know that I completely trust God in this matter, though my own heart is a bit shaken at the moment. I wish you could have come too, but this is simply not a place for children. You must know that things are not always as they seem.

God’s plan for our lives is not always what we want. Whatever happens, I want you to know that I love you and God loves you too. Agatha darling, no matter what anyone may say, don’t give up hope.”

Expert from the Voyage of the Sandpiper.

Don’t give up hope.

This is not your battle, but God’s. He is only waiting for your trust.

Trusting can be scary. I hear you. It can feel so much like giving up. And in a way, it is. Giving up your control. But not to no one, not for no reason.

And not in your own strength. We can’t do any of this by ourselves. Our ‘in our own strength’ attempts are destined for eventual failure. But our God promises to lead us, give us strength to do all things through Him.

It can be a daunting first step, one where we may pause and say, how do I even do this in the first place? Because as much as trust can be patted down to a basic fundament of Christian living, it is so much bigger, so much more beautiful.

A wise woman once told me, “We trust our friends because we have gotten to know them, to love them, found them dependable. It is the same way with God, if we find ourselves struggling to trust Him, it’s likely because He feels unknown to us.”

I might be paraphrasing, but her point was — and mine is — trust grows as you get to know God.

Let me encourage you to take your cares to Him, talk to Him, spend time within the words of the Bible. And you will find we have no reason to ever doubt our God.

After a while of Piper spending time reading her Bible and giving her cares to God, her friend Peter notices something different about her. Her reply to him?

“I’m trying to consciously make an effort to let go of my need to know the future and instead trust God for the best.”

Piper goes from seeing hope as a bitter waste of time, to learning that God has a beautiful plan for her life. He is in control of what happens to her mother, to her, and all of the world as it spins close to war. She realizes there is nothing her worry can do, nothing that she can control.

And once she reaches that point, it is only a matter of time before she learns that God does have all things in control. And that there is reason to hope.

Corrie ten Boom put it beautifully: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may

overflow with hope by the power of the Holy spirit. ‘

Romans 15:13

In Him,

Malana

Malana Rei Barton, Wiltshire UK
Hope House Press 2022 Intern

BROTHER LAWRENCE

by 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.

Courage

by Tal Haroni

Only be strong and very courageous

Joshua 1:7


I heard someone defining courage as taking an action without knowing what will be the outcome of it.
The Lord is asking us to be strong and very courageous in our walk with Him, to trust fully in His good plan for our lives.


In fact, in everything we do in life we are in need of courage. Especially when it relates to other people – we need courage to start a new job or finish well an old one; it takes courage to go back to school; it takes courage to get to know new people and show them the real you; it takes courage to start dating with the hope of marriage; and it even takes courage to bring children to the world.


What is it that we’re so afraid of?

Going out of our comfort zone?

Loosing control?

Not knowing what lies ahead?

For some people the new and the unknown is exciting, but personally it scares me. My mind starts to wonder what would happen, how would I react, would I be able to enjoy it, is it going to produce the outcome I was hoping for or not? And more.


One of the things I tend to do when all of these questions running in my head, is a small thought exercise. I ask myself a simple question like – what the worst that could happen? What if I would fail? These questions start to neutralize the fear. Because in the end of the day, I know for sure that God is with me wherever I go, and He promised me (and you) that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28). So, here’s a different question to ask yourself while facing fear and when you’re in need of courage – am I loved by God, am I called according to His purpose? And if so, do I really believe God holds me, and will fulfil His word?


Actually, when we face fear it’s a great opportunity to grow in our faith and trust in God. A friend of mine described it by this picture – it’s like a man climbing a rock, when God telling him: “release your grip. I’m down here, and I will catch you!”


That’s exactly what God did with Joshua, He knew He was afraid and uncertain in his new position but He kept on calling him higher. Every time we’re called to face our fears it’s for a greater jump in our courage, our trust and our faith in God.


What is this thing you’re in need for courage today?


From what He is calling you to let go of your comfort and the securities of this world?
He is inviting you, and I, to a self-examination and to think if there are things you avoided doing because of fear?


Maybe you keep on giving excuses, why you shouldn’t do things because you’re not sure what would be the result?


Or maybe you still think your way is the only way to go?


In any case, God is inviting you to a higher walk with Him, He invites you to walk hand in hand with the creator and to trust He has your best interest in mind!


Hold on to courage, knowing no mater what happen, God is on your side, He is for you, not against you, He loves you and you are called according to His will and purpose.

Tal Haroni lives in Jerusalem, Israel.

Tal Haroni lives in Jerusalem, Israel. You can reach her at haroni@reviveisrael.org

The Two Roads

By Emily Glasner

God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined good, or evil. Man, in his state of innocence, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God; but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.

The Westminster Confession of Faith IX:I-III:

The Bible describes through story, imagery and poetry, the two options each person is presented in life. There are two roads, two ways, two consequences. 

  • For Adam and Eve, the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:9). 
  • For Cain, the choice to succumb to the sin at his door, or the choice to do what was right (Genesis 4:7).
  • Abraham could leave his home and start the family of faith or stay where he was. 
  • The Israelites could have trusted in God instead of complaining against Him in the wilderness, avoiding the consequences of wandering for decades (Numbers 14). 
  • Saul could have destroyed his enemies and not been rejected as king (1 Samuel 15). 

The two-road choice continues through the narrative of Scripture. The histories describe obedience and idolatry. Psalms reveal the wicked and the godly. Proverbs the wise and the foolish. The Prophetic literature points out the existence of evil and the option for nations to change their ways. 

Each road has a direction.

Each road flows through the stages of history. 

Every person has experienced the consequences of taking the road both ways at one time or another, and every life has the opportunity to divert its own stream to go where it chooses to go. This raises centuries-long debates around God’s will and man’s freedom and where the one starts and the other stops. However, here I will try to just focus on God’s heart and man’s heart. 

God is involved in our decisions as much as the allowance of our total freewill permits. Choosing life is not impossible, and it is the choice he asks us to make (Deuteronomy 30:19). 

The Road to Life

The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him.

The Westminster Confession of Faith VIII: V. 

The ability to choose life is empowered ultimately through the divine mystery called grace summed in Jesus, the Messiah. God, who points us through the ancient narratives, to the river of good, of obedience, of wisdom, prosperity, and blessing is not only on the banks. He appears in flesh to reveal the road, the river, the life, the way, the truth and the direction, and it is all in and through Him (John 14:6). 

In our humanity, we will continue to be presented with two choices until we are united with Jesus in the heavenly places (if we continue to choose what God asks us to choose). 

Jesus explains our freedom in Matthew 7:13, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way” (NLT). Lest the one seem too hard and the other too easy, he explains in John 6:29 that the key to the choice is faith, “…This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”  

While obeying God is difficult at times and believing in Jesus so demanding it will cost you everything, the alternative is very grim… death itself. This death road, while wide, is also increasingly demanding, and we witness its chaos, entropy and decay every day. The voice calling us to divert to the wide way promises every temptation common to man but delivers hell (1 Corinthians 10:13). 

So, being empowered through Jesus’ sacrifice, choose life. We must not follow Cain’s example, and instead choose what is right. We should follow Abraham’s example and choose to leave everything to follow God. We should, unlike the Israelites in the desert, choose to trust God and not to complain. Unlike Saul, we should choose to completely destroy every enemy in life that keeps us from fully obeying God.

Today, I want to encourage you to learn from history’s lessons and choose to obey rather than rebel. We should learn from the wisdom literature and choose wisdom. We should learn from the Psalms and choose the way of the godly and learn from the prophets to turn our backs on evil. And ultimately, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:2, NLT). 

The Sanctified Table

By Tamara Glasner

They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity” (Acts 2:46, Holy Bible, New Living Translation).

In your sanctuary, you and the Holy Spirit are in charge of creating a peaceful nurturing environment.  

Of course, this will look different in every home. Our family dinner is a happy experience (for the most part) because we protect each other in that space. We all try to focus on listening to each other’s events from the day, and making everyone feel safe by concentrating on encouragement and positive feedback.

I love it when we start with prayer, and end sometimes with a song of worship together.

Over the last few years, we’ve learned that there are some practical tools you can incorporate into meal times to keep the peace. For one thing, we avoid heavy, potentially confrontational topics during our family meals. Guard the sanctity of your table. Let it be a space of peace that everyone can count on as a place to gather, commune, and rest. At least 30 minutes of the day can be calm and nourishing for everyone at once if you protect that space. Creating a sanctuary at the dinner table for your family, friends, and strangers can open a door for the Holy Spirit to bring unexpected joy, life and healing. 

Now… when we fail miserably—when someone ends up in tears because of a thoughtless word, when little ones wind up in their rooms for time out, when Mom and Dad use their outdoor voices because they don’t feel heard, there is still hope.  The blood of Jesus and His ability to unify a family can redeem even the worst family dinner imaginable. 

What do you do when things go south? When the pasta is growing cold and the tension is rising? Go low. Ask God for help. Reconvene. Think back, prayerfully, about what went wrong, and then, ask God to heal the space where words or looks given in anger caused pain or offense. Help one another through forgiveness and apologies without shaming the guilty or becoming too angry. You don’t have to wait for a new day to deal with the issue at hand. You can stop what you are doing, sweep your house free from tension, and enjoy the rest of your evening (or morning, or afternoon). Your home can be a sanctuary.

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/

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