Feeling Life's Heat? Hydrate

It’s been an unusually hot summer for Seattle. Way too many days hitting temperatures in the high 80s and mid 90s in my opinion. C’mon! The Pacific Northwest is supposed to maintain moderate temps, after all.

My husband and I are fortunate. We put in central air a few years ago, which has provided reprieve from the heat. But we have needed to spend countless hours watering in order save the yard and many flowers I plant from withering and dying.

When petunias are wilted from lack of moisture, geraniums are often still standing tall. They can take a lot of heat.

But even geraniums, after being exposed day after day to high temperatures, need water to survive.

Our spiritual lives can be like that.

Maybe we’ve grown up in a Christian home, or have been a believer for awhile. It can sometimes be easy to convince ourselves that our relationship with God is strong enough.

We may attend church once a week—or not that frequent—and feel that we're good to go until we’re inclined to return. We may never read our Bible, convinced we’ve heard it all.

But does occasionally attending church on Sunday always help you deal with:

* the project your boss throws on your desk on Monday?

* the unexpected bill that arrives in the mail on Tuesday?

* the argument you have with your spouse on Wednesday?

* the notice at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday that your twelve-year-old needs school supplies for the next day?

* the car breaking down on the highway on Friday?

* the unrealistic expectations of an aging parent on Saturday?

Like geraniums needing water to thrive—even the very strong and faithful Christian needs hydration. Spiritual hydration.

But how do we do that?

I admire people who get up early in the morning to read their Bibles and spend time in prayer. I’m not one of them. I’m not a morning person. I already get up at 5:00 a.m. to get ready for work. Rising even earlier is NOT going to happen.

So I find other ways to daily connect with God. I pray in the car on my way to work. Writing articles, blog posts, and devotions requires me to study the Bible and look at daily scenarios in the context of my spiritual life. I’m blessed to have a spouse and grown children who openly talk about their faith—as well as friends who challenge me to grow in my relationship with God.

All those things help keep me hydrated spiritually and better equipped to deal with the “heat” that gets thrown my way.

How about you?

Here are a few ideas:

* Throw a small devotional in your purse or backpack.

* Listen to messages or Christian music on CDs in the car.

* Read blogs – like this one - that hopefully challenge you to think about your spiritual life.

* Read Christian fiction. You’ll find spiritual truths woven into great stories.

* Join a mid-week Bible study.

* Find a friend who is willing to talk about their own daily faith struggles and blessings.

* If you love movies, there are excellent productions with Christian based themes without being preachy. Check out any of writer/actor/producer Tyler Perry’s work. His movies deal with real issues and contain both comedic and dramatic elements.

Have a great week – and stay hydrated!


"Scared" by Tom Davis

As a writer, striving to grow in my craft, it’s rare that I’m able to read a novel without analyzing what works. Or what doesn’t work.

But once I started reading Scared by Tom Davis, I became totally lost in the story and lives of the characters.

Almost just as elusive, is finding a book that challenges me to look at people, situations, and my own life differently.

Scared is such a book.

Based on real situations and real people, the author weaves a powerful story about poverty, the AIDS crisis, and the need for assistance in Africa. It’s gripping – emotional – touching – sweet – beautiful - and heart wrenching.

I highly recommend reading this novel. Just don’t read it in a crowd of people—or without a box of tissues handy.

Book Blurb

Stuart Daniels has hit bottom. Once a celebrated and award-winning photojournalist, he is now reeling from debt, a broken marriage, and a crippling depression. The source of Stuart’s grief is his most famous photo: a snapshot of brutality in the dangerous Congo. A haunting image that indicts him as a passive witness to gross injustice.

Stuart is given one last chance to redeem his career: a make-or-break assignment covering the AIDS crisis in a small African country. It is here that Stuart meets Adanna, a young orphan fighting for survival in a community ravaged by tragedy and disease. But in the f ace of overwhelming odds, Adanna finds hope in a special dream, where she is visited by an illuminated man and given a precious gift.

Now, in a dark place that’s a world away from home, Stuart will once again confront the harsh reality of a suffering people in a forgotten land. And as a chance encounter becomes divine providence, two very different people will find their lives forever changed.

To find out more about Tom and Scared, please visit http://www.scaredthebook.com/

Tom Davis is the accomplished author of Red Letters and Fields of the Fatherless. He holds a business and pastoral ministry degree from Dallas Baptist University and a master’s degree in theology from the Criswell College. He is the president and CEO of Children’s HopeChest (http://www.hopechest.org/), a Christian-based child-advocacy organization helping orphans in Eastern Europe and Africa. Tom and his wife, Emily, have seven children, including two adopted from Russia.

Restoring Hope

My grandmother would have loved my friend, Rick Daviscourt.

A woman of faith, my grandmother’s Bible was a treasured possession. People with prestigious job titles didn’t impress her. She most admired and respected those who gave up a life of personal achievement to serve the poor and spread God’s word as missionaries.

I met Rick by coincidence about six years ago. We happened to be in the same place at the same time. He noticed I was reading a Christian novel and struck up a conversation. We’ve kept in touch since.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Luke 18:16 NIV)

Rick is the president of Restoring Hope International, an organization he created after working with a similar ministry in Peru. RHI reaches out and cares for abandoned and abused children living on city streets in Peru. If you had the chance to sit and talk with him, you’d find him to be very passionate about his calling.

In order to carry out this work, Rick learned to speak fluent Spanish. He and his wife downsized their living accommodations here in Washington. He spends part of his time in Peru at the sites with the children, and part of his time back here with his family, speaking, and raising funds to keep the ministry going.

Connected with a prayer group via email, I’m able to get updates on immediate needs. When a child is in danger, I’m made aware. These children are no longer strangers in another country. It's become personal.

The Torre Fuerte Project

Torre Fuerte means Strong Tower. This site is located in Arequipa, on the western slopes of the Andes at an altitude of 7,200 feet. The facility, under construction, will house up to 50 girls.

Another project opened its doors in 2004 and gives round-the-clock care to 48 girls ranging from 3-20 years of age.

Food, shelter, education, self-esteem, and love is given to these children and young adults.

Although this location maintains three businesses on site to help with costs of caring for the girls, it’s impossible to cover all needs with those profits alone.

Pachacutec Project

Parchacutec is located 1 1/2 hours north of Lima, Peru. Government authorities trucked destitute families out of the city with the promise of free land and housing. The community is still without running water and modern sewers. The extreme poverty and lack of medical help has caused diseases to run rampant. Due to lack of work, fathers abandon their families or force the children to leave the home. Alone, mothers can’t care for their children and leave them with relatives, who may also abandon the children.

Children, from a very early age, wander the streets trying to survive.

The goals here are to:

* Help at risk children and adults by providing them a spiritual haven in the midst of the turbulence of poverty.

* Provide children and adults with medical aid, food and other basic necessities.

* Construct a school that will provide a quality education to the children of that area.

Delia’s Story

Delia – in the picture here with Rick - was born in 1997, the offspring of a man and his sister-in-law. Her mother left, leaving her in the care of her father and his wife. The result was that Delia was unloved and unwanted.

As she grew older, she was required to do chores, but was frequently beaten for not doing them correctly or finishing fast enough. There are no birthday presents or celebrations for her, like there were for the other children.

When she was 10, the flu season hit, and she became very ill. Delia was still expected to complete her chores. While her parents were at work, she ran away to the Catholic church, where she found help and was placed in the Torre Fuerte home.

Today she knows that there are people who love her. God loves her. And she has hope.

Not everyone is called to leave their homes and jobs to travel to foreign countries and spread the word. Sometimes we’re called to remain here and do what we can in our own communities. Sometimes we carry the responsibility of contributing financially where we can to help those who are in the trenches, getting their hands dirty.

But maybe we need to ask ourselves - are we doing all that we can?

If you’d like more information on this ministry, please visit Restoring Hope International

Have a great week!

Slime in Your Heart?

When I moved to Seattle from Minneapolis fifteen years ago, I exchanged the Minnesota state bird—the mosquito—for spiders and slugs.

Slugs vary in color, but around here, they’re usually shades of brown to black. They come in a variety of sizes, from tiny to HUGE. Really. I’ve seen a few that resembled small snakes. And that’s not much of an exaggeration. Our native banana slugs can grow to 10 inches long and weigh a quarter-pound. And they can eat several times their body weight each day.

It’s amazing the ugly creatures, who move sooooo slowly, can cover a lot of territory. You’ll find them lounging on your deck, climbing up stairs to your front door, or resting in the shade of a freshly watered plant.

I take an odd sadistic sense of pleasure in pouring salt over their bodies and watching them dehydrate into pools of mush.

Slugs love to eat flowers—especially my petunias—and they leave their slime on the chewed leaves as their calling card. Even those planted in pots and placed higher above ground. It’s frustrating to see the blooms and leaves chewed to nothing over night after months of giving them tender, loving care.

But we’ve had a bit of a reprieve this summer. The higher than normal temperatures have driven slugs farther underground. They don't like the sun's light or warmth. They prefer a cool, dark, and damp environment.

It’s pretty much like the slimy stuff in our own lives.

You know. Those things that creep up—ever so slowly—but somehow still manage to eat away at what’s good and beautiful in our lives, leaving a bit of slime on our hearts and souls.

Do you struggle with envy?

Perhaps your friend has a better job, makes more money, and seems to have it so much easier.

Maybe you’re the last person in your group of friends still trying to have a family.

And what is it with some woman who have a metabolism that allows them to eat whatever they want without gaining a pound—or exercising. Soooo not fair!

Maybe pride is your downfall.

Or anger.

It could be anything.

Sometimes we won’t let go of those destructive creatures. We enjoy holding on. We choose to stay in the dark. And then we mope or get depressed because we can’t understand why our happiness is not genuine or full.

Sometimes we DO want to change. Unfortunately, throwing salt all over our bodies won’t kill our imperfections.

But there is a way to be free of them.

Stay close to the Light and bask in the warmth of the Son.

Jesus will forgive. And He’ll give us the strength needed to fight whatever is ugly in our lives.

Lord, cover me with Your salt!

Have a great week. And next time you feel one of the "uglies" coming on - just visualize yucky slug slime. It may help!


Who Needs Unconditional Love?

Okay—so a year ago I would never in my wildest imagination—and as a writer, mine can get pretty wild—have dreamed I'd choose to listen to country music.

Not only choose, but enjoy.

It wasn’t my fault that I got hooked.

The fault lies in the clock radio that wouldn’t pick up my former favorite station without accompanying the music with obnoxious static.

Not wanting to wake up to static, I dialed in a radio station that didn’t include play heavy metal music or crude DJs. I ended up with country.

But what I discovered was music that had lost the twang and dog kicking lyrics of former years. The now generation of country sang upbeat songs—songs with great melodies—and words that told honest, heartfelt stories.

The other morning, while driving to work, I listened to the delightful banter between the husband and wife DJ team on the country station I listen to.

They played a beautiful new ballad that spoke of unconditional love. In the song, the father waits for a daughter who left home years ago. He leaves a message on the phone, just in case she calls. His friends tell him too much time has gone by and he should just give up and erase the message, but he refuses.

Eventually the daughter does call—afraid of how her father will respond. But all she hears are his words that no matter where she’s been—or what she’s done—he’ll always love her, and to please come home.

As I listened, tears welled up in my eyes.

Yes, it sounds sappy. But I can assure you, it wasn’t.

A female called the radio station, sobbing. She, too, had been driving to work when the song came across the air. The young woman was so emotionally affected by the music and lyrics, she had to pull to the side of the road.

I don’t know the woman’s story. But something got a hold at the core of her heart.

Unconditional love.

Who wants it?

Who needs it?

I believe we all do.

God gives it. No matter where we’ve been, or what we’ve done, He’ll never stop loving us. He’ll never turn us away. His arms will always be open.

Just as He gives us unconditional love—we have the opportunity to give it to others.

Is there someone in your life who needs it today?


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