Archive for the ‘Sidetrails’ Category

The Blessings of Family

September 10, 2012

Last week I went on a vacation trip to Tennessee with my parents, Allen and Pat, and their closest friends, Ron and Lil. It’s been a few years since I traveled with my family, and I enjoyed the honor of tagging along with their foursome. We had a lot of fun together. Truly, you cannot beat the unscripted hilarity of minivan conversations between people of a certain age who have all experienced hearing loss to some degree. 

Aside from the giggles, however, this trip gave me time to reflect once again on the many ways my family has blessed me. I’ll mention just a few…. 

I got to grow up in a home with both of my parents always there. My mom and dad have been married for 51 years and counting. I think it’s pretty impressive that, even now, whenever their church offers opportunities for marriage enrichment weekends, my parents sign right up and set a great example for all the other married couples in their congregation. 

All my life, and especially during the impressionable years of my childhood, I have never had a moment of doubt that I was loved and valued. My family always made sure I knew that I was precious to them—but at the same time they allowed me to be who I wanted to be. As I grew into adolescence, I was trusted and free to make independent decisions, which I feel sure helped me to become a more confident woman. 

Of course, I grew up in a Christian home where my parents lived what they believed and nurtured my spiritual growth. They supported my participation in every week of summer church camp and every Christian conferences and evangelistic campaign I ever wished to attend. Later on, they found a way to send me to private Christian college when that was the choice I made. 

I’m sure I don’t even know all the sacrifices my parents made for me growing up in West Virginia. There were years when I was very young that my dad taught school until 3 p.m. each weekday then headed downtown to work another four hours at Sears. Later on, as the college years loomed ever closer, my mom got up at the crack of dawn each morning and worked as a cook in our high school kitchen—back when schools served lunches prepared from scratch. I’m sure there were countless times when Mom and Dad did without life’s little comforts and conveniences for my benefit. 

Maybe the most impressive thing is that, even now in their retirement years, they are growing and stretching in their practice of faith. They continue to search the scriptures and remain eager to learn. They have always been great examples as diligent servants in the church, and my 79-year-old dad has been an elder for decades. Yet, when they are challenged to follow the example of Jesus in ways they never have before, they step up in obedience. 

I could go on much longer, but you get the idea that my folks laid an invaluable foundation in my life for my own faith and ministry in the Kingdom. I can only thank God for such a blessing and hope I did half as well for my own daughters.

(PS: Thanks, too, to Ron & Lil, my second set of parents who sang in a gospel quartet with my folks and serenaded me through my adolescence!)

Inspired by an Olympic Victory

August 3, 2012

'London 2012 Gold Medal' photo (c) 2012, Mark Hillary - license:

[Trigger warning]

As news of the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke last fall and Penn State students rallied in support of their football coach, one brave young woman decided to step out and be a voice for the victims of sexual abuse. She was totally disgusted by a culture in which students supported the coach instead of the victims.

““What kind of world do I live in? Are students really doing that?” she asked herself. “When that happened, when the victim was that far away (from people’s minds), I was in shock,” she told a reporter. (Read More)

More Power

July 26, 2012


'Power On Button' photo (c) 2008, LivingOS - license:

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t having any.”
– Alice Walker
Author of The Color Purple

In my previous post, I wrote about women and power—how sometimes women don’t have as much as we would like and how important it is that when women get power we wield it as Jesus did. 

In the context of that post, I wrote about a type of power that can be used to control circumstances and other people, to a degree. Many different kinds of power come our way, however.

We have personal power—the power to choose how we will respond to our external circumstances—the power to believe, to hope, to create, to trust, and the power to reject the evil lies that drag us down and hold us back.

We are also daughters of a powerful God, who shares his power with us:

Power from Prayer 

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

Power from the Spirit:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 

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

And check this out!

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:16-21

 What will you do with the power at work in you?

Putting Power in Its Place

June 27, 2012

I work at the University of Virginia, and today saw the resolution of a power struggle that, for better or worse, pitted the university’s first female president against its first female rector.

It got me thinking about power and women. For the better part of human history, power has resided primarily in the hands of men. In numerous cultures, men’s superior strength and privilege have enabled them to control women—their choices, behaviors, bodies, property, safety, health, and opportunities. Unfortunately, because power can advance selfish gain and can so easily corrupt, powerful people are susceptible to becoming exploitive, even abusive, of those without it. (Read More)

Teaching is listening, Learning is …

October 29, 2011

How would you finish this sentence? 

Educator Deborah Meier says that learning is talking. In other words, real learning comes from being actively involved in the educational moment. Learners are not empty banks in which to deposit information. Searching, thinking, questioning, debating, and applying are all active aspects of learning. 

For this reason, The Gentle Savior is not merely a book in which I tell you what the Bible says and what I think it means. I purposely chose a Bible study format that asks you to do the “talking” – to open your Bible, read for yourself what it says, expand your skills in biblical interpretation, think about the meaning,  let the living and active Word do its work, consider the ramifications and applications of scripture, and prayerfully come to your own conclusions. This, of course, requires more effort on your part. I have no doubt, though, that you are an intelligent, deep thinker who wants to know God better and truly LEARN.

Of course, I love nothing more than sharing this study in person with groups of women as they talk through their learning. As the “teacher,” I love listening as you delve and discover, deliberate and develop. I look forward to listening more via this blog, too, as you put your thoughts into words so they can evolve into new attitudes and behaviors. 

There’s nothing wrong with traditional books, by any means, and someday I may write one. For now, I pray that you will enjoy the same thrill I do in opening up the Bible and letting God speak directly to you about his deep love for his daughters.


By the way, in The Gentle Savior Bible study you also have some opportunities to learn about the Gospels as a literary genre and tips for interpreting this style of writing. If you’d like to learn similar information about studying the New Testament letters, sometimes called the epistles, check out this great two-part article by Matt Proctor in The Christian Standard: Part One and Part Two.