John Adams

I have just finished reading John Adams by David McCullough.

What an amazing read!

Though I do enjoy history, I do not care for politics. David McCullough did a masterful job of weaving Adams’ biography with the detailed politics of the early United States. It was a compelling narrative that kept me engaged to the very end.  

The author leads us through John Adams’ studies to become a lawyer, his early law practice, both the Continental Congress sessions, his time oversees as an ambassador, his vice-presidency, his presidency and his retirement. Adams’ personal diary and his thousands of letters give us great insight into not only what he did, but how he thought and how he felt. It was fascinating!

John Adams was a major player in the building of our nation. He was incredibly intelligent while still maintaining his personal integrity. His thorough understanding of world politics, philosophy and human nature were paramount in his adamant stand for America’s independence and continued strength. He worked tirelessly to build the ground work for our nation.

“I fear that in every elected office, members will obtain an influence by noise not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls… There must be decency and respect.” John Adams

“He who loves the Workman and His work, and does what he can to preserve and improve it, shall be accepted of Him.” John Adams

 “The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…. Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.” John Adams

John Adams – we need you today!

Heal Our Land

Texas. Ohio. Nevada. Florida. Georgia. Colorado. North Carolina. Arkansas. Alabama. Virginia. Connecticut. California. Oklahoma. New York. District of Columbia. Missouri. Maryland. Indiana. Tennessee. Rhode Island. Kentucky. Mississippi. Michigan. Oregon. Wisconsin. Pennsylvania. Washington. Louisiana. Michigan. Iowa. South Carolina. New Mexico. Massachusetts. Hawaii. Nebraska. West Virginia. Vermont. Minnesota. New Jersey.

A Very Sad Face…

We are a nation in mourning. The senseless killing continues. We Must do something.

2 Chronicles 7:14

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 

God’s promise is an If, Then promise. If people do this, Then God will do that. Our step comes first.

  • Be Humble
  • Pray
  • Seek His Face
  • Turn from Wicked Ways

Micah 6:8

“He has shown you, O man, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Pray, Read the Bible, Ask God what he wants in your heart and in your life.

Then Listen. Please, Stop and Listen.

Psalm 95:1-2

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” 

Investing in My Community

The summer has been unusually busy, but it has also been extraordinarily rewarding. Last summer a fledgling library was started in my rural community. We squished a few donated book shelves into a small store on main street. The store owners graciously allowed us to use their store, and we began accepting used books of every kind. This tiny town had never had, in its entire history, a library. The county library is 30 miles away for some of our residents, not convenient enough to make use of. Books poured in. Fiction filled half our space, but we also had sections for history, travel (if outdated tour books of Mexico count), pets, and of coarse self-help. A few people wandered in occasionally. More books were sent our way. And more books. And more.  

Colorful fiction fills our shelves.

It became obvious that we needed more space – and more patrons. We launched a community meeting and began looking at empty spaces around town. In our one traffic light town of 1,200 residents, there were not many options. We quickly ran into the ever-present wall: no money. The great thing about a small community is that everyone talks to everyone. News travels faster than a speeding bullet. We simply mentioned to a few people that we needed non-profit status and to begin fundraising. The very next day we were told that we had non-profit status under a community services non-profit in town. Someone had told the president, the president had sent out an email, all members voted in the affirmative by email, and it was done. They had become our umbrella.

We blinked our eyes and shook our head. “Wait! We aren’t ready.” It doesn’t matter. It was a done deal. Then the money began pouring in. People would stop by and hand us $100. “You are doing a great thing here!” they would say. And the books poured in.

Several months went by in the arduous task of looking for – and agreeing on – the new location. Though I hated the process of heated debate, the needed evaluation and discussion were very valuable. It was also a huge turning point for us. We went from a tiny store corner to our very own building. We also had to look into the face of a monthly commitment to paying rent and utilities. That was scary! We are just a tiny group of people in a tiny town. Many times, someone in the group would say, “We don’t have to move. Let’s stay here. We don’t have the money.” And it was true, we didn’t have the money. We only had a vision of what could be.

The local civic club handed us a check for $5,000. We put on a fundraising dinner and earned another $1,000. We were off!

Moving day was June 1. People came out of the woodwork to pack and move boxes of books. There we were, standing in a large open room – with only a couple of tiny mismatched bookcases. Now what were we going to do?

New book shelves – Lots of boxes of books.

Our president of the board stepped up and said he would build them. He designed, built, stained and clear coated each bookcase. We were all amazed! As soon as he set a finished bookcase in the new library, we would fill it with books. More books poured in. One trailer brought 30 boxes! We now have over 6,000 linear feet of book shelf space and we are still building.

Though the library is still a work in progress, last Saturday we were overflowing with visitors. A local celebration brought many people to town, and they all had to come and see their new library. Little ones found cute board books, pre-teens found chapter books, grandmothers found new fiction to read and the history buffs had more than a myriad of titles to choose from. The library’s copier, computers and internet access now give low income residents a place to connect with the world for no cost. Anyone can now walk in the door and engage their love of reading. Where there was once nothing, now there is a warm hub of friendship that links us with literacy.

And the best part of it all? When we volunteers are long gone, new generations will walk in this door and take a book off the shelf.

How have you invested in your community? What do communities need more of these days?

Created for Relationship

When God created the world, He did so with Relationship at its core. Humanity was created in order to be in Relationship with God, and in Relationship with one another.

If either one of these Relationship Dynamics is off track, then our emotional, mental and spiritual health is out of balance. We begin to try to fill the holes with many other things: money, sex, material possessions, power over others … the list goes on.

If both of these Relationship Dynamics are in good working order, then we are able to grow into mature Christians, who are in turn able to give to others who are in need.

Those are the simply basics of how life works.

When God created Adam and Eve, there was perfect union with both God and with each other. The two people walked with God in the garden, talking with Him and being open and honest with each other. Genesis 2:25 says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” This is not only about no clothes. This is two people being completely intimate physically, but also emotionally. They were in harmony. They were vulnerable with each other, not hiding anything. They “knew” each other completely. There was no shame.

We were created to be in that kind of Relationship with both God and others. To be open and honest. To be intimate. To be accepted.

Someone once asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the world is. Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-39

Everything in life comes down to these two Relationships.

We must be reconciled to God. We must ask His forgiveness and we must cultivate a daily relationship with Him.

We must reconnect with others. We must care for each other, forgive each other, reach out in love and support for each other.

Photo courtesy of Fairfax.gov

So how do we do this? Jesus gives us this very important directive in living our lives. “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  John 14:13   

James tells us, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

We know what God wants for us and what we need – Intimate and Honest Relationship.

We know the first step in getting those Relationships. Prayer. Talk to God. Admit that you need Relationship and ask Him to help you restore them.

That is asking in Jesus’ Name and He will do it.

Is there a Relationship in your life that needs restoring? Start working on it today.

Shame/Fear/Self-Doubt

“You can’t do it.”

“Half the people will laugh at you; the other half will be disgusted at your incompetence.”

Image from: lifehack.org

These voices -and many others just like them – shoot through my thoughts time and again. Every time I hear them, the knot in my stomach gives a lurch and pulls tighter.

I am working on a large project that affects many people throughout my small community. I have spear-headed this project before and it was quite successful. So why do those feelings return?

What exactly am I feeling?

Shame? Self-doubt? Fear? Timidity? Yes, I think so.

Shame = a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior (either real or perceived)

Self-doubt = lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities.

Fear = of disgrace, embarrassment, degradation, being demeaned.

Timidity = a lack of courage or confidence, fearful, apprehensive, frightened, scared, faint-hearted.

Image from: https://dailybreadforlife.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/shame.jpg?w=798&h=600&crop=1

I push the thoughts back into the recess of my mind. Don’t let them out! The knot in my stomach grows again.

Where do these thoughts come from?

My mother was very much this way. So, did it come to me by way of DNA? Or maybe learned behavior? My father often seemed to take delight in pointing out, quite loudly, where I had failed. Our self-image formed in childhood is quite powerful – for good or for bad.

Yet – I am an adult now. I have not lived with my parents for over 30 years. Certainly, I cannot blame them any longer for my thought patterns that I have this week.

Insight for Living has a devotional video that I have watched several times that is titled Our Weaknesses.

With a big, hearty smile, Chuck Swindoll talks about how great it is when we admit our weaknesses.

Really? What a relief it would be!

Instead of pushing back those thoughts, it is now time for me to bring them into the light. Stare them in the face. Examine them carefully. Talk about them.

Yes, it is true. I am not perfect. Never have been, never will be.

I will do my best. I will ask for help.

I will take everything to God in prayer! I will let the Holy Spirit flow through me!

Now! Time to get back to work on this project. It will be great!

Slug IPA

A wonderful spring vacation last year, in May, the prime spring gardening month, led to an extremely unusual June in the garden. My strawberry patch had produced well the previous two summers. My husband had built a wire fence arch over the top which we covered with bird netting. The berries grew red, juicy and plump. Yet two weeks away from home last spring had put me seriously behind.

One cool evening in early June, I strolled out to wander through the lush garden. I leaned over to peer closely at the berries, adjusting my glasses a bit.

A slug!

I picked him off, throwing him in the grass and twisting him into the ground with the toe of my garden shoe. I turned over a few strawberry leaves to see if there were more there. There always are!

Yes! Lots more.

I picked and smushed and picked and smashed. Once I grew weary of this routine, I retreated to the house, found a small jar lid and pulled an IPA beer out of the fridge. Back in the garden, I sunk the jar lid into the ground just far enough for the soil level to lead the vermin straight into the lethal beer. I poured the rich smelling IPA into the lid, then resumed my slug hunt.

Two minutes later I looked up from my search under a particularly large strawberry plant and spotted slugs everywhere, headed straight for the beer “barrel”. Who said slugs are slow? Not me! They were all making tracks straight for the IPA, more coming out of the shadows all the time. My stomach sank. This was a true infestation.

I gave up and went inside. I thought I would empty the beer barrel in the morning and start again.

Early the next morning, I tiptoed quietly out to the strawberry bed. The beer barrel was overflowing with dead, slimy slug bodies. I gave a deep sigh as I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had not made a dent in the slug population.

That evening, I refilled the beer barrel and left the wire fence off of the strawberries. I just knew the birds would come and eat any slugs that couldn’t fit in the beer barrel. Smugly, I went off to bed, sleeping well at the thought of my genius.

The next morning, I rose early and dashed out, expecting to see a clean strawberry bed. The beer barrel was tipped out of the ground and thrown a foot away, half of the strawberry plants had been thrashed, and sliding along through this devastation were countless more slugs.

The birds had drunk the IPA, eaten what strawberries the slugs had missed, and apparently waved a hearty good-bye to the slugs as they flew off, well satisfied with the slug IPA I had served up for them.

Invisible Forces

The evil king of Aram was out to kill the king of Israel and plunder the countryside. 2 Kings 6 Time and again he plotted where and when to attack the Israelites. Yet the king of Israel was warned each and every time and made well his escape. When the evil king was notified that Elisha the prophet was the source of the military leaks, the king sent horses and chariots along with a strong army force to get rid of the man of God.

The Arameans surrounded the city where Elisha and his servant were staying. In the early morning, Elisha’s servant stepped outside to begin preparations for the day – there was the enemy army! They were all around!

The servant ran back inside and shouted at his master, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?”

Elisha was not concerned. “Don’t worry about it,” he told his servant. We have a bigger army than they do. As a puzzled servant stood there with a muddled look on his face, Elisha prayed. “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.”

The servant did not know what was out there. Even the enemy army did not know what was out there. Yet God had provided all that was needed – more than what was needed. They just couldn’t see it.

For we live by faith, not by sight.   2 Corinthians 5:7

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  2 Kings 6

Chris Tomlin wrote a wonderful song about this “God of angel armies.”

The chorus goes like this:

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind

The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

Listen to the entire song here:

Angels are real. Angel armies are real. But most importantly, God is real. Pray and ask Him to open your eyes.