Worship Wednesday – All Good Gifts – Thanksgiving Memories

2006 -- Nov -- Thanksgiving table

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  – James 1:17

For most of 20 years, we lived in North Africa where a Thanksgiving holiday was a foreign concept. “Eid el Shukr” (“Feast of Thanks” in Arabic) was understood but not a day set aside. We, along with other expat Americans, brought Thanksgiving with us and invited our local friends into the experience. On the surface, American Thanksgiving has pretty much three constant components – food, family, and football. In those days of living overseas, watching football on T.V. on Thanksgiving Day was a bit challenging, but these days, it seems, all things are possible.

Now, back in the States, the old traditions are changing. My Mom, who always laid out an incredible Southern-style feast on the kitchen counter back home in Georgia, is no longer with us. As with some of you, I’m sure, I miss her still every day and how she lavished love on us through these family times together. Our children are grown now and establishing their own traditions with more families and friends added into the mix. After so many years being away, we find ourselves needing to re-work our own traditions as well.

Last night, we participated in a community Thanksgiving dinner for international students. This is our fourth year, So I’m thinking it’s a new tradition for us. As we visited with new friends from Iran and Colombia, we marveled at how small the world has become. Enjoying Thanksgiving yummies together with them took us fondly back to our years in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco.

Blog -  International Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

Thanksgiving is, for us, all about food, family, and football…but there’s also another element…faith… I am grateful every day for the kindnesses of God and those he’s placed in my life. Celebrating Thanksgiving allows us to put an exclamation point on being grateful. It’s not just about a tableful of food, although food is clearly a focal point. Thanksgiving, even as a national holiday and not a religious one, focuses our sight beyond ourselves. There is an object in Thanksgiving beyond ourselves.

Over 30 years ago, a funky little Broadway musical was turned into a film – Godspell. It was an adaptation of the life of Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew. At that time, I was in that season of life young people pass through of searching out what I believed. It wasn’t going well at that time. Praise God, He did not forget me during those days when I had all but forgotten Him. Watching Godspell, of all things, was one of the occasions God used to wake me up. There’s a wonder and delight in the young followers of Jesus in the musical. It reminded me of what I had once with God…and what could be again.

All the songs in the musical Godspell are lovely. Composer and Lyricist, Stephen Schwartz, beautifully captured some of Jesus’ teaching and the depth of love and rightness between Him, His followers, and creation, in general. All Good Gifts, adapted from an old hymn, is one such song and is a pure and proper doxology of praise for Thanksgiving.

Worship with me.  [Here’s the YouTube video from Godspell to give you the melody.]

All Good Gifts*
We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land..
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand..
He sends us snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain…
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain…

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love…

We thank thee then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seedtime and the harvest, our life our health our food,
No gifts have we to offer for all thy love imparts
But that which thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts!

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above..
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love..

I really wanna thank you Lord!
All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above..
Then thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord for all his love..

2011 November Thanksgiving Visits 010

Food – Family Favorites in Mom’s Kitchen

2011 November Thanksgiving Visits 012 a (2)

Football – on T.V. or out on the street with cousins and friends

 2010 November Thanksgiving in Georgia 204

Family – Time together…savoring every minute.

2011 November Thanksgiving Visits 015

Happy Thanksgiving…

Oh…just in case Thanksgiving is a struggle…and it isn’t all happy family fun…I pray you take courage and rein in your heart to remember that God sees and loves you. We can be a blessing…if you’ve read this far…you are a blessing to me. Wish you were at our table…maybe one day you will be. You are definitely welcome at God’s table.

*Lyrics and Story Behind the Song – All Good Gifts (Godspell)

YouTube Video – All Good Gifts (Godspell 1990)

YouTube Video Clip – All Good Gifts (Godspell original cast 1973)

Wikipedia article on original hymn/lyric – We Plough the Fields and Scatter (1862)


Taking a Stand – With Not Against

2014 BLog Pics 002

Some mornings, quiet is obliterated by dividing words. This is one of those. I am troubled by the hatred, the divisiveness, and the sensationalism in the news today.  It’s sometimes more dehumanizing and dishonoring than it is culture-changing for good.

I really have no words…yet my heart rails against the wrong in our society. Still, what good will that do?

My mama used to say, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” [This wisdom originated with others, attributed both to Peter Marshall and Malcolm X, but its counsel took root in my heart through a Godly mom.]

I do want to take a stand…but don’t sense that any stand I take will matter. It’s however not right for me to just do nothing. Therefore I stand with Jesus who stood for and died for all of us. He called us to love God and to love our enemy, to return good for evil, to forgive the unforgiveable, to care for the oppressed, to show both justice and mercy. He was no “respecter of persons”* and showed no favoritism to one people or another. He gave us the example of being wholly about the purposes of God and wholly about the good of humankind. These are not in opposition.  Standing with Christ is not about standing with a particular political or socio-cultural agenda. It is taking a stand on behalf of the One who holds love and truth in  perfect unity. It is taking a stand for the sake of us all – not dividing us, setting one against another, but somehow bringing us together. In this kind of life, I might could make a difference.

We all must choose where we stand – the high road, the narrow path, whichever way we course our lives. In fact, it is impossible to NOT choose. The way I choose is described in the essay below, a copy of which I found in my mom’s collected treasures. It reminds me of great oratories of such as Dr. S. M. Lockridge.

The Fellowship Of The Unashamed

(Author Unknown – Cited by Dr. Bob Moorehead, in his book Words Aptly Spoken)

I am part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.” The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Christ Jesus. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future secure.

I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I now live by His presence, lean by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed.

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I am a disciple of Christ Jesus. I must give until I drop and preach until all know. And when my time is up, He will have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear.

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…(Romans 1:16).

Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.  The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—  that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.  And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.  Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,  not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.  And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.  To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” – Acts 10:34-43

YouTube Video of The Fellowship of the Unashamed

Precept Ministries blog on The Charge – The Fellowship of the Unashamed

Printable of The Fellowship of the Unashamed

*No Respecter of Persons

Ferguson and the Path to Peace – Dr. Russell Moore

YouTube Video – That’s My King – Dr. S. M. Lockridge

4 Elements of Uncommon Loyalty in the Life of Jonathan

2014 BLog Pics 001

If you were hanging off a cliff at the end of a rope, you would want someone like Jonathan on the other end. He’s not going to let you fall. This is the kind of loyalty we hope to have in friends, family members, even colleagues, if we were honest. In fact, someone like Jonathan would have intervened before you went over the edge.

We don’t use the term loyalty so often these days. As a character trait, its meaning has been maligned over the years. Being loyal has been perverted to mean something more weak than strong – something puppyish, short-sighted, or weak-willed. Occasionally, loyalty can bring to mind allegiances that serve our own purposes. It’s who you know, right, in advancing in the work force, for example.

Yet, when we look at Jonathan, in the Bible, loyalty is the character quality that comes to mind immediately. Deep, unwavering, costly loyalty. To his friend, David, yes, but also to his flawed king and father, Saul, and most importantly to the Lord Himself.

Jonathan’s story is found in 1 Samuel (beginning in 1 Samuel 13:2), as his father, King Saul, falters and then eventually falls as king of Israel. It’s a fast read to the end of this book and worth your time, if you want to see this picture of Jonathan’s true and steadfast loyalty.

I’ve read this passage many times, but this time, God opened my eyes to the “so much more” that lies at the heart of Biblical loyalty. Read the full account (1 Samuel 13-31) for the mesmerizing details, but here, in brief, is how Jonathan’s life has affected my own today.

The Loyalty of Jonathan

1) He acted on his loyalty – courageously and without hesitation. Jonathan was Saul’s oldest son and heir to the throne as next King of Israel. He was often in battle and led his troops valiantly, even at great risk to his own life (1 Samuel 14). He was loyal to the purposes of God and the direction of his father, King Saul. When his father did not lead well, or at all, Jonathan stayed true to the purposes of God. He found favor among the people (v. 45).

2) He was inclusive, as much as was possible for him to be. Jonathan met David after David killed the giant Goliath. When they met, their souls were knit together (1 Samuel 18:1). A deep love and loyalty grew between these two friends. Jonathan however still obeyed his father as much as he could. He would not follow the king’s orders if they went against God, but when he could obey, he did. [I love this about Jonathan that he didn’t cast off his relationship with his father with the advent of his relationship with David.] Jonathan’s loyalty extended to his God (and God’s purposes for Israel), his father, and his friend.

3) He was selfless in his loyalty, for the sake of those he loved. In reading, the account of Jonathan’s life in 1 Samuel, it became clear pretty early that he would not be heir of Israel’s kingdom after all. He would never be king. What bitterness that could birth in a lesser man! Jonathan must have had a profound trust in God. It seemed the throne was of little consequence to him in comparison to righting the relationships between his father and David. He did everything he could to reconcile the two, even with the knowledge that he would gain nothing more than he had already. That is the purest, truest kind of loyalty. A God-glorifying, unconditional love and loyalty.

4) He did not waver in his loyalty even at great cost. I hope you read the accounts in 1 Samuel that tell Jonathan’s story. From a human standpoint, it doesn’t lead to a happy ending. He dies in battle at his father’s side. David is elsewhere, fighting his own battles, and staying clear of the king who wanted him dead.

Jonathan dies, fighting the enemies of Israel, in obedience to God and his father…faithful, loyal, courageous to the end.  Earlier in his story (1 Samuel 23:17), Jonathan pledged to David, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” David did become king, but Jonathan would not be at his side. Still, the king that David became was forever altered by how God used Jonathan in his life.

And Jonathan? What of Jonathan? Generations of us who have read his story have squared our shoulders, fixed our gaze, and resolved, with God’s help, to love like Jonathan did…to be truly loyal as he was. This is a greater legacy than being any king…

How would our churches, workplaces, families and friendships be different today if we determined to be wholly and intentionally loyal in our relationships? How would our relationships be with the Lord?

Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and of people. – Proverbs 3:3-4 NRV

Short Bible Study on Loyalty

What Does the Bible Say About Loyalty

The Character of Loyalty

Worship Wednesday – No Other Name – Jesus Christ of Nazareth

Blog - Worship

There are days I just want to cry out the name of Jesus over my city. HE IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS. His followers, in those early days of the church, knew Him. After He returned to the Father in Heaven, these followers were transformed by the power of God’s Spirit burning inside of them. Their boldness and earnestness gave witness to that. They put their lives on the line for the truth of who Jesus was…is. Read and resonate with just one of the accounts from the Bible, in the Acts of the Apostles:

Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer…and a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.  And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”  So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.  Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.  So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.  And all the people saw him walking and praising God.  Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

“By what power or by what name have you done this?” [Peter was asked by the religious authorities present that day in Jerusalem]

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:  If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,  let it be known to you all…that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.  This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 3:1-10; Acts 4:7-12

There is no one like Him. He is the picture God gave us of Himself…His very Word. He came close to us that we might know God…

Worship with me.

 No Other Name

One name holds weight above them all
His fame outlasts the earth He formed
His praise resounds beyond the stars
And echoes in our hearts
The greatest One of all

His face shines brighter than the sun
His grace as boundless as His love
He reigns with healing in His wings
The King above all kings
The greatest One of all

Lift up our eyes, see the King has come
Light of the world reaching out for us
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus Christ our God

Seated on high, the undefeated One
Mountains bow down as we lift Him up
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus Christ our God

Find hope when all the world seems lost
Behold the triumph of the cross
His power has trampled death and grave
Our life found in His name
The greatest name of all

Lift up our eyes, see the King has come
Light of the world reaching out for us
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus Christ our God

Seated on high, the undefeated One
Mountains bow down as we lift Him up
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus Christ our God

The earth will shake and tremble before Him
Chains will break as heaven and earth sing
Holy is the name
Holy is the name of
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

Lift up our eyes, see the King has come
Light of the world reaching out for us
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus Christ our God

Seated on high, the undefeated One
Mountains bow down as we lift Him up
There is no other name
There is no other name
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus *


*No Other Name Lyrics & Chords – Writers Joel Houston & Jonas Myrin

YouTube Video – No Other Name – With Lyrics – Hillsong

No Other Name Hillsong Worship album

Give Me Jesus – Trevin Wax – Kingdom People

Image Credit – Hillsong Church Germany

Worship Wednesday – Thanksgiving – For the Beauty of the Earth – as Fall Fades into Winter

2014 November Fall and Friends & Family 292

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.
For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth. – Psalm 96:11-13

The wild and staggering beauty of nature renders me speechless some days. How can we take in the changing seasons and the fruit of each one and not wonder at a creator? How could all of nature work itself out in such amazing ways without a Master Designer? I love all the seasons of the year, but Fall is my favorite. There is so much to savor, with all our senses. For many years we lived in places where there was no noticeable Fall season. Still, the glory of oceans, deserts, and mountains left us satisfied.

Now that we are back in the US, I consider Fall a great gift to sooth the missing of those other places in my heart. Places where stands of cherry and almond trees in the Spring look snowy with pink and white blossoms. Places where olive orchards are tucked into mountain valleys. Places where wheat fields, golden in the sun, are punctuated by poppies, all swaying in the warm wind. These places always gave me pause – soaking up all before me, with worship in my heart.

Our journey now has taken us to Richmond, Virginia. Here, we are at the end of Fall. Some have told me that the colors this year haven’t been as spectacular as years before. I couldn’t say, because I am bedazzled by what we’ve experienced over the last several weeks.

2014 November Fall in our yard 0142010 October Fall Fun 017

Our neighborhood was built in an old forest. The hardwood trees stand tall and majestic. Right now, even at the end of Fall, the leaves are glorious in all kinds of shades and hues. Even as they turn to brown, I can’t get enough of it.

2014 Phone pics July-December 425

It’s sunny and warm for a November day, as I write, and an old hymn has come to mind. For the Beauty of the Earth (Pierpont & Kocher, 1864). This is sung especially at Thanksgiving or harvest time. For me, it takes me back to my childhood church where we sang out of the Baptist Hymnal. It reminds me of Fall even though the composer’s focus was really on raising up praise to God for all the good we have in our lives(especially the gift of Himself through Jesus).

This is Fall’s gift to me – nature’s testament of the glorious, creative, generous nature of God. When the leaves are all down, and the trees are bare, then Winter will come with its own witness of the Lord.

Worship with me – with the help of the Canadian band Eli Eli and a lovely acoustic arrangement of this old hymn.

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.


Lord of all, to Thee we raise,*
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.


For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.


For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love.


For thyself, best Gift Divine,
To the world so freely given,
For that great, great love of Thine,
Peace on earth, and joy in heaven.


*Originally, Christ our God, to Thee we raise

Fall Leaves Looking up - W'burg - Alicia Bowman - Blog

Photo Credit of pic just above – Alicia Bowman


For the Beauty of the Earth – with the hymn tune I most love – by Eli Eli

*Lyrics & Hymn Notes – For the Beauty of the Earth (Pierpont & Kocher)

**Lyrics & Hymn Notes #2 – For the Beauty of the Earth (other stanzas)

For the Beauty of the Earth – Sung by Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Primary) choir. Not traditional melody. Beautiful still.

11 of the Great Hymns in Church History

Monday Morning Moment – Human Trafficking – It Can Happen Right Where You Are

Blog - trafficking #3

Did I just witness a human trafficker? Here’s what happened:

I was thrift-shopping for infant clothing this morning for a friend with a growing family.  At first distracted by my task, I was soon aware of a conversation between two people in the same area. A young woman was shopping down a row of children’s clothing, and an older man (in his 40’s), standing in the next aisle, was leaning over that rack of clothing, talking to her as she shopped. It is not my habit to eavesdrop, but the conversation became more and more alarming, in terms of the private information shared.

He asked/She answered – Clearly, by their conversation, they were strangers before this encounter. I missed the conversation’s beginning, but he asked her more and more personal questions as it continued. She answered them all. She was shopping for her preschooler son and couldn’t afford to shop for new clothes. She returned often to that theme of not making a lot of money (in response to his different question/comments about “times [being] hard”). He told her he was only in town for a few weeks and didn’t know much about the area. Answering her question, he said he was a photographer – supplying magazines and books mostly.

He said something about how she could get work as a model and asked her age. She said she was 21, almost 22 (she was a petite young woman, fair-complexioned, with black hair pulled back in a ponytail – she could be a lot younger by her appearance). He asked her about her work, and she said she waitressed at a bar in a nearby town. Then she continued to answer his questions as to what days and hours she worked and when she got off.

After so many years living overseas, cross-culturally, I am shocked at how Americans are willing to answer questions and how self-revealing people are willing to be.

He stepped away for a minute, and I regret not saying something to her then. She continued to look through the children’s clothing. When he returned, she said she only found one item and began walking to check-out. He walked with her. They went through check-out together, and lingered outside the front of the store talking.

As I write I’m thinking how weird it sounds (even to me), but I really had a sick feeling that something was very wrong. It seemed important to find out if they left together, although she would have a vehicle there. She gave him so much information, he would be able to find her at her work. Although she gave him all this personal information (more than I’ve shared here), she was an adult so hopefully if he pushed for more than information, she would have been able to take care of herself. Hopefully. By the time I got the courage to at least see how she left the parking lot, she was gone, and I didn’t see him anywhere either.

I prayed for her all the way home and still am praying, feeling a little nauseated at what I witnessed. The tone of that conversation was way more than pickup lines at a bar somewhere. It could have been an over-friendly conversation between an interested man and a young woman glad to talk to anyone who showed care. It seemed more than that…dark somehow. The questions he asked had too much intentionality and the information he shared about himself made him appear non-threatening and possibly intriguing. At least to a beautiful young woman with limited resources.  For the first time in my life, I wondered if I had just watched an attempt to lure a victim into trafficking.

I didn’t do much, but for those few minutes, I made as much of an annoyance of myself as possible to the man, and pointed out clothing options to the girl (their conversation was loud enough for anyone around to hear). I was hoping to divert him away, but I didn’t. You may think me overly dramatic, but then I will ask you:

1) Did you know that human trafficking in the US is third only to guns and drugs in its financial profitability?

2) Do you live in a city that’s a hub for human trafficking? I do. [Department Of Justice (2007) identified the top twenty human trafficking jurisdictions in the country:” Houston
• El Paso
• Los Angeles
• Atlanta
• Chicago
• Charlotte
• Miami
• Las Vegas
• New York
• Long Island
• New Orleans
• Washington, D.C.
• Philadelphia
• Phoenix
• Richmond
• San Diego• San Francisco
• St Louis
• Seattle
• Tampa].

3) Do you think this is too big a problem to tackle? Or too small a problem? Check links below of agencies and non-profits who have made huge strides in dealing with this issue in the US.

4) Do you know there is a Human Trafficking Hotline for reporting suspicious activity? I called it today – 1-888-373-7888. The counselor was very helpful and didn’t think I was overly dramatic at all. Put the number in your phone directory in case you may need it some day.

5) Did you know that there are several professional and age-appropriate trafficking awareness programs (video, online, and speaker options) to help prepare young people for the dangers of trafficking? [See links below.]

5) Do you believe there are situations where your very presence could diffuse a dangerous situation for someone else? I’m sure you do. I do, too. Today, I did something. Only God knows if something more should/could have been done. Now I pray for that lovely young woman, and for that man lingering around her.

I would appreciate you praying with me…and act as the Lord leads. For such a time as this. For such as these*…Blog - prostitution - trafficking

What You Can Do – Richmond Justice Initiative

Suspect a situation of human trafficking? Call the NHTRC’s confidential, 24-hour, toll-free hotline to report any tip. 1-888-373-7888

Buyer Beware Campaign – Criminalizing the “Johns” – Men in Your Neighborhood Buying Sex Online

Human Trafficking in Virginia a Growing Concern for Law Enforcement

How Street Traffickers Recruit Young Girls

Sex Traffickers Rely on Charm to Lure Victims

The Traffickers

Do Not Become a Victim of Human Trafficking

Determining the Vulnerability Factors, Lures and Recruitment Methods used to Entrap American Children into Sex Trafficking

Not for Sale – Human Trafficking in Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta Agencies Battle Child Sex Trafficking

Wellspring Living – A Vision to End Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking

Safe Harbor House – Cedarville University – Springfield, Ohio

Human Trafficking Factsheet

Mapping Hubs of Demand (Internationally)

*Name withheld – rescued and restored young woman who endured being held and trafficked.


Traveling Man – Somewhere Between Here, There, & Home

2007 - Feb -- Dave & Boys

 He traveled again today…half the world away. How many times have I watched him smile and then turn to go? I watch his back as he walks through the sliding glass doors of another airport. This time he will fly for work, connecting with another flight, and another, and another, taking him eventually 12 timezones from home.

My husband is a traveling man. It is not the life he would naturally choose. He likes being home. Yet it has been part of his life…part of our life…for nearly 20 years. Sometimes, we’ve traveled with him – for two weeks or two years at a time. Our lives have been altered both by our travel and by his.

Apr 04 078

Our children have grown up across four countries. There were more hellos and goodbyes than we would have preferred – but looking back, we wouldn’t have given up any one of those places. Those places represent people. Those people remain forever in our hearts.

2006 Apr 173

Blog - Dave & Friends #2

We are settled in the US for now and our children are  grown (and amazingly live in the same city as we do). One of us still boards planes and crosses time zones, and it’s not me. I am the one who would love to be the traveler, but it’s not meant to be me at this time of our lives. This traveling man at our house is the one who endures missing connections, jet lag and tummy issues. This downside of traveling is a small price to pay for the great blessing of reconnecting with friends and colleagues scattered all around the world.

NovDec 03 033

So many, these days, travel for adventure and there is much to be had around this glorious globe. This man has adventure thrust upon him sometimes, but he travels for only two reasons – the people and the purpose (work, support, training). In a way, these are our people – people who understand us and whom we understand…people who received us into their lives with the smallest possibility of benefit. We will always be grateful for such friendships…across worlds and cultures.

The many moves we’ve made as a family have caused us to be a bit irregular, it seems. We don’t have all the history and cultural savvy of those who have planted their lives in one place, with one people. I envy that sometimes – folks with  life-long friends and extended family nearby. It must be challenging to be deeply in the lives these same friends and family and to also draw a circle that takes in such nomads as us. I am forever grateful again for friends like you.

There are days, because of all our relocations, that it seems our friends are far away. Then, there are other days when my pity party-of-one pitches the idea that I have no friends. [Seriously…still contending with this as a full-fledged adult]. This is not one of those days. My best friend in the world is somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. He will visit with people we love half a world away. I will visit people we love here. Thankful to God that traveling is a very good thing…it moves us toward people (not just away from people).

This man and I have a parting ritual. He runs through the “in case something happens” list [let me know if you want particulars of that – it is helpful to know]. Then, we do sort of a “Thanks for marrying me” farewell…and finally that wonderful, “If I don’t see you here, I’ll see you THERE.”

Hope that wasn’t too morbid for you…it actually always leaves me comforted, as those sliding doors close around him on his way.

2009 August 25th Wedding Anniversary in Paris 128

*Edwin Markham quote

Worship Wednesday – Babysitting, Ballads, and the Beauty of God

Blog - Kennedy Sherwood

Don’t you love when the nearness of God penetrates an ordinary afternoon? I was babysitting for a little buddy of mine while her mom and dad went for a prenatal appointment for adorable baby #2. Her mom had left a Pandora radio station playing on her Apple computer for our listening enjoyment.

Side-Bar: I’m pretty narrow in my music preferences – both in genre and method of listening. Blog - Worship WednesdayThe music on my computer was selected and installed by my family. Typically, I listen to my classical guitarist son, Nathan Mills, Christmas music (starting in October), and contemporary worship. If you’re like me, you may not know these songs (below; links are at the bottom of page). Hang in there with me on this. I think you will resonate with how God can turn any ordinary into something extraordinary.

As my little buddy finished her snack, and we retired to her living room to play, the music became more of a focal point. The Pandora channel was Jack Johnson (Children’s) which I’ve never heard before. As my little charge and I began playing together, one song after another (4 in a row) set my heart to praise.

Adele’s Make Me Feel Your Love – Cover of Bob Dylan’s song (1997).

“I could make you happy, make your dreams come true.
Nothing that I wouldn’t do.
Go to the ends of the Earth for you,
To make you feel my love.”*

Crazy romantic song and yet also full of images of my experience of a God who pursues and goes, not just to the ends of the Earth but, to the Cross for us. Not just so I can feel His love but to know it absolutely.

Jason Mraz’s I Won’t Give Up (also by Michael Natter) – It’s a ballad about fighting for relationship(s), about holding on to one’s life aspirations, and about remaining steadfast.

“I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up.

I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make.”**

Coming on the playlist after Make You Feel My Love, this song reminded me of the culture of today. Commitments aren’t forever. Too often, we walk away from each other…and sometimes we walk away from God. So much is at stake in life, and I don’t want to be “someone who walks away so easily”. I want to be a person who doesn’t give up on life, or God…or you.

As I was twirling around the living room with my little buddy, singing this song, it was like a proclamation of praise to God that He doesn’t give up on us, and I’m not going to give up on us either.

Ingrid Michaelson’s The Way I Am – This quirky little love song doesn’t really take me to the throne of God or anything. Yet, there are a couple of lines that speak volumes to me:

“I love you more than I could ever promise.
And you take me the way I am.”***

How grateful I am that God knows us, through and through, and loves us anyway. His love causes me to love Him. He is not surprised or put off by my brokenness, and I love Him for that… No need to say, “I promise”. He knows I love Him…as imperfect and messy as that is…and He still takes me the way I am…and by His grace, makes me something beautiful.

Then, last of the 4 in a row:

American Authors’ Best Day of My Life – Anybody who knows this song has to wonder how I could derive any thought of God from it. It could be a stretch…but not for me. The lead vocalist of American Authors tells how the song is about how we can all escape from whatever our reality is and enter into some sort of better world we make up, if need be.**** We can make any day “the best day of my life”.

The irony here is that this situation is totally flipped, thanks to God. Whatever our situation is, or seems to be, we can know that God is at work in it, whatever it is, for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Rather than letting whatever is “seen” devastate us or bring us down, we focus on what is “unseen” – the marvel of God at work in our lives and all around us. He makes “best days” possible…always.

The rest of the songs on the Pandora playlist yesterday are a blur to me. The afternoon wound down with books, babydolls, and bears…and my little charge. When her parents returned, I left for home…blessed. A bit of time serving a young family I love, and 4 pop ballads that filled my heart, all over again, with joy and gratefulness at knowing God.

This sort of thing happens to you, too, right? Finding sacred in the supposed secular? I’m sure of it.

Blog - Kennedy Sherwood hiding

YouTube Video – Adele – Make Me Feel Your Love Lyrics

*Lyrics to Make Me Feel Your Love

YouTube Video – Jason Mraz – I Won’t Give Up [Official Music Video]

**Lyrics to I Won’t Give Up

YouTube Video – Ingrid Michaelson – The Way I Am [Official Music Video]

Story Behind the Song – The Way I Am

***Lyrics to The Way I Am

YouTube Video – American Authors – Best Day of My Life

****Story Behind the Song Best Day of My Life


Finishing Strong – On the Anniversary of My Mom’s Glorious Homegoing

Mom pictures for website 012

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

My Mom was a young 72 when she was diagnosed with cancer. We were overseas at the time, and I wanted so to be home with her. She was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – supposedly “the best kind of cancer you can have”. Highly treatable. Long remissions. Often cured. Mom would die after 3 years of intensive, and sometimes experimental, chemotherapy. She never caught a break. Yet, she didn’t look at it that way.

Her journey with God in those days was other-worldly. The Mom I knew loved to serve people, and cancer would not stop that. She had grown up poor and with a dad who could be mean when he drank. She dreamed of college but it was never meant to be. Instead she became a student of life, and she never tired of that. She was a beautiful blend of Mary and Martha – wholly satisfied whether “sitting at the feet of Jesus” or serving the needs of those around her. I love that she was my Mom.

She taught me how to live…and she taught me how to die. We were home in the States when Mom’s cancer finished its course in her. She never spent a night in the hospital throughout those three years.  She stubbornly guarded her time at home and had the will and the support (of my Dad, family and friends) to endure from home…and there was God, holding her tight against the storm.

Fuji002 152a

Mom never prayed for healing, but we did. Mom prayed that this cancer, the illness and all that was part of it (including a devastating Shingles-related neuralgia), would bring glory to God. Her prayer was answered, and ours, ultimately, in Heaven.

Her dying took three days. If you had known my Mom, you knew a person that was all about life – helping and encouraging others, pointing them to God, determined, in faith, to make sense of what seemed utter nonsense. She continued to be about that until she went into a coma the last day. While she was awake that final weekend, I asked her (over and again) how she was. One time, I remember, she nodded a bit, and whispered, “I’m O.K.” It was her face that spoke volumes. Forehead lifted, blue eyes bright, an almost sunny expression. That “I’m O.K.” was accompanied by an almost delighted look of marvel…of wonder. Like, “Wow! I’m really O.K.!” God was meeting her at the point of her greatest need.

Mom and I have always had amazing talks about the deep things of God and life. She told me one time that she envied us our certainty of His call to a life overseas. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard God speak so clearly to me,” she lamented. In the last days of her life, it came to me to ask her if she heard God speak to her lately. She answered right away, with that same look of wonder, “All the time!” If cancer had to be the instrument of such grace, then it became a gift to her.

Mom entered Eternity during the reading of 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (see above). Her young pastor and his wife came unexpectedly that evening, rushing in, wide-eyed, as if on a mission. We brought them back to her room, and they sat with us, around her bed. She had been unresponsive all day. Her pastor opened his Bible and began reading. Mom had this sweet habit of knitting her forehead and shaking her head, in response to something that touched her heart. As he read, after being quiet and still all day, she knit her forehead and breathed her last. We all felt transfigured in that moment.

Today marks 12 years since Mom went to be with the Lord, and I miss her today and every day. She was so spent when she left us, yet gloriously whole at the same time. A bit of prose from Henry Van Dyke always comes to mind in thinking of her Homegoing.

Gone From My Sight by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side, spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me — not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”

Mom taught us how to live…and she taught us how to die. She “fought the good fight…finished the race…and kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7). For us, there is still a race to be run.

Thanks, Mom, for showing us how it’s done. See you at the Finish Line.

Mom pictures for website 014a

When it’s all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters:
Did I do my best to live for truth, did I live my life for You?
When it’s all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I’ve done for love’s Reward
Will stand the test of time.

Lord, Your mercy is so great
That You look beyond our weakness
And find purest gold in miry clay
Making sinners into saints

I will always sing Your praise
Here on earth and ever after
For You’ve shown me Heaven’s my true home
When it’s all been said and done
You’re my life when life is gone.

Lord I’ll live my life for You.

Lyrics & Music by Jim Cowan © 1999 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music

Mom pictures for website 003Mom’s Irises

YouTube Video – When It’s All Been Said and Done

Memory of Mildred Byrd McAdams

We Are Not Our Own – Thoughts on Physician-Assisted Suicide

Platitudes – Filling the Air But Not the Heart

Blog - Platitudes“Your platitudes are proverbs of ashes, Your defenses are defenses of clay. 13 “Hold your peace with me, and let me speak, Then let come on me what may! 14 Why do I take my flesh in my teeth, And put my life in my hands? 15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”  – Job 13:12-15

Platitude – “a flat, dull, or trite remark, especially one uttered as if it were fresh or profound”

We’ve all spoken them – out in the air, toward some stressed individual, with little thought of their effect. Just wanting to help. To pull that person back from the edge. Or to alter the charged atmosphere of the moment. We mean well.

Yesterday we had one of those travel days that leave you exhausted and glad just to be safely home. One of the flight crew of our first flight overslept, and then circumstances tumbled out such that we would miss our connecting flight. It didn’t have to be that way, because the first crew, once we were in the air, did all they could to make up for lost time. Then, it was RUN TO THE GATE. The plane for our connecting flight was still on the ground, and, like in the movies, the door was just then closed. If you travel, you know that mercy stops at the close of that door.

As we stood in line at the airline’s service counter to make other flight arrangements, we fumed. This is the confession. We joined many others who would have to make different plans because this one didn’t work out. All around us people were on their phones with varying levels of disappointment.

A young man in front of us, who had the same situation as ours, decidedly took a high road. Over-hearing us whining (seriously – part of the confession), he cheerily acknowledged his similar dilemma, smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Well, it’s not the end of the world.” In my flesh (continuing to expose my wretched heart), I wanted to punch him. Of course, I would never…still, it came to mind.

He was trying to be helpful. How many times have I done the same thing? As we got back on our way, and eventually arrived home later in the day, this situation continued to resonate in my heart and mind. We want to help…and have no words… Is there a reason we have no words?

Platitudes sometimes tumble out of our mouths before we even think through how they will sound to the stressed or grieving hearer. They are usually well-intended (except for the times they are meant to shame – that is a whole other thing). As I get older, I am learning to listen longer before speaking. That is not to say that I don’t still trip over myself all the time, trying to be helpful with words that don’t cost me anything.

We live in a day when communication is reduced to text messages, Facebook posts, and 140 character Tweets. Words still matter. Hopefully we will continue to train our hearts and minds to listen more than we speak. Then when we speak, it is truth in love (or at least compassion). Real and genuine word-food that nourishes the heart long after the encounter…those kinds of words can help us.

It wasn’t “the end of the world”, in that long line at the service counter yesterday. Whether he was being kind or shaming me in his higher perspective of the situation, it doesn’t matter.  His words did stay with me, and they did make me wrestle with my attitude. Still…

What are some of the sayings or platitudes that come your way that make you a little crazy or totally missed the mark for you at that time? You share yours, and I’ll then share mine.

A List of Platitudes

Scott Berkun’s Most Annoying Platitudes

YouTube Video – Geico Words Commercial 2014

A Generous List of Proverbs (Not the Same Thing as Platitudes)

Wisdom Proverbs from the Bible