Celebrating a Baby Girl – Children’s Book Themed Shower – Way Beyond Pinterest

2015 June Bekkah's baby shower for Christie - BLog 014First grandchild. It’s a girl. There would be a baby shower. Friends and family kindly help the young couple with the cost of a newborn by “showering” them with gifts. An event of this nature took place in our lives this past weekend. It was so lovely, that I actually felt sorry for guys because they don’t have such celebrations usually. Right?

Themed parties have been around at least for as long as my children have been alive – so a quarter-of-a-century. That was long before Pinterest was launched (March 2010) and began complicating our lives. As fascinating as Pinterest is, it does apply unwanted pressure to those of us who aren’t great party planners. With all those possibilities that can be added to special days, making them even more festive. Still…Pinterest has its place, and it has given this generation of young creatives a platform to showcase their ideas.

This blog today is not about Pinterest though. It’s about what can happen when a really gifted young woman decides to throw a baby shower for her sister-in-law. She knows this pregnant one adores children’s books, and she “showered” her with literary fun and fancy.2015 June Bekkah's baby shower for Christie - BLog 028

 All the food, as you can see, referenced a favorite children’s story. There were also frames, on the dining table and all around the house, with quotes from books they all love.

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In the room where we all gathered, there were flowers, just because, and sweet activities like guessing the due date and writing bookmarks “to baby”. So many details…so much loveliness. That’s our Bekkah’s touch on an event.2015 June Bekkah's baby shower for Christie - BLog 015

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After a couple of games, Christie (the pregnant one), was seated under polka-dot balloons and pink pompoms. Friends and family lavished her with so many sweet presents. I’ve actually been in other cultures where birthing celebrations happened as well. They had their own particular joys… This party was especially touching for me because of all the love, and all the work that went into it…out of love.

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As the grandmother-to-be, my heart was filled to bursting by the generosity of friends. As the mom-in-law, I was humbled by the great effort that Bekkah (and her small team of buddies) made to create such a special day for Christie.2015 June Bekkah's baby shower for Christie - BLog 090a  (2)

This may seem like an open thank you note for a special day, and maybe it is. More than that, it is also to celebrate the celebrators – those people in our lives who turn a hot summer Saturday afternoon into a soul-refreshing friendship feast. Celebrating a baby girl we haven’t met yet, and celebrating the beauty around us in a home filled with love and loved ones. So thank you, Bekkah.2015 June Bekkah's baby shower for Christie - BLog 092

2015 June Bekkah's baby shower for Christie - BLog 020

How about you who read this far? Are you reminded of great celebrations you’ve enjoyed? Or of some great celebrators in your lives? I’d love to hear your stories.

Themed Baby Shower Ideas – Children’s Stories – on Pinterest

2015 June Bekkah's baby shower for Christie - BLog 019

2015 June Bekkah's baby shower for Christie - BLog 041

…and one more of a little girl who loved to read and be read to – with her Memaw.IMG_0017 (4)

Friday Foodies – EAT 33 #RVA – a Guys’ Food Place with a Feel of the Beach

Blog - Eat 33 - by Richmond Times-DispatchPhoto Credit: P. Kevin Morley, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Taking a break from today’s light responsibilities and heavy news, I want to tell you about a sweet little restaurant we visited this week. It is Eat33, named for Virginia’s Highway 33, (aka Staples Mill Rd). The Atlantic Ocean is just over 100 miles from Richmond, but we can just pop over as often as we’d like. Eat33 has the feel of one of local dives along the strip at Virginia Beach. 2015 June Blog, Dad, Georgia, Delaware, Flowers, Summer 407

Of course, there’s no blue water or seagulls flying, but walking into Eat33, with its bright insignia t-shirts across the windows, was like being on vacation. Friendly waitresses, tables and booths full of folks relaxing in light conversation, mugs of coffee or tall glasses of sweet tea (with crushed ice), and big plates of best-of-diner food.2015 June Blog, Dad, Georgia, Delaware, Flowers, Summer 400

Eat33 is a house, done-over into a restaurant. It’s been on location for almost a year. I never saw it before, as Hwy. 33 is a busy street, and the loan and pawn shops surrounding the restaurant aren’t go-to places for me. [There is a great MetroPCS store close to Eat33, managed by our friend Thiago, if you need a cell phone…but that’s another story].

My daughter suggested Eat33 for lunch, so we tried it, and I recommend it unreservedly. 2015 June Blog, Dad, Georgia, Delaware, Flowers, Summer 399

The hours are 6:00am-2:00pm, so it’s breakfast “all day” with lunch mid-day. Some entrees are pricey, especially for lunch, but the portions are so big, you could easily split a meal. 2015 June Blog, Dad, Georgia, Delaware, Flowers, Summer 398

My daughter had a hand-formed hamburger, and I had breakfast. Service was great, and not so fast that we couldn’t enjoy people-watching or listening to the music (a mix of blues and classic rock). It really did feel like we were at the beach.2015 June Blog, Dad, Georgia, Delaware, Flowers, Summer 4022015 June Blog, Dad, Georgia, Delaware, Flowers, Summer 404

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This happy little eatery had that neighborhood favorite atmosphere. Mostly guys – many coming in with their work boots on, but some in shorts and flip flops. The yummy crabmeat items on the menu were another reminder of the ocean down the road from us. Just over a breakfast/lunch, we were transported away from the city to that sandy beach, with wind in our hair, and full tummies – ready to close our eyes in the sun, and sleep in our chairs…if we weren’t still in Richmond and didn’t have work to do.

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EAT 33 Facebook Fan Page

Customer Reviews via yelp.com

Balcony People – The Encouragers in Our Lives – You Know Who You Are – and We’re Grateful

Blog - Balcony People - Better TogetherBetter Together, George Washington Academy, Casablanca, Morocco

Encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

People who know me well know the struggle I have with insecurity and self-doubt. It doesn’t seem so but it’s true. I have been blessed with great encouragers in my life who have fanned the flame of vision and cheered me on when it was for me to do a hard thing. Those dear ones are what Joyce Landorf Heatherley calls “balcony people” – those encouragers who stand and cheer us on. We all have occasions to be so in each others’ lives. I love the opportunity myself, to be an encourager, having had it modeled so well for me.Blog - Balcony People book

I read this little (70-page) book years ago, but it still comes to mind often when people are kind enough to come alongside and encourage me to be that person for the job, or to do what’s needed whatever it is… It wasn’t because they couldn’t do it but for me to grow into a person of greater capacity. Or, just because I’m the one for the job. Imagine.

Encouragement isn’t just pat-you-on-the-back praise or superficial compliments. Jenn Arman defines it here: “Encouraging someone can mean you’re giving them support or confidence, but is also means that you’re helping to develop something in them. When the Bible talks about encouragement, it usually means that one is calling someone to their side in order to teach, comfort, strengthen or push them to act in a certain way. People who encourage others say with love what a person needs to hear, when they need to hear it–even if it isn’t what the person wants to hear.

The greatest encourager in my long life has been Jesus. He was/is the consummate encourager. Even hours before He went to His death, He could have turned the attention of His disciples on Himself. Yet, that would not be the case. He had compassion on his disciples and taught and encouraged them even in those last hours:

[Jesus speaking] “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering; but have courage, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

There have been great numbers of encouragers along the way in my life, and I couldn’t begin to mention them all here…you know who you are. Through the photos below, I will mention some. Thank you all. Thank God for you.Blog - Balcony People - Paulette BuffingtonMy life-long friend, Paulette, who stuck by me all these years and who was brave enough to say loving hard things to me when needed. She went to be with the Lord recently, and I miss her.

BLog - Balcony People - Kay Mitchell & JoeKay – my friend and colleague at a time I was a new-in-town cancer nursing specialist. Trying to win the confidence of the staff of a cancer center, I leaned on Kay for counsel and kindness. She taught me a whole new understanding of the phrase, “Get over it!”

Blog - Balcony People - KathyKathy – my student, who would years later take my place at that same cancer center. I learned more from her than she ever did from me. She makes me proud and humbles me with her enduring friendship.Blog - Balcony People - Jan McMurrayJan – who was my parenting mentor. She relentlessly spoke truth into my life, and I needed it. Our children still know (and now appreciate more) the rules of the house affected by Mrs. Jan.

Blog - Balcony People - LindaLinda – whose friendship I’ve enjoyed for over 20 years and who taught me how to pray bigger than ever before.

33Heba – a friend and daughter from another mother who makes me laugh every single time we talk. What a gift from God she is.

Kim & Blythe 2Blythe – a young friend who was a true balcony person in my life and has grown into this incredible woman, wife, mother. Kim – who was teacher and friend to our son and became a dear friend to me.

Dan & Marge 2Marge – also a teacher to this son of mine and my friend in a hard season. We walked the streets of Cairo together. I learned from her.

2006 May -- Shana & EdShana – who helped me in more ways than she knows, teaching me a lot about capacity…and joy in the simplest of things.

2006 July -- Nezha & DebbieNezha – who was my friend in a mid-life season – with such class and  generosity of heart.

2014 Phone pics July-December 119Lisa – this friend who taught me about forgiveness and perseverance – who also visited us in Africa multiple times – I see God much more clearer through her experience of Him.

Blog - Balcony People - KarenKaren – my friend and colleague – whose wise counsel has encouraged me in these days…and she actually reads my blogs. ‘Nuff said.

There are as many encouragers as there are days…but I will stop here…with these. My Mom, my mom-in-law, and my daughter – all have believed in me and leaned into my life. You know what a great thing this is in your own life. These people who want to come close – for their sake and for yours. Struggling with fear as I do, these women have brought an uncommon grace into life for me.Mom pictures for website 012

Last, and never least, there’s this guy…I can’t say enough about how his love has altered the course of my life…for the better. “He put stamps in my passport.”…and helped me be a mom. Thank you, Dave.Blog - Dave in France

Whether we care to admit it or not, we all need people who believe in us. Or believe God enough to see in us what He sees and what we can’t see ourselves. How empowering that is!!!

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…Hebrews 12:1-2a

Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley

Where Are All Your Balcony People?

Basement People vs. Balcony People

Balcony People – a Study in Philemon by James MacDonald

What Does Encouragement Really Mean?

Having Courage and Being an Encourager – from the Bible study series: Marks of Maturity – Biblical Characteristics of a Christian Leader


Worship Wednesday – I Need You Now – by Plumb

Blog - Plumb Need You NowPhoto Credit: fbcoverstreet.com

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy & find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:16

Some things we won’t understand until Heaven. Like the audacious, relentless love of God for us sin-riddled, distractible children. His tender and severe mercies. His seeming silence in a world gone mad. His quiet, unobtrusive protection in the day-to-day “just keep breathing”. His blanketing grace in the unimaginable.

Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, better known as the singer/songwriter Plumb, writes about this God in deeply intimate ways that resonate with my experience of Him. Especially in the darkness of life…and in that moment when light breaks through. Plumb reflects so vividly the different sides of our lives. All-out rock star gorgeousness and yet, turn around, and there’s this wife and mom trying to keep all the balls in the air…and through it all, this daughter of a watchful, tender God.

She writes my experience of Him. We are driven to prayer sometimes by what’s happening in the world around us…and by those closest to us going through hard times. Marriage struggles. Needing a job. Infertility. Loneliness. Health issues. Growing old.

At night, I have times when sleep doesn’t come until my troubled thoughts turn to trusting prayer. We are like that child, burrowing his face, damp with angry tears, into his father’s shoulder. Then finally comes the release when that child settles in, the strain of the moment is broken, and his weight is transferred to the father. Then sleep comes…and peace.

I have a picture of a couple of friends of ours on my bedside table.  It reminds me to pray daily for them. They are Jeannie & Tom Elliff. Blog - Tom & Jeannie Elliff

For a few short years we lived in the same city. Now we are states apart, but not in the heart. They taught us so much about this walk with God. This walk of faith – praying hard and leaning in on a God who loves completely. Their stories of God’s provision through great losses and great gains fuel hope and joy in our journey with Him.

Blog - Tom & Jeannie Need You NowPhoto Credit: Jeannie’s Facebook

In looking toward another God-ordained turn in their road, Tom said this: “So here’s what I want you to know—you can rest assured in this—we’re going to run through the finish line.” [Not ones to say they weren’t up to it or drop their bags and give up, Elliff said he and his wife would run the course the Lord set before them with wholehearted reserve.]  [www.texanonline.net]

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.Philippians 4:11-13

Worship with me:

Well everybody’s got a story to tell
And everybody’s got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there’s beauty here
Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on
I can’t let go, I can’t move on
I want to believe there’s meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Standing on a road I didn’t plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I’m trying to hear that still small voice
I’m trying to hear above the noise


Oh I walk, oh I walk through the shadows
And I, I am so afraid
Please stay, please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

How many times have you heard me cry out?
And how many times have you given me strength?


I need you now
I need you now*

Tom & Jeannie’s prayer – and one we can pray for ourselves, as well – resting in God’s strength on the roads we did not plan. Whatever the road, He is with us.Blog - Pray for Tom Elliff  Jeannie Elliff (2)

My Blog on Tom & Jeannie Elliff at the Homegoing of Tom’s Father

*Lyrics to Need You Now

Songfacts of Need You Now written by Plumb, Luke Sheets and Christa Wells

YouTube Video – Plumb – Need You Now – Official Music Video

YouTube Lyric Video – Need You Now (How Many Times) by Plumb

Plumb: How Songs of Healing Helped a Disintegrating Marriage

YouTube Video – Plumb Talks about Need You Now and Going Through Times in Her Marriage

Modern Rocker Turns to a Softer Sound – Plumb

Lightnin’ Bugs – Here a Moment and Then Gone – as the Summer

BLog - Lightning BugsPhoto Credit: www.strangesounds.org

Catching lightnin’ bugs (as we called them in Georgia) was a grand part of our summers growing up. We never got tired of it. Sometimes, mom would say “Just enjoy them”, and we put the jars away.  My brothers and I would play outside in the hot sticky evenings. We played until it was too dark to see how to run. Often, we would just follow the lightning bugs as they flashed signals to each other. Male seeking female, mating on their minds.

As children, we were mesmerized by them because they seemed to not exist until those few hours every night. From dusk until deep dark, they flew, and we were enchanted with them. We didn’t notice mosquito bites then, nor the heat.

Called in from the yard at last, we would take turns washing up in our one bathroom in those days. I never understood how that line of dirt made its way around our necks. Or how filthy feet could get from chasing around the yard with no shoes. Summer nights, after long hours of play, were filled with deep sleep for us as brothers and sister, growing up with shared life. Dreaming of fireflies darting up from the grass, flitting through the night sky, to a mysterious mate.

Our children spent most of their growing up years in the  Africa bordering the Sahara. No lightning bugs there. Summer vacations back in the US were made all the more magical by these evening lightshows.

I just recently found out that lightning bugs were beetles. Beetles in Africa are big and shiny black and not for play in our family. They are right up there with the mammoth flying roaches, in terms of creepiness. Fortunately, lightning bugs, in the dazzling loveliness of their glow, make them an altogether different creature…almost on the order of fairies, rather than insects.

Summer, like the season of lightning bugs, never seems long enough. So we savor it. From indoors and out. I am thankful for a yard lit up at night by these little showmen. Every place we have ever lived had its own loveliness…for now, in Virginia, this is part of what we celebrate of God’s creation…in our back yard. You are welcome.

Blog - lightning bugs by robindance.mePhoto Credit: www.robindance.me


Light in play

Silent signal

End of day




Childlike fascination

Demanding chase

They blink and dance

One more spark

And that’s your chance

Neon glow

Adorn the night

Summer’s glory

Our delight      by Robin Dance*

*Magic of the Night by Robin Dance

Fireflies! 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Lightning Bugs

How to Attract Fireflies to Your Backyard

Blog - Fireflies or Lightning BugsPhoto Credit: thaynesworld.com

Monday Morning Moment – A Fresh Start – 5 Verses to Get You Out of Bed & Going

Blog - Monday Morning

Monday morning. It’s one of my favorite times of the week. Crazy, maybe…but I love fresh starts and new beginnings. When I woke this morning, this quirky little song was bouncing around in my head. It’s a Beautiful Morning – that oldie by The Rascals (1968, I know, really old). That got me going, but what keeps me going on a Monday morning (o.k. along with coffee) are the promises of God.

Here are 5 verses that are a quick read to help you get out of bed and get going. Remember, He’s got this.

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. – Mark 1:35

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in You I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. – Psalm 143:8

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  – Lamentations 3:22-23Blog - Monday Morning 2

Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.Psalm 30:4-5

Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm90:14

Whether you are a morning person or it’s a resounding snooze alarm and no more vacation days that drag you out of bed this morning, remember you have a God who loves you and is with you all the way.Blog - Monday Morning 4

Do Over by Jon Acuff – my current read; will tell you about it when I’m done.

How to Fall in Love with Mondays – Reignite your Love for your Work with these Five Strategies – Fast Company article by Lisa Evans, referencing Do Over by Jon Acuff


Fathering – Celebrating Men Who Did It Well; Forgiving Men Who Didn’t

Blog - Father's Day - Calvin & HobbsPhoto Credit: Calvin & Hobbs from the blog of Kenneth Reeds

“As to my children, you are now to be left fatherless, which I hope will be an inducement to you all to seek a Father who will never fail you.”Jonathan Edwards, his last words to his children, as he lay dying

Fathering, like mothering, is not an easy job. So much dying to self. So much responsibility. What a delight for us when the men in our lives take fathering on their shoulders as they might a sleeping child. Surrendering themselves to the serving of those younger than them. I thank God for men who humble themselves in prayer for their children and who go to work every day to support their families. Working, studying, and life-long learning passed on to their children and others.

These dads are too-often taken for granted in the shadow of fathering that falls short. The absent, neglectful and downright abusive fathers cut wounds so deep that decent fathers are sometimes judged by the same measure. We watch for “the sins of the fathers to be revisited on their children” (Numbers 14:18).

Today, let’s reflect on the good fathers. Those who were present at our births, or those who came later in life to us, or those who father us out of their own great hearts. Imperfect, sure. All of us are. Yet, there are those men who go many more than second miles for us, and we are grateful.Blog - Father DaveThis dad who took his family to Cairo, Egypt. Our children have had such rich lives as they saw their dad work and relate way out of his comfort zone. What great memories and relationships we have because of his willingness to take us on such a journey.2009 May Trip to Scotland 169Blog - No Life Wasted 10 2006 -- Aug -- Dave, Nathan, Daniel in Vienna

 “My father was a farmer upon the Carrick border, O,
And carefully he bred me in decency and order, O;
He bade me act a manly part, though I had ne’er a farthing, O;
For without an honest manly heart, no man was worth regarding, O.”
– Robert Burns, ‘My Father Was a Farmer: A Ballad’*

Blog - Dad, or Papa, and Debbie - Father's DayMy Dad. Not my biological father (who I talk about here) but the only dad I’ve ever known. So thankful for him…and his love…and joy in life (even in this season of Alzheimer’s).

“Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house, Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?” – Robert Hayden, ‘Those Winter Sundays’*
BLog - Father's Day - PopPop JohnMy sweet dad- and mom-in-love. What an amazing thing to enjoy the love of people who didn’t have to love me, just because their son did. I thank God for this dad and this mom who opened their hearts to receive a daughter, as if I was born to them.
Nathan, Bekkah, Rachel & Sam JamesThose fathers who treat us as sons and daughters – gracious, generous, affirming, empowering. Fathers (and mothers, these Godly wives) whose faces reflect the face of God to us.
Grateful for these fathers…and others like them. Young and old. Fathers who give us a glimpse of the Father of all creation, who loves us…and sees us…and waits for us…and knows us by name.**
Hoping you have fathers to reflect on joyfully today…if not so much, hoping you can take joy and comfort in the Father who loves you perfectly. 
Blog - Father's Day - B. C. comic
Photo Credit: B. C. Comics
2009 May Trip to Scotland 339

Ramadan – Much More Than Fasting – A Quick Study for the Sake of Your Friends & Coworkers

2008270mnj287From the Archives – June 30, 2014

“Ramadan Kareem!” “Ramadan Mabrouk!” “Ramadan Mabarak!” may be familiar words to you…or not so much. Around the world, among Muslims, these are greetings of blessing for their holy month of Ramadan. In this month, all Islamic peoples are united in the observance of their religion, more than any other time of the year.

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and is considered holy because Muhammad, Islam’s most revered prophet, reported receiving the Qu’ran during this month. At the sighting of the new moon at the beginning of Ramadan, Muslims begin a month-long exercise of six tenets of their faith, consistent, to a large extent, among all of the world’s practicing Muslims.

Fasting [Sawm (Arabic: صوم‎)]  From sunrise to sunset, during Ramadan, devout Muslims fast. In some countries, in fact, it’s illegal for a Muslim to be seen eating or drinking during these hours. There are exceptions (young children, the sick, elderly, and others in a few defined temporary situations). However, the fast is intended to be complete during the day (no food, drink, smoking, sexual intercourse, or profane speech). At sunset, the fast is broken with a meal together as family and eating can continue into the night until just before sunrise the next day. Because of this “flipped day”, Muslims, when possible, sleep during the day or spend time in recreation, exercise, or visiting. The women must still cook for that “break-fast” meal. School and work hours are shortened during Ramadan because of the fast.

Tip for you: Be sensitive to your fasting friend or coworker. If possible refrain from eating, drinking, smoking in front of him/her. Invite them to break their fast with your family (it means a meal later than usual, if Ramadan is in the long summer months). Don’t miss an opportunity to join them if you’re invited to a meal in their home.2008270mnj285

Charity [Sadaqah or Saddka (Arabic: صدقة‎, plural ṣadaqāt صدقات)] and/or Alms-giving [Zakāt (Arabic: زكاة‎ )] Part of the reason for fasting is to experience the life of one poorer than you. The idea is to eat less and use the money saved to give to the poor during Ramadan. Islam has two types of charity – one is voluntary charity to the poor that is seen often during Ramadan; the other is the mandatory alms-giving, required by faithful adherents to Islam. Ramadan is sometimes the month when Muslims give their alms through their mosque(s).

Tip for you: You and your Muslim friends/colleagues may share a concern for the poor of your city or for an oppressed people group somewhere in the world. This could open a door for you to act together on behalf of those in need.

Prayers [Ṣalāt (Arabic: صلاة‎ ṣalāt; pl. صلوات ṣalawāt)] Prayers are a major tenet of the Muslim faith. During Ramadan, prayers are considered even more powerful to the faithful Muslim. Entry into Paradise can hoped to be won by Muslims through the careful attention to religious practices during Ramadan. During the last 10 days of Ramadan, a special Night of Power [Laylat al-Qadr (Arabic: لیلة القدر‎)], is believed to have even greater weight in the practicing Muslim’s pursuit of favor with God.Cairo086

Tip for you: Even if you do not usually notice your Muslim friend or coworker’s prayers, during Ramadan, you may see them praying in their homes or at their desks. The mosques in your neighborhood will be much more noticeably busy during Ramadan. Besides the usual Friday service, and the 5 regular prayer-times during the day, there are often special opportunities for Muslims to gather to pray and read and discuss the Qu’ran. Pray for them as they pray.Cairo100

God-consciousness or Piety [Taqwa (Arabic: تقوى‎ )] For many devout Muslims, Ramadan may not be so exceptional, except for the fast. Most, however, count on this month for its spiritual focus. Both men and women will have opportunities to learn more about their God and the teachings of their prophet Muhammad. The global observance of Ramadan is a galvanizing experience for Muslims, with each other, and with the history of their religion, and, their hope, with God.

Tip for you: Ramadan is an excellent time of the year to increase your own understanding of what your Muslim friends/co-workers believe. Questions about their faith are usually welcomed. Arguments about faith are not. Do your own homework about the faith issues where you may disagree with Islamic teaching. This type of information is prolific on the internet (especially related to differences in thinking between Christians and Muslims). Then you can ask or discuss the faith issues that matter most to your friends/colleagues, because during Ramadan, they have been thinking about them.Cairo094

Community [Ummah (Arabic: أمة‎)] Breaking the fast together and praying together in the mosque are clear signs of the strong bond between Muslims, especially seen during Ramadan. Christians enjoy this experience through similar celebrations (Christmas and Easter, to name two) and through their faith in Christ, bringing them into the larger Family or Kingdom of God. This Muslim observance of Ramadan, in its 30-day concentration of focus and universal religious practice, is unique to this religion.

Tip for you: For some, the community of the Islamic world, in their religious practices and political views, can be a little uncomfortable. A good reminder to self is that Islam is a religion, and Muslims are people. Whatever you agree with or disagree with, regarding the religion, needs to be separate from how you engage with the persons who identify with a certain religion. All of us need community and affiliation. So don’t be put off by the Islamic practices you see in Ramadan. Remember, the people who are fasting, praying, and trying to understand God may share very similar concerns and struggles. AND if your Muslim friend/colleague is observing Ramadan away from his family/religious community, he or she is especially isolated and could really use your friendship during this time.

Ramadan’s Festival Day(s) [Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر‎)] – at the end of this month’s fasting and praying – in a future blog.

Muslim Website on Getting the Most Benefit Out of Ramadan

YouTube Video – Iftar (Breaking the Fast) Ramadan 2015 Around the World

YouTube Video – Ramadan | Month of Mercy | Almarai Emotional Commercial

Breaking Fast with Family – English Subtitles – Coca-Cola Commercial – Strong Message of Perceived Power of Month of Ramadan in Changes of Heart

Short Public Service Announcement on Breaking the Fast & Family Time Together After

Breaking the Fast – Ramadan Subway Commercial – You Don’t Have to Know the Language to Appreciate the Message

California Muslim Teens Explaining Ramadan

A Morality Tale (Ramadan Pepsi/Lays Potato Chip Commercial) on the pull of society on Muslim Youth & How Ramadan Holds Family Together

What Growing Up in a Muslim Country Taught Us About Ramadan – Another Author’s View

Glossary of Islamic (Arabic) Terms for the Month of Ramadan

Arabic Words & English Transliteration


Worship Wednesday – Lord, I Need You – with Matt Maher & Audrey Assad

Blog - Lord I Need You 2Photo Credit – Patheos.com

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:16

Children and their moms and dads can be such a picture of our inborn need for God. Babies nuzzle mommy’s cheek when hungry and nestle into her shoulder in sleep. Preschoolers skin their knees and make a beeline straight to mom for that hug, “booboo” kiss, and super-hero bandaid. The first day at school, looking up to her daddy, that little girl transfers her hand from his to that of the kindergarten teacher’s.

When his drawings of people look more life-like in his opinion, the buddy artist shyly and proudly shows his progress to his mommy. The young girl finds herself the less-valued one of a three-some friendship, and retreats to mom, through tears, for her to remind her of her true value. When the youngest son is bullied as the littlest in the class, he takes courage in his dad’s big love. Chemistry homework fills up the daughter’s evenings, night after night, and she cries out to her daddy knowing he’ll help her figure something out.

A lonely 9th grader becomes a sought-after baker in his school and mom gives way to him in the kitchen. Facing another move, because of dad’s job, that daughter deals bravely with entering a new high school. An adolescent son missed the cut for the soccer team and grieved so hard it pierced the heart of his praying mom.

Then he rallied…with basketball and music. She rallied…graduating with honors. The youngest rallied to find his way in life, melding the hard experiences into character.

So it goes as children grow up and no longer need their parents as they did before. The analogy to our need for God breaks down here, because we never grow out of needing Him. Matt Maher, in telling the story behind the song “Lord, I Need You” talks about how C. S. Lewis describes “need-love”. It is very different from other loves.

 “Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve, or even to suffer for, God; Appreciative love says: “We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.” Need-love says of a woman “I cannot live without her”; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection – if possible, wealth; Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all.” – C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Need-love, as in the song “Lord, I Need You” comes from a heart that is aware of its lack and knows who can fill the emptiness. Need-love, on the flip side, moves us to respond to the good in our life, the joy and blessing, with gratefulness to God. With so much love. Sometimes, we hear people in our culture express thanks and yet the thanks seems to float out into the air with no place to land. God is our place to land.

“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”Blaise Pascal, French Physicist and Philosopher


“I know that everyone is going to go to God in their darkest need and struggle. My hope is that at some point it isn’t just that you go to God in your need but that you are so overwhelmingly hit between the eyes with the love of God that you would go to Him in your joy. In your joy, you would still say, “Every hour I need You”, not just in your brokenness, in your darkest times. There is always a reason to have joy. As believers, we can show witness by leaning on God in times of hardship but also leaning on God in times of joy and celebrating.”Matt Maher

I grew up singing favorite hymns from hymnals, by page number  – #379 Annie Hawks’ “I Need Thee Every Hour” was one of those songs.Blog - Lord, I Need You - Hymnal (2)

Matt Maher and a team of song-writers/worshippers have brought us again to God, as His children eager to share our need for Him and our joy in Him.

Worship with me:

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
You’re my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You*

*Lyrics to Lord, I Need You – written by Matt Maher, Kristian Stanfill, Christy Nockels, Jesse Reeves and Daniel Carson

Chords to Lord, I Need You

YouTube Video with Lyrics – Lord, I Need You – Matt Maher

YouTube Video – Matt Maher – Lord, I Need You (feat. Audrey Assad) – Acoustic 

Story Behind the Song – Lord, I Need You – Matt Maher

I Need Thee Every Hour by Annie S. Hawks, 1872

Singing From the Same Hymnal in a Post-Hymnal World

Matt Maher Music

Blog - Lord, I Need You - Matt MaherPhoto Credit – YouTube Video