A PEACE OF HIM 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” So said Jesus in John 14:27.

What is peace? It can be simply a reprieve from outright war or actual harmony among individuals. However, probably the best definition of the word that is translated “peace” in John 14:27 is “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ.” This is the peace – this tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation – that we are assured, I believe, in the promise Jesus gave His disciples. 

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A STICK AND A STING

“A stick and a sting” – that is what the doctors and nurses at my dermatologist’s office say before giving me a shot of numbing agent. I’ve been through it many times. They are very apologetic, but there is no need. Yes, it hurts a little and very briefly to get that shot. However, a “stick and a sting” is a small price to pay to be pain free through the rest of what the doctor needs to do – cutting out the basal cell cancer, cauterizing the wound and stitching me back up.  I do not want to feel that. So, the brief stick and sting is welcomed

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THE MAESTRO AND THE PRAISE LEADER

Wes and I were recently blessed to be able to attend two local concerts. The first one was the Gaithers, a Southern Gospel vocal group named for the founder, Bill Gaither, performing at LeTourneau University in Longview. The other was Yo-Yo Ma, the world famous cellist, performing with the East Texas Symphony Orchestra at the University of Texas at Tyler. And the experiences couldn’t have been any different!

What they had in common: great music and great performances by musicians well trained in their craft and devoted to presenting quality work. However, the performances asked quite different things from their audiences.

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SWALLOWED UP

I’m listening to a self-help book about creativity on tape titled Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (who also wrote Eat, Pray, Love). In it, Gilbert discusses a book that she failed to write, the concept for which began when she learned about an incident that occurred in the 60’s or 70’s in Brazil. 

Gilbert recounted how, the Brazilian government decided to build a road through the rainforest. The project was mismanaged in many ways, but did finally get under way – at least until the rainy season hit. Work on the highway had to be abandoned until the rainy season ended, at which time the workers returned to find that the entire highway and all their equipment (some so big that the tires were more than six feet tall) were swallowed up by the jungle and the mud. 

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THE DEBT CEILING

Debt is in the news. Here in the USA, Congress is once again facing the need to raise the national debt ceiling. Like my parents before me, I wonder what my children and grandchildren will get saddled with trying to live their lives under that type of ever-increasing debt. And then there is the oppressive college debt most graduates labor under. Post high school education is practically a requirement to survive in the work-a-day world these days, yet, I know so many young people who could end up not paying off college debt until they are nearing retirement. These things are enough to give this mother of three a panic attack.

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PAUL AND SNAPCHAT FILTERS

Have you ever tried Snapchat filters? I’m not on Snapchat, but I have a similar app that my son put on my phone when I last visited him in China. It is called Faceu. Through this app, as with Snapchat filters, I can give myself a pig face or bunny ears or a crown of flowers. I can add a photo frame or change the color tone to “sunshine” or “berry” or make it black and white. It’s a fun way to create silly pictures.

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A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART 

Unless you have been secluded in a monastery, you know that there will be a solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. If you are very lucky and planned ahead, you could be on Royal Caribbean’s Total Eclipse Cruise in a position on the ocean to see the total eclipse and hear Bonnie Tyler sing her 1983 smash hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at the peak of the eclipse. Here, in Big Sandy, Texas, we will see only a 77.3% eclipse at 1:14 p.m. Central time on Monday.

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DOING WISDOM RIGHT

Wisdom supposedly comes with age and experience. I have plenty of both, but I recently came across a Scripture that made me wonder if I might be doing this wisdom thing all wrong. Yes, it sounds odd to me, even as I type it out. How can you get wisdom wrong? Please, hear me out and see if you don’t think there may be more to this wisdom thing that just what old age and experience can bring you. 

The definition of wisdom that I found on the Web is “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise or the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” This seems to support the theory that age and experience, coupled with good judgment is enough to be considered wise.

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CHECKMATE

I don’t play chess. I’ve started to learn it a time or two and dropped it for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it takes too much strategic, advanced planning for me to consider it to be any kind of fun. Yes, I confess that I prefer my fun to require less of my mind. I feel like my job, our Friday night live program, my blog, hosting a women’s study and maintaining strong, godly relationships – not to mention leading the planning for an annual women’s conference – requires plenty of mental and spiritual focus, as well as advanced planning and preparation for success. So, I say “no thank you” to chess. And don’t even get me started on the 3D chess made popular by Star Trek! To me, that seems like the opportunity for a triple headache. I don’t need that kind of pressure in my “fun” time activities.

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INTRODUCING THE ONE, THE ONLY…

I am a fan of the move A Knight’s Tale (Colombia Pictures, 2001) staring Heath Ledger as a commoner named William who poses as a knight by the name of Ulrich von Lichtenstein. It has action, romance (boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back), some kickin’ music and the underdog wins in the end. What’s not to love? 

Some of the funniest scenes are the introductions of the knights before a jousting match. Now, as part of my Toastmasters training, I understand that there is a fine art to introductions. You have to learn something about the person you are introducing and help the audience to understand why the audience should be interested in what the speaker has to say. But the introductions in A Knight’s Tale seemed to be intended to do three things: stir up the support of the crowd, strike some fear into the opponent and praise the knight’s accomplishments.  

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LESSONS FROM THE NO FLY ZONE

“Is that yours?” said a kind 40ish man who was clearly traveling with a group of teens headed to a mission trip (their matching T-shirts gave away both their togetherness and the purpose of their air travel). Why yes, it was my little container of hair gel rolling across the floor at the Love Field security check point. Just one of the mishaps of my day, my quart-sized bag of 3-oz-or-less liquids had split open as I was pulling it out of my carry-on bag and several of my personal grooming items had to be chased down.

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LIFE ON THE ROCK

As I write this, I have just gotten back from a trip to San Francisco with some of my family. This trip will figure in another blog or two in the coming weeks as well. You may begin to consider me to be like those people who force you to review vacation photo after vacation photo. Only mine will be mental images of the lessons I learned along the way. Hopefully, they won’t bore you.

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ANOTHER HANDMAID’S TALE

Recently, I learned about the Hulu original series “A Handmaid’s Tale.” It is constantly advertised in Facebook feed, but you cannot learn anything about it that way. What got me interested in the show was that I came across an opinion piece about the series being “timely,” considering “current women’s rights issues.” After reading that piece in the liberal-leaning magazine, I looked up the opposing opinion in a conservative-leaning magazine. Google “opinion, The Handmaid’s Tale” and you will discover that everybody has one – an opinion, that is, not a handmaid.

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FACE PLANT

Have you ever actually fallen and landed on your face? I wish I could answer “no” to that question. I’d have to say “Yes.”

It happened just a few weeks ago. I tripped on a curb in Chicago because I was looking down at my phone, trying to understand Siri’s next direction toward my destination of Navy Pier. I’m not sure how I fell with so little damage from my 5’ 9” height – except to think that God mercifully protected me. However, I did actually land on my face after taking the first hit on my knee. I busted my lower lip and scrapped my upper lip. But didn’t break anything. Praise God. I could have broken my nose or busted some teeth.

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WHAT DOES DAD WANT?

Father’s Day is coming up. Are you stressing about what to get your Dad or the father of your children? Have you been watching him to see what he is searching online? Has he mentioned a book or electronic gadget he’d like to get? Have you rushed out to buy it, hoping he doesn’t buy it for himself before Father’s Day? Did you ask what he wants only to be told, “Just a day with my family” and plotted how to make that day great?

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THE ROOF IS ON FIRE

I hope you had a blessed and spiritually nourishing day of Pentecost. After all, you counted off, waited and marked 50 long days to get there. Imagine the New Testament church waiting with expectation for the promise of the power of the Holy Spirit!

At my house, we celebrated the beginning of the day of Pentecost with fireworks. It was an exciting and dramatic way to bring in the day that pictures the first pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the church of God – an event that included tongues of fire coming down from heaven.

The event at my house was exciting for sure – especially the strips of Black Cats going off under my porch awning and the pieces of rockets and mortars raining down on my garage. Not one to skimp, my husband had purchased enough fireworks to put on a 40 minute show. Thankfully, neither the roof nor anything else caught on fire.

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DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR

“Disruptive technology” is all the rage these days. It’s an industry buzz word that I hear a lot. Apple made its reputation on shaking up the norms with disruptive technology and it remains a hallmark of the brand. 

Just in case you are not familiar with the term, I copied part of the explanation found here: 

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/disruptive-technology 

A disruptive technology is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry.  

Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen coined the term disruptive technology. In his 1997 best-selling book, "The Innovator's Dilemma," Christensen separates new technology into two categories: sustaining and disruptive. Sustaining technology relies on incremental improvements to an already established technology.

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A MOTHER'S ❤️ IN FOUR PIECES

Last week was Mother’s Day here in the USA. So, I took the week off from blogging to have fun with family. That, as I was slammed at my day job. 

Mary, mother of Christ, is an incredible example of motherhood – maybe the best one in the Bible. No, we should not worship her or pray to her – worship is reserved for God alone and we should pray only to Him. However, when my morning study sent me to John 2, I began thinking about this extraordinary woman, who many theologians say was a teenager when called upon to give birth to the Messiah.

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THE AGENT ORANGE OPTION

Recently, my husband, Wes, and I were talking about his continuing efforts to keep the wilderness just across our fence line from creeping back onto our property. 

Wes, with the help of my sons and, sometimes, me, has cleared off pine and scrub trees. We’ve battled stickers, pulled up weeds, poisoned the poison ivy, planted grass and cut back the brush that hangs over the fence from the neighbor’s property. Wes is out there, almost daily, weed-eating, moving, cutting branches, disposing of leaves, killing fire ants and using a humane device to drive away gophers.  We now have a lush, green three-acre plot that looks like a well-manicured golf course. 

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THE ONLY CARBON COPY 

Speaking of Jesus, Hebrews 1:3 [KJV] says, Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

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