Friday, March 27, 2015


The German Airbus that crashed in the Alps, taking 154 precious souls immediately into eternity, was not a tragic accident? Seriously? Could it actually be that a co-pilot, sharing the same eternal soul as the 154 innocents, deliberately chose to end his own life,  AND take all of them without their choice into that mountain with him? It seems impossible. The stuff of a horror drama.

Yet it is true. The black box tells the story. The crew and passengers wailed and screamed with only moments to grasp the magnitude of what was happening, to try to make last minute preparations to grieve over faces they would never again see, words they would never once more speak, hoped for experiences they would never live. Only moments to push those thoughts aside and prepare for the most important moment in life and eternity--meeting their Maker face to face.Oh, the agony. Oh, the anguish.

Who has the right to do such a thing? Right. No one. It is unthinkable. Unthinkable to remove another person's choice and send them into certain destruction. Yet it happens daily. Not with Alps mountains and Airbuses---in moments less dramatic and public, but with the same weighty consequences. One person without regard for the hopes, dreams, and soul of another makes a choice that forever alters the other person's destiny.

There are the drunk drivers, the reckless drivers. There are the drug dealers, the drug users---making choices that drag their entire circle of love into the flaming wreckage of lives out of control. There are  the abusers, the enslavers, who in one act forever change who that child victim is and will be. There are the name callers, the vicious attackers, who in a verbal assault, generally over something trivial in the grand scheme of things, curse, pillage and vandalize the spirits of their targets beyond recognition. The ones who brand weaker spirits with names of shame, disgust, and dripping bile...setting their auto-pilot to eventually crash into the jagged and unforgiving walls of self-hatred.
These terrorists are parents, spouses, lovers, supposed friends. People who are supposed to be the providers and guardians of heaven heading their helpless life passengers into the hottest of hells.

All of these hijackings that occur on a daily basis in some way involve the world's most potent weapon--the words we say, crafted by the tongue we are entrusted to steward for good. With it we make choices and requests that forever change our lives and those of the people around us. With it we speak words which dominate and direct not only ourselves but the people who share life with us. A book of ancient wisdom that never grows old, the New Testament Book of James, testifies about the destructive ability of our words, "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."  On the opposite end, Solomon, wisest of all the men who ever lived, said that the right word spoken at the right time is beyond beautiful and incredibly valuable.

We all are flying at a high altitude in the intense and demanding environment of 2015 life. No one has the right to lock themselves in a personal cockpit of self-centered oblivion, subjecting others to their arrogance, desires,frustration, or even pain, depression, or disappointment. My prayer today:
"Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips." (Psalm 141:3) May those who travel with me travel safely.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Brenda's Beef Stew

So, I made beef stew for family dinner this week, and served it to rave reviews. It looked beautiful, smelled even better, and tasted pretty good, if I have to say so myself. But here's some inside information. Every time I make beef stew, it does well when it is fresh and new, but Charlie never appreciates it quite like he does the third or fourth time around. When the stew is a few days old, the meat has pretty much fallen apart, the carrots and potatoes are so integrated into the gravy that nothing lacks the full flavor of the beef--that is when Charlie declares it a masterpiece. It doesn't LOOK as good as it did when it was fresh and new, but it has truly developed into a delectable wonder.

I think that really wonderful women in our culture are a bit like my beef stew. We get the most attention when we are new and fresh and a feast for the eyes. We often get the most appreciation and admiration then we will ever get. We look good, we smell good---everyone wants something we have to offer.

Then it happens. When the newness is gone, when the bowl is not as attractive and shows a little messiness left by all who have been blessed by the She-Stew (husbands, children, friends, jobs, endless housework and community name the diners, many double-dippers), She is often set on a shelf, pushed to the back and forgotten. What a shame. Hungry people, needing just what she has to offer, go without, and she is wasted. That's why so many women in our high demand for "fresh this morning" culture obsess over aging and grab at anything that promises to restrain reality.

But, thank God,  there are those who know what's good when they taste it. They look past the no longer pristine presentation, and they see a masterpiece, an incredible blend of flavors that could only come to perfection over time. The tender meat is treasured, the vegetables are savored, and the She-Stew is prized for what she has to offer she didn't have at an earlier stage. No sitting on the shelf for this bowl. This one will be handled with honor to the very last drop.

Frankly, the She-Stew named Brenda was initially on the menu quite a few years ago now. I will be the first to admit I don't look like I used to; if you are looking for pretty as a picture and "just cooked this morning", keep walking. You won't find that here. :-)

I am so blessed, however. My husband, my family, and my church family encourage me to believe that I am better than ever. They don't focus on what I no longer have; they applaud the new flavors life and service have given me. Frankly, I know me best, and I know for certain I am a far better version of me than when I started. My Heavenly Father keeps seasoning me up, and seems to plan to keep using me at His table as long as I am willing.

That's my hope for all older women. If you have an older woman in your life---mother, sister, co-worker, neighbor---don't discount her or put her on a shelf. If you give her a chance, you may be surprised at the unexpected flavor she will bring to your life. She may be much better than you remember, better than you knew, improved with age and seasoning. It's worth a taste.