Category Archives: Opinion

Corrie Ten Boom:Attitudes Are Contagious by Patty LaRoche

We all have met Christians whose circumstances determine their moods and ultimately, their faith. Happy or cranky, both attitudes are contagious, and both are indicators of a person’s relationship with God. If ever someone refused to let her situation control her faith, it was Corrie ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place.

Imprisoned in a concentration camp during Hitler’s reign, Corrie sought to find blessings in her horrific conditions. “Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings,” she later wrote. “It’s something we make inside ourselves.” Along with her sister, Betsie, she was forced to sleep on straw-covered platforms in a filthy barracks where the plumbing had backed up. The stench was unbearable, and then fleas infested the area.

Corrie asked Betsie: “How can we live in this place?”

Betsie prayed aloud that God would show them how. This is what Corrie wrote about their conversation that followed:

“ ‘Corrie, …in the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!’

I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. ‘It was First Thessalonians,’ I said…

“‘Oh yes: …Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances…’

“‘That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. Give thanks in all circumstances! That’s what we can do.’”

At that point, the two sisters began to make a mental gratitude list: they had been assigned together; they were able to sneak their Bible past the inspectors; and because the room was crammed, when they spoke of Jesus, many heard of him.

Corrie’s writing continued. “Thus began the closest, most joyous weeks of all the time in Ravensbruck…In the sanctuary of God’s fleas, Betsie and I ministered the Word of God to all in the room. We sat by deathbeds that became doorways of heaven. We watched women who had lost everything grow rich in hope…We prayed beyond the concrete walls for the healing of Germany, of Europe, of the world.”

Betsie died in that prison, but Corrie went on to write dozens of books about her experience. Many of her quotes depict her incredible faith in tough times. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

“Jesus did not promise to change the circumstances around us. He promised great peace and pure joy to those who would learn to believe that God actually controls all things.”

“In order to realize the worth of the anchor we need to feel the stress of the storm.”

“The school of life offers some difficult courses, but it is in the difficult class that one learns the most.”

“If God sends us on stony paths, he provides strong shoes.”

“You can never learn that Christ is all you need until Christ is all you have.”

Few of us have encountered trials comparable to those Corrie and Betsie suffered. Their decision to find blessings in filth and fleas modeled Romans 5:3-5 (ESV):…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

The lesson is life-changing. When we accept the tough times and move beyond our own selfish desires, motives, and pleasures, when instead we seek to love God and bless others, we produce our own happiness. And like I said, happiness, like crankiness, is contagious.

The choice is ours: If we are to be a carrier, which do we choose to spread?

Pride By Patty LaRoche

James 1:19-20My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

When I am involved in a disagreement (argument?), the common denominator in every one of them is always…well, me. Or you, if you are the one involved. Actually, the root of all my problems is me. Or you, if you are the one involved. Think about it. All of us live on a continuum somewhere between gratitude and entitlement with most of our teeter-totters heavily favoring the entitlement side. Maybe not the government-handout entitlement, but just that part of our self-esteem that somehow thinks WE matter most. People should treat us special. Good things are due to us. After all, we work hard. Most people don’t hate us. We’ve never murdered anyone. Surely we deserve some perks for our efforts. Um-hmm. Keep talking.

Pride at its finest.

I imagine it’s thoughts like this that prompted atheist-turned-Christian C.S. Lewis to call pride the “root of all sin.” He’s right. Who of us doesn’t stubbornly want our way? I try not to, but usually, I’m right, so it’s hard to back down. And yes, I am kidding (sort of). Whoever wrote the adage “You can be right, or you can be married” understood the difficulty in two disagreeing people working toward compromise. Pride makes us want to be right. Like I said, we are entitled.

Lord, help us!

Fortunately, He does, and He used Paul to write to the Romans to explain how we adjust on our temperamental teeter-totter. The first eight chapters give us clear instruction that we are saved by faith. The next three chapters are about God’s mercy that we don’t deserve.

Then we hit Chapter 12: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Notice the first word of verse one: “Therefore.” In other words, “Because of what you have just read about God’s mercy and provision in the first eleven chapters, it’s time to do something. For starters, change your stinkin’ way of thinkin’. Stop putting yourself first.

I know that’s possible, but sometimes it is really, really hard.

While I am writing this article, my phone is on hold with Frontier Airlines. For thirty-five minutes I have been listening to classical music while I stew because, after a month of phone calls (always being told they have “higher than normal hold times,”), they disconnect me. My emails have been answered with an “automatic reply,” promising a response within seven days. Not happening.

The problem? The airline canceled Dave’s flight to attend our granddaughter’s June 8th wedding, offering instead to put him on another flight that would get him there seven hours AFTER the wedding started, AND since they have no reciprocal agreements with any other airlines, that was “the best” they could do. Are you feeling my frustration?

And yes, I know that how I handle this phone call (if I don’t die first while listening to Bach) will indicate my level of pride. Will I chew out some poor, underpaid customer service agent or “renew my mind” and be a witness for Christ?

You will be pleased to know that during this incessantly long delay, I am praying for some Godly intervention. I’m pretty confident I know what my choice will be.

Letter To Editor: Kevin Jones VS Caryn Tyson

Dear Editor,

Disappointing.  My State Representative Kevin Jones printed misleading and false information in his recent mailer. It is disappointing Jones would allow his campaign staff to sink to this level. Mr. Jones is one of Caryn Tyson’s opponents in a primary race to replace retiring Kansas 2nd District U.S. Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins.

In his mailer Kevin Jones stated, Caryn Tyson “supports import of foreign labor to compete with Kansans for jobs.”  Really?  Caryn said she would support Trump in fixing our immigration laws.  How could Jones twist her statement into this inaccurate and misleading statement in his mailer.

Next he prints, “Tax Chair, recommended passage of the largest tax hike in KS history.” Jones knows Caryn Tyson spoke against the bill and voted ‘no’ on the tax increase. Our representative either doesn’t understand the conference committee process as defined by statute or is lying about it.  He knows Tyson did not vote for that or any tax increase.  How could he print this when he voted for the 2nd largest tax increase ever in Kansas.

And third Jones wrote that Caryn, “voted against government efficiency reforms.”  Not true, anyone one who knows Caryn Tyson knows that she has always worked for a smaller and more efficient government.

Caryn Tyson is an effective legislator who gets things done.  She has cut wasteful spending, cut taxes, and fights to protect our Constitution.  Let’s not listen to lies.  Let’s send Caryn Tyson to Washington to help make America great again.

Robert Tyson

Parker, KS

 

False Advertisers by Patty LaRoche

I am a sucker for false advertising. When I die and you come to my estate sale (which will be held even if Dave survives me because he will be thrilled to get rid of my collections), you will see for yourself. Let’s start with recipe books. I have never seen a cookbook I did not like. Even if ingredients can be purchased only in Bangladesh, if the photos appear tasty, I buy the book. The problem? No dish I ever have made even remotely resembles the cookbook picture of how master chefs–and photo-shopping–make it appear.

Television gadgets target me. Zucchini shredders. Mosquito electrocuters. Bunion erasers. Microwave bacon dividers. Roto-rooter snakes. Canvas deck covers. Flashlights that illuminate all of New York City. Any pizza with stringy cheese. It’s all about the way the goodies are presented. Rarely do they measure up.

And how about books? Against my wishes, Dave bought me a Kindle so I (he) would not have to lug 200 pounds worth of books when we travel. I resisted, but once I gave it a chance, I was hooked. Then I signed up for BookBub. Every day three or four books are offered at super cheap prices. Unfortunately, few match their reviews or covers. Even Christian books disappoint. History books are way too…well, historical (and assume I already know a lot more about the past than I do). Occasionally I buy a humorous book. So far, they have all ended up in my “deleted” file. Surely I’m not the only one who wants funny without profanity and sex!

Then there are games. You know, the ones with covers that show loving families leaning in at the kitchen table, everyone laughing, making a lifetime memory. We can be that family, I used to tell myself, and we could be if even one of my kids could have been trusted as a banker or realtor or deck dealer. Or if one, unnamed son wouldn’t have tossed the game pieces to the ceiling or delighted in screaming “50 card pick-up” if there was the slightest chance he might not win. Or if I would have accepted “IT IS A WORD. IT IS A WORD. I DON’T CARE IF IT’S NOT IN THE DICTIONARY. TGKSU IS A WORD. IT IS. IT IS. IT IS.”

This past week, I drove seven hours to (among other things) check out a potential 2018 family Christmas gathering spot—a houseboat with photos that boasted a gourmet kitchen, a top-deck jacuzzi, its own small beach and enough room to sleep 12. I had all but clicked on the “Reserve Now Before It’s Gone” button before deciding to see it in person. Risking my life to walk on its pier, I actually strode past it, wondering how such a “condemned” boat hadn’t fallen apart and sunk, before realizing that was the one offered for rent.

False advertising at its best! And then my Scripture reading today shows that Jesus himself abhorred fakeness, only in this case, the finger wasn’t pointing at cookbooks or the television or books or games; it was pointed in my direction.

Matthew 23: 27“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Notice that Jesus calls these naysayers “Hypocrites,” the word for Greek actors who placed a mask over their face to pretend to be someone they weren’t.

And because Scripture says we are all sinners, I assume you join me in the list of the guilty ones. We attend church, smiling at all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, after having just barked at someone in our family. We sing worship songs after sharing gossip about one of God’s children. We fail to share the gospel but have no problem wearing a decorative cross around our necks.

We look the part on the outside but need a major overhaul on the inside.

False advertisers should take notice.

I guess, in reality, that includes me.

Communion On The Moon by Patty LaRoche

July 20 commemorates the day in 1969 that astronaut Buzz Aldrin served communion on the moon. This year, Webster Presbyterian in Texas—where Aldrin served as an elder –will celebrate the historic event on Sunday, July 22, by presenting the chalice that Aldrin brought back to Earth with him. After all, it was that church’s minister who consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine in preparation for Aldrin’s trip to the moon. The sacred lunar ceremony was kept secret by the U.S. government until years later when Aldrin shared his story.

Aldrin’s proposal originally had been rejected when he told NASA flight operations coordinator Deke Slayton of his idea to celebrate communion during the live broadcast from the moon. According to Aldrin’s memoir “Magnificent Desolation,” Slayton told him, “No, that’s not a good idea, Buzz. Go ahead and have communion but keep your comments more general.”

That was because just a few months previous, in what was the most watched television broadcast in the world, the Apollo 8 astronauts had read the first ten verses of Genesis while orbiting the moon. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’: and there was light…” 

Atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair sued, and even though the Supreme Court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, the legal battles she won taking prayer and Bible reading out of school created enough of a stir that NASA wanted to avoid any further problems. Aldrin would resort to Plan B.

Once he and Neil Armstrong exited the Lunar Module, Armstrong summed up the enormity of the occasion when he stepped onto the moon’s surface and spoke the often-quoted phrase, This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Aldrin then radioed this message to NASA: “This is the LM (Lunar Module) pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”
To comply with Mission Control, Aldrin then ended radio communication, and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion. According to journalist Matthew Cresswell in
The Guardian, this is Aldrin’s account of what happened:
“In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me.  In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. 
It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements. “Then I read the scripture:  ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit … Apart from me, you can do nothing.’”

They were Jesus’ words and coming from Someone who had created the moon, He should know.

Inadequate Prayer by Patty LaRoche

People who work on taxes are geniuses. So are travelers who understand foreign exchange rates. You’ve met their kind. They read business books as bathroom literature instead of Chicken Soup for the Soul books as I do. As secretary for our condominium board in Mazatlan, I, the lone woman out of seven representatives, have given up trying to engage in conversations about currencies. I stick to my expertise: typing pretty fast and asking the men to dumb down whatever they are saying so I can make the minutes relatively understandable.

Three years ago when I was first elected, I tried to keep up when the former CEO’s discussed these money matters. My bi-line became “I don’t get it.” I don’t get it in the United States, and I sure didn’t get it in Mexico where the taxes and laws and pesos fluctuate like bouncy balls at a Chucky Cheese restaurant.

One year later, I liberated myself. I didn’t have to “get it.” Six men did. They had owned banks and wineries and medical companies and were entrepreneurs in up-start endeavors. Finances are their “thing.”

Mine is communication.

Including sharing Jesus. Not in an obnoxious, judgmental way (like I did as a baby Christian—I grimace when I think of how unbearable I was), but by using humor. For example, more than once I have reminded one board partner that he is moving up my prayer ladder when he uses profanity. He now corrects himself. And we all laugh.

But as we all know, there are times when humor is not the answer. Prayer is, and God has proven over and over that it is the most powerful communication tool He has given me.

Take Frank, for instance. Canadians Frank and Gale were delightful owners at our complex. Frank was a former hockey player and sometimes a tennis partner of mine. He suffered a massive stroke and was taken to a Mazatlan hospital. When I went to visit him, he was belligerent. Gale had stepped out of his room for a few minutes, and he demanded she return. There was no comforting him. This was not the happy-go-lucky Frank I knew.

When I learned that Gale had chartered a plane to take them back to Canada, I felt God nudge me to visit him one last time. There was no response when I asked Frank if I could pray for them, and for a moment, when Frank looked at Gale in panicked silence, the thought that I had over-stepped my bounds crossed my mind. Okay, it didn’t just “cross my mind.” It smacked me upside my head and let me know I had just completely offended two people I cared about. Gale was kind enough to repeat my question, and hesitantly, Frank said yes. We held hands, and I prayed. That was a year ago.

Through their best friends Rich and Carol and my email correspondence with Gale, I learned that things were bad. Frank had been in and out of the hospital and was down to 80 pounds. Recently Carol called me to share that—out of the clear blue—Frank asked Gale if she remembered me praying for them. In Gale’s words, “In our entire marriage (40+ years), we had never prayed. Frank said he wanted to pray. So, we did. And then he asked if a priest could come to baptize him, confirm him, and give him the Last Rights.” Gale made the call.

God took a simple prayer from someone completely inadequate and made an eternal difference. Within a few weeks, Frank passed away.

Risky? Only if I want to think of it that way. In reality, I risk nothing when I offer to pray. Instead, I offer others the greatest gift I can give and then let God do all the work.

(So much easier than explaining foreign currency.)

Woe, by Patty LaRoche

A psychiatry professor was teaching the introductory lesson on emotional extremes to his college class. Starting with the basics, the professor asked a student from Arkansas, “What is the opposite of joy?” and the student immediately replied, “Sadness.” The teacher moved on to a young lady from Oklahoma and asked, “And the opposite of depression?” to which she responded, “Elation.” Then, turning to a young man from Texas, the professor said, “And you, friend, what is the opposite of woe?” In the blink of an eye the young Texan replied, “Sir, I believe that would be `giddy-up.”

(I hope you are smiling.) In reality, spelled “Whoa” or “Woe,” both are warnings. In the Bible, “Woe” in Greek is “ouai” and is a judgment that typically signifies impending doom and/or the wrath of God. It is worse than using the middle name of your child to get his/her attention. In Jesus’ day, those three letters caused knees to shake and sweat to pool on more than one forehead, which is why Jesus used “Woe” with the legalistic Pharisees.

In Matthew, chapter 23 alone, he recites the warning word eight times. Seven of them read like this: But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. One refers to them as blind guides. Each “Woe” carries with it its own description of ungodly behavior. So, what did the religious Pharisees do to invoke such anger from Jesus? Let me count the ways.

Okay, I can’t. There are too many. Most, however, share one theme: the Pharisees are prideful. They humble the multitudes while elevating their own status. If there were a Hall of Fame in Jesus’ day, they would have duked it out to have their names inscribed on the plaque. Their self-importance causes them to demand attention and submission, a behavior despised by Jesus whose very words “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God” points to their sin.

For goodness sakes, Jesus stands nose-to-nose with these leaders on an almost-daily basis, yet they fail to recognize Truth when they smell it. Even when Jesus repeatedly traps them in their own game of “Trick the Rabbi,” the majority sulk instead of opening their hearts to hear what he was trying to teach them about their pride.

The message is just as relevant today. We are equally guilty. All we have to do connect on social media where we are afforded the perfect place for a relatively new term: “humblebrag.” You know what I’m talking about.

Closet-cleaning day ahead. Losing those 40 pounds has forced me to donate all of my XL sizes.”

Some days I feel so guilty about my parenting skills, but then my sweet little prince brings me iced tea by the pool and I know there is hope.”

Just bought several more acres but dread the taxes that will follow. Are you with me?”

Hidden within the humble words are subtle (?) ways to boast. Jesus might have a “Woe” or two for these people, don’t you think? But before I find too much comfort in writing about someone else’s pride, I should stop giddy-upping on my high horse and admit I deserve a thunderous “Woe” admonition for criticizing anyone for their pride (like I just did with my social media quotes).

If I truly were pride-less, I would know that in pointing to others’ arrogance, I am elevating myself as just a little more righteous, a little more Pharisee-like (and a lot less Christ-like), probably giving new meaning to the phrase, “Oh, woe is me!”

Kathy Crosby by Patty LaRoche

Kathy Crosby, wife of Ed, the (then) second baseman for the Cleveland Indians, wanted to lose weight. Her husband encouraged her and daily asking for an update. At first, she was proud of the scale’s readings and couldn’t wait to share the good news with Ed. But after a while, she realized he was “too” on board, “too” bossy about ways to expedite her weight loss.

One day, when Ed was out of town on a road trip, Kathy decided to cheat. Kentucky Fried Chicken was just around the corner. Surely a piece—or three—of white meat, a scoop—or two—of mashed potatoes, and a biscuit—or two–couldn’t hurt. Plus, her husband would never know. When he would return late that night and ask, she would say she had done well. After all, “well” is relative, right?

What Kathy did not know was that the local KFC had prepared a huge celebration for the one-millionth customer who crossed its threshold. You can guess who that was. As soon as Kathy placed her order, a trio of bagpipe players, the Cleveland press, dignitaries from the home office and all the KFC employees surrounded a stunned Kathy. Presenting her with a bouquet of balloons and enough chicken coupons to last a lifetime, my friend stood by, looking like she had just swallowed a barnyard of eggs.

When Ed came home that night, Kathy picked him up at the airport. It took no time for him to ask how her diet was progressing. She talked about how disciplined she had been and how she had done so well. Relative, right? Ed was proud and told her so.

The next morning, while reading the Cleveland Press newspaper, Ed noticed a photo of someone who strongly resembled his wife. So strongly did she resemble his wife that he read the article. Enter Kathy. Ed pointed to the picture and asked if that would happen to be the same person—who just happened to be named Kathy Crosby– who had “done so well.”

Who has ever been serenaded with BAGPIPES?” Kathy moaned at the ballgame that evening. “We’re in Ohio, not Scotland, for goodness sakes.” My friend had been caught, greasy-handed. We wives were hysterical by the time she finished wailing.

Let’s be honest. Who of us hasn’t been guilty of fudging a little to avoid disappointing or displeasing someone we care about? (Pause here. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this article is not for you.) For the rest of us, you get it, right?

Probably one of the most notorious “cover your track” guys is Israel’s King Saul when confronted by the prophet Samuel, his mentor. God had commissioned Saul to kill the evil Amalekites, men, women, children, and animals. Saul, however, spared the king of the Amalekites and the best of their animals. To him, partial obedience was good enough. Enter Samuel whom Saul greeted with these words: “Blessed are you of the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” At this point, Saul is not doing so well.

It’s confrontation time. Samuel speaks. “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” Busted! The title of “King” is stripped from Saul. And although Saul’s giveaway was the noise of sheep and not bagpipes, he, like Kathy, did not escape the voice of displeasure. In his case, there were two main differences: (1) The displeasure came from God and not his spouse, and (2) No one found humor in Saul’s story.

In the end, neither Saul nor Kathy had “done so well”… relatively speaking, that is.

Quinton By Patty LaRoche

The day after my granddaughter Amanda’s wedding in Las Vegas, Dave and Nikki, her parents, worked a charity golf tournament for Quinton Robbins, the twenty-year-old family friend who had been murdered in the Las Vegas concert massacre last year. Since his death, Quinton’s parents have determined to keep his memory alive. His friends have done likewise.

On the side of the large hill in Henderson, Nevada, Basic High School classmates painted a gigantic “Q” beside the “B” that, for years, has served as a source of pride for the students. Should you visit that area, it will not be uncommon to see Quinton’s logo– a Q, antlers, a fishing hook and #3 for his sports jerseys’ number–on the rear window of several vehicles.

Joe and Tracey, Quinton’s parents, started a “Random Act of Kindness” tribute in their son’s name by creating 3” x 2” cards to be shared. (See insert above.) The cards went viral. People at dry cleaners, movie theaters, gas stations and restaurants would “Play It Forward” (“Play,” not “Pay” because of their son’s love of sports) and leave Quinton’s card for individuals behind them. They, in turn, would post on Facebook how they had been blessed.

At one In-N-Out, a restaurant where Amanda worked, twenty-eight cars in a row participated! Can you imagine what fun the attendant had, sharing with each car at the drive-through what number they were? “Sir, you are the 11th in line to keep this going.” “Ma’am, you are the 19th to play forward.” “Folks, you have just put an end to 28 people blessing others. Not cool!” (Okay, that didn’t happen, but I bet it crossed the employee’s mind.)

We all had a big laugh when Dave, our son-in-law, shared his experience about paying for the lone woman in the car behind him at a drive-through. After all, what could one person possibly cost? Thirty-seven dollars, to be exact. Either she was really hungry, or she was carrying out for her entire family. Whatever the reason, Dave said from that point on, he would put a cap on his contribution.

In spite of the Robbins’ desire to bless, the pain of Quinton’s death continues. At Amanda’s wedding, everyone understood when Tracey and Joe left during the groom’s dance with his mother. Still, they press on, creating scholarships in their son’s name. They are a testimony to the truth of Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

When adversity strikes, we long for our tears to evaporate, our disappointments to fade, our suffering to vanish. None of that can happen without God’s provision to meet those needs.

Joe and Tracey refuse to let their son’s death stifle their commitment to be used by God. They respond to their personal grief by knowing the day will come when, thanks to Jesus, they will be reunited with Quinton in Heaven. After all, who paid it forward more than our Savior?

I am inspired to follow the Robbins’ lead and continue their Play It Forward memorial. Perhaps you will be inspired to do the same.

Amanda’s Wedding by Patty LaRoche

At weddings, my dress purse contains three things: lipstick, a nail file and Kleenex—lots and lots of Kleenex. This past weekend, I was in good company. By the time the celebration was over, there weren’t many dry eyes left.

This past Friday, I witnessed a sacred marriage union in which Tyler and my granddaughter, Amanda, committed themselves to God first, and each other, second. From the time they met fifteen months ago until this past Friday, they determined to keep their relationship pure. Their first kiss came at their engagement, and their next, after their wedding vows. Was it hard? According to them, crazy hard!

I pray you readers have had an opportunity to witness such a marriage. Perhaps it was your own. If so, you surely appreciated a sense of reverence and knew that you were a spectator to something extraordinary. Honoring God above all else has a way of causing that to happen.

Tyler and Amanda have many common interests. She works in the children’s ministry at church, and he is headed to seminary in North Carolina in the fall. They both ride dirt bikes, golf, line-dance and two-step, adore children and pray together daily.

At the rehearsal, the pastor brought everyone together to instruct us that this wedding would be God-centered and those in attendance would be encouraged to follow in the bride’s and groom’s footsteps and ask Jesus into their hearts. This would be no foo-foo message.

On the wedding day, the four sets of grandparents met at the church 30 minutes before the ceremony started; we were greeted by a scene that silenced our small-talk-ramblings: With heads bowed, the groom and his eight groomsmen huddled in prayer. During the ceremony, the pastor held true to his rehearsal instructions. The entire service was about God being foundational to a great marriage.

The rehearsal was no different. Toasts from the bridesmaids and groomsmen all confirmed what every guest knew: This couple had remained pure and couldn’t wait to spend their lives together honoring Jesus. Even their fun, crazy friends—most of them, actually–recognized something special in this couple. Three of Amanda’s maids-of-honor had known her since pre-school days. Together they had played softball and volleyball, ridden motorcycles, wakeboarded and taken years of dance lessons. Her friends had celebrated when—and yes, I will brag here just a little– she was voted Prom Queen her senior year, the most coveted honor at her high school, but most importantly, that she had grown in her love of the Lord and her desire to honor Him.

The groomsmen had similar stories about Tyler, and following their toasts, his mother spoke. Ever since her youngest son was born, she shared, not a day had gone by that she had not prayed for God to bring a strong Christian woman into his life. She fought tears while sharing that Amanda far surpassed anything she could have chosen.

By then, I had used (or shared) the entire box of Kleenex I had stuffed into my purse. I was not the only one grateful for table napkins.

Like I said, honoring God above all else has a way of causing that to happen.

Next time, I will bring a satchel.

God On Television by Patty LaRoche

God has made a resurgence on television. I first noticed it on one of my favorite singing competitions, American Idol, where this season several contestants shared that their singing roots were in church. Home videos were proof. Many were vocal about their faith and gave God the glory for their abilities. I prayed for them to be the last ones standing.

When Kyla Jade sang the Christian song “How Great Thou Art,” only a few notes into the melody, the live audience erupted in applause. Their standing ovation seemed endless. No one booed or stormed out in protest when God was being celebrated. I had proud goosebumps.

As the contestants were eliminated, five were left. Alone in the green room before their performances, they were free to do whatever they wanted. When they came onto the stage, Ryan Seacrest, the show’s host, questioned how they had spent their time. More spontaneous applause followed their answer: “We were praying.” And so was I, praying that their futures may continue to be testimonies to their love of God.

American Idol was not the only show where faith was expressed. This year’s shortened competition on Dancing With the Stars showed off the talents of athletes. One of them, Jennie Finch, was a softball pitcher (whom I have admired for years). She and her dance partner, Keo Motsepe, had learned the difficult choreography, but a few days before the show’s airing, Finch was convicted the song’s lyrics were not ones she wanted her children to hear. In her words, “I want to glorify God out there, and that just wasn’t a great choice for me to do that.” Motsepe was forced to choose another song and re-choreograph the dance. One of the judges commended Finch for sticking to her convictions. I needed pom poms.

And how about Britain’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markel where God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit were mentioned several times! (Yes, I set my alarm for the opening television coverage.) My prayers were that everyone who watched would be touched by the sacredness of the occasion and want to know more about this holy Trinity.

The same day, when the news stations turned to the live footage following the tragic, Santa Fe, Texas, school shooting, five community leaders spoke. All acknowledged that prayer was the answer. Thank you, Jesus.

More recently we were given first-row television seats to Rosanne Barr’s firing from ABC following the disparaging remarks she Tweeted about Valerie Jarrett (a beautiful woman, in my opinion). The public scorn was fast and furious but ultimately brought Barr to her knees where she Tweeted about her Jewish faith, asking God to help use this “bad experience” to move her to a place where she can help the hopeless.

“These [are] the four steps in repentance: admitting you were wrong, making restitution, asking forgiveness from those u have hurt & at last, cracking open your heart in deep sorrow and remorse, where tears flow.” For Barr, even those comments produced no standing ovations. No one reminded the naysayers we all are sinners and fall short of God’s glory. The skeptics were out in droves, questioning where this faith has been during Barr’s long, public career and praising ABC for acting swiftly. And although I must admit her apology elicited no proud goosebumps for me (perhaps a little judgmental?), of all the television personalities whose faith has been exposed, I think Roseanne Barr needs our prayers the most.

Make The Most of Opportunities By Patty LaRoche

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. (Col. 4:5)

We met in the exercise room. “I’ll only be in here two minutes,” she said as a way of introduction. Two became twenty, during which time I learned the following:

  • She is divorced from an abusive man who pays her only $600 a month in alimony. Her attorneys took most of her life savings.
  • She has fibromyalgia and has battled Lyme’s disease for 20 years.
  • She has been in three car accidents.
  • Her siblings all say she is a hypochondriac.
  • Some of the doctors she has seen have been really mean, especially her urologist.
  • The house she put a bid on won’t be ready for three weeks, all of her possessions are in five storage bins, and that’s what led her to stay in the same 2-Star motel as I am. (Read last week’s article.) She is not happy here for several reasons.
  • Feral cats live by the dumpster and someone feeds them.
  • Geese, which are a protected species but should not be, leave their feces everywhere around the motel.
  • Her room is filthy and filled with cockroaches. (I have seen only one.)
  • The people above her have children who bounce off the bed.
  • Last night she was awakened by a woman screaming. It was “really hard” to go back to sleep.
  • Her previous apartment had mold.
  • Her Labrador/best friend returned neurotic from a week at dog obedience school, refusing to mind and jumping on people. Not what she expected for $1500.00, and since there is so much geese/feral cat feces and people-litter around this motel, she has difficulty finding a place to get him some exercise.
  • She has gained twelve pounds, has a muffin-top, and her hair is falling out.

Twice I interjected some thoughts, like how I probably would have alerted the desk about the screaming and surely there are some dog parks nearby. She ignored the first suggestion and spent five minutes explaining how, in her condition, it is difficult to navigate the dog park.

From that point on, I vowed to keep my thoughts to myself.

Then, looking at her watch, she said she had to scoot because she had a fibro-myalgia massage scheduled but maybe I could go out with her this weekend to a fun bar or movie.

Rats!” I answered insincerely. “In two days my husband and I will be relocating to the other side of Jacksonville.” She seemed disappointed and said she hoped we could get together sometime.

Lord, please, NOOOOOOOOOOOO! I said to myself.

As a Christian, I know God wastes no opportunities. Pastor Andy Stanley once wrote, “We don’t need to pray for more miracles, we just need to be more sensitive to the opportunities that God brings our way.” Do I believe God had a reason for Ms. Chatterbox and me meeting? Yes. Maybe to tell her Jesus is the answer or maybe just to be a listening ear or maybe to hear someone complain non-stop so I know what I sometimes sound like to God. No doubt to pray for her.

In actuality, I did all of the above…well, except for telling her Jesus is the answer. For that one, as I had vowed, I kept my thoughts to myself.

And with that opportunity, I failed her the greatest.