Archive for April, 2011

Monday’s Musings

A father and two sons lingered around the cutting board cleaning their twelve-inch trout caught off of a local pier. It was the Saturday before Easter. Tourists often flock around our charter boat at the end of the day, especially around the holidays. Mostly to check out my husband Tom’s catch. But this young family didn’t care about our catch, they beamed at theirs. I conversed easily with them while the father worked.

“Happy Easter!” I wished them as they walked away.

The man gave me a peculiar look. “Actually, this is the first year we’ve celebrated Easter. You see, we are Jewish. But last summer I began to research and examine the claims of Jesus, and well,…I converted.” He stated this as if he just discovered it for himself.

“Praise the Lord!” came automatically from my lips. We talked a while longer. I mentioned that I just finished the book, “The Case for Easter,” by Lee Strobel. The young father mentioned a few books he read and a Christian website he followed. I informed him of the standard ‘He is risen—He is risen indeed,’ greeting. True fellowship.

Before leaving, he looked at me and said, “It really is a miracle, isn’t it?” His face glowed.

Growing up in the church, I looked forward to Easter. First, there was the basket. Then I graduated from the basket to a new dress. (Although I always kept the basket.) The Sunrise Service was a favorite of mine. And in The Salvation Army, we shared Easter breakfast together. After that, we filed into the sanctuary to hear good music, and a rich sermon. A busy, happy day.

When I was young, the church service was the least important to me. As I’ve grown older, supplied Easter baskets and some new clothes to my kids, I tend to take the whole season for granted. It seems to sneak up on me.

I don’t think that is a ‘good thing,’ it just seemed to be a ‘life thing.’ So this year, my goal to finish Strobel’s book before Easter seemed to be a worthy one.

It was a blessing. I took much needed time to meditate on the cross. But maybe for the first time I began to get a better grasp on the resurrection and what it means to Christians. That can’t be overstated. A mere ‘awesome’ doesn’t begin to cover it.

When two friends bury two sons in two weeks, the resurrection takes on personal significance. It becomes real. Palpable. Immense.

Not just something we celebrate, but something we believe. A belief that we base our lives on. As it should be.

It really is a miracle, isn’t it?

Monday’s Musings

I huffed at level nine on the elliptical machine. The ex-NFL, personal trainer stood next to me. I continued our conversation as I breathed in and out. “It’s like this, if we were standing on Clearwater Beach and decided to see who could swim to Texas, you might get a little farther than I would, but neither of us would make it. That is the same with earning our way to heaven. No one can make it.”

“Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount that if a man lusts in his heart, he’s committed that sin in God’s eyes. If he has an angry thought, he’s guilty of murder. We’re born in sin.”

Zack nodded.

“We need to be prepared. We will either meet Jesus with open arms, or we will meet Him as the righteous judge.” I wiped my face with the edge of my damp shirt. The machine-made elliptical hill grew steeper.

” Just this week my good friend from college found her 17-year-old son dead.” He looked shocked. I continued.

“I can’t imagine what that is like. As horrible as that must have been, she knew that her son was in heaven because he trusted Christ for his salvation.”

“If God is calling you, don’t put it off. You don’t know when your time on earth is up.”

Zack looked pensive. “Maybe I should spend more time talking to you while you do cardio.”

We laughed.

My gym time finished. I retrieved some information about eternal life for my new friend. I didn’t put off getting the Good News to him, because if he doesn’t believe the Good News of Jesus, he will have horrific news when he dies.

Then it will be too late.

There’s been a lot of good news-bad news lately. Within the last four weeks, I’ve been to three weddings and about the same number of funerals. I put my senior-citizen-dog down. Celebrated my birthday and remembered my dad’s birthday, even though he’s been in heaven three years now.

I just finished studying the book of Ecclesiastes. Not exactly a book that brings great comfort. It was written by the richest and wisest man that ever lived. He tried everything. And I mean everything. And he had the resources to do it. Yet, he describes almost everything as ‘futile, striving after wind.’

He does say that there are seasons to our lives and they will be mixtures of both joy and pain. Joy in the birth of a baby. Pain in sickness. Celebration at a wedding. Weeping at a funeral.

We’ve all experienced those—are experiencing those.

But his conclusion is astonishing. “The conclusion, when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, whether it is good or evil.” Ec. 12: 13, 14.

We never know what a day may bring. But we can count on an eternal reckoning. We can also count on the Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is what we are celebrating this week. His death and resurrection. Life and death.

Be ready.


Years ago, I asked a local newspaper editor that I wrote for to write a letter of recommendation for me. He wrote, “When you read Pauline’s writing, you feel as if you are sitting down with her and sharing a cup of coffee.”

I strive for that. Today for our ‘chat,’ I’m going to tell you something that is not easy to say. I get depressed. Sometimes for long periods of time. And there is no real reason for it.

I’m confiding in you, because I believe that you might have some of the same struggles. If you are a woman, you probably do. If you are over 50, it’s almost inevitable. I thought a lot about that this weekend. I won’t bore you with what discouraged me, I’m just going to tell you what I’ve figured out and what others have figured out for me. Because maybe it will help.

The first reason I think I struggle with despondency is I’m too ‘me centered.’ By that, I mean that I wonder why my husband doesn’t always just say the right thing, or my son doesn’t treat me exactly the way I think he should. Reasoning that my friends should know how down I am, I wonder why they don’t know and reach out to me. But by the time I’ve arrived there, I really don’t care.

And it’s not that husbands shouldn’t love their wives like Christ loved the church, it’s just that I expect my husband to be Christ, and well,…he isn’t. It’s not that my son shouldn’t honor his mother, even when I’m not so honorable,…but he doesn’t always do that.

Bottom line is that my attitude is sinful and my expectations are unreasonable. Still, I fall into despair.

Another reason I am depressed is physical. I need regular exercise, good nutrition, and a healthy body to stay balanced. Too much caffeine, not enough sleep, and a hectic schedule almost assure me of melancholy. Plus, I’m over 50. My body is changing. I need to accept that and push forward. But, I don’t want to push. I want to just lie down and give up.

A third reason I fall into that pit is sin. Another way to put that is disobedience. When I choose my own way, do what I want to do without asking God, without seeking His guidance, without obeying, that leads me to despair.

I think that was part of it these last few weeks. I was desperate. I called out to God and in the middle of the night and I had an epiphany. (I’m not sure that is the right word—you tell me.) There was one particular area of my life in which I’d compromised. It affected my fellowship with God. And when you’ve had great fellowship with Him, when that fellowship is severed or shadowed—it stinks.

When I studied the life of Moses in Bible Study Fellowship, my big takeaway was that obedience brings blessing, and disobedience brings discipline. I don’t want Him to discipline me. I need to obey.

Another thing the Lord pointed out was that I try to figure God out too much. I think I should understand all that He does and doesn’t do. And then I think I should tell Him how to run the universe. As I write this I know how foolish that sounds, but I wondered if maybe just writing it might make you think that perhaps in a roundabout way, you think that, too.

I also think God made me this way. I am a writer. A communicator. When something bothers me, or encourages me, or makes me laugh, I write about it. And when I write about it, it might make you feel or think or laugh and we can both learn or laugh together. But that is no excuse to wallow in self-pity. That is just wrong. And it doesn’t help.

John Piper believes that all sin stems from unbelief. I’m beginning to believe him. He states in his book, “Battling Unbelief,” that despondency will come. He cites many examples of it throughout Scripture. He said despair is like the alarms sounding for an air raid. Those feelings will come, but we must battle them. Prepare for them. Have our hiding place ready.

And that hiding place is the Word of God. Really believing that it is true and counting on that here on earth. Like Paul did in prison. Like Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. Like David did in the 23rd Psalm.

Because when we run to Him like David did in the Psalms, He restores our soul. Not when we look to our spouses or children or friends or homes or alcohol or vacations. That is earth’s junk food.

Jesus said to the woman at the well, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

So, today, I’m sipping. I’m clinging. I’m resting. And He is restoring my soul.


Three hundred women raised their voices and sang the classic hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Three hundred lives. Three hundred families represented. Three hundred souls lifting their voices in praise to God Almighty. I marveled.

Sometimes like Elijah (who ran away to pout in a cave), I think I am alone when I face the world. I believe I’m the only one who cares about God’s Word. Who loves His law. Who is in love with His Son. And then, I traipse into a local church to attend Bible Study Fellowship with three hundred women and I am reminded that God is at work everywhere.

The first few years I attended BSF, I laughed at the idea of the word ‘fellowship,’ in the BSF acronym. We arrive at 6:55 and exited at 8:45. There is a designated amount of minutes allowed for group time and prayer. I never had much time for fellowship. I see now that my idea of fellowship was skewed.

I thought food and football might be necessary for fellowship. It’s definitely a plus in my book, but not necessary. Not even important. What is important is the sharing of scripture and loving the Savior. When I meet with these women from all walks of life, that is what we celebrate. That is our goal.

At Christmas, my graduate-school daughter brought home a young man named David. I liked him. Before he left he said, “My mom wanted me to give you our Christmas letter but I forgot.” He brought it up on the computer and when I read it, I felt kinship for a woman I’d never met. She shared her heart and her love for the Lord. Becky mentioned that she attended Bible Study Fellowship. Although five hours away, we attend a study that teaches us about the God of Isaiah who is faithful to an obstinate people, who judges rebellion and sin, and who loves wicked sinners like me. Recently, Becky and I met over dessert. We enjoyed our time together, but my heart joined hers at Christmas.

Last week we hosted a young couple and their friends who shared a DVD from their mission trip to Nigeria. Contemporary music played while pictures of a an unknown people spread across the screen like unique flowers. Crying, I watched as several hundred orphans sang, “I Surrender All.” They live at the Voice of the Martyr orphanage because one or both of their Christian parents were killed by Muslim extremists. These children understood that song.

After the DVD, nine of us, including my 90-year-old mama, prayed. We prayed for those children. We pleaded for lost souls. Our hearts joined in fellowship—not football. It was sweet.

This reminds me of a Scripture and song that describes our future fellowship. Revelation 5: 9, 10 states, “And they sang a new song, saying ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom of priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.’”

As I picture how that will play out in heaven with my finite mind, I can’t help but think that I might be singing, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” with a few women from my study, along with David’s mother. We might even move to, “I Surrender All,” with a few hundred children and their parents.

I can’t wait for that fellowship.