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Showing posts from 2012

Marked For Protection

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On a Recent 60 MinutesSpecial entitled "The Race to Save the Tortoise", reporters searched for the world's most endangered tortoise, the Ploughshare. 

After a gruelingly long hike on the deserted beach of Madagascar, they finally came upon one peacefully basking in the scorching sun. Asian countries love gold, and this is a gold tortoise with a high price on it's head. It is poached and sold for upwards of $60,000.00 on the black market.

 In a desperate effort to save the rare beauty's life, one man gently lifted it from it's comfortable position and began feverishly carving into it's beautiful shell, scarring it forever. The poachers would now pass over it because it was completely devalued.

The story reminded me of the very first murder ever committed. Fueled with jealousy, Cain coaxed his brother Abel into a field where he brutally murdered him. According to the Biblical record, God punished Cain by casting him from His presence, sentencing him to wander …

A Captain's Tale

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Do you remember a great old song by Kansas called Point of No Return? The lyrics have some profound meaning when you think about it:

They say the sea turns so dark that
You know it's time, you see the sign
They say the point demons guard is
An ocean grave, for all the brave,
Was it you that said, "How long, how long,
How long to the point of no return?"


I will confess right now that I've never sailed. Yet I've always been very intrigued by the mysteries hidden in ocean depths. I imagine the stories of captains who have seen the unexplainable and felt the darkness with the eerie sound of the whales splashing nearby and the brilliant stars blinking against the black sky during the night watches.

We all have ships that sail, figuratively speaking. We all experience the waves of doubt, fear, anger, confusion, and at times the solitude of contentment when our ocean is calm like blue glass. Then we rest. For me, the irony is that the same One Who controls the waves is…

Soarin'

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If you’ve ever been to Disney’s California Adventure or Epcot in Orlando, you may be familiar with a virtual hang gliding attraction called “Soarin’”. If you haven’t, let me tell you it is completely captivating. Surrounded by legendary sights in 3D, it literally engages all senses. While flying over the Golden Gate Bridge, Redwood Forest, Sierras, acres of orange groves and then sharing air space with fighter jets, one is placed in the center of  sounds, smells, and vivid photographic images. The illusion is so stunning it’s difficult to describe.

In addition to the sensation of being airborne, what I found so exhilarating was the feeling of freedom. Which begs the question: what exactly is “freedom”? Is it a feeling or state of mind? Or is it a feeling resulting from a state of mind? Can we feel free when in actuality we are not? If the opposite of freedom is bondage, then whatever holds us in bondage prevents us from being free. What about individuals who deny the existence of thei…

Emboldened

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At a recent Women’s Vision Foundation forum, one of the speakers was Brené Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection. She talked about how much courage it takes to become vulnerable; to connect with others, allowing them to show patience, understanding and compassion or a lack thereof.

A scene came into my mind when she challenged us to “step into the arena”. In the movie, Gladiator, Maximus Decimus Meridius and his cohorts (who were recruited criminals, slaves, fugitives, and prisoners of war) stand behind an iron gate, about to enter the gladiator games where they will either defeat their opponents or die a violent death to the sheer delight of the blood thirsty crowd. In this scene, the man standing in front of Maximus is so frightened that he urinates down his leg. Duly noted, Maximus quietly takes one step backward. Here we see the contrast between a trained, fearless military commander who sees victory waiting and an individual shaking in terror, seeing his life flash before hi…

HOBO

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John was a HOBO Volunteer. He trained homeless Boxers (canines) to be "more adoptable" through obedience. You see, boxers are a curious breed. Most people don't realize that they will clear a four foot chain link fence because of an innate need to explore. According to John, they typically have problems hearing and are either born deaf or eventually go deaf, necessitating hand commands. The breed was actually used by the military before German Shepherds. Because they are extremely dedicated, the trainer becomes their "parent". Their downfall: because of loyalty, they suffer abandonment issues and have been known to starve themselves to death when given over to the new owner. Upon this discovery, the military switched over to German Shepherds, who can transfer that devotion over to their new handler.

Specific to certain breeds are certain dispositions, and people who don't understand dogs shouldn't own them. Australian Shepherds, for instance, are bred to…

The Golden Scepter

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Last August, I joined my cousins for a tour of the Rembrandt exhibit at the Art Museum in Minneapolis.

As the tour guide took us from painting to painting, she went to great lengths explaining how to recognize an authentic Rembrandt painting from those created by his students who worked his studio under his tutelage. By the time the tour had ended, we were able to identify the difference in style, technique, lighting, shadows, angles, and color pallets.

The painting which most caught my attention depicted the Old Testament story of Esther. Rembrandt had captured the attitudes of Queen Esther and her Uncle Mordecai as they boldly exposed the wicked conspiracy of Hamen to annihilate the entire Jewish race. King Xerxes is glaring at Hamen, (in whom he had trusted all matters of the kingdom), with both anger and disbelief. Hamen is painted with darker hues while Esther is painted with a much brighter pallet, giving her the appearance of a fair complexioned redhead. 

As a side-note, I have t…

In Our Image

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As a graphic designer, the goal when creating logos for my clients is to reflect their business identity with something simple but eye-catching and memorable. Color is not as critical as shape. Once that brand is solidified, it must be strategically placed for the target audience. Obviously, the more it's seen, the bigger the likelihood of it being called to mind when needed. The best logo design has no affect if not well marketed.

The Greek term "logos" (λόγος), is translated "word" but this meaning gradually extended to include other concepts such as speek, thought, reason, principle and logic. When the Hebrew Scriptures were translated to Greek (the Septuagint), this word was used for the Word of God in creation of heaven (Psalm 33:6). In the New Testament, the Apostle John used it repeatedly to describe Jesus: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were ma…

Easy Does It

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It's amazing to me how much God teaches me when I slow down long enough to listen.

This morning I am "hanging out" in the airport after missing my flight and being rescheduled. People are racing in every direction, each with an agenda more important than the next guy's. Some are headed for vacation, others headed for business. After going through a pack of gum in about 5 minutes, I'm reminded that I will get to my destination eventually and tomorrow everything will be back to normal when I arrive at the office.

In the meantime, what good will it do to tie myself in knots? I can't change much at this point but I can make the best of it.

Is there someone God wants me to meet today? Is there someone needing encouragement or a listening ear? Or maybe just a smile? I want to be available to Him, ready to be used wherever and whenever He wills . After all, I am not my own but I've been bought with a price.

Whether at work or play, may we who belong to Him always be…

Fireworks and Freedom

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Thanks to the ingenuity of our Chinese friends, we here in the US celebrate our independence today with massive displays of colorful fireworks.

Every year we sing our national anthem and enjoy the vibrant patterns created by "bombs bursting in air," I remind myself that most bombs are deadly, not beautiful like the fireworks display. Although both use similar ingredients, one is intended to kill; the other to entertain. In this metaphor we see an example of how something can be used for both good and evil. In the hands of capable, careful, and caring people, something dangerous becomes glorious. But the opposite is also true.

Freedom - the very thing we celebrate with fireworks - can also be used for good or evil. As a believer in Christ, I am free from the restrictive Mosaic law, but the Bible warns us not to use that spiritual freedom for selfish purposes. "Do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" Galatians 5:13.

Not ev…

Lessons Learned

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Over the past thirty one years, I’ve worked for four successful high tech corporations. One thing they all have in common is a review process called “Lessons Learned” whereby the team who worked on a given project gathers data and meets to discuss what went well and what failed. This is a proven preventative measure to eliminate making the same mistakes again as well as to implement whatever contributed to the success of that product in future endeavors.

I was convicted today during my reading of the Scriptures that I lack such a preventive measure in my personal life. Of course, I was eating lunch at the time and as usual, the Lord used that opportunity knowing it would sink in if He applied it to food (those who can’t relate, please bear with me). I have read through countless diets. I have even committed to follow several of them with the best intentions. Yet I am angry when my clothes don’t fit (as some unfortunate individuals who have fallen victim to my ranting in the dressing roo…

Here's Your Change

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There's been a lot of talk about "change" in our country lately. We together acknowledged our need for change by voting into presidency "The One" (according to Oprah) who promised to bring it for us. We cast our votes of trust with the assumption that not only would he deliver on that promise, but that those changes would be for our good.

But to whom do we turn for a change of heart? No president or leader can touch that. Is there someone who not only makes such a promise, but has a tried and proved record? After all, most of our issues are admittedly rooted in that place, where politics are more the result of those issues rather than the cause. We talk about war on terrorism. But what exactly is terrorism? Is it not an act stemming from anger, fear, or distrust? Aren't those attitudes which often result in rebellion? 

Jesus Christ dwelt among us as a man Who understood and reached into the hearts of those who trusted Him. He hasn't changed. But through H…

Woman of Influence

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Today mothers everywhere are being recognized and appreciated. Rightly so. I awoke with thoughts of my own mother. My birth mother placed me up for adoption, and God graciously placed me in the hands of a virtuous woman whose strength and perseverance I admired not only in her life, but in her death. 

My mother was extremely hard working. Her parents pulled her out of school in the seventh grade to help on the farm. That didn't phase her. She continued to educate herself by reading encyclopedias, becoming one of the most intelligent women I've ever known. And she made my sister and I learn the same way. She was an amazing seamstress, and made all of our clothes. Our home was never dirty - she cleaned and taught us responsibility, pride of homemaking, how to cook and clean. She gave to the poor even though we had so little ourselves. She was kind to everyone - family, friends and strangers alike.
She was always well kept, dignified and classy. Even when fearful, she held her head…

Super Imposing

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As a Graphic Designer, a common challenge is to make objects appear into a scene to make it look as if something is there which isn't - basically, fooling the eye. The best designers make the "superimposed" image look so natural that at first glance it's not even questioned (the antithesis can be seen in tabloids).

I strive to achieve this affect not only in my career but in my personal life. If I can convince others that I'm stress-free and content on the outside, they'll not question what's really going on "behind the curtain". It's all an illusion. Smoke and mirrors. Tricks of the trade include smile, makeup, hair style. The right combination goes a long way in the facade.

That is, until I come face to face with my God. There's no fooling Him. We can sew together the fig leaves and make them as big and beautiful as we want but He goes straight to the source. We read in 1 Samuel "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord loo…

To Die For

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Last night I began the preparations which continued into today, Easter Sunday. My daughter and her boyfriend are coming over for dinner this evening. I have triple checked everything five times. What does that even equal? The main dish, the side dishes, the salad, the dessert, the bread. The table is set. I've never been on time for anything (as my friends can testify), yet everything is ready and waiting over an hour early - and I have time to blog. As soon as my invitation was accepted I began planning. My heart is bursting with excitement to have them over and the meal is a very small token of my love. I've prepared this Easter dinner and done all I can to make it special, but it doesn't even touch the banquet that awaits us. Who am I to sit at that table, to partake of His love? His answer: "did your children have to earn the love that overflows in you? Did they do something special that made you feel this way? Or is it simply because they are yours?"

Jesus to…

Thrilling Me Softly

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This Valentine's Day happened to fall during a week of disappointment for me. I was struggling with life in general when notified of the passing of my dear uncle. This added momentum to the already downward spiral.
In the workplace, however, I noticed that it was impossible to wish others "happy Valentine's Day" without smiling. Likewise, even my normally introverted co-workers were talking and laughing more than usual. Chocolates, flowers, cards, and music contributed to the warm and fuzzy feelings, giving the delusion that the world was as it should be, if even for a day.
I came home that evening wondering what it would be like if we had "on demand" love notes sent to us. Like a phone app or something. A never-ending stream of personalized valentines. Would our attitudes change for the better if we had such a thing? Would our confidence increase on a steady diet of encouragement? Or would we take it for granted, eventually losing the meaning altogether? Obv…

Let Loose!

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About three years ago, a wise woman said, "Consistent Time and Effort Produce Results". She was strong and healthy, pushing herself on the last mile of a six mile run. She realized that anything she set her mind to do, if done consistently - could be accomplished. It was about determination and will, endurance and confidence. It became her mantra and she posted it proudly on her office wall, knowing that it was a truth to live by not just physically, but with her work, studies, prayers, even sleep - everything would be in harmony by never giving up.

Now fast forward. Having just returned from the gym, I sit at my desk staring at that poster. Yes, that "wise" woman was me. It's evening now and while on the treadmill (conveniently located in front of the window), I could see my reflection. Within the last three years I've gotten divorced, been estranged from my children, and gained thirty pounds. "What the hell happened to you?" I scolded the reflect…

Conduct Unbecoming

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A good friend who read my last blog Shaking Like a Leaf made a valuable comment that I will never forget. He noted that those leaves which hold on, afraid to fall - are dead. And they must, in fact, let go. Resistance is futile. He then pointed out that although I may feel "dead" at times, I have been grafted into the Tree of Life and must never lose hope. No matter what emotions rage within, the truth remains that I am alive! There is no need to fear and no need to let go. This friend also sees me as an angel with a broken wing on the mend. Although I am no angel, his point is well taken. I am "on the mend".

Another friend who received my recent Christmas letter in which I lamented my age, among other things, candidly commented, "dude, that letter was depressing!" 

Thank God for my honest, loving, caring, valuable friends who will speak the truth in love!

I am determined  by God's grace, to achieve my 2012 New Year's Resolution: to live the life of …

Shaking Like A Leaf

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The heavy early Colorado snow storms always damage our trees. The leaves are not quite off when the storm hits and the weight is just too much. The streets are lined with broken branches as drivers dodge through the obstacle courses and city workers try feverishly to clear the way. 

I looked out the window and noticed even still, the day after Thanksgiving, there are a few stubborn leaves desperately hanging on for dear life. When the wind comes up, they shake before finally letting go and fluttering to the ground. But in doing so, they relieve the trees for the next storm.

I sometimes I hold on to things with a fear of letting go, even though I know that if I would just take the risk of falling, it would relieve others of heavy burden. I may be shaking like a leaf - but God, give me the courage to let go of things that are better off without me.

"So hold me, Jesus, cuz I'm shaking like a leaf.
You have been King of my glory, won't You be my Prince of Peace?"   - Rich Mu…

Body Parts

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Today I turned 50 and can I just say that it feels like my body is falling apart? Places hurt for no apparent reason and demand my attention no matter how hard I try to ignore it.

Two weeks ago, I stubbed my left pinky toe (actually I think I broke it). Suddenly that tiny little extremity took total control of the rest of my body. It turned a fantastic shade of purple and blew up like a little balloon. It still screams the minute I stick it in a shoe. I limp around all day, then favor and pamper it at night. Meanwhile, it dictates when I work out (or not) so basically gets priority over all other parts because it's hurting!

The Scriptures call those who belong to Jesus Christ the "body" of Christ, while Jesus Himself is referred to as the "Head". The Apostle Paul uses this analogy to explain the importance of each member of the body, regardless of how insignificant some of us may seem. There are people who quietly serve the other members of the body basically unn…

Full Plate

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After going through the ala cart smorgasbord in the café, I arrived at the cash register with my heaping plate of food where it was placed on a scale. Not only were my eyes bigger than my stomach, but bigger than my pocketbook. The cashier held out her hand, smiling patiently. Embarrassed, I began dumping out the lint, paperclips, and wrappers from my pockets for the world to see, as the line grew and I heard an audible sigh directly behind me.
Finally, back at my desk to begin my “working lunch”, I went into my ever familiar overwhelmed mode when my auto reminder popped up with the meeting in 10 minutes. I instantly felt another hot flash coming on. Not wanting to walk into the meeting dripping with sweat, I scrambled to find my little battery operated hand held fan. “I’ve got too much on my plate!” I thought.

During the meeting, the color coded action item list was handed out and the woman next to me leaned over said, “who signed you up for all of this?” I rolled my eyes and whispere…

Boundaries

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The Colorado air is growing colder and the leaves are turning their familiar gold color, signaling the beginning of fall. Standing before a large, 5 foot square fire pit, I noticed how children played all around it without a care in the world, intuitively knowing they were protected by the rot iron fence. Mesmerized by the flames, I thought about how that fence created not only a sense of safety for them, but comfort and warmth for me.

During a recent trip to the zoo with a friend, in the reptile area, there was an extremely large boa constrictor coiled up against wall of its cage. A tiny girl bounced up next to me and calmly placed her hand on the glass. Her Daddy smiled and said, "he's almost as big as you are!" I immediately thought about how quickly he could devour her as a tasty appetizer. That glass represented the same feeling of safety as the fence around the fire.

Imagine the utter hysteria of both scenes without the rot iron fencing and the glass boundaries. I w…

Sense of Direction

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I recently heard an interesting statistic about people who use GPS systems in their automobile. A survey revealed that on average, most people prefer a male voice rather than that of a female. The general consensus was that the male voice was more authoritative and people tended to trust it more.
Ironically, a friend of mine told me about a time when she was driving to an unfamiliar destination when her elderly mother began arguing with her GPS (affectionately named “Bruce”). “Mom got so irritated with him, saying ‘I don’t know why he told you to turn there, he’s just wrong!’” my friend laughed. She went on to tell me how she couldn’t even hear what Bruce was saying because her mother was arguing with him so loudly. Finally, she said, “okay, Mom, you win. I will turn Bruce off and go wherever you think is right.” Of course, they ended up completely lost.
The Holy Spirit (also known as the conscience) is our built-in GPS. Question is - do we trust Him enough to follow His direction or d…

Come As You Are

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"I'm going to be a grandma!" Pam was more excited than I'd ever seen her when she told me of her daughter's pregnancy. She described every detail of the nursery, right down to the trim. Every color was carefully selected and walls are carefully painted to match the butterfly decor. Frilly dresses are already hanging in the closet and color coordinated blankets are folded neatly on the dresser as family and friends wait anxiously for the baby's arrival. She will soon be welcomed to a place prepared special just for her.

Who doesn't love coming to a place where we're accepted exactly for who we are? No judging, no expectations. I'm reminded of that 80's sitcomm Cheers' theme song. Sadly, many of us feel more welcome in a bar, (the setting of this TV series) - than anywhere else we can find. There's a reason why this program was so successful:

Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you've got;
Taking a break from all your w…