I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, February 20, 2017

Exploring the Concept of Beauty

I’ve been thinking about the concept of “beauty” lately. In some ways, our society is obsessed with it, and I don’t think I need to go into detail since we see that obsession every day in many ways.

But it wasn’t our society’s concept of what’s pretty and what’s not that made me stop and think about beauty. It was the splendor that I see in God’s creation. You can see it in flowers, trees, and cute little doggies.

But if you follow me on Facebook, you know I’m currently fascinated with sunsets. I post pictures like this.  

And more like this.

Each one is unique, and most days I watch for the sunset and run for my camera if there’s a pretty one.

So it started me thinking about God’s thoughts about beauty. What does he say?

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”  So all beauty comes from Him.

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news.”  That one made me smile because I usually don’t take pictures of feet.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls.” My mother gave me a strand of her pearls, so I do agree that they are gorgeous.

“Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!” I had to think for a while about that verse because when I think of God’s holiness, beauty isn’t what first comes to my mind. But when I thought about it, the truly ugly things in this world do come from sin: brutality, jealously, greed, etc. So, indeed, the holiness of the Lord is beautiful.

One thing I’ve noticed about the sunsets: the most spectacular ones have clouds. Maybe there’s a lesson here too. When God allows some emotionally cloudy days in our lives, maybe He’s going to also allow His light to reflect from those clouds and send another display of His glory into the life of someone. 

So I’m will continue watching the sky in the evenings and will run for my camera when God lights up the sky.

One last thing I’ve noticed. Every time I scurry outdoors to take a picture of the sunset, my doggie, Titus, goes with me. But he never looks up at the sunset.

Think about that one.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day - Finding a Perfect Life Mate, Part 2

 Delores E. Topliff
For Part 2 of finding a perfect life mate, I’ll introduce you to my Uncle Johnny. As a kid, I found him fascinating. He collected all kinds and shapes of polished agates, had countless records of bird songs, stacks of National Geographics, and a few statues of naked alabaster ladies. Everything he displayed in his home was interesting, but he had not found a life mate. (I do wonder what the ideal candidate might have looked like). He joined a Lonely Hearts Club, and exchanged letters and photos with a promising candidate years before online connections were available. He boarded and rode the train from Washington State to New York City for days to meet her. She had told him the color of the coat and the hat she would be wearing as she stood at the platform where his train would pull in. Family legend says she was there, he saw her, but he did not get off the train. I do not know if she did not match her photo well enough. Or he got cold feet about pursuing a relationship, but he stayed on that train as it reversed direction and returned all the way to Washington State. I wish that story had a happier ending—I have imagined many alternate scenarios.
I knew an attractive 6’ tall young woman in remote northern Alaska who was encouraged to be patient, that God had a special someone for her, and would send him in time in answer to her prayer. With few prospects around, she said, “God would have to drop him from the sky.” That next summer when they had a forest fire, a handsome 6’ plus smokejumper floated down using their camp as a base. After his crew put out the forest fire, he began a blaze with that young lady, and they’ve kept their home fires burning ever since.
There are as many fascinating ways for people to get together as there are people. Please share your favorite story or suggestions for connecting. And Happy Valentine’s Day. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

It's Almost Valentine's Day - Finding A Perfect Life Mate, Part 1

Delores E. Topliff
             With Valentine’s Day soon here, it’s time for practical advice on love and romance. In our day when TV reality shows like The Bachelor earn top ratings, and library shelves are overloaded with books on relationship building and successfully choosing life mates, everyone hopes to find gold at the end of our rainbow, and not just the pot.
Success stories range from the luck of the draw, to being in the right place at the right time, or knowing a neighbor or best friend from childhood to grow into love with. Others meet someone who sweeps them their feet (sometimes literally), or who saves their life from fire or accident or drowning. Some survive a car or airplane crash together and know they are destined to be together.
Should we team up with someone similar? Or opposite? Someone who completes us? Or mirrors us so very few adjustments are needed? Few of us are experts, but here is one tip and story worth remembering.
In church youth group, grown-ups gave tips on various life skills. My favorite was the happily married dentist who shared how he found his life mate. “I had a long list of what I wanted in a girl,” he said. “I wouldn’t date her unless she had enough of those qualities to come close, and after I got home from a date, I sat down and ticked off the boxes. I was making progress in narrowing down the field when I met Marilyn.” Here he glanced at his wife of some years. “I came home from my first date with her and threw away the list. I didn’t need it anymore, and I got serious about our relationship.” That sounds like a success story to me.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week, but think about your favorite advice to meet someone. Do all the details need to fit together  just right? Or would he or she stand out in the midst of a field of rubble as if under Hollywood lights? Share the best story you know.