Friday, December 23, 2011

God's Intervention

Dec 23 God’s Intervention

Have you seen the YouTube video …when dancers or singers step out of a crowd and perform in the park or a train station or on the street? I am captivated by this phenom, happening world-wide and described by a performance group at Central Station in Stockholm as, “A short fun event to create presence in the moment and with other people, having fun, creating happiness.” I’ve seen Handel’s Halleluiah Chorus and 1950’s dancing, with sometimes hundreds of performers who simply show up for the fun of it!

It’s a planned intervention. Folks are coming and going. Minding their own business in a world worried about wages, wondering about tomorrow, about this possibility and the latest tragedy. Then, out of nowhere, comes music and some in the crowd begin to dance and sing and draw together in routines until it’s obvious, this is a PLAN! Dancing in Union Station or at the Denver airport or on the street, STOPS people in their tracks, whisks them away, lifts them out of their troubles for a few minutes. It’s a power break that puts a spring in their step. Reactions vary from wide-eyed wonder to tapping feet and swaying bodies! People turn to strangers and point and comment as they take pictures.

Maybe I find this so enchanting because it takes me back to the Christmas I wanted my children to experience giving without getting. I took my 5,6, 9 and 11 year old Suzuki violinists, dressed in their Christmas best, to play for a few shut-ins. We headed for Anita Kubant’s upstairs apartment, in a U shaped building with an upstairs deck and railing and a courtyard below. I’d arranged with Anita’s caregiver to open her door so we could surprise her. My last minute reminder to the kids that true giving from a loving heart expects nothing in return, seemed to sink in as we approached the building.

The door opened to a small space. No problem, we stood outside and played a 10-minute repertoire. The three girls watched my conducting, but my son, Brooks, while on the correct notes, was looking at a moving object I caught out of the corner of my eye. Whenever he would look back at me, the fluttering would resume and I’d lose him again! After recital bows, I turned to face a smiling audience of residents lining the balcony. A man waving paper money had caught Brooks’ attention!

On all of our minds was the mantra, “something for nothing!” As the children walked past the clapping adults, I heard the moneyman’s plaintiff, “Please, I WANT you to have this. You’ve brought us such a wonderful Christmas tonight!” I quickly realized that to ignore his heartfelt response could be hurtful. I thanked him and said it would go to the Christ-child. Brooks was all eyes!

With instruments tucked back in their cases, we drove to the next “something for nothing” opportunity. We decided to give 90% of the man’s money to the children’s Christmas Eve service and spend 10% on the instrumentalists. It wasn’t the lesson I’d planned, but then some of life’s best lessons aren’t!

The next performance that evening was at the house of Augusta, an elderly woman who was literally “into” the bells and whistles of Christmas. She had more blinking lights in her windows and front room than you could take in without doing brain damage! And what didn’t blink, whistled, sang or popped out of a box or nest. She was delighted to show off her collection. The kids were wide-eyed over it, except for the youngest who jumped every time a new gadget rolled across the floor or ceiling. This performance lasted only 5 minutes and we were on our way, but not before Augusta disappeared and reappeared with a wrapped box. Same thing…we HAD to take it or she would have melted or maybe it would have been lights out, I’m not sure. We buckled up and opened a re-gifted box of chocolates. And most of them were still in there!

What SWEET things happen when you give something and expect nothing!
My planned intervention with little ones playing violins wasn’t of the same caliber as the YouTube variety around the world, but it made a lovely difference in people’s lives, for a few moments anyway.

Let’s consider another kind of intervention. A HEAVENLY one. What if angels appeared in Union Station or the Mall singing and then said, “Don’t Be Afraid. We bring you Good News of great JOY that will be for all the people. In the City of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2: 10,11 Would people stop in their tracks, take pictures? Would smiles replace frowns? Would it be as described at the Stockholm surprise dance in the station…an event to create a presence, to create happiness?

Well, actually, a planned intervention 2,000 years ago DID bring an overwhelming response to the Presence of the Babe of Bethlehem Who came to save us from our sin. The angels didn’t perform in a mall or a train station or airport. They lit up the night sky and sang to shepherds who stopped in their tracks. They didn’t get out their cell phones and take pictures and call home. But the Bible tells us they headed to the manger to see this Baby Who was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. WHAT an intervention! Has it happened to you? Has God’s Great Gift of Christmas stopped you in your tracks yet? If so, I rejoice with you as we celebrate Christmas. Oh, come let us adore Him! If not, His intervention is a gift, a present. It’s an invitation to receive Him. There’s no time like the present! Merry Christmas!

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Personalize The Christ Child

With Christmas 9 days away, you still have plenty of time to personalize the Babe of Bethlehem. The other day I asked a friend who lost his dad last year how it was going. He said, wistfully, “I wish I could hide somewhere and let Christmas pass by and come out when it’s over. I’d just like to skip Christmas this year. I think about him every day.” This man of strong Christian faith is normally upbeat, but he’s been socked with loss and grief. This got me thinking about how God comes to us in celebration, amidst our losses.

On the “Woman to Woman” show, produced by Lutheran Hour Ministries, when I interviewed guests about loss they insisted that The Lord of Life can use that very situation as an opportunity to experience His power and peace in a whole new way. John the Baptist, a major Biblical voice, calls out of the wilderness for people to repent of their sins to prepare the way of the Lord. What about the longing in our hearts for someone who’s no longer with us? Can that prepare the way of the Lord? Since God is not distant, since He is at hand, Matt 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" …the answer is YES, our loss, any loss, can prepare the way of the Lord. Keep that awesome reality in mind. God will use the emotions you’re experiencing through your loss to give you what you won’t get any other way.

As you try to celebrate Christmas best you can, a few tips from Dr. Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge, a clinical psychologist in Grand Rapids, MI and co-author of the book THE EMPTY CHAIR.

About the one less place setting at the Christmas table this year, one less chair where HE or SHE always sat. Holidays usually raise us above the humdrum of life to renew and revive us! Grief is tough enough, but when Christmas comes it can be even more difficult. Grieving the loss of a loved one can turn your holiday into a painful time that robs you of happy memories of past celebrations.

Certainly, the holidays will never again be exactly the same for you, Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge says. With the death of a loved one, things change. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll never again be able to join in the celebration or experience a full richness during holidays. You’re on a journey, she advises, with these ways to find peace in your pain and hope in your hurts.

Remember that Grief not a passive process

Have a Plan in your head. To avoid the “elephant in the room” that everyone tiptoes around, give people permission to talk re. him, how he always lit the candles, or her favorite dish, how the person lived their life.

Holidays like Christmas are emotionally charged and it probably doesn’t take much to throw us off from having a great time to having a horrible one. Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge says, “full resolution of grief is possible through a combination of time and intentional grief work.” You don’t come out of it and find your old self again. You come out a different person.

She calls it “Sorting through the ashes” which includes accepting the loss. Admit you’re frozen inside like the ground, that you cry when you look at your gift list. Your holiday spirit has been broken by death, maybe nothing sparkles but your tears. “What about a less than ideal relationship with the deceased?” Her advice was to keep the finest of your loved one alive to pass on. Celebrate the joy he brought into your life. Thank God you loved and were loved by this person. Her point is that Grief can be one of the great deepening experiences of life.

To get “control” over our emotions, be intentional about this grief work. If it’s your first holiday without your husband or child or parent, it can be overwhelming. Take care of yourself physically. Don’t scrap the whole thing and deny yourself pleasure in obligation to the deceased. Instead, buy a gift for him and give it to someone needy.

If you live alone…visit a soup kitchen or a nursing home. Make new bonds out of shared losses in a grief support group. Above all, find a time of peace & reflection. The person IS there in a sense. He or she is part of each of you. It could be lovely for people to share that. Lower your expectations of the holidays. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Plan ahead so you’re not overwhelmed at the last minute. It’s hard to concentrate when you’re grieving, so make lists and simplify your to-do list this year.

My dad’s been gone for 4 Christmases, my mom for 8. I still have moments when I stop and in tears, thank God for all the ways they focused Christmas on The Christ, the Giver above the gifts.

What about you? Prayerfully consider what we’ve talked about and invite God’s grace to reach in and transform your grief from an ending into a beginning.

No matter what your loss, you needn’t be at a loss over what to receive.
The 14th century German melody [author unknown] “Now sing we, now rejoice”, 2nd verse, speaks to this. “Come from on high to me; I cannot rise to Thee, Cheer my wearied spirit, O Pure and holy Child; Through thy grace and merit, Blest Jesus, Lord most mild…Draw me unto Thee! Draw me unto Thee!”

Christmas Traditions

Dec 9

What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Maybe watching classics like Charlie Brown’s Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas? Anybody go caroling in the neighborhood or the retirement community or hospital wards? One year a group of us was allowed to sing carols in ICU at the local hospital. I kept thinking, oh please don’t let this cause a code blue on my watch! But the staff and the patients were misty eyed over that one! They LOVED it.

Then there were the Christmas cookies with the kids. We’d roll, cut and bake and then sort by shapes. Stars here, bells there, angels in this tin, please! Next we’d mix the icing, add colors and get out the brushes. We had 76 cooky cutters, much to the delight of those on the receiving end of this tradition! My friend Marcy saved some, like the beautiful male Mallard Duck. She couldn’t eat it. It looked so real!

One of my favorites was a church with a steeple. Maybe you have that one, too. The year Jennifer invited her BF, Phil, to come over from Washington U and join us, he not only pitched in, he painted stained glass windows on the church cookies! I think that enthusiasm carried the relationship to a new level! Then he had fun inventing shapes, like a toothbrush and a Grinch, still part of our traditions, BTW! Jennifer and Phil eventually married and now lots of folks in NJ benefit from the way they and their children shape Christmas with cookies, delivered in baskets, often accompanied by caroling! Perhaps you make your own Christmas cards or toffee? What about the traditional advent calendar to help count the days? There’s the Advent midweek service at church and choir rehearsals and the children’s Christmas program! And aaah… for sacred and classical music on “Holiday Wrappings!”

There’s something very grounding and peaceful about traditions, whether they’ve been passed down through generations or you start them yourself. It’s NEVER too late to start a tradition!

AND THEN there are the RULES! One rule in most families -- no one peeks in the gift closet before Christmas!

The Christmas Brooks was four, he forgot our family “rule” about eating breakfast BEFORE going into the family room to open the gifts around the tree. I heard the pitter patter of feet in the wrong hallway outside the kitchen door, just in time to hear his hushed little voice giving his peek away. "I remember what I wanted for Christmas. An edow (yellow) tractor!" I called ‘round the other way for breakfast and then, Of Course, he had to fake surprise when he saw the yellow tractor next to the tree as we walked in together!

How many of us want to hear this Christmas, "It's JUST what I wanted!" Whether you're scurrying from one mall, cataloge or website to the next, or creating your own gifts this season, you want the PERFECT gift for each person. 540 Most people on your list are WAITing in anticipation, having been notified that Christmas is just 16 days away. Some, expecting nothing, will be surprised!

In anticipation of the birth of His Son, God notified people for centuries that the Messiah was coming. No date, so they couldn’t count the days, but the faithful tried and longed for it to happen. Three hundred times the Bible predicted and promised the Birthday of the Savior of mankind. And still when it happened, only a few believed. Some were surprised, like the shepherds in the field that night. Then there was faithful old Simeon, impressed somehow by God that he would not die until he actually saw the Christ Child. Luke tells us in Chapter 2 that Simeon was moved by the Spirit to go into the temple courts one day. When Mary and Joseph brought in Baby Jesus, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying he could now die in peace because he’d seen with his own eyes God’s salvation to be revealed in this Child. “Lord lettest now Thy servant depart in peace!”
The familiar refrain from

We have the advantage of the Bible to read the documentation of all that followed to enhance our Christmas celebration. Whatever your traditions, whatever your rules, receive the Perfect Gift, the free gift, from the Great Giver, God Himself delivered through faith in His Son! That gift is just your size, shape and color to face any situation and to open every day the rest of your life!
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
With that in place, you’ll have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Are You Ready?


Now that the Thanksgiving Day Retail sales experiment appears to be a success and Black Friday and Cyber Monday are past, we learn Christmas sales are up a LOT over last year at this time. So I guess we’re all set for Christmas. Or at least MORE all set than we were last year at this time? What about you?

”Are you ready for Christmas? My "ready" lesson occurred the year I wrote our Sunday School Christmas play. Weeks of rehearsals and 150 children later, this one night stand was attended by 600 loving parents, friends and staff. There would be lines rehearsed and parts forgotten. Dancers were ready. Cast members sat in the school auditorium, sparkle eyed in anticipation of coming forward as part of the act. Everyone was ready, from pre-service carolers who looked like they’d stepped right out of Charles Dickens to the last tiny preschool choir. The time had come to join the celebration of the biggest birthday party in the world. Music began and the huge stage curtain parted. In that moment it hit all of us.

This was for real. Christmas was here. This was the night. Ready or not, Here He Comes! By Act III there were few dry eyes in the house. Everyone left with a birthday balloon and a piece of the huge Birthday Boy's cake, fresh from Kruta’s bakery in Collinsville. Young and old seemed to understand this party was for the real birth of a real boy who would grow up to really die for our sins. The Spirit of the Christ Child had touched the hearts of those open to Him. Ever since then, when Christmas comes, I remember it’s for real, just like the night of the play.

You're ready or you're not....but He Comes. I'm invited to the party and so are you. I hope you'll say yes. Ready or not, here He comes. The Virgin Mary had nine months to get ready for Christmas. Once the initial shock became reality, Mary pondered the incredible wonder of the Divine conception of her Son. Martin Luther, the 16th Century reformer, reflecting on Mary's situation, said the Virgin birth appeared to him a trivial miracle compared to the Virgin's faith. It might help our preparation to ponder the thought from Luther that it was not such a big deal for God to make a spectacular star, but rather that the Lord of the universe should care enough about ordinary people like you and me to take our flesh and share our woes. When we don't find ourselves naturally caring for each other, why should God humble Himself to lie in a feed box and hang on a cross? The time had come for the promise of God to be fulfilled. God was ready to send a Savior into the world.

It may not take us nine months to prepare for Christmas, but where to begin? How about with the message of a man who wore rawhide and ate honey and locusts in the wilderness? John the Baptist called people to repent to prepare the way for the Lord. Repentance gets us ready. It shows what needs to BE readied. Feel that grudge? Any unconfessed sin lurking in the corners of your heart? The tree may be up, the shopping finished, but you're not ready for Christmas. We need the medicine of the Christmas story, the Good News to clean our sin-sick hearts. In the words of Luther's Christmas hymn, "Ah dearest Jesus, Holy Child, make Thee a bed soft undefiled; within my heart that it may be, a quiet chamber kept for thee."

Prepare the way. Whose way? Yours? Mine? His? “Prepare” reminders surround us; days left, wish lists and the Tree of Lights. Lights remind us Jesus came to light up a dark world. He was the LIGHT the world could not put out, and still cannot. We deck the halls, get all charged up, literally. One store delivered its holiday catalogue three weeks before Halloween to help us get ready. We decide between the electric motor driven whatchmacallit, the mechanical thingamajig or the fourseat - you name it. Once we have it, we think we're ready. But are we?

A tender "are you ready" moment occurred when our Jennifer was six. I asked what she would give Baby Jesus. Without hesitation she said, "I'll give Him my violin." We decided Baby Jesus could not use the violin, but she could play it with the talent God gave her. That inspired the first Musical Offerings at church, continued for decades, when children offer their musical gifts back to the Giver on Christmas Eve. What will you give the Christ Child this Christmas? Mary was ready. John the Baptist was ready. All it takes is a place for the Christ Child to lay, within our hearts, in a manger of faith. Are you ready?" This Advent season is a perfect time to ask God to ready us. Welcome His Light into your bits of dark….at midweek services, through music, personal devotions…and see how ready you’ll be to celebrate Christmas!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fill in the Blank!

Let’s try a fill in the blank quiz.

Now thank we all our _ _ _.
Thank _ _ _ _ _ _for little girls.
He had only _ _ _ _ _ _ _ to thank.
We can thank our lucky _ _ _ _ _. Answers: Lord, God, heaven, himself, stars.

It's Thanksgiving week in our great nation. Whom do we thank for what? Wait a minute. Do we thank, at all? When did you last hear anyone express thanks? Maybe from a salesperson; or a phone call requesting a favor; a gift received; or for advice given? I find genuine thanks to be so rare it can actually cause an awkward silence. In fact that happened this week when I complimented a salesgirl on her efficiency and pleasantness. She didn’t know what to say.

My dad taught us gratitude with statements like, “God is having fun with THAT sunset, isn’t He? Or Look at these rose bud petals. They won’t open until tomorrow. I wonder why. What do you think?”

Thankfulness is a learned behavior. When I did prison research on the self-concept of the delinquent male, I noticed as a young graduate student, no matter what I did to teach, encourage, nurture or entertain the inmates, the word "thanks" was absent from their otherwise colorful vocabularies. They had No word for gratitude. There was no such attitude. Even on my last day with them, when I brought cake and punch and gave a party for their help with my research and took pictures and said I would miss them and meant I drove off, the empty cry of my heart was not for their physical poverty as much as for their spiritual wasteland. No one had taught them to say or feel thanks.

At best, they misinterpreted my loving kindness as "coming on." At worst, they didn't notice me at all, except that I was the only female there. These young men were locked out of a beautiful emotion that frees us to receive and pass it on. There are folks outside of prisons, in their own personal lock-ups, who do not know how to give thanks. Some read their horoscopes and breathe a sigh of relief when they come true. Some thank their lucky stars. Many say "Thank God" without a clue. Then there are those blessed sorts who follow the lead of J.S. Bach who wrote on every page of music, "To the Glory of God." Others practice I Th. 5:17, 19 where it says to give thanks in all circumstances bc this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you, and so no matter what, they’re able to praise the Lord anyway! Thankfully some are very "thankful to God for His unspeakable gift" in Jesus Christ.

My Thanksgiving memories are rich. I look back on 28 years of relatives coming to our house, ages 1-95...Nannie, Pickie, Spooky, Ada & Arlie and others. I'd order a fresh turkey from the farm. Jennifer made pilgrim hat place cards. We'd ask God's Grace for our own garden red raspberries to hang in there and one year everyone got two on their plate! The children played violins, oboe and piano with me after the pies. And we'd pass a cup for each person to put in a kernel of corn with thanks to God for something that year.

Time marches on. No more fresh turkeys. He raised 'em for 42 years and finally quit. Says he couldn't get the hang of it! The older relatives are with the Lord. The kids are all grown up and have flown the nest!

"What's your favorite Thanksgiving memory?"

I see a nine year old boy. It's Thanksgiving Day. His parents are readying the house. He's practiced his violin. His room is clean. The sunny day beckons and he's free. Mom fusses over food. Dad arranges furniture. Three sisters are doing their thing. The guests arrive. Mom calls out the back door. No answer, but her eye catches something small leaning against a tree. She crosses the patio to pick it up. In her hands she holds the faith of a child. He has nailed together wood scraps into a 9" cross. At the top is carved a crown. Running down the length are the letters CHRIST. A small paper shaped man is placed on the nails and from his mouth are penciled the words, "Father forgive them."

Company's here, Brooks!" I call out, with moist eyes, as I hold the best thanks of all from a very small boy. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? And to whom?

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

All About the Baster!

NOVEMBER 18, 2011 All About the Baster!

It’s time to talk turkey. Not recipes. Go to for those. Let’s talk about the benefits of the baster! I have two rather unique turkey baster stories I’ve saved just for today.

The first happened years ago in our MI cottage where 12 of us trekked over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. The turkey was my assignment. I first loosened the skin from the breast meat and slipped in bright green basil leaves for that subtle pattern when the bird was done. I made my broth and chopped, stirred and mixed my stuffing. Lastly I seasoned and buttered the outside of the bird and into the oven it went. I knew people would salivate when they came in from their woods and beach hikes. Every 45 min I basted the bird to keep it moist. Cardinal rule, right? Baste the bird.

When the appointed time arrived, guests were ooh’ing and aah’ing over the Lake MI view, anticipating the great feast. Each place was set with acorn squash bowls filled with soup. Breads and beverages beckoned. The candles were lit. The gravy was perfect. All that was left to do was take the bird out of the oven and plate it. I winked at my brother in law to follow me into the kitchen and help lift the bird from the oven onto the counter. With mitts in hand he DID! He lifted that gorgeous turkey out of the oven and before you could say “Oh Feathers!” that well basted bird slid across the entire kitchen floor.

Fred and I were the only witnesses. The Thanksgiving holiday isn’t usually aligned with keeping your lips sealed. Should we come clean? No way. Fred picked up the bird, I wiped off the bottom, placed it on the platter and surrounded it with its cooked friends from the field///a few vegetables cover a multitude of sins. And out into the lake view room it was carried with a flourish like none other in the history of that cottage, as far as we know.

Everyone raved about the turkey and wanted my secret for its tenderness. “Well basted is the secret,” was my line. And I’m stickin’ with it! So is Fred.

Fast forward to the summer of 2011, same cottage, no bird, but another baster opportunity. Fred, the turkey handler from yesteryear, notices my car’s low coolant light is on. I check my car manual and search for a specific coolant brand which turned out to be 20 miles away. Freddie offered to pick up the coolant. This was going well.

Fred returns victoriously and I pop the hood. He points to an opening, holding its lid, saying, “Put it there.” I did mention the symbol on the lid in his hand looked like a steering wheel! He said nope that was the one. So in I poured a cup and then stopped, wondering, “What if this isn’t the right spot?” I put everything down to examine my manual more carefully. Yep…. We’d poured coolant into the power steering opening.

NOW? “No problem, said my accomplice. Won’t hurt a thing!” And thus began “Under the Hood 101.” I learned a lot. Like, don’t start your engine, have the car towed, let professionals correct the mistake. But when you’re in the north woods, out of all the voices, you trust your car guy at home who says on the phone, “Listen, if it were me, I’d just get that coolant fluid out any way I could and fill it back with power steering fluid and bring it in when you get home.”

The turkey baster….Where’s the turkey baster when I need it? Nowhere to be found and you don’t go cottage to cottage to borrow one. You improvise with paper towels with your rubber gloves on until it seems empty. But I’m hesitant because one guy told me I better have it towed or the line could become contaminated and destroy my engine.

Just then….up drives a friend. Sizing up the situation, he said 6 kids and 7 vehicles had prepared him for this moment. Taking off two hoses, he asked for a baster. Sorry, missing! Then he put his mouth on an old plastic gas can funnel and blew into it hard harder and hardest to drain MORE coolant out. That did the trick.

Turns out the coolant container is mysteriously and unclearly marked. Normally the coolant container is where the power steering fluid container is on my car. So I will give Fred that much. It also turns out Fred leases his cars and has never looked under the hood!

Fred and I will laugh over this through the years. I've been sliding turkeys on the kitchen floor ever since! Just kidding. Now a spiritual application. The baster made for a delicious turkey. Having NO baster led to a huge hassle. Apply this to a well-basted life. Jesus calls this abiding in Him. He says, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples" (John 15:6-8, NASB). The key to a full and fulfilling life as a Christian is to abide in the Lord. As we baste our lives with the Word and soak in prayer, we benefit from "abiding" in Jesus, as His words and His Spirit abide in us. And that’s a baster that’s never missing. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Warm-Ups!

While the national news is a bit dour this week, I’M finding lots of good news! And it’s teaching me something. But first….the “lots of good news” part!

Right after “Fridays with Phyllis” last week, I was delivered a very spiffy car for the weekend. This, because at the Anderson Hospital fall auction my husband bid on a “Full Spa Service” for my 6 yr old car. Such a generous donation by Newbold BMW in O’Fallon, IL! For supporting the hospital, we drove a 2011 BMW- 5 series while my 2005 non-BMW was transformed! Fun and amazing, but the highlight for me was their client advisor, Lance Tulacro. His upbeat take on business, cars and life itself gave me more of a lift than the wheels he delivered! When I returned the car, he didn’t do the buying squeeze. He knows he has a great product. He knows I know he has a great product. It was simply, “If we can ever help with your car needs, call us!” So now I’m handing out his biz cards! And I didn’t know I even WANTED a BMW until I drove one!

At the same auction I lined up 6 sessions with a Personal Trainer. Oh my goodness. It turns out we have a CORE that resists workouts! This fabulous training I’d only read about, I NOW want to maintain, with or without a personal trainer.

It just gets better. My good friend Kathy Rule of Cabott Cheese and Dierberg’s cooking demos..set up a delicious b’fast with our daughters at Rue Lafayette. Over the world’s best hot chocolate we rejoiced in God’s goodness. You’ll understand why when you catch the W2W show at called “The Girl with 3 Hearts.” Kathy’s daughter, Angela, was born with a defective heart, had a heart transplant at Barnes Hospital at age 12 and then another at age 30! It’s a miracle story right down to Angela’s 7 mo old Karsten who snuggled us at Rue Lafayette!

During this yummy interlude, I heard a man’s voice call out “Mom!” and turned to see if it was my son who lives in the UK! I mean seriously…do we ever stop that knee jerk reaction? His mom turns out to be Arceli, the owner of Rue Lafayette café. We laughed about my reaction to her son’s “Mom” call as she shared how when he was 4 he called her some special name just in the grocery store, so all the other moms wouldn’t turn around. Sharp kid, that Pablo, who now cooks at the café and is in training to be a paramedic. You’re doubly safe eating there!

Then I hopped into MY like-new car, thanks to the Newbold Spa, and heard a KFUO visit with songwriters Joan Voges and Dr. Paul Schreiber on “Law and Gospel” about how they compose such beautiful music to glorify God.

That morning I’d picked up some tips from Paul Clayton’s chat with a Dr. on nutrition that included a call-in question from Dr. Bob Weiss of the Bio-Ethics Chair at Concordia Seminary. Not to mention the always insightful “Meyer Minute” and the spiritual-musical encouragement from Rev. Mark Hawkinson. All of this, meantime, overrides the bad news of the day with good news.

But it wasn’t all grins this week. When I learned cartoonist Bil Keane died Nov 8, at 89, after 50 years of cartooning, I thanked God for his unique gift of making us laugh at ourselves to smooth the rough edges of the human condition. Bil was my guest on a Father's Day Special titled "Dads Who Pass It On."

Just remembering that visit at the mic reminded me how glad he made you feel just to be alive, even if you’d burned the toast that morning! After the interview, he faxed me a personal cartoon I treasure. “Family Circus” daughter “Dolly” holds a radio that’s blaring and says to her little brother, who’s trying to listen in, “No Jeffy, you can’t listen. It’s 'Woman to Woman'!”

In a week of disturbing news reports, I found this Biblical advice to be true…”Good news gives health to the bones!” Christians have the best Good News in what Christ did for us, so bad news doesn’t have to drag us down. Do what you can about it……and look for good news. A bit of my good news this week is a spiritual tweak on my not realizing I wanted a certain car until I’d driven it. As I drove away in my own, 93k mile sparkling clean car, it occurred to me that I didn’t realize I wanted to hang out with Jesus until He found me, forgave me and called me His own! It’s kind of a warm up for Thanksgiving. Take some time between now and then to find your own good news source and give health to your bones!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Who IS that Voice?

Who IS That Voice?

Soon many of us will open our front doors to characters we do not recognize and hand them treats! In my daughter’s neighborhood, where they have over 200 customers, the trick or treater must DO a trick to earn the treat! So kids sing a song, recite a poem, do a gig or ask a riddle. The challenge is to look surprised when you’ve heard the most popular riddle about 43 times!

Do you notice how, especially if you know the child, [he’s maybe your own] and you say, “Who IS this character? Let me guess!” and you come up with all the wrong answers…finally, when you say his name, off comes the mask or out comes the smile to reward your efforts! Our 4 year old Brooks was all dressed up one Halloween and I could not “guess” this little guy’s name. After a minute, from behind the mask came the whisper, “Listen to my voice, mom!”

Our voice identifies us. On our family cottage telephone I kept one special voicemail for four years. It was my dad’s voice with good news following cataract surgery at age 91! [Mind you, he did not wear glasses and was still reading maps with over- the-counter half- glasses.] My kids think it’s weird that I play this message now and then. The message isn’t profound. It’s simply, “Hi Phyl. It’s Daddy, around 3 o’clock. I’m now back to perfect eye sight. I have a certificate from the doctor that I don’t have to take my driver’s test. I don’t need to wear glasses. So, back to square one. Now if we can just get the body working a little faster, we’d be in great shape! Isn’t the Lord great! Thanks. Love ‘ya. Talk to you later!” I treasure the sound of his voice, which was silenced when he was called “home” to heaven several months later in his sleep.

What is it about a voice that’s so special? You know what I mean. Our voices are unique, so much so that research reveals our “voiceprint” to be as unique as our fingerprint! The implications of that are huge. One day we’ll probably be able to access bank accounts, activate engines and who knows what else with our one-of-a-kind voice. This begs the question, what do you do with the power of your unique voice? Do you bring comfort, speak encouraging words, speak the truth?

The next question is,TO whose voice do you listen? In this swirling political season, voices call to us to do this and think that. If you’re an election junkie you probably hear those voices in your sleep! Whether in politics or in real life, we want to discern whose voice speaks truth, to know who is worth following. It’s a tough choice for some and an easy choice for others. It’s the same in the family, in the neighborhood, at the office. Voices can beckon, urge, sometimes annoy and anger or motivate and inspire us.

Speaking of voices, the Book of John quotes Jesus talking about a voice, namely His own when He refers to Himself as The Good Shepherd. Those who follow Him and live out His teachings are called “sheep.” You’ve heard the song, “I am Jesus little lamb…!” Same deal. Jesus makes a point in the 10th chapter about how His “sheep” know His voice and won’t be led astray by beckoning voices that are not His. Here’s the exact quote. “My sheep know my voice. The watchman opens the gate for him [the shepherd], and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."

It’s important to follow the right voice to keep from going astray. Get the tie-in with our voiceprint that’s as unique as our fingerprint? It’s recognition! Brooks tells me at age 4 from behind his mask, “Listen to my voice, mom!” He knew I‘d recognize him then! My dad’s 91 year old voicemail still reminds me of who he was, what he stood for, how much he loved our family and how faithfully he followed The Good Shepherd.

Your voice is truly a gift. You use it to lead, to follow, to rebuke and to lift up. The bigger question is, how does your voice respond to The Good Shepherd Who calls you by name? Can you hear Him saying, “Listen to my voice. Come to me, you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Do you recognize His voice from all the others? You will when you get to know Him. My son reminded me I knew his voice. I recognize my dad’s voice because we walked together this side of heaven all my life, one way or another. Walking with Jesus is like that. He draws you close through his Word, His Sacraments and through others who know Him. It’s how you literally hang out with Jesus, as He brings Himself, His protection, His wisdom, His life-saving Grace to you!

Who’s voice IS it? No costume can hide it. No others can be as authentic. When you hear His voice, it’s safe to follow!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Win or Lose?

Charles Schultz’s “Snoopy” character observed, "It doesn't matter if you win or lose, as long as you win!" This month's tally of winners and losers will add up to more of one than the other in both the World Series and the political scene. Winners make headlines and begin that uphill climb to deliver their best. What about the losers? What happens to them and to their supporters?

A look at some psychology behind winners and losers reveals the anguish of "Second Place." Close doesn't count, in the eyes of many, who brush aside a lifetime of striving and discipline to idolize the winner. An Olympic athlete, for instance, can come within a hair of taking the gold, stand before the world to receive a medal of another color...and think, "I'm a loser. If only I'd breathed better or turned slightly to the right instead of the left."

There's the classic case of Abel Kiviat who ran away from the field in the 1,500 meter track event at the 1912 Olympics when a British rival pulled ahead in a thrill finish to win by one-tenth of a second. Seven decades later, Kiviat told the Los Angeles Times that even at age 91, "I wake up sometimes and say, "What
the heck happened to me?" It's like a nightmare."

And THAT was before agents, multimillion-dollar broadcast contracts, bonuses and Dream Teams. How do we promote the privilege and thrill of just being able to enter the race, when confronted with that old shoe slogan, "YOU DON'T WIN SILVER, YOU LOSE GOLD!" Or the billboard ad that screams, "CONTEMPT IS A HUNDREDTH OF A SECOND."

No wonder the U.S. team in Atlanta set the Olympic record for the largest psyc squad to sanitize stained egos. The experts LABEL putting yourself down as A LOSER, unless you're absolutely at the very top. It's called "counterfactual thinking." And it's not confined to one area or one age group. How did you feel when your mom looked at the B on your report card and wondered why not an A? Buzz Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon, suffered crippling depression back on earth. You're as qualified as the next guy to get the promotion at the office. How does it feel when you're in the last 3 to be considered and don't get it? You score well on the ACT, your academic standing is excellent, your extracurricular involvement outstanding. You even get the letter from the university of your choice, stating you are a "strong contender." But you don't get in...along with thousands of others who applied. Are you a winner or a loser?

"To the victor go the spoils." Or should that read, "The victor will be spoiled and the loser will be soiled." Psychological evaluations conclude it's actually easier to lose by a lot than by a little. Even the bronze medalists, for example, get on with their lives better than those with the silver. Their reactions are healthier. They seem to retain the thrill of just being part of the event.

I’ll be cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, checking the stats, saying “Oh rats!” now and then, predicting and rerunning plays…but always in awe of the discipline each member of the team displays, from the stadium keepers to the managers to the players. They’re all winners, when you come right down to it, even tho just a few will take home the prize.

What do we do when we're the "also-rans?" How do we handle the loss or victory of "our" candidate or “our” team? Do we live the poignant motto, "Humble in victory...Gracious in defeat."

C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters talks about disappointment. The Senior devil, Screwtape, to junior devil Wormwood: "Whatever men expect, they soon come to think they have a right to; in the sense of disappointment this can, with very little skill on our part, be turned into a sense of injury."

What about us? Can we view what we risk, discipline ourselves for and strive toward as part of a "holy experiment," used to serve the Living God with our time, talent and treasure? With that attitude, we can't lose. So work, campaign and pray hard at what you do. It's not time wasted. Christians serve a greater purpose. It's a higher calling than individual "wins and losses." It's ALL going somewhere, cumulatively, as God promises in His Word. We offer who we are, what we have, with the Psalmist, "My times are in Thy hands." Win or lose, they’re times He’ll use.

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Friday, October 14, 2011



For the annual Fall Festival at our kid’s high school my husband, Rich, lugged in a 25 pound Libby's pumpkin. I was pleased. This plump, pale apricot boulder had "pies" written all over it. It was a surprise for my friend's front porch, to be surrounded with October offerings of gourds and field corn. By Thanksgiving it would surrender its throne to be stuffed into pastries, breads and soups. Rich asked, "WHY are we doing this?" I laughed off that reality question as an editorial remark and browsed the booths, challenging him to "dunk the teacher." Then a table full of cookbooks caught my eye.

Rich was headed for the parking lot. He'd paid his dues by appearing at the fund raiser and had that "yardwork is calling me" look. But those cookbooks...the poor mom who'd tried to hawk them still had 150 left. She’d reduced them from $5 to $1. Such a deal. Within seconds I offered to sell them as a fundraiser at my Bible study. I'd charge $2, give her $1 and our group would get $1.

Are you excited yet? Neither was Rich. As he loaded the 150 cookbooks into our car, exactly where the Libby's pumpkin had been, he mumbled, "WHY are we doing this?" At that precise moment a wise friend waltzed by wondering what was IN that big box. He was hoping someone would ask. She sized up the situation, and blessed us with, "Phyllis does tend to go off the end of the scale when it comes to Mercy!" That sweet summary left us both intact and able to get home with a minimum of hard feelings about my typically eager, instead of meager, responsiveness. I can justify my actions faster than any computer can set a margin. But in this case, the good Lord reminded me that not every need is a call from God on my life! Add Rich's query, "WHY are we doing this?" and you get a theological dilemma. What about all the needs I sensed, purportedly with my spiritual antenna? Do I tend to react more than act? This is not a fun exam. Instant replays are indelible in my mind. Wednesday Woman, a Bible study I led for 10 years, is an example. One hundred women from 14 different church backgrounds were empowered by God's Word. Marriages were saved, depressions lifted, confidence restored, faith in Christ increased. Supervising a staff of 24, affirming individuals in small groups and writing the study, eventually began to consume me.

One family night [don’t go WOW, we only had 3 all together] the 6 of us shared observations, all in love. Jennifer, 12, noticed I'd been more of a “Wednesday Woman” than a mom lately. Sarah, 4, said prayers that night, ending with "Make Mommy a good “Wednesday Woman!" A creative “ditto” came the next day when my husband and I attended a funeral. I jotted a note asking what he wanted on his tombstone. “Do you know something I don’t?” He answered, adding "I know what I'm putting on Yours! ‘SHE DIED ON HER WAY TO WEDNESDAY WOMAN.’" Within a year I transferred my leadership to others. That Bible study continues to this day very nicely without me. It was the Lord's work. He gave me the burden and then took it away. His timing was perfect. Next He led me into broadcasting. In fact, He’d been heading me in that direction all along!

If I hadn't listened to feedback, I may have missed that opportunity and continued writing weekly lessons, panicking when childcare staff didn't show up and trying to master the F sharp chord on my guitar. How do we know when to play what role? It would appear far better to seek it, even trial and error it, than to pontificate and debate it. In the Lord's Prayer we ask God to enable us to accept His will AND to DO it. Back to pumpkins. While the Libby pumpkin makes great pies...the other one, called a jack-o-lantern, is good only for eyes! One of these things is not like the other. A face pumpkin tastes terrible. A pie pumpkin doesn't make a very brilliant show.

Are you like the pie or the face pumpkin? One way to tell is to let others taste and see that the Lord is good through you. Their feedback can reinforce wise use of your talents. If folks move away from you in the choir loft, it might signal a misuse of gifts. If people are drawn to you in times of crisis, consider it the gift of encouragement. And don't be DIScouraged if you knock on a few doors that won't budge. It's another way God steers us in the right direction.

Speaking of directions, I have this great idea about opening an intimate little tea room. On the FACE of it, it looks like a golden opportunity: great location, favorite recipes, a friend who can help. But I wonder if I'm confusing pies with eyes in this patch of possibilities? Since there's no way he can fit this one in the trunk of the car, I could ask Rich for some feedback. Or maybe I'll just ask myself, WHY are we doing this?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Baseball Lessons Can Be Home Runs!

With world series drama unfolding, I realize there’s plenty of other drama playing on your life stage…mine too, but hang in there with me as I reflect on a fascinating game with so many apps! I was there this week…in St Louis for Game #4 of the NL playoffs. In anticipation of being there, after watching on TV and catching baseball on radio all season… my mind raced back to 2006.

We had World Series Tickets, because the Cards were down to the wire in that one. We were 10 rows up behind 1st base. These big games can’t be planned in advance, so you don’t know the exact date and time until the last minute. My speaking opportunities, on the other hand, ARE planned in advance with exact times and dates! I was excited about my first in person world series. I hoped against hope IF we got that far in the playoffs, it wouldn’t be a game played in STL on the night I was booked for an event.

But it wasn’t going to be that simple. Our seats were close enough to lipread Albert Pujols in conversation with Dave McKay, the first base coach! Flying back from the east coast, I faced a dilemma. I was lined up for a Friday night-all day Saturday retreat with Seminary wives, just outside STL. I hesitate to admit this, but I made frantic phone calls to see how I could work this out. Actually, to see how I could gracefully get OUT of the Friday night part of the weekend. I’m a woman and I have to use up my words, so I considered advice from strangers, mostly guys, who said, sure, the Sem wives would understand. You gotta GO. This is once in a lifetime! It’s weird, but I wanted to go to that game so much I could taste the peanuts. It was decision time. I decided. My airport advisers were convincing. I COULD go to the game. Someone else could cover for me that night and I’d be with the Sem wives the next day..all day. What Commandment would it break, after all? Opportunities come up!

I’d been asking for God’s input, of course, since He counts sparrows that fall from the sky and in the Greek that means He counts their take offs and landings! He was a bit silent on the issue, frankly. I mean, I didn’t get a call from the organizers to say, “Hey, BTW, if you and Rich have tickets to the game tonight, have at it! We’ll be fine.” For a second I thought, “Well, this is one of those grey areas, like coloring your hair or what car to buy. The women would have been ok and so would God who had a lot bigger things on His plate than whether I spoke to Sem wives or went to a world series game. Besides, there was a big push at that time for women to take care of themselves, as in tell the kids you’ll resurface in 30 minutes and take a bath with scented candles or plan a getaway now and then. So let me think, scented candles & bath, getaway with friends….World Series tickets and a magical chance at winning. Now I had to make the agonizing choice. If we didn’t use those tickets, someone else would.

As I drove into the parking area for the retreat in the woods, my car radio tuned in to the first inning, I learned that our tickets went to Cardinals 3rd baseman, Scott Rolen, for his friends & family. That was nice. But not nice enough to smother the grumbling rumbling inside of me. What good would I BE to these Sem wives from all around the country who were not distracted by the hype? Their concerns were over more “real life” events, like would their husbands pass Greek and Hebrew; when would he put down the books and re-enter the marriage, how would they pay back student loans; were they prepared for the real world; where would their “call” be and how would they like it? I sat in the woods listening on my radio and gradually, the excitement from inside the ballpark, 15 miles across the Mississippi River, seemed even further away as the Lord impressed on me the priceless opportunity right there in that back woods. Who needed cheering on more than THESE women, facing formidable unknowns and knowns?

I walked from the car, asking God for grace to put on the mind of Christ in that place. A few hours later, Friday night’s mission accomplished, I went back to the car radio just in time to hear the final inning. We won, on a sacrifice fly! I was elated and hopped out of the car to run in and tell the others. It turned out there WERE some fans inside after all! So I wasn’t the only one who “sacrificed” my own interests that night! I could almost hear the cheering inside the stadium float across the river and into the woods. I could see the distant sky light up with fireworks in celebration. And in the gentle fall breeze drifting through the trees, I think I heard a whisper, “You take care of my people and leave the final score up to me!” It turns out… Baseball LESSONS can be home runs, too!

Friday, September 30, 2011



Welcome to Fridays with Phyllis!

When it comes to baseball…I’m in for the long haul! I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan who learned to “Go crazy folks!” from Jack Buck. And I DO. I follow the game and the players, not obsessively, but enough to miss them when they’re traded.
I even notice what they do off the field, investing themselves and their money in projects to help others hit the ball out of the park!

I don’t keep a scorecard or collect signed balls, but I do add to my baseball facts a bit each year. This season the learning curve blocked me on what SB stands for. I never paid attention to it before, sitting in the column right next to RBI and HR which are easy to figure out. But SB? I texted my Son-in-law, who started out with the Cards as a bat boy when he was a kid and still works there. “What’s SB stand for?” He’s a man of few words. Texted back, “Stolen Bases.” I could not keep those two simple words in my head. I’d go to SB and my brain delivered Street Blues, Swinging Ball, South Bark. Finally, after I said Stolen BASES OUT LOUD and told someone how puzzling this was and said Stolen Bases to them out loud, on the 3rd day I kept it in my head.

So it’s been with mounting anticipation I’ve stayed up late with my laptop to watch out of town or catch games on XM or wherever I find myself on game day. I’ve agonized, sympathized, criticized as the Cards came back from injuries and defeat time and time again this season. I’ve watched their coach, Tony LaRussa,
explain his strategy to keep them focused, admitting when and why it didn’t work, always putting a frank and upbeat face on it, even tho his own facial expression seldom changes, win or lose! It’s been fascinating to hear Albert Pujols talk about his comeback potential and keeping his eye on the goal to do his best at the game.

The STL Cardinals are perhaps the biggest surprise in baseball this year, coming from 8.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves to win the wild card slot this week! After 162 games this season, fans now buzz about who’s the "team of destiny!" And so it goes…this baseball fever.

Why this fuss about a game, a national past time called baseball? Well, for one thing it’s Biblical. Yeah…. Right off the bat, the Bible starts out in Genesis, “In the Big Inning” God created the heavens and the earth!

Some stunning stats are tucked into my head as I bask in the unpredictable down to the wire, Wild Card win. It’s been more than an energizing distraction for me. I’ve learned from this team about being down but not out, about a daily enabling for the task at hand, about putting the naysayers’ doom and gloom aside, keeping your eye on the prize, staying in the zone, being a team player

In my exhilaration over this huge win and my anticipation for the future of this series…I’m thinking, "Wait a second, how did I help in this win?" This piece speaks to that, by Gerhard Frost.


I remember a moment long ago
In a small-town restaurant.

We’d played a basketball game –
Played away from home and won,
And were in a celebrative mood.
I was fourteen, and not very good,
Nor was our team, and this made victory
Sweeter still.

As we crowded into a booth
I jauntily said, “Well, we won!”
Quick as the flash of a knife
Came the remembered words:
“What do you mean, ‘we’?
You didn’t play!”

I can’t forget the words
Or the one who spoke them,
But I can turn to other words,
Sounding in my soul.
My Lord says, “This do in remembrance of me.”
Baptized into the death of Christ
I die in Him to rise again.
With no part in the victory
I’m still invited to say,
“We won!”

By Gerhard Frost, sainted Lutheran pastor, from his

Just as Cardinal Nation is able to say,”We won the NL Wild Card..and looks forward to winning the world series…the whole community of saints is able to say, “We won the victory over death because Christ won over death on a cross and we look forward to the eternal victory parade, marching through streets paved with gold!"

In my quest for new information with Cardinals stats, I didn’t know what SB was. And you know, life has a lot of things I don’t understand. But Heb 12:2 helps me here. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Keeping my eyes on Jesus steadies me in the race and keeps me focused through the wins and losses of life until the final win which He has won for me and for those who believe and confess that He is Lord.

Now there’s a game plan you can count on!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 16

This September we're focusing on learning. Today I’ll share a tip I learned from my Hair Designer, Jerry Dial. I’d mentioned how my daughter urges me not to use just any hair products. This conversation came out of her frustration when I collect the hotel giveaways and give them to summer camps or save money by using them myself! Jerry heartily endorsed her point. “I tell people that all the time,” he said. “If they’d just listen! They come back to me and say my hair isn’t performing and I say, 'I told you not to use any shampoo and conditioner that isn’t for colored hair,' for example! But they don’t listen and then wonder why they’re not getting good results!” By now I’m a believer, as Jerry sighs in exasperation from decades of experience!

It got better, in terms of learning as I listened long enough for more valuable counsel. Jerry had left conditioner on my hair that day for 10 minutes! I mentioned that to the shampoo assistant at the sink who said, “Oh yeah, you can leave that on overnight if you really want to condition your hair. Won’t hurt a thing!”

As Jerry reminded me to leave it on 3-5 min in the shower, I’m thinking, hey who has time for 5 extra minutes in the shower! I’m not a teenager and I don’t have kids banging on the bathroom door for my attention anymore, but I do have places to go and things to do! 5 minutes without writing for a deadline or finishing a job around the house is a loong time for a Type A like me. I kind of hinted at this with Jerry.

And he recited as he has... probably 3,923 times in his professional life, “Leave conditioner on 3-5 minutes. Start with washing and conditioning your hair and enjoy the rest of the shower at your leisure.” Now admittedly, I don’t spend much time on appearances. Hey, give me a break. First off, I have four kids. Then, too, I hosted a radio show for 20 years! I have a radio face, as they say? Who notices?

Well…Now that I’m intentionally slowing down to smell the roses, I might also take better care of my hair. After all it is a woman’s glory, according to the Bible. I’m listening to my hairdresser, who’s my kids’ age! But you know what…I’ve ENJOYED those shower conditioning minutes ever since! It’s not about the cost of the product. That little seemingly mindless routine that’s good for my also good for ME! I learned by listening, even though I thought I knew plenty about hair care. Then I acted on it. Learn, listen and do. It works, even for slow learners in hairy situations, like myself!

This learning moment is brought to you by the letter L for Listen! “Let the wise Listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance”—it reads in Pro 1:5. As my Hair Designer put it, “People don’t listen and wonder why they’re not getting good results!” Apply that Biblically to the way we live our lives. Jas 1:22 urges, ‘… be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

We don’t listen and then wonder why we’re not getting good results! Jerry Dial keeps on giving accurate hair care advice. People can take it or leave it. God keeps on giving His life saving Word, here and now, and for eternity. We’re free to take it or leave it. Every Word of God is for our learning. Let’s listen as The Living God draws us to Himself, to sit at His feet and learn. He is so INTO us, He counts the hairs on our heads! My Hair Dresser doesn’t even do that, he just conditions them! God “conditions” my life when I let His Word sink in at least 3-5 minutes a day. And sometimes overnight. And always when I listen, I want to linger longer and I get good results.

So the next time you open your Bible or ponder God’s wisdom, let it soak in! His kind of “conditioner” is a great way to learn of His Unconditional love!

Have a refreshing weekend, delighting in the Lord!

September 23

We’re looking into LEARNING this month, and we’ve all heard there’s no such thing as a dumb question! One summer I learned something by simply asking, “Why me?” Nothing wrong with the question, just don’t expect the answer tomorrow or, maybe, ever! It involves seeing the forest for the trees. But how, when the “tree” blocks the view? My learning insights came on a tour of Germany. The first was up close and personal: a 23 hour “rain delay” in Charles DeGaulle airport. I can write a BOOK in 23 hours, if I know it’s coming! But whiling away the hours on airport “standby” is unnerving. Duty free shopping lost its appeal fast. My anxiety increased by the hour. I felt robbed. I was losing it, tired of no explanations. The “tree” loomed large!

I finally sat down to look at the situation. I could focus on WHY ME and a missed castle and grumble about the inaccessible Eiffel Tower that was within a cab ride. OR I could remember I had a choice. I could let this maddening incident ruin my trip, or stop whining and give it to God. I did That. “Here’s the mess, God. Please work it out and give me your peace, in J Name and for His sake.” My anger and frustration gradually subsided. I played checkers with a child who was whiling away his time with his parents who’d just come off the Concorde.

The hard bench that night was softened by the attitude adjustment which made me grateful for a place to lay my head. [Weeks later a Concorde jet crash made my layover seem insignificant.]

Soon I was to set one foot on each side of the Berlin Wall rubble. Our guide described the rainy night of October 3, 1989 when she and thousands asking “Why Me?” marched shouting, “We are the people. We are one nation.” And the walls came tumbling down. What a picture. She said the Church gave people hope that God was in charge of the big picture. He could see the forest for the trees.

Next stop, Leipzig, where J. S. Bach directed his “St. Matthew Passion” in 1727. Orphaned at age 10, forbidden by an older brother to copy music, he did so by moonlight, nearly ruining his eyesight. His brother destroyed the copy. He didn’t seem to ask “Why Me?” A self-evaluation summed up his life. “I worked hard.” Mozart said of Bach’s genius, “He is the father, and we are his children.” He composed “theology set to music,” yet died penniless and virtually unknown. His own sons thought his music so ordinary, they lost much of it. It was forgotten until 100 years later when Felix Mendelssohn, who rediscovered Bach, conducted the "St. Matthew Passion" once again. A terrible picture for awhile. As we celebrate the 260th anniversary of Bach’s death, imagine a world without Johann Sebastian Bach!

On to the Passion Play in Oberammergau, performed every 10 years since 1634 when the Plague threatened the town. A horrible picture. They vowed to perform a drama of the passion of Jesus Christ if God spared them further devastation. Ludwig Mudl, Theological Advisor to the Play, comments, “Neither mourning nor tragedy can extinguish the hope of those who believe!”

How are YOU facing your difficulties right now? Asking, “Why me?” Do you “Center” or “Reinvent yourself?” That can be helpful, but it doesn’t really touch the “Why Me?” question. My summer’s peek at “Why Me?” pointed me to the bigger picture. God sees the forest for the trees and He loves every single “tree.” The secret is to trust God for the BIG PICTURE when our personal picture overwhelms us. After all, the God of the Big Picture says I LOVE YOU in countless ways without ceasing. Puts a whole new perspective on Why Me, doesn’t it!

Have a great weekend delighting in the Lord!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What have we learned?

September is a time to refuel and restart our learning engines! Whether or not we’re in school, the sky’s the limit on how far we can expand our knowledge. Speaking of expanding, 10 years ago this weekend the skies over Manhattan expanded with smoke as the twin towers collapsed in the wake of terrorist attacks that ultimately killed nearly 3,000 people. These were innocent victims from 115 nations, with men outnumbering women 3 to 1, most of them between 35 and 39. Ages when it’s easy to assume there’s plenty of time left for learning.

The question is, what have we learned from 9/11? Volumes have been and will be written with sage reflections. We will be awed by the Ground Zero Memorial as an enduring tribute to the fallen and to the cause of peace. We can debate NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement of a mosque near Ground Zero and his forbidding of prayer and clergy at the 10th anniversary ceremony at the site of the 9/11 attacks.

While the mayor has not spoken out against the display of the World Trade Center Cross made from steel beams found in that exact formation in the rubble, he’s also considering some Muslim prayers and maybe even an atheistic chant. There’s heated dialogue on border security and implementation of shariah law in our land. All of this makes for lively discussion, but back to our question. What have we learned?

I’ve learned that memory is a powerful thing. We remember where we were on 9/11. For many that moment, along with stories of heroism, redefined their lives.

Who could forget Todd Beamer saying the Lord’s Prayer to the operator, asking her to say it with his pregnant wife? Before he said, “Let’s Roll.” The stories in the media right now, 10 years later, continue to inspire us. What are they teaching? For a while, post 9/11, people were exploring what matters most as part of re-thinking their lives. This major change in American culture has had a pretty good shelf life, according to social scientists, in that the importance of relationships continues. I wonder if that accounts for the extreme prominence of social networking as every day millions of us connect through online social networks and sites? Perhaps.

So, I’ve learned memory is a powerful thing. On a deeper level I’ve learned that God’s memory is perfect. He doesn’t just create us in our mother’s womb and then say “Catch ‘ya on the flip side!” He remembers us with a love that makes it worth getting up in the morning, a love that never quits! His love wants to “ready” us for whatever we’re going to face. So I’ve learned to seek the Lord to be ready if and when my tower falls. Not literally, but it’s Biblical readiness and the tower can be a job or health or wealth or a relationship that’s crumbling.

Years ago I faced a potentially dangerous health condition and came across 2 Tim 1:7. I grabbed onto those words because I was scared. Here’s what readied me to overcome my fear. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind!” That was 30 years ago. My life was spared by God’s grace through surgery. My mind was changed from fear to the power of speaking a Bible verse to a scary situation. Now I can face scary circumstances that do NOT change, because I learned God keeps my mind clear through my faith in Christ. This readies me to persevere and learn lessons along the way.

I’m not saying if I were caught in a terrorist act I would know exactly what to do. But I know the One Who does.

There’s something about memorizing God’s Word that brings comfort and courage to face whatever situation into which He accompanies us! What verses have you tucked into your heart to pull out in the moment of adversity? If you don’t have any, just open your Bible and choose some. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in the process. Jot them down on a post it note or on your screen saver. Memorize them.

What have we learned from 9/11? Whatever your answer, since we all play a role in the war on terror, let’s begin with love. God’s love, that is. We recognize evil, that God calls sin, and follow His advice to be on guard and live as peaceably as we can with all men. Towers will crumble, but we don’t have to. Even in the face of death itself, I’m going to remember that God remembers me. That's a lesson learned worth sharing!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Remember when September meant a fresh start? We can close our eyes and practically smell a brand new box of crayons, along with anticipation of old friends, new friends, any friends at all, a good teacher and maybe better study habits and grades this year! Looking back, I don’t recall the grade Mr. Becker gave me in math or my grade point at New Trier High School, but I do think of lessons learned and how they impact my life today.

After 20 years and 1400 “Woman to Woman” radio shows, I’m beginning a new chapter of my life. I do NOT have a specific agenda or plan for my “fresh start” this September. I do know how God designed me to function best with the gifts He gave me. I expect to write, speak and network for Him. There’s no contract to sign, no paycheck for direct deposit anymore! But there is anticipation of lessons to be learned and shared. Anticipation is half the fun!

In this new chapter, I figured I should call myself something and order business cards. I landed on the moniker; "Phyllis Now!" That’s quite a change for me since my school days when I wished for a different name. I mean, think about it, Phyllis. What can you do with that? I wanted something cute like Sally or Molly or DeDe or sophisticated like Anne or warm and bright, like Jennifer. But no, Phyllis it was and that was that. Nicknames were limited to Phyl. While I was proud of my last name, Muhlenbruch, no one could spell either name and it was quite a handle for life. In undergraduate school at the U of IL, I once received a letter addressed to Phillip Mulchinbaum, to join the ROTC! People murdered my name. My closest friends could call me Millis Phulenbruch, instead of Phyllis Muhlenbruch, and my godmother tried lightening up by turning my initials PEM into Pemme! None of that lifted the burden of being called Phyllis. You’ll notice in the 21st C approximately 2 girls being named Phyllis, and that may be an exaggeration.

What to do with a name you don’t particularly like? My dad sympathized and told me about a fellow named John Schliterbatz who detested his name and went to court about it. “I want to change my name, Your Honor,” he said. The judge indicated that would be possible, explained the procedure and asked what name John preferred for the change. “JIM Schliterbatz,” came the reply! I laughed over John and Jim, but “Phyllis?” Not so much!

Finally, in college, I learned that Phyllis is Greek for “green bough.” While I didn’t ask people to call me GB for short, it did make me like the name a little more. And then when I fell in love with Ps 1, the name Phyllis grew on me. Here’s the section that made my name come to life. Remember, “He” means he or she, as in a person. “Blessed is the one whose "delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Psalm 1:2-3 (NIV)

Do you see what I saw? Or as my friend, Pastor Bill Yonkers says, “I tell you that …to tell you this…” all of a sudden it hit me. I want to be THAT kind of woman. I want my green bough, my very life, to stay supple and nourished by the Lord like a tree planted by a stream so it bears fruit. In the fall I want to be colorful and though I may lose my leaves for a season in life, I won’t dry up. “Phyllis” became a beautiful name for me. I thanked my parents who were so happy I liked it at last!

And that brings me to Phyllis Now…which is what I’m calling myself in this new chapter of my life. What about you? This fall what’s your fresh start? Going back to school yourself or vicariously through your kids or grandkids? With or without school, there’s plenty of learning left, as long as you have life and breath. In the Book of Proverbs, God makes it clear that it is to our advantage, here and now and for eternity, to seek His wisdom. “Blessed is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold, more precious than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with her!” You may not need wisdom for your name that leaves you stuck, like mine did. But whatever has you stuck,” God pulls alongside to help you learn the lesson and pass it on. Because you’re not in this alone.

Have a great weekend, resting from your labors and delighting in the Lord!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

“Feminism: Where Are We Now?” Part 2 with Suzanne Venker, Meg Meeker, M.D. and Phyllis Wallace

Feminism promised to deliver and it did! Women have more freedom, education and power. But, research reports, they also have less happiness. Ok, we have more money, we’re liberated by the hook-up culture and even have tons of freedom from childcare. Why then are we less happy? Suzanne Venker and Dr. Meg Meeker reveal the unsettling flipside of feminism.”

Suzanne is a former middle school teacher turned keen observer of all things female, especially family! Her husband and two children support her writing habit. She’s appeared on CNN, FOX and C-Span and written for Human Events and the New York Post. Her first book was 7 Myths of Working Mothers, about why children and most careers just don’t mix. She speaks about her latest book co-authored with Phyllis Schlafly, The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know and Men Can’t Say.

Then Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatric and adolescent physician of 25 years, talks about the secret of balancing a career and family. Dr. Meeker is one of today’s most trusted family advocates. She and her husband, also a physician, have four grown children. The Woman to Woman® website archives have three previous shows on her national bestselling books, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, Boys Should Be Boys and The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers. Dr. Meeker has seen firsthand, professionally and personally, how the feminist movement impacts women and families. She has recommendations for women caught up in more “freedoms” than they might want, all things considered!

I wrap the show with my comments, “Woman to Woman,” on how I enjoy being a woman more than ever and why. And, of course, a story or two about how God is in all of that! Do you feel that way, too?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

“Feminism: Where Are We Now?” Part 1 with Phyllis Schlafly, Jenell Wright, Jan Burmeister

So what do you talk about on the last two shows? Well, I’m wrapping 20 years of broadcasting with two programs on the impact of the Feminist Movement on American women. Where are we and what’s next?

When I think of contemporary women who champion women and families, the first person who comes to mind is Phyllis Schlafly, named as one of the 100 most important women of the 20th century by the Ladies’ Home Journal. Her first book, A Choice Not an Echo, sold 3 million copies. Her national volunteer pro-family organization is Eagle Forum. Phyllis has passionately debated on 500 college campuses and written or edited 20 books on subjects from politics to family, feminism to nuclear strategy, child care to phonics. This highly educated woman knows victory with accolades from Presidents of the United States and a wide array of leaders in the world, as well as strong opposition and defeat. How does she stay so upbeat and feminine when the going gets tough? She has six children, was widowed in 1993 and today readily admits her age, 86. Phyllis Schlafly is a phenom! I ask Phyllis, “How has the feminist movement helped or hurt women?” Hear her answer to this and other questions, along with her hope and prayer for the American family and for the U.S. as a whole.

Jenell Wright follows Phyllis Schlafly on this show to comment on how the Feminist ideology interacted with her high-powered jobs and her decision to leave a handsome six figure salary when she started her family. Was it hard to pull out? Four children later, does she have regrets? How does she find fulfillment without the paycheck and the kudos from the office team? Tune in to find out!

Jan Burmeister did not set out on the fast-track to success, but she found it, almost in spite of herself. She worked with some amazing people and projects, including George W. Bush in the White House. Hear what Jan learned about women and the world of rights and wrongs as she shares her advice to women hoping for the breaks and striving for the advantage to be chosen for the fast track to the top. Her bottom line is lovely. “God does greater things with our simple gifts than we could ever do under our own steam!”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

“After the Choice: His Story” David Rosa

Men are seldom mentioned in prochoice or prolife discussions. But they’re the dads of the babies who are aborted and it turns out that they, too, are impacted by what happens “after the choice.” David L. Rosa knows this all too well. Today he’s married with 3 children, but he participated in two abortions and lived with the consequences of those choices for years before seeking help to get his life back. He first told his story at the March for Life in Washington DC in 2011. “If she’s in trouble, he’s in trouble too,” as we now know.

David describes very clearly how he reacted to the abortions with high alcohol consumption, multiple adulterous affairs and a grab for power and money. None of that brought any peace to his life. David says the healing process gave him peace that passes understanding from confessing to Christ who forgives sin, from confessing to his wife and family and from turning away from what was destroying him. He admits he’s a different man now, by God’s grace, restored to his loved ones and reaching out to keep others from making the mistakes he did.

This is a particularly powerful insight into the impact of abortion rights on men who may not realize what’s going on and most often will not talk about it. Here’s your chance to share a life changing visit with such a man. Thank you for helping me spread the word!

Friday, July 29, 2011

“After the Choice” with Georgette Forney

While prochoice and prolife dialogue continues, let’s acknowledge that no matter how you feel about the issue, in the U.S. alone there are 3,250 abortions every day and each woman involved has her own unique reaction at the time and as time goes on. What do you do with the feelings, the fears, the questions and what if’s? Georgette Forney had an abortion when she was 16. Nineteen years later she experienced healing, forgiveness and reconciliation after going through the Forgiven and Set Free healing program. Through her restoration, she began to understand more about the negative impact abortion has on women and on society. Now, her passion for helping women find peace after abortion is matched only by her desire to see young people make positive life choices.

Georgette serves as Director of the National “Silent No More” Awareness Campaign. She’s addressed groups like the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children’s annual conference in England and Princeton University’s Organization of Women Leaders Conference. I believe this gentle Woman to Woman® conversation will empower anyone who’s discovered that abortion did not solve the problem and will offer hope for the same kind of breakthrough that Georgette had. Please recommend this show whenever you can.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Children of Divorce with Andrew Root, PhD

Just like I’ve shared my favorite recipes with you for years, I love to bring you the best ideas for coping with daily life. However, I know this next sentence you may not take seriously. But just try, because it’s gourmet for dealing with something we’ve swept under the rug for decades! Adult children of divorced parents are likely to struggle with personal angst they’ve never felt permission to explore and resolve. There, I said it. As a junior high counselor in the 1970s, I watched divorce become easier and more accepted as I pulled alongside those children in their struggles. I’m still in some of their lives to this day. I saw them blindsided. I saw them get through it. And most of the time, they were told it would be a bump in the road, it wasn’t their fault and it was “better this way for everyone involved.” All of that can be true, but in this week’s show you’ll hear a thirtysomething man (whose parents divorced when he was a young adult) share his extensive research on the pain, potential healing and hope for grown-up “kids” like himself. He says he still has scars from his parents’ divorce, but that he’s whole and healed because of the Christian community to which he and his family belong. Find out what that means in this show. It’s not sitting around in a kids-of-divorced-parents support group. It’s more about being with people who are knitted together in the family of Christ and reach out to one another with mercy and grace as a normal part of living.

Dr. Andrew Root admits kids grow up and get on with their lives, some very successfully. But he says the pain experienced by children of divorce is what he calls “a loss of being.” You can get it back, his research indicates, through soul searching, support and the redemptive power of Christ and the church.
Dr. Root is assistant professor of youth and family ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. He wrote The Children of Divorce. He is very personable -- not bitter -- but concerned about these now grown-up kids. He warns against minimizing the impact of divorce on a child’s life, even the now-adult child. This quote from Dr. Root addresses part of the issue: “As painful as watching the last act of my parents’ marriage was, the problem with divorce, for children, is that its ending is never an ending.” He goes on to say that its secondary effect is to impact a child’s psychological stability.

I wish everyone could read this book and hear this Woman to Woman visit. I believe it to be vitally important to the putting back together of a part of our society that can respond to mending and healing. Dr. Root has done our culture a gigantic favor by writing this book. Please take advantage of it. You may be divorced. Your parents may be. Someone you know is. Pass this on to them. It’s better than any recipe I’ve ever shared! Trust me on this one!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Interracial Marriage: Questions and Support with John Nunes and Pam and Tom

The 1960’s film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? opened conversation about interracial dating and marriage in circles where the topic hadn’t been discussed much until then. Now, according to a report from the Pew Research Center, one in seven new marriages in the U.S. is interracial or interethnic. Those stats would seem to tell us it’s more acceptable these days. Or is it? We explore the tensions and the benefits of interracial relationships this week with John Nunes, president and CEO of the worldwide humanitarian organization, Lutheran World Relief, and with the parents of a daughter in a successful interracial marriage.

My guests are well informed, open about the facts, their personal experiences, feelings and the struggles and successes of their own race relations. This energetic visit brings a whole new perspective to the word “interracial” and on how people -- all created by the same God and who can share blood transfusions -- have more in common than not in common!

This candid show can help us examine our own feelings about interracial relationships as we hear how it’s approached by and affects those involved -- both individuals and families. How much do race and ethnicity matter in your everyday life? And what about interracial marriage? How do your feelings play into that mix, so to speak? Although interracial marriage is on the rise in the U.S., it still remains highly unusual. Unusual enough that interracial couples face some added stressors for their relationship to succeed. I hope you’ll join us to look at interracial marriage, as well as some very basic race issues. John Nunes’ work takes him around the world and immerses him in global issues. Hence he is able to articulate observations that can help us better appreciate and understand the globalization of America, which is happening whether we want it to or not! You’ll be surprised at how he discovered he’s “a person of color”!

Tom and Pam have three adult children and live in Ann Arbor, Mich., a multi-cultural community. One of their daughters opened the door to their understanding of interracial relationships when she became friends with and then dated a person of another race. They share this story with her permission, BTW! The couple tells us when they included neighborhood kids from different races in their family events, it came as no surprise the kids would all get along, paying no attention to differences among themselves. We’ll hear how that relationship developed and continues. How do they deal with their uniqueness as a bi-racial couple? What about grandchildren?

I appreciate, respect and learn from Nunes’ theological insights on the question “Is there even such a thing as race? How does he propose we engage for success in getting along together?” The Pew Study, published February 2010, quotes scholars who say examining interracial marriages is important, as they act as a barometer of sorts for race relations and cultural assimilation. And what again is The Golden Rule when it comes to relationships? What does God have to do with interracial issues, anyway? The Bible makes it clear God holds us accountable for how we treat each other. Hopefully, this show can help us get on track with that in the area of race relations!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

“Sing Your Song” with Vocalist/Songwriter Jetty Rae and Jason Stewart

Sometimes a Woman to Woman show introduces itself to me before the guest even knows it! That happened with this Valentine show. When Jetty Rae performed last fall for the 14th annual Women’s Retreat at Camp Arcadia, Mich., she not only sang her heart out, she grabbed ours with her personality, her message and her tunes! I invited Jetty and her husband/manager Jason Stewart to meet you on this week’s show because when you learn a young couple’s first meeting was through an online search and then you see how beautifully it’s working out, well, that’s some serious W2W talk!

Jetty, a singer-songwriter based out of Ann Arbor, Mich., released her first full-length album Blackberries in 2007; in November 2009 she released her first EP entitled Nobody. She’s been the focus of music entities like who flew her to New York to perform during JetBlue’s opening of the new Terminal at JFK. Oh yeah! Then interviewed her for its Needle In The Haystack series. Her song “I Love You” was selected for a free download of the week and featured on MTV’s up-and-coming artist blog. Most recently, Jetty shared the stage with Sarah McLachlan, Miranda Lambert and the Court Yard Hounds at Lilith Fair in Detroit, where she was selected by Sarah McLachlan and Terry McBride as the featured local artist.

With us, you and me that is, Jetty and Jason talk about all of that and more. I figure everyone has a song; most of us just don’t know how to sing it! She sets an example for that, as she serves the Lord with her “song” in pubs, on main stages, at church youth groups and camps! You’ll hear how she and Jason met and reconciled their differences early on. She comes at life from a Christian perspective. He, on the other hand, wanted no part of that until … You’ll find out where she gets her inspiration, how her mom’s acting company got her started. This show is full of ideas on how to harmonize with those we love musically, spiritually and otherwise. These two tune each other up. Find out how that works … this week on Woman to Woman!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

“Overcome Emotions That Destroy” with Dr. Becca Johnson

Dr. Becca Johnson, with a private practice in Washington State, has been counseling as a licensed psychologist for 20 years. She writes on guilt and child abuse. She co-authored Overcoming Emotions that Destroy to offer practical help in dealing with those angry feelings that trash our relationships. She says we can turn anger into a choice and explains how to overcome anger to use it positively. She’ll walk us through how to accept our anger, examine where it comes from, be honest about how we use it, be open to change and willing to forgive … even to forgive ourselves and, then, and this is brilliant, be willing to feel something besides anger!

The biblical advice found in Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Do not be easily provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” We can actually teach ourselves to minimize our stress and maximize God for the combination that stifles anger. Dr. Johnson reports that all of us have anger issues, so how’s that for leveling the playing field! Bring those issues to our Woman to Woman chat this week. Your relationships will thank you. So will your calmer self!

Here are a couple of quotes on anger to keep in mind in this month of hearts and loving!

“The greatest remedy for anger is delay!” ~ Seneca

“If you let anger get the best of you, it will get the worst of you.” ~ Anon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Choose To See!

When you have tears in your eyes, in your heart, does your worldview have to be tear-stained, too? Pain and sorrow are a part of life we can’t avoid, although we spend a lot of energy trying to. There’s not a person on this planet who will escape sorrow, but this pain can be useful to us. Now we have a peek into the benefits -- the very real, life- saving benefits -- of all of that. It comes from Mary Beth Chapman, the wife of GMA Dove Award-winning recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman. Together they run Show Hope, a non-profit organization that raises awareness of the orphan crisis around the world and provides financial assistance to families wishing to adopt. Mary Beth spent last fall on tour with her family and speaking for “Women of Faith” conferences. The Chapmans have 6 children -- one of whom is in heaven.

Mary Beth joins us this week to describe the nitty gritty of how wrestling with God after the tragic loss of their five-year-old Maria has taught her how to trust Him even more. Her book, Choosing to SEE, proves her point that God is good, even when things seem bad. She believes that no tears are wasted, because God hears a mother’s pain and sorrow and responds with hope and healing, as He daily helps us see His plan for good in the midst of evil.

I hope you'll set aside time just for this thirty minute visit with Mary Beth, with as few distractions as possible. She will speak truth to the deepest part of your soul, as she places your hand in the hand of God for the most difficult part of your journey.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Secrets to Measuring Up Kevin Leman, PhD

If you could understand why you’re so critical of yourself, you’d be surprised how simple it is to lighten up and enjoy life a whole lot more! This is such a favorite topic of psychologist and bestselling author Dr. Kevin Leman that he writes about it in his latest book, Why Your Best Is Good Enough. Dr. Leman is a former consulting psychologist for Good Morning America and a frequent guest on The View and the Today Show. So right away, you know you can expect a lively chat with him this week on Woman to Woman®!

You will sit up and take notice when Dr. Leman insists, “No matter what’s happened in your life, you are not a failure.” He means it and can prove it, and you can hang your hat on what he says to be true! You’ll leave this show with useful ideas to help you be comfortable with who you are and move on to believing that God had a great idea in creating you with the gifts -- and even the idiosyncrasies -- you have. Find out why it’s great to be you; you might be surprised! You’ll definitely want to listen twice!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Peace of Mind or Mind in Pieces?

Think about this verse -- Proverbs 12:25: “Anxiety in a [woman’s] heart weighs her down.”

You know that what rolls around in your head can keep you on edge and anxious. As women, generally speaking, we tend to take messages in, regardless of whether they’re true or not. Then they take on a life of their own and we’re off and running -- usually running into something we didn’t bargain for! We make mountains out of molehills and dissect a perfectly good situation until we can’t put the pieces back together again.

This week you’ll meet Debbie Holley who’s been encouraging women for thirty years. She describes us as “mental hoarders” -- but also says we have options to change! Debbie knows women; she knows we’re hard on ourselves. So she came up with a teaching series, part of which she’ll share with us Woman to Woman®. Debbie explains how we think and how to monitor ourselves when the thoughts cycling through our heads are counterproductive in our lives. Consider what’s going on in your life right now…and then tune in and learn how to choose which way to live -- with a mind in pieces or with peace of mind!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chance to Start Over

If you were offered a chance to start over again, would you take it? Or does that seem like finding a genie in a bottle, just make believe? For those of us who experience addictions, a second chance is exactly what we need. It’s what this week’s Woman to Woman® guest, award-winning vocalist and songwriter Sonia Lee, used to overcome her battle with alcohol. She’s changed her personal choices and her tune since she discovered God is the Lord of second chances. She’ll share all that -- and sing for us, too!

Alcohol isn’t the only addiction her solution addresses. Whatever grabs more of your devotion than it should, whatever drives your bus onto the wrong “highway” of life, whatever consumes you is an addiction. Hear about the possibilities for alternatives to that, how to one-up that addiction with something even more satisfying through a relationship with Jesus Christ, this week on Woman to Woman!