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As a writer, needle artist and photographer, I invite you to share my pursuits with me on this site. Among other things, there is a weekly post called “D-mail” that examines the spiritual meaning in current stories, both personal and news events.  I invite your comments at  cathycongerblog@gmail.com

“The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.”  N. Platt

Sadly, no one has shown an interest in buying our house yet, so we wait a little longer.  In the meantime, plans continue on the new house!  It’s been over 10 years (we remodeled our 1977 kitchen at that time)  since we have had to think about kitchen design.  With the opportunity to build a new kitchen from scratch, I have a chance to plan the latest efficient gadgets for it.  Even better, I can have a convenient place to store everything I need!  A wise friend advised me to take inventory of my present kitchen, getting rid of the things I never use and listing everything else.  With that done, I sketched out a general cupboard, appliance, and island design.  The evening before we were to meet with the cabinetry people, I took my inventory and began to virtually put everything in its most convenient place.  When we got to the cabinetry shop the next day, we sat down with a decorator and a kitchen designer and began to make sense of all I’d written.  We changed quite a few things and added substantially to the size of the island.  I chose wide, deep drawers, instead of cupboards, to store my dishes, pots and pans, and casserole dishes in.  On one end of the island, I designed a baking center, complete with a cupboard for my mixer which, when opened, pops the mixer up to counter height!  The kitchen cabinets will be white shaker.  The island will be dark wood Shaker with a Formica calacatta marble top.  The other countertop will be a Formica Navy blue surface with white subway tile back splash.  Both baths will have Shaker cabinets.  The vanity in the guest bath will be painted a beachy, mint green, while master bath cabinets will be white. It took nearly 5 hours to plan out the kitchen, bathroom cabinetry for 2 bathrooms, cabinets for the laundry room and mudroom, and the built in shelving for the living room.  We designed a half wall between the diningroom and four season room.  On the diningroom side we designed wine storage shelving.  On the four season side will be bookcases. I’m doing the laundry room with white cabinets, a retro turquoise countertop and red washer and dryer!  The mudroom will have a white wood locker design on one wall with a black counter along the adjoining wall for setting down things you bring in from the car.  The mudroom colors will be kiwi green and black, designed to be cheery during the long winter. We came away from the shop exhausted but I feel wonderful about our decisions.

Next stop was the flooring and tile store.  It’s a good thing that the decisions we made there aren’t set in stone, because since then I have changed my color schemes completely.   We did nail down a beautiful blue tile for our fireplace surround.  They told us that it was going to be discontinued soon so we ordered what we need this week. The hearth will be calacatta marble.  Because we only need a relatively small piece of marble, we are keeping our eyes peeled for just the right remnant at the stone places.

At Door County Interiors I had seen a sofa table I really liked, but I thought I would look for one that had more storage.  Well, as far as I can tell after hours and hours searching online, there is no such thing in the finish I want.  So we went back to Door County Interiors and bought the sofa table (and it turns out that this table is being discontinued so I’m glad we did).  I decided that I can store things in baskets on the shelf at the bottom.  The cool thing about the table is that the top is hinged like a drop leaf table to give you an oval top perfect for buffets.  Then I saw an end table that goes with it perfectly!  All in all, it was a very productive weekend.

The builder is getting permits now, which can take awhile. At this point, we have plenty of “awhiles” .  Once again, we are in a holding pattern until our house sells.  There doesn’t seem to be anything left to pick out for the new house except back at the flooring store, light fixtures, and the design for the walk-in closet in our bedroom.  I have purchased some things online, such as the headboard and nightstands for the guest bedroom and yards of red tartan plaid fabric to make a duvet cover for that bed.  It took me hours online to find that plaid fabric!  I bought 3 lamps at Home Goods and a rope wrapped round table at a nautical store.

This weekend we’re heading to Minneapolis to shop at IKEA for closet and pantry fixtures and to celebrate our son-in-law’s birthday.  I wish I had photos to make this house-building journey more fun to follow.  Rest assured that as soon as the bulldozer revs up to break ground on the new house, there will be lots of photos.  If you’re curious about the house we are selling, go to www.trulia.com  and look for the house at 510 Bruce Lane in Wisconsin Rapids, WI.  If you know anyone who might be interested, send them to that website or they can call Coldwell Banker in Wisconsin Rapids. We’ve had sooo much rain that my husband can’t keep up with the mowing.  Weeds are growing, well like…weeds!  Keeping the house picked up and cleaned all the time is getting old, but I don’t mind if the house sells.

Minnesota farm after a thunderstorm

Minnesota farm after a thunderstorm

Boe Chapel St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

Boe Chapel St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

Puffins nesting on Haystack Rock - Cannon Beach

Puffins nesting on Haystack Rock - Cannon Beach

Sundown at Cannon Beach

Sundown at Cannon Beach

Oregon coast on rainy day

Oregon coast on rainy day

Oregon Coast near Cannon beach

Oregon Coast near Cannon beach

Oregon coastal highway

Oregon coastal highway

view of beach from Oregon coastal highway

view of beach from Oregon coastal highway

Estuary on rainy day - Oregon coast

Estuary on rainy day - Oregon coast

Oysters for lunch anyone?

Oysters for lunch anyone?

My son and his wife at U of Oregon

My son and his wife at U of Oregon

Sweet Cheeks Vineyard near Eugene, OR

Sweet Cheeks Vineyard near Eugene, OR

After the storm - Minnesota

After the storm - Minnesota

Pacific coast - Cannon Beach, OR

Pacific coast - Cannon Beach, OR

My grandchildren

My grandchildren

Snow covered Long's Peak viewed from my son's balcony

Snow covered Long

Fountain in rose garden in Portland, OR

Fountain in rose garden in Portland, OR

A rosebud in Portland

A rosebud in Portland

Sun through the clouds over Long's peak

Sun through the clouds over Long

The following is an excerpt from a book on living with fibromyalgia entitled The Unchosen Path, written by Laurie Hope.
I found it to be helpful in my fibromyalgia journey. I hope it helps you too.

The Unchosen Path

“Everyone seeks to be happy. But when we physically feel lousy, our external sources for happiness are not so easily accessible. Sometimes the suffering of illness lies not so much in its accompanying physical sensations, but in the personal sense of diminishment and the social isolation and separation it brings. As the body contracts, life contracts as well. Nothing is left unchanged-our relationship to ourselves, our families, and our social world. Because of this, illness causes us to reprioritize our lives, separating the nonessential from the essential. Basic questions of life’s purpose and meaning take on new poignancy as we question the very value of our time here.

Illness can be a gentle nudge or a jolting wake-up call that motivates us to reexamine our lives and lifestyles. Because illness exposes our imbalances and weaknesses, it acts as a psychological magnifier that may uncover unacknowledged but deep-rooted feelings that our previously busy lives may have effectively masked. Some of these feelings may appear to be caused by the illness, but really they were there all along. Because they can no longer be denied, they can finally be attended to and healed.

Whether we accept the challenge to heal willingly or go down the path kicking and screaming, illness takes us on a descent to our depths. The path to the underworld is opened. It may not be a path we have consciously chosen, but it is the one on which we find ourselves. Here we have the opportunity to mine the gems that can only be found in the deep and dark places.

So many spiritual paths have certain austerities or sacrifices that are prescribed. Why do they do this? Maybe to cause us to wrestle with the will of the ego-to develop a spiritual muscle that will be a worthy adversary for the ego’s tenacity. A chronic illness can serve this same function. It motivates us to explore the edge between personal responsibility and God’s will. It demands sacrifice. The ego’s wishes are impersonally ignored by the dysfunctions of the body. Illness insists that we let go of innumerable desires and gives us the opportunity to develop the generosity of heart that can become our salvation.

We know by the example of many saints and spiritual masters that they are not immune to the afflictions of the body. But they also show us that there can be joy and divine realization despite the body. Drawing close to God and seeking His truth is cultivated by withdrawing from the distractions of worldly life and retreating. In some ways, an illness provides the perfect opportunity for such spiritual training: removal from ordinary society, solitude, quiet, turning inward, self-examination. If we’re lucky enough to be able to take time off from the demands of the outer world, we can use this time to learn to free ourselves from the personal patterns that contribute to much of our suffering. As our perceptions shift and our worldview opens, how we relate to our bodies and their illnesses also shifts. As we discover that our essential wholeness exists independent of the body and mind, we see that eventually all paths converge.

How we struggle with illness often reflects our spiritual struggle. When we ask, Why can’t I permanently sustain those precious moments of clarity, bliss, or health? we must remember that just as illness requires infinite patience, so does spiritual progress. As one of my teachers said, “The true spiritual path is arduous and demanding, involving one insult after another.”

Illness does not necessarily teach us anything. It can be viewed as a mere annoyance or a great tragedy. But it can also be a great teacher and provider of endless opportunities to understand the nature of reality and to develop compassion for ourselves and all others. Through unexpected discoveries I have found that the path of illness, though arduous, can be a rich and honorable one.

FROM VARIOUS CHAPTERS IN THE BOOK:

I used to think that I could enlighten myself out of feeling depressed. If depression is the result of a negative belief system, then it is alterable. But if depression is the by-product of the imbalanced brain chemistry of a disease process, then all my letting go and great perspective and egolessness may not change the tendency toward sadness and negative thinking. Since the enlightened transcendence of depression doesn’t seem to be my present fate, I’ve decided to practice “enlightened depression”-depression coexisting with everything else that is here; depression free from self-blame; depression free from shame; depression that does not separate me from others but rather reminds me of my common humanity. I am not depressed because I hate life-I am depressed because I love life and long for a more energetic involvement with it. This perception takes me to a more fundamental identification-myself as a life-loving creature-connected, involved, part of the unfathomable drama.

_______________

One day I was asking for guidance about what was needed for my healing and I heard a wise voice saying, “Rest.” Gently, but imperatively. Well, that’s usually the first and most obvious advice that’s given to a sick person, but not exactly what I wanted to hear. I hate resting-it feels like a waste of time. I should be engaging in acts of charity and kindness, be fighting for justice and world peace or be alleviating the suffering of others. Where’s the rest in all that? Then I realized that “rest” didn’t necessarily refer to my worldly activities. What needed rest was my mind. A good, long rest. Rest from the demands of an ego that wants to do and be good. The mind that thinks it has to be doing something is not at rest. And yet the rested mind is effortlessly inspired to right action. It may turn out that resting could be my greatest contribution.

_______________

I’ve added a second Golden Rule: Thou shalt not compare thyself. Doing so is always deadly. Not only is it disastrous to compare myself to others, but also to compare myself to a memory of my former healthy self or to an image of my idealized future self. When I catch myself comparing, I know it’s because I’m having a hard time accepting things as they are. When I remember that comparison is only a matter of relative perspective that depends on your vantage point, it becomes easier to embrace all the seeming inequities of life.

_______________

It is in the moment of the full accepting of my brokenness that my essential wholeness becomes apparent, and then it is clear that nothing needs fixing. The wholeness includes the brokenness. Not the thought that “I will be whole someday when I have improved myself or become more loving or gotten healthy.” I am whole now. As I am. Like this. And so are you. Just like you are now. When we can love our own broken or even rotten places, we can love one another as ourselves. I am not a human doing; I am a human being!

_______________

Pain usually involves contraction. Therefore, visualize expansion and limitless space. Illness involves stagnation. Therefore, visualize movement and flow. Anxiety chokes the breath, therefore, breathe deeply. Notice when and with whom you are most relaxed and choose that circumstance as often as possible.”

_______________

My Mom and Dad resting at the kitchen table

My Mom and Dad resting at the kitchen table

Realtor told us to paint neutral!

Realtor told us to paint neutral!

boxes, boxes, boxes

boxes, boxes, boxes

more boxes for the storage unit

more boxes for the storage unit

It's a sunroom again

It is a sunroom again after years as an office

new sofa

new sofa

Stained glass window replaced with clear

(Stained glass window replaced with clear)

I have been lax about blogging for the past few weeks because of all the work getting our house ready to sell.  My parents came out from Pittsburgh to help and have a visit.  Since they are in their 80’s, we gave them less strenuous tasks.  Dad, however, insisted on doing all sorts of strenuous things.  While they were here, we packed everything that the realtor told us needed to be gone in order to stage the house.  Consequently, there were stacks of boxes in the garage bound for the storage unit.  I lost count of how many vanful’s of stuff went to Goodwill!  Then there were the various items we sold on Craig’s List.  The storage unit we are renting is now full of all the things we want to move to our new house.  Mom and I worked for days organizing my sewing room.  She thinks I could open a fabric shop! She may be right.  I sent 12 large Rubbermaid totes full of fabric to the storage unit and organized everything else in 14 more. It looks so nice in there that I don’t want to mess it up by sewing!

Painting  became a major project, but first wallpaper had to be stripped.  What a ghastly, nasty job!  We had pieces of sticky wallpaper all over the place after steaming the paper off.  Our baseboards are mostly dark stained wood and were really beat up after 36 years in the house.  Dad spruced up all those baseboards.  I continued to clean up and organize the basement.  The new sofa and loveseat we had ordered for the new house arrived in the middle of all this wrapped in plastic.  Since we had given our family room furniture to our daughter and son-in-law, we decided to unwrap the plastic and give ourselves something to sit on!  The new furniture is beautiful, by the way.

Yesterday I organized all my yarn and knitting supplies into giant ziploc bags, leaving out several projects to work on. That just leaves the front coat closet to clean out.  I know there is a mammoth video recorder from the 1980’s in there!  So today the painter is finishing touchup painting all over the house and refinishing some doors.  He painted 3 rooms this week as well.  The carpet cleaners just finished so there’s furniture piled all over the place. My husband and I have been cleaning the crystal chandeliers.  We’ve taken the smaller ones apart to wash but the 2 big ones are a different story.  I learned how to do it from an innkeeper where we stayed last summer.  I’d commented on how sparkly her big chandelier was.  She told me that to clean it you place a sheet of plastic and old towels on the table under the chandelier, turn off the lights, and fill a spray bottle with a mixture of warm water and isopropyl alcohol.  Then spray the whole chandelier.  When it is done dripping, it will dry sparkling clean!

Tomorrow we’ll place the furniture back in the rooms, set out the accessories, vacuum and put away all the paint brushes, tools, etc.  Friday the realtor comes to take photos of the interior to put on their website.  Before he leaves, he’ll put the sign in the yard.  It still hasn’t hit me emotionally that after 36 years, we will be leaving our home, the home where we raised our five kids.  Maybe when it stands empty and the moving van is pulling away, I’ll let myself cry.  The big stained glass window with our initial in the center that we had an artist make when we built the house has been removed, replaced with a clear window, and crated.  It’s a part of our home we are taking with us to the next one.  I really hope the house sells soon though, so we can get on with our plans to build our retirement home in Door County, Wisconsin. I’ll keep you posted.

This comes from Ron Hutchcraft and I thought it was very good.

It’s time to wash the bathrobes again - for the boys to wear in the Christmas pageant. Like thousands of boys at Christmastime, I, too, was drafted into being one of those shepherds. I’m not sure my bathrobe got washed any other time of the year actually. Not to be petty, but I always thought the guys playing the wise men had a better deal. They got to wear some fancy clothes, and they had something to give to Baby Jesus when they came - I think we used to call it gold, frankenstein, and myyrh. But not us shepherds. Oh, no! Since the Bible doesn’t describe any specific gift the shepherds brought, we came empty handed. I thought we looked a little cheap. But I’ve learned something since then.

What the shepherds gave Jesus must have meant far more to Him than any treasure the wise men brought. It’s a gift that is within your power to give - but one that all too few of His followers ever offer Him.

Our Christmas word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 2 , beginning with verse 15. The shepherds have just gotten heaven’s birth announcement from the angelic choir. They know the baby they’re going looking for is “the Savior … Christ the Lord.” The Bible then goes on to say: “The shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’” The shepherds, of course, found the baby in the manger as announced. And then, “when they had seen Him, they spread the word about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”

Well, there it is - the great gift the shepherds gave Jesus - the gift He wants from you. They told people who hadn’t met Jesus about their Savior. They seemed to understand instinctively that when you “come and see” Jesus for yourself, then you “go and tell” about Him to people who have not seen Him. And if you belong to Jesus, my guess is that there are a number of people in your personal world who have yet to see or hear who Jesus really is. You can’t imagine one day without Jesus. They’ve never lived one day with Jesus. When Jesus sent someone to tell you the good news about a Savior who had come here for you, He didn’t mean for you to just “go and hoard it” or “go and sit on it” - He’s trusted you to go and tell it to someone you know whose eternity depends on it.

We tend to think that communicating Jesus is something we delegate to a “pro” - a pastor, an evangelist, someone with all the training. But the plan of Jesus was evident from the day He arrived - that everyday believers be the ones to tell people about Him. Who could have been more everyday than cultural rejects like shepherds? But they were the first spiritual rescuers that ever spread the life-saving news about the Savior. And there’s only one way every unbeliever is going to have a chance at Jesus, or a chance at heaven, and that’s if every one of us believers becomes a rescuer. Your commitment to Jesus that you will do whatever it takes to bring some people He died for to heaven with you - that’s a gift that will bring Him incredible joy.
Jesus says He wants to trade our bondages for freedom, our mourning for comfort, our ugly ashes for something beautiful, and our despair for praise. And liberation from so much that’s dark in life is rooted in wearing that garment of praise, no matter what situation we’re in. Praise can set you free from discouragement, self-pity, frustration, bitterness, even grief. And, on any given day, there’s always something to praise Him for.

The word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. - John 1:14

Not only did the Son of God become a baby, but also he became flesh. Divinity joined to corporeal muscle, blood and bones. In this humbling of the eternal Son of God, the Word who was with God from the beginning and was God, chose to begin in the way all flesh does-as a newborn.

But what does “flesh” really mean? Doesn’t it sound a bit crass?

In the Bible, the word “flesh” points to a number of different realities. Literally, it means “the body,” the tissues and bones and fluids that are common to any human being living anywhere in the world at any time. The body is the jar of clay in which God has placed treasures. Consequently, at another level, “flesh” can mean “humanity” or “human nature.” To speak of “flesh and blood” refers to the humanness that you share with your family, friends, and people you’ve never met. And at a different level, “flesh” can mean “fallen, flawed, human.” “The flesh” is shorthand in Paul’s epistles for intrinsic human nature-broken and fallible. But there is one exception. One human life that was not
flawed and full of sin-Jesus’.

“The word became flesh.” It means that the Son of God became human-really, truly human-with the exception that he had no sin. Christmas is a time of awe because the best news the human race ever received was that its Creator had so much love, that he joined the human race to save it. He is a savior who experienced real hunger, real fatigue, real sorrow. He faced temptation when the Evil One tempted him in the wilderness with very “fleshy” things like power, wealth, and authority (Luke 4:1-13).

Jesus knows us, because he was one of us. Real flesh, but perfect. So on those days when we are so disappointed with ourselves because we are having a hard time controlling the flesh, this is the kind of savior to turn to.


‘Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she’ll give you a baby If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart.
She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of .’

Scripture: II Corinthians 1: 3-5 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Psalm 37:3 Trust in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land (settle down and hold on to the last) and you will feed surely on God’s faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed (in return).

OUR STRENGTH RETURNS WHEN WE LEND IT TO SOMEONE ELSE

I spent this past week out in Colorado visiting my son, his wife, and my two grandchildren while my husband attended a medical conference in Denver. I was somewhat concerned when we left because my fibromyalgia pain was rearing its ugly head and I felt drained. You don’t want to feel drained when you spend a week with a three and a five year old! However, we had promised to watch Katie and Andy while our son and his wife took a very much needed weekend away and I also wanted to be a help to them through their crazy busy work week. What I found remarkable was that helping them and caring for the children made me feel better. Oh, the pain didn’t let up; I just didn’t have the opportunity to pay attention to it. Although I had some rough nights and am now ready to soak in a hot tub and sleep for a day, I praise God for giving me the strength I needed to not only help out where I was needed, but to enjoy it! God has been faithful through 26 years of illness to lift me up when I needed to be on deck and to give me the opportunities to use my pain to help others, if in no other way than being understanding and compassionate.

In II Corinthians 1: 3-5 Paul says,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

I like to think that is why God has allowed me to experience the profound fatigue, pain, depression, and brain-fog that are the hallmarks of fibromyalgia. He knew I needed to move beyond my pain and weakness to do something good for someone else who was hurting in the same way. Rather than curling up in a dark corner with my pain and fatigue wrapped around me in a blanket of selfishness, God commanded me to reach out and do good. When I obeyed him, he turned my distress into wings upon which quite a few people’s answers could ride. And, in turn, He sent others to comfort me.

Our human nature is to turn inward when trouble comes our way. We look around to see who is going to help us. The truth is that what we need the most is often a byproduct of meeting a need in someone else’s life. And it is certainly true that when you look around, you are most certainly going to find someone who is suffering a lot more than you are, right? If I am in pain, I can find someone who is in agony. If I am physically disabled, I can find someone who is quadriplegic. If I am struggling financially, I can walk the streets and see the destitute. If I am lonely and depressed, I can look into the eyes of a thousand who are lonelier and more depressed. Christian radio speaker and author, Cynthia Ruchti, wrote,

Moving from helpless to helper is not so much a matter of physical ability as it is a matter of the heart. You will be amazed at how miraculously your own needs will be met when you stop focusing on them and instead focus on lifting someone else’s burden.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 37 gave us a prescription for fighting discouragement amidst suffering. In verse three he wrote,

Trust in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land (settle down and hold on to the last) and you will feed surely on God’s faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed (in return).

We don’t find it unusual in difficult circumstances to hear the advice ” trust the Lord”, but look at the rest of the prescription; do good. God carries the thought beyond trust to action. The last thing I feel like doing in a crisis is to do a good deed, and yet that’s what God asks. He says that when we feed on His faithfulness and do good, we will be fed. In times of crisis, the ones we call heroes are the ones who stop wallowing, pick themselves up, and use what strength God gives them to help the other victims around them. The Bible tells us that somehow, miraculously, our problems fade and our strength returns when we lend it to someone else. Suffering is all around us and yet, when we are called to endure hardships or pain, we seem to think that we are the only ones that are experiencing it, don’t we? I am certainly not belittling anyone’s suffering. I know only too well what it feels like. Perhaps this D-mail message was meant for me! Anyway, if it grabs your attention as it has mine this week, I hope you will remember to trust God and do good.

Prayer : Lord, I praise you for your faithfulness in times of pain and distress. I trust that you know better than I what I truly need to survive painful times. Thank you for putting needy people in my path to pull me out of my cocoon of suffering. Thank you for using me and the experiences with depression, pain, and distresses that I have survived through your mercy, to make me more compassionate. Help me to comfort others as I have been comforted. Amen

Scripture: So be very careful how you live. Do not live like those who are not wise, but live wisely. Use every chance you have for doing good, because these are evil times. So do not be foolish but learn what the Lord wants you to do. Ephesians 5:15-17

Luke 12:48 Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.

Be Informed

Have you been listening to the speeches at the Republican national convention this week? I have been learning more about the candidates from hearing the speeches and analysis on TV. Unless you are cut off from the media altogether, you can’t help but learn something about all of the candidates who are running for office in November, including the highest office in our land.

I find it very interesting that the first Mormon is running alongside a born again Catholic against the first sitting African American President. Our times are certainly a lot different than one generation ago, aren’t they? Don’t worry. I’m not going to comment on Mormonism or Catholicism, nor am I going to encourage you to vote any particular way for any of the candidates. What I want to do in this D-mail is to remind you of the great privilege and duty you have as an American citizen to vote, and vote intelligently, for the people who will lead us in the coming years.

I believe God charges us to gain as much wisdom as we can about the issues and candidates. In the next two months, there will be a plethora of forums from which you can gather information about the candidates and their stance on the many crucial issues set before America. I know that God wants us to pray for our country and the many candidates who are seeking office as well as for our fellow citizens who will be voting in November. I believe that God has given us the freedom to choose our leaders and the responsibility to choose wisely. Our vote can bring about good or it can support evil. The apostle Paul told the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:15-17), who were living in dangerous times as well, to be very careful how they lived. They were to live wisely amongst people who did not agree with their beliefs. They were to take every chance they had to do good to those people. He told them to learn what the Lord wanted them to do.

At this time in our nation’s history, we need to elect those who will seek God for guidance and learn what God wants them to do for America. If you have not taken the time to learn about not only the candidates for President, but those who are running for Senate and House both at the federal and state level, now is the time to do it! Read newspapers from various biases, read the candidates’ websites, watch a variety of news programs on TV, listen to the radio broadcasts that can inform you. Tune out the mud-slinging and get to the real issues. It is your duty as an American and as a Christian. If you haven’t done your homework, how can you decide wisely for whom to vote? And if you don’t vote your conscience, then you will be responsible for the life you will be leading under a leader you don’t approve of.

Luke 12:48b says, “Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” We have been given great freedoms in America and therefore, much is required of us as citizens to influence the future of our state, our country and even our world. Experience has taught us that much, hasn’t it? So, I charge you to do your homework before the first Tuesday of November. Take any opportunities to share your position as a Christian voter with others. And when November comes, I charge you to get out and vote – no excuses. If you don’t know where to look to find information on the candidates, please write to me. I can at least share with you the resources I have found to be helpful.

Prayer: Lord God, I thank you that I live in a country that allows me to speak my mind and find truthful information on those who run for government office. I lift this supremely important election before your throne. You know what our future holds in all phases of life. I pray that as you see into the hearts and lives of the people who will lead us, that those who have integrity and want to do your will will be elected. I pray that our nation will get straightened out financially, morally, and spiritually as we lean on you to make it happen. I pray especially for the Presidential race. Help us to know the hearts of the men who want the office and may the best one succeed to the office in November. And Lord, I also pray for those who are facing homelessness, danger, destruction, and financial ruin because of the hurricane and flooding. Provide for them, Lord, and send them help through your church. In Jesus name, Amen

At the end of my  week at the Writers Confernce, my husband, Chuck, drove down to Green Lake to join me for a weekend at the Angel Inn B&B in Green Lake.  It was his birthday and we celebrated by swimming, taking a boat ride around the lake, sipping wine on our lakefront balcony, eating out, going to a flea market and shopping for furniture.  We highly recommend Angel Inn! Food was excellent, the owners were friendly and charming, and our room was luxurious.  I’ll post some photos soon.