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Do You Believe in Ghosts?

January 22nd, 2009 by stephanie

 When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. – Matt. 8:16

There Are Definitely Two Sides. And Both Play for Keeps.

January 22nd, 2009 by stephanie

As I entered the store to pick up the item I had left for repair, I could not have imagined the conversation with the customer service person that was about to unfold.

After helping him locate my vacuum, we headed to the front counter. It was then that we heard something in the back room fall, and we looked at each other. Both us knew he and I were the only ones in the store. “That’s been happening a lot lately,” he exclaimed. He then quickly walked over to a shelf and proceeded to tell me about how a few other items mysteriously had been falling in the front show room as well.

I began to casually ask some simple questions. Which led to deeper levels of discussion as he seemed very engaged in the process. Within time, he shared that his mother had gone to a psychic when she was pregnant with him which resulted in quite a litany of details. Like what the baby’s height would be, the color of his eyes, and that he would grow up to change the world. “That last part’s not exactly happening right now.” He replied a bit sheepishly. I learned that he had a trust fund, was a college graduate and was going to head off to Central America for 10 days in about a week or so. While still employed in this sales job. Which seemed to keep promoting him.

But it was the story about the six to seven foot creature dressed in deep black that appeared at the edge of his bed pacing one night when he was a child, that caught my attention. We chatted a bit about that harrowing experience, and he admitted he’d only told one other person. He asked me what I thought about that experience.

“Well,” I carefully replied, while breathing a quick prayer for wisdom, “I can tell you this. There is definitely a spiritual realm. As you have now experienced. You don’t have to believe that it is true. You can believe the sky is green if you want to. But your chosen belief doesn’t make it a reality. There are definitely two sides. And both play for keeps.”

His eyes were glued to me at this point, and he asked what I suggested. Naturally, this young man was bright. He had accomplished some 400 level math or physics, or something. And if you are a numbers person, you probably know what that means. Truly a sharp cookie. So I encouraged him to give the Bible a try. “Just read it to enjoy it,” I shared. “Try starting with the book of John, and don’t over analyze it. Don’t try to prove anything. Let it talk to you.” He marveled at this prescription. But I assured him, he’d find it worth his time.

When he reached out to shake my hand and thank me, I did notice that he looked a bit more relaxed than he had a few minutes earlier. It was as if a big question had been addressed, and perhaps an answer was out there. Waiting just for him. I assured him, there was. And that when he found it, there would be peace.

“So, there’s no gray in that realm, eh?” he asked. “Nope. Not in their world.” I smiled. “There are definitely two sides, like I said. And they both play for keeps. You can choose either one. But when it’s all said and done, and you get to the other side? I can tell you that one of them will be a much better deal.”

With that, we said our goodbyes and I headed out the door. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I couldn’t imagine what other adventures might lie ahead. After all, I had just gone out to run an errand. Who knew?


From George Washington’s Original Inaugural Address

January 21st, 2009 by stephanie

    “… it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.

Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.”

– George Washington. 1st President of the United States. 1789. 

People just don’t write or talk like that much these days.  Hard to believe a country full of farmers and fisherman stood and listened to every word he said.  And understood it. What an amazing speech that must have been. What a wonderful group of people. We are grateful to them and most blessed.

Here’s to America. And to the God who made it so.


A Thought for This Day.

January 20th, 2009 by stephanie

“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation.

You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

The late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931 to 2005

January 19th, 2009 by stephanie

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (Phil 4:8 MSG)

January 19th, 2009 by stephanie

I had the serendipity of modeling during a temporary interlude between Twiggy and Kate Moss, when it was actually okay for women to look as if we ate and enjoyed life.

– Cybil Shepherd

Not What They Say, But What They Do.

January 19th, 2009 by stephanie

The name Jerry Springer, when said out loud, results in not only a few guffaws but pointed comments and even shakings of the head. The show basically outs a lot of deception and exposes behind the scenes actions. If you don’t know much about Jerry Springer, personally, you might be surprised. Not only was he the mayor of Cincinnati at one point, but his grandparents, aunts, and uncles were all victims of the holocaust. They did not survive. When you know that info, that last fact especially, you seem to suddenly have a bit more empathy for the guy that has such a bizarre TV show to his credit. When you hear him talk or see him interviewed, he can be quite impressive.

You can think you know someone. But then, when it all comes down, do you really know them? A person can be attractive, attentive, kind, appear to be thoughtful, but when it all comes down…. It’s the person that you don’t see when your back is turned–that can be a very different story.

We all come to the table with different backgrounds and experiences. And because of that fact, we respond to situations and scenarios differently then the person next to us. That is just how it is. As I grow a bit older and wiser I begin to understand that it’s not necessarily what we say, but rather, what we do as people that is remembered. Sure, words sting and we can in fact remember them forever. But when you pull back and take stock of a person’s actions, that’s when we get a clearer picture of who they are.

I remember being shocked when I heard the rumors about Bing Crosby. Supposedly he was quite a mean person. Who knew? Apparently, one of his sons claims that he beat his kids. Some folks say that was the just way people raised their children back then. It was different from our present parenting culture by huge standards. What one person considers strict then another considers as abuse now.

Some times we just have a bad day, or might not feel well, to name a few reasons. And on that day, some pretty rough words can come out. Or, perhaps we are a bit nasty or rude. It’s times like these, when it happens to me, that I am learning to pull back and say, hmmmm, let me reflect on that person’s actions. They don’t exactly match their words right now. And if the actions speak the opposite, I can pretty much get a real feel for the moment at hand and move on with my life.

On the flip side, a person can say all the right things, but those sentences will not always be recalled if they have done something hurtful or offensive in the past. It’s who we are and what we do that, at the end of the day, truly counts. For example, if I show up at questionable places, if the history on my computer isn’t something I’d share with my church friends, that is pretty telling. Again, it’s the “what” I do, that tells folks who I am inside.

When I read the New Testament, I don’t see a lot of words of Christ, but I sure see a lot of action. He did a lot. And he did a lot of good.

When you come across a person or a situation this week that throws you, ask if you need to not so much focus on the words but perhaps review their actions. Does their past behavior toward you match? If not, then take a step back and think it through a bit more. If that person is usually there for you when the chips are down, has your back, and has a record of showing you they care, then let the moment slide. You’ll probably be glad you did.

I know it’s a challenge for me. And one I hope that is a positive thought for you too.



January 18th, 2009 by stephanie

Prov. 18:22

He who finds a wife finds a good thing

And obtains favor from the LORD.  (NAS)

Don’t You Want to Get Married?

January 18th, 2009 by stephanie

“Don’t you want to get married?” I love that question. Or, there’s always the “Don’t you think it’s because your expectations are too high?” That coming from the mouth of a divorced flight attendant recently as he leaned over the seat in front of me pouring out his wisdom of the ages.

I sat there for a moment, then had to wonder, do people ever ask themselves if their expectations weren’t high enough? Hmmmmm.

“Well”, you surmise, “it’s obvious. Your situation never posed a male/female, family environment. You were not ready for or groomed to be capable of marriage. You had no training.”

You know, that’s fine. I can appreciate that thought. But I don’t know that I buy it. Not when I personally see a lot of marriages that consist of two people who did not evolve from a Beaver Cleaver household or environment and they are not only making it work, they are thriving!  And too, I never planned to be single. Family is precious to me. I thought it would happen.

So, you ask me again in frustration, “Why aren’t you married then?”

Like I mentioned earlier, I just have not yet found the person I fell I will  grow old with and who mutually wants to grow old with me. It’s that simple.

When I originally wrote the above, I was caring for my 95-year-old grandfather. He had in turn, cared for my grandmother for 5 years. She had alzheimers. And I watched that man personally handle her until they both collapsed of pneumonia and had to be admitted. He to the hospital, and she to a private full-care living facility. He then drove to see her every day (in his 90s), for 6 hours, until she died. 3 years later! To be honest, I just don’t see a lot of us out there that show signs of willingness to care for each other the way my grandfather role modeled. I know. Sounds harsh. But I think about it.

Now you might be saying, “You’re not getting any younger.” True. But, when I take a good look at my current situation, I also realize that I do not have the ex-wife factor in my life, fatherless children, and in-laws living in my basement – yet. I am not living with a man that makes me secretly wonder if he will care for me should I go senile and, I don’t follow a husband around wondering where he is at night, and with whom he is spending his time. Someday, perhaps. And if those scenarios ensue, so be it. But for today, it’s just me and the dog, and we’re O.K.

Now hold on! Before you write me off as anti-marriage or negative, let me divulge a bit further. The point of this little diatribe of sorts is merely to stress this point: I think people are finally beginning to realize that marriage is work –Hard Work. And it is work that I would like to do with a partner who wants to work at it as much as I do. Call me crazy, but that’s about the truth.


And too, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to avoid getting married just to be, well, married. On more ocasions than I can remember, girls have told me, “That’s just what you did. No questions asked. You got married.” I think there is a nobleness to that as well.  In that marriage institution was so encouraged and promoted, people just went for it.  But I do feel a lot entered the union rather unprepared for the long haul.

I am definitely no Socrates, but I do like to think things through. Hmmmmm. Maybe a bit too much???



Who Am I, and Why Am I Here?

January 17th, 2009 by stephanie

If you don’t recall those words, they are part of a famous line from a Vice Presidential debate where Admiral Stockdale, then the running mate with Presidential candidate Ross Perot, found himself suddenly on the national stage and in the spotlight.

Sometimes I too look around and say, “Wow. How did I get here?”  I have not-yet-married.  I came close. Twice. But I just couldn’t take the leap. I, like my grandmother and my mother, found that I too had grown up and gotten single.

Why didn’t I marry when I had the chance? Well, I guess the truth is I have not found the person that I knew was the person I wanted to grow old with. Probably sounds a bit arrogant to some, but in my heart, that is the honest truth. And too, when I was younger, perhaps I had that feeling deep down inside that I had something to accomplish in life and I just wasn’t ready to marry the men in my life that were interested in walking down the aisle with me at those specific times. (They were great guys by the way. And they were gorgeous. I know. What was I thinking!?)  

I wasn’t proud of the fact that I just wasn’t ready. It wasn’t how I wanted it or planned it to be, but it was in my gut. It was a feeling. And I went with it.  I just couldn’t lie to the men who loved me and pretend that the nagging “There’s something down the road waiting for me, calling me”, feeling wasn’t there.  The last thing I ever wanted in my life was to marry a man, make him unhappy, find out that I was miserable, and get a divorce. I just couldn’t do it. Growing up, I kept waiting for the perfect time and place and spouse but I just never really felt I found the man that I knew I could wake up to for the rest of my life.

Ironicallly, whether I realized it or not, I grew up learning to be single. As you learned in my previos blog, I was in training from the get go. Remember, I had a grandmother who had it thrust upon her at a young age, and a mother who inherited the single situation as well. If you think about it, all I really knew and understood was the single life. It wasn’t foreign to me. My grandmother had been single all of my life, and I was raised by a single mother. Interestingly, they never expected me to be single. It never crossed their minds. Personally, I love that.

I only lived in a house with parents for 8 years of my life. And I don’t remember much.  I do remember their arguments. They really upset me.  But you really aren’t that much in tune at that young age. To the relationship thing I mean. You think mom and dad will always be there. At least I did.  So I didn’t take notes.

I learned growing up what it meant to have to mow the lawn, manage the finances, do the check book, deal with the car when it broke down, prune the fruit trees, hang the Christmas lights on the house, shop for, drag in, and put up the tree, you know –  life stuff.

There was never a man around to do anything, so having one around was not an option.  It was a luxury. The men that were in our lives had their own families and problems.  And I am sure their wives had well monitored honey- do lists waiting for them at home. And too, they probably did not appreciate their men taking time away from those necessary to-dos in order to dote on us.  I don’t blame them. Believe me.  I am just making point.

So, there you have it.  I guess without knowing it, I learned how to grow up and get single.  But I can hear you thinking from here.

Don’t you want to get married? I love that question. Let’s address that later. Shall we?


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