HE’S AFTER YOUR HEART

hes after your heart

I saw this on Pinterest, and it absolutely captivated me. From as early as I had an interest in the opposite sex, if any boy or man had said to me, “I’m after your heart.” I would have melted and sighed, “Okay….” (Unless he was wielding a knife with a maniacal look in his eyes, of course. That would have been scary, you know? Just sayin’.)

Just know that I’m no expert on scripture, and I’d never read Hosea until last night. And even then, I can’t claim to have studied it, but I’m excited to share what I learned about God’s nature in loving his people when I looked at this book.

The book starts out with God’s conversation with Hosea about the punishment Israel is about to receive for being sinful and unrepentant. He’s using the prophet as a visual aid for the poor state of the Israel’s relationship with himself. But we don’t get far in the narration before we see the sheer depth and breadth of God’s love. We see how he longs for reconciliation; he’s willing to forgive and waiting to see the hearts of his people turned back to him.

But before they can be reconciled to him, the people will be punished for their faithlessness and wicked choices. Blood will be spilled, the land will be dried up and the people will be defenseless in battle. He even goes so far as to declare that he is no longer the Israelites’ “I AM”. Still, the time will come when God’s word will not return void. He called the people of Israel his people, and they will be restored as such.

“Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God. (Hosea 1:10)

So if reconciliation is on the horizon, why would he punish them? They had been unfaithful to him. They forgot their God, the one who delivered them from slavery, saw them through the wilderness and took them to their promised land. You can hear the sorrow in his heart when he says:

“I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rigs and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,”  declares the Lord. (v. 13)

The good news is that we have a loving and forgiving God who is always willing to take us back after we’ve repented. The words he uses are filled with gentleness and compassion. He says:

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:12 – 14) “In that day,” declares the Lord“you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ (v. 16)

Such love and wooing is in these words! Wouldn’t we all much rather have a “husband” who loves us, protects us, and desires us than a “master”? Although both a master and a husband will see to our needs for food, clothing and shelter, there is so much more commitment and mercy in being a spouse than a slave. Slaves can be bought and sold. Spouses are meant to be kept for life and cherished.

What’s more, he speaks of himself as a loving parent.

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.  I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. (Hosea 11:3 – 4)

Further, he goes on to affirm his holiness. While he loves us as a husband might and tends to us as a parent might, God is still holy above all else.

I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man—the Holy One among you. (Hosea 11:9)

Not only will the Lord love us again, he will restore us.

“Come, let us return to the LordHe has torn us to pieces but he will heal us;
he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” (Hosea 6:1)

So that’s it? Some harsh punishment and we’re good with God because he loves us so much? Not quite. Our part is to repent and return to him. It takes action on our part. We must see the Lord for who he is – holy and sovereign. There is none equal to him, no substitute for him, and we have to live with that as our truth!

But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. (Hosea 12:6)

That’s our call to action. Jesus made this even easier for us through his sacrificial death. We no longer have to make sacrifices to restore our relationship with the Lord. God doesn’t want sacrifices. He wants your heart!

BUIDLING SNOWMEN AND CHARACTER

I am admittedly not fully experienced with winters in Minnesota. Granted, I’ve lived here for 20 years, but I know that’s not long enough to make me an authority on Minnesota winters. Still, to hear it from others, mid-April was certainly late enough in the year that not even Minnesotans should have to tolerate hours of unending snow the likes of which we were experiencing a couple of weeks ago. Very simply, enough was enough!

It Wouldn’t. Stop. Snowing!

Isn’t that the way our lives feel sometimes? “It” won’t stop! The bills won’t stop piling up. The pain won’t go away. The oh-so-irritating spouse won’t give it a break. The children who were supposed to be blessings won’t stay out of trouble.

It Just. Won’t. Stop!

We’re told to be patient. After all, things can’t possibly stay this way forever. To everything there is a season. This, too, shall pass, right? What they don’t tell you is that it might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.

It always passes. See? The last traces of snow are almost melted already. And the bills will eventually get paid. The pain will eventually be treated. The spouse has to go to sleep and be quiet sometime. And the kids will somehow manage to grow up and surprise us by becoming fairly decent contributing members of society.

So what do we do with the challenge of waiting for things to change? We let it change us. We use it to strengthen us! Romans 5 starts out referring to the peace we have ”with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” which seems absolutely ironic when we’re in a situation that seems to be robbing us of our peace. But he goes on to talk about how we can “boast in the hope of the glory of God” in verse 2.

Then comes the promise:
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.” (v. 2-5).

So the next time life seems ready to break us instead of give us a break, we will know that we made it through before and we’ll make it through again. That’s when God’s glory shines – when we fail to lose hope in an otherwise hopeless situation because we know that God is faithful. Therein lies our strength.

But you say you feel helpless right now? Paul addresses this, as well.

Verse 6 tells us that “when we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.”

True, in this instance Paul is talking about God’s timeliness in sending Christ to live and die for our eternal salvation, but the Bible is full of references to God’s knack for being right on time. One example I can think of is the parting of the Red Sea. Think about it. If the Israelites had had enough of a head start such that the Egyptians hadn’t been on their heels, the miracle would have lost some of its brilliance. But in God’s hands, the Israelites saw God part the sea just in time for them to get through and to close it just in time to see the destruction of their enemies. Any sooner and it would have been a “convenient” (though no less mind-blowing!) miracle that would have left the Egyptian army scratching their heads, wondering where those pesky Israelites could have possibly gone.

There are plenty of times we ask God, “When, God? When?” Usually, it’s when we think we are about to break from the pressure. It’s always as we’re standing at the edge of our own Red Sea with an army at our heels. Sometimes, it’s simply when we wonder when the snow will finally stop falling, like the other weekend. But remember that God is always on time, and while we’re waiting, we’re getting stronger. And the strength of our hope will display God’s glory!

GOD IS DOING A NEW THING

As I’ve mentioned, I grew up with a lot of shame. It was a side effect of the punishment I received when I made mistakes. If I forgot to do something or did something wrong, my mother would often rant to my step-father about how useless, hopeless and stupid I was. It was always loud enough for me to hear in the other room and would last at least half an hour. My transgression would never be forgiven or forgotten.

Combine that with being the fat girl who got picked last for any team, was never asked out on a date in high school, and waited until I was 32 to find a man who was willing to date me, much less marry me (or as I say “keep me”), and you’ve got a great recipe for shame. I lived with this shame for a long time and saw my share of therapists to resolve it.

But one morning, I awoke with these words floating through my head: “Put the shame where it belongs.” I thought surely I’d gotten it wrong. It should be “Put the blame where it belongs.” And why would such a random thought insinuate itself as I was waking? I pondered it all day and realized I may have “heard” correctly after all. When I look back, the shame was really never mine. It was my mother’s. As a parent now, I know that the way she treated me is not the way you treat a child if you want them to grow up feeling loved and lovable. The shame belonged to her, not me. Discipline is one thing, punishment by shame is another.

As I said, though, I lived with this for many years; and occasionally, I still feel it. But the important thing is that I have chosen to not dwell on it any longer. I can acknowledge it without dwelling on it.

Isaiah 43:18 says it well:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

And why should we forget the former things? Why shouldn’t we dwell on the past? After all, we’ve been insulted and hurt! Don’t we deserve to feel at least a little sorry for ourselves? And how can you feel sorry for yourself if you don’t dwell on it?

There’s no need to because we have a good God who has good plans for us! Verse 19 goes on to tell us

”See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

God’s so done with the old stuff, and you can be, too! This is the God who sent Christ to heal what was diseased, raise the dead and overcome death itself. He’s all about fresh starts and new beginnings! And he has a new beginning in store for his children, too! A wilderness and wasteland are essentially the same – they’re uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable regions. (Sounds a lot like my mind on bad days!) There are no paths in the wilderness. There are no signs, no directions because there’s nowhere to go and no way to get there. They’re unused areas of land that have become barren or overgrown. What do they wildernesses and was wastelands have in common? You can’t live there! Aside from animals and foliage, there’s no life there. Someone has to develop it, make paths, cut down overgrowth and find water sources for it to be habitable.

That’s what God wants to do for you. Forget the shame of the past. Chances are it was never your shame to bear anyway! Open yourself to the grand plan God has for your life and live it as an overcomer who has new and good things planned for you. Let God make a way for you in your wilderness. Let him bring up springs in your wasteland. Let him start a new thing in your life. Your past can be the wilderness or wasteland in which God creates a beautiful city for all to see. Yes, the glory will be his, but the blessing can be yours as well.

YOU’RE AN OVERCOMER!

I belong to a Facebook page for people who have been through some degree of post-traumatic stress. I joined because there are still elements of my growing up that still adversely affect my self-image and my relationships with others today, long after the “threat” is gone. I wanted to be part of a group that would help validate what I’d been through. I wanted to see how others dealt with their struggles. To be honest, I was expecting to see stories worse than mine. Unfortunately they’re out there. Some of the group members have been through far more horrifying things than I have. I was one of the more fortunate dysfunctional adults. I was raised by a mentally unhealthy mother and a step-father who was probably as afraid of her as my brother and I were and did nothing to stop her.

Living with a mentally ill parent can distort the way you see the world and yourself. It alters how you trust yourself and others. Learning a healthy perspective of the world and yourself can be a challenge. Sometimes it can take years of dipping your toe in the pool of “normalcy” before you decide to even get into the water. (Imagine trying to get in the pool when you’re terrified of drowning.) This can be especially true if you’ve lived in an isolated abusive or destructive home. And most likely that how your home was – isolated. When you grow up thinking your isolated life is normal, you have to learn what “normal” is. Now, I know…what’s normal? Let’s refer to it as “healthy” instead. After all, there are a lot of “normal” people out there who aren’t especially “healthy”, right?

There will be no navel-gazing today. Someday, we can talk about the past, but not today. Today, we look to the future with hope. I want to just put this quote in front of you to think about.

“Instead of being ashamed of what you’ve been through, be proud of what you’ve overcome.”  Dr. Phil

I know…it’s a quote from Dr. Phil. And before you try to engage me in a debate over his qualifications or practices, just let me say that this is simply a stand-alone quote that I think is valuable to ponder, regardless of its source. Can we agree on that? Good.

Now, if you want a word from a greater authority, we can look at Romans 8:34-39.

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life –  is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Through the sacrificial death of Christ, we no longer need to be ashamed of the pain, discouragement and fear we went through before we committed our life to Christ. Because of God’s great love for us, we are more than conquerors; we are victorious and free to start anew!

So don’t dwell on your past pain (or failures). Don’t continue to live in shame. Rejoice that God has a good plan for your life. And what he has declared will not return void. If he declares that you have a good life ahead of you – and he has – so it will be. It may not always be easy, but it will be good. And remember, you may have been through a lot, but you’ve survived. Now, through the power of a risen Christ, you can not only survive; you can thrive! Be the overcomer Christ died for you to be.

FAILURE IS NOT FATAL

I graduated in 1983, when computers were as mythical as they were monolithic. By 1986, the increased use of computer technology and down turn in the employment market had sent countless “re-entry students” to our local college campus. They were afraid of losing their jobs to technology while the rest of us were still trying to figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up. I planned to go into teaching, and I loved studying English literature.

That’s how I found myself spending so much of my time in the one building that conveniently housed both departments. Between the two was the brain child of our English department chair: the Computer-Aided Instruction (CAI) Lab. Mrs. Frick’s vision was to introduce students to word processing by requiring them to submit papers created by software and printed by a dot matrix printer. It was innovative and fairly brilliant for its time, actually.

She opened the door to a room full of tables and outlets; the computers were on their way. All she needed now was the software and someone to teach that software. Mrs. Frick had the most amazing talent for setting the stage and wrapping up the presentation by explaining how much you were going to enjoy being a part of it. It took me a while to realize that she’d never really asked me to participate so much as to congratulate me on reaching a foregone conclusion. And it certainly was an exciting opportunity – there was nothing like this on our campus.

So there I stood, holding four floppy discs – at a time when they were still floppy. Each one was a software program that would allow students to type a paper in a revolutionary way. Each one had a handwritten label and a plain white, quite generic, envelope. I looked up from them and asked where the instructions were. Her smile was that of a young girl who knew she been naughty but hoped her sweetness would pardon her indiscretion.

“Well, they don’t really have instructions. I sort of borrowed them.”

I knew so little about software that I failed to recognize piracy when I held it in my hands. The only thing I understood was that I had no choice but to learn by trial and error. So I sat down at one of the two computers that had already been delivered, eventually figured out how to insert the floppy disc and turn on the computer – or was it turn on the computer and insert the floppy disc? As I learned, I made countless mistakes and lost many, many pages of work. And that, I discovered, was the best thing I could have done.

By the time the rest of the staff was ready for training and the students arrived to work on their first computer-generated papers, I had managed to make every single mistake they could possibly make. (At least once!) I knew why they made their mistakes and how to fix them. Most valuable, though, was the lesson that there was no mistake they would make that they couldn’t recover from. I knew they could command hardware and software because I had. They may have to start again at the beginning, but they could finish successfully.

They learned the hard way that they were now liberated from pressing the RETURN key at the end of each line as they had on a typewriter. It didn’t take long for them to learn to SAVE their documentS often. But the most important thing they learned was that they were not powerless. Yes, the world was changing faster than they had expected; but they had the ability to change with it. They learned to take control of technology rather than to cower at its feet in fear. They learned that it was never too late to learn to learn something new. But perhaps the most powerful thing they – and I – learned was that failure was not fatal. In fact, failure was a very effective educator.

Thomas Edison’s legacy wasn’t born from flawless trial and error. He understood the power of failure when he said, “I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward.” In 1986, I learned something that would encourage and comfort me every day after. I didn’t have to know everything because I could learn anything. When I sometimes think that something is too difficult, I remind myself that it only seems that way because I don’t know how to do it yet. Once I know how, it will be easy.

Yes, failure is always possible, perhaps even inevitable. But fatal? Never.

 

 

BEAUTIFUL BROKEN PIECES

 

 

Ephesians 5:13-14 tell us “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’”

In my last post, I talked about validation. Today, I want to take a closer look at Ephesians 5:13-14 again because I find it very encouraging. We’ve looked at shining the light of Christ on our pain and shame in order to find validation and start healing, which is beneficial for ourselves. If we take a closer look at this passage, we see how the light of Christ can shine through our pain to bring others to Christ.

How long have you felt dead inside? Have you numbed yourself, thinking that you’re inoculated from pain? Have you been going through your days on automatic pilot? Are you missing out on fully enjoying the life that Christ died to give you? Do you feel like a shell of a person, doing the same things every day, feeling no joy at all? It’s not a very victorious life, is it? Certainly not the life Christ died for us to have.

It’s time to wake up! There can be purpose to your pain. God can use that pain. Verse 13 tells us that “everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” I know – why would you want to illuminate a painful past? It’s ugly. Why would you want to illuminate your own pain and shame? It’s vulnerable, and vulnerability can be dangerous. So why would you want to shine a light on the very things you want to bury and forget?

For one thing, all the numbing in the world will not erase your pain. For another, when the light of Christ is shone on your pain, through your pain, it can become a beautiful beacon of hope and promise for others. Second Corinthians 4:6 tells us, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” Only by letting God heal us and sharing the story of that healing, can God’s glory and Christ’s purpose be served.

Imagine the beauty of a stained glass mosaic. God can take your broken pieces and make something new and beautiful out of them. And when the light of Christ shines through the new picture…Ah! What beauty! It’s this beauty that draws others to Christ. Are you willing to let the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ shine in your life, through your brokenness? Then wake up! Rise from the dead, and let God use your pain for the purpose of bringing the lost to him for his glory. Become a beacon of hope for others.

 

VALIDATION

When you’ve been hurt, I believe there are two you need: validation and permission. Validation tells you that, yes, something painful has happened to you or you’ve struggled with something that’s taken a lot from you. Permission allows you to move forward when you don’t believe you have the right to.

Today I want to talk about validation. I lived in silence for years about my home life, mostly because I wasn’t aware that it was different from anyone else’s. I lived with a mentally unhealthy mother who was emotionally and verbally abusive, often withholding attention as a means of punishment, and punishment was unpredictable and came on a whim. I never knew when to expect it, so I anticipated it constantly.

Even after I learned that this was not normal parenting behavior, it didn’t make me feel any better. And for the longest time, I thought I wanted pity. It took me a few years to realize that pity wasn’t very satisfying and not especially forthcoming when no one knew what I’d gone through. Through years of therapy, I felt sorry for myself when what I was really looking for was acknowledgement that what I’d gone through was, indeed, abnormal and that it was painful. I needed validation so I could start healing.

As I said, though, validation is hard to come by when no one knows what needs to be validated. So often, we don’t talk about the pain of our past (or present, even) because we don’t want to appear pathetic or vulnerable. No one who has felt weak wants to appear weak. We want to appear fearless and seamless when we may very likely be very broken. We keep our pain in the dark, hidden.

But here’s the thing: There is no healing as long as our pain is hidden. Ephesians 5:13-14 tell us “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. I believe this is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” As long as our pain and any shame that goes along with it are kept in the dark, they’re in Satan’s domain. He can continue to use them to destroy our relationships and self-image.

But if we shine the light of Christ on what is hidden, we can be healed of that pain and shame. We can heal our relationships. Best of all, we can have a self-image that reflects who we really are – children of God. And how incredible would it be to see yourself as the child of God, rather than the child of a parent who hurt you? Ultimately, we have been made in God’s image. What a lovely, beautiful image that is!

So whether you endured years of unspeakable abuse or someone simply hurt your feelings today, don’t be ashamed or afraid to shine the light of Christ on your pain. It wasn’t your fault, and the one who hurt you can’t heal you the way God can. Let God dispel the darkness that Satan delights in. Let the Lord do a good work in you today and begin living the life he wants for you – a life that glorifies him.

 

HERE AM I

When I was about 26 weeks pregnant with Sophie, I was told that my blood pressure was creating an unsafe environment for my baby. The doctors at KU Medical Center strongly suggested I be admitted immediately. They explained that I could get out to the parking lot, go into premature labor and lose the baby before I could get back into the hospital.

The problem was that I’d brought my brother along and he didn’t have a driver’s license yet, so I needed to take him back home to Atchison – a 40 minute drive. Once I got home, I figured, I could find someone to take me back to the hospital so I wouldn’t have to pay to keep my car in the hospital parking lot. I had no idea how long my stay would be.

I asked three people, and each was too busy to take me back that evening. None of them knew when they’d be available, actually. Later in the evening, a friend of mine from St. Joseph, MO called. I told him about the situation. I was starting to worry about my baby and had no idea now if I would get to the hospital in time to get the care I needed. I’d decided to take myself. David said, “Pack your bags. I’ll be there in 30 minutes.”

I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that David was willing to drop everything to make the drive to Atchison to pick me up, then take me to the hospital another 40 minutes away. By the time he got to my house, it was already 11:00 pm. His drive back home to St. Joseph would be another 50 minutes or so. But 30 minutes after I hung up, there he was. I was touched that anyone could care about me that much!

But you know what? God cares about us that much.

His promise in Isaiah 58:9 NIV tells us, “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say: “Here am I.”

Throughout Christ’s ministry, all anyone had to do was ask for healing or help, and it was done. He never even stopped to consider if the recipient deserved a miracle. He helped everyone equally.

How wondrous it is to have someone who, when you ask for help, simple says, “I’m here.” You can almost hear the gentle, comforting whisper of “Shhh….”

When you’re crying…”I’m here.”
When you’re scared…”I’m here.”
When you feel alone…”I’m here.”
When you’ve messed up so bad that you think you’re beyond hope…”I’m here.”
When you’ve been betrayed…”I’m here.”

Just look at Peter when he trusted Christ enough to walk on water toward him. With his solid hold, Jesus assured the sinking Peter. “I’m here.” his grip told him.

Friends often come and go in our life. Even lifelong friends can let us down occasionally. But God never disappoints us. He’s the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He will never stop caring, no matter how bad the situation is. His answer will always be “Here am I.” He will sit with you as long as you need him to.

What a loving God we serve!

 

ALL ABOARD!

OK, just so you know…I have no particular interest in trains.  However, my husband likes to tease me that it’s hard to keep track of what I’m talking about because sometimes my train of thought derails.  I don’t see the problem…I’m perfectly aware of where the conversation is going!  I suspect he’s just not trying very hard to keep up with me.

Why would I start a blog?  To be honest, it seems like an absolutely arrogant thing to do.  Let’s face it:  Here I am in my sweatpants and holey flannel shirt that used to belong to my husband, assuming that someone out there might actually be interested in what I have to say about…well…anything!  This blog isn’t about any single thing in particular.  I’m not an expert on anything.  In fact, I’ve learned that when someone refers to me as a “know-it-all”, it apparently doesn’t mean I know anything at all.

So why a blog?

I love writing.  I love sharing ideas, recipes, stories, quotes, etc., so that comes naturally to me.  However, journaling does not.  Part of the trouble I seem to have with journaling is that I always have a sense of writing to an audience.  I can’t get used to the idea that I’m just putting down my thoughts for myself and can write whatever silly thing I want.  I suppose it’s a lot like walking.  I can walk around a track for exercise, but it seems like a waste of time to do all that walking and not get anywhere!

During my entire school career, there were two things my teachers insisted on:

  1. I talked too much in class, and
  2. I wasn’t living up to my potential.

The reason I talked too much in class was because my mind was bursting with ideas, and I simply couldn’t wait to share them until break time. This blog may give me the audience I need to share all those ideas I have in my head.

And the reason I wasn’t “living up to my potential” was probably because I had no idea what it looked like to live up to my potential! I showed up for class and turned in my homework. What more was there to do?

I think blogging might help me to do both. I’ve had a small taste of success in being published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books twice now, which is very encouraging to the writer in me. And I believe there is a writer in me. I don’t know how good of a writer, but I think God’s given me a talent that I have not been using.

Erma Bombeck was my favorite humorist when I was in high school, and she has a great quote:

See the source image

I’m getting off to a late start, but I had more than one teacher call me a “late bloomer”. I want to see what I’m capable of. And if I can do it in such a way as to glorify God, all the better.

Quite simply, I love words and ideas! I love the power they have when they come together just the right way. And I enjoy sharing ideas.

So right now, I have no idea how this whole thing will work out.  I do know that I’ll be learning as I go along. It could be exciting to collaborate with people I would otherwise never meet.  It would be a blessing if something I write entertains, inspires or comforts someone. Or it might just end up being a great journal for little ol’ me.  In any event, this should be fun. And if you think you might enjoy the journey, come aboard!