I had a friend who used to tell me she felt guilty for falling asleep when praying her nightly prayers. “God must be so disappointed in me! I can’t even stay awake to say goodnight to him.” I knew her heart was full of love and a desire to please God. I listened and then I asked her a question; “What do you think God would like more? To hear you say; ‘Goodnight.’ or for you to fall asleep in his arms?'” She smiled and understood that oftentimes we make our relationship with God more complicated than it should be.
The contemplative way tells us that when we are chopping wood, it is with God. When we eat a meal, it is with God. When sitting quietly, it is with God. All things we do can be with an awareness that God isn’t impressed with our showmanship, rules and regulations, dogma and definitions. God longs for us to realize where we are; he is and our awareness of his presence, our understanding he desires to be with us is the meeting of every need we have now and forever.
When I was a student at Trevecca Nazarene University one of the classes I took was a spiritual formation class. On the first day, the teacher of the class lit a candle and told us it represented the presence of the Holy Spirit, alive, moving and not be captured or coerced. He lit the candle at every class. For some, it was probably hokey but for me, it was my first step into Contemplative Christianity which eventually led me to become a Benedictine Oblate (http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html).
Another discipline we would learn and one I still do to this day is praying Psalm 46:10; “Be Still and Know I am God.” We would sit quietly and begin by quoting the entire verse and then let a word(s) drop off after saying each phrase multiple times…
“Be Still and Know I am God
Be Still and Know I am
Be Still and Know
When we arrived at; “Be” it was understood we found ourselves, our true selves, only in God. God wasn’t number one, he was the only one and everything else found its place in Him.
I follow this rhythmic prayer, often praying; “Be Still.” many times between rising in the morning and going to bed at night. It focuses, settles and comforts me or rather the words open my spirit and remind me I am because God allows me to be.
This morning our organization had a Father/Child reading event at the local library. It was a good time, a great turnout and we were able to meet dads we’ve never met before and some we hadn’t seen in a while.
We try to make these events as entertaining as possible with crafts, a puppet show, brunch items and more. The entire focus of the event is to stress the importance of fathers reading to their children. We talk about why this is important for the child and the parents and give the dads some alternative ideas to reading a book that also helps build a child’s’ vocabulary.
My favorite part of the event, however, isn’t the puppets or craft time but when the dads and kids go pick out a book and read it together. It’s the image of the child sitting next to the dad or in his lap and he’s whispering in their ear any words they may not know, need help enunciating, or pointing out interesting items in the pictures on the page.
For me, it is the picture of how God wants to treat his children. Life is difficult and demanding. There’s always something to do and the busyness of this world keeps us spinning. Wisdom tells us that silence, simplicity, humility and obedience are our ways of crawling into our Father’s laps, sliding up next to him, feeling him wrap an arm around us and whisper in our ears, our spirits, letting us know that though the story of our lives can be complicated and convoluted, he’s present and close as the tale of our existence unfolds.
This morning, during worship, Beth and I sat behind a couple who had an older son with Down’s Syndrome. (http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/What-Is-Down-Syndrome/) He sang the songs, clapped, laughed uproariously, and became so excited a few times his mom would whisper in his ear to settle him down.
Beth and I have worked with people with Down’s Syndrome before so he wasn’t bothering us. In fact, just the opposite, he enhanced my worship with his full commitment to what was happening around him. No worries about what others thought about what he was doing or about him.
Native Americans are said to have thought children with Down’s Syndrome had an insight to God because of their innocence. I always think about that when I am near or interacting with someone with Down’s Syndrome. From my work with them, I know they are not always so “innocent.” They can be mischievous, angry, playful, stubborn and emote with the best drama kings and queens. However, what they don’t do as often is hide what they’re feeling. Their good and not so good behavior, joys and frustrations, happy-go-lucky attitudes and refusal to do something they aren’t in the mood to do can be fulfilling or draining for their caretakers.
Their innocence is not ever doing anything wrong but rather their refusal to hide, be ashamed, be less than what they are no matter who’s watching. They aren’t governed by their need to impress or be thought well of by anyone
In that sense, they are not only innocent but also role models for the rest of us.
This morning, I went into a store and was met with a booming voice coming over the store’s speakers. “Would the Grandmother of Jason please come to the registers? Would the Grandmother of Jason please come to the registers?” My first thought was a woman who had become enamored with her shopping list and had let her grandchild wander off. An elderly person passed me, approached the registers and the grandson hurriedly went up to her and declared; “I didn’t know where you were! I was looking for you!” When the child began to speak I could tell he had a learning disability and the grandmother, instead of being embarrassed or frustrated, told him calmly; “I was over there. I knew where you were.” She continued talking to him and they began walking through the store together. I smiled at the gentleness of the grandmother. She obviously was familiar with these situations and knew what to do to help the young man feel safe, to know she was near, he hadn’t been forgotten.
Reflecting on this sweet moment I wondered if this is how God sees, understands us. There are events we consider traumatic and chaotic. We panic and question; “God where are you? Have you forgotten us? Have you left us in the middle of this mess with no way to find you?”
God, on the other hand, is right there, with us. We may not see him but we’ve never been out of his sight. In his way, in his timing, he steps into view and we run, relieved and cling to him telling him how worried and alone we felt. He smiles, puts his arm around us, his voice and presence soothing our soul and we walk together along life’s path.
What are We? –
This morning I walked into a sanctuary, on this 4th of July weekend, with this shirt staring me in the face. On the back of it was written the Declaration of Independence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence). I found it odd to be wearing this shirt in church but understand that being a Christian and an American go hand in hand for a large number of people. I often wonder which one folks would choose if the choice was forced upon them.
I focused my attention on the words being sung, the scripture being read, the prayers being recited. The final hymn we sang was one I had never heard before but the lyrics moved my spirit. It was entitled; “Lord of all nations, Grant me Grace.”
1 Lord of all nations, grant me grace To love all men of every race And in each fellow-man to see My brother, loved, redeemed by thee.
2 Break down the wall that would divide Thy children, Lord, on every side. Let me seek my neighbor’s good In bonds of Christian brotherhood.
3 Forgive me, Lord, where I have erred By loveless act and thoughtless word. Make me to see the wrong I do Will crucify my Lord anew.
4 Give me thy courage, Lord, to speak Whenever strong oppress the weak. Should I myself the victim be, Help me forgive, remembering thee.
As we lifted up this song my attention was once again drawn to the man wearing the Declaration of Independence shirt. It seems our country is run by two things; hate for those who disagree with us and fear of those different from us.
The song asks the “Lord of all nations” to allow us a heart big enough to love all people, to see them as our brothers and sisters. At a time where many are wanting walls built this song asks God to break down the wall that would force God’s children to choose sides. It challenges us to reach out to our neighbor regardless of race, color, creed or political preference. If we fail to do this we are to ask forgiveness for acts and words that do not espouse “God’s love.” We are also challenged to have courage when we are oppressed or when we find ourselves on the side of the oppressors, asking forgiveness and speaking God’s truth to power.
I wonder how many would wear a shirt with the words to this hymn imprinted on them as the man wore his shirt today. I also reflected on our nation, its claimed Christian heritage, and how we have lost our way.
Brian Loging (Twitter)
I’m a low maintenance person when it comes to breakfast and lunch.
For breakfast; a cereal bar or a pop-tart and a cup of coffee and I am good to go. For lunch; a sandwich that has either tuna fish or a slice of bologna or ham. Beth buys fancy-schmancy meat for her sandwiches but she knows to get me inexpensive, store-brand, square, sliced ham. This afternoon I took some ham, two slices of bread, slapped on a little mayo and it hit the spot on many levels.
When I was growing up my family would go camping regularly in the Great Smoky Mountains. We grew up hiking on the Appalachian trail, swimming in mountain streams, sleeping in canvas tents and eating lunches out of a cooler sitting at a wooden picnic table in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.
When I eat my ham sandwich I think about these simpler times. My mind and spirit go back to not having many cares, being surrounded by family and friends, fully immersed in nature and God’s creation. Being older now I realize my parents still had bills to pay, work pressures, the difficult job of raising me and my brother, but my memories of these times are only good, warm and full of love.
These seasons of life are never to be repeated but I can eat my ham sandwich and remember the best of life is found in the simple things.
The lawn caretakers for the church next door came early this morning, before 7AM. Luckily I was already up and taking the dog outside for his morning routine. As I stood there, in my bathrobe, I heard a noise over the sound of the zero turn lawn mowers. At first I couldn’t make it out but as I focused on the sound it became clear someone was singing. It was one of the men on the mowers. He had headphones on and whatever song was playing he was singing along with it. I began to smile. He hadn’t seen me and continued for a while bellowing at the top of is lungs. Before long he noticed me, quieted down until me and the dog went inside.For a lawn jockey he was a decent singer. He didn’t need to be any more talented than what he was because his purpose was to mow grass, take care of lawns, not entertain folks with his musical abilities.
The incident reminded me of a professor I had in college. I asked him one day; “How can we, who are so frail, weak, selfish, short-sighted and sinful, so human, ever please a God who is so good?” He smiled and took a pen from his shirt pocket and pointed out the scratches, dings and dents, faded color of the imitated gold casing and asked me; “What is the purpose of this pen? Is it to look good? Impress by its shine? Cause awe to all who behold it? Or, is it to write when pressed on to a piece of paper?” “To write.” I said. “Then it is a perfect pen because it fulfills its purpose. As long as it writes, its perfect no matter what it looks on the outside. In the same way our purpose is to love and be loved by God. Oftentimes we aren’t much to look at but if we desire to love and be loved by our Heavenly Father we are fulfilling our purpose and His love is what makes us perfect.”
He was a wise man.
This morning an elderly man chose the pew in front of me for the worship service. His choice of place was based on it being near one of the large wooden decorative beams located in the sanctuary. He had great difficulty sitting and standing so he used the beam
to steady himself. The church building itself was supporting him. When it came time to go to the front of the sanctuary to receive communion he slowly raised himself and made his way forward. The older gentleman couldn’t bend his knees at the railing as the priest served the body and the blood so the priest reached out to him to make sure he was served, included.
As I watched and reflected on the scene it was a beautiful reminder of what the community of faith should be, what we’re called to do. There are hurt, broken, scarred people who we encounter both inside and outside the church. We aren’t called to heal them, only God can do that. Our purpose is to include, support, serve and love them in every way possible.
Some things simply don’t go together. Tea without sugar, the beach and rain, the DMV and expediency, mowing grass in a sweatshirt, coat and wearing earmuffs. Yet, the latter is exactly what I did today.
This last week we’ve had a lot of rain and even though it’s October the grass is still growing. I was hoping to mow on Thursday and Friday but the ground was too wet. This morning I decided to take the chance and cut the yard. I put on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, walked outside and immediately came back in. It was more than chilly, it was cold made even worse by a stiff wind. So, I bundled up, went out, hopped on the mower and completed the chore.
Other events happened this week that shouldn’t go together either. Schools and guns, young people and death. I can’t imagine the terror and trauma in that classroom in Oregon as those students, teachers, faculty realized what was occurring. My mind reels and heart breaks to think of the final moments and last breaths of the victims and the shooter.
The questions; “Where was God? Why didn’t he stop it? How could he allow such a horrible incident?” are valid and need to be asked. More things which don’t seem to go together; a good, loving, powerful God and senseless acts of violence. Unfortunately we live in a world where they do.
I’ve heard most of the arguments which attempt to answer the divine dilemma tragedies such as the school shooting in Oregon bring. Few of them pass the scrutiny of logic and theology, none of them ease the pain of loss and despair.
In times and seasons such as these two additional things which don’t seem to go together but often do; faith and doubt. The journey of wisdom is not toward absolute certainty. It is learning how faith and doubt, conviction and confusion, comfort and questioning, presence and apparent absence are held together in our spirits without separating us from a God we’ll never fully understand.
Tonight, after grabbing a bite to eat at Cracker Barrel, my wife and I stopped to fill the car up with gas. When we pulled in we could hear loud music emanating from somewhere. At first I thought it was the gas station’s sound system but it was actually from an S.U.V. parked at the pump in front of me. The door to the vehicle was open, the woman was texting on her cellphone, while the pump was on automatic.
As I stood there I mused; “does she really think everyone needs to hear this?” Then, I remembered a time when I was in high school and pulled into a gas station, started pumping gas with my radio blaring and an “old geezer” asked me; “do we really need to hear that noise?” and it hit me, I had become the “old geezer!”
My wife and I had a good laugh about this on the way to visit a friend in the hospital. My friend is almost 90 years old, in frail health, and coming to grips with the inevitability of death.
I have been reflecting on both the gas station experience, the hospital visit and how life comes full circle. We are born to die. Our first breath of life is one breath closer to death. We are indeed but a vapor, a flower quickly fading, lush green grass that quickly withers. We are…and then we are not.blessings, bdl
“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.” Sarah Ban Breathnach
This morning I awoke early. This isn’t uncommon lately with so much to do before we move. I try not to let my thoughts get away from me when I wake before dawn in the hopes I can drift off to sleep again. Alas, this morning I could not so I got out of bed and began to get ready for an early breakfast appointment. Part of my morning routine is checking email and when I opened one today I was blindsided by grace.
The message was simple but it included an incredible gift to me and my wife. It was a profound and generous act that took an enormous burden off of our shoulders. It was both unexpected and deeply appreciated and we are very thankful!
At times we can become so focused on a task, an occurring or upcoming event that grace must come out of nowhere and jolt us out of our myopic state so we are able to see the incredible love and compassion that surrounds us.blessings, bdl
There are times in life when instability happens, an event we didn’t plan for, a choice with unexpected consequences, a season which blows winds of transition into our lives and we become blinded by the debris of change.
When we encounter these sections on the path of life it can be difficult to get our bearings and we wonder if we are wandering aimlessly. Will the way ever be clear again? Yes. Seasons come and go, the unknown soon becomes the new normal. The passing of time has a way of revealing what was once hidden.
Patience is required. A waiting for the path to reveal itself again and trusting the path maker watches over our steps.blessings, bdl
Great quote by one of the Inklings. As a person who gets into hot water frequently I often wonder if this is a result of wisdom or rebellion.
As a wannabe saint/contemplative/wise person you’d think trouble would be one of those things I avoided easily and yet I tend to find myself in tough conversations and situations. Mostly these result from asking too many questions and refusing to believing something to be true just because someone says it is…for some reason this makes people irritated and sometimes gives the impression I’m hard to get along with or have malcontent tendencies.
Maybe this is true. Maybe I enjoy rubbing people the wrong way. Maybe people need to think more and presume less? After all, hot water is the best way to cleanse ourselves of illusions and assumptions.blessings, bdl
The Master said; “One day a man found a treasure in a field. He was so happy that he went and sold everything he owned to buy that field. Another man went looking for fine pearls. When he found a very valuable pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it.”
To sell everything one has takes certainty in what is being purchased. To know treasure when one sees it, an object of great value amidst the dirt and grime which surrounds it, takes a trained eye. If we aren’t sure of what we’re buying we could end up with junk and costume jewelry.
On the path of life we will pass many fields and have numerous shiny objects seek our attention. Knowing what’s worth buying and what’s worthless, what is eternal and temporal, wise and foolish, goes a long way in determining whether our life is filled with treasure or trash.blessings, bdl
Everything is so expensive!
Last week, while eating breakfast with friends, I told them my wife and I were hoping the oil for the furnace would last for a few more weeks until we moved. Alas, that very day, it ran out. We called the oil company, explained our predicament and were informed the minimum amount they would deliver is 150 gallons. This is much more than we need. Instead, we bought a couple of Kerosene containers and have been pouring fuel into the tank ourselves every few days. It’s not convenient but it does save us several hundred dollars.
Yesterday, at our campus, my wife told a group of people about our great oil adventure. Following the service a lovely couple invited us out to lunch and when we got home one of the men from the campus was sitting in his work truck parked in our driveway. In the back of his vehicle was a 55 gallon tank filled with oil. He asked us where the fill pipe was located, pumped the oil into the tank, told us we were loved and left.
As he pulled out of the driveway I was reminded that no person, regardless of their finances, is poor who has true friends.blessings, bdl
An excellent and thought-provoking quote.
My first reaction when reading this was to think of folks I have known to whom this quote succinctly applies. However, wisdom teaches to move past the shallow critiques of others and deeply consider if it is applicable to me.
Scary. To think we may acquire knowledge and not become wise. To spend our lives accumulating that which can enlighten our path and still live in darkness is disconcerting. How do we ensure we are not someone to whom the quote; “Men can acquire knowledge, but not wisdom. Some of the greatest fools ever known were learned men.” can be hung on our lives?
A good step is to move past our initial reactions, our first thoughts. When knowledge is given to us, do we assume it is meant for someone else? Do we allow it to penetrate or just see it as data, a piece of information to file away somewhere in our minds? Do we chew on it, as a cow continuously chomps on a clump of grass, turning it over and over, drawing out all the flavor, each bit of nutrients, letting it become a part of us?
Wisdom is not the amount of knowledge we possess but if this knowledge possesses us.blessings, bdl
Today I shared the following with my campus family as we began our last few weeks together…
Waiting can drive us crazy. Maybe this is why there is so much of it in life. These last few months have been one long season of waiting. A thought that keeps coming to my mind, “perhaps, life can be best summed up as one long lesson in patience.”
In a world where almost everything moves at such a high rate of speed, sometimes it’s difficult to catch our breath before something else dashes in to take it away. Instant gratification is no longer an option but rather a necessity. At a time where everything happens so fast, shouldn’t patience be placed on the endangered species list? It seems to be no longer a virtue and no longer needed.
However, life still requires patience and a recognition that for everything there is a season.
Jacob, the heel-catcher, has met a kindred spirit. Both men are deceivers and manipulators. Both do whatever they can to get the better of the other. It just comes naturally. Laban tricks Jacob first by marrying him to Leah before Rachel…After many years of service, Jacob finally outwits Laban and gains a more valuable flock in the process.
31 As time went on, Jacob overheard what Laban’s sons were saying about him.
Laban’s Sons: Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father; he gained all his wealth from taking advantage of him.
2 And Jacob also noticed a change in how Laban looked at him and treated him. He seemed colder toward him than before.
Eternal One (to Jacob): 3 You must now return to the land of your ancestors and to your own family. I will be with you always.
4 So Jacob called his wives Rachel and Leah to meet him in the field where his flock was grazing.
Jacob: 5 I notice your father’s attitude toward me has changed; he doesn’t regard me with the same respect as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me….(but God has said to me) 13 “I am the God of Bethel, the place where you poured oil on a pillar and made a vow to Me.[a] Now get up, leave this land, and return to the land where you were born.”
It has been a long season of waiting for Jacob, heel grabber, one who wrestles with God.
He has waited in a foreign land for his brother to cool off after Jacob tricked him out of his inheritance. He fell in love with a beautiful woman named Rachel and waited seven years, working for his soon to be father in law only to be tricked into marrying his beloved’s older sister named Leah. He then had to work another seven years to complete the payments for both sisters.
After this Jacob grew rich and Laban grew jealous. The time was coming when he would need to move away from his father in law. As he waited, God blessed and his father in law schemed. Don’t feel sorry for Jacob, he could scheme with the best of them. Finally, after many years of service, back and forth plotting and scamming, wives, many children, trouble between the two families, and much waiting, God reveals to Jacob what he is to do.
3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your ancestors and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”
It has been many years since Jacob has been home. His life has been lived elsewhere for so long home is more a memory than reality. It’s also filled with uncertainty. What will Esau, Jacob’s deceived brother, do when they come face to face? Where will they live? Will his livestock and investments continue to grow? No certainty is given except (God promised) “Go to the land of your ancestors and I will be with you.”
Jacob gathers his family and discusses this life altering revelation.
Rachel and Leah (respond): 14 Is there any inheritance at all left for us from our father’s house? 15 He regards us as foreigners now that we’ve married you. He sold us in exchange for your years of labor, and he has been using up all of the money that should have been ours. 16 All of the property God has taken from our father and given to you actually belongs to us and to our children anyway! So do whatever God said to do.
“So do whatever God said to do.” Remember these are moms saying this, wives giving their approval. Moms aren’t usually too thrilled when dads/husbands decide to make a U-turn in midlife and do something unexpected. Moms/Wives like stability. They like knowing the kids are getting fed; a roof over their heads, the dad/husband is going to be able to provide for them. Thank God for wives/moms/families who are willing to say; “Do whatever God said to do.”
17 So Jacob got up, and he put his children and his wives on camels for the journey. 18 He rounded up all of his livestock and all of the property he had gained, … crossed the Euphrates River and set his face south toward the hill country of Gilead, he was going home.
When I came to ECN almost 7 years ago I left a ministry which faced many challenges and came to a new place, a new life at ECN as their Christian Education director. Though I had never held this position before, I was excited to do something new after being a youth mentor for many years. However, less than a year later, I was asked to visit this campus church for a few Sundays to be pulpit supply, a fill in, a substitute and I have been there ever since. I have never regretted my decision.
Even last year, when the future of our church became uncertain and my position was no longer available, I still knew this was God’s place for me. In July 2013, after being informed ECN could no longer financially support my position I began searching for another position but also applied at many bi-vocational jobs in this area in case the decision was made to keep the campus church open.
Though I have been considered for various positions in these last several months I have prayerfully sensed God’s leading not to pursue any opportunities until the outcome of our campus was determined. Then in December, following the decision to close LVCN, God’s call for me was to continue being their shepherd, through this time of uncertainty and until the last Sunday, was clear. I obeyed but was unsure what this meant for the future.
As I have considered other ministries and waited for guidance on where to go next, I prayerfully sensed I was to wait, to rest.
One position seemed it might be a good fit. We exchanged emails, phone calls, video interviews and I sensed I would fit in rather well. My last interview with their leadership team was on January 16, 2014. It went very well. As soon as I finished the interview I picked up my bible, prayed and began to read scripture.
The Bible I was reading from has a selection of chapters to be read each day followed by one verse to meditate upon. The assigned section for this day was 5 ½ chapters, over 100 verses. Out of all the possible selections the verse to meditate upon was:
Up until this point Beth and I had been discussing the sense of waiting we felt God had placed on our lives. We also reflected upon certain difficult situations I had encountered while serving here since July 2007.
In some ways we, like Jacob, have been in a period of waiting for almost 7 years. There have been times we looked for a sign to transition but were always directed back to shepherding our family at the campus church. In many ways it has been this place, these people, which kept us from moving on during some very trying times. It is a blessing being their leader.
Now this verse brought everything into focus. I understood why a spirit of rest had been laid upon my heart. That night I saved and annotated the page in my Bible (pictured above) dated it January 16, and shared it with my wife. I read her the scripture I had meditated upon following the interview and she replied; “Do what God wants you to do.” Following this I contacted the church and removed my name from consideration for the position. I realized this was not the season for “next” but of rest.
In the last several weeks, we continued to pray and counsel with mentors and friends, to confirm the direction we are to take and believe it to be our course.
Last week we traveled down to South Carolina where my folks have graciously offered to let us stay with them. So, following my final day as the pastor of these wonderful people on February 28, we will pack up all we own and, like Jacob, move to the place I call home.
The decision, like Jacob’s, is filled with uncertainty. How long this waiting will last we are not sure. How we are going to make ends meet we do not know. But, like Jacob, God has directed me back to the land of my kindred, to go home for a season of rest and he offers his assurance;
Genesis 31:3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your ancestors and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”
9 O Lord we have waited for your signs
we have searched and listened for your word,
we have waited patiently for a season.
10 O True God, how much longer?
11 When will you release us?
12 Even as we wait, you are still our True God, our King from long ago;
you bring salvation to Your people. You are faithful.
13 You are powerful and we praise you.
15 You made everything and give love and direction to those who follow you.
16 The day is Yours and also the night—
You set in place the sun, moon, and all the stars to light up our darkness.
17 You have arranged all things, control all things;
You are the Architect of our lives. You are creator of all seasons.
“Those that will not hear must be made to feel.” -German Proverb
In a world of talking, screaming, singing, social updates, breaking news, attention seekers, televangelists, highlights, lowlights and naysayers, it can be difficult to speak a word much less hear one.
To hear deep calling to deep is to shut out the shallow voices which demand to be noticed. It is to center our attention on the still small voice that beckons. To seek to listen in this cacophonous life comes from the desire to feel. When we learn to recognize the words spoken in stillness, when the stillness touches us, then we can reach out and touch the world.blessings, bdl