August 29, 2008

A Day at the US Open

The Summer Olympics are fading out of view. The confetti from the Democratic National Convention is being swept away. But, the grand daddy of all end-of-summer events, the one I excitedly await every year, is currently in full swing: The US Open tennis tournament in New York.

Being a tennis player and fan, it’s one sporting event I’ll voluntarily watch on TV. Best of all, since we live within two hours of New York, attending the Open has become an annual tradition.

Walking around the grounds of the US Tennis Center is unlike any sporting experience EVER! There’s a New York City vibe about the whole experience. The crowds are civilized and almost genteel. Since most of the people watching, play the sport, you’ll easily strike up a conversation with a stranger to compare playing notes.

It’s by far the best value in sports, too. For the price of a $60 ticket, you can walk between three stadium and a dozen outdoor courts to watch the most famous tennis players in the world. For many matches, you can sit so close you see the fuzz on the ball and the sweat on the players’ brows.

It is just awesome!!

Yesterday was our big day to attend the Open. I bought the tickets months ago when they first went on sale (even so, our seats for the main stadium had their own zip code!). The night before we left, travel plans were coordinated, train schedules researched, child care arrangements finalized and event-gear, like binocular, snacks and water, were packed. I was rushed, but I was sure I’d crossed my “t’s” and dotted my “i’s.”

The trip up on the train is always lots of fun. Tennis fans overtake public transportation, replacing the usual tourists and business travelers. The excitement builds as the US Tennis Center nears.

Since my friends and I are involved in our local tennis community, we always see people we know. This year was no exception. As my husband, my tennis partner and I made our way to the US Open complex with the 35,000 other people attending yesterday, we amazingly ran into two groups of friends who had just arrived by the same train as we had. Standing under the banner, “Welcome to the US Open,” we paused to chat, bubbling with excitement for the day ahead of us.

It was in that moment of light-hearted banter, my blood ran cold. I realized in horror I had forgot something.

Our tickets!!!!

The three of them were sitting at home on my desk. In the chaos of crossing those “t’s” and dotting those “i’s,” I’d completely forgotten the most important detail. What could we do? I pulled my husband aside. He took one look at the horrified look on my face knew said, “Don’t even tell me what I think you’re going to say.”

Going home and coming back would take at least four hours, so that was obviously out of the question. I had no proof with me I’d even bought the tickets. I was ready to cry that I’d ruined the day for my husband and my friend. My mind raced, “Think. Think. Think.” There had to be an answer. Then an idea came. One of the friends we had just run into had one of the four tickets I’d purchased. Led by my tennis partner who can sweet talk her way into anything and armed with one of our tickets as proof that our story was hopefully credible, we went to the ticket office and pled our case.

Luckily, thankfully, the story has a happy ending. With our one ticket, my husband’s credit card, my feeble forms of ID (like my USTA card…how did I remember THAT and not the tickets) and some verbal information, the ticket agent could identify my purchase and issued new tickets! Hooray!!!

Crisis averted! But what are the chances at the very moment I realized my mistake, we ran into the only person who had any physical proof that our tickets even existed! (Thank you, Lord!)

In the end we had a wonderful day. We bopped from court to court watching spectacular tennis and having a great time. A highlight was watching the doubles players (like the Bryan brothers, pictured.) We arrived home late last night, exhausted but filled from the day.

I’ll be following the US Open closely on TV in the days ahead. And I already look forward to next year’s trip. But something tells me I won’t be in charge of tickets!

As stupid as I felt for my mistake, I know I’m not the first (or last) person to do something so dumb and potentially disastrous. I’ve heard stories of parents leaving their children places. What have you forgotten or left at home, only to realize in a moment of horror, “Oh, no!”?

Happy Labor Day!

August 25, 2008

The Magician's Folly

It’s hard to be a Christian and not stumble across C.S. Lewis. Next to Jesus, he might be the most quoted (or over-quoted) Christian. Of course there’s a reason, at least in my opinion: He reveals obtuse biblical truths with profound simplicity and razor-sharp insight. If you haven’t already, check out Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce or The Screwtape Letters. Or even one of the many books available that present a kind of “greatest hits” of his writings.

Right now, my son and I are reading The Magician’s Nephew, the first book in the Narnia series, together. In its pages we’re experiencing Narnia before it was and as it came to be.

As in all the Narnia books, Lewis masterfully weaves profound biblical truths and observations into a delightful, fantastical tale. This book's themes of creation, innocence, original sin and temptation, obviously parallel the Creation story. Last night, we came across a section that wonderfully describes free will. I wanted to share it with you.

Selfish, arrogant Uncle Andrew, the titular magician, is carried (against his will) by the magic he toyed with on Earth, into the newly-formed world of Narnia. Once there he’s smitten with Narnia's magic and sees endless ways it will benefit him. He’ll be validated in the eyes of his critics who belittled him. He’ll get rich from the unbounded commercial possibilities. And he’ll never age in this vibrant land.

Also in Narnia are the main characters, young Digory and Polly. Unlike Uncle Andrew, their attention is not on themselves, but on the wonder of the world being created around them. They marvel as the Lion sings Narnia into existence: light, stars, mountains, trees, rivers, and lots of talking animals and creatures. What was a dark, silent world moments before, becomes a glorious cacophony of sights and sounds. The children stand enthralled amidst it all.

It didn’t, however, make the same impression on Uncle Andrew. “For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.” Although he heard the song as it was first sung, it made him think and feel things he didn’t want to. Intellectually, he thought a singing lion was ridiculous, so he tried very hard to pretend it was just roaring. Soon enough he succeeded and could hear only that. When the animals eventually spoke, all he heard were snarls, howls and growls. What was paradise to the others in Narnia became terror for him. He became practically catatonic.

Eventually Polly asked Aslan if he could do something to “unfrighten” Uncle Andrew. Aslan replies:

“He thinks great folly child,” said Aslan. “This world is bursting with life for these few days because the song with which I called it into life still hangs in the air and rumbles in the ground. It will not be for so long. But I cannot tell that to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh, Adam’s sons, how cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good!”

C.S. Lewis probably knew firsthand what Aslan spoke of. From the age of 15 to 33, Lewis lived as a self-proclaimed atheist. As a brilliant scholar and thinker, he allowed his intellect and skepticism to silence God’s voice. Even though Lewis gave up on God, God didn’t give up on him. And one day, he reluctantly but dramatically opened the door and let Christ in. I imagine the words of Amazing Grace resonated deep within: “I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.”

How many have chosen the way of C.S. Lewis and Uncle Andrew. God is all around, in the grandest of sceneries and the smallest of details, but they choose not to see and eventually, they can’t. Christianity makes them uncomfortable. It seems foolish, like a well-spun fable.

I know that scenario. For many years I let my intellectualism and cynicism keep God away. Like Uncle Andrew, I tuned God out to the point of being ambivalent at best and hostile at worst.

Yet, as Aslan explained, free will means God loves us enough He won’t force us to come to Him. If we choose to wear the cloak of darkness, he'll let us.

How thankful I am that although I kept the door tightly shut, Jesus waited patiently for the day I finally opened it.

If you haven’t let Him in, He’s waiting at your door as well.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

August 22, 2008

Happy Friday

Insane fun or extreme insanity?

August 18, 2008

The Journey of a Thousand Miles

If you’re coming to my blog by way of today’s Proverbs 31 devotional, welcome!

I can’t even believe I’m typing those words! Today is my first day as a published author. I’m trying to act nonchalant, but inside I’m doing a happy dance! For many years I’ve written—mostly journaling and personal reflection stories—for my eyes only. But several years ago, God put a call in my heart to write. I managed to write for my church newsletter a few times a year, but past that, life got in the way and writing never made it to the top of my to-do list.

This New Year’s Eve, I promised the Lord I would stop procrastinating and start writing. I dedicated my writing to Him. Shortly afterward I started this blog. It’s been a great way to discipline myself to write regularly…and fairly well. During the last six months I’ve written more than I had in the previous six years!

In some ways, the past six months have been the most challenging both spiritually and emotionally, but in other ways they’ve been the most uplifting and affirming. On many occasions I’ve been discouraged and felt like quitting this writing thing, but each time I’ve felt the hand of God encourage me to continue on. So I have. I know deep in my soul that I’m called to write. Whether it’s in God’s plan for me to be published widely is yet to be seen. The important thing is that I do it—and I do it for His glory, not mine.

I read on another writer’s blog, that even though the road as a writer can be very difficult, if we have a God-given talent to write, we must use it. We have no choice. God demands nothing less.

Wow! Those words really spelled it out. She’s right, though.

In Matthew 25, Jesus teaches about this very thing when he tells his disciples the parable of the talents: A master gave each of three servants money. “To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.” (v.15) After a while the master went to settle accounts with the servants. He asked them what they’d done with the money. The first two servants had doubled their money. Their master praised each one, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!” (v.23)

But the third servant feared losing the talent so he buried it only to return what he’d originally been given. The master chastised the servant, “Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v.29-30)

Yikes! That’s a pretty harsh consequence. Jesus doesn't mince words in this parable. Each of us has God-given talents. Notice verse 15 doesn’t say they all received the same. No, they each received “according to their ability.” We have gifts that have been handpicked by God—just for us. We may look around and think we don’t have much to offer compared to someone else, and maybe that’s true in the eyes of the world, but to Jesus, what we have to offer is just what He wants.

The consequence of burying, hiding or ignoring our talent is enormous! When we stand before our Maker and He asks for an accounting of what we’ve done with the gifts He’s given us, telling Him we were too busy, uncertain or afraid will not be the right answer.

Our gifts come in all shapes and sizes. From preaching to thousands to teaching Sunday School to working on mission projects to folding newsletters for a ministry—it’s not what we do, but THAT we do.

I can tell you from personal experience, this step of faith usually requires us to travel off our “map.” It’s not always fun and definitely not always comfortable. As hard as the journey is, it all begins with a single step. And what better motivation than to be able to stand at the gates of heaven and hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant...Come and share in my happiness.”

What gifts has God given you? Are you using them to make His name famous? If not, what’s holding you back? Your family? Your job? Your hobbies? Fear? Uncertainty?

Pray that God specifically shows you where He's calling you. Take time to listen to His still small voice. Trust that He does have a plan just for you.

August 17, 2008

Count Your Blessings

Do the lazy days of summer actually exist? It’s mid-August and I keep hoping I’ll wake up to find they do. I dream about a summer lounging at the beach or recreating at a cabin in the mountains, but so far that dream hasn’t come close to becoming a reality. Life, my life anyway, doesn’t operate at that speed.

This summer has been an especially stressful and hectic. My husband has been especially busy with work and surprisingly, so have I. I’ve been able to take several multi-day trips with the kids, but except for one weekend, they’ve all been without my husband. Since June we’ve been leapfrogging. He comes home for a business trip. I leave. I come home. He leaves. It’s certainly not how we want to run our family, but at least for the moment, it has to be. But I miss him.

For the first time all summer I don’t feel crushed by the weight of my to-do list—and the overwhelming feeling I’m letting everyone down. Tomorrow the kids and I are actually going to attempt some back-to-school shopping.

But even though (or perhaps, especially since) this summer isn’t going on any “top ten” lists, I thought I’d take a moment to recall my summer blessings. Each one reminds me that amid the craziness God is good.

So, here they are…in no particular order:

  • Right now my kids are out jogging together...watching them work together (and get exercise) is indeed a blessing
  • Listening to the wonderful stories my husband told from his mission trip to the Dominican Republic
  • Being in a Bible study with my mom…having all of the wonderful women of my Wednesday night Bible study in my life
  • Enjoying a great God-talk with my friends while sitting on the balcony of their shore house
  • Seeing my son’s ear-to-ear grin after he finished a zip line
  • Attending two wonderful writer’s conferences…and the friends I made at each
  • Watching eight dolphins play offshore while my family and I were at the beach
  • Paddling a canoe across a lake in the Adirondacks with my friend…and then watching our sons jump off a rock cliff into the water
  • Making s’mores…many times!
  • Enjoying Friday nights at the pool with our friends
  • Having tremendous Christian friends and a wonderful church family
  • Watching my daughter perform in “Bye, Bye, Birdie” after many weeks of hard work
  • Seeing my son receive the “bullfrog” after a swim meet…win his first official races…and receive a trophy for his exceptional swim season
  • Looking through a telescope and seeing Jupiter and four of its moons…and the Milky Way
  • Sitting by the campfire gazing up at more stars than I recall ever seeing…and seeing a shooting star
  • Winning a game show with my friend while at camp
  • Watching the Olympics with my family…and seeing Michael Phelps make history
  • Spending time with my sister who I love and don’t get to see enough
  • Cuddling on the couch with my daughter
  • Sitting at the feet of one of my favorite writers
  • Having my first submitted work published
  • Gazing upon a magnificent sunset
  • Spending today at the Grange Fair with my kids…enjoying the cows (and other farm animals), tractors, giant zucchinis, 4-H projects and homemade handiworks …all of us pining for the simplicity and romance of an agricultural life

All that in two short months—and I’m sure I missed a lot.

Usually it’s not the big things that knock us off our pins, it’s the daily annoyances that get us grumbling. I am so guilty of losing perspective in the midst of the “stuff” of life. I find myself listing my complaints instead of counting my blessings.

The words to the beloved hymn, Count Your Blessings, give comfort and encouragement that we all have times of trial, tempest, temptation and turbulence. The troubles will pass, but God remains through it all.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done!

August 10, 2008

Traveling Companions

I see life differently than others. As a writer, that’s turning out to be a good thing. As a person it can be lonely.

This weekend at the Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference, I met brothers and sisters in Christ, who despite our unique personalities, ages and experiences, were bound by a common passion: our love for Jesus and our desire to express that love through writing.

Through them I saw a God who’s not only much bigger than I dared imagine but also more intimately involved than I’d allowed Him to be.

Each person I met has a faith that shines brightly. I want to introduce a few:

I’d only been introduced to Denise once before the conference, but she was a familiar face in a sea of strangers. We ate lunch together and immediately hit it off. What a joy to get to know this beautiful woman with an amazing story of hurt and healing. I pray, as she starts her writing journey, she finds her voice to share the amazing work God’s done in her life.

A mutual friend had been telling me about Jacquee for at least a year, but we’d never met. What a surprise, when I glanced at her name tag and recognized her name. Jacquee is a wonderful woman and we hit it off right away. She’s got a story burning in her and is working on her book. How thankful I am to have met a local fellow writer.

Stephanie, Kelly and Amy are my new friends from Mary DeMuth’s Transforming the World from the Inside Out class. (I’ve already written about Mary and sung her praises; to go on anymore may make me seem like a stalker! Although if you're a writer, check out her So You Wanna Be Published blog.)

As soon as I saw Stephanie, I hoped we’d become friends. She has an infectious spirit and confidence about her. We’re both freelance graphic designers and love the outdoors. Maybe one day we’ll go hiking together. Stephanie’s book idea got a lot of interest from agents and editors she met with. Hooray! I’m praying for you, Stephanie!

Because of her drawl and good looks, I thought Kelly was a Southern belle that this Yankee Kelli wouldn’t be able to relate to. But an accent does not a person make and just beneath the surface I met a woman that’s real, unpretentious and refreshingly honest. She’s experienced incredible loss and sorrow, but instead of being bitter, she’s placed it all at Jesus’ feet and radiates His love.

Amy exudes a quiet, gentle grace. She’s served in the mission field and has such an outward focus. Amy wants to use her gift of writing to spread the Good News to those outside the comfort of our country. Because I tend to focus inward, I loved talking with her. I can’t wait to see how God uses her writing to really make a difference!

Meeting Fran might have been the most divinely-inspired introduction of all. My new, online friend Donna (who is a gift of encouragement from God), met Fran at last year’s conference. She told each of us to look out for the other. We found each other quickly, but it wasn’t until the last day we really got to talk. Fran’s a lovely WOW (Wiser Older Woman) and an experienced writer. In her, I found not only a friend, but a mentor who freely shared her wisdom.

I could go on about the other incredible people I met like Becky, who started a ministry that aids orphans in Swaziland. Or David, a missionary who spent nine years in war-torn Chechnya in the 90’s and is going to the Middle East in a few weeks.

This weekend I found my people. From the moment I arrived, until the moment I departed, I felt at home. Thoughts like, “Do I fit in?” “Does she like me?” “What if no one wants to sit with me at dinner?” were silenced. Whew! I hadn’t realized how much energy my negative soundtrack consumes. Without the “me” junk in the way, I was able to fully engage in the message and the people. As a result, I left richly blessed, passionately inspired and divinely affirmed.

Writing isn’t an easy path to travel. But, I am so thankful God’s blessed me with traveling companions who’ll keep me company along the way.

August 7, 2008

Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

I had the most incredible day today. I’m attending the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. It’s three full days of workshops, fellowship, worship and critique with writers, by writers.

I’ve been so busy in the weeks leading up to this conference I’ve had barely a moment to give it much thought. Although I planned to bring a newly penned magazine article to offer for critique, I just didn’t have time to write it. Last night at 10:00pm, I dusted off two previously written articles and stuffed them in my bag.

It’s funny how much time and energy I spent preparing for the She Speaks conference I attended in June. My expectations going into that conference were impossibly huge . However, for the Phila. conference, I was just too busy beforehand to fret or fuss. I went into it this morning, going with the flow, not knowing what to expect. What a wonderful surprise the day turned out to be.

Within 15 minutes of the keynote speaker’s talk this morning, I knew I was just where I should be—and where God wanted me to be. The Spirit’s presence was undeniable. In the workshops I attended, I hung on every word of every presenter, soaking in their wisdom.

I cannot express how cool it was to be with a group of people who share the same passion for the Lord and who want to use their gifts to convey that passion. Everyone I met was so friendly and enthusiastic, even the editors and publishers weren’t at all standoffish or intimidating. It was all so low key and welcoming.

I met with two published authors and had the opportunity to share some of my writing with them. I had heard such horror stories of brutal critique in these meetings. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous. Well, both authors were delightful. And both thought I have talent and should definitely pursue my goal of writing for publications. Yippee!

But, my four-star moment was meeting author Mary DeMuth. She’s an amazing, disciplined, Jesus-loving writer who’s published several books. I “met” her through her blog where she helps new writers on their path to publication. I follow her site faithfully and even though she doesn’t know me, I have learned so much from her. She's as close to a mentor as I have. During the conference I'm attending a class she's teaching and I was thrilled today to sit at her feet and soak in her godly teaching. After class I rushed up front to introduce myself to her. I'm sure in my excitement I babbled like a dork!

Tomorrow is a new day. I can’t wait to go to sleep so I can wakeup and go back. I don’t know where this journey will end up, but I do know God has given me a gift I MUST faithfully use. That’s what I admire most about Mary. She is passionate about Jesus and that passion fuels her writing. She’s really going places as an author, but there’s no doubt Jesus is driving the bus that’s taking her there. That’s how I want to get there too.

God gives each of us gifts to use to glorify His kingdom. Some are big; some are smaller; some reach many; others reach just a few. It's not what you have, but how you use it. What gift has God given you? How can you use it to help make His name famous?

“The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!’” Matthew 25:20-21

As a side note: I just finished reading Mary DeMuth’s book, "Watching the Tree Limbs" and loved it. It’s a fiction story of loss, longing, love and hope. She asked me to pass the good word on to all of you. Put it on the top of your summer reading list!

August 5, 2008

Reflections on Summer Camp

“Ahhh!” I’m enjoying an extremely rare afternoon home alone. Just me, my cat and my dog. And because my family is happily elsewhere, I have no guilt I’m neglecting anyone.

On Sunday I dropped my daughter off at camp for the week. She’s gone to this camp, that’s affiliated with our church, for several years and just loves it. Her week at camp has become a highlight of each summer. As soon as we arrived, she started to re-connect with camp friends and counselors from past years. As a mom, it filled my heart with joy to see her so happy and confident. (For a teenager, that’s saying something! :-)

Of course, she didn’t want me to linger, so I was subtly, but quickly shooed back to my car. I drove home happy to have some time alone, but most of all happy that camps like this exist. Places where our children can be independent and have an experience that’s all their own; places where they can find a home away from home; and places where they can meet Jesus up close and personal.

When I reflect on my life, I see the weeks I spent at summer camp had the biggest impact on my faith and left some of the fondest memories of my childhood. Through the scenery, the songs, the friendships, the teachings and the adventures I met Jesus and experienced the Truth of the gospel.

But for so many years as an adult, I walked in darkness, away from the Lord. I buried the Truth under a pile of cynicism, intellectualism, doubt, self-sufficiency and false knowledge. But even under weight of all it all the Truth remained. Until one day I was ready to let go of the “junk” and open the door to Jesus. And I found He’d been there all along.

There are so many wonderful Christian camps all over the country. The one I attended is still going strong, thanks to the vision and obedience of its founder (who passed away this year). I offer a prayer of thanks to the faithful men and women who, through the years, have answered God’s call to start and run these camps. I pray the Spirit fuels their passion. I lift up the teenage counselors who love the Lord and dedicate their summers to teach, protect, love, nurture and share Jesus with the youngsters who enter their cabins (or tents) each week. And I ask a special blessing on the campers, some of whom may not be that happy about being at camp. I pray that the Truth of the Good News is planted deeply into each one of their hearts—even if those seeds don’t produce fruit for many years to come.

The media and casual conversations like to portray young people and the time in which we live as “so much worse than theyused to be.” I just don’t believe that’s true. Evil exists, as it has since the beginning. But, goodness does too and it will always be.

Through it all Jesus stands at the door of our hearts, waiting for us to let Him in.

Go to camp and you just might find the handle to open the door.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” —Revelation 3:20

August 1, 2008

Lightning Strikes Close to Home

Last Wednesday a violent thunderstorm had rolled through, causing anyone caught outside to run for cover as torrential rain, heavy winds, hail and lightning pummeled our region. By the time the storm ended over 13,000 lightning bolts hit the Philadelphia area. One of them, struck close to home.

As a babysitter ran for safety with her young charge in her arms, a bolt of lightning hit the tall evergreen they were passing. It traveled through the wet ground and into her, through her arms and into the toddler she was carrying. They both were thrown to the ground.

This happened at a local pool—the one my family belongs to.

I received the news shortly after it occurred and was devastated to learn tragedy had pierced the blissful bubble of our family pool. Our swim club is a special place where time’s stood still. Families gather throughout the summer to barbecue on the weekends, socialize on Friday nights, find respite from the heat and cheer for our kids during swim meets. There is a sense of home and belonging you don’t often find.

My heart ached for the parents who received the phone call, “Come right away. There’s been an accident.” For the young lifeguards who witnessed the horror and responded with a professionalism beyond their years. And for the parents who pitched in to help, knowing it could have been one of their own children.

Immediately I sent an email to the ladies in my Bible study asking them to pray. I learned later dozens and soon hundreds of others were doing the same thing. The gates of heaven were stormed with prayers.

It seems those prayers were answered. Miraculously, the little boy seems to be fine and the babysitter was released from the hospital after a few days.

The after-effects of this freak accident have inspired many. Instead of the typical finger pointing and naming blame that often arise after a tragedy, prayer and praise have enveloped the incident. Everyone involved has pulled together to support one another. And our already close-knit pool is even closer.

At last night’s swim team banquet, the lifeguards were publicly praised and recognized for their exceptional response. The parents of the toddler thanked their pool family for the blanket of prayers in which they were wrapped. By the end, there was hardly a dry eye in the house. Afterward I spoke to the toddler’s mom. She said she was overwhelmed by outpouring of God’s love and the miracle she witnessed.

Sometimes bad things happen. They just do. But in the midst of this horror, God turned it all for His glory. Each display of love, each act of kindness and each prayer were like stones tossed in a pond causing His goodness to radiate in waves. Because of these living examples, even those far from the epi-center witnessed God in a real and personal way. And what remains is love.

There is so much bad news around us, but “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28)

And no matter what news the papers report, we can rest in confidence that the Good News is the best news of all.