Thoughts From a Forgotten Demographic: Conservative Christians Who Didn’t Vote for Trump

I am troubled by the precipitous decline in civility amongst people in the United States who hold opposing views. This topic has been on my mind for some time. While I don’t often write about politics, I’ve stated before my thoughts on how to address this decline. This article is just my way of sharing my observations.

Before I get too far, I’ll point out that I didn’t vote for Trump or Hillary. They were both firmly untenable candidates to me, for different reasons. I voted for a third party candidate, not that it matters.

During the 2016 campaign

As I stated in the title, I am in fact a conservative Christian who did not vote for Trump. I found his antics, character, lack of statesmanship and decorum, and lack of any apparent interest in improving those shortcomings to be such an affront to my sensibilities that I was horrified at his candidacy. I was far from alone in that sentiment.

I saw many friends and acquaintances of similar beliefs share their sentiments early and often: he is unqualified and so painfully unpresidential. The fact that he was even running felt like a bad dream from which I couldn’t awaken.  Friends frequently shared articles and opinions with the same concerns.

I recall wondering to myself, “What is happening? Trump has supporters – but WHO ARE THEY?? Who are these people that attend his rallies? Do such people even exist, or is this some elaborate media prank?”

It began to dawn on me what was happening. Trump figured out how to market himself to the disenfranchised; those who were angry about what was happening in this country, but felt powerless to do anything about it. People who had seen the distant breaking wave of political correctness gather momentum over the last few decades, to the point in recent years where it had picked up enough height and velocity to turn into a terrifying tsunami, destroying (or wanting to destroy) everything in its path that offered dissent.

Others who boarded the Trump train were small business owners who were looking for tax and regulation relief, with a Commander-in-Chief who could empathize with them, as a businessman himself.

While I sympathized with those viewpoints, they weren’t enough for me to overlook his shortcomings as a candidate, which is why I didn’t vote for him, nor did many people I know.

Since the election

With the election two years behind us, the bitterness and adversarial spirit that plagued this land during the campaign season only seems to grow worse, not better. As one who admittedly spends too much time on Twitter, reading the viewpoints from people all over the political and moral spectrum, I’ve noticed something troubling to me.

The substantial base of Christians who identified more with #NeverTrump seem to be a political afterthought as if we never existed. More specifically, the progressives/leftists became transfixed on citing how the majority of “evangelicals” voted for Trump.

As an aside, I put “evangelicals” in quotes because it is unclear to me their definition of the term. For that matter, I wonder how clear that term is overall based on polling data. Does anyone who watches Fox News and goes to church once in a while get defined as an “evangelical”? But that is a separate discussion.

Leftists pound the drums of this trend so relentlessly that any voice of dissent feels as though it gets lost in the noise. They use that as their rallying cry that “evangelicals” have lost all moral credibility in voting for Trump. I take every opportunity I get to remind someone of that mindset that nearly 30% of evangelicals do not fall into that camp. They don’t seem to care, because that position doesn’t fit their narrative. It is much easier to push the stereotype that all Christians are Trump supporters than to take time to engage the nuances in people’s views. There is only so much shouting into the wind one can do before a sore throat to no effect becomes too discouraging.

A vicious cycle

It is not lost on me how the cycle of incivility has played out. Conservatives and working class folks, tired of being bullied into silence over the years by an ever more demanding and forceful progressive presence in society, had gotten to their wit’s end. They were disgusted by outrageous demands and infringements on religious liberty by a zealously leftward sprinting government under the Obama administration.

Along comes Trump; a crass loudmouth that knew exactly what to say and how to win over this crowd. It was so startling that many found it refreshing. Not knowing how to respond, just knowing that the bland, mostly spineless leadership of the GOP offered no hope in its current state, they embraced Trump – a hero that could represent them in Washington. That is my assessment of the otherwise astonishing fanbase he gathered.

The left, incensed that such a scandalous character had taken office, who was not afraid to viciously attack his enemies in tweets and verbally, ratcheted up their hate for everything Trump stands for, including all those who are loyal to him or approve of anything he does.

Incidents of sheer intolerance for dissent are on the rise. Public figures are being chased out of restaurants, homes are being threatened by mobs, even children of such folks have been targeted for the audacity of having parents who push back on a leftist agenda.

It seems the left even growls with disapproval at folks who won’t share their hate, want to remain neutral, or hold the traditional position of respecting the office of the President regardless of political agreement (see: Tiger Woods incident from August 2018). That appears to be a thing of the past in today’s political climate.

I see how the tone and rhetoric that Trump brings to the fight only serves to add fuel to the fire. But I also can’t help but observe that the left’s reaction tactics; openly calling for incivility, disruption and violence towards dissenters, ironically drives more people to support Trump who would not have otherwise.

Tactics mentioned above are so distasteful to the moderate, reasonable person, that even if they are somewhere in the middle ideologically, they may be inclined to ally with the other side, even if uncomfortably so.

It seems that neither side is backing down. Both seem prepared to fight until the finish, cranking up the heat with no end in sight.

A call to civility

There are a lot of things I miss about the way things used to be. High among them is the opportunity to have a conversation about politics that doesn’t end in a shouting match or dissolve into unsubstantiated name-calling. I remember a time when it was more widely normal and safe to talk about dissenting ideas and policies without fear of being unfairly labeled various unflattering titles.

How refreshing it would be if national discourse were more about discussing and weighing ideas than pointing fingers, more about trying to get along than trying to vilify other viewpoints.

In closing, I’ll suggest a few things that would help for both sides of the political spectrum. As we discuss politics, let us:

  • Know the true definition of words we are using to describe others. E.g., calling someone a “racist” is a pretty serious charge. It has lost some weight because it gets thrown around so much.
  • Be prepared to back up arguments with examples. This is an area in which I could certainly improve. Just calling someone, or a whole class of people, a name without citing specifically why you think they deserve that name has no validity as an argument.
  • Respect all other humans as having equal value as yourself.
  • Respect the right of others to hold different viewpoints.
  • Realize that we are never going to be entirely unified, but that we can still respect one another.
  • Remember that our political system was set up to win battles civilly, at the polls.

This post covers a lot of ground concerning things that have been on my mind for the last few years. I embrace the sentiments behind the bullet points above and welcome respectful conversation with others who hold different views. As always, thank you for reading!

 

 

 

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To My Friends Who Vote Differently Than I Do: Election Thoughts

Social media has afforded us many benefits as well as drawbacks as a society. One thing that could be viewed as either, depending on your perspective, is the ability to post opinions and all manner of multi-media about topics such as religion and politics. Not only can we easily post controversial items, which may or may not ever be brought up in polite face-to-face conversation, but we can sound off from the comfort of our keyboard, without ever having to speak a word or see the reactions of people who may disagree with us.

This can be both good and bad. For one, it allows us to more clearly see the political leanings of those we follow on social media. It is enlightening in that regard. I for one rarely bring up politics when talking to people in person, but if you want to know where I stand on various issues, a quick look at my Twitter profile says a lot. Similarly, I learn volumes about the leanings of friends from all stripes of life on social media – information that I might not otherwise ever know.

I have many friends and acquaintances, for whom I have a great deal of respect, who hold vastly different views on key issues. The reason I know of it is because of social media. I largely keep to myself about politics on Facebook, because 1) I used to be overactive, and all it got me was being unfriended by a bunch of people and a constant feeling of anger and 2) I’ve found that some who disagree feel free (as I suppose they should) to chime in and argue and make counterpoints, sometimes relentlessly. Frankly, it is tiresome. Of all the things I could do with my most valuable resource, time, arguing with people online about politics ranks rather low on my priority list. So I just don’t do it much.

That being said, with the midterm elections upon us, it occurred to me that a message of unity could be a cool drink of water to soothe the metaphorical sore throats amidst all the digital screaming and shouting going on.

Some of my friends and acquaintances know where I stand politically and morally. Others may not. Some of you may not know anything about me. That is OK. The message is the same.

If we have differences of opinion, even if we are both passionate about our respective conflicting stances, I still respect you.

If we’ve fellowshipped before, have had or still have a close relationship, I care about you.

Even if we’ve only ever been acquaintances, or maybe we’ve not met, I am well aware that you add value to the world.

If you have at one time been in my inner circle and through various shifting influences have altered your worldview to take on one that differs from one that we may have once shared, I still enjoy your company.

If you find my stances horrific, chances are, the feeling is mutual. But I still honor and respect your right to hold those views, and expect that you will extend the same courtesy to me.

If you happen to engage in name-calling and/or arguments based on emotion over fact against those who disagree with you, I will fight with every fiber in my being to not return the favor.

No matter what you believe politically, you and I have one important thing in common. We were both created in God’s image, and we are both loved deeply by Him. Because of this truth, I owe you all the respect and honor worthy of one hand-crafted by the King of Kings (see Psalm 139:13-16).

Should we cross paths in the future, or perhaps share a meal or get together for coffee, I promise you this. I will treat you with kindness, respect, and warmth. Should our divergent ideas come up in conversation, I will listen with the goal of understanding your viewpoint. I hope you will do the same for me.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Advice, Opinion, Political Musings | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

On Christian Hypocrisy: A Helpful Way to Identify & Sort Out Unseemly Behavior

“Christians are hypocrites.”

I’ve heard that phrase uttered many times, often as a stated reason why someone has no interest in attending church or examining Christianity for themselves.

To be sure, it is not difficult to find people who claim to be Christians (“professing Christians” to put it more succinctly) who engage in behavior and speech that is more befitting of a demon than of the Savior. They are easy to spot. They might have “Christian” in a descriptor on their social media profiles, they might even go to church and have spiritual bumper stickers on their vehicles. Yet, the way they live their lives gives no evidence of Christ’s redeeming work.

As one who loves and follows Christ, I want to facepalm hard enough to bruise my forehead when I see, for example, a professing Christian engage in an insult-loaded or obscenity-laced exchange with someone on Twitter with whom they disagree. I want to scream until my throat hurts, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! YOU ARE PROFANING THE NAME OF CHRIST!”  It is often that I have seethed with frustration at seeing something like that. I just can’t understand how a Christian could behave in such a way.

I recently heard a distinction in a few sermons from John MacArthur at Grace To You that helped clarify a couple things for me. They were so helpful that I thought they merited summarizing in a post.

The Visible and the Invisible Church

The first item is as stated in the heading above. The visible and the invisible church. MacArthur shared the concept in a sermon I listened to recently.  To paraphrase, the visible church is what the world sees as the church: all the buildings where folks gather for church, and attendees and clergy of all those churches, professing to be in the faith.  These people and buildings can be observed.

The invisible church, by contrast, is made up exclusively of the true believers. MacArthur states it best himself:

Now, we who love Jesus Christ are the church.  We are the body of Christ.  We are redeemed.  We are invisible in the sense that the world cannot see us.  And very often we can’t even see ourselves.  Sometimes, you know, we struggle over whether somebody’s really a believer or not.  But, we belong to the collective one body.  Whether we’re alive or in glory, we’re still a part of the one body of Christ.  We are Christ’s church because we love Him.  We are His ekklesia, His called out ones.  His assembly of beloved sons.  The church basically is people called of God to be His children.  We have become one, positionally, by being united by faith in Jesus Christ.  And it was Jesus who said, “I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  And when He said that, He meant He would gather together His body.  He wasn’t talking about buildings.  He was talking about people. 

Internalizing that distinction was helpful for me because it brought to light the idea that there is a separation between the two: the visible and the invisible church. While there is overlap, often the visible church deviates wildly from the true body of Christ.

The visible church could include those people who you’d be shocked to find out they attend church.

The invisible church consists of people who are truly called, redeemed and living in the grace and power of God for His glory in the world.  They hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6), and work actively to put to death their sinful habits.

The Reality of the Narrow and Wide Roads / False Christians

The second point that I learned, also from John MacArthur, is even more stunning. It is the reality, stated by Christ himself in Matthew 7, that there are many who consider themselves to be Christians, who in fact are not saved. They are deceived about their salvation and will be unpleasantly surprised when they face Christ in judgment.

(To watch the two-part sermon series, click here and here.)

These sentiments were both terrifying and clarifying.

So what is the takeaway of all this? It depends on the camp in which you identify yourself.

For Christians

If you consider yourself a Christian, this information can provide some illumination as to why professing, yet false Christians act out the way they do. It can and should also give you pause to examine yourself:

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-unless you indeed fail the test?” – 2 Corinthians 13:5

“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.”
– 2 Peter 1:10

For Non-Christians

If you’ve found yourself disgusted by the unholy behavior of people who call themselves Christians, I pray this will provide some enlightenment to you as well. Just because someone claims to be a Christian, does not mean that they are. You can spot a true Christian by:

  • Their love for other believers (John 13:35)
  • The fruit of the Spirit in their lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)

A word of caution, however. It should be stated that even if someone is a true Christian, they will still sin and disappoint. After all, Christians still struggle with the sin inherent to human nature. The process of sanctification, or becoming more like Christ, starts the moment one repents of their sins to trust in Christ for salvation and continues throughout the rest of their life. As one continually seeks Christ, they sin less often. This is truly the work of God.

Conclusion

I hope that these distinctions have provided some insight for you, as they did for me. Furthermore, I hope and pray that you will examine your own heart to see where you stand with God. It is the most valuable exercise you can do in this life, if it leads you to trust in the God of the Bible. The sermon resources I linked to above are most helpful, regardless of your spiritual status.

I welcome any comments and questions. Thank you for reading!

 

Posted in Bible / Christian Living, Biblical insights, Opinion, Self-Improvement, Theology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When It is Time to Replace Running Shoes (A Personal Account)

Sometimes I can be slow to internalize things. I might need to learn a lesson a few times before it gets through my skull and into my decision-making process.

Pair that quality with a frugal mindset and a hesitation to spend money on myself, and you have someone who is likely to use things longer than they should be used.

Exhibit A, running shoes.

I’ve blogged before about my love for running (here and here are a few posts). Now that I’ve gotten back into the groove of hitting the road multiple times per week, one downside is that running shoes wear out faster when they are being used regularly. Shocker, right?

My occasional slow-to-internalize tendency has reared its head in the past when running shoes are ready to be chucked, but I either don’t recognize it or am in denial. If anyone else out there shares my dilemma, here are three things to look out for:

  1. Shin pain/shin splints
    If you can run pain-free for months, then suddenly running brings sharp pains to your shins during the duration of your runs, shin splints are a likely culprit. Worn out shoes are the likely culprit for those. If the shin pain goes away after your run is over, congratulations, the mystery is likely solved without bringing in a private investigator. New running shoes will almost certainly help.
  2. General body aches
    This one was the warning sign I recognized but ignored recently. I’ve worked hard to get back in shape after letting my fitness slide for a few years and was pleased that I could put in miles regularly with no adverse effects. Then I started noticing various pain throughout all my joints. I figured it was time to get new shoes, but I forgot about it for a few weeks and continued to run. An indication of my thick head: allowing myself to be in pain for multiple runs before doing something about it. New shoes cost money, people! If you’ve experienced this, don’t cheap out on yourself like I did. Get some new running shoes.
  3.  Wear and tear on shoes
    I find this to be the trickiest of all. Because of the frugal tendencies I mentioned above, I find it difficult to convince myself that my shoes are worn out unless they are starting to fall apart or the tread on the sole is worn smooth. As it turns out, running shoes can lose their valuable shock absorption qualities, bringing the symptoms mentioned in #1 and #2, without the shoes looking too worn.

Case in point, the shoes I finally retired:

When is it time to replace your running shoes

But, but, they still look fine!

When is it time to retire running shoes?

OK, maybe these DO look worn out.

I looked at these soles and figured they still had some life left in them, especially since the upper part of the shoe was perfectly intact. As they say, looks can be deceiving. I learned the hard way that listening to your body tells a much more compelling story.

As far as official recommendations on how long to use running shoes, it varies to some degree. But the standard advice is that running shoes should be replaced after you put 300-500 miles on them. The shoes pictured above have close to 500 on them.

After going for a 4.5-mile run late last week, and feeling for the next 24 hours like I got slammed around in a mosh pit of sumo wrestlers, I finally decided enough was enough. As I write this, I am wearing my new kicks inside to break them in. Can’t wait to get back out on the trail and keep logging those miles, now without pain!

Any runners out there have anything to add to these recommendations? Anyone else ever allowed being too cheap to keep you from replacing shoes?

 

Posted in Advice, Opinion, Running, Self-Improvement | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Thoughts on Overstated Enthusiasm in Language

I have a problem. It seems to be a problem, anyway.

Too much enthusiasm. To the point that perhaps its value is diluted.

Does that sound like a problem to you? Allow me to explain further.

I am a naturally enthusiastic person. Particularly as it relates to interacting with others. In person, or in writing, even on the phone. When left to my own devices, and not distracted by a burden, I tend to emit enthusiasm with vigor. Is there any other way? 🙂

Now, I am not saying that in person enthusiasm is a problem. On the contrary, I find that to be a good thing.

What I have been mulling over is forcing that enthusiasm to carry over to my writing. Particularly texts and emails. I use more exclamation points than what might be appropriate. It is true!!! Couldn’t help myself just then.

I find myself texting things like “Thanks!” over the receipt of mundane information, as well as good news. It occurs to me that I use overblown words like “awesome” and “fantastic” regarding things that are quite ordinary. I think a lot of this is cultural; Western culture seems to have adopted a widespread ratcheting up of descriptive language beyond what is the appropriate use of some words.

Prime example: epic. It is overused to the point that its meaning is completely separate from its most common uses.  But I digress.

The thing that bothers me most about this habit I’ve developed is that I feel locked into it. Since I always write “Thanks!” or “Great!”, excluding the exclamation point seems too bland and even rude. Am I alone in this?

It is true that one’s personality often comes out in their writing. When I get notes that end with a seemingly flat “Thanks.”, I have to recognize that not everyone is a slave to blasting eagerness at every turn like I seem to be.  If I don’t take the time to acknowledge that, I am sometimes even taken aback by matter-of-fact, non-emotive written communication. Not everyone writes or thinks like you, Summer. Chill out. On the flip side, I have a deep appreciation for fellow enthusiasm enthusiasts.

So there is my quandary. Worrying about too much zeal from my own communication, then unfairly expecting it from others. Double standard much?

I don’t have an answer. I don’t know what the solution is. Not sure there is one. There might not even be a problem. Maybe it is all in my mind.

I would be most interested to hear what you, dear reader, have to say on the issue. Is there such a thing as too much enthusiasm? How do you handle matters like this one? What advice do you have for me?

As always, thanks so much for reading! <– To illustrate my point.

 

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Unpacking a Piece of the Most Important Commandment (If You Don’t MIND)

When I learn something significant or a truth hits me in a new way, especially when it pertains to knowledge of God or spiritual life, it can feel like an earth-shaking moment. Has that ever happened to you?

Today, I want to share with you one such discovery I made some years ago, that impacted my life for the better as it pertains to my pursuit of loving God more fully. The truth is one that was hidden in plain sight, right there in Jesus’ telling of the most important commandment:

“And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.'” – Matthew 22:37

The key word I am highlighting, and the main point of this post, is Jesus’ instruction to love God with all your MIND.

It’s easy to blast past that without thinking about it. But to do so, would, ironically, be disobeying the command in the verse.

The light bulb came on in my mind when reading about that concept in some Bible study curriculum I was going through at the time. It suddenly became clear that it is inherent in the command to actively use my brain activity for God’s glory. That means:

  • Thinking deeply about what I was reading, rather than just hurriedly skimming so I could “check off” my Bible reading for the day
  • Doing more research to find solid answers to questions raised in the text of Scripture
  • Being diligent to find answers to questions others asked about my faith if I didn’t immediately know (1 Peter 3:15)
  • Dwelling on the Person of God and His attributes and works
  • Taking time to pray thoughtfully, again, not rushing through it
  • Thinking through each area of life, asking God to reveal sinful attitudes and actions I may be holding onto
  • “Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). That is to say, going on the offense against stray evil thoughts (we all have them), and actively directing my mind back to “whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, worthy of praise” (paraphrase of Philippians 4:8)

There are also applications for life outside of strictly spiritual pursuits:

  • Doing my best at work, and fighting against a wandering mind that negatively impacts productivity
  • Refusing to engage in gossip about others
  • Embracing complex, necessary tasks rather than avoiding them
  • Thinking biblically about others, even those with whom I fiercely disagree. We are all made in God’s image (James 3:9)
  • Even entertainment choices are subject to scrutiny. Is what I am watching, listening to, or reading helping my walk with God? Is it possible it is not helping or even hurting it?

When I began to think through all these things, it started to become clearer how much junk and sin gets in the way of obeying that command. It is a difficult truth, but its importance cannot be overstated.

Like so many important truths from Scripture, the light bulb coming on was just the beginning. Over the years, as God has mercifully continued working in my life, I’ve been able to flesh out the points above. I am not claiming that I do these things without fail. I certainly do not. But that is the wonderous blessing of sanctification. God continues to work in us throughout our lives. For that, I am most grateful and humbled.

If you have anything to add to my list of applications, please share a comment. Or any other questions or comments – I can’t wait to hear from you! My prayer is that this helps you in your walk with God in some way.

Thank you for reading this post!

 

 

Posted in Advice, Biblical insights, Opinion, prayer, priorities, Theology | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Summer 2018 Adventure Highlights

I make no secret of the fact that summer is my favorite season. No, not because it is my name. It tops the list for me (and my husband Mike) because it is the short window of reliably warm weather in which we can engage in our favorite recreational pursuits.

Hiking, swimming, kayaking, camping, cycling, and others are some of our favorite things to do. While I’ll admit they can be done year round, it just isn’t as appealing to do most of them when it is dripping buckets and 45 degrees outside. Since we have two, maybe three months each year with heavenly weather, it is during that time that we feverishly try to cram in as much outdoor activity as we can, knowing that nine months of rain stands between the next round of adventures.  For a two-minute video explanation of that, set to some of my favorite scenery, click here.

These are the A-B-Cs of me.

That being said, I figured I’d post a handful of highlights of some of our adventures this summer. I have become increasingly bad at posting things on social media regularly, so here they are, at least some of them, in one place.

June

Betting on good weather in June in the Pacific Northwest is about as reliable as betting on a drunkard to win a game of darts.  So when nice weather rears its head earlier than expected, it is time to spring into action.

Seeing as one of our greatest loves is hiking, and we’ve not managed to do much of it in the last several years, I made sure to earmark a few Saturdays to strap on our boots.

The following pics are from our trek up Saddle Mountain, a coast range hike which yields a stunning panoramic view of the ocean and surrounding terrain, on a clear day.

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The stunning wildflower vistas and tree-lined hills on the way up!

Saddle Mountain

Yep, we’re going all the way up there!

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The top was all socked in with fog, but here is a midway selfie.

OK, so we didn’t get that 360-degree view, but we got a good workout. Then…

We proceeded to Cannon Beach, where again the drunkard at the dart game pulled one out for the team; a rare clear, warm, sunny day greeted us as we grabbed lunch and then headed to the sand for a stroll.

Michael David Sorensen

Watercolor artist hubby (Michael David Sorensen) grabs reference shots for a future painting.

The weather was so unusually beautiful that we decided to be spontaneous and stay overnight since we were already there under favorable conditions and didn’t want to go home. There were SO MANY people at the coast, we were lucky to find a hotel room, even more so, an affordable one.

In a busy life full of hustle, work and responsibilities, a reprieve and the opportunity to savor a perfect day are a treat that we remember for a long while.

July

The month of July held two more beach weekends, which totals up to two or three more than usual for us.

The first was a trek down to Depoe Bay, OR where we were generously provided lodging at a vacation home belonging to the owner of an art gallery in town where Mike has some of his watercolor painting for sale.

A general rule of thumb: if you’re driving that far away for the weekend, might as well do more exploring while out and about. On the agenda: lunch at one of our favorite coastal brewpubs (guess which one?), a hike up Cascade Head, driving down the coast for lighthouse viewings, and exploring the sights in Florence, Oregon.

Pacific City, Pelican Brewing

There is usually a long wait for a table on Saturday afternoon at Pelican Brewpub, but the view is hard to beat!

Cascade Head

An early morning jaunt to the top of Cascade Head. Gotta burn off those mochas & pastries from Dutch Bros. somehow!

Heceta Head lighthouse

The beach below Heceta Head lighthouse in Florence is fairly magical IMO.

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Lunch along the Siuslaw River in Florence. The place was mediocre, but the view was great.

Our next beach trip involved camping with some friends in Brookings, OR – the southernmost city on the Oregon Coast before heading into California. It was a long drive (about six hours) for a weekend trip; good thing the scenery was beautiful!

Sea stacks in Brookings, Oregon

The sea stacks on the Southern Oregon coast always blow me away with their beauty.

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We happened upon a stunning bay with turquoise water and a beach that is inaccessible by land. Special bonus: a slackline across the bay, and someone crazy enough to do it while we watched!

On the July weekends that we stayed in town, we put some miles on our hiking boots.

Ramona Falls

Ramona Falls on July 4th weekend with our friends Larry & Sarah.

Mt. Hood, Ramona Falls

Stunning up-close view of Mt. Hood from the Ramona Falls trail.

After the devasting wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge last September and the resultant closure of many of our favorite close by hikes, we ended up going further out, to less popular trails. One such hike afforded views of Mounts Hood, Adams, Rainier & Jefferson. I didn’t get any good pictures on that hike, however.

August

Typically the warmest month of the year, August was a little tricky this year as I had a lingering cold for the first part of the month, to be followed by wildfire smoke for most of two weeks, obscuring the sun, dropping temperatures, and making it less than pleasant to be outside. Nevertheless, we did enjoy some outdoor time.

Another camping trip up to beautiful Lake Quinault in Olympic National Park yielded a mix of clouds, smoke, cool temperatures and rain (it rained buckets on Saturday).

Lake Quinault

Lake Quinault, under the cover of clouds & rain.

Lake Quinault

We moved sites the second day, to a GIANT walk-in site Mike found that had just been vacated.

Though the hopes for a trip camping next to a beautiful lake included swimming and kayaking, we adjusted plans in light of the uncooperative weather. Instead, we napped, sat by the fire, read, went for short hikes and visited. We are decent lemonade makers if you know what I mean.

The rest of the story

Those were some of the highlights of the summer. There were plenty of others, but I don’t want to bore you with excruciating details. Suffice it to say, other hikes, camping, backyard BBQs with friends, family reunions and parties filled our summer with many delightful memories.

We continue to appreciate the stunning beauty of the region in which we live. We count ourselves fortunate to have both our families close by, and a myriad of great friends with whom we share life. It is truly, a wonderful life. We are grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Entertainment, Opinion, priorities, Random, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Scripture Memory: Exciting Update & Encouragement

Hello dear reader!

Recently I posted a blog/vlog discussing the importance to the Christian of memorizing Scripture. I won’t rehash the points here. You can watch the video if you want. I did, however, want to share an exciting update.

At the time of that post, I mentioned that I had found a resource that made it easy to memorize longer passages of Scripture – something I had been wanting to do, but couldn’t quite figure out how. This resource, which I will link to below, helped me achieve a long-standing goal of memorizing Psalm 19.

Using its technique, I moved on to what would previously have seemed an insurmountable challenge. I memorized the entire book of James! All five chapters (108 verses). It took me about two months to do. James has always been one of those epistles that has ministered to me in many ways over the years. And now, I have it committed to memory.

In no way am I saying this to boast. Hardly. More accurately, I share it with you so you know that if I can do it, YOU can do it.

I used to have a rock solid memory; one in which I could and did boast. Being able to retain thousands of little details was great. However, as time has marched on, I am sad to say my memory is not as sharp as it used to be. I rely on notes a lot more now, and my brain space gets filled up a lot easier than it ever did before. That is why I am confident that if I can do it, you can.

With a desire to hide God’s word in your heart (Psalm 119:11), humbly asking for His help to do it, and committing to work diligently at it, you too can memorize whole chapters and even books of the Bible.

Here is the link to the pamphlet I read that got me started:

https://scripturememory.com/downloadables/andrewdavis.pdf

What do you think? Are you ready to commit more Scripture to memory? If you decide to try it, I would love to hear how it goes!

Have a great week, and thank you for reading this blog post!

 

Posted in apologetics, Bible / Christian Living, Biblical insights, Lifehacks, Opinion | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Remembering Toonces, Her Life As Told by Mom

Today marks the sad occasion when we chose to have our cat, Toonces, put down, due to failing health and complications from old age.

Toonces was our cat for 16.3 years. She lived a good, long, pampered life. My aim here is to highlight her journey.

Toonces was the fulfillment of a promise I made to myself in eighth grade. I have always loved cats, and I had several from elementary school through junior high. Unfortunately, each one managed to meet their end either in a tragic way or in one case, simply disappearing, never to be seen again.

After the loss of our fourth cat, my parents decided they’d had enough. They refused to let me get another cat, and suffer more tragedy. I was upset, but I knew their minds were made up. It was at that time I vowed to myself that as soon as I finished school and moved out on my own, I would get another cat. That was sometime in the mid-90s.

Fast forward to 2002.

Fresh out of college, I had moved to the tiny South Texas town of Beeville to take a job as the evening DJ at a country radio station. At that time I was determined to eventually become a syndicated radio star, and getting your start in an unrated market was the natural first step.

Living in my own apartment for the first time (2200 miles from home), I remembered my vow and realized I was now able to fill the ever-present longing in my heart for a kitten.  However, I was hesitant to take on any additional expenses in light of my meager salary. I was indecisive about it, and not ready to make a move.

One sweltering hot Saturday afternoon (in other words, any old Saturday in South Texas), I was on my way home from a walk, when I came upon what I later referred to as the “ghetto roadside humane society.” A group of kind-hearted ladies had formed an organization with the intent of finding a home for every stray cat in town. They took them all under their wings, refusing to take them to the actual humane society, where they would likely get euthanized if they weren’t adopted.

They had lawn chairs set up by the road, with pop-up tents providing shade for a couple open kennels full of kittens, and some older cats up for grabs to a good home. In my uncertain financial state, I planned to just keep walking, but I thought to myself, “I could at least go take a look.” Famous last words.

The selection process

I had my heart set on a gray, frisky kitten, to replace the last one I had as a youth, that had gone missing after only a few weeks. I found a cute gray one, sitting in a box with several other kittens that were resting in the hot afternoon sun. My mind was almost made up, except for one thing. Frisky, high energy and gray were equal criteria in cat selection. The gray one was definitely not high energy, but she fit the bill for looks.

Sharing the box with her was an adorable fuzz ball with a black & gray head and back, with the rest of her body white. While the other kittens tried to nap, this one was stumbling about like eight-week-old kittens do, frolicking, and climbing over the sleepy cats as if to say in kitten-ese: “Hey guys, it’s time to play! What’s everyone sitting around for?? Hey, who wants to play? Hey!”

I knew I “needed” this cat, but was hung up on the gray one. The lady managing the kennel slyly suggested I could have both. I wasn’t even sure about one, let alone two. But she assured me they would pay for its shots, so I decided, what the hey, why not take both of them?

As a side note, I did take both, but they gray one turned out to have serious health problems (it sat motionless most of the time and would sit in the litter box without moving for long periods, so I gave it back to them after a week or so). I only mention it because she was part of the story.

That is how I ended up with Toonces. She was my roommate and faithful companion in those lonely months away from friends and family. My odd working hours and introverted tendencies provided me with only two hours of human interaction each day, with co-workers, before everyone in the office and studio left for the day, and I was alone doing my show until midnight.

I would return home to have her greet me at the door, meowing with happiness to see me. I was equally happy to see her cute face, but I left the meowing to her.

Next stages of life

When it was time to head back to the northwest, I packed up all my belongings into my 1983 Honda Civic hatchback and placed my beloved Toonces in her cat carrier perched where I could see her from my rear view mirror. As we made the multi-day journey home, through the hot southwestern United States in a small car without air-conditioning, though I was extremely uncomfortable as well, Toonces did enough whining for both of us.

Upon my return, I did the now standard boomerang move and reclaimed my childhood bedroom at my folks’ house while I worked on the next part of the plan. My parents wouldn’t allow Toonces in the house (something about ruined furniture I guess?), but my dad allowed her to stay in his workshop, where I would frequently go out to visit and let her run loose in the yard under supervision. It wasn’t an ideal dwelling, but I didn’t have many other options.

Eventually, I moved out to rent a room in someone’s home; another dwelling where the cat was not welcome to roam the house. Having no other choice, I turned her loose to become an outdoor cat by day, and in the evening I would bring her into my room, where she was allowed, as long as she was kept contained.

An upward trajectory

After having survived in conditions that she I am sure she felt were far beneath her queenly status, things took an upward swing. A move to an apartment with a couple cat-loving roommates (one being a cat whisperer) meant three times the affection and freedom to claim the whole living space. Finally, dwellings worthy of her royalty.

She thrived in this environment, got fat, remained sassy, and continually filled my heart with delight at her cuteness and friskiness.

As bachelorette living goes, things change often, and people get married. When the cat-whisperer roommate got hitched, it was time to move again. This time back to a rented room, where Toonces was confined to my bedroom when I wasn’t home, to avoid destroying the homeowner’s fancy furniture. Although it wasn’t ideal, it was at this stage in the game that a new dynamic changed everything.

Introducing … your future dad

In July 2009, I invited a handsome bachelor over for dinner. It is worth noting that over the years, Toonces developed highly anti-social tendencies. She would run and hide whenever someone unknown to her entered the house. So imagine my surprise when, this guy in whom I was extremely interested comes over and sits down in the kitchen, and Toonces heads straight for him, jumps on his lap and allows herself to be petted like he was her best friend. It was a sight to behold.

Mike Toonces 1st meeting

Mike and Toonces meeting for the first time.

Their friendship became cemented from that point forward, as that handsome bachelor became my husband, and Toonces suddenly had a father. 🙂 Turns out that Mike is a cat-whisperer himself, and it quickly became clear that Toonces liked his doting ways even better than she seemed to like me!

Family of three

From 2010 on, it was nothing but luxurious living for the cat. She had her own place, which she was kind enough to share with her mom and dad, and the transitions and woes of the unstable life behind her.

She remained a frisky cat until the last few years. We got endless amusement out of her fiercely batting around pens and bottle caps and tirelessly chasing the red dot from the laser pointer. She warmed our laps in the evening, retained an unquenchable need to be petted at all times, and looked and acted like a youthful cat for many years.

She had spells of acting naughty, some of which were very trying for mom, and later for dad. I suppose all pets do that. But overall, the joy, mirth, and cuteness she provided far outweighed the trouble she caused.

It was sad to see her slow down over the last year and troubling to see her health take a nosedive in the last few months. I shed many a tear thinking about the inevitable arrival of this day. Her symptoms of illness were adding up, and the full-of-life cat that we had known was replaced with a sickly, weak, shrinking, shell of a kitty with very little life or energy left in her. In the end, we knew it was time.

It was a very gut-wrenching decision to make. But I am convinced it was the right one. We had over 16 years of delight with Toonces; many more than I ever thought possible. She used up all of her nine lives with flair. In so doing, she brought untold joy to our lives. We’ll miss that cat something fierce.

IMG_1227

Toonces even learned to take selfies! 😉

 

 

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13 Obvious Facts, About Which There Can Be No Dispute

I’ll jump right in here and list some facts!

  1. The correct way to hang a roll of toilet paper is with the paper facing out. Everybody knows this.
    tp_diag01
  2. When telling a story, if you find yourself without a suitable ending, just say, “So … yeah.” Works every time to wow your audience.
  3. Cats are superior to dogs as pets. Enough said.

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    How can you argue with that face?

  4. It is appropriate to brush your teeth after breakfast, not before.
    If you brush before, you get rid of morning breath, only to foul it up again upon eating breakfast and/or drinking coffee. Not to mention, the minty taste doesn’t jive well with food. Come on now, pre-breakfast toothbrushers. Listen to reason.
  5. When you’re sick, coughing and sneezing into your elbow is polite. Using your hand is barely more sanitary than not covering your mouth at all. Defiling your hand with mungy mucus, then proceeding to touch things that others might touch, thus spreading germs – where is the love in that??
  6. When it comes to a box of chocolates, the ones with fruit filling are revolting.
  7. People who regularly state their opinions as facts cannot be trusted. (Unless they are right.)
  8. The Golden Rule is based on the words of Jesus (Matthew 7:12). The Platinum Rule is based on ever-changing cultural wisdom. Therefore, Golden Rule wins.
  9. Facts don’t care about your feelings. (Ben Shapiro coined this one, I believe.)
  10. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Unless it is a romance novel with an illustrated cover picture of a shirtless, glistening-bare-chested man. Then you absolutely should judge it.
  11. The characters in Parks & Recreation are more endearing than those in The Office (American version).
  12. To up the ante even more, Park and Recreation is a better show than The Office. Hey, don’t look at me with that tone of voice.
  13. If you read this whole list, I think you’re neat.
    (Even though you may be in denial of at least one of the facts listed above.)

I really don’t expect any disagreement on this, because, how can anyone argue with facts?? Nevertheless, comments are welcomed. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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