July 27, 2014

Do All Families Talk Perversely?


Hug for


A Devotion

Theatrical release poster by John Alvin

Theatrical release poster by John Alvin

After seeing the movie ET my friend Paul and I had a lively discussion.

“Did they really have to include the kids smoking and the off-color jokes?” I asked. “This ruined the movie for me because it role-modeled negative behavior for kids.”

“This is how all families talk,” said Paul, a youthful manager of a local pizza business, implying I was being too critical.

His statement troubled me. All families talk perversely? The style of joking and pattern of smoking didn’t exist in our household! Was our family different? Was I too critical of “normal” behavior?

I began an unscientific mental survey of our friends. Merle and Naomi, Tom and Diane, Shirl and Wayne, Phyllis and Gene. Did any of them talk that way? I didn’t believe so. Apparently not all families talk perversely and in a manner debasing God’s creation.

Perhaps these families, modeling their behavior on Scriptural imperatives, are not the present day norm. Perhaps these families who show (them)selves guileless and above reproach, faultless children of God in a warped and crooked generation, shine like stars in a dark world and proffer the word of life. (Philippians 2:15, NEB)

Perhaps if today’s perverse and crooked generation whose faults have proved them no children of his(Deuteronomy 32:5-6, NEB)

were to review their behavior they would be convinced to become more Christ-like.

Meanwhile, don’t be fooled. Not all families accept the standards put out in today’s media frenzy.



A 6-Part Study of The Lord’s Prayer: Part 1

Jesus Refuses to Drink the Wine Mixed With Myrrh

Is Your Table Big Enough? If not, add a leaf…

July 6, 2014

The God-Side Protects and Cares




SCRIPTURE: Genesis 3:21   The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (NI)

REFLECTION: Although Adam and Eve’s sin had inevitable and severe consequences God did not back down sympathetically. He understood their nakedness was not only spiritual, but physical, and being empathetic, He replaced their fig leaf covering—having a sandpaper texture—with sturdier and more comfortable animal skin garments.

This is a good model for the church.

When Robin wrote personal checks off a church account there were consequences. However, congregational empathy kicked in with a consensus to open a door for her repentance. That opening allowed her to pay back stolen the money rather than to face criminal charges. The church offered clothing “sturdier than fig leaves.”

Ultimately, Robin (more…)

October 13, 2013

Free Hugs & Gold Lions in Portsmouth, N. H.



Hugs for students at the Paul Mitchell School of Beauty


Hug for Jeremy, the Lion Man


(also read Winter Destination: Portsmouth, New Hampshire )

As many of you know, my husband Monte follows the Upper Room Online Devotional, and also interacts chat-room style with others who do likewise.

On September 25, 2013, the Upper Room devotion, written by Nola Passmore (Queensland, Australia), was titled: The Ministry of Hospitality. It was based on the Scripture 3 John 1-12. She wrote that Hospitality is sometimes undervalued, but it has been an important ministry from the first days of the church.

Monte and I experienced many brief—and some not so brief—-hospitality encounters while we journeyed our way through New England in September 2013. At the time that Nola’s devotion was published we’d just experienced two unique hospitality encounters. Monte shared them on the devotional site in his comments.

He wrote (While strolling through the downtown area of Portsmouth, New Hampshire) Carolyn and I…(experienced) …Two hospitality events:

  • a group of (black-clad) students from a beauty school* and their teacher were celebrating National Free Hug Day on a downtown street corner (it was in front of the Athenaeum). They had (more…)

March 31, 2013

To God Be The Glory…Easter 2013


SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 5:19 …. speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
Related Scripture: 1 Chronicles 16:23; James 5:13

FNF_Easter-Coloring-PG16REFLECTION: One of my favorite hymns is To God Be the Glory. I sing it to taped music when I am home alone.

Three neighbor girls, sisters Missy, Dora and Becky, frequently visited, often showing up so quietly I wouldn’t realize they were there. Their shyness prevented them from talking much as they hung around me while I went about my tasks.

One day when they appeared I was singing loudly while doing dishes. They not only enjoyed my impoverished musical effort but liked the song. I suggested they learn it.

They had a great time practicing this difficult hymn, a feat even more difficult considering their age and lack of church background. Soon they were crooning it out like teen-agers bellow out their favorite popular hits.

I suggested they sing it during the children’s time at a church service, as a gift to the pastor. Very reluctantly they agreed, but I had to let them (more…)

March 28, 2013

Jesus Refuses to Drink the Wine Mixed With Myrrh


SCRIPTURE: Mark 15:23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

REFLECTION: When Jesus was hanging on the cross he refused to salve his thirst with wine mixed with myrrh.


Certainly, it was not because he was against drinking alcoholic beverages. After all, he changed water into wine at the wedding feast.

Perhaps the wine was offered to help numb the inhuman pain he was about to suffer. Having spikes driven through both hands and both legs would create excruciating pain. I have a difficult time believing even wine with myrrh would serve to protect the receiver from pain under this circumstance.

Why else could the wine have been offered to Jesus? Perhaps it was a form of (more…)

August 19, 2012

A Martha and Mary Situation



Monte and I had spent a week preparing the house and food for special company: meeting a sister whom my mother released for adoption 63 years ago.

Monte with
the pie

In the wee hours of the day of their visit Monte was preparing pies—two rhubarb pies (one requested for the meal we would share, the other a gift for my sister to take home with her) and an apple pie for my new brother-in-law and myself (neither of us care for rhubarb pie).By the time I rose and shone the pies were baking and Monte was cleaning the kitchen mess. The rest of the meal was prepared. The day before I had prepared a New England pot roast, and a friend, Joanne, responding positively to my request, was making the salad.

While the pies finished baking Monte read an Upper Room1 devotional about a woman who was asked to prepare a funeral dinner. Never having done anything like this, she became overwhelmed and worried. On the day of the dinner other persons were at the church to help, the dinner was prepared on time, and the receivers were grateful for it.

The Luke story relates the contrast between two women, Mary and Martha: Martha spends her time in the kitchen preparing the meal. I was like Martha, overwhelmed by preparations and worried about getting the work done.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” (Luke 10:38-42)

Mary chose the better way by sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to his words.

At times we worry about performing our tasks more than focusing on our Lord. The better thing is to stop and listen to Jesus. Since we cannot literally sit at Jesus’ feet, we can ask the help of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit helps us to pray, to understand scripture, to relate to others, and to be more Christlike in our love.1

Monte responded:

Thank you, Michelle. Today is a special day at our household. We are meeting for the first time, (more…)

July 17, 2012

The Humming Bird Said: I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up



Co-written With Monte W. Holland

My husband Monte and I sit on our patio on summer mornings, enjoying coffee, breakfast, the newspaper—and the birds. The other day Monte was impressed to see a red-breasted hummingbird at the red-liquid filled bird feeder. We know they are there when we hear the hum from their rapidly beating wings.

Tennesseean Gary Dowdy and his wife also enjoy watching humming birds at their bird feeders, watching them flutter and circle, feed on the nectar, and chase each other. We marvel at their beauty, their tiny wings, and their ability to hover in midair, Dowdy said, leading into the following story he shared on the Upperroom online devotion site1:

One day after I heard a thud against the patio door, I saw a hummingbird on the ground. I picked it up and discovered that the small creature was stunned but still alive. For the next 15 minutes I held the little hummingbird in the palm of my hand. I stroked its feathers and talked gently to it until it regained its ability to fly. When I told my wife of my experience, she said it was like having the power of God in my hands.1

Monte decided to respond to Dowdy’s experience by turning the story around:

Thanks Gary for a great devotional. I want to speak for the hummingbird, from the hummingbird’s perspective:

What just happened? I was (more…)

April 10, 2012

Preach Christian Principles to an Abuse Victim????



     Recent statistics confirm former research that one in three (or four) women will experience abuse, even  sexual assault, in their lifetime— many being victims of child sexual abuse.  Studies also confirm that one in four women are victims of domestic violence.

Church congregations include many of these women, who come bearing the effects of their traumatic, destructive, life experiences. Often, dare I say mostly, the pastor is unaware of their congregant’s experiences, their secrets.  And the pastor, rightly, preaches his message according to Biblical principles.

Below are five situations that are common in church congregations:

  • Becky was raped by her father when she was eight years old.
  • Judy was molested by the church organist when she was nine.
  • Mary’s teenage brother played doctor with her at age five.
  • Alice is adopted. Her biological mother gave birth to her out of wedlock.
  • Barb escaped a physically and emotionally abusive husband through divorce.

What are the messages that these women hear preached, not only from the pulpit, but throughout the church? Typically they emphasize the following:

  • to remain sexually pure until marriage—sex is only to be between  wedded husband and wife.
  • that the offspring of a sinful relationship, a relationship between two unwedded persons, is a bastard, illegitimate  (there is actually an adoption website named bastard)
  • that marriage vows state ‘til death you do part


(to read about Spiritual Obstacles to Leaving Abuse click on )


     From the perspective of the congregant, whether a teenager or an adult, the traditional message only increases their shame, guilt, (more…)

February 17, 2012

Post List for the Lenten Study: The Seven Deadly Sins



The following lists the posts in the Lenten Study on The Seven Deadly Sins. Remember, Sundays and Good Friday do not fall in the Lenten season.

(NOTE: Another devotional study, 26 Devotions Based on the Alphabet, begins at this link: )


Ash Wednesday: Intro to Lenten Study on the Seven Deadly Sins


Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Greed #1: Greed or Generosity


Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Envy #1: Envy or Love


Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Anger #1: Brotherly Anger (more…)

January 19, 2012

Is Your Table Big Enough? If not, add a leaf…



If not, add a leaf…

     Are you seeking persons to whom you can demonstrate God’s love?

     STOP! You don’t have to seek. In fact, if you are seeking you might just miss the persons that God intends you to give love to.

     Unless you are a hermit living in a cave, isolated from communication with any other human being, a multitude of opportunities to express God’s love crosses your path each day. You don’t have to seek them…they are ever present: the grumpy waitress, the mother maneuvering two young children and multiple shopping bags, the bored face in the doctor’s waiting room, the person in a wheel chair who is unable to reach the item on the shelf, the isolated and the lonely, the overworked and overstressed…


     Recently, I was in Cleveland Heights “window” shopping at an upscale mall. I wandered into a store to be greeted by a clerk asking if I needed help.

     “No,” I said. “I’m just passing through.”

     Then I hesitated.

     “You know, there is one thing I’m looking for. I don’t know it you have it, but I’ve looked everywhere for it, and just cannot find it.”

     “Well, perhaps I can help,” she said. “What is it?”

     I paused before answering: (more…)

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