Hallmark Moments

Think Hallmark movies are corny? You may be right but they may be truer to life than you think.

I confess. I watch Hallmark movies and right now the Christmas movies are out in full force. I have a friend who also watches Hallmark movies and I wait in anticipation of her pithy comments on each show. Here are just a few: “Tonight’s Hallmark tally: 2 more dead parents, 1 divorced and absent father. Mamas, don’t let your kids grow up to star in Hallmark movies.”Forty-five minutes in and the wife of the main character is dead. Seriously, why isn’t the funeral home the center of activity in these small towns? ” “Tuned in late for tonight’s Hallmark Christmas movie premiere. Never fear: we have one dead mother. The love interest really should be an undertaker.”

While I laugh at her comments and agree that most of the movies are just rewrites with different characters, the fact is, there is something that keeps people coming back to watch them. That is probably the improbable but happy endings and the thought that maybe, just maybe, no matter how bad life gets, there is hope.

Unfortunately, people with happy, balanced, functional families are more rare than one would think. The Hallmark movies include parents and spouses who have passed away; dysfunctional relationships that have gone awry; cheating boyfriends, girlfriends, and  spouses; all-consuming jobs and lying coworkers; poor choices; forgiveness issues; and a plethora of things we actually find in true life.

We all know tragic stories of young fathers and mothers whose lives were cut short by accident and illness, leaving young children to be raised by one parent. Many of the scenarios I have seen on the show, I have watched play out in someone’s life. Everyday life is messy, filled with unexpected challenges, and far from perfect.

Just in my own life I see examples of some of the occurrences in the Hallmark movies. My dad’s father passed away when my dad was 13. My mom grew up dirt-poor, with a father who was institutionalized for years of his adult life because of his struggle with manic-depression (which we now call bi-polar disease). I do not remember him at all. My husband’s father passed away when he was 16. I had a friend who was engaged, only to find out her new fiance was  married.  My life has certainly had bumps along the way. Sexual abuse as a child, self-doubt, marriage challenges, the death of a spouse, joblessness . . . all of these have impacted me.

I think the one thing that keeps people coming back to these movies (other than to critique them in a spirit of fun!) is that they ultimately let good triumph.

As a Christian, the truth is there is hope. I have been blessed with a wonderful family, strong friendships, and, most of all, a faith that sustains me and lets me know that no matter what, I have my happily ever after. In the end what matters is that I trust and believe in God’s promises. Even though life here isn’t perfect, what he has in store for me in eternity is. That will be my Hallmark moment.

Revelation 21:4-7

He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever.

Then the one sitting on the throne said:

I am making everything new. Write down what I have said. My words are true and can be trusted. Everything is finished! I am Alpha and Omega,[a] the beginning and the end. I will freely give water from the life-giving fountain to everyone who is thirsty. All who win the victory will be given these blessings. I will be their God, and they will be my people.






A Little Odor

Saturday morning I left my home to run some errands and when I came back and walked in the kitchen area, I noticed an unpleasant odor, not unlike that of a potato starting to rot. Investigating further, I decided that the odor was probably from the bag of potatoes in my pantry. They had been sitting in there long enough to start sprouting, and not looking any further, I threw them away. The odor lingered, but I assumed that it would dissipate fairly quickly now that the potatoes were gone. But it is a funny thing about odors. Sometimes when you are in them long enough, you do not even smell them anymore.

Sunday morning I left for church and when I returned home once again a slightly foul stench greeted me. This time I was determined to find out what it was and tackled my refrigerator and pantry with zeal to find the culprit! I threw out a couple of oranges that had started to go bad and discarded anything that had passed its expiration date. I have to tell you, my pantry has not been this organized since I moved in my house. BUT, I found the culprit. There it was–a small loaf of bagel thins that had disintegrated into mold when they had slid into a hiding place behind some cans. No doubt about it, when I got a whiff of the package, I knew I had found the problem.

But, alas, when I came home from work this evening, that smell was still around–only stronger. On a mission, I opened the refrigerator only to realize that even though I had thrown out some fruit that was starting to go bad, I had somehow missed the small bag of brussel sprouts in the vegetable bin. If you have ever smelled rotten cabbage, you know why I hastily ran the package to the garbage and have FINALLY eliminated the nasty odor.

For some reason, this experience has made me think about sin in our lives. Somehow sin sneaks up on us and we do not realize we have a problem until we start to “smell the stink.” We start to have that small little niggle of doubt and suddenly realize we have drifted away from God. We have stopped spending time reading His Word and talking with Him. We have stopped loving fellowship with others and started letting bad habits take over. When we get to this point, we tend to look first for the things that everyone will recognize as sin in our lives, like cheating or lying, and we work on getting rid of those. But there are still those underlying things that cause us to drift from God. Things that get in the way.

Because we have not dealt with the truth of our sins, we  get used to the odor, but occasionally, we still find ourselves getting a whiff of the stench. To get rid of the smell, it frequently takes a thorough look at areas in our lives that we would rather not confront. When we take a deep look and see the sins that lie within us it is not pretty. There may be some more obvious sins such as sexual sins, drunkenness, gluttony and more that need to be confronted. But we may still struggle with the smell, because we have not taken care of some of those core sins that lead to many other excesses. Sins like jealousy, envy, pride, bitterness, gossip and more are sometimes harder for us to root out and get rid of because we would rather ignore them.

I do not know about you, but I know that I am forever grateful to God, who has seen fit to forgive my sins. And I pray that when I start to smell a stench, I will carefully search out the culprit so that I can be a pleasing aroma to God.

I John 1:9 (NASB)If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Be a Difference Maker

We have them all around us–the lonely, the mentally ill, the disenfranchised, the bullied and the bullies. Sometimes they are almost invisible. Teachers see them every day at their schools, but there is not enough time nor enough resources to reach each one individually.

We see the patterns of individuals who isolate themselves from others, who have obsessions with violent video games, who have not been taught positive ways to deal with anger, grief, pain, and loneliness. And yet, we still do not recognize the signs until it is too late to save them and others from their own poor judgments. Continue reading “Be a Difference Maker”

What’s Her Story?

We all have them in our churches. Women whose lives are full of hurt and pain, who struggle with job loss, economic woes, health issues, parenting issues, and more. They sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday, trying to trust God with their struggles and frequently wearing a mask to cover their pain. We will never know their stories unless we make the effort to invite them into our lives and discover who they are.

A friend and I listened as a woman shared her story of a son who is struggling with paranoid schizophrenia. She lived in fear as she watched his hallucinations and bizarre behaviors become increasingly more frequent. The hours leading to his involuntary hospitalization were something I would never wish for anyone. My heart ached for her and her pain. We held hands as we prayed for her family. My friend and I both prayed that God’s healing hand would be on this family, but it was her prayer that made me cry as I truly saw the heart of a mother who loved God. Continue reading “What’s Her Story?”

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

d4d99c902daa5cbcb06a9bf93963714f-big-mirrors-round-mirrors-hallwayFor our recent annual writer’s retreat we rented a lovely, large home that had enough space for us to spread out and write. One of the first things I noticed when I arrived was a large mirror hanging on the wall at the foot of the staircase.

Now there are things in my life I seriously have love/hate relationships with–my computer, my car, and food, for example. But my relationship with mirrors? There is no doubt; I absolutely have a hate relationship with them! Can you imagine that?

Mirrors simply reflect the image in front of them (unless they are magic like in Snow White). When I look in the mirror, I see an aging overweight body, a graying head of hair and a double chin. The mirror reflects the reality of my aging self. And mirrors with a magnifying glass? Who needs that?

The tricky thing about mirrors is what you see is based on your perspective.  Continue reading “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”

The Cost of Compromising Our Dreams

Recently I was having a discussion with a friend regarding the current #metoo movement. From my perspective, I think it is healthy to be having a discussion regarding the rampant culture that allows sexual harassment to remain unchecked for generations. It is easy for us to point the finger at Hollywood and the rampant immorality that has existed. It is easy for us to condemn the abusers, and yes, even those who are abused. The fact that people seeking to become actors and writers and directors allowed the abuse to happen, and even participate in it, does not mitigate the responsibility all around. While there are many complex issues involved in the why and how of the abuse, the fact remains that finally we are having a discussion and people are being held accountable for the abuses.

The issue is far more pervasive than just in Hollywood. Continue reading “The Cost of Compromising Our Dreams”

Come as You Are

This morning as I was pondering so many of the difficulties my friend’s are having, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness as I realized all of the needs out there. The diagnosis of breast cancer, the possibility of losing a spouse, the challenges of being a parent, the ravages of grief, the unanswered questions of why God does not answer prayers the way we think should happen–all of these issues came at me like a starship in hyper drive. Life can become overwhelming at times, and even as Christians who know we should put our trust in God, we sometimes become shaky in our faith.

Life is frequently hard–even for those who put their faith and trust in God. I love Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 and often cling to them when my life seems to be in chaos (which is more frequently than I like to admit!). Continue reading “Come as You Are”

The Fear Factor

indexI was 10 years old when we moved to “the farm.” All eight of us (Dad and Mom and 6 kids) lived in a two bedroom home with two additional bedrooms in the upstairs attic space. We had no running water, a coal stove to heat the entire house, and no running water for the indoor toilet, necessitating–the outhouse! And it is there that my very real fear of spiders began after listening to one of my male cousins tell me that when I used the outhouse a spider was going to come and bite me on the butt. I know that my fear of spiders is hugely unrealistic, but in my mind a totally improbable fear became rooted. Even today I hate spiders!

The fact of the matter is, most of us have fears in our lives. They come from various arenas and are frequently unrealistic, but they are indeed present. Continue reading “The Fear Factor”

Lessons from a Hummingbird

imagesI remember it like it was yesterday. My husband came in from the garage and told me that a hummingbird had flown into the garage and he was trying to get it out. The problem was that every time he tried to catch the hummingbird to help it out of the garage, it would flee from him.  Deciding that he would just leave the garage with the doors wide open, he came in the house so the hummingbird would not feel threatened.

As we periodically checked on the hummingbird, we found that he was flying up high and would not fly lower to where the open door was.  We watched as he flew into the walls over and over again in trying to fly away. Continue reading “Lessons from a Hummingbird”

Does Praise and Worship Really Matter?

This morning I was very tempted just to stay home in anticipation of bad weather. Instead, I braved the gloomy skies and headed out to church. I was so blessed to participate in praise and worship and be reminded of how great and good our God really is! There is something refreshing about praising God and taking the focus off of myself and putting it on my Creator instead.

I want to start off this year by talking about why praise and worship is so important to me. Continue reading “Does Praise and Worship Really Matter?”