Monthly Archives: October 2014

Let’s Take Another Look at Halloween

Today is Halloween. Are you celebrating? This holiday has caused tension and division in the church for years. Some churches eschew Halloween like the plague; others embrace it in “harvest festivals” and “pumpkin patches.”

Let's Take Another Look at Halloween

Let’s Take Another Look at Halloween
Photo Credit: Joshua Sikora

Do you know the history of Halloween? Do you know its pagan origins? Do you know the original purposes of jack-o-lanterns, bonfires, and trick or treat? If not, perhaps you should before allowing your children to participate in this holiday. Do you know that Halloween is the high holy day of the occult? Do we honor the god of this world when we make celebrations honoring his day? Is that how you want to live your life? Double-minded and double-acting?

I’ve written a short booklet called Let’s Take Another Look at Halloween. It’s available as an e-book for immediate download at Mighty Oak Ministries. And I’ve lowered the price to $3.99. I encourage you to read it and then decide how your family will celebrate today.

A Letter From Your Abba

As I do ministry with women, one of the most devastating problems I encounter is that most people, most women, don’t really understand how loved they are. How precious they are to God. How his love can heal them.

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God clouds sky

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God
Photo Credit: (c) Pat Sikora

The following is from The Father’s Love website. You can also listen to this letter from Abba at the site, or print this out and read it — s-l-o-w-ly — every day until it sinks in to your DNA. I guarantee that if you get this, healing will follow.

My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.

Psalm 139: 1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways.
Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image.
Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring.
Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived.
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation.
Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.

Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.

Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born.
Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented
by those who don’t know me.

John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.

1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.

1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father.
Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.

Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you.
Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul.

Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me.

Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires.
Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine.

Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you.

Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart.

Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes.

Revelation 21:3-4

And I’ll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.

Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.

John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being.
Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you.

Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you.

1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love.

Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me.

1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.

Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.

Luke 15:7

I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.

Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…
Will you be my child?

John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you.
Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

Senior Isolation: The Role of the Church

People often ask me why I don’t bring Mom over to my area rather than leaving her four hours away. There are many practical reasons, including family and cost, but her church is a large part of that decision.

The Church Is Essential in Combating Senior Isolation Edlerly Sunday school

The Church Is Essential in Combating Senior Isolation
Photo Credit: Jim Reynolds

I know that if Mom were here, she would suffer from isolation. My life is far too busy to provide what she needs on a day-to-day basis. However, she has been particularly blessed by her church, which knows how to do seniors well. They have an active seniors group and women’s Bible study, but more than that, there are a number of people who visit her regularly. Some of those are seniors younger than she is. Others from the Bible study are closer to my age. The combination means that she has visitors every week. Sometimes more than once a week. There are women who make sure she has a ride to Bible study and church on Sunday. When she was healthier there were some who made sure she had a ride to the weekly seniors’ luncheon.

I’m so impressed with their faithfulness. Mom has been in assisted living for more than two years and her church is still her lifeline. I don’t see a lot of that level of ministry, but I’m so glad they are there. It’s worth the inconvenience of driving four hours once a month to keep her close to her church.

What does your church do for seniors, especially the ones who are alone, isolated, and unable to drive? It’s something to think about…


Senior Isolation: A Real Problem for the Elderly

Senior Isolation: A Real Problem for the Elderly

Mom has been in skilled rehab for the past few weeks, following several brief hospitalizations. She’s very alone there, and it’s showing.

Old man staring out window

Combating Senior Isolation
Photo Credit: Cristian Ştefănescu

She’s bored, depressed, and not progressing as well as we’d like. The good news is that she assures us she won’t complain about assisted living anymore. At least there she has people there to talk to.

A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Blog has an excellent article on senior isolation. It discusses 20 factors in senior isolation, both causes and impact. It’s a useful read, especially if you are a caregiver. It’s easy to minimize isolation when you’re up and active. It’s entirely different when you’re confined to a wheelchair in rehab, alone, scared, and wondering if you’ll ever be able return to what has become home. Let’s do more to make sure our loved ones don’t suffer this cruel fate.


Lessons on Living to 104

Wishing Won’t Make it So | Denial in Aging


The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard

Kara Tippetts knows about hard. A pastor’s wife and mother of four, she has faced a church split, heart problems, a wild fire that threatened their home, stage four breast cancer, a radical hysterectomy due to tumors in her uterus and ovaries, and brain cancer. She has endured endless tests, surgeries, chemo, and radiation. And yet, she writes graciously and poetically of God’s grace in the midst of life’s hard. With remarkable vulnerability, she shares how her illness has affected her life and the lives of those she loves. She shares about her marriage, her childrearing, and her fears. She even shares how she encouraged her husband to remarry when she is no more.

The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life's Hard by Kara Tippetts

The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard by Kara Tippetts

Tippet says that brokenness is not to be feared, but rather to be received humbly. She affirms unwavering faith in the midst of crushing blow after crushing blow. For her, faith is faith in the moment, for we cannot count on more than this moment. She says, “hard is often the vehicle Jesus uses to meet us, point us to that peace, and reach us grace.”

Tippet’s style is gentle, poetic, and shows a depth cultivated through suffering. My only criticism of the book is the lack of any discussion of prayer for healing. She writes of the many people praying for her and her family, but the sense is that these are prayers for coping, not for healing. It grieves me when I see Christians whose default is acceptance of suffering as from the hand of God. Yes, sometimes God allows suffering, but is it a gift? Is it from him? Or does he call us to pray and believe for healing? I understand that he doesn’t always heal, but if we are to be New Testament believers, how can we deny that Jesus always healed everyone who asked, and healing was the norm in the early church. I fear that we have abdicated that essential tenant of our faith in deference to the flawed theology of Dispensationalism and cessationism. I would have appreciated the book more had she shared of individual and corporate prayers for her healing before resigning herself and her family to living in the hard.

That criticism notwithstanding, this is a gentle book of grace for those who are facing the hard in their lives. The publisher has graciously provided a book for me to give to a reader. So if you or someone you know is facing the hard of life and you would like to read “The Hardest Peace,” leave a comment below. I’ll randomly draw one person’s name and send you a copy of the book.

If you are a blogger, LitFuse offers you an the opportunity to win a complete #HardestPeace Prize Pack, including:

  • A book club pack (10 copies of The Hardest Peacefor you and your small group!)
  • A handcrafted candle
  • Journal
  • Custom Etsy The Hardest Peace print and coffee mug

To enter to win the #HardestPeace Prize Pack, simply blog about your #HardestPeace story and then submit the link to your post via the link-up. Plus stop by others’ stories to leave encouragement and offer prayers as we all travel the journey of life together and discover that the hardest peace is often the most fulfilling peace.

Doing the HARD Thing

I can’t tell you how often I hear, “But that’s hard!” Whether it’s a person I’m doing ministry with or a woman I’m discipling or someone facing a challenge at work, there seems to be a national aversion to doing the hard thing. My usual response? “SO?”

Are you willing to do the hard thing? Weight lifter Woman

Are you willing to do the hard thing?
Photo Credit: Greg Westfall

I’m not sure what has happened to our nation. Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations didn’t flinch at hard. Taking the beach at Normandy? Now that’s hard. Crossing the plains in a covered wagon? Hard. My 13-year-old grandmother came to America from Ireland with the responsibility of working and sending money back for the next sibling to come. That was hard! But it’s the hard things that have made us the nation we are. Or were… And it’s the hard things that build our character, both personally and nationally.

I’ve done a lot of hard things in my life. Admittedly, I groused and complained about many of them. Having to work my way through not only college and grad school, but even high school. Taking responsibility for my siblings when my dad died when I was only 17. Homeschooling my son while recovering from an challenging childhood. Starting seminary at the age of 59. Long distance caregiving. Yep, I’ve done my share of hard. But I like to think it’s built my character. I like to think it’s made me the person I’ve become.

So when I hear that something is hard, I actually rejoice. If I give an assignment that isn’t hard, then it won’t do what it’s supposed it. It’s like weight training. A weight that’s too light won’t do diddly. It’ll make you tired without building muscle. But a weight that’s a little bit heavy. That will do what it’s intended to do. I want people to gain the skill of doing the hard thing because I know it will benefit their character and their healing.

How about you? How do you feel about doing the hard?

Staying Light on Your Feet |A Caregiver’s Life

I usually go to Mom’s monthly for several days. This month, however, has been a marathon. Mom was in the hospital a few weeks ago. My brother handled that one. I went over for our regular appointments. A few days later she was admitted again. My brothers handled that one as well. I arrived the day she was discharged to rehab, within an hour of her admission there.

Ballerina Staying Light on Your Feet

Staying Light on Your Feet
Photo Credit: torbakhopper

They were doing the standard skin check. I pointed out that her foot was really purple. The nurse agreed and ordered an arterial ultrasound. We went back to the hospital for the study. The orders were wrong; it took over an hour to get orders they could use. We finally got the study done. I knew something was wrong when the tech left to “talk to the radiologist.” He recommended we go to the ER, where they would probably admit her – less than 24 hours after her discharge for something that clearly had been present upon discharge! After six hours in the ER and a visit from a vascular surgeon, she was finally admitted about 10:00 pm. Exhausted. The surgeon scheduled an angiogram for 3:00 the following day. However, by the time she was admitted, after several hours of heparin, her foot looked like a baby’s bottom.

I checked back the next morning and was told that the angiogram was still scheduled for 3:00. A few minutes later I got a call from the hospitalist, who said the angiogram had been cancelled since the foot looked so good. Huh? Mom would be discharged at noon. Good news! I arrived at noon, only to learn they needed to give her meds at noon and then run more heparin for two hours. Discharge would be after 2:00. But the surgeon wanted to see her on Monday.

Since I was leaving town, I called to reschedule, and learned that the only reason the angiogram wasn’t done was there was no room in the cath lab schedule. He still planned to do it. I explained my schedule and distance. His nurse sent him over to see us – “Don’t leave until he gets there.” We waited. And waited. About 4:30 he finally came, as did the hospitalist. They argued over whether the angiogram was needed or not. He won. Mom was finally discharged, but I have to go back this week to do more testing and probably the angiogram.

What did I learn? To stay light on my feet. To not take anything too seriously. To stay agile. To keep my attitude light and friendly. To not blame the nurses. To keep Mom calm and focused. Hey, caregiving isn’t for sissies!


Caregiving as Spiritual Warfare

Caregiving: Keeping Track of it All

Staying Flexible | Long Distance Caregiving

Attending Medical Appointments with your Parent