Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Word Ladder

I've been working on a certain story off and on for twenty years, often with months or even years between looking at the latest draft. Obviously, its content means a great deal to me. Yet I keep needing to alter at least some element.  With each step, I feel I'm coming closer to its final version.

Today, as I completed the revision that makes me happy for now, I feel as if this story has become a sort of word ladder puzzle.  Do you know the mind challenge?  You've given a word -- such as foal  -- and you have to change one letter at a time until it becomes another word -- such as mare. (I just made that up, so don't strain hard to solve it.  But if you do, let me know.) Usually you have a strictly limited number of steps for the alterations.

I'm glad my writing hasn't been limited to five steps, because I'm well past that. And I'm glad there aren't limits in life, either. I've changed so much in the past years, yet I still feel like me.  Whether it's growth, redirection or even decline, I'm grateful for the push and the grace to change organically and with the time needed to absorb the transformation.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


Whenever I travel, I pray for protection and blessings over the whole experience.  For this trip, I felt that I should also pray for patience, grace and good attitudes toward any difficulties of travel. There is always something: flight delays, last minute changes of gates at the airport, long lines, misplaced luggage. I try to be patient, but this time I felt I should pray for help in keeping up a good spirit. I won't say that I was perfect, but I think I did a bit better. Certainly the long flights and connections gave me opportunities to practice a positive attitude.

And the reward was: Scotland! A wonderful country.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Seeking Refuge

Just finished a wonderful book called Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis. Published in 2016, it won an Award of Merit from Christianity Today in 2017. The work combines careful research, lots of statistics, and personal accounts.

Bill and Lynn Hybels wrote a compelling forward about their experiences oversees and work with churches in this country.  The three co-authors each provide unique perspectives on the plight of people fleeing violence and justice around the world. Stephan Bauman leads global operations for World Relief, a faith-based organization helping refugees, and he speaks of work internationally and in U.S. churches. Matthew Soerens works with local churches and explains immigration law. Dr. Issam Smeir, the son of a refugee, counsels traumatized refugees.

The book builds on a Biblical basis, citing the period when Joseph had to flee with his family to protect Jesus from Herod and detailing commands from the Old and New Testaments that require compassion and justice for foreigners and the outcast. It carefully delineates the process for someone to become officially recognized as a refugee by the international community and to be granted refugee status after clearing security and health checks for entry into the United States. The authors detail the process for settlement in the United States and the role that local churches may play in facilitating a successful adaptation.

The authors address concerns such as hesitation and fears in dealing with those of different cultures, as well as the challenges that face refugees, often coming to their new home with significant trauma after years of conflict. They point out that many refugees are displaced within their own countries or in a bordering country, often living years in a refugee or detention camp. A tiny percentage actually resettle in a third country, such as the U.S.

Seeking Refuge addresses root causes for crisis migration, delving into profound, complex and often international causes of violence and injustice. It ends with a plea for Christians to care for strangers, offering prayer, hospitality, mercy and justice.