Naked Baby

Naked BabyGreat GrandmaWhen we saw the email from Donn with this tag line, we wondered why he was doing it. We’d seen the picture of Elizabeth Anne with her great grandparents in Iowa (on the left). She was so full of smiles we could do nothing but smile back. But the “naked baby” picture (on the right) made the smiles all the larger! Naked baby didn’t mean no clothes, but no oxygen tubes! She’s completely off now. No tubes, no tanks. As she comes into her third month, she’s doing super well. Donn and Elizabeth will join Sherry in Phoenix on the weekend of February 22 for a time with her family before her Mom leaves for Arkansas. I have to say I really miss being with the little girl.

Last week was missions teaching week. I did two sessions (What if I run into a demon and Do I have to believe in Jesus to go to heaven?) at Missions Connexion Northwest. Both were well attended, doubling and tripling the chairs. fortunately it was in the unfinished lower floor at Rolling Hills so overflow was no problem. Hearing was! Then I did five Perspectives on World Christian Mission in Post Falls, Richland, Spokane, Boring and Milwaukie. Those along with the weekend class, Interfacing Science and Theology, preaching at Grace, having Nicole and Joy here while David and Sam went to Blue Man Group, and many hours spent in my current crisis, made it an extremely busy week.

One of the ladies from Sherry’s Bible study group discovered she has a very nasty form of cancer, peritoneal cancer. It’s been fascinating to see Sherry’s pastoral gifts coming out as she lead the group in praying for Janet, joining the church prayer group on Sunday between services, then going to minister to her and her husband in the hospital after Monday’s surgery and now leading the Bible study group again. I am super proud of my pretty wife. Her birthday is February 3.

Thursday I leave for Chicago to spend Friday signing 1250 copies of Vintage Jesus (see the website here). It still seems ostentatious to do this. That 1250 pre pub books sold in 10 days still boggles my mind! Maybe spending 6 hours of steady signing is the penalty for being slow in writing on book three! Happily, I’ll get to spend Thursday evening with Linda Cheng, an alum from Taiwan who is doing her second doctorate in psychology at Wheaton. I taught at her seminary. Being with her will bring back many memories of happy times in Taichung, times I sincerely pray will happen again sometime.

I am done with being sixty as of yesterday. Being on Facebook meant a lot more birthday greetings from around the world, especially Lebanon. Birthdays are for the little boy. I wish it could be celebrated properly. Some day. Melissa had cake in the faculty lounge with candles that wouldn’t blow out. I wasn’t doing well, having spent the previous 5 hours investing in a deep crisis situation. I spent 6 hours from 3 to 10 teaching, which is a great thing to do on my birthday. Ray Lubeck brought his class into mine to sing happy birthday. Tamara brought another cake!

There’s so much good, God stuff going on.


I’ll be preaching on Luke 6:12-26 at Grace on Jan. 27. So I’ve been thinking about happiness, the word we usually translate as “blessed.” I did some research to see what people think will make them happy. The self-help people find happiness inside. So if slim down, bulk up, do some therapy, treat yourself to some new things, and such. The problem is that it doesn’t work. In fact, it seems that people who focus on themselves are among the unhappiest people. They seem ever more dissatisfied with everything.

On the other hand, the science of happiness has turned up some not so amazing results: Happiness is correlated with autonomy (feeling that your activities are self-chosen and self-endorsed), competence (feeling that you are effective in your activities), relatedness (feeling a sense of closeness with others) and self-esteem.

Gratitude has a lot to do with life satisfaction, psychologists say. Talking and writing about what they’re grateful for amplifies adults’ happiness, new studies show. Other researchers have found that learning to savor even small pleasures has the same effect. And forgiveness is the trait most strongly linked to happiness, says University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson. “It’s the queen of all virtues, and probably the hardest to come by,” he adds.

The single most impacting factor is the quantity and quality of relationships. The happiest people spend the least time alone. They pursue personal growth and intimacy; they judge themselves by their own yardsticks, never against what others do or have. Those relationships are places where giving becomes central. So simple living is positive and commercialism and materialism is toxic to happiness. A good declaration would be ‘more fun, less stuff.’ Give it away for the fun of it! 

If you want a really intriguing exploration, have a look at University of Leicester Produces the first ever World Map of Happiness. #1 is Denmark, #23 is USA, #62 is France, #82 is China, #125 is India, #167 Russia, and #177 and 178 are Zimbabwe and Burundi at the bottom.

In my case, happiness has been eroded by getting schedule mixed up so instead of teaching my first Perspectives on the world Christian Movement, I’m at home. It is actually next Thursday. The problem is that Sherry had bought me tickets to RiverDance to celebrate my birthday for next Thursday. So now I have to see what we can do to change tickets.



I’ve been working with some enormously difficult counseling situations this month. Of course I can’t talk about them in a blog! But a common thread among several is that they are places where relationships have failed because of the human condition called sin! Sexual sin, depression, overwhelming fears. The list is long.

The point that makes me pause is how powerful trust is. Sherry and I have it. So when we talk, there’s the climatNicole Thoughtful about Movinge of trust that makes us begin leaning toward each other, hearing statements in a presumption tWake up Snuggleshat she loves me and wants my best. So misunderstandings are easy to clear up because we expect good will.

In other situations, that basic trust isn’t there. So there’s a presumption that something is being hidden, that if the whole story were out, then it would be much worse. Conversational phrases are examined for hidden meanings. Sentences are parsed with suspicion, expecting to find hurtful stuff.

Building relationship when the context becomes one of distrust is a huge challenge. How do you rebuild trust? Total disclosure of course, but what of the expectation that there’s a secret that’s being kept away from sight? Full explanation of course, but that’s hard to do when the explanation is viewed as a cover up. Perhaps take a time out for pain to ease. But that also takes away the positive side of relationship. End anything that promotes the distrust, of course. But sometimes the thing that promotes the distrust is a very good and important thing. Do beneficial things, of course. Give (and give up) precious things for the sake of the relationship and let that be seen.

What a conundrum.

God is doing similar things trying to rebuild our trust in Him. And we still suspect Him.

Switching topics: David, Samantha, Nicole and Joy were here this weekend in their moving trek. David and Joy are at Tadmor, their dream coming true! Sam and Nicole will go down today after Nicole’s dance convention. Seeing David’s dream happen is wonderful.

Elizabeth Anne is doing well. They hope to end oxygen support in the next couple of weeks. Susan is back at work and Donn is working from home for a month or so.

Cyndee is all by herself at Cannon Beach now. Sherry and I will go down today to hang with her.

I teach at MissionConneXion Friday and Saturday and then head off to Spokane to teach Perspectives on the World Christian Mission in Post Falls, Tri-Cities and Spokane before coming back on Wednesday morning. Writing on the third book is an uhappy reality in my life!

Any thoughts on building trust?