Christmas Vacation In Boston (Well, At Mass. General Hospital)

Background July 2016 2Those who know me well are quite aware that I would love to live in downtown Boston. I have daydreamed about spending a few nights in one of the hotels, being able to wander around the city without the two hour commute back home.

My mother always told me, “be careful what you wish for – you might get it.”

On Monday, December 17, I was doubled over with severe hip pain that kept me from sitting upright in my wheelchair. We called the paramedics, who transported me to a local hospital. This local hospital (which I have never liked) diagnosed me with a pulled muscle, sending me home with instructions to see my primary care physician in a few days. By that Wednesday it was evident that I could not even get into my wheelchair, much less take the RIDE into my doctor’s office in Boston. To make a long story short, an ambulance transported me to Mass. General Hospital the next day. Continue reading

Our Sorrow; Her Joy

SunsetApr10_2004Forgive me for keeping the details vague, but I want to respect the privacy of her husband and children. Putting it on Facebook for family and friends is vastly different that putting it on a public blog, wouldn’t you agree?

But the Lord took her Home early this morning, ending years of physical suffering from an illness that her doctors didn’t understand. My new life separated us by 3000 miles,  and of course the letters, phone calls and emails Continue reading

Flashback Friday: A Dead Turtle Is Better Than No Turtle At All

Originally posted on November 25, 2016:


Yesterday might have been a painful day for people who have experienced loss. The Christian blog posts extolling all the reasons we should give thanks may have felt like slaps in the face to those who grieve during this holiday season. I understand.

If you’re going through a difficult time, please bear with me, considering the possibility that what I have to say, despite its humor and whimsy, might actually encourage you. You’ve undoubtedly heard 1 Thessalonians 5:18 quoted a lot this past week, but I want to quote it again.

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  (ESV)

On this day after Thanksgiving, allow me to tell you a Christmas story from my childhood that demonstrates how thankfulness can transform disappointing circumstances into times of rejoicing.

Since Mom (who had been widowed when I was 10) was dating her first boyfriend since Daddy at the time, it must have been my 12th Christmas. She surprised me and my sister with a pair of box turtles (which, in 1965, were legal pets in California). I can remember going out to the tree and seeing that shallow, bright yellow tub that housed our new pets.

One turtle was very active, at least insofar as turtles can be active. I don’t recall how we determined that it was meant for my sister, and speculation on that point would detract from this story. I do remember gently prodding the sedentary turtle–my turtle–thinking he just needed a wake-up nudge. When he failed to respond, I moved him a bit more forcefully.

My 9-year-old sister, skilled in diagnosis, said matter-of-factly, “I think he’s dead.”

We made a few more futile attempts at getting him to move before I agreed with her conclusion. At that point, my wails of lament began! Of course, my crying awakened Mom, who came flying down the hall to see what on earth was wrong!

I’m not sure what happened next. I just remember being in the bathroom, weeping inconsolably, when Mom’s boyfriend arrived for Christmas breakfast. Seeing my pre-teenage dramatics, he looked inquiringly at Mom and grunted, “What’s wrong with her now?”

Mom sighed, “Her turtle died.”

“Is that all?” he bellowed with laughter. He turned to me and said, “Cheer up. A dead turtle is better than no turtle at all!” We all burst into laughter at his unique perspective, and enjoyed the rest of that Christmas.

Long after that boyfriend disappeared from our lives, Mom, my sister and I often comforted ourselves in minor disappointments with the mantra, “A dead turtle is better than no turtle at all.” Despite its macabre tone, it reminded  us to be grateful, no matter what.

I realize,  of course, that a  dead box turtle hardly compares to real trials such as a  miscarriage, a spouse with cancer or a lost job. All too often, life throws things at us that  hurt unbearably, and I’d never trivialize such instances with my quip about dead turtles. The same Bible that  commands us to give thanks in everything also commands us to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Even in standing for truth, the Lord calls us to act with  compassion and sensitivity towards those who genuinely hurt.

That said, those who grieve mustn’t wallow in their grief. I know, all too well, how easily we can   shake angry fists at God when His decrees run counter (or even threaten to run counter) to our desires. Almost five years ago, my husband came very close to death. Had I lost him, the Lord still would have called me to thank Him for John’s salvation, as well as for allowing me to be married to such a godly man.

Thankfulness doesn’t come easily for anyone. But, when we look away from our disappointments and to the Lord Jesus Christ, we find reasons to cultivate thankfulness. I don’t know if anyone is reading this essay with a broken heart today, but I do know that even that woman can find compassion as she remembers Christ’s love for her. Even through her tears, she can thank Him, trusting both His sovereignty and His love for her.

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Shepherds In The Museum


The Nativity by John Singleton Copley

After almost a month of not being able to leave our apartment, John and I took advantage of yesterday’s mild weather by visiting the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. We focused primarily on European art, but inevitably wound up in the Early American section (my favorite).

We had been looking at several European depictions of the Nativity by Flemish, Italian and French artists prior to going to the American galleries. We felt amused by renditions that made the Christ Child look like a stiff idol of wood, puzzled that Joseph appeared as a balding man in his seventies, and grieved that the artists emphasized Mary over Jesus.

So when we saw John Singleton Copley’s The Nativity in the Early American galleries, we more than appreciated the realism (well, except for Mary wearing a clean white garment after just giving birth) and the obvious reverence of Christ.  John noticed that Mary looked tired from delivering her firstborn, but also as if she pondered the miraculous event of bringing the Messiah,  her Savior, into the world.

John also noticed the young shepherd in the left foreground, pointing to the Babe with wonder as he tells unseen others that he sees Christ the Lord, just as the angels had predicted.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. ~~Luke 2:8-20 (ESV)

I believe Copley captured Luke’s narrative exquisitely, don’t you? What a treat to see this pictorial encapsulation of the Christmas story at this wonderful time of year!

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With Sadness And Joy: A Tribute To R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul

Photo from Ligonier Twitter page

During the weeks that our Bible Study leader would be absent, our group watched R.C. Sproul’s Holiness of God video series.  Since our teacher would return on the last week of the series, we decided to welcome him back with a practical joke. So we substituted my mom’s Dancing Grannies exercise video for the Sproul video.

After getting a good laugh, we of course switched back to the correct video.

Sadly, I don’t remember anything else about viewing the series, though I have vague recollections of writing about it in my journal. What a shame!

Roughly twenty years passed before my next introduction to Dr. Sproul. It’s hard to be involved in Reformed Theology without encountering Sproul, particularly on YouTube. This past year’s celebration of the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary made his Internet presence even more prominent. If ever a person embraced the Reformation and all it stood for, it was R.C. Sproul.

Perhaps we don’t appreciate a person’s impact on us until they’re gone. That’s one of the many perversities of fallen human nature, I suppose. But, although I didn’t follow Sproul as closely as other people have,  I can’t help feeling a sense of loss. Christianity lost one of its most articulate and powerful voices yesterday, and the  vacuum looms large.

Yet I also feel joyful. In the past few years I’ve watched R.C. Sproul decline physically. Despite his ever present humor (especially in the company of John MacArthur), his deterioration was obvious. As John and I followed the prayer requests that Ligonier put out on their blog and Twitter, I couldn’t help praying that God would mercifully take him Home. I praise the Lord that Sproul’s physical suffering has ended.

But even more than that, I rejoice that Dr. Sproul is with the Lord he served so faithfully and loves so passionately. We have no idea of the wonder he’s experiencing right now. But he beholds the beautiful face of Jesus, and sees the reality of everything he taught. Indeed, R.C. Sproul finally sees the holiness of God.

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Forced Vacation From Our Perspectives In Titus Bible Study Series

Bible And WorshipYou may have noticed that I didn’t blog last Tuesday or Wednesday, and that Thursday I repurposed an article from my old blog, The Things That Come Out Of My Head. Since Easter, I’ve had a particularly vicious cold that has really wiped me out! I felt better Friday, which emboldened me to write the opinion piece on Hillsong, and consequently ushered in a relapse of my symptoms.

Therefore, John and I agreed that I probably shouldn’t write a Bible Study on Titus until next Monday.  I don’t like breaking my momentum, but neither do I like feeling run down. I look forward to getting back into our study next week, since Titus 2 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Please plan on joining me when I resume this study. You might want to review the installments on Titus 1 (or read them for the first time) in preparation for Chapter 2.


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The Personal Side Of An Ex-Gay Pioneer

frank-worthenFrank Worthen was well-known in Charismatic, ex-gay circles, and probably would have be a bit puzzled at being eulogized in a blog that stands for Reformed Theology. Or maybe amused, now that I think about it. Inconsistencies often amused him. Actually, many things amused him, which was a big part of his charm, if you ask me.

Frank, an associate pastor at Church of the Open Door in San Rafael, California, was my pastor. As founding director of Love In Action (the ex-gay ministry I worked for), he was also my  employer. In the past 20 years, he was simply my friend. I say “was” because things changed this past Saturday.

Frank went Home to Jesus Saturday morning, February 11, 2017 after a fairly brief battle with cancer. He would have turned 88 on February 24.

Other bloggers, who knew Frank better than I, have already written about his courageous founding of the ex-gay ministry model, and this tribute by Joe Dallas is arguably the most definitive. He characterized Frank as a hero for offering hope to men and women trapped in homosexual sin. Frank himself had escaped the homosexual lifestyle after 25 years of it, and dedicated the rest of his life to ministering to others with that struggle.

Joe’s essay does a wonderful job of celebrating Frank’s accomplishments in ex-gay ministry,  and I’d be wrongfully intruding if I tried to add to his words on that topic. I instead want to make a couple comments on Frank’s marriage to Anita and on his sense of humor. Those two very human aspects about him, as prevalent as they were, haven’t been mentioned much this week, as people have focused on his ministry, yet those two things epitomized him as a man.

Frank enjoyed life well enough as a bachelor, investing himself in Love In Action. But when the Lord brought Anita into his life, he absolutely blossomed! Since their wedding in late 1984, his smile rarely left his  face.

He immediately put Anita to work in the Love In Action office. I know he did so partly because he liked being with her 24/7, but he did it mostly because she fell in love with the ministry. Sometimes he’d joke that she loved the ministry more than she loved him. He adored her, obviously doing anything in his power to please her.

He happily accepted the new entity of “Frank and Anita” as leaders of Love In Action, though she clearly submitted to his leadership. Once,  with a characteristic twinkle in his eye and chuckle in his voice, he told me, “Whatever Anita wants, Anita gets.” Yet I knew these weren’t the words of a henpecked husband. He gave willingly to his wife out of joy. He saw her as the asset to his ministry that she truly was.

In short, he deeply loved and treasured his wife. Without her, he still would have had a powerful testimony, reaching thousands with his message of freedom from homosexuality. But she added a dimension of joy to his life that enhanced his work. I love Anita for many reasons, but I’m especially grateful that  the Lord brought Frank such delight through their marriage.

Frank, being mild-mannered, had a dry, subtle wit.  Curiously, he could also be a little outrageous. I remember, for example, the 1985 Exodus Conference in San Francisco. A group of gay activists had threatened a protest on Wednesday night, making several of us apprehensive. Some of us gathered at the site where they’d scheduled the protest, waiting for them. After 30 minutes, it became evident that they’d changed their minds. While most of us sighed with relief, Frank was visibly disappointed. “I wanted to see the show,” he explained (again with that characteristic chuckle). He was serious!

My theological differences with Frank in no way diminish my respect for him. He loved the Lord, and he spent most of his life proclaiming the truth that Jesus Christ offers freedom from all sin, including the sin of homosexuality. Quite properly, everybody is remembering him for that message right now. But I hope they’ll also remember his joyous marriage and his wonderful sense of humor. Those two things are what endeared him to me.

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