Gail

Reasons to Rejoice

It was good news and bad news. When I read Proverbs 17:6 in my NLT and saw that “Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged,” I clicked straight over to Biblos.com in hopes of finding that verse in another translation. Perhaps I could find one with a more flattering rendering of my current stage in life. Aged? Like the stone-deaf Aged P in Great Expectations? Not me?!

Actually, what I found was worse. “The aged” was actually

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The Size of Your Canvas

(First of all, let me say that I prefer dogs to cats by a factor of about fifty, but this watercolor of a blue-eyed cat by my friend Linda Mullen almost makes me want to switch sides. I have no talent in the visual arts, so I am completely dazzled by her ability to use just a little paint and water and paper to recreate a cat that looks like it wants to hop right into your lap and meow. Linda is an artist who deserves a wider audience and so I’m taking this opportunity to share her work, lindamullen.com, and gallery, Ballast Point Gallery, with you. )

The Size of Your Canvas: Reflections on Art and Audience

Some paintings are so big that they are best seen from a great distance.

In Rome I wanted nothing more than for the guards to just go away and leave us alone so that I could lie on my back and gaze up for hours at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Instead, craning my neck in the midst of a hot and sweaty crowd of hundreds of others, I had to grab what I could in the frustratingly short 15 minutes they allowed us to view the frescoes we’d crossed an ocean and waited hours to see.

Other paintings are smaller in size, but no less powerful. At the Louvre in Paris, we were in a similar herd of tourists filing past the Mona Lisa, which turned out to be not a commanding painting at all, if size were the measure. Little more than life size, the drably colored canvas could only be viewed by few people at once. There was an optimal viewing distance, and it was much closer than that of Michaelangelo’s frescoes.

Both are masterpieces.

Last Friday night, Jeff and I happened upon on art show in San Diego featuring a Spanish artist, Royo. His paintings were grand scale expressionistic works of young beauties with downcast eyes, clad in gauzy garments and holding baskets of

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How to Keep Criticism from Crushing You

My skin is sensitive. So said my dermatologist, who—strangely, I thought—pointed out that she could sign her name on my back with just a light touch of her fingernail.

My emotions aren’t much different. If you’ve known for more than a week or two, you’ve probably seen me cry. And most of the times that my eyes are overflowing, I’m fighting it, embarrassed by my own transparent vulnerability. I’ve been rightly called “thin-skinned.”

The only parts of me, inside or out, that are not sensitive are my fingertips. I’ve been playing guitar my whole life— I don’t get have to have those white-tipped fingernails I enviously watch Beth Moore wave about so gracefully when she’s teaching. To me, however, it is a small sacrifice. Making music with stringed instruments has given me immeasurable pleasure. When I was a full-time performer, I could play guitar for 6 hours a day without feeling the strain. My secret? Industrial

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Nice to Know: Nine Tips for Mentors

My upcoming book, CrossWise Living: Navigating Transition, includes a section on mentoring. I tell the story of my friendship with Faith Greiner Field, who has taken the seeds I’ve planted in her life and is producing a harvest that far exceeds anything I could have accomplished on my own.

Faith recently wrote to tell me how she’s using what she learned from me to invest in the next generation. Her beautiful thank you letter is folded up in my jewelry box, where it will likely remain until the day my bereaved loved ones divide up my earthly treasures. I’ve included just an excerpt here because I believe

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Pure & Genuine: A Tale of Two Ruths

Tonight in a little village near the shores of Lake Victoria, a young African widow named Ruth sleeps, uncertain of what the future may hold.

In two days her world will be rocked by the Almighty God, who today is “doing exceeding, abundantly beyond what she could ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

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I am Moses

Welcome my friend, Nali Hilderman, history professor at San Diego Christian College, as today’s guest blogger. I recently attended a wonderful women’s mini-conference she presented and asked her to share some of her insights with us.

So often when I read the Bible, I read about the characters passively as though they are stories from long ago and I cannot really relate or identify with them.  However, there are times when I identify clearly with the thoughts and emotions they seemingly had.  One such person is Moses.  I often read the story of him as a prince of Egypt—something I cannot identify with at all, or as a shepherd—also non-relatable, and even the story of the burning bush is one that I cannot relate to all that much.  There was a time however, last fall

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My Father’s World

Teaching the Book of Ruth has allowed me to spend delicious hours reading and studying and cross-referencing and pouring myself yet another cup of coffee. I’m tuning into tiny details, but also mindful of the bigger picture, looking for underlying structure and overarching themes. Stacked around me are lexicons and systematic theology texts, contemporary commentaries, and ancient tomes. As a natural-born nerd, big words and big ideas are my love language.

But ultimately, we are not training for a Bible Trivia Bee.

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Pruning Day

“The subject of pruning roses seems to strike fear into the heart of new rose growers. But it need not be so. If we remember that first and foremost, the goal of all pruning is to help the plant provide new growth and to keep it healthy by making it possible for air and light to filter into the middle of bush” (Pruning Roses – Rose Magazine).

“Prune: to cut off or remove dead or living parts or branches of a plant to improve shape or growth” (The American Heritage College Dictionary).

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (Jesus – John 15:1-2, NIV)

Pruning Day Teamwork

My husband has learned that, each year, on the last day of his Christmas vacation, I am going to awaken, give him what I hope is a winsome smile, and announce that it is rose-pruning day.

He hates rose-pruning day.

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Tidings of Great Joy

I’m still ten feet from the classroom door, my arms full of musical instruments, when the potent smells of cuisine from Mexico, Iraq, and Afghanistan accost me. Nine AM is a little early for raw onions and garlic, coriander and cumin, but today is the Christmas party and the beautiful women I am about to meet in this room have spent hours preparing their best and most festive dishes. My son Jonathan teaches an English class for adult immigrants, and he has invited me to share some different musical instruments and to sing for them the Christmas carols that are part of our celebration of this holiday.

Each day 40 adults, many of them refugees, enter Jonathan’s classroom eager to learn the language that will help them unlock their dreams of freedom and prosperity in their new home. As I look around the room I notice most are women, some wearing headscarves, and all dressed professionally. They take this opportunity seriously, grateful for the chance their new country is giving them to improve their lives. One smiling woman tells me she is from Afghanistan; another man cheerfully corrects my pronunciation when I repeat the name of his country, Iraq. They tell me what a wonderful teacher my son is, and I beam with pride as I see him living CrossWise, reaching out a hand to help these men and women, most older than he, with the difficult transitions they are experiencing as newcomers to our nation.

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Little Giants, Going Down!

After an hour of sorting through the overstuffed iPhoto folders clogging my computer, I accomplished some necessary deletion and some happy recollection of the wonderful places and people I’ve seen in the past year. And I will admit it freely— if I found a picture where my actual weight and/or age were undeniably obvious, I hit delete. If you were standing next to me and looked fabulous, I’m very sorry.

As the year draws to a close, it’s good to spend some time taking inward inventory, reflecting on goals attained and accomplishments that should be celebrated. Today as I perused a year’s worth of pictures, what took shape for me was a list of things you probably wouldn’t have guessed I’ve battled this year. Since I am a musician, a teacher, and a writer, you might assume I do these things with complete ease. Not so. I call them Little Giants, and I am naming them because I want to acknowledge that God has continued his work in my life this year, helping me win some small but significant victories over various forms of fear.

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