Living simply, loving deeply!

The Summer of Finding My True North

Summer is coming to an end. Cool nights, bonfires, Friday night football games, and hoodies are just around the corner. I can hear the high school band play even as I type. The changing of summer to fall evokes in me such an overwhelming melancholy feeling…a feeling that can best be described as homesickness. September always seems more like a new year beginning than January does. I am even more sad to see this summer come to an end. It has been an incredible summer.

Back in the spring I was struggling a bit. I am 45 years old. I have been following Jesus for 29 years. I have been a follower of Jesus who has always tried to live a life of love, faith and risk.  I was feeling stuck. I felt stuck because of the decisions I had made early on in ministry (decisions that I know were God’s will for me but the risk involved with these decisions have become more evident as I have gotten older). The older we get, we can tend to fall into a pattern of playing it safe. I have never wanted to play it safe until the early part of this year.

Thirteen years ago God sent me back home to a small town on Lake Erie. To a town I love, a people I love, and a church I love. I have gotten to do amazing things and meet and love extraordinary people. But hitting “mid-life”, I realized that I had nothing for retirement, no house to call my own and I was allowing thoughts and circumstances to get my eyes off of all Jesus has called me to do.  God used a book to challenge me. Bob Goff’s Love Does was a “dead reckoning” for me, bringing me back to my true north. I am wired to take risks. I am someone who shrivels up simply maintaining. I thrive on trying new things and new adventures.  I am someone who has to have a degree of spontaneity in my life. Playing it safe will kill me. Maybe not physically but the core of who God created me to be.

This all led to some adjustments in my life this summer. I purposed to be more present. When I was somewhere, I was going to be completely there…not thinking about what I needed to do next or where I needed to go. Everyone I was around would get all of me. I purposed to spend more time with people. I have always loved being with people but I found that I had no time for people (or so I thought). I purposed to spend more time outside. I purposed to spend more time with God.  I purposed to be more spontaneous.  And the result?  It has made all the difference in the world. I have joy. I have peace. I hear from God more clearly (sometimes in the oddest of ways). People are no longer an irritant or distraction from what I perceived was “real” work. And I am really enjoying life again.

My circumstances have not changed. I still don’t have anything in retirement or own my own house. But I feel like I’m me again. The me Jesus always created me to be. There are still things that need to change in me, areas Jesus is still working on, but I am happy. More than happy, I am joyful. And excited for all the adventures ahead.

I have a lot of stories from this summer. Memories made. Lessons learned. Here are a couple of the lessons:

  1. If transporting your kayak by the inside of a car, make sure you wrap the tip of the kayak with a towel. This will save you $250 (the cost of getting a cracked windshield fixed). As I filled out my claim to my insurance company and came to the question “How did it happen?” I couldn’t help but laugh at my answer. “The tip of my kayak ran into the windshield and cracked it.”
    My kayak cracked my windshield.

    My kayak cracked my windshield.


  2. If you’re always worried about being cool, you will never have any fun. (My pep talk to the summer interns at our church before I sent them out to be dancing bananas, Santa Clauses, babies, and elves for our Amazing Race). *I think it can also be said that if you’re always worried about being cool, you will never take risks.

    Characters from our Amazing Race.

    Characters from our Amazing Race.

There are a few more stories from this summer I want to share but that would make this an incredibly long blog. And they each need their space. So consider this a “to be continued”….

McPherson Rain

I have spent the past 2 out of 3 weeks at youth and kid’s camp. Both weeks were incredible. The first week was youth camp. It was raining one night during service and I began to write a poem. I was home for a week in between camps. Pastor Jim spoke on the Sunday in between camps on storms that come up in our lives and how they can draw us closer to Jesus, if we let them. When I got to Kid’s Camp there was rain again. I finished it up while at camp. This is my only second attempt at poetry.   :) I absolutely love how God speaks through His creation. 

Camp McPherson Rain

The rain is gently falling down
Washing away the dirt, dust and grime of life;
Cleansing the deepest, darkest part of me;
Cleansing and setting me free.

The rain is steadily falling down,
Saturating the ground.
Bringing to life areas
Dried and shriveled up;
Places where fruit no longer abounds.
In the same way
May Your Spirit fall on me
Saturating every single part of me,
Allowing me to grow so Your love and goodness
All may know.

There is a mist clinging to the hillside,
A tangible sign of God’s presence.
Truly He is always near,
Hovering over me.
Guiding, protecting, nudging me along the way;
Watering my sin weary, parched soul.

The storm is passing
The sun is peeking through the clouds.
What will the Son find in the storm’s wake?
Debris of bitterness, doubt, anger, and despair?
Or a faith renewed and cleansed?
A faith so strong, no storm could ever take.

Camp McPherson

Camp McPherson

Mist in the trees after the rain. Sun was trying to come out.

Mist in the trees after the rain. Sun was trying to come out.

Rain storm at camp

Rain storm at camp

Characteristics of a Leader.

I was cleaning through desk drawers at work the other day and came across a loose piece of paper entitled “Important Characteristics of a Leader.” It was written in my handwriting. I have no idea if I came up with this list or not. I think I did. I have this bad habit of whenever a thought comes to me, I grab for whatever is available. I have deep thoughts (and not so deep thoughts) written on grocery receipts, index cards, scratch paper. I actually came across a recipe for baked beans written on a napkin. I blame my 7th and 8th grade Language Arts teachers (any VMS Skippers out there?). When we were learning to do research papers, we had to put individual thoughts and facts on index cards so we could put move them around our main points. It was very effective. In fact, I had the best teachers. I felt completely prepared for college. But this method obviously has had its down side. ;)

The baked bean recipe. I don't think it is my handwriting.

The baked bean recipe. I don’t think it is my handwriting.

So here it is…

8 Important Characteristics of a Leader

  1. Leaders are real/authentic.
    1. Don’t try to be someone else or something you are not.
  2. Leaders are not afraid to admit they are wrong.
  3. Leaders are readers.
  4. Leaders are not afraid to ask for help or prayer.
  5. Leaders will not ask someone to do something they would not do themselves.
  6. Leaders take risks!
  7. Being right is not the always the most important thing.
  8. CHARACTER, CHARACTER, CHARACTER is always more important than giftings and charisma.


Picture doesn't show it but this page is yellowing. Who knows when I wrote it. But I still say the same things. :)

Picture doesn’t show it but this page is yellowing.Who knows how old it is. I still say the same things :)

What Does Wonder Look Like?

In February, I flew out to Arizona for a weekend of shadowing an amazing mentor of mine. While at the airport I bought a Reader’s Digest to read on the plane. There was an article in it called “A World of Wonder”. And the Editor’s note was a column on things that made her wonder. She encouraged her readers to make their own list of things that have made them wonder.

The word wonder is defined by “the emotion aroused by something awe-inspiring, astounding, or surprising.”

Here is my list of things that have filled me with wonder lately.

Hearing church bells ring while sitting on the dock at the river enjoying lunch and reading my Bible. The smell of honeysuckle in the spring. Bruce Springsteen’s “Badlands”. Reading a book that is so well-written and challenging you hate for it to end. And it is all you can think about for days. A freshly mowed yard. Watching our worship team at church lead us in worship with such joy and reverence. Laughter. Baseball games…the sights, the sounds, the smells. The sound of the bat cracking as the ball makes contact, the roar of the crowd, the smell of stale beer mixed with hotdogs and popcorn. Lunch with friends. A good cry. Wind chimes making music in the wind. People praying for one another. Singing “Don’t Stop Believing” at the top of my lungs with my nieces. Family and friends gathered around my table, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Hearing children pray. Watching people grow in their faith. Witnessing people of different cultures worshipping Jesus. An Italian sausage and onion pizza. A bonfire. Elderly people telling their stories. A clean house. Watching my church family love on and bless families who have experienced loss of a loved one by providing a funeral luncheon. Cake with strawberries and pudding in the middle and icing to die for from Kiedrowskis. A Lake Erie sunset.  The power of community

What makes you wonder?

Lunch with friends.

Lunch with friends.

Lunch on the Vermilion River

Lunch on the Vermilion River

Sunset on Lake Erie

Sunset on Lake Erie

The Importance of Community: A Lesson from Woodstock

This morning as I was getting ready for church, I noticed that my dog, Woodstock, was not around. Woodstock and I have a routine. Every morning when I get up, Woodstock hears me and comes to greet me. She wants to go out and then come in and be fed. (Have I mentioned before that my dog is OCD? Routine is quite important to her). I found her laying on the recliner. Remember, Woodstock weighs at least 100 pounds. She was wedged in the chair pretty good. She could not get out herself. Every time she would try, the recliner would rock which freaked her out a bit. I finally got her out and as her back legs landed on the floor they crumpled underneath her. I think they fell asleep.

Woodstock before I helped her out <3

Woodstock before I helped her out <3

Tonight I had the opportunity to lead our elders in communion. As I was thinking about the Lord’s table and what happened to Woodstock, I was reminded of the importance of community. The Bible makes it pretty clear that life was always  meant to be lived out in community. And the Bible teaches that when we become followers of Jesus we are placed into the family of God by the Holy Spirit. I don’t understand it but I believe it. And I am grateful.

We need each other. All of us at one time or another get stuck. Not in a recliner. But in life. We try to rock ourselves out of it but the fear overwhelms us. What I have found to be true is God usually sends us people to help us get unstuck.

I was reading in 2 Corinthians 7:5 – 6 

For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn – fighting without and fear within. But God who comforts  the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,

God comforts the downcast. How did He comfort Paul? By sending him Titus. God uses people to bring comfort. God uses us!!! We are His hands and His feet.

Have you ever been in a season where there is fighting on the outside of your life? and fear paralyzing you within? We all go through those times. It is in those times we need community. We need each other. Sometimes we need people to fight for us. Pray for us. To help us get unstuck.

One of the most important reasons to be in a church is for community. I watch people go through loss and sickness and see the people of my church rally around them and comfort them by providing a meal or praying for them or sending them a card. I often wonder how people who have no support system like that get through the hard times.

I would have never known to go looking for Woodstock if I was not used to seeing her every morning when I get up. One of the perks of being established in a church is people are used to seeing you week after week and when all of a sudden you stop coming around, somebody notices. Someone will go looking for you (or they should). People who say they can love God and serve Jesus without going to church are missing something God never intended them to miss…community. Sure you can have a relationship with Jesus and not go to church but I believe strongly your spiritual growth will be stunted. We were designed to live and grow in community.

You are probably not stuck in an actual recliner but there are areas of your life that you can’t seem to get victory. You are stuck in a rut. You are discouraged and have shut people out. Remember that God comforts the downcast but He usually uses people to do it. And if you are not stuck, be the person who God uses to bring comfort to someone else.

Risk Vs. Responsibility: Wrestling with God

When I began my blog I entitled it “FaithinFlipFlops” because I wanted to write about how I daily walk out my faith in Jesus Christ. I wanted to write about the successes and the challenges, the triumphs and the losses. I haven’t been as faithful in my writing as I hoped I would because life always seems to get in the way.  And I want to be a person who makes sure I am actually living life, not just writing about it. I also love taking pictures to include in my blogs (and I take a lot) but life is what happens between the snapshots. Living life to the fullest and taking risks is something I value and strive to do. I do not want to waste a minute!

I turned 45 in January. First of all, I love birthdays. And getting older does not bother me at all. In fact, the 40s have been my best decade by far. I have loved every minute of my 40s. Until 45. I can’t explain it. I wasn’t expecting it. And it irritated me. A sadness and tiredness overwhelmed me. I am someone who is always on the go. And it all came to a grinding halt.  And it made me question where I was in life.

I have always lived carefree. I never worried about money (not much anyway). I always trusted that God would provide. I have referred to myself as a hippie…I don’t need stuff or much money…and I love to dream.  And live unconventionally. After all, my dog’s name is Woodstock…

I remember in Bible college, a pastor came to speak in chapel. I was talking to him afterwards or heard him talking to someone else (I don’t quite remember the exact context) but he said “oh to be young again in ministry and think I can actually change the world.” After I heard that I told the Lord, “May I never get cynical and never stop believing that I can change the world.” And I haven’t. I still believe it. But that belief is hitting the stone cold wall of reality.

I have a dream. A big dream. And to make it come to pass it will require a sacrifice. And a miracle. And here is the question I am wrestling with in my walk with Jesus. When does following a dream and taking a risk become irresponsible? 

We have a saying at our church:

Jesus first

Others Second

Safety Third

We have it on one of the those rubber bracelets.

If you wear it on your wrist, is it true?

If you wear it on your wrist, is it true?

And I believe it. I believe we are not to play it safe. That we are to take risks to advance the Kingdom of God.

Yet there are bills to pay. Retirement to pay into. Taxes to pay. A house to buy. Health insurance to pay for. And a lot of these things, I’ve let slip because I believed God will provide.

I have since discovered that the tiredness and irritability were due to my thyroid not working right.

But the wrestling with risk taking vs. being responsible is still ongoing. I have followed Jesus long enough to trust Him. But there are times I simply don’t trust myself.

This walk of faith in flip flops is not easy. There are always more questions than answers. And it can be messy.

And messy reminded me of a Scripture in Proverbs 14:4. It says

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of an ox.”

I can have a nice, tidy life…every area clean and safe…but if I want a life that produces fruit and counts for eternity and really makes a difference — there will be messes I need to clean up (sometimes of my own making) — I will get dirty, messy – I need the “ox”(in my case the ox could be my dreams or the Holy Spirit’s leading and maybe they’re synonymous) and the work and faith that comes with it if I want to be fruitful.



Living Sensibly

I was going through my old journals this week. I started journaling when I was in middle school (though in middle school it was called writing in a diary). I have my very first one…Garfield the cat is on the cover and it had a lock and a key and everything. I was SO cool in middle school that I rated my days like Siskel and Ebert rated movies. Four star days were super-duper days. Those were the days I won money betting on the Cleveland Browns (if you could ever imagine winning on the Browns) and/or a cute boy noticed me. Three stars were great days, two stars were average, one star days were terrible, horrible, no good days. Days that you wanted to stay out-of-the-way of this raging, hormonal teen-ager. It’s kind of fun (and frightening) to see how middle school Heidi thought. (Sidenote…if I charged middle school Heidi a quarter for every time she swore, middle-aged Heidi would be financially set).Needless to say, I am so thankful Jesus got a hold of me in high school.

Middle School Diary. No words.

Middle School Diary. No words.

The reason I have been going through my journals is for research for a book I am writing. I have had a dream since I was a kid to write a book. I have mentioned in another blog how I wrote a 10 chapter book when I was 10 and had my mom type it for me. We sent it to a publisher. It was rejected.

In order for a dream to become a reality, it must be worked on and walked out. Dreams coming true just don’t happen over night. They usually come to pass with a lot of sweat and tears. The fulfillment of a dream requires a lot of hard work. Bruce says it so well in his song “Working On Dream”. (I can weave a Bruce Springsteen song into anything… ;) )

Anyway…while I was going through some of my journals, I came across an entry from June 30th, 2003. It was my thoughts and reflections from reading the book of Titus in the Bible. I thought it was something I should put on my blog. So here it is.

Titus says in the second chapter that the grace of God has appeared to all men, bringing salvation. And that the grace of God instructs us (disciplines us) to 1. deny ungodliness and worldly desires and 2. live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age.

I do not live sensibly in this present age. I do not spend my money sensibly, I do not use my time sensibly (2015 Heidi has made some headway in these areas).

What does it mean to live sensibly? I have always thought the word “sensible” means boring. Someone saying “She’s so sensible” is like saying “She’s so boring.” You always know what to expect. Routine. Predictable. Is that what it really means to live sensibly? What does it mean to live sensibly?

This is what I came up with.

Sensible living:

  1.  Do not live beyond your means.
  2.  Do not commit yourself to things you don’t have time to do.
  3. Do not make promises you cannot or may not be able to keep.
  4. “You can do anything, but not everything”. (I just added this tonight. I saw it on Facebook and it so resonated with me.

Is being sensible the opposite of risk taking? (I have always considered myself to be somewhat of a risk taker). Is taking a risk a bad thing? Is living safe living sensibly?

One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes is from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Following God is not safe. It is full of risks and adventures.

So the conclusion I come to is that living sensibly according to God is not the same as living sensibly to the world. I live sensibly according to God’s ways so that I am set up to take the risks He puts in front of me when they come.

  • I can do to the mission field because I do not have debt holding me back.
  • I can say “yes” to the right risks because I am not suffering from physical ailments induced by stress because I am trying to do everything and over committing myself.
  • I can be trusted to do things that are risky because I follow through on whatever (no matter how small or mundane) is put before me because I am someone who keeps my word.

The point of this blog? Living sensibly sets us up to be risk takers.  Living sensibly isn’t so boring after all!






Letter to My Dad

Dear dad,

I cannot believe it has been six years since you passed away and went to be with Jesus. There is so much that has happened since you left us. Harrison graduated from high school, has a good job and is in a union. He is such a hard worker and a good man. You would really be proud of him. He reminds me a lot of you.

Penny’s girls are growing up to be such beautiful young women. They are as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. Penny and John have done a great job raising them! I try to have family night often with them. We play cards and eat and yell. A true Strickler tradition minus the 66 and alcohol ;) . (I sure do miss playing cribbage with you.)

I am cooking a lot more. I actually like it and I think you would love some of the stuff I’m making. I really regret not having you teach me how to can and do some other things around the house. I plan on putting a small garden in this year. I know what I’m doing there. Hard to forget you making me line the rows up with rope in the pouring down rain because the plants had to be in by a certain time and in a certain way.

I got another useless dog. She doesn’t hunt or do anything like that but she scares salesmen away. I get a reminder every month to keep my dog inside so the electric company can read the meter. I don’t understand why….the back yard is fenced in…the meter is on the outside and Woodstock is too fat to jump the fence. You would definitely make fun of Woodstock along with the rest of the family…she is kind of fat.

The Browns still suck. Nancy and Scott miss you being in their football pools. And you still can’t say Pittsburg around Karen without a violent reaction or a penalty flag being thrown. Lebron dumped us on national television but all was forgiven when he came back a few years later. The Indians are still the same.

I am still pastoring at the church. And I love it! God has been so faithful!  I quit Papa Joes a few years back. I’m not on city council anymore but stay involved by being on Planning Commission. I miss talking  city politics with you and having lunch at the Amvets. Election day isn’t the same without you. I dream one day of writing more to supplement my income.

I have been to Jamaica twice and Israel since you’ve been gone. All trips of a lifetime.

Kate, Uncle Jake, and Wayne are no longer with us.

I think often of your stay in the hospital and the day when you told the four of us girls that “we always have family” before you tried to punch the nurse. I take that to heart. You would be so happy because your girls are planning on spending Christmas together down in Florida with Bill. We are renting a beach house and spending the week. I really wish you and Jerry could be there with us. And mom and Kate. I think we have avoided family things because it reminds us of our losses. But we know we can’t do that forever. There are nieces and nephews that need to experience all things Strickler.

I miss our car rides through the Ogontz and hearing the stories of your childhood. I miss the sound of the pressure cooker rocking. I miss how you could never pronounce anyone’s name correctly. I sometimes even miss how you would yell my name when you weren’t happy.

I still don’t miss going to the grocery store with you, though. We went enough for both our lifetimes combined plus eternity. You sure could grocery shop. I really hope there isn’t any grocery shopping in heaven.

I wonder whatever happened to the whistle you would use when telemarketers would call.

The Jehovah Witnesses finally stopped coming to the door. I think she had a crush on you.

Ollie and Pongo are both gone. I think Scott still wonders how he ended up with your crazy dog! You sure could pick ’em.

I have taken up the mantle of warning everyone as they back out of the driveway “to watch out for the fire hydrant and the flag pole.” (Remember the time you were warning me and as you said “fire hydrant”, I hit it? You didn’t let me live that one down).

I’m glad you are no longer in pain and that you are enjoying the presence of Jesus with Jerry. And that both of you are whole and healed and happy. And I know where you are sure is better than here but there are days I wish you and mom and Jerry were here with me.

I write all of this to simply say “I miss you, dad. And I love you and bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.”

See you soon,


Me and my dad.

Me and my dad.

My dad.

My dad.

One of my favorite pictures of him...on a fishing trip to Canada.

One of my favorite pictures of him…on a fishing trip to Canada.

My brother, Jerry and dad at a family Browns party.

My brother, Jerry and dad at a family Browns party.

My brother, Jerry and my dad.

My brother, Jerry and my dad.

The Arts as Worship: God is a Creative God

A couple of nights ago, I finally had an evening to paint. Life has been crazy (good crazy) and the next four weeks will be pretty much the same. So I try to work in at least one night a week of painting. It has become my happy place. My extended time with God.

I painted two pictures that night. The first one was for someone I know who is battling cancer. For several weeks I felt the Lord leading me to paint a picture for this person and while I painted, I was to use the time to pray for healing. It was a very special time. Scriptures that came to mind as I prayed and painted, I jotted down on a note card. When I was finished with it, I turned it over and wrote the Scripture references on the back of the canvas. I took it with me to the women’s Bible study I lead on Fridays and had the ladies pray over it. I know that sounds strange  but I really know that God is in this. I mailed the painting to my friend on Friday afternoon.

After I was done with that, I just painted a picture. I had no plans, no ideas, no thoughts. I just put music on and painted.

It ended up being a very bright TV. As it took form, I thought about the things that I would want people to see about me if they were watching my life, the things that are important to who I am as a person.

The Cross of Christ was central. I want people to see Jesus in me. I want to please Jesus in everything that I do.

I painted an open book. I want to be authentic. With God and with others. Being real and setting an  atmosphere  for people to be honest with themselves  and God is important to me. This was so fresh to me because at my Tuesday night Bible study that week, we had an incredible time of study and prayer and it was because the ladies were so open and honest about where they were.  True growth and freedom comes from authenticity. If we would stop lying to ourselves about stuff, God could really move and transform our lives.

I had painted a smiley face because I want joy always to characterize my life (as well as righteousness and peace….after all those are the characteristics of the Kingdom of God).

I also painted a heart. I want to strive to be kind to people. Kindness is such a rare trait. I want to be remembered as a person who was kind. Kindness stands out like a shining light in a society where rudeness and disrespect is applauded and encouraged. (Turn on any news channel)

The last picture was a cloud with the title of Bruce Springsteen’s song, Dream Baby DreamI don’t care how old I get, I never want to stop dreaming big things for God. I always want to be reaching to accomplish something bigger than myself…something that I could never do by myself – that the fulfillment of the dream could only come t0 pass with God’s help. I want His dreams for my life to be my dreams. I want my dreams to always bring glory to God. And I never want to get stuck in the dreaming phase…I always want to act on those dreams that I have so I can see them come to pass so that God can give me even bigger dreams. In my spirit, I hear the Lord says always “Dream, Baby Dream”. (God uses Bruce’s music a lot to speak to me). :) And God will still be saying it to me when I’m 90!!!

I love how God uses painting to bring things out of me. I am so  grateful that He is a creative God. I am thankful for the arts and how they point us to Him. There is nothing like listening to the music and lyrics of a song that evoke in us powerful feelings or a wonderfully written book that leaves me in wonder that words could create such a vivid picture in our imagination or a movie that inspires us to be better people and consider another point of view or a dance in which the person and the music become one and tell a story without any words or a painting that speaks to each person differently.

So grateful for the many ways God created for us to worship Him and communicate with another.

The Tale of Two Worlds: American Christianity vs. Coptic Christianity

I am a very opinionated person. As I have grown in my walk with the Jesus, I have learned to keep most of the opinions to myself especially in regards to politics. I remember a few years back the Lord asking me “What do you want to be known for? What is really worth fighting for?” This process I went through would be a subject for another blog. I came to conclusion I wanted to be for Jesus, for loving people,  and for helping people follow Jesus no matter where they were in life. I needed to live a life that invited people to follow Jesus. I needed to live a life that whet people’s appetite to know this Jesus I am so captured by.

I do not want to be known for what I am against. I had a friend during the last presidential election ask me who I was voting for. She was working for the Obama campaign and said she could tell who everyone else was voting for except me. I was pleased that she could not tell. I would say about 60% or my church are Republicans and 40% Democrats (very rough guess). I NEVER want who I vote for to keep someone from coming to know this amazing Jesus I follow. I know a lot of Christians would disagree with this philosophy. They would accuse me of being wishy-washy and not taking a stand. They would be wrong. I simply choose my battles. I served 8 years on City Council. Our city is non-partisan which means you do not declare a party. I think that is wonderful. We did not start with a dividing wall.

With all of that being said something occurred this weekend that I feel compelled to write about. Actually, two things occurred. The first is that 21 Coptic Egyptian Christians were brutally killed by ISIS. Men dressed in complete black ending the lives of 21 followers of Christ simply because they follow Christ or as ISIS puts it “belong to the nation of the Cross.” I know the reward for those martyred is great in Heaven. Those who have lost their lives because of their profession of faith in Christ have a special place. I pray for the family left behind and the other Coptic Christians who live under the threat of martyrdom.

I proudly belong to the nation of the Cross.

The second thing that happened was the release of the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey”. And the debates among Christians on the internet arguing on whether or not Christians should see the movie. The irony of it. My feelings vacillated between anger and incredible sadness.

The contrast of these two events demonstrates so clearly why the Church in America has become so ineffective.

21 Coptic Christians dying in Egypt for their faith. Christians in America arguing about whether or not we should watch a movie that has no redeeming value. A movie that tells you women are nothing but sexual objects. A movie that is soft porn. And people who don’t think porn is a problem in our nation should read this GQ article.

We wonder why the church in America is sick and anemic and is not affecting the culture they are living in.

We wonder why the Church is not taken seriously in our own nation.

We wonder why people are leaving the Church by the thousands every year.

I came to the conclusion that I came to a couple of years ago…I want to be a part of the solution. I want to be a life that stands out. A life whose light shines in a world of darkness. A life that loves people. A life that prays for people. I want to be a person who is just not called a follower of Jesus but is found to be one (St. Ignatius). I really want to live a life of righteousness, peace and joy. After all, those are the characteristics (or supposed to be) of those who are a part of the Kingdom of God.

Let there be another Great Awakening in our nation and let it start with me.

Coptic Christians in Egypt brutally killed by ISIS.

Coptic Christians in Egypt brutally killed by ISIS.



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