Category Archive: Hope

What’s your Focus?

Don’t you get discouraged when the headlines scream of war, deaths, accidents, hostility? I know there’s a lot going on that we can be upset about. But we need to also focus on good news.

Healthline.com estimates that 77% of Americans have a social media presence of one sort or another. A new study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology followed 143 students from the University of Pennsylvania who were divided into two groups. One continued their pattern of interacting on social media. The other was reduced to 30 minutes a day, 10 minutes each on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

The results were clear. The group that reduced their activity on social media had better mental health outcomes.

“What we found overall is that if you use less social media, you are actually less depressed and less lonely, meaning that the decreased social media use is what causes that qualitative shift in your well-being,” said Jordyn Young, a co-author of the paper and a senior at the University of Pennsylvania.

The authors of the study say there isn’t yet enough data to say everyone should cut down on their social media presence; however, the data clearly suggests that extended time on social media can cause increased depression and loneliness.

When we constantly go to our feeds, we tend to compare, to think “if only” and to deal with FOMO–Fear of Missing Out! How does my life compare with the pretty pictures on Facebook or Snapchat? Because, face it, most of us don’t post downers.

We post highlights–vacation shots, the new garden we planted, a cute pet, house upgrades, loving times with family and friends. Sure, those are part of our lives–but they are not the whole. The person who had a lovely vacation may come home to care for a loved one who is disabled. The beautiful home upgrades may come with a cost that pressures the family to cut back in other areas. The loving times with family and friends are precious – but do we talk about the times we disagree, see things differently?

If seen too consistently, watching the news can have a similar effect. One can become depressed about the war in Ukraine and its effect on people we care about, or even simply about a country that has been attacked without provocation.

On April 6, 2022, Healthline stated “A steady stream of disheartening news can alter your perception of the world, causing you to lack motivation and view the world with a sense of cynicism and hopelessness. Negative news has the potential to exacerbate your personal anxieties and the stressful situations occurring in your own life.”

So let me share some GOOD news, the stories we don’t read about often enough.

bbcgossip.com

Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, was recently interviewed about his pro-life stance by ESPN. Here’s what he said:

The interviewer then asks, “What would you do if a player or a female staff member of the Michigan football team came to you and said, ‘Coach, I respectfully disagree with your stance. Can we discuss it?”

“I’ve told [them] the same thing I tell my kids, boys, the girls, same thing I tell our players, our staff members. I encourage them if they have a pregnancy that wasn’t planned, to go through with it.”

“Let that unborn child be bornand if at that time, you don’t feel like you can care for it, you don’t have the means or the wherewithal, then Sarah and I will take that baby.

ESPN Interview

I am touched by Harbaugh’s commitment. Whatever your position on abortion, this man has committed, not just to a cause, but to raising children if their parents are unable to do so. I know this is cliche, but he’s put his money where his mouth is.

Another story touched me. A young man and his nephew shopped for groceries. The nephew noticed an elderly gentleman who had a hard time reaching items because of his extreme bent frame. It was hard for him to look up. The nephew said, “Can I go help him?” After receiving the ok, he approached the man. “Can I help you find things, sir?” “Thank you kindly, young man. That would be wonderful.” As his uncle shopped for their needs, his nephew ran around the store, picking things up for the elderly gentleman, having a ball.

When he had all he needed, the older man said this was the first time in fourteen years someone had offered to help him! Wouldn’t you be proud of that nephew? I sure would.

And when Don and I flew home from Wichita last Monday, a Hispanic man sat next to me, wearing a mask. I wasn’t sure if he’d want to converse, but introduced ourselves and began to talk with him. We had a most pleasant conversation. Near the end of the flight I was concerned that we might not make our transfer, since our flight had been delayed out of Wichita. My brother, Bob, was seated in the back of the plane.

I called over an air hostess and explained my concern, asking if there was some way Bob could get off the plane before others in order to make our connection. Immediately Jose spoke up. “I have more time than you do. I’ll trade with him.” And he did, so Bob, Don and I were all in a row near the front of the airplane.

Later, as we stood outside a restroom, Jose walked by.

“Will you make your flight?”

“Jose, I had the wrong time zone in my mind and we’re fine. But thank you so very much for your kindness.”

Another of those lovely moments of kindness and graciousness that we don’t hear about often enough.

So this week, let’s focus on ways we can extend kindness, both to those we love and know, and to strangers, whether it’s in the grocery line, with someone wanting to make a lane change, or someone in need of a helping hand to reach what they need on the shelves.

And let’s remember and think on the good things around us, rather than focusing on the negative. The Apostle Paul challenges us to focus on what is good.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 1:8, ESV

How have you found focusing on what is true and good helps you deal with the stresses of your life?

Funerals, Families and Friends

We left San Jose early Wednesday morning. Following a layover in Phoenix, we were supposed to stop in Denver without a plane change and go on to Wichita. Plans changed, and both we and the flight crew changed planes in Denver. Don and I walked from Gate 63 to Gate 25 … a decent hike. But we beat the flight crew.

Arriving in Wichita, we picked up our rental car and drove to my brother Arnold’s home, where we had a bittersweet reunion – sweet because we were together; bitter because we were here for Arn’s wife, Carol’s, memorial service.

I wrote about Carol two weeks ago. When Arn asked what she wanted for her service, she said, “Treat me with respect.” And he did that in spades. The service Saturday was a meaningful celebration of her life. After Arn and Carol traveled to and became involved with friends in Guatemala and then Honduras, Carol traveled there on her own several times to learn the language. She wanted to be able to communicate with the people who had become precious to them, and she and Arnold helped in significant ways over the years, and especially after recent years’ devastating hurricanes. After Carol’s death, dear Honduran friends sent a recording of the family singing “The Lord is my Shepherd” in Spanish. That was one of several very beautiful and meaningful songs of faith and trust at my sister-in-law’s memorial.

Arn and Carol’s daughter, Nicholee, brought some fabric home from Honduras years ago, from which Carol sewed herself a dress. After her mother’s death, Nicholee found the dress in Carol’s closet. It didn’t fit her in either size or style, so Nicholee pulled the whole dress apart, remade it and wore it at the service in honor of her mother.

Jerram and Arn at family dinner following Carol’s service

Their son, Jerram, engaged the audience and spoke of Carol’s impact on his life and on many others. He spoke of her life of service, her pragmatism, and her curiosity and creativity. Both children articulated lessons their mother taught them through her life.

The pastor give a message of hope and resurrection.

We spent time together with family and new and old friends who have served them faithfully–their housecleaner/ friend, who prepared special vegan meals for Nicholee. Tammy, who cut Carol and Arnold’s hair in their home for the past few years. The retired attorney who, with his wife, met Arn and Carol at a concert in Wichita and built a solid friendship over the past twenty or so years. Jenny, Arnold’s former student who was hired into his position at Sterling College after Arnold’s retirement. Gordon and Diane, Judy and her daughter Heidi, and Lila, who have been close friends for many years. Their pastor, Melissa.

Arnold’s siblings Melvyn, Bob, Don and I were present, as were Carol’s sister Judy and her husband Jim, their son James and his Jenny. Arnold’s two children and a spouse; five grandchildren and two boyfriends.

Arnold is greatly loved by his grands

A sense of warmth and love cocooned us throughout the entire weekend as we shared memories, laughter, and loss.

I’m reminded once again of the importance of family, and of presence. We need each other – for prayer, for love, for support and encouragement. I hate to think of my brother being widowed, but he will survive with the love of God, family, and friends who can step in for those of us who live further away.

My hope is in Jesus Christ, who promised that, for those who trust Him, He is preparing a home beyond this life. A home of rest, peace, productivity, worship, joy unspeakable. No more pain. No sorrow. No grief.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:3-4, NIV

So we say goodbye to our dear Carol for now, and look forward to reunion later.

Love Stories

couple elderly man old
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

They sat outside Starbucks, a balding man and graying woman. I happened to glance at them just as she leaned across the table to give him a bite of whatever she was enjoying.

“That’s seasoned love,” I thought.

So what is love? The term is used lightly in our culture.

“I love chocolate.”

“I love my new boots.”

“I love this sushi!”

But when we see the real thing, we recognize it as something precious, irreplaceable. The Apostle Paul wrote these well-known words that define the meaning of love.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

I Corinthians 13:4-9. ESV

Love is shown in the patience of a spouse or parent when the loved one makes a mistake.

It is shown in the caring, patient support of a spouse with a disability or with Alzheimer’s. Challenges can be many, and the care is sometimes very difficult, but the love resets forgiveness when needed and continues to support, encourage, uplift, and desire the best for the other.

Love is expressed by the spouse who does everything for his or her partner, from feeding, to dressing, to bathing, to brushing teeth, to lying close in bed with the assurance of presence.

Love is when one partner has a crazy, preventable accident and the first question from her spouse is “Oh honey, are you ok?”

Love is my husband starting my car on a cold morning so it will be warm when I get in.

Love is the backrub when one enters the room, “just because.”

Love is forgiveness.

Love may be speaking truth to one who is walking a destructive path … or taking advantage … or crossing righteous boundaries.

Love is giving up your rights because of a preference your partner has. It’s compromise over the small things and respect for the person to whom it’s more important on the big things.

It is enjoying being alone together or with a group of friends; talking to each other or sitting quietly, side by side.

One of my favorite definitions of love is from a young boy, who responded to the question about how you know someone loves you. He said “You know someone loves you when your name is safe in their mouth.” That’s a beautiful description. I have known that kind of love with both my late and current husbands. I knew they would not talk down about me, and that is very precious.

Love desires the best for the loved one. In His love, God desires to have a relationship with us. His love is far above and beyond ours.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV

What, or who, are some of the examples of love you have seen?

And, if you don’t know God’s personal love for you, you can. I’d love to communicate with you if you’re interested.

No More Tears

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:4, ESV

Once again the shroud of death cloaks our family, as my dear sister-in-law, Carol, wife to Arnold, left this world for heaven at 5 am Sunday.

There are so many things I remember about Carol.

Lobster fest on the East Coast after Carol’s stroke
  • Her beautiful smile when I first met Carol at Fresno Pacific College (now University).
  • Trips we took together, both before and after her stroke. The meaningful conversations over meals as we saw new parts of our country and world.
  • Her business sense as she owned and managed Decor Party Supplies in Hutchinson, Kansas for many years, until a life-changing stroke ten years ago led to the closure of the business.
  • Carol made beautiful cakes, and taught cake-making classes at Decor. She made several family celebratory cakes.
  • After my first husband, Jerry, passed away, Arn and Carol, Bob and Sheila came with me to a condo we owned in Mexico. We had fun trying Mexican cuisines from different areas. One night, at Adobe, I had my first chicken mole. Fabulous. Some mariachis came to sing a love song at our table and I began to weep, my head in my hands. Carol put her hand on my arm, expressing her understanding and love.

It took Arnold either three days or three dates to determine this was the woman with whom he wanted to spend his life. He’d dated quite a bit, so I had my questions about how serious this really was. And frankly, I was jealous. Arn and I were close, both at the same college at the same time. When I had a question or a knotty issue to untangle, I’d walk with my brother who gave a listening ear and wise counsel. Now he was enamored of this lovely woman and less available to me!

But Carol was a keeper. The first time Arn brought her to meet my parents, my father said something like, “Hold onto this one.”

There was a short time when both “Carol Froeses” (she and I) lived in San Jose and applied for work with a temp agency. Whenever the call came for Carol Froese, we’d ask “which one”? That’s kind of a tough question for an uncommon name.

She became mother to Nicholee and Jerram, and mother-in-law to Emily. Grandma to Coral, Calum, Diego, Izabella and Asa.

Carol had a heart for service, both to her community and to the world. For many years she coordinated the Sterling, Kansas Thanksgiving meal for the entire town. Carol was organized, efficient, a good leader.

She and Arn took several trips (taking students from his college classes) to Honduras, where they made deep and lasting friendships. They have continued to give support, especially in rebuilding after some of the past years’ devastating hurricanes. Their adopted family, Manuel and Flor, named their daughter Carol in honor of “Grandma Carol,” while Arnold tutors young Denzel in writing via email.

About ten years ago, Carol suffered a stroke. The doctor told Arn immediately that this was a life-altering stroke. Carol worked hard, with Arnold’s help, to regain as much mobility as possible and did very well with a walker for quite a few years before her health began to deteriorate.

Carol lost most function over the last year. Arnold was beside his wife of 55 years the whole way, feeding her, preparing her for bed, dressing her, managing her medications, and much much more.

Don and I visited Arn and Carol three and a half weeks ago, and were so grateful for our time together. Carol was quiet, head tilted to one side. A precious moment was when I gave her a long hand massage. Not much speech. Just love.

Carol is whole again. She was a loving and lovely gift to our family, and I will miss her. But I anticipate seeing her again when my call comes. There is an eternity awaiting us, and Jesus has offered us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life through his death and resurrection, paying the price for our walking away from God.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:1-3, NIV
With love, Carol

Celebration and Supplication

As we celebrate America’s freedom today, I pray we will put aside our differences and thank God for this country.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson

Yesterday we enjoyed a wonderful outdoor church service, with bunting strung along the tent and church. We thanked God for the freedoms we experience in this country. And we were reminded to look to Jesus, the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2, Berean Study Bible) for our confidence and hope.

Christina’s dance of praise

Christina shared her testimony of God’s faithfulness. Two years ago she was declared cancer free after having Stage 2 breast cancer. “I am so thankful. And that is why I dance.” We saw her gratitude in the beautiful routine she performed to the worship song, “From the rising sun to the setting same, I will praise your name. Great is your faithfulness to me.”

After church, we enjoyed hot dogs and tacos, snow cones, games for the children, a bounce house, and face painting. Most of us stayed for at least two hours before going home. Don and I enjoyed visiting with different friends and watching the fellowship around us. We were family, delighting in hanging out together. And yes, I got some face paint!

When I was in turmoil over the hostility present in our country, one of our pastors reminded me, “I have never relied on the government for my security. Governments change, leaders change. My faith is in Jesus Christ.”

So, as we celebrate the freedoms we enjoy as a nation, as we pray for change in the areas where it is badly needed, let us also remember that Jesus Christ, our hope, is over and above all.

man holding bible
Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

Galatians 5:1, 13