Lamb’s Ears

Used by permission from Forthright Magazine ( Copyright © 2012, Christine Berglund.

Almost every garden visitor wants to bend down and pet the Lamb’s Ears. I have a huge mass of them in my front garden, waiting for a good time to transport them to the new Children’s Garden in town. Everyone on the committee for the new project agreed that the downy, soft leaves of this plant would make a fun tactile experience for kids.

Lamb’s Ears, or “Stachys Byzantina,” forms a wooly mat of intertwined stems laying along the ground and rooting wherever they touch the earth. It has pretty purple flower stalks in the summer, which attract bees to the garden.

We so adore soft things like the Lamb’s Ears plants, or if we are fortunate enough to experience farm life, the little lambs born in the springtime. Their innocence and trusting nature draws us to them. You want to pet them and hold them. Most touchable of all are their little soft ears!

Now, this is where our warm, fuzzy story turns gory, bloody, and violent. Like the lamb that that was sacrificed at the first Passover, Jesus gave himself up to a grisly death. His blood was spilled and used like the Passover Lamb to cover our dwelling place doors. When the Israelites slaughtered their Passover lamb, they used the blood to mark the doors where they lived, so that the Angel of Death would not enter. Those doors are our hearts, and if we want to escape the fate we really deserve, they must be marked with the blood from this shockingly brutal sacrifice.

We may think of the Lamb of God in terms of soft, furry, and touchable. I do not disagree. However, Jesus is more than a baby in a manger, or a soft little lamb whose ears we want to stroke. We remember the Cross, and cringe in horror. But his magnificent love made us clean, and his horrific, sacrificial death allows us an abundant life.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” proclaimed John the Immerser in John 1:29 (NASB).

But how? Not by being warm and fuzzy.

The book of Hebrews outlines how Jesus was our Passover Lamb, tortured and left to die without even the comfort of knowing God was with him. He cried out in agony, like a trusting and helpless lamb, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This was because the righteous and pure God of heaven could not look upon sin. Sin was exactly what Jesus took upon himself as our Lamb of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

One downside of the lovely and touchable Stachys plant is that during the summer the center of the plant dies out, becomes revoltingly slimy and ugly. Many a summer I have uprooted this dead stuff and tossed it on a compost pile, only to have it spring to life when I wasn’t looking!

In my garden, it’s a reminder that the Lamb of God had to die, and then rise again.

As I touch this soft plant that shares a nickname with my Savior, I remember that all was not sweetness and softness for him, because of the seriousness of my own sin problem.

I love how plants remind me of such wonderful truths!

“He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Live for him! He died for you.

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How long since you’ve been quiet? Really quiet. How long since you sat still and surrounded yourself with silence? Just you and the space around you. No companion (except for our omni-present God), no cell phone, no computer, no music, no tv, no talking. Alone with your thoughts in a silent space.

Does that sound like bliss to you, or does the idea scare you silly? As I watch the people around me, I get the idea many are afraid to be quiet.

Look at us:

The constant, forced activity… (It’s one of my pet peeves that parents think they must fill every moment of a child’s day with regulated activity.)

The cell phone pasted to every other ear or clutched in every hand…

The “conversations” which consist of people talking in steadily increasing volume and never really listening to one another…

The “music” playing at a painful and dangerous decibel level…

The people rushing at top speed to get from one activity to another before they’re late…

And everybody seems to be late for something.  Nobody “has time” to eat, to sleep, to breathe, to think, to become, to BE.

I am reminded of Madeleine L’Engle’s book, A Wind in the Door, when the little farandolae screamed ever louder and whirled ever faster and refused to stop and Deepen.  Okay, you’ll have to read the book to see the whole story.  Let’s just say that a refusal to be still and quiet was nearly fatal.   Is that happening to us?  Are we whirling and screaming ourselves into a bad ending?

Certainly the God who created us knows the value of quietness.  Look at these verses:

Psalm 37:7  “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”

Psalm 46:10  “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

1Timothy 2:2  [Paul advises Timothy to pray] “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

Proverbs 17:1  “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.”

So, what?

So, I challenge you to give quietness a fair trial.  It may not be easy at first.  Practice it.  Don’t give up.  Drop some unnecessary busy-ness.  Take or make some time each day to be in a quiet place, turn off the electronics and stay still.  Pray.  Read your Bible.  Take a look into your own heart and brain.  You may be pleasantly surprised to see what imaginative and helpful things have been lurking in your head–things that weren’t able to get a word out because of constant noise.  Learn to be comfortable with the you inside your head.  Be still and know that God IS.



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I recently discovered that WordPress is inserting ads (in the form of youtube videos) at the end of some posts. Can’t complain about that, since I am using the free service. However, I would like to say that I have no control over what is advertised and never know when one will appear. Their presence does NOT constitute my endorsement of the product.

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A very serious thought: The Baby Grew Up

If you haven’t subscribed to Forthright Magazine (free), you are missing some wonderful spiritual food.  Here is an example.

(Used by permission from Forthright Magazine (  Copyright © 2008 Richard Mansel.)

We love babies. We gather around them in wonder and coo in total bliss. Purity and innocence radiate from their tiny bodies as they remind us of what is best about humanity.

As Christmas time nears, the baby Jesus becomes a very important part of our society. People proclaim that Jesus [specifically, the baby] is the reason for the season and when the packages are unwrapped and the decorations stashed away, the baby fades back into obscurity for another year. /1

Why are we so enamored of the baby and so hostile to the adult Jesus? The answer lies in the fact that the baby grew up and with his growth came responsibility and consequence on the part of mankind.

Accordingly, people love the baby Jesus far more than they do the adult Lord.

Herod wanted to destroy Jesus for political reasons ( Matthew 2:1-9, 16-18). However, the baby Jesus was not a threat to anyone spiritually. He was just a Jewish baby who had issued no commands or forced men to choose spiritual life or death.

The baby Jesus unites, while the man Jesus divides ( Matthew 10:34-36). His doctrines force people to put away sinful practices and relationships ( Romans 5:6-11). Despite his offer of grace and mercy, most will refuse to come to him ( Matthew 7:13-14).

Jesus is Lord and God, whether as a baby or an adult ( John 1:1-5). Yet, people want to divide them up into the dear Jesus and the dangerous Jesus.

In this confusion, we find man’s destruction.

The Colossians fell into a similar trap. They were worshiping angels because they asked nothing of them and appeared to fill a spiritual void ( Colossians 2:18). Likewise, people are enamored of the baby Jesus because he is not speaking against their sinful lifestyles. In the manger, he offers the warm glow without the fear of being burned.

People have greatly misunderstood the baby Jesus. He is the God of love and grace ( John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). We can find no better alternatives, so we better not let this one go by ( John 6:68; Matthew 11:28-30).

In doing so, we humble ourselves before him and have our sins washed away, so we can be transformed ( Acts 2:38; Romans 12:1-2). As a result, we will see the baby and the adult Jesus as the true Savior of the world.

When will we accept our sins, so we can give them up? When we do, we can stop playing mind games designed to rationalize away God’s will. Let us make peace and accept him today ( Acts 22:16).

1/ There isn’t any scriptural authority for a religious holiday focused on the birth of Jesus. But we can honor it as a family holiday.

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Christ in Christmas? Not in the Bible.

I wonder if Satan sneers (and rejoices, if his evil heart could do such a thing) when he sees people who claim to be Christians bickering with non-believers over whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”, and whether or not to put “nativity scenes” on public property.

For the record, I am a Christian.  Our family does enjoy December 25th, but as a family day, not a “holy day”.   We do celebrate Jesus–just not as a newborn baby on one day a year, but every Sunday when we participate in communion with our Christian family and with Christ Himself.  According to the Bible, this is the only memorial He instituted for Himself.  Nowhere in the pages of that Book can I find Him asking us to celebrate His birth.

So, I don’t want to fuss and fight over how we greet people for the holiday, or any of the rest of it.  Insisting on “keeping Christ in Christmas” is insisting on putting Him where He never asked to be.

Are we honoring Christ if we make up our own celebrations from bits of paganism and fantasy and lack of Biblical knowledge; if we call it a “Christian” holiday, and don’t proclaim Him in the one way He asked?

Do we honor Him when we celebrate Him one day a year and spend the rest of the year totally ignoring Him and His commands?

Do we honor Him when we do only what makes us feel good in our religious service and don’t look in the Bible to see the way He wants us to worship and live?

Am I being a legalist?  I don’t know.  I only know I want to please my heavenly Father and His Son.  Please consider these verses:

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

John 15:14 “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

2 John 1:9 “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”

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Thanksgiving Day or Turkey Day?

Which do we celebrate?

It makes me sad that the one day of the year our country set aside for giving thanks has degenerated into orgies of overeating and football games and shopping, with rarely a mention or thought of giving thanks.  Even the name is changing.  “Turkey day”?  What?  We’re turning the day into a day to honor the turkey?

But I guess it’s only to be expected.  When humanism trumps theism in people’s minds, the One responsible for all of our blessings is booted out.  Why would people give thanks to a being they refuse to believe in.  What a sad, sad state of affairs for our country and for each individual who is suffering from that delusion.  When a soul refuses to acknowledge God and thank Him for blessings given, what hope does that soul have?

For Christians, everyday should be a day of giving thanks.  On Thanksgiving day we get to focus even more deeply on our blessings and the Source of them.  Enjoy the day.  Enjoy the feast and the fellowship.  Those were part of the original day of Thanksgiving that our forefathers celebrated.  Enjoy the football (even if the Pilgrims never heard of it).  But let’s don’t forget the reason for the day and the reason for our hope of an even better life beyond this one.

Let’s don’t celebrate “Turkey Day”.  Let’s celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

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If you’ve ever had trouble with your computer…

A funny from ThePunnery.  Watch once for the words and once for the photos.

Enjoy and pass it on!

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I wish I knew “Whodunit”

Almost halfway into the first draft of my next “Fiddling With Murder” book, I still don’t know for sure the identity of the murderer.

See what problems the inability to outline causes! (Trying to convince my ornery inner writer here.)   I’ve said before that I’ve tried all kinds of “methods” to outline a novel, but none of them works for me.  Either I have a weird brain or a great lack of self-discipline.  Whatever the cause, I start a book with a vague idea of its main point and a fair amount of certainty about where it will end.  That’s it.

I must admit, this one is coming a bit differently than some of the others.  I’m getting scenes that aren’t in chronological order.  (The challenge will be to put them together in a way that makes sense and doesn’t bore the reader to death.)

But I still don’t know who pulled the trigger of the gun in the first scene.   Will I figure it out before Danny and Constancy do?  I sure hope so!

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On Being an Introvert in an Extrovert World

Using Facebook is sometimes good, sometimes not so good.  One really good thing recently came to me from there.  One of my friends posted a link to a blog about being an introvert.

I’ve known for most of my life that I’m an introvert, but I didn’t realize that fact explained so much about who I am and how I react to life.  The blog quoted a book titled THE INTROVERT ADVANTAGE by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy. D.  The quote intrigued me so much that I bought the book.  As I read it, I had one “Aha!” moment after another.  Some of it brought tears to my eyes.  It was such a relief to discover why being in large groups of noisy people made me progress from feeling irritable to “must escape or explode”.  I learned why I crave a lot of time alone, why I’m uncomfortable in new surroundings, why I dread talking on the phone, why I have to rehearse what I want to say before I get up enough nerve to say it–even in normal conversation, and much, much more.  I’m not crazy.  I’m not anti-social or a snob.  I’m an introvert.

Somebody recently said to me: “You’re an introvert and proud of it”, which hurt a little.  I’m neither proud nor ashamed of it.  It just is. There’s no way an extrovert can imagine the struggle and mental agony it sometimes takes introverts to do even little things extroverts can do automatically and well.

Three-quarters of the people in the world are extroverts.  While the rest of us can learn coping mechanisms which will help us to survive and even thrive in this extroverted world, we cannot totally change our inner selves into extroverts.

To me, the most enlightening part of Dr. Laney’s book was the science behind being an introvert.  Her explanation is long and involved, and to see a full explanation, please get a copy of the book.  It boils down to studies which show that extroverts’ brains and introverts’ brains process information in entirely different ways and rely on different neuro-transmitters.  Introverts also have shorter copies of  the D4DR gene, the “novelty-seeking gene”.

It’s quite a relief to learn that I don’t need to turn myself into something I’m not.  I just need to learn the coping mechanisms, practice them and do the best I can.

If you are an introvert, please do some study on this topic.  Dr. Laney’s book might be a huge help, but there are other books out there, too.

If you are an extrovert, you also need some study–if for no other reason than you need to understand why your introverted friend or relative can’t fully function the way you do.  You will both be glad you took the time to learn.

Our world needs both kinds of people.  Appreciate each other’s strengths and help each other’s weaknesses.

Here is Dr. Laney’s website, a good place to start. Her books are available on Amazon.  Links to that on the website.

Another good article.

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Dullahan Mountain Breakdown–coming August 1, 2011

   At age seven, when Maura Tasgall saw her parents murdered, she gave up on happy endings.  Now, if she stays alive long enough to unearth the evil that killed them, she may find justice and closure, but still no happy ending–not unless her mother’s fairy tales weren’t fiction.


In my view, the test of a successful science-fiction or fantasy novel is simple. Can I believe in the world created by the writer? Do the fantasy elements ring true? To both of these questions, when applied to D. H. Parker’s Dullahan Mountain Breakdown, my answer is a resounding ‘Yes’.

From the first pages of Dullahan Mountain Breakdown, we know that we’re in a different world, one inhabited by Fair Folk or fairies.  Here there are secret places unseen by mortals, veils of invisibility, jewelry with magical powers, and a mysterious cave that holds unimaginable secrets. Ms. Parker makes them all so real that you think they really do exist in some small, dark town in the Ozarks.

As an adult, Maura Tasgall returns to Amberwell, a town described by Ms. Parker as a place where “the air of it seemed fogged with fear as well as evil”. Maura is determined to unravel the mysteries that darkened her girlhood. When she was a child, her mother, Aislin, shunned as a witch, supposedly ran away with her lover. Soon after, Maura’s father died in a cave-in, or breakdown, leaving her with a legacy of unnatural nightmares and self-doubt.

But Maura has always been convinced that her mother was murdered and the killer, never punished for the crime, is alive and well in Amberwell, planning to kill again. Maura has a plan of her own: To unmask this murderer.

Ultimately, Maura discovers the truth about Amberwell’s dark secrets, but not without being drawn into an age-old battle between Good and Evil, a struggle made more difficult as she learns that things aren’t what they seem.

Dullahan Mountain Breakdown is a rare enchanting fantasy novel. For all its darkness, it works its way to a redeeming brightness, rather like a shine of fairy gold.

Dorothy Bodoin, author

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