Saturday, February 20, 2021

How to Climb Out of the Doldrums


I sank into the doldrums. Winter weather, COVID isolation and health issues made me want to pull a blanket over my head. I sat at my computer but could think of nothing to write. I struggled through the morning.

            After lunch, I wanted to “do something” with my hands. My bathroom cabinet and drawers had bothered me for weeks. Today was the day. I’d feel better if I accomplished great things. So cleaning cloths in hand, I emptied shelves and drawers.

            I replaced soiled liners, moved products I never use and rearranged products I do use. In my makeup drawer I found 29 alcohol prep pads. They had migrated to all corners, over and under drawer dividers—and multiplied.

            Lower drawers? Total disarray—over a bed of hair. A full bag of cotton balls could just as easily live in the linen closet. I found products I forgot I had and an instruction manual I searched for just last week.

            But I also found a brand new Sugared Snickerdoodle Fragrance refill, badly needed since my old one with a dried-up wick was still plugged in.

            All it took to accomplish great things was simply to get started plus 45 minutes.

Isn’t that how it sometimes is in our relationship with God? We let it slip. And then it turns into a mess.

We go to church—well, we used to. Now it’s so much easier to put up our feet and watch online. And no one knows if we skip even that.

We used to read our Bibles. Well, maybe that’s a habit that never developed. There’s dust on the only book that can tell us how live on earth to prepare for heaven.

And praying? What good does it do anyway? Maybe we prayed for a friend’s recovery and that friend passed on. Maybe we prayed for a different job, and it never materialized. So we give up. God? He’s far away and out of touch.

When such thoughts intrude, we need a new approach. So I suggest:

            TALK to a Christian friend. We all know someone who loves to talk about God. In fact, some are just waiting for you to ask how they’ve grown in their Christian walk.

You might even look for a mentor, as Kim and Janine invited me to be theirs more than 20 years ago. They are now like daughters to me, and I learn as much from them as they do from me. We inspire each other. Your friend may suggest:

READ your Bible. For starters, set aside 10 minutes a day. Either get up earlier or turn off the TV before bedtime. (I just discovered with five-minute animated videos that clearly illustrate Bible concepts. Great for novice and seasoned Bible readers.)

            TALK to God. If you’re not sure how, just think how you’d chat over a cup of tea with anyone who loves you with all their heart. That’s God. And remember: Prayer is not about getting what you want. Prayer is about developing a relationship. I wouldn’t know my husband if I didn’t talk to him. Let’s talk to God.

            READ inspirational magazines and books. I read a page in Mornings with Jesus 2021 to preheat my mind for Bible reading. There’s Guideposts, Today’s Christian Living and a jillion online magazines (just Google) looking for subscribers.

            TALKING lets you ask questions and READING helps answer them. It’s a win-win.

            The best part of cleaning out my bathroom cabinet was that it gave me something to write about, and I’m back on a motivated track.

            So clean up your spiritual life and spruce up your relationship with God. You will surely feel invigorated. Give it a try. And let me know how it goes.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Book Review: The Boys in the Boat


The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

This heartwarming story focuses on Joe Rantz, one of the boys who grew up, went to college and made the team—against all odds. He was deserted by his father and stepmother as a boy and bounced from household to household on his road to maturity. Yet he persevered, enrolled in college and became one of the young men in the boat who rowed their way to the 1936 Olympics.

Brown has done a masterful job of researching all aspects of this story down to the posturing of Hitler and his cohorts as they hosted the Olympics while keeping the world in the dark about their insidious plans. The book includes 15 pages of extensive notes plus a detailed index. Brown spent countless hours with Joe Rantz’s daughter Judy, who shared scrapbooks, photographs (many included in the book) and letters and retold the stories she heard from her father.

In the depth of the 1930’s depression, the boys in the boat defined what teamwork means and what it can accomplish. Their coach, Al Ulbrickson, and the builder of their boat, George Pocock, played instrumental roles in the team’s success. The book leaves you inspired and encouraged to persevere in the face of adversity. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story of the boys in the boat.