Serious Today


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Ghouls come from Arabian mythology. They are legendary evil beings that rob graves and feed on corpses.

I can’t figure out why anyone would want to portray such a being, or even watch movies about ghouls and zombies and such. Evil is not entertaining. it is——well, evil!

I have some ideas about why our society has become so enamored of all the horror and ugliness of Halloween. I remember it as just a fun evening after supper when we roamed the neighborhood in silly costumes, looking for as much candy as our pillowcases could hold. The neighbors enjoyed it. They always made a fuss over our costumes, and many of them baked cookies for us.  No one was afraid.

Of course, the roots of Halloween go back to the worship of Satan, but that kind of got lost in the fog of mystery and history for a long time. Then, somewhere in the 60’s or 70’s, Satan worship once again became a visible and alluring thing for a lot of poor souls, and Halloween turned ugly–and became a cash cow for merchants.  Odd how the worship of evil often goes hand in hand with money.

We stopped letting our kids go trick-or-treating after the Tylenol scare, the razor blades in apples, and a horrific Halloween kidnapping in central Minnesota that has only recently been solved.  Instead, we hosted a party for them and their friends. Old-fashioned games, silly costumes–and safety.  Other parents were delighted.

Why is this happening?  There is nothing kid-friendly about monsters and skeletons hanging from trees. It saddens me that so many kids see this stuff as fun or normal. It’s not.

So I’m going to go out on a limb.  Some of you will think I’m ridiculous, that all the fuss and feathers over Halloween is over the top.

I believe the problem is that as our nation turns away from God and godliness, we have turned instead to satanic entertainment.  Movies, books, TV programs, decorations. Halloween has become second only to Christmas in sales, and the irony of that shouldn’t escape us.

When we remove something, whether it is good or evil, we need to replace it with something else, or it will return.  It’s the old “nature abhors a vacuum”  principle. We’ve removed God. He has been replaces with immorality of all sorts; with rape, murder, unspeakable evil perpetrated in the name of Satan.

You may not believe that Satan is real, or that evil lives in the heart of mankind. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things, incorrigibly wicked, and beyond our own  understanding (Jeremiah 17:9). When we laugh at evil, we mock the holiness of God.

Isaiah 5:20 says that good will become evil, and evil will become good.  It was true in Isaiah’s time, and it is becoming more the reality in our own time.

Laugh if you like.  The Bible says that we will reap what we sow.  We won’t be laughing then.




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There are so many ways we use this funny little word, which comes from the Flemish vlufe,  and has gradually transmogrified into fluff. 

It can refer to the lint on your sleeve, or the puffy clouds racing across the sky.  It can be a light, shallow piece of writing or entertainment.  It can refer to a young woman’s hair that has been teased up into a fluffy style–reminiscent of the 1960’s.

Or it can refer to a poor performance, perhaps in sports or maybe in drama if an actor messes up his lines.

Not feeling particularly deep this morning,  I’m going to share one of my favorite usages of fluffy with you, and I’ll be done:


Image result for Ewe's not fat, ewe's fluffy cartoon




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This word is on my list of words never to use.  Why?  Because it has become over-used, and  meaningless.  Just like awesome, which is applied to everything from a good hamburger to a handsome guy.  Please. Find another adjective.

When I hear someone saying some experience was surreal, I’m often tempted to ask if they know the meaning of the word.  Here are some synonyms:

unrealbizarreunusualweirdstrangefreakishunearthlyuncannydreamlike, phantasmagorical

Are you sure you want to apply such words to every experience during the course of your day?  I mean, a good pizza is a thing of beauty, but is it really phantasmagorical? Maybe, if you were THAT hungry!


We have fallen into the habit of using superlative words to describe normal things. If your walk in the park was surreal, then what are you going to use to describe an unusually beautiful sunset?  Oh, wait.  I know. Awesome. Totally awesome. 

THIS is surreal:

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Most things in our daily lives are not surreal. Really.


A Force of Nature

Helpless, the old man stood under the sheltering trees with his young grandson. They  watched  as the forerunners of the killing clouds formed over their heads, knowing there was no escape.

Hundreds of miles away, the  volcano belched, roared, and vomited its noxious mix of fire, stone, and ash. The death cloud.

“Don’t worry,” the scientists had said. “It’s been extinct for thousands of years. The noises you hear are just internal rock slides. Sleep well. There is no danger.”

The old man saw the ugly clouds, and he knew.  Danger.  Death.

They weren’t worried about nuclear warfare any more.

Who am I?


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Identity is a fickle thing, isn’t it?  There are so many ways in which we identify ourselves, and we use each one in different circumstances.

For example, when I first meet a person, I may offer my hand and say, “Hi, I’m Linda. So nice to meet you.”  And I am identified as Linda.

But if a conversation ensues, we will ask about one another’s work  (therapist, counselor) or marriage (wife) or children (mother) or grandchildren (grandmother). Or we may become quite comfortable as we get to know each other, and begin to inquire about what our parents did (pastor, pastor’s wife; father, husband, grandfather; wife, mother, grandmother).  Or perhaps we had previous careers differing from what we do now (teacher, full-time stay-at-home mom).  Or maybe what we aspire to be (writer).



Image result for who am I really?

What interest me is that we invariably identify ourselves by what we DO, and not by who we ARE. In my work, I need to discover that–who my clients really are, not just what they do. We talk about very personal things, and I am often amazed at the intimate things my clients tell me. After all, they don’t know who I am. They don’t know if I’m a safe person, and they are confiding very personal information to me.

So I would rather be identified by others something like this: “Linda is someone you can trust.  She listens carefully, and she seems to truly  care about her clients.  She always tries to give biblical counsel, and she sometimes shares her own struggles so you know she’s human, too.  She really loves God, and she loves the Bible. And she loves her husband, and her children and grandchildren.”

That kind of identity is far more important to me.



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Stumped. I mean, I know what a trademark is. I understand its importance, and how it identifies certain brands and so forth. It’s just not a very inspiring word, you know?  I can’t even dream up a story around it.
Maybe that’s because I’ve been prepping for a rather unpleasant medical procedure and I just don’t care very much. Right now, this is my trademark:
Image result for emoji sick, nauseated



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I enjoy words that sound like what they mean.  Swish. Slice. Bop. Pop. Rumble. Giggle. It’s a very long list, and our one-word prompt today is a good example.

The opposite of cacophony  is euphony, which simply means good or pleasant sound.

So that tells you what cacophony means. Not so pleasant.  I think right away of the TV program The View, in which the women on the panel spend an hour interrupting and talking over each other. Makes me shudder.  I don’t watch it.  Most unpleasant.  If I don’t watch it, how do I know?

I watched it twice; once, just to see what it was about; the second time to see if my first experience was just on an off day. It wasn’t.

The word comes from two Greek roots:  kakos, meaning bad, and phonos, which means sound.

Think of a flock of crows.  Or geese.  A gang of angry bees. Hurricane winds.  An angry crowd.  The screeching and banging of a car accident. So many sounds to which we automatically react with dislike, fear, or dread.

I love good music.  Lots of different genres, but all euphonious.  I strongly dislike the angry, screaming sounds of some of the “music” that is popular with young people today.  It is not meant to relax, to enjoy; it is meant to pump up, even to enrage. No thanks.

A lot of the political noise out there today is cacophony. It’s been a long time since we’ve experienced any real political harmony in America, or even the sound of civil, courteous debate. Just lots of anger, dissonance, hatred, and outright lying.

Cacophony.  Bad sound.

Great Expectations


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We all have them.  High hopes. dreams of the future,  expectations of the people in our lives; goals for work, for personal achievement and satisfaction. Nothing wrong with that–most of the time.

Often, the people I see in my counseling office are there because they’ve  had hopes crushed, dreams denied. Their expectations have not risen to the level they had established, and now they’re depressed, perhaps angry, and they don’t know how to deal with their crushed expectations.



I don’t think I would agree completely with Shakespeare on this statement, but it is often true that our expectations, when not achieved, bring us great heartache.

Take our children, for instance. Every set of expectant parents tends to have THE PERFECT CHILD  in their minds. Their child will personify every dream they’ve ever had. The child will be brilliant, gifted, talented, handsome or beautiful, renowned for the goodness of character, and so on and on.

And then the baby turns out to be just an ordinary person, with all the positives and negatives that contained therein, and the parents are disappointed. Their expectations did not come to fruition. They have an ordinary kids who does pretty well, but makes not marks on history and even gets into trouble now and then.

Should they be disappointed?  I don’t think so.  I think they had piled a lot of unreasonable pressure on this poor baby, and when he didn’t rise to meet their exaggerated expectations, they were disappointed, even feeling the child was deliberately letting them down.  The fault lay in the parents’ unrealistic expectations, not in the child’s lack of brilliance.

But aren’t there things we should expect of our children?  Yes, of course. But the child will not be born with those things in place.  They need to be taught. They need to be lived out in front of the child. They need to be instilled in the child through consistent training and discipline when needed. Parenting is a lot of work, and expectant parents would do well to understand that they are NOT getting ready to produce the next  Wonder of the World. They need to set their expectations on that which is achievable through giving the child the best atmosphere possible as he grows up; they need to set their own expectations at a reasonable, achievable level so that neither they nor the child will feel like failures for the rest of their lives.

And who knows?  Maybe that child WILL become the next Einstein, or Tchaikovsky, or Monet, or DaVinci.  Or maybe she will grow up to marry a man she loves, rear normal children, and find contentment in the ordinary.  Having high hopes is fine; having unreasonably high expectations/demands of someone who hasn’t even been born yet is not fine. It sets up the playing field for conflict, disappointment, and frustration.  As the child grows and develops, she should definitely be encouraged to follow whatever her talents seem to be.

Encouraged, not forced.

There is a Limit


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Little Timmy had been expressing himself for several hours. Wandering around the house, he had streaked mud on the floor and the walls.  He had used his finger paints on the carpeting. He had smeared the contents of his diaper on his crib and the wall during his  “nap.”

He had dumped his bowl on top of his head at lunch, banging his spoon on the tray and hollering for more. He had flushed his shirt down the toilet. He had used the bathtub for a urinal. He had run one of his Matchbox cars on the table top, leaving a tangle of scratches.

Then he turned his attention to his mommy’s yarn basket, knotting up the  strands so badly that she threw it out in despair. When he took the arm of the stereo and moved it back and forth across the record she’d been playing,  something big snapped in Mommy’s head.

She took his little earlobe between her fingers, pulling him into the kitchen where she found a little wooden spoon. Divesting Timmy of his diaper, she bent him over her knee and whacked his backside.



He screamed, “NOOOoooooo!  Hurts, Mommy!”

“I know.  You’ve been hurting me all day.  Time for me to express myself, young man. Enough is enough!”  And she whacked him again.

While they were making up, him sobbing on her lap while she hugged him, he said, “I sowwy, Mommy.”  And she said, “I love you, Timmy, but there are limits on how you may express yourself. Well, tomorrow is a new day.  But I think we’re going to keep this spoon in plain sight for a while.”


PS.  Some of you may be horrified that this child was admonished in such an old-fashioned way.  I know it’s not politically correct to spank a child these days.  I can only tell you that if more moms and dads had used this quick and impressive reminder on a recalcitrant child, I wouldn’t have so many unhappy, rebellious teens sitting in my counseling office complaining that their parents don’t understand them.  The child in this little story is not Timmy.  He may recognize himself. He’s a happy, contributing, well-adjusted adult with children of his own.



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It has been said that being brave is to go ahead and do what needs doing even when you’re terrified.

I believe that concept applies to a lot of life experiences.

Having babies, for instance. I had four. I wasn’t terrified with the first.  Mildly apprehensive, perhaps, but not really afraid.

The next three times, I was scared to death. Sometimes when you know exactly what you’re facing, the fear intensifies.  Obviously, though, I survived each one.  Most of us do. And there’s nothing I find more  ridiculous than a woman who has gone through multiple childbirths who enjoys telling how she nearly died with each one.  Good grief.

For me, learning to drive was indeed a brave thing. I wanted to do it, but my dad was old-school, and never wanted any female driving HIS car 🙂  I wasn’t allowed to take driver’s ed in high school. Terry taught me to drive before we were married, and in spite of that he married me anyway 🙂

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I’ve never gotten over the fear of driving in heavy city traffic in unfamiliar places.  I won’t do it.  And the older I grow, the less willing I am to drive anywhere but places with which I’m completely familiar.

When we moved from Michigan to Pennsylvania, we’d been married only five years or so. Terry drove the U-Haul across the country, and I followed him with our car and our two little boys.  White-knuckled all the way. Chicago was a horror show. When we finally arrived, it took me a couple of days to decompress.  When I’m afraid, it manifests in anger.  Terry didn’t have the first clue why he was getting cold shoulder and hot tongue for supper.

So, was I brave to make that drive when I was so afraid of it?  I don’t know.  Maybe, but I didn’t feel brave.  I did what had to be done, with a four-year-old and a 18-month old for company, along with a lot of twangy, nasal country music on the radio. All I can say now is that I was so glad when it was over that all I could do was cry.

And then, of course, I had to learn how to deal with Pennsylvania topography, which is a whole different thing than Minnesota or Michigan. Come to think of it, I was nervous every time I had to drive somewhere for the first few months. Not brave. Not at all.

But one does what one must 🙂