Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Friday, November 24, 2023

Survey Says...

I felt privileged to be the guest speaker for a women’s retreat at Newton Community Church recently. Those ladies know how to create fun!

One of the games we played was “Friendly Feud.” Like the game show Family Feud, our version came complete with buzzer, theme music, and video graphics on the big screen. Unlike the show, each round required a fresh team of five contestants on each side. Several of us went up more than once, always sticking with the same side. This method made the game active, interactive, and entertaining. A few hilarious answers shouted from the crowd kept things lively, too.

The most frequent feud-generating objection occurred when the answers provided by the 100 surveyed people felt wrong to us.

“Name a food that goes with peanut butter.” The Number One answer was jam or jelly, but the subsequent answers left us shaking our heads. Honey, celery, bananas, and Oreos all made the list, but no one said bread!

“Name a holiday where you give presents.” The survey-takers had included birthdays and anniversaries even though those are not holidays, but they’d left out Easter.

“Name something you use your lips for.” I was on the buzzer for that question and got the Number One answer—kissing, of course. But when the last remaining answer stumped us and it turned out to be, “lick your lips,” my friend Nita voiced the obvious question. “You use your lips to lick your lips?”

But this was not Jeopardy. Giving a correct answer and guessing how most of the surveyed people answered are not the same. To play this game well, you must think the way people think when put on the spot, even though they might provide a different answer if given time to ponder, research, or discuss.

How simple it is, when surrounded by public opinion, to believe said opinion is the “correct” answer. It’s equally easy to insist that our answer is the only correct one and live with our minds closed to all else.

In his book, High Voltage Habib: Gospel of Undoctrination, Author Abhijit Naskar wrote,  

“In my 30 years of existence I’ve come to the realization that all talk of truth is nonsense. Because even though we assume truth to be absolute and universal, in reality, in our human world no one truth is universal or absolute, it’s all relative. The only force absolute and universal is love – there’s nothing higher, braver, or wiser.”

Well, that sounds like a lovely philosophy to live by. Just love. Do you suppose Naskar’s statement is an absolute truth? If so, wouldn’t that make it false?

In my 65 years of existence, I’ve come to the realization that loving well means making a thousand unselfish choices every day, year after year. I don’t know about you, but I simply do not have it in me, in my own strength, to love the way even those I love most need to be loved. This weakness would leave me with no hope at all, except for a truth I believe to be absolute. I have a Savior who not only loves perfectly but who called himself the truth.

Alistair Begg said, “…to advocate for truth is one of the most loving things we can do—for it is to call people to live in line with reality, and away from building on falsehoods that, sooner or later, will crumble beneath them.”

In the game of life, don’t put too much stock in what the survey says.


Friday, November 17, 2023

Got Yer Ticket?

Why, you might ask, would anybody want to see a play that goes wrong?

I can think of a few reasons.

1. Do you like to laugh? In 2014, when The Play that Goes Wrong opened in London’s Duchess Theatre, critic Tim Walker of The Telegraph gave the play four out of five stars. He called it “a great-looking, brilliantly performed piece,” and stated, “I have seldom, if ever, heard louder or more sustained laughter in a theatre.”

2. Do you like to support local theatre? The Prairie Players are bringing this hilarious play to life on the stage of the William Glesby Centre, with director Avery Griffiths and a combination of new and veteran local actors: Randy Lilley, Alanna Downey, Cullen Yeates, Laurel Giesbrecht, Lisa Marie Tessier-Burch, Ethan Hoekstra, Justin Fry, and Sandy Blight. With a team like that, it’s sure to be a winner.

3: Could you use a night out? You can choose from four nights, Wednesday through Saturday, November 22-25 inclusive.

As you probably already guessed, The Play that Goes Wrong is a play-within-a-play, called “the funniest play Broadway has ever seen” by The Huffington Post.

It’s opening night of a classic murder mystery called The Murder at Haversham Manor. Before the curtain even rises, trouble befalls the production. Things quickly snowball from bad to disastrous. Although certainly not the first play of this nature—or even the first our local troupe has tackled—this one promises to keep you guessing, smiling, and telling your friends.

Then again, if you’re not sure you’d enjoy an abundance of disasters befalling the cast and crew, if you don’t find sticking doors, falling props, or collapsing floors funny, this play may not be for you. If you think forgotten lines, missing cues, and breaking character are all part and parcel of an ordinary community theatre production, you may assume this is simply one more. If mispronounced words don’t raise a chuckle, stay home and watch the news where they always get it correct. If an actor getting knocked unconscious and being replaced by a stagehand who refuses to yield the role back to the actor upon her recovery doesn’t tickle your funny bone, you may find yourself sitting stoically in your seat.

I do hope that wasn’t a spoiler.

I know one thing. Deliberately getting a play wrong takes even more determination, more rehearsal, and more comedic timing than getting it right. I’ll be there, cheering on the cast and crew who are working so diligently to get this play that goes wrong just right.

The Play That Goes Wrong was written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields of Mischief Theatre Company, and all three playwrights acted in its first production. It won Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards.

Don’t miss it!


Friday, November 10, 2023

What History Forgets...

How desperate does a nation need to become before its leader calls for a National Day of Prayer?

On May 24, 1940, the British needed a miracle. One of the greatest disasters in its history seemed in the making. When France fell to the Germans, the British Army of 350,000 men were hemmed in with their backs to the sea at Dunkirk and no one to save them. The water was too shallow for a Navy rescue. The commander of the British Forces, Lt. General Sir Frederick Morgan, stated that there was no way out, barring a miracle.

Then something happened that has only happened a handful of times.

King George VI (grandfather of our current King Charles) went on the radio to call for the first National Day of Prayer, imploring citizens to plead for divine intervention. You may have seen the iconic photographs of long lineups at London’s Westminster Abbey. Millions flocked into churches to pray, while others prayed from home. Historian Dr. Victor Pearce wrote, “Hardly anybody stayed away. The churches and halls were crammed full and overflows outside were sometimes bigger than the crush inside.”

Britain received its miracle—in fact, several miracles—in the days that followed.

No one could explain how the English Channel remained absolutely calm all the days during which thousands of private boats traveled back and forth, rescuing members of the British Expeditionary Army from the sands of Dunkirk. Had the weather been normal for those few days, the world map would no doubt look much different today.

No one could explain the freak storms that simultaneously grounded most of the German air force. Only a few planes were able to take off, and no one could explain the fog that prevented those few from attacking the civilian vessels in the channel.

No one could explain Hitler’s order, overruling his own generals. Just as his tanks prepared to advance, he ordered to halt the attack and sent his troops in a different direction. This order remained in effect for two days while soldiers were evacuated by civilian boats. Some writers speculated that Hitler had given the order out of a misguided sense of mercy, hoping the British were ready to surrender. The historian Brian Bond stated that few historians now accept that view. In later years, Adolf Hitler lamented that Churchill was “quite unable to appreciate the sporting spirit” in which he’d refrained from annihilating [the] British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk.


No one could explain the apparent immunity of 400 soldiers who rose to their feet after lying face-down in the sand beneath a rain of German ammunition, to discover themselves unhurt. No one could explain the image of their own silhouettes in the sand, surrounded by bullets.


338,226 soldiers were successfully evacuated from a seemingly impossible situation. So convinced were the British of the value of prayer that more National Days of Prayer were called in the months and years to follow. Yes, much damage was done and many lives were lost, but those who experienced it would never forget what became known as The Miracle at Dunkirk. Unfortunately, the story has faded from memories and history books. Though you can find numerous YouTube videos about the event, most ignore the call to prayer.


While it’s hard to imagine Parliament calling for a national prayer day in 2023, nothing need stop you and me from praying. My Bible tells me the heart of the king is in God’s hands (Proverbs 21:1) and that we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against an unseen world (Ephesians 6:12). Matthew 8 tells me of a Saviour who stops the wind with his words.


This Remembrance Day, let’s remember not only those who sacrificed, but those who prayed and the God who hears.


Lest we forget.


(For a moving, 8-minute video that tells this story far better than I can, CLICK HERE.)



Friday, November 3, 2023

Unreasonable Reasons

Do you believe everything happens for a reason? Do you believe sometimes that reason is simply that people do stupid things? Judge for yourself.

Our trip had been in the works for a year. A high school reunion in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota in October. We signed up. Booked time off. Got all our ducks in a row. Packed. Reserved a room in Pierre for Thursday night. Left our house around 9:00 a.m., anticipating a ten-hour drive.

More than two hours later, we were filling with gas in Boissevain, twenty minutes from the border, when I remembered. My passport still sat in my dresser drawer.

I am not normally forgetful. Hubby hadn’t asked, “Got your passport?” (Though I suspect he will next time.) He’d seen no reason to ask because he knew my track record. I’m a list-maker, writing down and crossing off everything. Yet somehow, my passport hadn’t crossed my mind. Not once.

“He’s going to kill me,” I thought.

Yet the only naughty word I heard came from my own mouth.

We turned around and headed for home. Though I was kicking myself for such a dumb mistake, Hubby was nothing but gracious. “I can’t be mad,” he said. “This is so unusual, it seems like there must be some other reason we’re supposed to go home.”

I’d had the same thought.

We began texting our son and a few friends to see if anyone was free to go to our house, find my passport, and meet us somewhere to save at least some time. Despite our offer of a tank of gas, no one could, convincing us even more that we were meant to go home. Eventually, we reached the point where it made no difference. We’d be driving all the way home, our brains dialed to high alert. Was our house on fire? Had something happened to one of our loved ones?

We pulled into town. “Should we stop for the mail?” Hubby asked.

“Might as well,” I said.

He pulled up to the post office, went inside, and returned with a Compassion catalogue which he tossed into my lap. “Well, it’s not about the mail.”

A fire truck, siren blaring, went by. Instead of turning toward our place, though, it kept going. “Well, it’s not about our house on fire,” I said.

When we pulled into our driveway, everything appeared as we’d left it. Nothing suspicious inside.

We had not, however, heard from our son, who typically responds in minutes. Two hours had passed since we’d begun texting and calling. Was he the reason we’d come back? What if he was in trouble? Knowing we wouldn’t relax if we headed for the U.S., we decided to drive east to Elie so we could check on him. Worst case scenario, we’d feel like foolish helicopter parents and add yet another unnecessary hour to our trip.

As I climbed into the car, my phone rang. It was our son. Everything was fine.

We took a different route south and spent the night in Jamestown, relieved when the hotel in Pierre granted a full refund but still wondering, “what was THAT all about?”

We may never know. We did hear about torrential rainfall in western South Dakota, and we saw some of its results when we arrived the following afternoon. Maybe it was about that. Maybe we missed an accident somewhere. Maybe it was simply human forgetfulness. Not everything has to be “about” something. Part of living by faith means you live with these kinds of questions and look for significance behind every snag. 

One thing I do know. My husband’s gracious response to my costly blunder spoke volumes. This gentle reminder of God’s work in his life and in our relationship, knowing how I’d have reacted had the tables been turned, left me feeling humbled, loved, and safe.

Maybe that’s all it needed to be about.

Hubby and Me near Rapid City, SD