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Showing posts from April, 2012

Učina | Simple Acts of Kindness

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Welcome to Real Life. In his book Just a Minute, Wes Stafford tells stories of children whose lives have been impacted by an adult who cared. This is the story of an adult who cared about me. 


When my father immigrated to the United States, he was sponsored by Leo and Frances Kramar. The Kramar family once lived in his hometown of Lučky, Slovakia. They had moved to America years earlier and were now well-established. Though not related, we called them Uček and Učina (uncle and aunt). 

The Kramars owed my father nothing. Yet, they selflessly gave of their time and resources to help first him (as a bachelor) and then his new family (once he married) settle in America. Uček was kind. Yet, he was often busy helping my father. But, Učina was kind and welcoming. She enjoyed our presence.

The couple owned a neat brick double in an old Slavic neighborhood of Cleveland. To a child, it was an enormous place with endless nooks and crannies to explore. A tiny grove of plum trees grew in one corner…

Where is the God of Justice?

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Welcome to Real Life. Life doesn’t get more real than the book of Malachi. The people of Israel are discouraged. Life is hard. They're disappointed with God.
“I have always loved you,” says the Lord. But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?”

“It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements?”[1]Have you ever felt this way? Israel did. Her people had spent seventy years in captivity in Babylon. Now they’re back, but they’re not back. Israel was once a super power. Now, she’s poor and weak. God’s glory and presence that once filled his temple are long gone. The people are back in their own land, but they’re still under the strong arm of the Persian Empire. Evil men reign and prosper while God’s own people falter. Where is the God of justice?

It can seem futile to serve God today. Evil people often prosper. Good people are mocked and vilified. Occasionally, we see justice. Cuyahoga County residents felt a measure of satisfaction when our co…

The Power of One (How Do I Measure Success?)

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Welcome to Real Life. Yesterday, someone asked me how many people read my blog. I hesitated before answering. Will he be impressed or feel sorry for me when he hears my number?

On a good day, I’m amazed that anyone takes the time to read my blog in our crazy-busy world. On a not-so-good day, I get caught up in the numbers game. I measure my success by the number of people who read my blog, follow me on Twitter or facebook, read my articles, attend my classes, etc. The publishing industry is very concerned with numbers. They want to know: How far is your reach? How LARGE is your platform? Who cares to read what you have to say?  I understand their focus. Numbers translate into dollars. We all need to eat.

The trick is to separate my focus from theirs. Concentrating on numbers shifts my motivation which changes my writing. I alter words to please the crowd. I veer off-course. It’s not always easy to find my way back home. It was God who inspired me to write.  When I …

Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?

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Welcome to Real Life. God’s grace is so rich and abundant and free. I live it, walk it, breath it. It envelopes me like a warm blanket. Because it's so familiar, I forget that it came at an enormous cost. On a day I least expected, God brought this lesson home. 
I was traveling Slovakia with my parents one summer, visiting relatives and sightseeing. My cousin Ľudka planned a day trip to Levoča for us. It is an ancient, walled city that has two churches of special interest: the hilltop Basilica of the Visitation and St. Jacob’s Cathedral which houses Master Paul's carvings from the 1500’s.

Walking up to the Basilica, we were met with the sweet melody of chanted prayers. Ľudka led the way to a pew inside the crowded sanctuary. Taking in the beauty of the church, my eyes rested on a statue of Jesus in agony on the cross. Tears streamed down his face. Blood poured from his side. It was a beautiful, yet horrible image.

As I gazed at Jesus' face, two words from the chanted pra…