Tony Hale on NPR’s Fresh Air

televisionI haven’t watched any of the shows that Tony Hale is in but after listening to his interview of NPR’s Fresh Air, I think I’ll check “Veep” out just to see him as an actor.

‘There’s A Reason Why I Play Anxious Characters,’ Says ‘Veep’ Actor Tony Hale

In the second half of the interview, his answers to Terry Gross’ questions weave his personal beliefs as a Christian into his profession. This man is a life-long Christian who is very articulate about what is important in life.

It’s 37 minutes long, and the questions about him personally are in the second half of the interview. Some examples are below:

On fame: “People look on it as the ultimate of being known. In reality, if you’re known by the people you love, that all you need. Fame is actually the opposite.”

On faith: “It’s everything to me…I’ve asked a lot of questions, “What does this mean?”… To know that a loving God is walking through with me is very comforting to me.”

On living in the moment: “I’d given so much weight to being on a sitcom, and when I was on “Arrested Development, I found it didn’t satisfy me…”

On prayer: “Being still with God, I don’t do that enough. When I do do it, I always walk away asking myself why I don’t do it more…I’ve been giving a lot of weight to things that just don’t matter.”

On anxiety: “Anxiety is a silent prison that we put ourselves in.”


Are you a top-heavy tree?

DUF4FAWKPDI used to have a tree that gave me fits. It was attractive, deep green, and nicely shaped with fragrant blossoms. Unfortunately, it had a bad habit. Whenever a strong wind blew, the tree leaned way over.

Its problem? It had weak roots. That top-heavy tree taught me a lesson: Strong roots stabilize growth.

If that’s true of trees, it’s certainly true of Christians. Roots support us against strong winds. That’s why Jesus said what He did about the plant that withered. It had a root problem (Mark 4:6). And remember Paul’s exhortation in Colossians 2:7? “Let your roots go down into him . . . . Then your faith will grow strong.” Strong roots stabilize growth.

The opposite is also true: weak roots threaten growth.

Chuck Swindoll told this story in a devotional book I’ve been reading. I read it again today in a fund-raising campaign for Insight for Living, a ministry that helps people in 195 countries put down roots in the soil of the gospel.

Question of the Day:

What kind of soil are you putting down roots in?


Interrupted Again!


stressed-646457_1280You’re on a roll checking items off your to-do list.

You hit the writer’s sweet spot—the words are pouring out of your mind through your fingers on the keyboard.

Dastardly Dan has tied Sweet Nell to the train tracks, and Dudley Do Right is trying desperately to beat the oncoming train to rescue her. His faithful horse stumbles and man and horse tumble head over heels…

You’re playing a timed game on your phone, and you just might beat your best score ever.

Your mind is totally focused and SOMEONE INTERRUPTS YOU!

It might be your toddler, a coworker, a customer, or a friend—they interrupt you, and for some strange reason they expect a civil answer.


My word for this year—the one that I’ve felt led by the Spirit to aspire to live by—is hesed. There’s no one word that can be  substituted for this Hebrew word describing enduring, selfless, undeserved love expressed in action. “What does that have to do with interruptions?” you might ask.

If I truly want to practice hesed, then I will choose to believe that God sent this intrusive person to me. I have been given an opportunity to set my self aside—and whatever is consuming me—to show focused love on this child, coworker, friend, or stranger, that God nudged my way.

And when I am frustrated by unfinished tasks, interrupted entertainment, intrusions in MY whatever, I need to count to ten and focus on hesed. It’s not always about me, my stuff, my task, my plan for the day… hesed turns my focus to others and their needs. God has his own plan for me, and I need to pay attention to it.


Thanks and forgiveness become key words that sit side-by-side with hesed.

I thank God for His priorities that superseded my own. I forgive others for their needs this day. And, hardest of all, I must forgive myself for unfinished tasks.

Sometimes it helps to change my vocabulary—interruptions become opportunities to practice hesed.

The arts: an antidote in the digital age

” Theater (slow, communal, physical) may be the cure for what ails us in the digital world.” ~Tracey Moore

iStock_000027103971featureThanks to my friend Ann Wilkinson for posting “Why Theater Majors Are Vital in the Digital Age” by Tracey Moore, published in The Chronicle of Higher Education on April 3, 2016.

Digital communication cannot take the place of face-to-face interaction. And today, that often needs to be taught.

I encourage you to read the whole article. Here are some teasers, all quoted from the article.

  • “Apparently nothing feels as good as the dopamine rush that floods our brains every time the phone “pings.” We are all of us, to a degree, nomophobic (the term coined to describe the anxiety that results from being without one’s phone).”
  • “A colleague tells a story about assigning a scene from a 1970s play in which one character waits on a park bench for some time. The actor was unable to conceive of any kind of “waiting” that did not involve having a cellphone to mitigate the boredom. She simply did not know what to do.”
  • “Solving a STEM equation is important, but discoveries in the sciences will occur only when people know how to be alone with their thoughts. Who is teaching that?”
  • “A colleague recently despaired because her students no longer understood the action “to flirt.” Accustomed to soliciting one another via text, and more used to hookups than dates, this verb was no longer a touchstone for college students, and “flirting” did not elicit any specific physical or emotional behaviors (sustained eye contact, light touch, smiling, playfulness) from the actors. When asked to flirt, they went straight to simulated sex. There was no in-between. Bottom line: Even though technology has become what we do all day, it isn’t human behavior.”

The above state a few of the problems. Read the whole article to see how theater, music, writing, etc. can do to offset our digital fixation.

Checking the P-Mail

menMagsA couple times a day I take my dog out to check her P-mail. Sometimes we’re in a hurry, and Maggie just does a quick overview with an occasional quick check into what is really there.

But once a day she likes to do a more thorough job. She still glances and dismisses at least 80% of the P-Mail in her inbox, but some things are just too interesting for only a cursory glance. She stops, plants her feet, and doesn’t move until she has investigated everything to her heart’s content.

Tonight I noticed that her methods were very similar to those I use to check my emails. I wonder if I can teach her to use the computer?

I just want to do what I do best-create!

Does it sometimes feel as if marketing is taking over your life?
Would you rather be creating than marketing?

Authors and artists today have to channel two different personalities: one of being creative and another of being an entrepreneur. This is as true for those with agents and publishers/galleries as it is for those who self-publish or act as their own sales staff.

  • You need a platform, an online presence that is current an engaging.
  • You need to do the work to remain in the public eye, remind people who you are and what your products are about.
  • You have to develop a marketing plan and then act on it each year so you can afford to keep creating.

I’m afraid there’s no way to make these M&Ms as delectable as those colorful tidbits filled with chocolate, but there are ways to sort them into  colors and indulge in the reds, greens, oranges, etc., one color at a time.

Creatives, I’m passing on la crème de la crème that I have gleaned from my experience and that of others in a monthly series called M&Ms for Creatives. I hope that these ideas inspire your own.

M&Ms for CREATIVES, Article 1
(Making & Marketing)

Logo-2inchSummer 2015. A fellow author and I were bemoaning the frustration of finding time, effort, and places to market our books. We decided to stop whining and share the burden by putting together a dual event at the coffee shop where we both do a lot of writing. At home my husband challenged me: “You’re thinking too small. Isn’t this true for artists as well, all creatives for that matter? If you’re going to take the time to plan an event, let’s plan one for all of you.”

PopUpShopAnd the seed was planted and gave birth to Artists & Authors on the Square, a Pop-Up Holiday Shop in Pella, Iowa during the Tourist Bureau’s Tour of Homes. Painters, up-scalers, authors of multiple genres, fiber artists, jewelers, and more held a 3-day sale in a downtown store during a local event this draws many tourists to town. My husband and I organized, found a storefront, communicated, shared money and tax info, and developed posters, mailers, social media, radio, newspaper articles, ads… Participants also pitched in according to their skill sets and also shared the information to all of their contacts.

Although we originally planned to measure the success of this event by the financial benefits and exposure, we also found another treasure—community. We all wanted to continue working together this way, supporting each other toward a common goal.


We are now in a 26-day countdown to our next communal event: a boutique-style store open 6 days a week during the month surrounding Pella’s Tulip Time Festival, an annual event that brings 150,000+ tourists to town in 3 days. The downtown area is also humming with activity for the weeks before and after Tulip Time, and we will be situated in the heart of it all.

The set-up is a little different and easier for us creatives, much like a consignment shop:

  • We have a full-time store manager who handles the cash register and mans the store.
  • Creative participants share the cost of the rental and pay a 20% commission on each item sold (plus the state sales tax).
  • Every item will be tagged by participant #, cost, and inventory # (optional). Tags will be taken at purchase and sorted. Report and tags will be given weekly/monthly.
  • Each creative participant will also put in 14 hours of volunteer work during the month in the store.
  • My part of the store will be a bookstore, which will keep the cost for each author at a minimum and I will volunteer the 14 hours. This means authors don’t have to be present for all of the hours of the event, but only come if they want to do a book signing event within the store.
  • The organizational group is doing marketing and planning. Participants doing set-up boutique style and act as re-stockers as items are sold during their volunteer hours.
  • We were joined by a few business-minded people who thrive on the details that make many of us creatives run the other way screaming.

We took the plunge with our first event, analyzed and tweaked ideas based on results, and planned our next event accordingly. Will we continue as a pop-up-shop during local events? Could this become a more permanent situation that includes a space for art classes, book clubs, and other creative endeavors? Time will tell.

What is overwhelming for one or two becomes manageable in community.


Obstacles Provoke Questions

You’ve chosen the “road less taken,” the straight-and-narrow highway, the path of Christ.

We set out on our journey and we meet blessings, giftings, opportunities, presence, anointing, power and authority…

taxi_trafficBut as you drive down life’s road, you also get snarled in the heavy traffic of tribulation, opposition, warfare, persecution and all kinds of obstacles. Is your response, like mine often is, “take all this trouble away!”

The obstacles can only be there with the permission of God, so when we encounter them , it’s time to pause and ask a few questions, such as “What is it I need to learn here?” and “How do I need to grow in You, Lord, to continue on the road you have laid out for me?”

People don’t change directions or expand their driving skills when the road is smooth and traffic is light; it takes pressure. People don’t change when they see the light, but when they feel the heat.

Barriers provoke questions, that provoke the Holy Spirit’s response of wisdom and growth, that bring us closer to God.


“I get to” is changing my life

Using the words get to instead of: have toneed to, ought to, really shouldis changing my attitude and my life.

photo_32728_20140712photo_1551_20060510It’s more than semantics
or a minor word change.
Catching myself and changing thoughts
and words to the phrase I get to
flips the switch on my
thoughts and attitudes.

Read these examples aloud:

  • I have to be home when my kids come home from school.
    I get to be home when my kids come home from school.
  • I really should take a walk today.
    I get to take a walk today.
  • I need to go home and wait for the repair man so my husband can run to McDonald’s for lunch.
    I get to go home and wait for the repair man so my husband can run to McDonald’s for lunch.
  • I ought to eat smaller portions at meals.
    I get to eat smaller portions at meals.

Did you read these sentence with different inflections? Different sounds?

Have toneed to, ought to, really should imply unwelcome duty, drudgery, and a lack of choice.

Get to implies willingness. You think, say, and do something because you choose it.

This tiny change has big results. Let’s expand on the examples:

  • I’m so fortunate to have this schedule. It means that I get to be home when my kids come home from school. I can see whether they had a good day or not, are really tired, or need some extra loving. It helps take the guess work out of determining the kind of parenting my children need each day.
  • I get to take a walk today—my endorphins will rise, I’ll be out in God’s creation, I’ll sleep better tonight, and my health will improve.
  • By cheerfully changing my plans to give my husband the lunch break he wants to have today, I get to speak to him in a love language that he understands and appreciates.
  • I get to eat smaller portions at meals. Having enough food is a privilege that many don’t have, but it can lead to using food as a means to comfort, reward,  or greed. By choosing smaller portions, I am acknowledging that the Holy Spirit lives in me and meets all my needs. (Boy, this one is a doozy to change!)

It seems ridiculous that such a small change can have a big impact, but what it does is bring awareness of habitual attitudes that creep in and fill your thoughts. It brings awareness of the attitude you are operating under. Changing one word allows you to play-act a different-than-usual role in routine situations, and gradually a more positive attitude will become the norm.

“I get to…”

Try it. You’ll like it.

A Variety of Gifts for the Common Good

1953 trip009My dad died over 20 years ago but for the last week he’s been on my mind.

We’d been hiking with children and grandchildren in the Colorado mountains. Growing up, my family’s favorite camping spots were in mountains. We loved to hike, and my dad was one enthusiastic trekker.

Back home, the  fond memories continued to come to mind as I was working at my computer in my favorite coffee shop.. Another regular stopped by my table to tell me her father was dying. We hugged, talked, and prayed together for God’s presence to be felt by all of her family in this tough situation.

Back to work with a small stone of sadness in my chest.

An hour later another friend stopped at my table with her new little red-headed daughter born just a few months ago.She told me that her father was undergoing tests to see if cancer had spread in spite of preventative measures. My eyes, full of tears of delight at this beautiful child, overflowed as I shared her pain. Her father lives close by and had been her go-to person for the 30+ years of her single life. Now, when he is delighting with her in her marriage and the birth of a precious grandchild, it looks like her father’s life may be shorter than they had hoped it would be.

The little stone in my chest grew to boulder size, and it hurt to breathe.

Bart1982But the Holy Spirit brought another memory of my father. Suffering from a aggressive brain tumor and no longer able to speak or show expression on his face, my dad was having a terrible evening.Was he in pain? Was he afraid? My mother and I had no way of knowing what his thrashing and moaning meant. We tried playing the music he loved, we tried pain medication, we tried a back rub, but he would have none of it. My mother is silently crying by the side of his bed when I come back from a conversation with our hospice nurse. I knelt by his bed and prayed for God to send His angels to comfort and reassure my father who was in great distress. Through my tears, I noticed that the room had grown quiet. My father was holding my mother’s hand and looking toward the end of the bed with a smile on his face. A smile! His face hadn’t changed expression for so long. I asked if he could see the angels, and his smile continued as he squeezed my mother’s hand.

That presence, the fact that God cares and is always right there, is what I could talk about with my friend. And we did.

At home working in the kitchen I played a home-made cassette that I had dug out and begun listening to earlier that morning. Something totally unexpected, and only vaguely remembered, was on that tape.

My father, my mother, and I singing in trio a song that my mother had written. The words  (from 1 Peter 4) go like this:

There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
There are varieties of service, but the same God;
There are varieties of working, but it is the same God
Who inspires them all in everyone for the common good.

I played this song over three times—at full volume—humming along with delight.

I had been prepared by those memories of my father so I could perform the service of listening with  empathy to those who were staring death in the face. I had been prepared to respond with the assurance that “God is our refuge and strength, a present help in times of trouble.”

And God again brought comfort for my flailing emotions. The boulder was lifted from my chest, and I could not only breathe easily, but smile with each intake of breath.

Bet you didn’t know this about extroverts…

Are you an extrovert or an introvert who lives with one?

This great blog hits it on the head:


Here are some truths about me that are listed in the above post:

  • One of my love languages (a way I feel loved) is words of affirmation. (See #2)
  • Even thought I talk a lot, I really want to know what you have to say. (See #3 & #7))
  • I’m an extrovert that needs time apart from people to regroup and figure out how I really feel about things. (#5)
  • I’d rather “go for it” and make mistakes than overthink something. (#8)
  • I like to have all the cards on the table. (#9)
  • I love to put people at ease so that we’re comfortable together. (#10)

People 2182Oh, and one more thing. I don’t want to mold introverts into extroverts; I’m just intrigued by what makes you tick. (#7)