Like Thanksgiving without the Turkey

by Patti Richter

Some memories stand out within the annals of holidays past—for better or worse reasons.

I recall my first Thanksgiving holiday away from home due to threatening weather. My college friend and housemate, Rhonda, could not drive the distance to join her family either. So we hatched a plan for our own little feast on Thursday—the very next day. We thought to invite a friend from our Bible study group who would otherwise be alone. Kirk surprised us in return, saying, “I could bring the turkey! My company just handed them out to all the employees.”

Kirk planned to come early and hang out with us while the turkey roasted. Meanwhile, Rhonda and I—novice cooks at best—planned to prepare some basic side dishes and a pumpkin pie to complete the traditional menu.

On Thanksgiving Day, we set the dining table with 1970s green and gold dishes as the fragrance of cinnamon wafted through the house. Kirk arrived, and with a pleased smile, he handed us a heavy bag containing the turkey—still in its wrapping and frozen solid!

Our little triangle of young adults, suddenly subdued, must have resembled those well-known TV characters: wide-eyed, disbelieving Lucy; disappointed, slump-shouldered Ethel; and poor old Fred, wishing the girls had given him better instructions.

The disappointment of missing that central dish of Thanksgiving gave way to an abundance of laughter for days. It further provided an enduring remembrance of a holiday, and it possibly served to sharpen each of our critical thinking skills.

Although I went on to better success in the kitchen, I still have instances where a meal goes wrong. It’s usually when I’m distracted. My oldest granddaughter recalls one of my mishaps and still teases me if she knows I’m preparing chicken casserole: “Don’t forget to add the chicken, Grandma!”

The main ingredient of most recipes is so obvious that we assume we’ll remember it. Thanksgiving can be this way too—not only concerning dinner items but regarding the reason behind the celebration. Neglecting to offer thanks to God on the occasion specifically dedicated to this purpose is something like forgetting to prepare the turkey.

A wayward culture attempts to redirect our Thanksgiving focus by urging appreciation for those who serve us. Romans 1:21 speaks of this departure from acknowledging our Creator: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (ESV). Even worse, we commonly hear public prayers addressed to departed loved ones instead of to God, in the name of the One who rose from the dead. Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25 ESV).

One way to keep a right focus at Thanksgiving is by thanking God each day, not just at mealtimes but at every opportunity. The apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” and “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4, 6 ESV).

Thanksgiving is one big opportunity to share our faith with families and friends through offering gratitude to our Provider. Let’s not forget this main ingredient.

O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth . . . You visit the earth and water it . . . You crown the year with your bounty. –Psalm 65:5, 9, 11 ESV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Does your family remember to thank God at Thanksgiving? Do you have a tradition on that to share?

Black Holes and God’s Rescue Plan

by Patti Richter

Midway Island is home to the albatross. Along with other birds, fish, and marine animals, these creatures are threatened by massive swirls of non-biodegradable refuse that collects in this area of the Pacific Ocean. Sadly, countless young albatrosses die on the island due to ingesting plastic.

That’s just one terrible consequence of garbage patches at sea; and most of us share the blame since we can’t seem to live without plastic. It’s everywhere.

Since man has stewardship of the earth, it’s hard to be optimistic about our pollution problem. Besides control and clean-up efforts, we can hope to find future uses of recyclable material—highways paved with microplastic asphalt maybe? But our trash issues go beyond land and sea.

A long trail of debris fills the earth’s orbit: broken satellites, spent rocket parts, and more space-age rubble. Just one Chinese anti-satellite weapon test added some 150,000 pieces to the not-so-heavenly junk pile. Scientists have considered using harpoons, nets, magnets, and other devices to tackle galactic clutter.

Further out in this galaxy there’s a black hole estimated to be more than four million times the size of our sun. By its strong gravitational pull, it traps celestial body parts within reach—possibly including fiery remains of collapsed stars.  

So, instead of thinking of black holes as big scary things, we could view them as God’s vacuum cleaners. Surely, like sharks and other things we want to avoid, they serve a useful purpose. According to scientists, black holes might serve to hold galaxies together.

Preserving the heavens and the earth is ultimately beyond man’s ability. The natural elements are God’s, after all, “created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16 NIV). Yet God showed his concern for man’s greater pollution problem—sin, which leads to eternal death. Like a black hole, sin is too strong for us to resist on our own.

God’s rescue plan for us is summed up in John 3:16-17 (NIV), “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… to save the world through him.” And this good news includes temporal help as well. The apostle Paul wrote, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11 NIV). In Christ, we’re “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).  

While we anticipate a new heaven and a new earth with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4 NIV), at present we live with the effects of sin everywhere—like plastic debris. And though the world’s morally toxic atmosphere works against our faith, God is faithful to provide all we need for godly living.

He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world. 2 Peter 1:4 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: How has God “cleaned up” your life?

Autumn Speaks

by Patti Richter

The pastor’s wife handed out pens and sheets of paper as she posed a question at our women’s gathering: “If you were a flower, what kind of flower would you be, and why?”

As a young mother, my answer came readily to mind. I wrote that I would choose to be a chrysanthemum. I filled a few lines to explain that I hoped to be a late bloomer since my life thus far seemed unremarkable. That for several years I’d been pursuing a double major in Household Management and Successful Parenting.

The brief writing exercise served to reveal my desire to make my life count in a greater measure than the limits of my small sphere of influence. It also exposed self-centeredness or pride at the root of my desire. I could have listed several personal aspirations, but each one seemed to grow from the same longing to excel at something—anything.

I knew other young mothers who suffered with this not-uncommon identity issue. Our early morning quiet time began with packing school lunches; our evening wind-down session featured folding clothes.

This yearning for significance is not limited to mothers. Young people, especially in today’s be-all-that-you-can-be culture, feel pushed to excel much earlier in life than in previous generations. The comparison component has expanded along with the size of television screens over the years. And most of us can’t compete.

Even so, worldly wisdom advises us to shoot for the stars. And we’ve heard enough success stories to validate this whole-hearted pursuit of a dream. Yet Jesus taught us a better way, and his instructions won’t lead to the disappointment that can arrive on the vapor trails of unfulfilled goals.

Jesus told his followers not to be anxious about life, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 ESV).

This higher order of priorities yields a healthy perspective for us. We might go to bed at night having missed our workout at the gym, but we delivered a meal to a sick church member. Our vacation plans fizzled out, but we finally attended disaster relief training. Our heart is at peace knowing that it pleases God to serve the needs of others.

Our “summer” of opportunities may be over: the college degree we never earned; the house we never built; the career move we never made. Some seasons of life do not deliver the expected goods, and our soul may languish like stringy petunias and spent daylilies.

However, God does not forget us; the Master Gardner has a plan. Autumn is coming. We can look for the swell of chrysanthemum buds to anticipate days of glory. Just as surely, good things lie ahead: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 ESV).

As we learn to wait on God and bask in his goodness, a transcendent joy brightens our outlook as if we’ve opened a window on a brilliant fall day.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. –Romans 11:36 ESV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Are you a late bloomer?

Beholding Wonders

by Patti Richter

Our daughter hoped to have a car at college in her sophomore year. But a 1300-mile trip from Texas to California in the August heat seemed risky. Instead, my husband and I decided she should fly back to school, and we would drive the car to her when the temperatures moderated.

This delivery plan could serve as both a vacation and a visit to our daughter. I looked forward to the long road trip since we had never travelled in that direction. Scenic vistas—more wonderful than I imagined—lay ahead.

When fall arrived, we left early one morning for our journey across the deserts of the Southwest. By evening we were halfway to California but still in Texas! The sheer expanse of our state’s mostly uninhabited western region struck me as incredible. As a child I had been afraid that the earth would run out of places to bury its dead. Seeing this vast open space reminded me, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1 ESV). The emptiness thereof, too!

The next day we realized that far West Texas runs along New Mexico’s southern border, so we had entered this state at its center. The Organ Mountains greeted us that morning with their needle-like peaks that resemble organ pipes. These mountains were not so far behind us when we crossed into southern Arizona—before lunchtime! Such progress amazed me after the previous day spent trudging through just one region of Texas.

Dry desert air yielded an undiluted sky. The azure blue color stood in brilliant contrast to autumn-tinged grasses and wildflowers. But at one point, something else captured our attention. We began to see massive rocks in random positions—as if they had grown in the soil among the yucca and cacti. Mile after mile we marveled at boulders that appeared so out of place on the desert floor, and I wondered if God had tossed them over His shoulder after carving out a distant canyon.

By the time we traversed the hills that ushered us into California my wonder cup was full. And I realized we might never have enjoyed such panoramic views if circumstances had not pushed us in this direction. I further considered that so many natural wonders of the world have existed through the ages, yet most people will never see them.

Consumed by common pursuits, we miss the extraordinary ones. We might visit spectacular places if we set our minds to it—if strength, ability, and finances will support our adventures.

Years after that desert crossing, I have made little progress in seeing the world or even much of America. However, as a follower of Jesus, I have not missed out in beholding wonders.

Through Christ, despite any lack of strength, ability, or resources, we behold “the image of the invisible God… For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:15, 19 ESV). Through Him we have access to an undiluted view of God that will grow sharper as we grow closer. And our journey will never end.

God’s mystery… is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3 ESV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What spectacular places have you visited?

Living Faithfully—Not Fearfully

by Patti Richter

Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

A lot of students take their educational opportunities seriously. Since I was not one of those, I’ve spent a lifetime making up for my losses.

A world atlas catches my attention as I pass a certain bookshelf. I throw it open to survey the Caspian Sea. Ten minutes later, I realize this geographical excursion is either a distraction or procrastination—the same foibles that tripped me up as a student during the Nixon administration.

Whether we are young or old, an ocean of diversions might keep us from better pursuits. Add to this the common fear of failure, which tempts us to either abandon our goals or at least put them off.

I felt doomed to failure last year after my husband and I moved to a home on two acres. While Jim took the larger responsibility for the yard and wooded areas, the half-dozen gardens fell to my care.

The previous homeowner wielded a gold-rimmed green thumb, but I am fuzzy about annuals versus perennials and ornamental grasses versus weeds. Worse, there are snakes around—probably some good ones, but I don’t know my snakes either.

Gardens, however, make no pretense; they are either cared for or they are not. I am happy to say that mine, while not up for any awards, look commendable due to my proactive measures to avoid the dreaded alternative: FAIL.

First, I found that simply reading about plants and weeds helps me approach these gardens with more confidence. And reading about the distinguishing patterns and behaviors of snakes reduces my fear to a healthy—albeit cautious—level.

I water early in the day to help plants withstand heat and wind. I observe their various moisture needs and replenish accordingly. While there, I spend a few minutes snipping dead flowers and pulling weeds that threaten a takeover.

I put on gloves and knee boots to protect myself from poisonous weeds or creatures lurking under cover. And wearing glasses keeps me from mistaking a snake for a stick.

I find that tending a garden is like nurturing my spirit, which benefits from similar treatment. If our hearts are weary or dry, some simple measures will nourish us:

  • Faithfully reading God’s Word informs and reminds us of his truth, which dispels any wrong thinking. Knowing more about God helps us approach him with confidence.
  • Seeking God each day strengthens us against whatever may come. Praying about any need fills a thirsty soul with hope in God’s faithful supply. And snipping any angry or bitter thoughts relieves a burdened mind.
  • Putting on “the whole armor of God,” clothed in the salvation and righteousness that comes through faith in Christ, we can withstand “the schemes of the devil” and “spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:11-17 ESV).

Whether in an ivory tower or working in dirt, at home or at work, we should not be confident in ourselves. Towers collapse and ditches cave in. We can trip on our own dining room carpet and strike our head on the woodwork (as I did recently). “Look carefully then how you walk… making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15 ESV).

But living carefully is not the whole story. There is pleasure in the fragrance of flowers, in gathering them, and in giving them away. We will likewise find joy in God as we walk in his ways and share his love. Better, when the flowers of this world fade away, we will behold a heavenly garden: “the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7 ESV).

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What do you do to nurture your spirit?

Confidence in God: A Tick Tale

by Patti Richter

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1 NLT

My adolescent niece sat cross-legged atop her grandparents’ kitchen counter. Head down and fists clenched to pull her thick hair forward, Alana tried to remain still while my father worked to remove a large tick burrowed into the back of her skull.

Dad straightened up and wiped away the beads of sweat from his forehead. The parasite, however, remained unmoved by his efforts, which included the old-school remedies of a freshly extinguished match stick and a pair of metal tweezers.             

I stood across the room that day as a quiet spectator, hoping my two young children would stay out of the way. They peered around the corner of the brick fireplace to check on their cousin, perhaps wondering if ticks had also invaded their heads while playing tag around their grandparents’ oak trees the night before.

Having raised six children, my father had experience in extracting ticks. My siblings and I all believed he could fix anything, maybe even save a sinking boat with duct tape like the suggested image on a greeting card I once gave him.

But this time I grew conflicted about Dad’s sufficiency, as I sensed that we should pause to ask for God’s help. I knew my father might not welcome the suggestion.

At that time, decades ago now, my father viewed verbal prayers as strictly for the dinner table or during responsive readings at church. After I’d become a born-again Christian some years before, I tried to discuss my faith with Dad—without success. I learned to avoid such conversations with him.

The guidance of the Holy Spirit had been a great blessing to me, and God had shown me his power and love on so many occasions. However, I was slow at learning to share my faith effectively, especially with family members.

Now, as I watched my niece’s growing distress, I wanted to boldly call on the Lord. But Dad wasn’t my only concern; young eyes were also watching. What if God didn’t answer my prayer?

When Alana suddenly cried out, my father stepped back in frustration. And I stepped up.

“Dad, I think we should pray.”

He turned his head toward me with a look of exasperation and replied, “Go ahead.”

I closed my eyes and uttered a short plea to God, something like, “Creator of all creatures, please command the tick to let go, in Jesus’ name.”

With hardly a pause and without an Amen, Dad grabbed the tweezers and bent over Alana’s head to try again. Then he abruptly straightened up and held the tweezers high to view the tick—alive and kicking.

My father passed away last year, and I never asked him if God’s very present help that day strengthened his faith; I only know it boosted my own confidence in God. But I can also report that Dad eventually came to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ, and he was happy to talk about it!

To you who believe in the Son of God…. We can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for. 1 John 5:13-15 NLT

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Has God answered a prayer like that for you? Please share!

Fractures, Fault Lines, and a Firm Foundation

by Patti Richter

The azalea bushes reached their peak of bloom the week a realtor planted her “For Sale” sign in our yard. The house shouted “ready,” too, since we’d spent weeks preparing for our move to another home only miles away. Perfect timing—we thought.

After driving boxes of kitchen items to the other house, I returned to find a long truck parked out front with a load of steel poles like you might expect to see at a commercial construction site. I assumed the driver had business at a neighbor’s house until I entered my kitchen and noticed men in my backyard holding poles in an upright position.

“We’re doing soil samples,” the supervisor said matter-of-factly. “We’ll have results for you in a few weeks, but we’ve already found a crack in your foundation.” My husband and I soon realized the slight separation of the kitchen flooring we’d reported to a warranty office wasn’t normal. The lines matched the foundation crack the azalea bushes had concealed.

Ignoring cracks is never a good idea, whether it’s the handle of our favorite coffee cup or the bridge over a river.

The I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River was shut down after a crack was discovered. Since my upcoming travel plan included that route, I viewed drone images of the severely cracked steel beam. Then I looked at file images of the same span taken in the last two annual inspections. The obvious fracture had gone unnoticed all that time until a more attentive inspection team prevented a disaster.

Those physical cracks, while disconcerting, can be repaired. The builder of our neighborhood paid for the days of work to repair our foundation (warranty provided; house sold). The I-40 bridge repair would require months—and a great sum of money.

Repairing cracks in a nation’s foundational principles is more complex. In this country we debate issues according to our vastly divergent world views—secular, biblical, or other. We are chasms apart so that nothing much gets resolved. This growing social divide, like fault lines beneath the earth’s surface, leads to upheaval, especially during times of stress.

The apostle Paul wrote that all of creation has been groaning in “its bondage to decay” (Romans 8:21-22 NIV). Hatred, strife, and willful rebellion against the Creator are increasing. Believers may well be groaning as societal opinion shifts and institutions cast aside traditional religious beliefs viewed as narrow and archaic. We sometimes feel as if we’ve entered a foreign land.

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3 NIV).

Followers of Jesus Christ, made righteous by his work and not our own, should acknowledge that God is at work among all nations and people. We could study the life of Daniel for his example of courage and faithfulness though immersed in a spiritually lost culture. As a Jewish captive in ancient Babylon, Daniel refused to bow down to idolatrous dictates. Throughout the reigns of several kings he served, Daniel saw God’s manifested power at work.

In these confusing times, we should pray fervently like Daniel. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God” (Daniel 6:10 NIV). While we’re there, we might also, like Daniel, repent. By attending to our own faults, we may see God’s mighty hand at work in our days.

All this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. Daniel 9:13 NIV


This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What signs of fracture do you see in the world around you?

On Earth and in Heaven—Hurray for Fatherhood

by Patti Richter

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. –Ephesians 6:4 ESV

My husband has been known to pull out a thick leather belt to warn misbehaving grandchildren. The kids, with wide eyes and open mouths, freeze in place for a few seconds before breaking into relieved smiles. They realize their Grandpa is all bark and no bite.

Jim is not the sentimental father and grandfather of greeting card commercials. Nor has he ever been the crude, clueless, or cowardly man portrayed in too many sit-coms and greeting cards. My husband and I were both raised with a firmer hand than our culture now approves. And our children—back in their young days—occasionally felt the sting of their father’s physical discipline. That firm approach instilled a healthy respect for authority.

Hooray for traditional fathers.

Today’s dad is typically more involved with his children, beginning with changing diapers—a task men rarely expected in the days of cloth diapers and pins. The current breed of fathers might prepare a meal with their kids or drive them to school and soccer practice. They navigate territories once mostly exclusive to moms. But when it comes to child discipline, modern fathers have a less hands-on approach. The average dad tends to show more mercy to his little ones: a time-out instead of a wooden paddle.

Hooray for contemporary fathers.

Even the best of fathers, like mothers, can flourish in one area of parenting but flounder in another. However, as men, they bring a unique quality to childrearing since, in general, they are stronger and more courageous than women. It’s more likely to be Dad rather than Mom who moves the washing machine to look for the snake that raced into the laundry room (personal experience here).   

Fathers offer their children a male perspective that balances a woman’s different way of seeing and reacting to circumstances. Yet masculinity has taken hits in the past decades. It’s not enough to satisfy the more progressive among us if Dad merely fills in for Mom when needed; the social order now expects that parenting roles should be equal and interchangeable.

Fathers bear the title and, by nature, the characteristics of our Father in Heaven—provider and protector. So many of the ills in our world are connected to the absence of fathers in the home. The importance of their role is sadly illustrated by the lament of prison chaplains: inmates annually request Mother’s Day cards to send but show little need for Father’s Day cards.

Though earthly fathers sometimes fail their children, our heavenly Father offers love, discipline, and mercy to those who by Christ “receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5 ESV). Both the fatherless and the less fathered of this world will share alike in our Father’s glorious inheritance.

Hooray for the Perfect Father.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. 1 John 3:1 ESV


This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What do you appreciate about your father?

The Immeasurable Power of a Story

by Patti Richter

The phone rang as I sat proofreading articles in the office of a monthly publication in South Texas. I was alone in the office—in the right seat at the right time.

Martha Fanning, the wife of a locally well-known pastor, was calling to find a writer for an unpublished personal story she had shared at women’s gatherings for years. With the editor’s permission, I began to write about the season Mrs. Fanning endured bedrest due to a back problem.

Martha explained to me that she had felt desperate one day, wishing for a quick recovery in order to resume responsibilities for her children and church. She admitted asking the Lord if he had even heard her prayers. But after making that plea to God, Martha gazed out her bedroom window to the backyard, and she saw what looked like a fallen bird’s nest.  

Martha said she got out of bed that day feeling “unreasonably compelled” to go outside. Finding the empty bird’s nest, she disregarded her weakness and bent to pick it up. Having never held a bird’s nest, she admired the meticulously woven branches. Then, in amazement, she noticed a piece of paper pecked down to line the nest. Feeling again compelled, she gently pulled out the bit of paper, “strangely hoping it might hold meaningful words.” Martha was further amazed that the tiny piece of newsprint with burnt edges—”likely from our own chimney”—contained a prayer published by the Dallas Morning News.

The lines of the poem titled “Air Prayer,” by Julien C. Hyer, remained mostly legible:

Dear Lord, across expanse of sky, as now I set me out to fly,

I pray that Thou will be with me, that I may in Thy keeping be.

And may I feel Thy presence near. And if at anytime I fear,

let me [remember] to trust in Thee to [care] for my dear family…

Martha believed those lines were a clear message from God—”and so fitting for a bird!” The prayer made her recall Jesus saying, “Your Father” knows about every sparrow that falls… “So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him” (Matthew 10:29, 31 NLT).

The article I wrote for Mrs. Fanning, “Message in a Bird’s Nest,” was published years before Internet and social-media sharing opportunities. Even so, we received feedback from readers who’d needed an assurance of God’s love.

One woman wrote of the anguish she’d faced before her son’s East Coast graduation. She couldn’t drive the distance yet feared flying. Mrs. Fanning’s story encouraged her to pray for heavenly help. Afterward, she decided to fly and take the “Air Prayer” with her. Flying and attending the event “seemed like a miracle,” she wrote.

Another woman, recently widowed, had been unable to erase distressing images of her husband before his death. The bird’s nest story led her to ask God for comfort. Afterward, she felt inspired to clean out a disorganized kitchen drawer, where she unearthed an unmarked and never viewed video. Instead of tossing it into the trash, she popped it into her VCR. Her husband, healthy and smiling in the days before his illness, filled the screen, “like a visitor from beyond the grave.” He appeared exactly the way she wanted to remember him.

The Lord used Mrs. Fanning’s bird’s nest article—the first article I’d ever written—to show me the power of sharing faith stories.  

And I suppose that if all the other things Jesus did were written down, the whole world could not contain the books. John 21:25 NLT


This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Has someone else’s story positively influenced you?

Recovering Lost Treasure

 by Patti Richter

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:40 ESV

I opened the small box to find a ring with a small, round ruby—my birthstone. How did my grandparents know I’d wished for a ring with real gold instead of the cheap dime-store jewelry I wore? Maybe they had noticed the greenish stain on my ring finger.

As a ten-year-old, I cherished the gift chosen just for me. I wore it like an engagement ring and never wanted to take it off. Until one summer day.

I had walked a few blocks from my home to the community swimming lake. After laying out my beach towel in a grassy area, I headed to the water but then paused to consider my ring. What if it should slip off in the dark water? I turned back to remove my bit of treasure and tucked it inside the folded corner of my towel next to the coins I’d brought for a vending machine snack.

After swimming, I saw that someone must have run across my towel, which scattered the coins all around. My ring! With a pounding heart, I searched the area, dredging my fingers through the thick grass. Heartbroken, I had to give up the search and return home without it.

As the summer passed, I desperately wanted to recover my ruby ring. Every time I went to the lake, I checked that same grassy area in vain and wondered if someone else had found the ring or if it remained hidden in the ground. I never wanted to replace it.

Over the years I’ve lost more valuable treasures—irreplaceable family members and friends. Some of them departed suddenly, like my ring, and none of my tears could bring them back. With each loss I would think of my loved one now safe in God’s keeping though perhaps asleep in the earth.

God’s Word informs and comforts us in these times so that we hope to regain those we’ve lost. The One who knows the whereabouts of his possessions will gather us all, and we will enjoy him and one another forever.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…. The dead will be raised imperishable. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ESV


This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What has been your most difficult loss?