Sunday

Making Ron -- A Tribute

Last Saturday my husband and I attended a memorial service honoring Ron Shick, one of the finest men we've ever known. As I reflected over his life and his impact on ours, I asked the Lord to give me the words to somehow describe all that Ron was. This is what He gave me.

Making Ron


“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139: 13-16). 

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). 


The God of Heaven and Earth thought a moment. More than a moment, really. 

“You’re thinking awfully hard,” God the Son said to God the Father. 

“This is an important assignment,” God said. “I want to get it just right.” 

“Why don’t you tell us about it?” Jesus said. “Then the Spirit and I can help you.” 

“Well,” said God the Father, “It’s not a very long assignment – not quite 68 years – most want longer. The work is hard. There’s little recognition. No applause. A lot of manual labor – and you know how hard it is to find skilled craftsmen these days.” 

 “And the people he’ll be working with – some are poor – really poor. Others are deceived, and they don’t even know it. Still others are weary, disillusioned, or confused. Some of ‘em, I have to admit, are just plain hard-headed. It’s going to be discouraging sometimes. 

“The pay is nominal – enough to live on, but that’s about it. This guy will never drive a fancy car or live in a big house. But the assignment does have a really good retirement plan – heavenly, you could say. 

“I think we can do it,” Jesus said, and the Spirit nodded. 

“OK then,” God the Father said. “Let’s go for it.” 

“He’s got to be big,” Jesus said. “Big enough to put a roof on a church or reach tall stuff without a stool.” 

“But he’s got to be quiet and soft-spoken,” the Holy Spirit said, “because sometimes big people are scary, and we can’t have him frightening people away.” 

“Oh, don’t worry,” Jesus said, “I’ve already thought about that. I’ve designed the biggest, widest smile for his face. And bright blue eyes, and ears that stick out just a little. No way anyone would be frightened by this guy.” 

“Let’s give him big strong hands, too,” God the Father said, “big enough to swing a hammer or fix a machine – but gentle enough to hold children and grandchildren.” 


“We’re gonna give him kids and grandkids? Five boys and a girl? We’d better make him awfully patient. No, he needs more than patience – let’s make him long-suffering.” 

“What about his heart?” Jesus said. “You know what he’ll be doing. Loving the least of these. Serving those who might not appreciate him. Staying faithful to his wife, his family, and his calling.” 

“Better make that big too,” God said. “Really big.” 

“Back to the hand thing,” the Holy Spirit said. “With all he’s going to do, I don’t think two hands will be enough.” 

They thought a moment, then decided that since they were God, they could break a rule or two if needed. 

“Two right hands?” God said. 

“Two right hands.” 

“Well the second right hand can’t hang from the end of his arm,” God said. “That would be too weird. Then we’re back to scary again. Let’s make it look different. And not necessarily attached to his body. Let’s fix it so that it comes alongside him whenever he needs it. Supports him. And knows just what to do to help. He’ll be able to do so much more with this right hand than he ever could by himself. He’s gonna love it.” 

“Great idea,” Jesus said. “What’ll we call it?” 

“Let’s call it Linnea,” the Holy Spirit said. And all the Godhead agreed. 

“We haven’t talked about the most important thing,” God said. “What about his soul?” 

“Remember those children I mentioned?” the Holy Spirit said. “I’m going to use one of them to help him understand the Father heart of God. I’ll use the other to help him realize how much he needs us in his life. It’s going to look scary for a short time, ‘cause the little fella’s going to get sick, but it won’t take the man long to surrender his life to Jesus. Once he does, he’ll never stop telling everyone about it. 

“You’re going to use a little baby to bring someone to Christ?” God said. “Well, it seems appropriate. After all, you’re the one who said, ‘. . . and a little child shall lead them.’” 

“Good point. I love it when you remind me of my Words.” 

“Now, where are we gonna send this guy?” the Holy Spirit asked. “Washington? Atlanta? Dallas?” 

“Ridgway.” 

“Ridgway? As in Pennsylvania? That’s in the middle of nowhere.” 

“Yup, that’s my plan. He’ll grow up on a farm and serve in the army. That’ll make him humble. Then he’ll come back home and start his family. Once he commits his life to Christ, I’ll send him to Haiti.” 

“Haiti?” 

“Haiti.” 

“It’s a good thing you gave him a big heart,” the Holy Spirit said. “And a strong back. And a humble spirit. You know, not many people want to go to Haiti. And if they go, they seldom go back. How long are you going to use him there?” 

“For decades.” 

“Decades? Wow.” 

“Anything else?” 

“Yup. In between taking a wife, raising a family, working a full time job, and ministering in Haiti, he’s also going to help in church – four or five churches, actually. Youth pastor, lay leader, Sunday school teacher, deacon . . . “ 

“Is that all?”

“Nope.” “Good heavens. What else?” 


David and me with Linnea, Ron, and their first grandchild
“We’re gonna make him the best friend a person can have. Sacrificial, loyal, generous, and fun.” 

“That’s a tall order, but I think we can do it. When do we get started?” 

And that’s what God did. 

On September 5, 1949, Ron Shick was born. Loving husband and father, devoted grandfather, World Team missionary, tool and die maker, lay leader, Bible study teacher, and friend to everyone he met. 


On July 30, 2017, he completed his assignment. Every bit of it. 

And "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!’”


We love you, Ron. Until we meet again . . . 

To read more about Ron Shick, CLICK HERE.

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Wednesday

It's OK to Cry



Have you ever felt so disappointed you wanted to cry? 

I have. Not too long ago, in fact. 


No one had hurt my feelings. No one had sinned against me. No one had failed to deliver on a promise. But quicker than you could say, “Don’t look now,” circumstances took a turn for the worse, and the hopes I had slipped away like a diamond earring down the drain. 

And no amount of plumbing intervention could bring them back. 

So I did what any self-respecting woman would do – I cried. Big, fat, slobbery tears. Noisy, wimpery tears. Pitiful, sad, tears. 

And in the middle of my meltdown, the part of my brain that thinks instead of feels had the nerve to interrupt. 

“You know,” Thinker the Theologian said. “All things work together for God to those who love God and are called according to his purposes.” 

“I know,” my blubbering self said. 

“And you know,” she continued, “there’s probably a really good reason this didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped.” 

“Uh huh,” I sniffled. 

“And furthermore, you can’t get mad, because it’s not really anyone’s fault. It’s just unfortunate.” 

“I know,” I said. “I know all those things. I know God has a greater plan. I know I can trust him with what I don’t understand. I know he can accomplish good from this. And I KNOW HE STILL LOVES ME . . . . This isn’t a crisis of belief. I’m just sad and disappointed right now, OK? So if you could just save the Truth until I’m done, I’ll be glad to listen. But for right now, I just need to cry a little more.” 


And Thinker the Theologian, in all her wisdom, nodded her Scripture-filled head, wrapped her arms around me, and handed me a Kleenex. 

“Blow,” she said, and I did. 

 If you’ve had a disappointment, or maybe you feel like life’s been just one long disappointment, it’s OK to cry now and then. Tears don’t make you any less spiritual. In fact, I think they might even make us a little more like Jesus. 

“. . . And Jesus wept” (John 11:35). 

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8 NLT).










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Sunday

5 Things to Remember When You're Going through a Trial -- Comfort from the Book of Job

Last year at this time, life looked a lot different. 


My husband had lost his job of 17 years and had been unemployed for months. As one job prospect after another vanished like cookies in a room full of teenagers, he grew discouraged, and so did I. He trained for one position almost all summer only to see it withdrawn at the last minute. 

Every No response or closed door just added to his fear that he’d be unemployed forever. To add sorrow upon sorrow, the one year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death was looming. Grief threatened to overwhelm us.

One morning I opened my Bible early in the hopes God would encourage us. I read Job 5:8-15, and I wasn’t disappointed. God spoke to me. A good word of encouragement during these times of mourning the loss of family members and David’s job, I wrote in the margin of my Bible. 

If you can identify with where we were a year ago, I have hope for you. Here are five truths from the book of Job that helped me through those dark times: 


1. We can talk to God about our troubles. 
He never grows weary of our prayers or pleas for help. "But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him,” Job 5:8 says.

 2. God has the power to work in your situation for your good and his glory. 
“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside. The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. 

3. If evil people or wicked schemes are the cause of our distress, God sees this, too. 
In his time, he will right all wrongs and come to your defense. He will not leave the guilty unpunished, either in this life or the next. 

“He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night. He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.” 

4. God can use our time of distress to purify and strengthen us if we let him. 
He’ll teach us things about himself we could never learn otherwise. He’ll grow our faith and give us many opportunities to witness for him. "Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” 

5. Life won’t be like this forever. 
In the darkest times or our distress, we think it will never get any better. But we cannot lose hope. God will deliver us. Scripture is replete with examples of how God delivered his people out of impossible situations. In just the right way. At just the right time. 

“For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.” 

Today, a year later, we're living a very different reality. My husband will soon celebrate his first anniversary working at a job he loves. We’re looking forward to welcoming a new grandchild into our family, and our lives are full of the goodness of God. 

If you’re in the waiting time, the time in between faith and sight, I hope these verses from Job have encouraged you. Spend some time thinking on them. Claim their promises. Choose to believe God’s Word even when circumstances tempt you to doubt. And hold on. 

 “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). 

Now it’s your turn. What verses bring you the most comfort when you’re struggling? Leave a comment below and bless us all.



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Thursday

Easter in August - A Biblical Perspective on the August 21st Solar Eclipse

It's my pleasure to welcome guest blogger Gloria Barrett to Hungry for God. Gloria is a soon-to-be empty nester stepping back into writing as her last son transitions out of homeschooling and into college. When I read her beautiful, lyrical description of the coming solar phenomenon, I knew I wanted to share it here. Enjoy!


What is more welcome than a bit of shade on a blistering August afternoon? With the mercury often swelling into triple digits, shade is especially desirable here in the South. It’s frequently sought under porches, umbrellas, or moss draped oaks. But on August 21st, relief from the heat won’t come in a soft southern manner. It will pour down in biblical proportions. 


The Midlands of South Carolina will plunge into full darkness at 2:43pm for two minutes and 34 seconds, give or take a few, depending on exact location. The moon’s shadow will roll across the Palmetto state from the Blue Ridge to the Atlantic during a rare solar eclipse. 

Only those along the center line of the round shadow will experience the full solar eclipse for the greatest amount of time. To experienced stargazers, these extra seconds matter. 

Being in the center of the shadow will only be part of the plan, though. Weather can be a game-changer. Rain or heavy cloud cover will spoil the show. Clear skies will be best, but cirrus clouds will scatter with the cooling temperatures. A dismal forecast will no doubt clog the interstates with travelers gravitating toward the best skies of the day. 

While the main event will be happening overhead, a wide panoramic view will also delight. A spectacular show awaits in either direction, mimicking sunsets and sunrises in places they don’t belong. 

Thanks to all the information spilling forth from NASA, the Columbia area may experience a population increase usually reserved for the coast. After all, the 68-mile wide shadow won’t fall on most of the state, much less the rest of the eastern seaboard. 

People will gather in ballparks, stadiums, and open fields, on roof-tops, hilltops, and lakes, particularly Lake Murray. In addition to special protective eye wear, spectators will be wise to remember their customary summer defenses: sunscreen, hats, and bug spray. 

A rare and unnatural, yet predictable occurrence such as this defies adequate description. C.A. Young’s recount of the 1869 eclipse – which also took place on an August afternoon – stirs anticipation. “…the gradual darkening, the unnatural tints that discolor the landscape, the coming of the shadow, the fright of the birds and beasts and their sudden flight, and then, all at once, the instant blackening of the sky and the outburst of stars and the corona radiating out from behind the Moon as a sort of silvery star in a sky perfectly calm and unchangeable, and the ruby gems that stud the disc of the Moon; and then, after it is over, the sudden flash of light from the Sun - all these things, I say, taken together, constitute something which one who has seen it could never possibly forget.” 


As the moon sneaks along unseen, beginning to hinder the rays of the sun, the searing heat will suddenly give way to breezy spring-like air. Nature will respond. Crickets will usher in a glorious mid-day nightfall. Owls will begin to stir, while Whippoorwills hush. When the moment of totality arrives, a black circle will pierce the eerie night sky, an empty tomb with the stone rolled back. 

Reminiscent of the darkness that hung with Jesus on the cross from noon until 3 p.m., this current day’s darkness will illuminate the Lord’s hand in this world. The creator has choreographed this celestial dance for three—the sun, moon, and earth—each powerless in their roles. Likewise, shaded spectators will be able to do nothing more than gawk, stunned with smallness. 

How marvelous that God would, in the beginning, set these spheres into place so their paths would intersect in such beauty. As the sun emerges, roosters will crow, recalling Peter’s guilt which is not his alone. Hearts will rejoice in the knowledge of Christ’s resurrection. With renewed hope, believers will long for the eternal city which beckons to the hearts of mankind far more than a repeat performance of totality. 

“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there” (Rev. 23-25). 

May the message of Easter resonate in your hearts as you witness this celestial experience. 




Gloria Barrett’s official entry into the empty nest phase coincides with this year’s solar eclipse. On August 21 her youngest son will partake in the Clemson University new student convocation. She’s a graduate of Converse College, has three children, and resides in Lexington.








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Wednesday

7 Steps to a Happy Life


Everyone wants a happy life. Few know how to have one.

A recent Google search for How to Live a Happy Life turned up a list that included these suggestions: 
Fake it ‘til you feel it, buy some happiness, and realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Wow. Add Jump off a bridge and end it all and the list will be complete.

Thankfully, when I dug a little deeper, I discovered the writer was using some clever literary techniques to make her point, and her article wasn’t as depressing as the initial list has led me to believe. 

My search also discovered Tom Casano’s article, 15 Simple Ways to Live a Happy Life, in the Huffington Post. In contrast to my first impression of the first list, his suggestions were very uplifting, probably because many of them were biblically based. Help others, be thankful, and share are a few of his suggestions. 

The best list, however, is harder to find in a search engine. If you type 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 into your browser, however, it will pop up. 

Would you like to read God’s 7-step prescription for how to live a happy life? Here it is:

1. Rejoice always! 

Writers are taught to use exclamation points sparingly, reserving them for only the most enthusiastic exclamations. Any editor in town, however, would agree that this two-word sentence that includes the root word JOY should most certainly end in an exclamation point. 

Rejoicing always includes celebrating the simple things, greeting everyone with a smile, and letting nothing good go unnoticed. 

2. Pray constantly. 

The only way to navigate this troubled world with joy is to maintain constant communication with its Creator. Like a phone call we never hang up on, communication should flow between us and our Savior all day long. This is possible because of our relationship with Jesus, “because he always lives to intercede for (us)” (Hebrews 7:25). When we bring every need, fear, and hope to God through prayer, we walk with a lighter step, because we’ve transferred the load onto Jesus’ broad shoulders. 

3. Give thanks in everything. 

The ability to give thanks in everything begins with the firm confidence that God is working all things out for our good and his glory. When we encounter a situation that seems to be less than God’s ideal, we wait and watch in simple trust. 

As Jennifer Kennedy Dean, author of Live a Praying Life, says, 

 “When you are in a situation that has an outcome that seems not to be according to God’s will, wait to see what happens next. The story is not over. That circumstance will set the stage for the next event, which will lay the foundation for the next step, which will open the door for the next piece of the plan, and on and on. Finally, you will look back from a place in your life that is ‘immeasureably more than all (you) ask or imagine’ (Eph. 3:20), and you will say, ‘I could not be here if I’d never been there.’” 

Giving thanks in everything is an expression of trust, even when we don’t see God’s hand at work in our lives. 

4. Don’t stifle the Spirit. 

Romans 8:11 tells us that when we place our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. As our constant companion, he convicts us of sin and of righteousness (John 16:8). Through his still, small voice, he points us toward the good and warns us away from the bad. 

Sadly, it’s possible to quench, grieve, or stifle the Spirit’s voice. Repeatedly ignoring or arguing with his promptings makes it harder to hear him. Filling our minds with worldly philosophies while neglecting God’s word makes it more difficult to discern truth. Finally, disobeying the Holy Spirit when he nudges you to do a kind act or say a kind word stifles his ability to work through you for good in the world. 


5. Don’t despise prophecies, (but test all things). 

The Bible definition of prophecy (and its verb, to prophesy) is two fold: it means to foretell as in to reveal a future event, and it means to forthtell, as in to provide biblical instruction. This verse specifically encourages us not to despise the forthtelling of God’s word. 

In other words, don’t take preaching and teaching lightly. Don’t think you’re above instruction. Don’t assume every message is meant for someone else. Don’t criticize the pastor so you won’t be held accountable for his message. Assume every message you hear or read is sent from God to you for the purpose of making you more like Jesus. 

But there’s one caveat: hold every message (secular and religious) you hear and read – on television, radio, music, theatre, literature and the news up to the standard of God’s Word. If it agrees with the Bible, embrace it. If it contradicts it, discard it. 

6. Hold on to what is good. 

Some translations say cling to or hold fast. Simply put, this command tells us not to let go of what’s good in our lives. Dig in and fight for it. Open your news browser on any given day and you’ll see evidence of how the enemy is trying to steal, kill, and destroy. 

Your marriage? Hold fast. Purity of thought and action? Cling tightly. Godly friends? Hold on. A church that preaches the Bible without compromise? Dig in. Strap on the belt of truth. Lift up the shield of faith. Clothe yourselves with humility. Hold on and don’t let go. 

7. Stay away from every kind of evil. 

This one is a no-brainer. To have a happy life, we must avoid the deeds of the flesh as listed in Galatians 5:19-21: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, and carousing. 

Our world is filled to the brim with things that are good, pure, true, honest, just, lovely, and virtuous. We must cultivate an appetite for these things and spurn the others. Seven simple steps to a happy life. Why not try them today? 


Rejoice always! 
Pray constantly. 
Give thanks in everything, 
Don’t stifle the Spirit. 
Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things. 
Hold on to what is good. 
Stay away from every kind of evil. 
(I Thes. 5:16-22)

 Now it’s your turn. Which of these has most helped you live a happy life? Leave a comment below and bless us all.




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