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THE HOMELESS WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU? One reader wondered what was the point of a column on homelessness (written several years ago but used recently on Daily Wisdom). He felt that Jesus is the answer to all the needs of the homeless. After dialoguing over two e-mails, he wrote back, "Thanks for making me think." -Dan

THIS MAN HOMELESS BY CHOICE "I read, with interest, your Daily Wisdom of 9-15-04. It is a subject with which I am familiar. When my marriage ended I too found myself in a homeless condition. I've been that way for two years now. Living on the highways and byways of North America. While not an expert on all of the dynamics of homelessness, I have come to believe that nearly everyone is where they want to be. This may sound harsh, however, my experiences have taught me that if something is unpleasant enough, or if you desire something strongly enough, you will make a change. I don't enjoy being homeless, but for now, it facilitates putting my life back together, and I am working diligently toward that goal. For me, what I desire more than a place to call home, is someone to call home with." -David

ABUNDANT LOVE "What a beautiful story about life. I came upon it by accident while looking for sports news from James Madison University. I am glad I got to read it. I will remember it fondly." --Darrell

SLEEPOVERS? P-U-LEEEEZE! After a column bemoaning all of the competition that Sunday school and worship has these days with sleepovers frequently keeping kids away as well as organized sports on Sunday mornings, one reader responded: "Nothing should interfere if we believe He is our creator and our ever present Source of strength and love. Sleepovers? P-u-leeeeze! For a Believer, this should be non-negotiable. Are you a part of the Family of God? Then show up! Sunday worship is about God. It is about showing up and being with God." -Deanna

WHAT DO CHILDREN LEARN IN CHURCH? "I am on the newsletter committee at Mt. Bethel Church. A member of the committee read your article in the Daily News Record. We would like permission to copy the article and photo to use in our church newsletter." -Dawn

PASS IT ON (Column on giving to others.) "I have always been a proponent of tithing of your time. If you spend 40 hours a week working for yourself, you should spend four hours a week working for others. I have gotten mixed responses and people ask me, "Where is that in the Bible?" I usually point them to love thy neighbor and that usually puts the point across. As always, I appreciate your writings." -Carl

WAR AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT NOT IN SAME CATEGORY In a follow up column on the responses to the "Suicide" articles, I made a side comment that I personally "don't feel humans ever have the right to take life whether it is by abortion, capital punishment, war or assisted suicide." Two men, a former Marine and a current Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, protested: "What I fail to see in your article is quotes, or even references to Scripture. What I do see is your worthless opinion. Sounds like a real Liberal speaking. Why don't you stick to "Thus sayeth the Word" and leave your opinions out?" -Stan

BUSY MOTHER IN INDIA "I read your articles sent to me by Daily Wisdom. The one that came in today, "In Celebration of Boys!" is a real good one. Being a working mom of a six-year-old boy, I guess it applied to me, too. I could relate to the message in a very personal way. I know that every evening my boy looks forward for me to read to him in bed. I try to do so no matter how tired I am or how late it is and I know somewhere deep down he appreciates it. I am glad that God has people [who] like to write and remind us about doing it the way God wants it to be. Keep writing. -Maria

TIPS FOR LONG MARRIAGE "Thanks for the hints on building a good marriage. I have one suggestion. In a context of a spiritual advice piece, I would plead that the word 'lucky' be stricken from our vocabulary. If anyone has had a long marriage, whether they are Christian or not, especially reading this piece, that marriage is part of God's Providence in their lives. God has had his purposeful hand in it somehow. It is a blessing, not luck. I speak as an elder in a church where 'making disciples' (which is at least partly what you are doing with your column) should be an ever-present awareness, intent and reality. Thanks for letting me share my concerns about your heartfelt piece. -Dennis


SUICIDE AND FAITH "I want to thank you so much for this article on Another Way. My husband out of nowhere took his life on May 12 of this year. This was a great article and was done so well. I just had to e-mail you. You said in one sentence what I have wanted to hear. My church has a thumb down on suicide, because of that I haven't been going. My husband was so sick and I cannot for the life of me understand why I couldn't see he was so depressed. I can look back now and see the signs, but I didn't realize it was this bad. I will go to my grave hating myself for not helping him in his pain. Thank you again. [This] is a subject that is very much ignored." -Pam

"A friend just forwarded me your e-mail address and information. What timing! God's way is perfect, His plan unfailing. Today is the 2nd month anniversary of my son-in-law's death by suicide. My young daughter (24) was left with two young daughters of her own and lots of questions, fears and regrets. I plan on watching this documentary and will let her know about it also. Please continue educating people on this subject. Everything thinks it will happen to someone else. Just because we are Christians doesn't mean we will not have to deal with this." -Kathy

"Thank you for this article. I am struggling, no, fighting with depression right now. I have considered suicide several times in the last months. I too wondered if I could go to heaven if I did it. The timing of this article is awesome. Right now I even wonder if there is a god." -Judy

"I read with interest your column as I have had some people in my life who have chosen this solution to their problems. My immediate reaction [to your column] is that there is no condemnation of suicides recorded in the Bible probably because it was covered under the laws of taking a life, therefore not needing further explanation. I feel that your column was unbalanced, offering the concept of suicide as a legitimate alternative. After all, if there are no consequences to this, why not? [Editor's note: This is not my position.] -Sue

"Just read your piece and totally disagree with you. If we are granted God's wishes to be forgiven, then how after we kill ourself [sic] how do we get forgiven? And the Bible says that in heaven there will be murderers. So all that have killed others have been forgiven if they are there, but can't see how anyone that's killed themselves will be there. Maybe in your next article you could explain that to me." -Richard

"I look forward to your series regarding the aftermath of suicide. I have come to believe the reason we refer to it as 'commit' is that taking one's life is a crime. It is truly a crime that help was not given or received prior to the act and that someone believes the only way to relieve the pain is to take their own life. Mental illness like any other disease is real and people with this disease should be treated with compassion." -Cheryce

SUICIDE: TABOO TOPIC "Wow! Tremendous stuff! I attempted to take my life. I believe I was in a coma for six days, told later it was only three. The trauma of the After is far worse than the consideration of it Before. This is powerful stuff that you are presenting. You are in my prayers." -Shay

"I was glad to see your article. I was married for 31 years to a woman who 'committed' suicide last year nine months after our divorce. Since becoming a Christian this year, I'm finally getting relief from all those years of living with insanity. My two sons are not Christians. I'm going to e-mail your article to them." -Bill

"After spending 10 years, age 20-30 ['66-'76] with trying to decide if today would be the day or not, I have a sense about [people thinking about it]. I told no one. It is far easier to talk about at present time than in those days. Part of my ministry since then has been to try to encourage those who are wrestling with it. When I do see a person who is wrestling with it, it often seems appropriate for me to gently ask them point blank: 'Have you been considering suicide?' If they have, they will tell me. When folks are wrestling with it, they need to tell someone. They will almost always give hints in some way or another. But often it is dismissed. The thinking is 'just pull yourself up by your bootstraps' or some such stupid answer. Controlling suicide thinking is like controlling diarrhea once the thoughts get started really going round and round." -Dave (name changed)

HIDDEN DEPRESSION AND MENTAL ILLNESS "Your article was very enlightening and uplifting. I live in Kenya and due to poverty and other stresses some of our youths sometimes try to take their own lives. Two weeks ago my classmate in the university tried to commit suicide. He claimed to be tired of life and that life was meaningless. But after a close examination we realized that it was due to a love relationship. His girlfriend had accused him of being responsible for her pregnancy, but he was sure it was not the case. How can I help him and yet he is an introvert?" -R.K.

"Suicide has affected my life in many directions. My first memory of suicide came when I was perhaps ten years old and one of my brother's friends died. My friend, also ten, told me Jesus won't let him into heaven. I instantly rejected that pronouncement. I knew then and know now that that just isn't so. I won't use or misuse scripture on it, because this is just something I knew for sure. We are all connected and all with our imperfections, limitations and humanness. Now being a woman of mature years I have had this aspect of death grip my life's walk many times. Those of us left behind aren't here to discover the mystery of this death. I believe we're here to hold each other and simply walk together. I do not believe we have to understand it." -Eva


MAD COWS  "I felt like this essay applied to me! My husband and I are going through a tough time financially and for a few days I was a mad woman. Crying, worrying, and being moody about everything. But I have prayed and the good Lord has put a peace over my heart that nothing on this earth can give me!" - Jessica

EASTER AND "THE GREEN MILE"  "More than once you have touched our hearts in a special way at the right time; God certainly does work wonders through your gift of inspirational writings." - Nancy

"I am already sharing your wonderful, down-to-earth-but-serious approach to belief in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for stepping down from such high theological pedestals ... [In] listening to our brethren on the air waves, and even in small Christian cells ... most times I end up totally confused. Thank you, and please do keep me on your mailing list. I lead in small Christian cells and also facilitate activities in a 20+ lay group in Nigeria." - Aanie

SIN AND GRACE  "I just wanted to thank you for being obedient to God and reminding us all of the importance of forgiving others, just as Christ forgave us. This reminder comes at a time when I am experiencing some difficulties in the workplace and the environment is increasingly difficult to work in. Thank you for reminding me to forgive them, so that I won't hold on to hurt, disappointment, anger, etc." - Robyn

FIFTEEN MINUTES OF SHAME  "Read with interest where you refer to yourself as 'a writer, author, editor and all-around print junkie who has made her living as a wordsmith for the last 25 plus years.' I also read the entire article you wrote on 'ignominy' ... A lot of words saying very little ... in my opinion. I also question the IQ level of your office colleagues who consoled you with 'If you had seen it in print, you would have gotten it.' What an ignorant statement ... If you had seen it in print ... you would be reading ... not SPELLING." - Ed

[In a follow up e-mail, after I asked him whether he'd had a bad bowl of Wheaties that morning, Ed confessed, "I am always like this...for I like to tell it as it is. Being a technical type I just dislike people who believe that a lot of fluff can baffle the brain ... and can be substituted for good valid information or facts. However, I think you are OK ...I will read your other stuff later on."]

"Dere Melodie: For wot it's werth, I'm a United Methodist minister who's also got 25 years in as a "wordsmith," including a 3 year stint with the University of Arizona where I was paid exclusively to write and tell stories out on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. . .and I'm a tearible speler. :-) Seriously, though, I've enjoyed and appreciated what you've had to say in the past, but I especially liked your article on spelling, mistakes and humility. Great job! Thank you." - Patrick

"I have been a fan of your writing through the Daily Wisdom devotional for over six years. Today I especially enjoyed your reference to Martha Stewart, Enron, and WorldCom. All the media hype over each individual issue made for a very confusing, alarming situation in American history. I am disturbed by it every time I hear hateful, judgmental remarks about Martha Stewart. I completely appreciate the sensitive, Christian slant you put to the whole matter and hope you don't mind my saying so." - Judith

STILL MORE ON LOVING LEGACY "I just read about your Loving Legacy handout in "Links@MennoMedia" and would like to request that a free copy be mailed to me. Seems like we would have use for it in our ministry in a retirement community. Thanks." - Teresa

"This is just what I needed. I can't believe how many people have asked about this since I've mentioned it in bulletin articles at church. This is just wonderful. Thank you again and may our gracious God bless this work with our aging." - Shirley

"I want to again thank you for forwarding me your Loving Legacy worksheet. How can I obtain permission to share 20 copes for participants in a Family Night program at our church? It will be used as a discussion starter/follow up for a program on 'Focusing on Aging Parents.'" - Bernadine

C. F. Sandy Pofahl, who has a website (info removed), which sends out an e-mail every Friday morning of the weeks' "best," requested reprint rights to "An After-Easter Story" published last year.


** Pray for Candace, mentioned in the opening above, that she can take steps to make a friend to ease her loneliness.

** Pray for Tanya and her husband. Tanya wrote: "Please help ... I really need this booklet [Creating a More Loving Marriage] I think it would help me in my relationship. I feel that my hubby and I need to communicate more and this could help."



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