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Time has wings. Time is a bird, and we are the small riders on its back, holding on to it with fists full of feathers that are our days and years.”1
It was King Solomon who penned the thought that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Eccl. 3:1, NIV).
Time: a precious commodity we cannot control: we cannot reclaim it, pause it, or hasten it. Yet in our youth we think we have all the time in the world. Sadly, as it goes by—days, months, years—we realize that it is not so.
I share an author’s expression: “If time possesses wings, then our spirit must soar in God’s perspective of time. For we are dust, but God is timeless. Our lives are short and frail; however, God does not weaken or fail with the passage of time.”2
Change: Maybe you remember when the song “Change” made its debut, March 7, 1985. The words today seem even more appropriate: “Some things are never gonna change”—such as our changing and frailty this side of heaven.
In the last few months of 2021 our family was privileged to have both sets of grandmothers/great-grandmothers visiting at the same time. I remember my husband commenting that so many fam- ilies did not have the blessed opportunity we had. Around the dinner table one Sabbath, we had a combined total of 180 years of life and experience just between the great-grandmothers. There we sat, a span of four generations, aged 91 years old to 9 months old, all talking, laughing, and sharing a meal—what an awesome and memorable experience, a picturesque view of change in real time.
We all had better embrace change, because that’s what life is all about. Our willingness and ability to adjust to and cope with life’s various changes is what really matters. Yes, in many aspects of our lives we can effect some change: buying a car or a house, replacing one political party with another, changing our course of studies, etc. However, nature’s worldwide changes—seasons, life span, daylight hours—are, just like time, out of our control, inevitably so. Therefore we soldier on, doing the best we can where we are, and with what we’ve been entrusted.
Constancy: Don’t you wish sometimes that you could just press a button and make time and change stand still? Ah, if only we could! What a blessing it is to know that there is Someone who defies time and change, who says to us, “I the Lord do not change” (Mal. 3:6, NIV).
I’m thankful, God, that You are constant, the one I can hold on to, the one who transcends time and space; who, from outside my realm, sphere, and time, is still my anchor. There is no one, nothing, before or after You, and no time when You are not.
You are constancy I can depend on forever!
1 Olga Valdivia, Through the Seasons With God (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 2019), p. 22.
Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste is editorial assessment coordinator for Adventist Review Ministries.
Three distinct assignments that are key to each three distinct assignments that are key to each month’s edition fall to me: they are first engagement with authors, the monthly Spirit of Prophecy selections, and a monthly column by AR staff members.
The first responsibility of an editorial assessment coordinator at ARMies is to do the first reading of all incoming manuscripts, categorizing them to determine under which editor’s portfolio they may be placed in the evaluation process. This allows one to get to “know” a bit about our authors, giving the opportunity to encourage them to keep writing and not become discouraged if their article wasn’t accepted at their first, or second or third attempt. Sometimes the coordinator offers helpful tips as to how they could make their article stronger, to write in a way that would capture the read- er’s attention. The privilege of tracking these articles through to publication or rejection gives occasion for joy at some writer’s success; sorrow too, or at least disappointment, when some writer’s hopes do not come to be. Corresponding with authors and acquiring their consent on the various publication documents, as well as sending out an honorarium and complementary copies of the magazine, is certainly a highlight. This engagement with our writers is a ministry all its own, an occasion for fanning the flame of our common love for Christ and deepening our longing for His soon return. Conversations that discuss the progress of the evaluation process for an author’s article may easily segue into our common interest in the progress of something much grander. These articles contribute to that event—the coming of our Lord’s eternal kingdom.
Spirit of Prophecy readings are a regular feature of both of ARMies’ principal magazines. Selecting and editing the various articles for Adventist Review and Adventist World is an assignment that yields its own opportunity to minister. In prayer- fully searching through Ellen White’s volumes, the goal is to find a reading that is appropriate and applicable to the theme, as well as an inspiration to our readers.
All regular ARMies staff members also contribute to a column named In Other Words, referred to in-house as IOW. This writing assignment occurs on a rotational basis.
Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste is first assessor of editorial submissions: she says “Yes”; and “No”; and “Maybe.”
“She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands” (Prov. 31:13).*
A few years ago, my mom handed me a package, declaring, “I thought you might want to keep this. I’m sorry that some of your badges/pins are missing.” It was my high school uniform.
Surprised, I placed it in my closet and wondered why, of all the things I’d left behind when I moved away, she would bring this particular item.
Then it dawned on me: this was more about her than it was about me. It represented a period in our lives when Mom was able to leave tangible evidence of her faithfulness as a mother.
At age 11, I took the island-wide high school entrance exam. Much to the delight of my family (especially my mother), I gained entrance to one of the few prestigious high schools in the country—St. Augustine Girls High School. The student body comprised those who had scored very high on the island-wide high school entrance exams, and those who were placed because of their family’s affluence. (The prime minister’s daughter attended, as did a friend whose father was a cabinet member, and another whose family owned the largest soft drink bottling company in the country.)
“She layeth her hands to the spindle” (verse 19). “She maketh herself coverings” (verse 22).
Mommy had other ideas. She wasn’t going to spend money on new material.
After the first year, our uniform, which consisted of a blue skirt, white blouse, and necktie, was changed to overalls and a white blouse. This change added a huge expense to our already-fragile budget. Everyone was required to purchase the uniform material from the school.
Additionally, the uniform had to be made to code, the pleats had to be of a specific width flowing in a specific direction and falling a stipulated number of inches above the knee. Mom thought that paying a seamstress would be too expensive, so she purchased exact material. She decided to make the uniform herself.
And she did! I remember her tracing out the pattern, measuring, cutting, and arranging/pinning the fabric pleat by pleat. With each fold she implanted love, care, support, and strength. The final product was flawless, made to code, and, I felt, quite flattering to my physique.
Two years later, a general school inspection determined that all uniforms that appeared faded or short would have to be replaced. Well, Mom had other ideas. She wasn’t going to spend money on new material. Instead, she decided to deconstruct the uniform, take out the original stitching, and turn the material over.
She reversed the pleats, resetting them pleat by pleat so that they would once again flow in the appropriate direction. It worked! I returned to school with a uniform that looked like new.
“Her children arise up, and call her blessed” (verse 28).
I may have caused Mom some anxious moments while in school, but as I observed her faithfulness and diligence I determined to make her proud. I believe to this day that my mom, Elvira, could do anything to which she set her hands.
*Bible texts are from the King James Version.
Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste is acquisitions coordinator for Adventist Review Ministries.
“Light a candle, light the dark,
Light the world, light a heart or two
Light a candle for me,
I’ll light a candle for you.”1
Stark images stream across my mental screen: children—of various ages, heights, genders, all with similar expressions of grief, despair, and loss—packed in holding cells. Some obviously sick and crying for their parents; some silent; others with vacant looks on their faces. I stare at the pictures—unable to look away; wishing I could turn my head.
Shame and consternation envelop me. How can this be? I weep. Surely this is not actually happening! This must be a mistake; these must be pictures from somewhere else, not from where I am. How awful!
News reports continue, so it must be true; and my heart breaks. I feel the pain of these children, while simultaneously imagining the horror and despair of parents who have had their little ones taken, in some instances wrenched, from their arms. A vision synonymous with historical reports and pictures of slavery is conjured up in the mind. Somehow, we’ve been transported back to those dark times, as if in some nightmarish time warp.
What can we do? How can we help?
Then, when you thought it couldn’t get worse, reports of various deaths come in. Maybe I should never have become a grandma! We grandmas are notoriously sappy creatures. But if I had never become a grandma, then maybe my heart wouldn’t feel so shredded by these scenes of maltreated innocents. Was it simple neglect? Was it the frustration of not enough staff, not enough budget? Is there someone to blame?
Cruelty to animals can bring heavy fines and news headlines. Is there no law against cruelty to children? Why did some of them die? Something’s not right. Is somebody going to fix it for the children? Do they matter the way regular kids in regular backyards do? How important are they: more, less, the same as regular kids?
We may not all have given birth to children of our own. We may not all have contributed to the procreation of the species. We don’t all have to be grandmas and grandpas. But we are all someone’s child—just like those kids.
Can we be both lawful and care for the kids? care about the children? Can we show support for them, for those who care for them, for folks in charge and for rules and order by donating money, clothes, or comfort kits to community service centers and churches that have contact with the kids? Can we shine some light into the children’s eyes, hearts, and lives?
The holidays are coming, you know. How can we enjoy them—eating well, sleeping comfortably, celebrating family reunions—without thinking about and caring for kids who have fallen on hard times?
And about that light: perhaps we could each kindle a candle in our homes and hearts, for the children. As the song says,
“Light a candle . . . for the children who need more than presents can bring. . . .
Light a candle for the homeless and the hungry. . . . Light a candle for the broken and forgotten.2”
Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste, a mother and grandmother, is editorial assessment coordinator for Adventist Review Ministries.
I’m sorry, but I won’t be coming in to use the computer on Saturday,” I responded quietly, or so I thought. Suddenly it seemed as though the entire room went quiet and all eyes were looking at me questioningly. Oh, dear! What have I done? Lord, help me to find the right words, I breathed.
“Why?” asked my subcontractor as he looked at me in disbelief. He and, it appeared, everyone else awaited my answer.
We were working at the city’s record office in the late 1990s, back when the computer system was just coming into its own. All the records were being computerized, which meant that we, the abstractors, were forced to jostle with John Q. Public to retrieve pertinent information in order to complete our reports.
At the time most of the computers were unusable for more than a week, which led to long lines of individuals, including the public, having to wait to use the two computers that worked. This prevented individuals from completing purchases of property or obtaining their refinance/loan money. The anxiety level was high, everyone was backed up, and complaints of lost revenue (the inability to record legal documents, deeds, loan documents, etc.) were made to the director of the record office.
The director, in consultation with the mayor, decided to open the office on Saturdays to accomodate the title companies only. This was huge! It had never been done before.
That’s why my response seemed incredible to those listening in the room. My subcontractor knew that we were behind in our workload and thought that I should take advantage of this grand opportunity.
A coworker broke the silence by saying, “Wow! That’s neat!”
To answer his question (and that of everyone else), I gently explained that Saturday was my Sabbath—the day on which I worshipped—and that I preferred to keep the day holy, attend church, and commune with God rather than come in to work.
“But surely God knows your predicament and would understand if just this once you came to work instead,” he said.
“Yes, He knows,” I replied. “But it’s my choice to honor Him and observe the Sabbath commitment I’ve made.” I was painfully self-conscious as I explained my religious beliefs to him (and the ears of others), because the room was deadly silent.
Another coworker broke the silence by saying, “Wow! That’s neat!” and proceeded to talk about an article he’d just read in which a rabbi extolled the virtues of Sabbath rest while pointing out that this was the origin of the phrase “taking a sabbatical.” His interruption gave me a chance to breathe and graciously answer the ensuing questions from other coworkers, some of whom were not quite as familiar with Sabbathkeeping and Adventism.
While speaking, however, I was mentally imploring God to help me catch up with my workload, because happy clients were the ones who kept me in business. By God’s grace I did catch up during the ensuing weeks and was thankful for the strength to be a witness without having to compromise.
Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste is editorial assessment coordinator for Adventist Review.
Fresh out of teacher’s training college, I was referred by one of my friends for a position at a private high school that she was unable to accept. St Dominic’s Convent was scheduled to reopen in less than two weeks, and they needed someone desperately.
Sister Moira-Ann Roach, the mother superior, was an impressive individual, soft-spoken with an unmistakable aura of authority, yet approachable and warm, with a pleasant twinkle in her eyes.
In our discourse I stated that I would be present at Mass in the mornings to take charge of my class, but would be unavailable for any extracurricular activities held on Saturdays because of my religion. She knew what my religious beliefs entailed and indicated that all would be well.
All went well until the midsemester staff meeting, where the discussion centered on the annual fund-raising fair that the school hosted. Every classroom was expected to participate by providing some type of refreshment as well as a musical number for the concert, which was the highlight of the evening. Teachers were expected to supervise their students, especially during the concert. The fair was scheduled for the last Saturday in November.
Lord, what do I do now? I thought. After taking a deep breath I pledged my support in preparing for the event, although I made it clear that I wouldn’t be attending.
“Is this a test, Lord?” I cried silently. “Because if it is, I’m relying on You for support.”
My class was to be responsible for the fruit punch and a Christmas song. I shared with the students my expectation of total obedience to Cassandra, the senior helper, who agreed to fill in for me at the fair. The song “O Come All Ye Faithful” was to be sung in Latin. We practiced pronouncing the words phonetically, singing in two-part harmony, and walking on and off stage, all while taking cues from Cassandra.
Some weeks later Sister Moira enquired as to our progress for the fair, and I took the opportunity to remind her of my nonattendance. She expressed her concerns for the decorum, or lack thereof, that might be on display in my absence. And since the holy father and other priests would be attending, she felt that I might want to reconsider my stance just this once. I reassured her that my students would be on their best behavior, even though my heart was doubtful.
That Sabbath a special session of prayer was offered up by family and friends on behalf of my students. On Monday a beaming Cassandra couldn’t wait to report on how well the girls had behaved, and of the surprise on the faces of the nuns, including Sister Moira, when the girls began singing in Latin “Adeste Fideles”—so much so that all the nuns joined in sing. Later they congratulated me on a job well done even though I wasn’t there, and Sister Moira showed me an additional measure of respect.
All the praise for that event belonged to God, and gratitude to the angels who surely sang with my class that day.Thinking of Sister Moira still transports me back many years to the day I dared to stand.
Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste is editorial assessment coordinator for Adventist Review.
“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song” (Ps. 95:2).
Being grateful should constantly be a part of how we celebrate life. Gratitude enables us to acknowledge everything that God has given us. With the intake of every breath weought to exhale a prayer of praise, love, and thankfulness for His grace and mercy.
Because I had come from a country where there was no designated “Thanksgiving Day,” my initiation into this celebration made an indelible impression on my mind and instilled in me a true sense of belonging and the meaning of family. I drank in all that the celebration of that day entailed: the food in particular,which in my view served as the obvious conduit to meeting, greeting, and fellowshipping with family, some of whom I was meeting for the very first time. I decided then to treat that day with the importance it deserved without overshadowing my Christmas joy.
Thanksgiving Day is now that special day set aside to celebrate on a grand scale all that we are thankful for in our lives. It’s a day to count our blessings and reconnect with family and friends around a dinner table weighed down with copious amounts of delectable dishes. It is a gathering of the very young, the old, and all others in between, the rousing babble of voices vying to outdo each other in greeting as young ones gleefully dart in and out among the adults while the host silently prays that no one bump against the table already groaning under the weight of its delicious fare. For some that picture may appear to be utterly chaotic. For me it is the very embodiment of thanksgiving!
If we are confident of God’s daily blessings we should be giving thanks on a daily basis.
Then, with the meal safely tucked away, we sit, stand, or recline—whatever position appears most comfortable—and remember, reminisce, and reflect together on God’s rich blessings and our ability to share these blessings with others. W. Clement Stone has said: “If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” A selfless sharing honors God. So we remind the younger ones that our doors should always be open, ever ready to welcome those who are less fortunate, to offer a meal or a place to rest awhile, because, according to W. T. Purkiser, it is “not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, [that] is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”
We remember the loved ones we have lost, and rejoice in the wonderful additions made to the family during the year. We are happy to have made it through another year; we are thankful for health, and shelter, and the joy of just being with each other. In fact, it is as Paul says: Our hearts “overflow with thankfulness” (Col. 2:7, NLT).*
I contend that if we are confident of God’s daily blessings we should be giving thanks on a daily basis. And I echo the statement of an unknown author: “While it’s true that Thanksgiving only comes but once a year, we should actually celebrate each and every day. It’s just a matter of learning to live with a spirit of gratitude.”
* Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
O my Father, how did I get here?” I murmured. “What did I do to deserve this?”
I cried silently, tears coursing down my cheeks, as I sat alone on the upper balcony. The night was still, with a cool breeze blowing around me. These were not words or tears of despair but rather of immense gratitude to a God who had proved His faithfulness once again to His child.
Anytime you embark on an adventure (in this case, a much-needed vacation) and your teenager has more spending money than you do, you know you are scraping the barrel. The last-minute decision to use my spending money on a ticket for said teenage offspring resulted in this dire lack of funds. My maternal intuition prompted that decision in the hope that the experience would encourage him to take his education seriously. My hope was that he’d catch a glimpse of the struggles of family members he’d never met to obtain some of the things he took for granted.
With just $100 in spending money to last three weeks, I was unfazed. I’d planned on staying with my family, and simply trusted God to show up. And He did, in a huge way!
A dinner with family culminated with my sister-in-law bestowing on me a monetary gift (just because . . .); an uncle I hadn’t seen in years thought I would enjoy some English pounds (currency); delivering a package for a friend resulted in them pressing a monetary thank- you into my hands despite my protest. Another family member invited us on a three-day trip to one of the islands to stay in a luxurious beach house, all expenses paid. Unbelievable! These individuals hadn’t any knowledge of my dire circumstances. What a blessing!
So there I was, sitting on the balcony of that beach house—in the stillness—having a wonderful conversation with my heavenly Father. As the cool breeze caressed my cheeks I felt as if they were being gently brushed by His very hands. I couldn’t help thanking Him repeatedly for His love and care.
Who would have thought that God would be interested in ensuring that I had an enjoyable vacation, experiencing my homeland through the eyes of my son. Watching him interact with family members he’d never met. Sampling different foods and fruits he had only heard about, such as guava and cocoa pods; climbing a mango tree and actually picking the fruit by hand. The midnight beach tour to watch the yearly ritual of giant turtles that swam ashore guided by unseen hands to lay dozens of eggs on the beach before covering them with sand and returning to the sea. Visiting historical sites and beaches he may never see again.
Most of all, it was rewarding to see him return to school with a sense of purpose that was reflected in his grades and that continues to this day.
Praise God! He really cares!
Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste is manuscript assessment coordinator for Adventist Review.
My husband recently took me on a date, to a bowling alley! I heard myself agreeing to go, even though I thought the venue unconventional. Until then, I had never been to a bowling alley; I was clueless. We teamed up with my daughter and son-in-law, who were the “pros” in this foursome.
I was amused at being fitted with special shoes, and fazed at obtaining the right ball. Who knew those balls were so heavy? Our lane offered a variety, so I began sizing them when a voice interrupted, “Excuse me, ma’am; this ball is my personal bowling ball.”
With my hand poised over the ball in question I looked into the face of a pleasant-looking older gentleman. “Oh, I’m sorry,” I replied. “I had no idea.” My selection completed, I looked over and realized that the gentleman was assigned to the neighboring lane. So I ventured over to say hello.
As I approached, he assumed a defensive posture (hands raised, palms forward). Oh, no! Does he think I’m coming to confront him? I wondered.
“Hi,” I said, smiling, “I didn’t know that was your personal ball. This is my first time setting foot in a bowling alley, so I have no clue about what I’m doing. But I intend to enjoy myself.”
At these words he relaxed, nodded, and smiled.
Several times during the evening we exchanged smiles and nods. On my very first strike I heard him say, “Nice job!” He, however, was definitely a seasoned bowler. At the end of the evening I went over to say goodbye, waiting while he executed his shot (another strike!).
“What’s the secret in that special ball?” I asked, complimenting him while gesturing to his score, which showcased a number of strikes.
He laughed and responded that for a first-timer I had done very well. “Did you enjoy the evening?” he asked. “Isn’t bowling fun?” I agreed. We exchanged a few more pleasantries and said good night.
“Well,” I remarked to my daughter, “there goes my new friend.” Shaking her head, she said to her husband, “Mom makes friends everywhere she goes. She could get a stone to respond.”
Had she asked how I do that, my response would have been “Easy: just don’t treat a stone like a stone.” In other words, treat others better than themselves, better than you believe them to be.
Then it struck me: even though we’ve been bombarded during this political season with enough vitriol and ugliness for us to say “Enough, already!” I found it easy to exchange pleasantries with a complete stranger in a most unlikely place, thus reinforcing my belief that all is not lost. Most of us respond favorably to gestures of friendship. It’s imperative that we try.
As for the date, I had a great time; we all did. I think we’ll go bowling again.
Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste is editorial assessment coordinator for Adventist Review. She’s the one who authorizes a check when your manuscript is published.