Christian Politics — What’s This?

The World Traveler inspirational oil painting of Santa at North Pole with world globe by Steve Henderson

The world is in much better shape in Santa’s hands, than it is in the hands of politicians. The World Traveler, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

We have two sets of friends that we have always wanted to put together in the same room:

Set A is classic U.S.A. Republican party, and they worship George W. Bush. The world ended on the day he left the White House, and if they believed in saints, George would be greater than Peter.

Set B is pure Democrat. They don’t need to believe in saints, because Barack Obama is equivalent to, or greater than, Christ.

Ironically, we think they would get along famously together, as long as one didn’t mention the name of their respective human Messiah. So focused is each set on the marriage of political beliefs with God’s way of doing things, that they can’t separate the two.

While the tenets of Christianity transcend politics, too many people are caught up in the sniping and snapping at one another to realize that, in reality, we’re being played off of one another. Whether it’s Larry King or Bill O’Reilly talking, their primary goal is to agitate listeners and increase traffic  – and we’re falling for it.

The Misfit Christian by Carolyn Henderson

The Misfit Christian is written for seekers and believers who are tired of being told what they should believe or how they should act.

Please read the rest at my Commonsense Christianity blog at BeliefNet, Christianity Is Not a Political Party.

Our Obsession with Success

If you want people to read an article you write, or watch a video you post, just make sure that the title has the word, “Success” in it. (I know. I just did that. Did it work?)

Fortunately, I am not attracted by these headlines that really reel the readers in, (preferring, instead, articles with photos of celebrities without make-up), but Success Articles abound:

Shore Leave inspirational oil painting of rowboats on Columbia River by Steve Henderson

Prosperity preachers — secular and religious — promise us a yacht, which may cause us to overlook the rowboat that God has put at our disposal. Shore Leave, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

The Bill Gates Plan: Five key attributes of the Successful Person.

Superstar Managers: How They Achieve Success and Become CEOs

It’s not hard to find these — just pop onto Linked In and look at the top 5 stories, most of which have a minimum of 50,000 views. One time, I wandered over just to see what the writers were actually saying, which is, predictably, not much.

A lack of valid and intelligent content, however, is no guarantee that people will click away. Sometimes, when I look at the YouTube videos with the million-plus viewers and compare them to the ones with a few thousand or so, I wonder, “Cats running into windows are always funny, but don’t people want to know about alternative news information contrary to what they’re fed from corporate news stations?”

Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at

If you’re worried about money, focus less on making more as you do on spending less. Paperback and digital at

Speaking of clicking, I would appreciate it if you would follow the link for the rest of the story, Longing for Success, at my BeliefNet blog, Commonsense Christianity. Regular readers know that I am only able to post a teaser, and am most grateful for the readers who ingest the entire article.

If you are a Christian, you are being subtly — or not so subtly — manipulated into thinking that a love of God and a desire for a lot of money can go hand in hand. Don’t think so? If you’ve ever attended a business seminar and found yourself nodding in agreement, you might question whether or not you were being manipulated.

Into the Surf: The Story of This Painting

The story of Into the Surf, the original oil painting by Steve Henderson at Start Your Week with Steve:

Children are the world’s best imitators. Naturally observant (until we drive it out of them), they learn by watching, reflecting and doing, and one reason they pick up languages so quickly is that they’re willing to make mistakes and learn from them.

Into the Surf inspirational oil painting of girl woman and child at beach with fabric in surf by Steve Henderson

Learning is something we can joyfully do throughout our lives, and our best teachers at how to do this are young children. Into the Surf, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas and ICanvasART

While an adult will mentally agonize over sentence structure before daring to utter anything aloud, a child will pipe up,

“Want cookie!” Whether or not he gets it, he at least has made the request known, while the adult is murmuring, “I . . . a cookie . . . please . . . like would.”

Sadly, children grow out of this, as they become aware of their surroundings and the gentle, deprecating chuckles that others are making at their expense. The more groups they enter — school, sports, church, 4-H — the more they adjust to conform to avoid this censure, and at the same time their intellect is growing and enabling them to learn even more and more, their desire to not be made fun of precludes this very learning.

Perhaps it is for this reason that conventional expertise makes the unsupported statement that, “The greatest learning takes place before the age of 5, so if you want a person to learn a second language, they’d better do it by then.”

(As a person who learned Spanish — quite competently — at the age of 23 by being completely immersed in it, I always knew this statement was false.)

Into the Surf, Steve’s oil painting of a young woman and a child, at the coast with the sun and the breeze and beautiful fabric, captures the wonder and sense of adventure that young children live with such exuberance. The young woman, graceful and serene, meditates upon the horizon while the young child, in her mind as tall and willowy as her elder, pantomimes the movement.

Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD art workshop at by Steve Henderson

Autumn is the perfect time to pick up and practice a new skill — like watercolor painting. Step by Step Watercolor Success DVD by Steve Henderson at

The painting is an encouragement to us to stand tall and graceful, like an adult, while at the same time we throw ourselves into learning and joy, like a child.

We don’t have to lose the exuberant willingness of a child — we just have to be aware that we’ve tucked it away somewhere, deep within, and it’s time to look for it and bring it out.

Into the Surf, the original 30 x 40 oil painting, is sold. It is available as a licensed, open edition print at Great Big Canvas and iCanvasART.Please read the rest of the newsletter (subscribing is free) at Start Your Week with Steve.

Please contact Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt to inquire about any of Steve’s original oil and watercolor paintings or licensed open edition prints.

Alone Does Not Mean Lonely; and Lonely Does Not Mean Loser

I live in a society that is desperately afraid of being alone. So alarmed are we of solitude that we define normalcy by how many groups we belong to:

“I go to church, Sunday School, and small groups.”

Spirit of the Canyon inspirational oil painting girl on rock in Grand Canyon Colorado by Steve Henderson

Some people are afraid of being alone. Others are comfortable with the concept. Extroverts versus introverts? Spirit of the Canyon, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

“I volunteer through our Give-Back-to-Others program at work.”

“I belong to many civic organizations, and we do good things for the community. I am even a leader in some of these groups.”

“I have a lot of friends, and I get together with people all the time.”

And the crowning achievement:

“I am a people person.”

Our most signature sign of failure as a human being is the diner in the cafeteria or restaurant — be it a school child or professional adult — eating alone, and I will never forget a friend in college describing his reaction to the situation this way:

“I want to stand up and shout, ‘I have friends! I’m not a loser!’”

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at

People who think for themselves, and are comfortable not having to be in a group, are frequently labeled Misfits. Go ahead, wear the label proudly. Paperback and digital from

I really detest the word “loser,” and cannot see its appropriate use, especially in jest. If you are a person who not only is not afraid of being alone, but actually enjoys times of solitude, you are normal and well-balanced, regardless of what the seminar speakers say (if more of us left those people alone, they wouldn’t bother us so much — they need lots of bodies sitting in chairs to keep their program going).

Please join me at my BeliefNet column, Commonsense Christianity, to read the rest of this article, Alone But Not Lonely.

Did That Christian Just Call Your Child a DOG?

Those of you who have lived with, or through, a fifteen-year-old girl know that adolescents of this age generally fight self-esteem issues. Call it hormones, peer pressure, society, or fat days, 15-year-old girls need a lot of love and reassurance that they are beautiful, beloved people.

Ruby inspirational oil painting of Chihuahua with crown on pillow by Steve Henderson

This is a dog. And as cute as some people think it is, it should never be used as a word to describe a human being. Ruby, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

When one of our progeny was 15, in the midst of this exact stage, she was called a dog by a speaker brought in by our church. The speaker, who earned a generous living by organizing church mission trips through an International Church Mission Trip Organization Agency, gave a group of young people the Gary Smalley Personality Assessment Tool Test. (The young people were part of a church-induced “mission trip” to a Christian camp that was looking for free counselors for the season.)

Based upon this one-page sheet, in which participants score themselves from 0-3 points on whether or not they are a “problem solver,” “optimistic,” “adaptable,” “analytical,” and 72 other attributes, human beings — in this case, insecure, emotionally fragile adolescents — are labeled Lions, Beavers, Otters, or Golden Retrievers.

Guess what my child was? How about yours? Or you? I mean, after all that orthodontia, do you want your son identified as a Beaver? Please follow the link to the full article at my BeliefNet Column, Commonsense ChristianityHow Long Will We Let Other Christians Call Us Dogs?

As regular readers know, I am only able to post a teaser to the full story — and if you have sat through any form of “Christian” personality test through your church, please follow through. This kind of abuse only continues because we allow it to.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at

Don’t fit in? Stop trying — perhaps what you’re trying to fit into, isn’t worth the effort. Paperback and digital at


We’re Not Rich, but We OWN Our House

Sixteen years ago, my husband the Norwegian Artist and I had an improbable dream: we wanted to find a place in the country and raise our kids there.

Ending the Day on a Good Note inspirational 1940s nostalgia original oil painting woman in suit with hat near gramophone by Steve Henderson

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of simple living to achieving many, many dreams and goals. But simple living is something we associate with the past, not the present. Ending the Day on a Good Note, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

I say improbable because 1) we had four kids and 2) we lived on one extremely moderate income. Most people we knew had half the amount of progeny and twice the number of jobs, and they were barely making it: lower middle class families with too many children need not apply for improbable dreams.

But the dream wouldn’t go away. Early in our search, we found the perfect piece of land, unfortunately beyond our economic reach. Today, however, I write you from our house — mortgage free — set on that exact piece of land. The realization of this dream achieved impels me through the next stage of my life because — you guessed it — we’ve got another wildly improbable dream in our lives, and we are approaching it with a similar mindset.

If you’re like us, and you’ve got a dream that won’t go away, maybe these five thoughts will help:

Please read the rest at Five Steps to Achieving Your Impossible Dream at my BeliefNet column, Commonsense Christianity. As regular readers know, I am able to provide only a teaser, but the full article does address five lifestyle choices you can follow as a Christian as you pursue that dream you just can’t get rid of.

Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at

Most of us are ordinary people, and we’re not going to get rich anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn to use what we have, wisely, for a decent lifestyle. Paperback and digital at

Because money is such a factor in so many of our lives, this is a good time to mention my book, Live Happily on Less – it chronicles the lifestyle we pursued, and still live, as we sought to buy, build, and own our place in the country. Speaking from experience, not having a mortgage is an incredibly liberating thing.

Ending the Day on a Good Note: The Story of this Painting

Ending the Day on a Good Note inspirational 1940s nostalgia original oil painting woman in suit with hat near gramophone by Steve Henderson

No matter what we do, our live consists of more than our job. Ending the Day on a Good note, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, captures this sense of relaxation and ease.

The story of the painting, Ending the Day on a Good Note, by Steve Henderson at Start Your Week with Steve:

No matter what we do during the day to earn money for our daily bread, real life for most of us starts when we get home, kick off our shoes, and relax in the environment of our own making.

Gladys Boldman, a career woman of the 1930s and 1940s, was an associate at various high-end hotel establishments in the area. The proud owner of many, many hats, Gladys had appropriate head adornment for every occasion, whether it was at work or at a social occasion, but when she arrived home, the hat frequently came off with the shoes.

In Ending the Day on a Good Note, Gladys is in the cozy confines of the music room, where a nearby gramophone plays cheerful music to bring a smile to Gladys’s face, and heart. In front of the gramophone, on the table, are some of the cylinders used to make music: songs lasted for either 2 minutes or 4, and the needle on the gramophone needed to be changed depending upon the length of the song.

The New Hat inspirational 1940s nostalgia original oil painting young woman or gilr in dress by mirror by Steve Henderson

Hats say “class,” and the hats of the 1930s and 1940s said it in a more sophisticated tone than any other era. The New Hat, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

The house used for this painting is the actual house where Gladys lived, moving there as a young child and living her life in its turn-of-the-century splendor until the late 199os, when she passed on and bequeathed the home and all of its contents to the local historical society. The model used for this painting works for one of the same high-end hotel establishments that Gladys did.
Time goes on. Fashion changes. And while, quite unfortunately, hats are not a part of that fashion as they were in the 1940s, people still enjoy the end of the workday, when they settle in their favorite chair, close their eyes, and say, “This time is for me.”
Ending the Day on a Good Note, a 24 x 30 original oil painting on panel by Steve Henderson, is available for purchase through the website. Included with the painting is a beautiful gold frame that brings out the warm highlights of color in the work.Please read the rest at Start Your Week with Steve.

Grammar Despair book by Carolyn Henderson at

One thing we knew how to do better in the 1940s was write with confidence and decent grammar. Grammar Despair addresses the most common problems writers have today, and provides quick, simple solutions. Paperback and digital at

Please contact Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt to inquire about any of Steve’s original oil and watercolor paintings or licensed open edition prints.

Check out Steve’s artwork at Steve Henderson Fine ArtOriginal paintings – licensed open edition prints – Santa and Holiday. Steve’s licensed work is available at Great Big CanvasiCanvasARTAmazon.comLight in the Box, and Framed Canvas Art.

If you are a manufacturer who would like to use Steve’s artwork on your products, please contact his agents, Matt Appelman ( You can see Steve’s Art Licensing page here.

Check out, also, Steve and Carolyn’s products at

The Misfit Christian: Empowering the Believers and Seekers Who Don’t Fit into Contemporary Church (paperback and digital book)

Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle (paperback and digital book)

Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” (paperback and digital book)

Step by Step Watercolor Success (digital DVD workshop designed for beginning to intermediate watercolor students and artists)


The Hostess Twinkie Reading Plan

Child of Eden original inspirational oil painting little girl with green hat in garden with radishes by Steve Henderson

Good food comes from gardens. Child of Eden, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at iCanvasART and Framed Canvas Art

When I was growing up, I heard the mantra, “You are what you eat!” all the time.

It’s not said so much these days, which is ironic since much of what we eat is grown with pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides; processed with chemical additives and preservatives; and tinkered with genetically and medically. If we are what we eat, it’s no wonder that so many of us are sick.

While we may or may not believe that we are what we eat, it should be fairly obvious that what we read — online, in newspapers, magazines, books, and those wretched medical publications that the hospitals, insurance agencies, and government departments send out — affects how and what we think.

Some Christians have used this concept as the springboard for denouncing any literary endeavors outside of “Christian books,” which range from non-fiction fare (“Empower Your Christian Visionary Identity with Purpose, Drive, and Intention”) to blandly benign, benevolent fiction featuring sweet Amish girls from the 19th century solving mystery stories on the farm.

Live Happily on Less by Carolyn Henderson

Yes, ordinary people can eat organic — it just takes knowing how to manage your money. Paperback and digital at

Please follow the link to Feeding Marshmallows to Our Mind at my BeliefNet column, Commonsense Christianity. As regular readers know, I am able to post only a teaser, and I am grateful to the wonderful people who follow the link — and many of you leave terrific comments!

What about you? Are your reading habits keeping you in a state of depression and fear? It’s not all in your mind, you know — but it does have something to do with what you expose your mind to.

And speaking of good food to go along with good books, you can probably afford to eat more pure, organic and/or natural food than you think you can. My book, Live Happily on Less, is a series of friendly, bloggy essays that lead you, gently, into a sustainable money-saving lifestyle. No coupon clipping.


Golden Sea sailboat on yellow orange ocean water original inspirational oil painting by Steve Henderson

In the journey of life, we want to be careful about whom we let control and run our sailboat. Golden Opportunity, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

Too many of us are acquainted with the word, “backsliding,” which, in its purest form, means to lose one’s resolve to follow a chosen path. A recovering alcoholic who re-enters the bar circuit is an example — surrounding oneself by temptation, and resuming behavior that one is trying to overcome, isn’t a particularly successful business plan.

Within Christianity, backsliding applies, theoretically, to believers who no longer walk the narrow path of following Christ, reading His word, listening to His voice — in essence, being His disciples and serving Him as master. I say theoretically, because in the real life of too many people, backsliding is defined not by God but by other human beings, who establish a system of customized rules into determining what is, and isn’t, a genuine walk with God.

What about it? Has someone accused you of backsliding, and you haven’t been able to move forward in your relationship with God because you feel as if you don’t deserve one? There’s some pretty vitriolic “teaching” out there about what it takes to be a real Christian, and if you have been hurt by it — convinced that you’ll never be good enough to deserve God’s grace, please follow the link to my Commonsense Christianity article, What Is Backsliding, and Are You Doing It?

The Misfit Christian book by Carolyn Henderson paperback and digital at

Don’t fit in? Don’t freak out. Paperback and digital book at


Oh, and by the way, sometimes what another person calls backsliding may be what you call following Christ, because you’re reading what He says in His words, taking seriously about applying it, and no longer fitting into conventional rules of establishment Christianity. You may very well be a Misfit Christian, which isn’t such a bad thing. It’s not easy not fitting in — we all want to blend and merge and be accepted by the general crowd around us — but sometimes the best evidence that we’re on the right road is that there aren’t many people on it with us. It’s too narrow.

You’re Not Too Dumb to Read the Bible Yourself

Lady of the Lake woman in gold skirt and hat standing by water in mountains original oil painting by Steve Henderson

Centuries ago, people were told they couldn’t read the Bible because it was written in a language they didn’t speak. Now, we’re told that it’s too hard for us to understand. We’re smarter than that. Lady of the Lake, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas, Framed Canvas Art, and iCanvasART.

How much education does the average Christian need in order to be qualified to study the Bible?

Within conventional, establishment Christianity — the kind overwhelmingly and depressingly practiced in countries like the one in which I was born and live, the United States — we are not immune to a fascination with education, and even the smallest, rural churches point with pride to their Pastor with the PhD, convinced that, because of his advanced seminary education and ability to name drop Greek and Hebrew words, he knows so much more than the rest of them.

(In reality, he knows how to use Strong’s Concordance and a lexicon, resources available to any of the rest of us.)

While we are not required, yet, to undergo licensing to study the Bible for ourselves, the subtle pressure is there among us, as church congregants are firmly encouraged to join small groups, under the shepherding aegis of an approved leader who walks them, step by agonizing step, through workbooks, worksheets, and pop-culture books by pop-culture preachers expostulating about Jesus, the Bible, and the abundant, purpose-full, intentional and missional life we are supposed to be living.

Please follow the link to the rest of the story, Are You Qualified to Study the Bible? at my blog Commonsense Christianity. As regular readers know, I am able to post only a teaser, so if you don’t follow the link, at least answer the question: Are You Qualified to Study the Bible? Don’t say no.

Grammar Despair by Carolyn Henderson paperback book and kindle digital at

Click on the image to see Grammar Despair at

And by the way, if you do follow the link, you’ll read about how many people simply cannot answer the grammar question, When do I say Him and Me, versus He and I? If this question bothers you, along with others — the difference between They’re, Their, and There, say, or How Do You Capitalize a Title? Then follow the link to my book Grammar Despair, which offers very quick, very simple answers to questions like these that bother a lot of people.

Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!