Kids Do the Darnedest Things

Kids Do the Darnedest Things

 Mr. 4-Ever was out of town so
I was alone watching the tornado’s swirling formations on the weather channel

when sirens started blaring their warning.
Outside, the sky was greenish gray and there wasn’t a wisp of wind.
Almost simultaneously, a text notification beeped on my cell phone.

A tornado warning had been issued and my house was in its path.

Suddenly, the back door banged open and
Eli, my firefighter son, burst in calling loudly,

“Mom!
Mom!
Where are you?”

“I’m in the office, Eli.
What are you doing here?”

“Mom, I heard the warning on my scanner and
I came over to be with you in case you were scared.”

Before I could even get the
Aww, that’s so sweet of you
out of my mouth, he started issuing directives. 

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Divinely Designed: Sooty to Smashing

Some would say the beautiful ceiling
of the Sistine Chapel is
divinely designed.

The frescos painted by Michelangelo tell the sweeping story of Bible,
from God’s creation to Christ’s ascension.

(A fresco is a painting done rapidly in watercolor on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling,
so that the colors penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries.) 

Moms, before there were permanent magic markers
to “beautify” your walls,
there were frescos.

In the centuries since its completion in 1512,
the magnificent images in the poorly lit chapel were illuminated by millions of candles
which eventually layered the ceiling with soot and smoke
until the frescos were a shadow of their original splendor.

A 14 year restoration process began in 1980.

Standing on scaffolding nine stories above the floor,  
experts painstakingly restored
 the 6,135-square-foot ceiling of frescos
to its original glory.

Look at the difference!

(before)

(after)
(Wikipedia photographs)

God created me to be a reflection of who he is,
but years of worshiping false gods, even being my own god,
layered soot and sin on me so thick my original design was unrecognizable. 

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You Are Not Alone

This blog was originally featured at (in)courage.  

Saturday mornings are easy at our house.

Seconds on the clock don’t count against us like they do
Monday through Friday as we scurry to school, work, and church.
Children linger in pajamas,
breakfast is eaten in random shifts, and
I putz in the kitchen while my husband sleeps through the
soft singsong of children’s television in the next room.

On this particularly beautiful Indian summer day,
when the weather betrays the calendar with 70-degree temps and sunshine,
we are beckoned outdoors for a last romp without the hindrance of heavy coats.
The trikes and pedal cars will race up and down the driveway on this last hurrah
before exchanging places with sleds and snowboards in the loft of the garage.

As my little boys search for shoes and wooden swords —
standard issue for adventures if you’re 7 and 4 —
I go to invite my husband into our activities.

This man, this husband of mine, makes my world work.
He opens my doors, my jars, and my eyes to possibilities I never imagined.
He works two jobs so I can stay home with littles.
He encourages my writing and he supports my dream of being a Christian speaker one day.
He fixes everything I break, brings home flowers for no reason, and eats everything I put in front of him.
He dances with me in the kitchen, and he plays on the floor with our children.
When he wraps me up in his strong arms and kisses me deeply,
I know that forever is not long enough to be married to this man.
He makes me feel safe and loved and secure.

Finding my husband asleep on the couch,
I lean toward him to whisper him awake.
There is no response.

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God Is With You In The Waiting

I immediately recognized the number on the caller ID.

It was my 27 year old son, Jake.
Since neither of us are “morning” people,
I knew the 8:00 a.m. call wasn’t to chat.

“Mom, I hurt my back. I can’t move.” 

This boy, this man-child of mine is so strong,
and so smart,
he thinks he’s invincible.

“What were you doing?” I ask,
waiting to hear that he’d tried to bench press a refrigerator or
push start a semi-truck.

“I was putting on my sock and something just popped.
I don’t know what to do.
Can you come over?”

Music to a mama’s ear.
He needs me.
He still needs me.

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9 Ways You Can Help A Grieving Heart

My heart breaks as I listen to the news of
killings in our country and around the world.

Regardless of who you are or where you come from,
when someone you love dies,
it blows a hole in your heart,
and
changes your life forever.

My experience being widowed twice in four years
gives me the courage to say
you can make a difference in the process of grief.

 Here are 9 ways to help mitigate the agony when
tragedy strikes close to home.

 

1.
Look for the person who is grieving.

 

Smile at them.  
Talk with her or him.
Don’t avoid them because you don’t know what to say,
or you feel uneasy.
Push through the feeling of awkwardness,
they need you.

Here’s advice from the American Cancer Society about that.

It is common to feel awkward when trying to comfort someone who is grieving.
Many people do not know what to say or do.
Here are suggestions to use as a guide.

Acknowledge the situation.
Example: “I heard that your_____ died.”
Use the word “died”.
That will show that you are more open to talk about how the person really feels.

Express your concern.
Example: “I’m sorry to hear that this happened to you.”

Be genuine in your communication and don’t hide your feelings.
Example: “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.

Offer your support.
Example: “Tell me what I can do for you.”

2.
Pray for them often and tell them that you are.

Ask them how they need God to show up in their life.
Do they need provision? 
How about wisdom for parenting? 
What about all the decisions they have to make?

I assure you they need prayer for the grace to deal with
people who will undoubtedly say inappropriate things!

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Moments, Miracles and Surprise Endings

Blog-Hop-Button-300x300

 Last week I was part of the Speak Up Conference
Mowhere hundreds of speakers and writers converged at the
Prince Center in Grand Rapids, MI to
learn, grow and network.

I was privileged to have the main stage one morning.
Here is the summary of the powerful message God gave me!

Do you ever have MOMENTS?

What do you do when the computer swallows up your documents?
How do you react when you discover your secret stash of Oreos has been raided?
Can you keep your cool when your curling iron overheats and melts your hair?
Imagine your reaction to discovering that your car has been towed!

Would you have a MOMENT?

I dare say,
Delays, Disappointments and Doubts
trigger many MOMENTS.

In John 11,
Mary and Martha are having a moment because their brother is deathly ill.
They send word to Jesus.

They don’t tell him what to do,
They tell him what’s going on – like you would in a prayer …

and then they wait 
for him to tell them what to do.

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Waiting Together, Hope and Healing for Families of Prisoners

It’s Independence Day weekend,
when we celebrate the freedom we enjoy every day.

Most of us will spend time with family or friends –
on the boat, on the deck, at the parade …
at least that’s my plan.

It’s the freedom I have that makes me want to
share a great book with you this week!

My friend, Carol Kent
has just released a new devotional for families of prisoners.

If you don’t know Carol’s story about her son Jason’s incarceration,
check it out here.

This collection of 90 devotionals is called
Waiting Together, Hope and Healing for Families of Prisoners.

Each devotional starts with an inspirational quote you can hang onto,
followed by a personal story that addresses the
challenges families face when someone they love is incarcerated.
The devotionals conclude with words of wisdom and/or encouragement and
wrap everything up with a summary of selected scriptures that
anyone can understand.

The stories are heartfelt and heart-breaking.
I have to believe this book will be a comfort and encouragement
if you have a family member in prison.

Even though my story does not include a family member in prison,
I found
Waiting Together, Hope and Healing for Families of Prisoners
to be compassionate and honest.
There’s a part of me that is so thankful this isn’t my story, but
after reading
Waiting Together, Hope and Healing for Families of Prisoners,
I’m better equipped to minister to and support these hurting families.

I admire Carol for her willingness to continue to carry on the conversation
about her family’s ongoing trial for the benefit of others with
fewer resources and little support.

Maybe you don’t have a family member in prison,
but maybe you know someone who does.

Share
Waiting Together, Hope and Healing for Families of Prisoners
with them.

Turning Tomorrow into Today

Tomorrow.
What a lovely word.
Full of promise and opportunity.

I live in an old farm house with closets the size of your refrigerator.
Consequently, I only have room for in-season clothes.
Off-season clothing hibernates in the basement. 
Last weekend, I switched out the winter layers for summer outfits. 

And I discovered a problem!

My capris and skirts and shorts were TIGHT!

The obvious solution is to shed a few pounds so that
my summer clothes will fit comfortably again.

How hard can it be? 

Then I remember we have company coming for dinner and
it would be rude to serve them rabbit food and no dessert.

I’ll start my weight modification plan … tomorrow.

The next day I remember I’m invited to an Open House
and there will all kinds of delicacies I’ll want to sample in large quantities.

I’ll start my weight modification plan … tomorrow.

The same thing happens with 
my book writing and 
my house cleaning and
my thank you notes and
my reading list and
my Bible study and 
my … 
Well, you get the idea.

Maybe you do the same thing.

Tomorrow …
I’ll start my diet.

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God’s Surprising Solutions to Prayer

From my home office, I could hear the racket.

Loud, clunking arrhythmic noises were coming from something big and mechanical.
At first, I thought the washing machine was out of balance
and trying to walk out of the basement again.
I quickly discovered the central air conditioning unit was the source of the noise.

Oh no!

It was 90 degrees outside and summer was just getting started.
I shut it off and called the repair man to look at it.
 

His assessment?

“Call a salesman. You need a new unit,” he told me.
“There’s no way to fix this one?” I ask hopefully.
“This unit is 20 years old. It’s served you well. Let it die in peace.”
“I see. Well, can you estimate what it would cost to replace?”
Without a moment of hesitation, he said, 
“I’d guess close to $3000.00.”

I nearly fainted and not from the heat!

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Small Beginnings Lead to Big Victories!

 

Yesterday, the bathrooms had to be scrubbed.
Tomorrow is laundry day so tomorrow night is dedicated to ironing.
Mr. 4-Ever wants to eat again today,
which means grocery shopping and more cooking.

Just to be clear,
this is not how I prefer to spend my days.

I want to pray, study, and worship God.
I want to teach Bible study to women who love and/or need Jesus.
I want to write great talks to deliver to women desperate for Good News.
I want to create captivating books for women to read
so they can be inspired and energized and reengage with God.

But here I am …
cooking, cleaning, and ironing.

Doing the ordinary stuff.
Doing the boring stuff.
Doing the familiar stuff.

There’s a little verse in Zechariah 4:10 that says,
“Do not despise these small beginnings,
for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin,
to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

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