Take on Kindness Today.

Paper people holding handsToday I am thinking of things I am specifically thankful for.
What’s on your list?

I have the usual stuff – health, home, hubz, hunky man-children.  But also electric lights and curling irons, hot and cold running water on demand, and appliances that ease and expedite my life.  For moms and dads and cars that start.  For air conditioning and forced air heat.  I’m thankful that I live in a country that stands for freedom.  I can vote, continue my education and go to stores or movies without real fear of being blown up, hijacked or sold into slavery.

But my life has not been without tragedy. As a woman who has suffered loss, I will tell you it’s the kindness of friends and strangers alike that helped me make it through long seasons of sorrow. Most were followers of Jesus, but others were not.  All of them shared my burden of grief.  Their kindnesses helped make me well and whole and happy again.

And I am thankful.

Kindness is a universal language.  

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Great Memories From Unrealized Expectations

Deer hunting season means I get 42 hours all to myself.

Being a deer hunting widow means there will be no one in my house asking for food, beverages, clean socks or a back rub.  There will be no one who needs advice, an extra $20.00 or a ride anywhere.  There will be no one playing the piano badly, tracking a trail of mud through my kitchen, or falling off the jungle gym requiring a trip to ER.

It will be bliss.

Deer hunting season is when Mr. 4-Ever takes the boys north to commune with nature and other like-minded men.  They will eat bacon at every meal, sit around a fire sharpening knives to throw at trees and not change their undies for two whole uncivilized days.  

Dave at deer camp with TylerI was giddy with anticipation for their adventure and my staycation.  

I went to the video store and pre-selected the chick flicks I would rent the second Mr. 4-Ever’s truck disappeared from view.   

I squirreled away deli treats and expensive cheeses, hiding them in the recesses of the frig where no one would find them.  I bought sparkling flavored water and good chocolate which I kept hidden in the trunk of my car until the magic moment.

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What Do You Do If Your Proverbial House Is On Fire?

“Mom, I had my death picture taken today,” says my son over the phone.
“What? Your what?!?”

“My death picture. That’s what the guys call it.  We have our picture taken in front of the flag wearing our dress uniform.  If we die in the line of duty, that’s the picture they put on my casket and in the newspaper.”

“Oh,” is all I can say.

Eli’s a firefighter.

Eli in turnout gearHe’s been thoroughly trained on a course filled with obstacles designed to prepare (or purge) recruits who desire to fight fires.  To remind them of the perilous nature of the job, many of the obstacles are named for fallen firefighters. The Bob Lee Wall is a six foot high cement wall.  Bob Lee couldn’t scale a similar obstruction, was trapped in a fire and died. The Denver Drill is named for an downed firefighter who perished next to a window because his team couldn’t get him out of the fire from their position outside the building.  The Comrade Course is a series of cement tubes, 3 feet in diameter.  Recruits have to wriggle through them in a hundred pounds of turnout gear, secure a “victim” and drag them back through the tubes to safety.

It’s serious training because lives depend on it.

I hope and pray I never have to use Eli’s death picture.
But I know that fire and smoke try to kill my son on every call.

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My Elijah Moment

It has been quite a season for me!  My first book, The Widow Wore Pink launched.  I had lots of speaking engagements and God gave me inspired, transformative messages to share.  I prayed and laughed and cried with women in cities all over the midwest.

It was wonderful.

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Have you had a season like that, busy but beautiful?  

God has moved or whispered or you have had a break through.
You are sure he must love you more than most.

Right after Elijah has one of the biggest God-moments in the Bible, we find him hiding in a cave, fearing for his life (see 1 Kings 19:1-9).

What?

Don’t judge. That happens to me.
A lot.
I have an encounter with God at an event.
I experience God’s presence and pleasure in worship.
I pray with a woman and she is set free!
I have a conversation with an event planner that’s a perfect fit for my talks.
My hair turned out perfectly.  (remember, don’t judge)
Life is so good!

Then I get slammed.  

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WHEN A PLAYBOY BUNNY JOINS BIBLE STUDY Guest post from Shannon Popkin

She wasn’t still a Playboy Bunny when she joined. But she wasn’t yet a regular Bible Study girl, either. She was climbing from one world into the other. And sometimes that’s tricky.

The Widow Wore Pink Hard Cover Book SmallEven though Robyn Dykstra is my friend, I hadn’t heard her story before I read her newly released memoir: The Widow Wore Pink. I never would have pictured her as a Playboy Bunny. I only knew her as a Christian speaker, a godly woman, and a kind friend.

It was so interesting (and also funny!) to gain her perspective, as she segued from her atheist/feminist/intellectual background into the world I’m far more familiar with–Bible study and church ladies.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite parts of the book:

Jake’s head was on my shoulder, he was dry, fed and burped, well on his way to sleep. I had one hand on his perfectly shaped head and the other supporting his little bottom. Moonlight was cascading through the bedroom window, refracting off the snow and lighting the warm room in the quiet house. How does a woman like me end up here? I wondered. I have a husband who loves me, a fine house, and a healthy baby boy. 

It was exactly then that I heard the voice of God and he said, “Robyn, what are you going to tell your son about me?” The masculine voice spoke gently but with complete authority. There was no condemnation, but there was a question–and an answer was required.

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Where do you turn when life gets hard?

IMG_074368 degree days in October are rare in Michigan, so when the forecast matched the weather on Saturday, I decided to take my adorable 7 and 4 year old boys on a walk, maybe rake some leaves, toss a few balls around and breathe in the fresh air.

After breakfast dishes were washed, I asked my mom, who was visiting from Wisconsin, if she would dry them while I went to see if my Hot and Hunky husband wanted to come along.  I found him still asleep on the couch, with the little boys sitting nearby watching TV. I admired him from the archway, debating whether to wake him or let him sleep.

My family was getting used to our new normal.  My father-in-law, who had been living with us on and off for a of couple years, had died 3 weeks earlier and while it was a relief in many ways, Hot and Hunky was grieving the loss deeply.

I moved closer and whispered his name. It was then I noticed how pale he was. I put my hand on his forehead to check his temp.

He was ice cold.

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What do you do when your past tries to hijack your future?

I came face to face with my past this morning.

In an effort to purge items in my closet that didn’t fit my style anymore, or to be perfectly honest, didn’t fit my mature, more generously padded frame anymore, I stumbled across two of my dead husband’s favorite shirts.

It stopped me in my tracks.

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Remembering the First Day of School

Now an empty nester, I watch the school bus drive by my house filled with other mother’s children. While I do like my french fry & debris free car, a refrigerator from which food does not mysteriously disappear, and the peace and quiet that comes with this season, I’m reminiscing about the first day I took my oldest to school. This 20 year old bittersweet memory seems like yesterday. Maybe you can relate?

The wind blew hard today; it was a sign of the times.
A change of season in the weather and in our lives.

schoolbus sign

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Lost and Found … my keys and my temper

keysToday I’m VEXED because I’ve lost my keys.  

Also, my new barrettes (still in the package),
two socks (not a pair),
and my temper!

It wasn’t a world class Rumpelstiltskin snit;
it was a slow-burning internal squawk.

Do you do that?
Pretend it’s all good, but sizzle inside.

I do – more than I care to admit.

Here’s the issue …today.

I don’t lose things.  
I just don’t. 
I’m organized. 
I’m tidy. 
I put stuff away.

You could say I’m borderline arrogant about my organized tidiness.
There is a place for everything and everything should be in its place!
But today I cannot find my things.  

Where. Are. My KEYS!!!!!
Ugh.

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Burning Coals and Great Rewards

Do you have anyone in your life that’s a handful?
You know, really irritating?
Downright challenging?
Yeah, me, too.

One of my fathers-in-law was a cop.  He bragged about riding motorcycles year-round in the ‘60s. “Heck, yes, (except he didn’t say heck) it was cold. We’d wrap our legs with newspaper as insulation under our uniforms. The department wasn’t full of wimps, women and weaklings like it is now.” 

A real charmer, that one. 

At least when I had to be around him, his sweet wife kept the peace by buffering his insults and verbal assaults with graceful scoldings and smiles.

Then . . . his wife died. 

Suddenly, I became the primary caregiver for that cantankerous man! 

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