How Do You Measure Up To Perfection?

Do you miss the mark of perfection? 

I tease my friend Dee about her PPS – Pre Party Syndrome. She obsesses over every detail, but her parties are awesome and everyone wants to be invited to them because her home is beautiful, her food is delicious, her games are fun and her hospitality is over the top. Occasionally, she allows guests to contribute which is how I ended up with the assignment to bring my specialty – deviled eggs.

On the day of the party, my boiled eggs did not want cooperate with me. The shells stuck to the egg white like they’d been super-glued. Big hunks of egg came off with the shells leaving me with the ugliest looking things I’d seen since I tried to cut my own hair.

A Big Decision

I looked at those pitiful eggs and had a decision to make. Take ugly eggs to the party or take nothing. Everything in me wanted to trash the eggs and start over, but there was no time! The voice in my head chided, You can’t take those! They look awful! They are not worthy of a Dee party. She will be offended if you take them. No one will eat them anywat. Maybe you should stay home if that’s the best you can do!

Why is it so easy to let a little thing like ugly eggs undermine my value and make me believe my community will reject me – not my eggs, but me!?

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Trusting God When Life Is Hard

Where do you turn when life is hard? What do you do when you pray and don’t get the answer you need? How do you find the courage to trust God in the worst of situations? 

It was the worst day of Catherine’s life. Her daughter was stillborn. Can you imagine? Ugh, the emptiness, the sorrow. Going home with a full diaper bag and an empty baby seat. Dealing with the hormones and milk filled breasts all the while avoiding a nursery filled with stuffed toys and rocking chairs.

In her grief Catherine was angry and instead of relying on God or leaning into him, she turned her back on him, convinced that God had deserted her and was cruel in a way she could not fathom. 

She became depressed and found sleep elusive so she drank at night to try to help her sleep and slept all day because she was tired and hungover.

She stopped going to church because it hurt too much to see pregnant women and young children. It took almost 6 months before she could even look to heaven. But when she let go of the offense she had against God and asked for his forgiveness and restoration, he flooded her brokenness with peace.

That’s when the healing finally began. She said, “It took a long time and I still don’t understand why it happened, but after I surrendered my anger to Jesus, my faith became and continues to grow stronger. I can trust that God has a plan, even if I don’t understand it.”

We’ve all been there haven’t we? Wondering how we’ll make it through this hardship or that trauma?

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The Enemy of Hope is Discouragement

The enemy of your soul has no shortage of ways to create havoc in your life.  Fear, calamity, doubt, shame, illness, lies … the list goes on. But his most powerful weapon is discouragement.

Last week I was passed over for a big speaking job that I really wanted. I thought I had a good shot at it. I was qualified and available. My fee range was well within their honorarium budget. It was easy driving distance to the venue. I had a great rapport with the event planner. But, I didn’t get the gig. Someone else will be speaking there next year.

Ugh. The disappointment.

For the rest of the day, I was down in the dumps. I couldn’t engage with other potential clients via phone or email. Who would hire me? was the recording playing in my head. I even had writer’s block. But then, who would read my stuff anyway? I thought to myself. I tried to cheer up, but the discouragement was overwhelming. Does that kind of discouragement ever fall on you? 

I’m confident that discouragement is our enemy’s favorite tactic to disable us.

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Are Burning Coals Falling On Your Head?

Do you have anyone in your life that’s a handful? You know, really irritating? Downright difficult?  Be careful how you treat them or burning coals may be falling on your head!

One of the most challenging people I have ever had to accommodate was Hot & Hunky’s dad. He was ex-military and an ex-cop. He bragged about riding motorcycles year-round in the ‘60s. “Heck, yeah, (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.” 

After a series of crashes and altercations disabled him, he retired from the police department. Without a satisfying job and with little to do at home, he took solace in food and television, gaining a ton of weight, further handicapping his movements which made him cranky. 

He had some redeeming qualities. He was funny and charming when he wanted to be. He was kind to children and generous with his time and talent. He loved his family furiously, but he was a difficult patient for his sweet wife. We all waited for the day when he would pass, and relief would come to my mother-in-law.  

Then, POOF! She died. Just like that, it fell to us to take over his care. Hot & Hunky handled his finances and insurance, I took on the role of activity director and chauffeur. 

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God Redeems Life’s Wreckage

When life reels out of control and the wreckage is overwhelming, where do you turn? 

September 10th is a big day at my house. It’s the day my husband Craig’s plane was discovered after being missing for weeks. Our hope and prayer was that both Craig and the plane would be recovered safely and intact, but that wasn’t what we found.

A pilot error, a thunderstorm, and a dark mountain created a trifecta of disaster. After an exhaustive search by the FAA, State Police, Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol and NASA, Craig was finally discovered inside the crumpled aircraft wreckage where he’d obviously been killed on impact.

What do you do with that kind of news? Where do you turn for answers? 

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Are You A Bathtub or Shower Girl?

There is something you probably don’t know about me. I haven’t taken a shower in years.

Shocked? Don’t be. I prefer my hygienic ablutions to include a bathtub of hot water to the pelting streams from a shower head.

There is something calming that happens in a bathtub that I can’t duplicate in the shower. A bath soaks away the day’s stresses and messes. It’s like a baptism every night. The day is washed away and I’m ready for the next.

Even when I’m in a hurry.  I can take a “skinny” bath and get the desired result – cleanliness – which is an imperative for every day. But I much prefer a deep, hot, relaxing soak. When I get out of the tub, I’m not just clean, I’m refreshed.

I often read in the tub. (You can’t do that in the shower!)

Like most of us, I read for work, research, and recreation.  My top two bathtub reads are Guideposts and Just Between Us. I read books and of course, and I read the Bible.

When it comes to Bible reading for recreation, I’m not an over-achiever. I won’t make it through in a year – or anything close.  I read one chapter a day and it takes me about three years to go from Table of Contents to maps.

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What’s Your Heart Condition?

Did you know I have a heart condition? Don’t be alarmed. We all do.  

When our hearts are out of sync with God’s best for us, He will reveal it to you in the most inventive ways.

I knocked lightly and popped my head in Jake’s room to say goodnight. His room was a disaster area. Stacks of magazines, motorcycle paraphernalia, and a week’s worth of socks and underwear covered the floor. He had one little bitty space on his huge desk that wasn’t covered with paper or doodads or books. The bed was disheveled and the window blinds were all catawampus.

How could a kid whose brain organized data to get straight As in engineering live in this chaos?

When his face met mine, he wasn’t smiling. “Mom, got a minute to talk?”
“Sure,” I said. “Want to come downstairs?”
“Can you just come in here?”

I hesitated. See, I am not messy. My spices are alphabetized. My closet is color organized by sleeve length. The coins in my car are heads up, facing the windshield. I can tell you what’s going to be for dinner a week from Tuesday. Being in his room makes my brain freeze and my hands twitch.

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How To Change “Good Enough” To Spectacular

So many women coast along on good enough
when 
spectacular is well within reach. 

What change would it take for you to stretch into a better life?

 

My boy, Eli is the son of a college football star and the
grandson of a Golden Gloves Boxing Champion.
(I jokingly say he gets his brains from my side and his brawn from his dad’s.)

By the time he was in middle school, he was already tall and bulky.
In a moment of inspired bravado, he issued an arm wrestling challenge
to all contenders sitting with him at lunch.

He unceremoniously flattened all comers.

This caused quite a stir.
Sweet Little Maddie heard the commotion and came over to spectate.
“I’ll try,” said Sweet Little Maddie.
“No way,” said Eli, “I can’t arm wrestle a girl.”
The crowd jeered, “Afraid of being beaten by a girl?”
“No,” said Eli indignantly, “I just don’t want to hurt her.”
Maddie stood there, waiting her turn, smiling sweetly.
The crowd’s jeers continued until there was no getting around it.
Madeline sat down opposite Eli.
Their hands clasped.
The referee counted to three.
For just a moment their limbs were locked in the starting position.
And then …
Sweet Madeline pressed Eli’s fist to the tabletop.

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What Does Mother’s Day Stir Up For You?


Do I say, “Happy Mother’s Day!” or is
“I’m sorry this day is on the calendar,” more appropriate?

Time has mitigated the intense pain of my mom’s death
but Mother’s Day is a sharp reminder of her earthly departure.
I miss her touch, her laugh, the smell of her perfume and
the way her hands enhanced every conversation. 

She never cooked or gardened or scrap-booked,
but she taught me how to solve problems,
contend for big dreams, and be kind to others.

She was my lifeline when I was discouraged and
my anchor when I was successful. 

She held me close when I was small and
she let me go when I was grown.

Now that she is gone, the very presence of her absence
is a constant reminder of how much I miss my mom.

Everywhere you turn, there are reminders of Mother’s Day.

Maybe your family makes a big production out of Mother’s Day.
There will be cards and chocolates and bouquets.
Your day will be full of people swapping stories, laughing and hugging. 

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Old Memories and New Legacies

What do you do with old memories? 
Turn them into new legacies!

I have outlived my mom by 27 days.
I don’t mean my mom died 27 days ago.
I mean she died when she was 61 years, 5 months and 16 days old.
I have eclipsed her life span.

In thinking about her,
remembering all the accomplishments she achieved
and all the people she served so well in her tenure as an educator,
one of the questions rattling around my brain is
how will I be remembered?

I know, I know,
61 is hardly considered old anymore.

However, I have more years BEHIND me than AHEAD of me.
Now more than ever, I want to make them count.

Time is whizzing by.

It seems like just yesterday that I was chasing children,
frantically trying to get places on time.
I was consumed with feeding, watering, and caring for other people.

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