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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Do You Wonder If God Sees You?

Are you in a season of wondering if God cares about you or even sees you?
Do you think he led you into a wilderness and forgot where he left you?

Whenever I launch a new series of talks, a service, or book, I have a moment or two when it feels like I might have misread the signals God sent. That I am all alone and forgotten. That I will die in the wilderness.

Then God shows up in some extravagant way to reassure me that I am not forgotten at all.

When Almida said she had a present for me, I was giddy with excitement.

Almida is an interesting woman. Her wisdom, life experiences and prayers have been my life line for decades. Russian by birth, she escaped the Nazis by walking across Europe only to live in a refuge camp for months before getting a sponsor in the US. She made a living as a tailor until she married an entrepreneur who made a boatload of money as a building developer. Her husband, Willy, died at 41 in a plane crash leaving her devastated. Her grief was compounded when Willy’s business partner bankrupted the business, essentially depleting her resources and retirement.

She’s adjusted to life’s exciting twists and unpleasant turns by trusting God with an unwavering faith.

Almida is now 86, and resides in an assisted living facility. The pain in her hip is her constant companion, making an outing to any store a major ordeal. She’s frugal by necessity and was never a big believer in “good behavior” gifts. It wasn’t my birthday and Christmas was long gone, so I couldn’t imagine what gift she might have for me.

A piece of advice?
A photo of us?
A prayer? 

“What do you mean, you have a present for me, Almida?” I asked.

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Ringing in the New Year with a Dance Party!

There is nothing like a dance party ring in the New Year!
 
When you are feeling frumpy, discouraged or just old,
you need a dance party!

 
An event planner I worked with last year informed me
that I should plan to join the dance party they host as part of their retreat every year.
“A dance party?” I asked her.
“Oh yes, it’s a big part of every retreat.
The women love it!” she said cheerfully.
“To go with the Royalty theme this year,
we’ll have a ball.
Bring something with sparkles on it!”
 
The more I thought about it,
the more it sounded like fun …
if I didn’t have a heart attack!
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Simple and Addictive Holiday Recipes From My Kitchen To Yours

Girls, I have kept these holiday recipes secret for decades,
but they are just too good not to share.

These recipes for easy pumpkin pie and super simple fudge
are easy to make and taste like they took hours.
When I say the candied nuts are addictive, I’m not joking!
So good!

From my kitchen to yours,
just in time for Christmas dinners, parties and last minute gifts,
Merry Christmas!

Best Ever Pumpkin Pie 

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