Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The God of All Comfort

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

I hope you all had a wonderful and joyous Christmas.

It seems I had a little trouble getting into the Christmas spirit. I baked, watched Christmas movies, and spent time with family. But some years are just like that, I guess.

We received sad news a week ago today. One of the young moms in our church suffered the unexpected loss of her brother and nephew. We attended their funerals today. It broke my heart to see her grief and the grief of her family.

I wish I could wave a magic wand when people are crushed and are suffering such brokenness. How I wish I could call their loved ones back for just a few moments so that they could know and see that they are okay and with the Lord.

There is something so unsettling about death. It hardly ever comes with warning. It is when it comes so unexpectedly that it causes our grief to almost break us.

When our son died, it was unexpected in some ways, but also not a total surprise. Alex had come close to death before, but had always somehow pulled through. I thought that night in the emergency room would be like the other times. But it wasn't.

There isn't a lot we can do except pray for those who are hurting. Sometimes, I could sense the prayers of people praying for us after Alex died.  At other times, God seemed very far away. I wondered if He were indifferent to what I was feeling. I know now that He was very near, but at the time, I couldn't always feel Him there. The Bible says that He is touched by the feelings of our infirmities and that He is close to the brokenhearted. All during those days (and even now) when I felt so broken and wondered where God was, He was actually very near. We can't go by our feelings during these times - we can only go by faith that He will never lie to us. He is with us. He sees the beginning and the end. He sees our loved ones. They are not lost from His sight or His care. We that remain are not lost from His sight. He cares and sees every tear, every sigh, every groan, every thought.

Still, how I wish I could make everything right for those who are hurting today.

But one day, we will see our loved ones again. I will rejoice with them and I will rejoice for all of those who are finally reunited again forever.

So I begin this New Year with hope for myself and for others who are hurting today. Only God can restore and give hope once again. It isn't something we can work up. We can rest in knowing that He will bring healing and peace once again.

If you are hurting today, can I pray with you? Lord Jesus, I declare peace and hope over anyone reading these words today. I ask that You do the impossible and give hope where there isn't any right now. I ask that you reveal Yourself in their dreams at night and during the long hours of the day. I speak peace, peace, peace. Let their eyes be opened to your majesty and your glory. Let the supernatural become natural. In Jesus' name. Amen.

I send love and blessings to each one of you. Remember that God is the God of comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Gifts I Would Definitely Buy For Myself

If you are still looking for gifts for the females in your life, and you aren't tired of reading one more blog post about gift ideas, then look no further. I'm here for you.

If I were buying a gift for myself, then these would be a few that I would choose.

1. It's really too, too bad that I discovered this place a little late in life. But now that I have...

A Sephora Gift Card

Your mom, sister, girlfriend, or wife can get perfume, makeup, and lots of other things that women love - and your purchases come in a little black and white striped bag. It just makes me happy.

2. TJ Maxx Gift Card (can also be used at Marshalls or Home Goods - so,win win)

I love buying things for the home at Home Goods. Their inventory changes all the time and I love that I'm not paying full price.

3. Her favorite restaurant/coffee gift card. I love my Starbucks!

4. Hair salon gift card. I always have a mini heart attack at how the prices keep rising. A gift card would help immensely.

5. A new car with a bow on top is the thing that dreams are made of as well as plane tickets to a distant city....but really, an experience can make for a nice gift. It's as cold as the North Pole where I live, but I've always thought a sleigh ride in a horse drawn carriage would be so much fun followed by apple cider or hot chocolate.

*My son and daughter are going to Chicago this weekend to see a sing along version of White Christmas with Bing Crosby. For someone who loves Christmas, this would be a great gift surprise. (Chicago, IL)

*I don't have any interest in a sky diving experience, but maybe your wife or girlfriend does:)

*You could also purchase tickets to an event that you know she would enjoy. The Sound of Music will be playing at the Civic Center in DM next year and that is something I would love to attend.

One last experience idea. A few years back we worked at a non profit ministry. I wanted to give my husband a gift that he would remember. I wrote one of his favorite authors to see if he could possibly call my husband on Christmas. I never heard back from him, so I just assumed that he either hadn't received it, or it was just an impossible request. So, on Christmas Eve, I told my husband what I had tried to give him for a Christmas gift. He was very touched. Guess what? The author actually did call my husband on Christmas Day!

So you can basically bug your spouse's favorite author and hope that they will call them, too. lol

6. A gift card for her favorite shop.

I love going to Pottery Barn for inspiration, but I don't usually buy unless I run across a great sale, especially after Christmas. I have a lot of beautiful holiday things that I have purchased from Pottery Barn, but they were purchased ON SALE:)

7. Either a movie night at home with takeout food, or going to a special movie would be a gift I would love. I saw Hacksaw Ridge recently and really liked it. I'd like to see the movie Lion, also. Just purchase the tickets in advance and wrap it up!

These are a few of the things that come to mind. I hope it may help someone out.

I pray each one of you reading has a very Merry Christmas!! God bless you!

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Beautiful Aunt Loretta

I must say that I've been blessed with some very beautiful aunts in my family. On my mom's side I have Linda, Loretta, Lena Mae, Frances, Brenda, and Pam. On my dad's side I have Sandy, Charlotte, and Mary Frances. They are all lovely.

Sadly, two of my aunts have passed away. My aunt Frances died just a few years ago. I will always think of her as she was when I was about ten years old. She was stunningly beautiful. I will always remember her with her long black hair wearing a crushed velvet pantsuit (it was back in the day of crushed velvet hot pants and couches, wood paneling and shag carpeting). I distinctly remember one afternoon when she picked me up at school when I was in the third grade. I hoped with all my heart that all my friends would see me walking down the sidewalk with my pretty aunt. I was so proud of her.

My aunt Loretta passed away when my kids were small. She was something extra special. She didn't live near us, but several states away in Florida. It was a wonderful time when we would learn that she was coming down for the holidays. If you think of a Hollywood premiere with spotlights on movie stars, then you have some inkling of what it was like when Loretta would arrive. It helped that she looked a lot like the movie star, Ann Margaret. She would walk into the room and the atmosphere would change. Her laugh would ring out as she embraced everyone. You just had to be happy around Loretta. She would enjoy everything that came out of your mouth no matter who you were. I look back now and realize what a gift that is. To make the person in front of you feel like they are valuable and important is a rarity. She truly seemed to enjoy hearing all about my ten year old, thirteen year old, or sixteen year old self. She made everyone feel that way. No wonder we all looked forward to seeing her.

My very first plane ride was with my aunt Pam to go and visit Loretta in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. She took us to see Jaws and then we were too scared to swim in the Gulf of Mexico (at least for a day).  It was a special visit because after years of wanting a child, she and her husband were finally expecting a baby. She radiated joy and happiness. Her little girl, Adria, was an answer to their prayers.

Years later, she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and died a short time later. A beautiful light went out when she passed away.

But every holiday season, when I am preparing for Thanksgiving, I think of Loretta. Over the years, I've tried to make the holidays special for my nieces and nephews. I've tried to keep alive that joy that she always brought to the holiday season and even the ordinary days (which she made extraordinary) when she was able to come and see us.

So to all my nieces and nephews, and especially to my own children, I hope I've been able in some small way, to make Thanksgiving and Christmas as special for you as she did for me.

Thank you, Loretta:)

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Sunday, October 23, 2016


It's time to move past pain.

I was praying one day and told the Lord, "Well, I've pretty much written about all I know to write about. Do You have any ideas of what I should write about?" I really wasn't expecting an answer, to be honest. I say a lot of things to God and He doesn't always clearly answer me. But on this day, He did. He said, "Write about pain." That wouldn't be my Number One choice, but after a few weeks, I started writing about pain and a few experiences that came to my mind.

When I say the word pain, what immediately comes to your mind?
Is there an event in your life that coincides with the word pain?

 Pain can feel like it is cutting us to ribbons, even years after an event. On the outside, perhaps we look normal. But in the invisible realm, we are gushing out blood from our wounds.

No one can avoid pain.

Everyone experiences pain.

The experiences I'm sharing are really small potatoes compared to other people's memories of growing up with an alcoholic parent, or because of abuse, or divorce. I realize that. Those are much deeper hurts. I would never minimize those experiences by comparing them to mine. These are just meant as examples of painful situations many of us have experienced.

In the fourth grade, I can remember a girl coming up to me as I had my hand on the door to go outside for recess. We had spent many afternoons playing at each other's houses. I clearly remember her words, "My mom said I don't have to play with you at school." as she headed out the door. I remember stopping and thinking, "But why? We've played together all our lives. Why can't we play together at school?" Even now, I can remember and feel that pain. I didn't understand. My heart didn't know what to do with the hurt. I must have opened the door and went on outside. But I can still recall the pain I felt at hearing those words. A little seed was planted that said I was found wanting in some area and I didn't even know what area it was.

In the fifth grade, I was the new girl at a tiny school. I was painfully shy, but smiled and tried to be friendly.
A girl was passing out birthday invitations. She passed them out one by one as we all stood in line. When she got to me, she looked at me and said, "I'm not inviting you."
While I understood on some level as a fifth grader that it was because I was new and she didn't know me,  it still hurt deeply. All the other girls were standing there admiring their invitations and I wasn't included.

When I hit the 7th grade, it was the year of Farrah Fawcett and her famous hairstyle. I had read that this style only worked if your hair was thick and wavy. Mine was, so I was convinced that I could be beautiful if only my hair was cut like Farrah's.  But it wasn't to be.   In your mind's eye, place a bad haircut on one of the tallest girls in the 7th grade (me), one of the skinniest girls in the 7th grade (again, me), and the one whose front teeth stuck out a little, and you can kind of get the picture. I hated what I saw in the mirror.

Fast forward a few years later when our 9th grade class was voting for class officers. I attended a small school and had been a class officer each year. But that year was different. My name was called along with several others who were nominated. We were asked to stand out in the hallway while the class voted. When I came back in, I found out that I hadn't won that year. But I was even more surprised and hurt when a girl I considered to be a friend, leaned over to me and said, "I didn't vote for you." I was at a loss as to why she wanted me to know that. The remainder of that last year at that school was very hard. I  felt like I didn't fit in anywhere.

Probably none of us escaped our school years unscathed.

I often felt like I was a disappointment as a kid. If I made the honor roll, I felt like I was okay and good.  But I wasn't the prettiest, the smartest, the most popular, the most anything.  When I looked in a mirror, I was always disappointed.

The hardest time of all for me during those years were the yearbook photo days. Maybe I could somehow persuade myself that I looked okay when I saw my reflection in the mirror each morning. But photos just don't lie.

I dreaded the day when the teacher passed out that envelope with our photos inside. Do you remember those big envelopes where your picture showed through the window of the envelope?  I always had hope in my heart. Maybe this year, I would look better. Maybe I would have taken a good picture. Maybe I even looked a little pretty. But every year, my hopes were crushed. It seemed I looked worse every single year!  My teeth stuck out, my eyebrows were  bushy, and my hair was big, but not in an 80's good sort of way.  If I tried to work on one area of myself, it literally seemed another unmanageable area made itself known....pimples, sciolosis...all I needed were glasses and braces, which somehow I managed to avoid.

I began to believe what I saw in those photos. I believed I was ugly.

 Sometimes pain can lead to shame. For many years, I've had a sense of shame always being there, covering me, and speaking lies to me.

"They don't like you."
"You aren't pretty enough,"
"You never do anything right."

It can go on and on.

My husband often says this, "Guilt is feeling bad about something you've done, shame is feeling bad about what you are. It's an identity issue."                             

Pain and shame can define us and convince us of things that are not even true about ourselves. If you hear something long enough, you start to believe what you are hearing, even if it is coming from your own head.

My husband remembers a time when he was the new kid at school. He and his brother were wearing jeans and cowboy boots, while the other guys were wearing bell bottoms. He had been well liked and popular at his previous school, but now at the new school, he felt he had been dropped in the middle of a mine field.

One day, during lunch,  his classmates were reaching over and helping themselves to tator tots off their friend's plate. When my husband casually decided to do the same, that student went into a rage, picked up his lunch tray loaded with food, and slammed it all over him. He was covered in lunch room food and left the room while all the students laughed. He felt totally humiliated. But that experience, along with some others during those awful years, left an imprint on him - that he wasn't acceptable as he was.  He made a decision to do whatever it took to fit in. That decision would affect his life negatively for many years.

All of our painful experiences, if not healed, can define us as who we think we are.

When I look in the mirror, I have to fight to see who I am now. I have to strain to not see the unattractive 7th grader staring back at me in the mirror.

Over the years,  I've often thought I missed an important class in school. The class that teaches you how to walk, how to talk, how to do your hair and makeup, and what clothes to wear. It feels like a memo was sent out that I somehow missed!

I was helping with a GED class a few years ago with Teen Challenge students.  While assisting a really sweet young man in his twenties, he suddenly became very emotional.  Being back in a school environment suddenly caused him to recall how a teacher's words to him had made him feel stupid. Even though that had occurred years ago, working on his GED brought back all those memories of feeling that he wasn't bright enough or as smart as the other kids in his class. He was a grown man now, but that pain and those words were still a part of him. He was actually very bright, but the words of that teacher had convinced him otherwise.

This reminds me of something I read the other day about Thomas Edison.

Amazing, isn't it? He would grow up to be one of the most famous inventors of the century, but because of his different learning style (this article said that he was probably dyslexic), he was labeled "addled"(dumb) by a teacher.

Maybe there are words that were spoken to you that you have had a hard time getting past.

Has someone such as a teacher, told you that you were dumb or slow or stupid?

You're not. Maybe you have a different learning style, but you aren't stupid.

Has someone called you worthless? Maybe a parent said that in anger or a spouse or someone else close to your heart has said that to you.

That label isn't true either. You are extremely valuable. So much so, that Someone saw you, loved you, and was willing to lay down His life for you. You have great value to God. Jesus' love for you isn't just a fairy tale story. It is real. He sees you, knows you, and loves you right where you are today.

Did your family struggle financially when you were growing up? Sometimes that feeling of lack can create a great insecurity even when those times are years behind you. Do you still struggle with feeling that you or your family aren't as good as other families? God wants to heal that area of your heart.

Were you hiding a secret that caused you shame and pain?

God longs to bring us into a place of peace where we no longer struggle with hearing the voice inside our head telling us we can never be good enough, never achieve anything, never do anything great. None of that is true, although if it is something you've heard in your head for a long time - it can seem true. You've just gotten used to it.

But that doesn't mean that we can't start over by replacing those lies with what is really true.

The older I become, the more I realize that Jesus isn't just our Savior or a Healer. He is that prince on a white horse that wants to rescue us.

Our four year old son passed away twenty years ago. That is hard for me to believe sometimes. I still remember details very clearly from the night he died. There is still pain there. You aren't supposed to see your little boy on a hospital gurney when there is no longer any life in his body. I still struggle in a very, very big way with fear concerning our other children. I will wake up sometimes and think, "Will I have to go through that again? Please God, don't let that happen again." I recognize that I need healing in that area. There is still a lot of pain there that needs to be healed.

A couple of days ago, I was in line at Walmart to return an item. There were two young men in front of me. Something about one of them caught my eye. For some reason, the moment I looked at him, I understood that he felt bad about himself, as if he felt he wasn't as good as other people. I don't know how I knew that, but it just seems I did. Inside my head, I prayed for him. I prayed that God would show him how valuable and loved he really was.

It hurts my heart to know there are people we pass every day who feel this way. They live and function in pain because it is all they know. I truly want to see that kind of thing healed up in their hearts by the One who loves them the most. I just don't always know how to move from Point A to Point B in how to go about that. I've been thinking about that verse lately that says, "Do the work of an evangelist." I'm perfectly willing if God will lead me in how to do that.

My husband often teaches on our identity. A couple of things he says are:

1. We can actually argue against the word of God when we continue to believe the wrong things.

2. Assuming we already have the truth is one of the biggest barriers to receiving the truth we need.

Part of the process of overcoming pain is in our court. We have to choose to do things in a new way.

Pain hurts. Pain is painful. But God can use even your most painful experiences.Sometimes pain causes us to forge ahead with God in ways that perhaps we would not have done otherwise. He can bring beauty from your ashes.

If I could pray with you, it would be this prayer: "Lord Jesus, open their minds, hearts, and spirits to the truth of who You are and who they are to you. Even when they are sleeping, begin to awaken your love in them. In everyday ways that the can comprehend and know, begin to show them how valuable they are to you."

Much love to each one of you!

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Dreams Do Come True
Rockefeller Center, NYC

I'm not sure when I became interested in visiting New York City.  I never really thought I would get to see it, though. There were a couple of reasons:

1.  The expense of a trip. Sometimes you can get a good deal on flights, but then there is the question of hotels in Manhattan - they aren't cheap. Plus, in my dreams, I attended a Broadway show. Another cost. Then there are taxis, subways, museum, food, etc. So, it didn't seem like a likely event in my little corner of the world.

2. Our daughter and our son both have some medical issues. Our oldest daughter has CP and in a wheelchair. She is unable to bathe, eat, or get in or out of bed on her own.
Our youngest son has a g-tube and requires a special formula and meds 2x a day.
Those two things in themselves seemed an insurmountable obstacle to me. It makes it very difficult to just pick up and go somewhere. If you have children, you can arrange child care, but special needs kids really have special needs.

For our 25th anniversary, my husband really wanted to take me to NYC. Our church, with so much kindness, gifted us with money to help with all the expenses. I was so touched by their generosity.

 Even after plane tickets were purchased and hotel reservations made, I was very skeptical that I was really going. Our two kids in particular weighed on my mind. My husband said to me, "You really aren't sure we are going, are you?" I really wasn't. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night with a panicked feeling. Or I would think things like, "Maybe I just have this built up in my mind. Maybe I won't even like it there. Maybe it will be awful. Is it even safe?" My kids laughed at that last one. It's a typical thing only I would ask.

There was so much uncertainty. Would my mother-in-law really be able to come and stay with the kids? Would there really be someone that could come and put our daughter to bed each night? Would the bath aide cancel in the morning and Elisa wouldn't even get a bath? Would the home nurse come when she was supposed to? (At that time, we had some home health care workers that weren't reliable).

But you know what? All the details fell into place and one morning, we arrived at the airport for our early flight to Chicago (only 45 minutes by air from where we live) and then on to New York!

I'll never forget flying into LaGuardia airport. As we walked through, I kept telling myself, "You are here. You are actually here!"

I wanted to throw my arms around our taxi driver and tell him how glad I was to see him. I wanted to grab perfect strangers and tell them how happy I was to meet them. I didn't do either, but it was in my heart. I could feel happiness radiating off of myself as we put our suitcases in the trunk and climbed into the back seat.

We drove into the city and I was the typical tourist, craning my neck to see all of the skyscrapers. We pulled up to our hotel in midtown Manhattan and checked in. We literally plopped  down our suitcases, changed into comfortable shoes, left the room to explore, and didn't come back into the room until dark.

I had been a little concerned that my husband would only want to do a little sight seeing. But I didn't need to worry. He was game for wherever I wanted to go.

We were within walking distance of Rockefeller Center and went there first. I watched the people ice skating beneath the statue of Promotheus, and felt like I was having an out of body experience. We walked on to Grand Central Station after that. I've lost track of everywhere we walked to on that first day. I don't think I had ever walked that much in one day in my life! But it seemed there was something spectacular to see on every street corner.

A couple of days later, on a bright, sunshine filled October afternoon, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge towards the One World Trade Center. It was such a beautiful day. The Brooklyn Bridge is simply majestic. It has been standing there over the East River for 146 years! As I walked, I prayed that God would be with the people of this great city. As I did, I could feel God's heart for New York, too, and for every person that called that city home.

It's strange, I know, to have such a love for a place that isn't my home. Of course, I'm only a guest there when I visit. It is a romanticized time for me. I don't live there, work there, or have to pay rent there. I'm just on vacation. I get to enjoy all the wonderful things the city has to offer in a very compact time.

But I wanted to share this for you. Whatever dream you have in your heart, no matter how far fetched it may seem, God can work out all the details. He is very kind and wants to give you the desires of your heart. I always think of that verse, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33). I think as we try and live our lives for God, He will add those things that mean a lot to us.

Last year, we took our daughter to NYC for her first visit. It was so amazing and wonderful to see all the sights through her eyes. That entire trip still has a dreamlike quality.

My husband just recently said, "It feels like we should be taking a trip to New York." We both said he probably felt that way because of the time of year. We visited New York in the fall these last two times. But hopefully, we will get to return again next year. At least, I am hopeful that we can.

What dreams do you have right now? What places do you imagine going to? God is interested in making those dreams come true!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20)
I'm a mom of six living in the Midwest. I know that I may never get to meet you in person, but somehow, through this blog, I want to somehow convey to you that you aren't just a face in the crowd. God sees you and knows you. He loves you. If you've never been sure that He is real or cares about you, He does. If I could sit with you over coffee, that is what I would want you to know. (And if you are from NYC, please say hello. I'd love to hear from you:)
Much love to you!
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Everyone Needs a Father

Image result for the intern movie

I've often heard the term "Spiritual Father" ( meaning a mentoring type, older godly man who will be a father figure to you ) and have been quite frankly, turned off. I would hear this term and think, "Why would you need that?"  But recently, I began thinking more about it.

I had a father, of course, but my dad passed away in 2011. 

Maybe you had a father, but not a dad. Maybe your father left your family and he was never a central figure in your life. Maybe your father was present in the home,  yet you never really knew him. If this is your experience at all, then a spiritual father (or if that term rubs you the wrong way like it did to me, then substitute with father-like figure) could be an immense support to you.

At times, I've felt faced with insurmountable problems and have really wished I had a dad to bounce things off of. A husband is great, but there is something about a father.

My husband talks with his dad daily. I often wish I could pick up the phone and just ask a dad a question on what I should do about any given circumstance.

I recently watched the movie, The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. I really loved it. The main reason was that I loved the father figure played by Robert De Niro. After seeing it about five different times, I told the Lord, "Okay, I wasn't interested in a father in my life, but now, just possibly, I could see myself with one. Could I order one exactly like Robert De Niro or, if he isn't too busy, could I just have Robert De Niro?" Yeah,I know that he was simply playing a part. But seriously, if there was such a thing as designing and placing an order for a man to be like a father to me ...he'd be it.

If you haven't seen the movie, here is a brief synopsis.

Ben Whitaker (Robert De Niro's character) is a 70 year old, retired widower. He seizes the opportunity to become a senior intern at an online fashion site. At first, his presence is considered humorous at best by his coworkers, but Ben soon becomes popular with his younger co-workers, except for Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), the boss and founder of the company. But in spite of her habit of keeping people out of her personal life, Ben's charm, wisdom, and sense of humor gradually helps him develop a special bond of friendship with Jules.

Image result for the intern movie

At first, Jules didn't want an intern at all. But in the midst of personal crisis and the stress of running a company, she and Ben develop a deep bond, becoming best friends. The internship progressed into a father/daughter relationship.

There are a couple of scenes from the movie that illustrate that father/daughter bond. In one part, Ben looks out the window and sees Jules' driver drinking from a paper bag. He goes directly down to the driver and strongly "suggests" he tell Jules that he would not be able to drive her anywhere today. The driver briefly resists, but Ben's face tells him that he means business. He was being her protector.

Another scene I like is where Jules is sharing a deep fear of her heart. I don't want to give anything away, but Ben's response is absolutely priceless.

I've prayed about a father figure, but honestly, I don't know if I've met this man yet. Sometimes, I feel like it's a case of, "There's no room at the inn." Any man that I may already know, could have a daughter already. Having another "daughter" could be an uncomfortable thing for them. I get that (and to be honest, that may be why I haven't asked someone yet).

 And there is always the true statement of, "God is your Father." Yes, that is true. But I don't think God feels threatened in His job description. I think He gets it.

Why would I like a father figure in my life? There are a few reasons.

1. Someone to talk to.
Having a husband to talk to is wonderful, but as I said before, there is something about     having a father to talk things over with. Right now, I feel like I am juggling so many responsibilities. There is home schooling, my son's appointments and health needs, my daughter's health's been a struggle trying to keep it all afloat and at times I wonder if I'm doing a good job at any of it. To hear a dad say to me, "You are doing an awesome job" - that would mean a lot.

2. Someone to listen.
I would love to have someone hear me out and redirect any areas in my thoughts that I might be getting a little off track about. When your thoughts are in your head alone, they can get kind of skewed. I would love to be able to bounce things off someone who was older and wiser than me. Their objectivity would be a God send.

3. Someone to be proud of me. 
Everyone needs a cheerleader. 
That is a little uncomfortable to type, but there it is. No matter how old you are - that approval can help you to keep going.

A few years ago, I was facing a hard time. It felt like I had nowhere to turn. Many times during that period, I wished I had a dad who would be at my door and just be there. No questions asked. He would just be there to listen, to advise, to help, to stand alongside me and walk through that time with me.

A protector, an ally, a friend. That would be an awesome thing.

Maybe in reading these last few lines, you can relate. Maybe there has been a void in your heart for many years in this area.

I have a hunch that many of you reading might be feeling the same way. My heart goes out to you if your dad was distant, unkind, or uncaring. That isn't the way God feels about you. You matter to Him. You aren't a mistake or a bother or a nuisance.

Many of you reading may have a hard time viewing God as a Father because of your earthly father. Maybe you felt you could never please your dad. Perhaps you had a father who was abusive. It can be hard to relate to God as a father when you are faced with memories of a dad who wasn't the man he should have been to you. But God can and is willing to be the dad you have been searching for. I believe that with you.

I like the verse that says God will be a "Father to the fatherless" (Psalm 68:5). Maybe God does send fathers to some, but to others, He wants to be that special Dad. That could be, I guess. Either way, I'm open to what God has in store.

I'll keep you posted!

Much love to you!

*FYI...As much as I loved the movie, there are a couple of scenes that wouldn't be appropriate for children.

Friday, August 5, 2016

God Gets Your Question Marks

School Teacher (Happy Birthday Miss Jones, Teacher's Surprise) Canvas Giclee:
Photo Source: Pinterest

I have a funny way of thinking a lot of times, I guess. Since I am a teacher, I will read something and will think about it from a teacher point of view.

This morning, I was thinking about ideas for practicing punctuation for a 10 year old. As I sat and thought about it, I felt  God suddenly and quite unexpectedly speak to my heart. Who would've thought? It didn't exactly seem like a God moment.

I felt like God said, "I'm interested in punctuation." It certainly wasn't what I was expecting God to say. I barely care about punctuation. Well, I do really. But why would God? It wouldn't seem to make the cut in the book Things God Cares About. 

But God definitely does have an interest in punctuation when it comes to our lives, if you think about it.

A lot of times I feel like there is a big question mark over my head in regards to my daughter's health and our little boy. (Our daughter has cerebral palsy and our son has a rare genetic disorder.)

There's always been a, "Why God?" in regards to Elisa and now, Nathaniel. I think I will always have the question, "Why? Just why?" 

I don't know. I may never know. I know that God sees that giant question mark in my heart. He isn't uncaring or distant. He sees and knows. He just hasn't answered in the way I would like. But I always (at least I try) to counteract that "Why" with the words, "I trust You. I know You. You are kind and good. I don't understand at all. But I know this about You. I can trust You." 

I think I can say that God and I are close friends.  I've said before that walking this dark and uncertain road with Him has caused me to draw close to Him. I'm afraid a lot of the times, but He walks very close with me always. Sometimes I've plopped down on the side of the road and said,"I'm stopping here. You go on without me." But He always waits until I sigh and get back up again. Where else would I go? And who else could I possibly walk with?

Sometimes we put a period where there shouldn't be one at all. We may think a chapter in our lives is done and finished. But God may not want a period there. 

period is a full stop. It marks the end of a sentence. It marks the end of an idea or a thought. It marks the end of an action.
Maybe it isn't time to place a period. God may have other ideas for you. You just don't know it yet. 

Instead of a period, perhaps there should just be a comma. A comma indicates a pause.  Maybe some time just needs to pass - time brings clarity and healing. I'd like to tell you that the pause won't be for long, but I couldn't promise you that. But I can say that where there is a pause, there is hope.

But when God thinks about you, whoever you are reading this right now, He definitely thinks of you with an exclamation mark. An exclamation mark signifies intensity of emotion. God doesn't think of you and think nothing. He takes great delight in you. The way you think, the way you look, the way you are an infinite joy and delight to Him, whether you think so or not. Maybe you think that God could never love you. Ask Him to show you the truth of how much He cares. The Bible says that God demonstrated His love for us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. But I think you can also ask God to show you how He feels about YOU. You are definitely an exclamation mark.

This was a strange train of thought, I guess.  If you think about it, God is interested in all kinds of things that we may not even think about. He loves science. He created our bodies, the planets, He hung the stars in the sky and calls them by name. The winds and the seas obey Him. Why wouldn't He have an interest in punctuation? :)

Punctuation in writing shows the intent of the author. In writing, you are not privy to the inflection of the speaker's voice or their body language. You have to use the punctuation as the guideline as to what the meaning of the words are.

 If someone forgets punctuation in their writing, it can change the entire meaning of what is being said.

Importance of a comma

We can look at our situations, but easily misinterpret the Divine intent behind it. We can look at circumstances and misunderstand what God is doing. Without punctuation, our writing is merely words that can be interpreted numerous ways. When you trust the heart of the Writer,  you can trust that His intent towards you is only good (and we know He doesn't mean to eat grandpa!)

Class, let's review:)

1. Don't put a period in too hastily. It may not be the end just yet. Allow God the final say in the matter.
2. A comma means a pause. Maybe God has you on the pause mode right now, but it won't last forever.
3. God can handle your question marks. He may answer your, "Why?" either directly or indirectly. But He also may remain silent on the matter. It's very possible.
4. You are definitely an exclamation mark to the One who loves you the most.

Hopefully, you will never look at an exclamation mark in the same way again!
Have a beautiful August, friend!

Linking up to:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

20 Simple Joys

I read a blog post about 40 Simple Pleasures in Life recently. That got me to thinking about the things that give me so much joy in my daily life. I didn't tackle 40, but chose to do 20 instead. So, here they are in no particular order.

1. Reading blogs/vlogs.  I have about 10 that I read daily and they just make me smile. Most of the blogs I read are written by thirtysomething moms with young children. A couple of examples are and .
I have a couple of vlogs that I really like, too.

2. Clean sheets at night

3. Rainy days

4. Sunsets. Occasionally, we've driven to a lake near our home and watched the sun setting over the water. I love that!

5. A Starbucks frappuccino - non fat white chocolate, hold the whipped cream.

6. Reading - It seems I don't always have time to read a book anymore, but when I do, I'm so happy. I read The Blue Castle by Lucy Maude Montgomery a few months back. It was such a sweet, old fashioned story.

I've also read Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist a couple of times. Some books just speak to your soul.

7. Sunday dinner. Everyone is home to eat together and I really like that:)

8. Mexican food.

9. Sephora (I could wander around in there for a long time.)

10. Pottery Barn (I could wander around an even longer time in here. If you need me during the fall months, I'm most likely in there.)

11. Home Goods (Any place that specializes in things for the home is a favorite for me.)

12.I love watching my little boy describe great sport moments to me. He's so into it. I have heard all about Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, and also every NFL player you can think of.

13. Going to TJ Maxx with my daughter, Caitlin.

14. Watching a good movie. I watched Guarding Tess (Nicholas Cage and Shirley Maclaine) recently. I had never seen it before and really loved the story. I happened to see a version that blocked the curse words, so just beware that there is some language.)

15. Taking walks with my husband or one of the kids

16. Cooking a southern meal - fried okra, corn on the cob, and ham, for example.

17. Cleaning house. I just love a clean house. If you do a little at a time, it can stay clean.

18. Snapchat. I like it so much better than Facebook.

19. Re-watching a movie or television show that makes me laugh out loud. On some days, you need a little pick me up. Two that come to mind are I Love Lucy and the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Even if I've seen it before, I'll still laugh like it's the first time I've ever seen it.

20. Costco. I don't know why exactly, but I love walking around Costco or Sam's Club!

That's my 20 things for July 2016. What are your favorite, simple things that you enjoy?

Linking up to:

Friday, June 17, 2016

Our Dining Room

Happy Friday! I'm linking up with for her Every Day Real Life Home Tours.

We don't use our dining room daily. We do use it when we have guests over, but it is especially on display at the holidays.

When we built this home, I remember walking through the dining room while it was still in the bare bones stage. As I walked through, I could "hear" the voices of my kids and their cousins running through the room and saying, "Hi, Aunt Kathy! or Mom!" It made me smile thinking of all the family holiday dinners we would have in that room. We've now lived in this beautiful house for nine years, so we have had many Thanksgiving and Christmas meals there.

This is our dining room from last Christmas.

Youth Progressive Dinner December 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Our daughter's graduation party

From my instagram November 2014

December 2012

I love this room and look forward to having family over each year. It means a lot to me that I'm helping to create wonderful memories for my children and their cousins each holiday season.

Linking to:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What's Up This Week

I hope you're having a great week! We finished up our school year today and I"m feeling pretty happy about that. This fall, I will have an 11th grader and a 5th grader! I started this homeschool journey about 20 years ago and although I have had four graduate, I still have a ways to go. What in the world will I do with my time when my 10 year old graduates? I have no idea.

I'm joining Mel, Shay, and Sheaffer for What's Up Wednesday (although mine is on Thursday!) . I read these girls every day and just love them.

Here's a few things that are happening right now in our household:)

1. What We're Eating - I've been trying to eat more healthy foods this month. As long as I have vegetables on hand, it hasn't really been a problem. I especially love stir frying some zucchini in olive oil with a little Parmesan cheese. It's so good!

Photo from

2. What I've Been Reminiscing About.  My youngest son, Nathaniel, and I have been talking about our love of holidays today. He told me his favorite time is Thanksgiving and watching Grandma set out her pies. He also likes to see his cousins come over that day.
3. What I've Been Loving  My daughter and I have been taking walks around the block each evening. It's so nice to finally have nice weather to enjoy that time together.
4. What We've Been Up To  Basically, we've just been busy finishing up school.
5.  What I've Been Dreading Our oldest daughter has cerebral palsy. She had hip surgery five years ago and hasn't had to have a surgery since. But now it looks as if she will have to have jaw surgery and it will be quite a recovery process. I've woken up at night dreading this procedure.
6. What I'm Excited About  I'm excited to not have to do school for the summer! Besides that, we don't have any trips planned at this time. I would love to go to New York, but I would always like to go to New York:) We'll have to save for a couple of years before we can go back.

Okay...I did think of a small thing I'm excited about.  I've just discovered Sephora! I've only ever bought drugstore makeup, but hey, that place is amazing! What do you like to buy there?
7. What I'm Watching/Reading I've been watching reruns of Fixer Upper and Downton Abbey. I love those two shows, but do wish I had another choice. Any suggestions? 
I've been reading this...

If you are interested in writing, I highly recommend this book.

I also saw this movie.
Image result for the man who knew infinity image
The Man Who Knew Infinity

It was an interesting, true story. Dev Patel is one of my favorite actors, so I would pretty much like anything he was in. It also stars Jeremy Irons.

8. What I'm Listening To  My little boy and I listen to the radio on our way to appointments.  Have you heard that song that (I think) is called 7 Years? Goodness, it makes me choke up. The other song that I've been loving (and crying over) is from For King and Country called Priceless. I think I've cried puddles over that song.

For King and Country

9. What I'm Wearing  I need to go shopping because I honestly can't figure out what I wore last summer! I did buy these pretty shoes, though.

10. What I'm Looking Forward To/ What I'm Doing on the Weekend  Memorial Day is coming up on Monday. I think we will be grilling and making ice cream. 

11. What's New? My niece's wedding is tomorrow night. It's hard to believe that time has passed so quickly! I remember when she was just a little thing running through our house. That will be a special time of celebration with her.
I hope your week has been a good one. It's hard to believe that June is so near. Of course, when June arrives, I always think the same thing....Christmas is only 6 months away! ha

Sending lots of love to each one of you!!

Linking up to:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Have You Ever Tried Striking a Bargain with God?

Photo Courtesy Pinterest
Have you ever been faced with such insurmountable problems that you don't know exactly what to do?

It's easy for others to give us advice. It may even be great advice. But unless they have been through some hard times themselves, words can often seem hollow, can't they? I like to listen to people who have passed through  deep waters.

I've mentioned before that we had twins born with cerebral palsy. One of our twins, Alex, passed away at the age of four. His twin sister, Elisa, is now 24 years old. She is having a crisis with her faith. She appreciates sincere people and their prayers, but essentially she has told us, "Enough is enough. I have to accept this condition that I have and not have people pray for me anymore." I do understand what she is saying. I don't fault her at all. It would be easy for me to say something like, "Oh, you shouldn't feel that way." But I don't live in her body and don't have to deal with the realities of her daily condition. At least, not in the way she has to.

It's hard for me as her mom. I've prayed for her countless times and will continue to do so. I know that God is bigger than cerebral palsy. I know also that sometimes people aren't healed, for whatever the reason. I don't want to live in an agitated state with God. I know how kind He is. I have to leave my questions with Him. I can trust Him, even in my darkest moments.

We also have a ten year old son who was diagnosed at the age of two with a rare, genetic disorder. At the time of this writing, he is the only one in the state of Iowa with this condition. There are a whole host of issues that are present with this diagnosis. There is also the possibility that his condition could worsen.

So, I've found myself at times bargaining with God. I'll say things like, "I'd like You to heal both of my children,but if I had to choose one, I would have to say Nathaniel. Elisa's condition won't worsen as much as his could, so please heal Nathaniel."

It's funny how I would think that God would require me to choose. I guess after all these years of not seeing Elisa get better, I feel the need to strike a bargain.  I can imagine God saying back to me, "Do you really think I would force you to make a choice? Do you think I'm like that?"

No, I don't really believe God is forcing me to make a choice, but it can seem that way sometimes.

I've went round and round with this situation in my mind. Oftentimes, I am busy with school or things at home.  I will just have fleeting thoughts about the whole situation. At other times, I'm filled with such sadness.

Sometimes, when I'm walking down the stairs in our home, I'll say, regarding Elisa, as my foot touches step one, "If for some reason healing is not in her future, for whatever the reason, could You just heal her hip?" When my foot touches step two.... "Could You heal her feet?", then on step three..."Could You maybe heal her hands?" God must often wonder about how stingy I seem to think He could be.

His love and compassion are limitless. I'm bound by what I see or don't see so much of the time. If I don't see it, then it must not be happening. If I do see something, then, "Whew, what a relief. I thought You might have forgotten me." Sometimes the pathway is so smooth and beautiful. I can rest and take in all the sights around me. But other times, the road is so rocky. I have to carefully watch my steps. I fall down and cry and wonder if God is near.

 My walk with God reminds me so much of one of my favorite books, Hinds Feet on High Places. The main character, Much Afraid, has told the Chief Shepherd (Jesus) that she will follow Him anywhere, no matter the cost. But she is disheartened at His choice of Guides to accompany her on the journey - Sorrow and Suffering. She shrinks away from them at first, but the path is so hard that she ends up reaching for their hands. As time goes on, she finds that not only has she changed, but her name has changed as well. Her two Guides have also been transformed and at last, she has reached the High Places.

No one ever said our journey would be without a cost.

As moms, we begin a journey with our children. At first we are their provider and protector. We kiss and hug away all the hurts. We wipe noses, read books together, take walks, and watch countless episodes of Sponge Bob.

But then, it begins to change.

Now, I'm not sure what my job is anymore. Sometimes I don't know what to do either.  I can't make these situations, like Elisa's, better at all.

I can only speak the truth of who God is to them and to myself.

Even when I look up at the sky and wonder, too, if God is really there, if He really hears me, if He is aware of me and my children.

Yes, He is there. Yes, He really cares. Even when I am unaware of Him, He is beside me. Everyday He gives me strength to accomplish all the tasks I have to do in regards to their care. Sometimes at the end of the day, I'm even a little surprised at all I have done that day. But it isn't me at all. I know that all the credit goes to God and His loving care over me.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8)

All the tears I have are remembered by and will continue to be remembered by God. The things that cause us to cry are noted by God and collected by God. My tears and your tears are precious to Him. Maybe He pulls out the bottle one day and remembers those tished mes with us. Maybe He shows us how He was present when we cried. I don't know. But I know that everything He does has a purpose for our good.

Whatever you may be facing today, you aren't alone. I pray today that God will show you how He is there with you. Maybe this is the darkest and loneliest time you have ever faced. Maybe you are wondering if God is even there and if He is there, does He really care about me?  He really is there and He really does care about you and everything that has to do with you.

Part of the reason that I am writing down these thoughts is for the sake of remembrance. One day, if Elisa were healed, I will reread these lines and remember. 

Whether Elisa is healed or isn't doesn't lessen the importance of who she is in our home. It's not that I won't be happy unless she is healed. It's just that I believe that God is a God of healing. It is part of His name and part of His character. The Bible is full of instances where Jesus had compassion on people who could not walk and healed them. I don't hold a magic ball or have some inside track of God's plan. But I do believe in and won't change my mind about His kindness.

And so, maybe, one day I will read these words again, but the circumstances will have changed in an incredible way.

Until then, I believe God is who He says He is. I believe He is aware of me and my tears. I believe He knows what He's doing. I believe He is walking with me and daily giving me strength and grace. I believe He loves me far beyond what I am aware of at this moment in time.

He isn't bound by time and circumstance. He calls things that are not as though they are.