At almost four years old, my little boy zooms around the house in a cape and yells "Super hero to the rescue!" When I bring home groceries he proclaims, "I'm strong! I can carry that for you Mom!" And goes to grab the biggest box in the trunk. He loves to test his ever growing strength by wrestling with his Daddy. When he can tell that I'm distraught, he pats my back and tells me,"Don't worry Mom. Dad and I will protect you." He's my little Super Man and he melts my heart. He's my gift from God. We are overjoyed to announce that God is sending him a sidekick this spring.
One day you will learn that Superman was the figment of imagination of two teenage boys in the 1930's. You'll realize that Star Wars is fun, but fake. I pray that someday you will grow up and put childish things away and find true heroes. Men who really lived. My sons, may you make these men your role models-
Have limitless faith like Abraham. When things seem impossible, know that all things are possible through Him.
Know how to apologize and forgive like Jacob and Esau. Brothers are a gift. Take care of each other.
Listen to your elders and take their advice like Moses listened to his Father-in-Law Jethro. Listen to your Dad, Grandpas, Uncles and Pastors. They are good men. Follow in their footsteps.
Choose your friends wisely like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Stick together. It's easier to take a stand when your friends are holding you accountable.
When others mock your faith, keep believing and obeying like Noah. God will keep his promises.
Persevere and live with integrity like Joseph. Do the right thing even when it's hard and it seems like no one is looking. God sees all.
Be humble and give wise counsel like Mordechai. Be aware of world events and act on behalf of those in your care. Know others are watching your example.
Do not try to live on your own strength and abilities. Know that the joy of the Lord is your strength and point to God as the source of your talents like Sampson ultimately did.
Face your giants with courage knowing God is the one who fights your battles like David. Like him, be a man after God's own heart. Live your life after his lead and care for the weak like David took care of Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth.
May God give you wisdom like Solomon. Don't ever be afraid to ask for guidance from God. Read, memorize and apply the book of Proverbs.
Be like Boaz. May you earn the respect of your co-workers and neighbors and respond generously to those in need. Love each member of your family well.
Bravely take on big, God-size challenges and stand back and watch God do the impossible like Elijah. But know that Elijah needed food, sleep and rest. You need this too. Eat healthy, exercise, brush and floss, go to bed at a decent time, nap...take care of yourself. You are a temple of the Living God.
Superman had his weakness. Kryptonite was his downfall. These biblical men were far from perfect. Some lied, cheated, some committed adultery and others murder...They were sinners. But they all believed in the one true God. Their lives and stories pointed to the ultimate Hero- our Savior, our Redeemer- Jesus.
When you struggle with pride or frustration with life, wrestle with God like Jacob.
When you question God's plans and directions, inquire him like Gideon and praise him like Job.
When you doubt the faith, test the evidence like Thomas.
Speak truth boldly like Peter and Paul. Encourage others like Barnabas. Hold unswervingly to the faith, no matter the cost, like Stephen.
Know that these heroes really lived. Follow their lead. All of these men are heroes of faith. My prayer is that you will both be counted among them.
A little over a week ago I threw my lower back out. Bad! It was literally crippling at first. After a few days of being completely out of commission, my crowning glory grew to being able to make three cups of hot cocoa and getting through an entire shower.
Mobility is returning gradually and I have been able to introduce more normal activities slowly each day. I celebrate these moments!
Last Friday, my dear friend, Kathy, accompanied me to Costco to help me with the stooping and lifting as I pushed and leaned on the cart. I could have washed that woman’s feet! I must say, I have recently fallen in love with grocery carts and have a whole new appreciation for them!
As we sauntered down the cereal aisle we passed by some boxes of Annie’s Toaster Pastries.
Me: “Toaster Pastries!”
Kathy: “Annie’s too!”
Me: “Healthy Toaster Pastries!”
Me: “ No! I must resist. We are watching our spending to pay for Sheppard’s schooling and conquer debt. Toaster Pastries are not a necessity.”
We head on down the aisle and turn onto the next aisle where low-and-behold a Costco worker was stocking shelves, and what was one of the items waiting patiently to be stocked? You guessed it! Annie’s boxes of Toaster Pastries.
I shot Kathy an “Oh!” look.
Me: “Must resist.”
We then make our way to the following aisle and wouldn’t you know? God sent an angel in the form of a young man who was serving samples of…. Yes! …. Annie’s Toaster Pastries!
Me: “It’s a sign.”
Kathy: “ Yes, it is.”
Me: “ Three times now.”
Kathy: “ Yes.”
Me: “ Three….Trinity….. I’m supposed to buy these Toaster Pastries.”
Kathy, bursts out laughing.
So, yes, I left Costco that beautiful, sun-shiny rays from heaven, September day with a lovely, brightly colored box of Healthy Annie’s Toaster Pastries.
As I relayed my (ahem) “God-led” journey to Annie’s Toaster Pastries to my husband, Mark, he responded with a laugh, “ Now, that is quirky faith!”
A couple months ago a dear friend of mine and her husband were on the final lap for preparing to move to the other side of the country. 3,107 miles to be exact. Due to schedule conflicts and such I was unable to make it to their sending off party and the sending prayer moment our church family had for them.
“What kind of friend am I!?” I critically thought to myself. Yet, I felt no strong conviction that I had failed in my spirit. Just guilt… Pure guilt.
Monday arrived and I felt this strong inkling that I was to drive to a favorite local farm nearby and pick up a box of green beans. I had experienced canning beans for the first time last summer and they were so much yummier than store bought that I was determined to do so again this summer. Healthier for my family too!
In spite of other things I felt pressed to do that day, I had such an overwhelming feeling that today was the day! I decided to follow through. I am so glad I did.
No sooner had I gotten back home when our doorbell rang. I opened the door to find my dear friend standing there. Although she smiled, her face looked frazzled and stressed. “We are leaving tomorrow and I wanted to stop by and see if I could just hang with you. I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye.” “We were supposed to leave Friday, but then all kinds of things seemed to start going wrong.” “ My husband encouraged me to take a break today and just get away from it all. So I came to see you and then have lunch with another friend of mine in an hour.”
Me: “ I am so glad you did! I was just about to snap green beans, would you like to join me? I heard it said that, “Part of the problem with the world today is no one snaps green beans with grandma anymore.” Come join me for some ‘Green Bean Therapy’.”
I thought to myself, “She is going to think I am so cooky for suggesting such a thing. However, A)She already knows I’m cooky anyway and B) It just seemed like the right thing to invite her to do.
“Yes! I would love to! That sounds wonderful! I used to snap green beans with my mother when she would can and it was always so relaxing.”
So, to the back porch we commenced, snapping and chatting away. It was a beautiful sun-shiny day and we had so much fun.
After only an hour, my friend had to leave for her lunch commitment and the last of her moving preparations. “This is exactly what I needed. I feel so much better now. Thank you.”
It totally made my day to see the shine return to my friend’s face and the cloud completely lifted off of her. I hugged her tight goodbye and felt my heart ache and tears well up in my eyes as she drove off. I was happy for her new adventure, yet a bit selfishly-sad to know she was going to be leaving for so far away.
I learned something that day. There truly is a difference between guilt and conviction; between following God’s leading and giving in to the expectations I have for myself or worry of what others will think.
If I had followed my guilty feelings for not attending the party and prayer send-off and gone anyway, my friend would have never have had a reason to stop by in the first place. God knew she was going to need that, somehow. Imagine that!”
If I had ignored the conviction of going to buy green beans that day, passing it off as, “Surely, God wouldn’t advise me to go do something so mundane as going to buy green beans.”, I wouldn’t have had the very thing my friend needed to give her a second wind and boost her spirits.
So, never underestimate the power of the “mundane” in your life. Grab yourself a bowl of green beans, and a loved one, and start snapping! Therapy is now in session!
Ever have a flashback as you are doing something mundane and random like drying your hair for the day?
My mind beamed back to several years ago, when I use to homeschool our oldest daughter, Amberly. We would meet with a handful of other homeschoolers at our church on Fridays for a season. It would be a time of studying and receiving tutoring if it was needed.
One of the other mothers, who was fluent in Spanish, had offered to tutor our daughter in her Spanish.
I distinctly remember one Friday when our daughter was in a room with her tutor and another mom was in a different room helping her daughter with her studies. I was in charge of the room with 4 other students to monitor them as they worked on their studies.
It was extremely quiet and studious in that room. I was rather impressed. Then, one of the boys asked to go talk to his mother with some help he was needing on his lesson. I said, “Sure. Go for it.”
Soon, one of the girls asked to go see her mother who was tutoring her little sister to ask her a question. Again, “Sure!’
The room remained quiet this entire time. The remaining boy appeared deep into his book as is all I could see was the crown of his head and his eyebrows above the horizon of his book that he had standing up on end.
Soon, his sister, who was sitting beside him, asked if she could go to use the bathroom. “Okay.” I said. It seemed like a reasonable request to me.
The room was quiet… so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Just me and Nick, sitting on opposite sides of the table. No one had returned as the minutes ticked on.
Then, suddenly, from behind the book, a voice spoke, in Nick’s “Spock-like” logical fashion of speaking. Again, nothing but the tip of his head and eyebrows showing…. “It would appear that the population of this room is diminishing.”
I about fell out of my chair in giggles. He was very much aware of what was going on and in perfect timing, said the perfect thing that totally broke the silence.
You ever have those seasons where you read the Bible and read the Bible and read the Bible and pray and pray and all you feel is silence? Nothing is zinging in your spirit. No great revelations are being revealed to address the deepest concerns of your mind and heart.
Don’t give up! Because Someone is indeed paying attention behind the Book! And in His perfect timing He will speak the words that will cut through the silence and bring the breakthrough you have been aching for.
There is someone watching behind the Book!
FIGHTING IN TANDEM
It started out well. We hauled our kayak down to the river and set in on a warm afternoon. I took my seat in the front, my husband pushed off and hopped in the back. We paddled out onto the water, the sun glistening on the surface. Boats cruised in the distance, kids splashed along the shoreline. We paddled in sync, riding the waves from boat wakes as we neared the middle of the channel.
Then I heard him say something like, “where are you going?”. Huh? We were in a tandem kayak, I couldn’t be headed a different direction than him, that’s kind of not possible. Clearly I was heading upstream like we always did but I paused to turn halfway to ask him what he was talking about. He said something like, “well you’re paddling heavy on the right and skipping strokes so I don’t know where you’re heading.” Excuse me? I defended my synchronous and even paddling strokes and said something like, “I wasn’t favoring the right side and I didn’t realize I was skipping any strokes…” Silence. It was at that point that I rested the paddle across my lap and just sat there.
He realized I wasn’t helping us get anywhere any time soon, we were paddling upstream and we had a headwind. He asked something like, “what’s the problem? Just stop steering us to the left and we’ll be fine” (I’m summing up the best I can from memory). Well since I didn’t realize I had been steering us to the left I got rather annoyed. I started paddling again rather vigorously, proving that I was indeed good at steering perfectly straight (thank you very much). After a few minutes, I noticed a huffing sound behind me. I glanced over my shoulder to see him paddling robustly. I asked, “why are you working so hard?”. His response indicated that I had been steering us to the left (again) and he was paddling harder opposite of me to keep us on course. Are you kidding me? I tried defending myself again, but he couldn’t hear me as I paddled and faced forward. My voice was lost in the wind. I stopped paddling and turned to speak.
He was getting frustrated because I could hear him but he couldn’t hear me. I was frustrated because I could hear him but I couldn’t be heard. I rested the paddle on my lap again and sat fuming. I was stuck on a kayak arguing with someone and couldn’t get away. So much for fight or flight. Maybe when you’re on the water it’s fight or float. After a minute, he asked what was wrong. He didn’t ask it in a snide way, but in an innocent-he-really-didn’t-know-what-my-problem-was kind of way. I realized he wasn’t at fault; I was just getting grumpy because I felt like my form was being critiqued as he sat behind me. He had the best vantage point and was honestly just trying to tell me what he saw me doing.
I sighed. I told him I was sorry, I was trying my best and to let me know if I needed to paddle in a different way. He paused from paddling and said that the current could be giving us trouble, along with the wind and that I was doing a good job. We just needed to keep working together to keep moving forward. Each time I had stopped paddling it slowed us down and made him work harder.
We both dug our paddles in the water and cruised upriver.
Working together, heading the same direction, enjoying our time in tandem.
This wasn’t our first kayak trip. It started out just like all the others as it was a great, but windy day. We packed up our gear, got the kayak on top of the jeep, and headed down to the Columbia. We carted the kayak and gear down to the river and set off. It started like all the others with great scenery and my beautiful wife. Our kayaking skills are improving and we are getting more comfortable working together so we can enjoy what this wonderful area has to offer. It such a blessing that my wife is willing to try new adventures and experience new blessings.
Almost immediately after setting off, I noticed something different. We were veering to the left more than usual. The wind and the current has a big part of this, but something seemed off. Since I was responsible for steering, I tried to correct by paddling harder on the left to force us more to the right. This is not uncommon as my wife has wanted to do some subtle steering to be clear of “hazards” that might be a mile a way. But again, this was different. I was increasingly putting in more and more effort to correct our position. I was audibly getting very winded and losing energy. Finally the non-verbal communication was kicking in and my wife was wondering what the big problem was.
I have never had great hearing nor a good memory, but chemotherapy in 2013 really hindered these key areas. Paddling up stream, in the wind, being anaerobic from correcting our steering, and my lovely wife facing away from me, hearing her is a very, very large challenge for me. Even though I can only see her pony tail, back muscles and her paddle, I noticed that she was getting very frustrated as well. She said something very important, but all I could hear was like the teacher’s voice from Charlie Brown. I paused for a few seconds to try use my best algorithms to make out what she said. My calculations ended up with “cannot divide by zero”. I said “I’m sorry, but I can’t hear you.
With her sharp head-turn to the left and the pony tail flailing around, I heard “I SAID!!!!!!!…..” and then something very important…that I don’t remember. What I do remember is my head slouching low and feeling like was I a beaten puppy.
Then the kayak trip got a lot better. But why? After decades of being together, we know how to resolve conflict really well. It is amazing how things can escalate quickly and how our perceptions can be totally different. Just after a few minutes, we were able to understand what the other person was going through and we were able to have another great trip.
impact people and would people even care to hear what I had to say?"
Mindy told me I should write something.
When I sit and think about my life I don't think I have anything good to offer others that would be encouraging.
I'm a worrier big time.
I think this started when I was a kid and had to deal with the uncertainty that was always around me.
We moved a lot not just a few times but at least 8 times that I can remember.
I have one stuffed animal and a pair of my baby shoes from my childhood. We were always on the move and our posessions were always sold. I never stayed in one school long enough to play sports or do activities. We were always packing up and moving. I finally stayed in one place for 5 years when I moved in with my Grandmother. I was in 8th grade. It was the first time I stayed at one school for more than a year.
I was saved at age 14 and found God.
I loved church and youth group saved me from getting into a lot of trouble.
All I knew was dysfunction. I had an alcoholic parent and the other was in and out of my life. I saw how families stayed together and I wanted that sooo bad! I knew my family would be different when I got married. BOY did that one blow up in my face!
Fast forward a bit, I got married and life became stable. I had a decent job in banking and I was happy. I felt safe and secure, but for some reason when it came to my health I always worried. Any time something was wrong I was convinced i was going to die. I still feel this way. I think it's gotten worse since my divorce and ex-husband has remarried. I feel like I'm going to fade away. My kids have a new Mom. I'm not good enough. I can't give them the family they deserve. How am I going to survive financially? I can't give my kids all the things I wanted.
Now I know this sounds doom and gloom.
Hang with me for a sec.
I'm not perfect.
I sin from time to time. I don't always get it right. I get sad and I cry on occasion. I'm not the perfect parent and I think I get it wrong more than I get it right.
I always remember at the end of the day that God is good and he is always working on me.
I spent this last month worrying a lot about a spot on my foot that turns out is probably a bruise. I stressed about this pretty much every day and started planning my funeral. I know this sounds a bit nutty but when I think about my past it starts to make sense.
What I want people to know is that I am aware that I need to trust God more.
I need to rely on him and not worry so much.
Matthew 6:31 says " There for do not worry saying "what shall we eat?", What shall we drink?" Or "What shall we wear?" And Matthew 6:34 "Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble."
I heard about a man who was worried he would get cancer. There was a big family history associated with the disease and he worried and worried he would get it and die from it. It turned out that he did not get cancer but had a heart attack and died. Now isn't that a kicker? In the end the stress of his worry killed him anyway! This story brought a little perspective to my worrying.
Am I going to stop worrying tomorrow? Probably not.
Am I aware I need to work on myself and rely on God? YES!
There is a song by Jasmine Murray called "Fearless". I hear that song and I say to myself "That is what I want to be!" I want to be fearless!! I need to spend more time living my life instead of worrying about it.
God has always taken care of me and I know he always will!
Summer! When, I think of vacations and well, social media is full of amazing vacations some probably cost a lot and some maybe we made a budget or it was a gift. Sometimes, even when we don’t mean to we make assumptions about what others are doing because maybe we are trying so hard and we just can’t or maybe we have different priorities right now.
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Galatians 6:4-18 NIV
We all have different resources and priorities. God has challenged me to make my life mine and not compare or make assumptions. I try so hard to be forever determined to be Christ like. To be obedient with what his plan is. We need to be intentional, to not to confirm to this world. Let us not pull put the credit cards or spend all of God's money on a few days of rest, when you can make memories and rest, using our resources wisely. God does instruct to rest. Maybe your staycation, vacation isn’t a week long, maybe it’s not even a day. However, whatever it is make it amazing for you.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so, on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2
Now your idea of fun, memories, rest are going to look different from anyone else is because there yours. Let’s take the Beach! I live in Kansas and the beach is not in my budget right now, but I can find a local lake and maybe bring a CD of ocean music, maybe invest in a bag of sand, some sand toys and a blanket and instant beach. Can’t get to a lake, how about beach in the backyard kiddie pool, sand, beach towel umbrella and music. Relaxing day at the Beach and you didn’t even have to leave your home.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
What about a taking a day drive with no itinerary and see what adventures you can find. Have you ever taken a trip to your home town visitors center? Take a day and act like a tourist. Check out Google, You Tube, Pinterest, local library, and of course your visitor’s center are great resources. Key words to search are Staycations, or Vacation on a budget.
The possibilities are endless.
Jurassic Park 3ology
When Jurassic Park first hit theaters in 1993, I was senior in high school. I saw it and loved it. So, I saw it again. And again. Six times I went to that terrific film. So, naturally, when the sequels come out, I had to see them as well. With the exception of Jurassic World, they did not live up to their predecessor, but they were still enjoyable. Throughout the series, the gist of the story remains the same: Dinosaurs are alive and well and living in a protected environment, something bad happens and the dinosaurs attack. Pretty straight forward. No matter how prepared the humans think they are for any potential problem, unexpected things catch them off-guard. What the character of Ian Malcom calls ‘chaos’.
There is a moment in Jurassic Park III where Alan Grant’s assistant, Billy, picks up two velociraptor eggs as souvenirs. Raptors have been established throughout the films as highly intelligent and vicious. Grant discovers the stolen eggs and is immediately concerned that the raptors are going to come looking for them. He holds them over a cliff and is about to drop them when he pauses. He decides not to drop them but instead puts them in his backpack. A member of his party worriedly says, “Those things are still after us. What if they catch us with them?” to which Grant replies, “What if they catch us without them?” Chaos.
We all go through life pretty content, thinking that we are more-or-less ready for any potential problem. We protect our kids, we lock our doors, we get insurance, we wear our seat belts. But every once in a while, unexpected things catch us off-guard. Maybe the doctor calls with bad news, maybe you lose a loved one, or get betrayed by a friend or spouse. Chaos.
Faith in God is the one thing in our lives that remains constant. When things go off the rails, he doesn’t. When life throws chaotic events at us, he remains firm. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I recently had a very difficult year. Unexpected things happened to me and nothing went as I expected. I spent hours in prayer and conversation with God. Joy, sadness, anger, disgust, worry, and every other emotion not in Inside Out were wrapped up in those prayers. When chaotic times come up for a Christian, they have two options: Blame God for letting them down, or turn to God to help them through it.
Let me assure you… Trouble WILL come. No ifs, ands, or buts. The raptors WILL find you. What if they catch you without God? The peace that God provides in times of trouble is priceless. I could have suffered through that year blaming God, and ignoring his comforting presence. But leaning on him and trusting him to get me through changed my year from ‘chaotic’ to ‘doable.’
There is no doubt in mind that when the raptors came into my life, I had what I needed. I had the love of a never-changing, hope-giving, joy-providing God. I’m so glad I kept him with me.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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