An Open Heart

I recently posted about having an open heart and asked readers what that phrase meant to them. You had some wonderful responses! First15 is a ministry with an app and a website that recently asked that very question.

Below is the link to their daily 15- minute devotional on having an open heart:

First15 Having an Open Heart

What are your thoughts after reading this?

For those who are interested in learning more about First15, here is the description of their ministry:
A growing relationship with God comes when you experience Him daily. Christians know the importance of a daily quiet time consisting of Bible reading and prayer, yet many struggle with finding a devotional resource that is both easy to understand and relatable to daily life. We write new devotionals each day consisting of Scripture, reflection, prayer, musical worship, and a call to action. Thousands of readers each month use our content to discover God in a deeper way, and it’s changed their lives.


National Reconciliation Day

For twenty-six years I have celebrated today as one of my life’s greatest miracles. Infertility issues that were misdiagnosed and mistreated until a friend’s education on endometriosis led to a new doctor and an accurate diagnosis. It was widespread but I was hopeful surgery would bring the end goal of having another child.

Life rarely goes as planned and another year with more medication did not produce the pregnancy I longed for. My daughter had gone from asking for a sister to saying a brother would even be great. Out of the mouth of a 4-year old, right? I sat down one night to explain that sometimes when we pray God says yes. Sometimes the answer is not yet. Sometimes the answer is no and the doctor said we were at that point. I would find out soon that my miracle baby was forming in my womb as I spoke those words to his sister.

God’s grace and mercy … Such rich reconciliation!

It was wonderful to learn that today is the National Reconciliation Day as I celebrate his birthday today. We had such a wonderful conversation recently as I feebly tried to share how much I appreciate his grace extended towards me as I have fumbled and stumbled through the passages of motherhood.

Reconciliation begins with God but there is also reconciliation between family, between friends.

I am reminded of a friend’s wisdom to love with an open heart. Reflect on that brief sentence for a moment. What does it mean to you to love with an open heart and how might it change some of your relationships today?

Below are some thoughts on definitive steps that can help in the process of forgiveness and reconciliation:

When your reconciliation doesn’t reconcile

Below are some thoughts on National Reconciliation Day for you to consider:

National Reconciliation Day

I would love to hear your thoughts. What has been successful for you in reconciling a relationship?

Happy birthday, Avril. I thank God for you and your sister every day. ❤

My Last Supper

Have you experienced a time of deep betrayal by someone close to you? A time when you let someone into your life, trusting them with the most intimate details? Out of the dark, like a thief, trust is broken. How do you respond? Can you ever trust again?

Have you experienced the sorrow of a Last Supper betrayal in your life?

It is sometimes suggested that Judas Iscariot was not a friend of Jesus, based on his decision to betray Christ. Yet Scripture says he was. Judas was called by Jesus to be one of the twelve disciples, and was present with him up to His final hours of life.

We too sometimes allow people into our lives that will sell us out at our hour of great intimacy. You’ve no doubt witnessed a breakup over dinner at a restaurant. Unless you are sadistic, it is painful to watch. Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end. The Last Supper truly began the greatest breakup ever.

That isn’t the rest of the story for those of us who place our hope in Christ. I have failed Him, and I will fail Him. The beautiful promise of the Cross is the Rest of the Story.

If you would like to know more about this Savior I write about, I would love to share more. My story is weaved through years of this blog but one thing stays true: He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

For God so loved the world that he gavehis one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

Needle in the Haystack

I spent my earliest years living in the country, surrounded on every side by a farm. I was always fascinated by them from early years, perhaps because they were literally just beyond the fence. I dare not cross past the electrical wires but we had a wonderful neighbor who would show up with treats in his pocket for us after he had finished his work. The silo for the grain has been gone since I was a young child but the image remains of the farmer’s hard labor in the hot summer days as we probably drove him crazy! I can only imagine the Frisbees, basketballs and barbies that were buried under the tilling of the combine, never to be seen again.Van Gogh Haystack

Van Gogh captured the scene of a haystack so wonderfully when he painted ‘Haystacks in Provence’ in 1888. You can learn more about the history of this painting here. 

What do you think of when you see this scene, what are the first things that grab your attention? I see a number of things, in no specific order:

  • the haystacks – What will the hay be used for? Was it a successful harvest for the farmer?
  • the ladders – Who is climbing them and why?
  • the woman working in the field – How old is she? Is she hired labor or part of the family? Why is she out there?
  • the gorgeous sky – What time of year is it? Where is the location if this is all I know about the painting?
  • the home in the background – Who lives there? Where is everyone else? Is it a happy family? Is it a family at all?

I could continue with the questions but I think you get the idea. You can use some small bits of information along with a very active imagination to get the answers to your questions but the facts lie squarely in the past. I enjoy art history greatly, so much that one of the last classes I took in college was French art history from the late 1800’s. I don’t have the answers to my questions, I merely want to enjoy the techniques and rich colors of the painting. Every one of us would have different questions and different answers if we get focused on answers that aren’t meant to be found.

Sometimes we look for the proverbial needle in the haystack for so long that we miss the beauty that is right in front of us today. History has a great deal to teach us, do not misunderstand my message.

If my speech and thoughts are more peppered with yesterday than today, I am not learning from history. I am living in history rather than living in the present.

Are you looking for answers from your past? My goal from the inception of this blog has been to point you to the Alpha and Omega, the only history that really matters. The needle in the haystack? It may have been demolished with the silo many decades ago. The Everlasting to Everlasting will not fail you.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Rev. 1:8

“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. – Is. 44:6





Love to Lysa TerKeurst

RemodelingI am in the middle of some remodeling at my house, and it is a bit like watching a picture of what is going on in my life. Walls coming down, walls going up. Rooms gutted and rebuilt, hiding the horrors of what has been described as the ugliest bathroom ever by my remodeling company. Hey, everyone is a winner at something!

The decision on what to gut in the house was made many years ago when the house was initially purchased at a great price and determined to be a good investment. The decision on how to gut it…well, that has been a process. I need to be wise with my pennies so every decision is evaluated for  its best long-term value  for the house.

In the same way, I am remodeling my own life as well. I have put out a blueprint for where I want to be in the next five years. I have created goals and have lists within those goals so they aren’t simply lofty ideas. Some of those goals include what I want my relationships to look like, both personal and professional. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it?

During one step of the remodeling, they were tearing down a bathroom wall to replace a tub. I couldn’t help but notice the plumbing had completely disappeared and framing had gone up in its place. Guys…I still need a shower over the new tub going in. It turns out that some major errors were made in a previous remodeling of this bathroom. The plumbing for the shower was never attached to a stud but rather stayed in place with heavy amounts of spray-in foam insulation . Pulling that out took an entire day when it should have been about 30 minutes and  it destroyed any opportunity to reuse the materials. I look at that empty wall and it is a reminder that not everything is salvageable and sometimes you can’t see what is really going on behind a wall. Now I know why the shower was leaking.

Some leaks originate at the source, some near the end. Every leak needs to be repaired or replaced, whether in a house or in a relationship. Wisdom is knowing the best decision for the long haul.

I am thankful for the new walls, new paint, and new plumbing going in. I am far more thankful for God’s grace that has opened doors for new friendships, new ministry opportunities, and continual remodeling of my heart to look more like the heart of Christ. The remodeling in my house has a time frame of a few months. The remodeling in my heart? That will last until my last breath. I am a work in progress and thankful for God’s grace.

 By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. – Proverbs 24:3-4

*Thank you to Lysa TerKeurst for being a role model in the remodeling process of life.



You’re stronger than you know

You’re Gonna Be Okay

If someone could have written a song to me last year, the year before, this would be it. Battles? I had many.

I didn’t write much – not because I didn’t have a lot to say but Proverbs 17:27 says,

A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.

What could I say? I was grieving multiple deaths of immediate family members. My marriage of 30+ years was… well, what was it? I’m still not sure. I thought there was a lot of love but there was a cavernous room full of deception. I am not here to discuss that, nor will I ever. I was engulfed by sorrow on every side. 

Would I make it? 

I had a choice to make. Would I believe that God was who He said He was, or would I flee in my times of trouble and go my own way? Was I truly convinced He was my all in all when I had nothing? Zero in the checking account, no money coming in, all the bills were mine and no one to fall back on. Is God I Am? 

When your back is against the wall and you only have Him or yourself as an option, which do you choose? Choose the author and finisher of life, the ONE who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above ALL that you could ever ask or imagine. He longs to help, if you will only ask Him. 

A year ago, emotionally I was in the ICU and didn’t see a date of being released. I am so thankful for those who prayed for me, praying me out of the hospital, out of my emotional rehab, and I am happy to report that the Lord truly is my Healer. I am better spiritually, mentally, and in every area than I have been in years. 

Whatever you are struggling with today, don’t give in to the temptations of your enemy. Nothing, absolutely nothing lasts forever on this side of eternity. Hold onto God. It gets better. I promise. 

When Two Become One Become Two Again

I’ve been very quiet on my blog this year. That was intentional. I was waiting. Waiting on God. What will happen? Where are we headed? What do I say, not say, to whom? You can’t rush God’s timing and I knew from the outset of this year that I needed Him. Oh, I would have said that most of my life. But this year I learned what it means to be 

Desperate For God 

That point in your life where you truly cannot make a decision, you have no Plan B, you have Him… And discover it’s the best place in the world to be. 

I will offer some insight into the year, but we each have our own journey. January 9th, my beloved brother succumbed to the effects of cancer after a brief but ferocious battle. He was private about his health so it was never a part of this blog in words. The music I posted in 2015? Bedtime lullabies to get me to sleep as I prayed for him and his family from afar through my tears. 

I was nearly inconsolable but did realize that my husband of 30 years – yea! – was experiencing some of his own physical issues. An odd barrage of symptoms that collectively did not make sense. No amount of pleading could get him to see his doctor. No one was more blindsided than me when he asked for a divorce in mid-April. 

What happened next could only be imagined by a very good story writer or my worst enemy as things spiraled out of control. 

I think I took my next breath in August and began to feel the air around me. It felt good to be out for lunch with my precious mother, time that I now treasured even more. It was not to last, as she experienced a setback with her own health issues. 

So what have I learned? I am STILL overwhelmed by the joy that the Lord can bring despite some of the worst circumstances of life. My grandmother used to sing a song that began, “Count your blessings, name them one by one…” So that was my mission every day. 

I was in a house with almost no income, all the bills, and the pantry was almost empty. At the lobby where my mother lives, they always have a fresh platter of cookies. I quickly learned to visit at lunchtime so my cookie was lunch nearly every day. I will always remember this time of provision of food! 

I prayed immediately upon finding out the full picture of what I was facing. I said, “Lord, I don’t even know what I need! Help me to know what I need.” Immediately two words came to me: wisdom and discernment. They have been my guiding words. I needed to have someone girding me with prayer. Here is how I knew I had entrusted the right person – they were praying for my husband when they knew of his stronghold. Sin is messy but God’s grace and love can clean up any mess that has been made. It may look different afterwards, but it is so worth it.

The third thing I learned surprised me the most. People who don’t know your situation, or worse, choose to believe things completely contrary to your character may judge you. They may betray you. It may be those you least expect. Guess what? Yup, you get to forgive them. I said it. You get to forgive them! It is a choice but the only person you hurt if you don’t is yourself. That doesn’t mean you keep going back for more. Remember the words wisdom and discernment? Chances are good that the person (s) is dealing with their own issues. Show them the path that leads to the Lord. Is this natural or easy? By no means! I am writing this with plenty of experience from the year. 

In the end, I have been shown the wheat and the tares that have been lovingly sifted through my Father’s hands. I look around and I am truly surrounded by people who love me, for who God made me to be. I am participating in sharing the Good News of Christ’s love with people every week. I have my needs supplied.

I can truly say it is well with my soul. It is Well – Bethel Music

What are some things you have learned during your biggest trials?

Oh Praise The Name

Oh Praise The Name Of the Lord Our God

So many times over the past few years I have not been able to express myself in written form. One night, in the depth of profound grieving, I turned on my phone to play worship music until I fell asleep.

It dawned on me…what if there were others like me, lying in bed, waiting for answers, praying, hoping, needing comfort…and could be ministered to by the same music I put myself to sleep at night?

Hence began my posts of worship music.

My brother passed away this past Saturday, January 9th. I may write more; I may not.  I loved him so. This is my song for you, Phillip. May you rest peacefully with God in eternity. I will see you soon.

One in a million

**As a footnote, I review some of my posts occasionally. I am reposting this for the person who may going through a similar trial right now. Can I encourage you to spend some time in Psalm 30? Sometimes the answer to our prayers comes in this lifetimes, sometimes in eternity. God does promise His peace, His comfort, His healing that is not like the world offers.  Take heart, joy will come.

You are Not Alone

20151231_150006As the days approached towards Christmas, my mood got darker and darker. One evening I was walking down the hall reflecting on years earlier. Was it reminiscing, or was I being controlled by my memories from the past? I saw my mother in the kitchen, baking and preparing a huge holiday dinner for our family. My dad, bellowing with his huge laugh that could be heard throughout the house. My grandmothers catching hugs and kisses. As I rounded the hallway, I became overcome with emotion. I miss it. I miss them. I miss so much…

I did what I always do. I gave myself a stern talking to. “Knock it off! Get over your pity party. There are plenty of people with a lot more grief at the holiday season than you.” I was missing my older brother, who had passed away just days before Christmas several years ago. Another family member very ill. “No, hold yourself together.” Instead of the commands for a fire – stop, drop, and roll – I created the mantra – stop, drop, and pray – when I’m in this place. I prayed.

Christmas approached with little glimmer of hope in sight. A custody battle in the family, and a former family member who refused to relinquish custody of said children on the required day. Suddenly I was several states away on Christmas Eve without access to anyone it seemed, except my husband who was making phone calls. I couldn’t reach my attorney or the necessary family members. A friend texted me to check on my status. I was brutally honest.

I want my mom. I want my dad. I want my family back. I want someone to take care of me. I am tired of taking care of everyone.

Out of my mouth and into God’s hands. He gently showed me a crisp, cold Christmas Eve that I was not the only person who probably felt alone that night. Mary would have wanted her own mother when she gave birth to Jesus. Instead, she was far from home with only her husband and some noisy animals. And God. God was there. Mary was not abandoned at all. Neither was I.

If you are feeling alone or abandoned, take heart dear reader. You are never alone. God is right beside you. Call on Him for help. He is waiting. Will you start out 2016 with God leading the way?


Disappointment is Not the Boss of You

Jennifer Rothschild

How do you handle disappointments? Are you soaring right now, or are the holidays or other things making this a difficult time for you?

I have had several friends ask me to please pray for them during this season. Christmas is supposed to be a season of cheer, happy memories, joy, and more, right? If you are not in that place, this reblogged post by the wonderful author Jennifer Rothschild may help you gain some insight.

So where are you at right now?  How can I pray for you today?

The Day My Mom Visited The White House


My husband and I recently retraced the steps of a vacation from 18 years ago, made to Washington, DC just days after my diagnosis of MS. It was an emotional visit flooded with tender memories. One thing we hoped to do was to tour the White House. We contacted our congressman months in advance, to no avail. We weren’t on the ‘It’ list. We would have to use our active imaginations, Google photos, and friends’ stories to enjoy the experience vicariously.

Little did I know I was about to get a firsthand account of someone’s personal tour to the White House, including a personal meeting with the First Lady at the end of the tour! I was impressed.

This precious person was accompanying her spouse on a business trip and found herself without anything to do one day during the trip. She received that unexpected call: Would you like to see the White House? Of course her answer was yes. She gave general details of what a magnificent and stately mansion it is, so ornate, everything I had imagined. It was an exhaustive tour, not just covering ten rooms or so as I had imagined ours would be.

The consummation came when her tour guide asked if she would like to meet Mrs. Obama. She was overcome with excitement, as she had never met a First Lady. Mrs. Obama was just as gracious and lovely as she had always heard. It was a brief meeting but certainly one she will remember the rest of her life.

When my mother shared this story yesterday of her recent trip, she commented that not everyone believed her. In fact, some people said she was making it up. I assured her I did not think she was making it up at all.

Alzheimer’s can bring some lovely, joyful things it you live in the grey areas instead of black and white. My mom genuinely believes she experienced this. I shared her joy and exuberance. My mind can’t begin to fill in details like that. Don’t misunderstand me, I understand the medical reason behind the situation. If you have a loved one with dementia, embrace the joy when you find it.

And if you see Mrs. Obama, please tell her my mom says hello.

If I knew then what I know now

I was asked several months ago to share some of my thoughts about my journey with MS on a well-known photographer’s website. Randy and Shannon Bacon also have a website called 7BillionOnes based on the belief that every person has value and an important story to tell. There are many, many stories. If you came to this site because I share about my health issues, my faith, it you have addiction issues, adoption to abandonment… you will find encouragement here. You do have value because you have been uniquely created with a purpose and a plan.

Check out my other pages at the top of this page or some of the other popular posts on the right. Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you Elvis Presley, You were always on my mind

Elvis Presley Music is a powerful tool, isn’t it? It brings back memories of that first kiss, where you first met that special someone. Maybe you have a rebel cry song that helped you through a bad breakup. People plan the perfect song for their first dance at their wedding reception. Music can be the key that unlocks memories tucked away in a box from decades ago, just waiting to be plucked out and played.

The residents where my mother currently resides deal with various stages of dementia, but one lady in particular will make statements such as, ‘The lunch was very good. The lunch was very good. The lunch was very good.’ She repeats it…and repeats it…and repeats it. Perhaps ten, twenty, or more times in a row. She is close to being nonverbal but when she does speak, Ruby (*) can get stuck on a single sentence for a very long time, like a record player that continually skips at one point in the song.

Elvis came to visit and shake it all up recently for some entertainment with the residents, also known as music therapy. We soon wondered if the staff and family knew what they were in for or not. There is another resident who is well over 90, very weak, but she was ready to do the jailhouse rock with Elvis! Martha(*) was up on her feet, moving and dancing away while nurses were on every side, ready to catch her if she should fall. She had the time of her life.

Elvis approached Ruby with a feather boa and wrapped it around her neck, wooing her as he crooned, ‘You were always on my mind’. Apparently Elvis was always on Ruby’s mind. Her mind temporarily breaks free from its locks and she is transported back to her mid-twenties. She sings, she sways, she is weak at the knees. Elvis Presley is singing directly to her…and she is singing right back to him! The verbal and memory processing prison has been temporarily broken, the chains are gone, she has been unleashed!!

For us, the most beautiful thing was to hear my mother still telling us many days later what a thrill she had seeing Elvis perform. She didn’t remember any family being there to visit, but she remembered Elvis. She remembered that Martha stood to her feet, dancing away. She remembered Ruby about to faint at the mere sight of Elvis. She remembered the emotions, the happy experience.

Thank you, Elvis. When Alzheimer’s seems an impossible code to break, you show us you still have it.

**All names are disguised  to protect the privacy of the residents.

No Longer a Slave to Fear

Bethel Music Moment: No Longer Slaves – Jonathan & Melissa Helser

“No Longer Slaves”

You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mothers womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again, into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
All my fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
So I could stand and sing
I am child of God

Do you know why you matter?

Stars by their namesWhen I was diagnosed with MS, I was training for my first marathon. I had a friend Liz who had set me up with a solid training schedule, broken down for the next five months. She even had my nutrition list set up for me. When I questioned my ability to complete the task, I would stop by their house for a dose of affirmation from her husband, a 3-time Ironman at the time. He has probably circled the globe by now!

I was that crazy girl who wasn’t very good at any sports but I loved trying them all. I would go to our elementary school and bounce tennis balls against the wall until I had every type of stroke down. I ran in track and came in at a solid 4th place on several occasions. My strengths were in other areas but I LOVE sports. I still do. Eventually I found sports that I excelled so my energy went to more useful gain.

So how did I keep from losing my desired identity as an athlete when I suddenly found I could not lift a leg off the ground or pick up a 2-lb weight? It isn’t easy. I still struggle with it.  I had to train my mind the same way I had trained my body. I rehearse Bible verses over and over. More than that, it has to be true to me. I could say it all day long but it’s irrelevant if I don’t believe God’s Word and apply it.

Don Miller wrote a blog this week that addresses the question, ‘Do you only matter because of what you do?‘. He brings out some good points on what we base our self-identity in and the harm that leads to.

What about you? Where do you get your worth from and how do you protect it from?

Making Peace with the Past

imagesI can’t remember a time when I didn’t love basketball. It is, as they say, in my blood. My memories of my dad standing, yelling, waving, stomping his feet, uttering words I would get my mouth washed out with soap for using… all for the love of Indiana basketball. Like my dad, all of us attended IU. I witnessed Bobby Knight’s antics and Steve Alford’s record-setting free throws. And rivalries… we knew every team we were for or against.

I am all for cheering my team to the finish line whether they win or lose but I get a sick feeling in my stomach when the intensity turns to personal attacks. One famous rivalry was between Geno Auriemma and Pat Summit. I came across the article below and thought Coach Auriemma had some great comments on forgiveness, reflection, and some ways he has changed since Coach Summit retired due to Alzheimer’s.

  • Do you have some things you need to address with someone? What are you willing to do while there is still time?

  • What are some specific steps you have taken that were effective in restoring damaged relationships?

  • Do you share your conflict with anyone who will listen or do you try to contain the damage?

  • How do you make peace with your past?

What a Beautiful Sunset!

God made this for you, Mom

God made this for you, Mom

One of the most significant changes in my relationship with my mother as her Alzheimer’s progresses is how we converse. There are definitely challenges but I am so thankful in many ways! First, I still have her with me physically. Second, she still remembers me and recognizes me. Third, she still retains the personality I have known her to have throughout my life.

Like most mothers, she has several ‘mom-isms’ that stick with me. Now my children and grandchildren get to hear some of my favorite ones:

  • If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
  • This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.
  • I done went and et too much!
  • I think I have I little fur booties on my teeth.

Perhaps my favorite one is this:

  • Did you see the sunset last night? It was so beautiful! I almost called you to go outside and look at it but I was afraid I was calling too late.

I love this for several reasons. Alzheimer’s has taken away a lot of things from her but it hasn’t taken away her love for the simple things that I can take for granted – the sunset that comes every night. You see, her memory is now such that she doesn’t remember much more than a few minutes at a time most days. She is not recalling last night’s sunset. Instead she is recalling how much she loves God’s sunsets that come each and every night. Isn’t that amazing?

Also, she still thinks of others. She wants to share that happiness that she feels with me and our family. And she shows some level of concern for us.

My mother is undoubtedly greatly affected by Alzheimer’s at this stage in the disease. I don’t want to minimize that. I am so thankful to share some of her daily delights, however.

For some of my other posts about our journey into Alzheimer’s, please visit my page listed at the top titled Journey Into Alzheimer’s.

I appreciate your honesty

John LennonOver the last year I have journeyed with a dear friend as she watched her mother’s health fail. Initially there was hope that the situation was a temporary setback. A few months revealed that was not the case. This particular friend is an extremely busy person who gives back to her employer, family, friends, and community. I made myself available, and when she had free time we labored together as we watched each of our mothers decline. Things spelled downhill rapidly and her mother passed away recently. The funeral was out-of-state so I sent flowers and checked on her each day. Imagine my surprise when she drove by my home once then twice without even stopping or offering more than a slight wave after she returned home. Had I done something? Said something? She sent a few brief texts saying she was not up to talking yet.


A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. – Prov. 17:17

It’s perfectly fine for my friend to have this response. I respected how she handled her emotions. I deeply value my friends who are honest with me, even when it isn’t what I want to hear. Sometimes we put an unattainable and unnecessary goal on others to respond to their grief in the same we would and in the same time frame. It is impossible to know what is going on in another person’s thoughts. More than that, are you prepared to hear it if they pour out the details to you?

Healthy Boundaries

You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. – Prov. 27:17

I have another friend who regularly apologizes for saying she is brutally honest. In reality she is one of my most trusted friends. Do you value the friend who tells you when you have food sticking between your two front teeth. The friend who doesn’t deliberately post the worst photo of you on Facebook simply because it is the best picture of her or him? The friend who tells you when you need to work on your attitude or outlook? My closest friends protect my trusted information. They challenge me consider my options, use the wisdom of others, to pray more, be a kinder person to both the lovable and the not so lovable, to give more generously. To be less like myself and more like Jesus. I’m a work in progress with a long way to go. I need friends who look me in the face and speak the truth in loving words.

Your Face Mirrors Your Heart

Become wise by walking with the wise;  hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces. – Prov. 13:20

Most of all I cherish the friends who love me enough to listen when I want to talk, pray when I’m silent, and share their burdens with me also.

What are some of the most important qualities in your friendships?



Light up your world

The last several weeks have weighed heavily on us and many dear friends as we waited for the outcome of a tenuous matter. Our concerns came to a fruition yesterday, wrought with all kinds of emotions. Some voiced relief, angst, confusion, doubts, frustration, and even anger. Does that describe a similar situation for you?

We moped around our house yesterday trying to escape the topic at hand. Everyone handles challenging situations differently. As for me, I prefer to be alone to ponder things. I get no comfort from hashing and rehashing things. Even a warm pot of ham and beans for dinner wasn’t lifting the mood in our house, however.

We have been preparing for some guests over the past few weeks, and kept ourselves busy most of the day. By early evening we had run out of things to do and we were making excuses to run errands. It was a valiant effort to break the silence.

Do you find yourself in a rut sometimes? Sometimes the answer is right in front of you.

We headed off for an errand. As I waited in the car at a store, the most obvious thing was staring back at me. Christmas lights. At this time of year, they are seemingly everywhere. In the same way that the emotions had crept up on me, so had the Christmas lights.

‘Let’s take a drive to see the lights.’ It was such a random comment. Our children are grown and we have gotten away from some family traditions that were once an annual tradition. In just a few minutes the world seemed a lot brighter, both internally and externally. We cranked up some traditional music, and off we went.

What other time of the year can you think of when people give of their own time and money just to bring a little joy to strangers?

We cheered and clapped for the neighborhood that had synchronized lights and music. We oohed and ahhed for the shimmering lights hanging from the rooftops. Yes, we even spied on one resident working hard to wrap gifts in their brightly lit dining room. Some streets were so beautiful that we came back for a second glance.

As if with a collective sigh, the evening tour was over. Life seemed a little lighter, joy had returned.

Sometimes we need to change our scenery to see our circumstances in the correct lighting.

Whatever your faith is, my prayer is that you find joy in the simplest things around you. They are there. I promise.

Discover the joy in everyday things.

Discover the joy in everyday things.

How to say Thank You

I always want to appreciate the generosity and kindness of others. In a perfect world, I write a thank-you note promptly for every person who has reached out to me. In a perfect world, I have beautiful and inspiring words that express these emotions. Sometimes that calls for gushing emotions that overflow with flowery words. Other occasions recall details of the changes in me or others who benefit from someone’s generous time and gifts. Some times I come up so short of expressing any appropriate acknowledgement. Today is one of those days.

For a little background, I took a course in college. As that occurred approximately 100 years ago, I can no longer recall the name of the course. It was something on American history in the 60’s? (I’m making this up. It is the closest detail I remember.) Just before the Thanksgiving break, we were given the assignment to interview a veteran. I smelled an easy A. Nice!

I wrote out my questions for the interview, timed out the appropriate setting, and began the interview with my dad. The fallacy of my theory about an easy A was to assume he wanted to be interviewed. He did not. I believe his words went something like this: ‘If I had wanted to discuss my time in World War II or the Korean War, don’t you think I would have mentioned it before now?’ Ouch!

My gentle giant of a father did not have mince words when necessary.

I suspect I went whimpering away after the abrupt notification that the interview ended off before it ever started. What had I done wrong? My mom told me I had no idea what the answers might be, and he didn’t get joy from some of the more painful memories. Not every experience feels better by recounting it over and over. I saw this comment on a friend’s Facebook page this week, which seems to sum up the experience.

Are ya going to listen to past trauma or today’s truth? I choose truth.

I muttered words of thanks over the years to my dad. I wrote papers later that showed his heroic character without the need for graphic detail.

I will always name my dad as my hero. He is the example.

My dad was a freshman in college at Indiana University when he was drafted for World War II. He finished that first year of college, served his country faithfully, and resumed his studies in Business at Indiana University.

He continued on with life. He wandered into a hat shop one day to purchase a gift for his mother. He encountered two of the most lovely women – my mother and my grandmother. I think you know what happened next. Chapel bells were ringing. They didn’t ring for very long because he was home from the Korean War just long enough to say his marriage vows. Within days he was back to serving his country after being drafted a second time.

I heard these men and women referred to as The Greatest Generation as years passed. Truer words were never spoken.

My dad went on to have a successful career as an entrepreneur. He and my mother owned a number of successful businesses. They spent many long nights working to ensure their employees would have another paycheck during a recession in the 1980’s.

He loved family life. He was an only child who had six children of his own. Many people never knew about two of his children, Ann and Alice. They were the first set of twins in our family. My parents had no idea they were expecting twins until they were born. Neither child survived. I was vaguely aware of this as a young child from the whisperings of a great-aunt who would explain the significance decorating graves on Memorial Day each year.

My dad finally realized he needed to put his health first when he approached age 60. Soon he was walking several miles every day. All those years of ice cream and fried chicken had beat him to the punch. He suffered a massive stroke at age 62. The remaining eighteen years of his life were spent in a wheelchair, permanently paralyzed, until he passed away. To this day I can hear his laughter. I don’t hear his voice complaining. He would tell you he had a great life. I saw trauma after trauma in the unfolding of his life. He saw joy and victory. His final words to me were to thank me. Thank me? He wanted me to know how highly he thought of me as his daughter.

In the final days of his life, he was thinking of everyone but himself.

These are just a few of the reasons we call them The Greatest Generation. Tom Brokaw wrote a book titled as such. One reviewer noted that, ‘In this book, you will meet people whose everyday lives reveal how a generation persevered through war, and were trained by it, and then went on to create interesting and useful lives and the America we have today.’

To all the heroes, thank you. How do I adequately sum up my appreciation? I don’t know. I stumble over the words until I tumble into a torrent of inadequate musings and exaltation. Perhaps less is more. When we meet any servicemen or veterans, we sum it up with these words:

Thank you for your service.

Would you like an order of fries with that?

I heard a message this past week on a topic that causes many to cringe. The speaker even called it the ‘S’ word. . . submission. Suddenly people shrink in their seats and mentally check out. I walked away with one thought on my mind: McDonald’s.

Our daughter worked at McDonald’s during her high school years. One of the first things they train their employees to do is to up-sell their orders. Order a hamburger and you should expect to be asked if you would like an order of fries as well.

Spend more than you intended.

Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. If I flip the question upside-down to a statement, it sounds like this:

Let me offer you more than you expected from me.

What a great model for serving others with my life. Do I give the least required so that I have minimum effort to claim a success? Or am I willing to give more than I expected, more than I intended, more than I thought I was up to giving?

Today my goal is to beyond that. I am going to offer to super-size my time, my service, my gifts.

Can I super-size your request, please?

What are your thoughts?

What I hope for you today

Hope changes everything. Hope precipitates the route to joy. Hope brings internal strength when external circumstances look daunting, perhaps impossible. My prayer for you today is to keep faith in your situation. If hope is nonexistent, pursue it diligently.

“”I’ve always talked to players about perception and reality. I don’t worry about perception. There may be some of that, that people want to attach to a good name, but the reality is that some good things can happen.” – Tony Dungy

What is on your list of impossibilities today? What has worn you to such fatigue that you can’t crawl out of that mental or physical manhole

“Always direct your thoughts to those truths that will give you confidence, hope, joy, love, thanksgiving, and turn away your mind from those that inspire you with fear, sadness, depression” – Bertrand Wilbertforce

Do yourself a favor today, perhaps an eternal favor. Take a chance to believe again. Faith is the cause.  Joy is the result.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

Let me know what you have renewed hope in today. Encouragement feeds encouragement in others. Someone else  needs to hear about your story of hope. Your journey to joy.

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