Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sometimes HE Repeats Himself

You may know that I am currently meditating on Psalm 40:5 ~ Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
And if you were around here last week, you know I have been thinking a lot about the wonders HE has done. It is a delight to think of such things, and I have been loving it.

What you may not know is that I have also been reading through John during my quiet times. And I just finished this week.
Know what the last verse in John is?

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Sound familiar?

I have found that sometimes God repeats Himself. And when He does, I try to take notice. So I'm spending more time these days asking God to help me see the things He has done. I don't want to miss Him.

How have you seen His hand at work in and around you recently?


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Listen With Grace

We hear plenty of talk about our talk.

Choose your words wisely.
Think before you speak.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. ~Colossians 4:6

(That is one of my favorite verses!)

And I am in full agreement with that advice.
Our words are powerful; able to lift up, or cut down. However, I recently participated in a conversation which convinced me: it is just as important to consider the way we listen.

We were talking in small group about the communication we have as married couples. And some of us confessed to getting annoyed with our spouses when we're having an argument, er, heated discussion, when we're talking, and the charming love of our life comes up with a line like, "When you X, I feel Y."
One group member commented, "Yeah, because everyone knows that's the way you're 'supposed' to talk so the other person doesn't feel defensive." And we nodded our heads in understanding. Each of us knowing there have been times when we've thought, You're only saying that because you're supposed to. Because someone told you that's the best way to talk to me so I won't feel defensive and get upset.

Then another group member pointed out that it really ought to be significant to us to know that our spouse is intentionally speaking to us in a manner intended to put us at ease. We ought to be thankful our spouse is trying to be gentle with us. And right about then, we coined the term Listen with Grace.
Oh, that we would seek to understand the heart of the one speaking to us. Just as our conversation should be always full of grace, let us filter what we hear through grace, as well.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Telling of His Wonders, Again

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.

Pslam 40:5

And, yet I will try.

To tell of them, that is.

Monday I did a study of John 11 with the residents at Edgewood, and we were delighted with what we saw.
While Mary and Martha expected Jesus to come to their home and heal their brother, He didn't do that. Jesus stayed where He was. And Lazarus died.
It seemed the sisters' plan was defeated. They had lost all hope. We reasoned they were probably confused and quite disappointed with God. And we confessed there have been times when we have felt the same way. When God hasn't moved as we had hoped or expected, and we were disappointed.
But if you know the rest of the story, you know Jesus came to town and raised Lazarus from the dead. That was not what they expected!

And that's where the delight came. In the realization that God's plans for us are so much greater than our own. We were delighted to know we can trust God, even when it looks like He isn't doing anything. When it seems like He is delaying coming to us.
And that is the wonder of which I want to speak and tell: God's plans are perfect. Even when we can't see Him moving, we can trust Him. Because He is perfect. And that's just the way it is!

Your turn! Please join me again in telling of His wonders. I look forward to reading about them.
I'll be taking a little blog-break for the rest of the week.
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving! I'll see you back here Monday.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Telling of HIS Wonders

Did you watch my video devotion yesterday?
I'm hoping you have been thinking about the wonders God has done in and around you. Noticing His hand and good works. Brimming with excitement to declare them!
Because the thing I want to do here for the next two days is to join with you in declaring the wonders He has done. In preparation for Thanksgiving Day, let us give thanks to our great God!

I'll go first. *wink*

I know I have shared with you before the struggles I have with Matthew - trying to get him to do homework, or stay focused, or anything like that. Well, he has a book report coming up and since the last one was an utter failure, we decided to take a new approach this time. The two of us sat down together and made a schedule in his planner. We agreed on dates when he would complete each task, and wrote them down...And the wonder is ~ Matthew is sticking to them! He is reading his book without me telling him to. He is paying attention to the schedule and following it.

Some of you may not see the wonder in this event. But, believe me, this behavior of Matthew's is nothing short of a miracle. And I am truly, truly thankful.

All silliness aside, I see in this cirumstance: hope. Beautiful HOPE.
Though I often get discouraged by Matthew's ADHD and impulsivity, God encourages me every time I see Matthew reading. I am reminded that nothing is too difficult for HIM. My confidence is renewed that God has good plans for my son; that even his craziness can be used for good. And I trust God to make it happen.

HIS works are wonderful. I know that full well!

OK. Your turn. Tell me one of the wonders God has done in your life!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lessons From the Edge

Some people don't want to hear.

I wish it wasn't the case. But it seems to be.
There is a man at Edgewood, about whom I've written before, who doesn't have long to live. This past week he learned he has kidney failure, and he has decided not to do anything about it.

Our nurse told me people with kidney failure typically live one to three months.

My mind went back to the Resident of the Week interview I did with H. I don't remember the question I asked him, but he started telling me that he never really went to church as a kid. That his family wasn't "religious". Then he said, "I don't know why I'm telling you this."

I trust it was God, planting a seed in me.

A couple days ago H called the office, and I was the one to answer the phone. He just needed help getting a drink out of his refrigerator, so I went up to his apartment. And I trusted this was an opportunity placed in my lap by God, Himself. After I got H his drink, I sat down by his chair. He asked if I had heard 'the news' about his kidneys. We talked about it a bit and then I asked permission to ask him a question. He is a delightful man, and agreed immediately. So I brought up the interview we'd done and asked about his belief in God.
H was very clear that "religion" was not part of his up-bringing and therefore has no real meaning to him. He simply was never taught to value spiritual things. In H's mind, religion is a comforter for people, and he said he just never needed the comfort. Besides, he said, he doesn't like the idea that a person should have to choose between heaven and hell. He isn't worried. He knows he's a 'good guy' and is very comfortable with facing death.

And that was the gist of our conversation. H was as kind and polite as ever. He acknowledged my faith, and seems to respect it, but thinks he doesn't need it.
Even so, he happily agreed to have me pray for him - which I did right there. I prayed then, as I continue to pray now, that God would reveal Himself to H. God knows his heart and He loves H. I know He does! And I am praying God will soften his heart in these final days, that H might be willing to listen.
Because it breaks my heart - as I know it breaks HIS - that some people don't want to hear.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

For the Sake of Learning

Monday morning there was a knock on my bedroom door.
Joshua walked in holding a mouse trap - with a dead mouse in it - proclaiming, "I just want to say, my idea worked!"

You see, in Joshua's campaign to rid our house and yard of all mice, he has discovered that sometimes those little critters are sneaky and can get the bait without making the trap go off. So, Joshua set out to create the ultimate mouse trap.

He thought things through, made a plan, and went to the store for supplies.

Armed with a rat trap, paper clips, and duct tape, Joshua made his trap. He used the paper clips and duct tape to create a platform, somehow rigged that up over the spring of the trap, baited the trap, and attached it to the wall. His theory was that a mouse would climb up onto the platform to get the peanut butter, and the weight of the mouse would release the spring. No way the little critter could carefully lick the peanut butter off this time!

And he was right. The bar across the back of that mouse proved it.

I must admit, I felt a tinge of sorrow for the mouse as I looked at it. But Joshua was so proud of his achievement - so proud he had come up with an idea, put it into action, and been successful - my pity was short-lasting. Instead I saluted the little critter; giving of his life, for the sake of learning. *wink*


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

HE Does Brake Work

OK. Seriously. Why do crazy things happen to me when I have speaking engagements?

Saturday I was driving up to Gaylord. I was going to spend the night with my mom and dad, and then speak for a group of high school senior girls and their moms on Sunday.
I was kinda drowsy so, about 45 minutes into my trip, I decided to stop to get a caffinated beverage.
As I moved into the deceleration lane and began to apply my brakes, I was shocked to discover they were hardly there! With my foot pressed all the way to the floor, the van did come to a stop at the light. I pulled into the McDonald's parking lot and heard a terribly loud squeaking noise coming from the back of the van. (I'd had the radio on for the entire trip, so I had no idea if it had been making that noise the whole way.) Because I wasn't sure I'd be able to stop predictably in the drive-thru - and because the squeaking noise was so embarrasing - I parked the van and went inside to get my drink.
After I came back out I called Brian to get his input on my plan of action. Do I keep driving to Gaylord, hope for the best, and maybe get new brakes before I return home? (On a Sunday. Yeah. That'll happen!) Do I drive back to Okemos and take Brian's car, leaving him to deal with the van for the weekend? OR, Do I stay put and have someone come fix the van in Ithaca?

We decided on the second option.

So I started the van and cautiosly made my way back onto the highway. And I prayed, LORD, please keep me safe on this journey!
I'd driven for nearly half an hour when I had to get onto a different highway. Realizing I needed to be give myself plenty of time to slow down, I applied my brakes a little early. I was shocked again. This time I felt the brakes. In fact, they were quite strong. I pressed them again to make sure I wasn't imagining things, and there they were - as good as new. So it seemed.
When Brian met me with his car, I immediately said to him, "You've got to believe me. My brakes really weren't working!...And now they seem to be." *blush*
We agreed that he should take the van anyway. Just in case. And with that, I was on my way back up north.

Saturday night I texted Brian to let him know I'd made it safely to Gaylord. And this was his response: "Yea! No problems w/the van...but im sure it was acting up for u. Really."
I felt so silly. Though I thought he probably believed me, it just seemed crazy. How could the brakes be working fine one moment, give out the next, and then go right back to working again? *Whatever!*

When I got home Sunday, Brian chided me, "The brakes have been working fine all weekend." And when I drove to and from work Monday, they were still great.
But you've got to believe me. They really did give out on Saturday afternoon! I know, none of it makes sense. I can't understand it, myself. And the whole thing has led me to only one explanation.

HE does brake work.
I mean, I'd asked Him to keep me safe on the journey. What better way for a Father to do that, than to give his daughter new brakes??? *wink*


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yes. That's It!

He's brilliant!

And eloquent.

Wish I could have come with it that easily!

Do you hear the sarcasm dripping from those statements?
Last week Joshua and I were arguing over chores. He was upset about having to do work when he had other things he'd rather be doing.
I can so relate!
And my ability to relate so well moved me to turn the tables. I began to complain about making dinner every night when I would rather be doing other things. And Joshua came back at me with, "But that's expected."
I knew what Joshua meant. I'm the mom and it's simply a given that I make dinner.

That's when I realized my son's brilliance. He'd said it perfectly. Just as it's expected - because I'm the mom - that I will make dinner every night, so it is expected - because Joshua is a member of our family - that he will do chores.

Yes. That's it!

Funny thing is, Joshua didn't seem as impressed with my logic as I was.

Go figure! *wink*


Monday, November 14, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lessons From the Edge

Encouragement comes in all shapes, sizes, and abilities.

I was having a rough morning Monday. Not sure why. I just was really down. And I was having a hard time maintaining the mask I sometimes put on at Edgewood. Yeah. I'm all about being real. But sometimes my job requires me to put on a mask. It's kind of like role-playing. The Activity Director is supposed to be happy. So when Karen isn't, she plays the part. *sigh*

So, anyway, I was going through the motions, trying my best to appear pleasant. Like I truly was happy to be there, doing what I was doing. And at just the right moment, (Because that's when God does things.) J saw me, smiled, and held out her arms.
J's eyesight is very bad, but when I'm close enough she can see me. She is deaf, but she still talks to me. Her hands are crippled, but she freely holds mine with hers. And her teeth are awful, but she has one of the sweetest smiles I have ever seen.

So there I was, in the dining room clearing plates or something (short-staffed in the kitchen Monday...), trying real hard to keep my smile pasted on. And I saw J smiling and holding out her arms to me. I promptly went over to her, we hugged, and she kissed my cheek. (She always does!) This time the smile on my face was sincere.
And it got even bigger as I thought about the irony of the situation. God was using a half-blind, completely deaf, crippled old woman to cheer me up. He's so clever!

Encouragement comes in all shapes, sizes, and abilities.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

We Didn't Rake All the Leaves

We have three very big maple trees in our yard. And another one right on the edge.
And right now almost all of the leaves have fallen off of them.
Sunday I decided it would be a good idea to get started raking the leaves, so I called Matthew out to help me. We raked leaves onto a tarp and I dragged them to the middle of some big pine trees in our yard and dumped 'em there.
But we didn't rake all the leaves. It was such a huge task! No way we could have raked them all in one day. But it sure did feel good to make a dent in the project.

When I got home from work Monday I called Joshua out to help me rake more leaves. It took him a while to come outside. I got three loads done before he came out to help. *grr* He did finally come out, though, and we raked lots!
But we didn't rake all the leaves. It was still a big task. No way we could finish it all then. But I was glad to get more of the job completed.

Raking the leaves a (pretty big) bit at a time seemed to be the way to go. Honestly, it is so overwhelming to look at the whole yard covered with leaves and to think about raking it all up at once. But when we break it down to smaller sections and tackle one at a time, it just isn't as scary. And the kids don't complain as much when they're working for 30 minutes as they do when it takes a few hours.

So, as of Monday night I figured a couple more episodes of not-raking-all-the-leaves would finish the job for the season. Yet as I sit here typing, I am looking outside at the leaves blowing all over. More specifically, I am watching my neighbor's leaves blowing into my yard. And on the other side of the yard is a tall fence, so rather than continuing on into my other neighbor's yard, they're all stopping right there. *Very funny, GOD!*

Oh, well. At least there's a huge pile trapped in the middle of the pine trees which we won't have to rake again. *wink*


Wednesday, November 09, 2011


I love it when God uses my interactions with my children to help me understand HIM better.

Saturday night Joshua and I got into it with each other. He was giving me all kinds of attitude about his chores, wouldn't listen to me or do what I was asking, and I was angry. He finally yelled at me about being annoying and stomped off to his room.! It isn't like I was asking him to do anything that difficult. And he's been driving me nuts lately with his attitude and refusal to obey. I told him (in a very loud voice) that I realize he's a teenager now, he's growing up and desiring independence. BUT, I said, I am still the parent and he is still the child - and he needs to obey. (That's when he yelled at me about being annoying...)

I stood then, in the kitchen, feeling like I couldn't wait for the next five years to fly by. Realizing I don't really want it to be that way. In my anger I didn't want to have to deal with Joshua or his attitude anymore. But in my heart I want to love my son and have a peaceful relationship with him.
And I prayed God would work in his heart.

Within the hour, Joshua came out to where I was and apologized for yelling at me. I could tell from his face and his tone of voice, he was sincere. He says he's "sorry" for things all the time, but you know he doesn't mean it. This incident was not one of those times. And I extended forgiveness to him.
In that moment, my heart changed toward Joshua. I truly was not angry anymore. I knew that I love my son, and that would never change. It was beautiful.
He went back to his room to do whatever, and I pondered what had taken place in my heart. That's when I realized God had just given me a picture of our relationship with Him. Just like my son's sincere apology brought reconciliation to the two of us, our confession and repentance reconciles us with God. I was no longer angry, and in the same way God turns His wrath away.

What a gift that was! I knew the condition of my heart, the way I felt about and saw my son. How much more does God take delight when we return to Him! I am so thankful for the blood of Jesus which makes that reconciliation possible!


Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Fishing season is pretty much over and Joshua has found a new interest to obsess over occupy his time. (Though he does make an occasional trip to the pond with his poles. *grin*)

Now he's into trapping.

He dug a hole in the back corner of our yard and put our cooler in it. He rigged up weights on the lid - which is propped open with a stick, and put a peanut butter sandwich inside. Thought he could catch himself a raccoon with this little trap!
When I found out what he was doing I was reluctant to let it go on. What was he going to do with the raccoon if/when he caught it? Why was he using the cooler? Surely a raccoon would shred the insides with it's claws! What's the point, anyway?
But then I observed him thinking and theorizing about the trap, and I was quite impressed.
*The weights fell off the lid, so he came up with another way to attach them.
*When he checked the trap one morning the sandwich was gone but the lid was still up. So he tried to come up with ways to make sure the lid could be held up, which was also sensitive enough to make sure it was able to be knocked down.
*He was thinking and asking questions and trying new ideas.
And suddenly I realized I didn't really care if the inside of the cooler got scratched up. We hardly ever use it, anyway.

I don't really expect him to trap a raccoon. But I think it is wonderful to see Joshua caught up in thinking, creating, evaluating, and re-working his theories. Ahhhh. Seems he has trapped himself into learning. And he likes it!


Monday, November 07, 2011

Friday, November 04, 2011

Lessons From the Edge

A sense of humor lasts a lifetime.

Spending time with the folks at Edgewood has given me ample opportunity to hear funny jokes and share laughter. Indeed, though their bodies have grown old, most of the residents hold on to their sense of humor.
And this week, one gentleman told me a joke I simply cannot NOT share with you.
An old man went to see his doctor about a problem he was having with his ear.
"It feels like there's something clogging my ear, Doc. And I can't figure it out."
After examining the man, his doctor said, "Oh! I see. You have a suppository stuck in your ear."
The man thought for a moment and then chuckled. "Well. I guess that explains what happened to my hearing aid!"

R was very proud of himself for telling me that joke. I think he laughed even longer than I did. Perhaps he was laughing at me? *wink*
Whatever the case, I don't mind. It just makes me smile to think of the fun people have telling jokes - even when they've been doing it for 70 or 80 or 90 or more years!

A sense of humor lasts a lifetime.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Today I'm Over at Mel's World

Last month I met Melissa Mashburn face-to-face. (I was absolutely delighted to make her acquaintance.) And today she is hosting me on her blog.

Please join me over there as we talk about desiring God, through an excerpt from my book, Finding Joy.


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Living Thankful

My friend Leah is being intentional about thankfulness. Living Thankful for 30 Days. I love that idea, so today I am linking up with her and focusing on being thankful, too.
It's kind of funny because yesterday - just moments before I read about Leah's thankful journey - I experienced the blessing of being thankful.
I had become very frustrated in the process of getting Matthew up and out the door. Pokey, pokey, pokey. How a person can move so slow and become so distracted, I will NEVER understand! But he made it to the bus stop on time and as I sat down to eat my breakfast I thanked God for that little miracle. I thanked Him for the quiet house and the moment of peace when I could be still. I thanked Him for His faithfulness and goodness to me. I found myself thanking Him for more things which kept coming to my mind. And then I realized something.
I was no longer irritated and full of frustration.
And I think that is the blessing of being thankful. As we focus on God's faithfulness to us; as we look for the things in our lives which are good; as we bless God's heart by giving thanks to Him, HE blesses us by changing ours.
I used to think it was rather hypocritical to try being thankful in the middle of frustration, but now I see things differently. God is good whether my circumstances are making me happy, or not. And when I give thanks, God - in His goodness - changes me.
Indeed, Living Thankful is the way to go!


Tuesday, November 01, 2011


If ever I thought something would bring the world to an end, this was it.

Joshua walked into the house one day last week in tears. I asked what was wrong but I couldn't understand what he was saying. So I asked again. And I couldn't believe what I heard.

Joshua had dropped his phone into a pond while he was fishing.
He didn't mean to. He was just putting it into his pocket and thought it was safe, but the phone slipped out, fell onto the dock and quickly slid right into the water. And he was devastated.
To fully appreciate this boy's devastation, you need to understand how precious that phone was to him. He'd kept notes on it of all his fishing catches - kinds, lengths, and weights. He had pictures of all the fish he has caught. He had "over 100" contacts. And now it was gone. All gone. Sitting in the bottom of a mucky pond.
Though he tried twice to retrieve it with various nets, there was no way that phone was going to be recovered.

The poor kid couldn't bring himself to eat dinner. He was absolutely beside himself. And I was torn with how to respond.
On the one hand, I wanted to convince him the world was NOT going to end. I wanted to rush in and comfort him and remind him everything was going to be OK. But I knew that wasn't what he wanted to hear at the moment. Joshua seemed to want to just be alone, and though leaving him alone went completely against my nature, I knew that was the thing to do. I just hoped by leaving him alone I wasn't communicating that I didn't care. *sigh*

As the evening progressed Joshua began to calm down. The three of us (Brian, Joshua and I) made a plan for how he could get a new phone. And by the time I was saying good-night to him, Joshua was able to say that he wasn't as upset as he had originally been. At that point we were able to talk about the reality that a cell phone in the bottom of a pond does not equate to the end of the world. Joshua had utilized the time alone to reason on his own, and to come to his own conclusion that life would go on.
He didn't need me to tell him.
He didn't need me to swoop in and save the day.
He simply needed that space to think things through.
And though I had been a reluctant observer, in the end I sure was glad I'd given him space.

Argh. There is no end to the learning curve of motherhood, is there!?