Friday, March 29, 2013

It's a GOOD Friday

With Jesus' last breath on the cross, He declared the debt of sin canceled, completely satisfied. Nothing else required. Not good deeds. Not generous donations. Not penance or confession or baptism or...or...or...nothing. The penalty for sin is death, and we were all born hopelessly in debt. He paid our debt in full by giving His life so that we might live forever.

Charles Swindoll, Walk with Jesus, p.45
That's it. Jesus said, It is finished. And our debt was paid.

On this Good Friday, may you remember with somber and sincere joy what Jesus has done for your soul. If you aren't quite sure about Jesus, and have questions about His death and resurrection, please email me. I would love to talk with you!

May the peace of Christ rest upon you today!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beauty and the Beau: He's a Keeper

Those are the words which were spoken to me Monday night.

"He's a keeper."

We had a special event at work: The Dance for the Cure. It was a fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association. And I had a few special guests join me there: my hubby, my daughter (a.k.a. Beauty), and her Beau.
Well, Beauty and the Beau made it their mission to dance with as many Edgewood residents as they could, and they brought great joy to so many!
I caught this one on video...

It delighted my heart to see the two of them dancing and bringing smiles to the faces of these men and women who are so dear to me.
Several people asked me if Beau is my son, and when I responded that he is Beauty's boyfriend, one person told me, "He's a keeper!" This man (the son of one of our residents) went on to say that he'd been watching Beau all evening - dancing with these little old ladies - and he just knew this young man is exceptional.

Have you ever heard the suggestion, If you want to know a person's character, watch how he interacts with a senior citizen? Well, let me just say, Nick passed that test with flying colors!

Besides that, when my daughter is with him, she is so happy.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

God's Lavishness

OK, friends, I'm still thinking about it.

Still thinking about Saturday morning at Among Friends when I sang with Kathy Troccoli.

That was!!!

But it was unnecessary.
I realized that afternoon (as I was walking floating around with a great big smile on my face) God's gift to me was completely.unnecessary. And - to me - that is one of the reasons it was so wonderful!
I remember saying to Him several times, God, You didn't have to do that for me today. But You did it, anyway. Thank You!!!
Because I realized, in the grand scheme of eternity, me singing a song with Kathy Troccoli has virtually no value. It did nothing to balance the universe. It didn't bring about world peace. No one was cured of a disease just because I got to live my dream.

God's orchestration of that event was absolutely frivolous.

And that's why it delights me so much. Because I believe it is another indicator of His lavish love. God knew how much I would love that gift, and that's why He gave it to me. Not because of some amazing eternal impact, but because of God's lavish love which He desires to pour out on us.

I want to invite you to pause for a moment right now and contemplate God's lavishness. If you don't believe He is passionately in love with you, that nothing delights Him more than loving you, I want to ask you to stop what you're doing, close your eyes, and just imagine yourself looking into His eyes. Ask God to speak His love to you in this moment. Ask Him to show you His lavish love.

I'm praying for you, friend, that God will reveal His great love for you!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I'm A Little Slow

I know. No major revelation there! *wink*

But I surprised myself recently at how s-l-o-w I really can be sometimes.
It was the weekend of the Among Friends Conference - and I had been a busy girl. Was pretty much away from my house from Thursday at noon until Saturday at 3:30. Yes, I slept there Thursday night, but that doesn't amount to much in terms of family interaction time. Ya know?
Anyway, as I was walking in the door Saturday, Elizabeth was walking out to spend time with a friend. But she was back within an hour or so. And I said, "Wow! That was quick!" She said her friends were going to a movie, but she didn't want to miss dinner because I had been gone all weekend. So she decided to skip the movie.
I thought that was sweet. But didn't think much more of it.

I made dinner and we ate together as a family. Then I sat down to work on some Among Friends accounting, and Elizabeth washed the dishes.
Elizabeth was finished with her chore long before I was, and she came and stood by me while I counted and added and re-counted and re-figured... When I finally realized she wasn't really "doing" anything except watching me I asked Elizabeth, "Is there something you want to do with me?" She just kind of looked at me, and I could see she was on the verge of tears. So I stood up and the two of us walked into my bedroom and plopped down on the bed for some mother/daughter talk time.
As Elizabeth poured her heart out, I prayed and asked God to give me the words to say to this sweet, precious girl He's entrusted to my care. We had a great conversation. As I listened to my daughter, I grew to love her even more. Didn't know that was possible! And then I wrapped my arms around her and prayed - knowing our God is able to lead her and make her into the woman He wants her to be. It was truly a beautiful time together.

And then it dawned on me. The reason Elizabeth skipped the movie was because she wanted to talk with me. Don't know why it took so long for me to realize it...
Like I said, I'm a little slow!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Dreams Do Come True!

So, when I signed off a week and a half ago, I promised I'd be back with stories and pictures from the Among Friends conference. What I didn't realize is when I took my camera out of the case to start snapping pictures, I would find that the SD card had been removed.
And not returned.
I consoled myself with the fact that my blog readers are all very gracious women, and you certainly wouldn't hold it against me if I didn't post pictures.

Suffice it to say, the conference was wonderful. About 800 women gathered together to worship, laugh, cry, listen and learn. We truly were among friends, and it was just what we needed.
And at the very end, it got even better!

Without my knowledge, two of my friends planned a wonderful surprise for me. They told Kathy Troccoli's event administrator that I sing lots of Kathy's songs. And she passed the message on to Kathy. As Kathy was saying her Thank You's to everyone who helped with the event, she mentioned that I had been behind bringing the conference to Trinity.
Then she called me up onto the stage.
And invited me to sing her closing song with her!
Friends, it has been a dream of mine to sing WITH Kathy Troccoli, but it was not a dream I ever expected to become a reality. Ever. But it did. And my friend recorded it on her phone.
Sooooo, I don't have any pictures to share with you, but I do have a video of me singing with Kathy Troccoli!

Think your dreams can't come true?
Think again!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's OK

"It's OK."

I have been finding myself making that statement to myself more and more lately.
I forgot to put birthday cards out at work for the staff to sign on the first of the month. And when I realized it on the 6th - because I missed somebody's birthday - before I started beating myself up (as was my former habit), I said out loud, "It's OK."
I woke in a slight panic Friday night with the realization I hadn't ordered linens for the Among Friends Conference this weekend. When I checked my information sheet Saturday morning I saw that, yes, they were supposed to be ordered by 5:00 Thursday - if they were going to be delivered on Monday. But I knew I could pick them up myself. They didn't really need to be delivered. And I spoke again, "It's OK."

I cannot tell you how freeing that short statement has become to me.

Before my depression diagnosis and treatment, those two incidents would have sent me into a pit - where I would have been crying and beating myself up for not being perfect, and not being able to do everything perfectly.
I had very unrealistic expectations of myself, and it was miserable.
That isn't to say I no longer care about doing my best at things. I still have high expectations. But I have learned the world will not end as a result of me messing up, or not being able to do all things at all times. I have learned to give myself grace, and to accept my limitations. What a wonderful lesson to learn!

All that to say, I am going to take a short break from this blog. The Among Friends Conference is happening this weekend and I will be spending most of my day today getting ready for it. I usually spend significant time on Thursdays preparing my blog for the next week. But while I am on this streak of giving myself grace I have decided it would be good to not push myself to the point of irritability by trying to spend most of my day doing TWO things at once. Make sense?

Soooooo, I'll plan to be back on Monday the 25th.
With plenty of pictures and stories about Among Friends.

In the mean time, keep your eyes fixed on HIM!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Are You on the Long Way Around?

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.

Exodus 13:17-18
Have you ever felt certain that God was leading you the long way around on a journey? I hope it will encourage you to know He’s been going the long way for thousands of years.

When He led the Israelites out of Egypt, freeing them from years of slavery, He took them the long way around too. God knew if He took them the shorter way there was a chance they might turn back. They might stop following Him and would miss out on His plan for them. God knew something they did not know, so He led them the long way around.

Surely, it was not for lack of compassion that God made the Israelites walk longer. He knew they were weary from their years of servitude. He knew they would grumble about not having food and water. He knew they would be fearful and complain about the wandering. But He would provide. He would lead them with pillars of cloud and fire. God knew what the Israelites needed — though they could not see — and He was faithful to deliver exactly what they needed. He was faithful to deliver them to the Promised Land.

What road are you traveling today? Does it feel too long? Are you tired of walking? Do you wish God would show you the short cut? Be assured — God knows what He’s doing. Keep following where He leads!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Three weeks from today...

...I will be speaking for a Moms' Night Out event in Ludington, Michigan.

On April 2, at 6:30 pm, I am scheduled to speak for a Moms' Night Out at the United Methodist Church of Ludington, and I.can't.wait!
I enjoy any opportunity I have to speak with moms, but these Moms' Night Out events are - by far - my favorite.
I love that we have extended time together and are able to go deeper than at a typical moms group meeting.
I love the prayer time at the end of the program.
And I love the fellowship afterward.

If you're going to be in northern Michigan on April 2, I would love to see you there. And if you know any northern Michigan moms-who-need-encouragement, please tell them about this event!

Please contact Kristen for tickets, or if you have questions.


Monday, March 11, 2013

The Wonders HE Has Done

I'll get us started...
The past couple weeks have been crazy-busy for me, especially as I'm getting ready for the Among Friends Conference this weekend. I have often felt like there was too much for me to do, and I have been overwhelmed.
What an absolute delight it has been to see God intervene and make a way for me.
I pray daily, JESUS, please order my steps! And HE has. Over and over again, I see God clearing my path and showing me where to walk.

Thank You, JESUS!

Please take a moment to leave a comment telling of the wonders you've seen God doing.


Friday, March 08, 2013

Lessons From the Edge

God's got it!

OK, this is another lesson which isn't *new* to me. Or to you, either, I suppose.
But sometimes the things we already know are worth repeating.

Ya know?


Bingo at Edgewood is a very big thing. The residents love live for it. And for one reason or another I have been having trouble recently finding regular volunteers to call Bingo. (Mondays at 3, Thursdays and Saturdays at 7 - for any of you who might be interested...) So I often end up staying late, or going back in to call Bingo myself.
Now, you know I love my Edgewood friends, but there does come a time when I'm ready to not be there anymore.

Well, I thought I had someone lined up to call Bingo last night, but by the time I left work Wednesday afternoon - I hadn't heard from him. And in spite of my attempts to find someone else, I figured I would need to make a trip in Thursday night to call Bingo.
And I might not have been very happy about that prospect. *ahem!*

But yesterday, as I was going about my business, enjoying my day off *smile!* I got a text from my boss. And I panicked for just a second.
What did I forget to do???
But when I read the text, I learned that my "missing" Bingo caller had just called Edgewood to say he'd be there Thursday night.
I had a HUGE smile on my face as I looked heavenward and thanked God for taking care of my little details. Not always according to my schedule, but always right on time!

Are you worried about something today?
Remember: God's got it!


Thursday, March 07, 2013

Confirmation: It's Really Happening

Tuesday I found this message in my inbox:

Visit Calvin
Calvin Visit Confirmation

And it contained (in part) this letter:
Dear Elizabeth,

I am delighted that you are planning to visit Calvin! I have begun to make the arrangements for your time on campus and thought it would be helpful to confirm the details of your visit with you.

I knew it was coming. I was standing with Elizabeth when she made the reservations for our campus visits. But, somehow, the confirmation email made it all more real.

My baby girl is getting ready to leave the nest.

We'll be visiting two college campuses in Grand Rapids at the end of the month. More to come on later dates... And I need to get ready.
This is the time when my faith in my loving Father is going to carry me. I know God knows where Elizabeth will go to college. HE knows what she'll do and how she'll do it. HE has great plans, and I can trust Him.
So thankful that GOD has it all figured out!

With what (or whom) do you need to be trusting God today?


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

I Want to be Like that Dog

The other day I was stopped at an intersection, waiting for the light to turn green, when I saw a man on a bicycle riding toward me.

And there by his side was a big, beautiful, black dog.

The man rode out onto the street in front of my van, and the dog trotted right along with him. I watched as the man slowed to turn the corner, and observed the dog slowing exactly as his master did. They stopped together, and waited together, and when the man started riding across another road, the dog immediately followed.
I noticed the dog did not hesitate to cross the street with his master after they had waited at the side of the road. Even though there were cars driving by, the dog went obediently after his master. And I marveled at the trust that dog was expressing.
He paid attention to his master's every move and kept up with his every step.
The dog didn't stop his master to discuss the benefits of waiting for this or that car to move or stop; he just trusted his master to know when it was safe to go.
The dog never dropped back to see if his master was going to make it safely across the street before he followed. He simply trotted along - in obedience and trust.

As I sat at the intersection, watching the man on a bicycle and his faithful dog, I saw a beautiful picture of what it looks like to follow Jesus.
And I thought to myself, I want to be like that dog.


Tuesday, March 05, 2013


Joshua was telling Brian and I about his fishing adventures during dinner a couple nights ago. At one point he became quite animated, recalling a raft which was in the river - just like one he and his friends want to make some day.
He told us they were going to take it out for a ride, but didn't have time. And I commented something like, "That's a good thing, since it wasn't yours."
Joshua began to defend their intentions to "borrow" the raft by saying, "Well, no one was using it."

And that's when it got good.

I looked at Brian and said, "When I go to Meijer and see a nice car in the parking lot, maybe I should take it out for a ride - since no one is using it."
And Brian replied, "Yeah. And just think of all those things on the shelves at Meijer which no one is using. Maybe you should take those, too!"
We laughed, and Joshua rolled his eyes. But I wasn't finished. "Oh, and what about the car dealership down the road? There are lots of nice cars in that parking lot which no one is using!"
Finally Joshua interrupted, "OK. I get it."

Our point had been made.

After dinner, Brian and I congratulated each other on our witty lesson. And I realized once again that I am becoming quite the accomplished indirect communicator. *eye roll*


Monday, March 04, 2013

What God CAN Do

I'd love for you to read along with me today!
Go ahead and grab your Bible, and open up to Exodus 5:22.


Friday, March 01, 2013

Lessons From the Edge

Take time to have fun with your family.

Last Friday I interviewed B for his Resident of the Week feature. And when I got to my last question, "As you think back over your life, what would you say is the greatest lesson you've ever learned?" he hardly had to take time to think about it. B just paused briefly, then looked at me and said, "Take time to have fun with your family."
Typically, the life-lessons I hear from Edgewood residents are full of wisdom, and are often quite challenging. But none has been as immediately applicable as B's was for me last week.

Friday when I got home from work, I got busy making dinner - as I usually do. I was looking forward to the weekend, and an opportunity to have some down time - just doing what I want to do. And I was anticipating that doing-what-I-want-to-do-thing beginning right after dinner. However, during dinner the kids started talking about playing a game after dinner. The suggestion was Rummikub, and I could get on board with that idea. I like Rummikub!
But somewhere between my agreeing to play the game and the time it actually started, the game of choice became Monopoly, not Rummmikub.
And now I didn't want to play anymore.
Monopoly was fun to me as a kid, but now I think it takes too long. And it's boring. I seem to spend half my time in jail just trying to roll doubles so I don't have to pay money to get out. Boring!
So I just wasn't going to play.

But then something (or rather, SomeONE) prompted me to put aside my feelings and play anyway. So, I did.
Brian and I, Matthew, Elizabeth, and her friend stayed up until way past my bedtime playing Monopoly. Oh, I spent my fair share of time in jail - never did get those doubles! - and by the time the game was over I was so tired I could barely see straight.
But we had! We laughed a lot. We became expert negotiators, as we tried to convince one another to sell us the properties we wanted. And we learned what happens when you mortgage yourself so far into debt there's nowhere to turn. You lose!
We all went to bed happy that night, because we'd had such a fun time. And as I reflected on my original intent to skip the game - compared to my present satisfaction with having played - I realized the value in the lesson B had shared that morning.

Take time to have fun with your family.