Thursday, July 31, 2014

My First "Last", maybe it isn't the "first". I mean, I've already been through her last day of kindergarten, and her last day of middle school, and her last day of high school. And her last prom. And her last first job. Annnnd her last experience as a camper at summer camp. So, I suppose what lies ahead would more appropriately be called a "new" last.
But it feels like a "first" to me, because we are entering new territory.
And, besides, I like the word play.

First last.

So, that's what it is.

This coming Sunday is when it will happen: the last time Elizabeth and I will be serving in Sunday school together before she leaves for college. Because the following Sunday we'll be visiting my parents, and the Sunday after that? She'll be in Wheaton. *sigh*
I've known the day is coming. Goodness, for eighteen years I've known the day is coming! But now it is less than two weeks away, and the impending good-bye - along with the significant change it will bring to our lives - has become undeniable.
I am still going to be her mom. I am still going to love her and care for her, and offer her guidance whenever she needs it. I am still going to be her most faithful prayer warrior.
None of that will change. Ever.
But many things will change. Especially the frequency with which I get to see my daughter. Our "together times" will decrease. (Though hopefully they'll become even sweeter.)
For me, once I left for college I never really "came home". Summer jobs kept me out of town for my first three years, and after the fourth year, I got married.
I have a sneaky suspicion Elizabeth will follow a similar path.

SO, for all practical purposes, August 3 may very well be the last time Elizabeth and I will ever serve in Sunday school together.
And I don't know who should be the recipient of my condolences.
Our girls, because they aren't going to get to play with Miss Elizabeth anymore, and won't be able to see this lovely teenager who cherishes each of them.
Or me, because my little girl is leaving the nest. *sniff*


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why I Don't Write Novels

I just finished reading Karen Kingsbury's book, Between Sundays.
And I loved it.
('Course, that's the way I've felt about almost every book of hers I have read.)
Anyway, I just loved the story. BUT there was one time I thought I might have been able to do a better job than she did in writing the book. Because there was this time, rather early on, when two of the characters were talking and I was just waiting for one to ask a critical question of the other. If he had asked the question, information would have come out which most likely would have answered some pretty big questions and provided clarity - which would have allowed them to move forward in their relationship, and skip over a lot of pain.
I mean, I was sure it would all work out in the end and ***spoiler alert*** it did. But I thought, C'mon, Karen. You're writing this story. You're in control of it. Why don't you just reveal the information NOW so they can get on with life???
Because waiting? Is not my favorite thing to do. And I didn't want the characters in this novel (whom I was growing to love) to go through unnecessary trials. It just seemed so reasonable to me to let them know all the information and move along.

And that, my dear friends, is why I don't write novels.

Besides the fact that I would have really short books, I fear I would also have really shallow characters. Because as the story went along in Between Sundays, the characters grew in beautiful ways. Karen Kingsbury used their pain and struggles to get them to evaluate themselves. They faced their pasts with honesty, and allowed God to use the bad for good. They learned what it meant to trust their Creator. They learned about humbling themselves. And by the end of the story they had become absolutely beautiful characters. They loved purely and honestly. They looked beyond the outward appearance. They truly wanted what was best for one another. And I was so excited for their future. I knew it would be glorious.
Because of who they had become through their trials.

And that is when I discovered my reading of this novel was a great big object lesson God was using to speak to me. Just like Karen Kingsbury was writing Between Sundays, and she was in control and knew how things would turn out - so God is writing my (& your) story. He is in control. Completely. He knows how everything is going to end. He knows all the information, but He doesn't reveal it all up front. Rather, God allows us to go through times of pain and struggle - and He uses those experiences to shape and grow us. To make us into the people He wants us to be.
And even though I am not a fan of waiting, I can trust that it's all going work out in the end.

Ahhhh. That understanding makes me feel a little more peaceful. How about you?


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Just Watchin'

Last Thursday, Matthew had a job to do. Brian had asked him to wash the screens to the windows, and had them leaning up against the house. Just waiting for Matthew to get to them.
I had reminded Matthew a time, or two, that the screens were waiting. And, finally, I came out and asked, "So, Matthew. When are you planning to take care of your chores?"
**Honest moment: Matthew was using my computer, and I wanted to use it. I thought my more direct question would motivate him to get to work - which would allow me access to my computer. Confession finished.
So, anyway, Matthew hopped up to wash the screens. And I sat down to play work.
Except, I found myself spending more time staring out the window at my boy than looking at the computer screen and getting things done. Because he was working so diligently. And he was being careful to do a good job. And I just stared at my son and realized how much he's growing up. I was proud of the hard work he was doing. I was somewhat surprised that I was sitting and observing, rather than constantly reminding him to stay on task. I was noticing that my little boy has really become a young man.
I sat in my chair, staring out the window, just watchin' my son. Loving every minute of it.

Later the same day I watched him building with his Legos. And those same feelings came over me. It was such a joy.

Do you love someone? Then, today I want to encourage you to take some time and just watch that person. Don't say anything. Don't make a show of it. Hide if you need to. But just spend some time watching them.
Then come back here and tell me how wonderful it was. *grin*


Monday, July 28, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

Just make the call.

Are you super busy? So much to do, and not enough time to get it all done?
Oh, I can so relate! With the many roles we play and the various people who need us for this, that, and the other thing, being super busy can simply become a way of life. (And may be cause for us to re-evaluate what we're doing, and questioning the necessity of those activities. But that is another post for another day.)
Anyway, I understand being busy. But this week, I saw busy in another light.
And I didn't like it.
I was visiting with one of my favorite ladies at Edgewood, and she told me she'd just had a really bad night. She said she wasn't sure she was going to make it through. As in, she was kind of expecting to die that night. And the thing is, she said, no one would have known about it until noon the next day when someone from the kitchen brought her lunch to her apartment. She was expecting a call from her daughter that morning, but the call never came. So no one would have missed her. Because her daughter didn't call.
This dear woman went on to explain that her daughter is very busy. She's having some work done on her house and is expecting visitors. And she is involved in this and that activity. She is very busy. So it's understandable that she didn't call.
But she was supposed to call.
M was expecting her call.
But the call didn't come.
Her daughter is a very busy person, after all.

And that's what I kept hearing. M had so hoped her daughter would call, but she didn't. Because she's busy. And even though she didn't say it in so many words, I know M was very saddened by the missing phone calls.
As are so many other men and women I know at Edgewood. Sad, because someone is too busy to visit - or at least call.

Reflecting on that conversation was rather convicting for me. I thought of the many times I have considered calling someone to check in on them, or stopping in for a quick visit - even if just to say, "Hi!" But then I have gotten involved in another activity and time got away from me, and I never made that connection. Because I was "too busy".

I'm so sorry!

Are you "with me" in that conviction? Know what? I bet your phone is real close to you right now. Maybe even in your hand? If your heart is feeling convicted, too, if there is someone whose day would be brightened by simply hearing your voice, do us all a favor.

Just make the call.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's Who I Want to Be

The LORD detests men of perverse heart, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
Proverbs 11:20

A good man obtains favor from the LORD, but the LORD condemns a crafty man.
Proverbs 12:2

The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.
Proverbs 12:22

He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
Proverbs 15:8

The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
Proverbs 15:9

The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
Proverbs 15:29

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.
Proverbs 17:3

All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.
Proverbs 21:2
As I have been reading the book of Proverbs - besides thinking a lot about my words and seeking wisdom - I have been overwhelmed with a desire to be the woman God has created me to be. I read these verses about what the LORD loves, and what He detests; about what delights Him, and what He condemns, and I just want to live a life which pleases Him.
And those last two verses have really gotten me, too. Being who He wants me to be isn't about what I'm doing on the outside. He knows my heart - and it all has to be right there. So I pray, LORD, change me. Make me into the woman You want me to be. Please work in me that which is pleasing to You today.

How does God speak to you through these words from Proverbs?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Sky is Falling

Er, no it isn't. That's my husband and daughter!

That's what I was thinking last Thursday as I stared up into the sky and saw two little dots. Something was definitely falling from the sky. Just moments before, I had seen the airplane in which my husband and daughter were flying. And now there were those two little dots, getting bigger and bigger.
Finally, there was a burst of "big-ness" and that's when I started breathing normally again.
Because that is the moment I knew the parachutes had opened, and two of my greatest loves were going to live to see another day.

The crazy thing is, all this drama was intentional. That is, my husband and daughter jumped out of a perfectly good airplane - on purpose.
In other words, they went skydiving.
The adventure for Elizabeth was a graduation gift from her aunt and uncle, and she has been looking forward to it for years. Brian jumped, too, because he couldn't bear the thought of not getting in on the fun. And I? Was given the option to jump, but I couldn't imagine myself hurling toward the earth at 120 miles per hour spending that much money, so I chose to stay on the ground and observe.
And, honestly, I was super excited for the two of them. I knew how much they were looking forward to the insanity adventure, and I was happy to see it take place. BUT - just as honestly - I did have a feeling of concern which was relieved as soon as I saw that parachute finally open up. Something about knowing two of the dearest people in your life are racing from 10,000 feet above the ground at 120 miles per hour (Don't know why the instructors had to repeat those statistics so many times. If not to make a wife/mother nervous!) does a number on your nerves and imagination.

In the end, both Brian and Elizabeth were ecstatic. And given the chance (and the money!) I know they'd do it again in a heartbeat.

And, maybe I will, too. Maybe. *wink*


Monday, July 21, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

Just because something has always been done "this way" doesn't mean you always have to do it "that way".


I do not understand why some things take me so long to learn.

Check that.

What I really do not understand is why I cannot think of some things on my own.
As in, why do I make some things so complicated when the solution appears to other people rather quickly? It's like I'm stuck in this certain way of doing things, and I can't see out. Like I'm blind to the possibilities. Er, my eyes were giving me trouble a couple nights ago when I was trying to read small print. Maybe I really am going blind...
Ahhhh, I digress.

The truth is, I am super excited about a women's group we're going to begin next month at Edgewood. We're going to watch and discuss Forever in Love with Jesus, and I am simply delighted as I think about what a beautiful experience this is going to be. So much so, that I was contemplating going in on my day off to lead the study. Because Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings won't work; we have exercise class. And Tuesday is not a possibility; that's when we have our regular Bible study. So, the only other option I could conceive of was Thursday morning. I wasn't crazy about the idea, but I just couldn't see how we could make it happen any other way without ruining what already works.
So this week as Shelly and I were creating the August calendar I shared my dilemma with her, and she got this kind of Really? You think that's the only solution? look on her face. And I'm all, Yeah. We can't change anything. We've always done things the way we're doing them now.
And then Shelly said this really crazy, out-of-the-box thing. She said, "Why don't we schedule it Friday at 9am? And move exercise back to 10:30, instead of 10:00?" And I'm all, "That is such a good idea. You're brilliant!"
We talked more about the good things this time change will bring to our Friday routines. And I was so, so pleased with the solution Shelly had proposed. (Besides the fact that my Thursdays will remain "mine".)

Actually, it is a little embarrassing to admit that I was so stuck in the box. But now that I've been set free I am happy to share the good lesson with you. *smile*
Just because something has always been done "this way" doesn't mean you always have to do it "that way".

Are you stuck in any boxes today?

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

And I Didn't Even Feel Mean

My kids have regular chores around the house.
Even during the summer.
And even after they've been at camp for a week and are sooooooo out of practice. *wink*

So, Tuesday morning when I walked into the kitchen and realized Matthew hadn't taken the trash and recycling to the curb Monday night, I knew what I had to do. I went to his bedroom and opened the door. Seeing him snuggled up cozily in his bed, I walked over and touched him gently. Then I said, "Hey, mister. You didn't take out the trash and recycling last night. You need to get up right now and take care of that, before they come to get it."
Matthew groaned. I took hold of his blankets and pulled them off of his tired little body and said, "Come on!"
And I left his room.

Moments later, Matthew was plodding through the kitchen - eyes still half shut - and he managed to get out of his mouth, "Will someone help me?" When I answered with a 'no', he said very clearly, "This is stupid!" and he slammed the door on the way out to the garage.
Ahhhh, silly kid! I didn't see anything "stupid" about it at all. In fact, I thought it was pretty smart of me to get him out of bed to do the chore he was supposed to do before he got in to bed. Otherwise, in the future he might think he can skip his chores and just know that I'll take care of them. Not.gonna.happen.
Naaahhhh, that wasn't stupid at all. The way I see it, I was helping him get smarter. Remember to plan ahead. Take responsibility. Do the right thing. All that jazz.

Besides, he got to go right back to bed. *grin*


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Today I'm at: i am servant

Last week the sermon at church was all about our words.

A few days ago someone asked me, The peace that comes over you hearing a graceful melody - is that how you are heard?

And every day since the beginning of the month, I have been reading a chapter of Proverbs.

Words - what I say, how I say it, and the way in which it's heard - have been heavy on my mind. Because I am becoming more and more aware just how powerful our words are. To build up, or to tear down.

To read the rest, please visit me today at i am servant.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Profile of a Terrorist?

So, we're in the airport in Cancun, going through security on our way home. And Elizabeth gets "flagged" for a random search.

I know it had to be a random search, because, really. If you looked at my sweet daughter, there is no way you would think she's a terrorist.
First of all, she was carrying a bright pink back pack.
And the back pack had two key chains on it. One was a cute little squirrel in a sleeping bag. The other simply said, "Trust." Not very threatening so far.
The security officer unzipped the back pack, reached in, and produced two stuffed animals. Still not threatening.
Then he reached in and pulled out a rectangular box-y object which was covered in flower-y material and lace. I could see him asking Elizabeth to explain the item. And I wanted to call out, "Careful! It's sharper than a double-edged sword!" (The item in question was her Bible.) The officer unzipped the cover and flipped through it a bit. At that point, I suppose it could have been threatening. In a good way.
When he was convinced the Bible could pass through security, the officer gave a general pat-down over the rest of the back pack. And got very excited when he felt something suspicious at the bottom. He rather frantically searched through the remaining pockets until he located the offending item.
Reaching deep into the back pack, he grabbed it and triumphantly removed a...

...bright purple (empty) water bottle.

I'm not sure if he was shaking his head as he returned the bottle to its location, or if it just looked that way because I was laughing. Either way, the security officer determined that my daughter and her belongings posed no threat to the airline, and she was allowed to proceed.

I could have told that man my girl is not dangerous. The kind of girl who carries a pink bag and a purple water bottle, stuffed animals and a Bible? Her heart is more beautiful than her outsides, and her outsides are lovely.
She isn't going to harm anyone.
She's no terrorist.
BUT, armed with her Sword and empowered by the Spirit, I am praying she'll be a mighty warrior in her Father's army.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

Love makes it all better.

Many of the men and women with whom I interact at Edgewood aren't "who they used to be". Oh, how often I hear them utter things like, "I used to be able to walk that fast," and, "My memory isn't as good as it once was," and, "I can't see as well anymore," and,"I'm just kind of falling apart."
Mind, body, and otherwise, many of the folks at Edgewood are experiencing the toll time takes on a person. And it can be a pretty frustrating transition. Aging, that is.
There is one woman, S, who is particularly struggling with her mind/memory. And it makes her sad. This week when she came into exercise class one day she said to me, "I need to whisper something to you." So I got close to her and she said, "I don't like it when I come into a room and people treat me like an invalid."
Note: This lovely woman really does need special treatment. As in, specific instruction. When she walks into a room you need to tell her to sit down, and exactly where to do it. When the elevator door opens up, she needs to be told to walk into it. To get her to turn around, it is often necessary to take hold of her walker and physically turn her. Something just isn't connecting in her brain, so she needs those specifics. But, apparently, that makes her feel like an invalid.
I put my arm around her and whispered back, "S, you aren't an invalid. I love you!" And we got started with exercise class.
When we were finished exercising, I walked around and greeted each person, thanking them for coming to class that day. And when I got to S, I reminded her she could get up from her chair, I helped her get situated with her walker, then I kissed her on the cheek and said, "I love you!"
And from the smile on her face, I could tell - she wasn't feeling like an invalid in that moment.

Sometimes even the smallest expression of love can change a person's outlook.
Is there someone who needs to know you love them today?

Love makes it all better.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Alphabet Soup for Dinner

I told you once that my household and our various "issues" make us resemble the alphabet.
And I mentioned recently that Brian had a great idea to have the kids make dinner once a week this summer.
Well, when you put those two items together? Let me tell you: I'm not sure the alphabet and dinner preparation are a healthy combination. *ahem*

This recovering perfectionist mother with GAD, supervising/teaching her ADHD w/significant OCD tendencies son could have resulted in the need for a CPS intervention. I'm just sayin'.
Picture this:
*I'm in the kitchen to provide support and guidance to Matthew as he prepares dinner.
*The preparation is supposed to be his job, so I am trying to be as hands-off as possible. And being hands-off is not in my I'm-trying-to-recover-from-being-a-perfectionist-nature. That, in itself, is anxiety-producing to me.
*Matthew is doing a fair job with his work, but soon gets off task and needs to be reminded to make dinner.
*I demonstrate slicing and removing fat from the meat. And quickly regret it, as Matthew becomes focused on cutting out every.single.molecule.of.fat.
*So I call him back to the task at hand: getting dinner prepared and on the table, even with a few little tiny pieces of fat left in it.
*As he is slicing an onion, his OCD kicks in again, and Matthew appears to be intent on picking off every.single.little.piece.of.root.
*I take a deep breath and tell him to just cut off the end of the onion with the knife.
*With the slicing done, the meat goes into the pan and Matthew meticulously turns each piece to make sure it cooks evenly.
*On to mixing the sauce ingredients. It takes a while, because Matthew gets distracted playing in the water when I tell him to wash out a bowl.
*As each sauce ingredient is added to the bowl, Matthew wants to remove labels, rinse cans, and put them out into the recycling bin. I note his fixation with desire to take care of the cans, but instruct him that those things are better done after everything is mixed and happily cooking on the stove. And I take another deep breath.
*It's time to get the veggies ready and Matthew goes to the refrigerator to retrieve them. But somehow he gets distracted by the drawer. Yeah. I don't get it, either.
*Cutting up the vegetables is taking too long, and my GAD is taking over, so I gingerly get the knife and cut up the rest of them myself - having Matthew place the veggies into the steamer. And the next thing I know, he's picking up each little ball of broccoli (You know what I'm talking about, right? The tiny round pieces on the top, which fall off when you're cutting the bunch into florets.) and putting them in the trash.
*Finally, the stroganoff is ready, the noodles are cooked (I got those going when Matthew was slicing the onions), and the vegetables are steamed. I tell Matthew to call everyone to the table. Only, he is nowhere to be found. Apparently all the focusing he had to do over the previous 30 minutes was too much for him, and he had to escape to another room.

In the end, dinner was delicious and Matthew and I laughed about our alphabet struggles. Referring to his ADHD/OCD moments, Matthew smiled and said, "Thanks for putting up with me, Mom." I replied, "Thanks for making dinner, Matthew."
And I made a mental note to practice more relaxation techniques before the next time Matthew is up for dinner duty.

The funny thing is, as I am getting ready to post this entry Matthew is going all over the family room with the vacuum cleaner. There will not be a speck of dirt left when he's finished.
This is the part of his OCD tendencies I like. *wink*


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

It's Just So... Reasonable

My church is currently reading through the book of Proverbs. One chapter each day in the month of July. And the weekend sermons are focusing on what we have read over the previous week.
It's a good thing.

I have read the book of Proverbs many times before, and I have several favorite verses which come from these words of wisdom. But this time as I am reading through (Granted I've only covered eight chapters to date.) I find myself caught up with one thought:
It makes so much sense to seek wisdom.
I mean, seriously! These chapters have laid out warnings against rejecting wisdom, and countless benefits of following it. We're warned about being fools, and assured that we will be protected and life will be good if we seek wisdom. Goodness, we're even promised that if we seek wisdom - we'll find it! (8:17)
So, I'm reading these proverbs and learning more about wisdom. Chapter 8 tells us wisdom is true and not wicked (v.7), it is just and not perverse (v.8), it is more precious than rubies (v.11), it possesses counsel and sound judgement (v.14), it was brought forth by God as the first of His works (v.22), and participated with Him in all creation (v.30).
1 Corinthians 1:30 tells us Jesus, Himself, is wisdom.

So I read all these things, and I think, It makes so much sense to seek wisdom.
And then I wonder, Why do I ever doubt God? Why do I ever think my own way is better? More wise? Why???
OK. I know the reason why. It's the constant battle between my redeemed spirit, and my sinful nature. That battle will continue until the day I leave this earth, and go Home to where I really belong. But one thing this study of Proverbs has clearly motivated me to do is this: To keep on seeking Him, and to keep feeding my spirit the Truth of His Word. Because, when you take time to look at it, It makes so much sense to seek wisdom.

It's just so...Reasonable!

With what are you feeding your spirit today?


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Deja Vu

So, when we were in Mexico the kids enjoyed spending their evenings at the teen "night club". They met a few other kids who were also staying at the resort and they all had fun together. And I was cool with that.
But on about our fourth night, at roughly 1:00 in the morning, I woke up to discover that the boys weren't back yet. I wasn't sure I should be worried, but it was so late. (!)
And they hadn't been out this late before.
And our cell phones didn't work in Mexico. (OK, they would work, be we are entirely too cheap to pay the exorbitant fees.)
So we couldn't just call them to inquire of their whereabouts, or whenabouts (You know, 'When about are you fixin' to get back here?'), or any other abouts.
Therefore, panic was the only reasonable response I could muster up. Only, I was way too tired to put realistic energy into my panic mode. So I woke up Brian and told him the situation. And asked him to go out looking for them.
(I was tired, remember? I felt bad for asking Brian to go out, but I just didn't have the energy to get out of bed, myself. And I couldn't call myself a mother if I just went back to sleep knowing my boys were out there somewhere, probably getting attacked, or something. So, I did the best I could. I sent someone else! And I tried to stay awake while I prayed for them all. *wink*)
And every now and then, I also sensed some anger rising in me. What were those boys thinking by staying out so late? Didn't they have any sense of respect for their dear mother who was struggling to stay awake while they were probably getting torn to shreds by some crazy tropical-ish animal? They could have at least called the room!

In the end, the boys came back on their own. (Read that: Before the resort security team found them and TOLD them to come back.) They weren't getting attacked, torn to shreds, or even causing trouble. They'd simply gone with their new friends to walk along the beach and wandered a bit further than they had realized. Since Brian and I had been asleep every other night when they'd gotten back from the teen-thing, they figured we didn't really care what time they turned in. And calling never crossed their minds, as they weren't aware they could use any ole phone in the resort to call us.
At first, I wasn't willing to accept their excuses as valid. I was a worried momma, and I wanted them to pay.(!) Until God's Spirit allowed me to remember a time when I was a senior in high school - out late with friends. We weren't getting into trouble. We were just having something to eat at Denny's and totally lost track of time.
I didn't know my mom was at home, worried sick about me.
I had no idea she had sent my dad out driving around, because she was just sure I was in a ditch somewhere.
Calling to let them know where I was at such a late hour never crossed my mind. I mean, I knew I was fine - so what's to worry?
And that's when I got it. A little feeling of deja vu. I had a sudden and instant wave of understanding for my boys, and all was forgiven.

BUT, we were very clear the next night about expectations and responsibilities. *smile*


Monday, July 07, 2014

Friday, July 04, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

I have so much growing to do.

And as if I needed further proof of that truth, I just got it by the fact that typing it out was such a chore. *ahem*
When I returned from vacation, I came back to work to a new supervisor. That is, we now have our FULL TIME Life Engagement Director in place at Edgewood. I am continuing on in my part-time roll, and that makes her my supervisor. And, as you may recall from a previous post, I am very happy to have her on staff. The demands of my job are way too much for a 24-hour/week position. Together, she and I are going to be able to bring a much better program.
I have known these benefits in my head for a very long time. But when we began putting together some plans this week, I discovered my heart still has a way to go. That is, we are coming up with some really cool ideas and I love the plans we're making. I'm excited for August when we're going to unveil our first month of "together" plans.
BUT, as Shelly and I were brainstorming and building off one another, I began to sink back to my feelings of inadequacy. Thoughts like this were going through my head: But I did a good job, didn't I? I planned cool stuff, didn't I? Or, maybe not. These activities we're planning are awesome. Why didn't I ever come up with something like this on my own? Why couldn't I be as good as her? I'm such a loser.
And, to be honest, I felt like I was on the verge of tears much of the time.

Thankfully, God caught me as I was falling. He reminded me of the Truth I learned before. And He reassured me, it's still True today.

The thing is, it really frustrates me to ride this roller-coaster of ups and downs, feeling good and struggling with depressive episodes.
I just want to be steady.
But I'm not.
I'm still learning. Still growing. Still in need of a Savior.
And, ya know? The more I think about it, the more I understand this is the best place for me to be. Constantly needing and receiving the grace of my Father.

I have so much growing to do.
And that's a very good thing.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

An Airplane Parable

During our flight from Chicago to Cancun I had the joy of sitting next to a little boy, about 4 years old, and his mother. My young neighbor was quiet and content for most of the flight - enjoying a portable video game. But as we began our descent to Cancun, he began to speak up. Because he was having ear problems.
And when I say ear problems, I mean 4-year-old-sized ear problems.
You know? The kind you don't really understand, so you blow them out of proportion and think the world is coming to an end.
This poor little guy was miserable. In spite of his mother's efforts to comfort him - with sips of pop, and gum, and rubbing his ears and back - nothing seemed to help. In fact, he got to the point of crying out, "I can't take it anymore!" And he said to his mother, "I don't like this place," (referring to our destination). "I wish we weren't even taking this trip."

And there - in the midst of my sympathetic yearnings to take away this little guy's ear pain - God gave me a glimpse of how He sees our heart pain.

I thought about my young friend's words of disdain toward Mexico. Considered the irony of his dislike for such a beautiful place where he was likely to have so much fun. And I realized he couldn't even comprehend the delights which awaited him on the other side of the airport. His little ears were hurting, and - for the moment - that pain was the only thing which seemed real to him. Mom's love and comforting touch, attempts to get his ears to 'pop', words of encouragement - none of it was a help to this great big 4-year-old-sized problem.
Oh, how I wanted to be able to be able to explain to my young friend how wonderful his vacation in Mexico was going to be. How I wanted to assure him that when we landed his ears would feel better, he'd quickly get over the discomfort, and once he got into the fun of it all - he'd likely forget that his ears had ever been in pain. I'd been to Mexico before. I knew some of the wonders in store for him. My experience granted me the knowledge that this moment of ear pain was only temporary, and the joy would far out-weigh it.

But in that moment, all my 4-year-old friend knew was that his ears hurt. A lot.

Aren't we much the same way when our hearts are hurting?
Our pain may be from a bad decision we made. It may be coming from a difficult circumstance we're facing. Perhaps the pain is from a broken relationship, or promise. Maybe our heart is aching from watching someone we love go through their own painful situation. Or, maybe we don't even understand the source of our sorrow - and that confusion only increases our pain.
And there sits our God, loving us and offering comforting words, encouraging us to persevere.
HE sees us in our pain and HE cares.
Yet we remain focused on our pain. Concerned that we can't take it anymore, and afraid it will never end.
Remember, friend, our God also sees what lies ahead of us. HE knows the joy we'll experience on the other side of the pain.
HE's been there.
HE's there right now.
And we can trust HIM.

Are you experiencing a 4-year-old-sized problem today? I pray God will help you trust Him in the midst of it.


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

HeBrews: A Better Blend

In this world of cyber-space, high-tech gadgets, and virtual relationships, I have come to know the blessing of real love, and real friendship. Even with some people I've only met in real life one time.
Such is the case with Leah Adams.
We've been blogging buddies for I-don't-even-know-how-many-years. We've shared joys and frustrations. We've encouraged each other. We actually had the opportunity to spend a weekend together in 2010. And in many ways, I view Leah as my big sister. She has a heart completely devoted to God, and I know I can trust her judgement and counsel. So, when Leah was building a team to promote her newest Bible study, I was eager to jump on board with my support.

Now, without further ado, allow me to introduce to you: my friend, Leah Adams, and her book, HeBrews: A Better Blend.

• Leah, I may have readers who have not met you online. What would you like for my readers to know about you?

I am a North Georgia girl who loves Jesus—A LOT. I asked Jesus to come into my heart at the age of 15. Within a few years, I made some horrible moral choices that drew me away from Him. I spent the better part of my 20s walking far from Jesus, and God let me go my own way until I was sick of it. Then, just like the prodigal son’s father, God welcomed me back, and overwhelmed me with a desire for His Word and His presence. He made it clear that nothing I had done, no sin I had committed, changed how He felt about me. God loved me with a ridiculous love. He lavished grace on the heart of His daughter, and ultimately called me into ministry in 2007.
My passion is teaching God’s Word, and He allows me to do that through two avenues: speaking and writing. I have had the privilege of speaking to groups all across the United States. While my signature message is about the legacy we are leaving for the generations that come behind us, the ultimate message is always about the grace, love, acceptance, and mercy that can only be found in Jesus Christ. I love speaking to women of all ages, but my heartbeat is for women under 40 years of age. My hope is that the words God gives me encourage and challenge women to walk intimately with Jesus every single day they walk the dusty sod of earth. I want them to know that Jesus loves them more than they can imagine.
Another area of ministry that the Lord has assigned to my husband and me jointly is ministry to international students who are studying in the US. Over 750,000 students from other countries study in America every year, and the vast majority of them are never in an American home. What a missed opportunity for the church of Jesus Christ to show the love of Jesus to students who might, otherwise, never hear about Him! Greg and I regularly host international students in our home, and have developed close friendships with many of them. In fact, we have become ‘American parents’ to a delightful young woman from Australia. God brought Bree, Greg, and me together, and she is now very much a part of our family. We love her as if she were our own.

• What occupies your free time? Hobbies, interests?

I love to read….Christian fiction and biographies are what can be found on my bookshelf, alongside lots of biblical commentaries, Bible translations, and cookbooks. I enjoy cooking, camping in our fifth wheel RV, and spending time with my husband and my girlfriends.

• What are some items on your bucket list?

I would love to visit Australia, Germany, Hawaii, Alaska, and the Grand Canyon. Speaking gigs in any of those places would make the trip that much sweeter! My husband is a golfer, and we would like to attend the Master’s golf tournament. I sponsor two girls in Tanzania through Compassion International, and visiting them one day is definitely on the list. I would like to write another Bible study, or ten, if the Lord gives me the words. As I said, I love to cook, and attending a weekend Southern Living cooking school would be great fun. A return visit to a hummingbird haven where many different types of hummingbirds are together in one place is on the list. I’m amazed at those little fliers.

• How did you develop an interest in writing and when did you begin writing seriously?

I have enjoyed writing and public speaking from my junior high school days. I always excelled in English, and term papers were never a drag for me. I know….I’m a geek.
My deep-end dive into writing came in 2002 when my Daddy was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. As he progressed through his chemo treatments, I would write a weekly email to family and friends who wanted to keep up with his progress. Each email would close with a few inspirational thoughts that usually included Scripture. After my Daddy graduated to heaven in late 2004, people began asking if I would write a weekly devotion and send it out via email. After a year or so of doing that, over 125 people were receiving each email, but unfortunately, my ISP was deleting the emails as spam. It was at that point that I made the jump to a blog format, where I now offer my writing.
When the Lord called me into ministry in late 2007, I needed something to speak about, and that something was the topic of legacy. For my first speaking engagement, I wrote a 15 minute message about the legacy we, as Christians, are leaving for the generations that come behind us. Eventually that message grew into an hour-long message, and ultimately became the foundation of my first Bible study, From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest: Creating a Godly Legacy, which was published in 2010.

• What is the back story behind HeBrews? What was the impetus for you to write this book?

I began writing HeBrews: A Better Blend purely out of obedience to the Lord. Several years prior to writing the study, I had done a pretty intense self-study of the book of Hebrews. It was my hope that the Lord might allow me to write something out of that time of study, but I wasn’t sure. Perhaps it had just been for my edification. In 2012, I sensed the Lord giving me the go-ahead to write a Bible study from the book of Hebrews. I’ve learned that when God says do something, the best response is ‘Yes sir’. So, write I did. I had no intention of publishing HeBrews, thinking it would just be an act of obedience, and perhaps a study that my Tuesday morning small group would do. God had other plans. When I was about halfway through the writing, my friend, Brooke, introduced me to the wonderful woman who is now my Editor at Warner Press. One thing led to another and before I knew it, God had opened the door for HeBrews to be published. It was totally a God-thing, and I often tell Him that this is His doings, and the responsibility is on Him to place HeBrews into the hands of the people who need to read it.

• Share with us a bit about your book.

HeBrews: A Better Blend is an eight-week Bible study that takes the student through the entire book of Hebrews. The Old Testament constructs that were so important to the Israelites, i.e. Old Testament tabernacle, priest, sacrifice, and covenant, are examined alongside the New Testament parallels that we find in Jesus. Jesus was the BETTER priest, administering a BETTER covenant, offering a BETTER sacrifice, and ultimately bringing us into a BETTER tabernacle.
There are five days of homework each week, and most days the student studies from both the Old and New Testaments. HeBrews: A Better Blend can be done by individuals, and in group settings. At the beginning of each week of study, I offer a dessert recipe taken from my collection, or from the collections of some of my friends and family. Dessert definitely makes Bible study richer. No pun intended!

• Why should someone read HeBrews: A Better Blend? What does it offer them personally?

The study of Scripture, God’s Love Letter to humankind, is as important to me as taking my next breath. Without it, I would be right back in the ditch of sin that I crawled out of 20 years ago. HeBrews: A Better Blend offers the reader a guided study of the book of Hebrews, as well as opportunities to apply faith principles to their own life, and grow in their faith in Jesus Christ.

• How can my readers find you? Blog? Social media?

I would love to meet your readers. They can find me at my website and blog, The Point, at

I am also on several social media platforms:
Facebook Ministry page
HeBrews Facebook page

• When and where will HeBrews: A Better Blend be available to the public?

The release date for the Bible study is July 1st. It should be available at major e-tailers, as well as Christian bookstores.

• What final thoughts would you like to share with my readers?

I want to encourage your readers to fix their eyes on Jesus. My prayer is that they will raise their eyes above the horizon of their circumstances (good or bad), and look to Jesus for their strength and hope. He is everything we need. EVERYTHING! Developing an intimate relationship with Jesus will not happen accidently. It requires intentionality, perseverance, and lots of time allowing Scripture to speak to the heart. Once a heart gets a taste of walking in intimacy with Christ, there is no going back. I want that for your readers, because I know what a thrill it is to me.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Our Week in Mexico

Never a rain drop.

Only one over-cast morning. (And it cleared up nicely.)

Perfectly warm temperatures.

Wonderful company. (The entire Hossink clan!)

Beautiful accommodations.

Fun adventures.

Charming wildlife.

And I never had to cook a thing!

What could be better? *smile*

We had a fabulous time in Mexico last week. Specifically in Riviera Maya. And here, for your opportunity to combat jealousy viewing pleasure, are a few pictures I took to share some of our experience with you:
Elizabeth and Matthew went para-sailing.
And Josh caught a 37-inch barracuda.

Annnnd, I have some great stories to share, too.
But not yet. First, I get to tell you about a new Bible study written by a friend of mine. That'll be up tomorrow. Mexico stories will start Thursday. *smile*