Did you know yesterday was National Chocolate Day?Yeah. I didn't either. Until I read about it in the announcements at work. And it just so "happened" that one of the day's activities was a cooking demonstration of Chocolate No-Bake Cookies. Coincidence? I think, NOT!So, as soon as dinner was over I got busy with a few of my favorite friends and I showed them how to prepare those tasty treats. (Most of these women had never made No-Bakes before. It was fun to see how amazed they were that you can NOT BAKE cookies. *smile*) As you can imagine, the chocolate-y aroma filling the kitchen made our mouths water. And when we sampled the cookies (Still warm. Yummmmm!) everyone was delighted. But the most delightful part was when I witnessed one particular lady ticking off a mental list of everyone in the building with whom she wanted to share the extra cookies. Oh, she kept me busy running from room to room as I hand-delivered each cookie at her command.Oh, if you could only have seen the way their faces lit up as I told them we'd just made cookies and wanted to share. Many of them resembled excited kids on Christmas morning who've just been given a great big gift to open. It was beautiful!And all because one dear woman made sure we shared. Is there someone in your life upon whom you want to shower some TLC? Why not try sharing a chocolate cookie???P. S. We're getting Elizabeth back Sunday! And we're whisking her away to take a short family vacation next week. Sooooo, I'll not be posting here until (probably) August 8.Until then, may the peace of Christ rest upon you, and may His grace sustain you.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Last week I received an email from a very worn-out, discouraged mother. Who happens to be expecting her fifth child(!) at the end of next month. As I typed out my response to her, I couldn't help but remember the struggle of having littles. Of battling feelings of jealousy towards a husband who "got to" be gone so often for work and work-related activities, when I "had to" be home with the children. While simultaneously being grateful beyond words for his efforts and long hours - which allowed me to be home with the children. (Yeah. That nearly gave me whiplash, too. No wonder moms are such volatile creatures! *wink*) I could recall the angst I felt toward their angst. The days when I wanted to fall on the floor kicking and screaming, simply because they were. And it wasn't because they made it look so attractive. It's just that I felt like I was about to explode, and kicking and screaming seemed like a good release. I resonated with her disdain for a young child's expression of disrespect - though I've found it doesn't change much when they're teenagers. *ahem* And with sadness I identified with her comment that she often finds herself so angry and short-tempered that she doesn't even laugh when her kiddos do something cute.Oh, those were some tough days.Then, yesterday morning during my quiet time, I was reminded again of another years-ago struggle. When I longed, even ached, for quiet time alone with God. When I simply wished for an uninterrupted opportunity to read my Bible and pray. When I would have loved to not have to tip-toe down the stairs, fearing that one creak in the floor would invite a trio of "helpers" - who would do anything but help.OK, let's be honest. At the time I just wanted to be ALONE. If God were limited in His ability to be all places at all times, I probably would have been content for Him to rock the babies in the other room while I decompressed. Alone.And the crazy thing?I found myself enjoying the memories.Really.Honest!!!That is, I found myself reflecting on God's faithfulness to see me through those
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Monday night Brian and I were at one of our rental houses painting bedrooms. In the sweltering heat. For our "date night" activity. Yeah. We're quite the romantics.Ahhh, but sometimes necessity trumps romance. And the painting needed to get done.(By the way, if you know any girls looking for a house to rent in Lansing, please send them to me. I would sure love to have girls move in this time. Cuz guys? Oh, how they can trash a house. Just sayin'.)Anyway, back to Monday night. Brian and I were diligently painting trim (and wiping up occasional drips) when he asked me a thought provoking question. In light of all the political rhetoric flying around these days, he said, "Karen, what would you do to make America great again?"First, I laughed because I thought he was joking. Then I paused, because I had no idea what policies would make this nation whole. And, finally, I had an answer. I said, "Well, I have a proposal. But I'm pretty sure it would be met with resistance. No, more than that. A lot of people would have nothing to do with it." In my heart, the answer to the problems we're facing as a nation - no, as an entire world - is submitting to God. If we would only - every.single.one.of.us. - surrender to His Lordship, follow Him, obey His Word, love like He loves, and trust His heart - oh, what a beautiful world we would have in which to live.Can you imagine it?It would be heaven on earth, I'm telling you.Yet, the sad reality is - there are many people who would have nothing to do with it. Because their hearts are hard and their eyes are blind, and they do not understand that God is good. So with this vision fresh in my mind, I am praying for those people. I am begging God for mercy and asking Him to draw this world to Himself.Because HE is our only hope.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
A friend asked me the other day if the listening retreat I'm hosting in October is "for mothers". She wanted to know - what is going to be the subject of the messages I'll be sharing?Actually, her first question could best be answered, "Yes, and." That is, it is for mothers - as I trust God will be speaking to every mother in attendance. And it is for women who are not mothers - as I trust HE will be speaking to the heart of every woman who comes, whether or not she has children. Regarding her second query, over the course of our 24 hours together I will be speaking three times. The text I will be using is Matthew 14:22-33. However, while I have in mind an outline of what I'll say, the focus of the weekend is going to be listening to God - not to me. And so, while the subject of the messages will be that passage, the content of the messages will be unique between each woman and the Holy Spirit.Because HE knows each heart. HE knows every woman's circumstance. HE sees tomorrow. And HE knows what to say. So, what's it about?It's about listening to God and trusting Him to speak the words we need to hear. I cannot wait to witness what HE will do!If you would like to register for this retreat or find out about the details, please visit my website.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
It's simple, really.Just give him a gun! OK. Wondering how many readers have flipped out and are ready to send me hate mail.*wink* But, honestly, that's what just happened in my home. My mom and dad are getting ready to move, and are giving away all the things they don't want to take with them to Florida. Which includes a few guns my dad has had since who knows when. Which included a Remington something-or-other - like the ones that were standard-issue in World War II.Full disclosure: I am not a fan of guns, but Matthew is intrigued by them. Talks about them all the time. And, while I didn't really see the value of this "gift," he was thrilled. And can I tell you? I don't think Matthew has been on his Play Station since we've gotten home with those guns. Granted he's been at work some of the time (Did I mention he's working at Arby's now? Yep. My baby has a job!) but usually if he's home for more than 20 minutes, he's sitting in front of the TV - ridding the (virtual)world of zombies and other bad things.Ahhhh, but not the past few days. Nope. His every spare moment has been spent researching the guns, learning about when and how they were used, and even some studying about how they're made. In his braver moments he has started taking them apart. And I - though I am not terribly interested in the ins and outs of a gun - absolutely love seeing his young mind so engaged. He's all about discovering the mechanics of the gun - figuring out how it works, why this lever goes this way and that one does that, etc. Matthew is like a sponge, eager to soak up information and knowledge about his new finds. And I am delighted to see it.Because I get tired of the constant battle we have over screen time.Soooooo, fellow moms, if you're looking for a way to have your kiddos participate in mind-expanding discoveries - rather than mind-numbing games - might I suggest you let them get into something which really interests them? Even if it means you have to stretch your comfort zone?And, to put any restless hearts at ease - know that everything is secure. Matthew has been through gun safety training. We don't even have ammunition for the guns in the house. No need to worry. Edited to add: *insert eye roll* Not even five hours after I finished writing this post, Matthew was playing on the Play Station. But we had a good conversation about how great it's been for him to be involved in using his mind to learn the past few days. And, he did ask me to leave the tabs open on my computer which he is using to research the guns. So I am confident he'll be back at it soon. *wink*
Monday, July 18, 2016
Friday, July 15, 2016
Oh, what's a girl to do with someone who drives her a little batty?Especially if the one who does the driving is rather irrational at times. (By no fault of her own, that is. Rather, because her mind isn't what it once was.) What if the driver is down-right hostile on occasion? Ah, yes. Such is the scenario I had to handle at GLC this week. There was an argument in the kitchen when my back was turned, and when I approached the table to discuss the problem - one of the involved parties fled the scene. I was very aware of what had happened, and I knew it really wasn't a big deal. So I approached the flee-er and asked if everything was OK. She bemoaned the behavior of "the driver," noting that this wasn't the first time such a demeanor had been displayed. And she went on to say she knew the reason "the driver" was so unkind. She said, "Because I am a Christian!" And she shared an anecdote to prove her point.At which point I looked at my angry friend and I said, "Then you know what we need to do, don't you? We need to love her!" My friend shared another anecdote, and I responded with, "See? We need to love her. We need to keep on loving her!" And as I pleaded with my eyes, my friend agreed to the plan. Thus, we went back to the table to continue with our project.Annnnd, who knows if tomorrow she'll remember our plan? Ahhh, no worries. Sometimes I think these lessons-learned are more for me than the parties involved in the struggle.How about you? Is there a "driver" in your life to whom you can apply this TLC?
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Oh, how many times I rolled my eyes when an "older woman" said things like that to me in years gone by. Because at the time I was so tired of the endless questions, and the constant need to pick up after little hands made big messes. My lap wanted a few minutes to just be mine - not somebody's chair. And I really thought I would be content to never hear a small voice beckoning, MOOOOOOMMMMMY! ever, ever again. I was ready to change my title. (To something, ANYthing, besides "Mom".)Several times. Yep. Those were some rough days. And I believed anyone who thought I'd miss them someday - was crazy.OK. So, fast-forward to a few days ago - and a phone conversation I had with my daughter. Yeah. The one who's in South Dakota for the summer - studying and having a great experience. The same one who graced us with her presence for a short month before going to SD, after she'd spent a semester in Mexico - studying and having a great experience. Of course, I am talking about the very daughter who has spent the majority of the past two years away at school and a summer job - making me feel very lucky to see her face in person on rare occasions. Yeah. That's my girl!So we're talking on the phone the other day, and I'm all excited because she's coming home in a few weeks. And we'll get to spend a few weeks with her before she's off to school again. And then she informs me that, Oh, by the way, she won't be coming home much next semester. Because she's probably going to her roommate's home in Colorado for Thanksgiving. And she and her roomie have decided to stay on campus to just hang out and have fun during Fall Break. BUT, she will be home for Christmas. I shook my head and thought, Gee. I guess this is what it means to miss those days. Because my girl is almost all grown up. And she's out in the world learning stuff and experiencing great things. She has a beautiful heart and love for the Lord, and she is spreading His love everywhere she goes.She's pretty much smarter than I am. She cleans up after herself. My lap really isn't adequate to serve as a sitting place for her anymore.And I absolutely LOVE IT that she still calls me, "Mommy".Ah, yes. This is as it should be. My girl growing up, living the life God has called her to live.But I sure do miss her!*sigh*
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
I know I am not the only one who is heart-broken over the shootings which took place last week.And I doubt I am the only one who keeps asking questions like, WHY? What's happening to this world? How will we ever heal??? Our nation seems to be stuck in a quagmire of Us vs. Them. Each group feeling like the other has it in for them. Allowing anger and fear to build up - and express itself in unthinkable ways.We seem to only see each other as an enemy. And it is literally killing us.WHY? What's happening to this world? How will we ever heal??? So I took my broken heart and I knelt at the feet of JESUS. I asked Him, WHY? What's happening to this world? How will we ever heal??? And the image which came to my mind is one I will never forget. It was all of us - broken, angry, afraid, hurting, unsure - standing at the foot of the Cross.At the Cross, we were not different. That is, our differences weren't evident. Because at the Cross we recognized our same-ness. That is, our common need for help and healing and whole-ness. At the cross we are all broken and in need of a Savior. His Name is JESUS. And only HE can heal our land.Come, JESUS. Have mercy on us all!
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
When you're a kid, sometimes all you want to do is grow up and be an adult. So you can have freedoms, and privileges, and all that other fun stuff you imagine is on the other side of the fence.But then you get there, and you discover - adulting isn't necessarily all fun and games.In fact, sometimes it stinks! Such is the experience of the newest adult in my household. Josh recently drove over some train tracks and had something fall out of his Jeep. Maybe it was the steering shaft? Whatever it was, he couldn't drive it anymore and had the Jeep towed to the repair shop. Of course, that was a Saturday. And the following Monday was the Fourth of July - so the shop was closed. And they were real busy Tuesday and Wednesday and didn't have a chance to look at the Jeep yet. So Josh was getting antsy because of the transportation restrictions which had so unexpectedly been placed on him. And were lasting longer than he wanted.He was anticipating the repair would be a quick fix. Just re-install the part! And the delay was vexing him.I understood his frustration with the wait. And I wished there was some way I could assure him - because I've had a lotta years of waiting - that it would come to an end. Part of adulting means waiting. Sometimes on other people - because they're busy getting other things done. And sometimes on God - because HE knows the right time.But I knew his heart was too anxious to listen, so I kept my thoughts quiet.When I got home from work Friday, I found Josh had entered into another one of the down sides of adulting. That is, making big financial decisions.As it turns out, the repair is going to be more difficult than it would seem to the untrained observer. That is, about $1,400 more difficult. And Josh is faced with the choice of going forward with the repair, OR coming up with a plan and the money to get a new (new-to-him, that is) vehicle. Because, how much more money does he really want to put into that Jeep???The poor kid - I mean, adult! - is beside himself. This pot hole was not in his plans. And he is not prepared to face it. (Our graduation gift to him was "forgiving" the remainder of his loan on the Jeep. So he hasn't had much time to save up for his next vehicle.) He's a mix of angry, sad, and feeling like life isn't fair.And I get it. I do!Unplanned, hard times like this are a part of adulting.It's one of those times when adulting stinks!And although my son's anxious heart may not be prone to listening right now, I pray God will give me the words Josh needs to receive encouragement. Because growing up is hard to do, and I don't want him to feel like he's got to go through it alone.
Monday, July 11, 2016
Thursday, July 07, 2016
So, what do you give a
kid young adult to celebrate his high school graduation?
Wednesday, July 06, 2016
*Sheeesh!* I just got grilled by LinkedIn. I had an email from them suggesting I log-in to "accept" a couple of endorsements. (Which I didn't accept. One was for Press Releases and the other for Nonprofits. I mean, I know what they are. But to say I know anything about writing or running them? Ahhh, that would not be true.) Anyway, after I declined said endorsements LinkedIn began asking me to endorse someone else. And their first suggestion was right on, so I gladly agreed that, Yes, Connection #1 knows about XYZ. But as soon as I made that endorsement, more options popped up. For those I knew, I gave the nod. However, LinkedIn kept asking and asking and asking. And it got to the point where I was feeling bombarded. I'm all, I don't know if he knows about MRI's, or if she knows about Community Organization. I have no idea if he knows about Legal, or Military, or Medicine, or... I don't know! Leave me alone!!!I mean, really. How am I supposed to know what everybody knows? Half the time I don't know what I know.But there, in the midst of all the questioning about who knows what - even in the honest evaluation of what I know - I came to the conclusion that only one thing matters.Jesus loves me. This I know! And all the rest is secondary.Are you with me? *smile*
Tuesday, July 05, 2016
'Tis the season for scheduling talks with MOPS and other moms' groups for the coming year. Annnnnd, it's got me thinking back to when it all began. It was a simple desire back in 2005 to share with my local MOPS group the hope God had instilled in me. Because I was in the midst of a huge struggle - with children who were 9, 7, and 5 - and I had spent four years in that MOPS group feeling so alone. I remember meeting after meeting when I would go in and leave - feeling like every other mother had it all together, and I was the only one who didn't. When I would grumble under my breath, I will NEVER be as perfect as that woman who just spoke to us!But God. HE met me in the midst of my pain and promised me that HE was not going to allow my struggle to be wasted. Rather, HE was going to use it - to grow me! I believe I will always remember the day when God revealed that concept to me. I was reading about His use of adversity in the life of a believer in Jerry Bridges' book, Growing Your Faith, when I read the statement: The road to holiness is paved with adversity.(!) Over time and through His Word, God convinced me that these struggles I was facing as a mom were not pointless. Instead, HE was going to use them to make me more like Jesus. To shape me into the woman HE wants me to be. Oh, the hope HE poured into my heart! And I was eager to tell other moms about it. You know - just in case my previous perception had been wrong. That is, in the event that other moms were also struggling. So, I called my friend Barb - who was the MOPS coordinator - and asked if I could get on the calendar. And Barb put me in touch with another MOPS leader - who put me in touch with other coordinators - such that I ended up on several MOPS groups' calendars that year. My favorite moment from each meeting was at the end when at least one mom would hug me and - often through tears - tell me, "I am so glad to know I'm not alone!"And here I sit, eleven years later. My children are 20, 18, and 16. We have come through so many, many trials. God has been trustworthy in each one. The struggles didn't kill me - like I often felt they would. The moments I thought would be the end of me - weren't. And God has been faithful to His promise to use the adversity to grow me. Oh, we still have challenges around here. Being a mom has not gotten "easy." And I am fully aware I am not yet the woman He wants me to be. BUT, I am not the woman I used to be. God is at work in me, and I am forever grateful.How have you seen God use adversity to shape your faith, heart, and character?
Friday, July 01, 2016
I was playing Uno with five ladies last night after dinner.I know - that may sound like an easy enough task. But when you have a group of ladies whose memories/capabilities range from "all there" to "slipping" to "hanging on by a thread"? Well, let's just say it gets complicated. Especially when "all there" gets easily agitated because "hanging on by a thread" needs things repeated (a lot!) and she sometimes forgets to call out, "Uno!" when she only has one card left. So, we're playing along, laughing and enjoying ourselves - when "all there" starts making under the radar jabs at "hanging on." Her eyes are rolling, she's mumbling under her breath, and giving me she-doesn't-know-how-to-play-this-game looks. Honestly, I wasn't sure "hanging on" even noticed the jabs, but I surely didn't want her feelings to get hurt. So I mouthed to "all there," It's OK. And I hoped she would drop the subject. I mean, I understood she wanted to play the game. And her personality is such that she doesn't like to wait. So, "hanging on" was testing her patience. But I dearly wanted "all there" to get over herself and just enjoy being with friends. I wanted her to realize the slowness of the game wasn't what mattered. Rather, the relationships around the table were worth every minute. Then it occurred to me - the truth I had just discovered is true everywhere. Not just in the Community Room when we're playing cards. And I realized TLC can be shown all over the place by simply coming alongside someone who is having a hard time, and gently guiding them toward their next move. Do you have a green card, or a seven? No? OK. Then pick a card from this pile. Is it green, or a seven? No? Then put it in your hand, and it will be the next person's turn. *smile*No need for scowling, or putting them down, or making some other sort of jab. Just smile, and keep playing.Is there a "hanging on by a thread" in your life? May you always remember that sometimes TLC is spelled G-R-A-C-E.