Tuesday, December 11, 2018

It's Break Time

So, recently I posted about slowing down and taking time in this advent season to prepare our hearts for our coming King. (Who has come, and is coming again. Hallelujah!!!!)
And I've been doing that.
And it's been good.
However, there are also "things" which need to be done. Not bad things, or unimportant things, mind you. But they take time. And as I am plugging along getting them done, in the back of my mind I have been hearing a certain voice taunting me that I need to keep up with my posts here.

Therein lies the problem.

My heart for this blog is that it would be life-giving. For me as I write what God puts on my heart (Because He really does speak to me in the writing process.), and for you as you read.
Yet the pressure I have felt to post can best be described as joy-sucking.
(A far cry from the life-giving goal I have for this blog!)
And a farther cry from the condition I believe God wants to produce in my heart right now.

And so, the Holy Spirit and I have together made the decision that it is time for a break.
I'm signing off, leaving any obligatory sense of posting behind, and turning my attention fully on my Savior and my family.
Even as I invite you to do the same!

Merry Christmas!!!


Friday, December 07, 2018


It is good to listen to this song and be reminded that our God is

unchangeable, unshakeable, unstoppable.

Because I just got off the phone with my dad, and I wanted to remember that God is still on His throne. Nothing has changed with Him.
What I mean to say is, I just got off the phone with my dad for the second time today. And it was painfully clear that he didn't remember our first conversation from a few hours earlier.

He has Alzheimer's disease, and things are always changing. I know I need to expect the differences in his behavior and abilities, but when they show up they remind me that more are on the way - and my mind begins to run to the possibilities of what is going to happen. I get concerned for my mom. And I wonder what I'll be able to do to help. 
I speculate about what the future holds, and consider how long the future might last.
Even though I have been around people with Alzheimer's quite a lot in my work over the past seven years, it's a whole new thing when the person affected is your dad. 

At the same time, I am still adjusting to the change of having a married daughter. 
I had the delightful opportunity to spend the afternoon with her at her apartment, talking about life and the new things she's experiencing. I listened to her hopes and struggles. She told me about the things which are going well, and the challenges she and her husband are attempting to conquer. And while I still felt urges to step in and solve problems, God's Spirit held me back and led me into my role of listener and supporter. It's a new gig, and I need Him to show me what to do.

And in the midst of it all, I am holding on to the hope that HE is unchangeable.

How does God's steadfast nature bring you comfort?


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

The Way to Heaven

Today, our nation is pausing as President George H. W. Bush is laid to rest.
The past several days have seen me filled with so many thoughts and emotions as I have read about, and watched, the events surrounding his passing. From memories shared by his granddaughter, former White House reporters, and Washington colleagues - to remarks about his kind and generous character - to pictures of that loving dog, Sully, standing by his master one more time, my heart has been full of all kinds of emotion.
However, another tug at my heart has out-weighed the sentiment of remembering an outstanding human being. That is, in addition to the warm memories so many people have expressed about George H. W. Bush, it seems nearly as many have expressed joy at the thought of him being now reunited with his loving wife, Barbara, in heaven. And I delight in that image, also.
Because the thought of something greater than what we see here on earth - the expectation of an eternity where there will be no more death, no more tears, no more pain, no more division, nor anything else which plagues us - oh, how that hope lifts my soul! And as I witness the responses of men and women all over the country, I think it is safe to say - that hope is lifting their souls, too.
Yet, I feel this tug in my heart. This nudge to ask the question.

Do you know???
For all those who find comfort in the thought that Heaven awaits, do you know the Way?

I ask, because I fear too many people simply assume their present life will be followed by eternal life. (That's what I assumed!) I am afraid a lot of people believe a loving God wouldn't send them to Hell, so they expect their next stop is Heaven. My concern is for those who think, since Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, they're good to go.
And my heart won't be settled until I tell the Truth.
Because the Truth is this: Eternal life - Heaven - is not a given. Just because Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of all mankind, doesn't mean anyone is automatically bound for Heaven. Rather, our eternal destination is determined by a choice each one of us must make - to trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ, or not.
Please hear me.
It is true - Jesus Christ left the glory of Heaven and came to earth. He lived a perfect life, without sin, so that He could become a sacrifice for us by dying on the cross in our place. (Because we all have sinned, and the justice of God demands that sin be punished. The Bible tells us the punishment for sin is death - eternal separation from God.)
So, yes, Jesus paid the price we owed and thereby purchased forgiveness of sins for us, salvation. And when He arose from the dead He made the way for us to have eternal life.
And, yes, it is true - God is loving, and He doesn't want anyone to spend eternity in Hell.
Still - He isn't going to force Himself (or Heaven) on anyone, either.

Jesus' death and resurrection is all that is necessary for us to have eternal life, but it calls for a response.
That is, just as a gift isn't yours until you accept it from the giver, so it is with salvation.
God's desire is that you would spend eternity in Heaven with Him, reconciled and restored to the perfect relationship for which He created you.
And He has provided the Way.
But the decision is yours.
It begins by you recognizing your need of a Savior.
Then, believing Jesus is that Savior and accepting the gift of salvation He offers, you must chose to follow Him.
And you need to know: While it is true - salvation is free - there is a cost to following Jesus.
That is, following Jesus isn't something you do simply to get a ticket to Heaven.
To trust in Jesus means you surrender control of your life to Him. You decide to live according to God's Word and His will, not your own. You find yourself saying, "No," to your desires - as God changes your heart to become more like Jesus'. And as you go through this transformation you discover you want nothing more than to be more like HIM, and less like the 'you' you used to be.
It's a wonderful exchange, really.
First, His life for yours.
And, second, your life for His.


Monday, December 03, 2018

A Latin PSA


Friday, November 30, 2018

Getting Ready

It's upon us!
Tomorrow is December, and Christmas will be here before we know it.

My question is, Will you be ready?

And I don't mean, will the tree and decorations be perfectly adorned?
Will the gifts be purchased and wrapped?
Will you have enough goodies baked?
Will the cards be signed and sent on time?
Will the stockings be hung by the chimney with care?
Is this list of questions producing anxiety in anyone else???
If it is, then this post is for you.

The question I am asking is...

What are you doing to prepare your heart for the coming of your King?
I asked myself the same question earlier this week - when a friend inquired how he could pray for me regarding my "Quiet Time with JESUS" during this busy season.
I asked it again when my daughter brought up the same subject. (The same day! I knew then that God was behind the whole thing. *smile*)
And so, I am directing the question to you now.
While I understand the need to get "things" ready, and I know there is much joy (albeit much stress, too) in getting those "things" done - What are you doing to prepare your heart?
I downloaded an advent devotional to my phone which I am reading each morning. As I read, I am asking God to slow me down. And to direct and prepare my heart during this season of celebrating His coming.
I don't want to miss Him in the midst of all the stuff.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

There's an App for That!

"There's an app for that."

How many times have you heard this statement made by someone who is eagerly trying to help you solve a problem?

I want to keep track of how many steps I take each day. There's an app for that.
I need to plan meals for my family and not repeat things more than once a month. There's an app for that.
My quiet times are lagging. I wish I could be more disciplined in finding time and content to go deeper with Jesus. There's an app for that.
Wow! It's almost Christmas, and I have no idea what sort of gifts to buy for my various family memebers. There's an app for that.
I'd really like to get some variety in my work-outs. Doing the same routines each week is boring me to tears. There's an app for that.
If I could figure out how to do my laundry while also cleaning the house and making dinner, boy, I could really save time in a day. There's an app for that.
Whew! Now that I know my steps, have my meals planned, got my quiet times going, gifts purchased, work-outs arranged, and chores done, I am exhausted! There's A NAP for that!!!
(Hee hee! Sorry, I couldn't resist throwing that in there.)

Ahhh, but it seems the real problem I have is having an app that is getting too much into my business. That is to say, I have a calendar on my phone for my personal things. You know, appointments and reminders and work schedules and incidentals.
I also have a calendar on my website for speaking events.
My phone is associated with one gmail account, and my website with another. But yesterday after I entered a couple of new speaking dates, I looked at the schedule on my website and saw ALL my personal things on there, too. And I'm all, Wait a minute! Who needs to know when I'm getting my hair cut, when I'm visiting Mary, when Mindy needs her heart-worm pill, when I have to be at work, or when I pray for the safety of our troops??? This stuff doesn't belong on my website calendar!
I quickly searched for a way to delete the nobody's-business-items. (Glad to have discovered it, as technically-challeneged as I am!)
Once that situation was remedied, I started looking for a different calendar to use on my phone. And I found one. Even entered a "test" event to see if it would show up on my website, and... it didn't.
However, now I'm concerned that my appointments and reminders might start migrating again in the future, and I may - once again - be putting a bunch of information out there that no one really needs to know. (But without which I'll be completely lost if I don't make a record of it somewhere!)
That is, I'm troubled with the idea that my apps may start talking to each other again and getting all up in my business where I don't want them to go.
And I'm wondering, Is there an app for that???


Monday, November 26, 2018

Honoring the Word of God

If you're interested in listening to the sermon I referenced from my church, you may watch it here.
The link will take you to the church's Facebook page, and the streamed version of the service. The sermon begins at about minute 32.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

This quote is currently featured on the sign of a local church.
Good food for thought today!!!

We don't need more to be thankful for.
We need to be thankful more.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Are You One of the 'Others'?

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!
Turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes and pie.
And family. Lots of family!

I'm looking forward to it all!
Taking a brief vacation from my Keto diet to enjoy plenty of carbs. *wink*

I realize, however, the thought of gathering with family is not a happy one for everybody. For some, it's because this year someone is going to be missing from around the table. And, for others it's because of hurts and relational damages from which they have yet to heal - and maybe for which they have yet to extend forgiveness.
For those of you who fit into the "some" category, please know I am not intending to down-play your pain as I write this post. I am so sorry for your loss. Your grief may be very fresh, and I know at times you feel like you cannot breathe. As I type these words I am asking God to comfort you as only HE can. I am asking Him to raise up loving people around you to help you walk this road. I pray your hope in Jesus and the gift of eternity we have because of His death and resurrection will sustain you.

It is for those of you who find yourselves in the "others" category that I am motivated to write this post.

That is to say, over the past few days I have listened to - and participated in - several conversations about broken familial relationships which plague too many of us. The thought of it all breaks my heart.
And so today I am making a plea.
I realize I do not know the wrongs which have been done to you. I admit, I am unaware of the torment you have experienced, and the angst you feel when you are in the same room as "that person." I don't know how hard it is for you to attempt to interact civilly with - or even politely ignore - said family member.
But I do know this:
*I have sat with an old woman and held her as she cried for the regret she had of not loving her son well.
*I have listened to the heart-ache of a father whose children refused to visit because of the things he had done or said years ago - for which he was so sorry, but about which he could do nothing because they wouldn't make room.
*I have watched an elderly woman agonize over why her siblings ignore her requests for reconciliation.
*I have witnessed the tears of an elderly "child" who wept over wounds he was unable, or unwilling, to forgive.
In each of these circumstances I have seen people of goodwill who committed a wrong unintentionally, and people of compassion who didn't know how to let go of bitterness. And the error of each of their ways stole years of life and love from them. Sadder, still, is the reality that some of them came to the end of their lives without ever extending or receiving the forgiveness which would have set them free.

Thus, I am making my appeal to each of you "others".
If tomorrow, you're going to be seeing the one involved in your wounding - if you're going to face the one who holds bitterness in their heart toward you - would you please pray today that God will strengthen you through His Spirit to seek and extend and receive and embrace forgiveness?
Please, don't let another day go by without searching out reconciliation.
Please, choose to believe that the one who wronged you didn't do it maliciously - and if they could go back and change things, they would.
Please, understand you might not really know the whole of the story - and if you did, your feelings wouldn't have such a powerful hold.



Monday, November 19, 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

When HE Speaks Through the Dog

OK. I have this exercise goal.
I am working up to holding a plank for 5 minutues. And the way I intend to get there is my adding 5 seconds to one plank on each of the three days a week I work out.
That is, when I work out I do three sets of five exercises. And the first exercise is always a plank. So, I figure on Monday I'll increase plank #1 by five seconds, Wednesday #2, and by Friday I'll be doing #1,2,& 3 at the new time. Then continue the increase the next week until I'm up to 5 minutes, each. (This week I'm working up to 4:15.)
Um, I forgot to mention that I don't like to exercise.
Getting up early to exercise causes me to not like it to a greater extent.
And, yesterday I had somewhere to be early-ish, which made it not likely that I would get up early-er to work out.
BUT, there's this goal-thing I've got going on, and I didn't want to interrupt it. So I decided I would go ahead and get up early-ish to work out. (Sometimes, being anal is good for my health!)

So there I was: hopping out of bed when my alarm went off, getting my clothes on, heading downstairs, annnnd, seeing a puddle on the carpet - left there by my dog. I was not happy.
I turned around and went back stomped upstairs to get the necessary cleaning supplies, glared at the dog, and went back down to take care of business. The whole process set me back about 10 minutes, or so, and when I finally got to my workout I felt irritated, taunted, and rushed. (Remember, I don't like getting up early. So when I planned my morning I neglected to add 10 minutes for doggy clean-up.)
BUT, I had a goal to pursue so I got down to business. And as I began my first plank, I began to pray. (Honestly, praying is the only way I can make it through those things. And when it comes down to the end, and I am ready to give up, and I don't think I can make it another 10 seconds - let alone 90 or more! - ahhh, that is when I get really passionate about begging God to strengthen the ones for whom I am praying. It's a good thing, really.)
Anyway, I was just beginning the plank and the prayer. I wasn't struggling to hold on yet. Actually, my struggle at that moment was with my feelings of irritation toward the dog. (It's hard to pray when you're feeling irritable. *ahem*) So the Holy Spirit stepped in and took over my prayer.
It went something like this:
HIM: Karen, dear, you're upset, aren't you.
Me: Well, duh! She peed, AGAIN. She knows better. I'm tired of cleaning up her messes. It's so annoying!!!
HIM: Ahhh, yes. She did wrong, again. She knows better. You had to clean up after her. Hmmmmmm.
Me: Yeah. It's so annoying!!!
HIM: *Graceful silence*
Me: What? Don't You agree it's annoying???
HIM: *Loving look of silence*
Me: Oh.
Time passes, and my spirit listens to His.
Me: I get it. You have to clean up every mess I make when I sin. When I do the very things I know I shouldn't. When I know better, but I let my flesh have its way instead of being obedient to Your Word. Yet, when I confess, You always forgive me. And You always will. You never get annoyed. Your grace, Your mercy, Your patience just keep flowing toward me.
You don't agree that it's annoying when I have to clean up after Mindy, because You never tire of caring for me.
Father, thank You. Thank You for this unending love You pour over me. Thank You for the blood Jesus shed on the cross so I could be forgiven. Thank You for reconciling me to Yourself through Him. Thank You, Father. Thank You!!!
HIM: You're welcome, darling. I'm glad you understand what I wanted to say this morning. I knew you would. (Psalm 139:2)


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Preferring Others

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Philippians 3:3-4
Are you familiar with these words?
They are found in Philippians 3, right before Paul urges his readers to take on the attitude of Christ.
The attitude of humilility which saw Him set aside His rights as God, come to earth in the likeness of man - in the form of a servant, and become obedient to the point of death on a cross for the forgiveness of all mankind.
Do you grasp the severity of that transaction???
God left His God-ness to become a sacrificial servant for the ones He created. The very ones who turned from Him in rebellion and deserved the death He came to die.
And that, Paul says, is the level of humility to which we ought to aspire.
In our lives - as we pursue the call of God to become more like Jesus - we must be willing to prefer others before ourselves. And that, my freinds, goes against everything our flesh seeks to fulfill.

I just finished a study of Galatians with my Precepts class, and the overwhelming message God spoke to my heart through it was my need to walk by the Spirit, so I will not carry out the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
And, wouldn't you know? God is giving me daily opportunities to practice preferring others' needs over my own. It's as if He wants to test me to see if I really believe what I've been learning. If I trust Him enough to apply His Word even when it's difficult.

Have you been in this place, too???

With all my heart (That is, all my heart which has been made new by the One who makes all things new!) I want to be like Jesus. I want to reflect the love of God and the character of Christ to my friends, my family, and strangers I meet wherever I go. And so I pray, Holy Spirit, please lead me. Please enable me to walk where You walk. Please give me the grace to prefer others, to love sacrificially, and to serve like Jesus served.

So that's what's going on in my heart today. How are you doing???


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Words Roll Better Now

I remember when my kiddos were little and they would say something they really didn't mean.
Like when I made something new for dinner - and before even taking a bite one would declare, "I don't like it. It's yucky!" I'm pretty sure she/he meant, "That's something I haven't had before and it looks/smells different. I am not sure what it is, and I don't feel like trying anything new right now. Cuz, what if I don't like it?"
They just didn't have the vocabulary to appropriately express their feelings. Yeah. That's it!
Or, one of the hundreds of times when I forbid a child from doing something they wanted to do (You know - play in the street, run with scissors, eat a gallon of ice cream before dinner, or *gasp* go to bed without bathing or cleaning up toys.) and was told in no uncertain terms, "You're the meanest mom in the world!!!!" At times like that I imagine what she/he was really trying to say was...
Oh, who am I kidding?
They thought I was the meanest mom in the world.
And they had precisely the vocabulary they needed to express their feelings.
The thing is: whether, or not, they truly meant what they said - whether, or not, they even understood what they were saying - part of my momma's heart broke when I heard those words. Because I was trying so hard to do things well, to make good decisions (and meals), and to lead them on right paths. I was in a world of not-knowing-exactly-what-to-do, trying to make my way - while not ruining my kids.
And some days I felt like I wasn't going to succeed.

Which is why yesterday afternoon I found it rather ironic that it didn't even phase me when my youngest son said another thing which (I hope!) he didn't mean.
That is, Matthew was bemoaning the number of notifications Facebook sends to his phone. (Apparently the number is LARGE.) "I mean," he said, as he read from his phone, "here's one that says, 'Karen Sheaffer Hossink posted a link.' Why'd they send me that???"
"Ummmm, because I'm your mom?" I proposed.
He exhaled with notable exasperation, "Like I care!!??"
And I wondered, 'Like you care' that I'm your mom? Or, 'like you care' that I posted a link?
Without spending too much time on it, I decided he cares that I'm his mom, but not that I posted a link. And I moved on with my day, happily and peacefully. (If only I'd had the ability to let words roll off my back those many years ago.)
Ahhhhh, but thanks be to God for His grace and patience which carried me through those moments and days and years. Thanks be to God for growing and protecting and shaping my children in spite of my best efforts. Thanks be to God for His wisdom and mercy in leading us through the hard times. May you find yourself carried by Him today, as well.


Monday, November 12, 2018

When We Struggle with Sin

Here's the podcast to which I referred in my video. I would sooooo encourage you to listen. It's an hour long, but fully worth the time.


Friday, November 09, 2018

Where's God?

I have a friend who is constantly reminding me (and all the ladies in our Bible study) to pray for our country, our leaders, upcoming elections and decisions and stuff-going-on-in-our-government.
I love her tenacity in calling us to prayer.
I have another friend who knows how I love to pray - who inadvertantly inspired me to set an alarm on my phone which reminds me daily to stop and pray. For our country and our leaders and our troops (and recently the upcoming elections).
I love that daily notice.
I receive numerous emails from various Christian organizations who are involved in our governmental process and - especially within the past couple of months - these emails have included continuous calls to be in prayer. For our country and our leaders and the upcoming elections.
So, it ought to go without saying, my prayers for our country and our leaders and the (recent) upcoming elections have been plentiful. And I know the same is true for many, many Christians. I know God's faithful have been faithful in seeking Him. Thus, as I went into Tuesday - as I cast my ballot - I did so with the peace He provides.
Then came Wednesday morning when I turned on my phone and looked up the election results.
Dang, I thought, as the first result I saw told me that "my candidate" didn't get elected.
Awwww, really? as the same was true for the second.
Then, Hmph. and, Wha??? and *eye-roll*, as more candidates and even most of the propsals went the opposite way of my vote.

For a moment I was tempted to think my voice hadn't really been heard. I mean, I voted the way I thought was best. But it seemed there were more people who thought otherwise and - because of the numbers - their's were the voices which were heard.
Yes, I was tempted to think that way. But God's Spirit intervened and reminded me my voice had, indeed, been heard. By the One who hears and sees and knows and can do all things.
When my initial reaction bordered on being one of disappointment, of wondering what went wrong (or what is about to go wrong) - when I was among many people questioning the outcome - the Holy Spirit reminded me, Karen, God is still on His Throne.
And that's really all HE had to say.
I was wondering where God had gone, and His Spirit assured me - He hadn't moved at all.
God was on His Throne when I was praying before the election. He was on His Throne listening as I sought His mercy and direction and sovereingty for our country and our leaders and the election.
I was confident of it.
And I trusted Him.
I believed He would do what was best. What was according to His good plan and perfect will.
So, why? I asked myself, Why am I questioning the outcome? If I trusted God before - when I couldn't see the results - why can't I trust Him now - when I can see them?
The answer, of course, is that I can. I can trust Him now.
And with the gracious prompting of the Holy Spirit, I do.

The thing is, God works in ways we cannot see. He does wonderful things in ways we weren't expecting. His ways are higher than ours, and we cannot predict how His hand will move.
But we can trust Him. We can always trust.
And so I'm puttin' this out here for anyone else who anticipated a different outcome Tuesday.
For anyone else who prayed and prayed, yet found themselves asking, "Wait! What? Where's God???"
On His Throne, my friend.

HE is comfortably and confidently and eternally on His Throne!


Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Gettin' my "Grandma" On

Monday afternoon I had the fun opportunity to babysit a couple of young boys at my house while their parents attended parent/teacher conferences. My guests were ages 4 and (almost)8. And, I'm telling you, it's been a while since I've had that much energy and noise in my home!
I put aside my chores (That is, getting dinner ready.) so I could play with the boys - and in the short 90 minutes they were here, those little guys nearly wore me right out.
First, I taught them how to play Foosball. OK, I didn't teach them "how" - as in they learned the rules and proper techniques. I mean, I taught them "how" - as in we crowded around the table and they grabbed at the handles and spun the guys around and sometimes actually kicked the ball, and once or twice even scored a goal. But mostly they just yelled and laughed and ran around having fun.
Then they got interested in the work-out equipment they found downstairs. Especially the 90-lb dumbbell. "Wow! That's heavy!" they said. "But I bet my dad could pick it up!" they said. And they rolled the medicine ball around on the floor to each other. Ahhh, who am I kidding? They're boys. The truth is although I suggested they roll it, the ball somehow found itself with quite a bit of air time. But that was OK. They were excited to see something new, and they were having fun.
Soon enough, they were finished with the basement and wanted to go outside. So we got our coats on and went out to play.
The swing on the deck was good.
The swing on the tree branch was better.
But their favorite thing was raking leaves to jump in. Seriously, I was with the younger one on the deck swing when I saw the older one with a rake in his hand - actually raking leaves. And I'm all, Hey! If you want to rake leaves (If you don't realize that is a job NOBODY around here wants to do!) let's do it!
So "4" and I joined "(almost)8" and we got a pile of leaves going. When the pile got nice and big (to a 4-year-old) the proclamation was made that it was time to jump in them. And I kinda questioned it because the leaves were kinda wet and I thought, Hmmmm. Would Mom approve? But then I reasoned, Ahhhh. They're having fun. And we'll only be out here for a few more minutes. They aren't going to catch a cold from getting a little wet. That's an old wive's tale!
So I joined them in the leaf pile.
After a short time we found ourselves back inside, downstairs playing with the medicine ball again. And one of the boys discovered a jar on the countertop with Hersey's Hugs inside.
You know what happened next, don't you?
He wanted to have one. And it was almost 6:00, and his mom would be back soon to pick him up, and I knew if I let him have one his brother was going to want one. I also knew they'd be having dinner as soon as they went home. So I asked, "Would your mom say it's 'OK'?" (I didn't really expect him to say, "no". *wink*) So when he said, "Yes," and I reasoned a little tiny Hersey Hug wouldn't ruin their dinner, I said, "Yes," too.
So I gave them each a Hug, and we went upstairs because Mom had just arrived.

And as we bid the boys farewell, Brian looked at me and chuckled. "Look at you, gettin' your 'Grandma' on!" And I'm all, "Wha????" And he says, "Come on! You've gotten soft. You know you wouldn't have given our kids candy before dinner. You're going to be such a good grandma!"
And I joined him in the laughter, because as I considered all the little things I'd let go over the past 90 minutes I realized he was right. Something about getting older and having grown-up kids does cause one to soften up a bit. *grin*


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Celebrating with My Son

So, you all know my oldest son lives for fishing, right?
What you may NOT know is that for a very, very long time he has been wanting to catch a musky.
Known among anglers as "the fish of a thousand casts" (That is, it'll take you 1,000 attempts at throwing out your line before you'll catch one.) the musky is an illusive critter.
But Josh has put his time in (and his casts!) and last week he had his day.
Watching this video just made my heart so happy - seeing him, not only do what he loves (and succeed!) but also noticing his attempts to educate and include his viewers. *proud momma moment*

If you don't want to open a new window, you may watch his catch here:
OR, you can follow this link and watch it on his channel. That way he'll get "credit" for the view and earn a few pennies. *wink*

Lovin' my fisherman!

Monday, November 05, 2018

Who Am I?


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Once Upon a Work Night

I love, LOVE it when God shows up unexpectedly in the middle of my circumstances.

I was at work last night, anticipating a typical evening of rushing around trying to get everything done - while trying not to look like I'm rushing, but that I have all the time in the world to spend on the individuals under my care. *ahem*
I had successfully completed my first task when seemingly out of the blue a young lady appeared behind me, and told me that she was supposed to be trained by me that evening. And I'm thinking, Wait. What??? This is my fifth official day "on my own" and I'm supposed to be training you??? I still have a cheat sheet in my pocket to make sure I don't forget what to do. How can I possibly help you?
After further discussion I learned that this young lady had already been trained on the other wing of the building and just needed to learn the particulars of the "south side".
And my level of oh-my-gosh-I'm-going-to-ruin-her pressure went way down. *wink*

With the knowledge that she already had a certain amount of knowledge, I decided it would be OK to ask her questions while we did our tasks - as opposed to telling her things she had already learned. So as we worked I inquired about her family, I found out about her college plans and dreams, and I heard about some of her struggles. Along the way she overheard me praying with one of our residents, and through our conversation afterwards I discovered that my co-worker is a Christian as well.
Therefore, later in the evening when she was talking about her sturggle some more I felt confident that she would be willing for me to pray for her, too. And she was. So I held her hands and asked God to give her peace in her situation, courage and grace to do what she needs to do, and favor with the one who will be listening to her plea. It was a tender moment, and I was grateful to God for bringing me to it.
As the evening continued, so did opportunities for me to speak into this young lady's heart and life. I was amazed at how God lead our conversation, and I was delighted to be His instrument of grace. Honestly, I was also kind of surprised this scene was happening at all - since my initial thought was that I had nothing to offer. But, as HE does, God made it plain to both of us that HE was behind our meeting, HE was orchestrating the circumstance, and HE had a good plan.

In what ways has God shown up in the midst of your moments?


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Well, Bless My Heart!

So, I cleaned up my corner of the room yesterday.
That is, I went through all the stuff that has accumulated in, on, and around my nightstand for the past, uh, I really don't know how many years.
Except that it can't be more than eleven.
Cuz we've only been in this house for eleven years, and I know I've cleaned my corner at least once before. *gulp*
Anyway, I cleaned it up.
Purged a lot of things I thought I might need, use, or want someday. And in the process, I found the most delightful note. I know for sure why it was kept among the things I might need, use, or want someday. And, no, I am not purging it. Because some day I know I'm going to want to find it again!

Hey Mom,
Thank you sooo much for letting me have the beta fish, and for feeding my Praying Mantis! It means a ton to me and you are awesome for doing that, cause most moms won't. If there is any thing I can do to repay you just tell me. And here is an extra 5 dollars from lunch that I didn't use. It's all yours.

love, Josh
The note included no date, but the Praying Mantis had to have been from when Josh was in 5th or 6th grade. And it simply blessed my heart to read those words from his - especially to remember what things were dear to him at that time. Namely babysitting the class beta fish, catching crickets for a Praying Mantis, and five bucks!
Oh, when life was that simple. *sentimental sigh*


Friday, October 26, 2018

Not Today, Satan

Tuesday evening after I discovered I had never actually purchased the shoes my son was misssing for the wedding, Brian and I decided to take a walk around the mall. And in the middle of our stroll, we were stopped by one of the vendors at a kiosk in the center of the mall.
Honestly, I really don't like being approached in this way, because I am entirely too cheap to buy whatever they're selling - so I feel like we're wasting time for both of us. But I didn't want to seem rude by just breezing past, so I stopped to listen to what he had to say.
It was skin-care.
Again, I felt the urge to move on - because I just don't put a lot of money into those products.
But, AGAIN. I didn't want to seem rude. So I played along. I let him put the amazing cream under and around my right eye. I listened to him explain that as we get older our bodies lose collagen so we get wrinkly and stuff. A short time later, I admitted that I saw the product was already making improvements. I truly did notice the "crow's feet" (as the salesperson labeled them) were less pronounced on the right side. And I acknowledged the remarkable wrinkle reduction on the woman whose picture he showed me.
Yes, it was lovely to know that the skin-care products were from all natural ingredients, hadn't been tested on animals, and the packaging had some re-cycled materials in it. Lovely. But I still wasn't going to make a purchase, and I told him as much.
Ah, but then he pulled out his clever-card and I'm sure he thought he had me. See, he was having a Halloween Special. I could get all these great products - which usually sell for nearly $1,000 - for just $666. Isn't that clever? Halloween Special. 666.
Poor guy had no idea who he was trying to sell to. That even though I love a good play-on-words, I took his "pun" as assurance NOT to buy.
He had other, less expensive, items in which he tried to interest me. Things that normally sell for $10 - available as a part of his Halloween Special for a mere $6.66.
No. Sorry.
Eventually he accepted my, "No, thank you. Thanks for your time and concern for my wrinkles," and Brian and I continued on our way. Or maybe we just continued on our way without him accepting my, "No." It was kind of hard to tell. *wink*

Anyway, that night and even the next morning as I stood in front of the mirror I couldn't help but compare my right eye to my left eye. There is truly a difference between the "crow's feet" after only one application of that collagen stuff. And I'm all, Seriously??? I wasn't at all discontented with my skin before that guy put that stuff on my face and softened the appearance of wrinkles.
But now I stood before the mirror comparing. And feeling angst begin to rise. I thought, Should I go back to the mall and get the 30-month supply of amazing cream so I can lose the crow's feet and defy the effects of aging? (And I remembered something I heard years ago - Comparison is the killer of contentment.)
I think it was in that moment when God's Spirit convinced me to quit comparing. (It is tricky, by the way, to not look at both eyes when you look into the mirror!) I was fine with my lines before I met that man, and I am going to be fine with them now, too. It helps to remember something I heard Erma Bombeck (I think it was her!) say years ago, "I don't want to go through my life looking like I've never smiled!"
I'm gonna go with that philosophy.

I am not 20 anymore. (Thank You, Jesus!)
I'm losing collagen, so I have gray hairs and wrinkles. (Thanks, Eve. This is part of the Fall, right?)
One day I'm going to have a brand new, resurrected body and none of this will matter. (Thank You, JESUS!!!)
And in the meantime, I'll take that $666 dollars and use it for something BETTER.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Tale of the Missing Shoes: A True Story with a Real Lesson

It was Saturday, October 13 at 8:45 in the morning. (I know, because I just checked my phone!)
I was at the church, ironing a bride's maid dress, thinking all was right with the world.
Then my phone rang.
It was one of my sons, calling to ask if I knew where my other son's shoes were. And I'm all, "I don't know! Ask him. They're his shoes..." But, as it was further explained to me, the reason for the calling son's call was because the other son had no idea where said shoes were to be found. And he thought I might know. My only response was, I hadn't seen them since we bought them. (Remember the really great story about the amazing deal I got on the boys' suits? Well, that was the last time I had laid eyes on the shoes. I figured they went to my son's room with him when we got home.)
And with that, our phone call was over.
The next half hour involved three more calls (from the son-missing-shoes) wanting to know if I was sure I didn't know where they were, and what should he do if he couldn't find them? I held back on my desire to ask why this son had waited until the morning of the wedding to get his things together, but I did manage to offer an answer he didn't like, anyway. When he asked, "What do I wear???" and I said, "I dunno. Tennis shoes?" he, uh, hung up on me.

In the end, he showed up to the church looking great. The gray tennis shoes were hardly even noticeable in contrast to his nice suit and amazing good looks. *wink* And the rest of the day went off without a hitch. (OK, the photographer lost an SD card which contained all the pictures taken before the ceremony, but apparently that has been located. So, it's all good.)
HOWEVER, we still had the unanswered question of where those shoes were located. I admit, when I got home I began looking for them, too. And continued with the alertness for days. Eventually, I determined that in the middle of the busynes of buying suits and ties and stuff - and considering we were checking out as the store was closing (so there was a bit of an added hustle) - we must have inadvertantly left behind the package with the shoes in it. Oops!!!
So, the other day I finally got around to calling the store to ask if they *might* have an extra pair of shoes in their inventory. Ya know, like the shoes somebody bought four weeks ago, but didn't miss until TWO weeks ago, so they got put back on the shelf, maybe? The manager with whom I was speaking told me to just bring in the receipt sometime (Because I couldn't decipher the codes to tell her over the phone what item number went with the shoes in question.) and they would "take care of it". I didn't know how they would do it, but if bringing in the receipt would solve my problem, I was all for it.
And that night I took in the receipt, and my embarassing little story of not realizing for two weeks that we didn't bring home everything we purchased.

The rest of the story goes like this: The manager on duty graciously listened to my tale of woe, and proceeded to enter each item number on my receipt into the computer - to find out if the missing shoes were in the store somewhere. And, when he got to the end of the list we discovered the shoes weren't on the receipt at all!
Apparently, in the hustle to get us through check-out and out of the store that fateful night, the shoes in question never got scanned, bagged, or paid for. And since a certain son of mine didn't care to care for his packages that night (or any time between then and the wedding...) the missing (never-purchased) shoes went completely unnoticed.
Probably got re-shelved the next morning. *exasperated sigh*

Annnnd, the moral of the story is, uh, two-fold, really.
1. Always check your bags.
2. Don't wait until the last minute to get your stuff together.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

More Wedding Pictures

Because, honestly(!!!), I am just overwhelmed with things that need to get done.
Progress is being made, I promise, but the "stuff" keeps piling up. Tell me you understand.
The nice thing is, I keep finding more pictures to share - and if they delight your heart even a fraction of what they do mine, well, then I'll consider that a win. *smile*

Here's one of the entire new family.
The kiss.

A little celebration.

More celebration.

Even more celebration.

And a little fun on "Noah's Ark" playing Titanic.

Ahhhh, the joy of a love and a life centered on JESUS.

P.S. Speaking of marriages centered on Jesus - got any plans this weekend? A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to view a pre-release screening of the movie, Indivisible. It is such a good, GOOD show. And it is opening in theaters this weekend. I highly recommend you go and see it!


Monday, October 22, 2018

Wedding Pictures

I really do plan to return to regular posting. Some day.
But there have been extraneous circumstances, and, well, that's my excuse! *grin*

Until then, I do have a few pictures from the wedding to share:
The happy couple before it all began.

The wedding cake, made by one of Elizabeth's best friends. (Notice the topper? Elizabeth loves squirrels, and Phil loves corgis.)
They made a wall hanging mimicking the cake topper. Bought out all the sunflowers from dollar stores around Michigan, cut the heads off, "pressed" them with a hair dryer to flatten the petals, then hot-glued them into place on a great big piece of tulle.
This is where I started sobbing. Watching my baby girl dance with her daddy.
The song? Butterfly Kisses.
There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Including theirs.
Annnnd, the waterworks continued when Phil and his mother took the floor.
But I think this one says it best.
Indeed, I believe Happily Ever After is in store for these two.
Because of their love for each other - and their love for GOD, which comes before all things.


Monday, October 15, 2018

The Bridal Dance

Ahhhh, the wedding was beautiful on Saturday.
And as I stood (surprised!) watching my daughter and son-in-law performing their bridal dance, I just knew I needed to share it with you here. Enjoy!!!


Thursday, October 04, 2018

"T" Minus Nine Days

That's how long we have until the wedding.

Nine days.

Soooooo, Imma sign off from the blog-world now in order to preserve my sanity and see if I can help my dear daughter locate hers. I anticipate being back (WITH PICTURES) after the 15th.

Grace and peace to you!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Another Thing

Monday I told you about the wonderful thing God did Saturday during the retreat at which I was speaking. But there was more.
He didn't wait until the second break-out session to show Himself to me.
Rather, it began almost the moment I walked through the door.
As I entered the building and began looking for a staff person who could show me to the room in which I'd be presenting, I couldn't help but notice the keynote speaker delivering her message in the main auditorium. Couldn't help myself, that is, because she was speaking loudly and very passionately. In fact, at times I would say she was nearly yelling, and though I couldn't see them - I imagined the women sitting on the edge of their seats as they were listening.
As I made my way into the break-out room, I caught myself comparing my delivery style to that of the weekend's keynote speaker. I was having thoughts like, Since I don't present myself that way, I must not be good enough. And, If I want to be a sought-after speaker, I need to be more like her.

Fortunately, God stepped in right away and put an end to that foolishness before it got out of hand.

HE reminded me of my unique creation, and convinced me of HIS wisdom in the way He made me.
At times like that one, God admonishes me to quit the comparison and choose to trust Him, instead.
And I know He speaks truth in those moments.
I know He made me to be me, not "her" - whoever she may be.
But, oh, it can be so difficult, ya know? Because I think sometimes our enemy wants nothing more than to distract us from what God has called us to do. And what better way to fluster us than to get us to fix our gaze on someone/something else?

Nevertheless, Saturday God called my attention back to Himself and His work, and He led me down the path of trust. It was almost as if I could hear His words echoing through my heart. Karen, I made her to be her. I gifted her with certain ablities and I gave her a unique disposition. If I wanted you to be like her, I could have done that. But I made you to be you. Right down to the silly way you laugh at corny jokes. Dear one, will you just trust Me, and be the you I created you to be?

Anyone else need to hear those words spoken to your heart???


Tuesday, October 02, 2018

When Boys Get New Clothes

So, I think you know we have a wedding coming up in the family pretty soon.
What you may not know is that neither one of my sons have clothing which even resembles something-nice-that-you'd-wear-to-your-SISTER's-wedding. Thus we have been talking about the need to go shopping someday to get my guys some new duds.
Annnnd, last Friday was that day. Matthew informed me his schedule was open, and I'd better take advantage of the opportunity while I had it. So, we got in the van and went to Penney's. (Because that's where Google told me to go and they were having a sale on men's suits.)
Finding the right stuff was an adventure but we succeeded. Then we found out at check-out that we could save an additional 45% if I opened a Penney's card.
OK, typically when these offers are made I politely decline - because I really don't need another credit card, and because the offer is usually for 10-15% off. But this offer was 45%.
And the deal-finder in me just couldn't say "no." So I didn't!
Oh, but it gets better. When we were finished, the cashier told me the 45% thing was good for 24 hours.
As in, I could bring Josh back and get him suited-up for huge savings, too.
And that's just what I did.
Oh, but it gets better, still.
Matthew came with us to pick out Josh's suit, and the two of them had quite a bit of fun together. Sometimes I just stood back and watched. And felt all the feels.
Then it came time to pick out their dress shoes, and one of my sons (who shall remain nameless) put on a hilarious show of "walking the carpet" - at which time I was having flashbacks of a similar thing he used to do at about age 5. Warmed my heart right there.
And thennnnnn, we got home and I found my boys enthusiastically telling their soon-to-be brother-in-law about their new clothes. The three of them started comparing notes and joking about making fashion statements and all the things.
And I? Stood back and watched again.
I fully enjoyed their camaraderie. I didn't mind the noise, rather, I reveled in it. My heart delighted in the friendship and fun I saw playing out before my eyes. And I thought, Who'd have figured new clothes could produce all this???


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

When "Tough Love" Works

I try to be a compassionate person, and a graceful listener.

I really do.

But sometimes I have to draw the line. *ahem*

What I mean is, sometimes - under specific circumstances - I won't listen.
Like yesterday, when one of my sons was bemoaning his work schedule and school schedule and how much stuff he has to get done.
The full story is this: His employer has been scheduling him to work more hours than he wants (and really more than he should be working with his class load) but as of Monday afternoon, he hadn't told the scheduler to lighten up. (Even though I told him in previous days he needed to speak up and let someone know that he didn't want to so many hours.)
He kept going to work, struggling to try to fit everything in.

So yesterday, our conversation went something like this:
Son: Lamenting a 30-hour work week, admitting that - no - he hasn't talked to the scheduler.
Me: You know - and I have this same deal with your dad - if there's something wrong, and you could do something to correct the situation - but you don't? I won't listen to complaining about it.
Son: Awwwww. Walks away (over)acting dejected.
Thirty minutes later...
Son: Passing quickly through the kitchen. Look at me! Going to work early to take care of my problem!!!
Me: Thankful he listened, even if it was behind a veiled threat. Yay, you!!!

Ah, yes. Sometimes my efforts to teach personal responsibility are successful. *happy sigh*


Monday, September 24, 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018

How Can We Get Out of this Mess?

OK. I am inviting you to think through something with me today.
Though my thoughts on it are plenty, I am not going to get political and begin a debate on the ups and downs of our current situation in the United States and the wider world. But my Bible study of Lamentations 4 has me pondering our present condition, and the Holy Spirit won't seem to let it rest - so I want to work through some questions here.
Because God often helps me see things more clearly when I write.
And maybe He has something for you, too.

My Precepts homework contained this question as I finished my study of Lamentations 4:

Now, what about you or your nation? Have you experienced the tragedy of sin? According to what you have learned today, how could such tragedy be avoided?
I mean, it didn't take long to answer those first questions. As I look around at the world in which I live I see evidence of the tragedy of sin everywhere.
Deception and lies.
Shootings and murders.
Oppression and slavery and despair and abuse and neglect.
Every day, with every news report, there's something more.
The thing is, I know this is not the world God intended. The life we're living is not what HE desires. And I find myself sympathetic to the writer of Lamentations as he bemoans the condition of his city - as he looks at what it has become, and mourns for what used to be.

Then there's that last question: How could such tragedy be avoided?
And the answer is not difficult to figure out. Because we see it over and over again in Jeremiah - before the destruction came of which the writer of Lamentations laments. God kept sending a message to the people: Repent or disaster is coming.
HE kept warning, and the people kept ignoring Him.
Then, behold, they were destroyed. But it wouldn't have happened if they had humbled themselves before the LORD and followed Him. It could have been avoided!
But that was Judah, thousands of years ago, right?
What has it to do with the world today???
Well, plenty - in my opinion.
I wrote in response to the Precepts question, We could avoid the tragedy if we would just humble ourselves and turn to God. Oh! That our hearts may become humble before Him!
Ah, but there is the part of me (the cynical part) which thinks, That'll never happen. I consider the path on which the United States is going, and I find no hope in the possibility of millions of people humbling their hearts and surrendering to God. (Much less the many who are in positions of power and seem to be leading the way in the mess.)
But then I wonder about Israel and Judah, and what things were like during the days of Jeremiah. I read of God's vow to devistate the land if the people did not listen and repent, and His promise to restore and give them new hearts. Hearts which would fear Him so they would never turn away again. And I think, If HE did it for them, maybe we are not a hopeless cause. Maybe the LORD will allow us to fall so far that we will have nothing left to do but humble ourselves and turn to Him.
Honestly, my heart breaks for the condition of our world - how we as a nation are behaving, how we are treating each other and ignoring God. And I think our trouble is about so much more than political parties and philosophical leanings. More than who's Right and who's Left.
As a woman who is passionate about God and about living for Him, I think the problem facing the United States today (And, yes, the rest of the world, too!) is our hard hearts and prideful attitudes. Our disdain for the ways of God, and our desire to do what feels right to us.
It may be too late for us to avoid the tragedy of sin, but perhaps we can be restored.
If we, as a people, humble ourselves and submit to God and His Word.
And so, I pray. Will you join me?


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dear Young Mother, It Won't Always be "This Way"

True story.

Yesterday I hit my snooze button twice before getting out of bed.
I didn't WANT to get up at that time, but I managed to overcome my desires and get myself out of bed.
I put on my work-out clothes, walked out to the family room and opened the blinds. At which moment I could see that all cars were gone. (Save for my husband's car. He was still in bed. Napping before going to work, because he gets up at 4:30 every morning to go work out. Really.)
Anyway, I stood there contemplating what the absence of cars meant: Two of my kids were at work, the third might have been at work - or, he might be fishing, and the fourth was gone to class. In other words, everyone was responsible for getting themselves up and where they needed to be while my husband and I were in bed.
My, how times have changed!


Monday, September 17, 2018

Friday, September 14, 2018

Just Pray

So, I have a son.
Who shall remain nameless in this post.
And this son, had a little car trouble Wednesday evening. That is, his vehicle just stopped running while he was driving home (about an hour away) and he couldn't get it to start again. He called Dad for advice, and they surmised what the problem might be.
After a few mintes, this nameless child realized he had run out of gas. *ahem*
At which point, further advice was sought.
As in, How do I get gas now? The nearest exit is 15 miles away. The two of them debated the options of walking or hitch-hiking, and I suggested road-side assistance from our insurance carrier. But Son didn't want to wait for that, so he started walking.
A moment later I thought, Or, he could pray. He could ask God to send someone to help. Although I figured he would roll his eyes at the suggestion. (That mom of his - always thinking God is the answer and all we need to do is pray.*) But that IS what I think, so I texted him and said what I thought. I wrote, "Or you could pray that God will send someone your way to help. That's what I'm doing." (And I was.)
Not even a minute later I recieved this response.

Just got picked up by a cop. He's taking me to get gas.
And I immediately responded with this:
Awesome! Thank You, JESUS!!!

Yes. God is the answer, and all we need to do is pray.

*And I'm not exaggerating when I say that as soon as I finished typing "That mom of his - always thinking God is the answer and all we need to do is pray," - my phone rang.
It was a friend who had called me Thursday morning asking for prayer for her grandson, who attempted suicide the day before. My heart sank when I saw her name on my phone, as I feared bad news.
But there was no bad news.
She called with very good news. And as we hung up the phone and I got back to my post and read what I had just written, well, I looked to heaven with a smile on my face. I thanked God for confirming for me in that very moment, We just need to pray.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Speaking of Career Paths...

Yesterday I was looking for something in my blog archives.
I never did find it.
And I can't imagine what hapened to it because I KNOW it was here, once upon a time.
The good news is - in my seach for that, I came upon this.
And since I just posted about Phil beginning his new career, I thought it appropriate to anticipate Elizabeth's career. From my perspective 11+ years ago.

Ever since she could talk, Elizabeth has expressed kindness and compassion with her words. In a journal I'm keeping for her, I often note the sweet things she says and does. Like the time I was feeling low and when I went to bed there was a note on my pillow which she'd written. She told me she loved me, God loved me, and she hoped I was feeling better soon. Elizabeth is such a sweetheart!
When it comes to her brothers, however, she can take on a very different attitude. She doesn't like them to get into her stuff. I understand that desire, and support her in it. It has become her standard, though, that they aren't even allowed to set foot in her room uninvited. I understand that desire, too, and agree the boys shouldn't go into her room when she isn't in there. But sometimes she goes a little overboard. Even when she is in her room, Elizabeth will get totally bent out of shape if one of her brothers enters without her invitation. It is because of Elizabeth's rantings and ravings about her brothers' need to stay out of her room that I got a BIG laugh Saturday, and determined I know her future career.

We were getting ready for Elizabeth's birthday party. She had invited several girlfriends over for the afternoon and we were busy putting up decorations, cutting out pictures, blowing up balloons, and sorting out prizes. Elizabeth was sure she had some stuffed animals in her toybox in her bedroom that would add nicely to the decorations, but we were both quite engrossed in our current duties and were a bit pressed for time.
Previously, we had tried to solicit help from the boys, but since they weren't going to be participating in the party they weren't particularly interested in helping with preparations.
So as I was standing there cutting up pieces of paper, I almost lost a finger when I started laughing at the exchange that took place between my kids. Elizabeth put on her sweetest face. The look itself almost said, "You're the luckiest little boy in the world for what I'm about to offer you!" She then said, "Matthew, how would you like to go rummaging through my room?" He immediately stopped what he was doing (I don't remember what it was. He was probably getting ready to pop a balloon or something.) and looked at her. Just as quickly, Joshua popped out from around the corner and said, "I will!" With that, Elizabeth sent the boys up to her room on a hunt for the animals she was sure were hiding there somewhere.

I stood there marveling at Elizabeth's skill to get these boys to do what she wanted them to do - something they had previously made clear they did not want to do. She didn't ask them again to "help get ready for the party". She gave them permission to rummage through her room. By putting a slightly different spin on the activity, Elizabeth got the boys to help. Besides that, she made it fun for them!
Within minutes they had returned with the animals in question.

I'm telling you, that girl ought to be in sales. I didn't ask her how she thought about her approach, and I don't know how long she'd been working on it. But she came up with it, and it worked.
My only thought now?
Beware, Phil. Your bride-to-be has a way with words! *wink*