Thursday, May 31, 2018

Things That Make You Say, "Hmmmm"

Yesterday Matthew and I were standing in the kitchen looking outside at a very cloudy sky when he asked, "Do you know if it's going to be cloudy all day?"
I had looked at the weather forecast previously, but information like that only stays in my head long enough for me to decide what I'm going to wear that day - so I had to tell Matthew I didn't know the answer to his question.
He kind of *hmphed* and said, "Well, I hope it gets sunny so I can mow the lawn." And I had to pause at that comment, because I didn't understand what the sun had to do with mowing the lawn.
Last I knew our lawn mower ran on gasoline.
I certainly wasn't aware of us buying a solar powered machine.
And I'm guessing my ponderings showed up on my face as confusion. Because after a moment of silence Matthew explained his need for sunshine. That is, he wanted to mow the lawn with his shirt off so as to even up the "farmer's tan" he's got going from all the days of pushing carts in the parking lot at work.
"Oooohhh, I get it," I said. "Ummmm, did you know you can still get tan through the clouds?"
Honestly, I am not sure Matthew wanted that little piece of information - or maybe he just didn't believe me. Either way, he got the lawn mowed. And a few hours later, the sun was shining.
Whether, or not, he evened up his tan in spite of the clouds remains to be seen. *wink*

So, there's that.

And then there's the interaction I had with Elizabeth on Tuesday which really had me saying, "Hmmmmm?"
She approached me and asked, "Is there anything going on between now and Sunday?"
Now, I don't know about you, but that question was just a bit too broad for me. I mean, c'mon. Of course there were things going on between that moment and Sunday. Like - I was going to go grocery shopping, there was laundry to do, I had an appointment to get my hair cut, a lady to visit, a talk to hone, and lots of other stuff. Plus, I was sure Brian and the boys each had stuff going on.
So I asked, "Can you be a little more specific?" And my girl - rather than jumping to her confused-mom's rescue like her brother did - smiled at me and said, "Uh, yeah. Is there anything going on Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday?"
Ahhhh, she's a funny one, that girl is!


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What are the Odds?

Phil: What are the odds you'll drink straight soy sauce?
Elizabeth: One in ten.
Phil: Three, two, one...
Phil and Elizabeth together: Seven!
Elizabeth: Aaaggghhh!
Phil: Laughs heartily as he hands Elizabeth a small dish with soy sauce on it, and watches her wince while she drinks it.
Such was the scene I observed yesterday, of these two love birds in my kitchen.

What are the odds?
It's a game all of my kids enjoy playing. Maybe yours will, too!
Here's how it goes: Person One thinks up an action for Person Two to do, and asks what the odds are that they'll do it.
After careful consideration, Person Two states the odds: one in "whatever", depending on how much they do or do not want to perform the proposed action. For example, if you said to me, "What are the odds you'll eat this peanut butter chocolate chip cookie?" I would probably say, "One in one." Because I want to eat that cookie! But if you said, "What are the odds you'll put peanut butter in your ear?" I would probably say, "One in five-hundred." Because I really don't want to put peanut butter in my ear. (And because I am not very adventurous, and would therefore choose very big odds.)
Next, Person One counts down from three, and then One and Two simultaneously say a number within the given odds.
If they say the same number, Two has to do what One proposed.
If they say different numbers, Two is off the hook.

It's kind of like the game "Truth or Dare" which we played a lot when I was a kid.
I like this version more, though, because it gives the players more control over whether or not they have to do the "dare".
And it's fun to watch the anticipation of Person Two as One is counting down to Two's fate. *wink*

So, what are the odds you'll teach your kids how to play this game???

Friday, May 25, 2018

Ahead of Schedule

So, the flower seeds I planted last Friday?
They're sprouting. LOOK!!!

What? You don't believe me???
Look again. CLOSER this time!
Can you see them? The ones in front are very tiny.
But they're there!
And I am so excited. You can tell the level of my excitement by the fact that I already know they're sprouting. That is, the seed packets said sprouts would show up in 7-10 days. And if I am counting correctly, I discovered these little guys on day six!

The thing is, already - before the flowers are even a centimeter high, and waaaaaaay before they're blooming beautiful colors - I am not even thinking about the work I put into getting the flower bed ready. I don't care that my hands were hurting. My sore muscles are long forgotten. I am simply enjoying keeping the soil watered and anticipating the growth of the flowers.
I am equally enjoying the thought of God's perfect care for His children - His delight in preparing us and helping us grow into the likeness of His Son. I cherish the idea that everything we do in our efforts to grow in Christ - when we bring ourselves under the power of the Holy Spirit - through studying His Word, in prayer and contemplation, in service and sacrifice, all of it produces in us life and beauty which is fully worth all the effort.
Sometimes it's hard for us to see.
Sometimes we have to wait a long time.
But - always - we can trust Him!


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

She Said Yes to the Dress

Soooooo, Elizabeth and her friend and I went wedding dress shopping yesterday...
And after a lot of trying on and smiling and ooohing and re-trying on and aaahing and grinning and trying on one more time, Elizabeth picked her wedding dress!!!
It is so beautiful, and absolutely right for her.
And do you know what it has me thinking about?
I mean, besides remembering when I was a young woman choosing the dress in which I would pledge my life to the man of my dreams. *wink*
Elizabeth's wedding gown has me thinking about Jesus preparing a Bride for Himself. It has me thinking about HIM transforming me, making me into HIS image - so I might resemble Jesus in thought and word and deed.
The thing is, that man to whom I pledged my life almost 25 years ago is sitting beside me as I type these words. And, to be honest, I sense the Spirit of the Lord nudging me to set the computer aside and focus my attention on my husband.
And, to be honester (That's a real word. I just made it up!) I am convinced that I am not going to be made more into the likeness of Christ if I ignore the promptings of His Spirit. So, I'm signing off now.
With the good news that Elizabeth picked her dress.
And the better news that I am choosing Jesus!

Grace and peace to you today, my friends!


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Encouragement for Moms of Littles

Are you a mother of young children?

Are you training them up in the ways they should go?

Trying to teach them manners and good habits, and all that other stuff?

Do you get tired of their whining and complaining, and sometimes feel like giving up?

Dear friend, hear this encouragement. Don't give up!!!!
Sunday night I was sitting at the table making my weekly menu and grocery list. Elizabeth and Phil were sitting on the other side - addressing wedding invitations. And my ears perked up when I heard Phil say something about writing Thank-you notes - and how nice he thinks it is that Elizabeth regularly sends them to people to express her gratitude. The part which really interested me, however, was when Elizabeth responded with something like, "Well, it's just what I learned to do. Mom always made us send them out when we were kids."
I mean, it would have been lovely to hear her expound on the merits of conveying gratitude toward people for the gracious things they have given or done. To listen to words about a caring mother who demonstrated the grace of thankfulness, and tenderly instilled the same value in her children. How precious it would have been to hear my daughter speak of how her heart was shaped to give thanks by her dear mother's loving instruction.
Instead, she acknowleged that I made her write them as a kid - so now she does it as an adult, by habit.

And I? Am OK with that!

Years ago, writing Thank-you notes involved lots of cajoling and reminding. Maybe even an admonition, or two, now and then.
Occasionally I wondered if it was worth it to keep insisting on them being written.
However, the more I experience the fruits of my labors of yesteryear, the more I am convinced that - YES! - it's all worth it. The whining, the complaining, especially the moments when your child says you're the "Meanest Mom in the World" are so painful when you're going through it, but they will all be worth it some day. Keep on keeping on, dear mother-friend.
You're going to make it, your kids are learning, and they're going to turn out beautifully!

P.S. I just took Thank-you notes into Matthew's room for the birthday gifts he received this past weekend. At first he looked at me quizzically, not knowing what I was doing. But when I laid the cards on his table which say, "Thank you" on the front, he simply smiled and said, "Oh, yeah. OK!"
#ThankYouJESUS #KeepOnKeepingOn


Monday, May 21, 2018

Yes, You Can

I had a super busy (and super great!) weekend. Which left no time to record a video devotion.
So I'm reaching back into the archives and posting something I was thinking about nine years ago.
Praying God speaks to your heart, wherever you are today.


Friday, May 18, 2018


Ahhhh, it's ready.
My flowerbed is ready for seeds!!!

Yesterday I worked hard, digging up the top layer of ground in order to get rid of the grass and to make a place for the frame. I used a soil tiller thingy to break up the ground a bit, and then I added a couple bags of garden soil.
And now, now my flowerbed is ready for seeds.
The very seeds which inspired me to go through all the work of preparing a flowerbed.
(I received some flower seeds from my dear friends in Precepts, which I intended to put in flower pots on the deck. But then I discovered that the flowers would grow to 2-3 feet, and I decided that was too much for a flower pot. And what else is there to do but make a flowerbed???)
The thing is - like most projects taken on around the house and in the yard - preparing that flowerbed was a lot harder than I imagined it would be.
And I have the beginnings of callouses on my hands to prove it!
The other thing is - I have a feeling the effort (The callouses, the sweat, the aching back, the sore muscles, the bug bites, all of it.) is going to be completely worth it. Because I am going to plant seeds for three kinds of beautiful flowers (with lots of pink and purple!) and later this summer when I look out in my back yard I am going to be overcome by their beauty. And while I am enjoying their beauty, I am quite certain I will not be regretting the work I put into getting ready to plant them.
Rather, I think I'll be very glad I did it.

What makes all the work on my flowerbed even sweeter to me is they way God has been speaking to my heart through it. Kinda like He was speaking to me Sunday.
I am well aware of the fact that God puts in a lot of work in His efforts to make me more like Jesus. And although I want to be a willing participant in the process I know I provide no shortage of things for Him to do, discipline He needs to dole out to me, and convictions He has to press upon me.
If it were possible for God to run out of patience, I'm sure I could take Him there. I'm sure He could get tired of digging me out of pits, and rooting sins out of my heart. It wouldn't surprise me if God wanted to stop repeating Himself every time I forget what He's been trying to teach me, or how He's been working to transform me.
But as I breathed deeply, rested my tired body, and rubbed my aching back - while anticipating the beauty of the flowers which are going to blossom as a result of my efforts - I got a sense of the joyful anticipation God must experience when He considers His children becoming like His Son.
And my heart filled with thanksgiving.
Ahhhh, Lord. Thank You for considering me worth it. Thank You for all the effort You exert in order to make me more like Jesus. Thank You for tilling the soil in my heart, for weeding out the sin, for feeding me with Your Word, for patiently tending to my growth. Please help me, Father, to walk in harmony with Your will for me. Help me to be seed-ready.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Laughter is Good Medicine

I have a friend who enjoys puns and groan-able jokes as much as I do. And many evenings find us texting one-liners back and forth to one another.
My sons and husband often roll their eyes at the things which I find so hilarious, but I think they secretly enjoy watching me laugh so hard. :)
Anyway, last night I found some really good ones, and I thought I would brighten your day by sharing them with you here.

You're welcome.

I saw an ad for burial plots, and thought to myself this is the last thing I need.
"Doctor, there's a patient on line 1 that says he's invisible."
"Well, tell him I can't see him right now."
Thanks for explaining the word "many" to me. It means a lot!
OK. One more.
I got a new pair of gloves today, but they're both 'lefts' which, on the one hand, is great, but on the other, it just isn't right.
Here's to lots of joy and laughter today!


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Man's Best Friend

I had to do a double-take yesterday when I saw this scene.

I mean, Mindy is a devoted and loving dog. She adores her big brother.
But this chin-on-the-chair thing? I hadn't seen that behavior before.
I wondered what Josh was doing which was so interesting to her, that she got sooooo close.
Then I looked a little closer and I saw a sandwich in Josh's right hand.
Ahhh, yes. Then I understood.
She was interested in the food, not the phone.
So I did a little sneaking around to capture the moment in a picture, and now I cannot help but chuckle every time I look at it. Oh, how that little dog depends on her brother for snacks and walks and love and stuff. They're quite a pair!


Monday, May 14, 2018

Friday, May 11, 2018

Tulip Time

So I went to Holland yesterday.
Holland, MICHIGAN, that is!
In honor of Tulip Time.

Wanna see???

I captured Elizabeth and Phil in this picture, too. *grin*

The trip to Holland was another example of things not going according to original plans, while God worked it all out in spite of me. I love, LOVE how HE does that!
Enjoying the beauty of His creativity was a bonus.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Once Upon a Time

I don't very often think of things I did five years ago.
Honestly, I hardly remember half the things I did last week!
But yesterday had me remembering something I did in 2013 (Or maybe it was in 2012. Yeah, it probably was. Er, I'm not entirely sure.) and delighting in the fact that God never forgets.

That is, I received an email from someone I do not know - with this picture attached:

The writer of the email had seen this post and was encouraged by the devotion. God used it to speak to her heart, and the fact that she took whatever time was necessary to track me down and send me an email spoke to my heart, as well.
The thing is, I cannot recall the last time I thought about that devotion. Like - it's probably been years. Yet, yesterday somebody picked up her Bible and read those words which I penned several years ago. And God spoke to her - so much so that she posted the devotion on Facebook for anyone to see. And her friend saw it - and God spoke to her heart, too.
No matter that I'd virtually forgotten I had ever written those words.
God hasn't forgotten, and He isn't finished speaking through them.

So I sat at the table, my computer opened in front of me, nearly in tears as I thanked God.
Thanked Him for carrying me through those really difficult years.
Thanked Him for the truths He has spoken to my heart and used to shape my life.
Thanked Him for the opportunity and ability to share those truths through the written word.
Thanked Him for knowing what we need - when we need it - and for delivering it at just the right time.
Indeed. Our God is good.
And I want to be His instrument!


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The Motivation Behind Snuffleupagus?

Do you remember Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street?
Big and bulky.
Always a little bit sad and melancholy, as I recall.
But something about him made me like that big ol' wooly mammoth-ish creature.
And yesterday, something made me think about Snuffleupagus for the first time in a looooong time.
That is, I was outside spreading mulch.
Nah, that sounds too easy.
The truth is we ordered a few yards of mulch and it was delivered to our driveway. In one great big heap. And the non-ease with which we hence had to maneuver around the driveway motivated me to get started on spreading mulch.
So I got busy shoveling the (wet and heavy) mulch into the wheelbarrow, wheeling the (heavy) wheelbarrow to its destination, and dumping and spreading the (wet and heavy) bright-bark-goodness around my landscaping. (After, that is, I bent over and dug up weeds which were in the vacinity where I would be spreading the wet and heavy mulch.)
To say my back was aching would be an understatement.
To say I was feeling a little bit sad and melancholy as I looked at the big heap of mulch waiting to be shoveled and relocated would be quite accurate.
Perhaps the gloomy feelings I was having as I stared at the big and bulky heap of shredded red stuff is what caused me to see Snuffleupagus in it.
What do you think?
Can you see the resemblance?
Anyway, as I trudged through the chore of shoveling mulch into my wheelbarrow - tired of the work, feeling sorry for myself that I had to do it, yet intrigued by how much that big ol' pile looked like Snuffy - I decided this: Whoever came up with the idea of Snuffleupagus - his character, his look, and his outlook - must have been shoveling mulch when the idea came.

Now, if I can just get over seeing a smooshed Snuffleupagus every time I look around my yard. *wink*


Tuesday, May 08, 2018

My Girl Graduated

And this is why I didn't post a video devotion yesterday.
Was pretty busy this past weekend!


Friday, May 04, 2018

The Attentive Gardener

Ahhh, it has finally warmed up for good (I hope!!!) and I am enjoying getting outside and tending to the plants and flowers all around my house. I've been weeding and feeding and transplanting and weeding and raking and counting buds and weeding and pulling off dead stuff and searching for new life and weeding some more.
Two nights ago it rained, and yesterday as I walked around the house to look for weeds which needed to be pulled (And sprouting trees. Ugh! Those little helicopters from maple trees get everywhere!) anyway, as I was walking around the house I was so happy to see more growth appearing. The hostas are beginning to show their leaves. The flowers on the mertyl are blooming. Just about all the trees have buds. Even a climbing flowering vine-type-plant which I divided (and thought I might have killed because I cut the roots) is standing up and producing green leaves.
It seriously brought me so much delight to see how everything is growing. Further, the growth - and the anticipation of how beautiful it's all going to be - increased my desire to kneel down and bend over and get my fingers dirty by digging up weeds.
Because I want those plants to be as healthy and beautiful as possible.
I am looking foward to enjoying them all summer long. (Oh, yeah! Did I mention how well my new lilac bush is doing? I think it's going to produce some delicious smelling flowers this year!)

So, what's the point?
This isn't a garden blog...
The point is, as I was admiring my plants -so pleased with their progress - and as I was diligently searching out weeds and dead stuff which could ruin their beauty, I was reminded of two things.
One, Gardening 101 should be a required course for all seminary students. Because there are sooooooo many sermon illustrations waiting to be discovered in caring for plants.
And, two, God is an Attentive Gardener.
As I was tending my plants, God spoke to my heart and convinced me of this: The delight HE finds in watching me grow into the woman HE intends for me to be, and the care HE puts into weeding out sin in my life and pruning away the dead stuff and every other thing HE does to make me grow in beauty - far outweighs what I'm doing in my yard for my plants.
I thought of how intently HE must watch over me, over all of us(!), and I couldn't help but give thanks for His perfect care. For the weeding HE graciously and tirelessly performs in my heart, for the precise removal of dead things which would hamper my growth, for the nourishment HE provides through His Word and the growth HE spurs through His Spirit. Ahhhhh, Lord. Thank You!
The love, the tenderness, the time, the patience, the fullness of His care for us amazes me!

Come to think of it, perhaps Gardening 101 ought to be a required course for every new believer.
Oh, how HE has used it to inspire my faith and trust in Him!


Thursday, May 03, 2018

I Guess I'm Nesting

What do you call it when you get the urge to clean your daughter's bathroom - because she's moving home in four days and the bathroom hasn't been cleaned (or used!) for months?
When you've gotten used to stains on the basement carpeting but now feel they must be cleaned? (Because your daughter is moving home in four days, and her room is in the basement.)
And the next thing you know you find yourself on your hands and knees scrubbing the shower, cleaning the toilet, washing the floor, and even scouring the grout between each tile. Then, before you can do anything about it - you're pretreating spots, assembling the carpet shampooer (Is that even a word?), and cleaning the basement carpeting.
Not to mention the fact that before all these shenanigans began you had lugged the vacuum out to the garage to thoroughly clean the van? Which you have meant to do for weeks, but only became motivated enough to actually do it because you knew in four days you were going to be loading all your daughters things into it and bringing her home.
The only way I can explain it, is this: I must be nesting again.
But, what gives? I mean, I didn't even get this crazy the first time I brought her home 22 years ago. Of course, the size of my belly at that time was prohibitive of things like getting on my hands and knees to scrub floors...

Ahhh, I'm looking forward to bringing my girl home. For one more last time ever.


Wednesday, May 02, 2018

I'll Never Do That Again

So, I gave Matthew his allowance yesterday.
And I'll never do that again.
Not because he has done some terrible thing and now I'm cutting him off. Rather, because I don't give Elizabeth or Josh allowance anymore, either. Haven't done that since they graduated from high school. And next month - Matthew will be a high school graduate!
In fact, this marks not only the end to Matthew's allowance, but also the end to me giving allowance to anyone. Yeah. No kids anymore. (Officially, even, as Matthew turns 18 in a couple weeks.)
I had another last-ever in March, when I attended my last ever parent/teacher conference.
It won't be long until I have my last ever wake-up-at-6:30-and-listen-to-be-sure-Matthew's-up-for-school.
Now that I think about it, I'm sure I have passed my last ever sign-this-for-your-minor-child form.
And pretty soon I will never again have to keep track of school calendars and events and half-days and snow days and all that other stuff which fills the mind of a mother with school children.
Because my children have all grown up.
And things are changing around here.

But some things won't change.
No matter how old they get, how far they go, or how long they're gone I'm always going to wonder if they're safe, and eating well, and having everything they need.
Regardless of the number of days since they've become independent adults, I'm still going to view them as my babies and they'll continue to hold that place in my heart.
And even when they're well-adjusted, successful, productive adults I will continue praying for them - trusting God to care for them as adults, just like He did when they were children.
That'll never stop!