Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Oh, My Heart

Sunday morning my son sent this video which he recorded through his back window.
I immediately started praying for safety and protection, because my momma's heart was jumping to conclusions. (Of course, he and my other son were making jokes about the whole situation over the group text exchange.)
Then my son who is still at home explained to me - when I expressed major concern at the size of the weapons, and the need for bullet proof vests - the police were taking every precaution as they were entering a potentially hostile situation. He assured me it was probably a drug bust, and there was no need to be concerned that Josh was in danger. (So sweet of him to try rescuing my pounding heart!)
And I realized what he was saying was probably true. But tell me, if you got this video on your phone, and your baby was so close to the action wouldn't your heart start leaping, too??? *wink*

Oh, and then there was the updated text we got after church: They just threw 2 flash bangs.

The news reports I saw indicated a possible home invasion by a man into the apartment of a (maybe) ex-girlfriend. He might have been armed, and may have left the premises before police arrived.
So why they were there for a couple of hours and had to use two flash bangs if the guy wasn't inside, I cannot explain. And, yes, I am doubting that's the real story.
But, alas, everyone is assured all is well. So we go on with our days, and I continue to pray - trusting God to care for my children wherever they may be.


Monday, December 30, 2019

Psalm 1:5

Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

~Psalm 1:5


Monday, December 23, 2019

Psalm 1:4

Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

~Psalm 1:4

I won't be blogging for the rest of the week.
See you back here next Monday for verse 5.
Merry Christmas!!!


Friday, December 20, 2019

It's My Pleasure

I love it when people understand that we can have fun in the midst of "business."
It brings joy to my heart when guests respond to my teasing with ribbing of their own.
I am delighted when we see each other as people, rather than as transactions.
And the memory of my interaction with "Jim" this week is still making me smile.

Jim smiled at me when I waved in his direction and said, "I'd be happy to serve you!" We had a pleasant interaction as I took his order, and then it came time for me to enter his name into the computer for his order. I said, "I'm so sorry. I don't remember your name. Will you please remind me of your name for your order?" (I have waited on him many times. Totally recognize his face, but couldn't recall his name...) He said somewhat loudly, in mock-irritation, "What, Karen??? You don't remember my name? I know your name!" Lauging, I replied, "That isn't fair. I'm wearing a name tag. If you wore a name tag, I'd remember your name, too!" At which time he told me his name, and I said, "Jim! Jim! Jim! I'll never forget it now." (His name isn't really Jim.)

Then he said, "Actually, 'Jim' hasn't always been my name, I had to change it. My name used to be 'Jack.' Once I was getting onto an airplane when a friend saw me and called out, 'Hi, Jack!'
"We were immediately tackled by security and rushed to airport jail, and I knew something had to change - or I'd never be able to fly with people I know again."
Thus, the next time I see him I'm thinking I might greet him by saying, "Hi, Jack!"
And when we finish laughing with one another, I'll take his order - and I'll surely remember his real name when it's time to enter it on the computer. *wink*


Thursday, December 19, 2019

For the JOY

I've just got to share this moment with you!
I sat down yesterday to spend time reading my Advent verses, and God did it again.
HE spoke to my heart.
The assigned reading was Hebrews 12:1-2, and it was the second verse which grabbed me.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I thought, If I fix my eyes on Jesus, what will I see?
And I was drawn to joy.
In my mind's eye I saw my Savior enduring the pain and shame of the cross because of joy.
The joy of redeeming mankind - you and me!
The joy of completing the work God sent Him here to do.
The joy of returning to heaven and sitting down by His Father, because the work was done.
The joy of fully portraying His unfailing love and unending grace for us.
Oh, the joy! The pain was overwhelming, to be sure. But for the joy - He endured it.
Because of what He knew was coming, He was able to go through what He went through.
And then He invited me to join in. To recognize there is joy for me, too, (For all of us!) on the other side of pain. On the other side of hardship, or distress, or fear. He beckoned me to trust Him in the process, and to endure for the joy set before me.
Then I wondered, OK. But just what do you mean by endure???
And this is where it gets really good!
I checked out the definintion of "endure" and saw that it means, "literally, remaining under (the load), bearing up (enduring)" and I thought, Yeah. I figured as much. To endure means to, well, endure! To remain under a certain load or burdern. And at that point I was not particularly impressed.
But then I read, "for the believer, this uniquely happens by God's power" and suddenly my heart started doing flips!
I mean, do you see what I saw???
As God calls us to focus on the joy which will come as a result of our faithfulness to go through what we have to go through, He doesn't ask us to endure alone.
HE will give us the power - HIS power - to remain under the load we're carrying.
HE will help us.
We are not alone!
I don't know about you, but the JOY in that thought is enough to carry me.
God is good. He has a good purpose for our circumstance.
AND He will give is the strength - HIS strength - to endure.
Friend, whatever you may be facing today, I pray God will give you the grace and faith to trust the process, as you believe in HIS power and presence to carry you through to the JOY.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Being Present

The instructions on my Advent reading plan say this:

Prepare. Choose a comfortable and quiet place. Intentionally acknowledge and place yourself in the presence of God. As best you can, release your cares to the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to help you see wonderful things in the Word of God.

Can I just tell you? As someone who has been a rule-follower pretty much all her life - nothing has delighted my heart like following this "rule."
Getting quiet, releasing distractions from my mind, and saying, LORD, I am putting myself into Your presence. Please speak to my heart. And then sitting in HIS presence, I realize I can be there because of the grace HE has given me through His Son - through His death and burial and resurrection.
That is, on my own I cannot come to HIM. I am unworthy and unable to approach HIM. But Jesus!
Jesus made the way for me to be reconciled to the Father, and now I can come into HIS presence. I can sit with HIM and hear from HIM and recieve HIS love.
Oh, the joy!
Indeed, there is nothing like it.
This exercise of Advent readings has been filling my heart with delight - because of intentionally acknowledging and placing myself in the presence of God.

And God, in His goodness, has taken the whole thing a step further. In this season of preparation (Which often involves hectic moods and moments!) HE is reminding me to be intentional about acknowledging and placing myself in the presence of people. That is to say, God convinced me that just as I delight in being in HIS presence, so I will find it delightful being in the presence of my family and friends over the holidays if I will be intentional about being present. If I will set aside the distractions of unimportant details and just enjoy their presence.
Yes, LORD. I hear You. Please help me to be present with my loved ones, too!


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Perspective? Check!

So my van did this thing yesterday.
I was at the gas station and had just started filling the tank when the pump suddenly shut off. Not thinking much of it, I set the little trigger thing again and intended to finish filling the tank.
But it quickly stopped again.
At which point I sighed heavily and rolled my eyes as I recalled last winter.
Yes. Last winter when I thought there was something frozen in the gas line because I could never put in more than a few drops of gasoline at a time. (OK, I'm exaggerating. But that's how it felt!) Seriously, though, it was frustrating. Pump for two or three seconds, stop. Remove nozzle and reinsert. (Because there seemed to be a *slight* increase in the pumping time with this action.)
And repeat.
Twenty times.
Or until you're (1) too cold to continue or (2) too frustrated to continue.
Then spring came and suddenly everything worked perfectly again. And I chalked it up to something-was-too-cold. And I forogt all about it.
Until yesterday.
Indeed, yesterday I wanted to immediately text Brian a message saying something like,

OMGee!!! Not again!
It isn't even that cold today and the van is having fueling issues again.
I do NOT want to do this all winter!!!
But, alas, I was on my way to get grocery shopping done, and that rant text message was forgotten.
The inconvience was not forgotten, though. Thus when the opportunity presented itself last night, I complained about my gas-filling-hardships - quite dramatically - while Brian puzzled at what the problem might be. And as I was wrapping up my case for how my life might not be live-able this winter if this nuisance persists, I suddenly realized how ridiculous I must sound.
When I consider my life in comparison to most of the rest of the world, I must admit that I don't even know what hardship is. Oh, dear. I might have to stand in the cold five minutes longer than usual so I can put gasoline into my vehicle - which has heat inside, and music, and comfortable seats, and room for my entire family, and which will take me virtually anywhere I want to go - any time I want to go there. With it I can bring groceries home, visit family who live far away (or near), travel easily to work and church and any other place. I can do so many things which I couldn't do if my only option was walking. But, oh, the burden of filling it with gasoline.
Ahhhh, yes. Sometimes I need to be reminded to count my blessings.


Monday, December 16, 2019

Friday, December 13, 2019

It's My Pleasure

So, those of you who are friends with me on Facebook may have already seen these videos which I posted via Facebook Live. Uh, I hope you'll enjoy the repeat.
For the rest of you, I had so much fun making the song I posted last week that I kept on going.

This one was the result of creative juices flowing as I got ready for the day:

And I "wrote" this one while I was laying in bed Saturday morning.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Two Parties

Did you know sometimes God is a party crasher?
The odd thing is, I have often heard Him described as a perfect gentleman - and we all know a gentleman wouldn't come to a party without an invitation - but that's exactly what happened to me recently.
I was doing some work in our yard - bagging up leaves - after I had spent the better part of the day working at work. On the previous day - after working at work - I had also been working in the yard. And after I finished what I was presently doing in the yard, I knew I had more work ahead of me. That is, I would be going into the house to prepare dinner. AND, I felt that my efforts to support my family - through yard work, work work, and meal-prep (to name a few) - had been going largely unnoticed.
Or, at least unappreciated.
Thus, I had all the guests necessary to host a little pity-party:
Large yard bags, piles of wet and heavy partially-decomposed leaves, and enough self-righteous angst to fill and stuff, fill and stuff.
I packed those bags to the brim - stomping the leaves down as I went. In fact, I was quite proud of myself for how much work I was getting done.
The voice in my head really helped me with the stomping down of the leaves. It said things like, He probably won't say, "Thank you" for this effort of yours. And, You're doing amazing work out here. But he might not even notice. And, You deserve a pat on the back for all this work (And a massage!) but chances are you aren't going to get it. And even, Oh, and forget about 'kudos' for the great dinner you're going to make. They really don't care about it as much as you do.
Annnnd, that's just about when God came and crashed the party.
Because the next voice which spoke didn't sound whiny and sanctimonious.
Oh, it was righteous - but not in a hypocritical, pious sort of way.
And that Next Voice? It asked me if I knew why I was put on this earth. Asked me if I knew why I was still living and breathing and able to stuff those leaves into bags.
In an instant that Voice humbled me.
I went from pompously rehearsing my need for recognition, to meekly confessing my broken condition. The Party Crasher caused me to see that I was not put on this earth to receive the praises of men. Rather I was put here to give praise to the One who created all men.
He made me realize it is His grace and His mercy and His patience (fueled by His love) which allow me to continue exisiting each day. That if it weren't for these things, I wouldn't even be here to host my silly little pity-party.
And *just like that* the guest list changed.
That is, the bags and leaves stuck around. But when the Spirit of God came in, self-righteous angst got sent away and - I'm telling you - the party got infinitely better as I began to thank the One who gave me life. As I praised the One who knows my heart and meets my needs. As I surrended to the One who wanted to transform me.
Ah, yes. HE throws much better parties than I do!


Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Following up on my post from last week about teaching Matthew how to use Kohl's Cash...

He truly didn't have time to use the Kohl's Cash before it expired, so he gave it to me. And I - armed with $15 in Kohl's Cash, and a $5 rewards coupon - went shopping yesterday.
This is what I got:

A sweater, and three pair of capris from the clearance rack.
At retail price, these items would have cost $160.
But I spent, oh, wait! I didn't spend ANYTHING. In fact I still have $4 left on the rewards coupon.
I showed Matthew what I got, as well as the original price vs. what I "spent".
He was so impressed.
*proud momma grin*


Monday, December 09, 2019

Psalm 1:2

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

~Psalm 1:2


Friday, December 06, 2019

Thursday, December 05, 2019

It's Pronounced "EEEN"

As Christmas carols start filling the air, my heart fills with joy.

And angst.

That is, there's one thing about Christmas carols among English-speakers which always bothers me. (Because the issue was so deeply impressed upon me by my beloved high school choir director. And if it mattered to her, it matters to me!)
And although I doubt I'll ever make a big enough impression to change the way the English-speaking world sings Angels We Have Heard on High if I reach just one or two or maybe twenty people, well, that will be time well-spent.
So, here's the deal:
"Gloria in excelsis Deo" is a Latin phrase. As in, all four words in the phrase are from the Latin language. Although "in" also looks like an English word, in this phrase it is Latin - and therefore should be pronounced as a Latin word.
Do you know how to pronounce "gloria"? Go ahead and say it out loud.
Did you notice the sound the "i" made when you said "gloria"?
Now try "excelsis".
Did the "i" make an "eee" sound again?

Fun fact: The "i" in the Latin word "in" makes the same "eee" sound as the "i" in the Latin words "gloria" and "excelsis".
So, give the Latin version of "in" a try.
Go ahead. It's pronounced "eeen".
By the way, you'll help convey the accurate message if you utilize the correct pronounciation, because Latin "in" means "to" (Glory to God in the highest!). If a Latin-speaker hears you throw in the English "in" while you're singing the Latin phrase, they might get confused.

OK. I've made my case. Thanks for listening.
And, please - for the love of Latin - tell your caroling friends that it's pronounced "eeen"!


Wednesday, December 04, 2019


Sunday I started a reading plan for Advent. And I'm loving it.
But it started off kind of strangely.
That is, the instructions say, "Take your time reading over the passage and when a word or a phrase lights up for you, stop and meditate on it. What do you hear? Why do you think this word or phrase has arrested your attention right now? Take your word or phrase with you as food for the day."
Easy enough, right?
Unless you're me, and you over analyze everything.
See, the first reading was Isaiah 9, which begins, "Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress." And when I sat down to read it - after I had intentionally placed myself in God's presence, and asked Him to speak to me - NEVERTHELESS lit up for me.
I was just so taken by that word.
But I thought to myself, That's silly. It cannot possibly be that the first word I read is the one God wants to use to speak to me. Besides, I'm sure He will use a much more spiritual and profound word. I mean, an adverb? Really??? Thus, I continued reading. Waiting for that word or phrase which God would use to capture my heart and attention.
And it was a delightful hunt. Isaiah 9 has such beautiful imagery. Followed by frightful prophecy. Yet, for all my reading and in spite of how long I searched, nothing arrested my attention like "nevertheless".
So I finally gave in. I acquiesced that maybe, perhaps, God could speak through the first word I read.
Even if it was just an adverb.
And I asked Him what He wanted to say.
That's when I discovered what a beautiful, hopeful, life-giving word "nevertheless" can be.
It's true: Isaiah 9:8-21 details a lot of sin and arrogance and reason for God to maintain His anger. Nevertheless, He made a promise in verses 1-7.
That promise was His Son, who came to the earth and lived a sinless life.
His Son did not deserve to die.
Nevertheless, He went to the cross to pay the penalty for all of sinful mankind.
This One - the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace - took upon the sin of the entire world and He died. He was buried. The punishment for our sin was upon Him.
Nevertheless, He rose from the grave! He conquered sin and death in His victory over the grave and secured eternal life for all who would put their faith in Him.
We deserve God's wrath - His upraised hand against us.(See the second half of Isaiah 9:12, 17, and 21.) Nevertheless, by His grace He saves us through His Son. His Promise.

So, that's what God's Spirit showed me when I asked Him what was so special about that adverb.


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Shopping Coach

My Matthew is growing up.
Every day I see him stepping closer and closer to adulthood, doing the things he needs to do to make it on his own.
He basically does his own laundry. He washes the dishes and cleans his bathroom. Sometimes Brian and I are not here for dinner, and I have gotten out of the practice (In which I engaged when the kids were young...) of making a casserole or some other offering for them to eat. So, on those occasions, Matthew has to fend for himself. And he does it successfully.
He is making it through Calculus and Physics, has gotten himself accepted at Michigan Tech, and is busy figuring out his housing arrangements for college life.
This guy can even change tires and assess other car things.
He's practically independent!

HOWEVER, we went shopping Friday night at Kohl's because Brian saw a good deal on flannel shirts earlier in the day, and Matthew wanted to take advantage of it. (That's my boy!!!) While we were there he found another good deal on pants (I was so proud!) and the sum total of two flannels and the pants earned Matthew $15 in Kohl's Cash.
He used my rewards account at check-out, and I received an email for an additional $5 off my next purchase. So I forwarded the email to Matthew - to be combined with his Kohl's cash - and went to tell him the good news. (Confident that he would be thrilled with $20 in free money to spend.)
I said, "Now, be sure to check your Kohl's Cash so you don't miss the expiration date. It's only good for a few days." And Matthew replied, "Oh. It expires? I might be too busy next week to use it. Oh, well."
My heart sank for just a moment at the thought.
I mean, didn't he understand the need to prioritize activities in order to cash in on FREE clothing?
OK. Work and school and homework need to happen. I get that.
Clearly, however, my son does not understand how far $20 could go if he shopped the clearance racks.
Ahhhh, I still have work to do!


Monday, December 02, 2019

Psalm 1:1

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

~Psalm 1:1


Friday, November 29, 2019

It's My Pleasure

I received an interesting question this week while working in the drive-thru.
Interesting, that is, because I think it was in part a serious inquiry.
The young man at the window wanted to know, "Do Chick-fil-A employees get fired if they aren't in a good mood? How is it that everyone can be so positive???"
I chuckled internally for just a moment before I responded, because I have frequently heard other guests wonder similar thoughts to one another. It seems many people want to know how we stay up-beat. So I was honest with the guest who had enough courage to come right out and ask the question.
First, I assured him that nobody loses their job if they're having a bad day.
Second, I shared that the whole "positivity" thing is actually a part of our training. One of the standards in the Core Four of how we interact with guests is to speak enthusiastically.
And then I told him about the reality of what it's like to work with Chick-fil-A folks. I mean, when you're around people who are consistently saying, "It's my pleasure!" "Absolutely!" "I'd be happy to!" and the like, well, it's pretty easy to follow suit.
We spent a few seconds pondering how natural it is to pick up on the positive attitude of those who surround us. We also recognized how quickly we can go the other direction. And then, just before he drove away we concluded that we ought to strive to be influencers who seek to bring other people up, rather than the ones who drag them down.
Yeah. A bit of philosophizing to go with breakfast.
We'll just call it Food for Thought in the Drive-thru.
I love my job!


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Now I'm REALLY Feeling Old

When I was a little girl I always looked forward to Christmas morning with my family. Up early, opening gifts, then going back to bed (The grown-ups, that is. I always stayed up to play with my new toys.) and eventually eating breakfast before going over to Grandma's for the "whole family" Christmas.
Then one day I got older and got married. And my husband and I started our own Christmas tradition. No longer with our respective nuclear families on Christmas morning, we celebrated on different days in different ways. Got into new habits, and it was all good.
Then I got a little older again, and I had children - my own little nuclear family. And more new traditions came into play. Our own Christmas morning standards. And this phase? Seemed to last for a long time.
I'd gotten really used to doing what we did on Christmas morning with all my kiddos.
But something has happened, and I am not sure I'm ready to admit its reality.
That is, this year my daughter and her husband are going to be out of town on Christmas day. And my son lives in his own apartment. Which means the way of doing things which I've been used to doing for the past 23 Christmases is going to be different. In fact, I am in the process of figuring out which non-December-25th day will work best for my kids to all be together to celebrate our Savior's birth - and to exchange gifts.
For an instant I was all, Wait a minute! That's something my mother-in-law does. Not me. But then I realized, Oh, wait another minute. I am a mother-in-law now. And I realizd again that a lot of time has passed through all these Christmas tradition changes - from my childhood home, to my married apartment, to my family home, to my nearly empty nest.
And, gee, I'm not sure how to deal with it all.

So if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to go find a rocking chair where I can sit for a while and think about it. *wink*


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A Cleo Update

My grand-dog is getting bigger.
And cuter by the day.


Monday, November 25, 2019

I Have a Question

If you've been on the internet over the past week, chances are you've read about the decision made by the Chick-fil-A Foundation to end their support of certain (Christian) organizations in favor of focusing their giving on three organizations which deal exclusively with hunger, homelessness, and education.
The reaction to this move from many Christian and conservative outlets (and individuals) has been filled with anger and disbelief. While I am disappointed with the vitriol I've seen in some of those responses, my heart has been troubled, too.
And when I couldn't stop thinking about it last Friday, I sat down and drafted a message which I submitted via the Chick-fil-A website. Although I am not confident my words will make it past the mailroom to the desk of the president, I am hopeful. In case they don't, however, I'll share them here.

Dear Mr. Tassopoulos,
Several times over the past few days I have read this quote:
"as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are."
I have a sense there is more to this statement than the fifteen words so oft printed, and I would love to know the rest.
You see, I am a Chick-fil-A employee. I love my job, my owner/operator, the people I serve, and the people with whom I serve. I even devote Fridays on my blog to Chick-fil-A stories. So, I very much feel a part of the "we" of whom you speak, and I have taken great delight in that association.
A significant portion of that delight came because I thought Chick-fil-A was a company which stood firm. I believed we adhered to biblical principles. I thought we didn't compromise when pressured by others to succumb to actions and attitudes deemed acceptable by modern society. My understanding was we were more concerned about moral truth than political correctness. I thought we had a sturdy backbone.
But from the recent action of turning away from the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home it seems to me we are a company which is caving to demands. It looks like we have a fear of men, rather than of God. It would appear our desire is to appease those whose ideology disagrees with the Bible. It looks to me like we're losing our foundation.
So, Mr. Tassopoulos, I support you in your campaign to be clear about who we are. Because right now I'm not really sure.
Who are we?

So, that's my question. Who are we?
I am willing to discover that the conclusions to which so many have jumped (i.e. that CfA is abandoning the faith-filled basis of its founder) are wrong. With background and explanation - rather than sound bites and out-of-context quotes - perhaps this decision will make sense. Indeed, I am hopeful for an answer which will clarify that Chick-fil-A is still the steadfast organization I have known it to be.


Friday, November 22, 2019

It's My Pleasure

Who knew something so simple could matter so much?
I mean all I did was speak a name.
But it made a difference. And I'm going to keep on doing it.

That is, whenever possible I greet my guests by name, but it wasn't until yesterday that I realized the significance of doing so.
I was in the drive-thru, saw the name on my screen, and said, "Good morning, Rosemary!" as she pulled up to the window. And this dear woman smiled a smile soooo big and said, "Oh! You said my name. How nice!" It was an instant friendship at that point, and you would be correct if you guessed the rest of our interaction was delightful.
Later in the afternoon I was at the front counter taking orders when an international student came in for lunch. As I always do, I asked for his name to put on the order and he leaned in and spelled, "X-U." At that moment I recognized this young man and remembered the last time I waited on him. On that day he also spelled his name for me and I attempted to pronounce it. I said, "Zhu?" and he corrected me with an "sh" sound, rather than "z". So yesterday I smiled at him and said, "Shu, right?" He smiled right back, "Yes. That's right!" And the look in his eyes told me he was pleased I had remembered. He was happy to hear his name.

I am not sure what it is about hearing our name, but especially after these interactions at work yesterday I see it matters. I guess in this big, crazy world we feel a little more known - maybe a bit more secure - when we realize someone knows our name.
So, friends, let's make it a point today to let people know we see them. Say somebody's name!


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

When HE Lets Me Do it My Way

Sometimes I think God lets me do stupid things in my own power so I am reminded that I need to trust fully in HIM.

For example...
Yesterday I had a lot to get done in the morning.
My Precept group was meeting for the last time before our holiday break, and we were planning a potluck. I had decided to make something in the Crock Pot to share with my Precept sisters. That way I could bring a warm dish which would stay warm, and which would travel easily. Besides, these dear ladies always seem to enjoy the Crock Pot dishes I make. So I had a plan, and all was good.
Until a few days before - when I realized I had an appointment to get my hair cut at 10:45 the same morning. Because getting my hair cut at 10:45, driving home to pick up the Crock Pot, and getting to church by 11:30 just wasn't going to happen.
But I put a little thought into it and figured out that I could put the recipe together a bit earlier than necessary, take the Crock Pot to church to finish cooking in our meeting room, go get my hair cut and be back at church with minutes to spare. I was quite pleased with how creatively I had come up with a solution to my problem and *might* have secretly patted myself on the back for not stressing about how to get 'er all done.
So yesterday I was well on my way to successfully pulling off my plans - in the van, on my way to church, on time, with the Crock Pot - and its contents smelling so good! - when I realized I had neglected to bring my Bible study materials. And I panicked.
I thought, I can't go to Bible study without my homework and notes and stuff! But I can't turn around and go back, because I don't want to be late for my appointment. And there's no way I'll have time to go home after my haircut. Maybe I can just remember the stuff I wrote in my notebook. No. I need to go back. But I've already wasted time sitting through two lights. I don't want to be late. But I'm going to Precepts. How could I have forgotten my Precept notebook? What was I thinking? Do I have enough time? Oh, for crying out loud, Karen, stop arguing with yourself and turn around to get what you should have remembered!
(Am I the only one who has internal conversations like this?)
So I carefully turned around (Didn't want to spill the contents of the Crock Pot!) and I went home. Praying every second of the way. I asked God to work out the details of the lights for me so I wouldn't be delayed by them again. And I thanked Him every time He faithfully made the way. I prayed the doors at church would be unlocked and our room open so I wouldn't waste time looking for people with keys, and I thanked Him for meeting each of those needs. I asked Him to get me through traffic and safely to the hair salon on time so I wouldn't inconvenience Clayton by my forgetfulness. And I thanked Him for even giving me extra time upon arrival, so I could read over some Bible study notes before going in for my appointment.
As I took a deep breath - thankful for everything God had just done for me - I realized, God, You let me do that, didn't You. When I left home without my folder, You knew it. And You let me go. You could have nudged me - could have kept me from forgetting. But You let me go in my little flurry of getting things done, let me rely on my own ways and wisdom. You let me do it my way - so I would be humbled and recognize that I need to trust You for everything. Every little thing. And You let me see that when I trust You, You are faithful in every detail. In.every.little.thing.

I understand that my circumstance yesterday might not strike everyone as an encounter with the Almighty. But, I'm telling you, there is no room for doubt in my mind that HE was at the center of it.
And my heart is fully delighted.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Permission to Rest

The truth is, my days have been full and I just didn't "have it in me" to make a video devotion.
Rather than force something, I'm choosing to rest.
And because I have a feeling I am not the only one who feels this way, I want to extend the offer to you, as well. May the peace of Christ rest upon you today!


Friday, November 15, 2019

It's My Pleasure

I love it when I get to have significant conversations with guests while I'm working.


Sometimes, however, I am not able to say or do the things my heart wants to pursue.
Like yesterday afternoon in the drive-thru.
We were super busy, and were getting cars through the line at a very good pace when I did a double-take at the guest sitting outside the window. She didn't do much to make eye contact with me, but I could see that she had been crying. And as I handed out a bag of waffle fries all I had time to do was pray for her silently. If it had been in the morning, or if there weren't a long line of cars behind her I would have slowed the interaction and asked about her circumstance.
(Though it didn't really look like she wanted to talk, anyway.)
As it was, when she pulled away I asked God to comfort her and be her help. While I took care of the next guest I prayed still. And even as I am typing these words, I continue to pray.
Thankful that God is not bound by time.
Trusting that He knows her needs.
Believing He can work on her behalf.
Grateful for the opportunity to notice and pray when somebody is hurting.
LORD, please keep me alert to Your Spirit and the things You would prompt me to do through Him.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

HE Answers

Oh, my goodness!
God is so faithful to answer us when we pray.
Yesterday I was asking Him to lead me in what to say during a couple of women's events at which I will be speaking in the future. I was honestly contemplating how to address these groups which may not be fully given to believing His Word. I was thinking, How much should I say? At what point will they stop listening, or - worse yet - become offended?
And then, right on cue, HE let this video come across my computer screen. My first thought was that I didn't have time to watch it. But somehow God got me to click on it and right away I knew HE was answering my prayer regarding "how much" to say. My spirit was so convicted. And I just kept watching because HIS WORD was speaking and I wanted to hear.
Part of me has the desire to give you the play-by-play of my response to this message, but I realize my response doesn't matter. Instead, I simply want to implore you to listen to this word. To allow God's Spirit to speak to yours. And to respond with holy reverence.


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Another Dedication

Well, the letter finally arrived.
The letter, that is, from Michigan Tech University - for which my son has been anxiously waiting.
Annnnnnd, looks like my boy is going to be a Husky!
Now Matthew is busy learning about housing options, researching campus life, and dreaming about the future. I am in one moment proud, and excited to see him growing and pursuing new things. And in the next moment I am full of sentimentality - wanting to keep holding on to my baby boy, not feeling ready to embrace this soon-to-be-empty nest. (Especially as I sat through a child dedication ceremony at church Sunday morning. The memory of standing on the platform the day we dedicated Matthew to the LORD seemed so very recent. *sigh*)
Maybe that's why I found myself re-dedicating him in my heart. Thinking about him on the brink of adulthood, making more of his own decisions (Though I love when he comes to Brian and me for advice!), doing more of his own things - I still pray that God will lead. Still believe that HE is the One who knows best. The One who can be trusted. So even as those young mommas and poppas were making commitments to raise their children to know the LORD, I was praying for my man-child to be drawn to HIM as he takes these next steps.
To be honest though, as I considered those young mommas and poppas and all that is ahead of them I also reflected on those same things which are now behind me. The years of doing my best to do my best, of trying to get it right - but knowing I fell short many times, and the occasional moment of feeling like we were actually going to make it. I thought of times when I could have done this, should have done that, or might rather have done the other thing. I questioned, Did I do enough? Did I miss things? Is he really ready to go? And I felt the Spirit of God nudge my heart. Dear one, you can still trust Me. I am not finished with him. Yes, he's growing. Yes, he's soon going to be moving on. But you can know that I am already there, and I will go with him. Keep trusting. Keep praying. Keep believing. I've got this!
So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to follow HIS plan.
Trust. Pray. Believe.
And send care packages.
I mean, HE didn't explicitly say care packages, but I'm sure that's what He meant! *wink*


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.
And in September I had the opportunity to see a movie based on his life. Specifically, based upon an relationship Mr. Rogers had with a journalist who interviewed him for a magazine article.
I was immediately willing to go to the preview, because I loved Mr. Rogers as a kid.
And because I have a general rule that I'll go see almost any movie starring Tom Hanks.
But I did not expect the level of inspiration I felt.
Like, seriously.
I left the movie wanting to be kind to everyone. I walked out with a greater amount of respect for Mr. Rogers than I ever could have understood as a kid - truly impressed by the tenderness of a man who just wanted to make a difference in the lives of people.
Even as I think about it now, I remember one scene when it seemed like Mr. Journalist was just trying to provoke Mr. Rogers to anger. However, Mr. Rogers kept responding graciously - and I'm all, How does he do that???
Indeed, the movie is full of inspiring scenes from beginning to end.
My two favorites of those scenes were the subway, and the bedside of the journalist's dying mother.
I'll not say more than that - but will encourage you to make plans to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood when it opens in theaters on November 22.


Monday, November 11, 2019

God Noticed Me

Last Friday I shared a story at an event called The Notice.
I had mentioned it here last week, and was asked how somebody might see it who doesn't live nearby.
My first thought was to find out if the event was being live-streamed. (It wasn't.)
My second thought was to ask my husband to record me while I spoke. (He did!)
And my third thought was to post it here for anyone who wishes to listen.
By that time, I was whipped. It isn't often that I think three thoughts so rapidly! *wink*
So, in case you're interested, here it is:


Friday, November 08, 2019

It's My Pleasure

"May I have your name for your order?"
It's a request I make of each guest, so we are able to greet them by name when we deliver their meal. And Monday I was able to have some quick-on-my-feet fun with that interaction.
That is, I asked for a man's name and as I was entering it into the order he asked (with a playful tone of voice which said he thought I didn't know how to spell his name), "Uh, how are you going to spell that?"
Without missing a beat I said, "T-H-A-T."
And I gave him a great big smile until he caught on to what I had just said.
Then we shared a laugh while he gave me the correct spelling of his name, and while he congratulated me on my fast thinking.
Ahhhhh, I love my job!!!


Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The Notice

Last year my church began holding Friday evening events wherein people were encouraged to share their God-stories. They were somewhat informal gatherings during which time we got together to be encouraged by hearing the things God had done and was doing.
They're back.
And this coming Friday I am going to share my testimony of when God noticed me through scripture.
I am very much looking forward to telling the story from several years ago when He met me in my pit of despair and gave me hope.
If you're in the neighborhood, I'd love to see you there, too!


Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Silly Puppy!

Josh texted this picture - along with the caption, "She chewed the face off her favorite toy..."

Is it just me, or does Cleo look a little sad? Like she feels pity for the faceless toy?
The situation makes me chuckle just a bit, as I consider the two of them - Josh and Cleo - coming to terms with the consequences of their actions.
That is, I'm sure Cleo was just enjoying chewing, not realizing her favorite toy would soon become filler for the trash can.
And, similarly, Josh has expressed a level of disbelief at how difficult it is to "raise" a puppy. (He was only 10 when we got Mindy. Didn't do much in the training department. It was all fun and games for him!) She has chewed paint off the wall in his kitchen. House-training has been a challenge. He's gotten tired of her biting his hands. Getting her accustomed to her leash caused him some angst. He even said sometimes it's frustrating that she's so stinkin' cute.
Because her cute-ness makes it difficult for him to stay mad.
Ahhhh, but I know she'll grow out of her puppy-ways. The chewing will slow down and one day stop altogether. And when that day comes, she'll stop ruining her toys. I know the frustration Josh feels now will also decrease and eventually go away.
But in the meantime, I am enjoying watching him learn how to handle difficult moments. I delight in seeing him mature as he deals with the challenges life-on-your-own-making-adult-decisions is bringing his way. And it's a bonus to have this adorable silly puppy as one of the objects of his lessons. *smile*


Monday, November 04, 2019

In the Silence

When your throat gets sore, and you lose your voice, well...

Video devotions don't get recorded!

I was incredibly thankful that I made it through chapel at the women's mission Thursday night.
And MOPS Friday morning.
But after that? My voice was GONE!
I worked for seven hours Saturday, indebted to gracious managers and co-workers who made it possible for me to serve "behind the scenes" - so I could almost not talk at all during my entire shift.
And as I type these words Sunday night, I am actually able to speak again.
Enough to have a conversation at the dinner table. (Brian is so glad. Says he has felt like I've been mad at him the past two and a half days. *wink*)
Hopefully enough to effectively communicate enthusiastically at Chick-fil-A Monday.
But not enough to have made a video devotion.

And, that's that.
The reason for my "silence".
Might you take the three or four minutes you would have otherwise spent watching my video, and ask God what HE wants to speak to your heart today?


Friday, November 01, 2019

It's My Pleasure

I love telling stories here about fun interactions I have with guests at Chick-fil-A.

Because I LOVE those moments.

But sometimes our exchanges are not amusing and life-giving.
Sometimes a guest is in a rush. They approach the counter already speaking their order - rapidly. Clearly communicating they don't have time for relationship-building.
On other occasions their non-verbals simply express that they're closed off that day. No interest in connecting. Just take my order and send me on my way, please.
I understand that not every transaction can be fun but, honestly, it can be a challenge for me to not take those moments personally. I so enjoy the delightful interactions that those on the other end of the spectrum can make my spirit sad. I have to talk myself into moving on, without getting stuck in discouragement.
So, Monday I was in the middle of one of those times. That is, a man and his family were standing in front of me. He was doing the talking - not super fast, not totally closed off - but dry, and bordering on unfriendly. And as I was just about ready to accept the situation as "one of those", I noticed part of an H followed by E,A,T, and part of an O on the t-shrit he was wearing beneath his jacket. And something that looked like a college seal. So I asked, "Is that a Wheaton t-shirt?"
He sort of perked up and said, "Uh, yes!"
Then I told him that my daughter graduated from Wheaton and I learned that his family was presently en route to Wheaton - where his son is a student. I told him how much we loved the school, and suddenly I found myself in a delightful conversation with this man who - seconds before - I had nearly excused as someone who didn't want to be engaged.
And I rediscovered the power of making a connection. When we find out we have something in common with another person, we seem to be drawn to finding out more. To strengthen the connection. Even if it's only for a couple of minutes over an order for lunch.
But it can make those couple of minutes delightful.

Makes me wonder what would happen if we looked for connections more often. Particularly in those interactions we have with difficult people!


Thursday, October 31, 2019

When Death Makes You Think

I went to a funeral yesterday.

And I was so inspired!!!

As I listened to stories about a man whose faith was great, and whose love for family and friends was immense I found myself doing some soul-searching. Asking the question, Am I living my life in such a way that these kinds of things will be said of me at my funeral?
Oh, how I want to live a beautiful, faithful, God-honoring life.
How I want every moment to count - to make a difference for eternity.
When I come to the end of my days and I stand before my Lord, I long to hear Him say, Well done, My good and faithful servant.

And I love that in the economy of God death is not the end, and can actually inspire hope in life. Though there is sadness in the passing of this man - a hole left in the hearts of many, at the same time his legacy lives on. And we can be encouraged to emulate his faith and love.
Father, thank You for Jesus. For His atoning death which bought us life. Thank you that the earthly death of Your children is not the end, rather a beginning. And thank You for the example You gave through this saint, of a life well-lived. Please lead me today to walk in faithfulness and love.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

When My Feelings Don't Matter

My plan yesterday was to exercise in the morning.
That is, when I got my work schedule last Friday and saw what my week was going to look like, I said to myself, "Self, you only have two days next week for which working out is going to be feasible. Make the most of those two opportunities."
So I got myself dressed and thought through some exercises.
But when I got downstairs and started doing said exercises? Well, I didn't feel like doing the three sets I had originally planned to complete. The truth is, I didn't even feel like completing the first set!
Actually, the truer truth is, for a moment I contemplated what might be the benefits of stopping an exercise regimine altogether.
But I knew that line of thinking was ridiculous, so I pressed on.
And I got my work-out done.
And when the third set was over I realized how glad I was that I hadn't given in to the feelings I'd had ten seconds into my first move. In fact, as I ponder it now I can say I expereinced a certain delight in pushing my want-to-quit feelings aside and replacing them with going-to-do-it-anyway determination.

Does anybody know what I'm saying???

I mean, I'm all for paying attention to cues our bodies and feelings give us about things we need to do.
Or stop doing.
Or redirect.
Or whatever.
But I am also fully aware that sometimes those cues are not for our good. Sometimes they're just excuses we employ to get us out of undesirable, uncomfortable, or unpleasant circumstances. You know, like exercising. Or changing habits. Or developing new perspectives. Or having hard conversations.
Oh, so many things we could avoid if we only listened to our feelings.
But my small victory in the basement Tuesday morning served to remind me that I don't always need to heed my feelings. And I'm asking God to give me the wisdom, the strength, and the grace to recognize those times when my feelings don't matter.

Who's with me?


Friday, October 25, 2019

It's My Pleasure

He ordered a 12-piece nugget meal and turned to her, "What would you like?"
She seemed confused and said, "I'll have my usual."
"Hmmmm," he mumbled, "I'm not sure what the usual is."
But he made a decision and ordered her lunch while she went to sit with friends.
As I looked at the total for their meals I perked up and said, "Hey! That's the year my dad was born!"
He said, "Me, too!" And with that we engaged in a brief conversation about my dad, wherein I mentioned that my dad has Alzheimer's. "Ahhh, so does my wife," he told me. Honestly, I kind of had a feeling that was the case as I observed her stumbling over what she wanted to eat. I've seen this couple before at Chick-fil-A, and have always had a sense she was struggling.
So as we continued our conversation while I got their drinks ready, I felt a higher level of compassion for this man - and for my mom as I realized I had probably just seen a picture of her future. I also discovered that I had a higher level of admiration for him - sensing the pain in his heart as he witnesses his wife's mind deteriorating, while also seeing a demonstration of his love for her as he does his best to bring her joy and a fulfilling life.
I hope they will continue to frequent our Chick-fil-A, and that I will have many more opportunities to serve them. Not just lunch, but kindness and compassion. I would love to know that in the midst of her confusion and his heartbreak we could be a small oasis of rest and delight. Because, really, that's my pleasure: Being an instrument of His grace to those who need Him.


Thursday, October 24, 2019

Speak, LORD

Oh, how I love, love, LOVE the Word of God!!!

Approximately once a month I teach the lesson for chapel at the Lansing City Rescue Mission women's shelter. And over the past few months I've been doing a series of lessons which I call, Feel-Good Phrases Which You Won't Find in the Bible.
Let's see, we've done "When God Closes a Door, He Opens a Window," "God Wants Me to be Happy," "Follow Your Heart," and next week we're doing "We're All God's Children". In each of these lessons we talk about the feel-good phrase - and the generally well-meaning intent behind each one - and then we look at the scripture which refutes the statement, and scripture which shows the Truth. And as I have been examining the passages we're going to look at next week regarding who is a child of God, what it means to be a child of God, and how one becomes a child of God? Oh! My heart is soaring with joy and thanksgiving for the fact that God sent His Son to save us from our sin!!!
And so I invite you to spend a few minutes letting this Word wash over your soul.
Really. Read it a few times - slowly - and ask God to speak to your heart.

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

~Ephesians 2:1-10


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Bless My Heart

I made a new recipe last night.
It was basically a hunk of meat surrounded by vegetables and covered in a balsamic marinade.
But neither my husband nor my son thought there was anything "basic" about it.
That is, both of them made quite a fuss over how it looked. To the extent that when I was getting ready to transfer it from the pan to the serving dish and bowl, Matthew screamed, "Wait!" asked me to wait.
Then he got out his phone to take a picture and post it on Instagram.

I don't know how many "likes" he's gotten. But at least one of his followers wanted to come for dinner.
***Awwww, shucks!***


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

I Scrubbed the Floor

I scrubbed the floor of the shower this morning before I took my shower. Figure I saved a good five minutes doing it this way. That is, I didn't have to change into grubby clothes first, didn't have to set aside what I was already doing to go take care of a chore, and didn't have to rinse my work space when I was finished. Just spray, scrub, turn on the shower, and hop in.

See, the thing is, I spoke for a group of MOPS moms last week. And as we were sitting around the table talking, the topic of how-can-I-get-things-done/how-can-I-be-satisfied-when-I-don't-get-things-done came up. I listened to these mothers of pre-schoolers bemoaning their never-ending list of chores and duties, and the struggle it is to do everything in the midst of caring for children - and I remembered being in their shoes. Wanting to get it all done, so I might feel like I was "good enough".
As if I had to prove my worth by having clean children and a sparkly house.
Well, see, the other thing is - I think the reason I could understand their struggle (besides remembering young motherhood) is because not a lot has changed.
OK. A lot has changed.
My life is no longer filled with diapers, sticky fingers, temper tantrums, and toys over which to stumble. Today the pressures come in much different shapes and sizes. And from different sources.
But they're still demanding, and they still leave me feeling like I can't do it all.
Ahhhh, but there's where the other change has come.
Today I know I can't do it all.
And by the grace of God, I'm OK with that knowledge.
My Father has convinced me that HIS love, HIS presence, HIS goodness, even HIS delight in me is not dependent on my performance as a keeper-of-my-house. God doesn't mind when my shelves are dusty. HE is comfortable sitting at the table with me even if there is clutter on the counter. And HE doesn't base my worth on the shiny-ness of my floors.
So I won't, either.

Oftentimes while I'm showering I think, Argh! I need to scrub these walls and floor. But I have A, B, and C to do when I'm finished getting dressed today. And then D, E, and F this afternoon. When am I ever going to get to cleaning the shower?
But today I took a couple of minutes before I got into the shower and I scrubbed the floor.
Maybe I'll quickly do one of the walls before my shower tomorrow.
And another one the next day.
For now, though, I am going to be satisfied with what's done.
And I am going to rest in the knowledge that God loves me. (No matter what my house looks like.)

If you relate to this struggle, may I invite you to join me in getting parts of work done in the pieces of time you can do them, and giving yourself a pat on the back for a-little-bit-of-a-job-well-done?


Monday, October 21, 2019