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