Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Candy Cane Story

A friend of mine requested that I share this beautiful story for Christmas, so here it is.  The author is unknown from the piece that I have, so if someone knows the author, please share!!!  I pray you will be blessed by this story, hold it close to your heart and share it with others - the message is profound!!!

"A candy maker wanted to make a candy that would be a witness for his Savior, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane.  He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.  He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy.  The white symbolized the Virgin Birth (Isaiah 7:14 and Luke 1:26-35) and the sinless nature of Jesus (I John 3:5).  The hardness of the candy symbolized the Solid Rock (I Corinthians 10:4) the foundation of the Church (Matthew 16:18), and the firmness of the promises of God (Psalm 18:30-32).  The candy maker made the candy into the form of a "J" to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior (John 3:16-17), and a symbol to represent the staff of the Good Shepherd (John 10:14).  Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candy maker decided to stain it with three small red stripes, representing the stripes of the scourging Jesus received prior to His crucifixion (Mark 15:15-20) for our healing (Isaiah 53:5).  the large red stripe represents the shedding of His blood on the cross for our salvation (Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7)."

One Star, one Child, one Holy Night........the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  Allow Him to come into your heart tonight.  He came to save us all, not some, not part, not most, but all.  Blessings to you this Glorious Christmas night!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

So much to ponder for Christmas....

As Christmas approaches this year, I find myself pondering many things, reflecting on the happenings of 2015 and come once again to a point of gratitude.  There is a song in one of my piano Christmas album/music books by Josh Groben called "Thankful."  The words and music are written by Carole Bayer Sager, Daivd Foster and Richard Page.

There is a YouTube version of this beautiful song, if you would like to listen to it.
 And, here are the lyrics for you:

Some days we forget to look around us;
Some days we can't see the joy that surrounds us.
So caught up inside ourselves,
We take when we should give.

So for tonight, we pray for what we know can be,
And on this day we hope for what we still can't see.
It's up to us to be the change,
And even though we all can still do more,
There's so much to be thankful for.

Look beyond ourselves;
There's so much sorrow,
It's way too late to say,
"I'll cry tomorrow."
Each of us must find our truth,
So long overdue.

So for tonight, we pray for what we know can be,
And on this day we hope for what we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change,
And even though we all can still do more,
There's so much to be thankful for.

Even with our differences,
There is a place we're all connected;
Each of us can find each other's light.

So for tonight, we pray for what we know can be.
And on this day, we hope for what we still can't see.
It's up to us to be the change,
And even though this world needs so much more,
There's so much to be thankful for.

As you listen to or sing the Christmas Carols that are so familiar think about the words - what do they really mean?
Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men:  Am I bringing peace to someone who may need it?
Angels We Have Heard on High:  Are you listening and watching for the Angelic Chorus that surrounds us?
Joy to the World:  Do you what joy they are singing about?
What Child is This?  Do you know who this child is?  Have you asked Him into your heart?
Silent Night:  Can you feel the awe and reverence that is meant to fill our hearts?

How can you  make a difference in some else's life?  How can you lighten someone's load?  What can
do that will truly impact another human being's life?  Heart?  Soul?
We are not meant to be isolated, self-centered and self-absorbed.  We are meant to carry a message of love and joy and peace to others......what will you do to make a difference this season?

In these next few days before Christmas, take time to do what truly matters.

Pause in the middle of the hustle and bustle and just be still for a moment....

Be grateful for all that you have.....

Spread love, joy and peace to all whom you come in contact with - the warmth that fills your heart is only a tiny portion of what love can do for someone else who may be hurting this season.

Remember the reason for the season:
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
The King of King - salvation brings.
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Christ came to save us from our sins.
Christ came to bring us JOY.  

So for tonight,
May your heart be filled to overflowing with that JOY and
Spread that JOY wherever you go!!!

Merry, Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thanksgiving to God – I wrote this devotion last year and in 2013 and it still holds true….Please read these reflections on why we all have so many reasons to be thankful and sing your own song of Praise to the God of Creation for all He has given us!!!

Praise God from Whom ALL Blessings Flow! Praise Him all creatures here below!! Praise
Him above ye Heavenly Hosts! Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!!! AMEN!!!

Find your favorite song of Praise and Thanksgiving and SING it!!! Sing it in the shower, sing it as you are cooking, sing it as you are cleaning for all the guests, sing it as you prepare your heart for ALL God has to offer you this holiday!!!

Remember these Songs and Old Hymns???
Give Thanks
Come Ye Thankful People Come
We Gather Together

The Lyrics to the first of these songs are as follows:
"Give thanks with a grateful heart, Give thanks unto the Holy One, Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son. (Repeat the refrain)
And now, let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich because of what The Lord has done for us. Give thanks....give thanks....give thanks!!!" act of giving thanks or expressing gratitude especially to God - wow!
The United States of America celebrates and gives thanks to God for this special day this week on Thursday – it is a U.S. national holiday set apart to give God thanks!!!
YES, let's do that!!!

As I opened my Bible this morning that my beloved grandfather, "Gramps" gave me in 1962, I was blessed to find this verse and thoughts:
Psalm 138:1
"I will give thanks to you, O Lord with all my heart..." The latin word for gratitude is gratis or grace.

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving holiday??? What grace has been extended to you this day, this month, this year? Have you stopped to take note of the many blessings that are in your life? If not, why not do that today or this weekend!!!

We have so much to be grateful for in the United is truly incredible!!! I know my gratitude list swells each day as I stop, breath and think about all that God has blessed me with - a wonderful family in Ohio, Virginia, California, Tennessee and Texas, a son that brings me more joy than I thought imaginable almost 20 years ago, a job that allows me to serve our elderly with honor and praise, a church that feeds my heart and soul each week, prayer warriors that support and encourage me by praying for me and those people and situations that God places in my life and in our church family, incredible friends that fill my life with laughter and fun, and finally God has sustained and blessed our country from many disasters...........ahhhh..........our God is SO good!!!

I read years ago: "When we express gratitude something wondrous fills us! Gratitude nourishes our souls immediately and the wonder of the moment swells in our hearts." Simple gratitude brings simple happiness...simple gratitude shows us what is utterly amazing in our lives. We have been so blessed, so fortunate, so favored, so richly given abundance....and it is all by the Grace of God alone.
So, let's celebrate! Let's appreciate and acknowledge what we have been given even on the tiniest level......offer a sacrifice of praise to our Heavenly Father this Thanksgiving and KNOW how much you are loved!!!

Finally here is a fun way to say: "Many thanks" in many languages:
English: Many thanks!
French: Merci!
German: Danke Schoen!
Italian: Gramercy!
Spanish: Muchas Gracias!
Archaic: Much obliged!

And, one of the many things I am grateful for are all of you who read this blog….Thank YOU for reading these ramblings and encouraging me to continue to write this blog!!!

Blessings Abound!!!!!!!!
Look up….look around……and look for JOY!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family – Gobble, Gobble!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Grateful Nation has not forgotten....

Today is Veterans Day here in the United States of America.  It is a day of remembering.  A day of celebrating the greatest generation of our time.  Today we honor Veterans of World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War as well as current or modern day Veterans such as Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans.  And, there are many unknown/unnamed wars that take place that are fought by our braves service men and women across the globe.

Today was a special day for me.  I am lucky enough to have my very own personal hero, my brother, Scott.  He has fought in places that I cannot imagine going, but am grateful that he and all of his comrades were brave enough to stand in the gap for me and my family.  And, for every American.  I am awed by his courage and his stamina and at times wonder how he has stood the test of time in battle.

Also, I have a cousin named Steve in Ohio who served in the Vietnam War.  It was a tough war and those Vets came home to a very ungrateful nation.  We did not say thank you at the time, but we do say thank you now.  And, I am proud to say he is my cousin and continue to tell him how thankful I am that he fought for me.  That he fought for our family.  That he fought for our country.  And, I am truly grateful.
Today, I had the privilege of honoring many older Veterans today at several nursing homes and Assisted Living communities for my new job in Hospice.  We gave presentations to honor each one of those heroes that have gone before us and those who still stand with us in the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and even as old as 100 years.  As I looked around the room at our older Veterans, I had to stop and pause to realize what a privilege it was to be in the room with these men and women.  They each stood tall and proud and were glad that they served our country.  They fought for our freedom.  They fought for you and me.  Wow....It was quite a day!!!

Our Chaplain and Hospice team read several meaningful articles and poems about Veterans and the history of Veterans Day was explained quite well in this piece called:  Veterans Day by Marion F. Sturkey.  It is an excerpt from Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines, copyright 2001.

"After four years of carnage in Europe when the giant cannon finally fell silent.  At 11:00 a.m. on 11 November 1918 (which is the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month) the Allies and Germany signed an armistice.  The Great War, The World War, The War to End War mercifully ended.  The whole world rejoiced.  Thereafter, the eleventh day of November became Armistice Day in most of the western world.  In Canada, it became known as Remembrance Day.

In the United States, Congress officially recognized Armistice Day in 1926.  Twelve years later, it became a national holiday.  Unfortunately, three decades and two wars later America realized that world order had been equally preserved by veterans of World War II and the Korean War.  So, in 1954 Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. President, signed an act which changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

In 1968 (the flower-power generation was hard at work again) Congress changed the day of observance to the fourth Monday in October.  Veterans Day had temporarily become just another long three-day weekend.  The reason for the holiday had been forgotten by many.  Fortunately, the public outcry rose steadily over the next ten years.  Finally bowing to public pressure, Congress reversed itself in 1978.  The eleventh day of November again became the day on which Americans observe Veterans Day.

By law, Veterans Day is set aside to honor our nation's military veterans both living and dead, who serve in time of war.  The focal point for national observance is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.  At 11:00 a.m. on 11 November, a color guard that includes all military services executes "Present Arms."  The President of the United  States lays a wreath upon the tomb, steps back, and salutes.  A bugler plays Taps.  A grateful nation has not forgotten."

I pray that each of us will not forget.  I pray that we will remember and honor those who have gone before us and those who are still with us each day.  Freedom is not free.  Let us truly be a nation that will not forget those sacrifices.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Touching the Hand of God....

For my job, I have had the privilege of going to several nursing homes in my new territory and offering hand massages as a group activity for residents.  My purpose in hosting these activities is to get to know the facility, the nursing staff, the residents and to create awareness of our company's products and services for Hospice.  And, while many people cringe at the word 'hospice" because it causes one to think of death, it is more than that.  Hospice was created to help the individual and their families to help manage painful symptoms, help to regulate necessary medicines, allow the person and their family to get used to the idea that they may be in the last six months of their life and so on.  Hospice also offers support for the resident and their family.  Plus, if hospice is done properly, it can provide a new way to look at the transition from this life to the next.

As I have gotten to know some of these amazing people, I have found that there are hundreds and thousands of life stories that need to be told.  What has been amazing is that each opportunity that I have had the privilege of holding onto one of these "seasoned" person's hands, I have marveled at what those hands have done for 60-70-80 or 90, cleaning, farming, bookkeeping, hard working mechanics, taking care of children, chopping vegetables or wood, and hobbies galore!

So, while massaging their hands with fragrant (or unscented) lotion, we talk about their lives:  Flight surgeons, factory workers, farmers, moms/dads, brothers/sisters, years developing a business, and years raising children to teach them about life on a daily basis and the like.  I ask them questions about what they have done, how many kids they had (or have) and what their family life was like, etc.  In some ways, I wish I could record what they tell me so that we can have the family members hear what they are sharing with me as they tell their stories.

In any case, I am finding that it is quite an honor and a privilege to be part of this season of life for these residents.  And as you can imagine, some of them are quite alert and only needing a little bit of help here and there while others are totally dependent on the staff and/or their family when they visit.  As I spend a few precious moments rubbing and massaging their hands, and offering them a little relaxation,
I notice some of the hands are frail, small and fragile.  Other hands are rough, large and/or strong.  It is mind boggling to think about all that those hands have done over a lifetime.  And, there are moments when I feel that it is as if I have been touching the Hands of God.  What an awesome privilege!!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Withholding forgiveness...

Have you ever thought of what it means to withhold something?  It means to hold back or restrain from, or to not grant something to another person.

Here are a few examples:
As a parent, you may have come across a time or situation that to grant your child's request may put them in danger.  Or, perhaps to grant the wish, you take the chance of your son or daughter not learning a very important lesson.

Second, consider a work-related example.  An employee of yours requests time off when they have not accrued enough time to take a 2 week vacation yet.  Do you grant their request or deny it?  What are the circumstances surrounding the request?  Will it affect your business in a negative way?  Can you spare the "help" at this time?  Is it for a family emergency or for a vacation that was planned long before they took the job at your business?  Regardless, there are many factors that may have to enter into the decision to grant the request or not to grant it.

Now let's consider relationships.  Someone you love.  Someone who means a lot to you.  A dear friend, a spouse, a sister/brother, or a significant "other" that has been in your life for quite some time.  You have a disagreement, an argument, or a rift of some sort.  Heated words are exchanged or painful accusations are brought up.  Unwanted reactions happen all too quickly and you part ways in haste or in anger.  What happens next?  Who said what to whom?  Who should apologize - you or the other person???  How do you resolve the conflict?

Some people would say the person who offended the other person should apologize first.  Well, who decides who is offended most?  Can each party let the anger dissipate and come to the table to discuss the disagreement after the dust has settled?  Well, it depends.  Many factors can cause disagreements and many factors can cause a relationship end or to be altered.  Sometimes the outcome is positive and other times it is not.  It may depend on the maturity of the persons involved or the length of the relationship.  It may depend on the severity of the offense.

Let's add one more piece to the puzzle.  Forgiveness.  When does someone offer forgiveness or withhold it?

Can you let the sun go down on your anger or do you try to resolve the issue before it goes beyond the point of no return?  Can you offer to take the high road and offer forgiveness first?  Or, does your pride get in the way and you stop short because you have been hurt too much.  Forgiveness is an important factor in all relationships.  And, it takes a willingness to offer and/or receive forgiveness.  Especially when the hurt run deep!

Now, let me ask you this:  Have you ever withheld forgiveness to someone because you were hurt or angry?  Was the situation so dire that you just could not bring yourself to let something go or could not or would not accept another person's apology?  It is a hefty question.  And, what if the person who offended you or said those horrible words to you, reacted negatively, or behaved badly wrote you a note of apology or called to say they were sorry?  Could you speak to them again?  Would you consider bridging the gap?

The Scriptures say that if you have an offense with anyone, go and resolve that issue before coming to the communion table.
Matthew 5:23 says:  "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother (sister/friend/husband/wife) has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

First, GO and be reconciled.  Yes, that mean YOU!  Take the first step.  Offer to resolve the conflict.  Say you are sorry.  Give them a chance to say they are sorry as well.  Let them know that you want to resolve the issue and find some common ground - even if you have to agree to disagree.  Even if you choose to not restore the relationship, mend the fence.  Do not let the sun go down on your anger.  Don't let pride get the best of you and hold onto a grudge for days, weeks or even years.  It truly only hurts you, not necessarily the other person.

Pray about it.  Choose to forgive.  Then, allow the process of the offense being forgiven to begin.
Let the other person know you forgive them!  Don't withhold it.  Don't torture them for months by not talking to them.  Let them know you have asked God for forgiveness for your part in the disagreement and you choose to forgive them and forgive yourself as well.  Forgiving someone and NOT letting them know is just as bad as not forgiving them and holding a grudge.  It simply is not what the Lord wants us to do.

Think about it from the standpoint of why Christ offered His life for us.  He came to save us from all the things we have done wrong.  Not just some things, not part, not most, but all.  Forgiveness is the pinnacle of Christianity.  He came to forgive us, to save us, to redeem us.  He asks us to do the same.  That is why He came to earth.  Why He was crucified.  Why He was buried.  Why He is resurrected and sits at the right hand of the Father!!!  Forgiveness.  Offered once and for all for every one of us.

Christ never withholds forgiveness if we ask Him to forgive us.  Never.  He doesn't wait 5 minutes or 5 months to let us know we are forgiven either.  His forgiveness is instant!  Complete! Assured. If we ask.
I John 1:9 says:  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Tenth Avenue North  has a song called "Losing."  Here is the bridge where one of the best messages of forgiveness is explained:

"Why do we think that hate's gonna change their heart
We're up in arms over wars that don't need to be fought
Pride won't let us lay weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up just to burn them down
We think pain's owed apologies and that it'll stop
Truth be told it doesn't matter if they're sorry or not
Freedom comes when we surrender to the sound
of Mercy and Your Grace, Father, send your angels down."

A friend of mine once told me that forgiveness is something for each of us to give whether or not the person that it is offered to accepts it.  Sometimes it is very difficult to offer forgiveness.  But, go ahead.  Go the extra mile and offer forgiveness first.  Don't withhold it.  Don't wait to let the person know you want forgive them either.  Choose to surrender your right to be right.  Choose to forgive.  It goes a long, long way to healing your own soul.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Trials, tribulations and tests in this life....

Trials, tribulations and tests in this life - How do you respond when you are being tested or going through a trial?  Do you rebel?  Resist?  Become obstinate and/or stubborn?  Do you withdraw or isolate yourself and try to "fix it" yourself?  Or, do you have the grace to allow yourself to learn from the trial, the suffering, or the test?

What does "going through a trial" really mean?  Yes, in a court of law it means attending the court dates to resolve an issue or lawsuit.  But what about the type of trial we endure on a personal basis?  Can being subjected to a hardship or going through a lengthy period of suffering be considered a "trial" in today's world?  By the dictionary definition, a trial can be a process, a hardship, suffering, an annoyance, or a time of testing.  Sometimes, that testing seems to linger or remain in our lives for a extended period of time - usually longer than we would choose to have if it was up to us to decide the length of time!  And, these times are usually not our favorite times or seasons in our lives.

Many times, how we react is usually based on years of experience in a certain family style or environment as we grow and learn from those around us.  The older I get, the more I realize I have a choice of how I react or respond in a given situation.  We can all learn how to "respond" rather than "react" if we choose to do so.  I grew up in a very emotionally charged home - good and bad emotions flowed freely!  We loved each other deeply, laughed, giggled, enjoyed wonderful family times yet fought like cats and dogs some days - we grew up showing our emotions and that was normal in our family.  Other families rarely show emotions or do not show emotions at all.  Mixing two families that are polar-opposite can be a real "test" in a marriage or a relationship.  Take a peek at your own personal or family history and compare it with another person you love or are acquainted with - is there a difference in how you respond or react to other people you know?  If so, how?  Notice those differences and ask yourself this question:

What if we used this knowledge to learn more about ourselves?  And, what if we applied that knowledge to those times of "testing" in our lives - would we choose differently based on new information?  Could we choose differently?  Absolutely!!!  Choosing to respond in love and/or kindness instead of reacting with anger/hurt is always a choice we can make!  Going through a trial or period of testing can also allow us to change how we respond versus react.  We can learn to intentionally respond in a positive fashion.  We can choose to learn from our mistakes.  We can benefit from some of the most tragic experiences.  If we choose to do so....

Believe it or not, there is an advantage to going through a painful process.  God can use challenges, tragedies, diseases and many other difficulties to strengthen and purify us.  Have you ever looked back on a difficult time in your life and said:  "It was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish."  Or, "I learned so much through that trial."  Many gifts can come from what we think are disasters or tragedies in our lives:  strength, endurance, patience,  awareness, deeper faith, wisdom, knowledge, and/or stronger convictions.  Some of the most painful times or situations we endure, can help us become a better person.  Or perhaps, the lesson presents itself so that we become aware of something we need to change.  We may very well be called to learn something new from an extremely difficult challenge.  We can grow and change in ways we never dreamed possible if we can open ourselves up to the lesson(s) that God is trying to teach us or how He is trying to get our attention.

This life offers challenges that are beyond comprehension sometimes.  Why not look up and see what God is trying to teach you through it all?

James 1:2 says:  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Pure joy in trials?  Are you crazy?  I used to think so.  Now, I realize how much God has changed my  mind, my life, and my heart through some of the worst times in my life.  It was for my benefit that He used various times of testing to purify me, change me, mold me and make me truly His.  And, for that, I am truly grateful.  How about you???

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Peace of Reconcilliation

Living Faith is one of my favorite devotional books that I read each day and the message from August 12th is amazing!!!  Read on and see what I mean:

Matthew 18:15
"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone."

"Often when someone hurts us, we react in the moment with indignation and pride.  It can happen so quickly, we don't consider whether we have been complicit in the conflict.

Christ is the King of Peace.  Peace is not winning an argument.  It's not inducing shame or ganging up on people who have strayed to make them feel stupid.  Peace is humility, gentleness and a disposition of mercy towards those who have lost their way.

In the rare case that someone has sinned against us without provocation, we need to acknowledge that we have human dignity, that there are certain behaviors that are unacceptable and should not be inflicted on any child of God, including ourselves.

When we confront the person, it is not to re-create them in our own image or to demand their perfect contrition, but to offer an opportunity for reconciliation, just as the King of Peace has reconciled us to him, in spite of our unworthiness."  (Written by Elizabeth Duffy)

Think about someone or something that has hurt you deeply recently....was indignation your first reaction or did pride step in and take over???  Were you even able to stop and look at the situation from a different perspective?  Namely, the other person's perspective???  And, did you realize you had a part in the chasm as well?  That's right!  It takes two to tango.  Consciously or unconsciously we all contribute to a situation which goes the opposite of what we are expecting or wanting to happen.  And, many time we are not communicating in a way that the other person realizes we are hurt or that we hurt someone else.  It is amazing to me how often this happens between us humans!!!

As believers in Christ, we are called to be Ambassadors for Christ and offer forgiveness not just once, but seventy by seven times.  That's right 490 times to one person even if they do the same offense over and over and over again....seventy by seven times!!!  That is a lot of forgiveness that needs to go around this world.  It sounds extremely difficult and very large-hearted, doesn't it???  It sounds impossible to many as well....But, when Jesus' answer in Matthew 18:21 to the question:  "How often must I forgive him?  As many as seven times?"  Jesus' answer was clear - YES, and then some!!!  At the heart of his reply is an understanding that there is NO end to God's forgiveness.  None!  There is no counting, no calculating, no limits, no score-keeping of our faults or wrongdoings.  None.  We are to forgive others no matter what - no matter what the offense.  Our court system would certainly be a little less harried, wouldn't you say???  Can you imagine if we who call ourselves Christians would actually follow through and do what we are asked to do:  Forgive others as we have been forgiven.  God in His mercy permanently puts away the calculator and the scoreboard - can we???

Forgiveness and!  What an awesome gift to offer the next time you get hurt or accidentally hurt someone else.  When was the last time you forgave a hurt that broke your heart?  Or, are you still nursing that grudge, resentment, anger and/or bitterness.  Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves.  And, it is the best one we can offer!!!  Peace be with you......

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Not So Invisible Moms....

Not so invisible….

I’m the Invisible Mom

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I’m thinking, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?”  Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.  I’m invisible.  The Invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more;

Can you fix this?  Can you tie this?  Can you open this?


Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being.  I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?”  I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?”  I’m a car to order, “Right around 5:30, please.”


I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.  She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!


One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England.  Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.  I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.  It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress;  it was the only thing I could find that was clean.  My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it.  I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I bought you this.”  It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.  I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription:  “To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”


In the days again I would read – no, devour – the book.  And, I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names.  These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.  They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.


The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, but he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam.  He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into the beam that will be covered by the roof?  No one will ever see it.”  And, the workman replied, “Because God sees.”


I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you, Charlotte.  I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.  No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over.  You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.”


At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction.  But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.  It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness.  It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.  I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder.  As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.  The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime, because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.


When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My mom gets up at 4 a.m. in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.”  That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself.


I just want him to want to come home.  And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, “You’re gonna love it there.”


As mothers, we are building great cathedrals.  We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right.  And, one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.



Share this will all the Invisible Moms you know….I just did!

(Author Invisible)


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lessons from a Butterfly....

Have you ever watched a butterfly for more than a minute?  They are beautiful creatures which come in all sizes and shapes and colors!  When my son was little, we read a book on butterflies over and over and over again.  It was the Alphabet of Butterflies and here are some of the names:
Apollo, Baltimore, Cracker, Dogface, Easter Comma, Falcate Orangetip, Great Purple Hairstreak, Gulf Fritillary, Harvester, Indian Leaf, Jezabel, Kamehameha, Lady Slipper, Magdalena Alphine, Narcissus Jewel, Owl Butterfly, Painted Lady, Queen Alexandria Birdwing, Regal Fritillary, Snout, Transparent, Urania Moth, Ulysses, Violet Copper, Western Pygmy Blue, Xami Hairstreak, Yellow Angled Sulphur, and Zephry Metalmark Butterfly.  Look one of them up and see the beauty and magnificence of these tiny creatures who wing their way between butterfly bushes, spirea bushes and the flowers in your garden - they are gorgeous!!!

The life cycle of every butterfly begins with an egg being laid on the surface of a plant.  Almost all female butterflies lay their eggs on certain preferred plants such as a passionflower vine.  Then, the caterpillar hatches from the egg and begins eating the leaf on which it was born.  After growing and shedding its skin several times, the caterpillar pupates into a chrysalis.  Before long, the adult butterfly emerges from the chrysalis to start the cycle all over again.....

Imagine being a butterfly for a moment.  The beginning of life is almost unnoticeable, fragile.  Then, you become a hairy little creature that crawls very slowly on the leaf and/or vine you were born.  Changing and shedding layers numerous times until it becomes a chrysalis.  Imagine living in a cocoon for most of your life!  Growing, changing and waiting to be released from the chrysalis to fly for the very first time. emerge into a world that is unknown to you and you soar on wings that take you here and there, to and frow!!! 

What a beautiful way to think about life:  our start in life is so fragile.  Our growth and maturation process seems interminable at times as we wait until that day when we can fly on our own.  Out of the cocoon woven just for us and onto a vast unknown, we fly into a world where we can choose to stop and pause on this flower or that, this bush or that, all the while being admired by the on-lookers who observe our journey! 

Pause and think about your life's journey....your flight from childhood to being a teenager to becoming an adult and growing into old age.  What has been the best part?  What are your favorite "flowers" that you have landed on?  Which part of the journey has caused you the most growth and change?  Were you able to embrace the beauty along the way?  Did you realize that your journey was being observed by outsiders?  Did you realize the beauty within you has possibly sustained others on their way?

Many times we focus only on the hard parts of this life, the tough situations, the rough spots along the way.  Try for just one day to focus on the beauty of your life!  What has been beautiful to experience?  What has been beautiful to be a part of?  What has been beautiful to pass on to others?
Imagine yourself in that chrysalis once again and starting over...What parts would you keep?  What parts would you change?  And, finally what parts are you most grateful for experiencing in this life?

Become that butterfly of your choosing in your mind....choose the color you would like to be...choose the flight you would like to go on....choose the lives that you would effect in a positive, beautiful way. Then, give thanks for the color you are, the journey you have taken and all that has been a part of you taking flight in this world!!!  Soar on............

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Today I learned a new meaning of being devoted!  Yes, the main definition is well known:
To devote oneself to something or someone, you basically have to set them apart or give them to some specific purpose or activity in your life.  To be devoted means  to be very loving, loyal and/or faithful to the person, place or thing.  To be a devotee is to be strongly devoted to that entity.  Also, to be so dedicated to one purpose is to have a zeal for that purpose that goes beyond any normal limits.  So, to be dedicated to one person means that you devote yourself to them, and you actually address yourself, apply yourself and/or buckle down to be loyal to that one person.

And, the new definition I learned from my pastor this morning comes from the Greek meaning of the word devoted:  Strong, Earnest and Steadfast.  Have you ever heard that God's love for us is that type of devotion???  His Word is strong.  It is earnest.  It is steadfast.  And, that strength, earnestness and steadfastness is His devotion for YOUR benefit and mine!!!  God states that intent many times in His Word, The Bible.  Over and over, God lays out in scripture His devotion for us.....WOW!  Have you ever really let that sink in???  That is truly amazing in my mind!!!  We have the God of the Universe who has OUR best interest at heart and tells us so....every day, if we will read and just pay attention.

Are you devoted to someone or something in this life?  Do you have that "nth" degree of strength, earnest desire or steadfast spirit that treats another human being with such devotion???  Have you ever felt it from our Father in Heaven?  Have you ever studied His word to find this treasure for yourself?  It is there for the asking.  There for the seeking.  There for the taking.  All we have to do is read His Word.

Since I have joined Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee, KS, my faith has grown exponentially in the past four years!!!  Each year, our head Pastor, Brad challenges the congregation to read the Bible through in one year.  At first, I thought I might try it!  I read the Bible every day anyway, but never have read it cover to cover.  My beloved grandfather, "Gramps" read it through many times! 
I don't even know how many times he read it in his lifetime.  I am sorry to say that I still have never done it.  Sure, I tried it the first and second year I was at Crossroads, but I let my travel schedule and other devotions take the place of reading the best book in the world !!!  So, I am beginning again this summer.

We have a blueprint for every ailment known to man in the Bible!  Every one.  Not just some.  Not just part.  Not just most.  ALL!  We can improve our parenting, our relationships, our finances, our perspective on life and come to know the purpose for which we were born in this book!  We can find a solid foundation for which we can lay our faith, we can learn to forgive and avoid temptation and we can learn to discern what God is trying to teach us IF we just sit down and read His Word.  Wow!!!  Amazing.............

Our faith will grow, our lives will change, our hearts will soften, our mistakes will lessen and we can learn to be more effective in the world, if we will just take the time to listen to what God is trying to tell us.

Some people say the Bible is old, outdated, or just plain "stories" made up for some weird religious purpose or maybe to brainwash us into believing old fashioned rules and regulations.  Some people say you cannot believe what you read it the pages of these sacred scriptures.  For example, do you really believe Jonah was in the belly of a fish for 3 days???  Well, I used to wonder how in the world that could be true, but now after studying the pages of the Bible and taking several Bible Studies through our Small Group ministries, absolutely, I believe it!  Think about the possibility during the latest Tsunami in Japan....could a survivor have made it because he was swallowed by a very large fish?  It is definitely possible in today's day and age with all the weird environmental issues we have on the globe!   

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:
"All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

If you haven't taken the time to test the waters, try it!  Open your Bible and read it! 
Each time we as believers read God's Holy Word, the Holy Spirit will show us what a specific chapter or passage means, if we ASK.  Each time I read one of my favorite scriptures, I find peace and reassurance that His Word stands firm.  His Word is Holy.  His Word is Sacred.  And, it is REAL.  Yes, the Bible was written by humans and has been translated into a million different translations and languages across the globe, but God used specific people that HE chose to write these scriptures.  Each time a new translation is brought out or published, it is poured over to make sure each word, each phrase, each sentence is correct.  Checks and balances happen in the publishing world, too.  The people who do this job take it very, very seriously because it is God's Holy Word to us.  It is not to be taken lightly.  It is not to be tossed aside.  It is to equip us for each day for each relationship, each challenge,  each set back, and even each miracle.  Yes, I said miracles.  They happen every day if we will just open our eyes to the wonder of it all. 

God loves us with a love that is beyond description. And, actually, God doesn't just love us.  He adores us!!!  That's why He has given us this treasure, this gift, this incredible, infallible Word from Heaven above.  It is just as relevant today in 2015 as it was over 2000 years ago.  Read it.  You will be amazed!!!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Awe and Wonder...

Have you ever had one of those moments where you were in complete awe and wonder of something?  I have and it is one of those moments where you have to stop, pause and look up at the vast sky or the stars, and say "Thank you" to the One who created it all!!!

Awe is a mixture of reverence, fear and wonder.....then, you add awesome.  Awesome is something that inspires awe and creates wonderful or impressive feelings.  What are you in awe of today?  What has been awesome in your life lately???

Have you been stopped in your footsteps at a such a beautiful sight in nature that you just stop and stare???  Have you ever stood atop of a mountain, or seen a stream that invites you to sit a while and ponder life?  What about observing a family of geese quietly swimming across a pond, or have you experienced a sunset or sunrise that made you just think:  "Wow!"  How about a thunderstorm or a streak of lightening that lit up the sky and you wondered if the thunderstorm was talking to the lightening???  And, what about the clouds rolling by as you lay on a blanket looking up at the sky and watch as the clouds gently flow with the summer air?  If you haven't done that since you were a kid, go try it.  It truly inspires awe!!!

What creates that feeling of awe and reverence for you?  Let me tell you from personal experience, it is worth trying to acknowledge these "ordinary" things that create an extraordinary feeling of awe and wonder.  Sights we miss, sights we pass by and don't even give a second thought.  We take for granted the mystery of life.  We ignore the sunlit glades and ways among the loveliest flowers as we walk our dog because we are so busy talking on the phone instead of watching nature, or paying attention to those we love.  We miss seeing our kids take their first step or their first cartwheel because we are so immersed in our work, or our chores, or our "duties."  We miss out on so much in our busy world because we hurry along life's path.  We get distracted by things that really don't matter.  This week, try to stop the next time you see something that inspires you and consider holding onto that feeling for the rest of the day!  Write it down.  Send a picture to a friend on that crazy smart phone of yours.  Then, savor it for a week, or a month!!!  You will be glad you did.......

Next is wonder....Wonder is an event which causes astonishment and admiration.  To be filled with wonder or marvel at something that happens in your life unexpectedly in a good, positive and/or wonderful way is amazing to experience!!!

Have you ever had a random act of kindness in your life that caught you by surprise?  Something that inspired an enormous heart full of joy for you?  I have had several in my lifetime and just
recently have been a recipient of three such acts.  A dear friend of mine and her hubby called last weekend to see how I was doing and what I needed as I have been laid off work for a couple of months.  Just to have them stop over and say hello, and ask what they could do for me was more than I expected.  What a sweet friendship we share and have for many years.  Then, after they had gone home, I went upstairs to use my restroom and low and behold, they had left a gift of money for me.  Wow.........amazing!  Awe.........wonder......gratitude filled my heart!!!  Tears ran down my face.  I called to say thank you and could hardly speak.  My emotions were overflowing at such a gift of kindness...such a gift of thoughtfulness. 

A second act of kindness that I experienced recently is that a friend of mine offered to loan me and my son the money to put a down payment on a used car for Matt whose vehicles are out of commission and have gone to motorcycle and automobile heaven.  Dead.  Done.  Gone.
No transportation for the time being for a 19 year old son is incomprehensible.  Consequences of his choices no less, but nonetheless, devastating to him.  So, what did my friend offer?  A way out - a chance to start afresh!  Wow....amazing!!  Awe and wonder again.........gratitude overflowing.  Astonishment. Why would someone do that?  Pure kindness.  Pure generosity.  Incredible friendship.

Then, a third act of kindness which happened a couple of months ago,  my computer died and went to computer heaven.  Dead.   Done.  Gone.  Looking for a job and not having a computer in the year 2015 doesn't work very well.  Going to the library to send out resumes and cover letters is a bit inconvenient.  Doable, but definitely not the best way to function.  Another friend, completely separate from the other two noted above, calls and comes by with a refurbished computer for me.  Advance birthday and Christmas gift she says.........Wow....amazing!!!  Awe and wonder filled my heart back then and still does each time I sit down to open my email, apply for a job, blog about incredible friends and/or correspond with anyone.  Friends.  Gifts.  Amazing.  Incredible.  Awe.  Wonder.

My response?  Gratitude.  Humility.  Astonishment.  And, admiration for those who care about me enough to meet my needs and offer a helping hand.  Future response?  Pay it Forward.  Just like the movie.  When someone offers me a helping hand, I want to do the same for someone else.  Every time I can.  Every chance I get. 

I will be forever grateful that the God of the Universe who has blessed me with such incredible people in my life and has answered many, many prayers through people who care enough to show it.  People just like you and me.

Do I have awe and wonder in my heart???  Absolutely.  Every day!!!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Brave, Courage, Courageous....

This month of May was supposed to be my month of "rest."  Well, needless to say, it has not been very restful.  Many sleepless nights, many worries, many concerns, many issues, but through it all, God has been holding me with His Incredible Hands and lifting me to a place higher than I thought possible.  As I have been contemplating my journey, I have found that I have had to muster up more courage than I ever have before in my life.  You know how that goes, one major life event would have been enough, but three major life events all at once?  Whew!!!  I am not sure how people without God in their life make it through the rough times.....I know that I am so very grateful for a God who holds me firmly in His Hands and prepares me for a new journey ahead!!!

This is not a pity party.  This about learning to be powerful - through God's strength and His alone.
Philippians4:13 says:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Wow!  How else could I possibly be at peace while losing my job, almost losing my son in a motorcycle accident, and losing what I thought was the love of my life.  Yet, as I look back over the events of this past month, I find myself stronger each day.  Are some days incredibly tough?  Absolutely!!!  Tears have rolled down my face on more than one occasion and multiple times per day.  Yet, difficult times tend to bring out our strengths as well as our weaknesses.  Hopefully, we can each manage to learn from our mistakes and gain courage during trials so that we can move forward - again, in God's strength.

This week, my wonderful sister, Cathi sent me a song called "You Make Me Brave" sung by Amanda Cook and produced by the music group Bethel - it is incredible!!!  Take a listen when you have time....

You Make Me Brave
Amanda Cook & Bethel Music - You Make Me Brave

Have you ever thought of yourself as "Brave?"  "Courageous?"  And, what does being brave or courageous mean?  Brave is displaying courage.  Being brave is facing a challenge courageously.
What is courage then?  Courage is the quality of mind that enables one to face danger or trouble with confidence.  Where does that confidence come from?  Having a heart, soul and spirit that dares to defy the odds?  True Grit?  Pure spunk???  Or, from God???  Think about it.  Reflect on where you get your courage from - it is a question worth contemplating.

Courage is daring to act with valor when you want to lash out or give up.  Courage is choosing to see the problem/concern and taking it head on.  Courage is being willing to find solutions, search for answers, and wait for wisdom and guidance.  Yes, I said wait.  Waiting is one of the hardest things to do when everything seems to be crumbling down around you.  When the cancer is back.  Where there is no solution.  When the finances have been depleted.  When it seems all hope has been lost.

Believe me, as a Prayer Warrior at our church, we have tumultuous prayer requests each week!!!  Many people are going through horrendous things.  It seems that the more we pray, the more we have need to pray!  It gives each of us a new perspective on life.  Each week, when we pray for others, we start with a list of Praises.  Praises of answered prayers.  Praises for healing.  Praises for new beginnings.  Praises for doors opening where another door was slammed shut.  Praises for joys shared with each other along the way.  It is unbelievable some days how God answers our prayers.  We stand amazed each week when we reflect on the ways God has moved in our lives and those of the people we pray for every Thursday.

As the song says, "wave after wave"  God's love crashes over me.   The majesty and wonder of our Champion in Heaven.  Our King of Heaven.  He draws us out beyond the shore as He sings His song of love for us.  Each of us.  I have heard Him calling my name.  I have heard of His Grace.  I Have heard of His Love.  Can you hear him calling your name???

Monday, May 18, 2015


Recently, there has been much talk about Harbingers or disasters in our country and our world.  Around the globe, there are so many natural disasters occurring that it seems we hear about 1-2/week.  Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, as well as Tsunami's in Haiti and Japan, just to name a few.  Tornados of catacylismic size in Joplin, MO and Moore, Oklahoma were devastating to our country.  Other disasters have been in the news over and over in the past few years - shocking us into reality!  The school shootings at Columbine and Sandy Hook were and are so deplorable that we cannot fathom a world in which they do not occur anymore.  The world of "Leave it to Beaver" from the 1960's is over.
A few years ago, there used to be a shooting like was rare, now they are much more frequent and happen on a weekly/monthly basis.  Environmental, social, and national disasters are happening at a fast and furious pace in today's world.

Have you ever thought about why we are having these natural disasters?  Yes, I know the theory of global warming and the fact that the population around the world has increased so much that we are distressing the earth's resources.  We are going beyond the natural boundaries in so many ways.  Yes, duly noted.  But, it is so much more......

A  Harbinger is a precursor or forerunner.  Many times it is a forerunner of doom or disaster.  It can be considered a herald or omen of the future as well.  Our country experienced one of the most horrific "harbingers" ever imagined on September 11, 2001.   The world trade centers were destroyed along with thousands of lives.....none of us can ever forget that fateful day in the United States of America.  All of us remember exactly where we were or what we were doing the moment we saw the trade centers exploding.  It is a daunting memory.

Two summers ago, I read a book called The Harbinger.  It impacted me so greatly, that I wanted to buy 100 copies and give it to everyone I know!  I could not afford to do so, but it has come up again recently in a call to pray for our country by Anne Graham Lotz. 

Our country is in serious disarray.  The decay in our social, moral, financial, religious/spiritual, agricultural, and emotional well-being is profound.  Most of you who know me, know that I am not a "doom and gloom" type person.  I don't dwell on the negative and instead try to live my life in a positive, life-affirming way.  But, we must face reality and wake up!!!  We are succumbing to the ways of destruction and it is mostly due to our own ignorance.  Yes, it is our own fault.  Yep, you read that right.  We are causing our country and our world to fall.  Little by little, day by day, one compromise at a time.

To me it starts with the decay in our families.  The decay of our families in the USA have proven to be so disastrous, yet it is second nature in our society.  Divorce is so common place that most people don't even blink an eye anymore if a person has been divorced 2-3 times.  That is a disaster for us, for our kids and for future generations.  Unfortunately, my parents were divorced back in 1973 and I have been divorced since 1980.  It is grueling to go through.  It has impacted my own emotional state as well as my son and 3 nieces and 2 nephews.  Three out of four siblings in my family are divorced.  What in the world has happened to us as a family?  Brokenness.  Feelings of insecurity.  Feelings of failure.  Yet, "picking ourselves up by the boot straps" is common place in our society.  It is a disaster.  It is sad.  It is ugly.

This nation was founded with a Declaration of Independence and a Pledge of Allegiance.  "One nation under God."  Yes, that's right. Under God.   He was our first priority at one time.  We have "In God We Trust" on all of our money in the USA.  But, do we really trust Him anymore?  I think not.  It is very apparent that our world doesn't trust God anymore than we trust each other.  Look at our world, look at our culture, look at our families.  What do you see?  Do you see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control anywhere?  Not very often.  What we see on the news more often is hatred, rioting, impatience, road-rage, abuse, unfaithful people, harshness and absolutely everyone doing whatever they want when they want to do so.....the rule book has been thrown out and we do as we please.  No matter what.  It is a disaster.  It is sad.  And, it is ugly.

On 9/11/01 people screamed out:  "Where is God?"  Well, think about it!!!  We have shoved God out of our homes, our schools, our government, and our society so much over the past 50  years, why should He answer us anymore?  He is a gentleman, not a thug.  He won't force us to believe in love, mercy, forgiveness or grace.  Those are His gifts to us, not mandates.

We need to wake up America!!!  We need to get back on track.  We need to pray for this country and for our families.  We need to ask God for help.  We need to ask God to be in our relationships, in our motives, in our thoughts, words, deeds, actions, reactions, but mostly our responses.  We need God in our homes, our schools, and yes, our government.  We need a light to shine on our country.  We need Godly leadership.  We need people who are going to stand up for what is right - not submit to what some "politically correct" agenda is saying.  We need our God and we need Him NOW!!! 

Micah 6:8 says:  "He  has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does He require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

That is my fervent prayer:  Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God. 
Please pray with me - it is an urgent call!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Quality Time....

I hear a lot of people talking about quality time these days.  We all have the same 24 hours in a day and the same 7 days in a week.  So, that adds up to 168 hours in the week. 
What does spending quality time with someone mean to you?  What does it mean to a relationship?  What does it mean for our kids and families?  What does it mean to our career world?

The definition of quality is a characteristic element or attribute or a degree of excellence of a thing.
What does quality mean to you?  Is it a trait?  Is it goodness?  Is it a grade or rank to you?  When does quality enter into your world?

Now add the time frame.  What is quality time?  A hour a day?  A week?  A month?  Spending hours on end on a specific project?  Spending quality time with a loved one or a person whom you enjoy their company?  Spending overtime at work so that you can get that promotion?

What is on your calendar?  Who is on your calendar?  What ranks highest in your world?  And, how do you define that?

It is all about priorities. It is all about our choices.  When do you decide to spend more time with your kids or family instead of working overtime?  When do you choose to take extra time with someone you love?  How do you know when you are spending enough time to build a relationship that lasts?
What consumes your calendar?  Who consumes your calendar?  Are there adjustments that need to be made to prioritize something important to you?

Since we all have the same amount of time in a day and/or a week, how do we determine where to spend the most time?  How do we prioritize the things that matter most?  How do we arrange items in an order of importance where we are not feeling tugged here and there?  How do we stop the pushing and pulling on our emotional strings so that we feel we can breathe again?

It all gets down to getting clear in our head about what is most important and what is most urgent.  Some things must take a priority for a period of time.  Other things can be put on the back burner for a brief amount of time.  How can we possibly make our world sane?  And, how do we show those we love how much they mean to us? 

Try this little exercise.  Write down these titles on a piece of paper with four quadrants:
Most Important/Most Urgent
Least Important/Least Urgent

Give yourself space for each quadrant and start to name the priorities in your life.
Define for yourself, your kids, your spouse (or significant other), your boss or whomever you feel you need to prioritize specific items within your day or week and see what comes up. 

Define for yourself what you need.  How much time is enough?  When you become clear about your own needs, wants, and priorities, they will become clear in your life - In your families, in your relationships, in your work and thus, in your world.  Some things that you spent your time on before used to be enough for you.  Now, you need or want more time for such and such.  Ask specifically, how much time do I want for this or that in my life?  Choices.  We all have to make them.  When we define those choices, we will increase our quality time with whatever our priorities are and our world will become a much more pleasant place to be!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Happy Mother's Day to all those wonderful, marvelous, loving mother's out there!!!

If I had a flower
for every time
I thought of Mothers,
I could walk
through my garden
My mom who is in Heaven now, was a gardener.  She gave each of us four kids the gift of loving  of gardening and being outdoors.  She taught us to enjoy every gift of every season!!!
One time when I was in Ohio visiting, mom was going to the grocery store and I went along.  She meandered along several streets until I finally asked:  "Aren't we going to the grocery store?"  Mom replied, "Yes."  Then, my question was:  "So, did you know the grocery was just up that street we just passed?"  And, of course, she smiled and said:  "Yes, I know, but I wanted to see if my neighbors garden was in bloom  yet...." 
Ahhhh....what a gift she gave me that day!  To journey through life and meander this way and that, to find the surprises along the way and to enjoy each beautiful, precious moment that God gives us each day!!! 
Thank you, Heavenly Father for my incredible mom!!!  I miss her SO very much, but will always have her with me in my heart and soul......thank you, thank you, thank you Mom for ALL the wonderful gifts you gave my heart!!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Waiting.... of my LEAST favorite things to do - how about you?  Waiting has many aspects of its definition.  See below:

1)  To remain inactive in anticipation
2)  To delay, postpone
3)  To serve as a waiter or waitress
4)  To attend, as a clerk or servant
5)  The act of waiting or the time spent waiting
6)  To watch
7)  To remain until something expected happens
8)  To be ready
9)  To await
10) Expectation
11)  To bide one's time
12) To wait in hopeful expectation

Which of those definitions do you like?  Which one fits your situation in life right now?  If you are anything like me, it is very difficult to wait.  Patience may be a virtue, but it is not one of my strongest suits.

Waiting can mean waiting for a child to be born, waiting for the doctor to come in while you are at the doctor's office, waiting for school to be done this year, waiting to turn 21 years old, waiting for a new relationship to come into your life or waiting for a current relationship to move forward, or waiting for a new career to reveal itself to you.  Whatever it is that you are waiting for, it is sometimes very hard to wait.

It may mean waiting a day, a week, a month, a year, 3 months, 6 months, 3 years or as in the Biblical days 40 days or 40 years!!!  That is a LONG time to wait in the desert....

I encourage you that if you are in the desert right now, look up all the scriptures in your concordance on "wait, waiting, or waits."  It is quite a lesson and revealed a lot to me about my own perceived inability to wait.  Try it - it is very enlightening!!!

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 40:30-31 which says:
"Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall, but those who wait upon The Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up on wings like eagles;  they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not be faint."

And, a new verse I just learned recently is:
Habakkuk 2:3 which says:
"Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay..."
Wow!  I have so much to learn.....

Now, to encourage anyone in the desert right now, as I am on many levels, take heart!  The Lord has a great plan for your life...believe it and wait upon The Lord to reveal it to you.  It will be worth the wait!!!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Always remember....

I saw a sign tonight in a magazine that said the following:
Always remember
You are
Braver than you believe,
Stronger than you seem,
Smarter than you think!!!
Pretty apropo, wouldn't you say?  Think about how many times you second guess yourself.
"Perhaps I shouldn't do such and such...."  or "Maybe I am not as smart as my co-worker, friend, sibling, spouse, so I shouldn't do _________" or "I could never do that!"
We talk ourselves out of taking part in an activity because we don't think we can or because we don't believe we have the talent or where-with-all to go the long distance to accomplish a specific task, or because we have never tried such and such.  Yet.  What makes us second guess our abilities, talents and perseverance?  That little voice in our head or is there a voice from long ago who told you that you couldn't, wouldn't, or shouldn't?
Do you remember the movie called The Help?  It was brought out to the movie theatres in 2011 and it was wonderful!!!  A slogan by Aibileen Clark from the main theme in the movie is:
"You is kind
 You is smart,
 You is important."
Do you believe that about yourself?  If not, have you ever asked your why or why not?  Go back to that memory - whether it is from childhood, young adulthood  or just yesterday that got stuck in your brain or subconscious that said:  "Nope!  I can't do that!  Or, "I am not good enough" or "there's no way I can complete that daunting task." 
Somewhere down deep there is a reservoir that says you "can!"  You may just have to muster up enough gumption to prove it to yourself!  Or prove it to your boss, a neighbor, or a parent that is no longer able to tell you that you "can't...."  Some of those old memories are just flat wrong!  Some may have been right back then, but what about the adage:  "Try, try, try again?"  Or, "Practice makes perfect!"  Or, "Wow, maybe I can accomplish this in my life!"
We have so many wonderful traits, attributes and abilities that lay dormant because of an old thought pattern or emotion that is "stuck" in our subconscious or unconsciousness.  The next time you hear that old voice in your head saying no, stop and say "YES!  Maybe!  or "Absolutely I can!!!"
Joyce Meyer has a wonderful slogan that says:
"Miracles come in CANS:  "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!"
One of my favorite scriptures is exactly that last part of her slogan:  Philippians 4:13.  Look it up.  Read it often.  Memorize it.  Say it out loud to yourself every morning until you believe it!!!
And, always remember you are braver, stronger and smarter than you thought yesterday....

Sunday, April 26, 2015

In Awe of Daily Miracles...

I just got done reading one of my daily devotions from Living Faith magazine and I just had to share his thoughts!!!  Steve Givens is one of my favorite writers in this devotion.  Here is his article for today:

In Awe of Daily Miracles

Psalm 118.23
"By the Lord has this been done;
It is wonderful in our eyes."

There have been times in my life when I have been left speechless by the wonder of what I saw before me, such as my first glimpse of the Grand Canyon, my wife walking down the aisle at our wedding, and the birth of our two children.  I had no words.  What I saw before me was so awe-inspiring that I knew the hand of God had to be at work.
Einstein said:  "There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle."  We can see each sunrise, each newborn child, each encounter with beauty and chalk them all up to chance, or we can stand back in wonder at these daily miracles and choose to see the hand of God.  The first option is a yawn; the second is a gasp.  You choose.

Lord, fill my life with wonder and a sense of you....
(by Steve Givens, 2015)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ten dads and their boys....

I was walking through a local park one evening this week with all the beautiful sounds and smells of Spring surrounding me and what did I come upon?  A small baseball field full of ten dads and their young sons!  I had to count them because there were so many!

As I walked past the field,  some of the dads were pitching to the little guys while other dads had the boys forming 2 lines so that they could try their hand at catching.  Another set of dads had a T-ball machine set up on separate part of the field, so that another set of boys could learn how to hit the ball. 

There were dads calling out to the boys as well as the sound of the ball hitting the glove over and over...practice, practice and more practice.  Laughter, laughter and more laughter.  Coaching, coaching and more coaching.  And, there were Moms on the side-line with babies in carriages and other moms romping in the grass around the field with the toddlers just barely able to walk. It was so fun to watch and I marveled at the activity and the team work being utilized to teach these boys how to play baseball.  There were Major League Baseball players in the making.......or perhaps, just little league and high school ball, but nonetheless, boys were being coached by the dads who wanted to be by their side.  Dads who wanted to be actively involved in their son's growth and development.  And, moms were on the side-lines cheering their boys on.  Wow - it was quite a sight to see!

As I observed this welcome site, I had to stop and remember all those times I watched my son, Matt play ball:  practices each week, some games played during the week, and many games every weekend.  Sometimes there were double-header games during the week or tournaments on the weekends.  Rain or shine, they played ball!!!  Cool weather or hotter than Texas summers, they played ball!!!  It was pure fun!!!

One summer, Matt was pitching and threw 8 strike outs in a row!!!  I had to keep asking the other parents:  "Is that really Matt???"  I was floored at how accomplished Matt had become at pitching.  Then, his batting started getting better and better.......When Matt hit his first home run, he waved at me as he ran the was quite a sight to see!!!

Learning to play baseball was something Matt loved....he never wanted to miss a practice, so that he could improve his game.  Dad after dad stepped up to show him and his teammates how to cultivate the talent they saw in each player.  I thank every dad and baseball coach who helped my son learn how to play baseball.  As a single mom and not a baseball player myself, I had to rely on those special dads to teach Matt.  They did an excellent job....they took the time to be there week after week, game after game to mentor the boys and be there for them. 

Wow!  What a gift that was to observe and take part in....I loved watching Matt play ball and loved going to every game - rain or shine!  Hot or cold - it was a blast to be a part of his life all those summers.........I will miss those now that he is 19 almost 20 years old and in college.  But, the memories will never fade because other boys keep stepping up to the plate to bat and many young men stand on the pitching mound to pitch every summer at 3&2 baseball fields at Shawnee Mission Park.  Other dads step onto the practice field and on the game field to coach, teach and be a part of the lives of these boys.....And as I walk through the park or drive past 3&2 baseball fields each summer, I can watch and remember.......and, I can say:  Thank you, Lord for these dads and their boys!!!