Monday, December 9, 2013

Just Do It. Plain and Simple.

A while back a friend told me they were going to do something significant for me. That something never did get done. A few days after the fact, I got to thinking about what we, as believers, say and do on a daily basis and how it affects our witness and integrity. There are many types of people in the world. We all have unique personalities shaped by our life’s circumstances as well as the parts that are given to us by our Creator. But something that every single one of us should always do is keep our word.

Jesus’ words were never more clear about this subject in Matthew 5:37: “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” (NKJV) In this context he was speaking of simply saying yes or no, versus swearing by anything. But there is so much wisdom in Jesus’ words. If we say we will, then we need to do so. If we say we will not, we need to follow through with our word.

Another great teaching from the Bible that came to my mind during this time really brought more wisdom to the subject at hand. In James 2:14-26, we learn about what faith truly is. Faith by itself is actually nothing. It is dead. But when we place action along with that faith, it is alive. In verses 15 and 16 the example is given, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (ESV) This is a beautiful illustration that cuts to the heart of the matter beautifully. Well-wishes are meaningless in a world full of suffering. It is only by doing something tangible that we can strengthen our brothers and sisters.

So many times we see a need among our brothers and sisters; we want badly to help, but we just don’t know how. Or maybe we do know how, but we can’t afford it. Maybe we have so many ideas that we walk away wondering which one is best, only to get caught up in the busy life we have and forget to do anything at all. Everyone is at risk for these shortcomings. Afterall, we are all human – living in a fallen world – corrupted by sin. But with the Holy Spirit, I believe we have something others don’t: a Helper.
There is an Amish proverb that I read recently: “One little deed done in time is worth more than a thousand good intentions.” How very true. So next time, instead of talking about helping a friend in need, make the plan to do something tangible. Make a meal, send an anonymous gift card for gas or groceries, clean someone’s house who can’t do it themselves. Make the plan and follow through. You will be building up treasures in Heaven by serving your fellow man as you make this world a better place, deed by deed.

Let your yes be yes and your no be no, and do what you say. One little deed, afterall, can show a fallen world what living with real faith is all about.

Monday, June 3, 2013

My Sweet One

It's been 13 years of wedded bliss.

13 years of "for better or for worse".    (Boy, have we seen worse.)

13 years of "in sickness and in health".    (Wow, have we seen sickness.)

13 years of "for richer, for poorer".     (And man, we've seen, known, and written the book on poorer.)

13 years of "to love, honor, and cherish".    (It's an honor to love and cherish you. . .)

13 years is a long time. 13 years is long enough to survive many things.

Things like the birth of three amazing daughters. . .  buying a house. . .  losing a house. . .  buying another house. . .

Things like surviving a 12-month-old's 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 8% of her body, 4 nights in Detroit Children's Hospital, and a full year of scrubbing the wounds and then therapy suits 23/7 and weekly doctor appointments that led to monthly and then finally to "you've done well. There's no need to come back."

Things like gall bladder attacks so acute we thought it was a heart attack that Sunday morning during sound check. Then 4 days later having the surgery to remove the severely infected organ.

Things like many amazing theatrical performances, which equalled many nights with dad home with the kiddo(s), on his own.

Things like a 4-yr-old having to endure a tonsillectomy and the doctor instructing us to get her a cheeseburger on our way home from the outpatient surgery.

Things like breaking trust horribly only to turn into arms of complete forgiveness.

Things like moving away from our home state, to a place where we knew no one but our realtor.

Things like the discovery of a debilitating disease that spans from her parents all the way to all of our children, and the fight for our lives that it has warranted. . .  after more than a year of searching.

Things like more than two years of painful blood tests, the myriad of medicines (including shots and PICC lines), the mountains of medical bills, and the pain and anguish of a life of disease.

Things like knowing our lives might never turn out like we thought they might, because of a tiny pathogen who has set up shop in the wife's body. . .  and the kids' as well. . .  and probably the husband's.

Things like our home being trashed most days of the year. . .  Our cluttered mess fighting for our attention while the disease sucks the energy out of her. . .  Her dreams of healthy activities trickling down the streams of illness and fatigue. . .  His dreams of a normal life being pulled alongside hers...

And then there are things like laughter, bright sunny days, memories that have been built on sandy beaches, searching for the perfect "coconut phone" (he knows what I mean). . .  Hammock imprints on his back after a rest in the tropical sun. . .  Friday night fires with the kids. . .  Great meals with great friends. . .

But when God joins two people together, make no mistake: even the very gates of Hell will not prevail against them!! We are here. We are going nowhere. We are committed to each other. And that is that way it will be. "Till death parts us."

I am so glad happy in awe [words fail me here] BLESSED to have such an amazing man in my life. Such devotion. Such dedication. Such love.

God, thank You for providing for me in ways that I never would have ever thought necessary or possible. I will do my best to live every day of the rest of my life serving, cherishing, and loving him, My Sweet One.

Here are some of the lyrics to this silly song, where my hubby got one of the pet names I call him... Yes, it's pretty quirky, non-sentimental, and certainly not romantic to most. But it's one of the things that makes us what we are to each other. And the meaning is more deeply known than anyone would dare to imagine. Enjoy.

"My Sweet One, I call you My Sweet One. . .  You're my only true Sweet One. . .  With my all, I call you My Sweet One. . .  Far away, I'll say your name. . .

But with you, I'll travel thick, and with you I'll travel thin. . .  And all the spaces in between, I'll travel with you, you're My Sweet One. . .

Oh, if you're ever unsatisfied with the way life's treating you, you know that you can count on me to take good care of you. I love you honey oh yes I do, you know that's true of course. And if your dog or cat ever dies, I'll buy you a ewe."

Come on! You will never hear such sentiment anywhere else!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Here Today... (part 1)

I've been thinking a lot about my grandparents on my dad's side of the family. They both have passed away, my grandma in 2006 and my grandpa in 2008. It's been an ok transition for me, even though I was very close to both of them. God gave me very special moments with both of them when they were nearing their time to go home to be with the Lord, and I am ever grateful for that.

My grandmother had COPD. Grandpa had cancer. I watched as unnecessary diseases ravaged their bodies, giving them both a shortened life.

Grandma never had the opportunity to meet my youngest daughter; my middle girl was a baby when she died. She gave her a unique nickname that no one else had taken to calling her. That nickname came up the other day and I was able to share with my middle girl--now 7 1/2--about her great grandma and the love she had for her, even as a wee babe.

God gave me a special gift in grandma's end days. She had been going in and out of delirium, and had settled into that state pretty much most of the time at the point that this event took place. One evening I went over to their house; grandma was permanently in her bedroom at this point. The TV was on and an old movie, "In The Good Old Summertime," was just beginning. Well, grandma started talking to me about the actors and actresses in the movie, commenting on how she loved this one, and really didn't care for that one, and how she adored Judy Garland and Van Johnson, the leading lady and gent in the movie. We had small talk during the commercials about everything from baby Miriam--or Mimi as grandma called her--to what was happening around the Grand Traverse area at that time. We reminisced, enjoyed the film, and I was given a priceless gift that no one can ever take away from me. 

When the movie was over, she was pretty much wiped out and the lucidity was fading once again. I took my leave with a cheshire grin inside my heart; one that beamed loudly into my soul of the unmeasurable gift I had just received. I will never ever forget my grandma. I miss her terribly. But the best thing is, I know I will see her again and that makes this life a little more worth living.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Where September and April Collide

Ouch! Poor baby... Two days after she was paid off, too.

Yes. It's been since September. And this a the result of a collision. . . Granted, it wasn't September colliding into April, but it was a jeep colliding into our sitting duck of a van one heavily snowy and slippery day.

I think I got behind on my blogging and felt that well, if I don't do it today, I am sure I will do it tomorrow. Well, today's "discovery": Don't procrastinate. Ha! Like I haven't known this before!!!

I've been working on a few books and had put them off as well, for a longer time than I am comfortable admitting.

Thankfully, grace overflows into every area of my life on a regular basis. And there's nothing I can do to stop it. Even though many times we mark those perfectly packed parcels "return to 
sender". . . it still awaits us. 

So I will say to you all right now: if you have been putting something off for a week, a month, a year, 10 years, or more. . . Pick it up. Start up again. You can do it.

Here's proof. Seven months later. . . 

And the funny thing is, I have loads of things I could have been throwing on here, at least once a month. But did I? No. 

Thankfully my dumb-streak is over. Hi. Welcome to my world once again. Please, kick off your shoes (however if you suffer from awful foot-stink, by all means, leave 'em on. . . Have a heart for your fellow blog readers. . . ), grab your mug of cider, tea, or java, and join me as we go a'pondering and discovering in this little thing called life.
Look at me pondering!

Peace, love, and cider mugs. . .

Friday, September 21, 2012


Her Cheshire Cat grin makes me wonder sometimes... I wonder how this gorgeous little thing all of five years can captivate my heart with just a glance.

What a thing of beauty she has become. Her long golden silk tumbles down the shoulders and melts into a fragrant honey river, allowing anyone to escape into glory for just a moment.

With eyes that seem to capture every living thing in her midst, she walks around, adding them all to her own personal collection. Old ones with wrinkles soften and smile. Young ones stop goofing off for a moment to stare and wave. All the rest, somewhere in the middle look on, trying not to be noticed, but for naught. So they comment on how well-mannered she is and what lovely hair she has.

What a gift, this grinning girl is to us. And to know that she is the reason we are where we are today... the reason we live where we do, and love who we now know... Life certainly is stunning. And so is she.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Mark of a Godly Father

A little late for Father's Day, but better late than never... 
When I think about how much fathers mean to their children, I think about my Heavenly Father, God Almighty. I think about how He has never let me down, how His love has never failed, never given up, and has never run out on me. God, my Father, is more than enough sustaining grace for my whole life. “His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) God is perfect, never changing, is slow to anger, and abounding in love and mercy.
What does that mean for earthly fathers? How could anyone ever live up to the standard that God himself has given... especially a father? A father is a leader; a protector and provider; a knight in shining armor to his little princesses, and a hero to his tiny warrior sons.
So how does a man cope when he misses the mark with his children, his wife, his job, or anything else? How can one man be so much to so many different people and never mess up? The answer is simple – he can’t.
The truth is, no one can compare. No one can be as loving, true, and righteous as God the Father.
And here’s the best part: He doesn’t expect us to be. God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, knows our shortcomings before we even discover them. And in His love, He purposed a way of redemption for us all; His Son, Jesus, the Messiah. “It is because of His great love that we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” (Lamentations 3:22)

The thing I admire most about my daddy is his obedience to God and the lasting impact the Gospel has had in his life. My father has missed the mark many times, and he won’t hesitate to tell you that. But what he does after the fact is what counts. What makes my father a godly father is his humility and willingness to bow his knee to our heavenly Father not only privately in his own home, but also in public arenas. The ability to say, “I was wrong, will you please forgive me?” is something that can bring an entire family to its knees when spoken with a humble and contrite heart.
Humility is paramount as a marker of a godly man. And a father is the best example to his children when he can point them to the One who is perfect in all His ways. A great dad is one who can admit that he’s not perfect, but is in a right relationship with the only One who is. This dad is one who will work diligently to provide for his family. He takes parenting seriously and does not stop protecting and caring for his children, not ever. A good father leads his family and becomes an example of what his daughters will look for in a husband; what his sons can grow up to be.
My children are blessed with a father who can make amends as easily as he can mistakes. This comes from a heart that has been cleansed by Jesus Christ; by the blood He poured out for us at the cross. I pray daily that I can be the wife who is so deserving of such an amazing man of God. I also pray that our children see him for the gift he truly is to our family. The mark of a godly father is one who is not ashamed to call upon his Heavenly Father at all times.
He rejoices in prayer as regularly as he cries out in anger, sadness, and the unknown to his Father. He understands that being a Christian – living real life, in real faith – means having an honest relationship with God. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God,” afterall. (Matthew 4:4)
So this month, I want to take the time to honor all of the godly fathers. I also want to encourage every dad out there to know what a relationship with Father God really is. It’s not merely saying “I have faith,” or “I believe in Jesus.” It is a life of intimacy with Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit; relying on Him to give us our every need, and thanking Him for everything – absolutely everything – that comes our way.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says it best: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, and may you grow in your walk with the Lord this year to be the greatest example your kids will ever know. God bless you richly.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Perseverance and the Gift of Grace

Those of us who struggle daily with some type of affliction know what it means to persevere. We walk through each day of our lives, fighting to survive. Many days, we often sit back and think how miserable our situation has become; others, we realize it's not so bad.

The truth is, we are actually blessed with a true life-learning experience. Even though it may not seem like it–while we're in the midst of trials–we learn our most valuable lessons in the darkest of times. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is when we see just how long the tank will go with the gas light on. These are the days that will define us–for better or worse.

I have decided to come out shining. I choose to be the frog who fell into the cream, only to kick long enough to make a step stool of butter, and hop out of the conundrum.
If you've read my last post, you will know that I have been dealing with late-stage Lyme Disease. It has affected every area of my physical life, as it affects the nervous system and so much more. The very things that I thought defined me these last three-and-a-half decades here on planet earth: gardening, cooking, taking walks, playing softball, playing with my kids, leading worship at church, working out, running, knitting, crocheting, hand-writing things... All of these things added up to "who" I thought I was.

But you know what? None of these things are "who" I am. I have had to learn a very hard lesson–a lesson I am still learning; a lesson I thought I already knew. What makes me, "me," is my spirit. This tent is nothing but a covering to house the spirit that God has created to be "me."

Learning to be okay with just being "me" has been the hardest lesson I've ever had to learn; harder than watching my 12-month-old get burned with boiling soup and spending 4 nights with her in the burn unit of Detroit's Children's Hospital; harder than realizing I'd almost thrown away my marriage to the most wonderful man I've ever known.

I thank God for these times, as all is grace. And I thank God for His healing in my daughter...
 and that I am still married to my husband, whom I love more and more each moment I live.
It is hard to not allow "things" or "activities" to define who I am. And it's even harder to get comfortable with having others do the things that I used to do with such ease and, dare I say it, flare. These last 18 months have been a learning experience of allowing others to serve; to serve someone who was incapable of receiving, before this disease took on a more prolific role inside this tent.

Who I am is a child of the Most High God. The One who created this ever-increasing universe. The One who set the stars in their place, gave us the sun and moon to govern the day and the night. The One who gave us every good and perfect gift. The One who sent His Son to come and live a life as one of us, being tempted as we are, but never giving in to sin. Why? So that there would be a spotless lamb who would be the substitution for us, as we all deserve Hell. This is who I am. I am His child. I am loved and cherished by God Most High. He has given me more than I can imagine with His gift of salvation, and I will be ever grateful.

Some day I hope and pray that I will be able to give back to the ones who so lovingly and selflessly gave so much to me, and to others, who gave nothing at all. For, as I said earlier, all is grace. Everything we encounter is a gift–a gift of grace.

There is so much to reflect on, to wander through, and perspectives that still need to be changed. It all takes time–the one commodity we are offered up plainly, with no extensions, substitutions, or refunds.

Do you have an obstacle in your life? How have you chosen to live with it? Are you thankful for even those dark moments? Have you given everything over to Jesus Christ? He came for all–to save us from this curse of sin. It is only through His gift of grace that we will ever hope to be truly free from our earthly afflictions. Make a serious effort to thank Him today. And if you have not yet received this glorious gift, what are you waiting for?

Peace, love, and cider mugs...