Thursday, December 13, 2012


I am sitting here slightly nauseous. The stress is mounting and I am frustrated.

Lord, help.

I am not sure how to stop the spinning and I know I need to breathe but I am in a coffee shop with teenage noise everywhere but it beats going home where my husband might still be there and still be cranky.

His stress has been mounting for a while.

I want to eliminate it, but I don't know how...not really. I am trying.

I want things to be exactly how I want them. I thought they were moving in that direction and then things shifted. Different perspectives can sometimes be the colors of a kaleidoscope; and sometimes they can be trying to wear the wrong pair of glasses.

I want beauty to infuse my world.

However I need beauty to infuse my soul.

Nothing in the last 24 hours changes that. Not the bad day. Not the bad mood. Not the different idea.

"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; And by knowledge its rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power. For by wise guidance you will wage war," Proverbs 24: 3-6

I want to seek wisdom with greater effectiveness. I feel empty, which is a great pace for God's word to fill me.

I want to ponder understanding. How can I understand the members of my family at a deeper level? How can I encourage them to understand one another at a deeper level?

Help me, Lord. ????????

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Coming to Grips

Of course I cannot sleep.

I am trying to wrap my mind around an election that was unfathomable to me.

There is no single thing to blame. It is not the hurricane, not the media bias, not the wrong candidate. It is that a culture can be so numb to the loss of freedom and staggering debt that chokes the life out of innovation and creativity that makes this so devastating. How can you restore hope, when freedom is lost?

We are a society that is lost if we don't understand the magnitude of how much we live outside of our means. When there is no more money, what then?

Eventually someone will stop lending and start buying. Buying shares in a nation that has been free for centuries.

Please, Lord, show me how to respond.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Coming Out of a Slump

I knew last spring that I wanted to do a Peacemakers Bible Study in the fall.
Because conflict is so  real, and conflict is so REALLY hard to deal with well. I was asking God, "How can I BE ME...fired up about things that fire me up, passionate about truth and transparency and NOT have conflict wreck me emotionally?" The book Peacemaker by Ken Sandee is phenomenal, and his ministry had a Bible Study for women. Perfect.
Procrastinating as I do, I did not get the DVD's in my hands until mere days before Bible Study was to begin, and as I watched them I knew I could not show them. The topic--so important--needed to draw people in.
I fell asleep during the second session.
And so my well-planned out fall, with a weekly DVD Bible Study format, radically changed. God was saying to me, "My precious, precious baby have so much work to do on handling conflict in your life; pressing play is not enough to really grow you the way I need to."
Those who have served in ministry for a while have learned a constant: Where you are teaching, Satan loves to attack. So, when the icy winds began to blow into my marriage and my home the first week of Bible Study, I was not surprised.
It has been really, really good study. Tuesday Night ladies are a really, really great group.
But as the responsibilities of preparing and teaching for an hour and a half each week were added unexpectedly, I fell into a slump in many other areas--homeschool, laundry, dusting, and dishes.
The Bible swallows me and my attention whole. I am riveted by it, and excited about applying it to life. I love to see women growing:
One stepping out in service with boldness that is completely fresh and new; another riveted by a message God is piercing into her heart and head, begging for a way to get out; someone else with a brand new marriage that is 4 kids and a decade and a half old; and yet one more precious woman dealing with loss and tragedy, excited about how God has used them to teach her kids about faith.
Really, folding socks just pales in comparison...
But my family IS ACTUALLY the most important place of ministry I have, and if I want to shift the icy winds in a new direction, intentionally building my home routine is essential. God showed me undeniably that He loves my family, and reminded me how small minded I can be in what I allow to cool my affections. As always, when the ice is beginning to melt, I  know (yet again) He is calling me to re-focus on taking care of the peace in my home.
Five batches of soup and ten other meals prepped and in the freezer for later, loads and loads of laundry folded and put away, pave the way for conversations with my hubby.
When the chills of life separate us, I miss him. He doesn't necessarily say it, but I know he misses me, too. We laugh at me...while making an incredibly important point at the Peacemakers Bible Study, I stop dead in my tracks, "I did that very thing to my husband tonight," I tell my friends. "That means I have to go home and apologize and I don't want to."
But God IS FAITHFUL, and by the time I got home I really did want to apologize.
I don't want the ugly me to go on unchecked. I am grateful for conviction.
A few days later I look forward to chores at home and the hope of getting things done.
I tell hubby that I find my heart longing for simplicity, and he is in total agreement. Together we work on priorities, fearing that the holiday season will bury us alive if we don't purpose for it not to; and I am praying God moves my hands and my feet to follow my longing. Because a peaceful life requires Bible Study, friends and a commitment to my home...not necessarily in that order.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Only Ones Left

As my brother in law drove away from the restaurant I had only one thought: We are the only ones left.

It was over a decade ago that my mother in law's memory began to slip. Her mother had the same thing, only later in life.

Slowly her life began to close in. She could no longer take care of grand kids. She dropped out of the church ladies' circle. She stopped buying birthday presents or Christmas gifts. She gave up her driver's license.

Her husband, my father in law, became her sole care giver. He was fiercely protective of her. He loves her. The problem is, she is not well taken care of.

Eventually she stopped changing her clothes. She no longer took care of her finger nails or toe nails. She forgot to shower.

My husband and I were the first to talk about a change. Many years ago we took them to model homes in our area. We painted the picture of moving out of the mountains and to the grand kids where they could attend ball games and plant a garden. They stubbornly refused.

My father in law dug his heals in, promising to make a change in the move back to his home state. His words were empty. He began lying to his kids and laughing about it to his friends as his wife's memory faded...

In her day she was a teacher and an artist. She was funny and generous. Every one loved her. Yet as she floated into her twilight years her dignity was disappearing faster than her memories.

If my husband were an only child things would have gone much differently, but he is not and it took time to get everyone on the same page. They were coming to our house for Christmas we were told, and as they made their way down the interstate we would get the phone calls:
  • "Mom is limping. Her foot is really hurting her. She can't remember what happened."
  • "Lois has a really bad foot. I think it is getting worse. She can barely walk."
By the time they arrived at our house, my husband and I had the plan in place. We would take her to the doctor with or without her husband's permission. He was the king of, "She'll be fine. We'll go to our own doctor in Grass Valley." His hostility was always on the brink of explosion, always something to be navigated around.

Her foot was infected because her clothes were dirty and she never showered. Her toe nails needed a doctor's care. And I looked at my heart broken hubby and said, "I would never allow my mother to live like this."

Weeks later my family and my husband's two brothers and sister came from across the country and Canada to end the situation. Resolute, my husband said to his father, "Mom is coming with me. You are welcome to come, too, but if you want to move to Oregon you must go find a place by yourself and then I will bring her to you."

He was so brave.

Grandpa came too and we found them a place at a wonderful Christian retirement home near us. My father in law screamed and jumped up and down. He pounded his fist and pointed his fingers at us.

He made my daughter cry.

And we have worked hard to make this their home, and increased medications for bad moods, and kept family members updated, but as my brother in law left the restaurant heading for a new life several states away, I realized we were the only ones even close.

A brother is now in Texas; another in Maine; and a sister is in Canada.

Every holiday is ours. Every call with an injury or reports of bad behavior come to us to manage. And I realize why the 5th commandment is the one with a promise:

"Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord is giving you." Exodus 20:12

It is not easy, nor is it simple, but it is worth it. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Remaining Principled

The question I find myself pondering is this: "Can I ever develop consistent character if the ends justify the means?"

Two news items this week have me wresting.

First, the Democratic Convention takes any mention of God out of their platform. Then they put it back in.

I am a devout Christian who has spent a fair amount of time pondering the importance of  a Biblical world view. I absolutely believe God SHOULD BE acknowledged by any American political party.

HOWEVER, the party has procedures in place. If an amendment to the passed party platform is desired, that amendment must be introduced; a motion to accept it offered; that motion seconded; and a vote taken. The vote must receive 2/3 support in order to pass the amendment.

The verbal vote taken--three times--on the convention floor simply did not sound like a 2/3 majority supported the change. In fact, it didn't even sound close. The chairman, who according to the audio I listened to, seemed incredibly uncomfortable...he knew what he was supposed to do, he seemed to realize it could not be done if the rules were to be strictly followed, but it was done anyway.

I am not sure who won.

I absolutely want God acknowledged in all politics. But mostly I want 2/3 of the people to also want God acknowledged; and I want to know that the rules will be followed to protect us from the emotional highs and lows life throws at us.

Second, a bad guy was convicted of a crime.

I believe he was guilty. I believe he is also guilty of another crime he has yet to be charged with. Both crimes were the murders of his wives--wife #3, and wife #4. To say this guy is unlikeable is an understatement.

The problem I have is this: The vast difference between believing beyond a shadow of a doubt someone is guilty, and having the prosecution prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that someone is guilty is huge. They are NOT the same thing, and in a society of laws the burden is on the prosecution not our opinion.

They changed the rules to ensure the outcome. Never before has heresay been allowed in court with this much influence. It is a slippery slope, that may very well get overturned by a higher court in the future. This bad guy might walk after all.

Having faith means trusting that God will work things out, and that it is my role to follow His ways even when the short term outcome looks bleak. Not so easy for me.

I can easily be an "ends justify the means" kind of a gal. But watching it unfold in third party this week helps me to realize that the consistency of my character needs to be a value I strive for, even if I have to let something I would like to have go...for now.

God really will have it. HE really does have longer term vision that I do. Why don't I remember that more often?

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Fragile State of a Mother's Heart

I cried all the way home, and I am not a crier.

Yesterday was the second day of first grade for my precious little peanut. It was the first day that the kids were instructed to put their back packs by the classroom door and then head out to the playground to play until the bell rang. Then they line up  on the basket ball court.

Yesterday, as we walked to the play area, a sweet little girl came up to my daughter, Ryan, and talked to her. They then grabbed hands and went to the play structure together. My heart was overwhelmed with joy.

You see my daughter is different. She has a chromosomal abnormality. She is the only one one the world with her particular differentiation, and the bottom line is that too much genetic information is not how things are supposed to be.

She doesn't really talk. Her "run" is not like a typical 7 year old, because getting her body to do what is natural for others is a lot of work for her.

For Ryan, learning is difficult but loving is easy.

Yesterday the morning was blessed. Today the morning broke my heart.

The same little girl was there, so I encouraged Ryan to go play with her. Ryan tried to grab her hand, but the little girl pulled away. Ryan followed her into the play area, but the little girl turned her back on Ryan and went in the other direction.

I watched my daughter be rejected.

This summer I grieved the loss of kindergarten for this very reason. In kindergarten there was an amazing teacher who--long before Ryan was in her class--considered kindness to be the most important thing you could ever teach. She looked at Ryan as a huge gift to her and the other students. Every day I knew Ryan was safe, cherished and valued.

How can I bear, with grace, the devastating reality my daughter must face?

HE will mold me, and SHE will show me. As I breathed deeply and continued to watch I notice two things:

  • Ryan didn't skip a beat. She went to the play structure, climbed to the top of the slide, looked to make sure I was watching and slid down. She did the same thing over and over again, laughing the whole time.
  • The other little girl didn't find any one else to play with. She never smiled, and actually looked a bit lonely.
After Ryan had "conquered" the slide 6 or 7 times she bobbed out to me and gave me a big hug. When she walked into the classroom, she was all smiles and big waves.

She was okay. I was a mess.

My husband and I did not know there was anything special until after Ryan was born. When she was two days old and in the hospital, my pediatrician came to examine her. When he finished he said, "I am so, so sorry. But I would put your baby in the category of there's something not right, but I don't what it is."

I said to him, "Well...I painted on the wall above her crib, 'And God looked at all He had made, and indeed it was very good.' I guess it is time for me to figure out if I really believe that."

In high school English I didn't realize that Flowers for Algernon was preparing me for my life. A life I wouldn't trade, a life that I love...but I don't love those moments when it is hard for my kids. Even though, in this case, it WASN'T hard for my daughter; it was hard for me.

And so she went into her day smiling, and I got into my van, turned on Christian music and cried. I let the songs remind me that God is in control. He loves her more than I do. He loves me more than I love her.

I am not sure how that is possible.

I am not sure how to survive the fragile state of my mother's heart. 

"And God looked at all He had made, and indeed it was very good." Genesis 1:31

Friday, August 17, 2012

Odd Memories

Sometimes my husband is a genius.

I was remembering a time, over a decade ago, when the little girl in the picture was just a baby. Her older brother, who was 11, had done something wrong. I can't remember what it was, but whatever it was  escalated into one of those family "moments". 

Mom is yelling. Boy is crying. Dad wants it all to go away.

My son said he was going to run away. In a fit of tough love I told him he couldn't have his shoes. I shouted, "If your going out on your own, you have to do it on your own. No shoes from this house," or something equally ridiculous.

My son headed out the back door into the yard. We lived on a hill, and our back yard had a top portion, a bottom portion and a field beyond that. When he got down to the bottom part of the yard, my hubby grabbed the baby, ran out the door, and met my son just before he got to the field.

He then handed the baby to my angry adolescent and said, "Here. Take her."

My son was dumbfounded. Baffled, he asked, "What?"

"Yeah. If you are not going to be here I'd rather not have any kids. It will be easier."

My husband then turned around and came inside.

That was it. Drama was over, I was laughing hysterically, and my son could come back home with his dignity in tact. Things calmed down and we ate dinner. Our family of four was all under one roof.

Sometimes I make such a big deal out of every little thing, when what I really need to do is simply breathe.

" But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."-Galatians 5:22-23

It was an amazing display of the fruit of the Spirit in an unexpected moment and a creative way.

I love that guy.

Monday, August 13, 2012


This is my refrigerator:

It may not be perfectly organized for some people, but it is amazingly organized for me. That means I am making progress.

Just because I have not reached menu following perfection does NOT mean I am going to give up! Here is week #3:

MEXICAN MONDAY   Tacos.  I am trying Trader Joe's taco shells, so we'll see how we like them.

CROCK POT TUESDAY  Chicken with green chiles and cheese over rice and salad. As you can see I have started storing my lettuce in Mason jars. It keeps them so much crisper!

SIMPLE WEDNESDAY  I have Bunko this week, so mac 'n' cheese and fruit it is!

THURSDAY  Homemade pizza

FRIDAY  Burgers, of course!

SATURDAY  Fish Tacos...this time I really WILL make them

SUNDAY  Finger food and salad. We will eat out by the pool and have my hubby bbq shrimp and veggie skewers. We'll also have water melon and salad. This is the LAST Sunday before school starts, I want to make it fun!

I will remind myself of verses out of Proverbs 9:

Wisdom has built her house. She has hewn out her seven pillars; She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine; She has also set her table...For by me your days will be multiplied and years of life will be added to you.

Let my days be multiplied, and let my years actually be full of life!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Because Not Every Bible Study Has to look the Same

I think I am finally ready to accept the fact that I don't fit in. May be I never will.

Perhaps that is okay.

I sit in leadership meetings for women's ministries and I often argue in my head...sometimes even out loud. What if you never find a best friend in your small group?

I think that church can sometimes feel like the loneliest place on the planet.

For years I have wrestled in and out of the midst of planning a brighten a corner project there is always much anticipation, excitement and conversation to be had. But in between the wild times, in the down times of real life, I sometimes find it hard to find a sincere "hello".

This summer I think I may have changed that. I accepted that I don't fit in, and prayerfully created a Bible Study that I would love. It came as a result of praying about two things:
  1. How to be a better steward, and REALLY use what God has given me to His glory.
  2. How to provide an engaging environment for Ryan, my 7 year old daughter with special needs.
It was centered around Lysa Terkeurst's DVD series WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WOMEN SAY YES TO GOD . I love Lysa Terkeurst, who is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her relaxed style, wrapped around simple verses with stories woven in was just what I needed this summer. This is how the day was scheduled:
  • 10:00 arrive.
  • 10:15 do fun, creative activities with our kids
  • 11:00 kids outside with childcare, moms watch the video and discuss
  • 12:00 Potluck lunch
  • 12:30 Open the cover to the pool and swim
 This is what it looked like:

I feel like I have new friends. I know that Ryan engaged in more activities than she would have had I not done it. Although she doesn't talk, I know that brain of hers is watching, and learning. This was the scene at my home last night, after the last Bible Study had ended earlier that (very, very hot) day.

You can't see it, but my Bible is to her left, and she is holding the workbook "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God". She had her stuffed animals sitting on the couch, and she was inviting them into the conversation about the book.

Precious. A great reminder. What Happens When Women Say Yes To God? Their children sometimes say yes, too. This never would have happened if I had just waited to fit in.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


When I woke up yesterday, I had one thought: AWAY.

I knew if I did not invest some time putting things away, throwing things away, or giving things away, I might end up being locked away in a loony bin. 

That might be an exaggeration.

But not much. I confess with eyes wide open that I am not a great housekeeper. I am not even a good housekeeper. I am not a hoarder, but I do not keep an environment that allows the rhythm of my life to function at its ideal. It is an on going struggle.

My daughter and I have a saying...when we get something simplified and organized we say it just feels more, "ahhhhhhhhhh....." We both know exactly what we mean. 

There is a peace in simplicity.


"for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." 2 Corinthians 8:21

Does it get any more simple than that?

This summer, my home has functioned more closely to the way that I desire. My girls and I hosted a weekly Bible Study here, so the word of God has grown.  I have really searched and found a better path for Brighten A Corner Ministry, so God's work will be done. My family has had lots of time together in the sun and relaxing, so my family feels stronger.

Now I need to simplify so that there is less burden of excess. Everything I keep in my home drains me of something--space, mental energy, a decision that needs to be faced.  Some of these things also add benefits...function, fun, or memories. As I grow, it is my hope that my home will both function as I want it to function AND look like I want it to look. 

The only hope of that happening is AWAY...putting things away, giving things away, or throwing things away. Away I go, to get to work!