Category Archives: Life

The small stuff…

In my life I ALWAYS celebrate the small stuff.. I make little goals and update them often.. When my son said his first 2 word “sentence” at 5 years old ? We celebrated.. Then I set my goal to using a “sentence” every day. When my daughter read her first book solo.. at 5 years? We celebrated… then we set our goal to reading a book (solo) everyday.  When my son told me he was mad .. Instead of melting down? YUP!! We celebrated! (I admit my son looked confused when his mom laughed and hugged him for saying “I’m mad at you.”) We celebrated and then talked about what made him mad.

When my daughter stood up to the bully who had pestered her for years..? Ok.. that was a BIG thing.. but still we celebrated.

Big goals sometimes take too long to accomplish.. and admit it.. If goals are too hard, sometimes we give up.  So by keeping my goals small? My milestones achievable? Yup.. I tend to celebrate a lot.

Which is healthy…at least I think it is…

As an author, I celebrate each milestone too.. especially with book selling! Yesterday Shadows broke through the ranking of 100k on amazon’s best selling ranking. Doesn’t sound that great really, lol. I know.. I know.. it sounds like Shadows is barely floating. But to me it is a small goal. Ranked #100,000 out of a million books? It’s the top 10%.. To me that’s great..

SOO.. Yesterday I celebrated reaching my milestone…

Today? Today I set my next goal to keep my ranking up to 100k..

What am I celebrating today?

Today I am celebrating that I am only 16 “likes” away from 200 followers on my facebook page.. Once I meet that? Yup.. keep aiming higher…. one teeny tiny step at a time..

I love celebrating the small stuff..

Interesting in checking out Shadows? Here is my Amazon link.. and where you can get a free sample. 

Faith like a child

Warrior child...
Warrior child…

One of my nephews is 3 years old.. Bright blue eyes, amazing smile.. Generous heart and so funny. And he has a tumor behind his right eye. It’s not cancerous. So, although it is scary for us (his family), it isn’t really life threatening. But he still has to endure chemotherapy treatments for 18 months. Treatments that could save his optic nerve from further damage.

6 months into chemotherapy treatments..? I have learned a great deal from watching this boy and his parents. You see this boy..? This little warrior? He has to do a great many things that are hard.. Hard and painful.. And sometimes just not fun. But he does them. He gets cranky, tired and restless … But he does them…

This little warrior accepts what he has to do .. And just does it..

Why?!?

Because his daddy and mommy tell him that this is the way to keep his eyesight.. And although it is hard (for all of them) they have to do it because they love him.

And through eye exams, MRI’s, chemo port installation, long doctor visits, hospitalizations, painful port accesses… I have seen tears in their eyes more than once. But they keep on moving forward .. Having faith that everything will be beautiful in its time.

Why does this boy just accept all this as necessary?

Because his parents told him that this is the way it has to be. That in the end? In the end being able to see .. will be beautiful.

Does that mean he never asks “why?”

No.

Does that mean he never cries?

No.

Does that mean he never states he doesn’t want to go for more tests?

No.

But he still does.

Jesus tells us that he wants us to have faith like a child.

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (‭Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭17‬ NIV)

I didn’t understand that verse clearly until this year. I didn’t understand it until I watched the faith this child .. This little warrior ..has in his parents.

You see my nephew trusts that his parents know what is best for him. He trusts that this is the best plan because they told him it was. And no matter how much he doesn’t enjoy it, he trusts that his parents know that everything will be perfect in the end.

Is my faith like this child?

Ha.. I wish it was.. I want it to be..

But sometimes my heart cries out “why Father?” Why does my son have to struggle so? Why does my nephew have to suffer these treatments? Why do things happen that make me sad? Why?

Then? Then I always pray that God will take my doubts from me.. Take them so that I can just move forward and know that everything will be good in the end.. So that I can trust that my Heavenly Father knows this is the only way. That my Father knows everything will be Beautiful in the end.

Only when those doubts are replaced by total trust.. Only then will I have faith like a child.

THAT is what I have learned from watching my little warrior.

Don’t go in there..

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My adrenaline was pumping (pretty healthily, I may add) this morning as I drove along the snow covered roads. A couple of the drifted areas were enough to make me hold my breath. By the time I arrived at my kids’ school to drop them off, I was exhausted.

That first snowy drive of the season is always the worst… but after today? After today I will be used to it… Slow and steady will get me there… Slow and steady will keep us safe.

Snowy roads are NOT the roads I dread though.

Nope..

The road conditions I wish I could avoid completely would be fog.

Fog? you ask. (I saw you raise your eyebrow)..

Yes fog!!!

You see snow covered roads make you prepare for battle… You know to leave early… you know to drive slower… no sudden steering changes… no sudden stopping… You basically leave the house with a complete manual on how to win against the snowy road conditions. And?!? And you can see where you are going.. what you are up against.

But with fog?

Yes fog is beautiful!  It is so neat to be able to walk “among the clouds”.. while keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground. It is so cool to run your hands through the heavenly clouds and see what the “heavens” feels like.  You look out the window and those clouds, from the heavens above, give the world around you an unearthly look and feel. It’s eerie and spooky.. but still kind of cool.

But that isn’t why I don’t like to drive in fog… it’s not that it creeps me out.

When you drive in the snow.. you at least have partial visibility of what you are up against. You can be prepared.

With fog?

With fog you have nothing. You don’t leave the driveway with a game plan, a battle manual…

You have no idea what is up ahead… so how can you prepare? Sometimes I pause at the end of my driveway.. take a deep breath… and breathe a prayer to God that I am putting our lives .. and my car in His capable hands. Because to me? To me.. driving in Fog is the ultimate leap of Faith.

It is the ultimate reminder that we are not the ones in control.

Everything can change in the blink of an eye..

Then?!? Then prepared to drive by Faith… I pull my car onto the fog enclosed road.

You know that part in a suspense movie?!? The part where the kids are looking for their lost friend and they know the answer lays down that foggy path to the creepy house? And you are yelling at them NOT TO GO IN THERE.. but still they tiptoe forward.. Tiptoeing in hopes to sneak past any danger.. tiptoeing because their brains are telling them the same thing.. whispering “don’t go in there”, over the loud pounding heartbeats.. Tiptoeing because they don’t want to go down that road at all…

That is what I feel like starting down that foggy road.. “Let’s not do this,” my heart whispers.. “who knows what we will encounter?” and then “what if we aren’t prepared? Maybe we should just stay to home..”

That is where the prayer of Faith comes in…. I simply pray that God takes my doubts away so that I can be prepared to meet what ever curve, puddle, branch, stop or deer God has chosen to be in my path. To not be so wrapped up in the “What if’s” that my mind will be clear for the actually obstacles as they appear through the fog.

A prayer for clear headed faith.. for a drive in Faith….

Fog covered roads are like our future.. all we can see is what is immediately before us.. like the next 15 mins.

We can take care of those 15 mins.. take care of those immediate needs. But beyond that? Beyond that you are operating on faith. You can apply this concept to anything in your life.

Especially parenting.. As you driving along that foggy road of parenting.. with your children safely buckled in the backseat? Here comes a sharp right hand curve.. SPECIAL NEEDS…  Next comes something blocking your path.. branches, water puddle.. or a cow… and you have to stop and clear the path… EMERGENCY SURGERY… Or a detour sign. A sign pointing away from the easy road ahead and telling you to go down the road less travelled by.. SPECIAL DIETS. Or my personal fear.. a washed away road (a cliff)… When you chose the wrong road and now you have to turn your car around.. like when we chose the wrong Meds to treat my son’s mood disorder.

The marriage road is equally foggy.. you could encounter financial difficulties, parenting struggles.. along with finding old baggage in the road ahead….

On your career path you encounter disinterest, promotions, layoffs, new bosses…

YUP.. When you drive on ANY road through life.. it is exactly like that foggy road… You drive it by Faith. You drive knowing that you are not in control.. only God is.

This year I published a book.

Writing has been my whole life.. publishing a book is the ultimate dream. But when I headed down that publishing road?

You guess it…

When I pulled up to the beginning of that fog covered road to publishing a book? I paused.. (Ok.. really I didn’t just pause.. I put my car in park… I got out and walked around to the front of my car… then I knelt down in fear.. staring out into the eerie white clouds blocking my view.  Like if I stared long enough, God would make a break in the fog and let me see the end of the road. But then I got back in my car…) I took a deep breath (or two..)… and breathed a prayer to God to help me trust Him..  A prayer telling God that I was placing my book into his capable hands to do with as He willed.

Was that easy?

Ahhh.. no…

In theory? In theory every Christian will tell you they trust God to steer their life according to His Will. But it is still hard. I want to plead with God to help my book to sell REALLY WELL because I have a message to tell. I want to argue that I believe that girls need to read stories where there are no Fairy Godmothers to smooth over the edges.. no happily ever afters awaiting in the wings… That girls need to see examples of how relationships and marriage are hard work.. acts of faith.. acts of love.. but are completely worth it..

With the financial commitment and the time commitment of publishing looming in the fog? What if God doesn’t want to use my lifetime’s work RIGHT NOW? Or what if He doesn’t want to use it at all? What if I put my best work forward and it isn’t good enough? These are the fears that all of us face.. The fear of the foggy path… HOW WILL THIS END?

SHOULD I GO IN THERE??

..and your heart full of dread whispering to you.. “Don’t do it. Don’t go down that path… it may not be worth it.”

So why would I do it? Why would I get into my car .. and inch down that foggy road? Driving only by Faith alone?

Because of a promise God made me..

A promise God made to all of us…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

This is the promise I have built my world around this year.. The promise that powers my car as I drive down that foggy road.. and it is the promise that I built my book around.

Yes.. Shadows is about Emma’s journey down a foggy road.. a road she travels by Faith… knowing that God has a plan for her.. a plan that she knows NOTHING about.. only that the path will be hard and full of intense emotions and choices… but in the end?  In the end, God’s plan for Emma does not harm her.. it makes her stronger… and it gives her a future. A future full of hope. Not a happily ever after ending! Why? Because there is always another foggy road.. always another walk of Faith..

So if I want my book about taking that first step of Faith.. onto that foggy road.. to succeed??

How can I not take those steps of faith myself?

Be prepared..

IMG_6998Ever since the day my daughter was born, she has proven to be unfailingly … unpredictable. If I thought she would act a certain way, she would always pick the other. If I thought she would do great at something, she would refuse to try. She was SO unpredictable.. it was almost predictable..

As a young mother, I decided I was going to rock my infant daughter to sleep every night (because my wise mother had not allowed us to rock our baby brothers)… At 3 weeks old? At 3 weeks old, my daughter decided she had enough of that. She screamed until I laid her in her bed. She peacefully fell asleep on her own. This pattern continued with having to feed herself.. dress herself.. pick her own clothes. What ever I thought she would choose? She would suddenly chose something else.

I decided early on.. I was going to have to be prepared for anything.

My motto became… BE PREPARED!

I remember one camping trip fondly. My daughter was 2.. and fairer than any child I had ever seen. So I dressed her in a swimsuit.. in case she got wet in the wash tubs again.. or got too close to the water pumps… or “accidentally” spilled her juice on her clothes again. Then I slathered her from head to toe in a strong sunscreen.. that way I wouldn’t have to call out to her to stay in the shade.  Setting her down outside the tent, I then sprayed her with bug spray .. so the mosquitoes wouldn’t carry her away.

With a nod of satisfaction… satisfied that I had been as prepared as I possibly could be.. I turned back into the tent to prepare my second born.. my easy going son.

I had only JUST started dressing my son… when the laughter started. I am not talking about cute giggles. I don’t even mean a short laugh of amusement… This was full blown laughter.. and it was coming from the adults in our camping group. Trying to catch his breath, my husband called out, “Hey honey.. come here a minute… and… and bring the camera.”

Scrambling toward the door… I stepped outside to see my beautiful blond haired child.. covered in black dirt… from head to toe. While I was preparing to protect my daughter’s porcelain complexion, I happened to create the perfect glue. So perfect in fact, that when she laid down and rolled around in that dark sandy black soil? It stuck instantly to her.

And in the middle of that dirt caked face? A beautiful smile…

So I laughed with my family.. and reached for the camera. But I vowed.. I would be better prepared next time.

Then one night, I tucked my second grade daughter into bed.. and reached for the book on her night stand. Startled, I realized it wasn’t the same book that I had been reading to her.. It wasn’t the book I had been reading to her every night for the last week..one chapter at a time.

“Where is the book we were reading yesterday?” I asked her, confused.

“Oh I finished that one .. that is the next one in the series,” she replied nonchalantly.

“You finished it?” I repeated, still confused. “How? We only read chapter 10 last night..”

Taking a deep patient breath, my daughter replied.. “You left off where it was getting good.. I had to know how it would end. So I took it to school today,” she finished with a shrug.

“But we were reading it together,” I stated bewildered.

“You go ahead and finish it,” she encouraged. “But tonight you can start this one.” Pointing to the book I held in my hand.

In that moment? In that moment, I realized I was never going to be fully prepared. I was always going to be surprised by her.

So I decided…

I would go on being prepared.. but I needed to let the control go. Or at least the illusion of control. You see?!?  I never really had control. And I knew that I needed to just let the rest go.. I needed to let the NEED to feel prepared for ANYthing go.. and just lean on faith.

Now that my daughter is a teenager.. YUP.. she is still unpredictable.. But she no longer surprises me every time. We have come to expect her to be unpredictable. Always taking her two choices.. knowing that she will choose the only option we didn’t offer… We have just come to expect it.

So my new motto has become.. BE prepared and leave the rest to God..

This works for me.. most of the time. I still prepare myself for several scenarios… and occasionally I am still surprised by the unexpected. And occasionally? Occasionally, I am unprepared for it.

No matter how many times I talk myself through it? I am always surprised when someone lets me down. When someone that I look up to, behaves in a way I could not predict… in a way that disappoints me… it always takes me by surprise. I have to force myself to give that surprise back to God.. and to lean on faith. Faith that THAT person is dealing with unpredictable surprises of their own. The faith that everyone needs understanding.

It works well.. until the next time.

Recently, my family had something happen.. that none of us were expecting.. and we certainly weren’t prepared.

My youngest brother and his wife have a 3 year old son. Beautiful 3 year old boy.. with a beautiful soul.  As he progressed through his “terrible” 3’s? We, as a family, prepared to help guide the independence.. we prepared to keep a straight face when funny sassafras came out of his independent mouth… we prepared to pretend to be firm when needed. We all want this amazing boy to be the BEST that he can possibly be.. so we prepared to support his parents when needed.

But we prepared for the wrong thing…

My nephew was diagnosed with NF this spring. NF stands for Neurofibromatosis. A genetic disorder that we all believed to be characterized by large birthmarks .. and cyst growth on the skin. Again we prepared.. we prepared to make him feel comfortable in his skin. With these growths.

But again.. we prepared for the wrong thing…

Neurofibromatosis (NF) can cause tumors to grow on nerves… and cysts on bones… and anywhere.. on any organ system in the body.

My nephew? Well this beautiful  3 year old boy has cysts growing on his leg bones.. causing so much pain that he can’t sleep.

We weren’t prepared for that….

Then through a routine eye exam, they found what the specialists knew could happen. A non-cancerous tumor growing on his optic nerve.. behind his eye. Non-cancerous prepares our hearts to not be scared. But in fact, these tumors are too risky to operate on. When left unchecked, a growing tumor can damage his eye sight. The solution?

Chemotherapy.

Our beautiful, sweet, amazing nephew… needs chemotherapy..

We weren’t prepared for that either…

I don’t think anyone could be prepared for that…

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn; and a time to dance;”  Ecclesiates 3:1-4

God has never promised us a perfect life… and it is not even close. But He has given us other promises. Promises to give us strength.. promises that we need not fear what He has planned for us.. promises that all things will make sense someday. And in these verses.. He tells us that after the tears.. there will again be laughter. Sometimes that laughter comes in the middle of the tears.. like a rainbow in the midst of a storm. Sometimes… it’s much later… after the storm is but a memory.

I don’t think we will be able to fully prepare this young boy …or ourselves… for the next 18 months.. But we can definitely try .. The rest? The rest we will have to take on faith. Faith that God will be there and get us through what we aren’t prepared for. That he will get this young boy and his parents through whatever they aren’t prepared for.

I have a feeling that my nephew will be more prepared for his chemotherapy treatments then us adults will be. After all.. he has 2 amazing parents with a deep faith in God. But it is always hard to see a child struggle through hard treatments.

So this week? This week was my time to weep.. and it was my time to break down.

But next week? I am praying that next week will begin the time of healing for my nephew.. and a time for laughter.. and a time to build up .. To build up in preparation for this road we will travel with this beautiful boy.. and his parents..

And in 18 months… I am praying it will be our time to dance…

The year of the locusts…

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Once upon a time.. a long, long time ago… the locust took over…

Actually in truth, it was 1875.. and the worst of the locusts were only there for the summer.  So they should have called it the Summer of the locusts. (Just my opinion, of course..)

During this Summer of the locusts.. Farmers watched their fields of mature crops get eaten to the ground by black “clouds” of these locusts. A locust is just a grasshopper, right?!? Such a simple insect.. seemingly harmless on it’s own. But in clouds of 1000’s? Clouds that took five DAYS to fly over towns on the prairie? Five days that they blocked out the sun. In these clouds, the locusts took everything… Crops, leaves from trees, clothes hanging on lines, ax handles, fence posts… everything…

A tiny insect most often no longer than an inch and a half.. brought farmers to their knees.

If the locusts had just eaten all the clothes on the line.. the farmers may not have lost their farms.  If they had just eaten the ax handles, the animals may not have faced starvation.  If they had simply ate the crops.. the farmers may not have had to seek shelter with family elsewhere… But these small insects ate everything in their path.

Some of these farmers did give up. Total loss of faith. And I have to admit I can see why… Knowing your children have no clothes.. no food for tomorrow.. no way to chop wood to cook with… nothing to feed your cattle.. the cattle you were fattening up for market.  With NO WAY to support your family? Yes.. I can easily see why they would pack their families up and move on.

And still… many farmers did not give up.

Maybe their losses weren’t as severe. Maybe it hadn’t been wash day for them.. maybe their sheets, towels and extra clothes were safely tucked inside. Maybe little “Johnny” had remembered to take care of the ax and the rakes… sparing their handles.  Maybe they had already put up a supply of hay before the locusts came. There is no way for me to know for sure if the severity of their losses affected their decision to stay put.. and to have faith…

But have faith they did.  Many farmers picked themselves up and replanted their crops in June. Not knowing if the crops would even grow in the typically dry, hot months… Going on nothing but faith.. they re-planted. And hoped…

They were gifted with unexpected rains that summer and their crops flourished. Their immense faith was rewarded.

  “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten– the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm– my great army that I sent among you.” Joel 2:25 NIV

What a great promise that God gave His faithful followers… Those who showed faith and replanted.. God repaid them their lost crops. Those who lost their faith.. those who packed up their hungry families and moved on? They moved on– empty handed.

How could they have such faith? Faith placed in a God who admits that HE “sent” the great army “among them”? How can faith withstand that statement? There could be many reasons.. but to me? To me there is another promise that stands out in God’s Word.. A promise that echoes with comfort for me..

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also placed ignorance in the human heart, so that no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

Why locusts?

On this beautiful fall day, why am I writing about locusts?

After weeks of not typing a word.. why are my first words about locusts?

It’s simple… this was my Summer of Locusts.

Now it is true I have quite a few grasshoppers in my garden.. but my locusts don’t really jump around and eat tomato plants.

This year has been long months of trials after trials… you know how it goes…. A screw in your brand new car tire.. unexpected expenses.. sickness.. medical mysteries… teenage “stages”… disrupted plans.. squash bug invasions.. a fungus killing off half your garden… delays.. watching a child suffer… and funerals.

As I watch the world around me.. I see that I am not the only one suffering from Locusts. A young family buried their newborn..  A beautiful soul called out for prayers as her father slowly left this world.. My whole family grieved when my uncle was unexpectedly called home.. a beloved sister in law lost both of her parents within months of each other and watching a young nephew suffer.

Oh yes.. we have all had a Summer of Locusts…

And what have we done?

What have I done?

I hate to admit it.. but my Locusts brought me to my knees.  I am the farmer who collapsed to her knees in the dirt. Shocked as I looked out at the destruction left behind. Helpless in that moment.. speechless against the pain.. but not hopeless. I held that hope tightly in my hands.. fearing if I loosened my grasp that I would lose it completely.

As I looked around.. among what remained.. I saw things out of place with the grief.. things out of place with the sadness and stress.. Little things. Little things that show God’s promise to repay our losses. I watched my daughter use her voice.. her gift from God.. to comfort others. I watched people step forward to share stories of how my Uncle touched their lives.  I watched my parents tearfully give their beloved brother into God’s care. I watched with pride as my little brother fought through his grief and sang song after song with me in my Uncle’s hospital room… singing through tears and choked voices. Even through my tears and shock, I could see the Blessings God was repaying.. my book successfully being published.. a letter from our new exchange student.. watching my nieces and nephews display love and comfort to others.. watching them grow into their beautiful souls… and feeling the love and support all around me.

So I pulled myself to my feet.. wiped my tears and began picking up the pieces.  But I still clung to that hope. Holding it tightly in my hands lest it fall apart too..

“When are you going to write again?” my niece asked me one day. And then she asked it again the following day.. and the day after that.  She might as well have been asking me, “When are you going to loosen your grasp on your hope? When are you going to trust it? Plant it in the ground .. and with a little faith.. watch it grow…”

I think I will…

I think I just did…

..and in the end… it will be beautiful…

That still small voice…

reflectionsI have always believed that the “still small whisper” in your mind is God trying to guide you along the path he has chosen for you. I try to listen for it, I do… When I hear more than 1 reference to a topic, I research it.. When I get a strong feeling to call someone I do.. When I meet with obstacle after obstacle on a self-chosen path in my life, I start to wonder if God means for me to go in a different direction. My whole life could be described as “Looking for the Signs”… But I like to say I listen for God all around me.

Sometimes, my head is so full of thinking or worrying.. even while praying.. that I forget to empty my thoughts and listen. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10)… I am really good at knowing who my God is.. the Being Still part I get rusty on. So God sends Megaphones into my life.

For example.. I’ve had 3 separate people this week tell me to get out of my warm house and warm car, to GET a library card. NOW, my family LOVES the library. But both times we went to get a card, there were obstacles.. so it got shuffled to the end of my to-do list.. But after 3 distinct messages? I call that a Megaphone. So Simon and I went to the Library yesterday. He was so happy. I didn’t realize how much he missed it.

I have a few friends that are regularly used for Megaphones in my life. God uses one particular friend the most often.. why this one in particular you ask? Because God KNOWS that I love to hit the snooze button. What is a snooze button in life you ask? You know, “I am busy right now, I will think about that later.” SNOOZE “That is going to take some time to accomplish, I will schedule time next week.” SNOOZE… or my favorite, “I think you have the wrong number.” SNOOZE

My favorite Megaphone? Well let’s just say God let her in on my “snooze” life style.. so she is very persistent. “I think you should blog,” she says. “Here is a blog on why you should blog,” she says. “Here is a blog on HOW to get started with blogging,” she says. So I FINALLY get it. I hear God’s voice through the Megaphone of my sweet friend’s persistent voice. But still I say.. I don’t have time today.. maybe next week.. So what does GOD say?? “Have a snow day! Will that give you enough time?” (SILENCE) Should be plenty God, thanks..

So I need to make “Being still” more of a priority in my life. I need to spend a portion of my time, not just reading my daily devotional, that is zapped to my phone for my convenience.. but being still. Letting my body be still. Letting my tongue be still. Letting my thoughts be still.

I think I will start tomorrow. Because today God used a Megaphone, and I will be setting up my blog..