Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Pretty Good Tree Putter Upper



A single uttered word melted away years of feeling inadequate about my Christmas decorating abilities.

As usual I spent the weekend after Thanksgiving not shopping, but decorating for Christmas. Hubs had pulled the huge box that holds our fake tree down from the attic and it waited for me in the garage.

The yellow string that held the box closed was tied too tightly and I gave up untangling it and managed to slowly push and pull it the length of the box. Looking inside at the piled up branches I considered closing the box up again. They are heavy and dusty and make my hands feel awful. Hubs is at work and like most years if we are going to have a tree it will have to be erected by me.

I close the box and go back in the house. I don't really need to do this today. Could always put up a little table tree this year since I am busier than usual. Needing some music I click on Pandora and scroll to the Christmas Music section. Opening the linen closet I grab an old sheet (well they are all old) and spread it out on the family room floor near the corner I have cleared for the tree. I drag the long box from the garage to the family room.

An hour later the branches are sorted on the sheet and the bottom half is in place ready for the other three layers to be added. Humming about a little drummer boy, I struggle to add the branches and connect the lights that are supposedly built-in and "simple to set up". The dark sections require another set of lights after I search the house for the right extension cord.

Next comes the big blue tub full of ornaments. The step ladder helps me start at the top with the littlest decorations and a dust rag to wipe off the stored gold balls. At this point I am remembering the fun tree decorating nights we used to have with the boys. We made hot chocolate, watched Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer while choosing which ornaments go where.

I'm wishing I could do this faster and be done, but cannot make myself do it without care. I just can't. I am decorating less and less every year. The boxes are still full of trinkets, ribbons, greenery and ceramic churches that light up. Not sure why I should be giving myself more work to do in an already busy time of year.

But out come the favorite nativity scenes and the stockings sewn by my mom for each of us. The new string of lights that are battery operated are added to the door wreath and it makes me smile as I step out onto the driveway to see how it looks.

Then two days later my two year old grandson enters the house and walks all the way down the entry way with his eyes huge and finger pointed at the tree at the other end of the house. He goes right up to the Christmas tree and breathes out "Whoa!!" as if it is the grandest thing he's ever seen. My son and I are behind him and I say, "OK that makes it all worth it."

I get on my knees next to Grandson in front of the tree and we have a little talk about looking with our eyes and not our hands. He is still transfixed and nods in agreement.

And I feel like Super Woman. Or at least a pretty good tree putter upper.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!



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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Letting My Smile Be My Guide


Final page.

I stepped out onto the porch in my fuzzy white bathrobe this morning where Hubs was having a pipe. I carried my new prized possession, a refurbished and beautiful iPad Air. With surprise in my voice I said, "I think I'm falling in love with a red one!"

I'd been shopping online for a cover for this first big purchase with my paycheck from my new job. He laughed because I had been saying that I wanted a black cover because it made more sense. But every time I saw the red cover online it made me smile, and I was deciding that a smile makes more sense than making sense. 

For some reason this feels like it connects to the fact that I am dreading filling out the final page of the journal I have been pouring my heart into for the last few years. 

May have something to do with identity and how I thought we would find it once and for all in "old age", but I keep surprising myself lately. I keep recalculating and finding myself going in an entirely different direction than planned. This thought makes me happy and excited...but also scared and reluctant to let go of the past. 

The first words in this old green journal say, "It feels unreal that Mom passed away 19 days ago. I wake up each morning to sadness that it is still true. Six weeks from her diagnosis to her death was not enough to adjust to its reality."

Why don't I want to close the last page on a journal that heard my pain about death, serious job loss, an awful motorcycle accident and food stamps? Five years of deep loss and severe self-doubt that sent me spinning spiritually and emotionally.

I was slow to write in this last journal. Weeks slipped by between entries, sometimes even months. The span of this journal is longer than any other I have used over the years. I do not like to journal when I am unhappy or depressed or lost. Some pages will be about my confusion and prayers that consist of the words, "Help me God, please." Then it begins to feel useless and empty and I let the journal collect dust next to my bed. 

But this journal ends with happy entries about the cutest and brightest grandson in the world being added to our family, writing my book and my new job as a preschool teacher. The grandkid and the job have changed my life DRAMATICALLY! I do not even recognize my life anymore!

Which brings us back to the first paragraph up there. Who is this lady who would choose a bright red iPad cover over the more sensible black? The church lady who always did the correct thing at the correct time for the correct reasons seems to be lost. Maybe it's just an age thing. Passing 60 makes one decide that a smile is better advice than common sense. (Oh I like that! You can quote me on that one!)

I am ready to close that sad journal and move on to the new one that waits for me with fresh white pages. This new chapter will include stories about my silly 2 year old grandson, more silly stories about the ten 2 year olds that I teach and this unrecognizable and busy life that fills me with joy. 

I'm a writer, a teacher, a Jesus lover, a devoted wife, grandma, mother and mother-in-law. My identity is fluid. Waiting for it all to make sense is senseless. 


Letting a smile guide me in my decisions is my earned wisdom. 


New journal! This makes me smile too.


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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Can A Two Day Job Be A Big Deal?



My Facebook Feed is now a confusing mixture of writer websites and preschool education websites. The same thing has happened to my email inbox. I have never thought of myself as an obsessed person regarding any certain subject, but it does appear to be a trait that is showing up. 

When I told my sister that I was starting a job as a preschool teacher after leaving preschool work 30 years ago, she said that it will be interesting to watch because I always do things "all the way." This surprised me. My mom was the one in the family who went crazy for certain things and did it with all her might. So once again I am seeing her in myself...an odd feeling still.

This new "little" job has drastically changed my life. In a very good way. I teach 12 adorable two-year-olds along with a co-teacher. Our school only meets two days a week from 9am to 2pm. Sounds like a LITTLE job huh? 

It is not a little job at all.

Last night I was trying to describe my work days to my husband. I used the word "fragile" to explain the atmosphere in our classroom at all times. These little people have never been to school before, some have never been in a church nursery or daycare. Mommy dresses them in the morning, fills a backpack with extra clothes and a yummy lunch and then they drive to school and MOMMY LEAVES THEM THERE! 


The first 30 minutes in class is most often very loud. Some of the munchkins arrive, wave good-bye happily and find a toy to play with until the first Circle Time. BUT a few are always SHOCKED that Mom or Dad would walk away without them and they cry and cry. The brave ones begin to watch the criers and you can see their little brains working on the question; Why are they crying? Maybe I should be crying. Maybe this place is not a fun as I think it is. The teacher says that Mommy will be back for us after nap time, but is that true or not? 

We have learned how to help the fearful ones and every day is getting better. They are getting braver and as my partner teacher says, "They are learning US while we are learning them." It is not a little job because we are responsible for 12 human being's very first introduction to school and education. We might be setting the tone for the rest of their lives as they go in and out of classrooms for the next 13 or 14 years. (Hopefully the crying will stop somewhere along the line.)

The job is not a little one because once you are in that room with 12 wiggly, giggly, tearful kids, you have to be at least one step ahead of them at all times or chaos erupts. PREPARATION is survival! Ha! Just getting them from the classroom to the playground is like herding cats. Even while singing "Choo-choo Train" and helping them hold on to a long purple ribbon to keep them in "line." "Too fast, too slow, oops she's tangled up her legs, hey the train is leaving you!"

Story Time involves legs in the air, wandering kids, random information about the dog next door to their house and snotty noses rubbing against your knees. So far Music Time looks like two crazy ladies dancing and singing with all their might while 24 eyes stare in fascination. When one actually begins to join and clap along we get so excited that we probably scare them into stunned silence. 

So this "little job" requires lots of prep time at home. Writing Lesson Plans, getting library books to read, practicing crafts and cutting out construction paper by the truckload, watching videos of songs to teach them, trying to get this old brain to memorize poems and cute ways to grab their attention. 

Once school started my phone began pinging at all hours. Hubs asked what in the world was happening! The other teachers are all amazing new friends of mine now and we are constantly sharing ideas for the classrooms and helping one another out. 

The writer-life was quiet and alone. I found myself circling around my house wishing to be anywhere else. I love to write and will always be a writer, but a writer needs a life to write about. I desperately longed to get out and be with people here in my new home of Texas. 

I feel like a different person. The new friendships are a direct answer to the prayer of my heart. I have a new purpose and it has awoken a fun creativity in me. The added income is small but it is mine and that is a lovely thing. Truthfully, I would do this job for free, but don't tell my Director that, OK? (Author update: Actually this job is MUCH harder than I expected and I am earning every penny I make!) Still love it though!

The little 2 day a week job is not what I expected at this point in life. I've sold shoes, taught preschool, directed children's churches, co-pastored churches, helped create and lead an adult Bible School, written countless articles and personal blog posts and business blog posts, authored a book and now I am back to the preschool classroom. It's a big deal and huge answer to a prayer that I never even prayed. 

God put me in this busy little classroom with 12 extremely busy tiny humans. I will love on them, wipe their noses, set up messy art projects and just be a safe and accepting place for them two days a week from 9am to 2pm. 



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Monday, September 5, 2016

Sparkly Shoes for the First Day of School!



YOU GUYS! Tomorrow, Tuesday the 6th of September is my FIRST DAY of my brand new job as a preschool teacher!! I never thought I would return to this fun and crazy creative job after 30 years (Ack!!) away from it, but here I go. 

Just now I discovered these super sparkly red shoes in the back of my closet. I bought them a few years ago because they made me smile (and they were on a deep sale) but I doubt I've worn them more than twice. NOW they will be perfect with the RED version of our school T-Shirt, and that makes me giggle. Gonna wear my sparkly shoes tomorrow!! And the dangly BUTTERFLY earrings pictured below because my class are (is?) called THE BUTTERFLIES! 


This new chapter at the age of 61 is kind of shocking to me actually. But it feels like this was set up by God just for me at exactly this time. The school is on the other side of the little forest behind our house, THREE MINUTES drive! You know how much I hate driving around here, so Yay God, thank you! 

The school is only two days a week at this point, so I still get to watch my grandson the other two days a week with Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. This is a HUGE change of lifestyle for me, the almost HERMIT since moving to Texas two years ago. 

And that's the other part that is AWESOME! The other teachers and director are wonderful people. I am so happy and excited to be around them. We have gone through 4 days of training together, cleaned and decorated our classrooms and lunched together, even shopped together already. My phone has not stopped pinging with texts in the last few weeks! Love them! 

I met our students  at Open House last week and they are so adorable and funny. I cannot wait to get to know them well. I've been praying for them as they make this HUGE step outside the safe bubble of home and begin the school chapter of their lives. ALSO been praying for NO major Separation Anxiety issues tomorrow!! (Praying for mommies too.)

The Butterflies are the youngest of the whole preschool and for some this will be the first time to be away from family for a whole day. (9am to 2pm) I feel the weight and responsibility to not only keep them safe but to make this first step into education, one that will cause them to love learning for the rest of their lives. We will be teaching them about colors, shapes, letters and numbers, but also about kindness, confidence and acceptance. As far as I'm concerned, the NUMBER ONE lesson will be God loves you because He designed you just the way you are!

My heart is full tonight. God has ordered my steps into this new chapter even when I had no clue that this was in my future. I am thankful and excited and a little bit scared. Which is much better than bored and lost. Thank you God! 

Pray for me tomorrow you guys, Thanks

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hope You Win the GIVEAWAY BUNDLE!



Hi Friend! I am hoping that you have just hopped over here after visiting Dawn's fun blog Enthusiastically Dawn. That woman is amazing to me and makes me tired just thinking about all of her crazy projects, ideas and creative endeavors. 

Dawn offered to set up a super generous GIVEAWAY BUNDLE that includes my recently published book, WALKING BUTTERFLY and I was thrilled to be part of the prize package!! My book is one of four beautiful items in the bundle and I want them all! 

Dawn and I met here online through our blogs several years ago. I lived in California then and she is on the opposite coast. We felt connected by our mutual love of writing. If you know her, you KNOW she is an avid journal keeper. She even teaches classes about journal keeping. My journal-love has kept me sane for many years. 

Dawn is also very good at encouraging the people around her to do their dream. To go for it. We became writing accountability partners through Skype, texting and Facebook Messenger. She pushed and prodded me to finish my book once I told her that I had a dream to be published. This year it happened.

This last February my first book, WALKING BUTTERFLY was published and made available on Amazon. It is the story of God's relentless desire to convince me of His love. I was peddling hard to earn the love I already had. It all began when He showed me a picture of a butterfly walking down the sidewalk with matching shoes and purse. Dragging behind her were a pair of GLORIOUS WINGS! She did not realize she had everything she needed to rise up and soar.

Each chapter begins with a true story of His pursuit of me and then the chapter ends with a section called "YOUR TURN" where we talk about what the message means for you in your life. The chapters are short and to the point and as Dawn described it, could be used as a DEVOTIONAL. 

Thanks for coming by and I hope YOU win the gorgeous GIVEAWAY BUNDLE! If you haven't entered the contest just go HERE and get in on the fun!! 


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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Choose Your Embarrassment

I am enjoying the olympic swimming competitions very much. Especially when I discovered that my new swimsuit (pictured here...and no you're not getting a real photo of me in it) is not a "granny suit" as I've been calling it, but an almost olympic style competition swimsuit. Look at how much material we both use! Practically the same!

A few months ago while swimsuit shopping I kept seeing these swim dresses in the stores and I just could not make myself try them on. So much flowering stretchy material! They screamed "OLD LADY" from the hangers. 


But I was also very tired of feeling over exposed in a normal suit. I would add shorts but it was not a flattering look for me at all. 

Then I tried this granny suit on and I was won over. So comfortable with wide straps and best of all...no tugging on the seat for coverage every time you breathed. I had a pool party for 18 people recently and not once did I worry about holding my breath or sticking my fingers under my suit to keep my butt covered! 

Yes, my new suit would pass the fingertips must touch your hemline rule of my youth. It could easily be mistaken for a little summer dress worn by a 20 something. Except for the stretchy material and the built-in underwear. 

I realized that I have to choose my embarrassment. Do I want to be embarrassed by an uncomfortable suit that I have to hold my breath in and must keep pulling up and down and every which way? Or do I want to be embarrassed by wearing a granny swim dress? I chose the comfy swim dress and it feels so great that I am no longer bothered by the granny-ness of it. 

And I am a granny! But you know what I mean. And mine is even shorter than the olympic swimmers wear! 

So my message today for you is: Choose your embarrassment and then just go for it. 

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Brain Bugs and a Box of Kittens


"Are you okay Sooz?" Husband asks and I tell him I'm fine and ask why. "Because you keep taking these deep breaths all the time." He is (understandably) very wary of my health since I had a mini stroke in 2014. 

"I am fine Honey. I guess I am taking deep breathes when I'm fighting negative thoughts, you know." Oops, I really need to work on doing my inward battle a bit more inwardly. 

It's a continuous war, isn't it? The dark and judgmental thoughts that pull us down even when our life can look oh-so-pretty on Facebook or Instagram. The day after my last post, I reread it with objectivity and thought it sounded like this lucky lady was on vacation or enjoying a lovely retirement of relaxation. 

When the reality is not like that at all. I tried to capture and share with you some sweet moments that are important to me. Not because they are normal, but because they are special and probably temporary. My life schedule is on the verge of a few huge changes and leisurely mornings by the pool will be a Happy Thought to keep me flying like Peter Pan.

God and I have worked together for years to re-train my brain. My default thought patterns are an ugly tangled up mess that you do not want to read about. It is an ongoing battle that we are fighting for me. Many of you are fighting this inward battle also. You know what it is to pace around an empty (or crowded) home and wish you were anywhere else but there. You understand catching yourself obsessing about the tiniest negative and watching it grow into a monster. My deep breaths are sounds of war.

A sweet little book called WALKING BUTTERFLY says it this way..."Taking our thoughts captive requires strength and determination. It can be a little bit like trying to keep a dozen kittens inside a box with no lid. As you are grabbing one, another will escape. As quickly as one takes off, you must pull it back where it belongs. It takes constant surveillance and purpose. But if we can create a new pathway of freedom, it is worth the work." Page 143

This morning I texted a friend while in tears about one of these "escaping kittens". She beautifully asked me if I was letting the enemy make a hockey puck of my heart. (I just went back to my texts to quote her just right!) Yep, there is an enemy that thinks it is hilarious to get all up in our business and mess with our minds, hearts and emotions. 

Want a Bible verse about this?

Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (physical) but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds (bad thoughts), casting down arguments and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV

My friend's reminder was helpful and true. She pulled me back into the truth and away from the precipice of despair. Sounds dramatic, right? Well, I was feeling dramatic and my heart was broken. She gave me some good advice to go with this reminder and I am thankful for friendship and modern technology. :) 

I am currently watching a ridiculous new show called "Brain Dead". It's about politicians who are doing things completely out of character because of a tiny mysterious bug that has crawled up into their brains through their ears and it has eaten away the part of the brain that provides balance. I know, stupid and kinda gross, right? (But wouldn't it explain SO MUCH right now? AND I am not recommending this show to you at all. Last time I did that, the show turned a nasty corner and I regretted mentioning it.) 

These people do not know that they are believing lies. They are making life and government choices based on ideas that are not their own. Feels familiar somehow. We have an enemy who will whisper lies into our ears and the words make sense and we breath them in and begin to repeat them to ourselves until the lies feel completely true. This is called a stronghold in the spiritual world. 

The deep breathing that scared my husband was really evidence of me making a decision to expel the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ideas. Positive truth to fight the negative lies...even though at first the lies sound more real than the truth. Make sense? It takes determination to keep replacing the garbage with goodness. To keep grabbing kittens and getting them back in the box. (So MANY mixed metaphors!)

Reminding myself that I am loved by God. Reminding you that we are all learning and growing and no one has won the battle yet. You will see the highlights of lives online because they are highlights. Even the amazing stories in the Bible are simply the most spectacular moments in the lives of ordinary people trying to figure life out. 

Fighting the battle. 

Catching the kittens. 

Ignoring the ear-worms. Ick.

Taking thoughts captive and being the boss of your brain. 

God loves me today even when I mess up and believe stuff that is not true. Yay, I am SO GLAD, because it happens a lot! 

If He loves me, then I know for sure that He loves you too!


Being Loved,
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Saturday, July 30, 2016

A New Morning Ritual...

My communion bench.

The past 8 out of 10 mornings have gone exactly like this...

I'm sitting under my patio umbrella dripping water through the yard chair and forcing Layla to move from her shady spot under the chair to somewhere not quite so drippy. For a supposedly water-loving dog breed, she hates being wet. 

Other than looking at my grandson, this is my new HAPPY PLACE. Especially in the early morning. I have learned that poolside in Texas must be enjoyed before 11am. By Noon it is too hot to be outside, even in the water. Had no idea it could ever be too hot to swim, but in hot weather states it happens. 

I wake up in the mornings and hit the ON switch for my coffee and sit outside until I hear it beep that the lovely brown delight is ready for me. Then my coffee and I slip into the water and I sigh in pleasure. Every. Single. Time. Cannot help it. 

There is a little ledge or bench at the deep end where I perch while looking at the trees in the tiny forest behind my home. And I sip my coffee. Waiting to wake up. I say hello to God and choose not to think about all the millions of things that worry and bother me. 

After a bit I sit my coffee cup on the edge of the pool and I do my laps back and forth from one end to the other in this small pool until my heart is pounding, then I try to do a few more. I also try to see how long I can tread water, building up my time and endurance each day. Treading water with just my arms and then with just my legs...ouch! 

Now come the best moments; I lean back and float, staring at the clear blue sky. But my sky is seldom empty. There are two sets of flight pattern above me. The near by airport provides an almost constant path of planes traveling from Dallas to everywhere. 

Closer still are the dragonflies. I love floating on my back and watching them watch me. They hover closer and closer, full of curiosity I suppose. Dragonflies live over a year so it could be the same ones visiting me every day, I don't know. I love them. A second one will come and they will fight over me, "No, she's mine!" Who knows, maybe they are making love and not war, which is always preferable. 

Out here on the water it feels like my communion time. It seems holy and sacred early in the morning like this. I keep getting back in the water and do not want to get out and join the grown-up world out there. My fingers are wrinkled and still I float and swim back and forth. In the water I am light, flexible and beautiful. I can fly, tumble, splash and dive deep. 

It is time to go inside and fry up some bacon and eggs for my Love. 

But still I float.

Maybe brunch instead of breakfast today. 

I also write in my journal before going in and you just read a page.





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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Authentic About Fear of Being Authentic





Want authenticity? Here is mine. I am thinking that I may be done with blogging. It is just too scary out there. The internet has become a mean and frightening place. I have struggled to write since getting my book published. 

Every time I jot down a fun or challenging or uplifting post idea, the second guessing begins. Who could be offended by this? Who might take my words wrong accidentally? Who might take my words and twist them on purpose? No one is safe. If people are being mean and rude to the Chewbacca Mom of all people, then who in the world is safe??

Famous? Well known, popular? I used to think it would be great. Now it is a negative and dangerous place to desire. As I type these words, I am thinking that you may be thinking I am big headed to even worry about such a possibility. 

See?

I still enjoy the writing process. I love switching this word for that word. I can get lost in exploring an entirely new way to say something. I have ideas. I will always fill journals, but have even begun wondering how to destroy that authenticity before I die. 

I have thoughts, worries and fears that cannot be shared. And when I know that, it makes it difficult for me to write anything. Why add more drivel to the mess already floating around out there? 

Every word I wrote in my book is true. It is not drivel. God showed me wonderful truths about Himself and about myself. But I have learned that you can conquer one or two important obstacles in your life and still be a mess. You can still be afraid. You can still be very aware that you are not an expert about anything. I told my husband the other day that I think I need to read my own book again. 

I have loved the Internet. I have been seriously addicted to Facebook and Instagram. Seriously. But they no longer feel safe for my heart. You never know when some unknown person is going to be "called out" online for a few words they have posted. Jobs, lives, marriages and health have been damaged for a few stupid word choices. 

I'm not leaving FB or Instagram or Twitter or..... Don't even know how to do that. I don't. 

So I'm in a pickle. Right? 

I am thinking/writing out loud here. Probably not a good idea. But when I feel stuck this is how I get unstuck. Writing out loud. 

You do not need an answer for me. I am not asking for help. But I am just being authentic about being afraid to be authentic. 
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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Don't Should On Me



WALKING BUTTERFLY available on amazon.com


Over the last few years I've had a handful of people ask me for a copy of an article or blog I wrote titled "Don't Should On me". I had another request today and could not find that particular blog post. So I am posting the entire chapter from my book WALKING BUTTERFLY with the same title. Enjoy and feel free to share if you care to. 


Excerpt from WALKING BUTTERFLY 
Chapter 9 - Don't Should On Me

I was raised in the church, my family attended services twice on Sundays, every Wednesday night and any other time that stuff was happening. Our church was like a wonderful extended family and I loved the way it became a warm and comfortable social circle for me.

The center of that circle was the shared desire to serve God in all areas of our lives. We were taught to read our Bibles everyday, attend church as much as possible and spend time in prayer everyday. As a teen I can remember starting one Bible-reading system after another, marking my calendar with my self-assigned Bible passage to read that day. I would open my highlighted pink Bible and some days it seemed alive as the words on the page fit exactly what I needed that day. But I also had many days when the words meant nothing to me and made no sense or were just so boring I had to literally force myself to finish so I could mark the section off on my calendar. This manner of “serving God” came with me into my adult life.

Though this training was well-intentioned, it planted the idea that I needed to earn my way into God’s heart. If I missed a day of reading or praying I felt guilty and was constantly feeling that I did not, and could not measure up as a real Christian. An illustration that was often used, compared our relationship with God to a lover’s relationship and asked us why we can’t wait to spend time with or read letters from our lover, yet we put off spending time with God. The inference was that if we really, truly loved God it would be easy and natural to read our Bibles and spend time in prayer everyday. That thought brings heaviness to me even now as I write this.

Haven’t we all heard Christians around us talking about how they don’t read the Bible enough? How often do we hear Christians complain about not spending enough time in prayer? But what would we call an earthly relationship if the partner kept track of all your days of not spending time with him and held it against you? If you walked around with guilt and fear due to your lack of reading his letters or calling him on the phone often enough? Wouldn’t we call that an abusive relationship?

Playing golf on Sunday, going fishing or staying home to watch the game on TV were all evidence of falling away from God or “backsliding”. Can’t you just picture God up there checking the Sunday morning roll sheet? I am intentionally not mentioning the specific denomination because I believe this mindset of earning God’s love is seen in a general way in almost all types of organized religion.

For the last few years God has been showing me a brand new way of looking at him and the relationship between the two of us. For me the “Good News” is not just about Jesus dying on the cross for my sins. The Good News is that when He said “It is finished” it was FINISHED! Any kind of striving or working to dutifully “serve” Him because I owe it to Him is not a love relationship. Striving and working fall under the “should” category and God does not “should” on me.

To make myself read the Bible everyday to gain points with Him is silly because He has already awarded me all the points available. It is finished! I don’t need to grovel or do penance for my mess-ups, I am forgiven. All I do is get up, brush myself off and bask in how much He already loves me. This new picture of God is more fun and freeing in everything I do. He loves creativity and adventure and exploration and variety. Can you imagine how a God like that must get pretty bored in some of our church services? Do you ever get bored there? Be honest now.

The God-relationship I enjoy now includes us doing chores together, driving together and watching movies in one another’s company. He even did a Val Kilmer impression for me once! Really! What would you do if you heard that and you knew it was God? Yah that’s what I did, I laughed out loud and couldn’t wait to tell the others what I had heard!

This is not the same god who “shoulds” on people! Whenever I hear myself saying the “should” word to others or to myself, it becomes high-lighted like the spell-check on my laptop. I stop and re-examine what I am saying or thinking. Am I agreeing to be on that committee because I want to or because I should? God may not be impressed with or even affected by my service to Him that is done dutifully because “someone” had to do it. I have been surprised at how the world did not come to a sudden halt when I “failed” to do what I “should”. What freedom that brings!

I believe the church leaders of the past had good intentions. They insisted we do our Christian disciplines because that’s how they were trained and how they lived. But that is also why so many Christians in the past looked and sounded burnt out and angry when they preached. That is not the life I live. Mine is joyful, surprised and full of pleasure and delight most of the time. The God I love is full of goodness and kindness! I could tell many stories about both giving and receiving “shoulds” after being in vocational ministry for over 25 years. But I will end with this: Should happens, but not to me if I can help it!

You and I now live in a culture that glorifies the “problem” of being too busy. Social media articles, status updates and real life friends who gather together, seem to spend a great deal of time complaining about their overly busy lives. In reality they are bragging about being too busy, as if it is a good problem. As if it is evidence of the good life and success.

The truth is that an over-packed life is not a healthy life. A crammed-full calendar could actually be symptomatic of allowing others to “should” on you. It might be time to list your activities and get ruthless about eliminating the items that do not give you joy or fulfillment. Ask yourself why you agreed to lead the Bible Study or Kids’ Church once a month. Yes, “they” needed the help, but it is important for you to ration your energy and passion in the best way possible for you and your family.

In any normal church or organization there are a few people who do everything and a lot of people who do very little. It is time to spread the opportunities out for others to pick up. There is someone in your group who needs and wants to be contributing more. This is the chance to leave an opening for them to step into. If you have volunteer jobs that have lost the fun, it is time to let them go. Do not allow someone else’s “should” get all over you. Step away from the “should”.

Father, I thank you for the gifts you’ve given me. I want to use them to the best of my ability and bring glory to You in their use. I do not want to be filling holes that You did not design me to fill. Forgive me for falling into the temptation to glorify myself by taking jobs that were not meant for me in the first place. Please help trim down my TO DO list and cross out the items that You did not choose for me. I will trust You in this difficult task. Let me see what You see for me. Thank you Father.
Amen Pin It          Like this? Don't forget to SHARE...

Monday, July 11, 2016

I Have A Listed Life #21dayjij

My Writing Prompt for today is LISTS. This subject is easy for me because my life is and has always been listed. My poor Hubs is now accustomed to various lists scattered around our home. 

When I was a busy working lady, some serious panic would happen if I lost sight of my DAY TIMER. My life in all of its various categories was stuffed inside that leather binder, often in list form. HOME - CHURCH - OFFICE - SCHOOL - PERSONAL. This is why I cannot get too excited about one of my friend's obsession with planners. It looks and sounds like the same thing I used to carry around years ago. Sorry Dawn. :) 



Then I began to notice at staff meetings that my co-workers were slowly replacing their Day Timers with Blackberrys and eventually I did too. I still miss that sweet thing!! Lists were my Blackberry's main ingredient. Loved my Blackberry!



Party at MY house! Yay!

Now the lists around my house are about interesting books to check out at the library, how to move a book from print to digital and what has to happen between now and this Saturday's party at my house. 

Oh and shopping lists!? I must have one or I feel totally lost and frustrated. Even though I basically buy all the same stuff from week to week with very little variation. When I was a young mom I even typed and printed up a general shopping list to check off each week. And yes, my list was set up according to the store layout. Of course!


MUST offer my book in digital form soon! Ack!

Listing gives my mind a rest. It lets me know that I do not have to depend upon my memory. And oh the glory of checking stuff off the list! We all love that, don't we? Please admit with me that you have added stuff you've already done to a list so that you could check it off. Just me? Oh well.



This is the book list in my wallet. Oops,
I seem to have shared cute pics of Grandson in there too!
Linking up with 21 Day Journaling In July.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

My Furry Friend #21dayjij

Minutes after Adorable Grandson leaves.

My writing prompt for today is about our furry friends and my closest furry friend is definitely my dog Layla. She is difficult to capture in photographs as all black dogs are, but these 3 pics show her current life pattern.




Layla is kept on the move when Adorable Grandson is here twice a week for 8 hours. I used to worry about her hurting the munchkin but now it's the other way around. Adorable Grandson is not intentionally mean but he wants to hug her and thinks it is hilarious to try to hold her stubby little tail. She is not crazy about either activity but she stands there and tries to lick his face until she can slink away to her open crate in another room.


Five minutes after grandson left today. Pooped!
Adorable Grandson just left and Grandma has no more energy for a better post than this today. Think I'm going to join Layla on the floor for a bit. 

21 days of Journaling In July
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Play Doh Under My Fingernails #21dayjij

Cars on the window-sill is serious work.
I have a confession to make. I have blue play doh under my fingernails, and it is happening much more often as a grandma than it ever did as a mommy. 

You will typically find me on the floor two days out of every week. My grandson is almost 2 and we have a blast together every week. I got to watch him learn to walk, run and now, well, now both Layla and I have a hard time keeping up with him. 

In practical terms, our twice weekly play-date is helping his mom and dad go to their jobs and get their school work done. They say thank you over and over again...but come on! I delight in every moment with him, even his cranky ones when I am putting on a silly show meant ONLY for him. 

The perks of grandparenting are huge. I can get on the floor and line up the wooden zoo animals for hours on end, with no thought of laundry waiting for me. Play doh time will not be interrupted by thoughts about dinner or loading the dishwasher. 

A mommy does not have that sweet deal. 

I know that I will have uninterrupted time to clean my house and make dinners every other day of the week. But my baby days are all about him. When I was a mom of little ones, I do not remember savoring every minute as I do now. I was good at enjoying my years with them, my journals are full of baby stories. But a mom of littles is also in the middle of the craziest season of life and every joy is surrounded by more questions and doubts and busy schedules that fight for space in the heart and head. 

A grandma has room for just the love. Just the marvel of watching little fingers learn how to roll the play doh into a ball or a snake. Cracking up at the comical sound he makes when pretending to eat the fake pancake he created. "Smack smack smack". And watching extra closely because scraping the yucky clay off teeth has already happened and I do not want to send him home with blue teeth again. 

These are days of tangible love. I giggle and laugh out loud a lot on Grandson days. I stare at that little perfectly shaped head...is there anything sweeter than the back of a little boy's head?...and my heart feels full and content. This kid has my heart in a way I have never known before. 

LOVE IS IN THE AIR prompt for 21 Days of Journaling in July with Enthusiastic Dawn.  Pin It                     Like this? Don't forget to SHARE...

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Probably Should Delete

I keep starting to write and then stopping. Hitting the DELETE button again and again.
Backspace backspace backspace.
"That sentence sounds lame."
"That is insincere."
"That does not sound like you."

I have not really WRITTEN since publishing my little book in February. I think I'm stuck.
I am struggling and feel like admitting the struggle will negate the positive words in my book.
I wrote about being in charge of our mind. Not letting negative thoughts be the boss.
How taking thoughts captive is like keeping kitties in a box.
My "kitties" have taken over my house. They are very bossy.

I want to write.
I need to write.
I used to love to write.
I want to go back to when I had a book project.
To when I had a Work In Progress. No progress happening here.

Stuff is happening. Life changes are coming.
But blogging has lost it's allure.
It doesn't call to me like it used to.
This post makes no sense.
I really should hit DELETE.

Writerly advice is welcome.
Prayers are welcome.
A kick in the butt is welcome.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

A Surprise Post by A Friend




I am still tearing up about this brand new post that a friend published on her blog today! We met online, then we spent a few bits of time together in person and now she is a forever friend! Her blog is four years old and it is delightful. You must click on over there and after you read her post about our friendship, you will not be disappointed if you stay to wander around for a little while! You will be uplifted, entertained and blessed!

OK now it's time for you to hop on over to Thoughts, Laughs and Fun -Delana
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hi God










So it seems that God has gone quiet again. I ask Him questions and get no answer. 

Unless you count that annoying one about filling my mind and eyes with too much social media and thus shutting Him out. 

Yeah, that one.
I am not planning a big social media fast or promising myself to stay off the computer or phone for X number of days. But I am recognizing a habit I have fallen into and it may resort to those measures eventually. I love Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I also have Pinterest and Tumbler accounts that I try to keep up in a reasonable way. The News Feeds call me to them many times a day, all day long. I click a LIKE here and a HEART there, a SHARE here and a RETWEET there. On and on it goes. 

I blame it on the book and the need to advertise consistently. BUT I was online long before my book was published so...

God speaks to us in a million different ways, I know that. In my book I mention that we do not need to be in a church building to hear God. That hearing God does not even require a set appointment called a "Quiet time". I made a point of pointing out that more than half of my conversations with God did not happen in one of those settings. 

BUT the other half of my life-changing moments with God DID take place in times of prayer, worship or appointed "Quiet Time". So...




While I have been so determined not be THAT rule-following "church lady" kind of believer, I have forgotten the beauty of set aside time for HIM alone. I wanted to distance myself from a rigid and "religious" ritual that can easily become an empty form with no substance. 

I've been lumping devotional time in with the discarded pieces of my old cocoon. But I miss God. And I am pretty sure He misses me. I will not say that the sweet butterfly that watched me swim the other day was sent by God to remind me of Him. I WILL say that the photos make me tear up at the beauty of creation and THAT makes me think of Him. 

I am thankful that my God never gives up on me. Even when He is quiet, even when I am quiet, He is there. 

He is here. 

Hi God. 



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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Would Have Been A Win-Win If He'd Kept His Mouth Shut


Not much natural light in my house. 
My husband has some profound marriage advice based on this recent conversation this week. My only regret about this house we've been in for a   year and a half is the lack of natural light. I miss my California sunshine all day long. So I make up for it in small ways...like the lit up wreath in my entry hall. 

A few days ago this chat happened:


  • Me: Honey, I was tickled this morning to see that you turned on my wreath lights today because I know you don't care about it.  Thanks!
  • Him: (Chuckles..) I didn't, you left it on all night.
  • Me: I did? Oh no, I am usually so careful about that!
  • Him: Shoot, I shouldn't have said anything and I would've gotten credit for it!
  • Me: Yep, your BIG points for the day.
  • Him: Why didn't I keep my mouth shut?
  • Me: Yeah, I wish you would have, because then I could still be enjoying that you did it for me. Shoot.
  • Him: Well, we both lose I guess.
  • Me: Sigh, could have been a win-win.
Yes, after 38 years of marriage we are still trying to gain and not lose points. What is that about? 

And his profound wisdom about marriage? "Less communication is best." 


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