Generous Children

photo credit -  mint.com

I caught the tail end of a popular news program last week. The host was reading letters from viewers. One woman wrote to tell him that when he gave out some information about taking donations for a cause popular at the time, her young son responded. He went into his bedroom and got his hard-earned yard chore money to donate. 

His generosity touched me. And the host, apparently. 

I think sometimes it's easier for children to be generous than it is for adults. Some cynics might say it's because they are impractical, but I think the opposite is true. 

They are very practical. They know their needs are met. Their parents provide a roof over their head, clothing on their back and food in their tummy. It's not hard to be generous under those circumstances. 

Our Father is most generous. He houses, feeds and clothes us. He provides for ALL of our needs - not just the physical. 

Wouldn't it follow that His children would be the most generous? 

In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— Ephesians 1:4


Absent Husband = Vigilant Bride

My husband was out of town for a week recently on business. 

I noticed that I took a little extra care to lock things that don't usually get locked. 

I double-checked to make sure things were closed tight that I might usually leave open. 

And, of course, I had a fully loaded thing within arms reach should the need arise. 

I slept a bit more fitfully than normal. 

I knew that because my protector was away, I needed to be more vigilant than normal; but he didn't leave me defenseless. 

Reminds me of the church - the "bride" of Christ. 

He is away, but He's coming back; and He certainly hasn't left us defenseless. 

Let's be vigilant in His absence while looking forward to His return. 

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:13


Results & Duty


"Duty is ours; results are God's." John Quincy Adams

He said this when asked about how he could press on with the fight against slavery when it seemed so little progress was being made. Of course, he died before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law, but without the groundwork he laid and the fact that he and Abraham Lincoln overlapped for one year in the House of Representatives, maybe we wouldn't have had it at all. 

This quote is so encouraging to me.  Even though our kids grow and mature so quickly, in the day to day of it all, it often seems as if no real progress is being made - in us or in the children.  It can be discouraging.

Unless we remember, as John Quincy Adams did, that God is in charge of the results. 

"And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary." Galatians 6:9


Teaching an old Crochet-er a new Knit

I just finished knitting a baby blanket. I am really enjoying knitting, but it was hard for me to learn. My mom taught me to crochet when I was little, so that seemed like no big deal. And then, a few years ago, a friend showed me how to knit and then I bought a book and taught myself. 

It was weird to hold the knitting needles that way - so different from the way you hold a crochet hook. Think of going from a baseball bat to a golf club. Very similar in their differences. :)

Anyway, it was a great reminder for me that it's so much easier to learn to do something right the first time than it is to unlearn doing it the wrong way. 

My dad made a lot of money over the years "unlearning" horses the bad habits their owners taught them. 

Two lessons here:

1) Go easy on yourself and others when you (or they) are trying to unlearn bad habits or even whole ways of thinking. 

2) Teach your kids the right way the first time. 

"Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6


Follow the Leader

My Grandpa
Our church is blessed to have a multitude of talented musicians who volunteer to lead us in worship each week. They sort of rotate and share the responsibility. 

A few weeks ago, we were being blessed by the talents of a group of them, when the leader skipped a verse. . . Now, I didn't know the song well enough to tell, and I might not have even caught it, except one of the other singers flushed and looked a little embarrassed - oh and the words projected on the screen didn't match. 

However, the rest of the group just fell in behind him and FOLLOWED WHERE HE LED. 

I was impressed by those musicians - even the one who got a little flustered. They did nothing but make their leader look good. 

Can you imagine if they had gone off on their own? Not only wouldn't it have sounded very good, but it would have confused all of us in the congregation, embarrassed many of the performers, and maybe even damaged the trust they had in their leader - or his trust in them. Perhaps irreparably. 

I wonder how often I damage the trust of my leader, and confuse those around us, when I don't FOLLOW WHERE HE LEADS. 

Now, you might think, well he made a mistake, they had every right not to follow him! 

But, if you are like me, this "not following" can happen even when there are no mistakes being made. 

Thanks mostly to my Grandpa, whose own father taught him how to play, my extended family has a lot of musicians in it. I enjoy it when we all get together. Inevitably, Grandpa has learned a new song that no one else knows. He leads and they all play along. It sounds like music because they FOLLOW HIS LEAD. 

Next time I hear or feel discord, I'm gonna take a step back and remember that if I FOLLOW WHERE HE LEADS, the result will be sweet music.  

"Submit yourselves, then, to God." James 4:7


The Substitute Teacher

Cache with his favorite teacher

I have done a little substitute teaching in my day.  . . . . . I really didn't like it. 

At first, that is.  Because at first, the teachers didn't know me, and so they made me do things like watch the first hour of Remember the Titans  - six times in one day.  Really. 

But other teachers, the ones who knew me and trusted me, would turn their class over to me and let me teach the next chapter in the history book or a fun lesson on poetry, or even a health lesson. Those days seemed to fly by. 

I was filled with purpose and focus. As classes came in and out, I would try a little harder to do a better job with each period. 

It was great. I felt like I was helping the students and having fun with them at the same time. I was learning new things right along with them. 

In the first scenario, I could have easily been a remote control.  Seriously. Pushing play on the VCR player was the extent of the challenge I faced that day. (Yes, VCR - I am that old) 

I recently was asked to speak as a fill-in for someone who couldn't make it on the day they needed her to, and that got me thinking about substitute teaching again. 

I wondered if I was asked to substitute teach for Jesus, how I would do. Don't get me wrong, I have no delusions of grandeur here.

Isn't that what the Church is, in a way? The substitute for Jesus here on earth while he's away? Thanks to the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we are His body. 

  "And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." Ephesians 1:22-23

So, if my experiences as a substitute are any indication, here's a test to find out if you are the kind of substitute who just watches movies all day, or the one He has trusted to teach others. 

Are you bored and under utilized? Or do you have focus and purpose? 
Are you having fun, being challenged and helping others while you learn more? 

Just checking. 


The A21 Campaign

A21 Card
A21 Card

The other day, Kelly Minter challenged me to find something that breaks my heart and do something about it. 

Ok, just to clarify here, I'm currently doing her study on the book of Nehemiah,  through which she challenged me to find something that breaks my heart and do something about it. 

So . . . a few days after reading that challenge, I came across this post by Anne Voskamp, on her blog A Holy Experience .

One of the things that breaks my heart is that young men and women around the globe are being sold into slavery, or forced into slavery.  They often end up in the sex trade. If you think slavery was abolished back in the 1800's, you are sadly mistaken. 

The A21 Campaign, (established by the firebrand for Jesus Christine Caine), exists to abolish injustice in the 21st century. 

They have a four pronged approach, as outlined on their website here.  They prevent trafficking through awareness and education, they protect those who have been trafficked by providing transition homes, they prosecute traffickers and they partner to meet the needs of those rescued as well as work to abolish trafficking altogether. 

I love that they are in the business of mercy for victims AND justice for the perpetrators. 

"He has told you O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

There are a list of 21 ways to get involved on their website here

I chose #1 - Write a Letter. 

I shared this idea with a friend of mine, and she not only designed two different cards for us to make, but graciously offered to host a card making party at her house. We invited some friends and fellow Bible studiers -  and the rest is history. 

I left her home that night with a pile of cards filled with love for the rescued. 

It seems like a small thing, but I hope that to each one of the women who receives one of the cards, it will be a big thing. 


Robert Louis Stevenson's defense of Father Damien

Father Damien

This is a two part post. You can read the first part here.

Last time, I mentioned that God had addressed two of my ugliest sins through the book Damien the Leper.  The first was self-pity, which I discussed in part one.  

He also taught me to hate the sin of being critical of other people. 

After his death, Father Damien's story spread worldwide. He was something of a sensation in the newspapers. A clergyman in Sydney, Australia wrote to his clergyman friend in Honolulu to ask about  the suddenly famous Father Damien. The clergyman in Honolulu had known Father Damien and answered the letter. 

His answer was short, but not sweet. It was bitingly critical and slanderous. 
Robert Louis Stevenson

Luckily for us, unluckily for him, his clergyman friend had the letter he wrote criticizing the dead priest published in the Sydney Presbyterian.  Robert Louis Stevenson, who was visiting Sydney at the time, read it and was so maddened by it that he beat his head upon the wall - to the shock of his wife. 

He then proceeded to write, and have published widely, a response.  He had visited the island where Father Damien lived, shortly after his death, and spent 8 days there. He had also met with the man who wrote the scathing letter. Those experiences gave him personal insight into the matter. And the voice to write a passioned response. 

You can read the letter, in its entirety here. Or you can download a copy to your e-reader here. And I highly recommend it. 

I became more and more disgusted with the critical clergyman as I read the letter from Mr. Stevenson. 

"How could he?" I demanded. 
"Yay for Mr. Stevenson!" I proclaimed. 
"Yes! That's telling him!" I thought.

And then I thought. "Wow, what if someone widely published a letter in response to every time I was critical of someone?" Ouch. 

Now, I'll admit, I don't go around criticizing the canonized often, (Father Damien was canonized by the Catholic church February 21, 2009) my targets are seemingly more fallible.  But I am not less critical for having easier targets than the clergyman.  

It really is so ugly. Stevenson says,"I conceive you as a man quite beyond and below the reticences of civility: with what measure you mete, with that shall it be measured you again;"

What I realized is that my criticism of others never says as much about them as it does about me.  And what it says is ugly. 

Think twice before you criticize. In fact, just be quiet instead. Every person you have a critical remark for also has a defender. And HIS pen is much more powerful than the pen of Robert Louis Stevenson. 

I do not wish to insult the memory of Father Damien, or the expertly written defense of Robert Louis Stevenson by making it all about me. But if we are not to learn from such men as these, and to allow ourselves to be shaped for the better by having known them - even just through their stories - then what is reading for? 

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Ephesians 4:29


Damien the Leper

I read a lot of books. As a book addict, I take them from any place I can get them. Goodwill stores are a good, inexpensive source. So I picked up a few books there a couple of weeks ago. 

Damien the Leper I couldn't resist just because of the summary on the back of the book. 

     "For the Sandwich Islands- Damien de Veuster." So began,        
      nearly a century ago in a quiet, low-ceilinged library, the
      great adventure of Damien the Leper - the magnificent
      story of courage, devotion and sacrifice that has become a
      living legend throughout the world. 

I read that and thought, "Living legend throughout the world? Why haven't I read this?" So I scooped it up. 

I took it up a couple of days later and, after not too many chapters, put it aside again. It is a very Catholic book - not that there's anything wrong with that - but it moves a little slowly in the beginning and covers a lot of things not terribly interesting to Protestant me. 

Now here comes the crazy part. 

About a week later I am in Flagstaff, AZ touring an historic mansion, and we step into the library. Obviously my favorite room in the house, I stooped down to look at some of the titles. Noticing my interest, the tour guide mentioned that there was one book in the collection she really wants to read. 

Wait for it. . . . . Damien the Leper

No joke. I was startled, and let her know that I had just been reading that book after having purchased it in a Goodwill store some 450 miles away. Unbelievable. 

So, knowing that my God is a God of detail, I decided to take it back up as soon as we got back home. 

And I'm sooooooo glad that I did. 

God addressed two of my ugliest sins through this book: self pity and being critical. 

Father Damien devoted his life to living on an island caring for lepers. The Hawaiian Islands were hit hard by leprosy, and not knowing a better solution, they used quarantine. They shipped all lepers to an isolated island, where the conditions were deplorable. I will spare you the details, but when one of the lepers escaped and made the horrors more widely known, the Catholic church leaders in the area decided to do something. God bless them for it. 

Father Damien, who was serving in a parish on another island in Hawaii,  30 years of age and in excellent physical condition, volunteered to remain on the island for the rest of his life, and undoubtedly die of the disease. 

What a hero. He was an incredibly brave, amazing man. 

I was so inspired. His selfless sacrifice, all in the name of duty and wishing to share the love of God with these poor, suffering people, left me awestruck. 

Putting others first does not come easily for me. I never knew how selfish I am until I became a stay at home Mom. Being at someone else's beck and call takes a toll. 

And I get to care for healthy people that I love and am related to, unlike Father Damien.

No more whining. No more self-pity parties. I am not my own. It is a privilege to care for the ones I love most in the world. And a joy to be able to. 

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." I Corinthians 6:19-20

Next week, I'll share with you from the letter written by Robert Louis Stevenson in defense of Father Damien that changed my perspective on being critical. It is powerful. 


Living Between the Cross and the Resurrection

Cross at Taos Pueblo

Sometimes when I'm confused - especially about something tragic I hear about on the news, or in a friend's life - I remind myself that I am suffering from a lack of information. 

It could be a horrible child abuse case - an unexplainable natural disaster - the inexplicable murder of an innocent person - a life threatening disease that targets a young mother - a marriage in shambles. 

It all hurts and none of it makes sense. 

I think about the followers of Jesus mourning their loss, confused, dejected and in hiding. Afraid for their very lives, thinking of all they had given up to follow Him, wondering how they could have been so wrong.  

It all hurt and none of it made sense.  

It was that time between the Cross and the Resurrection. 

Their information was not complete. Even though Jesus had told them in advance what to expect, and what was going to happen. Even though they had spent so much time with him. 

Some argue that it was their preconceived notions about the "Warrior Savior" that clouded their understanding of the "Suffering Savior." 

But whatever it was that led to their lack of understanding, they were suffering. All of them. 

It all hurt and none of it made sense. 

Until that Resurrection Day. Until they saw HIM. Until they knew.

Knew he was ALIVE. 
Knew all He had said was TRUE. 
Knew He IS God. 
And ALWAYS would be. 

So the next time you hear of a tragedy or circumstance that makes you wonder "Why would God allow that?" 

Know that you don't know. Your information is incomplete. 

Then remember what you DO know. 

Know that He is ALIVE. 
Know that all He said is TRUE. 
Know He IS God. 
And ALWAYS will be. 

And then wait for the sunrise of that Resurrection Day. 

Yours. Not His. 

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." I Corinthians 13:12


My Christian Band of Brothers

Since my husband has been so good as to watch Downton Abbey with me this season, I've been doing a little payback by watching some Band of Brothers with him. 

I'm pretty sure my target audience and the Band of Brothers target audience doesn't overlap much, so let me just tell you that it is a story of the 101st Airborne during WWII. 

These guys are heroes. Without any doubt.  It's really inspiring. 

The series starts off with them being trained, which lasts the first few episodes, then they get sent to England and then on to their first jump - to help out with the Normandy invasion. 

They all prepare to jump, but something goes horribly wrong. Their planes are attacked as they are trying to jump, some are even shot down.  So to try to avoid being shot, the planes are flying much faster than they should be, but really the only option is to jump or die trying, so they jump anyway. 

No one really ends up where they should be and a lot of their equipment gets literally ripped off their bodies at those high speeds. It's a mess. 

The main character, Lieutenant Winters lands with only his knife as a weapon. No one from the unit he's in charge of lands near him. 

He lands and a couple moments later another soldier from an entirely different company lands near him. At least that guy still has a gun. 

The decision Winters makes is the same decision I'm going to embrace in my Christian walk. He decides to move towards the original objective. 

You see, things go wrong. We get off track. The enemy attacks us and we end up scattered. Separated from people who matter and thrown in with others we barely know. 

But if we will just keep moving in the right direction, things will come together. 

As Winters progresses toward the objective, he meets up with some of the guys from his unit, and then, a little farther on,  some more. It is a happy reunion when they reach the destination. 

Eventually more and more survivors straggle in. Everyone who keeps moving in the right direction ends up back together. 

Sometimes in our lives as Christians, something hits and we go in a different direction from all we know and feel secure about. Maybe we lose a relative or a close friend to death. Maybe they move away. Maybe our church splits. 

But the thing is to keep pressing on.  Head towards God, and your fellow believers will too. Eventually you'll all reach the objective and be together again. 

"Not that I have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  Phillipians 3:12-14 


My Parents and My Kids

I love being with my parents and my kids all at the same time. It's a time for me to enjoy them enjoying each other. 

I love to watch my Mom noticing the same things about the kids that I do. I love watching my kids fall in love with the things I love about my Dad. 

I love watching them succumb to Mom's natural Grandma charms. And I love the way my little girl can make my big tough cowboy father march around the living room playing a Mickey Mouse harmonica while she beats a drum and her brother plays the kazoo. 

I even love how much more obnoxious my Dad and my oldest son get when they are together. They play off each other and egg each other on until you nearly have to leave the room! 

No matter how much I try to relay information to Mom about what Hannah did today, or tell Dad some cute story about what Cache said, or how Bodie's got this horse he's dealing with - it's not the same until they're all here. And we are just living it together. Catching up. Soaking it in. Being together. 

It's great when someone you love loves someone else you love. When you see traits of them in each other, and traits of you in them, and traits of them in you. 

"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am . . . . I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them, and that I myself may be in them." John 18: 24, 26


Women's Bible Study Devotional

I feel like I'm cheating here, because I actually wrote this for a different purpose. But it just fits here, so I'm posting it. 

John Chapter 17

When I first read through this chapter, after a few times, it made me think of the movie ‘My Life’ with Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman. I’ve never watched that movie, because I’m a coward, but I know the premise from the trailers that were out at the time. This man is dying, his wife is pregnant, so he gets the idea to record videos of himself so his child will get to know him and his wishes for said child. 

In a way, Jesus’ prayer here is like that movie. 

In fact, He says in verse 13 “...but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”  

He speaks the prayer out loud for us - the disciples listening at the time, and for those who will “come to believe in (Him) through their message.” That’s us. 

Nice, tidy example right? 

Well, if we were dealing with just some GUY- like Michael Keaton - then it would be. 

But after I had that example all worked out in my mind, I realized it was wrong. 

This is the Creator we are dealing with here. When He speaks, whole universes come into existence.

What He prays here aren’t the wishes of a human father for some offspring he will never know. 

These are the words of our Creator; creating once again.  Creating for us a future filled with things we will read “So that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”  

Any Downton Abbey fans here?

I know, I watch too many movies - but in my defense - I never actually watched My Life. 

Anyway, in Downton Abbey Season 1 the big drama is that the inheritance is legally tied up with the estate. No matter how hard any of the main characters try to undo what the deceased Lord Grantham did in his will, the grand-daughter can NOT inherit the money. Or the estate. It will all go to some distant relative that none of them knows. 

The will is impenetrable. 

That, ladies, is what we have here. Not some sing song wishes of a dying man, but the WILL of the Creator. The Prince of Peace. Our Messiah, The Savior, The Son of God. 

Impenetrable. Except we try to thwart it by our own free will. 

You are the only one who can deny yourself the enjoyment of the glorious inheritance laid out here in John, Chapter 17.

So what are we talking about? What exactly is this inheritance? 

-Well, joy we mentioned - vs. 13 - the full measure of Christ’s Joy.

-God’s protection by the power of His name - vs. 11

-Sanctification through truth - His word - vs. 17

-Complete unity through and for His glory vs. 20-23

-God’s love and Jesus’ love - vs. 23

-To be with Him and see His glory - vs.24

-To know God the Father - vs. 26

-Jesus Christ in us - vs. 26

Basically a life purpose to bring Him glory while living in unity with our fellow believers in this full measure of Christ’s joy which can NOT be taken from us and which death will only make more complete because at last we will be with the author of it, the creator of us, our Savior and the writer of this IMPENETRABLE WILL - John Chapter 17.

That’s some inheritance you’ve got. 

Now go live up to it. 


Getting Directions

I had a get together at my house recently, and had to give directions to a couple of people.  It occurred to me again, how important it is to not give TOO MUCH information. 

One time I got off track in a mid-sized town here in New Mexico and asked a friendly looking local for directions. Unfortunately, he spent more than half the time telling me where NOT to go, rather than where to go. I had to mentally edit out all the non-directions and just focus on the true directions. 

"Do you know the so-and-so store? Yes, well, don't turn there. In fact, you won't even get that far. You want to turn about two blocks before that."


In all my ruminations about the new year and how best to approach it - You know, what goals to set, both for myself and for my littles - I've been asking God for directions. 

He is an excellent giver of directions. 

Never too much information. 

If he's silent, keep on going the way you are going. 

That's it. When you need to turn, or make a change, He will let you know. 

He's not trying to play hide and seek with His will. He will not only make it known, He will accomplish it. 

Be confident in that. And press on. 

"Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21


I'm Losing My Hair, but God Loves Me Anyway

The WRONG hairdo for a boat ride!
As you can tell from the above picture, my hair is fairly long and fairly dark. So when some falls out, it's pretty painfully obvious. Our bathroom requires almost daily sweeping up of stray hairs. 

My hairbrush is shameful - even with weekly cleanings. 

I could let this aggravate me, but I choose instead to let it REMIND me. 

1) My hairs are all numbered. By God. 

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31

God must be busy keeping count of my hairs at the rate I seem to be losing them. But it's nice to think that He's thinking of me that often throughout the day. 

2) I have many sins, and yet His love and truth protect me. 

"Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord; may your love and your truth always protect me.  For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me." Psalm 40:11-12

By the way, I read recently that people with blond hair have about 140,000 hairs on their head. If you have black or brown hair (like me), you have about 110,000 and redheads have around 90,000.  

Evidently, there is no end in sight to the shed-clean-shed cycle around here.


The Book I'll Be Starting the New Year With

Here's a link to a little book that is life-changing if you will let it be: 

And it's FREE! :) 

Merry Belated Christmas and Happy New Year. 

It's called The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life. And I love it. 

If the title doesn't hook you, I certainly couldn't with some lame-o review. 

I read it at least once a year, and this year I'm starting a new tradition by making it the first book (besides some of the Bible) I'll read in the New Year. 

Won't you join me?