Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Kite

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still, teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. Proverbs 9:9

Lonny and Logan bought a kite while on vacation. It was bright, nylon, and my guys had dreams of the kite floating steady and strong in the seamless Michigan sky.

Trouble was, they couldn’t get it to fly.

They stood in the shallows of Higgins Lake, the sky open and blue and ready for the taking, and fought with the twisted string of their very high hopes.

I propped myself on my elbows, body snuggled in to the soft, warm sand, and watched their antics. It went on and on. The kite would go up. The kite dove down. I could tell by their postures that it was becoming more about pursuit and less about pleasure.

None of us knew that someone else was watching, too.

Enter one knowledgeable, older man. He left his plot of beach and strode through the crisp, clear waters. He spoke with Lonny and Logan and then worked with the kite. Before long it was soaring high, exceeding even their expectations, appearing to barely move, a small, steady speck above the vast lake. In fact, it was so steady that Logan ended up tethering the kite to a swim marker. The man went back to his picnic. Logan and his dad went deep for a swim. The kite continued to fly, from that pole, all afternoon. Logan eventually pulled it in from a sunset-streaked sky.

That thing just flew and flew.

I decided that there was a powerful lesson in the kite. Logan and Lonny struggled, couldn’t get the kite to work quite right. The older gentleman had more experience, more skill.  Moving the string. Tying a different knot. Small things. But those little things made all the difference. And my guys wouldn’t have known. I think this applies to our walk as believers and followers of Jesus.

Lonny and I have had the benefit and blessing of older, wiser, experienced friends. Our friends have lived longer and experienced more. They’ve also been willing to help us out. To share their wisdom. To pour, without hesitation, into our lives.

As I pray for my five sons, I want to remember to pray for this sort of blessing. That God would provide wise, generous men. Men to help. Men to pray. Men to invest, sharpen, encourage, and teach.

Men who'll give their time and talents to help my boys fly.


It's been a week of sweet blessing...

"The Great County Fair Bake-Off"', a story of our family's cookie contest, is in August issue of GUIDEPOSTS. (You can also find story on Guideposts' website by clicking on following link...)

"Sea of Mother Love" (Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms), about the arrival of our second son, is featured in August 1 issue of WOMAN'S WORLD (available this week)

Thanks for the love and support, precious friends!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Power of a Word

When Lonny and I were first married, we knew how to tear each other apart. Verbal weapons make deep, jagged wounds. That was before we went to the Lord for healing. Forgiveness. Breath. Life. But I won’t forget that words carry power. They can be used to rip someone down. Or build someone up.

When my older boys were small, Lonny and I used a tube of toothpaste, during devotions, to drive this home with our sons. We’d pass the tube around the table, on a throw-away plate, and let everyone give it a squeeze. The toothpaste flowed easily, but it was impossible to put it back in the tube once it gushed out.

Just like words.

God’s truth has a lot to say about the tongue. It’s like a rudder, steering an entire ship. And where there’s too many words, sin is usually present.

Today I’m reminded to measure my words. To remind my sons of the power of their words, too.

A heart is a tender place, and I want our words to be sweet nourishment for the soul.

God, may the words we use today edify others and bring You glory.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Handprints in the Sand

Warm sun. Pine trees. Clear, cold lake of variegated blues. Lonny and I were on vacation with our sons. Higgins Lake, in Roscommon County, Michigan, had drawn us once again.

“Hey, Mom, look at this,” Grant called. He and Samuel were at the sweet place where the water gently pushes against the soft sand. They were filling buckets. Sculpting with shovels. Scooping water with plastic pails.

“Mom, we’re making a huge hand,” Samuel called. “The biggest. Sand hand. Ever.”

I slipped a marker into my book and stood to admire their progress. “Wow,” I said. “You’re right. That’s the biggest, best sand hand I’ve ever seen. Cool guys. Very cool.”

I returned to our sun-warmed quilt, flopped on my tummy, and opened my book.

But I couldn’t read.

The scenery was too beautiful.

More than enough to pull me from a printed page.

Though the lake was as natural and lovely as always (one of God’s best, I think) it was my sons who had captured my attention. Heads tipped close. Strong, brown shoulders. Smiles. Laughter. Pleasure. Purpose.

The kind of scene that makes a mama smile deep. Straight from the heart.

That, to me, is the beauty of getting away. Time for family.

Time for fun.

Time for brothers to leave their handprints in the sand.

Thank you Lord for this precious time. In your grace, help us make the most of it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Promise

Grant and I sat on the deck. He pushed a rubber ball with the tip of his basketball shoe.

“The kids from Uganda are traveling home today.”

“I know, “I said.

“I hope their travel will be safe. And that it will be a good thing. Being back home.”

“Me, too.”

The boys and girls from Mwaganza Children’s Choir had been on a six month tour in the United States. They were performing at our church. Three of the boys stayed with us over Memorial Day weekend. We were surprised and delighted when Grant bonded with a young man named Vatican. Vatican was spirited. Athletic. Strong. Very, very much like our second-born Grant.

Grant and Vatican played soccer. Shot hoops. Talked guy-talk. Did the cool-guy-knuckle-thing.

They behaved like they’d been friends for a half-million years.

The end of our visit was tough. We stood on the drive. Lonny and me. The boys’ chaperone. Our five sons. Three boys from the choir. There were embraces, cuffs on the back. A few tears. Grant and Vatican knocked each other around. Hugged. Said goodbye. Then Vatican climbed into the Suburban. Grant stood alongside.

When Lonny began to back down the drive, Vatican’s window opened. His long, strong arm pushed out, pinky finger extended. Grant lifted his own arm, strong, muscled, and then he extended his own finger. The two hands connected.

“Promise,” Vatican said.

“Promise,” Grant replied. He took quick steps, to keep up with the moving vehicle.

When Lonny picked up speed, the hands broke apart. Grant’s arm fell to his side. He stood on the sidewalk and watched the Suburban drive away.

I didn’t have any idea what that promise was about. I still don’t. It was private. Between two guys. But I trust that God will protect these young men, whose hearts collided deeply.

And I pray, that in different corners of God’s big, big world, in His strength and in His grace, the promise will be kept.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Isaiah has a blanket. Mine-O-Mine. It’s soft, nubby, red, and is twice the size it was when Zay was a baby. There’s a crocheted, golden giraffe and smiling sun in the bottom corner. Nana has stitched and re-stitched these little numbers a hundred times. Sunshine used to have big, smiling eyes. But when Isaiah is tired he rubs the gnarled threads between his fingers and the eyes wore off.

Mine-O-Mine is Zay’s great comfort. His best friend. His dream come true. Last week, Isaiah caged about the kitchen for an hour while Mine-O-mine went through the wash. When the dryer buzzed, Zay rooted around inside and pulled his friend out. “There you are, My Fweet Pea.” Another day, when Samuel was sick, Zay tenderly wrapped Mine-O-Mine around his brother’s shoulders. “He will help you feel better,” he said. Just yesterday, we were cruising down the highway in Logan’s Explorer. The air conditioner wasn’t working and the windows were open wide. Mine-O-Mine was a red blur flapping in the wind. “If he flies out the window,” Zay said, “I will die in terror.”

For Isaiah, there is nothing better in the world. Mine-O-Mine is better than pbj’s. Better than swinging high as the trees. Better than Smurf ice cream at Whitey’s.

When I see Isaiah’s grand love for his blanket, I’m excited for his developing love of the Lord. I can’t wait for him to claim the Living God as his rescuer. His strength. His comfort. His joy.

And it’s coming. I catch glimpses when Isaiah prays. Or remembers a Bible story. Or tells me something about Jesus.

There will be a day when Mine-O-Mine will be pressed and folded, forgotten, tucked away in a chest. But Zay’s love for the Lord will last forever.

Grace and mercy.

Little boys and blankets.

God’s love endures forever.



Monday, July 11, 2011

First Time Wonder

Last summer we took the boys to see Christopher Columbus replica ships. The ships were sailing down the Mississippi, toward the gulf, and were docked and open for tour. On the way, Gabriel fell asleep, head tipped down, sweet, soft summer-blond locks falling over his face. We traveled along the river drive, and through gaps in the riverfront properties, we began to catch glimpses of great masts and sails. Samuel shook his brother’s shoulder, and Gabe lifted his head. When he saw the white sails billowing against the summer blue sky, he was in awe. Amazed. Captivated. I’ll never forget the look on his tiny face when he first witnessed the glory of the ships.

I felt the same way last Sunday. Dr. Sauer, our interim pastor from Moody Bible Institute, taught from Matthew. I’d read the passages many times, but the application of the text had never quite hit home.

It’s about food. Miracles. And trust.

Scripture tell us that Jesus fed the multitudes. Satisfied thousands. Filled the bellies of hungry crowds.  Food to spare. Baskets brimming . Miracles. Provision. Glory.  And not just one time. Twice. In Matthew 14, He fed five thousand. In Mattthew 15, He fed four thousand.

The disciples witnessed both feedings.

Later, the same men were in a boat with Jesus (Matthew 16). Someone had forgotten to pack the food. There was bickering. Tension. Born from the bellies of hungry men. “Who forgot the food? There’s no food in this boat!” And there they sat with the Master, the one who had fed the crowds.

The disciples had forgotten. What Jesus had done. What Jesus could do.

Typical, I’d say. Sounds just like me. I see the Lord’s magnificent hand in my life. In the lives of my boys. Then the next time life growls like a churning, empty belly, I forget.

Oh, Lord, help me to remember.

Sitting in church that day, it was though I’d read that passage for the very first time. The words were fresh. New. Amazing. Captivating. Just like the ships were for Gabe.

Oh, I love the Word of God. And thank you, Holy Spirit. For teaching. Unveiling. Allowing me to see truth with first time wonder.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Poem and a Prayer

“ Mama,” Zay said. “I forgot what it’s like. When you sing.”

I looked into the green eyes of my little boy. Well, what I could see of them. He wore a too-big, fogged-up swim mask. We were floating in our backyard pool, clinging to the sizzling sides of a tire tube, hitting the chorus of Little White Duck. The other little boys dodged around. Jumped from the deck. Splashed and laughed and swam like mad.

I’d said “no” to a few good things. And the blessings were rich.

My last post, One Good Thing, brought quite a few e-mails. So many of us need time to better care for our families. To manage our homes. To encourage our husbands, hold our children, sit, appreciate, listen, feel.

Time to be still and know that He is God.

My friend, Debbie, penned this poem. Thanks, Sister, for sharing from your heart.

BY D. L. Ritz

If I would say no
To just one good thing today
Just one nice-busy thing
you know…

There might be room
To grow and breathe
Or sing and dance
Create or learn

Or just by chance
To do with joy
One true good thing

Sweet Jesus,

We live in a blessed time. We’re surrounded by an abundance of good things. Help us to know where to put our time, our hands, and our hearts. Align us with your plan, so that no small blessing would be missed.
In Your hands, there will be true good things today.

Monday, July 4, 2011

One Good Thing

Okay. I’m going to hang-out-there on this one. On a skinny limb. Bloomers billowing in the breeze. Gulp. Here it goes.

The boys and I attended a community event yesterday. It was awesome-good. Classic summer. Besides the fun and sun and frozen sweetness on sticks, we were able to visit with friends. Lots of them. Moms. Kiddos. People we love. People we admire.

But every conversation was the same. Everyone shared a similar struggle.

And the buzzword was “busy”.

Moms were busy. Kids were busy. Running around. Teams. Sports. Lessons. Day trips. Zoo. Pool. Park. Play ground.

Commitment. Commitment. Commitment.

Stress. Stress. Stress.

Funny thing is, every mother, while to-the-hilt full, still wanted something.

Down time.

Time to read to the kids. To sit in the yard. To breathe and relax and enjoy without the ticking of the clock. Several even dared to dream of taking better care of husbands. Homes. To have clean kitchen floors and windows fit to see through. I could relate. I will not confess who-wore-whose-undies to VBS last week.

So I stand challenged. My own summer has been a blur. Chest-heavy, get-in-the-car, we’re-gonna-be-late, go-kids-go, full. And it’s all good. If the opportunities were not good, they would not be on my plate. But an abundance of goodness can be too much.

So this week I’m going to practice saying “no” to one good thing. I’m going to pull a chair under the maple. Share ice cream on the porch. Find a tattered copy of C.S. Lewis-something. Maybe even rendezvous with Mr. Clean and hit that ceramic tile.

It will be counter-culture. Scary. And what if I deprive my boys or myself of some enriching, monumental, can’t- live- without experience?


How hard can it be, to let go of one good thing?
"No" is just a two-letter word.

Wish me luck!

I'll let you know...

Lord, help me to manage my calendar. To know what to keep, to know what to let go...