Monday, August 29, 2011

Blog Break This Week

Hello Friends,

Happy Monday!

I'm on blog break this week. The three little boys and I are having our first week of homeschool lessons.

Thank you so much for the blessing of your time. See you next Monday, September 5.

Have a wonderful, wonderful grace-filled week...

With love,


Friday, August 26, 2011

Not Ever Alone

We assembled in front of the television for our evening ritual: retro tv on dvd. Grant and Sam sprawled over the floor. Gabe curled on the sofa. Logan and Zay settled into the over-stuffed chair in the corner. Lonny sat beside Gabriel, and I nestled into his side.
And the whistling tune of Andy Griffith lulled our family to stillness.

But only for a moment.

“Mom,” Gabe said. “I forgot my orange.”

Oranges. The other part of our evening ritual. Leave it to Beaver oranges. I Love Lucy oranges. Brady Bunch oranges. The three little boys, for their bedtime snack, peel and eat oranges. Every night. Every show. It’s as much of the bedtime routine as brushing teeth or saying prayers.

“Mister Man,” I said. “We’ll get your orange. In a minute or two.”

“But I’m hungry now.”

“You’re welcome to go get one,” I said. “We’ll pause the show.”

Gabe’s face scrunched to a frown. “I’m not going down there. Alone.”

We live in an old Victorian. Our family room is on the second floor, and the kitchen is on the first. Down the deep, curvy stairs. Across the lower level. Not a sweet deal for little kids at dusk.

“You’ll be fine,” I said. “This is your home. Your loving, safe home.”

“Still not going,” he said. “But I would like an orange.”

Lonny hit the pause button, quieting the voice of Barney Fife. It was silent for a moment, then Zay jumped from Logan’s lap.

“I’ll go get it,” he said with all the valor and bravery and courage a four-year-old could muster. “I’ll go get the orange!” He stood tall. Squared his shoulders. Made a bold face.

“But aren’t you scared?” Gabe asked.

“I am,” he said. “But God will go with me.”

Zay struck a pose. Grinned. Performed a mini gun show. Then he was off. Down the stairs. Across the house. Into the darkness.

Fully confident in the presence of God.

I learned from Zay that night, my sweet, brave, trusting little son. When I’m afraid? I’m not alone. When things are dark? I’m not alone. When the route is long and shadows lurk? I’m not alone.

Not ever alone.


I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thumbs Up

We pulled to the curb, in front of the tall, brick dorm, and unloaded my son’s belongings. Everything material he’d need for living, packed into heavy, gray totes. Soon we’d grab a cart, and Lonny and Logan would begin the haul, up to the sixth floor.

“Hey, Logan,” a handsome young man called. He crossed the street and he and Logan did the brother-hug. Quick embrace. A few cuffs on the back. They fell into easy conversation. What was your summer like? Missed you, Buddy. The guys have been waiting for you…

Then the young man continued on his way. But it was just a moment more before a bevy of young men came up the walk. Logan! Hey! Good to see you. More hugs. More cuffs. Conversation and friendship and gladness and joy. A few minutes later, others joined the group. These are the young men, I thought, that God has brought my boy. The ones he’ll pray with, laugh with, grow and move into manhood with.

Thank you, Jesus.

An hour later, when the totes had been hauled and goodbyes had been said, I watched my young man walk up that same sidewalk. There was a bounce in his step, an ease in his stride. When he reached the door, Logan turned, tan and strong and long-summer blond, and gave me a thumbs up.

My heart smiled.

Thumbs up to you, too, Sweet Boy.

Now go ahead and fly….

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sweet Sunday

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 118:1

“Is it almost ready?” Gabriel jumped up and down. Rubbed his hands together. Peered over the edge of the ice cream machine with eyes round as half-dollars.

“Dad said ten more minutes,” Zay said. Then he sighed, hard, like the world was pushing on his little brown shoulders.

The ice cream machine whirred and chugged while three swim-suit clad little boys caged about the patio. My parents chatted with Lonny, our older sons, and our dear friend Miss Jean. I carried the cut glass ice cream bowls, a flea market find, from the kitchen.

Precious, simple goodness.

The ice cream machine was Lonny’s Father’s Day gift. It has a hand crank and an electric motor, so we can plug it into the outlet on the back of the house when the boys’ little arms fall at their sides, like limp ropes, from churning.

We’ve given the machine a workout this summer.

As we scooped ice cream into bowls, I glanced around the patio and was blessed by each family member. It seemed, for a few moments, like the world spun more slowly. And I was grateful, from a deep-heart place, for a last-of-summer evening when burdens were light, worries were far off, the biggest, deepest decision was whether to top our ice cream with fresh berries or chocolate chips.

Thank you Lord for your goodness, so powerfully evident in this sweet Sunday.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Bible Tells Me So

I stopped by the little boys’ room, for one last peek, before I went to bed. The giggles had quieted. Movement had stopped. Bed springs were silent. Sweet, sleeping peace had fallen over our home.

I was drawn to Gabriel. He lay, curled on his side, eyes closed, sweet summer-brown face relaxed and still. His small hands were clasped, as if he’d drifted off to slumber in the middle of a prayer.

I ran my fingers through his soft, white hair. Then I kissed his warm forehead. He shifted a little, then settled back, wrapped in the sweetness of rest.

For a moment, I was so filled with love that I thought my own heart would break. This little creature. Helpless and small. Needing me so. I ran my finger along the curve of his neck. Beautiful. How could something so amazing belong to me?

I love you that way, I felt the Lord speak, deep in my spirit. I delight in you. Just because you’re mine.

In my head, it’s hard for me to imagine. That God could love me so much.

Difficult to grasp.

More than I can fathom.

But I have to believe.

The Bible tells me so.

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with His love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Psalm 143:5

Somehow it happened. The days are getting shorter. The cicadas are singing. The air is thick with late summer. And my son will be returning to school.

It’s a very good thing. Logan found his niche at Wheaton College. His studies went well. He enjoyed strong, Christ-centered friendships. His confidence stretched. His relationship with God soared. Over the past year, I’ve seen a man emerge where there was a boy last fall, and I’m deeply grateful for the blessing.

Praise God! Miracle strides! Sweet answers to prayer!

It has been good. Precious, amazing, grace-filled good.

But there’s still a place in my mama’s heart that hurts to see him go. It’s a tightening in my throat when I set his place at the table. Or a pull in my soul when I walk past his room that is, for a couple of days, still rich with his presence. It’s an appreciation of his words that makes me laugh and makes me cry and always makes me glad. It’s seeing his shoes by the back door or wondering where Zay is and finding him in Logan’s arms. It’s wanting to look back but needing to look ahead.

Endless summer days have become numbered, and the numbers are bittersweet.

Thank you, God ,that my child is well. That he’s safe and strong. That he’s full of life.

Thank you, God, for his joy. For his peace. For the work that You’ve done in his life.

Watch over him, Lord. Mold him into the man you want him to be. Call him to Your purpose.

Oh, and Lord God, remember me, too.

Steady my spirit and make weak places strong.

I remember who You are and what You’ve done.

Help me, again, through August.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Isaiah stood in the sizzling sun, brown toes curled over the deck boards, knees bent and spring-loaded for action. Then he pulled his goggles over his eyes, the band creating wild, wet tufts of white hair at the back of his head.

“Hey, Mom, watch this!”

Then took a leap. When he hit the water, cool drops rained over my own legs. Within a second, Zay’s head broke the surface, and his tiny face turned upward, back toward the deck, for my approval.

Honeycomb, I thought, as I sensed the Holy Spirit’s gentle prompt. My sweet golden boy is looking for honeycomb.

Pleasant words. God says they’re like honey. They taste good. They’re nourishing. Good for the soul. Healing.

“Zay,” I said. “That was an awesome jump. Purely athletic!”

My son’s smile stretched wide.

I smiled, too.

Thanks, God, for the reminder. May my words, in Your good grace, be sweet nourishment for my sons.


Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens, was released last week. “The Prize” and “Hard Truth”, two stories from my own preteen years, are included.

If you'd like to order, follow this link:  Just for Preteens

Glory to God!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blue Bags, White Shells (A Lake Lesson from Gabe)

For where your treasure is, your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

I was green with envy over a blue handbag. Funny thing is, I don’t even accessorize with blue. But when my girlfriend carried her trendy, azure bag, she was looking good.

I wanted one, too.

“Lonny, if we see a department store, let’s stop,” I said. We were twining through road construction, toting our boat, on the way to the deep woods of Michigan.

“Not likely out here,” he said. “What do you need?”
Tough question. I don’t need anything, really. I’m just lusty for a big, blue bag. I couldn’t say the words out loud. It was absurd. A Suburban full of contained maleness, ready to burst from ten hours of travel. Okay boys, let’s go buy a purse.

Sheer madness.

Soon we were at Higgins Lake. Blue leather couldn’t compete with blue water and sky, but I still thought about that darned bag from time to time, just the same.

“Mom, help me look for shells?” Gabe asked, one afternoon, pointing toward the glinting lake. Then he headed for the crisp, clear shallows, bucket and sifter in tow.

“I’d love to help,” I said. And we set out to find his treasure.

Gabe and I spent the next two hours searching for shells. We’d spy them, tiny, coiled, and white, poking from the soft, light sand. Then Gabe would plunge his sifter through the water to scoop from the lake floor. He’d rinse until only the shells remained. Plink!  He’d drop them in a bucket.

Before long we had a whole pail full.

“Mom, I think I’d like to go out now. To swim in the deeper place with Logan and Grant,” Gabe eventually said, holding his bucket.

Gabe didn’t say a word. He looked to our basket on the sand, and then took his bucket and tipped it upside down. A cascade of pearly white shells fell back to the bottom of the lake, sending ripples and rings over the sheet of smooth water. Then he headed out to meet his brothers.

I stood in his wake, baffled.

Gabe, at that moment, had the ability to let go of something material. Something he’d desired. There was something more wonderful to enjoy, and he was ready to go. Without hindrance. Without want. Unencumbered by the bulk of “things”.

Standing there in the sun, I remembered that blue bag and regretted even a moment spent thinking about it when there were better, more wonderful blessings within my grasp.

Lord, free me from the want of things that clouds my focus and robs me of greater blessings.

The water was cleansing and cool as I swam out toward my sons.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mamma Sets the Tone

I sat across the table from my friend Amy. She had the worn, tired look of I- have-little-kids-and-Daddy’s-out-of-town. Her husband was a DNR officer and had gotten a new job. While he worked through six months of school and training in another state, Amy stayed behind to keep the kids anchored. They’d move, as a family, when the training was complete.

“Are you holding up okay?” I asked. I noticed the large calendar that hung on the wall behind her. Not many squares held the dark, heavy X of days-gone-by.

“I’m exhausted,” she said. “The kids aren’t sleeping well and their behaviors are off.”

“That must be hard.”

“It is,” she said. “But I’m the mom and I set the tone. The kids see me first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I try to keep things peaceful. Positive. They look to me for that.”

Our conversation was several years ago, but I haven’t forgotten Amy’s words. Powerful . They ring true, whether Daddy’s home or not. We’ve all heard the saying, “If Mama aint happy, no one’s happy.” But Amy, in God’s strength, put this one in reverse. Applied a positive spin. In their lives and in their home.

As Mamas and keepers of hearts and homes, we do carry this responsibility. Some days I like it. Some days I don’t. It doesn’t really matter. The responsibility is mine, just the same. It’s sort of like when one of my little guys takes a fall. He stops, examines the damage, and looks to me to see if he should cry. If I say “Shake it off, Buddy”, he’s usually fine. If I fret and fuss and make a major deal over a minor spill, there’s bawling to beat the band.

Mama lays it down.

If I want my home to be a place of encouragement, growth, and joyful service, a rich place where God’s sweet love flows fresh and free, I’d better be walking the walk. Talking the talk.

Setting the tone for others in my home.

God, only, only in your grace and strength can I set the tone for a healthy, strong, God-honoring home. Empower me. Fill me. Let your Spirit flow!