I can feel the stress echo off his body as his hand cradles the phone. The knot grows in his stomach. Honestly, he doesn’t care either way. He just desperately wants both women to be happy. He will be lucky if he gets through this with both at least mostly placated. He knows he has it easier than some men. The thousands of miles that separate him from his parents keep these occurrences to a minimum. But, on the other hand, the occurrences are of hurricane proportion when they do occur.

Honestly, they are both great women. It would be so much easier if he didn’t like one of them. His heart is torn in two. On one hand is his precious Mama who gave him life. And not just the physical life – she gave him a great childhood. While she was a no-nonsense kind of mom – he never doubted her love for him. She served him and his three brothers selflessly – always putting others needs before her own. Often to the determent of her emotional strength. Then Dad would have to step in and rope the boys into giving her some much needed relief – for a few hours – until the testostronians were again back to doing what they did best and Mom was left holding the bag.

Then there was his wife. His precious wife. His life was so tightly intertwined into hers, he could never imagine life without her. He knew she loved him to the core. He loved having a best friend he could confide in – still loving to spend time with her after a quarter of a century.

Both women were strong women. Which in and of itself is usually a good thing. Strong women get things done. Strong women are great homekeepers and moms. Strong women also like things done their way. long as both women were on the same page -or on separate continents – life was good. But, those rare occasions when they both had ideas and the ideas were polar opposites – well, this was one of those moments.

There was only one other in over 25 years and that was 5 years ago when his mom wanted a 40 year anniversary party thrown for her and dad at the children’s expense. It required a weeks vacation and travel to Tennessee. His wife was a nightmare throughout the whole ordeal. He gets chest pains even rethinking the event and the weeks proceeding up to it. His wife didn’t want to go and she was very vocal about it. His mom wanted it to happen and she was very vocal about it. Why, why couldn’t one of them compromise? In the end he had to put on a smile for the family and try and console his wife behind the closed doors. It was so stressful. All he wanted was for everyone to get along. Why couldn’t one of them put aside their wishes for one week?

Now it’s the 45th anniversary for his parents. And they want the family to fly to Germany. His wife is trying to be more patient and flexible. His mom – not so much. She has certain things that are important to her and she isn’t taking into account the effort or sacrifice they will cause. The one that is causing the tight grip on the phone at the moment is the revelation that she wants them to stay at the house while they are in Germany. He has already told her the family is planning to stay for a couple of days and then travel around Europe and then return for a few days before they leave. She is also insisting the whole family come at the same time – which may or may not be possible. She isn’t happy with anything less -and waiting until Christmas isn’t an option either.

Now – he is forced with the decision of telling his mom is isn’t going to work the way she wants – or going back to the drawing board with his wife. Which, may or may not be a good idea. Sometimes she is so hard to figure out. If only she had a flashing light above her head – green means go and red means stop. It would be most helpful. He can only hope this is a pre-menopausal thing and once she gets through it life will be easier. Where can he get one of those lights? If it were green, she would listen to his concerns about his mom’s wishes and possibly come up with a compromise or solution. However, if it is red she will either cry or yell and ramble on and on about how awful life is. He will have to distance himself from her rantings enough to stay calm and try and calm her down.

He gets her point. He really does. But, in the end – this is his mom. Doesn’t she see that? For no one else would he make or ask her to make these sacrifices. His mom is talking about not being on this earth much longer – which may or may not be true. Does he really want to not make the memories special for her? Will she have a 50th anniversary? She might. Or, she might not. Carpe diem.


Love God. Love Others.

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

This was the text for the sermon our pastor preached on this weekend. Isn’t it funny how you can read a passage over and over – even memorize it, and then one day it jumps off the page like you have never read it before? That’s what happened last night when I read these verses.  As children we sing, “Jesus Love Me” and are taught to follow the golden rule. Love is the premise of the Christian walk. Unfortunately, I think it becomes like the picture you hang on the wall. When you first purchase it, it’s all new and you notice it every time you walk past it.  Fast forward a few months or years, you still love the picture, but you rarely notice it. It’s just become a comfortable part of your life.  I just love those light bulb moments when you see something fresh and new, as if you are seeing it for the first time.

Pastor began his sermon sharing a story of Green Bay Packer’s football coach, Vince Lombardi who delivered a powerful speech. He walked in with a pigskin in hand and one the group quieted down said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” He went on to describe the fundamentals of football. You take this football and get it across the opponent’s line. You keep the ball from crossing our line. You tackle and block to accomplish this.  Pastor then when on to say John 13:34 is a lot like the speech Vince Lombardi gave his team so many years ago.

The Christian life can be summed up in two things.  Love God. Love others.

What a great reminder! Life can get so busy – How refreshing to stop and focus on what really matters. But, Pastor didn’t stop there. He made it practical. What does love mean? It means doing the right thing even when you don’t want to. Ouch. Now that’s making it personal. I thought about the times in my heart when I just couldn’t get there – when I just wanted my way so badly. I wanted to love, but I wanted my way so much more!  I knew at that moment God was asking me to go deeper with Him. He was asking me to make a commitment to love others and love Him, so the next time I was faced with a choice, the decision would already be made. I would remember this commitment and regardless of my feelings, I would choose love. As I’m mulling over what this commitment would look like, Pastor shared a story from Corrie Ten Boom on forgiveness.  If you know anything about Corrie, you know she was a prisoner in the concentration camps and suffered greatly. She spoke about forgiveness of a guard who mistreated her.  This video shares her story in her own words. It’s just a few minutes and so moving – it’s well worth your time to watch it.

As I’m listening to the suffering Corrie faced and processing all the suffering Jesus faced, my own seems so small.  Yet, I know when the going gets tough, I will be tempted to turn back to my selfishness and choose to love myself over God and others. I pray and ask God to show me clearly, beyond a certainty that I am to love, whatever the cost to me.  Wouldn’t you know it, Pastor concludes with a series of verses on love. One right after another.  After the first two, I told God I understood.  But Pastor kept reading verses and reading verses.  It became almost comical as I’m thinking, “God, I got it….really, I got it.”  But, I think He knows me and knows I will quickly turn from obedience and love to my own self-centered choices.

It’s so clear. The whole Christian life is summed up on loving God and loving others.  It seems so easy – but in reality it is impossible without God’s help. Love is a choice. Make a commitment before emotions get involved.  Then, follow through on that commitment regardless of how you might feel in the moment.  Trust God to meet you where you are and help you when you don’t think you can do it.

Luke 10:27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself

Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

James 2:8   If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well

1 Cor. 14:4-7 “ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Eph. 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Rom. 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves”

His Grace is Amazing


Sitting, head bowed, I feel the weight of the morning wash away. It was one of those mornings I’m none to proud of. Knowing what I should do, yet unable to reach past my emotions I ended up in a complete meltdown.  During the meltdown, which I knew it was illogical, I felt paralyzed to stop the hurricane of emotions that spilled forth. Thankfully, my dear husband sopped up the emotional mess before everyone else in my close proximity saw it.  Bless him.

But,  after all was said and done the guilt didn’t dissipate.   Rather, it grew. “If I was a better Christian I would have…”  or “I should be beyond such immaturity”. No matter the cause, it’s so discouraging to fail. My afternoon was overcast with the earlier episode.  How I wished for a do-over button – I would be gracious and kind and smile too.

As the afternoon progresses to evening, my sour mood continued and now I found myself at church. The words of the songs that usually bring delight to my soul felt like gravel in my mouth. The final song before the message the pastor suggests we sit quietly and pray if we’d like. As I listened to the words, truth, forgiveness and freedom flooded my soul. My shortcomings weren’t any surprise to God. He’d already forgiven me when I’d asked. The guilt wasn’t from Him, nor was it accomplishing anything positive.

Thank you Jesus for your unfailing love.  One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 136.  Twenty-six times David repeats the truth that God’s love endures forever. It endures through the good and the bad. How thankful I am that Jesus is enough. He is good and does good things.  He made the heavens and the sun – yet He remembers us in our lowly estate.  Wow!  I just have no words.  Thank you, Jesus!

Psalm 136

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

4 to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights
His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.

17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever

Why do I Care

IMG_1661Why do I care when my teenager is unhappy with my decision – or when my husband doesn’t parade after me singing accolades of all I’ve accomplished during the day?  I also find myself worrying if my house is clean enough – will the friends who stopped in think I’m a slob? Or, maybe they will notice my laminate counter tops – with a gouge in it?  After they leave I’m rethinking the conversation in my head. Did that pause in the conversation mean they were offended? On and on it goes…

That little voice creeps up telling me I’m not good enough.  The voice I know all to well.  The one I’ve heard from childhood.  Early on I was desperate for my parents to notice my accomplishments amidst the chaos of their day. Then in elementary school I heard the taunts of the boys chanting, “four eyes, four eyes” seemingly endlessly. As I moved into middle school and got contacts, but I found myself taller than most.  Hence I acquired a new nickname – Jolly Green Giant. High school – now high school was better. It was better because I learned to watch people around me and see what they were doing and how others were reacting to them.  I then patterned my words and actions accordingly.  I learned the art of masks.

In some ways, I still feel like I’m wearing those masks as watching to see what everyone else is wearing, how they are decorating their homes, how they are interacting with their kids. The fear of failure or of being deemed a loser ties me to chains of acceptance that are squeezing my wrists tighter and tighter.

I love my children. I don’t want to hurt them. But, it is unrealistic to expect they will be elated with every restriction I place on them. If they are frustrated at me, but not because of some offense but because I’m upholding God’s Biblical standards, that’s ok.  It doesn’t make me a bad person.  I can feel the chains slipping off as this thought becomes clearer in my mind.

I don’t need others to affirm my every move. If my poor tired husband doesn’t notice the clean clothes in his dresser drawers before he’s even gone upstairs –where the dresser is – it doesn’t define me.  When I think about it, I don’t even notice the ding on my counter tops And honestly, I’m kind of glad they are older laminate, I can just use them and enjoy them and not worry about staining them.  I’m sure I would love new granite ones someday, but there are just so many more important things that come into my life every day.  I just don’t have the time or energy to worry about them right now. I realize I’m ok with that. I was just not ok with the idea that someone else wasn’t ok with it. Someone who doesn’t live here, who doesn’t use them and who wouldn’t be putting the energy into changing them out. Clank, clack…I hear chains hitting the ground.

instead of fretting at every conversation, what if I just pray before I meet with someone and ask God to, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3) It will help me feel more confident.

I feel like a weight is lifted.  I can jump and run, no longer bound by the chains that have held me since I was a wee-one.   I can just be me.

What if others don’t like me?  Does that make me a failure?  Do others determine that?

Am I a failure?

No! A thousand times, “NO!”

I love Jesus. I am trying to be more like Him every day. That is success. Success is not defined by dressing right, saying the right thing, decorating my house a certain way or having people verbally affirm me. No, success is walking each moment hand-in-hand with Jesus. Quietly listening for His promptings, obeying His word and by asking myself at the end of the day, “Did I please Jesus today?”

Galatians 1:10 (NIV) says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

 Thank you Jesus for opening my eyes and showing me where I was walking on the wrong path. I don’t want to walk the path of acceptance of others. The burden is too heavy.  Thank you for accepting me and loving me even when I was unlovable.  I want to be a blessing to those around me. I want my time to be freed up to enjoy people and not be a slave to what I think they might be thinking.  Thank you for your everlasting love.  Amen.