I Don’t Love What You Did . . . But I Love You!

Tony was about 3 or 4 years old and laying on the living room couch enjoying his grape juice in a sippy cup. All was well in his world, and when his world was good, mine was good!

Gary and I moved into our first home the year before Tony was born. It was brand new, and we had the joy of picking out the carpet, tile, appliances, and even the color of the paint. My father-in-law once said that I was going to wear the carpet out with the constant vacuuming. It was a happy time for us, we loved our new home, and we loved being new parents and the joys that parenting Tony and Vinny brought us each day.

On this particular day, Tony was tuned in to the Ninja Turtles movie, dressed in his Ninja Turtle jammies.  He was happy and content. Baby brother Vinny was napping in the other room, and Tony had full command of the house, TV, and me. It’s amazing how a peaceful scene such as this can go drastically south in a fraction of a second.

I asked Tony to sit up and drink his juice. He ignored me. I asked again. He turned his little shoulder so that his back would be completely to me. I reached down and picked him up and sat him on the couch in what I considered appropriate drinking posture. That sweet little boy turned his face to me and gave me a look that I will never forget. His
expression screamed of injustice, disbelief, and anger all in one little glance! Then he pulled the sippy cup full of grape juice from his lips, and threw it across the living room and into the wall!

While the sippy cup was flying and spiraling through the air, grape juice was spraying all over my new Gun Powder Blue carpet. Upon impact with the wall, the sippy cup lid came off and an explosion of purple juice covered my beautiful mauve colored wall.  As I remember, this all happened in super-slow-motion followed by deafening silence.

I grabbed Tony under his little arms and picked him up. He started screaming bloody murder, but it didn’t faze me for one second. I hauled his little screaming self down the hall and into his room. I tossed him down on his bed and told him to stay there. I went back to the living room and began soaking up the grape juice from my carpet. Tony was
still screaming bloody murder, so I marched back in to his room, turned him over and swatted him on his little behind. I left again and continued cleaning, and he was still screaming, and I mean SCREAMING! I went back into Tony’s room and turned him over and swatted him again! I left him laying there on his bed and went to finish cleaning my walls and carpet.

As I was cleaning and thinking about what I could use to cover up the stain on the walls, the stain of my own sin suddenly came to my mind and I was overwhelmed with shame. I thought about all the times in my life when I threw my proverbial sippy cup and stained the walls and carpet of my life, and the walls and carpet of those around me. I
remembered hurtful things I had said and done over the years and marveled at the fact that when I deserved to be thrown down and swatted, my heavenly Father loved me and held me and covered the stain of my sin with His own blood. I realized how unlike my Father I am, and how I long to be more like Him.

By now, the screaming coming from Tony’s room had been replaced with quiet whimpering. I went down the hall and opened his door. He looked at me with the most defeated look I’d ever seen. He was expecting to be swatted again, and didn’t even care. I walked over to his bed, and sat down next to him. He sat up and snuggled into my
arms, still whimpering and hiccupping from his screaming and crying. I held him close and ran my fingers through his now sweaty hair and I said this to him: “I love you Tony! I’m so sorry I lost my temper with you! I’m so sorry I swatted you and threw you on your bed! I love you so much! I was wrong to behave that way! No matter what you did or do, I should never behave that way! Will you please forgive me?” Tony looked in my eyes and using his best big grown-up voice, he said this: “I forgive you, Mommy! I don’t love what you did . . . but I love you!!”

My little guy heard those same words from me a time or two, and was now using my own words on me! If only I would learn to use God’s words rather than defaulting to my own sinful words and ways.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me even when I disappoint you, thank you for forgiving me when I deserve a swat.  Thank you, Lord, for covering the stain of my sin with your blood. Please help me to act and react more like you.  I love you!

Blowing Smoke and Going Nowhere

One of the loveliest places I have ever visited is a little town called Talkeetna.  Talkeetna is in Alaska.  My husband and I arrived in Talkeetna by bus along with many other tourists who, like us, were enjoying a week in Denali National Park.  Our bus wasn’t one of the new ones with all the bells and whistles, it was just an old mediocre tour bus in a convoy of a dozen other buses.  The ride on the bus was uneventful to be sure, but the destinations were filled with the wonder of God’s glorious creation and creatures. In Talkeetna, we even saw a triple rainbow, so bright and full of promise!

The buses dropped us off at a train station where they waited for us as we toured Talkeetna.  The majority of the trains coming and going through the station were cargo trains.  There was a passenger train or two, but the train that caught my eye, and the eye of a certain little 5-year-old boy was a big black steam locomotive!  That locomotive came into the train station at a near crawl, chug-chug-chugging as the conductor steered it to a spot right in front of the crowd waiting to board the buses for the rest of the tour.

The crowd was silent, watching in awe as the huge coal eating train loudly spat black smoke and steam in every direction.  With what seemed like a thunderous deep sigh, the huge train came to a halt right in front of us.  All was quiet.  That is until the little 5-year-old boy let out the loudest, shrillest, most terrifying scream I have ever heard!

All eyes turned immediately to the little boy who was frantically trying to get away from his mother!  His heels were dug into the dirt in an effort to keep his mother from dragging him away from the huge locomotive to the buses. More than anything, that little boy wanted to ride on that monstrous locomotive! He had his little heart set on riding on the big black train, and nothing else would do!

My first thought was “Someone needs a time out!” Then I realized that maybe I was the one who needed a time out! How like that little boy am I, digging my heels in against God’s pull in my life, thinking that I know what I need better than God!

That little boy wanted a ride on the big black locomotive, yet his mother was taking him in a direction he didn’t understand and didn’t want to go. In his childish perspective, he thought he knew what was best for him. He thought he knew what he needed to be happy.  He thought he knew better than his mom.  Clearly, in his mind, a ride on the locomotive was what he needed to be happy!

Little did he know his mother had made marvelous plans for him at the other end of the bus ride!  She was taking him on a steam boat cruise where he would see reindeer and a bush pilot taking off from, and landing on the river, right next to him!  He’d see sled dogs and a real Athabascan Indian tribe village!  He’d get to taste smoked salmon and touch the skins of wolves, bear and caribou!  The bus was going to take him to a little boy’s dream!  Yet he wanted to ride the train! The big, loud, coal burning, smoke spitting train, and the train was going nowhere.

The triple rainbow brightened as the child screamed louder and louder.  “Trust me, my child, I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11)

Oswald Chambers said “It is not a question of right and wrong, but a question of God taking you by a way which in the meantime you do not understand, and it is only by going through the confusion that you will get at what God wants.”

Like the little boy in Talkeetna, we may dig our heels in for a time, and even scream and cry when God pulls us in a direction we don’t understand.  But we must  turn away from that which is luring us away from God’s plan for our lives! We need to let Him take us by the hand, get on the bus and trust Him to take us where He wants!  Mile after mile, some easy, some difficult, the Lord will bring us closer and closer to where He wants us to be! And I promise, we will never regret the ride with the Lord!

Lord, Jesus, be the director of my steps, lead me and guide me in the way I should go.  Help me to distinguish between my desires and Your will, and give me the strength and fortitude to always choose Your will! Help me to trust You even when the way is not clear to me, help me to remember that You have the best plan, and the best route for my life. Thank You for holding tightly to me when I dig my heels in and try to go in a direction that is not best for me. Thank you for being the best Father.  I love you, Lord!

Just Do It!

          When my sons were 3 and 4, we moved to Apple Valley. It was a very hard move for the boys, and soon after, my youngest son, Vinny, developed a very bad stutter. Sometimes, he stuttered so badly that I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say. Sometimes, Tony would have to interpret for me. I don’t know how Tony could understand his brother, but he could, and he would let me know what Vinny was trying to say. Sometimes, especially if Tony wasn’t around to interpret, Vinny would get so frustrated with his stuttering that he’d dissolve into tears and stop trying. It wasn’t that I wasn’t listening to him, it was just that I couldn’t understand what he was saying to me.  Vinny would cry and retreat to his room and clean it, he’d put everything in perfect order in his closet and on his shelves. Gary and I knew that since he couldn’t control how words came from his lips, he wanted to control something, anything, so he put other areas of his little life in perfect, controlled order.

          One day, after I put the boys down for their naps, I began to weep with frustration over not being able to help Vinny. I had tried everything, including speech therapy and oral desensitization, but that little guy still could not stop stuttering, and spent much of his time silently cleaning and ordering his room. Gary and I were beside ourselves with worry and a deep sadness.

          On that particular day, Vinny was exhausted from trying to tell me something. He started crying in frustration, and was now sleeping soundly. Desperate for help and support, I went next door to my friend’s house. I poured my broken heart out to her, and she said, “Have you prayed?” I said “Of course I’ve prayed, Gary and I have been praying about this for months!” She said “I know you’re ‘praying’, but have you really prayed? Have you been talking to God the way you are talking to me? Have you poured your heart out to Him and asked Him to help your son?” I thought about it and realized that, no, I hadn’t.

          How many times do we say “I’m praying about this or that” or “I’m praying for you!” to someone, but really, we just have positive or sympathetic thoughts for them, or about their situation.  Then when we wonder why God didn’t answer our prayer, He wonders, “What prayer?”

          I love to pray. That’s not to say I’m good at it or do it enough. It’s a discipline; it has to be something we decide to do, then do it. I often fall asleep praying, and I used to think that was terrible. Then I remembered that God is my Father, and He loves it when I fall asleep in His arms, and that’s OK. I certainly would not be offended if my child fell asleep in my arms while telling me about his joys and sorrows!

          When I realized that I had not actually really prayed about Vinny’s stuttering problem, I was so surprised! I thought I had been praying for months! What I had been doing, though, was thinking, emoting, sharing my feelings, wringing my hands, and saying that I was praying. I would venture to say that most of my friends and family were doing the same, sincerely worrying about Vinny, and sincerely offering me their love and compassion and promises to pray. But did it end there? Too often, I think it does end there.

          Not long ago, I was discouraged to the point of not wanting to share my prayer requests with my friends and family because I felt it went nowhere. It began with me sharing my heartfelt concern, followed by a heartfelt response and promise to pray, and then, sadly, that was the end.

          Back at my neighbors, I confessed that I had not been praying as I should.  I had been complaining, and worrying and carrying the burden of this problem without ever really seeking help from God! I’d been running around saying “Oh my burden’s so heavy, it’s so heavy, I can’t take it! My poor aching back carrying this heavy weight!” I was announcing to the world my heartfelt concern, but never actually took it to the Throne! I just talked about it!

          I thanked my friend and told her that I needed to leave. It was time for me to pray, to make an appointment at the feet of Jesus and seek His help. That’s exactly what I did. I went home and checked on the boys, and they were still sleeping soundly. I got on my knees in my bedroom and I prayed like I had never prayed before!

          God met me there, and I felt His presence, I felt Him wrap His arms around me and say “I’ve been wondering when you were going to talk to me about this! It blesses me when you trust me with your concerns! What concerns you, concerns me. What breaks your heart, breaks mine. What brings you joy, brings me joy! You underestimate my great love for you, and for Vinny.”

          After that wonderful time with Jesus, I called Gary and told him what had happened, I told him about the terrible morning Vinny had and how he cried himself to sleep. I told him how I went next door and faced the truth of my “faux faith”, and how I thought I’d been praying, but in reality I’d only been thinking and worrying and wringing my hands. I told him how I came home and prayed for Vinny.

          On the other end of the phone, I could hear Gary was emotional, and struggling to speak, he cleared his throat and said “I was sitting at my desk wringing my hands and worrying about Vinny this morning when God very clearly spoke to me and said “Why are you carrying this alone? Why have you not asked Me to help? Don’t you know I love Vinny even more than you do? Why are you leaving Me out of this? Ask Me.”

          Gary locked his office door and got on his knees and starting praying to God at precisely the same moment that I was on my knees praying! Here we were, two broken-hearted parents in two different cities, on our knees separately together enjoying the full attention of the Maker of the Universe on behalf of our sleeping son.

          I felt like I was floating around the kitchen as I baked cookies in preparation of Tony and Vinny waking up from their nap. A few minutes later, the dogs trotted through the kitchen – this meant their boys couldn’t be far behind them. Sure enough, there came Tony and Vinny, smiling and rubbing their sleepy eyes, each trying to be the first one to get a hug and a cookie from me. They sat at the counter with their milk and warm cookies, and my sweet Vinny looked at me, and without even a hint of a stutter, said “Mom, I had the best dream ever!”

          I marveled as he, stutter free, told me his dream. He dreamed of jumping on the trampoline all the way up to heaven and there were angels and angel dogs and he was soaring through the clouds with them! Then mid story, he realized he wasn’t stuttering! He stopped telling me about his dream, and looked at me with his big blue surprised eyes open wide and said “Hear me? Hear me?”

          So my friends, don’t just talk about praying, don’t just tell your friends and family that you will be praying for them.


Give Me a Sign, Lord!

Spring cleaning started early this year at my house. When I pulled out a box of old photos (and by “old photos” I mean “slides”) from the attic, I found an old picture of me.  I was at the top of a black diamond ski run at Badger Pass in Yosemite posing for a selfie with a sign that said “DANGER!  DO NOT GO BEYOND THIS POINT!”  Finding that picture sure brought back some memories. . . . .

Standing on that mountaintop, I felt like I could conquer the world!  I decided to disregard the sign, and go my own way.  I skied beyond the sign with a grand plan of skiing down the backside of the mountain, then back around to the front. It didn’t quite turn out as I had planned.

The terrain was rugged. There were no carefully cleared and maintained runs on the backside of Badger Pass. It was wild — wild and scary and steep.  About halfway down the mountain (head over heels half the time), I realized that it was a bad idea.  I took off my skis and tried to hike back up.  The snow was too deep and, without my skis on, I sunk nearly to my waist with every step. I had no choice but to put my skis back on and go down.

It began to snow. Soon it was a blizzard.  The blizzard turned into a white-out.  A white-out is when the ground and sky and everything in between are white.  This terrible blizzard dropped 9 feet of snow. There was no shelter, nowhere to go, no “sign” to follow, no way out.

“A SIGN!” I said to myself, “Yes, that’s the answer; leave a sign for rescuers to see!”  Laying my skis on the snow in the shape of an “X,” I hoped a rescue helicopter would see them and come help me.  Within 2 minutes, my skis were buried.  I stuck them in the snow so they formed a big standing “X,” but that too was overcome with snow and of no use.  There was nothing more to do.  Tired and freezing, I just wanted to sit down and go to sleep. I didn’t care if I died out there, I couldn’t go on, and it was getting dark fast.  The white-out was turning into a black-out.

There was a huge fallen tree nearby that I thought could provide shelter.  With frozen hands, I placed pine branches over the fallen tree to form a cave like lean-to and covered the branches with packed snow to make a solid shelter.  I stood my skis up against the fallen tree in case someone was looking for me, and went inside my little shelter. Never had I felt so tired and lethargic, and my arms and legs felt like limbs of lead.  Now settled in my snow cave, I became very warm and comfortable – too comfortable.  I took off my jacket, my beanie, boots and gloves, and ate some snow. “Someone will find me,” I thought.  “I just have to stay awake and listen for the search party.” Exhaustion, dehydration, and hypothermia set in, and soon I fell into a very deep and dangerous sleep.

“Was someone calling my name?” I tried to get up, but I couldn’t move my arms or legs. I heard it again — someone was calling my name!  I tried to answer but my throat was too dry and I was so weak that I couldn’t produce much more than a croak. I kept trying to respond, croaking and coughing, and finally I heard the words I’ll never forget, “We hear you! Keep calling! We’re coming!”

Before long, I heard the rescue party digging and they pulled me out of the snow cave, which was now buried beneath nine feet of fresh snow.  They wrapped me in blankets and gave me water and a Snickers Bar.  They found me!  They rescued me!  When I came out of the snow cave I was surprised that the sky was full of bright shining stars and a full moon, and the snow had stopped falling! “Of course it stopped snowing,” I thought to myself.  “All the snow in heaven’s store-house fell last night!”

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1-4

How often I ask God to give me a sign, to direct my path and give me wisdom and guidance — a spiritual road map to help me find the way through a storm. How often I accuse God of not showing up when I need Him, of not answering my prayers, or not giving me a sign when I need it.  Then I remember my night on Badger Pass, and the sign that I ignored. Then humbly I ask God to guide my steps, guard my heart, and lead me in the way He desires for me to go.  In His loving way, He reminds me (again) that the roadblocks, signs, and detours are for my own good, and I need to trust Him, and obey Him. Those times when I think God didn’t show up, the reality is, I walked on without Him.  I need to heed the signs, not take selfies with them!

Have you ever felt like you needed a sign from God? Have you ever pushed your way beyond the sign to go your own way? Have you ever taken a selfie as you walk right past God’s instruction?  If so, you’re in good company, and we have a loving Shepherd who will pursue us when we fail to hear His voice.  He will recognize our croaking voice when we call His name, and He will say, “I hear you! Keep calling! I’m coming!”

 “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand . . . ” John 10:26-28

Lord, forgive me for too often asking You to guide me and then going my own way.  Thank you Father, for pursuing me even in my disobedience and disregard for You. Thank You for finding me!  Thank You for rescuing me!

The Green Rake

I used to raise peacocks. And, well, when you have peacocks, you have peacock poop.  And when you have peacock poop, you have to clean up the peacock coop.  And on this particular day, the poopy coop duty was mine.  So I got my brand new big green rake, and went into the peacock coop to scoop the poop.

The coop was very large, about 900 square feet.  There were a couple of nice creosote trees in there, some big rocks the birds liked to stand on, and a little pool for the peacocks to enjoy.  There were 8 peacocks in there, including two who we named He-Pea and She-Pea who were the mommy and daddy of all the others.  He-Pea ruled the roost, and She-Pea loved him and always stayed as close to him as she could.  They were a match made in heaven.  Until . . . . . the green rake came along.

My green rake was made of plastic, with a wooden handle.  It was a very bright green and very wide at the bottom. When I raked with it, I could rake a large area.  I was raking away, gathering the peacock poop into a pile when I noticed He-Pea was acting peculiar.  He left She-Pea, and was walking very near my rake, even prancing a little.  His little head was bobbing up and down and he was making a strange sound.  He would square off toward the green rake and puff his chest out. Then suddenly, with a loud swoooooooosh he threw open his big tail into a beautiful, giant, colorful fan!  His fanned tail was about 6 feet across at the widest point, and boasted of some of the most brilliant colors God created! Once He-Pea’s tail was up and fanned, he brought it down over his head almost like a hood, and then he began to shake it.  The sound of his shaking tail was like the sound of the wind blowing through crisp, dead leaves in the trees, rattling until they find their way to the ground below.  It was impressive to be sure, but why in the world was he acting this way toward my green rake? I’d only seen him behave that way toward his beloved She-Pea!

I glanced over to where She-Pea was, near the rocks.  She looked unimpressed, even disgusted. I looked back at He-Pea, and saw him again puffing out his chest and, wait, was he flirting with my rake?  He was!  He-Pea was putting on a show trying to impress my green rake!  He-Pea mistook the color and shape of the rake for another peacock, and he was doing his best to impress the new arrival!

I used my rake to try to push him away, but he just kept it up, dancing and prancing and showing off his grand tail!  I have been known to talk to myself now and then, and I often talk to my pets, so I said to He-Pea, “What in the world do you think you’re doing?  This rake has nothing for you! Do you really think this rake can make you happy? Do you think this rake can make you feel good?  Do you think this rake will snuggle with you in your nest and take care of your babies?  Are you out of your pea-brain?”  Then I continued and told him, “Look at your beloved She-Pea watching you act like a bird-brain!  With She-Pea you have the real deal, the love of your life, your beloved, your soul-pea, how foolish of you to take your eyes off of your beloved for even a moment to look at this green rake!”

Then it hit me.  How often am I distracted by something appealing or tempting to me? How easily are my eyes drawn away from my beloved Jesus and focused on a green rake?  Anything, and I mean anything, that takes your eyes off of Jesus is a lie!  It cannot make you happy or fulfill you. Anything that takes your eyes of Jesus is nothing but a green rake. And we all know what my green rake was used for . . . . .

Lord Jesus, Thank you for making me your beloved! Help me to keep my eyes on You and You alone!

I Got Subwoofers!

Have you ever heard of subwoofers? Subwoofers “enhance the sound system” according to Yahoo. Subwoofers help you hear the “boom boom boom”. Subwoofers help with volume, clarity and even background noise reduction.

Why would one need a subwoofer? Obviously, to enhance the sound that one is choosing to listen to. Kid’s sometimes put them in their trunk so everyone within a 5 mile radius can hear what they’re listening to while they’re driving.

On a spiritual level, a subwoofer would be the Holy Spirit, the one who comes along side us and gives us spiritual volume, clarity, and even background noise reduction. Or Jesus, the one who intercedes for us, who makes sense of our mumbling and presents it to God clearly and beautifully.

But why do we need someone to “come along side” or to “intercede” for us? We need that because in and of ourselves, we are inadequate. We need “enhancing”, we need someone who is able to give us clarity, understanding and spiritual volume; we need someone who can come along side us and drown out the background noise of the world, so we can more clearly hear God’s voice in our lives!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I love that word “through”. Christ is the door “through” which we must walk in order to benefit from His enhancing. When we walk through that door, a transformation takes place and our ears are opened, the spiritual volume is turned up and we hear Jesus, and only Jesus. We walk through that door and we are plugged into the most powerful subwoofer of all time!

When I was the Dean of Students of a private school, we hosted exchange students from many different countries. Sometimes speaking to them was difficult because they couldn’t always comprehend what I was saying. English-speaking students frequently tended to think the exchange students were dumb because they didn’t understand. They were not dumb, they were probably smarter than some of us, they may have spoken 2 or 3 languages compared to my one, but they didn’t fully comprehend everything we said. They needed someone to come along side them, and translate for them.

I totally empathize with the exchange students. I have 85% hearing loss in one ear, and 55% in the other. I also have tinnitus. I sometimes feel  like I don’t hear a thing. I have managed, by continually asking “Say that again?” or just smiling and nodding when I don’t have a clue what someone said. Sometimes, if I can’t hear someone speaking to me, I cup my ear, trying desperately to funnel their words into my ear. When all else fails, I read lips.

Sometimes, when someone is talking to me, I hear sounds, usually just a bunch of consonants, so I add my own vowels to try to make sense of the sounds. I probably have a 50% success rate with that, which means a 50% failure rate as well. My family laughed at me more than once when I responded to a comment or question the way I THOUGHT I heard it. For example, after we watched a movie one night, Gary looked at me and said “Why are we still up?” I answered “No, but there’s Diet Pepsi. Do you want me to get you some?” It’s humiliating and frustrating beyond words.  It reminds me of that scene in Sleepless in Seattle where Meg Ryan sits next to a lady on the plane who says “I hate flying, don’t you?” and Meg says “Yes, and I just told the biggest one!”

Recently, I was fitted with my own personal little pea-sized subwoofers. When they were placed in my ears I heard clearly for the first time in many years. I was overwhelmed! I actually started sobbing, I couldn’t believe what I had been missing! The Doctor handed me a tissue and said “Welcome back!” And to top it off, now that I can hear, I am not so focused on the tinnitus, and barely notice it. Similarly, when our ears are opened spiritually we are not focused on the sounds of the world, we are focused on Jesus, and as we allow Him to turn up our spiritual volume, we hear Him say, “Welcome back!”

How’s your hearing, spiritually speaking? How’s your comprehension? Are you missing something? Do you need someone to come and turn up the volume? Are you reading lips and adding vowel sounds to the consonants to make up words? Do you need a subwoofer? I’d like to recommend a great subwoofer, His name is Jesus! And He loves you! He wants to come along side you and bring clarity and understanding to  your life!

“Blessed are those who HEAR the word of God and keep it.” What a blessing! What an honor! What a responsibility!

Ignorance is Bliss, or is it?

We’ve all heard the statement “Ignorance is bliss.” It implies “If it ain’t said, it ain’t so.”   It implies that what we don’t know won’t hurt us. 

So, what is it that we don’t know?  What don’t you know?  What are you NOT worried about, because you don’t know about it?  Is it that diagnosis?  You could have some terrible cancer right now, but you don’t know about it, so you’re not worried about it, and ignorance is bliss!  But once you receive the diagnosis, you have the knowledge of the disease, and that changes everything. Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge brings a healthy fear, and a call to action. Once you have knowledge, you can not continue to live in ignorance.

Recently, Honda recalled certain 2004 cars because of a faulty air bag. This is what the recall notice said:





Thousands of people have been cluelessly driving around for years completely ignorant of the fact that if their air bag deploys, shrapnel could be projectiled into their face killing them instantly. The very device installed to save their lives, could take their lives.  But ignorance is bliss. What you don’t know, won’t hurt you.

My mom drives a 2004 Honda CRV and when she heard about this recall, she immediately took her car to the Honda dealership.  The dealership had been so inundated with recalls, that they didn’t have the part.  They said to bring the car back in a couple of months when the part was in stock.

Do you think, after receiving the recall notice, and knowing what my mom knew about the danger, she was going to drive that car again without it being repaired?  Of course not!  After a little persuasive language from my dad, the Honda dealership kept Mom’s car and provided her with a rental car.  They told her they wouldn’t have the part for a few months, but they would cover the cost of the rental until the problem was fixed.

One day my mom was telling us the story about her Honda and the recall.  My son, Tony, said, “I drive a 2004 Honda Civic!”  My heart sank!  My son commutes from Carlsbad to Riverside and back at least 10 times per month!  What if he’s in a fender bender and the airbag deploys propelling shards of murderous metal right into his beautiful face, killing him instantly?

The truth of the matter is, the possibility of Tony being killed in his car by a faulty airbag was a reality since he bought the used 2004 Honda several years ago.  It didn’t happen, thank God, but when I knew it was a possibility, I pulled rank and played my Mama card on my adult son and insisted he take his car in immediately!  Being the good boy that he is, he drove straight to a Honda dealership, and drove away in a shiny new rental car! 

Ignorance is bliss, yes, but knowledge?  Knowledge brings fear.  A healthy fear. Fear of that airbag deploying sending virtual shards of death into your face. For years, my mom drove her 2004 Honda CRV with the exact same risk whether she knew it or not.  The risk of her airbag killing her was just as real in 2004 as it was when she received the recall!  Same with Tony, his airbag could have killed him years ago just as easily as it could have killed him the day he found out about the recall.  Once they received the recall, however, they had knowledge, and knowledge brings fear.  Fear that comes from knowledge is healthy, it’s a fear that is for our own good, for our well-being! It’s a fear that promises us a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)  And Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge.”

When we fear (love, honor, respect, praise) the Lord, we are just beginning to tap the spring of knowledge He makes available to us.  With knowledge, we can avoid a face full of shrapnel from a faulty airbag.  In ignorance, we plod forward, not knowing or caring that we might have a face full of shrapnel in a second if the very thing whose purpose is to save us, betrays us.  Ignorance is, indeed bliss.  Bliss is not good. Knowledge is good, and wisdom is good. Fearing the Lord is good.

Proverbs 15:31 – 33 says:  “Whoever heeds life-giving correction (pays attention to that recall notice) will be at home among the wise.  Those who disregard discipline (ignore the recall) despise themselves,  but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord.”  We are called to be wise, to be knowledgeable, not ignorant. When we have knowledge, when we are given to know a thing, it’s completely unacceptable to continue to behave the way we did in ignorance, because now we KNOW!

As believers, we have been made aware of the dangers of complacency, and ignorance. We are called, no, we are required to ACT on what we know, we are required to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

Once we know Jesus, we receive a recall notice – for each of us it may be different.  What is Jesus recalling in your life?  Is it that relationship you shouldn’t be in? Is it pornography? Is it drugs, alcohol? Is there a secret sin in your life?  What are you going to do with His recall in your life? Are you going to take action? Or are you going to risk getting hit in the face with shrapnel from Satan? Ignorance is bliss, but we are not ignorant anymore, we KNOW what He expects from us. And we are required to respond to that recall.

I don’t want to be ignorant.  I want knowledge. I want to fear God and adhere to His recall notice in my life. He has overcome, and He has the power to recall whatever Satan sends my way.

May we go though life with all knowledge and wisdom from God, and a clear understanding of what lies in wait for us. Check your spiritual inbox daily for a recall notice from the Lord. Then act on it.  Make the repairs.  Only then can we defend ourselves from Satan’s shrapnel shower.

Beautifully Broken

My husband Gary and I are nearing our 38th wedding anniversary.  For our 30th, we enjoyed an Alaskan cruise.  This was a wonderful cruise, beginning with a week on terra firma touring the beautiful Alaskan National Parks, including Denali.  The end of that week landed us in Whittier, where we boarded the beautiful floating vessel that carried us through the spectacular glaciers, as well as many wonderful ports of call.

This trip was particularly special to me, because we were celebrating a milestone anniversary.  On the cruise, I had the opportunity to attend a class where we learned to make a ceramic picture frame.  The process took several days, as the frame needed to be painted, and put in a kiln.  I was very happy with my handiwork, and in it, I placed a picture of my husband and me on our balcony in glacier bay.  How I love to look at that picture, and how I love remembering that trip, and the love I put into creating the frame that would hold the memory that was so dear to me.

The frame and picture had a place of honor in our living room, where I enjoyed looking at it every day, until the day it was accidentally knocked over, and broke into three pieces.  “Don’t worry!” I said to myself, “You can glue it together!”  And I did.  Carefully and lovingly, I glued the pieces of the frame together.  I held the broken pieces in my hands for several minutes as the glue dried.  When I was sure the frame was ready, I placed the picture back in it, and returned it to it’s place in the living room.

Not a month went by before my beloved frame was once again knocked over, and lay on the floor in several pieces.  This time, all the breaks were new, the glue held the old breaks together.  I was pretty impressed with the integrity of the glue, and knew that I could glue the frame together a second time.  Again, I held each of the broken pieces in my hands tightly as the glue dried, lovingly putting the little frame back together and back to it’s place in the living room.

You guessed it, I came home from an outing to find my frame on the ground, broken – in all new places – a third time.  They say “third time’s a charm”, so I got my trusty glue and once again glued the frame together.  While admiring my frame, and all the scars, uneven seams, and glued cracks,  it hit me.  That frame is me!

Life has a way of knocking us down sometimes.  Maybe it’s because we lost our job, or didn’t get the job we want. Maybe it’s financial problems that knock us for a loop. Maybe addiction, illness, loneliness, a wayward child, maybe unfaithfulness finds it’s way into our marriage, divorce, depression, death, and the list goes on.  These things happen and knock us all the way down, and we break.  Sometimes, we shatter.  Sadly, nobody is immune to the problems and pains of this world.  But be of good cheer!  He has overcome this world!

Our sweet Lord and Savior picks up each broken piece of our hearts, our marriages, our lives, and glues them together with holy glue that binds and repairs like only He can do!  His hands lovingly and gently hold us until the binding is complete and all the repairs are made.  Then He places us back in a special place of honor where He can enjoy His handiwork.  Over and over again, He patiently tends to our broken pieces, each time, making us stronger and stronger. Each time, investing more of Himself in us, making us beautiful because of the time spent in His hands.

My frame is now so glued together that when it fell for the fourth time, it did not break.  You see, there was so much glue, and so many repairs, that the frame is now stronger than when I first made it! My beloved frame spent hours in the hands of it’s maker as I lovingly repaired it and made it like new.  It is more beautiful to me now than it was the day I made it!

Just like my frame, we can be certain that our Maker, the Almighty Lord God, will always pick us up when life knocks us down, He will hold us together, and return us to a place of Honor, where He will enjoy His beautiful creation forever!

Waxing Nostalgic

This was originally written 9 years ago, much has happened since then, but I still want to share. Tony’s birthday is coming up again, and Jenniffer has been gone for 39 years now.  It’s a blessing to know that God is good, all the time.  Even when we are grieving our empty nest, God is good, and He is a good Father, and He has a plan for a future and a hope for His children!  Please enjoy:

After church this morning, Gary and I headed to Sears. Tony’s birthday is the 22nd, and we were shopping for his gift. We decided on a Craftsman 26 gallon Air Compressor and the air tools that go with it. We were happily shopping and comparing prices in the tool section, Gary was joyously grunting and scratching with the excitement of being around so many tools. Then it happened. I saw the photography studio.

Years and years of memories hit me like a tsunami! They flooded my heart and I drowned in them! I honestly could not stay afloat in all those memories! Just yesterday, the childhood lifetime of my kids was photographed in that studio! Just yesterday, I was telling my boys to “smile” for the camera, and to not crawl on the dirty floor.  Just yesterday!  I had a complete, unabashed meltdown! I was crying and blindly trying to find my way back to the Craftsman Tool section when Gary spotted me.  His first thought was that I’d been attacked and stabbed, and he was scanning my body for wounds.  I could not find the words to explain the attack on my heart in the photography studio.  Poor Gary just held me in the Craftsman Tool section of Sears. And I sobbed. I didn’t even care what other customers thought. I lost it.

How can it be that yesterday I sat with my babies in those very chairs waiting to have them photographed for birthdays, Easter and Christmas and the next day I find myself shopping for an Air Compressor for my man-son? It’s just too horrible. I am not recovering from this mornings episode very quickly.

As I write this, I’m still crying, my eyes are swollen, and I’m a disaster. The really pathetic thing is, I don’t even want to feel better. I want to wallow in my misery. Clearly,  I’m a weird, sick person.  Am I supposed to get used to the fact that the beautiful childhood of my children is history?  Why yes, yes I am! And I have to thank God for those days, and move on, thanking God and praying for more days with my sons.  More days with my sons . . . . my goodness gracious, I have so much to look forward to!

Two days ago was the anniversary of the death of my cousin. She was shot in the head by a stranger 30 years ago. She was only 8. My Aunt and Uncle will never “get used” to living without Jenniffer.  They would love to have been able to buy their adult daughter a birthday gift.  Oh how they would have loved to mourn an empty nest.  I thank God that I am not in their situation, but today, it feels like I am, and I am sad.



Mary’s Hands

Mary's hands
Old and new.
My sweet Mary
Mary’s hands have held hundreds of babies.

I was with Mary when Joe died, holding her hand as she held his. They’d been married for most of their lives. She was 15 and he was 16 when they got married. They lived through hard times, and they struggled to get by, but they did get by. They were both very hard-working Mexican born Americans. Joe was a Veteran of War, Mary was his beloved.

When Joe died, Mary’s life changed dramatically. Joe had taken care of everything. He paid the bills, he took care of the yard, Mary was beside herself and overwhelmed with the thought of her life without her beloved. But she did it.

The next 15 years brought changes to Mary’s life. She was a widow. She was alone. She had to work her hands to the bone to take care of the third of an acre property she and Joe called “home” for so many years. But she did it.

Looking back, I see that Mary began to die when Joe did. Don’t get me wrong, she fought valiantly to maintain the life Joe had set up for her. It was just too much. Mary’s health began to fail, her body became frail. Her bones were wrought with the effects of arthritis. Her mind was overtaken with the ugly disease called dementia. Sweet Mary lived a life of fear, suspicion, and loneliness. Even her fingers betrayed her with pain and uselessness.

One day, as Mary sat rubbing her painful hands, she told me how embarrassed she was that her hands were so ugly. I took her hands in mine, and reminded her of the good things her hands had accomplished, the beautiful things her hands had done. I reminded her of the day her beloved Joe took her hands into his and made her his own. I reminded her of the day her firstborn wrapped his little fist around her finger for the first time. I reminded her of all the love her hands had bestowed upon those lucky enough to call her “Mom”, “Aunt”, “Sister”, “Daughter”, “Wife” or “friend”. I reminded her of the tears of others that she had lovingly brushed away with her hands. I reminded her of whose hand Joe held as he breathed his last breath on earth, and inhaled heaven. I told her that when I grow up, I want my hands to look like hers. She wept. So did I, and she held my hands.

As Mary’s world disintegrated into a world of paranoia and fear, dementia slowly stealing our Mary away from us, I knew she was getting home-sick for heaven. As sad as that realization was, it was also beautiful. It was beautiful to know that Mary had the hope of heaven! She knew that her pain was temporary, and that she would soon be in heaven with her beloved Joe, Patsy and so many others, and she would have a new body with beautiful graceful hands!

Mary was not afraid of reaching the end of life on earth, in fact, I believe she was longing for heaven. That gives me great joy! Like a child longs for, and looks forward to a trip to Disneyland, Mary had nights when she was too excited to sleep because of the joy she knew was set before her – heaven!

Recently, Mary told me that Joe and Patsy had visited her and told her to come with them. She was ecstatic with joy and anticipation . . .  I told her that if they come again, she should go with them. She looked at me and smiled, and said “Yeah? Should I?” “Without a doubt, Mary,” I said, “without a doubt!”

Mary exhaled earth and inhaled heaven last night. My heart is shattered and rejoicing. Mary’s hands are busy hugging and loving on her family in heaven. She has a new body and beautiful hands in heaven! I find it hard to fathom, though, that Mary’s hands could be any more beautiful than when she was here with us, holding ours.

I find hope in this. Mary is home. She exhaled earth and breathed the breath of heaven. She has been reunited with the love of her life, and her daughter, sister, brother, parents and her God.

Are you kidding me? She’s in heaven . . . .  literally!

I rejoice in this, as my heart selfishly breaks.