Friday, December 14, 2012


As I came over the hill, I quickly approached the car in front of me. They were driving very slowly in the right lane, but had their left blinker on. I slowed my pace, offering them the opportunity to change lanes. No movement. Just 20 mph in the right lane with the left turn signal steadily blinking.

Exasperated with their miscommunication and annoyed by the apparent squandering of my patience and generosity, I jerked over to the left lane and passed them ... and passed judgement like a jerk.

"What in the world? Decide what you want to do! Learn how to drive or get out of my way...grumble rarr."

As I rolled my eyes and glared into my rear view mirror, I was sobered by what I saw.

From the front of the car, I could tell they actually had their hazard flashers on. So apparently, their rear right turn indicator was non-functional. They were driving slowly with hazards on which is not only acceptable, but perfectly logical and appropriate. But this was not the conclusion to which I had jumped from behind them.

What's the moral of the story?

I can really put the "jerk" in "knee-jerk" reactions.

And ...

When folks in our lives seem to be in the way or causing trouble, or when people don't make a lot of sense, and our attempts to offer them solutions fail, we should just be patient. Be kind and don't judge. It could be that from a different vantage, we might realize they are in crisis and dealing with some brokenness.

Everyone has hurts and habits and hang-ups. Some just aren't ready, or don't know how to fully communicate it. We all need love. Period.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Brotherly Love

I remember the day my dad was shopping with me for a special dress. We had moved to a new town ahead of the rest of the family, so in a mutual state of neediness in Mom's absence, I was his escort to a fancy dinner, and he was my shopping buddy.

Standing in the busy department store, I slid the hangers along the metal pole. I would hold one up and check for his initial response. A squinchy nose meant: "don't even bother", while raised eyebrows and flattened frown indicated:"perhaps, perhaps!"

I have two distinct memories of that day ...

Read full article over at A Martha Heart

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Friday, December 07, 2012

Merry Mari

Oh, I wish that silly time stamp wasn't on all the photos in this batch. (I've changed the settings now.)Anyway ...

Look what arrived this week!! Mari Alice was ecstatic ... not an exaggeration. She said, "Don't ever take this off ... not ever, ever! And even if you do, I won't take it and lose it, I promise, promise!"

We had a good, long nose to nose whisper-chat about forgiving and forgetting. I assured her [again] that I am not upset with her and that she is absolutely forgiven. I encouraged her not to worry any more about it: "We're moving on, ok?" We stared wide-eyed and resolute at one another for several seconds ...

Just then, Ardyn, who was watching from across the room, said, "Um ... this is definitely a hug moment ... I'm pretty good at figuring out when a hug would be the right thing, and this is definitely one of those times."

We all giggled and hugged and looked at my pretty, pretty ring one more time.

This morning, I was holding my favorite mug with both hands, sipping my steamy coffee when Mari Alice walked in and smiled.

"Good morning," I chimed. "Why are you grinning at me?"

"I can see your ring and I really love it."
"Well I do too ... but not as much as I love you!"

Thank You, God, for forgiveness. For giving back what has been taken ... even if it's not quite the same, we trust You that it is best. You are the great Redeemer. You heal and bind up and restore. Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts and Your ways are not our ways ... and for that, I thank You. I trust You and Your good plan WAY more than I trust my own. Thank You for beauty  - the kind in diamonds and gold, and the kind in darling little girls.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Harvest Time

So, this photo makes it look like Ardyn bagged a buck. And while her sisters are unconditionally supportive...
 ...Truth be told, her brother, Luke, actually pulled the trigger. Fear of failure had seized her heart in the moment. We've processed both the deer and her emotions now ... we're ready for the next hunt.
And as always.....
Landen Paul was eager and equipped to "git'r done" when it came to quartering the venison. He cuts hide like he cuts paper ... mouth slightly open. It's hereditary ... my jaw drops with each scissor expansion. I crop in private:)

Thank You, God, for wonderful children who enjoy spending time in Your beauty, and work together to get a job done. Thank You for venison chili, too!

Saturday, December 01, 2012


I have an article featured this weekend over at FaithVillage. Check it out and feel free to leave a comment or like it. (They're looking to see if I have friends:)

Click here to enter and read full article.


Friday, November 30, 2012


"I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to You and You have healed me.

Sing to the Lord, O you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.

For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,

To the end that my tongue and my heart and everything glorious within me may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever."
- from Psalm 30

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Today I am thankful for Mari Alice. She is pure delight. Every day is a new adventure with her. She's bright and happy; bold and helpful. I love how she starts so many sentences with "I was just wondering..." She is hard-working and playful, and I am blessed to spend my days with her.

Yesterday, I sat down with each girl individually and gave them "cyber dollars" so they could privately shop online for their family members. Ardyn showed up with a list. Ashlin was definitive and decisive. Elizabeth was not happy her time slot fell during her one PBS show, so with eyes darting toward the tv, she hastily spouted, "I just want to get elephants for the little kids and monkeys for the big kids, ok?" That girl!

Anyway, when Mari sat down, she had three dollar bills wrinkled into a wad in her hand. Not understanding that I intended to fully fund her virtual shopping spree, she looked up at me and with those big brown eyes blinking slowly and sweetly, she whispered, "This is all my money. Can you please look up 'wedding rings'?"

I blinked a blurry tear away as I typed "gold diamond ring" into the search box, and she continued to talk. "This three dollars can buy you a really pretty ring and then - since my money will be all gone - I'll just make stuff for everybody else ... I can make a scrap book for dad and ..."

A few weeks after my wedding ring went missing, I ordered a $15 silver band from I wanted to have a symbol of my marriage, but still resist the urge to replace my ring too soon ... standing firm in the hope that we'd miraculously find it.

But scrolling through all the images of glittery goodness, I think Mari and I both wanted something new. She saw one that she liked and shouted, "OOH! That one is gorgeous, and it's $2something. Get it!" I guided the cursor to hover over the price and offered another 1st grade lesson in place value. Gently, I explained, "It costs two thousand dollars." Deflated, yet resolved, she replied, "Ok ... let's keep looking."

Learning to scan for prices, she saw a giant solitaire for $24. She got really excited and began brainstorming ways to earn the extra money. I quickly introduced her to the deceptive world of "diamanoids". Silently, I wondered how to get out of this situation without hurting her feelings.

We had fun looking through several pages of rings, and then, we saw one that had only limited quantities and was drastically reduced in price ... like by 75%.  (But her money would still barely cover a fraction of the tax.) I clicked to get a better look. It was a beautiful representation of the verse "a cord of three strands is not easily broken", and the red slashed price was leading me to believe we might be able to swing it as an upgraded substitute ring. I still hope and pray for the miracle of my original ring being returned, but to wear a pretty ring until then would be nice.

I secretly sent the link to Philip's phone while Mari continued to admire the ring.

"Could I have this as my Christmas/Anniversary present? Completely on sale and the braided cord has been on my mind for months."

His immediate response: "Yes".
I love that agreeable guy:)

I closed my phone and turned toward Mari. "I think we can get it," I smiled.

"Really??  It's so beautiful! Do you love it? When will we get it? How do they know where we live? How much does it cost?"

"Your Daddy said he'd get it for me."
She stopped suddenly. "No, I want to get this for you. I thought of this ... I lost your first one and I really want to get you a new one. How much will it cost?"

"Um... if you can pay $3, Daddy will cover the rest."


This morning, the Lord brought those words back to my mind. "If you can give $3, Daddy will cover the rest." In the calm, dark stillness, my Heavenly Father seemed to whisper, "Cari, if you can give me everything you have, I'll cover the rest."

Isn't that the truth?

Everything I have is nothing, really ... when compared to the task or project or requirement ahead. But He promises that if I'll give it all up - all my effort, all my plans, everything I seem to have acquired so far - then He will lovingly step in and offer the riches to see it through.

I am reminded of the boy in the Bible with five loaves and two fish. He gave all he had and God used his offering and blessed its effectiveness to overflowing proportions.  Alvin Slaughter words it like this ...

Let Him take it and bless it and
Break it and give it
He'll multiply it in the moment you live it
And in the moment you call
When you've given your all
He steps in, He steps in
And He'll say
What's that you have in your hand?

I can use it, if you're willing to lose it.
Take the little you have and make it grand.
I am El Shaddai and I'll more than supply your need.

I got a little side-tracked, but now you see why I am so deeply grateful for Mari Alice. Her precious life is divine conduit - a channel of blessing to me.

Dear God, Thank you for my sweet Mari Alice. Thank You for the very fun guy You have chosen just for her. I can't wait to watch their story unfold. You are kind and good and Your mercies never fail. Thank You.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Today I am grateful for Ashlin Rae. She is all things easily wonderful. She is quiet and industrious, but will blast out a good-hearted belly laugh if the need arises. She carries her emotions below the surface and is seriously considerate. She is my whistling helper girl and silent back-scratcher. I love her dearly.

Dear God, thank You for Ash. Thank You for the wonderful man You are saving for her. He will be so blessed by her companionship. Keep them safe and sound until they discover each other in light of Your perfect plan. Thank You for trusting me to raise her and blessing me with her sweetness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Today, I am thankful for Ardyn Grace. She is cheerful and creative. I love talking on the phone with her ... her voice is simply happy. She giggles freely, sings beautifully, sketches artfully, and writes with inspiration... and she rides her bike and the four-wheeler ... um ... rambunctiously:)

Dear God, thank you for Ardyn. Thank you for the sweet, sweet man You are saving just for her. Keep them each safe in the center of Your will. Settle deep within her the truth of her beauty in and through Christ and may she find her quiet, confident identity in You alone.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Today I am grateful for my best friend and that miracles still happen.
I can remember sitting at the dining table, helping the kids with school lessons. I answered the phone and heard her broken voice. After years of feeling trapped on the emotional roller coaster of infertility, it was hard for her to say the thrilling, yet nauseating two-word sentence: "I'm pregnant." I remember her following it up with another (more obvious) four-word announcement: "I can't stop crying!"
She confessed, "I don't want to get my hopes up."
Three years earlier, we had been in adjacent hospital rooms-  I with my newborn, and she having just endured a ruptured tubal pregnancy. Unspeakable. No words...nothing to do but pray with one another and offer reassuring, heart-wrenching smiles through our teary eyes.
But on that day when her call happily interrupted spelling lists and long division ... we marveled at God's goodness.
"I don't want to get my hopes up," she sobbed.  I remember my response. "Then, we shall pray for courage  - courage to put our hope in God ... not in this pregnancy. That way our hopes can be up. Today, you are pregnant. And we live today. Today, you are crying uncontrollably, you're puffy, and if I were to say the word "tuna", you just might barf. So this is reality. We'll live tomorrow's reality tomorrow. Today God has placed a baby inside you. Praise Him!"
Kate is two now and a beautiful reminder that miracles still happen.
Thank You, God, for Kathy and for "Baby Kate".

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Today, I thank God for holidays. "Holy Days" - set apart for rest from routine.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Today I thank God for Elizabeth Anne. She is pure delight. I am terribly inconsistent when it comes to parenting this curly-haired charmer. She tells me I am "priddy" at least once a day, she gives good "squeeze the neck tight" hugs, and she loves to write ... most of the time on paper.

A couple nights ago, we were about to play a game of dice with the family. Giz filled her waiting moments with a little tower building on the table. Suddenly, she exclaimed, "Hey everybody! Look at the castle I made out of Yahtzee balls!!"

Thank You, God, for this precious soul. Bring her to Yourself as we teach her to seek You first. I pray for her husband - may he be filled with a hunger for Your Word and lots of patience;)

Friday, November 23, 2012


Hey guys its Luke, my mom will be really mad when she sees this but I hope yall enjoy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Today I am thankful for Luke.

He is smart and charming. He makes me laugh. He makes me cry. He has great ideas and can be utterly sweet. For reasons we simply have to trust, God put us together ... for better or for worse.

Dear God, thank You for Luke. Please keep him close to You. Give him a hunger for the truth of Your Kingdom. I pray for the young woman you'll bring to him some day. Thank You for her. Protect her and equip her to be the perfect helper for Luke. Protect him and equip him to provide for her needs in every way. Thank You for being a faithful parent when I am not.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Today, I'm grateful that God is patient with me as I learn and grow.

(originally published 11-23-10)

Martha Redeemed: It's a Good Thing

Luke 10:38-42 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."
(emphasis, cdj)

I used to become defensive when reading this story. I felt so much empathetic pity for poor Martha. She had welcomed Jesus into her home, and worked diligently to provide for the occasion. I would think to myself, "Well, we ALL can't be Mary's, now, can we? The biscuits won't bake themselves!"

But I've come to understand that Martha was not wrong in her service. Her mistake was allowing herself to become distracted by her own servitude. The only reason Jesus even spelled it out for her was because she approached him in a hissy fit. Hmmmm. He acknowledged the notion that peaceful communion was preferable to perturbed complaints. Shocking.

So how can we avoid becoming "anxious and troubled" about many things when welcoming people into our home?

Determine your hospitality trouble spots and be proactive about remaining calm. What is your biggest potential joy thief? Cleaning? Having enough room? Cooking? Finding things to talk about? Having enough food? Running out of time or having little notice of arriving guests?

Try to plan your menu and to-do list far in advance. Only include dishes and decorations that will bring you joy. If fancy china brings you joy, wipe it off and go for it. You'll probably have a great time chatting over the dish sink. But if disposable plates will not interfere with your festivities, they might afford you more time to sit and visit with family. I don't enjoy the tedious prep work that most cooking involves - like chopping and measuring. So I try to do as much ahead of time as possible.

Clean a few days in advance and just plan to sweep over the traffic areas and entry and wipe down the bathrooms before guests arrive. Cook as much as you can a couple days in advance...or many days and freeze it. Last week I chopped and sauteed the onions and celery for my dressing. I added the measured spices and put it in a zipper bag in the freezer next to the bag of cornbread:) Thursday morning it will only take a minute or two to put bread, seasoned veggies, and broth into the crock pot. The pumpkin bars are also waiting in the freezer... in a pan ready to pop in the oven.

If you get caught off guard and you don't get a chance to prepare, or haven't taken time to plan, ultimately you must prioritize. Making the most of time spent together is far more important than meal prep and domestic perfection.

I always keep a grocery bag tied up in the cupboard. Its contents: canned beans, taco seasoning, canned tomatoes, tortilla chips and a brownie mix. In the freezer I keep at least one bag of browned ground meat and frozen corn. These two mainstays allow me to offer taco soup for dinner within an hour. So if afternoon friends linger toward the dinner hour, I barely have to interrupt the conversation to throw together dinner. Philip has the freedom to invite folks to dinner without me having to panic and run to the store.

Ask the Lord what would bring Him the most honor. Sometimes a nourishing meal is the priority, so you concentrate on being resourceful, spontaneous, and quick. Sometimes the conversation is of greater importance, so you throw together some sliced apples, popcorn & cheese and sit and visit. Sometimes the need for others to fellowship is the central concern, so you keep the kids occupied, follow the toddlers, and keep every one's tea glasses mysteriously refilled.

As a hostess, your peace and joy can set the vibe for the whole house. So if you spend the day walking about serving all those you've welcomed, focus on your love for God and love for His creation. Don't be distracted by your effort and become anxious and troubled. Your worship will not be taken from you:) It's a very good thing!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Today I'm thankful for Landen.

He is handsome, kind, and funny. I saw him in town today - driving the four-wheel drive pick-up, hauling a trailer with a 4-wheeler loaded. He had happily helped his brother quarter the buck he harvested this morning. Now, all decked out in camo, armed with a gun, he was heading to the deer lease to hopefully bag one for himself. He looked so strong. So handsome. So grown.

Dear God, please keep Landen in Your safety - no matter what that looks like to my earthly Momma-eyes. Bless his time alone with You in the woods. Bless the young woman that you will send his way some day. Prepare and protect his heart for her ... and hers for him. Help him rest in Your goodness until then.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Psalm 116

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.

Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Today I am grateful for Celebrate Recovery.

"We have overcome ... by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony ... overcome!"

I could write a thesis on the benefits of this ministry in my life, my family, and my friends.

Thank you, Jesus.

Friday, November 16, 2012


We are thankful our Daddy is home!

After working Hurricane Sandy clean-up for 19 days, he returned to town and got to enjoy a total day off yesterday.

While the boys were at school, he did some target shooting with the girls. (I had R.U.N.N.O.F.T.)

Then the little two stayed with me while the rest of our clan met at the deer lease til dark.

Apparently, Mari Alice is poised to dethrone Luke as "Eagle Eye Johnson".

Thank You, God, for family and for letting us be together again!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I'm thankful for the do-over.

I have cooked 3 turkeys in my life. Only once have I successfully followed through with removing ALL the "inclusions" before cooking.

Those paper bags of belly guts withstand high levels of sustained heat surprisingly well. (Sorta makes the turkey dry and slightly reminiscent of a kiss from a Marlboro Man, but whatev.)

The first time I was ignorant. Trying to rinse off the bird without getting too "personal" ... I had no idea that the processors thought I might be interested in a neck and some giblet junk.

The second time, I remembered to really clean out the cavernous fowl.

But then, last week, I did a trial run for the holidays. I rinsed the bird, washed my hands to help with a math problem, and went back to the sink to remove the neck. Then my prep work was interrupted again with someone needing my attention at the back of the house. (I've lost many a decent idea in that hallway as I traverse the floors of this home - attempting to mult-task.) Upon my return to the kitchen, noticing time was tight to have supper ready, I quickly loaded the turkey into the oven.

Long story short: I might be a moron. A highly publicized moron, since my kids got an enormous kick out of my culinary mis-hap and told their friends.

Short story long: this is only one example in which information and experience prove insufficient in my quest for consistent excellence.

So I am grateful for second [and third and forty-seventh] chances.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Today, I'm thankful for running water and electricity. In terms of global advantages, I'm either rich or spoiled ... perhaps both ... but supremely grateful, nonetheless!

Play on Words

Recently someone emailed this to me.

Can you raed this? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseaethe huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? 

I found the email really intriguing because - for weeks -  I had been pondering these two words. Sacred vs Scared: two words that begin and end the same,  but how you order the interior letters makes all the difference.

Sacred: set apart, devoted to the service of God. Reverently dedicated to a person or purpose.

Scared: to suddenly fill with fright, alarm, or worry.

So often, the circumstances of life call for fear. My instinct is to become scared, but I can blink and look again. With renewed vision, I can realize a deeper devotion and a higher purpose.

My husband is away. Am I nervous about being overwhelmed, or focused on the promise that God will take care of us all?

My child is disrespectful. Am I anxious and irritated, or  purposefully prayerful and consistently kind?

Finances are shaky. Do I worry about tomorrow, or surrender to God's plan today?

People are mean. Shall I react with alarmed defense, or rise to God's loving standard and respond with forgiveness and grace?

I battle depressed laziness. Will I write myself off as a loser, or choose to see myself the way my patient Creator sees me - in need of a fresh word of truth.

Government seems to be growing in power and ignoring wisdom. Am I frightened for the future, or determined to live at peace and do what God requires?

God says, "Fear not!" Evidently, when the task or thought ahead of me reads "scared",
I have the opportunity to choose to read "sacred".

Same beginning and end,
but perceived with gratitude and ordered in such a way to bring abundant life.

This is how the Psalmist phrased it...

"In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?
I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life."
Psalm 56:10-13

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I'm thankful for family road trips ... opportunities to be a helper in the car:)

Monday, November 12, 2012


Today I am grateful for my brother, my Grandfathers, Uncles, and Great Uncles who served in our nation's military. They gave their lives - some for a season, some for a vocation, and some as a complete sacrifice of earthly dwelling. May we be careful to remember.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Today, I'm thankful for my Bible(s).

"Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding so that I can learn Your commands.

Those who fear You will see me and rejoice,
for I put my hope in Your word.

I know, Lord, that Your judgments are just
and that You have afflicted me fairly.

May Your faithful love comfort me
as You promised Your servant.

May Your compassion come to me
so that I may live, for Your instruction is my delight."
Psalm 119:73-75

Friday, November 09, 2012


I'm grateful for the ladies over at A Martha Heart allowing me to contribute.
And I'm grateful for Philip, who works to provide for all our needs. This frees me to invest my time and energy without the concern for monetary compensation. A really cool deal:)

Earlier this week, I shared about caMP3. I hope you'll visit the site to read the rest of the story:)

A Holy Hobby
“So, do you think you’d like to help us with a multi-media elective?”
My long-time friend and I stood against the brick exterior of our daughters’ dance studio. He was hesitantly willing to participate in a worship arts program for kids in our community. Skeptically, he probed, “Whose idea was this, anyway?” 
(click to read more:)


Thursday, November 08, 2012


Thank You, God for family.

We are missing this guy, though. Please continue to keep him safe. We know You are using him to be a blessing to others. Thank You for making him to be such a happy helper guy.

Please help us to keep being sweet to each other while we're missing our daddy-hugs. Just like West Virginia, he is "wild and wonderful".

Thanks, God, for never leaving us ... it's times like these that we really appreciate that about You!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


In Philip's company, the signal for "affirmative" is "signal 7".

So all day long, when someone gives directions and he comprehends, his response on the radio is, "Seven!"
When someone gives an instruction, he happily answers, "Seven!"
When someone warns him to stop at the entrance because his truck won't make it up the road, he confirms, "Seven!"

Sometimes, he forgets I'm not a lineman when he talks to me.

"Honey, can you stop by and get eggs on your way home?"

(ummm. the customary dozen would be great, but ok.)

Thank You, God, for my handsome husband and his company of folks who keep our lights on.

Help me have that automatic affirmative response to everything You say to me. So when You give me direction or instructions or warnings, I instantly, out of strong habit, say "seven"... errr. "Yes!"

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


I'm thankful for the fun things I enjoy with each of my six children ...

Tim Hawkins with Landen.
White Collar or Psych with Luke.
Cooking with Ardyn.
Planning with Ashlin.
Yahtzee with Mari Alice.
Memory cards with Elizabeth.

Monday, November 05, 2012


Thank you, God for my five fingers on both hands.

With them, I can scratch a back, play a song, stir some batter, or post a blog:)

Sunday, November 04, 2012


I am thankful for the freedom to worship.

Saturday, November 03, 2012


Thank You, God for cranberries.

Bold and bright,
sweetly tart.

The possiblities are endless.

Friday, November 02, 2012


I thank God for Philip.

He is ...
strong, but gentle
helpful and kind,
patient, but fidgety
handsome and free.

I never want to be in love with anyone but him.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


I am thankful that there is One True God.
He is holy and righteous; merciful and kind.

He never changes - He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
(I dig dependability!)

He created me.
He is writing my story.
He redeems my life - moment by moment.

He is my rock and my song:)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Joy Dare 10.22.12

Giving thanks to God in community for His gifts ...

3 gifts of change
Landen driving the boys to school
Ardyn babysitting
Elizabeth staying dry at nap time

a gift small
window of time for me to read
a gift smaller
window of time for me to write
a gift smallest
window of time for me to dream

3 gifts read
Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman
Thanksgiving recipes in Southern Living
"I will praise Thee, O Lord." on Mari Alice's penmanship page.

3 gifts said
"You look so pretty in green!" -PJ
"This was a VERY special day!" - DW
"I'm sorry. I do love you, Mom." -LJ

3 gifts re-read
Landen's History paper
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie - times a million
The Book of James - forever until I get it.

3 gifts burning
a scrumptious creme brulee candle indoors
a pile of wooden scraps outdoors
a desire for God's presence - smoldering within

3 gifts ugly-beautiful
the red nose and swollen eyes of an emotional datenite
uneasy vulnerability
healing wounds

a gift shared
a kiss goodbye
a gift saved
a kiss to welcome him home
a gift surrendered
my hurried agenda when the better thing to choose is a kiss

3 gifts unexpected
Landen serving up a plate of food for me when he thought I might miss out
all four girls enjoying a picnic luncheon on the flat bed trailer
several hours of quiet when Philip took everyone but the napper to the deer lease

3 gifts unconventional
Noah's ark out of Lego
scarves and newspaper and dancing in church

3 gifts undervalued
hard work

Friday, October 19, 2012


Finally, friends,

whatever is true,
I am falling short, but God made me and loves me and hasn't given up on me.

whatever is honorable,
God chose to send His Spirit to live in MY body.

whatever is just,
When I misuse food and neglect my body, there are natural consequences.

whatever is pure,
God designed my body to work hard and be nourished by food.

whatever is lovely,
My identity is in Christ. My soul will always be more important than this body that is wasting away.

whatever is commendable,
It's not too late ... there are changes to be made and work to be done.

if there is any excellence,
God has proven Himself faithful and miraculously merciful in other areas of my life.

if there is anything worthy of praise,
His character compels me to trust Him and praise Him in this too.

think about these things.

"I fail. He never leaves. I have made my own selfish choices in direct rebellion to His loving, wise plan. I am forgiven. I have a future and a hope. He will never leave me and His plans are for my good."

What you have learned
The way I over-eat and under-exercise indicate spiritual and emotional issues as much as they display physical imbalance.

and received
I know how to eat healthfully. I know how to exercise.

and heard
God's Spirit is telling me it's time to get real about this.

and seen in me
God has given me His Word, and has placed friends in plain sight who live this area of life WELL.

—practice these things,

"Today, I will consciously eat for nourishment - not absent-mindedly binge in order to stuff the pain or escape the stress or pacify the boredom. And today, I will go for a nice long walk."

and the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:8-9

Monday, October 15, 2012

Joy Dare 10.15.12

Giving thanks to God in community for His gifts ...

3 gifts orange
candy corns

3 gifts falling
breezy temperatures
brittle leaves
brand new mercies

a gift caught
crayfish from the ditch

a gift let go
any expectation for my kids to be perfect

a gift mid-way
the importance of others' opinions

3 gifts reaped
mercy from righteousness
joy from tears
benefits of honest relationships

3 gifts returned
the bodies of men in the plane crash
friends to town in order to mourn a loss and celebrate a life
ashes to ashes, dust to dust

3 gifts redeemed
time in Philip's schedule
Landen's grades
Sunny Foote

a gift baked
Luke's cupcakes

a gift stirred
chicken, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and beans

a gift eaten
quesadillas with dessert

3 gifts prayed for
a lost plane
peace for families of victims
my sorrow-filled man as he spoke at the memorial service

3 gifts praised for
a life fully lived
a God who fully knows our suffering
a plan and a purpose beyond what we comprehend

3 gifts of hard eucharisteo
confessing a wrong
healing a breaking heart
trading sin-shame for joy-grace

Friday, October 05, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybook 10.5.12

FOR TODAY Friday, October 5, 2012...

Outside my window...
Sunshine and shadows share the grassy ground.

I am remembering...
my dad. I spend my days with four of his granddaughters who will wait a lifetime to meet him. They see glimpses of his influence through my life, but I'd love for them to personally know his warm humor and happy wit.

I am thankful for...
Skyward: an online calendar & grading report for MISD students. VERY informative and helpful.

I am creating...

Monday, October 01, 2012

Joy Dare 10.01.12

Giving thanks to God in community for His gifts ...

3 gifts finished
the great kids' rooms swap of 2012
the repetitive viewing of "Agenda"
the plate of pumpkin spice cookies

3 gifts flourishing
Mari Alice's cursive writing
Ardyn's beauty
Ashlin's sense for humor

a gift unexpected
an evening spent with a friend

a gift uneven
the number of phone calls I make in contrast to the ones I receive

a gift unpopular
the call to stand firm and speak up for Truth

3 gifts shy
the little boy who simply wanted a smaller MP3 shirt
the little girl who wanted me to know she brought her silver sweater
"only" 54 worshipers in MP3 tonight ... a touch shy of our 69 average. [quite manageable]

3 gifts shelved
organized chapter books in the middle girls' room
organized readers  & board books in the little girls' room
all the girls' shoes in garage for two weeks straight (fellas need to take a hint)

3 gifts shining
Elizabeth's new night light
the tea kettle Ardyn uses several times a day
God's pure Light into the corners of my life ... exposing and expunging. Thank You, Father.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ring it Out

This journey of recovery can be messy business.

Step 4: "We made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves."
"Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord." -Lamentations 3:40

As I take note of past hurts, harmful habits, and selfish hang-ups, I just keep digging up dirt. Skating through life pacified and numbed by my own pride and denial was much simpler ... in the short term. In an effort to surrender my life to the Lord for long-term, deep cleaning, I must continue to look for things about which to be brutally honest.

I feel like I'm constantly dealing with nasty mop water.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Recipe Rut

In the past several days, half a dozen women have mentioned to me that they are in a menu rut.

"Me too!  Me too!"

Perhaps you are trying to stick more closely to a budget, or as one lady put it, "If I make spaghetti one more time, I think I'll just die."

Last week I tried some new recipes, but they found less than enthusiastic review from my family. Either I'm boring and fix quesadillas and taco soup every other day, or I try new things and despite the energy and time, few folks are thrilled. I'm tired of coming up with the menu and falling short.

So this week, I canvased the 7 oldest members of my family. They each chose a main dish, two vegetables (or a vegetable and a salad), and an optional fruit. Here's what they came up with.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Joy Dare 09.23.12

Giving thanks to God in community for His gifts ...

a gift fixed
the interest rate on our mortgage:)

a gift folded
the picture Mari colored, tucked into my purse as a surprise

a gift freckled
me. I have lots of places on my body "where the sun don't shine", but the rest is really freckled!

3 gifts in conversation 
"I'm willing to climb all over these folks just to get to talk to you!" -  MC, after braving the MHS football bleachers.

"Dad just drove up with a huge tractor! I mean this thing is part tractor, part bulldozer!!" - MariAlice marvelling at Papaw's bush-hog.

"You're awesome. You're kid's awesome. There's a light at the end of this tunnel ... and I promise it's not a train." - My personal cheerleader, KB:)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

No Style

This makes me laugh.
May you find opportunity to worship God in Spirit and in Truth:)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Key to Success

"zog O d[rsl om yjr ypsmhird pg ,rm smf ph smhr;d. niy jsbr mpy ;pbr. zo s, s mpodr hpmh pt s v;smhomh vu,ns;/z"

That is 1 Corinthians 13:1

I promise.

I carefully focused on the words straight from Scripture and typed it using precisely the correct fingering. I typed every single letter in the correct order. I even typed it at a quick, productive pace.

The one and only problem ...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lessons from the Loo


(From the archives: originally posted in 2008. Revisited for CR.)

Last night we were in some friends' home, when Mari needed to use the facilities. I followed her down the hallway and into their bathroom. Around another corner was a small alcove which housed the toilet.

As I helped her up, I noticed something surprising for a bath motif. Just beside the toilet, in the corner, stood a tall, bright torch lamp. "A lamp in a potty?" I was mesmerized by the notion.

I glanced down at the tile. Spotless. I scanned the baseboards. Pristine. Two primary thoughts were competing for attention in my mind.

 #1 Wow! There's no question that this bathroom is clean.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Joy Dare 9.10.12

Giving thanks to God in community for His gifts ...

3 gifts summer
bright red tomatoes, sliced and sprinkled with pepper
fresh sweet watermelon, consumed in drippy-sticky slurps
longer, less productive days:)

3 gifts cut
stuff from magazines to glue on construction paper
snowflakes from coffee filters
play dough snakes with a blunt plastic knife

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Weird Wild Schtuff

When life gets weird, I stop blogging.

For the past two weeks, I've had a diminished household. Which is weird.

First, Ardyn went to nanny for my sister-in-law for a couple weeks.
Then, the boys started public high school complete with football practice before and after school.
THEN, Ashlin traveled to my mom's to help her pack and keep her company on the long road-trip to relocate.

As a result, I've had two little girls in my home for the majority of each day. Only two little girls.

It has been good. Almost too good.

Do you know that two children are collectively far less chaotic than six?

Staggering mathematical estimations! Less food. Fewer dishes. Less laundry. Fewer arguments. Less traffic. Fewer shoes over which to trip.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Alert


Monday morning I dropped my boys off at the high school.

Two tall, blue-eyed treasures smiled as they shut the car door, and walked off to join the crowd.  Oh, Dear Lord, "the crowd" ...

... this pressurized peer group, swarming like bees outside the gym doors, waiting to engulf my young men.

I drove away and prayed.

"Dear God, give them sensitivity and courage to keep in step with You ...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Joy Dare 8.20.12

Giving thanks to God in community for His gifts ...

3 gifts in family
Aunts and cousins - treasured friendships
My mom who thinks of me often
my home filled with children who keep life VERY interesting:)

3 gifts ugly beautiful
the kitchen cabinets - tattered and worn from consistent, almost constant use
my grocery list scratched hastily in writing from three different "contributors"
sun shining through our front door - original 1979 stained glass

a gift in a ring
this story of redemption that still brings me peace

a gift in a curve
brightly colored, translucent goggles on giggling swimmers

a gift in a sphere
whoppers. tiny spheres of chocolaty, malty goodness:)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Body Parts

From the Archives: April 2004

It is Wednesday morning, and the breakfast dishes are clean and put away. Ardyn, the three-year-old, is busily gathering trash cans from all the rooms so it can be taken out. As her eight-year-old brother hauls out the "big trash", she dutifully puts new liners in each empty can and returns them to their rightful place. 

She even sings a little song as she goes:
"Brown one goes inda ... Bath room. Pink one goes inma ... Mom's room ..."

Hers in not a huge job, but it's really important to the other people involved. Her family depends on her. Sure someone else could do it instead, but we would all miss out on the apparent joy she finds in being a part of a whole.

As Landen comes inside from his trash run, he goes to sit at the table.  He has completed his household job, and now he cheerfully works on a responsibility he has to his church family. He copies a Scripture onto notebook paper, and adds "God loves you and so do I!". After drawing a picture, he addresses it to one of our church's home bound members.

His is not a huge job, but it's really important to the other people involved.  His church family depends on him. Sure someone else could do it instead, but we would all miss out on the apparent joy he finds in being a part of a whole.

"As it is, there are many parts, but one body." - 1 Corinthians 12:20

Monday, August 13, 2012

Joy Dare 8.13.12

Giving thanks to God in community for His gifts ...

3 gifts white
Casie's wedding dress
crisp new notebook paper with blue straight lines of promise
winter fresh gum in the dog days of summer

3 gifts eaten
pineapple chicken
a gift at 10am
creme brulee coffee and some emails

a gift at 1pm
read-alouds before nap time

a gift at 10pm
"White Collar"on Netflix with my main man

Friday, August 03, 2012



Recognizing and revealing the ugly truth,

receiving undeserved grace, and

resting in unimaginable love.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you." -Romans 12: 1-2

Monday, July 30, 2012

Joy Dare 6.24.12 (a full moon late)

Giving thanks to God in community for His gifts ...

3 gifts I became today in serving
a light-hearted launderer
a merry mopper
a happy helper

a gift bent
bedtime prayers
a gift beautiful
Ardyn's thick brown hair
a gift loved
my spiritually sensitive husband

3 gifts found in light
hairs to be plucked
counters to be wiped
unwanted sin protrusions and hardened filth in the corners of my heart

3 gifts that are difficult
teenagers who drive my cars
adolescent girls who push my buttons
toddlers who ignore my instructions

3 gifts found around a table
sisters crafting
silverware busily clanking happy plates
friends with tiles ready to spell a high-scoring word

a gift in water
rich sweet tea
a gift in words
a thank you note from the mailbox at the end of my drive
a gift in white
a month's supply of paper products in the kitchen and bathrooms

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Comfort & Joy

It's like God found my list of "All things comfortable" and began checking items off -shortly after He blew them up.

Last week I directed caMP3, a worship arts afternoon program for kids which concluded with the presentation of a musical for the community Friday night. I approached the week prayerfully as I prepared for 60 K-6th graders and a [fabulous] staff of 25 talented folks, but soon realized my heart had farther to go to reach full surrender.

Background: last year was our first year for caMP3. Who knew if we could even pull it off? Responding full force toward my fear of the unknown, I spent 6 months planning and prepping - crossing hundreds of t's and dotting countless i's before camp ever began. After spending the caMP3 week with 30+ students last year, our small, but greatly talented and spirited staff remarked at how smoothly things had gone. Cue the gleam of pride.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just What I Need

Last night I was in my bed waiting [im]patiently to drift off to sleep. Restlessness was to be expected on the night before caMP3. My stomach was uneasy, and my brain churned with random ideas, urgent reminders, and bad case scenarios. As I felt my spirit become restless, I realized I hadn't read my devotional for the day. (Sundays can be ironically frazzled and harried in comparison to other days.)

In the quiet darkness, I reached above my head to find my kindle and opened "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. Here is what was written for July 15.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Gone For a Dip

Tonight I experienced one of those Mom moments that for me are too few and far between.

I belly laughed with my daughters.

I'm a fun girl, but shamefully, my kids see the least amount of my happiness. I'm working on surrendering my agenda and preferences so that I can cheerfully invest in their lives ... not just manage them. But I have much to surrender, so it's a slow process.

Anyway, we were swimming this evening. Just the girls and me. In the rain. "Please go under! You don't have eye make-up on, so PLEASE go under!" They begged. I smiled at the beautiful, cheering crowd that surrounded me in the shallow end.

I buckled my knees and plunged beneath the surface. I bounced back to my feet to greet fresh air, rain drops, and applause. "Do it again!" They cheered.

"Wanna see my handstand?" I teased.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Blueberry Chutney Chicken

Wednesday was filled with family, fun & fireworks.

We also ate really well:)

 Fresh berries, baked sweet potatoes, steamed veggies and chicken.

I began making this dish when I subscribed to online weekly menu complete with shopping lists. Very nice. This recipe: even nicer.

Blueberry Chutney Chicken

1-2 lb chicken breast
1 fresh lemon
1 t garlic salt
     2 T Olive oil
     1 c fresh blueberries
     1/3 c water
     1 T Dijon mustard
     1 T JalapeƱo Pepper Jelly

Jasmine Rice
1-2 cans peas

Cut thawed chicken into strips. In a bowl, drizzle
oil, lemon juice and 1 t garlic salt over tenderloins.
Toss and coat well. Grill or broil 5-6 min on each
side. In saucepan on med-hi, place remaining
ingredients. Cook 8-10 minutes, whisking often, until
blueberries break up. Serve sauce over chicken.

Serve with Jasmine rice and sweet peas.
This is NOT a serving suggestion, you simply must.


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

A Moooving Tale

There have been a few times that I've felt like a cow.


Once, I tried a piece of turkey jerky ... say that four times really fast. It's so fun! Anyway, I was chewing and chewing and starting to gross out at the texture of gum coupled with the flavor of teriyaki. I felt like I was chewing my cud.

Also, there are the memories of surgeries. The part where I'm still awake, but numb from the chest down. Nurses are transitioning me to the O.R. gurney. I'd love to help the group effort by lifting my legs or scooching my hips. But alas, I am forced to lie there in a sheet sling as they hoist me onto the second surface. Not a very light and airy feeling. I felt like a beefed out cow slung in the straps of the slaughter house.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY Thursday, June 28, 2012...

Outside my window...
Crickets and frogs chirp in the humid darkness, cleverly hiding in a clean cut yard.

I am remembering...
White Water in the 80's. White-nosed lifeguards, locker keys on coiled bracelets, and the same 10 songs played over and over and over. Dear Men At Work, you have scarred me for life. "Last night I had the strangest dream, I sailed away to China in a little rowboat to find you, And you said you had to get your laundry cleaned. Didn't want no one to hold you, what does that mean? You said -" (sing it with me, now!) "Ain't nothing gonna breaka my stride, ain't nothing gonna hold me down. oh no, I've got to keep on movin!"

I am thankful for...
Philip. Earlier this week, after he had saved the day, yet again, I told someone, "100 years ago -even if he weren't my husband- I'd have wanted him in my village ... he's just really great to have around!"

I am creating...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Flashback Friday


(Originally posted April 2008)

I was at a meeting this week where we were asked to list our favorite physical feature and favorite personality trait ... concerning ourselves.

Long pause.

Women all across the room were groaning with hesitancy. One poor woman spoke sheepishly about her hands. "I guess...if I HAVE to pick something I like..." she started. The same spirit of obligated humility embodied most of the remarks. A few of my fellow funsters implemented our tried and true defense mechanism. "I'll say my eyes...or any body part that doesn't gain weight!"

Monday, June 18, 2012

Joy Dare 6.18.12

Giving thanks to God in community for His gifts ...

3 gifts full
bowl of fruit
basket of biscuits
bellies of breakfast

3 gifts smelled
tops of bathed heads while reading bedtime books
Philip's clean-shaven morning face as we hug good bye
creme brulee coffee

a gift unexpected   a week with Kate:)
a gift unwanted  my own bed for a night or two
a gift unlikely  early happy bedtimes

3 gifts from His Word
  (Proverbs 15)
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

3 gifts moving
four-wheelers purring around the property
trees dancing in the humid breeze
the trash can magically down to the end of the drive

3 gifts from my dad
a love for words and wisdom
knowing exactly when to punch the line
everlasting laughter and joy

3 gifts from my Heavenly Father
a purpose for His glory
a plan for my good
plenty of promises that help me wait on Him

Friday, June 15, 2012

Flashback Friday

(Originally posted Summer, 2008)


If you feel swamped when it's time to come up with a menu or grocery list, you will rejoice in this resource. (The cost is just $1.25 a week!) I usually love coming up with menus and shopping lists, but I was feeling like a I was cooking the same several dishes over and over again. And my food started tasting the same. My spaghetti sauce was only about two clicks off my chili. You know?

This site allows you to download pdf files that you can use as your weekly menu/shopping list. Two pages: one with seven meals & simple directions; the other lists ingredients by aisle with approximate cost -also includes necessary staples.

Out of the seven meals, 1 or 2 are what I would consider "snoozers". Like DiGiorno Pizza or Eggo Waffles with scrambled eggs. 3 of the recipes are usually run'o'the mill kid-friendly fare. The other 2 or 3 will strike me as main dishes I would never, ever prepare. But without fail, the kids gobble them up. Also, Landen can cook almost any of the recipes. He is THAT talented and they are THAT simple.

If you're doing e-mealz already, feel free to leave a comment whether positive or negative. We can handle it:)

Thank You, God, for e-mealz. Are You tired of hearing me say this? Thank You.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


The other morning, Philip and I ran some early morning errands. Before the household was fully awake, he and I left to drop off one car, then get the oil changed in another. As we drove back toward home, he asked if he could take me to breakfast. I crinkled up my nose at the notion of going into "public" with a ball cap on and no make-up.

He stared at me like I was crazy.

"You look really cute!" He blurted out with sincere adoration. He could not see or comprehend my perceived problem.

With gentle patience, he compromised by going through a drive-thru. We were still able to enjoy our last few moments of morning togetherness before we each had to begin our regular morning routines; and there would be other days in which to argue about my ridiculousness.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Joy Dare 6.11.12

Giving thanks to God in community for His gifts ...

a gift of peace our little house guest sleeping well, even in a strange place
a gift of hope knowing God knows more and better than we
a gift of love  the son who cooked and cleaned so that we could celebrate his sister

3 gifts ugly-beautiful
bedroom floors blanketed with toys and junk ... happy hours hanging over
the birthday cake that almost came out of the pan all pretty
my flesh colored compression sock ... concealing a healing wound

3 gifts in what I am watching
devoted friendship in "Brian's Song"
genius comedic writing in "Finding Nemo"
love as a choice in "Sarah, Plain and Tall"

3 gifts empty
laundry bins ... proof of a busy day of washing
suitcases laid out ... awaiting a week of wear
hands held out for God's perfect provision

3 gifts that make you really smile
Luke's over-the-fence home run
Landen's full game pitched with only one run allowed
sisters cracking sunflower seeds and spitting with no finesse

a gift at 8  four soapy girls wash away the day
a gift at 12 a warm, handsome husband who is cute even though he is a blanket stealer
a gift at 2  subconscious surrender to the sweet promise that God never sleeps

3 gifts painted
purple butterflies
lots of hollow hearts
one hundred toe and finger nails

Friday, June 08, 2012

Fun Girl

Happy 3rd Birthday, Elizabeth Anne!

Thank You, God, for Giz. She is sheer joy. Thank You for her personality, for her affectionate sweetness, and for her affinity toward technical wonderment. Thank You for entrusting her to us! Draw her close to You and help us be good parents even when she is almost too cute.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Treasure Trove

Oh, a harmonica!
Look!  The pretty kitty who likes to have tea in the castle!!

No, it's not Christmas time. We're not opening birthday gifts.
We just thought we'd sort through the toy bin tonight.

Our storage unit has nine deep compartments, each intended for a specific group of toys: babies, blocks, books, kitchen stuff, music & puzzles, ponies, etc. 

In the course of a month or two, favorite toys sink to the bottom and become forgotten while the entire bin gets cluttered and disorganized.