Thursday, June 3, 2021


Have you known days in life when you felt like you just wanted to run away? It's been a veritable string of Monday's with too much month at the end to the money and out of eagerness to win approval every request made of you (whether good or bad) you've met with "sure, I can help with that".  Maybe you've been staying up too late or skipping responsibilities because you're a grown up and you can make your own choices... You may be saying in your head "mind your own beeswax".  Regardless, there will be those days when you've had ENOUGH.

Truly I could not say any of this if I hadn't already been in the same shoes.  My choices were less than exemplary and i did whatever made me feel better for the moment many times. So, my goal is not to condemn but to share some hope that there is a better way.  For me the struggle begins when there has been precious little time spent in prayer and even less in writing God's ever-valuable Word on my heart.  Thereby allowing the world to dictate who i am instead of focusing on the plan God has for my life and being accountable to fellow believers.  If Jesus is not part of your life, emotionally, the heart will reach empty and become a life in tossed about in a storm that's headed for wipe out.

Let's be honest, there are some current trend "go-to" methods for handling the circumstances we are in; that seem favorable in the moment of high stress. After all, what is a Generation X, Y or Z human to do? For starters you could keep running up debt on your trusty credit card with more new summer outfits, some modish Vans, and that long overdue hair appointment you deserve.  How about gorging on take out and ice cream because you don't feel like cooking (again). Why not hit the casino because your fortune cookie said you're going to have a streak of good luck and we all know fortune cookies don't lie (ha). Another common option is a pity-party-posting of the latest undeserved struggle on Facebook for the world to cry along with us.  Certainly there is also the ever popular "blast in a glass" method that will leave you with a splitting headache and possibly unsure about whom you were with or what you did last night. Are you catching the common theme in these means of dealing with difficulty.  What do you do when you have a bad day?  All of these modern day coping tools sadly, leave your life, your wallet, and your heart emptier than ever.

A quick fix is never the answer for the long term changes that will produce positive results and grant the peace that will remind you of how temporary storms in life are.  People, there is a better way, a healthier way, and a non self-deprecating way to face the storms in your life.  Here are some practical tips to smooth out your day and get your focus back where is belongs.

*Take a few moments.  Start your day with silence and prayer.  Get by yourself, close the door, bow your head and ask God to give you strength and courage to let go of what is dragging you down and regain a calm focus on what you CAN do today.  One day at a time is more than enough for any of us to tackle. 

*Read it/write it.  Get your Bible out and read chapter from one of the Gospels (John is my personal fav) and then a Psalm or two. Reading a few short verses will help remind you to keep your focus on God.  Example: " I have told you these things, so that in Me (Jesus) you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world!" John 16:33

*Be financially responsible.  if credit cards are an issue, get yourself a budget that will keep your bills paid and start paying down any debt you owe.  Stop buying things you cannot afford.  You will be surprised how quickly you can pay off debt when you stop spending on things you did not budget for. (We started doing Dave Ramsey- not saying you have too, many years ago and we have NOT regretted telling our income what to do! It is truly freeing to live on a budget!) Try eating meals at home or brown bag it until you get your finances under control and can allocate funds to do things that should be considered a luxury. (if you get the chance to visit a third world country you will understand this Big Time).  And yep I'm going to say it- the first thing you need to do with income is tithe (10% at least) to God, because it's His anyway.  If it isn't to a local church there are many organizations that work to be the "hands and feet "of Jesus to communities that welcome cash donations. God will bless you in ways you can't even imagine. Try it and you will see!!

*Eat Healthier. (Believe me, I struggle with this the most and have to remind myself to stop simply being lazy and do the work that will help me feel better physically) it may not always be the easier thing to do.  It takes a lot of effort to think about meal planning, making grocery lists, shopping, preparing and cooking. You reap great benefits from doing it though!  You will find you spend less money eating out and junk food, which your wallet and your body will appreciate you for.  It also forces us to spend less time zoning out on social media and wishing your life was like the pictures you see on Pinterest and Facebook. Your life is what you make it not what other people strategically photograph and showcase for the world's approval.  Really... isn't the main purpose of instagram; to gain approval??  Last of all if you eat better, all your clothes will fit better and that will put a smile on your face!

*Do whatever comes next.  Not one of us will get a perpetual free ride in life.  No one will get out of a rut or overcome a struggle without putting in effort, so DO SOMETHING.  Get yourself moving. Make a plan. Clean a closet. Do your homework. Go for a walk. Visit your Grandpa. Write a letter to someone to encourage them (snail mail is AmaZing). Read your Bible every day. Pay your bills on time. Finish a project. Hug your loved ones. Do laundry. Serve in your community. Be kind. Pray (ALOT).  Never take for granted the time you have and use it to bless other people and glorify God.  I didn't expect what came next for us. Cancer.  But all of these things I have mentioned are my reminders every day to keep fighting the good fight and running the race to finish strong - all by the grace and mercy of God.  

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You" Isaiah 26:3

Friday, May 21, 2021

Gray skies and silver linings

 Another rainy day.  Preacher and I sipped our Juniper coffee were talking this morning and we talked about the weather this year.  I know it’s the age old thing that gets brought up when you don’t have anything to talk about with the person you end up sitting next to in the doctor’s office waiting room. But this 2021 weather seems like yet another one for the history books.  It smells a little like 2011 when all creation was groaning (well at least is was in southwest Missouri).  That year we saw unprecedented snow and ice that forced schools, businesses and life to shut down for weeks.  It hit rather early showing up on February 1st and dumping around 20 inches of snow.  I had never seen anything like it in my 43 years of life.  

When I was a kid we had a lot of winters with a lot of ice and snow where our pipes froze, we had no water, and would end up staying at my Grandma Black’s house for days.  Her house had 2 bedrooms, a tiny bathroom, and was heated with a gas stove. Oh how I loved her house! We would play dominoes or Chinese checkers and listen to her Marty Robbins record albums.  Grandma Black always seemed to have ice cream too! Her favorite was Neopolitan because you get your pick of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry all in the same dish. It made being stuck inside not so terrible. I miss her.

This year has indicated that it’s likely to be somewhat of a repeat of 10 years ago. We had some of the coldest temperatures on record in the whole Midwest. Businesses, schools and life was shut down around here for at least two weeks and it wasn’t corona virus related.  Since then the weather has been a roller coaster of one nice, sunny and awesome day or two followed quickly by plunging temperatures, snow, rain, ice pellets, and 2 late spring frosts - just your garden variety pick of forecasts. The temperatures remind me of Colorado- colder at night and in the early morning then warming up (maybe) to shorts and t-shirts, only to quickly change and leave you wishing you brought your fav sweatshirt or an umbrella.  As gray and cloudy as it’s been this week I pray there is nothing like the infamous 2011 EF 5 tornado that ripped through Joplin like a 50 foot giant splashing and kicking his way through a mud puddle that was 2.5 miles long. Destroying almost everything in its path. Twisting and gnarling mighty oaks, traffic lights, homes, automobiles and even chewing up the asphalt roads. Has it really been 10 years since 161 people lost their lives? 

As I look out my kitchen window I am reminded of God’s providence and protection (the silver lining)  no matter what we face. No I don’t want to go through that again, but I realize we have faced other difficult situations since then and even now. The earth is amazing. Creation is so creative and there is evidence of the goodness of God all around me. However wonderful it is though- it is not my home. So I will weather the weather and learn the rhythms of the seasons all while anxiously awaiting the return of my Savior. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The struggle within

 When the days are long

And the nights are longer

Turn your mind 

And worship the King

Bow low

Get low

Forgive your enemy


Stand in the gap

Stand until you can’t 

Be part of the solution

Wrap your mind


And over 

And under

And try to tie a knot in it

I don’t know how

Yet I will trust

The One 

Who does...

Monday, April 26, 2021


     “Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations. For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and He will guide us until we die.” (Psalm 48:13-14 NLT) 

Recent weeks have given me a lot of things to chew on mentally. Days filled with doctor’s appointments, driving, sitting, praying, waiting, listening, staring at people who practice medicine for a living, still praying, crying, praying, being angry, being sad, praying, waiting. Lots of praying because I have a lot of questions. Like “how do I do this God?” I feel incapable of processing “is something wrong with me?” My brain is furry. All of the sudden I’m forgetting things- like words, or names and sometimes sentences just come out all wrong.. I don’t even realize it until the person I’m talking to has this confused look on their face or there is silence on the other end of the phone. It’s as if all this new information is tossed in and jumbled with the old so nothing really makes sense. 

Even when life feels confusing, my faith in God calls me to action, to keep moving onward. “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war. With the cross of Jesus going on before.”  I didn’t know when I learned that refrain at the age of 7 what it meant. Yet as I’m reminded of it I begin to move onward and I begin to feel stronger.  I wonder if this is how everyone experiences hard things.  Do other sojourners feel like their in quicksand or like they can’t breathe?  Do they forget to go to grocery store or check the mail?  Gracious people are at every turn reminding me that it’s ok to feel. It’s ok to not have the answers and it’s ok to forget someone’s invitation when you’re in this life fog of cancer.  I now with new eyes am experiencing what others before me have gone through. My appreciation for the fighter spirit of survivors is ignited and I hope we can be that for someone else. 

Experience tells us  there are many different things to do or say when someone is processing circumstances but I’m realizing the most profound way to gain strength truly is from my relationship with God. As I read recently I came across these words in Psalm 48 and it comforted me greatly. (Pardon my paraphrasing)

So I “will take note of the fortified walls (God’s Word, family, friends, the church), and tour all the citadels” (the times God has been a fortress, protecting me from heavy attacks..what an incredible word picture!) The armor of God is like a citadel for my life. It is my pleasure and purpose to tell future generations about God’s power and protection. To tell them what God is like. That even when our life seems upside down and inside out, awkward and downright difficult or confusing - Our God is with us. He knows the way we are going. What a comfort that is. What strength I draw from that. He is my Guide.”

Whichever side of the battle I’m on I have a choice to make and so do you.  Jesus has you in His grasp. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021


Oh the wonder of this world. The beauty of God’s creation. Today I noticed a cardinal fly right in front of our truck.  It was a day brightener. The Preacher and I had made a trip to the hills of Arkansas to see our newest grandchild.  Oh goodness what a treat that was. Oh the wonder of this creation. 


Some day he will be outdoors, barefoot and joining his sister chasing the chickens around the yard. But for now he slept peacefully in my arms.  His ruddy complexion, large blue eyes and the sweetest little cleft in his chin. I took out his tiny hands from the cuddle he was in and thanked God for the hands He gave my grandson and that He would use those hands for good and honorable purposes. Next I took a peak at his baby feet. Oh the wonder of this life. His mommy tells me that she noticed he has my toes.  I smiled and inside had this indescribable feeling that somehow part of me is part of him. When he peeked out of those big lids I was transported back to 27+ years ago when I looked into the eyes of my son.  This grandson of mine is the marvelous fusion of the love of two people and the grace of an awesome and generous God. Oh the wonder of commitment.  I lean and smell his baby smell, the newness of him.  My heart is about to explode with love as I hold him close and cherish this opportunity.  Time goes by so swiftly so I take a picture in my mind to tuck away and think of often. 

Sitting a few feet away is my son.  He’s reading Little Pilgrim’s Progress to his two and half year old daughter and she is completely engrossed in the story.  She is listening. He is animated. I am humbled and blessed to witness this holy scene. Oh the wonder of witnessing your child be a parent.  All too soon the chapter is over and my granddaughter is ready to be out in the sunshine so she heads for the door, puts her poppy pink crocs on and turns to see who else is going to join her.  That sweet smile is all it takes and her PopPop hops up and is already following her out to see her new chicks in the workshop.  When I look out the window a few minutes later he is pushing her around the driveway pad in her pink “fun buggy”. Oh the wonder of being a grandparent.

Before we say goodbye this newly minted family of four gathers on the porch swing and I snap some photos of their grinning faces. Baby boy snoozing away, big sister proudly holding her baby brother’s hand, honey-sweet sleep deprived smiles of daddy and mommy.  The bliss of time standing still and capturing this Friday morning in April. Oh the wonder of family. We hug and say “see you soon, love you”.  As we drive down the dusty dirt road part of my heart left behind, I noticed a cardinal fly right in front of our truck and it lifted my spirits.  A reminder from the Lord that He is with our family no matter where we are.  It was a day brightener.  Oh the wonder of a God Who sees me and continues to show me His love. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Consequently covid

 It’s now been 111 days (to be exact)

since the Preacher was released from the hospital and the solitary confinement he weathered in the covid unit.  His experience and my inability to be there with him, for him, has changed our life in some crazy ways. To save you worrying about my grammar skills know in advance that I simply refuse to capitalize the name of this sinister and diabolical virus... the corona virus.

It all began the week after Thanksgiving when midway through the week the Preacher had a scratchy throat and was slightly feverish.  Thanksgiving weekend had been busy and full of food, birthdays, semi final football and preaching twice that Sunday. The discomfort he felt was akin to what he had experienced with strep throat.  He also had nausea that continued to increase over a couple of days. By Saturday the nausea had become so severe that he wanted to go to the ER and see about getting some type of medicine for it. They required that he be covid tested even thought the only symptom he had was the fever. Within thirty minutes the nurse stood at the door of his “room” with a paper sign that she had written covid +. She had been in the room with us getting him an IV of anti nausea meds and taking vitals prior to this, now she would even step foot inside. All of the sudden he was considered to be contagious.  Mind you I had been in close contact with him the entire time and had also had no symptoms. A doctor and a “working on being a doctor” person finally came to talk to us after we had been there for about 4 hours.  Their treatment plan included a narcotic (Tussionex) later I learned that this drug can kill a child if they accidentally ingest it. He was also prescribed a steroid and an albuterol inhaler.  I should tell you that the Preacher has been ill only a handful of times in the 24+ years we have been married and the strongest thing he has taken is an antibiotic (except for pain medicine for dental surgery). So having this menace diagnosis and meds he has never taken before we were banished to our home for quarantine.  

Hindsight is currently kicking me in the teeth.  Little information was given to us about the extreme side effects of these medications and that if someone had that diagnosis how important it was for the patient to be up and moving around - not sleeping a lot. When we got home later that afternoon the Preacher began to experience shortness of breath. It seemed completely random and ironic considering he had no had anything like that prior to being in the ER.  (In the ER they made us wear masks) I did not know prior to this but in reading found that the anti nausea meds they gave him via IV can cause lethargy and shortness of breath.  The tussionex also causes a depressed respiratory and nervous system.  The inhaler on the other hand can cause shakiness in the legs, arms, hands or feet, trembling, fast, irregular, pounding or racing heartbeat of pulse, cough and difficulty breathing.  Is anyone else seeing a disaster looming? 

Within about 52 hours the Preacher would begin having some serious problems with breathing. The details are etched in my mind. It was terrifying to awaken to my husband shaking and trembling unable to calm down. After an hour of foot rubbing, loads of blankets and me noticing he was blue around the mouth. (Insert freak out face) I called 911. 

The Preacher spent 8 days in the hospital. Eight difficult, isolating, frustrating days. Scary days. Alone. 

I had to quarantine as I had been around him the entire time leading up to his getting diagnosed and now they wouldn’t let me come to the hospital and see him. The world that has been consequently covid ruled is a darker, more fear filled world. The hospitals that “help” covid patients have as much if not more fear than those of us on the outside. Care for the Preacher was below average.  We did everything we could to get him out as soon as we possibly could.  

I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy. By the grace of God we got through it.  If you are reading this know that you have to be an advocate for your family member.  It’s vital.  It’s life or death.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

That day

 Walking up to the front desk I realized this could take lots of minutes. The room was full of masked faces. Is this really the world I live in now? As I move up one spot in line someone caught my attention and said “can I help you?” Anxious I walk up to the counter and ask if I can go to the room my husband is in. She inquires who I’m looking for.  I tell her the name and she leads me down a hallway to a room that holds my husband as well as the doctor, nurse and a med student. Dr Something-Something was mumbling about being proactive and that he believes blah, blah, blah, then yaddah, yadda, yadda and my vision narrows as he begins to explain what he thinks is the likely diagnosis of the enlarged lymph node on my best friends’ neck. He notices my expression and his dialogue becomes more upbeat and positive. (Does he recognize this look in my eyes?)

I look at the Preacher and he is listening and smiling with his eyes and nodding his head. Proclaiming that he is a fighter and understands when Dr So and So says “know that this will not be a sprint but a marathon.” To his credit the Preacher stays positive and shares that he has run marathons and understands what Dr Such and Such is telling us. 

I feel frozen in time. Tears burning the rims of my eyes I can’t even breath. He finished up his discourse regaling to us that he will be in Colorado with his kids and wife the next week or two so it’s likely his trusted nurse will call us with the “news”. What does that even mean? Does he realize how his comments make him sound like a pompous, affluent, out of touch jerk?  Okay so I’m a little testy at this point. When medically scary words get tossed around like confetti it’s like someone singing silly songs to someone who just lost their dog.

He shakes the Preacher’s hand, then mine and waltzes out the door. The nurse leads us to another room to make appointments. Ms. Doing-Stuff is tappity tapping away and asking the most mundane questions. It’s taking everything inside of me and the grace of God to not yell at the woman when she informs us that the Preacher has to be off blood thinners for 5 days prior to the biopsy... my brain exploded. I explain to her that no one has indicated anything like this in the 3 weeks leading up to this appointment. She looks pensive and the Preacher looks at me as of to say “It’s okay, I will be okay”. But I DON’T feel ok right now. The snails pace that they are handling this is frustrating me. I want to tell her if it was her family member she would understand. It’s like December and Covid all over again. Spinning wheels inside my head with so many questions. And no answers.

The timetable of the medical world and the insurance world is no respecter of men. She schedules the appointments and we rise and walk out. I try to stay calm. I want to warn all the masked faces peering at us, to get ready for a less than stellar visit with Dr Such and So. I don’t. I take the Preacher’s arm and keep walking. 

I swallow the tears and ask God to help me not fall apart on the one that needs me to be strong with him, for him. He smiles and tells me it’s going to be alright. He reminds me that all of us have numbered days and that he wants to enjoy all the ones God gives him. I know he’s right. I love him even more than I thought possible. I still want answers. We arrived in separate cars so we leave together, alone. 

Driving away I can hardly think. Right now I’m angry. For lots of reasons. Some of them understandable by anyone. Some of them known only to me. Time slows down. I go to Harp’s. Buy some things I don’t need. I can’t find the list I had. Madness, sadness, questions and overwhelming tiredness. 

It seems possible to surrender all of this to the Lord after some hours of quiet time and the prayers of family and friends. Decision made.’Not mine to carry. “His yoke is easy, His burden is light’.  Therein will I remain.