Archive for the ‘marriage’ Category


When my first son married, I sent a question to the parents and grandparents asking, “When you said, “I do,” what is something you ended up doing, something you’d never imagined, that brought you great joy. I turned the answers to those questions in, “What are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life” (Poem 1). To listen to Frank Sinatra sing the song that inspired this project, click here. My second son married this week with family coming from all over the country – from California, New Jersey, Kentucky – and inbetween – to celebrate. I did the same project with them. Let me tell you, I fell in love with my daughter-in-laws family when I read their answers. This is their poem:

What are you Doing for the rest of your life? Poem II

What are you doing for the rest of your life, Beautiful,” he asked.
“Spending it with you,” she smiled, smiling his favorite smile

Dreams, Expectations, and Love
reshape, re-form
as the rest of your life unfolds

Papaw laughed, saying, “We didn’t know nothing when we got married”
but their house filled up,
creating their own love equation:
1girl + 1 boy + a set of twins
equals 12 grandsons
Who thought a house
could hold so much love?

“Packing and unpacking the good-stuff
about 20 times over 45 years,” mused Papa Bill.

“Savoring the slow grow
from Switzerland to Cape Cod,
France to the New Mexican Mountains,
the slow grow of a life-time of family,
Grandpa Leo, like a story-teller said,
when one day a precious granddaughter
chased butterflies through wildflower
and, in the watching,
I saw the most beautiful
of them all.

“I learned that miracles come in threes
A lifetime is full of blessing,”
explained Granny.
“That love shares
and dreams
so much bigger than your imagination
daily, weekly, yearly
there is always more love
and the idealistic star-gazer matured

“A house on the water filled with grand
who ever thought visits could mean so much?”
Queried Grandma Doris
“Weekends, vacations, any time
kayaking, fishing, water skiing and big
waterfront bonfires with those I love so much
roasting marshmallows and listening
and loving every moment

How does I do  make scraps for love story pieces?
Somehow, it does – and out of it comes
garden tulips, little Dutch girls
and farmer boys, soccer balls and
all things Papaw from trucks, tractors
and Apple Tree Swings quilted
and wrapped tight around
so many little shoulders
like hugs and love,” explained Nanny.

“My happiest Days?
A Mama’s Trinity:
babies born,
college graduation,
and weddings,”
misty-eyed Grandmama wistful explained.

His mama gladly
put girly, girl dreams aside
to find joy in boys and their toys:
Whoever thought snuggle-buggles and Nerf-Gun Wars could bring so much joy
Learning to hug
in all the love languages,
the huggable language of each son!
Challenging each other to love
To God’s beard and back

“Who knew?” his daddy said.
“Wiffle ball,  sock wars,
and Friday Three Stooge
could be so much fun,
or watching soccer
under the moon and the sun,
while walking out with each son
the plumb line of dream building”

in the dark,
boys sitting on kitchen counter-tops
telling stories big and little,
little and big
and laughing,  a joy unanticipated over 35 years ago,”
his Aunt Sherry said added.

“Rooms filled
with yellow paper
Stars,” her mama said determinedly,
“every year,
every birthday.”

Who knew how important creating
an environment that grew
a strain of independence
in a three-year-old breakfast-maker
artist, speaker, singer?” said her father.
“Who knew how important that would
become to me, to be an encourager of
independence for you to be
following a path all your own
forged with your will,
designed with your brain
out of your own heart
which led you to a volley ball court in Tennessee
where a boy lived who loves you true

What are you doing for the rest of your life?
You really haven’t a clue
about the wonderful details and moments inside the plan
God has in store for you!
Big and Little
Little and Big

I never imagined a son would make me feel so tiny!

I never imagined a son would make me feel so tiny!

(To see the first What are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life, please click here.)

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There are moments when my husband dazzles me, moments when the sun just dog-gone shines brighter because he walked in the room. When I feel slimed by the world, it all washes away with one word, one smile from him.  It’s as though someone sprinkled me with. . . pixie dust.

“All the world [marriage] needs is faith and trust. . . and a little pixie dust” (Peter Pan)

An enchanted marriage? Where there is more to our marriage then two people? More than the strength in our 2 pairs of hands, 2 pairs of feet. Where my guy doesn’t ride a horse – and I don’t have hair as long or as sturdy as a rope ladder – but we survive the challenges that threaten us, yet still retain that dazzle, that enchantment, that love. Retain it despite life’s roughness, imperfection, graceless moments, conflict and self.

I’ve always heard about marriage turning two into one – at every single wedding: “Did he not make them one” (Malachi 2:15).

Yeah – there’s a heap of him and an armful of me (Granny’s measurements) – but it is a secret ingredient that mixes us into one, breaks down the individual ingredients for marriage one-ness – one-ness God’s way. We are a mixture with many things dissolved between us: sweetness, saltiness, spice.  According to Chem4Kids some mixtures are better combined “than any of the metals would be alone.”

But nobody every told me about the other ingredient, the secret ingredient, the more-than-pixie dust ingredient, the not-talked-about part of this transformation into one. I never heard the second part of Malachi 2:15:

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?” (Malachi 2:15)

The Father gives an amazing wedding gift: A portion of the Holy Spirit. The same powerful gift He gave on the day of Pentecost, the gift that enabled Peter the courage to never deny Christ again, the power to overcome adversity, for love to grow big enough that to lay down one’s life for another, faithfulness that never turned away, wisdom to say the right word at the right time, insight to love completely and unconditionally, grace for forgiveness.

I love how The Message translation says Malachi 2:15:  His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage.”

“The smallest details of marriage” – How small can you think? As small as a tear drop? As small as the penny in the bottom of your purse when that’s all you have?  As small as the alone-time with your husband when everybody’s need is so big?  As small as the letting out of the cat at 4 a.m.? As small as the lining of your kitchen drawers? Or the sliver of soap in the shower? As small as the energy left at the end of the day? As small as your confidence in the face of a mighty challenge? As small as your affection in a moment of big anger?

Sadly, this is often the wedding gift most often left unopened. When it is opened, it is a gift no one ever quite knows how to use, so it is shoved to the back of a closet.

It is a gift most successfull when used by both  husband and the wife –  in equal measure. Like cooking, familiarity, skill increases with use. Like spices, the more you use them, the more you understand just how powerful each is. The Holy Spirit is to marriage what yeast is to flour. It enables your relationship to be more than it was. It is the ingredient that dissolves two into one with the strength to maintain that mixture of oneness.

It is a gift that requires interaction. It won’t act until activated – until you mix it into your relationship through prayer, through asking. The Holy Spirit is like a spice in your cupboard. You might have it, but it cannot do anything until you pull it out and mix it in.

It is a gift that requires belief. When both believe  “the Holy Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage.”  The power of 2 married believers (Matt. 18:20) + the Holy Spirit = a blessed marriage.

I tell my sons to pray, ask God to show you the girl He made for you, to pray about it – and to both have God in your marriage. If the Trinity is in it, you can face and overcome anything, your oneness intact.

That special something in your marriage? Not a sprinkle of Pixie Dust. Not that old black magic. Just a powerful portion of the Holy Spirit.  Pull it out of the pantry of your soul and use today! Embrace the Power of One.

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I’m Challenging each of you to a Love Dare – Last week I wrote about the blessing found in choosing to love my in-laws. I’ve noticed that every time I write about in-law relationships – it gets awfully quiet. I’m getting ready to do a couple of articles on how when we honor and reach out to our husband’s family how that allows him to grow into the man he was designed to be. My love dare? Dare to love like you were born to them – like they are your favorites, love like you’d love your children on a bad attitude day. Just in case you missed the hard part of loving an in-law and turning the hard into blessing. I’m writing this to create awareness about the importance of our husband’s position in his family.


The Umbrella City my husband's family creates at the beach - 34 - and not everyone could come!

The Umbrella City my husband’s family creates at the beach – 34 – and not everyone could come!

“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you;
you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep”(Psalm 127: 3-5)

Over 3o years ago, God gave me a priceless wedding present – my husband’s family. This gift – if I chose accept it, embrace it – had the ability to enrich my marriage, my motherhood, my life in ways that at 21 I possessed neither the maturity, life experience, heart-size, or selfless-ness to fully value.

Beside a dirt tennis court and picnic tables – that’s where I first met a good portion of my husband’s family when we were dating. Coming from a matriarchal family (due to deaths and divorce), it was a daunting first meeting – not his mother and father, not his sister and brother-in-law – no – it was the future nephews – all 4 from 1 to 81/2.

I knew nothing about boys: boy jokes, boy antics – boys growing, uninhibited, undaunted in a consistent out-pouring of unconditional love.

My husband loved them – and so I determined I would, too. True Love – or rather, unconditional love does that.

I think one of the great misconceptions of in-law-relationships is that a good in-law relationship won’t be hard or uncomfortable: hurt shouldn’t ever exist.

Why would we expect no relationship bruising from our spouse’s family if it occurs in the family that raised us (remember the growing-into-independence years)? Shouldn’t the same grace and forgiveness, the working through tough moments that leave us scratched, bruised and worn – working through them to forgiveness – shouldn’t that same grace and forgiveness be extended to the new members of this new family.

It’s not just working through challenges in building relationship with this new family, it’s learning to appreciate and value the differences. Just as parents and teens stretch to appreciate and value the differences in each other, so will spouses and in-laws stretch to appreciate each other.

If you accept the marriage gift – God creates something amazing and beautiful. Yes- you and your husband are 2 who become one. Yes, you both leave your family and cleave to each other – but, remember how God works in an Opposite Day Paradigm? You and your spouse  are a single family unit that flourishes best when that single unite fits with others to create a whole family – whole, as in complete – yet ever-expanding.

A heart grows by loving those God gives us. He gave us our birth, or in some instances, an adopted family, our spouse and children – and our spouse’s family, our brother and sister-in-laws. Love is a choice. When we chose to love those God gave us, our hearts grow, eventually uninhibited, undaunted and unconditional.

When this small-town city girl married country boy – we each brought different ways of thinking and doing things into both our families. I don’t doubt my husband’s family shook their head in exasperation but they scooted, stretched and made room for me – just as I stretched an scooted to make room for them.

Some people say, “You don’t know my in-laws. . . . my mother-in-law wants nothing to do with me . . . .they make choices I don’t agree with. . . . “

Nobody ever said love was easy. It’s a choice. It’s rolled together with Faith and Hope. It’s not giving up.

umbrellaIn the story of the Talents, the master gave his servants, 5, 2 and 1 talents according to their abilities. The servants with the 5 and 2 talents worked with what the master had given them, who said, “You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).

Shaddai gave you and me our first family – the family that raised us. Then, through marriage He gave expanded our family – to include not only our children but our husband’s family.

How can we go out and save the world if we cannot love what He has given us? How can we maintain the endurance to love and save both the easy and hard in our neighborhoods, towns, country and world if we don’t possess the endurance to not give up on those He gave us through birth/adoption and marriage?

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?;And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matt 18:14)

My family – all of them – will probably be the first to tell you I don’t always love well or gracefully. I don’t always have the right words – or even the right dishes for a family event – those 4 boys all grown up now won’t let me forget the stuffed-eggplant I brought to a cook-out. However, I like to think I don’t give up reaching.

This week, I’m at the beach with my husband’s family. Those 4 boys that scared me to death? Some of them have children my boy’s age. There’s 34 of us – from Nanny down to the newest, Maddie. Nanny’s here. My husband’s sister, 7 grandsons from 39 to 13, 7 great-grandchildren, in-laws with daughter-in-laws.

I fell in love with my husband – and then I chose to fall in love with his family. Somewhere between 31 years ago and today – that choice became something real and deep. God’s wedding gift has enriched me beyond measure – all because I never gave up!

It’s not just a southern thing; It’s a Christian, too. A Christian doesn’t try to hide their crazy family members – we take them to the beach, let them crazy run-around and show them off  because something special happens when we’re around them. In this choosing-to-love, Christian-kind-of-thing, when we do it God’s way, we not only do we start seeing others how God sees them but maybe we just start loving Gods-kind-of-way.


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In the previous post on The Mother-In-Law Chronicles, we discussed how the bride and groom each left their family – she legally, he spiritually because he was integral to his family congruity due to inheritance laws. The purpose of  The Mother-in-Law Chronicles is to promote awareness of biblical honoring of the husband’s family community. In most instances regarding biblical families – the husband’s family community/history-was the seat of identity. Generational Curses were passed down from the husband’s sin, not the wife (Exodus 34: 6-7). Blessing was passed down through the husband’s family line. Even Moses had to discover his own family community in order to lead that community out of bondage, to become who he was destined to become. The husband’s family community needs to be cultivated just as thoroughly as the wife’s family community in the 21st century.

and the bride Rachel stepped from under the canopy
back into her father’s community for 20 more years
for mandrakes she sold a night with her husband,
yet demanded this husband give her
a son or she would die
who didn’t know her husband’s community
didn’t know the stories
didn’t know Jacob was conceived
because of a faith prayer
his father prayed over his barren mother
who 20 years later with her husband
left her father’s house with false Gods,
stolen trinkets that couldn’t answer prayers,
had no idea the faith of her husband’s community
blended into her own
and to Rachel Was born
Jacob’s favorite son
a son who would ultimately save
Her husband’s community during famine
A blending of two families
Into one

How are You Leaving?

Entering a new community requires relationship reaching, relationship building, boundary establishment and blending. Before you can blend, though, healthy boundaries need to be established. Incongruous-sounding, yes, but that’s how things with God work sometimes, somehow.

Jacob found himself in a quandary. He had run away from his father’s community and was now ready to return to face his past, ask forgiveness, restore honor, and claim his spiritual heritage and community.

20 years earlier, Jacob had come to his mother’s family community, found a wife, well 2 wives, and, well, he really had no peace. Isn’t that the way it is when you are not where you are supposed to be? Things just don’t go quite right. You can still move forward in your faith walk but it’s just not quite as graceful as it could be? That’s where Jacob was.

His place in his father-in-Law’s community really was not one of honor. He had lived 20 years in his wives community without a wedding contract that separated his wives from their family. Rachel and Leah’s ultimate authority, in many ways, was still their father.

Jacob had worked for his FIL, promoted his FILs interest – and the profit from those interests would be the inheritance to his brother-in-laws – not his wives. Jacob was not in a position of power and authority. As a matter of fact, his position was so weak, his FIL tricked him into 2 wives.

It is when Jacob decided to return to the home of his inheritance, his father’s community, that we start seeing a man of wisdom, power and leadership emerge. It is through his paternal family that he would find God’s plan for his life.

Rachel and Leah had not separated from their community until Jacob returned home. No legal contract had ever been drawn up – and, as such, Laban considered who they were and all they had his.

A healthy boundary situation did not exist until Jacob started the journey to return to his own family community, which really symbolized stepping into the leadership role of not only his family but his community.

Three days after Jacob left with his family, Laban chased down him in the desert. He was mad. He considered Jacob’s wives still his property, albeit his daughters. Laban knew there was no letting-go contract. He knew.

 “Laban answered Jacob, ‘The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine. Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about the children they have borne?'” (Genesis 31:43)

Jacob stood up to him, became the man his wives needed him to be. 20 years later, Jacob found himself in the desert creating healthy boundaries with his father-in-law. The marriage journey needed those boundaries, letting the bride become fully her husband’s – a covenant bride.

Laban, Leah, Rachel and Jacob knew it was time to set healthy boundaries for their marriage.

 There was a lot of letting go in the desert that day. A lot of healthy boundaries being set.

“It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other”(Genesis 31:49.) If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me”(Genesis 31:50). This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me” (Genesis 31:52). Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home” (Genesis 31:55.)

20 years after Jacob entered Laban’s community, in a caravan packed with all sorts of dysfunctions, some hidden, some out in the open,  healthy boundaries were established. Rachel and Leah legally no longer belonged to their family community; they now helped define their husband’s family community.

Would Rachel’s story been different if it had happened sooner?  Would Leah’s story been different? Did they miss out on something better because of delayed boundary setting? Would the dance turned into a more graceful marriage dance?

and the bride Leah, stepped from under the canopy
back into her father’s community
Bought a night with her husband
With mandrakes her son collected
Wanting  her husband’s love,
one way or another
And found God’s
Left her father’s house 20 years later
with faith packed
into her soul
she joined her husband on the road
To his reclaim his community
Where the son born of her faith,
Judah, for whom she praised the Lord
through the line of his family community
would the world be saved
A blending of two families
Into one

Join me next Wednesday for “The Mother-in-Law Chronicles III: Threads in the Tapestry

  • The Mother-in-Law Chronicles: Under the Canopy and into the Community, click here
  • Prayer for My Son’s Wife, click here
  • Gasp! The Mother-in-Law – What to Do With Her, click here

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My assignments in my college comp class always contained a definition paragraph, so we’d practice defining things. Things like, maybe the kind of guy or girl you’d want to marry. It always started with a spirited discussion, which would ultimately have girls rolling their eyes over “stupid” boys.

Candidly, I would just say, “Do you really want to marry someone you think is stupid? No better than a donkey on a good day? Is that what you dream about?”

Our culture wants to pin the tail on our men, literally, making an ass out of them. You see it in t.v. shows, news broadcast banter, and, sadly, even on Christian radio channels. Who wants to marry a dolt? Do you? Do you want your girls to marry brain-less wonders? Are you raising your sons to be brainless wonders?

Did God create man like that?

I like to think God created man to be our knight in shining armour. One poll shows  over 70% of women in America are counting on the government to take care of them. I wondered why women would rely on government, which is really like the buffoon-man stereo-type to take care of them, instead of the man God made to be their champion, their other half?

I am a firm believer in what you speak is what you get. “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed [1] in heaven” (Matt 18:18). My words have the power to release good in my life or bad. My words have the power to create an awesome marriage or an awful marriage. My words have the power for me to have an awesome husband or not.

Nan over at Little Black Dress Diaries has issued a 30 Day Awesomeness Challenge about our husbands. This definitely goes with my blog theme: the faith, love and politics of raising boys to men. I am raising my sons to be awesome, Godly men, husbands and fathers – not wusses, dinglehops and buffoons. I want them to be just as awesome as their dad!

And my husband is awesome. I started praying for him when I was 12. God gave me the best.

1) The first time I saw him, he had red hair. I always wanted to marry a red-head. God knew. His hair turned deep auburn after we married. God knew how to present my guy so I would look deeper, look into the kind of man he was.

2) And, God knew legs were especially important to me – and ankles, especially ankles. At home, we joke that any girl they bring home cannot have cankles – it would spoil the gene pool. Ankles are very important – and my guy has outstanding ankles. Yes, God knew just what dazzled me – at least on the outside.

3) God knew that I wouldn’t just fall for a guy with awesome ankles, though. I needed a guy who got my humor, and loved me despite it. When I tried my newly developed pick-up line on him and he didn’t slowly back away, well, I knew he was special. My line? I was taking a freshman sociology class that recently spent time going over 19th century trait factors in criminology: red hair was a predisposition for criminal behavior. When I pointed that fact out to him and it did not scare him away, well, I knew he was someone amazing. If anything, it made him realize there was not another girl in the world out there like me.

4 and 5) God knew I needed someone who could stand up to me, not allow me to bull-doze over them. I had a lot of walls built up around me to protect me. I was a child of divorce – and I never wanted to be a spouse of divorce. I never wanted to go anywhere near there ever again. One of the first times we went out, I made a comment and he challenged it. Not condescendingly. Not in an Alpha-Dog over-powering way. At that moment, I felt that wall go down. I felt like I could trust – in a way I had never trusted before. Here was someone who could see that I was not perfect and it did not take away from who I was. God fills you with that kind of trust if you’re handing out with the guy he made for you. It’s the same kind of trust that you are born with for your parents.

6) When we moved into our apartment when we got married, and we had to carry a heavy, old couch upstairs, he let me have which-ever end I wanted. I switched sides during the process – and he did not mind. He realizes sometimes I am not as strong as I think I am and he let’s me figure it out in my own way.

7) God knew that what was inside was incredibly important. My guy is incredibly loyal and faithful. Even his mother assured me before we got married, “He won’t ever step out on you.” Because of my family history, God knew I needed a guy just like this.

Knights in Shining Armour are not extinct. I think some people just “have not because they ask not” – I asked for the best. And God’s idea of “the best” was even more than I imagined.

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So many Christmas songs are scriptural – at a time when most Christians could not read or have access to a bible, a Christmas song imprinted the story of Jesus on the heart of its singers. How many children know where Jesus was born because of “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem”(1868) or “We Three Kings of Orient Are”(1857)  and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”(15th century). Maybe that is why some Christmas songs uplift and the essence of the joyful spirit lingers – like Belgium Chocolates – pure, rich, true – because the spirit of praise and worship pours from our mouths in great joy. 

Many of my favorite songs stem from the majest, power, mystery, and gentleness of the birth of our Lord.  However, other favorites stem from childhood memories of home, Christmas, and the magic in a child’s belief – the intense savoring of a feeling or image in a song.

Some of My Favorite Christmas Songs are listed below:

1)”Angels We Have Heard on High,” My Christmas, Andrea Bocelli (added boon is “Adeste Fidelis” and “God Bless Us Everyone” from “A Christmas Carol”).  I first discovered Bocelli  in The Mystery of Love presented by Victoria Secrete.  I would waltz my son to sleep at night listening to his music in his little cd player. Magical! His song “Angels We Have Heard on High” allows me a glimpse of the power, majesty, and utter beauty of the music surrounding our Lord on his heavenly throne. I just stop, mesmerized and awed.  When we saw “A Christmas Carol” my crew was booking out of the theatre and I just lingered, listening to “God Bless Us Everyone.”

2) “Ding Dong Merrily on High,”(circa.1500′)s Roger Whitteaker. Bells peel in an everyman song, where everyone has the range to chime in heartily with, “Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!.” While Bocelli is for listening, this is for joining in!

3) “Sing We Now of Christmas/O come O Come Emmanuel,” Michael W. Smith (12th century for O Come O Come Emmanuel) – For years I have bemoaned the fact that there just are not any new Christmas songs that demand to be included in my Christmas Celebrations. Were all the good ones written before I was born – and then inspiration dried up?  Michael W. Smith rescues my faith with this spectacularly Christmas spirited 21st Century remix. 

3) “Silver Bells,”(1950) Kate Smith – This is where you find out that I am old as dirt.  When I was 4 years old, I sat in my basement beside the record player, constantly moving the needle to the beginning of this song.  I am sure my mother heard it well over 100 times that day. Pre-Mall era, my mother would take me on the city bus down town to marble exterior department stores, mile high glass windows that sparkled with lights to shop – and Christmas shop – “City Sides Walks, Busy Side Walks dressed in a holiday style” sparkled in my mind – with men in red ringing bells on every street corner.

4) “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth,”(1977), Bing Crosy and David Bowie – Though I do not know what buttered rum tasks like, I think Bing Crosy’s voice must be smooth like buttered rum!  “Little Drummer Boy” just by itself is a favorite, but when you add David Bowie’s amazing voice and message of “Peace on Earth” it provides a dichotomy that adds a beautiful layer to the song’s presentation.

5) “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” The Nutcracker,” 1891- Sometimes words just are not needed – and sometimes you need something wordless! This fits the bill perfectly!

6) “Mary’s Boy Child Jesus Christ”, Harry Belafonte, 1956

7) Charlie Brown Christmas – This is the way to my husband’s heart!  He LOVES the music.  We used it on the wedding video I made for my son’s rehearsal dinner (it covered when he was little).  For my husband, Christmas is not Christmas without this show or music! Since he loves, I love it along with him!

8) “Twas the Night Before Christmas” (Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians) Time Life  – Soloists, Glee Club Singers, Orchestra – A definite let’s-decorate-the-tree song – and the best way to hear The Night Before Christmas!





9) Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!, Lena Horn, Time Life – Nobody sings about snow better than Bing Crosy and Lena Horn. This is one song that follows me into the snowy season of January and February.  However, my sons were appalled when I popped it in last January while it was snowing.  It’s also a great song that less than sterling singers like me can belt out anywhere (lyrics are tremendously easy!).

10) Away in a Manger(1885), Gene Autrey, Time Life – Away in the Manger – a song unto it self – celebrating Christ’s birth and my children’s bedtime lullaby! Last, but definitely not least!

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For the last 20 years, when traveled home to visit family, we passed this house. It is like an old friend you sitting on a porch as you go into town. We watch for each other, greet each other and pass on by. I have seen it in various stages of seasonal dress, warm moods, stormy moods, desolate moods. I always wonder about its heart, about what kind of love lived in there.

What do you see, when you look at this house?

Do you see



Sometimes, I see Loss

At othertimes, Unsustainable Change,



Not what I asked for

Maybe Life without God


do you see



 Hope of Home Sweet Home


that swirled

within those walls

Laughter wafting out the windows

 opportunity for Shelter

to put down roots

to build a life

out of






New Life all around


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Each picture, the same house, one symbolizing hopelessness and confusion, the other hope.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

Which House are You Living in?

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soldiers“The world is governed by the aggressive use of force,” was played out last week with the death of an honor student in Chicago by violent gang members. Aggressive force ruled. There are two types of aggressive force: Aggressive forced used offensively, and Aggressive force used defensively.

In the public school system, Aggressive Force Used Offensively wins. If Johnney, uses aggressive force offensively by kicking, punching, or pulling a knife, and Sam, uses aggressive force defensively to stop the kicking, punching, or pulling a kinife.  Both are punished.  Equally.  Sam gets suspended for defending himself.  Johnney gets suspended, too. 

The young man-yes, young man, not a child, who was killed would have been suspended for defending himself if that had happened on school grounds.

The system emasculates rule-abiding students, while empowering rule-breaking students

My 3rd grader is being kicked, shoved, and verbally assaulted consistently. The teacher admitted using everthing in his behavior-solution bag, “I don’t know what else to do.” My son’s 3rd grade world is governed by the aggressive use of force-except the governing force is a fellow 3rd grader.

My husband told him that if the child hits him, to hit back twice as hard.  However, if that happens, my son risks earning the same rap sheet as the instigator.

fight2One of my sons had a similar, but more threatening experience in 7th grade.  As the principal explained to me, it all stareted when the class bully kept throwing tootsie rolls at a girl and hitting her in the eye.  My son told him to stop.  It was Halloween.  After Thanksgiving, this same student pulled a knife on my son and threatened to use that same knife to stab him in the back and kill him the next week.

My son’s middle school world was governed by the aggressive use of force.

I asked the principal, “Is this a kid who is just having a tough day, or is this a kid with a history of issues?”

She couldn’t tell me. She also could not do anything about the student with the knife:  even though other students had seen the knife, it didn’t count because a teacher didn’t see the knife.

My son was told to always have a witness with him, whether he went to the bathroom, soccer practice, or changed class.

boxingI was assured that my son had just as fine of privacy rights as the student who pulled the knife.  I countered that my son didn’t have anything to hide, so I didn’t need those privacy rights.

This student was in and out of school for the rest of the year.  Each time he came back, the threats would increase.  We met with the principal again.  We told her that we gave our son permission to take 2 hits (understand that in the 7th grade, he was already 6 ft. 2 inches tall with the strength to seriously injure this little guy).  If someone didn’t pull the young man off of him, then he had our permission to knock him to the next county.  Even though, after taking 2 hits, and finally defending himself would result in a suspension.

“The world is governed by the aggressive use of force.”

Students who are coached and threated not to defend themselves are being subjugated by those using the aggressive use of force.

The public school system is training children and young adults to not fight back, while letting those who use the aggressive use of force freedom to do so. Why?  They have simply exhausted their bag of solutions.

They are creating a country of citizens who do not know how to defend themselves, to stand up and face an enemy force, to possibly save their life. Iwant the school sytems to stop tying my son’s hands behind their backs and forcing them to take the aggression.

marinesI want the school system to teach that right is might.

Sometimes the aggressive use of force, when used defensively, stops the bullies, bad guys, and murderers from continuing their reign of terror.  Self-defense is an American right, for the adults and the children, too.

Sometimes a strong defense is the solution to the aggressive use of force.  Sometimes the defensive aggressive use of force can bring peace to the world. . . and even the 3rd grade.

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.Simply Saturday

“As the rain and snow come down from heaven

And do not return to it without watering the earth

And making it bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater

 So is my word (the bible) that goes from my mouth;

It will not return to me empty

But will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;

The mountains and hills will burst into song before you

And all the trees of the field will clap their hands

 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree

And instead of briers the myrtle will grow”

 Isaiah 54: 10-13

Speaking the word of God—the words in your very Bible—will go out from your mouth and bring blessing—just like the hyacinth bulbs planted in your garden that at the right time bless you with their beauty. 

“Amen I say to you, whatever you will have bound on earth, shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you will have released on earth, shall be released also in heaven” (Matt. 18:18)

Release the Word of God in your life. When you became a child of God, you contracted yourself into relationship with God.  There are two parties with two different responsiblities in that contract.  Yours is live and love others as God prescribed.  Most people forget that God made promises in that contract, too.  If you don’t know the promises, how can you freely go to God and say, “Father, You promised.”  Because He did!  However, if you do know the promises of God, how can you say, “Father, You promised.”

Spend 2 minutes a day reading about what God has promised you.  Then remind God of those promises. God will not run roughshod over your life.  He is waiting for the invitation, permission.  That is the kind of Father God He is!

 Prayer:  Dear Father,

  you promised that if I love You and

 love others(even those I don’t want to love) that I will go out in joy

and have contentment in my life

 even the mountains and hills will burst into song before me. 

Lord, let your spirit water my soul,

strengthen my body,

bring joy to my mind. 

Thank you

 for Your faithfulness

 to Your Word, 

In Jesus Name I ask this of you

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masterdetectiveMy youngest has a solution to his Dad’s snorning.  While he’s sleeping, dress him up as a racoon, and carry him outside. What a solution!  I can’t stop visualizing that.

However, most problems that need solving cannot be done with such cute, creative fixes. Some problems take years to resolve.  Why?  For some reason, we have to walk down that path, study the problem, try varying solutions, search for clues.

A dog-with a bone, never-give-up, always-reaching-for-resolution attitude.  When I took this job as “Hey, Mama,” I had no idea of the high-level problem solving skills that would be required.  I probably wouldn’t have applied if I had known.  How many of you would have run screaming?  No, don’t raise your hands.

However, on the day my first son was born, something inside me was born, too.  God’s pretty amazing.  He doesn’t let us realize all the abilities He stuffed inside us all at one time.  It is almost as though there are boxes and boxes of amazing gifts, like on Christmas, all wrapped up.  Except, we don’t unwrap them until we need them.

It’s almost like on the Wizard of Oz when the Great Oz presents the scarecrow with a sheet of paper:

Wizard of Oz:: Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitartus Committiartum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of ThD.
Scarecrow: ThD?
Wizard of Oz: That’s… Doctor of Thinkology”(Wizard of Oz).

RumpoleProblem Solving?  Unraveling mysteries, deciphering handwriting, solving a riddle.  Sherlock Holmes, watch out, Ms. Marple, step aside. Rumpole, it’s not your turn..  The Great Mommy Detective – that’s me.

I’ve solved the following mysteries:

The Case of the Missing Turtle Head

The Case of the Missing Homeschool Work,

The Case of the Missing Ice Cream,

The Mystery of the Missing Words

The Case of the Missing Cell Phone,

The Case of the Missing Fire in the Belly for Life,

The Case of Not Being Able to Pass an Open Book Test,

The Mystery of the Big Kitchen Mess

The Case of Not Following Directions,

The Case of Sitting on the Bench,

The Mystery of the Door Knock

The Case of the Stalking Stomach Ache,

The Case of the Missing Passing Grade, 

The Case of the Sore Knees and Feet,

The Missing Thin Mint Mystery

The Return of the Stalking Stomach Ache,

The Case of the Son who Would not LISTEN to Lectures,

The Case of the Missing Child

The Case of the Problem Logic Couldn’t Solve,

The Case of the Missing Facial Cleanser,

The Missing Sub Sandwich Mystery

The Case of the Empty Laundry Detergent Bottle,

The Case of the Stinky Feet

The Great Christmas Present Mystery

The Case of the Missing Dr. Pepper Inside the Bottle

The Case of the Blown Transmission

The Case of the Mysteriously Appearing Tinkle on the Toilet

However, I cannot take credit for the trickiest mysteries.  In the most difficult cases-I was just the ghost writer for God. After I had collected all the information, stacked up all the clues, consulted with specialists, I found myself missing the key information that would solve the mystery. I had followed all the leads, logically approached the problem from every angle.

No, I didn’t pick up the phone.  I dropped to my knees, bowed my head, and through my tears, gave the case to God.

He has people. When He sends His people, problems get solved.

From 1st to 6th grade, one son had a stomach ache that grew and grEW and GREW.  In 3rd grade, we sent him to one children’s hospital for tests. “Just give him more fiber,” they said.  So I did, and chocked it full of chocolate, so he’d eat more.

We spent 3 hours a night just to help this son who had once been an top student make Cs.  He ran more and more like his great-granny ran, this one son who had run like a gazelle.  The 6-pack he had been born with disappeared.  A haunted look appeared on his face.

In 6th grade, his pediatrician did an x-ray and ultra-sound.  Nothing.  “It must be in his head,” I was told.  I was angry, angry at my son because he was either lying to me and at the pain, because if it were real that meant there was a problem.

I literally wanted to punch a hole in a wall. How emasculating to be a woman and not be able to do that!

Instead, at 4 p.m. in the afternoon one late Spring day, I dropped to my knees.  I prayed, “You know what is in him God.  You put it there.  You planned his days before he was born.  YOU know what is going on.  YOU know what he needs.  YOU know the solution.”  And I cried.

Three days later, I was talking to someone at his school about the pain. Sometimes, when God is moving, you end up telling people your need story.  While you’re telling it, you wonder, “Why am I doing this?  Why can’t I stop this?”  Because, for that day, that person is one of God’s people He sends to give the key to unlock the mystery.  She gave me the name of a doctor her daughter used.

Sitting in his office 2 weeks later, the nurse asked, “On a level of one to 10, what would you say your pain level was?”

painscale“Nine,” he answered.

When she left the room, I said, “Really? You’re a nine.  One more and you’d want to go to the hospital?”

“Yes,” he said.  His answer humbled me.

When the doctor came in, he pushed around his stomach.  At one point, my son about came off the table.

The doctor informed us that where the pain was located was not an area where “in the head” pain occurred.  I hadn’t even said anything about that.  He scheduled a scope.

He had esophagitus.  Where some people have really bad acid reflux, others have pain that resembles pain from a  heart attack, which is what he was having.  Imagine, you ladies out there, having severe menstrual cramps 7 days a week.  It would wear you down, be difficult to concentrate at school, interfere with you athletic ability, and give you a haunted look.

They put him on Nexium.  He cannot have chocolate, caffein, or mint. The pain went away, but the real work was ahead. The re-emergence of my son began.  He had to rebuild his strength, re-learn how to run, and re-build his grades.  His teachers were amazed at the difference in the boy who came to class.  He greeted them with a smile, participated, led.

This was one of my biggest mystery cases.  However, I cannot take credit for resolution.  I have to give that credit to The Master Detective, God. Thank you, God!


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to be


I learned that long ago.  Some doors closed because Simply Me wouldn’t do.  Other doors opened because

I was



to be Me.

Those doors that closed were meant to close.  Simply Me would not have been welcome there.  Simply Me would have become someone else.


I was not created

to be

After all,

God made Me,

Simply Me.

Organizer, side-ways humor,

ideas and thoughts bursting inside to come out

the boldness to voice

maybe too often

awkwardly hugging with arms


word hugs

information gatherer

asking questions

because I know someone is like I used to be


of my voice

Are you scared to show the God-Created you to the outside world?  The Entire Outside World?

To people who have the power to open doors and close doors?

One day I learned

I had to just be me


To not go out every day and be who He created me to be

 is to reject God.

I need to be,

not who my mamma wants me to be,

 or my husband wants me to be,

 or my sons want me to be,

or even who my friends or acquaintances want me to be

I need to be who God created me to be

Simply Me


Psalm 139: 14-16

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”



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We changed our front doors a few months ago, closing the door in one state to one beautiful chapter of our history and opening the door in another state to a new chapter of history.  Imagine pulling the roots of your very favorite rose bush, or even yanking out last years potatoe vine from its pot–those roots are snugged in; they don’t want to leave. Yank!  Leave they must.

As we transplanted 6 sets of roots (one set stayed), God sent some wonderful encouragement to help us thrive.    I cannot express my appreciation not only for the supporting comments on my posts, but for the beautiful posts that so encouraged my soul, so watered my roots, so nurtured the transition.

During this awkward time (imagine those roots dangling about all clumped with dirt), some very lovely encouragers gave me some awards.  These awards brightened my day.  It has taken me awhile to settle, but I have spent time thinking about who to pass these on to.

commentboxBUTTON-1The first award, given byIn the Mommy Trenches  and Teresa at Two Many Hearts  is the You Add Sunshine to My Day award.  All blogs listed below are recipients of this award.



trueheartawardMocha Mama passed me the second award, the True Heart Award

I want to pass this on to those encouragers with true heart who helped lift me up when I was down:

superior scribbler award Thank you In the Mommy Trenches  and Teresa at Two Many Hearts for The Scribbler Award. I would like to bestow this award on blogs that I have so enjoyed reading for a variety of reasons.  These blogs either had content that encouraged, passion for their blog mission, or just brought some joy to my day.

* Each Superior Scribbler I name today must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
* Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
* Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to
This Post, which explains The Award.
*Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visitThis Post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
*Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

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A rainy day is like

the Saturday of my childhood

in my grandmother’s house.

Saturday mornings rose more slowly than other

days of the week.

It woke

with a languishing quietness,

when you opened your eyes,

you had time

to stretch.

A yawning stretch

of nothingness,

that was Saturday.

In the quiet,

the voice of God

was not hard to hear.

A time to hug.

 A time to sit

on the front porch swing,


a card house,


an all-day-long book.

Time for rambling

conversations about memories,


politics, football, or life.

Time to stew


Rainy days

are simple days

where love

 is not rushed,

 where a smile


where time

slows down,

like Saturdays.

Rainy days and Saturdays are gifts from God, even though sometimes my Saturday schedule does not slow down unless it rains. Psalms reminds me that God provides opportunities for refreshment, delivering me from a stressful schedules:

“He delivered them from their distress,

He made the storm be still,

and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,

and He brought them to their desired haven.

Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love,

for His wondrous works to the children of man!” (Psalm 108: 28-32)

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heartsccKatie over at From the Heart has a post that speaks right to my heart, How Do You Love?  Some love with words.  Some with hugs.  Some with helping hand.  Some help just by spending time with you. Some help by giving.  By giving, I mean giving holistically: words, hugs, help, time, and gifts.

I love easiest by words.  I feel most loved with words.  However, not all my sons feel hugged by my words.  One feels loved just by rubbing my fingers on his cheek or touching is arm in the car.

One feels all loved-up when we spend quality time together.  A simple trip to Petco or even Panera Bread Co., giving him time to talk without interruption, allowing him to be the star of the moment, makes him feel special, loved.

chessOne son loves to give, but he does it with wisdom and insight.  Not rashness.  Not guilt.  When you receive a gift from him, you know he puts a lot of thought into it.  He and the oldest one gave me a chess set one year on my birthday.  They planned, saved their money, and gave me the most perfect gift.

I try to love holistically.  I’ve knitted blankets and prayed for the son I was knitting it for. I’ve knitted baby hats, girl-friend scarves for my sons, teacher scarves.  I’ve baked casseroles for friends who needed meals.  I’ve extended myself in friendship because I assume that there’s someone out there like me who needs a good friend.  I pray.  I try to encourage.

However, love isn’t always pretty.  Love is tough.  Love holds the feet to the fire.  I used to teach college composition. Many students loathed me because I just wouldn’t give them a grade.  They had to work for the grade.  I pushed them hard.  I loved them enough to risk their contempt and hatred because I knew they needed to be prepared for writing requirements in college and in the job market.  One student sent me a note last year thanking me for teaching her to believe in herself.  Another told me how she had lectured a couple of students complaining in the library about my class.  Then she told me that my class gave her the tools to succeed without sweating in the other classes.  Love is tough.  Love is not a popularity contest.


My older sons complain every now and then about me holding their feet to the fire, fighting the good fight.  Yes, I love them enough to make them mad.  Some get made like a massive hurricane storm, some brew like a hot muggy day that just simmers with no relief, some just thunder for a moment and then it blows over, some are like upper level clouds where the rain evaporates before it touches the ground.  Stealth Temper.  It still needs to be recognized even though it’s hardly noticable.

Some people believe in quota love.  Quota love is where you only love a select group.  God calls on us to love beyond that quota we have set in our heart.  God needs us to love not only inside our family circle, but outside that circle as well.  We are called to be spiritual mothers as well.  A smile, an encouraging word, a prayer might be the hand-up a child or another mom needs in a moment of crisis that we don’t see. The love within us is big enough to love as many people as you want.

I do not always love well, but I never give up.

Love never gives up! Love feeds!  Love cuddles!  Love disciplines! Love knits! Love stares down pressure! blueberryLove hugs with food when hugs aren’t “in.” Love opens your heart to your kid’s friends.  Love quilts! Love prays! Love hopes in the face of adversity! Love lectures! Love sees past the tantrum into the goodness! Love is unconditional!  Love offers friendship!  Love Champions!

Paul says it best, though:

Love is patient, and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the TRUTH. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Read more about the diversity in love in Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love LanguagesHow do you love? Please share with me in a comment.  I’d love to read about it!

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fourfeet4The Mother of Sons gig comes with a bag of issues. Paul Dean has broken the glass ceiling, though. Nobody questions her ability to cook or entertain as the mother of sons. Of course, she doesn’t have 5.

This is a Mary-Poppins-deep bag of issues! Decorating? Moot point. You took ballet? Really! Those are just surface slanders, though. The slander becomes more insidious when they demoralize the integrity of any young men-just because they are male. I cannot tell you how many times mothers of daughters have defamed the male gender–Christian women–who consider any young man a criminal just for being a boy. You would think that the young men in youth groups or Christian college groups might get a character break!

Then there is also the issue of birthing sons. When the first one was born, women encouraged me–“Oh, the next one will be a boy.” By the time I had the third son, the response, too often, was “what a shame.” Yes, I really did have people say that to me-with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

When the ultra-sound identified my fifth child as the fifth boy, I must admit my heart paused. I had a mini-identity crisis. I did not want to be the burley mom sitting on the top of the baseball bleachers, spitting bird seed, and hollering like a sailor. I’d never seen a mom like that, but I just knew that I would morph into that woman. However, sanity slowly crept back into my heart and mind. No, I have never spit bird seed. I have never hollered like a sailor. Yep, I did pack on a few pounds this summer. However, I do avoid the top of the bleachers–just to avoid temptation.

The true shame, though, is the evolving cultural view of men as inferior, idiots, disreputable, unworthy, useless, repugnant, animal-like .  How many of women want a husband like that?  What a miserable marriage! 

If I had a daughter, I would want her surrounded by young men of distinguished courage and ability, nobility of purpose, faithful, a lover of God. Just so you know, those are the traits of a hero. All men have the spiritual mixins to be a hero,whether it is a life-saving hero, a fixing-the- tricycle-wheel hero to a 4 year old, or a hand-holding hero who squeezes encouragement into his wife’s hand, or the 9/11 fire-fighter kind of hero who goes into a building to save someone knowing he might not come out.  Big and little heroes, little and big.

Bless is the man who trusts in the Lord,

and whose hope is in the Lord.  For he shall be like a tree

planted by the waters, which spread out its roots by

the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its

leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year

of drought, nor will ceas from  yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

I have learned this last year, the peace, the beauty of letting my husband lead, letting him be the man, just as God created him to be.  Growing up as a child of divorce, that is a true leap of faith and trust.

However, a culture that doesn’t expect greatness from its boys will not receive greatness when those boys become men.  If society continues to hack away at the natural traits of men, like the roots to a tree seeking the water, then when the heat comes, when trouble comes, like a tree without water, men will fail.

No! Accept it!  Boys are Boys!  Girls are Girls! Boys learn differently than girls.  Boys play differently than girls.  Boys need to be able to defend themselves when someone punches them.  Instead, they are slapped with a suspension because they dared to stop someone from punching them. Boys question, argue, debate.  Boys do not just want to learn.  They want to apply what they learn.

Peter the GreatIn Peter the Great by Robert K. Massie, Peter cannot sit still. He wants to stand and learn. He doesn’t want to learn math, science, history, astronomy; however, he wants Russia to have a navy.  As a result, he learns through unit study where he learns everything there is about a navy: architecture, astronomy, math, history, literature, languge, engineering, science.

I taught composition for years.  The young men in my class hated writing until they realized it would be a tool they used.  Boys and men require purpose in their pursuits. 

God instilled in them the tools needed to lead a family.  Is it not time that our culture recognized those wonderful traits in men and let them be proud to be men?  To embrace the boys growing to men in the schools, the youth groups, the extra-curricular activities? 

Have you ever had a zit on your face that felt like the size of a mountain?  Did you not think everyone could see it?  Even though nobody noticed, that is how you defined yourself. I remember friends wailing, “I am so ugly.”  But they weren’t.   If we study and focus on the weakness of boys and man, then, like that zit, that is all we will see.  Let us, then, focus on the hero traits within. By hearing and thinking about the good and great within, morewill reach to goodness and greatness.  Afterall, we tend to live up to the expectations people have for us.

I am raising my sons to see the goodness and greatness within.  They are handsome blessings from God created for goodness! What a shame, indeed!


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“Be Bold and Courageous!  Do Not be Afraid” (Joshua 1:9)

Worry is another word for fear. When we fret, we wear away our peace, like a river wears away at the earth, making new passageways.  However, these are not paths that quiet our soul. These are paths that lead to torment. Yes, torment.  It may sound medieval, if you cannot stop thinking, stop worrying, increasing your frustration, the harassment of worry culminates in torment.

Worry is commonly mis-interpreted to mean, “I care for you; therefore, I worry about you.”  That means, I am in constant fear for you.  Ergo, the greater my worry, the greater my love.

That is deception.  I had a conversation with a woman a few years ago about our children driving.  She commented on how she worried, just feared every night her teenager went out.  She could not rest until that teenager was home, safely tucked in bed.

She wanted me to confirm that fear.  Instead, I told her what I believe, “I pray protection over my sons daily so that no harm comes to them.  I pray that God hedges them in front and behind.  If I worried, then I wouldn’t be trusting that God was doing just what His word says He will do for my sons.”

I have had to retrain my thinking.  Worry creates obsessive thinking in my case. Worry is like an ant eating away all my other thoughts, just leaving worry in my mind. I had to stop worrying! Not only for my peace of mind, but because every time I worried, I was telling God I didn’t trust Him and His promises. God sent people across my path who taught me eradicate worry like the Orkin man takes care of infestation.  However, just like the Orkin man, it is not a one treatment solution.

When worry knocks at the door to my mind, I spend time with my Father.  He gives me the heads-up for what I need to be doing.  Sometimes it is just waiting. Sometimes it is a call to action.  Sometimes it is a call to prayer.  It is always a call to trust.

The next time worry whispers in your ear, calling you down the path of worry, shut the door, call the Father, and trust.  Trust the promises of God!

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My aunt was so proud of my pickles and preserves that she entered them into the state fair.  My big head was brought down to size when we discovered the difference between county and state fairs. At the county fair, the judges didn’t taste the preserves.  Mine were just the prettiest.  At the state fair, they tasted.  Mine didn’t win. This goes to show beauty only counts in county fairs and beauty pagents!  It’s what’s inside that counts!

Blackberry Hand-me Downs

By Maryleigh at Blue Cotton Memory

“Hand me down some summertime, Darlin’,”

asks breakfast table relations,

“Some of that blackberry summer time.”

“Blackberry jams all gone,” comes the answer

“All Gone till summer time.

When berry time comes, I’ll preserve


some summer time.”

drops of lemon and sugar pounds,

bitter-sweetened blackberries

picked in the chilled sweat

of morning’s summer sun

oozes juice



a cotton apron.

sweetly to syrup it cooks


to the rumbling Galaxy fan

blowing hotness

against salty sweat that balls

like candy


down flushed cheeks.

stirring carefully,

sometimes carelessly

damp hands swat flies

and the noon siren hollers from town

as shoes stick to the jelled linoleum.




hot clean Mason jars and

settle in a water bath.

tidy up

cool down

fish out

jars glisten on cheesecloth rows

lined like plowed fields

in pink watermelon prints

and in the falling of the day

when shades are pulled

dry coolness draws heat

from sweaty skin twitching

to a tin beat




sealed and saved

until little and b ig

voices around the breakfast table say,

“Hand me down some of that Summer Time.”

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vintage-american-flag-children4Children are so impressionable.  It doesn’t take much appeal to get them on board for a project.  Last year, I had my fill of fundraisings. Some I didn’t mind; however, when they started coming home begging me to give them a dollar to wear a hat for Diabetes or Cancer or some other fundraiser, I hit the limit of my endurance.  I was sick of my little guys’ hearts being manipulated for money.

Let me give another example.  If my husband and I were divorced (which we aren’t), and I asked my children to ask their dad for the child-support payment, I would be taken to task by the government’s Child Services.  I would be chasitised for manipulating my children to achieve an ends.

Which is what I think some of those school fund-raisers do–or rather that is how they go about soliciting funds–by preying on the tractable hearts and minds of my children.

Children are so responsive to cries for help.  They do not see the “man behind the curtain” as in The Wizard of Oz.  They do not doubt that the person asking them for help has ulterior motives.  They are like little birds in the nest, happily opening their mouths to swallow the food their mother bird, or others that the mother bird trusts, drops down their gullets.

constitutionBased on this reasoning, I do not want my little guys listening to Tuesdays speech, beamed into my children’s classrooms, without parental guidance.  How many of those children will think the president is directly talking to their classroom or their school.  Imagine! The president needs their help!  “Gee, Mom, President Obama says I can help him.  He wants me on his side.  Wow-I need 3 ways to help him.  My teacher helped me come up with a plan.”

My malleable, trusting sons will come home telling me we need to help the President of the United States implement his socialist agend.  Then Iwill be the bad guy because I do not believe in his plans.

My high school students are different.  We have discussed politics, our beliefs, and history.  I am a firm believer that you need at leat 3 reasons to believe what you believe.  You just cannot believe because your mama or daddy does.  Understanding why you stand for something is critically important.

Faithful did his sophomore paper on the difference between capitalism and socialism.  Most of the students in his class seemed to think that socialism was the way to go.  “Everybody should get equal pay,” they said.  “After all, not everyone gets the same opportunities.” My son responded, “Well, do you want the garbage man doing brain surgery on you? ”   

Marx’s ideological theory, “From everyone according to his ability to everyone according to his need” is the foundation of exploitation and reducation of freedom.  There is no American Dream in socialism.

U_S_ConstitutionOur forefathers fought to keep the government out of our life, our religion, our dreams, and out of how we raise our children.  A president attempting to beguile each child in America, trying to get little children to promote his agenda, doeson’t seem like the government that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison established.

When President  Obama goes into each classroom, bypassing our own community checkpoints like our school boards, bypassing parents–it sure seems like government is getting pretty personal, pretty intimate with our day-to-day life.

Even more insidious is that he knows those children will go home all pumped up, like they do for those fundraisers, begging their parents to support a president whose plans they cannot even begin to understand.  They just want to help. When their parents do not jump on the bandwagon with them, guess who ends up being the bad guy? The government driving a wedge between parents and children sure doesn’t sound like my America.

On Tuesday, my two youngest sons will be having ice cream with me and their dad while President Obama speaks.  We’re going to be reading the Preamble and Article 2 of the Constitution.  We might even talk about what President James Madison, the 4th president of the United States, thought when he wrote the Federalist Paper 45.

In Matthew 22:21,  Jesus says to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” So far, in American, my children do not belong to our government.  They belong to their parents.  Let us keep it that way!

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Charles Dickens in an author that inspired me.  I wanted to grow up and be the female Charles Dickens.  That is when I was in high school.  I loved the books, but I didn’t realize the political significance of his books.  He wrote with a mission to make social improvements in society. I loved the stories, not really the things that made him great.

I admired him so much, I named a cat after him.  Since then, all our cats are named after authors or literary characters.

My sons loathe Dickens.  “It’s old English,” my oldest son said when he had to read The Christmas Carroll in the 8th grade. 

Exasperated and amused, I replied, “You couldn’t read old English.  It looks like a foreign language.  Dickens in modern English.”  Then we spent a couple of hours alternating the pages, reading together.  It is one of those wonderful mom-son moments is a memory favorite.

My second son had to read A Tale of  Two Cities.  The detail about did him in. I patiently explained that 19th century writing was the television of today.  The authors had to visually create scenes, not with a camera or a paint brush, but with words.

Dickens today is not read like it was delivered to its audience.  It was delivered  in monthly or weekly installments. It was not meant to be read over the weekend. 

Reading Dickens needs to be approached one should appraoched eating a Chocolate Celebrate Cake or a Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake-You don’t eat it all in one day.  Like a rich dessert, Dickens literature, too, is rich.  Too much too soon leaves one feeling woosy and over-whelmed.  Just like too much can turn you away from a particular desert for the rest of your life, so can too much of  Dickens at one time.

It would be wonderful if classrooms today delivered Dickens, Vicgtor Hugo, and Alexander Dumas in installments.  I would truly enjoy a monthly magazine that did just that.  Barnes and Noble has reproduced in comic-book form, early 20th century books of Hugo.  How exciting!  I remember seeing those books in my grandmother’s house as a child.  I loved them.

Dickens seems to have a message for different parts of my life.  In the acknowledgements of my Masters thesis, I used the following quote that is a response to another writer who sent him a manuscript asking, “Do I have any writing ability?” Dickens responded, by demuring: who was he to judge because “for all I know the land is yours by right.”  That was my response to the professor who had said I had no creative ability whatsoever.  If a great, classic author wouldn’t sever the heart of a dream from the person, why should a professor?

Dickens books are classic because they are filled with the wonderfulness of humanity.  The corruption of humanity he shows is the foil to that goodness.  As a result, we can better see the difference between evil and goodness.

My most favorite Dickens quote is from a Mary Englebreit card given to me when one of my sons was born:  “It is no small thing, when they who are so fresh from God, love us”(Dickens). It is on my bathroom mirror.

When my children are “so fresh from God,” they love unconditionally.  Love trumps all!

How they wrap their arms around your neck,

press a kiss against your cheek,

snuggle up for a feel-better moment

or just because they are bursting with love

“Will you marry me, Mom?”

“Sing to me, mom?”

Pray for me, mom?

Make everythign better, mom?

We are born trusting our parents. Why? Because when we are so fresh from God, we only know goodness, hope, and love.  That freshness fades, tarnishing a bit throught the teens, disappears during the college years when they are too intelligent to love without thinking.  They think love more than feel love-at least where the parents are concerned.

I guess that is one of the silver linings to having a bunch of children.  When the oldest is a little too jaded, a little to intellectual to love so unconditionally, you have a little one who loves so freshly, so unconditionally in such an I’m-still-fresh-from-God kind of love!

I still love Dickens, but now I know why! I bought 8 copies of A christmas Carrol for all of us to read before Christmas this year!  Can you hear the boys cheering with excitement?

Yes, I realize the experience will be like pulling a mule into the glue factory; however, I think it will create a memory they will never forget, and they will reluctantly love it, though they would never admit it!



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100_2450Feathering the nest–twig by twig.  The front door might be different.  The path to the bathroom might require an alternate.   Different rooms with different colors. Home, but not home.  However, I have a recipe for making Home.

The boys still cannot find “stuff.”  I put the toothpaste in their bathroom, but they couldn’t see it in the top drawer.  As a result, they stole mine.  That’s some boy-raising at-home behavior. I’ve always said that the difference between a man and a woman is a man can find anything thing that moves, hence the hunter.  The woman can find anything that stays still, hence the gatherer.

However, slowly I have been unpacking home.  The blankets are pulled out and ready to wrap for a snuggle.  My favorite Key Lime candle scent fills the kitchen.  Narcissus Paperwhite wafts from my bedroom. And I prayed!  I prayed for my sons, my home, my husband, and me!

The boys came home to dinner, chicken, rice, broccoli, and carrots, followed by ice cream and cookies fresh out of the oven.  The little guys aren’t quite comfortable in their room yet, so I pulled out a few songs at bedtime: Simple Gifts, Holy and Annointed One, Away in a Manger, Think of Me, Ten in the Bed, and Blue Eyes (by me for my son). They drifted off to sleep peacefully.

Last weekend, we put in a few movies, Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland and Abbott and Costello.  Laughter filled the house!

Then we set about to make memories.  We took the boys to The Pinnacle, a place where my husband and I used to hike B.C. (Before Children). 


This view was even more beautiful because it gave me an excuse to lay down on a bench, suck in ozygen, and give my screaming legs a rest.


Four little feet sitting all in a row!


Hiking up that hill surely symbolized the journey of our move: the pain of toiling, the beauty of the results007

Faithful was worried the others would fall.  He was probably worried he would, too! The line, “Mom, Really? Is this really worth a picture?” Meaning the possibility of one hurtling over the edge.016

There used to be a crooked tree the boys loved at our other house. What a nice connection!


What a view!


What a memory!

Afterwards, we went to my favorite pizza restaurant.  We hadn’t been there is over 20 years.  Around the table at Papalenos Italian Restaurant , we broke the pizza bread, shared the slices, resting, finding humor, solidifying our family roots by making memories, passing the hot pepper and cheese, tenderly re-planting family roots gently pulled.

The Recipe for Home

A heep of prayer

Platefulls of food

A pinch of scents that smell like home

Snuggly Blankets

Memory Making Adventures



A front door, or a side door, that says, “Welcome!”

Thanks for all your prayers during this Big Change!  They have sustained me, given me courage, and filled me with joy!



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When life challenges, I tend to submerge myself into books.  These books are like old friends and old places that are comfortable.  I just finished Persuasion by Jane Austin.  The Secret Garden is next on my list–yes, a children’s book.  I read it first in 5th grade.  Everytime I have ever moved, I pull it out and read it.  Even at my advanced age! 

The story, about being left out, then immersed, kicking and screaming, into a new life where friends of the heart are found and finding home where you are loved, accepted, and invited.  Planting people roots takes a lot of work.  So much unfamiliarity!  Old books are like the home of an old friend where you can sit and forget the challenges for an hour or so.

The following poem, by, now don’t click away–William Shakespeare is one of those pieces of literature that grounds me, reminds me about my most important task.   Except, it is more like a one sided conversation with someone who inspires me to think about motherhood.  Shakespeare?  Motherhood?  It reminds me that in the midst of change, in the swirl of finding my place in this new community, that I cannot neglect my children in a quest to find that coffee shop, to unpack that box, to lose myself in that book that feels like home.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  It is my very favorite!

Sonnet 143

Lo, as a careful housewife runs to catch

One of her feather’d creatures broke away,

Sets down her babe, and makes all swift dispatch

In pursuit of the thing she would have stay;

Whilst her neglected child holds her in chase,

Cries to catch her whose busy care is bent

To follow that which flies before her face,

Not prizing her poor infant’s discontent;

So runn’st thou after that which flies from thee,

Whilst I thy babe chase thee afar behind;

But if thou catch thy hope, turn back to me,

And play the mother’s part, kiss me, be kind;

So will I pray that thou mayst have thy ‘Will,’

If thou turn back and my loud crying still.


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Someone said the two most stressful events in a person’s life are weddings and moves.  My son married in June in an outdoor, 102 degree weather. Yesterday, we packed up 80 percent of our belongings, said good-bye to my son, small-town paradise, great friends, and hauled ourselves to a new home town.  It’s my husband’s hometown. We lived there for about 8 years after we married, but after 18 years, it’s new.

Why leave Paradise, you might ask.

My answer: because God said, “Go.”

Just because God said, “Go” does not make the going easier.  However, I want my “Go” to be a faith go, not a grumbling go like the children of Israel when they left Egypt.  God had so much blessing planned for His children, but when the going got tough, their faith in God’s plan got going–in the opposite direction of where God wanted them to go.

I can see where God positioned our lives for the last two years, preparing us for this move.  My junior wanted to move last summer, and, by George, he was going to move up here when he turned 18 and graduate, with or without us.  I asked him if he had prayed about that decision.  He said, “God said,’Go.'”  Of course, now he changed his mind.  I laughingly told him, “This is all your fault.  You’re the one who prayed for this move.”  He wasn’t amused.

My mom asked, “Are you still moving? Your house hasn’t sold.  I don’t think this is a good idea.”

God said, “Go.”  He’ll take care of the house selling.  He provides for all our needs on the journey to which he He called us.

The job–do you both have jobs?  Last summer, we bought a business, The Original Hotkaps.  This was supposed to be my “job.” 

Well, my husband’s business decided to move all of North American engineering to Detroit.  We didn’t want to raise our boys there.  A similar company move to Detroit prompted us to take a job in Paradise 18 years ago. My business became the family business. The Martha Stewart Show beautifully showcased our product in April.  What an encouraging experience.  It was like God saying, “You’re going in the right direction.”

St. Augustine said in his book City of God that challenges come both to the pagan and the Christian.  The only difference is how Christians handle those challenges.

We started positioning for the move over Spring Break, touring the schools, meeting the counselors, filling out forms and creating information folders.  On our last day of school, we carried transcripts and folders 3 hours away to officially register our 4 boys for school before their year ended. Then the challenges began:

Challenge 1:  It took 6 weeks for our junior to be declared eligible to play sports.  He had to watch while his freshman brother tried out and practiced for the soccer team. They keep forgetting about the freshman.  He wasn’t on the roster, no schedule, the folder disappeared.  Who is he?

Really,God?  Still “Go?”

Challenge 2:  We are looking for a rental house.  We want to build on his grandmother’s farm.  Sadly, a tornado took all the house rentals off the market, filling them with victims.  We saw houses that smelled of dog urine, houses that were too small, houses too expensive.  We found 3 different houses.  They quoted us one price before we looked, and then increased the price when we said, “We’ll take it.”

Are you sure, God?  Still “Go?”

Challenge 3:  We found a house to rent–a potentially wonderful house.  The owner bought it in foreclosure and is waiting for the market to turn around, increasing his investment.  He rented it for a year.  A second renter lasted 2 weeks-until she discovered the man she was to move in with was married.  She left a heap of trash on the driveway, a heap of trash in the house. 

The day of our walk-through, the day before we were scheduled to move in, the trash hadn’t moved, a water leak in the master bedroom had just been replastered, the finished basement was still wet from an air-conditioning leak, there were still huge holes in the walls from pictures and curtain rods.  The stairwell wall, which you see coming in, was filthy. 

My fifth grader balked.  His stomach threatened to heave.  He couldn’t find a clean toilet(there were 4) in the house.  Have you ever seen the scene in the movie with Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice where she had to use an RV bathroom on the interstate?  The sounds emitting from that RV?  I was living that moment with my 5th grader.  Then he said, “I don’t like this house. It scares me.” 

Challenge 4:  We loaded up our house this weekend, moving the stuff that makes my house my home.  The beds, the blankets (I washed them all before we moved), the smells (my favorite candles), the comfy couch–all of it!  They keep changing our move-in date.  It was supposed to be last Friday.  Then Tuesday.  Now Wednesday, but they cannot confirm whether morning or night.

Still “Go?”

Challenge 5:  Today was the first day of school.  No pictures yet.  I can’t find my camera.  My 5th grader cried when he climbed in the car after school.  My shiny new 3rd grader tried to encourage him (see about mourning): “I miss my friends inside,” he told his older brother. “But on the outside, I’m making new friends. All you do is say, “Hi, what’s your name?” And then he went on and on while his brother’s face got redder, his eyes welled more, and a few sobs burst out.  

God, now my son is crying?  I feel as lost as he does at times. I’ve cried a lot, too. Still, “Go?”

Challenge 6: Friday night, I sat with my son and his wife at the one of the eclectic coffee shops on the town square of Paradise: watching the traffic, calling greetings to people we knew, sipping a Chocolate Decadence frappe, talking about life with my oldest son.  He’s staying in Paradise, unless God calls him out. No coffee shops to share a cup of Joe with my peeps in the new town.

Really, God?  Leave my son?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”(Jeremiah 29:11).

I couldn’t do this without God.  I couldn’t have left if God hadn’t said, “Go.”  I can because God takes care of his kids, especially when He says, “Go.”

However, and this is the point of my post, I BELIEVE!

Matthew 17:20 says the following: “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Speaking Faith moves the mountain.  Because I spoke faith, my 4thson was born healthy and whole.  Because I spoke the promises of God, my 3rd son was healed from a stomach problem. Because I was faithful to God’s promises, He sent me a wonderful husband.

I am not going to say,”Life sucks!” 

I am going to say, “God so blesses my life.  I thank you God that you have everything taken care of.  I thank you that you have friends for my sons who will lift them up when they fall down.  You have friends waiting for me, just like that, too.  I thank you Father that my house is ready.  It will be a warm, secure home where my boys can find rest, encouragement, and hospitality.  I thank you Father that our business will be blessed, that you guide my husband, giving him wisdom in building this dream of his.  I thank you that I haven’t lost faith in people. I thank you that Paradise is where you want me to be!  I thank you that you have the plan for my family under control.  I thank you that you know what my 5th grader needs. I thank you that you will give him the strength to hold the tears in so he won’t cry in front of the class.  I thank you that he loves us enough to share those fears with us.  I thank you that we are blessed!

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My very favorite niece advised me to keep posts short. Perceiver of Truth will tell you that if you want a quick answer, don’t go to mom.  If you want to sit down, savor a conversation, talk detail, then I’m the go-to mom.  There’s a sign on my porch that says, “Sit Long. Talk Much.” At 40, I learned to love who God made me to be.  “Sit Long. Talk Much”–that’s me.

I did shorten my last piece.  Really!  I did. Today’s post is the edited portion from “Whatever You do, Do with All Your Might.”  I really did try to sit long, post little.

Let’s finish my discussion on working. Instilling a great work ethic in our children gives them wings to soar. Let me be very clear here.  I am not saying that I have successfully instilled a great work ethic in my children.  It is a work in progress.  I don’t know if what I’m doing is right.  All I know is that I have to step forward in faith one day at a time, make the best decisions with the information I have, and plant seeds-verbally, through my example, and what I culturally bring into our sphere.

However, I want to take “Working with All Your Might” two steps further.  First, we need to define work.  Work is any task to which hands are put. 

Work comes in at least 2 categories; tasks that are a chore: a burden, grind, trail.  It is part of the rat race, not who we are or how we define ourselves. Chores are defined as unstimulating, demeaning, trash-talking opportunities accompanied by a little whine.  After all, chores are “not who we are.”

Work can also be a “career” or a hobby by which we define ourselves, like a badge that boasts of talent, work ethic, success.  Can you say “Career” and not smile? Or think the name of your hobby and not eagerly anticipate?

Biblically, there is no differentiation between chore, career, or hobby.  We are encouraged to do our best, to work with all our might.

Not only does God want us to work with all our might at whatever we happento be do, but He wants our work to be praise:

“In all that you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for me”(Colossians 3:23)

Able offered the firstborn of his flock-considered the best he had to offer (Genesis 4:4). Second-best offerings resulted in punishment, a lack of favor.

Abraham offered to sacrifice the desire of his heart, his dream (Genesis: 22).  Sacrificial offerings were never second best.  God offered his perfect son.  He didn’t change the rules of sacrificial offering for Him–He was the example for us to follow.

We have only ourselves to offer God.  That part of ourselves includes the work of our hands, hands dipped in the kitchen sink, folding laundry, fingers typing words of encouragement or relating a hilarious story, hands driving, or creating beautiful cards, scrapbooks, delicious recipes, weeding the walkway, rubbing lotion on poison ivy.

How can work be a trudge when we are offering that work as praise?  Does that change what you think about your “chores?”  While sitting here typing, my kitchen says, “No–there’s definitely no work as praise going on in here right now.”  The laundry room–imagine my laundry–instead of saying, “It’s a curse” (remember, what you speak is what you get) “I’m going to walk the talk this next week.

Doing my best for God!.  It might not be perfect, but I’m going to try my best at whatever I turn my hand to as a gift to God saying, “Thank You for all You have done for me.”

Maybe I will develop a better example for my sons to follow. Maybe that is how to successfully plant a strong work ethic in my sons!

Special thanks to Mummy McTavish for posting a note.  Her comment gave me the encouragement I needed to complete my discussion.  Visit her at samster-dot-com.blogspot.com.

*I would have taken pictures of my kitchen, but my camera is packed for our BIG MOVE this weekend to a whole new frontier!



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When you are the mother of 5 sons, inevitably, the question is asked, “Do you want any more children. . . . maybe a girl?”

The anwer?  I have taught all my sons to read and swim.  If I had one more, he/she would be illiterate and drown. 

Still, school is starting.  My White Board Calendar is expanding its usage this year: the place for my high school students to record their academic assignments.  Hopefully, that will create a more organized, focused work ethic.

The dog days of summer lead to full backpacks, lunchboxes filled with mama’s love, pens, pencils, paper, binders, and homework.  School has the potential to be so much more than the tools of school.

Why is it the addage, “Oh, honey, just do your best,” sounds like “Aw, I realize you really can’t do better, so you don’t have to try so hard.” Listen the next time someone says that.  Are they really promoting someone doing their best work?

I realize different children have different gifts.  I realize not every gift turns into an Einstein, Margaret Thatcher, Steve Jobs, Emeril, Mother Teresa, or Billy Graham.   However, we are called to be all that Christ has called us to be:

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be”(Psalm 139: 14-16)

Each of us arrive in the world with a plan, designed for joy and fulfillment, a job, a tool box with God-designed tools to help us in our journey, and one awesome safety net.  However, a couch-potato-mentality can interfere with God’s plan for our lives and our children’s lives.

Taking God out of education takes holistic purpose out of education.  When your job is just a job, where’s the nobleness, the drive.  When your job is God-inspired, your talent God-given, and your success a result of God Faith, your job becomes more than a job.

An engineer doesn’t just create cars or iPods for entertainment.  An engineer creates jobs that give families the means to feed, clothe, support, and grow secure families.  If you only see yourself as the engineer, you don’t see God’s plan for you.  If you see the effect of a job well done, then you start getting the idea.

Neither me nor my children have to be an Einstein, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, or Billy Graham to impact others. Someone who helps just one person is just as noble as the one who  helps one thousand. However, we are to fully use the gifts God placed in us to the fullest of our abilities.

Disappointingly, what I have seen in the classroom and, at times, in my own children is a take-for-granted attitude about who they are in Christ and how that affects them in the classroom.  They are willing to talk the talk but not walk the talk.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecc 9:10) is the motto I hope to instill in my children. 

In my college classroom, Christian students enter, itching for an opportunity to evangelize the radical left faculty.  Sadly, their witness leaves them open for derision and tags of hypocrisy.  When a Christian student comes to class habitually late,  comes un-prepared for in-class work, doesn’t spell-check, or follow directions, that behavior erodes the strength of their witness. 

Work ethic is a reflection of Christ in you.  Maybe you don’t have the skill to write an A essay, but you do have the skill to come on time, prepared, and the work ethic to learn.  I would rather have a student with a strong work ethic in my class than a student with tremendous ability.  Work ethic trumps ability any time.

My oldest son struggled with pre-calculus. “I’m just not good at it anymore,” he bemoaned.  The excuse sounded great, but that is what it was–an excuse to back down from the challenge.

God gives us gifts.  In our strength areas, our gift areas, those gifts carry us for a certain amount of time.  For some, math might be easy early on, or reading, or language; however, at some point, the gift no longer carries. In order to take that gift to the next level, work ethic needs to be applied.

Yes, whatever you do, do it with all your might = work ethic for the successful.

Frustration, the spice of motherhood!  Some of the boys chose to work hard.  Some needed to be prodded.  Some needed help learning how to work hard. Frustration is an inward signal, a warning sign that modification needs to be made.  Frustration prompts me to look for alternate solutions to challenges.  We would just sail right on, not realizing our children needed adjustment or that we need to adjust ourselves.

100_2157Seed planting is how I look at it.  Hopefully, those seeds will grow and one day blossom to a healthy harvest.  Healthy Harvests are so incredibily beautiful.

Work Ethic is the key to success.  Work Ethic dedicated to God unlocks blessing, growing good things within our souls.

Blessings on the start of your school year!

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Noah Webster’s 18 28 Dictionary provides the quintessential defintion of education.  Sadly, it probably wouldn’t be allowed reading in public schools today.

“EDUCA’TION, n. [L. educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties(http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/education).

This is true holistic education!  What do you think?

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mlkeith2Twenty-six years of marriage!  Set off the fireworks: some sparklers, Roman candles, poppers and snaps, ground spinners!

According to statistics on children of divorce, I should be a mess: addicted to drugs, a college drop-out, and divorced, too.  My brother and I should be shorter than our projected heights, also, according to another source(I will update my sources once I unpack them from our move). 

Sadly, statistics don’t include the God-Factor!  It’s such a shame that God is barred from schools.  Someone who grew up in the same denomination I did once claimed he grew up in a “dead church.”  His parents weren’t divorced.  As a result, he wasn’t compelled to call out to God for help.  Maybe when you don’t need God, you don’t realize  how alive He is.

However, my parents were divorced.  At school, we had Bible class daily, attended a weekly service, and were allowed to pray in the sanctuary during recess.  When you are little, confused, and hurting, God is a big protector.  I cried out.  He answered.  God never fails.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”(Jeremiah 29:11)

How many children and teens are confused, hurting, and stressed–they don’t know God, they don’t know He protects, that He offers a way out of their dysfunction?  When God stands with you, you don’t become a statistic!

mlkeithI’ve mentioned in a “What Do I Think about Her” about praying for God to show me the man I was to marry.  When God provides, He provides the best! 

“Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”(Matt 9:29)

My husband is definitely the Elkanah to the Hannah I so want to be. I just want to share with you the top-ten reasons why I so adore my husband as much or more than I did 26 years ago:

1)He loves me unconditionally!

2)Five children later, quite a few pounds later, he still thinks I’m beautiful!

3)He encourages my dreams!

4)He’s so dog-gone wise.  I wish I could carry him around in my pocket and pull him out when I need a really wise response!

5)He is strong!

6)He is an awesome father to his sons!

7)He is calm in the face of adversity

8)He is impressed with my dog-with-a-bone attitude about problem solving whether it is with my boys or trying to get Wal-Mart and Kroger to cover  Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazines. I don’t think my boys should read verbal porn in the check-out aisle.

9)He is a Faith man who loves God

10)He has such a boyish sense of humor that brings such joy to my day!

11)I still love his ankles!–Yes, I said that! I think love includes all that is noble in a person but include eclectic elements that add appeal to the entire package. 

 I love that he loves his mama and respects his dad.  I love that one of his favorite books is one I gave him years ago, The Oxford English Edition of Classic Ghost Stories. I am amazed that he still loves me when we argue!

IMG_6850I love that my happiness doesn’t depend on him.  It is not his  job to fetch and carry buckets of happiness to me, filling me like an insatiable flower pot, demanding servitude.  You wouldn’t expect your girl BFF to do that. I’d be pretty miserable if I relied on someone else to keep me happy.  My happiness depends on God.  That sure takes a lot of pressure off our relationship and creates healthy expectations in our relationship.

I love that I will grow old with him.

When God answers prayers, He blesses abundantly! I am looking forward to another 53+ years with My Knight in Shining Armor!

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