What Do You Love?

As the designated “love day” approaches, do we really need a Valentine’s Day to celebrate love? Every day offers pleasures and people, experiences and treasures to love. Sometimes they’re special gifts, but more often they are everyday blessings. For instance, have you ever stopped to think about the beauty color adds to life? There’s not one shade I’d like to be without, but today I’m going to focus on a color that may seem less exciting than others…

I Love Brown

rgbstock-comYes, you read that right. In the middle of winter with more gray skies than blue, grass shriveled or covered with snow, and flowers underground biding time before their colorful entry, I look out my window and see a lot of brown.

I love the sight of naked brown branches, their complex patterns silhouetted against the winter sky. They reach out in praise to their Creator, ready to catch the snow He may send, further enhancing their beauty.

I love brown eyes—my husband, four of our children, and many of our grandchildren have them—deep, sparkly, filled with wonder and wondering.

I love the rugged, shaded pattern of tree bark; the crunch of brittle, brown leaves; nuts—light almonds, dark Brazils, walnuts & pecans somewhere in between.

I love to run my fingers over the grain of wood wondrously created by the contrast of light and dark, forming unique patterns that remind me the Creator is amazingly artistic.

I love brown skin, soft and glowing in hues of chestnut, ebony and mahogany, wonderful and deep and rich.

I love black-brown coffee, friendly, steaming, glistening in my cup—a rich dark roast or hazelnut, no cream, thank you, Unless it’s iced or a latte, swirled with milk turning my caffeinated delight a beautiful caramel color.

I love brown leather (or faux leather) boots and purses, my husband’s brown Stetson, and the brown frame that encircles my family’s posed portrait.

I love the coarse earth—lush, dark loam and warm, tan sand.

I love brown horses—bays, roans & mustangs; the orange-reddish brown of Guernsey cows; the tawny golden brown of a lion; the spotted brown of giraffes (are they brown with tan pattern lines or tan, splotched with brown patterns?).

It probably doesn’t need saying, but I love chocolate— not Hershey’s or Nestles, but the good stuff, the darker the better. I love brown chocolate cake (with chocolate frosting), chocolate fudge, hot fudge on chocolate ice cream, and brownies.

And, I confess, I love mud puddles—the irresistible brown-watery, delighted discoveries that tempted my kids when they were little. Truth be told, there must still be some kid in me because even now (though I wouldn’t yield) I feel lured by the beckon of a mud puddle.

I love brown rocks with their unique shapes, smooth, jagged, pointy, each with a long personal history, like the large immovable ones in our yard, or those that create our property walls, or those tipped over by grandsons in search of lizards.

I absolutely love pinecones—long ones, squat ones, large ones, wee ones. They adorn my home all winter—on a wreath, in a bowl, on a sill—winter flowers, brown beauties that don’t wilt or drop petals.

I love brown! Do you? If I missed one of your favorites, please share.

Image courtesy of rgb.com


What No One Told Me

This is a public service announcement:

When my daughter and her family relocated to New Jersey this summer, I began watching my three- and five-year-old grandsons.


Of course you may have ice cream for your after school snack!

It has been many years since I had full responsibility for two little boys and NO ONE reminded me of the basic knowledge needed for this job. In my desire to assist future babysitting grandparents (and new moms), I issue this public service announcement based on the wisdom I have gleaned over the past few months:

  • About sandboxes. When little boys ask to play in the sandbox and you’re overwhelmed by the sweetness of them asking permission, do not lose your mind. It is not enough to smile and say “Yes. Have fun!” You must qualify your yes—“Yes, but do not throw sand.” This directive will not be understood unless you clearly and emphatically state it. If you do not, you will pay for it.
  • About naps. When the three-year-old grandson lies down on your bed for a nap, be sure to put down a sheet first. If you neglect this step, the aforementioned sand will be waiting for you when you climb into bed at 11 pm. (A waterproof sheet is best, because even though the child sleeps dry at home, he is bound to forget that training at your house.)
  • About grocery shopping. You know those cute shopping carts for children with cars they can sit in? Do not be duped—they are not cute! Navigating them through the aisles requires the skill of a semi driver. Also, they are part of a scheme to get your money because when you pause to put something in your cart, little hands are conveniently positioned to reach the lower shelves and fill the child’s seat with items you have no intention of buying.
  • About grocery shopping, part 2. After you have learned the previous lesson, be warned about the traditional shopping cart. Your grandchild will want to throw your items into the cart, key word being throw. Do not give him a glass jar. Do not put bread in your cart until last. Do not linger within reach of hanging shelf displays, but do be prepared to explain what each dangling package is. By all means, bring a snack. Also, if you invite your grandson to choose a matchbox car from the display, he will think it is part of the grocery shopping routine and expect to stop at said display every week.
  • About shoes. If your grandsons remove their shoes when they come in, you will be putting them back on their feet within five minutes so they can go outside again. However, if they keep their shoes on, I can all but guarantee there is mud on the soles. It is also wise to remind their parents that Velcro is our friend.
  • About questions. If your grandchild is one of those curious individuals who asks questions (every waking moment) it is unlikely you can ignore him. I thought that by not answering, he would let it go. He will not. If the answer is “because” or “there is no answer to that question” it will be followed by subsequent questions. You must be well-rested and alert so you can answer questions you never ever considered. Remember, he is learning… and you are the teacher.
  • About the radio. If you turn on the car radio in hopes of averting the stream of questions, you will likely meet new challenges, especially if your grandchild is musical. During the Christmas season, I discovered that a three-year-old will say “Feliz Navidad” 40 times in a ten minute ride to master the “f” and “v” sounds. Once he has the pronunciation down, he will repeat the words endlessly. You will find yourself considering a call to the station to request banning the song from their play list.
  • About energy. They have it and you don’t. Give yourself a break. Be realistic. We’re not as young as when their parents were children. Rest when they do (and insist that they do rest).
  • About crabbiness. This came to me early on and has proven extremely successful, so I must share it. We were in the car and the boys started whining, as children do. In mock dismay I cried out, “Oh no! The crabbies are here! Who let those crabbies in the car?” I immediately opened the windows and told those crabbies to get out! The boys gaped in wonder, their complaints forgotten. Now I only have to say, ”Oh, no! The crabbies are here!” and the three-year-old runs to the door and shoos them out, reporting with satisfaction, “They’re gone now, Nana.” He also thinks they live in trees, waiting to sneak back in… I’ll leave that for his parents to straighten out.

I highly recommend that you print out and post these pointers because the minute they run through your door calling, “Nana!” as if you’re a super hero, you will forget everything I just told you. The sparkle in their brown eyes, the innocence of their questions and the tenderness of their hearts melt me everytime.

Please share your lessons learned and wisdom gleaned. United we stand, divided we fall into bed by 9.

Whenever I read those words in Psalm 46 I stop. Inexplicably, peace washes over me and in that moment, all I need to know is those four words—there is a river. When all around me is chaotic, uncertain, in turmoil—there is a river.


There is a river whose streams flow, bringing life and joy and fullness. It is bursting with promise, unthreatened by drought, dryness or fruitlessness. It is clean, sparkling, flowing. It sustains life and brings healing to the nations. It carries God’s blessings and satisfies our souls.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. (Psalm 46:4)

Today I am especially grateful for the river. Twelve years ago, on October 11,  our daughter girls-croppedStacey made her home in the city of God, where the river runs. Psalm 36:8 calls it God’s “river of delights” and I can see Stacey frolicking in, drinking from, and bathing in the delights of the river.

She was always eager to share every new “find” with me—pina colada coolattas®, the opening of Home Goods, a baby afghan pattern, the best vanilla soft serve she ever tasted (at Curly’s, even though it was really cold outside). I can anticipate her greeting when I enter heaven, “Mom, c’mon, there’s a river I’ve got to show you!”

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.…There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-2,5)

river photo: wallpaperfolder.com


Bumper Sticker Inspiration

incourageToday I’m honored to be the guest post at (in)courage. Check it out at http://www.incourage.me/?p=179506

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I’m not going to take it!


You may give it, my husband may give it, the driver in front of me may give it, but I’m not taking it anymore. I will not take offense.

I learned this in an adult Sunday School class many years ago. Brad Kibbel is now basking in glory and no longer battles such things, but I often recall his words. He said that people will give offense, but it’s my decision whether or not to take offense — and I’ve decided that I’m not going to take it.

I wish I could remember what we were studying the morning those words were engraved on my heart. I also wish I could report that I have consistently lived by them. What I can say is that they express one of my life’s ambitions.

Solomon, the wisest of the wise, wrote, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9). How I regret the times I did take offense—and then talked about it. No good can ever come from that. Two chapters later (19:11), Solomon says that it is our glory to overlook an offense.

I invite you to join me in applying the words of these two wise men, Brad and Solomon:

Though offense is given, don’t take it! Overlook it instead… and be glorious.

Graphic compliments of mynews.myjoyonline.com

Confessions of an Anti-Bucket Lister

Photo courtesy of freephotosbank.com

I don’t have a bucket list. There, I said it. It’s not for lack of ideas or adventure; I just have a broader perspective. You see, I’m not planning on kicking the bucket.

I don’t know where you are with your beliefs about eternity, but mine are more sure than the air I breathe, which is why I don’t have a bucket list. When I die I’ll just be changing my address and, when I do, there’s not a single desire that won’t be fulfulled.

I googled “bucket list” I found a website called bucketlist.org (no surprise there) where more than three million ideas are cited. Here’s a sampling: climb the Alps, see the great northern lights, go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, learn a new language, parasail, swim with dolphins, visit a volcano, vacation in a castle. This is how I see it:

Climb the Alps? Why do that now when the time will come when I can scale them with no tiredness, no shortness of breath, no arthritis, no aching muscles or calluses, no difficulty breathing in the high altitude, no fear of falling? I’ll enjoy the sure-footedness of a deer and be able to stand on the heights (Psalm 18:33), breathing deeply and seeing further than I could if I stood there today.

See the great northern lights? How about having the ability to walk it their midst, count the stars and know their names―whenever I like, not just now on a once-in-a-lifetime trip?

Go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef? I’ll wait until I can dive in without scuba gear, eyes wide open, ears hearing sounds that humans can’t now discern, and frolicking with the sea creatures.

Learn a new language? In Heaven it may well be that we’ll speak a new, unknown language but, if not, I expect to communicate in every language with a flawless accent and perfect diction―without a translation guide in my pocket.

Parasail? One day I’ll parasail without a parasail, floating through the air without fear of falling or dread of heights.

Swim with dolphins or visit a volcano? I’ll wait for the day I’ll not tire or need fins and be able to understand the dolphins’ language. I’ll stand on the edge of a volcano and let it’s awful majesty fill me with wonder without fearing its power or shrinking from its heat.

Vacation in a castle? I could write an entire post about this one! There is no luxury, no convenience, no furnishings, no gardens, no view that comes close to my heavenly home. Anyplace we now live is in the brevity of a vacation period and anything I desire here pales in comparison to the home that awaits me. Want to hear about it?

My front yard is ocean front with waves rolling and surf pounding; my backyard is forest and field with creatures that don’t fear my touch or do harm. They drink from the water in my yard, but I can’t decide if it’s a singing brook or a shimmering lake; I do believe there’s a waterfall in view. My imagination cannot stretch far enough to envision what’s inside the house, but I know what will not be found there—the radiators won’t hiss, the floors won’t creak, central air won’t be needed, my doors won’t be locked, the windows won’t need replacement, there won’t be ants in my kitchen or squirrels in my attic, and nothing will need renovation or fresh paint. People will gather and share and laugh, but never cry. The food will be tasty and healthy and the fellowship sweet.

That day is coming, of that I’m sure—so sure, that I don’t need the substandard dreams of a bucket list.


Check out Randy Alcorn’s website, eternal perspective ministry and read the post from July 22, 2016.



What? I’m not 44?

Happy_birthday_339A few days ago my oldest child celebrated his 44th birthday. I’m struggling with that because I thought I was 44! It amazes me how the body ages even though the mind stays vibrant. I would be thrilled to have the maturity I now possess in a 44 year old body, but I have too many creaks and wrinkles to entertain that idea very long. So, I’m buying myself an “I’m not 44 birthday present.

I saw it on one of those web side bars that you never dare click lest they “get you”. But I clicked and there it was – encouragement to be worn on my wrist for a mere $7.50. The bracelet reads:

; my story isn’t over yet

So let the disparity between my physical and mental state spar. I may not be as sprite or energetic as I once was, but I still have passion and have gained wisdom along the way. The truth is, my life is a semicolon; the second half is yet to be written. My story isn’t over yet – and neither is yours!

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord…. He is like a tree planted along a riverbank…. Its leaves stay green, and it goes right on producing all its luscious fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (TLB)

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