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Monday, January 22, 2024

A Reason, A Season, or Forever

 As we near the month of Love - I'm reminded of this article that I published in the Hometown Treasure last year. Who are these people in your life?


Coming off the holidays, where I spent time with friends and family and moving into the "month of love," I've been reflecting on relationships. Conclusion - I've been blessed with a lot of them!

Some were in my life for a reason, some for a season, and some are in it forever. No relationship in my life has been wasted. Even if they ended, there was a purpose. I've learned valuable lessons, shared laughs, and loved.

There have been individuals in my life whose paths have crossed briefly with mine. They have been placed there for a reason. Past teachers taught me essential lessons or skills. I've encountered people in the grocery store that I'm convinced were there for a purpose. This is how I learned to pick a good cantaloupe!

Then there are those people who were in my life for a season. Classmates, parents who I shared bleachers with and cheered our children on together, or friends who moved away. We didn't part on complicated terms but moved on with good memories. I've also endured complex relationships for a season. I learned valuable lessons there, also.

Then there is the long-haul group. These forever people are my mainstays who have stuck with me no matter what. They are my parents, family members, spouse, and lifelong friends. These are the ones that have loved me through the thick and thin of life. These individuals have grit and grace, and I can always return to them when I've lost my way. Even if I try, I can't get rid of them (God love 'em) because their love is deeply rooted in my heart.

Where are you in the lives of other people? Who fills in these categories in your life?

God created us uniquely and desires us to be in a relationship with each other. He saw Adam was lonely and created another human being for him. In Galatians 6:2, we are instructed to carry one another's burdens. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says we are to encourage and build each other up.

No matter the status, there is a purpose in each encounter we make along the way.

Romans 13:8 (NLT) says: Owe nothing to anyone – except for your obligation to love one another.

Whether you are in someone's life for a reason, a season, or forever you owe them nothing but love. Easily done if you're in good standing, but more difficult if there are hard feelings. In time and through prayer, we can have love in any relationship. However, it must be sincere love, according to Romans 12.

This passage says we should be devoted to one another in love and honor one another above ourselves. It gives a list of how sincere love should look. This list applies no matter how you fit into someone's life.

Here is what sincere love looks like:

It is selfless, zealous, fervent, and service-oriented. It is joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. It's hospitable, compassionate, and giving. It blesses and doesn't' curse. It rejoices with the joyful and mourns with the grieving. It is harmonious, humble, and never conceited. Sincere love does not seek revenge but makes peace with everyone. It overcomes evil with good!

How many can you check off this list in your relationships? I’m a work in progress on many of them. Let us strive to love each other sincerely - whether for a reason, a season, or forever.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Popcorn for Adults


Give me a show of hands for those that love a box of Cracker Jacks. My love of popcorn began with a box of that caramel coated goodness. And let’s face it, what kid doesn’t root around for the “surprise” that’s in the box. My tattoo dreams came true many a day with a lick and stick tattoo I pulled up from the sticky contents of my Cracker Jack box. Oh, those were the days.

I’m a grown-up now and prefer more sophisticated delicacies, i.e. Angie’s Boom-Chicka Pop. That’s right, Angie, the Popcorn Queen, as I like to call her, is the creator/CEO of Boom-Chicka Pop. It’s delicious and she has marketed many flavors. But my Sparky and I have a big obsession with the purple bag, The Kettle Corn flavor. We eat a bowl of it every night!  We purchase it in giant 1 lb. 9 oz bags that look like king sized bed pillows. We load up on them at Costco, sometimes 5 bags at a time. We do this because one time Costco didn’t have them. We cried real tears and friends felt so bad for us they were offering to mail us bags from their town. Costco always has them now. They claim it has nothing to do with the temper tantrum I had in the aisle there, but I’ve got me a feelin’!

Because of all our grown-up distinctiveness we no longer eat right out of the bag. We transfer our sweet snack to a big metal popcorn tin that sits on our counter. ‘Cause we’re just fancy like that! Even the dog knows the sound of the tin shutting and begs for his share of the goodness.

This morning as Sparky was leaving for work, he couldn’t find his wallet. We looked all over the place. He was sure he had put it on the counter when he came home from work. He retraced his steps from the prior night in his poor feeble little mind to no avail. Perhaps he left it at CVS when he stopped there on the way home. He drove by there and scoured the parking lot. I drove there when they opened for business and inquired if a wallet had been turned in. He prayed. I prayed. We begged the Lord to show us the wallet! Where or where could it be?

Once at work, Spark decided to view our Nest camera video footage. Ah the Nest cam – the thing I love to hate. I hate the thought that this camera is watching my every move all day long, but Spark is convinced that if ever there is a burglar – we’ll nab him! He texted me and tells me to look at the footage from 5:31 the night before. And there he is, as plain as day, pulling his phone out of his right pocket and his wallet out of the left pocket and depositing them on the counter as he has done for the past 30 plus years.

This put our minds at ease for the rest of the day, enough that we could get something accomplished.  The wallet had to be in the house. Once home from work, I pulled all the trash out, looked around the house again and watched over 3 hours of video clips from that @#$& video camera. Nothing. Never do I see either of us go back to the spot where the wallet had laid.

Having exhausted all possibilities, I sat down and thought long and hard about the night before. It was pretty boring actually, and not very fun to think about. As a side note, we need to get a life. Then it dawned on me, the only place we didn’t look was the popcorn tin. He did have his nightly bowl of Boom-Chicka. “Now, wouldn’t that be crazy if his wallet was in the popcorn tin,” I mused to myself as I lifted the lid.

And there…to my disbelief laid Sparky’s wallet amongst the fluffy kernels! What on
earth!!! That’s it, my husband is officially losing his mind. This is very concerning. I didn’t know if I should laugh, feel relieved or be highly concerned about his mental well-being. I quickly snapped a pic and sent it to him.

Relieved as he was, he was in shock and kind of thinking the same thing as me – is he losing his mind? However, he did remind me that I got popcorn after he did. Now the plot thickens.

I am completely baffled by this and although I was relieved to have found the wallet – the mystery now remained as to how in the world it found its way to the popcorn bucket. Did I put it in there? I was the last one to dip my bowl in the tin.

I logged back on to the @#$& video footage. I scanned through videos until I saw one of myself getting popcorn. I watched it over and over. I took the lid off, laid it on the counter, and returned it to the tin. I took the lid off a second time and got a handful more to fill my bowl up and returned the lid again.   

Now, Spark’s wallet is not a typical wallet. It’s actually a money clip. The clip is magnetic. It wasn’t until I watched the video a fourth time that it dawned on me – Hey, I bet I put that darn lid over the wallet, and it was magnetized to the lid. Sure enough, I tested out my theory and that is what happened. Somewhere along the line the wallet became too heavy and the magnetization gave way plummeting it into it’s sweet and salty safety net!

The moral of this story is that I’ve come a long way from a lick and stick tattoo in my cracker jack box. I’m now finding 4 credit cards, $50 in cash and a Five Lakes Coffee Card in my Boom-Chicka! Growing up has its perks! Welcome to my adult world!

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Don't Sink

 Here's another article from my column in our hometown paper that was published in May. I hope this encourages you today...

Don't Sink


A sinkhole was discovered in the concrete parking lot of a local entity. The excavator who was called on to repair the hole was shocked at his findings. Digging 30 x 60 ft wide and some 9 ft down, it appeared the area may have been a burial ground for debris from the 1965 tornado. Amongst the treasures were an 8,000 lb. tree, a mangled bicycle, and a trailer hitch. Over 58 years, these items began to rot and shift, and air pockets were formed, causing the earth around them to give way, concrete and all.


A life lesson stared back at me as I stared into that big hole. Debris, buried and forgotten for 58 years, had caused considerable destruction. I imagine the farmer, who dug the hole, worked tirelessly to eliminate every reminder of that horrific day. Palm Sunday 1965 - when twin twisters ripped through our community, leaving a swath of death and destruction. He shoved the debris down into the earth and rebuilt his life.


I thought about past "storms" in my life and the destruction they've left behind. Have I buried that wreckage deep into my soul, thinking they will no longer harm me, only for them to be unearthed later? Or worse yet, do I occasionally go back to the hiding place and dig them up? The bitterness I haven't dealt with, people I haven't forgiven, unhealed wounds of broken relationships?


Can you relate? Do you have any past hurts that you've shoved down deep? The items in the sinkhole eventually wreaked havoc – will our hidden pain finally do the same in our lives? Well, I'm not a psychologist, but in my experience, anything that I have shoved down deep and not dealt with has eventually returned to haunt me. Why? Because instead of learning from it or getting rid of it, I have just stored it away in my heart for a while.


Sure, it's hard to not remember hard things that happen in life. The loss of a loved one, financial demise, beating cancer, and the list could go on. A friend once told me that she can forgive and forget but never forgets the lessons she learned from the experience. She doesn't want to. Those lessons are the fruit that has sprouted from the hurt we have planted. The lessons learned when cleaning up the debris from our personal storms is what propel us forward into a future filled with wisdom and hope.


When Israel became stuck between the past and the future, God revealed himself to them through Isaiah the prophet, giving them great hope. He says in Isaiah 43:10, "Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing, Now, it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland". 


This is a great word for me as I deal with the junk I have buried and refuse the lesson it speaks into my life. Dwelling on the former things doesn't do me (or you) any good. They may cause us to sink. Let our focus be on the hope that springs eternal from the solid foundation of Jesus Christ! He is doing a new thing!






Friday, December 30, 2022

Champions of the year


My friend coaches a youth soccer team. He instilled this fundamental principle into his group of young athletes, reiterating it often: "Champions focus on where they are going, not what they are going through."

Champion is a word that has never been associated with my name. I'm not an athlete unless you
consider sprints to the concession stand during extra innings, something notable. Don't let the word champion fool you, though. We are all champions of something. Champions for whom we believe in, for a cause, for the relationships we cherish, and some days, we may be the champion of laundry. Being a champion is to succeed.

This quote, stated so wisely by my friend, has resonated with me…big! I'm guilty of allowing my circumstances to take me down. Do you know what I have accomplished by staying in the pit, lamenting my situation, and wallowing in self-pity? NOTHING! Nadda! Zilch! Focusing on my circumstances gets a lot of mileage but gets me nowhere.

I don't know about you, but it takes up all my mental space when I'm going through the thick of something. It's my every waking thought; it determines the trajectory of my life at that time. Occasionally, I come to my senses and remember where my focus needs to be. And guess what? When I do this, inevitably, I have hope.

At a particularly rough time, I was commiserating with a friend. She said to me, "You're just in the waiting room. What are you going to do while you wait?" Huh? She added, "Girl, while you're waiting for answers, you gotta get busy!". She was right. I needed to focus on where I was going and actively pursue the mission in front of me. By doing so, I had purpose and perspective. My troubles didn't go away but focusing on my higher calling sustained me while I waited.

I'm reminded of the Mathew 14 account of Peter and Jesus walking on water. When Peter saw Jesus walking on the storm-tossed sea, he asked if he could come to him on the water. Jesus said, "Come." Peter did. However, the minute he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the storm around him, he began to sink. So, it is with us when we take our eyes off Jesus’ plan and concentrate on the storm brewing around us – we fall. 

Friday, November 4, 2022

A Hand-sized cloud filled with hope


A story in 1 Kings 18 of the good book will knock your socks off. The hero in this story is, of course, God, but his co-star is Elijah. I'll spare you all the details because reading it yourself is best.

Basically, Elijah gets into a showdown with the Prophets of Baal. He challenges them to a "burnt-offering" contest. The rules consisted of each team, The God Team and the Baal (false idol) Team, placing a bull on an altar and praying to their God to come and burn up the offerings. Not to spoil it for you, but as you can imagine, the Baal team dances and calls out to their God all day. The dead bull lay there patiently waiting for his cremation. Never happened.

When it is Elijah’s turn, he puts the bull on the altar and digs a trench around it. He fills it with water and douses the whole thing until it's soaking. He calls out to the one true God who wastes no time proving to the crowd who is Boss! He sent an all-consuming fire from heaven that was so great it even licked up the water. Many were brought to their knees to worship the one true God that day.

Now many of you may know this story. I had read it or heard it many times. But just as God does, when we open His word, he reveals something new that hits all the right feels at the right moment.

The rest of the story is what got my attention. After this, Elijah told King Ahab (one of the meanest hombres to walk the dusty trails of the Holy land) to prepare his crew because heavy rain was coming. With no clouds in the sky, Elijah climbs to the top of Mt. Carmel with his servant. He bent down to the ground, put his face between his knees, and began praying for rain. Six times Elijah sent his servant to the edge to look out toward the sea to see if there was any sign of rain. Finally, returning from his seventh trip to the edge, his servant reported seeing a cloud as small as a man's hand rising from the sea.

Elijah doesn't get up and go to the edge to see if his servant is telling the truth. He doesn't dismiss such a small cloud and starts praying for a more considerable cloud or drizzle. Nope, that tiny hand-sized cloud gave Elijah enough hope to trust that God was fixin’ to do something big. He then sent his servant to tell that evil, mean-spirited ol' Ahab to hitch up and head out 'cause a storm is a-brewin’!

Meanwhile, God puts on another show. The sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, and heavy rain came as Ahab's taillights diminished on the road to Jezreel.

I know enough miracles are happening in these stories to leave you on the edge of your seat. I don’t want to dismiss God’s mighty works here, but the real plot twist for me is that little hand-sized cloud and the big hope it gave Elijah.

Friend, how many times have you prayed fervently for something? How often, like Elijah, have you taken on a posture of prayer, pleading for a miracle and waiting expectantly for it to happen? I've got a list a mile long. But the real question is this; How many times has God given you a glimmer of hope only for you to doubt it’s happening? How many times does God give you a hand-sized cloud, and you sit crouched over, praying for a bigger cloud of assurance? Oh, friend, I am relentlessly guilty of this! "I see the hand cloud of hope you've given me, God, but what if…?"

Ditch the doubt, folks, and jump up as Elijah did and trust God will do something significant with that tad bit of hope. Cling to every tiny glimpse of promise He shows you, and don't look back. Run with it as Elijah did. Literally! The scripture goes on to tell us that after Elijah told Ahab to get the heck out of Dodge City, the power of the Lord came upon him; he rolled up his pant legs (or tucked his cloak into his belt, in this case) and ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel. This assurance in God’s plan empowered Elijah to do something seemingly impossible. So can we do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13).

Elijah looked on that small cloud with complete confidence in God that he would bring the rain – GOD WOULD DO THE BIG THING ELIJAH WAS PRAYING FOR! And he ran with it – never looking back!

And He will do it for you also, friend! Pray…trust…wait expectantly! He’s got big things on the horizon for you!



Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Choosey Tuesday


Choose-y Tuesday

Over the past month, I've been battling our new Insurance company because we've never received our ID cards. I made 9 phone calls and wrote a letter to the company president. After all that, a few words that a Christian woman shouldn't say, and relentless persistence, I finally got a paper copy of our ID card. I laminated three paper copies, distributed them to my family members, gave a sigh of relief, and chose to get on with my life.

That was last week. This week I’ve been looking all over the house for my Columbia jacket. I even looked in my trunk, my husband's vehicle, and workplace. Finally, determined that I must have left it somewhere, I got online and ordered myself another one. I really loved that jacket, so I chose one like it.

This morning we awoke to a cold house. My husband messed with the thermostat for a bit, but nothing happened. No heat. I couldn't warm up with a cup of coffee because I was fasting for an early morning lab draw. Wrapped in a blanket and drinking water, I decided to check my email and see what was new in the world of Facebook. No Wi-Fi! I chose to work on my bible study instead.

I left the house at 6:50 a.m. I couldn’t exit my subdivision because it was blocked by construction. I chose another route. Since it was dark, I decided to use Hwy 20, a main road. I waited a while in one-lane traffic due to road work. I chose another route. I was still making good time on my commute until I got to a county road that was closed due to…. you guessed it…construction. I chose another route.

At last, I made it to the doctor's office. I gave the gal at the desk my new handmade ID card, and she gave me some papers to fill out. Before I was done filling them out, the nurse called me back for the poke. On the way out, I handed the receptionist my paperwork and headed out, eager to take off the mask I had to wear. Some people were outside the office setting up cones and preparing for some construction on the sidewalk. I chose another route to my car.

In desperate need of coffee, at this point, I made my way to Mcdonald's. I decided to dine in to eat breakfast and catch up on my email, etc., since my Wi-Fi didn't work at home. The lobby doors were locked. I chose another restaurant. 

Seeing that my gas tank was low, I decided to get gas. At an intersection with 2 gas stations, I noted that the gas was $4.29 a gallon at both places! Wow, how can this be?! I chose to go elsewhere. I made a right at the next light and headed toward home, thinking the gas might be cheaper along the way. The road was closed. I chose another route. The route I chose was a one-way road in which I met a car coming the wrong way. In my effort to back out of the one-way street, I almost backed into an oncoming vehicle. Close call. Once again, I chose another route.

On this route, I found a gas station that advertised $3.99 for gas. "Aha, I knew it," I said knowingly. I pulled up to the pump to discover it was out of order. Once I pulled up to the next pump, the price changed to $4.29, just like that! Seriously?? I looked upward to see if a pigeon was waiting to take a dump on my head because that should naturally be the next thing to happen.

Sure that the whole world was going to  "h-e-double-hockey sticks" in a hand basket, I stopped by the Amish grocery store and loaded up on canned goods. I'll break it to Sparky later that we're never leaving the house again and will eat of my surplus until Jesus comes.

As cans of Cream of Chicken soup and beans crossed the belt, I dug in my wallet for my debit card. It was then I noticed my insurance card was missing! *@#$!! I didn't get the stinkin’ card back from the receptionist at the doctor’s office! I'll never get back three weeks of my life trying to get that dang card, and I left the sucker at the doctor's office.

A kind bagboy helped me out to my car with my purchases. Probably noting the perplexity on my face, he tried to make small talk. All I could think about was how stupid I was for leaving my card. I opened the back door of my car and proceeded to move some things out of the seat to the floorboard so he'd have space to put the bags. There wasn’t much room on the floorboard because MY JACKET was taking up that space!

I returned home with no insurance card, but I had my jacket….and a plethora of canned goods. I stepped in dog pee. It’s only 10 a.m. I still choose JOY – how about you?



Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Victim or Victor


Here's another one of my Heart and Soul articles I posted to our Hometown Paper in June!
 Victim or Victor? What's your choice!

My friend, Carol, was diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis was grim. Carol faced the hard truth that she most likely wouldn't experience retirement vacations or meet her grandchildren. Upon her first chemo treatment, Carol looked around the room at all the hurting people, and she silently prayed for them. It didn't matter to her that they were all in the same boat. Carol prayed for their rescue.

This practice of praying for those in the chemo room soon became like breathing to Carol. She grew pale, thin, and sicker. But she found joy in visiting the chemo lab all the same. It was her mission to bless those that shared the space with her. With a sweet smile, a kind word, a shared scripture, or a prayer breathed over them; Carol decided not to fall victim to cancer. She chose to be victorious.

As cancer took its toll on her body, Carol blessed those who held a bedside vigil around her. Some may say that she was a victim of cancer, but to those who knew her, she was a victor in every right. While cancer was taking her life, she continued to claim victory by blessing those around her.

Carol didn't allow her circumstances to suck the life out of her. Instead, Carol chose to squeeze every ounce of life out of her remaining days. This was characteristic of Carol, throughout her life. She always seemed to find the good amongst the difficult. She was a shining example to me. I can’t say that my approach would be the same. Triumphing over my circumstances is not my strong suit.  

Life seems unfair sometimes. Expectations get dashed. Hopes and dreams often fail. Our first instinct may be to throw a tantrum like a toddler who didn't get his way in the candy aisle. We may grow bitter and depressed. We may even feel like giving up. I speak from experience. I have been that toddler (as an adult)!

Thinking of Carol and her approach to remain victorious in the greatest fight of her life, causes me to ponder how I approach my own battles. What if I chose to use the energy it takes to feel all those wretched emotions and use it to focus on how I can be triumphant over the situation, instead? What if I looked deep within myself to see how I can successfully turn sour into sweet by making lemonade out of the "lemons" handed to me?

Allow me to visit the hundred-acre wood for a moment and use Winnie the Pooh and his friends as an example. Eeyore said, "Woe is me," a lot. Eeyore was a victim of everything. No matter what happened to that sad little donkey, he saw it as one more exhausting hurdle he'd have to jump. Pooh, on the other hand, saw everything as an adventure. He met life's circumstances with excitement and wonderment. If the honey pot ran low, he sought the thrill of licking the sweetness from the bottom instead of lamenting that he'd soon be without it. Eeyore licked his wounds. . . Pooh licked the honey!

How about you? Are you crying over the looming crisis or savoring the sweetness of the moment? How much time of the day is your focus on the things you cannot change compared to focusing your thoughts on what you can control?

Perhaps the real question is: With whom would you and I rather spend the day? Whom would you and I rather be to our friends?

Victim or Victor? The choice is yours!