Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I have dreams. All kinds of dreams.

Sometimes my dreams are ethereal.  Sometimes they are too real.

Often my dreams are easily forgotten in the light of day.

And then there are dreams from which I don't want to awake.

I also have God-sized dreams, as Holley Gerth calls them.

This was to be my summer of dreams accomplished.  Someone else had other ideas, and those dreams didn't happen.  Someone else is my God.  He has taken me to a place called Patience.  The road hasn't been paved with gold or diamonds.  The surface I've traveled has been filled with potholes and bumps.  I haven't been a happy camper all along this road, battling surgery, pain, other unexpected health issues.

Then last night I was on Facebook for the first time in several days.  I'd been thinking of a young friend in her 30s whom I hadn't heard from in a while.  A couple of years ago she and her husband and now 5-year old daughter moved to The Netherlands to be closer to her husband's parents.  It was for only three years and after the initial shock, my friend accepted it was what God wanted them to do and off they went.  We shed tears of sorrow and joy, and we laughed about memories and times we'd laughed before, and we wished them well.  After all they'd be back in a few years.  We could email, see each other on Facebook, she'd come home for visits.

Finally last night, a post from my friend on Facebook!  No, wait -- it's from her husband.  He's telling us that my friend died suddenly on Sunday.  The tears flowed down my face.  She was just in her 30s, she had a full life ahead, she had this beautiful marriage, and she had this amazingly beautiful little girl to raise.  No details were given.  Just the facts -- she is gone.  I've asked God why her dreams won't come to fruition, and He has told me that He "had other plans."

I think I won't complain any more about the summer I feel I've lost.  I've lost a treasure far more precious than a few weeks or months.  A young, faith-filled spirit who always made me smile is gone.  Her memory will live on forever in my heart and when I think of her, I will think of Patience, a virtue I am learning slowly but can so clearly see now that God has chosen my friend as the next angel in the Heavens.  A perfect angel.

Dreams are to be dreamed. 

If remembered, dreams are beautiful or they can be frightening.

Dreams can't be relied on to come true.

Because often God has other plans.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Under Reconstruction and On the Way Back

Since late February, I feel as though I've literally been "under reconstruction."  Between surgeries, injuries, and other inherent problems, I've been out of commission and for a good portion of the time "typeless" (if there is such a word) and unable to blog.  I should have posted a note before my absence, but life got in the way.

However, I feel certain I'm on the way back to wholeness, thanks to God's grace and healing.  And I'm ready to get back to blogging and working on my writing projects.  I hope in the next few days and weeks to share some lessons learned recently, and I hope that by sharing them with you they might enrich your lives.

Until then, I pray God's blessings on each of you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

His Amazing Grace

Recently my MOPS group ( leader asked me to speak on grace, which just happens to be the name of my MOPS table this year.  I received such a good response to my short talk I've decided to share it with you here:


I enjoy each of the table names our MOPS group has been using the last couple of years, but especially the name "grace."  That isn't just because it's the name of the table I mentor, but because I have a long history with the word "grace."

As a young pupil of piano and music, I learned early on about grace notes.  As I grew older, I began to learn grace could be a favor, consideration, reprieve, or even a pleasing effect in a dance movement or an artistic work.  Grace brings to mind fluid movement and gentleness.

My favorite definition of grace, however, is a theological one -- the gift of God's unmerited favor.  2 Cor. 12:9, as found in The Message, tells us:  "My grace is enough; it's all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness."  His grace is all I need, or you need, no matter the circumstances or situation.  David Reagan, pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN, says he likes to call this "God's enoughness."  I like the sound of that too.

In my life, I have experienced God's enoughness.  As children, my two brothers and I experienced abuse, verbal and emotional, at the hands of our mother.  Upon reflection, I truly don't believe she knew exactly what she was doing and how wrong it was.  It took adulthood and specific circumstances for me to realize why she did what she did to each one of us.  Nothing really erases the memories of those painful and hurtful experiences, but I have been given in abundance a way to put my arms around it.

During the year I turned 54, my mom's health began to fail to the extent she eventually needed to live with one of my brothers, both of whom live in TN near where mom was residing.  The younger brother was in the middle of a divorce, so the older brother stepped in and moved mom into his home.  I knew from the beginning this would be volatile but I didn't count on what came next.

My husband and I returned from a Labor Day weekend trip to pick up a voicemail from my brother stating, "You'd probably like to know what I did with your mother."  The answer to my question when I called was that he signed her into a nursing home.  This had been done without power of attorney on his part (I had that) and by signing over her Social Security payments.  To keep my story short, I can tell you that I had to make a decision to move this woman whom I loved because she was my mother and whom I did not like as a person.  I had to extract her from an abusive situation and bring her home with me to Oregon.  At first, I couldn't understand why God would ask this of me, so I prayed for answers.

The answers came through discussions with my doctor, a Christian woman, who asked me about my mom's childhood.  It was easy to sum up -- highly dysfunctional.  Mom had been taken out of school at age 11 to care for two younger siblings.  Fear became the tool she most often used to control them.  What else is a child to do?  And then when she grew up and became a mother, her toolbox contained fear, sarcasm, temper, anger, rage.  All the things she'd grown up using. My heart suddenly expanded with a love I'd never experienced before.

This enormous expansion in my heart and the fact that in my care my mom was a different person, accepting less than perfect circumstances and accepting of my abilities to care for her, was purely a gift of grace from God.  Yes, a grace moment like a grace note in music can bridge a vast divide, and it did so for us.  Mom died 10 months after we moved her, and for the first time in my life I actually began to miss her.  I wanted more time with the woman who came to Oregon and the woman I had cared for.  How different life would have been, but I was blessed to know her as kind and loving for a short period of time.

"My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness."
2 Cor. 12:9 (The Message)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mentoring Isn't Always Easy

The church we attend chartered a Mothers of Preschoolers chapter about six or seven years ago.  The chapter began with eight moms and has grown to 50 plus moms and 60 plus preschoolers ranging in age from infants to 4 years.  In addition, two additional groups have begun meeting under the auspices of MomsNEXT, a group founded by MOPS for those moms who have "graduated" from being a mother of preschooler(s) to having children in school. 

Each of these three groups has one or more Mentor Moms.  This is loosely defined as a woman of faith, who has children and/or grandchildren, who has been there, done that,  and who fits the bill as a wiser, older woman, or a WOW.  I am one of those Mentor Moms for the preschoolers group.  I mentor 8 moms of preschoolers this year, and sometimes it isn't easy.  You find that you don't know how to answer a specific question, especially if it applies to today in an area that didn't exist when you were a mom raising children, or relates to an opportunity that a mom has that would have never come your way in the day.  This happened just this past Friday morning.

One of my moms is an audiologist for newborns.  Because she is a mother, she looked for and found a hospital willing to hire her as a part-time employee so she could be with her girls in the afternoon after school.  The hospital has an affiliation with a non-profit service organization that travels internationally teaching doctors, nurses and others about audiology needs and services.  This young mother has been invited to go to a country in Asia, into the jungle where there are villages in need of this specific educational offer.  She would be teaching others how to look for and be aware of an infant's audiological needs and how to provide them.

Her question came to the table unexpectedly on Friday.  There were  four other moms and me present, and when she asked her question, there was resounding positive feedback immediately.  No question about it -- she shouldn't miss this opportunity.  She shared that her husband is very supportive.  However, she is hesitant to be gone for a month, away from her girls, in a rather remote location.  I completely understood her concerns.  Yet, this opportunity may never come her way again.  I applauded her young peers for being so supportive and encouraging.  I held back, as a good mentor will do, and let them finish their discussion.  I then suggested that she seek counsel from our pastor, who is a mother and who has traveled to the same area.

Today I felt affirmed by God when I saw our pastor and this young woman in conversation.  The mom raised her hand and motioned me over.  She then told the pastor that I had suggested she talk with her, and she told me that my advice had been good for her.  Here was a person who had traveled extensively even when she had small children.  Our pastor could talk with her on a level I couldn't.

It is often necessary and best to seek wise and good counsel from someone else before giving advice that goes beyond your life experience. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Catching Up!

Time is so elusive . . . especially between the holidays and seasons of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.   How does it slip away?  Family feasts and gatherings, Christmas pageants and children rehearsing, more getting together to share the specialness of Christmas, and there it is, the New Year. 

As you can see by the date on this blog and the last one, several days have slipped by in the hustle and bustle of the seasons.  Not to mention the sudden invasion of some kind of bug into my head and throat sending me to bed for a few days.  But I came across some verses today that really resounded with me regarding healing.  I want to share them with you.

2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
   and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
   and crowns you with love and compassion.
Psalm 103:2-4 NIV

I spent a great deal of time fretting during my short illness over the things I could not accomplish nor get done.  Not once did I ponder the "benefits" of the Lord.  Oh, I know how beneficial my relationship is with Him, but how often do I actually take the time to consider all the benefits He provides each one of us.  Rarely, do we take the time to "taste and see that the Lord is good."  These verses from Psalm 103 opened my eyes and heart to the glorious nature of our relationship with our Lord -- the forgiveness of our sins, the healing of our bodies and minds, and above all, the redemption that only He can render with unconditional love and compassion. 

Won't you consider this benefit package from on high?  Perhaps you've been looking for a relationship with benefits . . . look no further!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Between Christmas and New Year's

The week between Christmas and New Year's is not only a time for looking forward but for looking back.  Since Christmas Day, I've had some time to sit down and knit and try to progress on a couple of projects.  I began reflecting on my early days of knitting, a time when someone special took the time to teach me.  It was my sister-in-law, Ann.  Ann was married to my older brother, and they had between them seven children.  Ann was busy . . . every day she was busy.  Somehow she found the time to spend with an 18-year old girl to teach her how to knit.

I remember watching Ann knit and carry on conversations, watch TV, do a
lot of mental multi-tasking, and she never dropped a stitch that I recall.  I was absolutely amazed at her ability to do this.  I wanted to be like Ann in so many ways, but most of all to be filled with the same kind of spirit that filled her -- God's spirit, the Holy Spirit, Jesus love. 

As I've been knitting lately, I've reflected on Ann's life and the end of her life quite a few years ago.  Ann was diagnosed at age 56 with Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS, and eventually the disease took her ability to do so much with her hands . . . not only knitting, but play the piano, the organ, cook, clean, her accounting work.  And the disease took the use of every part of her except her mind.  It was a horrid disease, and early on Ann would say she could tell which muscle was dying.

The one thing the disease couldn't and didn't take from Ann was that spirit of living in God's spirit, sharing Jesus' amazing love, and showing the Holy Spirit shining through her with an incredibly dazzling smile.  I knit now and know that I was left not only with a skill that I love to use to share God's love by knitting charity caps for school-aged children in our area, but with the memory of Ann, all of her, shared with me because she was filled with that special gift of spirit.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that
you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)