We’ve Seen it All; All 50, and…..

…it turned out more like watching a no hitter baseball game. You know…the game is rather boring, nothing exciting is happening (because.there.are.no.hits.) when all of a sudden people start standing at the end of the 7th inning, the excitement and momentum starts building and there’s no way that pitcher is coming out of the game to turn the game over to the relief pitcher. No, he’s in it to win it and the entire ballpark is now on their feet waiting and watching in anticipation for him to make history, a new record, and pitch that no hitter!

It wasn’t on our bucket list. In fact, we don’t have a bucket list, but as we checked off the states we’d visited on a map we were keeping, and saw how few were left to explore, excitement and momentum began to grow with great anticipation! So, these two type “A” personalities set out to complete our last few states (read through to the end for our last states-but take some guesses what they were!)

Could we really check off and accomplish exploring all 50 states? Could we really do it? What will we find in the remaining uncharted territory? When we came into home plate as we landed in that 50th state, would it be as exciting as that no hitter?

We are the land of the free and the home of the brave, and have learned in all our travels that what it takes to be brave is often seen in our military and in the people who work to make this country what it is: our politicians from the top down, the workers in little and big communities, little families struggling to make ends meet and wealthy people whom we often found to be the most generous. It’s made us appreciate those who’ve fought to keep our country free, and frustrated when others fight instead of talk and legislate. We’ve met people who very much want to be a part of the solutions and are doing so while not trying to be more of the problems. There is such diversity in the United States of America, and a true “melting pot” it is! It’s as diverse in culture as it is in landscape; as different in the colors of our skin, race, ethnicity and creed as in the many regional differences of food, flavor, festivities, and celebrations. There are valleys and vistas and triumphs and failures in this country. Planning a trip to Disney World will be fun and enjoyable, but you’ll be missing the real true culture and real true people when you go to their hometowns. Nowhere did we visit that there was any restriction on who could visit-it was all-inclusive. Handicapped accessible, too! Venture out. We hope you’ll get to meet some of these people we’ve met when you get to enjoy your own travels. We have observed and learned so much.

While as kids, our travels took us to homes of family members, or to Florida for spring vacation; our first recollection is not having seat belts for those long drives! No infant or child safety seats; mom got to hold the little one the whole time! I remember sleeping on the floor for the full 24-hour drive south, and sleeping just fine when our heads hit our hotel pillows. Dad always found a nice place to stay; but who would have known, as long as it had a pool! A trend we carried into our family life:

As we had our own family, certain family limitations (a child with special needs) kept us in our own state of Ohio for those young years seeing all the state parks, zoos, museums, landmarks, etc. and as they grew, so did the excitement to see many states and check off their own map of our country. While we didn’t see all 50 states with the family, we got them off to a good start to continue it with theirs!

HISTORY BUFF:

Our country is so rich in history, not like Europe, but just right for each of us who live in this country! We’ve walked battlefields, observed great historical statues commemorating those battles, and driven lands inhabited by our forefathers. One doesn’t have to be a history buff to learn how our country came to be and the heritage we all share.

(Tops on our list include our trip from Cleveland, to Gettysburg, up the coast of the eastern states to Maine, and home through New Hampshire and New York. We stumbled upon a large Bed and Breakfast that was so pleasant we stayed two nights instead of one; arriving for a late dinner and fire-pit ended our day in a lovely way; awaking to a glorious lake and learning to skeet shoot as well as learn about Norman Rockwell nearby were two highlights. A great place to stumble!)

LIBRARIES:

Tours of presidential libraries (of both parties) are impressive in not only the design of each building, but also the documentation of all that was accomplished under that presidency. So much we don’t know that these places teach us.

(Tops on our list so far were Lyndon Johnson, and both the Bushes: treasures in our country keeping history alive. We also the Clinton library but were surprised to see one big piece of history totally ignored.)

MUSEUMS:

From amazing Civil Rights Museums that have educated us like nothing else could, to art museums that culture us in ways we are not skilled, to history and science museums that show us the intelligence of others who’ve paved the way of discovery in this country. We should be so proud of this country!

(Tops on our lists have been several Civil Rights Museums: Alabama and Atlanta were tops. Art Museums: The Georgia O’Keeffee Museum in Santa Fe, NM had her lovely landscapes and flowers that were easy to enjoy and some really abstract works that were interesting!)

SCENERY and BOTANICAL GARDENS:

There is so much to see, experience, and enjoy. Seeing cities and country, National parks, each coast, and all the land in between, we could never choose one top viewpoint, but we’ll share our top memories after you read the best way to tell the story of the landscape in the song America the Beautiful. Google search your favorite artist and listen to them sing:

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL by Katherine Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above thy fruited plain

America, America
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness

America, America
God mend thine every flaw
Confirm thy soul in self control
Thy liberty in law

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life

America, America
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears

America, America
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea

(Tops for us: Alaska…flying over the miles and miles of the black mountains with pure white snowcaps. A special excursion prop plane flight from Talkeetna to Mt. Denali gave us views of glaciers that were the most incredible pure translucent turquoise blue we’ve ever seen. Landing on the top of Mt. Denali on a glacier-a base camp for climbers-gave us the most pure experience of dead silence except for our own voices. The 25-year old gal who took care of this base camp was impressive! It was expensive but priceless; and a once in a lifetime experience. Hawaii: A mountaintop sunrise at the top of Mt. Haleakala was like watching a fast motion movie of the sun greeting us all while freezing high on the mountaintop. It was truly extravagant! National Parks: through Wyoming, Utah, South and North Dakota, and much more; camping in the Grand Tetons in our rented van when no rooms could be found in Jackson Hole were such highlights. Our little camping rental site was our room as we “layered on clothing” to keep warm in the night time air in the 30’s as Joe continued to warm up the van from time to time while the three of us (us and our son Joey) snuggled the best we could. It was the darkest night we’d even seen. Arizona: Some call The Grand Canyon a ‘big hole’, but we challenge them to actually see it! While being fearful of heights –that happened somewhere else in AZ-I was happy to view it from the top and not hike it! Atlanta, GA: The 1994 Olympics were….amazing! Favorite Cities: Washington DC, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, New Orleansand in the end…while it’s been an amazing trip around this grand country, and while our last states were Wisconsin for Joe and Oklahoma for Cindi, we can clearly say our favorite place is:

Cleveland, Ohio!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Little Italy

Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra

Cleveland Indians, Browns, Cavaliers

Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes

And the list goes on and on!

(and the Columbus OSU Buckeyes)

We challenged you to get a map, check off your travels, and if you happen through Ohio, we’ll show you around….because for us:

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!

Are you a Work HORSE or a Work FORCE?

Honestly, if I hear one more time how hard it is to have “kids” home with this quarantine, I might scream. For two reasons:

1-It is hard to have kids home all the time and with no break (and trying to work from home, too), and I’d want to scream at times! And let me add, I have at times, and I have a grown 38 year-old still at home (special needs=24/7 care)!
2-It’s the perfect time to teach the children something that could make your life a whole lot easier if you just took the time. And that scream would be one of rejoicing that they learned a new skill that you could then take off your plate!

Which one are you doing? Are you screaming because you are the WORK HORSE in your home? Doing all the work, getting little thanks or appreciation and going to bed so exhausted you’re actually feeling dizzy, and then waking up in the morning and doing it all over again? Or are you in charge of the WORK FORCE available in your home by getting the kids ready for their day with some work for them to do that will help lighten your load?

It takes a little time, but the results far outweigh the work and effort it takes as a parent at the front end of things. Here is how it works.

FIND OUT WHAT MOTIVATES each child. Ideas:

  • Going to youth group.
  • Playing in their band with other kids.
  • Hanging out with their friends.
  • Playing video games.
  • Screen time.
  • Watching a movie.
  • Playing in the back yard.
  • Jumping on the trampoline.
  • Making a fort in the back yard.
  • Watching Netflix.
  • Playing a sport (going to practice is included.)
  • Sleeping in.
  • _________your idea!

They don’t “get” whatever it is that motivates them until their chores and helping is done. If you, as the parent, miss this point, the rest of what I’m to write doesn’t and won’t matter. This is the “allowance” you will give or not depending on whether the child finishes what is expected of them. You don’t let them get what they want if you don’t get what you want.

Write up a list of things in your home that you see needs to be done and can be done by your work force:

  • Dust the house.
  • Swiffer the floors.
  • Mop or Swiffer the floors.
  • Collect the laundry from each room.
  • Throw in the laundry.
  • Dry the clothes.
  • Fold the clothes.
  • Deliver clean clothing to each room and that person puts away.
  • Help put the groceries away.
  • Get out beverages for each family member (or get their own) at mealtime.
  • Bring dirty plates to the sink.
  • Load the dishwasher.
  • Run the dishwasher.
  • Put the dishes away.
  • Make beds.
  • Add your own_____:

Below is a list of what a child should be able to do at certain ages. (If the child has special needs, they may not be able to do age appropriate helping but look for ways they can help within their own abilities.)

Age 3: Learn sorting, organization, and following instructions by:

  • Setting the table with silverware
  • Folding face towels and small rags
  • Putting silverware away from the dishwasher
  • Putting away toys
  • Always showing and teaching through each age and stage how to serve and care for others (preparing meals for others, helping the elderly, loving others well)

Age 4: Learn a sense of belonging and responsibility to self and others:

  • Empty small wastebaskets
  • Dress self
  • Pick up toys and put away
  • Help mix things when cooking
  • Fold towels
  • Replenish toilet paper rolls and tissue boxes

Age 5-10: Learn the value of money, greater independence, and goal setting by:

  • Earning money for chores or be given allowance
  • Match and fold socks, towels, etc. and put away
  • Help younger siblings with learning their roles
  • Care for family pets
  • Take out garbage
  • Help with recycling
  • Make lunches
  • Dust furniture
  • Basic cooking help (measuring, mixing, tasting)
  • Scheduling school projects and working on them

Age 10-15: Learn the value and ways of working together, caring for a home, and following through with assignments by:

  • Helping grocery shop
  • Helping plant a garden and tend it
  • Vacuum
  • Clean floors (Swiffer, scrub, etc.)
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Reading recipes, cooking full meals, measuring, etc.
  • Begin to observe the paying of bills
  • Seeing school projects to completion on their own
  • Making plans with family and friends and following through

Age 15 -18: Learn further details of reading, measuring for recipes, organizing, prioritizing, paying bills on time, balancing accounts, account transfers, insurance etc. by:

  • Do all laundry (sorting, washing, drying, folding, putting away)
  • Paying of all bills
  • How to handle credit cards
  • Getting a drivers license
  • Running errands (planning to completion)
  • Making lists to organize one’s day
  • Balancing checking and bank accounts
  • Learning about saving money
  • Learn about making investments
  • Learn about insurance
  • Discuss roles we have as a roommate and someday a spouse!
  • How to interview for a job (what to wear, how to speak, etc.)

Our goals as a parent is to prepare our child(ren) to leave our nest for college or career at age 18 on their own. That doesn’t mean they can’t come home for summer or a season until they can be on their own, but if they aren’t prepared, it will be a lot of back peddling before they’ll get back on track.

The idea is consistency in having them perform their chores and tasks (on their part) and following through in giving them what motivates them (on your part.) And if we do/did this right, at age 18 when they leave home for school or career, they are prepared to be on their own, and you have also benefited from having their help all while teaching them to be responsible grown ups not expecting you to do it all for them.

It’s a conversation and a dance that has a nice and happy ending if you do it. You just can’t quit swimming mid-stream and say it didn’t work for you!

 

 

Book suggestions and resources:

Balancing the Active Life by Cindi Ferrini- the above list from page 217 has been added to by the author for the purposes of this blog and can be ordered here:

https://cindiferrini.com/index.php/books-and-resources-order-page/

 

Adulting 101 by Josh Burnette and Pete Hardesty can be ordered here:

https://shop.familylife.com/p-5510-adulting-101.aspx

 

The Ferrini’s newest book Love ALL-Ways: Embracing Marriage Together on the Special Needs Journey is now available here:

https://cindiferrini.com/

My Mom’s Great Depression and My Pandemic Pantry Plan

“Some days we would have one egg or one potato for the day,” my Mom would tell me. Those words still ring in my ears when I realize the abundance we have. Both my parents grew up in the Great Depression as little children and recalled to us how little they often had to eat. I can’t imagine how Dad went from relative to relative in boarding house accommodations with his sister because their mom had died, and Dad was working or “out.” Dinner on the table was served first to the family, and if there was something left, Dad and his sister were served. I can’t even imagine that mentality, but it happened.

When my children were little I remember times our girls didn’t like what I was serving, and would have 3-4 potatoes just for dinner. I can’t even comprehend just giving them one, or having someone in my home and having them wait until my family ate first before serving them. (Joe recalls this happening to him while sharing a meal with a family in Latvia. He asked why the children weren’t eating and later the family said, “You are the guest, you eat first and then the children will eat what is left.” He had no idea and felt horrible to learn that. It made a difference how he approached the next meal table.)

Bringing this full circle to today, a friend has an elderly relative who was having a hard time figuring out what to cook, her pantry was disheveled, and family was thinking she might even be at the start of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Those 3 reasons were making it hard for her to eat properly and a concern for the family. And now we face the continuing pandemic and have a sense of frustration, lack of food and/or creativity to prepare it, and asking:

Do I have to cook again?

Where is everything? The pantry I just reorganized is already a mess.

What will I cook?

Why can’t I be creative?

I’m tired of this and need a break.

My friend asked for some “organizational” suggestions that would make this chore easier for her relative. I was delighted to use my educational background, the things I taught as a teacher in my Home Economics classes many years ago that still apply, that which I taught in my organizational seminars given around the country, and my own love for order! I further thought others might benefit if they’re feeling this way.

My Pandemic Pantry Plan (is very easy!)

Most of us have cleaned every nook and cranny of our homes in the over 2 months of quarantine we’ve had. But in case you haven’t, here is the way to order your pantry and be ready to be cooking creatively.

Empty the panty.

Dispose of expired goods.

Restock and organize the pantry in this way:

TOP LEVEL (highest shelves) area is for things you use least:

  • Pasta maker, waffle maker, and the like
  • Paper products (cups, plates, napkins)
  • Seasonal products (baskets for summer, etc.)

EYE LEVEL (shelves easiest to see and reach)

  • One area or shelf: (carbs) pasta, rice, quinoa, legumes, potatoes
  • One area or shelf: all your canned vegetable goods (beans, etc.)
  • One area or shelf: all your canned meats (tuna, chicken, etc.)
  • One area or shelf: other foods to use “as is” like soups

LOWER LEVEL (shelf or on the flooring area under the shelves):

  • Plastic containers (all sizes) with lids to store extra food items
  • Other less used items: coffee pots, mixer, etc.

DOOR SHELVING:

  • Herbs, spices
  • Seasonings
  • Baking goods

If you have a good stock of the items I’ve listed for you at “EYE LEVEL” when you’re tired of your usual meals, need a change, are lacking creativity….I have the answer for you:

Make a CRAZY CASSEROLE:

Choose:

  • one of your carbs
  • one of your veggies
  • and one of your meats

Prepare the carb according to directions, lightly add oil to the bottom of a 9X13 glass-cooking dish, and empty the prepared (cooked) carb into the dish. Next empty the veggie and meat and mix together. If it looks too sparse, add another veggie or meat and then add about a teaspoon or two of a randomly chosen herb or spice from your door shelf and mix up again. To be sure it’s not too dry of a dish after it’s cooked, add butter on top, or a sauce like spaghetti sauce (or make a cheese sauce), or a can of soup that compliments the other foods (add and mix).

BE CREATIVE. Take notes on what you added because it might become a favorite and you’ll want to remember it! (Bake it uncovered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Done.)

On another note: If you’re not sure when you’ll next be able to shop, use your groceries in this order so you don’t have to throw good food away:

FRESH

FROZEN

CANNED

In the scenario above, if you have fresh veggies and/or fresh meat, use those first (cooking them before putting it in with the carb). This way you will use what will spoil first-first. And canned lasts the longest, so you can be sure to have something on the shelf if you run out of fresh and frozen.

My friend encouraged me with a call to say that this easy presentation of keeping foods together in the pantry made it easy for her relative to cook. Take some chances and have fun from your own pantry.

As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day I am thankful for my Mom’s example of her childhood, and how she served herself last when she had her own kitchen from which to serve. My memory of her great example out of the Great Depression serves me well today. It’s helped me be resourceful with whatever I have in my pantry, and it’s helped me for years. It would be encouraging to know it helped you, too!

Happy Mother’s Day. Bless your Mom…

Where Has This Time of Quarantine Hit YOU the Hardest?

Dear Diary, Dear Journal,

Dear “Does Anyone Hear Me?”

Are YOU ASKING Where COVID19 Has Hit YOU the Hardest? I am asking that for myself!

(This is the longest blog I’ve ever written, and there is a great place to opt out-you’ll see it; but WHY? We have all this time…read on, be encouraged, and then let’s get moving!)

We were recently asked in a radio interview:

“How has social distancing and the quarantine IMPACTED you?”

While we were ready to answer, it also took us on a little journey to a deeper place that really impacted us….a lot! Let’s get started:

 Joe-

At the core, I would say not much has changed. Because we were retired 9 months before the pandemic, we were already engaged in quite a bit of change. Negatively, we had 5 speaking engagements cancelled right out of the gate, but we tried very hard to look at this as a temporary thing, knowing these events can and will be rescheduled. We are most sad for those who’ve had graduations, proms, weddings, and even funeral memorials not happening. Those life events that can’t be rescheduled in the same way a regular event can be. But we continue on and are still doing things; they just look a little different:

  • Discipleship Meetings = ZOOM
  • Ministry Calls = ZOOM
  • Talk with Family = ZOOM (NEED TO SEE and HUG them, soon!)
  • Talks with some Friends = ZOOM or FaceTime
  • Church/messages with our kids = ZOOM
  • Less spent on gas = BOOM!
  • More time together = BOOM!

AND….

  • Our new book LOVE ALL-Ways interviews did get recorded thanks to MOODY programs: Janet Parshall and Chris Brooks. FAMILYLIFE’S interview, which was our last travel interview, will air in summer (June 15th-16th) and several podcast interviews: yep, ZOOM!

(Cindi, do we have stock in ZOOM?)

Cindi-

Ditto to what Joe said, and we need to make a call about ZOOM! In addition, having a son with special needs has had us in a semi-quarantined state for now 38 years. He can travel and such, but doesn’t prefer to, likes being indoors, and thus our choices of where and when we’ll go places is limited and our life is pretty centered around home and the quietness of it. We must remain extremely mindful of staying calm and steady for our son Joey (special needs; age 38) who doesn’t understand what is happening. If we show any fear, anger, or uncertainty, he would immediately pick up on that, and I assure that would change the dynamics of everything in our home! He understands that we’re awaiting word from Trump and our Governor DeWine of OH, so I guess we’re off the hook! HAHA! But special needs or not, we all are affected and impacted by this time of quarantine!

I believe this pandemic has affected me in ways that have allowed me to recognize and realize a few things….like:

  • Good hard laughter is as good as a hard cry. (It was the middle of the night, maybe 3 a.m. and we were both wide-awake. I brought up a topic and we had such a nice discussion about a decision we might need to be making when this pandemic is over. It was really a sweet time. Then, I got out my phone and we began laughing so hard and long at meme’s on social media, that we wondered if we’d wake Joey or our neighbors!) (Another night it snowed [yes, we’re talking mid-APRIL], 12:30 a.m. and I noticed my neighbor had posted something, so I responded. I think I said, “Do you want to build a snow man?” It wound up that she and her husband and Joe and I had a fun texting conversation for 30 minutes discussing if we 4 should go out and build a snowman or make a fire pit! It was just fun.) So, we try to find fun and laugh, and sometimes it just happens and we go with it!
  • The realization we are ALL affected. I think we’re all feeling like a hamster in a cage; looking out the front window with grieving, sadness, feeling stuck, and frustrated. Yet while we can experience some/many of the same things, we will all react/respond differently. We are all:
  • Grieving cancelled events
  • Cancelled big trips
  • Loss of jobs
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of investments
  • Loss of touch
  • Need for child care
  • Friendships losses
  • _______________(YOURS?) List here:

BUT, and then the loss of LIFE EVENTS (which can’t all be rescheduled);

  • Graduation, proms, etc.
  • Deaths that mean that life can’t be honored right now
  • Postponed marriages: figuring out “now what”

 

  • We all have the same 24 hours – but what are we doing with them?

It’s important for sure that we take care of ourselves, reach out to others as they have need, learn to be content, learn to wait, learn to understand that waiting isn’t easy, staying busy and getting things done that we said we didn’t have time for but also realizing that busy-ness isn’t our worth! Still, it feels good to be caught up on so much, including end of life decisions and papers so that there will be little to no questions for our kids “when that time comes.” (You’re welcome, kids!) Lastly, to believe God is trying to teach each of us something to prepare us for something coming that we need to be ready for or things we all must come to grips with and learn. We have the same 24 hours as everyone else to do so!

WHAT IF GOD IS ASKING US THIS QUESTION:

“WHERE has this quarantine hit us/me personally THE HARDEST?

What am I embracing that I need to surrender? What should I consider doing as a next step in some area of life where God is speaking to me? Maybe I’m young and don’t think I can do certain things, but maybe I’m old and think I’m of no value or worth? And what will be my answer? Well, let’s get encouraged!

Our friend, David Szafranski says, “Times like these reveal our faith.”

Another dear friend who is an “on call triage nurse” (Karin Csora) posted this on social media about her observances during this time of quarantine:

“I have seen people’s general personality traits become more intense during this pandemic and rarely change.

The kind become kinder.

The angry are angrier.

The selfish become more selfish.

Those that isolate become more isolated.

The giving, give more sacrificially.

The creative become more creative.

The pessimistic have become more pessimistic.

The optimistic have become more optimistic.

Those who have a faith in God have more faith in God.”

Because of both of their observations….

We need to observe and ask ourselves, “Is this pandemic/quarantine quiet time a wake up call to how I’m handling things or not? Is what is hardest for me the very thing I need to work on or get ready for?”

I guess what I want us to take notice of is that this quarantine isn’t just happening to me/us. It’s happening to all of us. But I also need to be mindful that there are things for me to learn personally-and why not learn it now?!

  • Do I want to miss or waste the lessons to be learned?
  • Do I think this is all about the quarantine impacting me, or should I consider what would my IMPACT be!!!!!!
  • Who do I want to be or become during this time of seclusion, quarantine, and solitude? (See chart below)
  • What if GOD is speaking to me regarding a “calling” or direction He has for me, and I’m not listening because I’m whining about how lousy this is for little old me?
  • My last realization for this blog: We all want to get moving again!

Speaking of “get moving” again….THIS IS YOUR SPOT TO OPT OUT if you feel you’ve met your challenge, but if you want to see how others were challenged in history and presently in our little circles and spheres of life (who’ve made impacts on the lives of others), here are a few things and people that might impact you if you choose to read on:

What if God has something to teach us in this WAITING?

Our daughter Kathleen and boyfriend Nathan (now husband) decided to go before the Lord to pray for one month about the direction of their dating relationship years ago. About 2 weeks into the time of prayer Kathleen came to me and said she really felt like she wanted to talk to Nathan. I suggested she wait, because I felt like she needed to give the Lord the due time of 2 more weeks to speak to her. Sometimes in those moments of waiting we want to hurry the Lord. What Nathan and Kathleen were praying about together (while apart) was answered in the later parts of their time of prayer. (Often the same happens when we fast. It’s generally toward the end of the fast after agonizing over what we’ve given up that God clears our mind and has room to speak to our hearts.)

Noah and his family were on the ark for 40 days. When the rains stopped they waited another 150 days for the waters to recede, and another 40 before he opened the window, and then sending out the raven and later the dove adding another couple of weeks, and then 2 more months before he got the ‘all clear’ from the Lord to leave the animals leave to multiply the earth. Add it up. Consider our quarantine time and then let’s see if we really should tell God how it’s not fair we’ve been at this for #_____ days. Ouch. (To read the full account visit Genesis 8:1-23.)

Then there is Moses….40 years?

Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl in Amsterdam during the Holocaust hiding in seclusion for over 2 years in a 450 square foot attic trying to stay alive and safe from the Nazi’s. (Google for more information and consider reading “Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl” for the full picture.) The gift she received for her 13th birthday in 1942 was a diary in which she hoped to record daily life of a young woman but became a book of history and war documentation surrounding her life and family. Her main theme was that of being “selfless” and others risking their lives for others. Sounds like a good book to read while we’re in “waiting” and getting a perspective of how our temporary inconvenience isn’t so selfless.

We wait for 40 weeks for a child to come into the world from conception. For some, that is a lot of change and waiting!

Debbie McGoldrick another dear friend and ministry co-laborer birthed a ministry called NBS2GO (Neighborhood Bible Studies 2 Go). It began 22 years ago as pushed her 2 toddlers through her subdivision praying for her neighbors! In May of 2010 while recovering from breast cancer she was called by the Lord to begin these bible studies. The idea was to give her neighbors bible study “carry out tools” (NBS2 GO – GLOBAL, ORGANIC MISSION) and it’s now in 43 countries, in 30 languages, with 8 churches birthed out of these studies and IMPACTING others with rapid multiplication internationally! (nbs2go.com or debbie@nbs2go.com for more info!) She used her time of busy and her time of waiting well!

CHALLENGES – means we are all facing something (bills, boredom, noise from all the kids, silence in our empty nests or simply being alone, care still to be given to kids and parents, anxiety, worry, sleep issues, etc.) and we must be reminded of the sovereignty of God. Our circumstances will always change, but God does not. He never will leave us or forsake us. And His loving kindness is eternal. Let’s look for Him in the challenges.

CHOICES – means we have responsibilities! Where will we make new and better/different choices? We won’t be content until we’ve been brought to a place in our heart (and it might be a low place) to realize that contentment is not in or about us but outside of us. It means “I don’t have time for ___________” might be a wake up call to do it! Catch up. Finish things we’ve started and realize the pleasure in how good that will feel! (Disclaimer: All this doing isn’t an accurate measure of ones worth. If God wants you to be still….listen. But He just might be giving you this time so that you can finish things to be ready for where He wants to better use you. Yes, YOU!)

AND, instead of tolerating the kids and letting them get on your nerves take this time to be with them and teach them new things…they’re looking for YOUR attention! You have choices of what they need to learn! Do they know how to make a simple pasta meal? Write a check? Make breakfast? Balance a checkbook or justify the credit card bill? Don’t waste this gift of time with them! Someday the house will be all too quiet and you’ll wish for the commotion. (I know; but it’s true.)

CHANCES-or maybe for some this is the beauty of second chances! You’ve never had a budget and so now this time of no work and no pay is devastating you. You’re a church pastor or elder and you’ve not watched those church finances and put aside for “one of those tragic times?” What better time to learn than now. Humble yourself and find a few books like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and people who know what they’re doing to help us put money aside so when (not if) the next tough time comes, we’re not where we are right now. Accumulating debt (often excessive debt)…can never prepare us for anything of stability. This is only one “second chance” example. There are so many more. What is yours?

CHARITY-can always be given and expressed even when times are tough for you and me. Keep connecting. Where you can’t give money; give time. When you can’t offer time; give money. You get the picture! And don’t just do it while we’re in seclusion; offer these gifts other times throughout your life. You think you’re blessing others, but the reality is you will be blessed.

BE PURPOSEFUL AND INTENTIONAL as you find where you will be of greatest IMPACT! AND ENJOY THE JOURNEY!

Ps. 90:12, NLT “Teach us to make the most of our time so that we might grow in wisdom.”

Ps. 90:17, NLT “And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful.”

Ps. 90:17, NASV “And let the favor of the Lord be upon us, and do confirm the work of our hands, Yes, confirm the work of our hands.”

GOT MORE TIME? WHILE IN THE WAITING:

Don’t whine. Don’t sit and stew. Get moving and see what happens:

Check out some present day situations where people waited…..spent time in one place, only to find they were directed elsewhere! Here are a few from this link:

https://www.boredpanda.com/famous-people-success-later-in-life/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic

People Who Didn’t Make It Until After Age 30

Bob Ross spent 20 years in the US Air Force, upon retiring he taught himself to paint and became everyone’s favorite painting teacher at the age of 41.

Morgan Freeman loved acting since he was a child, however upon graduating high school he chose to join Air Force to become a fighter pilot. The actor eventually left the Air Force to establish himself as an actor, but it took him a while to do so. He was 50 years old when he landed his first big break in a movie Street Smart.

Harrison Ford was not happy about the roles he kept receiving at the beginning of his career, so he decided to become a self-taught carpenter to support his family. One of his roles eventually helped him land a role in a Star Wars film. The film was a major success and it kick started Ford’s career at the age of 35.

Liam Neeson was fresh out of university when he had a variety of casual jobs, such as forklift operator and a truck driver. After getting his first acting role at the age of 25, Neeson had to wait until he was 40 years old to receive his first big break in the movie Schindler’s List.

J.K. Rowling, before wroting Harry Potter, the best-selling book series in history, she has struggled with depression, poverty, tried to recover after a bad divorce and was looking for a way to provide for her child. During this tough time, Rowling began writing Harry Potter. The first book of the series was published in 1997 when she was 32 and kick started her astonishing career as a writer.

Susan Boyle sang for a long time but received no recognition for her talent. However, things completely changed in 2009 when she appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and become an instant success. She was 47 years old.

Martha Stewart, a successful entrepreneur and media personality hadn’t reached fame up until she published her first cookbook in 1982 at 41 years old. Before that, Stewart was working as a stockbroker in Wall Street and after quitting she began running a catering business. Her first book was a big hit, which eventually led to many other books, a magazine, a TV show and a net value of more than $638 million. 

THANKS for reading through all this. We hope it’s been an encouragement in this time of waiting…and when the time is right, let’s get moving!

Yesterday’s SLAM BOOK is Today’s SOCIAL MEDIA

Do you remember…did you have these or did you do this in Jr. High school? They were called Slam Books – books that (mostly girls) put together in binders, which had the names of girls in the class at the top of the page (each page with a different name) and then questions about what you thought of this person. Some questions were fairly tame, but some would be such that they would try to get others to write unkind and nasty things about that person. I’m finding that yesterday’s Slambook is today’s Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more – a place we can hide behind our comments and think no one will know we said it.

Recently I have felt ashamed. Ashamed at what I’ve read by people who call themselves Christians. I’ve felt that many of their comments have bordered on or been bullying comments, words that hurt feelings, and all done in the plain view of many non-Christians they would likely claim to want to share the with. I even had some non-Christian friends and family mention how shocked they were at such mean spirited and nasty comments.

But in this modern age of social media, we need to think twice (and some people need to consider it more than twice!) before posting, commenting, liking, disliking (someday if they add it) to our walls and pages, tweets, and instagrams….so that we are not purposely or even unknowingly hurting others, tearing them down, or saying things that are untrue, mean, nasty or would cause others to be further critical. Those of us calling ourselves Christians, need to compose our thoughts, weigh our words carefully, and ASK You for Your guidance as to whether or not our words will be of encouragement or if they are hurtful, and then to choose carefully what we actually write.

We know we have choices and it’s just as easy to be nasty as it is to be nice. It takes no more effort to say the kind words rather than the harsh or nasty ones. We can ask the Lord to help us recognize when our words would be hurtful and then ask for help to make a choice toward wisdom to either not use them or wait for an opportunity to craft them better so it comes from a heart of caring and compassion not just blurting them out or using those words to get even. We need to recognize our nasty tendencies and choose better, as others in social media (including unbelievers) are watching us and wondering if they even want to get to know our Jesus based upon what they are seeing and hearing from us. This is heartbreaking.

We should not think we hide behind paper and pen or computer, as our names accompany our comments. We need to be cautious and encouraging in our words to and for others. I pray we would put ourselves in the shoes of others and try to feel how they might feel if these things were said to or about us. May our words not come back to hurt us, as we are reminded in Psalm 140:9, “As for the head of those who surround me, may the mischief of their lips cover them.”

Like a carpenter is told to measure twice and cut once, we should measure our words twice and speak them kindly once. That one kind comment will encourage another for quite some time, but not as long as a discouraging one will wound a heart for a very long time. Think before writing or speaking. Let’s make our word count for good!

 

HOW LOSER’S WIN

DSC00018

Situations may differ, but the principles are the same. Pro’s, kids sports, or life….losers can be winners! We all want to win, be super hero’s and be the best……

She was 15 and trying out for cheer-leading. As the advisor I watched gals learn routines and skills, but this gal was clearly the most uncoordinated gal I ever saw try out, but her persistence to learn was amazing. I didn’t want to discourage her excitement at learning new things and I loved her genuine encouragement to others!

Because I knew how badly she wanted to make it, she was the one exception I ever made to call personally to tell her how much I appreciated all her efforts, but that she didn’t make it.

She was so very gracious as she said through her tears, “Well, I’m so happy for all the girls who made it! What will you all be doing tonight? Can I bring everyone some pizza?”

That night, as the new cheer- leading team was celebrating, and without them knowing what was to happen, I waved “the loser” to “come on in.” She congratulated each “winner” genuinely and kindly. After she left, there were about 15 of us in a puddle of tears talking about what a gracious loser she was, and that of all of us, she was the real winner.

Losing is hard. It was hard to:

  • Watch the Cav’s lose the finals after such a wonderful year (yet owning up to the loss on a number of levels!) #allin
  • Tell my son his team lost….he thought they were (and they were) pretty INCREDIBLE!
  • Tell my high school student she didn’t make the cheerleading team (yet watching her shine in the end!)
  • See one of my daughters not make the volleyball team back in middle school (yet offering to be the scorekeeper just to be involved…)
  • Go through a gazillion (I’m not exaggerating) college, play, commercial, theater, comedy, etc. auditions with my other daughter and watch her not make a lot of them (yet watching her commend and rejoice with others when they did!)

Winning often means losing.

Thanks to those who’ve been such good examples.

You’re the winners!

 

WHICH WAY AM I HEADED?

DSC00236

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m watching people making all kinds of weird and wrong choices. I’m not saying this to get my way about something I’m simply observing some really silly and foolish things!

I know (in at least a few of these instances) these people are being directed and helped by others who are giving good counsel – but they just don’t want to hear or apply it. Yikes.  Proverbs 26:11 seems to apply here, “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” I can’t think of a better word picture than that one!

None of us will “get” everything right in this life, but when we consistently make poor choices we need to stop and take inventory and ask ourselves, “So, which way am I headed if I make this choice?” The funny thing is this….in a few instances when I’ve turned the discussion table around and asked them how they would help me (or their children) decide (a similar situation like they are dealing with) they give the right answer! But when it comes to their situation, it just doesn’t apply the same way. They just want what they want. That is frightening.

Maybe this little thought today will jump start us to ask ourselves, “Which way am I headed?” in a way that will give a well considered answer that looks to the past for past mistakes as well as good choices, is honest in the present to honestly evaluate, and thinks ahead to what will happen in the future because of that decision.

De-Friend, Block, Bully

11164790_908493519172517_899757306930166000_n

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s face it, SOCIAL MEDIA is big!  What started as a way for college kids to look each other up and communicate has turned into a worldwide presence!

I enjoy:

  • Informational blogs and articles
  • Hearing from real friends and the ones who just “hang out” occasionally
  • Playing SCRABBLE
  • That I’m moved to pray when a need is shared
  • Finding people from high school and college
  • Keeping in touch with present friends
  • Meeting new people with like interests
  • Seeing what others pin on their boards
  • Seeing job hunts – rejoicing when they’re found, tweets…
  • Seeing the most recent pictures of trips, daily routines, and grandchildren on various social media

It has a value that is hard to calculate, yet there are other values missing.

One can’t calculate the missing value of:

  • A shared cup of coffee or tea
  • A casual dinner to “catch up”
  • Face to face communication
  • A hug, a tear, or a good laugh

The virtual world will never be able to simulate what happens in the real world of caring and compassion.

God has given us relationships for a reason and we should be mindful to care for them.

But, sadly, social media is also big in the social status department of “de-friend, block, and bully.”

Recently someone shared with me their hurt feelings because someone de-friended and blocked them. They were trying to figure out why. I didn’t have an answer except to share that both virtual and real friendships hold some things in common. One commonality is that people don’t always know how to be kind and communicate well – face to face or on the written page. When they are jealous of something we did, or somewhere we went, when we seem to have more friends or “likes” than they do, when they don’t agree with us….they find it easier to de-friend and block a friend than to either let it go because it’s not really a big issue, or speak with us about an issue if it is a big deal. A true friend would reach out. A virtual friend hides.

For me, on those occasions I’ve searched to connect with a friend and notice our status now shows we’re no longer friends, I don’t have to assume. I know they de-friended me. I know that, because I don’t de-friend friends unless they post nasty things or are nasty on my page in their comments. I’ve probably de-friended 3 people and I didn’t actually know them (perhaps met them at a conference or other social situation). Of the times I’ve noticed someone de-friend me, they were usually the kind of people I don’t considered a good friend anyway. (And no worries…they won’t even see/read this!) I was actually glad one particular gal parted our ways….again. I say again, because in the real world of friendship her passive aggressive nature was bullying. No problem here – and yes, we discussed it and tried to work through it in the past. Another gal told me she didn’t like that I encouraged others (including her) on social media and said she was going to de-friend me. Who wouldn’t be relieved?  I (and neither should you) spend too much time worrying about such trivial silliness, pettiness, and mean-spirited-ness. I’d like to think we both have enough real “friend” relationships on which to work in kind, encouraging, and helpful ways.

I’d like to suggest we enjoy our real and our virtual relationships in ways that don’t cause hurt and bullying. Why not nurture and encourage others even on the written page of social media?

Let’s live out Romans 12: 9-16:

  • Love one another without hypocrisy
  • Abhor what is evil and cling to what is good
  • Desire to be devoted to one another, giving preference to others with honor
  • Contribute to the needs that others have, serving friends and even strangers through hospitality, kindness, compassion, and words of encouragement
  • Be of the same mind with one another
  • Not being haughty, but associating with various kinds of people
  • Desire to rejoice with those who are rejoicing
  • Take a step to weep with those who are weeping through grief, encountering a deep trial of life, or simple walking through the challenges of trials of everyday life

And if we can’t do that….maybe it’s time to sign off.

Signing out, but not off!

 

Anonymous or Hiding?

photo gallery 155

Most of the time, I recognize that remaining anonymous is not the right thing to do. Feelings can be hurt when we write things to others and we don’t own up to our part in whatever the situation. I’ve even known of people to have lost their job when anonymity was revealed. Of course, that wasn’t their plan. That lesson (which I learned early in life) has stuck with me for many years and has kept me from ever writing something without signing my name. The only times I’ve chosen to write anonymously, have been times I do something charitable and would prefer not to be “known”. By remaining anonymous in this type of situation we’re able to serve and know that Jesus alone gets the credit. Secrets aren’t good to keep unless we keep the secret for God to get the glory and the credit.

It’s often tempting to want to be in the limelight or get the credit for doing a good deed for someone. God alone will choose to use each person to bless others especially when we consider others more important than ourselves.  May what we give, how we act and respond, and how we treat others be a reflection of our love and service to God.

It’s important not to let our blind spots get the best of us in wanting to sneak a peek at how good or kind we think we are, when we really know that without God we are nothing but a puff of wind. Serving in secret is what benefits His name. When we use the gifts, talents, skills, and resources that God has given each of us without needing the attention, accolades, and credit, is the way we will in turn be able to bless others….and we ourselves will also be blessed. It’s a humble action to remain quiet in serving so that we don’t allow ourselves to get in the way of what God might accomplish.

The next time we choose to do something in secret, let’s evaluate and think if we’re serving or tempted to hide behind an anonymous note.

From Thorns to Throne

11051865_1066192403394138_5362419817377776366_n

A dear friend, whom Joe discipled, made for us the crown of thorns you see in this picture. I tenderly take it out from storage each Easter. Tenderly, because it is very sharp and very difficult to handle without getting scratched or poked.

Our friend had to use great caution as he weaved this crown because the slightest mis-movement would have been painful.

The crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus didn’t even have to be forced on him for it to be painful.  When I consider the harshness of a crown of thorns it is hard for me to imagine the pain Jesus endured when it was put upon his head as they mockingly said, “And after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying ‘Hail, King of the Jews!'”

He was mistreated and suffered death for our sins. He endured the pain of the crown of thorns, floggings, and death on a cross. It’s hard to comprehend that He did that to fulfill the Old Testament scripture. It’s hard to comprehend how we continue to sin; thus mocking what He endured for us.

Yet, because of His death, He now triumphs in heaven. Isaiah 66:1, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.'” He reigns. He was victorious.

May you enjoy this Easter week as we prepare to celebrate that HE IS RISEN!