Monday, August 13, 2018

Make Your Bed

It's the simple things, done consistently, that make life Grand!

This is so true.  We all intuitively want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.  We want to have maximum impact in our sphere of influence.  We want to make a difference.

But few understand that life is the sum total of thousands of small choices made consistently every single day.  That's why this post is titled, "Make Your Bed!"

Frank and I read excerpts from a book written by a military leader years ago.  One of his simplest instructions had great impact on his cadets and made perfect sense to us.

He urged his cadets to ALWAYS make their bed first thing each morning.  He said this simple act would reap great benefits:
  • A sense of accomplishment to start off the day.
  • A knowledge that good habits have purpose.
  • An act of self-discipline which would set the tone for each day.
  • A reminder that consistence makes a difference.
  • A gift at the end of each day.  (No matter how difficult/chaotic the day had been, the cadets finished that day with a sense of order if they returned to a bed that was made.)
Good advice, don't you think?

I marvel at people who don't understand the power of consistency.  Maybe this idea was planted deep inside me by the caverns we visited when I was just a child. My first year at summer camp included a trip to the Florida Caverns State Park.

Our group stepped out of the glaring sunlight and near 100 degree weather into a cool, shadowy wonderland.  A short walk down the gravel path found us in an underground cathedral created by stalactites and stalagmites.  Magnificent pillars of stone rose from the cavern floor to meet their twin which grew from the ceiling.

I was awe-struck.

The guide patiently answered the thousand or so questions asked by our elementary-aged group.  And at some point I was able to grasp the information about how these monstrous columns had formed.

"Actually," said the park ranger. "these are still growing.  They are formed as single drops of mineral rich water drip from the ceiling.  They grow one little drop at a time."  [I would encourage you to visit the website and see the incredible pictures.]

As a seven year old kid, I stood looking up at the majestic pillars.  I touched their cool sides and saw how impossible it would be to put my arms around even one of them, they were so huge.  Such magnificence created one single drop at a time!  The power of consistency became a seed firmly planted in my mind.

These monsters serve no real purpose.  They support nothing and are strictly ornamental.  But oh, the lesson they teach!

Another use for the word "pillar" refers to someone who is reliable.  As in, "She is a true pillar of the community."  That character trait is built and becomes visible one small drop of action at a time.  (Just like the stalactites and stalagmites)

We all want to be people of influence.  That desire to impact others is built into our DNA.  But the truth is, influence is earned. Over time.  By small, consistent acts which show an individual to be trust-worthy.

One little word of encouragement here.  A simple act of kindness there.  A confidence kept.  A hurt forgiven.  A promise remembered.  Consistent dependability.

These are the things that add value and build rich stabilizing character in us.  Over time, they create a heart people know they can trust.  You become like a well......known to always have a cool, refreshing drink for each weary passer-by.

People discover they can come to you for advice  You are consistent.  Their words won't be shared with anyone else. You've developed a reputation for reliability one small disciplined loving action at a time.

Please understand the opposite is equally true.  Watch the person who continues to be unreliable.  The one who complains.  The one who tears down instead of building up.  This person will also become known for their character.

Proverbs 20:11 reads this way in the KJV.  "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." 

Our world is desperate for people of reliable character to step forward and use their influence for good.  Will you accept the challenge?  Will you nurture the tiny seeds which grow consistent encouragement?  Will you be the reliable person always adding value?

Make your bed, friend!

That and a hundred other small actions will produce for you a massive harvest of influence you could never wrap your arms around, even if you tried.



Do you have a daily routine that has become a good/productive habit?  Have you observed consistency playing out in the life of someone you know; one small action at a time?  Leave us a comment and tell how these have impacted you.....

Friday, August 10, 2018

Visiting China

In addition to all that happened around these parts in July, I also visited China for three weeks.

"Wait!  Did I miss something?" I can hear your gasp and I see the puzzled expression on your face.

If you've followed Embrace the Grace for very long, you know I love to travel.  But you also know that the planning and anticipating are half the fun for me.  You've heard NOTHING about me visiting China before now. 

Well, as with most stories, there is one small puzzle piece missing.  I actually visited China by way of a lovely teacher from Shanghai who lived with us for three weeks. 

Ah, now you understand.

Her name is Barbara and she came to live with us through an organization called Education First.  This language learning program (based in Switzerland) facilitates world travel for students wanting to experience different cultures.

My friend became involved with EF at the beginning of this year and asked if we would consider hosting a child for three weeks.   "It would be a wonderful opportunity to impact their life.  Besides, you have so much travel experience." she said.

I knew the answer to her question before I even consulted Frank.  July, 2018  was going to be packed for us with one new grandbaby and another on the way.  Not to mention, Vacation Bible School and a missions group of 20 young people coming to our church to help with outreach.

"Thanks but No, Thanks!"  I figured this was a cultural experience someone else might want to enjoy.  No sense keeping all the fun to myself, right?

But then my friend came back with a request for us to host a course leader.
  • "A young lady," she said.   
  • "Most likely 30 years old. Just like one of your girls," she said.  
  • "It's an opportunity to share your faith in Christ," she said. 
And that's when I felt a familiar tug on my heart.  Frank and I talked about the gift it would be to experience China by inviting this young lady into our home.  Perhaps this would also be a divine appointment.  A missions trip without ever leaving our little abode.

So it was decided.

At the very last minute, the young lady we were to host became ill and couldn't travel.  The organization tapped "Barbara" to take her place.  The program was new to her.  She only had four days to prepare.  And she had never met the seventeen children that would be her charges for this trip halfway around the world.

But she had a passport and visa from a previous trip.  And (we came to learn) Barbara is fearless!

Not gonna lie, we were all three a bit nervous at first.  But we warmed up to one another quickly.  Fortunately, Barbara speaks English well.  And Frank's visit to China almost 30 years ago, gave us much to talk about.  By the end of the first weekend, I knew Barbara and I would be friends.

She was unfamiliar with our faith and had never attended a church nor read a Bible.  But being the fearless person she is and wanting to be gracious, she came right along with us.....to everything.  She even accepted the invitation to join Frank and me for evening devotions and prayer.

We never pushed.  We didn't have to.  Christ makes room for Himself in every searching heart.  We simply lived our normal lives.  Invited her to join us when she wanted and made time for her to ask questions about it all.

The grand babies loved her immediately and she them.  Madi summed up the situation first (hand on hip), "Noni, is Ms. Barbawah you new verwy bestest fwiend?"  We all looked at one another with big eyes while stifling laughter, "Why yes, Madi.  Ms. Barbawah is my new friend!"

Responsibilities kept Barbara occupied each day from 7:30AM until 5:30PM.  After our dinner, she spent long hours on the phone with the parents in China, responding to questions from the students, or facilitating understanding for the host families.  I marveled at her adeptness.

Because I was the transportation for Barbara, I spent the most time with her.  We did indeed become friends and talked easily about so many different things.  Culture.  Weddings.  Faith.  Children.  Shopping. Family.  Food.

One of my favorite lines came when several host families gathered for a picnic.  One of the "dads" was talking with Barbara.  He learned that her parents are owners of a family restaurant they have managed for decades.

"What type of food do they serve?"  he leaned in to be sure to catch her response.

Barbara hesitated for a split second then answered, "Chinese."

Everyone at their table burst out laughing!  Can't make up those kind of cultural exchanges.

The richest memory I'll rehearse from our "visit to China" was when we all tried to say good-bye.  Barbara and I both wept openly.  Frank had to swipe at tears and wait for his voice to get stable.  We hugged one another multiple times while whispering our farewells. 

How is it that your heart can become so entangled with other people in such a short amount of time?  Why even make the effort to connect with someone you may never see again?   I guess the answer is this:  you have to be open and you have to believe Every Connection Matters.

Many people live with closed hearts.  They don't want to risk being hurt or misunderstood or offended or rejected.  But my friend, the line from our childhood is still true.....  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Yes, it was awkward inviting a stranger to live with us for almost three weeks.  Yes, there were odd moments when we didn't understand one another.  Yes, it required time and energy during a month when both were in precious little supply.

But I'm so glad we chose to be open to this experience.

I will long remember Barbara's beautiful face, covered with tears as she leaned in one final time and whispered, "Thank you.  I will remember you always."

Our trip to China was wonderful!



How about you?  What was your favorite travel experience this summer?  Take a moment to leave a comment and let's see where all we've been.









Monday, July 30, 2018

Grayson Oliver Smith

He's here!  He's here!  And he is simply adorable!

Yes, our level of joy does require that many exclamation points.  Our third baby has given birth to her third baby and we are most grateful for his safe arrival.

Meagan and Nathan gave us an early morning call last Thursday to say they were on their way to the hospital.  She had been awake since 2:30 AM with serious labor pains.  This was no false alarm.  July 26th would be Grayson Oliver's birthday.

The siblings were quickly shuttled to Aunt Joy's house.  I dropped Barbara (my Chinese teacher) at her location then headed to Joy's to help.  Perhaps I should clarify who was at Joy's house and why she needed my help.  The list included:
  • Spencer 7 
  • Abby 6
  • Noah 4
  • Zach 3 
  • Madi 3 
  • Tyce 3 
  • Ava 1
  • Avery 10 months 
  • Parker 2 months  
That's why I headed to Joy's house to help.

Kristin had to leave Parker in order to close out the VBS we were doing at a local apartment complex.  She was teaching at an outdoor venue.  Frank was there but he had to grill more than 50 hotdogs and there were no extra hands.  Tyce and Avery are the two children Joy babysits three days a week.  Joy took in all nine children and never twitched an eye once.  Amazing!

Less than thirty minutes after I arrived, we got the text that Meagan was already 7 cm dilated.   I stood holding a hairbrush (getting ready to braid Abby's hair) and read the text to Joy who was feeding someone.  Grayson would definitely be arriving before the end of the business day.

"Mom, Go!"  she grabbed the brush from me.  "You know Meagan won't take long to have this baby. You have to go to the hospital right now!"

I hated leaving Joy with all those children.  But I also wanted to be able to run errands or make calls if Meagan and Nathan needed me.  Joy gave me a push toward the door and the decision was made.

At the hospital, I tapped on the door then quietly slipped into their room.  Meagan sat on a birthing ball while Nathan massaged her back countering the pressure of the labor pains. They worked together as a real team.  It was a sweet scene I've witnessed twice before with them.

The method is what they've found most effective for the way Meagan labors.  The nurse kept commenting on what an awesome job they were doing.  She even suggested at one point they should do an instructional birthing video.  Meagan just rolled those huge blue eyes as her response to the suggestion.

Of course the truth is that every birth experience is different and each arrival is perfect; however it happens.  Our other five grandchildren have been born by way of Caesarean section.

During the first couple hours, I stayed in the room with them.  Helping massage Meagan's back to give Nathan a break.  Stepping out at key moments.  Finding more ice chips.  Chasing down the nurse when Meagan's water broke.

Pretty soon after that, it was time for Noni to turn the waiting area into a prayer room.  Papa arrived and we took turns getting updates from Nathan.  [We are blessed with such wonderful sons-in-law.  We offer great respect for their role as husbands.  But they so graciously welcome us in to their lives when they're ready and we are most appreciative.]

About an hour later, Grayson was taking his first breaths and trying his best to figure out where he had landed.  With only a few loud cries, he marked his place in our hearts for always.  Nathan stepped out and let us know all was well.  We hugged and smiled and congratulated him and swiped at our tears of gratitude.

Everyone said Meagan delivered Grayson quickly.  In fact, Meagan had been in labor with this little boy for almost 10 weeks.  True, the final push was only a little over four hours but who's counting other than Meagan, right?

Later in the day, I took Noah and Madi to the hospital so they could meet their new baby brother.  I tuned into their never ending conversation just in time to hear Madi say, "I don't yike him.  I don't yike Gwayson."  My eyes went wide.  But I shouldn't have worried at all.

Sounding very grown up in spite of his four year old lisp, Noah instructed, "Now Madi, Gwayson is our budder.  You have to yove him."

A deep sigh of resignation came up from her toes and Madi responded, "Aw white! (Alright!)  I yove him.  I YOVE him!"

(Try to stifle that laugh while keeping your eyes on traffic.  No easy feat.)

Nathan's parents (who also happen to be our dear friends) will be arriving from NC in a couple of days.  We will all celebrate together the miracle of this little guy.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you....  Grayson Oliver means Wise Life.  Lord, grant it may it be so for our wonderful little grand baby number 8.



Do you have grandchildren?  How many?  Any funny sibling stories you can share?  We'd love to hear about your experience in the comment section.....













Thursday, July 19, 2018

Say Something

I watched as she swiped at the escaping tears.  With a pained expression, he rubbed his forehead a second time.  They sat looking straight ahead.  Neither of them able nor willing to see the other.

This isn't the beginning of some silly novel.  It's the real life action I observed early this morning while waiting at a traffic light. Always people watching, I happened to be in the perfect spot to catch the interaction taking place between a dad and his teen-aged daughter.

"Did you know these people?" you may be asking.  No, I didn't.

But after so many years of studying people and body language and relationships, a few suppositions were obvious.  The girl was too young to be his wife.  It was too early for a joy ride; he must have been taking her to a summer job. 

Remember, we also have a lot of experience riding in cars with teen-age daughters.  Even if those guesses were wrong, the tension was visible to anyone taking time to see.

When I see someone in traffic who appears to be in distress, I try to offer a short prayer for them.  Something like one of these. . .
  • "Father, let your peace come into that vehicle."  
  • "Dear Lord, give them grace to be forgiving."  
  • "Heavenly Father, may they sense your love right now."
It doesn't matter if I know them or not.  They're known by our Father and there may not be anyone else to lift them in prayer just at the moment they need it.   I look at it through the lens of Solomon's admonition in Ecclesiastes, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might."  I am the one who noticed them; I should pray.

For the two minutes that I was part of the struggle between this dad and daughter, I did pray.  But I also wanted to shout to the dad, "Say Something!"

Most likely he was thinking he didn't know what to say.  That's normal.  We seldom ever have the perfect words during a moment of disagreement.  Perfect words don't matter.  Shattering the barrier of silence does matter.

Professional counselors may have another perspective and that's fine.  I'm just a mom who has ridden in the Cone of Silence with a frustrated teen-ager many times.  And I can tell you this, silence hardens hearts. That's true between spouses and friends, as well.

Especially if you're dealing with a daughter, remember there is never a waking moment that a woman doesn't have words happening in her head.  If you leave that young woman to silently argue through the situation in her own thoughts, it only grows more negative with each passing moment.

Interrupt that train of destructive thought with some word of quiet reassurance:

  • "I do love you."
  • "I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings."  
  • "I hope you believe I want what's best for you."  
  • "You don't feel like talking now but can we pray together before you leave?"
Do something to break that barrier.  Even if you have to take a step back when they unleash their frustration, it's important to keep communicating.  Silence can become an escape and eventually even a habit.

When our girls were little, we taught them a secret communication.  The first person would give the second three quick squeezes.  That meant, "I. Love. You."  The second person then responded with four little squeezes meaning, "I. Love. You. Too."  

No words were used but we had communicated with one another.  Their faces would light up.  And sometimes they were so excited participating in the secret code they would then announce it.  "Mom, I just told Daddy, I. Love. You.  He squeezed my hand and said, I. Love. You. Too!"  

Can you hear the giggles of joy that followed?

One afternoon, I had to discipline one of our daughters.  It had been a severe breaking of the rules and the punishment was equal to the offense.  When I went back into her bedroom later to talk over the situation, she refused to talk with me.  

After waiting a few minutes I said, "Okay, that's your choice.  You don't have to talk right now.  Just remember, we have to deal with this before you go to sleep tonight."  I reassured her of my love, stepped out and quietly closed her door.

The girls all knew our routine after any discipline.  We gave them time to think over their actions.  We went back to discuss the offense.  We made sure they understood the punishment, then prayed together.  

But bedtime was coming quickly and still no closure.  The silent daughter had already climbed into her bed when we gathered to read their Bible story and say nighttime prayers.  We couldn't let her go to sleep with the struggle unresolved but I was all too familiar with the resolute look on her face.

What was I to do?  I offered a quiet prayer while Dad read the story. 

That's when it hit me.  While someone else was praying, I reached over to the silent daughter and ever so gently squeezed her foot three times.  "I. Love. You."  

With only a slight hesitation, she gave my hand four distinct pats.  "I. Love. You. Too."  The silence was broken.

It was the next morning before we were able to have our follow-up discussion.  Our daughter still wasn't happy but her frustration level had dropped and we were able to talk calmly.

What's my message today?

Simply this: if you find yourself in a frustrating moment, don't go silent.  Say Something.  Pray for wisdom and speak up.  Don't use silence as a shield or as an excuse or as a wall.  That relationship is far to precious.

They can not read your mind, Dear Friend.  If you love them, say it.  If you're sorry, ask forgiveness.  If you regret the misunderstanding, express yourself better.

Paul gave a helpful warning to us in Ephesians 4.  "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."  In other words, deal with the situation.  Don't go to bed silent and angry.  Say Something!

That's my word of encouragement for today and I'm sticking to it!  Blessings!



How about you?  Any experience in this area of struggle?  Any tips to share with our other readers?  We'd love to read your thoughts in the comment box below.














Monday, July 16, 2018

Still No Baby

Many of you have been checking in to see if Meagan and Nathan's third bundle of joy has arrived.  The title says it all, "Still No Baby!"  Without a doubt this is the most unusual of the eight pregnancies we've lived through with our girls.

Meagan's first two pregnancies were good experiences with small complications here and there.  Both babies came early; Madi required a bit of bedrest before arrival time. 

Noah was born around 9PM on a Thursday.  Meagan taught school all day; went for her check-up; moved to the hospital and birthed a little boy......all in time for us to be home before midnight.  It was like he processed it all then asked, "Is now an okay time to make my appearance?"  Such a thoughtful kid!

Don't get me wrong.  When she was in the hospital at 29 weeks with this little guy, we were all extremely concerned.  Every extra week this baby stays in place is a good week.  But Meagan has had so much pain and so many unexplainable problems since then, it's definitely been perplexing.

Still, she and Nathan keep finding reasons to smile and express gratitude. It's all about the Attitude! Thank you for your prayers.

In other news, we are honored to be hosting a lovely young lady from China for three weeks.  Her Chinese name is Wan Gind but she told us to call her "Barbara."  She also seems to like Audrey Hepburn but I think "Barbara" was easier for everyone to pronounce.

She is here as a course leader with a wonderful program called Education First.  It's an international group providing cultural learning opportunities for children and adults.  My friend, Janet, became a liaison for EF and asked if Frank and I would serve this month as a host home.  What better way to touch the nation of China than by offering a safe, loving environment for one of their visiting citizens?

Barbara is responsible for 17 students who call her at all hours to tell of everything from home-sickness, to great adventures, to injuries and such.  She speaks really good English (thank Heavens.)  I hear her switching back and forth easily between the languages as she talks with students and American host families.  I'm impressed!

We're all praying these students (ranging in age from 8 to 12) will have a positive experience while here in the United States.  So much going on.  So many moving parts.  And our July heat index has been topping out daily in the three digit range.

It's been nice for Frank to be able to share with Barbara his positive memories from visiting her country.  She was surprised when he said,  "I visited China many years ago and things have surely changed so much.  But the people were genuinely helpful and kind to me.  I loved being there."  

I don't mind saying I was rather nervous getting ready for her to arrive.  I mean, she's a stranger from half way around the world.  A culture totally different from anything I know.  Customs and habits completely different from my own.  Sharing our home for three weeks.  Apparently, she was a bit anxious as well.

We went to the grocery store her first full day so I could prepare food she could eat and enjoy.  We talked casually about many things.  After an hour or so, she looked directly at me and said, "I'm so glad you are happy," she hesitated, searching for the right words then put her hand on her heart.  "I wondered how you would be.  Thank you."

Two browned-eyed girls.  One older the other younger.  One American the other Chinese.  Both struggling with exactly the same questions and concerns.  More unites us than separates us in this world, Friends!

I'll close with a quick story about Noah, the 4 year old.  Last week, I met Meagan at the obstetrician's office to pick up Madi and Noah while Meg was being checked out.  Our wires had crossed about the time to meet and I was rather frazzled when I finally starting pulling out of the parking area.

Too sharp a turn and Meagan's unsecured tumbler fell over, lodging behind my back while dumping it's iced contents all over my bottom.  I jumped forward on the seat and pulled to the side of the road as quickly as possible all the while yelling, "Oh, No!  Oh, No!"  

As I opened the van door and hopped out, I remembered the babies were riding with me and started adding in, "It's okay!  Oh, no!  Oh, no!  It's okay!"  

It took a minute to get the tumbler back into a cupholder.  Fortunately, Meagan already had a towel on the passenger side seat.  I grabbed it and mopped up as much of the formerly free-flowing liquid as possible.  This included mopping Noni's backside as well as the driver's side seat all the while trying to reassure my little charges, "It's okay!  Oh, no!  Good heavens!  It's okay, really!  Everything is okay!"

Traffic continued to pass us.  Each driver craning their necks and trying to see what was going on with the lady on the side of the road.  That's when I heard Noah's little voice wafting from the back, "It's not the worst that's happened." 

I threw my head back and laughed out loud, "You're exactly right, sweet boy!  It's not the worst that's happened!"

So there you have it, dear reader.  Still no baby. A cultural exchange happening in my home.  Extreme heat of summer.  A baptized bottom.  But hey, it's not the worst that's happened.




Friday, July 6, 2018

Announcement!

My trip to Michigan this past week was simply amazing!

I was privileged to once again attend Speak Up, the speaker's/writer's conference sponsored by my friend, Carol Kent.  Several hundred women (and a few brave men) from 35 different states and three Canadian provinces came together for one fantastic time of learning, worshipping the Father and connecting.

My roommate, Dyann, was from California.  We met via email before hand and became quick friends as we shared our writing challenges and dreams. Simply Fantastic!

A publishing company held an advance contest then chose 21 articles to be included in an anthology entitled: Faith and Freedom.  The article I submitted was one of those chosen!  That was exciting and will now move me into the "Published" category.  Woo Hoo!  Thanks for being excited with me.

The best news is this - I came away with a contract for my new book!!

No.  No, I did not.

I did not come away with a book contract.  I came away encouraged about my book.  I came away with ideas for improvement.  I came away with renewed passion.  But the announcement of a contract will have to wait for another time.

Once I got home, life was rolling at full tilt.  It was four days before I could look at the comments sent to me by one of the agents I met with.  She had carefully reviewed my proposal and a sample chapter I'd emailed her before the conference.  Our actual meeting time was brief so her overview had to be succinct.

She encouraged me to keep working at it and highlighted a couple of points.  Needless to say, I was eager to get back home and read through her longer explanations.

But reading through her comments yesterday afternoon had the same effect on my enthusiasm as helium that's slowly leaking from a shiny balloon:

"I don't see anything unique here."  

"Same comment as above."

"This story is too long; where is your focus?"

"What do you want the reader to see in this section?"

"I've read three proposals this week on this same topic.  What's unique about your slant?"

"Same comment as above."

"Is there some other topic you're passionate about?  This is too broad; too common."

(Can you hear the squeaky, high-pitched sound of air leaving a balloon slowly?  Yep, that's what my heart sounded like as I read.)

I met Frank at home and gave him the cliff note version.  Then I cried.  Fortunately, we had company coming for dinner so I couldn't indulge in a full-blown pity party.  There was a meal to finish preparing and a table to set.

This morning, Frank just pulled me close and let me cry again for a little while.  He's a Good, GOOD man!

We talked some more about the review.  Then finally, I was able to paint a word picture to help him understand how I felt.

"Honey, this editor has taken my manuscript, which feels like a baby to me and she has looked it over very carefully.  These comments sound to me like she has said, 'Lady, your baby is ugly!  You can't fix ugly.  Maybe you should just try to have another one.' "  

He looked at me with such a startled expression that it struck me funny.  I reacted by doing the laugh/cry thing we women are so famous for.  I'll always believe laughter truly is the best medicine.

We prayed together and I ran on to do a hospital visit while he started cleaning our yard.  It's been an introspective kind of day for me.  When someone declares your baby is ugly, you have to take a step back and regroup.

Fortunately, I have company that stops by this blog site on a regular basis.  (That's YOU!)  A new post was overdue.  Still no time for a pity party.  Thanks, dear readers, for being the catalyst I needed to make me get busy and write again; right now.  Today!

Home-spun wisdom has always quoted the old cowboy.  "Horse bucked you off?  Grab those reins and get back on right now.  Best cure is to ride again!"

Eventually, I'll be able to report to you:  "I came away with a contract for my new book!"  That isn't for today; but eventually.

Until then, I'll just keep loving on this "ugly baby" until it grows out of the ugly stage and finds it's place in the printed world.  Who knows, there may even be a unique slant in that concept.

If you've been hit with some less than encouraging news this week, take a step back.  Allow yourself time to regroup.  Things are never quite as impossible (or ugly) as they first appear.

Choose to sing along with me the theme song from Lil' Orphan Annie, "The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow!"

Besides, we know the One who holds all our tomorrows in His loving hands.  Set backs are really more like set ups for a better outcome.

THAT truth is definitely worth an announcement!








Monday, June 25, 2018

Talking About Truth


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Most of you will remember we have seven grandchildren and one more on the way this summer.  Five of these children have incredible verbal skills already.  What they come up with keeps us in stitches. 

Most recently, it was the Smith family providing entertainment.

Madi and Noah were having a small altercation as siblings often do.  Dad (Nathan) stepped in to dispense discipline.  Based on what he had seen, he told Noah to apologize for hitting his sister.
        Noah:  "Sorry,  Madi for hitting you."
        Madi:  "I forgive you budher.  I sawy for pulling you hair.  I tink you hair iz bootiful!"

(Brings to mind a great line from the old TV show, Perry Mason.  "Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?")

Ms. Madi also just celebrated her third birthday.  A lady from our church bent down yesterday and said to her, "Happy Birthday, Madi.  I hope you had a nice birthday."  Madi sighed, propped her hand on her hip and responded, "Tank you.  It was ovuhr in four minutes!"  Can't make this up!

Abby (Joy and John's oldest daughter) will turn six later this week.  She read a Bible story for bedtime last night that is written on a second grade level and she just graduated from K-5.  Spencer (7) is reading even farther ahead and can answer just about any question I have about my phone.

Please pardon the unbridled Noni enthusiasm.  Every grandmother reading this understands completely.

But smiling about the command these little people have over language reminded me of a story from my upcoming book.  In a chapter on Words, I write about the importance of choosing our words wisely.  Solomon said, "The power of life and death are in the tongue." (Proverbs 18:21) 

Such an incredible truth!

I've included an excerpt that tells of a friend who was unaware of how her words were impacting others.


I had a dear friend once who struggled in this area.  Her words were almost always negative.  Ali could paint incredibly vivid pictures of failure for anyone who dared to attempt something new.  She was a realist who pointed out shortcomings of all those around her.  If someone dropped the ball or made a mistake, Ali made certain the proper people were notified.

Conversations with Ali sapped me of energy.  I dreaded getting together with her for coffee or a meal. I sometimes avoided answering her phone calls.  A quote by C.S. Lewis perfectly describes the feelings I had but in a humorous way.  “It’s so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see them.”

 When I finally worked up courage to share my concerns with my friend, she was shocked.  “Well I don’t know what you’re talking about.  I’m the most positive person I know.”  It was my turn to be shocked. 

Ali literally had no idea the impact her words were having on others.  Fortunately, our talk ripped off a scab she had allowed to form over an old wound.  Ali began engaging in honest conversations with family and other friends.  One by one she discovered they felt the same way I did.

At a lunch meeting we had weeks later, Ali thanked me for being brave enough to share my concerns with her.  The solution for her problem wasn’t easy but it was so obviously simple.  My friend had to begin choosing life! 

Ali had to recognize the power of her words.  She had to measure their impact and change the way she talked.  She had to stop bringing death to each conversation and bring life instead.

The transformation took time but Ali eventually became an avid contributor to others.  People began seeking her out for counsel and encouragement.  Her choice to invest in them became a rich harvest of joy and fulfillment in her own life.

Let's all remember the admonishment given by the wisest man who ever lived.  "The power of life and death are in the tongue!" 






Followers