A surprise from far away

I’m usually not one for surprises, but this one was good!

Last week, we returned from celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving and arrived home to a pile of mail and a yard full of leaves.

Sam sent us a text asking us to Skype with her at 11:30 pm our time. I don’t know about you all but I’m getting old, and 11:30 is way past when I really want to start a Skype call. But for my college daughter on the other side of the country, I’ll stay up.

She then added, “I know it’s late but I have someone I want you to meet.”

You are now all thinking what Dave was thinking, “WHAT????”

And he began firing off the messages, “What’s his name? How old is he?” Sam answered back with a name and age 19. Followed by, “No more questions, Dad. You’ll meet him tonight!” Which of course sent Dave into a torrent of questions and quick sent texts.

From the get-go I thought this was odd and not at all like Sam — UNLESS it was a joke to get her father going. Which if anyone knows anything about my hubby’s side of the family this possibility is completely and utterly conceivable and probable.

{The Surprise: Sam was flying across the country with the whole idea of sending her parents into a momentary state of shock.}

We had no idea she was coming. We knew she had a midterm break but she had informed us that she was going to a friend’s house. That fell through so she, instead, planned, schemed and secretly plotted with her friends to pull off this surprise.

That evening, Dave and I lounged on the couch watching Netflix and both commented on how low the 11 PM flight was coming in as we watched it fly over our backyard — not knowing our daughter was on board.

With my pj’s on, I settled into bed and readied myself for Sam’s skype call.

But an odd thing happened about 11:28 PM.  A car pulled into our driveway.

We heard doors open and close. Dave and I looked at each other: “Who’s here?”

Dave bolted out of bed and ran down the stairs.

“Where’s he going?” I thought. “He’s going to miss Sam’s skype call!”

{He later told me, “As soon as I heard the car and looked at the time, I knew it was Sam!” }

The front door opened and I heard voices. Loud, exuberant talk along with commotion and movement.

Now as a ministry family, we get calls and visitors at all times of the night and day.

So in full disclosure, I thought: “Oh, great! Someone’s here and they sound like they’re drunk. I’m gonna have to get dressed and go downstairs. AND I’m going to miss Sam’s skype call”

I headed toward my bedroom door; it whipped open and there stood Sam, “Hi, Mom!”

You might think I jumped up and down in excitement and covered her with hugs. But you would be wrong.  Instead my jaw dropped to the floor and I stood there in disbelief.

Me: “What are you doing here?”

Sam: “I came to see you.”

“How’d you get here?”

“I flew.”

“You flew??? — I thought you had a chemistry exam today.” (typical mother statement)

“I did. I finished the exam, then got on a plane and flew here. — Can I have a ‘welcome home’ hug?”

I barely patted her. I really didn’t think this was real. I was sure I would wake up at any moment from this crazy, overly tired, drug-induced dream.

It took me another 15 minutes before I conceded to the fact that I wasn’t sleeping and that she really was standing there in my bedroom.

To say I was surprised would be an understatement. It was more like shock and disbelief.

kids airport

Her surprise visit was awesome and it was wonderful to have her here.

It was a typical college student’s visit home. Her suitcase was filled with dirty laundry. She slept in late and ate all her favorite foods. There was no cafeteria in sight, only home-cooked meals with a few excursions to our favorite Wings over Ithaca and Five Guys.

Once again, all the places at the table were filled.  The house was noisy, messy and all-together right.

We put her back on a plane yesterday at 5 pm. She landed in Seattle about 12:15 this morning.

After receiving her text telling us she had landed back on the west coast safely, I laid in bed and reveled in this idea:  “7 hours. It only took her 7 hours to fly across the country…..she’s not as far away as I thought!”

And that was a good thought for this happy mama!

airport 2a


Another Trip Around the Sun

I’ve made another trip around the sun.

Little Matthew pointed out I’m now the same number. — 4 and 4….how cool is that, Mommy?”

I’ve also reached a ½ way mark in my life. My years with Dave are now more than my years without him. We’ve been together for more than ½ my life.

Each new trip around the sun brings more moments to remember. Moments of joy and the not so joyful.

This was my first birthday with my Sam away at college and it was sad. There was a void at the table — something I’m still not altogether comfortable with.

Another sad is that birthdays just aren’t the same with Mom not being here…even after 11 years. There’s something about mom and birthdays that go together. She always sang a special song on our special day. She made it up some time early in our journey because I always remember her singing it. Each year without her song brings to the forefront the fact she’s not here.

With those things tumbling around in my mind, my birthday seemed a jumble.

turn of the sun

I headed into Sunday morning a jumble of a mess.  My thoughts were filled with memories from the years. — Birthdays with mom… first celebrations with Dave… little cards and pictures drawn by Sam….  all tumbling and jumbling around.

The worship team began singing and my mind continued tumbling through the years.

Tumbling over moments where His fingerprints are seen as evidence of His faithfulness.

  • The young Sunday School years — learning about Cheese Nip crackers, flannel graphs and how Jesus loves me.
  • The tough teen years filled with nights covered in a mama’s prayers.
  • Finding love with the one who still holds my hand.
  • Learning what it is to birth life. The nurse hands that life over for the first time and I wonder, “How do I hold this thing?” And now that thing has grown into herself and I’m wondering, “How do I let go?”

His faithfulness is in every moment.

As the worship songs continued, the tears came and gratitude swelled. Through the whole mix of the contemporary songs, I worshiped. At the end, Dave began playing that song from my childhood:

“I love you, Lord. And I lift my voice, to worship You, Oh, my soul, rejoice.

Take joy, my King, in what You hear.  Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.”

In my mind’s eye, I am 8 years old again. I’m standing at children’s camp with small arms raised and heart sincere. I softly sing out the words — “I love you, Lord…and I lift my voice…” I’m innocent, tender, and completely trusting in His faithful love.

Each turn around the sun reveals more fingerprints of His faithfulness.

This last Sunday for me, completed another turn.  It reminded me that for 4 and 4 years He has been faithful; and for 4 and 4 more He will remain faithful still.

My prayer is that through this next turn of the sun, my voice will worship Him even more and that the words I speak and pound out through this keyboard will be a sweet sound to the One who hears.




My Kitchen Sink – FlyLady Ready? – #FMF

Here we are back at one of my favorite days—FRIDAY!  We are joining up with Kate Motaung and the gang over at Five Minute Friday.  This is where we all write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes.  No over-editing, no over-thinking, just free-writing.  If you would like to join us, click here.

Our word prompt this week:  CARE


Last night, I cleaned my kitchen sink.  I FlyLady cleaned it!

I was finishing up the last of the dishes when I noticed grime and gunk all over the back of my sink.  Black yuck in the crevices and hard water spots on the stainless steel finish.

After Emily finished drying and putting away the dishes. I brought out the old toothbrush along with the Comet powder and began scrubbing away at the gunk!

Satisfaction was coming easy. I scoured up and down the backsplash, moved onto the counter.  Then I noticed my canisters!  Yuck!  How did they get so filthy?  And the knife wood block —- disgusting!

I was beginning to think I was going to be smacked by some FlyLady swatter for all this dirt and grim in my seemingly clean kitchen.

I went back to the sink and finished up with all the steps…including spraying down the sink with Windex and wiping dry any water spots!

Spotless, shiny…and almost blinding!  (How long is this going to last in a family of 5?)

Thinking I was done for the night, I left the kitchen.

Then I remembered the coffee for the morning.

I returned to the kitchen.  Turned on the faucet to fill the coffee pot and realized I now have more water spots on the kitchen sink surface.  So I retrieved the towel and dried the water spots again —  I can’t have dried water spots in my kitchen sink!

I left the kitchen again and actually made it to the couch before realizing I had left out the lasagna to cool on the kitchen table.  It needed to be covered and put away, along with cleaning the spatula and knife covered in lasagna scraps.

Again…I dirtied the sink!  How is a woman suppose to keep her sink clean, shiny, and blindingly sparkly?

And that’s when it hit me. I’ve changed!

Years ago, I did the whole FlyLady clean sink thing…for about a week!

But this is what I’ve come to know:  I care more for the sanity of those who live with me, along with my own sanity, more then I care whether I have rings of dried water spots left on my stainless steel sink.

I can drive my family crazy with knit-picky details about how I want things done and miss the whole idea of caring for them.

I want instilled in their hearts —  people before things.  I care more that they love Jesus,  their siblings, and others more than helping me keep my kitchen sink spotless.

And now, as I look across my kitchen table to my shiny, sparkly sink, I ask myself, “How long will it last?

Answer:  About as long as it takes for the first lovely human being in my home to descend the stairs and turn on the faucet.  And I’m okay with that!

Caring about details moves from things to people.  That’s what I care about and that’s who I love.



DISCLAIMER:  This is NOT a bash on FlyLady.  I believe she does a great job of getting people organized and proficient in their household habits.  I believe she would even agree, she’s not after perfection but progress! :)  Happy Friday, everyone!

Lining Up with Truth

I’m a natural pessimist.

If something could go wrong in my world…it happens in my mind before it’s reality.

I’m the one, who while waiting for my friend for our breakfast date, will see an ambulance zoom by with lights flashing and sirens blaring and I’m sure my friend is dead in the ditch.

I begin lamenting the loss of my friend and exercising all my mental capacities of how I’m going to cope in the coming days with her loss.

Then, while in the depths of despair, I check my phone, find her text message and read: “I’m home sick… not going to make it, sorry!”

I’m elated!  Not because she’s sick but because SHE’S ALIVE!

Yes, that’s me! The twisted friend with a pessimistic outlook on life.

We can laugh at me and say, “That’s crazy!” but how often do we let our thoughts carry us to places of fear and insecurity. Fears that are not actualized.

We often stop ourselves from moving forward into something new. Stopping ourselves before we ever get started simply through our thought process.

  • “I’m going to fail anyways, why even try?”
  • “I’m no good at this!”
  • “I’m not smart enough to accomplish…”
  • “I’m too old…”
  • “I’m too young…”

We plant excuses in our heads and speak words of defeat before even starting on a journey.

I began to notice this pattern in my own life as I headed out into this blogging world.  I would have thoughts of “Why write?”

  • No one will read it
  • No one will care what I have to say
  • This is going nowhere…

And I’m defeated before I begin.

Yet this is what I’ve learned in this journey:  Doing something new is hard work.  Doing something for God is hard work.

Our own insecurities and thought patterns can keep us in a place of defeat and fear.

So how do we move forward despite our fears?

  1. Recognize the fear – Step back and evaluate the thoughts. “Is there truth behind the thoughts I’m thinking?” or “Is this a perceived thought coming from my own fear or insecurity?”
  2. Line up with truth – What is the truth in the situation? Line up the facts and truth against the fears and insecurities. Readjust thoughts to reflect the truth.
  3. Move in a positive direction – Instead of focusing on the fear, place the focus on truth and  what you’ve already come through and accomplished. With those thoughts in their right perspective, we can move forward, not letting fear hold us back.

These steps can help us move away from a place of fear and move into new opportunities with courage.

I love this quote of Michael Hyatt

Whenever we have the potential to do something important or extraordinary, we will be tempted to stay inside our comfort zone. But the truth is we never do anything of real significance in our comfort zone.

God has some pretty extraordinary things planned for us… more than we can imagine or comprehend, yet if we stay in our comfort zone, not moving forward because of fear or insecurity, we can miss the best He has planned for us.

I’m sure you’re like me, wanting to move forward into all He has planned. So let’s not allow fear to hold us back but instead let’s Recognize fears, Line up with truth and Move in a positive direction.













Learn Something New – #fmfparty

Yay, it’s Friday! And I’m ready for some weekend!

Today we are linking up with Kate Motaung and the ladies at Five Minute Friday.  We all write for 5 minutes on the same word prompt…no major editing or over thinking just free writing.  If you would like to join us, you can here.

Our prompt word for today is: NEW


“I’ve learned something new today…now I can go back to bed.”

That’s one of our favorite sayings in this household. Especially when we are tired and the morning comes too soon.  We kiddingly say, “learn something new, accomplished mission, go back to bed!”

And sometimes it’s nothing really complicated or difficult and most of the time it’s some useless fact that doesn’t really impact my every day but it’s something new…and who knows when it will come in handy….those useless facts of useless information.

But I am learning there is nothing useless when God is our teacher and bestower of all good and perfect things for He wastes nothing… and everything is valuable and useful…even the difficult and hard.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another — showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG)


Matt began Kindergarten this year and it is so fun to watch him learn. There is nothing like when a child grasps a new truth and holds on to it. His eyes light up with that look of, “Wow! That’s amazing!”

He shared his new truth at lunch, “Dad… ten 10’s make 100!” And his smile beamed across the kitchen table.

It’s a simple, old and ancient truth, but it was made alive to him because it was a new truth for him.  His eyes were seeing and his ears were hearing.

May our eyes and ears be continually open — receiving the simple yet profound Truths from our Heavenly Father who is steadfast and sure — creative and original.

He is a constant feeder of solid knowledge. He opens our eyes and ears to His Truth when we keep ourselves in the place of receiving.

My prayer is “Teach me, Lord. Give me ears to hear what you are saying, eyes to see what you are doing and a heart that understands and obeys your instruction.”

May I always have days when I learn something new.




He Loved First ~ Five Minute Friday

Wow, these Fridays roll around fast.  We are here with Kate Motaung again and the gang at Five Minute Friday.  We are given a word prompt and each write for 5 minutes.  And today will literally be 5 minutes, since I’m heading out the door for a conference.  Our word prompt this week:  Because


I am not perfect at love.  I wish I was better.

Better at loving, better at being kind, better at building others up with my words and actions.

It’s a fight to put aside my own self and look to the needs of others.  It’s one thing to see the need, another to do something about it.  I can see needs but how often do I put them aside to accomplish and be about getting my own agenda done for day.

And often those deeds to be done aren’t huge and hours of time would not be needed instead they are small, like a smile and kind word to the slow cashier or a wave to the one who is in more of a hurry than me.

It may be small but putting myself in the place of serving others instead of serving myself does something in me.

I’m not perfect and I have my failings.  I’m not always kind, even though I would want people to think that about me.  How easily we conceal instead of live real.

So today I’m living real.  Living in the place of listening for ways to love and doing it well.

I’m not perfect in my loving yet I am perfectly loved.  And because He loves so well…so perfectly, I’m learning to love better. Because He loved first.




It’s Our Time and Our Place #TellHisStory

I’m from a small, farming community in Southwest Iowa. It’s in ‘fly over country’, as some might say.

On one of our final days of our 28-day-journey, we were visiting my hometown’s museum.

My sister and I went from exhibit to exhibit, reading the stories of those from before and my heart whispered again, “Each one is a story…and He knows them all.”

museum pic

I stood there surrounded by pictures, artifacts and writings from earlier days and this simple truth dropped into my mind:

In their time, they were just living their days. They simply worked hard, plowed their fields, taught their children and washed their clothes.   Their focus wasn’t fame or how their picture would someday hang on the wall of a museum. Yet now we read their stories and we marvel at their perseverance, their fortitude and their willingness to live out their story despite hardship, sickness and loss all mixed in.

For the stories of our lives, He marks out our appointed times in history and the places where we live.

God placed us at our particular place and time in the story so that in the living out of our days we would find Him there in the midst of it all. (Acts 17:26-27)

Our story is important and makes a difference.

It’s our time —- the time when He placed us.

It’s our place —-the place where He planted us.

It’s in our time and our place where we make the difference for Him.

Our story line weaves in and out with others. We’re not a solitary book on the shelf but our lives are a part of a series with many editions, preludes and sequels.

One leads to another… one life touches another.

We each are a story written with purpose.

We may feel our bindings are worn and our dust covers are gone… we may have torn pages and feel that somewhere a chapter has gone missing.

But just as we have to read some stories all the way until the end before it all makes sense, we also must trust God, the Author of our stories, until the end to see the meaning in it all.

We may never end up on a museum wall or be rich, famous or known by the masses, yet our story matters.

We each have a place we are going….we each have a place we have been.

There are still chapters to be written, still characters to enter and some who will leave. There are great moments of love, adventure and excitement along with many days of just “plowing the fields and washing the clothes.”

Our story will bend, twist and sometimes throw us off-balance. Yet when we trust The Author, we see even in the not so pretty chapters there is beauty in our stories…written with love and purpose.

Our challenge is to be okay with our story.  Be okay with where He has placed us and when He has placed us here.  He knows what He’s doing…Let’s trust Him…the Author of our faith.


Linking up today with Jennifer Lee Dukes