Sunday, March 24, 2013

But I CAN'T make lemonade!!

You know the phrase - "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade".

In other words, when life is hard and circumstances spring up outside of your control, do something good with them. Find the silver lining. Turn your situation around to find the good.

Well guess what? I'm allergic to lemonade.

Yep. So one of the world's most popular expressions will just give me hives.

I found out about a week ago. I've drank lemonade off and on my entire life, but recently, I've had it every day because I've cut other drinks out of my diet for right now. I think I had a build up of the stuff in my system, because every day for two weeks or longer I woke up with little pink hives on my forearms. So I tested the theory - skipped lemonade for 24 hours, and the next morning, was free and clear. Hmm. Okay, so that next night, I had a small glass before bed, and woke up the next morning not with hives, but with a swollen lower lip that would have made Angelina Jolie jealous.

Yeah. I'm allergic to lemonade.

I'm dealing with some pretty big lemons in my life lately, and I found the timing of it all really ironic. I had that conversation with God, and I feel like He led me to believe that sometimes, lemonade isn't the best choice.

Sometimes, the best thing to do with your lemons is just to leave them alone. Don't touch them, poke them, prod them, mess with them, squeeze them, or make juice out of them. Just leave them alone.

And see what GOD can make with your lemons.

So this waiting period I'm in continues, and I've moved on to Sprite, but I'm keeping an eye on my lemons and trusting that God has a specific, holy cocktail in mind that will be the best thing I've ever tasted. As long as I wait, and quit trying to make my own juice.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Give Me, Give Me

Did you know your moms can be selfish? I really don't like to admit it, but as a mom I've known to be selfish at times. I've hidden cookies so I could have them later, and I've extended my kids' nap time so I could read “one more chapter.” I've also gotten my family's schedule off track because I wanted to be the “good” mom. The mom who volunteered at church, who made it to Storytime at the library, and signed up my kids for all types of activities so I'd look as put together as my neighbor.

When my kids became teenagers, fixing their schedules to pump up my ego didn't work as well.

“Mom, I don't want to be in the homeschool production.”

“You want me to babysit for your group … even though it's my only free night? You're joking, right?”

“Mom, I'm not going to start a non-profit organization in my spare time … even if it will help me get better college scholarships!”

Of course, sometimes I'm no better when dealing with my husband. He's said “no” plenty of times when I've come to him about volunteering or adding on a new activity. “And, honey, just what are we going to cut out?” he often asks. (Good question!)

Whether it's the last cookie or a pat on the back, my selfish nature likes to flare up like a sunburn after a day at the waterslides. The best way to combat this—in big things and small—is to start my day thinking about others. (What a concept, I know!) These are questions I often ask myself:

If I could do one thing to put a smile on my husband's face, what would it be?

What have I been promising to do with my kids that I haven't gotten around to?

Of course when I'm being selfish, usually my family isn't the only one missing out. This self-focus spills over and often effects my extended family, friends, and even God. I don't know about you, but there are times I know what I could do that could make God happy, but my stubborn heart doesn't want to go there. Knowing that, here's another question:

What could I say, what could I do, to offer myself to God more than I did yesterday?

And you know what the amazing is? God's way works. I think selfishness makes me happy, but it never does. Likewise, even when I drag my feet to serve, I discover joy on the other side.

Proverbs 20:5 talks about this, “Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart, a wise person draws from the well within.” At the end of the day when I know what's right … and I do it … I am refreshed.

Speaking of which, I have a husband who I bet would love a back rub and a son who needs some one-on-one time. And, I think I'll lift up my heart, and my voice, in some praise songs as I shower today. I'm sure that'll make God smile. And I'll be smiling too.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Missing a Friend

In a few days, I will be attending a writer’s conference that has become a high point of my year. This is the place where, in addition to learning and getting inspired with new ideas, I reconnect with friends that I rarely get to see. This year, one very dear friend will be missing.

I met Ethel at my very first writer’s conference. In addition to having writing in common, she knew members of my family, so that created a special bond. Over the years, she critiqued my stories, I took her workshops, and she modeled what it meant to write and live for God’s glory. As we got to know each other more deeply, I trusted her with struggles and she became one of my most faithful prayer warriors. My mind is full of moments when she took time out of her busy schedule to pray with me, and responded to e-mails with words of love and wisdom that always included Scripture and reminders that God was at work. She was one of the first friends to greet me at the conference each year, with a long, tight hug and the most sincere, “Oh, it’s so good to see you, my dear.” I always made a point of sitting at her table for lunch or dinner, and we never left the grounds without spending some one-on-one time catching up. If I had grown in some area, she let me know, constantly reminding me how far I had come. 

Two years ago, I attended one of her classes just to hear her soothing voice and her beautiful teaching style. The workshop was on poetry, and I’m not even a poet, but I knew Ethel had been battling cancer and that one year I would attend the conference and she wouldn’t be there.

This is that year; Ethel passed away in October and will not be at the writer’s conference to greet me with a hug. I know I am not the only one who will feel her absence, and that many attendees join me in considering her one of their mentors, but that won’t make me miss her gentle, wise, uplifting presence any less. 

At the same time, missing Ethel reminds me of all the reasons why I thank God for the gift of her friendship. She was one of those friends who made me want to be more passionate about God, taught me a different definition of success, and loved me right where I happened to be at the moment. She was the kind of friend I want to be.

Have you ever had a friendship like this? If so, thank God for it, whether this friend is still around or not. What have your most special friends taught you about God, yourself, and what it truly means to be a good friend?

Take some time this week to tell your most precious friends what they mean to you.              

Sunday, March 10, 2013

By the time you read this...

By the time you read this, I'll be in the Colorado Rockies at the Captivating Women's Retreat, hosted by Stasi Eldredge  (

I'll be experiencing quite the climate shock, coming from north Louisiana, where it's been 60's, to a high of 28 and SNOW. My poor suitcase is busting at the seams from the layers of clothes I needed, since this southern gal is not used to packing for the white stuff.

But sometimes, climate shocks are just what we need to wake up, put our senses on alert, and be recharged. Refreshed. Renewed. Sometimes, you gotta put down the capri pants and grab a snowsuit. You know what I mean? :)

Routine can be dangerous. Downright lethal for your heart. Doing the same thing day in and day out, with no recharging of our soul's batteries can slowly poison us into compromising, settling, and even accepting resignation - you know the feelings. That "there's nothing to look forward to". "I  have no purpose". "Why am I even here" stuff that the enemy throws at us.

All lies, by the way. There is always hope, always something to look forward to. You DO have a purpose. You ARE here for a reason and God has fantastic plans for you! (Jeremiah 29:11)

Change is often very scary. But it doesn't have to be. Sometimes change can be exactly what our heart needed and we didn't even know it.

I realize that we can't always just jet off to Colorado for a women's retreat when our hearts grow stale. We can't always just skip school and take a day off to recharge. We can't always just go on vacation whenever we'd like.

But we CAN mix it up. I guarantee you, if you ask God to help make your time with Him more adventurous, He'll do it. If you ask God to reveal to you your purpose, He will. If you ask God to give you a hope for your future, He'd be happy to.

Just ask. Seek. Knock. Like the Bible tells us to do. That stuff is in there for a reason :)

As for me, I'm going to attempt to snowshoe without falling on my face. And if I do fall, well - what better wake up call than a face full of snow? :)   I'm going to be recharged. Refreshed. And renewed.

I pray God does the same in your heart, right where you are. Snowshoes or houseshose or sandals!

And that you won't be afraid to change your batteries.

Friday, March 08, 2013


Take a look at this blog post I wrote a few years ago. Be thankful for the family you have in your life!

I've always wanted a sister. I have one brother who is four years younger. He's a great guy, but no one understands like a sister . . . or so I've heard.

I never knew my biological dad. My mom got pregnant in college. He moved away before I was born. Then, when I was 27, I asked my mom about him. (I was always afraid to ask because I didn't want to bring up a difficult subject.) She gave me his name. I googled it. Within five minutes I had his home phone number. My mom called and told him about me. Then he called me.

Let me backtrack a little. You see, growing up my FAVORITE movie was The Parent Trap. Since I didn't know my dad I used to imagine I had a sister out there, somewhere, with him.

I soon discovered I had four.


Unfortunately, it didn't work out for me to meet them. I won't go into details, but I was disappointed. I prayed some day we'd make a connection.

Then last night, I received an email from one of my sisters. It was the most amazing thing. She'd heard about me and finally asked more questions. Brave and caring, she emailed me. Then today, a second sister did too. They both have tender hearts.

Fifty emails must have flown between us today--photos, small details of our lives, excited chatter.

It's weird to look at a photo and see my smile. Or look at another and seeing my daughter's hair, or my son's ears. Odd and wonderful too.

So tonight I think I'm going to have a hard time sleeping.

Because it seems that a whole new world has opened to me.


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Confessions of the New Kid

I was eight years old and my family had just moved. On the first day at my new school, my teacher, Mrs. Diangelo, assigned me a buddy named Carolyn. She hung out with me at recess and lunch, and even walked to the place where I was supposed to meet my mom after school. My classmates thought it was cool that I lived right across the street in the house with the giant oak trees hanging over it. I was the first visually impaired student to attend the school, so they were curious and eager to help instead of seeing it as a reason to be mean. If I had any negative experiences associated with being the new kid, I don’t remember them. Being new meant being special, and what eight-year-old girl doesn’t get into that?

Flash forward many years and I was once again the new kid. Well, I wasn’t exactly a kid anymore, and I had actually moved back to the city I grew up in from age eight on, but I had just left the place that doubled as my support system—a community where I “grew up” in many ways—so a part of me felt like a third-grader at a new school. This time around, sad circumstances prompted the move. Moving meant leaving the church where everyone knew me as a singer and a writer who also led one of the small groups at Bible study and taught writing workshops. It meant saying goodbye to the place where I felt . . . well . . . popular and cool for the first time since showing up in Mrs. Diangelo’s class, and the people who had just seem me through a very difficult time. Now, when I walked into church no one knew me. They had no idea that I sang, wrote professionally, or had so many friends back in Reno that I was falling behind on keeping in touch with everyone. Those I met also had no idea what brought me back. I was just me, the new kid. 

Then one day it hit, that in some ways, this could be a very good thing. The truth is I often struggled with wrapping my worth up in what I did. I often caught myself living as if my friends would forget I existed or think less of me if I wasn’t doing something impressive like singing a solo or writing a book. And then there was the ugly stuff that led to the move—the things that everyone back home knew about and so few knew the details of here. Suddenly if felt nice to walk into a Bible study with a friend and be introduced as just me. Those in the groups seemed perfectly okay with my generic answers to “So what brought you here?” When my friend mentioned that I was a writer, I felt no pressure inside to try to wow anyone. When this friend sent me a link to an announcement that the Easter choir season was about to start, knowing how much I loved to sing and missed choir and worship team, I shocked myself by deciding to wait until next year. Not that I didn’t wrestle with it, and still don’t struggle with the “Who am I now?” questions, but God is showing me that sometimes it is best to just be the new kid for a while.