Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Memorial Day...a day meant to remember. This day, originating after the Civil War, was designed to remember those who have given their lives fighting for the freedoms that we enjoy in the United States. Well, I spent my Memorial Day doing a different kind of remembering!

Mom and I in a sea of memories and laughter!
 My mother's frequent flier miles gave me the opportunity to spend four days this past weekend with my parents in Temperance, Michigan...remembering! Due to their upcoming retirement this fall, it was high time to go through my belongings that had stayed at their place when I went to college, when I got married and when we moved to Mexico...and decide what to do with all that stuff!

Wearing the ol' cap and gown again!
So, Mom and I found ourselves knee-high and laughing in a sea of memories! Besides going through box after box of papers, VBS crafts and journals, I spent the weekend reliving some of the activities that I most cherished growing up: bike rides with each of my parents, walking at a local metropark, pizza on Saturday night, sleeping in my bedroom (Mom even put the Holly Hobby bedspread on the bed!), watching the evening news, taking a walk in the field behind the house, playing piano duets with Mom and going to church. You see, once Dad retires they will be moving south in order to spend part of the year with my brother and his family in Florida and the other part of the year with us in Mexico. So, this weekend was not only a sorting weekend but a time to remember and relive special moments in the only home I knew growing up.

Me and my Holly Hobby bedspread from just a few years ago :-)  (More like 30 some years ago!)
Historians tell us that it serves us well to remember and, after this weekend, I fully agree! Remembering, and reliving, moments that provided me with stability and the foundation I needed as a child, in order to spread my wings in obedience to God as an adult, renewed the vision that I have for the home that I strive to provide for our children, especially considering the fact that the majority of them experienced anything but stability prior to joining our family. I have returned to Mexico with renewed energy to stand firm in stability-building-activities such as: making the kids make their beds everyday, daily devotions, simple birthday celebrations, listening well, good night blessings and good morning kisses, shared meals, and taking time to play together, among others.

Dad and I heading out on a bike ride
Secondly, rummaging through boxes of documents commemorating my birth, through elementary school, junior high, high school, college, our marriage and up to Josiah's birth, including my first Young Author's Conference at age 6, pictures and my journal from Creation '89 where I gave my life to the Lord, memoirs from my first trip to Mexico at age 16 and letters from classmates as we prepared to graduate from high school, I realized that I had truly received a huge blessing from the Lord in that my parents gave me the freedom to be who God had created me to be from a very young age, and that that little blonde 6 year old doesn't look much different from this 38 year old, other than having gone through normal and expected maturing: physically, spiritually and emotionally. Seeing physical evidence of that continuity and integrity greatly comforted my soul and encouraged me to continue being me (Fancy that!) and to continue pursuing those things that I have always loved, was created to love, and those areas in which the Lord has gifted me: writing, mothering, looking at life in a positive way, playing piano and violin and to keep on smiling!

Mom and I at the metropark (Dad took the picture!)
Even Jesus told His disciples to “do this in remembrance of me”, commanding them to partake in an activity, the Lord's supper, in order to remember all that He had done and been here on earth, not for the sake of remembering, but for the sake of those memories providing a launching pad for the disciplies to then move into all that He had prepared for them to be and do.

Memories are not meant to be a muddy marsh that bog us down, but a springy trampoline that launches us into all that will be! I sure had fun this past weekend jumping on the trampoline of the memories that the Lord has sown in my life! Now, to move onto the harvest!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Power of a Good Story

    (May you enjoy the pictures scattered throughout this blog documenting some of my reading times with the kids over the years.)

 Bedtime reading with Caleb, Danny and Miguel

      I love reading! And, I love reading to our kids! I read to them during devotions right after breakfast. Right now we are reading a Max Lucado book that highlights different Biblical characters in each chapter with discussion questions at the end. (If you imagine a great, deep, applying-Biblical-principles-to-daily-life, round-table type scenario, then you need to reset your imagination. Most days we finish morning devotions and I have only a glimmer of hope that some little seed of something landed on some half-decent soil in at least some child's heart that, by the grace of God, may bring some fruit in about 20 some years!) We read “Our Daily Bread” and its accompanying Scripture references for devotions after supper as a family (followed by several riddles or jokes to end the meal laughing together). The four youngest hear me read a storybook at bedtime, along with “The Bible for Little Eyes” (same one my parents read to us when my brother and I were little), as well as its accompanying comprehension questions. The middle kids get to hear “Don't Leave Your Brain at the Door” by Josh McDowell for bedtime devotions and discussion. As the kids grow they do more and more of the reading in each one of these situations.
Reading on the playground during recess.  

     However, one reading time that I don't give up to anybody, not even to a fellow teacher, is when I read out loud to the kids for at least 15 minutes during their morning recess at 11:00 a.m.  Those are some of my favorite 15 minutes of the day....all of the kids gathered on the front porch, several finishing up their mid-morning snack, and I get to transport us to another time, another place and tell a story!

Reading during recess in our schoolroom.

     Where did I learn the power of a story? First, from the Word Himself! It doesn't take long as one reads the Gospels to realize that Jesus loved to tell a good story, and not just for the story-telling sake of its telling! He knew that stories moved hearts and brought lessons home like no sermon on any mount would! I suppose He got his love for stories from His Father who, after all, named Him the Word!

Reading on the porch with Ruth, David, Ana and Caleb.

     My own father, also my pastor, and a master word crafter par excellence, taught me the power of a story. From my weekly perch on the wooden pew every Sunday for my first 18 years of life, I listened to his stories support, exemplify, draw us in and apply Biblical truths to our daily lives.  
     Then there was my mother. She loves reading and could never be caught without a Guideposts or Reader's Digest in her purse for those moments when you have to wait and wait on something. She could rewrite Mary Poppins' famous diddy to say: “Just a good little story makes the wait seem much shorter, the wait seem much,  shorter....” Growing up, our third address was the local library (after our home and church, of course). Preschool storytime and summer reading programs formed part of our routine. In fact, we spent many hours at the library each summer. Mom, of course, wanted to instill in us a love for reading, but could all the summer hours spent there also have had to do with the fact that the library had air-conditioning while our home did not?

Reading in the hammock with Ana, Danny and Ruth.

     Finally, Mrs. D'Alton, my fifth grade teacher, cemented in my being the value of reading out loud. I cried when my fourth grade report card informed me that I would sit under the strict tutelage of Mrs. D'Alton my entire fifth grade year. I begged my mother to go to school right away and get me transferred to a different classroom, as Mrs. D'Alton's reputation had preceeded her presence in my life. Mom wisely told me to attend Mrs. D'Alton's class for one week and then we would revisit the topic. So, the fall of 1986 arrived and I became one of Mrs. D'Alton's students. A week into school Mom asked me if I still wanted to change classrooms. “Not on my life!” You see, everyday after recess we would all stream back into the classroom, Mrs. D'Alton would pull her wooden stool front and center and begin reading out loud. “Where the Red Fern Grows”, “The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles” and other incredible stories transported me from that fifth grade classroom to new dimensions!

Reading in the office with Carolina, Ruth and Ana.

     So, now, everyday after recess, we gather on the porch and I bet on the power a story! We have read the entire Narnia series twice, “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh”, and several of the Ramona Quimby books, among others.  A few weeks ago, we began the classic “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon from whence came the infamous question: “What would Jesus do?” It is a story that changed my life as an adolescent. I pray, and ask you to do so as well, that the Word and spinner of parables would use this story to touch the hearts and lives of my children, so that they may, in turn, touch the hearts and lives of others.
    So, go, find a good story and may its power transport and transform you!

Reading in the living room with Jocelin, Fidel, Ruth, Diana, Martita, Caleb and Martha.