My son’s first sermon

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 3:4

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4

The first time I heard the name Aaron, I turned to my husband at church and said,

“Our next son will be named Aaron.”

I loved the name Aaron for three reasons.

1. It looked cool. Two of the same letters next to each other in a name basically rocks and you know it.

2013-06-16 10.10.242. Spiritual – Though my Christian spiritual journey was evolving, I loved the idea of having kids with biblical names.

3. Professional – I had made a career throughout the country teaching presentation skills and even had my own consulting business working in the corporate world teaching executives about public speaking. The Aaron written of in the Bible was a great orator among other notable qualities.

In other words, I just had to have an Aaron!

So right there in the pew, next to my toddler Nathan and the Hubs, God delivered this name “Aaron” like a song and a promise to my soul.

Two years later, he was born. Nate called him his “miracle.” I had birthed my Aaron.

The name fits him perfectly. Aaron is a rising sophomore at Moody Bible Institute and an enthusiastic speaker, a wonderful olive shoot and a Jesus follower.

But I could never have imagined what would happen this past Father’s Day.

2013-06-16 11.03.48On Father’s Day, Aaron delivered his first sermon.

In front of our extended family, the gluten-free gf and other members of our con- gregation, the Hubs and I sat and listened to our Aaron preach.

Aaron and the gf/gf just before he got up to share the sermon

Aaron and the gf/gf just before he got up to share the sermon

His sermon was about the importance of fatherhood in the Christian home.

The Lord has blessed my ministry-minded middle with an affable personality and a comfort in front of crowds.

2013-06-16 11.00.56

Ike read the Scripture before his big brother gave the sermon. I don’t even think I owned a Bible when I was his age and if I did, I certainly never opened it. Thank you Lord for these glimpses of grace!

Of course, you know I am biased, but I would have listened to Aaron’s words even if he wasn’t my son. He delivered the message with conviction, thoughtfulness and passion.

At one point in the sermon, I turned to the gluten-free gf and felt very convicted about the message. I whispered to her, “I’m glad God didn’t make me a father. I’ll just be the mom, thank you, Lord, very much!” She smiled and agreed!

God gave the Hubs a gift on Father’s Day and He used our Aaron to deliver it. What a sweet blessing to behold and something I, this former angry agnostic, feminist, existentialist woman never would have imagined!2013-06-16 11.01.21

On Sunday morning, we saw the culmination of all the hard work my boy had poured tirelessly into his message. The hours researching, studying Scripture, praying, consulting with our pastor and seeking the Lord’s voice before he used his own were worth it.

The night before, he stayed up late going over his message with the gf/gf. I think she probably had that thing memorized.

What blessed me as a mom and as a church member was the reverence and time he gave to his message. This is not always the standard today.

I felt safe with the way he handled Scripture, Aaron’s words were measured and forceful yet he spoke humbly.  Aaron has been raised by a godly, Christian dad but he also acknowledged that he has no experience being a father.

As I listened to him speak, I recalled that Sunday morning when I first heard about an Aaron.

Now I was hearing from my own.

Wearing a new polo shirt purchased the day before, looking so handsome and adorable, full of the Spirit, oh, how could my heart contain such pride and joy!

Here is an excerpt of his sermon. I look forward to hearing many more. Don’t you just love it when your kids make you proud and do something you never imagined possible?!

Blustery heart

Leave a comment

photoA cold morning finds
a mama worried –
about a Soldier,
a ministry-minded middle
and an orange hair, freckle face olive shoot.
Tears flow.
They’re not in trouble or doing anything wrong (or at least not that I, I mean she know/s of!).

Two hours later
she reads Scripture for a weekly Bible study
Gently, unexpectedly
God tucks comfort and assurance into her heart.

“It is good for a man to bear the yoke

while he is young.”

Lamentations, of course, this totally makes sense
This mama can be
a big time lamenter

And just like that
Worries find solace and melt away.

On this January day
She breathes.

Some Good News for a change!

Leave a comment


I want good news. I long to hear joyful stories. Often it seems as if there is one sad tale after another, do you know what I mean? Can I get an amen?!

Seventeen years ago, while pregnant with my orange hair, freckle face olive shoot, I knew a mother at church who lost her newborn baby. My husband attended the memorial service; my emotions were too intense as to offer any comfort to the grieving family.

When I told an acquaintance of this news, she followed by telling me an equally sad story about a mom who had lost a child. Every time I shared the tragedy that I was familiar with, though my belly was full of baby, it was guaranteed the listener had to tell me something worse, usually about a child.

Soon I learned to not share information like this while pregnant. It felt like the world was competing to tell me the most heartbreaking lament. Plus the OJ Simpson trial had also started. Bad news loomed everywhere.

Today I want to share Good News!

First, it is Penguin Awareness Day (my favorite animal) = yay.

Second, Jesus loves you and cares = He alone is freedom and redemption, a mushy kind of love you have never experienced. I made a mess of my life, Christ cleaned it up. I continue to stumble and goof up, Jesus grants me new mercies each day.

I like to read the Bible in French. It’s such a beautiful language and God’s Word speaks to me differently when I employ these parts of my heart and brain. I have my English Bible and my French dictionary nearby just in case something doesn’t make sense since I’m quite rusty. But today as I read Marc 1:1-8 (La Bible du Semeur version) these two words stirred my soul.

Bonne Nouvelle

Bonne Nouvelle translates to Good News. In English we say “Gospel,” I just like it better in French.

This is the Bible reading I'm going to do for the next three weeks.

I’m doing the Deeper Into Scripture study for the next three weeks but the other ones look great too! Click here for info. 

Whatever language you speak, whatever your cir-cumstances, Happy day, sad day, seriously you need Good News, Bonne Nouvelle as badly as I do.

Different versions of the Bible in French! Formidable!

Different versions of the Bible in French! Formidable!

For the next 21 days, I’m participating in a Deeper Into Scripture: A 21-Day Plan Reading Plan through YouVersion. Although I’m involved in a weekly women’s Bible Study, I need more time with the Lord. I’m praying that this simple commitment will help me connect with God daily through His Word. I’d love some friends to join me. We can share Good News together, Lord knows we need it!

Here’s the link if you want to learn more. Scroll down the page on the link for all the options, you will find one for you! What have you got to lose? Reading the Bible could truly change your life!

Symbol of resilience

1 Comment

Two graduations + nine days apart + two different states does not equal a lot of time to write. Even now, though loaded with plenty of blog worthy material, I approach the keyboard with hesitation. I don’t know how some people can be so prolific, those fleeting moments I find in between required tasks leave me woefully exhausted.

But the women in my writers’ group are meeting this Wednesday and so I’m updating my blog. If you have read this far, thanks for at least checking in.

Easter pic of my mom and some of her grand babies

My mom is home from the hospital and skilled nursing facility. Seeing her recently alert and excited at my middle OS’s final drama performance blessed us all. Progress is being made, thank you Jesus.

Strange that a tiny thing I observed a month ago, a small speck of a creature should continue to have a prominent place in my mind. Let me explain…

A month ago I pushed a wheelchair down the hospital hallway. My thought at the time was the only person in need of inspiration was the woman occupying the chair, certainly not me. It had been nearly 10 days since my mom had entered the hospital for routine surgery and she was still there. The ceramic bunny had relocated to a destination unknown and now I wanted to get sprung. I was sick of this place. We needed to leave premises without delay!

As I lugged the wheelchair into the outdoor patio area, I spotted an inch worm slinking by the path. Lurching and undulating its body, there it went measure by measure in front of the two of us. Some people feel lucky finding a penny on the curb, for me finding this little looper was a priceless sign from God (and I’m not even joking).

My mom and Inchworm

Without my mother’s approval, I placed the inchworm on my mother’s hospital blanket. Had she the will to protest, she would have shooed the little guy off her. My digital camera captured the moments when Inchy (the name I have hereby bestowed upon him) and my mom met. It wasn’t love at first sight.

I urged Mom to take heed of Inchy’s perseverance and stamina. Look at him go, nary a twig or hospital blanket got in his way. Inchy’s small hairless hind prolegs drew his posterior body toward the front. And sure enough, ever vigilant Inchy pressed on and followed the motion by extending his posterior legs forward. He didn’t go too far and wasn’t swift but by golly, Inchy didn’t give up. Lo his tiny frame, Inchy never seemed intimidated by his surroundings or his diminutive size. 

One of Inchy’s cousins

Henceforth, each time I went to the hospital I headed to the outdoor patio area in search of my little buddy. Never was I concerned with passersby or whether someone figured I was a patient in the mental health ward. I just needed to see Inchy, plain and simple. The Hubs was with me on more than one occasion and yes, he thought I was nuts. 

You also may think of Inchy as a mere moth larvae but he metamorphosed my thinking and ridiculous joy swelled my heart (and I’m not even joking). Inchy inspired me to write, to hope, to trek on life’s distances regardless of the time it took or the impossibility of the journey. And with his lime green body, I appreciated the confidence with which he carried his quirky color. 

Although my mother didn’t and still doesn’t seem to get Inchy’s significance, my perspective changed that springtime day. So here’s what I’m wondering…have you ever experienced something like this when you see or feel a nudge from God in a most unexpected form? Without saying a word, Inchy reminded me to keep moving in a positive direction. 

Getting back to me

There’s nothing that gets me more in the writing mood than sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for a person who’s having a colonoscopy! Not sure what about this experience is inspiring me but to hear my fingers tapping away on the keyboard feels good. The chair I’m sitting in is ridiculously uncomfortable so I need something to get my mind off of the 90 minutes I’ll be here. I mean, there’s only so much tv I can watch and I’ve read the entire paper. I’ve checked facebook too many times already, so I thought I’d do something productive.

Since my last post, I have debated whether to write much about what I’ve been doing. I haven’t wanted my blog to be medical or pitiful but I have been struggling with health issues lately. One has been fibromyalgia (a new diagnosis), the other is depression (a recurrent battle). Not sure which one came first but after dealing with ongoing pain and feeling utterly hopeless, I dragged my sad self to the rheumatologist and started crying. I was at the point of terrible despair and when I left her office, I felt like I had a chance at a normal (whatever that is) life. I began some medication, made critical lifestyle changes and those things have helped me tremendously.

During this time, I asked the Hubs to pray for me. I know he has. He has asked others to pray for me and I’m sure he’s felt clueless on how to help me. When I wasn’t sure how much lower I could go and spent wayyyyyy too much time on the couch, I started to feel afraid that I was going to break my foot again. I felt unstable on my feet and envisioned another injury. I would hang onto a chair railing or the Hubs for fear of falling. Literally, I have found myself leaning on the Hubs. He, along with the Lord, have been my strength. He has made me laugh, supported me in every way, I love him dearly.

It’s been about three weeks since my doctor appointment and I was overjoyed when recently, I found myself bounding effortlessly up the stairs. Part of “me” has been coming back. I am walking without fear emotionally and physically!

And I have been exercising. I learned that it is absolutely critical for me to stay physically active. My doctor recommended this DVD and I began doing it immediately. Although it is a little cheesy, I have been faithfully using it and noticing the results. If you are looking for an exercise program that is adaptable and encouraging, I think these are great! Exercising in the comfort and privacy of my own home has been a better choice for me than the gym at least for right now.

Recently I was talking to my oldest OS and in previous conversations, I shared with him that I had really been struggling. Since he’s a young, busy man with his own life, I wasn’t sure if he recognized his mama’s plight.

But I was wrong.

We were talking on the phone recently and I said, “Nathan, I have something to tell you…” My OS made a dry-witted, West Point tough comment and I interrupted him, “Seriously, Nathan, listen to me. I want you to hear this. I am feeling better.” Then I heard words I wasn’t expecting.

“That’s great, Mom. I’ve been praying for you.” Oh, dear friends, I nearly dropped to the ground with thankfulness. He said something else to me also. “I’ve had some of my buddies praying for you too.”

The only thing sweeter to me than the thought of a group of Soldiers/Cadets praying for me is the image of my precious OS sitting around with his buddies and caring enough to ask for his friends to do so.

About the same time that I had seen the doctor and began implementing changes, my boy was lifting his struggling mama up to the Lord. I’m sure the things I have improved in my health but I also know that God’s Word is true.

Matthew 18:19-21 (New International Version)

 19“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

The colonoscopy is over, things went well. I need to go walk a couple of miles in my bedroom but it feels good to be back and sharing. More later on Nate’s television “appearance” and other life events. 

On the road to redemption


One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the LORD’s
great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I have these verses displayed in my office. As a Christmas gift, how apropos that Ike gave me an adorable small framed print of these words created by a gifted friend and artist. Click here for more details.

These words have been put in action the last four days. As parents we have experienced a humbling and tiring weekend. Phone calls, conversations and consequences have substituted the normally scheduled events. I am not complaining, it has been absolutely necessary and cleansing. It is not a weekend I care to repeat but if necessary, we will repeat but I’d rather not. Join with me now in a group prayer…Please, oh Lord, let us not repeat last weekend!

As my orange hair, freckle-face OS continued the Apology Tour on Sunday, the Hubs and Ike headed to yet another girl’s house to ask for forgiveness. I can only imagine my OS’s heart was pounding as he neared each girl’s house, walked up to the front door and shook the hands of her mom and dad preparing to apologize to the young lady he had offended.

And it was while going “there” that the Lord also placed a beautiful symbol of hope in the midst. As the Hubs drove, Ike sat with a plate of homemade, fresh from the oven, from scratch chocolate chip cookies on his lap, my youngest OS looked up to the sky and saw something unexpected. He saw a rainbow.

I didn’t see it and I love rainbows. It wasn’t meant for me. Aaron didn’t see it and he thinks rainbows are pretty cool. Apparently Aaron didn’t need a rainbow at the moment either. I believe that my OS, the one who most needed to feel hope and promise, was given this beautiful sign from the Lord.

I doubt there was an orange hair, freckle face teenage boy in the entire world on Sunday who needed a rainbow more than Ike. Some people might view this as a mere coincidence but not me. Think whatever you like but we don’t get a lot of January rainbows around these here parts. According to our Christian faith, rainbows are symbols of God’s faithfulness. God placed a rainbow in the sky as a sign of his covenant with Noah to never again destroy the earth and all living creatures by flood.

In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, John saw a rainbow around the throne in heaven.

And on a Sunday when I believe my OS needed a reminder that the Lord was with him, my OS looked up to the sky and He spoke to my baby. His child. His rainbow. Our hope.


Oh what a beautiful day!

Leave a comment

I am always confused on October 8. Do I feel sad? Is it okay to feel happy? Am I a bad person if I forget? Am I not moving on if I want to cry? It’s 24 hours that I want to hurry up and get over with already.

October 8th is the day my dad died. It was 24 years ago.
But I don’t want to talk about the strangeness of the day. It is what it is and I muddle through it one way or the other. Rather, I want to share with you how the Lord smiled on this day, thanks to a magnificent day at Duke Gardens and two of my awesome OS.

Early this afternoon, Aaron, Ike and I journeyed to enjoy 55 acres of horticultural heaven. There wasn’t a place on the premises that wasn’t breathtaking and inspiring. With my guys home for Fall Break, I wanted to do something today but I wasn’t certain they would consider hanging out with me, in a garden no less, to be their version of fun. What a blessing when Aaron, my 15 year old OS enthusiastically announced that he wanted to go!

Ike brandished the camera and took most of the shots. We saw the coolest pond with remarkable water plants. I was walking to the pond when the OS motioned for me to pay attention. I hadn’t seen the blue heron directly ahead. It was perfectly motionless, as if it were just waiting for its picture to be taken. Then suddenly, it stealthily inched forward and nabbed a goldfish in its pointy beak. My orange haired, freckle-faced nearly 13 year old OS captured the moments as the heron gulped the goldfish down its skinny neck! What a sight to see! I also think we heard the heron burp!

We loved the bamboo plants, the American Beautyberry with its juicy purple berries, the ZigZag Bridge, really everything. And I just wished we had Smell-a -Vision because y’all, our noses were equally delighted with fragrances of apricot, roses and gardenia filling the air.

There are moments when being a mom is truly wonderful. If you have read some recent posts, you are aware that I have also recently experienced days when mothering has been grueling!
Throughout our two hour stroll, I had been saying that the Lord had truly blessed this day and to my delight, Aaron offered a heartfelt “Amen!” to my comments.

And I laughed when I started to complain that my rickety knee was annoying me and Aaron echoed that his hip was bothering him and Ike chimed in that his ankle was beginning to hurt! How splendid that we all made it through the afternoon nearly pain-free!

So I approached October 8 with some trepidation but saw that the Lord allowed me a joyous day far beyond what I could have expected. If you are like me, you probably have a day or two which you dread, may this post offer you a new perspective.

Bracelets of hope in an El Salvadoran prison

1 Comment

The plans had been for us to speak at a university while in San Salvador. We had made a nice slide presentation about purity and were looking forward to the opportunity to share our message with college students.

But as I should have learned by now, things don’t always go according to plans and we learned Thursday night that we wouldn’t be speaking there after all. I was a little disappointed but assumed that God had other plans for us. We were given the choice between staying at home while the rest of the team did the medical clinic at the girls’ prison or joining them and finding something to do. That was an easy choice.  We decided to go back to prison.

I can honestly say I was looking forward to going back to prison. Wow, that is a strange sentence I never expected to write!

Beth Anne and I scrambled Thursday night brainstorming about what we could do with the girls in prison. We had enjoyed such a precious time with them the day before, what else we do with these girls given the restrictions and the limited time and resources we had available? The Lord, always faithful, gave me an idea, something I had seen American girls do and with a quick google search, our plans were underway.

At the prison, while everyone else on our team organized the medical aspect of our visit, BA and I got permission to meet with another group of girls, those serving much longer sentences than the ones we had seen the day before.

As we gathered around a table, with prison guards patrolling the grounds right outside the gated windows and a steady breeze wafting through the open air walls, we were blessed to share our message with them.

I even saw a few guards peeking in to hear our presentation. These girls were a little tougher and wilder than the last batch but seemed genuinely interested in hearing about “pureza” (purity) and having a fresh start through Christ.

After we were finished we asked the girls, “Do you want to do a little project?” “Si!” they all shouted.

At first I was going to just tell the girls that we were going to make some little bracelets but then I got an inspiration and with a quick nudge to BA, I said, “Would you like to make bracelets of esperanza?”

Esperanza means hope and I think it’s such a beautiful word, in Spanish. Even more excitedly the girls said, “Si!” I was encouraged already!

So this is what we did.

First we dipped little strips of cotton material in water. Once wet, we placed the strips on the table and began rolling the strips diagonally.

It was great how the Lord supplied all our needs because in addition to having plenty of fabric around the house the night before, we also found a bunch of beads and brought them along with us to the prison.

After the girls had rolled their fabric all up, they began adding beads to their bracelets of hope. I told these El Salvadorian girls that I saw a lot of American girls wearing these in the States.

They intently worked on their bracelets and even Font sizecame up with a few cool variations. I loved seeing their individuality expressed in their bracelets and they even made bracelets of hope for their friends and some family. They worked nicely together and were very kind and respectful to us. Even the toughest and hardest of people still deserve a fresh start.

When we finished, we asked if we could take their pictures. We were forbidden to take pictures of the girls’ faces but this was not a problem, we simply took pictures of their hands.

If you look at this picture below, you will see an old, white hand with a thin, silver wedding band on one finger.

It’s the hand without a watch and um, that hand belongs to me ;).

The reason I placed my hands there is one of the girls was embarrassed about her hands. I’m not sure what had happened to them but she had dark blue markings or burnings on her knuckles. It would have scared me in the real world!

I didn’t want her excluded from the picture and so desperately wanted a picture with her, I offered her a solution. I put my hands over hers so no one would see them. All of our hands are over a piece of paper where I wrote:

Esperanza = Hope

It was one of many bittersweet moments I experienced in the prison. Check out the lemon in the picture. Apparently the girls like to eat lemons!

One by one, the girls placed the bracelets of esperanza on each other.

They made them for all the members of our team.

I have many new pieces of jewelry at home that I rarely wear but since returning home from El Salvador, with a few minor exceptions, I haven’t taken my bracelet of esperanza off my wrist.

A meager bracelet made only of a small swatch of fabric and a few cheap plastic beads is among my most treasured possessions.