Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I have this problem.  Well, my husband sees it as a problem...I see it more as a strength but... it can be a problem.  

I put myself in whatever book, movie or TV show I happen to be watching.  Hence, I may get a little too attached to the characters.  

So when my mother-in-law and sister-in-law introduced me to Heartland.  I immediately decided the spunky, talented and beautiful protagonist Amy could be my alter ego for the show.   Amy has an incredible gift of listening to horses and understanding what they need to be trained properly. 

The show is really very wholesome (it is Canadian after all).  And I just love to watch myself....I mean Amy.... work with the horses.  I love how she gets a random idea and tries it.  

I love how she listens. 

I want to listen like that. The thing is, I have no horses.  

I do however, have small children.  

So what would it be like if I really listened to my kids?

Here are some notes I took on Amy’s “method" and then applied to my kids, my husband, even to my relationship with God. (Heck yes I take notes when I watch TV.... lay off I have OCD.)

1. Amy pays attention to everything.  The smells that calm the horses, the food they like, the places they like to spend time.  She notices details.  A lot of the scenes are just her putting her hand on the horses neck or back.  (This may be why some family members aren’t as huge fans of the show as I am:)  

~Do I listen to my kids this way?  Do I give them hugs, do I let them sit on my lap? (even though it feels like I’m being smothered to death)  

~Do I listen to my husband at all?   I know he loves lemon chicken but I HATE making it, so I usually don’t.  (FAIL.) 

~ Do I set aside time to just be? To listen to God.  Not to laundry list pray about all my worries but to hear God? 

2.  Amy’s process is not linear.  It takes time.  She doesn’t rush or try to make the horse into something it is not.  She has to come up with tons of different ideas for each unique horse.  

~ Am I willing to SLOW DOWN? Ann Voskamp says, “Hurry hurts kids” and I find that so convicting because “hurry” is my default speed.  

~Am I willing to make a point to spend time with my husband?  Not time with an agenda where I barrage him with the info from the day that I have to pass along.  Time simply together. 

~  Am I willing to read the Bible slowly?  Not just get it done because it makes me feel better to know I did something “good” today (amidst all my failures) but to soak it in.  

I may never be a horse whisperer in real life... but I truly desire to become a better listener...and learn how to rock the heck out of cowboy boots.

Friday, September 18, 2015

I Get the Picture…. By Lynn Abbott

Today's guest blogger is a family friend who has impressed me again and again with her ability to capture truly candid photos of people and events.  I treasure the photos she's taken of our kids just having fun!  Below she's provided a little insight on just how she does it.  

Just want to enjoy the moment and remember the day?  You can do it with pictures.

-First and foremost… the camera….”don’t leave home without it….” This allows you to
capture even the images you were not planning to capture.  A magical moment that grabs you, a special event or even something newsworthy?  

-Sometimes two cameras are better than one.  Those darn batteries do run out and it is almost always just when that photo op pops.  

-You know how some people seem to get their shuteye during your picture?  That is why you might want to take several snaps of the same view…. Especially if there are several people in your picture…if you take your photos in multiples… you are more likely to get one that is good and has all “eyes wide open.”  

-What about that photo where someone has a distasteful look on their face, an unusual spot on their shirt or even worse they are having a “bad hair day.”  Why keep it, just delete it… few of us want an eternal memory of ourselves that just looks bad.  If you can’t dot out the spot with an editing tool that  leaves you with a complementary representative image,
then forget it….. give it up   …no need to embarrass anyone – keep it real, keep it nice…with few exceptions.  
-Kids and pets are usually an exception… no matter what they do or how much dirt they have on their little faces, they are still adorable and ….their pictures are most always precious before you edit. You might want to try a simple crop to give a close up or to better reveal the expression of the moment.  

-Speaking of editing, I do it all the time.  Not as in a complete redo or as we think of with Photoshop for instance, but to bring focus to the subject of choice.  That exit sign on the wall, those ugly electric cords  in the background, that glare from the light above or other such distractions can be eliminated with your edit tools once your photos are downloaded to your computer.  

-What about the hidden gems??  It is always nice to find treasures!!  With digital photos and high pixel counts, you can often successfully crop a background image by duplicating your photo and cropping the second copy to highlight another scene of pet(s) or person(s) within.  
-Oh yes, I meant to mention… what about you?  Are you the family historian who takes the pictures behind the scenes and rarely gets in the scene?  Why not offer your camera to someone else in the crowd for a while…. Just take a break and allow someone else to be the photographer for a bit!   A different eye, a different point of view… the pictures taken could very well include YOU.  You might also want to practice the art of taking a selfie or play on your computer with “Photo Booth” or similar programs if available.  It is amazing what you can learn just by doing.  

-The best is in the sharing.  If you love working with photos, chances are you will want to share.  You might want to select an App that allows you to upload, add music and create collages, slideshows or scrapbooks.  You can craft great gifts by printing and framing or can simply make someone’s day with the touch of the send button on  your computer. Whatever you do, however you do it, you will likely have a good time in the process and bring smiles, stories and lasting memories to life.  
-That’s the magic, that’s the fun…. when all is said and done.             

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Life Together

This is one of my favorite photographs of all time.  

         I am sorry that I didn’t post last week...but only a little sorry because I had the rare and awesome privilege of spending some real quality time with my best friend celebrating our 20 years of friendship.  I would blog about that but we pinky swore we’d never tell any of each other’s secrets but I can tell you this...
         As we sat and caught up,  I was reminded of how much it can hurt to grow up and how much it means to have a friend or two by your side.  I was reminded of other friends that I have since lost touch with, and some who I see occasionally.  I wrote this for them, and for myself.  


You had another life once.  A long time ago.  It’s hard to remember now.  It seems almost unreal between the diapers and the sleep schedules.  You had a life where you were only responsible for you.  You were so funny, and shy, and spontaneous.  You spent your mornings catching up on teenage romances in the offing, and your afternoon at practice, running till your lungs burned and then running some more.  And then the fun, yes there was the homework but somehow that always got squeezed in between the ice cream runs, the movie nights, the skinny dipping, the AIM chats, and the bonfires.  But above all, there was prayer.  I’m not sure where I would be if not for your prayers.  Remember that.  

We had a life together once.  We were so young, and all we wanted was to know God’s will, to lead exciting lives that brought glory to him.  We really wanted that. 
I'm pretty sure no one looks their best in this pic but I just love the people in it.

We didn’t know that we were already on the adventure.  We were so curious about what was to come.  And had we known, we may have turned back.  But we didn’t---not in the face of friends lost, not when our hearts were broken, not when we had to wait and wait and wait for what seemed a simple pleasure or even a God given right.  We didn’t turn back because neither height, nor depth, not even anxiety disorders or broken families can separate us from God’s love.  As Peter said, “Where would we go?  What would we do?” 

And so in the dark hours when our wounds would not stop oozing, we went back to prayer.  And on our knees  our hearts began to heal.  All that rejection, all that disappointment, all those we’ve lost began to wash away until we came clean again.  In older, stretched and injured bodies our hearts are still young.  Laughter and faith keeps them that way.  

I miss you my friend.  When we are together I remember what friendship is all about, the adventure.  The pursuit of holiness, not for ourselves (although, we have sworn to enjoy the ride) but for His glory, for His kingdom come, for a LOVE that heals and restores and reunites.  

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Holy "No" by Marion Dietrich

Somewhere along the line in our lives, we embrace the idea that it is better to say yes when asked to do something than to say no. Teens,young adults, and middle-aged people find themselves, due to this constant willingness, exhausted, unfocused, and even resentful when asked to do yet another "thing.”  And before we go any further, let me say that I was and am guilty as charged of saying yes too often. However, a wise friend taught me an invaluable lesson and it is my goal to introduce you to the wonderfully freeing habit of saying no.

When Joe and I had been married a while, we were extremely active in our church, doing missions work, as well as teaching Bible studies, leading worship, and teaching Sunday School.  Oh yes, we also both worked full time. Our parents were all alive and we lived in the same town, so naturally we were invited to family get togethers.  I have a clear memory of telling my mother on a September morning that we did not have a free weekend until Christmas.  This information was not given in a sensitive manner and was received very poorly.  This is NOT an example of a holy no, and much damage was done by our zeal and passion.  It took years to restore our relationship.

Jump forward a number of years.  We still are very involved in our church, still have no children, still have parents we are trying to honor, still working full time. The phone rings and it is the husband of a family we know who do have children and he was calling to see if we could babysit for them.  Imagine a long awkward silence on my end. I informed him that I would have to talk to Joe and would get back to him shortly. When Joe and I looked at our calendars for work, church, family, alone time there was barely a space to be had.  The one crack on the ongoing litany of activity was, naturally, the time we were being asked to babysit.  We decided that no was the appropriate response in this instance.  So, I called back to deliver our answer. Imagine the long awkward silence on the other end.  Then came the sermon on carrying each other's burdens, caring for one another, etc. That relationship was also scarred for many years, but it is an example of a holy no.

As the years went by, we got asked to do more and more things.  Some fit nicely with our skill sets.  Some not at all.  My favorite request didn't even come to me directly. There was a need in our daughters' school for a girls' soccer coach for the JV team. Our oldest daughter, Katie, was at that particular stage. All the parents waited and prayed for someone to step forward. I thought my husband would have been a good coach or one of the P.E. teachers.  No one heard the call until one fall morning I had an alarming thought,"You do it!"  “What? I had never played organized sports in my life. I knew nothing about soccer. I didn't even own athletic clothing. But the thought persisted. So I volunteered. A friend wrote out drills for me, my husband did chalk talks, but I was the coach. And I got it in my head that I needed to be able to do whatever I was asking the girls to do. I ran with them, juggled the ball (terribly), demonstrated the drills for them, and we all laughed until we couldn't breathe. I am not sure if we won any games, but it was a winning season because we learned and progressed. This is an example of a holy yes.

The next fall, Katie and a few of her cohorts, were asked to play on the Varsity team and the coach asked me to be the assistant coach.  I was elated, overjoyed, thrilled...and I instantaneously said yes.  As the season began, one of my dear friends asked me how Katie felt about my new position. I hadn't asked her, but assumed she was fine.  However, before preseason started I asked her point blank, "Are you OK with this?" Again that long awkward silence for which I was completely unprepared. Her answer cut me to the quick. "It is all about what side of the line you are on, and I really would prefer that it is not the same side as me. I want you to be behind the line that defines the field."  I was dumbstruck. My husband worked at the school, her siblings went to the school, I volunteered at the school.  

So the choice came down to honoring her request or abiding by a decision that made me feel needed, sporty, helpful, seen. This is an example of a holy no.  I chose my daughter over my ego. I chose to hear her instead of forcing my will. She needed a place where none of her family members were right beside her.  So I said no to coaching and yes to Katie. And I knew I made the right choice. 

These days we are asked to do multitudinous things.  We still look at our lives and our calendars, and we don't say no just go get out of doing things we don't do well, but to be good stewards of our time . An answer of no is just as holy as a call to say yes. And one extremely helpful hint: if whomever is asking you to commit to something can not wait for an answer, say no.