Welcome to my blog. Does the world really need another blog? Well, probably not. But, I believe
we are all on a journey... and I think it is a good thing to process and to analyze the world around us. So being a writer... what better way to do this? This is a blog where I will authentically share with you the way I see life -- which may include the good, the bad and the ugly. I am glad you found me. I hope you come back again. Blessings.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I love studying history...

One of the great joys of home schooling my children is the opportunity to study history in depth. Sorry, Mr. Groves, but my "early bird" high school history class just didn't cut it for me (we took this class at 6:45 in the morning -- meaning we were asleep through much of the class.)

That class did little to inspire my current love (and passion) for the study of history. But, I am willing to admit it now. I love history. I love history because of what I learn of mankind. I love history because it gives us such an perspective on current life; which is someting that only understanding history can do.

We are currently reading "A History of US" by Joy Hakim. These are some amazing history books. If you love history, you will not be disappointed in reading them...

Tonight, we were reading about the muckrakers of the late 1800's... and how they ushered in a new era in journalism, "investigative journalism."

Anyway, we were learning about a guy named Lincoln Steffans. He has an amazing quote from his book called "The Shame of the Cities" -- which incidentally made him famous...

Here it is...

"The misgovernment of the American people is misgovernment by the American people!"

Completely brilliant and spot on. Well said, Mr. Steffans.

And so, once again, studying history helps me fully realize the realities of my current world. It also reminds me of another great writer, King Solomon, who said, "There is nothing new under the sun." So true.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

God is Good...

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear former president George W. Bush speak when he came to Wichita.

He told many stories as he reflected on his past and his experiences as a son, as a business leader and, of course, while he was a president.

One story he shared touched me greatly. I will always remember it.

He shared a story of visiting a village in Africa. He was able to meet with a group of orphans who had lost the parents to the AIDS epidemic. As he was leaving them, he said, “God is good.” And they replied back in unison, “All the time.”

I loved this story because of the truth it tells. God is good. All the time. In times of joy. In times of sorrow. In times of hope. In times of hopelessness. In times of prosperity. In times of want.

Bush shared that even though these orphans had the "right" to be angry and bitter and cynical... they weren't. They praised God in spite of their circumstances.

Bush went on to discuss how different America would be if this would be our motto -- what would we as a nation be like if we would recognize the goodness of God all the time! Wow! It makes you think.

The coolest thing about the evening was when Bush left the stage for the evening, he said "God is Good." And in unison, the audience of 4900+, said back "All the Time."

One of the highlights of my year!

Friday, December 9, 2011

That is what I call a dry spell...

Whew! That has been a bit of a dry spell... maybe the drought that swept over the plains of Kansas this summer affected the writer of this blog... To be honest, I haven't had the time nor the desire to post much lately. But, I feel the desire to write growing inside me. I am feeling the need to express some feelings -- the need to analyze and process.

I can't help but wonder if the desire to write isn't directly related to the long, endless nights of late fall? I know that as night falls here around 5:30 p.m., I can't help but feel a bit lonely. Yes, I can feel that way in a house full of kiddos. Have you ever experienced that feeling in the late fall?

Whatever the reason, it seems this time of year lends itself to a creative outlet. I am not exactly a crafty kinda gal, or a seamstress, or a scrapbooker. And to be honest, I can't figure even begin to figure Pinterest out (althought it looks like great fun.) So, I guess that leaves me with writing. Yay! I am thankful for the blog world. Lots of great writing at a click of the button.

I hope your fall has been blessed... Looking forward to sharing some thoughts with you soon....

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Impact of One Man's Life

I remember when I met Delane Butler (back in 1989,) he had this weird looking computer with a small screen. It was different from all the computers I was used to.

But according to him, it was way better than any PC. He also told me of the creative genius behind this computer, a guy named Steve Jobs, who helped invent this fantabulous computer.

We married and I went on to write many college papers on that Apple computer. And through those early years of marriage, I also continued to hear a lot more about Steve Jobs and his latest creative move.

As my husband continued to pursue graphic design vocationally, he decided he needed a bigger computer screen. And of course, the computer that all graphic artists needed to have was an Apple computer. So, we bought another one...

Not very many people had Apple computers in the early 90's. It seemed like it was just the artists of the world. And a few teachers here and there. These were the days before the iRevolution. Yes, there was a time before iPods, iTunes and iPhones. Radical, huh?

When it was time to replace this computer, I convinced my dear husband to get a PC. He. Did. Not. Want. To. But, he was now in a different vocational role and he didn't do much design work anymore. He gave in. We had a PC for a while. It bombed a lot. And did weird things. And every time it did something inexplicable, I would hear something like... "We should have gotten a Mac...."

When we decided to get a laptop, there was really no big decision. Well, maybe a little. But thankfully, we got a Mac. And when our PC bit the dust, well, we had learned our lesson.

It is weird how you can have a fond attachment to "things" in this life, isn't it? I mean, come on, it is a computer. It is basically a bunch of plastic, and some glass, and circuit boards. And yet computer technology has had a profound effect on our lives. It affects the way we live. The way we work. The way we communicate. The way we interact. The way we learn.

And then there is my favorite invention from the Apple people. The iPod. I mean, wow. It is one of my most favorite inventions ever. Okay, penicillin first. But then, probably the iPod. It is great. Having volumes of music and pictures and video and lessons and audio books all at my fingertips in a little tiny case -- that also happens to be cute and stylish. Awesomeness.

And I haven't even mentioned Mr. Jobs' contribution and influence on the genius that is Pixar. I mean where would animation (and modern day pop-culture) be today without Toy Story, Cars, Finding Nemo, Up...?

So, as my story comes full circle. It seems fitting that my dear husband was the one who broke the news of Mr. Jobs' passing to me. He had logged onto the internet and read it first.

Like so many today, I have reflected on the contributions accredited to Steve Jobs. It is amazing to think about how one person's life and creativity and genius can have such a profound impact on the world. Indeed, his life has affected my life in many ways. And I never even met him.

And yet, as I truly think about it all, I realize it is all just stuff. And more importantly, I am aware that when we are done, it all goes back in the box.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Labor Day Weekend...

Labor Day. The holiday in and of itself is a little unusual. I would venture to say many today do not even know the full meaning behind the holiday.... but that is an entirely different post!

I know for me and many others it has traditionally been seen as the final curtain on summer and the realization that "real life" is now beginning... After Labor Day, we set aside the more leisurely pace of summer and we officially get back to our regularly scheduled life...

We found ourselves on the outset of the weekend without scheduled plans. I was trying to make casual plans with friends for dinner... We had a come and go wedding celebration we were tentatively planning to attend on Saturday... And then on Saturday, a friend called and asked us over for a cookout one evening.

And other than those few things, the only thing we wanted to definitely accomplish was a trip to the drive-in (because this fun tradition was still on our summer "to do" list....)

So, the weekend was basically open. Unscheduled. Up in the air. Not normally the way I roll. Because, those of you who know me, know I love my schedules and to do lists.

But, I put schedules and Daytimers aside this weekend and let the weekend kind of just "roll along." When the husband got home on Friday, we had a brief conversation about a few things we would like to get accomplished and a "very loose plan" was made... Because, come on, you can't take the schedule completely out of a scheduler!

Anyway, all that to say, it was a fantastic weekend. It was almost as if not having a lot scheduled to do... gave us all the freedom to get a lot accomplished! Not that this even makes sense. But it was a very productive weekend -- And yet at the same time it was very laid back and relaxed and fun. So hard to explain. I guess it is kind of like vacation should be. You know, ideally, when you go on vacation, you get to go and do and see a lot... but all the while you are feeling relaxed and calm... Doesn't happen very often on vacations, does it?

Many times, we use long holiday weekends to cram in a quick trip to visit family. Or family comes to see us. Or we plan a house project. Or we make plans to have a big get together at our house. But not this weekend.

And I am not going to lie. I had to fight the urge. The urge to schedule something big this weekend. The urge to have a bunch of company over for a dinner. The urge to not go somewhere. The urge to not have a schedule with plans. It seemed weird to just stay at home and be.

And yet I liked it. A lot.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summertime and the living is Easy... NOT!

It used to seem like summer was never ending... it literally went on and on...

Now? It flies by... Can you all believe kids are going back to school?

I know part of it is due to school districts starting classes earlier than they used to... (remember when you started school after Labor Day?)

But, I also think this article by Mitch Albom in this week's Parade magazine may help explain how summer has become too busy and overscheduled that it literally flies by...

The Joys of Summer | Parade.com

It makes me want to buy a hammock and get me a big old pitcher of lemondade and a good book...and then go play in the water sprinkler.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Waiting Room

DISCLAIMER: I am on a soap box. You are warned.

So, today, I visited my dentist for a regular cleaning. And as soon as I walked into the waiting room I was bombarded with CNN News set at a rather loud volume.

Now, I am not someone who lives under a rock. I am relatively "plugged in" to the outside world. I have the internet. I read the news updates online. I read the paper. So, I knew the stock market is not doing well this week.

However, I really don't want to be barraged with economic doom and gloom while waiting to have my teeth cleaned! Isn't a visit to the dentist disconcerting enough? (Sorry, Audrey!)

Which brings me to another thought. Why on earth do doctors offices feel the need to even put televisions in their waiting rooms? Can't we as American's sit patiently for a few minutes and wait for our appointments? And for that matter, what's up with fast food restaurants having televisions... and hotel breakfast rooms... And then on top of that, the televisions are always set to some news network! I guess our plugged in world just can't get enough news at home (or in their hotel room.) And, if you really can't wait to see what is going on in the world, all you have to do is whip out your iPhone and check the status of the world. Right?

Okay, so back to the doctor's office... If I were a doctor, and I had patients coming into my office, I don't think I would want them to be annoyed, worried, and anxious about the issues of this planet prior to our visit. (To be sure, this is just the prescription to raise blood pressure!)

It seems to me that if you feel you simply must have a television in your waiting room, make sure you have the channel set to something that will make your patients comfortable and at ease. Usually, waiting rooms are not the most fun places to be anyway. First you have the wait. Then the anxiety of whatever will happen at the visit. Then the knowledge that you will be paying for said procedure. Then all the many, many, many forms you have to fill out. And then the doctors add insult to injury (pun intended) by blaring the media's perception of our world.

Can't we just go back to quiet waiting rooms with magazines?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Reasons why I home school...

We have many reasons we home school our children... And some may even surprise you...

As the school year begins, I sometimes question this decision. Sometimes I want to live within a different reality. When my curriculum arrives, the panic sets in. I have to get through all of this and teach several different subjects to several grades all the while dealing with the shenanigans of a four year old?!?!?

But I believe I was called to home school. Why? I am not sure. I may never know this side of eternity... But nevertheless, this is where we live. This is where God has confirmed we need to be...

Today I was reading a blog. She beautifully describes many of my feelings about the whole issue. Give it a read... It spoke to my heart.


As I think about how quickly my children are growing up... I am confident of this... I will not get to end of my life and wish I had spent less times with my kids. I know I will look back on all the hours I spent with them "home schooling" them with fond memories...thankful I was blessed with extra time with my kids... Blessings.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Like most of the midwestern United States, it is HOT in Kansas. Triple digit temperatures for many days. And little rain. Which naturally leads to a drought. I know this. It is simple. And yet, today I internalized it when I saw first hand the effects.

I was driving downtown Wichita and I saw the Arkansas River. It was nothing more than a muddy stream. And seemingly overnight all the grass in our city is not green anymore. Instead, it is a lovely shade of light brown. The effects of our drought became blatantly obvious to me today -- although, for several days I knew it was hot and dry and we had not had rain.

Odd, I know, but seeing all the effects around our city of a literal, physical drought made me think of my spiritual life. So many times, I am in a drought spiritually but I don't really know it. I know I am dealing with junk (severe heat) and I know there is little water being poured into my parched soul. But usually, it sneaks up on me. And then I see something which makes me realize I am in a spiritual drought.

As I was out driving around today, I thought, "We need rain. Badly. Like now!" Spiritually, you get to that point to. "I need God. Now. Badly."

Why is it we sometimes have to experience a severe drought in our lives to realize our constant need and dependency on (living) water?

Jesus says, "Whoever believes in me...streams of living water will flow from within him." Sounds like the answer to the droughts in life!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A few more pics of New Orleans....

The Streetcar on St. Charles Street. Running through the Garden District.

We happened to turn down the street the wedding procession was coming down. Coincidentally, we had seen the wedding taking place in Jackson Square earlier. We should have gone to the reception and pretended we were long, lost cousins from Kansas.

Beignets and Cafe au lait.

I think this is the oldest restaurant I have ever eaten at... 151 years in business. That is a long time for a restaurant.

New Orleans

Thankfully, I have been to a lot of places throughout my life. But, I had never had the opportunity to visit New Orleans. So on our trip to the South, we made it a destination spot.

We had several reasons to see New Orleans. We studied American History this past year, and you cannot study US history without realizing the importance the city of New Orleans played in our country's history. (Above is Jackson Square named in honor of Andrew Jackson. If you don't remember, Jackson helped save the city of New Orleans during the War of 1812.)

A simple walk through the French Quarter and you can feel the history. I loved the old bricks and the gas lanterns and the old windows and doors. We ate beignets at Cafe du Monde. Yummy. We heard different musicians on the street. We heard jazz and saw people dancing with ease and abandon. We happened on a wedding procession being led by a jazz band. Classic.

After our tour of the French Quarter, we drove through the Garden District and watched the streetcar go up and down St. Charles Street. We were amazed by the beautiful homes in that area. They are quite simply beautiful. We saw Tulane and Loyola University.

Fast forward to more recent history. Katrina. We saw the Superdome. We were on the interstate where it showed a different kind of procession -- the people who had sought refuge on higher ground. And then we saw all the abandoned houses. Still boarded up. Hotels in ruins. Shopping centers that are now parking lots. A city that has not recovered...

New Orleans is a city of contrast. You have many cultural influences diverging. Religion and voo doo. French and American. The New Orleans of yesteryear with its strategic location on the Mississippi and the city of today devasted because of its location during a hurricane. A city with great wealth and affluence and a city with great poverty and need.
I am thankful we made it a destination point! It is good to see and experience the contrast and the tension of this city first hand. My daughter remarked, "this is the strangest city I have ever seen." I would agree.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sunblock...or NOT

The Butler's were going on vacay. We were heading to the Sunshine State -- finally getting some beach time. Being the awesome, thoughtful, mom that I am... I bought the 50 SPF sunscreen. Surely, that would be the needed extra protection for my fair-skinned kiddos. Well, not exactly...

So, evidently, the spray on sunblock...Not the best sunblock. (Conveniently, I read a whole article about this in a magazine on MY WAY HOME.) For starters, applying the spray on stuff at the beach is not the best idea. Because, yeah, it is windy. And half of what you are spraying out blows away. Then, as you apply it, you can't really see it or feel where it has been applied (unlike the oily greasy feel of the white lotion.)

So, short story long... we all got burned real bad. No bueno. We spent the rest of our vacation walking funny, aching, itching, not hugging each other (not that we walk around hugging each other anyway, but you get my point) and looking blotchy. The kids think Mr. Man looks like he has a mask on...

So as you head out for summer fun, I would highly recommend you stick to the good old-fashioned lotion stuff. I put that kind on my face and it didn't burn at all!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A chapter in my life...

For the last eight years, I have attended a bible study on Monday nights. Tonight was the last night of this year's study. And, unless God leads me back to this particular bible study, tonight was also the end of this chapter in my life.

Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) has been an amazing part of my life. For those who are not familiar with it, it is an international, expository bible study. Usually you study one book of the bible each year, and of course they bring in parallel verses, books, etc... This year we studied the book of Isaiah. Next year it is Acts. The cool thing is that everyone, worldwide, is studying the same thing at the same time!

It is hard to quantify what God has taught me through this bible study program. It is hard to adequately convey what BSF has meant to me through the years. BSF came into my life during a time of spiritual transition. And the teaching, encouragement and fellowship I received through BSF, has indeed been a great blessing.

Tonight as we gathered to share what we had learned this year, I was overwhelmed by all that has happened in the last eight years. There were so many truths and principles spoken into my life each and every Monday night. I can't imagine what my life would have been like if I had not been a part of this study. I am so thankful God led me to this study.

If you are searching for a bible study to join next fall, consider BSF. It may very well be just what God has planned for your life.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hope and Joy

We have recently come face to face with death. Delane's grandmother, Anna Belle, passed away last week. She was 95. She had been married 77 years. She had given birth to 15 children. She sewed a lot. She baked a lot. She hugged a lot of babies. She made people feel special. She lived a good life. She did good things. She had a powerful influence in many, many lifes. She was a great woman.

But all this would be meaningless without her faith...

And so at the visitation you heard laughing. At the cemetery, friends and families lingered visiting and reconnecting and laughing. There was sadness because we were saying goodbye. But there was also an expectancy in the air. A little bit of joy. Yes, joy. Why? Because there was hope.

You see when you have faith that this human life is not all there is... When you believe something better is waiting.... When you believe an eternity in the presence of God is available... it gives you HOPE. And true JOY.

So, as we come to Easter, the time when we remember the resurrection of JESUS... the time when those of us who have FAITH reflect on what HIS death and resurrection mean to us, we have HOPE and JOY.

My prayer is you have this HOPE and JOY in your life...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Springtime in the Plains

We have lived in Kansas for 15 years... And I can say unequivocally, spring is my favorite season in Kansas. When we lived in Indiana, I would tell you that fall is my favorite. Fall is glorious back that way. But here? Here the spring time is glorious. Even with the wind. And even though we are put on alert for severe weather from time to time. Spring is my most favorite season in Kansas.

So what makes Kansas so special in the spring? Well, for starters, it is beautiful and lush and green. All the grass, bushes, trees, and plants seem fresh. And right now they are blooming and budding. Gorgeous.

I love seeing those first Forsythia plants start blooming. Then the Bradford Pears. Then the Red Bud trees... It seems every week there is a new plant or bush to enjoy in all its radiant glory. You most definitely see first hand the work of an amazing creator.

In addition to the sights of spring, I love the sounds of spring too. I love to hear the wind blow and feel the breeze flow through the window. I love the sound of the birds chirping and calling their mate. I love the hum of the neighborhood lawnmowers powering up for their call of duty.

It makes me feel alive and excited and thankful. There is just something magical in the air in the spring! I love it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Ocean

Last week, my husband and I were finally able to get away for a few days to celebrate our anniversary. We chose to go to California -- the San Diego area because neither of us had been to that part of the state. It was wonderful. We were very impressed with the variety of things to do and the beauty in that area. Everything was blooming and looked fresh! It was gorgeous.

Of course, one of the biggest excitements for this land-locked midwest girl was to see the ocean. When I see the ocean, I am always reminded of the power of God's creation. How can anyone stand beside the ocean and not be in awe of its power? It's beauty? It's sheer force? And yet, God is above all that I saw and experienced with my human eyes. Amazing.

Isaiah 51:15 says, "I am the Lord your God, who churns up the sea so that its waves roar--the Lord Almighty is his name."

I was reminded of God's power and glory several times during my trip to California. When we stood beside the ocean, when we saw all the variety of His creation. When we saw the beauty in the sunset. When we were flying over the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon. His power and his beauty and splendor were all around us. (I know all of that is here in Kansas too - it is just different :-) It just doesn't look like this...

I am so grateful to have gotten away and had time to spend with my husband. But, I am also grateful for the opportunity to experience and enjoy more of God's creation. Good times indeed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My thoughts this week

I know my posts haven't been regular lately. I have several posts I am working on. Some are written. Waiting to be edited. And this week it is hard to know what to say after seeing what is going on across the ocean in Japan. I was reading several of the blogs I regularly read and found one that says exactly what I am feeling. Check out her blog... sarahmarkley.com.


Monday, March 7, 2011

I don't remember signing up for this...

I remember when we found out we were going to be parents. Going on 16 years ago. Wow. So hard to believe how fast the time has gone. Anyway, not long after I found out I was pregnant, I went and bought the "bible" for pregnancy, "What to Expect When You are Expecting." And let me just say, I am not getting paid to endorse this book, but seriously it is the best pregnancy book ever. Truly. Especially for a hypochondriac woman who tends to have periods of anxiety. Tailor made for a woman like me.

Anyway, that book was great during my pregnancy. I would start having leg cramps. I would look up "What to Expect in the whatever Month" and bingo...it would tell me to expect leg cramps. Loved it. It gave me confirmation and comfort and eased my mind. It helped me get through pregnancy five times.

Then you prepare you the birth. You take "birthing classes." Then you take "breastfeeding classes." Then you take "newborn classes." We were ready. Then you have the baby...

Fast forward fifteen years. We now have five children. A teenager. A pre-teen. Two in the middle and a toddler. They don't have a "What to Expect" book for this part of parenting. Situations arise all the time that I don't expect. And there isn't an all inclusive book that tells me exactly how to handle the situation. (Okay, I know some of you out there who read my blog might be thinking... the bible. But, last I checked the bible didn't directly address what to do when your boys squirt red ooze on the white carpet.) UGH! I don't remember signing up for this....

I tell people who are newly pregnant to enjoy their pregnancy and childbirth. And especially enjoy childbirth. It is the easiest part of being a parent. You have a team of professionals surrounding you and helping make you comfortable and monitoring every little thing. And the best part...you are actually encouraged to take drugs to help make it through the process!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Some days...

...you got it and some days you don't. The words aren't coming this week. I am not quick with the thoughts and the motivation to process my world isn't happening. Life is still going on. But the need to share and philosophize...not so much. I know it will return. I will feel the need to write again. It may be later today. So stay tuned. In the mean time, have a blessed week.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

...and Liberty for all...

One of my favorite experiences from my recent trip to NYC in December was our visit to the Statue of Liberty. I had seen the Statue of Liberty last time I visited NYC, but we had just taken the boat tour around it and did not actually go to Liberty Island and walk around it...etc....

It is quite simply awesome. It was an iconic moment. I felt the same way when I saw Mount Rushmore and when I visited the monuments in Washington, D.C. And I am sure I will feel the same way when I see the Grand Canyon...

It was also an inspiring and humbling moment for me knowing what the Statue of Liberty represents to so many people -- knowing the sacrifices immigrants all over the world made to climb on a boat (or fly on an airplane) and head to the USA where they would see Lady Liberty for the first time -- and knowing when they entered the harbor they were excited and happy because of the hope America would give them.

My entire visit to NYC reminded me of the great melting pot that is the United States. And our visit to the Statue of Liberty was no exception. At one point we tried to get someone to take our picture with the Manhattan skyline in the background, but we could not find anyone who was speaking English. (It was a little surreal for a girl from the heartland and a southern belle.) But it was inspiring too. Visitors from all over the world visit NYC, pay their money, go through airport-level security, board a ferry and head out to an island to visit an old copper monument. Why? I believe it is because of what it represents to the world. Okay, maybe it is because it is expected you visit the Statue of Liberty when you visit NYC. And I realize it is an expected visit. But, I do think it became a "must do experience" because of what it represents.

My continued hope as I process and reflect on this experience (and also my visit to Ellis Island) is the people and lawmakers in our nation will never become complacent (or worse, apathetic) about the freedom and liberty we experience in this great country. People from other lands value it and respect it and honor it and want it. Hopefully, we will always do the same.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

You know the classic story of the Wizard of Oz. In the end, everyone finds out the "wizard" is an just an ordinary man with no magical powers at all. We learn he is exactly like everyone else.

As I think about his character, I realize his claim to fame was he had convinced everyone in the land of Oz he had extraordinary powers and he was a wizard who could solve all their problems. But, in reality, it was all a facade.

Which leads me to the realization of how we are a lot like the "Wizard of Oz." Most of us live behind some kind of facade. We wear masks. We convince people we have it all together. And we may even convince ourselves.

So, why do we live behind the masks? Why do we put up a facade? Why don't we live in a place of authenticity? Why do we try and convince others we are something we are not?

I know there may be several reasons. But I think the most pervasive reason is fear. Fear of judgment. Fear of rejection. Fear of conflict. Fear of condemnation. Fear. It is a powerful element in our lives.

But fear does not come from a relationship with God. Jesus taught us that perfect love casts away all fear. And yet, we live in fear and even at times embrace it.

I guess I am at the point in my life where I don't want to live in fear anymore. I want to live an authentic life. I want to take off the masks and tear down the facade.

I believe God came to give us an abundant life. And I don't think the abundant life has room any room for fear. And I am convinced the abundant life is characterized by authenticity.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 17, 1999

We pulled into the driveway. We were meeting at our friends house for a bible study. After the study we were going to celebrate my husband's birthday. I had come out earlier in the day to bring the party goods. It was going to be a good night. A fun and simple birthday celebration following bible study.

As we pulled into the driveway, Chris came out the door. He was crying. He told us the news. The police had just left. There had been an accident. Tina and Caitlin had been killed.
No one is ready for this news. No one is ready to hear that a friend has been killed. Let alone that her eleven year old daughter was dead too. It takes a while to even process news like this. It is weird and confusing and makes you feel as if you are dreaming.

I remember one of the first things I did after hearing the news was start to clean up the birthday party stuff. That was weird too. Here we were planning a party to celebrate my husband's life and two lives were gone.

I stayed there all night. That was the only night I can ever remember where I stayed up all night long. It was an endless night full of every kind of emotion. It is a night I will not forget.
Time is such an interesting dimension in life. In some ways, that night seems like a lifetime ago. So much in my life has changed since then. It seems so far away. And in other ways, it seems like just yesterday. I still remember in detail so much of that night. So many emotions from the grieving process. And then there are the memories of Tina and Caitlin which still come rushing back. Tears still come to my eyes.

I still miss her and her authenticity. Her spiritual perspective. Her giving spirit and her willingness to help others. And of course her laugh. She had an amazing laugh.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day used to mean something completely different to me... It was a day full of expectation where I would think about getting flowers or candy or jewelry from my true love.

Now? Not so much. In recent years, I have found I don't care about this holiday as much as I used to... It seems forced, contrived, manipulated... and I think I am beginning to "dislike" Valentine's Day. (I sound a bit like a non-loving, non-romantic Valentine Scrooge, huh?)

So, I ask myself why. Especially when I consider that I love gifts and words of affirmation. You would think Valentine's Day would be right up my alley.

I think so much of it lies in the marketing of the holiday - it seems to me that more and more holidays are losing their true meaning and are becoming all about purchasing the "perfect" gift or making the "perfect" plan. Marketing encourages you to elevate your expectations and expect the perfect day, date, gift, chocolate, etc... However, because we are in relationships with fellow humans, who are by nature not perfect, our elevated expectations are rarely met and we end up feeling disappointed and frustrated because we realize our lives are not "perfect."

In recent years, Valentine's Day has been more about my kids and giving them some candy. You know because the candy they got at Christmas is gone and it is still a few more weeks until the next candy-fest Easter. I am okay with this. Today, I gave them a homemade valentine with a bag of 15 pieces of chocolate. Yes, I go all out.

And just so you know that I am not a complete Valentine Scrooge, I do think Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to tell those around you that you love and appreciate them. Because, telling those you love that you love them is always a good idea no matter the day.

So, what are your thoughts on this holiday?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Getting Back to Normal...

I remember when our third child was born. We had been blessed with two children already, the oldest, a girl and then a boy. And although we had challenges, the whole parenting thing seemed to be going pretty well. And then we had our third child, a son, and suddenly we were outnumbered. And it seemed life changed in a big way.

In the days following his birth, I remember thinking everything will be fine as soon as "we get back to normal." Well, that was May 2001 and it has not happened yet! As I think about it, I don't think "normal" ever really existed, except perhaps in my mind. Since then, I feel like most days I am just managing the challenging, chaotic, fun, educational, loving, sometimes maddening, experiences that define my life!

Why is it we desire to "be normal?" When you are a kid, you want to be normal like all the other kids. When you get older, you want to be normal like everyone else... Seriously, who is really normal? Didn't a comedian once say, "normal is a setting on your dishwasher." What does normal really mean anyway?

Normal can have different meanings. I think I tend to define normal as "having a plan and following it." I am a person who likes structure and schedules and plans that are executed as planned. But in reality, since I have five children, this never really happens. And when I think it has happened, I am most likely just kidding myself or in a deep delusion.

So after this week's snow storm and the husband being home from work yesterday (which is so not normal) I feel like today is the day to get back on track with that plan, stay on schedule and have that elusive structure... Oh wait, we have a field trip today. That will throw everything off. Okay, then tomorrow.... Tomorrow, we will get back to normal...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Winter of our Discontent...

So it is snowing again today in Kansas. I know, it is wintertime and snow happens. We should be expecting this kind of thing throughout the winter and yet several of us are now tired and bored of the snow....

Why do we so easily get tired of the things we desire? We start out the season (whatever season it is - either a season of life or a season of the year) looking forward to what the season will bring and then when the season delivers, we get antsy, ready to move on, "bored."

Let's take this winter season. We didn't get any snow to speak of during November. We didn't have a "White Christmas." And then January. We were all ready for snow. We were tired of the bleak winter landscape without any white stuff. And then it came. It was awesome. We loved the snow. It was beautiful. And then some more came...and things were canceled, it changed our plans, kids were stuck inside... we started to get tired of it... the beautiful snow piles left started getting dirty... Yuck.

And now, more snow. The very thing we were hoping for a few weeks ago... and yet it doesn't hold it's magical influence on us anymore. My kids are not standing at the window yelling, "It is snowing!" They are almost oblivious to it. What is up with that? Taking an objective point of view, it is beautiful outside. The snowflakes are big and pretty and all that dirty snow is being covered up! It is exactly what we wanted just six weeks ago. And now, we are tired, we want to move on. We are ready for spring!

It is not just the weather where we do this. I know this has happened in the seasons of parenting too. I would look forward to a season of my kids life...and then when we are in it, I would get tired of it and be ready to move out of this particular season or phase of life.

So, I wonder, why do we do this? Why is it so hard for us to just live in the moment and enjoy each and every aspect of where we are at a particular moment in time? My hope is I can look out my window and enjoy what the day has to hold. That is my hope... my intention... but as I look out of my window, I can't help but imagine the trees and flowers in full bloom.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Times Square

Have you been to New York City lately? I recently had the opportunity to visit the Big Apple. It had been several years since I had been there...like twenty-four years... and although, I am sure we went to Times Square when we visited in 1986, I didn't remember it.

Times Square is quite a place. To be honest, I was overwhelmed by it all. We stayed in a hotel just north of Times Square so we walked through it several times a day. And each time I would walk through the area, I would be overwhelmed and excited all at the same time.

Times Square is excessive and exciting, alluring and alarming. American excess at its pique. American capitalism at its best. Sensational and scandalous. Fun and frightening.

There was a billboard/sign/interactive display (I am not sure what you call it) with a camera pointed at the crowd walking by....taking pictures of the crowd and then displaying it on the sign. Pretty cool because I can say I have been on a billboard in Times Square, huh? (Look for me in the top picture in the far bottom left--next to the woman in the white coat.)

But as I think about the excess, the chaos and craziness of it all, it makes me wonder if this is truly all our lives are about in western civilization? Stuff. Advertising. Excess. Constant change. Chaos. Having it all. Wanting it all. Having our senses overwhelmed at all times.

In the relatively small land area that is Times Square you are exposed to all that makes our country "tick." Sex, candy, toys, strip clubs, the media, investment banks, money, entertainment, food, clothes... Is this what we are about? In the "heart" of the largest city in our great country, lies Times Square in all its excitement and excess.

Also, obviously present, and with an overwhelming presence is the NYPD. I have never seen so many police in such a small area. There were surveillance cameras, police on horseback, police patrolling, police up in a tower looking down on the area... the NYPD were everywhere. Times Square is a target for those who want to destroy our way of live in the United States and it is a magnet for those of us who want it all in the United States.

I had a great time in the Big Apple. I will share more of my experiences and thoughts in the days to come. And admittedly, there were many times I looked around and thought, "I am not in Kansas anymore." But more than all that, visiting NYC, and in particular Times Square, makes me wonder why we do what we do as a nation... Who are we as a country? And what do we truly think is important?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Does the world really need another blog?

So, I have officially started a blog. Which of course leads to the obvious question...does the world really need another blog floating around in the blogosphere? Well, honestly, probably not.

So why am I doing it? Will anybody read it? Well, whether anybody reads it remains to be seen, but the following are the reasons I decided to start a blog...

But first, let me say, I am not starting a blog because I have nothing to do... although in the winter, life does "slow down" a bit. (It will be interesting to see if I am so eager to blog away when the flowers return and the warm weather beckons me to visit...) Anyway, many times in my life, I feel like I am just treading water and trying to stay afloat in my life...so I am not blogging because I have tons of free time...

So why? Overall, I think I am blogging as a creative outlet. I like to write. Wow! Did I just write that? For a minute, I just had a flashback to school when we would be given writing assignments -- I don't think I ever would have said 'I like to write.' It is amazing how time can change your perspective.

Anyway, I think that the process of writing is good for me. It helps me think through my life and what I am learning, how I am being transformed, how I am growing. So there you go. My reason for blogging. My hope is that through my blog it will encourage others in their life journeys as well. Maybe we will learn and grow together as we journey. Blessings to all.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


So for the third time this winter, due to the winter weather, our mid-week activities have been canceled -- I don't remember this many weeks being canceled in the past, but that is another story.... Although, this has created some sadness and frustration for my older children, who look forward to hanging out with their friends at their different activities throughout the week, I have rather enjoyed having nothing to do and nowhere to go...

So it makes me wonder...why is it we sometimes need circumstances (e.g. the winter weather) to force some blank space in our lives? We fill our lives with "good" things that take our time -- bible studies, music lessons, book clubs, hobbies, etc... And yet, there is a strange comfort, a peace, a calm, in finding out you have nothing to do for the day or the night. Now don't get me wrong, I will be ready to return to my regularly scheduled life -- after a few days I start to go stir crazy. But, maybe, just maybe it is good to take a break, to be bored for a little while and have nothing to do. It takes something outside of my control to put life on hold. It makes me wonder... Do I have enough blank space in my life?