Monday, August 31, 2009


When my Jennifer was 18-months-old, she would say AHgain! when she liked a story or when we’d roll out cookie shapes or sing at the piano. So of course we’d do it “AHgain” and “AHgain!” My enthusiasm varied for the repeats, but even when my attention span waned, I’d at least fake enthusiasm and commitment to helping my child scale the learning curve. I learned, too -- things like how praise brings a more desired result than criticism. I learned quickly how these “AHgain” moments bonded me with my daughter from toddler-hood on. They paid off big time during her adolescence and to this day hold us close in terms of heart distance. She’s very grown up, with two children of her own with whom she joyfully and patiently experiences “AHgain” times “AHgain” and “AHgain!” If she’s ever bored, no one can tell. In fact, it seems like she rather looks forward to watching their development.

This reminds me of how God isn’t bored by sameness. He seems to revel in repetition. I’m on vacation this week, on Lake Michigan in a cottage built four generations ago. Three of my daughter's children were hiking a nature trail this morning with their mom and came across another longtime cottager who asked, “Are you Phyllis’ daughters?” She recognized a sameness there in God’s handiwork! God didn’t get bored with features He repeated through generations. Her children play on the beach with the same sand toys I used and read from some of the same cottage books on which I grew up -- same-o same-o! Repetition like this through the ages can be strengthening to families, to cultures, to organizations, even to the Church.

Are you hesitant to approach God with a dilemma, either temporal or eternal? Afraid He’ll be bored because you've been to Him before? He’s opened the buds on millions of rose bushes, created new life for every person ever conceived, healed the skinned knees of how many children and mended broken hearts since the beginning of the time. How could your problems be any less interesting to Him?

Waves lapping softly on the sandy shore produce the same calm in us that they have for generations here. The spectacular sunsets never bore me, nor the fall colors, the winter icebergs, the spring trillium and cherry blossoms. Even more importantly, God, my Creator, never gets bored with me, even when I get bored with myself. His mercies endure forever, and He says He is with me always. He forgives every sin, every offense, except the unforgivable sin of rejection of His Son as the Christ, our Savior from sin. He doesn’t tire of protecting me, revealing His plans for and to me. God doesn’t fake enthusiasm or commitment; He proves it in His Son who died on the cross and rose again. He doesn’t tire of you reading the Bible, the same Book generations before you have known to be The Truth. Just as Jennifer and I bonded through “AHgain” moments, so God bonds with us “AHgain” and “AHgain.” He is the ultimate AHgain from beginning to end. Ask Him, “AHgain!” He’s hoping you will!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Drop Everything

Tiny two-year-old Hazel reached up and touched a hot griddle on the stove. With five adults and five little ones in the kitchen, you’d think it could have been avoided. But she watched her cousins -- ages three, five, six, and nine -- make crepes on the griddle with one of the adults, and when that adult looked away for a second, Hazel reached up, curious about how that worked up there. Ouch! We put her little hand in ice water and applied a burn ointment as we called a pediatrician friend on what to watch for. The blisters on the heel part of the thumb measured about 1.5 inches. Don’t worry -- she’ll be fine, and her tiny hand already looks better.

A major lesson here: never take your eyes off a child in the kitchen; we thought we had that one down pat. But it was another lesson that brought tears to our eyes. The instant this happened, all the children scattered as if on cue. Lewie, three, ran off for her night-night bear; James for his blue bunny, Lillian her Minnie Mouse and Emma, a dancing and singing frog! They were back in a flash, laying each treasure at Hazel’s feet while she sat on her mommy’s lap on the kitchen floor. As the picture shows, it was more than a gesture; it was a shrine and Hazel was beautifully distracted and comforted by her cousins’ outpouring of love. Eventually the entourage accompanied her mommy carrying her upstairs for naptime. All of the offerings, seldom if ever parted with, much less given away, were held up to the crib just in case they were needed.

How often do I drop everything and give attention to the most important matter of the moment? How much more often do I overlook something because I’m self-absorbed or on a roll with an idea or trying to meet a deadline? This picture of typically and naturally self-absorbed children dropping everything to focus on someone else’s needs will inspire me for a long time! It’s the picture of God dropping everything, in a sense, to hear and answer my prayers, to heal my cut finger, feed my anguished soul. Of course, being omnipotent, He can do everything at once. But since I can’t, I need to remember to put something down to tend to something else more important. To know when to do that, I personally have to read a bit of the Bible daily. It tenderizes my heart to watch for the moment to drop everything and go where He might need me to be, as the children did that day.

It may not be as obvious as the physician on the airplane who jumps forward from his seat when the flight attendant requests a medical person or an off-duty police officer chasing down a suspect. But all around us are people needing something we can offer. Hazel didn’t ask for anything, but her cousins knew without a word that she needed comfort, and they delivered! Ask God to nudge you when the time is right to give of what you have. And if, by any chance, it’s your beloved night night bear, may He help you loosen your grip. When we do it for Him, it’s with no strings attached! Ecclesiastes 11:1 says to “Cast your bread upon the waters: for you will find it after many days.” God takes care of you. Now go do it for someone else!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do You Know Where...

My dental hygienist told me an amusing story. Of course it was while cleaning my teeth when I couldn’t laugh out loud! LOL online works fine, but when you really get a chuckle out of something and can’t chuckle, it is so wasted! She’d gotten an email from a civic official in her childhood town where her mother had been the important “go-to” lady until her death a few years ago. The town is celebrating 150 years this fall, and when officials dug for the time capsule buried 50 years ago, they came up empty-handed. They don’t suspect time capsule thieves; rather they just don’t know where it’s buried. They were curious if she, by any chance, knew its location. And guess what – of course she didn’t!

Her mom would know, or did know, but she never mentioned it to the family and apparently no one else has a clue either. So, likely, the anniversary will go on without being able to take “time” out of a capsule, review it, savor it, and learn from it. When I was finally able to speak with the hygienist, we found humor in such a ludicrous situation where things had carefully been gathered and stored with pomp and circumstance, only to remain hidden, maybe forever!

And then with a newly polished smile, I reviewed some of the questions I’d love to ask my own mom and dad, who’ve already gone on to glory. My dad was a civil engineer who specialized in concrete and bridges. As we approached a bridge in the car, we’d get a sound byte description of some facet of that bridge. I was usually deep in thought about my haircut or how to get through some class, so I didn’t pick up on that stuff ever. Now my mind is less cluttered and I’m interested in what he tried to share and, even more, what his experience with each bridge had been. It’s the same with my mom -- lots of questions about recipes, what she was thinking when a certain picture was taken, and why she did this or that.

A little take-away from this pondering is to always tell people where you put “it!” You may not have a missing time capsule in your family, but I bet you have a story or two that would mean a lot to generations to come. Send me one that comes to mind! For sure, write it down where it will be found.

God went to great lengths to be sure His Word, The Bible, gets to us. Seriously, thousands of years later, and experts still come across old documents and scrolls that authenticate the exact words that soothe our souls today. Just check out the new Bible study How We Got The Bible, featuring Dr. Paul L. Maier (yes, that Dr. Maier who discussed the history of Christmas with me last year on Woman to Woman®) -- The Bible has been, and still is, banned, burned and misinterpreted, yet the Word of God lasts forever. I know from friends who’ve been deprived of it in, for example, POW camp or in countries where it’s illegal to have a Bible in your home, that the words they memorized and tucked in their hearts never left them.

Some of our “stuff” may get buried and lost, but we’ll never come up empty-handed on the timeless truths from The Lord of Life Himself. That should put a smile from our faces down to our hearts to share with others, even without a dental hygienist’s mother to remind us about “it!”

Thursday, August 6, 2009


My friend Gigi Davidson* died last month, called home to be with Jesus, who’d given her victory time after time over her disease. She battled cancer for 13 years with the unwavering support of her sons, husband, and numerous friends.

I long admired and respected Gigi, and her memorial service made me even more aware that she was one of the most remarkable women I have ever known. You know those birthday candles that you blow out and they keep on relighting? Gigi was like that. No matter how horrible the symptoms, how much they flattened her, drained the life out of her…she kept coming back. At the worst moments, she wrote poetry, giving God credit for the lines, and counseled others who were drawn to her peaceful spirit. At Gigi’s memorial luncheon, I met person after person who had the same memory of her that I did: that she was a kind of angel-in-waiting, always encouraging us with Scripture verses or personal stories to send us on our way rejoicing!

I suppose that in a way, we’re all like candles. Some of us, like Gigi, seem to burn so brightly. Some, like my young friend Kurt who died at 20, go out too quickly in our human eyes. Gigi’s candle lasted for 57 years here on earth. Others, like my parents, burn nearly 90 years or more. In each case, though, these people of God reached so many others with the light from their lives that their light is still visible today.

Christ is like that. He calls Himself the “Light of the World.” Believers in Him as the Son of God who died for their sins and rose again have that same “Light” to share with others. No wonder our lights can keep on shining like Gigi’s; they’re a reflection of Him.

*Gigi Davidson graciously provided Woman to Woman® with the following information about her battles with cancer last October in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To view these items, please click here and here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Summer Vacation

When there’s enough sand in the clothes dryer to replenish the kids’ sandbox at home, I know I’m on vacation! It’s our family vacation on the beach, a time we anticipate with thankful excitement all year long. We know the cousins will adore each other between quibbling over toys and who plays with whom. We know we’ll run out of hot water and milk, and the boat will be out of commission for a couple of days. We assume it will rain the day we plan the campfire. Each year, we know there will be a new “hope that doesn’t happen again!” This year, it was my son-in-law getting stung by ground bees while doing yard work on top of their nest.

Despite the minor annoyances -- like ignored bedtimes and putting out snacks for locust-like devouring with pleas for “more” -- we will pack up our beach glass collections and the Petoskey stones and head back home with a soft spot in our hearts for coming back to this land laid out by our forefathers generations ago.

It’s one of the things I’ve “done right” -- kept up the heritage of the cottage in the tradition of my parents to pass on to my children and theirs and on and on. We make it work because love is forgiving and tenderhearted. We trust that God put us all in the same nest for a reason. This is part of it. Scrabble games, rock skipping, and tennis matches get competitive. It takes some effort to make it work. But in the end, perhaps little 2-year-old Hazel put it best tonight when her mommy tucked her in: “Mommy, this is a great fun!” (We have no clue how she came up with that phrase!)

I thank God for the great times, all the time! There’s something renewing about pulling them out of the memory box when times and seasons change. Treasure your great times this summer so you can pull them out when you need them most!