Friday, May 31, 2013

He inclines His ear

Last week, the carnival came to Borger!  We have a long history of the carnival in Borger.  But when I saw the Ferris wheel, a plan began to hatch.  We'd planned on watching Ryan & Addie Thursday night while their parents went to worship rehearsal at their church.  I thought it would be fun to take them for a couple of rides.  (The carnival also has a history of being expensive.)  But that day, a storm was brewing in Borger, so we didn't decide to take them until the last minute.  We didn't tell them where we were going but when they got their first glimpse, they were ecstatic!  I quickly told them the plan.  I told them we were only going to ride two rides, so we'd walk through the whole carnival and look at each ride and then they could choose which two they'd each ride.  Pops bought the tickets and off we went.  In the meantime, I'd texted mom and asked if we could also have a treat and she gave permission for funnel cake.  We looked at all the rides and the guys  made their way to the airplanes....

 while Addie & I went to the merry-go-round...

After the first ride, Pops tried to talk them into riding the small roller coaster.  Ryan kept trying to talk one of us into riding with them, but we told them if one of us rode, someone would have to sit alone.  They reluctantly agreed to ride.  (They'd ridden a much bigger roller coaster at Wonderland last year!)  So when they got on, I asked the attendant if I could get up there and take their pic.  I told them to raise their hands like they were riding and I was taking their pic.  Ryan wasn't too sure...

The ride began and I could tell Ryan didn't like it.  He was trying to tell the attendant to "STOP!"  But...because it was supposed to storm, the crowd was sparse and the attendants were giving extra-long rides.  They were champs and I knew it would be the one ride they'd talk about for weeks.  The surprise was that all of the rides didn't require as many tickets as we thought and they could ride one more ride.  But the best surprise came when I told them they could have FUNNEL CAKE!  They don't normally get to eat grains or sugar, so it was a special treat.  Their first question was, "Did Momma say we could eat this??"  

They chowed down!!  (It really was yummy!)  We had to leave quickly because the rain really did come (it always rains during carnival week!)--but it was a fun ending to our time at the carnival.  When we got home, they finished their funnel cake and then got ready for bed. Mom & Dad didn't get home until a few hours later...and wouldn't hear about the carnival until the next morning.

I was downstairs the next morning, but my door was open and I could hear the kids as they began to tell their mom & dad all about the carnival.  They were excited and very animated.  I was laughing to myself because the main topic of that conversation was the dreaded roller coaster.  I couldn't hear every word and was tempted to go upstairs...but I knew it was a parent-child moment.  So instead...I inclined my ear.  I was listening as intently as I could.  I wanted to catch every word and nuance of that conversation.  After all...I had initiated that memory and delighted in that time together...and was delighting hearing them tell about it.

Later, that morning, I was reading Psalm 116:2 and it says, "Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live."  I immediately knew what that meant!  God inclines His ear to me--He wants to hear every part of my conversation.  After all, He created me, He made the plan that is my life, and He delights in me.  He is inclining to hear what I have to say about it.  (He's also journaling about every word I think or say about Him. Malachi 3:16)  He inclines His ear to me.

I began a practice after that day.  I began inclining my ear to Him.  I've always tried to spend time hearing God, but this is different.  I stretch my hearing to heaven to hear what He is saying to me or about me.  After all...He delights in me.  

Amazing what you can learn from taking grandkids to the carnival.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Recently, I was talking to a good friend who has a large personality and is doing a very alone job--not what you'd expect.  He pours himself out spiritually and emotionally every day.  As we were parting, he told me, "With this job, I have to get my pats on the back from God.  You just don't get many kuddos with what I do."  And to that I say...."WELCOME TO MOTHERHOOD!"

You girls know what I'm talking about.  You change one poopy diaper after another, you chase the trail of Cheerios across the house, you step on toys that were in their toy box just five minutes ago, you feed two little mouths breakfast, snack, lunch, and snack...and wonder if you ate, you put them down for a nap hoping you'll get a few seconds of rest and at least one child decides to cry and whine the entire time, you mange to catch a short shower and can't even squeeze in drying your hair (let alone put on make-up) because one child is tugging at your hem, you start supper and realize you forgot to put meat out to thaw and choose the easiest thing you can find, you never have time to pick up toys...and then enters your husband to a supper of fish sticks.  99.8% of those husbands will have the same response.  Most won't say anything, but their body language says it all:  "What have you been doing all day???"

Motherhood is a thankless job.  No one is patting you on the back for a job well done.  Most don't even notice.  The world asks if you have a "real job."  People notice your parenting skills only when your child misbehaves--which they choose to do in a very public setting.  But of course, you have those who want to offer you their "sound advice" because they  mothered so perfectly.  The church doesn't help much.  They expect you to spend your time in the nursery--not only being with your own child, but a dozen other munchkins their age--when those who've been through the battle should know to give the ones in the trenches a little R&R.

I don't spout all this to incite bitterness in young mothers I know.  I want to remind the rest of us to be quick to give a pat on the back to young mothers around us.  And I don't mean an actual pat on the back.  I know something a young mother would appreciate is a gift certificate for a pedicure, a restaurant, a babysitter.  I remember one woman brought me a basket full of lotions when I was in the middle of six consecutive weeks of chicken pox with three kids.  I never forgot that.  ANYTHING that says, "I see you.  I know what a hard job you have."  For husbands?  Don't walk in after a day of work (with other adults and lunch out) and have expectations.  Come home ready to roll up your sleeves and give your wife a break and some adult conversation.

I notice...Amy, Lisa, Lindsey & Shanna!  I love you.  I'm proud of you and the job you're doing.  Remember (and it's really true):  The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.  You are investing in little lives who will stand in and for the next generation.  It's a thankless and alone job at times.  You may get frustrated, exhausted and cranky.  But keep the goal in sight--young adults who will leave your home and love God.  You may never be thanked.  But rest assured in this--God knows.  He's called you to this and equipped you for this.  And He will see you through.  Thank you.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What I Learned in Disaster Relief

Devastation in Moore, OK

In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, a group of us from Borger went to help with the clean-up near New Orleans, Louisiana.  I learned a lot on that trip.  Gayle White & I worked under a tent all day sorting clothing.  Next to us was a tent where they handed out toiletries.

Here's what I learned.  PLEASE, PLEASE do not send your cast-off clothing!  Go to Wal-Mart, Target, J.C. Penneys and buy NEW socks, underwear, boots or tennis shoes, jeans, shorts and t-shirts.  (Flip-flops are not useful in debris!)  Many of these stores will give you a handsome discount when they know you're sending things to Oklahoma for the tornado victims.  Go to Lowe's or Home Depot and buy work gloves, buckets, face masks, and work goggles and send them to Oklahoma.  Same for the discounts...just ask!  Then go to CVS and Walgreens and buy soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors and shaving cream, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream and send it.  Ask for a discount--or use coupons and get them free!  (You might even go to motel chains and ask for their toiletry samples.)  Then go to United Supermarkets, Homeland, Central Market and buy baby food, formula and water and send it.  Again...ask for a discount.  Everyone wants to help!!

What we found in that tent in Lousiana was a boatload of un-useful things!!  We spent HOURS wading through coats, prom dresses, and totally useless stuff.  IT'S HOT!!!!  No one wants your coats or prom dresses.  And wading through that kind of junk eats up the time volunteers could be doing more helpful things.  When victims came, they were mostly looking for t-shirts and socks.  Buy bulk packages in all sizes.  It will be very much appreciated!!!  And for goodness' sake, tie shoes together!!!  We worked on a 6 ft x 6 ft x 6 ft box full of shoes not paired up.  I don't have to tell you how frustrated we were!!

Think, think, and think again when you're sending things to help.  Will it really be helpful?  Will this consume volunteers' time?  How can I best package this to make it easy for everyone?  (Gallon size  bags with a variety of toiletries per family is really helpful!)  And most importantly...will it really get there?  Some organizations don't automatically send your donations to the disaster site.  It may be put in a store or kept in their disaster donation storage.  Trust who you send your things through--to get it where you want it to go when you want it to get there.

SEND NEW THINGS!  Ask yourself, "Is this something I would want?  Would I wear this?  Will this be helpful?"  Then...send those things. 

Or...send a check to:
Ryan McLaughlin
1423 SW 132nd Street
Oklahoma City, OK 74170

The McLaughlins are very involved in sharing the love of Christ to families who lost everything--including their precious children.  These families also had no insurance.  The money raised will help with funeral expenses and replacing much-needed items.  Be the arms and feet of Jesus to these families!!  (I heartily endorse the people involved in this mission--you can totally trust every dime will be used for these families!!)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Last week, we took Andy's mom to Mineral Springs, Arkansas to see her sister, Beverly.  Below are some of my favorite photos I took while I was there.

Beverly & Liz

Shopping at Sam's in Texarkana

Praying with the family

Bell/Dietz Dynasty

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Guardian by Beverly Lewis

Jodi Winfield is accepted into an Amish community after finding and rescuing 4-year-old Sarah Esh who had inadvertently fallen out of her family carriage.  Sarah's mom, Maryanna, was a young widow with four children who had already experienced great loss when her husband was killed in an accident.  She was totally dependent on the men in her Amish community to find little Sarah who was the light of her life.  But it was Jodi, an Englischer, who stumbled upon Sarah as she was jogging.  Because Sarah was so frightened and because Jodi was so kind, a strong bond was formed between the two.  After Jodi returned Sarah to her family, she was invited inside a community which was usually closed to Englischers.
The friendship between Jodi & Maryanna became so strong that they soon felt like sisters.  Both women had issues.  Jodi had turned from God and the desire to have children in her future when her sister died of leukemia.  Her fiance', Trent, was heartbroken over that decision because he hoped for children in his future.  Maryanna couldn't imagine another man in her life, even though her parents were encouraging her in that direction.  Her own children were showing her through their actions that they needed a man to guide them.  Two men began vying for Maryanna's attention and suggesting marriage.  God had certainly brought these two young women together to help one another toward healing in their own lives.

This is a very sweet Amish story.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.  Thank you to BethanyHouse for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255