Monday, August 31, 2015


"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver."  Proverbs 25:11

Only at the time, I didn’t think the word was very fit or gold or silver. But I was wrong.

I was a semi-confident (ok—truth: not very) young mother with three littles, a husband who loved us dearly but worked all the time, a house and yard to care for and some church stuff to do. Busy, busy.

So, when I got a phone call from the experienced, extremely gifted, exuberant Vacation Bible School director, I was a bit stunned. “Barb,” she said, “I think you should be the VBS Director this year.” Stunned, I was, I tell you. “W...w...hat?” I remember somewhat stammering in surprise (maybe shock would be more descriptive). “Me? No, not me. I couldn’t possibly.” Determination kicked in as I finally got some confidence to reply: “No. I just couldn’t.” The responsibility. The recruiting. The standing up in front of everyone, especially the adults. No, Huh-uh. Never. That’s it.

Only that wasn’t it. The director did not back down and just accept my “I can’t.” “Well, why couldn’t you?” she asked. “Of course you could,” she continued with absolute surety.

Hmmm. She didn’t let me off the hook. She apparently really did think I could do it. She apparently  saw something in me I wasn’t sure was there. Maybe being on that  “hook” was right where I needed to be.   Maybe, just maybe I could do it.

And I did.

Oh, it wasn’t just me who did it. Another friend came alongside and co-directed that Bible School. And, for sure, the Lord was in it. For very sure. But had those affirming - if not exactly welcome at the time - words not been spoken to me in the manner they were and by whom they were, I am positive I would never have been the VBS director. I would have missed personal growth and a closer walk with Jesus. I would have missed joy. I would have missed fun. I would have missed working with someone who turned out to be a good friend. And probably, though I can’t know for certain, I might have missed future opportunities for service.

Since that time a few decades ago, whenever my first inclination is to say “Oh, no, I can’t” to something that comes up, my second is to recall the gift of those old encouraging words and say to myself, “Well, maybe, just maybe I can.” Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” Her confidence-injection helped me to understand that all of us have      God-given gifts and that it’s a waste of His goodness to be parsimonious with them. I also learned how vital it is to let someone know when you see something good in them. Positive support is capable or producing long lasting, positive effects.

So, thank you, Pat Scott, for “stirring me up to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25) with your kind words and for being my encourager in the Lord. A golden apple in a silver setting never tasted so good!

Sunday, May 24, 2015


It was the famous photo album. Or, if you were my mother, the infamous one. “It” was from my dad’s days in the US Army/Air Corps during the tail end of WWII. It contained snapshots of him and his buddies, along with their B-24 and other aircraft. The planes were festooned with fanciful paintings of some rather voluptuous young maidens in various stages of undress—some in no dress at all, which was a very common military practice at the time. That’s really what mom thought it was—common—and we were forbidden to look at it.

Well, of course, you know what happened: we looked at the album whenever we could sneak a peek. “Oh, my! Look at her! And her!” Tee hee, giggle, giggle and all that. Probably the biggest surprise of the whole thing was that it belonged to our dad. It was dad’s! Yikes!

Anyway, the album is now in my youngest brother’s possession. I recently asked if he would scan and email to me some of the “plainer” shots, those that might have my father in uniform, which he did.

These WWII-era photos are tiny, black and white, somewhat grainy and...old. It took under-the-magnifying-glass inspection to figure out how many of the young men staring back at me from so long ago were actually my father. Some obviously were, some definitely were not and a few I wasn’t so sure about. A few handsome fliers sported grins, but most were quite serious. Those were, after all quite serious times. Were the men afraid? Were they worried? Did they wonder if they’d make it back unscathed, back to homes and hearths and honeys—if they had them?

I wondered, as I made this photographic inspection back through time and searched for something telling in his face, what my dad was like then. Was he afraid? Was he worried? My mother was not yet his to get back to and I’m sure I was certainly not yet twinkling in his eye. I realized I did not know much at all about this father. The one I did come to know was not much of a talker and had passed away two years ago, which made him unavailable for talking. I would just not ever know.

But my Heavenly Father? I know lots about Him. He is loving, kind, just, faithful, creative, present, everlasting. It was His desire to make Himself known to us—through His creation and through His Word. “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.” (Romans 1:9). I search the starry sky and see His magnificent face; I search the Words he left me and know without a doubt: that face is turned toward me in a deep, abiding, forever kind of love.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mom, I Remember You

Mother’s Day. Rather like Valentine’s Day in that the cynics tend to call them “Hallmark holidays,” made-up celebrations to increase the coffers of that and other businesses such as the floral and candy types. It pains me when I hear people exclaim over their “hatred” for such days because, first of all, nowhere is it written that one must participate; and, second, I believe we forgetful, insensitive, selfish types (read all of us) need all the reminders and nudges we can get to honor those we love. (And as long as I am complaining when I mean to be honoring, I really, really, REALLY despise the use of the phrase “Mother’s Day s _ _ _ _” – it rhymes with ducks – considering the sordid etymology of that s-word. It might truly be difficult to celebrate the day when one’s mother has passed on, but that crude expression should just be banned when connected to a discussion of mothers. Actually just plain banned.)

My Mom passed away in August 2008 at the age of 83, about a month and a half short of 84. Her health had not been good for her last few years, and considering we know she is now in heaven by virtue of her faith in Jesus Christ, she is where she should be.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss her. I walk by the Mother’s Day cards and don’t buy any. I start to think about what she might like for a gift and remember she now has all the riches she could want. I hear Trisha Yearwood’s sweet song about her mama, “I Remember You” and remember mine.

Mom, I remember:

*Your roast beef dinners, accompanied by your fresh, yeasty biscuits
*Your willingness to always say yes when I asked you to babysit – what a huge help you were to a young mom!
*Your ability to fix all my clothing rips and tears (sorry, I never did learn to fix them myself)
*Your love of really, really clean – toothbrushes scrubbing down the corners, anyone? Did you like to clean, mom?!
*Your constant attempts at instilling your love of really, really clean in me – sorry, that didn’t completely work, either
*Your ability to stretch a dollar, and never letting on to your little ones that that’s what you were doing, because it was a necessity to do the stretching
*Your willingness to always do what had to be done, no matter how tired you were (and in 1957 when you had 4 of us under 5 years old, you had to be tired!)
*Your love for Jesus
*Your desire that I have that love for Jesus myself; thanks, Mom – that one “worked!”
*Your efforts in bringing us all to a good, Bible-believing church every week, most of the time on your own
*Your homemade birthday cakes – no one ever went without one
*Your homemade Halloween costumes – I only ever remember one “store-bought” one and that was borrowed from a friend
*Your constant supply of scrumptious brownies and cookies and pies (why did that stick with me and not the cleaning thing??!!)
*Your determination that your children understand right from wrong – and just why right was right and wrong was wrong
*Your agreement with Tenneva Jordan: A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
*Your obvious tickled delight in 1974 as you spied your first grandchild for the first time at the West Berlin airport – and your bravery in making that trans-Atlantic flight without Dad
*Your just-as-obvious tickled delight the few times you had all your kids and all your grandkids together under one roof
*The fun you and Dad had with Baby Bob in Babbitt (so glad we made that trip!)

Oh, I could go on, remembering. And yes, there’s sorrow when I remember the almost five long years Dad had to spend without Mom. Or that Mom never got to meet her youngest grandchild and five of her great-grandchildren. But in the remembering there is joy and there is gratitude. And a profound sense of blessing for being the children of our mom.

“I can picture you, like a photograph
I can see your smile
I can hear your laugh
No I don't have to look back
I remember you
When I'm all alone
You're all around
I tell you things, yeah I talk out loud
Ever since you left the ground
I remember you
You can ask the sun
You can ask the moon
Every day that goes by
I remember you
And even when
I close my eyes
Like a dream, you come back to life
I can't escape your love, your light
I remember you
And I know some day
Only God knows when
I'll touch your face
And I'll breathe again
And life goes on, so until then
I remember you.” (Trisha Yearwood)

Sunday, April 26, 2015


“Grandma, hold me a little longer, rock me a little more, tell me another story (you’ve only told me four!). Let me sleep on your shoulder, I love your happy smile. I’ll always love you, Grandma, so stay with me a while.” – Karen Tribett
You don’t have to ask me twice, sweet one. You need a little nap? You need a little rock-a-bye time? You got it—Nana’s all yours.
Ruth Hulbert Hamilton was the best advocate for sloth and procrastination (or perhaps more truthfully, for putting first things first) when she penned, “Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow. For babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow. So quiet down, cobwebs, dust, go to sleep. I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep.”
And that’s the truth. It seems my three babies were just babies. Now my baby has three babies and I can hardly call two of them that word anymore. Eleven years ago I was gleefully anticipating grandmotherhood for the first time and now that boy is anticipating middle school. His seven year old brother’s darling little boy looks are almost a thing of the past as he races along to keep up with his older sibling. I do fondly remember rocking both of them to sleep, eons ago, but memory fades and it’s hard to grasp a good hold of it.
That’s why, with this third doll-baby blessing, I’m trying to make a permanent indentation into my brain cells every time she falls asleep in my arms. I want to hold her with my skin, hold her with my feelings, hold her with my eyes. I want to memorize her soft breaths, the smell of her baby head. I want to hold her forever, even if it’s only in my heart. To her, her brothers and each of my own doll babies, I would have to say: you are pretty much my favorite of all time in the history of ever!
There’s another thing I try to remember whenever I get a chance to hold onto my grandgirl: God’s got a hold on me, too. He’s got me in a daddy embrace that’s tighter than my Nana-hold could ever be. He holds me in sad times, uncertain times, times of discomfort, times of pain. In joyful times, thrilling times, times of possibility, times of hope—He’s got me in a forever hold. Christ declared in John 10:28: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  When I asked Him to forgive my sins and He became my Savior, I became, so to speak, His favorite of all time in the history of ever.
Who’s got hold of you? 


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

“Our house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.” ~Author Unknown
My theory is the same as Unknown’s there. As long as it’s my family’s dirt. Because as everyone knows, your own dirt isn’t that dirty. It’s not that germy. You might be able to write a letter in your dusty tabletops, but hey—it’s your dust.
But that philosophy goes out the (it better be clean!) window when you rent a hotel room. We always stay with a pretty nice chain, but other people’s dirt? Rooms aren’t sandblasted, fumigated and sterilized after each customer, I know, but still. Ewww. Other people’s dirt is dirty! I don’t want to see it. I want it vacuumed up, wiped off and—gone!
I always wear slippers, sandals or socks when walking on hotel room carpets ‘cause, well, you know. Recently I forgot, got out of bed and landed a bare foot into a spot of some sticky something on the floor. And it wasn’t my sticky. It creeped me out as I took some gummy, tacky little hopping adhesive steps all the way to the bathroom.
In the shower I was happily soaping off the remnants of the day when I noticed the water level creeping up my legs. The drain was not completely, but kind of, plugged. And included with the soapy water came a bit of black stuff. I don’t know what the drain dirt was, but this creeped me out, too. It wasn’t my black stuff! (Truth to tell, I wouldn’t have liked this in my own tub!, but still…)
I am so very thankful that Jesus doesn’t feel that way about dirt. After all, He never had any of His own. Of Christ Peter said, “Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth.” (I Peter 2:22)
And my dirt? My sin? The Lamb of God didn’t strive to avoid it. Because of His holiness He had to be repulsed by it, but He willingly embraced it—and took it upon Himself! On purpose! That day He died on the cross, He died and rose again for me and all my petty jealousy, my laziness, my meanness—every sticky, yucky, icky thing in me. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Imagine that—righteousness in exchange for dirt! I could have done nothing less than accept what He did for me in cleaning me up, in His forever way. Because of Easter, I get to live in His happy, heavenly house for eternity! With no dirt anywhere!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


“What is right is often forgotten by what is convenient.”   ~Bodie Thoene, Warsaw Requiem
It would have been a lot more convenient to just forget about it. But that would not have been right.
I knew it was only two dollars worth of right, but right nonetheless. I had to turn around and go back in.
The case of water was heavy. I had hoisted it up from the store’s display and released it into the shopping cart with a thud. The checker can just zap it with her price gun, I thought to myself. I won’t take it out of the cart. And that’s the last thought I had about it until I was loading it and my other groceries into my car on that frigid cold day.
As soon as I touched the water I realized I had not paid for it. The checkout clerk, I was pretty sure, had not noticed it. And I had not noticed her not noticing it. I was standing there shivering, but just to be sure, I dug out my receipt and scanned it. And scanned it again. Nope. No $1.99 case of water bottles on the bill. No water at all.
Now, as I said, this was a “we’re all freezing here” kind of day. I was cold. I wanted to go home. I did not want to trudge back into the store, stand in line at the service desk and tell my story about how I’d walked out of the store without paying for my water. But I did. Because it was the honest thing to do. Because it’s what God would want me to do. And because I’d probably choke on that water if I didn’t (just kidding, but you never know…).
Speaking of being honest, I fully expected the service desk employee to say something like, “Wow. You came back in to pay for this water. How nice of you!”
She did not. She was annoyed. She was suspicious. Kind of like I had “snuck” out of the store with this large, bulky item in plain view, and then inexplicably had an attack of conscience once I hit the parking lot. She literally had her hand out, waiting for me to pay up.
Huh. Not what I expected. Not at all. Truth to tell, I was expecting to be thanked for being honest.
But, really? Thanked for what I knew in my heart was only right? Aristotle once said that “the least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold.” And though, in the scheme of things, two measly little dollars wasn’t much, not paying would be a definite “deviation from the truth.”
And God is all about truth. Psalm 15:1,2 says,O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart.” “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much,” said Jesus (Luke 16:10), “and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
Not paying the $1.99 would have been dishonest. It would not have been right. Though I owed very little, not paying would have made me dishonest in much. And I didn’t need to be thanked for being obedient. I just needed to obey.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either.”  ~Golda Meir

If you’ve never heard someone weep with their whole heart you’ve never been the one on duty when a precious little one year old falls and bonks her face into your table. And on your watch.

I allow my granddaughter to mess around in my recliner-side magazine bucket. (It’s a grandmotherly prerogative to allow one’s daughter’s child to do the messing around one didn’t allow the daughter to do!) Anyway, the bucket contained an especially enticing little red plastic notebook and Spencer crawled away with it – over toward the living room coffee table. She stood up on teetering little legs and proceeded to topple over. The resulting “thump” of the topple sounded worse than I guess it was as no mountainous lump erupted on her baby head. She did, however, have marks on her baby face where the now offensive notebook apparently smacked her soundly.

At first there was no sound. Then…and then…and then...wailing! Sobbing! And that was just Nana! Well, kinda. We were both crying, if the truth be known. Her tears were of the “oh, I bonked my face and I am surprised and it hurts” kind and mine were of the “oh, my baby girl bonked her face and now my heart hurts” kind. This drama was followed by the hiccupping, sucking air thing babies do after a face-plant or similar result of gravity, followed by the back patting, cooing and rock-a-by-ing that Nanas do to remedy the situation.

Spencer was left with a bit of a swollen lip and a couple red spots on her cheek, but I don’t think her beauty will be marred forever. I suspect that the incident is over and done with in her mind. But not in mine. I will remember her first real “owie” and the pain of those dripping tears. For a long time. They fell deep into my heart and imbedded themselves there. This baby girl is that important to me.

Which made me remember a Scripture about God remembering my tears. In Psalm 56:8 (NLT) the writer says to God, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Wow. Imagine that! I am—and you are - so important to Him, among the billions and billions of people alive now and the billions and billions and billions of those who have ever lived, that He collects our tears in bottles! He writes them down in a book! (The heavenly bottle factory and book binding businesses must be quite the booming industries up there!).

It’s so comforting to realize that God is aware of our sorrow and that it matters to Him. In Isaiah 38:5, God told the prophet to go to King Hezekiah and say, “I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears.” And one day, God tells us, He Himself will just eliminate them: “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17, ESV).

How we long for that day! (And until then, you should know that, as a precaution, my coffee  table was moved to the bedroom!)