my mom

“My mom says you make the other moms look bad.”

For about five years I had been making lunch for students from the Senior High by our house once a week when a young girl said this to me. What started as lunch for around 6 students had become lunch for around 50 – sometimes more. I had no intention of being compared to other moms. I was just being obedient to something God had placed on my heart while working with youth at our church – something small that grew over the years (especially when my 2 kids were both at the Senior High).

I remember pondering this comment while cleaning up that Friday afternoon, thinking how things that come easy for one person can be daunting for another. I also thought about how we have to fight to keep from comparing ourselves to others.  Then I remember thinking about my mom. You see, it was my mom that taught me to serve in this way, to cook for large groups, to love people. She did that well.

Growing up, we would tease that she did not know how to cook for just the four of us. I am now like her. You should see the chili in my fridge from dinner a couple of nights ago – cooking for two is HARD! Good thing I like leftover chili. (If you want to try a good recipe, try this).

Not only did she cook too much for our family, my mom showed me the gift of feeding/loving people when she provided meals for a local community program that was serving men and women with AIDS. This was in the late 1980s at the height of the AIDS “crisis.”  I can’t remember the name of the place, but I remember going with her to deliver the meals when I was home from college and watching her engage the people there. I remember taking the meals for her if she had a conflict and talking to the men and women who were so appreciative of what my mom did. She made it look easy.

She taught me to love people. She didn’t just tell me to love; she modeled it for me. So, when my small “Friday Lunch” became quite large, I just did what my mom had taught me – I cooked another pan or two of whatever was on the menu for that day and loved on those students. And, I know that if my mom had been around, she would have been there right in the middle of it all, helping me, loving me.

Yet, as much as she loved me and others, her love was not perfect. And, as thankful as I am for my mom, I am so much more thankful to my God who has demonstrated perfect love to me.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

In God’s perfect love, He saved me.

In His perfect love, he has given me His Spirit.

And, in His perfect love, he gave me my mom.

Today marks seventeen years since my mom passed away. Oh, how I miss her. She was a silly, crazy, loving mom.

In honor of her, I want to encourage you  –  find that talent or ability God created in you. If you aren’t sure what it is, ask God to reveal it to you. Ask your friends to help you. Then, ask Him to show you how to use it to shine His light through you.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

two dads

Sixteen years ago today my dad died.

It is hard to believe it has been that long.

I miss him.

He was a giant of a man in stature and in personality. He had a big heart and big emotions (for better or worse). He loved me.

When I was in the fifth grade he chaperoned a field trip. I thought that was so cool that MY dad would choose to miss work to go on a field trip with me and my classmates. That was back when dads didn’t really do that; it is one of my favorite memories from childhood.

When he was sick and living with my family, my kids got to share a room. One night I went in to check on the kids, and the girl child was missing!!! I peeked into my dad’s room (which had been the girl’s room), and she was curled up in the “hospital” bed with him – both sound asleep. What a sweet memory.

He may not have been perfect (nobody is), but he was one of the first people to introduce me to my other dad – my heavenly Father.

Here are some truths about my Father:

My Father has adopted me into His family – changing my status from slave to child (Galatians 4:4-7)

My Father is the giver of good and perfect gifts (James 1:17).

My Father loves (1 John 3:1, 4:7 and many more).

Knowing my Father loves me, calls me His child, and gives good gifts is a blessing.

When I am discouraged, these truths encourage.

When the world seems hopeless, these truths bring hope.

When I am sad and miss my dad, these truths are comfort.

Knowing my dad was a gift; he made a huge impact on my life.

Knowing my Father is a gift; He has transformed my life.


failing before starting

How do you fail before starting? Well, I did just that. I had the desire to begin writing some of the things I am learning, experiencing, thinking. I wanted to name this blog something that fit my personality – maybe something catchy. Driving around my old stomping grounds (I miss you – here come the misty eyes), I came up with “a joyful adventure.”

Adventure was a given. It is the word I use to describe all kinds of daily experiences. My family thinks I am a little crazy as I find adventure in so many things – like when God buys my soda at the gas station (you can ask me about that later), or when I find myself chatting with a stranger, or when I join a neighborhood boot camp. Adventure is EVERYWHERE!!

Joyful just seemed to fit. It is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and I believe it is a choice. It is a word I want to describe my life, my heart, my interactions. So, the name was determined.

And then…

I failed at joy.

Before my first blog post, I failed at joy.

In the process of packing up my home of 21 years to move to another city in another state where I only know a handful of people, I failed at joy.

Basketcase would have been a better description. My precious, kind husband has experienced too many unexplainable tears. He blames it on hormones, which is a big possibility, but it is also much deeper. I was having a hard time explaining it.

It wasn’t the goodbyes (although those were tough) – I was (I am) very excited for this next part of our journey. It wasn’t getting rid of things – that was extremely freeing. After getting our kids off to their spring semester of college, I think I have pinpointed it.

It is fear. It is doubt. It is sin.

I was afraid of what I was going to do. For those who don’t know me, I am a stay at home empty nester. Having lived in the same area for the past 24 years, I realized my identity has been tied up in the many things I was doing at our church, in our community. I was moving to a new place. It is like a blank page that is exciting with so much promise yet terrifying with all the unknown. Insecurities, I didn’t know I had, surfaced, and I believed the lies.

When people ask you what you do, what will you say?

How will you find new friends?

How will you fill your days?

In these questions, I doubted God’s goodness. I doubted His sovereignty. I doubted His plan. I am so thankful that failure isn’t final. My failure to walk in joy and trust God is not the end. It was just a moment in my adventure. I am thankful that God graciously and patiently showed me the sin in my heart. I am so thankful he reminded me that my true identity is in Him alone. I am thankful for forgiveness.

I am spending 2018 reading through the New Testament. I am asking God, like the father in Mark 9, “I believe; help my unbelief.” And, I am asking Him to let me walk this adventure with joy. There is so much joy to be found in my new neighborhood, and I don’t want to miss it!

So, if you are experiencing some of what I have been feeling. If you feel like a basketcase, I am praying that you will stop and look to Jesus. I am praying you will join me in asking God to help our unbelief. I am praying that you will join me in receiving God’s grace that he lavishes on His children (Ephesians 1:8). I am praying that you will find joy in your adventure.