Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Why Bother with Little Things?

In Casey, IL, a town near us, there's a purple house I love to drive by. It makes me smile.
In Holland, Michigan, I decided to peek into a public greenhouse while my husband browsed some shops, the sight of these red flowers made joy bubble up.
When my fat cat, Wally, smushed himself into this wee basket, I laughed out loud.
What little thing made your day today?

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

How to Predict Weather Like a Pro--or an Early American


How to Predict Weather Like a Pro—Or an Early American

       When we moved from L.A. to Paris, Illinois nineteen autumns ago, someone asked me what I thought of the cooler weather months here. Wrapping the third scarf around my neck and adjusting my earmuffs, I said, “I try not to think about them too much.”


       Not that spinning off the icy highway into a ditch isn’t my idea of a fun new game.  Or that I don’t enjoy drinking seventeen cups of tea a day from September to March—I always did enjoy that burst of energy a strong cup of tea gives.  I even discovered a brand of long underwear that are made from silk, so you don’t have to buy clothes two sizes larger than usual. That’s always gratifying.


       Did you know there is a surefire way to predict winter weather in the fall? According to early American folklore, you can forecast the harshness of an upcoming winter by examining the brown band around a wooly worm’s middle. The thinner the brownish red band, the harsher winter will be. 

Drawing by Ron Levellie
        But I have my own methods.  As we go on a walk up the country lane near our home and I spot a wooly worm scooting across the pavement, I’ll note its coloration. If it’s dark brown or black, representing the bare earth, I predict a mild winter with no snow. If it’s orange—a happy, warm color—I maintain the upcoming winter will be warmer than usual. And if the wooly worm is white or tan, I report that winter will be fast and fun, with snowfall only on Christmas Eve.


      Scientific? Hardly. Accurate? Rarely. But my overly biased wooly worm reports make us laugh every time. And giggles help us get through the long, freezing months better than gripes.  I imagine even the wooly worms laugh. At me. 



Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Why Show Up? A Life Lesson from a Sister in Uganda

When I, along with four others, flew to Uganda earlier this month, I was more excited than a raccoon at an all-you-can-eat crawfish cafĂ©. And in spite of the 20-hours spent on two planes, the GSM mission schools I visited were even better than I expected. 

Can you spot me and my cousin, Patty in
this "Welcome to Uganda" parade?
        The teachers, kids, and all other workers treated us like royalty all week long. But my favorite moment took place the final night I was there. Most of the 1,500 students and dozens of teachers had 
repeatedly thanked us for coming. 

        Finally I asked Peace, the lady who served our meals, why it was so important to them that we five Americans visited the schools. "Wouldn't it have made more sense to send you the thousands of dollars it took to travel here? Wouldn't it have gone farther?" 

       Her answer brought tears to my eyes. 

Peace and I as we said "goodbye" on
my final day in Uganda.

       "Mama Jen," she said, "you can't put a price tag on love. The fact that you saved your money for a year and traveled across the globe to visit us in person shows that you love us. Anyone can send money. But the gift of your presence is priceless." 

Aha. The gift of your presence. That says it all. 

      Is there someone in your life who needs,  more than anything, the gift of your presence today? Fill their life with hope simply by showing up for them. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

When Your Loved One Is in Prison or Jail

In my book, Touchable God, I include a prayer for When a Loved One is in Prison or Jail:

Lord, you see every silent tear not loosed from a heart dry with pain, and You capture every tear set free from a mother’s hurting soul. Give my friend release today, healing, soothing God. Set her wounded spirit free to trust You, even as her son lives behind bars of steel.

No metal forged by men’s hands can keep Your power and love away. Send a divine measure of each to her child today. Assure Him that You are with him, and don’t intend to leave.

Give him a patch of beauty to gaze upon in a gray world, a way to see You care, a note of music in the silent anger. Strengthen his heart against blaming others for his wrongs or condemning himself for mistakes. Soften his heart to hear Your voice of kindness. Help him believe You offer a million new chances to go his way and sin no more.

Protect him from the evil one and his minions who whisper lies in the dark and the day. Keep him from wicked schemes and plots to harm him. Fill his mind with wisdom to choose rightly, from companions to games to reading material. Offer him hope that his future can be as bright as his past and present are dim.

Give my friend surprises of grace along her path strewn with thorns. Lift her feet from the
way of sorrow. Pillow her thoughts on You. May her heart sing with joy in Your embrace, in spite of the tears. Rescue her from every “what if,” proving that shame is not of You.

Send Your Spirit to renew their limp dreams and wounded aspirations. Breathe Your wind on fires of hope, to burn away despair. Release them both into the light of Your presence, a presence filled with hallelujahs for sins forgiven and joys restored. 

References: Psalm 56:8; Hebrews 13:5; Ephesians 3:16; John 17:15; Jeremiah 29:11

If you love someone who's incarcerated, I hope this prayer gives you encouragement and hope! If you know someone who'd like to know God better, please refer them here. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

A Prayer for Every Nation

Here is a prayer for our nation, based on the symbolism of the stars and stripes of the American flag. I've prayed it every day for nearly two years now. The more I pray it, the more I believe it!

I hope it resonates with you, and that you begin to pray it during your conversations with God. 

International readers, this can apply to your country too, since God has chosen every nation to trumpet His call of holiness.

Father of Freedom and Light of the World,
Shine Your stars of truth on every person in these United States of America.
The Sun of Righteousness has come to set us free
    from tyranny, bondage, and darkness. 
Ignite in our souls the courage to stand,
    the holiness of Your Spirit, and
    the boldness of Your throne. 
Justice, come forth!
Valor from Jesus's blood, prevail over Satan!
We are God's chosen nation
    to trumpet His call of holiness to the world!
God's will IS done in our nation!
We WILL fulfill Your plan for us!
America WILL be saved!