A Thursday For Your Thoughts; Freedom to Feel Better

Today’s guest post is by Kaitlin Cook

Those of us that live in America love the word Freedom. Every patriotic holiday we are reminded of our Freedom and those who have sacrificed themselves for that freedom. We are so “free” we have “freedom fries” and “freedom toast” (because the French are not free enough to be associated with our fried potato sticks and fluffy breakfast bread).

What about our freedom from and for something besides America?

I have started this new “diet”. I am not trying to lose weight so hang with me a little longer. I lived with “reflux like symptoms” my whole life, but no diagnosis could be found. TMI ALERT: It is super miserable to finish eating and then have half of your meals come back up, hoping no one else at the table notices. One day my father-in-law started going to see a voo-doo doctor (not really, we just call her this). She specializes in Nutrition Response Testing (more info here).

So I gave in, and I went.

It is super crazy what she does and tells you all of the things your body “doesn’t like”. Hmm…that’s weird my body sure liked these foods of 20+ years before. I have been on this for a week now and have DREADED eating. I can have protein, veggies, and water. I also have an aluminum intolerance so nothing can come out of a can. I know you’re thinking “that’s not hard”. I would love to hear your yummy recipes with no eggs, milk, cheese, wheat, rye, sugar, flour, and fruit. Oh I cannot forget 4 supplements a day. Needless to say, it is EXHAUSTING trying to find dinner.

Monday, as I was thinking about my diet, what to eat, etc. and I realized some people feel like this about being a Christian. I see all of my secular friends wearing the cutest clothes, but if I were to put that on, my modest mouse self couldn’t bring myself out of the dressing room, much less the cash register. I would love to be able to sleep in on Sunday mornings like I have heard other people talk about, but I am in church. So why does being a Christian sometimes feel like a restricting diet?

Try the condition of your heart. Is your heart longing for God or for things of this world?

I am so glad I am a modest mouse and don’t give another man’s eye the opportunity to “wonder” more than their minds already do. There are certain parts of my body that are for my husband, not for yours. I am so grateful to go to church on Sunday and worship an awesome God with some amazing Christians and role models. I chose in my heart to follow Christ and I have so much freedom to love and be loved because of it. Pure, holy love. We are brought out of nothing, to be SET FREE!

Romans 6:6-7  We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.


This is how I am going to choose to look at my diet from now on. It will no longer be the Burden to Eat Healthy, it will be the Freedom to Feel Better. Just like my relationship with Christ is not a Burden to Follow Jesus, but a Freedom to Have Eternal Life.

Here’s to our Freedom.

About Kaitlin:

Kaitlin’s my virtual buddy. We’ve got a couple of awesome mutual friends on Facebook and mostly got connected that way. She’s a bold and beautiful gal who’s not afraid to share her faith including a thought or too that might not be the most popular (according to the world’s standards).  She “tells it like it is” in the most gracious manner. Kaitlin and I have done a little geographical switcheroo when it comes to our abodes. I’m from central Texas where she now lives. Her roots are here in Southeast Texas where I now I hang my hat. Let her know you appreciate her thoughts today. 

And let me know if you have something to share on “A Thursday for Your Thoughts”…Maybe a yummy recipe for a wheat free muffin for Kaitlin or your own story of freedom. 

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! 

I’m thankful for those before us who have served. My gratitude is for women and men who are currently serving (like Kaitlyn’s husband). Let’s remember those who’ve gone before us, and also not forget to pray for those currently defending freedom. Pray for their families. 

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What’s Your Testimony?

It’s a question we’re rarely asked outright, but it’s a question we should know the answer to. 

The third through sixth grade is in the middle of a study on what it means to be a Christian. I’m teaching tomorrow on “Sharing your testimony”. I’ve taught this exact study before and am a little dumbfounded this morning. As I jot down my testimony to share in the morning, I’m noticing that it’s a little different than it was when I shared it three years ago. 

I’m a little groggy from cold medicine as I type, but I can’t help thinking this morning that our testimony is like a diamond.

 It’s of great value. Our testimony is how we were pointed to God and how we’ve received eternity by trusting in him. A gift like eternity is worth sharing  1.because telling others is one way to show gratitude for what God is doing in our life 2. Because our story may point another to Him

Each testimony has brilliant quality, capable of shining in the right light. Your testimony can never be too boring to share nor is it so dark that it can’t shed light. 

In Him was life, and that life was the light of all men. 

John 1:4

Shine it. 

 Our testimony has many facets. My testimony is forty plus years long. God started my story when I was “woven together” before birth. My testimony includes my struggles and what God teaches me through them. It’s how he saved me and is saving me. It’s a book with many chapters and important pages. Though He’s constant, my relationship with him is dynamic. 

You’ve a magnificent story that God is writing in your life. Stories are meant to be told. 

Here’s my testimony on fear. 

I probably wanted to crawl back in the womb the moment I was born. I don’t remember ever being fearless. My mom tells stories of how I was terrified of men with facial hair, before I should have been old enough to distinguish such features. I was scared of going to the doctor and made life for my mom quite difficult anytime she had to take me. I can still hear the crinkling of the paper you sat on while the doctor would come at you with the wooden tongue depressor. I remember the smell of the room and an awful painted picture of a clown that hung on the wall (A clown in a doctor’s office? He should have known better.)

I accepted Christ as my savior at an early age. My family was at a revival at our church that we attended regularly. I don’t remember ever NOT going to church. I don’t remember what the pastor said the night I was saved. I only remember the feeling I had when the invitation came. The Holy Spirit was nudging me to walk the aisle. For the first verse or two of the invitation the hammering of my heart was louder than that nudge. Strangely though, by the third, God’s assurance that He was with me was enough for me to inch sideways to the edge of our pew. I don’t remember telling my parents, or asking them. I just walked. 

The pastor explained the invitation I had from God by placing a dime in the palm of his hand and extending it toward me. He said something like this, “This dime is a gift I want you to have, but I would never make you take it. The choice is yours.”. 

I accepted the gift that night and then started to worry about baptism. I was afraid of the water and didn’t like to be in front of people. I would be obedient I thought. But I wouldn’t like it. Despite my fear, my experience in being put under the waters was something exhilarating, something new. I was learning of God’s peace and His presence in the midst of fear. His assurance that He would be with me in scary times. 

I wouldn’t be rid of my struggle with fear and worry. After I became a Christian I was scared of coyotes jumping through my window. 

Of “robbers”

When Adam Walsh went missing I was deathly afraid I’d be abducted. 

Fear is something I continue to struggle with. I have an unhealthy fear of more things than I’d like to share. I’d rather lose my pinky toe than drive in a big city like Houston. I fear losing my loved ones. I’m constantly afraid I’ve said the wrong thing (even though I rarely stop talking or typing). I worry about people not liking me; doing things wrong and being a disappointment. 

Fear is a stronghold.

 It takes someone stronger than my fears to get me through. I need a constant friend; one who doesn’t tire from hearing my unreasonable worries. I need One who reminds me that the giant obstacles I face are a blip in the face of eternity. 

In Christ, I am reminded that death and defeat have been overcome. One day all fear will be vanquished, until then He offers peace. Endure the terrifying and experience peace in the midst of it and then you understand “peace that passes understanding”. 

Yes. I still tremble with fear; of things imagined and with realities I face. 

But then there’s this. 

…I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Romans 8:38-39

Love conquers fear. 

It’s a long battle. But love is on my side. 

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Granny’s Cotton

I must have walked ten million miles 

Must have walked ten million miles

Wore some shoes that weren’t my style

Fell into the rank and file

So just say I was here a while

Ten million miles    -Patty Griffin

Today was Grandparent’s Day at Helena Park Elementary. Maybe that’s why I woke up thinking about my Granny’s cotton. Here’s a picture of it. 

These are two of many pieces she picked in her lifetime. They were a fixture in her car. Riding with her you’d always see them hanging from her rear view mirror. They were there as a reminder, she said, of hard work. 
She didn’t complain or tell me a sad story. She only told me when I asked as a young girl why she had cotton on her mirror.  She only needed to tell me once. Her life would spin a story that words couldn’t tell. 

 I interviewed her during high school about her life during the Great Depression. Regretfully I don’t have the paper I wrote. I know she answered questions I had about the difficulties of that time, but the only thing I can remember is her telling me about a time she got to go to the movies. She stressed the good parts of life. 

She raised five children and thought each one was near perfect. My dad said he wasn’t. 

That I’m aware of, she never had a new house or a new car.  Moving from town to town to another house in need of repair was a way of life for her while raising kids. 

She spoiled us grandkids with Campbell’s ABC soup, sugar and butter bread, and vegetables cooked in bacon grease. At night she let us crawl up in bed with her and scratched our backs until she grew too sleepy. Then she threatened that if we didn’t stop talking she’d send us to sleep by ourselves in the living room where some of us had decided a witch lived in the chimney. 

I don’t remember a time when my Granny could take deep breaths. Her lungs were weak for as long as I can remember. She was in the hospital more times than I can count. 
Her life wasn’t easy, but trouble wasn’t the essence of her story. 


It was her remembrance of the good in the midst of the terrible. It was her way of taking off-brand cans of mixed vegetables and cooking up something wonderful. 

…It was the way, when her memory was failing her, that she’d write the grandkids’ and greats’ names on a spiral notebook over and over so that she’d remember. 

It was her keeping her purse at the foot of the hospital bed that contained a tube of lipstick she’d bought at the pharmacy. She was never without her purse or her lipstick. She was beautiful and strong even when she was frail. 

It was all this and her wearing a scarf and long sleeves to cover up her bruised and aged skin that made it matter so much what was underneath. 

The stories lived will be remembered more than the stories told. 

Thank you God for Granny. 

Thank you for the stories of grandparents. Thank you that their past has the power to beautifully shape our future. 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us…Romans 15:4

May we give back to them the gift of our presence. 

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Dance With Your Children 

Ten years ago Jason performed the wedding ceremony for one of his best high school buddies. It was a beautiful ceremony.

The reception was equally exceptional. I accepted every appetizer the server offered including seconds on the mini quiches that came back around for re-runs. 

That wasn’t my only unbecoming behavior. There was a grand dance floor that I’d determined not to set foot on. 

…That is until my ten year old scooted his seat back from the table and walked around to where I was. I imagine I was just about to put the sixth hors d’oeuvre in my mouth when he extended his hand and said 

“Dance with me mama”. 

As lovestruck as I was at the notion of dancing with my son, I wasn’t sure I wanted to dance in front of all those people. 

I’d never danced, outside my feeble attempt at the two-step at my high school prom. 

I’d look ridiculous 

But he was inistent so

I was willing. 

We danced, my son and I.

 I’m sure he stepped on my feet and I likely stepped on his, not including the times I side-stepped in a narrow miss. There were assuredly moments our movements were out of sync, our steps hardly familiar to common choreography. Maybe we were unsightly for a turn.  But we danced.  

Now ten years later I understand that the dance is less about the proper steps than it is the holding of his hand; those few precious, close moments on the dance floor. 

Yesterday I fussed at all three of my kids. I’m convinced they deserved most of what I said. It was a tacky tango. 

The youngest didn’t make it past 7AM before I snatched her kindle from her (a discipline measure barely short of a death sentence). She had responded to a question with a huffy “Got it!”,  whereas I’ve given adequate training as to a more appropriate response “Yes ma’am” or “I understand” (without the eye roll). 

There was a frustrating exchange with my teenage daughter too. An hour after I accused her of being the bossiest person I know I redacted my statement.  “You’re probably just somewhere in the top ten ,” I corrected myself, hoping our sense of humor could hijack the stressed conversation. 

I got on to our oldest in front of his buddies yesterday (when he wouldn’t answer his phone) because he hadn’t done what I’d asked yet. 

These are just a few of the simple mishaps of a twelve hour span yesterday.  I feel no shame in sharing them. There are worse parenting struggles I’ve encountered in time whose details reside in most tender parts of my heart. These difficulties include when your kid shuts you out. …kid problems that you want you to fix but you don’t know how. …kid struggles that you aren’t fixing because you’re distracted, overwhelmed or entirely too annoyed. Maybe you’ve had a season where you’re completely broken concerning motherhood. 

Ecclesiastes 3:4 

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…

Yes there will be those occasions, many of them, where our interaction with our children looks more like fumbling feet than dancing. One partner seems unwilling, wanting nothing more than to temporarily walk off the dance floor. 

May it not be us. 

There will be times we’re painfully aware of fellow dancers who appear to have their steps down pat. 

May we mind our own steps; seeing beauty in our unique rhythm

Let us remember that dancing is an art of grace; where mother and child both misstep and then forgive. 

May we treasure those moments where our kids have more faith in us than we have in ourselves. May we learn to have a little faith in ourselves knowing the creator of the dance is alongside us. 

 Be willing. Show grace. Be grateful. Take delight. 

Dance with your children. 

The invitation is only open for a time. 

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The World Needs More Caroles

I’d rather scrub a pot with two day old dried-up residue from boiled chicken than go get groceries. In fact, yesterday I did that (as well as any other thing I could find to do) to avoid going to the store. My elbow grease is stronger than my shopping resolve. But I went to Walmart this morning and it wasn’t so bad. My Walmart trip was made more pleasant by an employee named Carole. 

I met Carole last weekend while shopping, only I didn’t know she was Carole. I just knew she was the lady that helped me find the spicy mayonnaise I was looking for. 

  

I’d looked in the mayonnaise section and in the ethnic aisle with no luck. She just so happened to be stocking shelves somewhere around the pickles. So I asked her if she knew where I could find it. I can’t tell you how many times in different stores I’ve asked an employee if they know where an item is and they respond with “No”, not “Let me help you find it”. 

Carole and I looked, but couldn’t find the mayo I was searching for. Already an hour into shopping, I quickly gave up. About five minutes later, she found me aisles over in produce with a smile and the jar of the spicy mayonnaise. She waved it in the air; a flag symbolizing the anticipated exodus. I could finally check out. 

Customer service is a big deal for those of us who have looped aisles seven through nine several times looking for flax seed. An employee’s pleasant assistance is valued when you’ve been shopping with your kid and you just want to go home, but you can’t find flank steak. 

That’s where I saw Carole again, by the meat. I recognized her immediately. Today she assisted me in finding the steak, making it possible for me to try out those Vampire Tacos I got the recipe for yesterday when I was avoiding the supermarket.   After chunking the two packs in the basket I approached her nearby in the frozen section, probably creeping her out at this point. 

 I looked at her name. I reminded her that I was the customer she’d helped find the spicy mayo last Saturday and told her how grateful I was for her help. Even more,  I was thankful for her bright personality and her willingness to go the extra mile making her job about people and not just a paycheck. 

She’s not the only helpful employed I’ve encountered Port Arthur’s Walmart on Memorial Boulevard, but I’d say she’s been the most remarkable.

 Kindred spirits, those with an aversion to buying groceries, look for Carole. If you see her, know that she’ll help you find the Queso fresco or the sheet set you’re looking for. Give her a smile and a word of appreciation.

I wish there were a Carole at every store. Maybe your store has one. If you’re her manager (sure wish you would see this,) give that woman a day off. But be sure to hang on to her. Shoppers, stores, and the world in general needs more of her. 

In our world of big names, curiously, our true heroes tend to be anonymous. In this life of illusion and quasi-illusion, the person of solid virtues who can be admired for something more substantial than his well-knownness often proves to be the unsung hero: the teacher, the nurse, the mother, the honest cop, the hard worker at lonely, underpaid, unglamorous, unpublicized jobs.

Daniel J Boorstin

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Happy “I Get It” Day

Mother’s Day isn’t so much about giving mom the gift as understanding the gift of Mom. 

  

Dear Mom,

I remember Mother’s Day gifts I made you using construction paper. I’d draw you a skinny flower vase with flowers tucked inside.  They’d be framed by “kid scratch” lettering sharing the same sentiment I’d written 365 days before: “Happy Mother’s Day!”. 

On your special day the siblings and I would get up early to surprise you with breakfast or Dad would take us all out to eat. We did that didn’t we?…surprise you with breakfast? Because honestly the celebration of those special days when I was younger is blurry in my memory. Even though I thought you were a stellar mom,  most effort those days was orchestrated by Dad and my teachers. Those years Mother’s Day was a day designated on the calendar to do nice stuff for you. 

These days your fridge is void of construction paper pictures bearing the stick figures and hearts that we used to draw for you.  Your jewelry box is still probably full of WalMart jewelry that we gave you that wasn’t your style.  Thanks for receiving those gifts that didn’t come close to touching who you are as a mother. 

I’ll miss dinner with you on Sunday. I know that even though the other kids and grandkids will be there, that your table will feel smaller because some of us are missing. 

I know because I get it now. 

I know what it’s like to have one missing from the dinner table because I have one now who’s gone off to college. 

I know what you must have went through, when you sent me off to school. I remember those tough Sunday goodbyes in the driveway when I was headed back to school.  They’re not far off from those afternoons now, when I stand in the yard not wanting to go into a house with one less member after Hayden’s truck has driven out of sight. 

There’s much I understand now because I’m standing in the same place you’ve stood. 

  

I know what it’s like to be tired. Not the kind that a nap will fix. It’s a deep down tired that a pillow can’t help. It’s in your bones where anxiety lives (regarding the things we want to fix for our kids). 

I even know what it’s like to be dumb now. To look in the face of my kid and see them glaring at me, thinking I don’t have a clue about apparel choice.  The ten year old is smarter than me now, just as I was smarter than you when I was about her age. 

I know now about Saturday mornings that consist of flipping pancakes after some of the family has left the table and some are having seconds, when you’ve yet to eat. 

I understand how it feels to want to smack someone who’s been awful to your kid. How it feels to be surprised at yourself for feeling such things. I remember being surprised at your anger on a couple of occasions where I’d been treated badly by someone. 

I get now why you hid chocolate in the hutch in your room. It was the only way you’d get to enjoy a treat because kids are vultures and they devour snacks. Even when you set a limit on snacking, they sneak sweets and you find the wrappers under their bed. 

I know what it’s like to have suffered shopping at the mall and then your kid wears the outfit they “had to have” one time

…What it’s like to have put clothes on hangers for your kids and then find those un-worn clothes on the floor, still on the hanger 

What it’s like to internally roll your eyes when they say they have nothing to wear

I now understand your disappointment that my  second grade “Smokey the Bear” fire prevention poster didn’t place. I know how you felt, because I felt the same way when Hayden got gypped in a middle school competition on project he’d worked so hard on and done so well on. 

I get now that Dad got to be the fun one and that the tough stuff mostly fell on you. 

I know what it’s like to see your kid cry, to experience them beam when they ace a difficult test

…what it’s like to be worried about their health, to fear for their safety. 

You never told me how hard it was. Your tears were hidden. You worked tirelessly, quietly. You didn’t keep a record of what you’d done for us. You were proud of us without making too big a fuss, lest we get a big head.    You loved us with a love that’s almost too big for a human heart. 

I get it now. 

Another Mother’s Day is upon us and I still don’t know (as I hardly ever do) what to get you. I just know I celebrate with you. 

 Maybe not on the map, but in a larger place, in spirit. The place I hold in my heart for you is so much bigger now because I get it. 

Happy “I Get It” Day. 

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The Healthful Practice of Hiding 

  

There are two different routes I take to school in the morning. The straight route is thirtieth street.  Thirty-first street, as you can guess, is one block over. I take thirty-first street if I’m headed to school between 7:50-7:55 A.M. The intersection at Helena and thirtieth street is swarming for that five minutes with cars who’ve just dropped of their elementary kiddies. 

  

Helena Ave. is buzzing in both directions.  There are the people turning off of W Chicago Ave onto Helena. Then there’s the crosswalk. As soon as you pull onto thirtieth you’re watching for cars from three directions and looking out for kids crossing the street on foot and bike. 

Thirty first street is a bit simpler. I avoid the madness; instead choosing a better path. I’m not just talking about in the car. 

Sometimes I avoid the news. 

I avoid HEB on Saturday

the mall in December 

telemarketers

dealing with the socks in the mismatch basket

and dusting 

These things are not bad for my health (except for HEB on Saturday). They just raise my stress level. So I run from them when I can. 

What is it famed heavyweight boxing champion Joe Lewis said?

You can run but you can’t hide. 

I’m here to tell  you can run AND you can hide. You can…and you should. 

When it comes to avoiding  things, I’m a ninja level “hider”. 

Hiding from people is a different story. I kind of have guilt about that. 

However, there are a few scenarios where hiding (avoiding the world) is not only ok, but is beneficial to you and the people in your life. 

  • When you’re running on empty. We often go until we’re running on fumes. Our work suffers. Our health can suffer. We need a fill up. Hiding is rest. Rest refuels us. 

… I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

Isaiah 41:10

  • When your attitude is out of order. Sometimes our nice meter runs out. Our patience is gone. If we don’t retreat, we run the risk of behaving regretfully. Hiding time is “Get your act back in order” time. Consider it a needful time-out. 


Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

 James 4:10

  • When your interaction with another is unhealthy (their attitude is out of order) There are times when communication has become unproductive despite our efforts to be helpful, reasonable and calm. Recognize when stepping back for a time is necessary for the health of the relationship. 

You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. 

Psalm 31:20

  • When you’re not spending enough time with God  We can be conscious of God’s presence as we go about our day, uttering prayer in our busyness. But the world, and the best of those in it, distract us from intimate time with God. God is worthy of our undivided attention. Daily. 

Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

Luke 5:16

Avoid the busy road when necessary. Flee from trouble. Hide a while. Leave the beaten path. 

You can run and you can hide. Hide in Him. Your life, and the lives of those you love will be better for it. 

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Kids These Days

  My house was overrun by teenage girls this weekend. It’s Tuesday now and I’m still finding traces of the girls around the house like the extra razor,and shampoo and conditioner in my shower. There’s a Bose speaker in my living room that somebody left here. It’s quiet now but it boomed Christian rap last Saturday. I’m still expecting to find socks and fruit loops in the couch cushions when I get ready to look. 

 It was Spring Retreat and we were a host home. Jason graciously volunteered our house as a host home for the girls five years ago and then camped out in the apartment, missing out on all the fun. It’s become an annual tradition. 

  

I’m being subtle here (and it’s a challenge) but let’s be honest,  I’ve entered an older, crankier time. I mutter things under my breath like “kids these days drink one sip out of a water bottle and then leave it there”.  Sunday morning I spied five ownerless water bottles, each missing approximately one tablespoon of water. I shook my head; maybe because I hadn’t gotten the sleep a forty-something requires, or it could have been the fact that thirteen girls getting ready in two and a half baths is stressful (Then again, it could be the older, crankier thing). 

Spring Retreat wrapped up Sunday morning at the 10:15 service. I sat behind our teenagers secretly glad I’d be getting the house back around noon. We had a guest preacher who gave statistics about the probability of these kids staying in church when they’re older. The numbers are staggering. 

  • Only kids whose parents both go to church consistently, have a good chance of staying in church as adults. 
  • Kids whose parents don’t attend church have around a six percent chance of sticking around.

 I looked at the kids in front of me and noticed that the odds are stacked against many of them. In response to the six percent figure, one of the teenagers in close view elbowed the girl beside her and proudly whispered  “That’s me.”  And yet she was there. 
She was here in my house. So were some of the fifty percenters. There were girls at my house this past weekend who were in best bracket. They have an eighty percent or better chance of being a part of a church as adults because their parents make it a priority for them to be there even when there are more weekend opportunities than they can shake a stick at. 

These messy, loud, giggly (fun-loving)girls were in my house filling their hearts and minds with Jesus this past weekend. They discussed obstacles in their Christian walk and how to get around those obstacles. They prayed for each other. They built each other up. Yesterday our oldest daughter received an encouraging bible verse from a friend who attended this weekend. She sent her friend one too. 

There were also boys across town growing in their walk this past weekend.

 Those barely touched water botrestored  me with “the glass is half full” optimism. 

I’m glad those girls were here. I’m encouraged by the upcoming youth. It’s a generation of busy, but devoted eighty/something percenters, some passionate six percenters and some kiddos in between who love God and are growing to know Him more in a time where the world seems weightier than it did in my day and age. 

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Be thankful for them. 

Pray for them. 

Support them and train them by taking them to church. 

Get to know them. 

Bring them to my house (just not this weekend). 

Signed,

A Hopeful Mom

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Fragrance Matters

My nostrils were filled with warmed chicken and rice leftovers this morning as I filled two thermoses for the girls’ school lunch. I was only slightly awake when my daughter walked in bearing a scent unlike last night’s casserole. It wasn’t her usual smell of deodorant and hairspray. I knew this sweet smell from days passed but couldn’t place it, too busy stuffing cosmic brownie halves into baggies while shouting out a request for a bobby pin. 

It wasn’t until I was getting ready in my bathroom that I noticed a dusty bottle of perfume missing from its place on the shelf.

 I immediately remembered the ten year old fragrance, Tommy Girl, worn in the stage when I was diapering the baby and practicing A,B,C’s with my preschooler. It was the perfume I wore when my oldest would rub his nose in my shirt when getting in a good snuggle. 

These days I rarely use perfume. (It gives me headaches). I’ve also thought it unnecessary. Then there’s a lack of thought in general concerning fragrance-wearing. It’s on my “too busy to think about that” list. 

My newest scent (perfume that I’ve had for five years) sits on my dresser. It’s only picked up on special occasions and then given precisely one squirt. 

My daughter has her own perfume. But today she chose to use a scent of mine she found suitable. 

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I smile at that thought. 
Today I’m wearing that old perfume; aware that others, my children included, pay attention to the fragrance I wear.

 May we, as moms and encouragers of faith, keep such an awareness.

 May we sense the responsibility we have in possessing a fragrance that others will want to put on.  May we wear such fragrance as an offering (even when it causes headache, or a little extra effort). Help us to remember that a subtle fragrance is better than one that’s overbearing. 

Most of all, may we continually acknowledge that the precious gift of a beautiful fragrance comes from above. 

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:2

To my email subscribers, my apologies for sending this post to you three times (Correction, four times) trying to get it right. It won’t happen again (this week). 

If you haven’t subscribed, please do, despite my admission that I occasionally harass subscribers with the sending of multiple posts. 

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The Crumb Coat (Cakes and Life)

Our ten year old, Rylie, got her first baking “order” last week. It was for a wedding cake. Let me back up.  

 My mom, who used to shoo me out of the kitchen, found out that Rylie had a newfound interest in baking a few months ago.   Over Spring Break she gave Rylie an early birthday present (five months early). Rylie opened up a box to find a cake decorating book and a set of decorating tips. That gift, and having grandmas who let her in the kitchen, was all it took to turn Rylie’s interest into an obsession. 

She took her cake book to school two weeks ago. As soon as she got in the car she announced that she’d secured several cake orders from her friends including one for a wedding. I neither wanted to dash her hopes, nor bolster them. I told her a rule of thumb for following through with an order would be getting an adult confirmation first. I thought that would nip this cake order thing. 

So imagine my surprise when I got a text followed by a call this week for Rylie to make a wedding cake. An excited lady, who’s saying “I do” this afternoon, asked if this was “the Rylie’s mom who bakes cakes”. I wasn’t sure how to answer that question. 

I let her know that Rylie cooks just for fun. I wondered if I should tell her that I’d burned two loaves of garlic bread hours earlier in the afternoon; that I’m not much help. I suggested that Rylie and the lady’s daughter make a wedding celebration cake for fun some time, but she insisted that a wedding cake made by two fourth graders (one her own) would be special.

 (I’ve written several posts about my difficulty in taking risks. “I’m trying to do better, to allow my kids room to try new things, to make mistakes. But this?”…..I thought. “Too far!”)

But I said “ok” like I usually do. “Sounds great,” I replied, even though my stomach instantly knotted. 

A wedding cake plan, last night, turned into a successful cake, coral and teal cupcakes and a sleepover. 

  
I learned, AGAIN, that God’s plans are better than mine. I was reminded not to underestimate a ten year old with an entrepreneurial spirit. And I learned a secret that cakes have in common with imperfect people like me. 

The Crumb Coat

With Rylie having an important order to make I called my friend Christine immediately to ask her for a few tips.  Christine told me about the base icing layer called the crumb coat. I smiled when she explained how to make your cake appear crumb-less. (One of the reasons I’d given up on cakes is because I dislike the crumbs that muddle my cake’s exterior). 

I learned that the “crumb coat” is the layer that’s first applied to the cake. The crumb coat fills in the gaps and gives the cake its shape. 

It bears up the crumbs and holds them. This allows the top layer of icing to appear smoother, cleaner and altogether more lovely. 

  
 As Christine explained the “crumb coat” I found comfort in the fact that the crumb problem isn’t unique. Whether you see it or not, cakes, like people, tend to be a little messy underneath. Crumbs can’t be prevented. Not with the keenest eye, the steadiest hand nor the most disciplined nature can we assure that all traces of crumbs are gone. 

That shouldn’t stop us from making our cake into something beautiful, something to be shared.  The intention of the covering is not to hide a secret. The crumb layer isn’t our best layer, but we accept that it is one of the layers. Crumbs don’t make cake, less of a cake, rather they’re part of the cake.

 I learned to trust the cake maker to do the work to make the crumb-filled cake into something beautiful. And with loving hands, He always does. 

  
  
  

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