Have I mentioned that Dress-up days, Spirit Days we call some of them, are not my favorites? Why yes, yes I have. I believe one of those occasions was Twin Day just last year when our youngest, in her second attempt at twinning, showed up at  school as Thing 1 without a Thing 2 (Thing 2 was a no show).

Rylie was up at four-something this morning creating her Extreme Black and Gold outfit.

Our other two children took after a certain parent when it came to their spiritedness around Halloween, Homecoming and Drug Awareness Week. Besides the time our oldest had the idea to be a Bubble-Wrap Mummy for Halloween, Hayden (and Hallie) are kind of party poopers like their dad.

Me? I’m not fully a party pooper. Something else holds me back from costumed glory...good old fear. What if people don't understand, or approve of, my efforts? What if I don't get it right?

You know the saying, If you can’t beat em’ join em’? 

Well my life motto is slightly modified...If you can’t beat em’, don’t participate. And so I've spent much of my lifetime being safe; not attempting much of anything that wasn’t easy or natural-seeming. I didn’t dance at prom (besides maybe a coerced two-step. Baby, in my case, was happy to be in the corner.

Spirit Week isn’t easy for some (and I’m not talking about for the parents who are begged to buy colored tutus or are sent on a mission to find that must-have purple shirt). Spirit Week isn’t always easy for the kids. Your kid’s idea of a nerd costume may not fit in with with what others believe is nerd material. On Disney Day, it may not be easy when your daughter's friends dress up like group characters. She's Snow White at a lunch table with the Toy Story crew who forgot to include her in the plan. For someone battling insecurity (thus most middle schoolers), it can be a mild reminder that she doesn’t fit in.

So here’s to you party pooper and scaredy-cat moms...  Work with her, encourage her to dress out, to try some things that make her afraid, the things she knows might possibly highlight her inability to be like those who win the contests...those who make the team.

Remind her perfection isn’t what’s important. Determination is. Creativity is. Individuality is.

Not taking life too seriously is vital too. Don't forget your role in teaching her that.

She won’t always feel successful. Thankfully, true success isn’t defined by our peers or popular opinion. Our kids will grow (the kind of of growth that’s important) from failing, from being rejected, not winning the prize. They’ll learn from their mistakes. They’ll learn from the mistakes of others.

The lesson isn’t in the winning or in being picked favorite or best. Growth comes from the process of trying and trying again, all the while knowing they’re loved by us in every win and fail.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4


So there's a new book where you can read about this struggle stuff and how it's a necessary part of all beautiful stories.  You can get it here! 


Yesterday morning, before hearts were shattered in a small Texas town, I sat in a pew in my own church after singing one of my favorite hymns. It was right after greeting time that I found myself scanning the sanctuary, seeing both friends and new faces.

One familiar face lead my focus to something other than the chorus that was being sang in unison around me. This person I spied belongs in a special category of friends. We talk.  We really talk. My thoughts began to drift to a particular conversation we had months ago about the deep matter of race relations after a week when several police officers lost their lives.

I can't remember how such a heavy conversation started, but those months ago we began to talk about the loss of life, why it happened... what lead to it. We each shared our thoughts and the experiences life had dealt us. Some of the experiences I had were foreign to this person. Likewise, I had little context to fully understand something that happened to my friend as a teenager.

We listened to each other too, a difficult task, because each of us had hearts bursting at the seams to share emotion demanding to be released. Neither of us abandoned our calm demeanor even though rebuttals bounced around inside our heads. I listened, not fully capable of understanding, but listened trying to understand because I loved my friend.  My friend did the same. Love. That's the start. Any conversation or relationship devoid of it has no meaning.

I don't mind telling you that many communication scenarios (which lack understanding) play out in my own bedroom with the person on this earth I love the most.  I carefully select a time to bring up a necessary (in my mind) grievance to my husband. We agree on pretty much every controversial issue you'll find in the morning news, but other matters (even seemingly simple ones) have me occasionally thinking, Who is this person?

I might tell him I feel lonely or ignored and lay out scenario 1, 2, and 3 that support why I feel that way. He responds, equally cautious, but dumbfounded, completely unable to translate the feelings that are so real to me. We're both fairly intelligent, but we're different.  From our experiences to our genetic makeup, we're not put together the same. Sure we seek to understand one another, but our relationship doesn't depend on that. It can't. No, our coming together must be based on something greater.

I, like you, am befuddled at the news coming from Sutherland Springs, Texas, yesterday.  We're painfully imagining what it would be like to be that mother or father that were out of state when hearing the news that their youngest child perished in the place that they worship every week. What do you say to the man who yesterday was left a widower after having lost his pregnant wife and three children?

Our wondering doesn't stop there. We'd be lying if we said we hadn't immediately had other thoughts. Who's the shooter? What were his motives? What can we do to stop this kind of tragedy? These are valid questions. Using facts and figures and our woven together experiences, we're trying to answer these questions.

We can spout numbers.  We can passionately, and even respectfully present our argument. But we aren't going to get anywhere by proceeding from this tragedy using knowledge and experience alone. Facing conflict without love gets us nowhere, if it doesn't take us backward.

We can try to explain this tragedy, but it's incomprehensible. Unspeakable tragedies, as much as we hate to admit it, to a high degree are unavoidable. This brokenness that causes people to commit such horror, and the brokenness we're left with thereafter requires something more than anything of us can think up or enforce. We really are nothing and have nowhere to go without love. There are still so many out there that don't know that. This is the biggest tragedy of all.

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24

Praying for those in Sutherland Springs and that none of us would be deceived into thinking we have a brokenness that can be fixed by anything other than Jesus.

There are two times in the week that I don’t like to be bothered. These times would be from 8:00-10:00 pm on Friday and Saturday (make note please). Ironically, these are precisely the two times people (particularly my children) want to talk to me. Last night was no different.

Around 8:00 Hayden was at work, the youngest was practicing her flute with a friend down the street and our middle was supposed to be shopping for a few things for Spirit Week at school. I settled in on the loveseat, turned the channel to Dateline, and prepared to solve the murder at Silver Lakes.

I began collecting clues by watching facial expressions. I noted unusual remarks. I was certain I knew who did it. Hallie, who was thankfully still shopping, sent me a text to let me know she was bringing home a surprise, not just any surprise but a CAPITAL LETTER SURPRISE.


My curiosity  was mildly piqued. She was probably bringing home ice cream.

I reconcentrated my effort on the murder at hand. I knew The adulterous couple were in on the death, but who had cold-heartedly pulled the trigger? Just as the vital wiretapped conversation began to play, in walks Hallie with a command for me to close my eyes. (Of course it couldn’t happen during a commercial).

I could still listen to that all-important evidence pouring from the tapes. Or could I? Whatever surprise it was that Hallie was preparing close by in the kitchen, it required that she have the kitchen faucet on full blast... for minutes. I wanted to protest but felt I would seem ungrateful for the gift I was about to receive, so instead I funneled all of my focus onto the sound of the two star crossed lovers plotting murder.

That’s when I heard Jason in the kitchen joking that she was only allowed one pet at a time...that one pet had to eat the other, or something like that. That’s when I knew there was a mystery in my kitchen that I was unprepared for.

I got up from my spot and snuck into the kitchen to find a brightly decorated fishbowl inhabited by a snail named Gary and a tigerfish whose name I did not care to know. Mild frustration rose up inside me because not only did she not need more pets, she will not be awesome at taking care of said pets, nor did she ask me for pets. It might have mattered a little too that there was no surprise for me.

Determined to finish what I’d started I found my way back to the living room to ensure a conviction for those responsible for the Silver Lake murder. Thankfully justice was served and I went to bed.

This morning I peeked into Hallie’s room to find her new friends had settled in and that Hallie had listened to Jason’s advice warning her that Gary could easily escape.

Last night, despite distraction, I solved the murder of Robert Limon. This morning I’m being reminded of all the things my daughter (who’s a junior in high school) could have been doing last night.

Next year we’ll be spending a lot of our time planning for her leaving for college. Last night was an interruption. That’s really not such a bad thing after all.

Things are looking up up up with a fish. 


Check out the new book here!

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... Psalm 15:1-2

I bought two boxes of my favorite breakfast bars (they’re more like cookies) on Tuesday. So breakfast this morning was just like usual. I’d been out of them for a week. No tantrums were thrown before school this morning by either me or the kids. Yes. Things started out today pretty smoothly. 

To make things even better I had a TJ Maxx trip and a Mexican food lunch planned with a friend. Plus tomorrow is Friday. The day before Friday is usually my second best day of the week. 

After throwing one of my favorite T-shirts over my pretty good (I must say) hair, I trounced downstairs with a plan that would make my day even better. 

I sat down in my oversized chair and looked up 1 Thessalonians 2 on my phone app. I drank in words, it seemed, meant for me wiping a single soft tear that had formed in the corner of my left eye. 

I then tucked my knees up against my chest and fastened my hands around my legs praying a prayer of thanks for God’s goodness. I repented of both the smallness I had openly displayed and had also kept hidden in my fragile heart yesterday and in fitful sleep last night. I remarked that I would trust God with His plan in all aspects of my life, and I meant it (at least in that moment I uttered the words). I said a hearty amen, grabbed my purse, and headed out the door armed with everything I needed for a Good Friday eve.

 I made it a good seven steps from my front door when I instinctively hit the Facebook icon on my phone. Why not use my WiFi one more time to check and see if anything important had transpired since fifteen minutes before when I had checked Facebook?

The second post I saw (which was really nothing) made me feel a hint of rejection. It shouldn’t have, but it did. And just like that lonleliness stepped onto the sideboards and into the car with me. Before I knew it lonely’s cousin, jealousy and self-pity joined the party. We nearly had a car full by the time I strapped on my seatbelt. 

I only had two miles to drive to get to my shopping destination, but wouldn’t you know that someone had to go and pull one of my driving pet peeves causing irritation to join us for the ride. G-rated potty language (which really isn’t that much more acceptable than PG-13 in the eyes of God, I imagine) filled the air. Self control was nowhere to be found. 

Before I got out of the car I grimaced at how quickly my attitude had went south. A mere 30 seconds after my amen, miserable mortal feelings were vying for control of my heart. 

I’m embarrassed to say how often it happens. I was just telling my middle schooler this week that we need so much truth in our life that our feelings are conquered, rather than living in vulnerability, being conquered by our feelings. I need a more steady diet of truth. How about you? 

These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.

If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss. Luke 6:47-49 (The Message) 

So... Book 2, The Village Girl Handbook-Persevering Your Way to Maturity” has been released on Amazon. It’s full of powerful stories that point us to the truth. Be sure and check it out. 

And if you haven’t, don’t forget to subscribe so that you can receive these posts by email. 

This week The Village Girl Handbook 2 will be available on Amazon. I’ve read through every story in it at least ten times, but I still can’t wait to get my hands on it. You better bet I’m going to stick my nose right in it, first to smell the new pages, and second, to read it AGAIN. 

Being that this is the second volume of the book you can imagine that book one and two are similar. They are very much alike in that both books are a collection of personal stories written about a walk through struggle. Both books are full of stories with a hopeful tone...You are not alone in your struggle...With God’s help we conquer those things that would otherwise hold us down. 

I’d be wrong though not to tell you some important differences between book 1, The Village Girl Handbook and book 2, The Village Girl Handbook -Persevering Your Way to Maturity.  Because my day today holds more than what makes a calendar square comfortable, here’s a brief breakdown of what you’ll find in book 1 and the different content you can expect in book 2.

BOOK 1/The Village Girl Handbook 

Book 1, though it is enjoyed by girls of all ages, it was written with middle schoolers in mind. The topics covered in the first book are pertinent to the events that typically occur while girls are in intermediate school and junior high. You’ll read about someone’s first breakup and another story about how a girl survived the first day Aunt Flo came to visit. Book 1 is full of tips that inform and encourage.  You’ll also find entertaining quizzes and coupons that help orchestrate family dates and a little fun.

 Several of the topics in book 1 cover delicate topics. One story reveals heartbreak and then hope for an eleven-year-old  girl whose mom took her own life after a long bout of depression. One story entails an experience with rejection, another one tells of abandonment, but with every story, the age of the reader is kept in mind. And again, each tale reminds the reader what it means to have hope. 

BOOK 2/The Village Girl Handbook- Persevering Your Way to Maturity

This book is full of fresh new stories that will remind you what it means to find courage and peace in the unlikeliest of situations.  You might notice on the cover illustration that the girl (the reader) is a bit older. This wasn’t originally an intentional decision. I began to notice that a significant portion of the stories that came pouring in for this book had a weight to them that should be considered. Look for stories that talk about heavy topics such depression, self-injuring behavior, sexual purity and difficult loss. These stories, some heartbreaking, will  touch and inspire the reader that God is an ever-present help in times of trouble

Whereas book 1 is full of tips and quizzes, each story in this book is followed by scripture and devotion questions. It is my prayer that girls will partner up, or group together, and grow individually and as sisters. Two churches have done book 1 as a Bible Study.   It would do my heart good to see older girls (women) bring a copy of the book, along with their own experiences to the table with a younger girl. 

This book may possibly have a wider reach.  Just be aware of the content if you put it in the hands of a fifth grader. Maybe read it with them. This might be an opportunity you need to breech some difficult, but very important subject matter.

Here’s what I’m asking of you. 

1. Let me know what else can I tell you about book 2.

2. Please share this post so we can get this exciting and needful information out. 

Do you remember the scan button that car sterios used to have? (Do radios still have them?...I wouldn’t know. Rylie tore the sticker antenna off of our car window ten years ago when the car was pretty well new. So for a decade now the Armada has been filled with kid voices and music from scratched up CDs.)

I brought up the scan button for a reason. I frequently liken my thought process to the scanning that took place on our FM radio station those six months that I had premium tune selection. You know...you’d press the scan button and hear one line of a song on FM 99.5 and then (without the touch of a button) the dial would toodle-loo on up to FM 100.3 and then to 101.5. Particularly in this most recent season I’m in, its as if my brain is only capable of bite-size thinking (and possibly some swallowing without chewing). Scary, because some big things are happening. 

I’ve avoided writing because my mind is in a million places. Tonight I’m choosing to tell you a few of those places that are closest to my heart. 

  1. I still can’t get over how Hurricane Harvey has changed lives. People still aren’t back in their homes which has to be incredibly frustrating and yet people are still putting one foot in front of the other as normally as possible when things are still SO abnormal for them.  I’m also still witnessing people be compassionately creative in the ways they’re ministering to people in our community. One little girl used her birthday to collect gift cards to hand out to those affected by the flood. “”
  2. Hayden turns 21 on Monday. We spend a lot of time laughing together these days. Five years ago there were many days I laughed, but it was more hysterical in nature like someone who’s dangerously close to being untethered. He’s currently going to school full time and working at UPS. He cooks his own food too. Nevermind that his clothes smell like sausage and eggs... I love him. And I love laughing...the good kind of course.  “”
  3. My second book will be available on Amazon November 1  (if things go as scheduled). The Village Girl Handbook-Persevering Your Way to Maturity is a collection of 50 powerful stories written by girls and women (and myself). This go round, each story will be followed by devotion questions. I’d tell you to put November 1 on your calendar so you can go to Amazon and get it, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be bugging you with another post as soon as it’s up for grabs. (It’s going to be good.) Might I add, The Village Girl Handbook Page on Facebook has 396 likes. Four more will get us to 400. Hint. Hint. “”
  4. One other thing about the book...When putting it together, it was suggested that I make a wishlist of well-known people from whom I’d like to receive a book endorsement. I made a long list but only sent three requests after the book was completed. The person who was first on my list agreed to read the book and ended up writing a gracious endorsement. I said I was keeping who it was a secret, but nah...I’ll just tell you. It’s JJ Heller. If you haven’t heard of her, look her up. She’s a Christian artist and she’s special. I started listening to her five years ago...remember? ...the season of deranged laughter? Her music is soothing and peppy and thought provoking. She’s been my friend the last few years without knowing it. “”
  5. Hallie is driving. Rylie is a half-inch shy of having me beat height-wise. Jason’s still good at speaking peace into my chaos. Too bad he’s asleep already. That’s how you got so lucky to witness my brain hops this evening. “”“”“”
  6. The November, December schedule scares me.  I guess November stands for thank you and December stands for Jesus. If I can just practice sincere and continual Thank you Jesus for the next two months I’ll be in good shape. I’ve plenty of reasons to be grateful. 

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16

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I heard someone say something this week that I haven't been able to let go. I've been guilty numerous times for sending a similar message even if I haven't said it exactly like this person did.

"You do you."

It was a three word comment on Facebook meant to help a friend. Somehow I don't think it will.

I can think of times when it's an encouraging statement.

You have a kid who doesn't feel like they fit in. They're willing to change their attire, their hairstyle, their laugh,...anything and everything about themselves in attempt to more closely align themselves with a group of their peers. They try to recreate who they are in order to please the hoards; hoping to gain popularity, if not at least blend in.  Someone in their life reminds them of the value of being them-self.  You do you. 

Be you. 

Where this well-meaning piece of advice gets us in trouble is when we hand it out it to individuals who are looking for affirmation for bad behavior or a lifestyle that's contrary to God's plan for them. They unapologetically announce a harmful path they've chosen to take.  Christian friends tell them You do you. 

We certainly should be showing love and support to those God puts in our lives, including those who are caught up in bad behavior or in a sinful lifestyle. Loving a person doesn't mean supporting what what they're doing. Am I the millionth person to say this? (And yet we're still forgetting this important truth).  If we're saying You do you to a person we full-well know is doing something wrong, our care for them isn't as deep as we claim.

Recently I spoke to a middle school group of Christian girls. I asked them to raise their hands if they believed they should follow their heart. An overwhelming number of them raised their hands. Commercials, every 30 minute TV show,  Hollywood films and song lyrics tell us to follow our hearts... you do you.

Scripture clearly tells us that the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). That means we shouldn't listen to it. Why aren't we letting those we love, know this?

Proverbs 14:12 tells us, "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death." This isn't really a feel good message, am I right? That doesn't change the validity of the message.

Maybe we tell people You do you because we don't want them to feel rejected. That thought can be fully appreciated. If speaking truth to someone who has proudly announced their poor choice makes them feel rejected, consider not saying anything at that time. Pray about when and how to confront them. Love rejoices in the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6) We have to keep that in mind when we're claiming to love people. 

Is it possible that we give people verbal affirmation because it's the easiest and most comfortable thing to do? In just agreeing with what they're doing we don't get accused of being judgemental. We don't have to be worried about being labeled a hypocrite (because surely our own sin is -or will be- exposed. We don't have to fear jeopardizing a relationship that we value.

The truth can hurt those we speak it to. It can hurt those of us who speak it as we face the possibility of rejection from those who don't want to hear what we have to say. But the truth can be spoken in love. Loving truth heals.  Are our friends and neighbors worthy of that love?

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:6


Two Wednesdays ago I was dragging my tired self to my car after Wednesday night service at church.  I spied my friend Luci across the parking lot with her daughter Tori knowing instantly that their weariness outmatched mine.  They're currently camped out in their third residence post-Hurricane Harvey.  It's about twenty-five minutes away from home.

We talked about how early she was having to get up in the morning to get Tori to school and about how late the nights were, being that she and her husband are working late at their house, putting up sheet rock every opportunity they get.

She then commented that a friend had gotten her a Crock Pot, but that she wasn't sure what to cook in it.  And that's when the two fatigued but good-willed brain cells left staggering in my brain got a tiny idea.

The next day, Thursday, I got to have lunch with my buddy Miranda who's currently living the camper trailer life. I got caught up on how life is treating her, being that her daughter is a senior this year. Sad, but exciting stuff.  We talked about how her house was coming along since flooding.  It was then that those tired brain cells nudged me and said, "Hey, remember? We had a great idea about sharing some love through Crock Pots?"

On impulse, rather than having a plan, Miranda and I talked about having a dinner for friends whose homes have been damaged, and even lost because of Harvey. She sat at my table and helped me brainstorm even though her own kitchen is under major reconstruction.

Families are living in hotels and trailers, not to mention those who are living in tents. Others are living in their gutted houses while trying to carry on a normal life, whatever that means these days. Eating out gets expensive. Sandwiches get old.

Knowing little more other than it was an idea worth pursuing, I made a Facebook post asking for Crock Pot recipes.  As Facebook always does, it obliged me generously with easy and delicious-sounding recipes for the Crock Pot.

I invited all of the gals from our church whose homes flooded, along with a few other friends I ran into, deciding to throw together a cookbook to give out at a Crock Pot dinner.  Friends offered their recipes and to bring door prizes. Some brought a Crock Pot dish or a Crock Pot to give away.

What I'm getting around to (using an excessive amount of words) is that with the recipes I've collected, a cookbook has been put together that will hopefully make life a bit easier for those of you with wrecked kitchens, horrific schedules and brain cells that are more tired than mine.

So here are fifty recipes. This Easy Dinner Crockpot Cookbook was put together in hopes that your heart and belly might be filled.

If your kitchen or phone is in working order share some love with your neighbor through a crockpot meal, a crockpot or by sharing this post.


We're still reeling from Hurricane Harvey. Conversations about loss continue to come up on sidewalks and in checkout lines. That's one thing I'm grateful for, that we're talking with one another...really talking.

Just when I think I've heard the hardest story yet, I hear another heart wrenching tale of loss. There's the stranger, who I now call friend, who tearfully recounted watching the floodwaters rise in her living room while her young daughter slept on the couch. She relayed the harrowing account of waiting for rescue as the water got higher and higher. We have a friend dealing with cancer and the flooding of his home and his workplace. Then there's the man trying to concentrate on his job while he's displaced from his home. He'd had flood insurance...until recently. There's yet another friend who'd received unthinkable bad news six weeks before the storm. Now they've lost their home and both cars.  There are countless other similar stories. 

In all this I've heard the same statement over and over. 

I know there are those out there worse off than me. 

I guess they're right. Perhaps there's one person or one family who is the utmost worst off from this storm. Even then, maybe there's a worse storm elsewhere. Here's the truth. 

All storms matter. 

Your neighbor may be suffering  more difficult circumstances than you. You may have convinced yourself that your loss may not compare to theirs.  That doesn't diminish your suffering. Your pain exists in the midst of the pain of the guy across town that you've calculated to be worse off than you. 

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 

...you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-30

We know you're struggling. 

We know that when you say that "things are just things",  you mean it, but we also know those things (your kids drawings, cherished handwritten cards and favorite books) are love in paper form. We can only imagine the difficulty in parting with memories. We know many of you are trying to find a new means of transportation. You're waiting on aid or adjusters. It's frustrating, if not maddening. 

 We realize that you're glad for your safety, for your life. That's healthy perspective. We also know your heart is half broken and your tired soul is split between remembering the night the waters rose and facing an unknown tomorrow, circumstancially speaking. (We hope you know who has your tomorrow in his hands). 

Please allow yourself to acknowledge your loss. Don't feel the need to tell us you're fine when you're really not. 

Please grieve what needs to be grieved. We are grieving with you even if we can't exactly grasp what you're going through. Because you hurt we hurt too. 

We won't completely understand what it's like to lay your head on someone else's pillow night after night or how worrisome it is to wonder where you'll lay your head down next week. We can't comprehend how anxious it must feel to wonder if work will start up again soon so you'll be able to get a paycheck. For many of us, life as we know it is returning to its familiar routine. We know it's not for you. When we forget please remind us. 

Maybe your storm isn't even called Harvey

Let us know how we can help, how we can pray. Let us remind you that God knows every detail of your suffering and he does understand. He is here to help.  He has a plan. He knows those things precious to you. And he wants you to know that you are precious to him. 

You're struggling. It's ok to acknowledge that. 

But also know that where the waters rise, hope does too. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 ESV

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Harvey has left an impression on us that won't go away anytime soon. The stories are more than can ever be recounted or properly expressed, but may we try. 

Last week our community was in such bad shape from Harvey that our stores couldn't open. Then they opened but you had to wait, sometimes hours, to get in and the supplies were limited. Needed bread? Too bad. There wasn't any. Neither were there chips. And eggs and milk were a precious commodity. 

As people waited to even get in the store, they had little else to do but relate with strangers (also in line). It was a welcome change from our rush, rush, rush lifestyle. It reminded me of time spent in Kenya where I witnessed people moving more slowly and talking to one another on sidewalks because they had nothing better to do. We were doing that too last week. And it was refreshing. 

Most people waiting in line with me to get in at The Dollar Store last week weren't even in line to get something for themselves but rather for someone else in need. One woman waiting was there to get laundry detergent and mesh bags for the laundry she was doing for the first responders. 

Another woman was on a mission to find a couple hundred ziploc bags to feed evacuees at the airport. I sent her to my house, because for some odd reason, I'd just a week before, purchased a box of 300. We easily became like neighbors, one sharing a cup of sugar with another. 

Two days ago I went to the grocery store in need of 300 individual bags of chips. Oh boy, did the store have chips, only not what I needed. Instead I faced an aisle that made me feel like I was stuck in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Barbecue chips anyone? 

I just now checked out of Market Basket. The chip aisle has been restored. There were boxes of individually bagged, assorted chips. They had Doritos and Pringles and every other brand stacked nicely in its place. I purchased my needed items, flashed a quick smile at fellow shoppers and made my way to my car. Some things are going back to normal; in our stores at least. 

I have a strange prayer though. One that, hopefully, won't seem insensitive to those who are still suffering great loss. 

I pray that as things go back to normal, we won't

I pray that as items continue to be recovered and replaced, and as houses are rebuilt, that our community will remain changed. I pray that those of you watching from the outside will be changed too. God is doing something new. 

We are looking to the needs of others like never before; becoming better neighbors and coming closer together as sisters and brothers, even the ones we're meeting for the first time. We're no longer strangers. 

There is still an incredible amount of need here in Nederland and the surrounding area. Besides the need for food and a permanent place to rest heads, a greater need has been exposed... the need to better love one another. Not to just love one another at arm's length, but to truly and consistently love one another as Christ loved the church. 

May we not go back to normal. 

And do not be conformed (by going back) to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

A few pictures from after the storm...