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Update:

There will be a candlelight service in memory of Kori Newland. It is our hope that this service will bring much needed attention to the bullying and suicide epidemic. We will gather Friday, December 29 at 6 pm at Doornbos Park with balloons, glow sticks and letters to Kori.

She was as skinny as a rail. But that’s not the first thing you noticed about her. She had big beautiful blue eyes. Like mine, her hair was neither curly or straight but it had volume enough as if to say “Hello World”, there’s a girl somewhere here underneath what you see.

For several years I helped out in the ESL department at Helena Park Elementary where she attended. She wasn’t in my class. Instead she was in a Reading group in the room another teacher and I shared. I remember being instantly drawn to her. I'm certain I wasn't the only one.

I would say "hey" each day that she came in for reading group. If I spotted her in the hall I remember being happy to have the opportunity to tell her that she looked pretty that day. Our familiarity grew bit by bit. I hoped that our smiles and waves and small talk would be an encouragement, but one thing I knew for sure. Seeing that smile that rivaled the size of her hair and those pretty eyes made my day brighter.

My fondest memory of her came at the end of her last year in elementary at the annual talent show. She showed up at school donning a dress fit for prom and Sunday shoes that added height to her already tall stature. She looked beautiful and I tell you she sang Amazing Grace like an angel.

I've seen mamas cry tears at the sight of their babies performing. But there were a whole host of misty-eyed mamas and teachers by the time she sang her last note in the cafeteria that day. Though it was never discussed with others who were also clearly fans, I'm certain she represented an unassuming underdog with powerful potential. It was our delight to cheer her on.

Then she moved on to middle school. I intended keep up with her, but lost track.

Evidently in the past year or two she moved several hundred miles away. I clicked on Facebook this morning to see a picture of her sweet face on a post from a friend. This was the first time I saw that bright smile that I didn't give one in return.

Devastating words sat right above her picture. A quick read told me that she's gone. Not to Blooming Grove where she moved. It seems she decided life was unbearable as she ended it on Saturday after being bullied for some time.

After crushing news last week I heard a piece of advice I often hear during dark times.

Everything happens for a reason.

I'm still looking for this in scripture. I'm not so sure that everything happens for a reason. I only know that God can bring about good things in the midst of dark, soul-crushing occurrences. He brings about purpose.

When I ask myself if there is anything more I could have done in this instance, I can't say. I truly loved a little girl I barely knew. And as best as I knew how, I tried to make sure she knew just how special she was. Maybe the question is What can I do now?

My great grandmother made the best hot rolls but I wasn't allowed to say that I loved them. She told us You don't love things ... you love people.

My great grandmother knew we could all be guilty of loving things. We love our comfort zone. We love acceptance. We love advancement. We love to be right. We love relationships that bring us benefit. Our children naturally love these things too. The loss of this beautiful life reminds me of the need to be more intentional in loving people.

We need to model love for our children...To talk about about loving people with our children. Sometimes we need to be willing to move from our table to one where somebody sits alone. I've heard it said, If it doesn't serve you or make you happy it's not a relationship worth having. That doesn't sound like Jesus. Love isn't self seeking. Love is kind. Regardless.

We need to pray asking for the wisdom we (and our children) need to recognize and approach those in need of a little more love and affirmation. We need as much wisdom in identifying and confronting unkindness. God help us.

As far as my friend goes, long gone is the opportunity to cheer her on with a smile in the hallway or a vigorous wave calling out, You matter.

We've still plenty of opportunity to cheer and guide those who are following after us. Love people, let's tell them.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds... Hebrews 10:24

In memory of Kori Newland, our little friend with the big voice. Her grandmother has given me permission to share these beautiful pictures.

‘‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the place

There was barely a thing in its proper space.

A green dress was hung on a chair without care

Put with the dirty laundry without being worn. Not fair.

Visions of a perfect Christmas danced in my head

But life would dole out messy instead

It’s laundry day. And Christmas concert day. It’s Monday (which is always double duty day...recovering from the weekend and wishful effort in getting a leg up on the week).

I made the kids clean their rooms extra good on Saturday. That always means that dirty drink ware will appear in the kitchen even though they’re not supposed to have drinks in their room. It also means that I’ll have three times the laundry to wash today (I’ll be surprised if there’s not a swimsuit in the dirty clothes pile). I cant adequately slay today. And I can't, no matter my effort, perfectly pull off Christmas.

Here's my Christmas List-

I just want

  • For the family to be together
  • To have everybody healthy
  • For everyone to be happy
  • For everyone to love their gifts
  • For the presents to wrap themselves
  • To make Christmas snacks
  • For my house to be clean
  • For my family to enjoy my Christmas Pandora station when I play it full blast
  • Unlimited funds
  • To not forget anyone when wishing loved ones a Merry Christmas
  • For those who have suffered this year to be able to enjoy Christmas
  • For everyone to know (and believe) why Jesus came so long ago as a babe in a manger
  • To watch the Hallmark channel
  • For life to be like the Hallmark channel

Is that too much to ask?

Absolutely.

There's not a single bullet point that will be pulled-off perfectly.

The Christmas story tells of a family (Mary and Joseph), who by all human appearances, are messy. Their story is fraught with imperfection. They're outside the comfort of home suffering the pain of labor and facing the unknown... with no place to rest their heads (except for with the animals).

Christmas is messy.

It's caught up in humanity until we realize that our messy setting is the perfect backdrop for the revelation of perfection. Holiness ... within our grasp, in the face of our NOT getting it right. We only truly celebrate Christmas when we worship Jesus, who came to do what we can't.


"Do we remember

The wonders of his love

Will our voices join with the chorus up above

Do we remember how on the silent night

There was a baby who came to recall us back to life"

-The Perfect Gift JJ Heller



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We hardly ever do family pictures anymore.  I'm the only one who wants them.  I'm so controlling that not only do I force the family to participate, I also choose what everybody wears. One family member accused me of trying to make her wear something that looked like a rug today. Everybody is usually upset with me before pictures are over, but I just keep on smiling (and torturing).

Today we took church directory pictures. I was up and at em' early this morning creating "a look" that would make us color coordinated and match-y but not too match-y . I made them suffer double duty (pictures before the pictures) and this was still one of our most harmonious picture taking sessions ever.  As has happened in years past, nobody fell and hurt themselves, I didn't have to lick my finger and wipe food off anybody's face, we didn't have to strategically hide an arm cast and no one wore high water jeans with white crew socks.

This year was relatively successful.

So you get pictures before the pictures AND you get to know a few things that were happening behind the scenes.

  1. One of us is wearing pants right out of the dirty clothes basket. Maybe more, but at least one of us.
  2.  At least one person wore something they would never have chosen/ wore something borrowed/ wore something the wrong size.
  3. One person cried shortly before our picture was taken.
  4. All pictured were reminded to keep their eyes opened.  (It was difficult for at least one family member).
  5. All participants were bribed with food.
  6. Two people were accused of being mean.
  7. Somebody complained about how much time it took.
  8. Some of us argued between cozy posing.
  9. We didn't like the first pose, but didn't want to waste time taking more.
  10. We smiled through it.

Getting Christmas pictures or Christmas cards out has proven too difficult the past few years.  This year has been no different. Consider this your second (or third) annual lame social media Christmas card.  The Burdens, like most every other family, are presenting their best, but will tell you this family stuff isn't always easy. We just know this family stuff is worth it.

Quick family update:

Hayden is 21. He'll finish up welding school at LIT in May.  He works nights at UPS and still drinks several gallons of milk a week. (I do not have his permission to use this picture.)

Hallie is 16. She's driving and working for a local insurance company.  She spends her paycheck on makeup.

Rylie is 12.  She loves all of the opportunities to be a part of different clubs in middle school.  She still loves baking.  She's good at it.  She is still not good at cleaning up after her baking.

Merry Christmas 2017 from the Burdens!

...and hope does not put us to shame because God has poured out His love into our hearts ... Romans 5:5

Our Elf on the Shelf days are pretty much over (Wait while I do a fist pump...). I don't miss having to get up before the crack of dawn to set up some elaborate scene where it appears that "Jingles"has been having an exquisite tea party with Barbie while we slept.

I remember staying up late one night trying to attach our elf to a Christmas banner we have hanging in our entry way.  The idea was to make it look like she had been zip lining. Except that it didn't work out.  I finally gave up and stuck her in the Christmas tree, an idea that had already been used and was lame in the first place.

I have no shame in telling you that I didn't enjoy our elf.  She was too much work.  Our third child, the dreamer, got up every morning in anticipation of where "Jingles" was hiding. There were a couple of times I forgot to hide her and had to come up with a quick story about why she hadn't "moved" (as is the stupid rule that she must move to a different location in the house every night...What genius thought of that?).

I admit, my mind is fairly creative.  I can come up with a believable lie quicker than you can snap your fingers. ( I know, I probably shouldn't sound so proud to admit that fact. I did say I can come up with good lies but I never really confessed to the practice).

My Facebook scrolling this week has shown me that I'm not the only one who has neglected to move their elf, either by forgetting or oversleeping. Sure you can tell your children that their elf didn't move because "he hurt his leg" or some other carefully, but quickly thought out nonsense. But in my experience, fabricating why the family elf was stationery on Wednesday night isn't the best policy. It certainly shouldn't be the only policy.  One morning I tried something else.

The foolproof way to handle a bum elf (and other debacles):

Have you ever told your children to do something like get all of their junk out of the car? They get most of it but leave a jacket and you scold them for it, reminding them that you told them to get their stuff! They then insist that they did get their junk.  You tell them they didn't get the jacket then receive a genuinely puzzled look telling you that they didn't leave their jacket.  You march them to the car and present the proof to which they cool-ly respond, That's not mine. You spend an additional fifteen minutes explaining how they were the one who left the jacket in the car and therefore (whether it's their jacket or not, it's their responsibility to bring it in-with their junk-if they're the one who left it in the car.

My kids have a gift for implementing the element of confusion when we are having necessary conversations. Though I'm excellent at explaining things (I'm a teacher), they have often pulled a victory by simply convincing me that I have an inability to make them understand certain things like why they can't wear basketball shorts in forty degree weather.

After realizing their brilliance I decided to use the same method one night when the firstborn and I were watching TV years ago.  A commercial advertising something of a sexual nature came on.  My son asked me, "What's that?" I gave a befuddled look and responded, "I don't get it either."  He seemed satisfied with that and we got back to our thirty-minute sitcom.

Fast forward to a morning that I had forgot to move Jingle. The youngest complained, Why didn't Jingle move? I look at her baffled.  That's weird.  She didn't move. Hmm, I retorted. Her next question centered on what was for breakfast.

In a day and time where we think we have to have all the answers, there is sometimes power in not having one.

Besides having an occasional bum elf, your kid may suffer real problems like not getting invited to a party or not making a team they worked hard to be on. Even then, it's not always necessary, or helpful, to explain why something disappointing is happening. We don't always know the answer. Often the answer we spend precious time crafting and delivering isn't a cure. There's not always a fix.

 Sometimes entering the mystery with them is the best we can do.

 

 

 

There's been no time to sit and collect my thoughts here recently. Thanksgiving annually signals a time of calendar high-jacking. Time is filled with shopping, parties, and travel plans.  These engagements show little consideration for the other events that insist on happening. Viruses don't take a break during Christmas.  Neither do bills. Neither does cancer, or death.

There's no other time of year that rivals these days that are spent balancing the highest highs and the dark lows. Just as flipping back and forth between heat and cold is said to cause illness, sometimes I wonder if it's the flooding of giddiness and grief that makes me feel a little heart sick during this most wonderful time of the year.

After scraping guacamole off of the underneath of the kitchen garbage can lid (put there by children who can't seem to find the trash can any other time), folding laundry and intermittently adding to-do items on the scratch piece of paper beside me, I firmly decided that I would write this morning.

Ideas floated around in my head, and like the roll of a dice I landed on Anna, you know "Luke 2 Anna", the one who's briefly mentioned after Simeon, the widow present at the temple after Jesus' birth,  who worshiped fiercely and testified boldly. I opened my Bible and read over chapter 2, but was stopped by a phrase that elicited familiar feelings before Anna ever had a chance.

In the beginning of Luke 2, we find Jesus being taken to Jerusalem to be presented and consecrated to the Lord, as was the custom with every firstborn male. Simeon, who was also in Jerusalem, was moved by the Spirit to be at the temple.  He had been waiting for some time for the consolation of Israel. He approached Mary and Joseph praising God saying,

"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace,

For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." Luke 2:29-32

A light, he said... for glory...

Verse 33 says that Mary and Joseph marveled at what was said about (Jesus).

I remember Mary pondering when she first received the news that she would give birth to a son. Now she and Joseph are marveling! This clues us in that she's still in awe, but there's some admiration, and maybe even a little parental pride mixed in.  That feeling must have been short-lived.

Simeon spoke directly to Mary telling her

"This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed." (verses 34-35)

And then he bluntly told her.

"And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

And that's all we hear from Simeon... Wait... What? How has this not wrecked me before? The next verses go straight to Anna.  How can I be remotely interested in Anna when such terrifying and weighty words have been spoken to this mama? And then came the question I had to ask myself.

If I had been Mary, would I still have marveled?

Receiving such dark news did she even hear what Anna had to say? We can't know because we're only told that, once they had done everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee. (verse 39)

Were they overwhelmed by the darkness? By uncertainty? Did they have friends to talk to who understood their fear and trepidation? Was this something Mary and Joseph could bring themselves to talk about with each other? Did they argue about how to handle such weight? Did they silently suffer?

Or as night was ushered in upon hearing such news, were their eyes aware of the bright star hanging in the sky which guided the Magi (when otherwise the wise men wouldn't have known where to go or what to do)? Did they still see the light?

How about you?

Sometimes it's easy to marvel. But when defeat and loss and heart-stopping news is laid upon us how will we respond? Heavy and tired will we still give our admiration to the Christ child for what He has done, for what He is going to do? Will we cling to hope this season when the night star seems covered, out of sight? When we don't understand a part of the plan will we fight to be in awe of a God whose overall plan results in all fatigue and grief being eliminated...extinguished?

Will we still marvel?

The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

 

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! 



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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.

I HAVE A SURPRISE FOR Y'ALL!

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.