A Sweet Love Story


Aren’t we secretly and some of us openly always up for a sappy Hallmark movie.  Why does this story always strike a chord in our hearts?  Because we all long for that wistful romance to be a part of our lives.  I have watched a real life “Hallmark” movie play out before me.

Danielle, our oldest daughter, and her boyfriend Aaron got engaged a few weeks ago.  The beauty of their love story is the simplicity of it.  There was no drama.  They met.  They took their time and got to know each other.  They started dating.  They got engaged. Now they are planning their wedding.

They always invited people to be a part of their lives.  They lived their love story out loud with no secrets.  Nothing to hide.  It is simple and sweet.

As much as they enjoy being together, they also enjoy being together with others.  They have friendships they still enjoy and have not left those behind because of each other.  They did not forget who they were before they met.  They did not forget the friends they had before they met.

They look for ways to serve the Lord together and apart.

If I could write a script for a love story, I would write it to mirror theirs.  The names would be different.  The circumstances would be different.  But the sweetness and the innocence would be the same.

When they got engaged, they invited all who had been a part of their journey to be a part of their engagement.  They invited family to celebrate with them.  They invited friends to celebrate with them.

Our lives were meant to be shared, not kept as a secret.  Not meant to be held so closely to the chest that no one could read what we write.

They strive to be pure.  They willingly and sweetly do nothing in private they are not willing to do in public.

They treat each other with kindness and respect.  They are students of each other seeking to love the other as they want to be loved.  They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and do not hold these things against the other, but accept these things and encourage each other to strive toward greatness without a hint of condemnation.

The journey they have been on has been a challenge as Aaron battled cancer soon after they started dating.  They grew stronger together through this difficult battle.  They drew strength from each other and saw the Lord do wonderful things in and through them during this time.

Aaron and Danielle, congratulations!  May this sweet journey you have embarked on continue to be a beacon to those around you of a love story that can be if we keep our eyes fixed on the “Author and Perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2).  I love you both and am thankful that you have found each other.


Mom, Look well to the ways of your household

girls in Grand Haven

I have been thinking about motherhood quite a bit lately.  Mostly, because my role as Mom is changing and will change drastically in August as they all head off to college.  I have loved having all of our girls home for the summer.  It is so nice to have the house full.  The messy kitchen means they are in it eating.  The messy living room means they are relaxing after a hard day of work.  The extra food I am making and all the desserts that get made and eaten means they are here eating what I make.  The shouts from the other room, “Mom,” fill my heart because I know that I am needed for a wise word or a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on or cry on.  I love these days, but I know they are fleeting.

I try to be home when they are home.

I was challenged last week as I listened to a pod cast to be intentional.  Not one to step away from a challenge, I realized that I could be more intentional than I had already been.  The speaker talked about spending time with his adult children doing a study with them.  I realized the material was important, but the time spent being intentional and growing together was actually more important. It shows my girls how important growth is.  It shows them that I don’t want to be stagnant but want to keep growing in my walk with the Lord.  It also shows them that I would rather do it with no one else but them.

I found a book that was a quick read with a good message. Short chapters that could be quickly read when we happened to all be together for a few minutes.  Easy chapters to digest with a challenging message.  I have read books to my kids since they were little.  It was always something we looked forward to and often they would want me to read more.  Mostly, because we were sharing an experience, picturing a story in our minds together, enjoying the power of the written word TOGHETHER.

We read our first few chapters on the beach in Grand Haven as we ate strawberry pie and watched the sunset.  We didn’t share too much tantalizing conversation.  We did share an experience.  We shared a memory.  We shared many laughs that we rehearse together and laugh again.

So as these days of summer are way too short and all of my sweet girls are set to leave to go to college in a few short weeks, I want to be all here.  I want to be intentional.  I want them to look at home as a place they can’t wait to get to that fills them with love and laughter and lots of good food.  I want them to remember all the little things I taught them, because they build into big lessons that build their character.

A house is a place, but home is the people and the love that fills that place.

I challenge you, Moms, fill your home with lots of good food.  Be there when your kids are there. Be ready to listen.  Look for ways to be intentional and fill their hearts with love. Today builds on the past.  If yesterday wasn’t great, make today better.  Be intentional about tomorrow.  You will have no regrets.

Proverbs 31:27 “She looks well to the ways of her household…”

Listen and Love Well

To do

The end of the year and the beginning of the New Year always brings a certain amount of contemplation on the part of most people.  It may not last for long or amount to any major changes in an individual’s life, but a new year does cause most to stop and consider, “How could this year be better?”  What could I do to be a better person, impact others, make more money, lose weight, or get in shape?  What would it take to have a better relationship with my spouse, children, parents, friends, boss, etc.?  Or some may even go as far as to ponder, “What do I need to do to have a better relationship with God?”

I have seen some really catchy ways for people to write out their goals for the new year.  I must say I like lists, and I do feel as though I accomplish more if I have a list of things that need to get done, especially if they are things that I do not particularly want to do.  There is the avenue of writing out the big goals and then making smaller monthly, weekly, or daily goals to accomplish the big goal.  This is a proven method that works very well.

As I consider my new year, I have not listed out a bunch of goals for the year.  I honestly haven’t decided if I am going to or not.  I could write down all the things that everyone else does, but then I wouldn’t have enough time to get them all done.  I could dream big and make action steps to fulfill those big dreams by accomplishing the little ones along the way.  I suppose, in a way, I am writing this to sort out my thoughts that are whirring around in my head, but haven’t settled out onto anything concrete much less a list or a set of action steps that must be accomplished in order to achieve the big goals.

The big things that happened in most people’s lives didn’t happen because they sat around and thought about it, it happened because they made a plan to do it and then they did it.  So the reality of this is if I don’t get off the couch, so to speak, life isn’t going to be different.

So here’s my thoughts.  What if I listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit more?  I spend time daily in God’s Word and in prayer.  Do I sense the Holy Spirit nudging me or pricking my conscience?  Then those seem like actions steps I should follow.

I have been thinking a lot about the tongue.  Easy to understand why since I have read Proverbs every day for the past 1.5 years.  Proverbs 31:26 says that the “…teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”  I cannot very well teach something if I do not know anything about that topic.  I want to be such a student of God’s kindness to me that God’s kindness readily flows from my tongue.

People.  God created us so we must be important.  Am I daily seeking ways to minister to people?  Am I a student of others and their needs?

It’s not a fancy list, but it certainly helped me process a few things.  In the end, according to I Corinthians 13 if I do all that I do and I do it without love, it profits me nothing.  It’s just noise with no melody.  It’s actions with no purpose.  It’s busyness with no activity.  The Holy Spirit and God’s Word can be powerful tools with our tongues and our relationships, the question is – Will we allow that to be the case?  A list without love, is simply some scribbles on a piece of scrap paper. My challenge is this:  Listen and love well.

Tears of Joy


This summer two of our daughters join the ranks of many who will spend their summer working at camp.  They were home from college for a month, but will be gone for the remainder of the summer with enough time to come home, go on a family vacation, and get packed back up to head back to Cedarville University.

Our oldest daughter is spending the summer working at Lake Ann as a counselor-where Dave went went to camp when he was growing up, and our middle daughter is working at Scioto Hills-the same camp I went to and worked at when I was growing up, and where my parents are currently volunteering.  What treasured memories I have from camp.  God works in great ways at camp all while making wonderful memories and making great friends.

As excited for them as I am that they are so willingly serving the Lord this way, I still hate to say good-bye.  I know they will be back and I know I will see them both during the time they are gone, but I still hate to say good-bye.

I tell them and remind myself at the same time, “They are growing up and becoming the young ladies I raised them to be.”  Growth brings change and tears.  Growth and maturity also come with a price tag.

I am reminded of a tearful good-bye in Acts 20:36, 37 “And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.  And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him.”  The Apostle Paul was moved with emotion to the point of tears when he said good-bye to those he ministered to in Ephesus.  Paul spent hours pouring his life into many people during his life after his conversion.  After that much time investing and loving, there is a sense of loss during the good-bye.  This feeling of loss over the separation of distance shows that a true heart connection is made.  A valuable relationship is formed.  A treasured bond that is inseparable despite the miles was established.  Despite the heartache and the sadness with the good-bye, the beauty of the relationship is seen with those tears.

As I miss my girls this summer and cry over our separation of distance, I also have a sense of pride over what they are doing with their lives.  I see them carrying on the things that are important in life: loving Jesus and loving people. No matter the sacrifice, no matter the loneliness, no matter the challenges in the end this is what matters.

Right before Paul said his tearful good-by to the people of Ephesus in Acts 20, he reminded the people, “…It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35).  Paul willingly gave all that He had to serve our Lord: to love Jesus and love people.  He lived out this verse.

As I miss my girls this summer, I know that they are right where God wants them, doing the work of the ministry.  There is much joy in my sadness and to be honest the sadness shows the beauty of the relationship.  So as we shed tears on behalf of those we miss, don’t be embarrassed by the tears, rather relish them and treasure them for they show how valuable that relationship really is.


purple flowers

Contradiction…we all know and understand the meaning behind this word.  Two things that oppose each other.  In English class we call them antonyms.  The two words that mean the opposite of each other.  The usual purpose behind a debate is caused by two or more people that have different usually opposing ideas that they not only feel very strongly about but also think is the only correct way to think.  We see this in our government on a pretty consistent basis these days.  Contradictions are not usually our favorite thing to discuss at a party, and yet the Bible has some contradictions that when looked at on the surface make no sense but when put into practice make perfect sense.


Here are a few:

  1. Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

How can we find our life if we lose it?  Usually when I lose something, like a sock in the wash, it is lost.  We do not try to lose things on purpose so that we can then find them.  What was Jesus’ original intent when He spoke these words?  If we deny Christ in hopes of saving our lives, we lose the hope of eternal life.  When we surrender our lives to Christ, we gain the hope of eternal life.  Living a life surrendered to the will of God the Father will find the true purpose and the true meaning of life.  True purpose in life is not found in doing my will, but rather surrendering my will to the Father and doing His will.  Yes, a contradiction.

  1. Proverbs 11:24 “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give and only suffers want.”

This one is certainly an enigma.  When we give we grow richer and when we withhold we are in want.  So many in our culture strive to have the best house, the best car, the best clothes…Three generations from now or even at our funerals will our house and our car be the things that are remembered?  Rather, when we attend funerals no one usually talks about another’s possessions but their character.  When we are generous with our love, compassion, gentleness, kindness, encouragement, friendship, hospitality, joy, peace…we grow richer.  When we are stingy with our kindness being so focused on meeting our own needs, we suffer.  It seems when I notice the needs of another and freely give of my time and talents, my heart grows richer.  When I fail to notice the needs of others and am so focused on my own needs, I feel even needier.  Loving those that do not deserve it or encouraging those that may not reciprocate fills my heart with more joy than keeping that love for myself.  Notice the pain in someone’s eyes and love them.  Notice the loneliness in someone’s life and be their friend.  We should be giving so freely that when it seems the cup is empty, God has refilled it with more than we had to start with.

  1. Proverbs 11:25 “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched and one who waters will himself be watered.”
  2. Acts 20:35 “…It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

What is the conclusion of the whole matter?  Live a life of contradiction.  Give when it seems there is nothing left to give, and God will reward you.  “Moreover, it is required of stewards that a man be found faithful.” (I Corinthians 4:2).  Will we be found as a faithful giver or a faithful withholder?  God has so richly given to us, should we not follow His example and be faithful givers.  Generosity (giving freely) is not always money.  We all have an endless supply of love, compassion, gentleness, kindness, encouragement, friendship, hospitality, joy, peace…why not give it all away.  Live a life of contradiction.  Jesus did!

What are you on a quest for?



Have you ever been on a quest?  I love a good adventure.  I love to read about an adventure in a good book, watch a good adventure on TV, and hear about another’s true life adventure.  Life in its greatest sense is an adventure.

Life with God is an even greater adventure.

We never know when we trust Him where it will take us, who we will meet, or the challenges we will have to overcome.  Yet, so many refuse to trust Him because they are afraid of the risk.

Afraid of the unknown.  Afraid of the adventure that will lie before them.

Afraid of the cost.

We get into our comfort zones and refuse to leave them.  Not willing to “move from the boat to the water.”

We keep an unseen ledger sheet in our heads and our hearts and every cost is weighed out by what is to be gained.  Too many times our fear of the cost outweighs the risk of our faith.

What would it cost vs. what we would gain revolves in a never ending battle in our hearts and our heads.

So what if:

  1. We confessed our sins and our faults to others. What would it cost us?  What would we gain?

“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16).

When we have secret sins that would mortify anyone if they knew about them, do we confess them?  What would it cost us if we openly and honestly confessed our sins?  (It’s not like God is asking us to publish our sins on every form of media possible.  Rather, He is asking us to be open with a few people that will hold us accountable.  Plus, those we have hurt or offended must be included in this process so forgiveness can be granted).  We may lose our dignity.  We may lose our reputations.  We may lose favor.  When we keep on sinning or cover up the sin, it becomes a cancer that eats away at our very souls.  We never have the chance to be healed from the sin “that so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1).  Confession brings about healing.

  1. We loved as Christ loved us. What would it cost us?  What would we gain?

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8).

The cost of love is sometimes the highest cost of all.  “But God demonstrated His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).  The love of God cost Him His Son’s life.  Why?  “To cover a multitude of sins.”  (I Peter 4:8).  Jesus’ righteousness became our righteousness.  What if we loved someone else so much, our love covered their sins and changed them from an ugly cancer to a new creation in Christ?  We do not have the ability to save them, but our love may be what causes them to seek Christ.  Remember Jesus’ love for the woman at the well.  What about the woman caught in the act of adultery?  What about His faithful love for us?  What if our love covered a multitude of sin in someone’s life and they were radically changed?

  1. We had the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. What would it cost us?  What would we gain?

“If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O King.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17, 18).

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had so much faith in who God was that they were willing to tell the King, “Whether we live or die, we believe that God is God.”  That is the faith of a mustard seed.  That is the faith that moves mountains.  Faith, that whether our prayer is answered how we pray it or not “Whether we live or die,” still believes that God is who He says He is.  Then thanking Him for the work that He is doing in our lives through every situation, we resolve to walk through faith “making known His deeds among the people.” (Psalm 105:1).  Sometimes deliverance does not come the way we pray, because God is doing a different work in us than answering our prayers the way we pray them would allow.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were delivered from the fiery furnace.  It was many years, before Joseph saw the hand of God in the situation he had been placed. Yet, he never changed who he stood with…the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Through all the trials that Joseph endured, God changed him.  The boy who boastfully proclaimed his dream of ruling over his brothers and strutting around like a proud peacock in his coat of many colors was transformed through his years in Egypt into a humble man who was able to confidently say, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20).  The cost of faith is great.  We may never know like Joseph the good that God can bring from an evil situation, but we must always be confident that if we are walking by faith and able to pass the tests of morality and humility as Joseph did, God will mean it for good.  We must have faith!

  1. We had the meekness/humility of Moses. What would it cost us?  What would we gain?

“Now the man Moses was very meek (humble), more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)

Humility often costs us our pride.  We may have to confess our sins.  We may have to admit someone else is right.  We may have to swallow our pride and say that both opinions are right, but I choose to let your opinion or your way stand.  Humility is costly, but pride is costlier.  Humility may cause momentary pain, but pride usually costs us relationships.  Look at the cost of Satan’s pride.  Look at the cost of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride.  Look at the cost of Peter’s pride. (Before the cock crows three times, you will deny Me.)  Humility causes momentary pain with long term benefits.  Pride causes momentary satisfaction with long term pain…not just for us but for those we lord our pride over.  Will humility be your banner or will pride be your grave marker?

  1. We had the courage of Peter. What would it cost us?  What would we gain?

“And Peter answered him, ‘Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’” (Matthew 14:28).

For each of these things – confession of sin, self-sacrificing love, faith, and meekness – courage must be used to execute them.  The boat seemed safe.  Ask the other disciples if they felt safe in the boat?  Ask Peter if his risk of fear vs. courage was worth the sensation of looking at Jesus while walking on the water?

We are all on a journey, a quest.  We all must answer the questions: What is the cost?  What is the gain?  The journey with Him is the choice we must all make.  What are the things we must pack as we go on this quest of following God?  Will you take with you confession of sin (vulnerability and authenticity), self-sacrificing love, faith, humility, and courage? Or will you take secrecy of hidden sin that eats away like a cancer, selfishness, doubt, pride, and fear?  Will you reach for momentary pain and long term benefits or momentary satisfaction and long term pain?  Only you can make the choice.



2233_16628_Ashley-Plead cropped

LEAD-a word that can be a noun or a verb.  As a verb lead means to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, or a rope while moving forward.  As a noun it is the initiative of an action as an example for others to follow.


Our first Leader Dog for the Blind, Ashley, has about two more weeks of training with her forever blind person and she will be off to do what God created her to be and do.  I have been amazed and humbled by this process and brought to tears, both of joy and frustration, as I have watched Ashley and now our current Leader Dog in training, Lilly, grow, mature, develop, and take on this amazing role.  What amazes me is what is required and what disqualifies a dog for service.


One story is of a dog who got her third ear infection the day before she was to go home with her forever blind person and she was disqualified (career changed) from service.  These dogs are x-rayed and if their hips are bad, they are career changed.  If they are afraid of anything, they are career changed.  Another dog was doing well in training but could not get over his fear of the floor cleaner at the grocery store.  He was career changed.  Ashley’s brother, Duke, was career changed because he became hesitant.  Ashley could still be career changed, but it is exciting to know she is this close.


The positive stories of these Leader Dogs are many.  One woman shared how everyone that knew her noticed how much her freedom increased.  People said she looked like she was “flying.”  Others report an increase in confidence and a feeling of increased safety.  These Leader Dogs have to ignore balls bouncing, fresh popcorn on the floor, people petting them, and the multitude of noises that could frighten them.  They have to know when to cross the street and when to willfully disobey knowing that danger is near if they obey.  They must know when to avoid a low lying branch or a tripping hazard across their path.  All of these things are expected from a 12-16 month old puppy.


There are many things we can learn from these Leader Dogs.  The same things that cause a Leader Dog to be career changed can also cause us to be “career changed” from being quality leaders. Fear, hesitation, distraction, lack of focus, inability to know when to “obey” and when to take a stand for a better alternative are all things that cause a Leader Dog to be career changed will also make a poor and ineffective leader.


As my daughters have grown up, I have prayed often various Scriptures for their future husbands. A new one I have added recently is I Peter 3:7 “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”  I have this verse written at the top of a page in my prayer journal and beneath it I have several qualities of a good leader that I pray will be in my future sons-in-law:


*inspires others to follow

*brings out the best in a person

*recognizes individual’s potential skill and helps them to use these skills

*builds others up

*inspires and motivates people to want to do their best

*connects people

*builds trust

*an example of honesty and integrity

*LEADER is not a title

*innate ability to inspire and motivate others to accomplish and achieve more than they             thought possible

*protect and provide for needs


Additional qualities seen in Jesus as a leader:

*basic motivation was love

*used His power to serve

*served others before Himself


We all are leaders.  No matter our station in life, we are leaders whether we realize it or not.  No matter the path of our lives, someone is following us either positively or negatively.  If we do not take this role seriously and desire to inspire and motivate others to accomplish all they can be and seek to serve others from the love God has given to us, where will the next generation be?  A gifted leader does not push someone into achieving something rather he inspires them to accomplish something greater than themselves.  This gifted leader comes along side and works with an individual inspiring them along the way.  This leader asks nothing of anyone that he/she is not willing to do himself/herself.


If Ashley can lead a blind person, then what are we afraid of?  If a dog who was not made in the image of God can lead a person to safety, can you not inspire others to excel to greater heights?  Don’t be hesitant, fearful, or distracted rather inspire the best from people and see that skill or quality in someone take root and cause them to “fly.”