Living simply, loving deeply!

The Tale of Two Worlds: American Christianity vs. Coptic Christianity

I am a very opinionated person. As I have grown in my walk with the Jesus, I have learned to keep most of the opinions to myself especially in regards to politics. I remember a few years back the Lord asking me “What do you want to be known for? What is really worth fighting for?” This process I went through would be a subject for another blog. I came to conclusion I wanted to be for Jesus, for loving people,  and for helping people follow Jesus no matter where they were in life. I needed to live a life that invited people to follow Jesus. I needed to live a life that whet people’s appetite to know this Jesus I am so captured by.

I do not want to be known for what I am against. I had a friend during the last presidential election ask me who I was voting for. She was working for the Obama campaign and said she could tell who everyone else was voting for except me. I was pleased that she could not tell. I would say about 60% or my church are Republicans and 40% Democrats (very rough guess). I NEVER want who I vote for to keep someone from coming to know this amazing Jesus I follow. I know a lot of Christians would disagree with this philosophy. They would accuse me of being wishy-washy and not taking a stand. They would be wrong. I simply choose my battles. I served 8 years on City Council. Our city is non-partisan which means you do not declare a party. I think that is wonderful. We did not start with a dividing wall.

With all of that being said something occurred this weekend that I feel compelled to write about. Actually, two things occurred. The first is that 21 Coptic Egyptian Christians were brutally killed by ISIS. Men dressed in complete black ending the lives of 21 followers of Christ simply because they follow Christ or as ISIS puts it “belong to the nation of the Cross.” I know the reward for those martyred is great in Heaven. Those who have lost their lives because of their profession of faith in Christ have a special place. I pray for the family left behind and the other Coptic Christians who live under the threat of martyrdom.

I proudly belong to the nation of the Cross.

The second thing that happened was the release of the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey”. And the debates among Christians on the internet arguing on whether or not Christians should see the movie. The irony of it. My feelings vacillated between anger and incredible sadness.

The contrast of these two events demonstrates so clearly why the Church in America has become so ineffective.

21 Coptic Christians dying in Egypt for their faith. Christians in America arguing about whether or not we should watch a movie that has no redeeming value. A movie that tells you women are nothing but sexual objects. A movie that is soft porn. And people who don’t think porn is a problem in our nation should read this GQ article.

We wonder why the church in America is sick and anemic and is not affecting the culture they are living in.

We wonder why the Church is not taken seriously in our own nation.

We wonder why people are leaving the Church by the thousands every year.

I came to the conclusion that I came to a couple of years ago…I want to be a part of the solution. I want to be a life that stands out. A life whose light shines in a world of darkness. A life that loves people. A life that prays for people. I want to be a person who is just not called a follower of Jesus but is found to be one (St. Ignatius). I really want to live a life of righteousness, peace and joy. After all, those are the characteristics (or supposed to be) of those who are a part of the Kingdom of God.

Let there be another Great Awakening in our nation and let it start with me.

Coptic Christians in Egypt brutally killed by ISIS.

Coptic Christians in Egypt brutally killed by ISIS.



Dreams, Painting, and Prayer

I have taken up painting. And I cannot believe how much I love it! Last fall I went to one of those classes in which friends get together and paint a picture. I had a lot of fun doing it and it was so relaxing. So this year as I was goal setting, I decided I would try painting on my own. I have this driving desire to keep my brain fresh. (And I’m reading a fascinating book on the brain and how you can create new grooves and stimulate different parts of it. I have said it before and will state it again…I am a nerd). I believe you keep your brain fresh by trying and learning new things. So this year it is painting.

My painting from class

My painting from class

Painting last fall in a class.

Painting last fall in a class.


I was a little nervous about making any kind of investment because I was not very good in art class in school. I was one of those who thought they could not draw a straight line. I even singed my hair once with the kiln in middle school art class. I definitely do not have the fondest of memories of art class (except 8th grade art…Mrs. Coton rocked!) It is funny how many of the conclusions we draw about ourselves we make as kids and teenagers and never go back to examine if we really came to the right conclusion or not.

I had drawn the conclusion that I was not very creative. I have come to realize that was a faulty conclusion. How I decorate my house, my love for writing and reading are signs of my creativity. I remember having a conversation with some friends and I made the statement, “I’m not very good at decorating. I don’t have that creative gene.” My good friend, Lesli said, “Yes, you are. You have a theme and it is very unique.” I was comparing myself to Better Homes and Gardens and other home magazines.

On my birthday this year, I went to spend the afternoon with my mentor and some other ministry friends. My plan was once I left there I was going to go to the craft store and purchase the supplies I needed to get started. As I told them about my plans, they were so encouraging. Have you ever had someone in your life that makes you feel like you can do anything? Harriet is that person to me. I am so grateful for her. As the four of them prayed over me a blessing for my birthday, I just knew that God was doing something. It was a holy moment.

This was taken on my birthday at Bill and Harriet's house. A wonderful afternoon!

This was taken on my birthday at Bill and Harriet’s house. A wonderful afternoon!

My first painting I attempted was a picture/vision I had during worship a few years back. I had the vision several times and so one day, I drew it out in my office. I hung the piece of paper on my wall to remind me of what my walk with Jesus should look like. I thought “one day I am going to get someone to paint this for me.” Who knew that person would be me!

My first solo picture!

My first solo picture!

When I started my first painting, I put on worship music and began to paint. I was so nervous that I was going to mess up. As I kept painting, I began to feel free. I realized that I could not mess up. It was my painting, my creation…it could be anything I wanted it to be and any color I wanted it to be. There was no wrong way. One of my favorite Bible verses is Ephesians 2:10 – it says, “We are (I am) God’s workmanship (His poem, His work of art) created in Christ Jesus to do good works so that we would walk in them.” That verse explains my first painting exactly. As God paints the story of my life, I am to walk in the good works He has prepared for me to do, always with the Cross before me. It was such a moving experience for me.

AS I have started a blank canvas and seen it come to life, the pleasure I feel is indescribable. I feel like I have caught a glimpse of the heart of God and how He feels as He is painting the story of my life. As He sees His purposes and plans come to fruition in me, that pleases Him.

My second painting was for niece, Madison. She saw my first one and said she wanted me to do one for her. She loves frogs so I thought I would surprise her and do one. Again, I put on worship music and painted. I spent two hours praying for her. Praying that she would know that she is God’s workmanship, that He has purposes and plans for her, that she would know how much God loves her. When it was done, I signed it and put two Scriptures on it that came to mind as I painted.

My lovely niece with her picture.

My lovely niece with her picture.

My third painting I did was for one of my sisters. One of my favorite things I have is a rock she painted for me when I was 5 or 6. I thought for her birthday I would paint the picture that is on the rock. The time I spent painting it I used to pray for her. I spent the time thanking God for her, praying that He would bless her and that she would continue to grow in the knowledge of how much He loves her. And I signed it and put Scriptures on it. And now I know that I will be painting intercessory prayer paintings for people in my life that I am praying for. All I want to do is paint. I have my 4th one sketched out but I can’t show it on here because the person receiving reads my blogs faithfully. And I want it to be a surprise.

the sketch

the sketch



I love seeing a picture come to life!


The rock from my sister!

The rock from my sister!


The finished picture

The finished picture

I was thinking today what if I would have listened to my childhood/teen-ager self that said I was not artistic or that I couldn’t draw a straight line? What if I had been afraid to try? I would be missing out on something that brings me much joy. I also thought that most of the time we are our own worst dream busters. I would encourage you to try something new and do not let fear keep you from trying!

Let Your Light Shine

Last year I wrote a blog entitled,  The Tale of a Recovering Scrooge. In it I explain why Christmas has not been my favorite holiday since my mom passed away when I was 17.

I hesitate sharing another reason that this holiday is not my favorite. I hesitate because the last thing I want is for people to feel sorry for me and/or to give a false view of my life. I am incredibly grateful for where I am in life. I love what I do and whom I do it with. I am incredibly blessed. With all of that being said, Christmas is not the friendliest of holidays for singles. There is no one to open presents with on Christmas morning, no one to buy you Christmas presents (I cringe as I type this because it sounds terrible and incredibly selfish). I have chosen not to get married up to this point. And I have definitely chosen not to have children. There are positives and negatives to each choice we make in life. In the blessing that my life is, this is one negative. It doesn’t make me sad, it just reminds me of the seriousness of following Jesus in my life. People who say you can have it all, are not being honest.

Last year after a grieving through the holiday workshop at our church, I realized that I had to stop skipping Christmas. That it was time to re-engage in the celebration of the birth of Christ. I made some steps last year. This year I decided that I would hang some Christmas lights. Not a lot…. just a few.

In the past, during the summer I would hang flip-flop lights on the outside of my house. My house is pretty much decorated like a summer beach cottage and so in the summer I would hang lights.

A few weeks ago while working in my yard and cleaning out gutters, I started hanging a few Christmas lights. While I was doing this, my neighbor came over to talk to me. Six years ago, he lost his daughter to cancer and three years ago, he lost his wife to cancer. I had officiated both services.

As we stood in my front yard, with tears streaming down his face he told me how in his wife’s last days, she would have him hold her up so she could look out their back door to see my flip-flop lights. She thought they were so beautiful. And it brought her joy in her final days. He then proceeded to tell me that his 18-year-old grandson had just tragically died the week before. I had no idea. He was broken. As I hugged my neighbor in my front yard, mourning with him over his loss, I determined that I was going to go all out with Christmas lights this year. There is also a nursing home directly across the street from my house.

I had been so selfish for years, thinking how Christmas affected me and not noticing others around me. And I thought of Jesus, the whole reason for the season, who gave up Heaven, to be born as a baby so that He could show me the way to the Father. He gave up everything to die a brutal death on a Cross for me. So that I could serve God without fear and have this abundant life that I am currently living! So that I could love people more fully.

And all out I have gone! I now understand Clark Griswold’s motivation in National Lampoon’s Vacation. And it has been a financial sacrifice. I had to start from scratch with lights. And I have no idea how much my light bill will be but it is worth it. A friend of mine from church who works at the nursing home texted me last week and told me that one of the residents commented on how beautiful my lights were.

As I stood back and look at my lit house when I was finished, I remember the words of Jesus when He said to “let your light so shine before others so, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). I am taking it literally this year.

They are bright.

They are bright.



Love my pink flamingo

Love my pink flamingo

Nothing is Wasted

I have been getting coached for the past 6 months. I have had to look again at what my dreams are, what I value, what is important to me, dream busters, etc. Yesterday was our last conference call. We wrote our life’s mission statement. It has been a fun and challenging process.

At the same time, I have been leading Beth Moore’s Bible study, Believing God, with two different groups of women from my church. It has been one of the best Bible studies I have ever done. It has really challenged me in my walk with Jesus. I believe it has changed me. As part of the study, she makes you look back at your life and see how God has been at work in your life from the time you were born. We are now in the midst of creating timelines of our lives and recognizing how God has been with us, even in the not so good times. We have been doing this as we have studied the life of Joshua.

All of this reminded me of a seminar that I did back in 2000 called Focused Living. At the time I was living in Virginia and serving as the interim Senior Pastor. The District asked me if I was interested in permanently leading the church. The Pastor (my boss) had just stepped down. I honestly did not know if I wanted to senior pastor at that point in my life. So they sent me to this seminar. It was an intense two-day process of looking back at your life and the lessons you learned along the way. During this process I had to write a Personal Life Mission Statement. God used this process to show me that I was not called to senior pastor in that season. The process, though painful (I had to look at a lot of hard stuff I went through growing up), really did focus me.

(JPEG Image, 1000 × 194 pixels)

I came home a couple of weeks ago and pulled out the big poster of my life that I had to do during the Focused Living Seminar. It fit so well with what God was showing me through coaching and the Bible Study. On this poster, I had it broken up into segments. I was 30 when I did this and it fell into 3, 10 year segments. The first 10 years was entitled “Turmoil”, the second 10 years was entitled “Preparation” and the third 10 years was entitled “Gaining Experience”. And I had life events under each of them. Good and bad. I also had life lessons that I had learned through my experiences of my first 30 years of life. As I read them, I realized that I still live by the lessons I had learned to articulate in the Focused Living process.  The purpose of this blog is to share my life lessons of my first 30 years of life. I am 44 now. I feel strongly that God, through the coaching and the Bible study, is having me go through the same process that I went through with Focused Living 14 years ago. So I have been looking back at the past 14 years and identifying what has happened,  what God has been doing and what season of life I am in now, where He is leading me and the lessons have I learned. I shared some of this with my pastor and he asked me “What would I entitle the past 14 plus years since I last did this?” I was surprised that an answer quickly rolled off my tongue in response. I will share that in another blog.

Here are the 15 lessons I learned from my first 30 years of life:


  1. God will never leave me.
  2. God can take the ugliest things and situations and make something beautiful come out of it.
  3. Nothing is wasted if you allow God to bring healing.
  4. I learned to be faithful in ALL things (as a lay person, as a manager, and with my family).
  5. You can never ask someone to do something that you are not willing to do yourself (leadership).
  6. People need to be treated with kindness and respect.
  7. I learned that false humility will keep me from reaching my full potential.
  8. When I say I can’t do something, I am limiting the power of God.
  9. I learned perseverance. When God calls you to do something – hold on and obey. It will come to pass.
  10. I learned to walk in forgiveness and let hurts and wrongs go quickly.
  11. Cracked pot vision – God shines through the broken areas of our lives.
  12. Anyone can fall. And people will let us down. It could happen to me so err on side of showing grace and compassion when people fall. Treat people how I would want to be treated if I fell.
  13. Jesus came to bring life. I should be enjoying the life He has given me and what He has called me to do.
  14. No matter if your heart is breaking, you serve God. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
  15. My health. I have one body to accomplish the good works God has prepared for me so I need to take of my soul, body, spirit and mind.


Veteran’s Day: WWII in Pictures

One of the greatest treasures my dad left behind were his pictures he had from World War II. He served in the army during World War II. I wrote about him in a previous blog  Lessons from the Greatest Generation. I came across them again a few months back. I thought I would share some of them in honor of my dad and Veteran’s Day. He wrote on the back of many of his pictures. I wish he would have written on more of them! I hope you enjoy these pictures as much I do. It captures a piece of my dad’s life and many soldiers from WWII.


My dad is the middle guy in the top row.

My dad is the middle guy in the top row.


Written on the back of the picture "Ray and myself. These hats we have on are our oversees caps.

Written on the back of the picture “Ray and myself. These hats we have on are our oversees caps.

My dad...I think in Italy

My dad…I think in Italy

This is my favorite picture. A soldier reading a letter from home.

This is my favorite picture. A soldier reading a letter from home.

On the back my dad wrote "Close up. Taken in Venice."

On the back my dad wrote “Close up. Taken in Venice.”


"Two drunks. Jack & myself" is what my dad wrote on the back of this picture.

“Two drunks. Jack & myself” is what my dad wrote on the back of this picture.

My dad

September 10,1944 written on the back

my dad is on the left and his best friend, Ollie on the right. They talked every week on the phone until Ollie passed away 5 years before my dad.

my dad is on the left and his best friend, Ollie on the right. They talked every week on the phone until Ollie passed away 5 years before my dad.


My dad in Rome or Venice. And note the kids photobombing. :) Photobombing has always been a thing

"Note - myself milking the cow. We very seldom get fresh milk but when we run into a milk cow we help ourselves." What my dad had written on the back. You can see him milking the cow.

“Note – myself milking the cow. We very seldom get fresh milk but when we run into a milk cow we help ourselves.” What my dad had written on the back. You can see him milking the cow.

September 1944. And of course my dad had a dog.

September 1944. And of course my dad had a dog.

Gun Crew was written on the back along with every person's first and last name and where they  were from.

Gun Crew was written on the back along with every person’s first and last name and where they were from.

"German prisoners. I am sitting in the front." Written on the back.

“German prisoners. I am sitting in the front.” Written on the back.

"German Prisoners"

“German Prisoners”



My dad

My dad

I think this was in Northern Africa

I think this was in Northern Africa


My dad and Stan

The only colored picture my dad had. Probably the Alps. On the back was his dad's address...

The only colored picture my dad had. Probably the Alps. On the back was his dad’s address…


Another favorite. On the back it says "This is one of the dinkiest they have over here. They say when this train looks as big as one in the States it's time to go home."

Another favorite. On the back it says “This is one of the dinkiest they have over here. They say when this train looks as big as one in the States it’s time to go home.”

Dated September 10, 1944 "myself laying in the haystack."

Dated September 10, 1944 “myself laying in the haystack.”


Another northern Africa pic.


My dad. Never saw him smoke a pipe in my life!

My dad. Handsome. Never saw him smoke a pipe in my life! Cigarettes on the other hand ;)

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy



Cold. Alps again I believe

Cold. Alps again I believe

Personal Reflections on 9/11

9/11. This day impacts me every year. It impacts all of us. It has been 13 years since the planes were flown into the towers, the pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. It seems like yesterday that our security was ripped from us and we realized that we were not untouchable on our own soil. It seems like yesterday we lost over 3,000 of us in less than an hour. It brings me to tears every year. It is a day of reflection for me. It is the day that began the closing of one chapter of my life, preparing for the next.

I was living in Waynesboro, VA at the time on staff at a church. I had just come through a tough season. The battle had been challenging but I had overcome. But not without a cost. I was left with some war wounds…wounds that penetrated the deepest part of my soul.

The Tuesday morning of 9/11, the air was crisp and cool. The sky was pure blue, not a cloud to be seen. It was the perfect fall day. How something so evil could happen on such a beautiful day still amazes me.

I met one of my friends from the church at one of the overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway for morning prayer and coffee before work. We were sitting over looking the valley when a man came out of the camper that was parked at the overlook (which was kind of strange). He was all excited and flustered. He told us  that a plane had flown into one of the towers in New York – that something big was happening.

My friend worked at a local radio station and knew she had to get to work right away. I rushed home and turned on the TV just as flight 175 crashed into the second tower. I sat on the couch and watched in disbelief at the drama unfolding before me.


The horror of seeing people jumping from the buildings, trying to escape the fire stays with me to this day.

I remember calling my dad in Ohio and one of my sisters at work and other family members and friends. I needed to make sure everyone was ok.

I didn’t go to the office that day. As I sat on the couch that Tuesday morning and afternoon, I knew life had changed — that the world had shifted and that something had shifted inside me. I felt like this chapter in my life was coming to an end. Within a week, I resigned from the church that I dearly loved. I resigned having no idea what was next for me. I knew that I would finish up at the end of October and go home for a couple of months to re-group. After that, I had no idea.

What I didn’t realize is that I needed time to heal from the wounds of the past year. I needed time to rest after a season of incredible stress and strain. Just because you win a battle does not mean there aren’t wounds.

After being gone for 9 years, I came home. 

To the house my family had lived in since I was 4.

To my roots.

While I was re-grouping, Pastor Jim asked to meet with me. I remember sitting in the pre-school room, in chairs made for 2 year olds. It somehow seemed fitting. He asked me what I wanted to do, what my plans were. I had offers but I was tired. Bone-crushed, mind numbed, soul-drained tired. And I was enjoying spending time with Jesus because I wanted to, not because I had 3 sermons a week to prepare for.

“Sometimes God’s plan doesn’t come in writing in the sky or some emotional epiphany but it just seems right. In the book of Acts, the disciples sometimes made decisions simply because it “seemed” like the right decision. It seems right that you would come on staff here in Vermilion”

These words from Pastor Jim were water to my soul. I had had a lot of emotion over the past year. And I was tired of it. The church had a need for a Children’s Pastor and I could meet that need. I had a need for healing (though I didn’t know it at the time) and the church could meet that need. It seemed right. There was a large staff so I did not have a lot of responsibility to carry. I would have to work a job outside of the church which I desperately wanted to do. It seemed right.

9/11 brought me home.

     To be with my brother his last two years of life before he passed away from cancer.

To take care of my dad at the end of his life.

To have both of them come to know and trust in Jesus at the end of their lives.

To perform the funerals of 14 family members in an 9 year period.

To pastor my family.

To watch my nieces and nephew grow up.

To witness and be a part of an amazing work that God is doing in and through our church.

To re-awaken dreams I have had since I first trusted Jesus at the age of 15.

To be a leader in the community that I grew up in and that I love dearly and pray for daily.

To a season of personal fruitfulness.

To become friends with my sisters as adults.

To work my way out of debt (so very close).


One of my favorite books that I have read in the past year is John Piper’s Risk is Right: Better to Lose Your Life than to Waste It. In the book, he has a chapter on being more than a conqueror (from Romans 8). He says that a conqueror is someone who “strikes down his foe.” Someone who is more than a conqueror “makes his foe his slave.” (page 49) Being more than a conqueror is to use the very thing the enemy meant to defeat us with, destroy us with, and dishearten us with and turn it around to bring honor and glory to God – and hope and healing to people. 

On 9-11 our enemies tried to defeat, destroy and dishearten us. They did not succeed. Passengers stood up and took on hijackers – saving countless lives. First responders ran into the burning, collapsing building to save people. In the midst of unspeakable evil, glimpses of goodness stood in stark contrast to the evil.  Americans came together as one. We were more than conquerors. We used the very thing the enemy did to us to bring forth good.

There is an enemy of our soul that tries to defeat, destroy and dishearten us. I have a friend who just lost one of her new born twins. She could be bitter. And no one would blame her. But she has used this heartbreaking tragedy in life to bring honor and glory to God. And through it, she is bringing hope and healing to everyone she comes into contact with.

What I learned from 9/11, is that even the most awful things that happen in the world can work for good if we let it. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” The good and the bad can be woven together and work for good if we allow God to do it. 





































Help My Unbelief


In less than three weeks, I will be helping lead a team to Jamaica to do leadership training, some service projects, and outreach. In order to prepare, we have been having different team members and others write devotionals to encourage the team. This is the one I wrote today for the team. I thought it would be good to post on my blog. So here it is! :)

Matthew 28: 16 – 20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.”

I have been thinking/meditating on this Scripture quite a bit over the past week or so. I find it interesting that Matthew included the fact that “some doubted”. These “some” were the disciples. They had seen the miracles, they had seen the resurrected Christ. But some still doubted. Even though they doubted, they still obeyed and went to Galilee like that they had been instructed by Jesus. That truly is faith. Obeying even when you are doubting.

This past week I have wrestled with some doubts. As I have wrestled through them in prayer, I know that God is true and His Word is sure. And that I will obey, go to the Galilees He sends me to. I will be like the man in the Bible, “I believe, but help my unbelief..” I love the fact that Jesus truly gets me and understands how I am made. And that He works with me and is patient.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come to You, trusting that You hear me and that You are working in and through me. I pray that You will use each of us in Jamaica mightily. When doubts come in like a flood, we will give them to You and continue to obey knowing that our doubts and struggles do not make You any less powerful or any less God. We love You! In Jesus name. Amen


Lessons from the Greatest Generation

Last week I was flying home from Texas. I got to the airport a couple of hours early. While I was waiting for my flight, I happened to come upon an Honor Flight. An HonorFlight is a non-profit organization that flies World War II Vets to Washington D.C. for free to see the World War II monument. It’s amazing.

I cannot even begin to express how moving it was. They had a small ceremony for the veterans before they boarded the plane. The man who greeted them thanked them for their service and their sacrifice. He mentioned the 400,000 plus who gave their life in war. He talked about how they went off to war as boys and had to grow up within a matter of months and how they came home men. He said that they truly were the greatest generation. They closed the ceremony with everyone singing the national anthem. (I’ve included the video I took with my phone).  I was crying like a baby at that point!

As I watched the vets being honored and board the plane, I thought about the cost of war, the price they paid. They may not have lost their lives in war but it cost them.  My dad was part of the Greatest Generation. He was raised during the depression and fought in World War 2. I so wish he could have gone on an HonorFlight and seen the monument.

My dad passed away five years ago at the age of 86. At his funeral, his youngest brother told me that my dad had gone away to war a young kid and came back an old man. War changed him.

My handsome!

My dad…so handsome!

My dad began to talk more about the war towards the end of his life. My sister Nancy had the amazing opportunity to go to several of his war reunions. It was at these reunions that he reconnected with his best friend from the war, Ollie Olsen. During the last five or so years of Ollie’s life, they would call each other weekly. I remember the incredible sadness my dad experienced when Ollie passed away. The bond of war is unbreakable.

My dad is on the left, Ollie is on the right! My dad has a lot of pictures from the time he served.

My dad is on the left, Ollie is on the right! My dad has a lot of pictures from the time he served.

At one of the reunions, Ollie told my sister two stories. The first was about how Ollie and my dad had night patrol. They had to sit back to back looking opposite ways. It is where the saying “I’ve got your back” came from. They both saw Germans coming over the ridge. Ollie whispered “Do you see them?” Dad answered, “Yeah, don’t worry, I am going to mow them down if they get too close”. He was brave. He didn’t show fear.  The second story was there was a reconnaissance mission that one person needed to go on. It was a dangerous mission. No one wanted to go so they drew straws. The guy who drew the short straw was a mess. My dad volunteered to go in his place. When asked why, dad simply said, “he has a family, wife and kids. I’m single. It would be ok if anything happened to me.”

Ollie and my dad at a reunion.

Ollie and my dad at a reunion.

My dad received 4 bronze stars and a good conduct ribbon though he never got them. He was proud of his service during the War and it saddens me that he never got them. I wish we could have done that for him before he died.

photo 2

My dad’s discharge papers…4 bronze stars

photo 1

The cost of war is high. My dad struggled with alcoholism the rest of his life. He had nightmares. A couple of months before he died, he had a nightmare in which he thought he was back in the war. He thought he was in a field or a meadow and was under heavy fire. He was 86 years old at this time. His hips were full of arthritis and could only walk with the assistance of a walker, but this night he was agile and nimble as a 23-year-old. He kept saying “Where’s my gun? The Germans are coming? We got to get out of the meadow!!! Now!!!” Thank God he could not get to his guns…he thought I was a German. 64 years later and he was still on the battlefield.

My dad, as have many other soldiers, paid a steep price to protect us, to protect the world. Our family paid a price…dealing with his alcoholism through the years and all that came with that. He dealt with tremendous guilt. I remember him telling me one day when we were out to lunch at the Amvets that the men he killed had moms, dads, wives and kids at home just like he did. They were kids just like he was.

Was it worth it? Is war ever worth it? Yes! Sometimes war is necessary. I think of Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount in which He says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called Sons of God.” He doesn’t say peacekeepers, he says peacemakers. Sometimes in order to make lasting peace, real peace, you have to stand up for what is right. Evil can not go unchecked. We could not sit back and watch 6 million die simply because they were Jewish. We could not sit back while we were bombed at Pearl Harbor or as Hitler marched through Europe, taking what he wanted. We should not be quick to go to war. We should always consider the cost, the sacrifice. Because it will cost. Lives. Families. But there are times going to war is worth it. My dad knew why he was fighting.

I am proud of my dad and all those men of the Greatest Generation who fought for us. Who fought for the world. Who laid their lives down so we could be free. Ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things. For others. I do not glamorize war. I have seen the effects first hand of what it does to one who has been in battle. It is a horrible thing. The cost is high. But there are some things worth fighting for and dying for. There are still things worth sacrificing for. Jesus says “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

I read a quote this week from John McCain’s book Why Courage Matter: A Way to a Braver Life. It said,

“we should live as we wish them to live, honestly, justly, compassionately. Live it not ostentatiously but routinely, without remark.”

This describes the Greatest Generation. And this stands in stark contrast with the age we currently live.The older I get, the more I want my life to count for something greater than myself. I don’t want a comfortable life, I don’t want to live just for myself. I want to fight for people, for souls. I want to love people who don’t look like me, act like me, talk like me. I want to be brave. I want to love deeply. I want to be selfless. The example of my dad’s generation moves me.

I am incredibly thankful for the Greatest Generation. I am thankful that they rose to the occasion and sacrificed themselves for others. I want to be like them. I want to be an ordinary girl who does extra-ordinary things! I am thankful that I serve a God that can do just that…use an ordinary girl to do extra-ordinary things!


We are all hot messes!

“Wow, she’s a hot mess.”

These were the words that greeted me and my dog as we walked through the groomer’s door. At first, I didn’t know if she was talking about me or the dog…

I have had Woodstock for 5 years. She was a rescue dog from the APL. She had been severely neglected when they found her. When I got her, you could see her ribs and there were huge patches of hair missing due to poor nutrition and fleas. And she had at some point in her life had puppies. Neither the APL nor my vet know how old she is because her teeth were in such poor condition. But she is the one of the coolest, craziest looking dogs I have ever seen. She is a chow/golden retriever mix and has the sweetest temperament. She has red hair and looks kind of bohemian. My family tells me all the time she is fat. I have overcompensated through the years because of her neglect. I have made sure she is never hungry. She also hates water so I have not always made her take baths. And the two times I took her to a groomer, they did not want her to come back without anxiety medicine. She does not bite, she just becomes 100 pounds of dead weight.

This is Woodstock the day I brought her home from the APL. So skinny!

This is Woodstock the day I brought her home from the APL. So skinny!

Woodstock now

Woodstock now

I have to be to the church on Sundays at 8 a.m. Today I was struggling to get there on time…I even got up earlier. When I got to church, a good friend informed me that I had my Spanx on backwards and that she could see the size through the eyelet on the back of my dress. (For men who don’t have to worry about such things or even knows what it is…Spanx is the 21st century’s version of a girdle….yes I wear  a girdle though spanx sounds so much better :) To top things off, someone who is like a dad to me was trying to compliment me on how nice I looked said, “You look very robust today…” Look up the word robust…it’s not what a woman wants to be called. Haha! Right before the second service I was standing in the middle aisle, talking to some people…and as the screen was counting down the time until service started (we were down to 10 seconds), my necklace with a hundred different size beads broke. Everywhere. Down the center aisle. We scurried to get them all picked up before service started. I was a hot mess today.

This past week I have thought a lot about the lady’s greeting about Woodstock being a hot mess. And how many of us feel like that all the time. And for some of us that keeps us from coming to Church. From coming to God. Our personal lives our a mess. Our finances are in a disarray. We don’t know how anyone could love us especially God. And the one place people should feel welcome, the Church, they don’t.

I remember three people in my life who God used to love me right where I was…the mess that was Heidi. The first person was a lady named, Nita. She was my best friend’s mom. Their family introduced me to Christ. They met me when I was 8 years old and prayed for and loved me until I was 15 and finally came to Christ. I was rough. Not always easy to deal with. At the age of 10, I remember teaching my best friend, her daughter, a card game that my family played. The name of the game was “Screw your neighbor”. I’m sure I said a whole lot of fun stuff. She never condemned me or acted shocked, she simply suggested we name it something else…I think one of the suggestions was “fornicate your neightbor” ;) . She could have decided to “protect” her daughter from the likes of me. I was a bad influence. But she never made me feel like one.

The second person I remember was a Bible college professor. It was my sophomore year of school and I was an emotional mess. It was the time of my walk with the Lord that He began to deal with me in regards to inner healing. I had been through some stuff and done some stuff before coming to Christ. I remember the love and acceptance he showed me as I dry-heaved into a garbage can as I confessed and dealt with sin and stuff from my past.

The last person I remember (though there are many), is my current Pastor, boss, and friend…Jim Cooper. My first place in ministry was amazing but there were some rough times. My pastor (a dear friend and mentor) that I worked with at the time had a nervous breakdown and had walked away from ministry and his family. I had to step in and Senior pastor. I never had time to deal with the impact of my mentor and boss falling. I came home for a couple of months. During the second month, Pastor Jim asked me to come work with him. That was 12 years ago. I still remember sitting in the toddler room in chairs made for 3 years old, talking about what was next for me. I had other offers. But what I needed was a safe place to heal. The thing is,  I didn’t even know I needed healing. I am so grateful for the healing God has given me. And am forever grateful for Pastor Jim and taking the time to allow a hot mess to heal!

Best bosses, pastors and friends in the world!

Best bosses, pastors and friends in the world!

I write all of this to encourage those of us who call ourselves Christians…followers of Christ…to accept people where they are. And as people walk through the doors of our churches, our first thought should not be “what a hot mess she is.” Our first thought should be “Let me show you the love, forgiveness and acceptance Christ has shown me!” The world will know that we are Jesus’ by the love that we have for one another. I think I read that somewhere ;)



Life in the Broken Places

Life in the Broken Places

On my walk the other day, I noticed these flowers growing out of the broken and cracked sidewalk. God reminded me that out of the cracked and broken areas of our lives, beauty and new life can grow if we allow God to bring the healing only He can bring! So glad Jesus came to fix our broken lives.

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