Meg’s Encouraging Word at John Diehl’s Memorial Service

I went to John Diehl’s memorial service on Saturday.  A highly-respected man of God.  Father of five.  Husband to Meg.  All week, my thoughts have turned to Meg, JR, Scott, Henry, Sarah and Grace.  I try to imagine what it’s like to wake up one morning to life as usual, then to have one’s world turned upside down a few hours later. When Meg’s kids were younger, I spent regular time with her. With five children and the demands of University-Model® schooling, she was stretched very thin back then.  It was in that season, however, that she learned of Graham Cooke who pointed her to God’s relentless love for her, and she began to experience God’s peace and rest in a revitalizing way. As Meg spoke to the very large crowd who had gathered at the service, she exuded peace and joy even as she spoke of the death of her beloved husband.   Arriving home from the memorial service, I went right to a link she had provided in the memorial program, which read: Where Meg is Rooted:  Graham Cooke’s The Nature of God. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pVyFCoKGBM&t=811s Thank you Meg!  I needed to hear this again! There is no such thing as a good day or a bad day.  Only days of grace.  Some days we enjoy what the day holds.  Other days we must simply endure.  But in each day, we can enjoy the grace that God is present in it. Meg spoke with such peace because she is at peace even as she deals with the death of her dear husband.  It’s still a day of grace for her. And...

A Firm Foundation

A close family friend came by a few days ago, with her 9-year old son and asked if I could speak to him. “Ellen, I don’t even know what to do with Caleb (name changed). He argues about everything and taunts his siblings all day long. Last night he tried to cheat when we were playing a family board game and then lied about it. What is going on with him?” I had no idea how to respond to this distraught mom, a friend I knew so well. She and her husband set high standards for their four children and held them accountable for their actions. They prayed with their kids and taught them Biblical truths. I believed that Caleb wanted to please his parents and be a positive role model for his siblings.  I knew he held great aspirations in his heart. Yet, from the sounds of things, little in his recent behavior indicated these desires. As I silently prayed, the Holy Spirit moved my thoughts in a different direction. Kids like Caleb, who are being raised in devoted Christian homes, likely know the basics of faith. But knowing does not necessarily equate to understanding or application to their daily lives. I asked Caleb if he would be willing to sit down with me and chat. Having had many honest conversations with this young boy, I didn’t mince words and got right to it.  “I understand you have been behaving poorly with your family recently.”  Caleb nodded in agreement. “How does that make you feel?” I asked him. “Bad,” he whispered. “What do you think you need to do...

Vision

God speaks to His people. He guides and plants vision into our hearts that inspires and moves us down certain paths. School Vision Veritas Academy has always been shaped by individuals who have been led by God-inspired vision.  I still remember many late-night board meetings back in the fall of 2005 when Veritas Academy first opened doors.  At one meeting, Jef Fowler spoke of seeing us on land – land with running streams and lots of trees.  Hills and rocks. Space for kids to enjoy the outdoors. Something stirred in me that evening.  I could envision what Jef was describing as well. For years, Jef diligently searched for such a school location.  Soon this dream will be a reality. I am confident that God has plans for Veritas Academy on our land that we are not even aware of yet. He has established our steps and He will not only bring the buildings to completion but all that He has in mind for us as well. Family Vision This past week, it became official that my grandkids, Asa and Alma, will be joining their sister and cousins at Veritas Academy in the fall. “How crazy is it,” I told my husband, “that ten of our grandchildren will attend Veritas together- and hopefully Beth will join them in the future as well.”  Veritas Academy, in so many ways, helps to fulfill dreams I held in my heart long ago.  Even as a child, I dreamed of being a mother to three children and doing life together with them.  I dreamed of unity and nurturing relationships, perhaps in part because these...

What a Year!

Last May, my life took on a whole new feel.  Not only did we move my mom in to live with us, but I learned of two pending book contracts:  one with my daughter Erin and one with my husband.  How exciting it felt to be extended the opportunity to write for publishing companies along side Erin and Glen. But the timing felt overwhelming and I found myself thinking, “This is great news but I won’t have any time to write now that I am taking care of my mom.” As many of you know, I struggled with all sorts of emotions this past year.  But as I look back, I do so with a sense of joy and even accomplishment.  I am so grateful for prayers and the many notes of support many of you sent my way. Just yesterday, a very dear friend send me an excerpt from May 10th in Jesus Calling: “DO NOT RESIST OR RUN from the difficulties in your life. These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand-tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth. Embrace all the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them. View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on me.  When you start to feel stress, let those feelings alert you to your need for Me.” This May:  Our book – Put the Disciple into Discipline –  is about to be published. God is good. And His timing is ALWAYS right. What I could not envision a year ago was that unique insights would surface for the books merely...

The Time Has Come

The time has come. In just a few days, I will move my mom to a memory care facility.  It’s something I prayed would not have to happen. My emotions are all over the map.  One minute I feel relief to be getting some of my life back. The next minute I feel guilty for putting her into the care of strangers.  It  feels like “I give up – I can’t look after you.”  She will be hurt and angry at me. She won’t understand it.  She may even give up wanting to live. I feel joy over having cared for her well but also sorrow over those times that I lost my patience with her.  In all of it, God has graciously carried me.  He has wrapped me in His compassionate arms even when I have fallen short. This journey is filled with memories. As I take her through old photo albums, I too remember her before Alzheimer’s began to destroy her brain.  I remember her vitality and her charm.  I remember her “never give up” mindset and drive. I remember a time when she would have laid down her life for me rather than now expecting all of my life for her.  I remember when we were close. Now she needs daily reminders that I am her daughter and not merely a caregiver who prevents her from being independent and doing what she wants. I know it’s the right decision.  I love my mom and I will still spend regular time with her – but as her daughter and not her caregiver. That will be better for both...

13 Reasons

Dear Readers, I was recently made aware of the Netflix series sensation “13 Reasons Why, ”  which takes the viewer through thirteen recorded messages left behind by a teenage girl who commits suicide.  I have not watched an episode.  I did not even know this series existed.  However, I gained important insights from Kat Cannon, who watched the series, with its very mature content, with her teenage son. Below are her 13 reasons why she joined him in watching “13 Reasons Why.”  I encourage all parents, especially those of you with middle and high school age kids, to become aware of the content in this series.  If you kids are watching it, make sure to stick around and watch it with them. Thank you Kat, for sharing this important information and for being a guest blogger on my site.  I have included your full blog below.  You can find Kat at blog.katcannon.com.  She is the Director of Small Groups and Women’s Ministry at Austin Oaks Church. 13 Reasons Why I Watched “13 Reasons Why” April 26, 2017 My teenage son asked me a few weeks ago to let him watch the Netflix series sensation “13 Reasons Why”.  All his friends watch it, he says, but with a “mature content” rating, he needs my permission – and my passcode. After a quick consultation with my husband, I agree to sit down with the boy and screen the show with him. The series walks through thirteen recorded messages left behind by a high school junior girl who commits suicide.  And when the ratings police label this content for mature audiences only, they...

You Don’t Understand Me

“You don’t understand me,” my mom said as she began to cry. The words stung. I knew they held some truth in them. I want to be gentle with her – and be lovingly compassionate with her. I can do that most of the time, but then there are those times – when she begins to accuse me falsely or when she goes into a complaining mode – that I get worn down and snap at her. Rather than seeking to understand, I react to the words that spill out of her mouth. If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13 I read these words the other day and immediately knew they were meant for me. Sometimes I am too quick to answer before I hear what another person is really saying. Because of Alzheimer’s my mom struggles to retrieve words. Often what she says is not really what she means at all. Thus, I am getting lots of opportunities to practice listening to her intentions rather than her words. She may want butter and ask for cream. She’ll say her glasses are foggy when she feels dizzy. She’ll say she does not need to shower when what she is expressing is that she needs help in the process. Living with my mom grants me many opportunities to grow in listening to the meaning behind words. When I do that, my responses connect with what she really is trying to express rather than what bubbles up out of her mouth. Conflict between any individuals is best addressed by sincerely trying to...

Little Will: A Brave Mindset

My grandson, Will, fell down and hurt his head again. He has a knot the size of a lemon on the back of his head.  A large lemon. I went over to Will’s home to see how he was doing.  Each time Will falls and hurts his head, I grow anxious. I know the concern about concussions and Will has had his share.  At age 5 this little guy’s head has endured more bumps and bruises than I dare count. This time, while playing basketball with his dad, his feet flew out from under him as he raced backwards to catch a ball and he whacked his head on the pavement. Hard. The decision was made to watch him and not panic.  His parents had been through this before. But around 11 PM, they were on their way to the ER.  Will was in serious pain.  Throwing up.  His eyes were not tracking. Will does nothing halfway.  He is one of those kids who has no fear. But I saw the fear in his dad’s eyes as he carried Will out to the car. I heard the fear in his mom’s voice as she called to say they were hurriedly doing a cat scan to rule out bleeding, a life-threatening emergency. I lay awake in bed fighting fear in my own heart. The updates were frightening.  They suspected bleeding or a fracture. It turned out to be swelling of the occipital lobe due to a concussion.  (A fracture has not entirely been ruled out yet however.  It’s too hard to tell with the swelling.) Will is not cautious. He...

The Illusion of Time

We lost an hour recently due to daylight saving time. (Unless you live in Arizona or Hawaii!) This time adjustment was first implemented during war times to conserve fuel and signed into common practice under the 1966 Uniform Time Act.  As with anything else the benefits are debatable.  Some studies suggest that people have more headaches, heart attacks and even more accidents in the week after we “spring forward” in March. To be sure, losing an hour leaves me feeling a bit groggy but I think of how regularly I can lose time by simply not being wholly present in TODAY. When I am tempted to wish time away – to long for a day or a season of life to end –  I am reminded of a poem in Linda Dillow’s book, Calm My Anxious Heart.  This powerful poem was written by a 14-year-old boy: It was spring but it was summer I wanted; the warm days and the great outdoors. It was summer but it was fall I wanted; the colorful leaves and the cool dry air. It was fall but it was winter I wanted; the beautiful snow and the joy of the holiday season. It was now winter but it was spring I wanted; the warmth and the blossoming of nature. I was a child but it was adulthood I wanted; the freedom and the respect. I was twenty but it was thirty I wanted; to be mature and sophisticated. I was middle-aged but it was twenty I wanted; the youth and the free spirit. I was retired but it was middle age that I...

Laugh – It Will Change Your Perspective

When I see two-year-old Beth walking up to my house, I feel joy – partly because she is my granddaughter and partly because Beth is almost always happy. She loves to laugh. Her robust giggles bubble up freely from her belly. Why is it that we tend to laugh less when we get older?   Perhaps it’s because we grow aware of all there is to grow heavy hearted about: work and financial pressures, health concerns, the discord and violence in our world. Then there’s our kids – those little people we love with all our hearts and want the very best for. (I care just as much about what happens to my grandkids as I did their parents – only there’s now 11 of them!)  Being earnest about parenting (or grand-parenting), we consider carefully each and every decision and work diligently to help our little ones mature.  In troubling times, it’s easy to grow overly serious and let go of joy. Also, the busyness of life gets in way. Maybe we run out of time to laugh.  The old proverb “If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy”  certainly rings true for me at times.  That’s why I love to be around Beth.  She reminds me to take the time to be joyful. Here’s five reasons why we should laugh more: ONE: Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. – Victor Borge “We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.” (Author, Agnes Repplier) Laughter triggers positive feelings and fosters emotional connection.  This bond can serve as a shield against stress, arguments and disappointments. Think about how...