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...

It’s Out: Fifty Shades Darker

Parents, With the release of Fifty Shades Darker, sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, I believe it’s important that Christian educators and parents are up to speed with what our kids may be talking about or planning to watch. I choose to see neither, so I am referring you to some other sources: Here’s a good article on Crosswalk.com: Why Fifty Shades Darker Should Make Us Cry The books sold beyond the author’s wildest imagination. The plotline fueled many a lunchtime chat. The first film caused a flurry of delight among both young and old. And discussion boards are trembling with anticipation as the 2nd in the erotic trilogy prepares to hit the big screens tomorrow. There’s no doubt about it, the Fifty Shades phenomenon has made quite an impact on our society. How should Christians respond? Perhaps you feel appalled, or disgusted. Perhaps you feel tempted (Christians are by no means automatically immune to the allure of this genre—but that’s a subject for tomorrow’s blog post). Instead, I want to suggest that Fifty Shades Darker gives us reasons to cry. Read more…. Focus on the Family: Plugged in Blog: Fifty Shade of Abusive Influence “A new study out of Michigan State University (published in the Journal of Women’s Health) indicates that young women who read the bestselling bondage-and-S&M-laced story by British author E.L. James were more likely to engage in a range of risky behaviors compared to those who hadn’t read it.” Read more…. When Fifty Shades of Grey was released, my daughter wrote a thoughtful blog on her observations that is worth reading again: Erin MacPherson’s Post about...

A Personal Letter

Dear Friends, Today I offer a personal letter – and a confession of sorts – to those of you who know me and also to those of you I have never met, but take the time to read my blog. Thank you! I find myself in a somewhat dark season right now, a time when I feel like I am going nowhere and unable to accomplish much. Even writing a blog feels difficult. I find myself posting less and the blogs I do write feel hollow. My mind feels like it’s stuck in neutral and has been for over 8 months. That’s when my life took a “detour” with my 89-year-old mom moving in with us. Immediately the pace of my life slowed down. I no longer had the freedom to come and go as I pleased or to do much outside the home, except for those activities that could be done with a person in late stage Alzheimer’s. My greatest challenged morphed into how to find contentment in these circumstances –  In doing the same things all day long, day after day.  In trying to be interested in the same limited, circular conversations.  In serving my mother even in the most simplest of tasks.  In maintaining the simplest of schedules in order to accommodate her needs.  In continually having to answer the same questions.  In keeping her safe while allowing for her need to be independent. I consider myself pretty tough. Resilient. I am a Finn with SISU. I have learned how to meet major challenges and to rise up when I have fallen, but God is teaching...

The Presidental Candidates Demonstrate How NOT to Lead

 I can’t wait for this political season to be over -an ugly smear campaign, void of ethics and values.  Regardless of which candidate wins,  you and I wind up on the losing side –  we, the common parents and grandparents, who are trying our best to raise up children in a country that will be led by individuals caught up in devouring each other in order to protect and enrich themselves.   We lose because we don’t really have a valid choice.  Just in case you are wondering — I am mad.  I find no joy in my privilege to vote this election season.  I am tired of watching our candidates engage in this nonsensical contest in which honesty and fairness and morality have no place. Instead it’s a battle about who can gain control, regardless of personal integrity.  We are left to make a choice between who is the “lesser of two evils.” At least we still have a say in how to lead our own families.   Most of us have very little impact on the political state of affairs in our land.  We are merely the recipients of what our politicians determine is best on our behalf.  But we certainly can impact our own families and purpose to lead them with integrity. We can still purpose to raise our boys and girls to become men and women of integrity, morally grounded and rooted in their faith. We can still teach our kids to take the high road when this is seldom modeled for them elsewhere. We can choose the way of the Spirit rather than the way...

Finding the Gold in Ordinary Days

Taking care of my mom, who now lives with us, has certainly impacted my life — especially my freedom. Much like when I was a mom of young kids, I now must consider her needs, and provide the supervision she requires as a result of Alzheimer’s. I listen to the same stories repeatedly. Answer the same questions. Show her how to do simple things over and over and over. She sincerely desires to help – to pull her weight – yet her assistance requires that I help her help me. This can be quite exasperating, something I attempt to do without undermining her dignity. Now I must order my days around her needs and am restricted from doing what I want to do when I want to do it. (A benefit of an empty nest!) If I am honest, I fight feelings of drudgery. I remember feeling similarly when my own kids were little. They would bombard me with questions and want me to read certain stories continuously. I would show them repeatedly how to do something. Their efforts to help usually meant more work for me. While I deeply valued being at home with them, sometimes I also grew weary of the repetitive, everyday tasks. After writing a draft of this post, I picked up Utmost For His Highest, my favorite all-time devotional by Oswald Chambers and read the devotional for June 15. It starts out with the statement: “In the matter of drudgery.” That got my attention! First the Holy Spirit moved me to ponder this, and then the words of Oswald Chambers drove the point home....

Things That Matter Most

I wonder how my three kids would define the home culture they were raised in? In which ways did our home environment color the lens by which they now perceive things? What values influenced them the most? These thoughts surface especially now that my 88-year-old mom lives with us. In fact, all sorts of emotions and reflections rise up in me as I watch my mom, who struggles with Alzheimer’s disease, try to make sense of her life, amidst crumbling memories and fragmented thinking. “What’s my purpose,” she asks me. “How did I get here and what am I here for?” She longs for purpose, something she has always found in being productive! The other day, after doing yard work for over 3 hours, she sat down for a quick rest and exclaimed, “we cannot be lazy!” She is a constant source of energy and wants everything in order. Everything. A dirty dish on the counter is quickly rinsed (without soap), dried and placed out of sight – anywhere she finds room. Daily she folds and irons clothes for my children. She is in process of organizing and cleaning our garage. Weeds are picked as she passes by them. Productivity and orderliness are the highest of values to my mom. It’s where she finds her joy. She has one of the strongest work ethics I have ever come across. I am better able to understand myself, as well as my own struggle to experience rest apart from productivity, having this extended time with my mom. My mom is a product of the culture she was raised in. She grew...