Saturday, December 31, 2011

My favorite things (part 3)

Spending time with my son, Jack is (of course) a favorite thing. When he comes home from college, for a long break, we are always looking for something new and interesting to do. 

So this break, Jack and I took the four-hour road trip to a St. Louis and attended a Blues hockey game. We had "on-the-glass seats" which means the only thing between us and the hockey players was, well, plexiglass. It was exhilarating. Being so close to the ice, we felt like we were part of the game, and we could even see the facial expressions of the players. 

Once it was scary. I was looking away while two players dove for a hockey puck right in front of us. My heart stopped for a second as the two guys plowed into the glass in front of me. After I regrouped, I quickly became part of the game again and didn't look away anymore.

I don't know if I am about to become a life-long hockey fan, but for this night with my son, it was one of my favorite things.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My favorite things (part 2)

1. My husband Steve (the best guy ever)
2. Attending the Nutcracker (a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays)
3. Enjoying the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (awesome)

Hope you are enjoying a few of your favorite things this holiday season. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

My favorite things...

One of my favorite things are people. Every Tuesday morning for the past seven or eight years, I have had the pleasure to learn about Jesus while enjoying the wonderful company of these awesome women. Each year we take a Christmas photo of our gang. And every year, there are one or two new faces along with a few absent ones. Whatever the case, they all mean the world to me. My life was pretty hard the past couple of years as I took care of two very sick, aging parents. And these gals (along with many other of my favorite people), were the life raft that kept me afloat.

My favorite things: Bible study and friends. Done together, life doesn't get much better than that for me. By the way, we always have an open chair. Join us if you like.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Walking on water

In this case, it's geese, not Jesus, walking on water.

The other day, I looked out my window and saw that the geese were not swimming in the lake in my backyard. Instead, they were walking on the partially-frozen lake. (Smile with me here.) The geese made me think of Jesus--because He really did walk on water. Sometimes it's kind of fun just thinking outside of the box and looking for Jesus in, well, geese.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Countdown.. ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two....ONE. And the lights came on -- a magical moment.

It was the lighting of the mayor's Christmas tree at Crown Center in Kansas City with my nephew Max. I was excited, he was startled. But after the initial shock, we both smiled and then laughed. Sometimes it's grand to experience the unexpected and then be in awe. 

I've been thinking about God and "awe" lately. Seems like we aren't so amazed about things these days. And during the Christmas season, when we should be astounded at the superb gift that God gave us -- Jesus -- seems like we have even a harder time to be in awe. 
My problem is that I don't take the time to actually practice His presence in my life. So, for the next few weeks, I'm going to practice "awe." Here's what I'm going to do: 
  • Reflect on the fact that God gave me a perfect gift -- no need to look any farther.
  • Reflect on the fact that Jesus left his wonderful, glorious and rightful throne to be born in poverty.
  • Reflect on how big of a sacrifice God made so that I can experience His presence each day.
  • Reflect on the assurance that I have no reason to fear anything today or tomorrow because Jesus overcame the world.
  • Reflect that Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace loves me personally and individually. 
My prayer for you is that you will look to God this Christmas. You might get a little excited. You might smile. You might laugh. But hopefully you will be in awe. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My OSU buddy, Cara

(me with my friend Cara in front of my all-time favorite pizza shop -- Hideaway Pizza, Stillwater, OK)

Cara didn't start out as my OSU buddy. We first met when Cara was in 9th grade. She participated in a Bible study that I led in my home. The Bible study began as a 10-week, one-time study. But Cara and a couple of other young ladies asked me to keep it going.

I didn't realize that the 10-week study would turn into a four year wild & wonderful journey! But along the way, I had the incredible privilege to get to know Cara. She is an amazing gal and I have learned a lot from her over the years.

Now she is in college at Oklahoma State University, my alma mater. Our friendship remains strong. I try to visit her at least once a year at college. And she stops by to see me during her breaks. I love having a friend that is twenty years younger than me. She keeps me hip (or at least I'd like to think I'm hip)!

To my other friends who might be reading this blog... be sure and have a lot of girlfriends. And equally as important, have friends that vary in age, size and personality! It will keep you young, wise, fun, serious, and well-rounded.

So thanks, Cara! I never thought that seven years ago we would have such a fun and great friendship all these years later.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What I'm not thankful for...

Squirrels. Some think they are cute and furry. I think they are pesky. My landscaper, Annika, made some beautiful fall arrangements for me. Well, the squirrels ate all my gourds and pumpkins. They love the flesh of my pumpkins but dislike the seeds. So I have pumpkin seeds all over the yard. Next year, I suspect that I will be mortified and humored when a pumpkin patch begins to grow all over my yard!

And not only that, when I went to the store to replace the eaten pumpkins, guess what? The store no longer sells pumpkins past mid-November. So, my beautiful Fall/Thanksgiving pots have been reduced to a few grasses, cabbage (squirrels don't like cabbage, but who does?) and a couple of pansies.

Next year, I'm putting out ceramic pumpkins in hopes that one of the squirrels might chip a tooth!

Happy Thanksgiving to all. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

my birthday

My birthday this week was wonderful! I think everyone should have a "Celebrate Me" day at least once a year. My husband apparently gets that, as you can see in the birthday card he gave me. Why do I think everyone should take a day to celebrate themselves? Because God celebrates you. Below are a few things that the Bible says about how valuable you are to God. After you read them, I hope you will, indeed, feel a reason to celebrate.
  • When you were born, God said that you were "very good." (Genesis 1:31 "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.")
  • God rejoices over you. (Isaiah 62:5b "As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.") 
  • God knows everything about you including the number of hairs on your head and still loves you. (Jeremiah 31:3 "I have loved you with an everlasting love.")
  • God gave you the best gift ever -- His Son, Jesus, so that you can be with God forever. (Romans 3:23. 'For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
  • God thinks you are valuable. (" are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31)
So, this week -- CELEBRATE -- even if it's not your birthday. God thinks you are worth celebrating. I do too.

Tell me how you celebrate the ways God loves you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Becky & Me: Jumpstart video shoot (part 2)

"Don't talk when you drive away." That's what the videographer and the director told Becky and I when we drove away in the cute car. Problem was, I kept forgetting.

Jumpstart your relationship with God is a four-session Bible study geared to recharge your battery. We use a cool red Corvette for our theme. In the introduction video of both Jumpstart Bible studies, we drive away in the car. 

The intro video is an unscripted and unrehearsed two-minute attempt to introduce the study. It begins with Becky and me sitting and talking at a small bistro table. Then, we are supposed to walk to the car, get in, wave, and drive off -- all of this is to be done with no talking. 

But for some reason, I seem to forget. And what should be the quickest and easiest part of the video shoot turns out to require the most "takes." Now I have a bad reputation for being a Chatty-Cathy!

In January  we plan to videotape our third in the Jumpstart series. I PROMISE... there will be no talking--at least for the final take. (We'll see if I can keep that promise!)

P.S. If you're looking for a short Bible study to do at home or with friends, be sure to check out the free Jumpstart resources available on our website.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tom Sawyer ballet at the Kauffman Center

It wasn't opening night, but it was the first ballet performance at the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts . It was amazing--the Center is beautiful. The ballet performance of Tom Sawyer was entertaining. But the best  part of the evening was that I had the opportunity to experience it with my niece, Colby, who is my brother's youngest daughter. Although I love having a son, I sometimes miss the chance to do "stuff" with girls.

So it was great that Colby, who is in college, was on fall break. With my husband Steve out of town, it was a perfect chance to do girl stuff all weekend. And we did. We dined out, attended the ballet, and shopped the Holiday Mart. Girl, it was fun! Colby is one of the easiest going people I know and she is so fun to be around.

When I hang around with Colby, there are several things she always makes me remember about life:
1. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow -- and that's really okay.
2. People do matter.
3. Neat, clean and organized are good things.
4. Quality time is a must.
5. Dr. Pepper is the best!

Friday, October 21, 2011

My (very cool) landscaper

Annika is in charge of my fall and winter pots. She does a beautiful job. Yesterday, she was over to replace the exhausted summer plants with perky fall plants -- a happy day indeed.

I stepped out on the patio to visit with Annika, and she asked me what exactly do I do with More Than You Imagine Ministries. I told her that our ministry mostly encourages women to live out their faith every day, not just on Sundays.

As we were talking, I discovered that Annika does just that -- lives out her faith every day. Here's how: She and her sisters and mother have each chosen a day of the week to send an email to each other. For example, Annika has Mondays. She sends the other three an email of encouragement, a verse, a thought about life, whatever she wants to share that day about her faith journey. Then on Tuesday, her mom sends an email. (Annika said that her mom is amazing and almost always sends a verse or something really inspirational).

I love this idea!. Annika has found a wonderful way to live out her faith every day; while doing it with those she holds dear. What ways do you find to do the same each day?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jumpstart video shoot

Last week, More Than You Imagine Ministries made its second Jumpstart Bible study video, planned for launch in January 2012. This was totally made possible by two Michelles: Michelle L, videographer, and Michelle F, Women's Ministry director for Church of the Resurrection (and director of the video shoot).

Turns out that working outdoors on a video during the middle of a fall day is a bit challenging. One neighbor was having a tree stump removed -- noisy. Another neighbor was having three trees replaced -- less noisy, but the workers talked really loud. And, we had to work around barking neighborhood dogs, scurrying squirrels, and Archie, my cat, climbing all around the set. Somewhere along the way, we prayed and the Holy Spirit took over the day. We were grateful.

What I learned from this video shoot:
  • Let the experts do their jobs (Michelle and Michelle)
  • Prayer does not replace practice (I spent many hours memorizing the talk)
  • Prayer does replace perfectionism
  • A video shoot has some stress, but is mostly fun
  • Work is always more fun with friends - Becky, Kathy, Michelle and Michelle
P.S. Video and study materials for the first Jumpstart study are available on the More Than You Imagine website for free! You can do the study in your own home with friends or family. Be sure to let me know what you think.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Sunsets are something you can depend on

    "And God said, "Let there be light."and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He sperated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness He called "night." Genesis 1:3-5a

    Sunsets. They happen every day--you can be sure of it. God created the sun, and it rises every morning and sets every day.

    I love that God created something that I can absolutely depend on! There has never been a day where the sun didn't rise or set. I can go to the bank on that. 

    So today, whatever you are facing, you can know this... God IS dependable. Sometimes He may not respond as clearly as the sunrise and the sunset. But He has provided them to remind you that He will never fail you. Depend on Him today--because you can.

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    My friend Betty

    Several years ago, I had the good fortune to meet Betty. She is one of the "more-wonderful" people I know -- never unkind and always looks to the bright side of life. Betty is one of those people that makes you feel better about yourself just by hanging around her. What I love about Betty is that she lives her life in a way that honors the Lord, and therefore, honors others. I want to be more like Betty.

    The other day, I stopped by Betty's office. If you look around, it won't take long to learn where Betty gets her inspiration. She has Psalm 23 taped to the wall above her computer. Next to her computer rest two old books. I asked Betty what those books were. She told me, "One is the New Testament. The other is a book on thanksgiving and praise." She commented that the content in these two books have the ability to carry her through any situation that may happen in a day.

    What's in your workspace? Is it inspirational? Helpful? When others look at your desk or kitchen, do they see Jesus somehow? This week, be like Betty. Put a small Bible or devotional book where it is readily available -- and then use it.

    P.S.I would love to hear what kinds of tools you use to help you throughout your day! And did you know that you can read the Bible online, or on your phone? Check it out!

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    The beach, kids and Nilla Wafers

    Julie Jack & Ashley at beach

    I can’t remember the last time I ate a Nilla Wafer. But this summer, we were visiting the beach and I had one. And guess what? Nilla Wafers are good! I’d forgotten that. I don’t know, but maybe it was just the fact that we were at the beach that made them seem so tasty.

    My family regularly visits Destin, Florida, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. I’m not just saying that--the travel magazines will confirm. Anyway, I was there with my niece, my son and his friend, all over the age of twenty.

    Some might think that going to the beach is only fun when you can build sandcastles with little kids. Not true!. I've been taking my son to Destin since he was six weeks old and can honestly say that it was as much fun going with a big kid as it was going with a little one. Maybe even more fun! I didn’t have to run up to the condo for bathroom breaks, clean sandy hands with wipes, and worry about sunscreen. It was actually most enjoyable.

    I watched other younger mothers worrying about UV rays, jellyfish, and waves. Not me. I sat in my lounge chair and carried on a grown-up conversation about the next American Idol, the Royal Wedding, and the NBA playoffs. It was grand. Nilla Wafers in hand, at the beach, with my grown-up kid. Life is good.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Hope in a house

    H of H Auction

    My friend Marilyn founded House of Hope in Kansas City, a residential treatment program for hurting teens. Last week my husband and I, along with eight friends, joined Marilyn for the annual Stars and Spurs Barbecue and Auction. Two young ladies shared their stories, and both received standing ovations. It's amazing to know that this is a place that's truly making a difference in the lives of teenage girls.

    Here are some facts about teenagers I learned recently via the House of Hope website:
    • Fifty percent of high school seniors report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days
    • Seven in 10 girls have sex before age 14
    • The average age for a teen to start smoking is 12 1/2 years
    • Suicide is the third leading cause of death of young people ages 15-24
    • In the U.S., it's estimated that one in every 200 girls between 13 and 19 years old cut themselves regularly
    Thankfully, when a concerned parent is willing to do something about their rebellious teenage daughter, there is a place in Kansas City that can help. Check your community to see if you have a House of Hope. If you do, get involved!

    P.S. Are you wondering what we purchased at the auction? My husband proudly bid on and won four tickets to Sporting KC (our local soccer team) as well as six car washes and eight barbecue sandwiches. I bid on and won a dozen roses. And our friends Becky and Doug purchased the centerpiece from our table and gave it to me!

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Carly's Wedding

    Carly and Susan

    I just returned from my niece Carly’s wedding. What a celebratory time! Carly is twenty-two years old and I have been praying for her since she was born. And even though I didn’t know his name, I have also been praying for her new husband, Adam, for the past twenty-two years. My prayer was that God would bring to Carly His best choice for her. So for me, the greatest part of Carly’s wedding was to see how perfectly God answered my prayer!

    Some of the especially happy things from the wedding:

    • dancing with my husband ( a slow dance and a fast dance)
    • holding baby Max and feeding him green beans during dinner
    • eating cake!
    • participating in the “girl’s dance” with Mary, Linda, Julie, Carly, Colby & Sherri
    • seeing Aunt Betty and cousin Carol

    Sunday, September 18, 2011


    New shoes

    The other day I was in a store where I regularly shop, and they were having a sale. I was looking for a new top because I had just purchased some shoes and didn’t really have anything to wear with them. Rummaging through the sales rack, I came across a perfect blouse. Even though it was on sale, it was still a little pricey. However, I reasoned, “If I don’t get it, I won’t have anything to wear with the new shoes.” I tried it on. It was very cute. When I handed the blouse to the sales clerk, she commented how cute it was, which confirmed that I had made the right decision. But what happened next is every girl’s dream. When the clerk scanned the ticket, it rang up as half-off the sale price! Not only was my new blouse cute, it was a bargain. It was better than I had imagined. 

    I don’t believe God works in terms of blouses and shoes, but He does love to do things for us that are better than we imagine. Ephesians 3:20 says just that. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” This is one of God’s promises for our lives -- when we dream big Kingdom dreams, God is prepared to do more than we can imagine on our own. In this verse, God isn’t promising great wealth, comfort or security. What He is promising is that a life with Him can be better than anything we ever imagined or dreamed. Why? God’s love for us is so great that He wants to be with us always and forever. He does that by taking up residence in hearts. The Bible says that Jesus, who is God, dwells in our hearts through the power of His Spirit living in us. God living in us is a privilege that is more than any of us could have ever imagined. 

    So the next time you feel a little down about yourself, remember, God loves you so much He wants to take up residence in your heart. Or whenever you are unsure about taking a risk for God, know that He not only wants you to go for it, He wants to be the immeasurably-more power behind it. God is asking you to make God-sized dreams for your life. Your job is to imagine.