Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I am not a martyr. I mean, sometimes, I like to think that I am...a martyr, that is...but really and truly? Ummm, nope.

I once worked for a company that requires employees to be available to work on Sundays. When I applied for the job, I clearly communicated that I would not work on Sundays. Well, they hired me anyway - I guess they really needed workers! About a month into my employment with this company, my manager asked if I would like to train for a position that would involve a promotion and a pay raise. I accepted the offer. About a month into my "career," the company also scheduled me to work on a Sunday.

I approached my manager and explained that I would not be available to work the scheduled shift. My manager communicated her frustration with me, then assured me she would take care of the scheduling problem. My promotion training stopped that very same week, and it was explained to me that if I would not work on Sundays, then I should not ever expect any promotions within that company.

Now, I would like to call that persecution. I would like to say that I was a martyr. But that would most certainly be over-stating the case. No, I was not being persecuted - I was simply experiencing life in the world of 24/7 retail. My manager had no malevolent intent toward me. She wasn't hating on me for refusing to work on Sundays. Basically, we two simply had different opinions and different responsibilities and, in this particular situation, our personal priorities did not compliment one another.

I recall another situation when I worked with a team of writers, one of whom had very strong opinions and who demonstrated very little tact or grace. Sometimes, Bob and I would go round and round over a particular project. He would become rude and recalcitrant, even to the point of making disparaging remarks about me or about the other writers. Working with Bob felt like bull wrestling, and it often left me emotionally bruised and limping.

I would like to call that persecution. To say that I was a martyr. But that would be dishonest. That wasn't persecution - that was simply dealing with Bob's difficult personality, living alongside another fallen human being.

Someone has a very different opinion from mine about how things should be done. Someone questions my actions or my motives. Someone ignores my input or devalues my labor. Someone "blows up" on me and starts throwing emotional punches. Someone is critical, maybe even downright vicious. Someone just won't leave me alone and let me do things my way.

I want to call that persecution. To say that I am a martyr. Over at merriam-webster.com, the second definition given for "martyr" is:  "a person who pretends to suffer or who exaggerates suffering in order to get praise or sympathy." Okay, by that definition, maybe I am a martyr. But folks, that is not real martyrdom - that is pretend martyrdom. That is me feeling sorry for myself in the daily mess that comes with life in a fallen world. That is me trying to milk sympathy from those around me.

The first definition for "martyr" reads:  "a person who is killed or who suffers greatly for a religion, cause, etc." My frustrated opportunities, my emotional aggravation, my disappointment, the differences of opinion and the unpleasant friction that make life uncomfortable, even painful...these do not equate to "suffering greatly," although I may try to convince myself or others to believe differently.

I can testify that it is wickedly easy to stand sulking in my little corner of the schoolyard, whining about how rough it is out on the playground. But life is so much richer - more vigorous, more rewarding, and, yes, more enjoyable -  when I let go of my preoccupation with my own skinned knees and bruised shins and get out there in the game.

No, I am not a martyr. All of those guys are way over there on the far side of the field. They are not sulking  here in the shadows - they've run plumb out into the sun.

Monday, April 27, 2015


I have a spoon rest on my stove that was given to me many years ago by my sweet friend Linda. It was an inexpensive trinket from Dollar Tree, an I'm-thinking-of-you Christmas party favor. But I don't use it just at Christmas time. My favorite colors are red and green, so the "Christmas" spoon rest fits right in with my kitchen color scheme all year 'round.

I use the spoon rest every single day. And every time I use it, I think of Linda. I think of all the ways she has encouraged and blessed me over the years, and of how very grateful I am for the privilege of knowing her. I'm pretty sure Linda had no idea of the great value of her gift, when she handed out Dollar Tree spoon rests at that Christmas party many years ago:  the spoon rest is precious, not because it cost a lot of money, but because it reminds me every day of Linda and of God's goodness and faithfulness.

Beautiful things are beginning to bloom in the yard around the house. My very favorite plant is a Sweet-Breath-of-Spring that was given to me by my friend Donna. It has grown from a little 6-inch whip into a ginormous bush. I love this shrub because it blooms in the dead of winter, when everything else in the yard is dead a gray. Just when I'm thinking winter will never end, I walk outside and am bathed in the scent of honeysuckle. I love this bush because it reminds me, during the cold, dark days of winter, that spring is not far off - and I love it because it makes me think of Donna. Donna is kind of like the Sweet-Breath-of-Spring...she has a way of giving encouragement and hope when I am feeling particularly weary and discouraged.

Almost every plant in our yard is a "freebie" shared by someone special. The daylilies that Nate dug up out of a road-side gully when he was a small boy. The hydrangeas and blackberry lilies, also from Donna. The daffodils from Mom. The gladiolas - Helen's special project. Elmer (our lone maple tree) and the cedar Baby trees, hauled up from back on Granddaddy Kendall's farm.

The many irises around the house are from my sister Suzanne. These ruffly rose-colored irises are the first to bloom, but the yellow and blue and midnight purple irises are covered with buds that will be opening soon.

I love getting out to work in the yard this time of year - not only because it feels so good to be out in the sunshine and fresh air after the long winter months, but because I feel like I am surrounded by such a great company of friends.

Small gifts - a spoon rest, a couple of flower bulbs, a tiny switch cut from a bush.

Small gifts - big love - lasting value.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


...[Jesus] said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat...And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" - from Mark 4:35-41

A couple of things in this passage jumped out at me in a new way this week...

"Let us go across to the other side." Jesus initiated this boat ride. The disciples would probably not have found themselves in a floundering boat in the middle of a storm-tossed sea if Jesus himself had not taken them there. They would have been safe on shore instead. Jesus's disciples were not in this storm by accident - Jesus took them into it.

"Let us go across to the other side." The storm itself was not their ultimate destination. Jesus took them into the storm. Then He took them through the storm. Then He took them to the other side. The other side - that place Jesus wanted them to be; a place they could not have reached if they had not gotten into the boat and gone into the storm.

"Let us go across to the other side." This is NOT:  sometimes terrible things just happen, for whatever reason, but it's all going to be okay because Jesus is with me and He will keep me safe and will calm the storms in my life. No, this is:  Jesus is going to take me into terrible situations - deliberately - because He has something to teach me. I am not a victim of capricious circumstances.

"...the waves were breaking into the boat..." - and the disciples were afraid. They were looking at the terrible situation that threatened to overwhelm them, and they were afraid.

"...there was a great calm..." - and the disciples were very afraid. The disciples realized they were dealing with something - someone - even more dangerous than a stormy sea.

I want to find comfort in the hope that when my life is "stormy," Jesus will "calm the sea." Big waves are scary. If the sea is calm, I am safe. At least I feel safe. Smooth sea = safe; choppy sea = not safe. That is a lie, and it is not living by faith. If I am looking at the water - at the circumstances - whether the water is stormy or calm, whether the circumstances are painful or pleasant - if I am looking at what is going on outside the boat, out there in the sea of my life, I AM LOOKING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. And I am basing my security and my peace on the wrong thing. I am wrongly preoccupied with weather conditions and shipping reports.

The point isn't:  what's going on outside the boat.

The point is:  what's going on inside the boat. And more importantly, WHO is in the boat, and WHOSE idea was this boat ride in the first place?

When I stop staring at the crashing waves in panicked hysteria and look instead at the One who said, "Let us go across to the other side..." -

I will at once feel both more terrified and more safe than I have ever felt before.

Jesus, give me faith to get into the boat. Once I'm in the boat, Jesus, give me faith to fix my eyes on You, so that I care not whether the sea is stormy or calm, but I live each moment celebrating this great truth instead:  I am with my Savior!

Friday, April 17, 2015


Click HERE to purchase.
I am super excited to announce the release of
Wish You Were Here: Letters From the Foot of the Cross.

Some people seem to have it all together:  perfect bodies, perfect homes, perfect lives. I am not one of those people. I can "accidentally" eat an entire bag of Riesen chocolates in one sitting, and I occasionally forget laundry in the washing machine until it grows legs. Sometimes, I feel like Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" should be the theme song of my life.

But the truth is, whether you look like you have everything together or not, life is messy. And it is hard. If you are struggling in the trenches with muck up to your eyeballs, Welcome! I have mud on my boots, too.

Wish You Were Here:  Letters From the Foot of the Cross explores the practical implications of the gospel for the nitty-gritty business of life. From fender benders to mashed potatoes and gravy, this compilation of posts from The Hurricane Report relates how Christ provides grace, strength, and joy for each day.

Pour a cup of coffee and take a moment to read a letter from a friend - I think you will be encouraged!

Wish You Were Here is available at Amazon.com - click HERE for paperback; for Kindle, click HERE!

Monday, April 13, 2015


Another repost...I am so thankful for the great comfort that is wrapped up in the promises of Glory!

- originally posted Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The mother of a dear friend died recently, and I was blessed to attend this woman's funeral. Blessed, because it is always a blessing to be gathered with the saints, even in times of grief and mourning. Blessed, because even in the face of loss, it is so good to be reminded of the riches we possess eternally in Christ.

The young man who preached the service made this statement during his sermon: "The more glimpses we have of Christ in this life, the more we long to see Him face-to-face in Glory." I looked around at those gathered in the sanctuary and saw so very many "glimpses" of Christ, reflected in the faces of His precious sons and daughters. And yes, seeing those glimpses of Christ did make me long all the more to see my Saviour in Glory. The reflection of Christ radiating in believers is beautiful - how much more beautiful must be the true source and substance of that radiance!

Steve has said before that I have a weird way of looking at funerals. They are sad times of tears and brokenness, certainly. But funerals are bittersweet for believers, because the sorrow is tinged with an inexpressible joy and a heart-rending longing. Death for Christians is the crossing over. The worm, on this side, has retreated into its cocoon. But, beyond earthly view, the butterfly emerges from its chrysalis into the radiant beauty of heaven, into the presence of Jesus. We call it death. I wonder if the angels in Glory call it a birthday.

At Saturday's funeral, I was reminded of a favorite poem by the 19th-century poet Christina Rossetti. Does this not make you long to see your Beloved in Glory?!

by Christina Rossetti

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a watered shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Okay, one last post to wrap up the 30 Days of Dominion Challenge...Did the challenge make a significant difference in the cleanliness/orderliness of my house? Have the results been lasting, or did they disappear faster than yesterday's lunch? Is this challenge something I am likely to repeat? Any more tips I want to pass along?

First off, yes, I feel like tackling one project a day for an entire month did make a noticeable difference in the cleanliness of our house. If you were unfamiliar with what things looked like "Before," however, you might walk in today and have a hard time seeing the results. Our "After" bookshelves are still pretty packed, and a few piles of items are stacked by the front door, waiting to go to new homes. I actually worked on a sewing project this week - at the sewing counter! - and it was wonderful. First time in years that I've been able to sit down at the sewing counter and actually sew. Scissors, tape measure, thread, pins - everything was conveniently located and easily accessible. I. LOVED. IT.

Second, yes, the results have been lasting. Well, they've lasted a month, and, honestly, I was kind of afraid all my hard work would disappear in a pouf of smoke the minute I turned my back. I carried a stack of towels upstairs to put them in the kids' bathroom closet yesterday. I haven't looked in that closet since the day I overhauled it during the 30-Day challenge. I was thrilled when I opened the door and found everything still neatly organized! Apparently, having an orderly bathroom closet has inspired the folks upstairs to put things away neatly. And I can STILL walk into my bedroom closet. I don't really expect these results to last forever - all things tend toward chaos - but I am glad to find that things stay neater longer than I anticipated.

Is this something I am likely to repeat? Yes. Actually, I probably need to repeat this challenge about four times in a row, just to get the house clean enough so that it requires basic maintenance instead of major over-hauling. I still see a MOUNTAIN of work that needs to be done. However, I don't think I have the stamina to do the 30-Day challenge back-to-back-to-back like that - life is just too busy! So, I have adopted a modified strategy for the near future: tackling one or two projects each week, in addition to maintaining the areas that have already been over-hauled. We'll see how that goes!

Any more tips? If you take on a challenge like this and you miss a day, don't let that demotivate you. Let it go. Just jump back in when you can and tackle the next thing on your list. When I wiped out for a couple of days, I realized that the 30-Day Challenge didn't have to be 30 consecutive days - it was my cleaning plan, so I could change the rules if I wanted! Also, I highly recommend documenting your progress with Before and After pictures. These are so motivating, especially when a lot of the work is in closets or cupboards, where you can't see it. Doing this along with someone else if kind of fun, too. When Merry began posting about her "40 Bags in 40 Days" challenge, she had no idea how her progress would motivate and encourage me. Seeing Merry's progress every day kept me excited about sticking with my own challenge.

If you are doing some serious spring cleaning and you live in Obion County, you need to check out the Obion County Recycling Center. The Recycling Center is located at 1003 Mount Zion Road in Union City, TN - this is across the road from the health department, and just behind the John Deere dealership. The center accepts paper, plastic, cardboard, etc. The center also takes batteries, used vehicle fluids (oil, transmission fluid, etc.), batteries, electronics (how many dead computers are in your attic?!), and high-efficiency light bulbs. Call to verify hours of operation before you head to town with a van load of stuff:  their number is (731)885-8109.

If you are cleaning out bathroom closets or medicine cabinets, what do you do with all those outdated prescription medicines? The Union City Police Department, located at 408 South Depot Street (right next to Kiwanis Park), has a collection bin for medicine that you need to dispose of - just walk in the side entrance and drop them in the big blue box right inside the door.

Finally, I want to say a big THANK YOU to Merry Brown for sharing her own cleaning challenge and for giving me the idea for the 30 Days of Dominion in the first place. Unbeknownst to Merry, she kept me motivated! When you finish excavating the bathroom closet, you should check out the Merry Brown, Author Facebook page HERE. Thanks, Merry!

Thursday, April 9, 2015


This is a repost from several years ago. Joyce just took another big chunk of my heart home, and the part left here is grieving...

July 22, 2008

When I was only two years old, my parents moved our family into a beautiful one-hundred-year-old farmhouse that they had purchased from the estate of a great uncle and then modernized. That house - and the farm surrounding it - would be my home until I married and moved away, nearly eighteen years later. My siblings and I learned every nook and cranny of that piece of property over the years, and it became, in the truest sense of the word, home. My cousins lived on the adjacent farm, just a ten-minute walk over a wooded ridge. A twenty-minute hike through cow pastures and hay fields got me to my grandparents' house. I started first grade and graduated from high school in the same school system, with pretty much the same classmates for the entire twelve years. I learned to read, got my driver's license, and married my husband, all within an eight mile radius.

Steve began active duty in the US Marine Corps two months after we married, and so began my relationship with moving companies and U-Haul trucks. We bounced from coast to coast to coast, setting up a temporary base of operations in each new location. Each move meant starting life all over again - new church, new friends, new house, new streets, new stores, - and it seemed like about the time we would start to feel like we were finally settling in, a new assignment gave orders to pack everything up and do it all over again.

Now, after twenty-plus years of marriage and over a dozen moves, Steve and I are back in Obion County, just a few miles from the very house I lived in as a child. My parents and siblings and cousins and grandparents no longer live here, but the fields and woodlands still seem very much like home. The roads just "feel right" out here when I have to drive somewhere - even when I take a wrong turn, I never feel really lost, but instead have a comfortable sense of being "almost there." The faces I see when I go grocery shopping look familiar and friendly, and it's not unusual for me to run into someone who has a story to tell about my granddad or who wants to know how my parents are doing.

Yes, I am finally back home. But I find that "home" has changed. Although my feet are now planted on familiar soil, it seems I have left bits and pieces of my heart scattered all across the country. "Home" is Katherine's kitchen, two hours away, and sharing a breakfast of steaming oatmeal and strong, black coffee. "Home" is a ballpark in another county, watching a church-league softball game while I catch up on the news with Jenny and my friend Nancy. "Home" is Carol's recipe for chocolate lava cake and the four o'clocks, planted from her seeds, growing around my porch. "Home" is so many people, so many memories, so many places.

And some of these friends have done the most outrageous thing - they have taken slivers of my heart clean out of this world. Hebrews 12:1 says that we are surrounded by "a great cloud of witnesses." Years ago, when I read that passage, I would picture in my mind a great throng of vague, faceless saints - a Paul, a Peter, maybe Job or David, whatever they looked like. But now, when I read that passage, I distinctly see Mary Ann and Alice, my precious friend Carol, my neighbor Bill, and so many other very real people who have laid a small or large claim on my heart by showing me something of the loveliness of Christ while they walked on this earth. Matthew 6:21 says that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. Each year that passes seems to find more of my treasure, and more of my heart, not in this world but in the next. It's as if God is taking little pieces of my heart and moving them to the other shore, slowly prying my affections from this world and shifting them into the next.

I currently live in a beautiful place - my childhood home - surrounded by rolling hills, lush green fields, and woodlands thick with ancient trees. It is a good place, and I can be content to finish out my days in this place, if God so wills. But, I find this is no longer home, in the truest sense of the word. More and more, my heart longs for my eternal home, to live beyond the constraints of time in the presence of my heavenly Father, my beloved brother Jesus, and my sisters and brothers in Christ.

The Sunday after Carol's funeral, a friend asked me how I was doing. "Okay," I squeaked, my chest tightening under a fresh wave of grief. I blinked back tears, forced a smile, and nodded silently that I was fine, if emotionally weary. After a short pause, my friend looked me in the eyes and gently queried, "You are jealous, aren't you?" All pretense of composure vanished as the dam broke and I scrambled to find a tissue. Jealous? Maybe a little. Jealous? No, not really jealous . . . homesick.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Hey, Lady! It's that time again! On Saturday, April 18th, we will be celebrating the second annual Ladies' Day in Troy. The event has moved from the town square to the commons area at Obion County Central High School, so we have plenty of parking and vendor space and we don't have to worry about weather!

Ladies' Day 2015 is going to be even bigger and better than last year's event, with over 40 vendors, speakers, a fitness demo, fashion shows, special music, delicious food, and lots of door prizes. Admission is free, so grab your girlfriends and head over for a fun-filled day of celebrating the ways women make our town and our county great!

I will be there enjoying the festivities, and I would love for you to visit my book table. You can purchase an autographed copy of my newest book - Wish You Were Here:  Letters From the Foot of the Cross - or just stop by to say "Hi!"

The fun starts at 10:00 a.m. and runs until 2:00 p.m. Obion County Central High School is located at 528 U.S. 51 North in Troy, Tennessee. Pull around back for plenty of parking - signs will direct you to the event!

For more info, check out the Ladies' Day in Troy Facebook page HERE.

I hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 2, 2015


I can't believe I haven't been on the blog in over two weeks. Well, actually, yes, I can believe it. Between music recitals and taking the cat to the vet and trying to clean at least some small part of my house EVERY SINGLE DAY (whose crazy idea was this 30 Day Challenge?!) and planting trees and working hard on Book #3, I simply have not had time to play - which is what writing here at the blog is for me. The Hurricane Report is the treat I give myself when I've been a good girl and put in a full day's work. Lately, though, the days have been TOO full.

Today is going to be full and crazy busy, too, but I decided that I need to take a play break anyway, whether I get everything done on my list or not. (We may be having pizza for supper tonight, guys.)

So, what shall I write about today...?

First, how about an update on the Just One Egg weight loss program:  I told you I would check back in after the holidays, and we are definitely past Thanksgiving and Christmas now. This has been a s-l-o-w, drawn out, very gradual effort. I have had good days and bad days. (I really need for Helen to swear that she will never again make her fabulous wedding cake cupcakes. Ever.) Still, after five months, I am SUPER THRILLED to announce that I have lost right at 20 pounds!!!! If you do the math, that is an average of less than a pound a week - hard to stay committed and motivated when the results are so slow in coming. But, all in all, I think we can count the One Egg weight loss program a success.


Helen and I were at a local outlet store last week, and they had new swimsuits on the display racks. Since I am significantly smaller than last summer, I decided I probably should check out the new swimsuits. This is probably the first time in fifteen years that I've had the opportunity to reasonably expect to need a smaller size. Shopping for a swimsuit after losing a little weight should be fun, right?


For a couple of reasons.

First, when you are 50-something, and you have over the course of your life given birth to seven children (one of whom weighed 10+ pounds), and you have just lost a significant amount of weight....how to put this delicately, hmmm....everything sags. Everything. So, while that cute bathing suit with the white polka dots might inspire thoughts of looking all trim and perky at the pool this summer, your fantasy will disappear in a puff of smoke when you step into the dressing room and begin to tuck all your lose folds and droopy bits into said bathing suit. The effect is something kind of like rice in a pair of pantyhose. Nothing perky happening there!

And if that slap of reality wasn't enough of a downer, I discovered that I had blue legs. You know, blue, splotchy skin, like special effects make-up for a Zombie movie. Or like I was Morticia's long-lost great aunt. The realization that my legs were now officially and undeniably "old lady legs" was more than I could take. I dressed and skulked out of the changing room. NO MORE TRYING ON BATHING SUITS FOR ME.

The good news is....

Even though the package is a bit saggy, I am still super excited that the number on the bathroom scale has dropped. Loose skin is not going to ruin that party!

And my legs, well...

That evening when I was showering before bed, I noticed that the soap foam running into the drain was a light shade of blue. That's odd, I thought. It didn't take long to figure out that my "blue legs" were caused by the blue dye from the pair of jeans I had been wearing that day. Yes, my legs were still blotchy, but at least they were not blue. I was greatly comforted.

Still, I don't plan on shopping for a bathing suit again any time soon. It's going to take me a while to recover from the trauma of that last shopping trip.