Monday, April 28, 2014

Save the State with Retakes

Sad to say, I am one of "those" women who hate pictures of herself, but I have gotten better over the years. About five years ago, my daughters pointed out that there was about a ten year gap in pictures of me, and they didn't like that. When I'm dead and gone, they want to be able to remember what I look like at each age, apparently. So, I have gotten much better about even requesting my picture being taken with one of them.

However, I just got my driver's license renewed on March 10th, and actually I have never minded my picture-until this year. For some reason, my hair looked blown up on the right side of my head, and I was looking down at something which clearly showed my multiple chins. I asked the guy right there and then to re-take it, and he said that is not policy. My birthday was March 13th, three days later, and I had to show my license at Target where I bought a box of wine. The lady looking at my driver's license said, "Wow, you have really lost weight since this picture!" I explained it was three days ago.

The next day I went to the DMV to get my picture re-taken and was willing to pay the $30. The lady behind the counter told me it was against policy. Really? I was willing to give them another $30. She said if they did it for me, every other woman would want a re-take of her picture. I said that would be great! This state is near bankruptcy, so why not?

My daughters told me that if I were ever in an accident where my wallet was not with my body, the authorities would never be able to identify me. I have lied about my height, weight and hair color for thirty years, and they have never questioned that!

By Pat Schwieder

Friday, April 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Friend

Friend.  I think of the woman blessing who has listened to me despite all of the blubbering and tears, who yanked me out of bed when I was too low to remove those covers, who talks with me on the phone . . . daily, who loves my children as her own, who has created traditions with me, who remembers my ailments, who makes me laugh huge belly laughs, who encourages only, who says it like it is, who is willing to try, discover, and learn with me, who listens to me, who loves me.

Now, you try.  Please complete your Five Minute Friday:  Friend in our comments section below.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Daily Wisdom: Worship, Word, Walk, and Works

In the Christ-centered life, I see four banks providing the necessary boundaries for the greatest benefit to come from this flood we call renewal: Worship, Word, Walk, and Works. These banks not only direct the flow of renewal, they also intensify its force.
                                                                  ~John Wimber~
Submitted by Carol Pigg

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mercy vs. Truth

A few months ago, I was challenged to pick a word to summarize what I needed to work on the most this year. The first word that came to mind was mercy. A lot of people commented that they thought this was an odd word. How could mercy be hard? What is so difficult about showing mercy? Some said that I seemed like too nice of a person to have issues with showing mercy. However, this is something I have struggled with.
I have been hurt many times by many people. I may be quick to forgive them, but I have issues showing mercy. The problem is truth gets in the way. The truth hurts sometimes. I’m not talking God’s truth, by the way; I’m talking about truth as we perceive it. Let me give an example. When my husband says or does something that hurts me in some way, my truth says “What a jerk!” “ He doesn’t deserve me ever being nice to him again!” and “He doesn’t really love me or he wouldn’t treat me like that!” But mercy says, “He’s your husband. You made a promise to love, honor, and cherish”, “Treat him the way you want to be treated,” and “Love him the way Christ loves him.” But mercy is SO hard for me! If someone hurts me, I want him/her to hurt. If someone is mean to me, I want to be mean to him/her. If someone makes me feel left out and alone, I want him/her to feel that way too. And THIS is why I am committed to working on mercy.
In one of the books I use during my devotion time, Sparkling Gems from the Greek, I came across a passage this past week that was talking about Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus and how Jesus never treated Judas with the way truth said he should be treated. He showed him mercy beyond any mercy we’ve ever known. Jesus knew what Judas was going to do even before Judas knew he was going to do it, and yet he chose to show mercy. There were a few sentences in this passage for that day that struck me right in the heart.
If that person chooses not to respond to the mercy, grace, and patience that is being poured out to him through you, he will have to live with the results of his decisions. Just make sure that you fulfill what God is requiring of you in this relationship. It may seem difficult to do, but you need to be thankful that God has kindly entrusted you with the responsibility of giving that person another chance!”
Ugh. Right in the heart. God has entrusted me. Me. If He is the God of second chances, why do I feel like I cannot give people a second chance? How would the lives of the people around me change if I chose to show mercy instead of responding to the truth of the situation? What a witness to them if they could see God’s love and mercy through me in the way I treat them after they have hurt me!
So that’s my word I’m working on, and I’m doing pretty well…this week.
Luke 6:36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 

By Lisa Powell/@mamaof3gs 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sandwiched Between a Rock and a Hard Place

What do BLTs, peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, and I have in common? Yep, we are all sandwiches. I generally think of myself as fried bologna with cheese (if you know me, you know about the cheesy part), happily ensconced between four buns (think about it), my elderly mom on one side and my college daughter on the other.
Being part of the so-called sandwich generation* just sort of showed up on my life menu one day and rather than spit it out with displeasure, I have decided to gobble it up with glee. Oh, sure, there are days when I would really like to send this sandwich back to the kitchen, but when I look at it through the eyes of the Master Chef, I realize it is nourishing me in countless ways.
For one, I am learning patience. I thought after serving 27 years in the military and having three children and a workaholic husband, I knew all about patience. Wrong! When my 89-year-old Mom moved in with us, I quickly discovered there were all new levels of patience I had yet to explore. After a year, I still don’t have the get-ready-to-go-someplace routine down pat, which is why you need to politely smile at us when we come slogging into church late, yet again . . . occasionally without our teeth OR our hearing aids. On the other side of the sandwich, our 22-year-old-soon-to-be-college-graduate-daugther is planning her June wedding and that, too, has taught me patience (“You don’t like the first dress we bought?!”) AND gratitude.
Gratitude, you ask? How can I experience gratitude when money is going out the door faster than cowboys at a heavy metal concert? Well, my heart is filled with thanksgiving that our daughter understands and fully embraces the sanctity of marriage; that she has found a Godly young man who shares her values and loves her unconditionally; and that all of her collections of Barbies, Beanies, and books will eventually be taking up residence somewhere else. I am also thankful that my Mom has gotten to be part of the wedding planning process, adding her nearly nine decade’s worth of wisdom and practicality to the mix.
Not surprisingly, the Master Chef has spiced up my sandwich life with other nutritional tidbits beyond patience and gratitude. Yes, there also has been a squirt of humility, a pinch of compassion, a sprinkle of steadfastness, and a double measure of joy in all things.
If you find yourself as part of the sandwich generation, chow down, friend! Sit back and savor the meal. One day soon it will be but a memory, so enjoy the rich flavors while you can.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
                                                                                              - James 1:2-4

*Those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children and grandchildren.

By Sue Busler

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Where Has the Time Gone?

For some reason, lately I’ve really been thinking about where all of my life has gone and what I’ve chosen to do with my days. As I’m writing this today, I have been alive for 13,605 days, give or take a few. That thought makes my heart kind of sink. That’s a lot of days!! What have I done with those days? I believe that every day is a gift from God. I truly do. But I haven’t always appreciated that fact. I think back to my wild rebellious days and wish I could take them all back and do something worthwhile with that time. In a certain regard, I would not take back those days because they were a part of making me who I am today. However, it almost sickens me to think how much time I have wasted.
Now I’m married and have three beautiful daughters, and I think even more so now I realize how every day is a gift. I try to take time to stop what I’m doing and listen to them. To hug them extra long and take in the smell of their sweet skin and feel of their soft cheeks on mine, because I know that all too soon, they are going to be grown up and on their own. I want them to grow up feeling loved, safe and taken care of. I want to do fun things as a family and make memories that will last a lifetime. I don’t think every day has to be memorable. I know that’s not realistic. But I want them to have great memories of their childhood when they are my age.

So there is one thing that I have been feeling lately has robbed our family of these quality times. TECHNOLOGY. Xbox, tablet, phones, handheld video games, computers, TV. We are surrounded! We have had a really, really, really long winter. And in part because of this, I have let my kids (and husband) be on technology way more than they really should be. So now that it’s nice out, it’s become a really hard habit to break. It’s almost as if we have forgotten how to be a family. When the opportunity arises to be together and spend time together, it’s as if we don’t know how. It’s almost like a drug addict trying to get clean. The kids usually ask at least once “Can we play xbox? Can we play on the computer?” Sitting and reading a book, playing a game, writing a story, or doing a puzzle have become foreign to them. And, quite frankly, it’s all my fault. I have allowed them this access to technology, and they have been sucked in. 
So my plan for the summer is to break them of their addiction to technology. To reintroduce them to all of the fun things that childhood has to offer, before it’s too late. Before they have lived over 13,000 days and wonder where all of those days have gone. I want to teach them to be aware that every single day is a gift from God. And to teach them to live every day to the fullest. To spend time together, as a family, with their sisters, with their friends, with their family. To make memories, and to follow their dreams. Because I want more for them than being addicted to technology, and I think God does too!
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days. That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
By Lisa Powell/@mamaof3gs

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Time for Some Spring Cleaning!

I’ve never been much of a spring cleaner! My house is usually “good enough” that I don’t take the time to do thorough spring cleaning, especially with a hubby and three little kids in the house! However, this year I came across a website called and they had a fabulous spring cleaning checklist. It went room by room with an extensive checklist of things to do in each room to get cleaned out and organized. So, I printed it off, and hesitantly dove in. 
The checklists for all of the rooms consisted of things like “wash windows, dust all trim, wash floors, sort through xyz and get rid of things you don’t use any more," etc. It was a very labor intensive process, but so rewarding as I finished each room. It took me almost a week to do the downstairs, mostly because I homeschool and have other responsibilities, so I could only do a little a day. 
As I was working one day cleaning the playroom, it occurred to me that perhaps it was time to do a spiritual spring cleaning. Maybe it was time for me to evaluate my priorities and get rid of things that are taking me away from things that are important to me. So, I have refocused. I have started making my time with God more of a priority. Every night, I have started putting headphones on and listening to praise and worship music while I read my bible and my devotion books. Shutting out the outside world and focusing on God and my relationship with Him. It has been amazing! I’ve focused more on my relationships with my family and friends and the things that really matter; the things that build me up and encourage me. I feel refreshed and renewed just in the few weeks I’ve been doing this. I think this is something I will do every spring from now on. When it’s time to clean out the closets, it’s time to clean out my life!
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me.

By Lisa Powell 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Worst Picture Ever, or the Best?

Using a Digital Camera for the First Time

I know what you are thinking, and the answer is, "No . . . I am not a model."  I am full of joy, though, in the above picture, and to me, this is what matters the most.

This picture was taken over ten years ago by my hub.  We had just bought our first digital camera and laughed until we cried those first few days weeks months of use.  Gratefully, yes gratefully, this pic did not find its way into the "trash bin."  Instead, it has found a safe home in a file on the computer labelled "worst pic evah."  The angle of the photo allows for a full viewing of my double chin, silver childhood fillings, and my "five-pound tongue in a four-pound mouth" as my sleep apnea doctor has explained.  Whenever I stumble upon this picture, I cannot help but laugh.  Then, I usually call the hub over to look as well as my girls so that they can laugh, too.

I can remember being told once in order to take a good picture, one should look at the camera straight on, lean his/her face forward in order to eliminate any double chin, and look up so as to make the eyes appear as large as possible.  I have tried and failed miserably at these suggestions.  Usually, I still discover an aspect of the picture which I find less than flattering . . . a pimple, oily skin, chubby cheeks, and the list continues.  Then, the picture in question usually winds up in the "trash bin."   

While on vacation, I noticed a woman taking a picture of what looked to be her son and husband.  I offered to take the picture for her so that she could be in the photo also.  She replied, "Oh no!  I don't do pictures."  I giggled, replied, "I hear ya!" and kept walking.  

I decided to explore this topic further, so I e-mailed fifty-three women and asked each woman to contribute her worst picture ever.  Seven women responded, five of which sent pictures.  The odds here are definitely not in my favor (Hunger Games) for feedback, but to me, exemplifies the reality of how hard women are on themselves.  

Why?  Why not embrace the joy found in the pictures and the memories the pictures capture?  Instead of viewing the photos with a critical eye, why not a grateful eye?

Song of Solomon 4:7

You are altogether beautiful, my love;  there is no flaw in you.

Thus, I am grateful for these women blessings who agreed to participate, no questions asked, and admire each of these beauties, both inside and out.  The captions and explanations are their own.

Thanks to my lovely Paige!  :)

Summer of 2013 - Well? There is THE worst picture EVER EVER taken of me by a friend.  If that wasn't bad enough, the twist of the knife stuck into my heart when she uploaded it and TAGGED me on Facebook.  I literally cried for weeks!!! Weeks I tell ya!!! I'm not exaggerating!

First, I'm overweight (no secret there), but this picture is just downright unflattering and not a true representation of what I look like. Right? Wait? Was it? IS IT?? Do I have an unrealistic view of myself?  Hmm?  Is that why I'm fat, because I don't really see it? 

Second, as my friend WHY on earth would she post this of me?  Does she secretly hate me? What did I do to make her mad?

Some major soul searching took place after this photo reared its ugly head, and I'm happy to report that we are still friends.  I'll be honest;  we actually haven't talked much since the summer because we are both busy with work, kids, and life in general, BUT I realized something.  I truly believe she doesn't see me like I see me.  Do I think she should have still known better than to post and tag me...YES! But do I fault her for wanting to share a weekend full of fun camping pictures and one just so happened to be a picture of me loving on my son while enjoying a boat ride...NO! 

She captured an ugly, beautiful, and genuine moment and ultimately I learned from it.  Hmm? Maybe I should send her a thank you note?

Nightgown Seduction Gone All Wrong
Pre-coffee Me

My Most Flattering Side

By Courtney Winkler
P.S.  If you would like to include your "worst pic evah," it is not too late.  E-mail

G. and I making it fun.
Crazy Hair

Behind the piercings, tattoos, and hair is just an ordinary girl.

I wondered what I looked like when I made this face at my husband.
Child steals iphone.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Reluctant Recipient

        Have you ever been in your car alone, received good news and look around to realize you have no one to share it with? That happened to me a few weeks ago as I was driving through Panera. I had a mammogram that was questionable and a week later had to have another one and an ultrasound. The nurse called me on my cell phone to tell me everything was normal and I was elated.
         I always listen to a radio station that advocates sharing “JOY” with someone which also happens to be their call letters. I had not done that in quite awhile, and since I had no one to tell the good news to, I wanted to pay for the car behind me and share my joy. When I got to the window, I told the young lady asking for my Panera card that I also wanted to pay for the car behind me. She looked at me like a puppy hearing a high-pitched noise. She said, “Oh, you know her, right?” I explained to her that I had just received some good news and I wanted to do something nice for someone else and share my joy. Again, apparently, the high-pitched noise. She finally gave me the combined totals, and I handed her the money.
         I slowly pulled away checking my bag with my lunch. I heard a lot of honking behind me and looked in my rearview mirror to see the car whose lunch I paid for, waving out the window and laying on the horn. I was getting embarrassed because I was thinking she wanted to thank me and that was not why I did it. So, I pulled over in front of Dobbs, and the lady pulled behind me and got out of her car. I was trying to practice my most humble, “Oh, it was nothing” when I realized by her body language on the way to my car she was mad! Really mad! As my Granny would say, "Madder than a wet hen!" I tried only to roll down my window halfway until I could feel her out, but I’m not sure electric windows do that.
         She leaned her head in my window and was yelling at me, “You don’t know me! Who do you think you are buying my lunch? I didn’t ask you to buy me a $%$#@ thing! Now you think I owe you something?” My head was spinning. No way I expected this. When I get nervous, I have a tendency to ramble. So, I was trying to explain I had a bad mammogram, my husband has cancer, it’s really bad timing, but is there ever good timing for a bad mammogram, I just had another mammogram earlier that morning and an ultrasound, the nurse called while I was in the car, I saw her car, I listen to JOY FM radio, they say you should “Joy” someone and I did, didn’t you notice the pink sticker on the back of my car, she happened to be the car behind me at the time I decided to “joy” someone and no I don’t know her, but God knows her and no I don’t expect anything in return, that never occurred to me. Wheww!
         All of a sudden, I hear someone knocking on my passenger window. It was one of the guys from Dobbs. He wanted to know if I was okay. I looked at the lady leaning in my window and asked, “Am I okay?” She had a hint of a smile and told me I was okay. I turned to the Dobbs gentleman and assured him I would be fine.
         The “Joyed” lady asked me again if I thought she owed me anything. I tried in a more calm less rambling mode, to explain to her how blessed I am and I pray she is blessed as well. She backed away a little from my car and was a little misty eyed when she said, “No one, no one has ever given me anything they did not expect something in return.” Before I knew it, tears were rolling down my cheeks. I told her I would pray for her and that the only thing God wants from her is devotion. I asked her if she had a church, and she said it had been a few years since she had been in a church. I told her that my husband and I would love to have her go to church with us. She backed away a little more and pointed her finger at me. She had a reluctant smile as she said, “You’re okay, lady!”
She tapped the back of my car as she headed back to hers. I don’t know if she was touching the sticker or giving me the signal to leave. I sat in my car not moving for a minute trying to take it all in. I had a feeling someone was looking at me and realized the Dobbs guy was still standing there. I rolled the window down and told him I was fine and thanked him for being concerned. I started to explain to him what had transpired, and he waved at me and told me to have a good day. He must have sensed my ability to ramble.
The thing the Lord taught me in this encounter is that you never know what hurt may be going on in someone else’s life and how you can be the vessel to pour out His love. I will probably never see that woman again, but I have prayed for her consistently and God knows who she is. That’s all that really matters.

By Pat Schwieder