He is risen.
He is risen, indeed.
He is risen.
He is risen, indeed.
Today, the sun is shining and the temperatures are in the 50s and feel like the 50s. Which means spring is drawing us outside.
I see and hear life, and I smile.
Talking to Isabelle while we’re outside with sidewalk chalk. Me: Isabelle can you draw me a picture of the clouds? Izzy: Well, I’m not very good at clouds, but I’ll try. (She then draws a cloud.) Izzy continues: I can draw a pteranodon. (Which she does. So, to clarify, not good at clouds but excellent at extinct animals. Got it.)
Overhearing this in the living room. Phil, looking at something on the computer: “Son of a bee.” (His actual phrase. I did not censor.) Corban, immediately following, “Son of a bee?” Insert uproarious laughter from all parties. (Note to parents: watch what you say. They are listening. We’re still learning this.)
Receiving this awesome prize pack from author Dani Pettrey. Coffee, chocolate, books. I don’t win a lot of things, but this was one great prize.
Isabelle wanting to go to the Good Friday service in town. I’m not sure it’s what she thought it was going to be, but we went because I want to encourage my kids’ faith. On the way out, a woman offered us some treats from her car, so we came home with cupcakes and squeeze tubes of orange gelatin (looks better than it sounds).
Signing another contract for an article I sold earlier this year and receiving a check for the other one.
Registering and planning for a marriage conference this summer. Phil and I are Nashville-bound in July. Woohoo!
What have you read on the Web lately, Easter related or not?
So did I.
But not for the same reason.
In a world where 1 in 7 people battles hunger daily, I’m one of the “lucky” ones.
Yesterday was Compassion International’s One Meal One Day campaign, an annual event that encourages people to skip a meal and donate what they would have spent to their work in a country whose people experience extreme hunger. This year’s focus: Ethiopia.
First let me say this: I don’t usually fast. It’s a discipline I’ve not practiced much since college and I almost never look forward to it. Especially as a stay-at-home mom where the food is readily available all day long and the kids need regular nourishment. Plus, I’m cranky when I’m hungry. All good reasons to not do it, I know.
But this seemed like a challenge I could handle. And I wanted to do it. When it came time to decide which meal to skip, I chose dinner specifically so I could go to bed hungry. When’s the last time I did that on purpose?
Even if you didn’t skip a meal, you can donate to the cause here.
And if you’re interested in sponsoring a child through Compassion, you can click on the banner on the side of the blog and start searching for a child to support.
Skipping a meal and donating a little bit of money doesn’t seem like a big deal with a big impact.
But it’s something.
And when a whole bunch of somethings come together, they can have a greater effect.
My parting words?
Imagine you’re sitting on a plane and the woman sitting next to you is visibly upset. You’re naturally curious and compassionate, so you ask a question or two: How are you? and Why are you on this flight? The woman says she’s on the way to see her daughter, who is going into a federal witness protection program. She’s saying “good-bye.” Forever.
That happened to author Susan May Warren, and she turned the experience into a book, You Don’t Know Me, the sixth novel set in the fictional Minnesota town of Deep Haven.
In the close-knit town, Annalise Decker is a devoted wife, supportive mother and community activist. Her husband is running for mayor, and life, from the outside, looks perfect. Then a federal agent shows up with news that could wreck her world: the man she testified against 20 years ago is out of jail and seeking revenge. And Annalise’s carefully guarded secret, that her real name is Deidre O’Reilly and she’s in the Witness Security Program, is in danger of being made known. She has to decide if she’ll give up the life she’s built on a lie to protect her family or entrust herself to the grace and love of her family and the protection of God.
I picked this book up on sale for Kindle before Christmas last year. I’ve read one other Deep Haven book and a novella, both of which made me eager to pick up another one in the series. Though they all take place in Deep Haven, you don’t have to read all of them or have read them in order. I’m not even sure which ones I’ve missed, but each time I’ve taken the trip to Deep Haven through Warren’s novels, I’ve not been disappointed.
Warren blends suspense, humor, romance and inspiration like a perfectly seasoned soup. Her stories are warm, comforting, hearty and keep you coming back for more.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to say good-bye to your family forever, start a new life and then have that life threatened. Annalise’s choices are not easy and Warren makes her struggle real to the rest of us, who probably will never have to face that kind of choice.
I appreciated, too, that this story was borne out of something that really happened to someone through an encounter the author had in real life. As a writer, that inspires me, because I see stories everywhere. Warren’s tale is encouraging in so many ways. It’s not fluff; it’s tough.
And more often than not, I’m loving books that aren’t afraid to go deep.
Check out the first chapter and see if a trip to Deep Haven is in order.
Hey, Mom sitting in the WIC office waiting for your quarterly allotment of food checks,
You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I want you to know, you’re a good mom.
Your baby, your toddler–they’re proof of that.
I know some people would say differently.
I’m sure you’ve received your share of judgmental looks and stares, and heard people in the grocery line behind you express their impatience.
I feel it, see it and hear it, too.
And it’s possible I’ve been one of those people.
Okay, it’s more than possible.
When I was first eligible for WIC, I wanted to set myself apart as a mom. I sat in the waiting area, dressed in clothes that I hoped would communicate that I wasn’t poor like you. I bribed my kids to behave well. I hoped beyond hope that they would answer the questions the “right” way so the nutritionists wouldn’t think I let my kids eat junk food. (Confession: Sometimes I do let them.)
I wanted to convince myself I didn’t belong there, but since we qualified for it, we would accept the help.
And then one day, I realized that we did belong there. We were and are poor. We need help. And like you, I’d do what it takes to help my kids.
So, when you call the office because you missed your appointment, I understand. Transportation isn’t always a given. The weather and illness can change your plans. Work schedules can be unpredictable.
When you let your kid climb all over the chairs as you text, it’s okay. Motherhood is hard when you have a support system. And if you don’t have one, I don’t know how you do it.
Choosing to have a baby takes courage. Married, in a relationship or single, however you became pregnant, it takes guts to bring a child into the world and raise him or her.
So I applaud you.It doesn’t matter to me how it happened or whether you planned it. Life has a way of altering the best-laid plans.
Our time with WIC is coming to an end soon, and you have helped me understand so much.
That moms of all kinds are doing the best they can with what they have to do what they can for their kids.
I won’t forget the lessons.
And I will stand up for you when I hear criticism against you.
I will wait patiently in line behind you while you spend your checks.
And someday I hope I can slip an extra bag of apples or vegetables into your cart because I know how quickly the money is spent.
Keep going. Keep doing the next right thing. For you. And your kids.
You have opened my eyes.
And I pray they’ll never again close to your needs.
another mom waiting in the WIC office
This regular Saturday post where I tell you what has made my week has been MIA for a few weeks. Partly because I was feeling sorry for myself and didn’t want to take the time to try to come up with a week’s worth of smiles. (Because truly some weeks it is harder than others.) And partly because we had this BIG event–a 5 year-old’s birthday–and family were in town and life was not ordinary or routine.
So, I return, somewhat reluctantly, and if you missed me, then accept my apology for the absence.
Here’s a short list of what makes me smile this week.
Spring. It’s here, officially. Even though the weather hasn’t played along, I know it’s only a matter of time before walking outside with the kids becomes bearable again and the world bursts with color. It’s my favorite season.
God kept me calm when my son’s head was bleeding profusely. And He kept us safe while driving in the snow to the emergency room. And He’s given us a daughter who jumps in to help and isn’t freaked out by other people’s pain. When we told the nurse that Izzy wanted to watch any procedure on her brother’s head, the nurse asked if she was going to be a nurse or a doctor. “Actually, I’m planning to be a teacher,” she says. And Corban’s head is fine, no stitches required.
I read two great books this week. I can’t wait to tell you about them in April. Watch for the reviews.
I signed a contract for a magazine article I wrote. It’ll be published in an upcoming May/June issue. I’ll share more when the time comes.
We officially own our car. The title came in the mail last week. Getting out of debt feels good, even if it’s hard work in the process. One down, too many more to go.
While calculating our expenses for the upcoming month, I was relieved to realize we might be able to pay them without too much extra help. That’s a relief when lately paying bills causes anxiety.
I applied for a job.
Homemade hot chocolate mix.
Friends who bring a bag of coffee beans to your front door.
A catch-up phone call with an in-town friend.
Okay, maybe the list wasn’t as short as I thought. Guess that’s what happens when you start listing the good. You think of more.
What was good about your week?
Thanks to my friends over at The Exodus Road, here are five ways you–yes, YOU–can fight slavery.
I’m guest posting on my friend Carol Cool’s blog this week about how child sponsorship through Compassion International changed me, as well as the child I sponsored. Here’s a preview:
“Dear Sponsor Lisa …”
I was just out of college and a newish Christian when I had the opportunity to sponsor a child through Compassion International. His name was Gian and he was 5 years old and lived in Peru. I don’t remember what compelled me except that I had a job and could afford the $30 a month and it felt like something a Christian would do.
Fast forward 12 ½ years. I’m a wife and a mom, and my “son” is 17 and about to graduate. He recently wrote these words to me:
Read the rest on Carol’s Blog, I’m No Superstar.
I’m a big fan of Gone with the Wind, and Scarlett O’Hara, love her or hate her, is a complex and well-written character. (If your only reference to GWTW is the movie, then I tell you now, READ THE BOOK!)
And if you’re a fan of the Civil War-era stories and strong leading ladies, then MaryLu Tyndall has a new book you’ll want to add to your to-be-read pile.
Forsaken Dreams, the first in her new series Escape to Paradise, introduces a group of Southerners, just after the Civil War has ended, who are looking to start over. They all pay for passage on a ship headed for Brazil to start a new colony. Among the passengers is Eliza Crawford, Southern-born widow of a Union general, and Colonel Blake Wallace, wanted for war crimes and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Eliza and Blake are the central characters in this book. In subsequent books, other characters will take center stage.
The story takes us along on their journey from Charleston, South Carolina, through the Caribbean and Atlantic waters to Brazil. Of course, nothing is easy, and the tension that unfolds from the beginning of the story until its end is gut-wrenching and soul-piercing. Tyndall crafts an action-packed story from the first page and it doesn’t let up until the end. Even as I neared the final pages, I wasn’t sure how things were going to turn out.
The characters in this story are well-developed and realistic. I especially liked Eliza. She had me at this line: “I fear I’ve always been too adventurous for my own good.” I wouldn’t say those words about myself, necessarily, but they stir something in me. Eliza is no wilting Southern flower. She is strong and capable and steps forward where others step back. She’s described this way by Blake:
War has a way of stealing one’s innocence. As well as strengthening their character. However, in your case, this pluck of yours seems more something you were born with than something acquired.
And Blake is a flawed hero–the best kind, really. He’s not perfect. He often reacts with his instincts and his PTSD episodes are painful and frighteningly real. Eliza describes her attraction to him this way:
Yet something about him tugged on her, drawing her thoughts and heart like the needle of a compass to true north. And as with a compass, there seemed to be naught she could do to change its direction.
Perhaps my favorite part of the whole story is that it’s based in history. An unknown number of Southerners migrated to Brazil after the war to create what they hoped would be a utopian society after the devastation of the Civil War. This is a piece of history I’ve never heard before. It makes for a compelling tale.
As Blake says to a fellow passenger, “Brazil is the last hope for many of us.”
The second installment of this series releases in November, which seems a long time from now. I’ll be waiting anxiously for the continuing story and a chance to journey further with this group. They feel like friends already.
In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of the book from the author.