K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Sister/Sonny (# 3 of 7)

Chugging up the Amazon River on a medical boat, I heard God gently whisper “simplify” as I observed the lives of  the river people. I saw fathers fishing with their sons in hand carved canoes, mothers cooking their daily manioc on an open fire outside their 8×10 thatched homes as their children laughed and played in the dirt. I met believers who had very little by American standards but who were enjoying loving God and serving others. Sitting on the back of the boat, I jotted down “simplify” in my journal, with a fine duck sitting beside me, tethered by a rope around his leg. The duck, soon to be dinner, was a gift of thanks to our friend Becky, a missionary nurse, for pulling an absessed tooth.

As I returned home to my busy lifestyle, I was determined to obey God’s voice and simplify our lives.  Seventeen years later, this is still a work in progress.  As an avid multi-tasker, I find “simplify” not a simple thing to do.

Presently I am focusing afresh.  1) I  am learning to say NO to stuff. Do you ever really want something only to discover that when you purchase it, it doesn’t satisfy you very long? Instead you become aware that you not only own it but it now owns you– your money, your time, your focus.

2) I am learning to say NO to activities, a challenge for this “doer.” When asked to do good things over the years, my default answer, often spoken far too hastily, has been YES unless God says NO. Recently, I felt God prompt me to answer NO unless He says YES. I don’t respond nearly so quickly and am less prone to overcommit.

I began writing this simple blog last Friday but had to abandon it when my day wasn’t lining up with my message.  This was also THE day that I got out all the bins of Christmas decorations and began planning elaborate holiday events in my head.  I could picture God chuckling as He watched me try to write on simplifying while hanging Christmas decorations at the same time.  It was a practical K.I.S.S. lesson.

I did note a little progress.  I didn’t pull out everything in the bins and I did nix having two holiday parties before they even made it to the calendar. I realized I hadn’t arrived as I stared at the two, yes two, wall plaques and a chair pillow that shouted in bold letters, “SIMPLIFY,” but I HAD given away my other large SIMPLIFY plaque last year when I cleaned out my office

The present challenge is to keep it simple over the holidays. As I focus on finishing the first draft of my book by the end of the year, it is simple: I can’t do every good thing out there and accomplish my main task.

I wonder what my life would look like if I really internalized simplifying.  I suspect that it would be richer and more satisfying. “The thief comes to rob, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have a rich and satisfying life.”  — Jesus   John 10:10

How about you, are you willing to K.I.S.S. ?

Training Little Kiddos to Be Enjoyable (#2 of 7)

Are your kids fun to live with? A few kids come that way out of the womb– very few.  Others need training.  If I could turn the clock back, I would try create a more positive fun environment in our home when we had our four little kiddos running around.  I read in Ephesians 6:4: “Do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Back then I was better at exasperating them by correcting them all the time than I was at training them by using my words in a more positive way.

AFTER our kids were grown, I observed my daughter Jenny as she used her words to train her three little girls. Her girls are now teenagers and confirm that what she did works– kids can be fun to live with!

Here are some of the things I jotted down that I learned from her:

1) She affirmed the good things her kids did with “good girl…nice job…way to go…good sharing…I like the way you gave that toy to your sister.”

2)  She made life fun with little games like “March fast like a soldier…Whoever gets in the car first gets tickled…Sit like a princess”

3) She chose to explain more often what TO DO than what NOT TO DO, creating a more positive than negative environment.

           EXASPERATE       or       TRAIN  & AFFIRM                                                    

Stop jumping on that.              Please put your feet on the floor (or) Put your bottom on the chair.

Hurry up.                                     I see you are using your slow feet. Use your fast feet. (or) Let’s march fast.

Don’t get out of your bed         Be a big girl & stay in your bed all night long.

Quit hitting your sister            Hands are for hugging. (or) Use soft hands. Mommy is sad when you hit.

Quit spitting                               Spitting is a bathtub game.

Quit whining                              Use your words.

You can’t do that                       That’s a mommy job

Don’t cry                                      Does that make you feel sad?

Quit fighting                               I’m sure if you ask your sister nicely, she’ll give your toy back to you

Are you ready for bed?              It’s bedtime. Pick out one book.

No candy (etc)                            Somedays we buy candy, some days we don’t. Today’s a day we don’t

Get in that car right now         Can you walk to the car like a big girl or does Mommy need to carry you?

You can’t watch tv tonight     We’re not watching TV tonight, but you can draw mommy a picture.

I told you-get that coat on.      Do you want to put on your coat by yourself or do you want Mommy to help?

I realize that I can’t turn the clock back, but maybe sharing this will encourage you to create a more enjoyable fun atmosphere as you train little kiddos around you. And thanks, Jenny, for reminding me to “use your words.”

1. Enjoy Life (# 1 of 7 Things I Wish I’d Focused on at Age 30)

“Are you fun to live with?“ I asked at a Mom2Mom Banquet last week. Young moms are still telling me how they pondered that question all week.  What would your answer be?

God first asked me this question 40 years ago when I read it in a chapter title of some book.  God pops the question to me over and over as the years go by, often at a time when I can’t honestly answer “yes,” on days like yesterday.

Yesterday I was NOT fun to live with. I chose to get bogged down in some circumstances. As the day went on, I got lazier and crabbier and focused on poor little ole’ me and slowly slid into a funk, not a good place to land when trying to write a blog like this.

I had forgotten a lesson I’d learned: “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”   Chuck Swindoll

Today “Yes, I am fun to live with.” So what changed?  My circumstances? No.  My focus? Yes.   I purposely CHOSE to do two things to enjoy life today.

1) I began by thanking God outloud for a while for the multitude of things I was thankful for: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

2) I focused on what Jesus had to say about life, realizing that things are often not as they seem to me.  I let John 10:10 soak in again:  “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”   – Jesus.

Today I chose not to let the devil steal my joy, kill my enthusiasm, and destroy my day; instead I chose to have a rich and satisfying life today.  So how is it going for you? Are you fun to live with?

Life in the Fast Lane – 7 Things I Wish I’d Focused on at Age 30

Our family when I was 31

Being chronologically credentialed (older), I had the pleasure of speaking to moms of young children at a Mom2Mom Mentoring Banquet this week. In preparation, I let my mind wander back to those hectic days when I was 30 with four small children under the age of 6 and jotted down 7 things I wished I’d focused on way back then.  For the next 7 weeks, I plan to blog on each topic so here is a snapshot of what is to come.   

1.   ENJOY LIFE.   I recall how the days seemed to drag by, yet somehow the years seemed to fly by. Doing things over, I would slow down and enjoy life more, one season at a time. Jesus tells us in John 10:10 “The thief’s purpose is to rob, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life.” That sounds like He intends for us to enjoy life. Maybe that is why He often asks me the question, “Are you fun to live with?” My answer  is a good barometer of whether I am enjoying a rich and satisfying life which often depends far more on what is going on inside than what is happening outside.

2.   TRAIN YOUR KIDDOS TO BE ENJOYABLE.   Some kiddos are easy to enjoy straight from the womb–mighty few. The rest we need to be train.  Ephesians 6:4 says this, “Do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  One way to keep from exasperating your kids is to make your home a positive environment, instructing them what “to do” more often than screaming out what “not to do.”

3.    SIMPLIFY.  As an avid multi-tasker, I am constantly working on this.  I am learning  1) to say NO to stuff which we think that we own when in fact the stuff more accurately owns us– our time, our money, our focus.  I’m also learning 2) to say NO to activities. When asked to do good things over the years, my default has always been to say YES unless God says NO. Recently, I felt God’s prompting to change my default answer to NO unless God says to say YES. I found I’m not nearly so quick to overcommit.  As I focus on my main job right now of finishing writing a book, I can’t do every other good thing that comes my way.  Hmmm. I wonder what my life might’ve been had I taken up this habit sooner –  rich and more satisfying?

4.     HONOR  YOUR  SPOUSE.  God puts us in a family setting in close proximity with each other so that we can learn to love and honor people before our own needs and desires. We are also in a family to learn to communicate and relate so we can truly  enjoy living together. Really communicating takes hard work, but it is so worth it.  “Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.”  Prov 31:11

5.    TAKE TIME FOR ­­­­­­­YOU.  Moms need time outs too, time out of the routine, time to get refreshed.We also need to take time  work on ourselves.  The issues that we ignore and refuse to let God deal with don’t go away; instead, they grow over the years and often have huge consequences (like overeating has for me.) “Don’t be misled. God is not mocked. You will always harvest what you plant.”  Galatians 6:7

6.     STAY CONNECTED  TO  GOD’S  FAMILY.   God had no intention of us doing life on our own. Our best years have been when we were strongly involved in a church family doing life together with a small group of believers.  “Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing”.   I Th 5:11

7.    GET TO KNOW JESUS INTIMATELY.    Now let’s get to the bottom line.  These six above items pale in importance to this, the main thing.  As Stephen Covey said, “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  The more I really experience Jesus’ presence in my daily life, understand who He is and what He is doing, the more rich and satisfying life I have, regardless of the circumstances of life that surrounds me.

When asked what was the most important thing in life, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul & mind. This is the first & greatest commandment. The second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37  So, to sum it up,  we only have two jobs in life:  # 1 love God, #2 love others.  That’s it.  Period. And the bottom line is that this is what brings a rich and satisfying life.

Lovin’ the Apple – the Mac

Our boys were fascinated with computers back when they bought the first PC from Radio Shack.  I decided years ago that if I had any hopes of communicating with our sons who would become engineers and computer techies, it would be a “must” to keep up with changing technology.  At age 64 I made the computer leap to my first Mac, and five years later, I keep discovering amazing new things that I can do on my Mac.

I just figured out this afternoon that I can easily send iMessages from my Mac to any iPhone. Now this might not be a big deal to you, but it really is for me.

IPhones are a big part of our family. Thirteen of us own iPhones—Don, me, all seven of our kids and spouses, and our four oldest grandchildren (pic is Kassidy, granddaughter # 5 who is in line for the next one.)  IPhones abound in my extended family too. Even my 93 year old mother, Mary, uses her iPhone to call me from the nursing home where she lives.

Oops. I’ll blog another time about iPhones — back to this morning and my Mac.  I googled to see if I could send text messages to phones from my computer since I am on the computer writing on my book most of the day (in theory). The answer was Yes!  All of my kids way prefer a text for communication so I was in.

I set up my Mac to send text messages to iPhones and it worked great the first time. And then to my surprise, when one of my kids texted me back, the computer popped up a window and read his text reply to me while I was writing, so I didn’t even have to pause until I wanted to respond.

Only last week I discovered that by pressing the function key twice, I could dictate, and my computer would type out everything I was saying with a great deal of accuracy. Now that feature has come in very handy when I prefer to speak rather of type the words into my book draft.  This feature especially helps me because in all reality, I am a speaker who writes, not a writer who speaks. Speaking out loud captures my message better than writing it. This dictation feature really helps me write from who I am.

I  wonder how long I’ve had the capability on my computer to dictate and to send text messages to phones. I also wonder what other neat features are there that I totally unaware of their hidden presence.  I love the simple surprises God gives me each day.

Thank you, God, for technology.  I love to learn. I’m looking forward to discovering more although I want to make sure these technology advances simplify my life and don’t complicate it. That would defeat my life’s purpose — communicating and building relationships. So please give me wisdom and continue to surprise me.

Come to think of it, I have an app called FaceTime on my Mac, and I bet I can figure out how to call my granddaughters at college in time to use the camera to actually see them getting ready to go out on Friday night. So I’d better go  now.

And you Mac lovers out there, what special Mac features have you discovered?

Surprise 10:10

I love surprises.  Although the world’s huge problems and my personal challenges try to steal my peace and destroy my quality of life, I have found that tucked away in each day are neat surprises, little events that bring me joy when I take time to focus on them.

One of the most impactful little events was on an ordinary Saturday morning thirteen years ago when I was pursuing one of my passions.

We all have weekend passions. For some, it is sports or movies or eating out.  For others, like me, it is sailing.  My sailing, although not upscale, is specialized for I delight in yard sailing.  Friends call me “the yard sale queen.” This hobby satisfies many needs–shopping, finding bargains, being outdoors, and even getting some walking exercise in there.

On June 18 I was tootling around town checking out sales, and I began to wonder if I should be enjoying this pastime so much. So I pulled up to a stop sign and just asked, “God, I have so much fun doing this.  Is it okay with you?”

I looked down at the digital clock on my car dash and it read 10:10.  I immediately sensed God’s answer as I spoke outloud John 10:10. Jesus says, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, till it overflows.”  (Amplified)

I sense God was whispering to me, “Sure, it is okay. Have fun.  Enjoy life.”  Feeling God’s delight was my special surprise for the day. I didn’t know that John 10:10 would become my life verse and impact me so often and I found myself I glancing up at a clock at exactly 10:10, sometimes am, sometimes pm, but regularly like clockwork.  The 10:10 message resonates within and spurs me to grin and say, “Thank you, Jesus for the simple joys you give. Though the devil tries to steal, kill, and destroy the good things in my life, You give me an abundant life, full and overflowing, just like You promised.”

The day the message first appeared, I also scored at a yard sale when I found a porch glider we affectionately dubbed “the glory glider.”  (I had been asking my husband Don to buy me one since Mother’s Day and had just reverted to asking God for one instead.)  I paid $15 for it as it needed TLC which the grandkids willingly gave it with scrub brushes. We painted it and Don even engraved “the glory glider” in the wood. This glider became the on-stage centerpiece at the first Women’s Conference I spoke at, as an illustration to over 500 women of how God can restore our worn, ragged lives into a joyful life that reflects His glory.

This was the beginning of many years of being delighted and surprised by God in small ways at yard sales even though I rarely go any more. This past weekend I went to a store and bought a pair of much needed black capris but decided later to return them as they weren’t what I really was looking for. Then I went sailing Saturday and found exactly the capris I wanted for  $1 (along with a nice new top.) Little things? Yes. I am learning to delight in the little things. Abundant life? You bet. I’m learning that it is focusing on the little things that often gives me the abundant life, a gift from a loving Father who enjoys life with me.  10:10

My 69th

Happy Birthday 2005

“Some celebrations are bittersweet,” a friend remarked.

I am thinking, “You mean like having a 69th birthday?”

I’m in denial that I will soon be 70 – that sounds kinda old to me. Could there be a typo on my birth certificate?

I choose to see myself as a skin wrapped vessel of the Holy Spirit, not a 69 year old woman with limited energy and health challenges.

To celebrate  69 years of life,   I’d like to share 6 questions and 9 discoveries from my journey.


  1. Will Don ever take me on a cruise?
  2. When will I complete my 2 bucket list items: finish my book and lose this excess weight? At the rate I am going, I may have to live (and stay sharp) until I am 102 years old.
  3. How do I simplify, as God has directed, in my day to day living?
  4. Why oh why don’t I pray more when I’ve witnessed over and over what a powerful difference praying makes?
  5. Will there will be chocolate and bacon in heaven?  Just wondering.
  6. How can I best bring glory to God in each day of life that I have left?


  1. Stuff doesn’t really matter much in the big scheme of life. What really matters is relationships – with people and God.     “That which I long for becomes that to which I belong.”    A Minute of Margin  
  2. My family is one of God’s most priceless gifts here on earth, and I am going to take time to enjoy them fully.
  3. Life is so much better if you get out of debt, stay out of debt by spending less than you make and not buying anything on credit (but your house), & if you save for the future because someday the future becomes the present.
  4. Things are not as them seem. True reality is invisible to the eye, only revealed by knowing God intimately.
  5. I still have a lot to learn so I will continue to read, to study, and to share. I plan to ask lots more questions and do lots more listening.
  6. Life is not fair, but God is always good and can redeem anything that happens.
  7. There is nothing like a good book or a good friend to give life new sparkle. Each person has a remarkable story to share.
  8. Even when I have pain, I don’t have to be one. Being fun to live with is a choice.
  9. Whether life is good or bad, one thing is for certain—it will change.

If you want to help me celebrate my birthday, I’d love to hear your comment on which # above resonates with what you have discovered.