All posts by laura

Between the feast and the famine <3

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It has been a little soggy here in corn and bean country this spring. 

Fields that are usually sprouting neat little rows of the summer crop have not even been plowed over.

And quite honestly, a lot of them look like they have sprouted rivers and ponds instead of the stuff we rely on around here to feed our families and keep the economy going. 

Over the weekend as we dried out from a soccer game played in the pouring rain and saw the forecast of more rain through the coming week, Russ reminisced about a time several years ago when we were all praying for rain. 

It was a drought year on top of a drought year and people were desperate enough for rain that they started calling us together for prayer meetings.

We attended one that was so strange to our normal way here even for us who live as followers of Christ. 

One of the leaders of the agricultural community called a prayer meeting and farmers and citizens and a collection from all walks of life and faith backgrounds showed up and we prayed and we asked God for rain. 

The weather forecasters had predicted another dust bowl and it certainly appeared we were headed that way. 

But we prayed. 

And apparently the drought ended, because I had totally forgotten about the whole threat until Russ mentioned it. 

One of the down sides of living in a land or a season where things are just going well and nothing really too terrible is shaking things up is that we are forgetful people. 

We fail to heed the warning 

11-16 Make sure you don’t forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God,

the God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery;

the God who led you through that huge and fearsome wilderness,

those desolate, arid badlands crawling with fiery snakes and scorpions;

the God who gave you water gushing from hard rock;

the God who gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never heard of, in order to give you a taste of the hard life, to test you so that you would be prepared to live well in the days ahead of you.

17-18 If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.

Deuteronomy 8: 11-18 The Message

We are indeed forgetful people until things get disrupted enough to gain our attention. 

Oh to remember in the best of seasons to live with gratitude to God from whom all blessings flow and to cry out to Him with the same desperation our need for Him is worthy of before we are living in a flood or a drought and realize how far we have removed ourselves from Him. 

That is the goal…

to reduce the cycle of forgetfulness so that in all seasons we are mindful that all things are from His hand. 

Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down to us from above…from God the Father…who never changes nor shifts. There are no shadows in Him…only pure Light and Life….

James 1:17 my paraphrase <3

Monday and we actually have sun!

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We had a full and fun weekend that culminated with us falling in a heap with blankets and books last night and has me moving slowly this morning. 

Thankful for getting to wrap my arms around these two lovely ladies yesterday

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and then seeing this guy via What’s app video

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…so all in all….best weekend ever.

Since we were going to hear the boys sing up north on Sunday, Russ and I attended our church service Saturday night to hear the end of the Nine Fruits of the Spirit series. 

It was all very good and helpful until the last part when things got a little dicey. 

Because our pastor presented us with a challenge to review again the list of the fruits of the flesh…Galatians 5: 19-21….and note our “signature tendency.”

Well, true to my excessive nature, I had four. You know…go big or go home, right?

Then he challenged us to look at that and make a decision to let God take control and surrender that tendency to Him so that He can transform us and start growing and developing more of HIS fruit in us. 

He offered us to join him in a prayer that he had the tech team put up on the screen and I give Wayne credit for knowing his flock well. 

He had us read through it once and pause a second to think before we just prayed it. 

And I will tell you…in that split second after I read through what he was asking us to pray, I debated not praying it. 

I know God answers the kind of prayer we were being invited into. 

It was a prayer asking God to put us in situations and circumstances where our bent towards flesh would be displayed clearly so that we could then surrender in the circumstance and let Him have His way with us so that we could grow in our godly response of exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

Yes…exaclty.

A complete mind set shift from my whole life goal. 

My thought here has always been to ask God to help me avoid situations that test me in these areas.

It seems to me that we could develop a pretty solid character portfolio for my life if God just cleared the path from all those annoying situations where my flesh rises up and has a hey day. 

But no. 

All of a sudden my pastor, who happens to also be a good friend who has eaten around my table and attended family stuff and knows me very well…is asking me to ask God to….

orchestrate situations for me to encounter where I stand a good chance of failing miserably. 

Feeling somewhat like I would if I had just been locked into a restrictive chair so that I could be whirled through a living nightmare Batman Ride at Six Flags, I prayed the prayer knowing I was going to need a heavy duty dose of yoking with Jesus as soon as we said the amen…I prayed the prayer. 

And just to make sure I knew what I had committed to, I wrote these words based on his final exhortation….

Expect to see places where my bent will arise and I can choose at those moments to live under the control of the Holy Spirit – walk in step with the Spirit IN the struggle with the temptation. Expect to find places to grow. 

So here we go people. 

I have never wanted a tattoo but am considering writing in permanent marker on my hand…so I can see it all this week…

You asked for this, Laura…now…choose the Spirit…and grow.

Because it wasn’t five minutes after I prayed it that God answered and He has just continued to abundantly give me opportunities.

The way I am doing it is I literally imagine I have my arm hooked through Jesus arm. Like little kids walk together sometimes side by side.

And you know what…I kind of love it. <3

Mother’s Day thoughts…Part 3

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We have these pink cowboy boots that we just can’t part with. 

Sarah asked for them for months before she turned 6 and she wore them faithfully until she couldn’t cram her growing feet down in them one more time. 

Her teacher asked me a couple of weeks after her birthday if she slept in them and I had to say she would if we would have let her. 

She loved them. 

And they birthed an expression that still puts me into fits of giggles every time it is said, or I even think about it being said. 

Walking down the mall or a street or out in front of our house, she would start this long, striding, purposeful march with her arms swinging wide at her side and with her head raised high, she would proclaim…

I’m walking like a mom!

It was adorable, although less than flattering to see her impression of what a mom walked like. 

I couldn’t tell if she actually thought that is what I looked like or if she was capturing the essence of the power and confidence she thought I possessed as her mother. 

Since no one in our family ever agreed that she had definitely nailed an accurate impersonation of me walking (I know this because we all would laugh uncontrollably and ask where she got that idea), I have to assume it was the latter option.

So in honor of Mother’s Day…here is my response to that little girl in the pink cowboy boots and the sister and brother who made the bookends around her.

Oh children….if ever you thought your mother was confident that she knew what she was doing…she had you fooled. 

I had not a clue how to dress a baby or change a diaper when they laid the first one of you in my arms and said we could take you home to raise. 

While I had practiced for this role a zillion times in the play house my dad made for me in our basement as a little girl, real babies are not like dolls. I had never really cared for a newborn child.

They wiggle and move and their very lives depend on you and I was so scared I would mess it up. 

And I did. 

Time and again….although I was greatly relieved to find out eventually that feeding errors and occasionally binge watching cartoons doesn’t lead to sudden death.

I questioned every decision and I read so many books, even the falling apart paper back one from Dr. Spock that my mom had used when she was struggling with her own doubts raising me and your aunt. 

I asked other mothers and I thank God the internet wasn’t a thing because I would have been googling perpetually.

I never wanted to do anything right and perfectly more than I have wanted to raise you three. 

I wanted you to love Jesus and love people and spread your wings and not live in the same kind of fear and dread cycle I have fought so that you could do the wonderful things I knew God made you to do. 

And you went and did, didn’t you.…

All three of you.

You went and spread your wings and flew, and traveled, and set your mind to attempt careers and learn skills. You have taken up the cause of others so many times and fought for the underdog.

You have made a life of purpose and forged into areas that have forced me to respond to  your big ideas with a phrase I coined back in your college days…

“That sounds like a great opportunity.”

And here’s a little secret, that is code for “Your mom is going to need some time on her knees to get happy about that plan.” 

You weren’t afraid to think and to be adults who fend for themselves. You have learned to wait for the things you want to happen and yet you have also rolled up your sleeves to do your part.

And along the way, you realized that your mom doesn’t really have a bent to walk with big confident steps and her arms swinging boldly at her side with her head held high…even if she would like to be that way. 

You figured out that sometimes she does manage to pull it off…but a lot of times she moves slowly and sometimes she just rambles…and many a time all she could pull off was a crawl. 

So here is to you birds that made me a mom and the dad who held us all together with the glue of steadfastness, consistency and wisdom.

Here’s to the laughter and the tears and the way we all have grown up together. 

And here’s to the years and growth that lay before us all as we….

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pc/Graham

journey onward <3

Mother’s Day thoughts {Part 2}

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I spent a lot of the day thinking about my own grandma’s as I prepared for what to share today. 

They were so different. 

Emma Grace Ploch lived in Louisville and had a very serious face. But then, by the time I came on the scene she had lost her mom when just a child, buried a newborn son and a husband, raised a family through the Great Depression and the Great Flood of 1937 and maybe she was just tired. 

She wore serious house dresses and black lace up shoes with hose that were mysteriously rolled just above the knee. She made fabulous meals like fried chicken and ambrosia salad and roasts that melted in your mouth and produced vegetable dishes that made this kid love them. She used liberal amounts of bacon grease she kept in a crock on the stove top in a kitchen roughly the size of our master bathroom. 

She loved us well and when I arrived as the youngest grandchild after an eight year dry spell, she dubbed me Pitiful Pearl after a popular rags to riches doll. I heard the story many times….Poor, poor pitiful Pearl she would say as she settled me and it must have been often because for most of my young years that side of the family tended to call me Pearl. 

My dad’s mom was Eugenia Otilla Lochner and she and my grandpa and all dad’s siblings had headed to Washington State sometime before I was born. Dad spoiled my mom and we spent the major holidays with her side during his years in the Air Force. When he retired we headed back to their Kentucky roots and so I saw his side less. To them, I was and always be Laura Jean.

Because the “Jean” came from their side and so with that I knew…they claimed me whether I saw them much or little. I was one of them. Their Kentucky blood ran deep so it’s more like one word…LaruhJEAN. I can assure you, distance does not dim love of family and I adored them all even if I didn’t log as much real time with them as my mom’s side.

As I remember, Grandma Lochner wore pants often to do her yard work. She too was a whiz in the kitchen. Like all my dad’s side of the family, you never had to wonder what she was thinking and it was usually a colorful display of language we weren’t allowed to use when things got heated.

In her 70’s she rode the Amtrak from Washington to Louisville to visit us and when she was in her late 80’s we sprung her from her retirement home and took her to a Mariner’s game. She walked with those bow legs, that I would one day watch my dad inherit, down a mountain of stairs where she dined on hot dogs and chips and cheered her team on. 

They were magical people, my grandma’s. I didn’t think of them as old or as my parents’ parents. To me they were in a category of people that are set apart. Unique from all other humans. They either had time for me or they put an apron on me and put me to work next to them. 

I can’t say I really “knew” them beyond that they were my grandma’s.

I can’t say I remember them telling me their stories or explaining what made them tick. I’m sure they never shared their struggles or their hopes and dreams. They were a different generation, those grandma’s and folks just kept those inward thoughts to themselves. 

Or they were two busy frying chicken and canning asparagus to dwell on them much.

While my real time spent in the presence of these two women varied in quantity, the quality of those hours remain equal in my grown up heart. I cherish every memory I can drum up and who they were is part of who I am. 

Even if I didn’t know their deepest thoughts or have a working knowledge of their history, they live in my memories for the times I spent with them in the years I had them.

I wonder what our grandchildren will remember of me. 

I can’t write the script for them. 

It will be captured in the moments spent together.

It will be their individual wirings that pick up what matters out of who I was to them.

I am not sure they will aptly portray me the way I saw myself. But I will exist in their memories in the ways they experienced our times together and pieced together through what their parents tell them about me.

I am thankful beyond words and humbled to hear them refer to them as “their” Lola.

As if I’m not really a person and more like they kind of own me through a God-ordained relationship.

I have joined the ranks of the likes of those women that birthed my parents. 

I may dress differently and use new-fangled machines to get my chores done…when I actually do them. I may use a cell phone and not a black rotary dial with a party line extension. But I have the same things to give these offspring of our offspring that those women who helped shape me gave their grandchildren. 

Unconditional love. 

Unhurried time. 

Unlimited attention. 

For as long as God allows me. 

And my prayers for them will last…

To infinity and beyond <3

I sure would love to sit with you today over a cup of coffee and hear your Grandma stories.

Since we can’t do that because I am headed out the door in about five minutes to go be Lola to the band of brothers and little miss thing, let’s take some time today to read an amazing Grandma story found in the book of Ruth.

Let’s read about Naomi and the way God worked through deep loss, a foreign daughter-in-law and a tightened heart to place a grandchild in the lap of this widowed woman to remind her she was not forsaken.

Read it with fresh eyes as you watch this grandma of the Root of Jesse discover laughter and joy at the end of a long journey of sorrow.

If you have received Christ, she’s one of your Grandma stories too.

Precious.

Have a blessed day <3

Mother’s Day thoughts {part 1}

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one of my fav pics of my mom and dad <3

Unless you have been living under a rock, which you wouldn’t be on the internet reading this if you have … so never mind…you know what this Sunday is. 

Sales fliers, email ads, social media….all the florists, jewelers and restaurants are promoting their Mother’s day offerings. 

So I thought I would end the week addressing the elephant in the room. 

Because we live in a time of increased awareness that people around us are in different places and stages and so there are beaucoup articles and posts for those who are struggling with what they don’t have, never had or lost on this day. 

I came across a prayer recently where I was asking God to help me to care for and love my mom, dad, and in-laws well.

One by one, lines were drawn through those precious names as they went to be with Jesus. 

So I get it. 

I know the strange feeling of walking past the card display and realizing neither of our moms are somewhere on planet earth. 

It is a strange feeling and; whatever your relationship with that woman who gave birth to you (or raised you as if she did) was/is like, may I offer some suggestions that I have found God lay on my heart to deal with some of those feelings?

  • If your mom is still alive but your relationship is not as you would hope it could be, may I recommend you take some time to ask God to bring healing, restoration, grace into that relationship. Ask Him to help you love her more and see her more with His eyes. Ask Him to show you places where you need to ask for forgiveness and if He answers that prayer with conviction, then swallow your pride and apologize. You will never regret this. Believe me, I know from experience. 

  • If your mother is no longer living and you are missing her terribly, look around you and think of the “older” mentor type women God has placed in your life. I put older in quotes because sometimes our mentors are not older in years, but more mature spiritually – so don’t limit yourself! I have quite a few young friends that I consider to be a great mom-voice of sound wisdom in my life! Send that one or two or more women a card of appreciation – not necessarily as a Mother’s Day card, but just a note letting them know how much they mean to you. 

  • Take some time to just sit down and reflect on your mom – living or deceased. Thank God for her and for the specifics of how she influenced your life. If you harbor unresolved hurts – again whether she is still with you or not – be intentional in releasing those into God’s hands and allow Him to heal any wounds you carry. He does not judge us for our pain. He made us and He understands us. But He also made your mom and the same love that flows to YOU, flows to her. If you know you should have apologized and she is no longer alive or mentally able to receive that apology, again…remember – Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Go to Him and talk to Him and release that regret to Him to let Him heal you.

These are just a few things I have found helpful for myself and I hope they bless you. 

We all may not be mothers, but we all had one. 

Whatever that looked like or looks like, God is interested in the health of your soul and hers. 

Praying for your hearts today <3