Category Archives: Encouragement

Maintaining consistency in our maintenance of what matters <3

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I hope you have had a good week.

For me it has flown by but I feel I have accomplished a lot which is always a good feeling when Friday rolls around. 

Russ has been car shopping and so I will be saying goodbye to my second home and moving the kleenex box, phone charger, quarter for the Aldi cart and two little booster seats into a new vehicle in a few weeks. 

I have a lot of miles logged and a lot of memories echoing around that car and I love it dearly, but after I test drove a newer model and then climbed back into ours a few weeks ago, I had to admit it looks a little shabby. 

The finish on the steering wheel is worn off in the places I habitually grip it as I make my way along the highways and byways.

The floor mats can be vacuumed, but there are marks and dirt that no longer can be rubbed off. 

In the back, little tennis shoes have rubbed marks into the leather and there is a deep scratch in the front of the glove box where my OCD self just had to straighten the tilt on the propane tank Russ was taking to be filled…and I guess I didn’t realize he had wedged it that way for a purpose…whoops.

That vehicle is well loved for sure and has served us well, but I don’t take care of it like I did when it was brand spanking new. 

Back then I slowed carefully for speed bumps, I took turns cautiously and I eyed the road for potholes as if they were landmines. 

It’s funny isn’t it, how we treat new things with such care and then as they start showing wear and tear and get familiar we just are not as careful with them.

The newness wears off and so does our diligence to tend and be tender. 

Let’s not be like that with the things that truly matter eternally.

Relationships in family and with friends, our faith journey, our calling. 

Let’s not get lazy and allow neglect become the norm for our souls. 

Scripture calls it stirring up our faith and we are to do that in one another. 

In an age where encouragement can be as simple as a text away, let’s be quick to fan the flames of love and hope and joy for our fellow travelers. 

Well loved and well worn hearts are what the Gospel is all about. 

May the Lord bless each of you as you journey onward today <3

Save your energy for the real battles <3

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I’m glad you stopped by. I really am. 

Today’s thought is a brief one and springs from something God showed me a number of years ago that came to mind as I was driving home from work yesterday. 

I was running late to the next thing on the day’s calendar, only because I tend to book things tightly together and forget I can’t beam myself places….Star Trek, you let me down on what the 21st century was going to offer.

As I was driving and stewing because…late again…my mind was also hopping ahead into the next couple of weeks and different things I will need to be prepared for and working through possible snags…because apparently I can beam my imaginary self into the future.

Anxiety began to cloud my vision as my emotions became engaged in things that may not even happen, and that’s when God reminded me of a lesson He taught me in May many years past.

I know it was May because we had experienced a rather significant relationship breach to our family and it was Graduation Season. 

For parents of teens, you know this as back to back open houses where you basically eat the same meatballs, veggies/fruit/cheese trays and cake at a variety of houses and venues with the same forty people over the course of three weekends.

As our family hauled our raw emotions into the minivan and headed off to the first of these events where most likely someone would ask us questions that would trigger awkward tears, I found myself almost hyperventilating from grief. 

And then God whispered a truth into my heart and reminded me that at the current moment in time, I was safely sitting in the sanctuary of our family circle. 

He asked me to look around and show Him the actual people and conversations I was getting all worked up about. 

No one in the car was talking about the situation. I was not required at that time to respond to anything. 

Our local Christian radio was playing worship songs, my wonderful better half was driving and we had our kiddos quietly sitting in the back. 

It was indeed well with my soul in that sacred space for that time. 

I felt Him press upon my heart the reality that I needed to just breathe and rest…to trust Him for whatever lay ahead that He would give me the words needed and the strength and if all I could muster were tears, then that, too, would be in His hands.

The tension slipped away and I learned an important lesson which I have to re-visit frequently. 

It comes from Scripture and it speaks to my soul regarding not worrying about tomorrow…or the next hour…or two weeks from now…how you are going to deal with this or that situation or confrontation. 

All we have to deal with is right now. 

We do not have to work up energy to deal with things we imagine might happen. 

All we need to do is exist in this moment. 

One breath at a time. 

And then another. 

Moment by moment, day by day….He is faithful <3

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 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