Famous Last Words ………… What will yours be?


I kept reading the words over and over.  The priest who I spoke with just the day before was dead.  A faithful, elderly and supposedly retired priest who served the Lord till his very last day when he sat in the confessional booth to help others confess their sins to God.  I am so glad I went. I am so glad I waited in the extra long line to speak with him.  As I waited I kept asking God, “what sins are separating me from you?” What relationships in my life are not right and keeping me from a closer walk with you God? As I waited in line and listened to the soft peaceful music, the holy spirit reminded me of individuals in my life who I still had not fully forgiven. A tightness of heart occurred when I thought of them and I knew I wanted a clean, soft heart that overflowed with Love instead.

I shared my desire to fully forgive these individuals with the recently departed Father. Then, I received the gift and privilege of some of his last words on this broken, messy earth.   He wisely told me, “About forgiveness…..we are commanded to forgive;  but remember that just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean that you will forget what happened to you. That is not the way humans were created.”

His final words on forgiveness reminded me of some other famous last words. The Final words of Jesus Christ as he slowly died on the cross.

“Father, forgive them,  they know not what they do”. (Luke 23:34) 

Who is Jesus forgiving in the statement above? not just the Romans…He is a personal God who is speaking to You and I. We are the “they”.

Sometimes an earthly example (a criminal before a judge scenerio) can help to explain an overwhelmingly incredible and mind-blowing spiritual truth. So imagine that you are about to go before God (the Judge and Jury) and make an account for all your lifelong sins and transgressions. You speak with your attorney and confess all that you have done throughout your life as well as all the missed opportunities to help others. So your advocate attorney goes before the judge (whose job is to make sure that Heaven remains perfect with no sin or sadness or sickness in it)  and says, “Your Honor……Yes. If she came to Heaven her sin would ruin it.  I agree with you that she deserves the death penalty and then she should spend eternity in Hell. She is guilty and justice says that she needs to die as a consequence.”

You stand shocked with your mouth ajar.”What?  I thought you were going to defend me ?” you start screaming at your attorney, ” Why don’t you help me?”

You fall to the ground in despair.  When you look up, the holy, white-hot  face of your advocate blinds you with Love as He declares boldly, “I will take on your death sentence. I love you and want you to spend eternity in Heaven where there is no sin. So I will destroy death and sin by dying for you and rising from the dead.”

The weight of all our sins: past, present and future fell upon His shoulders so the penalty would be accomplished. For you and I personally participated when God allowed mankind to torture and kill His only begotten son. My selfishness nailed his feet to the beam. Your sin became a thorn in his already wounded body.

Now you are overcome with joy and start to sob as the handcuffs and shackles of sin are released from your legs , “Thank you … oh Jesus…. thank you so much. I Believe. I Believe that you paid the penalty once and for all. Thank you for the gift of being set free from the death penalty and everlasting death.”

God in the flesh kneels down to embrace you and tells you that you may now enter the Holy of Holies because the veil of separation has been torn open. You now have special access to the throne of Almighty God. He calls you His child for you are now a member in the family of God. He calls you friend because He did this to restore the intimate relationship that Adam and Eve had with God before they sinned.  He calls you princess because you are a now a flawless, beautiful daughter of the King of Kings.  Your time on earth will never be the same…….. as well as beyond.

You slowly rise up and in awed thanksgiving you ask,  “After all you did for me….Jesus, what can I do for you??”

And then you remember His last words on the cross.

Father,  Forgive them……..they know not what they do. 

gulp.  Did I just say that I was willing to do anything for God after all He did for me? But this is sooo hard in this broken world when people can be so mean.  “But Lord…..They made my life so much harder when I needed help and was already struggling”.

“Yes”, Jesus would answer ” Just like when I suffered on the cross and your sins made my suffering so much harder”.

God came to reconcile with you and wants you to reconcile with those around you as much as it is up to you. (of course  you don’t have to have a relationship with someone to forgive them…in cases of abuse etc…we need to set boundaries)  God wants the best for us and unforgiveness causes stress that can lead to disease and most of separation from God.  He wants your heart to be free and not tight. There is a difference from remembering and dwelling on our past. Look up at the cross of Jesus, and not back at how others have hurt you. Focus on how you are now free from death row; from eternal separation from God and perfect heaven. Forgiving them means you are going to let your Big protective Heavenly Father deal with what happened.  You are releasing the situation into His Hands and asking God to take the bitter root of unforgiveness out of your heart. 

Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, and that no bitter root spring up to cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.  Hebrews 12 14-15 

Trust that God will use your painful experiences for good someday. He can transform all things that we offer up into His loving and firm hands. Ask God to give you compassion for the person you struggle to forgive. Ask God to help you to forgive as we humanly can not do this alone. Remember that you have special access? Use it.

Each time a thought comes to your mind, say out Loud, “I forgive them in the Name of Jesus.” Forgiveness is a process that takes time. While you may always remember what happened, the sting will slowly go away and your heart will be light and free.

What will your last words be?  

I hope we can say together on that resurrection Day, “Father, I forgave them as you forgave me. Thank you for setting my heart and soul free.”

Don’t Ever Forget the End of His Story….. when you are weary and weepy from grief.


Transformation. One of my favorite examples in nature is the grounded, ugly caterpillar who transforms into a beautiful butterfly who joyfully flutters into the fresh, spring sky.  Similarly, one of my favorite Jesus stories is how He transformed six large stone jars filled with plain water miraculously into wine. Not just any wine……the best wine.

Do you feel like the ugly, grounded caterpillar today? or do you feel as empty as a stone jar? Perhaps you have cried so many tears that you believe you could have filled one of those 30 gallon containers. I have scribbled notes in my Bible next to the Wedding of Cana story during three desert times in my life in which I felt like a caterpillar struggling in a dark cocoon to be set free from the downward pull of grief. Three times when I felt as cold and empty as one of the stone jars.  The notes read : I feel weak. a second time: so tired, empty. and third: weepy, headache.

But those notes are not the end of my story because I came and sat at the feet of Jesus day after day and He gently changed those tear-filled jars into sweet, joyful wine. He helped me to shed the cocoon of sadness and grief.

And  next to those sad words during those dry times, this verse is scribbled in my bible next to the Wedding of Cana (John Ch. 2)

I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows. Jeremiah 31: 13

Let us never forget the end of the story.  In the physical, caterpillars change into butterflies and the best wine is produced during dry seasons when the vine roots go deep and the grapes produced are the sweetest.  In the spiritual, ordinary water is transformed into sweet wine, wine is changed into the redeeming blood of the Lamb and God changes our weary, weepy hearts into hearts overflowing with hope and joy.

What did Mary tell the servers in this first miracle of Jesus? she told them,

Do “whatever He tells you.”

So your role in this transformation is to trust and obey. Sometimes like the butterfly we are to just wait and let God heal in His own sweet time as He  transforms our broken hearts. While we wait we can show our trust by writing down what we are thankful for and worshiping God even in the dark cocoon when we do not understand the whys.  I have found that we don’t need to know the Why’s…We just need to get to know the “who”. The names of God are adjectives that help us to know Him better. Meditate on the names and the character of God.  (He is love, He is good, and He is in Control  is a phrase I repeat often when struggling in a dark cocoon of doubt or confusion)

Another positive choice would  be to join a support group and let God use people to show His love and to help you heal.  Also, exercise and fresh air is such a necessary gift so go out often and take walks in nature and see the beauty and hope that God desires to share with you.  Reach out and seek to help others, as the servers took action and filled the jars with water. Allow Jesus’ touch to transform these acts of service into healing for you and those around you.

So my advice would be to start the day in quiet with Jesus and in His word (write down three things you are thankful for in your journal after you write out all your emotions and questions)  and then seek ways to show care for your body and those around you while you wait for transformation.

Nothing is wasted in God’s kingdom and so during this time of slow, painful drought is when your spiritual roots will spread down the deepest.  One cannot race past this time of growth and strengthening, just as one should not remove the butterfly before his wings are strong enough to fly. Trust and obey during this desert time. Bit by Bit keep seeking out the next best choice. Make healthy choices for your mind, body and soul.  Staying hydrated sometimes is the first best choice if you’ve been crying or have a headache.

Just as the Jesus saved the best Wine for the 2nd half of the wedding reception, we believe that God promises the same for His children. He promises the Best is yet to be…..in this world and beyond.

So…….What do the final verses of the Greatest book of all time say…….God’s final promises to His people ?

Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain for the old order has passed away. Behold, I make all things new. ( Rev. 21: 3-5 )




When You Get Caught Speeding for the 2nd Time



“Noooooooo!” I screamed in my head as a policeman stepped out into the street and motioned for me to pull off into a side street that included more police and cars who also had been caught in a local speed trap.  I had been enjoying  my christian rock station that my family jokes changes my gas peddle foot to lead.  My joy soon popped like a balloon as my heart sunk and my breathing increased.  For this was not the first time that I had been pulled over. The last time just a weeks earlier. So while silently I prayed, “Please Lord …have mercy…please let this be a warning”.  I also thought,” but…..I deserve a ticket.” I had been give the gift of a warning before and I knew better.

An officer came to my window  and announced that I had been driving at 44 miles per hour in a 3o mph zone. “I didn’t know” I mumbled.  Of course I wasn’t going to argue. Out of respect for the officer and his role but also because I am prone to driving too fast and I should know better.  I’m sure he was correct.  I started to condemn myself for I hadn’t learned from the other time. He took my driver’s licence and registration

As the painful wait continued,  I prayed for  mercy again knowing that soon I may have to deal with points on my driving record (increased insurance costs etc…)  and an angry husband. Most of all, I would be facing a conscience who wouldn’t stop condemned myself for doing the same mistake once again.  Time dragged on as I anticipated the consequences that I would soon face.

The young officer finally came back and told me that I had received just a warning! “Oh thank you Officer. God bless you.” I told him twice over.

As I drove away, my soul felt free and with a grateful heart I keep saying over and over…” thank you Lord ….for grace upon grace. I deserved a punishment and you set me free. Oh Thank you Jesus.”

Have you ever received mercy when you didn’t deserve it? Have you ever had a Red Sea crossing moment when God carried you from the slavery of Sin to total forgiveness and freedom? This is what it means to be “born from above”.  God sent his only begotten son Jesus to take our punishment so we could drive away scout free.

 Beautiful, marvelous undeserved Grace upon Grace.

In your mercy you led the people you redeemed; in your strength you guided them to your holy dwelling.                 Exodus 15:13   

These are the words of the ex-slave Israelites after they walked to freedom as the Red sea was parted and then swallowed up their captors. They danced and sang on the other side as they thanked God for His saving grace.

Now imagine these feelings of relief, joy and gratitude  and then times them by a billion trillion and that must be like the true freedom a Christian receives who has died and is set free from their aging body.  A believer whose soul has been released into the arms of his heavenly father.

Beautiful, marvelous, grace upon undeserved grace.


When Your Life Feels Like a Confusing Box of Chocolates by Lynn Moratis

Hello Sweet Sisters:)
Please help me to welcome our sweet and salty sister Lynn Moratis. Lynn is a true Proverbs 31 woman who with great style wears the many hats of:  wife, mother of two young men, nurse and vice president of a regional care coordination program. Sit back and enjoy a bonbon as she writes Part 2 on her teaching on Jesus being “the bread of Life.”
Do you ever feel like you are  in the movie “Forest Gump”, when Forest so honestly relays the line ” Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, You Never Know What Your Going to Get”? I think we all feel that way some days, don’t we? Thankfully, though there is an answer and that answer is Jesus.
I’ve never doubted my belief in Jesus and the one that God has sent to us. However, at times I did not pursue a close relationship with him and this left me empty. It also reminds me that even though you don’t always know what to expect, he does. He will meet your needs, he will fill you up. It’s not always what we wanted, expected or hoped for, but recognizing and leaning on the power of Jesus gives us the reassurance to keep going on.
Have you ever thought that having a closer relationship with him would be hard, that it’s not obtainable? That you have to make major changes to do this? It’s really simple, so read below to see what he tells us about believing in him.
Remember now that Jesus has been busy throughout the book of John teaching, preaching and working miracles – all leading to his crucifixion. The people are well aware of the miracles he is working. That being said though; they are still looking for more, but he plainly tells them to seek spiritual fulfillment:
“John 6:27, Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed”.
They are looking for a sign from Jesus as they ask him about what they need to do to follow God, but like many things in life the answer is more simple that we would think as Jesus tells them in John 6: 29:
“This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent”.
Jesus is making it very clear that he is the bread of life. They are seeking a physical sign and he’s sharing a spiritual fulfillment. He tells them in verse 33 “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven; and giveth life unto the world”.
In verses 35 -40 we learn that Jesus is the source, but the true provider/giver of the source is God the Father. We are learning throughout these verses, Jesus is the real bread, while the people are looking for more, the real source, the real bread is right in front of them. It’s obvious, but they aren’t getting the obvious.
Again, much like our lives, we sometimes don’t see what is right in front of us. Jesus was obedient to his Father’s will. What is our role? What is expected of us from these verses, what was Jesus asking the people to do? Again, I must say it is simple – we just need to believe and pursue him and in return we have the gift of eternity. Of course in our belief, our lives should demonstrate him: love, service to others, pursuit of holiness, pursuit of wisdom.
Believe and pursue him – I can’t think of a better way to prepare for the unexpected chocolate’s we are all sure to face.
In my journey I have found that he loves us unconditionally, he is a true friend, he is the true source when other’s fail. A relationship with him is like your favorite food, dress, or gym routine- it’s meant to be shared, so other’s see him in you. Sharing him is easily seen in how we live our lives, how we speak and how we forgive.
Please, don’t keep the true bread of life a secret and don’t be afraid to pursue him, the more you pursue him, the more he will reveal himself to you and you become like him. I can’t think of a anybody else I’d rather be like – can you?

Running on Empty- Go to the Source Part 1 by Lynn Moratis

Hello Sweet Sisters:)
Please help me to welcome our sweet and salty sister Lynn Moratis. Lynn is a true Proverbs 31 woman who with great style wears the many hats of:  wife, mother of two young men, nurse and vice president of a regional care coordination program. She taught last Monday at the Sweet Sister small group on the Name of Jesus being the “bread of Life”.
Running on Empty – Go to the Source
John 6: 1-13
In the above referenced scripture, we learn all about the miracle of the Feeding of 5,000. Set upon a grassy mountainside, with crowds following Jesus and his disciples to learn from him and watch the miracles he has been performing. This day is no different, 5,000 have gathered, many traveling miles by foot, some by boat. Jesus is famous, they were giving him all the attention at this point. He recognizes their physical hunger and wants to feed them, he ask his disciples for their recommendation, Philip is skeptical and Andrew is aware of the cost it would take to feed them, but also that Jesus has the Power to feed them. He uses a little boy and his meager food offering and feeds the 5,000 from 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish. We know that this meal was not a luxury offering, it was meager, it was the food of the poor, but Jesus took something meager, and made it sufficient for all to eat.
Truly a miracle, truly an example of his generosity, his humbleness, his charity and his compassion. He fed them all. 
In today’s fast pace, I often realize I can let myself run on empty, going and going. In the past few years, I’ve found myself looking for satisfaction that may not be reasonable because my attention has been on the wrong types of satisfaction. Thinking about what I want or need versus realizing what I already have. Focusing on achieving more and realizing that true happiness is not in what I have or what I earn, but comes from going to the true source, the one with the power to perform miracles and the only one who promises me eternity. The one who shows us how to live and the one who lived a meager life on earth and gave it all up for me and you.
There is so much that happens on this one day of many miracles, but it also a great example for me to realize, yes Jesus provides for us physically and he did so for the 5,000 in John 6: 1-13. However, many times our hunger isn’t physical. When we find ourselves running on empty, he’s there for us, he is the Source. All we need to do is reach out and and believe in the true source – Jesus.

Relax…….God’s in Charge


Dear Sweet Sister:

Do you delight in hearing the love story of how a husband and wife first met? I sure do! When Dave and I meet another couple for the first time, my favorite question to ask is, “How did you two meet each other?” Most often, their eyes light up as they tell the story together of how their love story began. Oh how I love to tell my story of how I met my husband of 28 years. I share this as a way to encourage the single sister that feels called to marriage but is still waiting on God to find her life mate. I share this for the married sister who needs to be reminded that God is always in control. Lastly, I share this for my future granddaughters and my great-great-granddaughters in generations to come.  How did I met my husband? I’m so glad you asked. Here you go:

Act 1.  January 31, 1986 Friday afternoon:
Alone in my freshman dorm room, I lay in my bed confused and disappointed. Tonight was the night I was supposed to perform a skit entitled, “If God Talked back” for the Intervarsity Christian Group on campus. I had practiced for hours and memorized all my lines and I was just so excited to finally use my acting skills to give eternal truths. (I performed in high school and on the Gettysburg stage during my first semester but all the effort has no spiritual message or purpose.)  When the skit was given to me over Christmas break, I was ecstatic to use my time and talent for God and to impact other students. During that Christmas break, Janice and I prayed for all those on the campus. How excited I was once back on campus to practice and perform this skit.

But my plans came crashing in when Lee (the classmate who was to play the part of God) called and explained to me that he had a family emergency and needed to take a train home. This just did not make sense to me. Why would God allow Lee to leave the night of our performance? Dinnertime was approaching, but I didn’t feel much like eating or getting out of bed.

I looked upward and the poster caught my eye. In this poster above my bed, a cute plump panda happily lays on his back in a grassy field while the words above him boldly proclaim, “Relax, God’s in Charge.” I can still vividly remember that poster, 30 years later. (do you see the poster in the photo below?…upper left side above my head) 


So I had a choice to make. Would I wallow in self-pity and disappointment, or would I trust God and do the next best thing which was to simply go to the cafeteria for dinner?

This one choice would change my life and if you are one of my great-granddaughters, you are alive because of it.

Act 2. The same Friday, evening:
I find a seat in the Gettysburg cafeteria at a table with my dear friend Janice. There are some new students sitting with her that I haven’t met before (she was a sophomore) and soon I am explaining my situation in true dramatic manner. I bemoaned to the group, “I have all my lines memorized for tonight’s show and then God took the first train out of town.” So I guess you could say I was holding onto the self-pity part just a smidgen?

Then a tall handsome young man with broad shoulders volunteered to play the part of God that night. (I had made a list years before that I wanted a husband with a good sense of humor and broad shoulders that I could cry on.) This mysterious  young man had never attended an Intervarsity Christian fellowship group meeting (despite being invited several times) and had never acted before.

You see, he also had a choice in that moment. He later explained that he had dreamed multiple times of a woman with full cheeks and lips (I once had the nickname chipmunk cheeks) who he believed was going to be his wife. She was washing dishes in the dreams (and yes I’ve done a lot of dishes in the past 28 years, but since Dave is such a fantastic cook I am happy to do so).

Once he spotted me at that path-changing supper, he said I looked just like the girl in his dreams (literally). This gave him the courage to volunteer and stand in front of the intervarsity group that night.

Act 3. Later that night:
Dave stood behind me and read his lines from the script. I kneeled in onesie footed pajamas and pretended to be praying my nighttime prayers as I played an 8-year-old girl who recites The Lord’s Prayer each night without  knowing what the prayer really means.

“Hallowed? I don’t know, what does it mean?” She asks. God explains, “It means honored, holy, and wonderful.” She responds thoughtfully, “Yes, that makes sense.”  

And then she keeps on praying.   

“Give us this Day our daily bread…” and to her shock and the audience’s amusement God answers with,
“I think you’ve had enough of that bread.”  

As the girl continues to recite The Lord’s Prayer she receives help from God on how to forgive a friend’s betrayal and ultimately deepen her relationship with the Lord. Dave enjoyed playing the part of God, and I was thrilled to perform that night to my Gettysburg peers.

The following Friday, I performed a mime as Sonbeam the clown with Janice, whose clown name was Salty, for the same Intervarsity Group.  Dave came to the meeting, and afterwards we enjoyed hot fudge sundaes with a group at the Lincoln Diner. On the way home, with me still dressed as a clown: rainbow wig and white faced, he asked me out on a date. I’ve often kidded him that because I was a ‘mime’ clown I wasn’t able to say no. Of course I nodded  “yes!”


Act 4. A few months later:
Dave and I joined the debate/forensics group on campus and visited other colleges/Universities to perform “If God Talked Back.”  But the real Act 4 is that we began to date and our love story continued. We dated three and a half years and married in my childhood United Methodist Church as our Gettysburg priest Father Phil assisted.

Dave is my best friend on this earth and God continues to guide me and bless me through him.   Our union has produced four children (three on earth, and one in heaven) and a thriving preschool business that we both enjoy.


So dear single sister, my advice for you is to be patient and seek out ways to use your talents to honor and serve God. Join a Christian singles group or find like-minded friends. Hold out for a husband who will have self control and wait for you. You are worth the wait, my sweet sister.

To my married sister, are you sitting on your bed in self pity wondering why things are not going as you planned? Remember the panda poster and trust God that He is in control. Show this trust in your actions. Don’t hide away in your room, but let go of your tightly-gripped dreams. Release your own expectations and trust in God’s character. When things don’t go your way, repeat these three statements:

God is Good.
God is Love.
God is in Control.

When you are not sure as to what to do next, just do the next best thing. Our lives are a result of our choices. Keep making small loving choices for God.

To my great-grands, I love you. I am praying for you. Pray and wait for the one who will lead you closer to God.

For my sweet sister or grands who have slipped and desire to go back and start over, take heart, for it is never too late to start anew. God is all about redos and restarts.  

Relax, God’s in charge. 

For My Sisters Who Are Grieving this Christmas/ How to help Our Grieving Sisters


   My experienced friends warned me that certain days of the year could pull a bereaved person down into a quicksand-like spiral as the memory of the past rubs salt into the still-wounded present. Holidays and anniversaries magnify the loss of a loved one, each event having the potential to drag under the people left behind. As a new Christmas season approached, I hoped that during the second anniversary of my baby girl Megan’s birth and death, I would resist both fighting the pull of grief and trying to speed through this potentially heartbreaking time. For as a victim in quicksand soon learns, both thrashing around and trying to rush through it could result in more loss. Continuing to fight causes the quicksand victim to further sink, just as I could further sink into my grief and self pity. Panicking and trying to speed the process of escape causes the victim to sink faster, just as I could push myself further into the pit of despair by not taking my time to acknowledge and face my grieving.

The Key with both quicksand and with grief is to move slowly, take small steps, and be willing to let others pull you out.


     Two years before, I gave birth to a premature baby girl on December 23. The most intense forty days of my life followed her emergency birth as my husband and I watched our baby girl go on and off a respirator and survive bowel surgery, only to watch her take her final breath in my arms. Megan weighed just 2 pounds 4 ounces, but she was perfectly formed, a true gift from God. As she struggled for her life, we struggled against two major snowstorms to bring her my breast milk. I felt so torn between visiting the hospital and caring for my other two daughters, Mary Jo and Katie, at home.

As Megan took her final breath, however, I felt God’s complete peace and an awareness of his sovereignty. She shared forty days with us on earth, the number the early church fathers held as “the necessary period of cleansing or testing and strengthening which allows the fullness of wisdom to become a reality.” According to the Bible, Jesus spent forty hours in the tomb between good Friday and Easter morning, as well as forty days in the desert while being tempted. Noah and his family spent forty days on the ark. Moses fasted for forty days before he received the Ten Commandments, and the Israelites wandered for forty years before entering the Promised Land. Megan completed her forty days on earth and was now free from pain, praising God in her own Promised Land – Heaven.

The name Megan means “will achieve might and strength,” and I knew in my innermost depths her life was complete at forty days. While most days I could trust in God’s perfect wisdom for my family and me, as a sensitive and shortsighted human I still felt the loss of a loved one. Grieving is a healthy and necessary process whose emotions and tears should not be buried or ignored. I spent the following year writing in my journal and creating a scrap/photo album to include the photos, cards, and letters sent to commemorate Megan’s short life. A room was dedicated to her at my home church and Mary Jo, Katie, and I made frequent stops to hang bulletin boards and set up supplies. A year and a half later, a baby boy named Jacob blessed our family (Jacob means “the supplanter”). The waves of grief diminished as time and understanding increased. I turned to Jesus and His Holy Word for comfort and I felt my own faith strengthen. At times, I relished in the thought that I had a child in Heaven, for is that not our ultimate goal as parents?

However, as Christmas and Megan’s second birthday approached, my fears of how I would handle the days increased. Christmas was centered on a baby boy who was miraculously born. The absence of a miracle for Megan would seem greater with one less stocking to fill. On the other hand, if I filled a stocking as some bereaved parents do, I have one less child to unpack all the goodies. The sore empty wound that I still carried (and will always carry in a lesser degree until I am reunited with my baby) seemed such a contrast to the cheery hustle and bustle of Christmas. What could I do instead of planning her birthday party? What could I buy instead of party favors, cake and ice cream? Would anyone but me remember Megan’s birthday?

     Christmas surrounded me with its cinnamon smells, jingle bells, glitter and gold tinsel. Could it have been only two years before, alone in my cold sterile hospital room that I spent Christmas morning? I was supposed to be six months pregnant, I thought. Instead, my little baby girl struggled for life in intensive care. My staples stung from the emergency cesarean, a physical reminder of the stinging feeling of sitting alone in a hospital bed trying to imagine the reactions of my girls as they opened their gifts at home. Two years later, especially during anniversary remembrances, the sore emptiness of loss was ever present and I feared I would sink into the quicksand of self-pity and depression. “Lord, I can’t let Megan’s birthday take away the peace and Joy of Christmas from my other children. Help.”

     The Sunday before Christmas, we stopped by Megan’s grave after church. Before I opened the car door, I spotted something lying on her tombstone. I burst into tears of joy as I realized someone had left a tiny Christmas tree in Megan’s memory. Little ornaments of angels, Mary and Joseph, adorned the little tree. Attached was a card inside a plastic bag. Who could have been so kind? Who remembered Megan? With trembling hands, I ripped open the bag. As I read the card, my questions melted into understanding. Of course –  It was from Irene and Rich, friends of ours who had lost their own baby a year before mine to SIDS. “Merry Christmas, Megan,” the card read.  “Keep an extra eye out on your Mommy and Daddy, Mary Jo, Katie and Jacob this Christmas. You are forever in their hearts.”  

     I felt God’s love through the gift of that tree. As I thought about how Rich and Irene were able to comfort me because of their own loss, an idea sprouted. Now I had a plan as to how I was going to celebrate Megan’s birthday. My excitement grew as I planned our birthday surprise, and I no longer felt the quicksand pull of self-pity. On December 23rd, I bundled up my children and stopped first at a florist shop and selected a colorful bouquet with roses.


Next, we stopped at a local bookstore. I did not know the owners personally, but I had briefly met their preteen daughter before she died in a bicycling accident years before. She had watched my older daughter at church, and so five-year-old Mary Jo handed the father our bouquet. “What’s this?” he asked. I nodded to the picture of his daughter behind the cash register.  The words sputtered out and my eyes blinked back tears. “This is in memory of your daughter.”

     Later that night, as I pulled into our driveway, I noticed a white rose with a note attached lying in our path. I recognized my friend Terry’s handwriting, but the message felt straight from heaven.  “Mommy, Thank you for giving me a ‘birth’ day.  Love, Megan.”

     Tears of gratitude and release flowed. Like a balm for my wound, the tears flowed as I again felt God’s love and understanding through a friend. More ideas began to spring up as if my tears provided the moisture necessary for germination. Many neighbors, relatives and  friends were approaching quicksand pools of their own, and I hoped to help pull some of them out. The strongest pull is love, I will tell them, and the only escape from a pool of quicksand is to receive God’s love and then to love-pull a friend out of their own.

Confessions of a Survivor Addict / For My Sisters Who Just Want to Escape


Locked in our small powder room, I cling to the phone as my three children knock on the door.
“Mom, she hit me!”  They whine.
“Jacob won’t let me use the computer.”
My husband chimes in with “Amber, have you seen my shoes?”
Ignoring the interruptions I ask my friend on the line, “Have you ever wanted to go to an island and just get away?”  

So begins one of the many videos I have submitted to the reality show, Survivor. If you think I am crazy for wanting to go to a remote location for thirty-nine days and live off the land, eat bugs, wear no makeup (yikes!) and put myself in a situation of possible ridicule and failure, I don’t blame you. I have wondered the same thing time and time again.

The producers must have thought the same thing after seeing the second part of the video we submitted.  My ‘director’ husband created a scene in which I suddenly emerge out of blue sparkling water similar to the scene with Bo Derek in the movie 10. After my exaggerated surprise at being in a beautiful tropical scene, I start to walk toward the shore complete with beaded hair. Boom! My three children run into me and try to knock me down.  As I seek to upright myself I laughingly state, “Make that without children” correcting my fantasy wish.

After some reflection, I realize that the contrast between Bo Derek and me was probably too much for the judges to handle.  I still wonder if they laughed out loud or simply moved their fingers like I was crazy.

Yes, I confess to submitting videos and applications to be on the show. The poor video judges must have held their ears as I sang the Gilligan’s Island theme song complete with new words, “Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, the tale of a homeschool mom…” While the words might have been clever, my singing voice has never been one of my assets.  Nevertheless, creating the videos was always great family fun.

In contrast to the light-hearted videos, the application process forced me to dig deep. One question in particular made me stop and ponder more than the others:

“Who is your hero and why?”

Quickly, I realized that my hero was not a former winner of their show or a famous actor on television.  Instead, I thought of all the unrecognized people serving and caring for God’s people.  My heroes included: parents who care for a terminally ill child or parent, an abused woman who allows her anger and hurt to dissolve into forgiveness, a husband who turns away from temptation, a woman who regrets a past decision and now helps others from making the same mistake, a family who says yes to one more child, a couple who seeks counseling to reconcile a dying marriage, an addict who throws away his addiction because it is destroying his family, the single parent who must play the part of both mom and dad…  the list goes on and on. These people give and forgive when no camera crews are watching. These true survivors endure hardship and heartache often lasting much more thirty-nine days. No odds of winning a million dollars or being a guest on The David Letterman Show. They are not ‘models’ but they model for me who I hope to become.

Despite our family’s best efforts, I never received a call to come and audition. As time went on though, my desire to try again continued. I tried to rationalize and justify my desires. Since the sociology of putting such diverse people in this situation appealed to me, I reasoned they needed a Christian homeschooling mom on the show. I mean, how many homeschooling moms have been on Survivor?  Zero! Of Course, it’s questionable how many have actually applied. I also desired justice, and hated to see someone who lied and cheated win.  I thought perhaps I could show them that the best strategy is to be trustworthy. Perhaps my mission field would consist of millions of viewers.

It was then that I recalled Mother Teresa’s famous saying, “Do small things with great love.”  I was grounded once again as I thought of all the unsung heroes listed above.

I would pray “Lord, take this desire away if it is not of you.”  I would also ask, “Is this just me?”  No, this drive seemed not to be a push from within but a pull from beyond.

Then it happened. My desire to get away became a reality when I went on a silent women’s retreat with a friend. During the 48 hours I began to refocus.  

“What is reality?” The priest asked.  

“Reality is the love of Christ.”  

We were reminded that we are on this earth such a short time in relation to eternity, and we are all called to make the most of the time we have to know, love, and serve Him. My silent retreat was away from the busyness of the day, and far from any Hollywood cameras. What a wonderful and refreshing weekend! I felt spoiled as I enjoyed the delicious food (no bugs) and listened in the peace and quiet. I will never forget how the priest began the first meditation.

“You think that you worked hard to scheme and put together this weekend, but Jesus for all of eternity has been planning this time to be with you.”  

Yes, He had been planning the weekend all along and in it I found once again the reality of His love for me.    

After a short time however, I realized that this time away was not all going to be a romantic bed of roses.

Sometimes God loves us so much that He convicts of something that is harming our body or a relationship with others or with God. 

God convicted me of something that culturally most Christians would not consider a sin.   Slowly God had been bringing others in my path who were walking counter-cultural and I started questioning this choice I was making. Out of obedience I finally surrendered this crutch and realized that I needed to trust God more. As a priest said who walked by and saw my many tears. “God is pruning you, to make you stronger.” When I arrived home I still had work to do to fully to free of this sin, but the relief and joy of being releasing from this hindrance was the best gift that God could ever give. As Jesus proclaimed in John 8: 34

“Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.  A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains.  So if the son frees you, then you will truly be free.”

Jesus Christ is the truth. He came so that we could see the reality of how sin slowly destroys our relationships. Sin poisons our bodies and souls.

The only way we can know Truth is to spend time in the presence of Jesus. For He is the way, the truth and the life.

Randy Alcorn explains, “Jesus is the source of all truth, the embodiment of truth and therefore the reference point of evaluating all truth-claims.”

The more time we spend in His presence and reading His word, the more we can know what “truth is” and to be protected from the lies of the enemy.

How mind blowing is this: The King of Kings wants to sit and chat with you. You don’t need to go to a deserted Island or even a weekend away. I suggest  sitting with a pen and paper and start reading from the Gospel of John.  A  10 minute retreat each morning will change you from the inside out.

You don’t need to escape your life, you need to allow the eyes of your heart to be opened to the Reality of God’s deep love for you. 



For moms who suffer a bruised heart/ 5 things to do as you wait for your prodigal


He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in His bosom (close to His heart), and shall gently lead those that are with young.”   Isaiah 40:11 

Maybe you are crippled with fear over a prodigal child’s choices.  Or maybe the anger of a family member is coming out in sarcastic digs and you are the target. Maybe your child is struggling physically in a hospital bed or perhaps with peer pressure and/or dangerous behaviors.  So many of our young sons and daughters struggle with low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.

Being a mother is not for the faint of heart dear sister  and that’s Okay because you. are. Not. made. of. sugar.

First of all, you have the spirit of the living God living in you. The same one that Raised Christ from the dead.  You have the Word of God aka The Bible (which is the sword of the spirit) and you have the power of a mother’s fervent and persistent prayers.  (and the gift of Sweet sisters who will pray with you and for you if you will be honest and let them know your needs)

So many resources that often go unused because we wring our hands with anxiety and fear.  We can even be pulled down by our child’s mood or situation. Which does. not. help. them. at. all. 

Focus on these five truths Sister Mom:

  1. God did Not cause these hurtful situations
  2. However, God is So Big and Powerful that He will work this All out for good and bring some purpose out of the pain
  3. God loves you and your child more than you could ever imagine
  4. He is in control and anything that happens has been allowed to filter through His loving hands
  5. God  is working on our character as His goal is for us Sister Moms to become more like Christ and for our Children to turn back to a close relationship with the Lord.

We know that All things work for good for those that Love God, who are called according to his purpose, For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that he might be the first born of many brothers. (Sisters too:)             Romans 8:28-29

Our Good Shepherd  is allowing this pain for a purpose. Can we trust Him that He is Loving and good and in control and allowing this to enter into our lives and our child’s life for good?  And isn’t the ultimate good that we will become more like Him? That we and ultimately our children cling more tightly to our Lord?

What can you do as you wait for your child to come back?

  1. Praise God! Yes, one of our greatest weapons is praise. Thank God for what He is doing, has done and plans to do to intervene. Look up praise music on utube or turn on the local christian radio station. (Mine is 95.1 shine FM for Baltimore)
  2. Prayer. Talk to the Shepherd. You are SO close to His heart as He is suffering with you and carrying you in His arms.  The best book I have found and my go-to book for any parental concern is Stormie Omartian’s book, The Power of a Praying Parent. (and for your adult Children) find  it, Read it….She has thought of every trial/temptation possible and has written the perfect prayer and the scripture sword to fight back.
  3.  Wake up early to pray and Listen. Write in a journal what is on your heart. Always end your journal time with three things you are thankful for. The best way to not be pulled down into the pit of pity or depression is to write what you are thankful for. If you are already down in the pit?  Climb out of the pit by thanking God and writing out all the good that you see in your child. Write out 10 good things about your child and share it with them.
  4. Find a prayer partner. Find a friend to prayer with. Use the phone if you don’t live close to each other and pick a set time to chat and pray. If you live close by go for a prayer walk.  Chat while exercising and then end with prayer and a drink.
  5. Write out the promises of God. The Word of God is a weapon. Use it! Speak the truth out loud when you have a negative or anxious thought. You can’t have two emotions at the same time so focus on speaking out truth, and listening to truth…….Perhaps start with writing out the verse Isaiah 40:11 at the top of this post. God promises to hold you close to His heart. You are not alone. He is carrying you and He. will. Not. let. you. fall.

I start out my mornings with my time with Jesus: (Date time:)

1. Contrition: I write what I am sorry for that I did or failed to do the day before (do I need to follow-up and apologize or show I am sorry to someone?) Our hearts need to be clean before we worship and ask for help.

2. Adoration: I write out a character/Name  of God (ex. You are the good shepherd, You are love, You are good, You are my provider) and/ or I play a praise song and worship.

3. Thanksgiving: I write out three things I am thankful for.

4. Supplication: I write out 10 people I am praying for. (Be sure to pray not only for your family members but for the friends/significant others of your child)

Keep knocking, Keep trusting, Keep looking forward and expecting God to work this out for His Good and Glory.

I close with a poem I wrote about how the Good Shepherd sometimes allows our child or ourselves to become broken or bruised so that we would realize our need for God.  May we choose to turn to Jesus, His promises and to His people when we suffer. Then too, may we turn to Him in rejoicing when our suffering has turned to joy and our prodigal has returned home and the banquet begins.


She Told Me I Was the Reason Her Flight Was Delayed #A Divine Appointment



I read the alert in shocked confusion as we scrambled to get ready for a early flight to Las Vegas for a franchise convention. Alert: At least 20 people are dead and more than 100 are injured after a mass shooting during a country music concert in Las Vegas. “What?” I exclaimed as I awoke my husband. There’s been a shooting!!”

I quickly threw some small booklets of the Gospel of John published by the Pocket Testament League into my backpack as we headed out the door for our trip. While I often bring these with me to travel, I had an extra sense of urgency thinking that because of the tragic massacre, God may put in my path someone that is looking for answers.

“Oh Lord,” I prayed. “Help me to be your salt and light at this convention and for those in the Las Vegas area.”

Our convention was held in a hotel in Henderson, NV (just outside of the Las Vegas) and I could see the silhouette of the casinos from my hotel room reminding me to pray throughout the week for all of those involved. The numbers of the victims climbed to 59 and more than 500 injured as the details unfolded and many people at my convention had questions. How could he get away with bringing up so many weapons to the 32nd floor ? What was his motivation? Why didn’t someone stop him earlier?

One colleague expressed how she was feeling the “fragility of Life” and there was a sobering blanket covering our time there.  I didn’t have an opportunity to travel near the Mandalay Bay hotel but during the one night we did venture to the strip we contemplated the windows covered with tarp that the gunman had used to shoot at the music festival attendees. We stayed busy with classes and workshops but often my mind went to the  suffering families who had lost a loved one in the shooting or now cared for an injured family member. “Oh May they know your comfort and peace, Please surround them with Christians who can minister to them”. 

On the flight home, I still had not handed out one of my pocket Testaments but keep my radar on for who God might bring along my path.

The flight was full and so my husband and I waved to a young (20 something) lady to take the window seat. She started off explaining that her first flight was delayed and she missed a flight and finally she was here. Soon she shared that she had been at the music festival where the shooting took place. “I left early as I needed to get home for work…but I left my friend behind.” She felt guilty for leaving her friend. And Her friend who made it out alive, felt guilty with “survivors remorse” for making it out alive and uninjured.

I looked her in the eye (deciding to refrain from reading as I had planned)  and tried my best to be a good listener as she processed the event and the “Why” questions started to flow from her mouth.  Why would someone do something so evil? Why didn’t God stop this? Why were her friend and her spared?

I didn’t know the answer to the Why’s but I knew the answer to the Who question. I also knew that the best way to come to know the “who person” was reading an eyewitness account by one of His earliest followers.

I decided that at the end of the flight I would be handing her the Gospel of John, and throughout the flight sought to be as considerate and caring as I could. I tried to give the gift of a listening ear who truly cared.  I really do care for her and still pray for her weeks later. She is the age of my children who also enjoy music festivals. My maternal instincts kicked in as I asked her questions about her unique name, her best friend who she was visiting, and about how she ended up in Las Vegas. Every so often, I would try to give a little bit of truth when a lull happened in the conversation.

“We have to trust God with those that have been taken. So now ask yourself why you are still here. Realizing our fragility in this Life is a gift.”

As we were about to land, I offered her some gum. I felt for one of the pocket testaments and held it in my hand as we waited for those in front to depart first. Finally I turned to her and handed her the booklet:

I have something to give you that I believe God wants you to have.  This has in it the answers to the questions you have been asking.  The Bible is the greatest book of all and this gospel is the best book to start reading.  And look, there is a picture of a violin and the title says, “Music for the Soul” on front. (as she was just at a music festival)

I waited to see her response. Would she take it politely or worse throw it quickly into her backpack not realizing the treasure she now held?

She grasped the booklet with both hands and held it as if she gratefully realized the immense gift inside.

“I am going to read it” she told me with a smile.

and the next statement she exclaimed blew.me.away.

Now I know why my last flight was delayed.

Yes! I nodded and explained with a knowing smile, “I call this a divine appointment. I believe God brought us together so I could give this to you.”

God knew that during the flight home she would be processing the fragility of life and God knew I was ready with the Gospel of John in my backpack.  I continue to pray for her that she would indeed read the Word of God and come to know The One who came with the cure for death and sin.

So sweet sister.  Be watchful and ready if God brings someone who is thirsty into your path.

Would you like to have some of these pocket Testaments for travel ? To bring on a plane or maybe to your local nursing home? a prison? hairdresser? Just have one in your purse and see what kind of divine appointment our amazing heavenly tour director sets up.

You can go online and receive complimentary copies with a variety of covers. Seasonal covers (thanksgiving and Christmas) to golf (who needs a mulligan?) to ones that have a coloring page cover.

Check out PTL.org (pocket Testament League) and you can pick from a variety of covers that all contain the Gospel of John. Their mission statement is “Mobilizing and equipping Christians to Read, Carry and Share the Word since 1893.”

If you are able to donate something, then the money will help out those who can’t afford to purchase right now but who want to share the answer to the Who question.

Jesus said in the Gospel of John,
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father expect through me.  ( John 14:6) 

I’ve heard others describe Christians as boring. what !?  Well, it is my experience that being a follower of Christ is the most exciting adventure one can have on this earth. Christ followers know personally The Cure for all that ails us in this world. We know the One who can heal souls.  People are walking around with scales on their eyes and do not know that they are blind. Some have the chains of addiction and the past clamped around their legs. What a sobering honor and gift to know the secret that can free the captive of past sin and regret. Finding rest in Him means being free of fear and the future.

Sweet sister, you know personally The Cure. Will you share Him with all who are dying? 

We must wait though until just the right time when the person realizes their need for the medicine. The time when their hearts are soft. So we must be on watch with open ears and hearts to know then the time is right to share.

I pray you have courage my sister to share the cure that someone had the courage to share with you. Sometimes just asking a question will be the seed that will grow into a soft field of a heart ready to accept the lavish gift of redemption. When I was a young teen a man at a strip mall who was passing out tracts asked me, “Do you know why Jesus died on the cross”.  (See my blog testimony, Three Questions that Changed the World)


So look for the seeker. Ask the real questions. Give them a way to read and find the answers.

I charge you my sweet sister:  Read, carry and share the gospel. Literally…… carry the gospel with you and give it away. 

For Our Life Giving Boss (Jesus is my Boss:) urges us to:

” Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”.          Mark 16:15