Calling Out the Good

Yesterday afternoon, Lydia and her classmates put on a spring program showcasing some of what they have learned this year. They sang several songs, recited a Bible verse, and acted out the story of David and Goliath. It was really cute!

At the end, the teachers handed out “character awards” to each student. Some of the traits recognized included exhibiting joy, kindfulness, cheerfulness, responsibility, originality, and a positive attitude.

Lydia was one of the last to be called forward, and I didn’t know what to expect for her. Though, I was pleasantly surprised when she received an award for HELPFULNESS.

I thought to myself, “Of course! She is so much like her dad.” Dave was known for his servant heart; he was always eager to help others. I love seeing that in Lydia!

After the show, we briefly discussed being helpful as we ate refreshments. When we were done, Lydia jumped up to help me clear the table. Then, we ran to get gas and groceries before heading home.

Later, Lydia eagerly helped me carry in the groceries and put them away (as best she could). “Here, Mom, I can help you!” Then, we made dinner together.

Lydia set the table and emptied the clean dishes from the dishwasher. “Is there anything else I can do for you, Mom?” I then had to come up with activities to keep her busy while I finished cooking. This involved cleaning her room and picking up her toys.

Just before we ate, Lydia helped stir and dish up some of the food. “Hey Mom, these are like chores! And, I can earn money to give Jesus for missions!” Lydia was quite proud of her revelation. I was quite proud of her giving heart.

In case you are wondering, Yesterday’s excitement and helpfulness are not quite the norm for us. Many days, having a good attitude and doing chores looks very different!

Still, I was amazed at how much a simple award, or any acknowledgement calling out the good, could inspire Lydia to action. All on her own, she felt called to another level of helpfulness. The impact grew as the night went on.

As I was considering all of this, I thought about the times I have experienced something similar. When someone takes the time to say thanks or recognize a good quality, I too, step it up and do more.

We often focus on our individual effort to make a difference around us. “What can I do to help??” But I believe we can have even greater impact by cheering each other on as we go! Together everyone achieves more, right?!

God has given each of His children special gifts. Those gifts are not meant to be kept for ourselves, but to build each other up and show His love to the world. Of course, we don’t serve to get something in return. But, we are happiest when we are helping others.

Indeed, there are times when we all feel down. That’s fairly normal. In those moments, we may feel disconnected from our purpose, our passion, or even our people. Each problem may need a special solution. (I recommend prayer first!)

In many cases, asking for help and reaching out to help others can change our perspective. Part of the key is remembering we are not alone. We are all connected and need a sense of belonging. As Lydia says, “It’s great to be a team because we can help each other!”

In this dark and chaotic world, we should call out the good when we see it. A little appreciation brings a boost of confidence and sense of connection. Even just one word of encouragement can prompt someone else to take action and make a positive difference!


Heavenly Father, You are good! Thanks for letting us join You in Your work. May we see the good around us and call it out. May we help others in their time of need and show people Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: When was the last time someone called out the good in you? What was your response?

Tasks: Read Ecclesiastes 4:10 and Galatians 6:9. Choose at least one person to encourage!

Finding Grace #50

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot. I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

This was a great week! SO many good things happened, I’m not sure I can adequately describe them all. I had many uplifting and encouraging conversations this week. I talked with my boss about some job-related questions. While we didn’t come to any solid conclusions, I was glad to be moving in the right direction. There are good transitions coming and I want to ‘figure it all out.’ Instead, I’ll trust the Lord’s wisdom and timing!

I had some new insights on my volunteer role at church, which made me so happy. I have a lot of passion for that ministry. Interestingly, I’ve seen my skills as a dietitian support my role there! At work, I discuss nutrition, health, and wellness for individuals and corporations. At church, I help people discover where they fit in the Body of Christ (that is, the church) and then I make sure they are spiritually fit and able to keep contributing. So, as the corporate Body, we all thrive, grow stronger, and serve each other, functioning as a whole unit! (I am still in awe of this!)

Tuesday was Valentines Day. Lydia had just about the best day ever, in that she received a few little gifts from me, plus was the class leader at school, had a party there, and won the guessing game! 🙂 I also had a wonderful day. After work, I went to the movies and saw Hidden Figures. I would highly recommend it! I also talked with family and many dear friends throughout the day. I felt very loved!

Last night, Friday, Lydia and I went to a kids’ game night at church. She’s currently one of the youngest and sometimes is a little shy in crowds. So, I was happy to go with her and see things from her perspective. I taught her the basics of foosball, air hockey, and carpet ball. She played with other kids and I met some new families as well. We had a lesson about God’s unfailing love, a snack, and prizes. It was fun!

We had beautiful, sunny, and warmer weather most of the week. I switched seats on Lydia’s bike to prepare it for the next season. She tried it out and was pedaling through puddles from the melted snow! Praise God, Spring is nearly here!

Another bright spot included meeting a writing deadline for a personal project and receiving good feedback on it. I also had good, lengthy ‘God conversations’ with a friend going through a difficult time. We both benefitted that day. Oh, how He loves us!


These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Gifts Galore

As I previously mentioned, this entire holiday season has been the best in quite some time! The last several weeks have stood out for many reasons. Each situation—including Halloween, Lydia’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and Dave’s birthday—has seemed extra special this year. Praise God!

So far, Christmas has also been distinct. We’ve decorated more, started new traditions, and even skipped a few tasks. We’ve simplified where needed, but have also celebrated at a deeper level this year.

This year, Lydia and I are keeping it simple. I am enjoying the slower pace. Lydia…well, she’s super excited what’s already around the tree. I don’t go overboard, but loved ones have been sending gifts!

That said, I’m not super creative when it comes to gift-giving. In the past, I struggled if I couldn’t find ‘the perfect gift.’ Sometimes I would end up giving nothing if it wasn’t ‘just right.’ But I have since put off perfectionism and put on grace! And gift cards still count. When given with love, everything falls into place. It’s not so much the gift, but the heart that counts.

Jesus is certainly the most precious gift we could ever receive. At the same time, we give gifts to show love to each other. And, we show our love for God by living for Him—doing our best and giving our best back to Him.

I didn’t always understand this. I often felt like others had better gifts and talents—or were better at using them. Perhaps they were just willing to give whatever they had!

I felt like whatever I offered had to be super special…something extraordinary.

Yes, it took me awhile to figure out my God-given talents and abilities. Thankfully, I have learned so much these last few years. He can use anything given back to Him with the right heart. When we use our gifts to serve God and bless others, that’s when we find the most fulfillment, joy and peace.

When I didn’t have much emotional reserve, I brought my tears. I also brought my grief and uncertainty, fears and doubts. I guess you could say I gave out of my lack.

And in return for my weaknesses, Jesus gave me His strength. He also gave me even more of His love and grace, peace and joy. Yes, God has brought healing! He always gives out of His abundance! Gifts galore!!

This year I have seen beauty instead of ashes, color instead of shadows. He’s given me gladness in place of mourning (see Isaiah 61:3). And this holiday season, I have given the Lord praise with a grateful heart.

This week, we’ve had the honor of hosting a friend with her little toddler. Each day has been different but really fun. My friend made plans to stay with us months ago, and we have been looking forward to it. But her visit has also been such a gift to me!

We have visited other friends, watched movies, played in the snow, and shared childcare duties. We’ve enjoyed good food and stayed up late, talking and encouraging each other. These one-on-one skills use my strengths and bring me joy. And as we discuss what’s on our hearts, I can see more evidence of God’s healing my own.

This year, it really has been simple. I’ve been able to rest and give back to the Lord out of the abundance He’s already given me. And, as I have given hospitality, time, and friendship, I have been blessed with even more of the same!


Father God, thanks for giving us Jesus. Thank You for Your gracious healing and dear friends. Help us give our best back to you each day. Change our hearts and perspective as we experience Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have special plans for Christmas? What was the best gift you have ever given or received?

Tasks:  Write down your God-given talents. If you don’t know your strengths, pray about it! Ask God and other people what you do best. Then, serve and bless others!

The Greatest Gift

After Lydia’s birthday in November, we sent out around ten thank you notes. Her job was to decorate each card with stickers. So when she started grumbling, I told her, “Well, if you aren’t grateful, I’ll just tell everyone NOT to send you gifts next year. Then, you won’t have to worry about saying thanks.” That seemed to do the trick!

Then, on Monday night, we read the Nativity story at bedtime. We’ve been reading the Jesus Storybook Bible. I love how each story ends by pointing back to the Lord!

I usually ask Lydia questions to see if she can recall the main points.

Lydia has been interested in the night sky for several months. So the other night, we discussed the special star God placed in the sky at Jesus’ birth. She asked about the gifts Jesus received from the wise men. We chatted about frankincense, gold, and myrrh.

I also asked, “Did you know Jesus is the greatest gift we could ever receive?!”

Naturally, with Lydia’s birthday not too far from Christmas, this intrigued her. “So then, why do we give each other gifts?” She wondered out loud.

“Well, we show God’s love through our gifts.” I replied, in awe that she even asked. “It’s one way to celebrate what Jesus has done for us.”

When it comes to Christmas, I’ve been upfront with Lydia about Santa Claus. I have nothing against Santa, but I prefer to focus on Jesus and teach Lydia about Him.

And yes, Lydia knows not to tell her friends about Santa! Though, it is a little funny when an adult asks her, “So, what’s Santa bringing you for Christmas?”

In those moments, Lydia looks confused and concerned…like she’s thinking… “Wait, they don’t know about him?! …Well, I’m not going to tell them. Hmm…but what should I say?”

Up until last year, Santa wasn’t an issue for us. But then Lydia’s imagination kicked into high gear, and she started asking what was real and what was pretend. It became difficult to explain the nuances of make-believe cartoons versus shows with real actors.

Lydia questioned, “Is the person in that movie real?” I didn’t think much about it at first. “Well, yes. The person really exists, but he’s an actor who is pretending.”

Before long, Bible characters were examined, too. “Mom, was Jonah real?” … “Hey, my Daddy’s name was David! … So was King David real too?”

I answered Lydia’s questions, but was unsure if she understood.

When the holidays came, Lydia quickly applied the same ‘logic’ to Santa. “Why does the Santa on tv look different from this one in the book…and the one at the mall?”

I felt the need to address Lydia’s confusion in a truthful, yet sensitive way.

I decided to tell her the truth about Santa using a familiar example. “You know how Daniel Tiger (a PBS cartoon) is not REALLY real? He’s make-believe. Well, Santa is not REALLY real either. It’s fine that everyone talks about him, but he is just pretend.”

(Yes, St. Nicholas was real, but Santa has become quite different in our culture.)

Lydia took it fairly well. For about ten seconds, she looked a little surprised. “Oh.” And, then she asked about Rudolph, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny. “Yep, their pretend too.” Twenty seconds later, with a quick, “Oh, okay,” she was onto the next thing, unfazed!

For me, this all is pertinent because there are bigger concepts at stake. Dave died when Lydia was not quite 18 months old; therefore, she doesn’t really remember him. So, over the years, I’ve done my best to answer questions about Dave and Heaven. Still, she occasionally she gets fuzzy on the details.

But whenever her thoughts drift toward Dave, I don’t want Lydia to ever doubt that Dave—and his love for her—are real! He loved her so very much!

Similarly, I never want Lydia to be confused about Jesus, because He is our only true hope in this chaotic world. Jesus and His love for us are most certainly real!

Last night, as I wrote this post, I asked Lydia, “Does it make you sad that Santa isn’t real?” To my surprise, she shrugged and answered, “No.”

Curious, I asked, “Really? Why not?” Lydia didn’t hesitate in her answer. “I’m not sad, because I still get gifts!” I laughed at how simple it is for her. Lydia isn’t going to sweat Santa; she knows she is loved. And to her, the gifts are evidence of that love.

Clearly, each child and each family is different. Therefore, everyone should handle these topics in their own way. But as Lydia reminded me, when talking about Santa and gifts: “Mom, Jesus loves me MORE than that!” Yes, Jesus truly is the greatest gift ever.


Father God, thank You for the gift of Jesus! In Him, we have everything we need. Help us be generous with others and spread Your love in all we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: How do you handle Santa in your home? What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Tasks: Consider ways to highlight Jesus this season. Check out Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado. For kids, check out Star from Afar!

Birthday Blessings and Beyond

Lydia and I have enjoyed celebrating her birthday over the last few days!

I gave her two gifts—a Chicago Cubs t-shirt and a new razor scooter. Having grown three inches this last year, her hand-me-down scooter is almost too small!

Still, Lydia received many gifts, cards, calls and texts for her birthday. Because people in six different states remembered her birthday, we spread out the celebration!


Since Saturday, Lydia has been opening a couple gifts each day, with a few more later this week. This girl is very-well loved.

We played multiple rounds of Hello Kitty Bingo and Go Fish. We made treats and Skyped with family. We went out for a birthday lunch, and Lydia took Popsicles to preschool on her special day. (Never mind that it was freezing outside!)

Thanks for all the birthday wishes—Lydia will be making several thank you cards!


Of course, Lydia loves all the gifts and attention. But really, it’s not about the gifts. (She doesn’t “need” anything.) No, for me, it is different. Each time a gift comes in the mail, or someone remembers us, I am prompted to recall God’s goodness.

Again, it’s not about the token itself, but the love it reflects.

While we have many friends and family around the world, we don’t talk to everyone regularly. But each time someone reaches out to us, I am reminded of the magnitude of encouragement and support we have received over the years. Wow!

God has taken such good care of us. Thanks for being a part of that!


“What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?”

Last night, I gained yet another perspective from Lydia. She is my greatest blessing. Instead of reacting to my frustrations (below), she kept her cool and was a real trooper.

Here’s the recap:

After doing a little research and considering a few options, I decided to upgrade my old router. To do this, however, I had to undo quite a few cords and other parts downstairs. One by one, I disconnected Dave’s speakers, a surge protector and an old computer. Probably about twenty (gazillion) cords…

I called both of my brothers for help, and they each talked me through a few key points. I also disconnected the printer, modem, and old router before reconfiguring the new. Long overdue, I also vacuumed the entire area!

Lydia was eager to “help” so I had her running all over the house for flashlights and such (to keep her busy, and out of the way). Though, she WAS the perfect size to squeeze in between the wall and table to grab a few loose cords!

These techy things always take me so much longer than I expect. So, I knew it would take awhile, but it seemed fairly straight forward. Well, it was more challenging than I thought and I was beyond frustrated. After about 2 hours, I decided to walk away for a much needed “break” (you know, right before I actually broke something!!).

Lydia wanted to watch a movie and have a picnic, but I kept stalling, telling her, “Ok, but just wait. Go play, and I will be done soon.” I didn’t realize so much time had passed, but that sweet girl made herself dinner and got mine ready, too! I made Lydia’s sandwich, but she got herself an orange, some chips, and even scooped out yogurt without making a mess! (Praise God!) She got my fork, spoon, and plate too. That was so kind of her!

Well, everything took so much time we didn’t get to watch the movie. Lydia was a trooper though. At one point, with mixed emotions, I apologized, “Sorry it took me so long. Your dad wouldn’t have had this much trouble.” (It was all his stuff and system.)

Thankfully, my sour attitude went over her head. Lydia quipped, “Yeah! It took me AND your two brothers to help you figure it out!” She was pretty proud of herself, and all the help she provided, along with dinner. 🙂

There’s never a dull moment around here! And sometimes, our deepest griefs, frustrations, and struggles end up making us the most grateful.

I am so thankful for my sweet girl. She always keeps me on my toes!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).


Father God, thanks for your constant help and presence! Thanks for bringing us this far! Thanks for all your blessings. Help me not take them for granted. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What are you thankful for? What is something that frustrated you at the time, but you were eventually grateful for? How does the above quote (enlarged) impact you?

Tasks: Write down a list of blessings in your life. Write a thank you note to someone!


Finding Grace #35

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot. I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!


Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

  • This week was intense. I mentioned feeling a little under the weather at the beginning of the week. It might sound silly, but in hindsight, I think it was nerves and adrenaline from watching the Chicago Cubs in the World Series! The Cubs’ history, reputation, and generational appeal made for a great storyline. Looking back, we often see God’s grace in the way something works out so perfectly. For example, winning in the 7th game, late game with a rain delay, 10 innings, close score, great plays…all made for an EPIC headline with maximum glory. If it had happened any other way, the impact would have been different.
  • For me, the Cubs winning represents hopes, dreams, goals, and discipline paying off. All the effort, time, tears, trials, and setbacks are rewarded. I see how the concept of #FlyTheW applies to other areas of my life. In those moments when I feel like giving in, I am reminded that with Jesus, we have already won the final Victory! So, I will raise the “W” banner and hold my head high, knowing that despite the overwhelming odds, God makes all things possible. To Him be the glory!
  • As a result of not feeling well due to the adrenaline rush, late nights, and early mornings, I did not have any extra energy. I was wiped out! 🙂 So instead of working on my normal projects this week, I finished little ones. I voted early, did laundry, shopped for Lydia’s birthday and Christmas gifts, had an impromptu dinner with our neighbors, and made a couple car maintenance appointments. I took it easy, and decided to rest! Now that’s evidence of God’s grace! Historically, I would’ve pushed harder without acknowledging the benefits of taking a break!
  • Lydia received a surprise gift in the mail this week! It’s a My Little Pony zip-up hoodie and with matching headband. Rainbow Dash, of course! Pretty cool! It came from Amazon, but there was no gift note inside the box. I did a double-take, questioning if I had ordered it… Nope! So, we are very thankful for the thoughtful gift. God always has a way of blessing us in the best ways! (But if you are reading this and are the sender, please let me know so we can properly thank you!) 🙂


These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

Finding Grace #34

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot. I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!


Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

  • It’s been a relatively relaxing week, so Lydia and I have done special activities throughout the week. We’ve enjoyed watching the World Series, and I’ve been trying to teach Lydia about baseball. In the kitchen we made a few new recipes, including butternut squash noodles and arugula pesto. Yum! On Wednesday, she dressed up as a rocker-princess (or something like that!) for a kids’ party at church. We played and chatted with neighbors outside. Then today, we practiced roller-blading in the garage and rode on a Ferris wheel at Scheels (a large outdoors store, with other fun family activities). We might make cookies tonight during the next Cubs game 🙂
  • On Wednesday, I joined a class at church, studying a DVD series by Dr. Caroline Leaf. She’s a cognitive neuroscientist (aka brain researcher) and the information she shared was quite fascinating. I was in awe at the science showing how the human brain works. To think most of us use less than 1% of our brain, but we have millions of years of potential brain “storage”…it’s compelling if you consider we have all of eternity to praise God and know Him!
  • Otherwise, it was an insightful week for me. There were a couple of days where God showed me some not-so-pleasant areas where I need to grow change. Yet, in His grace, each time when I felt convicted of a bad attitude, etc., He showed me mercy and love. All throughout the week, I received well-timed hugs, phone calls, texts, and cards in the mail. I even received amazing pumpkin bars, homemade salsa and applesauce, as well as garden veggies from my neighbor and her mom. (Thanks!!) Instead of feeling discouraged, I felt loved—thankful that the Lord cares so much about me to gently correct me and help me move forward to Victory.


These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

Full Circle: A Gift from Around the World

Last Thursday, Lydia and I went to a memorial car-and-bike show! This is the fourth year Dave’s employer, Caterpillar, has held it in his name. Yet, this year seemed extra special.

Lydia looked forward to the car show all morning. “Is it time to go yet?” she kept asking. She dressed herself, and proudly wore her light pink CAT sweatshirt. “I’m ready!”

Lydia_2016 car show

Each year has been a little different, though I always come away in awe at how much love and effort is put into the show. This year was distinct because Lydia is now old enough to learn a little more about Dave and remember where he worked.

For the first couple of car shows, Dave’s 1965 Chevelle was present. With God’s help (and a cool story), I sold it last year. Lydia doesn’t (really) remember Dave, but I am so thankful she remembers his car!

As usual, we ate lunch at the car show, and saw a few familiar faces. We visited with Dave’s coworkers and caught up with old friends.

Then, we went on a tour of the facility. I have been on several CAT tours over the years, but this was the first time Lydia was able to follow along and ask questions.

Every so often, I would pause to clarify anything she was unsure about. I pointed out different projects Dave had worked on and equipment he helped set up. Dave loved working for Caterpillar and I am still so proud of all he accomplished there.


We passed several pictures of employees being recognized for achievements. One section held three pictures—a memorial wall. Dave’s photo was first.

Lydia asked, “Why is my Daddy’s picture up there?”

I don’t always know how to answer her questions, so with tears in my eyes, all I could manage was, “Because they loved him so much.”

I was honored to see Dave’s picture, but in that moment I felt the deep loss. Not just for myself, but for Lydia…and all the potential one life can hold. We moved on, and I was thankful for the safety glasses (hopefully) hiding my mixed emotions.

Later, we met a man whom I vaguely recognized. Perhaps I met him on a previous tour, but he jumped up to say hello when we were introduced. He also greeted Lydia and answered a few questions about his machine before we left. Soon, we were on our way to another area.

Minutes later, we observed another machine at work. I noticed the man (from before) had followed us and was waiting patiently to talk with us. As we finished watching, he held out a small, brightly decorated drum.

Lydia_Drum from Singapore

“What’s this?” I asked.

“It’s a drum from Singapore,” he said. “One of the ladies there…hmmm… what’s her name?”

“Jennifer?” I suggested.

“Yes, that’s it!” He replied, with a curious look on his face. “Jennifer gave it to me.” His voice grew soft, “And lately, I have been looking for someone to give it to…”

He nodded toward Lydia, and gave me the drum. “I would like her to have it.” Astonished, I thanked the man for the drum and then told him about when I met Jennifer.

“Jennifer was part of the Singapore group that visited several years ago, to learn how to run their new CAT facility. Dave helped them with the set up.”

I went on, “When I was pregnant with Lydia, they came to see everything firsthand. Dave made hotel reservations, rented a mini-van, and drove them all around town!”

“I met Jennifer and her coworkers (most had English first names) at a team building event out in the country. The whole group excitedly took pictures of tractors, corn, and cows! Dave stopped along the way so they could document their trip. We had a lot of fun!”

Drum from Singapore

When Dave died, the Singapore employees sent condolences, cards, and a (monetary) collection. They said how much they enjoyed working with Dave and appreciated his help. I couldn’t believe their generosity and compassion…it was amazing.

Back then, I was touched to receive such kindness from so far away.

On Thursday, receiving the beautiful drum was certainly unexpected. But, for me, it was a poignant reminder of love sent around the world. It was just what I needed in that moment. Only God could bring it full circle all these years later!

Dave was always thinking of how to help others. The drum also serves as a memento of how even small, thoughtful acts can impact so many people.

Lydia does not understand all of this just yet, but to me, the whole day—tour and drum included—was a huge blessing. Now whenever I have a sad moment, I am going to look at that pretty drum and remember that God sees us and knows exactly what we need.

He cares about every aspect of each person’s life and provides encouragement when we need it most. Yes, God uses each little detail to piece together a beautiful story of grace!

Praise God!


God, thanks for Your grace. Thank You for loving me so much. Help me turn to You in the difficult moments! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you had a ‘God moment’ lately? What did you learn?

Chocolate ‘Kissy’ Things

Recently my daughter, Lydia, and I had conversation that went like this:

“I like those chocolate kissy things,” said Lydia, walking into the office. “But I don’t know what they are called.”

“Do you mean Hershey’s kisses?” I asked, smiling.

“Yes,” said Lydia. “But, you have to kiss them before you eat them.”

chocolate cherry

We weren’t eating chocolate, but clearly she takes after me! Ok, kiss the chocolate before devouring it…Then, on a whim, I asked, “How do you show someone you love them?”

With no prompting, and only a few questions for clarity, Lydia thought about it for a moment and said:

Be kind when you talk to them.

Give them a gift (such as a toy or sticker).

Give them a hug (but be gentle).

You could help them do a puzzle.

Go visit them (on an airplane or in the car).

Lydia’s responses were simple, but somewhat unexpected. It may be a little kid’s perspective, but I think my sweet girl is spot on. In fact, right away, she nailed every one of the five love languages Gary Chapman writes about.

These include words of affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, physical touch, and quality time. It’s helpful to know the love language of those around us because someone can totally miss—or misunderstand—the treasure you think you’re offering. Knowing someone’s primary love language may even help resolve conflicts.

(Clearly, that is not meant to manipulate a person or situation!)

box of chocolates

Like the best of chocolates, our gifts are meant to be shared. Every day, we have the opportunity to demonstrate God’s love—to be His kiss to the world. Sometimes, as adults, we make it too complicated. Or, we forget about the ‘love part’ and just ‘devour’ people!

Here are five easy ways to love on others:

  • Use your words to encourage people or bring comfort, like a glass of lemonade.
  • Give a gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Share a book or buy a cup of coffee!
  • Show appropriate affection based on the level of friendship.
  • Help someone complete a project or meet a deadline.
  • Spend time doing an activity with someone. Take turns choosing the activity.

There are many ways to show people you love them. Often, it starts with a willing heart to serve. Show up and meet a need. Give to others out of your abundance or out of your ‘personal stash.’ (This is not limited to chocolate…) It might cost your time, effort, or money; but it all counts if done with a loving attitude.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Popular at weddings, these verses (above) make a great check point for daily life too.

Am I being patient? Was that kind? Was I bragging?

How is my attitude? Am I giving the benefit of the doubt? (and so on)


According to 1 John 4, God is love (v8) and now we love each other because He loved us first (v19). Jesus Christ is God’s special gift to demonstrate just how much we are loved. And, He gives us many additional blessings too. But, a gift is useless if left unopened…
Let’s share God’s gifts with others!


Father God, thank You for Your unconditional love. Help us understand and receive all You have given us. And, help us share Your love with others too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you unwrapped God’s gift(s)—His special kiss to you? Do you know your love language(s)?

Little Drummer Girl

At home, Lydia likes to bang on her own makeshift drum—an old Garrett’s popcorn tin from when she was little. The popcorn is long gone, but it has provided hours of headaches entertainment in our house over the years. Ahh, my little drummer girl!

“I wonder what the little drummer boy’s name was.” –Lydia’s Christmas carol commentary

In the song, The Little Drummer Boy, the (fictitious) little boy has nothing in comparison to other gifts brought. Yet, he gave what he could…a simple song. In some ways, we are all like the poor little drummer boy.

God is the Giver of all good things (James 1:17). He has given us the best gift in His Son, Jesus. Nothing we can bring will ever match His glorious sacrifice. All that we are or ever will be already belongs to Him, because it came from Him. So we can only give a portion back to God out of what He already gave.

The value of what we bring comes in the form of gratefulness—humbly accepting all He has done for us. As any loving parent, aunt, or uncle understands, it brings God great joy when we praise, honor, and adore His precious Son, Jesus.

What can we offer Him in return? In Luke 10:27, Jesus said that we should love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. This might include your time, effort, or money (1 Chronicles 21:22-25). God loves a cheerful giver, and out of His own abundance He ensures we always have plenty (see 2 Corinthians 9:7-8).

You may not feel like you have much to contribute, but like the little drummer boy (whatever his name), we each have a gift to bring… And when you lay all of it before the King, He takes it and makes something good.


The great news is that because of Jesus, we don’t have to stay “stuck” in our circumstances or grief (or any emotion). We can rejoice that God continues to work all things out for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Praise God!

In our brokenness, we become a vessel He uses to bless others.

Because we are all so unique, this will look differently for each of us. For me, this recently has meant bringing my grief to the Lord and then being available to talk with others in their pain. Helping others has been healing in and of itself!

For someone else, it may be caroling at a nursing home, visiting a prisoner, or feeding the hungry. Maybe babysitting, writing an encouraging note, or giving a hug is more your style. Be generous. It all counts! They’re all gifts to the One who receives it. (see Matthew 25:35-40).

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

Each of our gifts, talents and struggles will be different. But, we ALL honor the King when we bring our very best to Him.

Father God, Thank You for Jesus and all the wonderful things you have given us. We can’t out give You, God. You are so generous to provide good things for us. Help us bring our very best to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions to consider: What are your gifts? How might they honor God and help someone else?