Thanks-Giving IN (not for) Times of Difficulty

It is easy and obvious to give thanks for whatever harvest we have – the food is there and we are grateful for it and the job that helped us obtain either the seed and nutrients to grow the food, or the food itself from a market or a farmer. It is easy to be grateful FOR that.

But many are experiencing hard things:Aimee in Mich 018

Empty chairs – when you have lost a loved one

Empty nest and/or empty days – feeling alone, set aside, or unimportant to anyone

Empty wallet – lost job, tough circumstances with health, home, vehicles, all straining finances


Empty emotionally – strained family or other close relationships


How can we possibly be thankful FOR these things? Or can we find gratitude or praise while IN the midst of these experiences?OS09078


Elaine Stenger, in Dancing in the Rain, tells how she came to realize that years of her strained parental relationship could be a blessing because she was being shown how NOT to be.


Elie Wiesel, survivor of the Holocaust death camps was able to take/carry out attributes of silent respect and comprehension of how such profound evil took place that we might prevent it from happening again. He said


“If you want to bring meaning to your life, bring meaning to your pain.”


I have meaning in my life because of the perspective of passoverclipartthe meaning in Jesus’ pain. Because of His pain, I can find meaning in mine.


The Thanksgiving we imagine where the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation feasted together to celebrate a peace treaty happened only once. Not everyone agreed with the treaty.

English and Dutch burned natives alive, with days of “thanksgiving” decreed by governors after every massacre. Thanksgiving is a painful reminder to many American Indians and Susan Bates, (Hill & Holler Column) says we need to learn our true history so it won’t ever be repeated.

President Lincoln, eventually declared a national day of Thanksgiving and Praise while the nation was in a time of war.


Part of the proclamation includes PRAYERS of gratefulness peachtreefor increases in population, in harvest, in natural resources and expectation of continuance of years with large increase of freedom.


Without political spin or personal glory he directs us to God:

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.


They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.


And later concludes:

           And I recommend to them …they do also, with miltary3humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers. . . (and implore) the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.


So what if we applied those thoughts this Thanksgiving to both our gains and our losses?


Asking God to heal our wounds (both personally and nationally)


Praying fervently that relationships be restored and (renewed not with what we each think is right) but consistent with the Divine purposes of



Tranquility, and IMG_0595



As we pray  tomorrow, let us give thanks in everything.














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After Losing a Child – Healing Lessons from Swallows

A friend recently gave me a lovely pair of earrings – some type of bird. She said she felt God wanted me to have them, but had no clue why or what the symbolism of them would be.1swallowearrings


We asked those in the know and found they are swallows. The search was on – what could swallows teach me spiritually as I continue the journey of grief-healing?


Swallows, I read, have unerring sense of place and dogged tenacity: swallows insist on nesting in precisely the same place every year. Even first-year breeders will try to select a nesting site within half a mile of where they were born and raised — providing they survive the hazardous 6,000 mile journey to and from their migrating site in West Africa.


Tenacious. (good). Single-minded determination to return to the place of birthing and nesting. (what is my place/story of spiritual birth – where is my place of nesting (Psa. 91:4 He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge) do I run there on purpose as a first and only choice rejecting other options despite the hurdles in my journey?)


Yes. I can learn a lot from swallows. free-vector-swallow-trees-vector-hawks_000942_Nature_01


Scripture on swallows


Prov. 26:2   NASB – Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, So a curse without cause does not alight. (tsanach, tsaw-nakh´; to alight; (transitive) to cause to descend, i.e. drive down, invade, keep coming, settle or stay)


Prov. 26:2 (Message) You have as little to fear from an undeserved curse as from the dart of a wren or the swoop of a swallow.


I found this interesting as I was recently studying the two types of tribulation – one – caused by disobedience or rebellion, and the other, the happening that has no why – a mystery allowed by God. an undeserved curse.


Many times when a child is ill or dies, parents wonder what they might have done or not done – and the enemy is pleased to plant the thought that it occurred because of sin. Jesus’ answer – John 9:2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” John 9:3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.


The death of a child has been and remains the greatest test/tribulation of my life. Is it a curse? Though it may feel like evil or misfortune from a curse (An appeal or prayer for evil or misfortune to befall someone or something. And b. Evil or misfortune that comes as if in response to such an appeal). That definition certainly does not define the death of a believer –

Ezek. 18:32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD

Psa. 116:15     Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His godly ones.


So even an unexplainable death is a part of life that we must get through “in order that the works of God might be displayed.” The most difficult thing to absorb, that God allowed it. Perhaps I am just beginning to understand Christ’s death and the hope of resurrection. Faith, to that point had been my anchor, and I felt uprooted and unsettled, so I understand the hectic nature of the swallow.


Like the double description of its flight pattern –

Flitting – from nud [626c]; a prim. root; to move to and fro, wander, flutter, show grief:—console(1), consoled(1), drive away(1), flee(2), grieve(1), grieving(1)


Flying from greek word (rwør;√d drowr, der-ore´; from an unused root (meaning to move rapidly); freedom; hence, spontaneity of outflow, and so clear:—liberty, pure.) swift


This revealed the swallow, flittering – unable to settle down (like grief response) and also flying rapidly with freedom (not bound).


Combining this information the swallow teaches us that: Grieving can be unsettling, flitting from emotion to emotion, but untethered. Free to make the choice to live and to grieve boldly. Interestingly Greek lore considered the swallow sacred to the grieving mother – and thought to carry the soul of their departed child.


Once they become parents, the people-friendly birds become swallowaggressive – or appear to be aggressive. On one hand swallows will swoop at the people they were friendly with the day before their eggs hatched. When the people put their arm out in front of their face, marking their boundaries, the birds fly up to and away from them, never actually touching the person. On the other hand swallows willingly risk their lives to swoop at Hawks or other animals much larger than themselves that threaten their young. And when a pair of swallows initiates this behavior, neighboring swallows are likely to join in – sometimes an entire flock – and the communal effort often succeeds in driving the predator away. Sounds like the church family doesn’t it! Noticing you have begun a battle because you are swooping at the enemy (in prayer, in action) not even having to ask, your brothers and sisters join in the battle. They are close enough to notice the defensive stance, and ready to join in as well as call in support.


Set boundaries and be sensitive to others’ boundaries.

Be defensive with threatening demeanor.

Make your message clear.

Welcome and accept support.

Yep. I am learning from the swallows.

The oldest common symbolism of swallows was with sailors:

  1. Sailors got tattoos of swallows – one as they set out on their swallow wingsjourney (and to carry their souls to heaven should they not return) and a second swallow tattoo on return indicating a successful journey
  2. Seeing swallows was a sign that their travels were nearing an end – because these birds never travel far out to sea, their sighting meant that land was near – again a successful journey will soon be completed.

Ah yes. I live and grieve like the swallow – not wanting to be still – unable to be still. I recently read the most accurate description in Jane of Lantern Hill – It seemed that as long as she kept moving her pain marched with her and she could bear it. If she were to stop, it would crush her.

The key word there is seemed. But the pain of life and grief are not only emotion or feelings. We need to confirm the foundation before we can build upon it.

  1. Macmillan, D.D. said swallows build their nests of clay from the ground, but compensates for the seeming degradation by attaching that nest to the home of man and the very altar of God. “ He concludes: “And so God has made our bodies of the dust of the earth, and closely connected our life with it. We must make our nest of clay. But while by our bodies we belong to one set of circumstances, we belong by our souls to another and higher. We are immortal guests dwelling within a transient house of clay that must one day crumble and fall and be resolved into the elements out of which it was built.

but reality and foundation so I also learn from the swallow’s nest.


So, my friend, your set of swallows for my ears remind me of swallows girlinozhealing after losing a child. Having courage to travel light – not making decisions on the circumstances or the emotions, but remembering how the swallow builds – slowly, patiently and cautiously – we must go through the process, not forcing a ‘premature’ healing or an impatient settling for less in our desire to speed through the building process lest the final structure is weak and unstable.


Like the swallow building its cup-shaped nest, I need to rebuild the foundation of my faith with steady, wise, orderly progression (allowing God to fill each stage) instead of constantly longing for what belongs to the next one.


Patient is so not me. My nature is now. But patience IS a description of the creator of the swallow – and of me in the sense that I am created in His likeness. There is no need to rush this grieving process. To strain and claim the next step when I am not secure on the one below. It is okay to build my resting place leaning into security and returning regularly to my first love – the place I’ve been before – the place my heart knows where I will find comfort and healing.


And it is not only ok, but should be in my nature to humbly welcome the others in the journey.







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I Hope You Make Lots of Money!

Apparently many people are still under the impression that author events and book signings are held as an income increasing venture. I heard this numerous times at my book signings. This is so not likely. 1-EBookGetPaid


Let me clarify with a little new-author reality check.  Generally, you will make more with magazine and anthology (Chicken Soup, etc) stories.  But a book takes investment.


The author has two, sometimes three, ways to purchase their books for a book signing (or a giveaway), and four ways to ‘sell’ them.


  • They can purchase author copies usually 50% of selling price plus shipping bringing cost to approximately 60% of retail. Then dependent on the wishes of the venue, they can outright sell their books themselves, reimbursing approximately 40% of the cost less taxes and less cost to set up the book-signing (treats, drawings, travel, etc). There is no royalty from this choice, and the purchase does not count as a true sale.
  • Sometimes the bookstores prefer to do consignment on a 60/40 (average), 40/60 or 30/70 percentage – the first number being the store profit. An example would be a $10 book – the author pays 50-60% including shipping ($5-$6) and after consignment gets a percentage back. (with average 60/40 author gets $4 back) If the store chooses to sell the book ‘competitively’ for less than full retail price, it actually costs an author more to place books on consignment at that location. However, the advertisement of the placement and the potential of new customers from that venue can make the cost very worthwhile.
  • A bookstore that caught the vision for the book will order the book at 20% -30% OlivetPanelcropdiscount of retail cost and whatever they sell is their profit. The author is putting a face to their name and their book and getting free advertisement. In that event, the store often sets up the site with tablecloth, decorations and all the author has to pay for is travel to the event. They will eventually receive whatever royalty is in their contract from the sale – anywhere from 12% on up – (less 15% of that amount for their agent). That is the only income. Some bookstores will keep any books that did not sell in stock or on the shelves, and others will request authors to purchase any books left above their stock desires.
  • Another way is if the author purchases the books full price from an online source and resells them at the same price plus tax to pay the bill for their order. Their expense is raised but so is the eventual royalty. There is no immediate income.


So why does an author go through all of this? Because we believe in our message and we are willing to invest ourselves (and our finances) to get that message to the public. Most of us also have a charity or cause that we hope to benefit through the full retail sales to the Harlineteampublic. But how can they know about the book unless a friend, or an ad, or a display or a chat with the author lets them know? That is why we do book signings and author events.


All of the above relates to the author with a small traditional publishing company who produces the books fully edited and including cover design and setup, at no cost to the author, and pays royalties. There are, of course, larger publishing companies that pay an advance toward expected sales, but they mainly market only to established writers with a public outreach (platform) that guarantees a number of sales. Many more “vanity” and “indie” (independent) companies exist which expect the author to either purchase thousands of their own book at full price or contribute to the cost of producing their books – from $5,000 – $20,000 and more, some not including editing services. Some so-called vanity presses charge outrageous ($20-$50) prices for individual books that sell comparatively for about 1/3 of that price. The latter authors seldom produce any income and frequently are left with boxes of books in their garage or basement.


Sure I wouldn’t mind someday receiving enough royalties to quit the two part-time jobs that currently feed my writing expenses. But more importantly, just as God made some of us to dance, to sing, create, or with the drive to excel at so many other skills, I feel God instilled something in me that calls me to write words that say, “Look what God has done!” I understand Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire) saying that he felt God’s pleasure when he did Allison and meCROPwhat God created him to do.


I do not want to sugar-coat that results take investment, nor would I downplay the high I feel when someone ‘gets’ the message I wrote and turns to God because of it.


A young mom brought her children to one of my signings and pointed at me, exclaiming, “Look! That is an author!”

I had a chat a few days ago with a woman who read Be the Miracle and explained in detail how it changed her perspective, encouraging her to get the book and its message to others.


That is what makes it all worthwhile.

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Wounds Covered in Beauty

Only the wounded oyster is covered in beauty. 

Without the “irritant” there is no beauty. After the irritant is resolved (by being covered), 1pearlsinoysterthe painful obstacle turns into a thing of beauty with new purpose and increased value.




Being wounded births the pearl.


Ray Stedman describes it this way:

“ the response of an oyster to that which irritates it is to transmute it and transform it into something which is no longer a source of irritation. It becomes a lustrous and shining and beautiful jewel. From an irritant to a thing of great value.


Do you have irritants in your life? I sure do.  DeeEngland2014-1 248


Have you seen past irritations transformed to something no longer a source of irritation? I surely have. One example for me was a controlling and abusive parent who continued to control through threats and demeaning accusations even after I’d become an adult and left home.

Fortunately, I’d found Christ and Ephesians chapter one, which thoroughly explained my new identity. Instant access (Lord, help!) provided covering for my wounds, and falling in love with God implanted seeds of understanding and sympathy toward the irritants. That abusive person began to realize and name some characteristics that were developing in me and did not change no matter what she did. I do not take credit for that – I hated every minute of that piece of glass in my shoe (only it was in my soul) feeling. But God. God kept coating layer after layer every time I tried to handle the situation in my own strength, only managing to scratch the covering to once again review the irritant.


When I found Romans 8 – which revealed who the real enemy (irritant causation) was – my life began changing. My life is still changing – each time I am reminded that neither a hurtful ‘friend’ or accusing ‘non-friend’ are the real enemy. Both are irritated oysters themselves, in need of being covered – same as I. Bible study


Once I realized that hanging onto the irritant (have to leave it exposed if I am going to show everyone how miserable it is) that I was feeding into the enemy’s plans for me and not God’s.


Once I quit picking at the irritant and let God cover it, I was soothed. When I gave God my shell, my secret oyster-like self, and when I give him my irritants, I can get out of the way. I no longer have the fake ‘responsibility’ of helping that person to see what is right. I now have a new definition of for-give (Strong’s Concordance – 1943. ejpikalu/ptw epikalupto, ep-ee-kal-oop´-to; from 1909 and 2572; to conceal, i.e. (figuratively) forgive: — cover.)


Yep – cover. So when scripture — Matt. 6:14 “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” — tells us to forgive —it is saying to cover – And if you look into the word parts you find it means to yield and to permit. (I can yield and allow God to cover, for I cannot do it on my own).


When Jesus, our example, in Luke 23:34, said “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing,” He reminded us of the real enemy.


IMG_1719Eph. 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.


2 Corinthians 4:17-18The Message (MSG)

16-18 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.



And the irritants we once thought ugly can

someday be covered in beauty. 


Matt. 13:46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.








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Wrote a Book – Now What?

So your book is published – now what?

Celebrate!  It is exciting to get that box of author copies

(even though you pay for them for marketing purposes)

Take a deep breath because

It’s time to get “on the road” – spreading the word


Make announcements on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Guest Blogs, Local News Media, etc.


Then. . .



Mail author copies to newspapers, libraries, magazines, columnists, TV programs, bookstore managers, book clubs, and prayer supporters.  Buy some additional books for speaking opportunities – especially to groups that might not have internet connection, or want the book immediately.

Mail postcard invitations to events or announcing book publication

Maintain records of all expenses and income. Many reinvest income as needed for travel and providing books as required for various venues

Book opportunities to speak about book, writing, and to sign books

Create and/or order giveaway items for events such as Festivals (Alpena, MI book fest)

NLightsStock and advertise books at local bookstores and art shops – books available in Racine at

Northern Lights Art Gallery – 423 Main Street (under the dark green awning)

by Local Author display (south section – to right after entering store)


Interviews – (WRJN Racine, online radio, TV – Guest Blogs like Elaine Stock link 

Local and state newspapers – Racine Journal Times – Local author listing coming soon.

Request influencers to read the book and talk it up.

Next Event: Book Signing – Racine

Arise Bookstore – November 7th 2-5 p.m. – Washington Ave.

— Books are already in stock at Arise

What do readers or influencers do?

Influencers who read the book and like it, usually let others know in many ways

  • Share recommendations and reviews on Amazon, CBD, Goodreads, B&N, etc.
  • Talk it up in your favorite social networking sites. Tweet – Facebook, etc.
  • If you have a blog, interview author or talk about the book there.
  • Call bookstores and request they stock the book
  • Tell friends about it.

There’s a lot of background work after writing and publishing a book, but emails like this one (from Alpena book festival) make it all worthwhile:

Thank you for writing  Be The Miracle!!!!  It was sooo goood!!!   I loved reading your experiences. I really want that same opportunity of helping others as you, and I plan to do the homework you have at the end of the chapters.”

I pray others will catch the flame and Be the Miracle for others too!


Amazon Author Page

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Does God’s Goodness Depend on My Behavior?

Psa. 86:5    For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive,

And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee.  1-Glow ofHeavenly-Rays-

I was praying through some characteristics of God yesterday and was thankful that God doesn’t choose to love us or forgive us or bless us with any of his character qualities because of our behavior.  He gives himself to all who ask.


He isn’t faithful or gracious to us because we are good – or just when we are good.

He loves us and forgives us, gives grace, shows mercy, and on and on because that is who God is –

He IS love,

He IS goodness,

He IS compassion,

He IS forgiveness,

He IS grace,

He IS mercy – and so much more. . .

-and he bestows all of his characteristics on anyone who seeks him and asks (calls upon Him).

Permanently. Not temporarily like I might forgive, or show sympathy or empathy or kindness for another for a moment in time, or sometimes. over and over because, let’s face it, I am not capable of being good all the time. But God IS.MomMarvelfav005

Pretty cool to think God is not only good when He feels like it, (or when He does something I see); God doesn’t only love when I “feel” that love; God isn’t only compassionate when He does what I hope He will do or give what I think I need, but God is good – all the time because he cannot be any other way!

God IS goodness.

This deeper step of understanding of God — I AM —gives new depth to the words of this song:


God is good all the time

He put a song of praise in the heart of mine

God is good all the time

Through the darkest night, His light will shine

God is good, God is good all the time


God is good all the time

He put a song of praise in the heart of mine

God is good all the time

Through the darkest night, His light will shine

God is good, God is good all the time


If you’re walking through the valleys PrairieandMisc2014 1378

And there are shadows all around

Do not fear, He will guide you

He will keep you safe and sound

He has promised to never leave you

Nor forsake you, and His word is true


God is good all the time

He put a song of praise in the heart of mine

God is good all the time

Through the darkest night, His light will shine

God is good, God is good all the time


We are sinners and so unworthy

Still for us He chose to die

Filled us with His Holy Spirit

Now we can stand and testify

That His love is everlasting

And His mercies, they will never end


God is good all the time

He put a song of praise in the heart of mine

God is good all the time

Through the darkest night, His light will shine

God is good, God is good all the time


lauriedavefaithThough I may not understand

All the plans you have for me

My life is in your hands

And through the eyes of faith

I can clearly see that


God is good all the time

He put a song of praise in the heart of mine

God is good all the time

Through the darkest night, His light will shine

God is good, God is good all the time

DaveNMarcWienke. . . all the time

Mal. 3:6 “For I, the LORD, do not change…



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After Losing a Child – Has it really been a year?

Has it really been a year?  It still feels the same. LaurieMontwalk

Shortly after our daughter Laurie’s passing last October, a new acquaintance shared her story of loss of a child. Her tone of voice let me know she meant to comfort me by saying, “Don’t worry, I stopped crying all the time after only about four years.” Others warned me that particular days like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays would be the hardest.


4GenerationsPRSometimes I feel guilty that I don’t feel worse – or less worse – one day or another. I doubt a week has gone by since our loss that I haven’t met someone else who has lost a child or a loved one, or another family is faced with making a decision for organ donation. It still feels unreal.

I’ve met a few of Laurie’s organ recipients and been told general information about others.img710 2 It is hard to explain the connection and the love and encouragement I’ve received through them. It is very challenging at first to hear of others able to do things because of our child’s gift of life that I wish she was still doing. Those days I think of comments Laurie made that showed how important her decision to be a donor was to her, and I feel some of what the mother of a 19-year-old organ donor recently described as “something good coming out of devastating pain.”


Knowing Laurie’s desires and determination (“If I don’t make it through menopause, I am determined to have all my organs intact and healthy.”) does make me wonder that she knew her path would be shortened.

img716 2


It also increases my admiration for her steadfastness to keep healthy. On our last trip together, (to Chicago) she refused to even taste a formerly favorite treat of Chicago-style popcorn because it contained corn syrup, and she reminded me to let one piece of awesome chocolate be satisfying, while seriously warning that having more than that in the house was downright dangerous for me. Those memories and so many more – especially our adult relationship, growing herbs, cooking with ancient grains, and studying our physical and spiritual heritage together, do bring joy and gratefulness that we had become more close friends than mother and daughter.

I’m strengthened through those memories to encourage and comfort others who have lost a child.


At the same time I am reluctant to admit the truth that there are moments in each and laurierescan018every day when I need to make an effort to focus on all she brought to our lives rather than the loss for me, and her family now and in the future.

I don’t say this often enough – I am grateful for those who let me know they are praying me through and I am humbled to have the privilege to hear the stories and pray for others who have had a similar experience.


Memories are great, and hearing Laurie’s words in my head as well as reading – and re-reading her emails and notes – does bring comfort. Laurie was great on doing a topical Bible study, not to focus on whatever problem or struggle she was dealing with – but to study the remedy — like praise. We lived at a distance from each other, but met when we could in between to study and pray together – and then shop and eat a fancy meal or find some good chocolate!


LaurieKenhillmontPeople say the greater the loss, the greater the love.

Perhaps that is why life seems to pass so quickly.

I have one more reason to long for heaven.

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Hot Phones and Camera Battery Messages

Seems like when I need to hear something, I get messages from everywhere and 1-camerahot #2everything. Has that ever happened to you?


Recently it was a hot camera, likely caused by switching to a too-small purse. Alarm raced through me when I touched my purse and felt heat radiating through the material. A quick zip to examine the purse contents immediately revealed the problem– a glowing light – from the camera. How did that get turned on and how long had it been on? I am guessing the how was pressure as the purse was jammed, and the how long was obviously too long. The battery reserve I thought I had was used up.


1-iphone #2Then my phone needed charging 2-3 times a day. When I used it for more than a few minutes it became warm, warmer, and too hot to touch. A visit to the phone store gave the diagnosis – the battery was dying – it had been made to last 2 years and I’d used it for five constantly increasing use! I could get a new battery for $80-$100 or put that money toward a new phone. Or I could cut back on the daily use so it would last a bit longer.


As frustrating and alarming as those events were, they were momentary and the camera and phone issues easily or swiftly remedied with little side effects.


What if, though, I relate those happenings to my body?


Any chance of too much pressure there? Am I heading for a potential burnout? Over-scheduling or cramming work or even too much ‘fun’ in too small a time-frame?


1-metiredOr how about over-use, over-heating, or just plain exhaustion? But there is so much to do! And I DO thrive on being busy. I am unable to still my mind enough to nap during the day, and feel guilty if I am not constantly on the move.


I will never live long enough to get to all the places I want to go, to read all the books I want to read, to learn all I would like to learn, or to make, or complete all the projects I would like to try.


To survive my fun but hectic life I strive to do the last thing first. I found something interesting when I evaluated my methodology of last things first, Spiritually, Physically, Mentally and Emotionally.

  1. Spiritually – spend time in the Word first, or I know I will likely not get to it during the day.
  2. Physically – make sure supper is prepared or begun
  3. Mentally – Make or review a list of goals and things to do
  4. Emotionally – Check off what I accomplished the previous day


Did you notice what I did? Three out of the four goals were self-reliant things that added pressure. Good things, and things that are good to have as part of my day, but not good first priorities.


IMG_1413When I checked the word ‘Rest’ in the Bible, I found varied instructions in almost every book. Hmm, maybe I needed some more RESTorative last things first: I also found some questions to ask myself:


Physically – am I sacrificing my health by not exercising, and/or not actually taking time out to eat properly, or to rest or relax?

Do I ever say no?


Mentally – am I entrapped by thinking every need is a call I must fulfill by myself? Can my goal list be broken down and simplified – or shared?


Emotionally – do I evaluate my emotions as a result of self-imposed dis-stress? Am I getting short-fused and worn out?   Do I check if the emotions are reality (according to God’s Word) or just feelings from trying to control the other 3 areas of life?


Spiritually – do I leave time to return to the morning’s guidance and allow it to reflect on the rest of my day? Do I ask others to pray for me?


It is empowering to read how Jesus instructed his disciples to rest, and how he slipped away himself from the crowds to rest. Sure, I am committed to continue in my calling, but the only way I can do that in all 4 areas of life is to remain focused on Jesus, and to allow Him to guide my daily boundaries.


I don’t believe I thought of burnout before as disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.)


IMG_3644The single most important thing I learned on mission trips was brought back to mind by my phone and camera batteries: God is more interested in my relationship with Him – including taking care of myself – than with my ministry.


Hosea 6:6

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,

the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.


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After Losing A Child – Does time heal?  

Short answer – no, not really. LaurieMom

Long answer – partially – perspective alters, prayer cries are automatic, thought control kicks in faster, life goes on because it does, not because you want it to, and because you learn to separate your public and private grief. You come to accept that it is unchangable, and you are thankful for what you had. Time deepens the loss – it doesn’t erase it.


Life, and death, it seems, are filled with oversimplifications and generalizations that really cannot be completed here – like a puzzle with a missing piece. Despite the outward absence, the inward presence continues to make itself known, not unlike what the doctor thought were phantom kicks from the son he was sure I’d miscarried. They were not phantom and neither are the pangs of grief.



Grief is the reality of the emptiness of a space when the life-force is absent, and the silence continues to shout against life’s real and contrived white-noise.


img715 1 fixedTime etches the background with peace, yet knowing the loved one’s faith and eternal destination continues to be overlapped with a hundred thousand layers of memories and hopes, dreams and plans you lived to help fulfill. Every tiny moment constantly shutters in and out of visibility like a continuous slide show with the beginning replaying and the ending out of view.


Promises made, and even promises kept seem hollow, and you realize, gratefully, that you will never stop saying hello and reliving the life-show in which you had the privilege to participate.


LauriesunlightTomorrows keep arriving, winging by and becoming yesterdays. I feel like I am supposed to be doing something. Something more. I am a mom who tries to fix things and have to acknowledge it is impossible to fulfill my role. When I say I am supposed to be doing something, several dear ones tell me -. No you are not, you are doing what you need to do; you are grieving. You are acknowledging that a huge piece of your life and your heart are missing.


Three quotes that keep me going: Change your self-talk – at the end of the day, tell yourself gently you did the best you could today. Even if you didn’t accomplish all you planned, I love you anyway (Franjois). Reminds me of Isaiah 57:18 – I have seen their behavior, but I will heal them and give them rest, and I will once again console those who mourn.


LauriegreetingmeI’ve accepted my loneliness. I don’t know the cure for it and maybe it will always be there. Maybe that’s simply part of what we call the human condition. But I also remind myself those are emotions. And my emotions fluctuate constantly. I know I’m loved by God, by others, and have finally learned to love myself.

When I feel lonely and isolated

I remind myself, “Those are my emotions. They aren’t reality.” – Cec. Murphy


Reality is that Laurie lives on  – both in body and spirit. I have God’s Word on that and hers, as well.

“Don’t worry about me Mumzie, it is well with my soul.”– Laurie Liesner-Kujawa –



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What’s Next Papa?

The news lately has been anything but encouraging.  Around the world disasters of every 1-bad-news-financial-newspaper-shocked-businesswoman-mouth-open-reading-office-desk-46751936kind are reported along with prophetic messages of escalating doom.  Were I to depend on that for daily motivation, I’d be in deep, deep trouble.

Personal stress seems at an all time high with lightening speed changes and challenges. Were I to depend on the emotions this raises, I would also be in deep, deep trouble.

I’ve written before about an around the world online group called The  Lazarus Experiment. We meet annually for 40 days after Easter, but the relationships we’ve developed carry through the rest of the year. When you walk together through challenges, tender guidance, laughter, tears, and all of life’s joys and troubles in between you develop a special bond.  It’s to the point that many of life’s happenings makes you think of your Laz friends, and the familiar story that brings life to any situation.

I recently had an experience where a stranger went totally ballistic because someone left angrymanthe car in front of him and gone into the gas station leaving him to wait to use the pump. I mean this was a red-faced, screaming, hair-raising, is-the-guy-going-to-have-a-stroke or cause someone harm kind of rant.  I looked at the people around us, a couple looked fearful (likely wondering if the big fellow had weapons in that big truck), one looked very angry, one was in his car nearby ‘lost’ in his phone and was unaware of the whole situation, and the fellow on the other side of the gas pump smugly grinned like he knew the fellow’s only accomplishment would be making himself look like a fool.

For me it was a flashback of manic behavior, and the drive, the urgency to soothe – and avoid the confrontation and emotional explosion.  I’ve had several people in my life that wanted to do harm and I quickly learned you don’t push an angry rat into a corner.

So – considering this volatile situation and Lazarus’ life-after-death experience, I think of one detail: that “a great multitude came to see not only Jesus, but Lazarus also,” …and that the chief priests were plotting ‘that they might put Lazarus to death also.’

While it is interesting to speculate how Lazarus felt coming alive, coming out of the tomb, and wondering were it me, what would I do or not do, there is also a life-flashes-before-you feeling in the midst of seemingly crazed anger. What if he did ‘go postal’ and start shooting?   What if this was my last day?

This situation was averted and we left the man with his mouth hanging open. But what difference did that confrontation make in my life?  If I could go back and prepare for either the potential unknown crisis (which the world seems to be faced with more and more each day) or a fresh start-over like Lazarus had – what would I start or change or finish  about my life that I had or had not done before breathing my last? Would I worry less about what

Thrive In Life - Online Magazine - www.thriveinlife.... "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style" ~ Maya Angelou

Thrive In Life – Online Magazine – http://www.thriveinlife…. “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” ~ Maya Angelou

people think about me, or what I do or how I dress and just be able this time to help others without worrying if I was an accomplice or enabler for their problem or addiction. Could I be myself for the joy of being? If I knew there was a plot out to kill me, would I live life on the run or just keep living?   Would I worry that my presence could endanger those I am with, or would my lack of fear for what man could do to me concern my enemies or my loved ones? What is my mission?

Would I eat to live or live to eat?  Would I run to my family and embrace them one more time? Would my old cravings and priorities return or  what would be my new priorities?

Would I have the freedom to dance like no one is watching…to run in the rain…to do something joyful to make another person smile or would I be constantly examining motives and wondering what is truth?

Each day has the possibility of raising all these questions and more. Many question if there remain any righteous men or women in leadership.  Many long and fearful experiences have taught no present or future peace can come from trusting mankind alone.  We are all as broken as the man at the gas station and the priests who wanted to kill Lazarus because his existence and life disproved their beliefs and threatened their power and control.

So instead of wondering or worrying over those questions, I can ask: Has my new life in Christ in any way reflected the answers I thought to those questions? If that were to be my final hour, what would those watching have seen or heard?

I read some words in Romans 8 (The Message) this morning that also reminded me of IMG_3401Lazarus:

Rom. 8:11-15 It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised

So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent.

There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life.

God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life.


adventurously expectant,


greeting God with a childlikeIMG_0056


“What’s next, Papa?”



That’s the kind of questions I’ve been asking. What about your life? Are you adventurously expectant? When is the last time you greeted God by asking,

“What’s next, Papa?”



  • Photo of angry man by Chris Roll
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