The other day I was having so much fun playing fetch with our new pup, Dandy, in the backyard. He is only 11 weeks old but quick as a whip and loves to chase a ball and slide into it with a flourish, just like a kid would dramatically dive and slide to catch a football.

We try to expose him to new experiences and sounds, but the neighbor’s toy dog’s high-pitched, tiny yip stops him in mid-stream. Forget about finishing any job he set out to do when that happens; he high-tails it for the door with wide eyes as big as marbles.

How fast we can turn on a dime when one of our basic instincts kicks in. I’ve seen sweet mothers turn into a grimacing, staring, barely civil force to be reckoned with when their child hurts. I’ve also seen people make an about-face when they know a reward, good or bad, is coming. Sometimes the behavior sticks afterward, and sometimes it doesn’t. What motivates people to make permanent, pivotal changes in their life when a reward isn’t enough?

Sometimes discomfort does, and sometimes it doesn’t. Some of us keep going through the same pain, over and over, because we won’t change our ways even with warnings. Often those who overcome their fear of change clear the hurdles to more happiness and less discomfort.
The people who don’t make lasting changes are likely expecting others to change, so they don’t have to. It can be a long wait.

Overcomers not only seek answers but follow their findings.

Every pivot we make in our lives requires a decision. We decide to search for God. We decide we need Jesus. We decide to quit drinking alcohol, smoking, taking drugs, and celebrating things God convicts us to forgo not only for our good health but for the benefit of the people we love. We can decide our body is a temple, belonging to the Lord, on loan from Him while we reside on earth. We can choose to eat healthier. We choose to read and study the Bible to know our Creator better and follow Him.

Even though we sometimes flounder, wander, and stumble, it’s only a reminder of the ability of fear, ego, pride, and arrogance to pull us down.

We can choose to gather humility and pivot back toward True North, with Jesus Christ as our navigator. His love never changes.

This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30


I recently got a little nostalgic and checked out the houses for sale in my small hometown in Iowa. I saw a home on the same street where my dad bought a house in his retirement years. It looked vaguely familiar, but I wasn’t sure if the address was the same. I couldn’t remember, and I was hoping it wasn’t.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be the same house he sold in 2003. It was unrecognizable and was in such horrible shape it looked like it could have been used as a crack house. The outside was in disrepair and needed painting. The inside was much worse. The carpets were torn up and filthy, and the walls were covered in what looked like mold or something splattered. I could see where a poster had hung, perfectly silhouetted by a layer of smoke residue. The blinds on the windows were broken and

With his own hands, Dad had gutted and remodeled the kitchen with new cupboards, countertops, wood laminate floor, fixtures, paint, etc., before he sold it. The only thing that still looked in reasonably decent shape was the floor. It made me sad to see what it looks like now.

We were raised to take care of our things to the best of our ability, even if they were used, old, and cheap. This included our clothes, toys, tools, appliances, and cars, as well as our homes. At the very least, when money is scarce or possessions are meager, keeping your home and yard clean and tidy give a sense of control. The calming effect is real, not only while you live there but also when you move or sell. A discipline of continued light upkeep saves time when it’s necessary to deep clean.

That said, I know some beautiful people who have relegated housecleaning to a lower rung on their list of priorities, and that’s their prerogative. Mary was an example when she sat listening at Jesus’s feet while her sister Martha scurried around trying to make things nice for Him. Mary’s reward was Martha’s lesson.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41-42

A common misunderstanding is that the saying “cleanliness is next to godliness” is in the Bible. Many parents have tried to pass that off to their kids as scriptural (my lips are sealed) when it’s not, in that sense.

2 Corninthians 7:1 says,
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to com
pletion in fear of God.”

Of Jesus’s disciples, I can imagine Matthew, a tax collector, was calculated and meticulous, where Simon, a fisherman, was more laid back and, well, dirty and smelly. Both had their spiritual faults and physical and occupational differences, and both were essential in God’s plan for the world.

I find great comfort in knowing this:
Whether you decide to clean your house or come as you are,
Jesus welcomes you with open arms.


Are you content to be ordinary?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “ordinary” as:

  1. common
  2. no exceptional ability
  3. not particularly good

In 2003, Robert S. McGee wrote a book and Bible Study called “The Search For Significance,” which detailed how to overcome our insecurities about our abilities and use our talents with freedom from the opinions of others and the pressures we place upon ourselves. The book was a huge success and became a classic, helping Christians to look past the lies they’ve been told about their worthiness and look to Christ for love, acceptance, and self-worth. 

As I look around at the world today, I see so much neediness as people grasp all sorts of things to fill the void in their lives; drugs, alcohol, food, sugar, social media, pornography, technology, work, exercise, and even church. When a person seeks relief from what ails them, “cures” abound. When one tool no longer fills the need, it’s easy to find a replacement.  

Temporal remedies, by nature, never last long. They only allow more time to avoid our need for Jesus in our lives. 

Yesterday I wrote about habits and how we cultivate them all the time. Without a doubt, developing a relationship with Jesus Christ is the best habit I’ve ever formed. Even with an imperfect life, He gives me joy. When I’m in pain, I have hope. When I feel insecure, I know I can run to Him for encouragement. When I’m afraid, He comforts. When I’m lonely, He reminds me He is always with me. When I feel beaten down by the world, He lifts me. 

Isn’t simple faith what most of us are looking for; knowing in our heart that we are loved and acceptable through Jesus who made us so? We don’t have to do anything to prove our worth because we are worthy by His grace. When I felt the gift of grace was when everything else paled in comparison.

I’ve never heard anyone say they were sorry they knew Jesus, but I’ve listened to many regrets that it took so long to want to.

You are more than ordinary.

If you are His, you are chosen, and your significance is His Glory. 

Believe and respond.

For many are called, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:14


I was sitting here after consulting the Lord, wondering what I should write about today. Daily writing is part of a new discipline I’m trying to develop. Even if it’s only for fifteen minutes, it’s a start.  

We learn new habits all the time. Whenever God blesses us with an opportunity, lesson, or sweet reward, He helps us make the needed adjustments to glorify His name.  

Parents who have their first baby find themselves doing things that used to repulse them, like changing dirty diapers and getting up much earlier than they ever imagined. They seek information to give the best care to their little one, and the lion they never knew they had inside reveals in a protective posture against anyone who might do their child harm.

A new job can bring many changes; different hours, new location, learning skills, and more personality challenges to navigate while enjoying income security.

Lessons are not a bad thing, but some lessons are so complicated, if we aren’t careful, they can cause us to stagnate and look down instead of reaching up for the helping hand. 

Lessons that involve other people and how we react to what they have done or not done can be devastating. A single proactive prayer when facing the temptation to respond without the Lord in mind is grounding.  

One of the most challenging things I ever did was start praying for someone who hurt me deeply. I didn’t pray for them to get what I thought they deserved; I prayed for them to be healthy, happy, and prosperous. So hard to do. I didn’t mean it as the words left my mouth but almost without notice, the day came when the prayer was effortless, and I knew I had come through it, and everything was going to be okay. 

Cursing the darkness doesn’t make it go away, but praying and embracing the light will. Make the changes in yourself, and the rest will follow. God will sustain you in the thickness and bring you through to the other side. 

You are loved. 

You are worthy.  

You can do this.  

Let Jesus help you.

“For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18


I remember in the 60s, a time when most mothers stayed home, but my mom worked outside the home. It wasn’t a popular choice. She didn’t have to, but she always insisted on having her own money and told stories of working as a teenager cleaning people’s homes for hours and getting paid hardly anything. The money she did make, Grandma took to pay bills. It was a time of frugality and meager survival, but Mom said they always had plenty of delicious food on the table. I have no doubt these experiences molded Mom’s choices later in life.

Have you ever noticed, so often, a person’s early life experiences direct their later choices in such a way to reflect the exact opposite of what they went through? It’s like a knee-jerk reaction because they don’t want to repeat the negative experiences and emotions, and it’s such a personal thing because each person perceives an experience differently. It explains why parents who have raised all their children alike might have adult children who live and parent their children very differently than their parents did.

Oh, to be in the stage of life where looking back brings a comfortable understanding and humble forgiveness offered to others, as well as ourselves, for our young insecurities and lack of knowing better. We can even forgive those aware of what they are doing, and we do not need their permission. We can decide to keep our side of the street clean without sweeping the trash to the other side. It is truly a sweet time of reflection and closure to give the gift of mercy, forgiveness, and love and to accept it.

Time stands still, and the heart is finally at peace. Thank you, Heavenly Father. Thank you so much for never letting go.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32


The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
shining brighter and brighter until the full day.
Proverb 4:18

Sometimes I don’t wake up feeling like I’m shining very brightly. But having a cup of coffee and taking time to spend with the Lord is a crucial component to my day getting brighter and better. It took a long time to learn that I could control my attitude toward mornings. Mornings don’t master me.

Our hope is with Jesus!


Burnt Sugar Cake! Just like Bigmama made. | Burnt sugar ...

It’s funny how a memory you hadn’t thought about in ages comes to mind by way of a snippet of dialog or a photograph. Sometimes I don’t even know what jogged the memory. It seems to come out of nowhere. That’s how it happened today.

My age is showing. I’ve started regularly checking the obituaries from the area where I grew up to see if I know anyone, and more often than not, I do. As I looked at the list of people who met their maker the last few days, I noticed one named Smith. Smith is a common surname, but somehow my thoughts went back to 1971, the year we moved to town from the farm.

Clarinda, Iowa, is the county seat of Page County in Southwest Iowa. At the time, it had a population near 5,400, and it’s never fluctuated too much from that number since. We lived in a house two blocks north of the town square, across the street, and down half a block from the public library.

Our house was on the corner with an empty lot on one side where the old movie theater burned to the ground and flanked on the other by a tiny, well-kept white Victorian home. The front porch invited you to visit with a wicker rocking chair and wooden porch swing, often occupied by the residents, Sam and Mary Smith.

Sam was 89 years old, and Mary was 82. Maybe it was how their parents raised them, or simply how the world was back then, but Mom and Dad had a soft spot for the elderly, and Sam and Mary became friends of our young family. I remember going over to their house on weekend nights and watching the adults play cribbage, a game I could never understand.

The light of Sam and Mary’s lives was their daughter, Trula, who had died in 1930 at the age of 24. I don’t remember the cause of her death; the only significance is they spoke about their daughter as the eternally beautiful young lady she was when she passed away far too young. I didn’t realize it then, but Trula would have been older than my grandparents had she been alive. As an eleven year old, I saw her in my mind as her loving parents spoke of her.

Mary was a wonderful cake baker and spent the better part of her life baking beautiful cakes for weddings and special events. Apparently, our visits were an event because she blessed us with generous servings of homemade cake when we came to visit and usually sent us home with some to enjoy later. Her specialty was Burnt Sugar Cake.

I had never had burnt sugar cake before, but quickly, its delicate, mild, caramel flavor with matching icing became something I looked forward to at the Smith house. My birthday favorite was white cake with white frosting, but this cake was something so unique I don’t think I’ve ever had it since, and it’s been fifty years!

The memories inspired me to find a recipe for burnt sugar cake, and although I found several, I believe this link to the old classic from Betty Crocker is probably close to the one Mary used and I plan to make it in the near future. Try it out and leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Even if you don’t bake a cake, find an elderly person to love. It will do you both good.


Even to your old age I will be the same,
And even to your graying years I will bear you!
I have done it, and I will carry you;
And I will bear you and I will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4


The opposite of love is rejection.

Love covers a multitude of poor judgments with a healing balm of forgiveness.

Rejection never does.

Love gives the benefit of the doubt, for only God knows the heart.

Rejection doesn’t.

Love seeks the good because therein lies the light.

Rejection thrives on darkness.

Love respects.

Rejection spits.

Love offers pure and soul nourishing care.

Rejection breeds resentment.

Love extends mercy.

Rejection smiles at revenge.

Love comforts.

Rejection stirs fear.

Love is interested.

Rejection is careless.

Love dignifies the humble and righteously humbles the proud.

Rejection exalts worldly opinions of worth.

Love is stillness of heart.

Rejection strikes painful blows and opens old wounds.

Love empathizes.

Rejection scoffs.

Love values.

Rejection cheapens.

Love gently speaks words of truth.

Rejection spews condemnation and shame.

Love is listening.

Rejection turns its head.

Love offers peace for the soul.

Rejection pushes away eternal rescue.

Love is a choice.

With a heavy heart but never ending hope,

Love lets go.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-13



Oh, boy.

Instead of a trip, we decided to welcome a new puppy into the household in honor of our upcoming 25th anniversary. Nothing says celebratory relaxation like a baby dog, right? He’s an adorable, 6 pound, eight week old bundle of unrelenting day time energy.

I forgot what it was like to have such innocent, oblivious, curiousness at my feet. Dandy is a literal ankle-biter with needle teeth. He slides, tumbles, chases toys, and chews anything within his reach. We baby proofed the house, and still, Dandy will find the dust bunny behind the desk, the plant branch that hangs just within his reach, and the electrical cord you thought he couldn’t get to. That little piece of paper you were too lazy to pick up and throw in the trash? Problem solved. Dandy will eat it!

Feeding time is a juggling act. Dandy is still in survival mode and thinks he must rush to the food and water dish, or he won’t get any. Puppy food is not appealing to our older dog Chanse’s discerning palate, but Dandy not only loves his food but also gobbles the crumbs Chanse leaves on his plate. We must feed them separately to avoid tummy problems and anxiety attacks.

What goes in must come out, and Dandy is a good little eliminator. He goes when he wakes up, after eating, after drinking, after playing, after a nap, and sometimes after he comes in from going outside. He gets lots of praise when he eliminates outside, and a loud “NO!” and hand clap that startled him midstream the few times he’s forgotten the proper location for that sort of thing. He’s very young, and we are confident he will get it. He’s a Border Collie/Poodle mix, both known for their intelligence, so it’s only a matter of time when we can trust Dandy to do his duty calling appropriately.

Dandy shines as a night sleeper. I play a YouTube audio of calming music developed specifically to comfort puppies in their new home. The first night, Dandy cried for under ten minutes and slept the rest of the night until 7 AM. The second night he whimpered a little when I put him in his crate, and then I didn’t hear a peep from him until 7 AM again. In the morning, he bursts out of the crate like a horse out of the gate, jumping and twirling all the way to the back door. I’m so thankful he sleeps so I can sleep, too, or I don’t know how I’d keep up with him. The young will keep you young!


I’m feeling so blessed. Tired, but blessed.


Photographed by Tamra Witt. Artwork by Poiema Cards.

Her world was hanging by a sliver of hope that in three days, her will to survive would overcome her desire to leave all she ever knew behind.

Her friend put French braids in her hair to keep it out of her face while she drank the thick black liquid that would soak up the solution to her problems, she thought.

It was 1997 and sounds of the Super Bowl were blaring throughout the ER as everyone cheered on the local team with hopes of a win.

While the city celebrated, she spent three days crying inconsolably. The staff couldn’t work with her in her state of complete sorrow. She wondered where her hope was. Did she not deserve to have hope? It all seemed so pointless.

Her friend brought some clothes from the thrift store, so she had something to wear besides what she wore to the hospital. The “pastor” from church brought a carton of cigarettes. She thought how ironic. Did the Holy Spirit lead her to do that? Her parents called.

When she had rested enough to clear her head, she was able to plan. Writing out each step, she detailed what she would do and who she would call in case of another slip on the upward slope of life. Part of her plan was to find a new church and get serious. Her plan was her hope.

Sitting on the “smoking patio” filled with people in different stages of pain, a man walked by in his hospital gown and farted loudly right in front of her face. “Is this not my life?”, she thought. She tried to act like she didn’t hear it until she noticed a woman across the room stifling a laugh. As they caught each other’s eyes, the dam burst, and the inconsolable tears turned to uncontrollable laughter. They laughed so much it was starting to bother those who weren’t in on the “joke”, and they couldn’t explain because the man who caused all the ruckus was obliviously sitting there smoking his cigarette.
She and her new friend exchanged phone numbers.

The next day the sun was shining, and the air was crisp and clear. She hugged her friend, laughed some more, and with her plan in hand, went home.

“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing”. Zephaniah 3:17

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