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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Fun With a Cat, Garbage Truck, and Self-discipline

   Beginning tomorrow, I will add SELF-DISCIPLINE to my to-do list.  Enough with the casual , retiree attitude of “I will get to the shower-taking, exercising, healthy food making/eating, laundry, chores later.  And as long as I can postpone them, I'll just lay in bed a little bit longer….”

     A month ago, I got out of bed on the wrong foot, (or is it side?) because the cat that happened to be under my foot at the time. Her tigress scream got my adrenaline pumping so fast, I had to lie down again until the tachycardia subsided.

   Out of fear that my heart might stampede again with the addition of caffeine, I skipped my breakfast coffee. That lack was the reason my eyes were still half closed while driving.  Suddenly I had to make a quick decision when the garbage man walked around from the back of his truck, into part of my lane.  Let’s see: hit the man or snow pile?  I wisely chose the latter. The ice on top of the snow bank was a surprise, as was the sound it made skimming the front bumper.  My vehicle kept traveling, so I assumed it was probably fine. Besides, I was late for the YMCA Yoga for Old People class.

   After surviving several dead bug and quivering-tree namaste positions, I limped out to the parking lot. The friendly driver of the car parked next to mine called out, “Hey, did you know you have a flat tire?”  “No thanks," I answered. "I mean no, thanks!”  The missing pieces of car body around the deflated tire solved the mystery of the previously heard CRUNCH.  

   To end this sad (but mostly true) tale quickly--500 deductible dollars later I am the proud owner of a new bumper.  Unfortunately, my van's other dents and rust spots are now more noticeable.

    People like to quote people who say things always happen for a reason. Improving my self-discipline (including getting out of bed at sunrise) is my goal, starting tomorrow.  

   Or maybe next week?  

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Prodigal Dad's Lament

To my dearly loved child,

   I miss hearing from you.  My various attempts at communicating have not been successful in prompting your replies.

   Is there a reason you have not acknowledged the many gifts I have sent?  Have you set them aside temporarily, thinking they will be used and appreciated when you find room in your schedule?

    We relate to the passing of time very differently. You pack your 24 hour day with self-care responsibilities, obligatory duties, numerous concerns, and not enough rest.  Let me encourage you to replace your burdened busyness with divine direction.  Will you accept my help?

   How long has it been since you have seen me?  No, I haven’t forgotten the traditional Easter and Christmas visit interactions.  Hopefully, you don't perceive those celebrations as tiresome obligations. 

   When you were very young, you postponed bedtime by asking "why?" questions. An attentive listener then, you easily memorized prayers and Bible promises.  Your requests for silly things you didn’t need (“a pony to ride to school, please”) still makes me smile.  Remember how you would repeatedly ask to hear my stories and songs? 

   As a grade-schooler, do you recall confessing sins against your siblings? (“I'm sorry I got mad and threw him off the bed.”) You thought an apology would cancel consequences. But because your brother was hurt from the top bunk  fall, there was a medical bill to be paid. Forgiveness is a gift.  Justice requires payment. Do you understand that lesson now?

   I forgive you for being embarrassed to associate with me during your teen years and beyond. My love always was and will continue to be available.  Perhaps your fears and tears will urge you to seek truth and support. Until then, like the prodigal's dad, I eagerly wait for your return. 


   Dear highly valued, adopted one: let me encourage you to spend time with me. Read and think about my Word. Pray. Nurture your hungry soul. Worship. Rejoice in the miracle of our redeemed relationship. 

 Let’s have a feast and celebrate !   Luke 15:23

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights. James 1:17

Monday, March 25, 2019

Yes Buts and Round-Tuits

   Which excuse is your favorite: yes-but, or I just didn’t get a-round-tuit?

Did you clean the gerbil cage/closet/bedroom/garage/(fill in the blank) ______?
Yes, but…

Why haven’t you started your homework/cooking/job/(fill in the blank) ______?
I just didn’t get around to it.

   When my above average children were grade-schoolers, I used charts, stickers, bribes, threats, guilt, and reverse psychology (“Don’t bother putting away your Legos. I’ll enjoy vacuuming  them up later.”)  to urge chore completion. Their responses to responsibility-growth opportunities were about as consistent as my behavior guidance techniques.

   As a job coach of teens and young adults, I have been entertained by a myriad of creative answers to my inquiries. “Do you know what time you’re late/what the dress code is/your responsibilities?”  Yes, but, my mom is away on vacation and she forgot to tell her friend to remind me to…. “Did you finish the application/paperwork/training/requirements?”  Funny thing, I was just about to, when my dad called to say he needed my help figuring out his….

   Because my self-discipline is not the best, and God’s will is, my prayers include asking Him to redirect my conduct in obvious ways. The other day, I was thinking about some irresponsible, frustrating, they-don’t-deserve-patience, excuse-making individuals.  As fate would have it (or some cosmic coincidence), one of the people who was extra good at pushing my exasperation button, was sitting only one pew away.  In church.  At a worship service.

   The details elude me, but one of the verses pastor mentioned that Sunday was: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”  (I John 3:17)  I enjoyed marking it in my Bible with my new blue, see-through highlighter.

 Hmmm, I don’t remember reading that verse before. Oh shoot, is God reminding me of the Facebook post regarding all the flooding and dire conditions in Malawi right now?  You know Lord, I was just about to donate on-line and then I thought I better make sure it’s not a scam, and so as while I was researching that, there were these texts beeping in on my phone...

   Later that night, something motivated me to continue in I John, reading chapters 3 and 4.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on use, that we should be called children of God!....This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (3:1, 16)

   So many beautiful, comforting, love verses to appreciate. But the command parts, like my method of devouring popcorn, stuck in my throat:  

 “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another …If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen...”  (3:23, 4:20)

   Yikes! Yes Lord, I realize loving others is a good thing. But loving my brothers is your rule and not my choice?  You know I pray a lot for patience and wisdom to deal with get-under-my-skin types, especially if they are believers. Attitude readjustments are so difficult for me!  Lord, I will work on this, but I need your help to pursue this love rule. 

   With the scalpel of His grace-drenched word, God performs heart surgery. The Holy Spirit can turn my stiff-neck in align with His will.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be
careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36: 26-27)

  Please excuse the blog interruption.  It's time for me to sit my yes-but down, and get a round tuit

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A Spark of Joy by Naomi Raddatz (Guest Post)

We have been doing some remodeling.  This easy sentence comes attached with
 a million decisions, much compromise, some personal reflection and of course
 a lot of mess.  Last week as I was in the middle of Marie Kondoing my extra
 bedroom/ daughters’ room/office / dog room/ storage/multipurpose room, (you know 
the room being referred to) I had a revelation.
One of the procedures Marie Kondo so simply states in her The KonMari Method
 of Tidying, is to gather every item from a category, or sub- category and lay them
 all out on the floor.  Once you have done that you are to pick up each item and ask yourself:

                “Does this spark joy?”
                “Does this item touch your heart?
                  If it does keep it.
                  If not, consider giving it a new home.
This sounded like a decent plan, so I started by tackling 
something that surrounded every corner of the room-- my books. As I took the books out of their
 bins and dumped them on the floor, I noticed the themes: marriage advice, children’s picture
 books, art books, text books from college, parenting books, gardening tomes, exercise manuals, 
the list went on and on.   Wow, I really need to book an appointment with myself to read a few of
 these books. Even digesting one from start to finish would be an awesome accomplishment! The
 pile of rediscovered volumes started on the floor and towered 
over the bedside.  I felt overwhelmed,  but pushed on .
 Does this book spark joy? Does it touch my heart?  Do I really need to keep it? 
For some yes, some no, others pulled in directions that hurt the soul.  Books
 are powerful that way.   Maybe that is why I have so many.  
Ok, back to tidying…  As I worked through the process of discarding  a few of
 the many books, a small voice whispered. “Just one, one is all that you need.”  No, this voice was not
 from Marie Kondo.  believe it was from above, leading me to that large brown book that was given to
 me by my grandparents on my confirmation day.   A children’s tune played in my head:  “the  B-I-B-L-E
 yes that’s the book for me I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E. “
No other book ever written claims within its pages to be:  The Armor of God,  (Ephesians 6:10-18)
 Alive and powerful, sharper than the sharpest two edged sword, (Hebrews 4:12)  A lamp to my feet
 and a light for my path, (Psalm 119:105) God-breathed, (2 Timothy 3:16 )  Divinely written,
 (2 Peter 1:20-21)  Unchanging (James 1:17) (Isaiah 40:8) The Word of God.  (I Thessalonians 2:13)
As I looked upon my enormous stack of books ready to instruct, council, or entertain, I realized that
 books must be important to God, since he used one to communicate his plan of salvation.  
 My help comes from the LORD the maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-8) The Scriptures are alive 
and active!  They were written to show us God’s grace plan for our salvation.  It is my prayer that this 
 book will spark joy in your heart as you face the challenges and blessings  of each new day. 
God’s love and encouragement is just one book away. 

Guest blogger Naomi Raddatz resides in Manitowoc, Wisconsin with her husband and four children.  She is a
 graduate of Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN with an elementary education degree in teaching. 
The Lord has allowed her to fulfill calls in three schools  over the scan of two decades in the teaching ministry.
Raising her own children and volunteer work in the church and community is now her passion.  Community
service through the board of directors of Clipper City food Co-op takes up a  chunk of her time and energy
these days.  She has always had a passion for children's literature and loves how picture  books light up the
eyes of children. She is in the process of publishing her first children's novel!
Being able to write with a Christian perspective is a true joy that she hopes will enhance the perspective
and faith of all of who read her work. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Why Does God Remember (Insignificant) Me?

(Reposted from

Out of ten billion galaxies why did God choose earth?
Descending from his powerful throne, why Immanuel through birth?
Was it a mistake, in a perfect garden to give man-kind free-will?
Did Eve in sin realize the debt He would fulfill?
The complexity of  human life confuses explanation.
The Lord’s omniscient wisdom is beyond imagination.
Why the promise, the exchange, the cross, the assurance of salvation?
Move us God, to share the plan of grace to every nation.
The Source of holiness and love had to require justice,
But Christ’s willing sacrifice has overcome sin’s darkness!
Now He soothes our anxious hearts, not leaving us alone.
Spirit, guide our footsteps until we reach our heavenly home.

Whenever I look up at your heavens, the works of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place—
what is man that you remember him,
the son of man that you pay attention to him!
Psalm 8: 3-4 EHV

Holy Hen House

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Blizzard Blessings?

   Was the phrase, “in the dead of winter” invented in Wisconsin?  After the last two weeks of blizzards, hazardous travel, and negative temperatures, it is apropos. In our area the schools and most businesses were closed for three days. Thankfulness for people in the public service fields, especially snowplow drivers, was increased and expressed.

   Those of us who were able to stay warm in our homes, put soup on the stove, enjoyed a change from hectic routines, and counted blessings in the midst of windy whiteness.  

   How often do the hardships things of life: bad weather, pain, sickness, and tragedies of all sorts, motivate hindsight gratitude?   This has repeatedly been the case in my experiences. The disruption of normalcy gives a cause to pause, a retrieve to breathe. Allowing an escape from culture’s busyness trap, the unexpected prompts me to mindfully seek God.   

   Have funerals served this purpose in your life? 
For Jesus-followers burying a Christian loved one, the ceremonial goodbye is usually a mix of competing emotions.  Shock, numbness, sadness and lonely despair are covered (by God’s promises) with a blanket of heavenly hope. No more hardships for the casket-dweller: only indescribable joy with the Savior. People navigating grief journeys remind us to be grateful for the together times we currently enjoy.   

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

   The Psalm writer, King David, had his share of sins, hardships and tragedies. His reactions to them make him relatable to us 3,000 years later. For the dedication of the temple property, David crafted a song expressing insight gleaned from his ups and downs. (Psalm 30) 

I will exalt you, Lord,
    for you lifted me out of the depths  and did not let my enemies gloat over me… 11 You turned my wailing into dancing;   you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Reflect: Have you gone through bitter winters of change or loss that God transformed into thanks-giving?

Dear Lord, 
Teach us to put on the joy clothes you provide, especially during weather and emotional storms. Please give us a David heart that sings your praise, and appreciates our countless blessings. Thank you for unexpected disruptions of our daily plans that direct our eyes to your Word. When it seems we are caught in the middle of “always winter but never Christmas,*” renew us with your sure promise of a resurrection Spring.  In Jesus‘ name.  Amen 

*C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

What Retirement Planners Don't Mention

   Are you thinking of enjoying more of life by retiring before age 60?  Sounds good, until you discover that doing so increases your death risk by 51%, especially for men. ( In other cheery words, when you stop working, you'll have free time to kill, but it may kill you. Health professionals encourage waiting until 65 and doing cardio exercises.  I am wondering how to make snack retrieval (computer chair to kitchen and back) an aerobic activity.  

  As soon as my Medicare supplement said they would pay for an eye exam, I splurged on new prescription glasses. You might want to consider this purchase for yourself, but with caution.  Why?  With improved vision you see previously unnoticed things in your home: cobwebs, faded paint, ceiling cracks, bugs in all the light fixtures, and a surprising amount of clutter! I don’t recall my investment advisor including plans for dumpster rental costs.  

   Sadly, I can no longer claim the “no time” excuse to ignore my 20+ years’ worth of tightly packed closets, treasures stuffed under beds, a workshop that has no space for work, and various clutter collections.  The transition from work life to house to-dos now includes the revelation, “Why am I keeping this stuff?”  Perhaps purging will provide some much-needed memory tests.  Had the younger versions of me and my husband attempted to answer life’s purpose by accumulating possessions? My new adage is the disinheritance strategy, “Throw it away so the kids won’t have to.”  

   One item I elected to keep is a full length mirror.  As I walk past, the mirror becomes a valuable reminder to change clothes from pajama casual to clean, public presentable. Additionally, keeping and using two morning alarm clocks helps counteract my sleeping-in (retirement transition) addiction.

  There is one type of person for whom the relaxed retirement mode may cause emotional strain.  Typically this individual was in a caring-for-others career, came home to ambitious multitasking for family needs, and often postponed doing anything ‘just for myself.”  If this sounds familiar, here are some guilt-reducing reasons and actions to include in your retirement plan:

*Investing in self kindness recharges compassion energy for others.

*If you stop using your mind and muscles you won’t be able to get on the floor to play with grandchildren.

*A yoga and/or stretch class is a lot cheaper than physical therapy.

*Taking classes or trying new experiences slows aging and prevents boredom

*A person who pursues the things he said he would enjoy in retirement, affirms his integrity.

*Laughter is important for the digestive system.

*Retirement is life’s mulligan, the ultimate repurposing opportunity.


Which bits of wisdom for retirement plans will
 you put on a well-placed sticky note?