Has it really been 6 years since I turned 50?

When I turned 50, my mom held a lovely party for me.  The occasion, in my opinion, warranted a speech from the guest of honor – me!   Here is that speech:

Well, it happened.  I turned 50.  I’ve been anticipating, and more often dreading it for all of 2010.  During the last months, I’ve found myself wondering whether I look like I’m 50.  I’ve noticed other women who are showing a little age and thought that, surely, they must be a couple years older than me!  Now there are a few of you who know that 50 is old, because you haven’t reached it yet.  But some of you are looking back at 50 and thinking that I’ve been silly to worry about turning such a young age.  I know because I’ve laughed at those who dread 30 or 40.

But my thoughts about getting older haven’t all been about the superficial.  I’ve wondered whether I’m getting wiser as I get older.  At times, when I’ve felt immature in some way, I’ve told myself “You’re almost 50!” with the underlying thought “you should know better.”

To my credit, there have been moments when I’ve appreciated each year of my life, remembering that some are taken by death before reaching this milestone.  Life is a gift that should be celebrated!  And I’m so glad that each one of you is here today to celebrate with me.

On Wednesday, while I was anticipating this weekend of celebration, I was informed of two rather shocking events that occurred that day.  A friend called me at noon to tell me that her brother’s mother-in-law had walked out to her mailbox that morning and was struck by a car and killed.  On Wednesday evening, I was asked to pray for a family whose 2 year old daughter had suddenly died.   Naturally, my heart went out to both of the families involved.  But I also thought a bit about that moment when life on earth ends.  Sometimes it comes way too early.  Sometimes it seems to take too long.  None of us knows when it will be, and none of us can add an hour to our lives by worrying about it.

I have a good friend, who is quite a bit older than me.  I’ve mentioned my birthday to her several times, and of course, she doesn’t think 50 is old.  When she turned 65 this year, she realized that in another 15 years, she may not be here.  So, she decided to make sure that she is living days that count.  She tells me “You’re not old.  Your age doesn’t matter.  What matters is how you are living your life.”

The truth is I may not be here in 15 years.  I may reach four or five more milestone birthdays, or this could be my last one.  I’m OK with that.  Life is a wonderful adventure, and there are many things I look forward to in the years to come.  The two unexpected deaths that came on Wednesday remind me that my life could end suddenly.  But, death has lost its sting.  I have been assured by Jesus that I have already crossed over from death to life.

I have another dear friend who I’m tempted to call my “oldest” friend.  She’s not really the oldest, but has been my friend for the longest time.  We’re lifelong friends, but we don’t get to see each other very often.  Sometimes she writes me a note to tell me what’s going on in her life.  She then blesses me by telling me what my friendship means to her and reminds me that we will have all of eternity to be together.

Thank you for celebrating life with me today.  I’m not going to take a poll to see whether you think I look like I’m 50 or not.  I do plan on focusing on making my days and years count.  And, hopefully, I’ve shared a little wisdom.


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got kids? got respect?

My husband I are going to a Parenting Conference in a few weeks.  Even though our sons are already men, I can’t resist the opportunity to hear Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and his wife, Sarah, teach about Love & Respect in the Family when the event is only 1 1/2 hours away!  I also subscribe to the notion that you can teach an old dog new tricks and suspect that there will be some wisdom to be gleaned about parenting adult children.

You may know that I’ve been a fan of the Love & Respect teachings for years because they work!  The latest book from Dr. Eggerichs, “Mothers and Sons:  The Respect Effect”, points out that sons, as well as husbands, are motivated by respectful communication.  I expect a bit of this teaching to be included at the conference.


But the basic topic is “Love & Respect in the Family:  The Respect Parents Desire, The Love Children Need.”  Having read the book by that title (which I hope to get autographed), I know that participants will learn about The Family Crazy Cycle.  You may have never have heard of it, but if you’ve got kids, you’ve likely participated in it, and if you don’t have kids, you’ve no doubt seen it play out in a mall or restaurant, or even at church.  The scene (cycle) goes like this:  a child feels unloved and reacts to a parent in a disrespectful way.  The parent, who now feels disrespected, reacts to the child in a way that feels more unloving, triggering more disrespect…

Someone has to break the spiraling, and, of course, it needs to be the mature person – the adult.  Eggerichs maintains that when children are loved in a biblical way, they are more motivated to show respect to their parents.  In the book, he follows the lesson on recognizing and stopping the Crazy Cycle with a series of guidelines for showing true love to a child.  They include Giving, Understanding, Instructing, Disciplining, Encouraging, and Supplicating in prayer, practices that can be implemented by either mother or father, but are most effective when both parents cooperate and work as a parenting team.


Another family dynamic that most of us have witnessed is the ol’ divide and conquer tactic that kids try to use to their advantage.  Of course, the presence of a united mom and dad is truly most advantageous.  One of my prayers for families is that even if parents have divorced, they be willing to show respect to each other and work together for the good of their kids, never fighting in front of them or putting children in unfair situations.

The Eggerichs understand how divorce affects children since they both experienced it in their families, and they desire to help couples and families thrive in peaceful homes.  That is also one of my goals.

Perhaps you are interested in attending the Parenting Conference on November 11-12, 2016, at Spring Hills Baptist Church in Granville, Ohio.  Find info and registration form HERE.  You may also sign up for child care.

If you’d like to read or listen to the book, you can purchase it here and listen to Dr. Eggerichs explain the purpose of his Love & Respect in the Family teaching.  Other on-line booksellers also offer the books.

PLUS, the Love and Respect website  includes a lot of FREE insight and teaching about marriage and family challenges and success in the form of blog posts, podcasts, and videos. 

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Thank You, Oglebayfest!

As Summer suddenly surrendered to Fall, a Wheeling, West Virginia, outdoor festival complete with creativity, food and breathtaking views helped me say good-bye to my favorite season.  Early October can bring drastically varying weather to this part of the country.  In past years, Oglebayfest has been drenched with rain, scorched by the sun, or chilled to the bones.  But the 2016 weekend was blessed by partly sunny skies and comfortable coolness, issuing in jeans and sweaters season.

This brought a crowd  to the ski resort known for its Christmas lights displays.  When we arrived, my husband was unable to find a parking space near the Artists’ Market, so I was dropped off there to begin my tour.  Almost instantly, the feast for my senses began.  Oglebay’s summer is highlighted by beautiful gardens, and on this October Saturday, the blossoms seemed oblivious to the approaching frosts.

Winding down the flower-lined path toward the craft booths, I filled my lungs with cool, clean air and began to catch the scents of popping kettle corn and frying potatoes and peppers.  Having lived much of my life in flat, farming country, I delighted in being on top of a West Virginia mountain overlooking the beautiful park.  There is a sense of almost dizzying AWE when one is standing above the land and closer to the sky.

Still, I wasted no time in getting to the first artist’s booth, a jewelry display that I recognized from past visits.  While my husband was slowly making his way down the hill and eventually back up searching for a parking space, I enjoyed visiting potters, woodworkers, and painters, making mental notes of particularly creative items for which I might return.  One tent contained delightful hand-painted gourd decorations hung on a Christmas tree – did I just say Christmas?  A young woman was in the process of choosing an ornament for her mother, and my brief interaction with her increased my joyfulness.  It is a wonderful feeling to find that “perfect” gift for a loved one.  By the end of the festival, I had purchased a Christmas gift for each of my sisters and two old-fashioned clothespin dolls to tuck into Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.


I was about half way though the Artists’ Market when Dave was finally able to join me.  I kidded him about being lucky to not have had to endure all of my shopping, but, I truly appreciate his willingness to take me to festivals and help me make decisions about purchases.  Together, we bought a handmade house number sign for our home.


Walking along, we met several friends to talk to and could hear talented musicians performing well-known songs.  Another sense was satisfied, with only taste left to be indulged.  Festival goers were welcome to sample a variety of wares, including wine, dips, fudge, and roasted peanuts.  My chosen comfort food was rice pudding, and Dave went for those fried potatoes.  And, off course, we took home a bag of kettle corn for later.

At the end of the day, I rested in a deep sense of contentment.  Why is that?  An interesting piece in Sunday’s newspaper quoted the author, saying “Feeling awe may be the secret to health and happiness.”  The article focused on rock climbing as a potential healing process for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with one young man saying “I literally climbed out of depression.”  When I couple the awe of nature’s beauty – mountains, gardens, sky – with the amazing creativity of artists, I experience an uplifting sense of joy and feel motivated to create.

Science is revealing the benefits of getting outside, walking in the forest, looking at the stars, and experiencing AWE.  A few days after Oglebayfest, we’ve had frost and are seeing tinges of color in the leaves.  It will be a another beautiful time of the year.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Psalm 19:1


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From Coach to Author!

A few years ago, I began visiting a couple of 1st grade classrooms in our public elementary school to share “Winners Walk Tall” lessons with the boys and girls.  “Winners Walk Tall” is a character education program that was developed by a Cincinnati area grandfather whose desire was to help students succeed and avoid being drawn into gangs.

Since I have a soft spot for kids and their futures, my heart was quickly drawn to WWT.  When the timing was right, I worked up the lessons adding my personal touch and began encouraging the 6 and 7 year old students to be honest, respectful, and responsible and to work hard toward worthy goals.

I had no idea that being a “Winners Walk Tall” coach would lead me to writing books!  During the 2014-15 school year, I put together a book for the classrooms called “All Done…Unless” that reminds kids to clean up after themselves.  The process and product were so rewarding that I followed up in 2015-16 with “Words That Win”.  Incorporating many of the goals of WWT, my poetry informs kids that our tongues should be used for good manners, kindness, good sportsmanship, telling the truth and the like.

Here’s the first page:


Here’s the last page, p. 20:


Production of “Words That Win” is very limited, but I have a few hard cover copies and have now done a paperback version that’s a little less costly.  It really gives me joy to provide an engaging, positive book that teachers, parents, and grandparents can share with children.  And, I am extremely blessed to know that a couple of school counselors have embraced “Words That Win”!


“From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.”  Proverbs 12:14

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