Monday, August 6, 2018

Middle School, Friends, and Locker Woes


Many things change.

Many stay the same.

Middle school kids, especially those in 6th grade, still sweat over remembering where their classes are and one searing question keeps them awake at night:

"Will I be able to open my locker?"

Can you remember the worries you had the night before the first day of middle school (or Junior High, depending on your age)? 

Will I fit in?
Who will I eat with at lunch?
Will I have any friends in my classes?
Are my clothes good enough?

Emotions can get a guy in trouble in middle school ... if he can't control himself when he's angry ...

  Jase couldn’t see or hear clearly. The kids in the hall were a blur of faces and backpacks. None of the voices were familiar. They were just a mix of sounds that didn’t matter. He didn’t recognize anyone, and he didn’t care. Rounding the corner, he ran smack into Ashley.
  "Watch where you’re going, Ashley! Get out of my way!” 
  She stared, wide-eyed at the boy that looked like Jase Freeman but certainly didn’t act like him.
  Without apology, he stepped around her.
  All of these stupid kids. They think life is hard. They have no clue.
  He pushed his way into class. He grabbed his chair and slung it away from the desk. He sat but not still. He wanted to crawl out of his own skin. He felt his heart beating behind his eyes—boom, boom-boom, boom, boom-boom!

   Jase Freeman, from The Wish I Wished Last Night, has another story worth your time. Battle Buddies, book 2 in The Crumberry Chronicles series, will release September 4th. 

I think you should read both books before giving them to your kids to read. You should always know what your kids are putting into their impressionable brains. Words, spoken, sung, and written are powerful.

Jase Freeman knows what trouble comes around when a middle school kid doesn't control his anger.

Wouldn't you like to find out, too?

The Wish I Wished Last Night, available now. Look for Battle Buddies September 4th, 2018! 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Home is in My Heart

The kitchen was very much the same.

Her chair remained in its place, cozy blanket draped over the back.

Her purse sat in a corner. Her personal favorite style shoes--slip on flats--were nearby.

And it felt like she would come walking down the hall at any moment and tell us to get out of her kitchen.

If you've experienced this kind of empty familiarity, you understand the adjustment that follows. The one that steals your breath and burns your throat. The one that makes you want to scream but instead you close your eyes in silence. You don't want to cry, yet you wish you could cry it all out and be done.

Once I adjusted, her kitchen felt like an old friend.

I touched the things she loved, the stuff of life that we surround ourselves with. Pictures, books, earrings, nail polish, and a hymnal. I scratched her fur-baby,  "Molly, Molly," behind the ears and told her I knew it was hard.

Those of us who gathered there talked and laughed and worked.

And we accepted the fact that she would not ever walk down the hall again.

And as we reminisced, we reminded each other of her perfect existence with Jesus. The Hope of all who believe.

All the scriptures she read and the questions she asked about heaven are no longer mysteries. And if she could, she would not choose to walk this broken earth again.

She would say, "I'll see you when you get here!"

To all who loved her and all who never had the gift in life to know her--

I hope you know HIM. Jesus the Christ, the Savior of the world. The One who said "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me..."

Believe and know, God is real.

People are born. People live. And people die.

And God made a way for us to know perfect peace and joy even as we long to be with those we love.

There is no longer an earthy home to "go home" to. That's okay. Buried in my heart are the memories of fudge and crocheted slippers, laughter and Judge Judy, bird feeders and fairy gardens.

Home is in my heart.

Thank you, Jesus, for saving my soul!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Generation After Generation

I remember Joey. Cutest four-year-old little boy I had ever met. Curly locks and heart-melting smile.

Someone trusted my friend and me to teach Vacation Bible School.

We were young teens.

We loved Jesus.

We loved children.

And we taught them.


I remember being third trimester pregnant, twice, teaching 5th and 6th graders Vacation Bible School. I had cankles … and you know what cankles are …

I remember the first time I stood back and watched a couple of teens teaching Vacation Bible School … teens I had the privilege of  leading as children … teens our church family poured into and trusted to serve.

What joy it is to see Bible teaching come full circle!

I remember my children enjoying Vacation Bible School as attenders and growing up within  the church family to lead others.

And as I look around my disaster of an office, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that the Lord God would allow me and others the honor and privilege of being a part of this amazing ministry called Vacation Bible School.

God works through this ministry because it belongs to Him.

He works and touches generation after generation.

Lives change.

Friendships begin.

The heart of servanthood bursts into full bloom.

God has put together an amazing team for our VBS next week. Won't you please pray for us? Pray for God's presence and will and pleasure.

I think of Joey and wonder … perhaps he's somewhere teaching 4-year-old children about God's love. Or maybe preteens … or teens …

Teaching children makes a difference.

And my prayer is that God will light a fire in the hearts of His people to choose to teach children.

Because lives change.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Right is Not the Enemy and Neither is the Left

I know there are others out there who are super-tired of what we hear and read when we try to get caught up on the news.

It's frustrating.

Here's my personal opinion on it all.

When it comes down to what matters most, all the bickering doesn't matter.

The Right is not the Enemy.

The Left is not the Enemy.

And the Enemy doesn't care if we are prolife or prochoice.

The Enemy doesn't care if we are #MAGA or #Impeach45.

The Enemy has no horse in the race of liberal or conservative.

You know what? The Enemy doesn't really care whether you go to church or the barroom. You can stay home and become the next episode of Hoarders or travel the world, for all the Enemy cares.

And we can fight or make peace and it won't matter an ounce to the Enemy.

As long as we are not asking Jesus to be Lord of our lives or telling others about the gift of eternal life … the Enemy is quite content to be a spectator of our destruction.

For me, it comes down to the fact the Enemy doesn't care if we feed the children or save the children or shoe the children as long as we don't TELL the children …

And for me, I take the Great Commission personally and apply it to the next generation.

And you should know how I pray. I do pray for  my country. I love America. And I pray for the children. And I pray for families and churches and my president and friends who are hurting.

My prayer is for you. That first you will know God's redeeming love. And once you do, my prayer is you will TELL the children. Teach the children. Befriend the children. Be a mentor to the children.

Don't wait until you feel ready or knowledgeable enough or your life settles down enough …

Don't give the Enemy credit for all that's wrong with America and the rest of the world.

Do something the Enemy hates. TELL the children and make a difference.

#Childrensministries #VacationBibleSchool

Do it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET


   Having never been in trouble in his school career, Jase had no clue what in-school suspension meant.

   The office assistant smiled her way-too-cheerful smile and asked him to follow her. She took him to room 122. It was full of old desks, stacks of resource books, and a box of newspapers. A broom was propped in a corner. The windows had streaky brown paint on them, lest any sun sneak in and cheer the room. SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET was printed on the whiteboard.

   Jase rubbed his nose hoping to delete the musty odor emanating from the stacks of books.

   Three kids sat among the books. Their eyes were dull and sunken, at least that’s what Jase thought. He wondered how long they had been here. He imagined they were healthy looking kids long ago, before their banishment to in-school suspension. 

   “Have a nice day,” insisted Joy as she turned to go back to her sun-filled office.

   The adult in the room was enormous. He stood in the back, beefy hands on mammoth hips. His immensely round cheeks pushed his eyes upward, into his protruding brow. He sneered at Jase, showing his larger than huge teeth.

   “Boy! Sit!”

   Jase sat.

   “Don’t just sit there, boy! Get out a book and get busy.”

   It was at this moment Jase decided he would never tell a teacher “no” ever again. Not ever again. He watched the clock and counted down the time to lunch. He never thought he would look forward to the cafeteria, but a morning spent in gloom with Mr. Doom was enough to make mystery meat taste like steak.

Excerpt from Battles Buddies, book 2 in The Chronicles of Crumberry. Coming soon!

Follow Jase Freeman, from The Wish I Wished Last Night (Elk Lake Publishing), just a kid trying to figure it all out and stay out of trouble at the same time. Can that even be done?

Special thank you to all my reader friends who have enjoyed this project and have shared it with others! God bless!



Friday, June 22, 2018

Where Birthdays Are No More

June 22.

Mom's birthday. The one she wanted to live to see.

She tried. She really tried. What an amazing woman she was.

For those of us left behind, this day is strange.

Relief that she is no longer hurting, no longer striving, no longer trying.

Sorrow because we long to be near her.

Gratitude for what she gave us.

As one of my sisters said, the world is "off" now. Not right. Different. Nothing matters and yet everything matters very much.

As my brother and I discussed--our mother's love continues through us. Each time we love on a little one--oh, how she loved babies. Each time we bake something she was known for or sing a song or plant or pick a flower. Even in our anger, her love lives on.

She will never be 75. And what an amazing blessing that is, because now she lives outside of time. We mark our days by birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, promotions, celebrations …

But the celebration in heaven isn't marked by time. An eternal celebration of the Blood of The Lamb is going strong. The eternal celebration of life in paradise without end. The eternal celebration of the love of God.

My mom praised Jesus for giving her strength. In her last days, when words were few, she praised Him for strength. What an amazing remembrance. He is the Giver of all strength.

I think on that often.

Are you longing for someone?

It's okay to cry, but don't cry too long. Instead, try to imagine the celebration. Try to imagine eternity outside of time.

I gave all I understood of myself to all I understood of God when I was young. My dad told me of his prayer asking Jesus into his heart at the age of 18. I don't know how old my mom was when she invited Jesus into her heart. I hope you have done so as well.

When I step outside of time and into forever, I'll thank Jesus for saving my soul. I'll find my dad. He's been gone ten years.  And I'll find my mom. And we will recognize each other.

And we will celebrate Jesus forever and ever and ever and ever …

And birthdays will be no more.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Wishing for Rules

Monopoly.

Buy more property and houses than the other players and you win.

Baseball.

Hold your opponent's team to a score lower than your team's score and, you win.

Cookies.

Bake in a 375 oven for ten minutes and you'll have the perfect bite of soft-cookie-goodness.

Driving.

Maintain the speed limit on your next trip, and you won't get a speeding ticket.

I've stumbled into something that has no rules. And, while everyone will experience this sooner or later, there is no one to tell me to "place tab A into slot B" and everything will fall into place.

Wading through grief that changed the world is like walking in familiar surroundings while covered in a dense fog.

Anger. Despair. Joy. Peace. Hope. They all live in the fog.

I keep looking for some sort of timepiece, something that will announce a date and time the fog will lift.

While searching for a way out, I've stumbled over something amazing.

Truth.

Truth in the form of kept promises. Promises such as:

"I will be with you wherever you go."

"The Lord is my rock and my shelter."

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart … "

"He is faithful to complete that which he started."

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

I'm not alone in the fog. Whether an emotion catches me off guard or I feel it coming, I am not alone. God has kept His promise to be near and to provide. All I have to do is trust Him on purpose.

I trust Him. On purpose.