Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Grandson's Change of Heart

            Grandson Gabe and I walked down the brightly lit hallway. A nurse smiled at us from behind her computer screen as she tapped on the keyboard. A dietitian carrying a food tray disappeared through a doorway. An elderly man with white hair haphazardly sticking out from his head worked his wheel chair with his slippered-feet. He grinned as we passed, revealing multiple missing teeth. A mix of disinfectant, urine, and the day’s lunch menu hung thick in the air.
            “I don’t think I could work in a place like this,” Gabe said, squeezing my hand.
            I nodded. “It does take a special person to invest time and energy in these dear ones who are so often forgotten, even mistreated at times.”
            Gabe grew quiet as we approached the door we were looking for. Room 103: Mable Bishop. “This is it!” I purposely brightened my voice to encourage Gabe. On occasion, he and our other grandchildren sang and quoted Scriptures when we visited various nursing homes, so he was acquainted with the protocol. However, since he and his family had recently returned to the States after serving in Thailand, he’d not been with me to the nursing home since he was six.
            I gingerly pushed on the heavy door and peered inside. Mable lay in her bed staring out the window. Her roommate, Edith, snoozed in her bed. Mable and I enjoyed a rich history as prayer partners. While she didn’t remember my name, only that we used to go to church together, she smiled whenever she saw me. Widowed at age 51, Mable taught me by word and example, and definitely through her prayers, that the Lord was her number one Husband, and as such, would provide and protect her. How I’d valued her simple, honest prayers during those days. Now in her advanced years, she no longer prayed with me verbally, but she testified to praying silently throughout the day as she gazed out her window.
            Her head turned as Gabe and I moved to the side of her bed. Her face lit up. “Hi, Mable!” I gently squeezed her shoulder as Gabe took his place at the end of the bed. Perhaps his advanced age of eight was making him more cautious. “How are you today?” I said. She smiled, nodded. “This is my grandson, Gabe.” Plates clattered in the hallway. “You remember my youngest daughter, Stephanie. This is her son.” She beamed as if remembering, but I knew she didn’t.
            I pressed on, uncertain how long Gabe would tolerate this visit. “Would you like to sing today, Mable?” I winked at Gabe. He was all about music. I leaned over, gazed into Mable’s eyes. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound . . . ”
            Riveted on my face, she mouthed the words with me, an occasional sound slipping from her lips in the form of a groan. She loved it! I exchanged a glance with Gabe. He had moved a bit closer to us and was beginning to sing, too.
            By now Edith was awake, and while she couldn’t utter a note, she seemed fixated on our music. After a verse or two of “Nothing But the Blood” and “The Old Rugged Cross,” it was time to leave.
            I gave Mable a hug. “Please, come back and see me,” she said as I lingered in the embrace. “Any time.” She grinned at Gabe.  
            Gabe and I waved to Mable and Edith as we left the room. As we walked back down the hallway, Gabe was quiet. At last, he said, “Ya know, Grandma, I think I could work in a place like this.”

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Bekah and the Spanish Surprise Release!

New release for kids ages 8 and up!

Bekah and the Spanish Surprise

Book 2 in the Missionary Kid series

Bekah wants a little brother, but Mama and Daddy can't have any more babies. When adorable foster child, Emilio, shows up at children's church, Bekah launches a prayer and a plan to adopt the little boy. But Bekah isn't the only one who wants him. Just when she's given up hope, an unexpected visitor arrives at her door with a surprise!

Available in paperback on Amazon.

Friday, June 28, 2019

What's So Great About America?

Recently someone asked me, “What’s so great about America?” By impulse I responded with the typical Christian answer: “America is great because our founding fathers chose to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and apply biblical principles in its formation and survival.”
However, America has come a long way from her early roots of Christian influence. Even from her inception, the evil one has relentlessly pursued her destruction throughout her history. Whether by enemy attack or inner turmoil, America has struggled to remain the beacon of light God birthed her to be.
Yet despite an increasing move away from “one nation under God,” in modern times reflected by ruthless murder of the unborn, the stripping away of religious liberty, applause of same-sex marriage, prayer-less schools, the terror of random shootings, and confusion on moral issues among professing Christians, America still stands as the greatest nation on earth.
Americans still enjoy prosperity which the rest of the world largely does not. Americans, for the most part, go to bed in peace, not fearing attack by an evil regime, and go to sleep with a full stomach. We still experience freedoms specified by the Bill of Rights. As a privileged people, we can peacefully picket, lobby Congress, and vote for our candidate of choice. And as my third culture grandchildren remind me when they travel back to America, we can enjoy lush grass, public libraries, and drinking water right out of the faucet! 
Still, beyond these pleasures, America is fundamentally great, indeed blessed by God, because God chose to use her to shine His light from shore to shore. During times of great spiritual complacency and apostasy, God stepped in with his man or woman for the hour. In every instance, fervent prayer preceded a mighty work of God.
Consider the circuit riding preachers who prayed and traveled thousands of miles across America on horseback to preach the gospel during their lifetimes. Out of those efforts arose amazing revivals, turning countless souls to Christ. Consider, too, God’s hand on pivotal colleges, such as Yale. He used President Timothy Dwight, the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, to spur a revival that ignited a spiritual flame across campus, and indeed around the world. Pastor Lyman Beecher, and later his famous daughter, Harriet Beecher Stowe, impacted culture through their speaking and writing on various topics, including their anti-slavery position. Then, of course, there was George Whitefield, and a century later, Charles Finney, both well-known in Christian circles for bringing multitudes to faith in Christ. From this passion for Christ and His gospel, mission and Bible societies formed which sent numerous missionaries to Africa, India, China, Japan, and the Pacific Islands. Caring Christians took in orphans and treated the mentally ill with compassion and respect. Indeed, in every age, God has called and used a faithful remnant. 
For all her transgressions, and they are many, America still houses those who love the Lord and long to share Him here and around the world. 
So, to that person who asked me, “What’s so great about America?” I would now respond, “America is great because God has used her to shine the light of His gospel around the world!” It is the amazing privilege and responsibility of Bible-believing Christians to fulfill this God-given destiny for as long as He gives us life and liberty.    
Recommended reading: From Sea to Shining Sea by Peter Marshall/David Manuel, Revell, 2009.
Also available in a children's version.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Summer Kid's Read!

Kenzie Gunter, new missionary kid in India, wants a friend but finds one in short supply. When an Indian family with a nine-year-old girl moves into the house next door, Kenzie urges her mom to make an introduction. But friendship in a foreign land proves to be a challenge. That doesn't stop Kenzie, however. Her humorous and sometimes dangerous attempts to connect with her neighbor keep the adventures coming . . . and the surprises!

Also includes Fun Facts about India and thought-provoking questions to stimulate discussion between parent and child. 

Check out Kenzie and the Spooky House Adventure for a summer read at Amazon.

Inspired by Eileen's kids and grandkids who serve the Lord around the world in full-time mission work. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Treat Mom to a Giggle!

Kids can take us right to the heart of God, one way or another. When they provoke frustration, we breathe a silent prayer for grace. When they incite giggles, we hear God’s laughter as well. When they stimulate an endearing moment, we sense God’s touch. When they utter a profound statement, we step back in wonder. What is this phenomenon a little one evokes? Bubbly ripples of laughter that transport us to another realm. Unabashed honesty that cuts to the chase. Joy splashing around our ankles, light spilling into shadow, awakening us to a childlike appreciation for the world around us. If we take the time, if we listen, if we stoop to their level, we can go where kids go—straight to the heart of God. Wit & Wisdom from the Wee Ones is a collection of cute quips and quotes inspired by Eileen’s grandchildren. Along with other contributors, Eileen cracks the door to the whimsical, yet often wise world of the child.


Enjoy a few teasers . . . 

Paper trails

While in my van, grandson Ryan (8) was talking to his cousins about eating paper.
Vina: “I eat paper, good for digestion.” 
Ryan: “I don’t eat paper cause paper’s made out of trees, and dogs pee on trees.”
Vina: “Well, don’t they wash it?”
Ryan: “No, they just pee on it and walk on off.”

Janice Blevins


Pool pleasure

Rebekah (5) while looking at a map of Africa: "Hey Mom, there are lots of swimming pools on this map!"
Rachel Waldock


Behind bars?

I asked my granddaughter, Lindsay (6): “Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”
She replied, “No, but I’ve been to Chuck E. Cheese.” 

Russ File


 Prophetic utterance

Emma (7) woke up at 3:30 one morning talking about the thunderstorms. "God must really be mad at someone in this town."

Marsha Noland

For more quips and quotes, check out Wit and Wisdom from the Wee Ones on Amazon.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Time for a spring fling?

“Oh, for a little time to myself!” Hasn’t every hurried, harried woman uttered those words at some time in her life?

 A 4R rejuvenation retreat just might be the thing you need to refresh body, mind, and spirit. 

Bonus feature: Women from around the world share their secrets on reflecting, remembering, renewing, and releasing via the scriptures, exercise, diet, decorating, and beauty regimens.



Planning Your Retreat

If you don’t get it on your calendar, it won’t happen!

            Before you can launch out on your retreat, you first need to plan. You’ll need to answer several questions: Where will I go? How much money can I allot? How much time can I spend? Will I go alone or take others with me? What will I take? Do I have responsibilities I can delegate to others while I am gone?
            Ideally, you will plan well in advance so that you don’t have to rush through the details. Now that I’m older with some hard-earned experience under my belt, I’m of the firm mind that every woman needs at least one 4R Rejuvenation Retreat a year. This doesn’t mean she needs to fly to Maui or rent a yacht (although that might be nice). A weekend at home with the phone off the hook, shades drawn, and no family obligations might do the trick. Deciding factors will involve your personality, preferences, income, and time allowance. But be prepared for major objections to your plan.

“But Mama, you can’t go!”
            If you still have children at home, expect them to put up a fuss about your retreat. After all, Mom’s the hub of the home, isn’t she? How can she simply pull up stakes and relocate, even if it is for an overnight or two? How selfish can she get?    
Admit it—your kids may not be the only ones with this thought. If you’re like most women with the innate need to nurture, then you’ve likely had that same pesky, niggling intruder worm its way into your mind. How can I be so selfish? On the heels of that invader are a multitude of other thoughts. How will the family get along without me? What will my husband fix for dinner? Who will take Johnny to Little League practice? And on it goes.
There may be tears. Tantrums. And that’s just from your husband. Good grief, one or more may threaten to sue. Their reactions merely reinforce that it’s well past the time to get away. Your kids need your absence as much as you need to be absent. A little temporary separation can actually help them grow up and wean themselves from Mama’s apron strings.
Advance planning will help ease your family’s concerns and prayerfully, stave off an all-out war. Not only will you prepare your family, but you will feel more comfortable and confident leaving them.  

Where will I go?
            I get a great thrill out of the internet these days. Isn’t Google wonderful! I can travel anywhere I want from the comfort of my couch. With great deals, to boot. I like to ask myself the question (yeah, I’m big on questions): If money were no object, where would I go?
            I actually posed this question to myself when I turned 50. I decided I wanted to take a week-long trip up the Atlantic coast in the fall, stopping in the New England states to take in a Bed and Breakfast or two, searching out the little white frame churches you see on calendars amidst autumn colors, riding a horse, and enjoying a maple syrup festival, for starters. Sadly, I never followed through. But guess what? It’s never too late to fulfill a dream. I plan on taking this trip when I turn 60.
What about you? What would your dream retreat look like? Consider the activities you enjoy, but perhaps rarely get to do. Maybe a weekend at the beach, a hike through the Poconos, or a rustic cabin stay in Gatlinburg. Jot your ideas on paper, then start searching websites for possibilities. For most of us, money is an object, so you’ll need to decide ahead of time how much you will spend. Your options will shine brighter if you’ve set aside money each month with a view toward an annual retreat.
How much money can I allot?
            Since money is typically a touchy subject for most couples, if you’re married, you will want to discuss this with your husband. Decide on a percentage of your paycheck to reserve for your annual outing. Even a few dollars a month can add up over a year’s time. Let’s suppose you only reserve $5 a month over the course of a year for your cherished getaway. You could put that $60 toward a motel night in your own city. Perhaps a motel with a pool, spa, or rec room. Or you might treat yourself to a facial or new hairstyle.
            If you can save more, great. The object is not how much you spend or where you go, but simply reserving time and a place for you to be alone, assess your life, and refresh your body, mind, and spirit with the Lord as your guide.

How much time can I spend?
            The answer to this question will largely depend on the money you have to spend and the time you can afford to be away from your work, your family, and other commitments. Another factor to consider is how desperately you need this retreat. If you’ve starved yourself of relaxation, you’ll require more time to regroup and refresh. That’s why it’s so important to take an annual retreat so that you don’t become overwhelmed by life and responsibilities.
            For some, a day-long retreat to a park might be sufficient. For others, a week in Maui isn’t long enough (is a week in Hawaii ever long enough?).
            If finances hinder you from pursuing the dream retreat you’d like or need, simply go with what you can afford. With this in mind, you may need to take several inexpensive retreats throughout the year so that you can bring your body, mind, and spirit back into balance. Once you begin to practice the retreat ritual, you may discover you only require the annual escape in order to stay well-balanced.
            Let me pause here to say that the 4R Rejuvenation Retreat is separate from the family vacation or the couple getaway, which are both equally important to build and maintain relationships and foster good memories.

Will I go alone or take others with me?
            The answer to this question lies for the most part with your personality. If you’re an extrovert who feels energized and revived by others, then you will likely want to take at least one person with you. Otherwise, you might be bored or even depressed. Going it alone is not your style. If you are an introvert who craves hours of alone time, you’ll likely enjoy taking a retreat by yourself. You like the idea of calling your own shots, getting up when you want to, browsing sites and shops at your own pace, and spending hours with your nose buried in a book.
            I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m primarily an introvert according to my Myers-Briggs assessment. But I didn’t need that tool to confirm what I already knew about myself, because nothing fuels my spirit more than large doses of quiet reflection. That doesn’t mean I don’t like people. It simply means that the primary way I revitalize is with heavy doses of alone time.
            If you do decide to include others, you will need to invite them well in advance. Be sure to let them know the purpose of the trip. It’s important that you don’t allow others to sidetrack you from this annual evaluation time, so only invite friends who share the same trip goal. We’ll discuss the four assessment areas in depth, beginning with chapter three.     
What will I take?
            Since the primary purpose for your retreat is to assess your life in various areas, you will want to take a notebook or some type of journal to record your thoughts. You will also want to bring your Bible and any other reading material to enhance your time. If you enjoy a craft or hobby that you don’t typically have time to work on, you may want to bring that as well. If you play a portable musical instrument, definitely bring that along.
Knitting, sketching, scrapbooking, and photography are examples of activities you may want to do that can help you process your life. A good retreat will include a variety of activities to address body, mind, and spirit.
            Other items you may want to include are a camera, water bottle, backpack, swim suit, beauty products for experimenting with a new look, folding chair, and sun glasses. While you’re packing your suitcase, keep a notepad handy for responsibilities you need to delegate while you’re away.

What responsibilities do I need to delegate while I’m gone?
            It’s unrealistic to think we can simply sweep out the door without thought to what will happen when we’re away. But I hardly suspect we have an issue with that type of thinking. Most of us women are worried that when we step out of the house, mayhem will break loose. Clothes strewn everywhere. Gum wrappers, and who knows what else, under the bed. Ice cream for supper. And missed appointments. Yeah, all that could happen, especially if we fail to plan.
            A calendar with clearly marked events can help. A chart for each member of the family taped to his/her closet door might also solve confusion. Appointing various ones to cover meals on different days of the week might be the answer. Whatever you decide, sit down with the family before you leave and discuss things to be done while you are gone.
            In the end, after you’ve given planning and briefing your best shot, let it go. Yes, let it go. Sail out of the house a free woman. The family won’t deteriorate in your absence. In fact, they might just rally together to make life work without you. If we peer deep inside our hearts, perhaps that’s what troubles us the most—that our family just might find a way to survive after all. If you find this thought troubling, take heart, we’re gonna work on that “release” thing later on. So hang on for the retreat ride! 


Happy Retreating!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Help for Those Pesty Parasites

The other day I studied Psalm 23 with a young woman. I wondered, This is such a familiar passage, what fresh insight might God possibly provide? 
Through the years, I've read this passage more times than I can count, even read/studied Phillip Keller's wonderful book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (highly recommended, by the way). Even experienced the passage personally in difficult times. The temptation to fly through it this time around was real. Yet, I believe the Lord purposely slowed me down to take a deeper look. 
Throughout the study week, I took great joy in looking up cross references, journaling my thoughts, and investigating what scholars had to say. What rich gems I came away with, some old insights revisited, others reinforced with a fresh spin. Oh, how often I limit His unlimitless illumination by the Holy Spirit! 
One fresh spin I garnered centered around the phase, "He anoints my head with oil." One job the shepherd must tend to when caring for his sheep is anointing their heads with oil. This methodical process, which also involves the ears, wards off harmful insects that left to themselves would burrow deep into the sheep's ears and eventually kill the sheep. With that thought in mind, a bing went off for me.  In John 10, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, says that His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. 
The Lord, as my Shepherd, takes great care to ward off enemies that are bent on my destruction. He does this primarily through the healing ointment of the Word of God applied to my mind and heart by the Holy Spirit. My faithful Shepherd will apply the salve as needed. My part is to allow Him to do so (not kick up a fuss, but remain still and rest while He works on me). He wants my ears healthy so that I can listen and follow Him. 
A powerful song, "Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns, reminds me to turn away from the lies of my enemies (the world, the flesh, and the devil) and listen to the Lord's truth about who is He and who I am in Him. Click on the link below to enjoy the song.

A Grandson's Change of Heart

            Grandson Gabe and I walked down the brightly lit hallway. A nurse smiled at us from behind her computer screen as she tap...