Struggle and Success

It was just yesterday I was carrying this guy in my arms.

Every day he’s growing more and more into a young man-standing inches taller than me now.

And even though I can’t carry him in my arms anymore, I’ll always carry him in my heart.

It’s such an honor to watch him grow into who he was created to be.

He sat down with us last fall to share some of his future hopes and dreams.

After some research and a visit to Salina Tech, Reece applied to their welding program.

He met with his counselor and several teachers to get everything lined up and to meet the requirements for admission.

He kept us posted along the journey, but went through the process entirely on his own.

Last week he received his letter of acceptance into the program, it was such a gift to watch him open his letter and get the good news-his smile was priceless.

Reece has had a tough year. He was injured in wrestling in January 2020. That injury ended his freshman wrestling season. He worked through the injury with therapy and strength training and returned to football in the fall. Football was also a struggle for him. He fought nearly constant pain and went through a fall of ups and downs fighting the injury.

By the end of football season, our 15 year old knew he was faced with making an adult decision about what to do next.

He considered his future if he continued to overwork and abuse an injured shoulder.

We talked and prayed and sought more therapy. Reece ultimately decided to sit this wrestling season out.

That was a hard decision.

Several years ago Reece had to go in for surgery. It was meant to be simple and uncomplicated, a surgery that would give him relief and an escape from being constantly sick.

His recovery from that surgery took weeks.

He was so sick following the operation and I can still remember my six year old Reece saying to me, “I didn’t think it would be this hard.”

As a parent, it is so hard to watch our kids struggle and it’s so hard to not be able to make things better like we did when they were babies.

But I’m convinced it’s in these moments they grow the most.

And it’s in these moments we grow the most.

God uses it all to refine and sanctify our lives.

And because the struggle often makes a mark on our memory bank, we can look back and remember just how, with His help, we persevered.

❤️S

❤️MHS Football photo credit Eldon Clark

Victor Paul Rall

Victor Paul Rall was my grandfather on my mother’s side.

I called him Grandad.

He had a strong tan frame, weathered hands from his hard work, a smile and laugh that melted my heart, and the most soothing humming voice I ever did hear.

He was a giant teddy bear-at least with me.

The way he said my name still rings in my ears and I think of him often especially when I ride in the car and miss the sound of his sweet deep hum.

Two times stick with me the most when I think of my Grandad Rall.

The day my brother died and he called for me and the day near the end of his life when I sat on his hospital bed holding his hand while I held in my tears.

Both times, he said my name in his sing-song deep voice. I can still hear the way it sang off his tongue and can feel his big arms enveloping my frame.

I’ve never dreamt of him since the day he left-that is until Saturday.

Somewhere in the midst of a tough week of laying a family friend to rest I recalled his slow and painful death.

I talked to God about why some die quickly and others so slowly.

I remembered and admired the way he kept going and smiling, in the midst of the pain and the questions I’m sure he had.

In spite of it all, he always had a smile and a hug for me-that never changed.

Saturday night I awoke from the most comforting dream of his big strong arms holding me and humming to me.

What a bitter sweetness.

I sat over coffee with Todd the next morning and shared.

The tears brimmed in my eyes as I recalled the comfort of the dream and wondered what it meant.

A few hours later Todd called me to the funeral home to help. When I arrived I walked in the garage and there sat the most handsome 1976 Ford F-150 Ranger.

What a surprise! It’s always been a dream of mine to have one and my sweet hubby found the perfect one-but even he didn’t realize just how perfect it was.

We jumped in and took it for a spin around town. As we drove, we talked about what we’d name it.

When we pulled it back in the garage, we took a minute to look it over, admiring all of the 44 years of character.

As we walked around, Todd mentioned the writing under the driver’s side window. He asked if I could read it.

I leaned in and much to my surprise it read, “Victor”

I screamed with delight to think my very own grandad’s name was scrolled on the door.

Not a coincidence, a true blessing from above.

Todd didn’t even know. None of the pictures or description once mentioned that little fact.

My eyes leaked as we took a picture and I thought of my sweet Grandad.

As a Christian I’ve come to love that name.

Christ was the ultimate victor over death and the grave.

We’ve had a rough January, losing two special friends who were family.

What a timely reminder He gave scrolled on the side of an old pickup truck.

Thank you, Jesus

❤️S

Not Defeated but Delighted

To know Paul struggled, helps me.

It helps to know he grew weary, felt weak at times, and cried out to the Lord.

But to hear the Lord’s answer is even more comforting.

But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.”

So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. 10 So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

The winter sun is often elusive. To me that is the most frustrating part of enduring winter.

This morning as I sat and read, it found me and filled the room and my spirit with His warmth and strength.

And once again, I traded my yoke for His.

Thank you, Jesus

❤️S

Under the Radar, Forever in my Heart

This is my friend, Kenny Lumpkins.
He wouldn’t like me posting this-he always liked to fly under the radar.
Maybe that was from his years in the military, serving in several overseas battles.
The experiences that left their mark on Kenny were prime examples of the sacrifices he made for our country.
He carried his story with him every day and only shared it with those willing to stay long enough to listen.
He lost his first wife very suddenly at a young age; was left to raise his young son.
Many years later he met the other love of his life, Jan.
He often referred to her as “Grandma” in conversations; they were inseparable.
He never liked the attention or the fuss-at least in public, but we became coffee buddies sometime back about six years ago.
Kenny did so much behind the scenes to let others know he loved them, to let them know he cared.
Under his gruff exterior lay a very special man that often checked in on me, brought me chocolate, reminded me that I was special to him when he called me, “Sweetie” and was always reminding me to do my update on my laptop.
As we sat and addressed New Year cards last night, I received the call that Kenny had died, we had just addressed their card.
Some calls are just heavier than others, some hit the heart a little harder-leaving a mark.
This morning when I got up, I had a notification my computer had an update. I was frustrated at first and then I remembered Kenny was always after me until I completed them.
I plugged in my computer and started the update as I smiled and my eyes leaked.
This is my friend, Kenny Lumpkins, he is special and I thought you should know.
❤️S

The Christmas Star

The Christmas season often becomes overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle.

Decorating, gift buying, gift wrapping, parties to celebrate, menus to plan-all on top of our already full schedules of work, family, laundry…etc.etc.etc

To top it off this year, we also have the noise of the world. The nonstop talk of covid, politics, and everyone’s opinion on pretty much everything.

The world is loud right now.

It is no wonder Jesus often got away from it all to a quiet place-a place to be alone with His Father.

It’s the only way to stay sane in a world constantly competing for our time and attention.

A world telling us-more than ever before-what to do or how to act; even guessing the motivation behind our actions or perceived inaction.

God didn’t make us capable of handling everyone else’s business or opinion.

Last night as I drove home deep in thought, I remembered to look for Jupiter and Saturn. The two planets are moving closer to each other and tomorrow night they will come together to form a bright light in the sky that they are calling the “Christmas star”.

“The conjunction of the two planets happens about every 20 years, but they’re not always the same. This year’s grand conjunction will be the closest observable since 1226.” (Earthsky)

The last time the two came this close together was in 1226. To experience them this close again (where they look like one) you’d have to wait until 2080.

I’ve watched the progress as they’ve been moving closer over the past few weeks. For me, it has been a refreshing reminder to be still and gaze at His heavens.

A reminder to seek His certainty in all of the uncertainty.

May we all slow down and enjoy the blessing in the heavens tomorrow night as we remember King Jesus’ birth.

Come let us adore Him!

Christmas Blessings

❤️S

December’s Bitter Sweetness

The sun was shining on my face yesterday as I drove into the cemetery.

It was a crisp beautiful morning and the country drive was peaceful and reflective.

It reminded me of all of the other December 4ths I’d visited the cemetery.

Yesterday was Darren’s birthday.

On his birthday each year we’d decorate his grave to celebrate his short life.

To remember him. To not forget.

I grew accustomed to the visits and decorating, but I had so many questions while I stood next to his grave.

December and it’s bitter sweetness.

Our birthdays were just days apart, we celebrated together in the years we shared here on earth.

The memories of happiness and loss all swirl in my heart.

But God, with the gift of His Son-He answered my questions about the cemetery and death.

And with the pastor’s message yesterday, He gently reminded me that Darren is not just in my past-but very much in my future.

He’s just gone on ahead of me into the next room -into eternity.

The best gift of all-eternal life.

What a way to celebrate Darren’s beautiful birthday- tears of thankfulness as I stood in the sun at the cemetery.

See you soon, big brother!

❤️S

Be a Whosoever

Last week I took an intensive ultrasound class.

It was called New Beginnings-so fitting for where I’m at in life at 43.

It was not only intense, it was a bit intimidating-but oh, so worth it!

I love my job at the Pregnancy Service Center.

There are times I honestly cannot believe I get to be part of such an amazing place.

A place where lives are redeemed and saved.

I haven’t felt qualified. But I have felt called. And I know He always qualifies the called.

I realized it was this very week 23 years ago that I was feeling very lost on my own journey.

I was a sophomore on the KU campus. I was doing well in school, but just wasn’t sure about so many things in my life; I felt a bit lost when I considered my future.

One morning on my walk to class I stumbled upon a flyer. It was for a prayer meeting that would be held that very night in the student union

Desperate, I decided I’d attend.

I drove back to campus that night, parked, and found the meeting.

As I searched for the room I had no idea I was about to find my new beginning.

I was born again that night at the end of that prayer meeting. I’d heard who He was in a new way. I learned He loved me, He chose me, and He wanted a relationship with me.

I was His daughter.

I knew who Jesus was when I walked into that room, but that night when I walked out of that room, I had realized He also knew me. That night was the new beginning of a relationship.

That very week my future husband was also meeting Jesus. Though miles apart, we were saved within the very same week. We had been praying for our future spouses without even knowing He was working out the details.

Last week as I sat through the class learning to identify life on the screen, there were several times I was so overcome by the privilege and honor that I cried.

Humble tears of Thanksgiving for all He’s done in my life.

Each day I work, I always take a glance across the street as I get out of my car and walk in the door.

I first noticed the sign the day I toured the center. I’m so thankful for the reminder it gives me, reaffirming why I’m there.

Reminding me to share His love and good news with all.

He wants us to know He came for all.

It’s not too late to take His hand and accept His gift, no matter what you’ve been through or done, He can redeem it all. ❤️S

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

A Beautiful Wrecking

I was reminded recently that Brokenness isn’t always bad.

If you are anything like me, you need to be reminded, especially in these times of uncertainty.

Sometimes the brokenness is a catalyst to lead us to better things.

It pushes us forward.

Better times.

Healing.

What we sometimes see as the end can actually be the beginning.

Redemption.

Redeeming the pain, the brokenness.

Working it for our good. Romans 8:28

I broke this beautiful plate the day it was given to me.

As the plate shattered on the floor so did a piece of my heart.

I was horrified and so sad that I’d ruined something so special.

I looked at the giver expecting a reprimand.

What I received instead was Grace.

She smiled and said, “It’s just a plate. Things are just things, we still have each other and that matters way more than a thing.”

Just a few hours later, my husband took the shattered pieces and put them back together.

I have a new plate that was once broken, now reassembled, and more beautiful than ever-because it tells a story.

It doesn’t look the same as before, it’s been made new.

A redemption story.

It is the perfect reflection of my own story.

If your dreams have been shattered, if life hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would, don’t lose heart.

Jesus is our Redeemer.

He writes the best stories over the top of our shattered pieces.

He makes Beautiful!

We can believe the enemy or we can believe God.

The thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect-life in its fullness until you overflow! John 10:10

Holy Spirit laid this song on my heart the other day. Here are the words, I’ll also share the link below.

If you find yourself standing in front of broken, give the pieces to Him. Only He can make you whole.

❤️S

Something Beautiful

Something beautiful, something good. All my confusion He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife. But he made something beautiful of my life. If there ever were dreams. That were lofty and noble. They were my dreams at the start. And hope for life’s best were the hopes that I harbor down deep in my heart. But my dreams turned to ashes. And my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss. So I wrapped it all in the rags of life And laid it at the cross.

Bill and Gloria Gaither

Something Beautiful

Unmasking Her Story

So many are struggling with things we’ve never experienced, things we can’t understand.
Still, their experience is valid and important to consider, their voice matters just as much as ours.
I want to share the voice of a brave woman that wanted to share her reality. I’m so honored she asked me to share, her courage is beautiful, her story important.

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”
-Steve Maraboli

UNMASKED

No one knows what’s it like to be masked when you’ve suffered trauma in your life!
Forced to be masked; a victim of a trauma.
It’s real!!
You judge me because for a few minutes in my own safe space I take my mask off-all
while social distancing by far more than 6 feet.
You judge me without asking, without trying to understand.
Let me take a moment to describe the feelings!
The anxiety the mask stirs inside of me is unreal.
The trauma resurfaces every time. . .every minute that I have the mask on-and my anxiety rises the longer the mask is on.
It’s like reliving the hand over my mouth.
The hand telling me “Be quiet. Shhhhh…just do it. Relax. It’s ok. “
That’s my real truth.
That feeling is real; yet I’m judged.
Told on. Ratted out.
All because for a few minutes, I unmask.
I unmask to allow myself some deep breaths, to calm myself.
Why do you judge without asking?
All because of fear from a virus-politics-the governor??
What is it?
The “rules” that have been placed on people are unreasonable and disregard those of us with traumatic pasts.
I’ve been quiet my entire life.
I can be quiet no longer.
I will lend my voice to the feelings so many others feel. I will use my awful experience to help say what needs to be said.
This mask mandate has resurfaced all of these feelings I’ve suppressed for years! …
Told I deserved it. I was being flirty. My outfit was too cute. But imagine being awakened with a hand over my mouth telling me to be quiet as he had his way with me.
I won’t apologize when I need to take a break from the mask that reminds me.
When I need to care for myself so I can then care for my students.

You happen to see me when I needed a breath … to release that anxiety I’m feeling so I can be focused on my students.
And continue to help them.
My students.
My classroom.
They are so important to me.
So I press on.
The next time you rush to judgment and scream that I’m not being safe, I hope you will remember that I’m not the only one with a story.
Seeking judgement without understanding is cruel.
You don’t know the battle I’m fighting.
You are not me.
Please don’t judge me.
Don’t tell on me.
Let’s be adults.
Let’s have compassion.
I will not mask the past any longer.
I’m simply telling a truth.
A hard truth.
A hidden truth.
And honestly, if I’m not careful the mask mandate could break me.
Remember it’s more than “just a mask” to me.
It’s a man taking me without my permission. The next time you see someone struggling with a mask or maybe not even wearing one, take a moment to remember my words.
There are so many that struggle, so many with reasons you may not understand.
They don’t need your permission, they need your compassion.

Abundance of Comfort

As I was handing out folders for our graveside this morning some of the children had questions.


With their mother’s permission, I answered them.

We looked at the grave and talked about it.

These children and their questions are where my heart is-as I remember having so many questions as a child.

Questions my future husband would answer, but only in God’s perfect timing.

After we’d finished talking, one of the children ran to my side and gave me flowers.

Some weather-worn and faded flowers, likely found blowing across the cemetery from an old silk arrangement.

She was unphased by their tired appearance, exclaiming, “Beautiful!”

She then placed them in my hand with a smile.


It was a full circle moment.

Just a few moments later, she stood at the grave with the other children and her mother to sing Jesus loves me.


I knew the gift came from both she and Jesus because He knew how much it would touch me in this moment.


He sees me.


He also sees you.


❤️S

2 Corinthians 1:4-6
He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. And just as we experience the abundance of Christ’s own sufferings, even more of God’s comfort will cascade upon us through our union with Christ.
If troubles weigh us down, that just means that we will receive even more comfort to pass on to you for your deliverance! For the comfort pouring into us empowers us to bring comfort to you. And with this comfort upholding you, you can endure victoriously the same suffering that we experience.