Wednesday, March 31, 2010


the hurdles is an excruciating race for me to watch.  when the
runners trip and fall, i bury my face in my hands.  it must hurt
so much, but they just pop right up and finish the race.  how
do they do that?

moms have more than their share of hurdles.  we carry our
sweet babies within us for nine months, and then we birth
them, feed them, burp them, bathe them, rock them, sing to
them, doctor them, teach them, read to them, correct them,
and of course, love them.

and that is the easy part.

the hurdles of advising them about friendships, romances,
safe driving, college applications, and getting married are
quite a bit higher and come faster than you ever expect.

before we know it, we are tripping over hurdles left and
right.  and we do not have the luxury of giving up, but we
brush ourselves off, make sure we are properly 'refueled',
and head toward the next hurdle.

i imagine the last hurdle will be into the grave, and by then we
will probably be ready for it. :)  hopefully, we will be able to say,
"i have fought the fight and finished the race." (2 timothy 4:7)

after that i expect to enjoy some 'flying.'


ps.  i thought it would be much longer before i came back.  just
goes to show . . . that i never know what i am talking about.

Monday, March 29, 2010

the best laid plans

dear emily,

i think my motives were right when i began this blog.  they
were "to encourage young moms to love their husbands and
children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home
and to be kind." titus 2:4

somewhere along the way, i lost my way.  this became my
wonderland, and like alice, i lingered.  to be perfectly frank,
i made an idol of it, neglecting and hurting the people i hold
most dear.  that grieves me greatly.

it is the Lord's mercy that He revealed my heart with such
kindness, and i am grateful that "he redeems my life from the
pit and crowns me with love and compassion." psalm 103:4

until He shows me a safe way to continue, i will be taking a
break from writing here, but i will still visit those of you who
have become dear to me.

if you are a young mom, go back and read my earlier posts.
their content is richer than the recent ones.  you may even
see where i lost my way.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

sports illustrated?

dear emily,

when i was a timid, young bride, my stomach would be tied
in knots before a business dinner or social function.  i fretted
about what i would talk about or what i would wear.

hans, who is a natural extrovert and completely comfortable
in any social environment, couldn't really understand my
worries.  "honey, you'll be fine.  they'll love you."

yeah right.

so, i took the matter into my own hands and began to read
"us news and world report" before each event.  this armed me
with some talking points, but i also quickly discovered that
most people are happy as clams to just talk about themselves.

and, of course, i bought a new suit (think armor not armani.)

when our oldest turned twelve, he no longer found me very
intelligent or interesting.  so i read "sports illustrated" to say
things during games like, "do you think he should hold for
one or take a look?"

desperate times call for desperate measures and "a good
sacrifice is not necessarily sound but leaves your opponent
dazed and confused."  (nigel short)


"i appeal to you . . . to present your bodies as a living sacrifice."
romans 12:1

Thursday, March 25, 2010


dear emily,

what was life like before iphones?  i'm trying to remember
my loved ones' faces,  as i mostly just see the tops of their
heads now.

my worship pastor asked me if i had one, and i quickly
responded, "no way!  everyone i know who has one, gets
married to it!"  i didn't know i felt that strongly until that
popped out of my mouth.  poor guy was just going to invite
me to play 'words with friends'.

that's what my sweet husband was playing . . . during the
church service last week. . . with my daughter!  i wanted
to raise my hand and tell on them.  :)

i have found iphone messages in the morning from young
mommies, "well, here i am nursing my baby at 3:00 in the
morning."  seriously? when i was a new mommy, i stumbled
into the nursery in the middle of the night barely opening my
eyes.  i used to pray that i wouldn't fall out of the rocker.

remember when everyone had carpal tunnel disease from
spending so much time at the computer?  well, i'm afraid
there is going to be a new more threatening disease, called
carpal iphonal.

the left hand will freeze in a clawlike state and become
useless for any other task than holding an iphone.

it will be up to those few non-iphoners to care for the rest
of the world.  thankfully, though "many are the afflictions
of the righteous, the Lord delivers him out of them all."  
(psalm 34:19)

call me,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

ain't no rock!

dear emily,

a lovely lady was standing next to me at my sanctuary, i
mean william sonoma, and i overheard her ask if this was
easter sunday.  "well, she's not in the choir," i thought to
myself.  we can tell you the date and celebration of every
sunday until Christmas.  :)

it's palm sunday,  one of my favorite days of the year!  who
could resist little children waving palm branches, singing
"hosanna to the Son of david!"  not me.

when the religious pharisees heard the children shouting
their hosannas to Jesus, they were indignant.  "do you hear
what they are saying?"  they asked.

well sure, "from the lips of children and infants has been
appointed praise."  (matthew 21:16)

i love the next part even more, Jesus said if the people
"keep silent, the rocks will cry out." (luke 19:40)   a long,
long time ago, i decided, "ain't no rock gonna' cry out in
my place."



ps.  i'm singing "the holy city" this sunday and would
appreciate any and all prayers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


dear emily,

it has often occurred to me that when we are training our little
ones to be kind and good, we are really training ourselves.

there are many gadgets in our parenting tool belt, but consistency
is one of the most effective.   if i am unfailing to shine my light
on his bad language, for instance,  then my child will usually
upgrade his vocabulary.

on the other hand, if my ornery widget is not totally sure how i
will react, he will spout off the dirty words.  the fun of it is worth
the risk.  maybe i'll ignore it this time.

if we take advantage of that very short period of time in which
they want to please us, we can teach our children invaluable
life skills.  the key is our unswerving response.  we  need to
reinforce any kind and thoughtful gesture and correct the hurtful
or selfish ones.

sounds pretty easy, but those days that i don't feel well or just
don't want to get off the couch can sabotage me.  as nike says,
"just do it!"

or as Jesus says, "let your light shine . . . that they may see your
good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."  matthew 5:16


Sunday, March 21, 2010

don't give up!

dear emily,

i was sinking into thicker, deeper mud, reaching for the shiny
bell around my grandma's neck, when the phone awakened me.
at 12:30 in the morning that is never a good sign.

"mrs. h.?  this is officer jones from the 'xyz' police department,
and i have your son, max, with me."

"mrs. h.?"

my voice was trying to find its way around the immense wad
of cotton in my throat.

i finally choked out, "is he ok?"

"yes, ma'am, but he was driving after juvenile curfew hours.
what would you like me to do with him?"

hmm,  i was tempted to say, "how about hog tie him to the
back of your car and drag him through the stock yards!"

this is how we began max's senior year.  he was supposed to
have been at his all-night senior retreat.  i was reminded of his
ornery three year old days, when i used  to say, "if you weren't
so cute, i would strangle you!"

as we helped him pilot through the rest of his senior year, we
often wondered if he even heard our morning devotions or
repetitive encouragements.  he sort of raced in and flew out.
one thing we never doubted, though, was his heart.

by the end of the year, he was encouraging his all state track
team at their pre-race pep talk.  after hearing from so many
coaches and parents about it, i asked him what in the world
he had said.

"oh, i just told 'em what dad said at family devotions that

miracles never cease.  don't give up or "become weary in
doing good."  galatians 6:9


Friday, March 19, 2010

dear emily,

plane fare to the bahamas:  expensive

four days at atlantis on paradise island:  also expensive

the opportunity to laugh with dear friends . . .

and kiss a dolphin. . .


"i was filled with delight day after day. . ." proverbs 8:30


a mother's prayers

dear emily,

one of my favorite authors is jan karon who wrote the
mitford series about a quaint little town nestled in the hills
of north carolina.  she is a retired advertising executive, so
her  prose is spare yet lovely.  her characters are quirky,
and their conversation is authentic and inspiring.

the most beloved is father tim, an episcopalian priest and
shepherd of the village, who loves to pray 'the prayer that
never fails', "Thy will be done."

when praying for my children, i search the bible for the
scriptures that seem most fitting for the situation.  then i
just insert my loved one's name.

for instance, if any are struggling with their future i might
pray, "Lord, please fulfill Your purpose for shelby and dan
. . . and please do not abandon the works of Your hands."
psalm  138:8

i believe so fervently in the power of God's word, that it
seems only natural to pray it.  more importantly, it protects
me from vain or selfish prayers that may have nothing to do
with His will or purpose.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

my previous blunder

dear emily,

how to count my blunders?  in number or degree of

my chronic disease contributes to most of them.  i have
OCDD. . . obsessive compulsive disposal disorder.

i have thrown away important bank slips, CHECKS, bills,
receipts, letters, magazines.  you name it, and i have
tossed it, to my family's constant dismay.

i have given away hans' favorite shirts, ties, suits, and
shoes.  now to my defense, favorite to him, means the
cuffs are frayed and the shoes no longer have soles.

i have left car windows down during thunderstorms and
bumped the car into the garage door so many times that
isaac jumped in front shouting, "no mom, don't do it! let
dad park it when he gets home."

but the worst blunder of all, the one that still makes me
want to empty the contents of my stomach, is difficult to
tell.  sunday had just finished her college application to
baylor.  i was so impressed by the eloquence of every
essay as i edited, at her request.

what she didn't request or could have imagined is that i
accidentally, unintentionally, inexplicably pushed the
delete button!

and do you know what she said to me?

"well, i guess i will just go to 'xyz' university."

what a lovely example that "His mercies are new every
morning. . . " even when i don't deserve them.
lamentations 3:21-23


ps.  i'm going to 'spring' away from my computer for a
few days.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

saint patrick's day!

dear emily,

are the kids excited about saint patrick's day?  i used
to forget and get pinched to death at school, so this
is their 'green' warning.

i recently enjoyed stephen lawhead's patrick, son of
ireland, and now i know why all of ireland loves
him so!

did you realize the holiday has been celebrated for over
1,000 years?  apparently, the irish are allowed to suspend
their lenten restrictions for that one day to feast, dance,
and drink, not necessarily in that order.

saint patrick was born to wealthy parents but kidnapped
by irish raiders when only sixteen.  sadly, he spent the
next six years tending sheep in near solitude.

because of his terrible loneliness, he derived solace from
his faith and became a devout Christian.  it is believed
that he had at least two divine revelations: the first to
leave for britain and the second to then return to ireland
as a missionary.

it's interesting that upon his homecoming, he didn't try
to remove irish mysticism, but instead he assimilated
Christian life into their traditions.  he had bonfires at
easter and added the symbol of the sun to the cross,
making the celtic cross that we all know.

class dismissed!


". . . i have become all things to all men so that by all
possible means i might save some."  1 corinthians 9:22b

Friday, March 12, 2010

a leprechaun for sunday

dear emily,

we have been fervently praying for our daughter, sunday,
this term while she has been studying abroad, but we could
never have imagined the variety of ways the Lord would
show His love for her.

while spending a few extraordinary days on the canary
islands, she was splashed by a swimmer in the pool.

"i beg your pardon, my dear darling lassie!" said the
musical irish voice.

sunday was pleased to see the twinkly blue eyes that came
with the apology and assured him splashing didn't bother her
at all.  he remarked that she had a verra' american accent.

after an entertaining and amusing conversation, the elderly
irishman said, "good health to you and a pleasant sleep."

the next morning while enjoying her tropical fruit by the
seaside, she heard a now familiar voice asking,  "now,
would you be thinking me too forward if i asked to join
you for breakfast?"

seeing his book of mark, sunday exclaimed,  "i just was
reading in mark!"

"well now, and maybe i should be telling you, sure,  that
i just was saying a prayer for you in mass, wasn't i?"

as they were saying their farewells, he said, "the funny
thing about life is you often end up saying goodbye more
than once."

i wonder if he has a grandson her age?


"do not forget to offer hospitality to strangers...for through
it some have entertained angels."  hebrews 13:2

Thursday, March 11, 2010

the emily goes to...

one of my angels gave me the best advice that i just cannot
seem to follow: "mom, you need to hold back on those posts
to once a week.  no one really wants to read more than that."

as karen says, "i love her like the daughter i had committed
against her will."

this is not a post but a tiny thank you to the lovely people
who have encouraged my pitiful attempts at logging.  ha!

to visit their gorgeous, witty, and reflective blogs, just look
for their comments in one of my past postings.  they each
visit and comment daily, for which i am very grateful.

margaret:  your witty and perceptive writing has inspired
each post i make.  you have easily earned the right to be
called my 'nanablog.'

vee:  i have learned a great deal from your magnanimous
and gently encouraging nature.  when you linked to me in
january it gave me the boost i needed to find my way.

joan elizabeth: you are my scarecrow, a woman of few
words, each deliberately chosen to express wisdom,
strength, and grace.

emily:  thank you for being such a Godly inspiration to
my girls and for your four (five) precious little ones who
we adore!

but the winner is:   HANS, who runs a standard & poor
500 company but believes i am doing the most important
job in the world.

who asks questions like, "did you read max's email, isaac's
text, shelby's application, sunday's paper, and hailey's
facebook message?"

. . .  and who never says, "no" to me.  :)


"i have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering
you in my prayers."  ephesians 1:16

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


dear emily,

i have to warn you about something, and i don't really
know how to say this.

so, i'm just going to blurt it out!  because you're so smart
and will want to keep your brain facile and undemented,
at my age, you will probably play, ahem, bridge.

when i was a sweet, spry, lovely thing like you, i used to
smirk at the little, old ladies with hats and  gloves looking
primly at their cards.  "that's something i will never do!"

little did i know that counting  those tricks and conniving
to win lots of points to the cheers from the  stands would
be so fun.

not to mention bridge clothes!  we only allow prada,
chanel, and versace at our table.  the butler will not
give access to any flip-flops or sweatpants.

and here's the best part:  bridge food!  some folks only
come for the cuisine, but i am a purist and have played
with a solitary glass of water. . .  while i heaped  the
dainty cucumber sandwiches, fresh veggies, and bite
sized lemon tarts upon my wedgewood plate.

so sorry for the bad news,

"there is a time for everything, and a season for every
activity under heaven. . ." ecclesiastes 3:1

Monday, March 8, 2010

dear emily,

my post on dinner time has convicted me of something.  it is
just too easy to see the deficiencies in our children, bad eating
habits, for instance, and overlook the weaknesses in ourselves.

what have i been eating lately?  first of all, way too much t.v.!
my grandmother called it the 'boob tube' because of its ability
to waste our time and its total lack of purpose.  she spent her
time reading, studying, writing, teaching, and gardening. you
can read about her in the following post.

i also feed myself too many negative thoughts.    if i used my
healthy imagination in the manner of c.s. lewis or lewis carroll,
i might have something wonderful to show for it.  instead, i
have needless wrinkles to prove what lies within me.

ralph waldo emerson said, "what lies behind us and what lies
before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us."

my young friend liz wrote a disarming piece on the joy set
before Jesus.  she said that instead of focusing on our
suffering, we should set our eyes on the prize.

when asked what food He had to eat, Jesus said, "i have
food that you know nothing about...My food is to do the
work of Him who sent Me..." john 4:32, 34

now that is something to feast upon.  it's amazing how much
of the bible is devoted to banquets and feasting.  how did we
ever let ourselves focus so on the fasting?


myletterstoemily: nine lives

myletterstoemily: nine lives

Sunday, March 7, 2010

dinner time!

dear emily,

a sweet, young mommy asked me what she could do to help
her toddler eat better.  she said that he only wants snacks and
won't eat a bite at meal time.

"it's just the biggest battle every meal and i'm so afraid he isn't
getting enough to eat!"

it took a lot of will power not to smile and say, "honey, you
will look back on this, when he is screeching on two wheels
of his truck out your driveway, and wish this was all you had
to worry about!"

instead, i told her that there were some tricks in establishing
healthy eating habits.  if possible, she should save all battles
for any other time, so that her little ones would have happy
memories of family dinner.

easier said than done.  we had some doozies at our house, but
here are some pretty fail proof tips to get your toddler to eat:

1.  hide all snacks so that is not even an option.

2.  put a few healthy, yummy choices out for each meal.  who
     wants to eat lima beans from a can?  gag.

3.  make sure your little guy works up an appetite from running
     and playing, and i promise he will eat.

4.  no dessert until he has eaten the good stuff.

the first day may be rough, but they are such smart little guys
and will fall into line if they see you really mean it.   if your
precious angel is especially stubborn, a banana before bed
will help you sleep better.

i used to hide my peas under the cushion of my chair.


"how sweet are Thy words...sweeter than honey..."
psalm 119:103

Friday, March 5, 2010

sweet tayler

dear emily,

one of the highlights of my week is having lunch with tayler,
the first grader that i mentor.  her quiet voice just slays me when
she says, "oh, i forgot the thank you note i wroted you!"

she giggles at all my silly jokes and loves every story. it gratifies
my heart that she eats her entire lunch now, because she used to
be too frightened to take more than a few bites.  i think she can
tell that i am crazy about her.

when i mentioned that my husband was very funny and laughed
a lot, she said,  "i never seen my daddy laugh..."

i wanted to gather her up in my arms and take her home with me.
memories of hans' mantra to outlast the kids flooded my mind.

"one more story, daddy!" was met with two more stories.  one
more request to wrestle was happily supplied.  if they were
giggling, he was laughing.

how i wish tayler had a daddy like that.


Jesus said, "let the little children come to Me..."
matthew 19:14

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

favorite children's books

dear emily,

before i begin a post to which i have long looked forward, i want
to thank everyone for teaching me how to underline!  it took the
entire blog world to do it. :)

two things saved my life when my children were little like yours:
my love for peanut butter and children's literature.  good thing,
too, because we had a steady diet of both.  

isn't it amazing how many times a child can listen to the same 
story?  if i tried to deviate from the story of ferdinand by 
munro leaf, shelby would say, "no!  he just liked to sit under the
cork tree and smell flowers."  

the most charming, witty, and hilarious of all authors is arnold
lobel.  my boys and i would roll on the floor with laughter at
frog and toad adventures and then sniffle a bit through
uncle elephant.  

e.b. white is famous for stuart little, but i prefer the clever
story of louie in the trumpet of the swan.  poor louie is mute
and has to hang a chalkboard around his neck to communicate, 
plays the trumpet (think louie armstrong), and tries to win the
love of serena.

but our hands down favorite is the big friendly giant by roald 
dahl.  the BFG is the only friendly giant averse to eating 'human 
beans' and forced to endure 'snozzcumbers' and 'frobscottle.'  his 
lovable nature  is enhanced by his funny abuse of the english 
language and constant befuddled state.  he also make gross
sounds that might offend some moms but kids love it! 

just the beginning,

ps. sarah said, "God has made me laugh..."(genesis 21:6) and 
named her son, isaac, which means laughter.  

Monday, March 1, 2010

admitting it is the first step

dear emily,

as i was sitting in the choir loft yesterday, i looked out to see an 
old friend in the congregation.  my heart lifted, because she has 
struggled with alcohol addiction and has avoided the church.  i 
imagined her saying, "my name is...and i'm an alcoholic."

that is a tried and true method of AA, but all of a sudden it 
just seemed so unfair.  if they have to humiliate themselves to
that level, then we ought to hold ourselves to the same standard.

imagine the crowded hallways of the church filled with these
kind of conversations.

"hello, my name is lea, and i am a self centered, selfish, lazy
person.  sometimes, i can be downright mean and hurtful, to
boot.  whatever made you think to wear navy slacks with a
black sweater?"

"hi lea.  nice to meet you!   my name is rae, and if i don't get 
my way, i am given to periods of pouting and moodiness.  my
marriage is in shambles.  don't you think your skirt is a wee bit
too short...and tight?"


matthew 23:12
"for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever
humbles himself will be exalted."