Archives for category: Religion

  For years I’ve been a member of a group that raises money for women’s education. We meet monthly, sometimes more, to discuss scholarships and low-interest loans and to hear the stories of women who are changing their families’ lives, bringing business to their neighborhoods and solutions to the world.

Our seven founders – all students at Iowa Wesleyan College in the latter part of the 1800s – wanted to create a group built on true friendship. Now the Philanthropic Educational Organization has become a sisterhood of nearly 250,000 throughout the United States and Canada.

And all of those sisters? In all of those local chapters? They start their meetings the same way and with the same prayer: that all with whom we come in contact with will be purer, braver and stronger for having spent time with us.

That’s a big prayer. A hard prayer. Leaving every one we meet in a better place than when we found them.

The kid with the runny nose who has asked for the iPad at least 28 times before noon. The woman at the Department of Motor Vehicles who tells you – even in the year 2015 – your debit card is not welcome there. That guy everyone brags about at work, you know which one I mean. The person who only likes things that are her idea.

Purer. Braver. Stronger.

That’s an investment, friends. That’s saying I’ll recognize when a policy is out of your control. I’ll see when you are hurting, when you are afraid. I’ll listen to the whining and hear that you really don’t need more technology, you just need more interaction and more time with me.

It means in the rush of the day, I’ll take a moment to really see you. I’ll choose compassion over completing my to-do list. I’ll pick building you up instead of bullying you into doing what I want. I’ll join like-minded sisters and raise millions to offer formal educations to thousands of women – and I’ll know that the fundraising is the easy part.

Purer. Braver. Stronger.

That’s where the real work lies. And there’s plenty for all of us.

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It was quick visit at home – just an extra two days in Oklahoma tacked on to a busy business trip – but it was long enough for me to start hearing that accent, that drawl in my head.

When I moved to Rochester in 1998, they tell me I talked like that, too.

One friend likes to joke that when he got on the elevator with me, it took me three floors to say, “Hi, my name is Marketta.”

But there were other aspects of having an accent that weren’t so funny.

I could be in the middle of a business meeting and have someone tell me, “Oh, that’s so cute the way you say that. Say it again.” Even worse was the time someone I supervised told me she just assumed that people who spoke slowly also thought slowly.

It became so frustrating that after a couple of years I started trying to hide it. I removed phrases like “fixin’ to” and “going into town.” I stopped saying ornery and cement and other words I knew I pronounced differently.

It was exhausting. And, if I’m honest, it still is. It is so much work to sand off the edges that make you different, so much effort to be like everyone else.

But when I return home to the place where my story began, to the people who loved me first, I exhale. I turn off the filter, and I fall into a comfortable cadence. I am simply myself.

I suspect it’s that way for all us who wander and get distracted by what others think, those of us who grow up and leave the spiritual nest and forget just how much we – and our accents and quirks – are loved and cherished by God. We feel all alone and out of place but we have a place at the table, a place where we all belong.

Sometimes we need to go back there to be reminded, to be grounded in truth and confidence. Then, we can bring the accent of home back with us in our heads and in our hearts.

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finding true love
finding true love
finding true loveI read their words once, and then again.

The first woman was responding to an article online about adopting children who are still healing from trauma. She was worn out from trying to keep a little one safe, trying to patiently enforce boundaries.

She worried that she didn’t feel the warmth and lightness of love toward this child. Only duty. Only the humdrum motions of mothering.

Then – and this is the important part – in the next comment, a woman responded and said love is in the humdrum. Love is in the acts of service. Love is in the welcoming, the protecting and in the freely giving of yourself.

It seems we’ve fallen for the feeling of love. We are most comfortable with the butterflies and rainbows, the hearts with our initials scratched inside.

Without realizing it, we’ve put our confidence in an emotion that ebbs and flows. We’ve boarded a boat, and each time a wave comes, we doubt ourselves and the seriousness of our love.

But when see love as an action, as an expression of God, it serves as an anchor that steadies us. Even when the waves and the arguments and the hurt feelings come, love is still present in the scrubbing of the toilet, the punching of the time clock and in the tender holding of the hand.

Love is there when the rainbow fades and the paint gets scratched, when the hurting child acts out and you listen and hold tight.

Love is there.

Those people who come to weddings and adoption ceremonies and birthing rooms and tell you that all you need is love? They are right.

You need the action of love. The patience. The kindness. The humility. The showing up day after day after day.

That kind of priceless love is what you need for a strong friendship, or marriage or family. That kind of love will hold when you are bone-tired and broken. It will hold when you are afraid and so far away from your comfort zone that you worry you’ll never find your way back.

It will hold. And it is all you – and any of us – need.

The importance of a kind word

IMG_8448When Jessie first came to live with us, I was scared that I would go to register him for sports or school and people would ask me questions that I didn’t know the answer to. I wanted us to blend in with the other families so I actually practiced over and over again.

He was born in 1998. At Tulsa Regional Hospital. Like Benjamin, he weighed right around 8 pounds. He’s crazy about apples but hates apple cider.

It wasn’t that I was ashamed of adoption or of his past. It’s just that I didn’t know how much of his story he wanted to share – or whom he wanted to share it with. I figured those were his decisions, when he was ready.
Even now, years later, I find myself tongue-tied. That’s why I didn’t say more when Mr. Wickham gave Jessie a dollar for entertaining and exercising his golden retriever.

“He’s a really good kid,” Mr. Wickham said, tipping his head toward Jessie. “And he’s great with Abby,” he added, just as Jessie tossed Abby’s toy for another round of fetch.

“He is great,” I told Mr. Wickham, “It’s nice to come out to the farm and watch him relax. He can be noisy and run around,” I said, trailing off because I wasn’t sure how much to say.

While Jessie played with Abby, I picked tomatoes and kale and flowers. Other families came and went, all of us part of the Wickham Farms CSA. I could hear Jessie laughing across the field.

For Mr. Wickham, the compliment was a small thing. A kindness that came naturally.

But for Jessie and I, it was an acknowledgment of the good inside. A respite from lectures about missing homework assignments and running in the house. A moment where he was just an average kid, not one who has nightmares and more emotional baggage than people four times his age.

Just an instant where someone saw Jessie as Jessie – joyful and playful.

We all need that, regardless of age. Regardless of background. We know we need the people in our lives to stand with us and for us. But occasionally, it sure is nice to have people who aren’t as close to us offer a kind word, too.

We can all do that for one another. We can notice the good. And we can make a world of difference.


Have you heard what the Berenstain Bears have done? They’ve created “The Berenstain Bears’ Country Cookbook: Cub-Friendly Cooking with an Adult,” and it’s full of fun food, pictures and lessons.

(I told Benjamin he could mark six things for us to try and he asked for eight… and then nine!)

If you’d like the chance to win your own copy, just visit us at the Simply Faithful Facebook page and post a picture of your little one in the kitchen. It’s that simple.

You can also watch Brother and Sister prepare some of the recipes. I’ll post links to the videos on Facebook.

I’ll draw a winning name on Monday, March 16, and then the nice people at Zonderkidz will send it right to you!



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