Tina1I’d have to call Tina to make sure, but I think the name the kid called me was Strawberry Shortcake. I really don’t remember that part – just the part where time seemed to stop.

He had been bugging me, as kids in middle school sometimes do, and I saw Tina’s hand reach across the bus seat and then the next five seconds felt like 50. Her hand met his cheek. His eyes grew wide with surprise and then wider still with a touch of anger as his head tapped the side of the school bus and bounced back.

I couldn’t tell you if he ever pulled himself together to say anything, but I know the bus driver did. She was usually pretty calm, but it was clear she did not approve of Tina’s actions. She had plenty of words for Tina, but she wouldn’t let me stick around to hear them. So I waited at the end of my driveway, hand on my hip, for Tina to finally step off the bus at our stop.

I didn’t want Tina, who wasn’t the kind of kid who got into fights, to get in trouble on my behalf, but Tina didn’t care then and she doesn’t care now. In her mind, she was stepping in to protect her friend and nothing the school might have to say about that would change her mind.

Yes, she should have talked it through with the kid. She should have asked an adult for help. There are many lessons to be learned from this story. But the lesson I walked away with was one about loyalty. Since the moment that kid’s eyes grew wide with surprise, my heart grew wide with faith in Tina and in our friendship.

I knew then that Tina was always on my side and by my side. In the 20 years of friendship since then, she left an abusive relationship, and I sent prayers and checks to help her start again, to find her confidence and worth. When my husband lost his job and depression clinched tight on his spirit, Tina reminded me where to draw strength. And when Daddy died and it felt like I didn’t have an anchor, Tina held me and through her own tears she told stories of his kindness and reminded me there is joy in heaven.

Reminded me I am loved and protected by someone even more loyal than she.

And that thought?

That’s something that will keep you right steady. That’s an anchor, friends. That’s an anchor.

Want to read with us? The hardest part about the Simply Faithful book club is selecting the book for us all to read, so this time it’s your turn to pick. Send me the name of your favorite inspirational novel by June 9. We’ll vote on my Facebook page June 10-15 and announce the winner here on June 23.


Rachel Whaley Doll, author of Beating on the Chest of God

front onlyFriends, I believe we’ve all been touched by miscarriages and infertility. Even if we haven’t experienced it ourselves, we’ve held the hands of friends and family who have been devastated. And if we’re honest? There were times we didn’t know what to say or how to help. My brave friend Rachel Whaley Doll has opened the pages of her journal and the depths of her heart to help us all — to remind us all that God is with us. She is hosting a book launch from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 8, at A Different Path Art Gallery in Brockport, N.Y. Would you join us there and come meet Rachel? Will you share the news about this important book so others know they are not alone?

A glimpse at her beautifully honest writing…

Quite often, people are uncomfortable questioning God or admitting to being angry with God.  I’m not sure what we are afraid of, but I felt I needed to hold in all the questions and frustration, and say prayers to God that were “proper.”  It was so powerful to reach the end of my rope and literally scream at God until I was hoarse.

What I discovered is that God was still there.

In the midst of my miscarriage, I had a very vivid image of God.  I was in a waiting room, and had been there so long that the faded salmon-colored plastic chairs seemed comfortable.  There was a figure leaning against the wall wearing an overcoat, and scrunched down on the floor.  I realized it was God.  God was this regular-looking person many people walked by without ever noticing.  This figure simply sat, never looking around, never trying to reach out or help in any way, just sitting.  The picture initially added to my anger. “Get up!” I thought.  “Fix this!  Hold me while I cry!  Do something! You won’t even look at me!”

But then I noticed the pain in God’s eyes, the disheveled appearance.  God had been by my side the whole time, tired and angry, feeling my pain with me.  I reached a point where the answers to all my ‘whys’ wouldn’t even mean anything anymore.  I didn’t need a reason, I just needed help dealing with the pain.

I cannot say enough about how important my family, friends, nurses and doctors were in helping me through this time.  It was so hard to reach out at first, to tell people what was happening, but it truly made all the difference, spiritually and emotionally, for me.

If you are the friend of someone living with infertility, please hear me: we know you can’t fix this!  It is the hardest thing to sit beside someone you love and watch them suffer, unable to roll up your sleeves and come to their rescue.  But what we need more than anything is your presence.  What we need is to know that no matter what, we are not alone.  Even when we are quiet, let us know we are loved.


praying for others

It started with just a quick tweet that flashed through on social media. This popular minister – this man who is a sought-after speaker – said he sometimes invites strangers to meet him for dinner or offers to use his down time in the airport to provide telephone consultations and prayer.

Sure, he draws crowds to his seminars around the nation but he makes an effort to meet people in his unscheduled time, too – to make time and space for others. He simply sends out a tweet to see if anyone in the area would like to join him.

I was intrigued and terrified. My inner introvert almost fainted.

I decided I wasn’t ready to meet strangers for dinner, but I could at least ask my friends on social media if I could pray for them. So, I sent something out around 4 p.m. saying that my family prays before meals and would be delighted to include the prayer requests of others at dinner that night.

Within two hours we had so many prayers requests that we had to divide them up and pray for some after dinner and some before bed.

A college friend told me of her infertility problems. A former co-worker needed prayer for a new job. And people I had never met in person asked for God’s help with health issues for themselves or others.

I had felt so awkward asking publicly if anyone needed prayer, but I felt honored when they responded. I opened up space for them in my life and, thankfully, they took a brave step closer.

It made me wonder how many other opportunities I had missed because I didn’t ask, because I assumed everything was OK, because I focused only on the people who were on my schedule.

It made me think I should ask more often. And make more room.

So friends, do you have any prayer requests?

Remember: The Simply Faithful book club will read a fiction book this summer, and you have a chance to help pick the book. Which book do you recommend? Voting starts June 10 at the Simply Faithful Facebook page.


Thanking our veterans

We found the fire department open house completely by accident. We missed an exit on the highway and when we turned around we saw the inflatable jump house. Who could miss a Dalmatian as tall as a truck?

By the time we noticed the ladder high above the roof and the water hoses, I think there would have been mutiny in the van had we driven by without stopping.

My boys practiced putting out fires. They tried on firefighting gear, peeked inside the back of an ambulance and sat in a police car. They carried home balloons, pencils and booklets on how to prevent fires and handouts on creating escape plans.

And they were thrilled to talk about it all because it had been fun and because the men and women hosting the open house had been friendly and helpful. They had answered question after question.

Those folks? The one who were so kind? They became heroes to me that day because heroes aren’t just the ones who put out the fires. They are the ones who share what they know to prepare lives.

These people – like great educators, youth leaders, clergy, nurses and drill sergeants – were willing to talk about how to prevent the unthinkable. They – like aunts and uncles, friends, social workers, police officers and coaches – were investing in the lives of others without a guarantee of seeing the return. They – like countless others who serve – are heroes and worthy of our thanks.

Thanking our veterans

Thanking our veterans

So, this Memorial Day weekend, let me be one of the first to say thank you to all who have served on the battlefields of war and on the battlefields of life. Thank you to all who have given up nights and weekends, worked holidays and stayed awake praying so others might have a better life.

Thank you to those who have willingly given their lives to protect us and to those who wake up every day and give it their all to prepare us for life.

Thank you all for your service and for your sacrifice.



How to be a good mother

How to be a good mother

Hey, mothers. Moms. Aunts and cousins and friends who do your very best to nurture others.

I hope all the people you love made you feel special this Mother’s Day. I hope they held the door open for you, pampered you with your favorite foods and hugged your neck until it was hard to breathe – both because of the closeness and because of the joy.

But I hope one thing above all: I hope this time you listened and started to believe you really are good at mothering.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You’re OK at this gig, but you mess up a lot. You get impatient. You let them watch too much TV. You aren’t as consistent with bedtime as you need to be. You need to find more ways to connect.

All of that may be absolutely true. Remember, though, that mothering doesn’t come with a checklist or a scorecard. Instead, it comes with its own share of grace.

So, when that 3-year-old calls you his friend and the 6-year-old says he is impressed with your beauty? Smile. Say thank you. And believe the truth. You are cherished, and you were chosen for this family, for these very people.

Sure, hard times will come, times that test those ties. But don’t assume that’s because of bad mothering. We all make mistakes, and sometimes it’s a mistake to blame ourselves.

So many of us have fallen in this trap of always feeling guilty, always feeling less than. We think this is humility. We think this is how we push ourselves to get better.

But friends? May I cup my hand under your chin and lift your head higher for a moment? Let me look you in the eyes and tell you this.

Beating yourself up doesn’t make you better. It just keeps you down.

If you want to improve for God, for yourself, for the people you love, then it’s grace you need. Grace speaks to your soul and whispers that you are forgiven. Grace puts its arms under yours and lifts you back to your feet. Grace dusts you off and sets you free to be the woman you were meant to be.

God’s grace is sufficient for you, lovely mama. It’s sufficient for you, dear aunt. It’s sufficient for all of us.

Now, go in peace and in confidence.

Do the work you are called to do.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,097 other followers

%d bloggers like this: