I gave love away, and got more love than I deserved in return.

Two years ago, in a Wal-Mart parking lot, I failed God. I passed by a dejected man, standing in the sweltering middle-of-July Kansas heat. I only looked at him long enough to see his sign reading “Will Work For Food.” In my passenger seat were 20 or so ice-cold Powerades, just purchased inside, condensation beading up on chilled bottles to match the beads of sweat pouring down this man’s face. I couldn’t give him money, or food, but I could give him refreshment. And I did nothing. I ignored that small voice. I just drove on by.

All the way home, my heart ached. I knew I’d done wrong. But I didn’t turn around. Later, I begged God for forgiveness, and a second …

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Yes, she’s beautiful on the outside, but not as beautiful as she is on the inside. (image from .lucillezimmerman.com)

Oh…she’s gorgeous. My heart sank a little as I saw Ann Voskamp’s words, so inspiring and life-changing on the pages of her book, come to life in her small group study DVD. Her book, One Thousand Gifts, has been life changing for me. But her voice, decidedly sultry, didn’t match the one I heard in my head as I’d turned those pages late at night. Her hair, a beautiful chestnut color, sat atop her head perfectly coiffed, not a strand out of place. And I’m ashamed to admit, I grew a bit jealous.

I had a hard time really hearing her words, as the video artfully moved through images of her hand crafting scratch loaves of bread, children …

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Easier said than done. But it must be done.

The last thing on my mind this morning was gratitude. In fact, the first thing on my mind was a string of curse words. While I didn’t let them escape my lips, I felt that if an innocent bystander were to view my body language, they would probably be offended. I was stressed. Angry. Irritated. I slammed doors. I barked commands at my daughters. We had to get out the door NOW! We were going to be late for the doctor! Shoes ON! Coats ON! I was frustrated with the situation, not with them. We’re going on week number three of illness in my house, and the pressures of care taking are starting to wear on me. Little sleep. Constant demands for attention. To-do lists with little actually done. …

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Has it really been five days since I’ve written? Hmm. It feels strange…that it doesn’t feel strange. You see, I’ve had a bit on my plate the last two weeks. In the course of fourteen days, my youngest daughter first came down with the rotavirus, had two days of relative good health, then got another stomach bug for 24 hours, and then to top it all off, is now fighting RSV. Ooph. Throw in the typical Christmas hustle and bustle, plus a sick husband, and another sick child in the mix, and you start to see why I’ve been kept away from the laptop.

Now I guess that’s not completely true. I’ve had time to write. Small chunks of time, but time nonetheless. So, then, what kept me from sharing my usual once-a-day posts? I just …

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As mothers, we’ve all been here. But what we wouldn’t give to be here again if we should ever lose our child. (image from: amanbirthservices.com)

It’s 3 a.m. Do you know where your children are? Mine are upstairs in their bedrooms. One sleeping soundly. The other in the throes of a full-blown tantrum, beside herself that I’ve finally stopped giving her milk at night. It was a bad habit. One that needed to be broken. And as much as it breaks my heart, and hurts my ears, I am grateful. Each scream is a blessing. Each cry is reminder that she is here. She is alive.

Somewhere, not too far from here, in a linoleum-floored hospital room, a mother holds the hand of her young daughter. She is dying. Cancer has wrapped its treacherous tentacles around her …

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