I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pondering Raising Kids


Hi!  It’s Alena, mother of four amazingly insane kids.  

Raising kids is tough, raising responsible kids even tougher.

Coming from a large family and being a middle child didn’t afford many opportunities to slack on chores. We each had a job.  If we didn’t do them, our big brothers were around to make sure we did.  While I might have been able to smile my way around my Father, there was no moving my older brothers.

Having my own children made me realize the things my parents did to teach and prepare us for our future as adults and now, parents.

My first tip is basic, but the benefits make it worth mentioning.
1. Have your children help. 

Over time I developed a chore chart for every day of the week, each child rotating chores.  Thus no need to hear (insert whining tone) “It’s her turn, she never has to do it.” 

They learn how to perform each task from washing dishes, to sweeping and taking out the trash.

I want my kids to leave the house with the ability to run their own households, so I didn’t stop with kitchen chores.  They clean and cook with me too.

When I’m in the kitchen so are they, especially on Sundays, our day to eat as a family.

Do you know what wonderful by-product came from this?  We talk.  We laugh. Sometimes we even throw food.  Do you know what happens as a result?

Family Time = Memories =  Priceless

My second habit might confuse you, but hear me out.

2. We must greet each other

Sounds strange? As a child whenever we came home or left, we had to find our parents and greet them.  I continued this habit with my children. Hugs are mandatory.  Kisses are optional, but always welcomed.

Doesn’t seem like much does it?  Wait a few years.  Teenagers, especially teenage boys.

Make it mandatory for them to greet you when they arrive home and say goodbye when they leave. 

Time passes and before you blink they are gulp, driving.   Once they get those keys, they make The Flash look slow.

When they come home after school, after a game or whatever social event, I get a hug and sometimes even a kiss.

The side benefit?  

Often they plop themselves on my bed and talk.  Or they walk into my study and give me a glimpse into their world.

This does wonders for a Momma’s heart.

What about you?  What have you done to foster a good relationship with your children?

What did your parent’s do that made you want to stay and talk with them or run for the hills?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pondering Heaven

With two deaths in my extended family recently, I’ve had reason to think about heaven. Pause, for a moment, and consider that word.
Heaven. It seems so far away, so unreachable, and even a bit mysterious. But faith binds The Ponderers together, and one thing we can do is search the Bible to find answers about that mysterious yet glorious place. I’d like to share a few of my discoveries.
Heaven is mentioned in the Bible over 500 times. It ranks up there high in importance, I think. II Corinthians 12:2 gives a surprising comment from the Apostle Paul about a man caught up “to the third heaven.” Third? There’re three heavens?
I suggest that the three heavens are these: 1. The place where the clouds hover and the birds fly. 2. Where the stars and planets exist. 3. God’s dwelling place. I present a few verses to support this.
First heaven– where clouds hover and birds fly. “Sings praises to our God…who covers the heavens with clouds.” Ps. 147:7 & 8
Second heaven  -- where the stars and planets exist. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”
Third heaven -- God’s dwelling place. “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.”
The Bible gives a few more heavenly tidbits:
--God’s word is settled forever in the heavens (Ps. 119:89)
--God has reserved the inheritance of believers in heaven (I Peter 1:4)
--Someday the Lord Himself will descend from heaven to take the believers there. (I Thes. 4:16)
--God has prepared a dwelling place for us there. (John 14:2)
Sir Thomas More once wrote: “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.” When I read these passages in the Bible, I’m inclined to believe it.
However, it doesn’t have to be troubles to make us desire heaven. Maybe we’d just like to finally see Jesus.

What about you? Have you learned something else about heaven? What’s got you longing for heaven recently? 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Year of Lasts

It’s Haley’s first birthday next week, and I believe a child’s first birthday is primarily a celebration of the fact that the parents kept said child alive for 365, or in this case, 366 consecutive days.

I’m not embarrassed to admit, I’m pretty proud of this. I’m one of those people who struggles to keep houseplants alive, and my husband and I felt it important to raise and potty train a small four-legged mammal before we attempted a little human. (And if my dog’s behavior is any indication of our abilities, our kid will be peeing on the brand new sectional couch in about a year.)

Although we’ve kept her alive, we’ve fallen short in a number of areas. For instance, I’ve found her crawling around with a dog toy in her mouth on numerous occasions. She thinks the toilet is her own personal pull up bar. She eats macaroni and cheese and/or pancakes daily. Her vitamin drops still have the safety seal on them in the medicine cabinet. Speaking of the cabinets, we still haven’t installed the childproof locks in the kitchen. We didn’t buy her winter mittens until the stores phased into swimsuits. And she’s well on her way to thinking pointing and grunting will get her whatever she wants.

Despite all this, we’ve watched her grow and change and learn about the world. She can hold up one finger when you ask her how old she is. She’s walking all over the house like a champ (and doesn’t need to use the toilet to get on her feet). Her culinary tastes have expanded to include black beans, broccoli and olives (don’t judge me, this was huge.) She sleeps through the night and doesn’t cry when you dunk her during swimming lessons.

As I reflect on this year of firsts, I’m trying not to forget some of the lasts, too. I wish I remembered the last time her head would fit in her little newborn cap. Or the last time I saw her gummy grin before her two teeth poked through. How is it possible that in this year of firsts, we’ve already encountered some lasts?

I haven’t done a lot of fiction writing this past year, but I did journal a baby book for Haley. And looking back, it’s the most precious writing I could have done. It forced me to slow down, ponder each day, and store up the moments of Haley’s first year.

Your turn: Do you journal? What type of journaling do you do? How often do you look back at your journals and reflect on where you've been and how you've grown?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Heavens Declare God’s Glory

By Jennie Atkins

The Psalmist wrote in Ps. 19:1-4:  “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

This week we have witnessed three of God’s phenomenon’s in the heavens. First was the meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk Russia, the second being Asteroid 2012 DA14 which passed within 17,200 miles from earth and third, a meteor spotted crossing over the San Francisco skyline.

These events may have doomsday enthusiasts running to stock up on supplies or journalists using phrases like “Meteor Spotted over California has Residents on Edge”.  I however, view them differently.

One of the best things about living in Nevada is the night sky.  On almost any evening, I can step into the darkness and witness the awesome work of God’s hands.  As the Psalmist says, no speech or language is needed to see the glory of God’s hand in motion.  He set the stars in place, he created the earth, the moon, and everything we see around us. 

Romans 1:20 says he left us these things so no man can say, “There is no God.”

With every addition to my Ohio garden, I fell in love with God’s creativity. The variety of flowers from a simple Daisy to the thousands of tiny buds that make up one stem of a lilac amazed me.  The two-tone pink and blue flowers of the Lungwort plant to the deep crimson of a Geranium left me waiting for them to bloom again the next year.  The scent of Monarda filling the air with a spicy mint fragrance to the heavy scent of roses left my senses on overload. God was everywhere.

Now in Nevada I can see him in the mountains, the crystal blue of Lake Tahoe, and the multitude of rabbits, quail, and coyote that traverse our yard. 

So as some panic at the things that occur in the heavens, rest assured God has set the universe in motion with one sweep of his divine hand.

Your turn:  Where is it that you see God the most?




Thursday, February 14, 2013

5 Ways to Show Your Love

Photo Credit
Lisa Jordan

One of my favorite quotes is, “Treat your friends like family and your family like friends.”

Writers are told to “show, not tell” in their manuscripts. I believe the same holds true for our lives. After all, actions speak louder than words, right?

Many people will be showing their love to others today with flowers, chocolates, jewelry and other gifts. But what about those other days of the year when romance or love may not be in the air? Those days when the alarm didn’t go off, the kids are sick or maybe worse. How do you show love then?

Showing love is putting your words in action.

Think about the people in your lives. To whom do you want to show your love? Your parents? Your siblings? Your spouse? Your children? Your friends?

Sometimes it’s easier said than done to show others how much you care. If you’re struggling with ideas, consider these suggestions:
·         Speak to your loved one’s love language. If your spouse’s love language is physical touch, then offer to give him a massage or give him a hug for no reason. If your sister’s love language is Acts of Service, then bring her dinner and do her dishes.
·         Show your appreciation. How do you say thank you? Maybe give a bouquet of flowers on a very mundane Tuesday instead of waiting for the one day of the year when flowers are marked up in the name of love.
·         Swallow your pride. Being right isn’t always the right way to strengthen a relationship. Be the first to apologize and mean it. Learn to forgive easily and forget quickly. Holding grudges widens the distance in a relationship.
·         Do the unexpected. Surprise your loved one with an unexpected act of service. Offer to make dinner, do the dishes or fold last week’s laundry still sitting on the couch.
·         Take an interest in their hobbies. My husband is a professional fly tyer and outdoorsman. Some of our best times are on the water, floating a line across the surface. I’m not the kind of woman who is one with nature, especially in snake-infested grasses that skirt the streams where we fish. But putting my fears aside while pulling on my hip waders gives us time to connect away from the house and our daily responsibilities. He appreciates my interest in his hobby so much that he bought me a pink fishing vest. Yes, pink.

Showing your loved ones how much you care takes time and energy, but the effort you put forth will strengthen your relationships. And that’s worth it on so many levels.

Your Turn: How do you treat your family like friends and your friends like family? What other suggestions could you add to my list?


Married over 20 years, Lisa Jordan knows a thing or two about romance. She and her real-life hero husband  have two college-aged sons. By day, she is an early childhood educator. By night, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. In her free time, she enjoys good books, romantic comedies, crafting with friends and feeding her NCIS addiction. To learn more about her, visit her at www.lisajordanboooks.com.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Greatest of these is Love

Delores E. Topliff

For years an extreme allergy required me to carry an adrenaline epipen for emergencies. That was after two simultaneous wasp stings to my feet made my head swell huge like Miss Piggy as I started seeing double, unable to distinguish colors, with heart racing off the chart. It took days to recover. Though that sensitivity is neutralized now by many injections for immunity, family members still safeguard me from winged danger.

Recently 7-year-old grandson Rocco was downstairs alone in our farm home when he spotted a wasp! His warning screech ordered me to stay upstairs. He searched for a hammer to annihilate it (I prayed it hadn’t landed on a window), but instead used a book to smash it over and over until it died and he saved me.

In my eyes he’s my St. George the dragon slayer—and I love him even more.
That made me recall accounts of heroines saved by heroes of every shape and size from unimaginable dangers—and the great relief and gratitude that follows.

It doesn’t matter what we’re saved from—large or small hazards or monsters—just that we’re saved. Our relief is real and exquisite. Afterward we view our heroes in a different light: Rocco wears light armor, jeweled sword in hand. After unscrewing his helmet and bowing low, he lays the slain dragon at my feet with a smile as pleased as mine. 

The human condition is fraught with danger. Life’s journey includes meeting and surmounting most, while acquiring skill and wisdom along the way. Helped by family and friends, we often learn we cannot (and are not meant to) meet all challenges alone. Like Jacob at Jabbok, we may first have to come to the end of our strength and confess our name and discover His as we learn to more perfectly trust our truest Best Friend and helper of all.

I’ve been rescued, and been a rescuer—extricating a clinging bat from a screaming college roommate’s hair. I prefer the latter. But life’s gives-and-takes furthers our journey in deepening our relationship with Him who is the Best Friend of all.

What about you? Do you prefer rescuing? Or being rescued? Why? Please share what you’ve learned.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Love at First Fight

My husband and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is the anniversary of our first fight. It was our first Valentine’s Day, we were separated by 1,000 miles, and we’d only been dating (long distance, mind you) for 33 days. Craig sent the cutest little flower arrangement (in a mug being hugged by a tiny stuffed Dalmatian) to the salon where I worked at the time. I displayed them proudly at my station, thrilled to be in the “My-significant-other-loves-me-enough-to-send-me-flowers-on-Valentine’s-Day” club.

At the end of the day, I brought my flowers home and placed them on my dining room table and waited for my Valentine to call. We were an hour or so into our nightly chat when my call waiting beeped. It was odd because it was nearing midnight, so I asked Craig to hold on while I answered it. That was my first mistake. This was back in the “Old Days,” when we actually had to pay for long distance. By the minute. And it wasn’t cheap.

The caller was the young man I had broken up with just weeks before meeting Craig for some compelling reasons I won’t detail here. I was surprised, but I didn’t want to rush him off the phone because I felt really bad about our break up. That was my second mistake. He was a nice guy and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. So, instead of politely telling him I was in another relationship and hanging up, I continued to talk to him for twenty minutes. While Craig waited on my other line, paying for minutes of dead air. (And yes, that was my third mistake.)

In retrospect, it probably wasn’t my best choice to talk so long to my ex-boyfriend on Valentine’s Day while my new boyfriend was on hold. At the time it seemed okay because the ex had asked me if I was happy, and if I was seeing someone new. So I basically talked about Craig the whole time anyway.

So after politely chatting for nearly a half an hour (I know you’re thinking I’m a horrible person; I was definitely self-centered with low self esteem back then) I got him to hang up and I went back to my conversation with Craig. Of course he wanted to know who was calling his new girlfriend at midnight on Valentine’s Day. As you can imagine, he wasn’t happy with my answer and a heated discussion followed. The conversation ended with me getting self righteous (because deep down I knew I was wrong) and telling him that if he was unable to trust me, then maybe we needed to just forget it.

That was one of the longest nights of my life. I knew Craig was The One after our first phone conversation a month earlier, and I didn’t want to “just forget it.” I wanted us to live in the same town and have a normal relationship. I wanted a do-over of the night before so I could make a better choice. I wanted Craig to call me back and apologize for not trusting me. I wanted the courage to call him and apologize for being stupid.

Clearly we were able to work it out because that was 19 years ago and we’ve been married for a little over 18. It was a hiccup in our budding relationship, but thankfully, Craig knew I was The One several months even before I did, and called me the next day to apologize for being jealous and not trusting me. (And yes, I apologized for being stupid.)

For obvious reasons, Valentine’s Day is not our favorite holiday. We’ve never celebrated it since that first one in 1994. We would rather not commemorate our first fight every year and I’m not really the flower type anyway. Instead, we try to find ways to show each other our love every day. Craig is awesome, and has spoiled me in a thousand ways over the years. Little things, like finding the Pearson “Minty Bells” in the bulk section of Winco, remembering (even though they’ve been impossible to find for several years) that they were always my favorite Christmas candy growing up, and bringing me a big bag full.  Or patiently mixing me a cup of chocolate milk and bringing it to me in bed every morning before he goes to work so I can wash down all my medications and vitamins and go back to sleep for a little while longer. 

We’ve managed to stay happily married and madly in love without celebrating one single Valentine’s Day in our entire marriage. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not urging people to boycott the February “Day of Love.” I’m simply suggesting that it might not be worth the power we give it in our lives. It puts a lot of pressure on a relationship, and it rarely lives up to the hype. Instead, I highly recommend taking the time to learn the love language of your other half and then find small ways to cherish them every day of the year.

And never, never put them on hold to talk to an ex.  

Your turn: Love it or hate it, I'd love to hear your Valentine story!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Word Fitly Spoken

The MBT Ponderers introduces our guest blogger, Amanda Dykes. She writes Christian historical romance set in the early 20th century and is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Agency. Please welcome Amanda to our blog today. 

Has it happened to you?

You’re moving through your day, sure you’re hiding that burden so well. Certain not a soul knows the heaviness of your heart. You are in stealth-mode, flying under the radar with your trial, and holding up quite well… on the outside. And then it happens.

Someone says something nice—words that seem molded to the very crevices of your struggle.

And you come unglued.

They couldn’t possibly have known what was going on, how desperately you needed to hear their words. You didn’t even know how desperately you needed to hear them.

I’ve been there (...and maybe it’s only me who comes unglued…). I’ve cherished those words of encouragement. I’ve been astounded at the lifeline God threw me, orchestrated so intimately, in the form of words. And I’ve been grateful for the willingness of the person who spoke, to take the time and say them without even knowing what I was facing.

Today I got to thinking. Who around me is fighting an unseen battle? I don’t know. But God does. Who around me needs just that simple reminder: Hi Friend~ You’re not in this alone. A scripture, a card, an e-mail? I don’t know. But God does. And if we’re willing to listen, He’s willing to lead.

Many of us here have an aching inside us to etch words that make a difference. I wonder what would happen if every one of us determined to pay attention to the people around us today, to pray over our words, and see how they might be used to encourage…

Something remarkable, I’d bet. Won’t you join me in this? Most of you are probably ten steps ahead of me and had already thought to encourage the masses long before you ever clicked over here. In that case, thanks for sticking with this slow-going gal while I got to my point. Still…I can’t help the quickening in my heart when I think of what might happen if we all tuned our souls to God’s leading, let Him bring to our attention the very people who need His hope the most, at this very moment. Words like that… they’re silver and gold, and sometimes even lifelines.

What about you? Have you ever been on the receiving end of “a word fitly spoken”?
Amanda Dykes is a scribbler of blog posts and fiction. She’d love to have you stop by and visit her at www.AmandaDykes.com, where today and tomorrow (February 5-6), she’s hosting a plethora of giveaways at her website “housewarming” party. Authors Beth K. Vogt, Michael K. Reynolds, Joanne Bischof, Sarah Sundin, Melissa K. Norris, Michelle Ule, Catherine West, Olivia Newport, and Kathy Boyd Fellure are hanging out there and giving away books… and Amanda has a very special surprise giveaway as well.