Inspire – September 14, 2020 – Ding Dong!

Do you remember hearing “Ding! Dong! Avon calling!”?

I loved it when the Avon lady would come to my parent’s or grandma’s house. I would sit as close as possible to her to see and smell the colorful array of tiny lipstick and perfume samples. She would leave a little booklet so we could decide what to purchase for the next time. The Avon lady was someone I looked forward to seeing as a child.

One afternoon in the 1990’s a middle-aged woman showed up on my doorstep in Laotto, Indiana. I caught a glimpse of her as she walked toward our house and surmised she was an Avon lady. Because I was exhausted, the thought of not answering the door crossed my mind. Something (now I know it was Someone) nudged me to answer the door. She smiled and I invited her to come inside. This Avon lady had a gentle, calming voice with a slight southern accent. She was kind-hearted and had a sassy sparkle in her eye – I immediately knew I wanted to be friends with her. We talked about make-up, lotions, raising kids, family, Jesus, etc. for over an hour and a half. I didn’t want her to leave. One day I invited her to come to church and from that first Sunday she was a regular. Everyone in the church loved her. I looked forward to her monthly visits.

It’s funny that I didn’t want to answer the door that day. I didn’t want to hear about Avon products. I didn’t want to look at samples. I wanted to catch a nap while the kids were having quiet time. I came close to missing meeting my dear friend. My life would have been much less rich if I hadn’t. My precious friend, my former Avon lady, left this world on September 6. She is no longer in pain. She is no longer suffering. She is no longer bound to a chair or bed. She can walk. She can run. She can dance. She is free. She is enjoying eternity with our Savior and has heard His words – my paraphrase – “Welcome home, Marcie. Come in, my good and faithful servant.”

Dear readers, may we open our doors because maybe, just maybe, there is a new friend on the other side.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – September 7, 2020 – Immortal

Have you ever felt immortal?

Kids seem to think they are going to live forever. Like nothing is going to hurt them. They aren’t afraid to jump off walls, fences, tables, or try crazy bicycle jumps, etc. They have no fear in picking up things to investigate – no matter how disgusting.

Most of my grandkids are up for challenging adventures like rock climbing, rappelling, extreme Jeeping, hiking, dirt biking, camping, picking up snakes and bugs, etc. There have been a few occasions I’ve been concerned about their safety (and mine) while they seem oblivious to impending danger.

Years ago, my son-in-law challenged me about living life to the fullest so I’m not as fearful as I once was. While driving from Indiana to New York with him and my daughter during a particularly difficult season of life, Jon quoted Pastor David Jeremiah. The words sucker punched my fearful heart. “A man of God in the will of God is immortal until His work is done.” Immortal? Until His work is done? Then why was I always worried about dying? Immortal until His work is done? I had never thought that way before.

Friends, we will all die. There’s no way to get around dying unless Jesus returns first. So until then we are immortal. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you do something foolish or stupid. What if we change our mindset and choose to live every day until we are no longer alive here on earth? What if we go after the dream God has placed in our heart? What if we choose not to live in fear – afraid of everything and everyone? What if we act like we are immortal just like little kids? What if we are busy doing His work until we are no longer able? His work can be done until we take our final breath. Oh, what is His work? To “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 NIV

May God empower us to live like we are immortal. May we live every day like it is our last. May we try something new. May we make every moment count. May we do His work until He calls us home. May we love Him and our neighbor.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – August 31, 2020 – See

Do you “see the good”?

While sipping coffee from this mug at my daughter’s home Saturday morning, several trains of thought began to move through the central station of my brain. Random thoughts. Happy thoughts. Good thoughts. Rain drops, golfers, thunder, clouds, sunshine, green grass, palm trees, family, friends, church, faith, health, swimming, mountains, happy dogs – just to name a few.

It is pleasant when it is easy to find the good but lately it has been a little more difficult. Some days I have to look extra hard to find it. Some days I have to wait until the flood passes and the mess is cleared away in order to see the good. Some days I have to dig deep to find even a hint of good. Skimming through posts on FaceBook and Twitter, I’ve had to go deep to find the good. I want good to be there. I know it has to be there somewhere. I want to see it. Maybe I need more training to see the good.

Even in the midst of chaos, covid, differentness, there is good to be discovered. How can I say that? Because God is with me and He is good. For the LORD is good; His loving kindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5

Do you recall the story of Corrie and Betsie tenBoom while prisoners in Barracks 28 in Ravensbruck? Their barracks were infested with fleas. I can’t even imagine. Betsie told Corrie they must be thankful for the fleas. Thankful. Betsie might not have used the exact word ‘good’ but she did say they could be thankful for the fleas because they protected them from being more bothered by the guards. Betsie saw the good in a flea-filled, overcrowded, underserved prison. And that same prison was filled with the presence of God. He was with them in the midst of death, torture, suffering, pain, hardship, hunger, sorrow, illness, separation. Corrie eventually agreed with her sister and said, “there is no pit so deep that His [God’s] love is not deeper still.” They saw the good. You can read more of their story in The Hiding Place by Corrie tenBoom.

I have to ask myself – am I modeling “seeing the good” for my children? My grandchildren? My friends? Even during Covid? Ouch. I am not there yet but I want to be.

May each of us see the good because we see our God in all situations.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – August 24, 2020 – School Rerun

How is your school year going?

I’ve talked with several teachers, teachers’ assistants, parents and elementary/middle school/high school scholars. Most are making the most of the current situation with COVID and are grateful to be back in school – especially the in-person teachers and scholars. My brother, a niece and a friend all mentioned their throats were scratchy and strained due to having to speak louder while wearing a mask. They also said the kids are cooperative and compliant wearing their masks. Rockstars!

My school-aged grandchildren are engaged in a variety of learning styles this year. Five are doing online classes. Two are going to in-person classes. Two are enrolled in Classical Conversations classes at home four days with one day of in-person group classes. My desire is for each of them to appreciate and enjoy their learning opportunities.

I decided to do a rerun of my post from last year about school because it is still relevant.

Inspire – Day 232 (2019) – School

Do you look forward to the start of school?

Even as a young child, I was thrilled to start school – but that’s way back when it started in the fall instead of late July or early August.

Fall ushered in cooler temperatures and the promise of a fresh start, a new adventure, a new teacher. Our five kids loved receiving their school supply lists and they would bug me until we would go to Target to pick up the necessities. With lists in hand, they would peruse the aisles – looking for the perfect binder or pencil pouch. When each item was crossed off their lists, we would head to the check out counter. After paying, they would proudly carry their bag of school supplies out to our mini-van.

Now school starts before summer is over and you can pick up pre-packaged school supplies at Walmart – specifically bundled for a particular class/school. That’s great for busy parents but doesn’t it take away a child’s excitement of getting to choose? I know, I’m weird.

Years ago there was a tv commercial about moms lovingly getting their children on the school bus – waving at the kiddos while looking sad – and when the bus pulled away, the kids looked out of the back window to see their moms cheering and partying. That was me. I don’t think I was heartless – I just needed some peace and quiet after three months of having my entire tribe together. I didn’t cry about them going to school until the days they left for college.

Our family was blessed to have wonderful teachers at Laotto Elementary School. The classes were small. The teachers and staff cared about the kids. Mrs. LaFever, Miss Crooks, Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Mills, Mrs. Taggart, Mr. Lange, Mr. Pine, Mrs. Eminger, Mrs. Deveau, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Rhea, Mrs. Richardson, Mrs. English, Mrs. Downer, Mrs. Grate, Miss Santella, Mrs. Schmelz. I am sorry if I missed anyone.

Teachers can make a huge difference in the life of a child. Mrs. Edna Cocomise, one of my lay teachers at Assumption Elementary School in the “valley” in Indianapolis, was my hero. I sensed her love and concern for me and our class. She and one other are the only elementary teachers whose names I can remember. The other teacher wasn’t for good reasons. I had several teachers at Ben Davis High School who positively impacted my life – most notably Miss Linda Hawk. As a junior, I got to “teach” her geometry and algebra classes for Student Council’s Teacher Turn-Around Day. At the end of the day, Miss Hawk encouraged me to think about becoming a math teacher. I am sorry I didn’t, Miss Hawk – does it count that my youngest brother, Chris Pearson, is a math teacher at Plainfield High School???

Why not take a moment to thank a teacher who has influenced your life? Write a note. Send an email. Post a message. They might need to hear your encouraging words today.

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity” Titus 2:7

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” Psalm 32:8

Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son” 2 John 1:9

May God protect our teachers and students as they teach and learn.

May we be grateful for the ability to continue learning – even when we are out of school.

May we sit at the feet of our Master Teacher, Jesus, and be His life long learners. He is the King of kings and Lord of Lords. He alone is the Chosen One. There is no other.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – August 17, 2020 – Sweat

Do you sweat?

‘Glisten’ or ‘sparkle’ is how I would like to describe myself but sweat is more accurate. Ugh. I sweat more than my husband or most of humankind. It’s embarrassing. It is not fun and I’ve been this way most of my life. I’m hot when everyone else is cold. When I am cold, it must be really, really cold. As an elementary student, my mother would bundle me up in a coat, hat, scarf, gloves and boots. I would protest unsuccessfully. My clothes would be sticking to me by the time I got to school. I’ve spoken with my doctor about it. I’ve tried different herbs, lotions and potions. I can’t change it. It’s just me. I guess I am just hot (no wise cracks, please) all of the time.

Sweaty me

I’ve noticed several things intensify it – anxiety, fear, stress, time pressures, closed spaces, lack of air movement and the sun. I sleep with a fan directed toward my face almost year round and I take one with me whenever I travel. My preference is to set the furnace or air condition at 68 degrees.

The night before his death, while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweat drops of blood. Blood. I’ve never sweat blood. That degree of anguish is foreign to me. The knowledge of the next day’s events took a physical toll on him. Because Jesus was fully God and fully man, he felt pain like we do. Jesus asked his Father to take away the pain. Ultimately he submitted out of love for us and to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. No quantity or intensity of my sweat could ever compare to that of Jesus’. Mine is to bring down body temperature. His sweat was to bring down sin for humanity. Sweat was a precursor to his ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:42-44

Sweat. It’s not a pretty word. But the cross wasn’t pretty either. Sweat is necessary to control the body’s temperature. The cross is necessary to bring salvation to anyone who wants to receive it. My sweat doesn’t matter. His does.

May our beads of perspiration, our drops of sweat, cause us to remember what our Savior did for us and be thankful.

Cheering you on!

p.s. When does the freezing cold old lady part kick in?

Inspire – August 10, 2020 – Struggle bus

Is anyone else on the struggle bus?

Almost everyone I have recently spoken with has mentioned they are struggling. With life. With school choices. With health issues. With aging parents. With the unknown. With childcare. With high school, college and professional sports. With traveling. With weddings. With baby showers. With newborns. With everything. E v e r y t h I n g. A big struggle bus has been parked in front of our homes with no intent of moving on.

When I’ve been on the struggle bus for too long, I have to get off. I force myself to do something semi-normal. Go to the beach. Walk around the Promenade Riverfront. Eat outdoors at our favorite restaurants. Spend time with my family. Social distance on a friend’s deck.

Masks are required in most places in Indiana so I follow the mandate even though I am not fond of wearing them. I also dislike turtlenecks and heavy sweaters and choose not to wear those. Because of my unfriendly relationship with masks, I avoid going to places where a mask is required for more than a couple of minutes. When we flew home from AZ in early June I pulled my mask down under my chin while on the plane. No hate mail please because I understand the risks. I’m grateful no one was policing proper mask wearing on that flight.

Isolation and masks have been my ticket for the struggle bus. The ticket I don’t want. I’m trying to have a good attitude. To be a good citizen. To care about others. To obey the law. But I want to see people’s faces. I want to hug my friends. I want to sit close to my family. I need physical touch. I crave laughter and silliness and deep spiritual conversations. Admittedly, the struggle bus is frequently honking – waiting for me to hop on.

My go-to cure for the struggle bus is engaging in meaningful moments with family and friends. Or digging into God’s Word. Or listening to uplifting podcasts and books. Or Marco Polo-ing with crazy high school and church friends. “Faxting” with the family is also a big favorite. (We send pictures with no words or explanations typically on a Friday).

Many of the heroes of the Bible rode the struggle bus during their days here on earth. David. Peter. Moses. Joseph. Sarah. Mary. The woman at the well. No one gets out of this life without a ride or two on the struggle bus. Some days when I’m on the struggle bus, I’ll look around and realize many of my people are on it, too. I’ll think, hey, let’s make the best of it and make the best of this crazy ride.

Let’s look around to see who is on the struggle bus with us. Who needs a kind word or a verse of encouragement? Who needs someone to sit next to them or to cry with them? Let’s pray this pandemic struggle bus thing is out of business very soon. I am thankful the ride isn’t forever.

May God lead us forward. May we wave the struggle bus on and not welcome it to pick us up.

Cheering you on!

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Inspire – August 3, 2020 – Books

What book(s) are you reading?

Saturday evening I finished reading The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer. Currently I am immersed in three books: Chasing Vines by Beth Moore, Educated by Tara Westover, The Valley Between by Nathan Metz. The first three are on Audible. The latter in paperback form. This is my second “reading” of Chasing Vines even though there aren’t enough hours in the day for all of the other titles on my “to-be-read” list.

When I was younger, books were my escape from reality. I transported to magical places far away – to homes and spaces filled with happy people – to foreign lands – to mysterious adventures – often losing track of time and place. Adult responsibilities don’t offer the same opportunity. There are other things that must be done. Some days reading is a luxury.

A book I tend to neglect or read too briefly offers 1,189 chapters brimming with adventures, drama, deceit, love stories, travels, betrayal, battles, kings and queens, construction, temples, prophets, fishermen, cheating tax collectors, widows, animals, boats, floods, miracles, jewels, promises, wisdom, spies, prostitutes, slavery, prisoners, evil spirits, giants, shepherds, angels, horses, storms, and with an ending that is out of this world. This book can easily be read cover-to-cover in one year if one would read 3-4 chapters per day. This book offers wisdom when needed, hope in hopeless times, peace in chaos and life in the midst of death. Oh, I’m sure you know the book of which I speak. The book inspired by our Creator and believed to be penned by 40 different persons. The Holy Bible. The Word of God.

The book of Psalms is where I’ve been planted lately. Many mornings, the words jump off the page – appropriate for the events of my day. I don’t understand how God does it but His timing is perfect. He can give hope to everyone – no matter their age or sexuality or skin color or nationality or political alignment. His Word can penetrate even the hardest of hearts and heal the most broken.

If you haven’t read the Bible lately, or maybe never before, I would encourage you to pick up or listen to an easy to understand version like The Message (MSG) or The New Living Translation (NLT). These aren’t word for word translations but you’ll get the general idea. Explore this website for perusing a variety of versions www.Biblegateway.com or load the YouVersion Bible App on your phone, tablet or computer.

Friends, we need encouraging words during “normal” life and even more so during these days of the coronavirus pandemic. God’s Word is true and never changes. Read the Psalms for comfort. I know it helps me.

May we find truth, life and solace in the words our Creator has given us.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – July 27, 2020 – Guatemala

Are you familiar with the country of Guatemala?

My first experience was in 2003. This past February’s trip was my 20th trip. You might say I am a wee bit smitten with the people of this gorgeous Central American country.

We spend the majority of our time in the Lake Atitlan area – especially in San Juan and San Pedro. We’ve been in Santa Clara, Santa Maria, Santa Lucia, Poacorral, Panyebar, Santiago, Antigua, Panajachel and San Antonio Palapa. The scenery and people are beautiful. Volcanoes, lakes, fields planted with coffee, corn, beans, carrots, etc.

Unfortunately, like the US, the coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected Guatemalans, too. Strict curfews and forced closings have made it more difficult for people to work. Many rely on the generosity of the church and neighbors to survive. Our IMPACTO friends have been doing what they can to help but cash resources are limited. Volunteer teams are unable to serve this summer which reduced income and eliminated jobs for translators, construction workers, bus drivers, cooks, hotel workers, etc. IMPACTO’s founder and his wife have been in the US – unable to return to Guatemala until the borders open. Pastor Luis uses Zoom to meet with available pastors and lay leaders – to teach, encourage and pray with them.

We are blessed here in the States to be able to order groceries online, drive to the nearest Kroger, Meijer or Sam’s Club where our vehicles will be loaded for us. We are blessed to have clean, running water available inside our homes. We are blessed to have food banks and government assistance programs. Can you imagine living life with limited resources – limited interaction – limited assistance? Some of our Central American friends (and people around the globe) have no idea of where their next meal is coming from. They have no freezers or pantries stocked with extra food. No refrigerators to keep food from spoiling. They live day to day – meal to meal.

But – our God is not limited. I’m proud of the work IMPACTO Ministries is involved with on a regular basis. Lately they have been feeding people with resources that are coming in from generous donors. It is amazing how far $10 or $100 will go to feed a family in Guatemala.

This post is different than what I typically write but bear with me please. I am confident I have readers whose hearts are huge and bursting with generosity. Would you prayerfully consider donating to IMPACTO so they can continue to feed children, families and the elderly? I can guarantee the money will be used wisely and for the purpose intended. Please enjoy the pictures of recent food distribution days. Go to www.impactoministry.com for more ministry information and photos – especially check out their newest ministry Happy Tummies to Go. Click on the yellow donate now button.

Giving is like the “ripple effect” that Pastor Luis often speaks of – love will spread and resonate within the hearts of grateful recipients. We may not know the full effect until we reach our heavenly home. I pray my readers make lots of ripples.

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:44-45

May God bless you for your loving generosity.

Cheering you on!

p.s. Click on this link to read our Guatemala story. https://impactoministry.com/news-and-stories-aleluya/guatemala-no-way-we-are-not-going-guatemala/

Inspire – July 20, 2020 – Drowning

Have you ever felt like you were drowning?

When our kids were young, the extended Troyer family vacationed at Marawaraden Resort in Wisconsin. Phil’s parents along with his Uncle Ike and Aunt Berneta organized the week at the lake.

One extremely overcast afternoon while everyone was playing in the sand along the shore, a young man who was visiting his friends at a neighboring cabin went out to kayak one more time before driving home. About 50’ from the shore is where he tipped his kayak and he went under. He tried to right his kayak but it was evident he was struggling and could not swim. He went under and came back up three times – his terrified eyes screaming ‘help’. Several people jumped in the lake to rescue him. No one could find him. Boaters went out with fish finders to try to locate him. Nothing. Rescue divers arrived but it was too late. He was gone. His lifeless body was lifted from the dark waters – a tragedy that is forever etched in my memory.

On another occasion while we were swimming at friend’s lake, one of our kids fell face down in a foot of water about 3 feet from the shore. He thrashed in the water but couldn’t figure out how to get up. Phil and I rushed to rescue our child. He wouldn’t have needed us to rescue him because all he needed to do was to stand up. His fear kept him from doing so.

Drowning was one of my biggest fears for my kids whenever we went swimming in a lake or a pond. Occasionally I’ve had flashes of images of the young man drowning and no one being able to find him because the water was too dark on that overcast day. I could relax more when they swam in a pool where I could see through the water – where I could see them. Life has changed. The kids are grown. Now I am vigilant watching our grandkids when swimming.

Friends, we may not be drowning in water but we might be drowning in fear, sorrow, anger, angst or unbelief. Sometimes we wallow in our mess without realizing we can stand up and walk away. Sometimes we choose to stay under because it is all we know. The only solution is to allow our Heavenly Father to reach down and pull us out. He is our only Savior. Our only hope.

Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

May we reach up and take the loving Hands that are ready to save us.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – July 13, 2020 – Contronym

Can you think of a word that has opposite meanings?

How about this one?

Hold up: To support, or to impede.

I want to hold up my friends who are experiencing difficulties during COVID.

There was a hold up in our building permit process.

Same words – two opposite meanings. The English language can be complicated and confusing.

Jesus’ teachings were simple yet complicated – direct yet confusing.

The last shall be first. (Matthew 20:16)

Those wanting to be great need to serve. (Mark 10:44).

Give and you’ll receive. (Luke 6:38).

Forgive and you will be forgiven. (Matthew 6:14)

Even the apostle Paul said: “For when I am weak, then I am strong”. (II Corinthians 12:10)

Sometimes our faith doesn’t make sense. We lose to gain (Philippians 1:21). We give away to have treasure in heaven. (Matthew 19:21). We die to ourselves in order to live. (Galatians 2:20).

One of the fascinating aspects of faith in Jesus is that He contradicts what the world says is important or elevated. The world esteems fame, popularity, money, possessions, beauty, youth, etc. while Jesus looks for humbleness, kindness, gentleness, patience, peace, servant-hearts, generosity, sincerity, etc.

I hope this contronym gives you something to think about today. I’m thankful God continues to hold me up even when I fail to hold up on my end. He is so good.

May we hold up those who need help and may we not hold up on doing so with gratitude and joy.

Cheering you on!