Two Little Girls and their Mothers

Within 10 minutes one Saturday, I encountered two very different little girls. One little girl was with her mother in the middle of a parking lot. Their old car was stuffed full. They were not moving somewhere or going on vacation. Their car was clearly their home. They had no gasoline and were stuck. This little girl had short messy blonde hair and was wearing a dingy cotton dress. Her dirty feet donned flip flops. She was playing some kind of pretend with a laundry basket turned upside down with a towel over it like a table cloth.

I noticed the car and the woman when I pulled into the shopping center but didn’t go to see if they needed help until I was leaving. It was a bright sunny morning. They were parked out in the open so I felt it was safe to see about them. I pulled my car around and got out.

The scrappy little girl was playing, but when she saw me, she stopped and drew closer to her mother. Her mother wore shorts and a t-shirt that hung loosely to her extremely thin frame. The little girl relaxed a little when she saw I was friendly. Upon my inquiry, the mother didn’t over explain, she simply said they had run out of gas. She explained that it was hot and she felt dehydrated and just couldn’t walk the two blocks to get gas. I’m guessing money had a little something to do with it as well. She had a one gallon gas can sitting outside the driver’s door.

The longer she and I spoke, the more comfortable the little girl became and went about playing her pretend game with the basket. Noticing the dance studio logo on my t-shirt, the mother told me about how she was looking into dance classes for her daughter for the fall. Oh, the dreams we have for our children, even when starving and homeless.twirling-girl-mary-ward

I offered to go fill their can. She was very appreciative. Assuring her that I would be right back, I put the can in my car. The little girl didn’t like me taking their gas can. She started to reach for it. I guess when you ride around with all of your worldly possessions in a car, every item is important. Her mother assured her that I was going to help them.

Driving to the gas/food mart, I thought about and prayed for the mother and little girl. Was mom on drugs? Was the little girl safe? Writing this a few weeks later, I still don’t know.

Enter the second little girl. At the gas/food mart, I went in to buy them some water and snack items. I picked up another gas can that was two gallons. Three gallons of gas could get them to a shelter. Standing in line to pay, there was a little girl about the same age. She had long black hair in pretty ringlets and a cute shorts outfit on. She read the dance studio name on my shirt and proceeded to tell her mom, “That’s where I dance.” I smiled at her and we talked about the upcoming recital.

I took the water and fuel back to the mother and her daughter in the parking lot. Handing it to them, I also offered the phone number to a women’s shelter. The mother was very appreciative, calling the daughter over to take the bag for water and food items while she tended to the fuel.

These two mothers and daughters have been in my thoughts and prayers since. One little girl played pretend with odd household items. Living out of a car, for all I know, she and her mother just move from parking lot to parking lot. No roots, nothing stable, but the mother had dreams for her little girl. She probably worried about day to day food and location. But in her heart, she had dreams of her little girl dancing.

The second little girl was already dancing. It wasn’t a “someday” that would never happen. She too had a mother who provided for her, but her mother’s concerns probably weren’t their next meal or where they would lay their head. No doubt her mother had dreams for her as well.

Encounters like these remind me that everything happens for a reason. Why did I encounter two little girls that were both very much the same and so very different ten minutes apart? Is there a lesson to be learned?

Some things I’ve thought about:

  1. Dreams don’t cost anything. They are free and available to everyone. When they invade our minds, they provide a wonderful escape from reality – no matter what that reality is.
  2. There will always be those in need around us. What did that few minutes and money for the fuel cost me? Absolutely not. It blessed me. Weeks later I’m not worried about who got voted off the island, I’m still thinking about the encounter. That little girl and all the potential children represent. It changed me a little.
  3. God has a plan and purpose in everything. We aren’t puppets, but he uses every situation to glorify Him. I said nothing about Jesus to these people. Hopefully I showed them a little bit about Him though.
  4. Yes, the mother in the car could have been on drugs. But the little girl didn’t need to suffer because of it. My prayer is she used the phone number to get help and shelter.
  5. I learned more from my encounter with the homeless mother and daughter than I did the mother and daughter at the food mart. But seeing both in a short period of time gave impact to the whole situation.
  6. If I had to guess, living out of a car with her little girl was not the mother’s original plan; or dream for that matter. How did she get to this point? How many bad decisions followed by bad situations happened to bring her to this moment?
  7. Be in the moment. Stopping to help the lady and her daughter was not in my plan, but it’s what needed to happen in that moment. I didn’t spend those few minutes helping them but thinking about the rest of my list. Slow down. Look people in the eye when they talk to you and listen.

Your thoughts…


A Glimpse of the Other Side

empty nestI have a teen-ager in my house. Raising him to be a level-headed, productive, faithful adult has been the priority. In a few years, he will graduate and head off to college. My husband and I will begin the journey toward the empty-nest. This summer, our son was chosen to participate in a three-week music program. He would be away without our being able to visit. His departure meant we would have an empty nest.

I’ve heard of couples who really struggle when all the kids leave. No longer do they have a buffer or something other than themselves on which to focus their attention. They have spent years sometimes decades raising kids and functioning as parents. They don’t know how to be individuals and a couple.

I had no expectation about what our three weeks would be like. Would we fight? We don’t usually. Would we talk and spend time together or each find our own space in the house to spend our evenings? What would our weekends be like? No work, no activity with our son’s sports team. Would our conversations center around wondering what he was doing or anecdotes about when he’s with us?

We came home from dropping him off. The energy in the house was different. Admittedly, I felt a little antsy. I had no one to be responsible for. So, I took the dog for a walk. This gave me time to think. I decided to take on a couple of overdue projects while he was gone.

My husband was supportive of the painting and home projects and even suggested one of his own. And so our time began. Our weekdays were pretty normal, we worked. Our evenings were a little different. I tried to plan our dinners. We ate at home, but in front of the television. Several evenings I worked on my projects and finished them in the first week or so. We connected in conversation like we always do. We had a few more date nights then we would have. We laughed and enjoyed just hanging out together. In other words, I was very encouraged by our test run at empty nesting.

I think when the time comes, we will be ready. We will graduate into the next phase of our relationship smoothly. Our son is a blessing and a very special part of our family. But my husband and I like and enjoy each other as well. We are in love and are best friends.

In and of itself, our relationship is strong. We are as intentional about taking care of our marriage as we are about parenting. As parents, we are to raise our kids to release them to live full and productive lives. This is certainly easier said than done. But it’s necessary. Parents, when our job of raising kids is complete, our lives are not over. We will enjoy our son as an adult in whatever work he takes on. Together, my husband and I will have a new adventure in post child-rearing years.



Celebrating Freedom

We the people…

We hold these truths…

Strong phrases that begin foundational statements and documents for our country. Upon these phrases are built the core values of our country. The freedoms we take for granted everyday were penned creative-inspirational-quotes-thoughts-part11-61under these phrases. The freedom to speak our opinions, the freedom to own guns and protect that which we work hard for and the freedoms to worship. With freedom comes both responsibility and opportunity. Yes, we have the opportunity to take full advantage of our freedoms. But we also have the responsibility to not let those freedoms harm or keep others from living their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. These behaviors must be chosen, they can not be legislated. They are convictions of the heart.

We live in the greatest country in the world, founded on Godly inspired truths. Our founding fathers were as fallible as our political leaders are now. But they stood on God’s word and built a country. Today as we celebrate our freedoms, we recognize they came at a cost to thousands of others. Moving forward, we the people need to determine the future by first examining our own hearts.


Never Enough

praying for our childrenWe can never pray for our children enough. Next time you are sending your child off to school or some other activity and feel the need to cover them in prayer, perhaps this will help.

I like that this gives specific parts of their body. Is your teen beginning a new job and need to focus on instruction? Pray for their mind. Is your child starting a new school? Pray for their journey and where their feet will go. Are they going to meet new friends? May their words be encouraging.

The world is different than when we were young. It’s harder and there is more information and attitudes for our children to navigate. We need to be available for them to ask questions. Be there to guide them through as they mature.

When we can’t be with them, we can pray for them. God is always available and watching over.

Keep calm and pray on,



Happy New Year!

party hats and hornsI love that the first day of a new year is a holiday. Many wake up ready to throw away the old bad habits and jump into healthier living and better financial decisions. Gung ho! Not me. Yes, there are things I’d like to do and change in 2016, but today is a day of relaxing and family. It’s our last day or two of this holiday season. New Year’s day and (because of how it falls this year) the weekend that follows is a great way to ease into a new year. Take these few days to wrap up your holiday mindset. Make decisions about goals for 2016 and steps you will take to accomplish them. Look at your calendar and plan time to work on your goals. Is it exercise? Is it eating right? How will your meals change this first week/month of the year? Are you going to take a class? When will you be in class and when will you do homework?

Here’s to a well-paced goal-accomplishing 2016.



Is everything important on the list?

Fair_volleyball_wingsSunday evening it occurred to me that we would be going straight from Thanksgiving into Christmas. Like within a week. The first weekend in December my father and his wife are coming for their Christmas visit. Given that they will be staying with us and we will be hosting the entire family for a Christmas celebration I needed to make a list.

Actually, there are three lists. Groceries for Thanksgiving week, groceries for the week of their visit and the other “to dos” I want to make happen for it to be a wonderful time. By December 3rd my house will be completely decorated for the holiday and there will be cookies baked. That’s the goal that getting all the things on my list marked off will accomplish. Reviewing my plan and lists something was missing. Something was nagging at me that I needed to do. What was it?

The AHA moment hit when I laid my notebook and pencil down. As I let go of my plan, I realized I needed to be sure I took time to be grateful and enjoy the planning AND the doing. No matter how many things get marked off the list, my dad won’t care and my family won’t notice. It will be preparing my heart for the holiday and the time together that will be the most important thing to do.




What’s the worst that can happen?

The tall strong father felt his little girl’s grip squeeze just a little tighter. Their steps were shortening the distance. After eight weeks of swimming lessons the determined reward was to get to go off the diving board by herself.

“You ok? Still want to do this?” The father spoke gently.

“Yea daddy.”

“Then why are you squeezing my hand?”

“Well, uh, I may be a little scared.”

The father nodded and kept walking. Arriving a few feet from the end of the line. The father knelt down and pulled the pony-tailed girl’s towel from around her shoulders. “You’re going to do great. It’s just like we talked about and practiced. You hold your breath, jump, big splash, then come up swimming toward the ladder.”

The little girl laughed at the big splash part. Her father’s reassuring words were as warm as the summer sunshine, melting her anxiousness. But the butterflies still bounced around her stomach.

“I, I, I, think I’m afraid, daddy.”

Knowing this was all his daughter had talked about during her swimming lessons. Having watched her watch the big kids every week at the pool; she at the shallow end and them laughing and doing all kinds of funny jumps, the father knew his daughter would enjoy.

“Remember the question I always ask you when you are feeling afraid.”16089391-Little-girl-standing-on-the-end-of-a-diving-board-Stock-Photo-swimming-pool-children

In her small voice the girl said with rote memory, “Yes, what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

“That’s right. And we’ve talked about how to jump safely. You just got your completion certificate for all your lessons. AND” the father stressed, “You just swam three times the distance you will after jumping. I know you will do fine and if you get in pickle, I’m right here and will jump in. Look up in the chair, it’s Ms. Sara. She will be watching too.”

Ms. Sara waived. The little girl smiled real big and waved back. The site of one of her teachers as the life guard and her father’s reassurance was the last dose of encouragement she needed.

The little girl walked up to the line. Took the two steps up the low dive. Her toes wiggled at the first feel of the rough board. Walking to the edge, with a smile and a wave to her father, she puffed air into her cheeks and jumped. The splash washed over the diving area and in the rings of success the little girl popped to the surface and into a free style stroke. Climbing out of the pool her success dripped off of her and splashed in her words, “I did it! Did you see me daddy? Can I go again?”

With a congratulatory squeeze the father chimed, “Of course you can.”


This scene demonstrates the many times in our children’s lives when we as parents need to remind them of what they know to be true and encourage them to take the next step. Anxiousness is a good emotion when it gives pause to ensure we are going in the right direction. A direction for which we have prepared. A direction that fits with our values, beliefs, and talents. There have been many times that I’ve asked that same question, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Short of death or dismemberment, the worst thing that can happen is a mistake that, no doubt, I will learn more from than allowing anxiety to paralyze my life. As our children grow we continue to be ready to jump in the pool to catch them. I’m wondering, is it sometimes better, knowing they are ready for the next step, for us to stay on the sidelines and cheer them on?

 Your thoughts,


“Dive” — Steven Curtis Chapman


Away at College

Going away to college or just moving into the dorm at the college nearby was once an exciting prospect. Away from home and the parents. Out on your own and taking charge of your time. As parents, we spend the first 18 years of our children’s lives preparing them with the right jewels of wisdom. We hope and pray that by the time they leave, they are ready for all the good, and the bad that they will time

We hope we’ve given them a firm foundation in their faith. We teach them that it will be only a matter of time when drugs will be offered to them and how to say no. We talk to them about sex and the virtues of not sleeping around. But there is a new issue on the block. One that our parents didn’t need to talk to us about – the lone shooter.

In the late 1940’s at the height of the atomic and nuclear bomb scare, students and citizens learned the term, “duck and cover.” There were drills in neighborhoods, offices and public places. Those of us who grew up in the late 60’s and early 70’s hardly remember these drills. And young parents today know them only as a section in their history books. Today, our “duck and cover” lessons need to be about what to do if a lone shooter comes into your classroom, dorm, mall, church, theater or any large public gathering.

Reportedly In the first 10 months of this year, there have been 10 university shooting sprees. That’s one a month. We don’t want to send our kids off to school in fear, but we need to add the terrorists to the list of “what to do if” conversations we have with them.

Thankfully, I still have some time for working this lesson into our conversation. I’m already praying for the wise words to use. We want to send our kids out into that big world with confidence and boldness. We want to launch them saying, “look out world, here I come,” just as we left home. To do so they need to be armed with the weapons of wisdom, discernment, faith, hope, positive disciplines in their lives and “what to do if.”

What do you think?



At least twice a month my husband and I have a date night. Yes, he calls me and asks me out for dinner or whatever I’d like to go and do. Our date nights are an important part of the success of our marriage so far. I’ve noticed on recent outings a phenomenon that seems to be growing. The restaurants we frequent all have television screens posted around or other screens with promotional messaging for the restaurant. One restaurant even had a television in the ladies room. Really, is all this necessary? Is there no place (within the dating budget) outside my home dining room we canscreen free escape for a lovely meal and some good conversation? Once when we were traveling there was a screen with a scrolling commercial on a gas pump!

I’m not convinced our attention deficit problem comes from video games. It comes from our constant barrage of messaging and tele-entertainment. We have phones, tablets, computers, tv’s all screaming at us. We come into the house and we turn on a television. Consider this exercise, eliminate half of your screen exposure for one day or one week (that’s after you finish this post and perhaps choose to follow my blog). The second thing I would challenge you to do is spend at least 10 minutes a day focusing on something positive, watching your children playing, watching a sunset, reading a devotion; or just be still and listen to the silence. Perhaps have a face to face conversation (in the flesh, not FaceTime) with someone.

How will this exercise change you? I say exercise, because for some, this will hurt. You’re going to feel it. After the initial twitching stops and you look around, I would imagine you will see things more clearly than HD can ever deliver. There is a freedom to letting go of trying to keep up with what the world is shoving at you and taking control of what you watch or listen to.

Don’t disconnect from your family or your responsibilities. But let go of uninvited intrusions and see what happens.

Let me know.


Would you know what to do?

The request sounds innocent. The talk is smooth. So smooth you slide into the driver’s seat having ignored the twinge in your gut and the thought in the back of your head. It’s probably not a good idea to provide this ride. What am I doing? Before you know it you are being directed onto an abandoned road far from traffic and neighborhoods.

This is not the beginning of a bad horror movie. The situation is very real and was survived by a good friend of mine SharonPortraitwhen a former client of hers schmoozed her into her own car and then proceeded to kidnap and attack her. Today, nine years later, seven of which she spent in a legal battle, Sharon launched her movement, Own Your Moment ( Her goal is to empower, prepare, and inform others on how to protect themselves or prevent a personal attack.

Many women are given mace for their key rings when they learn to drive. In defense of a personal attack, could we get to it? Do we know how to use it fast enough before it’s taken from us? Do we trust our instincts over the risk of offending someone we don’t fully trust?

Sharon is an intelligent woman with a successful law practice. This attack took hours, but the experience has changed her life. Check her website, read her story, watch the video with her 911 call. Then tell me that you are not moved to be armed with the information and confidence to stay safe.