You can’t rush Jello

We all enjoy it. The jiggly, cool, fruity treat makes us smile. But to get to the treat we have to wait. In fact, to make the delicious cubes of goodness, both hot water and ice are added. Hot and cold-timed perfectly, and never to be rushed. But on the other side, we have a great snack or addition to a meal.

#jelloIsn’t that the same with the ebb and flow of life? There are good times and challenging times. We’re hot, we’re cold. The seasons and process of going through both are what form who we become on the other side.  There is no rushing the challenging times, we just have to go through them. And who would want to rush the good times? We just need to savor, and learn from them, appreciating the blessing after the storm.

Next time you find the Jello gelatin treat on the menu, have some and enjoy the happy treat. Go ahead and be transported back to elementary school lunches, find a straw!


Click to tweet: We all enjoy it. The jiggly, cool, fruity treat makes us smile. Making Jello is a lot like life.

Prepare for worship

For every faith, there are rituals used to draw the participants into the worship experience. For those in the evangelical Christian church, we have very few rituals. During worship services, there is music, communion, and a message. What I’m about to say is going to make me sound very old, but I’m going there. The contemporary Christian churches are building the worship music performance to the point of concert status. The loud music, lights flashing and waving, the imagery on the multiple screens do not help prepare hearts for the word of God to be shared. They don’t. It’s just a reminder of the craziness of the world we come to church to escape for a few hours. Psalm 46:10 is my go-to-prepare-my-heart-for-worship verse, Be still and know that I am God. God of creation, transcending time and space. He is bigger than all our worries, we should come humbly to Him.

One Sunday a few months ago the electricity went out in the sanctuary. The worship team didn’t have the lights or screens. They just had their voices and the words of praise. It was wonderful. They led us in a couple of songs, and the voices of believers were raised to the rafters praising God and inviting Him into the worship hour. As the last note echoed out of the sanctuary, we were calm and ready to receive the blessing of the message.

I heard a preacher, Alister Begg, once say that your church experience for Sunday morning begins Saturday night. He asked if we went to bed at a reasonable hour like we would throughout the workweek, so we can wake up refreshed, or are we up late, and partying? Do we get up on Sunday and go to church with prepared hearts for hearing God’s word and how it applies to our life, or do we scramble out the door fussing and arguing with our families about the issue of the morning?

Walking into the sanctuary are we intentional about leaving our to-do lists outside? Set our hearts on things of God, and pray for an open mind and ears to receive what He would have us learn about Him or ourselves in the passage the preacher shares. Are we ready to be attentive?

Don’t misunderstand, music is a wonderful form of worship. If you see me singing in my car, it’s probably worship music. But have we let the music in our churches become so much of a performance, we’ve forgotten about its purpose in preparing our hearts for God? Where is the quiet reverence of coming to the foot of the cross?

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing. Psalm 100:1-2

There is plenty of Biblical talk of singing, and use of instruments, but nothing of performing, and flashing lights. We are to be distinctive from the world, and this worship style is not the way to do it.

It’s just my thoughts.

#worship #christianchurch

All Americans: 4 Cities 2 Towns

In the last month, I have visited four major US cities and two small towns. The four cities were San Antonio, TX, Chicago, IL, Detroit MI, and New York City.

In each of the four cities, I spent time in high-traffic tourist areas – #NavyPier, the #Riverwalk, #FordField, and #TimesSquare. I observed people who were at home there, and those who were just visiting. Of the three, Chicago (even downtown) felt the warmest. Nowhere was anyone rude to me or anything close to the stereotypical big city rushed rudeness. But something about #Chicago and the downtown felt more inviting. What I loved about #Detroit was visiting a town outside the city, West Bloomfield, where my husband went to high school. But comparing the downtown experience it felt like a big city that developers had just plumped a bunch of large builds down and moved on. New York, admittedly I spent the most time in.

I stayed downtown near #BatteryPark and #GroundZero. Before and after the two-day work conference, I took the train uptown to Herald Square and then to Times Square. One note about my train experience, was clean and air-conditioned and not difficult to figure out., It had all the kinds of people you would expect-the crazy talking to themselves type, young professionals, and tourists. My goal was to look as little like a tourist as possible. I probably failed miserably, but I felt comfortable enough even reading a magazine while I road back to the hotel.

Many of the retail options were the same as we have in Louisville (except Bloomingdales and Tiffany’s), every store was bigger, louder, and had lights and sounds coming from all angles. Not to worry, I managed to make a few purchases😊 despite noise and crowds.

I bought a hotdog from a street vendor and stopped to look at the “genuine maybe some kind of designer” purses. I walked from Times Square to Rockefeller Center, and on another journey walked Herald Square, and then the financial district. New York truly is a representation of the melting pot America has been described as. I heard many languages, saw families, couples and individuals of all shapes, sizes, and nationalities. All moving in tandem with each other. All accepting that it was crowded and loud, but no one pushing or shoving to get to the front of the pack. Amid the volume of sound and people, there was a peaceful co-existence.

The two small towns I visited were Kinsman, OH, and Stillman Valley, IL. Both very quiet towns. Both primarily farming towns. Not a lot of diversity in either one, but still many colorful people to observe and meet. Both had a limited number of restaurant choices, but the food was outstanding.

In Stillman Valley, we went to Fritz’s Wooden Nickel. The menu boasted everything from seafood to steak. I stuck with the cheeseburger. Walking into the dining room felt like we were invading someone’s family reunion. The rumble of conversation, while all in English, was warm and comfortable. In Kinsman, we had the opportunity to eat at one of their nicest establishments, The Peter Allen Inn, and one of their down-home, Times Square Restaurant where they really did know names when the locals came for breakfast. Both establishments were locally owned, and the owners were mingling among the diners. Conversations were around the amount of rain, some flooding, and the challenges farmer were having with not being able to put the corn out, or it being too wet for it to grow.

Traveling in and around both of these towns, I wondered about the people who were born, raised, and built their own families there. How many of them only knew America from the perspective of their corner? Of course, I could ask that of the New Yorkers, or Texans I encountered as well.

When you ask the citizens of these six cities what it’s like to live in America or to describe America, how different their perspectives would be. One loud and busy most hours of the day or night, the other steady, peaceful, and little changes day-in and day-out. Both have their share of challenges.

The farming families are growing food that will be shipped across the country; including the big, fast-paced cities like #Detroit, #Chicago, and #NewYork. Similarly, it’s the industries in these major cities that provide the vehicles, financial options, and raw materials that the farmers and those in small-town America count on every day.

I’m headed home now to Louisville, Kentucky. Our microcosm includes all the things these cities have. We have sports (semi-professional), the arts, many people of different languages and cultures who have come to our fair city (metro of about 1 million) to build a life, raise a family, and be a productive part of society. We have our challenges of a river that floods twice a year, homeless, a fussy government structure, and the list goes on to parallel many other places. But it’s home. It’s where I was raised and have chosen to stay. But I like to visit other places and learn something about how others live. It’s these adventures that broaden my capacity to empathize with those who are challenged by life and appreciate very different points of view.


P.S. As I write this post, I’m on my way to #Atlanta, Georgia, another great American city! We are headed to the Mersedes-Benz Stadium for the Drum Corps International Southeast Regionals (#dci). We will be cheering on #PhantomRegiment!

#getaway #IAMJOAN

Click to tweet:

Dress for success

Sometime in the last 20 years as business professionals, we have gone from paying a dollar to a local charity to wear jeans on Friday, to business casual being the norm. Ther is a wide definition of what is considered business casual. Is it dressing jeans up with dress shoes and a jacket? For men, is it slacks and an open-collared shirt? What about the golf shirt and khakis? Ladies, our business casual options have always been a little wonky. I guess a most basic example would be slacks and a sweater, or blouse with no jacket, and flat shoes.

There are those in the up-and-coming generation of professionals who say it doesn’t matter what you wear, you should be judged on your work. While it’s a good thought, let’s face it, the rule of thumb around first impressions is in our human nature. They are lasting, and like it or not begin to form our opinion of a person. There have been studies done to support what I recently tested on my own.

The first three days of the workweek, I dressed business casual. One of the days was a blue jean day at work, so I took full advantage of the option. Every day, I went to work, out to lunch encountered salespeople in shops. It was ok. No one was rude to me, but I definitely got a few looks. The last two days of the week, I dressed in typical business attire. When I wore slacks, I did so with a button blouse, jacket, and a slight heel. My hair and make-up were a little more put together.

I went through my same routine, out to lunch, the same route from the garage to my office, etc. There was a notable difference in the way people (even co-workers) addressed me, looked at me, and interacted. Elevator doors were held, other people walking into the building commented on my outfit or purse. There was a higher level of respect offered. The friendly lady at the sandwich shop even asked if I’d gotten a promotion.

When I started my career, dressing for success, and dressing for the position you were working toward was very much part of the professional culture. Depending on where you work, there may still be something to that. To be honest, I sort of miss it. It was easier to know what was appropriate to wear. I owned 4 or 5 skirt suits and 3 or 4 pantsuits. Blouses in several styles and colors, and pumps in navy, black, and grey.

I’m not saying judging people by what they wear is right, but our clothes make a statement about ourselves. What we wear sends a message to those we come in contact with. This may even provide us the opportunity to learn something of the other person’s situation; to elicit sympathy or compassion. Most of the time, someone who is well put together, be it business casual, Saturday casual(which in my book may or may not include lipstick or makeup), or professionally dressed has taken time to care about how they look.

Taking time to dress neatly and appropriately for the activity boosts confidence and comfort in a situation. You send the message, “I am here, and I am ready.” Dressing appropriately for the situation is a sign of respect to the person in charge, or of the person who invited you.

Lookin’ sharp.


#dressforsuccess #clothes

Making change happen

hound dog on porch


There’s a story that is told of an old man sitting on his porch with his hound dog. The hound cries out every few minutes, but the old man does nothing about it. A passerby hears the dog and says to the man, “Your dog sounds like he’s in pain. Is he hurt?” The old man replies, “probably, he’s laying on a nail and I can’t get him to move, and he’s not motivated enough to get up himself.”

Isn’t that the case for many of us? We know there are changes we need to make, but we aren’t motivated enough to go through the pain to reach the benefit of the change. Exercise is a big one that many of us struggle to make a part of our schedule every week. Over and over we hear that exercise is good for us. Exercise isn’t just about losing weight or having a buff bod; it’s about taking care of the vessel our souls must live in while on earth. How badly do we want to keep it healthy? We need to make the commitment, and then be determined to keep it.

Exercise is just one example of a self-imposed change. There many other changes that are within our control-a job change, a personal habit, or relationship changes-all need to be healthy choices for our lives.

What is one change you need to make? Don’t be the hound dog.


#doglovers #exercise #goodhabits

Holy Week

Holy weekThis week is considered Holy Week, or Passion Week. It is the week leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ. While I’m not one to do anything for lent, I do think this week and the events it leads to is worth a pause and consideration. I do believe that Christ came, lived a perfect life, and died as the final blood sacrifice for the redemption of all people. He did not hang on the cross looking down and choosing people out of the crowd so as to say, “I’m dying for you, but not your neighbor.”

The parable of the lost sheep tells us that even if His sacrifice was needed for one lost soul, God would have still sent Him. But we all needed His death, and more importantly, His resurrection.

Christ was dead, wrapped in burial cloths, closed into a tomb, and guarded. Daytime went dark, and the earth shook with distress. He who was the purest of truth, love, and peace, was dead.

While there is speculation about what happened to his soul during those three days, perhaps he did descend into hell to do time for those he had died for. Those who would accept Him as their Savior, by-passing the hell they deserve. I don’t really know. The bigger point is that three days later, He walked out of His grave. He beat the one thing man can’t do on his own-a final death.

This Holy Week, may we live expectantly. May we live a celebration over our own final death, and the joy that we will someday walk with our Savior in paradise.

All the best,


#holyweek #passionweek #resurrectionsunday

Dear middle school parent

Your baby isn’t really a baby anymore. He’s a little stinkier, moodier, and you’re not as middle schoolcool as you once were. How did we lose our coolness? Now your son or daughter “all of a sudden” cares if you are within 20 feet of them in public. You give them their first phone, and you wrestle with having to have “the talk.” Please let this message encourage and inspire you. You and your child will both survive the three years of middle school that include changing academics and changing physiology. Below are a few morsels of wisdom that may or may not help you through.

Much like the early years of walking, your middle schooler wants their freedom. They don’t want to hold your hand. They “can do it themselves.” Okay, this is when parents begin to let go. Let them try and do it themselves. But don’t go too far, they will wobble or even fall and will look for you. There is an art to staying close, but not too close. We have to let them go in order for them to begin to understand independence and being responsible for themselves, and their schoolwork.

middle school socialSchool gets a little harder and social becomes a little more important. Changing classes, keeping up with multiple teachers and assignments teaches time management, organization, and an understanding of being accountable. Independence is wonderful but with freedom comes responsibility.

On the social front their friends “understand more than parents.” They are convinced parents never experienced peer pressure, girl/boy trouble or fitting in. That’s ok. Let them have their friends, but know who their friends are. Meet the parents of their friends. If someone is having a party, call the parent and ask if you can send snacks. That question will open the way to finding out other important things like making sure the parents are going to be home, or even know about the party.

Keep communicating. No, your middle schooler may not confide in you like they once did, but keep talking. Ask open-ended questions, ask their opinion. Listen to them more than offer advice.  Don’t be afraid to just let them be. Over time, you’ll learn enough about what they are thinking and going through. And whether or not they show it, they will know that you are there for them when they need you. These exchanges will lead you toward what will one day be an adult relationship.

One other thought, as we begin to give them freedom, remember you as the parent are middle school girlstill in charge. You are giving them some freedom, which means if it’s abused or there are signs they can’t handle it, you can take it away. This will cause all kinds of attitude and drama to show up, but be strong. It’s as important to be consistent with discipline with adolescents as it is with toddlers. But give your child the opportunity to re-earn your trust so that you can start to let go again. The dance of giving and revoking freedoms will continue through high school to the point of both you and your child being ready to launch into college and adulthood. A whole other level of parent/child relationship change.