Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tornadoes and Trees and Inner Storms

Two tornadoes swept through our Bellevue, Ne community last month, two days before Father's Day. The aftermath made our neighborhoods resemble a war zone. Collapsed roofs, siding torn from houses, streets blocked with tree limbs and debris.

Children's bedroom in neighboring subdivision
Branches snapped off the three giant cottonwoods in our backyard, wreaking havoc on our neighbors' properties.

One of our smaller downed cottonwood limbs crumpled the neighbor's fence.

One huge limb smashed a hole into the backside of our next door neighbor's roof, punched another in the front of it, then crashed down lengthwise across his boat and Jeep.
Enormous branches filled the other neighbors yards.

Damage to our home? Zero. Nada. None.

My husband surveyed the neighbors' wreckage and shook his head. "Our trees need to go."

He'd been saying that about my beloved cottonwoods ever since we moved into our home eleven years earlier.

Day one of tree trimming. (Jake bought home 3 Symphony bars to sedate me.)

 Even though I love basking in their shade, I also know those trees are old, shallow-rooted, and potentially dangerous.

Looking at them made me wonder what other potentially dangerous things I cling to.

  • Grumbling at my family?
  • Complaining about slow drivers blocking my path?
  • Grousing when things don't go smoothly enough to suit me?

Those things don't seem dangerous compared to a rampaging twister, but
  • Murmuring and complaining keeps me focused on negative thoughts. 
  • It causes storms to develop in my heart and mind. 
  • My bad attitude affects others.

Who wants to be around a grouch who's thundering about, squalling if she doesn't get her way?

The bible says,

"Do everything without complaining and arguing," Philippians 2:14

"...Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many." Hebrews 12:15 

When inner gales are gusting, I use a praise break like this one to tame the tempest.

Psalm 100
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Focusing on God's love and faithfulness calms my internal storms. How about you? 
What settles you when the tempests are raging?

Click on the links below to see photos of the twister's aftermath. By God's faithfulness, not one person was injured by the tornadoes. storm pics storm photos

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Jeanie's Three Quick Tips

Each month I share three quick tips in my free monthly newsletter.
  1. To get organized
  2. To simplify
  3. To save money
Here's an excerpt from my July newsletter.

Happy Independence Day!

Jeanie's Three Quick Tips

Tip 1: Organize

Shh. I'm about to share the super top-secret tip to getting organized:
Get rid of what you don't need.

Last month author, editor, and all-around good guy Lee Warren hosted a 300 items in 30 days declutter challenge.
If releasing 300 items sounds overwhelming, think of all the old paperwork, unidentifiable blurred photos, and multi-piece toy sets cluttering your space.
To motivate yourself, count a pack of cards as 52 items. Plus jokers.

Click here to see what Lee's participants are selling, donating, and tossing out.

I pulled this photo from a Craigslist ad. The homeowner became fed up with the toy overflow, and posted them for free to the first person who'd pick them up. Literally.

So if your house is overstuffed with stuff, take that important first decluttering step---preferably without crud crunching underfoot.

Tip 2: Simplify

Grounding is beneficial. No, not the type that sends your teenager stomping off to their room.
Grounding, or earthing, is simple, free, and just might improve your health.
The Wellness Mama website offers an interesting
article about the benefits of grounding, including better sleep and reduced inflammation.

Science folks,
click here to read how the ground's free electrons enter the body, equilibrate with the electrical potential of the Earth, and stabilize the electrical environment of organs, tissues, and cells.

Everybody else, go outside barefoot for 15 minutes and see how much better you feel. Unless you step on fire ants, venomous snakes, or rampaging mutant iguanas.

Tip 3: Save Money

Knowing the difference between "Best by" "Sell by" and "Use by" dates can save you money on your grocery bill.
Allstate's newsletter offers a
quick guide to those sometimes confusing labels.

My husband, Jake, eats meat that's so old Methuselah might have grilled it. This photo shows the expression he wears when I tell him I'm throwing out the three-week-old hot dogs fermenting in the back of the fridge.

Where do you push the borders on food safety? Click here to share.

If you'd like to receive my free monthly newsletter, click here to sign up. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Foundation Stone Mothers

Happy Mother's Day to all our beautifully seasoned mothers, those polished gems with decades of wisdom and experience.
Those precious mamas who laid strong foundations in our homes, and our lives.
Those mothers remind me of how Revelation chapter 21 describes the New Jerusalem and its foundations. Verses 19-20 describe twelve precious stones inset in the foundation’s walls.
Stones like sapphire, emerald, ruby, topaz, and turquoise.

In the same way that those stones beautified the city’s foundations, our mothers beautified our lives by laying “foundation stones” for us.

Foundation stones of love, wisdom, perseverance, patience, courage, fortitude, steadfastness, compassion, diligence, self-sacrifice.

Ladies, your generation did it all without the help of modern technology. You had wringer washing machines and outdoor clotheslines.

No microwaves. No cell phones to call for take-out. No dishwashers . . . unless you counted your children.

You sacrificed your time, energy, and resources to instill values and principles into your children. You worked diligently to make a home, doing the best you could with the knowledge and resources available to you.

My mother, Barbra Sousa, exemplifies some of the best characteristics of the mothers of this generation.

When I was a child in the 1970’s, a horrific stomach flu epidemic swept through our South Omaha community. My three toddler brothers and I all fell ill. Our home looked like triage center. 

Mom went from child to child, emptying buckets, changing soiled sheets, wiping our faces with cold washcloths. After days of this endless cycle, Mom fell ill herself. Dad was the sole breadwinner at the time, and because the flu was so pervasive, Mom was on her own. 
Horribly ill, she crawled from bed to bed to care for us. She’d stop to vomit, then crawl to the next child to tend to our needs. 
Mom used every foundation stone in her arsenal.
She gave her all to do the best she could for her children.

And ladies, so did you.

So a massive, “thank you” to my mom, and to all of you wisdom-filled, polished gem mothers who laid a strong foundation for us to build upon. 

"When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness....
Her children stand and bless her.
Proverbs 31: 26-28

Friday, April 14, 2017

Love, Loss, and Victory

My husband, Jake, looked at our kitchen clock and said, "It's 5:30. The closing must be done by now."

"The closing" seemed to reference more than the sale of his late parents' house, the home Jake and his siblings had grown up in.

Earlier that day, Jake had walked through the house for the last time.
Instead of family racket, only the faint echo of his boots sounded on the bare wooden floor.
Empty closets.
Empty rooms.
An empty space. 

It held no trace of his parents, or the family they'd raised there.
Jake left the keys, and walked away.

Did Jesus followers feel that emptiness when he was condemned to die?

For three years they'd followed him--the preacher, the prophet, the healer, their friend.
With Jesus' death, emptiness seeped in.
Empty hearts.
Empty dreams.
Empty hopes left at a blood-stained cross.

photo courtesy of

But victory came three days later.
Jesus rose from the dead.
He left an empty tomb.

That empty grave equaled victory, not only for them, but for us as well.

Jesus rose to fill our emptiness;
to give us victory in place of despair.

Instead of an empty life, Jesus offers us a new life filled with his love.
And it's available to anyone who'll accept it.

New love.
New life.
New beginnings.

If you're tired of the emptiness,
If you want a fresh start, 
If you need a new beginning,
Pray this simple prayer,

"Jesus, please forgive my sins, and be my savior."

 Giving your life to Jesus is the start of your new life.
A life of hope.
A life of love.
A life of victory. 

If you want to know more before taking that life-changing step, please go to Billy Graham's "Find Peace with God" website.

If you've just prayed that prayer, please let me know. We'll celebrate your new life, and your new victory!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Pi Day

Happy Pi Day to all the math whiz kids out there.

According to the Pi Day official website
(No, I'm not making that site up)

"Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159."

(Stay awake, non -math people, because the Pi folks gleefully add: 

"Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point...
Pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits."

I don't think the Pi folks are pulling our legs. They're that giddy over Pi.

In our home we're giddy over pie. Yep, pi with an "e" on the end.

This year we celebrated Pi Day with our 2nd annual Pi Day Pie Eating Contest.

And for the 2nd year in a row, my grandson wiped the floor with me.
His pie eating skills are a family phenomenon.

So go out and celebrate Pi as the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle.
Or bag a bargain on pies--fruit, pizza, and so forth.

This is the day the Lord has made.We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 NLT

Hopefully with pie.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Virus Varmint Gang

The dreaded winter cold/flu/crud season stampeded into town in all its germ-ridden glory.
Is your family battling those nasty outlaws, the Virus Varmint gang?

Yeah, us too.

Normally we escape its mucus-filled clutches. But for the past several weeks my husband has dragged about like a cowboy finishing a five hundred mile cattle drive.

Not to be outdone, our grandson rounded-up a case of Pink Eye to add to the bunkhouse.

Thankfully we haven't encountered stomach flu. Our grandson's non-stop grazing bears testimony to that.

(Disclaimer: Not an actual photo of my husband and grandson)

My husband is difficult to corral.
He "helps" me by fixing his own snacks and drinks.
Any by "helps" I mean he leaves a trail of germs on everything he touches.

I trail after him with my posse of cleaning products to
  • Disinfect the counters
  • Disinfect the refrigerator and its contents
  • Disinfect the stove, sink, table, etc.

 Right about here in the post I'd normally put in some great tips.

Maybe about illness prevention, like frequent hand washing.

Or "Change patient's pillowcases and bedding daily when dealing with Pink Eye."

But let's be honest Cowpoke, you probably already know them.

So instead I'm moseying to the basement to tackle our twenty fifth load of laundry this week.
Photo courtesy of Stuart
Am I complaining? (It sure sounds like it.)
Here are a few things I'm thanking God for:

I don't have to tote the laundry down the the river and beat it clean on rocks.

The illness is passing.
We have medications.
I'm well, and can care for my family.

So Pardners, if you're standing off the Crud Critters, keep fighting. And thank the Lord for disinfectants.

Here are some great scriptures about healing.

photo courtesy

  • Acts 5:16 "Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed."
  • Romans 8:11 "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal (Natural, Earthly) bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."  

  • Mark 16:17-18 "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
  • Jeremiah 30:17 "For I will restore health unto you, and I will heal you of your wounds, saith the Lord."
  • Psalm 103:2-5 "Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction,Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies,Who satisfies your mouth with good  things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s."