Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Look Back and Move Forward

Have you ever felt like, no matter hard you try, you're not getting anywhere?
That's where I've been lately.
It seems that no matter how much I do, I fall farther behind.

And I'm missing the here and now because I'm fretting about what needs to get done.

Last month our thirteen-year-old grandson was out of school for two weeks with a fractured knee. After a week and a half on heavy painkillers, he finally felt well enough to do some schoolwork.

My husband brought home the books, worksheets, and report packets from each of our grandson's classes. We piled them in a towering stack next to his chair. His eyes bugged out. "That's Homework Mountain. How am I supposed to do it all?" he asked.

I told him, "Don't worry about doing everything. Just pick one subject and work on it when you feel up to it."
He heaved a sigh and grabbed his science book.
An hour later he put the book and completed worksheet packet on the opposite side of Homework Mountain. "One down, ten to go," he muttered.

But after resting he picked up another book. This time it only took twenty minutes to finish. He plopped his work on the finished pile and crowed, "Oh, yeah!"

For the next two days he chipped away at Homework Mountain. He'd glance at it, then look over at the work he'd done. 
He called me over each time he completed a subject so we could celebrate. Soon the pile of finished reports and worksheets reigned in middle-school splendor.

He said, "Hey Grandma, I kept looking at what I needed to do, then looked at what I'd already done. And I finished two weeks of work in two days!"

Sometimes we need to look back to see how far we've progressed. decided to take a cue from my grandson.

I've been beating myself up for not writing more. But when I looked back over the past few months, I see progress.

My stories are in three of the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Another story is coming out in LIVE magazine, as well as an article at Inspiration Ministries.

Instead of focusing on "I'm so Far Behind Mountain," I'm determined to look at accomplishments, no matter how small they seem, and give God the glory for it all.

How about you? Where do you see forward momentum in your life? What will you celebrate?

Even if we don't feel we've accomplished much, the bible offers this encouragement from Zechariah chapter four:

"Do not despise these small beginnings..."

After all, even a baby step forward moves us in the right direction.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

TV, My Sweet Nemesis

Oh, my sweet, sweet nemesis--television.

In March 2014 I publicly admitted my weakness. I'd created a late-night TV and junk food comfort zone. "Comfort zone" sound much better than "addiction," right? 

I thought I'd conquered television's dreamy pull, but recent late-night reruns lured me back in.
Shows from the past half century unfold before my delighted (and slightly glazed) eyes.

The Twilight Zone. Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Perry Mason. The Rifleman . . .

Midnight finds me ransacking the fridge like a rabid wolverine. After stuffing my face I fall asleep to the TV's lulling drone.
The next day I wake bloated, groggy, and kicking myself for making such a foolish choice. 
Last night I prayed for help. Instead of a sudden disdain for chocolate or a potato chip aversion, the Lord reminded me of Galatians 5:22-23
One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control.
God had already given it to me, but I needed to exercise it.

Late night TV offers a slew of workout DVD's promising to strengthen my abs and glutes. Unfortunately, none for exercising self-control.
So I prayed, "OK, Lord, I need strength to exercise my self-control." Soon after I came across this passage,

"As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength."
Psalm 138:3 NLT
And He did. Last night I snuggled in bed instead of the recliner, and held a book in place of a remote.

You might be saying, "TV addiction? Seriously? That's nothing compared to what I'm facing."
Fair enough. So what are you struggling with today?
  • Drinking?
  • Smoking?
  • Drugs?
  • Pornography?
  • Stealing?
  • Eating disorder?

The list is almost endless, but no matter what we battle, the bible offers good news.

"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure."
 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

photo courtesy khunaspix

No matter what you're struggling with, it's not bigger than God. He's an ever-present help in time of trouble.

Bring your situation to Him.
Dig into the bible to find answers to your issue.
Be accountable to trustworthy people.
Be honest with yourself.

And I'll do the same with the TV/late-night food obsession. The trail of Nacho Cheese Doritos would give me away anyhow.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Alleviate Christmas Pressure

Does preparing for Christmas resemble a Hallmark movie or a horror flick?

Years ago a TV commercial showed a frantic woman scrambling to simultaneously deal with a ringing phone, screaming children, barking dog, and a delivery person at her door.    

Finally in desperation she throws her hands up and cries, "Calgon, take me away!" Immediately she's luxuriating in her bathroom tub, discreetly covered in Calgon bubbles from the neck down.

Evidently, behind the scenes in Happy Commercial Land, the dog stops barking to answer the phone, the delivery person baby-sits the children, and Betty Crocker and the Keebler Elves get dinner under control.

How about you? Do you feel overwhelmed? Could you use a Calgon moment? I'm pretty sure the Fed-Ex man and Marie Callender won't show up to help any time soon, but there's some good news.

There's a God who loves you. He wants to help you.
Here's what He says:

           "And call for help when you’re in trouble—
               I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.” Psalm 50:15 The Message

We can go nuts with Christmas tasks: shopping, baking, cleaning ... Or we can focus on Jesus, who truly is the reason for celebrating Christmas.  

"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 NLT

So when Christmas preparations start to bury us under a multi-tasking avalanche, we don't have to crumble under it. Let's call to God for help. He's available 24/7.
Betty Crocker and the Keebler Elves are already busy in my kitchen.

Photos courtesy of stockimages @

Monday, November 20, 2017

#1 Way to Beat Thanksgiving Blues

Does Thanksgiving at your home resemble a Better Homes and Gardens feast? Maybe, like us, it's closer to a Duck Dynasty free-for-all.

Thanksgiving turkey on platter
Courtesy of

Each Thanksgiving my husband, Jake, and I host an open house for people who'd spend the holiday alone.
One year we broke tradition and had a hot dog grill-out in the back yard. (Yeah! Thankful for fewer dishes to wash.)

Frigid Nebraska temperatures prompted us back inside the following year. (Yeah! Thankful for heat.)

Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Day proclamation read, "They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God..."

Maybe this holiday it's hard to see God's gifts. Perhaps you're grieving the loss of loved ones, or struggling with illness. Maybe you feel alone.

If sorrow overshadows thankfulness, here's some great news.

You can have a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

He'll never leave you. He'll never forsake you. Hebrews 13:5

His name is Jesus.

If you're lonely, hurting, or discouraged, this 2 minute video
could transform your life.

joyful man with headphones
Courtesy of

Wouldn't that bring a true day of thanksgiving?

By the way, if you drop your beautifully roasted turkey, rinse it off and carry on. It'll make a great story for next Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Oh, Mercy!

A while back my husband, Jake, bought 2 dozen feeder goldfish for his afternoon of fishing. But some were too cute to become bait, so I begged, "Please let me keep them as pets."

courtesy of digitalart
Those three, named Faith, Hope, and Love, remained. My long-suffering fisherman hubby even bought them an upscale aquarium plant for their tank. A nice one, not the cheap plastic kind I would have picked up.

The other goldfish became bait,
but we showed these three mercy.

Fast forward two years. Jake trapped a possum, which we cooked and ate as related in a previous blog. Seriously. (Click here if you don't believe me.)

Side note:  Anytime people eat something unusual they say it tastes like chicken.       "Rattlesnake? Tastes like chicken"
"Ostrich? Tastes like chicken."
"Possum? It tastes like a collision of ham and chicken."
             It's delicious...once you look past the fur and feet.

Courtesy of jiggoja@
Enter possum #2. This little guy wound up stuck in the cage without food or water for a day. Jake looked at its sad little face and fed it a McDonald's hamburger.

Disclaimer: Fast food in not part of an optimal diet for possums. Or humans.

Nevertheless, Jake not only fed and watered it, he released it. "Jethro" the possum ambled away, safe from the stew pot.

 Possum one became dinner.
Possum two received mercy.

    courtesy of iosphere
Think about God's great mercy. Unlike us, He holds out mercy to all. He doesn't grab anyone and say, "OK, you're bait. I'm dumping you in the river to catch something better."

He never decides, "Hmm, you're not appealing enough. Into the oven with you."

courtesy of iosphere
God always extends his mercy to us.
He always gives us another chance.

"The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT
 courtesy of Sura Nualpradid
 Have you seen God's mercy at work in your life? It's new every morning, special for you.

courtesy of KEKO64
Since God has shown me so much mercy, I'm heading out to extend some right now. Jethro the possum is asking for his McDouble and fries.

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.