Three Squeezes and Snooks

Daddy and Me photo

I’ve been wanting to write this blog for a while. But, the words seem all jumbled up in my head. The thoughts are there, but they are foggy—or distant—I can’t quite see how to put it all together. So, I decided to just start writing and see where I end up. Hopefully I will put down something with some meaning or purpose.

I am a preacher’s kid. I was born that way. God thought I needed a pastor for a dad, or he thought my dad needed me. Not sure which. Maybe both. I had a very happy childhood. Honestly, I have nothing but happy memories from my little girl days. One of these days, I’ll write about my mom. But, today, I want to talk about my daddy.

There are lots of pictures of me as a toddler and a preschooler with my dad. Of course, I’m too young to remember those moments, but each picture tells a story. My dad is looking at me and I can tell that he is busting buttons over me—his blonde haired, green eyed daughter. His eyes are all crinkled and sparkly. His smile is ear to ear. Yah. He loved me. A lot. No question. Hands down.

My first real memory of time with my dad comes from our days living on a college campus when I was about four. Specifically, I remember a dark summer night, walking hand in hand with my dad staring up at the stars twinkling down on us. It was utter delight. I was safe. I was happy. I was content.

When I was a little older, and he was pastoring a church, we were able to spend quite a bit of time together. You know. It was the little things that made me feel special. For instance, one summer I had gone away to stay with my cousins. When I returned, my parents had remodeled my bedroom. I can still remember my dad saying he picked out yellow carpeting because it reminded him of the sunshine, just like I did. Awwwwww. RIGHT?

Back in the day, churches ran off their own bulletins on the mimeograph (I think that’s what it was). I loved it when I could go to the church and help my dad assemble the bulletins. We would lay stacks of each page out on the altars and then put them together, assembly line style. I would go around and around in circles putting them together while dad worked in the sanctuary preparing for Sunday. He would walk around whistling. Oh. His whistle. It isn’t just a whistle. It whirls and twirls and hangs in the air. It’s a beautiful sound that can’t really be explained. And—it comforted me.

We also made trips to the bank together. And, a trip to the bank usually included a sucker and maybe even lunch with my daddy.

My dad didn’t care for pets. Yet, one day he showed up at our house with a bundle of gray fur—a kitten—just for me. Because he loved me more than he hated pets. <3

Daddy has a nickname for me. He still uses it today. I have no idea where it came from. But, it’s mine. Snooks. And, when he calls me Snooks, well, I feel extra special…even now.

Oh. And. There is the Three Squeezes. My dad gave me three squeezes when I was a little girl. Every time he held my hand he would squeeze three times. Each squeeze represented a word. I. Love. You. He could tell me he loved me no matter where we were or who was around without speaking a word. It’s something I have passed on to my husband and to my children. But, first it belonged to my daddy and me.

I’m not going to lie. We certainly went through our rough times…those terrible teen years. We survived, however, and for today, we are not going to visit that time.

Did I ever get into trouble as a little girl? Yes. I got spankings (although I really only remember one) and I was scolded. But, I remember the happy times. I remember the safety and security he gave me. He loved me unconditionally. No matter what. I think it’s because of my father’s love that I never had a hard time grasping God’s love for me. I never questioned if God loved me or how God could love me. I never saw God as a mean being sitting in Heaven waiting to punish me. Not as a little girl. Because of the example my father gave me, I was able to see a loving Heavenly Father.

But, that isn’t true of everyone, is it? Some of you may have never known your dad. Or maybe your dad was abusive. Maybe your dad was around, but ignored you and didn’t seem to care about you. Perhaps you felt you could never please your dad. Or, maybe you saw your dad one way only to have him disappoint you later in life, leaving you questioning everything you thought you knew.

All of these things can cloud a person’s perception of who God is. It’s hard to imagine Him as a loving doting daddy if you have no concept of what that is. And, yet, that is who God says he is.  I wonder what the world would be like if we could all grasp that God wants us to be like little children—in love with their Father. Trusting Him completely and totally–see His total and unconditional love for us. We don’t have to prove anything to Him, because He already loves us.


Romans 8:15 (MSG) This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance!

Deuteronomy 32:10b The Voice  He put His arms around him and took care of him; He protected him as the apple of His eye.

Psalm 68:5a (TLB) He is a father to the fatherless;

Matthew 6:26 (TLB) Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat—they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food—for your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are.

Romans 8:15 (AMP) For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!

1 John 3:1 (VOICE) Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children.

Thoughts by Lexi (Deep, deep Thoughts)

Yesterday I was having a conversation with Lexi. She often pushes me to think more deeply than I care to and yesterday was one of those days. :)  (Love her) I asked her if she would like to be a guest blogger and share her thoughts with all of you. She is an amazing young lady and I know God is preparing her for a future full of purpose.


I’m currently enrolled in a course titled School and Society, and it has unexpectedly been the most perplexing and invigorating academic experiences of my life. I have just completed my third book of the semester, Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. He discusses the modes of communication and how they have affected our culture. He starts with the typographic mind, follows with the photographic and telegraphic mind, and ends with the mind and society shaped by television. I have underlined many of his thoughts, but the following passage from his concluding chapter has captivated me:

“…Spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate…there is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture death is a clear possibility”(155).

He isn’t talking about spiritual devastation and death on the Christian platform, but he might as well be. We, as a society, are happily distracted every day but trivial things. Postman is mainly referring to his discussion on television, though, it can be expanded to many other things: social media, friends (that we keep simply for amusement, not to sharpen us), video games, Pinterest, etc. The Devil has been very smart to not force us away from God, but instead, he’s made it easy for us to walk away ignorantly and blissfully. He does not want to lock us up in a cage where we will inevitably yearn for God.

I so often associate the Devil with troubles: divorce, relationship troubles, death and sickness. But, by doing this I am completely underestimating his wit and deceitfulness. He would never want to do something that would bring me closer to God. Although, Amusing Ourselves to Death is not a Christian book, it has really opened my eyes to see what Satan has been doing and how he’s been tearing God away from a society. I would say tearing a society away from God, but society is too happy with the world to be “torn away”. The author says the solution, (although the term solution is too heavy, because the true solution cannot be found in the world and culture today) is found in how we watch and see the world. He says, “For no medium is excessively dangerous if its users understand what its dangers are”(161). If we watch TV (or participate in the other things similar to it), and ask questions, the spell of ignorance will be broken: What’s the purpose of this? How is it helping me? Is it trying to persuade me? Is this facilitating thinking? It is leading me astray from the more important things in life (God)? Our solution is found in the lens of God (he doesn’t say that, my thoughts have led me to that conclusion which is subject to review). Television and the other amusement are not evil; it is how they are used that makes them so. After a long day after work, it is not television, video games, or Pinterest that will relax us, it’s only God who can shower us with peace.

Postman earlier says, “I believe I am not mistaken in saying that Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether”(121). Christians cannot be mindless and succumb to being spoon-fed their faith. If we are ignorant about what we believe, we will be easily led astray. If our faith is strong and we have proved it to ourselves through critical thought, it is not easy to let that go. God wants us to live in wisdom and not of ignorance; and wisdom must be gained.

Proverbs 4:6-7 “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

2 Corinthians 11:3 “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:9-11 “ Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”

My name is Lexi Bryan! I am currently a 19-year-old sophomore at Missouri State University studying secondary education with an emphasis in history. My parents, though separate, have each influenced me with their passions of learning and truth seeking. They have always put importance on my individual journey and growth, opening endless opportunities in my young adult life. When I was 8, they graciously allowed me to attend Kanakuk, a Christian athletics camp that completely submerged me in the love of Christ. My intense passions include education, learning, history, dogs, traveling, people, and of course, the love of Christ.

Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York: Viking, 1985. Print.

Hello! I’m Lisa

Recently, I wrote a blog for Destination Amish. I was asked to be a regular contributor for them, so I thought I’d better start by introducing myself. The though struck me that I’ve never really done that here (introduce myself). So, here you go!

“I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce myself.

So—Hello! I’m Lisa! :)

I’m not Amish. I have never been Amish. I’ve never lived with the Amish. I do have friends who were once Amish, lived with the Amish, and who work with the Amish. But, since their experiences don’t give me any authority on the subject, you will never see me write about—the Amish.

I come from a family of ministers-men and women-on both sides of my dad’s family and at least one side of my mom’s family. My father is a minister, so I am one of those “preacher’s kids”. And, I was a pretty typical one. Dad’s “job” moved us around a lot. We moved from OH to PA to CA (Los Angeles) to MO all in three years’ time. That time happened to be middle school which is not an ideal age for change in a hormonal girl’s life.”

Read the rest of the story here:

http://destinationamish.com/hello-im-lisa/

Meet my Friend, Lue!

Looking in the Rearview Mirror

Today I invited Lue Shetler from Looking in my Rear View Mirror to sit down and chat with me. I hope you enjoy our talk. Be sure to leave lots of questions for Lue in my comments section!


Lisa: Lue! Why don’t you tell everyone how we “met” each other.
     Lue: First of all, thank you for having me here today. How much fun this is! I hope to meet some of your friends and get to know them as well. Now, to answer your question, there is this group called the Whoopie Pie Book Club on Facebook. You commented on a few of my links I had shared and it seemed like we became fast and furious friends after that. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and your funny yet caring disposition.

Lisa: Did you just a call me, “funny”? I’ll take that as a compliment. :) You were born into an Amish family. What is your funniest memory as a little girl?
     Lue: Well, let’s see. My brother and I spent a lot of time at my maternal grandparent’s house in the Summer. My uncle and his family lived there as well and his youngest daughter and I were the same age and got into trouble from time to time. The funniest memory I have stems from one of those visits. One day it rained and my cousin, Esta, and I, roughly four or five years old, decided we would go play in the mud puddles in the rugged and pot-hole filled lane going back to the big chicken houses on the farm. The puddles were huge and muddy and we were a little constrained with our long skirts on our dresses so we got innovative and tucked our skirts in our panties and we played to our heart’s content….until…..our grandmother found us out. Oh my goodness, she had a conniption, she stood there in the yard with her hands on her hips and yelled at us to get out of the mud and then made us come in the basement laundry room and she took the hose and a very bristly broom and washed us off, all the while scolding us for getting muddy and having our skirts tucked in our panties. I can still feel the bristles of that broom whisking over my skin. Whew! She was one hot grandma that day and we were not her favorite granddaughters for sure. It cracks me up today, but at that time it was not funny.

Lisa: Oh my goodness! That is such a cute story! Is Lue your real name or is it short for something?
     Lue: It is short for Luella. I shortened it when I began my career. The reason being that when you have to introduce yourself with a three syllable name folks tend to want to know the spelling, tell me how much they like it or that it sounds like something else and on and on. I love the short, one syllable and almost no need for explanations kind of name. Some folks can’t get used to the Lue spelling versus the more common Lou spelling. I don’t have an “o” in my name, so I don’t use it. I wish I had started writing it “Lu” though. Just because.

Lisa: If you could have picked your own name, what would it have been?
     Lue: Ellie. It is also a version of part of my real name and in some ways I wish I would have started using it rather than Lue.

Lisa: Ellie is sweet. But, Lue makes you more original, I think. What would you say you miss most about the Amish?
     Lue: Nothing. ha ha..that was quick! Well, to be more honest, I like the idea of being a stay at home wife. I miss being home. But to be even more honest, having a career helped save my life. I have lived a life of depression and having to get up and keep a routine has been one tool that has been helpful for me to keep the depression at bay.

Lisa: I can relate to that. So, what would you say you miss the least about the Amish?
    Lue: The rules and rituals of the church. I’ve come to understand that I have to have a relationship with God to know what His rules are versus obeying the often legalistic rules of the Amish church. When we left the Amish a former Amish couple mentored us and they encouraged us to “forget all we had learned from the Amish and start over using the Bible as our guideline.” It was difficult to learn how to do this without feeling intense guilt because guilt and shame were how we had learned to gauge right from wrong on many levels.Once we understood God’s love, grace and mercy for us it lent us much freedom and we have never looked back.

Lisa: What is one thing about you most people would never guess?
     Lue: Deep inside I am a perfectionist and there was a time in my life when I wouldn’t leave my home without every dish being in place, every pillow fluffed and bathroom sinks spotless. I’ve come a long way from those days. There is still a part of me that despises when I can’t do things “right.” If I have to give my home a “lick and a promise” kind of cleaning it doesn’t sit well with my soul and I would prefer not to clean at all and wait until I can do it “right.” I struggle with this when it comes to writing as well. I hate to stop mid-chapter and go to bed and have to pick up the next night or time I have a free moment. I’ve not figured out how to master this issue thus far.

 
Lisa: That leads me to my next question. You like to write. Is there anything we can look forward to in the future?
     Lue: Yes, I hope so. I am currently writing a biography. My Amish friend, Elizabeth, has quite a layered story and she has been so open and vulnerable and has been telling me her story. We are digging in, talking about some hard things, remembering things, and laughing a lot. We both have full time jobs and so it is slow going. I don’t have a book deal or a dead line so when the manuscript is finished I hope to shop it around, possibly find an agent who can advise me and help me get it in with a good publisher. Honestly, I don’t know the first thing about all that and keep praying and hoping that once it is finished that God will have prepared a path for me to follow to get it published. Life is an adventure every day. Whatever God’s will is and in his timing I believe things will happen as they should.

Lisa: Tell us about your blog and Facebook page. I love the name of it, by the way.
     Lue: Well, thank you my friend. The title, “Looking in My Rear View Mirror” seemed appropriate for me to use because so often when I look into my rear view mirror I see shadows of my past. An Amish buggy, an Amish walker, an Amish farm, and on and on. The title also symbolizes that I have moved forward in my life and that the Amish lifestyle is behind me. If you click on the link and look at the header I chose you will see both of those symbolism’s.
My website showcases two of my loves. 1. A blog for my words and 2. A gallery to showcase my favorite photos. I love business and I love Amish Country and so I feature local businesses and artisans and my own experiences on my blog. I invite anybody reading this to stop by and see what it is all about. I do regret to have to add that I absent-minded-ly deleted some of my photos and now a few of my blog posts are devoid of photos. One day I will have to fix that. Made me sick when I figured that out. Sigh.
Website: http://lookinginmyrearviewmirror.com/  I update as I am inspired, so you won’t get something every day or even every week, but there are some good articles there if you are interested in the Amish or Amish Country, Ohio and my life experiences.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LookingInMyRearviewMirror  I usually put something on my page about once a day. Lately I’ve been sharing a lot of videos because that is what gets the most activity over there. I don’t understand why, but it is what it is.
Facebook – Personal Wall: https://www.facebook.com/lue.shetler  This is my personal Facebook link and I am all “chatty” on my wall. I share things like my “Muddy Lane Saga” with my Amish friend or post a selfie of myself making those “duck lips.” I just like to have fun sometimes and always try to be positive because we have so much negativity out there in social media land. Folks seem to want to connect more with me on my wall than on my page, so that is what I am giving them. If you would like to be friends and be a part of the fun, send me a request. Would love to be your friend too.
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lues/  I have a few boards where I only pin things that are my own creations. My words, my photos.
Instagram: https://instagram.com/lookinginmyrearviewmirror/  I love instagram. I post photos there as well.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LueAmishMirror  This is my least favorite social media vehicle and I’ve not figured it out and I almost never post there or even go there. But, I HAVE an account! lol (Makes me feel so important….kidding!!)

Lisa: Okay. Some fun facts. What is your favorite snack?
     Lue: Kettle corn or cheese, depending on my mood, or a chocolate bar, wait a minute, it could be an apple and peanut butter too. Gah! I can’t choose. It depends on my mood.

Lisa: Coffee or tea?
     Lue: I love the smell and taste of coffee, but it doesn’t make me feel good, so I drink more tea (no sugar) than coffee.

Lisa: Cake or cookies? (pretend we’re not on diets)
     Lue: Cake. My favorite dessert to make and eat. Coconut cake…yum!

Lisa: Um. I. Love. Coconut cake. Favorite movie?
     Lue: She-Devil only because that woman was a survivor and she did it in a way that was comical yet effective. Pretty Woman is a close second, but She-Devil wins as favorite for the reasons cited.

Lisa: Favorite book genre?
     Lue: Not sure if I have a favorite. I do enjoy a good autobiography or biography. But then I can also while the day away in a historical romance novel.

Lisa: Summer or winter?
     Lue: Summer. Don’t even get me started on Winter.

Lisa: What country would you most like to visit?
     Lue: Italy. I want to see the Tuscan sun.

Lisa: What would your dream job be?
     Lue: Full time writer and paid freelance photographer.

Lisa: Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time visit with me. I wanted to share you with all of my friends. You are such a special person. I hope everyone will stop by to read your stories and view your pictures. Most of all, thank you for our friendship! <3

In the Grumpy Groggy Times

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Through the cobwebs and grogginess in my head I hear the chime on my phone playing “Good Morning”. While the little song is somewhat cheery, that is the last thing I feel when it goes off. My hand searches for the phone. Finding it, my eyes try to locate the “dismiss” button. The light from the phone is overwhelming so I close my eyes and barely squint through one eye attempting to turn it off.

By this time, my husband is completely frustrated and growls, “You still don’t know how to turn that off?” I wisely ignore the comment, press the button and drop my phone. At this point, the puppy is scratching at the bed ready to go out. I plop my head, face down, into my pillow and wish it was all a dream. 

Adulthood. Motherhood. Jobs. Responsibilities. Relationships. Many mornings as I reluctantly pull myself out of bed I wonder, “Is this really all there is to life? I don’t want to be an adult today. 

Been there? 

Little girls can’t wait to be teenagers.

Teenagers can’t wait to be adults.

They dream of their perfect job with the perfect salary and the perfect husband and perfect children. They will live in the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood and drive the perfect car. They will be perfectly happy all the time and life will be—PERFECT.

Nope.

It is highly unlikely any of them will have lives that even come close to resembling perfection.  Why? Because LIFE happens. Life—reality.  A job with conflict that pays too little. Layoffs. A husband who eats too much or watches too much TV…or maybe he isn’t romantic enough or doesn’t pay enough attention. The kids are constantly sick, they don’t sleep enough, they are sloppy, and always need something. Someone else always has a bigger fancier home. The neighbors are continuously upset about something and the car keeps breaking down.

Ahhhh—This is life—REAL LIFE. 

— Back to my morning. It’s at these times…the grumpy groggy times…that I have to remind myself that life isn’t about me. It isn’t about my job and whether or not I like it. It’s not about having to get up when I’d rather sleep. It’s about Christ. What can I do for Him today? Who might need a word of encouragement from me? I need to remember to appreciate the man God gave to me—as a gift.  My children are a blessing, not a chore, and I am so lucky to have them.

Our society tells us that we should focus on ourselves—our desires, our wants, our happiness. But, the more I get into the Word, the more I find that kind of thinking is contrary to God’s heart.  Frankly, if we’d quit seeking our own happiness, we would likely find ourselves much happier.

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. –Colossians 3:1-2 MSG

Just Me–and Seven Billion Others

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Psalm 139:17-18 TLB How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!


This verse made me think. I’m not sure how many people live on this planet at this moment. From a quick search, it looks like there are approximately seven billion people alive today.

Seven BILLION.

And, as I slept, God was thinking about ME. That is amazing. It’s mind-boggling, actually.

God thinks about me countless times a day.

Me.

Lisa: just a regular person taking care of her family, going to work each day, paying bills, cleaning house…normal ordinary me. The God of 7 BILLION people has the time to look after and THINK ABOUT me.

WOW!

You know what? He does the same for you! So, when you feel alone, afraid, exhausted, sick, over-whelmed; whatever it is that you are feeling or dealing with: GOD IS THINKING ABOUT YOU!

Not to Be a Wimp

Recently I had a friend use the word “courageous” to describe me. I had to laugh. If there is anything I am not, it’s courageous.

I am a complete wimp! I avoid confrontation at all costs.  I’m the one that does NOT ride roller coasters…zip line…sing in public…eat at a restaurant alone…get the picture?

She said what she was referring to was a willingness to step out and follow God’s leading. THAT I will do.

I was raised to believe that if you follow God’s leading, your life will bring you peace. It may not be easy, but you can have peace knowing you are in the will of your Father. On the other hand, I was raised that ignoring God’s voice will bring discomfort, unhappiness, and distress.

She also told me that there are two types of courageous people: those that are courageous going into a situation, and those that find themselves in the midst of a situation and find courage in that place.

We all have different personalities and different “comfort zones”. God did that on purpose. But, REGARDLESS of what type of person you are, God has called you to be courageous; to stand strong in His will. When He lays something on your heart, follow His lead without fear and without discouragement.

Walk with courage knowing: HE WILL BE WITH YOU!

Joshua 1:9 NIV Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.