Are You Afraid Of What’s Behind The Door?


Karen recently watched all five of Katie’s kids by herself (whew!!!!)  She has no idea how Katie does it.  Karen felt like a mama dog with fourteen hungry pups and only eight nipples.

In the midst of juggling the needs of the kids, Joshua, the youngest boy pleaded with his grandma to wait in the bathroom with him while he did his thing.  Now he has no problem going at his own home without supervision, so she asked why his reluctance to fly solo at our house.

“When I shut the door, there’s a lady looking at me,” was his reply.  Karen shut the door and Joshy pointed to the plaque I have hanging on the wall, behind the open door.  Staring down at him is an early 20th century young woman advertising Coca Cola.  I guess he really values his privacy and doesn’t want anyone observing his business.

Aren’t we all a little like Joshua?  He’s embarrassed to leave the door open, but also afraid to shut the door and expose himself to that creepy Coca Cola lady.  We leave the door to our life open just enough to let others see what we want them to see.  Eventually we shut that door to the outside world and hope no one will find out who we really are.  But behind all our doors is someone far more dangerous than an ill-advised placement of a Coca Cola plaque.

Satan is behind the door you close to the outside world.  He resides in darkness and is behind every evil thought, every evil action and is always all too willing to help you condemn  yourself.   “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:10

God on the other hand never hides behind doors and He doesn’t want you to either.  He carefully and lovingly created you, not for you to hide from Him and others because you make a few mistakes.  God wants you to be real with Him.    King David longed for this kind of relationship with God and wrote about it in Psalm 139: 1-18.

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.  You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with you.”

For now Karen and I are going to leave up the picture of the Coca Cola lady in our guest bathroom.  Karen was able to share truth with him and he felt better.  This situation was just one of many opportunities we will have with our grandchildren to share the love of God.  If you haven’t already, open the door to your heart to God today.  He’s waiting with open arms.



A Summer to Remember

DSC_0425There is something magical about family reunions….especially when nine angelic-faced grandchildren come home for three weeks of getting reacquainted.  My oldest daughter, Katie, her husband Jason and five young kids live in Leesburg, Florida.  Our second daughter Jaymi, her husband Matt and their three children live twenty-minutes from us on Camano Island, Washington.  Our youngest, Michael, his wife Signe and their daughter live in Chandler, Arizona.

For over a year, I ached for this time together.  Every Christmas season, Karen loves to watch all the special holiday movies on the Hallmark channel, and this past season was no different.  The only difference this year was I found myself crying halfway through every sentimental show, while thinking about how much I wished we could all be together for the holidays.

You know how sometimes we look forward to something so much, that when it finally arrives, our expectations were built up so high the actual experience never had a chance to live up to all the hype….this was not one of those times.  This was three weeks of heaven on earth.

Of course bringing four families together, with nine grandchildren ten and under, is like throwing a lamb into the middle of nine playful tiger cubs. Playtime becomes competition time real fast.  Over the course of three weeks we went through three boxes of band aids, filled the ice bag numerous times, kissed many owies, massaged a few bruised egos and I almost resorted to wearing earplugs a few times.

The sweet times though far outnumbered the sour:

  • The Cheshire Cat’s grin was nothing compared to the joy on Jacob’s face as he smashed his first home run over our front yard fence.
  • I was so proud of Logan when he included his little sister Maya in a “boys only” game of basketball.
  • Singing my #1 hit single Papa Loves Hannah to my inconsolable youngest granddaughter and having her fall asleep in my arms.
  • Having my grandkids begging me every night to tell them a new Buster Story, which I had introduced to their Mom’s and Dad years earlier.
  • Making them Swedish pancakes and watching them gorge themselves while giving me the two thumbs up sign and telling me I should open a Papa’s Pancakes restaurant.
  • Pulling my ten-year-old Caleb and five-year-old Jonathan onto my lap and kissing them until tears rolled down their cheeks from laughing.
  • Watching three-year-old Brooklyn gently caress the tight curls of her cousin, Esther.
  • Granting the wish of two-year-old Joshua by letting him vacuum our living room.  (The highlight of his trip)

All these wonderful moments paled in comparison to having the time to strengthen long distance relationships with our grandchildren.  Phone calls work great to stay in touch with our children but not so much with the grandchildren.  Their attention spans are as short as Jonathan’s lizards he catches in Florida.  Skype is better but Katie’s four boys spend all their time jockeying for position to show us their latest toys or reptiles caught that morning.  Esther on the other hand loves to Skype and is a prolific talker.  Her mother, Signe speaks Danish to her which is fantastic but we can never tell if some of her words are in Danish or typical twenty-month-old  jibberish.  (We’re slowly learning some Danish words though)

Let me describe for you, in a sentence or two, some insight into each of our Grandchildren from oldest to youngest:

  • Logan – Papa’s boy.  Always a hug, always a smile, always sports, DSC_0188 (4)always a conversation starting with, “What did you and Ama do yesterday?”
  • Caleb – Our freckle faced leader.  A ferocious competitor, passionate DSC_0188 (3)debater, little sister’s protector, speedy soccer player and Buster Story lover.
  • Jacob – This gentle spirit drifts silently among his cousins.  Never DSC_0628demanding, but demands justice and peace.  Papa’s pancake eating champion.
  • Maya – Compassionate and selfless.  Her smile can light up a room, DSC_0182melt your heart and make you laugh.  Will make some lucky man a great wife someday.
  • Jonathan – The pint sized whirling dervish of constant motion.  Part DSC_0394snake charmer, part magician, part gladiator and 100% little boy.
  • Brooklyn – The little princess (and has a wardrobe to prove it).  Dainty DSC_0205 (2)in size but strong in spirit.  Her beautiful blue eyes are as deep and mysterious as her personality.  Ama’s girl.
  • Joshua – Golden haired little helper.  Loves to vacuum, loves to sit on DSC_0389 (2)Ama’s lap, loves to vacuum, loves to play, loves to vacuum, loves to fetch the baseballs hit by his brothers and cousins.  Oh….did I mention that he loves to vacuum.
  • Esther – Our bi-lingual beauty.  Her many words flow as effortlessly DSC_0212 (2)from her lips as her ebony locks flow around her sweet face.  Loves, loves, loves Molly our Golden Retriever.
  • Hannah – Sweetness in diapers.  Loves to be sung to.  Will be as tough DSC_0744 (2)as her brothers but as gentle as her mother.


I miss them already and hope to bring them all together again in two years.

Can you describe your loved ones in a few sentences?  Try it and share your descriptions with us on our Desire to Inspire website:

The first person to share on our website will receive a copy of Karen’s book, Trust Me My Child.  Through the simplicity of our daughter playing in a mud puddle, Karen was able to recognize the love of God and His peace that passes all understanding.





DSC_0141mud puddle girlIt was a beautiful sunny day and we had our grandkids over. Brooklynn’s favorite thing to do is pick raspberries from my garden. She loves Grandma AMA’s raspberries. Maya was in the garden with us and Logan was playing basketball with Papa!

I don’t know about you, but I am tempted to compare my garden with other gardens. And in doing so, my garden is never good enough…. especially this year.  My chronic pain is draining and I physically haven’t had the energy to do what I need to do in my garden to make it what I would like it to be. But I learned something that day with my granddaughters.

As Brooklynn was enjoying every sweet berry she could find, Maya said something that totally blessed my heart. Maya said, “Ama, your garden is so beautiful.” She was being sincere and meant it. I stood back and took in her words and thanked God for my garden. Will it ever make it in Better Homes and Gardens? Not a chance. But there is beauty in my garden…I just need to find it through the weeds or through my granddaughters!

Philippians 4:8 comes to my mind. It says, “Finally brothers and sisters,  whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things!”

From that day on, I am choosing to see the LOVELY in my garden. How about you?

Maya’s surprise for her Mom

DSC_0718As I wrote on my previous post, Karen and I had a fun with Logan, Maya and Brooklyn the other day.  During a water balloon fight Jaymi came to pick up the kids to take them home.  This picture collage portrays the sequence of events after Maya noticed her mother was turning into the driveway.


Grandparents Most Valuable Gift….

Out of all the memories I have of my grandparents, what do I recall with the most fondness?

Roller Coaster Santa

As a child, each year could be described as a roller coaster with many ups and downs.  The anticipation leading up to Christmas Eve was like the slow climb up the final, steep incline on that roller coaster.  Just thinking about spending the next few days at both sets of grandparents playing with long-distance cousins, eating all the cookies, pie and candy I wanted, hoping for snow, and opening presents was almost more than I could handle.

The reality was that my siblings and I would end up fighting with our cousins, I always ended up with a stomach ache from eating too many sweets, it never snowed, and a few days after Christmas I was bored with my new presents. I know my grandparents put a lot of energy (and money) into making the holidays great but looking back I don’t remember spending any alone time with them.  They were too busy being good hosts, while taking care of everyone’s needs, to play with me.

The same could be said about my grandparents organizing trips to the zoo, family reunions and birthday parties.  While all these things were fun times with my grandparents, family photos are the only way I remember any details regarding those events; so what do I remember about my grandparents in which don’t need old photographs to flood my mind with vivid details of emotions.

I remember my grandfather giving me his Swiss Army knife, pouring me a glass of Pepsi, and showing me how to whittle a car out of a block of wood so I could compete in the local Cub Scout’s Pinewood Derby race.  I remember taking my grandmother by the hand and leading her down into the basement I was too afraid to go to by myself.  She would open up the mysterious closet door and pull out musty smelling books and games, which had belonged to my father and his brothers, and play with me for hours.  I remember the smell of salt water and the sound of my grandparent’s laughter as my grandfather had to hold onto my pant’s belt so I wouldn’t fall overboard as I struggled to reel in my first salmon.

On Thursday mornings, Karen and I watch three of our grandkids for an hour until their mother gets off work.  Yesterday, Karen asked me if we could give our daughter a break and watch the kids all afternoon.  In my mind I rattled off a list of things I needed (desired) to accomplish that day like:

  • Assemble our new barbeque which came with a million parts.
  • Go to the dentist for my broken filling.
  • Call Costco’s concierge service over a computer glitz because I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to computer problems.
  • Take an afternoon nap.
  • And figure out what I would write for my next blog post.

Instead of accomplishing anything on that list, except for a glorious trip to the dentist, we decided to invest the best gift you can give to your grandkids (or kids); the gift of our undivided attention.  We played basketball, jumped rope, threw water balloons, built a fort, hurled magnetic darts at a felt baseball diamond, and engaged in a games of checkers and Blokus.  And while I didn’t get my afternoon nap, the youngest granddaughter did.

What are your favorite memories with your parents or grandparents?  What can you do to make unforgettable memories with your loved ones?