When Your Life Looks Like a Disaster…by ARHuelsenbeck

Imagine arriving at church one Sunday morning and seeing this:


It looks like a war zone, doesn’t it?

Shocked parishioners stood in the parking lot and stared at the rubble.

Actually, the congregation of Gethsemane Lutheran Church should have anticipated this sight. It’s good news. Feeling the strain of a sanctuary too small to hold all the attendees at worship services, the church had started many months ago pledging and raising money for the improvement initiative they named Forward in Mission. Demolition had to occur before new construction could begin.


Yet, people felt devastated by the wreckage. People who contributed toward the erection of the original structure decades ago. People who recognized the old church as a neighborhood landmark. People who had attended the parish school, and had gone to chapel in the old building.

Often, the old has to be torn down before positive changes can be made.

Life is like that, isn’t it?

Sometimes I recognize that one corner of my life is encroaching on the others. I’m spending time in a way that causes conflict for me or for people I care about. Yet I tolerate the tension and the clashes and the ineffectiveness, because it’s the way I’ve always operated and I derive a sick satisfaction from the status quo. It takes total collapse before I surrender and admit that the only remedy is change. On my part.


It’s hard. I mourn the loss of the old me, even though I know the new person I am becoming is one step closer to the vision of the God who created me.

He is a God of second chances. He is the Guide to salvation and sanctification. He’ll allow me to experience disaster, if that’s what it takes for me to notice He’s leading me in a different direction.

And He’ll make something beautiful out of the destruction.

Posted in change, Church, God, Transformation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

My New Tween Book Release

I squirm a little when it comes to self-promoting a new book. It feels so self-serving and that goes against my grain. But I’m super proud to announce the release of my new book, Meet Shelby Culpepper, which is book one of a three-book series for tweens.

I’ll tell you a little about the book, but then I want to share some background about why this book means so much to me. It’s available here on Amazon. You can read the back cover copy below:

A new school. A dying grandpa. A mysterious note. Even one of those things would be enough to keep Shelby awake at night. But all three at once provide the perfect ingredients for a really rotten seventh grade year. When Shane, the cutest boy in school, talks to her, Shelby is both thrilled and mortified. Thrilled because, wow. And mortified because his girlfriend is the most popular—and snobbiest—girl in school. With the help of her new friends—an overconfident geek and a boy-crazy romantic, as well as the wisdom of her bedridden grandfather, Shelby unravels the mysteries of the note, and explores the secrets of love, life, and death.

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Posted in Book reviews, Books, Doing Life Together, Family Stories, Reading | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My Dog Keeps Me on My Knees

img_0207I have to admit, when I am on my knees praying I don’t stay very long as it hurts my knees. It’s down, a few words, and up as quickly as possible. While on my knees in this humbled position, it seems my prayers are more intense.

Recently, something has kept me down longer. My sweet cuddly little Jack, mixed-breed rescue, decided he wanted to join me while I was in that position. He stepped into the “v” my calves made as I knelt, laid his head right in the crook of my knee and curled up contentedly. As I peeped over my shoulder to look at his interesting repose, I didn’t want to disturb his sleep. So I stayed on my knees longer.

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Posted in Being still before God, Christian Living, dogs, Faith, Pets, Prayer | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Helping Children Learn to Write…by ARHuelsenbeck


girl-writing-2Reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic used to be called the 3 Rs—the three basic skills necessary for success in life. Your children’s teachers will thank you if you encourage your kids to write. Here are eleven ideas to help you:

  1. Child as young as two years old: Give her a pencil and paper and encourage her to “write”—even if it looks like scribbling. (Watch her to be sure she writes on the paper and doesn’t accidentally poke her eye.)
  2. Three years old: Go through a wordless picture book (preferably one you’ve “read” him before—a good one is Peter Spier’s Noah’s Ark) and ask him what’s happening in each picture.
  3. Four years old: Have her practice writing the alphabet and her name. (Call your local school and find out what handwriting model they use. I grew up with the Palmer method; my children were taught D’Nealian. You can find D’Nealian alphabets online. Make a sample for her to copy.)little-boy-writing
  4. Four or five years old: Ask him to tell you a story. Write it down as your child dictates it. Then fold some paper into a booklet and rewrite the story with just a sentence or two per page. Make a construction paper cover for it, and staple it all together. Read the story to your child. (He may want you to read it over and over again, and may learn to read it himself so he can read it to his friends.) When your child has an adventure, or when your family goes on vacation, ask her to tell you what she did, and follow the same steps to record it for her.
  5. Four or five years old: Show the child how to copy a favorite book into a Word document. (My youngest daughter did this on her own with lots of her books and was a super-fast typist by the time she was seven.)
  6. For six-year-olds: Write part of a sentence on a piece of paper, and ask the child to complete it. My favorite food is ­­_____. I saw a cloud that looked like a ­­­_____. When I grow up, I want to be _____. The thing I like most about Grandma is _____.
  7. Ask children to add items to the family grocery list.
  8. If your child likes a song, encourage him to write down the words.
  9. For young writers, content is what counts. Don’t bother correcting spelling before second grade, or grammar before fourth grade.boy-writing
  10. Share letters and emails from friends and relatives, and let your kids write replies. Have your children write thank-you notes for Christmas and birthday gifts.
  11. Give your child writing gifts: multi-point and mechanical pencils; pens and markers in different colors; lots and lots of paper in all shapes, sizes, and colors; a dictionary appropriate to the child’s age; a journal or diary.

Do you have some suggestions to add? Share in the comments below.

Posted in children, Parenting, Teaching, Thank you notes, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Soul Beauty

beautiful-insideWhat could be more lovely than inner beauty of a life well lived, developed through years of experience? Think of all the funny stories, the heartaches, the worries, and the triumphs that reside in the hearts of older folks. I once had an older friend who used to say, “We’re all the same age on the inside.” It’s true. As I get older, I realize I still feel the same as when I was a teenager. Sure, I’m not physically able to do all the things I could then. But I can do some things now that I couldn’t as a younger person, like listen with more empathy because I’ve already walked in those shoes. I can hold things more loosely because I know there’s infinitely more value in things that can’t be held.

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Posted in Aging, Doing Life Together, Legacy, Life | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

In the Meme Time: Judgment


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Love Letter Begs for Date


Love Letter Begs for Date


Betty Mason Arthurs


Long before the internet and online dating sites, young ladies communicated with potential “matches” by letter, hand-written or typed on ancient typewriters. Like most senior folk, I miss those days when you could unfold a piece of stationary and reread a love note, not an e-mail, from your sweetheart. When I was dating my husband John, he left me sweet notes in my college mail box. I also loved getting letters from my mother when I lived miles away from her. So it was no surprise that I found some letters she had saved in a box from the 1950s and 1960s. One mysterious letter, written to my 19-year-old brother Mark, when he was in junior college, made me wonder, “Why did Mom keep this? Who typed the letter, its keys skipping and smudges of ink on every line?” I’ll share the letter.

November 17, 1960

Dear Mark,

I have often thought of you but I have never been able to bring myself to the point of actually writing to you. I hope you don’t think that I am too forward. Actually I am very shy, and somewhat cute, if I do say so myself. My problem is this: I don’t have a date to the banquet yet and I was wondering if you could possibly (now if you won’t don’t hesitate to say no, for it wouldn’t hurt my feelings too much. I mean, I would get over it in a couple of weeks, I think.) find it in your heart to try to help me out of my predicament which is very embarrassing to me. You see, I was once homecoming queen of my high school and since then I have never wanted for dates, that is, until now. Now I come to (Christian college), which they all told me was just about as close to heaven as one could possibly get and I haven’t had a single date as of yet. This is really hard to take. I have noticed that you haven’t had too many dates this year so I thought you might be in a similar predicament. So I am writing this letter to tell you I would be happy to date you even if no one else is. If you want to contact me, please write to Box 26, as I have a private box at the post office. I am a town student but am only 20 y/o. Of course I am too shy and modest to sign my name, but as soon as I receive your letter I will gladly let you know who I am. Until then, love, ????????

Can you imagine a young lady pouring her heart out like this on a dating site today?  I cringe when I think of the ridicule and bullying a desperate girl would receive if she admitted she needed a date. I think my tender-hearted mother kept the letter because she had once longed for dates. I know I did in high school in the 1960s. I can’t ask her because she died in 1985. I would like to tease my brother and ask him, “Did you take her to the banquet?” but he is gone too. Mark, who always had girls chasing him, often wrote to our folks, “I’ve got a banquet coming up. Can you send $20?” The joke in our household was, “When we hear from the boys it’s because they need money.” Even today, girls don’t understand that not all guys have a nice suit or tux to wear or a car to drive, plus money for prom, a corsage and dinner at a nice restaurant.

This letter speaks to me about teen girls and self esteem. Not much has changed even with the advent of internet communication. Maybe you’ve heard the story of a young lady who had a pair of men’s jeans on the end of her bed. Every night she knelt and prayed, “God please fill those jeans with a man for me.” I don’t know if God ever answered her, but I chuckle at her ingenuity.

My heart goes out to the writer, since she thinks having lots of dates will bring her happiness. I want to hug her, like I did with my daughter, and say, “Sweetheart, tell God your desires and your dreams. No one will ever love you as much as He does. Only He can be trusted to give you the love you long for.” Scripture is full of promises and one of my favorites is found in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), “’‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Do you know a lonely young lady who longs for dates or wants to be married? What advice would you give her?

Student by Gualberto107

Posted in Doing Life Together, Dreams, Hope, Love, Nostalgia, Prayer, Romance, Trust in God's promises, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment