God's Faithfulness

The Twisted Roots In Our Lives

Over a decade ago, I became intrigued with twisted tree roots. My brother recommended a trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park because, along the way, one could stand behind a 25-foot waterfall. However, I would return for the twisted roots that dominated our path.

Grotto Falls 2012

Trillium Gap Trail

Last year, in the Rocky Mountains, I had more opportunities to admire the complexity of twisted tree roots.

Beside an alpine lake.

I saw those roots as evidence of a tree’s struggle to survive by forging a path to water and nutrients—a challenge usually hidden from view. Only a tall, majestic tree was seen until erosion occurred.

I wondered how many majestic people in my life had twisted roots hidden from view.

A little research taught me that root systems are complicated and shaped by a variety of sources. Still, when I see tangled roots originating from towering trees, I think of the strong, faithful people who bring joy to my life and wonder again about their perseverance and what is below their surface.

Art, Homeschooling, Parenting

Picture Books As Art

There is an opportunity with children to show them art and illustration that will furnish their minds with beauty and mystery, symmetry and wonder. The simplest mechanism for this is the selection of picture books that we share with them.”

Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Enchanted Hour

Along the way, I learned that stories not only have a lasting impact, but also their illustrations. My grown sons have asked for the titles of favorite picture books based on their illustrations: the large flashlight; the black Scottish terrier; the boy wearing a blue sweater.

We didn’t read Angus as much as Titch, but my preschooler still remembered the terrier over thirty years later.

The impact of picture book illustrations has given me a way to start art conversations with children. Make Way for Ducklings by McCloskey, Mr. Gumpy by Birmingham, Round Trip by Jonas, Piggins by Yolen, and Old Bear by Hissey are among my favorites.

These illustrations help teach the use of line, the power of basic shapes, and the variety of art media and styles.

Thankfully, Massachusetts and Ohio have museums celebrating the art of picture books.

Do you remember any illustrations from childhood?


Weeping With Those Who Weep

And we urge you brothers to admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

I Thessalonians 5: 14 (ESV)

My usual response when friends and family struggled aligned with 1Thessalonians 5:14. I’m wired to encourage and help.

Along the way, I’m learning that a different response may be most beneficial.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15 (ESV)

During the winter, I was devastated when people close to our family attempted to take advantage of us—with hugs and smiles thrown in for good measure. The most helpful words were “That was awful. I’m mad too,” followed by the reminder that it was their pattern.

This spring, when I experienced a serious health challenge, “You’ll heal and be fine” did not encourage. I did heal, and I am fine, but at the time, mourning and prayers were the balm I needed.

As a dear friend walks a difficult road, she needs help and encouragement, but now I understand how much she needs me to weep with her.

Are you in a season of rejoicing or weeping?

God's Faithfulness, Relationships

The Finish Line

July 4th used to be the day all my aunts and uncles called and sang Happy Birthday to me. Uncle Gene always told the same joke. He had called the White House and ordered fireworks for me.

Only one aunt remains to sing Happy Birthday, but the others left me with memories. Uncle Floyd also left me the contents of his house in Oklahoma. Except for a chandelier that I shipped, the items I kept needed to fit in checked airline bags or squeezed into spare space in my brother’s car.

Why did I choose the item below?

Precious Moments: The Finish Line

This figurine symbolized both God’s and Uncle Floyd’s faithfulness to the end of Uncle Floyd’s earthly Finish Line. It also reminded me that I was at the Finish Line with Uncle Floyd. Others had dropped out of his life—some due to pettiness, grudges, or greediness. Others were spectators and not participants.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

Galations 6:7 (ESV)

When Uncle Floyd wrote his will, he would not be mocked either.

May we all finish well.


Limited Parenting, Unlimited Expectations

Economics is the study of satisfying unlimited wants with limited resources.

Most Economics Textbooks

I’m an economist by nature and training, so why did it take years to realize that parenting is an economics problem—satisfying children’s unlimited wants with parents limited resources.

As a friend and I discussed our childhood hurts, we acknowledged that most were due to our parents’ limitations. They did not have the money, energy, training, or experiences to meet our childhood needs, wants, or expectations.

I have also long pondered how children’s expectations of parents have escalated over the decades. And I have lamented that family and community support have eroded. The result? The gap between children’s wants and parents’ resources has widened.

How did the analogy between parenting and the definition of economics help me? I gained perspective. I cannot completely satisfy my children any more than the production and allocation of goods can completely satisfy all consumers. However, I now have the vocabulary to explain this principle.

In which areas are you facing unlimited demands with limited resources?