The Day I Found a Missing Bird

Every so often, a neighbor will post an alert for a missing house pet who has escaped. And with each alert, I wonder if today’s the day I’ll find that missing pet on my frequent neighborhood strolls.

Maybe it’s because I like brining joy to people. Maybe it’s because so little happens in my town that I need more excitement. Maybe it’s because everyone wants to be a hero at some point in their lives.

I’m out walking with my oldest daughter, and a beautiful white dove flies down and blocks our path.

It’s a little magical. It’s amusing and a little strange as the bird kindly stares at us.

I remember how earlier that day, I read an odd post about an escaped white dove–that’s actually a rock pigeon. This beloved bird named JoJo had owners who loved her and missed her. They left a phone number.

Who could ever find a missing bird? I mean, they have wings. They will fly, fly away.

Yet here JoJo sat.

I called the owners, and Sarah and I waited for them to arrive. We watched as they coaxed JoJo with various treats until they gathered her into their arms and brought her home.

Meanwhile, the whimsical evening stretched on. But Sarah and I were different: we were neighborhood heroes.

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They Don’t Have to Like You (And More Public Speaking Tips)

This morning, I spoke for a wonderful group of women in town. I noticed something different this time: I wasn’t quite as terrified. In fact, I enjoyed myself. I laughed. I socialized. I did my thing.

I loved it.

What’s changed? Well, first of all, I’ve gained confidence due to a few new tips I’ve added to my collection of public speaking wisdom:

1. They don’t have to like you. The real question is this: Are they learning? This takes the pressure off of you and puts the Bible (or your topic) at the center of the conversation.

2. Wear suitable clothing so you don’t have to fuss over it. Over the years, I’ve learned to always wear a skirt or pants with a waistband that works to hold a microphone pack, a jacket or sweater that the mic can clip on (unless it’s over the ear), and clothing that hides sweat. I’ve learned that uncomfortable shoes never work. Kick off the stilettos (unless you truly love them) and stick to the loafers or flats.

3. Invest in your appearance. I hesitated for years to spend money on my appearance. It seemed shallow, self-obsessed, and wrong somehow. It seemed ungodly. But I’ve learned that if you’re going to be on stage, in photographs, and at your book signing table, you really don’t want your appearance to distract people. You want to look professional, tidy, and put together. You want to find makeup that will last all day in bright lights that might make you sweat. Find a setting powder to put over good foundation (I use Estee Lauder’s Double Wear and Revolution Setting Powder). Pay for a good haircut with someone who really knows hair. Go ahead and get a gel manicure (they last for a few weeks and won’t chip). Figure out how to wear false eyelashes that will minimize your need for mascara and eyeshadow and won’t smear (I use the Duo glue and natural looking lashes for big events). Finally, I wear a long-lasting matte lipstick in a more neutral tone.


I cannot emphasize enough the difference it makes to feel comfortable and put a look together that you don’t have to worry about. Walking on stage and feeling confident in your clothing and hair is worth a bit of investment. And if you don’t have a big budget, don’t worry; most of my outfits are from the thrift store. I wore a thrift store outfit this morning! Nobody knew!

Most of all, you’re there to teach, to inspire, and to lead. They don’t have to like you. Think instead of teaching, not performing.

If you are reading and have some kind of speaking event approaching, I hope these tips help you!

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Questions that Serve a Family

Lately, I’ve thought about ways to serve others better in my family. I love these kinds of questions I ask my husband and daughters that end up blessing me and making our home fun and lively.

How can I make this day easier for you?

How can I serve you today?

How can I pray for you today? What’s on your mind that’s stressing you out?

But here are the questions I ask myself:

What one thing might I do to make today special for them–that matches how they like love expressed to them? I love the element of surprise! It’s fun! I think through a special after school snack, dinner, or dessert. I also think about playing music they like or lighting a scented candle to make the kitchen cozier. I think of any outings I could plan. I also think about helping straighten bedrooms or anything to make the home environment more welcoming.

What do I need to do for myself today to recharge, refresh, and feel special, so I’m not relying on family members to meet these needs all the time? Do I take a walk, sink into a hot bath, go for a coffee treat, or order takeout? Do I schedule time with an encouraging friend, go into nature to take pictures, or spend an hour in prayer?

This task of mothering and of shaping a home environment continues to challenge me and grow me. It’s been a wonderful journey of learning to bless others, care for myself, and keep love and creativity alive.

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On the Go

It’s a day to drive teens everywhere. It’s a day to run errands, finish laundry, cook meals, and manage various appointments.

Yet there’s always a moment to stop and reflect, to write, and to pray.

It’s now.

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Increasing Your Receptivity

Today I remembered the quote from a blog post I wrote nearly 9 years ago. E. Stanley Jones said, “An organism expends as much as it receives and no more; therefore, receptivity is the first law of life.”

Receptivity:  the willingness and readiness to receive. Below, I quote the original blog from 2011.

I wonder how we might receive from God, draw life and energy, and then expend. Otherwise, we find ourselves in unnatural and impossible deficits, exhausted by our lives. 

All day long, I think about how much we expend as we go about our days. I’ve mastered the art of expending, but I want to learn the art of receptivity. I receive from God through prayer and the scriptures, and I receive from others as I let them care for me when I’m in need. What makes this so hard every day? 

My husband reminds me that, in terms of biochemistry, certain drugs block the receptor sites of a cell so they cannot receive. In our lives, what would block our receptor sites so we cannot truly receive from God?

We both know the answer as soon as we ask the question.  It’s pride–our own self-sufficiency and our belief that we can control and direct our own lives. My supreme busyness reflects that deeply embedded pride. I must go and go and not ever sit and receive.

Not today. I need to receive. 

As I position my heart to receive, I find that God sends strange offers my way: a ride home, a friend delivering a meal, a moment alone to read my Bible, an unexpected treatment offered by a doctor. I relax into this day and open every receptor site I have. I find peace soothing my soul.  I let God fill me, and then, I have the capacity to expend. 

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Take a Loop

Sometimes my dear friend calls and says, “It’s sunny outside. Let’s take a loop.” She means we’ll walk around the block–the “loop” that takes only 10 minutes or so.

Sometimes, when my daughters and I have been sitting for too long with our tasks, whether their homework or my writing, I’ll stand and say, “Let’s take a loop.”

Let’s take a loop!

We take time to take a loop. It signals self-care, connection with others, and a moment of reflection. Taking a loop means a break to talk about whatever we need to say. And taking a loop finally offers a moment in nature to breathe in the fresh air, note the changing seasons, feel the grass under our feet, and touch the branches as we pass.

It’s a way to stop the day, remind us that it’s all going to be OK, and that here we are, just walking, just taking a loop.

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Collectibles

I know that others collect fine wines, cigars, or comics. Some collect stamps, coins, or classic cars.

Me? I’m still adding to my list of vivid verbs. Today, I collected shrinks, implicates, recoils, and deems. What began as a way to help students avoid saying, “this author says,” or “this argument says,” now stands as a large collection of vivid verbs that show what the person does. The author shrinks this or that, implicates this or that, recoils at this or that, deems this or that.

As I grade papers, read articles online, enjoy a novel at my bedside, or listen to other speak, I capture the verb in my hands like beautiful butterflies. I cage them on my list. I’m nearly to a thousand of my favorites. To make the list, the verb must offer me an image and a mood.

Sometimes, the pastor will say he “grappled with” something (my favorite verb that’s already on the list), so I’ll simply nod in acknowledgement of a beautiful thing.

Meanwhile, I’m off to grade more papers where students realize their sources have reiterated, prejudiced, or restructured an argument. And I’ll look for that fresh new verb that shimmers on the page.

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More Space

It’s time to replant the lemon trees into their own separate pots. Now, they’re competing for nutrients. They need room to grow. Otherwise, they simply won’t thrive.

I think of when we put our girls into two separate bedrooms. I think of those times in life when it was better to separate from certain people and positions in order to better grow into new places.

It’s always wise to evaluate if you’re in a place that allows you room to grow.

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4 Requests: Psalm 119:33-37

This morning I turn to Psalm 119 and discover something I hadn’t noticed before. The psalmist asks God to do four things :


Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
    that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
 Direct me in the path of your commands,
    for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
    and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
    preserve my life according to your word.

What a powerful prayer! What better things might we ask for today?

I notice that, of all the things someone might ask of God, this writer wants the four best: that God would teach him, give understanding, direct him, and turn his heart towards the right things. And I notice the little phrase “for there I find delight.” I love how when we walk in the path of God’s commands, we find delight. It’s not new places, new people, or new passions to take up space in our bored, frustrated, disappointed lives. Instead, it’s following God that brings delight.

I think of the wisdom seeker. I think of the peace seeker. I think of the joy seeker. I think of the abundant life seeker. What path leads to these goals? The psalmist knows. We ask God to teach, to give understanding, to direct us, and to turn our hearts towards His word and away from worthless things that do not give what the heart wants and needs.

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A Little Shake

I tell my daughters to think of life like a kaleidoscope: just a little shake, and the view changes entirely.

After a disappointing day, remember the truth that all it takes is a little shake of some tiny, new thing—and you have a new picture.

Give it a little shake. It’s a new day.

And it’s always beautiful.

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