When a Loved One Dies

Danny and me
Danny, age 5. Me, age 16 months

This month marks the anniversary of my late brother, Daniel’s memorial service in 2011. If he had lived, he would be 69. I dedicate this prayer to all of you who’ve been forced to say “goodbye” to loved ones too soon.

“Alone. Hollow. Broken beyond repair. This is how my friend feels, Lord, since she said goodbye to her dear one. When strangers eased his body into the ground and covered it with earth, her heart sunk with him. She knew her life would never be the same.

sad crying broken heart

“She wonders if she’ll have the strength to face another sunrise. Her soul is all winter, with no hope or desire for spring. How can birds build nests and tulips dance when her love lies buried? The enemy has convinced her that she’s forgotten how to sing.

“Yet You do not forget my friend, Your child. In the stillness of the night, when she reaches for phantom arms, You hold her. When morning reminds her that she must walk through another day without her loved one, You help her breathe. After the Jesus and little girlmailbox is empty of cards and the phone is silent, You sit with her, just being. Just loving.

“Now more than ever, she needs Your friendship. She’s known You as Lord, Master, and Savior. But today she craves companionship to sweeten her bitter cup. And You are the only One whose sweet water can fill her emptiness.

“God of all comfort, sing Your songs of mighty peace to my friend’s heart. Awaken her to the glory of Your embrace. Reveal to her new reasons to keep living,
and new seasons of fruitfulness.Summer“Send her companions that You’ve chosen, not to take her loved one’s place, but to color in the grey spots with fresh hues of gladness. Soft shades at first, as she opens the prison door of pain, and allows herself a glimpse of light, then brighter and bolder colors as she dares to step outside the door and bask in Your affection.

“You alone can turn her sorrow into joy, in ways none of us can imagine. Do what You do best, dear Lord: redeem this death and from it birth abundant life.
In Jesus’ Name, so be it.

References to Scripture: Isaiah 38:14; II Corinthians 1:3-4; Ephesians 2:14; John 14:27; Job 35:10; John 16:20: I Thessalonians 4:13-14; Revelation 21:4-5

I love you, my friend, Jen

This prayer is a chapter from my book, Touchable God: Finding the Lord’s Friendship Through Prayer. 

Touchable God front cover

When Are Donuts Dangerous?

        tire tracks in snow
“Honey, come quick,” I shrieked to my husband, Kevin.” That couple in the car across the road is in trouble.”

            Standing at our picture window of our living room, I clamped both hands over my mouth to keep from sobbing. My heart hammered in fear, a contrast to the serene blanket of snow on the lawn.

            When we relocated from Los Angeles to Paris, Illinois three months earlier to pastor a rural church, we were surprised at the differences in culture. The stores displayed Udder Balm at the checkout counter in place of breath mints. Gas stations sold live bait and mulch right alongside the antifreeze. People waved as we passed their tractors on the highway and spoke to us at the farmers’ market, even though we were strangers.

            But no kind greeting or wave could’ve prepared us for the harrowing scene taking place before us now. This was culture shock at its worst. 

             Careening out of control just fifty yards from our house, the car was a flash of red and silver atop the frosty ground. Our eyes stayed frozen to the window for several seconds, watching the horror unfold. But, what could we do? All of our urban savvy was worthless to this couple, spinning on the snow like a child’s top. I grabbed the only weapon I knew how to use, and bawled out a prayer:        


Lord, deliver those people,” I shouted. “They need Your help right now, before they die, or flip onto the highway and hurt some…”


          Kevin placed a hand on my arm to interrupt my hysteria. “Wait, Jeanette. Look over there, opposite from the car. There’s another one spinning in circles, going the reverse direction. I wonder if they could be doing that on purpose. Do you think it’s some sort of winter game they play around here?”

            Squinting to focus, I realized he was right. The cars faced each other, revolving in opposite directions, like two steel monsters dancing to the music of “Winter Wonderland.” For several minutes they whirled, grinding their tires into the gravel. Picking up speed, their chrome bumpers reflected light from the pristine ground cover. When they’d reduced the snow to a slushy rut, they stopped. Paused. The drivers appeared to sigh in contentment. And off they blazed, leaving us to stare at each other, befuddled.

            The following morning, I worked for several hours before I gathered courage to ask my co-worker what we’d seen the day before. I certainly didn’t want her to discover how dumb we city transplants were. She made it easy for me by reading my thoughts.

            “You live six miles south of town, don’t you? I bet you get a lot of teenagers coming out your way after it snows, doing donuts. It’s safer out there, away from the highway” she explained.

            I shook my head and grinned. “That’s what you call it: donuts?”  donuts in the snow by flikr 

“Yeah,” she chuckled, “young people do it for fun when there’s a good snow. It’s pretty harmless. Just our method of keeping the boredom away during a long winter. I should have warned you about it. If someone from the city saw that for the first time, it might scare the stuffin’ out of them!”

            I tried to sound nonchalant as I said, “Yeah, it just might.”

Since that first winter’s excitement twenty years ago, I believe Kevin and I have adjusted well to rural living. We buy our mulch at the Speedy Fuel and say “hello” to people we’ve never met. But, I may never get used to donuts in the snow, rather than my coffee!

Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles

The above story is a chapter from my first book Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top

Did you ever have to move, and experience culture shock? What helped you adjust to your new life? 

Celebrate Jesus!

Celebrate Jesus!

No star too bright
To herald the birth
Of the One
Who scattered them
Across the heavens;
No song too jubilant
To proclaim the glory
Of the One who sings His love
From eternity
To forever.
Dance, sun and moon!
Clap your hands, you trees!
Exult and cavort, oceans,
Seas, rivers and lakes!
He who spoke you
Into time
Embraces life
As a man-child
That all mankind
May sparkle as jewels,
Sing with joy
And dance as new creations
With Him. 
copyright JEL
P.S. I will be taking a short blogging break to refresh my spirit and spend time with family. May the Lord fill your life with sweet surprises from His hand this Christmas season, and may the coming year brim with rich blessings for you and your family. I appreciate you.

Your Favorite Christmas Gift?

What was your favorite Christmas gift as a child?

I was eight the year Easy Bake Ovens hit the stores. My mom, a single parent, could not afford a gift of that size. When I spotted a huge gift under my aunt and uncle’s Christmas tree with my name on it, my heart thrilled with hope.

image by fatherly
Image by fatherly

Do you think I got my wish? Could this be why, fifty-some years later, I still love to bake?

Your turn . . . 

Heres Splashing hope on you Jeanette signature

Your Favorite Christmas Movie?

Do you have a favorite Christmas movie, one you never tire of watching? Ours is Silent Mouse, a made-for-TV movie from the 80’s. Starring Lynn Redgrave as the narrator, Silent Mouse is the story of how the famous carol, Silent Night, was written, with a bit of literary license thrown in.

The main character is a mouse named Nonny. Her full name is A. Nonny Mouse. I love that!

Unfortunately, it’s only available on VHS. We keep looking, hoping to find it on DVD. We’ve played our copy over 20 times–it’s that delightful!

What about you? What’s your favorite Christmas Movie?

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Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipe

plate of cookies

Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe? Here’s mine. Easy to make, fun to decorate, and a surprise kiss or star in each!

Chocolate-Filled Christmas Bon-Bons

3/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 dozen chocolate kisses or chocolate stars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

If using chocolate kisses, cut the tops off before starting. You will have to force yourself to eat the tops, or give them to a spouse or child.

Mix shortening, sugars until fluffy. Add the egg, extracts and beat well. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Press each ball around a chocolate star or kiss until it is completely enclosed. (If dough is soft and sticky, add an additional 1/4 cup flour.)

Bake for 10-12 minutes on ungreased cookie sheets. Decorate with icing and/or sprinkles and jimmies in Christmas colors.

Recipe will make 3 1/2 dozen.

What is your favorite Christmas cookie recipe? Have you started baking yet?

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7 Time Management Tips for the Holidays

Peanuts sing Chrsitmas carols

If holidays bring you more stress and worry than peace, you might enjoy the following 7 Time Management Tips for the Holidays listed below. Knowing how creative you are, I believe you’ll find at least one tip you can use.  

  1. Break chores into baby steps.  You can wrap three gifts or bake one batch of cookies or address ten cards at a time—there’s no rule that says you must do everything from start to finish in one sitting. Some tasks—like addressing cards—can be combined with watching a Christmas movie or chatting on the phone to Aunt Bernice.
  1. Reward yourself when you finish a less-than-enjoyable task. Drink a cup of eggnog, call a friend, or read a chapter of a Christmas novel.

to do list vs. to be list

  1. Ask yourself, “If I had time to do only ONE thing on my list, what would I do?”
  1. Use paper plates, cups, and plastic ware to save time doing dishes. If you explain to guests, “I’d rather spend time with you than to wash dishes,” they’ll feel complimented. If using Grandma’s china for Christmas dinner is a non-breakable tradition, reward the kids in the family to help you clean up by letting them have first dibs on dessert. If you wait till clean up is finished before serving dessert, those dishes will get done lickety-split. Snoopy and woodstock sing Christmas carols
  1. Listen to Christmas music while doing houseworkit will help it go faster.
  1. Never wait till the last minute—something will always come up to delay your finishing on time. Allow plenty of leeway for interruptions and glitches.
  1. Learn to say “no” without apologizing. Your time, health, and emotional stability are worth more than pleasing every elf in the workshop.

What time-saving tips do you use during the holiday rush?


How to Predict Winter Weather

drawing copyright Ron LevellieThe Woolly Worm Report

Did you know there is a surefire way to predict winter weather? According to early American folklore, you can forecast the harshness of an upcoming winter by examining the brown band around a woolly worm’s middle. The thinner the brownish red band, the harsher winter will be.  

But I have my own methods.  As we go on a walk up the country lane near our home Fallat Nevins and I spot a woolly worm scooting across the pavement, I’ll note its coloration. If it’s dark brown or black, representing the bare earth, I predict a mild winter with no snow. If it’s orange—a happy, warm color—I maintain the upcoming winter will be warmer than usual. And if the woolly worm is white or tan, I report that winter will be fast and fun, with snowfall only on Christmas Eve.

Scientific? Hardly. Accurate? Rarely. But my overly biased woolly worm reports make us laugh every time. And giggles help us get through the long, freezing months better than gripes.  I imagine even the woolly worms laugh. At me. 

Jesus face accurate famous

I may not be able to predict the weather, but I’m convinced that the Apostle John predicted accurately when he told us Jesus is coming soon. I hope you and I will spend eternity together with Him, in that lovely city where every day is bright, and every woolly worm gives a sunny report.

Heart of Humor Final front cover 400 x 150The above is an excerpt from my book The Heart of Humor: Sixty Helpings of Hilarity to Nourish Your Soul, a combination of funny stories and articles on how humor helps.

Do you like Winter? If not, which is your favorite season?

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Need Emotional Healing?

A Prayer for Emotional Healing

      I had planned a post on pet peeves, but that will have to wait. This is a chapter from my book, Touchable God. I trust it’s what you need today.

                                                      When You Need Emotional Healing

          My friend is tired to her gut, Lord. She’s tired of pretending she’s okay when she wants to scream and weep and sink into the earth and never hurt again. You know how she feels, for you felt that same screaming ball of nothingness in your belly as they draped You onto two wooden beams, then nailed you fast, so You wouldn’t escape the pain. A pain not only physical; but the vilest soul pain that You were separate from Your Father’s heart and His gaze that kept You close, and His voice that wrapped You.

          The Father turned His back on You, and You bore it so we wouldn’t need to. Yet, she bears it anyway; broken and not knowing she can be whole. Or empty of hope for even a scrap of a put-together life.

Jesus the Good Shepherd

           Jesus, Shepherd who never leaves a sheep alone, hold her until the hurt leaves. Tell her she’s not a disappointment to You. Sing her songs You composed only for her and no other, so she’ll feel Your custom-made love and know You had a reason for her. Show her that reason in a thousand ways, dear Mender of Broken Lives.

sad crying broken heart

           She knows she’s broken, but she doesn’t know why, or she doesn’t want to know for fear the pain is all her fault. Set her free with the truth that the thief has stolen her joy and ripped her value away. Shine the light of Your admiration for her into the deep places she’s not aware of, so she’ll believe and not argue when You say, “I love you, daughter.”

             Grace her to release offenses she’s held tightly in her fists and locked in the oldest diaries of her memory. Cause her to walk upright, gazing into Your broad smile of forgiveness and strength. Guide her steps to sweetest life. Make her believe that she can be whole, as she rests in the crook of Your arm and listens to Your lullabies.

In Jesus’ Name, so be it.

References to Scripture: Matthew 27:46; John 10:11-17; Psalm 139; John 10:10; I John 4:18

Secrets to Stress Relief for All Seasons

In my six+ decades, I’ve learned some secrets to stress relief for every season: 

In the Spring and Summer, I grow vegetables to relieve stress. 

Digging, pulling weeds, and tugging baby carrots and onions from the soil–even the smell of tomato plants--soothes and relaxes me. 


In the autumn, I bake. Kneading dough, mixing pumpkin bread and Christmas cookies, then inhaling the warm, spicy smells that dance across the kitchen make me feel safe and cozy.

As to winter, well. . . never mind. We won’t talk about that today. 

How do YOU spell relief when you are stressed? Heres Splashing hope on you Jeanette signature