A Towel and a Bowl Pt. 1- Veterans

Serving others sometimes involves dirty and undesirable tasks that none of us really want to do. Yet Jesus said that we would be “blessed” if we did them. What kind of blessing was He referring to? There is a lot of debate surrounding this passage of scripture, some holding to foot washing as part of the ceremonial ordinance like communion -the bread and the cup, and others tossing out the idea that we are to literally wash the feet of the saints.

wash20feet The evening meal was being served. The devil had already tempted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. He had told Judas to hand Jesus over to his enemies.  Jesus knew that the Father had put everything under his power. He also knew he had come from God and was returning to God. So he got up from the meal and took off his outer clothes. He wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a large bowl. Then he began to wash his disciples’ feet. He dried them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

 He came to Simon Peter. “Lord,” Peter said to him, “are you going to wash my feet?”  Jesus replied, “You don’t realize now what I am doing. But later you will understand.”  “No,” said Peter. “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you can’t share life with me.” “Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet! Wash my hands and my head too!”

 Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs to wash only his feet. The rest of his body is clean. And you are clean. But not all of you are.” Jesus knew who was going to hand him over to his enemies. That was why he said not every one was clean. When Jesus finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes. Then he returned to his place.

“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You are right. That is what I am.  I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you.  “What I’m about to tell you is true. A servant is not more important than his master. And a messenger is not more important than the one who sends him.  Now you know these things. So you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:1 -17

I have had it both ways – in our past fellowship it was ceremonial footwashing, awkwardly done once a year to prove we followed God’s command. Women washed women’s feet, men washed men. The women more often than not left their stockings on. Absolutely no ones feet were dirty or unkempt, but to the contrary, properly washed and pedicured to look our best. I suppose that somehow it made us more holy to be willing to submit to this awkward practice of dripping water over a pair of stocking feet, while we all murmured a “praise Jesus” or two.

I am not meaning to be trite – but when I reflect back upon what it meant to me as a  fairly new believer, I must admit that any spiritual growth or significance was really lost to me. Then again, I was in a legalistic cult at the time, and  I couldn’t opt out for fear I would miss the mark, and disappoint Jesus.  (Maybe even lose my salvation for not being “obedient to the Word.”)

Maybe awkward itself is the humbling part.

However, when Dave and I  had a foot washing as a surprise ending to our marriage weekend,  it was a huge success. The act of washing each others feet, combined with a vow of covenant, made for a really sacred time. The majority of couples all talked about it being the very best part of any weekend -symbolic of the commitment to serve each other and not themselves.  Clean feet, sacred purpose.

It’s all about heart and attitude.

Acts of service are often dirty, smelly, difficult, and embarrassing. The humblest of jobs.  Mary wiping Jesus feet with her hair seems pretty humbling to me. Pretty dirty and messy too. And very, very,loving.

when women love 3Caring for the toilet needs of dying, elderly and infirm are also really humbling. It was much easier for me to wash stockinged feet than to attend to the most basic needs of elderly loved ones. How about midwives attending to laboring women? Nurses?  But love goes into the deepest gutters to serve.

Mother Theresa did.

Let’s talk about the homeless.  Their feet aren’t very clean. They usually smell, sometimes have lice, missing teeth… Our hands get very dirty.

We are just weeks away from Veterans Day but Halloween always gets much more P.R. than our nations military. We have the population of an entire city of veterans without a home, in need of a literal footwashing…

…as well as a figurative one – in need of love and care. They need someone to find them, help them, feed them, care for them, and love on them. We can’t always fix the problem, but we can try – we can at least educate ourselves in traumatic stress and try to enter into their world of darkness.

The light of Christ’s love shatters darkness brighter than any LED.

We can let them to know that they are not forgotten; let them know that the price they paid for us does not go unnoticed.  We are thankful. Truly, deeply thankful.

wash feet 2We can let them know that Jesus loves them. That He can’t be here to wash their feet and feed them, so “please may we come in His place?”

There are two main points in the act of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples –

First,  He was willing to wash the feet  of Judas – the one who was going to betray him. (Anticipatory forgiveness -part 2 of this blog)

Second, washing their feet was sacrificial service beyond the call of duty.  The Para-rescue of the religious services.

Jesus’ death was imminent. He knew that. He could have been hanging out, telling his disciples that the end was near so “take care of me,”  and “serve me”. He could have been telling them he wanted to go hang out at home and enjoy His last days with his family.

If I knew that I had days to live, I don’t think I would be saying, “Hey, I’m going to spend my last few days  serving the poor and washing their feet.”  But not Jesus. Jesus wanted us to understand the importance of Christian service up until the end. Until it hurts.

Whether it is ceremonial or not, Jesus modeled for us the heart and attitude of acts of service. It is the very thing that  under-girds every one of His words and actions. Everything is done from the place of love.   If we don’t serve others, and practice ordinances with the heart of Christ, it’s just another washing.

And we know how he felt about that.

“The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:“ ‘These people honor me with their lips,but their hearts are far from me.

They worship me in vain;their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.””

wash f

This veterans day, let’s consider how we can wash the feet of our homeless veterans, and model to them the love and service of Jesus Christ.

Thank you.

If You Give a Homeschool Mom a Cookie

IMG_6257…she is going to want some Irish Breakfast Tea to go with it.  When she makes the tea, she will think about where it was  imported from and research the geography. While researching about Ireland, she will get sidetracked to tell the children about St. Patrick… St. Patrick will make her think about the Irish Potato Famine, leading to pondering cooking some traditional Irish dishes…

But one day she will be retiring from her lifelong career as a homeschool mom and will need someplace to channel all of that energy…

…Especially when her children range in age from 15 to 35 and homeschooling and mothering has been her life. Especially when she starts having yard sales to get rid of all of the extra homeschool curriculum. Especially when the educational toys and games and science kits, and microscopes all are placed into the hands of a younger homeschool mom with kids at her knees. Especially knowing how many years of long hours and overtime a devoted husband and father worked to provide all of those homeschool needs.

We have had thousands of books – thousands. We still have a gazillion.

give a homeschool mom…Especially knowing that the children are now in the hands of God – twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, as adults. Some of them even have their own children to fret over – ten grandchildren now read many of the books I once read to children who were snuggled up next to me.

My adult life…

It’s all I’ve ever known,

and sacrificed for.

button bay fam picture

It’s always a bit of a shocker to me when people assume because we have always been a single income family we were well off. Quite the contrary – we always did and gave out of our need, not our abundance.

Only because I happen to be married to the most self-less man I have ever known. Hands down. He has never spent more than $2,000 on a car for himself, and he drives them into the ground. I have never known him to shop for clothes for himself in 33 years, and he only buys new shoes when I drag him.

IMG_6261His adult life…

It’s all he’s ever known,

and sacrificed for.

maine family photo

Adding to our already large family by international adoption. He drove a 900 dollar car then, Sam is our $24 carrot kid.  Cars or kids. Dave is selfless.

sam wiht panda

Over the years a number of people have come to visit, and ended up staying a while. They found “Papa” Grubb to be accommodating, and our home a place that welcomed those in need of place to find some love and hope.

CHRISTMAS USEToday he sold the last of his farm equipment – some electric fencing and miscellaneous tools. It’s only seven years ago that we bought our first cows, and five years ago we added the sheep.

It was our dream, some day, semi-retirement property. My father had helped us buy it. He planned to move in with us.  A gentleman’s farm where we could feed our children, and eventually make a small profit to supplement the little retirement we would get from a failing IBM. Thanks to my fathers generosity combined with David’s selflessness, I had a horse of my own for the first time in forty years, the girls had ponies. We had finally achieved the life we had always dreamed of, even if most of the kids were in their teens by then. Dave still drove old cars. My father died three days before he moved up.

Curve ball 3Then IBM began the layoffs and life changed for us – starting over – again -like so many others who have been hit by a failing economy. No more retirement – we used that to feed the kids and farm animals.


No social security for me – I never worked long enough outside the home. I was too busy with volunteer work, 4-H, ministry…

It’s a different life we are leading now – empty nest – empty barn – empty pockets – and sometimes, broken hearts.

Broken but never empty.

Our hearts are somewhat broken with a brokenness I don’t regret, but they are also very full. Full of love. Full of children, full of grandchildren. We have so much to be thankful for. We have so many rich blessings.

With brokenness comes an appreciation for life, love, and God that cannot be attained any other way.

My hope sometimes falters as I channel all that homeschool energy and love into trying to build a ministry to help others who are in pain – locally, in Haiti, in the Philippines, in India – wherever I have been asked to go.

It’s such a big task and it is out there. 

It is not in here with my children snuggled next to me.


It’s a bit scary out there teaching, speaking, training, and deploying to foreign countries to help others.

IMG_9791It’s really scary doing it without Dave.

Courage is not the absence of fear, courage is stepping out to do the things you are most afraid of but the most needful.

It is me at God’s knee – a child again – with no choice but to trust walking along a new path. A path that has been carved out by many years of testing, accepting, changing, and trusting. A path that calls me to follow my Father as His adopted child and let him hold me. A path that lets go of the years I have held my own children. A path that learns goodbyes are never forever,

and forever is eternal.

SAM First homeA new future.

If you show a homeschool Mom where there is suffering, she is going to end up a Missionary Chaplain. As a Chaplain, she is going to want to an airline ticket to go to where the suffering is. To get there, she will need to buy an airline ticket. Needing an airline ticket will inspire her to sell her homeschool things. Selling her homeschool things will remind her that everthing comes with a price.

Thinking of the price will remind of Jesus and how great His love for us is.

His love will remind her that it’s time to put away the cookies; true and lasting joy comes when we carry the cross.


ATTENTION former homeschool moms.

There is still a place for you as a caregiver to your community, your church, or the nations. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.


Whose Hand Molds You

Most of us know the scriptural references to God as a potter and to humanity as lumps of clay. We even have worship songs written about it.

 Actually, The Potters Hand by Darlene Zschech, is one of my personal top five favorite worship songs. It more often than not makes me cry when I sing. It brings about feelings of broken amazement.  It is in my list of “Crisis Songs” – the ones I listen to when I am attending to an accident, a traumatic death, or at a disaster site. I have my list of songs for worship, comfort,  and as a gentle reminder that I am exactly where He wants me to be and…

who he wants me to be.

“Beautiful Lord, Wonderful Saviour
I know for sure, all of my days are held in your hands, crafted
into your perfect plan…” 

I listened to it every morning in Haiti before our training others about PTSD and trauma – before I listened to the painful stories of death, loss, and total destruction. I listened to it at many natural disasters in the USA. I listened to it in the Philippines before I stepped out into the surrounding devastation, and lines of patients waiting to see a midwife, EMT, or doctor. Before I looked into the eyes of hundreds of children who called me Lola – many who were traumatized, lonely, fatherless, hungry, or the poorest of the poor.  Beautiful children. Wonderful, happy, loving, children. 

IMG_9872  Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.   Isaiah 64:8

Adam was made from the dust of the earth – the first perfect clay vessel, molded and fired by the fingers of God.

I love the thought of God molding a lump of clay like myself into something beyond my limited imagination and comprehension. He is the potter and we are the clay. He does the molding according to His plans and purposes. We rest in His hands as only a lump of clay can. We do not work towards our own making, or mold ourselves. 

That is the real miracle of it – He does it all. 

We don’t even get our hands dirty in the process.  From start to finish, God owns it.  (Phil. 1:6)

“You gently call me into your presence guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord to live all of my life through Your eyes…”

Yet, we don’t always rest in His hands and allow Him do the work. We don’t see ourselves or others with His eyes.

IMG_6045We tend to beat ourselves up over all of our many and prominent blemishes, and then throw ourselves face first and headlong into fires of change, and furnaces of self judgement. We don’t want our work – who we are – to be visible,  so we stay out on the back deck,  hidden from all but those who know how to find us.

Sometimes they step over us without even noticing that we are there – alone – waiting to be seen.

We are clay in the Masters hand, but we are all apprentices to the Potter as well. Like a good Teacher, He allows us to be part of the learning process for others.

The minute we begin to share our faith, or mentor, pastor, disciple, or hold relevant groups, we become apprentices to the Master- we hold the responsibility of  helping to mold someone else. But we often shape others by twisting, forcing, and forming with our not so gentle hands. We hold onto images of the shape or time frame when our pots are ready to be fired, so we rush or manhandle them and produce lumps, bumps, and cracks.  We are all too quick to throw the pots into the fire before they are ready, and often they end up burned.

“I’m captured by Your holy calling
Set me apart, I know you’re drawing me to yourself
Lead me Lord I pray…”

Instead of being a display for the Master, they remain hidden from view completely – afraid that the piece they have become is a disappointment to the Master, and not worthy of a public display.


Instead of helping them to come out from behind the rocks and believe in the unique beauty of their broken, burned, or marred pieces,  we push them further away so we don’t see their imperfections.  Their imperfections only point to our own, and we don’t want our imperfections revealed. We know we will also be prodded, molded, and thrown into the fire.

“To be chosen as the Beloved of God is something radically different. Instead of excluding others, it includes others. Instead of rejecting others as less valuable, it accepts others in their own uniqueness. It is not a competitive, but a compassionate choice. Our minds have great difficulty in coming to grips with such a reality. Maybe our minds will never understand it. Perhaps it is only our hearts that can accomplish this.” Henri Nouwen

True love – God’s love – does not poke or prod. It doesn’t rush, or coerce. It never uses fear, control, or manipulation to incur change. True love is a presence that allows others to be drawn into the place where they are safe to be truly seen, in all their broken and burned fragments. True love reveals Jesus from the broken place within ourselves – within our own hearts.

The Master Potter takes a lifetime to mold us into His image, into who He has called us to be. We remain safely in His hands as he molds us, gently curving us where He wills, making each of us unique. The furnace remains in the far off distance, waiting for the time when we see him face to face, and He completes His perfect work.

Love is not threatened by what is revealed within ourselves when we embrace broken humanity. 


“Take me, Mold me, use me, fill me 

I give my life to the Potter’s hand

Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me, 

I give my life to the Potter’s hand…” 

Our lives and the lives of others rest safely in the Potters hand. We need to remember that.
Images – Courtesy of SAMSHOTS Photgraphy



When Your “Joy of the Lord” Has a Head Cold

News about a new blood test identifying depression has been in the news the last few weeks. The test measures the blood levels of RNA – a chemical used to process our DNA, and may even help doctors to identify those who would benefit the most from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  – “Talk therapy”  – “as a man thinks in his heart, so he believes.”  (Newsweek.com 9/14)

Practice Time

I was a willing volunteer for blood draw practice in the Philippines. I teach my trainees we serve where needed!

I am pretty excited about this new discovery – maybe, just maybe, this will help Christ followers and non-Christ followers to treat other Christians suffering from a mental health challenge, or mental “illness” with the same kindness of those who have a physical ailment.

I am still amazed at how many people can discuss a mental health issue like depression or anxiety with statements like, “They need to focus on the Lawd!” Or, “The joy of the Lawd is my strength!” Or, “They have a spirit of fear.” Or, “They need to trust God for peace.” “They need to hand it to God.” (That is one of my husbands personal favorites – as if we don’t all try to do that?)

You get the picture. You have probably heard them all before.

The same people go on in the next breath to say, “The doctors just switched my diabetes medication to___.” “…my high blood pressure medication  to…” “I’m on an antibiotic for my cold.”

As if we as a beautiful human creation can be compartmentalized into – BODY. SOUL. SPIRIT.

I’m gonna throw it out there – it’s OK to be obese, but it’s not OK to be depressed? Wait, don’t they very often go hand in hand? Impulse eating, comfort food?

Addictions?when your joy 1Why do many of us north country folks put on weight in the long, cold, dark, depressing winters of the Northeast?

I know why I do – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Such an appropriate name. “SAD”

As the weather is turning and the leaves are changing I feel my head beginning to – – I can’t even put it into words. I can only identify what God has taught me about myself and my own mental health – that this is when I beef up my supplements, boundaries, and self-care. I spend time with people who want to take the time to get to know me – to get to know us- and us them. No masks, pretenses, religiosity, Christianeze. Dave hates it. He is who he is. I think who he is, is pretty awesome. God has done a tremendous work in keeping us in His grasp. We are pretty easy to get to know…

I blog.

For me, the weather is combined with the multitude of losses that we as a family have experienced – all from the fall of 2002 through Easter Sunday of 2007 (when my infant grandson was on life support), topped off by the years of repressed grief over the traumatic loss of our son on December 10, 1990 and the spiritual abuse that surrounded, and followed it.

I love the fall. I hate the fall. It’s my favorite time of the year. It’s my least favorite time of the year. I look forward to it. I loathe its coming. fall

I could spend my time convincing myself I need to have more “Joy of the Lawd,” (been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt with the writing on the front “Hyper faith” or “Faith Message”) or I can take Vitamin D, St. Johns Wort, Omega 3’s and do light therapy in the mornings, WHILE I am spending  time in the presence of the Light of the World.

I choose the latter.

I also take extra Vitamin C, Zinc, Echinacea and Elderberry Syrup (my daughter Kristen makes it) for my physical health. I use more natural Lysol type products and hand sanitizer too.  There is stress associated with the changing seasons to colder months.

O ye of little faith!

“Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older or about one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.” (http://www.thekimfoundation.org/html/about_mental_ill/statistics.html)

OK, those are the diagnosable ones. The longer term. How about the days we all get “blue” and just need a little extra TLC? Or experience loss. That’s a big one.

There are an awful lot people who just need to know it’s OK when their joy of the Lord has a head cold. We all just need a little more TLC, a little empathy, a  little trying to understand from someone else’s perspective.  Or at least acknowledging we don’t have a clue how they feel.

A little more Jesus.

I’ll go with that.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Cor. 13


When Women Love

I have met so many women with a deeply ingrained ability to love and love well. We were created to be caregivers to the ones who are entrusted daily into our care.

When Women Love 2And to each other.

Like mother bears we are passionate about serving, protecting, and helping others.

We love deeply.


we hurt deeply.

Large families, infertility, death, divorce, illness, image issues, abusive churches, domestic violence, human trafficking, gendercide, abortion…

So many issues that we experience, feel, hurt, regret.

When women connect intimately, they have the capacity to transcend all boundaries of race, color, ethnicity, creed- even religion; and when the women share the same agape love of God through Christ Jesus, the possibilities of healing are endless.

Women are gifted for so many acts of service that are often overlooked in the church and community. Sometimes we feel ill equipped to do the  very things that we are the most suited for.

This is the basis for my training and teaching women to respond to loss and trauma. From military families and vets, to tornado victims, and everything in between, the ability of women to minister to others with deep seated empathy is amazing. In today’s society where up to 95% of people will witness or suffer a traumatic event, women unleashed for service would to help hurting people is a powerful force for sharing the Good News.

In Genesis 2:18 were created to be “helpers” and without getting into a theological debate of the Hebrew behind this (saving that for another blog), suffice to say that the same Hebrew word used for helper suitable in Genesis is the same words that refer to God as our helper in many other passages.

We are powerful helpers to our husbands and to mankind in our capacity to love.

Mary was a perfect example of deep love, compassion, and human emotion.

when women love 3

Jesus loved her.

Anointing the feet of Jesus – wiping them with her hair – she would later go on to reveal very human disappointment when he delayed in coming to save her dying brother, Lazarus. She hesitated in running out to meet him and when she did she said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would have lived.”

In other words, “Lord, I have loved you so, couldn’t you return that love by saving my brother?”

Sometimes despite our love, the glory of God must be revealed.

And it hurts.

Jesus wept when Mary hurt.

Raised from the dead.

Lazarus lived again.

The glory of God revealed through deep pain and suffering.

Later, we again find Mary at the feet of Jesus.

But this time it is the foot of the cross.

IMG_5778Weeping at the cross she revealed for all to see her love of Jesus.

Wearing our hearts on our sleeves, we reveal ourselves for all the world to see.

We want to be seen. We want to be known. We want to be accepted.

We want to be loved for who we really are.  Without religious masks or Christian jargon, quick retorts of “I’m fine,” or hidden tears. We want to be connected to God and each other as it was in the beginning. Before the fall. Before the pain.

Before the humanity donned masks of shame and regret.

We want to reveal our true selves. Often we share our hearts too quickly, too often, and too openly, and it leaves our hearts battered, broken, torn, and burned.

And we, like Mary, go to the foot of the cross,

and reach for Jesus, revealing our tattered, broken, hearts to the the One who makes us whole.