Archives For Family

May 25, 1974 I married the most wonderful guy!!

May 25, 1974 I married the most wonderful guy!!

The following post came up in my Facebook newsfeed today, so I revamped it a little and have re-posted it.


The day Don and I were married no one could have convinced us we could be any more in love than we were that day! However, after 41+ years of marriage we both know love can deepen or it can fade. We have experienced both, and we have chosen the path of deepening our love.

It didn’t happen overnight, and at times it took hard work!

One of those times, was six months into our marriage. It was a lonely and scary season, and it felt as if we were adrift at sea with no compass to guide us. Thankfully, at that time we were scheduled to take a group of college kids to a campus ministry retreat, where (unknown to us) the speaker’s topic for the weekend was “Relationships”. Not only did his presentation include humorous anecdotes regarding the difficulty of communication in marriage, but it also brought much-needed answers!

One resource mentioned by the speaker was a book titled “To Understand Each Other” by Paul Tournier. This concise book opened our eyes and our hearts to the amazing dynamics of communication. Tournier’s challenge was to be courageous enough to share our true selves with one another, and as a result come to a deeper understanding of the person God brought to us in marriage.

As we worked to apply the concepts in the book we began to move past our fears and share our deepest thoughts. The author was right —it definitely took courage to remove our self-protective shields and care more about understanding each other than being understood. It was a process that took time and caring. But it also brought incredible transformation! Our communication deepened, our acceptance of one another flowed more easily and our enjoyment of each other became a delight! We fell more deeply in love!

Today, as I look back at that season, here are a few helpful “take-aways” from what we went through:

  1.  Listen and apply the counsel from someone who has walked the path ahead of you.
  2. Ask this question of each other — “What do you hear me saying?” Their answer will let you know if they are still not understanding what you are saying. Try again to explain. And then ask the question again. Keep at it until understanding comes.
  3. Handle your spouses heart as carefully as you want yours handled.
  4. Work hard to understand your spouse, rather than working to be understood.

Winnie in Wonder

About mid-summer, Don and I took our almost-15-month-old granddaughter Winnie, and her Daddy (Drew), on a fun excursion to the Henry Doorly Zoo. Like her parents, Winnie demonstrated that she could make everything a fun-filled adventure. Her little “pointer” finger never stopped showing us whatever had grabbed her attention. We “oohed” and “aahed” over anything or anyone she noticed. It was as if we were viewing everything at the zoo through her eyes. And in so doing, we touched the wonder she had found.

While reading the Bible the following day, my attention was drawn to the wonder people expressed as they witnessed Jesus demonstrating incredible miracles. When He calmed the raging storm, it stated And the men were stunned with bewildered wonder and marveled...” When He told the paralytic to take up his mat and walk, it said, “When the crowds saw it (the paralyzed man healed), they were struck with fear and awe and they recognized God by bursting into praise and thankfulness.”

As I read those powerful words, I remembered Winnie’s priceless expressions throughout the previous day. The display of wonder in her eyes, the exclamation of “Ooh” or the sudden intake of her breath. With a fresh sense of wonder piercing my heart, I began to pray: 

Lord, I want to always marvel at Your goodness and at the way You touch our lives and the lives of those around us! I want to thrill at the awareness of You and the closeness of Your Presence in my every day life. I want to rejoice over Your goodness to mankind. I want to bow in honor to You for what You accomplished on the Cross. I want to dance and rejoice with delight at the reality of Your resurrection. And I want to burst into praise and thanksgiving for building your church in the earth!

Jesus, I want to always look at You and Your Kingdom the way Winnie looked with awe and wonder at each new facet of this new world she entered a few short months ago.

Just as her delight caused me to see life through fresh, new eyes, may my life express such great delight for You that it causes those around me to see You with fresh, new eyes.

And may we, altogether, express our wonder at the goodness of You!



Don & Tyler

Barnabas means “son of encouragement”.

In the Bible we know a lot about the apostle Paul. But, there was a man named Barnabas who first came alongside Paul and encouraged him to move into the relationships and purposes God had for him. Barnabas made a difference in Paul’s life and in the connections he made.

I have been given the gift of my own personal “Barnabas” — my husband, Don. The other day, I heard a friend tell him, “You’re the most encouraging man I’ve ever known.” And it’s true! Throughout our lives, I have repeatedly heard people acknowledge to Don how his words of encouragement came exactly when they needed them, or because of his words of affirmation they took new steps of faith.

Don sees “the gold” in people and tells them what he sees. He notices their best traits and calls them out. He encourages them to step out and use the gifts they have and to become who God intends them to be. Often, he will return from a meeting with other men or pastor friends, and he will begin telling me about one of the men, and he will either begin or end by stating, “he’s a really nice man, I really like him.” He truly means it. He likes people and sees the good in them.

Over the years I’ve watched him bring loads of encouragement to our children. He tells them of his faith in them, his trust in them, how proud of them he is, and then declares over them their strengths, abilities and graces. I consider it a privilege to hear him speak into their lives! He’s done it from the moment they were born until this very day. And now he does it with our grandchildren! They too are the recipients of their own personal Barnabas.

I sometimes wonder how the kids and grandkids view this gift of encouragement, or how they feel when they hear his words of love and affirmation. But I need only watch as their faces light up, their shoulders lift, and the dark clouds part, to understand what a difference he makes by speaking life to them and placing great worth and value upon them.

Throughout our 41 years of marriage, I have tried to learn from Don, how to be an encourager; how to be someone’s Barnabas. Here are the specifics I have applied in order to help develop the gift of encouragement.

1.  FOCUS on one person. Whether Don’s with me, his children, grandchildren or in a group of people, he focuses on the person to whom he is talking.

2. LISTEN as they tell their story. Ask them about their life, and then listen carefully. Refrain from thinking about what you will say next.

3. Find the GOLD. Their strengths and abilities will emerge as they tell their story. Remember these and prepare to let them know what you’ve heard in their story.

4. Speak LIFE! Verbally affirm their strengths and abilities. Recount what they said in their story and use it to point out to them their strengths and abilities.

5. WATCH as your words of life help them become who they were meant to be!

Do you have a Barnabas in your life?

And whose Barnabas will you be?





Her One Last Tear

June 5, 2015 — 6 Comments

Yvette Yates

As her daughter’s realized she had probably taken her last breath, they bent near to listen more closely. Looking at their mother’s peaceful face, they noticed one tear resting on her cheek. Their mom was gone. Gone to be with “her Jesus.”

She always called Him, “My Jesus”.

My friend, Yvette, had a heart filled with love for Jesus, her husband, children, grandchildren, friends, family and church. She fell madly in love with Jesus, and her life was spent serving Him and His church. She was one of the most loyal women and one of the most faithful and diligent “pray-ers” I have ever met. Many people arriving at our church were greeted by her sweet spirit and endearing smile. Her loving ways made everyone feel welcomed and loved.

For many years she dealt with heart problems, but it seemed she always bounced back from them. When she went into the hospital this time, I assumed, as did everyone else, she would once again come back from the health problems she was facing.

Not this time.

She fought hard to win over her failing health. She wanted to stay and spend more time with her girls and their families. To pray more for those she always carried in her heart. She fought the good fight of faith. She pressed on to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. And she won! Not the way we had prayed and hoped she would win. Her love for Jesus won!

I don’t believe the tear her girls discovered on her cheek was a tear of sadness or sorrow.

I believe, as her physical life was not quite over and she drew closer to heaven, her spiritual eyes opened and she caught her first sight of Jesus as He truly is. I imagine this long-awaited glimpse of “her Jesus” caused her eyes to fill with tears and suddenly, as her sorrows were swallowed up in a moment of revelation,

one of those tears slipped onto her cheek.

And as she grasped His hand to walk into eternity, I can easily hear Him say,

“Yvette, we have to leave it here, because past this veil there are no more tears.”


God Took My Debris

February 9, 2015 — Leave a comment


In my younger years I lived behind invisible but real walls. Somewhere in my youth I noticed how girls talked about other girls and used any vulnerability against them. As a result I made an inward decision not to open my heart to others because, I believed what I shared, could and would be used against me.

At the age of 18, when my older brother died, and my world as I knew it, came shattering down; I added another layer to my already thick wall. The lie “no one understands what I’m going through”, became the separating point between me and everyone else.

After Don and I were married the walls I had created became glaringly apparent. When I was hurt, I retreated behind my wall of “he doesn’t understand anyway” so why talk about it. But, I married a relentless and loving man, whose consistent, verbal affirmation, helped me remove sections of my wall a little at a time. He continually exemplified God’s unconditional love to me, and consequently I gradually began to move out from behind my self-imposed prison.

I remember clearly, the day God’s Spirit prompted me to verbally affirm Don. It was one aspect of my wall I had not yet stepped beyond. My previous experiences clearly warned against this kind of vulnerability. But God, was asking me to lay down the bricks of self-protection, open my heart, and speak my love and affirmation directly to him. When at last I obeyed and complimented Don, an enormous sense of love and admiration exploded inside. Like the heart of The Grinch, my heart finally expanded and I felt a deeper love than ever before!

Our marriage took on a whole new level of love and respect. Our communication deepened when I began to verbalize to him my admiration for his talents, his loving acts of kindness and service, his faithfulness at his work, his outgoing nature, his strength to stand in the face of trials, and so much more.

Once I stepped beyond my comfort zone, the walls crumbled, as God took the debris and built instead, a firm foundation upon which our marriage stands today.

I Peter 3:2    Amplified Bible

“When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence (for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him – to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband.”

pic for my blog

Writing holds the power to be understood and to understand. Together, my son and I discovered the healing power of writing as we worked our way through a season of struggle and misunderstanding. The rest of our story is over on Claire DeBoer’s blog, The Gift of Writing

Mom's Ornaments 3

From the time my mom became a grandma, and for many years following, she made each grandchild a handmade Christmas ornament with their name on it. Aour children became adults and established their own homes, the ornaments stayed with us, and each year we hung them on our Christmas tree. My mom has been gone for six years, and whenever I pull them out of the box at Christmas time, I find myself very thankful for the priceless memories she crafted.

This year, our grandchildren helped us decorate our tree. As the first ornament appeared, their parents began to explain how these were special because their grandma had made the ornaments for them. Once the grandchildren understood, they clamored, “Was this made for my daddy?” “Was this one Sissy’s?” I then, looked for Mom’s handwriting on each one, and announced which of their parents was the proud owner, and the year Mom had made it.

After the grandchildren left, I discovered the ornaments were all bunched together, so I distributed them throughout the tree. I gazed at these precious gifts as I cradled each one in my hands. The time and care Mom lavished on each one resonated with a sense of her deep love for each of us.

After each ornament was nestled in their special place, I stood back and observed my handiwork. A transformation had occurred throughout the tree. Barren branches had become beautiful.

My mom’s love could be seen…hanging on branches!

#2 Ornaments

Mom's Ornaments 4