Monday, February 20, 2017


Acts 1:7  He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority."

It was 2004 and I had written my first book. My 216 page manuscript about our teenage son's battle with terminal cancer would surely set the world on fire! When my well meaning friend, Lisa, shipped my masterpiece off to Oprah we waited. Visions of talk shows and Good Morning America danced in my head. Certainly the world waited with baited breath for my literary contribution.

But the phone didn't ring.

It was 2010 and I had written my first children's book, a story for children with cancer. No doubt every children's hospital across the country would snatch that puppy up. Perhaps Disney would catch wind of it and make it into a movie! I mean, come on people—I had the songs chosen for the sound track!

No producers called.

It was 2015 and I was retiring from teaching. Now I would have time to promote my writing! I would attend writers' conferences and snag lucrative speaking engagements. My 3 unpublished manuscripts floating around in query-land would finally land on the appropriately ordained desks. I practiced my stage presence in front of the mirror.

Three days after I retired our 21 year old, Jarrod, was killed in an accident. Both of our sons were now with the Lord. Then my husband became ill and the bills mounted. 

It is 2017 and I am now unretired from teaching. We have sold  most of everything we own and have started over. I am back working long hours teaching, my computer waits for me when I get home, but I'm often too tired to turn it on. The agent who encouraged me to build my social media platform, query him again, probably won't hear from me any time soon.

So what have I learned? God's timing and mine aren't even close.

2 Peter 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

 I am slowly surrendering it all to God. Now I wake up and ask Him what He wants me to do today. I think of some of my heroes like Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs who was imprisoned and tortured for his beliefs, and Corrie ten Boom who was sent to a Nazi prison camp for aiding Jews. They were grateful for small blessings  and they never lost their faith.

I think of my own hero, my son, Chris, who at the age of 14, assured me that he was at peace with dying. "Jesus is coming, Mom, and I'm going to go, so don't worry because I'll be okay." He had pointed to his schoolbooks on a shelf and smiled. "I won't be needing those where I'm going." His faith was bigger than mine.

Who am I to complain?

The Lord has given me a new ministry for now, a classroom full of needy kids. I am the third teacher they have had since the beginning of the school year. Most are from divorced parents, some in foster care, others have been ravaged by violence, abandonment and addiction. Right now God wants me to deal with real-life characters.

So every morning before school starts I kneel at my desk and I give God my classroom. I ask him to make me a light.

Matthew 5:16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

 The other day one of my students "Sam" had a breakthrough. He has been stealing and lying about it all year. He finally trusted me enough to tell the truth. He admitted his fault and submitted to my leadership. Deep down, he knows that I believe in him. Sam has taught me a lot about what my relationship with God should look like.

Once in a while I get encouraging emails from people who have read my books. The best ones are from children dealing with cancer. They tell me my story helped them cope. Perhaps my apparent lack of earthly success in the book industry is really a triumph in the timeline of eternity.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

On September 11, 2001 when the twin towers fell Fire Captain Bill Lavin grabbed his gear and rushed to his department headquarters in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He and his fire chief didn't even wait for orders to deploy. They jumped in a truck and headed to New York.

Bill did what first responders do—he ran towards the danger instead of away from it. Bill was part of that great wave of heroes who worked tirelessly for weeks and months. In an excerpt from his book: Where Angels Live Work and Play (The Story of the Sandy Ground Project) He writes  "...There was no set schedule or plan, so you just kind of worked until you were exhausted, fell asleep somewhere, then got up and did it all over again." Click here to read more.

A schoolteacher in the small coastal town of Bay St. Louis Mississippi, who had connections to New Jersey, decided to teach her students about patriotism and gratitude. So they built a mailbox and decorated it like a flag. They stuffed it full of messages, drawings, and letters to cheer up the first responders, and they delivered it to the firefighters at the Elizabeth Fire Department.

For several years the mailbox graced the chief's office at the firehouse, reminding the firefighters that someone cares. Then, in August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina demolished Bay St. Louis Mississippi. Bill and his crew had to find out if their friends at North Bay Elementary were okay. They had survived, but their school and much of their town had disappeared.

The firemen and their friends held fundraisers to help. "What do you need right now?" Bill asked the teachers.

"We need a place for our children to play." They  replied.

 Bill and his dedicated team of volunteers descended upon Bay St. Louis, and by they time they were done, they had built 3 brand-new playgrounds, one at North Bay Elementary, and 2 more in surrounding areas that were also devastated.

For a while they thought they were retired from the playground business, but then a few years later, disaster struck closer to home. In October of 2012 superstorm Sandy ripped apart much of the Atlantic coast. Bill and and his fellow first responders were once again faced with overwhelming and exhausting recovery tasks. Then in December, the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut brought the nation to its knees.

At the time Bill was also embroiled in political and union battles in an effort to preserve the firefighters pensions and benefits. Amidst all of those events Bill had reached an all-time mental and emotional low.

Then a letter from a little girl arrived. It was a letter thanking Bill and his volunteers for the playground that they had built several years earlier in Bay St. Louis. She told them how much she enjoyed growing up playing on it.They were all thinking of their New Jersey friends in the wake of Storm Sandy.

Bill writes "With all the storms and violence and overall despondency hanging over our country, here was a little girl working to pay it forward in a positive way. And it all began with a playground that had allowed her to feel cared for...What if building more playgrounds could help everyone recover and rebuild once again?"

And The Sandy Ground project was born. Click here for more information.

Bill and his expanding team of volunteers went on to build 26 more playgrounds in storm-ravaged towns in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut The reason they built 26 was because each of the playgrounds was built to honor one of the 20 children and the 6 adults killed at Sandy Hook.

 Because of The Where Angels Play Foundation four of the most infamous and catastrophic events in recent American history have all been linked by a project of love and hope. Families of fallen children see siblings and neighbors frolicking on playgrounds uniquely designed to match their child's favorite colors and themes. Communities leveled by storms have rallied together, a new spark of hope ignited when their children received a brand-new place to play.

And the work continues. To date the Where Angels Play Foundation has erected more than 40 playgrounds! There are even plans to build one in Africa!

Revelation 21:1: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away..."

 Although our ultimate restoration won't come until the return of our Lord, Jesus, in the meantime we are blessed with Bill and his earthly angels who spread love and build hope one playground at a time.