The Gift of Encouragement

The Gift of Encouragement

There is a girl. Her name is … 


She told me a few weeks ago that she misses my blog posts. Then she said that she is NOT a writer – that if she were to write something it would start, “There is a girl. Her name is…” She thought she was being self-deprecating and proving she can’t write. Instead, she was being an encouragement to me, as usual.

I’ve been struggling with frustration. Frustration about my plans being changed by the decisions of others. Frustrations about my weakness in sticking with a life change for better health. Frustration with a seemingly never ending sinus infection, work stresses, missing my boys, writer’s block…

So when I saw Denise at church this morning, I ended up spilling my litany of woes. She listened, empathized, shared her own struggles, told me she drew inspiration from me in areas she sees strength, hugged me and invited me to sit with her in church. After the service, she wished me a blessed week and said she loves me. I arrived at church this morning tired, running late, and feeling a bit fragile. Denise’s love and encouragement inspired me to change my perspective. She is a true blessing in my life.

Today was a yucky, rainy, snowy, cold day. It would have been so easy to stay home and vegetate, but I didn’t, thankfully. Denise wasn’t my only encourager today. I had a number of uplifting conversations with long-time friends, as well as a moment when our associate pastor took time to pray with me before I slipped into Community Group nearly 40 minutes late.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) reminds us of the importance of community: “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…”

We were made to be in relationship with others. While we need time alone to process, regroup, refresh, etc., we need others in our lives who will love and encourage us. Rather than going into another work week feeling depleted, I’m heading into this Monday emotionally refreshed. Sometimes it’s easier to feel sorry for ourselves, or to embrace the “misery loves company” mentality and surround ourselves with negative people. But as we start a new week, I’d like to challenge you to reread Hebrews 10:24-25 and think of ways to motivate one another. I’d love to hear from you. Please share how someone encouraged you recently, or how you showed love or did a good work.


Flashback Friday 5


I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging out with my two-year-old granddaughter. One day she got my book out and threw it on the floor. I asked her to put it away before we left the room. 

She said, “No.”

I said, “You don’t say no to me. You say yes ma’am. Now put the book away.”

She said, “Yes ma’am. No.”

Close enough.

Kids crack me up. And none more than those in my own family. This Flashback Friday column was first published in the Chester County Independent June 25, 1998. It ends with a perfect example of how my son Geoff has always challenged me.  

Because I Said So and Other Ridiculous Phrases

I’ve never been particularly fond of the phrases, “because I said so” or “because I’m your mother and that’s all you need to know about it.” Rather than instilling a desire to do as the parent says, these words breed anger and frustration. And as I was always quick to remind my parents, God tells fathers “Provoke not your children to wrath…” (Ephesians 6:4a). Okay, probably not a good idea to throw scripture in your father’s face, but hey, I was only in junior high.

I’m the type of person who likes to know why. When someone tells me to do something that seems stupid or unreasonable, I grumble and complain, or just refuse to do it – depending on who gave the order. If the reason behind the request is obvious or explained to me, I willingly proceed. I seem to come by this trait honestly.

When my dad was a young teenager, he spent some time on his uncle’s wheat farm and helped drive truck during harvest. Uncle Amos told him not to touch a certain lever. Rather than explain the consequences, Uncle Amos pulled out Phrase Number One – “Because I said so.” Dad backed that loaded truck into the shed and pulled the lever. As the bed began to rise, pouring wheat all over the ground, Dad’s arm was caught and his wrist was broken. Dad always ends that story with, “If ol’ Amos had just told me what that lever was for, I never would have had to figure it out for myself.”

As a result, my dad was always very good about explaining the rules to my sisters and me. If I couldn’t go to a party, it was a lot easier to tell my friends why I couldn’t attend than to just say my tyrannical father wouldn’t let me.

Throughout my Bible are DC notations. For each direct command (DC) that God gives, He gives a reason. For example, in Ephesians 6:11, He says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that he may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The direct command is to suit up in God’s armour. The reason is to protect yourself from Satan. Not too different from my command to my daughter to get out of the middle of the road to protect herself from speeding cars.

Although my children are small, I try to give simple explanations to them. But last week I caught myself using a new version of Phrase Number Two. I looked my 3-year-old son Geoff in the eye and said, “I’m your mommy and you have to do as I say because God said so. He says, “‘Children, obey your parents.'”

He looked right back at me and said, “And you have to obey God.”


Flashback Friday 4

Flashback Friday 4

Tomorrow is Halloween, and that means lots of kids, big and small, will be dressing up and going out trick or treating. Many of those kiddos will be dressed as their hero – superheroes, historical heroes, musical heroes, pop culture heroes, sports heroes – up and down neighborhood streets, mall hallways, and haunted house stairs, hero look-a-likes will be out in droves.

Thinking about all of these little hero worshippers converging on houses begging for candy made me think of this column from the late 1990s for this week’s Flashback Friday. After you read it, please share in the comments who your hero is.

Everybody Needs a Hero

“The Greatest American Hero.” “My heroes have always been cowboys.” The “Rocky” trilogy. Television, music, and movies.

Abraham Lincoln, General Patton, Jimmy Stewart, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Superman.


The world is enamored with greatness. We all seem to be searching for our ideal person – for someone to “look up to,” to pattern ourselves after. But have you ever noticed that most heroes are dead or imaginary? Is that because dead and imaginary heroes are less likely to disappoint us? Of course, as soon as some long-lost diary is discovered or the last living person who knew hero so-and-so contacts “20/20” with some juicy gossip, the dead heroes lose their high standing.

We all want our heroes to be courageous, personable, wise, witty, honest, and faithful. Of course, money and good looks sure don’t hurt. But most people, at some point, fall, and when they do, those who admire them are left in turmoil.

There was a couple in the church I grew up in who helped with our youth group. I thought they were the perfect couple and “idolized” them as such. When I was 15, they divorced, and I was devastated. I remember crying until my head ached, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose. My dad hugged me and pointed out that this is what happens when we put people on a pedestal that should be reserved for Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the perfect hero. After all, he is perfect. He is an example to all of us of how to live our physical and spiritual lives. He is a comfort to us. He is a protector and the savior. He is not dead or imaginary. The greatest investigative reporters will never find anything to tarnish his name.

Everyone needs a hero, and Jesus is the only one who will not disappoint us.

He is my hero.

How about you, who’s your hero?

Flashback Friday 3


imageOne night this week I was enjoying a beautiful fall evening by sitting on the front porch and reading.  My son and daughter-in-law’s dogs, Stetson and Milo, were being incredibly good, just sitting on the porch watching the after-work traffic pass by.  I had set the book aside, watching them and thinking what good dogs they were when suddenly Stetson jumped up and ran right out into the street. He thunked against the side of a red sedan as I jumped up, yelling his name. As quickly as he’d darted out, he was back on the porch standing close to my side. The woman driving the red car pulled over and got out.

“He’s fine,” I shouted.

Are you sure? she asked as she walked around to see if there was any damage to her car.

“He’s fine,” the neighbor said. “He just hit the side. He’s alright. Now if it had been head on, that would have been a different story.”

Stetson stood beside me acting like nothing had happened. I was glad nothing serious had! How would I explain to my son that I hadn’t just dinged the running board on his brand new truck? No, this time I’d let his dog get hit by a car.

This incident reminded me of another dog and his traffic accident in 1997.  Like the other Flashback Friday installments, the proceeding column was first published in the Chester County Independent.

A Greater Price

We recently drove to Wyoming to visit family. We took our horse trailer since we hadn’t had room for everything when we moved. My husband also decided that we needed to bring our dogs, Haley and Zeuss. They made the 1,300-some miles to my sister’s house in the padlocked horse trailer.

After two days in Douglas, we continued the one hour to Casper. We thought no further than we were going, the dogs would be fine in the back of the truck. Zeuss kept standing on the tool box, so halfway to Casper, we pulled off the interstate and put both dogs back in the trailer. Tom didn’t padlock it.

During the course of the last few miles we made a sharp turn, crossed a bumpy intersection and stopped at two red lights. While we sat at the second light, I saw the tail of a black dog pass in front of us. Tom realized it was Haley and jumped out of the truck to put her back in the now open trailer.

“We lost Zeuss somewhere,” he said.

He quickly drove the last several blocks to his mom and dad’s house, parked on the wrong side of the street, and ran to the door, shouting, “Mom, I need your car.”

Tom searched for Zeuss unsuccessfully until nearly 2 a.m. First thing Monday he called the pound and was told a dog matching Zeuss’ description had been picked up at 1:30 Sunday morning.

Tom took $50 and went to bail Zeuss out. It wasn’t long before he called saying he needed more money. Zeuss had hurt his legs when he jumped out of the trailer and been taken to the vet and given an IV and pain killers.

When Tom returned with a perfectly healthy Zeuss, he said, “Well, our free dog just cost us a lot of money.”

I grumpled about the dog blowing our travel budget, until I was able to put things into perspective. The price we paid for Zeuss’ freedom was pretty paltry compared to the price Jesus Christ paid for ours.

One of the first verses children learn in Sunday School is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

God didn’t just give us his son to live among us and teach us His principles. He gave him to die for us.

Adam and Eve had done some pretty serious damage to man’s relationship with God. In order to correct the damage, an atonement had to be made. Since man had caused the breach, he would have to span it, but since the break had been made with God, human efforts were not enough. The solution was for God’s holy son to become a man.

During the time before Christ’s birth, men made sacrifices of lambs to God. Christ put himself in the position of the lamb, and became the ultimate sacrifice.

A vet bill is pretty measly, isn’t it?

Flashback Friday 2

Flashback Friday 2

During a recent visit to my oldest son’s house, he and I were trying to figure out what to have for supper. Both sitting on the couch, staring straight ahead, stockinged feet resting on the coffee table, we took turns tossing out and turning down ideas.

“Waffles would be good,” he said.

“Yep, waffles sound good.”

“Ehh, I don’t feel like making waffles.”

“Me either.”

Still facing the TV, he moved only his eyes to look in my direction. “Do you remember how to make your grandpa’s pancakes?” he asked.

I remembered – in general – nothing specific like how many cups of flour or teaspoons of baking powder. As his daughter raced by, as toddlers do EVERYWHERE they go, he shouted, “Hey Riley, you want pancakes for supper?”

She stopped dead in her tracks, “Pancakes?!” She squealed, clapped her tiny hands, spun on her heel and raced to the kitchen. Ten seconds later she was back with a bottle of syrup. Dinner plans were definitively decided.

So I called my sister.

“The 22-year-old and the 22-month-old want grandpa’s pancakes for supper,” I told her.

She was quick to give me the details I needed to complete my mission. But why am I telling you this, you wonder? Because it leads me to this week’s Flashback Friday post. The following column was first published in the Chester County Independent sometime in 1999. It was reprinted in 2000 in an anthology of devotionals entitled Treasures of a Woman’s Heart,and has a little bit to do with my grandpa’s pancakes.

Early Morning Whispers

I remember sharing the hide-a-bed with two other slumberers each time we visited my grandparents. All decked-out in our footed, fleece pajamas – blue for me, pink for Kerri and yellow for Jerri – my sisters and I would sleep two side-by-side and one across the bottom.

Early in the morning, before anyone else was up, Grandpa Walt would lean over the sofa bed and whisper, “Guyla, wanna have pancakes with Grandpa?” My feet were on the floor before my eyes even opened.

Very quietly in the little two-bedroom house my mother was raised in, Grandpa would brew himself a pot of coffee on the stove and whip up a batch of his famous pancakes. The first pancake or two off the griddle would go to our dog, Skippy, because as all great pancake chefs know, it takes a few passes with the batter to season the griddle.

Two golden, fluffy pancakes smothered in real butter and Mrs. Buttersworth later, I knew that I was the most important child on the planet, maybe even the universe.

I come from a long line of twins. Of five grandchildren, I am the “odd man out.” But I never felt that way. I always told people that I was the special one because I was the only “singleton” in the family. My grandpa had a major role in making me feel that way.

But I’m not the only one he made feel special with those pancakes. Decades, weddings and births later, all five of us still shout “pancakes and hamburgers!” when Grandpa asks what we want for supper. When one of us goes to visit our grandparents, the next time we see one of the others we say in our best “nanner nanner” voice, “I went to see Grandma and Grandpa and I got to eat pancakes.”

Yeah, that’s right, we’re all adults now.

Early in the morning, my Lord whispers in my ear, “Guyla, wanna spend time with me?” So often I blink and roll over or jump up and rush into my day’s activities. But when I do stop to open my Bible and read, especially a psalm or a proverb, I feel like I am the most important person in the universe.

God loves me more than my grandpa does. He doesn’t get up and make me pancakes, but He did give me the man who does.

He loved me so much, that He sent His only son to die a brutal death on the cross, and He would do it all over again – just for me.

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday

Today is the first installment of a new feature here at You Do You, Mama. On my About page I mentioned that I used to write a weekly column for the Chester County Independent during the late 1990’s. I was recently reading through some of them and thought it would be fun to dust them off and share them with a new audience. Being mostly Type A and a linear thinker, I originally thought I would post the columns in order of how they were first published. Unfortunately, I don’t have the dates of all of them. So instead, I decided to post columns as they appeal to me. Since I recently drove nine and a half hours from Torrington, WY to Junction City, KS with only one stop in Kearney, NE, I thought the following column would be appropriate. 

It has been 18 years since I wrote this. A lot has changed since then (I’m no longer married to my directionally challenged former mate) but as they say, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” I’m still trying to beat road trip records and friends joke about my iron bladder, but I do enjoy stopping for a great photo opportunity and a meal I have to eat with a fork. Oh, and I’m not sure the current generation is familiar with Rand McNally or map reading. It’s much easier to say, “Hey Google.”

Enjoy this flashback to 1990 something…

Road Tripping through Life 

It is generally accepted that women marry men like their fathers. This is not the case when it comes to my dad, husband, and road trips.

My dad’s time-tested rule is to point the car in the right direction and stop for one of three reasons:

1. The vehicle is traveling under the power of the final fuel fumes.

2. The driver’s bladder is about to burst.

3. The driver is suffering starvation-induced hallucinations. Even then, food is purchased in the drive-thru lane, unless rules one and two apply.

Dad and my sister, Jerri, once made it to Scottsbluff, NE from Memphis, TN in 17.5 hours. Their record progress was slowed only when Jerri, an honor graduate of the R.G. Greenly School of Cross-Country Speed Racing, was pulled over by a Nebraska State Trooper wishing to remind her of loved ones waiting at home.

My husband, however, tends to point his truck in the opposite direction and figure, “I’ll get there eventually.” He does not believe a Rand McNally sponsored map reading course falls into the theology department – he has been known to require 23 hours to cross Missouri. I have a friend who manages to make it to Oklahoma City, OK from Henderson, TN in about nine and a half hours. It recently took us 12 ½ hours just to cross Arkansas.

After 20-some years of traveling the nation with my father, I can travel hundreds of miles without a bathroom break, sleep in an upright position, and pack 900 items in a space designed for 10. After only six years of “road tripping” with my husband, I am still driven by the need to beat Dad’s Memphis to Scottsbluff record. But very slowly, I am learning to appreciate actually stopping to take a picture, browse through a craft shop, or eat in a sit-down restaurant.

My Heavenly Father has a different approach to traveling life’s highway. We do not need to put our trust in Rand McNally or pack those 900 items around. God promises to lead us in our travels and provide for us along the way.

The familiar Proverbs 3:6 states, “In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” Psalm 5:8 reads, “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness … make straight your way before me.”

In each of the four gospels, Jesus tells his disciples “take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff.” We don’t need to supply the stuff. God will meet our every need, and if we’ll listen, through His leading, we’ll get there eventually.

The First Four Dozen


Several years ago I was asked to speak at a women’s retreat. As I prepared, I realized that my life stages could be broken into twelves. Each of my four dozen years have been marked by a major life event.
My dad was in the Navy for the first twelve years of my life. He came home from six months at sea and couldn’t tell my twin sisters apart. Looking at my mom, he said, “a father should know his own children.”

The next twelve years were spent growing up in Goshen County, Wyoming. Another dozen years began the day of my wedding and ended the day our divorce was final.

This year marks the end of the fourth dozen years. I’ve spent the past twelve years as a single mom. I have now been divorced as long as I was married, and my youngest child has graduated high school and moved out of the house.

So here I stand. I’m on the threshold of a new era and feel simultaneously empowered and paralyzed.

Earlier this year I told a friend I was a little bit jealous of the 18-22 year olds that have frequented my home over the past several years while hanging out with my kids. They are young, attractive, ready to jump into their futures. Their whole lives are in front of them with endless possibilities. They have the excitement of falling in love, having their first child, buying their first home, and so many other milestones to look forward to. They can be and do anything they want. They are the authors of their own unwritten stories.

“But you are in a much better place,” my friend said. “You’re at the time in your life when you can choose to do ANYTHING, and you have the benefit of wisdom, education, and financial security. These kids envy YOU.”

My friend challenged me to read the book “Halftime” by Bob Buford, and to begin journaling and praying and asking God to show me what He has for me in the second half of my life. I’m feeling the restlessness that often accompanies a shake up in the status quo, but I don’t yet know what’s on the other side of this threshold.

My cousin told me I need to get in touch with my heart. His theory is that I’ve spent so much of the past twelve years being smart and doing what I HAD to do that I’ve lost touch with what I WANT to do. Now I’m able to do whatever my heart desires, and in order to do that, I need to feel rather than think what is important to me.

I told my son this. He said, “He’s right. You think too much. You want to get in touch with your heart? I’ll show you how to get in touch with your heart.”

He forced his toddler into my arms and said, “Riley, go play with your grandma. That’s how you get in touch with your heart,” he said with a pointed look.

Yep, the boy fights dirty. I have no idea where he gets that.

So I play with my granddaughter, I read books, I pray, I dream, and I try to get in touch with my heart. We’ll see what it comes up with…

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you do to get in touch with your heart. Please take a minute to share in the comments.

Best Laid Plans


“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Robert Burns

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15

Obviously I am not the only one who watches my good intentions flit on the wind like wishes blown from a dandelion.

Perhaps it’s perfectionism breeding inactivity again. Or maybe it’s just laziness. Whatever it is, it’s an excuse. I’m full of those -things I tell myself are legitimate reasons for not accomplishing my goals. Sometimes it isn’t enough just to be inactive and not complete a goal. Sometimes I have to go out of my way to actually sabotage myself and set myself back. I am especially good at sabotaging my weight loss goals, but that’s a different blog post.

Today I’m writing about my best laid plans for this blog already going awry. I started at the beginning of vacation when hope and excitement were high. My intention was to use my trip to really kick off the blog and write my way through a solo adventure in Ireland. I started strong, three posts in and then the excuses started.

I was tired after driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road where I didn’t know what was around each corner.

I didn’t have very good wifi.

My brain was too full from the excitement of the day to write clearly.


I wasn’t too tired after driving to watch American reruns on Irish TV. I had good enough wifi in one bed and breakfast that I watched a movie on Netflix. My brain was really full, but from that wealth of thought I wrote several blogs in my head while hiking around the Emerald Isle. I even took a few minutes after breakfast one morning to write four pages of bullet pointed lists of topics to write about. How hard would it have been to type one up while NCIS played in the background and upload it when I had a good wifi signal?

I am a creature of habit and even though I want to do things differently, I allow myself to do the things I hate like Paul wrote about in Romans 7. I start off strong, then wane when I’m tired and let the old habits reach out and pull me back into inactivity. The key is making sure the paralysis doesn’t become permanent.

So the plans go awry. Make a new plan.

So I do evil today and watch reruns instead of posting on my blog or getting in a good workout or flossing my teeth or dusting the living room. Do good tomorrow.

There’s nothing wrong with having good intentions. There’s nothing wrong with our plans going awry. It’s only wrong when we give up, when we stop trying, when our intentions are no longer good and we no longer make plans.

“Tomorrow’s another day.” Scarlett O’Hara

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” Conrad Hilton

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

On the Road Again

On the Road Again

I grew up a Navy brat. So that meant moving around. In fact, I attended three grade schools in third grade. You’d think that would make me want to stay put, but actually it created a wanderlust.  I like living in the same place, but taking frequent trips to see new places, experience new cultures, and have adventures. It’s soul inspiring for me to travel, and then I’m happy to come home and settle back into the daily routine.