Tag Archives: children

Donation Annoucement


I hope everyone had a chance to read last night’s post about shoes and the kids in Ethiopia praying for a pair of their own. If not, please take a few minutes to read it and share.

At the end of the post I said I’d count my shoes and announce how much I’m donating to the cause. So how many pairs do you think I have?

IMG_4886.jpgFrom ratty yard shoes to flip flops, slippers, snow boots, hiking boots, tennis shoes, sandals, shoe boots, ankle boots, cowboy boots, tall boots (can you tell I like boots?), flats, pumps, and all I counted a total of 65 pairs of shoes neatly organized in my closet. Are you surprised? Or does that sound about right?

Whether or not you decide to contribute to the shoes for Ethiopian children fundraiser, I’d love to hear how many pairs of shoes you have in your closet!

Now that we know the number of shoes I have, it’s time to announce how much I’ll donate to the cause. I’m on a limited budget while I’m working on a doctorate degree, so I can’t give what I’d like to. However, I am committing to $10 per pair of shoes for a total of $650. I’m headed to the site right now to complete my contribution. Will you consider joining me? Whether it’s a dollar or a $100, every donation helps. If you haven’t already clicked one of the two hyperlinks, click here to access the GoFundMe page.

Thanks Everyone!


Praying for Shoes


My second earliest memory, the first being the night my sisters were born, is restlessly roaming the aisles of a shoe store bored out of my five-year-old mind while my parents tried to fit the aforementioned sisters with appropriate winter footwear. Finally, Dad told me sit down.

“But what am I supposed to do?” I whined.

“I don’t know. Twiddle your thumbs!” he replied.

He lost his stern dad demeanor when I sat down on the red vinyl bench in the children’s shoe department and while swinging my feet, began twiddling my tiny thumbs. He’d underestimated the value of a Sesame Street education.

Eighteen years later I walked into a bridal shop, pointed to a pair of white satin kitten-heel boots and said, “I’ll take those! Now let’s find a dress to go with them.”

IMG_4709Shoes are closely tied in my mind to endless memories. I remember the pointy-toed cowboy boots a family friend bought me in Nebraska.  Little did he now the culturally unique footwear would nearly get me beaten up in my Norfolk, Virginia elementary school. By high school I was living in the Wyoming/Nebraska Panhandle populated with generations of my family. There, I fit in with popular 1980s footwear such as the light blue jellies I wore with dresses to church and the white, untied high top tennis shoes I wore with jeans to school. I still have the first thing my mother-in-law ever bought me – an oyster colored pair of Justin lace up ropers. Twenty-eight years later I still pull then on for rodeos and state fair. I had the leather loafers my daughter made me get rid of when she was in high school and deeply concerned with my cool factor, but I still have her favorite gold glitter shoes she wore nearly every day of her third year of life.

During a recent Strategic Partners’ Conference of Horizon International, Inc. I poured over the prayer requests from our African partners. I was struck by a request from Tamrat and Mulu, project managers of Life Center in Addis Ababa and Sekota, Ethiopia. They are requesting $5,750 U.S. dollars for shoes for orphans they serve through Life Center. They are praying for the opportunity to purchase school shoes and everyday shoes for these kids. As I wrote out my prayer for the work of Life Center I penned, “God, it seems so strange to pray for shoes.”

I have never needed a pair of shoes. However, I have frequently wanted shoes, and usually gotten them. In fact, the day before I attended the conference, I had taken a photo of a new pair of moss green shoe boots, posted it on Facebook and told my fellow fashionistas how excited I was to break in my new boots at the conference. I have never prayed for a pair of shoes, never been restricted from attending school for lack of proper footwear, never cried at night over cut, bruised feet, lost toenails, or broken toes.


Florence from Uganda has. During the conference she shared the memory of receiving her first pair of shoes when she was 11 years old! The shoes where hand-me-downs from another orphan. Florence’s husband Herbert shared the memory of a young Ugandan boy receiving his first pair of shoes and going to bed that night with the shoes wrapped up in a blanket and tucked under his arm.

The soles of shoes protect the soles of our feet and keep them warm and safeguarded from stones, glass, burs, and other flesh damaging objects. Proper shoes prepare us for the environment and purpose – hiking boots, running shoes, dance shoes, even shower shoes! But shoes also touch our souls. They bring us happy memories and help us feel stylish, well-dressed, and well-cared for. For Florence and others who pray for shoes, finally having their prayers answered assures them God is listening.

I have the opportunity to visit Life Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia October 31, 2018 along withHorizon CEO Bob Pearson, a fellow Horizon board member, and four other committed supporters of Horizon and orphan care. While there we will meet some of the barefoot children praying for shoes to protect their soles and allow them school attendance. With your help, I would like to also touch their souls with the promise of the funds they need to purchase these shoes.

Watch for a vlog post tomorrow showing all of my shoes and announcing the amount I’ll donate per pair. In the meantime, if you’d like to contribute, please click here.


Flashback Friday 9

Flashback Friday 9

It is so interesting for me to dig back and reread these 20-year-old columns. It’s fun to be reminded of the things my kids were saying and doing, and to recall my own struggles and fears and know how far I have come. The first fear expressed in this column from 1998 is fear of speaking in public. Now, as a public speaker, I don’t even remember having that fear.

But some things stay the same. At the end of this column, I quote Psalm 27:1 and call it my mantra. A few short months ago, I started my first doctoral level class. We were asked to share a scripture that would help us through the obstacles to come in this four-year intensive online program. I shared the same verse that gave me courage when I left home for the first time, when I became a parent, when I went through divorce, decided to leave a secure job for the unknown, and now embark on earning a doctorate.

I hope you enjoy this flashback. And please, share in the comments what helps you move through your fears to find victory on the other side of the battle.

A Child Shall Lead Them

I’ve heard it said that children “inherit” their parents’ fears. If that is true, the real Geoffrey Taylor and Jeanna Elizabeth Alexandra Cooper probably will become subjects of a switched-at-birth-made-for-TV movie.

So far, my children show no signs of fear of speaking in public. At a recent trip to the doctor’s office, 3-year-old Geoff kept the entire waiting room entertained with tales of “The Magic School Bus,” “Kratt’s Creatures,” “Arthur,” “Bananas in Pajamas,” and “Barney.”

They show no concern for what others may think of them. Last week 23-month-old Jeanna walked up to a stranger in the bank and informed her, “I’m Jeanna. I’m pretty!”

Financial worries are alien to them as Geoff begs for Matchbox cars from “the Wal-Mart Car and Gum Store,” and Jeanna continues in her baby adopting endeavors.

Fear of bodily harm completely surpasses them as their fingers and toes web together and gills sprout behind their ears.

As they perform somersaults and mid-air flips, jump from counter tops and slide off of desks.

As Jeanna shouts, “Higher, higher,” and pumps her legs in the “wing.”

As they hug, kiss, and pat every dog, cat, lamb and goat they see.

At the end of eighth grade, I had my first “panic attack.” I stood in front of the “enormous”Torrington High School and begged Christ to return before I was forced to encounter such fearsome obstacles.

I was certain I’d be taken up in the rapture before I had to face the frightful four – high school, college, marriage, and childbirth. In just 11 years, I succeeded in all four, and the only downside has been those extra 30 pounds I still blame on my children.

Before I left home for a large college in Florida, I discovered a verse that has become my mantra. Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

My husband and I tell the kids that they have nothing to be afraid of because God and Jesus always are with them and protecting them. God says “fear not; for I am with thee,” (Isaiah 43:5a).

Maybe Geoff and Jeanna have more to teach me in some areas than I have to teach them.


Sad, But Not Broken

Sad, But Not Broken

I was there when she first wriggled her little embryonic toes. I felt her first attempts at somersaults as she safely floated in warm amniotic fluid. I was there when she took her first breath, took her first steps, said her first word. I was there for the first lost tooth, the first haircut, the first day of school, the first blush, the first boyfriend, the first job.

But I wasn’t there when she first pledged herself in marriage.

My 21-year old daughter decided to get married on a Friday night. Just her, her boyfriend of two years, and two of their friends. No parents. No grandparents. No siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, life-long friends.

I wasn’t excluded from this momentous occasion because we aren’t in relationship. It wasn’t because we had a fight or because she was bullied into it by her new spouse.

They both have a bit of social awkwardness, and they are both very private about their relationship. They don’t hang all over each other, make others nauseous with their googly eyes, or post private moments on social media. For months, they had been saying they just wanted to do a small, private ceremony. Because they didn’t want to hurt their parents, they were trying to accommodate. Once they made up their minds to get married, they wanted to do it right away. Their original plan was to do a small ceremony in my backyard with just parents and grandparents, to be followed by a reception in a few months, allowing everyone to coordinate their schedules. Finding a time that worked for even this small group was proving frustrating for the couple.

So, I removed myself from the equation.

I gave her my blessing to get married without me there to witness it. Her grandparents are hurt and angry. My mom told her I didn’t deserve to have my heart broken. When my daughter asked me to respond to this I told her she knew there would be repercussions for her decisions, that I didn’t understand the need to get married so quickly and have an after-party, but that because I love her, I had decided to give her the gift of removing myself from her stress. That gift, however, did not come without a very high cost. I told her I was sad, but not broken. I’ve been broken before, and this is nowhere near the same.

Sure, I sat on my couch that night and cried for hours. I recalled her standing on the kitchen counter counting, “one, foo, free!” as her brother stood yelling, “Jump! Jeanna, jump!” and I caught her two-year old body in midair. I remembered her in a tiny pink tutu taking control of the 3-year-old dance class, “I’m Jeanna and I like pink and purple. What’s your name and favorite color?” I thought of her taking four years of Junior ROTC in high school, winning Best Female Athlete and being asked by Marine recruiters to come and teach their female recruits how to do proper pullups and pushups. And I thought about her always standing up to and for her older brothers, as well as spending months in Africa ministering to orphans and graduating college as a certified welder.

She is a strong woman. This is a person who has rarely taken the path society expected of her. So why would I expect her nuptials to mirror everyone else’s? Besides, how many times have I expected God to remove Himself from my plans so I could have what I wanted? How many times has He taken a step back and allowed me to work it out on my own while He lovingly stood ready to listen and lead? And while I was weeping about my momentary sacrifice of love for my only daughter, I remembered that my sacrifice is pale and paltry in comparison to His sacrifice of His only son for our eternity.

So, I dried my eyes and I prayed for her, and for her new husband. I asked God to protect them, to bless them, to teach them, and grow them in strength and honor and commitment. Because even though I was there for so many of her firsts, God was there for her befores, He was there for her marriage vows, and he’ll be there for all of her todays and afters.  He loves her more than I do, and He has sacrificed far more than I. If I’m willing to trust Him with her eternity, I have to trust Him with her todays.

Flashback Friday 6

Flashback Friday  6

Hello my handful of readers! I know it’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything, but that is about to change. I hope you’ll enjoy all new Flashback Friday posts sharing columns I wrote back in the 1990’s for the Chester County Independent and start looking forward to regular posts on Tuesdays. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe to the blog and share with your friends.

Now, for this week’s Flashback Friday…

I was out picking chokecherries the other evening, enjoying the cool breeze right before the sun began to set. I stood on tiptoe, reached with my left arm far above my head, grasped a branch and bent it toward my right hand, and remembered the times when I would pick blackberries with my family. This memory reminded me of one of my earliest columns…

Picking Blackberries with God

Many People believe that children are unable to understand the concept of God. After all, few adults really grasp the realities. Jesus told His disciples that it is best to have the faith of a little child. Obviously, we adults don’t give kids enough credit.

The last time my sister called, she asked my 3-year-old son, Geoffrey, what he’d been doing. Around a mouthful of blackberries he said, “us been picking blackberries with God.” A couple of days later we were again picking blackberries and Geoff looked up at me and said, “God’s pickin’ blackberries with us.”

Another popular Geoffism is “God sleeps with us and keeps us safe with monsters.” Every time he says it, he says “with” monsters, not “from” monsters. That’s a pretty important concept. The Bible tells us that God will deliver us from all evil. It never says He will keep the evil away, only that He will protect us through it.

Nearly everyone is familiar with the 23rd Psalm, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” (verses 4 and 5). Even in death, God is with us. In the midst of our enemies (monsters), God sets us up at the head tables and fills our cups to overflowing with love and protection.

My sister and her family will be visiting us next week. We’ve been asking Geoff what he will do with his cousins. He says “Jordan and Geoff throw rocks in the mud and pick blackberries with God.”

Whatever it is we’re doing, picking blackberries, throwing rocks, or sleeping with monsters, God is with us, keeping us safe. God promises, “Lo, I am with you always.”

No one has ever told Geoffrey that. I guess he already knew.