Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Dukes Lee’

control IGControl. Those who don’t have it, want it; and those who have it, want more. No one seems to want less control. But in reality, we don’t have the control we think we have, and certainly can’t hold onto it as we age. Control is a slippery and brutal beast. It will rip out your heart, even as you grasp at it’s greasy tail. Control will lure you with promises of riches, happiness, and popularity. But it’s a trap. Life is full of things we have no control over, and with no hope of gaining that edge.

For example, when I realized I was pregnant with my first child, I bought the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” An avid reader, I devoured the wonderful words of advice and information within it’s 300+ pages. What the author failed to mention: My kid did not read this book before he was born. All that I “expected,” all that I sought to control, went right out the window before the little bugger made his appearance. I should have seen it coming – my labor and delivery was epic…as in awful, unpredictable, and without a shred of control. Though David was a wonderful baby, he never wanted to go to sleep. Tried everything short of allowing him to scream all night.  I will not bore you with more stories of my beautiful baby boy, but it didn’t take long for me to realize who was actually in control, and it wasn’t me or Don.

Last week we visited Don’s sweet mom and saw the awful ravages of dementia. She has no control over what she can remember or who will take care of her. Those around her love her well, but there is no illusion of control for her.

As the end of 2019 approaches, I decided to share another wisdom tidbit.

If someone else says it well, you don’t need to try to improve it.

So, as I contemplate the topic of “control,” I decided to tap into the already-published wisdom of Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of the best-seller “It’s All Under Control.” Reading Jennifer’s book was very freeing for me, filled with wonderful insights into control, how to let it go, how to hang on, and how to give it all to God, the One who controls all things. Jennifer produced a thought-provoking printable about what we actually CAN control and I have it posted by my desk. May be time to print it again for the new year.

Can Control (1)

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Have you ever considered what you would do if you knew you only had one day to live? Would you celebrate all the blessings in your life with those you love? Would you call people to ask forgiveness for any offense or hurt from the past? Would you care what people thought of you? Would you eat your favorite meal? Would you take a hot air balloon ride or zip line adventure or sky dive? Would you sit peacefully waiting for the end to come?

One of my favorite songwriters is Ben Rector. He recorded a song called “Like the World is Going to End,” addressing some of these questions.

If we found out that the world 
was gonna end on Tuesday morning
What would everybody do
It’s funny how the thought of that 
can make something real important
And a lot of things pretty worthless too

The lyrics are poignant, the tune is catchy, but the thoughts I’ve had since first listening to it a few years ago have stayed with me. Read the lyrics of the final chorus:

‘Cause I’d be dancin’ like a fool
I’d eat ice cream every mornin’
I’d call up everyone I loved
And drive them out to California
And we’d say the things 
that we’ve been scared to death to say till then
Now that I think about it
Maybe we should always live like the world is gonna end

Today is Maundy Thursday. It signifies the last 24 hours of the life of Jesus. What did He do?  No big meal – just wine and bread.  No apologizing for wrongs done – He had no sin. No selfish adventures – he served and prayed and forgave. He ate one last meal – with those He loved but knew would abandon Him and the one person He knew would betray Him.


On Maundy Thursday Jesus knew He was headed to a painful, gruesome death. He knew He would be abandoned by friends and forsaken by His Father, yet He chose it anyway. He chose US anyway. Maundy Thursday – our opportunity to receive what Jesus offered on his last day. My friend Jennifer Dukes Lee provided this graphic to help visualize all that Jesus did for us BEFORE the cross. On his last night. At his last meal. With his betrayer.

On His Last Night

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“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.
Brown papered packages tied up with string.
These are a few of my favorite things.”

Everyone has favorite things. Mine change from day to day, week to week (well – except for the really important things, like my husband and kids). Seems to be a “thing” to blog about favorite things…so I’ll jump on the bandwagon.

Sweet and Spicy Tea. Since I’ve given up caffeine drinks for Lent, I’ve embraced herbal tea. I love sipping a hot beverage morning, noon or night, so it was imperative that I find a tea that I could enjoy at any hour. I found this one at HyVee and fell in love. I’ll probably drink this even after I take up coffee drinking again (ON FRIDAY!). The title describes this tea perfectly – sweet orange tangles with spicy cinnamon. Not too harsh, like some darker herbal teas. And no after taste either. Just really great flavor and I can get a couple of cups of good tea from one teabag. Score one for frugality.


Two of my current favorite things: Sweet & Spicy tea and “Peace Like A River”

Peace Like a River. A friend from work loaned me this novel by Leif Enger about three months ago and I have dinked around getting through it. It isn’t because it’s bad. It’s very, very good. This best seller from 2001 is “a heroic quest, a tragedy, and a love story,” the story of 11-year-old Reuben Land, who joins his younger sister and father in a cross country search for his outlaw older brother. The writing flows, the story is captivating, the premise is unique. I really like it – and I promise I”m going to get through all of it by next Monday. I promise. If I could only stop everything else I need to do and just read…

Brussels sprouts. (yes – it’s plural “Brussels” not brussel – I looked it up.) I’ve loved these little cabbages for years. But somehow now it’s “cool” to love Brussels sprouts so I order them as appetizers and no one looks at me in horror. In the last month, I’ve eaten them in three separate restaurants – all were great, though they were prepared differently every time. Don and I roast this veggie at home – trim off the bottom, cut in half, toss with olive oil, salt and paper and lay out on a foiled-lined sheet pan. Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Delicious!

C25K app. Yes – I’m back to training again for a 5K. I do it every year. I always take the cold winter months off. I have no treadmill and I will not run outside in snowy or icy or freezing conditions. It’s not that important to me. But once spring rolls around, I like to get back out on the trail. I’m not fast, but this app helps me slowly get back into enough shape that I don’t embarrass myself at an organized race. This year I’ll be tackling a 10K also so I especially like that the 5K app will progress right into a 10K app.

Jennifer Dukes Lee. A couple of years ago I discovered a book called “The Happiness Dare, ” written by an Iowa farmer’s wife named Jennifer. Soon I started searching my house for cameras because it felt like she had overheard my conversations, read my mail, and sat at my kitchen table. Though we’ve never met in person, I’ve been privileged to interact with Jennifer multiple times via social media and if there is anyone I’d like to live next door to, it would be this special woman. She’s vulnerable, talented, relevant, devoted, gifted, funny and beautiful, inside and out. I hope you’ll sign up to receive Jennifer’s blog or buy one of her books. She’s a best friend I haven’t met yet.

I know the title of today’s blog is Five Favorites, but I want to end with one of my favorite Scriptures. My husband is notorious for calling every Scripture he preaches on his “favorite,” but it’s true – the Word of God is so rich, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. Lately I’ve been taken with Psalm 62, especially verses 5-8.

“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. 
In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”



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I’m having a Monday. Yes, I know it IS Monday, but somehow this one seems a little more Monday-ish. Maybe it’s because I’m fresh off a couple of vacation days. Maybe because I’m trying to get through my emails, prioritizing which ones really are as important as they seem to think they are. No matter the reason, it’s true. Mondays can be rough. And my attitude shows it.


I’m noticing a trend recently. Bad attitude = bad day. Good attitude = good day. Easy math there. If I choose to smile before I answer the phone, the caller doesn’t seem to get on my nerves. If I choose to be helpful to a co-worker, I feel a little better about myself. Of course, stuff happens. Sometimes those callers are just plain mean. But instead of getting all whiny and grumpy, I can CHOOSE to be positive. It does take some intentional thought processes, but it can be done.

Recently, I’ve encountered an individual who complains about everything. (No, it probably isn’t you…this person doesn’t know I have a blog…probably wouldn’t recognize herself anyway). After trying to figure out a computer form, she called to get help…which was happily given. She was determined to find fault with the system. It couldn’t possibly be human error – it had to be a computer issue. Well, as you’ve probably guessed, it was human error. And once that was diagnosed (and fixed), she launched into a long diatribe on the evils of change, how valuable her time was, how terrible blah, blah, blah.

This was a wake up call for me. How often do I complain and whine about situations beyond my control? How many people have heard my sighs of frustration or observed my grumpy face? How often do I blame someone or something else, when I’m the one at fault?

If I’m to be a reflection of Jesus then I better get a few things straightened out. My attitude is at the top of the list. And I know I can do it. Through Christ, all things are possible. As my friend Jennifer Dukes Lee says, “We are not powerless. Great freedom comes when we let go of what we CAN’T control, and rise up to take charge of what we CAN.”

Can Control (1)



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Ever have a song stuck in your head? Or just a few phrases of a song? This one is in my head every Monday morning. The song is from 1966, sung by The Mamas and the Papas, and is so catchy that you can’t help but sing along…for a while. It’s a sad song, if you really pay attention to the lyrics, but it’s just so addictive.

Just try not to sing as you read these lyrics:

Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday mornin´, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Monday mornin´, Monday mornin´ couldn’t guarantee
That Monday evenin´ you would still be here with me
Monday, Monday, can´t trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday mornin´ you gave me no warnin´ of what was to be
Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me
Every other day, every other day
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
And-you can find me cryin´ all of the time


Did you find yourself crying this Monday morning? That Daylight Saving Time thing may have done a number on you. Maybe your weekend didn’t live up to your expectations. Maybe you’re facing a long week of hard work, or no work.

No matter what your Monday is looking like, there is hope. God loves you. He thinks you’re delightful. And you matter to Him.

Monday is just one day – don’t let it eat your lunch. Tell yourself the truth – you are fearfully and wonderfully madeyou are created in the image of God – God is always your fortress, your refuge, your strong tower, who will never abandon you. Tell Monday to chill –  you and God have got this.


P.S. Mondays aren’t nearly as difficult since I read my friend Jennifer Dukes Lee’s book “It’s All Under Control.” Some wonderful insights for control freaks, or if you think you have to be in control to be successful. You can purchase it at any of your favorite book places. One of my Top 10 books ever!

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Hello, long lost readers! I’m back. Once again, for the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to write a short (promise) blog for each day of Lent (minus Sundays – cuz Sunday is a day of rest and most Sundays, I’m pooped by the time I get home from church).

Today is Fat Tuesday. I’m not going to explain it because it’s easier to just use Google. Go ahead…I’ll wait. (tapping toes, humming tunes, taking a short stroll to get in my steps)

So by now, you also know that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the traditional start to the Lenten season. Once again, I’m not going to explain Lent so check it out on the search engine of your choice.

Lent is a season of preparation. Many denominations have their followers “give up” something for this 40-day period of time. I did that two years ago – I gave up some bad attitudes, behaviors, mindsets…see year 2015 if you are curious. Last year I “added” some things – good mindsets, food, routines, attitudes.

So what to do this year?  I’ve decided to take the 40 days of Lent and be intentionally grateful. If no one but me gets anything out of it, I’ll have accomplished what I set out to do…because truly, my blog is, first and foremost, for me. I need to be disciplined (at least once a year) and writing during Lent is my attempt.

bigstock-gratitude-37954498Intentionally Grateful – I’ve been greatly influenced in the last few years by author Ann Voskamp. Her book “1000 Gifts” caused me to write down my own list of 1000 beautiful gifts for which I’m grateful, but that was a couple of years ago and it’s time to revisit the discipline…because that’s what it is….I wish I was the type of person who was just naturally grateful, but I’m not. And you probably aren’t either. We take so much for granted. When I whine about my bad back (hallelujah – I’m healed!), I forget the years of great health I’ve enjoyed, and enjoy today. When I lament about being tired, I forget to rejoice that I have a job which pays me a pretty decent wage, tutoring students I enjoy, and a church family who loves and supports us.

In the last month I’ve read a book called “The Happiness Dare” by Jennifer Dukes Lee. I’ve tweeted about it, but Jennifer’s book (and subsequent Facebook book club), showed me that by increasing my level of gratitude, I naturally increase my level of happiness. She published a chart called “30 Days of Gratitude” which I’m going to use to direct my blog focus…starting tomorrow. Don’t hold your breath – it won’t be the best writing you’ve ever read. May even be pretty cheesy most of the time…but it’s my way of being intentionally grateful as I prepare throughout Lent for the greatest day on the Christian church calendar – the celebration of the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Now, that’s something to be grateful for!

See you tomorrow.


Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

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