Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Remembering Mr. Rogers


15 years ago today, one of the most beloved figures in the United States died. On February 27, 2003, Fred McFeely Rogers died of stomach cancer. If Mr. Rogers were alive today, we'd be preparing to celebrate his 90th birthday on March 20. Instead, we grieve at the ways our world is poorer without him.

This week, PBS stations across the country are playing back-to-back episodes of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Daniel Tiger. Even if we don't have kids, perhaps we should all set our devices to record some of these shows.

I was one of the lucky kids who got to be one of Mr. Rogers' neighbors from the very beginning. I was born in September 1963, so I was four and a half years old when the show debuted on National Educational Television in February 1968. I watched the show from the very first, and it quickly became my favorite. I didn't go to kindergarten, so I got to see lots of episodes before I began first grade. But I didn't stop watching after I started school, either.

I remember clearly one day when I was in second grade. I had been nominated for a small honor at school, and I, along with several other nominees, had to complete an interview with a panel of judges. One of the questions asked of us was "What is your favorite TV show?" There were lots of good shows on the air at that time, but I didn't have to think twice about my favorite. "Mister Rogers," I answered immediately (For whatever reason, I never called the show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood back then.)

All the other nominees laughed at me for that. They named popular nighttime shows like The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family and called me a baby for still watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. I liked those nighttime shows, too, but I wouldn't give up Mister Rogers, not even if other kids thought I was silly for watching it.

When I was in third grade, I asked for three particular items for Christmas: a Crissy doll with hair that grew, Barbie's Country Camper, and Mr. Rogers' Songbook. As you can imagine, Crissy and Barbie didn't last too long, but look what's still on my living room bookshelf, 45 years later:


Maybe by third grade I was older than the intended audience for watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. But I wasn't too old to absorb the lessons I learned there, to soak in the kindness and goodness that Mr. Rogers presented.

So I loved my songbook, singing along with such iconic tunes as "Won't You Be My Neighbor?":


And "It's Such a Good Feeling":


Fred Rogers, who studied music composition as an undergraduate, wrote these songs and many others. My favorite, though, was "Everybody's Fancy." Since I was born with a mild birth defect, I struggled with issues of self-esteem. Hearing Mr. Rogers say "Your body's fancy and so is mine" was balm to my heart.


There was something special about Mr. Rogers, for sure. And people who knew him or had the chance to talk with him personally testify that his television behavior was no act—he really was kind, caring, and wise. You can see a glimpse of that reality by watching this video:



The reality of Mr. Rogers' sterling character shouldn't be surprising, for Fred Rogers was a devoted follower of Jesus. Early in life he considered becoming a pastor, but he became fascinated with television and wanted to do something with that new medium that would be good for people's souls. But after he began working in the television industry, he entered seminary as a part-time student. It took him eight years to complete his degree, but he earned an M.Div. and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

In a March 2000 interview with Christianity Today writer Wendy Murray Zoba, Fred Rogers told a story of his most beloved seminary professor, Dr. William S. Orr.

"I studied Greek with him and then I studied New Testament with him. Every Sunday, my wife and I used to go to the nursing home to visit him. One Sunday we had just sung 'A Mighty Fortress Is Our God' and I was full of this one verse. I said, 'Dr. Orr, we just sang this hymn and I've got to ask you about part of it.

"'You know where it says—The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him. For, lo, his doom is sure. … one little word will fell him? Dr. Orr, what is that one thing that would wipe out evil?'

"He said, 'Evil simply disintegrates in the presence of forgiveness. When you look with accusing eyes at your neighbor, that is what evil would want, because the more the accuser'—which, of course, is the word Satan in Hebrew—'can spread the accusing spirit, the greater evil spreads.' Dr. Orr said, 'On the other hand, if you can look with the eyes of the Advocate on your neighbor, those are the eyes of Jesus.'

"I've never forgotten that. . . ."

"Every time I walk into the studio, I say to myself [as a prayer], 'Let some word that is heard be Yours.' The Holy Spirit translates our best efforts into what needs to be communicated to that person in his or her place of need. The longer I live, the more I know it's true," he says ("Won't You Be My Neighbor?" Christianity Today, March 6, 2000).

Fred Rogers never talked about his faith on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Instead, he did something far more powerful: he lived by faith, and he treated every person with the kindness and compassion of Christ. 

The gospels tell us that when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He answered: 
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (see Matthew 22 and Mark 12). 

In his new book (published posthumously), Life Without Lack, Dallas Willard talks about love of neighbor. Surprisingly, Dallas writes:

"First we must realize that we are not called to love everybody. We are called to love people, but 'everybody' is not a living, flesh-and-blood person (which is one of the things that makes the thought of loving 'everybody' so delightful!). If you are going to love at all, you hare going to love 'somebody,' not 'everybody.' To be sure, love is inclusive. God's embrace is meant for all people. God loves everybody, but God has bigger arms and a bigger heart than we do. . . we are called to love our neighbor." (Life Without Lack, p. 176)

At first I was taken aback by these words, but as I've reflected on them, I've realized that Dallas is talking about real love, an actual will to good, not a vague feeling of goodwill that we sometimes call love. This real love is exactly what Jesus demonstrated when he talked with people, allowed them to interrupt him, ate with them, and healed them. Jesus allowed real people into His life and loved them.

What made Mr. Rogers so special? He learned from Jesus to love his neighbors. Then, through the medium of television, he made hundreds of thousands of us his neighbors.


Fred Rogers was passionate about using technology for good. If he'd lived in the era of radio, no doubt he would have hosted a radio program. If he were alive today, he might have a Twitter account or a Facebook page. He might have a podcast or a blog, or he might post photos on Instagram. But one thing's for sure: he would do those things with the same spirit of neighbor love he demonstrated so freely on his television show.

What if we followed Mr. Rogers' example? Since the internet has brought so many more people to our doorsteps, what if we took the opportunity to consider them our neighbors, those whom we now have the chance to love? With the internet our neighborhood may now span the globe, but the wisdom of Fred Rogers—the wisdom of Jesus—is needed now more than ever, don't you think?

Jesus is alive today, ready to teach us to be good neighbors. I want to learn. Maybe we can learn together to make our online world a vast, loving neighborhood.

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let's make the most of this beautiful day
Since we're together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine? 
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please, won't you please?
Please won't you be my neighbor?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Grace at Home No. 287


Hello, friends, and welcome to the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

I don't know about you, but I've experienced all kinds of mixed emotions over the past 24 hours. Yesterday morning Billy Graham died. I am so sad that such a faithful man is no longer living on this earth, but I am also so happy that Dr. Graham is now face-to-face with Jesus. Just imagine how many people are welcoming him, people who came to faith in Christ because of his preaching!

We can't all be famous evangelists, but we can live our lives in faith. We can impart grace to one another. We can all be lights. Know what I mean?

Here are some links from last week's party I thought you might enjoy.

Paula from Virginia Sweet Pea created this wonderful kitchen art from her family's old hand-written recipe cards. What a wonderful way to preserve a special memory!


Andrea from Living on Cloud Nine re-did a powder room to be oh-so-glamorous! Check it out for lots of fun inspiration.


Many Christians observe the season of Lent, and some abstain from eating meat on Fridays. Marilyn from Marilyn's Treats has done us the service of publishing 10 ideas for meatless meals.


Pam and Butch from Everyday Living shared some wonderful thoughts about loving and being loved; you'll be so glad you read this!


As for me, I shared a much-needed organization project in my home. Here's what the cupboard under my bathroom sink looked like:


Can you believe that? I'd love for you to see how it looks now: click here to see my DIY bathroom organization!

A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about

  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!






Tuesday, February 20, 2018

DIY Bathroom cabinet organization


Isn't it wonderful how a new year brings with it the desire to get our lives organized? That's been especially true for me this year—since I'm writing a book, I don't have time to be disorganized!
But here's the sad truth about what the cabinet under my bathroom sink looked like:



That doesn't exactly look like the personal space of an organized person, does it?

To be honest, I was a little stumped about how to organize this cabinet, since I knew I couldn't add any kind of stationary fixtures that would block access to the plumbing. But just about anything would be better than the mess I had, right?


I started by removing everything from the cabinet and giving the interior a good wipe-down. As you can imagine, I threw away a LOT of what was in that under-cabinet mess!

With the items I had left, I realized I needed five different areas of storage:
  • travel bags I like to keep ready-to-go
  • large items that need to stand upright (e.g. cans of hairspray, bottles of peroxide)
  • medicines
  • skincare items
  • small haircare items
Your list might be different, but this was what I needed. Since my space is not very big, I decided to do 12" deep shelves on one side and pull-out bins on the other side. 

I started by buying 12" boards and painting them white. I recommend wood for under-sink shelves, since MDF will be ruined if it gets wet.

Next I created my pull-out bins, since those had to be precisely the size of my baskets.  I used these Sterilite Ultra baskets. I bought mine at Target; you can find also find them at Walmart or from amazon.com (affiliate link).


I measured my baskets to determine how wide this area needed to be, then cut two identical pieces of board to serve as side supports and one larger piece to go across the top of those two side supports. It's like a little table, really. Then I glued on small pieces of wood to serve as runners for the baskets, like so:

The baskets will simply hang on those side runners and pull partly or completely out for easy access.

Note that I couldn't place the right side support completely against the wall of the cabinet or else the baskets would run into the hinge. I simply placed a piece of wood on the right side so that the shelf unit has something to stand against.

For the other side of the cabinet, I made two shelves. The size of the shelves was determined by the space I had left in the cabinet after making the pull-out bins. The shelves were easy to create. I simply allowed the floor of the cabinet to function as one shelf, then built another little "table" of two identical side supports plus a board to lie across the top. The whole thing sits in front of the plumbing. It stays in place because it's pushed firmly up against the wall of the cabinet on the left side and against the pull-out bin "wall" on the right.


Every bit of these shelves is completely removable. None of the pieces is sturdy by itself, but when placed all together, it's firmly wedged into the space and is quite sturdy!



As you can see, I used another basket to corral some of my tall items. Under the tall items are my travel bags. I keep those bags loaded with toiletry items. Behind the striped bag is a quart-sized Ziploc bag with small containers of liquids. I try never to check luggage when I fly, so all my liquids must be in containers of 3 ounces or less.

I added Command hooks to the insides of the doors. One holds a washcloth that I use for drying my face after removing my make-up at night. It seems that I nearly always have a tiny bit of make-up left on my skin, so the towel ends up with make-up stains on it. I don't want to ruin my nice bathroom towels, so I use old white washcloth as face towels. This hook keeps one nice and handy. The other hook I use to hang my shower cap. (I only wash my hair once a week, so a shower cap is a necessity!)

So now I've gone from this



to this:


I breathe a sigh of relief when I open this cabinet now. Everything I need is at my fingertips, and it can all be easily removed when need be. 

Have you completed any good organizing projects lately? I'd love to see!

*This post contains affiliate links.
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I will earn a small commission. 
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I'm joining these fun parties:


Wow Us Wednesday


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Grace at Home No. 286


Hello and welcome! I'm so glad you're here for the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are some of my favorite links from last week's party:

Jenny from Refresh Living created a stylish, functional family office space for just $100. You'll love seeing all the details!


Colleen from Life on Kaydeross Creek shared some wonderful ways to use old books in decorating. I got some new ideas from this.


I'm trying to get better at meal planning, so I was really glad to see this post from Kelli at 3 Boys and a Dog: low-cost meals for end-of-the-month meal planning!


I always appreciate getting easy dinner recipes, so I was glad to see this one from Marilyn at Marilyn's Treats: Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas. Yum!


Pam from A New Lens touched my heart with her post "When Communion Comes." I think you'll appreciate this post!


As for me, I find that sometimes the perfect-pink-hearts atmosphere surrounding Valentine's Day leaves me feeling like a failure. If that's true for you, too, I'd love for you to read this post.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about

  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Tuesday, February 13, 2018

When you feel like a failure


My life isn't pink. Maybe yours isn't either.

But when Valentine's Day is upon us, it can feel as if we're the only ones not celebrating with all things pink, can't it?


And all the talk of love and sweethearts can make us feel as if we're short on the one thing that the whole world seems to proclaim is all you need.

A world bathed in pink and swathed in roses can make a person feel like an awful failure, you know?

When I want to know more about love, I turn to the passage of scripture that was read at my wedding: I Corinthians 13. I'll bet you've read it:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  

Love never fails.

And then I really feel like a failure. As much as I may want to exhibit that kind of love, I rarely do so. I wish I could say that I always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere, but I don't.

But oh, my friend, I have good news. That passage is not about me. It's not about you, either. Our failure is not the point.

That beautiful passage in I Corinthians is a description of God's love for us. The Greek word for this kind of love is ἀγάπη. Written in English, it's agápē.

That's not to be confused with the English word "agape," which, usually referring to the mouth, means "wide open, especially with awe or wonder"—but that's probably how you'll look when you realize the kind of love that God has for you.

It's a funny thing: we often quote verses like John 3:16, but we sometimes have difficulty realizing that God's love applies to us. But it does. God loves YOU, God loves me, God loves us all with a love that never fails.

That's the kind of love God wants to share with us. So that very same word, agápē, is listed as the first fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. The good news is that we don't have to manufacture this kind of love; the Holy Spirit will produce it in us. 

My friend Dallas Willard said it best, I think:

"We must understand that God does not "love" us without liking us - through gritted teeth - as "Christian" love is sometimes thought to do. Rather, out of the eternal freshness of his perpetually self-renewed being, the heavenly Father cherishes the earth and each human being upon it. The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate regard of God toward all his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core - which we vainly try to capture with our tired but indispensable old word 'love.'" (The Divine Conspiracy)

God is this kind of love (see I John 4:8), and God shares this love freely with us. We are not failures; we are beloved children of God. 

Now that word would make a good Valentine's Day treat, wouldn't it?
Much love to you!






Thursday, February 8, 2018

Grace at Home No. 285


Another week has zzzoooomed by! I can hardly believe that it's already Thursday, and time for our Grace at Home party. I'm so glad you're here.

Here are some links from last week's party that I thought you might like.

Carol at An Oasis in the Desert decorated her home for Valentine's Day, including creating a darling Valentine's themed tree from a leftover Christmas tree.


Want to add just one fun Valentine's day touch to your home? Chas from Chas' Crazy Creations made a cute Valentine's decoration from a simple glass block. Check out her post for the easy directions.


Shannon from Homemade Lovely came up with six alternative things to do to make Valentine's Day special. While she still enjoys flowers and chocolates, these ideas are fresh and fun!


Now that we're well into the new year, I'm determined to make some progress on some of my goals, including doing a better job of meal planning. Do you struggle with this, too? Leslie at From Playdates to Parties offers some very practical tips for meal planning.


And I think one of my first meal plans is going to include this yummy-looking casserole from Andrea at Living on Cloud Nine. 


Last but not least, I was inspired by reading about faithful waiting from Debbie Kitterman at Dare 2 Hear. I think you'll be inspired by this, too!


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about

  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Thursday, February 1, 2018

Grace at Home No. 284


February greetings! Can you believe that the month of January has already gone? Time really does seem to slip away more quickly than it used to.

I'm glad you're here for the Grace at Home party. Here are some highlights from last week's party.

Valentine's Day is fast approaching. If you want to add some Valentine's prettiness to your home, you'll want to check out the wonderful ideas from Laura at Decor to Adore.


Michele at The Scrap Shoppe Blog created these adorable LEGO valentines for her kids to distribute, and she's giving away a free printable for you to make your own. My boys would have loved giving these to their friends!


Lina at Sew Historically shared 25 Valentine craft, recipe, and gift ideas.


If you're like me, you may still have the January "organizing bug"--but I really like the year-long approach to getting organized developed by Shea at The Fogue Abode. She includes a printable to help you get your home decluttered.


I love getting new bread recipes, so I was delighted to see this No-Knead Cranberry Walnut Bread from Pattie at Olla-Podrida.


My spirit soared when I read Michele Morin's post about making a commitment to blessing. I think you'll like it, too.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about

  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!