Alexa the Great

I love planners, ball point pens, highlighters,

to do lists and anything that gives the illusion

that I’m getting my life together.

We were given an Echo Dot for Christmas. I was thrilled. Finally, someone I could boss around who would actually do what I said.

“Alexa, put baking soda on the shopping list.”

“Alexa, what appointments do I have today?”

So much fun — an order goes out, it is filled! All is right in the universe.

Then I found out we may have gotten a remedial model. It can do basic math, “Alexa what is the square root of 4,543” “20,638,849.” However, if I ask, “Alexa, if a train leaves the station traveling 70 mph and a second one leaves the station traveling 108 mph, how soon will they overtake each other?” I get, “Sorry, I don’t know that.” Makes you wonder how you’re supposed to be your kid’s hero helping them with math homework.

I’m not complaining, it does everything I really want it to. However, I have to say, a smarter version would be handy when we play games, which we do a lot.

Recently, we were playing “Joe Name It. If you’ve never heard of it or played it, let me explain: it’s a Q&A game that asks random questions such as “List six bands with only one number-one hit.” Yeah, like I, or anyone at the table, knows that. When it stumps the person whose turn it is to answer, everyone else scrambles for their phones to find the answer — our rules are pretty lax. If the person whose turn it is doesn’t know the answer, it’s every-man-for-himself to be the first one with the correct answer and get the point.

So when the Echo debuted at our house, I was excited thinking of the help with immediate answers  without all the fuss. To check it out, I gave her a starter question, “Alexa, list the bands with only one number one hit.”

And got “Sorry, I don’t know that.”

So I simplified it, “Alexa, list a band with a number one hit in 2017.”

And got “Sorry, I don’t know that.”

Now, I’m back in familiar territory: “Sorry, Mom, I don’t know that”; “I didn’t see it”; “I don’t know where it is”…  I can get that from my kids, who needs an Alexa?

Seriously, though, this gadget is a godsend for every busy woman. The best feature is it only requires speaking, something moms are exceptionally good at doing. You don’t need to find a paper; then look for a pen. Watches, phones or walking to the oven to set the timer is unnecessary.  Just say what you need; “Alexis put milk on the shopping list,” “Alexa is it going to rain today?” Alexa, set the timer for 15 minutes”. I especially like the list feature. I have a Shopping List, a To-Do List, a Costco List.  At Winco, I bring up the shopping list on my phone, deleting each item it as I place it in the cart. No more turning the car around at the corner because I left the list on the counter. Of course I may have to still turn it around to get my shopping bags, but that’s another problem that Alexa doesn’t have a cure for.  Except, maybe if I said “Alexa ask me if I have my shopping bags in ten minutes,” I could avoid that error too.




I’m really not interested in giving advertising to any company. However, I have been “roped?” into trying a new eating plan. I was blind-sided by my kids, who apparently are concerned about their mother’s habit of eating like I’m a 14-year-old boy. Just to give you an idea of how well-founded their concern is: fast food is a favorite of mine.

My aversion to diets, eating plans, cleanses, etc, stem from watching my friends and family try all the newest eating fads but once the plan has run its course, they return to their previous unhealthy habits, until the next craze comes by. I see it as too much effort for something that doesn’t result in a life-long change.

So tomorrow I join their pack and say goodbye to all my unhealthy eating and begin to act my age at the dinner table. I know I must to go into this with the right attitude or I will simply be making the motions without changing my heart and mind for a healthy overhaul. And why would I deny myself what my mind and habits insist are delicious for 30 days only to return to old habits immediately after? I’m not looking to placate my family; I’m looking forward to hopefully saying goodbye to aching joints, insomnia, and a plethora of other ailments.

So Hebrews 12:11 will be my watchword: “All discipline is painful for the time but it later yields the peaceful fruits of righteousness.” And you will be my accountability partners, praying and encouraging me to keep on the path.

If you have been contemplating a change in some habit you have struggled with, now is a good time to join me and mark your progress for the next 30 days. If you want to drop me a line, I will add you to my prayer list each morning.

So tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning.

Two Prodigals

I give thanks to my older daughter for her post for Blossom Ministry and allowing me to post it here:





Confession time. I can be a very judgmental person. I’m not proud of this. It’s something I’ve been aware of and working with God on for years and just when I think I’ve rooted out a major source I find another pocket full.

Take the story of the prodigal son for example. I suppose many people identify with this wayward young man and to be sure, when I need to repent, I’m grateful that my father is waiting at the end of the road for me with arms wide open. But when I read this story I often find myself judging the prodigal. What a selfish man, I think. How could he act like that? What a screw-up! Asking for his inheritance before his father was dead was literally wishing his father WAS dead. Demanding his portion before its time was irresponsible.

It’s only been recently that I’ve wondered…aren’t there really two prodigals? Wasn’t the older son just as unappreciative of what he had as his younger brother who took off? We focus on the obvious narrative of the “prodigal son” but there is much to be gleaned by reading between the lines of the story of his older brother.

Who was the older brother? I assume he was like myself, also an eldest child: confident, responsible, organized, dependable, and…self-righteous. The older brother followed the rules. Did what was expected of him. Colored inside the lines. And he picked up the slack left abandoned by his younger brother. It isn’t hard to imagine the judgemental thoughts he had. Toward his younger brother. Toward the situation left to him or manage. Toward his father. Fill in the blanks.

And imagine his head literally popping off when his younger brother comes slinking back and their father THROWS A PARTY FOR HIM? Are you kidding me? It looks like his indescretions were unwarranted of any punishment! How DARE he get the fattened calf? How dare he be…gulp…forgiven! When he SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.

This is the rub for me. As I put myself in the older brother’s shoes I realize how often I consider this a devout family. A religious family. A Christian family. And therefore the younger brother is someone who should have known better than to act the way he did. I look at people who are supposedly believers making decisions that cause the Father pain. All the while I feel justified in judging them, pointing fingers, shaking my head. I am the older son. Supposedly toeing the line and surrounded by other Christians who slack off. Wow. Just. Wow.

Am I the only one airing my dirty laundry here? Tell me you think of other Christians the same way. Don’t leave me hanging out here! Seriously…if the “younger brother” is an unbeliever it’s more understandable when he does something inappropriate. A “sinner” who sins. What a shocker. But when the “younger brother” is a fellow believer? My expectations shoot WAY up. The bar is set higher.

Thankfully the Father forgave the older son for judging the younger. For propping himself up as the obedient one all while harboring resentment in his heart. For lashing out in anger at the party. For pouting in the corner for all the unfairness. For being stubborn. The older son needed to “come home to the Father’s grace” too. This is me. Learning to focus on my own walk with God instead of meddling and judging where anyone else is…believer or not.

The story of the prodigal son is a misnomer. There are 2 sons. 2 Prodigals. Both in need of forgiveness. Both in need of kindness. Both in need of humility. And both accepted home and rejoiced over by their loving Father.