Comparing Yourself to Others

Part One

When you begin ballroom dancing, it can be difficult to not compare yourself with other dancers.  When Dan and I started ballroom dancing, let’s just say, we looked like beginner dancers.  We were not smooth.  We most likely counted every beat.  We looked at our feet.  We were stiff.  We were quite clunky at best.  

With any skill you learn, everyone has to start somewhere.  It is always at the beginning.  It takes, maybe close to 300 hours of practice to show you know what you are doing.  Yikes!

At a few of Dan and my first dance outings, we had couples ask us, “Are you new to dancing?”  We were thinking, it must have looked quite obvious.   Dan and I would try to find a dark corner of the dance floor so we could practice our steps.  We would hide from as many dancers as we could. 

Then we would see a couple who have been dancing for years.  They looked amazing!  Wow!  They were so smooth.  They did so many cool dance steps.  All of a sudden, I would become even more dissatisfied with my dance skills.  I wanted to hide even more.  

I was comparing myself with them and it made our dancing not as much fun anymore.  

I knew to be more content with my own dance skills I had to remember:

  • There are all skill levels of dancers, some with natural talent
  • With hard work, you will get better  
  • The more time and effort you put into dancing-the better we will become
  • Remember why we are dancing

Focusing on Dan and remembering why I was there would help keep dancing enjoyable.  Even as a beginner. 

God’s Word-Galatians 6: 4-5

 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.


My Father’s Love

My Father’s Day Message

My dad’s name was LaVern.  He was a quiet reserved man.  I never doubted his love for me, even though he seldom used the words, “I love you,” to express that love.  I believe all of my five siblings would say the same thing.  Even though those words were rarely spoken, we saw and felt it in his actions for his family.    I remember a specific time, a few months before he died, a time when he shared his love for me.   My dad was in an extended care facility as he was taking rehab after a stroke.  We were having lunch together along with my daughter.  All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he said,” I love you. “ I almost fell off my chair.  I looked with wide eyes over at my daughter and she was also surprised at his words that day.  I will never forget it. 

Again, I felt his love even though the words were not spoken.  He showed us in many ways:

  • His attendance in my Jr. High basketball games-even with me being on the B-team. Watching my every performance as a Pom-pom girl.
  • His random giving of gifts-canna bulbs, tomatoes, a garage sale fruit bowl, his favorite candy (chewy fruit slices)
  • The tour of his garden to show  off the latest in blooms
  • The time he spent with his kids and grandkids

With his love came discipline.  In today’s world, some think discipline and love don’t go together.  People want the freedom to do whatever they want to. I am glad my dad had the love for me that he would discipline me as a child.  He knew what was best for me and loved me enough to show me.   He wanted me to know what was right and what was wrong.  He wanted to protect me.

I didn’t see at the time how discipline was a good thing.   It didn’t feel pleasant at the time, but it worked.   I would be shaped and molded to become the adult that he knew would be best.   I can look back and see how this has been a benefit in my life. 

I think of our Heavenly Father in the same way.  Discipline comes in the name of love.  He loves me so much that He won’t stand by and watch me self-destruct in my own sinful nature.  Sometimes He has to take His loving hand and guide me back to what is best for me.  Most of the time it is not easy.  God is there to protect me. He loved me so much that He sent His Son to save me and to show me the way through His examples and words.   This has shaped and molded my life.  He loves you the same way.  He loves us more than any earthly father can love his child, as hard as that may seem.  

I am thankful for my Fathers love!

God’s Word-Romans 8:28-28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

My Dad (LaVern)and I-1968

Come Dance With Us!

Ten years ago, Dan and I had the privilege of doing our very first all-day Marriage Conference.  It was in the spring of 2012.  It was at the church we were attending. This is where we started our 16-week dance ministry small group.

For our weekly class, we teach a lesson on a principle we have learned in ballroom dancing and how it illustrates what a Godly marriage should look like.  We then teach couples basic ballroom dance steps. 

For the marriage conference, we take those 16 lessons and put them into a one-day event.  We add dance lessons in the mix along with lunch and dinner.  Then as a finale, we have a cake reception with a playlist of romantic music for the attendees to practice the steps they learned that day. 

What Dan and I liked about the one-day conference is many more can attend a one-day event versus a 16-week class.  This especially works well for young married couples. 

We have to say, with this being our very first marriage conference, it was a success.  We had lots of positive feedback.  It was a lot of fun and you could tell the couples attending really enjoyed the day. 

What impacted me personally was the day after the conference.  The next morning, Dan and I were attending our weekly Sunday school marriage enrichment class. Many couples in Sunday School class attended the conference. One of the leaders in the class began to share about her and her husband’s conference experience. Her name was Shirley.  Shirley and her husband had been married for over 50 years.  She passionately spoke about making it a priority to have fun in your marriage.  “Don’t wait to have fun!” Shirley and her husband loved being able to dance together at the conference. Shirley began to cry and more was spoken on the importance of doing fun activities as a husband and wife. The tears and emotion in her words brought many in the room to tears, including me.  I knew we had touched on something.  We speak on many marriage-building principles during the conference.  I was not expecting that having fun in your marriage would be a strong message of the day.   But yes, this would keep your marriage close.  It would help you in all other aspects of your marriage. 

For a married couple, it is easy to put your relationship on auto-pilot. It is easy to drift apart and do your own thing. You can easily forget about doing fun things together!! Doing fun activities in your marriage takes time. It takes effort.

For Dan and I, this was a pivotal point in our dance ministry.  I felt the words of  Shirley pierce my heart that day.  Dan and I both felt the drive to continue with ‘Dance With Me Ministries.’ Each year that we teach a new class, we stand back and watch couples laughing together and enjoying getting away from the seriousness of life. It brings us joy to watch couples having fun.

We will begin a new 8-week ‘Dance With Me Ministries’ class in the fall of 2022. This is for any married couple who would like to add some fun to their marriage. This class will be Sunday evening from 6-8 p.m. We will meet at Isaac Newton Christian Academy gymnasium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

How about bringing some closeness to your marriage and to the God that created it. 

Please send an e-mail to with any questions you may have or to sign up for this year’s DWMM class.

Come dance with us! 


Flowers for Mom

It had been just over a year since my mom, Helen, passed away on April 27.  I have to say that I feel I have cried more tears this last year, than any other time in my life.  I sometimes wonder if I will run out of tears.  I miss her so much.  

Around 10 years ago, I met someone through my garden hobby.   She has since then become a close girlfriend and actually my neighbor.  I will call her MM.  

MM’s mom was also a widow at the time and was similar in age to my mom.  MM showed me through her actions ways of spoiling her mother.  Every week, MM would go visit her mom, a 30-minute drive and give her a large bouquet of flowers.  This was not your simple small Aldi bouquet, this was a large gorgeous multi-stemmed arrangement.   MM would take her mom anything she needed, plus more.  I thought to myself,  I could do that.  I want to spoil my mom.  She deserved all the love I could give her.

So it became a tradition for me to take my mom a bouquet of flowers, or a plant, and a yummy treat or anything else that would make her feel special.  I did this every time I went to visit.   She loved it.  This tradition became even more important as she was in an assisted living during Covid.   She needed spoiling.  She needed sunshine in her day.  Flowers have a way of doing just that.

When I was able to take her out of her facility during the Covid lockdown, I took a picnic to share with her in my car.  I would pack pretty picnic plates, cloth napkins, yummy lunch, and a thermos of coffee to have with our cookies. (She loved her coffee)   I would drive her somewhere scenic and we would enjoy our lunch together, even in January.   On our last outing, a few months before she died, I drove her up the Mississippi River to Bellevue Iowa.  I parked by the dam on the river and we enjoyed our picnic together. We watched 30-plus bald eagles diving for their lunch amongst the ice blocks. She felt special.  I didn’t know this would be our last outing together. 

So I have to say, I made the best of our time together-every time.  I have no regrets.   Thanks goes out to my friend  MM, for showing me how to go above and beyond to spoil my mom.  

Someone said at my mom’s funeral-isn’t it better to give plants and flowers before a person dies, instead of a flower spray or plant at their funeral?  Absolutely!

If you are fortunate to still have your mom, how about spoiling her with flowers this Mother’s Day or any day. It will bring sunshine to her day!

September 2020-Bickelhaupt Arboretum with Mom

What If?

What if God never sent His Son Jesus to this earth?  What if Jesus did not walk this earth to share the good news?  

What would our world look like without this miraculous event?  

With Easter being this Sunday, it made me ponder this question.  

I look around at the world.  It seems so hopeless at times.  The world is so full of our sinful nature.  Hatred, murder, stealing, lying, and cheating are all around us.   I believe the earth would not exist today without His love and mercy that saved us from our sinful selves.  We need Jesus.  

I was thinking of the days of Noah when there was such evil on earth.  Mankind could not exist with such sin.  God saved humanity from self-destructing. 

God loved us enough to send us Jesus.  Jesus showed us what it is to truly love our neighbor.  Jesus walked this life to show us truth and righteousness. Jesus gave us examples to show us it can be done.  He gave us His written Word so that we could see God’s heart.  Jesus came as a humble servant, then died for us the most brutal death, crucifixion.  He gave us His life so we could live with Him.  He then gave us the Holy Spirit so we don’t have to walk alone. 

Through my faith in Jesus Christ, I am forgiven.   I am glad God loved me enough to come into this fallen world.  I am thankful, I don’t have to say, What if?….

 He loves you too, right where you are at.  You don’t have to walk alone when you accept Jesus.

God’s Word-John 3:16- “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (ESV)

Don’t Go To Bed Angry

So we know that stepping on each other’s toes and making mistakes are part of ballroom dancing.  We also know this is a part of a marriage relationship. None of us are perfect, and sooner or later you will hurt your spouse.  Most likely on a daily basis.  


How do you react when your spouse makes a mistake?  Are you quick to forgive?  Or do you hold onto it, to try to hurt the other?  Do you let bitterness set in?  Do you go to bed angry?

 The longer we stew the longer it takes to heal.   God tells us not to let the sun go down with anger.  That means within 24 hours to make things right.  Praying with your spouse before you go to sleep will help with forgiving.  Have you ever tried to pray in anger? Ephesians 4:26-27

It has never been easy for me to say, I am sorry.” This has been a learning process for me, and practice has made it easier. I want to blame it on my stubborn German heritage. : )

Because we have a deeper emotional tie with our spouse, we can find it harder to forgive.  We are closer and most likely spend more time with our spouse.  Now that Dan works from home, we spend a lot more time together.  More time together=more time we offend each other.  Working with each other on imperfections will go a long way in a marriage. 

Questions to ask yourself?  How can I change, not how can my spouse change?  Are you perfect?

Couples that are still married have learned to forgive and move forward.   Unforgiveness keeps us in the past. 

God’s Word-Ephesians 4:26-27(NIV)

26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful

Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful.  It sounds like someone we would all like to meet.  They are perfect and say the perfect things that every husband and wife would want to hear from their spouse.  

Mr. Wonderful Sayings

  • Here you take the remote as long as I’m with you I don’t care what we watch.
  • You know, I think it’s really important that we talk about our relationship.
  • Let’s just cuddle tonight.
  • OOH, You look so beautiful in the morning
  • Hello darling, have I told you I loved you lately?
  • Did you have a hard day honey? Why don’t you sit down and let me rub your feet. 
  • You’re going shopping by yourself? How about if I tag along and carry your bags.
  • Actually, I’m not sure which way to go…..I’ll turn in here and ask for directions.
  • Yes Dear
  • You know honey, why don’t you just relax and let me make dinner tonight. 
  • Why don’t we go to the mall? Didn’t you want some new shoes?
  • You’ve been in my mind all day, that’s why I bought you these flowers. 
  • The ball game really isn’t that important, I’d rather spend time with you.

Mrs. Wonderful Sayings

  • Don’t feel bad honey, I forgot it was our anniversary too! 
  • You don’t need a glass, just go ahead and drink right out of the carton. 
  •  Oh… you’re watching a ballgame. Just stay right there on the couch and I’ll whip up some snacks. –
  •  I’ll finish cleaning out the garage honey, your friends are waiting for you to play golf. 
  •  You’re going out with the boys tonight? You’ve worked hard… Enjoy yourself. 
  •  A new reversible drill, oh honey it’s just what I needed! 
  • Don’t worry about taking the trash out. I can use the exercise. 
  •  It really doesn’t matter if you leave the toilet seat up, it makes it easier to clean. 
  •  You’re right, we don’t need directions, maybe you’ll find a shortcut.

Well, the truth about Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful is that they are not real.  They are plastic with cheesy grins.  They need batteries to say the right things. : )

They know the perfect thing to say, but that is not the reality in marriage.  Because we are human, we all will say and do things we will need forgiveness for.  

The true Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful are those husbands and wives who accept and love each other regardless of their faults.  Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful extend grace and forgiveness because they know all people make mistakes.  

Are you Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful?

 Smile and say, “ I forgive you. I love you.”

God’s Word-Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Steel-Toe Dance Shoes

# 2 Steel-Toe Dance Shoes

With Ballroom dancing, the more you practice with each other, the more you will step on each other’s toes. 

Dan and I have been teaching basic ballroom for over 12 years.  When we teach a new step we separate the gentlemen from the ladies.  Gentleman on one side of the room, ladies on the other.  Dan begins by teaching the guys their steps.  Then they repeat over and over again until it becomes more smooth.  Then Lori teaches the ladies part.  She shows the girls their steps and they practice over and over until smooth.  But at this time it is not dancing ballroom.  Ballroom is a lead and follow dance, with the husband and wife dancing together.  

So now the fun begins.  We put the gentlemen and ladies together and they try the steps they learned as an individual with their partners.  The learning process starts over again when they are putting each of their steps together as a couple. 

No one gets hurt or toes stepped on if they continue as individuals.  But when they try the movements as a couple, they start bumping into each other and step on each other’s toes.  They may even inflict a little unintentional pain on the other partner.  I always thought steel-toe dance shoes would be nice. : )

But if you want to continue dancing, there is no other way.  Stepping on each other’s toes and bumping into each other is part of learning to dance.

If we don’t extend grace and forgiveness to our dance partner the dance will be over.  

I have come to the conclusion that the couples I see on the dance floor have mastered grace and forgiveness.  

They will continue to dance. 

God’s Word-Matthew 6:14-15 NIV

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.


Take Me Around the Dance Floor-Part 4

com·​pro·​mise | \ ˈkäm-prə-ˌmīz  \

Essential Meaning of compromise

 a change that makes something worse and that is not done for a good reason

Even God-loving people can get off track.   They begin doing something (sinful) that takes them in a direction they never intended to go.  

When we compromise what is right in God’s Word, even something small, it can become a very big thing.  If we can’t be trusted even with little then how can we be trusted with anything?  

I think of a bank robber.  He didn’t start stealing from banks right away.  He most likely stole something little.  He got away with it and then it only escalated from there.  He was dishonest.  

In our marriage, we can easily go in the wrong direction that we never in our wildest minds thought we would.  Trust, honesty, and staying in God’s Word will keep your marriage going in the right direction.

Compromise, even small, is deadly.  

God’s Word  

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Luke 16:10-11



Take Me Around the Dance Floor-Part Three

Trust is an important part of a marriage.  Without it, it most likely will fail.  

How do we build trust within a marriage?  We build trust over time with our life experiences and prove ourselves to be trustworthy.  Are we honest with each other?  Do we do what is right in the best interest of our marriage?  

Can you share with each other your fears, failures, and weaknesses and not feel they will be shared with others.  

If we have each other’s best interests in mind and love each other, we will do what is right.  So what is right?  We are blessed to have God’s Word to show us how to be trustworthy, right, pure and honest in our marriage. 

Are we trustworthy with our finances?  Are we trustworthy in what we watch on the television or the internet?  

A good question I ask myself is, “Would Dan be okay with the decision I am making? Am I being secretive? Would I be doing this if Dan was standing right next to me?” Maybe that’s why I don’t take him shopping with me. : 0

Trust is an important part of a marriage.  Without it, it most likely will fail.  

God’s Word

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and a good reputation. Proverbs 3: 3-4