Clare Marlow

Clare: obsessive watcher of shore birds who loves spending hours shopping online for things she’ll never buy

How to Fake Clean a House

How to Fake Clean a House

“We’re going to be in the neighborhood and thought we’d drop by” are words that strike panic in the hearts of many us. “Nooooooo!” we cry inwardly as we survey our cluttered counters and toy-littered floors and dusty tabletops. Our blood pressure rises and we start to hyperventilate as we realize we cannot possibly clean to perfection before the doorbell rings. But cover our tracks – that we can do. Here are a few tried but true tricks to making a house look tidy enough to get by when guests are welcome but completely unexpected: 1. Pile it up. Scoop the toys into a pile or basket – any corner or container where they can be corralled in as little space as […]

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The Don’ts That We Do When Others Are Hurting

I was at church one Sunday, about a year after my husband died. I freely share that I rarely escaped a service sans tears. Every week I sat in the same sanctuary, same side, sometimes even the same seat, where I planted Sunday after Sunday with my husband, whose skin I could still feel beside me. Periodically, the tears were so abundant (read uncontrollable) that I would escape to the bathroom mid-sermon to just sob them out. On this particular Sunday, I was once again recovering from my failure to control my emotions, feeling pretty raw and down. Someone from my church ripped me a new wound as we walked out the front doors into the sunshine and she proclaimed, “You just

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Be Imperfect Be Inspiring

Be Imperfect, Be Inspiring

A girlfriend and I accompanied our daughters, Julie and Amanda, on an eighth grade class trip to Universal Studios a few years ago. We had a blast, giggling together late into the night and bravely tackling every roller coaster with the girls. On our last day, we took a final wild ride on Fire & Ice, where we had been instructed to sit on our flip-flops so we wouldn’t lose them when we went upside down. As we tumbled dizzily out of our seats with our comfy rubber sandals in hand, Julie suddenly proclaimed, “Everybody has shoes!” She had looked around and discovered most of the other riders also had been sitting on their footwear. However, her mom and I thought she

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I Know My Man But Do I Understand Him

I Know My Man, But Do I Understand Him?

I saw this YouTube video the other day about an engineer who works with a bunch of prank-playing welders. They created a “backward bicycle” with a front tire that turns the opposite direction of the handlebars and challenged him to ride it across their workshop. The engineer, like most of us who learned to pedal at age 5 or 6, figured he could instantly master the bike. Instead, it took him eight months of daily practice before he could stay on the bike for more than a few seconds. He was a young guy and a public speaker to boot, so of course the video was super cool and fun to watch. But it was a few little words in the middle

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When Your Daughter is Fatherless

When Your Daughter is Fatherless

I went to church for many years with a single mom whose two sons grew up alongside my daughter through middle and high school. My friend had divorced when the boys were very young and left their uninterested and uninvolved father on the other side of the country. Her boys, like my daughter, were very active in their youth group at church. They had Bible study with other guys their age on Sunday mornings, attended a large and vibrant youth group on Wednesday nights, and were involved in weekend retreats and summer camp. They had awesome men for their small group leaders, and a great male youth pastor, all who filled the gaps left by their dad. Those men, year after year,

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What I Learned About Love From Death

You never know who will teach you about sacrificial love. I learned about it most when I lost the love of my life. I got a call that my husband was dead around 1 p.m. on a Saturday. By 1:30, my house had started filling with friends. It stayed that way for hours. Close friends, friends from church, pastors, neighbors – they showed up to hold me as I tried, sobbing and bewildered, to navigate those first few horrible hours. The couple who were our best friends drove me 3 ½ hours that night to pick up my daughter, who was camping with friends. We got home at 3 a.m. That’s genuine love. Friends were at my kitchen table when I crawled

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