Monday, April 27, 2009


"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:25, 33-34 (NIV, emphasis mine)

Worry. Is your life full of worry? Mine is!

My son, 4-and-a-half-going-on-thirteen, has been very giving in the area of worry. He loves to run, jump, and climb which leads to falls, scrapes, cuts, and many, many tears. I'm learning to wipe them away so that I can see where he is running off to next. Once, while at the county fairgrounds before the official opening of the fair, he decided to "play" in a broom closet. He failed to tell his father and I where he was going; we both thought the other knew where he was. Fifteen (long) minutes later we found him. He was a little dirty, but otherwise had no clue the ruckus he had caused.
A few months, and a new baby, later, we had to rush him to the emergency room after he had an allergic reaction to a nut product. I had to inject him with a shot of epinephrine at home before driving he and his four-month old little sister to the hospital.
My husband owns his own business. This means he works long hours and we never know when or where our paycheck is coming from. I know we are blessed to have such an opportunity in times such as these, but I daily have to go before God and say, "You are in charge! I don't know what's going on, so I trust that you do." He hasn't let us down yet.

This morning I was directed to the verse above, God's little reminder that "it's all good!" He takes care of the least of these -- the flowers, the birds -- how much better does he care for us, those he made in his image. I've heard it explained this way: God knows what we need. We are to seek (pursue with a passion!) his kingdom (his will for our life), and the things we need will be given to us.
We are to pursue God with a passion! Run after him! Love Him with everything you have! If I am running after God, I am not worrying about what I will eat for dinner tonight or if the clothes my kids wear are going to make through one more washing. If I am chasing after God, then he will take care of me when the bills are past due and I can change my name to Old Mother Hubbard.

I realize it is easy to say, "Do not worry." Jesus said it three times in this passage (also in verse 31), so this makes me think it's kind of important. Really. Do not worry. God already knows what is going to happen. Trust him to walk with you through it.

What are you worrying about today?
How can you or do you give it over to God? (Write it down, pray, talk it out, etc.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


"Haven't I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don't be timid; don't get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take."Joshua 1:9 (The Message)

Last week a very dear friend of mine was given some devastating news. Her life is forever changed. The one thing she keeps telling me is this: God has a purpose in this. I don't know what it is, but I trust in Him. As I watch her adjusting her emotional and mental attitudes daily, I am in awe at her strength and perseverance during this time of trial and heartache. She, admittedly, wants to crawl in a hole; but keeps going for the sake of her daughter and for fear of not coming back out.

I have been down into the Hole of Depression many times. Sometimes the light at the top looks like a speck of dust, and sometimes it appears closer, like the sun on a summer's day. And some days -- to borrow from a familiar phrase -- the light feels like it could be an on-coming train! As a Christian, I am told to "pray" about it. Christians are not supposed to feel "bad," they are supposed to be "shiny, happy people." No Lie could be further from the Truth. Christians are not inherently Good People. We are saved by grace, loved with mercy, and forgiven unconditionally.

The verse above was posted on the wall in one of the classrooms my church uses for Sunday school and small-group meetings. I took this version from The Message for two reasons: one, I love that two of the words are partnered with exclamation points ("Strength! Courage!"). He is not only commanding us to have strength and courage but to be strength (!) and courage (!). The second reason I chose this text was for the last line: "GOD, your God, is with you ever step you take." The GOD of all gods, my GOD, is with me every step. When I fall. When I turn the wrong direction. When I get sidetracked with my way instead of His way. When I fail. When I feel as if the world is against me. When I am frustrated and take it out on my family When the sun is shining and all is right with the world -- He is with me.

I pray you take comfort today knowing that no matter how deep or wide the hole is which you want to crawl into, His love is deeper, wider, and more infinite. He is in there with you, holding your hand, wiping your tears, loving you. And while you are occupied with finding a way out, he is molding you into who you are purposed to be.

Friday, April 17, 2009


"Love is a many splendid thing!"

Except when you don't have it or aren't in it or have been hurt by it.

Have you ever been hurt by love? We all have stories of pain and heartache. I know my parents love me. My childhood home is the one, safe place I can fall; but even they have done many things to (unintentionally) hurt me. My father is a recovered alcoholic, fourteen years sober. There were many dark years before his sobriety when I felt abandoned by my father. Whatever took his mind off of the need for a drink also took his focus off of me: marathon bike-rides, wood-working, working, eating, cooking...Through this, I know my father loves me, even if his ways are not always clear.

Which is why I am thankful that my Heavenly Father's ways are clear. In 1 John, chapter four, John tells us that love come from God. If you love, you know God; if you do not love, you do not know God. Sure, that sounds easy enough. Keep reading. God showed us he loved us by sacrificing his son for us, for you and me.

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." 1 John 3:16 (NIV)

As a mom, that is one hard pill to swallow. I struggle with the thought of giving up my child to save the entire world from certain death. That means anyone who has lived, is living, or will live. I struggle with giving up my own life! Daily I have to say to God, "Okay, here we go again. Please show me how to love like you love. Mold me and use me. Show me how to love on my (husband, kids, friends, strangers) today. "

So, really, you have not been hurt by love. No you have been hurt by __________ (name withheld to protect the unaware). True love, agape (unconditional, sacrificial) love, does not hurt. Agape love is the love of all loves. Love really is a splendid thing! You are LOVED with the love above all other loves. Love sacrifices, love protects, love trusts, love hopes, love perseveres, (1 Corinthians 13). If you are experiencing anything else in your current relationships, you are not "in" love. Love is not "in". Love is. Period.

How do you love? Is your love conditional or sacrificial?
How can you show someone (a stranger?) love today?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


My apologies for being both absent and inconsistent this week. When Monday morning dawned, I had an empty calendar and the promise of spring and sunshine. God had other plans (doesn't He always?).

On Monday, I had a friend ask if I could watch her eldest son for a few hours while she took her youngest to the burn unit in Portland. He had burned his hand at a family dinner the day before and needed a follow-up visit with a special burn-doctor to make sure it wasn't infected or worse than they originally diagnosed. He is okay with first and second degree burns, but has to have a bandage on his hand for a while.

Then, on Tuesday, another friend called asking for help. She had to go into the hospital and needed someone to care for her daughter for an unknown amount of time. "Absolutely, not a problem!" Twenty-six hours later, I said good-bye and collapsed into my easy-chair.

Today was back to normal, so I took the kids to the park for a little picnic and play-time. They have been so patient this week sharing their beds, their toys, and their momma. I often felt like a chicken-sans-head, and relied heavily on God's grace and strength to get me through. Even now, I am amazed at God's provision: allowing me to be a stay-at-home-mom to care for my kiddos, knowing the time and the place when friends would call out for help and making me ready and available, covering the entire week with grace and mercy.

This afternoon, while the sun is shining so beautifully outside, I went for a swim in the Word, and lapped up every drop, much like Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Augustus loved the chocolate so much, he just fell in, head first and got sucked up through the tube. Good stuff! The Word is just like that! Once you start you just can't stop:

Psalm 6:9
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.

Job 1:21
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."

Joshua 24:15
"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

1 Corinthians 16:13
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Do you see what I mean? Where do I start? With the chocolate truffles? The chocolate covered strawberries? Or maybe the river of flowing chocolate? Grace is amazing like that. It covers us, "abundantly" according to 1 Timothy chapter 1, "along with faith and love" because of Jesus Christ.

When I am tired and just can't -- can't cook one more dinner, can't tie one more shoe, can't change one more diaper -- God gives me a little nudge and says, "I AM."

Friday, April 10, 2009


Who believes what we've heard and seen?
Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?

The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.
We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,
on him, on him.

He was beaten, he was tortured,
but he didn't say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
and like a sheep being sheared,
he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he'd never hurt a soul
or said one word that wasn't true.

Still, it's what God had in mind all along,
to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.

Out of that terrible travail of soul,
he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
will make many "righteous ones,"
as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly—
the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch,
because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

-Isaiah 53
(The Message)

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends

-John 15:13
(New International Version)

My prayer is this: that you know Jesus Christ as your savior, your Beloved, your friend. I pray that you will claim Him as Lord over your life. I pray that you will know the sweet fragrance of His presence in your day. I pray you know that you were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139), with passion for a purpose.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


First, I owe you an apology. I wrote my last post without siting where I had taken certain text from. This was wrong on so many levels; but (especially!), as a writer, I should know better!

The first *, "'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!'" came from Ecclesiastes 1:2. This is King Solomon -- one of the richest, most powerful, wisest men of all time -- speaking. He had everything, but knew it all meant nothing without God. In chapter three of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon writes,
I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil -- this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

Wow. This man had everything, yet he fully acknowledged that God is forever. God is in control of it all.

The second set of * came from 1 Thessalonians 5:16, The Message. Michelle, from Taste and See, pointed out to me that we are not only to give thanks for all circumstances, but in all circumstances. I can be thankful for my children, and their precious little voices they use to scream at each other. With those same voices, they sing, talk, and giggle. And I am thankful I get to hear it all. Thank you, Michelle, for bringing this to my attention.

This morning I was perusing the book of Psalms. If you ever need a pick-me-up, read the Psalms. King David had some crazy stuff going on in his life. His enemies were constantly trying to kill him, he had an affair with a married woman, his children hated him...makes Reality TV look like Disneyland! Yet, David poured out his heart to God. He told him the good, the bad, and the ugly. No, not everything is pretty and praise-worthy. Psalm 13 starts, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?" Ouch! I can totally relate to that. There are times when I say, "Um, yea, God? Hi. Remember me? Little ol' me sittin' over here, miserable, just trying to figure out this thing-called-Life." I can think of many times over my life that I felt lonely and alone.

Breeze on over a couple of chapters, and you will find out just what God has been up to. In chapter eighteen, King David writes about how God reacts to our cries for help: "In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears." (Psalm 18:6)

God hears my cries? Even me? I cry out for help and God hears it, "into his ears." This isn't something God overheard one day. ("What is that noise?") This is sound going directly to the King himself. He hears. He knows. He hurts.

"The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry...He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me...He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." (Psalm 18:7,16, 19 emphasis mine)

Yes, God delights in you. You were made with passion for a purpose. You are loved. You are the blushing bride, the valiant prince. You are made in God's image. You are amazing and beautiful.

Whatever you are, wherever you go, you are loved, cherished, and desired. He delights in you. You are an amazing creation. Don't forget it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Don't you think that patience is one of those things that should be innate? We all have good and evil in us, yet most of us, thankfully, choose good. I wish patience could be one of those traits that I just "choose" instead of something I have to constantly remind myself to do.

After spending a week as a "single" mom (Grace and Mercy to all of you out there who do the single-parent thing on a daily basis!), I am ready to run away screaming. Today I tried to brave the grocery store, thinking that a trip out of the house would do us all a bit of good. I was wrong. My daughter didn't like her brother touching the shopping cart, which he was obediently keeping his hand on. He was asked, by me, to keep his hand on said shopping cart after launching his toy necklace across the store and then diving after it. (Cement floor? What cement floor?) By the end of the second store -- and about an hour of shrieking on her part -- I was ready to do anything to make it stop. Snacks? Nope, thrown on the floor. Threats? Empty, useless. Bargaining? Meaningless! ("'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!'"*)

Today is just one of those days. The sky is dark, my nerves are shot, and my patience is thin. The kiddos are sleeping. I am on my third cup of (decaf) coffee, and I've already made it through four Oreo cookies. I opened up my Bible, desperately searching -- but not really believing I would find -- something to give me a boost, anything to make the rest of the day more bearable. Can you believe this is what came up?

"Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live."**

Really? Really??

Some days I find it hard to be "joyful always." I know I forget to "give thanks in all circumstances." (Do you think He really meant all?) And I know that prayer is the last thing on my mind when all I want to do is make it out of the grocery store with all pieces of my mind, body and soul intact. All I want to do is sit and be still, as I am told to do; but so often my life is a race: how quickly can I shower, make breakfast, feed the kids, run out the door, get to _____________ in time to come back home for lunch, naps, and fix dinner. Should dinner be nutritious or delicious? Did they eat enough vegetables today? Why is it so quiet?

I came across a book last summer at a used book sale titled, "14,000 things to be happy about," by Barbara Ann Kipfer. The book is a list the author started when she was in the 6th grade and finally published almost twenty years ago. I love this book. If you ever come across it, please pick it up. You will be happy just owning it, I promise. This little book and the verse above cause me to pause and understand life's little oddities, little idiosyncrasies.

I am thankful for:
my children, who daily keep me gracious & humble
my husband, who provides for us so willingly and unselfishly
my friends, who love me despite my crazy thoughts & moods
my family, who grounds me
my home
books, which take me to my Happy Place
chocolate, which keeps me in my Happy Place
coffee, especially when enjoyed in the company of any of the above

Please don't misunderstand me. In no way do I want to minimize the importance of true thanksgiving. I truly am thankful for all this and so much more. This is where I start, with the little things, for it is the little things I pray for. I pray daily for patience, for grace, for peace which passes all understanding, for mercy and humility.

What makes you happy? What are you thankful for today? In what circumstances do you find it most challenging to be joyful?