Wednesday, June 1, 2016


I know this has probably never happened to any of you, but I am constantly having to give myself reminders.  At home, my husband can ask me for something in one room, by the time I go into the next room, I’ve forgotten.  At work, I’m walking down the hall and someone asks me for something – I ask them to email me because, in all likelihood, I’ll forget by the time I get back to my office.

Now part of this are the number of details in life that we are juggling, and part of it is that usually our attention is someplace else when people are talking to us.  But I know that there is a focus issue that I need to work on.  There is a guarding of my thoughts so that I don’t go down futile rabbit trails.

When I think about my focus, sometimes the thing I need to guard isn’t only the topic of my thoughts, but the direction of my thoughts on that topic.  Recently there was a situation that caused me to question motives, caused me to start down a negative road of thoughts about an individual whenever the situation came up.

About a week ago, I randomly read the following scripture, and when I looked at my Facebook memories for that day, I had read the same scripture exactly 4 years earlier.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” -Philippians 4:6-8
God is so faithful to remind me to keep my focus on the good things, the good aspects, the noble things in people and situations.  What does this scripture say?

It tells us NOT to be anxious, but to pray about every situation.  It tells us that THEN the peace of God will guard our hearts.  It tells us that this is something that bypasses our understanding and goes straight to the heart.  Then this passage tells us to focus (think) on what is true, noble and right.  To focus on the good.

I don’t believe this speaks of a cheap grace, but rather of approaching matters and people through the lens of Christ.  It allows us to love and to extend grace.  It allows us to give any hurt or defensiveness over to God because we are trusting Him to guard us.  It is allowing ourselves to walk in the ability to extend grace, and to receive grace.

When we focus on the good in others. It brings things that could come across as hurtful or offensive, into points of prayer, opportunities for compassion, opportunities to extend grace.  Grace – isn’t that what God is constantly extending to us?

I love this quote from Ann Voskamp.  When we focus on God, on what He would focus on, we can respond in grace.  We can give grace.  We can receive grace.  That is what opens others up to us for true relationship.  It’s unexpected.  It isn’t common in today’s world and usually does shock.

When we put our focus where it should be, when we allow prayer to be our outlet for things that concern us, our hearts and minds are safe.  When we keep our focus, we can move forward instead of getting stuck in the muck of life.  We can walk in grace, trusting that Love has our back.

So, as thoughts on situations, concerns, bombard me, I’m reminded once again today to keep my focus.  Therein lies my peace. Today I will focus on the good and allow God’s peace to cover me.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Life We Live

Do you ever really stop to think about the life you are living?  Do you ever think about the lives our generation are living and the impact we are making on culture?  I do.  More often than I’d care to admit.

I look at my daughter and see the unbridled enthusiasm and joy that bubbles out of her   I pray about how that can be nurtured, encouraged, and kindled into an unquenchable flame for the life she is to live.  I want her life to impact the world with the gifts and talents God placed within her.  There is so much hope, so much passion, so much untainted love that dwells in her.  As a parent, there is anticipation of the impact she and her generation will make on this world.

Yet, why do we lose that hope for ourselves?  Why do we lose that hope for our generation?  While we are alive, while we draw breath, we have the ability to share hope.  We have the ability to change the course of things. Just because we have been through tough times or aren’t where we thought we’d be doesn’t mean that we don’t have many opportunities ahead.  Just because we aren’t 5 years old, doesn’t meant that we shouldn’t still retain anticipation as to what the rest of our lives will hold.

My thoughts come to these things this week because, to be honest, I’ve been feeling old.  I’m not old by most people’s standards. Maybe it’s because relatively, I’m older than most of the other parents with 5-year-olds.  Like the dad of one of my daughter’s best friends who was getting old because he was turning 29!!!   Yeah, I’ve got a few years on you – like 15.

But God is so faithful to remind us that He holds times and seasons in His hands.  I have some Dove Chocolates in my office and last week I was in need of some.  If you are familiar with them, Dove Chocolates have sayings inside the wrapper, little adages such as ‘Ignore #hashtags today,’ ‘Hit snooze again.’  Sayings that are meant to be encouraging, make life easier, or simply make you smile.  I don’t think I’ve ever had 2 of the same sayings come up at the same time.

Last Sunday, I opened a much needed chocolate, and the saying was “Be proud of your age.”  Now I had been feeling ‘old’ for a couple of weeks now, so I laughed a bit and decided to have another chocolate.  It’s saying was also “Be proud of your age.”  My thoughts were, “God, are you trying to tell me something?”  I believe He was and is encouraging me to live my life as He lays it out.  (Yes, I saved them and pinned them to my bulletin board)    He is telling me not to be concerned with the number or the view that the world has of what is and is not associated with that number.

Then, as if I needed another encouragement, I found 2 pennies.  One is shinny and the other dull and old looking.  I looked to see what the dates were, fully thinking the shinny penny was rather new.  The shinny penny had a date of 1986 on it!  It is 30 years old, while the dull penny was a full 20 years younger, minted in 2006.  The age of the penny hadn’t been the main factor on it’s condition.  Our lives can be so much like that.  So many factors can effect the condition of our heart, of our life.

We have to guard our hearts to guard our life.  Our effectiveness can increase over time.  Our wisdom, our abilities, our knowledge, our intimacy with God – all of these are things that can grow over time.  All of these are things that can increase over time.  But we have to actively seek after those things.

It’s our life to live.  God has set before us life and death, and each day we choose.  We can choose life every day.  We can choose to grown in God’s peace, His wisdom, His knowledge, and our gifts and talents can increase as we follow His leading.  All we have to do is to choose.  We get to choose how we live.  We get to choose hope.  We get to choose expectancy.  We don’t have to give them up and believe that tomorrow will never be as good as yesterday.

It doesn’t matter what age we are – Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that the Lord knows the plans he has for us – they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give us a future and a hope.  It doesn’t say that He will give us a future and a hope when we are children – the promise is for today.  It is today that He gives us a future and a hope.

Whether you feel you are too young or too old to truly be effective, those feelings are not the truth.  Truth is that God is working in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)
So hold onto hope.  Hold onto His grace for all of the things you have yet to do in your life.  Don’t let today’s culture tell what you can and cannot do at your age.  If I want to have an effective life, I have to listen to the voice of God and walk in the new things He is bringing my way!

My desire is that we should all live the life God is calling each of us to live.  It’s exciting, it’s an adventure, it is LIFE!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Being Intentional

There are days and times that are meant to be fun and relaxing holidays, but they get overlapped with other life events that can pile on responsibilities and pull the joy out of our expectations. These can be good things, but none the less things that require our attention, work, and focus.  Honestly, I can struggle to keep my joy and expectation during these times.

This past weekend was Mother’s Day weekend.  There were also a few other things happening – It was also my husband’s birthday (which I was very excited to celebrate!), the start of a 4-day event where I work (which would require many hours of work), and a need to get with family to celebrate my husband’s mom.  There were also the stresses my husband is carrying with his job and commitments.  Needless to say, the weekend was busy and filled with running from one thing to the next.  It is so easy to become stressed in moments like these.  In seasons like these.

I can find myself so stressed and focused on what is being demanded of me that I can’t even enjoy a holiday.  I can’t even laugh at the joke my daughter comes up with in the back seat.  I can find myself short-tempered.  I can find myself so stressed by the demands that what should be fun and a blessing is just another stressful requirement in life.

Knowing what was required of us this weekend and the coming week, our family intentionally set aside time on Saturday morning to just hang out as a family.  Just the three of us.  We went out to breakfast to one of our favorite local spots (one of our little family’s Saturday morning traditions).  Then we went straight to the beach.  It was restful, fun, and filled with laughter.  It was the perfect antidote to the demands creeping in on our lives.

We were intentional about it.  It is so important to be intentional about creating time to just be together.  No agenda.  No distractions.  Just being.  Just enjoying.

It’s like that with the Lord.  We have to be intentional about spending time with Him.  We have to set aside time to just be.  No agenda.  No distractions.  Just being.  Just enjoying His presence.

That is where our peace is found.  When I think back on how I walked through really difficult times in life, it was out of an overflow of the intentional times I had spent with the Lord.  I knew God’s presence.  I knew Him.  I knew He is good.  I knew He had my best at heart.  I knew He had a future planned for me and I could hold onto that hope.

Have you listened to the hymn “It is Well” and heard the story behind it?  How did Horatio Spafford honestly pen those lyrics of peace flowing like a river when contemplating the loss of his daughters?  It could only have been out of the intentional times of fellowship he had spent with his Savior.
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
How does “Peace like a river” flow in our lives through difficult times?  Only from a reservoir that comes from Peace Himself.

There is no substitute for intentionally spending focused time with those we love.  Intentionally learning those we want more of in our lives.   We have to be intentional to truly be relational.  We have to be intentional to truly have peace in our lives.  We have to be intentional to truly have joy in our lives.  Otherwise we allow chaos to reign.  Otherwise we have nothing to pull from when we find ourselves wanting.

God is faithful.  He is always there.  He always has peace waiting for us.  He always has love waiting.  We only have to partake of it.  We only have to turn and recognize all that He wants for us.  We only have to turn and tell Him, ‘here I am and I need You.’

He is there. He is our anchor.  He is our lighthouse.  He is our peace. Be intentional about looking to Him and you will find all of those things.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Love Expressed

Today is the 6th year my mom is celebrating her birthday in heaven.  I miss my mom like crazy for so many reasons.  I know I’ll see her again, but sometimes I’d just like to pick up the phone and ask her a question, or stop by the house and tell her good morning.   I’d like to tell her a joke and make her laugh until she cried, because it always made me laugh too.

When I think of my mom, I think of several things – I think about heaven.  How amazing it must be and wonder what she thinks of it.  Being in the presence of God, in the presence of the One she lived her life for.

I wonder what she’s doing – You know, in heaven there isn’t any fear.  How many things have we not done because fear was present.  Things that might have been exhilarating – things like flying, diving to the depths of the ocean.  Things that are adventurous but also live a bit on the edge.
I certainly don’t think that heaven involves just sitting around.  God created us to live, to live an adventurous, abundant life!

The other thing I think about is the kind of life my mom did live here.  It was one of love – one of expressed love.  You know how people say that “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all?”  Well, that was my mom’s philosophy and she followed it wholeheartedly.

My mom reached out to people where they lived.  You know the story of the good Samaritan – that would have been my mom.  You know how Jesus said to let the little ones come to Him?  She always brought the kids from our neighborhood into our home, even after all of her own children were grown.  She loved them, she gave all that she could to them.  Mostly, she really talked to them.  She just let them spend time, giving them snacks and really encouraging them.  She shared herself with them.  She shared the Truth of Jesus with them and how He could make a difference in their lives.

I love it when I see her heart in that of my brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews.  When I see it in the kids who are now adults, but making choices out of love because they were loved.  My mom loved the Lord and allowed His love to be expressed through her.  She loved without expectation, without looking for return.  She just wanted others to know the love Christ has for them.

I can think of so many situations where she didn’t think of her own self.  Loving without looking at the wrongs of a person’s situation, but only of how she could love them, and in that express the love of Christ.

Mom didn’t do this by herself though; she took her family with her. I can’t count the times our days consisted of serving others because they had a need – a ride to the grocery store, spending time with someone who couldn’t get out, gathering food or clothing for a family in need.

Mom taught me to see people through the eyes of Jesus. She knew that if they would only surrender to His love, their lives would be transformed. Mom knew life could be hard. She had seen the effects of alcohol and drug abuse on a life, on a family. But she had also encountered the life-changing, heart healing power of Jesus Christ.  She wanted to express that Love to everyone she could.

Love expressed.  A love that changes lives.  Living out the greatest commandments – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind.  Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-38)  Those are the things I think about when I remember my mom.

Happy birthday Mom!!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Don't Quit

Sometimes life seems to be going nowhere fast. The goals and dreams you have, the promises you’ve been holding on to and working for feel farther away than ever. Nothing is happening. Nothing is moving. There’s not a finish line in site. Discouragement can set in.

These times can be the most difficult to keep going, or to even stand your ground and not fall back.  I’ve felt that.  I’ve been there.  If I’m honest, I’m there right now.  Sometimes it seems the things in our lives we believe God has called us to are never going to come.  We keep waiting.

The questions swirl around – We begin to question if we are really called.  We begin to question whether we are on the right track, if we’ve veered off the road.  We wait.  We begin to question whether God will truly bring us to the place of fulfillment of the promise.  Yet we continue to wait.

As we wait to see the promises of God fulfilled in our lives, we have to remember that the One who has promised us is not a man. In the waiting I often find myself thinking of God and associate human shortfalls with Him. Is God mad at me because I didn’t do something? Did I fall short? Don’t little things people do make me mad at times and my reaction can be to withhold things from people?  Is God doing that?

Then I’m reminded by the simplicity of His sweet Spirit – that He’s not a man that He should lie, that He is faithful to fulfill all that He has promised. As I wait, there is a journey. Even when things don’t look like I thought they would, He is faithful in the journey.

Many times there are twists and turns we didn’t foresee that can discourage us, hills and valleys that contain illness, heartache, or waiting, not knowing or understanding why.  Those are the times we must not quit.

Hebrews 10:23 tells us – “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful.” 
Psalm 37:23 tells us that “The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives.”
When we walk in the things that God has gifted us in, there is hope wrapped in it.  Sometimes those things seem like faraway desires and we are tempted to settle for less instead of raising our expectations of fulfillment.  One of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis in “The Weight of Glory”:
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” -C.S. Lewis
We can’t quit and settle for less.  I don’t want to live my life half-hearted when so much more is offered.

Many times what we are waiting for is just around the corner.  If we don’t quit, if we just take that next step, we win.

God tells us about winning in His word – In Hebrews 11:6 we are told that “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  In 2 Chronicles 15:7 we are told to “be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”  And in Luke 21:19 we are told to “stand firm, and you will win life.”

So don’t quit.  Keep moving forward.  When you feel like things are stagnant, take time to be in God’s presence.  Continue to learn, continue to love.  Be encouraged, even in the waiting.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Restoration – it is a word that has been bouncing around in my head and heart for a while now.  So many people are into restoration in our culture.  Restoring old furniture.  Restoring old homes, old cars.  Restoring entire sections of cities that have become dilapidated.  Many look at things and see ways to restore them.  They find ways to bring them back to their former glory and sometimes even to improve on them.

I love to watch stories on TV about this.  I love to watch shows that take a building from being a run-down, lonely place to a beautiful, fully restored, family home.  Or those that unearth what is seemingly junk and remake it into beautiful, functioning, useful pieces.  They even have a term for this now – repurposing.

I love seeing the vision people have for things that are hidden, and the process they go through in revealing that vision.  They have a gift to see the beauty in something while it is still in an un-restored state.

There is so much in this world that needs restoration, having the vision to see possibilities that inanimate objects hold.  It takes vision, it takes work, but we can usually see the feasibility of restoring things, even if we need a bit of guidance from an expert.

When it comes to people, the world doesn’t usually see the same possibilities.  How many times are people overlooked because they have become run down, gone through tragedy, hit by disease, passed a certain age?  They are seen as broken, finished, and unsalvageable.

If you have a relationship with God, this is where we should be different.  This is where we need to stop looking at things from our limited perspective, looking at things in light of our own abilities, and ask to see what God has in store.  He is the great restorer of all things, and His possibilities are endless.

Restoration is one reason that I love the book of Ruth.  Almost immediately in this book we find Ruth destitute.  She is in a foreign country, her husband and sons have died.  She is a widow, who has been left with two widowed daughters-in-law.  Ruth sees no future in her current situation and decides to return to her own nation of Israel.  She encourages her two daughters-in-law to return to their own families where they can have a future.  Naomi refuses and not only stands by Ruth, but stands with the God of Israel who Ruth and her family serve.

Both women return to Israel and are basically homeless and destitute.  They are gathering left-overs from the grain harvesters for food.  Naomi is gathering from the field of Boaz, who is a distant relative, and he shows her favor.  As the story plays out, we see that Boaz is to be Naomi (and Ruth’s) redeemer.  He will redeem their rights to land and become Naomi’s husband, giving both Ruth and Naomi descendants.
“Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age…” -Ruth 4:14-15
Boaz is sensitive to God’s nature.  He sees Naomi through God’s eyes, not as a women who is homeless and destitute, but someone with a hope and a future.  He sees what God’s possibility for her is- a wife, mother to his children.  Ultimately Boaz and Naomi are part of the lineage of the Redeemer of all mankind.

Boaz had much in terms of earthly wealth, but he took time to look and listen to what and who was around him.  He realized the richness that can be found in a person, not just in things.  He took time to trust God in the path that was laid before him, and in walking that path found a rich blessing.

Allowing God to use us to bring restoration in people’s lives takes bravery.  It takes trust.  It forces us to step out toward a goal we can’t really see, walking a path without a map. It’s working on a canvas that cannot be seen on the surface.

Bringing restoration in people’s lives, in their hearts, forces us to walk in true love.

Every person is different.  Each one will have a different path that leads to restoration.  The beauty that will be revealed will always be different.  What is the same is our ability to make room for the restoration process in our lives.  In allowing ourselves to be restored, we are able to help others along their path.

The great thing about this type of restoration, the restoration of people’s lives, is that you don’t have to obtain special skills.  You just have to be available.  Because this kind of restoration is about walking in love.  This kind is about connecting the one that needs to be restored to the One who is the restorer of all things.
I love this quote by Ann Voskamp, “Don’t ever love by halves, because that’s not how anyone becomes whole.”
God gave all of Himself so that we could be whole.  He never loves in halves, and neither should we.

Restoration of lives is real. God is a restorer of hope, a restorer of vision, a restorer of relationships, a restorer of life where we thought there was only death. Today let’s look at lives with a vision for restoration.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


There are those moments when we are sitting with friends and laughing until we can't breathe.  Or when we are sitting with someone we love and just enjoying their presence and the peace that permeates.  It's in those moments, where we let go of disappointments, let go of disillusionments - that we find ourselves looking outside of our own needs and wants.

Joy in our life can be something that we stumble across randomly, or it can be something that flows from our lives.

When we have Holy Spirit in our lives, when we allow Him to dwell in every area, this is what comes freely.
It's Holy Spirit that causes this to come.  It's not through our own efforts or our own striving, but rather something that will flow out of us. 
The love, joy, peace....

When I allow room for Holy Spirit, I can become a beacon of hope for others and they see a difference in my life.  When I don't, the picture I get reminds me of the lighthouse at the end of my street where I grew up.  I love this lighthouse and was always intrigued by it.  I wanted to climb its steps and see what caused it to work.  I wanted to know if it even had the hardware that was needed to still shine.  This used to be a functioning lighthouse.  It now sits on a naval base, behind barbwire fence, giving off no light.  It is no longer a beacon for those lost at sea, no longer a signal for those who feel like they are being overcome by the waves.

There is a sadness about this structure.  It is inaccessible and lifeless.  That's what I feel like when I don't allow room for Holy Spirit.  Instead of being someone who's life allows joy and love to flourish, I become introspective and discount who I am.  I discount the promises of God and His faithfulness because I am looking at my abilities instead of God's ability.

One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 27:13.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
This verse speaks to the waiting.  It speaks to the times when things seem dark.  When things seem without redemption.  But it is only by dwelling in Holy Spirit, allowing Him access to our lives, that we walk in hope during these times.
It is like night and day.  When I allow room for Holy Spirit to work in my life, to speak into my life, I see the things that He produces in my life, and my life produces so much more.  My heart's focus isn't on myself, but on others.  It's not on myself, but on God. 
The goodness of the Lord is like the sunrise of a beautiful day. His warm rays break through the darkness that tries to stifle our life and our hope.
I love the freedom in realizing this.  When we truly give our life to Christ, we can rest in the work He has done.  As long as I am making room for Holy Spirit to work in my life, as long as I am spending time in His presence, I can trust that He is working in my life.  I can trust in the path He is taking me on.  I can trust that He is leading and is right there with me. 
Even if I don't feel joy, I can rest in peace and know that the joy is coming.  True joy.  Real joy.  The kind of joy that fills our lives and flows over so that others see it too.

Thursday, March 31, 2016



What hinders love?

Is it not truly knowing what love is?

When Christ rose from the grave, the victory was complete, His love had won.  Christ, He is Love, and He won - for all eternity.

What did He win?  What was His prize?  It was us - you and me.

Now the choice is ours.  We get to choose that love.  But why do we shy away?  Why don't we trust?  Why don't we believe?  I suppose the answer is simple - we live in a fallen world where the examples we see of love are incomplete, tainted by lack.  The examples we see typically fall short.

Maybe it's in the wanting.  Are we truly wanted? 
Christ died out of love, but does He truly want me? In our hearts we think, if He really knows who I am, how can He want me?

In our heart, do we really believe that He wants us, that He LOVES us? 
Or do we believe that He is going to allow us to slip into heaven on a technicality?  Others will get to be close - they get to sit in His lap with His arms wrapped about them.  They get the house being prepare, the full package.  Others have truly hit the mark, but we get to slip in.

Many times what we feel and truth are two very different things.

There are lines from a couple of songs that really stick with me, they speak to my heart and I hear them being whispered to me.
‘Cause I loved you before you knew what was love
I saw it all, and still I chose the cross
You were the one that I was thinking of
When I rose from the grave
-"Out of Hiding" by Stephanie Gretzinger and Amanda Cook
Then there is Misty Edwards', "I Knew What I was Getting Into"

I knew what I
was getting into when I called you.
I knew what I was getting into when I said your name, but I said it just the same. I knew what I was getting into and I still want you.

Being wanted. Being chosen. Singers sing about it. Writers write about it. But is it true? And more so, do we believe it?

Maybe that is the thing that hinders love in our lives, truly believing that we are not only loved, but wanted.

So I turn from song lyrics to God's Word.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 tells us that: "As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth."

1 Peter 2:9 tells us:  "But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light."

These are verses that talk about us - those that have chosen salvation.  It says that we are chosen.
The word chosen means -  to prefer or decide something (someone), to desire.

These verses tell us that we are wanted, desired, preferred.
There are so many times when we feel unworthy.  There are so many times when regret whispers in our ear.  So many times when we don't think we can hit the mark or even make it onto the board.  That is when we remember the Truth that is Love.  Remember that we have been chosen.  Remember that His desire is for us.

God's desire is for me.  I am wanted.

It's in the listening.  Listen to Love.  Listen to Truth.  Listen to the One who has saved your soul, the one who knows it all and has chosen you.  He wants me. He wants you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Freely Given Life

On this Good Friday, I am posting a slightly edited version of a previous post.  It's still as poignant to me as ever, so I'm sharing again...

As we approach Resurrection Sunday, I have been pondering the work that Christ did in coming to the earth, dying for each of us, and rising from the dead.

In all of it, so many wanted Christ to take a place of position.  People wanted Him to take a crown as a sitting king.  But Christ chose a path meant to restore relationship, not to assume a position in man’s eyes.
Christ was fully human and fully God all at once.

 My mind can’t even comprehend that – but in that, how many times must He have been tempted to take the position that so many wanted him to take. In being fully God He had the ability,  He had the power.  People wanted Him to take the kingship of Israel, to show the world who He really was.   As humans, don’t we want to be proven right?  Don’t we want to be approved and placed in positions of authority?  Don’t we want others to view us as right and good and successful?

Yet Christ knew the route He was taking would cause others to view Him as a failure.  In man’s eyes, not only would He not be put in an earthly place of authority, but He would be treated as the lowest of the low and looked upon with scorn and disappointment.

Christ had a goal that man didn’t see.  He had a goal of restored relationship.  In reality, that’s what salvation is – it restores us to a place of right-standing with God.  The choice Christ made restored us to a place where we can have a personal relationship with God.  THE GOD, THE ONE AND ONLY.  Christ didn’t come to show us in human terms how powerful He is, He came to bring us back to a place of relationship.  This was a feat only He had the power and position to accomplish.

His view was on a higher plane.  He knew there was a spiritual component that we didn’t realize.  He knew that in taking what looked to be the dishonorable route, He was really positioning himself to win the ultimate prize.

Not only did He win the victory over death, but he made a way for He and I – you and God– to have an intimate relationship.

Max Lucado Quote (2).jpg 

All of this made me think about my choices.  Am I choosing Him?  Am I making choices that place relationships ahead of position?  Am I making choices that view relationship as the utmost of importance?  Christ did.  Restoring us to right relationship was his ultimate goal, and He sacrificed all to win that.

Relationship is that important to Him.  If I am His– if you are His – are we putting relationship in its rightful place?  Relationship with Him?  Relationship with each other?

Those are my thoughts this Easter season.  It’s introspective and there is no set answer.  Each of us has to do our own evaluation.  I can’t evaluate you and you can’t evaluate me.  I can’t evaluate my spouse, and he can’t evaluate me.  It’s about our heart’s focus.

As we celebrate Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, lets intentionally put that relationship first.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Strong Love

We live in a world where we are bombarded by messages of what life should be like, messages of what love should be like.  My husband and I have this running joke when commercials come on, which of us can be the first to recognize perfume ads.  They are AWFUL!  As if you will look like the models and have huge muscular guys surround you if you wear their fragrance.  And they are so ethereal!

This love the world portrays is weak.  It is a love based on temporal things, based on carnal sensibilities.  It's reflected as blingy glitz and glitter.  A Surface love without depth. We often think this is the kind of love we need to pursue.  Yet we often buy into what they are portraying, then feel the sting when disappointment hits.  When we are unfulfilled by the weak love. 

That love isn't Truth.

Red_telephone_box,_St_Paul's_Cathedral,_London,_England,_GB,_IMG_5182_edit.jpgLast night I was in a worship service and the presence of God was so sweet.  Sometimes it is difficult for me to worship because of distractions.  I am on staff at my church, so I notice things that need to be done, or things that aren't happening that I know should.  I'm around 'worship' a lot, allowing myself to be fully immersed and worshipping does not happen as often as it should.  Thankfully I remember song lyrics pretty well so I can close my eyes and still sing along.  Sometimes I have to do this little trick that that came to me many years ago - If I'm feeling distracted, I imagine that I'm in a phone booth.  The kind of booth you'd find in London, the red box where you shut the door.  I know it sounds silly, but it works for me.  My mind stops thinking about who is sitting around me, what may be going on, and focuses on worshipping the One who created me.  There is no top on my phone booth - communication can go two ways unhindered.
Back to last night's service, I had gone into my phone booth.  I was totally immersed in the presence of the Lord.   While worshipping, I had this image of the Lord holding me in His arms. He just came up behind me and wrapped these huge, loving arms around me. As I began dwelling on how strong His love is, I could feel His strength and the reassurance that brings.

Don't we all need that?  I know that I do.  To be reminded of that strong love, real love, God has given to us through Christ.  The strong love that Christ has for us.

Love like a hurricane.jpg

I hear the John Mark McMillan song in my head, "How He Loves Us" -

"He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.  When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me..... Oh, how He loves us so, Oh, how He loves us, how He loves us so..."
I know others have changed the lyrics to make them more palatable for the masses, but I like the rawness of John Mark's original lyrics to verse 2:
"We are His portion and He is our prize.  Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes, if grace is an ocean we're all sinking.  So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns violently inside my chest, and I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way... He loves me..."
Christ loves me, He loves you, not with some weak far off kind of a love, but a strong, personal, intimate love.  A love that took Him to the point of death for me.  A love that, as it says in Song of Solomon, its jealousy unyielding as the grave, like a mighty flame.
How many people have been sold the weak love of the world?  How many people are settling for that weak love instead of the strong love available to us? 

Don't many people buy into the weak version of love because they don't realize the strong love can be a reality?  How many of us live out of that strong love we've been given?  Our relationships here on earth, our spouses, friendships, family relationships can and should reflect that strong love.  They don't have to be based in the weak, temporal love society tells us is so blingy.

That is my challenge to myself in this season.  To be immersed in that strong love to the point that I live like it.  I'm not completely sure what that looks like, but that's where the adventure comes in.  This is the love that lasts, the love that satisfies, the love that cannot be quenched.
Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. -1 Corinthians 13:7

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Getting Past the Arrows

Some weeks we are so busy living life that we don't stop to think about the big picture. We think about the fact that we are totally out of bread, and milk, and lunch meat and can not go home today without going to the store on the way.  We give attention to the many tasks at our job that, if given precedence, would keep us there until the evening hours.  However, leaving our child at school until then is totally unacceptable.  Oh the many plates that we spin in life!  Then there are the pressing details, like what am I going to get to fill the eggs needed for my daughter's Easter party?!?

No, that shouldn't be a pressing detail, but don't we feel like that sometimes? 

We allow the small things to become big and add pressure to our own inside pressure cooker.

Some weeks we are so consumed with the things required of us that we don't stop to think about who we are or the larger story we are a part of.  We have jobs that want our best.  We have family that need us present.  We have friends who like to spend time with us.  All things that we want, love, like, and desire.  All things that require of us - time, energy, emotion, thought.

Never be afraid to trust.jpg
Then, there are those days or weeks when the fatigue of busyness sets in and we think about the big picture.  We begin to evaluate the reality of how we are doing in the areas of our lives.  And many times the arrows from the world, those words that have been spoken against us, those things that have made us feel less than adequate in the past, can begin to bombard us.  Sometimes they have been intentional and sometimes not.

My heart is to live the life I was born to live.  To use my gifts and talents to the best of my ability.  To be the best wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister that I can.  I often fall short of that goal.  Sometimes due to my own shortcomings.  Sometimes because I dwell too much on my surroundings and how others are doing an their accomplishments in those areas.

So many others are such wonderful wives, mothers, friends...... They do such a great job.  I mean, where do they find the time?  How do they know how to parent so well?

Then I realize what I need to do to bring things back into perspective.  I need to remember that I was called to live a life different than anyone else.  The make-up of who I am is different than you, just as yours is different from anyone else.

I also need to take a breath and spend a few minutes with the one who created and put all of those details together.  It is amazing how turning my focus to Christ can change my perspective, how asking Holy Spirit into my current situation brings peace.  It's in this that those things that I've hidden away come flooding back.

Things like:
Hope Anchors.jpgFor I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord.  "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." -Jeremiah 29:11

Praying that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power. -Ephesians 1:17-19

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.  -Proverbs 3:5-6

It's passages like these that remind me that the influences of this world don't have to guide my life.  I make choices, but I also have someone to lean on.  If I need wisdom, I can ask for it, and get it. (James 1:5)

This world will try to batter our dreams and goals.  The influences of this culture will tell us that we aren't good enough or smart enough or have the right look to accomplish them.  That we don't have the right words or the right presentation.

But we have all that we need. (Hebrews 13:20-21)  We also know where to get all that we need.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. -2 Timothy 3:16-17
I many times think back on a phrase my pastor would tell us.  "Any area of your life that does not glisten with hope is a lie." (Bishop Paul Zink)  When I am feeling overwhelmed.  When the cares of all that I need to do are weighing me down.  It is at those times I need to look back to my source, where my hope comes from.  Spend some time with God.  Read His Word, worship, pray, be quiet.  In the quiet, all of the arrows of the world are deflected.  They are silenced and true forward motion can begin again.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Haley Scooter 5.JPGMy daughter LOVES to play outside.  This said, she is anxious for Spring and Summer to arrive.  She is ready for the water temps to warm so that she can go back in for a swim.  She has asked me many times lately when Spring would be here.  In my busyness I told her 'soon.'  I also told her that Spring really isn't really a date on the calendar, but a matter of the weather changing.  That wasn't enough though, in her 5-year old mind she needed a date.  Finally, yesterday, I looked it up and told her that on March 20th of this year it would finally be Spring.

Thus, the countdown has begun!  The first thing she informed me of in the car this morning was that there are only 13 days until Spring!!  This declaration was followed by the question, "can we go swimming then?"
If only our seasons in life were so clearly defined as the date on the calendar.  I've loved looking back at the Facebook memories the past month and being reminded of the excitement of finding out we were expecting a child, and the excitement of our family and friends.  When I think back over that time I am also reminded of the mixture of seasons over that year.

You see, this was an amazing time as we were expecting our baby girl, but in the midst of it was a time of deep sorrow.  My mom had been battling cancer for almost a year.  In June, we found out that it had metastasized and there was a tumor in her brain that burst.  So when I was 5 months pregnant with the child that she had been believing with me for, my mom passed away. In a matter of a couple of short days, she was gone from this earth.  My mom, who was supposed to be here to meet my little girl and to tell me all the things I needed to ask her as a new mom myself.  My mom, who was a rock of faith and understanding.  My mom, who loved myself and my family as no one else could.  The Grandmama that I wanted my daughter to know, to experience.

Prego Pic at Mom's Funeral June 2010.jpg
At Mom's Memorial Service
June is also my birthday month.  I don't really remember what I did that year.  I turned 40, but other than that I don't recall the birthday.  So many life events happened in the span of what many would consider one season of life.

We are told in Ecclesiastes 3 that:
For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance....
But this season I was in had so many of these things overlapping.  Grief, joy, death, birth, laughing, crying, grieving....  How does one process it all?  I found my answer to be wrapped in faith.  "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living." (Psalm 27:13)

Sometimes I think that I am still processing all that has happened over that year.  There are still seasons that I find myself missing my mom, sometimes to the point of tears.  Sometimes those seasons are mixed with a pride and joy I find as my daughter grows.  I think of the smile and laughter she would have brought to Mom's face.  Then I think about the fact that she is probably looking down from heaven seeing it all anyway, and laughing until she cries.  Because that's what we do in our family when we really laugh.

Sometimes I think about the seasons in my life and how I would have ordered them differently.  I would have moved some earlier in life and some later.  Trusting that there is someone who has the full picture, that my finite understanding would not necessarily bring about the best results, isn't always easy.

"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14)
He will turn our mourning into joyful dancing and take away our mourning, clothing us with joy. (Psalm 30:11)  He will do it.  He will cause the seasons to change because even if we are unfaithful, He remains faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13)
So when the season is hard and I feel like Winter will never end, I look for the laughter even in the cold.  I look for the beauty even in the sparseness.  I have to let the seasons change in my life, because Spring is coming.  The warm sun will wash over me and I will be able to feel the sand between my toes.  The laughter will come, sometimes to the point of tears.  And until that happens, we have to rest in His love. We have to wait on the Lord
I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever!  Young and old will hear of your faithfulness.
(Psalm 89:1)
Rest in the knowing that there is One who is faithful in this life, even when the season seems tough and raw.  Rest in knowing that He will keep the song alive in your heart, and He will even sing a new song over you.  When we allow the seasons to change, we see the goodness of the Lord in our lives.  When we get stuck, when we don't let go of the season we are in, we can't embrace the new life, the new growth, the new season that is there for us.
Haley Summer Days.jpgFor the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With His love, He will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17)
So get out your picnic blanket.  Get your shorts and flips out.  Get ready for that new season with expectation.  We can rest in the fact that we have a good, good Father who loves us with an everlasting love.  Just as my girl is planning for every day to be filled with shorts, tank tops, and swim days - we can look forward to what is ahead with anticipation as simply as a child.  Rest in the season you are in, but know that a new one is coming.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Remembering the Amazing

I went online to check my Facebook page a little over a week ago, and one of my notifications was that I had some 'memories' with some friends.  So, naturally I clicked the link to see what those were. 
Apparently, 6 years ago on that day we shared with our friends at work that my husband and I were expecting a baby.  It was such a fun day!  My friends made me go office by office sharing the news, and everyone we shared it with had to come with us to the next stop.
You may think it a bit crazy that this made such a disruption in the work day, but you see,
this baby is our miracle. 
A few months before, and a few years before, this wasn't such a happy subject for me.  It was one where I had hope, but it was still the substance of a promise hoped for without any evidence to yet hold onto.  My husband and I hadn't been able to conceive a child.  We tried everything, even fertility doctors. 
In November / December of 2009 we had gone through the IVF process, and a couple of weeks into December I received a call that the process hadn't been a success.  I was not pregnant.  Needless to say, I was heartbroken.  I remember vividly having to go the very next day on a day long trip to IKEA with a team from work because we were redesigning the foyer at our church and were going down to purchase the items.  It was so difficult to simply act normal and not cry the entire day. 
I had many discussions with God over the next few weeks.  He had given me a promise.  I had a desire in my heart that I truly believe was from Him. There were specific words I held onto with that:
Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires.  - Psalm 37:4
The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. - Proverbs 10:22
December went by and the New Year came.  Toward the end of January there were signs that maybe I should take a pregnancy test.  I approached that with very mixed emotions.  I can't tell you the number of negative tests I had dealt with at that point.  When I took the test my husband was just in the other room and asked me how long it would take to know.  In amazement, I said I guess right away!  It was positive!!! 

We were cautiously overjoyed!  We wanted to tell the world, but wanted to make sure we were right before we did.  So finally toward the end of February 2010, 6 years ago, things were confirmed.  I was indeed pregnant.  It was no less than a miracle of God.  It was an amazing pregnancy and God's faithfulness was evident throughout all of it.  Even our daughter's birth was amazing!

I will sing of the Lord's unfailing love forever!  Young and old will hear of YOUR faithfulness.
-Psalm 89:1
The Lord is so faithful.  He is so good.  Don't ever doubt it, He is a good, good Father.  In Matthew 7:11 it says, "So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him."
Whatever you are believing for or standing for today, know that your Heavenly Father loves you and is working on your behalf.  I can tell you of the amazing things He has done for me, and our God is no respecter of people. (Acts 10:34)
Today is March 1, 2016.  Exactly 6 years ago today I heard Haley Elizabeth's heartbeat for the very first time!  Little did we know how much life that heartbeat would bring into this world!!  God is amazing, and He gives us amazing gifts!  You can trust Him with your heart and with your deepest desires.  He is faithful even when it seems in the natural that all hope is gone.  He is faithful! 
Below are a few pictures of our beautiful daughter, and a video of a our story.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

In the Knowing

Love.  Joy.  Acceptance.  Peace.  Friendship.  Adventure. All of these things we consider essential to make our life complete, to make our life full.  When they are lacking we feel their void - we feel unloved, unlovely even.  But the real quest for me has been how to find these and truly live in them.  All of these are connected to relationship, the one thing that I find truly daunting.  Daunting in every realm, family, friendship, acquaintance - daunting at every level.

In my life I've had a wall that keeps a certain level of detachment in relationships.  It keeps them at just the right distance so when that relationship ends it's not as painful as if I'd allowed the perception of something permanent.  But I know that isn't what we were created for.  I know that we were created to know and to be known.

In my mind I ponder why things are so temporal.  In my heart I know that we have eternity.  But how do I connect the head to what is planted in my heart when we live in a world of the finite.   

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end.
- Ecclesiastes 3:11
So my quest is in how to bridge the chasm between the desire of my heart and the path of my thoughts?  If I allowed myself to live with that wall instead of embarking on the quest to remove it, how would I live out all that I was meant to?  How would I have those deep desires of true love, joy, acceptance, peace, friendship, and yes, even adventure?
I know where the answer is found - it is found in spending time with the one who created both my heart and mind and laying those fears of being unloved and unlovely before Him.  The answer to pulling that wall down is found in trusting in His grace to stand with and guard my heart. 
For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
- Ephesians 2:10
I have an intense desire to do all that God has planned for me.  I want to get rid of those walls that keep me from those things. Those walls that keep me from fulfillment.  Those walls that keep me from helping others find their fulfillment.  Because in the end, it isn't all about ourselves, at least it shouldn't be, it should be about impacting the world as God created us to.  We are His workmanship, His masterpiece, the product of His hand.  He breathed His own breath into us for the purpose of life, for the purpose of relationship. 
I know that this quest will be a success.  I have been given that promise, so I will continue and rest in this:
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
- Philippians 1:6