Sunday, September 26, 2010


The other night, my husband took our two older girls to meet with our small group from church. Our newborn daughter was not quite ready to make her debut (or it's quite possible I didn't feel like putting on anything besides a t-shirt and stretchy pants . . .)which left me with an unusually quiet home for a few hours.

Music is almost constantly in the background at our house. Usually some kind of praise and worship because goodness knows I need to "set my heart on things above" when "earthly things" include running interference between a grumpy preschooler, a tired toddler and a wailing newborn. (And why, oh why, do those always occur at the very same time??)


With the ever-present music in the background that night, the little one snuggled up in my arms and drifted off to sleep. Looking at her sweet, peaceful face I was suddenly reminded of how I used to play lullabies to our oldest and dance her around the room when she was that age.

I whispered to our sweet one how I missed doing that with the other two (time does fly by so quickly) and so seized the opportunity. Carly Simon poured "Julie Through the Glass" through the speakers and we swirled and swayed through the kitchen.

Whether it was the song (it wrecks me every time but it's so beautiful) or the moment , I couldn't stop the tears down my face as I realized how still and content my daughter was in my arms. No one had to convince her to settle down, she didn't protest or busy herself with other things. All she knew was she was in mommy's arms and all was well.

What really wrecked me was realizing how much more our Heavenly Father must long for us, His children, to be that still in His own arms. To not have to be convinced being still is good, to not protest or busy ourselves. But to just be still and know we our in our Father's arms and all is well.

And, suddenly, I longed to be that infant in His arms. To feel that kind of peace and security. Not coincidentally, a few verses sprang to mind . . .

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

And one of my favorites:

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 (italics mine)

Just as I soaked up every moment singing over the very picture of peace and contentment in my arms that night, God, too, longs for us to be still in His arms as He sings over us.

Snuggle up in His arms, little one. God's lullaby is calling you. Shhhhh . . .

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Crazy Love

I've currently got my nose in a little book titled "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. Let me tell you, it certainly packs some big ideas into a small number of pages. I love, love, love to read. Once a book grabs me, I find it nearly impossible to put down and fly through it in no time.

But "Crazy Love" is a bit different. It's a book about the unrelenting love of God and what our lives might look like if we truly lived like we loved Him. Really loved Him. Head-over-heels-can't-stop-thinking-about-you-this-changes-everything kind of loved Him.

This book completely captivates me but I can only read about a chapter at a time. The thoughts presented by Mr. Chan are so convicting and thought-provoking that I have to put the book down and digest my latest reading for a few days.

One of the recent prevailing themes I've been chewing on is really how wealthy we are in the United States. We throw around terms like "broke" when over half of the world's population lives on less than $2 a day. We are so used to the luxury we live in that it skews our perspective.

Even today, as I was making yet another pb&j sandwich for lunch I caught myself mentally grumbling:

"We eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches almost every day!"

The thought had just barely escaped my brain before the great Editor of attitudes did some proofreading and marked some of His corrections. According to Him, this is really how that sentence should have gone:

"We eat. Every day."

Which should have been followed by a prayer of gratitude and praise, for that is not the case for many people.

This is not purposed to induce guilt, but rather to open our eyes to how much we really have. And how much of that do we really need?

Mr. Chan's point in "Crazy Love" is what if we changed the way we lived - sacrificing so that others may have even the basic necessities. Not giving when there's extra, but sacrificing. (He walks the walk, by the way. One of the changes he, his wife and four children made was moving from a spacious home into a trailer park in order to free up more money/resources to give. Um, yeah...)

Squirming yet?

Me, too.

Just some food for thought today, so to speak. And I highly recommend taking the plunge into "Crazy Love". Just find yourself a nice, cozy reading spot to settle in with it for a while. (But make sure there's enough room to squirm. You'll need it.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Run On

Whether it was the shoes, the amount of time I was there, the sweet baby girl due to appear in a few months - or all of the above - my feet and back were telling me all about my trip to Target on the way home and into the night. They were not happy.

My husband jokingly suggested I should shop barefoot next time, which prompted a discussion about a increasingly popular trend in the running world to hit the pavement barefoot. (Yes, we have odd discussions like this quite a bit. I do love that man of mine!) Hubby is a great runner, not only because of his physical capabilities, but he is so knowledgeable about the science and mechanics of it.

Marathon Man pointed out that there are certain populations that have a culture of running - always done barefoot - and they can go for crazy long distances (think 40+ miles).

It's in their blood.

I personally could not get over the distance people are apparently capable of achieving. Husband noted that we are the only creation with that ability - many wild animals obviously have speed and agility on us but none could outrun us distance-wise. Their bodies do not have the sweating/cooling capability that humans do and they will overheat and die. (Ever seen anyone running a marathon with their doggie? Um, not so much.)

The spiritual parallel sprang into my ever-analytical mind.

Of all the beautiful creatures God has made, of all His magnificent creation, we are the only ones made to spiritually endure this life. To run the race He has marked out for us. To go the distance until greeted with "Well done, good and faithful servant" at that beautiful finish line (which is really another beginning).

Lions have might, but not perseverance. Bears have power, but not endurance. When an animal dies, it has reached the end. God did not create them to inherit His eternal kingdom. That honor belongs solely to the Lord's most magnificent creation of all - us.

When steep inclines intrude on our nice little jog through life, the temptation comes to throw in the towel. But keep going. Persevere. God made you to.

It's in your blood.

And one day, you will fulfill the same hope that Paul communicates to the Philippians:

"...that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing."
Philippians 2:16

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

We really don't watch the news much around here. Not that we don't want to be informed, but having dumped cable and using *gasp* just an antenna leaves us with mostly local news.

Boring. Depressing. Ick.

I don't miss cable bills or endless channel surfing. But I DO miss the news channels. I used to love cable news - Brad and I would settle down in front of O'Reilly and then spend the rest of the evening going back and forth over the talking points.

These days our news stories come more from radio, Internet, word of mouth, and - admittedly - Facebook. Not the same, but it still boils down to the same effect: Delivering the verdict that, yes, this world is still a heap of a mess today.

I met some girlfriends at a pizza place tonight and couldn't help glancing up at CNN every now and then. Even though I couldn't hear it, the visuals were more than enough to remind me how much yuck is in the world right now.

After much pizza, laughter and chatter I started the drive home, the mess of news stories that I had caught in glimpses still in the back of my mind.

But then as I drove, I noticed the fog hovering over the river against an indigo blue sky. I realized the little flashes of light I kept seeing to the side of the road were the lightning bugs making their nightly debut. My spirit immediately calmed as I stepped out of my car into the dusky silence of our driveway, noticing the blur between the tips of the pine trees and the skyline was fading as night descended.

Deep breath. Smile. Some things are still very right in this world.

Monday, June 7, 2010

10 Minutes, 2 Things

I'm not sure what first prompted it, but for about a year now there has been something on my heart that simultaneously grieves, angers and motivates me: The persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world.

How can one not be grieved when you see a picture of a 4-year old girl missing an arm due to a machete attack on her village targeted toward Christians?

How can I not be angry that this isn't front-page news? That most Western Christians have NO clue what is going on? I know I didn't until about a year ago. I had some vague idea that in some places things were not good for Christians. I had NO idea.

And how, after learning even a portion of what goes on, can I not be motivated to do something?

Like I said, this has really been on my heart for about a year now. But within the last few weeks I feel like the Lord has really been bringing it to the forefront of my attention.

Just within the last two weeks He has:

- Put a book in my hands regarding Christian martyrs and persecution both past and present

- Brought a family into our circle that is in ministry for Iranian Christians, including the persecuted in Iran (Iran is not exactly a Christian-friendly place to live, you know)

- Literally brought to my door another ministry that serves persecuted Christians around the world

I think I'm sensing a theme here . . .

I hope to be writing more about this soon, but in the meantime can I encourage you to do two things? They won't take more than a few minutes each. Promise. But the effect could be life-changing for you and/or someone across the planet.

1) Check out one of these websites. They are easy to navigate and just a quick glance on any of them will give you just a taste of what is going on around the world. Seriously - just take 5 minutes and look at: (The Voice of the Martyrs - this organization serves persecuted Christians and their families around the world) (International Christian Concern - I don't know much about this organization. They are out of D.C. so I don't know political ties, etc. but they have an excellent summary of situations around the world) (Elam Ministries - serving Iranian Christians both here, in Iran, and I believe out of England as well)

2) After checking out one of the websites, PRAY. Please, oh, please pray for your Christian brothers and sisters. Pray for their countries, their governments, their protection and safety, their families and their faith. Lift them up before our Father. Just spare a few minutes and PRAY.

Ten minutes (at most) to do two things that could have a big impact:

Read. Pray.

Okie dokie?


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Plan

I'm definitely an information girl.

I want all the details, all the possibilities, and then I can decide what to do with it. How to react. Which path to take.

God is not so much into information, I've come to find out. It turns out He's more concerned with our hearts than with our circumstances.

Go figure.

I cannot count how many times I have pleaded with God for an answer in the midst of a trying situation. Any answer. Even a "no" would be better than day-by-day waiting or "just trust Me".

But then sometimes I wonder if having a solid answer, a divine checklist of how to solve the problem, would really do me any good. For one, my eyes and heart would definitely be more focused on what's around me than Who's above me. And, two, I wonder if I would even believe it.

The other day I was reading part of King Jehoshaphat's story in 2 Chronicles 20. When word came of an impending attack against Judah, the king immediately inquired of the Lord regarding what he should do. Talk about being in need of a quick, definitive answer!

As the people fasted and Jehoshaphat prayed, the Spirit of the Lord came upon one of the men in the crowd. He prophesied this answer from the Lord:

15 He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' "
2 Chron. 20:15-17

So basically, the Lord told Jehoshaphat that he should go out against these three enemy armies but that he wouldn't have to fight. And, oh yeah, don't be afraid.

I don't know how the king felt about that message - although the text does tell us he bowed low and worshipped the Lord - but there seems to be just a few little details missing from that gameplan.

Like HOW in the world they would actually defeat three huge armies without a fight. Minor detail.

To Jehoshaphat's credit, he was completely obedient and trusted the Lord. It turned out that as his army went out, he appointed singers to walk ahead of them to praise the Lord. (Can you see some of them saying, "Um, see, I'm in the choir and didn't really sign up for this battle thing . . .")

When the three enemy armies heard the loud singing, they actually turned on each other and completely annihilated their allies! By the time the army of Judah got there, all they found were dead bodies - not a single enemy soldier remained.

So it seems that the Lord's plan worked pretty well after all.

Go figure.

However, can you imagine what would have happened if, in response to Jehoshaphat's original plea for help, the Lord would have spelled out the entire plan? "See, I'm going to have your army march out but you're going to put your worship leaders in front. And then before you even get there, all your enemies are going to kill each other. Then you'll get there just in time to gather up their goodies. Okie dokie?"

I honestly don't know which scenario would take more faith - to not know what was going to happen and just trust the Lord, or to know - realize how completely crazy and unrealistic it sounded - and still trust the Lord to follow through on it.

Perhaps Jehoshaphat would have obeyed regardless. But maybe not. Maybe his army would have rebelled. Or maybe come up with "Plan B". Who knows.

But I do know that when I look back over certain situations in my life, if the Lord had told me ahead of time His plan I don't think I would have gone along with it. Or maybe I would have with only half a heart. Or maybe I would have wasted so much time arguing with Him about it that I would have missed His blessings in the midst of it.

My point is that, as much as I want to know the plan (and believe me, I do) I have to praise the Planmaker for His wisdom in not always sharing it with me.

(And can I throw in a praise for my lack of singing ability? You know, just in case that scenario were to repeat itself some day. I'm just sayin'.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

I've Got The Power

Depending on your age, that title either brings to mind a suh-weet C+C Music Factory song circa 1990-something OR the awesomeness of He-Man. Or for a select few of us lucky ones, both. (He-Man was so much cooler than She-Ra. But I digress . . .)

We're walking through quite a season of separation anxiety with our 4 year old. She has always struggled with this in degrees, but an unfortunate experience at the dentist office last month seems to have pushed her over the edge. Heartbreaking? You bet.

It seems we've been pulling out every possible parenting tool hoping that something will bring this season to an end. One of my favorites, of course, is Scripture. God's word is "living and active" (Hebrews 4:12) and I believe very applicable to any of us, even my preschooler.

Before bedtime the other night (always triggers an episode) I reminded her that God "did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of love, power and self-control." (2 Timothy 1:7) She asked, "What kind of power? Like Flower Power?" (from a Backyardigans episode).

Um, not so much.

I tried my best to explain how when we make Jesus the Lord of our life, that the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us. That means we have God's power in us to help us. Of course, that raised all sorts of questions in itself. After fielding them to the best of my ability, I had questions in my own mind as well!

So, what is this power God has given us? I have a feeling I could spend a lifetime researching, praying, reading and thinking and never fully comprehend it. And I'm okay with that. There's nothing wrong with seeking answers, but we have to be content that some things will remain a mystery while we're on this earth. God is God after all.

But I ran across a passage today in Ephesians that seems to at least partly answer the question. I had to read it about seven times to really let it sink in . . .

16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:16-21

As an encouragement to the Ephesians, it seems that Paul points out three different workings of Christ's power in us:

1) So that Christ may live and dwell in our hearts (v. 17)

2) To be able to understand and know the fullness of Christ's love for us (v. 18-19)

3) To enable God to do more than we could fathom, or even ask for, through us to bring Him glory (v. 20-21)

Wow. Actually, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Do a search on "power" on for the New Testament and just a quick scan of the verses reveals a plethora of other workings of Christ's power in us.

Can I say it again? WOW.

Of course, this power has nothing to do with ourselves. Paul makes that clear in a letter to the Corinthians:

"But we have this power in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Cor. 4:7

God's power resting in our fragile selves. (I'd put in another WOW here, but that would be redundant I suppose.)


At least now I have a partial answer for our daughter: Christ's power in us helps us to know Him and His love more, and also to bring Him glory.

And even if she doesn't fully comprehend that now, I pray that God will just cover her in His peace and love during this season of anxiety. And He will, you know.

He's powerful like that.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Spot

I am convinced that everybody needs a spot.

You know, a place to escape everyday life. To mentally vacation even if only for a few minutes.

My spot is on the back deck enveloped in the adirondack chair my dad made for us. The kelly green canopy goes as high and far as I can see. Feet (must be bare feet you know) are up on a bench stolen from the nearby picnic table. Head back, sunglasses on. No book, no iPod. I want to just sit and listen to nothing for a while.

Even if I can sit here for a few minutes I feel completely refreshed (although wishing I could stay much longer than I'm usually able).

So, I'm curious:
What's your spot??

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Wow - almost 2 months since the last post! I just can't seem to get motivated to sit, think and write. But I figured today I will at least sit and write - with as little thinking as possible. :-) So here are things rattling around in my head lately:

-It was the good Lord's wisdom to give kiddos a "trainer" set of teeth. They get all their trips, falls and accidents out of the way (mostly) before the "real" ones come in. This was a very good idea.

-I'm realizing sometimes my "small" prayer requests mean just as much to me as the "biggies". And it's almost harder to receive a "no" to a small request. But that's my human mind - I forget that there is no difference to God. It's not as if He'll say "yes" to a smaller request because it's easier for Him. There's no "easy" or "hard" for God. There just "is" or "isn't". (And could I use quote marks any more in this paragraph??)

-Spring - also a fabulous idea on the Lord's part! As if He needs my opinion, but still, I think it's pretty great.

-Baby monitors: a blessing and a curse.

-Did you ever wonder why there is no "Joseph" tribe in the Bible when he was one of Jacob's 12 sons? This did not occur to me until the other day and really bothered me until I figured it out. (And I'm not tellin' . . . hee hee!)

-Dead bird on back porch = Our doggie's idea of a "get well soon" present to her best bud, our 1 year old, after she took a fall. Very sweet in doggie world. Very gross in my world.

-Husband and I have very different ideas of camping. His includes a tent - all other equipment/facilities optional. Mine includes a camper/shelter, flush toilet and a real bed. We don't go camping together very often.

So. Sitting and writing. Very little thinking. Result: very random post. Maybe my brain will kick into gear one of these days . . .


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vision Check

I have been feeling just beat down lately. Anyone else there?

For about the past two weeks my heart and mind have been occupied:

-Many of my friends are in incredible pain right now for various reasons.

-People I don't know, but whose stories I have followed, are hurting in unimaginable ways.

-The world around us is a literal mess - natural disasters, poverty, persecution, so many that are spiritually lost.

Sometimes the realization of how much pain is in the world causes me vision problems: I get spiritual myopia. The pain feels near and very clear while goodness seems far off and fuzzy.

In the midst of my near-sightedness I noticed the Bible verse for today sitting by my kitchen window:

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27:13-14

I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

When I allow God to put His lenses in front of my flawed eyesight the fuzziness comes into focus. I will see His goodness. Not just one day in the future, but right now in the land of the living.

This doesn't take the reality of worldly pain away. But, in my eyes, it offers hope.

And that's something worth looking for.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

God's Goodness

Several years ago my dearest friend's father was in the midst of a horrific medical crisis. A "routine" procedure had gone very, very wrong and after literally being brought back to life there was much uncertainty about how much damage was done.

God's people responded. One night church members that had come to support the family and pray overflowed out of the hospital waiting area and into hallways. My sweet friend's family was lifted up continuously to our Father.

When it became apparent that little permanent damage had been done - and this defied any medical reasoning - people rightly glorified God. They exclaimed over and over to my friend, "God is so good!"

And then she posed a question to me that I will never forget:

"What if God hadn't healed Dad? Would these people still know that God is good?"


That question still gives me goosebumps mostly because the rock-solid faith of my dear friend blew me away.

But she had a point.

I think maybe what we mean to say in those situations, when God says "yes" to a dramatic request, is "That was so good of God!" Because my friend was right. God IS good. All the time. Unfailing. No matter what His answer to our request.

And if He, for whatever reason, had chosen to say "no" to the many pleas over her father's life He still would be just as good.

That's really hard to say. And really hard to swallow sometimes. Because it doesn't feel good when the answer is "no", when the life is not spared, when the job does not come through, when life is just really hard.

But see, my feelings don't dictate God's character. And really, that's a good thing.

Oh, I've been told "no" to an urgent plea. And it hurt. As Beth Moore puts it in a book of hers, it hurt my feelings. I'm not going to pretend that all these years later I get it now, that I understand why He said "no". That I now see the glorious purpose in the pain.

Um, no.

But has my faith been stretched? You betcha. Because at that moment, when the "no" hurt to the very marrow, God gave me a choice: 1)abandon Him, the one who said "no" or 2)cling to Him even though I was hurt. There was no in-between.

So with a deep breath, many tears and hurt feelings I chose to stay. And although there's so much I still don't understand about those circumstances, a peace that passes understanding allowed me to start digesting that God had not failed me.

He was still good.

Life's hard. We live in a fallen world with situations that bring us to our knees, crying for the Lord to come quickly. And it's right for us to pray, to pray for miracles, to pray for compassion, to pray for healing. We are God's dearly loved children and He loves to give good gifts to us.

It's hard to say this without saying cold or trite. Please hear the tenderness in my heart, the heart that's also withstood a devastating "no", when I say to remember that God is still good when bad things happen. He does not want us to fall away on account of circumstances. Instead He wants us to run to Him so He can embrace us and wipe the tears from our face.

And because God is good, remember that this world is not our home. One day there will be no tears, no heartbreak, no enemy.

And that is very, very good.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wants and Needs

Do you ever get the feeling God is trying to tell you something?

Last week, the scheduled lesson to teach my 2nd graders at church was how God provided manna from Heaven and water from a rock to his grumbling children. We really focused on how God always, always provides what we need. He may choose to also provide wants and sometimes he doesn't. But He always supplies our needs.

When I came home I picked up my daughter's Sunday school handout to see what they had discussed in her class: Jesus using the boy's fish and loaves to feed thousands. Um, in other words, how God provided exactly what the people needed at the right time.

Then this morning I was half-listening to the little Bible cartoon my daughter was watching. But my ears perked up when I realized they were talking about how God always supplies what we need even if He doesn't supply what we want.


This makes me a little nervous, honestly. I have to wonder if something is coming where I will need to remember the lesson of wants vs. needs.

Well, I guess even if something specific never happened it would be a good lesson to remember anyway. Like right now I really want a large piece of chocolate cake and Blue Bell milk chocolate ice cream. This is not a need, this is not a need . . .