Sunday, November 22, 2009

Be faithful

As Danica woke me at 6 am this morning with her usual "MAMA" call my heart felt discouraged. I am tired and a little bit depressed. The days all seem the same and my hours are full of he mudane. After I got her settled I opened my email and "Grace Gems" had this encouraging word:

Nothing more

(J. R. Miller, "Life's Byways and Waysides")

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master's happiness!" Matthew 25:21

No higher praise can be given to any life--than to say it has been faithful. No one could ask for a nobler epitaph than the simple words, "He was faithful." This will be the commendation given in the great account, to those who have made the most of their talents: "You have been faithful with a few things!" Faithfulness should therefore be the aim in all our living.

It is not great things that God expects or requires of us--unless He has given us great gifts and opportunities. All that He requires of us, is faithfulness. He gives us certain talents, puts us in certain relations, assigns to us certain duties--and then asks us to be faithful--nothing more. The man with the plain gifts and the small opportunities, is not expected to do the great things which are required of the man with the brilliant talents and the large opportunities. We should get this truth fixed deeply in our mind--that God asks of nothing more--than simple faithfulness.

Faithfulness is not the same in any two people. In the man who has five talents, there must be a great deal more outcome to measure up to the standard of faithfulness, than in the man who has but two talents.

Faithfulness is simply being true to God--and making the most of one's life. Of those who have received little--only little is required; where much has been received--much is required. Never does God expect anything impossible or unreasonable from anyone. If we are simply faithful--we shall please God.

Jesus said of Mary, after her act of love, when men murmured at her, "She has done what she could!" Mark 14:7. What had she done? Very little, we would say. She loved Jesus truly and deeply. Then she brought a flask of precious ointment and broke the flask, pouring the sacred nard upon her Lord's tired feet--those feet which soon were to be nailed to the cross.

What good did it do? We know it wonderfully comforted the Savior's sorrowful heart. Amid almost universal hatred, and maddening enmity--here was one who sincerely loved Him. While other hands were weaving a crown of thorns for His brow, and others still were forging cruel nails to drive through His feet--Mary's hands were pouring ointment on His head, and bathing His feet with the nard. Who will say that Mary's act did no good? It seemed a little thing--but we cannot fathom how her sweet, pure, loyal love--blessed our suffering Savior in His bitter anguish.

Thank you God for calling me to be faithful. Give me the grace to be faithful in dishes and laundry, Reading books and giving medicine and changing diapers. Help me to know you are glorified by these simple repetitive tasks done in the right spirit and always seeking to glorify your name.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How the miracle began

March 23rd, 2007 is the day I found out I was pregnant. It was a Wednesday, and I stopped and bought a pregnancy test on my way to work. I had a private bathroom off my office and as soon as I peed on the little stick it was as positive as could be. We had been trying to have a baby. Delaney was four and a half, and I felt my career was stable and our family was very ready for an addition. Two days later I began running a fever and had horrible flu symptoms. I was a very busy lady and this illness took me completely down. I was hosting a birthday party for a friend at a wine bar in DC and was also supposed to attend an important open house that Saturday. The next week I was to leave for a week long work trip to Phoenix. By Sunday I began to bleed and after calling my OB knew I needed to stay completely in bed until the next morning when he could see me in his office. Dan took me and they did an ultrasound to find a very large subchorionic bleed threatening the sac. They told me my chances of miscarrying were about 80%. I went home and crawled in bed and cried my eyes out. I canceled my Arizona trip and stayed in bed but by Wednesday was barely spotting so I tried to go into work. As I walked up the stairs to my office I began to gush blood, and so Dan took me directly to my OB's office. The ultrasound showed what I had feared. The sac was gone. I had miscarried. He wanted me to go over to the hospital and have a DNC. I refused. I was too distraught. I told him I needed to go home and rest. He reluctantly gave me a prescription for methergen to try to get me to pass any other tissue left and sent me home. That afternoon I did pass a very large clot of something. I felt like it was the baby. So I took the next few days off work, grieving and trying to pull myself together. I told Dan I didn't want to try to have children anymore. We had our Laney. I couldn't do this. I would focus on my career and be thankful for what we had. Monday morning I went to my OB's office on my way in to work for a quick ultrasound to make sure I had nothing left inside that would cause an infection. I climbed upon the table, and she stuck the wand inside me. As loud as could be we heard it--the thumping of a tiny heart. I screamed "WHAT IS THAT?" and she got tears in her eyes and said softly, "You still have a baby inside you. It's a miracle." From that moment on I became one of the most remarkable pregnancy stories in their office. I still had a very large bleed and they reminded me my chances of losing the baby were still great but there had been no more baby just 5 days ago and here it was. (They explained I possibly had twins and lost one and the bleeding was so great they just missed the other baby.)

This is the beginning of Danica's amazing story. As I sit here in the hospital watching her sleep after almost eight hours of thrashing and screaming last night I have been crying and praying and remembering she is here by God's design. I don't completely know what I believe about miracles. I grew up thinking they were something we wouldn't really experience in this day and age because God doesn't choose to work that way anymore. I know now they are more common than we acknowledge. Just because we don't always have the eyes to see or the heart to give the glory doesn't mean they aren't here. The verse I claimed during my pregnancy was from Job 42:5 "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You."

The miracle continues in a coming post . . .

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When I can't pray

I know I should be blogging, writing in my own personal journal and praying during a week like this, but I can't. I am tired and weak and numb. I read this yesterday and it was exactly what God wanted to say to my grain of mustard seed faith.

I tried to pray this morning. I needed to pray. But the words just weren't there. I couldn't think. Was it because of the injury? The medications? I don't know. I don't know. I felt like someone in a little canoe out on a lake in a heavy fog. I would paddle first one way and then another, but I could never seem to go in a straight line or get any closer to shore. Everything seemed muffled and strange, and I couldn't see any landmarks to guide me.

And then I just got tired of paddling. Tired of even trying. So instead of reaching for words that wouldn't come, I just started thinking about Jesus: Walking the earth doing miracles. Touching the man at Bethesda. Holding the little children in His lap. Hanging on the cross. And now, lifted up so high. Beautiful, like the morning star just before sunrise.

That's when it hit me. Jesus was with me in that canoe, out in the fog. My landmark wasn't out there somewhere, He was in the boat. And I didn't need to talk just then. I could rest, feeling Him close, knowing He was there.

-Joni Eareckson Tada, A Lifetime of Wisdom

I know He's here. I don't need to patch words together. He is interceding. I can rest.

Monday, November 2, 2009


"As I reconsider my own assumptions about relating to God, I now see them as misguided and simplistic. From childhood I inherited an image of God as a stern teacher passing out grades. I had the same goal as everyone else: to get a perfect score and earn the teacher's approval. Cut up in class and you'll be sent to the back of the room to stand in the corner or to a vacant room down the hall.

Almost everything about that analogy, I have learned, contradicts the Bible and distorts the relationship. In the first place, God's approval depends not on my "good conduct" but on God's grace. I could never earn grades high enough to pass a teacher's perfect standards - and, thankfully, I do not have to.

In addition, a relationship with God does not switch on or off depending on my behavior. God does not send me to a vacant room down the hall when I disobey. Quite the opposite. The times when I feel most estranged from God can bring on a sense of desperation, which presents a new starting point for grace. Sulking in a cave in flight from God, Elijah heard a gentle whisper that brought comfort, not a scolding. Jonah tried his best to run from God and failed. And it was at Peter's lowest point that Jesus lovingly restored him.

I tend to project onto God my understanding of how human relationships work, including the assumption that betrayal permanently destroys relationship. God, however, seems undeterred by betrayal (or perhaps has grown used to it): "Upon this rock," Jesus said to unstable Peter, "I will build my church." As Luther remarked, we are always at the same time sinners, righteous, and penitent. The halting, stuttered expressions of love we offer may not measure up to what God wants, but like any parent God accepts what the children offer."

AMAZING GRACE!!! Living in this truth today!

-Philip Yancey, Grace Notes

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chinks in my armor

It always starts with being tired. This is my weakness. I have fibromyalgia and when you take away all the complicated reasons they say you have this condition it brings you to sleep deprivation and the inability of your body to restore itself. This creates a vicious cycle of pain and then less sleep and then other things go wrong and your immune systen is compromised, and it spirals out of control. I have not been feeling well since my strep/scarlet fever diagnosis last week, and took a day off my antibiotic because it was making me so sick to my stomach. I guess in hindsight that wasn't a good idea. By Friday night I was wiped and my throat was sore again, and I was so tired and discouraged. Around 2 am Danica woke up screaming like she often does these nights because of her pain and after that sleep was a lost cause for me.

Saturday morning came. It was wet and cold, and I had to get up and ready to take Delaney to her horse back riding lesson. I was in the worst humor you can imagine. Every little thing Dan did upset me. I mean why in the world was he vacuuming and washing dishes when I needed him to be watching Danica so I could get ready? (I know most of you are thinking I'm crazy now because who would complain about their husband getting up early to clean house, right?) I called him to come in the living room so I could tell him something about Danica's schedule while we were gone. I didn't want to yell because my throat hurt so badly. He didn't want to come, and I got mad. I stomped in and gave him a piece of my mind. He gave me a piece of his. I told him I can't take it anymore. And then he said under his breath the word we said we would never say again. The "D" word. A word we came all too close to several years ago. There it was. An fiery arrow piercing through the chink in my armor. I started to bleed. Hot tears spilled over, and I left with Delaney.

As I drove the almost hour to the stable I began to pray. Something amazing happens to your stubborn and proud heart when you get before your Savior. I didn't begin praying about how sorry I was, but that's where I ended up. I have to die to self. I have to realize I don't deserve any of this. I don't deserve these beautiful girls I am so blessed to serve. I don't deserve a marriage to a man who forgives me again and again and cares for me and loves me when I am so unlovable. Even on my hardest days when I feel the worst I am bought with a price. He must increase. I must decrease. I don't need a spa day or more "me" time or even a retreat from this battle I am waging. I need fresh grace to heal these wounds and the shield of faith to protect me next time the fiery darts come flying.

I know the next few months will be hard. I am preparing for tough decisions about Danica's chiari--more financial stress, less sleep, more fear, and pain--all things that could break me mentally, emotionally, physically and especially spiritually. How am I going to head into this battle before me? How will I stand? He answers me:

"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:11-17

Thank you for Your promise I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Humble my heart. Protect my soul. Protect my family and my marriage. Help me stand.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The junk drawer

Friday night Dan tucked Delaney in and she started a conversation with him about a discussion between her classmates at the lunch table about "the middle finger". We have always encouraged her to come to us with anything that she sees or hears that she doesn't understand or makes her feel uncomfortable. She attends a Christian school so the second graders knew this was a bad gesture but didn't know what it meant really and someone had suggested there was a bad word that went along with it. Delaney wanted to know the word. Dan came in our room to ask me what I thought the best decision was and together we both decided that she should just know it was a very yucky word and a bad hand gesture and although someday she would probably hear the word we didn't want it in her head right now.

So yesterday Delaney spent the day at my parents house because her cousin Avery was visiting, and I guess this was still weighing on her heart so she brought it up to my mom. My mom decided to tell her the word--the "F" word. Without getting into her reasoning, etc. let me just tell you I was livid. I wasn't just a little mad but the kind of mad where you think you are going to explode. After I had it out with her about why this wasn't her choice to make and what in the world was she thinking, I began to stew inside. When I got home I had to tell Dan and this got me all riled up again. As I tried to fall asleep it kept coming back to my mind.

This morning I felt pretty far from God and was home from church with strep throat. My heart was just stewing in this lack of forgiveness. I sat down in a puddle of God's sunshine and a moment of household peace and read a devotional from "The Sacred Ordinary" by Leigh McLeroy titled "Inside the Junk Drawer." She begins the devotional by describing the junk drawer in her kitchen (which sounds a lot like mine) and how it finally was so crammed with stuff it got stuck. She then goes on to write:

My heart has a junk drawer too. And I wish it would get stuck more often. I visit it when I’m searching for reasons why God shouldn’t love me. When I’m feeling lonely or useless or discouraged. And in it I find odd pieces of my own history that shouldn’t matter anymore but still do—some far older than a few candy pieces gone bad. This heart-drawer holds secret sins, confessed—forgiven!—but not yet removed from my memory’s outtake reel. Words I wish I’d never spoken. Words I wish I had. Failures. Lapses in ordinary kindness. Moments of misplaced shame. Old hurts I still pick the scabs from. Scars I like too much. This junk has been forgiven, or redeemed, or transformed—but still I hold on. It’s trash. All of it. So the next time this drawer hesitates to open, I mean to let it stay shut. If God has
forgotten its contents, then by his mercy I can too.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those
who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or
rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back
to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be
enslaved by them all over again?
Galatians 4:8–9 NIV

If your heart’s junk drawer is crammed full too, wouldn’t this be
a fine day to begin to empty it out completely? Where would you
choose to start?

Today I am starting with a piece of junk I threw in there just yesterday. Real love--God's love--does not harbor any wrongdoing. It is forgiving. Can I sit at the foot of the cross where every one of my sins is forgiven and hold this little hurt in my heart? I'm taking inventory of the rest of my stuff too. Making a list and really cleaning this junk drawer.

Thank you God that I do not have to be enslaved by bitterness and hurt when I feel I have been wronged. Teach me more about Your amazing sacrifice of forgiveness and grace so I can live free to love like You do.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Tuesday our little Danica had an MRI that revealed a chiari malformation in her brain. What this means in simple terms is she has a gap where most people's skulls are closed and so some of her brain is sticking out into her spinal column. Some people have this condition without symptoms, but in Danica's case she is presenting many of the most severe symptoms very early on. In many ways I think I felt initial relief knowing there is a real answer or cause to the torticollis and other issues she has been experiencing. But as I have researched and talked to several doctors over the last few days I am realizing the road ahead for us is not an easy one and includes some form of neurological surgery to try to give her relief and the best chance for normal development. I'm back to holding loosely.

On the front of Danica's baby book is a quote from Roy Lessin.
Just think,
you’re here not by chance,
but by God’s choosing.
His hand formed you
and made you the person you are.
He compares you to no one else—
you are one of a kind.
You lack nothing that
His grace can’t give you.
He has allowed you to be here
at this time in history
to fulfill His special purpose
for this generation.

Beginning March 23, 2007, the day I found out I was pregnant with this little girl, God has been making a way for Danica and preserving her life in miraculous ways. Friday Dan emailed me the verses from Psalm 139 I clung to while fighting for her those long months laying in the hospital. "For you have formed my inward parts; You have covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them."

Do I believe God makes no mistakes? Do I believe He lovingly formed this child's skull and brain how we find it today to fulfill His purpose in her life and in ours? Do I believe we lack nothing God's grace can't give us including strength for today and the days ahead? My verse for this week has been Mark 9:24 "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief."

I'm afraid. I'm so very tired. I know that trusting God with my child is perhaps the hardest thing He will ask me to do. As He grows my faith and asks me to rest in His promises. I will fall. I will have moments of anger and confusion. I will want to quit and walk away.

Oswald Chambers wrote, "Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason — a life of knowing him who calls us to go." Knowing a God who is unchanging and will do everything He says He will do is the only way I will navigate through the next weeks and months. I believe.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just as I am

I only like clean, neat, pressed things. If something has a chip or a scratch or a wrinkle I really don't want it any more. Even if it can be fixed but I know where it was fixed I can't get that out of my mind, and it still drives me crazy. I have a sickness of sorts that follows me into almost every area of my life. I need things to be whole. Sunday as I was getting ready for church I pulled on my white sweater and noticed a little wrinkle in the front. Let me tell you this was a newly dry cleaned sweater that came off a hanger, and I know the wrinkle was probably not noticeable to any one else. I plugged the iron in and instead of taking the sweater off to iron the tiny spot I put the hot iron on my belly to try to quickly fix the problem. Well, just as I did that a huge spirt of steam came out and burned me. Not just an ouch--too hot--kind of burn but the kind that left two large burn marks on my stomach.

Every day sine then as I shower or get dressed I see these big red marks on my stomach, and I have been thinking about why I am so afraid to be a little messed up. Why do I feel like I have to keep holding everything together all the time? Would it be so bad to let someone see me with a wrinkled blouse or a dirty house or completely prostrate in tears because I am just too overwhelmed? I think as a Christian I am always supposed to be strong and courageous and full of peace and joy, etc. So today I found some quiet time and started searching the Bible and guess what? God delights in our brokeness. He came to clean up messes. He came to patch us back together with the super glue of His grace and make us whole. Not the kind of repair job where no one can see where we've been either. The kind where everyone can see we were shattered in a million pieces beyond hope and He fixed us! This brings Him glory! When I read the Psalms and the Old Testament prophets I see this so clearly. They weren't afraid to let it all hang out there. They had times of complete anguish over circumstances and sin and their own inadequacies. God included this over and over again in His Word for a reason.

So here I am. I'm a mess. It's ok. I've been saved by a God who has purged me with hyssop and made me clean. He has washed me and made me white as snow. He has bound up my broken heart and gently led me in paths of righteousness. He's not ashamed of the brokeness--the years of promiscuity, drug use, unfaithfulness, idolatry, and even murder. While I was yet a sinner He sent His Son to die for me. He calls me His daughter and He is my ABBA Father. I have been reading several blogs lately where godly women are brave enough to expose the cracks and tell the truth about just how big a mess their lives were before God saved them. I see the response of the readers and it reminds me how scared we are in the body of Christ to really be vunerable. We are afraid to share our sin and our stories of where grace found us. I know for sure this is exactly where God can be most glorified and where He can lovingly call others to Himself--speaking through our brokeness and His amazing love. I am praying for courage today to come to God and live before others just as I am.

Just as I am.
By: Charlotte Elliott

Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me
And that thou bidd’st me come to thee
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just a I am; thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Prayer . . . REST

I have spent my day frantic, in tears and desperation because I have sought answers for months now in ways to heal my daughter and feel no closer to any real help for this little one. A failed attempt at her sedation and MRI last week and now a fever keeping us from sedation and botox tomorrow. I wonder if they are signs from God to turn away from such invasive efforts. If so, what else am I to do? Where am I to turn? How am I to pay for new efforts when You have only given me so much? I want to control this situation. I want the timing to be now. I have to fix this.

I settle my sick baby to nap and instead of work that needs done I quiet my heart and reach for His truth, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

I go back to a post from dear Ann at A Holy Experience, "What could change everything: A pilgrimage into prayer" Yes, prayer is the essence of rest. This baby girl is His, not mine. He loves her infinitely more than I do, and He is working His perfect plan in Her life and mine. He will lead us closer to Him through every challenge because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. REST. PRAY. REST. PRAY. REST.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Small Acts

I guess you can say I took the summer off from blogging. I began writing privately, and it made me even more real with God and myself about the work He is doing in me. I feel sad though as I come back to this little place where I live out loud and see so many days missing.

The weeks gone from here were so much the same, and in many ways I numbed myself to the monotony. I spent much of the past three months driving to and from the Chldren's hospital with my Danica taking her to doctor's appointments and physical therapy that really seemed to be doing very little good. I spent the nights running lists on a database which is about as exciting as watching grass grow. In between I would make the beds, make lunch, clean up lunch, make dinner, clean up dinner, give the girls baths, read a story, put them to bed. I would think, "If only I didn't have to run these lists and could enjoy being a full time mom. Then I would be happy." I remembered summers growing up with trips to the pool and playing outdoors for hours and fun activities planned by my mom. I felt bitter and resentful that my kids were trapped indoors while I hopped on and off my laptop for work. Some days I would literally long for a different life. I know this sounds horrible, but it's true. Not a different husband or children or house or car but a life back in the midst of people doing work that makes a difference--something I could see in the Saturday paper and eventual sales. Praying, "If I HAVE to work then please let it be something I WANT to do." I love marketing because it is results driven and success is measured in tangible ways. Creating lists for random clients certainly not so rewarding. Each time I would begin to dust off my resume and search for a way out of this angst God would answer with another reason why I need to be HERE, patiently showing me THIS daily life is His perfect plan for me.

I have prayed a lot about how to make my circle of relationship larger through church and find God saying no to even that right now. When someone would have a baby or would have surgery I would sign up to take a meal. Then it became not just a sacrifice but a near impossibility to minister in this way because of the therapy schedule and my work. God saying to me, "Be faithful right here, right now." Why is this sometimes the hardest thing to do? I couldn't even find time to have coffee with a friend or make it out of the house for a book club or a hair cut. Not a matter of changing priorities or making "me" time, simply the true and constant need for me to be at home working and caring for my girls. Why is the ministry to my husband and my children not enough for me? Why do I need affirmation from someone else, somewhere else, doing something else?

In a beautifully written book, by L.L. Barkat, "Stone Crossings, Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places," she says in a chapter about sacrifice,

". . .Or maybe on that day Jesus will speak to each of us much as He spoke to Peter. Maybe he will meet us over a fish breakfast, look us in the eye and say, "Did you love Me? Did you tend my sheep? Did you care for my children?" Tending sheep is a mundane job. It is a lot of the same old, same old--the way we feed kids breakfast, lunch and dinner, or drive to the office and deal with the same people day after day. It is repetitive, like building a stone wall rock by rock across the landscape. So it's easy for us to overlook the power of small acts that are folded again and again into the meandering swish of common love. . . Because the rewards are quiet, being dependable in common love is not always inviting. The reward of putting rock on rock isn't always visible. Sometimes the work is dirty. We get scraped and bored. We don't always see the wall of grace we're building for the Lord."

Today my Laney headed back to school and second grade. The house is quieter, and I miss her. Danica is a little lost without her big "sishy" to tussle with and play with and to read books to her and show her the ropes. Tomorrow Danica will head back to the hospital for an MRI, more tests to try to find the cause of her little crooked neck. What will we remember of the last three months together? SACRIFICE. All of us--giving up things we wanted to be doing, places we wished we could go to place lasting stones of loving one another in small acts into the great wall of grace this family is becoming.

"Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Col 3:17

Friday, June 19, 2009


Wow, it's been so long since I wrote here. Sometimes life just takes you down to a place where any meaningful writing needs to be kept private. I know the people who are are brave enough to share their hearts during those times are often the best writers, but I am not there yet. I have been thinking and feeling and praying some really raw and ugly things about my circumstances and wrestling with principalities and powers. I can tell you God is always victorious, but I am battle weary to a point I may have never been before. This morning as I watched the rain falling I prayed the words of this beautiful song by "Mercy Me." Jesus, bring the rain! Be glorified through all this and make me more like You.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Learning to Love

"Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms . . ."
Marge Piercy

I'm praying this morning for God to teach me about REAL love. Love that is patient and kind. Love that does not envy, does not boast and is not proud. Love that isn't rude or self-seeking and is not easily angered. Love that keeps no record of wrongs. Love that does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always endures.

In our crazy Oprah, Dr. Phil culture filled with so much psychotherapy and humanism we are taught to set up healthy boundaries and only love so far. We are told to protect ourselves and look out for our interests first. And so Satan tricks me into thinking there is an acceptable time to cut off someone who is just too hard to love. He tells me I just can't keep walking down this path with someone who has made so many bad choices; someone who has caused so much hurt for so many and can't even see it or feel it. As I turn around to leave, God's grace and amazing love to me stop me in my tracks. I was the unlovely. I was the one who wounded everyone I touched with selfish and sinful lies for so long. I was the one who needed the persistent reflection of Christ's love by people who were not keeping records of my wrongs but ever trusting, hoping, and enduring in their love of my soul.

Thank You for never washing your hands of me or turning away but relentlessly pursuing my heart. Please, Lord, teach me how to love like You do. Give me Your grace and help me to show it in tangible ways to the ones I find it so hard to love.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Life is wonderful

Dan and I were able to sneak away to Cleveland for an overnight date on Saturday. With so many things pressing on our minds and hearts and so much work and so little play these past weeks we completely and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our time together. There are moments in your marriage you wish you could bottle because they are so pure and so full of the truth,"It takes no time to fall in love, but it takes you years to know what love is."

One of my favorite songs of late is Jason Mraz's "Life is Wonderful." The melody and the lyrics remind me how really good the day in and day out can be if we would keep our minds and hearts open for the little gifts all around us. This weekend with my Dan was like this song, and I am so thankful for the wonderful life God has given us. Our ten years together have definitely taken us full circle through every facet of better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health and each one has taught us that we need them all to keep us loving and growing.

It takes a crane to build a crane
It takes two floors to make a story
It takes an egg to make a hen
It takes a hen to make an egg
There is no end to what I'm saying

It takes a thought to make a word
And it takes some words to make an action
It takes some work to make it work
It takes some good to make it hurt
It takes some bad for satisfaction

La la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life goes full circle
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la

It takes a night to make it dawn
And it takes a day to you yawn brother
And It takes some old to make you young
It takes some cold to know the sun
It takes the one to have the other

And It takes no time to fall in love
But it takes you years to know what love is
It takes some fears to make you trust
It takes those tears to make it rust
It takes the dust to have it polished

Ha la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life goes full circle
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la

It is, it is so....
And it is, it is so...

It takes some silence to make sound
And it takes a loss before you found it
And it takes a road to go nowhere
It takes a toll to make you care
It takes a hole to make a mountain

Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life goes full circle
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la love is meaningful
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la love

It is so wonderful
It is so meaningful
It is so wonderful
It is so meaningful
It is wonderful
It is meaningful
It goes full circle

Full Circle

Monday, April 20, 2009

Steady as we go

I haven't written much lately mostly because I began to feel like what I have to say is too personal for this forum. It's really hard to tell the truth out loud and although I am always "preaching" about how that's how we should live and love one another I have found it almost impossible these past weeks.

Life has a funny way of adding layers of tough stuff and without even realizing it's happening you wake up and realize you would rather just not get out of bed and face all the junk. When this happens to me I know I can roll over and find my Dan. He is always reminding me how far we have come together and encouraging me to just take today as it comes. If I forget my philosophy of gratitude and grabbing golden moments, he is there to dance with me in the sunlight and fresh air on a perfect April Friday night to a Dave Matthews song that means so much to us. He whispers in my ear, "Steady as we go."

Thank You for this man. Give us continued joy for the journey and keep us steady on the only real foundation for marriage and for life, our God.

"Steady As We Go"

I walk half way around the world,
Just to sit down by your side.
And I would do most anything girl,
To be the apple of your eye.

Troubles they may come and go,
But good times they are the gold.
And if this road gets rocky girl,
Just steady as we go.

Any place you wanna go,
Know I'll be next to you.
If it's treasure baby you're looking for,
I'll search the whole world through.

Know troubles they may come and go,
But good times they're the gold.
So if the road gets rocky girl,
Just steady as we go.

When the storm comes,
You shelter me.
And I don't say a word,
And you know exactly what I mean.
In the darkest times,
You shine on me.
You set me free.
And keep me steady as we go.

So if your heart rings dry my love,
I will fill your cup.
And if your load gets heavy girl,
I will lift you up.

Troubles they may come and go,
But good times be the gold.
So if this road gets rocky girl,
Just steady as we go.

Hold me,
Shine on me.
Oh, shine, shine,
Shine on me.
Shine, shine
Yeah shine on me.
Hey shine.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To know and be known

My dear Delaney has a best friend, Lauren. They are six and seven years old and love one another in a pure way that only little girls can. Lauren left yesterday for an early spring break and Delaney is lost. It truly is as if part of her is missing. I love to watch the two of them and know in my heart that friendships can really begin this early and last a lifetime. I know this because I have one that has.

I met my Angie when I was 5 and she was 8. I remember the first time I saw her. She had beautiful long dark hair, big expressive eyes and she was gorgeous. Although we knew one another from our small church and school she was older than I was so any attention from her was very special to me. In my early teen years we became inseparable and for some reason any social barriers from the age difference melted away. We were alike in so many ways. We shared a love of words and ideas that most others would laugh at. We were dramatic and silly and very serious too. We were old souls and felt things deeply. We shared a history that could not easily be explained to new friends and certainly not understood. We were knit together by formative years of joy and pain and a rare love.

There were many years of time apart. After attending the same college I took a path of sin and selfishness, and we fell out of touch. It was only a year and a half ago when I learned of Angie's breast cancer diagnosis that I was drawn to reconnect with her. I had just gone through a long and painful hospitalization, and I knew I needed to find her and love her.

The first time we emailed and then talked on the phone it was as if not a day had passed. Although so much life had happened in between, including marriage and children, our hearts remained the same, and we still owned the pieces we had kept so carefully all those years. Angie speaks of our friendship as knowing and being known. Yes, that's it. It's a rare and precious gift.

I finally took a trip last weekend to Virginia to be with my Angie. Although I spend my days breathing her life in thought and prayer, there is no substitute for friendship in the flesh. I have wanted to put into words the details of our time together and the emotions behind it. For some reason I cannot. The journey we have taken together since our reconnection is littered with Angie's fight against cancer and all the evil it brings with it. I can tell you the dark and ugly shadows of her struggle have only emphasized the light of our great God's love, the author of our friendship. When I hold her hand I can feel how fragile life is and how achingly beautiful each moment we are given HAS to be. Reluctantly, I hold it loosely, knowing she belongs to God and He has each day of her life written in His book, but I beg Him for more time to know and be known by this dear one and please, a place right next to her when we get to Heaven!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mighty to Save

This song has been on my my lips for so many reasons these days. I spent the weekend in a town in Virginia where I used to live, a place where I spent the most painful and sin filled years of my life. As I drove the streets of Harrisonburg I saw God's grace to me on every corner and this anthem rang louder and louder in my heart. Is there someone you are praying for tonight that seems just too far gone for God to reach them? He is mighty to save!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted" Isaiah 61:1

The Hebrew word for "broken" in this verse is "shavar" meaning "to burst, break into pieces, wreck, crush, smash; to rend, tear in pieces (like a wild beast) . . ." My heart is broken today. I found out news about someone I have loved my entire life. The repercussions of choices she has made will ripple through many lives in the coming days, weeks, months and years. More hearts and lives will be broken. I have painfully moved in the last 24 hours from anger and any personal hurt to a deep wounded cry to my God to save a soul that is clearly lost and certainly deceived. I am convicted because I have not spoken the truth to her in the past months. In many ways I have turned a blind eye to blatant sin because I am tired and overworked and busy with my life and deep down afraid of losing affection or what little relationship we have. What I believe is God's Word has the power to save and change lives and keep one from sin and destruction and still I held back from speaking absolutes. This failure on my part to share the Gospel is also heartbreaking.

In one of my favorite passages in the Bible the prophet Isaiah says "This sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break into pieces like pottery." Isaiah 30:13-14 So, where do we go when our hearts are smashed into a million pieces? Where do I point someone I love when their selfish choices collapse around them? Isaiah follows in verse 15 with the beautiful answer for all of life's brokenness, "In returning (or repentance) and rest is your salvation." Christ was sent to heal the brokenhearted. Strong's Dictionary has a very visual definition to the word "bind up" as " to compress, . . . to stop." God defines a broken heart as one that is hemorrhaging. Beth Moore says in her Bible study, Breaking Free, "The idea of compressing the hemorrhaging heart is very much like the practice of applying pressure to a badly bleeding wound. What a wonderful picture of Christ! A crushing hurt comes to our heart and the sympathizing, scarred hand of Christ presses the wound; and just for a moment, the pain seems to intensify . . . but finally the bleeding stops. Oh my friend, are you beginning to see the intimate activity of Christ when we're devastated?"

Thank You, God, for the healing hand of my Savior on life's deepest wounds. Give me faith to believe You can bind up even this situation and the hearts and lives involved. Please give strength and grace in the coming days and, God, please show Your saving love to each soul and bring peace.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring is a Promise

Spring is a promise
in the closed fist
of a long winter. All
we have is a raw
slant of light at a low
angle, a rising river
of wind, and an icy rain
that drowns out green
in a tide of mud. It is
the daily postponement
that disillusions.
(Once again the performance
has been canceled by
the management.) We live
on legends of old
springs. Each evening
brings only remote
possibilities of
renewal: "Maybe
tomorrow." But the
evening and the morning
are the umpteenth day
and the God of sunlit
Eden still looks
on the weather
and calls it good.

It's no secret I love Luci Shaw's poetry. After a weekend of warm temperatures and open windows we are back to a cold rain today and this poem reminds me it is all good.

I spent much of the weekend holding up my dear Angie in prayer as she was back in the hospital with an infection. I wrestled with God over His purpose in allowing more trial. I prayed He would help Angie to see the "raw slant of light" in the midst of another cold rain. I prayed she would be able to hold onto the promises of her God, our God, that renewal is coming and even this is working for good. As I pray truth I struggle with my own doubt. Is spring really coming?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

He who promised is faithful

Here I am on another Sunday morning not at church. I have a hard time reconciling what I believe about God being in control of every aspect of my life and how much power Satan has to keep me away from the assembling of believers. Yesterday I thought things were pretty much back to normal. Dan and I were able to sneak out and have lunch together while my parents watched the girls. Delaney was finally feeling better, and I had promised to take her to the 3D movie, Coraline at 7pm. Going to the movies is a very special treat in and of itself but for a little girl who has a 7pm bedtime that rarely wavers it was a really big deal. As we set out at 6:15pm to head to the theater I could tell she was acting a little strange. 5 minutes into our 10 minute drive I asked her a question and didn't get an answer. "Delaney, are you awake back there?" I shouted. She answered quietly, "Yes, just wake me up when we get there." The pouring rain began to turn to snow and ice, and I could barely see. I told her how this costs a lot of money, and I really don't think we should go now if she is tired and can't enjoy it and reminded her how bad the roads could get in two hours while we were inside the theater. She insisted we must go. As we were sitting the light to turn into the parking lot she begins to cry, "Mom, I am going to throw up. I need air. I need to go home. Roll down my window." So, we made our way home without any throw up in the car, and I am thinking in my head, "God, I can't do it. I just can't do more illness. You know I need to go to church tomorrow. I NEED it!"

Here I am. Delaney is still under the weather. I missed church. I told my husband I needed to go to our room for an hour and finish my Bible study for this evening. I haven't been for almost a month, and I really need to get out of this house and be with people and be encouraged. As I opened my Bible to read the passage for this week I began to weep reading the words. Every single thing I was dealing with this week was addressed in the verses in Hebrews 10:19-25.

A Call to Persevere in Faith

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Wow. He is faithful. I can come with confidence through the blood of my Savior. My conscience should be clear and my life transformed by the washing of His blood and the changing work of the Holy Spirit. In John MacArthur's commentary of Hebrews he references Romans 5:10 and paraphrases it this way, "If His death could do so much to save me, what must His life be doing in the presence of God to keep me!"

As I studied each verse I became more peaceful. God was answering my doubt and fear and struggles of the week with His promises. The end of this passage was the best part. "Don't give up on church! You are right! You need this. Recommit yourself. Even when things are hard or impossible, your desire to be there is proof He is alive in you." Again John's words stuck, "The only place where we can remain steadfast until He returns is with His people." This is an area of my life where I have not fully obeyed Him. I am so thankful He has worked in my life to move me from believing that a personal relationship with Him was enough. He has healed many of my old wounds from past church experiences that Satan had used to deceive me into thinking I didn't need the body of Christ to grow and flourish. I have so much further to go. This month of isolation and discouragement is a loving prompt from my God that I need to be encouraged by other believers. I need fellowship.

Thank You for speaking directly to me through Your Word today. Thank You that You are a God who is faithful to keep every promise. Thank You for making a way through Your Son for me to approach You boldly and crawl into Your loving arms with a clean conscience and be at peace.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Keep Saving Me

It's been forever since I have sat down to write. There are many reasons for that, but I guess the biggest one is I often hesitate to put into words the really hard days because the gratitude is buried under physical pain and fatigue and a hurting heart. I haven't been to church in a month. I have probably been out of this house a total of 5 hours in the last month. I have been working more than I'd like and dealing with continued recovery from surgery and sick kids. All the normal life stuff that makes the days run into one another like an endless stream of gray. Believe me, I am still mining the drudgery and monotony and the ordinary for blessings, but I am afraid if I stop I might not be able to start again. So, the gifts are like spots of color, out of focus because of my frenetic need to keep moving and doing and working.

Of course, the most beautiful and vibrant gift, my salvation, also becomes distorted when I operate this way. Satan attacks me and tells me the lack of joy I feel and my waning desire for the Word and prayer is because God is letting me go. He knew it wouldn't last. I could never fight the good fight or finish the race. He tells me to let the gray turn to black and just give up.

On Wednesday morning I was just about ready to lose my mind. Dan was working 3-11 that day and Delaney was home sick so I told Dan I was going out to clear my head and get a cup of coffee. When I got in the car the song, "Savior Please, Keep Saving Me", sung by Josh Wilson came on the radio. Here's the thing. When I first heard this song I was a little bothered by it. I have always been taught you can't lose your salvation and somehow the main line from this song irritated me. For the first time I listened to the words and through tears I breathed this prayer,

Savior, please take my hand
I work so hard, I live so fast
This life begins, and then it ends
And I do the best that I can, but I don't know how long I'll last

I try to be so tough
But I'm just not strong enough
I can't do this alone, God I need You to hold on to me
I try to be good enough
But I'm nothing without Your love
Savior, please keep saving me

Savior, please help me stand
I fall so hard, I fade so fast
Will You begin right where I end
And be the God of all I am because You're all I have

Everything You are to me
Is everything I'll ever need
And I am learning to believe
That I don't have to prove a thing
'Cause You're the one who's saving me

My Savior is the author and FINISHER of my faith. He sits at the right hand of God and intercedes for me. He was tempted in all ways as I am but without sin. He began a good work and will be faithful to complete it.

Thank you for continuing to save me. Thank you for the light of Your love ever peeking through the clouds of the life reminding me to lay aside every weight, hold fast and endure, always celebrating so great a salvation.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I carry your heart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
not fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

e.e. cummings

Thank you for the privilege and great blessing of carrying my Dan's heart for these eight years of marriage. Please, God, keep the tree of our love growing deeper and higher and may we never lose the wonder of this gift.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Puddle of sunshine

Almost nothing makes me happier than sitting in a puddle of sunshine. I am solar powered, and I need the light to be okay. If you could see my home you would see my chair (momma bear's chair) sitting by my bookcase and kitty cornered to a big old door with 15 panes of light reflecting glass, ceiling to floor, that create the warmest spot on even the coldest Ohio day as long as the sun is shining. This morning I am sitting here, and I have a million things I want to write about since my surgery and solitude, but I can't help but whisper a "thank you" for this warmth and light right now.

"I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." John 8:12

Monday, January 26, 2009

When I am afraid I will trust in You

I am not a brave person. I hide from things that scare me all the time or I let my fear paralyze me. As I head into my surgery tomorrow I have been thinking about my fears and what place they have in my life as a Christian. Like everything these days I am asking what God has to say about being afraid. I pulled out a chapter titled The Grip of Fear from the book "Choosing Rest" by Sally Breedlove. Here are some quotes from the parts I have highlighted and read over and over this past month.

" . . . Do we really want the gift of peace in the midst of our fears? Or do we insist that God solve our problems so that our rest flows from what He has done for us?

Sometimes our worry is the thread by which we hang onto the belief that we can do something to change our situation and end our fear. As ridiculous as it is, we believe that our anxiety gives us some measure of control. Or we believe it keeps God mindful of our problem. We are afraid that without the pressure of our fear, He might forget what we want from Him. But our anxiety and demanding prayers accomplish nothing . . .

This describes me and my worrying heart perfectly. How do I find peace and rest tonight in the midst of wanting to control the outcome tomorrow?

"In the midst of our worry, all we want is out; all we want is for God to solve it. Despite his longings David faced his fears, taking them back to God again and again. Eventually the battle inside him began to subside. His testimony is not that of a man who once and for all released his fears into God's hands, but rather that of a man who turned back to God each time the tide of fear rose in his soul.

Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and He hears my voice.
He ransoms me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.
(Psalm 55: 17-18)

The gate to the rest we long for in the midst of our fears is gained only by persistence. Again and again as our hearts fill up with fear, we turn to the Lord who is ever patient, who never shames us for our faltering, whose heart is always open wide.

When I was a child and would be frightened at night my mom would always quote the verse from Isaiah 26, "You will keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in You." My God is good. His arms are open wide tonight waiting for me to rest in His perfect plan.

Thank You for being patient when I struggle with doubt and worry. Help me to trust You more and turn back time and time again to Your rest. Please help me keep my mind on You and give me Your perfect peace as I have surgery tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Station

Before I met my husband in person we began emailing one another after the prodding of a mutual friend. I asked him what his philosophy of life was and he sent me the following essay by Robert Hastings called "The Station".

Tucked away in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We're traveling by train and, from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination--for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the Station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Station.

"Yes, when we reach the Station, that will be it!" we promise ourselves. "When we're eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!" From that day on we will all live happily ever after.

Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no Station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The Station is an illusion--it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday's a memory, tomorrow's a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday's a fading sunset, tomorrow's a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.

So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather the regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today. "Relish the moment" is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The Station will come soon enough.

I didn't know much about Dan then, but I knew I wanted to spend my life with someone who wanted to live and love this way. I had so many painful regrets in my short 23 years and was so afraid of my future. I was just taking the first steps in my gratitude journey and this essay seemed like a road map.

Dan and I have known one another 10 years now and been married almost 8 of those years. Today as I was changing the sheets, doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, running lists, all getting ready for my surgery on Tuesday, I kept thinking about our time together. These words were really an ideal we couldn't even understand fully when we met. Only in the past year and a half have we grown into this way of soaking in the preciousness of one another in the here and now. We have lost so many THINGS and found a freedom that comes from only carrying the weight of what truly matters.

Thank you for my Dan. Thank you for not just preserving our marriage but making it grow and flourish. Keep teaching us to rejoice and be glad in THIS day You have made.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why I always shave my legs before I head to the hospital

Remember how your mom would always tell you to make sure you change your underwear in case you get in an accident? Ok, maybe that was just my mom. Well, after my umpteen admissions to Shady Grove hospital during my last pregnancy, which always seemed to end up in scans and then some kind of procedure or surgery, I learned to shave my legs before I went no matter how much pain I was in. The last admission ended up being over 3 weeks and after they put me in a constant epidural with wires going into my back I wasn't permitted to shower or shave at all. There were a lot of horrible things about my experience but for someone who is OCD and pretty obssessed with hair removal I thought I would go out of my mind. Shaving our legs is initially a rite of passage for girls that quickly turns into a pain in the you know where. Oh how I have grumbled about the never ending task of shaving. I can honestly say if I won the lottery I would run not walk to have laser hair removal and reclaim hours of my life spent removing hair.

Today I head to the hospital for a CT scan to see what kind of ugly things might lurk in my abdomen causing me so much pain. I thought about just pulling on jeans and a sweatshirt and going like a bum, but then my fear of becoming captive there for some kind of unseen reason took over and all I could think of was, "What if I can't shave my legs!" As I went through my ritual in the shower I realized this is how my mind and heart have changed. Something as silly as shaving has become a reason for praise. Today I am here, healthy enough to shower and yes, remove hair from my legs. It's a good day. It's true, when you lose almost everything the world becomes a different place. Every moment is a gift and my God is always good.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand... and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it is too late. Marie Beyon Ray

I am learning to hold on to moments. This morning when I went in to get my Danica out of her cribby I looked at her sweet smile and arms lifted to greet me and there was nothing else in my world or in hers but that feeling. This Colbie Callait song, Bubbly, makes me think of both my girls and what snuggle bugs we are and how happy they make me.

Thank You for little gifts wrapped in minutes. Open my eyes to see Your love in everything around me and help me to use each moment up.

Bubbly - Colbie Caillat

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christ is praying for me

"If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me." Robert Murray Mc'Cheyne

My dear friend Angie sent me this quote awhile ago. I jotted it down and have thought of it from time to time, but as I have been studying the book of Hebrews the powerful truth that Christ is actually making intercession for me has become more real, and I am amazed. So, what is He praying about? Last night in GROW we read from John 17 the prayer of Jesus for Himself, for His disciples and for all believers, and as many times as I have read through the book of John I have never thought of the passage as a detailed account of what my Savior is actually praying for me. His greatest desire for me and what He asks of His Father is that I would be sanctified,"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." It made me realize how often my prayers for myself and others are full of pleas for assistance regarding earthly things when so clearly every aspect of my prayers, whether bringing temporal or spiritual concerns, should really focus on the heart and life becoming more Christ like.

If I could hear Christ praying for me today, it would not necessarily be about the stabbing pain in my left ovary and what decisions have to be made regarding my health. Although I know He cares deeply for every detail of my life, I believe He would be asking that my response to another thorn in my flesh reflect His grace and goodness. He would be asking that I would not succumb to Satan's temptations to fear the unknown and the physical pain but trust in the truth that my God is good and all wise and let that truth transform my mind and heart day by day. He is praying my outward response to this and any circumstance He brings reflect to the world His light and love. He is really praying for one thing, my sanctification, making me more like Him. What peace I would find if I could really grasp knowing the greatest desire of my heart is the continual prayer of Christ for me. Everything in my life is to this end, to become like my Savior.

Thank You for the comfort found in the truth that You live to continually make intercession for me. Teach me how to pray more like You. Make the focus of my prayers more about heart matters and less about things that are passing away.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


On this icy morning with more snow in the forecast I feel a gnawing angst. The holidays are over, and I look at the mostly blank calendar stretching before me with nothing more than day in and day out routine. This poem from Luci Shaw reminds me even this bleak month of January has cause for praise if I embrace the details of this ordinary day and hold on to the sure hope of spring.

Psalm for the January Thaw

Blessed be God for thaw, for the clear drops
that fall, one by one, like clocks ticking, from
the icicles along the eaves. For shift and shrinkage,
including the soggy gray mess on the deck
like an abandoned mattress that has
lost its inner spring. For the gurgle
of gutters, for snow melting underfoot when I
step off the porch. For slush. For the glisten
on the sidewalk that only wets the foot sole
and doesn't send me slithering. Everything
is alert to this melting, the slow flow of it,
the declaration of intent, the liquidation.

Glory be to God for changes. For bulbs
breaking the darkness with their green beaks.
For moles and moths and velvet green moss
waiting to fill the driveway cracks. For the way
the sun pierces the window minutes earlier each day.
For earthquakes and tectonic plates-earth's bump
and grind-and new mountains pushing up
like teeth in a one-year-old. For melodrama—
lightning on the sky stage, and the burst of applause
that follows. Praise him for day and night, and light
switches by the door. For seasons, for cycles
and bicycles, for whales and waterspouts,
for watersheds and waterfalls and waking
and the letter W, for the waxing and waning
of weather so that we never get complacent. For all
the world, and for the way it twirls on its axis
like an exotic dancer. For the north pole and the
south pole and the equator and everything between.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Interview with Keri Wyatt Kent on REST: Living in Sabbath Simplicity

Today I would like to welcome Keri Wyatt Kent as she stops by on her blog tour for her newest book, REST. Keri was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Sabbath that will give you a taste of the wisdom found in the book.

1. What is Sabbath, and what is its purpose? What do you mean by Sabbath Simplicity?

Sabbath, first and foremost, is a gift from our loving God. He invites us to take a day to rest from our labor, so that we might engage in relationship with Him and with others. Its purpose is to refresh us physically and spiritually, to celebrate our freedom, to draw us close to God, and yet to remind us that we are not God. God commanded us to Sabbath, to stop. But Sabbath-keeping is also a spiritual practice or discipline. All disciplines, (like prayer, solitude, etc.) create some space for God in our lives. Just as we have a lot of latitude in other practices (we can pray any number of ways, for example), we have freedom in how we practice Sabbath. My book offers a lot of ideas, and real-life examples, of how to approach this life-giving practice. Sabbath Simplicity is a sanely-paced, God-focused life. It’s a lifestyle that includes the practice of Sabbath-keeping, but goes beyond just taking a day off. In a way, it’s living out what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 6:33: Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Sabbath Simplicity seeks God first.

2. How does practicing the Sabbath in today’s busy society differ from the ancient concept of the Sabbath? Why is it so different? Why is it still important?

The ancient Jewish Sabbath had very strict boundaries, but within those boundaries, there was freedom and relationship. The Torah and traditions prohibited what was known as melachah, work that is creative or exercises dominion over your environment. There were 39 specific tasks, such as reaping, lighting a fire, etc., that correlated to the 39 tasks needed to build the temple. Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, gave us a new way of following the ancient law. Jesus reminded us that the law was originally meant to invite us into relationship with God. While the Bible makes it clear that we are saved by grace, and not by the law, God’s law still remains a great way to live—as long as we don’t get legalistic or think keeping certain rules will save us. It’s important for many reasons, which I cover in the book. But here’s just one key reason: it allows us to experience the unconditional love of God in a physical, tangible way. It’s one thing to say he loves us even when we are not accomplishing or performing. But if we never actually stop performing, how can we experience that unconditional love? It allows us to say yes, with our bodies and our schedules, to Jesus invitation in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Sabbath is not so much something you “do” as a gift you receive.

3. You have a chapter in the book about how Sabbath connects Christians to the Jewish roots of their faith. Why is that important?

We live in a culture that forgets history so easily. Our faith roots are in Judaism. Christianity is “a branch grafted in” to the tree of the Jewish faith. We cannot understand the New Testament fully without the context of the Old Testament—also known as the Torah. The Sabbath is a picture of God’s grace—we don’t work, yet God provides. Jesus is our peace, our Shabbat Shalom. Plus, we are followers and disciples of Jesus. As should, we should live as he lived, practice what he practiced: prayer, solitude, Sabbath. In the book, I note: “The cure for our isolation and disconnection is not simply more relationships but deeper ones, and a deeper connection to our shared past.” Also, a pivotal ritual in our faith—communion, is based on a Jewish Sabbath meal, the Passover. Sabbath meal always includes wine and bread—again, the communion elements. Even though they have different meanings, the Sabbath meal was a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice for us.

4. Didn’t Jesus set us free from the law? If so, do we even have to practice Sabbath at all? What did Jesus say about the Sabbath?

By that argument, it would be okay to kill or commit adultery, because we are free from the law. What Jesus set us free from is being saved or in right relationship with God through the law. We’re saved by grace, not by law keeping. So we won’t be saved by Sabbath-keeping, but it is still how God invites us to live. Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for people. If God makes something for you, it’s a gift. He said it was not about the rules, but relationship. It’s a spiritual practice that brings us close to God. I have a whole chapter in the book that talks about what Jesus said about Sabbath. Researching that chapter was very interesting. I noticed that Jesus often taught by saying “You’ve heard it said…but I say.” For example, He’d say, “You’ve heard it said, don’t commit adultery, but I say, if you look at a woman with lust, you’ve already committed adultery.” But He didn’t use that particular style of teaching on Sabbath. But the thing he seemed to get in trouble with the Pharisees and teachers of the law for most was breaking their Sabbath rules. I think that in the breaking of the rules, He was saying to them, “You’ve heard it said…but I say” with his actions.
He healed on Sabbath, restored relationships, taught and confronted, and defended those choices vigorously. He called us to a new understanding of Sabbath—and clearly stated that legalism is not His way.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Sabbath keeping and what you've read so far on my blog of Keri's book in prior posts, A star to discover and REST. Keri is giving away a free copy of REST to one reader who comments today. Even if you don't win I highly recommend getting a copy and beginning your new year with a heart to obey God by seeking Sabbath simplicity in your own life. I am praying rest for you all in 2009.

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity is available at bookstores everywhere, and on-line. Click here to purchase it from or

Friday, January 2, 2009


You arouse man to take joy in praising You, for You have made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.
-St. Augustine

I began a journey with Keri Wyatt Kent in her book Breathe over a year ago. I love the way she tells stories I can relate to about women trying to find time and space for God in their busy lives. My copy is dog eared. I kept it in the console of my car and would read chapters waiting for the bus with my daughter coming home from school each day. I would inhale and exhale the call to quiet my heart and life. Here's the thing though, I felt like the book needed a sequel. I was breathing, but I still felt tired and anxious even when being still. Slowing my life down wasn't enough. I needed to REST. As a sufferer of sometimes very severe fibromyalgia flares the issue of rest is near and dear to my heart. I struggle to even fall asleep most nights and my physical body is perpetually tense and in pain. Although there are very real physiological reasons for my symptoms I know they also stem from an inability on my part to shut my brain down and give all my burdens over to my God. Where does this constant need to strive come from and what is the answer?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29) This verse introduces Keri's newest book, REST. She begins her book where we should always start when trying to learn and grow in an area of our life--with what God has to say in His word. She then beautifully unwraps the Sabbath, a gracious gift packaged in a command, no longer tied with the ribbon of the old law but with the freedom offered us in Christ.

There is a clear path in the book showing the purpose and progression of learning to live in Sabbath simplicty; rest, reconnect, revise, pause, play and pray. Each chapter spoke to an area of my life, but I was particularly challenged by the chapter on playing. I realize how strange this may sound, that God would convict me about finding time for play, but He did. Keri points out in her book how children when occupied in play are simply in the moment enjoying it. I admit I am so rarely able to find myself in a childlike place when it comes to enjoying the good gifts from my God. As a mom of a six year old and a one year old who also works from home 30 hours a week and holds myself to a very high standard of keeping up my home, I really don't remember how to play. There are things I truly love to do, that make me feel like I am really using my gifts or gathering inspiration, but I don't make time for them. When I do rarely take time to go to an art gallery, a greenhouse or scrapbook and collage, for instance, I feel a joy and a peace that settles my mind and spirit and recharges me. God is calling me to find Him in play and regularly make this part of my Sabbath routine. He is asking me to look on what He has created for me to enjoy and without regret over the past or worry for the future rest in His amazing gifts now.

If you are weary and burdened I highly recommend you read REST and join me in celebrating God's all wise gift of Sabbath. Keri will be dropping by on Monday to answer some questions about her new book and my readers will have a chance to win a copy from Zondervan! Hope to see you then.

Great Love