Friday, December 31, 2010

Walking into Sunshine

The passing of years is comforting to me. I am learning to welcome change. Few people receive the gift of being fully aware of each moment as it is lived, but aging brings the ability to see more clearly. I appreciate the moments more, notice them more as I live them.

A thunderstorm overhead is tugging the old year away. I am going to sit by the fire, snuggled in a quilt while I sip a cup of hazelnut coffee. With my favorite polka-dot pen, I am going to write down some questions for my "Pondering Journal":

What is it I want? I'm setting aside what others would assume I want. I'm letting go of what I've always thought I wanted.

What is it I know for sure? I need to get beyond what I feel, think and have been taught. It's a good time to examine and discern lessons learned.

What shall I change?I need to make decisions about schedules, habits and choices. Some changes must wait. Some changes are ready to bear fruit.

Once the thunderstorm and rain have washed my world clean and fresh, the old year will be gone. As I step into the sunshine and walk into 2011, I will be hoping for a rainbow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Truly Thankful

Burrowing into my soft robe, I snuggled under a quilt before the fire, a steaming cup of tea warming my hands. Soft jazz soothed my weary spirit. As I breathed in the lingering sweetness of gingerbread and glanced around at the photos of my healthy loved ones, I smiled. The cheerful surroundings called me to a thankful heart with a relaxed ease. A harsh winter may come this year and I shiver at the very idea, but my heart, fueled by gratitude, frequently bursts forth into song.

But am I truly grateful or am I reacting to creature comforts and happy thoughts? Am I thankful only when life is going as planned?

An avalanche of misery and suffering in the world can so quickly overwhelm us. Burrowing into a robe of complacency and snuggling under a quilt of thanksgiving is a mistake however cozy we can make ourselves feel. That sort of thanksgiving is temporary and accomplishes nothing.

Faith that moves mountains starts with being truly thankful in all seasons of life. The me I want to be is beckoning me toward a life of deeper faith, a faith fueled by gratitude no matter what my circumstances. My God is a consuming fire. Blaze, Spirit, blaze! Set our hearts on fire!

Won't you join me? Couldn't we fan the flames in one another and melt the avalanche of misery and suffering around us? Wouldn't the greatest ThanksGiving be that moment when we realize we have indeed made a difference in the lives of people around us?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies and Cinnamon Tea

New readers come to my blog every day from foreign lands. I'm embarrassed to admit that about once a week I have to ask my husband for a geography lesson. But, oh, how quickly God can change strangers into friends!

Knowing you are there creates a longing to sit with you and visit over a cup of tea. Your presence challenges me to love more deeply and pray more fervently. Thank you for spending time with me. You have led me out of myself and into the world beyond American soil. You have welcomed me into your home and into your life.

Joy to the world! The Messiah has come! Immanuel, the God who is with us, is able to silence our differences of opinion, language and tradition. He is the God who reigns over all the earth and unites His people from the North, South, East and West. He is the God who sees us and the God who loves us, the God who is there and is not silent. Let us sing together one and all in joyous song!

Welcome to my life, dear readers. Step into my home and my heart for you have brought much blessing and honor to me. Come sit at my table and share with me - warm gingerbread cookies and cinnamon tea.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you now and forever and give you peace.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas With Jesus

I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights like heaven's stars
Reflecting in the snow.

The sight is so spectacular
Please wipe away that tear
For I am spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
That people hold so dear
But earthly music can't compare
With the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you
The joy their voices bring
For it's beyond description
To hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
Trust God and have no fear
For I am spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I can't tell you of the splendor
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you imagine Christmas
With our Savior, face to face?

May God uplift your spirit
As I tell Him of your love
Then pray for one another
As you lift your eyes above.

So let your hearts be joyful
And let your spirits sing
For I'm spending Christmas in Heaven
And I'm walking with the king!

Author: Wanda Bencke. (1998)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Paper Snowflakes

When I was leaving the store earlier this week, I paused to visit with an older gentleman who was ringing a bell for the Salvation Army donation bucket. A small boy dropped some pennies into the bucket, then handed me a paper snowflake he had made.

"Thank you so much," I told the boy. "What a kind thing you are doing to give both your money and a snowflake to help other children."

"My mom gave me the money, but I made the snowflake," he said softly. "Do you think some kid would like to have it?"

I smiled at his "widow's mite" and nodded. "Very much. Snowflakes make everything better, don't you think?"

He agreed and reached into his pocket. Sprinkles of glitter fluttered around us like a snowfall in a rainbow of colors as he pulled out a stack of paper snowflakes. "Would these help, too?"

I glanced up and noticed tears in the eyes of the old gentleman still faithfully ringing the bell. I looked back into the bright hopeful eyes of the young boy. With my hands full of paper snowflakes I began to sing, "Away in a Manger."

The little boy began to sing along. The older gentleman began to sing along. Then an elderly woman waiting with her cart for a ride began to sing along. In moments, a crowd of strangers was smiling and singing Christmas carols one after the other.

One small boy believed a paper snowflake could change his world...and it did.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Notes

Christmas cards and letters greet me when I open my mailbox every day. No matter how hard it is to write words, we keep trying, even if we need help from Hallmark.

Brightly colored Christmas drawings from the children cover my refrigerator. Facebook statuses frequently feature cheery quotes and always bring a smile. Reluctant writers all over the world are putting pen to paper to warm the heart of a friend during the Christmas season.

What a delightful surprise to open the mailbox and discover brightly colored envelopes among the bills and advertisements! How lovely to hold a recent photo that falls in my lap as I open a card or letter. Being remembered by someone warms my very heart and brings a smile to my face as precious memories flood my soul.

Today as I snuggle under a quilt by the fire I will enjoy writing notes in my Christmas cards. It's rather a charming and endearing tradition we have kept through the generations, don't you agree?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Melody of Grace

Soft jazz soothes my spirit. Intricate melodies wash away the stress as the music seeps into my soul and quiets me. I can crawl under an old quilt by the fire, sip cinnamon tea and simply soak up the music.

Maya Angelou said, "Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness." Isn't that lovely? Being mesmerized by music carries me into a different world, a world where life moves at a slower pace and there is time to ponder. Even the word music is pretty, don't you think?

Grace is the music of the spirit. It seeps in to our innermost places, washing away the guilt and quiets the soul. Grace eases away the pain of shame and loss. It carries us to a different world where life moves at a slower pace and there is time to ponder. Even the word grace is pretty, don't you think?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Candy Cane Wishes

I decided to end an argument over who had the most Legos by creating a snack break for the children. They were both cold and hungry, but a couple of hours away from a pizza party. All it took to gather the children was the sounds I make in the kitchen getting out freshly decorated Christmas tree cookies and a pan to make hot chocolate.

Carson and Lydia hurried to my side to help as I got down the snowmen mugs, marshmallows and cocoa. The older siblings, Kaelyn and Joya, joined me and began to get out spoons, plates and napkins. Our cheery chatter turned to sharing memories of favorite treats enjoyed during the holidays.

"Can I have a candy cane with my hot chocolate? And marshmallows?" Carson asked. "And sprinkles and whipped cream?"

"I don't think I have any whipped cream to put sprinkles on," I explained, sorry to disappoint him.

Carson, however, is nothing if not adaptable and creative. He paused, frowned thoughtfully, then easily solved his problem. "Well, then, I will just dip my cookie in it. Can I have the biggest cookie?"

Before his three older sisters could argue in their own interests, I shook my head no. "That's being greedy, Carson. It's not kind."

He grinned. He already knew he was being greedy. "Okay. I'll just have the cookie with the most sprinkles then and a candy cane. And marshmallows. And chocolate in my hot cocoa, okay?"

We all have a greedy child living inside of us, don't we? So easily tempted, we want things that are no longer-lasting than a candy cane wish, even though we already have more than enough.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Father of Light

Good morning, Father.

Good morning, Child.

As I enter this time of fasting will you help me to stay focused on You? Will you remind me, soothe me and mold me? Teach me to see with Your eyes and love with Your heart. Won't You fit me to Your image?

I will.

Please ready me for the fast physically, emotionally and spiritually. Take every thought captive and renew a right spirit in me. Cleanse me from every sin. Free me from the chains that so easily bind me to the world. Empty me of any selfish desires and vain conceit.

I offer You my life because only You can make something beautiful out of nothing. Fill me up with Your perfect gifts of mercy and grace. Show me Your ways that I might walk in them.

I am the God who is able to do more than you ask or can imagine. I am the God who sees you. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Light in whom there is no shifting shadows.

Shine on me, Father of Light. Remove all my darkness. Light me up from the inside out, Father. Open up my heart and shine Your love through me.

Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

I love You, Father. Be Thou my vision, O God of my heart.

Come. Let us away.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jesus, I Come

This mountain You are asking me to climb seems too high, too steep. I don't think I can do it. I don't even want to do it. I am angry that You would ask me to try.

In this world you will have trouble, but I give you My peace that where I am there you may also be.

You want to fit me for heaven. You want to complete me so I am lacking in nothing. You are the Author and Finisher of my faith. I get that. I just think this trial is too much. I'm not ready.

I have your welfare and not your calamity in mind. Trust me. Walk by faith not by sight.

It seems all wrong for me. It takes so much time and focus. It's eating away my heart, my life. That can't be a good thing, can it?

Time is in My hands. A thousand years is but a day.

I'm trying to trust You, but my emotions are in a jumble. When I am weak You are made strong. But this burden rips my soul. I want to please You. I want to be what You want me to be.

Dig deeper.

I don't know how. There's nothing left in me to give. Whatever climbing this mountain of a trial is going to require, it's not in me.

Rest in Me. I am faithful even when you are faithless. I am the God who is able. Dig deeper.

What are You prompting me to do? What are you trying to teach me? Help me to understand. I'm wandering around in the foothills lost and confused. I'm in a bad place, Father. I am miserable here. Help me to be brave and strong. Teach me to be true.

Come. Let us go from this place. I'm walking alongside. I am the Way. Follow Me.

Out of my shameful failure and loss, Jesus, I come. Jesus, I come.
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus, I come. Jesus, I come.
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Age of Grace

In skin worn old and wrinkled, using battered hands to comfort broken souls, Mother Theresa walked with grace. She endeared herself to us, certainly, for her ministry to the poorest of the poor, but beyond that we are tendered by her gentle undying love and true devotion to God and her world.

How could one woman walk so lightly on the planet as to leave only a wooden bucket, tattered sandals and a tin cup? A woman who gains noble character during a lifetime of faithfulness leaves a fruitful, abundant legacy. Her footprints remain in the sands of time.

Jesus says that I must deny myself, pick up my cross daily and follow Him. My devotion to Him will bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

Annie Dillard reminds us, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." What an invigorating thought in youth! How sobering the realization to the aged.

Cinnamon Rolls

In Bread Machine:

3/4 c plus 2 Tablespoons hot water
2 Tablespoons soft butter
2 1/2 cup bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Run Bread Machine on dough setting.

Remove dough from bread machine
. Roll into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Spread with butter, cinnamon and sugar. Roll into a long roll and cut into rounds. Place in a 9 X 13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Let rise until doubled in size. I do this in a warm oven that has been turned off. It takes about an hour.

Bake at 350 degrees. Length of baking time is determined by number of rolls. A breakfast may call for 9 large rolls and will take about 15-20 minutes to bake. When served with other sweets, I usually make 18 smaller rolls.

Filling: 1/3 c sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Vanilla Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 Tablespoons of milk

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Grandma's Antique Cameo

The antique cameo I inherited from my grandmother shows a woman of refined beauty and character. To see her I need only to remove the silk covering. But the orginal carver once chiseled away what was worthless to reveal the unique work of art that only he could see inside.

My life has been a long quest to find truth and beauty within the ugly stone walls of my marble heart. The day came when I glimpsed a ray of hope. A chip of sin-stone came loose and fell to the scrap pile. More chips, then chunks crumbled away to be carried as far as the East is from the West by the God who is able. I was given a glimpse of the gem God had hidden in my heart.

I passionately hammer away at my doubts and fears, frequently frustrated by my lack of skill, yet determined to dig deeper for wisdom, truth and beauty. I struggle not to make myself into what I imagine I should be, but to discover the treasure the Master Carver has buried.

The God who truly sees me can also see the cameo that awaits deep within my heart. Grace and mercy prompt His patient wait through my struggle, failure and discouragement. To the wise and skillful teacher, discovery by the student is pure joy, valuable and precious. As my Creator, He made me who I am. As the Author and Finisher of my faith, He leads me to discover who he has made me to be.

What waits for me in in the innermost region of my very heart? What will I find when I reach the end of my journey to Middle Heart? What will I see when the clutter that hinders my sight falls away and I am finally able to see the finished product?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus laughed as He scooped up the children when they ran to Him and begged for stories. He knew every name, every wound, where they liked to be tickled and how many hairs were on each head. The children knew of Him from listening to the discussions around them, but Jesus wanted them to know His love. He craved relationship with the children.

He realized that if not watched carefully, young Noah would be tangled in the fish nets. Ornery Hosea would be tossing rocks into the Sea of Galilee and splashing the old people resting on the grassy banks. The children must have called to Him, jumping and waving,"Jesus! Watch THIS!"

When He was pierced by the taunts of Pharisees He surely craved an innocent hug. How He must have laughed when a child dumped a bucket of cool water over His tired feet! Moments with the children were precious in a world of rejection.

He knows the name of Lydia's favorite doll. It matters to Him that Isaiah is struggling with numbers. He notices that Ellie Rose likes His spiders, beetles and dragonflies. He cares that John delights in grasshoppers and watches spider webs.

We are individuals to Him and He finds that endearing. He knows us. And because He knows us, He loves us.

Monday, December 6, 2010


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 1/4 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon orange extract, optional
1 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt.
Then set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in orange extract.

Mix baking soda into applesauce and stir into creamed butter mixture.
Add flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 to 50 minutes or until a
toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and orange extract. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar.

Once the cake has cooled, evenly spread the frosting on top. Decorate with chopped candied orange peel or candied ginger .

Creating from Nothing

The alarm pierced through restless sleep announcing morning. Crisp autumn breezes have turned to fierce winter winds in a 16 degree world. I dropped an open canister of coffee, burnt my finger making toast and my "to do" list is longer than usual. My arthritic body feels every moment of enjoying yesterday with 15 of my spiritual grandchildren and their parents.

Just between you, me and the gatepost, my delight in Monday mornings is more difficult to find than my research notes which have mysteriously disappeared. The potential for becoming the worst version of myself this morning is huge. Ever been there?

Tonight at the prison I will speak to the women about "The God of Comfort". The title makes Father sound quiet and decidedly quiescent. Why do we think of the God who rested on the seventh day as inactive? Doesn't He sit on the throne watching the world spin? Have you ever assumed that He loves and forgives you, but is rather disappointed in what little gets accomplished? "There, there, good and faithful servant. I'll forgive you for not being perfect. After all, you're only human."

The earth was without form and void. Darkness was on the face of the deep. Out of this nothingness, God created the heavens and the earth. It is Jehovah-God who lives and works within us to accomplish His good purposes. Tough mornings light up that truth like Christmas tree lights. He takes a day when I have nothing to give and works it for his glory. My God is a consuming fire. He is wild. He has thunder in His footsteps and lightning in His fists.

Father. There is nothing in me that is able to accomplish the simplest of tasks on this Monday morning. I know it. You know it. In my weakness, You are made strong. What I am able to do, I will do. You are the God who is able to do more than I ask or imagine that You can do with this day. I want to sign my name to the end of this day knowing that You created something out of nothing.

The God Who is There

Good morning, Father.

Good morning, Beloved Disciple.

Is the real me talking to the real You? I don't want some fable I've made up inside my head. I want to know the real You.

If You want to know me, look at Jesus.

That's what I'll do. I'll start over at the beginning and look at the life of Jesus.

Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I have commanded.

I mess that up a lot, though. Jesus lived with eyes wide awake to the needs around Him. He was genuine and authentic, completely real. I want to be like that.

Even though you're messed up.

Yes. Even though I'm messed up.

And dripping with grace.

Yes. And dripping with grace. You are the God who is there and is not silent. Your grace is enough. You are able to do more than all I ask or imagine.

I Am.

The Great I AM...The God of Abram, Isaac and Jacob. The One who was and is and is to come. The Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.

I love you.

I love You, too, Father.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A 1 Corinthians 13 Christmas

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family. I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust… but giving the gift of love will endure.

~Author Unknown~

Friday, December 3, 2010

Up the Mountain

This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let's neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.

(John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress)

My spiritual climb has seen both painful struggles and leaps of faith, but whatever it took, I now discover my feet have landed on a new plateau. Like Dorothy opening the door to Oz, I am awestruck, intrigued and eager to explore.

A spiritual plateau is an opportunty not to be taken lightly. The climb has taught me to rely on God's direction and each new height provides me a new perspective from which to see things through His eyes. Looking back on the ravines I somehow avoided I now see how deep and dangerous they really were, and how impressive God's careful and powerful guidance.

The broken paths I've been traveling now seem to have smoothed out considerably. Sunshine lights up the view so I can see more clearly the wisdom and protection of God, my Guide.

I stop to collect treasures from this new plateau: a greater clarity of purpose, deeper faith in His Word, a wider comprehension of the scope of truth, and a richer enthusiasm for my faith-walk. There's less "me" here, more of "Him".

It's time to move on. As the old hymn states, "My heart has no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay."

My steps once again are unsure and my vision for the future is hazy. The pathway has grown steep, rocky and dark. Apprehension is to be expected, but experience has taught me that there is a God who sees me and a God who is able. He has brought me this far by faith and He will not fail me.

I am learning to hesitate less when my Guide says "Come" and to worry over my wounds less when I get scraped and bruised. Insights to new weaknesses and strengths have opened up. A new awareness of God's presence, power and love awakens the desire for more time spent with Him.

I'm getting better at dodging the avalanches, great and small, sent by Satan. My weary steps will stumble and, believe me, I do a lot of slipping and falling down. But it's okay that I slip up and skin my knees. God's patient mercy is making a difference. His grace is sufficient, just like He promised.

I can't see the top of the mountain from here, but as I climb, my faith has caught the joyful song of saints on higher ground. Their heavenly music pulls me, soothes me, encourages me, thrills me. I can hear my Saviour calling and I'll go with Him all the way.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


You are my eternal portion, my Father of Light. You are my Prince of Peace and my stronghold, my help in times of trouble, my Joy and the Crown of my life.

You alone are God of the Ages, God before man and God before time.

I have promised to obey Your words because You are faithful to all Your promises and loving toward all You have made.

I am a bruised reed, yet You will not allow me to break.
I am a smoldering wick, yet You will not allow me to be snuffed out.

In all my ways I will acknowledge You so that You will direct my paths. I will hope in You and not lean on my own understanding and ways.

Change me from the inside out, Father. Mend my brokenheart and make me whole again. Fill me with hope and encourage me with Your mercy. Live in me and through me and with me and all around me. You are the Author and Finisher of my faith.

Trust in Me. I will do it.

Father, in You I live and move and have my being. I don't understand it, but I love it, Father. I will hold my peace because You are able to fight for me. You are able to do more than all I ask or even imagine in my life. I trust in You and I will not be afraid. I will keep walking by faith and not sight.

Nothing shall separate you from me...not death, nor life, nor angels...not things present nor things to come, nor powers or heights or depths or any other created thing shall be able to separate you from my love. That's why I sent Jesus. That's why I made you my child.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Queen of Christmas

It takes us about six weeks to celebrate Christmas at our house. Starting with ThanksGiving and ending with New Year's Day, our home begins to resemble Santa's Workshop. My husband is Chief Elf in charge of the Christmas tree, gift shopping and wrapping. My tasks include decorating, baking, shopping for stocking stuffers and making cards. Rushing, whining, overspending and exhaustion are not added to the "To Do" list.

Numbering our days aright will make us wise. A discerning heart focuses on what is important rather than being ruled by the tyranny of the urgent. Simplified schedules and finely tuned household jobs make it easier to enjoy seasonal activities. What a difference it makes to know the heart and home are prepared for celebration and loving people to Jesus!

Savoring each task slows down the mind and alleviates stress. Creativity lightens the mood. Burdens seem less daunting. A calm mind can ponder endings and beginnings. The heart at peace can grieve losses and celebrate victories. Having a month long celebration of who Jesus is and what that means to us brightens our holiday season. Frazzled fray melts into relaxed refreshment.

Father, won't You be Lord of Christmas in our home? You're the Prince of Peace and I will live my life for You. Joy to the world! You have come to dwell among us! Oh, Father, You give a peaceful heart that dances with overflowing joy! Merry Christmas to You, Father! Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanks Giving Back

Oh God, when I have food,
Help me to remember the hungry.

When I have work,
Help me to remember the jobless.

When I have a warm home,
Help me to remember the homeless.

When I am without pain,
Help me to remember those who suffer.

...And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency and stir up my compassion. Make me concerned enough to help, by word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted.

~Samuel F. Pugh

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Loving Joy

"We hunger for joy. 'Satisfy us in the morning,' writes the psalmist - but not with more money or power or applause. 'Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love so that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.'

Joyful people make us come alive.

When the book of law was read to the people in Nehemiah's day, they were overwhelmed by inadequacy and guilt. Nehemiah gave to them and us a remarkable statement: 'The joy of the Lord is your strength.' We know we love joy, but we often forget the power of joy. Joy gives us the strength to resist temptation. It brings the ability to persevere. Joy is the Velcro that makes relationships stick. Joy gives us energy to love. A person who brings joy to us is an oasis in a desert land. We don't just need air and food and water. We need joy."

John Ortberg, "The Me I Want to Be"

Father, won't You please cultivate joy in me? Fill the soil of my life with joy-seeds that grow stronger and healthier every day. Water my spirit with Your lovingkindness until I am dripping with grace. You are My Joy, My Strength and My Song. You are My Glory and the One who lifts my head to The Light.

The Lost Sheep


I don't know where my child is, but You are the God who knows. I can't see if he's hungry, cold or afraid, but You are the God who sees. I won't know when he cries himself to sleep or shakes from despair and loneliness, but You are the God who is able. Does he need for anything? Is he safe? You are Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides.

Nothing is impossible for You, Father, but sometimes this is impossible for me. The pain of loss rips too deeply. Losing a child is too much to bear. Time does not heal all wounds.

I Am the God who cares. Remember the parable of the lost sheep.

The shepherd left the 99 in the fold to go search for the lost sheep, to bring him home. You are the God who searches for the lost sheep.

I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and My sheep know Me. They hear My voice.

You were willing to lay down Your life for the sheep.

For every lost sheep. For every lost child.

Tonight I pray for every parent of a lost child. Give us faith to be strong. Give us hope while we wait.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The God Who Comforts

Oh, Father.


Hearts are breaking. Grieving. Death comes so suddenly sometimes that it takes my breath away. It leaves a gaping hole that burns.

My heart breaks first when sad things happen.

You could have stopped death from happening, but You didn't. I don't understand Your ways. They can bring disappointment, stir up anger and confusion.

I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me never dies.

You are the forever God. You allow what You hate to accomplish what You love. You create something out of nothing.

Every good and perfect gift comes from Me.

You give and take away. From everlasting to everlasting You are the God who reigns, the God who sees, the God who provides.

The God who comforts...The God who loves. The God who is faithful.

My God who is there and is not silent.

I Am the God who gives a song in the night. I will put a new song in your mouth, a song of praise to Me. Many will see, and fear and will trust in Me.

Heavenly peace, divinest comfort. That's where my heart can dwell during sorrow. That's where my heart can trust. That's where my soul can rest and find hope.

Life with Purpose

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD
And the day of vengeance of our God;

To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting

So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

~Isaiah 61:1-3

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the tother, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanks Giving


I Am here.

I'm having some trouble being the person I want to be. The things I should do, I don't do and the things I shouldn't do, that's what I do. I want You to matter in my life more than anything else...more than my comfort, more than my opinions, more than my pride, more than my wants. I want You to have my whole heart.

I do have Your whole heart. You gave it to Me.

What do You see in there?

Broken dreams and broken schemes. Scars. Wounds. A lot of blood.

Sounds bad.

Healing blood. Redeeming blood.The blood is Mine, not yours.

If I confess my sins, You are faithful and just and will forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.

I Am faithful even when you are not faithful. My promises are new every morning.

All I have needed Your Hand has provided. Morning by morning new praises I see. Great is Your faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Happy ThanksGiving, Daughter.

Happy ThanksGiving, Father.

Come, Little Leaves

"Come, little leaves,"
Said the wind one day.
"Come down to the meadow
...And we shall play.

Put on your dresses
Of red and gold,
For summer is past
And the days grow cold."

As soon as the leaves
Heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering,
One and all.

Over the meadow
They danced and flew,
All singing the soft
Little songs that they knew.

Dancing and leaping
The leaves went along,
Until winter called them
To end their sweet song.

Soon, fast asleep
In their earthy beds,
The snow lay a coverlet
Over their heads.

This is a song my Grandma sang with me when I was a little girl. It's a song for children written in the 1800's, though I do not know the author.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thank You Prayer Walks

A little prayer of "Thank you, God,"
Sets our thoughts aright.
Keeps us feeling all day long,
More positive and bright!

Have you ever tried to make a gratitude list? I made one with my Sunday School class of 4 and 5 years olds one winter and we easily filled both sides of a large poster paper. It's an activity that can be done in a few minutes or over the course of a lifetime.

Recently I've been taking a "Thank You Prayer Walk". It takes 7 minutes out and 7 minutes back. On the walk, I thank God for everything that comes to grass, cute shoes, laughter, strollers, cats, blue sky, rain drops. The most delight comes when I walk with a child or an elderly person because it gives a new perspective.

I love activities that are easy enough to do daily or weekly, even if you rush out early for work or have toddlers at home to take along. In a wheelchair? Roll along. Elderly and stiff? We'll walk slowly. Go as a famiy or alone. C'mon! It'll be fun!

"A walk in the dark with Daddy is the best sort of walk ever." ~Cody, age 4

Scone Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup raisins (or dried currants)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins.

In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.

Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)

Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 scones.
Per scone: 317 calories, 5g protein, 41g carbohydrates, 15g fat (9g saturated), 1g fiber, 263mg sodium.

*Usually I cut these into smaller scones. When adding spices, flavorings and/or orange or lemon peel I mix it in with the sour cream mixture. When adding nuts, fruit, etc I add them instead of raisins. Fats and calories can be reduced by using a lighter choice than butter.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven

By Jack Prelutsky
The turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air,
it knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with deafening boom,
then splattered all over the kitchen,
completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows,
it totally coated the floor,
there was turkey attached to the ceiling,
where there'd never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance,
it smeared every saucer and bowl,
there wasn't a way I could stop it,
that turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,
and thought with chagrin as I mopped,
that I'd never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn't been popped.

Quotes To Inspire

"Ambition is putting a ladder against the sky." ~ American proverb

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." -Helen Keller

"I seem to be a verb." ~Buckminster Fuller

“I like things to happen and if they don’t happen, I like to make them happen.” ~Winston Churchill

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
~Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. Senator

"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."~Joseph Campbell

"The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes." ~Benjamin Disraeli, British author and politician

"You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through." ~Rosalynn Carter

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals." ~ Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motors

"If it were not for hope, the heart would break." ~Thomas Fuller, English churchman and historian

"Success is going from failure to failure without lack of enthusiasm." ~Winston Churchill

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Address

I left my purse in the shopping cart at the grocery market today. Rushing back to the store parking lot from across town numerous panicky thoughts zipped through my mind. Would it still be there? I had my debit card in my car with my phone, but what was in my purse?

Not much actually besides my driver's voting card, a gift card to Starbucks, spare change...and then the bad news hit me.

One of our dear friends had recently left prison and her address was in my purse. Why hadn't I written to her sooner?

The only hope I have of knowing how a friend is doing once they leave prison is a letter. Most of the time I never know how they're doing. I pray and remind myself that they know the God who sees and the God who is able. They know I love them.

Letters of encouragement are a lifeline to those in prison. Life after prison release can be even more difficult for the person. Being without a home, job, friends or church is a heavy burden for anyone, but when adding to that the stigma of a criminal record, depression and frustrations are intensified. They can be haunted by temptations to return to familiar friends and places. They remember that drugs and alcohol offer temporary relief from their pain. When you're hungry and cold, you remember that in prison you had a cot and 3 meals a day.

As soon as I got home I sat down and wrote my friend a letter. She will laugh at my panic and be glad that I retrieved my purse in the lost and found, but she will also pick up a pen and paper to write a letter to someone in prison.

Prayers matter. Letters matter. Who needs your prayers and letters?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dip Your Bucket

Father, Your heart is a wellspring of abundant life. Complete joy. Restful Peace. Merciful Patience. Altogether lovely. Would You create in me a heart like Yours?

I am working on it.

You are the Author and Finisher of my faith, the God who sees me and the God who is able. Only You are the true God. Holy One of Israel. Ancient of Days. Master of the Universe. You are the God who reigns with thunder in Your footsteps and lightning in Your fists. You are a consuming fire. You are Lord over all the earth. Jehovah-Jireh, the Provider for the people of Your possession, Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End of all things.

I am the God who loves you with an unfailing love.

But I'm a mess. The older I get, the more I see that must be changed. It's a little scary and disheartening.

I am the God who sees you. Do not be afraid.

I know. I trust You. Create in me a clean heart, Oh, God. Renew a right spirit within me. Teach me Your ways, won't You? Soak me with Your words. Change me from the inside out. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Your heart is a wellspring of abundant life. Teach me from Psalms to have a heart like King David's heart, a heart like Yours.

Dip Your bucket and draw forth.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Prayer Like Gingerbread

Renewed pleasure in reading the Psalms has motivated me to examine my prayer life. I believe that the effective, fervent prayer of the righteous accomplishes much. Why doesn't that prompt the devotion to prayer that it could?

"Your honest, heartfelt prayers today will impact the flow of history tomorrow." ~Max Lucado

Believing it is not enough. If I want to live out a life of prayer that impacts the flow of history, then I need to make some changes in my prayer life. The Bible says our prayers are a sweet aroma to God. God wired His people with power, but we have to turn on the switch. We need to be a people of prayer.

The heavenly scent of gingerbread welcomes the chilled, hungry children who stop by my house after school. Mattie treated her bite of gingerbread to a gulp of milk and suggested that school would be more fun if it could smell like gingerbread. Then she grinned. "I wish my whole life could smell like gingerbread!"

I want my whole life to smell like prayer the way Mattie wants her whole life to smell like gingerbread.

Father, draw close. Come quickly. Open your ears to my prayers ~it's my voice you're hearing. Make my life a prayer to You. Treat my prayers as sweet incense rising; the raised hands of my evening prayers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Change for Peace

Father. Change is challenging.

Opportunity blooms freely in the rich soil of disappointment, failure and grief, doesn't it? I know Your grace is enough. I know You are walking alongside me.

But, Father, change is difficult. My heart aches with the heaviness of going through changes. Even changes that make life better can leave a trail of pain.

Find Your rest in Me. Seek peace. Pursue it. Someday complete peace will be available. You're not home yet, My child.

Others have to find their own way to You, too, don't they? Some burdens we can bear with one another, but some burdens are ours alone to carry.


You bear all the burdens with me, don't You? You are Lord over all the earth.


You allow the changes. You are Lord over change.


*smile...You are Lord over change.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tea with Carson

As I wiped syrup from his pancaked-stuffed mouth, Carson grinned, giggled and went airborne. Summoning the agility of an athlete I caught him mid-leap, grimacing as little hands oozed church breakfast goo into my hair.

Once he was spit and polished I encouraged him toward his parents, picked up my cup of tea, and decided I should discover just how bad a hair day I was having that Sunday morning, but his little hand took mine and squeezed it. "Can I sit with you? Because we like that don't we?"

I agreed that he could and as we took our seats he continued, "You sit here and drink your tea and I'll sit here and drink your tea, too."

Our tea sharing began when he was so small he needed more milk than tea in his cup. He's four now and every cup of tea is a lesson in knowing his heart. Time to visit over a cup of tea is important because it warms our relationship the way tea warms the heart.

Opportunities to talk with children have to be created. God sends us into the lives of children to teach them He is real, to let them know He loves them, to guide them to truth.

Be the hands and feet of Jesus in the life of a child. By holding hands with you, he learns the calming tenderness of trusting in someone bigger and stronger. By following you he sees the determined confidence in someone who knows more and sees beyond the moment.

Friday, November 12, 2010

And Then My Nana Prayed

"Nana, what was your hardest thing ever?"

"I wanted to be a mother with a family full of children who love God."

My spiritual daughter laughed. In her eyes, my life bursts at the seams with the joy of children and mothering.

"No, I mean really, Nana."

So I explained about that day when my life was shattered and hope was gone. When reality washed over me and I knew the world is not a fairy tale, that little girl dreams don't always come true the way you had planned. My innocence and endless optimism were crushed, and I knew I would never be the same again.

She glanced over at her beautiful and healthy children and tears filled her eyes.
"So what did you do then?"

I smiled. "And then Nana prayed."

She smiled tenderly, sipped tepid tea from her china cup and said softly, "And then my Nana prayed."

"Though my weary steps may falter and my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me, Lo! A spring of joy I see!" ~Fanny Crosby

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Carson's Plan

Will you read books while I rest?" four year old Carson asked me.

"Yes," I assured him.

"Will you cuddle? I mean at the same time."

"Yes. We always do, Carson. Pick some books."

"I was just making sure you knew the plan."

We have cuddled and read books since before he was able to sit up on his own. "I know the plan," I assured him as he snuggled close to me.

"Because you know everything, right?" Serious blue eyes, full of trust, stared up at me.

"No. Just some things. God knows everything."

Carson took hold of my hand to calmly reassure me. "Well, He doesn't cuddle and read books and you do so that should make you feel better."

Knowing when I do something right does indeed make me feel better. More than anything I want to hear Father say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into My eternal rest."

Finding rest with Carson calls for me to know his plan. Could it be that finding rest with God calls for me to know His plan?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Calico Surprise

A calico kitten returned to my garden this morning for a carefree romp. He halted, crouched and studied the terrain, confused by the changes in his playground. A barren garden mulched with straw was more disappointment than he wanted to accept.

Gone were the tomato vines where he could always find butterflies to worry. Shady zucchini vines, perfect for hiding from weary birds, had gone up in smoke. Rough stakes delightful for scratching and speedy pole racing lay neatly stacked beside the compost pile. His playground was closed for the winter and he hissed in frustration.

How to encourage a calico kitten?

I softly called and he scampered over to me, confident that I would provide stability and restore hope to his broken world. Maybe provide tuna and cheetos for some comfort food.

I reassured him with gentle words and tender petting. I picked up a ball and tossed it. He raced after it, pounced, wrestled it across the yard and finally subdued it. The playground was closed for the winter, but football season had begun! Run. Tackle. Wrestle. Subdue. Repeat.

No matter how disappointing and confusing life gets, finding the surprises God has tucked into the corners of the day redirects my thoughts and joy comes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Cup of Words

Words lift us out of ourselves, transform us and encourage us. Words spoken to an invisible world created the visible world. Words are so important to God that not only did He create the world with them, but He made His Word become flesh to dwell among us.

He breathed out the words we read daily in the Bible and He continues to preserve and empower those words for each generation. The Word of God brought tidings of great joy to all people when Jesus was born into the world.

Our words have lost their weight. Social pages such as Facebook and the rapid increase of texting have brought concerning issues for the power of words in this generation. Futile words, hurtful words, uncensored words are replacing words of encouragement and positive insights.

Words are like a cup of tea. It all depends on how you make it.

Tea freshly brewed in pure water has depth and character. The flavor delights and warms the body. Savoring a cup of tea brings sweetness, restoration and even healing. How much more delicious to savor words that are pure and sweet, to hear words that have depth and character! Oh, beloved ones, what delightful flavor, warmth and healing you can offer with your words.

God says we will have to give an account for every word we have spoken whether good or bad. To dwell on such a truth overwhelms my heart because many are the useless, hurtful and untrue words I have spoken.

In many words there is much sin, but words aptly spoken are like apples of gold in settings of silver. A cup full of tea can brighten my day and warm my body. A cup full of words can brighten my world and warm my soul. Fill your cup up and let it overflow. Let it overflow with love.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Walking in a Wheelchair

Oh, that I might make an altar of remembrance out of the ruins of my life. That I might see, and thank Him for, the wiser choice, the better answer, the harder yet richer path.

Ah, this is the God I love.

The Center, the Peacemaker, the Passport to adventure, the Joyride, and the Answer to all our deepest longings...The Answer to all our fears,

Man of Sorrows and Lord of Joy...always permitting what He hates to accomplish something He loves.

And He has brought me here to this place in my life so I can declare to anyone within earshot of the whole universe, to anyone who might care, that, yes...

There are more important things in life than walking."

Joni Earickson Tada: A Lifetime of Walking with Jesus

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Cart and the Horse

When we put work before worship, we put the cart before the horse. The cart is important. So is the horse. But the horse must come first or we end up pulling the cart ourselves." ~Corrie ten Boom
Frustrated and weary we can nearly break under the pressure of service for there is always something that needs to be done. When we first spend time in Father's presence - when we take time to hear His voice - God provides the horsepower we need to pull the heaviest load. He saddles up grace and invites us to take a ride.

The only requirement for a deeper intimacy with God is showing up with a heart open and ready to receive. Lay aside the work, the noise and fray of life, and turn your whole heart toward worship.

"Come to me all 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." ~Jesus

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I Just Want To Be Where You Are

I just want to be where You are, dwelling daily in Your presence. I don't want to worship from afar. Draw me near to where You are.

I just want to be where You are, in Your dwelling place forever. Take me to the place where You are. I just want to be with You.

I want to be where You are,
dwelling in Your presence
feasting at Your table,
surrounded by Your glory.

In Your presence, that's where I always want to be...I just want to be with You.

Oh, my God, You are my strength and my song
And when I'm in Your presence though I'm weak, You're always strong.

I just want to be where You are, dwelling daily in Your presence.
I don't want to worship from afar. Draw me near to where You are.

~Don Moen

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Cleaning in the Heartland

I live in America's Heartland, the middle area of the United States, where we are enjoying a kaleidoscope of autumn color and the celebration of harvest and summer's end.

I "wake up" my house each morning by opening the windows to allow in a cleaning sweep of fresh cool breezes. Scented candles have been taken from storage, summer bouquets of fresh flowers are replaced by a bowl of fresh fruit. Fall cleaning and decluttering is scheduled so that when the winter cold and snows come, I am able to enjoy quiet activities out of clean, orderly rooms that are a blessing to enjoy.

Our hearts are classrooms where others soak up whatever we learn and live. Watching the life of Jesus through the eyes of the disciple, Matthew, this week has created a disgust at my messy classroom. It's time for fall cleaning and decluttering in the classroom of my heart. The woman I am is not the woman I could become if I tried harder to be like Jesus.

Father, I am opening up the the windows of my heart so You can let in the fresh air of new insights. Shine Your light around the classroom of my heart so I can see clearly old rusty habits, myths and false beliefs that should be thrown in the trash and broken places that should be mended. Show me the treasures that should be taken off the shelves and out of the file cabinets and given to others.

Would You light a candle of hope in me that shines brightly to all who have eyes to see? Would You replace what is dead in me with the fresh fruit of overflowing joy, abiding peace and strong gentleness?

Make my life a prayer to You, a sweet aroma that is welcoming and encouraging.

Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teach Me to See


You are the God who sees. You walk alongside to surround me with protection, guidance, blessing and correction.

Help me to be the disciple who sees. I want to truly see others the way You see them, the way You see me.

Help me to see beyond ugliness of character and appearance, beyond wrong attitudes and habits, beyond angry responses and rejection, beyond crippling fears and pain.

If I am Your hands and feet, make me also Your eyes and ears. I want to be a woman after Your own heart, a breath of fresh air in this generation.

Teach me to see people with love and discernment: their hurts, their desires, their longings, their needs, their joys and their challenges. Prod me on to love and good works so I will offer whatever help and encouragement I have to give.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Living the Dream

My niece is incredibly bright and passionately focused on fulfilling the calling she was given in her youth. Working hard to change America for the better in political battle fields, she is both patient and diligent. Much of her time is spent going the extra miles, both physically and mentally, building momentum for change as she trains and equips people politically. She keeps her eyes on the big picture and she watches the details. She's very good at what she's been called to do for our country.

To many younger women, her life looks easy, ideal, enviable. They see her on television. She gets to travel to interesting places where she meets new people and gains new insights and creative thoughts. Her work is interesting, alive and exciting. She's beautiful and charming and married to her handsome college sweetheart.

While to the public eye her life looks enviable, to the private eye there is awareness of the sacrifices required. Risks and dangers await us in the world we're trying to change. Physical risks, certainly, but also mental, emotional and spiritual risks. There are personal sacrifices of loneliness, fatigue, disappointment and homesickness. To whom much is given, much will be required.

My niece is a treasure, Jesus says, in a jar of clay. So are you. To become the woman God has called you to be and to fulfill your own calling, you must be molded by the Master Potter and refined by the fire.

You are called to noble purpose. Live your dream and blend your passions with a passion for Him. Endure the stress of being molded and accept the refining fires. Be brave enough to make the sacrifices required in fulfilling your calling and living out God's dream for you.

Learning to Believe

Journal Entry: October, 2009, 6:45 am

Dear Father,

My heart is breaking for my new spiritual daughter. I don't know what else to tell her. She's such a new gift to me that I can't yet know all of the things You know about her. I don't know what verse I can share or what lesson I have learned that will break through her misery. She's searching for You so hard....her whole little life so far.

She's not finding You in the way that she seems to need to find You so that she knows for sure You are the God who sees her, loves her, forgives her and wants her and knows her.

Break through her walls of doubts and fear. Perfect her in Your love through my love for the sake of her love. The tears keep coming this morning, Father, and You know it's because she's been hurt so deeply by her aloneness. There's something she's not telling me yet or that I'm not yet understanding, but You know what is holding her back from a fullness of assurance in Your love.

I don't know what the future holds. I don't care how long we have to fight for her. We just will. Perfect love casts out fear. Help me to love her more perfectly so that she can find the way to Your love through my love. Teach me how to love her so I don't screw up what You're trying to teach her. Don't let me be afraid to love her with my whole heart. Make me perfect in my love even as You are perfect in Your love. Create in her a believing heart, a knowing heart, a broken and contrite heart, a heart overflowing with joy amidst pain.

Bummer, Father. We are so seriously late for class!


Email to me, sent from same daughter, October, 2010, 1:06 am

"God is love...There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

I have decided to believe Him.

~Never underestimate the power of praying for your spiritual daughters and simply walking alongside and loving them to the Father who waits for them.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Vulture

~Because sometimes a little humor helps us to create better habits...

The vulture eats between his meals

And that's the reason why

He very, very rarely feels

As well as you and I.

His eye is dull, his head is bald,

His neck is growing thinner.

Oh, what a lesson for us all

To only eat at dinner.

Hillaire Belloc

Monday, October 25, 2010

Letter to a Little Woman

My dear child,

I have loved you since before you were born. I love you more than life itself and I want so much to watch you grow up in wisdom and stature, in the favor of God and man.

I am proud of you as I watch you grow because you are a person who is eager to do what is right. I see in you the compassion, gentleness and love of Jesus. You like learning to live out your life like Jesus did. You enjoy the wonders of plants and animals and rocks, all the things that God has made so intricately and beautifully to bless the earth.

I see you loving little children and wanting to be a good example for them, to protect and honor them. I see you admire your mom and dad, seeing many things in their character that you would like to learn as you grow. I see you play hard and run fast and jump high, making your body strong. I see you eating good food and drinking water and growing in your desire to be healthy.

You are brave and diligent, my darling. You are pretty and creative and musical and funny. You draw well and read well and learn easily. Take the gifts that God has given you and help them to blossom and bear good fruit in your life. Learn to be efficient and use your time wisely to accomplish much. Discover what to put in your mind and your life to make God pleased with your faithfulness.

Let me know when there are things we can do together that will help you. I’m always here for you and all my life I will pray daily for you and seek to show you what a woman can be and do. I’m grateful every day that God gave me your mother....and then you.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Will Offer Up My Life

I will offer up my life in spirit and truth,
Pouring out the oil of love as my worship to you.
In surrender I must give my every part.
Lord, receive the sacrifice of a broken heart.

Jesus, what can I give?
What can I bring to so faithful a Friend, to so loving a King?
Savior, what can be said?
What can be sung as a praise of Your name for the things You have done?
Oh, my words could not tell not even in part
of the debt of love to this thankful heart.

You deserve my every breath for You've paid the great cost
Giving up your life to death, even death on a cross.
You took all my shame away then defeated my sin,
Opened up the gates of heaven and have beckoned me in.

(Words and music by Matt Redman)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Welcome to Sabbath

Colours of day dawn into the mind. The sun has come up. The night is behind.
Good morning, my Father.

Thank you for hazelnut coffee steaming from my sunshine yellow mug. Thank you for my toast,warm and crisp, smeared with peanut butter. Thank you for sleepy eyes blinking awake to seek You. My bed was a warm safe place to snuggle while the music of crashing thunder and pouring rain surrounded me. Thank you for my quilt and the rainstorm.

Welcome to Sabbath, Child.

Today is a day to rest, to be with You and ponder and pray, to seek and to study, to rest and to refresh. I love Sabbath. Thank you for it.

But, Father, for those who are hungry both physically and spiritually, to those who are homeless and cold, longing for shelter from the rain, would you make it a good morning? For those who are in prison or surrounded by war, for those who are broken and sad and afraid...for those who cry alone aching for someone to love them, to show them the way to You...for the children who are lost, abused, being broken...

Do You see them? Won't You comfort them? Open the eyes of Your people to be Your hands and feet in every nation. Teach us to love with Your heart and to see with Your eyes.

Will you be poured out like wine upon the altar for me? Will you be broken like bread to feed the hungry? Would you be so one in Me that I can do just what I will? Will you be light and life and love, My word fulfill?

I will, Father. I will. Break my heart over the things that break Yours.

First, Sabbath. Then You will be ready to go back out into the world and be My breath of fresh air, My hands and feet. Do not be afraid. Do not be disheartened. I have overcome the world. I AM.

From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, Your name is worthy to be praised...tell me Your stories, Father. As I snuggle in my bed to rest, please won't You tell me Your stories?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Wish I Could

I wish I could help you as much as you've helped me.

I wish I could show you how you've made me a better person
just by being there for me, even if I was just being a big baby.

I wish I could be half the person that you are.

I wish I could be half as kind
and even a third as unconditionally loving.

I wish I could weave words the way you do.

I wish I could put smiles on even strangers' faces
just by the simple things I write the way you do.

I wish I could show you the sunrise and the beauty in this world
that you've opened my blind eyes to.

I wish I could be as beautiful as you.

Most of all, I wish I could make you happy the way you've done for me.

I wish I could...I hope I am something to you...

Because I look up to you as the Christ-loving Mother I never had.
and think of you as one of my best friends.

I hope I show you even an ounce of the love for life that you have shared.

I hope one day I can be your sunrise if you find yourself
caught in too much darkness.

Thank you, for being so beautiful and kind and wonderful.

And whether you know it or not,
thank you for being my mentor and my guardian and my sunrise.

~Marta Mackey

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Teach Me

Take my needs and teach me dependency.
Take my failures and teach me grace.
Take my pain and teach me compassion.
Take my fears and teach me faith.
Take my waits and teach me patience.
Take my storms and teach me trust.
Take my time and teach me reverence.
Take my deserts and teach me thirst.
~Beth Moore

Monday, October 18, 2010

Breath of Fresh Air

Jesus was a breath of fresh air. He was a companion who knew when to go for the challenge and when to rest with His followers.

I often find myself reacting to life rather than responding to it. It wears me down spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. Life doesn't have to become merely chaos management, a reaction to the tyranny of the urgent, but it's so easy to slide into that pit, isn't it?

Dallas Willard, one of the great thinkers of our day, wrote that "we have to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives." Easier said than done. For an entire year that was my motto, my resolution. I sought ways to slow myself down and simplify my life. It was one of the best and hardest things I have ever done for my wellbeing.

It turns out,though, that it's a lot like weeding a garden. You have to keep at it because it quickly gets away from you when you stop the diligence! So I'm working at it again, eliminating hurry and decluttering my life, my body, my house, my world. It's become an Autumn tradition to ready my life for the slowing down pace of winter. It's rather fun, actually, and something I eagerly anticipate each year after the long full days of summer.

Taking time to eliminate hurry daily, taking time to refresh and restore weekly, makes setting aside time yearly far less burdensome. It's been worth my struggle to learn good habits.

In the 23rd Psalm it says, "He makes me lie down in green pastures." It doesn't say He invites me or He encourages me or He lets me. It says, "He makes me". Sometimes He must lead me kicking and screaming into quiet green pastures to rest beside still waters for His namesake. Sad, huh? I've discovered that doing my work at a strong and steady pace helps me to enter into rest with a calm and welcome that was absent when I felt my work was always "way behind" and my world was full of chaos.

It shames me to say how often I have worked against having the very rest I needed and wanted the most. Things are different now because I'm trying to be a breath of fresh air in my generation every day. Instead of answering the question, "How are you?" with I'm fine or I'm tired or I'm busy....I'm trying a different answer on for size and finding it fits pretty well.

"You know, I'm rested this week. I've eaten good food. I'm enjoying my time in the Word. My relationships are healthy and I'm enjoying people. I'm doing my work in a passionate and efficient way."

I like feeling strong and ready for each day. Like all of us, my work falls behind, sickness or lack of a good night of sleep happens. None of us will ever "have it all together". It is, however, possible to learn the quiet rhythms of a graceful life. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It makes it much easier to be a breath of fresh air in a dying, hurting world.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Listening Lord

Lord, when my soul is weary
And my heart is tired and sore,

And I have that failing feeling
That I can't take it any more;

Then let me know the freshening found
In simple childlike prayer,

When the kneeling soul knows surely
That a listening Lord is there.

~Ruth Bell Graham

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bless the Lord!

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I'll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don't forget a single blessing!

He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you're always young in his presence.

God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he's rich in love.
He doesn't endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we're made of mud.
Men and women don't live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God's love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.

God has set his throne in heaven;
he rules over us all. He's the King!
So bless God, you angels,
ready and able to fly at his bidding,
quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless God, all you armies of angels,
alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—
everything and everyone made by God.
And you, O my soul, bless God!

Psalm 103 (The Message)

A David Psalm

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Facebook Fasting

Nearly every week I get a call, text or email sharing a similar heartache. Someone has a heart prick and discovers a need to eliminate or cut back their use of Facebook. Eyes have been opened to lost time and hurtful words.

So much good happens on Facebook that temptations are usually subtle or even completely hidden. The internet is the modern way that women easily go from house to house stirring up discontent and dissention, sharing in gossip and spreading bad very often without any wrong intention at all. The evil one doesn't need to make us choose blatant sin...all he has to do is distract us from what we are called to do.

Oh, Father, cause us to ache deeply when we become women who use words unwisely. Teach us to have words that are full of grace and seasoned with salt. Make us creative with words that are apples of gold in settings of silver. Inspire us to prod one another on to love and good works.

Won't You give us pure hearts that overflow with Your Words? We want so much to be women that encourage one another with Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We want to be women who are exactly what You had in mind when You created women.

Out of our hearts our mouths will speak so we will increase the time we use Your Words and decrease the time we use empty words.

Are there ways to use the tools of our generation to cause an increase in our passion, purity and purpose? Women are resourceful and creative creatures. What could we change?