Friday, January 25, 2013

Princess of Quite A Lot

Each January, the ladies in my life group spend an evening discussing our personal goals for the coming year. We share one thing we have resolved to change, and we share our inspirational word.

By sharing our goal and inspirational word we receive accountability, prayers and encouragement. It's one of our favorite Girls' Nights of the year. The practice is teaching us humility, transparency and commitment to one another.

"My 2013 word is 'stewardship'," one friend has decided. "God is a God of order. I want to see stewardship in my finances, my housekeeping and my time."

Stewardship. An old word for a new goal.

The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. Everything belongs to God. My marriage, my children, my body, my job, my pain, my disease, my suffering. When our hands are open to what God lays in them, it's all grace.  It's all gifts that we are given to manage. We are stewards, caretakers.

As Mary Englebreit so creatively puts it, I am a "princess of quite of lot".

How we care for whatever we are given matters to Him.  It should matter to us.

What hinders you from being a good steward of the gifts God has given?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wash Feet

Music by Bart Millard, Mercy Me 
Eyes set on earthly things are veiled from things above. Eyes that have not been washed clean by the mercy and compassion of the Father, are blinded to the Word of God.

We are called to one mission: to love people to Jesus.

Many have become militant and loud in their opinions, trying to prove they are right. Having forgotten all about being Christ like, they become self-righteous, judgmental, harsh.

Do we proclaim to be a Jesus-Follower, yet laugh, make jokes, and mock those who believe differently? Do we not realize how extremely unattractive and prideful our words sound to a dying world?

God's Word has washed our eyes clean so we can see the character and heart of God. Jesus, our example, tenderly, patiently, washed feet so that He might teach His disciples truth. He lived kindness, self-control, faithfulness. His love caused Him to go about doing good, speaking truth gently to draw people to Him.

Jesus, our servant-leader, washed eyes and hearts by first washing feet.

Word of God speak. Would You pour down like rain washing our eyes to see Your majesty?

Oh, Father. Teach us to use that rain water, full of grace and mercy, to wash feet, not to sling mud.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The God Who Takes Away


I really wanted it. Life would have been more pleasant. It wouldn't have hindered my ministries. I'm really disappointed that you said no. Why didn't you say yes?
Photo by Dean White (

I am the God who sees and knows your disappointment. I am the God who orchestrates the universe.

You have much to consider besides my desires. You have reasons that never occur to me.

Do you want to know Me? You submit to my decisions when you understand. Will you submit to My decisions when you do not understand? When you do not like My answer?

I will take what You place in my open hands. I will give up what You do not give. I will say yes when You take away that which I wanted to keep and cherish.

The very giving up of that which you so deeply, urgently desire proves your life is submitted to My will, My ways, My plans.

Keep my heart tender toward You, Father. Don't let my disappointment lead me to despair. Keep my heart tuned to Your compassion and grace.

There is a time for everything. Learn to discern the seasons. I hold eternity in My hands.

And me. You hold eternity and me in Your hands.

I hold your trust tenderly. Look around you. Listen to My voice. How vast is My love for you, dear child. Beyond all measure is My tender compassion. Come, let us away to a quiet place.

Friday, January 18, 2013

He's Here!

"Hurry, Mary! Jesus will be here soon!" Martha exclaims. Laying aside the pot holder too soon, she touches her finger to a pan of yeast rolls fresh from the oven and burns her finger. "Mary? Did you make the sweet tea? Mary?"

A silent house answers Martha. Mary has left the stack of plates on the table beside the pitcher. The door slams behind her as she hurries down the path to greet Jesus.

Martha sticks her sore finger into a bucket of water and swirls it, glancing around the kitchen. Her eyes scan the details of meal preparation. So great is her love for Jesus, she wants everything to be the very best.

Wouldn't it be fun to be Martha? You would clean the whole house, put fresh flowers on the table. Cinnamon rolls? Fig scones? Perfectly ripened fruit on the side table.

But, what if Jesus came unexpectedly?

Would you glance in horror at your messy house? Would you stumble out an apology while trying to swallow the bite of hot dog you just wolfed down standing over the sink?

Imagine Him coming to your table as you hurry to move stacks of old mail and clutter from the table. You hope He doesn't notice the angry, frustrated faces of your children. He couldn't have heard those last words you yelled, could He?

Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel! Joy to the World, the Lord Has Come!

Somebody wake us up! He's here! He is moving among us. He is the God who sees, the God who knows. He's in your house. Check your kitchen.

[I like the way Charles William Daugherty says it in If Jesus Came to Your House.]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chimes of Time

An antique clock rests on my mantle. It doesn't work, but it still chimes.

"What are those lines on your clock?" Audrey asks.

"Those are called Roman Numerals", I explain, showing her how the old system of numbers works.

Audrey nods thoughtfully. "It takes longer to figure out, but it makes time easier to understand."

Moses learned that he must number his days right so that he would become wise. Easier to understand:  Plan your days. Live your days right. Become wise.

It's an old system long forgotten. Have you settled for being an old clock that doesn't work, but still chimes? We live in the noise and slapdash fray of a 2013 world. We chime as if we are wise, but we are merely clanging cymbals if we don't plan and work to live our days right.

Be ready in season and out of season, day in and day out, to live your life wide awake to the moments that are ticking past. Complacency develops a spirit of heaviness and regret. Slapdash living robs a fruitful life of joy and peace.

"I think I like the X for 10 best," Audrey says with a grin. "He looks like he knows what he's talking about."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Which Way to the Stairs?

Photo by Elyce Feliz
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase,"  I quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. in my post, "Under Construction"

But, we are not all on the same staircase, are we?  

Do you know who you want to be? Do you know where you want to go? 

Maisy, age one, runs for the pure joy of running. It's new. It's fun. It's exciting.

"Run with me!" I encouraged the older children. 

"I'm on a break," answered the 5 year old. 

"Why?" asked the 8 year old. 

"How far do we have to go?" asked the 10 year old.

Justin, a teenage boy down the street, started trotting along beside me.  "How far are you going? Is there anywhere to go or do we have to run around in circles and stay in the neighborhood?" 

Are you running around in circles in your life?  You can stop. We lose our way. We check the map. We start fresh.  

"Before I learned to answer You, I wandered all over the place.  But, now I'm in step with your Word."  (Psalm 119:67, MSG)

"Can you do 3 miles, Justin?" I asked.

"I think so," he nodded. "I want to try."

"Then let's head out into the world and do what we can do." 

Pick up your Bible. Find the staircase. Take the first step. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Obedience is not a Bad Word

Photo by Peter Hopper (
Spiritual mothering. When I first spoke those words and accepted it as my calling, I had never heard the term. It was a new thought, fresh from my study of Paul's relationship to Timothy.  But, it's an old idea that's been around since, well, Paul and Timothy.

There is nothing new under the sun. 

For a writer seeking fresh topics it can be humbling, even frustrating. Frequently I get enthusiastic about new insights, new ministry, new creative possibility. Just as I hit my stride, ready to change the world with my ideas, I learn that someone else has made the same discovery. Someone else has already written the book, taught the class, made the t-shirt. The air leaves my balloon and the excitement I feel shrivels up. Focus turns on self and disappointment turns to discouragement.

Getting sidetracked? Losing focus? Those have been problems since Eve met evil face to face in the garden. Yet, all these centuries later, I struggle just as she did. Satan flashes bright lofty thoughts before me. I turn my eyes away from Jesus for a split second, and my heart is pulled back to my own desires.

Humility is rugged, tested-and-tried obedience. Humility is fighting with a faith that is emptied of self, filled to overflowing with the power of God. Humility is seeing the big picture through the eyes of a God who has a plan for each of His people, for His world. Humility brings focus.

What hinders you today? Are you sidetracked by putting self first? Is there always that one thing that you can't give up, even for Him?  That one thing Satan dangles before you that you do not resist? 

Obedience opens the door to humility.  When humility shines a bright light on God's plans, powerful world-wide change becomes possible.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Run a Negative Split

Photo by Sally Rae
I had kept a slow and steady pace, but was more tired than expected at the end of five miles. This was my first attempt at a negative split.  This means running the second half of the miles faster, stronger, than in the beginning.

The tendency is to go out too fast in the beginning of a race when strong and rested, then slow significantly as fatigue sets in. It takes a lot of discipline and practice to achieve a negative split. I wanted to try it this morning because the idea intrigues me, not only as a physical discipline, but as a spiritual discipline.

I have loved the hymn "Last Mile of the Way" since Carl Blacketer sang it in my home church years ago. The words challenged me even as a young child to begin looking at my life as a journey.

But I am a late bloomer, a slow-to-get-it sort of person. I have so far to go before I become the person God wants me to be! I will probably be like one of those flowers that lives a lifetime, blooms for an hour and dies. I think I might learn to be holy for about an hour when I'm 100, then God will say, "Okay, you are finally finished. C'mon in."

But, I want to live my life in a negative split. Remembering the first half of my journey tires me with lessons slowly learned, stumbling on unnecessary detours in the darkness, my lack of concern for others running the race alongside me.

I can go the last miles of life's journey racing with the energy and focus I held back. I can train harder to finish victorious and strong.  I can renew my focus on the goal and keep determination steady. And, I can race in a way that encourages and sharpens those who run, stumble or wobble alongside me.

Are you running the race to win? Do you hear the crowd of witnesses in the stands cheering us on? Faithful is He who calls you and He will bring it to pass if you do not give up.

The Last Mile

  1. If I walk in the pathway of duty,
    If I work till the close of the day,
    I shall see the great King in His beauty,
    When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
    • Refrain:
      When I’ve gone the last mile of the way,
      I will rest at the close of the day;
      And I know there are joys that await me,
      When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
  2. If for Christ I proclaim the glad story,
    If I seek for His sheep gone astray,
    I am sure He will show me His glory,
    When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
  3. Here the dearest of ties we must sever,
    Tears of sorrow are seen every day;
    But no sickness, no sighing forever,
    When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
  4. And if here I have earnestly striven,
    And have tried all His will to obey,
    ’Twill enhance all the rapture of heaven,
    When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.

  5. Johnson Oatman, Jr and William E. Marks (1908) 
    Public domain.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Under Construction

Walls are crooked and need repair. Paint colors are being chosen. I am unsure, insecure, about change. Finding focus in the blur of activity drains energy. Creative ideas spin around my head.  Fears and doubts about even writing a blog are as loud as a jack hammer. Like my life, my blog is under construction.

Discipline and change for the purpose of godliness make the difference in success or failure. In the middle of the confusion and doubt, pick up the instruction manual, your Bible, and begin. Take a step toward change.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path." -Proverbs 3:5, 6

Take God at His word and begin. Guidance comes while you're walking by faith.  A still small voice will speak to you gently in your heart. "This is the right direction" or "This is a wrong step!".  Follow through with your God-directed decision. Trust Him to keep His word.  He will work harder to finish your faith, than you will! Psalm 32 promises that He will "counsel you with His eye on you".

His word is a light for our path. Step by step He leads us through any darkness, any wilderness, any confusion, any grief, any exhaustion, any fear. He knows the way. Follow Him. Take a step. Ignite hope. Live courage.

Martin Luther King, Jr. knew about building a dream. He said, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." He knew about walking faith down a dark road.  He trusted God to keep His Word so he took a step. He lived courage and ignited the hope of an entire nation.

Wake me up, Father

For years I have chosen one thing in my life I want to change each year. The whole "make a list of resolutions and fail by February thing" just didn't work for me. 

I choose one positive challenge. Discipline for the purpose of  godliness has brought about amazing changes. I work alongside God to be available for His purposes and He changes me from the inside out while I'm focused on Him instead of me.

Photo by Elyce Feliz (
Awake. My inspirational word choice for 2013. My goal? Live fully awake to His presence.

On the second day in January 2013, truth settled at home in my heart. Bible-on-lap, heart-opened-wide, tears streaming down. I ached with disappointment. The day had been filled with accomplishments, products of my discipline and determination, wonderful accomplishments. 

The problem was I had gotten sidetracked from my goal. I slept through the day. I was not awake to God's presence like I want to be, like I resolved to be. It's a thin line, isn't it? The line between awake and asleep. One can accomplish the very same things either way. I had worked hard all day. I had made big strides toward accomplishing important tasks, good tasks. 

But, what had I missed? I missed one-of-a-kind, precious moments lived fully awake to the presence of God. I missed it. Like the family of Jesus watching Him run and play, laugh and pray. The Face of God, Emmanuel, the with-them-God living under the same roof. And they missed it.

~Father, I'm sorry when I get sidetracked from being fully awake to Your presence all around me! You keep Your side of our covenant. You did a mighty work inside of me while I remained blind to Your presence. How faithful You are, even when I am faithless! Create in me a heart that is fully awake. Wake. Me. Up. To the beautiful, amazing reality of Your presence in me, before me, beside me and behind me. Wake. Me. UP!

[For more on choosing ONE THING for your year, see One Road for Katie]

Friday, January 4, 2013

The God of Light

Father, my heart grows restless when I lose my focus. I get tired, sick, sidetracked.

My Spirit is upon you. Keep hiding My words in your heart. Come to Me when you are weary and I will give You rest. My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

I know, Father, but it doesn't always seem easy and light. Noise and fray so easily sway my focus.

The enemy is like a lion, seeking whom he can devour. 

Exactly. And I want to live my life wide awake to Your presence in every moment. Oh, won't You walk before me and beside me and behind me. Live in me and through me.

Deny yourself. Take up your cross daily. Follow Me. A holy passion. 

I want a pure and holy passion. I won't turn back. Be strong in my weakness, Lord.

I am the God-Who-Sees, the God-Who-Knows. I am the Lion of Judah, the Holy One of Israel. I AM, the God-Who-Is-Able.  It is I who answers and looks after you. 

I welcome a Sabbath heart, Father. Create in me a heart after Your own heart. Bless the work of my hands. Fill my heart, my life, with Your presence, Your glory.

My love for you lasts from everlasting to everlasting. I will satisfy you. I will feed You and nurture you.  I am Author and Finisher of Your faith. Walk in My ways. 

I love you freely, for My anger has turned away from you.  In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. 

A Sabbath heart, a praying heart, all that I am I give to You. I will be still and know there is no God like Jehovah. When my way grows dark, I will listen.

Awake.  Arise and shine.  The Light of the World is Jesus. The light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen. Come, let us away. I will feed you with the finest wheat and with honey from the rock. I will answer you and tell you of things that you do not know.

Vegetable Soup 101

Dare to cook. Dare to eat healthy. A bread machine and a crock pot can make your home smell warm and cozy after a long day. Turn on some music and light a candle, even if it's just for you.  After all, you're the only you we've got! C'mon. Dare to cook.  And, if you get confused, send me an email or, better yet, introduce yourself to that good cook in your church or workplace. Chances are, you'll make a new friend as well as figuring out the "whole cooking thing".

1/4 c chopped onion
1/4 c chopped celery
1/4 c chopped peppers (red, green, yellow, orange or combination)
1 carton or 1-2 cans of vegetable broth  
2-3 cups of mixed vegetables
1 can diced tomatoes (add a small can of tomato sauce for a richer tomato flavor)

salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t spices*, or to taste 
Fresh herbs*, or to taste

Optional: Lentils, Pasta, Barley

In a large saucepan, saute onions, celery, sweet peppers in olive oil until tender.  Add the broth, tomatoes, vegetables and seasonings*. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Yields about 4 servings.

Notes to Beginners: 

*Mixed Vegetables: frozen or fresh, any of the following: carrots, peas, potatoes, corn, green beans, spinach, collard greens, cabbage, broccoli,  mushrooms, sweet potatoes, canned beans....any combination you like! 

*spices: Thyme, Tarragon, Marjoram...This is a good place to try out new spices one at a time.  Most beginners are disappointed in their soup because of using too many different spices at once. Thyme is  a good choice to start with or to use if adding beef or chicken.  I always add tumeric to my soups because it's a detoxifying spice ~

*herbs: It will take more fresh herbs than dried herbs. I toss in about a 1/4 cup of herbs. I choose from chives, oregano, basil and rosemary. Stems will not get very tender, so use mostly leaves. I always add parsley because of it's detoxifying power~

Beef or Chicken: When not making vegetarian soup, I use homemade stock and add chopped beef or chicken. A carton of purchased stock would work just as well, but will have more sodium.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Child-size Resolutions

A new year resolution is an excellent forum for teaching a child obedience, discernment and promise keeping.

Even a preschooler gets excited about making life better. Do not look down on small beginnings. Your child is never too little to learn that a focus on God's purposes makes life easier. Make it fun to learn discipline for the purpose of godliness.

Establish hope. Discuss living life with excellence and honor.Set aside a specific time to talk with your child about the importance of goals and planning. Share one thing you want to change in your own life. Brainstorm about goals he might like to make. Ask your child to choose one thing he will resolve to do this year.  

Pray with your child. We all have a lot to learn, but family accountability makes it easier to change. With God all things are possible! Find a Bible verse or passage with your child that speaks directly to the change. Keep it before him as a verse to memorize and study. He needs his very own collection of Bible verses.

Effect change. Use positive words. "Speak encouraging words" is more positive than "Stop arguing with my sister". Have the child choose one word to be their 2013 inspiration word for the year. "Encourage" would work well with this example. 

Frame a drawing of the word, paint it on a rock, color it on the wall, or write it in lipstick across the mirror. Go out for ice cream to celebrate. Children love doing something that creates an event from a decision.

Encourage action. Teach your child to focus on discipline for the purpose of godliness. Learning to work on a change that benefits others will allow God room to change the child from the inside out.  Right actions produce right feelings.

In our example, you might choose encouraging others at the grocery store, visiting a nursing home, writing encouraging notes to practice speaking encouragement. Collect God's encouraging words. Talk about people in the Bible and in your world that are good encouragers.

As you teach your child to live intentionally, he will learn that life is joyful and exciting when we work alongside God to change our world. And in the process, we change ourselves.

Abby decided that she would stop sneaking candy and chips from the pantry. "Eat healthy food" became her goal.  Her word was "Honesty". At bedtime, exhausted from working in the food pantry with her dad, Abby prayed, "Dear God, Thank you that it's so much fun to take care of hungry people."  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Awake, My Soul, and Sing!

Photo by Kate Ter Haar (
Clean white snow falls gently, silently, smoothly. Winter wind increases and tosses the flakes about recklessly, brutally.

Each snowflake is unique, each necessary to the earth. A single snow flake lands on my glove, trembles for a moment, is joined by several others. Like a vapor they each melt away at their own time.

In the stillness, surrounded by falling snowflakes, I look upward.  More snowflakes than I can count fall around me. And I smile, awestruck with wonder. There is a God who sees and guides each individual snowflake from beginning to end.

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

A Sabbath heart, a heart that is still, learns to know God. Every day we enter the quiet Sabbath place. We listen for the still small voice of the God who is there and is not silent, the God who is able to do even more than we ask or imagine. And then every day we seek out the lost, the broken, the lonely in our world.

Life tosses us about, reckless, brutal to a being as fragile and unique as a single snowflake. We are here for a moment before we tremble and melt away.

Awake, my soul, and sing! Prepare the mind for action! Through many a conflict and many a doubt, awake my soul, and sing!