It keeps reverberating in my head, Pastor Bruce’s question in his first Advent sermon this year, “How do you keep materialism out of Christmas?”

We went Black Friday shopping as an extended family outing. It did not bode well for my first-grader. She kept wanting everything and we kept saying, “Well, Christmas isn’t far away. We’ll add it to your list. You can’t have that (or that, or that or that) today.” Toward the end of the outing, she was moping alongside her shopping grandma when she said, “I just see all this stuff and I want it all. I know I shouldn’t feel that way.” Christmas in America creates a mentality of materialism.

Along with materialism, how do we not get caught up in the chaotic preparations for celebrating? As Christ-followers, how do we remember to dwell with Jesus, the “Christ” in Christmas?

Visiting with a friend after church last Sunday, she shared her experience of being miserably sick with the flu last Christmas. She expressed that all the things she had to do went undone and Christmas still happened. And she still experienced joy.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’  Isaiah 30:15
In this verse, we see how we might save Christmas from materialism and chaos. By sitting, with coffee cup and Bible in hand, resting in Jesus. In stopping daily to confess my mess-ups to Jesus. Driving in silence; talking and listening to God instead of the radio. In making a to-do-list but verbally telling God that I trust He will allow me to accomplish exactly what He desires for this day. By prioritizing Jesus, not things, stuff, events or my infamous “to do list.” (Someone please tell me I’m not alone with my lists…) By choosing to stop your family once a day and read an Advent devotional (or any Scripture). Through our example, those in our sphere of influence (family, friends and neighbors) will see the Christ in Christmas, not the materialism or busyness.

Are you prioritizing Christ in Christmas? How will you choose to return and rest this December?


And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
There are two "ands" in Hebrews 11:6. The first begins the sentence as a term conclusion. It refers to what the writer of Hebrews was speaking in verse 5: Enoch. A man we meet in Genesis, who walked with God or pleased God. Moses makes note of Enoch's pleasing walk with God two times, so we shouldn't make light of it.
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God (Septuagint: pleased God) after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God (Septuagint: pleased God) and he was not for God took him. Genesis 5:21-24
So Enoch pleased God or walked with God in God's ways, and remember that without confidence in God's ability to draw us up out of sin, it is impossible to delight Him. Enoch had confidence in God's ability to save him from sin that leads to death.

The second and: "And God rewards those who seek Him." To seek Him is an active verb that means to seek out, search for, investigate, scrutinize, beg, crave, to demand back or require. It seems like there's another layer to delighting God. When we go beyond accepting His offer to draw us up and wipe us clean, and choose to actively investigate Him; look for Him and His ways; crave Him; beg, need and require God's presence.

Driving in the truck, blinker had shorted out and was not working. This has been an on-going quirk for which I've found a "bandaid solution": don't move the steering wheel column. I was instantly upset; the engineer had moved the steering wheel position. Simultaneously, I knew I wanted to respond to this frustration in God's way (not in my anger). So I took a deep breath, God, help me to not be angry at him for moving the steering wheel, and just like that, the steering wheel locked into the correct position for the blinker to work consistently. I was shocked that God immediately answered my prayer. It wasn't until later that I realized that I didn't pray that God would fix my problem, I prayed that God would give me the power to act in His way of patience and forbearance.  "He rewards those who seek Him."

Don't get me wrong, every day I confess areas where I fail miserably at seeking Him and have walked far down my own path navigating life; anger, bitterness, self-righteousness, hardness, selfishness, doubt in His plan... But choosing His way for my life is rewarding, both immediately and eternally. Accepting His gift of righteousness through His generous offer (Isaiah 1:18) and then consistently choosing His way is what brings God most delight and gives us a secure eternal future in heaven and abundant, full, satisfying life now.

If you've accepted His offer, spend some time contemplating what path you're walking on: yours or His? It's never to late to turn around and get on His highway of righteousness.


As we sat around the Thanksgiving feast, the golden heads pointed out that the table (passed down from their great grandma) was leaning. Acknowledging the antique, my mother-in-law said, "Yeah, I should have taken up my mom on her offer to buy me a new dining room set." She had confidence in her mother's ability and desire to purchase a new dining set, but she didn't accept. God's offer, though much more significant, is free to us, desired by Him and all we need to do is say yes.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
Believing in God's plan to rescue us from death through Jesus' death on the cross is the only way to please God. The greek for please is euarestéo, which means to gratify completely. If we break this greek word apart, we get eu (to be well off, prosper) and airó (to raise, elevate, draw up). Looking deeply into airó, we get the picture of God drawing us up out of death and sin and making us completely clean, separated from all sin. And this is what makes him well off, tickles His fancy or delights Him: to draw us up out of our filth! Do you catch the irony here? We don't do anything; we simply believe He is the one true God that has a plan to save us. It delights God to pick me up and polish me until I shine, and He does all the work. Can you imagine if the only way my mother-in-law could delight her mother was if she said, "Yes, get me that new dining set,"?
"Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." Isaiah 1:18
Completely non-sensical! God says, "Here, give me all you have, are and will ever do wrong and I'll give you perfection." My only part is to have faith, trust, confidence assurance in His ability to do this. He offers and all I need to do is say yes. In our economy of you get what you pay for, this seems too good to be true.

If you've never accepted God's offer to lift you up and take your filth, spend time in conversation with Him. He wants to be generous with you. I beg you to take Him up on it. There's no other way to enter His presence and gratify Him completely. 


A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of sharing a piece of my journey with Jesus in our church. They asked me to record it in written form for the church's blog.

Read the full entry here.


The more I know Jesus, the more I realize that the outcome of my life is a choice. And in the dark morning hour, He gave me a vivid contrast of choices: an anchor or waves. Doesn’t life brew some choppy waters? But we can choose an anchor. Jesus can be our anchor so we don't just get tossed along.
On that day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was. And other boats were with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:35-40
I've never noticed that little phrase tucked in verse 36: "(the disciples) took (Jesus) with them in the boat, just as (Jesus) was." We can't know exactly what that implies, but looking at the entire situation, we know Jesus had just been teaching large crowds on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, likely for days. And that immediately following getting in the boat, He fell asleep. I conclude that Jesus was tired and He chose rest.
Do you sometimes feel tired? One child has the flu (which they share with everyone else in the family) the week you need extra time to prepare for a big presentation. Several unpleasant meetings at work, along with an unending inbox of emails and family demands. Three different activities, in three different cities on one night. Dishes piled in the sink, an empty pantry, sticky messes on the floor and laundry baskets overflowing. It’s so easy to get pulled into the storm. It’s what naturally happens. But we weren’t meant to constantly strive like the disciples in that storm on the sea of Galilee. Jesus had that storm under control. He has your storm under control and He’ll control the next one too. Take a lesson from Jesus and rest.
Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10a
When the disciples went to Jesus in the middle of the storm, I notice two big things. First, Jesus rebuked the storm. If the root of the storm is symbolic of Satan, then we know the waves or chaos of life aren't the enemy, Satan is. Satan is using any means possible to separate us from Jesus, so he will tempt us, distract us and attack us with the busyness of life. Jesus has overcome the Satan and God's given us everything we need to stand against Satan's schemes. Second, I think there is a parallel between when the waves calm down and when the disciples stop trying in their own power to fight the storm. When we stop fighting and put down our Anchor (focus on Jesus), there is a calm.
So how do you rest like Jesus? As soon as you wake, talk to God. Tell Him Psalm 46:10a, "God, today, I am stopping striving and choosing to rest in You because You have this day under control." The more you choose to dialogue with Him through your day, the more opportunities you’ll have to choose His way of rest. When the storm is rough, stand firm and see that Satan's trying to use your crazy day to pull you away from the rest Jesus intends you to have. Choose the Anchor that gives rest.


I'm not a neat freak, but I do like thing in order. I like things clean, but I don't lysol my house daily. I'm not legalistic, but I love routine. I love a list of things neatly checked off every day, but I admit sometimes my list is too ambitious.
As I curled up in the oversized chair after the golden heads were in bed and set down my glass something out of place caught my eye: a tiny, u-shaped, white wad in the corner of the coaster. "Oh, here you go, want a piece of A-B-C gum?" (A-B-C stands for already been chewed), I offered the engineer. We decided that I should offer it to the golden heads at breakfast the following morning. But I forgot and now after the morning rush to school, I snuggle in for some quiet reflection with God and it's still there.
And then I laugh. And I thank. I'm thankful for the young woman who likely took her gum out of her mouth to play trumpet. I thank God for the privilege of having three daughters. I'm thankful for a minute to sit down at the end of the day. I'm thankful for coffee in my cup this morning. I thank God that He made me new and caused me to not react in my old way and personality that would have blown up about not throwing your gum in the trash, but rather I responded with the new self: smiled and made a joke about it. (Seriously, does it really matter?)
I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20, AMP
I'm not super natural, I haven't "arrived" at always being patient and kind. Don't worry, I'll likely blow up about the trinkets and wrappers they leave behind tomorrow, but today, I'm going to smile and thank God.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Will you choose to give thanks today? Stop right now, close your eyes and thank God for five things.

Passion begins with discipline

This next phase of parenting almost blindsides me at times. There's so much for which no loving advice or book could really ever prepare you. However, there are plenty of gifts in the tween years. One gift is seeing life through a different lens. Our family brings seven different musical instruments (including vocals) to the table in the musical world. One of my mom duties includes making sure everyone practices 30-minutes a day. Short of bribery, this is a grueling task not often met with excitement and willingness. In the wake of this drudgery one day, I thought about the discipline learned. As a parent, we plead and urge our children into the discipline of practicing by oneself in the hopes that at some point, the playing becomes a desire, joy and pleasure to our child.
How beautiful this process is if it completes its goal: pleasure. How similar this is to spending time with Jesus. For nearly 25-years, spending time in God's Word and daily communing with Him was truly a discipline I was trying to develop. Sometimes I would do better than others and sometimes the discipline would completely cease. But it still was a discipline, not a desire as the psalmist wrote.
O, God you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1
What a vivid picture of passion. Inductive Bible Study is what caused my discipline to cross over into passion. As I learned more and more, I realized that I could study my Creator God for the rest of my life and still not wrap my mind around His ways, character and attributes. Wow! That's my God. That's a God I can be excited to discover! For passion to begin and continue, it seems logical that we have to develop new methods, continually discovering ways to experience and relate to God. Some might include memorization, inductive Bible Study, fasting, meditating, different ways to pray, reflection, journaling, study of creation and reading through the Bible just to name a few. There isn't one set way to build your relationship with God. And sometimes we need to mix things up a bit. He created you uniquely you; He wants to meet you where you are and in the way He wired your brain.
At some point, I hope the golden heads develop a passion and love for music, but even more importantly, I pray they practice the discipline of relating to God that transpires into a passion and thirst for Him.
In your personal relationship with God, are you working on discipline or have you crossed over into passion in your relationship? Begin by asking God to give you a passion for Him. Pray Psalm 63 to Him. Then decided what discipline will you choose to implement this week or month? 

My Advisor

Jesus is my good advisor; I have all I need and desire nothing more than His presence in my life.
Jesus makes me sit still in His abundant power (not my own strength),
He brings me rest, quiet and comfort in a foul, chaotic, fast-paced world.
He refreshes my soul like hot coffee in the early morning.
Jesus covers a battered, tattered me with His perfection because it delights Him and brings applause to His deserving Name: Jesus.

When my life becomes burdened, busy and miserable,
I don't have to worry,
for Jesus is with me;
His written Word and its instruction bring me hope and comfort when I choose to follow them.

Jesus gives me as much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as I could ever want, like a Thanksgiving Day feast.
This is all within my grasp while Satan watches and scowls because He can't have me;
No instead I have all the resources I need for a full, rich, meaningful life.
Only good gifts and undeserved favor will describe my life,
when I choose to live my life in Jesus' advisory office.
Psalm 23, paraphrase

Is Jesus your advisor? "[Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy. [Jesus] came that we might have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10. Choose abundance!


It's the end of summer and my potted plants look rough; the pansies have long bit the dust; weeds have taken over the garden, lawn and landscape; the pool has a film of algae clinging to its sides; the house hasn't been vacuumed in a month, (don't even ask about the layer of dust on the mantle); I have more green beans in the fridge than I care preserve; the school supplies are sold out in the store; the birds don't sing as loudly; and the sun peaks later each day. In contrast, the mums look gorgeous; hints of red are popping out on the neighbor's maple trees; the acorn squash blossoms flourish; the golden head's lockers and desks are loaded with supplies after open houses; and invitations have been sent for fall ministries. There's something sad yet beautiful about this transition. Defeating yet victorious about this shifting.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man. Eccelsiates 3:1-13
The wise King Solomon teaches us that God makes "everything beautiful in its time." Sometimes the beauty is yet to come: like when the seeds have just been buried underground. And sometimes the beauty is over: like the thirty birthdays cards and written wishes from friends and family. Beautiful and edifying then, but now just scrawls on a page.
Solomon also instructs us that God "has put eternity into man's heart." God has put a longing and desire for eternity with Him in our souls. Indeed He has given us eternal life that begins when we first know Jesus Christ. "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent," John 17:3. And though our eternal life begins at belief in Jesus Christ and leads us into His presence in heaven, we don't know the route. However, the route He leads us on is always on purpose and on time even though the seasons change and beauties come and go.
Solomon "perceived that there is nothing better for (us) than to be joyful and do good," as long as we live out our eternal life on this side of heaven. We should enjoy these changes God places strategically on our path. They are God's gifts to us.  
As you walk through your own transitions, do good and do well from a healthy, trusting attitude. To do otherwise would be to cling to a dead daisy when a beautiful mum is within your grasp.
Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man... Ephesians 6:5-7


As I hurried to clean up the kitchen for the evening (dishes put away, dirty towels in the laundry, stainless steel sinks shining), the engineer dumps them in the sink. A pile of garden carrots, their dirt soiling the sink. Gardening is messy but rewarding, fulfilling and leaving a legacy in its own little way.
The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
When the wicked increase, transgression increases,
but the righteous will look upon their downfall.
Discipline your daughter, and she will give you rest;
she will give delight to your heart. Proverbs 29:15-17
This morning, I'm looking on my downfall. I've done too much complaining. I have the privilege of being the one to raise my girls practically 24-hours a day, teaching them, being with them and I complain. They annoy me, they aren't perfect and they have personalities that aren't just like mine (or are too much like mine) and I complain. I have a husband who values my role in training, who asks me when he comes home from work, "How'd it go today?" Yet I complain. I must choose gratitude and change.
The words rod, reproof and discipline  mean directing, guiding, correcting and letting natural consequences incur. They all imply that much time is spent with your child. When I see this word, I immediately see disciple. Jesus spent time with His disciples, teaching, training, working and living life. My call is to do life with my golden heads. This takes time and sacrifice.
So much would get lost in this generation of golden heads if I chose to follow the societal norm and secure my career. Instead, I choose to teach: how to keep a home, cooking, family meal planning, gardening, handiwork, and even graphic design. Will I ever look back on my life and think, I wish I would have had a career? Though there are times that the income from a second household income would be nice, I think, for what? To pay more taxes, more dining out, a larger grocery bill (because you buy more convince food), less margin in our lives, to pay day care, to miss special moments, to drive more miles? I'm convinced as I watch the coming generation, they want mom more than they want stuff or opportunities. And no matter your degree or trade, I'm convinced it can be used in many other venues: home, family, church or volunteer organizations.
I'm not saying be careless, leave work to disciple your children and leave your family in the financial red. Rather, realize what your priorities are. Your money and your calendar will quickly tell you your priorities. Then choose to be radical: change your spending and time in order to make discipling your children a priority. No doubt, it's messy, like the pile of dirt in the kitchen sink. Physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually messy!
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. Proverbs 14:4
When my golden heads are gone from home, the house is clean and the introverted mother has silence and solitude. I have to admit, I love that, but with the mess the four of us leave behind as we're doing life together day to day, comes a great harvest of personal growth, responsibility, honesty, hard work, integrity, life skills and memories. I may not leave my golden heads with a pile of cash, designer clothes and expensive camps but I choose to do my part to leave them abundant crops.


Paralyzed in my circumstance, I feel hopeless. Then I recall...
Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Psalm 37:3, KJV
A recent sermon on Psalm 37 opened my eyes to the richness of this verse in particular.  As I've studied more on my own, I think King James gets it right.
Trust in the LORD...the Hebrew word for trust is the verb batach. This action verb means to trust or trust in, have confidence in any one. We can choose to be secure in God's plan and purpose for the right now.
and do good...Because we trust in God's plan for right now, we are able to respond with kindness and goodness toward others.
so shalt thou dwell in the land...God wants us to be content in our circumstance (it's not a mistake, it's His will or plan). We can exhibit the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) wherever He's placed us. We can peacefully and securely settle down or abide with Him by our side.
and verily...the Hebrew translated verily means firmness, fidelity, steadfastness, steadiness, faithfulness.  God is a steady, faithful shepherd.
thou shalt be fed...is translated from a complex Hebrew word. It means

  • to pasture, tend, graze, feed
  • refers to a shepherd, a teacher or ruler, people, Israel as a nation
  • implies meaning of pleasure and delight in companions or special friends

God is our shepherd, leading us where He wills and He wants us to take delight in His presence and those people He's placed in our lives. Because God is a steady, faithful shepherd, we can be confident that we will be fed. God leads us to fertile ground.
We tend to be people who always think the pasture is greener on the other side of the fence. My brother is a cattle farmer. He systematically and continually rotates his herds through the pasture land, making sure the cattle has sufficient green, lush grass to graze and access to fresh water. He's observing and making judgements based on weather, rainfall, and herd cycles. He knows what's best for the cattle. So God's perfect will knows what's best for us and right now, today, He's placed us where it's most beneficial for our spiritual and personal growth. We need to choose to be content here, find joy here and trust His timing and plan.
The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want,
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake...Ps 23:1-3
Read through all of Psalm 23 picturing God as your perfect shepherd, knowing what's best for you, loving you, having a perfect plan for you. No matter your present circumstance, He's got you in the pasture that's best for you. "God, you're present, you've proven Yourself reliable throughout Scripture and in my life so far. Therefore, I can stay in the position where You've placed me, You are my trust."


How much do you really remember from your wedding day? It's typically a blur of events that whizzes past. I do remember a few distinct things. One of them is the way the pastor took our wedding rings, laid them in the palm of his hand and then bounced them lightly up and down until they nestled almost completely inside one another. A picture of husband and wife becoming one in Christ.
Fourteen years later, I would more fully understand how that is accomplished.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him...Philippians 3:8-9
Everything else but Jesus is worthless to me, I want more Jesus and to "become one with Him," (from the New Living Translation) like the wedding rings nestled together. This means to understand Jesus by inquiry, thought, examination, observation, practice and experience. By these means, my life becomes increasingly encompassed by His. Jesus' thoughts are my thoughts. My daily aim is to be a bit more like Him every day. Nothing else matters as much as becoming nestled in His presence, becoming one with Christ. And as I become increasingly one with Him or am found in Him, this word also implies that I find myself; who I was created to be.
What would it look like in the church, in our marriages and families if each individual was becoming one with Christ? If we were all becoming conformed, changed into the same Jesus Christ? We'd truly have the same mind, same love, and mind:
...complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2:2
When we individually focus on being found in Jesus, becoming like Jesus, collectively we become united. We have the same mind and love: Jesus' mind and Jesus' love.
Flip back another chapter in Philippians.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, Philippians 1:27
Paul's letter to the church in Philippi, written from prison, calls them to keep advancing the gospel and to gain momentum for the task by being transformed into Christ's image and becoming one Church. The more each Philippian became like Jesus, the more united the Church would be and the more effectively they would spread the gospel message. When we are each individually becoming surrounded by Jesus, one with Him; we're a unified team of little Christs in a dark world that desperately needs His light.
Are you being surrounded by Jesus a little more each day? What step will you take today to bounce your ring just a little and settle into Jesus' ring? You can not push anyone else into His ring but set an example by your own lifestyle. Unity begins with you.


It's there, I know it: a beautiful summer sunrise in the northern horizon. It's brilliant orange and reds blurred as in an abstract painting through the foggy pane of the window. Only when I step outside into the damp, crisp morning air can my eyes focus on the glory of this gift.
Isn't it the same in the midst of pain, struggle, trial and testing? I know God is there in the midst of trial, He has a path for me to walk on and His glory, like the radiant sunrise, is present, but I have only an obscured view from behind the foggy window pane. I can't see or grasp it fully.
Consider David, fleeing from King Saul: exiled, a nomad, living from cave to cave, running for his very life.
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD—how long?
Turn, O LORD, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?
I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.
The LORD has heard my plea;
the LORD accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment. Psalm 6:2-10
I can't help but get this picture of David pouring out his heart to God and then in verse 3, he says, "Yehovah…." and with a deep sigh thinking, You can relieve this pain, You are able, but "How long will you make me wait?" and by the way, what's the purpose of this struggle? Can you relate?
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13
Four times David asks, "How long must I wait because I know you can deliver me, Lord." It's never a question of God's ability, but usually a question of His will. Even Jesus prayed, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine," (Matthew 26:39). So David too, leaves room for God's perfect will and in the meanwhile, David trusts in God's plan and timing, rejoices that he's saved and he sings.
David hasn't forgotten the ultimate truth. Yes, he's miserable. David knows God is present yet he can't quite see God's glory, goodness and plan in all of it.
An hour later, the heavy dew evaporated by the warmth of the sun, my view of the morning sun is unobscured. It just takes time. But His glory, His presence, His power has been there all the while. Sometimes in the moments of anxiety or trial, I love to sing to God, inviting His presence to my life. This is a favorite by Francesca Battistelli.
Cry out to Him because you know He's listening and His glory is present. Trust in His sovereign plan, rejoice in your eternal salvation and sing.

Black bird

Spying on the black birds raiding the garden, I try determine the cause of their charge. His head, buried under a newspaper left for mulch, lifts the paper up and down. After minutes of satisfied pecking, the black bird flies away. What did he find under that newspaper? I hope it was something good: a grub, worm or bug that filled his belly.
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him. Philippians 3:7-8
There was a lesson in the black bird. His sights were on finding the goods and he did whatever he had to do to get them. He pushed the garbage out of the way. Do I move the garbage out of the way and dig for the good stuff? Do I move the "to do list" out of the way, the busyness of each day, stubbornness, bad habits, false emergencies, pride, worry, fear? Paul said all these things are worthless garbage even if the world esteems them. Even our dreams and goals can keep us from finding what's valuable.
What's good? What's most valuable? Knowing Jesus so intimately that you are becoming one with Him or becoming more like Him every day. This is a present tense action verb and is on-going, not a one-time event. He desires a relationship with you and you can intimately know Him. Will you push the garbage out of the way and dig?
What garbage do you need to push out of the way to get to the the most valuable treasure of knowing Jesus? After God reveals what your garbage is, make an action plan. How will you push that item out of the way and focus on Jesus and grow in intimacy with Him?


The mind is a constant interpreter of what we hear and experience. My ears hear, "Wow, that is some really pink nail polish." My mind interprets, That is the ugliest color in the world; you are ugly. I experience a sassy, yelling at others golden head and my mind interprets, You're doing a horrible job as a mother.
The mind is a battle field between truth and lies, good and evil. Satan is constantly trying to tempt, distract or attack us and it starts in the mind. The mind interprets based on a primary emotion or fear that often finds its root in an early experience. While it may be interesting to pinpoint the experience that sprouted all this (facing it, forgiving and begin healing), what's more important is knowing the root emotion. In the case above, the emotion is fear of conditional acceptance. When you can pinpoint the primary fear or emotion, you hold it up to the flawless Word of God and speak truth.

  • He chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world that I should be holy and blameless before Him. (Ephesians 1:4)
  • See what kind of love the Father has given to me, that I should be called a child of God; and so I am. (1 John 3:1a)
  • I can go to Jesus and He will never reject me. (John 6:37) 
To believe anything counter to God's Word is to believe a lie and fall victim to Satan's attack.
What emotional language does your brain interpret? Spend time identifying the root emotion or fear and then search God's Word for the truth of the matter. I love these truth statements from Neil Anderson. 


Canoeing down the St. Croix, we were curious. Squinting at the map, we followed the blue squiggly line and spotted the source in northern Wisconsin, from which water runs year round into this 169-mile river. It's precious beginning is how the river gets its substance; including housing nearly 100 different species of aquatic fish. God is the source of true life.
Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. Revelation 22:1-3
And [Christ] is before all things (the source) and in [Christ] all things hold together. Colossians 1:17
He creates and sustains the tree of life that bears twelve different fruits, one being harvested every month. There is no tree that does that now, but He is making all things new in heaven (Revelation 21:5). Fruit is sweet, refreshing, nourishing and desirable. I think about how after the cold winter, comes the first round of tangy rhubarb; the fruit of the plains. And I could hardly wait to chop up my first batch of chives: something fresh, that grew right outside my door. In His eternal presence, because He's an ever-present source for the tree of life, there will be no fruitless winter! A revolving door of sweetness in our lives after we've been healed.
The leaves of the tree of life will be used to heal believers. When I was twenty, I thought some people just had it all together. As I approach 40, I realize that no one has it all together and if it appears they do have it all together; they're just good actors. The truth is we all need healing. As I think about the scars in my life that need permanent healing I recall the apostle Paul and his thorn (2 Corinthians 12:9). God did not take the thorn away on this earth so that Paul would find rest and power in Christ, not himself. But in heaven, our thorns will be taken away, scars dissolved by the leaves from the tree of life. In the new heaven and new earth, there will be no more scars, pain, loss, addictions, insecurities, bad memories, infirmities, imbalances…but permanent healing. In Christ's presence there is healing.
I recall the story of the poor woman who suffered bleeding for twelve years recorded in Mark 5. She knew that if she could only be in Jesus' presence, if she could only touch the edge of His cloak, she would be healed. Do we seek His presence that much? In heaven, we will be forever conscious of His presence, the Source of all wellness and therefore healed. Yet even on earth, the more we are aware of His presence the more healing we will experience now. 
We have so much to look forward to in heaven. But we don't have to wait. Jesus said that eternal life starts when we know the One true God and Jesus Christ the one God sent (John 17:3). So what do we do now? How will you be aware of His presence in this day? Find the Source, know the Source, talk to the Source, listen to the Source and begin to experience the sweetness of healing.


What does trust look like? I keep wondering the difference between trusting in the Lord and the Lord being my trust in Jeremiah 17:7.
[The Lord says,]
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
And whose trust is the Lord.
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. KJV 
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
The original Hebrew uses the verb batach in the first half of this sentence. This action verb means to trust or trust in, have confidence in any one. I enjoy backpacking. The worst part is having to carry everything you need on your back. Water seems to be the single-most heavy necessity. And thankfully, the engineer typically carries that two-liter reservoir in his pack; it lightens my load by nearly five-pounds. I have confidence in the engineer's strength as well as trust that at any time I have access to that water. Trusting in the Lord is choosing to throw my fears and needs on His back therefore lightening my load. It is after this choice that God becomes my trust or confidence.
In the second phrase, the noun form of the same root Hebrew word, mibtach, is used. In addition to trust and confidence, the idea of refuge, confiding and security is expressed. Because God is trustworthy, He is my go-to or safe place. Without second-thought, I should be tossing my heavy-load items on His back.
You can put your trust in a lot of things; people, jobs, homes, family, wealth... These aren't necessarily bad things, but are they worthy of your complete confidence? These things are temporary, imperfect  and eventually fail.
Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie! Psalm 40:4
God is the only permanent, dependable one. When your confidence is fixed anywhere else, you never know when it will be ripped away from you.
He is torn from the tent in which he trusted...Job 18:14
As I think about the daily grind full of trials, what does this kind of trust look like? When the bad news keeps piling up, anger and resentment reigns, decisions need to be made, people need to be managed, meetings need attending…how do you minute by minute place worries on His back when the world is coming apart at the seams?
It begins with knowing Him by studying His Word. As you know Him more, you'll consistently find that He is worthy of your trust. His own written Word is the best resource you can have to know Him more.
Next, it's practicing the presence of God, not compartmentalizing Him. Unfortunately, you can't ical Him into one segment of your day. He's always there, but do you consistently acknowledge His presence? If you would your day would have
  • No fear
  • No anxiety
  • a continual flow of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
This is trusting in the Lord; the Lord being your confidence. It begins with a choice and progresses into a lifestyle. When you've walked this road a while, God becomes your trusted go-to, your safe place no matter your situation.
Does your life seem raveling at the seams? Know Him. Feel Him. Throw the resevior on His back and keep walking with Him. This is trusting Him.


Who doesn't love Olaf? Arguably the most lovable character in Disney's Frozen, this adorable snowman sings and wishes for summer. Obvioiusly, this snowman doesn't realize he's going to be a puddle in summer. I do hope my wishes and dreams for summer aren't so unrealistic.
I believe I've mentioned before; I like a plan. A friend challenged me to think about a Rule for Life (from Peter Scazzero's book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality). Not a legalistic rule, but more like a plan for a holistic life. I've met amazing people who claim a mission statement for life, but I've always wondered what that looked like in day-to-day real life.
I began by listing what things in my life were both important and necessary: work I need to do, goals for spiritual growth, relationships in which to invest and rest or recreation that refreshes my spirit. I researched books, I made inquiries, I wrote reoccurring items in my calendar.
I trust God will work and direct my plan.
My steps are established by the Lord,
when I delight in God's way;
though I may mess up, I will not be devastated,
for the Lord holds my hand.
You see, I have gray hair and therefore I have perspective,
I know that God always works for the good of His children.
Psalm 37:23-24a, my paraphrase
I know I'll mess up. I always do. I will lack discipline, get distracted, forget, change my priorities… But I trust God gave me this vision and passion and He will unfold each day in order to fulfill His will for my life. I can trust God because I readily recall His faithfulness throughout my lifetime. He will not stop now.
Last week, I wrote about every day being an opportunity to be joyful because Jesus became a gate I can enter through to eternal life. He gave me this summer to rejoice, to become transformed into His image "in…summer!"
Now I must choose commitment to my rule for life, because it is a righteous plan that leads to holiness. Romans 6:19b, my paraphrase
God's given you this summer to be joyful and become more like Him, what are you going to do with it?


Trudging through the day more than springing, I steal away some time to be with my Maker. And He said to me, "I made this day too, so rejoice in this day."
The refrain echoes in my ears for days and opening my Bible to read in context, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it," I find this often quoted verse is surrounded by the idea of a gate.
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord's doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:19-24
I don't think I could build a gate, I'm not handy and not detailed enough. From my quick research, it takes some meticulous skills. Of course the gate must be square, but even more importantly, it must hang from a gatepost. I giggled reading WikiHow.com, "fence posts are necessary for installing a fence…you need posts in order to install a gate." Got it? Posts are a must. The essential post is placed in the ground filled half full of concrete and then set, being certain it is straight and vertical, so that the gate can open and close. When set correctly, the rest of the hole is filled with concrete. The post is like the cornerstone of building, it is the first component of construction of a fence and most important since everything else is set in reference to that post. The gatepost determines the position of the entire structure.
Now takes this idea back to Psalm 118's gate. Eternal life, life beyond this is not automatically given. We don't just get it. When Adam and Eve sinned, that privilege was taken away and guarded:
He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:24
Though we were separated from the tree of eternal life, all is not lost. God in His mercy made a way to reenter the garden and eat from the tree of life. If there were a fence surrounding that tree of life, Jesus is the cornerstone of the fence and he is the gate.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
This is God's marvelous doing, that Jesus would be the only way for us to taste the tree of eternal life.
Every day I live is a day I should stop and realize that Jesus made a way for me to enter the garden and that means it is a day to rejoice. The joy springs from the saving, the rescuing, the deliverance from peril, an entrance into the garden. I should consistently realize that the gate of righteousness has been opened to me by Jesus who is the gate and gatepost.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Revelation 22:14
Do we realize how blessed we are? Every day is a day to marvel in the truth of God rescuing us and making a way for us to enter the gate, to eat from the tree of life. I would like to complain about the day: I'm cold. I'm bored. I'm annoyed. I'm overwhelmed. I'm angry. But when I put those grumblings into perspective, my moaning should become rejoicing! I will rejoice in this day and be happy, happy, happy!


Touch is not my love language. But even still, I do love the comfort and acceptance I feel when someone I trust wraps arms around me and I feel nestled in their authentic, heart-felt embrace.
From now on, [because we no longer live for ourselves, but for God who is in our hearts], we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. 2 Thessalonians 5:16-17
In Christ, I am a new creation. Parallel this idea with the concentric measuring cups pictured above. I am like a new cup, nestled in His embrace. When I came to belief in Him, He tossed out my old dirty cup, replaced it with a new righteous cup (Philippians 3:9), that nestles tightly inside Him, Jesus, who sits right inside God--like concentric measuring cups.
What kills me is that even though I got a new cup, I still sin because of the imperfect world I live in. However, "we regard no one according to the flesh" tells me that I can't look at my sin because He cut away that rotting putrid flesh. This is the old that has passed away. Men used to literally see Jesus'  broken, bruised and bleeding human body, but He died and was resurrected with a new, perfect form. That's the future to which I'm compelled to look: my resurrected body (1 Corinthians 15:42-53). Is this what it means to throw off the sin that entangles?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… Hebrews 12:1
To not focus on my sin that bogs me down, rather choosing to focus on my righteousness from Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
I have a friend who just lost 20 pounds and she posted a picture of a 20-pound barbell on Facebook, commenting she was glad to be rid of it; it was heavy! What if she spent her days starring at the 20-pound barbell, wondering how she managed to gain and then lose that 20 pounds? She'd be stuck in the past instead of propelling herself forward.
I need to look to where God calls me forward and feel the comforting embrace of Christ nestled all around me. Yes, I've messed up in the past. But I am new and righteous. In light of eternity, my present state and circumstance don't matter, they will be cut off and replaced with complete holiness.
Picture yourself nestled in Christ. Keep your head up and focus on Christ. See who He made the new you to be, not your sin and past mistakes.

Humbling. Different. Good. Enough.

After the dishwasher was loaded, the gifts put away and crumbs swept up, I felt overwhelmed. Not so much in an exhausted sense, but in a super-crazy blown-away blessed overwhelmedness. Fifteen guests, 1400 miles on their cars, gifts, late night driving and nine excited kids came together to celebrate cousin birthdays. It's different to be the recipient of the gift.
I wonder if that's how Jesus' disciples felt. They followed Jesus to desolate places and the crowds came as well. When Jesus saw the physical need for food, He provided that need and used the hands and feet of the disciples. Just imagine the disciples serving, as part of Jesus' miracle, distributing the seven loaves of bread and two fish that fed over 4000 people (with left-overs besides). You feel blessed to be part of God's work, to love and give to others what God's provided. Hours later, the disciples find themselves on the boat and have little food to spare amongst themselves. Jesus wasn't surprised. Again, He knew the need and He would supply more than enough for their physical needs.
"Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” Mark 8:18-21
Jesus was able to supply all their needs; they wouldn't be left hungry. But wouldn't it feel different to be the recipient? To be served instead of serving? Passing bread and fish to the 4000, they were part of God's miracle; at this point, they'd just be like the crowd sitting on the hillside receiving His provision. Humbling. Different. Good. Enough.
It's natural, "no big deal" to me to give, love and serve others. Sometimes it stretches me past my comfort zone, but it's something I'm compelled to do and something God provides for me to share or give. But to receive and just have to sit with open hands, that's different, humbling, good, enough. This God's provision too.
I can't believe the effort given on my behalf, because they love me and God provided these family members with time and resources to give to me. What can I do but sit with open hands and accept the gift of God?
Right now, place your hands together, with the palms up and keep them open. Sit in the presence of your Savior acknowledging and accepting the gifts He's giving you right now.

Who am I

"I can't walk. I always have to share. My legs hurt. I can't bend my knee. Sisters are always mean to me. She called me a baby…." On and on and on the saga continues and I want to scream. God, help me know what to do. This is when I am most attentively listening for His answer and truly expect His reply in direction. In my reading this week, I realized I need the answer to a much bigger, important question, God, help me understand who I am. This prayer is far less frequent that the prior almost daily prayer. Since I don't usually ask God to reveal this to me, without invitation, the world provides a multitude of answers: Your skin is dull; eat this super food for radiant skin. You need to lose weight; crossfit will shed the pounds. You're angry; take a time out. You're overworked; have a glass of wine. You are better than this; give Mr. Difficult an ultimatum. You deserve it; buy it. Answers that don't satisfy, frustrate and are at times unrealistic. The prophet Jeremiah says this is a curse and is in fact turning our hearts from God or plugging our ears to God's answer.
This is what the LORD says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the LORD.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land." Jeremiah 17:5-6
In contrast, when we ask God to answer the question and listen, Jeremiah says this man is blessed who trusts in God's answer and is living by a stream like a tree with deep roots and constantly bears fruit.
[This is what the LORD says:]"But blessed are those who trust in the LORD
and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8
In order to be confident in or trust God's answer implies that I'm listening to His answer. Listening to the world may sometimes seemingly bear fruit or benefits for a while, but the world's answer is planting our life tree in the desert and the water will run out and the benefits burn up with the sun. This is why we are seldom satisfied. We lose weight or face conflict at work and feel so happy and proud of ourselves. But it is seldom enough. We determine to lose more weight. To change our hair color. To have surgery. Get a new job. To join a new club…
Who am I? We don't ask God and so we inadvertently listen to lies: you are a wife, a mom, a teaching director, overweight, addicted to food, inconsistent, not good enough. All these things are temporary. And while some may be true as far as status goes, because they are not eternal, they are not fixing our eyes and establishing lives based on what is eternal; and therefore I don't believe it's God's answer.
Only God knows who I am. He understands my heart. Listening to God's answer to who am I is planting myself next to the fountain of living water and setting my thoughts on eternity. Eternally, I am beautiful, His child, forgiven, accepted, with Christ, living with purpose, never alone, made new, in eternal relationship with Him, significant.
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?
[This is what the LORD says:]"But I, the LORD, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve." Jeremiah 17:9-10
God understands my heart in this battle. He knows my heart is sly, slippery, easily deceived and sick beyond healing. I can not comprehend or am conscious of the vile, ill ways of my heart, but He does. And though it may be covered with dark, gooey muck, He can clean off the mire. He answers with eternal perspective if I choose to listen.
If I listen to the lies of the world, I may temporarily experience gain and delight, but it will not last and will soon become pain and curse. If I listen to God's answer, I can experience joyful, rich, meaningful life.
My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:20-23
How often do you stop to analyze your heart? What are you thinking, feeling, believing right now? Does it align with God's Word? Listen to Him and literally destroy the lies of Satan.


Like the layers of that delicious chocolate birthday cake, circumstances, scripture and creation seems to echo the word: transparent.
Studying the landscape out my window, the trees stand, completely exposed and naked. They can't hide what they are to the core. Transparent.
Driving down the road, Plumb's lyrics repeat the theme
I just let go
And I feel exposed
But its so beautiful
Cuz this is who I am
I've been such a mess
But now I can't care less 
I could bleed to death...
In Cinderella, I watched the country, slave girl look in the mirror before approaching the searching prince, in ragged clothes, dirty face, disheveled hair and say, "I have no magic to help me now." She must meet the prince just as she is. Transparent.
Studying in 2 Corinthians for Bible study, I watched the apostle Paul, expose a multitude of emotions and feelings to his readers. Transparent. And I wonder, why do we hide behind facades? Why do we pretend to have it all pulled together when in reality, it's the furthest thing from the truth?
That's when I felt compelled; the rubber meets the road here. Strip it off. Start with your make-up. I stood in front of the mirror staring for five-minutes before I decided to go to church without make-up on. I felt exposed. Quite literally. There was question in the engineer's eyes and hesitation as if to say, Are you sure you're ready for church? Did you forget something? 
Transparency is a choice that yeilds beautiful, authentic results.
Though Paul doesn't use the word, I feel it's part of his message in chapters 6 & 7 of 2 Corinthians. 
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians: our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return..widen your hearts also. 2 Corinthians 6:11-13
Then Paul launches into a discussion on not tying yourselves to unbelievers before returning to the idea of being open and transparent with him in 7:2, "Make room in your hearts of us," and bearing the emotions of his heart.
I have to assume that this isn't just a rabbit trail Paul went on about being yoked with unbelievers, but rather, it's a principle to apply. It just isn't beneficial or even recommended to be completely transparent with non-believers. Be real, not hypocritical, but guard your heart when working and living with unbelievers. 
However with God and with those who you are in covenant relationship (marriage, church, mentorships, friendships, family),  open wide your hearts! These are the people who "are in our hearts, to die together and to live together," Paul says in 7:3. He goes on to use ten descriptors of his emotions: 
boldness (v. 4)
pride (v. 4)
comfort (vv. 4, 6, 13)
affliction(4, 5)
joy (vv. 4, 7, 9, 13, 16)
fighting (v. 5)
fear (v. 5)
downcast (v. 6)
regret (v. 8)
confidence (v. 16)
Paul flings open his heart and what happens? Rejoicing! He mentions joy five times. It is embarrassing, humbling and sometimes painful to be transparent. But there must be joy found it.
My mind returns to the trees getting ready to burst out in glory and joy. They've been sitting exposed and bare for nearly seven months. Only after they've had this time of transparency are they ready to become what God created and intended them to me. This must be true in our own lives. Only after we've been transparent and bared all, can we experience joy and flourish. And it must ongoing. After five months of glory, the trees will again be exposed. Fall will come and their leaves (or make-up) will be stripped away. The seasons remind us to be continually transparent.
Will you choose to bear your true heart and emotions in covenant relationships? It's painful, hard and humbling, but you will experience joy in becoming the beauty God created you to be.


They were waiting for a cold spring day fit for the movies. Sunday's chill and forecast for snow fulfilled their desire. Captivated by Cinderella, even mom as enthralled. Let's get this right, her name was Ella. When her step-sisters and step-mother find her with ash from the fire's cinders on her face, they taunt  her by calling her "cinder"Ella. When all is revealed and the Prince finds the mystery princess and begs her name, I was appalled when she answered, "My name is Cinderella!" I wanted to stand up and shout, "That's not who you are! You are Ella!" I resisted the urge, for the sake of my family's embarrassment.
Mark Driscoll taught, "Your past might explain you, but it doesn't define you."
Define means to explain or identify the nature or essential qualities of; to describe. My past is not who I am.
I spent some time before bed, looking through my childhood, wedding and early years of our family scrapbooks, pondering what from my past do I let define me? As I pondered, I thought about the daily path I walk as a mom, a wife, a leader; the struggles and battles each role has attached. My thoughts poured onto my weakness, misgiving, faults and strains. And then I realized, not only does my past experience not describe me, my present circumstances do not identify me. Only my standing with Christ defines me. Who am I?
  • I am forgiven of all my sins (past, present and future.)
    • And you who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14
  • I am a child of the King. 
    • See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1a
  • I am secure, He will never reject me. 
    • All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37
  • I am a temple of the Holy Spirit.
    • Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • I am never alone.
    • And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.. John 14:16
  • I am new (not fixed up).
    • If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 1 Corinthians 5:17
  • I am given eternal life now!
    • And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3
When I sat down with my scrapbooks, I felt heavy, burdened, distressed, not so much by my past, but my present. After God spoke to my soul, I felt lighter, lifted. It just took reminding and listening.
Will you approach God with your "scrapbooks"? What are you letting define you? Is it true? You are a child of the King!


In a discussion with dear friends, margin was the topic. Margin is the difference between load and power; where Power is energy, skills, time, training, emotional and physical strength, faith, finances and relational support and load is represented by work, problems, obligations, commitments, debt, deadlines, interpersonal conflict, etc. Margin is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. "Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress; margin is having the time to read it twice.” (Richard A. Swenson, The Overload Syndrome, 1998 and Margin, 2004.) Marginless is is wondering if anyone has seems a robin. Margin is listening and seeing the spring birds migrate north.
Contemplating, discussing and analyzing margin, I begin to think different people are wired to need different amounts of margin. I think my body needs more margin than most.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ...Titus 2:11-13

Maintaining margin seems to be an example of living the self-controlled, upright and godly life that Paul instructs Titus. Dr. Richard Swenson shares some steps to attaining margin in your life:

  1. Save the spaces in life for what really matters
  2. Plan for the unexpected
  3. Be intentional
  4. Say no to non-priorities
  5. Tame TV and technology
  6. Periodically disconnect; control interruptions
  7. Nourish relationships
  8. Stop the hustle, slow the pace
  9. Use the gift God gives for enjoyment (free time)
  10. Define and defend your boundaries
My week reiterated this discussion with friends. My load was fruit basket upset. No school Monday, therefore fun times but my load was increased without an increase in power supply (time). However, so reassured, our family Tuesday morning devotion reassured me that God always directs our steps. My "hiccups" or surprises are never a surprise to Him, they are part of His plan to transform me and use me. This same morning was full of meetings and commitments followed by a call from the school nurse. Wednesday was a high fever and numerous plan Bs curtailing un"necessary" trips to the grocery store and errands. Thursday was having a day of well-children, away from home all day and envisioning the catch-up that would have to wait until Friday. And Friday morning longing for some rest and reprieve (margin), God stopped me in the creation story. Every day God used to create earth is summed up, "And there was evening and there was morning, the ___ day." Evening comes first. The dark. The time of rest and replenishment. Then comes the day. Again, I hear God telling me His rest comes before the activity. This is when I resolve to spend the beginning of my Friday resting in Him. Not running the errands that have been waiting since Tuesday. Not going on a run. Not cleaning the house. But curling up for at least an hour with my coffee, Bible and maybe my writing to rest in Him. Then the day will come and make time enough for all the items that need me.
Not thirty-minutes later, "My head hurts and my tummy hurts." Oh, those viruses are contagious? Of course, sisters share everything. So again, God directs my day and I believe He directs me to trust in His provision, His timing and His rest. Yes, there will be items I can't check off my list (anything having to do with leaving the house) but there will be margin, time. And that's when my ailing little golden head says, "Mom come quick, look at that bird." Two red-necked male finch perch on the deck railing. In His time, in His way, He's teaching me margin and rest.
How much margin do you need? How much rest do you need? How is God methodically arranging your day to create both rest and margin? Will you choose to trust His perfect timing?