Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Life Of Sorts

My days have been consumed with an archaeological expedition. One as close as my office closet, but as far away as distant years unearthed by layer after layer of pictures, programs and school papers. I’ve sorted a myriad of mementos from the unforgettably priceless to the “What in the world is that?”. My goal: Condense from the mountain of stuff to what captures our history in the most meaningful way.

As the papers shuffle, I drift through time like a canoe loosed from its mooring. Unearthing declarations of my daughter’s second grade love and her various dreams for when she grows up - a spy, a doctor, an adventurer. I wouldn’t advise the doctor. I found a picture she drew telling a patient “I’m sorry, I can’t help you”, who, lying stricken declares, “I’m dead”.

The most special are the hints of what God has placed inside her. From a young age, He has been shaping her talents and allowing her to explore them in her own way. I am watching as her focus is narrowing from a broad expansive valley between mountain ridges to the narrow pass that will carry her through the craggy peaks. I’m watching and praying.

I sorted through years of my bible study notes wishing I had done more. If only I had studied them more in depth and committed them to an organized history of my journey. I relived times plagued by sadness as I recovered from the loss of the life I thought was my dream. There were times of intense struggle to surrender myself to the place God chose for me. Some notes dripped with regret while others were inexpressibly joyful. Across the pages and years I saw God speaking love, comfort, joy and direction. Each note a reminder of how faithful God always was, is and will be. I see Him written into it all and I’m filled with thankful joy.

I sort through the journey, but I can’t keep it all and much I don’t want to. It felt so freeing and empowering to set ablaze the huge pile of scraps and watch it turn to ash. It is a fitting project as the year comes to a close, to remember where I have been, I mean. Somehow, it clarifies today. I am the sum of all my experiences. Even though it all has shaped my “here and now”, my life lived must make room for my life yet to be.

I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. Phil 3:14 The Message

And so I sort.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Five Things you Never Wanted to Know

Sometimes friends are a warm blanket on a cold day. Other times they are the burr under my saddle. Love you Tam! I do spend way too much time thinking about what to post instead of just posting. Waiting for the profound thought, you know. You can see how often that happens. NEVER. Even now I have been pondering addiction? Is that can't live without, love love love it, or things I crave? This will have to be a mix because at this moment I can't even think of five. Oh be quiet.

  1. Exercise. Big surprise to those who know me. I have done very little in the last month and quite frankly. I miss it. It is amazing how fast progress can be lost. (Hmm, spiritual truths apply. Keep on guard, don't grow weary.) I love a good workout. If I sweat to the ends of my hair, I've done my job. I feel better, I sleep better and I hope I stay healthy longer. For you who just groaned, "Oh whatever", I'm vain. I also like to look better. I have a ways to go.

  2. Sweets. I have to have something sweet everyday. Now you see why #1 is a must? Caramel and chocolate are my favs, but I have been nibbling, well, gleefully consuming the extra cream cheese frosting from the carrot cake. Yumm, a little Christmas guilt. I also am getting more addicted to coffee. My typing companion is flavored with 1 splenda, 1 spoonful brown sugar and Italian Sweet Cream flavoring, it's oh so good. Culver's Turtle Sundaes are the ultimate treat! I get the junior.

  3. Making God more of my everyday. I have to start my day with my favorite chair, my bible, my coffee companion and soak in God. I want Him to ooze into my little things so He can shine in my big things. No one will listen to what I have to say about Him if they don't see Him when I am silent. Again, lots of progress in my life, but I have a ways to go.

  4. I just asked my daughter what I am addicted to and with an impish grin she said "Me". Ok, that's true. I'm a single mom, she's an only child. As much as she might complain that I'm too tough, never satisfied and never let down, I think she knows I love her with everything I have and am soooo proud of the young woman she is becoming. In these last few years of school, I'm working hard to transition to a healthy coexistence and independence that also strengthens our bond. Now that's a challenge. Did I mention I have a ways to go?

  5. Time. Which I'm out of right now. This addiction is better described as a craving and can go so many directions. I want it to slow down. I want more of it. I want to exchange time spent on things that drain for time spent on things that keep my heart bubbling. Time for others and time with others. Stimulating conversation, challenging encouragment, let your hair down laughs, making their day better, exploring new places (even when they are right inside us). It's precious and fleeting. I crave it.

Thanks for the blog award AND the burr under my saddle.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday Celebration Recipe

Here come the holidays. Anticipation and trepidation dance like sugar plums in my head. I love the holidays. It is a great time to focus on blessings, celebrate with family and strengthen the bonds of friendship. Although I consider it taboo to do any Christmas decorating before Thanksgiving, this year I’m going on a trip and I want to come home to Christmas so I’ve broken the rules and started the transformation to celebrate Jesus.

As much as I love the holidays, I hate how little discipline I have when it comes to enjoying the scrumptious goodies I wait all year to eat. YUUUMMMMYYY! I can taste them all now. Pecan pie, dressing, caramels, fudge, cranberry sauce, homemade rolls. Oh, stop me, I’m gaining weight just thinking about it.

I’ve been thinking about how to negotiate a five day vacation, joining in family meals and sharing homemade treats while successfully curbing the wild horse that wants to run to the feed trough and gorge myself! I've become painfully aware of the careless ways I waste calories. Since my worst eating habit is grazing, I could be in real trouble. I never seem to remember eating things when it is one little bite at a time all day long. To help myself this year, I’ve created a recipe to keep me on track.


Mix one large portion of right priorities. Be intentional. What I want most is to celebrate God for who He is and what He has done for me and Jesus who came in such a beautiful and intimate way. Focus on that, not the food.

Stir in an ample supply of water. Water satisfies and fills calorie free. Drinking a full glass of water before meals will dramatically cut consumption.

Add only a dash of extra treats. Remember consuming careless calories hurts me and makes me feel defeated. Feeling defeated triggers extra eating. Extra eating makes me feel defeated. . . Get the cycle?

Divide the recipe in to four parts. Enjoy any of the foods I want, but cut the portion to half or even a fourth.

Let ingredients rest to develop the bouquet. Savor the taste slowly, let it linger. Feast on the sight and smell of food, not necessarily the taste of food itself.

Allow time to let the mixture rise until double. Find activities away from the table with family and see how multiplying that time can be.

Bake until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Invest in others. Look for ways to edify them and watch the barriers fall away. Aligning my priorities to God’s cleanses the soul. A cleansed soul is satisfied.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:8

I would love to hear your ingredients to add to the holiday celebration feast.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I did something completely ridiculous tonight. I came home to find my daughter watching a movie I plan to see. It was near the end and I detest knowing the end of movies. I'm telling you if I haven't seen it, don't you dare give away the plot!

I intentionally went to another room to avoid the spoiler. Realizing I could still hear the characters, I closed the door and made noise. I'm serious, reveal the ending and I don't want to waste my time with the rest.

Reasonable behavior? It might be. Until I think about all the times I've asked and pleaded and contrived to get the end of stories in my life out of God. Yep, completely ridiculous.

Tug Of War

Ferocious winds blew all week. Before that it had only been windy a day here and a night there before a balmy reprieve would return gifting days all the more worth savoring knowing they might be the last. The gentleness of fall strains against the power of winter. As if on borrowed time, a tug-of-war teeters undecided, but fall will succumb and winter will emerge victorious.

I planned for one of those balmy days to get my last outdoor job finished. Digging cannas. It's a big job and the only time of the year I don’t like the towering, showy flowers. But I know they must be dug because cannas will not survive the winter outdoors. They will die.
Now, my balmy reprieve has been snatched away by days of foreboding winds capped by a cold, soaking rain. I don’t know if I will get another chance to save my cannas for planting next spring.

My grandfather has lived an incredible 96 years and now he is in a tug-of-war. He slowly weakens as his life here on earth retreats. Some days are sharper than others. Processing information sometimes requires more energy than he has. Other days he recalls minute details I can’t even remember. I’ve watched the tug-of-war and waited for opportunities to help him in battle with the inevitable-winter. He has been a four-term State Senator, a pioneer in his industry, he even oversaw a prisoner of war work camp during WWII. But he does not know Jesus. Winter is tugging and he will not survive.

The foreboding winds slammed into reality last week when he fell and broke his hip. Surgery, a hospital stay then back to the nursing home. He never knew what was happening or why. Just like what happened to my grandma, but she never returned. Feeling that it had been snatched away, I prayed for a balmy reprieve.

I've talked to my grandpa so many times about how believing in Jesus is the only to get to heaven. Usually, I walked away from the conversation astounded that the light of understanding still had not come on. How can truth and life fall on such deaf ears? Has God kept him alive all these years for the opportunity to give his life to Him? I don’t know. I just pray.

Yesterday, the phone rang and I heard my balmy reprieve. My grandpa asked about plans to go to a football game, detailing who was taking him and what time to be back at the home. I hung up the phone thanking God. He’s back.

I don’t know for how long. Winter is pounding on the door of his life and time is short. But, Praise God, I get another chance to share Jesus! I pray this time, the conditions will be right and he will understand. I pray he will find life in Jesus and he can live in the eternal springtime of heaven. Thank you God for granting him a reprieve. Use this time. Shape my words. Open his heart. Give him life.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Jesus Bubbles

I recently had the privilege of attending a banquet for International Cooperating Ministries. Their mission is to nurture believers and assist church growth worldwide to see people, transformed through Jesus. http://icm.org/ ICM partners with already established ministries to provide further opportunities to spread the gospel.

One facet is nurturing believers through the Mini Bible College (MBC). Translated into dozens of languages, the MBC provides a four year bible study from Genesis to Revelation. It is broadcast via radio, and an amazing hand held, solar-powered audio player along with written study materials. This study program was written by a man in a wheelchair and now his love for the scripture reaches around the world. It’s amazing how God can go where we can’t.

The second focus is giving a permanent home for bodies of believers who don’t have a church building. ICM has built nearly 5,000 churches around the world. They will only construct a building for active churches who commit to planting at least five daughter churches in their country. Although the church is not the building, their experience shows the multiplied growth of new believers when there is a focal point for spreading the gospel.

The best part of the evening was meeting Bishop Mgullu Kilimba from Tanzania. Jesus absolutely bubbled from Mgullu. I could picture the springs of living water as he told of planting more than 100 churches - and that was even before he started working with ICM. You can meet Mgullu at http://cmftz.org. He is a part of Christian Mission Fellowship. As we visited during dinner, his easy, infectious laugh reminded me what the joy of Lord really is. As he described the ministries through CMF he was so animated, I imagined him dancing as David did. Besides planting churches he helps provide wheelchairs for the disabled, medical aid missions and drilling wells or boring holes as he calls it.

Mgullu is probably close to my age and I felt small. Not because he made me feel that way, but because He is such a dynamic part of God’s plan for Tanzania. How blessed I am to meet a believer across the globe so I can pray for him and his ministry. What an encouragement it is to see how God is working all over the world by Christian ministries and believers coming together. It makes me realize what a BIG God we have and how small this earth is to Him. I want to see what God is doing and climb on board. I want Jesus to bubble.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


My family is waiting. My niece is now days away from having a baby. As each day draws closer to her due date, I wonder if it will be today. But no worry it is isn’t. It is just one more day for the baby to grow and develop and strengthen tiny lungs in the perfect world of the womb. Waiting for babies is easy, exciting and for the most part predictable. We already know her name.

Although sometimes things can to very wrong and I can’t imagine the pain of that, mostly the miracle of a new life is a joyous finale to a well-known time of preparation. Don’t I wish all waiting was like that? I would love to know the gestation period of the answer to my prayers. I could mark the weeks and days from the calendar patiently seeing progress toward the day of resolution. I would love to look forward the assuredness of holding the miracle of a physical, breathing, full of life, answer.

Why can’t I understand answer to prayer is like that? God has placed it in the womb. From seemingly nothing, He is forming the answer cell by cell. He is knitting together each tiny piece, molding the end result carefully and sequentially, never getting out of step in the process. God is building strength and growing the miracle until the appointed day the answer is ready to be revealed to me.

I don’t know the exact time He will be done with the process. There is no special day circled on my calendar. I’m not even certain my answer will come like the joy of a healthy, bouncing boy or girl. It may come with special needs or the answer may meet me with the task of laying it to rest.

But, there will be an answer. God is working in the womb of my life. I wait expectantly.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

M and M Day

By noon I had finished six loads of laundry, canned the last of the tomato crop into flavor packed juice, finished a batch of stewed cranberry apples (Yum!), and have the crock pot bursting with a batch of cinnamon apples. If today goes as planned my house and I will be ready for the cover of Today’s Christian Superwoman. Oh dear, wrong title.

It is an M and M day.

It started well enough, although way too early for a Saturday. Mary always starts the day talking with God before I leave cover and pillow behind. As I shuffle to my favorite chair with perfectly creamed, sweet coffee in hand, I anticipate intimate time with my Lord. Reading my study chapter, I feel Martha tapping my shoulder. You need to get going soon, lots to do. Not until my worship time is done, I think. Not until God speaks. You don’t want to work all day. Besides, there are places you need to be. I want to experience God, leave me alone. Back and forth bantering continues until too distracted for quiet time, I climb from my chair and start the day. The scene outdoors catches my attention as I pause to breathe it in. The early morning is cloaked in fog so heavy it hints of an earlier rain. I can barely see across my yard. The murky, foggy morning settles heavily upon me.

Martha efficiently juggles wash, apples and tomatoes until she hears Mary. I know you would feel so much better if you went back to finish your time with God. The tomatoes are ready for the next step. To pacify that pesky Holy Spirit, I multitask by practicing the music I will sing in the next few weeks. Singing and canning. Canning and singing. Make me over, Make me new. Scooping the stewed tomato, pepper and onion mixture into the food mill, I churn the life out of the vegetables and press it through the mill. Singing and pressing. As the morning wears on, my kitchen window reveals lessening fog mixed with a hint of sun. Churning and singing.

Make me over, Make me new.
Make me a mirror, a reflection of You.
Take me all apart take me to Your heart and pull me closer.
Oh, Jesus, make me over

I watch the transformation of the mixture inside the mill. My singing comes to life. I hear it. I suddenly get it. A beautifully smooth liquid emerges from the distasteful mush inside the mill. Yes Lord, take me all apart. Just like the difference of the tomatoes from one side of the mill to the other. Make me over.

But that isn’t what you were taught when you learned about Christ. Since you have heard all about Him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person in God’s likeness, righteous, holy and true. Eph 4:20-24 NLT

The tomato juice is lined up and cooling on the counter.
The sun has burned off the fog revealing a beautiful afternoon.
On this M and M day, Mary is the example I will follow.

Credits: Make me Over, Natalie Grant, Bernie Herms, Stephanie Lewis

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Full Throttle

I have been going full throttle with activities almost every night for the last few weeks. Granted it was not all work. School activities were mixed with some fun things, and even new ministry opportunities. They have been good weeks. Yet, I could feel my gears grinding from overdrive down to first. I was beginning to feel like I might be destined for the crash wall around turn three.

Then came Sunday. Pull it into the pit for an engine check, tire change and refueling.

Worship with my family of believers today was, well, heavenly. Some Sundays are just more than others. I will take responsibility for the others not being up to par. I’m sure God never slacks off. But today, there seemed to be more of God, more of His Holy Spirit, more of our hearts humble and expectant before Him. More communion. Just as the winds blew change outside, the Spirit moved change within. Hundreds were there, but I felt one-on-one with God.

Ahhh, neutral. I’ll put it park and recharge the battery.

What made the difference between today and the times I may not feel so up close and personal with God? I wish it was because I was so in tune with Jesus and so obedient to God that I was rewarded with a heavy duty dose of His Spirit. But, I can’t take any of the credit. The only thing I had to offer was a heart humbled and open. God is God and He was God in a BIG way today.

Thank you Lord. You are the master mechanic. I’m tuned up and ready to hit the track again.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Everything seemed so at odds today. A restless, agitated feeling permeated everything I did. I was impatient, unkind and unsupportive. It was a day I seemed to tear down rather than build one another up. I prayed several times for a friend particularly in need. Were they prayers of a righteous woman that availed much? I’m relieved to know many others are praying also.

Why are some days so crosswise?

I started my day in the word with quiet time and prayer. I tried to keep praises singing in my heart. I felt like His spirit was on the other side of my closed door. A door I tried to open, only to slam my shoulder against its heavy timbers. Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough or focusing on God with all my energy. The day is done and I’m still asking.

Why are some days so crosswise?

Just get up tomorrow and do it again. What God? The mountain top is a peak, not a plateau. Most of the journey is either up or down. Can’t I just plop myself down at the top and hang out a while? I love doing that! It’s so much easier and what a view. That isn’t where the cross is. Today you’ve come crosswise. You have to choose where you go beyond the cross. Up to Me or down to you.

Some days are so Cross wise.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Scale Tales

There it was in black and white. My not so innocent deception. For the past year I've placed a higher priority on my health. I'm concerned about blood pressure, bone density, muscle loss, basically old age getting the best of me. Ok, vanity says, "It's your appearance". There's a lot of me headed south for the Winter, and I'm not in Texas.

Being concerned about "health", I had a scale but didn't let it rule my life. I set loftier goals. Getting back into the jeans I haven't had on in years being one of them. So what's a number on a scale anyway? Honestly, I didn't know my exact weight, I could change the scale by five pounds just by how I stood on it.

Then God in His great humor, tricked me into buying a new digitally balanced scale that can even track my progress. I can hear Him chuckling now. From the moment I set foot on it, I knew it was going to be a tenuous relationship. There is a reason it is black. How dare the scale say I weigh that! (Actual weight not pictured.) Stepping off and back on again, a great trick on my old scale, did nothing to change the outcome. Drat the accuracy, the unflinching truth.

The chuckling died away and God got serious. How do you measure yourself? The cover of the magazine? What your friends think? Or, what you think they think? Big difference. What scale will you use to measure your life?

My word. Perfectly balanced. Always accurate. That's your scale. Balance your life, your emotions, your growth by what I give you in scripture.

A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight. Prov 11:1

Like my old white scale, the world is fickle, changeable. I can lean a little to the side and get a response that makes me feel better about myself. Far too often, I let the world dictate my spiritual fitness. Not often enough do I weigh myself against the accuracy of scripture. Alright God, I hear You. I'm stepping onto Your scale and into Your word. You've given it to me in black and white.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Backing Forward

“Still, accepting God’s existence is one thing; honoring his command is another matter entirely, especially if we’re required to go back when we’d rather go forward.”~Liz Curtis Higgs

I had no choice. Every part of my life was ripped away and shattered beyond repair. The dark giants were celebrating their victory as I lay immobilized in pain and confusion. How could my life have come to this point? I have tried to be faithful. I thought I was following God. I tried to stand for truth and listen to Him. Admittedly, my life was not completely honoring Him. I had allowed the rebellion of others and their pursuit of sin to infiltrate my life. But did I deserve this? Deserve it or not, I was being fed to the wolves. I made the hardest phone call of my life, and back I went to a familiar, now foreign place. Home. I’ve stayed since.

The day I left home I was young, full of hope and sure I was headed where God wanted. Returning years later, every hope crushed, I was desperately alone. All I felt was shame and failure. I constantly cried out to God. Can I have any part of my life back? You want me to do what? Where do you want me? Who do you want me to be? Show me God.

At first the answers came in bits and pieces. As I grew stronger, I saw answers faithfully and lovingly come, even when I didn’t like the process.

Fast forward over a dozen years. The hurt of that dark time has faded so that I have trouble conjuring the emotion. I am changed and I am so completely thankful. I would have never become who I am now in my former circumstances. I pray dozen years from now I look back at today and say, I am changed.

Is there really any going back with God? What if my puny little mind just doesn’t get it. The journey I mean. Is it about going back, or staying or going? It’s inside. Scraping away what is not Him and asking Jesus to fill the gaps and make me over.

There are days I wish He would allow so many things to be different. Times will come when I long to hear "Go". On those days, I will fall back into His arms, stay in His care and go where he leads. And I can do all that right where I am.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Laying It Down

Lay It Down. How can something that releases such pressure and pain be so excrutiatingly difficult? I have been through the process more than I care. I'm trying to be like more Jesus. What else should I expect when there is so much not Jesus in me?

Sometimes I surrender what is already gone.
Sometimes I surrender what will never be returned.
Sometimes I surrender and God allows it to remain.

I won't know which until the act is done.

Does God sometimes only want my willingness to lay it down? I wonder if that is the toughest surrender of all? God wants to be the one who shapes my thoughts, motivation, actions. He must be the only one who shapes them. When He allows it to remain, it is for His glory. It is not a ticket to take over. It is a reminder to be available, watchful, obedient, useful for His purpose.

Once again, I'm searching my heart and laying something down. Because I have so much practice, I know this time will not be quite as hard. Sometimes I stumble past my road blocks, but I always find on the other side of surrender what I am really seeking-an encounter with God. That wrap me in your arms, intimate availability when I know the particular, special love God has just for me. I lay my Isaac down and I pick up hope.

So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Heb 6:18-19

You promised me God, I have run to You. In the storm, Your anchor holds me. Your hope sustains beyond surrender. I lay it down.