Monday, November 30, 2009

The Ick Oozes

Continued stretching through parenthood...

Though as parents we are called to train and guide our children, I am convinced that parenting is equally intended for my own transformation. Parenting has this way of revealing the "ick" within me--can I get a witness? I guess you are pressed to the edge of yourself and the tiniest of character detail comes out. And it isn't always pretty.

This morning I had to confess some parenting struggles before the Lord--things in my heart that affected my attitude yesterday. I realized that I had harbored thoughts of criticism towards one of my sons. While at church a friend asked how my kids were doing and I shared how "challenging" my three year old was being for my husband and I--this can also be termed gossip, ouch. Though the conversation ended I continued with a heart of irritation towards him. Every poor choice he made fed my thoughts of criticism and our clashing was sure. Poor little guy.

After his nap I apologized to him--for reasons that were a bit above his understanding--and he graciously met me with forgiveness and a hug. I was humbled. So today I got before the Lord trying to pinpoint the details, and He revealed my heart.

When we start thinking--consciously or subconsciously--that the weaknesses of our kids define their character, we set them up for failure. It is not that our thoughts hold innate power, rather our thoughts reveal who we are; and in such cases with our kids, our thoughts reveal what we believe about them, in turn what they will believe about themselves.

I am a baby on this parenting journey, but I believe this is true throughout the adventure of life: think thoughts that build others up rather than thoughts that tear them down. We cannot do it on our own--it must be through the filling of the Spirit of God--but He does empower.

Father, thank you for your great mercy and forgiveness, patience and love. I praise You.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kept the Faith

Do I love His appearing--
That great and awesome day--
When every foe and every fear
Eternally put away?

Do I love His appearing
The day each mouth declares
His glory, honor, faithfulness--
Each heart lay fully bare?

Do I love His appearing--
When all knees will hit the ground,
Completely overtaken
As His precious name resounds?

Do I love His appearing--
Crowns of righteousness He will give
To all who fought the fight of faith,
In His presence daily lived?

Inspired from my time in 2 Timonthy this morning, specifically 4:1-8.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009


Yesterday a friend of mine sent out an email to a few of us asking for advice regarding the issue of Santa--more specifically how to address it with our kids. So it got me thinking--which these days equals "it got me writing."

How are believers to rightly handle the cultural focus upon jolly Saint Nick this time of year? With young kids, this issue continues to surface. In fact these days it feels like the pull towards materialism is stronger than ever, like I am grasping and straining to keep my kids reigned-in amidst a world selling...everything.

So let's see how the Word can guide. As I started praying about this, I was reminded of Paul's visit to Athens, found in Acts 17. Here is a description of his heart, "his spirit was provoked (or stirred) within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols." (17:16) He was moved because of the love of God within him for all people and his desire that they grasp that love within themselves.

This stirring caused him to reason with those with whom he made contact. (17:17) But here's the thing, when he reasoned he did so with humility and grace. He met people where they were. And from that place he "took their hand" and led them to the foot of the cross where Jesus died for their individual sin.

Paul wasn't intimidated by the culture. He wasn't intimidated by the deception of the day. He actually placed himself in the middle of it and then spoke from a heart that was overflowing with love.

I am not going to say what you should teach your kids specifically about Santa--truthfully I like to teach the "why" so we look back at the historical Saint Nicolas and the spirit of giving he displayed. But regardless of the details, does what we say spur them towards love or legalism? I pray that we as believing parents would strive to teach our kids the heart of the matter: out of love and humility point people to the One who absolutely adores them and gives gifts of eternal value.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Love Casts Out Fear

Uncertainty in this life often evokes fear--fear of the unknown, fear of the outcome, fear of failure. But there is One who knows the beginning from the end--One motivated by love towards His creation.

Joshua in the Old Testament was the guy who led God's people into the Promised Land after the death of Moses. Once he was "instated" the Lord spoke to him--literally spoke to him--and commissioned him for the tasks ahead--tasks that had the potential of challenging his faith. "Be strong and of good courage...Be strong and very courageous...Be strong and of good courage." Three times in a short paragraph God repeated these words, followed by three reasons why.

First, he could be strong and courageous because God was following through with His promise. (Joshua 1:6) Here's the thing. If God says it, then it will happen. Period. He is faithful to His Word. This is a place of great rest when the uncertainties of life arise. Believe.

Second, he could be strong and courageous because God's written word is true and dependable. (Joshua 1:7-8) He challenged Joshua to stay in His word, "meditate in it day and night." In essence He said, fill your heart, mind, and soul with my word because it is bread to your body. When feelings fail, His word stands as truth. Believe.

Third, he could be strong and courageous because the God of the universe was with him wherever he went. (Joshua 1:9) This is peace. To know, as children of God, that our feet will never tread on ground where God is not present and our lives will never be faced with trials that are out of His view. He is with us wherever we go; and not only that, He is able to work and move. Believe.

Uncertainties from a human perspective will come...sometimes daily. But there is a God who is never taken off-guard. And this very God wants to be in relationship with you and me. He has something to say to us this day. His instruction is for our good and His glory. Believe, even amidst seeming uncertainty.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Seduction of Stuff

It's the season of stuff--new stuff, better stuff, fresh stuff, bigger stuff. Stuff. Stuff is everywhere and everyone wants you to buy their stuff. Anticipating stuff. Choosing stuff. Searching for stuff. Wrapping stuff. Stuff.

I like stuff. I like to get stuff. I like to give stuff. But all the stuff can so easily distract. As we step into this season of stuff, I would encourage you, as I strive myself, to stay guarded from the love of stuff. Oh, it's fun, and I am still going to buy stuff, but it seems we have to be diligent not to be carried away in the seduction of stuff.

As I thought about this today I was reminded of a passage in Deuteronomy--so I went there:

"So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant--when you have eaten and are full--then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage." (6:10-12)

Here is the temptation of mankind, we beseech the Lord with everything in us when we are "in bondage"--in the midst of suffering--then once He has freed us and blessed us, and the "slavery" has subsided, we forget. When we have eaten and are full, we as people tend to grow numb. Therefore, keep watch.

Though some have truly suffered through this economic crunch, we as a nation are saturated with stuff--we have eaten...and eaten...and eaten, and are very full. I pray we would not be seduced by all the stuff; that our hearts would be devoted to the God worthy of our praise. So join me, as "Black Friday" approaches, in keeping our eyes set on the only One who can fulfill our every desire.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Love Letter

God is not an egotistical-maniac. He is not out to ruin our fun. He loves. He created you and me with great precision, with great purpose. He designed our souls, and our hearts He knows perfectly. In His complete knowledge of us, He knows exactly what is best for us--what will bring us the highest joy, pervading peace, and floating hope. And one of the primary ways He reveals Himself is through His Word.

I know, I know, some have a real problem with the Bible, saying that it is outdated and unreliable. But scientific research even humbles in the face of evidence; not to mention experientially the magnitude of its power. We simply have to seek His wisdom with our whole heart. We have to approach the Word of God believing He wants to speak. Then He does.

So often I have asked God for a word for me in a specific situation to combat a specific emotion and mindset. And in some miraculous, unexplainable way He leads me to a passage written centuries before yet written specifically for me in that moment of time. He challenges me to stand on His paradoxical ways--like forgiving the seeming unforgivable, loving the absolutely unlovely, and blessing those who ridicule. There I find true life, true freedom.

Do you love His Word? He wrote it to you. He revealed Himself because He loves you. He desires you to believe and trust--even when you cannot see with these physical eyes. He will meet you right where you are--the mountain or the valley. Let Him lavish you with grace and love.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Taming the Tongue

Words hold power. The words of another can lift you until you believe you could truly fly. And yet words can so crush your spirit that you believe the lies of hopelessness. Great power in words.

Throughout the Proverbs there are lessons on the power of the tongue--that in it is life and death. But truly, what comes out of the mouth when pressed reveals the ponderings of the heart. So what are we pondering? Are we meditating on criticisms, lies, and negativity? Or are we meditating on how we can build up another--how we can make our little space a bit lighter?

To speak words that lift means we need hearts that bless. A man's heart is the man. (Proverbs 23:7) So may we guard our hearts, guard our thought lives, that when the time to speak arises our words will lift and grant hope to the hearer.

Maybe you have been hurt by the words of another. Then God's instruction is clear: forgive. Release him or her from your own judgment and pray for their heart's meditation. This will be freedom to your soul. God sees. He is able to lift when others tear down. He is able to whisper words that build. Seek His truth spoken both about you and to you. You are precious and fearfully made. Believe.

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Friday, November 20, 2009


We can get things so twisted at times. I was reading John 18 this morning, specifically when Jesus was led to Pilate's court. Pilate was the governor of Judea, appointed by the Roman emperor. The Jews wanted Jesus killed for "(making) Himself the Son of God" but their law would not allow Him to be crucified at their hands.

So the Jews reached the Praetorium--Pilate's residence-- with Jesus, early in the morning, but "they themselves did not go into the Praetorium lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover." (18:28) Do you see what happened? It would have made them ceremonially unclean, according to their Law, to enter the Roman courts, and they wanted to still be a part of the Passover feast! Do you catch the irony? They were about to murder the Son of God--rejecting Him in their hearts and declaring Him a heretic--yet they wanted to remain "ceremonially pure." Twisted. Truth is, they were already utterly defiled in their denial of Him.

As Jesus explains, "There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man." (Mark 7:15) Our hearts defile us. It isn't what we do externally, it is what we do internally. We can speak the sweetest, kindest, Southern words, but if in our hearts we criticize and tear down then we are missing the point--we stand defiled. We can externally appear "faithful" to our spouse, but if in our hearts we long for another--physically or emotionally--we stand defiled.

God looks at the heart. He sees our inner-most person. He knows our fears and understands our weaknesses...fully. Yet He loves us completely and desires to transform us from the inside-out. So how goes your internal musings? Join me in asking our faithful Father to make us aware of our hearts--bringing every thought captive.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dig the Trench

"Diligence, diligence...," the first words on my mind this morning as my eyes awoke from a brief slumber. Yesterday's post, Distant Fire, did describe the "feeling" I had in my soul. But feelings are not always reliable. So I stood firm on the Psalmist's words and blessed the Lord, all that was within me. And He faithfully met me

The day was not easy--demands were high and my list was long. But I pressed on, pressed through, and continually aimed to set my gaze upon Him in spite of the moments. And He moved. He responded and rewarded. So I awoke today with the word diligence ringing, and dove into His word for a fresh perspective.

I found that the word diligent(ly) is prevalent throughout the pages of the Bible. Which makes perfect sense because we as people can be so very forgetful--so easily distracted. Truthfully, if we are not diligent in the moments of our day to love the Lord and stay bound to Him, then our hearts will find another home--a home that can never fulfill, a home that is empty with falsities.

In Deuteronomy 4:9, Moses says to the people of God, "Take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life." Then centuries later in Hebrews 11:6 another explains, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

Do you hear our part in the seeking? We must be diligent, otherwise we will be carried away by the passing trivialities of this world. That word diligent in the Old Testament implies a digging of a trench or mining of gold. Can you grasp the persistence? It does take work, but the "soul of the diligent shall be made rich." (Proverbs 13:4b)

My prayer, both for myself and for you, is that we would be found diligently seeking Him especially through the messy, difficult, demanding, distracting moments of this day. He will faithfully reward our souls.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Distant Fire

A cloud of distance, unknowingly uninvited, seemed to linger in the air;
Where was the fire? Why was my mind distracted and unaware?

A brief moment I took to take a look at things that do not fill,
And the effects stood strong, like they belonged, in a heart desiring the still

Of God alone--firm, faithful, secure--He remembers we are but clay.
Bless the Lord, o my soul, bless the Lord, He is good, bless the Lord, all within me this day.


If you ever feel a distance from the Lord, then as the psalmist instructs, bless the Lord, all that is within you, bless His holy name! Remember His benefits. Preach truth to your spirit. Set your eyes on the One who gives life to the full. His mercy abounds. (See Psalm 103)

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Does it ever feel like you are wrestling with someone? I'm not talking about rolling around on the floor trying to enforce some hold you saw on TV. I mean emotionally or spiritually wrestling with someone. A word from Paul that I needed reminding of this day:

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:12-13) He then goes on to define this armor of God--worthy of memorization. (vv. 14-18)

Don't get me wrong. It feels like we are wrestling flesh and blood at times. But the truth is that the enemy of God is prowling like a lion, seeking to kill, steal, and destroy what Christ died to give--namely abundant, peaceful, joyful living. May we keep our perspective and remember the true battle.


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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rockstar UPS Guy

I love the UPS man. Seeing that big, brown, boxy van pull down my street, breaks squeaking as it comes to a stop in front of my driveway, then with such precision the one delivering pulls those packages from the back that are addressed to me, steps down from his delivery carriage adorned in brown from head to toe--shirt, shorts, and knee-highs--and brings those awaited boxes right to my doorstep. Rockstarish in my book.

New stuff is just fun--even if it is a bottle of vitamins. But this time of year there is more excitement when my favorite brown van comes down the road. I have started ordering Christmas gifts for my kids, and the tape cannot be ripped into quick enough. I must admit that giving gifts to my kids really tops the chart in present giving. It's just fun. And this made me think of a passage in Matthew.

"What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being sinful, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:9-11)

Do you believe that God is good? And not just good in an vast sort of expanse kind of way, I mean good towards you. If you have accepted the sacrifice of His son, then you are called His child and never will He leave or forsake you. And if you are His child then that means He is working in your life--for your ultimate good and His ultimate glory. We only see a moment in eternity, but He sees from beginning to end. He is good and can be trusted with our every breath.

God is not some "genie in a bottle" to be petitioned for our passing whims. He is God, sovereign over all. As we look into His face and get to know His heart, His will for our individual lives this day will be made known. But it begins with relationship--knowing this Father who lavishes good gifts on His children, and I'm not primarily talking about gifts one can see with the human eye.

So remember, when that brown, boxy van pulls down your road, God has even greater gifts for those who love Him. Press in.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

A Lost Discipline

Sometimes I delve into issues that deserve much more space than a brief blog post. This is one of those issues. This morning I am pondering the lost discipline of fasting.

Before your body goes into convulsion at the thought of not eating your favorite casserole tonight or not drinking that much "needed" cup of coffee in the morning, let's just look at this thing and see what Jesus had to say...briefly.
  1. Jesus assumed that His followers would fast, "when you fast." (see Matthew 6:16-17)
  2. Further, He assumed his followers would fast once He ascended into heaven (see Matthew 9:14-17). In this text He associated fasting with mourning--literally a mourning to be with Him again.
  3. He instructed followers to fast in secret--not seeking the praise of man, rather the reward of God.
  4. It appears that there are some evil strongholds that cannot be cast out except with fasting and prayer. (See Matthew 17:14-21) Why? I don't know. I am still praying for wisdom on this one. I hover around the truth that only He can destroy massive strongholds of the enemy. But like I said, I am still praying for clarity.

Fasting is an outward discipline that is meant to reveal an inward longing. A longing that yearns, "Father, I want You more than any physical pleasure. I want You more than any sinful desire. You alone can break the chains of bondage. You are my Bread. Fill me."

Before I close let me make something very clear. I am not addressing this to bring any load of guilt upon you or add to your list of "to-dos," rather I have been seeking the Lord in my own life and for my own clarification regarding fasting. So really, you are just getting a view of my own dialogue with our Lord.

Feast on Him.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Perfect Parent

A quick word to all of you parents-out-there-on-the-front-line...

I had the car loaded yesterday morning and couldn't meet all of the "needs" being requested, which caused whining. So I closed the door. Remembering I had forgotten something inside, I started up the steps and said to God, "What am I doing wrong?" He said--not audibly, but to my spirit, or I would have freaked--"I am the perfect parent, and you don't obey Me."*

Some things are just not in our control. We are called and instructed to first love the Lord with everything in us, and then allow His love to flow out onto others--beginning with those in our homes. Then, leave the results to Him. He alone can change the heart.

Teach, Train, Discipline, not shame.


*This idea was something that someone had said to me a couple of years ago. He just reminded me of its great truth in this moment.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Swords Down

Let me set the scene with a little creative license--Lord, may I be faithful. It is nighttime. Jesus had spent the evening with His disciples--washing their feet, speaking words of life and love, and praying to the Father on their behalf and ours (see John 13-17) It had been a full night. After He had finished praying He went out with His disciples to a garden called Gethsemane. It is interesting. He took His disciples to this familiar spot, not to hide from what was to come, rather it is as if He went there simply to meet His fate--no resistance, no hiding, no fighting with the will of the Father.

I also imagine that the scene was loud. A company of troops and officers came with lanterns, torches, and weapons, with Judas--a supposed disciple of Christ--leading the way. Jesus knew what was about to take place, but His disciples with Him were probably taken aback with the betrayal. My guess is that John and Peter abruptly arose and stood right beside Jesus in the confrontation.

"Jesus said to them--already knowing the answer--'Whom are you seeking?' They answered Him, 'Jesus of Nazareth'...Now when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground." (see vv. 4-6)

Are you with me? How amazing are these words? His answer, literally, "I AM" refers back to the Old Testament when God told Moses, "(Tell them) I AM has sent me to you." (see Exodus 3:14) He is the "I AM"--beginning and the end, always present, ever-reaching. And when Jesus allowed a moment of His glory to be expressed through the saying of His name, the troops drew back and fell to the ground. He was submitting to the will of the Father for the redemption of mankind, otherwise He could have spoken and legends of angels would have been at His side.

One last comment on this passage. Dear Peter. He is so fiery--hot or cold. In the passion of the moment, he drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. Jesus healed the man (seen in the gospel of Luke) and said to Peter, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?" (v. 11) Complete submission.

This last portion has made me think of my own life with regard to suffering. Though no suffering will ever be as time-changing and monumental as the suffering of Christ on the cross, we still in our own lives will experience suffering. And what is our response? Do we fight against it with every sword we can pull? Or do we put the sword away, look into the face of our loving Father, and trust His ways are ultimately for our good and His glory? His vision is not our own. His ways are infinitely above us. But He can be fully trusted with our lives and the lives of those we love--fully trusted.

He is good when we are happy. He is good when we are sad. He is good when we face struggle. He is good when we are mad. He is good when the reports say "clear." He is good when they are covered in sorrow. He is good no matter the outcome. He is good today and tomorrow.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

They are His

Some shedding is taking place. Truth is, God is working this thing in me as a mom.

I have realized over the recent months that I have a control issue--that's right, I admit it. It makes me feel safe to be in control. But my three kids have succinctly burst that little bubble. It is almost as if I held some imaginary reigns, and they have slowly been slipping from my grip. And its good because I feel like a much kinder mommy as I learn to let go of some things I once believed to be under my "say-so." In fact letting go of the reigns frees my hands to touch their little faces with more tenderness and look more purposefully into their curious eyes. It is a process and I am being changed.

I highly recommend a book I am currently reading entitled Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff VanVonderen. As I have read certain paragraphs the thought arises, "Yes! That is exactly what I have been thinking. That is exactly how I have been struggling as a mom." Though I am not going to go into a full book report, His main area of distinction is between curse-filled relationships versus grace-filled relationships--a must read.

In the end I just want to love my kids--for them to sense my love and the love of their heavenly Father through me. Discipline is an aspect--absolutely--but disciplining like the perfect Father is driven by love. Lord, help us in the moments of this day--the messy, difficult, whiny moments. Parenting is one more arena God uses to transform us--free us--from our self-focused vision into people submitted to His amazing love working in and through us.

"Give us Your vision Lord, for these children--Your children--You have placed in our care."

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hangin' with the Rock

Our little family of five went on our first official hiking trip yesterday. And there are too many "nuggets-o'-fun-and-inspiration" not to document the experience.

The day began as usual--three young children and two adults trying to get dressed, brush teeth, pack lunches, and use the potty with as little conflict as possible. Always a monstrous feat, usually including a few tears--sometimes mine, sometimes theirs. Once we loaded the anxious bunch into the blue bling we were set--off to Hanging Rock state park. Though with the whines ringing from behind us, my husband and I silently asked ourselves, "Is this really worth it?!" But we pressed on.

With google directions in hand we were on our way--our windows filled with colors of orange, red, pink, yellow, and green. Absolutely beautiful. The houses became more scattered as the view of the mountain came into sight. The little road curved around the distant mount as we looked longingly at its peak. Passed the lone donkey and then the goat farm, we reached the perfect picture. "Babe, stop for just a sec so I can get a shot." Gorgeous. As we started again following typically-faithful, satellite directions, our "turn in point 5 miles" was actually a dirt road with barricades and signs reading, "Road closed. Keep out." Hmmmm.

The kids were now starting to be more opinionated, "I'm hungry. When are we going to be there. My tummy hurts." So far, so good. I systematically sprawled over the 80 things we had brought for our half-day trip, and passed out a peace offering of nuts and goldfish. Then I looked at my calm man and asked, "Now where?" He continued driving with his internal GPS; and in less than 20 minutes we had made it to the state park entrance. The cheers from the passengers resounded.

After a quick potty break and a look in the visitor's center, we suited up for the one mile hike to the top of the rock. We were familiar with the ascent--a short span of concrete, followed by an upward rocky section, then a brief flat trail, finished with a steep portion of rock "stairs," until 'ahhhh' one reaches the top. So we were off.

Within 5 minutes--literally--the words a mother dreads to hear broke the quiet rustling of leaves, "Mommy, I need to go p**py." Seriously, are you kidding? We just went to the bathroom! Thankfully I had packed wipes. So we went off trail and my daughter did her business where snakes probably reside, when my son said, "I need to go too." THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN, RIGHT?! After our brief pit stop amidst spider webs, we finally emerged back on the trail where my husband and little guy patiently waited.

We made it about halfway up the first rocky section when the inevitable began, "I am tired." "Me too." As my daughter and I, hand-in-hand, continued ahead, I faintly heard my husband encourage my son from behind, "So what are you going to do when it gets really tough up here? Are you going to quit or keep on going until you reach the top?" I want to quit, I thought. "I am going to keep going," declared my son. "That's my boy," my husband said, "We will keep going until we reach the top. Then we can look down and say 'We did it!'" "We did it!" my son valiantly repeated. And so I was inspired.

When my daughter started to complain I said, "You know, we will only get to the top of this mountain one step at a time. I know you can do it. I am right beside you holding your hand." After a few moments of quiet contemplation she started to sing a song she instantly wrote in her head, "Keep walkin' and never stop. We're gonna get to the Hangin' Rock." And again I was with a song in our step.

We reached the top of the rock at lunchtime--though to the kids' dismay our lunches were in the the bottom of the mountain. Thankfully I had packed a small snack and water to tide us over. After a short rest with an amazing view we decided to head back down. Once the parking lot was finally in view, a tired bunch became invigorated with the thoughts of a cool drink and sandwiches; and they started to run.

Thirty minutes later, after everyone was situated, we began to drive away. With quiet munching as the backdrop, I found myself reflecting: We will face mountains in this life--you can expect it--but the way to the top is with one sure-footed step at a time, all the while having our gaze set on the One guiding our path, the One holding our hand. Our mountains are but a grain of sand in light of His pursuing and powerful love.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Nice and Simple

"OK people, let me break it down for you, nice and simple."

You know there are some funny scenes in the Bible. Today I read some accounts from the gospel of John. And a short phrase in chapter 11 made me laugh. Jesus had heard of His friend, Lazarus', imminent death. Once it was time to make His trek to Bethany, and glorify Himself through a miracle, He informed His disciples, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake Him up."

Then the humorous part, "Then His disciples said, 'Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.' However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.'"

It's like He was saying, "OK people, let me break it down for you, nice and simple: Lazarus is dead. Got it?!" And I probably would have added, "Geeeeez, I have to explain everything over and over and over." Thankfully God--our Shepherd--is so patient with us sheep. But all of this begs the question, is He telling me something, challenging me with something, or convicting me of something? And do I really want to hear His voice on the issue?

He did raise Lazarus from the dead--FROM THE DEAD! Think about that. And He wants to raise us up and give us life in Him as well. His power is ever-reaching, His love unmeasurable, His grace redeeming.

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Friday, November 6, 2009


Who is this ONE--the Bread of life--
Who calms my fear and ends the strife?
In Him alone I find my fill;
No other bread--my hunger stills.

A passing taste won't nearly do
To linger long at every hue.
His piercing touch; His setting free--
"I once was blind but now I see."

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Heart's Desire

God had seemingly been reduced to a long list of rules and regulations--do's and don'ts in efforts to be made righteous. I am speaking of the scenario that Jesus entered when He walked the trails of the promised land. He continually confronted the religious elite in their vain pursuits of holiness--external musings that could not transform the heart. And He called them hypocrites--outwardly washed while internally full of extortion and deceit (see Matthew 23).

But God was and is so much more. Jesus said, over and over, abide in my word and you will be blessed. So what was His word? What is the heart of God? His heart is set on freeing the captive and healing the broken. His heart rejoices in truth and desires intimacy with His creation. His heart is driven by love.

If we truly want freedom--freedom from entanglement and burdens light--then His instruction is clear: "Lay everything else aside, everything that you seek to fulfill those deep longings, and come to Me. Look at Me. Glory in Me. Trust in Me. Rest in Me. And I will set you free."

To be quite honest some days I don't feel very free. In fact I feel bound to the same, old, tired places of struggle. But those are the exact moments that God wants to do heart transformation as we bring those feelings, those struggles, those questions, to Him. As we honestly come and lay those things down, He can then reveal His great power to lift, break, strengthen, and redeem. But we have the choice.

No matter the moments this day may bring, I pray that we cast all of them--the good, bad, and ugly--at His feet, allowing Him to transform us and reflect Himself through us to those our lives will touch. He is that good.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cats and Dogs

I don't think there could be a better depiction of the often scenario in our home. This is a picture of my kids on Halloween. My eldest is a black cat. My middle son is a Dalmatian dog. And the baby of the family...well...a knight. And there couldn't be a better portrayal.

Truthfully, my son and daughter are polar opposites. She is a rule-abider. He prefers anarchy. She is gentle in her touch. He could "tear up an anvil," according to my mom. He knows exactly how to push her ever-sensitive buttons. All of this making for continual bickering between the two. Hence the reason for the baby wearing protective gear.

Yet there are those glimpses--like yesterday. As I spent a moment scraping gum from car seats and sucking up snacks from last month in my blue bling, the two of them "pretended" to be best friends. I had to stop and take in the sweetness. "Let's hold hands," said the boy. "OK," said the girl, "we are best friends." "Yeah." I didn't want to breath. I didn't want it to drift away with the impending nightly routine.

Then I thought of me before God. You know, I am sure He looks upon His children with such delight when we love someone who is difficult to love. When we set aside personality struggles and simply hold hands with those where arguing comes more naturally. When we rise above those fleshly irritations and reflect His heart for unity among His own. I am sure He smiles.

Oh, that we would be His children bound by love.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Vitamin Victor

So here is my issue. I have a couple of minor physical ailments that can most likely be cured simply by faithfully taking certain supplements. I have purchased the supplements--they reside in my cabinets--yet, I don't take them. I think about them. At times I consider going into the kitchen with one goal. But they rarely make it into my body. So why the breakdown? Why do I not follow through to healing?

This has caused me to think of our periodic spiritual dilemma. The cure to peace, joy, and rest has been presented--repent of sin and trust in the one true God--yet we don't partake of His glorious feast. The answer to our broken spirit and faint heart resides in choosing obedient submission to the will of God, yet we run and try to hide.

Thankfully God is infinitely more powerful than supplements. He pursues His own. He heals and loves. He lavishes us with mercy. He even disciplines His children that we would come back into His realm of safety. We simply have to take that small step of faith towards His fatherly arms.

"I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him. I will be like the dew to Israel; He shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon. His branches shall spread; his beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon. Those who dwell under His shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like a vine. There scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon." Hosea 14:4-7

The God of the universe loves you and me with infinite perfection. And His ways and plans for us are for our good. How deceptive our hearts can often be. Turn to Him and He promises restoration.

Now I think its time I go take my supplements.

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