Quiet Faithfulness

I wrote this not long before the world “shut down” last year, but as the man in this post faced a difficult diagnosis. I don’t know why I never posted and regret it now, knowing that these two never got to read of the impact they have had on my life. The Lord called this man home just a few weeks ago; his bride of many decades remains behind for now but not in good health. I share this now to honor them still but also to honor other brothers and sisters in Christ who have also been quiet, faithful examples to us, extending the hand of friendship, pointing us to the Savior, in many ways mentoring us through those relationships that will last beyond this life. I post it as well to remind us all that, this side of heaven, we may never know the lives we impact, but we are called to live faithfully in the Lord and let Him use us as He sees fit…even if we never see what He has done.

Quiet and unassuming, they come in and, on most occasions, find their way to the seats in front of us.

Other times we share a meal, though not so often anymore.

The two don’t realize the impact they have had and are having on our lives…and others.

We watch. 

We observe.

We feel loved.

We are loved.

They aren’t flashy. 

They aren’t loud.

They ARE faithful.

To the world, it is a quiet couple who has lived many years; to us, they are two dear ones, steadfast in the love of Christ for themselves and living out that same love for one another and those in their sphere.

To the world, the calendar speaks of a number; to us, the numbers remind us that a covenant is binding and beautiful – it is a gift that keeps the two one when circumstances and life might otherwise threaten to undo.  Sometimes it requires a choice; many times it demands that we die to self, that we give when we would rather get, that we turn away from that which would wound the other, that we forgive amid hurt.

To the world, they are a statistic from another time; to us, their faithfulness is a witness to the truth that our unchanging God is still on His throne, faithful and true, righteous and just, loving and merciful in the midst of this ever-changing world; and that He is calling His children to be and do the same. It is a reminder that Gid Himself intends and that His Word is intended to shape our choices, heal our hurts, and make us steadfast not just in a moment but across time.

To the world, they are just faces; to us, they are family, though not by blood. They are greatly loved though they may never know how much. They display the Gospel with their lives and their words, living examples of grace and mercy; tender care for one another and those they encounter.

To the world, their bodies may be failing; to us, they convey strength because they stand in the power of God.  They live, love, worship, and serve regardless of their physical stamina.  They stand when it is physically hard to do so because they honor Him who loved them first and gave up His life for them, as He does for all who turn from themselves and call on His Name, in spirit and truth, as Savior and Lord.

To us, they are a gift and, though it has been a gift given later in both our lives, we will never be the same and we thank God for these two saints who stand at the threshold of eternity and who do so with trust even in trepidation, hope in the faithfulness of our God even in the unknown.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because (of your age); but be an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (I Timothy 4:12)

Yes, this was written to Timothy and, yes, it was written because of his youth. But, in this culture that prizes youth and mocks, even disdains, old age, I don’t think I am off base in knowing God would equally say the same to His older saints even as He spoke through Solomon,

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31)

How thankful I am for these two God has put in our lives; examples in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. 

May we be as faithful witnesses to the generations behind us, mutually encouraging and challenging one another in the Truth of God and not swayed by the opinions of man.

Still With Us Amidst the Thorns

The child’s toy was broken…and there were tears.

The bone was fractured, ending an athletic moment…and there were tears.

The car careened off the road and was demolished…and there were tears.

The rains came, the flood waters rose, and all that was “life as they knew it” was underwater until it was not…and there were tears.

The relationship was broken, trust shattered, hope tenuous…and there were tears.

The medical tests revealed a broken body…and there were tears.

The baby longed for has not come to be…and there were tears.

In this fallen world, there are thorns. We are incapable of “fixing” many things we would like to make new or return and “re-do.”

It reminds us that we are but dust. That is said not with a sigh of resignation; rather, as a reminder that, while we think we can control our lives and destinies, doing our own thing again and again; or while we think we have been “good” enough to not experience pain, we are living between the now and the not yet.

We are created in the image of God; yes, we are created and are not the Creator.

Tears fall and life is often hard.

But we can lean even harder on the One who is able and, when our strength is such that we can hardly even lean in, He will carry us.

“(The Lord God) tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.” (Isaiah 40:11)

It may be an “It is what it is” situation, but our response can, by God’s grace, be an “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) reply.

The pain may be fully evident.

The brokenness may be seen or simply known.

The “what is to come” may be unknown.

But we can hold to the One who sees, who knows, and who will make known in His time.

And, we can say with Sarah, “You are the God who sees me…” (Genesis 16:13), my El Roi!

For the broken body, He may heal in the present or He may have a purpose we either can’t see or must wait to see; but always He is seeking to draw those hurting into His presence and provide a clearer view, not necessarily of the circumstances, but of El Shaddai, God Almighty, our Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals both the body and the soul though sometimes not fully until eternity; always He is our Shalom, our peace.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

For the broken relationship, it is His purpose that light shine into the dark places not to destroy but to reveal His path of redemption, to bring repentance and restoration, for broken trust to be reestablished and a deeper oneness to be formed; or He may reveal to protect one from a walk down a harder path.

But, always, He will draw those involved deeper into Himself – for His child a return to the truth or, for the unredeemed, the offer of new life.

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17)

“And now I rejoice, not because you were made sorrowful (or were grieved), but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you felt the sorrow that God had intended, and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

And, in the midst of the thorns, David reminds us to tell ourselves of what is true about us and what is true about our God:

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust…But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him…” Psalm 103:13-14,17

That’s not a devastating thing; it is a tender thing for He knows our frame. He knows all there is to know about us, more than we even know ourselves and He is mighty to save and bring in the new.

He knows our weaknesses, but He doesn’t leave us to make them our identity or claim them as the burden we must bear or the sin we get to coddle, knowing that to do so destroys us and others.

He knows our frailties and He weeps with us even as He comforts us. He is not blind to our sorrows; no, He has “…kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (Psalm 56:8)

So, we can say with David, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I trust, I will not be afraid.” (Psalm 56:3-4)

He knows the wounds we have from others and He gives us the ability to forgive, even if need be, minute to minute, one day at a time.

He knows when our worlds have turned upside down and will provide for His children; He may extend our bounty following a material loss or give us just what we need; either way, it is for us to see His provision and give Him praise as our God Who provides, our Jehovah-jireh!

All this life is intended to give Him praise!

The joy and the sorrow.

The healthy and the broken body.

The steady and the wounded relationship.

The abundance and the lack of material wealth and goods.

All come from the hand of the one true God, who is making all things new!

“Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; His greatness is unsearchable.

The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

My mouth will declare the praise of the LORD; let every creature bless His holy name forever and ever.”

Psalm 145:3, 18, 21

Weeping with those who weep yet resting in Him amidst the thorns,






Snow Day…All Things New Again!

I went to bed with little expectation of seeing much of the “white stuff” when I woke up the next morning, a dusting perhaps.

God gave me a stunning surprise – the view out my window in the pre-sunrise moments looked promising. But when the morning began to shed its light on my yard and neighborhood, what I saw was total beauty!

Now for those of you for whom snow is a chore or to whom a foot or more is a daily or even a seasonal occurrence, you would laugh at what ended up being an inch and a half to two; but for those of us who rarely see snow in a winter, I was giddy for I am always in wonder of its beauty. A smile instantly comes to my face as the first snowflake falls, increasing into many more.

And yes, I love a good snowball fight, a little snow cream, and my feeble attempts at making a snowman. But so many other things also flooded my mind yesterday as I saw what had transformed my yard over night and then as more blew in, heavy yet softly, quietly spreading a comforting layer on our barren ground.

Winter had taken its toll on our land and the day before yesterday it was looking rather bleak, brown and muddy with a patch of bright green where we have a garden of lettuce. But as I stood and watched the transformation, I was struck by the newness, the fresh reality that filled my sight.

It was the same piece of land – nothing had been done except that with which our awesome God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, had chosen to delight us. He had gloriously crafted each snowflake and let them blow over the cold, grey day after ten days straight of frigid temps that threatened to tamp down the mood of many I came across…including my own.

It was His hand that created the freshness and led to a lifting of the heart! Though it was short lived, the moment was not lost on me, and it did much to renew our spirits. It was temporary joy that brought with it eternal perspective.

At times, we can view our lives through the same lens. Either we get caught up in the daily-ness of it all and become tyrannized by the urgent so that we miss and/or forget the truly important. Or we grow weary because of circumstances – our own choices, that of others, or any number of “hard things” that come with living in a fallen world. Our spirits can be “tamped down” by those “frigid” circumstances that sometimes make us feel immobile.

But God is not unaware.

Our fears can weigh us down as we focus on the “what ifs” instead of looking to and embracing the God who is I AM and who holds all the “what ifs” in His hands; He Who knows the final outcome has promised to never leave or forsake His own. We can begin to see life in the greys instead of the rich hues hidden beneath the mundane, the sorrow, or the fear.

Throughout the Bible, God reminds us that He has made and is in the process of making all things new! We can look on situations in our lives and in the world and culture around us and grow discouraged, even fearful of the dismal prospects at times.

As we look through a glass darkly, we often miss the wonder of Revelation 21:5-6: “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’  He also said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” HE is faithful and true!

It is a promise; it is a fact! He who is able to “wash me (so that) I am whiter than snow!” (Psalm 51:7) is able to bring a fresh perspective, a richer view of circumstances, yes; but, He is also in the process of transforming me more and more into the likeness of His Son and of doing astounding things we cannot see. 

Greater yet, as He transforms me – His redeemed child – He is increasingly showing me more of Himself, creating in me a greater wonder and awe of the God who spoke all things into being and who continues to sovereignly order each aspect of His creation for His glory.

Just as the snow fell quiet in the night and transformed my little piece of the world into a place of wonder that lasted for less than a day, our God is actively working to do the remarkable but with an eternal exclamation point!

Habakkuk 1:5 says, “Look at the nations and watch–and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

Though this was written hundreds of years ago to a different people, God has not changed and He is still powerfully and lovingly at work in a world crawling with terrible situations! We don’t have to doubt that or wring our hands in fear.

We work, yes. We act, indeed. We do all that He calls us to do because He equips us to do so, and then we rest in Him and in the plan He is unfolding regardless of what we see before our eyes.  We do not waver because He “has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)  

We trust Him, we fear Him, and we wait in expectation! (Psalm 5:3)

Our winter yard is again brown and muddy for the sun returned and quickly melted away the snow. But my heart holds to the visual picture of truth that God gave me yesterday in the midst of our brief winter precipitation that will be indelibly marked upon my heart and that will be brought to mind as I view the pictures again and again.

That truth is more significant and far more eternal than a fleeting snowfall – that the everlasting God of the universe has, through the work of Jesus Christ, made me “whiter than snow” through the forgiveness of my sin and is continuing to change me for His glory; that this same God is the Lord over all aspects of my life as well as that of nations and rulers.

I am given occasions every day for fresh beginnings and a greater awareness of His love and power to make all things new! 

Praying for eyes to see those opportunities and a heart to see and seek Him and what He is up to in my corner of the world and beyond!

(Although this blog was originally written and posted in 2013, just a couple of days ago we experienced the same thing; the amount of snow was similar and the photos look very much the same.  It is also true that, though the circumstances of these days in which we live are, in many ways, harder, the truths espoused in this blog post remain the same because God Himself remains the same, His character and the Truth found in His Word!)

DSC_0491 8 x 10


“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (I Timothy 1:17)

“To HIM be dominion forever and ever!” (I Peter 5:11)

Circumstances may cause us to tremble, but in Christ we can stand, unshakable.

God is calling His children to humbly submit to Him and to stand faithful in whatever circumstances we find ourselves and whatever is happening in the world around us.

He is the One who equips us to do so. We can trust that He walks with us through fire and draws and refines His own.

We can humbly ask Him for wisdom and discernment and the ability to trust Him and live out His will in spite of whatever we “see.”

If you are not a child of God, trusting in the work of Christ to redeem and transform you, surrendered to the King of Kings, “call to Him (humbly and in faith and repentance) and He will answer you and tell you wonderful things that you did not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3) Today is the day you can know Him, not just know about Him.

Even if the world “shakes,” God will not be shaken, He reigns and is steadfast.

Mercy. It is what we receive when we come to Christ. But it is also what we are to pray for in the midst of judgement and discipline.

Regardless of any “outcomes” – politically, medically, relationally – God is at work, and He is calling us to a faithful rest and walk in Him.

We can weep yet still trust.

We can wrestle faithfully yet still rest.

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Colossians 1:9-12

We can have eyes to see and ears to hear?

On this day and the days ahead, let us walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and so give Him the glory, show the way to the living hope to those without, and increase our joy and steadfastness.

Joy in The Hope

Joy comes not from the “stuff” of Christmas but from the hope of Christmas!

I absolutely love the music, the lights, the tree, the many traditions we have established as a family, the giving of gifts, the wonder of children, and so much more. All that is part of it.

But, in the end, it all points me to a bigger reality – one that will not fade or wither or be boxed up after the new year! Those are but fainting reminders of the unfading grace that came down to bridge the gap betwen God and man!

The reality of Christmas is found in the person of Christmas – Jesus Christ – whose presence and relationship restores and refreshes rather than wears us down. And, when personally received, that Reality transforms us and gives us “Christmas” all year long and for eternity.

When we have a relationship with the Person of Christmas, December 25 isn’t a one time event but a continuing and ever increasing celebration of the daily joy that is not bound by a day or by circumstances in life that sometimes make us restless and weary.

Expectation is bound up in the heart at Christmas because expectation is our soul’s longing for that which truly satisfies and makes us truly “merry and bright!”

So I will continue to sing the songs, smile at the lights, and laugh at the wonder.

May it increasingly open my eyes to the truest of wonders, our Savior who is Christ the Lord!

In HIS Joy and Delight!


In the Still of the Night

In the still of the night…


But not alone.


But not deafening.

In the still of that night…

A baby’s cry

Shattered the silence,

Set rescue in motion,

Continued the Father’s plan,

Placed redemption and reconciliation in reach –

God and man.

A thrill of hope

That separation would be no more

That the humble would see their need

That the need would be met in only one,

This One –


The shepherds ran

The wise men sought Him

Our greatest joy is to do the same.

Our greatest hope is to see Him, believe Him, embrace Him.

Our greatest need is to love Him and love Him more.

And, in the silence, the quiet


Be still

And know that He is God.

In the Grip of Hope

The cold winds blow.

The leaves fall.

The sky is grey.

The rain seems to penetrate the soul.

               But the weary world rejoices!

The wounded feel the chill.

The brokenhearted recognize the fall.

The sorrowful sigh.

The fearful gasp at the unknown.

               But the thrill of hope is in the air!

Hope for the wounded and brokenhearted.

Hope in the darkness and sighs.

Hope in the unknown and threatening fear.

Hope in a world that seeks to discourage and give false assurances.

               But THIS hope has a foundation!

Hope not in systems and fine sounding philosophies.

Hope not in men or women.

Hope not in a position, a desire, a fulfillment.

Hope not in ourselves.

               But hope in the One.

Sure, unshakeable hope. 

Undeniable, strengthening hope.

Living, eternal hope.

Rejoicing, peace-filling hope.

               Hope in the midst of the hard.

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices!”

Jesus has come!

In real time, He came to a weary world

To meet our greatest need – our separation from God the Father

               Hope broke the chains, hope still breaks the chains.

“He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger.

Behold your King… *

He covers us in our fear and carries us in our weariness

“Fall on your knees,” bend them…before the Savior, before the Sovereign God, before the “God of all comforts.” **

Hope lives, hope reigns in the hearts of those who set it intentionally on the saving and transforming grace of God.

Hope sustains the one who has said, “I am a sinner in need of the Savior, and I set my hope fully in the finished work of Christ on the cross and in His resurrection.”

Hope establishes the one who lays down their life, their will, their control to the God who is Sovereign LORD and who is worthy of our praise, who is “an anchor for the soul, firm, and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)

The weary world can rejoice because the thrill of hope is a reality!

Settle your heart in the grip of hope.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade, kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold which perishes even though refined by fire – may be provide genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls!  (I Peter 1:3-9)


* “O Holy Night”  Lyrics by Adolphe Adam

**  II Corinthians 1:3-5

Photographs and Memories

Photographs and memories.

It is an old song…but it is also a present reality.

I went to one of my childhood homes, my dad’s, for the last time several weeks ago…for the last time; cleaning out, gathering bits and snatches of things that evoked emotions of laughter and tears – papers, books, objects, pictures.

Photographs and memories.

This past weekend, I went to my mom’s home and did the same…for the last time; pulling out, sifting through, gasping at “treasures” long forgotten but which evoked many reminiscences. As I packed up and began to leave, I kept going back for “one last” look or item that meant something to me if to no one else.

Photographs and memories.

They take me back.

I am somewhat of the family “historian,” the keeper of the memories – the one who didn’t want to leave anything that was special to my mom or dad behind…even if it was a “silly little thing.” And, if I couldn’t get someone else to take it home, I did.

These “last times” have been bittersweet. The stories my siblings and I have shared, the “finds” we uncovered, the memories relived, the dividing up of one home to go to the many – just as each individual moved out from the larger family to begin new families so many years ago. We are extensions of our dad’s and mom’s stories and their story and, so, just as physical pieces of their lives are reminders of those stories, so we remember, and we live out our own lives, in many ways shaped by their own.

I admit, tears have fallen as I remembered both joy and sorrow, times of laughter and tears, and driving away from each one brought a finality that was, in the moment, a little unsettling. Even now, as I write this, the reality brings some tears welling up in my eyes.

But not without hope.

It sent me right where I needed to go…to my Father God’s throne of grace, straight back to the heart of the One who created me, knows me, and comforts as none other.

The “things” I brought back are history and part of my story, but I don’t “need” them to remember. I enjoy them, and I enjoy sharing the stories with my family…but I don’t “need” them to keep the memories alive.

Every memory is not sweet.

Every memory does not bring a smile.

Every object does not bring a good remembrance.

But every bit of my story, joy and sadness, is sifted through my Father’s hands, my Savior’s grace. And that grace, that careful sifting for His glory and my good is sweet, does bring a smile, is a good reminder of His faithfulness to those who are His, who are “called according to HIS purpose…to be confirmed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:28)

We can remember the sweetness with delight, and we can see how God has redeemed the harder moments.

We can smile at the tender times and the precious comforts. And, because we have been saved by faith in the mercy and grace of God and the fact that, for those who have been redeemed, He makes all things new, we can be thankful for the lessons learned and the redemptive way He has taken the hard places and used them to grow us; the way He has given us opportunities to point to Him, to use our stories to tell people about His forgiveness, redemption, and transformation of our souls and lives as we interact with others.

Life is messy because we live in a fallen world with fallen people…and each of us is one of them.

But THAT is the Gospel – we are, each one, sinners – rebels against the Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth, and sovereign over all, wanting to do things our own way.

We are born and live out our lives – sometimes well and sometimes failing.

Our days are numbered and, as one has said, “100% of us will live, 100% of us will die, and 100% of us will stand before Him one day and spend eternity in heaven or hell. It is a reality which we all face.”

But, in real time and history, Jesus died on the cross to take the penalty for our sins, and He was resurrected from the dead defeating the power of death.

We don’t have to “do” anything but accept, by faith, that work on our behalf. And God Himself gives the faith to do that. We just have to say, “I believe, and I trust the work You did on the cross; I am Yours, Lord!” And, out of that love and thankfulness and, by the power of that same grace, learn to give up our desires, and let Him replace them with His desires, which are so much more satisfying; to joyfully say, “I am Yours, Lord; change me, use me, grow me!”

Because of His great mercy and the power of the Holy Spirit, we “once were” and are now being made more and more into the likeness of His Son, transformed and being transformed! As we submit to Him (a word towards which our culture turns a haughty shoulder), He changes what is not in line with His will in us, defeats the enemy of our soul’s attempt to accuse us, redeems the hard places, helps us forgive others as He has forgiven us so that we do not allow the emptiness of bitterness to rob us of the joy of moving forward and bringing Him glory!

We can remember the good and the bad, the sweetness and the sorrow with a peace that makes no sense to the world, because He is more than able to “work all things for the good to those who LOVE God, to those CALLED according to His purpose.” (again, Romans 8:28)

He redeems our stories.

He rescues and transforms us.

He makes all things new for our good and His glory.

Our photographs and memories may bring great delight or deep sadness. They may make us laugh uncontrollably or send tears streaming down our faces.

Some we need to remember and simply thank our Father for the sweetness of the memory.

Some we need to confront and take to the cross of Christ, maybe with another…then leave behind.

Some we need to allow God to use to encourage, challenge, or exhort another.

Each memory, a part of our story, and, in the Father’s hands, they have been and are being used.

Our response must always be to thank Him – for His grace, for His mercy, for His redemption.

I drove away from each house – praying for the next families that will occupy the places I once called home.  I’m asking the Lord to fill them with the love and grace I received but also that each person will know the love and grace of Christ.   

And, as I did, I thanked my Savior for making me His own, for giving me the parents He gave me, as one friend said, “flawed (like each of us) and fabulous,” for blessing me with the siblings I have with each other, for the relationships and friendships, some that were mine for a moment in time and others forged over a lifetime – each of which have shaped me, for the memories of joy and laughter not only in the past but the ones created over these weeks of the “clean out” process, and for growing that little girl into a woman whose life is hidden in Christ and whose story He is still writing.

Photographs and memories…may they always remind me of His goodness and grace.

I See You

I walk the aisles of the grocery store, the Cosco, the Walmart.

I see masked faces.

But I long to see behind the mask.

I see eyes.

Intentionally, I try to look into the eyes and convey, as much as I can, a smile, a reprieve in the midst of the unknown.

I seek to say with my eyes, “I care…and I would stop and hear your story if you wanted to tell it.”

Sometimes I see weariness.

Sometimes I see fear.

Sometimes I see sadness.

Sometimes I see relief that I haven’t looked away…and their eyes smile too.

Rarely, do I see anger…but because of the love of Christ, I meet that anger with a smile as well and hope to plant a seed that the Lord might water in another way.

I long for those who I pass to know that I see beyond the mask, that I “see” them, that they matter.

I look into the eyes of the clerks and ask how they are doing…really. I want them to know there is someone who will not pass them by because “that’s their job” or who is not too afraid to engage them in a conversation if they want one.

And, as I pass the shoppers and engage the clerks, I’m asking the Lord to remind me in that moment to pray for them.

He knows their names, and He knows their stories…behind the masks.

Behind the fearful, joyful, relief-filled, or angry eyes are lives being lived in the present.

Behind the eyes are souls.

They are people living in light of eternity, moving toward one life to come or another.

And that matters.

Yes, life here and now matters. It is a whisper sometimes lived as a roar, but it will only last a certain number of days here…and then, forever.

And that matters.

I see you…but even better God sees you, and He knows your name.

This is the God before whom each will stand one day.

It is this God who is worthy!

It is this God who spoke the world into existence and formed man and woman…all for His glory.

It is this God who sent His Son to reconcile man to Himself, He who is holy, holy, holy, and only by His Son can we be redeemed children of God.

It is this God who we can know and by whom we can be known.

It is this God with whom we can walk these beautiful as well as hard days with sure step and before whom we can bow now with our lives and in eternity…and find great joy in that!

It is this God who sees, who most certainly sees behind the mask, behind the eyes, and into the very heart of each man and woman.

It is this God before whom we can lay bare all that is in our past and present that is far from Him, ask His forgiveness, then leave it at the cross as we move on to a life and an eternity that is rooted in the finished work of Jesus as He rose from the grave! It is finished for those who give their lives to Him!

It is this God to whom we may humbly lay down our lives and find life that is truly life!

It is this God who says, “I see you…and you are dearly loved!”

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  I Corinthians 13:12

Taking That Next Step

“Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord?
Why did he use a kiss to show them?
That’s not what a kiss is for.

 Only a friend can betray a friend 
A stranger has nothing to gain.
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain”   (Michael Card)  

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself…” Philippians 2:5-7

A word is spoken, a deed is done, a spark is lit, and a fire rages.  The wounds of another, especially a friend, can burn deeply and leave a pit so vast that it takes our very breath away.

We weep and others weep with us.  We cry out, “why?” with few good answers; the silence is deafening.

It is at those times that we, who have been redeemed by the Savior, have to hang on to and live out the Truth on which we stand.

It is not always comfortable to position ourselves there because everything in us wants to lash out and change the circumstances.  We want to establish that we are right, and we want others to come alongside and battle with us.

Having others encourage us is right and good.  Paul tells us in Romans 12:15 to “weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn” and certainly broken relationships cause us to weep for ourselves, and those who love us will share our pain. But we must take care that it doesn’t become a rehashing of grievances that leads to bitterness infecting many. (Hebrews 12:15)

To look at a situation and see the insanity and hurtfulness of it is sometimes reality.

To lovingly confront sin in a brother or sister for the specific purpose of restoring them is commanded and shows deep affection.

To face that one who has injured us and ask for answers or to share the pain we have experienced at their hand, with redemption and restoration being the end goal, is part of growing relationships, and it is good.

But when the conversation does not bring answers or does not end in the way we would like, or when their response is less than agreeable, we have a choice.

We can certainly “blame” another for our hurt, our wounds, and our attitude because they have truly done something hurtful.  But is that our “call?”  Will it bring peace and comfort to our souls and healing to the relationship?

To give up our pain is not to deny another’s sin or hurtful actions nor to make light of them; neither is it to absolve the other from any guilt in their decisions.

Rather, it is to go beyond what we “feel” and see and be obedient to and imitate our Savior, who humbly gave up His rights and forgave those who rejected Him and ultimately asked the Father to forgive those who crucified Him.

His Word is clear, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18) and “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8)

The other person may need correction and, depending on the severity of the action, consequences, even punishment. But apart from that aspect of it, we must focus on our attitude towards them and our response.

We can choose, in the words of a respected mentor, “to grow bitter or better,” to be submissive to God’s command to us and ultimately “strengthen feeble arms and weak knees” * giving up our right to hurt the one who has hurt us rather than foster the pain and bitterness that will widen the rift between us, bleed out to others, and ultimately create a hardness in us.

That is forgiveness; that is faithfulness over our feelings.

Hanging on to injuries of the heart is a choice to not give up “childish ways” (I Corinthians 13:11) which will wound us more deeply and for a greater length of time than the hurt caused by our brother or sister.

Additionally, it can spread like gangrene and create a bitter root that will be harder to dig out in our own lives and may defile others (Hebrews 12:15).

What does it mean to “defile something?”  To corrupt or ruin something.  How it must grieve our Father’s heart for brothers and sisters in Christ to have broken relationships, corrupted and sometimes ruined, because of our choice to nurture pain.

We can say, “It’s their fault that I am hurt,”and it may well be.  But while the original issue may begin with another’s actions, we have a decision to let that grow into massive emotional destruction that has the potential to leave a barren wasteland or to put out the fire early and allow the process of healing and reconstruction to begin.

What we see and what we “feel” can often deceive. We can hang on to wounds from people, especially those we love, and allow them to fester or see them in light of truth and give them up to God to heal and use them for His glory and our greatest good.

We are responsible for our actions and attitudes not another’s response to them; so, when we stand and act on His Word that is true and don’t waiver, we will come out with a greater view of and deeper love for our Savior, a peace that comes from obedience, and an opportunity to point others to Him even if the circumstances don’t change.

In the words of an old friend, “When injured, don’t try to harm; instead, try to heal. Start with rejoicing…Seek reconciliation rather than revenge.”

Yes, some wounds have lasting physical and emotional scars; some wounds will not allow for reconciliation and will often need intervention.  Even there, God walks with and even carries us, and He alone is able to give us the courage and the will to let go, leaving the prison of the pain behind even if forgetfulness is not an option.  Only He is able to give us eyes to see His hand restoring us even if with painful steps and slow.

*”Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and your weak knees.  Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”  Hebrews 12:12-13

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 

“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:12-14

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  I Corinthians 13:11-12


Rock Solid Truth that Matters…


We feel it, experience it, and see it all around us.

We live in a culture that does not delight in truth…and it can subtly shape followers of Christ to do the same.

Everyone wants others to be truthful with them (until they don’t), yet we listen to the whisper of the enemy of our souls that says, “Wouldn’t it be better not to tell the whole truth? Wouldn’t it be better to make someone believe something that is not fully accurate? What is the point in even bringing ‘this’ up?”

“Everyone deceives his neighbor and does not speak the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity.” (Jeremiah 9:5) We convince ourselves there is a good reason for covering the truth because “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked; who can cure it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

And, every time we entertain that thought, even for just a moment, we have opened the door to deceiving and being deceived.

“Speak the truth in love…”

It’s not a suggestion. It’s a command because it reflects the very character of God – He is Faithful and True.

God does not lie. He does not use strategically crafted words to speak to His people and make them assume something that is not factual. What He says, He will do. What He speaks, we can trust.

God is love, and love speaks the truth.

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to (one another)…and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:25, 27)

We put ourselves in situations we shouldn’t have…so we cover.

We want to maintain a reputation…so we craft an explanation.

We want to win a debate…so we skew the facts.

We want to keep from hurting another’s feelings…so we keep what should be in the open, so it can be healed, in the dark.

We want to avoid conflict…so we keep silent.

We want to avoid a material loss…so we change the facts ever so slightly.

We want personal, political, or economic gain…so we frame our words to be “strategic” so they cover the lie with the shake of a lie!

And what is at the center of each of these is self-love and self-preservation.

But God never honors deceit.

God never honors carefully crafted explanations to cover our tracks.

God never honors even a well-formed argument that is based on a lie.

God never honors secrets kept in the dark from those who are closest to us and with whom we should be fully transparent.

God never honors silence when there should be either loving confrontation or repentance. The conflict isn’t avoided; it is delayed, and the consequences to the relationships are greater when the postponement is extended…because often, it simply never happens.

God never honors changing facts to avoid penalties.

God never honors anything done out of self-love or self-preservation.

The reality is, if we do get away with the direct lie, the hidden secret, or the words or actions intended to deceive, because of His great love for us and for Truth, the Lord never lets it stay hidden; and all the things we intended to keep from being known or from happening come full circle and we often experience a more negative outcome. All the things we kept from another to assuage their feelings cause them greater hurt and more consequences in the end.

Truth sometimes comes with a cost, but what is gained is far greater.

Our walk with the Lord is not hindered; rather, it is strengthened as we live out the very character of God – Truth and Love – and submit to what is sometimes hard.

Our integrity in showing humility creates trust that might otherwise have been fully destroyed.

Our ability to love well is increased. Love “…rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:6, 7)

And because of love…

Truth protects.

Truth increases trust.

Truth intensifies hope.

Truth encourages perseverance.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)

If we want to grow in Christ, to deepen and strengthen relationships with one another rather than weakening them, to continue to be used as an instrument for the Kingdom of God, we will put aside our fears and self-love, and “speak truth to one another”…with the greatest of tender love.

And, when another speaks truth to us that isn’t comfortable for whatever reason, we must humbly receive it, talk freely about it, then take it to the cross together.

“These are the things you must do: Speak truth to one another…” (Zechariah 8:16)

In the Morning…


Before the day got away from me and my list of tasks took my attention, I stole away outside and was overwhelmed by the majesty of God in His creation!  I found myself humming, then singing these songs.

“In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus!”

“This is my Father’s world

The birds their carols raise.

The morning light, the lily white

Declare their Maker’s praise!”

A knowing smile crept onto my face…He had called me away, even as the temptation to be “squirreled” had to be intentionally ignored.

The sound of the various types of birds singing was as a symphony, literally more variety than I could count.

The air was cool, the sun was bright, the breeze so gentle yet so refreshing.

The leaves in the trees rustled, the lake glistened.

The tomatoes in our small garden peeked through the leaves of the vine, plump and plentiful, soon to be ripe.

“In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation!” (Psalm 5:3)

Among His creatures awakening in the morning light, there was not a hint of worry over a virus, personal or national economies being rocked, divisions and unrest among so many, or who would lead a nation.

Creation was singing its Maker’s praise, affirming, as we ought, that “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together!” (Colossians 1:17)

It was a time to “be still and know” that He is God (Psalm 46:10); to be steadied by His Word, reminded by His Spirit, settled in my hope!

Our God is creative, and He is ever at work.

He spoke the world into existence, and it is sustained by Him.

He is not surprised by anything that happens, and He longs for His children to rest and, in full dependence on Him, “not fear anything that is frightening!” (I Peter 3:6)

Even now, He is doing a thousand things we can’t see…and it is good!

He is never changing, but, by His grace and to His praise, He is always changing me.

He is always allowing and even causing change in the world and in our worlds, reminding us that:

We are not sovereign.

We are not in control.

We are not able to speak to the storms that rise up and still them.

We are not able to count the clouds or say to the oceans, “This far and no farther…” Nor are we able to tell the lightning bolts where they should go or the stars where to shine. (Job 38)

We are not able to order time or space or weather…or sickness of any kind.

We are not able to thwart the plans of the wicked.

We are not able, apart from the Holy Spirit, to soften hard hearts, remove the scales from spiritually blind eyes, give understanding to the worldly wise but spiritually foolish.

But the God of the universe is more than able!

God IS sovereign!

God IS in control!

God IS able to still the storms, count the clouds, order the oceans and say, “This is where your proud waves halt!” (Job 38)  And, He tells the lightning bolt where it should go, He orders the sun, moon, and stars to shine in the places He has designed and desires…or not!

God IS able to and does order time, space, weather…and sickness.

God IS able to thwart the plans of the wicked, and He does order the steps of man, raises up and deposes rulers in their lands…all for HIS glory!

God IS able to soften hard hearts, heal spiritual blindness and weariness, and humble arrogance.

And, one day, not only will creation continue to sing His praise.  Every knee will bow before Him!

We, who are redeemed and those who long to know the Truth, are called to reset our eyes and fix them “on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2); that we may rest in the sure hope of our Almighty God who “is” and be fully ready to give reason for that hope that is ours in Christ Jesus! (I Peter 3:15)

I will again hear the cacophony of dissonant voices.

I will again see and sometimes experience broken hearts, wounded spirits, and anxious thoughts.

I will again feel the overwhelming weight of the reality of life in a fallen world that is not my home!

But I will remember, and I will rest in the greater reality of the God who is mighty and has provided a Redeemer, Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is my Father’s world

O let me never forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the Ruler yet!

This is my Father’s world.

The battle is not done.

Jesus who died shall be satisfied

And earth and heaven be one!”

* If you have trusted in Jesus, by faith, and so are united with God through Him, rest in Him and stay in His unchanging, completely reliable Word, the Bible.

* If you have not trusted Jesus as your Savior, lay your life down and call to Him. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you!” (James 4:8)

It is only through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross, that you can be a child of God.  That is the only true Gospel that redeems and transforms. If you have questions, just ask, or go to http://www.needhim.org/knowing-jesus/

The Heart Cries…and God Still Hears

We live and breath in a world that is beautiful and lovely…and hard.

The rocks and the trees, the sun, moon, and stars cry out in praise to God, but at times, even His creation groans (Romans 8:22).

Many people we encounter on a daily basis weep and are hurting and longing to “get beyond” the moment and find rest.

The restlessness in these days is palpable; fear is etched on many faces.

Even conversations with those who are redeemed children of God remind us that, Jesus said, “in this world, you will have troubles,” but followed with the hope to “take heart; (He) has overcome the world.” 

As they struggle with their own difficult situations, I hear the very real tension and I have experienced the same at times: they trust God for their lives but wrestle with the circumstances and emotions that come with living in this fallen world – fear, anger, hurt, illness, sadness, loss.

Choosing to subdue and take captive those emotions while laying them bare before the God of all comforts at the throne of grace begins to settle the soul. Asking Him to remind of His presence and letting Him bring a supernatural peace is an intentional choice we each must make in those incredibly stifling moments or seasons.

Every one of us have been there.  Our commitment to and love for Christ compels us to believe His best for us, but our emotions, often so raw, cry out with questions.

There are times we feel like saying, as the father of the young boy in Mark 9, “I believe; Lord, help my unbelief.”  But sometimes the enemy of our souls wants to make us think we cannot share that with God; that we cannot let Him hear our heart’s cry.  How far from the truth that is!

Our reactions are not a surprise to God. He knows our needs, our frailties, and our fears.  And He longs for us to nestle in the arms of our Abba Father, our Daddy God, and be refreshed and renewed.  Because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, we can boldly go to Him with our pain, not in defiance, but in humility and in assurance.

Hebrews 4:16 reminds us, “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

When we read the Psalms, we often find that David fearlessly poured out his soul to God, and God calls him a man after His own heart.  He laid bare his fears, his sin, and his anger at circumstances and injustices, crying out to the Father to be heard and longing to hear, see, and experience His presence. David acknowledged his questions and what disturbed him; but, in the end, David gave God praise and trusted in His control.

He knew, as in Psalm 5:3, that he could approach the throne of grace with assurance that God would hear and respond, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

In Dr. Ralph Davis’ book, “The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life, Psalms 1-12” (a book which spoke volumes to me and which I highly recommend), he refers often to this pattern of David’s life: to acknowledge the cries of his heart and then give God praise, resting in the truth of who God is!

In Psalm 3, David cried out “Yahweh, how many are my foes!  How many are rising up against me!”  But as Dr. Davis points out,

      “In the middle of his mess, [David] is saying [in verse 3], ‘I know my God.’  In face of the threats and ruckus and theological opinions of his enemies, David turns his eyes to his protecting, sufficient, restoring, accessible God.  The God-centeredness of his gaze keeps him steady while his enemies try to decide what precise level of scum he is.”  Psalm 3:3 – “But You, Yahweh, are a shield around me, my glory and the One who lifts my head.”

 Again, in Psalm 6, David pours out the “agony he knows.”  In essence, David often says in the Psalms, either directly or indirectly, “How long, O Lord?”  Dr. Davis writes,

     “…the problem of time contributes to his agony.  This is one of our perennial problems with God’s ways.  We have our calendar. We have figured out how long we can hold out.  And somehow Yahweh allows our urgent deadlines to pass.  Why?  David’s ‘How long?’ means: How long will you allow this to go on?  Why don’t you intervene and give me relief?  Why does He wait?  Why does He hold off?  When we say God will intervene sooner or later, why does it always seem to be later?  Our troubles, it seems, are as much with God as with our circumstances.”

But then Dr. Davis reminds us that David settles his heart on the character of God.  David “is resting on Yahweh’s character, in the sort of God he has declared himself to be…[the God of covenant love, ‘hesed, the devoted love that pledges never to let go of us’].  Sometimes this is your only stay in trouble…”

And though nothing has changed in that one moment, he presses in on truth that sustains his hope, “For Yahweh has heard the sound of my weeping!  Yahweh has heard my plea for grace!  Yahweh will accept my prayer!” (vv 8-9)

As we acknowledge God’s sovereignty in our lives and grow in our love and knowledge of Him through His written word, the Bible, we also mature in our understanding of His heart and the freedom we have to lay bare all that we are before Him – even our cries.

God points us to the Psalms to remind us that it is what He allows, even desires, of His children.  He knows our hearts even better than we do ourselves, but He delights when we ask and expect Him to respond, to draw near to us.

He is the God of all comforts and He delights in His children drawing near to Him so that as He, in turn, draws near, we are held close and know His presence regardless of our circumstances and our questions.

“Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I…” (Psalm 61:3)

You are the Rock on which I stand.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

Caretaker for the King…Revisited

Sometimes glimpses into the past give us a renewed vision for the present; sometimes they are reminders of what we know is true.

As I have been culling through a multitude of papers and journals in an attempt at reorganizing, I have read quotes from the mouths of my little ones, now grown; I have laughed and cried at the memories. 

Reading old journal entries of my own, I am reminded of the joy and the struggle that came from being a new mom and from later years when it was a new phase in the role which I had grown to love and cherish and for which, it grew increasingly clear, God’s grace was much needed.

In the midst of the reorganizing, I found this piece, “Caretaker for the King,” which I wrote when we had just two…a third would come along a year and a half later.  I decided to share on my blog as it is my heart’s desire to encourage parents in the trenches now and remind those of us with children now grown (and still growing), that these things remain true. Our roles may be different, but our purpose as parents is the same.

“I am no one extraordinary per se.  Whatever my children become, whoever they be – they are the Lord’s and I am a caretaker for the King.

That’s not to say that being a caretaker is not challenging or unimportant.  On the contrary, it is probably one of the most monumental, overwhelming yet fulfilling challenges I could ever face. 

But in the moments when I hold on too tightly or allow my children to become “idols,” I must stop, step back, and refocus.   A caretaker needs care as well.  For when my heart and eyes are on the “chaos” that sometimes surrounds life with little ones, I grow so weary! Yet, when they are on my King, I am a more effective caretaker in all ways. 

God has equipped them, provided each one with talents, gifts, and unique personalities.  Our job is to nurture a love for Him and for His Word, to teach them a right fear of the Lord, and to help them develop that which He alone has instilled and is still unfolding in their lives for His glory!

We seek to direct and guide based on the infallible guidance we have received in God’s Word but which will always come through fallible hands – our own.  We are to model the character of our King for our children so they will believe what they hear because of what they see. 

Mistaken at times. 

Failing too often. 


Living between the now and the not yet, the frustration of my failures is, at times, overwhelming.  But God’s grace covers it all in Jesus!  And through our foibles we are able to point the way to a forgiving Savior – the only perfection – and His power to grow us and make us more like Him.

Our two children – and soon to be three – have been given to us but for a time which oh so rapidly speeds by.  I want to redeem the moments, each small in and of themselves, but the multitude of which make up life and are immense. 

Tyrannized by what “must be done” or by what the world says I deserve to do for myself, I often miss a teachable moment – for them or for myself  (for sometimes, they are my “teachers”). To use these moments for God’s glory and their good or against God’s will and to their detriment — that decision is important and is made daily.  The task is rich and made possible only in Christ’s strength.

How will God use them – their talents, abilities, gifts, personalities, understanding?  Will they live their lives and use those abilities for His honor, for the fame of King Jesus?

However He may choose, may we be caretakers who encourage them to seek that goal, to press towards it, long for it, strive after it, and achieve all for the glory of the King and for the souls of men! 

May we teach them well, taking great pleasure and joy in being caretakers of these little lives for the Him who is our Redeemer!

And, when that time comes in their own lives and little ones arrive at their feet, their own “mission field,” may they be equipped and humble before the Lord, to also be caretakers for the King, for the next generation‘s children of the covenant.”

Setting Our Hearts to Rest


I want to wait on the Lord!

I want to be faithful!

I want to hear His voice and trust His hand!

I want to “not fear anything that is frightening.” (I Peter 3:6)

Sometimes the Lord allows circumstances into our lives that are uncomfortable at best, painful at worst. But they are not without purpose – even when we can’t see that purpose.

Being set upon an anvil, the heat is increased, and the re-shaping is painful, but it is good.

Growing physically can have discomfort, but it is good.

There is goodness in God allowing hard places into our lives regardless of the discomfort in various ways. Naturally, we don’t like it, but I don’t want to miss the moment; I don’t want to miss what He wants me to learn and how He wants me to grow.

We can trust the One who is Creator and Sustainer because, as CS Lewis so poignantly said of Aslan, a beautiful picture of Christ in his book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, “He is not safe, but He is good!”

Yes, we are safe in His arms, but He is still the Almighty King of all even as He has mercy on His children; He reigns as Judge but remains our Father for those who have put their faith in Him.

We can be carried by Him, but we must never mistake that familiarity and that tenderness for a casual relationship. Were we to be in His presence, we would fall to our knees in the face of His glory!

And THAT is good!

We live in a time of history when our “plans” have been and are being, as the proverbial apple cart, “completely upset,” totally upended.

We find the news of each new day a little more unsettling regardless of our response to it.

And the ground beneath doesn’t just feel shaky, it is.

But, therein lies the importance of knowing the certainty of your foundation.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…’Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ (Psalm 46:1-3, 10)

If my confidence is built on my health…

If my security is based on what I own…

If my joy is dependent on my circumstances…

If my hope is built on my abilities and/or my job…

If my steadfastness is built on my plans…

I will eventually be moved; I will be shaken!

But, if “…my soul, finds rest in God; my hope comes from Him…” then “Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken…” (Psalm 62:5-6)

When what I see is unclear, when what I desire is either hindered, set back, or is no more, when the circumstances around me are unsure…I must choose to stand on what I know more than on what I feel.

I must choose faith in the God who doesn’t change.

I must choose trust in the One who has the ability to say to the seas, “This far and no farther!”

I must choose joy that comes from a knowledge of and settling in the truth of God’s Word and His character, His ability to settle any frustration or fear.

I must choose to say, ”The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights…” (Habakkuk 3:19)

I must choose to cling to the fact that life in this fallen world will not always “feel” good; in fact, it may feel quite the opposite. But God is in the midst of doing things in us and in our world we cannot see.

He is getting the world’s attention and our own. The world is unsettled, but He stands secure.

Will I rail against what He is trying to do in and through me? Or will I say, “Not my will but yours, Lord – use me!” and then respond to His answers.

Will I grow angry with the response whether I think it is too much or too little? Or will I be faithful in the little things, courageous and bold to speak life to those I encounter, “giving reason for the hope (in Christ) that I have…with gentleness” (I Peter 3:15) that is not dependent on my ease and my comfort, pointing them to the life-giving Gospel that sets eternity in motion both now and forever!

Will I give that word of comfort and a smile of hope to those I encounter whose very faces are etched with fear?

Will I humble myself before the Lord, asking Him to cleanse me, His child, of all unrighteousness, to show me my sin, and to ask Him to change me so that, as I seek His face, He might heal our land?

Will I pray not only for an end to difficult situations and how they affect me, but pray even more fervently for the Lord to bring glory to Himself, that He be exalted in all the earth?

Will I ask Him to soften hard hearts and give sight to blind eyes, even those long settled in a false sense of protection who are still trying to earn their way to Him, that they might see their need of the Savior and be redeemed by His work for us?

Will I, hand in hand, “serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling?” (Psalm 2:11)

And when I am too weary or saddened to choose well, will I call out to my Abba Father, my Jehovah Shalom, “Carry me! Be my peace! Give me the faith to trust when I can’t see, the strength to reset my stand!”

The world is in an odd place right now, one we have never known; everything we have counted on and set our security upon is being tossed. But our God is not caught unaware; our God is not shaken.

None of us are exempt from some measure of the “uncomfortable” in all of this.  But the Lord has called us to “carry one another’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2), to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

The Lord never calls us to walk alone even when we have to “self-isolate.”  He is “near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth”  (Psalm 145:18) and He has given us “one another” whether it be in close proximity or through the gift of technology.  Let me walk this road with you; let me carry your burdens even if it is just for you to share the fears you have. I would count it a privilege to pray for you, to take you to our Father’s throne of grace, as you share your concerns with me.

My hope IS built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, and so I can choose to “set my eyes on things above not on things below.” (Colossians 3:2)

And, as I do that in the power of the Holy Spirit who is able to supernaturally create that response in me, I will increase my trust and faith in the Lord and decrease my draw towards growing angry with or fearful of circumstances.

When I feel my heart start to tremble, I will ask the Lord to teach me to “be still and KNOW that He is God” and let His Spirit set my soul at rest.

Long ago, when we were facing some significant decisions, my husband and I were having a conversation about it in the car, our small children were in the backseat. Obviously, I was expressing some concerns and it was evident. Softly at first, then growing a little more intense, the clear little voice of my then three-year old daughter came from the back seat singing:

“I cast all my cares upon You;

I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet.

And, any time, I don’t know what to do,

I will cast all my cares upon You.”

Out of the mouth of babes, God reset my heart to trust Him for what I couldn’t see! He gave me a supernatural peace unexplainable in human terms.

I ask Him to do that again for me, for my family, for you in this moment and the next!

As we are in Christ, we can be assured; we can “set our hope fully on the grace to be given us at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (I Peter 1:13) and we can rest, truly rest!

In His Joy and Peace,


Don’t Settle for Less

The world will try to give us ways to cope, to fill our minds or empty our minds!

It may settle us for the moment, but it won’t strengthen us!

It may create a diversion, but it won’t give us hope!

Instead we can trust and live out what God says so we can be emboldened and equipped to rescue the perishing and comfort the fearful with what will last!

We can know and share that He IS good, He IS God, and He IS doing far more than we can see; we can firmly stand on that truth!

“Set your minds on things above not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden in Christ!“ Colossians 3:2–3

Lean into the Word of God that is living and active, share the hope we have in Christ, and, when frustration or fear raises its head, cry out to God and let Him defeat it, let Him carry you!

“Take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

You can know Him – the One who created you and sustains you – not just know about Him!

It makes all the difference in the world!

“Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39) because God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, alone is peace.

“Prepare your minds for action…fix your hope FULLY onthe grace to be given at the revelation of Jesus Christ!” I Peter 1:13

The Hope of Eternity Even in Tears…Until That Day

The now and the not yet.

The shadowlands and the reality.

Seeing through a glass darkly and seeing face-to-face.

Hope deferred, and hope realized.

Grieving here but with sure hope of the Almighty God’s promise to come, and that sure hope evidenced; laughter and smiles, peace and great joy, no more tears, no more pain, no more fears.

Once longing to be in His presence, and now standing in His presence, resting in the One who has redeemed her soul and experiencing the reality of our Life that is truly life!

“Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.“ Psalm 30:5

“He Himself is our peace!” Ephesians 2:14

“And with your final heartbeat, kiss the world goodbye! Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus and live!!” –

“Come to Jesus” by Chris Rice

The Miracles We Often Miss

We love to hear stories of unexplained physical healing which we know can only be the hand of God!

We love to hear accounts of relationships restored and brokenness healed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We love to hear first-hand narratives of those who have waited long for someone – a child to conceive or adopt or the person to marry – and God orchestrating that in timing and ways we could never design so well.

We love to hear tales of an impending disaster that was averted or rescues for which there is no other explanation other than God intervening.

And, because God is at work, they happen all around us.

We rightly shout, “To God be the glory; He is the Author of that miracle!” Indeed, He is and He has been doing so across time! Those are the miracles in which we most often rejoice, and for which we are quick to sing His praise!

And there are the every day miracles in His created world: a baby formed in the womb, growing to take his or her first breath; the sunshine that warms our days and the moon that reflects that sun; the stars the twinkle and the rain that falls; the ocean breezes and the mountain snows; the air we breathe and beauty of His creation across the continents.

But sometimes (and maybe, more often than not), we miss the miracles we don’t call miracles at all. We fail to see or we make light of the inexplicable work He is doing in hearts when the physical healing doesn’t come, when the relationship is not restored, when the disaster is not averted; when faith replaces fear, and hope overshadows discouragement.

Over the short term and the long months and years, much can and does happen in the lives of those we love.  In our own circle, there have been some miraculous answers to prayer – yes, unexplained other than by the gracious hand of God whose will it has been to have His glory expressed through physical healing, children being added to our homes by birth and adoption, relationships restored, and lives redeemed by the living God through Christ! And we have given God praise and honor for all these things!

But, there are also other circumstances in which God is saying, “I am here, I see, I am at work…but wait!”

The journey is just beginning, and what He will do is not yet known. We believe Him for it, and we hope for it; but He is saying, “Wait for it!”

The journey has been long, and the battles wearying. We set our hope on Him, we watch, and we pray; but He is saying, “Wait for it!”

Perhaps the miracle is in learning to wait, learning to trust when we cannot see, learning to cry out through tears, “I can’t do this, Lord; carry me and make me able!” Even if we never get the answer for which we long.

And I have been reminded recently that sometimes, when those answers don’t come quickly, God hears our cries and allows us to ask “Why?” and “How long?” just as the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 13, not as a ill-tempered child, but as a weary warrior who truly wants to trust and who comes to our good, good Father with a sincere heart that says, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)  Or, “Even if you don’t answer as I want, again with the Psalmist I will say, ‘But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD…You are my God…Save me in Your lovingkindness.’” (Psalm 31)

I think of my sister’s dear friend and worship leader, Laura Story – her own hard but trust-instilling questions throughout her song, “What if Your blessings come through raindrops; what if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near? What if trials of this life are Your blessings in disguise?”

What if our trials, our hard places, our broken bodies and wounded hearts are opportunities for miracles in disguise? The miracle of God leading to a place of rest; the miracle of God working in us and through us, moment by moment, transforming our responses in spite of us and giving us strength not just for the long road ahead but for the next step, the next minute.

“His grace is sufficient” is not a platitude! It is a very real promise of God for those who are His redeemed children in Christ Jesus, for those who set their eyes on Him and stare at the Savior more than at their circumstances. “His power IS made perfect in weakness!” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

It is the sure hope of those who have said, “Not my will but yours, Lord,” who have not just acknowledged that He exists, but who have laid their very lives and pursuits at the cross and said, “I am Yours; deal with me according to your lovingkindness and teach me, use me, change me…”

I have seen and am seeing THOSE miracles!

One I love dearly has a body that has been broken by illness for many years, but her joy and her hope in Christ is palpable! He is doing miracles through her; He is changing and strengthening lives through her in spite of our pleas for Him to heal.

Does she long for wholeness? Of course, but does she hope in the Lord? She does!

Does she make it clear that her joy is because of Him, that her hope is not in the here and now but in eternity? She does.

Is her desire for God to be glorified, for believers to be strengthened, and unbelievers to come to a saving relationship with God through Jesus? It is!

We spoke of that just last week!

That is a miracle! That is God renewing her strength and her hope and her joy day by day regardless of what that day may hold; the miracle is Him giving it in the first place and “continuing the good work He began in her…carrying it to completion”* when I know she doesn’t “feel” like it at times!

Another I love deeply longs to add to their family, and we have prayed without ceasing. But, at this time, God has said, “Wait for it!” And, in that waiting and longing, they rejoice and trust the One who has called them to Himself and has shown Himself faithful. That is a miracle!

Watching and waiting with expectation and trusting when the longing is so great!

Others I love are facing medical issues – some that are likely to have an answer that will be just what we desire and others not – but the wait on doctors and diagnosis and treatments is a reality.

Could the miracle be in God giving each of them (and those of us who wait alongside them) the ability to persevere, pray with expectation, and respond in faith regardless of the answers?

Could the miracle be the growing to hunger more for the Lord and His return than what happens in our earthly bodies?

Could the miracle be in desiring more of our Savior as we watch and wait and long for His presence in the here and now?

I admit – I don’t wait well. I desire quick answers for them as I do when I am in these circumstances. But, it is often true, that God teaches and grows me so much more when He makes me wait…because my eyes can then be nowhere else but on my Savior rather than on me trying to “fix a problem or find a solution.”

I’ve seen God work in my own heart, as I weep deeply for people and situations in my life and theirs, but He is constantly reminding me that weeping does not have to give way to worry.  We can walk with the Comforter even if our steps are slow and plodding.

He is teaching me to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) when my thoughts want to run ahead of my Savior and as the lie of fear wants to overtake my heart and mind. He is reminding me over again that I can and must pray “in expectation” (Psalm 5) because He hears, He is faithful, and His ways are not my ways – they are good even when they don’t “feel” good!

I’ve watched bitter hearts soften to forgive even when a deep hurt is not acknowledged or a broken relationship isn’t restored. And I’ve seen the sweetness of a heart resting in Jesus, despite it.

Could the miracle be in resting even while we wrestle with our unmet desires and expectations?

Could the miracle be looking back and recognizing what God has done in us over the years as we have learned to pray more intentionally and to watch and wait, not perfectly, but more faithfully?

Could the miracle be that we have learned to forgive, in spite of deep wounds, and as we have humbly become more transparent and more ready to allow Him to chip away at our own self-wills so we could see Him doing a work of grace, first in us, as only He could do?

Could the miracle be that we have seen Him take what looked like a terrible situation that seemed to be unredeemable and work in us and in others, rescuing and restoring what was lost or damaged or making us still faithful if not?

Could the miracle be in experiencing peace where there is no peace, hope when circumstances don’t warrant it?

Could the miracle be in Him working in us so that we can, “Be still and know that He is God!” (Psalm 46:10)

Those are actions of the Holy in Spirit as He teaches and equips His children to say, “Do in your servant what you will…to You be the glory!” One step at a time.

We want physical and emotional healing; He wants redeemed souls!

“…which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” Matthew 9:5

We want restored relationships with one another; He wants those but, even more, He wants us to have a relationship with Him.

“…our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession…” (Titus 2:14)

We want trouble-free lives; He wants us to lean on, trust, and see Him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

We want quick solutions; He wants to train us to persevere in the long haul to grow us and teach us to hope in Him (though growing is oft times painful).

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

Maybe our response – our real pain that is marked by real tears and frustration but that is woven into, even overshadowed, by our real faith in God Himself – is what brings God glory, is what will make people seek Him and see Him!

We can answer, “I don’t know why, and it hurts! Yet will I trust Him! Yet will I put my hope in Him!”

The miracle of God in our deepest fears, our greatest trials, our scariest diagnosis, our most broken of relationships, everything that is evidence of a world tainted by sin but that is not the final reality…is that we have hope in the God who spoke this world into existence and in the Son who is coming to reign again.

The miracle is that we can weep for a moment, but that joy comes in the morning. We can long for the coming day when this world, that is but a shadow of what is to come, is in the past and the wholeness, which we who are redeemed through and submitted to Christ anticipate, is realized in that day!

The miracle is that God carries us when we can’t fathom another step, that His Spirit comforts us when our tears flow hot and heavy, and that He emboldens us to stand on His true, unchanging Word in the face of an enemy who wants to defeat us with fear.

The miracle defined is that He became Emmanuel, God with us, to redeem us from ourselves and make us His own.

We can know Him. We can love Him. We can anticipate with certainty an eternity with Him. We can rest in our Living Hope.

Don’t miss the miracles!

Don’t miss the greatest miracle!

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-8)

“From where will my help come? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”    Psalm 121:1-2

*Philippians 1:6

A New Heart


Our great joy walks alongside another’s grief.

Our tears of joy are mingled with the tears of another’s tears of sorrow.

Though it does not diminish our joy, it is a sobering reminder that our God is loving and faithful. But, sometimes, there can be a sadness in the midst of that faithfulness.

At the time of this writing, our family is waiting as one of our great-nieces undergoes a heart transplant, something no one even knew she would need a month ago.  It has been a whirlwind time but one where, when we step back and take even a quick overview, it is so evident that God’s hand and timing are, without question, never late and full of great care.

The reality is that for her to live, one had to die.

Even as we rejoice for this miracle, we grieve alongside the family that had to say goodbye to one they love. I pray that they will know His presence in their mourning and that God will be glorified in both stories, lives redeemed and transformed!

And then I considered it all anew…

This is the Gospel!

For me to a have a new heart, One had to die.

For me to have a redeemed and transformed heart, a sacrifice had to be made.

For me to truly die to self and live both now and in eternity, another life had to be given.

His Name is Jesus!

God the Father had to allow His Son to suffer and die to take the penalty I deserve; Jesus had to give up His rightful position at the right hand of God for me to live.

And, for all who don’t just acknowledge He exists (for “even the demons believe that and shudder” – James 2:19) but call on Him as Savior and Lord, He gives a new heart, a new life, a new way of thinking and desiring, and a new and living hope!

“…I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:25-26)

My sweet niece’s original heart could not sustain her life here on earth; my original sinful heart could not sustain me here or for eternity.

For me to live, my Savior had to die!

This is the Gospel!

“But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in His presence—if indeed you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope of the gospel…” (Colossians 1:22-23)

“…For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Our little one could do nothing to restore her heart; her parents, grandparents, and the rest of us could do nothing. Just like us…we can’t earn our salvation; we can’t do “enough” good to secure a right relationship with God, a new heart.

Only our Savior…only His sacrifice.

This is the Gospel!

And so, we watch and wait and pray for physical healing for this little one we love and the heart-aching emotional healing for another we will never meet, even as we long for all to have a new heart in Christ, the only healing that will last for eternity!

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have full endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.

He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:9-14)

Dare to Hope for Joy


Joy to the world!

Christmas is glorious!

And Christmas is hard!

The babe in the manger would one day be whipped and tortured for declaring the Truth of Who He is, the Word made flesh!

The babe in the manger would one day hang on the cross, bearing the guilt of sin He did not, nor could not, commit.

The babe in the manger would one day die.

In those moments, there was no joy.

And yet…

“…for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame…” (Hebrews 12:2)

He did that for those who would one day call Him Savior and Lord, who would one day submit their hearts and live in relationship with Him!

In the moment, there was no joy.

And yet…

The babe in the manger did not stay buried.

The babe in the manger defeated death, and He was resurrected to life!

The babe in the manger was God Himself, born to die and to live again!

The babe in the manger reigns, and He is coming again!

The weary world rejoices.

Our world is weary.

Perhaps your world is particularly so.

Dare to take a breath, and call on Jesus for the next one.

Dare to pause, and let the tears fall.

Dare to let the Father hold your breaking heart.

Dare to be still in the midst of the unknown and the “what next.”

Dare to trust Jehovah Shalom, our God who is peace.

Dare to press into the One who knows, who has always known.

Rest at the manger, and look to the cross.

Lean into the sure Hope…

For the joy set before you is found in the babe in the manger, our Savior.

And you are not alone.