Monday, December 11, 2006

The Best Gift

Invariably on Christmas morning, you open a package and there is a fresh pair of socks or underwear. Thanks to Mom or Grandma, you’re covered for the next year in new unmentionables. (I wonder if we were to return the favor and get them new skivvies, would they appreciate the thought?)

What kind of clothing would you rather find under the tree? Does a warm coat or silky blouse appeal to you? How about some Heelies or an expensive pair of jeans that look like they’ve been thru a fight with a belt sander?

Everyone seems to like to get clothing for Christmas. And if it doesn’t fit, they battle the crowds in the return line the next week…exchanging it for a better size or color. Maybe all they really want this year is a big fluffy white robe. It’s something to snuggle into with a good book, and it has enough coverage to dash outside for the newspaper without embarrassment.

You see, ever since our first ancestors we’ve been trying to cover ourselves. They tried with fig leaves…but how long could those last? And have you ever felt a fig leaf? It’s a fuzzy leaf that had to be itchy and it eventually dries up and crumbles. Before Adam and Eve left the garden, God knew the fig leaves wouldn’t last. He made them their first clothing out of animal skins—the first sacrifice recorded in the Bible. Genesis 3:21

Did you know that God has a present for you this Christmas? It’s not a wild pair of toe socks or pink bunny suit. It’s a robe. (Isaiah 61:10) And it’s one size fits all. You won’t want to take it back, because the price was too dear. You see His son paid His life for that robe. And it covers you completely. It covers every sin and misdeed you’ve ever lived. It will never wear out, in fact it’s guaranteed to last forever. And when God looks at you standing there, He looks at you as if you are His only child.

It’s His gift to you, and all you have to do is accept it. Merry Christmas dear reader, may you put on the robe of Christ this Christmas. (Galatians 3:27)

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and {all} tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches {were} in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Revelation 7:9-10

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks

Most people can tick off a list of things to be thankful for on one hand: family, job, home, health and friends. Thanksgiving is a good time to pause and count your blessings.

But what if you remove one of those things? Let’s say the job. Money gets tight, your home might be at risk of foreclosure, the worry impacts your health, the stress causes you to bite those closest to you, and your friends become distant. Those plates you had spinning so expertly, start to fall and shatter at your feet.

What’s a person to do? An interesting man named Paul (not McCartney) once said, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses…”

Why would anyone want to brag about his or her weaknesses? You see Paul had an amazing turnaround in life. He had it all, a great job, good friends, knowledge, prestige—even had a different name: Saul. And then one day he was struck blind. He couldn’t do his job; he was helpless. (Acts 9:1-9)

He found himself having to depend on some dude that Saul should’ve considered cat food. Ananias was a Christian and he prayed for Saul, and he was healed. (Acts 9:10-22) He felt so different he even took on a new name: Paul.

From then on Paul shucked his job and became a preacher—a member of the same group of people he used to round up to be tossed to the lions. He performed miracles and he boasted of his weaknesses. The rest of his quote tells why, “…so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

The most amazing people in my life are those that praise God in the midst of illness, legal problems or joblessness. I remember a pastor saying, “For every non-Christian who has cancer, there is a Christian with cancer.”

There is a better way to do this life. God calls us to be holy, set apart from this world. If we wow the world with our strength, brains, money or stuff…we’re just another voice in a world where everyone is shouting for his or her 15 minutes of fame. Eventually all these things will fade in the shadow of the next crisis of the day. It’s our weakness that really lets Jesus shine in our lives.

Now, if I ask you what are you thankful for, what comes to mind? It’s easy to be thankful for the blessings in life. What has driven you closer to God? Or, are you finally tired of keeping all those plates spinning in the air?

I am thankful for being broken, because I know who holds me together. My savior shines like a beacon through those cracks to the rest of the world and tells them there is a Hope. (John 14:6)

Now, grab one of your plates and have a slice of pie.

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pumpkin Princess

We had a blast at our Halloween alternative-Trunk or Treat. I decorated my trunk with pumpkins and told the kids how Christians start out like pumpkins. It was fun to see the reactions of the kids as I told them how God picks us up from where we’ve been planted, cleans off the mud and—if it’s ok with us—cleans out the miserable gook inside our hearts. Then, God puts a light inside our heart so we can shine for Jesus.

I had a darling little girl come up to me in her pristine Cinderella costume. She had the poofy dress, the tiara and long satin gloves on. I was showing her the different stages of pumpkins: mud covered, gook inside and then lit with a candle. She seemed to be very intent on one pumpkin.

She handed her treat bag to her mom, pointed a regal finger at the mud-covered pumpkin and said, “I’d like that one please.”

I explained to her I was giving out candy, that the pumpkins were just for show. She proceeded to take off those satin gloves and reached for the big muddy pumpkin. She didn’t care about the front of her sparkly blue gown. It took a few moments for her mom and I to convince her they were for show. Then she was off to the next trunk for treats. I bet that little girl will grow up to be in the mission field. Why do I say that? Because she didn’t reach for the clean pumpkin or the one with a candle already inside. She reached for the one needing her touch the most. That’s what Jesus is like.

Did you know that Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the world, is reaching for you? He doesn’t care how muddy and messed up inside you are. He doesn’t want to wait until you’re cleaned up and ready. Nobody can ever get that ready on his or her own power. All we have to do is something a pumpkin can’t do: shout, "Pick me!"

Once your life is in His hands, He begins the work. The mud flies and a heart surgery is performed right there. He’s not after slime and seeds but a heart that is rock hard from years of neglect and abuse. In its place He places a new heart, one that’s soft and ready to love. Yes, it’s a little more fragile and you might find it breakable, but you’ve got direct access to the Physician who will repair it every time. (No HMOs to stand in your way!)

When I became a Christian, I became a child of the King—a real princess. And I should not let that stop me from taking off my gloves and getting dirty for the Kingdom, much less look down on others.

Set your crown aside dear Christian, roll up your sleeves and take off your gloves, we have work to do. And may God give us the strength to keep reaching out to those who need the touch of Jesus. Not just the ones labeled unlovely, but the unlovable and unreachable as well.

Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." Matthew 9:37-38

Want to know more? Click here.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Happily Ever After

We’re all familiar with the fairy tale Pinocchio. It’s about a lonely woodcarver who made a boy puppet. One night, the boy puppet is brought to life by a blue fairy. The woodcarver was very happy, because it seemed he was not going to be lonely anymore. But the “boy” had other plans. He wanted to be a real boy, not just a sideshow for others to gawk at. He didn’t like his nose growing when he told a lie. The puppet set off to find out how to become real, and takes some very hard knocks. He is used, taken advantage of, and finds himself changing into an animal—rather than the boy he dreamed of being. He runs farther and finds himself literally in the belly of a whale. At his darkest moment of his life, he finds he is not alone. The woodcarver is there. He had been searching for his lost creation all that time. They work together to escape and only then does the puppet change into a real boy.

I loved that story when I was little and I find it still speaks to me.

I hear the complaints, “When is it going to get better?”, “If I could only lose 10 more pounds!” or “If I could just get that other job!”, “Maybe I just need to have another baby.” We seek and we do not find. We ask with the wrong motives. (James 4:3) People seem to want that unreachable thing and once they get it, they find it’s not what they really desired.

We’re all on a quest to be “real”. Much like Pinocchio, we were made by a creator. No woodcarver, but a Master Craftsman: God. He created us out of dust. No blue fairies, but His own breath expanded our lungs and brought us to life. And from then on, we run away from His presence. We try to make something of ourselves. We were created for a purpose, for a relationship with our creator. The farther we run from that relationship, the farther we run from being Real. We try on different hats, we follow the crowd, we feed our hunger with the wrong foods or starve ourselves, we pump things into our bodies to create artificial highs or lows and still we wonder why we feel so wooden.

When we reach our lowest point, when we find ourself in the belly of the whale, we find we are not alone. Did you know that nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? No person, place or thing can keep us from His love. No whale, no prison, no addiction, no wrong choice, no mental anguish, no person can keep us from Him. God sent His son to save us from ourselves. (Romans 8:31-39) All we have to do is quit running. And you’ll find He’s right there with you all the time.

Together with our creator, we build a fire that dispells the darkness of our soul. We find our Pinocchio life changes into a living, breathing thing. (Titus 3:5-7) And that sin that was as plain as the nose on your face? It’s gone along with the splinters and termites that your past life rewarded you with. Yes, you might scrape a knee now and then or get your heart stomped on, but isn’t it better than a life destined as kindling wood?

Friday, August 11, 2006


Have you ever heard of the phrase, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”? It’s normally used in situations where a person is in some kind of physical endurance test: hitting that last hill in a bike race, sprinting the last 50 yards in a marathon, or looking at a menu with 5 lbs to go in a strict diet. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. You know what you ought to do, but your body has another agenda.

The Apostle Paul said, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I {would} like to {do,} but I am doing the very thing I hate... But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” (Romans 7:15, 20)

We are by nature, sinful creatures. We came into this world screaming for comfort and food. As Christians, we have accepted the authority of Jesus, God’s son. (Romans 8:3) With this acceptance comes the blessing of the Holy Spirit, deposited within us. The Bible refers to our bodies as a temple because the Holy Spirit dwells there. (1 Corinthians 6:19) So this gives us two parts within to deal with: spirit and flesh.

When Christians choose to do what is wrong, they have to squelch the Spirit within that encourages them to do what is right. (Some refer to it as their conscience.) If you squelch it long enough, it becomes a whisper and “the flesh” rules your life or you “go with your heart”. Your life goes out of balance and you live for worldly things like money, ambition, food, and twisted pleasures that excite the imagination.

The heart can be very deceptive. (Jeremiah 17:10) It’s a tough way to live, because the heart is insatiable. Suddenly you need more of whatever your heart wants. No amount of money, liquor, fancy cars, diamonds or girlie magazines is enough to satisfy. I can just hear the old Stones’ tune, “I can’t get no satisfaction”. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

Not only do we have a fight within, but Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re kids of Adam and Eve, and they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden into the world. And according to the Bible, the prince of the world is not a nice guy. He is not God, but he wants to be. He is in a major campaign right now for Christians. Like in the movie Poltergeist, “he knows what scares you”, he also knows what your weaknesses are. The Bible says he is like a prowling lion, waiting for someone to devour. And what do lions do? They wait in the tall grass for that unsuspecting, weak gazelle that has strayed from the pack.

This methodical being lays traps and woos people away from their walk with God. Remember Flip Wilson? He had a character Geraldine who used to say, “The devil made me do it!” Now that’s giving him more power than he really has. He may tempt you, but you have the freedom of choice to not do it. And God says He will always provide a way of escape for you when you’re tempted. It’s up to us to resist what our weaker side wants, and choose wisely.

Satan cannot read your mind and he cannot be everywhere. He does know your life history and what could be a lure for you. And he does have his own angels, doing his work all over the world. He might try sending a spirit of strife to your home to try and pull you off your game. He is behind every evil loose in this world. But remember, our battle is not against our fellow Christians, but against the darkness in this world. (Ephesians 6:12)

Sadly, when Christians fall in a trap and wallow in the mud they become an awful example of Christianity. And then the world is quick to point a finger and yell, “Hypocrite! Loser!” Score a point for the dark side. But we can still rise out of the muck with help from Jesus and real friends praying for us. A Christian who has tripped should not be looked down upon--they should helped back up.

I love the story of an African man telling a missionary how he handled the difficulty of living right. He said it’s like having a black dog and a white dog fighting within. When the missionary asked how could he help the white dog win, the man said, “I must feed it more!”

We must feed our spirit side more and more so our heart won’t rule our lives. The best way to do this is to read God’s word, the Bible. Then turn up the volume on your conscience, (your spirit) by praying daily. Strengthening our spiritual life will also keep us on the offense, watching for lions in the tall grass of our life. (Mark 14:38) Beware though…like a video game, the better we get at it, the obstacles seem to come faster and more often. (Jesus didn’t say it would be easy…just worth it.)

The race we’re in is not a marathon or Tour de France…but we are assured of a final prize when we reach the end. It’s a different type of training for endurance. You might even call it Cross-training. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

PS: Do you know who first said "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak? Check it out: Mark 14:38

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I love those makeover reality shows. Something about changing a hair color or wall color is so appealing to me. My most recent favorite makeover show even appeals to my hubby: Overhaulin’. This show is about a person’s beloved junk or project car that turns up “missing” one day. The team then rebuilds and repaints the vehicle and it turns into something the owners never would’ve recognized if they saw it parked in their driveway.

I think I know why those shows appeal to me. I am a Christian, and any story of redemption speaks to my soul. No matter how small the makeover, I see the gospel replayed over and over in so many different ways. This car makeover show speaks the redemption message the loudest.

Think about it.

  1. A family member or friend will send in an application, requesting the car makeover. (1 Timothy 2:1-7)
  2. They wait until the unsuspecting owner is not watching, and they take the old car—or even a car that is almost new—and whisk it away. (Matthew 24:43-44)
  3. The team then goes to work, stripping parts and checking to see how far the rust has progressed. Sometimes there are small areas to sand, other times they need a parts car that has a whole fender or front end and they replace it. A new design is revealed and paint is applied. The interior is reworked, with a sound system and gadgets galore. (Romans 8:28)
  4. The biggest change is under the hood—the engine is replaced. They actually pull out the old engine and replace it with a shiny new, revved up engine. It’s a resurrection of sorts for most of the cars, because none of them run very well, if at all. (Ezekiel 36:26)
  5. Finally the car is revealed to the owner and the joy is overwhelming for some. (Isaiah 44:22)
  6. They are astonished all this was done for them, at no cost. (Isaiah 52:3)

I love it when Jesus comes like a thief in the night and redeems someone. When He overhauls a person, He puts a new heart inside. He brings new life to souls that thought they were junk and worthless. He gives them a new purpose. (Revelation 21:5a)

Did a loved one send in an “application” to God for you? Do you feel a change coming on? Is that heart thumping inside you a drumbeat of change?

Being on the show Overhaulin’ is pretty amazing, except when the tax bill arrives. With God, there is no cost. Jesus already paid the price—taxes, tag and title. You come to Him as you are: beat up, rusty and no tunes. He will give you a new heart, a new purpose and a new song. (Psalm 40)

All you have to do is give him the keys.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have {it} abundantly. John 10:10

Monday, July 10, 2006

Eyes to See

We have a small wood plaque on the wall in our home. It is a piece of recycled pallet. The length is about from your wrist to your fingertips. The nail holes are still visible on one side, it’s sanded, stained and varnished. There seems to be black lettering carved into the wood, and it puzzles people. It’s always there; we never take down.

Most people see it and ask, “What is that, some kind of abstract piece of art or ancient text?” If you look at it quickly, it does resemble some kind of foreign letters carved on a piece of wood.

It’s an interesting optical illusion that sooner or later it comes up in conversation. Once someone takes it down and actually shows them the letters, it’s very clear. Most people focus too much on the black spaces, which is actually the space around the letters. It is the name “JESUS”.

Here's another example of the same type of optical illusion-->

What I find so curious is how easily some recognize it, and others still find it a challenge to see the letters at all, even after you show them. They keep trying to make sense of the dark space around the letters, instead of the actual letters themselves.

In the same way, I can see how some people consider the man Jesus a puzzle. Some see Him as some abstract thinker who died for nothing. Some see Him as some nice, Jewish Rabbi. And then there are some people don’t want to consider His existence because they can't get past the dark spaces in their lives.

If you sit down and really look at the name, study what He said, listen to the words of several witnesses, you might be surprised how much better you can “see” Him. He’s in the background of every conversation, waiting to be discussed. It’s all in the way you look at Him.

Do you consider Jesus a puzzle or the solution? John 20:29-31

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Father's Day

Man did I blow it on Father’s Day. We had a big Sunday dinner at our house, had 19 people with assorted kids…special food for the Dads, goofy cards, pranks and hugs. We had a great time visiting, watching the baby become one with her strawberry shortcake, and listening to the boys thunder in the backyard. By 11pm that night, I was exhausted and ready for sleep.

It was then I realized I forgot to call my own Dad. He lives in another town. It was one of those “life before my eyes” moments and all the times I let him down paraded by like a really bad reality TV show. The tears started to flow. My hubby tried to console me and said, “We’re Dads, we can handle stuff like that.” I sobbed.

I got out of bed and contemplated calling, but then thought it might cause more of an alarm at their house than soothe my conscience. I wrote an email apologizing, and then called the next day. My Dad was great. He needled me that he even got the card a day late; I could hear his forgiveness as we talked a while.

After I got off the phone I thought some more about this uncomfortable moment and saw a parallel to how we treat our heavenly dad: God. We don’t include Him in a lot of our life either.

Bill Cosby illustrates this phenomenon in a funny story about a Dad that plays catch with his boy in the yard, takes him to football practice, helps him train, goes to all his games, is there when he moves on to a college team, attends those games, then is sitting with his buddies watching his son play in a bowl game, and the camera zooms in on the boy after they win the game, and the boy says to the camera, “Hi Mom!”

We are so like that young man. We forget the One who put us on this earth, and the One who can take us out (another Cosby-ism). God stands by us when we trip in life, He’s there to pick us up and dust us off when facing our accusers. (John 8:1-11) He provides when we don’t plan for rainy days. (Matthew 14:13-21) How often do we call on Him by using His name in vain or to curse others, and yet He listens every single time we call, just in case we really do need Him. (Deuteronomy 4:7) I can imagine if God were the dad in Cosby’s story, His love would so overflow for his kid he’d turn to his buddies and proudly say, “That’s My son!” (Matthew 3:17)

Yes, my Dad taught me several good lessons. This one taught me it’s better to call him not just on Father’s day but any day and for no reason. He treasures our relationship, as do I. My heavenly Father agrees with that practice. The Bible says we are to “pray without ceasing”. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) I should talk to God all the time.

Because God is more concerned about a relationship, not a religion.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The other night we had a prowler at our bedroom window. I know this because he awakened me with his attempt to cut the screen on our window. The noise of me trying to wake my husband scared the intruder off, and we called 911.

The next day I made it my mission to meet our neighbors and warn them of this prowler. It was nice getting to know them, but I was ashamed it took a prowler to get me out and meet them. These are people that are very familiar with my gregarious son, but some had never met me after living there for 3 years.

The imminent danger to my neighbors is what pushed me to knock on each door. Every face I met was a bit surprised to see me standing there, but after I explained myself, they were very happy that I stopped by to warn them. One couple decided to get another dog. Other neighbors exchanged phone numbers with me. I even had a couple make themselves and their firearms available at a moment’s call.

I think evangelism keeps us inside our homes as well. It is an unwelcome task to some, bringing visions of Bible thumping grim reapers screaming, “Repent!”

As I learn more by reading my Bible and getting to know Jesus, I find there is an evil out there that lies in wait for us. It is like “a prowling lion, waiting for someone to devour”. (1 Peter 5:8) We sit inside our living rooms, peeking out the blinds and wondering if our neighbors know. What will it take to drive you to your neighbor’s door to meet them? Will it take some crisis in your house, or theirs?

Jesus had no fear of walking up to a person that never met him and asking them questions. Sometimes all it takes is a genuine, “Hi, how are you today?” to get a really deep conversation off and running. What is the worst thing that can happen? Are you afraid of getting your feelings hurt or much worse, are you afraid of getting labeled a Jesus-freak?

I may look over my shoulder now and then for the robber who tries to break in to steal, but I resolve to put on my spiritual armor and face the enemy who will rob my friends and family of something more important: eternity with God.

2 Timothy 4:1-5

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Planned Parenthood

A long time ago I had a conversation with a friend. We were talking about babies and how many we wanted. She wanted three. I was in my early 20’s and I remember saying I’d like four: 2 boys, 2 girls. (A brother for a boy and a sister for a girl.) It was a nice even number. My father came from a large family, and I loved going home to visit numerous cousins in Wyoming. I had plans of being the “kool-aid, cookie, and soccer” mom of the neighborhood.

As the years passed, and no child yet, melancholy set in. I started the infertility tests, the shots and waited. I started to shun baby showers. I ignored invitations. And when a new mom showed up at work with her bundle of joy, I could not find the strength to stay in the room, much less hold the child. Why should I even be allowed to cradle a child, when God would not give me my own? When someone dumped a child in my lap, it was pure torture. The questions from acquaintances felt like slaps: “So Kelly, when is it your turn?” and “Kelly, don’t you want to have kids?”

The worst was Mother’s Day Sunday. A place where I had felt so much comfort and joy turned into a black hole for me. For years I would not attend church on that Sunday.

1 Timothy 2:15 rang in my ears… “But {women} will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” Did I not have enough faith? Wasn’t I good enough as a person? I felt taunted with so many women around me getting pregnant by accident or by careful planning. Everyone was having children except me. And adoption? Forget about it. How could I even toy with the idea, when I felt I was not worthy enough to even hold another woman’s child?

I was approaching 30 and felt my clock ticking—more and more it sounded like a time bomb to me. Most of my prayers were tearful and I’d fling a fist in the air. “If you gave Sara a baby at her age why not me? Forget the four children, give me just one before I’m 30!” I buried myself in work. I volunteered at my church with one stipulation: no nursery duty, please! I worked with teenagers—I could relate to their feeling like an outcast.

God’s son Jesus didn’t give up on me. One day we were getting ready for a funeral and my friend who wanted three kids was there with her first baby. She had to duck out to the restroom, as did everyone else. I was alone with a sleeping baby in a carrier. As soon as her mother left, it was as if someone pinched that baby and she began to cry. I was frantic for someone to take over. That little child looked at me with big teary blue eyes as if to say, “Won’t you hold me? My mother has left me and I’m desperate to feel safe and loved!” My heart could not stand the cries so I unbuckled the child and held her close. I had not held a child in probably eight years. I felt something inside me break open and it was my turn to cry. The baby was a bit confused, but she was happy to be held.

That was when my prayers started to change from a fist in the air with tears; to an open hand…accepting whatever Jesus would give me. And I began to think about adoption. Jesus reminded me how many kids I had loved in my life as a youth counselor. I had even taken in one girl in to finish her senior year when her parents moved to another state.

It was a boot camp for me and my heart opened even more to other people’s children. So we did the paperwork and waited.

It happened so fast, we had a call around Christmas that a baby was on the way for us. It was so exciting to ready the room, to get our affairs in order. The first time I saw him was at the hospital. The nurses called him “Joshua” which means “the Lord saves”. I named him Jared Nathan, “inherited gift of God”. He had a scalp IV due to an illness, and where the IV’s had to go, his little head was shaved. So my son started life with a red Mohawk. He’s still a cool guy.

Just when life was perfect, my husband decided to abandon us. I was devastated that Jesus would give me this wonderful child and then allow my marriage to fall apart. How was I going to raise this boy all by myself? My parents were 4 hours away in another city, and I fought my pride to move back with them or accept help. My prayers were back to a fistful of tears.

So Jesus went to work on my broken heart again. He led me to a Christian singles group and good friends. I learned to seek Jesus in everything. I clung to Him since I did not want to do this alone. I don’t know how there was money left after bills, but He provided. My pride fell away and I received help from friends and family.

And then when I accepted this was how the rest of my life was to be, He literally put Tom on my doorstep. We married and Tom adopted my son. He already had a teenage son and daughter and I loved them instantly. Even his niece became like a daughter to me. Did you notice that number? Jesus literally restored my hope of a large family. (And no, He wasn’t done with me yet!)

Years passed and when Tom’s kids got married and had their first babies, I got to baby-sit one day. They splashed happily in a wading pool with my son watching over them and my niece’s baby. The giggles were nonstop and the water had to be constantly refilled because they splashed it out. I closed my eyes and listened to the laughter. I remembered another barren woman in the Bible who named her son Isaac, which means laughter. Then, Jesus seemed to say, “Kelly, open your eyes and tell me how many babies do you count in that pool?” I looked and counted my son, two grand daughters and a grand niece. I had my four babies. And I laughed.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Are you sitting down?

Did you think about the chair you are in right now before you sat down? My computer chair is one we bought at a garage sale. It was $5 and the adjustable height doesn’t work. It goes up with no one in it, but when you put your weight in the chair, it slowly descends.

Last weekend we found another couple chairs at a garage sale, the owners wanted $10 for two aluminum, forest green, wicker-like chairs and matching table. It was a pretty set, and the lady had enjoyed countless mornings sipping coffee on her front porch with them. They were moving to the country, and didn’t want to drag them along on the trip. She warned us about a crack in one leg, but assured us it had never let her or her husband down.

There was another chair story I heard of many years ago. A young lady was on church visitation with a group of eager students. They entered a mobile home and she asked the owner if he minded if she took a seat. With an OK, she grabbed a chair sitting off from the rest and started to share the gospel. The owner seemed enthralled with her talking. When she got up to leave, she asked him if he wanted to know more about her faith. He said he did, because the chair she had grabbed was broken and he hadn’t fixed it yet. He had put it aside because no one could sit in it without it dumping people.

Faith is a chair. We don’t know how strong our faith is until we sit in it.

Some of us have faith like the $5 office chair, it doesn’t seem to want to stay up. When it’s time to really test it, we feel the drop of altitude but it does hold and we get our work done.

Some of us have obvious cracks in our faith chair, and others will point it out to us. However, when the test comes, the crack does not get bigger and we bask in the sunshine—and those others that were so quick to point out the faults are amazed.

Then there are those with a faith that seems to have no cracks or let downs. They are very secure in their faith. When the test comes to sit in that faith, that person is oblivious to any danger that lurks nearby. They sit in a faith that others find hard to believe. It is this chair that beckons others to have a seat and rest a while. (Matthew 11:28)

Like that chair you sit in now. How do you know that chair will hold you? Because it has held so many times before. How do I know my faith will hold me? Because it has held after several tests through the years.

How is your Faith chair? Will it hold the next time you need it? Or will you find yourself sprawled on the floor, rubbing the back of your head? It’s those “broken” faith chairs that make the best impact (sorry for the pun) on people's lives. Because when we sit in our broken faith chairs, it is clear that someone else is holding it all together.

If you’d like to know more about a Carpenter who makes the best faith chairs, please email me:

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Adoption Option

I have never withheld the fact from my son that he is adopted. I have never let him forget that he was chosen—not an accident, not an illegitimate child or an unwanted life. I waited for him for 12 years, hoping and praying that he would come soon. And when he did, what a celebration! When I remarried, my husband gave my son his name and considers him the same as his children born to him. The law looks at him and he has the same rights as any biological child born into a family. His biological mother and grandmother wrote him letters that let him know he is loved and not forgotten. Some day they hope to see him face to face and see how much he has grown in their likeness.

If you are a Christian, did you know that you are adopted? (Romans 8:15) Did you know that you are not an accident, not illegitimate and that you are truly wanted? Did you know that you were chosen not 12 years ago, but before the world was made? (Ephesians 1:5) Did you also know that when we are welcomed into God’s family, we have the same rights as His son Jesus? How do I know that? Because God wrote us all a letter, letting us know that we are loved and not forgotten. And He writes that some day He hopes to see us face to face and see how much we have grown in His likeness. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

This week is the most important week of the year for Christians. If Christ had never fulfilled His promise of resurrection, we would be lost. The Good News is that Jesus is the lamb of the Old Testament. (John 1:29) He is the culmination of God’s great plan to reconcile His wayward children to Himself. (Romans 5:11) Without a sacrifice and atonement for the sins of the world, we could never be called “children of God”, because sin separates us from God. (1 John 1:8) We are God’s adopted sons and daughters. We have the same rights as His son Jesus, in fact when we admit that Jesus is the Son of God, our debt is paid in full. (Philippians 2:6-11) Our overdrawn account is washed clean, and we are welcomed into God’s family. (1 John 4:10) God will never disown, kick out or disinherit us. (Romans 8:38-39) And we will see the one who made it all possible some day when our bodies give out. (1 Corinthians 15:52) God has waited several years for you to come, how much longer are you going to wait? (Revelation 3:20) One day it will be too late. (Luke 17:30-37)

Will you claim your birthright as an adopted son or daughter? If you want to know more about joining God's family, email me:

Ephesians 2:4-10

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Bailing Wire and Nails

My grandparents settled on a farm near a small town in Wyoming. They were in a “subsistence farming” program, where you grew enough to support your family. The bit left over was sold to pay off bills and loans. Bolts and replacement parts were too expensive, so rigged pieces of bailing wire and strategically placed nails were sufficient until the next repair. Bailing wire was scarce for them, because they stacked their hay in the fields instead of making those compact bails of hay. What little bit they did have ran out, so barbed wire was used. My dad says that made repairs “a little more attention getting”.

Sometimes the repairs didn’t hold, like when my uncle George bailing wired the split clutch pedal together and it came apart on a tractor as Uncle Roy was driving it into the barn for repair. He didn't stop, and went through the back barn wall.

My grandmother had her own tools and had her sons pull nails and straighten them to be reused. Most times it was to keep the pigs secure in their pens and out of her garden. All work would stop and she’d call the boys in to mend the fence and get the pigs back in their place. She used nails to fix a lot of things; in fact I have an old dresser of hers. It still has a nail that secures a loose brass drawer pull.

Did you know God fixes things with bailing wire and nails? Since the first people on earth messed up in the Garden, He had a plan to repair that break between His children and Him. He sent His own Son to make the repairs, because nothing we could do would mend that gap in the fence. Jesus used a few nails, some wood, and to make the repair “a little more attention getting”, a thorny crown was used instead of bailing wire.

If you are tired of repairing the holes in your life and just getting by, pray this prayer:
Father God, I’m done with trying to run my own life. The repairs I’ve made aren’t holding, and the “pigs keep getting in my garden”. I believe you sent your son Jesus to save me and I want to ask Him to come repair my life. Thank you Jesus, for the nails. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

I encourage you to seek out a Christian friend and let them know that you prayed this prayer. I also encourage you to find a church family to join and learn more about how God has a plan for your life. If I can pray for you, please email: Welcome to the family!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Getting Lost 2

My pal and I were on a road trip in Atlanta one evening. We were attending a conference, and had purchased tickets to one of our favorite artists at the Fox Theater for that evening. We had our tickets, a yahoo map with directions and a rental car. I was driving, since my friend was +7 months pregnant. She was in charge of the directions. We were so excited…we had heard the Fox Theater was a beautiful old building, with a real stage, mood lighting and ushers. There were actually several artists listed, and we wanted to get to our seats and enjoy a rockin’ evening. (Jars of Clay and Jennifer Knapp)

We started out from the hotel in the rental car and my co-pilot dutifully read off each step of the directions. I took each exit she called out and made a turn at each intersection in the appropriate number of miles/feet/inches. We were so proud of ourselves: small town Florida girls navigating through the big scary city! We had heard so many nightmarish tales of friends driving through Atlanta. It was a piece of cake with those directions!

We arrived at our final turn, and looked for a sign that said anything about “Fox Theater”. Nothing. It was dusk now, and there was nothing that even remotely looked like a theater. She read back through the directions. We were bumfuddled.

It was when we were ready to try and back track that we saw the sentence in bold at the top of the online directions: “Address is not found, directions will take you to the center of the city.” I have to admit; it suddenly became one of those comedy movie moments when the two characters look at each other and yell, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!”

My heart felt like it went through the floorboards to the street. I don’t like getting lost, and this just seemed so intentional and sneaky. How did I not see that message? How were we going to make it to the concert? Would my friend go into premature labor? How were we going to make it out alive from the center of Atlanta?!

I was ready to make any promise to God to get us out of there. I was so glad to have my best bud and prayer partner with me. Otherwise, I would’ve been on the late news that night: Jane Doe Found Wandering Atlanta. My friend remembered seeing a hotel nearby so we drove there. She went to the front desk. I saw her speaking to the smiling clerk and she came out beaming. “We’re two streets away!” God was so good.

We made it before the lights went down, enjoyed the concert, got super directions from a friendly usher and made it back to our hotel room alive. What a night.

I have to ask you, what are you using for directions in your life? Are you navigating life with directions from someone who’s not sure how to get there? Are you following some theory or advice given to you by a trusted advisor, teacher or friend? My friend and I could’ve avoided this stress if we had simply gone to the source: the Fox Theater.

Have you tried to get some directions? God says he has a plan for your life, a plan to prosper you and not put you in danger. (Jeremiah 29:11) What is your Source for direction? May I suggest you try reading God’s map for your life instead of Yahoo? Because if ever there was someone who knows His way around this world, it’s the Creator.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dad wants to talk to you

One of the most exciting things about childhood development is realizing your baby has started to communicate with you. You might imitate the baby noises and babble back and forth, but if that is the only communication the baby hears, will the child ever learn to speak? So you try to get them to say “ma-ma” and “da-da”…and that first day when they actually repeat it, the parent/child bond is strengthened in a thrilling way. What if someone else taught them a different language, how could you even begin to communicate with them? Through the years, the more you talk to the child, the more they acquire your mannerisms, your vocabulary and your speech patterns. It’s a sweet fellowship between parent and child.

When we became Christians, we became God’s children—his sons and daughters. We already know how to babble, some of us can do that all day long! Prayer is conversation with God. Conversations are supposed to be two-sided. One person talks, and the other listens. After a bit, you switch places. It’s a give and take deal. How can we interact with God? Do I expect you to cup your ear and listen for an audible voice when it thunders? (Matthew 17:5 ) Do I think you should check your yard for any burning bushes (Exodus 3:1-6) or talking donkeys? (Numbers 22:22-28) How can we hear His voice?

God gave us a book full of His words, the Bible. It’s like reading a letter from a far away love. In those pages He tells you all about the plans He’s had for you since the beginning of time. (Psalms 139:13-16) He longs for a sacred romance or tender fellowship with His creation. How often do we make time to sit and read His word? In the time it has taken to read this blog, you could’ve read a few paragraphs in your Bible—and get to know your Creator, your heavenly Father. He wants to have a conversation with you. Did you realize you were created for fellowship with Him? Don’t have a Bible yet? Check out this website:

How is your conversation with God? Is it still excerpts of short rhymes you learned when you were small, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” Is it a honey-do list of things you want done, fixed or resolved? Or does it sound more like a last resort, a 911 call to heaven? What if you don’t have words because of the weight of grief or loss? What if you are so angry, you just want to shake your fist at the sky?

Check out some of the Psalms, those are prayers in themselves. Some are pure praise, some are laments or 911’s. They can prime that dry pump of yours. Don’t know how to pray? Jesus gave us explicit instructions on how to pray in the Bible. (Matthew 6:9-13 ) Speak some of His words back to Him. Just like you are thrilled to hear your child speak to you in words you’ve taught them, God is thrilled to hear you call on Him and interact.

Before reading a passage, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning to you. Then, read it once to familiarize yourself, read it twice to understand the context and meaning, read it a third time to hear His emphasis and hear that “voice”. Then, take the scripture that spoke to you and reword it, personalize it and speak it in prayer back to God. When my teenager repeats something his Dad said while in conversation with others, that tells me he learned it and has claimed it as his own information. Praying scripture is telling your heavenly Dad that you believe what He said and you will apply it to your life.

Beware that the enemy loves to try and feed us the wrong words. He is known as the accuser, and will come around trying to accuse us of being stupid, too busy, or it’s not worth the effort. He is known as the father of lies, and he’ll take scripture and twist it around so badly that the original truth is lost. So keep your Bible handy to make sure what you thought the Bible said is true. He’ll whisper trashy words to use when we’re angry, sad or just in a bad mood. One good thing to know is that he cannot read our minds and he cannot be everywhere. (1 Peter 5:8) Only God knows our hearts and is all around us. We need to replace that programming with God’s word and truth—a “reformatting” of the brain, if you will.

Just how effective do you think praying His word will be? Think about it. If God spoke the world into existence and Jesus healed with a word, can you imagine the impact this will make on your relationship with God?

So here’s your first word to learn, it’s abba. (Galatians 4:6) One of God’s names is not just Lord of Lords or King of Kings, but Abba. Translated, it means “father” or even better, it includes warm affection, closer to “dad”. (Actually, it’s pretty close to da-da, wouldn’t you say?) This expectant Father has been waiting a very long time to hear His children speak to Him. So what will you say? Will you try to speak in a language that you’ve learned from the t.v., well-meaning family, co-workers or the latest religious book? Or will you take the time, read His book, get used to His voice and have a real conversation every day? And then, when it’s His turn to speak, will you listen?

'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
Revelation 3:20

Saturday, January 28, 2006

God flirts!

When our Saturday night worship leader suggested the God flirts with us, I thought the spotlight had overheated his brain a bit, or he had been zapped by the sound system somehow and was a bit dazed. It was something to think about, so I did. For about 30 minutes. The next time it came to mind was about two months later…while on a trip to Wyoming.

I had not been back to my home state in several years…I basked in the glow of love from relatives that had aged more gracefully than I. The jet lag had me up in the wee hours of the morning. Unable to go back to sleep, I would read my Bible, pray and thank God for getting me there for the visit. Back in Florida, the temperature was going to be a lot colder where I was. In Wyoming, it was hovering around 50 degrees, and the wind blew incessantly. It felt like the tropical storm winds before hurricanes blew through—I could almost lean into them! I was a little sad that no snow was predicted at all that week, but I enjoyed the distractions of shopping, visiting and reconnecting with crazy cousins.

My last full day was a Sunday and I got ready for church. When I came into the kitchen, mom told me “We have a surprise for you!” I looked around, expecting a surprise visit from another relative. The people in the kitchen parted so I could see straight out into the back yard…SNOW! It was white and fluffy, and the flakes were as big as the corn flakes in a cereal bowl. I ran to the sliding glass door and took in the back yard. At least 3 inches of the fluff covered the picnic table, chairs and the grass that was so brown yesterday. I ran back to the kitchen and hugged my Dad, weeping with joy. What a mess I was. My Dad hugged me back and I could hear one of my Uncles say, “Funny we weren’t supposed to get snow, and it only happened in our area.”

It was then that I knew God was flirting. I could almost hear him say, “Here’s the day all dressed up in white just for you. Take your brother, and go have fun.”

I couldn’t get my jacket and mittens on fast enough. I grabbed my camera and went out the front door with mom. I think the first thing that hit me was how pristine everything looked. There were no footprints yet, no cars driving by. Everything looked like it was covered in frosting. There was no gusty wind like the day before. It was as if the day was one big sigh. The second thing I noticed was the sound, or lack of it. The white stuff had muffled everything, it was a soundproof yard where all you could hear where your own barking footsteps.

We left for church and I reveled at the sight of snow, scenes from Christmas cards rolled by…a farm with a frozen pond, snow laden trees, people wrapped in bright scarves and dark boots. After church I jumped into my ski gear my brother had ready for me. We drove up the mountain—and he didn’t tell me how bad the roads were until he put on his chains in the parking lot at the ski lodge.

With some difficulty I snapped the skis on and grasped the poles. Cross-country skiing for the Floridian novice…how hard could it be? Can you say marathon, with 15 layers of clothes? We found our route and my brother led the way. He was the expert and I followed, trying to keep my skis in his ruts he made in the snow. For a moment I closed my eyes and listened…I couldn’t hear the other people on the trail. It was just my brother and me, and God and he said, “Let’s go.”

Right, left, right left, my skis slid across the powder…my husband calls it “shussing”. After a few minutes I could feel the burn in my legs—it was going to be an interesting trip. It was so beautiful, I told God how amazing it was. The first hill we went down, my brother was way ahead of me. My knees bent, I pushed off at the top and coasted down…and I suddenly understood where the term “white noise” came from. The skis on the powder made this static noise that was very soothing in a way. Then I heard some thumps and looked around…the pine trees where getting so heavy with snow they were dropping their branch fulls here and there. I rounded the bend and caught up with my brother…the next thing I knew I felt a thump on my back and I was covered. It was as if God was saying, “Gotcha!” I tried to ski a little faster and the mini-avalanches stayed just behind me and the air was full of snow flurries. I felt like I was breathing white flakes.

Did I think God was flirting? Yes. He was saying to me, “I want you to remember that I am. That I have control over the weather and anything else and it’s time to trust me more. The plans that I have for you are not to harm you, but to give you a purpose and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) It’s time to press on, because it’s not just hot chocolate that I have waiting for you at the end of the trail…it’s Eternity.”

Luke 18:17 "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it {at all.}"

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Great Physician

I flew to Wyoming to visit family this week, and was surrounded by sniffling, sneezing seat mates on the airplane. I felt like I was in a cloud of germs and wanted to take a shower when I finally arrived at my destination. So many people are worried about germs…flu germs, virus germs, cold germs…humans almost duck when someone standing next to them sneezes. We do what we can to protect ourselves from those invisible attackers.

What is the first thing you do when you feel a cold coming on? Do you drink gallons of orange juice, eat zinc tablets like they are tic-tacs, pop vitamins, take that coughing-sneezing-aching-sleep-so-you-can-rest-medicine, walk in a cloud of disinfectant, clean random door knobs and finally, stay away from family and friends, thinking you don't want to get them sick? You put all this time and effort into this little invisible germ, just in case it MIGHT be there. You never see the germ, you only know its there because “it was going around” or “you had a tickle in your throat”. And yet, you would go to great lengths to avoid it.

Some people think “getting saved” is the same as “getting sick”. They think it’s an illness that can kill the “good life”, when the opposite is true. It’s a cure for a terminal illness: sin. (1 Corinthians 15:56) If I open my Bible in public, like on the plane, it gets very quiet. People suddenly become very small in their seat, almost willing themselves to become invisible. If I mention Jesus to some people, they visibly flinch like I sneezed in their face. I’ve noticed that when people feel “God coming on” they might deaden that feeling with alcohol, drugs or physical intimacy. Some disinfect their homes of any type of religious material; even go so far as to block channels on their tv. If a family member “gets saved”…they might be avoided because it “might be catchy”. And heaven forbid walking into a church, that would be like walking into a quarantine for some deadly disease without a hermetically sealed bio-suit.

Why do some think of finding Jesus is like catching an illness? There are even terms for it: Jesus Freaks, Holy Rollers, and Religious Hypocrites. The Bible says that Jesus is the Great Physician-not Typhoid Mario. (Mark 2:17) I happen to know for a fact that He specializes in Cardiology. I have not figured out yet why He does not heal some people physically. (That will be another post.) I do know for a fact that He never passes up a sick heart. When you ask, He can reach in and do an amazing transplant. He removes that rock hard heart that was deadened by anger, jealousy, promiscuity, drugs and alcohol, abuse or hate and replaces it with a new one that beats only for Him. (Ezekiel 11:19-20) For added measure, He adds a pacemaker of sorts: the Holy Spirit. (He beats that Energizer bunny hands down.)

If you are tired of running away or running your own life and you are ready for a dose of living-praising-overcoming-peace-so-you-can-rest-heavenly medicine, pray with me now:
"Father God, I am sick of breaking Your laws and having my sins separate me from You. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn from my past sinful life and move toward You. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that Your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my simple prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, and to perform heart surgery on me now. I want Jesus to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."
If you prayed this prayer and really meant it, God will begin a work in you that will change your life. And He won’t stop until He’s done. (Philippians 1:6)

What's the next step? Continue your complete recovery and ask God to direct you to a local church, so you can grow and learn more about this new life. I would love to pray for you, so please leave a comment on this blog or drop me an email. And don’t forget, Christians are recovering sinners…just because some of them have relapses to their old life doesn’t mean they’re hypocrites. It just means they’re still healing and they need a friend to help them get back on the road to spiritual health. Colossians 3:12-17