Monday, December 23, 2013

Dizzy Izzes

Here is my suggestion to omit from the slang phrase book in 2014: “It is what it is.”

This phrase has been one of the most irritating phrases to me this year. It smacks of surrender and submission—to the wrong thing. It has tied the hands and made more victims to circumstance this year than I can count. And it brings out the mama bear in me.

Finances? “It is what it is.”

Relationships? “It is what it is.”

Employment? “It is what it is.”

Legal problems? “It is what it is.”

This time of year prompts us to believe in miracles again. The promise prophesied for thousands of years to the human race trying so hard to be good enough. 

And I hear the devil laugh…“It is what it is.”

“But you don’t know what’s happened to me this year.”

I hear you…because I am tempted to speak those same words when I visit my son in prison or the bedside of a dying friend.

And I hear the devil sneer…“It is what it is.”

God takes your “is what it is” and will make something new and wonderful with it. He takes that pain, that sorrow, that fleeting happiness and turns it around into something that sustains, encourages and reveals where Joy blooms.

Yes, well my circumstances may not change, but my attitude towards it surely can. And as I seek more of His wisdom, I start to change.

He doesn’t leave you where you are. Like Mary, He takes you by the hand and supplies what you need if you just grab hold.

“But God doesn’t talk to people anymore like Mary, she was special.”

And I hear the devil mock…“It is what it is.”

God made you; He counts the hairs on your head. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. You are so precious to Him that He sent His child onto this earth as a baby—not a man on a charging horse to strike fear into hearts. He sent a helpless baby that would grow, and love and live a life that would be an exchange for our own lives.

That is the gift that He gives us. Jesus’ life for our own, every one of us.

Tired of that phrase yet? Let me give you a new one to say: “I am who I am.”

This one is a name, not a catch phrase. God’s name is “I am.” He is not God from Biblical times, He is not God from the Apocalypse, He is the God of NOW. He is active, alive and always ready to receive His children who are tired of the same ol’ “is what it is”.

Got “is” issues? Why not seek the God who is I AM? He speaks to people through His Bible, during prayer and through other Christ followers. Seeking Christ will give the devil a kick in the “is”.

Begin right here if you want.

And I hear the devil whimper…“It is what it is.”

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:13-14

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Herding Hurts

Every year about this time, I see him on my way to work. He's a little more bent, like the pipe in his teeth. He walks his companion--a border collie--who strains at the leash. Every quick movement catches her eye. And every fiber of her being wants to herd it, whether it's a squirrel, a leaf or a dump truck.

When I first saw this pair a couple years ago, he was leaning back and holding the leash with both hands. And with each passing car, she would circle him like a furry satellite. I would imagine the walk for him was draining by the time he got home. She needed to be off that leash in a couple acres of sweet grass with a few sheep to be truly happy.

This year he is more relaxed and she listens to his direction. When a person is talking to him, she lays flat on the ground and is still. When he is ready, she is up and moving.

I have been attending a group called Celebrate Recovery (CR) the past couple months. For years I have tried to bring others who I thought needed it. They would come a couple of times, then other things would pull them away. I realized, how can I ask someone to commit to something I have never walked through?

Most people think CR is for "others". The ones with addictions to drugs or alcohol. Those addictions are actually just numbing the deeper issues and CR deals with it all--layer by layer by layer. I realized you don't have to have a physical addiction to attend.

Like the collie scene I witness when the cool season hits, my "people addiction" strains at the leash. I want to herd everyone to where I think they need to be. I could be ready to "help" when the phone rang or advice was asked for. Some days found me nipping at my family's heels, or obsessing about a wayward child in the middle of the night. 

When I first started attending CR I enjoyed the singing and the lesson for the night. It was afterwards when we broke up into small groups that brought out that herding instinct. The rules for small group say that you have time to speak but when someone else is speaking, you must remain quiet. You cannot offer advice, help or tell them how you dealt with an issue. The first few meetings I had to literally sit on my hands as I listened to others pour out their sorrows and frustrations.

Later I found out you can speak to someone during the coffee fellowship afterwards. But I don't linger too long, because for now I find that a huge temptation to herd again.

God is teaching me to just listen and let Him draw them out. I needed discipline, to know when the right time was to fetch someone back into the fold. I have so much more to learn. And I have so many more people to love--not herd. I have stopped sitting on my hands. I listen while I doodle and I bring tissues. I don't strain at the leash so much anymore. Even when that wayward child calls.

The next phase of CR for me will come in January when we begin a Step Study. This is where I will start peeling off the layers of my people addiction and get at the root of it all. I am apprehensive at what I will find. But my Good Shepherd knows what's best for this woman who has been off the leash way too long.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.

Psalm 23:1-3 (ESV)

Friday, November 15, 2013


My granddaughter likes the “power of the pen”. She likes to draw animals on random family member hands with Sharpie pens. At our last family dinner, she was leaving her initials on those who were not quick enough to pull away.

“I’ve branded you. You are now mine.” Those eyes twinkled at me.

Her dad, who is studying to be a lawyer, was quick to use it as a teaching moment. “You have ownership now—that means you are now responsible for the care and feeding of everyone you just branded.”

When she realized that would include the care and feeding of her younger brother—she reconsidered her impromptu ink party.

When I think about branding, I think about my family tree and the cattle they had. They didn’t have GPS tags in their day—a hot brand was applied to the hide of a calf. That way, if the animal wandered away or was stolen, you knew which rancher they belonged to. Cattle rustlers would sometimes try to change the brand, but I have to think you could tell a fresh brand from the old original.

Jeremiah wrote down God’s words:

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV)

God doesn’t mark us with ink or hot branding iron. He engraves it on our hearts. This is how our spirit knows we are His. He has ownership and is now responsible for our care and daily bread.

When Christ returned to heaven to sit at the right hand of God, He left the Holy Spirit for us. That is also a seal, or brand, that every Christ follower bears. It is not physically visible like a tattoo or mark, but it is spiritually discernible.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV)

Haven’t you been around someone that seemed familiar? Later, after getting to know them, you find out they are a Christian and there is an immediate bond. Our spirit recognizes the seal on their heart. We know we belong to the same Shepherd.

It is a comfort to me, that if I wander outside and stray from God…I still bear His mark and I know He sends a rider out to find me and bring His lost sheep back. Even if I get buried in the world, all I need to realize is that I am His and there is nothing that will separate me from His love.

So stop wondering if it’s too late. You bear His mark on your heart. Why don’t you start home now and meet Jesus our Shepherd halfway?

Isaiah 43:1-7 (ESV)

1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.
5 Fear not, for I am with you;
    I will bring your offspring from the east,
    and from the west I will gather you.
6 I will say to the north, Give up,
    and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sweet Words

By now, the least favorite candy is picked through and reluctantly consumed. In my trick or treating days, it was the root beer flavored barrels and the taffy chews with the peanut butter center that remained. The chocolate was long gone. In fact, we sometimes didn't wait to get home for some--it was consumed while walking the Halloween sidewalks. With every doorbell and greeting, we'd check for that Hershey logo as it was tossed into our bag.

Then there was the house that always had homemade caramel corn balls. Which is a bad idea in Florida. By the time we got home, it was a sticky mess that attracted every lint molecule in the neighborhood--no matter how much plastic it was wrapped in!

Word would get around about which house has what. And the house with the party that left an honor system bowl? I pitied them for the tricks they endured when a not so honorable goblin took the whole bowl early in the evening.

Our pastor was talking about our words and how they are the fruit of our heart. What you say can be a clue to what is going on within.

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. Matthew 15:18 (ESV)

There are sweet words of encouragement or bitter words of judgment. Do you dole out kind words generously or do loved ones feel they need to jump through hoops to hear just one? You never know what's going on behind someone's mask. So before you speak, make sure it's something that is life-giving.

Beware of your words dear Christian. Like the unwanted trick or treat candy, you may have to eat them some day. Be sure that they are nourishing to the soul, not just a sweet treat that is gone in a moment. Consider them as treasures, to be shared in love.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lights On

It is an unspoken rule of Halloween--you don't ring the doorbell of a house with no porch light on. These people are either neighbors who had a party to attend, or someone who'd rather not join in on the festivities.

Heaven help the one who forgot and left their light on and then didn't answer their doorbell! It attracts all sorts of frustrated goblins during the night. They have been known to leave a few smashed eggs on the windows or t.p. draped in the trees.

Isn't it interesting how much promise a single light bulb could bring on a dark evening? The sticky-fingered super heroes, glass slippered princesses and grease-painted clowns spend hours of walking through neighborhoods, dragging a sack of candy that only grows heavier by the block.

We live in a dark world these days--we could use a few more porch lights on. So many people are searching for sweet words to carry in their own heart sacks. Why do we lock ourselves away in our homes and refuse to answer when someone comes knocking?

Some people seem to have all the signs of welcome to those seeking. But once the threshold is crossed and the Lost in their self-made masks come tapping on their door it remains tightly shut. The world seems farther away through that peep hole. It's scary to open your heart to someone who seems so different from you! (But you know, underneath that mask they're just as scared of you as you are of them.)

Meanwhile, the Lost in this world walk back into the dark with empty hearts--with no sweet taste of His Word, His love, His Grace in their life. Only the bitterness of apathy that erodes the hope of the next light that beckons.

A wise pastor once told me, "When you evangelize the prepared for them to show up. They may not look or talk like you, they might not even smell like you. But they will show up and it's up to us to love them."

So be brave dear Christ-follower...and when someone is drawn to your flickering faith, don't be alarmed. God wants you to be the His treat in someone's tricky life.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I was barefoot in the kitchen when my glass full of ice hit the tile floor. I had misjudged the counter's edge by the width of a drinking glass. It hit the floor inches from my toes and scattered a large radius with blue shards and ice cubes.

From experience, I knew better than to do the dance of avoidance and risk getting cut. Those slippery splinters stopped dancing after a few seconds and I remained still to survey the debris field. My husband had heard the crash and knew better than to run in sock-footed. He went to get the broom and dust pan while I backed to the edge of the kitchen.

We started on the outer edge and swept our way to the center, coaxing those sapphire slivers into a glittery pile. The larger pieces I gingerly plucked with my thumb and finger, careful not to press on the razor edges and tossed them into the garbage.

When it seemed clear, I did one more cleanup with a damp paper towel with a better vantage point from my knees. This snagged sand sized glass that would deliver sneaky foot punctures.

I found a bit of melancholy there as well...this was one of the glasses from a set my mom purchased for our home before she died.

When life seems to shatter at our feet, how do we handle it? Do we dance around, trying to avoid the flying debris of broken dreams and hearts? Or do we sweep them under the carpet, only to find them resurfacing at inopportune times? Do we tip toe around the shards and ignore the pain waiting to immobilize our walk in life? Or do we survey the damage and go right to work...with loved ones stepping in with just what we need? Do we work our way around the edges, gathering the pieces as we kneel in prayer--not missing a fragment that skittered away into a dark corner?

I realize the only way I'll get that glass put back together is if I was a glass blower. No amount of super glue will restore that drinking glass. The same goes with the crises in my life. The only One I can turn over the pieces to is God. He is the creator of this earthly vessel and He is the only one who will make something amazing out of the shards of my life.

But I have to be the one willing to get to work and pick up the pieces first.

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you.

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.
Psalm 34:17-19 (MSG)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dried Fruit

The Fall season is here, and instead of colored leaves in Florida, the produce section is showing the signs of autumn. Pumpkins, nuts and dried fruits are more numerous than the pineapples and watermelons.

I had some dried apricots the other day and really enjoyed their concentrated flavor. I was amazed that an apricot could be condensed down into such a tasty morsel. Cooks like to use dried fruit because they store well--dried fruit doesn't rot because moisture is absent and bacteria cannot take a foothold. The leathery fruit can be "revived" with different liquids besides water--fruit juices and liquor.

I got to thinking while munching on my apricots and toasted almonds the other day and applied this concept to the "spiritual fruit" mentioned in the Bible.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)

I wondered, could that be one reason why some Christians complain of a "dry season"? Could God actually be withdrawing Himself for the reason of preserving or concentrating a specific spiritual fruit in our life?

I thought of Moses and his ministry...he had killed a man just after he started to step into the leadership role of the Israelites. God sent him into the wilderness. This was no evergreen retreat with babbling was a rocky, arid wilderness where water had to be pulled up from deep wells. For 40 years he was hung out to dry before God spoke to him and called him into action.

Then the grumbling Israelites that Moses led to the Promised Land...they longed for the abundant waters of the Nile, the cucumbers and fruits from the irrigated land in Egypt. They wanted to turn back and figured slavery was better than what God had to offer. And again...God led them into a serious drying time in the desert, another 40 years!

Before Jesus went into ministry, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness...but not for 40 years. He had no sin to be dealt with. He was there for 40 days and He was tested by satan. I wonder if Jesus felt like God had abandoned Him for a time?

I want to give you hope during your own "dry time" with God. After searching your heart and making sure there is not some unconfessed sin in your life, maybe God is working on some dried fruit with you. How's your patience lately? And your self-control, is it doing well? What about your joy, is it present during the day?

When you have waited on God for a season, how is that fruit of patience? And how much more joy is there when you have years of silence shattered by news of God's joy coming round the bend? Our kindness can become so much sweeter when we experience the dust of apathy--the trick is not to allow your fruit to become bitter.

When we tend our garden properly with prayer and confession, we harvest sweet spirit fruit. Then, when the Lord withdraws and His presence seems to be drawn from our souls with a thunderclap--get ready! Your spirit fruit is being condensed, preserved and room is being made for His Living Water to revive it into a more intense experience.

He will pour out His Spirit and Living Water into and onto your life again. And oh how sweet and intense that fruit will become!  Just promise me you won't make fruitcake with it.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Psalm 34:8 (MSG)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Barefoot 2

Summer is coming to a close and our feet have been free from boundaries. Ever since the jump of the thermometer I have painted my toenails and savored the grass and even gravel under my feet. Now with autumn on the way, I look at those winter shoes and know that they will feel tight.

It has been 4 years since my last post about being barefoot. It is indeed a physical manifestation of a spiritual change...when you have put your mind toward seeking God, He removes the boundaries of your "walk". Like Moses, the sandals are off because we are on Holy Ground.

Have you ever noticed when you injure your foot (usually a toe or two) that your walk is immediately affected? People notice and will ask, "What did you do?" If you injure a finger or bonk your head, it's not immediately visible. But your feet...they are where the world touches your life and it shows if something is going on.

If you have ever caught your pinky toe on a chair, you know what I mean. That little appendage rules the whole body and sets you into writhing and spouting unintelligible language. Time stops for that tiny ruler on your foot and all means of placating it are put into action: ice, elevation and aspirin. The pinky toe is a master at stopping people in their tracks. Sometimes it is best to keep moving, the pain subsides a little more quickly that way. Focusing on the pain sometimes magnifies it.

Once I stepped on a wasp barefoot. Let me tell you, they are sneaky little devils hovering in the grass. When you find one with the soft arch of your foot, it's like stepping on an electrical wire. The jolt to your system is immediate and you look for that sizzling copper wire jutting from the ground, only to see a black wasp zipping away into the sky. Unlike honeybees, wasps will live to sting another day. Even a dead wasp can sting you. Some people find this life threatening and if they don't receive immediate medication, they can suffer anaphylactic shock and die.

So how's your walk lately? Have you frolicked in the sun barefoot and boundary free, enjoying the time you've set aside for building your spiritual walk? Or have you been sidelined with an injury that seemed to come from nowhere? Did that injury come from a clumsy move that splayed your life into a painful turn? Are you too focused on the pain? With Christ you will get through it. The trick is to keep moving forward with Him.

Beware of the spiritual wasps in life. It's not the trips and falls that are dangerous to your walk. The Bible talks about the sting of sin. (1 Corinthians 15:56-57) Much like a wasp, sin has a sting that can lead to death. And hanging on to that sin, it will only continue to sting and put your life in danger.

Time to let go what's bugging you dear reader. Let's walk in that pasture with our Shepherd and beware of the sting that waits in the cool grass. I have people to hold me accountable to my you? Maybe it's time. Summer is ending and a new season is arriving.

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 (NASB)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Beauty Secret

The World is an annoying suitor. He is pushy and thinks he knows what is best for you.

Can I tell you about two beautiful ladies who avoided his advances and discovered the Love of their life?

The first one is Lilly. I met her for lunch the other day and was struck by her radiance. You see, she had just returned from a missions trip--her FIRST--to Africa, to South Sudan! The glow about her was unmistakable. She had changed.

Later, I was able to put what I saw into words. She had the look of being in love for the first time. You see, she had answered the call of the Lover of her soul to come away with Him to Africa. There, Lilly found herself pulled out of the American barrage of "buy this, eat this, take this and you'll feel better". Instead, she saw the clear night skies with jeweled heavens that pulsed with God's glory. She met curious children and babies needing to be held and plenty of people who needed her smile. She was tasked with menial jobs at a clinic and felt like she could do anything for God.

She discovered who she was in Christ out there in the quiet heat and my friend blossomed in the desert.

The other lady is Ann. She retired from about 30 years in a cubicle office accounting job. Surrounded by numbers and bills, she made sure checks made it out on time and things balanced. This delightful lady also answered a call to her soul. (You are never too old to fall in love with God.)

This friend was not going overseas, but to some people she might as well be. Her call was coming from prison--to minister to those the enemy has locked away. When I saw her stop by work the other day, the glow was so evident on this lovely lady as much so that it had erased many years from her smile. She shared all the Savior had led her to in just one week of retirement--she was simply giddy and giggly and beautiful.

Christ is a patient suitor. He calls our name and waits for an answer. He bids us to come to Him with what is in our hand and heart. And He takes it, breaks it open and lets loose an amazing soul-perfume that draws others to Him as we work in His will. You could be a Mom doing dishes or a woman counting pills in an African clinic...He is in it all if we just let Him. (1 Corinthians 13)

He is not like the World that chases us with offers of finer things, fancy cars, better jobs or titles. Once the World catches someone, they find themselves tied to something that practically sucks the life out of them. The promises fade into tattered lies and they waste away in dead end jobs or "the next big deal".

Some chase the Hollywood camera only to find a trap door to a glass house that has no privacy or peace. The only comfort they do find is in numbing the pain with medication, alcohol, or worse. Sometimes that camera is a carrot that leads them to selling more than just their image on a magazine cover.

Still, even for them all is not lost. Jesus calls them as well! As long as you are breathing, there is still time to answer His call on your life. What are you waiting for? The invitation has been given. (Matthew 11:28)

The best beauty secret I know is to step into the will of God for your life. Christ is calling, and is waiting for you to come away with Him. Where do you think He will lead you? I guess you'll never know until you answer.

If you find the World standing there instead, with his rumpled suit, convenience store flowers and an offer to take you away from "all this". Tell him, "No thanks. I'm already taken...for eternity!"

Better yet, let Christ answer the door.

My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away,
 for behold, the winter is past;
    the rain is over and gone.
 The flowers appear on the earth,
    the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.
 The fig tree ripens its figs,
    and the vines are in blossom;
    they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away.

Song of Solomon 2:10-13 (ESV)

Friday, May 10, 2013


I had a puzzle lay itself out for me the other night at Bible study. We are currently working on Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts and we had hit the chapter entitled "Trust: The Bridge to Joy". It was a difficult discussion, with admissions of roadblocks, hindrances and hobbled aspirations.

One of my childhood fears has been bridges. I bear a physical scar from taking a plunge off a mountain footbridge head first. I had trusted the man-made railing and leaned heavy as I was antagonizing my cousins below. They were catching minnows in the rocky pools. In one moment, the railing gave way and I landed in the creek.

Seventeen stitches later I said goodbye to the enjoyment a bridge could bring.

Later years brought anxiety and stress in a simple drive over causeways, suspension bridges and even lookouts on mountain ranges. My knees would go rubbery just getting near the edge. That sense of falling was at the back of my throat, waiting to squeal.

During the study another memory came forward...Gym class and the balance beam. It actually made me look forward to PE. I loved to walk the narrow plank and in remembering, that old fear tried to shout it down.

How could a young girl who had no trust of bridges walk on a narrow piece of wood? My memories were pure delight in jumping on that beam, perching, learning a twirl or leaping. How was that possible?

The thing that I learned about a balance beam is that your eyes need to stay focused at the end of the beam--the end of the walk. If you looked on either side, or your feet, you would start a domino effect and the flapping of arms and a flailing dance of balance would begin.

If I could keep my eyes on my destination, with practice, I could do so many things on that one plank bridge.

When I look back and see where I have fallen, many times it was when I trusted in man's railing--my own pride or putting trust in someone who was simply a fallen human.

I remember another from the Bible-Peter. He too stepped out to walk a difficult path. He saw Jesus out on the water and said, "...if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

And so the walk began with Jesus beckoning. Amazingly Peter walked on water, but there was a storm. And once he started to look at the waves and how high the water was on his feet, he started to sink. You see, Peter took his eyes of his goal: Christ. And he sunk like a rock.  In a desperate cry he was able to get some words out and asked Jesus to save him.

Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” Matthew 14:31 (MSG)

If I continue my walk--and it is a narrow one--and I keep my eyes on my Goal which is Christ Jesus, then I can do anything on the narrow beam of life.

The puzzle completes itself and there is Joy in that discovery.

People will eventually let you down, they crumble sometimes under pressure and can barely keep their own selves above water. Why not trust in The One who will drop everything and grab your hand and keep you from falling?

Time to leave man's bridge and put one foot in front of the other on that narrow beam. Don't take your eyes off the goal or you will fall. That goal is Christ and He calls you to step out to JOY!

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

About Dot

She was about as tall as her nickname was short. She was about as abrupt too--she had to be sometimes. She was a cancer survivor and didn't want to waste time fiddlin' in her 70's. You could always count on Dot to tell it like it was.

She was a transplant from up north that had lived her long enough to be considered a native. She told stories of riding horses in to another town before the highway was put in.

She managed her small parcel of land from the seat of a riding lawnmower. I knew she was feeling pretty spry when I heard that engine running next door.

When she replaced her fence, she kept the neighbor gate between our houses. My dog would wait there patiently while I hung out the laundry. He knew she would be there with a treat and a pat.
Every once in a while my phone would ring--and she'd ask to meet me at that neighbor gate. She'd be there with a smile and a pie, or extra of whatever she was busy making that day.

Ever since her "guardian" dog Katie passed away a few years ago, I sensed a little more sadness in that smile. She  walked a little more slowly and that mower took a little longer in the yard. She would never admit getting attached to a dog, but I do believe she missed that poodle-ish dog. Oh how she would complain about her barking--but she was the best watch dog Dot ever had.

And then there was Fred...We were introduced to him as "Fred--he's just a friend". From then on when we saw that truck pull in  we'd know that Dot and "just a friend Fred" were working on a project for her house, the pond or the yard.

One time, after a particularly busy hurricane season, my sister in law stopped by to visit and mentioned that Dot was on the roof. I ran out to see Dot--with pink curlers in her hair--and Fred, patching up some loose shingles on the roof of her house. When I begged her to come down off that wet roof, she assured me she was almost done. When I told her she was scaring me up there she just laughed and waved me off like a fly that was interrupting her work.

I am going to miss my dear neighbor with her rumbling lawnmower, the air gun pops taking out vagrant squirrels and her generosity of baked goods. But most of all I will miss her heart.

Once she asked me where my son was. Expecting to hear about a move or college, I shared that he was in prison for a while. My eyes welled up and she smiled. She then shared that her son was also in prison and she gave me the best advice.

She said, "Remember Kelly, at least we know our boys have a roof over their head and somethin' to eat. And we'll never worry about where they are." I thank God for my neighbor, she helped me get through one of the roughest patches of parenthood.

To make sure she knew she was loved, I asked her one day last year if she knew Jesus. It was like I was asking if she knew we were in Florida. She had given her life a long time ago to Jesus at a Baptist church.

So like my son, I know where Dot is today and I don't have to worry about a roof over her head or if she has enough to eat. She is with our Father in Heaven...and I like to think Katie and just a friend Fred were waiting patiently at The Gate for her.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:34-35 (NASB)

Monday, March 11, 2013

About God

After a short study on the Song of Hannah in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 2:1-10), I felt my own Psalm welling up in my is the overflow:

My heart hears the Lord and amplifies His voice in my life
He echoes through my day in one word or thousands, in whispers or in song

I am more brave to my enemies because I hear the shout of His battle cry as He goes on ahead to fight for me
He blesses me with His presence; I feel my spirit respond in goose bumps or adrenalin
I have joy that is hard to contain

He is the saddle on my galloping life, the harness as I dangle on a zip line…
He is the steel between me and a semi, the light switch in a dark and unfamiliar room…
He is my safe place, my shelter from the enemy’s acid rain

I take care how I speak, because I feel my every word in His scales
My words can create pain or comfort
I discard the heavier ones from my mind before they slip from my mouth—sometimes not fast enough!

He heard my prayer for children and has given me so many more children than I could ever bear in childbirth—He continues to bless me with more

My God gives and takes away, He humbles and promotes, He creates as He wants and burns away what He doesn’t.
There is not one that can change my God; He has His own ways that will continue to multiply the questions in my mind.

He is a Holy mystery that cannot be deciphered by His children—but will be revealed to them soon.

The weakest are first, honored and protected.
The evil are hobbled in their own darkness.

He will judge the world one day, may He find me still praising His name no matter what my situation. 

O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.
Psalm 34:3 (NASB)

Friday, February 08, 2013

Inconvenient Mirrors

We've all been accosted by them--those reflective ninjas of glass. They surprise us in the early morning with bed head and pillow case wrinkles. They stalk us in the department stores with 15ft pillars that compare us to nimble mannequins...and when we're our most vulnerable, in the dressing room with their dreaded three-sided assault.

The one that I hate the most is that forgotten mirror hanging in a dark room. It is stealthy like the closet bogeyman. I think I see movement, flick on the light and invariably scare myself.

I have found another type of mirror, a spiritual one that God uses on me when I least expect it: difficult people. I try to avoid them most of the time like that 3-sided dressing room mirror.

They say you always notice your flaws in a mirror, maybe that's why we don't like difficult people. They reflect a part of us we'd rather not like to admit we have. Can you pull a sweater over puffed up pride? Can you retouch a snide remark with a dash of powder? Yes, what they do bothers us...but don't we do the same things around other people?

I have discovered that I can either try and cover up that part of me God wants to work on, or I can gaze intently at that flaw and say to myself, "Honey, that's gotta go!"

We are made in the image of God. We are tarnished, foggy and yes our frames are a bit wonky...we are in need of His polish so we can see Him better in our life instead of our own spiritual bed head!

It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. Luke 6:42 (MSG)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Feathered Friends

I commute to work every day. Along with the usual cars and trucks, I see wildlife now and then. There is a section of highway that seems to have another level of traffic on it. About 40 feet in the air, there is a continuous stream of birds. They are going one way in the early mornings, and back "home" to roost in the evenings. It's many of them and all heading in one direction-like being pulled by a tractor beam.

When I mentioned this to my husband he told me they were heading off to where they feed. I told him I thought there must be a great body of water or something for so many birds to feast on. He said, "Nope, just the dump."

My serene visual of a special bird sanctuary with lovely trees and waterways went up in feathers. The dump? Really?

On another highway trip, we were off to dinner out and we were driving by a huge area of marsh. The marsh grass went all the way to the horizon with dots of palm trees here and there. As I was talking about the day, I started to notice a motion in the air.

As I focused my computer-weary eyes, I noticed hundreds if not thousands of tiny wrens...dipping and weaving like a feathered school of fish! They had to be catching bugs--hopefully mosquitoes--and there were myriads of them! How they avoided mid-air collisons I'll never know. It was a sight to behold. There seemed to be pure joy in the flick of each wing.

Where am I going with this one? Well with it being January and a new year, and after just turning 50, I find myself thinking about where I'm going these days. What does my spiritual flight schedule look like? Am I following the crowd to the dump every day? Do I put up with stuff that really should'nt be in my spiritual diet? Or have I found joy in my natural habitat, feasting on His word...caught up in the flight of faith with others?

By the end of 2012 I have found myself making a u-turn in the mornings. I like what my pastor said the other day, "No Bible, no breakfast!"

So join me dear reader...shut off the morning tv news, put down the newspaper, turn off the radio and feast on what the Heavenly Father has for us. Because after all, He knows just what we need!

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
Matthew 6:26
New American Standard Bible