Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Winter frost creeps up the windowpanes with icy fingers, trying to break in to the warm, grace-filled home.
The cold can cut straight through to the bone if you let it.
The hardness of winter  - frozen solid ponds, ice crystals stinging rosy cheeks, icicles hanging from brittle roof.
Winter is hard.  Winter is cold.

So, when did I let winter enter my heart?

I remember as a teenager walking along the streets of Philadelphia and seeing my first homeless man.  How my heart ached!  How I wanted to help him up off the steaming sewer grate and take him someplace warm and give him warm clothes and a little money or food.  Do something - not just watch in shock. 

I was confused when I reached for my wallet why my parents put their arms around me, as if to protect me, and whispered "Don't look at him. . . "  Then we continued our walk to the Liberty Bell as if nothing happened, as if no one were there, as if we didn't care. 

Yet the man remained alone, no one willing to stop, no one willing to take five minutes out of their day to ask about his, no one willing to care.

Not even me.  A girl who claimed to love the Savior who gave up His life to die for the hurting, sinning humanity of us all.  A girl who said she wanted to be like Christ.  The same Christ who shunned the rich, religious ones and ate with the prostitutes, thieving tax collectors, and sea worn fishermen.

I did nothing.

And that is when it began.  The winter crept into my soul, and I didn't even know it.

I learned that it is much easier to look the other way than to bend down and speak.  I learned there are schedules to keep and things to do, so we must occupy our time with those important things of life.

I learned apathy.

The wonderful thing about our Lord is that He made four seasons, and the winter does not last forever.
Spring comes.  Spring melts.  Spring brings new life.

So the cold, hard bitter winds that had me so bound unto myself are now gone.
But not all at once, the thaw comes slowly. 

When I choose to give or love or care another icicle falls, another window clears and I can see the hurting world out there.   The ones who maybe just need a listening ear, or some groceries, or some money to pay the heating bill.

I pray this cold heart will thaw quickly, so that I can see and help those in need and more importantly tell them about a man I know. 
A man who loves to sit quietly with the poor of this world. 
A man who loves to laugh and break bread with thieves and liars. 
A man who loves to forgive.
A man who loves to save - Jesus.

Monday, January 17, 2011


There are few people whose words can inspire so deeply that I am moved to action.
By nature, I tend to take the easy road.  Less is more, my thoughts suggest.  I'll finish that another time. . .
But I forget that time is my gift.  Time is the root of life.

The moments, that make up the hours, that make up the days, that make up years, are lost or found in time.

What am I doing with my moments? 

Well, I have been inspired to use my moments well, in gratitude, in thanksgiving, and in praise.

So I will begin my list.  Writing down what my heart breathes.  Giving voice to the quiet spirit within.

I AM THANKFUL for. . .

1.  A broken Savior who died for my blackest of sins.

2.  The Word by which I know Him.

3.  A Father who sees me for who I am and loves me anyway.

4.  The oneness of marriage.

5.  My sweet and precious children.

6.  Red-haired, curly headed boys with chocolate eyes and arms full of hugs.

7.  Growing, independent little girls who help and chatter and love.

8.  Baby boys with sky blue eyes and a rascal smile who whisper "I lub you."

9.  A home.  A refuge.  A growing place for our family.

10.  Cold night skies with constant stars.

11.  Ann for her words of wisdom and inspiration.

Thank you Lord.  For you are the Creator and Sustainer of all things.  I give you praise, for it is in you alone that we "live and move and have our being."


Thursday, January 13, 2011


"For now we see in a glass dimly, but then face to face. . . "

Our new calendar this year shows pictures of the Holy Land. . . where Jesus walked.
Where holy feet touched dusty earth, and sovereign hands held broken bread, and Savior eyes gazed at golden sunsets. 

The picture for January shows the sunrise above the Dead Sea.  It's name holds meaning, in that there is no life under its rolling waters.  The salt, the minerals, the heavy things of earth have so filled the sea that it cannot sustain the living.  It has taken and taken and given nothing, so it bears the name of death.

The waves upon the sea (in this scene) are moving quickly, so as not to reflect the beauty of the sunrise.

You have seen those beautiful photographs of a mountain towering above a quiet lake and the reflection of the snow capped vista is so pure you can see every shadow and ridge and tree.  But, not so when the water rises and crests and rolls. 

Am I the lake or the sea?  Does my life teem with so much busyness and doing that I fail to reflect the beauty of the Lord?  Do the things of this world fill me, so that the seed of the Gospel has no place to grow?  Is my life so hectic that one can barely make out the glory of God that lives inside?  Do I ever take time to "be still and know" for in the stillness, He can be seen.  Am I known by death or life? 

In the questions, we can reflect and learn and grow and change.
May my life find the stillness to reflect His love.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Someone once said, "love is not a feeling, it's a choice."

Do I choose to love?
Even when it's hard.

Even when the little one comes crying into the bedroom during dark night hours.
Even when curly headed boys complain ALL DAY long and throws tantrums to get his way.
Even when the baby pulls hair and bites hard. 

Do I choose to love?

Am I "bearing all things" with patience, kindness, and understanding?

We are tested in the heat of the moment.
The fire of life refines or burns

Do I look at those blessed gifts and treat them with gentleness or harsh, angry frustration?
Does self-preservation rise or do I nurture their sweet spirits?

Do I choose to love?  The Savoir did.

Even when He looked down from heaven's heights and saw brothers killing brothers.
Even when lying words and slanderous whispers filled the air.
Even when abandoned children and crying widows filled shadowed streets.
Even then. . .He loved. And left. 
To come to us.  And show us His love.

So with outstretched arms, in breathless embrace, He laid down His love, and laid down His life, for us.
For the rebellious, complaining, sin-clothed children.
He loved even then.

So my words are mute.  My cries are silenced by the greatest love of all.

Let me not focus on the wrongs, but on the love.
And may my life be the tiniest reflection of that grace filled, peace robed love.
May I choose to love.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Follow Me (again)

A few days ago we talked about how the Word made flesh calls us to follow.
So we do.  We walk in his ways a couple of turns around the sun.  We wake on morning wings to soak in the breath of God through His sweet Word and pray and live in the Spirit.

But then distractions come.  Children whine or bosses complain or life crashes.

And you forget to follow.

And the forgetting births unintended sorrow.  Sorrow brings frustration and before you know it the old habits are back.  The old man peeks from behind the corner and takes over again. 

Why do I always do this?  My intentions are so pure!  I want to serve and live and abide in Christ, but its just so hard sometimes. .  . excuses say.

Thorns.  It's the thorns that choke and pull and tug us down to the earthly cares. 

The seed is planted and the love wants to grow and reach up hands toward heaven to praise and sing and seek.  The growing comes and we feel so alive, so fresh, so impassioned. . .

But then the looking up changes to the looking around.  Circumstances demand our attention, people question our motives, the enemy wins again.

Peter did this.  When Jesus left his sight, for just a few hours, he started looking around - what do they think?  Will I suffer because I know Him?  And he fell, and he stumbled, and he denied he knew his Lord.

The story does not end with his (or our) failure.  Oh no, the Lord does not leave him Saviorless. 
He makes something beautiful from our stumbles.

"'I'm going out to fish,' Simon Peter told them."  Going back to what I know, to what I'm good at.

"But that night they caught nothing."  Sounds familiar.

Then, a voice in the distance, someone asking about their fish. 
"No, we haven't caught any," they reply.

"Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some," he says.

It's worth a try.  Obedience is always worthy of our efforts.
The nets are full and overflowing with fish.

And then they know.  Their Savior is back.
He's back to where He found them, where He called them, where they first saw the light and FOLLOWED.

Peter dives in with heart and soul to swim back to the Saving One.

He's making breakfast on the shore.  He's feeding their souls.  He is the Bread of Life after all.

"Simon. . . do you truly love me?" Jesus says. . .three times.

"Yes, Lord You know that I love you," Peter responds. . . three times.

"Feed my sheep,"  the Master says. .  . three times.

The thrice failing disciple, thrice restored.  This time with a goal, not just to follow but to work for the kingdom.   Not just to listen and learn, but to lead, to shepherd the weak, seeking ones. 
We must follow our Great Shepherd, but there comes a time when we must sow and reap and care and feed.  For we are the hands and feet of the Gospel.  It is by our good works or lack thereof that people will see the Savior. 

Perhaps that is why we fail over and over.  We are content in our walking and don't seek the next step.

So let us follow and faint not, and care for the lost.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


What a simple thing to talk about, especially when it’s about others who need to forgive. Very theological, you know speaking on forgiveness. But when it comes calling on your door, when bitterness of heart has lived there far too long, when it’s that person, sometimes it’s a different story. Oh, how much I need to forgive, to let go and let freedom give wing. And all the more I reflect on how I need forgiveness, for my awful thoughts, my piercing tongue, my hard heart. Let it come easy, let it wash down on me and clear away all the grime and saturate my soul. Forgiven so that I may forgive. Free to free others. Clean to share this purity.

Help me Father, do as You have done for me.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Follow Me

"Jesus called them and immediately they left the boat. . . and followed Him."  Matthew 4:21-22

He calls.
They listen. 

And two weather worn, sea soaked, harbor hardened men drop their knotted nets and follow. . .
Dropped their nets.  Let go of their lives.  Stopped the striving.  Just to follow.
To follow the greatest soul catcher of all time.

Luke tells us the same story, with a bit more detail.  Jesus had just finished teaching the crowd from Peter's water worn vessel.  The tired men listened and mended, after being up all night fishing with no catch to call their own.

"Put out into deep water, and let the nets out for a catch,"  Jesus says simply.
Sore backs and weary arms protest, "We've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything," Peter replies and sighs deep, looking to the teacher for a way out.  The Master, silent. . .just waits.

"But because you say so, I will let down the nets," reluctant words spill from Peter's mouth.

Moments later, gasping fish overflow their small craft and their partners' boat as well.

(There is reward in obedience, even if it is reluctant.)

Miracle on the sea from the Maker of the sea.  The same God who thought to create currented, rushing, filling water, thought to surprise some fishermen one warm day and their lives were never the same.

Back on shore, boats overflowing, dollar signs piling up, business is good. . . but there's something (or someone) better.

"From now on you will catch men," Jesus says with a sparkle in His eye as He turns to leave, "Follow me."

What else can they do.  They have witnessed the miracle.  They have tasted the mystery.  They have been in the presence of the Promised One.  Who would want torn nets and slimy boats and smelly fish, when you can have mended hearts, impassioned lives, and joy to the full!?!

So they follow. . .and learn. . .and live.

The call is the same to the road weary ones.  Those of us who work and strive and do it all over again and again each day.  Whether we strive behind a desk, or in the field, or in the home, our journey is a hard one.
But this striving is not our call. 

Our call is to follow.
Simply follow.

He leads.  He has done the hard part.
We are redeemed to walk in his steps.  To go where He says go.  To stay where He says stay.  To listen and follow the voice of the Master, our Shepherd, our Savior.

Let us follow Him today.
Let us be disciples of Christ.

Scripture taken from the New International Version of the Bible.
Matthew  4:21-22
Luke 5:4-11


Monday, January 3, 2011

Known (and Loved Anyway)

"Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord."  Psalm 139:4

Isn't that amazing!  Before I speak, before I write, before I even think the thoughts of what I am going to think or write He knows and has known since before I was born.  He knows the number of my days and the hairs of my head.  He knows and thinks wonderful thoughts about me. 

Sometimes I don't fully believe that. 
Sometimes I doubt His pleasure in this fallen, failing, fainting child. 
Who am I to question the beautful character of my Creator, for He tells me -

"The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all He has made.  The Lord is near to all who call on Him...The Lord watches over all who love Him."  Psalm 145:17-20

He is near.
He is watching.

Will what He sees in my life bring pleasure or sorrow?

We have all been given this wonderful gift of life.  And He has made us exactly who we are for a reason, to fulfill a purpose for His kingdom. 

So whatever I do should be in worship to Him, my Life Giver, my all knowing One.  Whether I am making another peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my little ones, or feeding my neighbors dogs, or praying for the cancer stricken child down the road, or calling to encourage a lonely sister in Christ, may my hands and my gifts be used for His glory.

For He is near. 
And He is watching.
And He is rejoicing or mourning over the choices I make.

So let this wonderfully made one, be worthy of that title and do wonderful things for Him.  For our actions are the fruit of our faith. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome Fresh Start!

New Year's Day!  A day to begin again, to start fresh, full of hope and possibility.  I wish I could say my new year started out wonderfully, but I may have already broken 2 of my new year resolutions.  I am thankful for grace and for second chances even when it's over the little things.  That's the amazing thing about our Lord - His Grace.

He lavishes grace upon all of us sin coated children.  He looks upon us with genuine and heart opening love, even when we may not look or feel so lovely.  His thoughts are beyond our imagination.  He loves ME!  He looks upon ME with joy and pleasure.  Sometimes I don't know why.  I feel so undeserving of that love, so inadequate to receive such blessing.  But then I remember that's the way of the Father.  His delight in giving to His children.  His joy and our purpose - for relationship with Him. 

If this year brings anything, I pray it would bring a deeper understanding and knowledge of my Lord.  I hope the minutes that turn into days that turn into years will bring glory to my God.  And the time I spend will be well spent in time with Him.  Reading the life giving Word, praying diligently, seeking His will, and obeying readily and joyfully.

Thank you Lord for new beginnings and new grace.