Sunday, July 31, 2011


$20.67 for lunch at Pizza Inn today for our family.  My husband wanted to treat us after church and we were happy to oblige.  Filling growling tummies with fresh salad, heaps of pizza, and of course dessert.  We had all gained 3 pounds by the time we headed out the door, back to our comfortable home for a nice Sunday afternoon nap.

Sunday night conviction hits.  Africa pictures and stories of mothers carrying starving babes 60 miles or more for some scrap of food the refugee camp can offer.   A music staff of ribs seen on thousands of children, but the songs played in their lives is that of poverty, drought, neglect.  We see the pictures and hear the stories, but are we moved?  Heart may fill and tears may well, but do feet go, or do hands reach deep into pockets to give?

The money comes so freely when we are seeking ourselves, looking to fill our own stomachs, paying the price they require is easy.  The distant pain pierces a little differently.  Someone else will help, we have this bill coming up, maybe later. . . But what if that were me?  What if I lay there bone thin, lips cracked from dehydration, ribs showing the sorrowful song of starvation?  What if I had given my last bit of rice to my children and the decision came to die in our home or try to walk the hot, dusty miles with no strength in hopes of reaching the camp of hope?  What if I hadn't eaten in 5 days and woke to cockroaches stuck to my mouth seeking moisture?  What if. . .

God has given me much, and much is required.  Today I will give.  In October, my husband goes.  Our sacrifice is nothing.  Men and women die everyday sacrificing their very lives for the sake of the Gospel.  These small steps of obedience, of small sacrifice draw me closer to the One who sacrificed all, who obeyed to the death.  Pray today what you can sacrifice for our Lord - time, money, yourself -  it becomes even more precious when given away.

Africa is hurting -

Thankful today for . . .
170.  food - within arms' reach, everyday
171.  air conditioning
172.  medicine
173.  my comfortable country
174.  awareness
175.  money - to give
176.  a computer, to see the world
177.  compassion
178.  workers who feed the hungry everyday
179.  guest preachers who open the eyes

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fragile Days

Time is so fleeting.
Today you are braiding your little girls' pigtails and
Tomorrow you are zipping up her wedding dress.
It flies away and no matter how hard you grasp for the wind
It blows out of your hands and is forever gone.
Make today count.
Don't forget that life's moments can't be relived.
Once this life is over there are no second chances.
The seeds you sow today will impact tomorrow when you are gone.
Take the opportunioty to nurture, love, till the fertile soil of young life.
You will never have it again.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bubble Bursting

My new desire is to be intentional as a parent.
I must admit, I can be a bit scatter brained at times.  I am a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl.  I don't plan well, because I forget what I've planned most of the time.  I usually make my goals for that day in the morning or the night before and complete them one day at a time.  I am terribly forgetful about deadlines and never ask me to get stamps at the grocery store because I will never return with them, even if they are on my list in bold letters and highlighted. 

Sometimes I let this spontaneous living seep over into my parenting style.  It's easier to have fun with my children than to take the time to teach them character traits.  But, the easy road is not the best road.  I have become somewhat lazy in my parenting this summer, finding distractions in entertaining my children rather than discipling them.  We find our time filled with swimming pool days and popsicle time, picnics and park play.  While this is great fun and wonderful bonding time for our family, we neglect the task of teaching. 

So, our parenting journey is taking a new turn, beginning our day in prayer and Bible study and living the Gospel through service projects the kids can take part in.  We are starting slow (because I often get excited about something and jump in too strong only to get overwhwhelmed and forget the project altogether).  We were able to make cards and bake cookies for a lady in the nursing home this week.  She was grateful for our visit and the children learned about caring for those who are lonely or hurting.  My sweet Isaac loves to hug and was hugging people all up and down the hallways, as the elderly ladies commented on his curly hair and asked for more hugs.  He was happy to give them and all three children left feeling glad to be able to bring a little cheer to others' lives in the name of Jesus.

Tomorrow, thanks to an idea from a friend, we are planning to drive around the city passing out water bottles to anyone who may be outside in the heat.  We are bursting out of the bubble we have made for ourselves and hoping to share the Good News of Christ while bringing a little joy to the lives of others.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What am I worshiping?

In our Bible lessons, we are studying with the children, we are going through the book of Exodus.  The wide-eyed child wonder is contagious as we learn and really think about the Israelites wandering through the desert, sustained on heaven sent manna, evening quail, and Elim's deep waters.  But it seems His people are ever complaining, imagining their life in Egypt when they had warm homes, plenty of food, markets full of cloth and spices - convenient living. 

Traveling through miles of dusty wilderness God stops them at Sinai's base to give them His rules for living.  Moses ascends the mountain, as the rocky giant quakes in the presence of the Lord.  Thunder, lightning, and smoke cover the Most High and Moses speaks with God.  The commandments are given and the messenger tells the Israelite nation God's laws.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything..."  Exodus 20:4

"Do not fear, for God has come to test you. . . so that you may not sin."  Exodus 20:20

His perfect law is sent, so that we may not sin, so that we will know right and wrong, black and white rules spoken by the voice of Almighty God.  Then Moses returns up to the mountain to gaze on Glory and receive more instructions for tabernacle worship.  The leader lingers, the people wait. . .and wait. . . and wait.  Their eyes and hearts and minds wander from the things of God.  Impatience reigns, boredom creeps in, idol thoughts quietly settle into their minds. 

"Come, make us gods that shall go before us," the people cry. Exodus 32:1

"Bring me your gold,"  Aaron replies.  Aaron - who once defied Pharoah, stood beside Moses as he led them across the Red Sea, leader of worship - and now molder of idol.

We all know this story how the chosen ones of God forsake His Word and His will and worship the golden calf.  They pour all that is precious to them into this god symbol, their gold, their sacrifices, their souls. 

I judge quickly, these chosen ones.  "You just saw the hand of God deliver you from slavery, carry you through the sea and wilderness.  You saw as He sustained you with food and water, gave you clothes and shoes that didn't wear out, and spoke from mountaintops with lightning and smoke.  What is wrong with you?  Why would you defy His command to not make any graven image?  Why would you go seeking the world when you have the Maker of the world right above you?"

Then I remember . . . I am the same.

All too often my hours are spent watching man made objects.  The world calls through television or music or the computer.  Calling to come and take pleasure, come rest awhile in comfortable delight.  Come and give your time (your life) to golden gods.

Sometimes my idols come in packages that are good unto themselves, but when they take the place of God, it is worship.  Frequently my children are given that place in my heart that should only be reserved for my King.  When my need to fulfill their desires, to lavish and not instruct them, when I love them more than my God, it is sin. 

Lately, food has been erected in my heart as an object of worship.  Without realizing it, I find myself searching for comfort in what I consume.  Ahhh...chocolate. . . who can resist?  I can and I should.  When I search for comfort in cravings and not my Creator, it has become an idol.

The list goes on and on.  Me, a chosen one, choosing not to find my strength, hope, and comfort in Him.  Idolator.  Ouch!

So here I am, an Israelite of sorts, forgetting the marvelous work of salvation and redemption the Lord has done in my life.  Forgetting how He has walked me through valleys and lavished His blessings upon me.  Forgetting to look up. . . and looking around.  Looking for something I can see or grasp in my hands to give my worship unto. 

Only when Moses returns and casts down the idol, grinds it up into dust, and makes the Israelites drink it does the idolatry end.  What a stomach ache that must have been!  And coming face to face with your own idols is a hard pill to swallow, but it must be done.  My idols must be crushed and never looked upon again with the same adoration.  Nothing is to take the place of God in my heart.  Nothing.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Question:  "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

Answer:  I have none.

I sit here now living the good.  Snacking on Starburst, sitting on padded chair in comfortable house, driving white mini van, rising with three beautiful, healthy children every morn, sleeping next to strong, working husband between Egyptian cotton sheets every night.  Life now is good.  Trouble and tragedy have visited here before and they will come again, but their visits have been short. 

Still the question remains as my heart aches for others who have been valley walking lately.  Why does the sweet young family get the cancer diagnosis of their one year old babe?  Why do father and five year old die on the water leaving lonely, widowed mother behind?  Why do car accidents come hard and fast, shaking the brain and changing the life?

I've heard many answers to the question - that's just life.  When sin entered the Garden it brought with it destruction, pain, sorrow, death.  Hurting is a part of living and the hurting comes to all, good or bad. 

But why would a good God allow suffering?  He allows it to refine us.  The purest gold is heated in the fiercest fire, to draw out the dross, the impurities rising to the top to be removed.  Suffering strips us of all, except who we are at the very core.  In the heat of the hurt we become gold.  We only realize the essence of life - love, relationship, and glory to God - when everything else is taken away.

I am reminded too of our dear Savior.  Wasn't He 'good people?'  Wasn't Christ the embodiment of perfection?  He was the ultimate example of godliness and humanity existing in whole hearted unity.  Yet, His suffering was unlike that of any other.  Living and knowing that He came to die, to be made a sacrifice, to become sin for us.  Our 'suffering servant' knew everything of pain - emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual.  Rejection by the entire religious community, thrown out of his own hometown, abandoned in His time of need by His closest followers, beaten, stripped, mocked, crucified, separated from the Father.  Our Lord knew suffering and goodness.

So, just because someone is 'good people' it does not make one immune to suffering.  I believe it invites just the opposite.  God followers are to expect trials to come because we have a very real and very evil enemy who is looking 'to kill and steal and to destroy.'  The prince of this world will throw pain our way to make us question and take away our effectiveness for Christ. 

Next time suffering comes your way, 'count it all joy,' and know that you are in good company with saints and a Savior who have endured the pain before.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I am so thankful today for a pastor who opens the Word and reveals the mystery of the Gospel in new ways.
I am thankful that he doesn't gloss over the call to follow Christ.
Jesus never said the road was easy.  He said we must forsake all to follow Him.

          "He said to another man, "Follow me."  But the man replied, "Lord first
           let me go and bury my father."  Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury
           their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.  Still   
           another siad, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say
           good-by to my family."  Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to
           the plow and looks back is fit fot service in the kingdom of God."

                                                                             Luke 9:59-62  NIV

These verses always leave me a bit confused and bewildered.  These men seem on the surface that they have good intentions and a loving commitment to their families, isn't that honorable, aren't their reasons good?  But God sees the heart.  He knows the man who wants to bury his father is neglecting the necessity of now.  If obedience is not immediate it is not obedience at all. 

When I ask my own children to do something, they know I expect them to do it "all the way, right away, and with a happy heart."  (Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman)  The expectation is that they must do the task, whether it is brush their teeth or make their bed or put their shoes on, immediately.  We don't know if the man's father in this verse was very sick or already dead, but we do know that this man wanted to delay following Christ.  Don't I do the very same thing, He impresses on my heart a command and I just put it off or think I will get to it after I have done the laundry or played with the kids.  This is disobedience.  He does not call me to obey when I feel like it, or when I get around to it, the call of obedience comes now and I must act now.  This man did not know His chance was now to follow Christ, for the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem, to give His life on the cross.  He didn't have a couple weeks to wait around for his father to die, if he wanted to follow the Savior while he walked this earth the moment had come.

Christ's call is not easy. . .

         "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man
          has no place to lay his head.
                                                                                   Luke 9:58

His example does not show Him giving all to work 40 hours a week to use the money he earned on a big house or expensive clothes.  His example does not show Him sitting on a couch at the end of every day.  His example shows sacrifice in every definition of the word.  His example shows a man doing the work of the eternal.  His example shows immediate obedience and complete submission to the will of the Father in every step along the way.  When we follow Him we are to walk the road of sacrifice.  We are to put our hands to task, diligently doing the work of the Gospel.  Following Christ means following the will of God in the daily little things and in great circumstances.

Today, I will choose to follow Him. . . to walk in His ways. . . to sacrifice all for the cause of Christ.

I am counting my blessings today. . .

161.  A faithful and wise pastor
162.  Small group fun and fellowship
163.  Ice Cream Socials
164.  Sermon Notes
165.  Sweet Sunday School teachers who paint with little ones
166.  A day of rest
167.  Dimpled girl in seaside dress
168.  Cats who follow you on walks
169.  The peace of His promises


Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Humility is found in bending low to do the daily tasks of home.  Doing the necessary work of the ordinary out of a willing and diligent heart.  In these simple things one does not dream of accolades.  There is no audience watching you scrub the kitchen floor.  There is no applause when the children are finally cleaned and clothed and brushed and combed.  But the work is completed humbly, willingly, joyfully, as to the Lord.

These words describe one very brave lady I have been reading about lately.  Susanna Wesley was the mother of John and Charles Wesley the founders of Methodism and the Methodist Church in England, hymn writers, and defenders of the faith.  As you may know, Susanna gave birth to 19 children, 9 of whom died in early childhood.  Just that simple fact alone brings thoughts and emotions of unfathomable grief to my heart.  Imagine the love and connection a mother feels for her children, and to have their young lives taken so early, must have brought incredible burden to her soul. 

Susanna was the youngest of 25 children in her growing up years and was taught well by her pastor father and dutiful mother.  Susanna used what she had been taught to teach her own children Greek, Latin, French, Bible, and Logic.  She believed education was essential to raising godly, wise children, and schooled them every day of the week (except Sunday), for six hours each day.  She devoted her life to raising and teaching her children to believe in the Lord and trust him for salvation.

Her life was not an easy one however, with many mouths to feed and little money coming in.  Caring for the farm animals they owned along with the duties of the home and children, her life was very busy. Their home was destroyed by fire twice.  Babies constantly sick and even dying.  Susannah was often found with an apron covering her head praying to the Lord for strength. 

This strong woman and faith and conviction was diligent and disciplined in raising her children.  She took the task of growing a family seriously.  She was intentional about their education and discipline.  She humbly assumed her role as mother, educator, wife, and Bible study leader. 

In all this work, she never thought that one day the world may know who she was.  When cleaning dirty hands and faces her mind was not on inspiring others.  While teaching the languages of the Bible she wasn't aware that her sons would use this knowledge to lead thousands to Christ.  She was simply dedicated to working everyday to care for her family the best way she could.  She was simply honoring God in the little things and He gave her a great reward and legacy. 

We can see Christ when we see the lives of great women of faith.  Women like Susanna who lived their lives to glorify God and see their children come to salvation through His Son.  May we take up this task of loving, living, praying, studying, glorifying. . . and do it well, humbly, as to the Lord.

-Many facts on Susanna's life found in The Top 100 Women of the Christian Faith by Jewell Johnson.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Seed Planting

I love to read of the lives of great people of faith throughout history, because in a way their story is mine. 

It is through the conviction and passion for our Lord seen in the lives of his saints that the message has been passed through twenty centuries.  And the love and life that I live for Him will affect my children and theirs and those around me who see this great love of the Gospel.  We are all connected through our Maker, we find our center in Him. 

As Abraham's walk of faith seemed small in the beginning but spread to thousands of people in hundreds of generations, so our simple walks of faith now will inspire untold numbers for the glory of the Lord.

Be encouraged today. 
Plant small seeds. 
Water and tend them with intentional care. 
Then see the amazing bounty your faithfulness to Him will produce.
He will bring the harvest!
The reward of knowing and serving Him is never lost!

(Come back tomorrow as we learn of Susannah Wesley and the mission of love she planted in the souls of her children.)

Monday, July 11, 2011


 "Do not think that your work does not matter. In God’s hands, it will be broken, and broken, and broken again, until all who have need of it have eaten and are satisfied."
                                                               -Rachel Jankovich

Today is a day of brokeness. 
I feel as though I am that bread that was spread out among the five thousand.

Motherhood is not easy some days.  Today was one of the broken days, giving and giving and giving.  Giving 3 meals a day to my hungry family, giving popsicles to sweaty sweet faces, giving time as I clean all the sticky waffle crumbs off the floor, giving more time as I chase the dog around the neighborhood when the kids let him out, giving haircuts, giving to a moving friend, giving time to play a new game, giving baths, giving stories, giving bedtime hugs and prayers. . . All beautful things, but sometimes the giving makes one tired.  Sometimes the giving means sacrifice of my own wants, to the needs of those around me. 

So, today even though "I'm all give out" I will thank Him that I am able to give.  I will praise Him for the blessing of giving because these little things I give are nothing compared to the greatest gift of all, my Savior.

Counting the blessings:

151.  Syrup
152.  Neighbor girls
153.  New (to us) tents
154.  Potty training complete
155.  Storytime giggles
156.  Naps with my baby boy
157.  Cool popsicles
158.  Bible study learning
159.  Faithful friends
160.  Music to soothe the soul

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Waves Crashing

"But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed."
                                                                                                  -Amy Carmichael

We do not have to be overwhelmed by the storms of this life. 

The One who forms the gentle ripples of a stream is the same One who makes the ocean tide and the whirling whirlpool.  The Creator of all, knows all, sees all. 

He is still in control when we are not. 

He is still Sovereign even when the sickness strikes and the job is lost and the child hurts.  He still sees and knows and cares.  He cares enough to store all our tears.  He cares enough to allow the suffering, so the deliverance joy can be great.  He cares enough to walk us through it.  He cares enough to make Himself known in the very pit of despair.  Because He knows that in our weakness, His strength is made perfect. 

Storms, trials, hardships. . . they will come.

The joy comes in knowing that we never walk alone.  He is the eye in the midst.  He is the peace among the peril.

I have known Him best when walking through the valley.  I have felt His spirit more in the darkness of uncertainty than anywhere else.  My faith is strengthened when I am weakest.  That is when He works best you know, when we realize we are nothing, He is everything.  We are but a vapor, He is eternal.  So take heart, 'God is the God of the waves and the billows,' He is sovereign, and this storm may be meant to draw you closer to Himself.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Now is the End

"We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not.  What we call the process, God calls the end. . . His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now.  God's end is to enable me to see that he can walk on the chaos of my life just now. . . if we realize that obedience is the end then each moment as it comes is precious."       
                                                                                                                     -Oswald Chambers

'Obedience is the end.' 

How I desperately need to learn this lesson!
How often do I focus on goals, on completing my to-do lists, on just getting to the end of the day, so I can find rest and completion.

He does not work at the end.
He works right now.  Right now in the midst of screaming toddlers and broken refrigerators and laundry piles and hot weather storms. 
This moment is all we have, the only real time we can fully follow the Faithful One is now

How often do I see the chaos around and forget the peace within. 

It is only by His power and His spirit can I face the difficulty that suffocates.  He alone brings freedom and hope.  And it is in this moment that I must learn to rely fully on His power.  

"With God all things are possible."

My prayer is that I would live what I believe, to take this moment and devote it fully in obedience to His will.  In stopping to seek Him, His end is fulfilled.  Let the 'precious' moments begin. 


Wednesday, July 6, 2011


 "Humility is timid. Write about it, talk about it, and it flees."    
                                                                        -Ann Voskamp

Humility.  What do I know of being humble?
Often I am the one who thinks I have it all figured out.
I am the one who ashamedly tells my husband that most of the time that
'I am right.'

But, humility has no capital I, humility bears no semblance of pride.
Humility lowers self to exalt others, and in doing so exalts our Lord.  

          "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
           but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 
           Each of you should look not only to your own interests,
           but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should
           be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the
           very nature of God, did not consider equality with God
           something to be grasped, but made himself nothing,
           taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human
           likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he
           humbled himself and became obedient to death -
           even death on a cross."

                                                    Philippians 2:3-8  NIV

Doesn't that say it all?  Doesn't the living Word of God give us the ultimate picture of humility - the Son of God crucified.

Yeshua - shaper of mountain cliffs and ocean caves, only begotten of the Most High, King of golden lighted heaven - 'made himself nothing.'
He wrapped himself in fragile skin, gave his throne of power to be cradled in the arms of a teenage girl.  Maker of life, making himself nothing. 

Seeking no power, wealth, position of authority, he came to hide himself in humility.  He was the one helping out in the kitchen at Cana's wedding (not to exalt himself, but to serve and obey even his own earthly mother).   He was the one making mud for blind men's eyes, He was the one holding the leper's hand.  He was the one washing dirty disciple feet.  He was the one bearing the cross.

His perfect example leaves me poor.  All my works, all my striving, all my 'goodness,' is as 'filthy rags.'  What I think is gold is really trash.  What I polish and cling to, is really worthless.  

The lesson is learned - I must become less, He must become more.  Serving.  Obeying - as He obeyed, 'even unto death.'  Not seeking praise or power or position, but seeking Him.  Seeking the perfect will of the Father - that is where humility lies.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I am learning to appreciate the price of freedom more and more.

The price fighting men pay.  The price of leaving their beautiful wife and sweet children behind to live the long days out, without the leading of their father.

The price of trading a country of free will and comfortable living to stay in a land consumed with unknowns, fear, and enemies.

The price of daily risking their very lives to preserve the freedoms we take for granted.

I am thankful for their willingness to serve our country.

So our family celebrates our freedom and honors those who fight for us.

 We are also grateful to the Creator of freedom, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Without Him we would never know true freedom, our bondage to sin would be fatal, and the slavery to ourselves would be our end.

Thank you Lord, for freeing us from sin and self, thank you for paying the ultimate price of Your life, so that we may live in the freedom of knowing You.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Autumn Life

Autumn.  A time of harvest.  A time of reaping what has been sown in the spring and summer season. 

Autumn brings the glory of crimson leaves, golden wheat fields, land bursting with bright fruits and vegetables.  His own creation celebrating in the wonder of seed bearing life.  Earth's coloring book filled in with the red of apples, orange on pumpkins, yellow corn, green peas and beans - beauty.

Autumn is the sunset of life.  With all of its glorious colors, ever changing reflections of light, sweetness and fulfillment in the ending of day.

I see autumn life in the ones who sowed their seed years ago.  In the faces of the ones who raised, sheltered, taught, loved me.  In the arms of those who nurtured, cared for, loved my husband as he grew.  These are bountiful years for them, seeing the harvest of their time invested in the lives of their children.  Years where the crop has multiplied with the gift of granchildren.  Years of glory and beauty.  Years that also bring a weariness.  Weary bones and muscles, tired from the growing, planting, loving years.  But in their eyes is the light of the sunset reflected so beautifully.  A sparkle of deep, rich, full lives. 

Sunsets of life.  Letting go of it all to give Him glory, to let the beauty of Christ's love shine brighter and purer and lovlier than ever before.

 "Wisdom is with aged men, With long life is understanding."                      
                                                     Job 12:12  (NASB)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Life

The season of life for me right now is most definitely summer.  Summertime brings with it feelings of bright busyness, warm sunshine, smiling running days and relaxing reading days.  Summer is a time of full life, nature still growing green, fruits ripening, springtime youth maturing into completeness. 

I can see summer in the anthills around our yard.  Their homes are teeming with life, always coming and going, little creatures giving their efforts to collect nourishment.  I see summer in the ripening berries on the vine, full and red, ready to be picked and tasted. . .like life. . .tasting the sweetness of summer.  Healthy, strong, good, happy summer. 

These summer days are so full.  I pray that in all the busyness of living through this summertime I will take time to reflect on the beauty of it all. . .  the wonderful chances I have to spend with my children, the joy I take in watching them grow and mature, as I grow and mature as well, in the Lord. 

May our summer days be spent well in tending and nurturing the gardens of tender hearts that have been entrusted to our care.  May our moments be lived well with joy and gratitude.  May the warm sunshine carry over into sharing the warm love of Christ. 

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."             Isaiah 55:12 (NIV)