Monday, July 14, 2014


Are you amazed and perplexed by magicians like I am?
Sometimes I watch them with my mouth wide open.
Other times, I am just in awe. My mind wonders "how in the heck did he do that?". If I see the trick in person, I ask them to do it again.
I remember a few years ago while visiting my daughter and her husband in Seattle, there was this incredible magician at Pike's Market. I watched him do his tricks over and over again. Many were convinced this guy was a fraud and that he was cheating. They wanted him to show them "HOW" he did it. He wouldn't agree to that. Afterall, this was part of his livelihood. I understand a magician's reasoning of not letting us in on their secret- if all of us could do what they did, we wouldn't be mesmerized by their art.

What if you know someone who boasts that they can do something, and you question the validity of their claim. We tend to ask them to "prove it".  Show me. Let me see you do it. I want proof.
When my kids were in their teens, they created a game in our family room. We had a sky light that opened up the room. Because we wanted to be a home where kids always felt welcome, I sometimes would let them do things that other parents were sure to think I'd gone crazy allowing. This game was one of them.
My kids played basketball. We had a backboard on our sidewalk with real dimensions of a court painted on the street, where they could practice (while watching for cars!) free throws, dunks and just playing street hoops.
Inside was a different kind of basketball. They would mark their fingers with felt pens, and because we had a long family room, they would run and see how high they could jump up towards the skylight. I had a multi-colored ceiling for years. 
Our kids friends often were ball players, so everyone tried to beat the highest mark. All except Jeff. He was a baseball player and didn't have much of a "jump". One day he and our daughter had the idea that they would tell everyone that he beat them all. They brought in one of our kitchen chairs and he jumped up and made a new mark-the highest one yet. 
Only problem was- no one believed him. They kept asking him to do it again, and he refused by saying they were just jealous. The other kids knew he could not have jumped that high because they had seen his previous efforts. Jeff could never "prove" that he had really done it, because he hadn't.

If someone would ask you or me, to prove by our lives that we were followers of Christ, could we prove it?
Sure we could recite bible verses, probably tell them the ABC's of how to become a follower, say we went to church, or read the latest Christian best seller. We might say we attend a bible study, lead a sunday school class, do youth work, work in the nursery at church.
We could give lots of examples, but would how we live our lives measure up.
I would fail miserably on some days.
What if they knew how I judged people? What if they had seen me yell at my kids? What if I had made things up on a resume? What if they knew about my "biggest sin?" They would probably doubt that I was a follower of Jesus.

What about you?
If you drink too much and too often, would you represent Christ accurately?
What if you were sleeping around? or maybe just sleeping with the person you had dated for awhile-justifying your actions by stating that you loved them?
What if you cheated? on an exam? or your spouse? or your work?
What if you took things from work that weren't really yours?
Could you prove by your life that you truly were a Christ follower?

And what about the "church?"
I have written previously how embarrassed I was with Christians in how we reacted to our different position on gays. Instead of loving each other, we throw accusations against one another saying you are wrong and I am right. Those that do not know Jesus in a personal way, may question who we are really following.
And what about some of those who oppose abortion? The ones who throw slurs at girls entering Planned Parenthood, or when it was common to picket at abortion clinics?
Just to let you know, I am pro-life. I believe abortion should not be a form of birth control. But I also am in no position to criticize those who think they have no other out. I was in that position once too.

In the Gospel of Luke, before Jesus began his public ministry, John the Baptist began preparing the way for the Messiah to come. He chastised people who said they followed God but that their lives looked otherwise.

He said,
"Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God."
Luke 3:8 NLT

What if we who profess to love and follow Jesus, lived each day, in the hopes of accurately portraying the ONE we have based our lives on. What if the actions of our lives, the words of our mouths, the thoughts in our head, could prove that we truly love Jesus Christ?
Something to think about.
I so want my life to be proof that Jesus has changed me. 
Please forgive me if I have shown you something else.

Friday, July 11, 2014


They can paralyze us. If we let them.
What scares you?
Fear of the unknown? Fear of failing? Fear of a lifetime of loneliness? Fear of making the wrong career move?
Fear of being unloved or unwanted? Fear of not getting into college? Fear of being a parent? Fear of not being a parent? Fear of losing someone you love? Fear of divorce? Fear of getting a catastrophic illness?  Fear of being single forever? Fear of the empty nest? Fear of your mistakes being known?
We have so many things that can frighten us, that can erroneously make us believe that disaster is upon us. That we will be 'found out". 
If we let our fears consume us, they can debilitate us. We can be overtaken by anxiety.
It is a well known fact that over ninety percent of our fears and what we worry about will not come to pass.
How much time do you spend worrying?
Does it help? More than likely, not
In fact, our fears and worries can wreck havoc on our bodies. It is medically proven that unwanted fears, worrying and anxiety can produce stress on our bodies. Which can result in illnesses.

Believe me, I am no stranger to this.
When my children were younger, I had the almost paralyzing fear that if my husband was away, our home would be broken into and I would be left to protect my kids. I couldn't sleep. Any noise would have me grabbing the baseball bat that I had put right next to my bed. I would get up, turn on all the lights I could, and scour the house for someone. It was a needless worry, but one that really produced an immense fear in my life.
As a nurse, I would imagine the worst if something happened to one of my kids. A headache would turn into "what if its a brain tumor?".
So you see, I was an expert in being afraid.
I constantly asked God to take away my fears.
I memorized 2 verses in particular:

Psalm 91:2
"This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
HE is my God and I trust Him"

and Psalm 34:4
"I prayed to the LORD and He answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears."

Eventually God did deliver me from all my fears and I know that He truly is my refuge. I am not easily frightened with fears now.

This morning I began reading the book of Luke. Two times in the first chapter, a priest named Zachariah and Mary, who became the mother of Jesus, were both told, 
"Don't be afraid, Zachariah."
"Don't be afraid, Mary."
By name, God told them not to be afraid.
And He says that to you too. With your name. He promises us in the Bible, that He will never leave us or forsake us.
What we need to do is take Him at His Word.
In the book of Joshua, we are told " that not one of the Lord's good promises has failed. Every one has been fulfilled" (Josh 21:45).

God promises to be with us in whatever we go through. We are never alone. All we have to do is go to Him. Tell Him our fears. Ask Him to comfort us. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and not our circumstances.
You may be thinking this is easy for her to say, she doesn't know what I am going through. And you are right, because I don't know and I may not understand your circumstances.
I do, however, know God's faithfulness:

When I was 21 and my mother died unexpectedly, He was there. He was there to comfort me minute by minute, hour by hour , day after day.
When I had to have one of my kids hospitalized for anorexia and I was so afraid I might lose her. God was there with me through the two months she was in treatment. He let me know she was Ok.
When my sons left home in hurt and anger. God carried me when I was feeling guilt ridden and depressed.
When  I heard the words: "You have cancer". The LORD was with me every minute. I never was afraid. And if it comes back, I know He will be with me every step of the way.

We are never without our heavenly Father. He is always with us.
So if you are struggling with fears, worry or anxiety, can I plead with you to cry out to the Father. 
I am not saying you will immediately be cured of your fears, but you will have someone who will walk with you everyday until you realize that these fears can no longer control you. They don't have to ruin your day or your month or your life.
Isn't that the best news you have heard today?

Philippians 4:6-7 New Living Translation.
"Don't worry about anything;instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.."

You only have your fears to lose, and peace to gain!

another post on fear:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Enjoying what we have

The book of Ecclesiastes was penned by Solomon, considered to be the wisest man that has ever lived. In this short 12 chapter book, Solomon tries to figure out what is the meaning of life.
So many of his sentences resonate deeply in my soul.
Skipping ahead to chapter 6, Solomon writes:
     "Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don't have."

This sentence has been mulling around in my mind for days now.
Do we enjoy what we have? Do we count the blessings we are given? Or are we so consumed with getting what is next?

I have been surprised at my lack of ungratefulness; actually I am quite ashamed by it.
The past year of my life has been inundated by "surprises" but also by undeserved gifts. 
Having battled cancer and come thru, I am very aware of the beauty of the gift of life. How precious it is to be alive. How unfortunate it is that we only seem to recognize that fact when our health, or someone we love's health, is in jeopardy. How many of us take our health for granted? We need to celebrate and enjoy our lives.

This year also brought the loss of someone I love very dearly. Robby was one who embraced life and embraced relationships. He was the type of person who everyone enjoyed being with. Robby had so many different types of friends and each person always felt loved and cared for by him. So this week, I have questioned if I enjoy the relationships I have like Robby did. Do we treasure those times we have with others? Do we seek out to be-friend others and enjoy people that we are with? 

Living in the United States has its advantages and disadvantages.
We are a culture consumed by materialism. We want what others have. We covet and are miserable until we get the latest desire of our hearts. We believe we are "entitled" to whatever it is we wish to have. We have feelings of discontent that we don't have someone else's possessions or status or success.

Why is it we want what others have and yet do not enjoy what we do? Why do we dwell on what we desire instead of relishing what we do have? This is why Solomon often writes that life is meaningless. We have, we crave and covet and then we don't appreciate what the blessings we have been given.

Ann Voskamp's book, A Thousand Gifts, encourages us to take note of the simple, small pleasures everyday, and to be grateful. I have been trying to put this into practice since I read this book a year and a half ago. When we have thankful, grateful hearts, we tend to see life with a more positive outlook.
Even in the midst of trying, painful circumstances, we can be thankful. Yes, I know this can be hard, but it can be done. When I received the news that I had a rare type of cancer, I was scared, but I also knew that my life was in the hands of a God who loved me. I was thankful that I knew HE was in control, because my life appeared to be totally out of my control. I became thankful for the gift of life like I never had before. Even today, when I wake up daily with a sore neck, I am reminded that I am alive and I am grateful.
I am become increasingly aware of all the things I am thankful for, and am striving to enjoy what I do have.
If you were to take 5 minutes and write down all the things you were thankful and appreciative of, I am sure you would be amazed at how many things will pop into your mind. I did this recently and was so surprised how many things my mind came up with in that short time. Besides the "normal" things like my health , my family, my dear friends, a calling that I am compelled to do, I wrote down things like the beach, my dogs, experiencing 4 seasons, the beauty where I live, my college friends, butterflies, clouds ( a new obsession since living at Woodleaf), sunsets, weddings , my children's friends, books, music and so many more.
If I (and you) could enjoy just the little things we experience daily, we would be more apt to appreciate the tremendous gifts we have been given.

Desiring what we don't have causes covetness, jealousy and embitters us. It just isn't worth it. This week in a devotional book  I am reading with one of our summer interns,  by a pastor named Tony Evans, I read :

     "One of the great tragedies today is we don't have enough Christians who know how to give thanks for what they already have."
Taken from "Get Serious"

I couldn't agree with him more. May we be those who enjoy what we have been given.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


While growing up in the 60's, there was a song on the radio called, "Turn, turn, turn", by the Byrds.
It stated that there was a season for everything in life. My friends and I loved the song. Then, one of us heard that it was from the Bible. We couldn't believe it. The Byrds were a group of guys who no one knew much about.  I do remember that David Crosby was in the band (YES, the David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) and knew he was reported to do alot of drugs. So it was amazing to our young junior high minds that he recorded a song with words from the Bible. Growing up as a Catholic, I never even remember reading the Bible. I knew my parents had one in our home, but even going to Catholic schools for the first ten years of my school career, I never saw a Bible or was told to read it.

Now if you have ever read anything I have written,  you know that I try and read the Bible everyday.
Yesterday, I started reading the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. Chapter 3 in this book is where the song came from. Solomon talks about the meaning or lack of meaning in our lives.
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that everything in life has a season to it; just like the song told me.

From the New Living Translation:

1 For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

A time to be born and a time to die.
We all know this, but it doesn't deeply affect us until it occurs to someone we love or care about.
This past week, I was able to rejoice in the news of two babies births. The first was my sons friend from college, Dave and his wife Kaitlin welcomed there second daughter Brynnlee.  Three days later my dear friend Gail became grandmother to her first grandson Kellan. Both families were overjoyed with the thrill of these new lives.
What about the other end of the spectrum? We all know that we will die. But what happens when it takes the life of someone we love dearly? Especially when it is way too soon. Like our friends who lost their 4 yr old little girl to a series of infections, or our very closest friends who lost their son this year at the age of 25? We know everyone will die. Just don't let it be someone close to us. We are never ready to lose someone we love. Whether or not we have been prepared-such as when cancer drains the life out of our loved one and we actually might have even prayed asking God to take them, we aren't prepared for the loss. Such the opposite of how well we try and prepare ourselves for the arrival of a baby.

A time to plant and a time to harvest.
In the gardening world, we do alot of prep work getting ready to plant our gardens. We till the soil, we get rid of the weeds, we add new soil, we mulch before we ever plant. Then when we put either the seeds of the baby plant into the dirt and begin to water, we hope that the fruits of our labor will pay off. We watch and water and weed, and we wait. After a few months we have the beginnings of the harvest of our work. Right now, my garden has been planted about five weeks. I can hardly wait to pick fresh corn, tomatoes, green beans, peppers and hopefully some squash.  I planted a number of herbs and am already using them.
But this phrase also applies to other areas of our lives.
In school, the planting is the studying and going to classes and the harvest is when you graduate and begin the next phase of your life.
Or what if you are starting something new? Whether it be designing a new app for our phones, starting to write the book or novel that has been on your mind for years, or perhaps you are starting a new ministry, or a new job. These things also require a fair amount of preparation and diligence before the finished product is ready to be enjoyed. Just like the harvest of our fruits and vegetables. We do work to reap the joys of our labor.

A time to kill and a time to heal.
This phrase baffles me.
Perhaps its about war time. Ususally wars bring casualties, and many of those casualties resulting in a death. Never has there been a war when there hasn't been deaths due to killing.
Its after the war has ended, that the re-building begins.
The healing; the physical, emotional and spiritual restoration begins. It is very much needed.

A time to tear down and a time to build up.
In wars, (which were frequent in the time of Solomon), things are destroyed. Buildings, homes , families. After the last gun shot, the last bomb, the last hidden explosives are detonated, people are ready to begin again, to start fresh. It is the time to do in the present what will impact the future. It is time to make things new. Rebuild, restore and regain what has been lost.
This happens in life also. We might have been maligned, been told we were worthless, had our self worth destroyed by a cutting remark or a disparage attack on our character. WE can only take so much of negativity. And we realize we need to do something to counter the negative and commence the positive.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.  A time to grieve and a time to dance.
Sometimes, these two actually occur together but most often there are times we just need to cry and there are times when the most appropriate thing to do is bust up with uncontrollable laughter.
Have you ever been to a memorial service when you both laughed and cried? During grief, we desperately need to have times of laughter. We can't possibly handle that ache, deep deep sorrow on a day in and day out basis. The ability to laugh in the intense moments of grief is a sheer gift.
Grieving is a long long process. Psychologists say that it takes two full years to work thru the stages of grief. So when the time comes, and you want to enjoy life again; go do what you love. Whether it be dancing, or hiking, or skiing or creating something. Perhaps you want to write, or try a new hobby. You just want to get going with life again. Do it!

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
Life often calls for times to get rid of things. Whether it be possessions, or bad habits, sometimes we just need to purge our lives from the clutter and the excess. We don't need everything we possess. Just this week, I purged 16 pairs of shoes from my closet. I didn't need them and I had not worn them for quite a while.
On the flip side, there are certain times when we need to accumulate some items. For instance when we get married and are setting up our homes. Or when we await the joy of a new baby, there are definitely items we need in preparing for this child.
Other times, its necessary to gather stones in other areas. Contacts and friends who can help you find a job, or a new home. Definitely we have times when we are in need, and we most always have times when we can give away to those less fortunate.

A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
When we receive something gladly or accept something willingly, we are embracing it.
In life, it could be a new friendship or romance, it could be a promotion or an opportunity to do something you've always dreamed of. You can embrace your favorite sport team, or the charity of your choice. You can adopt a healthy lifestyle and embrace the changes it gives you. We are blessed by people and are grateful.
But there are times when we need to turn away. We need to walk away from something that is harming us or detrimental to our well being. That might be a toxic relationship. It might be a job that is sucking the life out of us. It might be quitting alcohol or drugs if they have taken over our lives. We need to realize what is harming us and take the steps needed to get healthy again, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.
What are you looking for?
Is it a new job?
A college major?
A spouse?
Are you seeking purpose for your life?
What are you doing to seek what you are looking for? Are you using your resources to help you find what it is you want? Are you asking God for guidance? Are you willing to be patient?
And when do you quit searching?
That I don't know.
I believe we all come to a time, when we realize that what we are seeking isn't there for us, at least for now. And somehow, we need to find contentment in accepting where we are. Often times like this, we need others to help us see clearly what we can't see ourselves.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.
see above section on a time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
This sentence seems so much along the line of the earlier one.

A time to tear and a time to mend.
I think the time to tear here is referring to Old Testament times when a person contracted leprosy, the priests would examine their clothes. If the disease was found on the clothes, they were burned. But if the clothes did not host the disease, they would be washed and part of it torn off and then given back to the owner who was afflicted with the disease. Otherwise, I have no idea what this sentence means.
But I do have an idea of what a time to mend is. The entire Bible is a story of reconciliation between God and His people (us) and how HE longs to mend the brokenness we have experienced -whether it comes from our separation from Him, or the brokenness that occurs at some point in all our lives.
God yearns to make us whole; to mend us. Will you allow Him to do that for you?

A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
Sometimes we naturally know when to be quiet.
I have learned to come alongside someone who is grieving and just sit. And be still and be quiet. I have learned thru my own experience, that sometimes you just want someone to be present in a physical sense, without saying anything.
There are other times, when we definitely need to speak up.
When a disaster is about to happen that we can see, when someone is in danger- these are the times when we most definitely need to be heard.
There are times when we need to speak truth into another's life. When we can offer advice or perhaps wisdom when they are going thru a rough or perplexing time.
The hard part is often knowing when to speak and when to be quiet.
There have been times when I have said something that I wish I could take back as soon as the words left my mouth. There are other times when I look back, that I wish I had said something.
Sometimes it is very confusing to know which direction to go: to be silent or to speak ones opinion. Oh if only we knew every time which was the correct option!

A time to love and a time to hate.
Most of the time, loving will always be the best choice. Because when we love, we always put others before ourselves. And isn't that what Jesus always did? When we care more about uplifting, helping, encouraging others to show our love and support. Loving others tends to bring out the best in each of us.
But there are times to hate.
When someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol or gambling or something so destructive, that it tears you apart. It is OK to hate the object and not the person.
When horrendous crimes or terror occurs, we need to learn to hate the action and not the person. That is really a tough one for me. When a child is kidnapped or murdered or sold into prostitution or slavery, I am intensely angered. My gut reaction is to hate the person who did it, instead of hating the criminal act. I have to admit, I struggle with this-alot.

A time for war and a time for peace.
Since the beginning of time, there have been wars. There have been killings done because of jealousy and anger. Sometimes war can be good.
The American Civil War is an example. The North fought for the freedom of the Negro Slaves, believing that no man should be a slave to another.  The Civil War was fought because of greed and the South not being (as a whole) respecter of others color.
The war on drugs has been fought globally for decades as so many of us have seen the decay of our society by the addictions of drugs.
But PEACE, oh how we need peace.
Wholeness and healing and the comfort it brings.
War time is always followed by periods of peace so that reconciliation and rebuilding can occur.
Peace is what I believe every single person alive desires.

Solomon was a very wise man. He thought long and hard about life and its meaning.
He knew that there was a time for everything.