Monday, November 23, 2015


I have gone through life asking many questions.
Why this? Why that?
How come? When is it coming?
How much longer?
Life is full of questions. At times, we receive answers, and other times, the questions remain unanswered.

If you have ever lost a loved one, whether it be a family member or a dear friend, you wonder why? Why now? Why them? That kind of question is most likely not answered. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason for why things happen. They just do. 

We can't anticipate or plan for certain events that happen to us, or to someone we care deeply about. Oh how we wish we could. To have a heads up would be nice, wouldn't it?
The world throws things at us that we never expected. We watch cruel and inhumane things happen to our fellow brothers and sisters throughout the globe. We wish we could help. We would do anything to alleviate their pain. We can send money for relief efforts but we would rather be there on the ground helping out.

Life is unfair. Scott Peck, in his book, 'The Road Less Travelled" begins with the sentence :"Life is difficult". 
Seriously, who would want to keep reading after that start. Yet, millions did. I imagine that if we lived by thinking that life was difficult, that when bad things happened, we would just remember and venture on.
 For me, it has never worked like that. 
I remain surprised, filled with angst and act as if I believe something so terrible could never happened. I've lived through 
John Kennedy's assassination, and his brother Bobby. I was horrified when Martin Luther King Jr was gunned down. I actually was watching as the Challenger exploded. Was glued to my TV when the towers were hit. Felt grief stricken watching the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina devastate lives and land. Was shocked to hear the 200+ girls taken by Boko Harem in the middle of the night. And now, countless deaths at the hand of ISIS.

Yes, Scott Peck was correct.
But now what? How are we to respond? What are we to do?
Where do we turn?
The only place I can turn in times like this is to THE ONE who created life, God. He might not give me  answers. But I guess I can hurl my anger, vent my frustration, question why? Wonder if He saw or cares? That in itself gives me some kind of comfort.

But where do you go? How do you make sense of the terrible things, the loss of loved ones, the failure of your marriage, the rebellion of your children, the loss of your job, the death of your dreams?
We all need that place of safety.
I have this picture in my mind, that when I am so upset or hurt, that I become the little girl I remember and climb up into God's lap and just let him hold me. I don't picture God specifically, its just the safety and protection that He gives to me that brings some comfort, some solace.

In the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus says:
      " Do not let your hearts be troubled.
          Trust in God, trust also in Me."   
Who do you trust? Who do you turn to? Who comforts you?  
Where do you find the peace you so desperately crave?

If you don't have a place to go, may I suggest you give God a try?
Grab a bible. If you don't have one, go online to and look up the Gospel of John.
Start reading at the beginning and hear the Words of Jesus, who is the Son of God. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Then you can decide if He is worth trusting.

In these troubling times, the one thing I can vouch for is that this won't hurt, and for me and countless others, God and Jesus is where we find our peace. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

44 and Counting

Forty-four years ago, while driving home from college for a long Thanksgiving break, I made a decision that forever altered my life.
It was the BEST decision I have ever made bar none.
November 19, 1971 will forever be etched in my mind as the day I asked God to take over my life.

I was raised in a Catholic family. So I always knew about Jesus. I never questioned that He was the Son of God or that He died for my sins. I knew that I was a "sinner" since I was a young girl when I would do some not so nice things to others and was aware of my own selfishness.

What I didn't learn from the Catholic church is that Jesus wanted to be involved in my life EVERY SINGLE DAY. This was news to me. And even more astounding is that I would no longer have to go to a priest to confess my sins seeking forgiveness. I could go to God Himself. That was so comforting to me as I was at the stage of life where I was partying and beginning to dabble in sex. Not having to see a priest look at me, wondering what he was thinking always bothered me.

My walk with Christ has changed over the years. It has evolved, just as I believe we all evolve in becoming who we are.
The one thing that has never changed is His consistency and faithfulness to me. God has always been there. Usually for me, when I don't "feel" His presence, it has been me who has moved and not God.
I have learned to experience God in the mundane of my everyday life and also in the traumatic times. God has upheld me and comforted me through the deaths of both of my parents. He was with me when I lost 4 babies by miscarriage. Understood my pain and was present when my children experienced heartache, rebellion, mental illness, the desire to end a life. Christ gave me strength to be present for my best friend when she lost her son. Jesus has always been present, whether I knew it or not.

The blessings He has poured on my life are too numerous to count, but a marriage to a man who pursues Jesus and loves me is at the top. Having four children who as adults are trying to follow Christ each day and who marry spouses who do the same is the second and most important. The grandsons-well don't get me started on them; they are truly the joys of my life. The life long friends I have known are my support system, my people; the ones who are with me in the greatest moments and the worst. I could not imagine my life without them. The friends we have made through Young Life, whether it be staff friends, leaders, committee or my college buddies-they have each played an enormous impact on my life.
Two careers, one in nursing that allowed me to minister and care for hundreds, which will always be a part of me and the other working with college friends, trying to impact their lives to journey with Christ over a lifetime are gifts that I will bring with me wherever I go.

I have changed in these 44 years. My faith has shifted and changed. I see that as growth in becoming the woman that God envisions me to be. Things I once held true, no longer do. What I have learned is that no one can tell me exactly what my LORD thinks about certain controversial topics. We have the Word of God and are to pursue the mind of Christ, but what others say is not necessarily God's thoughts. My goal is to pursue Jesus, seek His wisdom, ask Him for direction. I may or may not receive answers in this lifetime and I have learned to be ok with that.

I have learned (finally) to go to Jesus first in most things. That was awhile in coming, but whether or not I hear directly from Him on matters that weigh heavy on my heart, at least I am confident that He hears me. 
If you know me or have read anything I have written, this will not surprise you to hear again that I absolutely love the Word of God. I never get bored reading it, probably because before each time I read the Bible, I ask God to show me more of Himself to me. I assume that this is a prayer He answers, because every single day I am impacted by His Truth.
Oh, these 44 years have been a journey. Sometimes the road is flat and straight and everything is peachy keen. Other times, the road is winding, full of curves I cannot see around, and is very scary. The thing is: it always straightens out again after a period of time and my breathing becomes easier once more.
The constant in this 44 years is Jesus Christ Himself.
I cannot fathom my life without Him. I shudder to think where I would be or what I would be like. I know that I am never alone.
That fact centers my life.
Thank you LORD JESUS for allowing me to know you, to walk with you through the many ups and downs of my life, and to be loved by you now and through eternity.
THAT IS MY GREATEST BLESSING and the hope that keeps me grounded.
44 years and counting.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


So much has been written already.
So much more will undoubtably be written.
Some of it is truth and some of it is propaganda-fueled by fear, by not wanting our status quo life to be interrupted.

Yes, Paris was horrific. What happened is a tragic loss of so many lives. Did they deserve it? Absolutely NO.
And as with Paris, there was despicable events in Bagdad, Beirut, Nigeria and other places. There was the catastrophic loss of lives in the Russian Aircraft that was hit.
All these events clearly have pierced my heart.

I am at a loss. I do not understand the evil that ISIS does. I know there is much hatred to the West, and to the United States in particular. I understand that they believe we only care about ourselves and our comfort; that we are capitalists and materialistic.
I also acknowledge that I am no expert whatsoever on Islam and the Muslim religion. What I do know is that over 90% of Muslims around the world, also abhor the atrocities that these jihadists partake in.

What has bothered me in the past two days is the amount of governors across our country who now refuse to have the Syrian refugees enter their states.
Whether we admit it or not, everyone of us, every single person in the United States is here because someone in their family tree, came to this country seeking refuge. Seeking  better lives for themselves and their families. Being able to worship the God they choose freely.

Now all of a sudden, much of the Republican presidential hopefuls are saying that no Muslim refugees are welcome. Some say only Christian refugees are welcome. One candidate says that none are welcome.
Oh please don't forget where you came from. You are here because either you or someone in your family wanted the freedoms the United States offered.

I  have a friend who wrote a blog about what a follower of Christ should be like in this time of global unrest.
What Frank says here is what I truly believe Jesus would say to us that profess to put our faith in Him.

It truly breaks my heart to see fellow believers want to keep these poor, driven from their homeland people out of our country. Is this really what Jesus would want? There is NOTHING that you can tell me that would make me believe that the God who created us all, would want us to turn our backs on these refugees, who have lost everything they own, plus often family members trying to escape the regime of Azad.
What if that was you? What if that was me?
Would you turn me away because I didn't believe in the same God you believe in?

This morning in my Bible (the ESV) I read from Luke 6:
     32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."

"But LOVE your enemies." 
That stopped me in my tracks; how do I love ISIS when in reality, I abhor what they do.
Followed by: 
"And do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return"
What is the good I believe I am to do? 
Help these refugees in any way I can. Welcome them. Help them get on their feet.
And yet remember again, that there was someone in each of our own family's, that came to this country wanting a new life, just as these people do.

"For He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil."
This is really hard for me. I admit, I am not there yet. It would be very very difficult for me to be kind if I was to meet a jihadist from ISIS who really wants nothing more to do with me, than to kill me.
This is where I need Jesus' help. Where we all need Jesus' help.
Yes it is completely incomprehensible to believe that Jesus Christ loves the people associated with ISIS. And yet, He died for them, just as much as He died for me.
He abhors the evil they have done; it crushes His heart. Yet He still loves them.

" Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful".
To be merciful is to show compassion. To show others that they matter. That their lives matter. Even when it inconveniences us. Even when it might produce fear in us. That is what ISIS wants to do to us, produce panic and fear, as evidenced by the report (and it has not been validated anywhere), that an ISIS snuck into Germany, through Greece as a refugee, to carry out the attacks in Paris.

What I would encourage each of us to do, is to read and study the words of Jesus.
He is incredibly more important than what some politician may say. His Words are always truthful. He is always loving. He is always kind and compassionate, and patient with us. He also always forgives.
O LORD GOD, may we all be more like Jesus.

Monday, November 2, 2015

totally OUT OF SORTS

I used to believe that Following Jesus meant being conservative, embracing conservative values and philosophies and  being involved in my church, was all I needed to be who God wanted me to be.
But now I believe that the most important thing I can do in my life, for me, for my family and those friends I love dearly, and everyone else is quite simple: Follow Jesus.

So many times in the Bible, Jesus calls others to "Follow Me".
And isn't that exactly what He is calling me (and quite possibly you) to do as well?

It is not about being conservative; I don't think I ever really embraced that. Although I was never hurt by the church, I know many who were. Perhaps being involved in a para church ministry my entire adult life precluded me from believing that the church was the end all, be all.
Quite possibly, we seemed to pick churches where we had friends and because of our own all encompassing ministry, we were not that involved in many church activities, except for me attending women's bible studies for years and years.

For many, the church (and what exactly is "the church"?) has hurt -hopefully unintentionally-their members, whether it be for what they say is the "gospel truth", or for the values they impose (ie we don't drink, dance, swear or go with those who do). Maybe as you went for advice about doubts or why God says this in the Bible, you were told something that made you feel belittled, or that you weren't the "christian" you were supposed to be.

Sarah Bessey(author of Jesus Feminist) has written another book, called "Out of Sorts: making Peace with an Evolving Faith.

This book is truly a gem. I have underlined and highlighted so much, that well, you might think I am a bit pen happy. BUT REALLY.
I have been on this faith journey for 44 years now and from the 19 year old college sophomore to the 63 year old Grammy, my faith has changed, shifted, grown and become much more compassionate, realizing much much more that I don't always know the answers, and that GOD IS THE ULTIMATE GIVER OF ANSWERS AND JUDGE.

There are so many quotes I want you to see, but also realize that might take up another book in itself.
It would be hard to pick a favorite, but one that really captured me was:

     " If our theology doesn't shift and change over our lifetimes, then I have to wonder if we're paying attention. The Spirit is often breathing in the very changes or shifts that used to terrify us."

Looking back over forty plus years of walking with Christ, I realize it is really a journey. A journey that has its ups and downs. Those straight aways when you see clearly and are sailing ahead smoothly. Those winding mountains with the curves that can scare us and bring forth our fears, the ones that you don't expect and blurs your vision for a time, and then there is the valleys. Those places where you have been blind-sided, where your hope might vanish, the doubts are debilitating, the grief unending. It could be from an unexpected loss;  a death of a loved one, a spouse leaving, a pink slip, a broken relationship. It can be from lingering and unrelenting mental illness. In the valley, you just want a break. A brief respite from the deep pain and often there is nothing. God's silence is LOUD.
And finally there is a break, you begin to trust God again, you make some forward motion steps, and you can see a road-any road, that might lead you out of the valley.

How I have viewed God for now going on five decades has shifted and changed. Some things have remained constant: I know He loves me. I know He is there, even in the deafening silence. I know He cares. But have I doubted? Yes. Plenty of times. Do I wonder if He hears my cries for help. I know He does, but His answers often take forever in coming (or so it seems).
I have seen His hand of protection over a loved one's life when He spared them from a suicide attempt, but I wonder, why some others succeed.
I have wondered if God slept when atrocities are being committed all over and throughout history.
I have many questions that are unanswered.

What I have learned is that God doesn't change. I do.
As the years go by, I have known Him better. Been the recipient of multiple and multiple graces.
I realize that I don't have the answers. That only God does. And well meaning pastors have told me things that aren't true, and then I wonder why God would place them over people.
My faith has changed; I have become more compassionate and way less judging of others.
I want to love and show Christ's love. I don't want to condemn, but I want to accept others and pray that they too will come to know the ONE who gave them life.

This is basically what the book, Out of Sorts is about. Navigating your faith through your lifetime.
Sarah Bessey gives us her reasons for choosing to follow Jesus day in and day out. In spite of the messiness. In spite of being hurt and lonely. Cheering us on to be what Jesus envisions us to be.
She considers the Church as a whole and reminds us that we are the church. We are Christ's ambassadors here and now. Are we representing Him accurately?
She writes about the Bible, what we think and believe, how to ponder the questions we have freely and without guilt. She writes about the people in our lives, our community.
What she writes about is FAITH.

Sarah Bessey is real and authentic. She is honest with her questions and how she has been hurt.
She is so genuine in her love for Jesus and others; this fact leaks out page after page.
If you have never heard of her, you need to.
She writes with honesty and conviction. And she blesses the socks out of me. I read her words with a pen in hand. I take notes and ponder her words.
What she expresses over and over again is Jesus's words: FOLLOW ME. And invites and encourages us to do the same. Sarah isn't perfect; none of us are. But she longs for Jesus with a heart that seeks Him diligently. And isn't that what we all should be desiring.
Oh IF ONLY, I had this book at her age!!