Muddling Through the Fog

It looked likely to become a dark and stormy night. Suntanned and a bit tired from the day’s outing in the mountains, our family felt cheerful as we drove through the valley, trying to beat the impending bad weather to our cabin. Our chances of that began to look bleak. As Murphy’s Law would predict, anything that could go wrong did.

We had started up the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountains when we realized we’d forgotten to get gas. We turned around for the town we had passed through a few miles back, understanding that we were losing time against the rolling clouds. At the gas station it was not only fuel, but a restroom that was needed. With a family of six, that takes a bit.

After the quickest possible stop for fuel, we once again headed up the two-lane road over the mountains. Dusk was coming quickly for us on the unfamiliar winding highway. About ten minutes into the climb we drove into a wall of cloud. Not just a gentle lowland fog like we were used to, but an honest-to-goodness, totally opaque cloud. Immediately, we had to slow down. Headlights couldn’t penetrate the fog bank; in fact, they made visibility worse as our headlights reflected back off the water droplets of the fog.

We were traveling in a rather new vehicle and had no clue how to turn on the fog lights. After creeping along a quarter of a mile or so, we caught a glimpse of a sign for a scenic pull-off. Cautiously wrangling the car into the pull-off, we parked and grabbed the User’s Manual to figure out the fog lights.

We managed to get them on and pulled back onto the road hoping the fog was temporary and would have abated some. But no, if anything it was getting more dense. Even with the fog lights to help visibility, I had to slow down to 5-10 miles per hour. My husband, concerned about a low shoulder or drop off, rolled down his window and stuck his head out to make sure I was within the line marking the edge of the pavement.

It was a tense period of time. The kids were hushed in the back seat sensing our tension. I had a white knuckle grip on the wheel, and my husband spoke only as necessary to give me driving warnings or encouragement as we crept higher into the mountain fog. Some relief came as we felt ourselves top the mountain and begin our descent into the valley on the other side.

Although it seemed like hours of creeping through the fog, in reality it was probably thirty minutes or less until we broke out of the fog when we were several hundred feet down the other side. As suddenly as it had come the fog was gone. The tension in the car broke with exhaled breaths, and a bit of lighthearted chatter picked back up.

Why do I tell this long story? I’m glad you asked.

In life we may be cruising along having a happy time – then suddenly, we are hit with the unexpected. It often feels quite like my trip through that fog bank.

The Problem.

  • It interrupts our plans.
  • We can’t see through the problem, and find ourselves anxious or fearful about the trek we are on.
  • We try everything we know to do, but nothing gets us out of the situation, be it a health, relational, financial or another type situation.
  • We find we are NOT in control. We are forced to trust – trust ourselves, trust God, trust the procedures or advice from the experts (the Owner’s manual).
  • We must wait. And waiting is not the strong suit for most of us. But patience is a fruit of the spirit.

The Solution.

Our only recourse in those foggy life adventures, is to do what we know to do. That includes:

  • pray
  • dig in the Word
  • seek godly wisdom from others who have gone through the situation
  • wait in faith for God to bring us through the murky mess
  • turn loose of control

As you face your next crisis, storm, or trial, remember these steps, and the following verses. The Father will guide you through your fog bank.

Isaiah 64:4 – Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

Psalm 139:1-5 – You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before,  and you lay your hand upon me.

Genesis 50:19-20 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Romans 8:28 & 32 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. … 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

May the End of Your Story Be His Glory!

“This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” John 11:4

Sometimes a single word can light up your brain with a whole story or a huge lesson. Names especially can do this: Nemo… DeSoto… Madame Curie… and from scripture, names like Zaccheus… Lazarus… You could give me The Story on each of these most likely. I thought I could too. At least until yesterday when I saw something new in the Lazarus narrative I had never seen before. Studying through the book of John, something leapt off the page of God’s Word.

Last week, in preparation for Sunday, I had read John 11 in its entirety, read some commentary on it, and was sitting in Sunday morning Bible class participating in a discussion pretty familiar with the chapter. As we reflected on details, we flipped back and forth observing verses that fleshed out the basics we can all re-tell so easily. We had looked at every kids’ favorite memory verse in John 11:35 – “Jesus wept.” Now, the focus of the moment had turned to Jesus’ behavior at the first part of the chapter when He received word that His friend was sick, before Lazarus had died. The part where Jesus didn’t rush to Bethany and prevent Lazarus from dying!

As I flipped back to look at what happened, verse 4 caught my eye.

“This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” John 11:4

Right here, at the beginning, Jesus had told His disciples that this wouldn’t end in death. Then he lingered before He went, and Lazarus died. BUT this was only the middle of the story, not the end. You know the end: stinky four-day-old corpse, opening of the tomb, Jesus speaks a command, and out walks Lazarus, Zombie-style in grave clothes – Alive! It was a Hallelujah ending!

What began with sickness and a plea to the Messiah for help, proceeded through death, burial, and grieving, but ended with Glory!

Ladies, I wish I could tell you to just follow Jesus and your life will be rainbows and sunshine. But we all know “No rain, no rainbows.” What I can tell you with assurance are these things:

  • God is allowing your story to be written according to His plan. Jer. 29:11
  • You can call to Him and He will hear. Jer. 29:12-13
  • Like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ story, there will be sadness, grieving and death in the middle of our stories.
  • BUT – and I pray Dear friend, that you know Christ, because if you do – you can be certain that the end of your story will be Jesus’ glory!

So take heart this week. If it seems Jesus is delaying in doing something you are asking Him to do, or if He isn’t preventing death from entering your story, remember that He has Glory for the End of Your Story! Hope in the Lord!

A Word For Your Year

Every December as one year ends and another begins, I find myself seeking God for my word for the year and my Bible verse for the year. These two things give me an anchor through the storms that will come over the upcoming 365 days. This word and verse becomes a safety line I cling to in the floods of life to pull me back to firm, dry ground. In this world we will have troubles, scripture tells us. Having a firm grasp of a word from the Father sustains us mentally and spiritually on the unknown road ahead.

If you haven’t made choosing a word for the year your practice, I would encourage you to start doing so this year. Just to inspire some thoughts I’ve listed specific words and verses friends have told me about or ones I’ve used myself. See if God brings one to your attention or if He gives you your own unique Word of the Year.

Listen. “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Proverbs 1:5

Grace. “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Cor. 12:9 ~OR~

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Col. 4:6

Hope. “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Prov. 25:5

Life. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20

Kind. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Eph. 4:32

Trust. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs. 3:5-6

Rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28

Joy. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom. 15:13

Celebrate! “Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.” Luke 15:23

Worship. “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24

Humility. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs. 11:2

Truth. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Silence and Solitude. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35


“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

As I decorated my house for Christmas this year I had to fight some monsters. Their names? Newer, Better and Buy More. We had downsized to a new home and suddenly I wanted to go crazy buying decorations to adorn my tree, table, mantle, yard, door, … you name it. I saw others’ spectacular holiday decorations when I visited them or in pictures posted on Facebook, which made me want to do even more. The Greed Monster was awakened within me!

On a mid-December run to Hobby Lobby it was a real battle. I was going “just to get gift tags, tissue paper, and more tape.” But when I went in I couldn’t help handling all the pretty holiday decorations. It’s amazing how they come out with more cute things every year; surely companies could only re-invent Christmas decorations so many times! I managed to get out with just a couple of sale items more than what my list had called for. Whew!

As I sat at home with my tree twinkling, ready to wrap the rest of the presents, I began to wonder why I was so pulled to buy, buy, buy this year. I’ve puzzled over it for the last hour, and here I sit with some thoughts some of you may identify with.

First, I don’t want to look like a scrooge to new neighbors who have only known me five months. Second, Christmas is my favorite Holy Day. I love celebrating the birth of my Savior and want to focus all my energy toward making known the source of Christmas celebrations. Neither of those are bad reasons. But then there is my dirty little reason number three! It was revealed to me in my Bible reading.

Peter told us in the verse above that our outward adornment should not be our goal. For me, my home, as an extension of my personality, beliefs and family heritage, are included in that adornment. I’m instructed not to get too focused on clothes, adornments and all those finer things. But why does he say that? Are those things evil? No. But for at least one of us – ME – those things become a trap. They become the measuring stick I use on myself to see if I meet up to the criteria I feel society is expecting of me. This is the sad reason number three, those decorations are my means to getting compliments and strokes from folks that will make by heart swell with pride and joy.

Joy – that’s great. And PRIDE – ugh! My prideful heart seeks contentment from being seen and known and valued through those outer adornments, those glittery, sparkly trinkets. Things that can’t bring contentment.

If I go back to Peter’s words I find what can offer that contentment to my heart. I find what I should be adorning my home and self with is a beautiful inner self, unfading beauty that flows from a gentle and quiet spirit whose source is Father God Himself.

So if you can identify with my monsters or similar ones, join me in kneeling at a manger. Put the glitter and shine in the rearview mirror and meditate on the earthy sights and sounds of a Savior who came as a babe to redeem us from our sin. Turn to this Savior, Jesus, and His Word, and let yourself be adorned with the contentment, joy, and peace your heart yearns for. It is found only in Him, not in all that glitters.

The Gifts

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

It was Christmastime. Our family was in the hustle and bustle of Christmas parties, our church pageant, decorating, and shopping. With four kids ranging in age from five to fifteen, there was the normal busyness too: school, lessons, friends, etc. With all that and elderly grandparents depending on us to take them to doctor appointments that year, my mom calendar was overloaded.

In the heat of the season, my 5-year-old came to me with a request.

“Mommy, can you take me to buy presents for everyone?” he asked with gentle, sincere eyes.

“Well Sweetie, do you have any money?” I asked in return.

“Yes ma’am. I’ve saved up my birthday money. I have $20.”

I knew he had at least 5 gifts to buy, so I wasn’t confident he could afford to gift “everyone.” But he was determined. So we planned to go later that evening.

After supper we made the trek to our neighborhood Kmart store. As we were walking in, he started listing all the people he wanted to buy for. Besides his dad, siblings and me, he also listed his three grandparents! In my head I was trying to divide $20 by 8, and quickly realized he was going to have about $2.00 per gift to spend to allow for tax and everything. So I began spewing my doubt.

“Now you don’t have much money. You may not be able to buy for everyone on your list. Do you want to just get dad and your brother and sisters something?”

“No. I’ll have enough money. I want to buy them all.”

So in we went. And it was the best Christmas shopping trip ever!

I don’t remember every gift; it’s been twenty years ago. But I vividly remember searching for the first one. He wanted to go to the housewares department. We went up and down several short aisles before he stopped in front of the drinking glasses. He scanned the shelves for a few seconds and then reached and picked up a green, plastic glass. It was hard, clear plastic, fat and squatty, with raised diamond shapes etched all around the outside and a faux glass appearance.

“I’m getting this for Grandmother,” he announced.

“So… Why did pick this for her?”

He replied, “Well it’s pretty, and I think she’ll like it. And with her arthritis she has trouble holding some glasses that are slick and heavy. But this one is light, and it has those ridges on the outside so it won’t slip out of her hand. And it’s short so it won’t get tipped over so easy.”

I was a bit stunned. My 5-year-old son had logically and with compassion, thought through to choose a perfect gift for his grandmommy who had severe rheumatoid arthritis.

“And,” he finished his list of whys, “it only costs $0.50 so it leaves me with money for others.”

As we wandered all over that store, each gift was a repeat of that type scenario. Each was thought through with a focus on each person’s desires or needs and with a keen eye towards price. Silly Putty for a sibling who loved that and had lost theirs, an inexpensive nose and ear hair trimmer for Daddy from the dollar shelf, and on it went. Finally, he had chosen seven wonderful, inexpensive gifts that were just right for each family member.

“You need to go away now,” he then announced.

“Oh! Ok. But I can’t leave you alone,” I reminded him.

He thought a minute, then said, “Will you walk with me and stop where I tell you and not look the direction I’m shopping?”

I accepted his proposal and followed where he led. I let him know how much money he still had (and it wasn’t much), then dutifully turned my back to him. He shopped a minute, then walked past me with his arms and body curled protectively around my gift that he was trying to keep hidden.

We proceeded to the cash register. I let the lady know that he was buying a gift he wanted to keep secret from me. She said she would scan it first and wrap it in tissue and put it in a separate bag. After it was hidden in its bag, I could turn around and help him finish checking out. He proudly paid with his $20 and had just enough. His birthday money had been sacrificed for the family members his 5-year-old heart adored.

As we walked out of the store, I thought I had never seen a child of mine smiling so proudly and with such sheer delight. His giving heart was thrilled. He had come with a mission to give and had accomplished it.

We give gifts at Christmas because God gave us the greatest gift over two thousand years ago. He gave because He loved us. His focus was on our deep need. He purposed to give to make a way for our redemption. His was a Priceless gift that cost Him dearly.

In every aspect, my son’s gift-giving had been a reflection of the heart and motives of Father God!

In this season of gift-giving, may you reflect the Father in your giving. May you give joyfully and freely out of a heart of love. As you bless others, may the pleasure of giving bless you even more than the gifts bless those you buy for. May you remember it’s not the expensiveness of the item given that matters, it is the love and the thoughtfulness from the heart of the one who takes time to choose a gift “just for you.”

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

In Everything Give Thanks!

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

It’s that day. The day we are supposed to be thankful. Some of us will embrace it joyfully and wholeheartedly, thankful for food, relationships, health, … thankful for life.

Others of us will struggle. We find ourselves at a crossroads with unexpected things just ahead. We may be alone, wounded, hurt or rejected. We could be in a place we’d rather not be: a hospital, rehab, temporary accommodations. Instead of a feast of turkey, dressing, sides and desserts, we may be staring at meager fare, a microwaved plate, or an unappealing bed tray.

If you find yourself in a strange place, with strange people or hard circumstances and microscopic amounts of a thankful spirit, you are not alone. You are in the company of many other people, and you are under the watchful care of the Father.

We often equate thankfulness with good things and abundance only, but scripture instructs us to give thanks in everything. In every situation.

In sickness… I may not be thankful hugging a toilet bowl throwing up with a stomach bug, but I can be thankful that I have a home in which to be sick and to rest.

When family and friends aren’t around… I can be thankful I’m alive and have opportunity to make friends or to be with family another time.

If money is tight… I can be thankful for the clothes I’m wearing and a place to stay.

As I grieve the loss of a loved one… I can be thankful for having had them in my life and that God made us to have memories, where I can always recall our good times together.

In joblessness… facing court… being alone in a foreign country (as many of our military and others are)… sitting at an empty table… in the darkness of depression… staring a cancer diagnosis in the face… brokenhearted over a family member trapped in addiction… grieving a loss… or whatever difficult thing you are facing, here are some things you can be thankful for.

Life. Breath. Emotions. Love. Jesus. God’s world. Quiet or Joyful noise. Shelter. Warmth. Compassionate People. Your fellow church members. The Present – This Moment. Pets. Colors. Music. Yummy things – Taste. Sight or Hearing or Mobility. Kindness. The Lessons your trial is teaching your heart. God’s Word. Prayer. Salvation. That God will be your refuge and will come through for you and will work all things for good.

Find things to be thankful for today – large or small. Write them down and look at them. Gratefulness encourages our heart. Be grateful.

Hope the following songs encourage you! Happy Thanksgiving!

“He Will” by Ellie Holcombe Red Sea Road by Ellie Holcombe You are Loved by Ellie Holcombe

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Priceless and the GFBC Women’s Ministry!

E.R. Visit

In the local news this week they were reminding people not to use the hospital emergency room as a doctor for a non-emergency. (Who would, with the price of using an ER, but undoubtedly people do.) This news story got me to thinking. Emergency rooms are for a specific purpose – emergencies. Often people turn to God’s Word in times of crisis or trauma. Which we can and should do. But do we turn to God’s Word as a spiritual ER? Do we, do you, run to His word only in an emergency?

We’re told we should go to the doctor regularly, but we’re so busy we put off those checkups! We’re also told we should spend time in God’s Word each day. But once again, we’re so busy we put it off. In this hectic American culture we live in, it is a challenge to find time for everything we have to do, want do, and are told we should do. Between work, family, kids homework, sports, grocery shopping, and household chores, we (collectively) tend to feel that the random Sunday morning jaunt to God’s house is all we can add to our schedule. Reading our Bible every morning? Who has even 5 minutes? “I’ll make sure and read my Bible tomorrow …this weekend …I’ll start again in January,” we say.

The problem with turning to God’s Word only in our traumas and tragedies is that we never get to know Him. Just like the anonymous ER nurse or doctor, we need Him in the moment, call His name to come fix the IV, and when we’re well, then we’re off. Back to normal life and we have no relationship with Him.

A daily time of reading or listening to God’s Word is crucial for our long term spiritual health and our ability to cope with life. That’s how we get to know Father God and develop that relationship with Him. When we come to know the Father, the Great Physician, it’s like having a personal relationship with our doctor. Only better!

We can give him a call in a moment of need and he’ll be there to help. He knows the diagnosis and the correct cure. We can ask Him for advice. He has all the wisdom of the universe. He knows our history, what has plagued us in the past and how that affects our current situation. He treats us tenderly. He knows our heartbeat and our very breath. He can recommend the best treatment for our specific condition.

Our role in the treatment is the same as with a doctor. We must do two things.

First, we must come to Him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mathew 11:28) We do this through His Word. As we come to those pages each day we are learning from Him and listening to Him and receiving healing.

Second, we must follow His orders, including getting the prescription filled and following His advice. Spiritually that means simply obeying what we learn from Him in the Bible.

Let’s get our spiritual health in order by coming to God’s Word each day to have a relationship with Him. Let’s quit using God’s Word only as a spiritual ER when we are in crisis.

Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright

As a homeschooling mom for sixteen years, there were random times of insecurity and questioning about whether my kids were getting as good of an education as I thought they were. I was diligent, well prepared, and conscientious about their schooling. I did lesson plans and research and prep work. I planned field trips, experiments, and reinforcing projects. But… Was I educating them as thoroughly as I thought I was? Could they make the score they needed on the ACT to get into college? Would they be able to “make it” in college? Would they be equipped for life? Would I overlook something and “cripple” them in their education? “What about socialization?” everyone asked. As I stressed through years of schooling four kiddos my emotions were up and down. Fears abounded.

Now those little kids range in age from 25-35. My answer to my previous fears – Yes, they were getting a quality education. No, I didn’t ruin them. They have now all graduated, gone to college, and are thriving in their preferred fields. Two are pursuing post-graduate degrees, one of those being my little dyslexic (who did not learn to read until 3rd grade!). They live all over the US and the world. And they even have friends-lots of friends! It’s amazing that socialization hasn’t been an issue. (Wink!)

I look back now at all my fears, tears and sleepless nights and realize that those were a waste of time. How much more could I have done with my mind if I had not wasted precious hours letting those negative thoughts and doubts take-up residence in my mind.

Friends, we have a loving Father who tells us in His Word that “All things work together for good for those who love Him…” All things! Even an imperfect mom for a teacher. Even a frequently messy house. Even bad things like my sins and failings, were put to good use in teaching me and allowing me to see my great need for a Savior. He tells us He is with us always. That He will rescue us. That He will provide for us. That we don’t need to fear.

Did I listen to these words of truth and comfort as a busy young mom? No, not when I was in the heat of battle. If only I would have acted in belief. Because now, looking back I can see, God handled Every. Little. Thing. These days I’ve learned to cling to my history with my Faithful Father – to base my faith in how He has treated me in the past. I can say with Samuel, “Thus far the Lord has helped me.” I know and can rely on who He is and what He has done (and will do), and it makes potential worrisome thoughts today easier to bear up under.

My experience as a homeschooler may not be yours, but my God is yours, and He always acts according to His character and not according to my frail human expectations. So what is my point for you? Don’t wait until you’re near retirement age to give up the worrying and fear. Do it now. Choose today to begin acting in faith based on Jehovah’s character, not on your doubts or what is going on around you. As Anna Sewell stated in Black Beauty “Do your best, And leave the rest, ‘Twill all come right Some day or night.”

Remember that you have a faithful Father and that every little thing is gonna be alright! Really.