The Journey: Staying in Your Lane

Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.’ ” John 14:23-24

Driving to church on a random week day recently, spiritual inspiration struck me as clearly as the light and Jesus’ voice from heaven had flashed around Saul and struck him blind on the road to Damascus.

Running late to a meeting that day and being fairly sure that no cars would be coming down the winding, hilly drive from the church at 8:15am, I allowed myself 45 seconds to slap on a couple of dots of cover stick, some powder, lipstick, and blush as I drove. As I came around the big curve of the drive I was straddling the yellow line and speeding as well. To my shock a truck was coming towards me in one of my lanes. I dropped the blush, jerked the wheel back to my right, and let off the gas. I easily avoided him and corrected my lax driving; it was not a near miss. We were both safe. But that’s when the light dawned.

As we drive through life, we know the rules of the road. We pretty much follow them on the asphalt as well as on that Christian drive down the narrow path. But there are those times when situations set us up to choose failure, both literally and metaphorically. We allow thought patterns to begin that try to justify or excuse breaking the law.

I’m really late for work. I have to speed or I’ll get in trouble with the boss.

I’ll have time to make it through that yellow light – even if it changes red – before the cross street can start up.

OR… maybe I’m not even making a conscious choice, but veering out of my lane because I’m texting or otherwise distracted, maybe putting on make-up…


The same thing happens on the road with Christ too. We veer out of our lane of faithful obedience to Christ and excuse it as a little thing. Just a distraction. Just this once. Everyone else does. God will understand.

Times when the truth would sound better if we embellished it a little. (Lying.)

Saying all the holy, godly things around our church friends when we just had a horrible fight with our spouse or when we haven’t spent time in the Word or prayer in 2 weeks. (Seeking to please men more than God.) 
Allowing ourselves that one secret sin because we’re feeling discouraged or lonely. (Manipulation, spending, cheating, consuming alcohol or drugs, shopping, indulging…)
Bursting out in anger because our thought patterns have convinced us that we have a right to. (Selfishness.)

Staying in our lane requires focus – on Christ – not on the things around us. It requires vigilance of our sinful hearts and thought patterns. It requires humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God. It requires self-control.

As you drive through your day, literally and metaphorically, stay in your lane, Girls. We honor Jesus and show Him our love through faithful obedience. Let’s not veer to the right or the left. When we live above reproach as scripture commands, we become the light of Christ to the world. The secular world is looking for us to fail, to give them cause to discount the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s be vigilant and focused so that we do not cause a devastating wreck that leaves an unsaved life hanging in the balance.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Philippians 2:14-15


“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Perspective on This Romantic Holiday

Happy Valentine’s Day to each of you!

No matter your romantic connections or lack thereof, may you know today in your heart of hearts how deeply you are loved by the Father !

This Repost seemed like a useful thing to share today! Hope you enjoy and find encouragement!

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:7-11

Step up and show love to those around you today! Make someone’s day!


(By the Hair of My Chinny-Chin-Chin!)


Not a word we want to have used to define us. I’m thinking of the those cold sweat dreams where you believe you’ve arrived at work without your pants on – exposed! Or of politicians and power brokers – so many exposed for so much lately! Or of the word exposé – an article that gives shockingly lurid details about someone we never dreamed would’ve behaved in such a way.

forest-fog-sunny-nature-615348But sometimes being exposed is good. Don’t believe it? How about photographs? If film was not exposed to light it would never retain the image we cherish and reminisce over so fondly. And plants. If plants were not exposed to sunlight they couldn’t feed themselves or grow or bear fruit. And our bodies. Lack of exposure to sunlight can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency. Being exposed to the light can be very beneficial.

This was proven to me in an instant one bright sunny afternoon.

Driving to Wal-Mart I got stopped by a red light. As I glanced in my review mirror at the car behind me, the sunlight struck my chin perfectly and shocked me into distraction! lighted-makeup-magnifying-mirror-1003There on MY chin were a half-dozen hairs clearly visible in the illuminating sunlight. Now I am not that old and was not prepared for what I saw. Time seemed to stand still as I tried unsuccessfully to remove those hairs with my bare fingers. My moment ended with the car behind me honking to break me out of my distractedness. I made my way to the store and beelined it straight to the lighted, magnifying, make-up mirrors! I didn’t have the money that day, but put it on my wish list and am now the owner of a well-used lighted make-up mirror.

My point here? I was going happily along in life feeling I was doing just fine. But when my world was illuminated, I could suddenly see what all those around me were seeing each time we chatted. Light had exposed my flaw. Now I could, and do regularly, correct it. Scripture actually talks about this! Not my hairy chin, but how light exposes things and helps us.

“You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” Ephesians 5:8-13


We were once darkness. But we are commanded here to walk as children of Light. We’re told we’ll bear good fruit if we stay in the light just like those green plants do. We’re challenged to separate ourselves from dark deeds and to allow The Light (notice it was capitalized in scripture!) to expose the flaws within us. Yikes! That can be so painful. BTDT! But it is so necessary.

I encourage you today to take your heart and mind and attitudes and will and emotions before the Light. Allow the Lord to use Scripture to divinely illuminate those areas that need a little plucking done!

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7.


“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17


Raise the White Flag


Not the word I wanted when I started praying and seeking God for my “word for the year.”

For the last few years our pastor has encouraged us to pray through December and January and seek a word the Lord was laying on our heart that would be our focus for that year.

My first year was Life. I was struggling with an unseen health issue and felt I was dying. Literally and truly. As I claimed the word Life for that year and sought to walk in faith, the Lord brought me to a healing answer in April, and I spent the rest of the year building strength and fully living again.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Then there was my word Grace. Specifically the Lord impressed upon my heart that I was to show grace to my husband! That may not sound hard, but I must confess I was more eager to show grace to strangers than to my husband. He was a Christian, he knew me, he was committed to me,… I held him to a standard no human being could meet. I was unjust, unkind, and completely lacking in grace toward him that January. But throughout that year of God working grace in my heart, and me intentionally seeking to show grace to my husband, our life has taken a sweet turn. Grace offers sweetness to those around us. In this tough world we each need all the grace we can get.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

So here I sit this year looking at a hateful word. But it’s my word. Surrender. I know it’s my word. I knew it before 2017 struck midnight for the last time. And the Lord has reconfirmed it several times. Most unmistakably through my devotional reading for the year. As I read My Utmost for His Highest on January 1st, in the last sentence of the day, my dear friend Oswald said, “…surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.” Then today, once again, God spoke directly to me through Mr. Chambers on this last day of the first month. “God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character. Paul [the apostle] was not conscious of himself. He was recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God for one purpose – to proclaim the gospel of God.”

For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race. Romans 9:3

Am I willing? Willing to surrender? To surrender myself, surrender my will, surrender my hands-1139098_640image, surrender my inclusion in Christ if that’s what it takes for the redemption of another? I must truthfully say, No. Not at this point. The Lord is beginning this work of surrender in me. But I’m not a completed pot of clay in His hand. I’m the lump being molded and shaped upon the Potter’s wheel, and squashed down and built up again until I reach the shape of surrender. What is the shape of surrender, I wonder? Is it flat? Prone? Facedown?

I have a feeling it will be a hard year but a good one. It is always hard for us when we have to die to self. To surrender self. To lay self on the altar to be burned up in sacrifice. I’m like the ram caught in the thicket that was sacrificed in the place of Isaac. I don’t by nature willingly or eagerly surrender; God has to catch me in the branches to prepare me to die to myself. I imagine I’m not alone. I assume this is the human, fleshly reaction. But the apostle Paul had been so transformed into the image of Christ that His reaction was not the fleshly one. His specific statement from his heart was:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21.


That is surrender. Will I reach that point of surrender? Will you?

Find your word from the Lord for this year, be it a single word or verse. Seek the point of focus God has for you this year.

Make it your aim to allow Him to work it out in you this year and to live it out at every opportunity. Lay yourself out before the Father daily as you hear from Him in His word. Allow His shaping process in your life.


Forfeit your queen at the feet of The King!

I Need a Do-Over

My oldest grandson had a habit as a pre-schooler of asking for a “do-over.” When little brother was put in the car first, but Jackson wanted to be first; he would want us to get Ryan out and let him go first. When I started down the stairs to go outside before he was ready, he wanted me to come back upstairs and let him go first. When Papa cut his sandwich in half horizontally, and Jackson wanted it cut diagonally, he would ask Papa to make another one and cut it “the right way.” When someone got the toy from the play room but he wanted to get it, once again he wanted it put back where he could go do it. As you can tell, some of these issues were easy to “fix,” while others weren’t. We didn’t always have the time or inclination to “fix” every situation. Since these situations were so common during that stage of his little life, and since our sweet preschooler needed help learning to handle these disappointments, we took to using the term “rewind.”

“I want a rewind” became a repeated refrain around this Gigi’s house! Sometimes we accommodated his requests, sometimes not. Jackson would even walk in reverse to re-set when we allowed these do-overs. As I observed him during those months of frustration, I couldn’t help but think how many times I have wished I could “rewind” a situation and do something differently as it played out the next time. Even grown-ups can use a “do-over” option. Mistakes happen. Tempers flare unintentionally. Words get misinterpreted. Possessions get lost or damaged. Hearts get wounded. Then comes the embarrassment, regret, broken relationships, and the question of how to “fix” the situation. We all long for help with these “if only” situations. The bad news: we can’t really rewind the clock.

But, I have good news! As with any part of life, scripture offers insight into handling these difficulties! So let’s take a look. Warning: You may not like what God’s word recommends, but that doesn’t make it wrong. That just makes you have to choose to do the right-hard-thing instead of the wrong-easy-thing; it makes you put your big girl pants on! Let’s take a look.


“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:12-15


1. Our willingness to forgive shows the condition of our heart. A heart sold out to God forgives and receives forgiveness in return. A heart sold out to self reacts, acts sinfully, and chooses NOT to forgive, and therefore comes face to face with the unforgiving judgment of God. This is made clear in the story from Matthew 18 where the servant who has been forgiven much would not forgive the one who owed him little.

“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’  And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:21-35

2. As we forgive, we reflect to the world the unconditional forgiveness and mercy that God has to offer. When we act like the rest of the world Satan wins and the world never sees that glimpse of God’s forgiveness and mercy.

3. If we think we can come to God through religious rituals while carrying unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts, we’re mistaken. We must first lay down these offenses and forgive from the heart before offering our prayers and acts of worship.

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Matthew 11:25


4. It’s a command.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” Colossians 3:12-15


Humble yourself.

1. Once again, it’s a command.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord” James 4:10


2. It follows Jesus’ example.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:3-8


3. Turn the other cheek. It takes mega amounts of humility to turn the other cheek when someone has wronged you. Responding appropriately, with godly behaviors when we feel wronged and mistreated will not happen if we are puffed up with pride.

“You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38-42


Use gentle words.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1


Don’t react to someone else’s bad behavior with bad behavior yourself. In today’s society we often have what my grandma would call a “tit for tat” mentality; we reason that since they behaved badly we are justified in responding to them with what we would otherwise consider bad behavior. Let me set the record straight, nothing justifies our bad behavior. Nothing justifies our sinful choice. We are responsible for every choice we make, including our choice of how to respond when people sin against us.

Control yourself in the first place.

Then you won’t need a rewind! Galatians chapter 5 says it all on this subject:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”  Galatians 5:22-26

I really don’t like this lesson. It reminds me NOT to live in the flesh, when that is exactly what I want to do in the moment. It gives me a higher standard than the world does, and it doesn’t offer an easy out for any of us. If these were just my words, you could ignore them. If these were just noble, wise sayings I could ignore them and get that revenge I really want to dish out. But these are Our Father’s words. Your Creator’s words. And while I grit my teeth as I bend my knee to obey sometimes, I also realize that His plan is far greater than I comprehend. Living life His way will have long-term good effects on my life that I can’t anticipate, and will make us less apt to need a do-over and more willing to walk through the after effects of those “if only” moments with forgiveness, humility, gentleness, and self-control.

Have some fruit – the fruit of the Spirit that is!



My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things.
Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells
And schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things.
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver-white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things.
When the dog bites, When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things

And then I don’t feel so bad.

The Christmas season rings with the chords of this uplifting song. Although it’s not really a Christmas themed song, we regularly hear it each December. Perhaps it’s because of an old habit TV stations had back in the day of airing The Sound of Music each Christmas Eve. Or maybe it’s because at this season we make out our Christmas wish lists like little children and we think of all the things we wish we had. Or it could be just a carry over from the Thanksgiving holiday of thinking about our blessings. Whatever the reason I love it! It reminds me to focus on the beautiful things, the small things, the ordinary overlooked blessings in our lives.

As I sat at breakfast today in a beautiful hotel restaurant while accompanying my husband on a business trip, my mind flooded with thoughts. The Eggs Benedict, that I got to enjoy in a leisurely manner, is something that I only eat once a year when I’m on this business trip with him and have a chef to prepare it for me. It propelled me into thoughts of my favorite things:

  • Eggs Benedict for breakfast (of course)
  • Christmas – celebrating the Christ child’s birth with family.
  • My oldest grandchild’s first snowy, peaceful Christmas with us.
  • High school football games.
  • Twinkling lights.
  • Coffee conversations with friends.
  • The Pinesol and candle scent of my clean house.
  • A walk in the autumn leaves.
  • Snow.
  • Any book that grabs me so that I can’t put it down.

Those are a few of my favorite things.

What about you? Why don’t you make a list and check it twice of all your favorite things.

There’s something about that exercise that makes a heart light and joyful rather than gloomy. This time of year with its lack of sunlight many folks find themselves depressed or discouraged. So a thorough examination of the blessings and beauty and love that God has put in our lives is like a dose of good medicine. In fact Proverbs reminds us that “a joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” (17:22)

So think of the song above. Examine the pictures or the suggestion list. Or just let your emotions roll with the beauty, wonder, joy, delight, excitement, love, relationships, blessings, and every positive thing you can dwell on today! Remember, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

Things of Beauty and Wonder…

pexels-photo-83761…music that stirs the soul

…artwork that speaks to you

…kisses on the cheek

…holding the fragile hand of a frail mother or father who has lived a long life

hand-2906458_640…the lisping wisdom of a 4-year-old

…the smell of a baby

…floating on gentle waves

hot-chocolate-winter-chocolate-hot…gazing into the innocent eyes of a child

…snuggling with your grown children reminiscing times past

…hot cocoa with marshmallows on a frigid day

…a crackling fire in the fireplace

blaze-2178749_640…jumping in piles of leaves

…swimming in the lake on a hot summer’s day

…hearing the words “I Love You”

…climbing to the top of a lighthouse or mountain and soaking in the view as your reward

pexels-photo-266011…dancing in the rain

…kissing tender baby feet

…making cookies with a friend

…decorating the Christmas tree

…a sweet breeze scattering the white blossoms of a cherry tree in the spring

cherry-blossom-white-sky-bloom-48133…strolling down a tree-lined lane

…candlelit evenings

…dipping your toes in a cool, babbling brook

…the crash of waves

…that sudden insight from the Word of God.

At this season of celebrating the Savior’s birth, take time to follow the example of Mary the mother of Jesus. Ponder your treasured things and be blessed!

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19


The Sound of Music – “My Favorite Things”


The One Hour Clean Up

“I’m setting the timer for 1 hour. Now Go!”

Thus started our Saturday “One Hour Clean Up”, a tradition in our family for several years when the kids were children and teens.

The purposes for instituting this Saturday ritual were two-fold: 1) we wanted our children to learn responsibility and develop a good work ethic, and 2) I was a busy homeschooling mom and desperately needed help maintaining order in our home.

I can’t clearly remember the day we started this tradition by accident, but my foggy recollection is that the house was horrendous, the day was beautiful, and the kids wanted to do something fun. I do remember realizing that it would take most of the day, as usual, for me to get the house in order by myself. I then had the options of 1) saying “No” to their requests for an outing, 2) letting dad take them while I stayed home to clean, or 3) insisting that the whole family help where we could all go out together. Since an underlying goal for our family was to raise responsible, hardworking kids, my husband and I quickly decided what to do. We would have everyone jump in and help, getting done whatever we could in only 1 hour, and then permitting ourselves to stop cleaning and go have fun.

cleaning-washing-cleanup-the-ilo-48889We made a list, set the timer, and dove in to the mess. When the timer went off we were shocked! The house looked remarkably clean and neat. It would have taken me at least 4 or 5 hours to do by myself all that we had accomplished together. Granted the mirrors were only wiped 3/4’s of the way up by the kids who were too short. And the wash cloths were folded, but not in perfect squares. Even the beds were made, although the comforter corners may have not been perfectly aligned. The dishes, laundry, floors, and bathrooms had been appropriately washed, folded, swept, mopped, and cleaned. It seemed as if we got more done than we thought we could have before we started. It was amazing!

I’ve heard that farm animals used for plowing, such as oxen, when yoked together can do more than double the work of one animal alone. First, herd animals work better in teams than on their own. There’s encouragement and inspiration in teamwork. Synergy, they call it in the business. The second reason has to do with the static coefficient of friction being higher than the dynamic coefficient of friction and because the animals have twice the strength on that initial pull to get going, they get a jump-start on the task. (That’s about all I can explain. Go ask your nearest mechanical engineer or physics teacher for more info.) All I know is that our family herd yoked together for a common goal and “Got ‘er done!” God has already shared that principle with us in Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.”

As we left the house that day to “go have fun” we all realized we had already been having fun together. From the 4 year-old to the 8 year-old to the 11 year-old to the 14 year-old to the two 40 year-old parents, each person exhibited excitement, camaraderie, and a sense of being needed and being proud of their contribution. We learned a lesson that day and the new tradition began with enthusiasm. What is one hour on a Saturday morning when you’re all working together and when you get to have a day full of fun afterwards? The One Hour Clean Up became the weekly norm.

But how does that affect my life you ask? I… live alone, or have no kids, or have a maid clean my house. Let’s think of the ramifications of this principle in another area of life. Basically the idea I presented in my family scenario is this:

6 x 1 = 1 x 6
6 people x 1 hour each can do the equivalent of 1 person working for 6 hours!


It’s the commutative property of mathematics (if I remember correctly) at work. So yes, those math lessons are important in real life! But how can we use that bit of data in other situations? In church? In service? In volunteer work?

Well, here’s an example. You’re having a churchwide activity. Let’s say you have a class of 24 people and need 2 people to man a booth for 3 hours. If 6 of the 24 volunteer, they each will have to work 1 hour. If 12 volunteer they will only have to work 30 minutes each. If no one volunteers to help you and your buddy, you’ll both have to work the entire 3 hours.

What about in a particular ministry at church? Men’s ministry for example. They have Bible studies, camp outs, retreats, steak nights, archery shoots, breakfasts, and maybe even fishing, golf, or basketball tournaments. If we leave the planning all up to the Men’s Director he’s going to be one busy man with something new to plan, prepare for, and lead every month. But if we get 4 people operating in their gifts and areas of expertise – they each only have something once every 4 months at most. And what if 1 guy can only do the steak night every year? Well hey, he’s got a whole year to plan and only 1 responsibility! And at the same time he is lightening the load for the others.

volunteer-1326758_1280Why do you think service groups, ministries, and volunteer organizations are always asking for volunteers? To lighten the load. Whether it is the Salvation Army, Red Cross, an inner city tutoring program, or a church ministry, your small contribution may not seem like much to you. “Surely my 1 hour a week doesn’t even make a difference?” you may say. But when my one hour adds up with your one hour and my college student’s hour and your best friend’s hour who decided to go with you and the couple-from-the-other-side-of-town’s hour, we end up with 6 hours of productive work instead of just one.

So my challenge to myself and to you is to find something you are passionate about and have a bit of ability to do, and serve for an hour a week somewhere. Serve in Jesus’ name. Be His hands and feet and heart to the world. Spend more time and energy reaching out to the world than you do bemoaning the current state of affairs. Make that call to Teen Challenge and see how you can help. Let your church leaders know what you are skilled at, and be willing to head up that once-a-year event or clean out that storage closet or lead that study. Be the one who starts a program to adopt an inner city school. Help with that fundraiser. Do a backyard Bible club each summer. Organize that school clean up. Bake for that bake sale. Join or start a sewing ministry. Whatever you’re good at, get connected with a ministry that needs your kind of volunteers. It will not only help that ministry, but you in turn will be rewarded by a feeling of camaraderie, fulfillment, and purpose.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:15


My Bethlehem – My “House of Bread”

After 25 years a house gets old and begins to need major repairs. Living through that is an interesting experience. So as the pounding of the hammers and roar of saws and rivet guns and whatnot began to put This Girl into adrenalin overload, I escaped to the nearest  quiet restaurant for peace to focus on a Bible study I was writing. Day 1 was so productive that this escape became the norm for a few days.

On day 5 as I sat in Panera enjoying my coffee, I took a deep breath, stretched, and thought how very thankful I was for my life. As a semi-retired, empty-nester I was getting to do what I loved most: research and write Bible lessons. I was digging into Revelation at the moment and 1:3 hit me with power and beauty, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” All I could think was Yes! 

pexels-photo-179912.jpegWith my Bible open before me and a table full of commentaries and notebooks strewn all around, a strange thought came to my mind. Here you are sitting in a bread shop consuming the Bread of Life. This is your House of Bread, your Bethlehem.

I’ve always been intrigued by names and symbolism in scripture. And the Word Bethlehem is one of my favorites. From the first mention of the Bethlehem in Genesis to its distinguished spot as the birth place of Jesus in Matthew 2 and Luke 2, Bethlehem, the House of Bread, intrigues me. Many years ago in a Christmas message, I first heard my pastor speak of Bethlehem as the House of Bread. I’d never caught that before. But it dawned on me that day, the one who said, “I am the bread of life,” was born in the House of Bread! (John 6:35) Bethlehem, the place where the Son of God came to meet us and meet our evey need – how symbolic.

If you follow the word “bread” beginning in Matthew, you’ll find it a thread woven heavily in the gospels and on throughout the New Testament. One of the first mentions of bread in the NT is Jesus reminding His enemy, and us, that man doesn’t live by bread alone, “but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) In His model prayer Jesus prays for God’s kingdom to come (a grand thing) and for our daily bread to be provided (an ordinary thing). (Matthew 6:11) One of his many miracles was multiplying bread to feed thousands! (Matthew 14:7)  He ate the consecrated bread in the temple (Matthew 12:4) and reminded the disciples not to even worry about taking bread with them as they went out to minister. (Mark 2:26 and 6:8) And in his final hours He took bread, fed His closest 12, and set up a symbol of His life with bread – “Take and eat, this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26) Who knew bread was such an important symbol in God’s word?

pexels-photo-461313“Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life…” But the thing that hit me that day sitting in Panera Bread was the rest of Jesus’ words in John 6:35, “…Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ ” The spiritual reality hit me heavily that morning. So many days and seasons and years of my life have been spent hungering. Hungering for that undefined, unfulfilled need to be met. Stuffing in anything to fill that hole in my heart that hungered and yearned for meaning and for purpose and for more out of life. And this day I encountered the “Bread of Life” in a new way. I realized a satisfaction and fulfilled hunger in my soul as I sat with Him “listening” to His written word and absorbing His love for me, His purpose, and His ways that are beyond my understanding.

I leave you today with a hope for you and a challenge. I hope you too will find Jesus to be the Bread of Life that satisfies your hunger. And I challenge you to dig into His word, and as Jesus challenged His disciples in John 6:27, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” In your soul hunger, turn to The Bread of Life and find satisfaction living in your Bethlehem!




One of Those Days

I’m feeling like a failure today.

No quirky intro or cutesy story to start things off today. Just the nitty-gritty-ness of having “one of those days.”

I know it’s a spiritual attack.

It’s a battle and it feels like The Enemy of our souls is winning. I know He’s been defeated by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, but I’m just not “feeling it” today.

I know I can’t trust my feelings, that instead I need to trust the truth of what God’s Word says about me. But I can’t seem to shake it today.

f-school-letter-gradeHow did I get here? Who knows. Sometimes I know. I sometimes realize sin or grief or disappointments in life or illness or lack of exercise or some other factor may be at the root of that horrible feeling. But then there are days like today when I have no clue.

So what am I gonna do with it? This feeling, that is.

I could wallow. I could cry. I could eat chocolate. I could do retail therapy. If I were the type, I could toss back a drink or two or some pills. But what would any of that do for me in the long run? Nothing.

I think because the spiritual life is just that – spiritual – that we don’t bother to look at spiritual things in a logical, practical way at times. God gave us a bright mind, so let’s use a little logic and practicality.

If my toilet is stopped up I don’t throw chocolate down it – so I’ll rule that out as an option here too. Passing something through the plumbing is no help.

Tears may offer a slight biological release, but mostly they just get my shirt wet, make my eyes puffy, and cause me to feel sorry for myself. So I’ll nix that idea.

Wallowing sounds selfishly appealing. Maybe I could make everyone around me miserable as I do that?! Nah. I hate it when others do that to me.

Retail therapy sounds really fun! But then I will create more of these down days for myself. The day the bill comes in. The day that money is actually needed and isn’t there. The day I want to offer monetary help to someone God has put on my heart but my indulgent lifestyle prevents it. … Ok so retail therapy is out too.

And fortunately the other two options are an automatic “No” for me. I learned early in life the physical, mental, emotional, and relational damage that can be done by trying to depend on substances inside me to solve my problems. Kinda like the flushing the chocolate, only you destroy the toilet as you send it through.

So what do I do?

nemoWell number one, I’m gonna do a Nemo and “just keep swimming.” Or like Kris Kringle of the 70’s Santa Claus story sang, I’ll “put one foot in front of the other.” I’m going to get up and do the next thing God has before me whether it is going to work or doing laundry or encouraging my husband and kids even though I don’t feel like it.

Number two, I’m gonna read the Word. I don’t care how dry it “feels” or how little I’m interested in doing that at the moment, that’s what I’m going to do. ‘Cause the truth is, His Word accomplishes something. It won’t go back to Him empty-handed. It will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purposes He has for it.

Number three, I’m going to pray. I spend way too much time calling up a girlfriend when I’m having a bad day and too little time going to my Creator and the Lover of my soul who can actually offer real help to a hurting heart.

Fourth, I’m choosing NOT to trust my feelings, but to remind myself of what I know to be true. I’m going to constantly engage my mind in the kind of thinking Philippians 4:8 tells me to. I’m going to exercise self-control by controlling my thoughts. I choose to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and  praiseworthy. That will leave me no time for thoughts of failure. And as my thoughts go, so go my feelings!

And last, I’m going to focus on someone else. If I allow myself to focus on myself my “feeling bad” grows into problems, the proverbial making a mountain out of a molehill. But if I turn my attention to others’ needs, my problems grow smaller. My own little “rough places being made plain” and the glory of the Lord being revealed.

So in my down-ness today, I choose to send a friend an encouraging text. I choose to write a card to someone God puts on my heart and mail it. I choose to buy a rose and hand deliver it to someone with a smile. I choose to take a store-bought cake to an older lady I know who has become homebound. I choose to see what my husband’s needs are and seek to meet them. I choose to be nice even though I feel grouchy. I choose to see the best in people and situations even though I feel the worst. I choose to not give in to a negative feeling.

The apostle Paul tells us,

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4)

There is encouragement in Christ! When we act in humility considering others before our self and looking out for their interests we are obeying and pleasing God. I think a hidden truth for our down days lie within these scriptures. When we obey God’s word and look out for the interests of others they are blessed, uplifted, and encouraged and we are too!

So Be gone feelings of failure! I choose not to live with you today!




On Fences, Walls, and Open Pastures

Boundaries are important.

In the old west, ranchers had fences. Or on the really huge tracts of open pasture they branded what they owned to show it belonged to them and was under their authority. If you’ve ever watched a 1960 cowboy show you’ve seen this. What always happened on Gunsmoke or Bonanza? A guy in a black cowboy hat (bad guy) was rustling cows, robbing the stagecoach or train, blocking water rights, or taking over land illegally. And the guy in the white hat (good guy) always came to the rescue of the damsel in distress whose possessions or boundary was threatened.

Boundaries are important. From Genesis 1 God established boundaries. He separated light and dark, heaven and earth, land and sea, work and rest, and he made distinction in kinds of animals and plants. In Genesis 2 He established a separation, a boundary, between male and female. He set very distinct boundaries for the beautiful home He had made for Adam and Eve (verses 10-14). He set a boundary of what they could and could not eat. By chapter 3 (out of 1,189 chapters in the Bible) the Enemy had already come to tempt Adam and Eve to push the boundaries. And they did. And there were consequences: doubt, greed, rebellion, sin, but also hiding from God, fear, deception, broken relationships, blame, strife between women and men, unfulfilled desires, domination, pain and toil all their life, thorns & thistles, sweat, separation, loss of the simplicity of a beautiful life, and death. They were now outcasts of the Garden.

pexels-photo-451818Today the Enemy still does the same thing. He tempts humans to push the boundaries.  When they do, just as with Adam and Eve, people experience the devastating consequences too. Life and relationships are marred with pain and betrayal and separation and other negative consequences because individuals don’t honor those boundaries as God’s Word instructs us to, but instead ignore moral boundaries, marital boundaries, property boundaries, societal boundaries, and legal boundaries – just to name a few of the most common violations.

Blessings follow as children of God obey and honor boundaries.

Property Boundaries

Except for kleptomaniacs, this one boundary seems pretty easy for the average Christian to honor. Think: I don’t want anyone to steal my lawnmower, so I’m not going to steal yours. Makes sense. Easy, right?

Or is it? What about the office supplies that end up at the house, taken home with good intentions, to do some work, but the surplus never returned? Hmmm. Or how about the $20 bill  found on the sidewalk, tucked in the pocket, as the new owner walks merrily away singing “Finders keepers, losers weepers”? Hmmm. Need I go on? Vigilance is required in order for Christians not to find themselves going over those giant bumps of a mega slide headed down a slippery slope.

Moral Boundaries

Most people consider themselves to be moral people. They understand right and wrong. If someone lies it is a betrayal of trust. If another woman steals someone’s husband, anger and a break in relationship is a correct response. Society understands that it should protect the innocence of children and the fragility of the elderly and infirm.

Often moral boundaries don’t become an issue for Church folks until they find themselves halfway down that slippery slope and starting to grab at any handhold along the way including denying, justifying actions, lying, and manipulating people and circumstances. Often a person will give in to temptation the first time in a small way without even realizing it, unless they are vigilant. For example: At work a married woman makes a business call to a man. At the end they share a silly joke and laugh together. She hangs up. Her day is brightened. Nothing wrong with that. However, Satan has cracked open a door. Does she have the safety chain on the door? If not, she may find herself developing a friendship, enjoying the attention of that man, spending time fondly thinking of him, accepting his flirty compliments, and then she finds herself in a spot. She is flirting with a moral boundary she never saw herself having to deal with.

To keep moral boundaries secure, a woman must be vigilant with her thought life! She can lie to herself if not careful.

Relational Boundaries

What are relational boundaries? These are the interpersonal skills of how a person takes care of their own inner needs and outer duties and commitments. They help distinguish a person’s unique identity from that of another person. These boundaries are essential for leading a healthy, balanced life, and they include physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual boundary lines. Frequently, people struggle with these type boundaries because of their personality traits or habits developed in their upbringing. Consider the following.

Ever met a person who seemed to have never grown up? It’s not always obvious what issue they have, but a person hanging around them may end up feeling a pull to take on responsibilities that are not theirs, either materially, physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. The person continually borrowing the $10 that is never repaid. (Material boundary.) The person wanting someone to come to their rescue in a crisis, but then never reciprocating. (Emotional/physical boundary.) The teen whose bedroom is cleaned by Mom, only to have it back in the same shape within 6 weeks, which then ignites Mom’s anger at them that they aren’t taking care of their responsibilities. (Physical/mental boundary.)

pexels-photo-93417On the flip side of that are the people who seem to never need anyone. It is apparent that they could use a hand, but they continually decline all offers and send the message, “I got this.” They are walled off in a self-protective way that allows very few people in. (Emotional boundary.) They have a rigid boundary of self-protection, that surely does keep the bad out, but also prohibits good from entering.

Then there are individuals that sin and suffer consequences but never accept the truth that it was their sin that caused the problems. They still want to point fingers and play the blame game which cycles them into more sin, because blame is lying (saying it is another’s fault when it is not), and these lies are keeping the person distant with their Heavenly Father. (Spiritual boundary.) This boudary issue keeps God at a distance and keeps the boundary-less person from reaching full repentance and resolution. The Gospel “brings hostile parties together (Colossians 1:21) and heals relationships between God and humanity, and between people.” (Boundaries, p. 135)

All of these people have boundary issues.

Henry Cloud, in his book Boundaries, reminds Christians of the need and purpose of relational boundaries. The purpose of boundaries is two-fold: to keep out things that will harm and to allow in things that will nurture. They should be like fences with a gate, not walls. Things and people come and go in life for a person’s good if they exercise appropriate boundaries. No one is required to allow angry or abusive people into their lives. However, scripture does command us to forgive them. Forgiveness means turning them over to God and letting them off our hook, not allowing them to keep harming us. As for the second purpose of boundaries, if Mrs. Lone Ranger is acting in a self-sufficient manner, she’s missing out on her deep relationships and needs being ministered to, but she is also depriving others in the body of Christ of an opportunity to exercise their God-given gift of mercy or exhortation or service or giving. Each member of the body of Christ must minister and be ministered to, just as the cells, tissues, and systems of our physical body work together yet are independent in their purposes. They each carry out their own job, but are supported by other parts doing their own jobs as well.

Roping our Steer

8142599351_b3e0ec35e9_mIt’s time to grow up Little Cowgirls! We need to grab our rope, mount our horse, and chase that steer that belongs to us. We are responsible for things within our boundaries. Are we taking care of them? Or are we trying to pass the blame just as our sister Eve did? Just as God gave Adam & Eve responsibilities and boundaries, He has given us responsibilities and boundaries.

How are you most tempted, to push the boundaries morally? To not handle relational boundaries appropriately? It’s time to learn how to set boundaries. (Check out the link above for more info.) It’s time to exercise self-control. Call your spirit to attention in Jesus’ name and have a talk with it, or allow Him to speak. Speak scriptural truth to yourself, immerse yourself in God’s Word, memorize it, purify your mind, and pray.

Colossians chapter 3 is full of wisdom on how to shape up boundaries. If a woman spent all her mental effort living out the commands of this one chapter, boundaries would be a tiny issue if any issue at all.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (3:2-4)

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (3:5)

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (3:8)

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (3:9-10)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (3:12-14)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace and be thankful.” (3:15)

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (3:16)

“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. (3:17)

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” (3:18)

Children, obey your parents in everything.” (3:19)

Do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (3:20)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (3:23)

Christ is your life! Go live your life with those boundaries!


Life with boundaries can be beautiful!