Seeing Through the Obstacles

A lake retreat brings God’s lessons.

The house was beautiful. Decorated like those in a magazine with the latest touches from the Pinterest boards. Plenty of bedrooms, windows overlooking the lake, and a dock perfect for jumping off of into the refreshing waters. But my favorite part was the huge deck that stretched the length of the back of the house. And being a writer, my favorite place on that deck was at the charming wrought iron bistro table with my back to the windows, my Apple in front of me, and a panoramic view of the deep green waters. There, each day, I spread out God’s word and my journal and leisurely visited with my Abba.

Almost immediately there was a fly in my ointment so to speak. (But even those flies carry lessons!)

My table, appropriately located in a cozy nook beside the door and just outside the kitchen window, had one drawback. A large red oak had, years ago as a little acorn, made his home about 8 feet from me, directly in front of my favorite chair looking off the deck toward the lake. Now he was a big old boy, probably 2 feet in diameter, that blocked a large chunk of my lake view. With the door and porch railing hemming me in, there was really no place to move the table that would make a big difference. Adirondack chairs had their place on the other side of the door, so it was my opportunity to enjoy the blessing in spite of an imperfection.

As I sat watching my kids jumping off the pier that second afternoon, leaning this way and that to see them well around the tree as they floated off on tubes this way, or kayaked around that way, enlightenment came. God did what He so often does with me, He made a lesson out of the mundane and the annoying.

As I stood up and moved toward the railing to call to them for some reason, I realized a truth: the closer I was to that obstacle (the tree) the more of my view it blocked. And the antithesis of that: the further I drew away from the obstacle, the more clear my view was of the reality around me.

My spirit stirred. I suddenly was aware of the spiritual ramifications of this lesson from the physical world. We humans frequently have obstacles come into our lives. Whether it is the relatively minor getting a head cold the day you have a big presentation at work, a larger obstacle like having your taxes audited, or a really huge life issue such as a serious illness or tragedy. We tend to see these obstacles as material, physical world problems, but they greatly impact our spiritual walk.

As we face the larger obstacles, we become just like I was with my tree. We are consumed with the big thing in front of us, and not with the rest of God’s plan being carried out beyond that. We can sit in a ladies Bible study, so inwardly focused that we miss tuning in to God’s great plan going on around us. We can stay cooped up in our homes staring at that “tree” of grief in front of us and not be aware of the beauty of the “lake” just beyond us. We may verbally gripe so much about our current obstacle tree, that the only words that escape our lips are negative, bitter, sour words of disappointment and fear. And we may even hide behind our obstacle tree, because we are so used to that ongoing obstacle in our lives, it becomes easier just to live hidden behind it than to make the effort to reach out to the world beyond, despite our obstacle.

So what’s a girl to do? We all have problems.

First, get some distance on that tree whenever possible. When you are staring down that problem a foot away from you every day, it looms huge in your line of vision blocking the majority of what you see. Granted, we have huge obstacles crop up, but we don’t have to give them the central place in our lives and cozy up to them. Just as when I stepped back on the porch I could see more of the lake, when we step back from those obstructions we see more of the world beyond our difficult situation. A rebellious teen in the house? Accept the husband’s offer of a get-away. Finished that chemo and waiting on results of scans? A family celebration or second honeymoon trip might be a good choice. Your best friend is in financial crisis? Offer them your home free for the weekend for a romantic vacation while you are on that road trip to visit the in-laws. Find creative ways to give yourself (or others) a bit of distance from those besetting hindrances and the perspective and refreshment that come with distance.

Second, look beyond. God is carrying out a good plan all around us. If you can’t pull away for a while from troubling issues to get some perspective, then refocus your outlook, and start looking at the part of that view beyond that tree that you can see. The world is carrying on around you, and God has a role for you in that world as long as you are breathing – problems or not! Invest your life in God’s plans beyond your problem. When we invest in others, both are blessed.

Third, examine that tree. It’s just a tree. One with dead leaves and bark and ants crawling on it. It may be a 100 foot tall, 2 feet in diameter tree, but it’s still just a tree, a created thing. It’s just an obstacle. Nothing is impossible with God. Because of fear maybe, have we mentally made that obstacle more mighty than the Creator? He is still in control. He is not surprised by that tree being there; He saw that little acorn fall there and plant itself before we ever had an inkling we’d even be in the same neighborhood as that tree, maybe even before we were born. The good news: He has the axe necessary to get rid of that tree!

Fourth, move to one side. Look at your tree from a different angle. Could your parent’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s be a blessing to draw you two to spend time together in their later years? Could your broken heart over that rebellious teen prepare you to minister to other broken hearts you encounter along the way? Could that car wreck bring a hidden blessing? Could this trial be drawing you back to prayer? Obstacles, in some way, have God’s hidden blessing and glory tucked behind them. He is active in your life. So get a different perspective on that tree and see what good God may be bringing along with it.

Fifth, pray in faith for God to chop it down. There’s never harm in asking God to remove obstacles from our lives. Jesus did that the night before He was crucified; ” ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36 NIV) That last statement gets us! Are we willing to live with that obstacle always there if God chooses NOT to remove it? He’s got a good plan for us. And He’s got the axe… remember?

IMG_5875And last, see the good in that tree. Count your blessings. My tree has a cheerful little squirrel who chatted with me every day of my vacation and a gorgeous green canopy that shaded me from the heat of the afternoon sun. It’s massive presence reminded me of the strength and stability of the Father, and it’s leaves offered pleasant whispers in the breeze. Your obstacle has hidden blessings too. Maybe it restores a broken relationship, brings a new friend into your life, humbles you, makes you sit still and enjoy the moments more, changes the direction of your child’s life, or causes you to listen and understand new life lessons. God is using it in your life.

So let us not grow so focused on the negative. Yes, bad things happen, but like a diamond, they are many faceted, and may have hidden treasures bound up with them. Are we embracing the spiritual lessons that come our way through the pain? Are we consumed with the Father, or are we consumed with the fear, dread, confusion, doubts, and what ifs of this obstacle? Are we angry or tender-hearted? Let us look with spiritual eyes to really see – to look beyond that obstacle!

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. Romans 8:28

It’s Not Fair

“It’s not fair!!!”

“It’s NOT fair!”

Those three words have peppered the tantrums that have played out in our home over the years. I’ll admit I’ve even said them myself. It isn’t fair. Many things are not fair. Much of life is not fair.

The one who says those words most often is my youngest; she still bears the scars of difficult obstacles she was forced to face even before her remembrance. She struggles with the everyday and the basics on a day-to-day basis. She is the youngest of the Martins and she waves high the banner of unfairness of youngest siblings everywhere.

A few weeks ago I was studying the King’s Book, specifically that of Matthew, and I happened upon the parable in Matthew 20, the one about the laborers in the vineyard. I haven’t always liked it because it seems so not fair. It made me a tad uncomfortable and I tend to avoid things that make me uncomfortable. For this reason I hadn’t really studied it. You can find in Matthew 20: 1-16.

I’ll summarize it.

There was a Master. He had a vineyard. About 6 in the morning he found some workers and agreed to pay them a denarius for a day’s work. About 9am the Master went out again and hired some more workers. He agreed to pay them a fair pay for their day’s work. A little while later, about lunchtime, he went out and did the same thing. At 3pm He did the same and at 5pm the same. At the end of the work day he paid all the workers a denarius. In essence some of the workers worked 12 hours and some worked just an hour, but at then end of the day they made the same wage.

money-euro-coins-currency-332304When recently questioned about what I thought about the parable, I admitted I’ve been in the same camp as the all day workers. “It’s not fair!” The Master should’ve paid the one hour workers a twelfth of what he paid the all day workers. I am not a mathematical expert but the lunch time workers should have gotten half a denari and the 3pm worker a fourth. That would have been the FAIR thing to do. Wouldn’t it?

Yet when one reads on, the King Himself says in verses 15 and 16, “ ‘Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

The first will be last? The last will be first…that is so not fair….or so it would seem, but the King’s economy is not the same as my economy and thankfully God is in charge and I am not. It took a change in perspective for me to surrender my “It’s not fair” banner. Because He is Kind and compassionate, abounding in love, He was gentle in revealing this one to me.

If I am completely honest I’ve long held on to the “it’s not fair” because I know that I am an early morning laborer. I came to know Jesus early in my life. I got the same Grace and Salvation He freely gives to someone who comes to know Him in the Eleventh hour of his or her life.

With the all day workers, what I failed to realize was, that they had enjoyed the presence of the Master longer. They had been with the Master all day. They had been able to work and serve the Master for a full day. They had been able to see that Master at work himself, managing and such, doing whatever it is Vineyard Masters do.

Perhaps the Eleventh hour workers were envious of the all day workers. They had just met the Master and had not had the benefit of gleaning from Him, watching Him lead, spending time in His presence. I am thankful that in the Kingdom I am an all day worker, that I have had the privilege of working alongside the Master for the majority of my life, that I have been under His protection and grace for many years. I am grateful that He takes the time to show me a new perspective to an old story that my heart hadn’t always been receptive to and how He reveals Himself continually in His Word. He is a good Master, one who is not fair, because He is better than fair.



Christians and non-Christians alike are familiar with the Ten Commandments, and people who were raised in the church know so many shoulds and shouldn’ts that we often struggle with legalism and perfectionism. No one wants to be accused of legalism.

Legalism has become such a distasteful concept in society that modern Christians tend to shy away from anything that could make them look as if they are rigidly following the rules. In fact, contemporary Christians often exhibit behaviors that make them appear just like the rest of the non-believing world. Their underlying message seems to be, “Live how you choose, but carry a Bible, go on the mission trips, and make sure you have the right “look” to be accepted as a modern Christian.” Who wants to be a Pharisee, right?

While living a life by the letter of the law or to fulfill our need to look perfect can trip us up, the thought behind those actions is a holy one: it’s important to live a life obedient to God’s dartboard target aim goal achievement conceptword. It’s as important to play this game of life perfectly as it is to pitch that perfect game of baseball or to get that shut-out in football. No, not as important – more important. In fact the Hebrew word for sin in scripture (chata’) means “to miss the mark.” We tend to give ourselves credit for getting pretty close to the mark. In the game of darts that doesn’t fly: a miss is a miss. In reality, it’s the same way with sin. A miss is a miss; a sin is a sin.

In John 14:23-24 Jesus tells His disciples, “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.” Our level of obedience to Christ clearly reflects the depth of our love and commitment to Him. It’s not a bad thing to want to live a totally obedient life and follow the rules! In fact it is a precious, loving gift to the Father to walk uprightly and honor Him!

If we dig into scripture and really look at Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees, we find it isn’t because they are rigidly obeying laws, it’s because their inside didn’t match their outside!

“‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without dishes-197_640neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.'” (Matthew 23:23-28)

Dirty dishes! White-washed tombs! Their behavior didn’t reflect their heart. They put on holy masks and tried to look good before people, to be acknowledged, and to be honored publicly. They obeyed the laws, all the while having hearts full of selfishness, greed, envy, … sin. The Father had chosen His people, the Israelites, way back in Genesis. He had intended them to bring blessing to others (Genesis 12:3), but now these Jewish leaders were looking out for themselves instead. 

And so we come to us. Today. We are to be Ambassadors for Christ. To spread the Gospel. To show God’s glory. To bless others.

In this world of darkness, living a life filled with the light of Christ is more important than ever. If we only offer our stories, scripture verses, and other words of encouragement we are short-changing the people God has placed around us to minister to. Don’t get me wrong, our testimony and uplifting words are very important; we are commanded to share the good news in Matthew 28:19-20! However, if words are all we have to offer, with no obedient lifestyle to back it up, we’re presenting a half-hearted gospel. Our obedient life is living proof of the change the gospel has on a human heart. The world needs what we have, not just what we say. These words of Jesus Christ enlighten us:

pexels-photo-262042“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

How many souls have rejected Christ because I spoke the story of the gospel, but I lived out another story: the same story of fear, depression, worry, desperation, sin, and failure that they were living. While my words seemed hopeful, the reality seemed like a myth. Instead of being a light on a hill, I was like a flashlight with no batteries – not effective for the job I was created for. A help to no one.

Today scripture charges us to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3) We are a representation of Jesus to the world. Are we reflecting His humility, gentleness, patience, and love for all in our behaviors?

In Colossians 19b-14 Paul calls us to live out a worthy life. He states, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into His kingdom of light! Let us live as children of light as Paul lays out in Ephesians 5:8-20. Let us not fear living blameless, pure lives above reproach in this warped and crooked generation. (Philippians 2:14-15)
Following the rules only becomes damaging legalism when we equate adherence to the laws of scripture with salvation instead of offering the grace and love of Christ to ourselves and those around us. Therefore we must speak up to share the gospel with the lost world: Jesus is the only sacrifice for sin. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” (John 14:6) We must walk uprightly in every behavior. We must also get involved in people’s lives to love them well instead of standing back and pointing out their error, but offering no help. We must be patient, offering grace and mercy to those who fail, but also calling others to a higher standard of obedience.

Walk as children of light!



Drawing Strength from Sorrow

“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” Psalm 40:17

My daughter is a college freshman. The university she attends is four and a half hours away from home. I miss her. A lot. A few weeks into her second semester I got a phone call and her quivering voice told me something was wrong. Soon she couldn’t hold back the tears and I listened as the dam burst and a flood of anguish poured out. Her young, inexperienced heart was breaking. The few hundred miles between us felt immense. I asked the King, as I had many times before, if He was sure He couldn’t just suspend the laws of physics and teleport me to her side. My girl was hurting and I was so far away. Even if I could just stretch a shoulder across state lines to squeeze her or just hold her as she sobbed, I’d feel so much better. I would’ve done anything to be at her side at that very moment, but it was impossible. All I could do was cry out to the King on her behalf.

This semester has been tough for my girl. Academics are fine. Books are constant and reliable. It’s learning how to love people when they aren’t so lovable that’s tough. And learning how to love ourselves as the Lord reveals all our pride and weakness is an even greater challenge. As Christians, we’re supposed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, right? So if we don’t understand God’s extravagant, ridiculous, unconditional love; how in the world can we love others well? How do we dwell in God’s love? In our flesh, we can’t. Learning to see ourselves as God sees us is impossible. Even in the best of circumstances it’s impossible to love others the way Christ asks us to love them.

clasped-hands-comfort-hands-people-45842So how do we love well? How do we love genuinely and sacrificially when our heart is broken? How do we give of ourselves when we’ve been rejected? How do we serve when we’ve been cast aside? How do we forgive when we feel forgotten? How do we offer others strength when we’re so fragile? It begins by understanding what is impossible with man is possible with God. He can give us a new heart, He can remind us how much we are loved. But only if we look to Him for our strength. And that starts with admitting how desperately poor and needy we are.

As I’m walking through this heartache with my daughter, I’ve been reading through the Psalms. I’ve always adored the Psalms. Poetic, powerful, and, honest. I used to get annoyed with David for whining so much. But I’m more and more convinced it’s David’s genuineness and humility that made him a man after God’s own heart. He would honestly cry out to the Lord with words like “Why have you forgotten me? Why are you so cast down my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?”, but he would always, always land on truth and speak the truth to himself. “Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42)

As I read through the Psalms day after day, over and over, I noticed this repeated pattern. Raw vulnerability followed by reminders of truth about the character of God. So where did David gain his strength to stand firm in his heartache? He was willing to admit, as he did in Psalm 40, that he was poor and needy. He was willing to admit his weakness and frailty, but he didn’t end there. He made sure to focus on God’s strength, on His goodness, on His power, on His faithfulness, on His ability to heal and humble and renew and restore.

As I continued to focus on David’s pattern of humility and honesty, I began to find a refrain. God alone is our strength. He is our song. He is our hope. He is our healer. He is all we need. And isn’t that right where I long for my children to be, where I long to be, desperate and dedicated to seeking more of my heavenly Father? And that begins with confessing my weakness, being honest before God, and there I find there is a certain strength in sorrow. A certain knowing that my Abba is enough and His love and His acceptance are enough. And I found myself saying these words to my hurting, but healing, daughter, “What if your greatest sorrows are God’s greatest gift?”.

And what if they are? What if those sorrows propel you into the loving arms of the King. James 1 tells us our trials are meant to mature us; to grow us up in the truth. If sorrow and heartache are what is required for me, and my family, to become more intimate with the King, to become more accurate reflections of His love, then, though I would not choose it, I am learning to be grateful for it. Because in our greatest sorrow; He will become our source of strength.



Locked Out!

Have you ever been locked out?

glass-984457_640I remember as a child that we would get locked out of the house. My Mother would break the window out of the back door to get us back in the house. Then we would go to the hardware store to get glass cut the right size for the replacement window. My Mother got us locked out so many times that she had her own putty knife to help with replacing the window.

car-keys-2653311_640I laugh at this funny memory but I did not think it was so funny when I realized my car had locked itself. I left my keys inside the car one night. I did not know the car had the feature to lock if keys were left in the car. We had not had the car very long at that time. I did not remember the door code. My husband was on a business trip and I could not get in touch with him. It took me several hours to get in my car.

Not long ago I was cooking a special dinner. I had made the dessert the day before. My bacon wrapped beans marinated in Catalina dressing were ready to cook. My ham was also ready to go in the preheated oven. I reached for the handle to the oven and it would not open. I tried again. It did not budge. What was going on? Why would my oven not Household Appliances in modern kitchenopen? After several tries, I called for my husband. Usually when he touches something I am having a problem with, the problem immediately goes away. Not this time. He pulled and tugged but sure enough, the door was locked. Then he did what any self-respecting husband would do – he Googled “Oven door will not open.” He found diagrams of the self-cleaning lock and how it could be bent to lock the door. After he finished with my oven door, it will never lock again!

As I reflected on the locked door, I was reminded of Revelation 3:20: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and sup with him.”

John 3:16 says; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

Salvation is the key to the door of our heart. Jesus will never break a window or tug on the door to get inside of your life. He will wait for you to open the door and invite Him in. Jesus says to us in Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” All He is asking is for us to believe and open our heart to Him.

And then there is this: Romans 10:13 (NKJV) – “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Have you received salvation and opened the door of your heart to Jesus?

If not, say a prayer and unlock the door of your heart. Ask Jesus to come into your life.


The Journey

Priceless has begun a new series of articles this year. They will be entitled and tagged as “The Journey” with several different subheadings. These will be encouraging or uplifting blogs that offer sustenance for us all as we travel through this Journey of Life. Proverbs 4:26 reminds us to “Ponder the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure.”

We hope to do some pondering, and to give you scriptures, questions and ideas that will keep you pondering your paths as well, so that your ways will be sure and established. In fact, we’ve already published a couple that you can find here and here if you missed them.

pexels-photo-41102Does your journey seem dark right now? Psalms 119:105 tells us that “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Does your path seem too difficult to keep going? Isaiah 43:2 reminds us that “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Are you journeying alone feeling unknown and unnoticed? Psalm 139:3 tells us that  “You [Father God] discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”

Are you searching for wisdom to help you deal with a seemingly insurmountable mountain you are facing? Psalm 27:11 offers encouragement: “Teach me your way, Lord  lead me in a straight path….”

Do you long for direction in life? Psalm 16:11 explains where to get real direction and where to find joy in the Journey: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Have you wandered in a wilderness for so many years that you are hopeless and desperately looking for deliverance? Isaiah 64:4 says, “From ancient times no one has heard, no one has listened to, no eye has seen any God besides You who acts on behalf of the one who waits for Him.”

Whatever you are searching for on your Journey, it can only be truly found in Jesus Christ leading your life, working in you and through you! Let us walk with you on this Journey! Eagerly look forward to the Father miraculously speaking just the words you need to hear. He does that you know!

May you find joy in the Journey!


A Mary is A Mary

One of my Nearest and Dearest visited the U.K. this past summer. She brought home souvenirs that I truly treasure, they were English tea leaves housed in a tiny Big Ben tin. Once used, I cut the box that it had come in apart and made bookmarks. Currently, these memorial snap shots of London’s major landmarks can be found in the book of Jeremiah Chapter 29. The tiny Big Ben tin is in my pantry, a reminder of our friendship and her trip.

Much to my surprise and delight for my fortieth Birthday she gave me one of the most treasured gifts I have ever received. A gift so unique I’d’ve not even known to ask for it. Wrapped in a simple blue box with the words “Historic Royal Palaces” lettered in gold was something I’d always wanted I just didn’t know it until I received it. I squealed when I opened the box. As I unfolded the bubble wrap I uncovered a for real English porcelain pexels-photo-810050.jpegtea cup and saucer. I do not possess the vocabulary to describe how enchanting that cup and saucer are. Beautiful and dainty, they evoke a feeling of elegance when I look at them; I even hold my pinky out when I pick up that cup and sip my imaginary tea. I have yet to use it, for I am waiting for as unique and special an occasion as it is. I have placed it in a place of prominence and I admire it daily.

I enjoy television from across the pond, British entertainment is some of my favorite. In fact, it would seem much of the British world brings me delight. I particularly like how the Brits do documentaries. Recently I was watching one such documentary and found myself pondering the Marys the King knew when He walked this earth.

There is one presenter I especially enjoy, he’s a jolly fellow with a grand sense of dry British humor and is entertaining as well as educational. He says things like “flabby bits” and will draw the eye to the unusual and often overlooked details of art. After watching a special on Impressionists, he changed how I pronounce Van Gogh.

the-tardis-263153_640(I once watched a Dr. Who episode centered around the Impressionist Vincent Van Gough and I will not even lie, it made me so distressed I shed actual tears. My children still find it funny that I cried while watching Dr. Who. They refer to that particular episode as “The one that makes Mama cry.” They are right, it does. Every. Single. Time.)

I digress, the aforementioned Jolly Presenter was explaining his point of view regarding the Renaissance art, he introduced the audience to the various Marys of the Bible depicted in classical art. He spoke of the Mother Mary, Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene. He explained that many times the Marys overlap in Renaissance art. To drive his point home he would say “A Mary is a Mary” his British accent stretching out the name Mary in the statement. It sound more like “A Maaawrie is a Maaawrie.” I mused at that thought and what I actually knew from the King’s Word about those Marys. Mary his mother, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Salome and James. I thought about Matthew 28, when Jesus had been raised from the dead. I imagined how dark and overwhelmed those Marys must have felt as their Precious Jesus was beaten and crucified, how he hung on that cursed tree amongst common criminals. How deeply sad they must have felt as they lay His lifeless body in that tomb. The pain would have been overwhelming. How so early on that Sunday morning those Marys went to finish the job of preparing his body for burial. I thought about that “Mary is a Mary” mentality and how very inaccurate that it actually is.

When Mary Magdalene cried and mourned, believing that Jesus’ body had been stolen (John 19:13-15), she wept with grief there before her Lord. She did not recognize Him. But then He did what He so often does for the ones He loves. He spoke her name. Verse 16 says he said only her name “Mary” for her to know who He was. He knew her all along.

The reality is, in the eyes of the King, a Mary is not just a Mary. The truth is we are all uniquely created. Jesus knew each Mary then individually just as He does now. He is in the business of making relationships. The purpose of His death was to restore relationship with God.

As I’ve pondered on the British Presenter, how his statement prompted me to ponder, I am in awe of the King and how He loves each of us individually and uniquely. How the world may scream something different, yet that will never negate the truth that Jesus loves me and He loves you too.


You are a precious treasure! The King loves you indidvidually and uniquely!

The Journey: Walk in His Shoes

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2

Once I had children, this verse became a powerful incentive for me.

I read it one peaceful morning as my babies were sleeping. My husband’s work boots sat across the room beside the door. As I read this verse, the boots caught my eye, and I flashed back to the night before with our 18-month-old climbing into Daddy’s boots and vintage-shoes-old-bootstrying to walk. It was a sweet picture. He was stumbly and slow and didn’t get very far, but he wanted to be like Daddy.

That’s what the Christian journey is. It’s just a matter of stepping out as Jesus would and getting up again when we fail to walk like Jesus.

When we are first saved and do this, our steps are faltering and slow. We stumble a lot and mess up often. But we love Him and we want to be like Him, and so we get back up and try to take a few more teetering steps. We lurch forward and face plant again, but once again get up and haltingly keep trying to walk like Jesus.  The shoes may feel too big at first. We get tripped up by the strange feeling of this new walk. We feel like all we can do is stumble. And it hurts when we fall. But we are not called to be perfect; we are called to be an imitator of Christ!

What we find is that we don’t stay a 2-year-old Christian any more than my children stayed 2-year-olds. We grow up in Christ. The walk becomes more natural.

We become an 8-year-old that can scuffle through the house in Jesus’ boots without falling so much.

We grow to be a 14-year-old in Christ whose feet fit perfectly in our Father’s shoes, and we only fall when we face obstacles beyond our abilities.

We mature to be the eager 24-year-old who barges into the mission field with energy and confidence in our Father’s shoes, but occasionally lets our ego lead us into failure.

And one day we hope to become the 76-year-old that may have faltering physical knees but has the spiritual foundation that makes imitating Christ in their every step not even seem like imitating Christ; they have walked in His shoes so long, that the shoes seem like their very own!

Whose shoes are you walking in?

Processed with VSCO with  preset


Best Elisabeth Elliot Quotes | Doorkeeper

I didn’t grow up knowing much about missionaries. They were a far off lot, the things of bedtime stories and fairytales, and it was difficult for me to wrap my childlike brain around a person who would give up all they had to tell the rest of the world of the King. I knew the King and loved Him but this missionary life boggled my mind. As I grew up and lottiemoonmy faith became my own, missionaries became a part of that faith. It wasn’t until my adult years a Lottie Moon Christmas offering resonated with me; I began to have an appreciation for missionaries and for their work across the globe.

I have one that declares she will be a missionary one day, I will admit that in the beginning I tucked that away and just observed her. She isn’t vocal, pushy, or even very outdoorsy, all requirements I once thought were necessary for such a life. When I first learned the story of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, and Ed Mccully via a low-budget movie with Ricky Schroder, I wept. For the first time the realization hit me that in fact the missionary life was the hard life.

One of the wisest women I know, a woman steeped in Christ who has mentored and encouraged me for over a decade once said to me that the most difficult call from the Lord to a person is to be a preacher or a missionary. Over time I’ve come to realize she was spot on. After I learned the story of the aforementioned heroes, a story from the mouths of their families and the ones present when their earthly lives met their demise at the end of a spear. I learned that they could have used the weapons they carried, defended themselves against their attackers, an act they chose not to do but would be considered totally reasonable, and ultimately those who killed them did so because of a lie.

I came to realize once more that those who are sold out to the King, their lives, our lives do not make a lot of sense to some people. It blew my mind that Elizabeth Elliot would even consider taking her small children back to the very place where her husband was killed and live amongst his murderers. It was in fact, until I realized that when one walks with the King it can be mind-blowing.

My little Lottie, the one who is called to be a missionary was named Charlotte, Lottie for short, before she was mine. A fact that I know is not an accident. She exercises daily the very things she will need to be a missionary. Unlimited generosity, tremendous faith, unquestionable forgiveness. She is quiet and walks in humility and is bold all at the same time. She loves different cultures and is the most adventurous eater I’ve ever known. I will admit that I am fearful for her and would be content for her to decide to be something a little less global, but the truth is I want her to be what the Lord intends for her to be and if that is a missionary then so be it. I will have to trust that the One who calls is faithful and He will do as He promises for me and my foolish, fearful heart. I reckon Jim Elliot said it best when he says, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”


The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

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

Chirp…Chirp…Chirp…Where Are the Batteries?

We have all experienced it.  It can drive you crazy.  The sporadic chirping of a dead smoke detector battery.  I bet the sound is going through your head right now and you are remembering back to the last time your heard it.  They never seem to go out at a convenient time.  For some reason it always seems to be in the middle of the night.

Well about a month ago, I got an early morning, and I mean early, text from my brother.  He stopped by on his way home from work to check on my grandparent’s place and do a few loads of laundry.  He was not amused when what greeted him was the chirping of a dead smoke detector battery.  Our text exchange at 4:30 am went like this:

His text:  “Next time you come down bring a lot of 9-volt batteries.  Smoke detectors are driving me crazy

Of course, I inform him where he could find the replacement batteries at the house.

His text:  “ LOL ok I’ll check. They are all going out at once.” … “They [batteries] were there.  I’ll hang them back up instead of smashing them. Lol

He claims that there were at least six smoke detectors in the house and all of them were beeping at the same time.  I think he is exaggerating just a little.   He said it was like walking into a game called “Let’s Find the Smoke Detectors.”

So have you felt like this?  Are you walking through a maze of smoke detectors?  You know… stop one chirp and another pops up.  It is like you can never get ahead.  You feel like you don’t get anything accomplished on your “to do” list.  You are run down and running on empty.  Frustrated.  Something is always pulling you back, getting you down.  You worry, have fears. You get irritated. It’s driving you crazy and you feel like smashing something.

So what do you do? Do you give in to your pity party or do you calmly put out the chirps?  Are you spending time with Jesus recharging your batteries or are you letting everything build up until you just want to smash something?  Really, what does smashing something accomplish?  It may satisfy you for a few minutes, but in the long run not only do you end up hurting yourself, you hurt those around you, and you hurt your witness as a lover of Jesus Christ.  Plus, you have to go out and buy new smoke detectors which takes more time, effort and money.

pexels-photo-586340.jpegIs this how you are feeling?  Are you hearing the warning chirps?  Is your battery running low? Batteries can only last so long.  They are easily drained by over use.  Just like a cell phone has to be recharged every day. You need to plug in and recharge. Every day.

Today, let’s take some time to plug into our POWER source.  Maybe put on some PRAISE music and sit down with your favorite beverage and God’s Word.  Below is just a few verses to get you started.  I am sure you can add more.  Now spend time with the source of your power, pouring your heart out to him in prayer, letting him fill you up and recharge you.

Joshua 1:8  This law must not leave your lips! You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper and be successful.

Isaiah 40:31  But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength;
they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary,
they walk without getting tired

Psalm 55:6  I say, “I wish I had wings like a dove!  I would fly away and settle in a safe place!

Isaiah 43:2  When you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you.

Matthew 11:28-30  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”

Isaiah 14:3-4  When the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and anxiety, and from the hard labor which you were made to perform, you will taunt the king of Babylon with these words: “Look how the oppressor has met his end! Hostility has ceased!

As your time of recharging comes to an end, I pray that you start your day with a fully charged battery ready to face the fiery darts you know the enemy will be sending your way.