Sunday, December 16, 2012

Celebration of Waiting's a celebration of waiting...which makes no sense at all.

Who likes waiting?

I'm waiting for something.  Urgently.  This waiting is sort of consuming my life, blocking out the big picture.  I feel like I can't get on with things until the waiting is over.

My kids are waiting too.  They can hardly stand the wondering if they'll find what they desire most under the tree on Christmas morning.

We're all waiting for something...

So we need this season of celebrating waiting.  We're remembering that even though the waiting was long, oh, so very long, the Promise came. We're remembering all the waiting that ended with fulfilment.  Some of the waiting was hope-filled and some was anguished and despair-filled.  The fulfilment wasn't dependent upon the emotions of the those who waited but on the nature of the One who promised.  This is really good news for me.

Three hundred plus promises...endless waiting...and every promise was fulfilled.  Every single one.

The Son of God, Immanuel, became flesh and lived among us.  Light entered the darkness and nothing, absolutely maniacal killer, no unfaithful friend, no sickness or sorrow...can EVER extinguish that light.

I don't understand the waiting.  Truly I don't.  Today seems as good a day as any for the waiting to end.  But this I know:  the waiting doesn't diminish the power of the promise.

This is the promise I'm holding on to today...

A child has been born--for us!  
The gift of a son--for us!  
...and there will be no limits to the wholeness he brings!

No limits.


Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Isaiah 9:6-7 MSG
Revelation 22:20

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Adoption - The Rest of My Brother Story

As usual, when I write a post in which I feel I am completely undressing my heart publicly, I get an overwhelming response.  And I am undone.  Again and again.  His grace and His glory shine in the  vulnerable places...

Some of you would like to know more of the adoption story because you're on your own journey of Big Questions.  I will gladly share more of mine!

This little-brother-by-choice went off on his own.  He sought and found his birth mother, but that didn't work out in a way that anyone desired.  Understandably.  I grieved that she would feel she had failed her son twice.  I wish I could find her and tell her about grace.

We rarely knew where he was.  The nature of his disability is that it's very hard for him to hold down a job or function as a normal adult so he lives a transient life.  Because he's quite childlike, he's easily led.  This got him into trouble before and was the thing I dreaded most--that and the possibility he might be preyed upon by perverts.

Many nights I would lie awake and wonder where he was.  Alive or dead?  Hungry?  Safe?  I remember one night in particular...I could not sleep and tried to lift all my anxious thoughts in prayer.  I imagine that it reached the Father's ears in a cacophony of anxiety and fear mixed with genuine love.  I'm so grateful that He blows away the chaff of unbelief and gets to the heart of the longing.

The next day I got a phone call from my brother.  He was so excited to tell me how he'd been hitch-hiking in the middle of the night (that didn't calm my anxiety one bit!) and how the soles of his boots had fallen off and he was walking barefoot.  A trucker stopped to pick him up (my unbelieving heart leaped in fear again).  This trucker took him to a store (in the middle of the night?) and bought him new boots and a warm jacket.  Then he took him to KFC for a hot meal.  According to my brother, this man then "disappeared".  He was so excited about his new coat and boots--he hadn't a second thought for the mystery.  I could barely breathe and I certainly couldn't contain the flow of tears.  Man or angel, I know not.  This I do know:  my Father heard my prayers and He really, really wanted me to know that my love is but a drop in the ocean of His compassion!  I can trust Him to care for and watch over my broken brother.

I had a lot more peace about him after this.  My prayers held more faith and less fear.  I'm also very grateful that he calls from time-to-time.  Someone lets him use their phone to call and I get to hear his voice and have a general idea of his location.

In the summer of 2008 we were holidaying in the area where he was living.  I knew he had a job as a dishwasher in a road house.  I prayed he would call and he did so we made a plan to connect.  I wasn't absolutely sure he'd be there, but as we pulled into a dusty parking lot by a derelict road house, I saw a fellow that must be my brother.  He ran sobbing into my arms.  The emaciated, toothless, unwashed body held the heart of my little-boy brother seeking comfort.  Our tears mingled and that dusty corner became holy ground while my kids looked on in wonder.

We broke bread together in the road house.  A surreal experience.  It was a place unlike any other in which I'd ever eaten--I felt as though we were literally glowing in the dark.  I tried to absorb the fact that this man was the brother I hadn't seen for eighteen years.  All the while being mother to three kids who were trying to sort out this experience.  Was this man who looked unlike any they'd ever met really their uncle?  Why didn't he have teeth?  They tried to be polite and look away when he laughed in all the wrong places and talked way too loudly, but mostly they stared.  And he was delighted!  Delighted to be hosting his family.  He wanted to tell everyone I was his sister and he was an uncle and...and my heart ached because we all need to belong to somebody.

He was especially proud to introduce me to one of the waitresses.  Her face and her eyes were far older than her years.  She was tough, yet when she looked at my brother there was a motherly tenderness.  As she refilled my coffee cup, she rasped into my ear that she was happy to meet me and that I shouldn't worry as she was looking out for him.  I stopped to hug her long and hard when I left.

I could hardly stand to leave.  I longed to fatten him, put him in a shower, give him clean clothes...but he'd refused that kind of help.  I had to let go, recognize that I am not his rescuer.  Place him in the hands of my Father.  Trust.  And give thanks for mysterious truck drivers, crusty waitresses, "some guy" who's letting him stay in a cabin, for the knack he has with small engines, for a welfare system that does help those who simply cannot, for random phone calls, and most of all for a Father who never abandons the helpless.

Father to the fatherless,
defender of widows--
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
Psalm 68:5-6

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I was five when a baby boy was delivered to our door and I became big sister again.  I remember that day--so much excitement for a little girl.  I'd enjoyed our visits with the social worker and tried hard to appear the kind of girl that would make a good big sister.  Apparently, I had succeeded and now this squalling bundle was ours.  To keep!  He was ours and we were his.

Squall, he did!  A lot. There were some nasty marks on his little body too, not placed by love.  Everything about him called my fledgling feminine heart to nurture.  I loved him fiercely.  Surely enough loving nurture would heal it all.  That's what they told families in the early '70s.  Treat him like you treat your own and all will be well.

Of course, it became obvious before too long that this wasn't quite true--what could you do but keep on trying?   It was almost twenty years before adoption records were opened, testing done, and we learned new words like "fetal alcohol syndrome".  Too late for much intervention; small comfort that there was an explanation.

Now this boy was a man though his body contained a mind that had not properly developed to adulthood.  He carried our family name--a rare and unusual name in Canada--out into the world...and into the news.  The day I received the news was the only time in my life that I have literally wailed in anguish of heart.  I could not hold it in though others tried desperately to shush me.  All the years of trying.  All the grief over a child who didn't choose, but had a teen barely old enough to manage her own life devastate his with drug use. The pain had multiplied, reaching out to ravage others.

I was also ashamed.  That name in the news?  It was my name.  I was ashamed and at the same time ashamed of being ashamed.  My brave parents had bestowed their good name on a child in an act of love and it had been tarnished.  Rather publicly.  

I never think of this without thinking of the Good Name I've been given.  The Name that is above all names, granted to me with reckless abandon, without hesitation, with a furious love.  He adopted me, He chose me, and made me His own.  I am a child of God and I wear the name Christian.

This too has been awkward, as it associates me with those who claim the same name, but have used it to wreak war, havoc, and judgement.  I've barely done the name justice...  If He was unafraid to share His good name with the likes of me, what shall I do with it?  

Boldly declare that He is a God of fantastic love that embraces the weak and imperfect...  

Humbly extend the grace of His love that can never be earned, but is generously given...

Pray for those wounded by lies about His beautiful character...  

Seek opportunities to repair the breach. .. 

Be consumed by that Love.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. 
Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. 
Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1

I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Joyful Liberator

It's the Day for Remembering...our annual pause to seriously focus on honouring those who have given their lives for our freedom.  

Once again I tell my favourite story of the day my father's village was liberated, of handsome Canadian soldiers, and joyful freedom dancing in the streets.  I want my kids to know.  It's their story.  I want them to pass it on to their kids.  They need to know that at one time their ancestors were captives and that others paid the ultimate sacrifice to bring freedom.  The life they enjoy today was purchased at great cost by others.  

The story segues easily into the ultimate liberation story.  We who were once captives have had our freedom purchased by One who lived in perfect glory but willingly gave up paradise to live among us and ultimately die so that we can live.

He did so willing.  "Because of the joy awaiting Him."  

I used to think this "joy awaiting" was the privilege of being seated at the right hand of the Father.  But He'd already been with the Father.  He didn't need to endure the cross to gain that. 

I think the joy awaiting Him was the joy of seeing you and I set free!  His death on the cross purchased healing for the broken hearted...liberty for captives...prisoners set for those who for ashes...  

Anticipation of all that redemption was enough to make him "disregard the shame of the cross."  It was nothing to Him in comparison to the joy of seeing you and I set free from the chains that bind us.

He loves you so much!  He wants to you be free from anxiety, shame, the weariness of carrying overwhelming burdens.  He is your joyful liberator.  Your freedom is worth everything to much that a hideous death was nothing in comparison.  

Reach for it.  Receive it.  Savour the freedom.  Worship.

 But now, by giving himself completely at the cross, 
actually dying for you, 
Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, 
whole and holy in his presence.
Colossians 1:22 MSG

Hebrews 12:2; Isaiah  61:1-3

Friday, October 19, 2012

Who do You Smell Like?

I've been missing my friend Connie.  She moved this summer and I haven't seen her for a few months.  She taught piano lessons to my kids and I loved that we had a scheduled "check in". Just a moment in the doorway when we'd look into each other's eyes to see what really was the answer to, "How are you?"  We'd know.  Then we'd exchange a quick hug and I'd be off to make dinner and she to teach another lesson.

Later on I'd catch a whiff of her lovely perfume...I could smell a trace of her scent left on my clothing from our hug.  I loved it.  It's not so much that I loved the aroma as much as all the joy and affection that I associate with it.

Every single time this happened I would wonder what sort of scent I had been leaving behind...  Not literally--though I am fairly paranoid about body odour--but figuratively.  The answer to that question lies in what I've been soaking.

Some days it's the cesspool of self-pity or ingratitude.  I may as well get real--cesspool is just a fancy word for septic tank.  So if that's what I've been soaking in, I'm going to leave behind a, well, crappy scent.  You'll be so glad you hung out with me...or not.

If my heart has been bent toward gratitude, I'm likely to leave behind a much more pleasant scent.

There's a fragrance I want to leave more than any other...the essence of the incredible Love that has rescued me.  I want you to know that no matter how terrible your day has been, no matter the challenges you're facing, no matter how miserably you've failed...there is One whose arms are wide open, longing to pour healing and hope-filled Love into you.

His name is Jesus.

But thank God!
He...continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession.
Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere,
like a sweet perfume.

2 Corinthians 2:14 NLT

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Crazy but True

She sits alone in the crowd.  All the other moms are in little groups, chatting.  She radiates isolation.    And I know.  I know.  

I've known isolation...and received healing Love that trumps the love of a hundred friends. I also know that this Love was made to pass on...sigh.  

I've said hello before and tried to strike up a conversation.  It was about as much fun as a tooth extraction.  I've done enough today.  Given all I have to give.  Jeepers, can't it be someone else's turn?  

These thoughts are pathetic at best... despicable really.  Jesus gave me Love that pulled me out of a pit of hopelessness and I must, must pass it on.  I'm compelled...not by a "should" but by gratitude.  But I'm not feeling it at the moment.

So I ask for the will, the want, from the One who promises to give "the desire and the power to do what pleases Him."  

How crazy is that??  He's lavished an incredible, extravagant, live-changing love on me.  I balk and whine about passing it on.  Rather than strike me with a cosmic lightening bolt, He offers to help me.  He grants desire and power to do what pleases Him.  

So many times I've thought He was angry with me, thought He'd rejected me because I couldn't get it right...and I couldn't have been more wrong.  He's there--ready, willing, eager to offer all the resources of heaven.

He's just waiting for my yes.  Yes, I'm willing to be made willing.

Sometimes His grace seems too amazing!  What can I do but fall more wildly, more crazily in love with Him?  

And greet a lonely stranger.  :-)

 “O Lord, there is no one like you. 
We have never even heard of another God like you!
1 Chronicles 17:20

Philippians  2:13

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


For the Lord your God will go ahead of you...

My Father goes before me in this day.
To make a way through the challenges,
and to prepare blessings.

Yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.

My Papa's got my back.

He will cover you with his feathers.  
He will shelter you with his wings.

I'm covered, sheltered by His love.

The eternal God is your refuge, 
and his everlasting arms are under you.

He  holds me up.
I'm supported by His love

I will give you a new heart, 
and I will put a new spirit in you...
I will put my Spirit in you.

His Spirit.  Inside me.

Ahead.  Behind.  Beside.  Under.  Within.

I have nothing to fear.

Isaiah 53:12b; Psalm 91:Deuteronomy 33:27, Ezekiel 36:26-27

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Not Obligated

My dad fixes everything.  

My husband fixes everything.  

This is how they show their love.  Dull knives get sharpened, squeaky hinges get oiled, loose screws get tightened.  It's what they do.  It's one of the things I love about them!

The little one once said, "Dad has all the tricks that work."  She and her siblings have never worried a day in their life that broken things can't be fixed.  Of course they can!  Dad will do it.  We should have shares in the super glue company by now, he's fixed so many broken things...

I know this could sound like utopia to some.  Trust me, I'm thankful.  I've lost sleep thinking of how utterly incompetent I am to live life without them (but that's a topic for another post).

I understand faithfulness.  

It's not hard for me to believe that God can be counted on to help, to take care of things, to fix the messes we make.

Guess what?  Even with such faithful men to model His love, I still have lots to learn about His nature.  You-know-who will use any means possible to rob us of the joy of Papa's love.

It came to me as a total surprise that Papa God delights in me.  As in, dancing-and-singing-over-you-with-joy delight.

When I unpacked that revelation I realized that I'd been thinking God was faithful to me out of obligation rather than affection.  Unconsciously I believed His thoughts went something like this:  "Of course I'll forgive you, *sigh*, it's what I do because I'm good.  Of course, I'll help you, *sigh*, it's my nature to do it so I must.  *Sigh*."  

In my heart of hearts I believed I was God's duty.

It's such a wild and crazy, hugely breathtaking thought, that I can hardly type it out loud, but it's such good news that I have to say it, "He delights in me!  He delights in you!"

Not because He has to.  Because He wants to.  

Not because of anything you did or didn't do, but just because you're you--His kid.

"He will rejoice over you with great gladness...He will exult over you by singing a happy song."  (Zeph 3:17 NLT)

"I looked forward to your calling me 'Father'."  (Jeremiah 3:19 NLT)

"You are safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in His treasure pouch."  (1 Sam. 25:29 NLT)

"Now you are my friends...I chose you."  (John 15:15-16 NLT)

The more I learn of His love, the more I love Him!  If I don't share, I might burst!  ;-)

We, though, are going to love - love and be loved.
 First we were loved, now we love. 
He loved us first.

1 John 4:19 MSG

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Joy Fuel

It sneaks up behind me and clutches my heart with icy fingers:  I haven't done enough.  I should have done more.  It might be too late.  What if, what if, what if...and my heart takes off on a hamster wheel of worry.  

Joy leaks out of my heart like the strength leaving my knees.

Motherhood.  I love my kids more than anything.  I want to do it right.  Love them well.  Teach them everything they need to know to live a pain-free life.  Seriously.  You scoff because it's ridiculous, but look into the sweet faces of your own babies and ask yourself if you don't wish the same?

It's absolutely true that I haven't done very many (any?) things perfectly and only some things well.  Too late?  I don't know.  The experts say that the preschool years are the most formative and I wouldn't say I did my best parenting then.  What if it is too late for some things?  What if they do make some terrible choices that  Anxiety can be the worst kind of agony.

I fling myself at His feet, begging for mercy for my children, for some kind of second chance, for a "get out of jail free card"--and I find love-filled eyes.  Did He not come just because He knew we'd never get it all right?  Is it not His nature to create beauty out of ashes?  To bind up the broken-hearted?  To help desperate parents and imperfectly parented children?

A breath of hope.


It's not an excuse for sloppy parenting.  It is hope for those who are doing their imperfect best.  I make an idol of myself and my abilities when I think it all depends on my capacity to parent perfectly.

He loves my kids with a passion that's far greater than a mother's love.   I can trust Him.  He put His life on the line for their redemption.  


Joy begins to well up and strengthen my feeble knees. 

Trust fuels joy.

The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. 
I trust in him with all my heart. 
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. 
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.  
Psalm 28:7 NLT

Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD!
Psalm 40:4a NLT

O LORD Almighty, happy are those who trust in you!
Psalm 84:12 NLT

Those who trust the LORD will be happy.
Proverbs 16:20b  NLT 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Overflowing Joy

"I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes your joy will overflow!"

These words, surfacing over and over again in my thoughts, just savouring them making me feel joyful...  What precisely did he tell us so that we would be filled to overflowing with joy?

"I have loved you..remain in my love..."

He loves you.  Remain in--be vitally connected to--that love. Let His love be the source of your life.  Then you will overflow with joy...

As soon as the source of your life is the approval of others, the comfort of your circumstances, your sense of control over your life, the behavior of your children/siblings/friends...the joy begins to drain away.

Remain. Stay vitally connected to His love that never fails, is unconditional, that supersedes all circumstances...and your joy will overflow.  Meditate on His love.  Fill your mind with the truth that you can't earn it or lose it.  He loves you!

Knowing how loved we are takes the sting out of every rejection and failure.  Letting our thoughts dwell on that incredible love rather than all the he-said, she-said, what-if...and your joy will overflow.

He told us these things because He wanted us to be filled with His joy

John 15:9-11

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Let Joy

I'm a word nerd.  

If there was a club for word nerds, I'd want in.  Words are amazing!  I love all that you can express with them--and am sometimes frustrated by lack of just the right one.  I've secretly longed to be Greek just so I could have more to choose from.  If I had loads of money and time, I'd get a degree in linguistics just for the fun of discovering more of the wonder.  I'm so convinced of the fun of words that I'm sure others would think they were fun too, if only they knew!

Take for instance a little-known, virtually overlooked, yet profoundly impactful word...a word that, once you recognize it's full meaning, changes your entire reading of the Bible.  Seriously.  Three common letters that have the power to change your understanding.  What is this word you ask?  Let.  Yep, that was it--slow down and reread if you missed it.  Let.

The word "let" as it's translated into English means to grant permission, allow, or to loosen, slacken, relax.  Relax.  Oh, yeah, that's the one I need a reminder on some days.  Relax.  Let go of your need to control.  Whether it's control of my own world or control of how everyone else manages theirs, sometimes I need to let.

I've been thinking about the connection between joy and let.

Along with secretly wishing I was Greek, I've also secretly wished I was African-American.  This is partly because I'm convinced that I could sing better, but mostly because I like the way they let the joy roll in church.  I wish I could just let out the joy-whoops like those mommas do in the movies.  Full disclosure:  I know I can because I've tried this at home.  Perhaps what I mean is that I'd like to do it any time the joy bubbles up without giving anyone whom I dearly love a heart attack.

I've found a bit of scriptural evidence that God doesn't mind a little volume and enthusiasm.  He's even granted permission to let the godly rejoice and be filled with joy.

But let the godly rejoice.
Let them be glad in God's presence.
Let them be filled with joy.

Sing praise to God and to his name!
Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.
His name in the LORD--
rejoice in his presence!

He's granted permission.  I need to relax and be filled with joy in His presence.

Let yourself relax (relinquish control) and let His joy flood your soul.  All those things preplexing and worrying you?   Let go of control and let the joy fill that space.  It's often when I'm not looking, when I'm letting the joy bubble up, that all that stuff becomes clear anyway.

And if there's ever a time you feel a bit uncomfortable with someone's enthusiasm level, just remember that God said it was good.  Let them rejoice.

I'm going to go sing some loud praises now.


Psalm 68:3-4

Monday, June 25, 2012


In the '80s there was a really popular song called Don't Worry, Be Happy.  It was so catchy, so happy!  You couldn't help but love it and people loved to hate it.  It was often described as cheesy.  I'm not sure exactly why it's not cool to be happy...I think it might be another one of those lies we've been sold.

"Serious, calm, cool, and collected" didn't make it on to the list describing the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Joy did.  That is not to say that there isn't a time to mourn and be comforted--it's just that mourning is not a defining characteristic of those who are filled with the Spirit of the Living God.

To be joyful does not necessarily mean to be obnoxious or silly (though it possibly may look that way to the uninformed).  As a fruit of the Spirit, it is accompanied by love, peace, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, and self-control.

Joy looks different on everyone.  I have an uncanny ability to laugh and/or cry when I'm filled with joy.  (It's not always pretty which is unfortunate.)  My beautiful friend Amy is a lot more quiet than I am, but she radiates.  My husband's eyes twinkle.  My daughter just has to spin around.  Joy in any form is unmistakable.

So is joy something we get randomly blasted with or must we conjure it up?

I can conjure it up once in a while.  When I've had enough sleep, the sun is shining, I've had my coffee, the kids are behaving, adequate amounts of chocolate have been consumed, no one has looked at me funny...  You get the idea.  Conditions are rarely optimal.

He gives it to us.  He came to give us "messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit."  Instead of.

So why can't I feel it sometimes?  Because I quench His Spirit within me. I forget to give thanks in all things.  I stop praising and begin fretting.  I pile on all kinds of burdens, complaints and worries.  I get my undies and my eyebrows in a knot.  (That's not pretty either!)  I've gotta lay them all down at the feet of Jesus and look into His love-filled eyes.  

Joy is the fruit of His spirit.  It's what naturally happens when we "abide in the Vine."

There is joy in His presence!

His joy gives us strength

Blessing you with the courage to lay down your burdens and trust in His promise of good plans for your life.  May you feel the strength-giving joy of His presence!

Joy is yours, it belongs to the children of God.  Don't let anything steal it away.

Is 61:3 MSG, John 15, Nehemiah 8:10

Friday, June 15, 2012

For Wives Only

A beautiful friend is getting married soon.  As we who love her gather 'round to help her prepare, we are reminded of our own vows.  The promises we made.  The road we've travelled since.  Reminders are good.

I had an opportunity to speak a blessing at her wedding shower.  The words I was inspired to speak stirred my own heart, stirred others...perhaps you might be encouraged too?

When  God created Adam He said, “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him an help meet for him.”

Not a “helpmeet”.  A help.  Meet for him.  Two words.  Describing words.

The Hebrew word that has been translated “help” is a beautiful word.  It doesn’t mean “picker-upper-of-dirty-socks or scullery maid” it means to “aid, succour, comfort”.  It is only used to describe a wife…and to describe the kind of help God gives.  Only.  Pretty powerful, isn’t it?

God will help you as you help your husband.  All the resources of heaven, yours.

The word “meet” is an old English word that means “suitable, fitting.”  So God designed a wife to be “just right” for her husband.  There may be days in which you wonder if you’re doing anything right…remember that when God created you He said you were just right.  Don’t be afraid.  Ask Him to help you be all that He created you to be.

More modern translations render this verse:  “The Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

That’s you.

Anything else is a lie.  If you're feeling inadequate or like a miserable failure, lean into the arms of the Father and absorb His strength.  Look into His eyes and believe the promise.  Listen as He tells you that he made you just right for the job.  He will help you to be all He created you to be.

God said it is not good for your husband to be alone.  He made YOU a helper who is just right for him.

We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
Psalm 33:20-21

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Little Drummer Boy

We have a set of drums in the basement and mostly I don't mind.

This morning I was working in my (home) office when the silence was shattered.  After the initial shock wore off, I began to smile.  He was holding a steady rhythm, pounding out a sequence of sounds without missing a beat.  It didn't take much imagination to picture the concentration on his face--I know that look well.  After getting the beat established, he began to throw in extra bits.  I held my breath, wondering if he could maintain it.  He would be bursting with the joy of accomplishment if he could.  With a final crashing, triumphant riff he finished.  I loved it!  It was a joyful expression of his fierce little heart.

I was about to shout out my congratulations when I heard his sister wailing about the awful noise and how she couldn't concentrate!

I laughed out loud.  Oh, yes, I did!!

Two different perspectives.  Which one was he going to believe?

I reassured him that I was super impressed.  She chuffed and huffed about how she couldn't even think straight.

Who would you believe?

I'm not going to lie, I can be too aware of the opinions of others.  I have to be vigilant not to fall into the approval trap.  Criticism easily carries more weight than praise.

The opinions and responses of those around me can be motivated by a dozen different factors--perhaps more!  My Father is driven always and only by Love.

Who am I going to believe?

Does He see the efforts that others may only recognize as ho-hum or downright annoying as the beginnings of something great?  Could it be that He sees the heart of worship behind the less-than-perfect execution of the elements?  Is it possible that He doesn't compare us with anyone else because we're uniquely precious to Him?

I want to be tuned into the voice of the One who loves me most, who loves me perfectly.  I want to trust fully in His love.

We know how much God loves us,
and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love,
and all who live in love live in God,
and God lives in them.

1 John 4:16

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Hike

All I wanted to do on Mother's Day was go for a hike.  I have no idea why I put myself through this as the kids tend to be really grumpy or whiny when we subject them to such tortures...  But my husband is never happier than when rambling in the woods.  The winter has been long and I ache for fresh air and outdoor freedom.  We've gotten pretty good at tuning out all the bellyaching--they've been known to forget how horrible it is and actually enjoy themselves.

We set off up the "mountain," as the locals call the highest hill in the County.  The sun was shining--almost hot--and baby leaves were bursting out much like the joy in my heart.  My honey has a permanent upward turn to his mouth when we're all together outdoors.  The dog was cavorting wildly through mud bogs and underbrush.

One child tromped ahead with a scowl, seriously hoping we wouldn't meet any of her friends on quads while she hiked along like a plebeian.  One lagged behind moaning about the weight of the backpack (which he insisted on bringing).

My contentment was undisturbed.  My joy multiplied when Brian told me with an even bigger smile that he was going to show me a trail he'd discovered.  That's the kind of gift he really loves to give.

We called ahead to the tromping one that we were turning off here and she needed to come.  She argued, he insisted, and off we went.  It wasn't long until we realized that she hadn't joined us.  Seems she was sure we were all going to end up in the same place.  She thought wrong.

I was once that tromping one, veering off in the wrong direction so sure I was right.  So annoyed that everyone was freaking out.  So confident we would all end up in the same place.  What's the big deal?  Jeepers.  I know what I'm doing!

Daddy went back for his little girl.  He loves that stubborn little one and knew she'd become hopelessly lost without him.  He pointed out the path for us and reassured us that we would meet up ahead. I hated to see him go!  Actually, I resented the fact he needed to go, but I recognized the love.  I was torn between mercy and a desire to see her suffer the consequences of her actions.

My Father pursued me when I was on the wrong path too--He knew I would become hopelessly lost without Him.  My poor choices also caused pain for those who loved me.  I deserved all kinds of things, but not His mercy.  Yet He pursued me with love, never giving up until I followed Him back to the right path.  A crazy love lavished on the one who had rejected Him!

Meanwhile, we continued down the path Daddy had chosen.  One grumping and bewailing the fact that it was too hard, too long, and probably wouldn't get us where we wanted to go. The other little one trucked along enjoying the beauty of the path.  Once in a while she would pause and search my eyes--was I sure this was the right way?  I'd reassure her that Daddy knew what he was talking about and we could trust him.

I've also been like the grumping one--on the right path but complaining and unthankful, missing all the beauty and subjecting others to my misery.  No doubt others around me on the journey wished I'd just shut up and enjoy it already.  And I have been like the little one joyfully ascending the mountain stopping for reassurance from time to time.  I'm so thankful for all the ones who have encouraged me in those wondering moments that I can, indeed, trust the Father.  Follow the path He's directed and all will be well.

True to his word, we were reunited with Daddy and the (somewhat subdued) lost-and-found one.  Together we scaled the last very steep bit.  The wind whipped around us as we stood at the summit laughing.

The vista was breathtaking.

Absolutely worth the journey. 

If when we were at our worst,
we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son,
now that we're at our best,
just think of how our lives will expand and deepen
 by means of his resurrection life!

Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God,
we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose.
We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Romans 5:10-11 MSG

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day can be Muddled

I'm having a pretty stellar Mother's Day.  I had coffee in bed (albeit in a slightly sticky mug--perhaps some sloshed on the way to my room?), beautiful roses, and a lovely hike (children complaining loud and long and clear most of the way!).

They haven't all been so took a few years for my husband to catch on to the whole holiday and I'd cry and feel sorry for myself.  Never mind the years when all three preschoolers would be wailing and pooping and I'd think the best Mother's Day gift would be a break from them all!

I can't celebrate the day without thinking of my friends who aren't mothers because their bodies just wouldn't cooperate--I long to reassure them that they are not "less than."  I want them to know that the beauty and nurture they carry for everyone around them is what we're really celebrating.

I think about my friend who simply hates it all because her relationship with her mother is so...smashed and wrecked beyond hope of anything short of a miracle.  I know her story is extreme and that many others simply struggle with a quieter sadness that their parent/child relationship isn't what they'd like it to be.

Mother's Day is another holiday that can be kind of messy...which sort of makes sense as it involves people.

The disappointments that surround the day have something to do with the deepest longings of our hearts.  We were created to give and receive nurture and comfort...because we were created in the image and likeness of God. He is the only source of comfort for those aching places.

Jesus expressed His longing to comfort and nurture...  "How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me."

Are you blocking Him out and blaming Him for your disappointment?  Or resisting the comfort He offers because you just wish it was all different?  He's the only one who can heal the broken and comfort the weary.  He has not forgotten you.

Yet Jerusalem says, "The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us."

Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible, 
I would not forget you!
See I have written your name on the palms of my hands.

One of my friends writes stuff on her hands all the time.  She never forgets if she writes it there.  I really like the idea of my Papa with the letters of my name carved on His palm.  I love knowing that His love for me is even bigger than the love I received from my mom.  I really, really love knowing that His love is so big it will make up for the places my parenting is lacking.

My kids' names...your name...carved on the palms of the hands that formed the mountains, that paint the sunrises, and hung on a cross.

Matthew 23:37
Isaiah 49:15-16a

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Most of my creative juices have been going into preparations for a ladies' banquet at our church.  I'm going to speak about God's incredible love and my mind is popping with more ideas than I can squeeze into twenty minutes...there's just no end to His greatness!  If I don't share, I might burst!  ;-)

Everything is making me think of what it means to be one of His kids.  Take this fairly well-known picture:

The leader of a major world power deals with matters of state while his son plays at his feet...  Anyone else desiring an audience must fill out paperwork, pass stringent security tests, and wait for an appointed time...but not his son.

Makes me think of my Papa God.  He can deal with all the big stuff and He still has time for me too.  No formalities required.  That was all taken care of when He made me His.  I belong there in His presence.  He invites us to enter boldly, to run in with all the exuberance of a child who is confident of their Papa's love.

So let's walk right up to him
and get what he is so ready to give.
Take the mercy, accept the help.

Hebrews 4:16 MSG

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Memory Lane

I stood in the card aisle wondering what on earth is wrong with me?  None of the cards said the right thing!  They must say the right thing for somebody…after all, they’re selling.  I finally found a good one and bought it.  Next day it dawned on me that it’s the same card I bought last year.  Clearly, Hallmark only has one writer that does “us.”  I’m going to save that card for a few years because neither one of us seem to remember things like we used to...  It’ll seem like a whole new card then!  

It's my mom's birthday.  I really want to bless her.  The best way I know to do that is to recount the best memories.  The ones that I pull out of my mental treasure chest from time to time.  I'll share some of those memories with you too and maybe it'll encourage you on your parenting journey...

First best memory:  Watching mom get ready to go on a date with Dad.  A little clutch purse I didn’t remember seeing before with makeup inside!  She didn’t wear makeup every day.  I remember standing with wide-eyed wonder, watching as she applied blue eye shadow and Coty lipstick.  It was so wonderful!  Mom was so excited and happy.  She taught me that day that going on a date with your husband is sort of sacred, worthy of time and effort.  Mom taught me that making yourself lovely is a gift to him and yourself.

A vivid, very precious memory is of one day after Kevin [my adoptive brother who has FAS] woke up from his nap.  He just wanted to lie on the floor with his face on Mom's rabbit-skin-slipper-clad feet.  We sat there quietly watching this sleepy little broken boy absorb comfort.  She taught me something about mother love that day that I could not describe in words, but that filled my heart right to the top.

And what’s a mother-daughter relationship without playing dressup with mom’s shoes and clothes…?  Dads are great for tickling and motorcycle rides, but they’re no use at all when it comes to developing a sense of style!

Which leads me to the memory of the day Mom took me to Halifax all by myself.  No siblings.  She let me ride the escalator up and down and then again.  We bought a little sweater with a girl blowing bubbles embroidered on the front.  I felt so special that day.  Every time I remember that day I remember the importance of slowing down and doing life at kid speed.

Mom taught me to love and appreciate nature.  So many memories of hiking and skiing and hunting mayflowers.  She showed me that a walk in the woods can be an act of worship.

The most important thing Mom taught me was, without question, to always, always turn to God.  Life can be rough.  Stuff happens.  It can come from all directions.  Always turn to God.  Always.

As I write a new chapter on the hearts of another generation, I realize that we moms can’t ever, won’t ever, get it all right.  What does matter is the love we’re writing on our children’s hearts.

Even though the number is taking some getting used to, today I shout out the joy, “My mom is 70!”  Here with us.  Still writing her story on our hearts.

Her children stand and bless her...

Proverbs 31:28a 


Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Days in Between

This day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday...  I always think of the disciples, devastated and grieving, beyond heartbroken.

They didn't know that it had been a "good" Friday...the beginning of freedom from the chains of sin.  It just looked like the end of all their hopes and dreams.  They didn't know that in one more day their world would be turned completely right side up, that they would burst with a joy that could not be contained, that all of history would shift on its axis, that a revolution would be launched.

There's been a theme running through my posts of late about the waiting time between the promise and the fulfilment.

It's the not knowing that can become our undoing.  Not knowing when/if the waiting will ever end.

The disciples didn't know what we know...

The ability to hold on comes from remembering what we know.

While you wait...for the long hard things...when your faith is absolutely stretched...peer into the empty tomb.  Gaze at the neatly folded cloth that wrapped His head.  Breathe deeply of the sweet scents that anointed Him.  His is risen!!  Death did not and cannot prevail.  Darkness has never and will never overcome Light.

Remember the empty tomb!

The Spirit of God,
who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.
And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead,
he will give life to your mortal bodies
by this same Spirit living within you.

Romans 8:11

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Only one little paper left in my Box of Love this morning, but, oh, what a beautiful benediction we're left with!

Now may the Lord of peace Himself

give me peace

at all times

and in every way.

On this Thursday of Holy Week we remember a King kneeling to wash the filthy feet of imperfect men.  We remember how He broke bread and asked that we remember His body broken for our peace.  Peace in our homes, our marriages, our parenting, our workplaces...peace in a world where there is no peace without Him.  He gave everything for our peace.

When peace is fractured by selfishness...when we shatter the peace with angry or impatient words...when peace unravels because we forget how deeply, truly, profoundly we are's not the end of the story.  He died so that when we fumble, falter, blow it...there's still hope.  When we reach for the gift of the cross, grace floods in and redeems.  Everything.  Anything.  There is nothing so great, strong, or dark that His grace cannot bring beauty out of the ashes of our despair.

When we're weary and feel like we cannot carry on...or ask for grace one more time...He kneels and washes our wandering feet, refreshing our peace.

In this weekend of holy celebrations may you discover His peace in new ways.  For you and for your peace He came and lived and died.  We can hardly comprehend the magnitude of His suffering and we've only begun to experience the depths of what was purchased for us.

I pray you fully embrace His grace in all of your interactions with family and friends.  May you receive the gift of grace He's given and extend it to others.

For Christ himself has brought peace to us.
Ephesians 2:14a

2 Thessalonians 3:16
This post is part of a series Love in a Box

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Asking for Help

"I will call you whenever I'm in trouble,
and you will answer me."

Who among us has not called out in desperation?  And who has not wondered if anyone is listening?

The chunk of time that stretches between the calling and the answer is the battleground.  Will we believe He's already got an answer on the way or will we call Him a liar?  It is only when we are in that place of tension that faith is really faith.  Faith, the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen.  Faith, the thing that pleases God.

In that no-man's land of waiting and wondering...when we declare that He is good and faithful and that we believe, we stir pleasure in the heart of the God of the universe.  He knows what it's like to live in human skin and not be able to see past the end of our noses.  He knows.  And the audience of heaven cheers us on. 

We call and He answers.  This is my story.  I know it is true.  He rescued me in a huge and eternal way from a life of hopelessness.  He daily rescues me from trouble.  Because He is good and full of love.

O Lord, you are so good
so ready to forgive,
so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.

No pagan god is like you, O Lord.
None can do what you do!

Psalm 86:5-7
Hebrews 11 & 12
This post is part of a series Love in a Box

Monday, April 2, 2012

Joy made Full

Today's little scrap of paper was smaller than the others, tightly folded...

I ask and receive and my joy is made full.

I ask. A lot. I receive...sometimes.  My it full?  I have lots, but I think there's still room for more.

I've been pondering the big questions of unanswered prayer a lot lately.  Seeking words adequate to describe trust when the answers aren't neatly packaged in a little box and adorned with a perfect bow.

In my own life I've gone through times of such profound pain and disappointment that I shut out, blamed, even accused the One who was my only source of hope.  

We can get sad, mad, hurt, frustrated, angry, disappointed, distressed, depressed when He doesn't enter our circumstances in the way we want Him to, when it looks like He hasn't done what He promised.  He promised a way to escape temptation, but I just want to escape reality.

We block Him out or say He isn't real because He doesn't dance to our tune or rescue us according to our plan.

Yet all the walls built to block out the pain of disappointment also block out the light.  The hope.  Even those disappointed places, especially those disappointed places, must be surrenderd to Him if I want to be filled full with joy...

So many mysteries, so many complexities, that don't fit into the neat little columns and boxes I adore.  Yet I always come back to the fact that He is huge and full of love.  Trustworthy.  He hung the stars and keeps the planets in their orbit.  He can handle the details of my life.  I can trust even when things don't make sense.

He says to ask...He invites us to ask.  He promises we will receive all that we need...and then some.  My joy is full and when I trust that He is answering and providing all that I need.  Even when it doesn't come in the package I was looking for.

And this same God who takes care of me
will supply all your needs from his glorious riches
which have been given to us in Christ Jesus

Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever!

John 16:24
Philippians 4:19-20
This post is part of a series Love in a Box

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Truce Day

I've had this feeling that the kids and I might possibly be suffering from a form of cabin fever.  We get out almost every day (in fact, I'm thankful for the odd day that we don't have to rush off), but there's been a lot of "nose to the grindstone", we're with each other all day every day, and it's been a terrible winter in terms of opportunity for outdoor fun.  Wikipedia says the symptoms of cabin fever include "restlessness, irritability, paranoia, irrational frustration with everyday objects, forgetfulness, laughter, excessive sleeping, distrust of anyone they are with, and an urge to go outside even in the rain, snow, dark or hail."  

"Irrational frustration with everyday objects" rang true!  Not entirely funny as this irrational frustration might have been wearing on the hearts of my kids.  Okay, we could argue that the frustration is entirely rational when a mother's told her children the same bedtime routine for nine years and said child needs to be reminded yet again...  Whatever the case, I've noticed our hearts have been showing signs of wear and tear.

I declared Friday a fun day.  I (privately) vowed not to nag one bit.  No hurrying, no mention of mud or mess, no comment on the number of times they've been told the same thing.  Training mannerly citizens calls for those things, but Friday was going to be a truce of sorts. 

On our way to the pool I realized with a twinge of disappointment that I hadn't opened my verse of the day from the love box.  

I sat by the pool and read some encouragement for moms and homeschoolers.  I breathed a sigh of grateful prayer.

At one point, I thought of hurrying the kids so I'd have time to blog.  Nope.  Vow.  Love was the rule of the day.  Kids before writing.

We had fun all day.  We lingered and laughed, licked ice cream.  It felt good.

I got home just in time to head out again for some girl time with good friends.  Crazy, I know!  Can you have that much fun in one day?  Could I survive a day without crossing anything off the list?  A day wherein the list might grow due to neglect?  

At 11:30 p.m., waaaaay past my bed time, far too late to blog, I peeked at Week 1, Day 6:

I am growing and becoming strong in spirit,
filled with wisdom;
and the grace of God is upon me.

I chuckled in a slightly choked up way.  I felt like my Papa was smiling as He spoke words of affirmation.  Good job, girl, in making love a priority over the list.  Thanks for setting aside your goals to cherish the hearts of my little ones.

He grants wisdom, just because...because He loves.  He knows our needs.  He cares about the details of our lives.  He gives us grace and we pass it on.  How I love grace...they way it infuses our lives, reconnects our undeserving hearts, and revives.  

We love because He first loved us.

Luke 2:40
This post is part of a series Love in a Box