Monday, January 30, 2012

In the Shade

Before the sun was anywhere near the horizon I was driven awake by a sense of panic.  I hate that.  It hardly ever happens anymore, but it used to more often than not.  Panic doesn't belong to me.  In the darkness I sought the root and found it in the looming deadline. 

Simultaneously, another message rose to the surface.

"...the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand."

My right hand.  The one I work with.  Shaded.  Sheltered from the blistering heat of the midday sun.  Protected by my loving Father.

Work I must, but I don't need to be scorched.

Shielded and protected.  Shaded.

It's Monday and the week stretches ahead, full of responsibilities.  Lean into the shade of His right hand. 

The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade,
The sun will not harm you by day, 
nor the moon at night.
The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
Psalm 121:5-8; KJV/NLT

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Song He's Singing

It was time to make myself a cup of tea, time to take a break from the push/pull/shove required to get the kids through their school work.  It hadn’t been a horrible morning, neither was it a brilliant one.  Just one-foot-in-front-of-the-the-other, slightly uphill.

“Would the day seem less arduous if you could hear the song I’m singing over you?”

Yes, oh, yes, it would!

I forgot that He’s singing over me.  It’s very easy to miss...

I asked Him to help me hear the song.  He did.  I was surprised--I didn’t know He felt that way about my day which appeared so hum-drum.   It made all the difference.

I pray that you’ll hear the song today.  He's singing over you.

For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Zephaniah 3:17
P.S.  I love Bebo Norman's song Sing Over Me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


When we came out of gymnastics tonight the sky was still light.  My heart leaped with hope!  Last week it had been dark.  My head knew the days were getting longer, but I hadn't been able to tell day-by-day.

Yesterday I had to deal with an employee--it ended up becoming a bit of a confrontation.  It was only afterward that I realized I was okay.  It didn’t take an hour for my emotions to calm.  That’s a big deal for me.  I hadn’t realized I was making progress in that area.  (Honestly, it’s about time!)

And so growth and change happen, often in little increments, barely perceptible, but eventually recognizable.

We can become discouraged, we despair and wonder if we’re making any progress at all...until one day we recognize the difference, we feel Spring in the air, the sun finally peeks over the horizon.

His promises to complete the good work He started in you are more sure than the coming of Spring.  You have His word on it.  Take heart.  Like the coming of the dawn, His life is growing inside of you.  Keep on keeping on--you’re on the brink of the glorious.

Blessing you with perseverance and grace.

We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul--
not the grim strength of gritting your teeth 
but the glory-strength God gives.  
It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, 
thanking the Father who makes us strong enough
to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. 

 Colossians 1:11-12 MSG

Monday, January 23, 2012

Huge Love

My prayer hasn't been answered.  A big one.  One that mattered so much to me, that I've invested my heart in for two years.  It's not a disaster--there's another answer--it just isn't the one I wanted, the one I asked for, the one I thought would be best.  I'm grieving a little...while giving thanks that there's another answer, a good one.

I've sort of wrestled all afternoon with the fact that I'm disappointed...feeling like I shouldn't be.  Silly woman.  Has God ever said anything other than, "Come unto me..."?  No disclaimer.  No, "get your act together" and then come.  No shame.  NO SHAME.  Ever.  Just come.

So I come.  And find rest.  I come and discover that He's not disappointed in me for feeling sad.  He's just full of love.  Love that's bigger than our prairie skies.  Deeper than the ocean.  It's a Love so huge that it invites trust.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths...

How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 36:5-7

Friday, January 20, 2012

Laying Aside Dread

It was really hard to get out of bed this morning.  Fact:  My body and brain have already had a full week but I need to do one more day before I get to relax a little.   Remember how I wrote about the ways our enemy can sneak in and take advantage of the facts?  Well, I forgot.  So I lay there feeling like I didn't have what it would take to get through the day.

"Lay aside the thing that 'so easily besets'."

I recognized those words.  How do you lay aside exhaustion...or was there something else?  (I was starting to remember!)


Yep, that was it.  The thing that snuck in through the fact door was dread.  And dread doesn't belong to me, it's not the truth that applies to my life.

So I adapted Hebrews 12:1 for my life today:  "I am stripping off every weight that slows me down, especially the dread that so easily trips me up.  Let me run with endurance the race God has set before me.  I do this by keeping my eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects my faith."

Dread was blocking out the sun.  My day contains many duties and responsibilities, but it also holds the promise of good things.  He's already appointed times to meet with me and refresh my spirit.  I'd miss it all with my eyes and hands clenched shut with dread.

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.

Psalm 143:8 & 10

(If you can relate to this post at all and feel like you need a musical boost, click here for a song guaranteed to get you going!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Risk Factor

God is not afraid that I might mess things up.

This is the Big Thought that has captivated me this week.  I was chatting with friends about fears that hold us back.  In a flashing moment of revelation I realized one of the biggies for me is that I might mess things up somehow.

There are things I dream of doing, but I hesitate on the brink... I pause at the chicken line...  I falter when I have opportunity to tell the random stranger, or more often, the people I regularly meet, how very much I sense God's love for them, the ways I see His goodness shining in their lives, because I might mess "it" up. Whatever "it" is?

This seems like a very good question.  What exactly is the "it" that I think I might mess up?

Is He not big enough to work through and in spite of my idiosyncrasies and awkwardness?  Is it anything other than His incredible Spirit working in us and through us that accomplishes the glorious?

I think He really just wants our willingness, our "yes".  He can work with that.  Flawless execution is not required...  How is it that I could imagine that my getting "it" right is what's going to make anything effective?

The fact that He's willing to risk using fragile and imperfect human beings provokes a sense of awe...  He's willing to risk it, why aren't I?

Praying for more courage and boldness.  And a better sense of perspective.

I [Paul] was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate--
I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it--
and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else.
But the Message came through anyway.
God's Spirit and God's power did it...

It is not by force nor by strength,
but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven's Armies.

1 Corinthians 2:3-4 MSG; Zechariah 4:6 NLT

Monday, January 16, 2012

Loss and Hope

My Aunt Barb visited this weekend.  We haven't seen each other for 21 years.  Life has led each of us to different parts of the country, and sometimes to different continents.  It was so wonderful to be with her and for my husband and children to become acquainted with her.

Our visiting also stirred up some pain that had been lying dormant.  Her husband was my favourite uncle.  I guess he still is, but I haven't seen him for 28 years.  He was taken from us, violently, by the hands of one whom we had cared for.  My Uncle Gerry was a pastor, a man who loved God, and truly believed that love should be lived out, poured out, on the broken and hungry.  He was killed "in the line of duty."

It almost felt wrong grieving again after so many years, but are there any rules about when grieving starts and ends?  Loss is...just that, loss.  There was a time when I wrestled and struggled and was so angry that God would let this evil happen.  I no longer hold Him responsible for the choices of men.  However, I am reminded that ANY time any of us listen to the lies of the enemy, choose sin, reject truth...there's a price to pay.  

Sin causes pain.

I talked to my aunt for hours.  We caught up as adults.  She raised, I am raising, three kids.  Her story is full of miracles--the greatest being the power of forgiveness.  No less amazing to me are all the stories of miraculous provision.  Sin may have stolen her husband in his prime, but Jesus has not abandoned her.

Jesus brings healing.  He paid the eternal price AND He brings healing to us here and now.

There are still fracture lines of pain running through our extended family because of this loss.  There is also a powerful testimony that God and His love are real and that there's hope for healing after devastating loss.  

I have a burning passion to tell you, to tell everyone, that there's healing for you, that the pain doesn't need to multiply and spread.  That God doesn't just heal our hearts, He promises to "repay two blessings for each of your troubles."   He promises that there will be a day when "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain."*

This is no pie-in-the-sky promise.  I've seen the down payment on the promise...the joy in my aunt, the end of the torment in my own heart, in the hundreds who have received the gift of God's love in the wake of my uncle's death.  In his life and death they saw what Love looks like.

Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood,
I will free your prisoners from death...
Come back to the place of safety,  all you prisoners who still have hope!
I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles.

Zechariah 9:11-12 NLT

*Revelation 21:4

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Never Abandoned

Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord,
have never abandoned anyone who searches for you.

I know these words are absolutely true.  I've lived long enough to put them to the test and He's never abandoned me.  I've searched for Him in times of great desperation and in times of everyday weariness. He's always been there. 

There have been moments where it hasn't felt like it, but in retrospect it's so obvious that only His love and grace got me through that time.

I love that He's there for days like today...when the story's not particularly glamorous or dramatic, but I still need to know His presence.  I need Him when I'm biting my tongue because we're running late and I've already said three times, "Put socks on!"  I need to sense His presence as I'm running from one kid-drop-off to the next.  I need to sense His love flowing through me when I just want to grab milk at the grocery store and hurry out, but I meet someone who needs a genuine, "How are you?"  I really, really need to sense His presence when we all finally tumble into the house hours past suppertime and we're all hungry.

I need to know His presence all the time.  I love that we have the promise:  seek Him and you'll find Him.  

The trick is to remember to stop and seek.  To believe even when we don't feel. (Sometimes I'm not aware that He's there until I begin to give thanks.)

Search for Him wherever you find yourself today.  You'll find Him.  He'll never abandon you.  You have His Word on it.

Blessings, my friend.

Psalm 9:10

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dare to Trust

I got to witness something truly lovely today.  I went with my friend to listen as she spoke to a ladies' group about her adventures on a short-term mission trip.  It was really the story of how she encountered God in a new way and He healed some of the broken places in her heart.  I've known her for a long time and there's no doubt she has been transformed.

One of my favorite things she said was, "We believe that God can part the Red Sea, but sometimes we feel there's no hope for some of the situations in our life.  It's not true.  He can help us with the seemingly impossible stuff."  You could feel a ripple of hope go through the room.

Have I mentioned that her two-year-old daughter is scheduled for open-heart surgery in less than two weeks?

All afternoon I've been pondering how we can make these radical statements of faith when we have questions that are yet unanswered.  My friend's heart was dramatically touched, on her journey she saw a medically verified miracle...and her baby needs major surgery.

There are so many questions I cannot answer.  What I do know, what my friend knows, is that when you've really encountered God and He's touched your life, you know you can trust Him with your unanswered questions.  You know that He's BIG and that He's very, very kind.

Yes, we wrestle with things, we weep, and we wonder, but the bottom line is that we've tasted and seen that He is good and we dare to trust.

Have you ever come on anything quite like
this extravagant generosity of God, 
this deep, deep wisdom?
It's way over our heads.  We'll never figure it out.
Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! 
Always praise!
Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

Romans 11:33-36 MSG 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taking January Back

It's funny how when I take the terrifying step of being especially vulnerable in a post I get a lot of responses...

I've had a lot of responses to yesterday's post.  There's a common theme.  January is tough.  There is a myriad of reasons.  A lot of it is associated with the weather--lack of sunlight and outdoor exercise--post holiday blues, sugar low, financial struggles...  It's a long list and each individual is unique.

These factors are very real.  We live in human "mortal" bodies that are influenced in more ways than we know.

I absolutely believe that our Father recognizes this and that He cares...

We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.
He's been through weakness and testing,
experienced it all--all but the sin...

I also believe that we have an enemy who recognizes our weakness and vulnerability, who won't hesitate to take advantage...

Keep a cool head.  Stay alert.  
The Devil is poised to pounce and would like nothing better than to catch you napping...

Catch me napping.  Lull me in to thinking that Vitamin D is my only problem...  What if that enemy can get me to buy into the idea that I'm a victim of all these very real natural forces?  I think he can get me so focused on those facts that I forget there's potential for a greater power to work in my "mortal body."  Before I know it, I've made an agreement with the spirit of heaviness and am effectively bound and chained.

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life...
for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells
--even though you still experience all the limitations of sin--
you yourself experience life on God's terms.
It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God
who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life,
he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus,
bringing you alive to himself?
When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus),
you are delivered from that dead life.
With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!

I want to take January back.  I don't want it to be a cursed and hopeless month.  It may not be the easy, breezy days of summer, but I refuse to be chained.  I'm going to take my Vitamin D and "stay alert."

If you need a song to help shake off the heaviness, if you want to raise a shout that, "My heart is free, no chains on me," click here.

Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 5:8; Romans 8:9-11  MSG

Monday, January 9, 2012

Out of the Mire

I just got so GRUMPY this afternoon.

I don't even know why.  Maybe it's all the constant noise.  Or hormones.  Or the relentless chores, the stupid, ever-multiplying dust bunnies. Lack of sleep?  Lack of Vitamin D? It doesn't even matter.  The fact  is that something was sucking me into a pit, a mire of misery.

That mire was strangely alluring and I could almost believe that if I just let myself go there for a while and rest, I might even feel better...  In fact, I probably deserved to settle there for a while.  Perhaps I'd even earned it.

Lie.  Definitely a lie.  I've been there before.  The misery multiplies and innocent bystanders get muck on them.

A walk!  Yes, a walk often does wonders when I feel this way...but the wind is blowing 50 mph and my world is coated in a glare of ice...  The quicksand gave another heave, threatening even more powerfully to suck me in.

Thankful.  Yes, I know that I know that I know that gratitude is key.  I tried.  But it felt forced and fake even though I knew in my head that I was absolutely thankful for many things.

This struggle called for rest, actually.  Not rest in the mire though.  I put on my favorite love songs.  The ones that remind me of the greatness of the perfect love of my Father.  I rested there.  Soaked up that love.  Sighed out the weariness.  I gathered strength.

Then I found my son who absolutely and truly had been a pain in the...neck...most of the morning and I hugged and tickled him. Because he's worth it.

I made myself look straight into the eyes of the little one who quietly doesn't miss anything, who knew exactly what had been going on, and I smiled.  Real, genuine smile.  Because she's very, very precious.

I took a deep breath and chose love for the one who'd been acting so junior high, because she's a great kid and I want to keep the lines of communication open.  And because of the One who has given me such an abundance of love when I've been acting I act sometimes.

Mire has never taken me there--it just messes with my relationships. Love will.  It never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out.  Honestly, apart from His love and grace, I'm incapable of anything other than sinking into that mire of self-pity.  I'm so thankful for His love.  So thankful that He pours it out lavishly, never annoyed that I need it again.  So thankful that He gives an abundance--enough to pass on.

And so faith, hope and love abide
[faith--conviction and belief respecting man's relation to God and divine things;
hope--joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation;
love--true affection for God and man, growing out of God's love for and in us],
these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 AMP

Saturday, January 7, 2012


"But oh!  God is in his holy Temple!
Quiet everyone--a holy silence.

Taking some time for silence this weekend.  Choosing to be quiet so I can listen.

Praying that you too can find silence, that you can hear your Father whispering of His love for you.  He is not silent.

 "But I will reveal my name to my people,
and they will come to know its power.
Then at last they will recognize that 
I am the one who speaks to them."

Habakuk 2:20; Isaiah 52:6

Friday, January 6, 2012

Small Beginnings

It's so easy for us to see where we have room to grow...more love, more patience, more self-control, better parent/spouse/friend...  To desire growth is a good thing, however in my longing for more I easily overlook what He has already done--in myself and others.

We must not disregard the small beginnings.  God doesn't.

Do not despise these small beginnings,
for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin...

This verse was referring to the rebuilding of the Temple.  What is our desire but to see His Temple rebuilt in our lives through demonstrations of love, joy, peace--the fruit of His Spirit?   

And He has begun a good work.  These "small beginnings" are but the first fruits, the promise of what is yet to come.  God rejoices in these small beginnings!  He who started the good work in you will complete it.  

Giving thanks for the small beginnings I've recognized in this day.  Praying for eyes to see and a heart that more readily recognizes and celebrates the small beginnings...which hold great potential.

All this may seem impossible to you now...
But is it impossible for me?
says the Lord of Heaven's Armies...
For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you.

 Zechariah 4:10; 5:7&12

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January Song

"Is any one of you in trouble?  He should pray.  Is anyone happy?  He should sing songs of praise."*

In this week of turbulence I have prayed.  Oh, how I have prayed!  And He has heard my voice!  All I can do is sing songs of praise!

Giving thanks for:

A glimmer of hope that the kids are settling into routine...

A couple of kid-free hours thanks to my husband...

The genuine kindness of my co-workers...

A little chat with a good friend...

A daughter singing her own songs of praise as she loads the dishwasher...

He is real.  He lifts us up.  He steadies us.  He gives us a song to sing.  Even on bleak and turbulent January days.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair...
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.*

If you are feeling your own January troubles, pray.  He hears.  Wait patiently with your trust in Him.  He will fill you with a song!

James 5:13 NIV; Psalm 40:1-3 NLT

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Experiencing Some Turbulence

"Please fasten your seatbelt as we are experiencing some turbulence."

This seemingly random thought popped into my head today.  On second thought, I began to think it wasn't random at all, but a message I needed to hear.

I've definitely been experiencing some turbulence.  Day two of school wasn't much easier than day one...hard to get everyone out of holiday relaxation mode and back to work.  Speaking of work--my paid job feels a little stressful and overwhelming with deadlines looming.

Yep, turbulence.  I should definitely be fastening my seatbelt and trusting the Pilot to get me through this time...


Seatbelt.  Belt.  Several hours later this thought kept floating to the surface.  (I'm a little slow some days!)  I paused and actually gave some thought to how on earth I was to "fasten my seatbelt."

"Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth..."  Ah!  Truth.  Stand my ground--not sink into weariness and lose ground--through truth.

"God will supply all your needs..."  ALL.  Body, soul, and spirit.

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown... For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour..."

Truth.  Just these few thoughts were making me feel more secure.  Shalom--that peace in the midst of the storm--began to settle over me.

If you're going through any turbulence of your own, grab hold of some truth and trust the Pilot.  He will be with you, you will not drown, He is your Saviour...

Ephesians 6:14; Philippians 4:19; Isaiah 43:2-3;

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


First day back to school after Christmas holidays and it was a bit of a rough start...

I had been in awe of the fact that I wasn't dreading it--I tend to dread January in general.  The little man, however, had been dreading it and had worked himself into a bit of a state.  The first hour was filled with, "I can't...too hard...hate school...stupid..."

I sent him outside for a while to find his good attitude.

Twenty minutes later he hadn't returned.  I found him in the doghouse.  Literally.  Unfortunately, he hadn't found his good attitude in there.

I feel his pain.  Sometimes we find ourselves in situations we just don't want to accept.  There's got to be some way out.  We dread and stew and make ourselves miserable, but there's no escape.

There is, however, a way through.

I explained to my son that when we can't find a way out, thanksgiving will help us find a way through. I encouraged him to find one thing about school for which he was thankful.  Told him that thanksgiving is like kryptonite to the enemies of discouragement and despair.  All the while I know that I'm speaking to myself too.

It took him a while to come up with something.  It was even harder to say it--as though giving thanks would be some sort of surrender.  And it is.  It involves acknowledging that we are not the master of our universe.  But, oh, what a glorious thing happens when we place our trust in the Gentle Shepherd!

When we give thanks we invite His presence into our difficult circumstances.

He could only find one thing he was thankful for, but it changed everything.  Hope entered the room.

"Thank God no matter what happens.
This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live."

1Thessalonians 5:18 MSG

Monday, January 2, 2012

Writing in Pencil

I hate New Years' Resolutions.

It's not that I don't like fact, I'm quite goal-oriented by nature.  There's just something about New Years' resolutions that irk me.  They stress me out.  We joke about how predictably easy they are to break.  I get this feeling when I make them that somehow achieving them is a key to happiness. 

I was really, really good at setting goals and achieving them precisely on time and in the way I had planned...before I had children. 

Then I had kids.

They had absolutely no regard for the fact that I had a goal of exercising every day so I could lose ten pounds by the end of February.  Just when I was finally exercising they would need me.  It was so inconvenient.  I would grow resentful.

I would resolve to read a certain amount of scripture every day and then find myself shrieking at them for interrupting me.  Don't worry--the irony of that was not lost on me.

The problem wasn't and isn't in setting the goals...we must aim in a certain direction to get there!  The problem is when those goals are elevated above love.

"Most of all, 
love each other as if your life depended on it.
Love makes up for practically anything."

My kids are older now and don't have "potty accidents" anymore, but they still need meMy days inevitably contain things unscheduled and beyond my control--such as the lesson given while I was in the middle of writing this on How to Remove Ketchup from the Carpet.  I often struggle with frustration at these moments.

So I'm only making one resolution:  I resolve to love as if my life depends on it.  A resolution I can't possibly keep on my own, but I have a Backer.

I'm counting on love making up for "practically anything."  That love will matter more and make all the difference in those places where my life doesn't look as neat and tidy as it would in my imaginary world where I control everything.

I'm still planning on exercising regularly and cutting out those late afternoon potato chips.  I want to work on a writing project and finally make curtains for the guest room.

I'm still making plans--I'm just writing them in pencil.

1 Peter 4:8 MSG

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Thing

I love taking time for reflection on New Years' Eve. 

This year we spent some time with close friends.  We talked about milestones in the past year, unexpected joys, and about the ways we discovered God in the challenges.  These are close friends with whom we have the rare privilege of being safely transparent.  We know the details of the hurdles each of us has faced.  To know that and to be able to celebrate the goodness of God together was so encouraging!

There's a passage in Isaiah that recounts the faithfulness of God in the past and then God says:
 "But forget all that--
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun!
Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland...

Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
so my chosen people can be refreshed."

The best that God has done in the past year?  It's nothing compared to what He is going to do!

He's going to make rivers in the dry places in your life.  

So you can be refreshed.

Isaiah 43:18-20