Monday, February 28, 2011

A bouquet of praise.........

"If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11

Corrie Ten Boom was released from Nazi Death Camp Ravensbruck due to a "clerical error." All women her age were killed soon after her release. Shortly before her sister Betsy died there, she and Corry led church services from inside Barracks 29. She or her sister would read from their one "secreted" Bible. Here is how she describes one of those typical evenings there surrounded by the unspeakable evil of everything that was going on around them:

"At first Betsie and I called these meetings with great timidity. But as night after night went by and no guard ever came near us, we grew bolder. So many now wanted to join us that we held a second service after evening roll call. . . (These) were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28. A single meeting night might include a recital of the Magnificat in Latin by a group of Roman Catholics, a whispered hymn by some Lutherans, and a sotto-voce chant by Easter Orthodox women. With each moment the crowd around us would swell, packing the nearby platforms, hanging over the edges, until the high structures groaned and swayed."
"At last either Betsie or I would open the Bible. Because only the Hollanders could understand the Dutch text we would translate aloud in German. And then we would hear the life-giving words passed back along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, and back into Dutch. They were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the light bulb" (Ten Boom 1971, p. 201)

Betsie's last words to Corrie before she died there in that concentration camp were: "...(we) must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here." (Ten Boom, 1971, p. 217)

Corrie spent the rest of her life traveling around the world and speaking to people about all the things she had learned through her experiences. After every engagement people would gather around her and thank her for so greatly encouraging them in their faith. Every time she would give the glory to the Lord. She would go back to her room, get down in her knees, and present those compliments in thanks to God. She called it giving God a "bouquet of praise."

I like that.......Corrie learned the secret of praise, and counting your blessings even when it seems there are none to count. She learned that if you start praising and thanking God, the blessings come......I am counting with Ann today and everyone else in the Gratitude Community, and remembering Corrie.

people who give even at the risk of their own life, people who have inspired me, encouraged me in my faith, some I have known, some I have not, people who have not only shared my burdens, but worn them, people that have stood behind me all my life so that I never had to go through anything alone, God who is faithful, who never asks me to do anything without His strength! 631-638

holy experience

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Best Prayer

A simple offering of love....
A prayer that says, "I love you, God."
Not for anything You have done, but for who You are.

Sometimes those are the best prayers.

Because isn't that sometimes what you want as a parent?
Doesn't it make your whole day, to have them run up.....
in the middle of whatever they were doing before
just to give a breathless, "I love you....."

How does it feel to hear it and know they mean it?
And something changes within the child too.......
Soul of parent and child expand, connect.

A love reunited from ages past and one that will go on
ages from now.....a precious bloom for His eternal collection.

The Holy Spirit smiles......
We warm from inside out.

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy," 1 Peter 1:8

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spring has sprung......NOT!

See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Song of Solomon 2 11-13

Well, not quite yet. The weather report called for a chance of snow in San Francisco last night! About 50 insomniacs gathered in the Twin Peaks area around midnight, but no snow! However, right now it is only 48 degrees in Mesa, Arizona which is highly unusual! I have had my heater on more than I ever have this year. I confess I have enjoyed it. It has felt a bit more like winter.

I remember growing up in the farmland and orchards of the San Joaquin valley of California; I used to love it when all the cherries and almonds would blossom. After months of fog, rain and dampness, the sun would shine forth in brilliance and infuse people with false hope. Everyone would go out and start working in their yards, looking for rakes and garden tools long buried under Novembers mulchy leaves. We would glory in it, our faces upturned toward the sun......

Mom and I would go downtown to JC Penney and shop for my Easter dress, matching patent leather shoes of course, and the louder the better. Easter Sunday could not come fast enough. We would eagerly watch the weather the week before, hoping and praying for sun. Many times we would wake to ferocious biting winds with enough force to blow a hat clear into the next town, or a cold pelting rain. We would dash from the car to the church, fighting vociferously with inside out umbrellas. All the blossoms would be blown off the fruit trees.

Every now and again it would happen though.....we would get that perfect day.

For now though, I am enjoying the nice change. I am sorry for all of you dealing with more snow and ice and all the problems that brings, but when our summer starts and I walk outside at 5:00 AM and it is already oppressively hot, I will remember this wonderful winter!

I know that Spring will come, and on its heels the beginning of a long hot Summer, but that is as it should be. Even that will bring it's own rewards. The seasons are God's way of reassuring us that life does go on. It is reliable, this marking of time, this rhythm.

God's rhythm. And it is very good.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years......Genesis 1:14

photos taken from

Friday, February 25, 2011

Waiting for the Fog to Lift

He sat there alone in his island of grief.
I could feel it from where I sat, I recognized it, remembering.
Just what is it we're afraid of when someone is grieving?
That if we are too close we will catch it?

"Go over there" the Holy Spirit whispered.
I waited all day, awkward as I passed his desk each time.
Do I really want to go back there,
To that dark place I knew long ago?

"I don't even know him," I argued.
"But you know it" God said.
Yes, I do know it, I walked that path long ago.
And making contact, saying I understand, is a bit of going back to that grief.
That dark place.

I waited all day, and then tentatively, having to cross the room anyway,
I walked by his desk.
Said I was sorry for his loss,
Stuttered and stammered a bit.

I said the only words that really matter at a time like that.
"I lost a spouse too."
And as I looked into his eyes I saw it.
Saw what I felt all those years ago.

Recognized it, felt it.
I pray that He recognized the same grief in my eyes.
That he knew that I knew.
More important than words.

We touched souls.

There is a consolation in going through terrible things once we have reached the other side. That we may help others find the way back though the fog. I remember so well, those first few weeks back at work. I was almost superhuman, but at the same time, moving through a pea soup fog, that made moving extremely difficult. Everything was labored. Life was going on all around me, but it was all outside. I was locked inside.

We may feel ineffective, like we don't have the words. Many times we don't. So don't say anything. Just sit there a moment with your arm around them. Maybe shed a tear with them. Just don't leave them alone. I can't express how much the kind actions of others meant to me at that time. Yes, there were the stupid comments, the thoughtless comments. But all these years later, it is the kindness that emerges, that still at times moves me deeply.

The fog did lift. It always does.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3,4

This picture was taken by Andrew Schmidt at I have always loved fog except for the danger of it. I was raised in the fog of San Joaquin county. It would come in so thick you couldn't see the house across the street. I loved the way it surrounded everything, swallowed everything up. I liked the closeness of it. I never forget that on an extremely foggy day, I had the most incredible spiritual touch from God that I have ever had. That experience has never left me. However, the fog did get depressing at times, and it is extremely scary to drive in it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Great Mystery

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us." Acts 17:24-26

Our lives will never be complete until we are reunited with our Father who created us. God has not hidden Himself, it is really rather easy to see Him every single day. When you listen to a child pray you hear how easy it is for them to speak freely without inhibition. They will pray about everything from a sick pet, to something that happened on the playground. When do we lose that?

The truth is, God is very close to us all and it is very easy to see Him every day.

When our heart is receptive....
When our minds dare to hope for what seems impossible.  Jesus said, "If? There are no 'ifs' among believers. Anything can happen." Mark 9:23 The Message

To me it is one of the great mysteries. How two people can hear the gospel message and one accepts, while the other rejects.

What would make my as yet unbelieving sister in law listen to a song called "Give Me Jesus," a song I barely understood the words to as sung by Jessye Norman, filled with inflection and operatic overtones. What would make her understand and respond to every single word......and in her shaky hand, her body weak from cancer and chemo write the name of the artist and song title down?

And what would make my very liberal sister in law, also accept an invitation to a play one night, a play about Heaven and Hell, something I thought she would never attend? We were all surprised, and even more so when she walked down the aisle at the end to say "Yes" to Jesus.
Yes to Heaven, where she resides now.
Somebody prays, someone is sent, somebody preaches, somebody listens and responds....... Yes, it is a great mystery!

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" Romans 10:14

Sometimes we preach with actions, sometimes with words, and hopefully always with lots of love behind them both....
What about you? What made you decide to follow Jesus?
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Look to the animals.......

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10

In my devotional today I read of the remarkable characteristics of the bombadier beetle. This African insect shoots two common materials, hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone from two storage tanks in it's back. Apart, these substances are harmless, but together they are lethal. One shot of this toxic blend blinds the predator of this insect. A special nozzle inside the beetle mixes the chemicals, enabling it to bombard its foe at amazing speeds.

When I think of the creatures that surround me in this desert, I am equally amazed. I took the above shot on a morning walk. This female dove sitting on her nest, totally protected by the thorns on this Saquaro cactus. She stared at me from her safe vantage point as to rest in the knowledge of her protection....

I am totally convinced that if a person really studies just one aspect of creation, one aspect of our own bodies, we would throw away all thoughts of evolution forever. Instead this theory, this lie, is taught as fact in just about every classroom. How does this happen? It takes much more faith to believe in evolution than God in my opinion. The evidence of a loving Creator is overwhelming to me when I study nature.

I remember being taught evolution back in the sixties but I didn't pay much attention to it, I chose to believe what I was taught in church and the Bible, and my parents. To me it made much more sense.

What do you think? Is belief in evolution compatible with Scripture? I know some Christians believe that God used evolution as His method of creation. Does it matter how it came about anyway?

Information on the bombadier beetle was supplied by Dave Egner, Our Daily Bread devotional
koala photo from Google images

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

True Freedom

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23

The latest addition to my video library includes a concert given by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir inside Angola Prison. I knew about the prison but I had no idea what has been going on there for the past 15 or so years that Burl Cain became warden. What an eye opener! Come to find out there are scads of articles all over the net about this and how everyone is amazed at how the whole atmosphere of this prison, at one time one of the bloodiest and most violent prisons in existence. It used to be called "the Hole," and "The Alcatraz of the South," but now approximately 1,600 of the 5,000 inmates are born again Christians.

This prison has a very dark past that began before the Civil War. It is a place of no second chances and 85 percent of these prisoners will die within it's walls. And yet......Everything started to change with the arrival of Burl Cain. He allowed Prison Fellowship to come in, and church groups to hold Bible studies. It now has 3 Chapels and a 200 student Bible college. They intentionally built the church steeples higher than the guard towers. They also have a Christian radio station on site.

Most moving to me were the testimonies of these prisoners, many of them as young as 18 when they entered. They know they may be in for life, but now they have hope for the first time because they have met the only one who can make anyone truly free, Jesus Christ. No longer hopeless, you can now see the light of Christ behind their eyes.

Everything they had was stripped away, including their freedom. It was there that Jesus met them. Really, that is how we all must meet Him isn't it?

When you get to the point where you realize we can do nothing to save ourselves, and nothing we do on our own is good enough, that is where He comes in. It is there He meets us. The tragedy is, some out here in the land of what we call freedom will never find Him because they are too busy chasing everything this world has to offer......

Because of their new life in Christ, these prisoners can taste true freedom for the first time, and they are sharing it with everyone who will listen! Burl Cain says: "When these guys step into church, they have a small island of freedom, because this is no longer prison, it is church." That just about says it all.

We are all being rehabilitated really aren't we? They are being rehabilitated for the outside world, and we are all being rehabilitated to live in Heaven someday. That is what this life is all about, getting us ready for the next!

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me." Philippians 1:3-7

Church at Angola Prison
Photos from Google

Monday, February 21, 2011

Modern Day Miracles

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ," Ephesians 3:16-18

I have been extremely grateful, ever since I got back from my trip back home.......I got the chance to see again what miracles God is doing in the lives of people. At times, it leaves me speechless, and at those times I just breath a prayer of thanks and gratitude. Endless gratitude. God is performing miracles in the lives of people, yes indeed, and I got to see Him again at work in those I know and those I don't.

I have heard about two families brought back together from impossible places, a family who was torn apart by addiction, both homeless and scattered across the far reaches of a place I can't even imagine. Children who weren't sure where their next meal was coming from or where they would stay the night....I think of the agonizing nights and days spent praying for these people, these children. Lives on the brink of ruin, close to death, living out destruction. They were prayed for by so many people, for so long. Everything was done for them that could be. But in a situation like that, there is only so much that can be done.....and then our prayers landed them in a mission. That mission gave them a roof over their heads, some food, the husband a job and the Good News of Jesus Christ. We kept praying that it would "stick."

The wife came back, got sober and clean, and so did the husband! They have now been baptized into the family of best friend got to attend church with them, her Nephew and his family, when she was there. They recently got their 2  year certificate of sobriety.....To hear of this miracle from her, to know that 6 kids are now safe and doing well, against all the odds. That is something only God could do.

Yet another friend has also been released from the prison of addiction, one we didn't even know about until recently, a friend from long ago. She is now clean and sober, part of the family of God reunited with her daughter. She is now working with other recovering women, her life a testimony of praise!

Two impossible situations, two families brought from death to life.......No, my friends, I do not need to see anyone walk on water to believe. I see change, real and permanent, and lasting. The power of the Living God at work......

The list goes on:

Changed lives around me
Our answered prayers
The tears of gratitude
The grace that was extended
A real apology resulting in changed actions.....not just words.
Courage to rise from the ashes of bad choices
Faith to believe it is real
The knowledge that it is real
Joy that comes from seeing the heart-changer at work
A testimony of changed lives in all of us.....#631-641

Endless gratitude today, celebrate it with me, Ann and so many others......

holy experience

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Just stoppin in.......

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27

Today I stopped in. I decided to touch bases with everyone who follows. I confess that it has been too long since I have done this.....I came to your porch and knocked softly. I confess I wanted to steal a peek in your window, your porch looked so inviting. With most, I made my presence known with a comment and an encouraging word. It was good to see you again. To get a glimpse into your corner, your world. And I was touched.

I saw and felt, love, sorrow, joy, humor...with some pain sprinkled in. I breathed prayers over you, your families....did you feel it? When I read your posts, I tried to envision your porch as I stood there. I listened for sounds within.....I heard children playing, life happening, cereal spilling, dogs barking, doors slamming, cars starting up and pulling into the driveway.

I heard laughter, and saw someone bend down to pet a cat that had wound itself around a pair of ankles. I heard pages turning, furniture creaking, floors groaning, heaters coming on, flaring up after being turned down at night.

Sometimes I heard soft weeping, and that was when I hoped you felt my prayers wrap around you.......Sometimes I heard anger and that was when I hoped my prayers made somebody stop, think.....say "I am sorry, will you forgive me?" Because life really is too short to get mad over silly little things.

I saw you smile, and then I smiled too!

Thank you for fellow bloggers and also those that have none but are reading along with me. Thank you for letting me into your world, and allowing you to see into mine.

Be blessed today, and tell your loved ones how much they mean to you!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galations 6:9,10

photo from flicker and

Friday, February 18, 2011

Settling into His will

Be on your guard [constantly alert], and watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come. Mark 13:33

If you have ever missed a plane or a train, you know how disappointing it feels. Commuter trains are especially fast. In the two minutes it took to buy the paper I just had to have, the train left me in the dust.

Ever feel like there is some big definitive thing God wants you to do and you either haven't figured it out yet or He hasn't informed you what it is? If you grew up in church like me, you probably heard that "God has a plan for your life" a hundred or so times. Well, He does have a plan. He wants you to know Him and He wants you to walk hand in hand with Him for rest of your life, all the way into eternity. End of story.

Once we have done that, He will lead us in the other big decisions of life......."in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:6

We don't have to feel that God's plan is on a train and we just missed it. His timing is perfect and as long as I am praying and seeking His will, I can rest in the fact that He will lead me in the right direction. God is extremely creative! If I miss an opportunity, He will supply another one. He is extremely patient. He doesn't hold His plan above our heads waiting to see if we can figure it out, it is all mapped out perfectly in His Word!

The challenge is resting confidently in His will as we begin to live it out.  These promises are ours to help us on the way.......

"This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go." Isaiah 48:17

"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps." Proverbs 16:9

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." Psalm 32:8

photo from google images

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Phantom Christian

"So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me." Romans 7:21-23

Bob George introduces a concept in his book, "Classic Christianity", that intrigued me, and I immediately recognized what he describes as the Phantom Christian syndrome. It is that image we all have in our head of the person we think God expects us to be. What we expect ourselves to be. You know the one.....the one that never fails to get up early for morning devotions, is at church every time the doors open, volunteers their time sacrificially every weekend, leads Bible studies, never blows up, excels at work and has everyone in rapt attention by their wonderfully interesting devotions around the table at dinner.

The way he describes it is really quite ridiculous, and he means it to be. Do we really think God will love us more if we do all these things? Sometimes I confess I do. I even do it with blogging. Sometimes I think you will love me more if I can just manage to capture those perfect and illustrious posts that I see in my head. The ones that always come out clear and evoke beautiful thoughts and emotions. But the truth is, that is not what God wants any of us to do. He just wants me to be the very best me I can be, expressing in my own words the things He wants me to say. Just like you.

Sometimes it helps to know that others are struggling just like we are, especially those we don't expect, like the Apostle Paul. When I was at my Mom's Bible study last week, a lady I greatly admire for her faith and boldness in talking to people about the Lord said that she is a bit upset at the way God not only allowed but actually orchestrated the tragic events in Job's life. I was surprised, and I admit also a bit comforted by her confession.

It all comes full circle back to Christ. He is the only one who can give us the power and the victory to be the person He wants us to be. The one we are becoming. He sees us as we will be.......And He loves us right now where we stand. He sees the million small decisions we make to be better, to not blow up, to pray more, turn our eyes to Him when we see a beautiful full moon, and thank Him.
"The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:56, 57

photo by Jon Luty

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don't miss the moment......

"Just the simple observations of a quiet morning walk can sometimes have the power to set the whole world right"....this was taken out in the back forty of my brother's yard.

Coming home, I realize as always that I have brought them all back with me. I hear their voices still in the quiet moments of reflection. This trip was so good on so many levels. We arrived, my friend and I, on the heels of a storm, a very windy one. We blew good weather in it seems, for the whole week we were there it dawned sunny and bright......unseasonably so. It seems we brought the good weather of Arizona and they were all happy we did. 

The trip all started with a phone call. My Mom told me that my cousin had arranged for a group to attend the performance of  "In the Mood." It started me to often will we all be able to get together like this again, my two Aunts, my cousin, my Mom and I? My friend also needed to see her brother, it was time.

Ever have a trip that seemed God ordained? The timing was right for so many things......This trip was like a string of miracles, one after another. Every now and then a trip works out that way.

How wonderful to be heralded by a little head looking out the window in anticipation of my arrival. She was standing on the bed and as soon as she saw me she started jumping up and down.

My friend went on to Modesto, her home town, where she got to spend two wonderful days on a mostly deserted beach in Moss Landing. From her description, I felt I went there myself. It was a good time for just the two of them, and I prayed that they would get to do that together. Another answered prayer.....

And another miracle, she got to attend church with her Nephew, who has been reunited with his wife, now clean and off drugs....both of them now off the street with their six children, all of them in church and doing remarkably well. To think that so much heartache and pain could lead to this? Only God could do many sleepless nights, so many tears and prayers shed for them. To be able to put all that aside and extend grace to them now, that's Holy Spirit work!

She was also reunited with a friend of long ago, now a Christian too, and clean and sober after many years of addiction. There was much joy in their reunion, sisters now and friends again twenty years down the road....

Even little miracles happened on this trip......I wandered into Tom's Used Books, never hoping to find a book I was looking for, since it was several years old, and there on the shelf was one copy!

I got to attend an event in my Old High School auditorium that has now been turned into a theater. I would go again in a heartbeat, it was great! Afterwards we went to my Aunt's house where she layed out a wonderful buffet, complete with champagne. I know it would have been easy for her not to do it. My Uncle suffers from severe dementia and she is his caretaker now....but still, she created a magical evening for us. It was a precious time spend with wonderful friends and family.

One of the best memories I brought back was when my Mom, my Aunt and I sang at the piano just like we used to for so many years....we sang the old hymns together as my cousin held the flashlight, (My Uncle has broken all the lightbulbs)

All my life I have been surrounded by strong people who in spite of much hardship, have never lost the miracle of the moment. They have taught me how to slow down enough to see the magic happening all around us, all of the time......What a gift! How blessed I am to have learned that lesson from them.

photos taken with iphone

Friday, February 11, 2011

Loved and Accepted.....

Love becomes practically meaningless apart from acceptance.......Bob George, "Classic Christianity"

I recently picked up a book that someone had left at my Mom's house. In it the author poses a question to his son, who had recently been going through some difficult situations. His son was quick to tell him that he had never doubted his father's love for him, expressed in many different ways over the years. Though this pleased the father very much, he says he felt like there was something unfinished. He says that God put the thought in his head to ask the question, "Have you always known that I accept you?"  His son asked him what he meant by that. His father said this:

"I mean, there is a difference between love and acceptance. You say you're confident that I love you, but acceptance is something else. Do you know for example, that I accept you just like you are? That I really like you?"

The son goes on to say that, no, he really didn't felt accepted even though he knew he was loved. He went on to say that he felt that his Dad would have liked him to be more spiritual, be more involved in Christian activities like he was, read his Bible more, or maybe went into full-time Christian work. This one exchange had the power to change their relationship forever.

How many times do we do the same thing to God. We feel loved by Him but do we feel accepted? I had to answer honestly that many times I do not. I have this unrealistic picture in my head of all the things I feel God wants me to do, and all I can seem to see is how many times I fail. How many times I don't measure up to what I think God wants me to be, to do?

But the truth is, God accepts us and loves us just as we are. This should release a well-spring of joy inside us that people should be able to readily see. Until we really get that, we are a lamp partially dimmed, throwing out half light upon a world that needs full strength. So many times we walk around with an unrealistic picture in our own head that we will never be able to measure up to.

Walk through that door today, and feel His ocean of acceptance........He has lived a perfect life, the one we never could live. He died and rose again so that we could walk in newness of life. We don't have to try to be perfect anymore.

He does want us to mature and grow, but never believe for one second that He will only accept you if you reach a certain level and not until then.

Prayer for today: Help me God, to stop giving You my shabby religion and give you my whole accepted self. Amen

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord," plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." Jeremiah 29:11,12

I heard trains last night.....I am presently in Barstow, California, the stopping point for this particular journey.....along with my very best friend at the wheel of what I call "the Bus" a 32 foot motor home. We are enroute, she to her brother and his family and myself to my parents house. We have made this trip many times, and there is always a new experience no matter how many times you have been down the same road.

We saw a semi-truck on its side yesterday, there were some high winds, but not terribly high. He may have fallen asleep and lost control....we whispered a prayer as we drove by. Our precious cargo includes "the garden." We didn't want to leave it home for the neighbors to watch, since my green-thumbed friend wants to take full responsibility. They are her babies now. Every sprout is encouraged, and exclaimed over. Now I know a little about how a farmer feels.

We passed the state-line without a hitch. I had forgotten all about the rules about bring plants over.....I can just imagine the headlines....."Two Church going Christian women caught, accused of bringing marijuana over the border! I could hear us now trying to explain that it is our future garden, consisting only of Okra, marigolds, radishes and spinach, but no pot.....Oh my!

The little green charges are currently on the dash recieving their morning dose of sunlight. Soon she will be bent over them with a water dropper for their watering and "encouragement."

We think our neighbor may be a Vietnam Vet, judging by the various bumper stickers which are plastered all over the back of his vehicle. He just walked by and looks like he may be related to Charles Manson's brother....Never a dull moment. One of the bumper stickers says, "Breast inspection 20 miles ahead, please have them out." Forgive me for that, but sometimes you have to be plunked right down in the middle of humanity like Jesus was. If we make it out of here without an incident we will be very happy. You never know what you might see in a KOA park.

What a blessing this trip....already. Everyone needs someone in their life that they can travel with so companionably. Nothing is a problem and everything is an adventure and a potential source of laughter......

This morning we read from the Bible and shared thoughts on Ephesians 6......we forge ahead today, each one of us reaching our destinations. In our hands, our hearts, we bring encouragement and blessings and love to our families who are all going through their own trials and hardships. And of course, they will do the same for us.....

Hopefully tomorrow I can post pictures of the "garden."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Enough will never be enough

Since I am on the road today, I selected a post from the archives, enjoy!

Wish I had written this....

We thirst for something far greater than this world can satisfy. So we are always disappointed. Always. But disappointment is itself a gift. Disappointment drives our search for life. We go from one false promise to another, gobbling up things and people in great gulps only to find them go tasteless too soon. And that is the secret of contentment.

It’s when we discover that enough will never be enough that we can finally stop kicking and scratching our way through life, put it all down, and let God be the point of the compass for us. Then we are ready to link arms with the rest of the human race as partners in the great enterprise of life. Then we realize not only the insufficiency of the other on whom we have put the burden of our emotional satisfaction, but of ourselves as well. Because neither we nor they are God, we can finally be gentle with one another.

From Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir by Joan Chittister (Sheed & Ward, 2004).

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Augustine

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Our first love.......

"Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first." Revelation 2:4

I pray for America today......because I believe she, like the Church in Ephesus has forsaken her first love. This is my country, and I love it, but I fear for it. I think of her birth and how she started out, as a light to other nations, as a gateway to hopes and dreams, but most of all a place that honors God as our Creator and Sustainer. Our forefathers knew where our blessings came from, and it seems we have forgotten.

How could we have fallen this far? How have we become a nation that refuses to shelter and protect the most vulnerable of its citizens, our unborn? We simply do not have that right, no matter how many laws we put on the books.....

How could we even presume to think we can without conscience and consequence take God's creation, soul already completely formed, and remove it from it's safest place?

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. Psalm 139:13

This is not a condemnation of any mother's desperate act, but a nation that has turned away from the value of life, all life. I understand it happens, and I understand the circumstances it takes to get there.
I pray for all who are in that hopeless place today, and I pray that if the decision is made to give life instead of take it, that there will be those waiting on the other side, with open arms of love......

Yet there is hope for our nation, I pray. On January 23rd, 40,000 peaceful pro-lifters from all across the United States marched in the downtown San Francisco Walk for Life.......It barely got a mention in the paper, and they didn't quote how many were there, 10,000 more than last year. Yes, there is always hope!

"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18

For a first-hand look at the Walk for Life march go to You Tube and type in Walk for Life 2011 San Francisco, as I watched it, my spirit was uplifted as I saw all those towns represented that I know so well, Modesto, (where I will be headed tomorrow) Sacramento......all whose streets I have walked, including San Francisco where my brother and sister in law lived for years.......My prayers go out to all the people there, who don't know God yet and also the ones who do. I pray this march will have a positive impact and lives will be changed.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Heavenly Thoughts

However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"--1 Corinthians 2:9

I think there will be snow in Heaven but no cold.......I am looking forward to that.

I also think that everything will be brought back as it was at first....every animal that is now extinct, and that our eyes will be open to a whole new range of light including colors we could never imagine....

Walking through walls will be way cool, just like Jesus could after He was resurrected, and being to just appear somewhere instead of walking for miles....

Never having to say goodbye again....

No death, no sadness, no bad days, no traffic, no sickness.......I could go on and on.

Like the best gathering you could ever imagine, kind of like when you plan a dinner and everyone just clicks, everyone gets along, everybody laughs and nobody wants to leave and God is there too!

Being able to walk around with lions and tigers the way I do my cats now.......

It will be like the perfect job with the perfect boss and the best co-workers with the most satisfying and productive day's work you can imagine, only it won't feel like work.

No time constraints, no schedules, no aging......everything will be effortless.

No one will have to worry about someone not doing their share.

Experiencing the absolute best of myself, my friends and my family.....we will finally be the people God wanted us to be all along.

Everyone will have a home and nothing will have to die for us to eat it. Sorry, no ribs in Heaven, that was after the fall.......

No exercise, no treadmill, no weight gain.

At last everyone will be in unity, worshiping God in Spirit and truth.........exactly the way He deserves......

No sin....forever

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." Philippians 3:20.21 

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Failure to Communicate

"What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach, so you get what we had here last week which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. And I don't like it any more than you men." From the movie Cool Hand Luke

This week I had something interesting happen. It was a crazy day at work on Thursday. In the computer chip making business sometimes you have to be really creative and go to the next level. We had a defective chip go out so it was an "all hands on deck" kind of day. It was a twelve hour day with a small break in between. Right in the middle of it, a couple of engineering interns came in. They were new and someone had sent them in with questions. It was clear they had an agenda from somewhere else. I tried the nice approach. I tried to explain that it would be in their best interest and mine if they came back another day. They weren't hearing me.

The phone was ringing, I was up to my ears in requests, and they still would not leave.......I kept thinking of the line from that movie. Finally, I appealed to the system that we all go by and said, "All engineering requests must go through my OM, so just shoot her an email and we will go from there."

They finally left, but it was a frustrating experience for both of us. Was I not clear? Were they not? What could I have said differently? With any communication breakdown, we tend to evaluate ourselves. I do, anyway. A situation like that becomes a good opportunity to evaluate yourself and the situation; see if you could have done or said something differently. Try to see things from their perspective.

I did that. Then I prayed about it. I don't like it when I feel like someone leaves unhappy. I feel like things are somehow unfinished. When I got to work today I asked my OM about it. She said, yes, they did in fact send her an email. She verified what I was thinking inside, they had no clue what they were asking of me. It was nice to get confirmation.  As usual I worried needlessly.

I got another thought this morning on the way to work. It used to be that certain things were just understood to be wrong, no argument. Now it seems that whoever has the best story wins. It used to be if someone was caught red-handed in a crime they were guilty. Now, if they can convince a lawyer to argue their case effectively, they get off. In politics it is the same way. Whoever can present the best case, tell the best story, make the most polished speech wins. Character is something that is becoming increasingly irrelevant in our society.

In God's world it is never irrelevant and I am glad.

Draw comfort from this today. If you ever feel like you are not being heard clearly remember Jesus felt the same way.

"Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread?" Matthew 16:8-11

Thursday, February 3, 2011

God is in Control

This is a repost from 2009, with all that is happening in the world right now, it seemed like the timing was right to post it again.....

 Image by Todd Haven
Psalm 8:3-9

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

Ever have one of those nights? You know the kind, tossing and turning, riddled with worry. All your problems seem magnified and beyond solving, it seems hope is snatched away with the light of day. You feel almost like you are going insane. I have them every now and Dad has them often, he tells me. The other night he was restless, worried about things. He almost woke my Mom just to have her sit with him awhile......

He started praying and meditating and God gave him a picture in his mind of the earth and how it looks from space. Part of us seeming to go about our business on the top of the ball, some on the bottom, yet we are all walking around on flat ground.

He thought of this strange dance of the planets, and how if the sun was a fraction closer to earth we would be vaporized in flame, or too far and we would be frozen faster than we could blink. But it all keeps going; perfectly set in motion by God. Soon he found himself enveloped in a peaceful sleep, sleep that had so eluded him before.

Contrary to popular thought, we will not destroy the planet. God will not let us. He put everything in motion and He will be the one who decides when to stop it.

So next time you are having one of those nights, go outside. Gaze up at the moon, focus on the depth of space, the infinity of the stars, the deep silence that speaks of God. He is there, and He is holding it all together and will continue to do so until He decides it's time to start again.....

Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. Isaiah 65:17

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jonah's Timeout

Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed: "In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me.From the belly of the grave I cried, 'Help!' You heard my cry. Jonah 2: 1,2 The Message

Jonah had a tough assignment. This was no job for sissies. It wasn't just a tough sales presentation where every word and action will be judged, critiqued, and torn-apart.....or the boss telling you to fire an employee when you know they need the job desperately. This was God telling Jonah to go to a very strong and prosperous nation, also a nation that was notoriously cruel and bloodthirsty. This was a people that would put hooks in the noses of their captives and lead them off to slavery. They were also a huge threat to Israel.

Jonah responded immediate by running the other way, as fast as he could. So would I.

Just imagine if God asked you to go preach on a street corner in Iraq!

One of my favorite poets, Robert Frost said this about the book of Jonah: "After Jonah, you could never trust God not to be merciful again."

Jonah had an idea that the Ninevites would repent. He knew His was a God of mercy. But forgiveness is hard, and God knew that Jonah had some issues inside himself that he had to deal with. Jonah was actually not running from God but from himself. Ever run away, only to find that the issues you were running away from followed you?

God gave Jonah a timeout so He could really hear was God was trying to say. God had to take him to a place of desperation, darkness. All the way into the belly of a great fish. Sometimes God has to take us somewhere unpleasant, sometimes flat on our back, so that we can really hear what He is trying to say to us.

After three days Jonah came to a place of understanding:

"You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit." 3-6

Sometimes we need God to take us into the whale belly so we can remember who He is........"Then the word came to Jonah a second time", and this time he obeyed. After he preached to them the Ninevites believed God and the whole city declared a fast and called on the Lord. Here are the King's own words:

"Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

God spared that great city.....Read Chapter 4 and you will see a beautiful picture of the great compassion of God and how He desperately wants people to turn to Him so that they can receive His forgiveness and love........I love the discourse between God and Jonah after Jonah gets mad when the people repent.

Prayer: God, help me to learn from my "timeouts." To remember that you love me, but you also love others and wish to show your compassion and love to everyone. Help me to remember who You are, and learn obedience when you call on me to show Your compassion and love to others, remembering that it is not up to me to decide who is worthy and who is not. Amen