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I am no Levite, although my desire is to live a life set aside for holiness . Almost any action can be sacred when done with a heart of...

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Opening my heart to be filled with something new…

I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons this hard year taught me, and what learning I will take into the year to come. Among them are this-we manufacture our stress, and can choose not to; we are instructed in 2 Corinthians to be glad, complete, and at peace. I’m taking that advice.

I feel my body tensing when I take on more than I should; doing so is disobedient, willful, and does not glorify God, so I’m opening my heart to something new; it’s a new #3WordPrayer, “Open my heart.”


Thursday, December 25, 2014

and old message, but one never out of date. Merry Christmas



I originally wrote this two years ago to encourage myself at a hard time. All the times are hard, but we are not now, nor have we ever been alone. No matter where you are in your life, or your current circumstances, God is still good, He still loves you desperately, and the Son always rises.
Let this be my last word, brothers; be glad; be complete; be comforted; be of the same mind; be at peace with one another; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11 (BBE)

With all we’ve been through as a family, I felt certain that Christmas was a wrap; I just wasn’t buying in to all the hype. I generally don’t; we have always celebrated Christmas with Christ first, making gifts for family and friends, spending modestly and thoughtfully, setting an example for our children that the world’s commercialism will not taint our observation of the mystery and the miracle of the season. I had to admit, though, something was missing. I just hadn’t caught fire.

I was listening to Christmas music today while cooking dinner, and the words of one of my favorite Christmas melodies stopped be cold; I’ve loved it for years, but the lyric ministered to me in an entirely new way.

a cry arising out of brokenness,
"
Hold me together, Be forever near me…
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For You are holy."
I have traveled many moonless nights,
Cold and weary with a babe inside,
And I wonder what I've done.
Holy father you have come,

And chosen me now to carry your son.

My burden was certainly not the Savior of the World, but I have often wondered silently ,and sometimes not so, why my family had to endure the trial of My Beloved’s illness. I did wonder what we’d done. My comfort came, however, in appreciating that the brokenness I experiences during this trial brought me closer to God and while it is not a path to His Throne I would have selected for myself, I am grateful to be here.

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load i bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.

Be with me now.

Nights in the hospital watching him sleep, finally. Nights away from our children and our home, often at their request, so I could “take care of daddy.” I was never alone, but in the stillness of the midnight, it felt that way. It was always only the Breath of Heaven holding me together.  

Breath of heaven
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But i offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.

Breath of heaven.

I now begin to understand why we had to endure this trial; why I needed to be brought to this place; why this was my path. Why I had to be broken, again. Why I will break over, and over, and over again, and be glad in the breaking, as it is in that moment that this is my story, this is the lesson I will work on for now: Brokenness is that very point at which I meet God. AGAIN. DIFFERENTLY. God breaks something new in me, and I'm thankful. Because though I am broken, He did not build me to break beyond His restoring Grace. And He never meant for us to go it alone.

That is when I understood the Breath of Heaven. It is a desperate plea for connection. It is a cry arising out of brokenness-Hold me together, Be forever near me…Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness, For you are holy.

That was my Christmas miracle-the arrival of the spirit that humbles me and gives me joy, a hope and the understanding that during the times of my greatest fear, He breathed on me, lighting my darkness, drawing high, healing.

I am ready to welcome Immanuel. I am ready to face a New Year. I am prepared to tackle my biggest fears and accomplish my God-sized dream, knowing that what I think it might be is probably too small a concept for God and that as long as He breathes on my brokenness, I will succeed.

Merry Christmas



Breath of Heaven by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant






Sunday, December 21, 2014

Stay low....

I'm writing over at 5 Minutes for Faith again today, and I'm talking career and parenting advice straight from the Baby in the Manger. Crazy? Well, maybe, but that's me, and that's God in my life. Join me?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Trying to remember my before in order to appreciate how sweet this after is...(a recent FB status…)


According to Wikipedia,
The biblical commandments concerning the Passover (and the Feast of Unleavened Bread) stress the importance of remembering:
·         And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt; and thou shalt observe and do these statutes" (Deuteronomy 16:12).
·         Exodus 12:14 commands, in reference to God's sparing of the firstborn from the Tenth Plague: And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.
·         Exodus 13:3 repeats the command to remember: Remember this day, in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength the hand of the LORD brought you out from this place.
I observe a newly-righted relationship with God.
 Surrendered. Subject. Grateful.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS

If God treats you well by teaching you a disastrous lesson, you never forget it. 
~Ray Bradbury

It is my personal celebration of the Passover. I chose to be deliberate about remembering Before, my season in the wilderness, numerous failed attempts to surrender, my journey from breaking to broken, and finally the moment of my absolute despair, the acknowledgement that God would either end my season or give me fortitude to bear it with Grace, or possibly, just maybe, the form of His Blessing for this time in my life might be Passover, if only that I would remember to sing the songs, remember to offer the prayers, to continually tell the story in order that I might fully appreciate how sweet my after could be.

I celebrate my Passover. I observe a newly-righted relationship with God, surrendered, subject, Grateful. At the point of my despair, I believed that testimonies I heard shared would never be mine; not that I wouldn’t live with an enduring faith, but that I might never get to proclaim how He brought me over. Humbly, I accepted that it would never be for me. I was wrong.

I celebrate my Passover, and it does not come but once a year. Celebrating Passover is now my daily worship. I commit to living a life of gratitude in thanks for the blessing I feared might never come. And the blessing? It’s neither a thing, nor a place. It is an appreciation of my present joy. It is the practice of declaring God’s goodness, and trusting that in Him I am many things, but never abandoned, never without hope, never beyond Joy.

From a traditional Passover prayer, these are the words I carry within me…

Lord, thank You for the trials You brought me through. I pledge never to forget. For myself, for us all, may it be Your Will to redeem us from all trouble and servitude. Next year at this season may we all be free. 
Selah and Amen



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Healing had already been delivered

So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.  And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”
Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.
John 4:46-53 (NKJV)

Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend midweek worship with a dear friend.  She’s always bragging about the refreshment it provides; we’d been looking for an opportunity to fellowship together outside our regular connections; I needed a good infilling.  I’m not as quiet yet as I’ll grow to be, or perhaps I’d have recognized that Wednesday was positioning me to watch God’s Hand move in a way I could clearly observe and share as testimony, but I’ll get there, with His Grace.  For something that didn’t even happen until the next day, God’s Healing had already been delivered. 
original image found here
At midweek worship, the sermon was “Can You Stretch Out Your Faith.” When Jesus was approached by the Roman official to heal his son, His first response was “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” The official didn’t give up. When he pressed in, Jesus revealed, “Go your way; your son lives.” The desperate father hadn’t even left Jesus’ presence when he heard that Healing had already been delivered. 

Wednesday morning, before I ever made it to worship, I spoke to two friends.  My Gayle wasn’t having a good day.  Not knowing what to say, I encouraged her, twice, to press in and not give up.  I don’t know why I did, but because I am desperately seeking to stay hidden in Grace, that’s what came out.  Within the hour, a second friend called sharing her challenges, and before I ever got it out, she said “I’m just pressing in, knowing it will be alright.” This friend is one who always prays for me, keeps me straight, and laughs me through God’s lessons….this is the former colleague with whom I’d exchange text messages in the office to arrange prayer meetings when things really got rough….when she speaks, I listen. 

When I realized that the preacher was saying press in to get your blessing; challenging us to stretch out our faith in order to be touched and changed by Grace, I still didn’t know… Healing (for Thursday, for a challenge I didn’t even know I’d have) had already been delivered.

Teenagers will make you crazy (that’s neither the revelation nor the healing).  Mine does, as much as I love her.  I wanted to be completely frustrated with her Thursday because,
a) she woke up cranky and evil,
b) she stayed that way and inflicted it upon the rest of us (I crave peaceful mornings…)
c) was so disorganized AND self absorbed that my day risked being devoted to her indulgences AND solving her problems.

In so doing, I was on my way BACK to school to deliver a change of clothes for an afterschool event AND lunch money, because in her desire to be rid of me rushing out of the car during morning drop off we’d both forgotten off track. 

Calming myself, I drove home.  I wasn’t quite back to CHILL, but well on my way.  I found clothes, packed them with a loving note AND money for lunch, checked the time to ensure I’d get back to her on time, and set off.  Imagine my surprise when, upon walking into the school office to deliver the package to my precious girl (I’d found CHILL), there she sat with tears in her eyes. My girl, who’d never been to the principal’s office for a disciplinary matter, sat outside the guidance office awaiting a conversation about a noisy exchange that got them dispatched from class.  She was most upset that the other student slipped away in order to call her own mother for back-up.  My baby felt outnumbered; outmaneuvered; wronged.  This might have been the enemy’s plan, but Healing had already been delivered.

Soon as our eyes met, she began crying again.  As I soothed by baby girl, I told her not to worry.  I told her that no matter what had occurred, at the moment she needed mommy, I was already being delivered. That’s God.

The matter was amicably resolved without consequences.  The lesson, however, lingers.  Healing (in the form of an arriving mommy just where and when my baby needed me), was on its way in the same manner that Jesus delivered healing to the official’s son. God moved my heart (from frustration to meeting needs) at the moment my baby was going to need me by her side.  I’m not as quiet yet as I’ll grow to be, but I was sufficiently yielded and still to be and do as necessary to accomplish His Plan.


Thank You, Lord, for yielded and still.  Thank You for answering Sunday’s prayer, “I am patient.  I am still.  I am yielded.  I am quiet.  I am quieted by the anticipation that I might be used and useful. Thank You for displaying to me and to my child, that God is Good.



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sowing…

This is my season to reap what I have sown
CLICK TO TWEET SOME ENCOURAGEMENT
I describe the last few hard years of my life as my wilderness wanderings. The saddest part of my confession? Accepting that the wilderness might be where I would live out the remainder of my days…I was wrong. I had it wrong. I do not believe that to be God’s Will for my life. The moment I confessed that the blessings I saw so many enjoying simply weren’t my lot MAY have been the moment I found myself in the depths of my despair…#ButGod. I didn’t even know what to call what I was experiencing at the time-suffice it to say that it was painful. It was discouraging. It was hard. The faith I had was enough to get me there, to lead me to the threshold of this hard place. What I didn’t know, what I hadn’t realized was that I needed a deeper, broader, far more surrendered faith to see the way out. I needed a deeper, broader, fully surrendered faith to see that the wilderness was never the point, nor had it been my location for that time. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I do not look for lost things…(and it’s a lesson I am teaching my children)

Okay, I’m certain that statement makes me sound a little crazy, but trust me, it’s a personal object lesson in Faith. I am inclined to get agitated by the little things, e.g., misplaced keys, lost documents, items I just had my hands on. Oddly enough, the bigger things I am adept at managing. Trust me, when disaster rolls in, I’m your go-to girl. But it’s the little things, conversations I anticipate will be difficult, silly things that manage to get under my skin, waiting for information beyond my control, until I decided to get a handle on them, those lost things would have been my undoing. 

...want to know the rest of the story? I'm over at 5 Minutes for Faith today, explaining how learning not to freak out about losing things helped me understand this Word...

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)



Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Three-Word Prayer (what is yours?)

I have battled numerous storms mightily over the past few years…losing my career, struggling to find my identity (because like so many of my generation I defined myself by what I did BEFORE by who I was AND to Whom I belonged), a medical diagnosis that changed our family forever, growing up, growing older, finding my place. I am reminded of a book I studied in college less for its subject matter but more for the profoundness of its title…if I was going to theme this phase of my evolution, I would entitle it When and Where I Enter.

when all I can manage is to focus on is the next hour,
I quickly eliminate EVERYTHING non-essential
and live with only what I need,
including my three-word prayer.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ENCOURAGEMENT

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What Back Spasms WILL teach you about Grace

I could be more faithful. I know now that it is time for me to go deeper, because my proffer of surrender and the worship I currently render is no longer enough. It does not fill me. I desire more. I continue to be plagued by a capacity conundrum. Simply put, I don’t stop when I should. I don’t quickly enough release my feeble hold on things beyond my control. I so admire people in my life who embody the Peace that passes all understanding, but that’s just not me yet.

This is my struggle; when God blesses you with ability, there is a natural breaking point at which you should surrender. My failure is hubris. It is an expression of prideful humanity, and it costs me every time.  I need to lean on God. From the beginning. Not at my point of weariness, or when I’m struggling just to stand. Let me tell you what back spasms WILL teach you about Grace.

Author Lysa TerKeust’s words across a Facebook page stunned me into hopeful stillness.
What will back spasms teach you about Grace?
Everything you need to know.
Hopefully, one lesson is enough.
TWEET THIS ENCOURAGEMENT
I've found each time I start to get stressed and anxious, if I pause and start whispering, "Jesus, help me," my pulse slows and I can think more rationally. Our souls were designed to recognize and respond to the name of Jesus.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Godspeed-how fast is that?? (inspired by a Sunday sermon)

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This [is] the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21(KJV)

Q-What is the speed at which God moves?
A-Godspeed
my musings

                  
Are you patient? I’m not.  Do you appreciate voice-response telephone systems? I despise them.  Are you good at waiting in line? Me?? Fuggetaboutit…Are you ever impatient with God??   

God is always there; God is never not present. 
And when you draw near, you hear His whispers.
Click to Tweet this encouragement

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Don’t give up yet…

For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth   
 and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God,   
whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within me.   
 "But should ye say
, `Why persecute we him?--seeing the root of the matter is found in me.
 Job 19:25-28 (KJV21)

What's the worst that can happen? If it doesn't do well I can put on my big girl panties, deal with it and move on.
Halle Berry



I did not have a great weekend.  It devolved in agonizing sequence, like a car crashing in slow motion; crumbling, like maybe a building demolition film run at half speed, first a single brick, and then all of a sudden, CRASH! For those in the know, I will say this…church meeting, fallen pizza, microwave (if you don’t know, you’ll never know).

      Here is today’s lesson…don’t give up, yet.

By Sunday afternoon, I was pretty discouraged, including that I’d committed to dancing and choreographing a new liturgical dance work in about a week, including some people I’ve never worked with…a sane person would crawl in bed and vow not to come out until spring thaw.  I have never been described as sane.

Somehow (read by God’s Grace), I made it through.  I always do, but I never know I’m going make it through my storms until the clouds begin to clear.  The lesson, which I seem to need to learn about once a month, is not to give up.  Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse…they might, but that’s no reason to abandon your faith. 

Job had it worse than I ever will.  I simply do not believe it is God’s Will that I suffer similar trials.  Therein lay a place to begin my praise.  Job offers a lesson few are

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Today I'm over at 5 Minutes for Faith....

I'm not a mom of pre-schoolers, not a member of the MOB society. Nobody writes about where I am, so I decided to record the tales of a Mid-Life Mama. Please join me here?
Mid-Life Mama

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Not even possible without Grace…

We are grieving the loss of a very dear friend, and for our family it’s a new kind of pain. It is the first personal loss for our children. They’ve never lost anyone they knew intimately and loved deeply. It feels like we’re all trying to breathe deeply through hot water.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit
Psalms 34:18 (NIV)
I am clinging to the words of this Psalm right now, knowing that as mama I tend to my children first and bank my own hurt for later. I have walked this tear-stained path; they have not.

What I know is that this walk is not possible without Grace. If I didn’t have faith I wouldn’t have anything to lean against right now.

Precious Lord, take my hand 
lead me on, let me stand'
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn,,,
I am also clear that while dad and mom care for the children, daddy’s looking after mama. Each evening when I am weary, he spreads wide the arms into which I sag and sob. I’ve said it before praising God as I declare, “that man really knows how to love me.”  And I am not easy.


So, if you would take a moment, kindly join us in prayer for the grieving family of my brilliant friend, beautiful, bright, and remarkable in the way she made everything special. I thank God for the gift she is my life. Always. When I think of her, I will not say “was.” She is. Always. Forever. I will not say “was.” EVER.



Saturday, July 19, 2014

When you know better…

Do everything readily and cheerfullyno bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so Ill have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. Youll be living proof that I didnt go to all this work for nothing.
Philippians 2:12-14 (MSG)



I excel in the art of quiet but biting sarcasm. I yell less now than I have in the past, but I am not yet delivered of my inclination to let my family know when they’ve really ticked me off.  Slyly. Acidic. It’s a ugly habit and I need it gone. When you know better, you do better. I know better. (Note-I wrote this a while ago, but God led me back to it again. I needed to relearn the lesson.)

Grace measured in degrees. 
Center your actions and thoughts on pursuing Christ. 
Know Better. 
Do Better.
After not doing things well one morning, despite deliberate intentions to the contrary, conviction and encouragement came courtesy of a lesson on Philippians 2 on the radio. (Direct hit) I do not believe I am a bad person. Neither were the members of the fellowship at Philippi. From Believersweb.org. we have this overview of a small but earnest fellowship,

Philippians is the epistle of joy and encouragement in the midst of adverse circumstances. Paul freely expresses his fond affection for the Philippians, appreciates their consistent testimony and support, and lovingly urges them to center their actions and thoughts on the pursuit of the power of Christ. 

Focus. This is Grace measured in degrees. Centering your actions and thoughts on pursuing Christ. When you know better, you do better. I am taking Paul’s words absolutely seriously…

                “Do everything readily and cheerfully.”

You know when you’re being ugly. Nobody needs to make you feel any worse about it.  And neither do you need to spread the ugly when things go awry, when people do careless things, ridiculous things and your saltiness hurts, healing nothing.  If it's already a struggle, you certainly don't need the addition of sharp words from me (or anyone). Each time I open my mouth I have an opportunity to bless or curse, and I choose badly, more often than I care to admit. My takeaway, particularly after a reread of Philippians 2, is to not mutter (or think) anything I may regret, or that may cause harm and do no good. Paul’s admonition continues…

“Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.” 

If I am living authentically, shouldn’t my life make the case for Christianity? There’s enough crap out there. Live different.

“Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the Living God.”

If you’re not in worship, not writing, not teaching, not “doing” Christian, there should still be something peculiar about you. Let’s be caught in the act of doing God’s Will. Always.

“Carry the light-giving Message…”

I’m letting my little light shine. On my children. In my home. When I open my mouth. When I don’t. 

I am grateful for Grace measured in degrees. I am thankful for knowing better. Thank God for the Word that guides me; encouraging me. Today, I'm giving myself Grace, to develop the habit that I might extend it liberally to others. Because they deserve it (we all do). Because I should.

We know better. Do better. Do Grace, because where would you be without it?


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Crooked lines…(join me at God-Sized Dreams)


If the path between us and the achievement of our dreams was a straight line, would we consistently be faithful? I wonder, but I’m not optimistic. With a clear, wide, and open path to my dream, I might be inclined to believe I could do it all by myself. In achieving my God-Sized Dreams, I need to rely upon Faith....

Want more? I'm over at God-Sized Dreams with my sisters today, talking about faith, patience, and acknowledging that we can all be a little crazy. Join us


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Find a soft word (or else)…

 A soft answer turns away wrath,
      but a harsh word stirs up anger. 
Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV)


Why are we so mean?? How often do you say or do something only because you feel provoked? According to Dr. Monica A. Frank, Clinical and Sport Psychologist,

"...most people are mean due to some flaw in themselves or distortion in their thinking. Usually, unless you have done something significant, it is not about you." So what would happen if we tried something different?

It’s time for a moult.  I’m shedding a skin, ready to be a little different than I was before.  I don’t want to be so mean.  I don’t like how it sounds coming out of me, I don’t like how it feels coming at me.  I’m finding soft words.

As the mother of two teen-agers, a woman of a certain age, married more than 21 years, I know harsh words and the ruin left in their wake.  I’ve tried a number of analogies, e.g., nails in a piece of wood and the scars they leave, pin pricks in a balloon unseen but no less damaging, I try to model the right behavior, but I’m not always good at living the lesson.  It’s time for a moult, I’m going to choose to find soft words, or else.

Just this morning, Pinky and the Brain (one of my many nicknames for my beautiful babies) were sniping at each other in the car.  I’d just read Proverbs 15:1, and decided to practice what I intended to preach.  We talked about it, I had Pinky read the NIV translation, just to be clear, and we talked about what that might look like.  I’m challenging myself to find the soft words, or the quiet, not just today but long enough for it to become a habit.

I don’t like the harsh sound of my own voice, and if I don’t like being on the receiving end of unkindness, I certainly should not dish it out.  I don’t deserve to be treated that way, and if I don’t, why should anybody else?

A dear friend signs every email with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “be the change you want to see in the world.” I’m taking her, and his advice.  I’m finding soft words.  It’s easy to pick a fight.  It’s harder to choose not to…you see, you always have a choice.

I choose Grace.  I choose soft words.  Reading further into Proverbs 15 (Proverbs 15:13 NKJV) I find the payoff, not that I really needed it.  You see, “a merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. “ Had I to meet my judgment now, I'd choose cheery countenances.  Do you want to explain a string of broken spirits? Go right ahead.


I’m choosing Grace, and am thankful for the choice.  I’m thankful that no matter my circumstances, I am blessed with an abundance of good things to choose.  That abundance is my reminder that God is Good. 



OneWord 2015

OneWord 2015

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