Sunday, December 27, 2020
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
1. My precious grandson. Beckham Arthur is a long-awaited blessing. Becoming a grandma, a nana is sweeter than I’d imagined. He fills my thoughts and my heart with joy.
2. Prayer. Access to the Almighty. The fact that the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf when we do not know how to pray is stunningly precious to me. I cannot chat with my governor or my president, but I can bend the ear of the Almighty who rules overall. He cares deeply about what we bring to Him, and I can scarcely fathom it.
3. God’s Word. A treasure trove of hope. A powerful weapon against the enemy of our souls. I’ve read it more this year than ever, but it’s still not enough. The Bible is a gift from God—a precious guide for the journey of this life.
4. My husband. My guy who loves to travel and be out-and-about has been stuck at home with me most of the year. I’ve rather enjoyed the time alone with him. We’ve found new ways to get away and a new rhythm. I’m so thankful for how hard he works for us every day.
5. My kids. All five of ‘em. The pride I feel when I think of each of my kids is overwhelming. They’re smart, kind, funny, and I love them all immensely. Every moment I’m blessed to spend with them is a joy and privilege.
6. Fellowship. In a world where human interaction is considered risky, fellowship is in short supply. For those who need it (me), it’s been a joy to gather in divine appointments—encouraging others, being encouraged, easing the burden of fear and isolation.
7. Freedom. It’s something we take for granted until it’s threatened or lost. We lost a lot of freedom this year. I am more grateful than ever for the freedoms I’ve enjoyed all of my life. I pray that freedom will continue for my children and grandchildren.
8. My best friend. I haven’t seen her for almost a year, but she has been an ever-present friend—a perspective-giver—a non-judgmental reader of rants. And she needs me back, which is just as important as her being there for me. Love you, Lora.
9. Friends. It’s been a rough friend year. I haven’t seen so many of them for ages. Others get together often. I’m thankful for all of my friends, most especially those who pray. Lifting you up and being lifted in prayer is such a blessing.
10. The Grace Writers—also friends. I love you, ladies. You are a joy. I appreciate your faith, your stories, your creativity, and your encouragement. It’s been over six years of fun, and I hope we meet for 60 more…(or less).
11. Making do. This spring, the shut-down kept us mostly home. I had to re-learn how to make do. I expanded my cooking repertoire and redecorated my house almost solely with spray paint. It was actually fun, and oh, so creative. I strive to continue that mindset.
12. Truth. Not my truth or your truth, THE truth. I appreciate constructive conversation and debate where the desired end is truth, no matter who is right or wrong. I honestly don’t mind being proven wrong when the truth is discovered like a hidden treasure.
13. My home. I’ve been stuck in it more this year than I ever have, and I am thankful. Before 2020, its deficiencies annoyed me more often. This year, I appreciate every nook and cranny. It’s been a haven—a safe, clean place to invite others to fellowship.
14. Travel. I did travel a bit this year—flying only to visit my precious grandbaby and kids. I canceled more trips than I took, but I am thankful for the times we got away and explored the world a bit closer to home. I’ll never take for granted the blessing of travel.
15. Boldness. It wasn’t until my 40s that I allowed myself to be bold. A circumstance called for it, and boldness came forth. 2020 called forth more boldness from me, and I find I’m hungry for it in others. I want a decisive boldness. It’s time. It’s out there, and I am constantly seeking it.
16. Vintage photos. I love the peek into the past, the stories they bear, the humor, and even a profound truth. Back in the day, people only took photos of things they cherished, memories, places, people. Now we photograph every moment, missing them in the process. Old photos speak volumes. I try to listen.
17. Time. I don’t know how much I have. No one does. But in a year when we were pummeled by the fear of death, the preciousness of time has come to the fore. I’m not afraid of death, but I do fear squandering the time I have. Since we never know the length of our days, Lord, help me use them for Your glory!
18. Health. I was waiting in line at the pharmacy at Costco. The old, sickly woman in front of me had a loud voice and, when asked, gave her date of birth. She was one month older than me. I was shocked and grateful. Yes, I have the aches and pains of a half-century of life, but I’m thankful for the health I have, aches and all.
19. The Church. I used to think I went to church...this year, I’ve learned what it means to be the church. I’ve scarcely stepped foot inside a church building, but the church is more important than ever. I used to be the donut lady, I miss that, but now I see how important it is to be the church to people who need people. To provide fellowship, to encourage, to keep in touch when you can’t actually touch.
20. Treasure hunts. We spent a lot of time at the beach this year. We discovered the joy of hunting for agates. They’re beautiful, mysterious, colorful, and sometimes hard to find. The joy of searching is almost as fun as the finding. That’s true of so much in life…the ultimate treasure hunt. May we never stop seeking the good in every year…especially the challenging ones.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
When I was a little girl, I liked to go to my friend’s houses, but I loved my home.
The excitement of a new place wore off quickly, and I was left with a pit in my stomach.
I was homesick.
Homesickness is that empty ache that only stepping through your familiar front door can assuage.
I feel that ache now, in my living room, fire in the fireplace, rain pattering on my window.
I look outside to the windy world, and rather than feel secure in my warm house,
I am anxious.
The storm is angry. Rain pummels the roof. Trees bend in the gales.
A branch flies through the air.
It’s dangerous out there.
My gaze recedes to my reflection.
I see worry as water pounds the glass.
On my face, a familiar, persistent, empty ache.
I’m in my home, safe and sound.
Are you? He asks.
Are you home?
It’s not the storm that makes me anxious.
Our world is changing.
Lord, our world is changing.
I know, child.
Then I recognize that pit in my stomach.
It’s not the angst of my world spinning out of control, as I think it is.
I’ve clung too tightly to this place.
I associated heaven with death, not home.
Suddenly I remember,
This is not my home.
Home is where my father is and where my Father is.
Home is a place prepared especially for me.
When I was a little girl, heart longing for home,
A kind grown-up would let me call my mother.
We’d talk, and I’d feel a bit better.
“Make the most of your time with your friend,” she’d say.
“You’ll be home soon.”
My Father in Heaven says the same thing.
Your journey isn’t finished, dear child.
Share your gifts until I bring you home.
I remember the feeling of crossing the threshold of my home after a long weekend at camp or a sleepover at a friend's house.
I had fun with my friends,
But there was joy in returning home.
I feel it as an adult too.
I cherish visits with my children and now my grandson,
And journeys to new places.
But the satisfaction of dropping my bags on my floor, in my house,
And the comfort of breathing in the familiar scent,
tearing off my coat and plopping onto the sofa--well, there's nothing like it.
What will it feel like to cross the threshold of my eternal Home?
It's a thought too wonderful to imagine.
My citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).
For now, the ache will persist,
But the promise of Home is comfort.
Lord, help me to embrace the ache.
Use my gifts for Your glory all the days of my life,
Until I’m finally Home.
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
It took me a while to jump onto Facebook.
I wasn't completely sold on the whole social media thing.
But when I finally did, about five years after all of my friends, I found the connection to people I'd lost touch with over the years was a great thing. But I fell into all the typical social media nonsense. The frequent posting, the collection of fake friends, the updating of my goings-on. Why?
It took a few years to begin to see the drawbacks.
I deactivated my account and haven't looked back.
I don't miss it one little bit.
Here's why I left:
1. It's a time-waster.
I didn't spend hours and hours at a time on Facebook. I spent pockets of time scurrying down rabbit holes--time I should have spent on other things. I wasted time doing absolutely nothing with no reward whatsoever. If I could get that time back over all the years I was a Facebook user, who knows what I could accomplish!
2. It's toxic.
The relative anonymity of Facebook is fraught with the license to insult, malign, and judge. I found myself typing hurried reactions to news stories...and for what? I deleted almost as many comments. Did I really think my comment could change an opinion? It's a silly release of frustration that amounts to nothing. I was a courteous commenter...other comments I read were utterly malicious and truly horrid. We're all entitled to our opinions, but I realized I don't need to type them for strangers.
3. Friends are not friends.
Not at all. I realized that I am not a person who needs hundreds of friends and Facebook really brought that home for me. Friend is not just a word for me. If you're my friend, I really care about you. I was uncomfortable having hundreds of "friends" who really didn't know me from a stranger on the street. It was disingenuous. The number of friends one had on Facebook seemed to be a badge of honor and I just didn't buy that.
4. It's informative...and not in a good way.
I love my friends, but I don't want to know every detail of their lives. For some, Facebook is a "person to talk to"...it is assumed that everyone will want to know an exorbitant amount of daily information. Yes, I unfollowed them, but even that doesn't stop all the chatter. It was exhausting. When 2020 ramped up it became even more tiring. I was convicted that my opinions are different from some of my friends. I didn't want to risk the real relationships by posting controversy. It's just not worth it.
5. It's fake.
It is a rare person who posts photos of their failures, their struggles, or their flaws. And when they do, it's typically for a reaction of some sort. Why? Those are things real friends know all about. The fake culture of "my life is so perfect" is a source of despair for some with anxiety and depression. Teens are especially influenced in a harmful way by all the fake perfection. I just couldn't be a part of that anymore.
Did I care about likes? Honestly, yes. No one admits that, but there it is. There was a time when I was bummed if I had a low amount of likes for something I posted. (ugh) In the last year or two, that need waned. I realized it was a shallow search for approval. It doesn't matter what people think of what I post. It doesn't. Best realization ever. What matters is real relationships. What matters is what God thinks of my social media behavior. What God thinks of everything I do in my day.
I watched a movie recently (after I left Facebook). It's called "The Social Dilemma." It was quite an eye-opener. I encourage you to watch it if you are a Facebook user...any social media user, actually. It really confirmed my conviction that I do not belong on Facebook. The misinformation and the manipulation of information Facebook feeds you, is shocking. I do my own research now...I seek to understand and inform myself rather than trust social media to do so.
Are there good things about Facebook? Sure. But I think it's important to weigh the good with the harmful--to examine how our life is influenced and how our use of social media influences others, for good and for harm.
As believers, we must consider how we're using our time and talent within social media to point others to the Gospel. Facebook was an effective platform for my writing, but I felt such a strong tug of the Lord to leave, I know He will provide another way. He doesn't need Facebook, and neither do I.
I left Facebook a couple of months ago. My biggest concern was the loss of connection with old friends, people I didn't want to lose touch with. I found that I haven't lost touch with anyone. Those real friends are readily within reach via text or email, and since I simply deactivated my account, I can still reach people on Messenger. I will eventually delete it, my messenger activity is less and less. Another concern was all the photos and some messages I didn't want to lose. You can download everything in a file. Easy peasy!
I can honestly say that I am utterly relieved to be free of Facebook. I'm not trying to convince anyone to leave, but if you're on the fence about leaving, I encourage you to take the leap into freedom.
Free is the best word to describe how I feel.
*I still use Instagram...very sparingly. It's easier for me to scroll past photos. Instagram also tells me when I'm all caught up so the rabbit hole syndrome is solved. I changed all of my settings to make my profile private, but I connect to other writers there, and that's been a positive benefit. For now, I'll stay there but who knows what the future holds.
Thursday, September 3, 2020
Monday, August 24, 2020
The transformation is complete.
I knew I was about to be transformed, but I thought it would happen with intention and awareness.
Ever since I found out I would be a grandma, I knew my heart was turning to mush.
I anticipated the feelings of overwhelming love.
I thought the transformation would happen when I held my grandchild.
It didn’t take that long…
I sat at outdoor church with my friend, her baby, and three-year-old.
I held the baby and watched her daughter play.
Her daughter found a pile of that soft, cool dirt that feels so nice on your feet.
She’d taken her shoes off and was running her toes through that wonderful dirt.
I encouraged her, “Is it soft? Doesn’t dirt feel good on your feet?”
Her mother wasn’t happy.
I was a little surprised when her parents whisked her away to clean her feet and hands.
I wasn’t surprised they’d do that, but it didn’t occur to me in the moment.
Then she was back in the dirt again, and I smiled, then caught myself.
What am I doing?
They just cleaned her up!
It was at that moment, I realized.
The transformation is complete.
There is nothing a little one can do that isn’t adorable.
They’re precious - especially when they’re covered in dirt when they shouldn’t be.
I didn’t mind.
I’m not mom.
It was a little taste of grandma-life—a spectacular freedom—undeterred by time or decorum or rules imposed by parentals.
The house my kids grew up in, fraught with rules and schedules, and “no,” is now grandma’s house.
The land of “Yes.”
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Sunday, August 9, 2020
Many years ago, something strange occurred in my neighborhood.
A minivan parked on my street and a woman sat in the weeds, staring into the field.
I noticed her as I took the kids to the bus stop.
She waved back and continued staring.
She was still there when I came home that afternoon.
The next day another lady parked her car on the street, sat in the weeds, and stared into the field. Curiosity overwhelmed me.
“Excuse me,” I ventured. “What are you doing?” As the words left my lips, they seemed a little abrupt, but I live in a small neighborhood in the country. It isn’t everyday strangers park their car on my street and sit outside in the rain and weeds, staring into a field.
“I’m trying to rescue that dog,” she whispered, pointing.
I hadn’t noticed the dog.
In the middle of the field, a filthy mutt stood alone—his ears and nose raised as he peered above the tall grass.
My kneejerk reaction was to climb through the barbed-wire fence and collect the dog so the lady could get on with her life. Two different women had spent two days waiting for the mutt to . As a busy mom of three teenagers, I couldn’t imagine spending day sitting in the weeds watching a dog, much less two.
Instead, I asked, “Is it your dog?”
“No.” The woman’s eyes didn’t leave the field.
“Whose dog is it?”
“We don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“The dog is timid and won’t allow anyone near. My friend rescues dogs, and we’re trying to gain his trust so we can give him a home.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love dogs. But this seemed a little over-the-top as dog rescues go.
The two women spent sitting by the side of the road, staring into the field, waiting. I didn’t bother them—they didn’t to be bothered. Their sole purpose was earning the trust of the dog. They had food, treats, and water. Sometimes I watched them from an upstairs window. The dog inched right next to them, eating from a dish of food. I saw them touch the dog and stroke his back. But even while they had hands on him, they didn’t force him into the car.
Honestly, I honored their patience but questioned their sanity. Who in their right mind would spend literally every hour of daylight for weeks on end to pursue a stray dog? Eventually, they all disappeared. I assumed the women succeeded.
I’d forgotten about the women and the dog until recently. They came to mind, and I chuckled about the seeming silliness of it. Then I heard a whisper…
God offered His take on the situation.
“You know, that’s what I do too.”
My inner chuckling abruptly stopped. I pondered what He meant. God sits in the weeds and waits for us?
Aaaah…yes, He does.
God waits for us to accept His gifts of love, grace, and forgiveness. He is kind. He does not grab us against our will. He is gentle and patient—offering exactly what we need, adoption into His family.
God loves us—he doesn’t leave any of us alone in the field of our unbelief. He wants everyone to have the choice to come to Him—to be rescued—or not. He waits in the weeds, the rain, the wind, in the stench of our filth, guilt, and shame. Do you see Him? Do you hear Him calling your name?
About a week later, the dog reappeared in the field and the ladies to the side of the road. This time, they disappeared after a couple of days. Perhaps the dog was testing them. Do you really want me? Are you really who you say you are? Do you really care about my life? The ladies’ persistence proved their love.
God’s Word says, thankfully, it doesn’t end there.
God proved His love when He sent His Son to die on a cross. He took the penalty for our sin, and all of our shame onto Himself.
On Easter morning, He conquered death and rose from the grave.
Jesus offers us the gift of eternal life. All we have to do is accept it.
We aren’t so different from that dog—we’ve all been a little lost, dirty, hungry, and skeptical. We all need to be rescued. This Easter, as we celebrate mostly alone, know that you are alone. God is reaching His hand to you. The weeds may be tall, but we only have the length of our one precious life to trust Him. Will you?
May you grasp how
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