Monday, December 20, 2010

Got the Holiday Blues?

It happens to the best of us this time of year. Yesterday, Pastor Rob shared a beautiful message on letting go of our expectations of perfection and approaching this Christmas season with a sense of expectancy. What is God up to? What is He doing?

I was reminded of one of my favorite passages: I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 NASB

The psalmist says "I would have despaired". I think this is humanity's default setting, with high expectations and past disappointments swinging the scales of our mind. Down and Up. Up and Down. Despair.

Thank God for that 6 letter word "unless". This is the kind of word that turns things around : However, But, Nevertheless. "Unless I had believed." Faith tips the scale.

The psalmist continues "....that I would see the goodness of the LORD" What would it look like for the goodness of the LORD to invade your world this December? I think, just like that first Christmas, it could be rather unexpected. Who thought the Messiah, the new King, would be born in a sheep shed? Who thought that angels would announce his arrival to the marginalized, blue-collar shepherd-type? My Christmas prayer is that we have eyes to see the unexpected arrival of his goodness in our lives this holiday season.

The older I get the more I cling to the hope of heaven, that someday of reunion, joy and resolution. But the psalmist does not cast all of his hope on heaven. He believes to see - TODAY- "in the land of the living."

So when you feel despair dragging your Christmas down, no condemnation! It's just time to reset that default. Pour a little faith onto the scale. Remember the good news of great joy was for ALL people, which includes YOU! I believe you will see his goodness TODAY!

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. Psalm 62:5 NLT

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Two Are Better Than One

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiasties 4:9-10

Verse 9 is such a great word about companionship. Two are better than one when there is work to be done. Take - for example - dish duty. For one person, it's a tedious task. But for two (or more), it gets done so fast. The kitchen is clean in no time! I hate dishes left in the sink, but I so do not want to do them alone! I will walk right by and wait for an opportunity to recruit a "dryer" to go with my "washer" or an "unloader" to go with my "loader". I think this is because I grew up washing dishes after every meal. My mom didn't have one of those fancy dishwashing machines...she had three able-bodied children for that job! We rotated positions: washer, rinser, dryer and had lots of fun making beards out of AJAX bubbles. Three were certainly better than one.

Verse 10 takes companionship to a whole 'nother level! If one falls down, his friend can help him up. Things get messy when we fall. People get banged up, bruised and scraped. Wounds need careful washing and tender attention. That takes time. So, are you a friend I can count on when I fall? Will you look at me in my mess and judge me? Will you let me lay there all pitiful lookin' with no one to help me up? Or.....are you a friend who sticks closer than a brother? Will you take the time to cry with me for a while? Then help me up, brush off the dirt, get out the anti-biotic cream and tell me it's gonna be OK?

You find out who your friends are when you fall.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Treasure in a Pot - Shoreline Women's Blog

Paul wrote in Corinthians "We have this treasure in jars of clay..."

People in the early church would have understood that metaphor in a way we don't. So, I came up with a new metaphor for 2010. We have a beautiful treasure, good news of great joy - God's glory on display in our common everyday lives.... Click here to read more at the Shoreline Women's Blog.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Orion The Hunter

Guess who I saw in the sky tonight? My hero, Orion, the Hunter! I love this time of year because Orion's belt is straight ahead as I drive down the road into our neighborhood in the evening. I don't know much about astronomy but I'm pretty sure if you live anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere you will find Orion in your eastern/southeastern winter sky.

Three stars in a neat little row form Orion's belt, one of the most recognizable asterisms in the winter sky. If you can find them, it is easy to imagine the hunter's shoulders and knees extending outward from the belt. To see how the hunter takes shape, click here.

I call Orion my hero because frankly, he is one of the only constellations that I can find, and it just makes me feel smart to be able to name him. I also love the familiar feeling of the season. I know that winter is coming when "the hunter" greets me on my way home from church on a Wednesday night. Stars and seasons, a fascinating thing God set in motion in the beginning. "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." Gen 1:14-15

Did you know that my friend, the hunter, is even mentioned by name in the Bible? "Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens?" Job 38:31-32 That was the voice of God questioning Job.

We don't look to the sky anymore to judge the seasons, we just flip our calendars. Sometimes we don't even notice those lights up there. Go outside tonight and just look up. People have been looking at those same stars and calling them by name for thousands of years. That makes me feel so small, but I don't mind because it also reminds me that my God is very, very BIG. (Click to Tweet)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Does Your Christmas Fit?

I recently wrote an article for our Shoreline Enewsletter called Does Your Christmas Fit?

Have you ever received a gift that didn't fit? Maybe a sweater that was too small. You could get it on, but you couldn't breath. Maybe a jacket that was too big and it swallowed you whole, like Jonah in the whale. I realized a couple years ago that Christmas as usual didn't fit. It was uncomfortable and something needed to change........ Click here and scroll down to read the whole article.

A wrote a similar piece for the November issue of Austin Faith and Family, a local community magazine. You can pick one up at the Shoreline Coffee Shop, Randalls, HEB and other locations around town. Click here to read the online version. There are three dots under the magazine, click the middle dot and look for pages 32-33. The article is titled Presents with a Purpose, it is a black page with white text. You can click on the page to zoom in, and it is easier to read.

If you have time to read both...please vote in the comments which piece you prefer. I'm curious!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I love a squeaky clean little boy fresh out of the tub! It's been a while since my boys took baths...OK, it's been a while since they were little. Even still...they smell so good when they get out of the shower. I just have to hug 'em and I remember.

I remember washing them off with a hose in the backyard after they played in the mud and telling them that not all mommies would let their boys play in the mud! I hope they remember that I let them get dirty. I remember all the nights I sat by the tub while they played in the water. I remember when bubble bath was a regular item on the grocery list. Now the only bubble bath in the house is mine.

Sometimes selfishness and pride stick to me like mud. I grasp impatiently at the things I want for myself and junk gets under my nails. I need a good long soak to loose up all that crud. I think about Jesus washing dirty, smelly disciple feet and I know that our crud is not too much for him. Listen to this exchange between Jesus and Peter: He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet? ......No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean....." John 13:6-10

And we are clean. Washed in the cleansing blood of Jesus. Oh precious is the flow, that makes us white as snow! At dinner Jesus washed the disciples feet, that night he washed us all....completely.....CLEAN.

Receive his forgiveness! Soak in his grace are clean!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Life Changing Conference - Shine

Shine 2010 is just around the corner! I am expecting great things! Shine conference is always a significant moment in my year. I can't help but wonder what God is going speak into my life and in the lives of his girls this coming weekend.

I will never forget Shine 2004, because I so did not want to go! There was a princess theme, and I felt nothing like a princess. My happily ever after seemed so far out of reach and I didn't feel the least bit shine-y! God reached down and called me to the conference with this verse: Psalm 18:28 For You cause my lamp to be lighted and to shine; the Lord my God illumines my darkness. (AMP) I knew I didn't have to make myself shine...God would shine His light in my darkness. I went to the conference and it was life-changing.

Each session featured an amazing drama sketch with our Little Princess, her princess entourage, and the man in the mirror. In nearly every sketch the princesses faced some sort of challenge, and dear Sleeping Beauty would just keel over. She laid there motionless for the rest of the scene. We all laughed. The skits were hysterical, with cleverly written dialogue. Something happened over the course of the weekend as I saw Sleeping Beauty faint over and over and over again. I saw myself. Circumstances in my life got to be too much for me and I wilted. I fainted. I chose to respond by NOT responding. I watched Sleeping Beauty lay there and I knew it was time for me to wake up. It was time to Rise Up. Courage was planted in my heart that weekend to face the giants in my life. It was a turning point on my journey.

Maybe, I am the only girl who noticed Sleeping Beauty and heard that wake up call. Isn't that one of the most amazing things about the Holy Spirit? He can take one message, one song, one skit and speak a thousand different things to each set of ears. God give me THOSE ears to hear what you want to say to me in 2010.

I believe God has a message for his daughters! Join us at Shine Nov 4-6 and keep your eyes and ears open!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For However You Are

For however you are....whether life is quiet or fast pace...God has a word for you:

Being Still - Be still, and know that I am God.... Psalm 46

Sitting - Martha had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said...Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.... Luke 10

Standing - Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.... Ephesians 6

Walking - Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.... Matthew 11

Running - Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us....Hebrews 12

Soaring - But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.... Isaiah 40

Is God challenging you to sit and listen? Is He giving you the strength to stand? Or has He invited you to soar? Where do you see yourself in this season of your life?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Not Your Ordinary Newlywed Advice

Wanted to share my latest guest contribution at Created Woman:

Maybe I was na├»ve, or maybe I was just incredibly idealistic but the hardest lesson to learn as a young bride was that life is not like the movies. I’m stepping out on a limb here but I don’t think I am the only girl who cried in her pillow at night when the honeymoon was over. Looking back after almost 20 years of marriage, I’ve learned a lot – a lot that you might not normally read in one of those 2 pound bridal magazines. So here are my top three tips for new here to read more at

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hungry for Righteousness

Something happens to me when I get an opportunity to speak or share or after I post a new blog...I get really hungry! No, it's not the munchies, I wish. The truth is, I click back and refresh and check my email and wait like a dog with my tongue hanging out for comments and feedback. I hunger for it.

I've been asking God to curb this appetite for words of affirmation from others, to stop this hunger in my soul - and this verse came to my heart:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

I think Jesus said this because he knows we get hungry. He doesn't blast the hunger, he directs it. We take our hunger to those around us. We hunger and thirst for approval, to be right with men. Jesus said blessed are those who hunger and thirst to be right with ME. My appetite for the approval of others will never be satisfied. What happens if I say something stupid that nobody likes? Jesus is the only one who can satisfy my hunger. He said those of you who hunger and thirst to be right with me - will be filled. That's the contentment I'm longing for.

Disclaimer: It wasn't easy to post this blog. Part of me wondered if my readers would ever leave comments again or if they would opt to join God in my character development. Well, you are excused from commenting on this post! God is working in my heart. But your feedback is also helping me grow so don't hold back forever! :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guest Contributor @ Created Woman

I'm proud to be a guest contributor at

Ladies - check out the post Fitness On Demand for my top ten reasons to work out at home with free fitness on demand videos. We watch movies on demand....why not work out on demand? While you are there check out all the amazing features and stories helping you become the woman you were created to be!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Loving Dust

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

I've always loved this verse. It feels like acceptance. God knows how we are formed. He knows our frame. He remembers the dust because his hands have held it. His grace is sufficient for our fragile humanity.

Sometimes I'm really dusty. Sometimes I leave a residue that needs to be Swiffered! Most often that residue can be found on those people I come in closest contact with, and sometimes they leave their dirty, dusty prints on me.
I'll never forget one Sunday morning I was out front on the worship team and after Pastor Laura shared, she turned around to hug me. She whispered in my ear, "There's something on your skirt." Sure enough, I had been slimed that morning a sweet little toddler and his yogurt moustache. Embarrassing! We rub off on people and they rub off on us.
Dust is messy and irritating, but it doesn't keep God from getting close to me. He has compassion for my dusty self. Will I extend that same love and acceptance to the dusty folks around me? Will I love his dusty children? Will you?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lovely Feet

I was getting ready to speak at a women's retreat and feeling a little bit of anxiety. Then some melody, some chord progression, something during the morning worship reminded me of the old chorus: "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of them who bring good news...Our God Reigns." And it settled my heart. I knew in that moment, God was saying that my size 9 1/2 self-pedicured feet were lovely. That the message I had to share that afternoon was Good News! I was announcing peace and proclaiming news of happiness. I was shouting from the mountains that Our God Reigns. That no matter what happens in life - He is able to redeem and restore. There is nothing He cannot heal, no brokenness He cannot restore!

I can spend a lot of time trying on the shoes in my closet, looking for the best match for some new outfit I've put together. I can also spend a lot of time standing in front of the mirror knowing that the options from my closet are not quite right. That really what I need is something I don't have, like a pair of strappy two-tone platform sandals, or camel boots with a rounded toe. I have to remember when I have shoe envy that I may not have the loveliest shoes but I do have lovely feet. I can cover them with socks and tennis shoes and feel pretty good about that!

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Feeling Afraid? Try Making A Sandwich

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid. Psalm 56:3-4
These verses caught me the other day. I thought how funny that David says in verse 3 "When I am afraid" then just a sentence later he says "I will not be afraid." That is a pretty big shift in my mind and it happens in only 15 words. So what takes place between the fear and no fear? I don't know about you but I see a sandwich. Two slices of trust toast and some praise pastrami stacked up in the center. Let's break it down:

1. When I am afraid - Inevitable, right? Fear seems to be a part of life on the planet. David wrote often of his fear. Case in point Psalm 55
2. I will trust in you - This sounds like a conscious decision to me. Like David is saying when fear comes, I have a choice and I choose to trust.
3. In God, whose word I praise - God's word is just the place to take our fear. And in his word we find hope, freedom, peace, and joy. We read that God is faithful. He is strong. He is loving. He never changes. We find all kinds of reasons to praise him and when we praise him, we take our eyes off of our circumstances and look up. Our perspective changes. Light shines in darkness. He is the glory and the lifter of our heads!
4. In God I trust - The decision to trust happens before the praise. After the praise, David affirms in whom his trust THE GOD of the word. THE GOD he just praised. THE GOD who delivers and heals and restores! Our God is trust-worthy!
5. I will not be afraid - We chose to trust, we go to the word, we lift our praise, we affirm the God who is worthy and that is when things change. The fear doesn't change, we change. We are not swept away or captured or paralyzed any longer.

We don't have to give in to fear. We can make a sandwich! Whip up a little Praise on Trust!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fisherman or Poet?

When I was 13 yrs old, I made a personal decision to follow Jesus at a Dale Evans-Rogers concert in the Bismarck, North Dakota Civic Center. I'm not sure who sponsored the concert but they had quite a follow-up in place for 1981! My parents drove me across town for a weekly Bible study on the book of John. I can still remember sitting around the art deco, Formica top table in this couple's kitchen where I fell in love with John's writing. His epistles are full of highlighting in my childhood Bible.

I've decided that John must have been thrilled to get out of the family fishing business when Jesus called him that day on the beach. He was not a fisherman. He was a poet! I wonder if John always knew he was made for more than fishing? Was he out there casting nets on the Sea of Galilee half-heartedly waiting for his "real" purpose? Or was it something that slowly came to light as his life intertwined with the life of Christ?

John wrote these words about his own writings: And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (1 Jn 1:4) I identify with that. I share and write with the hope of bringing joy to those who read what I have to say. But, some translations of the Bible read this way: We write this to make our joy complete. Actually, that word in the Greek is ego - usually translated I, me, or my. And I see that too. It brings me great personal joy to write! When I read comments of how my words have made some sort of impact it brings me even greater joy!

It is interesting to read this verse and wonder why there are different words in different manuscripts. Perhaps some in the early church had a problem thinking that John would write for the selfish reason of his own joy, and decided that surely there was a more noble cause - for the joy of others. Which little word was there first? I'll have to hunt down John the Poet some day in heaven and ask him.

What do you think? If I write out of a noble desire to bring joy to your life do you feel more valued or are you inspired to read more? Would that change knowing I write just because it makes me, myself and I happy? Or think about this, if we serve Jesus because we want to bring joy to others is that preferable to serving Jesus just because it thrills us to serve him? Is personal joy a noble motivation? With that question floating out there, remember - Joy was a motivator for our Savior:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Backyard Birds

I was in my God-spot the other morning, out on the back patio, and a falling feather caught my eye. It flitted down to earth and came to rest on the grass. I looked up and noticed a Grackle sitting on the fence. He was shaking his tail feathers and since I speak bird, I told him "Turn your little tail around and poop on the other side please!" As I watched, I decided he was not pooping at all, he was primping & preening. I wondered if he had any idea what an ugly bird he is. Grackles are everywhere. They are common birds with common feathers. Boring. Well, that's my opinion

I couldn't help but wonder if this silly Grackle has ever caught a glimpse of the gorgeous Great Egrets who like to hang around our neighborhood lake. They are tall, brilliantly white birds. They seem a little skittish, yet so elegant in flight. They are the symbol of the National Audubon Society.

Or perhaps he has noticed the Scissor-tail Flycatchers. It is easy to spot these fabulous creatures as we drive through the area. They are hard to miss with their fantastic tail feather action. They have the distinction of being the state bird of Oklahoma. No one picked the Grackle for their state bird, I checked.

I try to get back to the Bible on my lap, but I can't stop thinking about this bird. I've made my judgement clear. I can be so good at that:

Interesting - Boring
Fantastic - Common
Beautiful - Ugly

Thankfully, the humble Grackle hasn't read my mind. I'm pretty sure he isn't comparing himself to any other birds in the neighborhood. I wonder why, of all God's creatures, we get tripped up on the comparison stone. (Click to Tweet) This Grackle is simply soaking up the morning sun at the top of my privacy fence. It's a peculiar thing, but I just noticed how shinny his feathers are. I don't think I'd seen that before. Maybe I need to do a little more soaking myself.

I've spoken to our tendency to compare HERE.

Special thanks to Birds of Oklahoma's Bill Horn for use of his breath-taking picture of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. What an amazing shot! Thank you Bill!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Filled with Joy!

I can be so damn serious. Pardon the word choice, but it's true. Try as I may, I can't seem to find a more delicate way to put it. Maybe it's birth order. I am the oldest child, and spent a lot of time bossing my siblings around. Maybe it's just my personality. I actually like to read and study. Perhaps this is an aftershock of pain in my life. I wonder if I've always been this way. I can't put my finger on why, but lately I seem even more intense. I am challenged by this verse:

Psalm 16:11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
I wonder, does my life look like that? Filled with joy? With eternal pleasures? Or is it more often categorized by stuffy, stoic tendencies?

Those two Hebrew words for joy & pleasures mean: gladness, mirth, gaiety, pleasant, delightful, sweet, lovely, agreeable, beautiful, singing, sweet sounding, musical, joyful sounds. Doesn't that sound fun? Honestly, I feel that way when I am worshipping. I remember all that God has done for me and I want to jump for joy! And I do!

But....I leak.
I'm not sure how far I carry that joy with me when I leave those times with the Lord.

In his little 91 page book, The Dangerous Duty of Delight, John Piper is daring me to pursue joy. To begin by confessing the sin of joylessness. Whoa! Secondly, to pray that God would restore the joy of doing His will. Thirdly to go ahead and do the outward dimension of this duty, in hope that in the doing I will find delight. (p 31)

So, what would it look like to be filled with joy in the pick up line at school? Jesus help me! What would it feel like to find pleasure in helping kids with homework? I'm so low on patience these days. What can I do in my everyday life to stop being so serious and loosen up a bit? Maybe I'll try Zumba. Is it possible to stop the leak or just vital to keep filling up? What do you think?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Give Them Up

I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.'
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth
Isaiah 43:6 (NIV)

I have not been to the ends of the earth, but I know what it feels like to be at the end of myself. I know what it feels like to be held back.

Hear God saying this to that thing that is holding you:
Give them up and do not hold them back!

Give them up, rejection
Do not hold them back, pain
Give them up, sickness
Do not hold them back, insecurity
Give them up, sleeplessness
Do not hold them back, depression
Give them up, anxiety
Do not hold them back, fear!

Chains, Be Broken!
Release My Sons and Daughters!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wish Upon A Star

Do you make a wish when you see a shooting star? We were sitting out on the patio last week, and I saw three meteors blaze across the sky. The second was glorious. I was at just the right angle and I couldn’t contain myself! I clapped and cheered so loudly that I got shushed. It WAS almost midnight; but seriously, our neighbors are not that close. I can’t imagine I disturbed anyone! It took me a minute to get over my shushing.

Then I realized as amazing and brilliant as that star was, the whole thing was over in the blink of an eye. As hard as it is to grasp at times - that is how my life is in the scope of eternity. (Click to Tweet) The Bible calls it a vapor. I want to shine brightly in this one opportunity I get to live.

I saw three falling stars so that gives me three wishes, right? I’d like to bargain for a few more…..

These are my wishes for any star-gazer who might happen to see my life:

-I hope that they know there is something beyond their day to day existence, there is a great big world, and a great big Creator of it all.
-I hope that they see some of His beauty in me.
-I hope my life points people to God, that He is glorified.
-I hope people can learn from my lessons learned.
-I hope I share the journey well.
-I hope they make their own wishes.
-I hope to inspire ideas, creativity and dreams.
-I hope they don’t compare their own brief moment with any other.
-I hope they know, in the infinite expanse of space and time there is plenty of room for us all to shine.
-I hope that as my light shines, there is less darkness in their world.
-I hope that my life would bring a smile to someone’s face and a little joy to their heart.
-And I hope that if they cheer, no one shushes them!
Special thanks to for use of your spectacular photograph!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


"DON'T TOUCH MY HURT TOE!" I yelled to my husband while we were tubing on the Comal River last week. We were trying to keep our little party together, grabbing fingers, toes and whatever we could find to form a tubing train. I was a little jumpy about my dear toe.

I had tripped on a light saber the week before. I twisted an ankle, banged up my forearm and most likely broke my number two toe thanks to a fearless but rather careless Jedi. Doesn't he know better than to leave his weapons in the middle of the kitchen floor? Our boys had a friend over so they unpacked their arsenal of air soft rifles, swords, Nerf guns and light sabers. My toe is just another casualty of being a mother of sons. Small price to pay for getting to live with all this action!

When my husband came home, I showed him my toe. It was all black and blue and broken-looking. He was sweet and sympathetic, and I was thankful to be bruised. My toe hurt like hell. I was glad it looked just as bad. When you are hurting like that, it's nice to have something to show for it. Proof.

Back on the Comal, David gently held my foot well below that troubled toe and my thoughts floated back to the early years of our marriage. How nice it would have been to be able to show him the bruises on my soul. To be able to point and say, "I'm hurt right here, so please just stay away from this spot." It would have explained every time I jumped when he got too close.

I'm reminded by my husband's tenderness that our Savior is tender toward the broken. He sees all our bruises, even those buried deep inside. Like Isaiah prophesied "A bruised reed he will not break." I am grateful for His compassion and for the gentle way He cares for my soul.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shoreline Women's Blog

I'm excited to share the launch of a Shoreline Women's Blog located at the Shoreline Church website under Women's Ministry. A group of us girls from the church will be contributing and it is sure to encourage and inspire!

You can read the very first post, a re-worked entry I wrote a while back about personal devotions. And you can even subscribe to an RSS feed already!

I'm not sure I'll ever get this spiritual discipline "right". I feel like really good Christians must wake up with the sun to pray and study their Bibles every day. If that is the definition of a really good Christian, then I am not one.

I love my quiet times with the Lord but they seem to happen more randomly: late at night, in the afternoon, in the minivan and yes, even in the morning.

It is good to remember that God does not operate only in the central standard time zone. And that He never sleeps! He is always speaking, and I AM getting better at tuning in throughout my day.

Friday, July 30, 2010

On the Heavens AND Underneath

Deuteronomy 33: 26-27 "There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty.
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms...."

There is no one like our God. Riding on the heavens...and on the clouds. I love those high times, those mountain top experiences. Watching the light dance on blue sapphire waters. Knowing that God is at the center of all the beauty in our world. That he created so much for us to enjoy. He must delight in watching our jaws drop in awe at his design.

But....aren't you grateful for that word "underneath"?
This summer as we sailed across the Gulf of Mexico we watched the cruise channel that reported the winds, our speed and the depth of the water. At one point it read over 12,000 feet deep. 12,000...that's not a typo! And God is there in the depths underneath the surface of the water, underneath the surface of our lives. Down the end of our rope...when life bottoms out....when things get dark....underneath are the everlasting arms. I need those strong arms upholding me today. I am resting in everlasting arms.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Good Heritage

My beautiful grandmother passed away early this morning, just 6 days shy of her 90th birthday. She was ready to go be with Jesus, but still, it's hard to say good bye. This morning I was thinking about her 9 children - my Daddy, my aunts and uncles. I remember how, as a new mom feeling overwhelmed with my colicky son, the thought of my grandmother raising those 9 babies on the farm empowered me. If she could do that, I certainly had what it takes to do this. It is my heritage. I also remembered this morning that she had lost a child at birth and back in those days they didn't allow moms to hold or even see those babies. So, I imagine my Grandma today in heaven, wrapping her arms around the daughter that she never held on earth. Precious.

My most treasured memories are the summer days we spent on the farm - sleeping on my favorite feather pillow, waking up to the smell of sausage, helping Grandma milk the cows, gather eggs and slop the pigs. I remember making lunch for the "men" in the fields, which oddly included my little brother, and playing in the barn, with the wild barn cats hissing and attacking our feet. Grandpa and Grandma always had a terrifying dog named Jack, all of whom undoubtedly suffered from chained-aggression. The dogs came and went but somehow the name stuck. I remember climbing up hay bales with my cousins and begging my aunt to saddle a horse for me to ride. The farm was kid-heaven and Grandma was the center of it all.

I will remember Grandma whenever I smell sausage frying in the morning and in my endless search for an apricot kolache that tastes half as good as hers.

I few months ago I dusted of my scrapbooking skills to share a few thoughts with her:

David and I were reflecting recently on the many blessings of our lives. We have so much to be grateful for, and we know that much of it is good beyond our doing. We know that we have a heritage passed down to us by our parents and our grandparents and we just wanted to take the time to express our grateful hearts to you.

Thank you for honoring the covenant of marriage, for making a pledge that lasts a life time. We know that every marriage has its difficult seasons. For better AND for worse. Thank you for remembering the better, and moving forward through the worse. Your example inspires us in our challenges. Thank you for a legacy of Commitment.

We treasure the times we’ve been able to spend with you and the pictures we have of you holding our sons, pictures of four generations overlapping. We wonder if we will live to see our children’s children’s children as you have. We hope so and we know we are fortunate to have a legacy of Longevity.

Some of my most cherished gifts are the ones made by hand. Our wedding afghan still keeps us warm when we sit on the sofa! I’ve learned the value of creating gifts that speak of relationship, gifts that will be passed down for generations. Thank you for a legacy of Giving.

We will never forget our last visit to Great-grandma and how the boys went on and on about your yummy ham, as if my parents had not fed them the previous week. There was always food to share at your table. I remember sausage for breakfast, your delicious duck and always your trademark kolaches. We enjoy the times we spend around a table with our family and friends. Thank you for a legacy of Shared Meals.

I can remember visiting you on the farm and even though there was always so much to do, we never missed church on Sunday. There was always a prayer of blessing over our meals. These are things that have stayed with us, that we hope to instill in our children. The faith of a farmer who knows when you plant a seed rain will fall, something will grow, and God will provide. Thank you for a legacy of Faith.

Psalm 16:6
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
yes, I have a good heritage.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Voice of Truth

In those moments when panic overtakes you and your world seems scattered what voice do you hear?

An interesting thing happened last Spring at Inks Lake. We were enjoying a canoe ride, peacefully gliding across the clear, cool water. Our calm was interrupted when we heard some kids around the bend. We had seen them earlier that day with their bathtub shaped paddle boats. Now, both were overturned. There were shoes and bags scattered all over the surface. The four kids were panicked, shivering in the water and calling out for help. We rowed our canoe over, rescued a floating bag, asked the kids if they were OK and were trying to decide how to best help them when a voice thundered from the shore.

It was somebody's mom.

We came with compassion and concern but this mom, well, she knew her kid and there was very little compassion in her tone. She yelled "What are you doing? Get your butt over here! Swim for goodness sake!" It was quite comical. Exasperated she shouted "You're on the swim team for crying out loud!" I'll never forget the look on one boy's face when she said that, it was like truth broke through the panic and he turned and began to swim for the shore.

I honestly believe that he had forgotten about his skills as a swimmer, all he could see was the mess, the overturned boat and the floating debris. He was overwelmed - until he heard the voice of truth. So just in case you are bobbing up and down in the sea of life, bewildered and confused hear these truths today:
  • You are loved by God and His compassions never fail.

  • He is FOR you and promised to always be WITH you!

  • You are never alone.

  • God is faithful and forgiving.

  • He is slow to anger and rich in mercy.

  • He is the Good Shepherd who cares about each individual lamb, which means YOU.

  • You are never an interruption to Him.

  • No mess is too much for God.

  • He is Healer, Restorer, Savior and Redeemer.

  • His peace will calm your anxious heart and mind

  • There is always HOPE in Jesus Christ!
What truths have broken through in your times of crisis? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Eyes of the Lord

In 2 Chronicles 16:9, Hanani the seer delivered a message to King Asa. He said "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him"......sweet message right? I love the word picture. How big is our God that he can look over not a city, not a country but our entire planet in a glance! The prophet went on to say "You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war." This message came after over 30 years of peace. So what happened? I'm not sure about you - but I need to know. What foolish thing brought war, struggle, pain after years of rest?

King Asa started strong. He was fully committed in his early years. In cht 14:11, when faced with battle and the odds stacked against him, he prayed "Lord there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God for we rely on you , and in your name...." In cht 15 we read that with King Asa's leadership all Judah wholeheartedly swore an oath to God. "They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side." King Asa even ousted his own grandmother because of her idol worship. So long Granny!

Then, after a long season of peace and rest, the threat of war came up again and for some reason Asa forgot his prayer from years past. He forgot the covenant he had made. He sent a gift to another king to buy an ally for himself. Why? There is no indication in the story of a turn in Asa's heart. Of how he could stand there and say "I got this, God. I'm good, I can handle things this time around. "

I wonder if the shift didn't come out of complacency growing underground during all those years of comfort. Perhaps this foolish thing was nothing more than contentment and ease.

I enjoy comfort, but I find that nothing throws me into prayers of dependency like challenge. When life is steady, I too can pick up an "I Got This" attitude.

So how do we maintain a posture of dependence? Tough question. Most of the time, like King Asa, I feel fairly competent. But the creative artistic side of me has been given an odd gift called insecurity. As much as I get annoyed by my self-doubt and the fear that tags keeps me running to the strong arms of my Savior! And that is a good thing. To say...I don't "got this" I am helpless, powerless, lost without you Lord! Help me! I think this is one reason why Paul said "I will glory in my weakness".

I want to have a heart that the eyes of the Lord is searching for. Fully Committed. Dependant. Needy.

Searching, searching....looking....

"Ah-ha" the Father says to the Son. "That's it! I found it! Right there! Let's strengthen her"

Monday, June 14, 2010

Questions By The Decade

If I was a guy, and I had not already been brain-washed by Dave Ramsey, I'm pretty sure I would be out shopping for some ridiculously pimped-out classic hot rod. I'm 41 years, 5 months and 24 days old today and I think I'm having a mid-life crisis or perhaps some milder form of freak-out. Lately, I've been asking myself questions that I've never asked before. Things like:

This is good but is this all there is for my life?
How will my children turn out?
Will I ever do something great?
This reminded me of a message I heard a from Gordon MacDonald, editor at large of (click on link for an article based on his message). He was speaking to worship leaders and encouraging us to be mindful of the questions people bring with them to church. New questions seem to enter in at each decade of life. If you have a multi-generational congregation...that's a lot of questions.

Questions people are asking by the decade:

  • 20's Who am I? How am I different from my family? What will I do? Am I capable of love? Is there anyone who would love me?

  • 30's How do I cope with the demands of life and all these people who want a piece of me? What can't I follow through? How come I feel like I can never please anyone? What happened to my friends?

  • 40's What happened to me as a child? Why are others doing better than me? Why am I so disappointed in myself? Isn't it supposed to be better than this dull-drum life? Why these uncertainties?

  • 50's Why is time moving so fast? Why is my body unreliable? How do I deal with failures/successes? Why is my marriage not great? Are the best years of my life over?

  • 60's When do I stop doing the things that define me? Am I ready for old age? Why do I feel separated from the world? Do I have a spiritual legacy?

  • 70's Does anyone know who I once was? How much of life do I still control? Why this irritability? How long will people miss me?
I think of this message every time I prepare to lead worship at Shoreline East. I wonder what questions our guests are asking. Perhaps.... Where do I belong? Does anyone care about me? Is there still hope for me? I try to choose songs that would answer those questions: You are loved by God. You belong to His family. And Yes, there is HOPE for you in Christ! I pray that God's presence would lift them above those questions, that his peace would still their souls.....and mine!
We will be at Shoreline East this Saturday, come join us!

Do you see yourself asking questions as Gordon MacDonald presented them?
Or are there other questions you are asking in your current decade?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I'm singing along to a new song called Shaken by Paul Baloche, and it is just so singable! Then, I listen to the lyrics and I think "who writes songs like this?" This is a dangerous song, I'm not sure I really want to sing it, but I can't get it out of my head!

"Those You love, You will chasten. Everything that can be will be shaken... and only You remain." I wonder, is this an invitation to shaking? It seems risky doesn't it? Like sending an evite to Challenge or Testing. But storms don't seem to need an invitation, do they? They just pop up on our lives like a summer thunderstorm that even the best meteorologist didn't see coming. I've never noticed a bright red ticker at the bottom of my mind's eye warning me that dark days are headed my way. Storms just come. It rains on all of us.

This song is straight out of Hebrews 12...these are verses that we read...but who would have ever thought we should sing them? Well, I guess Paul's wife Rita did....

"Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens."
The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—
that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

For whom the LORD loves He chastens

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Since I tuned into the lyrics, I'll be honest....I sing cautiously. I look at my life and I wonder what could be shaken and what would remain? And I think perhaps a little shaking might loosen some of things that I carry that I don't need to be carrying. Like a ship in a storm, I wonder what would I throw overboard? What would you throw overboard?

I do feel shaken by this life at times. But then I remember that David said in the Psalms "because the Lord is at my right hand I will not BE shaken." I sing along because I know that:
  • Strength is birthed in the struggle
  • Pruning is necessary for fruitfulness.
  • God is my ROCK.
  • The storms of life will come.
  • A house built on that Rock stands.
  • God's love will never be shaken!

Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Blog

My very first entry posted on June 5th, 2008 so my Blog is 2 yrs old this month!

Happy Birthday Blog!

What I have learned in my first two years:
  • I enjoy writing.
  • I enjoy reading what I've written.
  • I appreciate my dorky attempts at humor.
  • I am most likely only person who has read ALL of my posts.
  • I seem to write FOR readers, which is an act of faith.
  • My husband is my biggest fan and most consistent comment leaver-thank you for that Babe!
  • Facebook shares are warm fuzzies.
  • Comments make me smile.
  • Bloggers shall not live by comments alone.
  • Subscribers make me happy....and by the way it's free.
  • I refuse to let numbers mean that much to me, but I find myself caring more about traffic.
  • I was right, things I have written do stay with me longer than thoughts that don't get posted.
  • Blogging is a great creative outlet.
  • I am actively learning and growing.
  • I like to share what I've learned.
  • I don't have to have all the answers.
  • There is lots to learn.
  • There is a crazy amount of learning to be done!
  • The more I learn the more I realize......I don't know much.
  • I will keep writing.

Maybe I'll get one of those nifty books made of my first two years - that sounds like a great Christmas present for my parents. Dad and Mom...pretend you didn't read this one OK?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Locked Up In Fear

I am pretty good at worrying. I've decided it stems in part from my North Dakota heritage. The climate is so ridiculously harsh up there, and I can just imagine my great-great-grandma out on the farmstead wondering...When will it rain? or Will this gully-washer ever stop? or How much hail damage did our crops endure? or Do I have enough food preserved for winter? or Will the cattle survive this blizzard? Questions like that tend to spiral don't they?

I had questions of my own this week. Like...When will they stop this oil spill? How extensive is the environmental damage? I wonder if this will affect our family vacation? What will gas prices be in July? Should we even take a vacation this year? I wonder if my children be able to enjoy vacations with their families? Will there be jobs for them when they graduate?...ENOUGH ALREADY!

All those questions are like quicksand to my soul. I find myself stuck in the muck and mire of fear. And it's suffocating me.

But in the middle of my worrisome wonderings, I read this verse in John 20:19... On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews...They had just endured the crucifixion of their Rabbi and now they were hiding behind locked doors in fear. I imagine they had their own spiraling questions. Like...Who are the Jews going to kill next? How will we die? Will we be kicked out of the synagogue? What if we are ostracized from the community? I love what happens next, it says...Jesus came and stood among them. Don't you love that locked doors and fearful questions are not a barrier to God's presence? Jesus found them in their hiding place and he said these three words: PEACE TO YOU!

And he said it to me: Peace to you, Lynn. Peace to your questions. Peace to your heart. Peace to your mind.

Are questions, fear-filled wonderings, and "what ifs" keeping you locked up?

I pray that Jesus shows up for you like he did for his followers, like he did for me; finds you in your hiding place and says PEACE to you. Then watch what happens....

And when the disciples saw the Lord,
they were filled with joy (delight, exultation, ecstasy, rapture) John 20:20 AMP

Thursday, May 20, 2010

God Breezes

I stepped out the back door, sat down on a patio chair and immediately felt a soft cool breeze on my face. I closed my eyes and soaked it in - God reminding me that just like the wind, He is all around me. All I could think is I have got to get outside more often! How many days do I spend moving from my house to my car, from my car to the office and back again.... completely missing the wind on my face.

In John 20, after his death and resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples and said:

"Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.
And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

I wonder what that felt like; Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit on you. Hmmmm....I imagine it felt a little like my lovely cool evening breezes. Refreshing and invigorating. Full of life. Or maybe it was more forceful like the Pentecost wind from Acts 2!

It was easy to see the wind, to hear it rustling the leaves of the massive Cottonwood tree in our old backyard. Here in this former farmland, nearly void of trees. it is so much easier to FEEL.

Get outside and feel the wind on your face this week (quick before it gets too hot!).... then tell me does it feel like God to you too?

Psalm 104:2-3 He wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'm A Soldier Of Love

Love is a battlefield, isn't that right Ms Benatar? War is not a new metaphor for love, but it is a fitting one. My husband and I are reading John & Stasi Eldredge's new book for couples Love & War and as in most of their offerings, you hear there is indeed a battle to fight. At the same time we just purchased the latest project from the beautiful and brilliant Sade entitled Soldier of Love. The title track with it's military vibe is a story of pain, loss, survival and the hope that love will come. I've got war coming at me from all sides! And whether I like it or not I am a soldier in this love-war. So, I've made up my mind, I am taking a stand and drawing a line in the sand. Will you join the ranks?

  • I know that my spouse, my children, my family, my friends are not the enemy in this war. But we do have a very real adversary who is bent on the destruction of all life-giving relationships. I need vision to see through the conflict at hand to the enemy underground.

  • I will let my heart take courage and rise to the risk involved in this war. Relational disappointment can be so disheartening. Giving up seems like a great alternative to doing battle. Great relationships do not come out of resignation.

  • Isolation is not an option. I need a band of brothers...or in my case a squadron of sisters! We are not meant to live life alone, I need people in my life who will encourage me to persevere through the challenges.

  • Survival does not equal victory. I can live as a causality of war. I can live as a survivor or I can press on to find freedom. Relational freedom means I don't have to control others in order to feel safe. God is in control!

  • I will not hope in my ability to get things right, but I will hope! Knowing that nothing is impossible with God. He is the author of relationship. My hope is built on nothing less - not on my goodness, not on my husband's perseverance, not even on our family's legacy of longevity.

  • As crazy at it sounds in this context, I know that surrender is my ONLY option. I raise my white flag to Jesus! And I know that the more I die to self the more victorious I am as a soldier of His Unfailing Love!

Do you hear the battle cry for relationship? Have you gone AWOL? How can you re-engage as a Soldier of Love?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Better Than a Hallelujah

I find myself praying more these days. I'm not exactly sure why. It could be because I have a soon-to-be teenager and sometimes...the look in his's either slap him or pray! Maybe its the struggle we see in lives of those we love. Maybe its the natural disasters that seem to be plaguing our dear planet. Today it occurred to me that I could be having a mid-life crisis. Hey, at least it's boosting my prayer life!

Prayer matters. It lifts me and reminds me that I'm never alone in facing whatever lies ahead. Moses encouraged the children of Israel with these words from Deut 4:7

"What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them
the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?"

Our God responds to prayer. He hears our cry and He is NEAR!

When I first heard a clip of
Amy Grant's new release Better Than a Hallelujah. I thought, hmmm what is she trying to say? What could be better than this ancient, treasured word? Yet, I am swept away by the sweet melody and raw honesty of this song: "We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody. Beautiful the mess we are. The honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a Hallelujah." I think its true that God delights to hear the cry of our hearts, whatever misery or concern we might find there. And perhaps its even true that he would rather hear our messy heart than an habitual hallelujah.

What do you think of Amy’s new song?

When do you feel God's nearness?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Seeking Happiness

I love my last name. When David and I married on a glorious North Dakota summer day in July of 1991, I embraced it!

I've owned cherry t-shirts, cherry socks, cherry purses and cherry pajamas. Sometimes I wonder if God gave us two boys because he didn't want to subject a sweet little girl to all the cherry outfits we would have made her wear.

We have a colorful collection of cherry tea pots, cookie jars and plates decorating our kitchen. And when I saw this artwork at Garden Ridge, I had to have it! David hung it up that night in our half bath right off the kitchen. (What a great man!) The two giant cherries make me smile. It also has a little saying on it that has been fun to ponder. And what more perfect place for a little ponderin?

We Tend To Seek Happiness

When Happiness is Actually A Choice

I'll be honest, when I first sat and pondered, I interpreted it to say that we pursue happiness in an environment that is life-giving and hopeful, when we perceive happiness as an option for us. While I think that is most likely true, I decided yesterday that it is saying something entirely different. How could I have missed it? Most of you are probably saying...duh girlfriend! What it is saying to me now is, I'm sure, what the artist meant for it to say: that we spend time, we spend money, we spend energy reaching for an elusive place called "Happy" when all along the only thing we need to spend is our will. (Click to Tweet) Happiness is a choice!

Ha! That reminds me of a little song I learned in college...."Happy, Happy, Happiness is a choice and I chose to be Happy, Happy as I can be. I chose to Happy. I'm Happy. I'm free. I chose to be Happy so I can be me." Whoa that is a flash from the past! Thank you Cheryl Prewitt Salem for that lovely little tune.

So what do you think? Is happiness a choice of our will?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Lump in my Throat

My feelings were floating treacherously near the surface. And I was afraid to open my mouth lest they come spilling out in front of these people I hadn't even met yet. Awkward! I was attended a writing workshop with my dear friend and writing buddy Lexie. The speaker was Janice Hanna Thompson. She was wonderful, like the teacher you always wished you had. We got to the workshop just in time for a creative writing exercise which was torture for me! I wrote 2 paragraphs without really saying anything and then listened raptly as a few of the other attendees shared their exercise which in 5 minutes already contained characters with names, setting and plot. One, I'm sure, will go on to be the prologue of a future best seller! It was amazing.

But, why all this emotion? I grabbed a piece of scrap paper to help me sort it out:

  • Fear - Isn't there always at least a little bit of fear as we stand at the edge of something new? Sometimes there's a lot!
  • Rejection - Every time we put ourselves "out-there" we risk rejection. For writers it is part of the process. We joke that rejection letters will be progress because at least we can say we submitted something!
  • Work - Am I willing to do the work ahead? When will I find the time? Who will feed the hungry children?
  • Doubt - Is this direction I'm heading really the right one for me? Do I have what it takes?
  • Patience - How long will I wait? Can I wait gracefully?

With the idea of waiting comes anticipation and I know that too is contributing to the lump in my throat. It's a hopeful lump. As I sit in the class, I'm just so grateful to have Christ at the center of my life. All of those questions can be reigned in by TRUST. Trusting God's plan for my future, not mine. Trusting that I am completely accepted by Him, even though rejection will surely come. Knowing that the Holy Spirit empowers me. He is for me and He is so very patient!

Are you standing at the edge of a dream? I'd love to hear about the lump in your throat!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Princess and Her Pillows

So, I’m from North Dakota and pride myself in not being a foo foo kind of girl. The only jewelry I need is my wedding ring. Jeans and tennis shoes are my favorite outfit. I relish my no-make-up days. The princess in me comes out AT NIGHT.

Somehow over the course of my life I’ve become sleep-dependant on a pile of pillows. Every night I put my pillows in position, and the truth is I really can’t fall asleep without them.

The Basic Pillow – This one really shouldn’t even count. Everyone sleeps with a pillow under their head. Although not the fluffy feathered version we are accustom to, pillows have a long history and have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Who knew?

The Pregnancy Pillow – Regardless of the fact that I haven’t been pregnant since July of 2000 I can’t seem to break this habit. Picked it up in 1997 when I was expecting our first born. The idea is that a pillow between your knees helps keep your hips and spine aligned and any woman who has carried a child inside her body knows we need all the help we can get!

The Posture Pillow – Shout out to my dear Chiropractor, Dr Logan for introducing me to my third pillow, a satin covered cervical cylinder. My neck thanks you. My spine thanks you. My son thanks you because he now sleeps with a neck roll too. I am not content to keep my habit to myself. I’m a pillow pusher.

The Eye Pillow – This smallest of the pillow pile is the epitome of princessdom. My husband’s sister introduced me to my first eye pillow. It came in a boxed set with a coordinating candle and was filled with lavender scented flax seeds. I used it until it wore thin and the seeds started leaking out. The first time I saw one on the bed I screamed and thought it was a bug! I had to retire that pillow recently. (Rest in peace my friend.) My dear husband bought a replacement in spearmint eucalyptus, although he most likely regrets it. It seems like every night at bed time I am searching through the covers, the nightstand, and the floor for that dad-gum pillow! Now I’m resigned to just turn on the light to locate it, because I know sleep will come sooner with every pillow in its place.

It looks like I’ve pick up a pillow for each decade of my life.
What’s next?
What’s in your PILLOW PILE?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A New Earth...that's the plan!

I was going through my son's homework folder and came across a pretty bad grade. Ugh! There were not many questions on the page and he got 3 wrong which averaged out in the "re-do" category. Teachers allow him to correct and resubmit work for additional credit (don't you love grace?). As we were looking over it, I beamed at one of his wrong answers. Odd, right?

The question was "How would your life change if people used up fossil fuels, such as coal, gasoline, natural gas and heating oil?"

My son's answer: "Not any bad changes because God has a plan for me."

SMILE! It was so great to see his faith on paper! As much as I tried to persuade him that life without these fuels would be miserable, he stuck to it!

I asked, "What if we didn't have gas for our van and we had to walk or ride our bikes everywhere?"'

He answered "We'd all be healthier."

You gotta love his positive persistence!

The reality is that our Earth has limited resources, and our dear planet seems stuck in a process of slow deterioration. Actually, it's the Second Law of Thermodynamics in action, which can be generally summed up that things tend to move from a state of order to disorder, randomness, or chaos.

As a science major, I just love it when God's wisdom pre-dates our discoveries! Romans 8 says For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

I think of this verse whenever I hear about earthquakes and hurricanes and tsunamis. The Earth IS groaning. Things are not right. But I am encouraged by the faith of my child. I agree. Our God is a planner!

Easter changes everything for us. We have new life. We have new hope. Forgiveness and Freedom. Fellowship with the Father. But we still have a decaying planet and pervasive brokenness. Easter is the climax of His-Story but the final resolution is yet to come. Observing Lent this year seemed to stir up the longing for that resolution.

Listen to Peter's message from Acts 3 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.

There is a time coming for God to restore everything! The groaning will cease. The Earth will be free from its bondage to decay. Imagine the new heaven and new earth prophesied in Isaiah 65. I'm so glad God has a plan and proud that my son is not afraid to say it even when the answer gets marked wrong.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why I Sing - Toastmasters Project #2

6 am Sunday morning just a few months ago and the alarm clock is screaming…get up!

Maybe I was just having a grumpy day or maybe it was the Sunday morning chaos:
finding something to wear that doesn't need to be ironed, searching for the boy’s tennis shoes, only to discover them soaking wet on the back porch...yelling at the kids “get in the van, we gotta go, I'll buy you donuts from the cafe, again...”

I'm not sure what was going on with me that day but somewhere in the middle of my vocal warm up about the time I hit the 45 toll plaza I asked myself this question: why do I do this? Why do I get up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning so I can get to church an hour before everyone else? Why do I get home from work on Tuesdays, scramble to get homework done, find something decent to feed my hungry children and drive back into the city for rehearsal? Why?

Well, that’s a good question
I decided probably, as a member of the Shoreline Worship Team, I should have a good answer….so opened up a memo in my phone and started making a list of Why I Sing. I’m going to share a few reasons with you today.

At my very core, I just love music. It is hard for me to listen to the radio and not sing along. I've been singing all my life. My mom read those lovely sing-songy nursery rhymes to me and my daddy sang with me. We have ancient cassette tape recordings to prove it. My parents planted a song in my heart and then they bought me a record player when I was about 4 years old. I wore that thing out singing along with vinyl. I treasured my children's records. My parents had a few LPs I used to play too like Freddy Fender – I don’t know how his music made it all the way to ND?? and Lynn Anderson - I loved her because we had the same name …I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.... It was awesome when I graduated from my record player to a cassette player and cool new technology called song search where I could listen to my favorites over and over

Music became a big part of my life. My parents paid for years of piano lessons and voice lessons.... They were very generous and so encouraging along the way. All through Jr high and high school I sang with a small ensemble that traveled around the city sharing the vision of the fledgling Christian School I attended. Looking back, I was so confident then, it feels like there is so much more at stake at 41 then there was at 14. Honestly, I am thrilled that I’m still singing. I feel so privileged to be a part of the music team here, even on my grumpy days…

I love music and I love that it is a universal language. It transcends cultural, generational and language barriers. There are hundreds of people on our planet who can sing and I mean SANG! Just think about the recording artists in all the different genres out there right now, then think about all the people who've been making a living at this in years gone by. Add to that the thousands of people with beautiful voices who fill our choirs and stir our hearts. For those of you who only sing in the shower, you know you sound good in there!
Throw in all the brilliant musicians and it is easy to see that God very generously covered every corner of the earth with musical talent, and placed inside each individual an innate appreciation for that talent. Being the genius God He is you know there has to be divine purpose to it all. I believe there is a sacred connection between God's out-pouring of unique and varied musical gifts and our bent toward worship. Because that is universal as well, isn’t it?

We are all searching for something to worship, something that captivates our attention. We honor, adore, glorify, and idolize many things. Our souls were created to worship and music is the language of the soul.

Music is universal and it is so powerful! Isn’t it great how a song can take you back in an instant to another place and time? Or touch you deep inside, inspire and lift you up. Music stirs our emotions, but it is also very scientific. There is a great body of research on how music affects the brain. One of the most fascinating things I’ve heard involves an area of grey matter called Broca’s Region. Touch your left ear, move above and to the front…right about there is Broca’s Region. This part of our brain functions like a gatekeeper. It decides if any input that comes across our path is actually worth thinking about. One source I found called it the blah blah blah filter. It is easily bored with the predictable…Surprise is a great tactic for getting past Broca. Great story-tellers know this. Music has an amazing affect on Broca…That whole area of our brain lights up when listening to music. It has a measurable affect on learning. I see the combination of words and melody like a power punch. We might think it is a little odd to say… God, the creator of the universe, ya, he’s my friend. But we’ll sing I am a friend of God…and the more we sing it the more we believe it. After a while a thought that seemed implausible becomes a part of who we are. Music is a powerful tool to help us embrace truth.

So I keep getting up on Sunday morning, I memorize new lyrics, I practice and expend a lot of time and energy. Why do I do this? I love music. I love being a part of something universal and I believe in the power of music. I believe in what we do as a worship department at Shoreline and I know without a doubt that people’s lives are being changed as we sing.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Tree of Life

We have a decorative cross collection in our master bedroom. I purchased a few of the crosses but most have been gifts from different people in our lives. We recently hung them up in the new house. I think it looks pretty good!
I was looking up at them this morning. Thinking about the cross, while songs from the Easter drama ran through my head. One in particular written by Shoreline's own Skip Downey...Oh how beautiful the cross. Beautiful. It is simply beautiful, isn't it? It has so much meaning to us. Loaded with love and hope and redemption.
The cross is a symbol of our redemption. And even as a symbol it has been redeemed. To be hung on a tree was to be cursed. I doubt there were any cross collections decorating homes in Jesus' day. It symbolized death, oppression and the shame and guilt of capital offense (see Deut 21).
One of the repeated phrases in our lenten readings is "You made the cross of tree of life" God redeeming, transforming this symbol just as He redeems and transforms our lives!
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham's blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God's life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing—just the way Abraham received it.
1 Peter 2:21 This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you're named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.
Heb 12: 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
And today, I say with Paul:
Galatians 6:14 For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can't you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Carry the Cross

Who was Simon the Cyrene? We read about him in 3 of the 4 gospel accounts of Jesus' crucifixion. We know he was a dad. We even know the names of his two sons: Alexander and Rufus. We know that he didn't volunteer to help Jesus...he was seized, forced to carry the cross. I wonder if his boys were with him. How old were they? What did they do when the soldiers grabbed their Daddy?

Simon was just "passing by". We read that he was on his way "in from the country." Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I looked it up on a map. Cyrene is in Lybia, Africa. Simon was actually a long way from home and I'm sure he had other plans for that day in Jerusalem. But here he is, yanked into the suffering journey of a Man like no other. Don't you wonder how he felt? Was he fearful? Begrudging? Did he keep his distance or did he take a moment to look into Jesus' sinless eyes?

The Bible is full of interesting details like this. Proper names that lend great historical value. Paul mentions a "Rufus" in Romans 16. What if it that was Simon's Rufus? I can only imagine that the journey to Golgotha would have been life-altering for all three of them.

It is interesting too, that in these same three gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus is recorded saying "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Simon had no choice but to submit to Rome and carry the cross of Christ. I, on the other hand, must choose. I'm not very good at denying myself. My Self is loud and demanding and works really hard to make sure it gets its way.

And what is "my" cross anyway? We've come a long way from the Roman Empire. It is not the cruel cross of ancient days. And mine is not a brutal submission. I know this because Jesus also said "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Could this yoke be my cross? I'm not sure...maybe...

Look at the contrast:

Most likely Simon was exhausted at the end of that climb to Golgotha, weary and burdened after carrying the cross. It is those who are already weary and burdened that Jesus gives his invitation to come. Jesus is gentle and humble, a far cry from the Roman Soldiers who coerced Simon. The cross that Simon carried was heavy. The yoke that I am to carry is light. I have no doubt that there was great unrest for Simon and his boys that day and in the nights that followed when sleep was hard to come by. Jesus said if I carry his yoke I find rest. This burden is not the end of me. It involves learning, the promise of a future changed by growth.

Jesus is asking me to carry my cross. He is asking me to be yoked with him. This is a tender call to companionship. I will not walk alone. I love that Jesus did not walk alone. I'm glad Simon was there.