Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Take Note: A Prayer (1)


The other day, while meditating on God’s Word and His ever-present grace and perfect displays of love, I heard Him say to me…..

I AM the essence of what is you.

As I pondered, it unfolded:

I AM the essence of what is you
I AM the essence of what is
I AM the essence
 “Heavenly Father, I Am Yours; Your expression.

As I allow the cares and affairs of this world to color my voice I sometimes distort what You say through my words and my actions. Live in me and love through me to keep it pure.

Lord, keep my eyes and my mind on You; keep my heart safe in You.”


Any missing notes in a masterpiece work of symphony are heard
and an awkward tension from the silence pierces the soul.

We are those notes! Let your heart be heard

– the wealth of your importance cannot be overstated.

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”
– Exodus 3:14 (KJV)

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”
– John 6:35 (KJV)

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, 
but shall have the light of life.”
– John 8:12 (KJV)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Our Crazy Love

I hide the silliest things from people.

The other day someone asked me how Dave and I have managed to still be so in love after all these years. Besides the obvious, that God is the glue that holds us together through thick and thin, the only thing I could say is that we are without a doubt, the silliest, goofiest couple ever. If a sitcom were created about our married life, most of it would get laughs primarily because folks would say, “No one’s really that goofy that much of the time.” Hey – if you can’t laugh at yourselves and each other, a couple doesn’t really stand much of a chance, in my opinion.

Sure, you’ve got to be quick to forgive, generous with mercy and sincere compliments, but you’ve got to know you have permission to laugh; loud and often.

Yes, you need to build each other up and respect each other and speak positive words over each other; you need to pray over each other – sometimes out loud! But, without humor, we’d miss the best parts of each other. Don’t you think?

Whether we’re playing a board game, hiking together or simply watching television from the comfort of our bed, Dave and I know we can laugh, spontaneously.

Not necessarily the kind of laughter that makes fun of each other, but rather, the kind of laughter that makes fun with each other.

I admit it, I’m an oddball. But, I have to think I’m not the only oddball out there. Most of the time, the side of our marriage we show to the world around us tempers our goofiness. Sometimes folks may only see the facet of our relationship where I get snippy with Dave.

No doubt, if you’ve known us long at all, you’ll see the side of life where I’m “lovingly suggesting a better way to do things” – i.e. my way.

You might see our serious sides.

But, you probably won’t see even a measure of the silliness. Why? I ask myself….

Perhaps we just don’t want folks thinking marriage is easy? Nah. Everyone knows you get out of a marriage what you put into it. Well, in most cases. I think.

Maybe I’m actually backwards about showing off how good we have it. So many couples around us seem to struggle all the time. Wouldn’t putting our happiness on display only make them feel bad about their squabbles? Nah, probably not. Perhaps it would even be encouraging to see that two messed up humans can make it work for their entire lifetime together, despite the mountains they have to climb together and individually.

Maybe it’s the (false) idea planted somewhere in the back of our heads that whispers to us, saying that there are folks watching and waiting for us to fail? Nah, who cares what others think? If they’re thinking we’ll drift apart or face something marriage can’t handle, they’re wrong.

Maybe, it’d be considered bragging? We all know how morally wrong that would be, right? Nah, anyone who knows me knows I’ve screwed up a lot, bragging about something God is doing in our lives doesn’t even fall into that category.

Hmmmm. What could it be? Why would we be so modest as to hide our joy?

God knows I’m quick to brag about the grandchildren to anyone who will listen, and even many who could totally care less. Would declaring our happiness be prideful?

Maybe our happiness doesn’t need to be a horn we toot too loudly – hopefully everyone can see through the thin veil of discretion and knows how deliriously content we are in each other’s arms.

For the record, no one this side of heaven could make me happier than Dave. No mere mortal could love me better or more consistently, no matter what each day brings.

I love you, Babe! Forever and always, Me!
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” -  Ephesians 3:20-21 (KJV)

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4-31-32 (KJV)

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” – Ephesians 5:20-21 (KJV)

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” – Ephesians 5:31-33 (KJV)

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…. Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” – Philippians 1:3 & 6 (KJV)

Thinking Out Loud Ed Sheeran (

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Closets in Paradise?

One day, while my children were still preteens, in the midst of a hectic day, I fled to the bathroom for some alone time. While sitting there, I cried; I prayed. I realized my helplessness and gave it all to my Father. Yes, He’s even with me in the bathroom.

I use visuals to help me process, so as I prayed, I saw myself frantically running around in a maze. I lifted the 3-D maze, as if a drawing in a coloring book, and placed it in a box of some sort. I gave the box to God, imagining placing it in His giant hand.

“So you won’t live there anymore,” I heard in reply.

Stillness. Quiet. Relief!

I need visuals. But, that’s me. They help me grow.

What if the kingdom of heaven is right under your nose?

How many times have we been carried away by a movie or novel that paints the splendor of a magical kingdom, whether in a far off sphere or within the minute world of fairies and such?

As children, we may have marveled at the thought or hope of such an existence. Who knows, perhaps even as adults we marvel at such thoughts. (I do.)

What if there is a kingdom with such promise that our human minds can barely conceive what it might be like? Yes, it might compute to us as a magical kingdom; a place where love reigns and doesn’t even need to triumph, because that’s all there is in this kingdom of Love.

This human lifespan, a blip on the radar of eternity might seem quite without purpose. What could we possibly achieve in this lifetime that will impact forever? Or – are we even supposed to be striving to accomplish such achievements?

And what if this kingdom or paradise is right under our noses?

How many inches is it from your nose to your heart?

It amazes me that our minds can think we believe certain ideas, yet sometimes our hearts can override those thoughts. How can our heart and our mind act so independently of each other?

Sometimes we wish something to be true so fiercely that we cannot imagine life in any other paradigm. Wrapping our heads around a reality so opposed to the one we imagined would unfold as we journeyed through life can be as simple or as complex as we make it.

If given the news we or a loved one has a terminal illness, we may choose to live in denial for as long as evidence permits. Or, we may choose to tackle it head on and seek out what we can do to minimize suffering or hope to find a different prognosis.

I’m discovering the answers to so many of my questions are simmering in my own heart, waiting for me to see them there, begging to be uncovered, as if God’s hidden them there for me.

I’m finding that built into us is the basis for healing, for comfort and for peace and love beyond what we thought was capable. All of this and more, because built into our hearts is a throne we can give to the One Who created everyone and everything; and He has all the answers and all the healing and all the love we need.

Personally, I think we’re sometimes afraid to look into our own hearts. I know that at various seasons in my life I’ve been fearful of what I might find there.

Good, bad or indifferent, if it’s in there, it’s a part of me. Avoiding it won’t make it disappear. Embracing it and exploring it allows us to see beyond thoughts that have held us captive in the concept of who we’ve thought we were supposed to be or what an ideal version of us could look like.

We are who we are. And we were created to be the ‘us’ we are – on purpose and as part of a plan far greater than we can fathom.

Exercise for the day – or week – or as long as it takes: Look into your own heart and allow yourself to see what’s there. God already knows the contents; you don’t have to be afraid. He’s the ultimate Protector, He knows what you’re ready for, He’s been preparing you. He’ll go there with you. For those of you who are “Friends” fans – this is Monica’s secret closet.

What we uncover may not all be pretty. Some may use the word courage to describe what it will take to venture into the darkness. It’s only dark because we’ve not let light shine there yet. Some might use the word surrender. But, eventually we’ll discover paradise.

God’s Word gives us great assurance over and over again. Here’s a taste of His goodness:

“For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” – 1 John 3:20-21 (KJV)

With the visual of placing you into God’s loving hands, I bless you…. “and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7 (KJV)

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27 (KJV)  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I Wonder...

When I say the Name of Jesus, what thoughts come to mind immediately? What feeling or emotions surface with those thoughts? What is it you think I’m about to communicate?

I’m curious, especially about those of my friends and acquaintances that don’t have or feel solid in a personal relationship with Jesus. But, even those of you who believe in Jesus with all your heart; what do you think when I say Jesus?

When I say His Name…
Do you expect me to get “preachy” on you?
Do you think I’m judging you or condemning you?
Do you feel defensive or on guard?
Do you cringe, wishing I’d not said His Name?
Do you feel that I think I’m somehow better than you?
Do you think my life doesn’t line up with your definition of what a Christian should be, perhaps wondering why I’d even mention His Name?

Or do you welcome what might follow?
Do you have questions you’re dying to ask someone, but hold them back because you think your listener will think you should already know the answers?
Do you hope I’ll pray for you or give you some nugget of spiritual insight?
Do you not even notice His Name when I say it?

None of the above, or… I not mention His Name when I’m around you?

I’m a question-asker from way back. It’s been joked that on my tombstone it’ll read, “But wait, I have one more question!” If you know me, you’ve probably figured out that I question most everything, whether out loud or not. Sometimes I think I push too hard or probe too deeply, perhaps looking for problems where there aren’t any. Maybe I’m perceived as just being “too nosey”. Or maybe I’m even thought of as one who can’t stand the silence and needs to fill it with words and to pull my listener into a conversation with questions that I don’t even really care about.

I wonder about the things that go on inside my own head; in your thoughts and in all the experiences I walk through, I wonder what’s going on around me, as well.
My mind is a maze of wonder. Sometimes I love that about myself, other times it frustrates me. My mind is seldom quiet unless I purposefully pursue that silence.
Though I’m certainly no Solomon, I marvel at the Queen of Sheba’s experience with him:

“And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.
And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.
And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built,
And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her.
And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.
Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.
Happy are thy men, happy are these, thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.
Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.” - 1 Kings 10:1-9 (KJV)

So, can you help me out?

When I say Jesus – what do you think or anticipate? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mistaking Them For Us

What then?

After we’ve discovered we’ve mistaken them for us, revelation can be a beautiful thing.

We put so much importance into the flesh we’re wrapped in. Yes, we need to take care of it; this flesh houses us while we’re living here on planet Earth, the vessel that holds us in, that often holds us back. But, our flesh only defines who we are when we believe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

There are plenty of things society dictates about our worth or about what we can and cannot do, simply based upon what we look like. The catch I don’t understand is that WE ARE SOCIETY!
The color of our skin shouldn’t be an advantage or a disadvantage.

The number on our weight scale shouldn’t decide if we’re capable 
of accomplishing our dreams.

The wrinkles on our face shouldn’t determine our value to society.

The way our backside fits into our jeans shouldn’t dictate a number 
on some ‘scale of beauty’.

Missing limbs shouldn’t hold back our drive.

Scars shouldn’t force us to hide.

Male or female traits shouldn’t cripple determination.

Being a minority shouldn’t limit our creativity or abilities.

Our ethnicity shouldn’t have anything to do with whether or not 
we’re suited for a particular job.

Our complexion shouldn’t decide how much fun we can have.

The flesh we wear shouldn’t determine our limits.

Nor should we allow someone else to define who we are and what we can do.

Yes, I think most of us, at least at one point or another in our lives, mistaken them for us.
We allow someone other than our Creator to create the path for our lives; we follow blind men down brightly illuminated streets seeing nothing for ourselves. We look at a blue sky filled with brilliant sunshine and believe it’s a dreary day simply because someone else said so.

When we look into our own hearts, for ourselves, and see the design that was created there on purpose, the world’s plans for our lives fall away and we begin to discover the power of our own existence.

Could an abandoned child in Ethiopia born without legs, starving and scared; hold the secrets to the cure for cancer?

Could the millionaire on Wall Street, hiding in his ivory tower hold the secrets to happiness?

What secrets are wrapped up in who you are?

Though we love to quote it, do we dare believe it?  -  “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Or, instead, do we believe what others dictate about us?


Thursday, April 2, 2015

When I Don't Know How to Pray

As my friends sometimes do, one sent me a scripture this morning. Two verses that made me take note – and ponder.

When someone asks how they can pray for me, I often stumble for a response. 

Of course, my loved ones are first on my mind.

They’re suffering.

Yet, God is in control; nothing is happening that He hasn’t already seen, none of this has taken Him by surprise. To pray for their deliverance seems trite, because He’s already working on that. To pray for their salvation; He’s got that covered, too. To pray their eyes be opened and that He reveals Himself to them in ways they will understand and receive – yes, He’s already doing it.

 To pray that I trust Him with them, yes, I trust Him completely.

There’s no thought of my loved ones He hasn’t already heard, no cry He hasn’t already considered. How do I identify how to pray over what God is already seeing through to glory? Tearfully and sometimes feeling ill-equipped, I pray in faith and through a yielded heart; rejoicing that God prays through me. His Spirit is in me, and He knows exactly how to pray. Always.

Pray that I not get in His way? Ah, that might be even better, as one who loves deeply, my heart wants to jump right to every situation that arises; it can be hard to close my mouth and sit on my hands and watch pain and anguish and fear twist those I love. Especially when pride tells me that appearing to do nothing might convey that I don’t care or understand.

Yet, sometimes my own spiritual growth and understanding comes most brilliantly and powerfully through the painful breaths in my own life. Anguish can be a tool. Fear can paralyze or catapult me. Struggles can teach. Nothing we experience is wasted.

And we can’t experience for someone else.

Freedom is treasured more intimately when we’ve fought for it; when we’ve discovered for ourselves how that liberation exhilarates us.

In “wishing” for less turmoil, I dare not hope to remove God’s hand from the lives of the very ones I love more than life itself, or slow His plan, even if I could......

With every request I bring to my Lord, He assures me: “I Am.........” 

My friend sent me a verse from Isaiah.

“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure.” – Isaiah 46:9-10 (KJV)