The Difference Between Falling in Love and Staying in Love

I'm pretty sure I could be a fan of arranged marriages,

because I've learned a lot about love in my life time and what I've learned has transformed my way of thinking about love.

I've learned that falling in love is easy.

That feeling you get when someone sweeps you off your feet by saying just the right words.

That warm feeling inside when you know that someone else thinks about you as much as you think about them.

Yes, falling in love can happen unexpectedly and change everything about your life.


But staying in love?

That's a whole other conversation.

Because mixed with all those sweet words we love to hear eventually come hard words.

Words that challenge us, irritate us, convict us, and sometimes even hurt us.


And both kinds of words (sweet and bitter) come mixed with actions.

And these actions come mixed with consequences.


And suddenly,

time passes and the act of "falling in love" is something that is as foggy as the darkness outside my house this morning.

As a matter of fact, I noticed the fog as I was waking up Olivia this morning and I thought to myself,

"How foggy my memory is of the early years......"


See, today is Tim's birthday.

I spent a lot of yesterday reflecting on his presence in my life and his presence in his own family's life.

His birthday started as a gift to his parents when he became their firstborn on his dad's birthday in 1965.

A breathing birthday gift!

A shared celebration every year.

Father and son.

Who could ask for more??



But then, without warning, his birthday became a bitter part of our life story.

We awoke in 1992 on his birthday to find our baby girl not breathing.

Suddenly, everything special about this day was obliterated.

It became a dark day.

A day I couldn't acknowledge for many years.

Saying, "Happy birthday," seemed cruel on a day that was no longer happy to us.

And time passed.


Other dark days came for our family, as you know.

Darker ones if that is possible.

And suddenly his birthday resurfaced as something that needed attention.

Needed love.


Nick's journey through cancer reminded us all that every birthday is a gift to be celebrated.

A day to rejoice that God has given us one more season together.

A time to say "thank you" to a God who gives and takes away.

A moment in time when all the ups and downs, highs and lows, good and bad are seen as part of a big story.

And the candles on the cake reflect all those memories mixed together.

If only the "good year" candles were allowed on birthday cakes, our cakes wouldn't shine as brightly,

because God uses all our years - the good and bad - to make us who we are.


And so goes love.

Falling in love means absolutely nothing without the "staying in love" part of a relationship.

It's the "staying" that makes the "falling" so meaningful.

I can fall in love with someone who is singing a beautiful song.

Truly, I can.

A songwriter can melt my heart for a moment in time.

But I don't stay in love with them because there's no building of something bigger, something better, something painful and yet worthwhile.

Today, on Tim's 48th birthday, I believe I can say "Happy birthday" with a smile.

And I can say that I understand what it means to "stay in love."

After 27 years of marriage, two apartments, two houses, several college degrees, six children, more than 6 dogs, several cats, and a few fish,

I have learned that staying in love has very little to do with falling in love.


Staying in love is all about endurance.

It's about forgiveness, sacrifice, mercy, compassion, renewal, grace and every other word that requires effort when it comes to love.


Staying in love means lifting the fog from time to time and remembering the days when holding hands and taking a walk were all that mattered.

When singing,

"Me and you and you and me,

no matter how they toss the dice,

it has to be.

The only one for me is you and you for me.

So happy together,"

seemed like a perfect melody.


Because staying in love means that you understand that "happy" is conditional but love is unconditional.


Today, as I reflect on Tim's birthday,

I reflect on more than just one more year of life.


I reflect on a journey that has not been easy.

I reflect on a relationship that almost ended on several different occasions when the road got just a little too rough for either of us to walk easily.

I reflect on moments when we looked at each other and thought,
"Life might be easier without you."

I reflect on a lot of wonderful memories and many painfully horrific ones.


And I realize this:


Falling in love is easy.

Staying in love is work.


That's the difference.


Maybe it's not the one you wanted to hear about this morning.

Work is not always fun.


But, I promise this.

Work is worth the outcome.

Not just in marriage, but in friendships, in parenting, in our jobs, and  in our relationship with God.


When we invest our time, our energy, our laughter, our tears, we gain more than this world can ever offer in quick, momentary pleasures.


I fell in love with Tim when I was 17.

That was easy.


I have stayed in love with him for 30 years.

And that's been a lot of work.


Today, I have to say, it's been worth it.


Happy birthday, Tim.

May the many years we skipped your birthday because of our sadness be redeemed by the ones still to come.

And I believe with all my heart and soul that Nick and Adrienne are celebrating with us today..........

in ways too beautiful to imagine with our human minds.

You are a great husband and dad.

I am thankful for you.

I have to add for all my friends who have tried to save their broken marriages and been unable to do so,

thank you for trying and know that God will redeem your tears in His time.

For many of you, He already has.

To my children, thank you for enduring the highs and lows of your mom and dad's marriage.

Many times it was you who held us together.

To my students and friends who have fallen in love,

remember work is always worth the outcome.

Work hard at staying in love......

God does. Smile


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,

who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

When It's Difficult to Swallow

Olivia's throat started hurting last night, and her forehead felt very warm.

This morning she can barely swallow.


Ignoring the pain now would only make matters worse in a few days,

so I'm calling our doctor as soon as they open and scheduling an appointment.


Some things we just can't fix on our own.


Have you ever reached a time in life when things are difficult to swallow?


Maybe you've been hurt by a friend or family member.

Maybe you've just received not-so-good news from a doctor.

Maybe one of your children is heading in a direction you wish you could change.

Maybe something at work is out of your control but totally in your face.


I've had many hard-to-swallow days in life,

and I've learned that there are just some things that require an expert.


A counselor.

A minister.

A doctor.

An outside voice.


I've sought them all on at least one occasion, and I've received the guidance or medicine I've needed to start my recovery.


Today, Olivia needs a doctor.

I don't know what you need.


But I do know WHO you need on the easy-to-swallow and hard-to-swallow days........


There's only one Great Physician and His healing power supersedes any you'll find on this planet.


I'm thankful this morning for a God who holds the whole world in His hands but still cared enough for us individually to engrave each of our names in His hand.


If you're facing something this week that is difficult to swallow,

seek help.


And know God is with you.....every step of the way toward emotional or physical healing.


See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Isaiah 49:16

You go before me and follow me.

You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too great for me to understand!

Psalm 139:5-6

When You're Trying too Hard to See Him

Last night, I met Olivia's track team at an area high school after a meeting at work and a quick trip to Walmart.

On the way, my mind was filled with so many things going on in life right now from how each of my boys are doing in their own little worlds to new things we are learning at work that are overwhelming to things I need to do at home but probably won't get to until next week.


I was definitely focused on earthly things even though my radio was cranked up to KLove,

and I'm sure I was missing the powerful lyrics as I cruised along Route 23.


So, when I climbed into the bleachers and Olivia and her friends handed me her phone, anxious for me to see what was on the screen,

my mind wasn't thinking of spiritual things.


Honestly, I think I was expecting a picture of Olivia's purity ring nestled in the grass or something as if Olivia had taken a picture of where she found it and was going to surprise me.

(I've got to accept the fact that it's gone. Smile)



I took the phone and sat down.

The girls waited for my response.



I studied the clouds in the photo closely.

Looking at how the sun was shining brightly through the clouds on one side,

wondering if I was missing a thumbs up or something.

But, I couldn't see anything that took my breath away.

And finally, Olivia took the phone, disappointed.


I had ruined a moment.


I tried so hard to find a tiny message in the clouds and missed a gigantic one right in front of my face.

photo (1)


When Olivia finally said, "It's a heart,"

I saw it immediately.


I tried to recover, but it was too late.


I had allowed all the tiny edges of the clouds that I thought "might be something special" to distract me from the one huge cloud that carried a message of love straight from God to Olivia and her friends.


And I can never have that moment back,

because like a cloud it blew in and blew out within seconds.


I tried to recover by explaining that my mind was on so many different things when I arrived,

but you could feel the deflated spirits all around me and I might as well have had a big "L" on my forehead for the next few minutes.

Sad smile


As I was reading this morning,

I stopped on one verse in Psalm 143,


"O Lord, what is man that you care for him,

the son of man that you think of him?"

It's so easy to get caught up in my own thinking and forget that even when I do,

God is still thinking about me.

As I contemplated so many earthly concerns on the way to Olivia's track meet,

God was busy contemplating me.

He is busy contemplating you too.

I truly believe He knew I needed to see His love in the sky last night,

and I was looking too hard for something more.


Ironically, my Experiencing God chapter this morning was all about hearing God speak through the Holy Spirit.


I felt tears come to my eyes as I reached this verse in my study,


I Samuel 3:19,

"The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none His words fall to the ground."

I want to be like Samuel.

I don't want to miss any messages God sends my way.

I don't want any of His words to me to "fall to the ground."

I definitely don't want to be so caught up in my earthly concerns that I miss God's messages when they come through the hands of my children or their friends.


But when I do miss His messages,

here's what I'm hoping.


I'm hoping that as His heavenly words slip by me and fall seemingly unheard and unseen to the ground that He will allow them to root and grow back up into something more beautiful.

And maybe, just maybe, I missed the cloud so that I could say all of this to you this morning.

Maybe I missed the heart in the cloud so the words in I Samuel would mean something much more powerfully convicting this morning.


Maybe God allowed me to NOT see the cloud,

so I could say to all of you,



I meet so many people who seem so unhappy, so purposeless, so lost.

I want to somehow crawl inside them and change their way of thinking, help them see life from a different perspective, help them feel joy even when life is hard,

but I can't.


Only God can do this.


So, I'm praying this morning that my eyes will be open to every message God sends my way, and that I will somehow help others see the messages too.


God longs to be intimately involved in every minute of our lives.


So, look around you today.

Be aware.

Be alert.

Be open to His messages.



He is with you.

He cares for you.

He thinks about you.

He longs to speak to you.


I love knowing that even in those moments when my mind is stuffed full of trivial, worldly things,

God is still passionately pursuing me.


He's pursing you too.


His love is always in the air even when we don't see it.


Rest in that thought today.

When You Lose Something That Matters.........

We've been searching for the past 24 hours for Olivia's purity ring.

She took it off to put on lotion just before her bus left for a track meet.

And sat it on her backpack.......


That's the last memory she has of her ring.


It's easy to look back and think of all the things that could have been done differently,

but the truth is "nothing will change the fact that her ring is gone."



Have you ever lost something you treasured?



When you do, life screeches to a halt.

Schedules change.

Thought-processes focus.

Steps are retraced.

Help is sought.

Priorities shift.



The good news is this:

We can replace a purity ring.



The reality is this:

Some things can't be replaced that easily and so this "carelessness" of Olivia has become a teachable moment at our house.



Here's the lesson:


Pay attention

Value things of worth

Don't wait too long to ask for help

Be thankful you haven't lost something of greater value




Today, as you venture out into another Thursday,

what do you treasure?








Pay attention

Value things you treasure

Ask for help when needed



I'm thankful today for how God speaks even through lost treasures...........

When You Wonder Who's Watching You.........

track april 23 018

Sitting at Olivia's track meet last night, I was drawn to the view on the other side of the field.


One lone man.





The view must have been perfect for him.

Maybe he liked the quietness of a stadium filled with noone.

I'm not really sure what drew this lone man to the opposite side of the track, separated from the rest of the cheering fans.


But whatever it was, he stood there most of the evening.

And when I got home I was tickled to find that I had taken as many pictures of him as I had of the kids competing.


Every time I looked at him, I had this same thought.

Someone at this track meet has an audience of one.

What power there must be in running the track and looking up into the stands and having no doubt that the ONE person you need cheering you on is there.

No searching the crowd for the right face.

No listening closely for the right voice.




Your audience of one stands clear compared with the chaos of cheering on the other side of the track.


God is so much like this.


When we look up and wonder if He's there,

He longs for us to have no doubt.


He's there.


He's watching.


Our solitary God is cheering us on in a world full of chaos.


He pulls Himself away just far enough for a perfect view yet stays just close enough to show up in everything around us.


From sunrises to flowers blooming to leaves falling to children laughing to elderly people speaking words of wisdom.


He is here and He is speaking.


Today, if you're wondering who's watching you as you wake up, get ready for school or work, or prepare for a day of errands,

He is.

If you wonder who's watching you as drive here and there, as you interact with friends or co-workers,

He is.

If you wonder who's watching you as you make every little decision throughout your day,

He is.


I love knowing that no matter how crazy and loud and mixed up this world gets,

I can turn to the bleachers on the other side of life and know without a doubt that God is there.

Centered, steady, and faithful.


He is our audience of one.


His cheers are all we need.


Let's live for Him today.


Why the Holy Spirit Matters...........

When Jesus ascended back to Heaven after His resurrection and brief presence on the earth,

He told the disciples,


I tell you the truth. It is better for you that I go away.

If I do not go, the Helper will not come to you.

If I go, I will send Him to you.

(John 16:7)

Every time I read this verse it stops me in my tracks.

Jesus, the King of Kings of Lord of Lords, felt it was better for Him to leave us than to stay.


Because in His place was going to come Someone who was better.


Better than Jesus????




How could anyone be better than Jesus, the Son of God??


Jesus told us how when He said that when He left a Helper would come.

Suddenly every person who accepted Jesus as their Savior was going to have Someone who not only loved them but also LIVED INSIDE them!!!


I love the thought that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all on the same team but have very specific purposes in our life.


God is our Father, Judge, Provider.

Jesus is our Mediator, Savior, Lord.


The Holy Spirit is our Advocate, Friend, Helper, Comforter



The Bible shares over and over again in the book of Acts stories of people receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

When the people in that day heard the message of Jesus, they asked, "What do we have to do to be saved?"

Every time, they were told that they needed to be born again.

Die to their old self.

Become someone new.


The way they were told this could happen was by being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Our church believes that while baptism is not any sort of magic trick to make your life perfect, it is an act of obedience, crucial in our journey toward salvation,

that even Jesus humbled Himself and modeled while on this earth.


I would never make a list of things that a person has to do in order to consider themselves "saved,"

but I would also never share Jesus without talking about the book of Acts and the early church, and how the people of that day transformed their lives in order to receive the Holy Spirit.


When the Holy Spirit came,

lives changed dramatically.


Murderers, thieves, and so many other broken, messed-up people became passionate followers of a New Way.


They became so committed to the teaching of Jesus that they were willing to die rather than reject Him.


The Holy Spirit inside of them is what gave them the strength to survive earthly persecution.

They knew that something better was coming.

They lived everyday looking up to Him who promised eternal life.



Today, we have that same Holy Spirit living in us if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior.

That's how they work together.


One saves the other stays.


If you have given your life to Christ at some point, even if you feel far from Him today,

guess what???


You still have someone living inside of you who longs to draw you right back to Him who loves you more than anyone on this planet!


I love the thought that God is always working through His Son and through His Spirit.


I am confident this morning that the only way I have survived the losses in my life is by having Someone with me and in me through every single day of my grief journey.


If you feel alone today, ask God to send you just the right person to lead you closer to Him.


John 14:26 says,

The Counselor, the Holy Spirit,

whom the Father will send in my name,

will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.


I'm praying for you today.


Praying that you will turn to God with all your questions.


Be listening today.

Be watching today.

God longs to show up in your life and give you just what you need in order to feel His love and presence.


The Holy Spirit matters because He is here, living in us and with us, constantly drawing us nearer to the One who loves us most!

What Walking with God Looks Like........

Sometimes I think it would be easier to walk with God if He would send us each a Post-it note every morning that included a list of "things to do" for the day.

We could then check off all the things specifically chosen for us.

__smile at your neighbor when getting your mail

__invite your co-worker to Bible study

__pray for your friend

__share a particular verse with someone who is struggling



If every Christian had this morning list, just think of all things that could be done every day in the name of God.

But, I'm just thinking that God knows how we are about lists.

At first, we check them off meticulously.

Excited about our new method of being organized.

After a while, though, those very lists we longed for become "one more thing" on our bigger list of "things we need to do,"and the stacking of lists begins.

Before we know it, we are days behind.

The arrival of our next list of "assignments" suddenly becomes more of a burden than an opportunity.


That may be the very reason God chooses to work in this world on His own and then allow us to step in when we see a work in progress.


Maybe God is working on the heart of a co-worker and we notice them asking more questions about God and faith.

This is a chance to share a little part of our life story with that person, joining God where He's already working.


Today, walk with God by having your eyes and ears open to where He is already at work in the world around you.

Then join Him there.


That's what walking with God looks like.


"Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working." .......

Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself;

he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does."

John 5:17, 19-20

Rainy Days: Two Ways of Thinking

As I sat here reading the Bible this morning,

I heard the rain began to pour outside.

My first thought was, "Oh no. We didn't get the yard mowed. 

My second thought was, "It's going to be a mess getting in and out of schools today."

But then, out of nowhere, I remembered the song,

"Showers of Blessings."

We use to sing this at church when I was a little girl.


I remember loving to play it on the piano.

I remember loving to hear the voices of elderly people around me singing it, knowing their lives had been marked with good times and bad.


Life will have rainy days.
Sometimes the rain will come in raindrops.

Sometimes the rain will come through tears.

This morning if you are facing a rainy day (whether it's a real rain or an emotional one),

remember this:

God longs to shower your life with more than raindrops.

He longs to shower you with blessings too.


Look to Him today, trusting Him, even in the rain.


Showers of Blessings

There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

There shall be showers of blessing,
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

There shall be showers of blessing;
Send them upon us, O Lord;
Grant to us now a refreshing,
Come, and now honor Thy Word.

There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we're confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!

There shall be showers of blessing,
If we but trust and obey;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
If we let God have His way.

I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing.

I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.

Ezek. 34:26

The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty,

to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.

You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.

Deut. 28:12

Today, I'm sensing that your life, like mine, has had moments of sunshine and moments of rain.

I love the song below.

I've had a thousand sleepless nights.

I've had more tears than I ever thought a life could hold.

I've had so many reasons to question God's presence,

but I've learned this by trusting Him anyway:

He never leaves me.

Even on the rainy days.

The aching of this life has revealed a greater thirst than this world can satisfy.

Thankful today, for the sunny days and the rainy ones.

Believing This Changes Everything About Life

Do you ever wonder how you can know God more personally?

Do you ever wish God would make a "personal appearance" in your life, showing up just when you need Him with a sign that speaks to your specific need?


Well, I have great news today!


That's exactly what God wants too.

He wants you to know Him more personally.

He wants to show up in your life.


John 14:21 says,


Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.

The one who loves me will be loved by my Father,

and I too will love them and show myself to them.

Last night on Facebook, a colleague of mine posted a personal experience she had with God.

She wrote about how she has been feeling down because of everything in the world that seems to be out of control and bad,

and how she was struggling to trust mankind.

Then she shared about something that happened with a stray dog and how God used this dog to demonstrate "trust."

As I read her words, I knew that she had experienced God in a very personal way that spoke to her very specific need.

She needed to know what trust looked like, up close and personal.

In her desperate cry for help,

God showed up through a stray dog of all things.

And because she was listening and open to more than just an earthly experience, this interaction with an animal taught her a lesson that deepened her faith and changed her entire outlook on life.

Not only that, because she shared her testimony publicly many others were blessed last night.

That's how God wants to work.

He wants to meet you right where you are with a message you need to hear.

And then He longs to use your encounter with Him to change everyone around you.

Another friend of mine found out she will have a new student joining her class today with only 20 days left in the school year.

I can't wait to see what God is up to with this new student!

because I believe that nothing happens accidentally in this world as God brings good from every situation and longs to use ALL THINGS to draw us closer to Him.

God has a purpose in the arrival of this new little child.

When you take time to sit back and soak in just how personally the Lord of all Creation longs to share life with you and when you BELIEVE with all your heart that He is passionately interested in you,



The traffic jam on the interstate

The rude sales clerk

The unmerciful teacher

The stray dog

The conversation over the fence with a neighbor

The hurtful friend

The unfaithful spouse

The financial trouble

The time in the bleachers with other kids' parents

The complicated situation with family or friends

The neglectful parent

A new job

A lost job

The tiring student

Stress at work

The consequences of our sin




Restored health


I could keep listing things all day long that I have experienced personally or that friends are experiencing right this minute....

They all have one thing in common.

God longs to meet each of us in all of these moments.

He longs to be our Comforter, Avenger, Guide, Helper, Advocate, Defender, Hiding place, Savior, Supporter, Hope, Leader, Light, Redeemer, Salvation, Stronghold, King of Kings, and so much more.



Are you longing to now God more?


He's ready to show Himself to you today.


No matter where you are or what you're facing,

ask God to show up in exactly the way you need Him.


And then "wait expectantly!!!"

Psalm 5:2-3


Hear my cry for help,

my King and my God,

for to you I pray.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my


in the morning I lay my requests

before you

and wait expectantly.

I can't imagine walking through this world without believing that there is more to this world than our eyes can see.

I want you to believe that too.

Believing this changes everything

about life!!!!!!!!!

The Boston Marathon and God...........

Psalms 50:15

.call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

After watching the news for a while last night, it was easy to feel overwhelmed with the reality of what happened yesterday.

I woke up this morning wondering what was going on in the lives of so many that were affected personally by the tragedy of yesterday's bombings during an annual event that usually ends with cheers of victory and an unbelievable sense of accomplishment.

It's easy to wonder where God was yesterday when evil people chose to bring harm to innocent victims.

We've asked that question many times in the past when news has flashed across our screens reminding us once again of the hearts of wicked men.

All I have this morning is this,

God was there.

In the midst of all the screams.

In the midst of all the questions.

In the midst of all the pain.


He was right there.


And He's there today.


He's there to bring comfort to the hurting, and hope to the devastated.

Stories will surface just like they have in past events of horror and despair,

and slowly we will hear of how God is bringing strength to the weak and hope to the hopeless.


That's how He works in a fallen world.


He doesn't always provide escape

from pain,

but He always provides comfort in

the midst of it.


Today, if you are hurting, know that you can cry out to Him, and He hears you in a very personal, compassionate way.

When you cry out and He responds, you will find yourself feeling a peace this world can never offer.

And with this peace comes a hope that "overflows with joy" even as you try to figure out how to go on from where you are right this minute.


My prayer today is that you will feel God's presence in such a profound way that there will be no room for doubt as to whether or not He is with you.


Close your eyes and know this:


The Creator of the Heavens and the earth longs to have a very personal relationship with you.

You are loved.

He is with you.

He is enough.

Even on the darkest day.

If You're Waiting for a Sign, Today is Your Day!

There have been times in my life when I've really needed God to show up and make things clear for me.

There have been other times when out of nowhere God has affirmed something that I hadn't even turned to Him with for an answer.

And I believe there have been a thousand more times when God has shown up and I've missed His presence all together.


I hope when I get to Heaven He plays back my life and says,

"Remember that day when such and such happened???  That was Me....."


"Remember that time when you felt all alone and a friend showed up, that was Me....."


Today, I'm wondering if you are longing to hear from God with an answer to a prayer request or if you want to believe He loves you but you are struggling to believe He is really there.

Maybe you've slipped away from a close relationship with Him or maybe you feel like you've never really had a relationship at all and you wonder how other people do.


I don't know where you're at in life when it comes to your relationship with God,

but I do know this.


He's there in the midst of wherever you are, and He is calling you.


Do you know how I know?


Because His Word says over and over that He calls us to Him with an everlasting love and that He is faithful to keep His Word. (Jeremiah 31:3)

He loved you before you were even born (Jeremiah 1:5), and He has plans for you.

His plans are to give you a Hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

He calls you by name. (Is. 43:2)


Today, I feel so strongly that God is using this blog post to be your sign.


My quiet time has led me to pray very specifically for all of you who are longing to hear from Him in a personal way.


Don't run from this post today.


Don't ignore Him today.


He wants you to know Him just as He knows you.


Look up and ask Him to lead you into a relationship that changes everything about your future.


Open your heart today.


Today is your day.


Believe me, I did not begin my morning thinking this was where my writing would lead.


I feel so overwhelmed with His presence right now and so certain that He led me to these words and to the song below which I had never heard until this morning as I was looking for a couple of verses to share.


He's calling you today.

He's calling you to the cross where His Son willingly died for you and for me.

The same love that saved the world longs to save you.


Here His call today.

And answer with the words, "I am yours, Lord, lead me."


When Adam and Eve Weren't There.........

I'd never really thought about God coming down to walk with Adam and Eve and not being able to find them,

but that's what happened after they ate fruit from the one tree God had told them was off limits.


Now, I'm sure God "knew" where Adam and Eve were when He walked through the garden saying, "Where are you?"

I'm sure He wanted Adam and Eve to come out from hiding on their own.

It had to hurt to think that the very people He had just made in His own image were now hoping He would not find them as they hid among the bushes.


I love that God didn't just return to Heaven and leave them hiding.

I love that God pursued them and then met them in their guiltiness.......

giving them a second chance.

I also love that He clothed them before sending them out into the world.

With His supernatural hands He covered their shame with more than His mercy.

He covered it with exactly what it needed at that moment, and it was clothes.



Since the Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow,

I have to believe that He still pursues us today.

Even in our guiltiness.


I also have to believe He brings with Him exactly what we need to cover up all of our imperfections.


Last night at jail I was overwhelmed with all the different needs of the women with whom we spent time.

Some needed strength, some needed hope, some needed courage, some needed peace...........

all were guilty of something and needing to be covered by more than our human hands were capable of providing.


I'm so thankful God pursued Adam and Eve,

because knowing that helps me believe that God pursues the guilty and shame-filled today.


If you find yourself feeling guilty or unworthy today and maybe hiding from God or if you find yourself struggling to find time to spend with Him,



He has just what you need in order to face the world without shame.

He wants to cover you in the mercy only He can give.

He longs to walk with you and talk with you and share every minute of life with you.

And most of all,

He won't stop pursuing you until you are His.


Like a shepherd who has lost one sheep out of a hundred,

God will search for you until He finds you.

Maybe that's where the saying comes from,

"You can run, but you can't hide."


I love knowing that in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve weren't waiting to spend time with God,

God still showed up longing to spend time with them and longing to provide just what they needed in order to survive.


He longs to spend time with you too.

He has what you need.

Rest in that knowledge today.


You are loved with an everlasting love.


I'm thankful today for a God who pursues me.

I hope you are too. Smile

Have a happy Friday!

When the Future Shapes Us.........

Phil LeMaster, my minister for years, use to challenge our congregation to read through the Bible in a year.

Every January I would have this big dream of doing just that.

By February, as I reached the book of Leviticus and all the sacrifices the Israelites were offering in the wilderness, I would find myself overwhelmed with the details and skip to the New Testament.

Old Testament Scriptures are hard for me to swallow.

But when Nick passed away, I learned of a chronological Bible that was marked specifically for daily readings; and I determined that I would read the Bible through every year until I was with Nick again......

no matter how many years that might be.


I wish I could put into words how this goal has been part of my spiritual transformation.

My morning time in the Bible has become my favorite part of the day.

Without it, I don't know where I'd be today in my grief.


I especially love mornings when my daily Bible reading seems to line up perfectly with my devotional workbook at the time.

This morning I read about the death of David's infant son and how David fasted and wept and prayed when his son became ill.

As soon as he heard that his son had passed away, though, he got up from the ground and Scripture says,

"He washed, put on lotions, changed clothes, and went to the house of the Lord to worship.  Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food and he ate."


His servants were confused and asked him why he was acting this way.
They couldn't understand why he had fasted, wept, and prayed while the child was alive; but now that the child had died, he was eating and worshiping God.


I love David's answer in II Samuel 12:22-23,

"While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.' 

 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again?

I will go to him, but he will not return to me."

I love that David believed in a future reunion!

I love that David understood that there was more to life than this present world.

As I finished reading about David's perspective on life and time, I turned to the next section in my "Experiencing God" workbook and this is what I read,

"If you live for time (the here and now), you will miss the ultimate purpose of creation. If you live for time, you will allow your past to mold and shape your life today.  

Your life as a child of God ought to be shaped by the future (what one day will be).

God uses your present time to mold and shape your future usefulness here on earth and in eternity."

There's something powerful about letting go of our past pain and hurt.

Not that we forget the people we loved during that time.......

but we do not allow our past pain to mold us into people who are hopeless and bitter.

Rather, we use the pain of our past to push us toward our ultimate prize - Heaven!

We see our heartache as part of our journey that has catapulted us deeper into the arms of God rather than something that has pushed Him away.

We understand that in this world we WILL have trouble, just as Jesus said.

But that HE HAS OVERCOME THIS WORLD, and with that knowledge and a life committed to becoming more like Him, SO CAN WE!

That's what it means to be "more than conquerors."

We not only conquer our past pain, we allow it to become the driving force in our faith.

Today, what are you hanging onto in a way that is not positive and productive?

What are you allowing to mold you?

Are you a person who tends to look back or look forward?

I challenge you today to spiritually,

"get up, wash up, change your clothes, and worship God."

There will still be tears.

There will still be difficult days.

There will still be painful memories........


I promise that if you do, you will begin to feel an excitement about today and tomorrow that you've never had before.

You will begin to see everything through the lens of God's future victory.

His presence will become a backdrop in everything you experience and do.

You will find yourself waking up with purpose and passion.

Paul understood what it meant to shape his life by the future when he penned these words in Phil. 3,

"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.

But one thing I do:

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Something Happens When We Fall in Love with God..........

If you've ever watched a relationship blossom between two people,

you notice a pattern that is nearly always involved.


First, two people notice each other.

Something draws them together.

Maybe it's a character trait or a common interest, but whatever the case they "catch each other's eye"


all the sudden there's more than just an everyday kind-of feeling between them.


Then, they "start talking."

This season of a relationship is very important, because this is when the two people begin to realize just how much they care for each other.

If it's one-sided, things usually don't go any further.

If there's nothing deeper than conversations about everyday life,

then eventually the flame will weaken back to the original spark and finally burn out.


But if the "talking" leads to a deep connection between two people, then the relationship will grow from "like" to "love,"

and all the sudden life begins to change.


Thoughts about the other person begin to invade every other part of life.

Finding time to be together becomes a matter what it takes in readjusting schedules.


Distance isn't a barrier.

Time isn't an obstacle.


Love has a way of making everything in life more bearable, more meaningful, more exciting.

While human love waxes and wanes as time passes,

the decision to push through the tough times together somehow deepens the roots of the relationship and creates a bond capable of withstanding the toughest storms.


The only difference between our human relationships and the one we have with God is this.........

His loves never wanes.

His faithfulness never comes into question.

He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.


Knowing and believing this changes everything about life.


When we fall in love with God by first noticing Him and then spending time with Him,

we enter into a relationship full of meaning and excitement.

The Bible says over and over again just how much God loves us and what He has done for us because of this love.

It also tells us that when we begin to love Him back,

He begins to show Himself to us. (John 14:21)


As our love for God grows, our love for mankind grows.

With this deep love for God, we begin to treat others with this new kind of love as we become more compassionate, more forgiving, more merciful, more patient......

We begin to have more joy every morning as we are excited to see how God will reveal Himself to us in this new day.

Life becomes an adventure rather than a chore.

Our "job" becomes a calling even when our job seems anything but glorious,

because suddenly God steps in and we begin to be Him to the world around us rather than just "us."


God created us in order to have a relationship with Him.

There are all kinds of things in this world trying to distract us, pull us away from, and cause us to give up on this love relationship with God.

As a matter of fact, the devil's goal is to pull you away from the One who loves you most.


Thankfully, God loves us so much that He provides a way out of every distraction and every temptation if we will turn to Him for help. (I Cor. 10:13)

He is jealous for us. (Deut. 4:24)

He loves us so much that He sent His Son to save us. (John 3:16)

And He loves us so much that He is coming to get us one day so that we can live with Him forever.

Until then, He wants to share life with us.


He wants to share life with you.

The good and the bad.

The wonderfully happy moments and the incredibly sad times.


He cares for you.

He hurts with you.

He rejoices with you.


He walks through every moment of time with you.


Today, as you venture out to face another day of life know and believe that NO MATTER WHAT your day holds,

you are not alone.


He is with you. Smile


When we wrap our mind around this truth, we fall in love with God all over again.

Overcoming Writer's Block and Life's Hurdles

I don't know what's up with me this week?

A blank screen overwhelms me.

Words evade me.

My thoughts are jumbled, bouncing from North Korea's threats to Olivia's after-school schedule to what's going on with all of our boys to what I need to get accomplished at work today......

I look at the screen and begin thinking of specific people I wish I could help and wonder what I could possibly say to encourage them today as they are looking for jobs, fighting serious health problems, living without a confident belief that God is with them, and on and on.


For some reason, writer's block has become a great friend.

And I've read enough about writing to know that the best thing to do when you cannot think of anything to write is to simply write anyway.

I can remember telling my students,

"Just write.  It doesn't matter what you put on the piece of paper.  Just get sentences out of your head.  Talk with your pencil."

And suddenly, students were creating beautiful pieces of work accidentally.

They were digging into their own little world of thoughts and discovering that underneath all the noise of their teenage worlds they really did have something worth saying.

So, today, I am writing anyway.

I'm talking with my pencil even though I'm at a loss for words.

And as I continue clicking away I glance back and realize that sentences are forming.

Thoughts are coming together.

God is somehow taking my writer's block and allowing even it to send a message.


And I'm realizing that the message is something I needed to hear today too.

It's something that speaks to the very core of what my quiet time was about today.

Here it is:


In life, we often find ourselves up against a wall.

A hurdle.

A challenge.

A call that seems to big.

And the human reaction is to turn the other way.

Give up.

Move on.

Even stop.

Life is filled with all sorts of things that cause different kinds of "writer's blocks."

It's not the blocks, the hurdles, or the challenges that determine who we are or what we can be.

It's how we respond to them that ultimately determines our destiny.


Today and yesterday and maybe tomorrow, I am fighting writer's block.

Maybe you are fighting some other kind of "block."

Maybe you're feeling useless, empty, purposelessness.


I challenge you today to "do life anyway."

Fill your screen.

Keep writing or practicing or serving even when you feel like stopping looks more attractive.


God often called people in the Bible to be faithful in small things before He moved them on to greater things.

What small things can you do today to make a difference in His Kingdom?


Look around today for opportunities to be Him to a hurting a world.

Push through your feelings of inadequacy.

"Write through your block."

Before you know it, your screen will be full.

Your life will have meaning.

Your joy will overflow as you realize you have been faithful even when you didn't think you had a thing to offer.


I love God so much.

He is my screen filler, my joy giver, my hope sustainer, my hurdle jumper, my everything.


Let Him be your everything today too and just watch what He can do through you!

I love you all so much!

When Words Won't Come

It's one of those days when I've tried to start typing about six different times, and I've ended up backspacing and deleting every letter, every word, every thought.

Sometimes my words just sound empty, and today is one of those days when "all I've got" isn't much to offer.

Last week was spring break, and I had a list a mile long of things I wanted to accomplish.

I slept in a little later than usual which threw off my normal routines, and I didn't always get to share on my blog even though you were never far from my heart and mind.

I cleaned and purged and painted and rearranged and reorganized so much of my house, and

it felt good to take control of some places that had begun to take control of me.

Grief mingled with so many things I did last week, though, and I found myself feeling everything from sadness to guilt as I brought parts of our house to life in ways that felt
"right" and "good" even though so many I love aren't here to share the rightness or goodness anymore.

I miss Nick so much, but the reality is, "I miss Erich and Mallory and Evan too."

I have to work at balancing my emotions so that I can be fully present for Tim, Olivia, and Todd.

I do not want to slip into some kind of sadness just because life keeps moving forward quickly even when my steps seem slow and shaky.

I love sharing life with all of you so much, too, and I know that so many of you are facing daily struggles right this minute with health problems, financial burdens, loneliness, insecurities, questions about where God is in the midst of your pain,

and that makes me feel guilty too because for this brief moment in my life things are fairly peaceful.

While I'm thankful for this lull in personal trials, I'm still continually affected by my own grief as well as fully aware and deeply moved by all of your struggles.

This morning, several of you are on my heart in such profound ways that I find myself lacking words of encouragement yet longing for you to grasp just how much God loves you even now as you try to understand what He's up to in your life.

If I could go backward and change things in my life,

believe me I would.

There are so many aspects of my journey that I wouldn't have written in the way in which they were penned by the author and perfecter of my faith,


I understand more and more every day what faith is all about as I hand my life to Him anew and trust Him in spite of all of my questions and doubts.

That's what I want for you today.

I want you to take whatever it is that's causing you to feel sad, discouraged, stressed, tired, down, confused, bewildered, or overwhelmed, and simply hand it to Him who has the power to handle it.

Release it into His care and then breathe deeply knowing that He's got you covered.

He can handle today.

He can handle this week.

I've learned over the years that He is rarely early but He is never late.......

He is faithful to keep His promises in His time.

As you wait for answers, ask Him to help you trust Him with the question marks.

I didn't have words on my own today.

I think these are words God knew someone needed to hear.

I hope it was you.

I love you all so much.

More than anything, I want you to smile today knowing you are loved with an everlasting love.

It's all that matters.


What It Means to be Inked..........

Although I have never gotten a tattoo, I have considered getting one on several occasions over the years.

I've contemplated everything from a small cross to an Ichthus symbol to something like this:




I've even thought about getting Joshua 1:9 or Nick and Adrienne's names etched inside a heart somewhere on my body, but I've never had the nerve to go for it.

One of my friend's sons had Joshua 1:9 tattooed on his arm in honor of Nick. 

Another friend's son had a large thumbs-up symbol tattooed onto the calf of one of his legs in memory of Nick.

It makes me smile when I think of Nick's friends who decided to carry his memory with them in a visible way for the rest of their lives even though

I know I will continue to keep my memory etched only on my heart.


When I think of my friends who have tattoos engraved into their bodies,

I know that each of them carries with them a story about when and why they decided to permanently "ink" their skin.


Being "inked" offers some people a way to express in a very personal and artistic outlet a significant season in their life.

I don't know if you are reading this with or without a tattoo on your body, but  the truth is we've all been "inked" by life in a figurative sense. 

We've had experiences that have  left lasting marks on our hearts and in our minds.

Some of these experiences have been good.

Others have been anything but good.

In their book Inked: Choosing God's Mark to Transform Your Life, Kim Goad and Janet E. Kusiak take the  concept of being "inked" and pen a book that gets to the core of who we are and how we allow God to be a critical part of our identity.  This book takes the very popular society trend of being tattooed and compares it to the different ways our lives become etched by circumstances and the choices we make because of these circumstances.  It then challenges us to allow Christ to permanently etch Himself on our mind.

I'm excited to share this book with my minister, because I believe it can be a great resource for reaching a large population in our community.  I love the idea of our church creating a small group centered around the study of this book.

I'm also looking forward to using this book in jail ministry; because I know the women (many of whom have multiple tattoos) will relate to the lingo, the concepts, and the analogies used throughout its pages.

Here is an online summary I found of the book that might be helpful if you are planning to share the book's basic premise in a church newsletter:

A tattoo can tell a lot about a person. Some reflect a rebellious season, like the demons
that cover Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers. Some express religious ties, like actor Mark
Wahlberg's once tattooed rosary. Some are symbols of love and loyalty; Some serve as
remembrances, like rapper Lil Wayne's teardrops, representing deaths of loved ones.
Inked by Janet E. Kusiak and Kimberly D. Goad uses
the language of tattoos to explore the question: what has marked your life? Is it a deep well of
pain? Is it emotional baggage? Is it depression? In spite of events that are so deeply etched
into our hearts, we have the power to change the marks that life makes on us. An estimated quarter of Americans ages 18-50 have a tattoo. What better way to show how
one of the most polarizing of cultural icons can, in fact, be a metaphor for what people have in
common? Using stories and slang from tattoo culture, the authors look at the new way Christ
desires that we be inked by Him, as the authors explore the marks that have been made on our

Below are a few links you might want to look at if you are thinking about reading this book and/or using it as part of your ministry.

CLICK HERE to visit the Inked by God website.


CLICK HERE to order Inked as an ebook.


CLICK HERE to order Inked from Amazon.




I read this review of Inked online and felt it was worth sharing -

I began and finished Inked last night. Any text that references Viktor Frankl within the first 7 pages has my undivided, most likely obsessive, attention. Throughout the entire text, the authors seamlessly blend elements of pop-culture, psycho-philosophical history, literature, Christianity - and most importantly, reality, to produce a refreshingly positive take on our "marked up" modern existence.

As a blogger, I am frequently asked to share book reviews about new books in the Christian market.  I have to say that this books strikes me as one that has the power to transform every reader who dares to turn its pages and absorb the message it shares.


Inked: Choosing God's Mark to Transform Your Life

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