Why Believing in Jesus Matters

In a world filled with so many different religious beliefs, spiritual convictions, and personal opinions about what is true, what is important, and what matters,

it's no wonder more and more people are throwing in the towel and walking away from organized religion.


Andy Stanley has a powerful sermon series called "Starting Point" that deals with this very issue.


We have been listening to the series in our Sunday School class over the past couple of months, and my faith has been renewed and strengthened on so many different levels through each message.




to listen to all of these sermons and click on number seven "Don't Stop" to hear the powerful sermon we heard yesterday.



Here is a short description of this sermon from North Point's website:


The ability to believe is the most powerful force at mankind's disposal.

Everything that has been done, for good or bad, was done because someone believed it could be or should be done.

Every problem that has been solved was solved because someone believed it could be or should be solved.

We constantly look for evidence to support what we believe is true.

In the case of religious belief, that means if you believe deeply enough any religious system becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If that's true, isn't it possible that Christianity is just an example of groupthink on a massive scale?

If you or someone you love is struggling to understand why believing in Jesus matters,

this sermon may be the answer.


The whole series is worth your time, but this specific sermon spoke to me in a powerful way yesterday and I had to share it with you.


Have a wonderful last Monday of 2013!!


Don't Stop Believing!

Why God Says "Be Still"

I love quiet moments when I become a sponge and God the water.

I love peaceful places where His Presence rises above every noise, every movement around me.

As He rises up over my life's chaos,

He catches my eye.

He draws me in.

He captivates me.

And nothing else matters.

Except Him.

I long for these quiet moments, because I know that without them I am nothing.

I know that without the peace and quiet He longs for me to seek, I cannot really seek Him.

And without Him, I am nothing but a whirlwind of crazy; and God doesn't have a lot of use for whirlwinds.

He definitely didn't choose to speak to Elijah through one even though He could have.

No, God wanted Elijah to lean in and listen closely.

He didn't want to take any chance on Elijah missing what He had to say.

His words mattered, and Elijah needed to hear them.

So, God chose whispering.

He chose a still, small voice to ask Elijah a great, big question.

"What are you doing here, Elijah?"

That was the question Elijah needed to answer on that day as he found himself hiding in a cave.

Are you hiding from anything today?

Maybe it's your past.

Maybe it's your present.

Maybe it's your future.

Maybe it's your pain.

Maybe it's your calling.

God longs for you to lean in and listen.

Maybe He has the same question for you today,

"What are you doing here?"

God says,

"Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth."

Psalm 46:10



He couldn't be more clear.


Be still and know.

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and I will be exalted among the nations.

Be still and I will be exalted in the earth.



When I sit in silence and allow my body to relax and my mind to focus on Him and Him alone,

something happens.


Everything about this life seems to fade away.


As one of my dad's favorite songs says,

"The things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

I'm learning more and more every year of my life that this world offers very few opportunities to hear His whisper unless we intentionally choose to get away and be still.

I hope in 2014 you will choose to be still and listen for Him often.

When you do,

you will know that He is God,

and He will be exalted among the nations and in all the earth through your testimony.

That's why God says,

"Be Still."

How Did Mary Handle Christmas Eve?

Gazing at a Nativity Set, it's hard for me to imagine anything less than a serene stable filled with the glory of God on the night Jesus was born.

Maybe that's why my desire this morning to sort-of panic about all the last-minute things I've "put off" in an effort to not have a hustle-bustle-kind-of-holiday season seems so wrong.


It's not like I'm getting ready to bring the Son of God to earth or anything.

It's not like the whole world is waiting on me to deliver the Messiah.




I just need pictures printed at Rite-Aid.

And I wish I had one more gift for dad.

And I need to pack my suitcase.

And I'm wondering how little David is doing...he's at the doctor's with a fever. Sad smile

And.......the list goes on and on.


So, this morning as I think of the calm, silent night that we sing about at church,

I find myself getting a little tickled at the thought of the pre-Christmas happenings that may have occurred before the image of the Nativity scene we hold close in our hearts actually happened.


Did Mary find herself a little overwhelmed with her surroundings?

Did Joseph feel like an inadequate husband as he fluffed the straw around Mary, wishing he had a more comfortable bed to offer his young wife?


Did Mary ever glance up at him and think,

"Seriously, an angel told you I was going to give birth to the Son of God and this is the best you could do?!?"


Did the shepherds  feel empty-handed as they stood in the Presence of the One who had caused the sky to fill with angels announcing his arrival?

The wise men did show up bearing amazing gifts, but if you read the story all the way through you learn that they didn't appear in the Christmas story until Jesus was a toddler.

They really shouldn't put any pressure on us as we prepare for the Christmas season.

After all, even though their gifts were great, they were very late for the celebration.


If you think about it, the true picture of Jesus' birth really only holds four things:

a dirty stable,

a young, inexperienced couple,

some stinky animals,

and some gift-less shepherds.


This morning, as I sit here in need of a shower, ordering last-minute pictures from Rite-Aid while realizing I have about ten more things to do before leaving for my parents,

I'm going to take a deep breath and laugh because God's Story of redemption began in the same way my Christmas Eve is beginning.......


Nothing fancy.

Nothing planned (by the characters in the story).

Nothing perfect.



I'm embracing the real picture of the first Christmas today,

and I'm allowing myself to believe that maybe, just maybe,

Mary felt a little edgy and a little ill-prepared as she prepared for Jesus' arrival.


And it was okay.


Laugh today in spite of your last-minute feelings of inadequacy.


Soak up the moments, no matter how imperfect, unplanned, or simple.


And have a very merry Christmas!


I love you all so much!!!

Baptizing a Christmas Angel

As she entered the room dressed in orange scrubs matching every other girl in the line of inmates,

her dark brown eyes, hollow and empty, drew me in; but it was when she spoke that my heart melted.

As she put her arms around me, she whispered, "My name is Angel."

I hugged her, overwhelmed at the thought of hugging an "angel" in jail.


Little did I know as our time with the girls ended that evening,

Angel would be the one to say she wanted to be baptized.


Frail, sad, and broken,

Angel knew she needed more.

Life without God hadn't worked out too well.

She'd lost a lot along the way, and

she knew she couldn't face another day on her own.


Where do we turn when every direction we've tried turns out to be a dead end?

Who can we trust when we've been hurt by so many we love?


There's only one place to turn that changes everything about today and tomorrow and the next day.

There's only one Person we can trust with every little part of our past, present, and future.


It's in the turning and the trusting that we meet Him who has been waiting patiently for us through every wrong turn and every bad choice.


The Grace-Giver, the Unconditional Savior, the Constant Comforter, the Eternity-Promiser, the Joy-Sustainer.....He longs for all of us to turn and trust.


He'll never force His way into our lives.

He'll never demand more than we can give.

No amount of money can buy what He offers.

But the grace we receive when we surrender to Him frees us from everything this world may see as prison bars.








Angel had it all, and she was ready to lay it all at His feet.

She was ready to show Him that He was hers.


Wholly. Completely.


The only thing she had to offer was herself,

and the only thing He wanted was her.


Worth more than the most extravagant gift under any Christmas tree this year,

grace was waiting to be unwrapped by Angel.


It's waiting to be unwrapped by you.


Over 2,000 years ago, a host of angels sang as the Grace-Giver arrived in a wooden manger.

Last night, the angels sang as the Grace-Giver washed away every ounce of Angel's past in a plastic trough.

IPhone december 204

IPhone december 211

IPhone december 222


Baptizing a Christmas Angel.

Seeing His grace wash over her precious face.


It still amazes me.


I hope His gift of grace amazes you this Christmas.

Accept His gift today.


You'll never receive anything better.



Your Grace Still Amazes Me

(Click the song title above to listen to one of my favorite songs.)

When We Give All We Have

I don't think I truly understood what it meant to "give everything" to God until I finished writing Facing Dawn.

I remember several years ago promising God half of any money made from this book when it was completed.

I knew the strength I needed to survive the deep pain of losing Nick came from Him and Him alone.

When the book released, I began receiving emails and Facebook messages from readers who were being strengthened and encouraged in their own grief journeys.

I suddenly knew this book was God's not my own.

Not one word of Facing Dawn was penned without His Word

inspiring my thoughts,

comforting my pain,

answering my questions,

relieving my doubts,

assuring me that my struggle to find peace and purpose in my pain was acceptable to and understood by Him.

Because I feel so strongly that this book is God's testimony to His faithfulness even in the deepest heartaches of life,

I told my husband I want all the money received from the sales of this book to go back to Him.

This book is my widow's mite dropped into the treasury.

This book is my gift laid down at the feet of Jesus.

It is my offering.

Christmas Gifts 044


Christmas Gifts 047


Because of this book, others who are brokenhearted are being led closer to the heart of God.

At the same time, the orphanage for disabled orphans in Damoh, India, will receive much-needed funding and Todd's journey to work with Good News International,   http://www.gnpi.org/ will be made possible.

(Good News International exists

"To fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14))

As you think about your own life and your own pain, ask God to show you how He wants to use your heartache to reach others with His love and the story of His Son's ultimate sacrifice for mankind.


God never wastes our pain.

God never allows a tear to fall from our eye that does not become a shower of blessing in the future.

He works in ways we cannot see or understand.


Would I trade my heartache and sadness for a different kind of life?

A life where all my kids were living and my home did not know brokenness?



But, my life is not my own.

My journey is not my own.


So, what do I do with all my grief?


I have to give it back to Him.

I have to let Him use it.


I cling to His promises every single day.

My strength comes from His Word and His Word alone.


Psalm 126:5-6 promises,

"Those who sow with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

Those who go out weeping,

carrying seed to sow,

will return with songs of joy,

carrying sheaves with them."

Luke 6:38 says,

"Give, and it will be given to you.

A good measure, pressed down,

shaken together and running over,

will be poured into your lap.

For with the measure you use, it will be

measured to you."

Today, give Him your heartache.

Give Him your questions, your struggles, your doubts, your pain, and your fears.

Then watch Him work.

I have laid my sorrow at His feet day after day for so many years, and I can testify to His faithfulness.


His love is never ending.

His compassion never fails.


Even in your deepest places of pain,

He has not abandoned you.


Give Him your grief.

Trust Him today with your pain.


It's December 18th.

Six more days until Christmas Eve.


Part of me wants to panic as I realize I haven't wrapped the first gift.

I haven't even finished shopping.


But what would that change about today?


When does anxiety ever change reality?

When does worry ever bring peace?


I'm trying to embrace the holiday season this year.

Soak up every minute.

Cherish every shared laugh with family and friends.


I sometimes slip, inviting stress to join me on my journey toward Christmas.


When I do slip, I remind myself of just how silly I become when I allow "me" to replace "Him" in my actions and words.

Alone, I focus on my needs, my expectations, my "to do" lists.

I fill my time with "me-centered" activities.


But when I choose to be quiet,

everything changes.


I hear His voice in the laughter around me.

I feel His love in the hugs of my friends.
I see Him in the twinkling lights,

longing to brighten and make beautiful not just the holiday season but every single day of every single year.


As I venture to work today,

I want to be quiet and listen.


I want the craziness of the countdown to Christmas to be replaced with a serene sense of the season's significance.


Today, take a deep breath.

Soak up every conversation, every shared moment with those around you.


Be still.




a silent and holy night is nearing.

Don't rush it.

Don't stress over it.


Embrace it.

Cherish it.

Be thankful for it.


Make this choice today and see what happens -


"Be still, and know that I am God."

Psalm 46:10






When Little Hands Talk.........

Thanksgiving has become a bittersweet holiday for our family.


A swirling of gratitude with grief.

A kaleidoscope of happy memories mixed with sad ones.

A day of family togetherness, aching with the reality that some we love no longer sit around the table.


It never fails, though.

Somehow Love shows up and warms a room when we least expect it.

And isn't it just like God to show up through a child?


As we stood around the kitchen, visiting, my mom held David.

Normally a busy little guy checking out the world around him,

David spotted something that caught his eye.

With the gentleness of an adult,

he lifted the necklace hanging around my mom's neck.


Thanksgiving and More 2013 092


The necklace holding Nick's thumbprint.


Thanksgiving and More 2013 089

Tuning all of us out, he studied every detail of the tiny heart that holds a piece of Nick's heart.

Nick's last gift to us.


Mom and I wondered in that moment if maybe, must maybe,

David knew more than an ordinary eleven-month-old little guy should know.


Thanksgiving and More 2013 090

Did the eyes of this child see beyond what we can see?

I sort-of think they did.


I think somehow he realized in that moment just how much Mamaw needs his love.


Thanksgiving and More 2013 093

As he carefully clung to the necklace, he reached up and reached out to her face.


In that moment, I saw.......


The love of David for Mamaw.

The love of Mamaw for David.

The hanging on to Nick's memory while reaching out for Mamaw's presence.


David's little hands talked to me on Thanksgiving Day.


They said,

"Hang on gently to what you've lost, but don't miss what you have."


God speaks in the most unusual and unexpected ways,

and for a few moments on Thanksgiving Day He chose to speak to us through the hands of a child.


God longs to speak to you today.


No hands are too small to deliver His message.

No moment too insignificant for Him to speak.


Open your eyes.

Open your ears.


Don't let His message for you slip by unnoticed.


Long ago, Jesus entered this world in a manger.

Many missed His arrival because of the hustle and bustle of everyday life.



The shepherds looked up and saw the angels,


the wise men looked up and saw the star.


Slow down today.

Look up today.

Expect Him today.

He may even speak through a child.


He's done it before!


And there were shepherds living out

in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  

An angel of the Lord appeared to

them, and the glory of the Lord

shone around them, and they were


 But the angel said to them, "Do not

be afraid. I bring you good news that

will cause great joy for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Savior

has been born to you; he is the

Messiah, the Lord.

This will be a sign to you: You will

find a baby wrapped in cloths and

lying in a manger."

Luke 2:8-12

The Only Word Worth Sharing

I sat with an ink pen this morning and a piece of decorative paper,

attempting to write a note to one of my friend's co-worker who recently lost his daughter.


I found myself fully aware that there are no right words worth sharing in a time of such deep sorrow.

Absolutely nothing that came into my head that seemed fitting.


The truth is there are no words in the human language that can soften the sharp pain of a tragic loss.


What do we do when we find ourselves wordless?


We make a choice.


We either fill the air with empty words and risk saying the wrong thing


admit that we are wordless and let God speak.


This morning, I am thankful that God knew from the very beginning that we would often find ourselves wordless,

so He chose to begin creation with the one Word that could fill all of our wordlessness with meaning.


In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

John 1:1

Jesus is the only Word that stands the test of time.

He is in the midst of all of our joy and all of our pain.

He walked a road of pain and suffering so we would know we are not alone in ours.

He conquered death so that we could somehow face our grief.

He promises eternal life so we can face temporary separation from those we love.

When someone is grieving, they do not need a lot of words.

They really just need one.


If you find yourself at a loss of words today as you face your own pain or the pain of someone you love,

look to Him who is enough.

El Shaddai - The God That Is More Than Enough

He who keeps His Word and who has the final word is the only Word we need today.

Turn to Him, the Living Word, today.


Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus is one of the songs we shared at Adrienne's funeral.

Dad helped us chose this song because of its powerful message, and I am forever thankful.


This is where I turn when I am struggling to face the pain of this life.


The Only Word with the power to change everything.

The Only Word worth sharing.



Surviving the Perfect Storm

When my friend Anita and I ventured to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2009

to attend a Beth Moore conference,

we had no idea how life-changing this weekend would be for both of us.


We've both been through some pretty big storms in life.

We've both clung to God when the strength to hold on was the only strength we had left.

We've both wondered, "Why?"

We've both come up short with answers.


So, as we sat in the audience and the lights lowered and a video began to play showing a clip from the trailer of the movie,

"A Perfect Storm,"

we were curious.

Was Beth Moore promoting a movie?

Why were watching a scene of a ship tossed around at sea?



This just didn't feel like the beginning of a regular Beth Moore conference.

And it wasn't.



This conference was link none other I had ever attended.

Anytime I get to attend a Beth Moore event, my life is changed.

But this Pittsburgh weekend may have been the most significant event in my grief journey.


I had been a smaller event of Beth's, a minister's wives' retreat just a few months before and Beth had actually prayed over me and told me that she prophesied that one day "I would be whole."

I shared about that memory in a couple of posts in the spring of 2009.

You can read them by clicking HERE and HERE.


But I had no idea that just months later,

I would once again have the unexpected opportunity to sit and learn from Beth again and in her message I would receive words that have not only strengthened me and changed me but also given me words to share with others who face terrible storms in life.


I was reminded of this message this morning as my Bible reading was from the very same part of the Bible from which Beth spoke in the summer of 2009.


In Acts 27, Paul and other prisoners are being taken from city to another to appeal to Caesar.

On the way, a storm overtakes their ship and the 276 men on board are certain this is the end.

Paul receives a visit from an angel who promises that they will all survive and he shares these words with the terrified sailors.

There's powerful lessons throughout the time the ship is tossed at sea, and I'll share those lessons on another day;

but for today, I want to share what happens after the ship is destroyed as it runs into the rocks near the coast of an unknown island.


First, everyone survives just as Paul promised.

Then the men all make it safely to land either by swimming or being pulled in on pieces of the capsized ship.

But what happens next is my most favorite part of the shipwreck story.


Paul finds himself immediately in the midst of island natives and begins helping them gather wood for a fire.

Beth talked about the fact that after we survive a perfect storm we often find ourselves doing very mundane, everyday kind-of tasks very quickly.

She shared about how it is important to keep on keeping on even when we feel that what we have survived was enough to make us stop doing everything out of exhaustion.


Picking up sticks.

I wonder if Paul thought to himself, "I have nearly died.  I have been visited by an angel of the Lord.  I have kept 275 men calm, and now I am picking up sticks???? REALLY???"


That's the first lesson that hit me between the eyes.


Life isn't about big, glamorous victory stories.

Life isn't about fame and glory.


Life is about picking up sticks.

Keeping the fire going wherever we find ourselves.

Doing what needs to be done next.....over and over again.

That's what we do after we have survived a perfect storm.


The second lesson is incredible.

As Paul is doing what needs to be done,

a poisonous snake leaps from the fire and grabs hold of his arm, biting him.

The island people are certain that he is a wicked man and that because he somehow survived the shipwreck he is now going to be killed by the snake.


But Paul shakes the snake from his arm and shows no signs of being affected by the poison that has entered his body.

The island people immediately think he is a god because of his ability to survive this moment.



Beth makes this statement about that part of the story:


"After you have survived the perfect storm, the devil is all bite.  No venom."

And that statement has changed me ever since.


She went on to talk about the fact that even though we have survived the perfect storm the devil will still try to bring us down.

He never stops trying.

He often tries over and over again as we struggle to just do the next simple thing in life.

Even in the picking up of sticks, the devil will try to find a way to get us.


But because we have survived something greater, something huge,

we have the power to shake him off into the fire.


He cannot destroy us anymore.

His venom has no strength.


So many times since Nick has died,

I have felt the bite of satan.

I have been discouraged, attacked, and overwhelmed,

but I remember Paul's story and Beth's words and I suddenly know that I have a choice in every difficult situation.


I can shake the devil off into the fire.


After you have survived the perfect storm,

you can too.


And I'm here to tell you that YOU CAN SURVIVE THE PERFECT STORM.

God will bring you through the toughest, darkest days,

and one day you will find yourself picking up sticks for a fire.


Then you will learn that even in the regular, everyday kind-of life we must life,

the devil is there too.




Trying to bring you down in little ways over and over again.


But he can't.


You have survived the perfect storm and nothing can stop you now.


Today, you may be in the storm or you may be picking up sticks.


No matter where you find yourself today,

be encouraged and strengthened.



and the devil has no power.



You are a survivor of storms and snakebites!


Smile today as you walk with Him who promises victory not once but for eternity!!

The Significance of Today

Today is 12/12/13.

Possibly an important date in your life.

Maybe a day you will celebrate for some reason or another.

But, statistically, this day is more than likely just another day on the calendar for most of you.

The second Thursday in December.

Twelve days before Christmas Eve.


For our family, today is significant.

Today marks the celebration of David's first birthday.

Remember, our 12/12/12 baby??

Here is my post the day after his very special arrival into our lives - CLICK HERE to read about that special day.


David arrived as a gift to our hurting family.

He revived the spirit of Christmas and he brought a new reason for love and laughter to all of our hearts.

For us, December 12th will forever be significant because it is a reminder of this little gift to our family.


david joseph two

So, today, we say "Happy First Birthday!" to our little bundle of joy!

Here he is now!

davidnbirthday 021

As I think about how much we love this little guy and how he has changed everything about our family's life,

I realize that all of you have people in your lives who hold special places.

All of you have family members and friends whose birthdays you celebrate.

Your life has been made better by the appearance of someone.


Maybe it's a new baby.

Maybe it's a new co-worker.

Maybe it's a new neighbor.

Maybe it's a new "special someone" who brightens every day.


Whoever it is, when you think of them you know your life improved because of their presence.

To you, their birthday or the day you met or the day you decided to commit to a more serious relationship is a day worth celebrating.



That's what we do.

We celebrate life with significant people.

We commemorate special days.

We throw parties.

We send cards.

We bring gifts.

We give thanks.

We share life.


So, how can we question just how significant Jesus is to the entire world?

Who else has a birthday that is celebrated by people who don't even acknowledge Him as that special?

Who else has a birthday that causes everyone to give?

Honestly, many people  who put up trees, hang lights, buy presents, throw parties, and enjoy time off work don't really understand or care about the One for whom the season holds value.





Talk about a birthday NOONE can forget.

Imagine if the day you were born began a new way of measuring time.


Yes, today is special to our family.
We celebrate and give thanks for our little gift.


He probably didn't change your world, but He did change ours.


Jesus, on the other hand, longs to change all of our lives.

In many ways, He has changed all of our lives even if we try to deny Him.


Most celebrations are limited to close friends and family,

but Jesus' invitation is open to all mankind.


The greatest gift of all longs to give to you.


He doesn't just offer a gift.

He doesn't just offer a party.

He offers peace.

He offers rest.

He offers life.



For God so loved the world that he

gave his one and only Son, that

whoever believes in him shall not

perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Peace I leave with you; my peace I

give you. I do not give to you as the

world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled

and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

Come to me, all you who are weary

and burdened, and I will give you


Matt. 11:28

Then Jesus declared,

"I am the bread of life.

Whoever comes to me will never go


and whoever believes in me will

never be thirsty."

John 6:35

Today, as our family celebrates the gift of David who entered our life on 12/12/12,

I hope you'll take time to reflect on just how special the gift of a tiny baby born in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago is to you.

Today is significant in all of our lives,

because we all have a reason

to rejoice!

When Mary Wrapped Jesus in Swaddling Cloths

I wonder what she was thinking.

A young mom.

A stable filled with shepherds not nurses and doctors.

Not even her mom to share in the joy.

A manger for a crib.

Straw for the bedding.

On so many levels, there was nothing sterile or easy about the world  Jesus entered.


Yet nothing is said about Mary complaining or questioning this night.


No, the Bible only mentions three things that Mary does on this night we have long since called "Holy."


She wrapped Jesus in swaddling cloths.

She laid Him in a manger.

And she treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.


I'd love to know what Mary was thinking as she wrapped Jesus up and placed Him in the straw.

Did she realize she was wrapping up the Savior of the world?


As His tiny little hands touched hers,

could she feel the healing power He would bring to a messed-up world?


As she counted each little toe,

could she even imagine where His feet would walk and the message of peace they would bring as He traveled?


Did Mary look into His little dark eyes and see a reflection of herself?

Did she feel inadequate, unprepared, unqualified for such a role of mothering?


Did God somehow slip down with Jesus and bring her an extra bit of peace and strength to make it through all this role would ask of her?


I hope I get a chance to walk down a street of gold one day with Mary and talk about that night.

Why do I think we might laugh as she reflects on the memory?


Why do I think there are funny stories not recorded in the Bible about things she said to Joseph in the stress of the moment or

things the shepherds tried to say as they stumbled over their words in the presence of a baby king laying in hay?


Mary wrapped our Savior in swaddling cloths.

She laid Him in a manger.

She treasured up the memories and ponder all that happened.


And she trusted God with the rest of the story.


What is God asking us to wrap up and lay down today?

What is God asking us to treasure up and ponder?


Today, think about Mary's simple faith in the midst of a not-so-simple life.


God was with her in the stable.


And because of His arrival in a tiny town in Bethlehem,

He's with us today.


If Mary could lay down Jesus and trust God with the rest of the story,

surely we can trust Him with our story too.

Snow Days and Heaven

Snow Days

We watch the sky with great expectation.

Heavy with winter, the clouds promise a gift.


White perfection.

Quieting the sounds of this world.

Muffling everyday noises to near nothingness.

Peace - right in the middle of everything that seems less than peaceful.

Kids long for them because they understand the gift.

Weary teachers dance for them because they long for rest.

Snow Days


We watch the sky with great expectation.

Heavy with this world's burdens, the clouds promise a gift.



Quieting the sounds of this world.

Muffling everyday noises to near nothingness.

Peace - right in the middle of everything that seems less than peaceful.

Kids love the thought of this place because they understand the gift.

Weary Christians dance for the promise of this place because they long for rest.


Maybe snow days are just a metaphor with kids and teachers being part of the figurative language,

showing the world what it looks like to truly long for Heaven.


"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy,

the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.

Probably earthly pleasures were never really meant to satisfy, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing...

I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death...

I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same."

(C. S. Lewis)


I'm not sure what you are longing for today,

but I hope that in the midst of this Christmas season you will take time to look to the sky with great expectation,

knowing that while Jesus longs for us to live abundant lives while we are here,

embracing every snow day with the joy of a child,

He promises more in the life to follow than this world can ever offer.

He will come again!

Embrace that promise!


For our citizenship is in heaven, from

which also we eagerly wait for a

Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ

Phil. 3:20

Then I saw "a new heaven and a new


for the first heaven and the first

earth had passed away,

and there was no longer any sea. 

I saw the Holy City, the new


coming down out of heaven from


prepared as a bride beautifully

dressed for her husband.

Rev. 21:1-2


How Weaknesses Work

clay jar



The hurts of life can easily lead to hard shells when we put up walls of human strength.

These walls, while giving the appearance of strength, can lead to loneliness and feelings of despair.


I challenge you today to tear down any walls that keep the world out of your pain.


Don't be afraid to tell a friend,

"I'm struggling.  I can't do life on my own"


When the treasures of life are stored in weak, every-day kind-of jars,

people begin to see that our strength comes from something bigger than us.


When we allow God to carry us,

our steps are lighter even though are hearts may be heavy.


When we let go of the desire to "have everything under control,"

God suddenly steps in and says, "I've got it all under control."


I love that God works in upside-down ways.


He strengthens the weak.

He gives rest to the weary.

He comforts the hurting.

He uses the broken.

He calls the imperfect.


How do we show the world the strength that comes from God???


Believe it or not,

we show God's strength by exposing our own frailty.


We show God's glory by not needing our own.


God uses us the most when we have the least to offer.


If you're feeling somewhat broken, weak, or discouraged,

be encouraged;


Someone is going to see God in you today.


If you long to feel empowered,

allow God to be the source of all your strength.


He loves to store His treasures in weak, every-day kind-of jars.


But we have this treasure in jars of

clay to show that this all-surpassing

power is from God and not from us.

We are hard pressed on every side,

but not crushed;

perplexed,but not in despair;

 persecuted, but not abandoned;

struck down, but not destroyed.

II Cor. 4:7-9

Forcing Words

The awkwardness of silence often causes people to speak before thinking.

Filing the air with empty words,

we talk when we have absolutely nothing to say.


I've been on the receiving end of empty words many times in my grief.

People want to make you feel better, so they say things like,


"Time heals."

"God will bring good from your pain."

"God has a plan."


I've often wondered how God feels when we throw Him around in conversations just to keep the air moving.


I've felt the sting of His arrival way too early in a conversation, but I've spoken too early many times myself.


In the midst of a tough situation,

I've often forced words.


Trite cliches have slipped from my lips, and even as it's happened I've been dying inside,

knowing that my words are so empty, even hurtful, in the midst of such great pain.


So, what should we do when we find ourselves wordless?

What should we say when absolutely no words have value when laid beside the deep need for answers?


As someone who has longed for answers at times when no answers made sense,

I suggest that when we find ourselves wordless we should remain quiet.


Allow the awkwardness of silence to invite God's presence into a room rather than trying to force Him in quickly.


God was silent for 400 years before sending Jesus in the form of a baby.


I have to wonder if the people that lived during that time of silence didn't feel the awkwardness of no prophets, no miracles, no revelations.


I have to wonder if people didn't sit around and discuss the promises of Isaiah and think,

"When will God send this so-called Messiah?"

"Will God ever show up?"


Sometimes in our lives, we feel the silence of God as we pray.

We wonder if He'll ever show up.

We struggle with the silence.


This morning I'm thinking that if God was okay with 400 years of silence,

we need to be okay with His silence too.


And we need to be okay with quiet rooms filled with no answers.


Today, if you find yourself in need of answers or the right words and you don't have any,

just share love instead of words.


Share a hug instead of a solution.

Embrace the silence of God in your own life.


Allow the silence of the moment to usher in Someone whose Presence arrives as tenderly as a newborn babe on Christmas morning.


We don't need to force words or answers or His Presence, because He already proved that He knows when and how to show up with the only Word that matters.


Luke 2:6-7

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.

I'm thankful today for His Word, Jesus.

Because of Him, there is no need for me to force words.

On a silent and holy night,

God spoke.

And life changed for all mankind.

Past, Present, and Future.

When Children Speak

If there's one thing I would do over as a mom (and there's more like a hundred things),

it would be writing down more of the cute things my kids said over the years.


From time to time, people share memories of things they did or said (some sweet - some embarrassing),

and I think to myself, "I don't even remember that moment."


Keeping a journal would have done two things for me as a mom:


It would have made me a better listener


It would have given me something to cherish today.




I can't go back.


I can't relive those wonderful years as a mom of young children.


So, what can I do now that my kids are grown?


I can listen.


I can also write down memories that come to me from the past or memories that are shared by others.


I don't want to live a life "wishing I could have another chance,"

because I'll miss today.


But I do want to learn from the past so that I can encourage others to do better than I did in the area of listening.


When children speak, it matters.


Every question.

Every comment.


Kids speak with honest hearts.

They speak without wondering what the world will think.


Anyone who lives with children or works with children should listen closely.


We may never be closer to God than when we are in the presence of children.


Today, I get to be with seven year olds all day long.

I'm excited.

Believe me, my ears will be wide open.


Yesterday, I was with high school kids.

I've decided that they are just like little kids in many ways only taller.

They need love.

They need encouragement.

They need people to listen.



I'm not sure where you'll be today,

but I hope that wherever you are and whoever you're around,

you'll be listening.


God often whispers in the most unexpected ways.

Don't miss Him.


Hoping you'll share something you hear today.

When Wounds Are Deep

Yesterday morning as I was opening a new bottle of coffee creamer,

I decided it would be easier to push in the metal protective seal rather than peeling it off (this was not a great decision).

As I pushed the metal to the edges, it became a weapon and my finger became the target.


I won't go into descriptive detail; I'll just say this.

The cut was deep enough to probably require a stitch or two and several band-aids later, I had to change to two band-aids wrapped tightly on top of each other to get through the morning.

I just couldn't bring myself to go to the doctor with a coffee-creamer-lid injury.


Last night, Olivia and I worked in her bedroom for several hours.

We purged.

We rearranged furniture.

We evaluated every basket full of hair supplies and lotion and decided what should stay and what should go.

In the midst of this moving of dressers and other pieces of furniture,

my band-aids came off and my morning wound showed no signs of healing.

I didn't realize it had been exposed for a few minutes and by the time I did,

several fingers were affected by the flow of blood.

It was as if no time had passed in the healing process.


I found myself once again trying to wrap enough band-aids around my finger to keep it from making a bigger mess.

I'm sure the scar from my carelessness will be with me forever,

and I'm beginning to wonder just how long it's going to take for this cut to heal.


My heart is a lot like this finger injury.

I have some deep wounds.

I have some wounds I have tried to wrap up on my own through the years.

I have some wounds that still need lots of protection in order to keep others nearby from being affected by the mess.


Yesterday morning, my heart band-aid fell off leaving a deep wound gaping.

It was small words really.

Probably half-teasing.

Probably not even remembered by the tongues involved.


But when a wound has no protection,

things get messy quickly.


And I found myself with nothing to wrap over the exposed pain.


As my co-worker started to share about our plan for the morning,

I listened, nodding my head.

But I knew there was no pretending.

I knew that without some sort of protection I wasn't going to make it through the next hour, the next minute.

So I just said,

"I'm sorry.  If I say what is on my mind right now, I'm going to cry......"

And then, as if on cue, the tears began to roll and thankfully the library we were in had a box of Kleenex and thankfully she listened as I released a bit of my heartache and then she allowed me to go see my friend who is a school counselor.  And thankfully my friend was in her office and she held me while I wept and wept and wept some more.


Deep wounds are hard to heal.

And it doesn't take a lot to reopen them when your heart is involved.

And even though I try to be strong, and I try to keep my heart wrapped tightly in the protection of God's love and strength,

I have moments when I can't take any more.

And yesterday morning the bandage wore out,

and I found myself unprotected from pain.


Have you been there?


Has someone hurt you with his/her words who didn't even know what they were doing?


I don't cry very easily anymore.

I use to cry often.


But when I reach the breaking point, the point of weak bandages,

my tears make crocodile tears look tiny;

and ugly probably doesn't even describe the experience.

I discovered yesterday, though, that in my time of weakness,

several others noticed and shared their own deep wounds with me.

In my pain,

they seemed to have permission to be okay with theirs.

I love how God works through puffy eyes, no mascara, and a softened heart.


I'm better now.

I've talked it out.

I've rewrapped the pain and come to grips with the fact that it's okay to not always be strong.

I've made a few decisions about how to handle future days of weakness.



So this morning, as I type with one finger well-bandaged and a little awkward on the keyboard,

I'm thinking about my heart and how it struggles with some awkwardness itself as it tries to beat while being wrapped tightly, somewhat protected from an occasionally cruel world.


Do you have some deep wounds that need extra protection?

Do you ever find yourself reaching a place of weak bandages where the deepness of your wounds can no longer be hidden?


If so, don't be afraid to talk to somebody.

Don't try to wrap your wounds up on your own over and over again.

Reach out to someone who loves you and let the messiness of your wound be exposed now and then.


Healing comes in time;

but when wounds are deep, the healing is slow.

And the scars are permanent.


Today's another day.

Another chance to face the world.

I'm making sure my wounds are wrapped tightly in His love this morning,

but I'm fully aware that even when the wrapping loosens and the wound is exposed,

God is still there and He chooses to work in different ways.

Ways that require the messiness of my deep wounds.

He may need the messiness of yours today too.

So, whether you feel

strong or weak,

safe or exposed,

secure or vulnerable,

know this:





When I am weak, then I am strong.

II Cor. 12:10

He heals the brokenhearted

and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

Monday Morning Perspective

Yesterday as I was thinking about what I might write about this morning on my blog,

I kept thinking about the fact that many of us would be going back to work after a holiday break with our family.

I wondered if many of us would be struggling with the early-morning routine and the facing once again of whatever it is that our job requires of us.

I wondered if some of  us might go to places where what we believe about life or about Jesus or about what the Christmas season means to us may not be popular.


Then I read about Paul in the book of Acts.


Reading about his missionary journeys, his frequent imprisonments, his routine beatings because of the words he shared,

I realized that I have no idea what it means to have a difficult life.

I realized that I can't even grasp what it means to take a stand for what I believe in even at the risk of being persecuted.

Typing away on my keyboard, I have the courage to say anything I want about my belief in Jesus.

But what if I knew that with every click I was putting my life at risk?

What if I knew that as I clicked "publish,"

there would be a banging on my door and a good possibility that I would lose my life because of my faith?


Nothing stopped Paul or discouraged him from pressing on to the next sermon, the next town, the next opportunity to share Jesus,

and I felt ashamed that part of me wants to stay curled up in my safe home behind my safe keyboard.

I wondered what would change about who I am and what I had to say about life if things weren't so safe for me.


I remember getting off the train in a remote part of India several years ago and being told that we had entered a region of the country where Christians were being beaten and sometimes killed because of their faith.

I was absolutely terrified.

I wondered how in the world our family had ended up in such a place without knowing it would be that dangerous.


I'm not sure how I would handle a day-in-and-day-out-kind-of life where the entire foundation of my belief system was considered worthy of persecution,

but I do know this:


A Monday morning of getting ready for work and facing a job is NOTHING compared with facing possible death because of Jesus.


If I can't get out there and live for him in a world where I am safe to believe in the power of the resurrection,

how in the world do I think I could ever make it in a world where it wasn't safe?


I don't know what the future holds,

but I'm sensing that some day I may have more to face on a Monday morning than dress clothes and fellow employees.


So, this morning, even though my family room is cozy and the lights on the Christmas tree beckon me to stay nearby,

I am going to be thankful for a day when I can work and love and live and share the Hope and joy of Christmas without fear of persecution or death.


Thank you, Paul, for pressing on and praising God even from a prison cell.


Surely I can go to work or do whatever else is asked of me today while praising God all along the way!


Psalm 100:1-5

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 

Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the LORD is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

About Me