Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saving a Life

I have ongoing contact with the abortion-minded women I counsel who choose life. It is the best part of the Cities4life ministry. They follow the women as long as the crisis exists, trying their best to aid with the difficulties that arise from the decision for life. One of these young ladies has texted often to update me on the progress of her pregnancy, overjoyed with the miracle of the baby moving within her. She is so grateful for the pro-life sidewalk counselors who minister outside the abortion mills, and asked me many questions about how I became one. I told her she should write her story and I would help circulate it, because it might help someone else struggling (as she once was) over such a terrible decision as to kill their own baby. She agreed, now ardently pro-life, that she would do that at some point. She sent me a remarkable text yesterday. I read it, and asked if I could share it. She gave me permission. Here is the text that made me dance on clouds:

"Sorry to bother you, but you were absolutely right! My story does help change people's minds about abortion. I have a friend who found out she was 6 weeks pregnant yesterday. She was considering abortion because the dad is an alcoholic and abusive. I told her my story and about how you helped me and even pulled up a picture of how big her baby was. She called me this morning crying and guess what??  She left the mean man and she's KEEPING the baby!! :)"

I feel a bit like a proud grandmother. We are commanded as believers to share the truth of God's love, mercy, grace, and atoning sacrifice of His son, Jesus. It is not easy, and often accompanied by ridicule, rejection, and frankly, humiliation at times. But if everyone who came to know the indescribable gift of life in Christ just told one other person...imagine how quickly His light would reach every corner of darkness.

"You go girl," I texted back, "Shout it from the mountaintops. You just saved a life."

 If you would like to be a part of this incredible ministry, please go to Donations are always welcome if you are unable to be involved in the front line ministry itself.

Matthew 28:19 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Mark 16:15 

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Matthew 24:14 

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Galatians 6:9 

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

2 Timothy 3:16 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

Psalm 96:3 

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Deceptive Surface

The meeting I had planned for yesterday fell through, so after finishing my work, I had a free afternoon for kayaking! I could have been working on promoting my new book (which, btw, is available at ) , but decided I needed the beauty and peace of God's creation first.

When I arrived at the launch site, there was someone loading a kayak on her car who looked familiar. Then I remembered she was the person who taught my daughter Asherel's first agility class so many years ago with our dear Honeybun. She didn't think we were ready for an agility trial when we signed up for one, but was willing to give us some help anyway. As it turned out, Honeybun won first place in her beginner level competition and proved she was indeed ready. I walked over, and said, "I know you, but I am blanking on your name."
"Deb," she said, then recognized me, "Oh, I remember your dog, Honeybun."
(Dog people rarely remember the owners, but they never forget the dog.)
We exchanged brief catch-ups on our lives and I asked her how the river was, since she had just finished kayaking.

"The current is really strong," she said, "Head upstream on your way out."
I glanced at the river. The water looked mirror smooth. I can usually tell just by looking at the river what the current is like. I would never have imagined it was moving fast beneath such a placid surface.

Still, I thanked Deb for the advice, and launched onto the glassy water. I had no trouble going out against the current but after half an hour of paddling upstream, realized I had not gotten nearly as far as I normally do in half an hour. The current was deceptively strong.

I thought about how so often people fool us in a similar way. They look so together, so peaceful, so happy, so confident on the outside. However, dig very deeply into anyone's life and you hit rocks. Nothing is ever as smooth and tranquil as it seems. And then, some folks are terrible, rotten people on the outside, but covering a soul that is nonetheless precious to God. I had read just that morning a post from a fellow pro-life sidewalk counselor about one of the most vile bouncers (parking lot guard) at the abortion mill where I volunteer. He is hateful, often drunk, belligerent towards us, and obscene in language and gestures. His name is, ironically, Lazarus. Two days ago, one of the counselors offered Lazarus some donuts, out of her heartfelt love of God and desire to love even her enemies as God loves us. Lazarus was astounded, and admitted that he had recently lost his home, and his car, and was actually very hungry with little money for food. He apologized for his behavior and thanked her for the donuts. It made me desire to pray more ardently for Lazarus, that he would indeed see the truth of the Gospel, change his heart and his job, and metaphorically be raised from the dead like his Biblical namesake.

As I turned to race back to shore on the current that was somehow hidden beneath the tranquil waters, I thought how careful we should all be before making assumptions that what we see on the outside is really what there is on the inside as well. I hope the realization will make me a little gentler, a little more forgiving of others, and a little more careful with them, knowing that every person was called into being by a loving God.


Isaiah 43:1 

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1-28 

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.

John 10:14-15 

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 10:3 

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

Psalm 139:1-24 

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sowing Seeds

I read my Facebook updates a couple of days ago from fellow abortion mill pro-life sidewalk counselors with horror: a shooting had occurred right behind the mill. Helicopters were all over the sky within moments, and the counseling team wisely chose to leave while the manhunt continued.

As I was reading an update that the gunman had not been apprehended, and it had apparently been a random shooting, my counselor friend texted me: Going to the abortion mill to join the Wednesday team. Want to join me?"

Sure. Just let me grab my bullet proof vest and face mask. My normal day at the mill is Monday, but it was closed for Memorial Day. Does the irony of that not floor you? The center for killing babies closes to memorialize the memory of soldiers killed defending our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I wonder if the abortionist enjoyed a picnic in memory of the honored dead? What a strange juxtaposition of legally sanctioned murder of babies, and memorializing the dead who freed us from tyranny. Now throw into the symbolic mishmash an indiscriminate gunner on the loose shooting innocent strangers in the vicinity of the abortion mill. No wonder I ventured out with trepidation. I made a special point of kissing my family goodbye and telling them I loved them.

It was a very hot day and the sun beat down mercilessly. However, there were no gunshots this day, though there were a few close calls with cars speeding into the abortion mill. There was only one saved baby that we knew of. While I was there, one of the women I had counseled several weeks ago texted me. She was feeling overwhelmed and lonely. She needed a friend to talk to, but had none. Since she lives an hour away, it is hard to be physically present for her, but I offered to come visit if she would like. She would, so we set up a meeting for today. While texting her, I saw the name of another "save" from some weeks ago.  That woman, "N", had seemed shaky in her choice to let her baby live. I had texted her shortly afterwards to let her know I was praying for her, but she had not responded. Sadly, as the weeks went by and I heard nothing more from her, I feared she had decided to abort after all. But as I considered the other woman who was keeping her baby, but needed a friend, I decided to text "N" again. Post-abortive women need support as well.

"How are you?" I texted, "I have been praying for you. This is Vicky, the pro-life sidewalk counselor from the abortion clinic."
She texted back instantly, "Fine. Everything is going well."
I felt a flutter of hope and took a chance, texting, "How far along are you now?" Would she answer that all was well because she had killed the baby?
"12 weeks," she texted. I wanted to dance for joy. She had kept the baby!
She promised me she would send a picture when the baby was born, and thanked me for my prayers.

I thought of the many women we saw leaving the abortion mill in tears yesterday. Everything would never be "fine" for them again. Visions of gunshots and hot sun notwithstanding, I was grateful I had been at the mill that day and privileged to see one baby saved, but the face seared in my memory was of the very young woman driving out of the abortion mill with tears streaming down her face.


Ecclesiastes 11:4-6

He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Matthew 25:14-30

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money.

Ecclesiastes 11:1-3 

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth, and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cautious Turtles

On my wonderful return to kayaking yesterday (after nearly 3 weeks of travel), I noticed that there are distinctly two character qualities in the river turtles. There are the cautious turtles and the less cautious turtles. When I kayaked by a log of 10 turtles, two plopped immediately into the water. The others watched me, poised to leap. One or two ignored me, apparently unconcerned. I was still about twenty feet away so not a huge threat. I am sure more than 80% would have scrammed if I were closer. I could discern no apparent difference in the external characteristics of the cautious vs. the incautious turtles. Of course, I had little time to watch the cautious ones as they would slip into the water as soon as I approached.

When I got home, I went online to see if anyone had researched what makes some turtles Type A (cautious/tautly wired) personalities and what the ramifications are for long life. Would you believe there is almost nothing about this riveting topic? What is wrong with people? They spend millions researching whether there are differences between boys and girls, which is answered with one word in two seconds flat: yes.  However, except for one line about caution in turtles, I could find no research on cautious turtles. The one thing I did discover is that the "False Map Turtle" is much more cautious in nature than the "Painted Turtle." In fact, the writer noted that if you approach a log in Minnesota (where the False Map Turtle lives) and all but a few turtles dive-bomb into the water, the remaining turtles are without a doubt Painted Turtles. False Map Turtles are wary. So do they live longer? Or does the stress of being on high alert kill them at a younger age? Again, not a word on the subject.

So I did some digging. The False Map Turtle has been known to live 35 years in captivity. The experts all agree that in the wild, that long life is certainly reduced. BUT GET THIS! The Painted Turtle has been known to live 55 years!!! Now, while my research is not as rigidly controlled as my PhD thesis on the subject would be, it seems to indicate that caution kills. The incautious Painted Turtle lives a full twenty years longer than the wary False Map Turtle.

In fact, a little more digging revealed that the Painted Turtle is said to have been in existence for 15 million years. (That is, if you don't buy the Young Earth Theory.) AND, the Painted Turtle is the most common turtle in America because it has learned to live in the human-disturbed habitats, unlike other turtles who frankly despise humans and often gather underwater in prayer sessions asking God why He made mankind, considering all the havoc and unrest stemming from that "mistake."  All these facts when considered together lend further support to my hypothesis that caution kills.

I think God would agree. Unlike research information on cautious turtles, the Bible is replete with verses about not being anxious. We are told that perfect love casts out fear. Faith in the strength and protection of God casts away worry. Trust in God's provision casts away doubt. It is clear that anxiety is not consistent with the bountiful life in Christ we believers should have.

Still, this is difficult for high-alert types like me. We don't easily calm. If I were a turtle, for sure I would be a False Map turtle, and equally assuredly, I would be the first one off the log. I will probably lose out on twenty years of life.

I veered a little closer in my kayak to one log covered with turtles. Eventually, one by one, each turtle slipped into the water as I approached. Finally, only one large turtle remained. He gazed at me, unperturbed. I knew if I kept coming closer, he would finally leave his warm perch and drop into the river but I felt I had gathered enough data for the day. Besides, he was such a faithful turtle. He deserved peace.


Isaiah 41:10 

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Philippians 4:6-7 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 56:3

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

2 Timothy 1:7 

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Matthew 6:25-34 

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Deuteronomy 31:6 

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Psalm 34:4 

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lifting My Eyes

You never know how God will speak to you. I am urging you all to never give up, never lose hope. God sometimes sends answers to prayer in most unexpected ways. I was walking my sweet Honeybun around the block, musing over troubling issues when I ran into Roxan, my wise friend who also owns a Carolina Dog. She told me about how her dog is slowly being transformed by a remarkable trainer. Her poor dog is gentle and obedient, but lives in constant fear of anything unfamiliar. Roxan said she found the issue overwhelming and she and the dog were in a constant state of tension. Since Roxan is a problem solver who likes to take action, she diligently worked to correct the problem, never losing sight of the issue, never letting up. The problem, if anything, got worse. Roxan explained that the trainer was teaching her to not think about the issue, but to focus on the moment, on the miniscule gains made in a calm, and stress-free environment. Expect and look for the tiniest steps of courage from the dog, and reward them lavishly. It would take a long time, but the trainer assured her that by "shaping" the dog's behavior in this way, ultimately she would learn to rely on herself and realign her fearful thoughts. For six weeks, Roxan saw little result...and then suddenly, her fearful dog began to do things she had never done before. Slowly, the dog began to make progress towards being the dog she was meant to be.

Two major lessons Roxan learned:
1. Change takes time. Be patient. If you don't think you are patient enough, change your self-defeating thoughts.
2. Notice the tiniest positives and reward them. They will grow.

This is not unlike the way God works in our lives. God always meets us where we are and never pushes us to become what we should be any faster than we are able. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin, and He sees it no more. God is an encourager and knows we can be better, and eternal blessing accompanies each tottering step we take in that direction. Little by little, if we don't lose heart, we are becoming more like Christ, which is the goal.

"I think I was sent to speak to you today," said Roxan, noticing my teary eyes.
I nodded and thanked her, my spirit infused with hope and joy at the way God used a dog to teach me exactly what I needed to hear that day.


I will lift my eyes unto the hills, to where my help comes from. My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

Monday, May 26, 2014

Grateful Memorial Day

There is nothing like walking in the door after being gone two weeks and having two happy dogs greet you. After that wonderful hello, and all the unpacking done, the next most wonderful moment was settling into my favorite comfortable chair, which no hotel chair can hope to match. And the third most wonderful moment was ordering pizza so the weary travelers didn't have to cook. Ah home!!

On my last 5 mile run of my travels yesterday morning, the city was very quiet. I was out early, and being the capitol, it apparently shuts down on Sundays. But there was one interesting event that no one but me saw. As I ran down an otherwise empty street, I came alongside an ambulance with flashing lights stopped on the curb. An ambulance medic loaded a homeless man onto a gurney and then into the ambulance. I don't know what was wrong with him, but it occured to me that he would get to sleep a while in a comfortable bed, and what a blessing that would be.  As the medic closed the ambulance door, he called out to the police officer nearby, presumably the one who had found him, "He says,'Thank you.'" The cop smiled and shook his head, with a bemused look on his face.

How considerate of the homeless man, I thought. He had to be in bad shape in order to be carted off in an ambulance. Yet, he had the wherewithal and the courtesy to thank the cop who had called the ambulance. I would be going home in a few short hours. That poor man had no home, but for the moment, he was cared for under clean sheets and on a soft mattress.

What do I have to complain about....ever????

The ambulance pulled away, with flashing lights, but no siren. The man must not be in terribly bad shape or the ambulance would have raced away with sirens blazing. I ran on, thinking how lucky I was to be strong enough to run, with the promise of a home to run to. It is so easy to be caught up in our petty worries when there are people with truly horrendous circumstances all around us. I wondered how long the homeless man would be fed and cared for in the hospital before being returned to the cold, hard streets.

There are lots of pictures on the internet today of men who have served to fight for our freedom. Many of the photos are of people who have lost limbs, loved ones, or lives in their selfless service for me. It is a picture of Jesus here on earth, giving all so I may live.

Lord, forgive me for my selfishness, my self-absorption, my complaining over trifles. Life and death battles are being waged all around me. Give me a heart that yearns to heal others' pain, and pays less attention to my own.

I think rather than saying "Happy" Memorial Day, we should say "Grateful" Memorial Day, as we thank God for the homes secured for us by those who will never return home.


Ephesians 4:32 

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Colossians 3:12 

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

Matthew 7:12 

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Luke 10:30-35 

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

Matthew 9:36-38 

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11-14 

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

In an Unfamiliar City

I am enjoying my walks through the historic sections of Raleigh while my daughter attends her convention. I have logged at least fifteen miles a day since I have no interest in the convention, and do wish to take advantage of exploring a city I have never visited for any length of time. I chanced upon three weddings yesterday, including an older woman in a lovely gown stepping out of the limo just as I walked by. She was my age, yet clearly about to be married.
"You look lovely," I told her. She beamed at me, with the look of someone who feels their whole world is about to transform.

I passed a young Chinese couple by a giant globe sculpture. The woman was taking a picture of her husband and young child. The little family was but a speck by that giant world.
"Would you like me to take the picture so you can be in it too?" I asked, pausing in my walk.
"Oh yes!!!!" she said. I snapped the picture, thinking how optimistic and eager the young family looked.

I then passed the smallest dog I have ever seen being kindly greeted by a pitbull. You just never know what interesting things you might see if you keep your eyes open and your feet moving.

The little vignettes of the day all spoke of hope to me. An older woman finding love, a young couple all together starting out as a family in this great, wide world, with all the promise of beginnings, a tiny dog that could have been consumed in a snap making friends with a much larger dog maligned (unfairly or not) for its aggressive nature.

I can hear you, Lord. You are telling me that in all the stages and vicissitudes of life, there can be the expectation of joy. You are in the midst of it all. Beloved, do not lose heart because you are old and the murmurs of love are faint, or young and the world is so huge, or tiny and giants surround you. God made them all, and put them all together, the young, and the old and the tiny, and the huge. They are all created for a purpose that sometimes seems disjointed at street level, in an unfamiliar city, but from the perspective of eternity, all the pieces fit together perfectly.

Isaiah 55:7-9 
7Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. 9"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.…

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Longing for Home

I long to be home. I have been gone two weeks now, and don't return till Sunday. I miss my husband, and my dogs, and my own bed, and my favorite chair. I like travel, though like it less the older I get. The longing for home is a theme that runs throughout the Bible. First, God's chosen people were promised that one day God would gather them together and bring them to their promised land. They get there finally, after years of wandering the desert, only to be carted away into captivity time and time again. The Bible is one long story of a wayward people trying to make it home once and for all. In the end, God solves that terrible problem by sending the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. If home is where the heart is, and our heart is filled with God...then in a sense, we are home with God all the time.

It is not a perfect home, because our flesh is still at war with our spirit. The perfect home is Heaven where we are free at last from the trials, temptations, and consequences of sin. Still, the Bible tells me that my body is the temple of God Himself! I am to glorify God Himself with my body! Really ought to make me consider deeply how I speak, what I say, how I dress, and what I portray to the world of this holy temple!

God Himself nestled at home in my heart. That makes this hotel room seem a little less lonely.

Psalm 23:6 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Ephesians 2:20 

Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,

Matthew 19:29 

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 3:11 

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Love is a Creme Brulee

I have the world's best daughter-in-law. Two days ago, my daughter, Asherel, and I were in Richmond, (where my son lives,) to visit Virginia Commonwealth University. It happened to be my son, Matt's, birthday. Karissa, his wife, invited us for dinner, in the midst of her studying for the Bar exam, while Matt works countless hours as a new lawyer.

If it were me with that schedule, I would have ordered take-out. Not Karissa. She made Shepherd's Pie with sweet potato topping, deviled eggs (Matt's favorite), and for the piece d' resistance, Creme Brulee for dessert, with each of us using a special torch blower to melt the sugar on the top of this incredible concoction.

"It's so easy and fun," she assured us.
She separated yolks from the white. whisked them with cream, poured them in special ramekins, placed the ramekins in a baking pan, added water so the ramekins would heat evenly, baked a half hour, cooled, put in the freezer to cool more, sprinkled sugar on top, let each of us flame torch our own ramekin to melt and brown the sugar, then sprinkled fresh blackberries and blueberries and carefully chopped mint leaves on top.

Fun...yes. Easy...not so much.

But easy is not really what my daughter-in-law was after. She was after showing love and hospitality and kindness and consideration. She was showing honor and respect in a palpable way. She loves God, and she desires to show His love towards us. She doesn't need to tell me God lives in her heart -- it is evident in her behavior.

I have been struggling with some troubling issues of late, and her incredible kindness to me meant more than I can say. There is a reason God admonishes us to love one another as Christ loved us. When we do so, we can sometimes give a breath of life to someone who feels her lungs have collapsed.

Did I mention I have the world's best daughter-in-law?


Hebrews 13:2 

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

1 Peter 4:9 

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Matthew 25:34-46 

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?

Romans 12:13 

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Leviticus 19:34 

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Luke 14:12-14 

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Titus 1:8 

But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

Colossians 3:23-24 

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Trusting God with the Future

I am really glad we suffered through the Washington DC traffic to tour George Mason University (GMU) for a potential college for my daughter, Asherel. On paper, it had looked like a perfect fit for her. It had her major with a focus on the artsy aspect of it, which few colleges have. It is only 2 hours from my son. It has clubs she's interested in, and her grades and test scores should hold her in good stead with the other applicants. My only concern is as a devout Christian, I wondered if a secular college was best for her. And then our tour guide (student ambassador) introduced herself and the first thing she told us was that she belonged to the campus Christian organization. She loves it, and enthused about all the great friends she met through it. I almost cried for the joy of how God works.

Asherel also liked GMU, not in small part due to the genuine exuberance for the college that our student ambassador possessed. She was smart, and funny, and eminently likeable. She made us feel that there was nothing she or the college desired more than to embrace us and draw us into their world. While there were few students around, the people we did meet seemed very friendly. It felt right. It is only the second college we have visited, so I am sure Asherel is not ready to sign the dotted line, but I could certainly see my daughter very happy at that school. I thought about how critical the ambassador's role was in enticing us to love the college. It reminded me that I am an ambassador for Christ. Am I doing as well enticing others to His kingdom? (Hint: no. I need to do much better.)

I had a terrible migraine when I awoke that morning, and wondered how I would last the day. Nonetheless, I was up well before Asherel, so went on a run. I found the college easily after running through the beautiful historic town of old Fairfax. The headache slowly dissipated as I pictured visiting my dear daughter when she was off to college. I imagined the beautiful runs I would enjoy through that lovely village. Our hotel was inexpensive and close to the campus. I finished the run feeling joyful, thinking how perfectly God is in the details.

Most of the time, I look to the future with anxiety. I find it hard to assume everything will work out, but God gave me a wonderful gift that sunny morning at George Mason University. The future belongs to Him, and we know that "all things work together for good, for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)  It is God who gives us a hope and a future. How quickly I forget that and lose hope in the enormity of the tasks before me! It seemed such a little thing, that tour guide with her bright smile telling us she belonged to a vibrant campus Christian group, but it changed my world. She was a strong ambassador thinking she was pleading the case for GMU, but in my heart, I felt her pleading the case for Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:20
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.


Proverbs 3:5 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Romans 8:28 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Psalm 37:4-6 

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Proverbs 3:6 

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Psalm 46:10

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Hebrews 13:8 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Romans 15:13 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Matthew 6:25 

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Should Have Prayed More

Our college stop for this morning is George Mason University. I knew it was near Washington, DC but I had no idea I would hit DC traffic getting to the hotel last night, and would be taking my life in my hand just to visit a potential college for my daughter, Asherel. Had I known, I would have spent a whole lot more time praying...and probably choosing a different college to visit.

As I closed my eyes and swerved across the six lanes of bumper to bumper traffic, I wondered how anyone could stand to live like this day after day. Is any job worth commuting in this madhouse traffic? I was close to tears, and panic, and even my GPS was little use. I swear at one time it said, "Turn right!!!! Not that right!!! Oh, I don't know! Just find an exit and get out of here!" Asherel claims it just told me to turn left in .6 miles.

What have we humans done to ourselves? What is worth this level of chaos, crowds, and wasted moments of a precious life? I sat in the bumper to bumper traffic, feeling like a lemming in a horde of lemmings headed for a cliff none of us could see, but we all knew was coming.

Philippians 3:19 warns us:
They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.

That is how I felt on the Capitol Beltway. We are all headed for destruction. Our concerns are only about life on earth, and we are spending most of it in our car chasing after things that matter not at all. I was so relieved when I got off the Beltway and headed to the relative peace and quiet of a regular busy road, and then the empty parking lot of our hotel. The receptionist greeted me, and handed me a fresh baked cookie and my hotel key. She peered at me, and then handed me another bag of goodies -- bottled water, an apple, and a snack bar. 
"Take this too," she said kindly.


Romans 1:26-2:1 

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,

Matthew 7:13-14

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

Psalm 97:2-7 

Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Perfect Tool

It was a beautiful day yesterday for our last day at my folks. Now we head south again, will visit several colleges, go to a fun convention for Asherel, and then finally home! On the last beautiful day in NY, I got to use the other function of Dad's new leaf blower -- the leaf sucker. This ingenuous attachment vacuums with hurricane force while mulching and bagging the victim. The blower attachment had been ineffectual against the leaves lodged in my mom's thick patches of pachysandra and ornamental grass. I had spent hours using the blower trying to nudge the recalcitrant leaves from where they had probably lodged for centuries. However,  the vacuum sucked them up in no time (along with a bunch of freaked-out spiders.)

I just needed the right tool for the job.

This is true in all areas of life, including the spiritual. What is best to promote God's purpose at one time with one person, might be entirely different with another time and another person. Sometimes mercy is needed,  sometimes grace, sometimes discipline, sometimes consequences, sometimes removal of protection, sometimes a place of refuge. I find it near impossible as a parent to know which time is best for which tool in my parenting arsenal. How God manages is beyond comprehension. Erring too often on the side of mercy, and we might not take justice seriously. Err too often on the side of judgment, and we might all lose heart. But if we don't lose heart enough, we don't understand the enormity of our sin and the need for God...and if we lose heart too much, we don't understand His redemptive love for us. It is an enormously difficult balancing act. I know because I am a parent, and long to get it right, but it is not easy. Not for me, anyway.

It makes me question God a little less to remember my own struggles in the proper balance of mercy and discipline. I am not God, and increasingly understand why not, but I often wish I had His wisdom when I am in the midst of the struggle.  

Wait...I do!! 

I at least have access to it. It is infinitely comforting that every page of His book is filled with the perfect words at the perfect time.

I just need to remember that I do have the right tool for the job.


Psalm 32:8 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Proverbs 3:5-6 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

John 16:13 

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Matthew 7:7-11 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Psalm 119:105 

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Isaiah 30:21 

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

John 14:26 

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

James 1:5-6 

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spring Revisited

The flowering trees are all abloom in NY, where my folks live. Spring in NY is a month behind Charlotte, thus on this visit to my folks, I have been privileged to see Spring twice in one year. Since Spring is the most beautiful season of the year, I have been given the gift of glimpsing eternity in Heaven. One day, I will open my eyes each day to beauty so astonishing that the only recourse is to bow down in praise -- at least that is how I envision Heaven. For now, I see the rebirth of the flowering cherry, dogwood, Bradford pear and Lilac trees not once, but twice!

The yin to that yang is that the leaves from last fall were never quite dealt with in my parents' yard. They have a full forest of trees, and it is near impossible to gather them all. I did my best last October, but then my visit ended, while the eternal cascade of leaves did not. So, yesterday, I got to try out my dad's new superpower leaf blower. I turned it on and it quickly blew a fuse. Through some trial and error and a consulting neighbor, we were able to restore power. I had dreams of the hurricane strength blower shooting all those leaves in a nice neat pile at a distant corner of the yard where they would decompose quietly with no muss and fuss.

It was not to be.

The old, wet leaves were not eager to be transplanted. They clung tenaciously to all the little roots and snags of tiny stumps that peppered the yard. An hour and a half later, my hands buzzed with an alarming feeling as though filled with electricity, and the dent I had made in the leaves was not nearly as apparent as one would hope. The best I could do was blow them into neater mounds along the fence edges. It was disappointing. I was ready to drop. I just could not hoist the heavy blower any longer.

I wonder if I am alone in noticing that God fills the world with joy and beauty, but in equal measure there is toil and trial. I am struck anew how it would be very easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the toil and trial and lose sight of the blessings that surround me. God warns us against this natural tendency, reminding us to keep our eyes on Jesus and learn to find contentment in the midst of all matter what. I find this easier said than done, nonetheless, it must be done or we perish losing the beauty of Spring.

For the record, two springs in a year is better than two falls.

Philippians 4:10
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Running Flawlessly

I don't think a night goes by that I don't lie down and think, "I should have been much, much better." One would think after 30 yrs of following God, I would have the character thing down pat. Yet, it seems that despite a deepening love of God, I continue to fail, continue to fall short, continue to disappoint myself and others.

So I settled with my folks in front of the television set, eager to watch California Chrome run the Preakness horse race -- the second of the elusive Triple Crown races. He won the Derby, but only some 30 horses have ever won both the Derby and the Preakness, and only 11 have won all three of the Triple Crown. With the mindset of knowing my own imperfection, I was rooting on many levels for California Chrome. I want the best to be possible, victory against odds, exaltation instead of dashed dreams.

The Bible tells us that without God we can do nothing; that the cleansing of our souls is His work, not ours. I suppose like any cleansing, it must be done repeatedly. Like laundry, we will never remain clean as long as we are called into use. God's washing is an ongoing least in me. Perfection is the goal, but not very often the reality....not till Heaven.

When California Chrome sailed across the finish line, well in the lead, I shouted with joy and pumped a fist. He's just a horse and it's just a race...but it did my heart good to see him run flawlessly again.


1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hebrews 4:15 - For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.

Ephesians 2:8 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

Titus 3:5 - Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Romans 2:1 - Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

1 John 4:12 - No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

James 1:5 - If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1 Timothy 2:5 - For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Romans 10:9-10 - That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 

John 15:5 - I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pondering in the Rain

Asherel and I drove several hours through the countryside of NY on route to Boston to see my son, Anders, yesterday. It was a torrential downpour -- such a deluge that there were times I really could not see more than ten feet in front of me. Sadly, we drove hours to spend one day in a great city, but saw very little of it. It was too rainy to venture out, so we satisfied ourselves with the sole activity in Boston being dinner with my first born...who I get to see far too infrequently. Normally I enjoy the drive as it is strikingly pretty countryside. But this time, I saw nothing but furiously wiping windshield wipers and buckets of rain. We never left the hotel. It had a fine restaurant, so Anders agreed to join us there for dinner when his work was done.

God sends the rain. Why did He send it so ferociously just at that time? Would it have been so terrible to delay it a few hours so it rained only at night while I slept? Instead of wandering around the beautiful city of Boston,  my daughter and I sat in the hotel room. I read the Bible, answered email, and rested. Just for giggles, I did a word study of 'rain' in the Bible. There are some patterns that emerged.

First, God sends the rain.
Second, sometimes He withholds the rain, usually in response to His people sinning.
Third, sometimes He sends buckets of rain, to the point of floods, usually in response to His people sinning.
Fourth, God uses the rain not only to remind His people of His sovereign power, (and of their sinning,) but also to water the flowers.

I peered through the deluge and wondered which aspect of rain God wanted me to consider.

Anders walked from his apartment to join us for dinner, apparently during a let-up in the rain. He wanted to walk back as well, but as we stepped outside to say goodbye, the heavens had opened and torrents of rain were falling again. He happily took my offer for a drive, and we had a lovely last few minutes together. I found myself praising God for the rain.

James 5:18 - And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Zechariah 10:1 - Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; [so] the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.

Leviticus 26:4 - Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

1 Kings 8:35 - When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:

Isaiah 55:10 - For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

Jeremiah 14:22 - Are there [any] among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? [art] not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these [things].

Genesis 6:3-8
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.' But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD."

Genesis 9:15

And I will remember my covenant, which [is] between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Stepping Stones

My mom has a slate rock patio, made of dozens of flat 6-12" slate pieces that she found in area forests, carted home,and dug individually into the perfect position in the ground. I raked away the leaves that covered her lovely patio, and my folks and I sat in lounge chairs surveying the slowly improving back yard. As we looked out over the areas that remained to be raked, Dad mentioned that now what was needed was a slate pathway from the sunroom door to the slate patio. It is about 30 feet long. He didn't direct that comment to me, but it was clear he and Mom were not likely to do it.

"That's a lot of work,"said Mom.
"Oh no," he said, "Just plop the slate down in a row."
"I had to dig in every single one of these patio pieces," she pointed out, "And carried in every piece of slate from wherever I could find it."
The subject was dropped.

I had a full job yesterday digging a trench around their front yard line of bushes and then mulching. It looked splendid when I finished. I was dripping sweat and my new haircut looked anything but chic. My folks had a doctor appointment, but before they left, I asked if there was another job they would like me to do while they were gone. They asked me to transplant some wandering pachysandra that had hopped outside of the area they were supposed to be contained in, and also to dig up some day lilies and move them to the fence line. The transplant victims were right along the path where my dad had envisioned a slate path.

When they left, I began transplanting and was surprised how soft the ground was and how easy it was to dig. Perhaps that slate path was not out of the realm of possibility. I would be able to gather slate from the yard and would just put in a stone about every 5 feet. Well, I did so, and realized it would look much better if I put a stone in between each stone. After doing that, I decided the gaps in the path were still too large and dug in more slate stepping stones. Two hours later, with dirt deeply embedded in my nails, my hair a dripping frizzy wild mass, and my hands aching, a full lovely path had been created.
I didn't think I had it in me to make a thirty foot slate pathway. However, I had been surprised to see I could do a less than perfect pathway, and bit by bit, it got better. Pretty soon, I would not have stopped if my life depended on it until the pathway was complete.

Here is the lesson.

No one should avoid doing good because they don't think they have it in them. Even one stone on a muddy path is better than none.And quite often, once one stone is laid, the next one seems a little easier. It is not unlike the path of faith. Step by feeble step, as we move towards God, God reveals Himself, and what begins as a mustard seed grows into the mightiest of trees.


Psalm 25:4-5 

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 37:23-24 

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.

2Kings 3: 16-17

"And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches. For thus
saith the Lord, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that
valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye and your cattle,
and your beasts."  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Priceless, but Costing Nothing

I have not cut my hair in a year. I figured I would go for the 'recluse-of-the-mountain-hag' look and save some money. However, now traveling and doing a lot of yard work for my folks, it was long and hot. In addition, my daughter told me I looked "scarey." So I called my very chic sister-in-law who lives in the area and asked where she gets her hair cut. I knew she would have an excellent stylist. Unfortunately, her stylist was not able to see me this week, but my brother John's stylist was available,. Jenny told me that John's stylist was also excellent.

My brother has a hair stylist?

Anyway, I called Ashley, my brother's stylist, and made an appointment. I figured after a year of no haircuts, no matter what she charged, it was worth it. To be sure I had enough cash, I asked Ashley what she charged.
"One five?" I asked, flabbergasted. I expected $50.
""Yes," she said.
I could not believe it. Our "cheap" hairdressers in Charlotte cost at least that. This young lady owned her own shop. Could she be any good?
For $15, I was willing to take a chance.

I walked out of there with one of the more lovely haircuts I have ever gotten, a simple and fail-safe bob. What a precious and wondrous surprise - to spend so little and receive so much. It is like God's grace and mercy. It cost us so little, though it cost Jesus so much. All that is required of us is to accept the free gift of His atoning sacrifice for our sins. And in return, we receive the most priceless thing in all the earth -- eternal life and communion with our Creator.

Much as I love my haircut that cost me next to nothing, this is a far, far better deal.


Mark 16:16 

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Acts 2:38 

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 22:16 

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

Acts 2:1-47

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven

John 3:16-17 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Romans 10:9 

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:8-10 

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Luke 10:25-28 

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Be a String Trimmer

Yard work is largely my husband's domain, thus somehow, I had never used a string trimmer before. In my visit here with my folks, I am tackling a different little project each day on the road to beautifying their yard and helping out with projects that are difficult for them to do. Yesterday's task was to first gather all the downed twigs and branches, and then string trim around the yard's decorative islands.

The string trimmer hadn't been used in years. The spiders were terribly upset with me as I took it down from its perch on the sidewall of the garage. First unfamiliar task was how to turn it on. After some time, I figured out which switch likely controlled that maneuver, but then second unfamiliar task confronted me. The battery operated trimmer was not charged. To charge it, I had to remove the battery pack. Both my dad and I tried unsuccessfully to do so. Fortunately, my daughter Asherel still has grip strength, and she was able to wrench it off. Unfamiliar task number three was not hard. Charging the battery pack required only the courage to plug in a device that had been dormant for years. Would I be electrocuted? I was not, and the charging commenced.

Unfamiliar task number four was the most daunting. How does one actually use a string trimmer? I had seen others effortlessly do so, digging lovely clear dirt trenches where once unsightly creeping vegetation reigned. I was eager to work this magic. First I turned the string trimmer upside down to see what iron sharp cutting blades completed this miracle. All I saw were two flimsy strings. I was certain the trimmer was broken, and brought it to my mom.

"I think your trimmer is missing parts. All that is left are these strings."
"That's all that is needed," she told me.
"How do these strings cut the grass?" I asked, amazed.
"They whirl around at such a high speed that they just do," she said.
I had never really considered why it was called a string trimmer. I would never have imagined tiny strands of string could do such a mighty thing.

And hallelujah! God was sending me my daily message! I am a tiny strand of string. I am weak, and feeble, and truth be told, terribly flawed. For now we will leave old out of the equation, but that applies as well. Sometimes, I hang unused on the sideline because I am certain I am not up to the task.  But beloved, plug me in to the Source of Power, and I can do anything required of me. At least, I have the potential to do so, and I will accomplish it not because of my own strength, which is about as great as a tiny string, but through Him who strengthens me!

I powered up that old string trimmer and within minutes, the trim edge around both islands was complete. I stood back and surveyed my work thinking, "Oh my, I serve a mighty God."

Matthew 19:26 - But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Mark 9:23 - Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things [are] possible to him that believeth.

Mark 10:27 - And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men [it is] impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Luke 1:37 - For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 18:27 - And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

Matthew 17:20 - And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Genesis 11:6 - And the LORD said, Behold, the people [is] one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

Hebrews 6:18 - That by two immutable things, in which [it was] impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Mark 11:24 - Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive [them], and ye shall have [them].

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pulling Away the Rot

The beautiful island of lovely plants we had installed on my parents' front lawn looked barren.Where once beautiful bushy plants had waved fronds and flowers, now only dead long tendrils of brown and rotting masses lay. I put on my gardening gloves and set to work pulling the dead vegetation away and weeding the many baby dandelions. What a wonderful surprise lay beneath the masses of brown decay! As I cut away the dreary dead stalks, I found the new plant growing, its tiny leaves green and bursting with new life. All is not lost! The beautiful plants have not died! They were only dormant, waiting for gentle hands to pull away the layers of rot so they could bloom again in the light of a healing sun.


Isaiah 35: 1-4
1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
 the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
2 it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.
 The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
 They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who have an anxious heart,
"Be strong; fear not!
 Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you."