Thursday, July 30, 2015


I went to the lovely Highland Park near my folk's house, where an old carousel stands atop a tall hill. I loved riding that carousel as a child, and then bringing my own children to ride it when we visited my folks. It has always been free, and wonder of wonders, still is. I sat on a park bench in the shade, watching the carousel go round. Almost no one was on it! It stopped and three children got off. Oh how I wanted to ride the carousel! If only I had a child with me. However... Maybe it would make me dizzy in my old age. And people might laugh at me.

The old carousel stood still, silent and empty. Then four people around my age approached the carousel. They took pictures, and then, they walked through the gate, and climbed on the horses. I leaped off my bench and raced to the carousel. I hurried through the gate and climbed on a horse. The teens running the carousel smiled at me, but they didn't laugh. We five grey-hairs were the only ones on the old carousel as the music began and the horses slowly rose in the warm summer afternoon.

The horses galloped in their tight circle and the beautiful hills of my hometown twirled around me. I wished my mom and dad were mobile enough to join me on the carousel, or my children still with me, rosy-cheeked and laughing as they clutched the golden pole with one hand and bravely swung the other through the air. But I was alone, on the magical horse, remembering.

Psalm 73:23 

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Running Out of the Fog to Him

I went on a run early in the morning yesterday. The fog was still heavy, and the trees were slowly emerging, becoming more distinct as the run progressed. I love the fog. I love God's message in the fog: it may not all be clear yet. Much is unrevealed. One day, it will be evident. Don't lose hope.

My parents and I are visiting assisted living centers. We are unsure what will be best for them, but they are exploring their options. They fortunately have five kids who love them, and both me and another sister have told them they may live with us as long as we can handle their needs. They must have done something right to have kids who love them that much.

However, they are also looking at assisted living centers. I took them to two yesterday, and we will visit two more today. My sister took them to two last week as well. Word of warning to you young folk: getting old is really expensive. Take out a good insurance policy to cover your golden years now while the premium is low.

This is a tough process but there are silver linings. It is quite appealing to know that after a lifetime of hard work, all one's needs and cares can be handed over to someone else. One can rest in the care of trained professionals...or (if we can talk them into it) untrained, but caring family.

Aging and failing bodies is very much symbolic of what is necessary in one's heart to come to God.There must be a recognition that we cannot do it on our own, much as we wish to.
"The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."

We will ultimately fail when striving on our own. None of us can be good enough long enough to be worthy of a relationship with a holy, righteous God. Just like our aging bodies will fail us, all our good intentions will as well, without God. Our spirit rebels and ultimately defies God in it's desire and pride for independence, meaning, and purpose apart from God.  How can such fragile, imperfect, and hostile beings ever have deep communion and fellowship with a perfect, holy God? Perfect Goodness can have no communion with sin.

And God knows this. So He provides a place of refuge, a safe haven, a peaceful restful place where we can lay aside a lifetime of burdens and sin, and let Him take over. Jesus tells us, "Come to me and I will give you rest." It is so simple, and so profound, a complete paradigm shift in our self-reliant existence. Repent of our sins, recognizing there is nothing we can bring to God that is anything but "filthy rags." God desires nothing of us but our sorrow over having defied Him in our rebellion and sin, and then to accept His offer of forgiveness and sacrifice through the substitutionary death of His Son Jesus in payment for the punishment our rebellion deserved. We do nothing. He does it all. Then, all is forgiven, the slate is wiped clean, and we instantly gain admittance to the Finest Home for the Aged ever created. The arms of our creator who loves us, always loved us, and always will love us is holding the door open. Don't wait! Run to His forgiveness and rest.

As I finished my jog, the fog was lifting, and more and more beautiful trees lifted their limbs to the clearing sky. It's always a surprise how much beauty is hiding in the fog.


Psalm 32:10 

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

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.

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

1 John 1:8 

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

“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.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Musings on Train Tracks

 I am in NY helping my folks, so have little time for writing. I have one brief thought for you today. I stayed in lovely historic Winchester on the drive up here and found this gorgeous old train station. I love train tracks and historic stations. I like to stand in the middle of the tracks, looking up and down, thinking of the travelers on the passenger trains. I imagine some are fleeing from troubling pasts and others are rolling towards hopeful futures. Some would disembark at this lovely town, and perhaps struggle to make a life in the midst of difficult circumstances. Others would stay on the train, running from what they could not face in a distant town miles down the track.

A quote by Charles Spurgeon caught my eye. I love the first sentence:

The wings of a dove may be of more use to me today than the jaws of a lion. It is true I may be an apparent loser by declining evil company, but I had better leave my cloak than lose my character; it is not needful that I should be rich, but it is imperative upon me to be pure. No ties of friendship, no chains of beauty, no flashings of talent, no shafts of ridicule must turn me from the wise resolve to flee from sin. The devil I am to resist and he will flee from me, but the lusts of the flesh, I must flee, or they will surely overcome me.  Charltes Spurgeon

I love his distinction. Fight evil and resist the devil.  However, flee temptation rather than stay to fight it. I think older and wiser people may understand this better than younger ones.

"Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body."
1 Corinthians 6:18 ESV

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

"So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."
2 Timothy 2:22 ESV

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Only Hope We Have

This is the moment of a baby's birth, as she is pulled out of the womb during a c-section.  She is taking her first breath here, and her mother is seeing her for the first time. This mother almost aborted this baby...twice. Pro-life Cities4Life sidewalk counselors outside the abortion mill urged her both times to reconsider, with God's message of comfort and strength. Here are her words to me as she texted me this photo yesterday:
"I'm so glad I didn't terminate her. And she seems so happy too, in this picture. I cannot put into words my feelings that I have at this present time. I am just surely grateful for God's grace and mercy."
We may not all be on the verge of aborting a child, but I bet at some point we all face what we believe to be insurmountable obstacles. Our hearts are broken, our spirit worn out, our resolve gone. It would be easier to give up. Look at that living baby, and the mom's words: "I'm so glad I didn't terminate her....surely grateful for God's grace and mercy."

Take heart and seek God, friends. Today's sorrow does not destroy tomorrow's victory unless we give up.
 1 Peter 3:15
"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

After God's Heart

Listen to this:

Do not drag me away with the wicked,
    with those who do evil,
who speak cordially with their neighbors
    but harbor malice in their hearts. 
 Repay them for their deeds
    and for their evil work;
repay them for what their hands have done
    and bring back on them what they deserve.
Psalm 28: 3-4 

That sounds like someone who is struggling with despair, hopelessness, and desire for revenge. But now, listen to this:
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him. 
                       Psalm 28:7

That sounds like someone who has life all figured out; calm, content, faithful...Doesn't it?
Hard to believe they are written by the same guy and in the same psalm! David, the Psalmist, is so real. I can relate to David. He makes no pretense of his faltering efforts to withstand the attacks of his enemies in the battles of life. He openly describes his anguish, and his less than noble feelings in response. But then, BUT THEN, he transforms within a few short verses. He yo-yos from despair to victory as he looks to God for His strength and support. 

This doesn't just happen once, and then he abides in the sure-footed assurances of God. In subsequent psalms, he again plummets into despair. Just two psalms later, after his proclamation of the strength of God and his joyfully leaping heart, listen to his words:

When I felt secure, I said,
    “I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
    you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
    I was dismayed.
To you, Lord, I called;
    to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
    Lord, be my help.”

Poor guy - shaken, dismayed, feeling abandoned, crying to God wondering why God is silent. But then, he lifts his tear-stained face, again, and sees God. Everything changes, again.

You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever. 

I have felt so weak in how often I plummet back into despair, despite knowing the power of God. Why can't I hang on to those feelings of peace, calm, and victory? I don't know. I wish I could. But David is a comfort to me, because he seems to experience the same troughs and crests as I do. And God called him a "man after my own heart."

Acts 13:22
After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Lord Who Made You Will Help You

The sweet friend who chose life over abortion several months ago texted me with her Maternity room number.
"I can visit?" I asked. She had been exhausted after the c-section the day before and I didn't think she would be up to visitors so soon.
"If you can!" V said.

I had put off sketching a picture which is what I wanted to give the new little baby as a gift. I will be traveling to NY again to help my folks Saturday, and had a zillion things to do. I quickly threw the dirty clothes in the laundry, folded, then packed. Then, I hurried to find the text photo of the new baby V had sent me, and spent the next hour drawing her portrait. Fortunately, I had a new little frame, and incredibly, a perfect size little gift bag with pink and purple in it. God was with me, since I didn't have time to go buy those things! I framed the portrait, stuffed it in the gift bag, and drove the hour to the hospital.

When I arrived, my friend V was alone, so I had that scrumptious little baby all to myself. While I was there, several people showed up, but I had fifteen minutes holding the little miracle child all alone. Before the deluge of people, V and I prayed together. It was a short prayer, but my heart was filled to the brim with gratitude to God for rescuing this precious girl.

I pictured the flood of women who stream into the abortion mill each day.
So grateful to be holding the precious child of one who turned away, despite her fear.

Isaiah 44:2 

Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: fear not...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Overcoming Evil with Good

I got a text picture yesterday morning. This is a baby who was slated to die on a Monday a few months ago. It was a cold day, and I was on the microphone while standing on the sidewalk outside the abortion center. I was urging women in that hopeless place to know that no matter how terrible their circumstances, God was there and more than able to help them. Not only was following God and doing the right thing always best, but we volunteers shivering on the sidewalk could offer real hope and real help. I urged them to please come talk with us. Please, take the first step and get our free ultrasound.

A mama drove out of the center, when her boyfriend urged her to talk to those people on the sidewalk. She stopped near me, rolled down her window, and said, "OK...where is that free ultrasound?"

For many months, after the sweet mama, "V" chose life for her baby, she and I met for lunches, and became friends. I texted her daily Bible verses, and we spoke often of God, and His plan for her life. Cities4Life (  supporters got this mama a winter coat, money when bills piled up, maternity clothes, a 3-d ultrasound, and a lavish baby shower providing two years of all the baby's needs, including clothing and equipment. (Truth and Mercy Ministries: ) V still had struggles, and her assurance she could do this wavered at times. Having a network of support and real help, and the daily dose of God, kept her on track when she threatened to derail.

And yesterday, this little miracle breathed her first breath.

What more needs to be said? I am filled with joy.

James 4:17 

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Learning to Focus

I got glasses yesterday. Not just any old pair of glasses, but glasses with progressive lenses. I had to. I could no longer see my computer and for a writer, that is not okay. I was on a bike ride when the Eyecare center called me to tell me the new glasses were in. I rode my bike directly there.

When they put my new glasses on me, the optician held a card up with varying sized writing on it.
"Which line do you want me to read?" I asked, "I can read them all."
She was surprised. She told me I was "made for progressive lenses." How proud does that make me!
"Can I wear these on my bike ride now?" I asked.
I stood up. The world was uncomfortably moving around me. It does take some getting used to. Peripheral vision is blurry and disorienting, unless you turn your head at just the right angle. I almost fell.
"Maybe," she said, "But you might not want to go far."

Fortunately, I was only a mile from home. So I decided I would ride around our neighborhood to see how quickly I adjusted. The first strange sensation was that my bike was twenty feet tall. The ground seemed so far away. Within a few minutes, that began to wane. I did have to consciously adjust my head position so that whatever I was looking at was in the correct section of the progressive lens correction. My first thought was, "I will never get used to that."

Here's the miracle. Within an hour, I almost forgot I was wearing glasses. And I could not only see in the distance, but when I shifted my gaze near, or mid-range, it was all clear! For the first time in many years, I could see everything clearly. I still had to consciously adjust my head position, but it became less and less arduous. I grew confident that I would learn.

"How do you do this, God?" I asked out loud. How does He do this? I am just one of billions of people He cares for, yet He sends me symbolic messages every day that are absolutely perfect for what I am going through. He was telling me that maybe right now my sight required glasses to see clearly, and I had to consciously and carefully adjust my movements and position to keep my focus. I was a little unbalanced, and stumbled now and then. One day, it would be automatic. My struggles to consciously adjust my focus where I needed to focus would one day cease. All would be made clear without effort or strain. Faith would be sight, and I would see God's face clearly everywhere in all its glory.

Isaiah 35:5 

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

Acts 26:18 

To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Mark 10:52

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

In His Strength With His Words

Time spent on the sidewalks of the area's busiest abortion center is always a blessing in some way. It seems strange that blessings could occur in such a desperate place, but I never fail to see God's hand at work. I volunteer with a wonderful team of counselors on Monday. Usually, the regulars are two young women, and two or three of us seasoned citizens. On this Monday we were joined by three men as well. The two young women are sisters, who both have a gentle demeanor and angelic faces. They speak softly, and exude kindness. Then there is me, and another woman around my age. We laughed Monday as we compared ourselves to the sweet, gentle, young women. We decided in all those characteristics, we provided a stark contrast. But God can use anyone with a willing heart.

One of the sweet, gentle young'uns stopped a car down the road from the abortion center. She spoke to them briefly. I walked over as they drove on slowly to the center.
"They don't speak English," she told me.
The other sweet, gentle young'un stopped them again in the driveway of the center. Since I knew I had a Spanish booklet in my pack, I hurried over. They were not Spanish speaking either. Now what?

I pulled out my plastic fetal baby model and pantomimed loving the baby. I pointed to heaven, indicating God made and loved the baby. I rocked the baby in my arms, then clutched it against my heart. Then I pointed to the clinic, and pretended to stab the baby and then throw it away. I held the baby against my stomach, and then pretended to rip it out. The woman laughed. In broken English, the man told me they already had five babies. The sweet, gentle young'un managed to understand that the mother did indeed wish to abort.

I continued pantomiming, hugging the little baby model and trying to plead without words. I showed them our booklet of pictures of babies in the womb, pointing out my name and phone number written on the front page. There is only so much you can communicate without language. Go ahead and laugh, but I had very little to work with here!
"What language do you speak?" I asked finally, sweat pouring off my face. They did understand that.
I could not believe it! Because of a young woman I counsel who chose life a couple of months ago and was from Nepal, I had procured a Nepalese New Testament, and Nepalese pamphlets about God and following Him. They were in my car, parked down the street. I tried to pantomime to the couple to wait, but they smiled, took my booklet, and drove into the center parking lot anyway. I raced to my car for the Nepalese pamphlets, but the couple was already inside the abortion center when I returned.


I gave the sweet, gentle young'uns copies of the Nepalese tracts in case such a situation should arise again. Shortly thereafter, I intercepted a young woman walking down the street en route to the abortion mill. She agreed to talk to me. We exchanged names, and I asked her what her circumstances were that made her think abortion was a choice she wanted to make. To my delight, she was willing to let me offer another option, and listened to me for half an hour. Good! No language problem here! She believed in God,  and admitted that she knew abortion was wrong. She had a boyfriend and family willing to support the baby who were all opposed to abortion. I outlined all the community resources that could help her, and for every concern she raised, offered assistance. I read her verses from my Bible, supporting the decision to obey Him, and honor human life. I discussed the option of adoption. (She would not consider adoption, telling me she would rather kill the baby than let someone else have her.) We discussed the truth that the baby was human, innocent, and vulnerable. I warned her of all the infractions and suspension of licenses of the abortion center and the doctors. I gave her all that I knew to give, trying to persuade her to consider life for her child.

Finally, she told me she would go in the mill and discuss her options. I begged her to understand she knew her options. I'd presented them. There was only one option inside that abortion center. She took our information, but sadly, all my pleading appeared to have been in vain.

It threatened to be a depressing day. With no words, I'd been unable to convince the Nepal couple to turn around, and with a flood of words, I'd been unable to convince the American woman to turn around.

Over the next hour, our wonderful group of counselors had great interactions with the abortion minded women. All of us spoke from the sidewalk, and on the microphone, urging them to choose life. Three women left, choosing not to abort their babies. We were ecstatic. And then, the abortionist arrived. Hope always diminishes at that point, though we all know God can work miracles at the last moment, and often does. Women who had taken the abortion pill streamed out, most ignoring our offers of pamphlets that could help ease post-abortive grief and might bring healing. Then the Nepalese couple emerged. At least I could offer them the Nepalese New Testament, and pamphlet I had retrieved from my car. I may not have been able to help them choose to save their child, but perhaps they would turn their lives over to God. We don't always know to what purpose God has brought us in our obedience to His call.

They rolled down their window, stopping the car where we stood at the end of the driveway. The woman smiled.
"Did you keep your baby?" asked my counselor friend.
They nodded. I could not believe it! Did they understand? I pantomimed rocking baby in arms, and then holding it to my heart. She nodded again.
"Yes," said the man, "We kept baby." They both seemed relieved. They had chosen life! I gave them the Nepalese New Testament, and the man looked surprised. I imagine he was wondering about the power of the God who supplied this miraculous gift of a Nepal Bible in this most unlikely of places. The beaming sweet, gentle young'uns handed the mama a bag of baby gifts we try to give every mother that chooses life.
"Thank you," said the woman. She knew that word, a good word, and one that was singing in my heart as well.

What are the chances that a couple from Nepal would come to the abortion center and that I would have a New Testament in Nepalese in my car? What are the chances that a few minutes of two sweet young faces smiling encouragement, and then me mutely pantomiming loving a little plastic baby model might spark a change in heart when my half hour of carefully reasoned words to the other mother seemed not to have made a difference? God was showing me (again) that His power can overcome any barrier. Our job is just to show up. Our personal weakness or strength matters not at all.

By the time we had left, the woman I'd spoken with at length was still inside the center. God can work miracles, and often does. God speaks in a language the heart of any person can understand if they are willing to listen. I reminded myself of that as I drove home.

To donate or volunteer with Cities4Life, please go to


Ephesians 6:10 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

Monday, July 20, 2015

You Are My God

I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one.' I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God.'" Hosea 2:23

I read this verse yesterday, and felt like weeping. For those called not my people, God will instead say, "you are my people." This utterly disarms me. All those who are unloved, God will call us loved. We who once served the prince of darkness, will now serve the prince of peace. We who rebelled will now bow down, and say, "You are my God."

Such a simple verse with such a profound message.

I head out to the sidewalks of the city's busiest abortion center this morning to speak God's comfort, commandments, and life to those who would kill their own unborn child. My prayer is that hearts would turn from a path of destruction, and those who were not His people  will become His people. 

Oh Father Lord, my heart's desire this day is all of us who have been known as "Not my Loved Ones" will instead feel your love. And all of us who have been known as "Not my people" will instead become your people this very day, this very moment. May we all proclaim, You are my God.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Temporary Home

I have had a headache, massive headache, for a week now. I decided to pretend the headache wasn't there and kayak anyway. What if it is caused by a brain tumor? I need to get out there and enjoy life while I can, right?  The headache remained, but not as terrible once I got out on my kayak.

I kayaked on Lake Wylie, and meandered down a side cove where "my house" has been for sale for the past month. It is a small house, next to mansions. It was still a half million dollar sale price, but next to several multi-million dollar homes-- a steal. If my books go  viral, I could get this house. I kayak by the relatively small house on the cove often, dreaming of bringing my parents there. How much they would enjoy sitting on the shady dock, watching the blue herons! My children would come visit, and leap off the dock into the cool blue-green water and we would all cook hotdogs over the outdoor firepit as the sun set, sparkling on the water. Yesterday, still waiting on my books going viral, I cruised by "my house." The For Sale sign was gone! It was sold. My house would never be my house.

It's strange how much disappointment I felt over the loss of something I never owned. God was reminding me of something I often forget. Nothing here on earth is ours. All of it is borrowed, loaned, leased, and temporary -- created by a loving God for our brief sojourn here on the way to eternity. Some of it will be used as rewards, to give us respite and joy in an alien world. Some will be used as trials, to refine and remind us how we are to best develop our time and character in an alien world. And some will crush us, so that we will long more than anything to leave this alien world and return Home.

While "my house" was no longer for sale, the house next door to it was newly on the market. It was clearly a several million dollar home, the largest and most opulent by far on the lake. I would not mourn its sale because no matter how viral my books went,  that house was completely out of my reach. The two houses were as different in scale and magnificence as heaven to earth. Then I smiled a little, despite my melancholy over the loss of the house I had never owned. A mansion even more magnificent than the home whose reflection spread across the cove was promised me one day. One day I would no longer be a temporary resident in an alien world.

John 14:2-3 

In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Philippians 3:20 

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Philippians 1:23 

I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

I Will Carry You

Honeybun, my sweet old dog who has all kinds of health issues now, was due for her rabies shot. We visit the vet a lot, with all her problems. This would be a relatively pleasant and quick visit compared to the others of late. I had to lift her into the car, since she can no longer jump in herself. She was very happy to sit in the front seat and watch the world go by. She doesn't get out much. I can only bring her on very short walks because her hips give out if we go very far.

The vet technicians all know her, since she is there so often. They all love her because she is so uncomplaining and good-natured despite all the indignities old age hoists upon her. As we were driving home, we went right past the Greenway. I used to walk her for miles on the Greenway. She used to love it. We never go there anymore, since she can only walk at most a half mile, and even that is pushing it. At the last moment, I swerved and pulled into the parking lot. She sniffed the air and looked around, ears perked.

"Come on, old girl. We can't go far, but we can go for a little ways."

We walked slowly, much more slowly than the exciting jaunts we used to take here in our younger days. She spent many minutes at each tantalizing smell. I didn't hurry her. Take as long as you like. We meandered slowly down the trail. We didn't get very far before I knew we best turn around. If she collapsed, I'd have a hard time carrying her in the hot day. She's not the only one getting older.

When we returned to the car, I offered her some water. Then I lifted her gently and set her down on the front seat. I settled in my seat and blasted the AC. She looked at me, content. I pet her head, and said, "You had fun, didn't you?" She didn't answer, but she didn't need to.

Isaiah 46:4 

Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lay Down Your Burdens

Strangest dream. My neighbor offered to let me buy his kayak. He unlocked the doors (?) and told me to look it over as long as I liked. I sat in the kayak and wondered how an 8-foot kayak could be so huge. I got out and explored the kayak and kept thinking, this is like an RV with chairs, a stove, change of clothes, extra chair for extra passenger...How could anyone paddle this thing? It must be terribly heavy to try to cart all this stuff with only one person paddling. In fact, it seemed to me, impossible. I wanted all this stuff at journey's end for would make the place where I hit shore to rest very luxurious...but there was no way I would buy a kayak equipped with all this stuff that would make the journey impossible.

Get it?

We all carry burdens we were never meant to carry, shouldn't be carrying, that weigh us down, overwhelm us, and make the journey a misery. In Matthew 28:11, Jesus tells us, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.…"

I suddenly realized at the end of my dream that the kayak was inside the RV. If I just pulled only the kayak out, and left all the rest behind, that was all I needed.

Psalm 55:22 

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

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

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


I have been meditating on The Lord's Prayer lately. It is a wonderful favorite, but with a VERY scary line: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
REALLY? God CANNOT be serious that He will only forgive us as we forgive others. I mean, He is God. He can do anything, including forgiving all the lying, heartless, schemers of the earth. Surely He doesn't expect us, mere mortals, to do the same?

Except...He does.

So I kept praying that He would grant me the supernatural power to forgive. And instead of Him granting that request, He kept pointing me back to how much I have been forgiven. Dwell there, He kept telling me. And I have been resisting, because dwelling there is NOT FUN.

But something clicked yesterday. LOOK at all I have of which I've been forgiven; all the horrific sins against God that I have committed for nearly six decades. Every single one of them, washed away, remembered no more. Ever.

I felt the first real sense of what it means to forgive. It was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. I highly recommend it.

Ephesians 4:32 

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

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Deeply Troubling

We don't always consider where the decisions that we as a nation uphold will lead. I find abortion reprehensible on many levels, but I would encourage you to watch this video if you feel you can justify abortion. Can you justify the killing of pre-born infants, and then harvesting, and selling their parts? Watch the director of Planned Parenthood , Dr. Nucatola, calmly eat her salad while discussing the careful crushing of the unborn child such that the liver, heart, and other requested body parts are preserved. Is this what a civilized nation should do to the most vulnerable and innocent human beings among us?

After viewing this, some of you might say that this practice is an aberration, that not all abortionists sell the body parts.  However, this article suggests the practice is common, even wide-spread. The law is easily circumvented as described in the article.

By her demeanor, and gentle, calm matter, one would more likely believe Dr. Nucatola could be discussing the shredding of lettuce in her salad, rather than the dismemberment of human babies. Abby Johnson, the former abortionist who had a complete change of heart and now actively works to help abortion workers leave that industry, wrote a compassionate message she would want to convey to Dr. Nucatola. In that letter, filled with grace and mercy, she voiced what is one of the most insidious, horrific parts of all evil: it slowly infiltrates our conscience and belief system, such that we become blinded to the atrocity of what we are doing. Evil has a way of growing. God warns us that if our eye is evil, pluck it out. The rest of our body will eventually succumb.
Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good." (Rom. 12:21)
But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:23)

Matthew 25:45 "Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Fruit of Our Labor

It was a sad volunteer stint on the sidewalks of the abortion center yesterday. I mean, of course it is always sad to some degree, but there are usually little beacons of hope. Usually, at least one woman chooses life rather than abortion for her baby, and snatches back what Satan had almost claimed.

But this Monday, few people even interacted with us. A couple gave us the finger, but most ignored us. Our time on the sidewalk was drawing to an end, and I was helping to clean the RV with the  mobile ultrasound unit we offer for free to the mamas. One of the counselors dashed in to the RV, and asked me to please hand him a blessing bag (filled with baby gifts) which we store on the RV for women who choose life. A couple had just told him they'd changed their minds about aborting, and were going in the center to get back their money. They would be right out. I hurried out with my friend, blessing bag in hand. If they chose life, I would then hopefully be counseling them.

Several minutes passed, and they emerged, but stood on the front porch, apparently in deep discussion. The man looked mournful, the woman determined. I pleaded with them to come talk with me. The man seemed to be urging her to do so, but she ignored me. Then she went back inside. The man walked over to me and the other counselor. The rest of our team had gone home by now. The man, "T", was the father, and wanted the baby. However, the woman did not. I asked if he believed in God. Both he and the woman did. While I rifled through my materials for appropriate print-outs of verses for him to bring to his girlfriend, my counselor friend urged "T" to go back in and fight for his child. He told him of a dad who had done that a few weeks ago. That brave young man had kicked in the back door of the abortion clinic, and demanded they let him get his baby safely out of there. He was arrested...but the woman chose life. I gave "T" my name and number, some Bible verses on the sanctity of life, and told him to bring his phone. "Tell her to call me." Be a hero for your child, we prayed.

He went in.
A police car drove down the street. My friend said, "Oh look! Maybe "T" is doing the right thing, and kicking down the door!"
But it was not to be. The policeman waved and drove by without stopping. A half hour passed. It was now edging towards 2:00, a scorching hot day, and we'd had no lunch, and been there for hours. My friend and I said a brief prayer, and finally left, heavy-hearted.

It is never easy when you do all you know to do, and yet see no obvious fruit of your labor. It is easy to grow discouraged, and wonder why you are a failure.  B.B Warfield in his essay on Faith and Life said, "God has not sent us into the world to say the most plausible things we can think of; to touch men with what they already believe. He has sent us to preach unpalatable truths to a world lying in wickedness; apparently absurd truths to men, proud of their intellects; mysterious truths to men who are carnal and cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. Shall we despair? Certainly, if it is left to us not only to plant and to water but also to give the increase. Certainly not, if we appeal to and depend upon the Spirit of faith."

We have to remember this. We are not called upon to "give the increase," but only to proclaim the Gospel and truth, and then appeal to, and depend upon the spirit of faith. Who knows but that "T" and the young mother decided to leave that terrible place with their baby alive? I may never know, but God does, and He is responsible for the outcome...not me.

1 Corinthians 3:6 

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater

Monday, July 13, 2015

Defending the Faith

 I found a park on the Catawba with a parking lot close enough that I could launch my kayak there. It was further upriver than my now (sadly!) closed marina launch site, so I was able to explore new sections of the river I couldn't reach before. Funny how often closed doors lead to new hallways.

So much lies heavy on my heart lately, but it usually recedes while I kayak. I become caught up in the exertion, and in the beauty of God's creation. On this excursion, I passed under an old railroad bridge, and then turned into a side tributary, that meandered by a lovely little park, and secluded homes. It was very quiet, and shaded from the hot sun by trees overlapping the narrow creek. For two hours, my mind was devoid of any real thoughts except what a beautiful world God created, and how calming the sound of the kayak was, skimming through the water.

When I returned home, I read a Facebook post by someone in a group where I had posted my blog. He was aching to argue about the truth of the Bible. I tend to avoid those discussions. They rarely lead anywhere good.

CS Lewis said "A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell."  Yet over and over again, I encounter people scribbling 'darkness' on the walls of their cells.

This time, I engaged. I researched, and wrote my defense of what I believe to be true till bedtime. One day, truth will be revealed, faith will be sight, and we will be called to account for how many opportunities we squandered to change darkness to light. Lord, help us to be faithful and bold.

1 Peter 3:15 

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. ...

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Recipe for Contentment

I hurried out to kayak early yesterday in the morning, before the mercury rose to triple digits. As I prepared my kayak, I saw a little boy and his father launching their brand new kayak. The boy held a tiny fishing pole.
"Do you ever catch fish?" I asked.
"Yes," he said, "But we let them go."
"Oh, that's nice. More fun for the fish."
"Except they have a hole in their mouth. I think they die."
"Well, if you take the hook out, I bet they are ok."
"But what if you leave the hook in?" he asked, a troubled look on his face. I hope his dad was listening, and planned to take the hook out. I sensed the conscience of the child was torn between doing something fun with dad, but harming an innocent creature. That would certainly put a damper on his contentment with the outing.
"I don't know," I said, "I don't know much about fish."
But I do know if the fisherman let them go, they ought to remove the hook. Our pleasure and desires should not come at the expense of cruelty to other creatures.

I soon forgot the troubled boy, as I paddled on the serene waters. Morning is definitely the time to be on the lake. Breakfast smells wafted on the still coolish breeze, and few boats were zooming around. I kayaked an hour and a half, and when I returned, felt as though I'd been on a retreat.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” (David; Psalm 23:1-3)

When I returned, there was a group of fishermen on shore. They sat in chairs right by the boat launch, which gets pretty busy on the weekends.
"Catch any fish?" I asked.
"Maybe because of all the boats loading and unloading. Maybe you should move down there."
I pointed upshore where most of the fishermen I see seem to congregate.
"Maybe so," said one man, "But to tell you the truth, I don't care if I catch any fish. It's a day off from work, sitting in the shade in a beautiful place, just relaxing. That's enough for me." (and a clear conscience! No fish with holes in their mouths!)
"I think you have nailed the recipe for contentment," I said.

Jesus Himself found solitude in quiet places necessary. The Gospel records Him creeping away to a "desolate place" early in the morning to pray. I completely relate to this. Before the hustle and bustle of the day begins, before the full day's load of burdens are heaped upon my back, I love to go to the lake, and hear nothing but the rhythmic splash of the paddles, and the call of the water birds. I see nothing but the shimmering beauty of the quiet lake, and think nothing but what the Holy Spirit brings to mind. It is perhaps the deepest contentment in life I ever feel.
At once the Spirit sent [Jesus] out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” (Mark 1:12-13)
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)

“Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them.” (Luke 6:12-13)

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come…”‘” (Luke 11:1-2)

“When Jesus heard what had happened [that John the Baptist was beheaded], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.” (Matthew 14:13)


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Fish Out of Water

The Nursing Home residents filed in for our little monthly art class and looked at my demonstration artwork of a leaping dolphin.
"A fish out of water!" one lady said.
"It's a dolphin," I told her.
One woman in a wheelchair instantly fell asleep. That did not bode well. Slowly, residents filtered in. We had to set up extra tables and chairs. Several new people joined us. Some had no idea why they were there or what they were doing, but all engaged in the task before them. Some did indeed look like fish out of water, but all were trying their best. The hour zoomed by.

One of the sweetest stories was unfolding at one table where a man and woman sat. Both were in wheelchairs. The man struggled with awareness of what he was supposed to be doing. He didn't smile or show real interest. The woman, however, was an encourager. After each instruction I gave, before working on her own art, she showed the man what to do, and praised him as he tried to follow her guidance. At the end, she said, "Well now, you made a very nice dolphin! Did you have fun?"
He nodded.

We are all fish out of water sometimes. At one time or another, all of us find ourselves in circumstances we didn't want, and in which we don't quite know how to respond. I love Charles Swindoll's take on this. He has the perfect attitude, based on biblical principals. Swindoll said:
"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it."
“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” 
Impossible is impossible in God. He makes us fish out of water at times, to show us how He can make fish out of water breathe.

1 Peter 1:6-8

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,

Nehemiah 8:10 

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

1 Peter 5:10 

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.


Friday, July 10, 2015


Sometimes it is the little blessings in life that keep wonder and hope alive; living in the present moment, noticing the commonplace. Thoughts of past struggles or future calamities are momentarily forgotten. Yesterday, I was biking on the Greenway when I came upon a deer. She was not more than two feet from me. I stopped, and she thought about fleeing, but then decided to continue with her lunch instead. No one else was around, and despite the hot day, the thick forest lining the path cooled us with its generous green canopy of shade. We communed silently for a few moments, still in the green oasis of suspended time. Finally, I got back on my bike and pedaled onward, feeling I had been given a gift.

C.S. Lewis said: Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.

The moments I spend amidst nature are always a great comfort to me, especially when I am struggling through difficult circumstances. John Wesley said,  “Even in the greatest afflictions, we ought to testify to God, that, in receiving them from his hand, we feel pleasure in the midst of the pain, from being afflicted by Him who loves us, and whom we love.” That is true, but sometimes it takes a bit of time, maturity, and perspective to recognize pleasure in the midst of pain. Usually, all I feel in the midst of pain, is pain. However, I think God sometimes sends gentle creatures that would normally fear us, but instead abide with us, and remind us that one day, all fear, all pain, all suffering will be cast away. The wolf and the lamb shall peacefully coexist, and the fact that they once were mortal enemies will be but a pale memory.

Isaiah 65:25 

The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Released for a Moment

My little nursing home art class had requested we do a dolphin next. I see them again Friday as I do the second Friday of every month. I always practice what I am going to teach them before I do the class. When I don't practice, and think to myself,  I have drawn for half a century, surely I can wing it....I always run into problems. They are a very forgiving audience. Walking 90 years or so on this earth gives them a proper perspective. Still, it is always better to be humble and over-prepared.  I drew the dolphin at the top of this blog with time-suspended abandon and joy. It is a great comfort to me to capture a moment like this that would normally last but a second, and I can gaze on it for as long as I would like.

The bonus in preparing a pastel as a demo for the class is I lose myself in the hour or two of drawing. A piece of me that I have otherwise ignored the rest of the month comes alive again, and all the worries and cares of life drift away. There is just me and the joy of creating. I feel sorry for people who do not have this outlet. Charles Spurgeon said, "It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that makes happiness." Perhaps that's why the dolphin smiles. The joy spills over onto his face as he leaps into the air defying gravity, momentarily leaving his world. Droplets shimmer on his back,  airborne just like the dolphin, before splashing again to the heavy sea.

Once when kayaking, and only once, I saw a wild dolphin leap like in this picture. I quickly pulled out my camera and waited, hoping to capture it on film, but it did not happen again. When joy occurs, enjoy it and feel the weightlessness of the moment. If anything life teaches us, it is that nothing here on earth is permanent. Just as we can't go back and erase mistakes, we cannot hold on to joy and make it permanent. Not here on earth. God is making us ache for a place where joy will never cease. But here on earth, as C.S. Lewis says, "The useless word is encore."

Proverbs 17:22 

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart...

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Bottom Line: Choose God

The bottom line is every moment of life, we can choose right or wrong. We can all come up with zillions of rationalizations to choose wrong. Some are even quite convincing. It doesn't matter. There is right and there is wrong. When we choose right, we move towards God. When we choose wrong, we move away from Him.

I stood for forty minutes on the sidewalk outside the city's busiest abortion center, baking in the oppressive sun and wilting heat, watching a mama sit in her car crying. She had been in and out of the center several times, clearly conflicted. I called out to her with a megaphone I made from paper, but I am unsure she could hear me. Her car windows were rolled up and she was on the phone. Every time she got off the phone, or out of the car, I spoke through my makeshift megaphone.

Please. Let me help you. We have a message of hope, of truth, of life, of mercy, of grace. God loves you. He loves your baby. There is no obstacle you face that cannot be overcome.

When I wasn't speaking, I was praying. Then my team joined me, and we all prayed. I told them I would not close my eyes, however. I would watch the mama, and if she left the car, I must be ready to speak to her.

Finally, she backed the car out, and pulled out of the driveway. She paused as I approached her car, telling her to please stop, let me speak with her. Let us help her. She looked at me in anguish, tears streaming down her cheeks, and drove away.

I believe the baby is still in her womb. I suspect others on the phone were trying to convince her to kill her child, but in the end, she could not. The bottom line is every moment we can choose right or wrong. Oh Lord, help her choose right.

Joshua 24:15

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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.

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

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.