Limitation or opportunity

No, this is not my opportunity as an extra for Star Wars.

Yes, I did fall at the end of November and God could have prevented it. But He didn’t. 

Yes, God could have healed the 3 bone fractures and the bone marrow bruising (who knew?) and the profound spraining of the ligaments. But He didn’t. 

Yes, I missed the time of year I love to attend Christmas specials and craft shows and teas with friends, etc. – but I couldn’t. 

Here is the beginning of a new year and I am looking at possibly months of therapy to restore what occurred in my 3-second moment when I missed the last step in my home. 

This is the state of my life. This on top of a year of loss. 

But, please hear this …. I don’t write this for sympathy. I write this to acknowledge what is before me and not dismiss, stuff or wallow in pity and frustration. It is merely an assessment exercise. Counting losses. But acknowledging is not the same as hyper focusing. And I am choosing not to focus there. 

My focus? I raise a Hallelujah. A declaration of God’s goodness when that could come into question about His goodness and love and even ability. And doesn’t the accuser acting as prosecutor who loves to instill doubt against God want to use this opportunity to stir it into the mix. But I refuse.

I refuse because it is also an opportunity for the Spirit of the Living God to use to teach, to comfort, to apply grace and expand my capacity to tune in to a broader purpose. 

Opportunity denotes a choice.

And I choose to raise a Hallelujah. 

And so I choose to begin counting gains, while acknowledging losses and limitations.  So what have I gained? Here are some of the many gifts of grace –

  • I am leaning more on Him as I see how many things that normally have distracted me have no hold since I am limited in response to them. No, I can’t just run out to an after-Christmas sale or to the store for a needed grocery item.
  • I am learning more of the humility of dependence upon others for my needs. I can’t even get myself a cup of water. Don and I literally have reversed roles. Interesting place to be and I don’t like it. I don’t like inconveniencing him; I like to be the one to help. And yet here I am. I live it. And in living it, I am learning much about myself. About the grace of God that I might not see otherwise, a grace I would literally miss.
  • I am seeing how when one member suffers we all do. Though my ankle is greatly supported, my back aches because the reinforced boot is a different height than my walking shoe. I have to adjust my normal walk to fit the needs of the affected part but it adds stress and imbalance to the other parts. 
  • I have more space in my life to listen and enjoy a simpler pace. Time and limits have been imposed by a loving Father who knows my desire to see a need or a wish and start running (nope, no running now!) either in my racing fix-it thoughts or body to fulfill it. (This is not a treatise on whether God ’causes’ bad things to happen; that is not what I am saying. I am saying He will use anything that comes upon us in this broken world for good. And choosing to look for, and see, His goodness is a grace). But a pause is needed. A time to consider. A time of rest that God knows I need more than I would admit. How very gracious of Him.
  • Are all needs meant for me to fulfill? At this point I can ‘only‘ pray instead of running (hobbling) ahead to fix it. Why do I use ‘just‘ and ‘only‘ before I talk about prayer? Wishing I ‘could do more‘? Do more than what? Do ‘more’ than listening to God’s Spirit communicate with mine so I agree on His will on earth as it is in heaven? Do ‘more’ than trusting God to either create an opportunity for me or others to be involved, or to handle it as He sees fit? Do more than calling upon the Spirit of the Living God to intervene in a situation He has made me aware of or placed on my heart? Yes, prayer is always needed (and primary) and so is action, based on the response to the prompting of God. But if my action is limited, HE is not limited to His response to the need as I am. HIS arm is not too short, though my walking may be at present. So though I would pray before when I was aware of a need, my prayer carries the full bulk of faith in how He will meet what is needed, with or without my action. There is a time for everything under heaven…
  • This is an opportunity to celebrate the joy of first steps, baby steps as I step out. Not running. But stepping into a new day, a new goal. I am much more aware of what it takes to step and walk.
  • Taking this opportunity to adjust expectations. Taking life one day at a time. And breathe….
  • Taking this opportunity to be present in the process, whatever it is. Taking time to do things I have left behind. Taking an online class. Reading. Playing piano. These are things I don’t always give place to, but they are things that restore my spirit.
  • Taking this opportunity to exchange loss for gain. Exchanging busyness for respite. Exchanging noise for quiet listening. 
  • Taking this opportunity to practice contentment and gratitude. Of course practice is the operative word. But there is such joy in that. What a beautiful grace we have been given.

So in this process, I get to see grace all over this. Thank You, Lord, for Your creative works of grace. How You can take the challenges and reveal Your goodness is truly a grace.

May I never miss the graces You have for me everyday.


An invitation to come and consider 

the lavish,


abundant heart of God  

In the beginning….

God planned for us to BE, to live, to love, to experience the wonders of life to the fullest. God created the heavens and the earth – all things have been created by Him and for Him.

He didn’t have to give us the arrays of beauty in the color wheel, all the hues and nuanced brights and darks. He didn’t have to offer us the bright hopeful colors of sunrises and the calming beauty of sunsets – of the skies and majestic mountains and wonders of nature…

But He did.

He didn’t have to give us all the sounds of the ocean, and rivers, and birds singing, and crickets chirping and hyenas laughing and mules braying and kittens purring; and what about the flowing poetry and lilting music in all its forms and glory and how it expresses that which our hearts can barely speak … 

But He did.

He didn’t have to provide all the amazing smells around us – the scents of each individual flower, the ability to copy and transform them into fragrant perfumes and candles; the spices and herbs that are not only medicinal but tempt our senses and prepare our palates ….

But He did.

He didn’t have to provide all the wonders of food. We literally could just be filled up and head out like cars, without all the myriads of taste and textures from each corner of the world. Sauces and sweets and savories and you name it- things that tingle and crunch and provide smooth creamy ‘heavenly’ tastes for our pleasure. 

But He did.

He didn’t have to give us the human bonds of brotherhood and the sweet lullabies of motherhood as we gently plant sweet kisses on the heads of babies, our hearts swelling full of love….or a shoulder of comfort to lean on and offer strength or a hug as a token of friendship and love. 

But He did.

He didn’t have to create humans in His image so we could relate and respond and commune with Him like none other in creation. He didn’t have to design a space for our spirits to rise in worship or a place to lament in healthy ways as we experience the challenges of life in a broken world….or minds to reason and invent and expand in our knowledge of our world.

But He did.

When Adam and Eve made a choice to listen to a voice other than His, to trust the words of the father of lies rather than the Father of Life, He could have chosen to never speak again. 

But He didn’t.

When the first created people sinned and set the stage and then all people followed in the same dark, destructive path, He could have written us off, scrapped His desire for intimacy with His created ones, and began anew.

But He didn’t.

He didn’t have to provide us with the life of His Son to live with and among us and show a life of example, of purity, of wholeness of grace and truth, performing miracles and lifting our eyes and spirits heavenward. In His righteousness and holiness, He could have destined us to a deserved judgment of eternal death in hell.

But He didn’t.

In His love, He lavishly demonstrated it toward us while we were yet sinners – 

As if that wasn’t enough, we were given His Son who offered not only His life on earth, but His life in death as a sacrifice to rescue us in ways we desperately needed but had no way to achieve. 

And if that wasn’t enough, His Son who rose in victory over our enemy Satan, the ravages of the broken world, the curse of sin, and shame and death – He also sent to us the Holy Spirit to not only be WITH us but to be WITHIN us, never to leave. He not only promises never to abandon us, but also provides comfort, strength, discernment, hope, conviction, teaching and leading us further into the image of Jesus. And so much more.

And if that wasn’t enough, we are offered eternal life in heaven, where God lives, where there is only light and life and love and purpose and joy and peace and no pain or sickness or sin or death.

And this is only what we know about this mysterious, incomprehensible, loving, yet eternal God who lives in infinite revelation of His holiness and character. 

There is so much more yet to be revealed than what we already know.  

“Things which the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, who obey Him, and who gratefully recognize the benefits that He has bestowed].”

 For God has unveiled them and revealed them to us through the [Holy] Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things [diligently], even [sounding and measuring] the [profound] depths of God                                     [the divine counsels and things far beyond human understanding].                                                For what person knows the thoughts and motives of a man except the man’s spirit within him?                So also no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.                                          Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the [Holy] Spirit who is from God, so that we may know and understand the [wonderful] things freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak of these things, not in words taught or supplied by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit,                           combining and interpreting spiritual thoughts with spiritual words [for those being guided by the Holy Spirit]. 1 Corinthians 2:9-13 AMP

Mom’s hands

During her last days, Mom’s hands  – hands which were always busy and diligent to do whatever was needed, obedient to whatever the call of Christ was upon her, now became fidgety. Was this her eternal spirit longing to be free from this body which housed it so faithfully these 94 years? As I sat with her I would hold them and massage them. I will let you listen in on one of our final times together.

“Mom, these hands have been gentle all my life – these hands have gently rocked us as kids and cleaned out our booboos. And then have done the same for our children.

These hands have beautifully played the violin, pouring forth the song of praise within your heart as you shared your gift with others.

These hands have been resourceful – sewing and crafting things out of scraps and using the creativity God gave you for the benefit of others.

These hands have opened hundreds of books, feeding your intelligence and thirst to understand life and the world around you – and then excitedly sharing the books and the knowledge gleaned with others.

These hands have written likely thousands of cards, letters and checks as you generously and intuitively lifted others up and supported them in caring ways. They have written countless notes – I find them inside your Bible and all throughout your apartment of the treasures you find and the joy in wanting to teach others the truths you’ve discovered.

These hands have labored in preparing many meals, not only for your family, but in hospitality for any visiting missionary welcome to our home growing up, and countless meals provided for others in need.

These hands busy all throughout your life, were also folded quietly in prayer as you lifted up so many to Our Father in heaven. Your prayers have sustained me and countless others in known and unknown ways.

And now these hands are anxious to reach out and grasp the hand of Jesus who is reaching for you. 

Go ahead, Mom, take His hand.

And as you arrive in heaven, these hands will embrace all your loved ones who have gone before; they will spontaneously lift up in praise to God.  Remember to save us a place at the banquet table for I look forward to joining you there.”

You have heard it said … but I say

You have heard that it has been said ………..but I say………..

In Matthew 5 it is recorded that Jesus spoke this over and over to His listeners, outlining what they had heard and comparing it to His words of life. He, as the Truth, spoke with authority.  He appeals to us today as well, to heed (meaning to listen to and follow) His words. How important for us to embrace this model. Yes, we hear so many things, often in direct or implied contradiction to what we know, understand, or even to what was previously touted as ‘truth’. These things must be measured against what He says.

We are daily, hourly, being immersed with the opinions and ‘facts’ of others in the world which puts our discernment at risk.  These tensions influence us without our even knowing it. We have heard MANY things being said. Everyone feels they have a valid opinion, everyone sees what they deem ‘truth’ through their own experience. And then do ‘what is right in their own eyes,” having lost or dismissed the spiritual compass of God’s Word. With all of this noise surrounding us in the world, it is difficult to remain impartial, or to not get cynical wondering if anyone speaks truth and is worthy of our trust.

And in our own personal circle, too often it is overlooked that there may just be another perspective on any given situation. When we hear one account, we are instantly swayed and conclusions are drawn. Yet Solomon in his wisdom reminded us that there is more than one way to look at a situation and often our judgment and understanding can be broadened when we seek to at least question ‘the other side’ for clarity.  ‘In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.’ (Proverbs 18:17). We have probably all experienced having been personally misrepresented, and our perspective not sought to clarify. I know I have, and it really stings, doesn’t it? How much more must God feel, when we are surrounded and often influenced by the opinions of others, yet His is the ONLY TRUE perspective! His is the lens through which we must peer to get a sense of truth and perspective.

So, consider what you have heard – but then seek out and measure it against God’s eternal, all-wise, Spirit breathed perspective. “But I say…. We need to grow rich in discernment as the cultural lines between right and wrong blur and the spiritual darkness seeks to hide His face. All things need to be brought to His light for true understanding – whether it is the news, the opinions of others or even our own personal feelings and perspectives. What He says brings truth, and life, and light. Since we are called to be the lights in the world, by the True Light of the world, we need Him to shed His light on any subject. How else will any not of the Light be able to find their way? What are some qualities of light?

Light separates out and pierces the darkness.

Light brings insight and understanding.

Light brings hope and guidance, like the light to our path.

As we let our light shine, others will see our good works and glorify God in heaven.

What Jesus says matters. I love that Jesus came in grace and truth in perfect measure. Just like a cup of hot tea, grace and truth swirl together and are inseparable. In a world where grace is withheld and truth is questioned or dismissed, it is ever more important that we live out His grace and are guided by His truth, which anchors our souls, and provides a doorway for others to see Him. May we always follow His words, no matter what others may speak or how convincing it may seem; may we always listen to His invitation to hear “…but I say.”

Won’t you be my neighbor?

When I look at you, what do I see? Red? Blue? Black? Brown? 

No. I see neighbor. Like the ‘love your neighbor’ kind. Like the ‘treat your neighbors as you want them to treat you’ kind. Who is my neighbor? Jesus answered that masterfully. We are all one another’s neighbors. Mr. Rogers, favorite of generations, promoted the value of being a good neighbor.

So I want to share as a neighbor a few thoughts swirling in my head. I really don’t want to needlessly add to the plethora of words on social media. But I want to share what I have observed and realize it is hard to keep silent. We all observe things. In my quest for discernment, I want to rightly observe and wisely conclude. I have seen us all rightly observe issues to a degree, but often fall (or jump) to various conclusions. And that proves to be divisive and deadly. I have seen and personally experienced the effects of others jumping to wrong conclusions, and how it devastates relationships. How much more on such a large scale as our country?

So maybe I will begin this way. Don has an autoimmune component to his body. In short, his body, with each system created and designed to work together to benefit health and life, receives a wrong message to his immune system. That which is designed to seek out and destroy any rogue cells, any bacteria or viruses or cancer – basically anything that would cause illness, poor health and death – actually turns on itself. Somehow it now ‘believes’ that nerve tissue is the enemy and has garnered its forces to damage any nerve tissue it locates. It once turned against his own thyroid tissue – and destroyed it. When all systems work together, including this needful protective immune system – health is enjoyed. This message it has received is untrue and wreaks havoc over his whole body. At one time, he had a an infection caused by slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae, an enemy stealthily hiding parasitically deep in his nerves and destroying them, but that enemy is no longer alive. (Yes, it’s a long story, but for another time) Ironically, his own body system has now furthered the original damage, producing pain, limiting use, restricting sleep and affecting his whole body. 

In the big picture, we as people, as the human race, have so much in common. We truly are more alike than different, sharing the same needs physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The needs to be loved and have purpose, etc. are universal. Our Creator is of such majesty and magnitude that He is expressed in infinite numbers of ways through each of us individually and collectively  – through our thoughts, talents, skills, backgrounds, ethnicities, skin color, etc. Our differences beautifully distinguish us, but now are used to divide us. 

As US citizens, we have a common Constitution set up for the prosperity and protections of our nation. Though we all experience that differently, the structure is for our health and benefit. 

However, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is at risk. And sometimes those pursuits are not for the benefits of others, but rather exploit them. These are not the wholesome pursuits of which I will speak.

Knowing that each of us are all created as image bearers of God, I will always stand for life for others, beginning with the pre-born. I cannot fathom a group that celebrates the ‘right’ to take the life of another – over 60 million in our country alone. This ‘right’ is sadly reminiscent of those who held to the belief that one people group could ‘own’ another and require forced labor from them, exercising their ‘right’ to abuse, hunt down, and destroy those made in the image of God. We fought a war against that ‘right’ and for the rights of those caught in slavery who could not speak for themselves. I stand for the rights of babies who cannot speak for themselves. No, I cannot endorse a platform that not only allows this atrocity but promotes it fully aware of the excruciating pain they experience as they are being dismembered, even up to birth. It is science. It is an unthinkable, unconscionable stain that runs deeply in our country. 

This is deadly autoimmunity at its worst. This is turning against our own humanity, DNA, our own legacy and future – our life. 

Beyond her baby, I also stand for the woman dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and am devoted to walking with her to other life-giving options – life-giving for her as well as the baby. I love the option of adoption, not just because we have adopted two children of our own, but because it is a wonderfully creative option, providing a place for those possibly considered ‘unwanted.’ If we allocated the money designated for abortions through Planned Parenthood toward adoption, many more babies and children would be embraced into loving homes. This is something I can stand for and endorse. Our compassion and creativity can extend beyond only offering abortion as an option. And then calling it ‘good.’

I also stand for the lives of those abused, the minorities and those marginalized in our society. For the elderly, medically/emotionally fragile and those with disabilities. I would like to feel that I would not stand by taking photos of George Floyd being choked to death, but would be among those seeking for other means to help him. However, taking this and other several injustices to the streets for awareness as a demonstration of the need for reform is very different than unleashing hatred and destroying and looting and dismantling a whole system. This is not seeking justice, by turning it against others. This injustice is not the answer to injustice. Rather than allow it to be considered ‘normal’ or peaceful while whole lives and livelihoods of other lives who also matter suffer, we need to speak up and redirect this sense of injustice to building relationships and improvement of needed reforms. Many of those businesses were set up by immigrants who came to live the dream of establishing businesses to benefit their community; many were minorities where their ‘neighbors’ came in and helped themselves to the contents of their stores. This is turning against our own communities – a deadly form of autoimmunity that benefits no one.

This is divisive autoimmunity.

Further turning the hatred toward those with blue uniforms trained to protect society ironically takes the prejudice some have experienced and retargets it toward another people group. No one group as a whole should be forced to pay for the sins of the few. This is not justice. This is further erosion of the value and dignity of life, of not recognizing the image of God upon those He has uniquely created to bear His love, His light, His justice, His wisdom, His peace. This redirecting of hatred objectifies individuals, which somehow justifies the hatred and murder of fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, sons and daughters.

This is the wrong message of autoimmunity turned against itself.

I also stand for the lives of those being trafficked. The current administration has rooted out hundreds of traffickers and brought those enslaved to freedom. Freeing those caught in this modern day slavery is an issue we can all participate in; we can use our energies toward something purposeful. We can together use our talents, skills, energies and using them together as one body, one nation, to protect and ensure liberty for others who cannot speak for themselves. This would take those wrongs in our history and seek positive ways to learn from them and redeem them. Wouldn’t it be great to eradicate this atrocity in our lifetime?

This would be a good use of ‘immunity.’

Some have said that the conservatives are ‘one issue’ voters. If the issue is LIFE, then may that be said of me. But I qualify it in that it includes all forms of life from the womb to the tomb, covering all peoples. Mother Teresa saw the face of Jesus in all ‘life’- the poor, the lepers, the marginalized. 

Just as the message in an autoimmune component gets distorted and used against its own body, so I have seen the message against this current administration get lost and distorted. I have heard those decrying how misogynist our president is, yet seen half or more of his cabinet/representatives are women who are fiercely loyal to him and his platform. (Forbes 6/29/19 ‘Hundreds Of Women Have Lead Roles In The Trump Administration. 45 More Await Senate Confirmation’-Roslyn Layton)

I have heard that he is racist, yet seen him promoting minorities and elevating their standard of living in many ways, among them through funding for colleges, school choice which levels the educational playing field, innovation for economic advance in businesses and work, second-chance initiatives for those in prison, etc. He has denounced white supremacists multiple times, though that narrative persists. Those who know him best (not the media) say he is neither racist nor misogynist.

This President has gathered those around him strong in character – unquestionably in areas where he is not, which is a sign of a good leader. I say this not to justify those character flaws, because I have no defense for them. I recognize there are other areas where he is not deemed a good leader. However, God is his Judge, just as He is for all past presidents and just as He is mine. I choose discernment and leave judgment to God.

His record in keeping our alliance with Israel strong is admirable. His seeking peace, and success in forming treaties with those long-standing enemies is also admirable. This has been the unsuccessful aim of many presidents who have gone before for decades.

His strong stand for religious rights is notable, stronger than any president I am aware of, including rights of those on college campuses and businesses to be protected against those who would seek to override them. On the world stage, he and our VP sat before the UN in advocating for religious rights of people of all faiths undergoing persecution. (‘Trump Calls Religious Freedom an ‘eternal right’ in UN Speech’ By Megan – September 24, 2019)

What you seek for, you find. If you seek to find many good things this administration has done in these four years, you can find much to celebrate, much for the good of our ‘body’, our nation. And if you seek to find negative things, you can also find things to criticize. This is also true of the contender with his 47 years of seeking to evoke change. And of course, in the history of our country there is noble and not-so-noble.

The decision before us is not merely between two flawed men running for the highest office one can seek. It is between two opposing ideologies; as you look at the platforms and those who are on either ‘side’, it really is between seeking to protect our Constitution and improve the lives of those in our country (and world) and those who lean towards following the path of socialism, a path other countries have taken and it has taken them away from the freedoms we experience and take for granted. One only has to read history and listen to immigrants who have fled those countries to come here to get a fuller picture of that path. Redefining it does not change the outcome.

We face a spiritual battle for the soul of America. Our true enemy knows that a house divided against itself cannot stand, just like an autoimmune-directed body will eventually destroy itself from the inside out. Red is not the enemy; blue is not the enemy. We, as one, are red, white and blue (making periwinkle, one of my favorite colors!) To use another analogy, we have two eyes, each seeing something from a different vantage point, each needful to see the full and deeper picture. Each can separately conclude that the other eye is not seeing rightly and seek to diminish or eradicate it. But then the whole body suffers. We need to vote our values and respectfully recognize that others are doing the same.

As neighbors, we have the privilege of seeing one another and believing the best, of loving each other despite holding a different viewpoint, and still seeking for the best wholesome health of our country. Even among believers there is a divide regarding what it means to vote our personal consciences. I know there are those who differ from my viewpoint, but I don’t love them any less and I hope they don’t love me any less. Love is not only a commandment revealing the loving reflection of our Creator, but it is also something that benefits us all as a body.

I read a friend’s blog, one who recently lost her husband, musing on the realities of long-lasting friendships and our political stands. Here is a quote from her…

“If you’re like me, and you see things the way I do, vote red. Vote as red as you can. And if you’re not, and you have blue ideas, vote blue. Stand for your values and vote for your causes.

But live purple. Live with the understanding that relationships matter, that your friends and family are yours for a reason, and that as Americans (and if you’re like me, then as a Christian), we have countless examples of people who found the way to live in peace.

It might mean honest conversations, or even a debate. It might mean agreeing to joke good-naturedly about it. It might even mean avoiding the topic entirely. I mean, seriously, it could really be a healthy thing to talk about something else, you know?

Vote red. Vote blue, if that’s your view. But live purple. It just might make more of a difference than you think.” Donna-Jean Breckenridge

Final thought – while we have to practice physical distancing protocols this year, let’s not distance socially. Let’s continue to bring our hearts together and not do the ‘autoimmune thing.” So neighbors, let’s live out “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

And live purple.

Can You Breathe?

2020 – a year of major life change, uncertainty, unrest

Also a year of awareness of breathing. Something we naturally do without a thought.  Or did.

It began with our pulse quickening, our breaths anticipating the coming of this year 2020 – the year of new vision. But then the coronavirus hit – a virus that affects our respiratory system. In many cases, it affects it so much, people require respirators in order to breathe. Not something they can do on their own, but have become agonizingly aware of each breath. 

Then came the masks, which also affect our breathing. I have become much more aware of my breathing as it fogs my glasses and heats my face so that I cannot wait to take it off and take in deep breaths and breathe freely.

Then came the atrocious incident involving George Floyd and his famous last haunting words, “I can’t breathe.” What a horrible way to die, with someone literally blocking your airway until you expire, breathing your last breath on earth.

Then came the riots, with us holding our breath. Which statue would be next? Which city, town or neighborhood? We felt ourselves breathing shallowly. 

Then news of the fires from the West filled our airwaves, where people could not breathe fresh air for days to weeks – and still experience it. Ash covered the sun, covers all surfaces and is in the air. Breathing becomes labored and dangerous.

The air is being sucked out of us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We are gasping for fresh air. Precious free oxygen that we have taken for granted is so life-giving, feeding all the cells in our bodies. 

The things people breathe out in regards to this election have become toxic. People breathing threats to those who disagree with their personal view?! Threatening with more riots, more fires, more taking of the freedom to breathe from others?

And now we, with bated breath, wonder about the outcome of this election. It would seem that no matter who ‘wins’ we all lose. Neither side trusts the other, and neither will likely concede that this election will be fair. Whoever sits in the Oval Office will have a civil (or not so civil) war within our culture. A war of ideas, of opinions. What once inspired us as a people, e pluribus unum, to greatness, is now tested and seen in disdain. And though we are more alike than we are different – we all breathe in 02 and breathe out C02, each of us are purposefully made in the image of God – we are being played in this culture of distrust. The strategy is to divide us in our homes, in the church, in our communities and in our country. And everyone points fingers at each other. The division comes in many formswith our differences coming between us rather than enhancing us in beautiful diversity of thought, color, backgrounds, etc.

Being played? By whom? To whom should I point my finger? The point is that fingers should not be pointed at individuals because it is a spiritual battle. It is not won in the voting booths. Not won in the streets. It is won in our hearts. It begins with what we choose to breathe in.

Respire. Expire. Inspire. All have the same root ‘spire’ within it. To ‘breathe.’  The question is what am I breathing? What am I taking into my body, my mind, my spirit? What I take in, I breathe out. Are they things that are toxic and deadly – and do I therefore spread them to others like this deadly virus or the spreading fires?

The tongue is a deadly fire………Humanity is capable of taming every bird and beast in existence, even reptiles and sea creatures great and small. But no man has ever demonstrated the ability to tame his own tongue! It is a spring of restless evil, brimming with toxic poisons. Ironically this same tongue can be both an instrument of blessing to our Lord and Father and a weapon that hurls curses upon others who are created in God’s own image.One mouth streams forth both blessings and curses. My brothers and sisters, this is not how it should be. Does a spring gush crystal clear freshwater and moments later spurt out bitter salt water? My brothers and sisters, does a fig tree produce olives? Is there a grapevine capable of growing figs? Can salt water give way to freshwater?” James 3:7-12 Voice

Kind of hits right between the eyes. Right where we need to see it for what it is.

Here are a few thoughts on the meaning of ‘inspire” or breathing to ponder : 

  • The Latin for inspire is “enspiren, “to fill (the mind, heart, etc., with grace, etc.); also “to prompt or induce someone to do something” (Preferably something notable, noteworthy to bring forth good)
  • Old French enspirer; – “to influence, move, or guide (as to speech or action) through divine or supernatural agency or power.”
  • Orthodox Jews revere the name of God to such a degree they will not speak it. It is composed of consonants without vowels. YHWH. It is breathed. Our lives are God-breathed.
  • The word for spirit is ‘pneuma’ – breath or wind. The Lord God, Who is a Spirit, breathed from His nostrils the breath of life and humans became living beings. We are set apart from the rest of creation because we were made in the image of God Himself. It is our honor to reflect His nature in the words we breathe out.

It is our honor and stewardship to use our breath from Him to praise God, to offer words of hope, to be clear, drinkable water of blessing, to inspire – and hopefully resuscitate – others who are losing hope, faith and joy with our life-giving words. Let us speak God-breathed words of truth of hope of life. This generation is facing record numbers of suicides and crises in opioids – signs of hopelessness. Let our words breathe hope into one another. 

Let us be champions of life and love and kindness. Let us not fill our mouths with words that degrade, mock or demean another created in the image of God. We can disagree civilly and choose to breathe life into those God brings our way. Let it be said of us that we walk, talk, breathe, speak the words of the spirit of God.

Let us be like the ‘spire’ of a church – ever-pointing up toward the Source of Life, Truth and Hope.

Psalm 34:2. The Passion Translation

‘I’m boasting of you and all your works, so let all who are discouraged take heart.’

Ephesians 4:29

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Psalm 80:18 The Message

‘We will never turn our back on you; breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name!’

You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise to You only

You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord

All the earth will shout Your praise

Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing

Great are You, Lord

Please share other worship songs that speak of breath, breathing. There are many to choose from!

21 Day Challenge

October 13, 2020

21 Day challenge before the November 3, 2020 election

True confession. In the last election, Donald Trump was the last candidate on the platform of the 17 possibilities I would have voted for. When he became the choice for the Republican Party, I was greatly dismayed. There was something about his abrasiveness, arrogance, vulgarity and his brashness that was offensive and not ‘presidential.’ I think he reminded me of friends’ husbands who were abusive, and former bullies from childhood. I have a strong sense of loyalty and justice, so I take things deeply into my heart when those I love have been hurt. I believe that anyone who has been hurt or wounded by individuals with similar characteristics have associated him with such people in their lives, and it brings out negative emotions like hurt, anger – and even hate. 

I also have a deep sense of compassion and once he took office, I began praying for Melania, wondering how could she live with such a bully. One day, it was as if God touched me on the shoulder and said in His gentle but probing way, “So you’ll pray for her but not for him?” 

Yeah, that’s pretty much it, Lord.


So in my life, though I am not always successful, I have a deeply-held conviction that when God reveals truth, He expects immediate obedience. I don’t have to like it, agree with it, or understand it – but I do need to follow it. Without delay. Justifying, deviating or delay is the same as disobedience and not walking in line with His truth. There are some things His word is not expressly clear about and requires earnest seeking of His Spirit to guide. But in most things He is clear. Loving God. Loving others. Being generous. Reconciling with Him or others before coming to Him in worship. Dealing with any sin, fear, doubt, attitude. Don’t judge, steal, lie, commit adultery… get it. He clearly has told us to pray for those in governmental authority over us. There is no way around it. He didn’t include a disclaimer about their behavior or lifestyle or whether I agree with or even like them. 

Pray for them. Period.

How do I pray for him, Lord? 

Pray that you will see him as I do. Not according to the opinions of others. Not as you associate him with past filters and emotions. But through My eyes.

And so I began, and continue to this day. 

Has my prayer changed him? I am not sure. To be fair, I have heard him speak with passion about Israel, about the unborn, about wanting people of all ethnicities to be free to lead productive lives, about freedom of religious rights, and better care for the elderly, the poor, and the veterans. There has been much action in this administration freeing those caught in the demeaning system of human trafficking, our modern-day slavery. I listen to whole speeches when I can, rather than taking someone else’s clip (and lens) on them. I even listened to those who were featured at the convention – everyday people like me whose lives were changed through his listening to their needs and taking measures – prison reform (and ministries formed from it!), funding of colleges for black Americans, justice for minorities, etc. I saw some of the ‘labels’ being taken down. And many other presidential values and actions I would want from a governmental leader. (When I look at a leader, I also look at those they have chosen to be around them. They have his ear. And he has chosen some very godly men and women who speak truth to him.)

And I have also heard him say things that I would not repeat and cannot justify, nor will I defend.

(Sadly, I can also say that about almost every candidate running for the presidency. I do have respect for VP Pence’s measured and gracious words).

Has my prayer condoned his words and actions that I do not agree with or that stand in opposition to God’s heart? No, prayer does NOT condone or justify, but it keeps me from casting the first stone. Or the second, or joining with others casting stones. My prayer for our president has changed me. Isn’t that just like God?! And what would the president, or any of us, do without the prayers of others? We are the portals through which God’s will can be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Seeking to see others through God’s eyes of grace and truth makes us people of compassion. People of discernment. People who can leave True justice and judgment with God, Who uses my prayer in ways I cannot see in a bigger plan I can’t imagine. Yes, we are people who hate sin, but love the Imago Dei imprint He has left upon every human. We are people who support what is good and right, and stand against that which is not. And of course, we are people who first deal with what it brings up in our own hearts first before praying to ‘change’ others. 

Sanctify us in Your truth, Lord. Your word (alone) is True.

So the challenge now that we are 21 days out from this election, is to pray for the President. To pray daily that we will see him as God sees him. Not as the press sees him. Not as our wounds might project onto him. I believe we will find what we look for. When we look for the bad in others, there is plenty to find. When we look for the good, there is much to see as well, and it brings a much more balanced view. When we find the good, praise God. When we find the not-so-good, pray to God. Either way, our focus is on praising God and not judging flawed people. 

My hope is that when people look at me, I am not defined by my worst decisions, but hopefully the imprint of God in my life and His reflection through me. And so I want to also offer that to others. To see myself and to see others through His eyes. Let’s begin with our President. And any of the candidates and people of authority over the decisions of our country. May God’s eyes of grace and truth be ours.

And may we respond with obedience, faith and courage.

The Woodcutter’s Wisdom

Max Lucado

I love this story and it has been a good reminder through the years since I read it. It has challenged me to observe life, people, and circumstances through the gift of my senses, but seek discernment from the spiritual ‘eyes’ of God. In our current culture, we have all become critics and judges and jury, yet only God truly knows what is in the hearts of those we judge. He provides discernment if we are seeking, but He alone is the ultimate judge of circumstances and people.

Please enjoy this story, so applicable to today. Thanks, Max!

The Woodcutter’s Wisdom

by Max Lucado

“Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village.  Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse.  Even the king coveted his treasure.  A horse like this had never been seen before – such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused.  ‘This horse is not a horse to me,’ he would tell them.  ‘It is a person.  How could you sell a person?  He is a friend, not a possession.  How could you sell a friend?’  The man was poor and the temptation was great.  But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable.  All the village came to see him.  ‘You old fool,’ they scoffed, ‘we told you that someone would steal your horse.  We warned you that you would be robbed.  You are so poor.  How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal?  It would have been better to have sold him.  You could have gotten whatever price you wanted.  No amount would have been too high.  Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.’

The old man responded, ‘Don’t speak too quickly.  Say only that the horse is not in the stable.  That is all we know; the rest is judgment.  If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know?  How can you judge?’

The people contested, ‘Don’t make us out to be fools!  We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed.  The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.’

The old man spoke again.  ‘All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone.  The rest I don’t know.  Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say.  All we can see is a fragment.  Who can say what will come next?’

The people of the village laughed.  They thought that the man was crazy.  They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money.  But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it.  He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty.  Now he had proved that he was, indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned.  He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest.  Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him.  Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke.  ‘Old man, you were right and we were wrong.  What we thought was a curse was a blessing.  Please forgive us.’

The man responded, ‘Once again, you go too far.  Say only that the horse is back.  Say only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge.  How do you know if this is a blessing or not?  You see only a fragment.  Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge?  You read only one page of a book.  Can you judge the whole book?  You read only one word of a phrase.  Can you understand the entire phrase?

‘Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word.  All you have is a fragment!  Don’t say that this is a blessing.  No one knows.  I am content with what I know.  I am not perturbed by what I don’t.’

‘Maybe the old man is right,’ they said to one another.  So they said little.  But down deep, they knew he was wrong.  They knew it was a blessing.  Twelve wild horses had returned with the one horse.  With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son.  The young man began to break the wild horses.  After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs.  Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.

‘You were right,’ they said.  You proved you were right.  The dozen horses were not a blessing.  They were a curse.  Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you.  Now you are poorer than ever.’

The old man spoke again.  ‘You people are obsessed with judging.  Don’t go so far.  Say only that my son broke his legs.  Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse?  No one knows.  We only have a fragment.  Life comes in fragments.’

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country.  All the young men of the village were required to join the army.  Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured.  Once again, the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken.  There was little chance they would return.  The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle.  They would never see their sons again.

‘You were right, old man,’ they wept.  ‘God knows you were right.  This proves it.  Your son’s accident was a blessing.  His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you.  Our sons are gone forever.’

The old man spoke again.  ‘It is impossible to talk with you.  You always draw conclusions.  No one knows.  Say only this:  Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not.  No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse.  No one is wise enough to know.  Only God knows.'”

Just a whisper

I am speechless.

Well, to be more accurate, I am voiceless. As in no voice. Laryngitis. Something I have never experienced.  It gives me a new appreciation for being able to speak, because I have a lot to say, even if I choose not to say it. But I now have no choice, no voice. 

I can listen. And I can whisper. 

But in a crowd, I am unheard. 

I was able to portray being John the Baptizer and share the early life of Christ to the kids at Bible Adventure. God gave him a powerful message to declare and then a voice with which to do it. What would have happened if he had ‘lost his voice?’  I, on the other hand, noticed afterward my throat felt scratchy. 

I was able to talk to a few at our family reunion – people I rarely see and am interested in their lives. I found, even then, I chose to use my words sparingly and asked more questions so I could listen and not have to speak much. Technically, this is my ‘normal’ mode, but I was much more aware of it as I could feel my voice becoming a bit squeaky and weak. 

What if those words I spoke were the last words I could ever speak? Makes me think about what I say. Have I chosen words that build up, or words that tear down? Words that speak life – or not? Words are truly like seeds that go through the ears and down to the hearts of others. What seeds am I sowing? What fruit will come forth? “Let the words of my mouth …….be pleasing to You….” Words filled with honor, and truth and life. Words of hope.

It truly is frustrating to not be able to speak. There is more I wish I could say. And yet there are many who literally have no voice. Babies in the womb, with others left to determine the course of their lives. Non-verbal individuals who depend on caregivers to ‘read’ their thoughts or feelings. 

We all want to be heard. I take a lot for granted, even my voice. It is a gift, not a right.

Surprisingly, however,  I notice that it also is empowering to be only able to whisper. Those who truly want to hear what I have to say, need to stop what they are doing, lean in and with great intention, listen to my whispering. In a world where we don’t often look at one another because we are multi-tasking, it requires a setting down of what we are doing. It requires leaning in closer. It even requires sacrifice.  

When others do this, it makes me feel valued, like my words are important and worth hearing. And if there are those who don’t take the time or make the effort, it’s ok. If they don’t want to hear me amidst all the other noise and voices of life, I will not (truthfully, I literally CANNOT) raise my voice for their attention. 

Kind of gives me deeper understanding about hearing the voice of God. Is it up to Him to shout in order to get my attention, or is it rather up to me to seek it? 

He is not voiceless. 

He has much to say. 

What He says is priceless. 

Will I in 2020 put things down, lean in closer, and give heed to His words? 

The rugged path toward love – and peace

Love in the same manner as Christ loved us.” This is repeated multiple times and ways throughout the message of Jesus and the letters in the New Testament.

But, how Lord, how do we love those who are unloveable, who intentionally seem to brush against the raw areas of woundedness in our lives, even the ones who are deliberately (or even thoughtlessly) hurtful or offensive to people and their beliefs, opinions and even faith? So many of the leaders (and their followers) have become very mean and even to the point of promoting hostility, which grates at my spirit that longs for peace and unity. How do I show love to them when it flies in the face of my sense of justice and kindness? Surely I can be civil, but love  them? Is love something we can just conjure up – especially when others seem to delight in being oppositional?  And in many ways if I am honest, I just don’t want to work at this love. It requires too much of me.

And yet, Lord, You have called us to love and left an example for us to follow. Your love is for ALL, even those who oppose You. “While we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Because of Your love. How can we as a culture move forward instead of backward – from tolerance to acceptance to love? It has to be supernaturally given – there is no natural way to achieve it !

Cindy, there is a progression of steps to loving others as I do. Be warned – Your heart is not a vacuum. If you don’t invest your love toward them, then hate fills and rules your heart.  

The path to love as I do begins with humility, which is counter-cultural. It begins by asking to see others as I see them. This opens the door for compassion which opens the way for forgiveness, which in turn allows for love and kindness, which then produces peace.

When you see through your eyes or the eyes of others, your heart gets clogged with information, even misinformation. Possibly incomplete facts and wrong conclusions  – but not TRUTH. Then your emotions get caught up and embroiled in it all. BUT you can begin by asking Me to show others to you through MY eyes. My eyes are full of grace and truth. Any other ‘seeing’ is false and not based on truth. Any other perception of another is based upon your self-filters of hurt and blind judgment. And if it is not My judgment, it is not ‘righteous judgment.’  

Only when you choose to see others through My eyes, and only My eyes, will you capture My heart for them. Then you can walk in compassion toward them, knowing it is not flesh and blood that you should be warring against, speaking against and harboring negative thoughts about them. That is not My way. If you are to love My way, it can only begin as you see others through My eyes. Then as you pray in obedience and join WITH My heart FOR them, I will fill your heart with compassion. Compassion paves the way for forgiveness – without which you cannot truly love as I love. Forgiveness of others as I have forgiven them paves the way to love as I love. This is how I love you, this is how I love all I have created in My image. 

Fill your heart with worship and direct your thoughts toward Me, being thankful in everything I show you. Thankfulness paves the way for Me to work in your life – and yes, through you into the lives of others. Your life is a picture, a visual, of My love. If your eyes are focused on the faults of others, your heart cannot be filled with the fruit of My Spirit. If it is not filled with peace and joy and love, it does not reflect Me, either in what I have for you, or what I have for others through you.

Ponderances of Christ’s call as recorded in Colossians 3:12-17-