Tuesday, December 28, 2010


"A faithful person will be richly blessed." (Proverbs 28:20)

We hear a lot of talk about wealth these days. Who has it? Who wants it? Who squanders it? It doesn't take more than a few moments of current events before someone is screaming about it. And while the world may not know it, I feel I must proclaim...

I'm Rich.

Not according to my bank account.
Not because of my social standing.
Not due to the neighborhood in which I dwell.
Not because of my car, my clothes, or anything I now possess.
In all the areas of wealth measured in society, my standing is quite ordinary.

But I will say it again...I am rich.

I am rich in love...
I have been married to my college sweetheart for over 18 years, and I still adore him. While time has changed us both, I still get butterflies when my honey walks through the door each night.

I am rich in laughter...
Three rambunctious and comical children fill the rooms of my home with games, giggling, jokes, and fun. There is never a day that we don't laugh together. NEVER.

I am rich in friendship...

My circle is small and strong. A handful of sensational, Godly women stand as my hedge when the world around me gets crazy. They accept me for who I am today, and encourage me to grow into who God created me to be. With love and support, these women fill my life with a sense of belonging.

I am rich in family...
Though I reside hundred of miles away from nearly all of my extended family, I have found they are never more than a phone call or text message away. Whether in celebration and triumph or grief and fear, my family is never far from my heart.

And most of all, I am rich in faith...
I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father that I treasure above all others in my life. He is my Hiding Place, my Redeemer, My Savior, my Comforter, my Rock, and my Friend. Over the years, I have learned to walk with Him through all of life's adventures. He quiets my fears, hears my prayers, speaks into my circumstances, and brings light into my darkness.

We are warned in Ecclesiastes, "Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income." (Ecclesiastes 5:10) In short, wealth will never be enough to satisfy our need for riches. To the contrary, true riches are not measured in dollar signs, real estate deals, or clothing labels. Indeed, real treasure is stored in the deepest places of the heart.

As my heart swells with gratitude for all that God has lavished on me in this life, I am reminded of this simple truth... I'm Rich. For I am richly blessed by the Lord.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bread and Sparrows

Jack got the bread out of the pantry and quizzically asked, "Hey Mom. What's that thing called that Dad's pay when parents get divorced? You know the money that takes care of the kids? What is that called?"

It seemed an odd question for him to ask while he was packing his lunch on this busy Wednesday morning. And now, he had my full attention. "Child support, honey." I replied surprised. "Why do you ask?"

"My friend Derek (name has been changed to protect the innocent) doesn't eat lunch on the days we have Chess Club," Jack said sadly. "His parents are divorced and his Dad doesn't pay child support. His mom doesn't have money to buy extra stuff for their cupboards so Derek can't bring his lunch and he doesn't like to wait in line on Chess Club day...he'll miss too much. So, he just doesn't eat that day. So, I've been sharing my lunch with him."

"Son, why don't you pack an extra sandwich and an apple for Derek from now on for Chess Club day? We can make sure Derek has lunch AND plays Chess," I replied. "And," I continued, let's pray that God shows Derek how precious he is in God's sight.

It was a pain I know all too well. For, I too have a biological father who refused to pay child support. As a child, I remember hearing his animosity about having to "support" us. Feeling ashamed to be just one more inconvenient expense, I remember thinking how strange it was that my Dad could afford cigarettes. A new dog. Even a sailboat. But that my needs were insignificant. Not many years later, I became a forgotten obligation as his sporadic payments stopped completely and he dropped out of my life forever. I was the same age as my son today. Lucky for me, my mother married a man who stepped into those shoes and took on the responsibilities left behind by my father. I was grateful and we never wanted for anything. The man the world calls my stepfather, but whom I know as Dad, took care of all our needs.

Still, My father's indifference over the years had taught me a very powerful lesson in self-reliance. I was a good student. And, I learned it well.

In fact, I became a master of "do it yourself".

For many years.

No matter how desperate the need... emotional, financial, physical...I refused to ask anyone for help. Not even my parents. After all, I foolishly reasoned, I wasn't worth it.

I am not sure when I started to see the holes in the lie I had chosen to believe, but I praise God that he was able to turn my eyes upward, rather than inward. At some point, in brokenness and heartache, I learned that I just could not do life alone. And little by little, I reached out for help.

I started small...
("Can I get a ride to class?")

Then I grew a bit bolder...
("Can you babysit my kids?")

And then bolder still...
("Will you pray for my need? Listen to my heart? Care about my pain?")

Now mind you, the list of those on whom I might depend is select and subject to change. But I have learned to rely on someone besides me. And more importantly, I know there is no shame in needing a hand up.

Yet, when it comes to my Heavenly Father, I think I only learned today, through the innocence of my son, what it means to be cared for by THE Father.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been struggling with an important decision, and I have been wrestling with God about our provision. As for many, finances are tight around the Arbuckle house, and we could use a little extra money. (Especially this time of year when marketers start to brainwash my children about Christmas goodies). And while I am content working part-time and being a full-time wife and mother, I was seduced for a moment by the idea of more financial security. So much so, that despite the warning in my heart, I recently interviewed for a full-time teaching job.

Filled with self-reliance, I chose to forget that it would leave me with little time for writing. And I ignored the fact that the demands of work and home would surely send me over the edge both physically and emotionally. Just like old times, I once again sought self-reliance.

So,I sent in my resume. Talked with peers. And interviewed for the position. It was the right thing to do, I reasoned. After all,I am supremely qualified and well connected. I thought long and hard and decided it made perfect sense to press on. So I did.

As I waited to hear back about the job, I ignored the siren going off in my heart. I disregarded the lump in my throat and the knots in my stomach. Instead, I kept my eyes on the worldly prize of self-sufficiency and tried to quiet my spirit with the words "I can do this."

Of course, it didn't occur to me that I was basically saying, "God, you are obviously quite busy ruling the world and all. Don't worry about me. I got this one." But, in essence, that's exactly what I was doing. Each step I took closer to accepting the position left me feeling more and more internally conflicted. That alone should have been my first clue that something was off. But, like I have said before, I am a slow learner.

So, God was forced to turn up the heat. He brought forth old insecurities that reminded me painfully of the self-reliant days of old. Truly, they were paths that nearly led to my destruction. And when I refused to acknowledge His voice, it grew louder. Finally, it was like a Father yelling to get his precious child's attention in a moment of emergency. As panic began to settle upon me, I stopped and decided I had done enough thinking. It was time to pray hard.

It was this morning when I became still and I listened to God's gentle voice as He began to speak through my God-reliant 12-year old son. It was quite clever actually, for there is no way I would ever disregard my child. And God knows that, just as He will never disregard me. In that small moment with Jack, I began to see my situation more clearly.

I thought about my son's friend. God saw Derek's need...lunch for Chess Club. And He provided. A need was seen. A need was met. And Derek didn't have to do a thing. From now on, when Derek shows up for Chess Club, lunch will be served. I saw God was personally at work for one of His own. Simultaneously, he was teaching me, his stubborn and beloved child, how to trust my Holy Father's provision.

Later in the morning, after carpool, I settled in for some quiet time with my Jesus. Devotional after devotional repeated the same simple truths. In fact, I was sent a flood of scripture to confirm God's faithfulness. All of it meant just for me on this day of reckoning.

It started with the same scripture I had seen just yesterday on a friend's Facebook status. (Another place God knew he had my undivided attention)

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you much more valuable than they?" (Matthew 6:26)

I heard God whisper, "You are mine. I WILL take care of you but you must rest in me. You are my treasure. There is no need to strive."

Following that, I read another...

"My God will meet all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)

I heard his reassurance again. He sees me and knows me. His way is not "my needs, MY riches". But, "my needs, HIS riches". I sat and meditated on the words NEEDS and RICHES. The truth is, this is not a desperate situation. We are fortunate to have all that we NEED. Food. Clothing. Shelter. Check, check, check! We have seen Him PROVIDE. Over and over again, He faithfully cares for all our family's NEEDS. End of story. This is about our future, which remains unseen, but only by me. God has already walked before me. Rather than look to myself, God wants me to rely on Him...

Not my skills.
Not my reputation.
Not my finances.

He wants me to believe that He sees me.
Treasures me.
And cares for me.
And my eyes began to see as though a veil had been lifted.

After I spent the day meditating on His promises, the knots in my stomach are gone. The lump in my throat, gone. Inner conflict...GONE. The answer was right in front of me all along. I am not to strive, but to seek. With gratitude, I just said a prayer of thanks for all that God has done and all that He continues to do, both seen and unseen. Then, as an act of obedience to demonstrate my new found trust in God alone, I took my name out of the running for the job.

I took a deep breath and opened my Bible one last time to find one last truth before me. It's a doozy, so hang onto your hat cuz my Jesus likes to "show off".

..."Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread." (Psalm 37:25 NLT)

Enough said.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Word Matters

Key Verse: "They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows" (Psalm 64:3 NIV)

My daughters behave like typical sisters spaced less than two years apart. One moment they are playing adorably. The next, they are arguing. The scene repeats often throughout the day. Yesterday was no exception. Exhausted from being up late the night before, my little girls were short on patience with one another. Harsh words dominated their conversations as conflict permeated their interactions. Being with them was emotionally exhausting, as I felt like I spent a majority of my day playing referee.

Today, after a good night's sleep, a sense of relative calm has been restored and I am beyond relieved to have the break in their verbal war. And as I sit here and reflect on yesterday, I am reminded how God must feel as He watches our interactions with one another from his throne on high. Now, I am not suggesting that I am without blame. Truth be told, I struggle as much as anyone with holding my tongue. However, I am saying that perhaps we should all consider our words with care. For in a world filled with constant chatter, it seems that many of us have forgotten the power of the spoken word.

The Bible clearly teaches us about words. In fact, God mentions the effects of our word over 400 times in the Bible. Certainly, the old saying about sticks and stones makes God shake his head in astonishing disapproval. For we are told, "reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing". (Proverbs 12:18 NiV)

Think about that for a moment...words are like a sword. They cut. They harm. They hurt. I know of few weapons as destructive as the sword. In order to use a sword most effectively, one must train and practice for years. The same is true for words. We are wise to hold our tongue when destructive emotion grips our heart. Truly, much harm can be done to another with a careless word. Therefore, we are warned, "a man of knowledge uses words with restraint." (Proverbs 17:27 NIV) Just as we would never consider taking a sword against another, nor should our words be used as a weapon.

Personally, I am most tempted to wage verbal warfare when I have been hurt by a personal attack. So what are we to do when our flesh is wounded by a harsh or foolish word? First, we must remember that in our pain, we must take those wounds to God. With wisdom, we must consider that in our arsenal of armor, we are given only one weapon... "the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:17 NIV) With assurance, God fully equips us with His word. As we take our pain to God and allow Him to speak into our hearts, He promises to "give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict". (Luke 21:15 NIV) Clearly, God knows the power of His spoken word.

Depending on their context, words have the power to hurt or heal. We must never forget that "by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:37 NIV). It should be sobering to learn that we are accountable for every word spoken in this life. Without exception, God desires our words to honor Him with praise, as we use them to bring others into a better understanding of our Heavenly Father. Yet, God reminds us that "blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!" (James 3:10 NLT) Too often, our words are filled with our own loathing rather than His great love.

Today, let us be mindful of our words. Better yet, let us embrace God's word with humility and reverence, for it will surely accomplish much as we speak truth with love into our circumstances. After all, sticks and stones will break bones, but words pierce like a sword. Words matter. Consider what God says about the power of words and then proceed with caution.

Heavenly Father,
Words are powerful. Your word speaks life and love into our hearts. We confess that we are many times careless with our spoken words. Let it not be so. Give us awareness of the power of our words. Help us to understand the eternal consequences of careless put downs and angry attacks. Give us words of love and truth that draw others closer to you.

Reflection: Are you respecting the power of words?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Precious Rubies

Adorned in high heals, feather boas, and party dresses, my daughters feel beautiful and grown-up as they strut confidently around the living room. They are not inhibited by their dress size and they are not embarrassed about their hair style or color. Embracing their unique beauty, my daughters celebrate their individuality. May it always be so.

Watching them takes me back to another time. How I long to see myself with the eyes of a child. "When did I forget who I am?" I wonder silently as I watch them in awe. Somewhere along life's journey, I started to see myself with eyes of criticism and self-loathing. Relentlessly, the world bombards me with images, conceived by my enemy, and designed to erode my self-worth. My eyes deceive me. Commercials for weight loss plans, exercise regimens, and cosmetic procedures all point mercilessly at my many flaws and shatter my confidence. Some days, it is enough to send a girl straight to the candy aisle!

UNLESS...I choose to see myself with new eyes. God's eyes. Now is the time for me to lift the veil of lies designed to hide God's perspective on my identity. And my daughters will learn by my example. There is no time to waste. I must begin to see myself with new eyes. So, that is what I have been doing this week. During the quiet hours of the day, before the kids rush through the door and the afternoon crazies begin, I have been lifting the veil in search of my true identity. And this is what I have discovered.

I am...
precious (Isaiah 43:4),
beautiful (Song Solomon 1:15),
chosen (John 15:16),
redeemed (Psalm 71:23),
forgiven (Ephesians 1:7),
accepted(Romans 15:7),
equipped (2 Timothy 3:17),
protected (2 Thessalonians 3:3),
secure (Romans 8:38-39),
and loved. (Jeremiah 31:3)

Now, I see. I am His beloved, "worth far more than rubies." (Proverbs 31:10) My Heavenly Father looks on me in delight and thinks I am priceless. Because I am precious in His sight,God gave his only Son to die in my place before I was ever conceived. "You are worth it," God whispers. My heart soars as I remember where me worth lies. My value does not come from this world, but is rooted in the eternal glory of Christ. Do you know what you are worth? It might be time to look again.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Post on Stitches today

Hey everyone,
Today I am thrilled and excited to announce that my article is live today on the Stitches Blog. Here is a preview of the post with a link to the rest of the article. Have a blessed day and may God be glorified in your words and your deeds.

Speak. Praise. Love.

"I've been watching you for months. Sort of testing you. You know, trying to figure out if you really are who you SAY you are," my new friend shared openly. "You really do live for Christ. And it has helped me to wake up from my spiritual slumber." she said smiling.

Her words hung boldly in the air as their truth hit me between the eyes. While I rejoiced in her candid honesty, the words of my friend filled me with quiet trepidation. For while she saw the best in me, I was now keenly aware of my many human frailties.

You can read the rest of this article at

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

His Creation

Reading: Psalm 139

Today a friend of mine is waiting expectantly to meet her first born child. Throughout the day, I have stopped often to pray for her and her little one on this special day. As I fequently checked for updates on Facebook to keep informed of my friend's progress, I began to recall when I met each my own children.

It amazes me that my three children, as different as they are from one another, are each part of me and my husband. Truly, God imagined each of them and gave my children special gifts and talents to further His kingdom. And their unique personalities were presented even as God knit them together.

Jack, our oldest and only son, is somewhat reserved. Though he has a wonderful sense of humor and a heart full of compassion, Jack is a bit shy when you first meet him. Change is hard for him and Jack cannot be rushed. His delivery was much the same. For over two hours, I pushed to bring Jack into the world. Clearly, he was in no big hurry to embrace the change before him and our son arrived in his own good time.

Lily, our middle child, is fun-loving and poised. She loves clothes, shoes, and I am pretty sure she bleeds pink glitter. And she has been charming the socks off people since she was lying in the nursery. Even, our obstitrician, better known as Dr Grumpy, couldn't resist Lily's sweet ways. "How long has he been your doctor?" a nurse asked me puzzled. "I have never seen him visit a baby in the nursery, let alone smile." Lily has been spreading her special rays of sunshine ever since.

Our youngest, Sofie, is a complex mix of sweetness and independence. Athletic and active, Sofie does not stop moving until she unwillingly collapses in her bed at night. Her quick delivery says it all when it comes to our Sofie. It took no more than 3 hours for Sofie to make her way into the world. In fact, she came so fast, I almost didn't have time to get an epidural. That's our Sofie in a nutshell. She is fast. She is strong. And she is a force with which to be reckoned.

Three precious blessings from Heaven. Each of them "fearfully and wonderfully made". (Psalm 139: 14 NIV) And while the Lord has made plans for all of their days, I pray they will have eyes to see His love in their lives. I pray my children will embrace life and run after God. I pray they will seek His truth and believe His promises. I pray each of them will be led in the way that is everlasting. From their first day on Earth until the day they meet our Savior face to face, may they know they are His creation.

Monday, September 13, 2010

InCourage Guest Post...Look Up!

Today I am being featured as a guest writer for InCourage, part of the Dayspring website, which is a division of Hallmark. I hope you will read the teaser below and then click the link below and check out the rest of the site. Much love and BE ENCOURAGED today!!

Dinner was served. The kitchen was cleaned. Lullabies had been sung and monsters were now triumphantly vanquished from the closet. At long last, my three children were safely tucked in their beds. The day was done. Yet, despite my weary state, I still had to take my evening run. I was tired and it was later than usual. Still, I resolved to keep my wellness commitment and dutifully laced up my running shoes.

As I stepped out into the cool night air, I looked out and let out a massive sigh. A long day, filled with back to school appointments and demands, had left me emotionally and physically weary. Desperate to recharge, I turned on my I-Pod and set out to leave my responsibilities behind.

At first my steps were laborious and seemed to mercilessly beat the pavement. Meanwhile, my mind began to sift events from the day into categories of victory and defeat. “Lord, did I please you today?” my tired heart beckoned.

Here is the link for the rest of the article. Just copy and paste to read on...


Friday, August 20, 2010

A Voice In the Dark

Startled by our barking dog, my little girls were awakened suddenly. "Mommy! Help! Mommy!" they cried out in desperation. I went to flick on a light so that I could go to them, but darkness continued to fill our modest home. To my surprise, a power line was down and we did not have electricity. Things had gone from bad to worse, as my daughters were now on the verge of panic.

I knew my large shadow would only frighten them further, so I chose to stay put and have the girls come to me. In an attempt to ease my daughters' fears, I spoke gently into the darkness, "I am here. Just follow my voice." As they stumbled blindly through the house, I continued to call out to my girls. Moments later, Lily and Sofie, though scared of the dark, were secure in my embrace. They had found their way because they listened for my voice.

To be sure, everyone occasionally wanders through darkness. Blinded by insecurity. Afraid of the unknown. Sometimes we stumble through life. And yet, God is there, speaking into our fears, offering His unconditional love and faithful assurance. Therefore, we, as God's children, must be keenly attune to the voice of our Heavenly Father.

In 1 Samuel, we read about a boy named Samuel who learned to know God's voice. Late one night, as Samuel drifted off to sleep, he heard the voice of the Lord. Unfortunately, he didn't know God's voice at first. Instead, Samuel believed the voice to be that of Eli, a priest with whom he lived. Three times, Samuel heard the call. Twice, he left his bed and went to Eli's side. Both times, the boy was mistaken about who was calling out to him. Scripture teaches us that Samuel simply did not know the LORD at this time in his life. Therefore, he did not know God's voice.

However, Eli was a man who knew God's voice well. Promptly, he sent the inexperienced boy back to bed with instructions. Samuel was still. He was silent. And he waited. At last, "the LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' Then Samuel said, 'Speak, for your servant is listening." (1Samuel 3:10) He had learned to recognize the voice of God, even in darkness.

The same is true for us today. These are challenging days for many of us. If we are to know God's voice, we must be quiet and await His presence expectantly. Gentle and small, God's voice resonates through the chaos of this life, and leads us out of darkness. And yet, too many of God's children fail to listen for His voice in the dark.

No matter how dark life gets, we have access to our Heavenly Father. Be still and listen. God is calling. Do you know His voice?

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Twenty years is a long time. I was thinking about that today during my run. OK, it may have started with me wishing I still had the body I possessed twenty years ago. In the middle of my run, with sweat dripping off of me, I began to recall the good ole days. You know. Those days when one could eat practically anything and never gain a pound. Sadly, those days are long gone. Twenty years, one marriage, and three kids later, a lot has changed. Indeed, my body has begun to show it's wear. And some days, I would gladly exchange the extra pounds and stretch marks for my slim figure of yesterday. Still, to have the body of twenty years ago, I would have to also trade the life I have lived in between yesterday and today. And for me, the cost is too great. So that is the reason I am sweating instead of eating Ding Dongs on the couch. I have learned a lot in twenty years. Most importantly, I now understand that life takes maintenance.

It was about this time twenty years ago that I met my sweet husband, Marty. I was a clueless 19 year old college Sophomore at Iowa State. Working his way through school, Marty was a beautiful Junior who was taking meal cards at the residence hall dining area. And though we had wandered around campus separately and even had a few classes together, Marty and I had never laid eyes on one another. All that changed with a turkey sandwich on a day I wasn't even planning to eat lunch.

Usually, I skipped lunch. But on this fateful day, my roommate insisted I go with her for lunch. A bit irritated, I stood in line impatiently. At last, I made it to the front of the line and saw the reason my friend had been so insistant that I eat. Marty was working that day. I handed my meal card to this adorable guy with the bluest eyes I had ever seen. For a moment our hands were both holding opposite sides of my meal card. I can't explain how I felt in that moment. All I can say is I knew he was special.

Shaken and surprised, I struggled to find words as I silently smiled and heard him say, "Hello." I remember thinking..."He HAS to have a girlfriend. There is no way he would be interested in me." I couldn't have been more wrong.

Marty has never stopped getting my attention. He makes me laugh. He challenges me to grow. And, he infuriates me more than any other person on this planet. That is because there is nobody in this world that I love as much as him. Time has marched on, and I still look into those eyes in amazement. He has been more than a companion. For my husband knows me and understands me in ways that I don't understand myself.

I was thinking about that today as a song played on my I-Pod. It is called "Phil's Song" and it is from the movie Band Slam. Every time I hear it, I think of my Marty.

The words go like this...

"I am no prince. I am no saint. And if that's what you believe you need. You're wrong. You don't need much. You need someone to fall back on. And I'll be that. I'll take your side. If I'm the only one, I'm used to that. I've been alone. I'd rather be...half of us. Least of you. The best of me. And I will be your prince. I'll be your saint. I will go crashing through fences in your name. I will I swear. I'll be someone to fall back on."

When I met Marty, I had a totally different idea of what I thought I needed. After all, college can be a confusing time for a girl. Life wasn't going the way I had planned and I was different then. Confused about who I was and scared about where life was going, my heart was lonely and closed off. Marty changed that. For in his eyes, I saw a safe place to grow. He saw the best in me and he was someone to fall back on. He still is. After twenty years, it is good to know that some things never change.

And so, it is for my Marty that I step into the heat and continue to sweat. For, I want to be here for as long as I can to see my life in his eyes. And my life with Marty is worth a little maintenance.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Child Of God

It's that time of year again. The lazy days of summer are over and the business of "back to school" has begun. The first day of school is closing in fast and my "back to school" checklist will not conquor itself. While I would prefer to abstain from both the heat and the crowds, duty calls. So, on Tuesday, the kids and I loaded into the car and set off to check items off the list one by one.

First, we stopped at Academy. Then Target. And finally, Office Depot. We shopped efficiently and cheerfully as the radio cranked out some of our favorite tunes. As I triumphantly pulled into our driveway after a busy day of shopping, a smile filled my heart as I listened to my children as they sang..."I am a friend of God." Innocently, Sofie said, "Mommy, we are more than God's friends. We are his children."

It was one of those "outta the mouths of babes" moments. Touched by my daughter's sweet words, I reflected on her close relationship with her daddy. How grateful I am for my husband's relationship with his children. For all that they know of their Heavenly Father has been modeled lovingly by their earthly one.

My children are secure in their father's love because they have a dad who is affectionate and dependable. Truly, Marty enjoys the time he has been given with his children and knows each of them intimately. Naturally, my kids understand "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1 NIV)

My children are not alone. For such is true for all of us who have embraced salvation in Christ.Whatever your circumstances. Know this. His love is patient and kind. It is not easily angered. Nor does it keep a record of our wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:3-5 NIV) Unconditionally loved and grafted into God's family, "You are a child of God.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Less Is More

Earlier this week the temperature in McKinney was hovering somewhere near 105 degrees. And since I had to wait for my sleepy tweenage boy/babysitter, Jack, to emerge from his slumber, I didn't get to go for my run until late morning. Needless to say the sun was "showing off" by then.

In a moment of foolishness, I decided that I would walk for some of my run and just stay out longer to make up for it. Wrong answer! In exchange for the few extra calories I may have burned, I recieved a severe dehydration head-ache that left me sidelined for the remainder of the day. I should have stuck with my original plan and kept my run short. It turns out that sometimes less is more.

I have some friends and loved ones who are in the heat of battle in their personal lives right now. As I listen intently to the cries of their hearts, I am tempted to give lots of advice. But I do not have the words. Honestly, there is so much I don't understand on this side of Heaven. Therefore, I am wise to remember that sometimes the most loving thing to do is be silent and pray.

In Nehemiah, we are told that "from heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies." (Nehemiah 9:27 NIV). While I long to encourage and seek to comfort, I humbly recognize that deliverance does not come from me. I don't have all the answers. Still, I know the ONE who does. And I give my petitions to Him.

For sometimes less is more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lace Up!

My quiet morning had been interrupted with the "gentle" sounds of both of my daughters screaming at one another. Though I had heard them bickering in their room, I had hoped to remain on the outside of their sibling rivalry. From the sounds of things, however, the situation had escalated. The girls were now in all out war. Furious with one another, they both ran into my bedroom where I was stretching and began to talk over one another.

Unable to catch all the details, I was able to decipher something about a perceived injustice involving a coveted Barbie doll. (Did I mention they were fighting over ONE doll and they have about fifty? But I digress.) Annoyed by their commotion, I quieted the girls and I patiently listened as each of them stated their case. As time passed and the outside temperature rose quickly, I laid down my sentence and grudgingly laced up my running shoes.

When I finally stepped outside, the Texas sun greeted me fiercely. "Ugh," I thought to myself as dread began to fill my head with excuses for sitting this one out. I had hoped to get my run in before the heat settled in. To steal a line from Scooby Doo, "I would have pulled it off too, if it hadn't been for those darn kids". This was not my plan but I had made a commitment. It was now or never.

So, I gulped some water, took a deep breath, and proceeded slowly down my usual route. My "can do" attitude quickly wained as the heat drained my mind and body of all enthusiasm. Still, I pressed on determined to "run in such a way as to get the prize." (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV)

We all have a race to run. And many of our best laid plans do not unfold as we hoped or planned. In marriage. In relationships. In work and finances. Life turns up the heat. Despite our discomfort, we are called to honor our commitments and press on.

Life doesn't wait. Lace up!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Little Further

"I think it's time you went a little further," my sweet husband Marty said to me as I laced up for my evening run. Looking at him with a "let's not get too crazy" expression on my face, I was not exactly on board with his big idea. Still, I decided that perhaps there was some merit in the words "no pain, no gain." My runs had been getting easier. Maybe it was time to step things up a notch.

I set out with my expectations low. Truly, I didn't expect to be able to run all that much further. After all, I have only been running a few weeks. Surely, my endurance was not that much stronger. The road stretched out before me and my pace remained strong. Before long, a new attitude filled my heart. As my feet steadily pounded the pavement, I found new energy. I was not tired. I did not grow weary. I had run furthur than I imagined I could. And I was invigorated! Just then, I was reminded of one of God's great promises:

"But those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
(Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

Before long, my run was over. With the sun setting quickly, I returned back to my driveway and shared my triumph with Marty. Renewed and encouraged, I wondered just how far my legs might have taken me if I had more time to run that night. Every part of me felt alive and ready for more! Marty was right all along. I WAS ready to go a little further.

That's how it is with God. When we think we can't go on, His love fills us with hope and offers renewal. It's true with running. It's true with life. Sometimes we just have to go a little further to experience His great work in our lives.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


With brand new running shoes, I set out for my run in the cool night air. It was late. It was dark. And I was psyched! As I sang along with my gals Gwen Stefani and Pink, my pace quickened. Then it happened. Mercilessly, the uneven sidewalk silently ambushed me. In one graceless movement, I tripped over a raised section in the sidewalk. While my left knee and ankle turned underneath me, my right leg scraped violently against the cement. Just moments before, I had been gliding effortlessly down the street. Now, every part of my body screamed, "OUCH!" as I sat wounded and crying in the middle of the dark and empty sidewalk.

Slowly, I hobbled home and pushed open our front door. How relieved I was to see my sweet husband waiting to greet me! "How was your run?" he asked playfully. As tears streamed down my cheeks, my sobs seemed to now grow louder. "Are you crying because you are hurt or are you crying because you are embarrassed?" Marty probed further. "YES!!!" I wailed indignantly.

Marty smiled, took me by the hand and led me to our bedroom where he affectionately assessed my wounds. Gently, he cleaned and dressed my scrapes and applied ice to my ankle and knee. Certainly, my husband's tenderness touched my heart deeply, and in his care, I slowly regained my perspective on all that had transpired. Yes, I was hurt, but I was going to be ok. Though the pain was searing, there was no permanent damage done. In a few days, I would be running again. A little slower, perhaps. Probably not in the dark. Yet, with a little rest, I would recuperate and be on my way.

Sometimes in life, we fall. One moment, everything seems to be going well and then out of nowhere, we stumble. It hurts. A lot. And we need help to pick ourselves up again. Truly, we must have a safe place to rest while our wounds heal. But, we must keep our Biblical perspective. Despite our pain, we are assured that God will be there, even when we stumble. In heartbreak. In trial. Regardless of how hard we fall, we must return to our Savior. His love awaits. And we will surely find comfort in His arms, for "he heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds."(Psalm 147:3 NIV)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just Once

The Texas sun was working overtime as I led my small group of youngsters outside for Bible study. For several days, we had read and prayed together under the elegant branches of a live oak tree. Drawn to the truth of God's Word, Jacob, a ten year old boy, had many questions. “How many times do I have to say this prayer? Do I say it every day? How do I know that God will hear me?” Jacob wondered curiously. Longing to please God, Jacob wanted to be sure he was doing everything right.

Gently, I looked gently into Jacob's eyes and assured him, “Christ died once. Then He rose again. That was enough to conquer sin. Likewise, we surrender once and forevermore we are His. Just once.” My heart rejoiced as Jacob prayed for God's forgiveness and received Christ into His young heart. Visibly, a peace came over him, as Jacob now rested in God’s promise of restoration and reconciliation found in Christ alone.

So many of us are like that sweet, young boy. Gripped with uncertainty, we desperately seek to please God as we strive to earn His approval. Foolishly, we fail to trust God, and instead strive to earn His free gift of grace.

Yet scripture teaches us that "Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit." (1 Peter 3:18 NLT) The simple truth is forgiveness is all about Jesus and what He has already done. For "Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people." (Hebrews 9: 28 NIV).

Once, God sent His son to redeem man. Once, Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, died for the sins of all mankind. Once, He rose again and then sat down at the right hand of the Father. (Mark 16:19 NIV) And once, we surrender our hearts, claim His unmerited gift of salvation and rest in His mercy and grace. It just takes once.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Few Good Men

"Mommy, I wish nobody ever went to Hell." my six year old daughter said sadly as I cleaned the kitchen after our Father's Day celebration. Sofie's tenderness deeply touched my heart and I could see that she was truly grieved at the idea of anyone being eternally separated from God. "Jesus made a way Sofie," I reminded gently. "Because of what Christ did on the Cross, nobody HAS to go to Hell. All people can choose to be redeemed through His grace." "Yeah. He did a miracle!" she replied, as her eyes brightened and a smile spread across her innocent face.

My daughter trusts her Savior. One of the most powerful reasons for her belief in Christ's redemption is because of her Daddy. Loving, playful, gentle, and firm, Marty is the head of our home and the earthly example of Sofie's Heavenly Father. Through Marty's consistent and dependable love, Sofie has come to embrace the affection of her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Each of my children are blessed, for their Daddy is a good man. But, more than that, Marty is a Godly man. Daily he places himself before the LORD and prays for wisdom and strength to honor God in Fatherhood. With his priorities firmly rooted in Biblical truth, my husband understands that he is irreplaceable to his kids and that "his children are a gift from the LORD. They are a reward from Him." (Psalm 127:3 NLT)

Unfortunately, there are many who do not have such a Father. For some, Father's Day is a painful reminder of being abandoned, forgotten or unloved. Still others, emotionally splintered, fill the day with empty gestures of gratitude rooted in obligation. Then there are those like Sofie, fortunate to have a Father truly deserving of her honor. Unquestionably, there are still a few good men out there. Together with God, they are building a legacy secured in faith. Day by day. These Daddies invest their time, their efforts, and most of all their prayers into their children. For they know that "Unless the Lord builds a house,the work of the builders is wasted." (Psalm 127:1 NLT)

Like the Israelites who sang Psalms of Ascension as they traveled to Jerusalem for Feast, Godly fathers grasp that the journey with their children is to be savored and cherished. And along the way, they rejoice. For these wise men understand that a day will come when this long pilgrimage shall end.

This Father's Day, I am sad for the men who have chosen to abandon the post of Fatherhood. One day, those same men shall face their creator and answer for the selfish ways they misrepresented God to their hurting children. I am grateful for those Dads who nobly step into broken families and fill empty shoes of Fatherhood. Indeed, their sacrifices, will change the lives of the children to whom God has appointed them to serve in love. And I am grateful that there are still a few good men. Those God-fearing men who strive to be the arms of Christ to their fragile offspring. Though they tire, these men understand the commitment of Fatherhood. Truly, they recognize, that "children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!" (Psalm 127: 4-5NLT)

Most of all, I am grateful for our Heavenly Father, who changed my life with His grace. Because of His great sacrifice, allowing Christ to take my place, I know redemption as I rest in His grace. I praise Him for His radical love that changed my life and healed my brokenness. My heart is filled with awe as I continue to witness his restoration in my life. Daily, I praise Him daily, for he has blessed my life with a few good men.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Sting of Sin

We call our youngest daughter, Sofie, The Honeybug. Bug, for short. It is a nickname that suits her perfectly as she is sweet as honey but has been known to "sting" her adversaries in confrontation.

This week, Sofie asked me why bees and wasps sting. After watching our older daughter's eye nearly swell shut from a wasp's sting, Bug recalled her own recent encounter with an unhappy Honeybee. The pain of both incidents left our sweet Honeybug bewildered. After all, she had personally witnessed the unpleasant affects of a "sting". Consequently, our Honeybug could not reasonably comprehend why God would make such a creature.

"It's because of sin," I quietly explained. "Creation was changed with the curse of sin. God did not make bees and wasps to sting. But when sin entered the world, all was changed. Every living thing groans because of the fall. Even wasps and bees." Sofie's beautiful honey brown eyes looked back at me. I could see her analyzing my words, as she carefully considered my explanation. "Wow, Mom. Everything changed when Eve ate that apple." After pondering our conversation for a moment, Sofie declared boldly, "Mommy. I am not going to sting anymore."

Truth be told, all of us have a bit of a "stinger". Sinful words and actions hurt those around us. And, like a bee sting, the affects of our personal sin linger long after the initial encounter. Instead, our fellowship must be sweet. After all, "pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." (Proverbs 16:24)

Let us be mindful of the ways we are changed by sin. In humility, let us confess our weaknesses to our loving Savior and flee from temptation. For, "the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:56-57 NIV)

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Perfect Fit

We all know the saying..."If the shoe fits, wear it." I have decided the person who came up with that clever bit of sarcasm must have been a runner.

It's been a week since I started my exercise challenge and I have learned a valuable lesson about running...shoes matter. After several evenings of nursing aching shins after my run, my husband wisely suggested it was time for me to buy some new running shoes. Skeptical that my shoes really make much of a difference, I went along with Marty's plan. I confess, I did so mostly to humor him. Still, I soon found how important it is to have the right fit when it comes to running shoes.

Up to this point, my biggest concern has mostly been the color of my running shoes. In order to win my approval, my shoes had to look "right". Further, it was particularly important that my shoes match my clothes when I was running. Therefore, my shoes couldn't be too flashy. Nor could they be too bright. Beyond cosmetics, I never gave my shoes much thought.

But, there is more to a shoe than meets the eye. At the running store, the store clerk watched me walk and carefully analyzed my gait. Afterwards, she brought out three different styles of shoes for me to try. Then, she advised me to pick the shoes that felt less like a shoe, and more like a slipper. The difference was astounding! As I walked around the store, my foot conformed to the design like no other shoe has before. It was a perfect fit!

My walk with God has been a lot like my experience with running shoes. For years, I wandered in loneliness, trying to look good enough to win the world's approval. Skeptical that there was another way to live, pain and cynicism gripped my broken heart. Then one day, Jesus called me to His side and let me try his love on for size. Since He had studied me for years, my Savior knew exactly what my heart needed so that I could freely run His race. And as I walked around in His grace, the hurts of the past soon began to fade away. The love of Christ lifted my spirit and healed my heart in ways I could never have imagined.

So many of us choose to walk through this life trying to "look right". Instead of confessing our missteps to our trusted Savior, we choose instead to walk through our days in pain. Haunted by memories and filled with regrets, we carry heavy burdens that we were not designed to bear. But, Christ has a better idea. As we accept His gift of grace and walk freely in forgiveness, we learn that life can be more joyful than we ever thought possible. In His power, we are free to run our race with renewed strength and perseverance.

So from one runner to another, here is a word of advice. Go ahead. Give Christ a chance. You won't be sorry. For His unfailing love is the perfect fit.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Run Along

"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free."
-Psalm 119:32

"Why are your legs so wide?" my six year old asked curiously. Her words pierced my heart and sent me into a tailspin of self loathing that stole my joy for the rest of the evening. The answer to my daughter's question is quite simple. I HATE exercise. The aches. The pains. The sweat. I loathe it all. There are literally hundred of things I would prefer to do rather than exercise. Though brutally honest, the words of my little girl effectively motivated me to seek a new path.

But, where was I to start? And how would I keep myself focused on my goals? I didn't have the answers. But I knew it was time to get moving. So, I dried my eyes, threw away all the chocolate, and began to ponder my fitness predicament with new eyes.

The Bible tells us that God has often used forty days to bring about change. Jesus was tempted for 40 days in the desert. Noah watched it rain for 40 days. Initially, Moses led the Israelites through the desert for 40 days. Last December, I turned 40years old. As I pondered the significance of "40" I came up with a plan.

It is time for a change. Gone are the days when I can sit idly by and ignore the needs of my body. After all, "my body is a temple" and I need to treat it as such. (1Corinthians 3:16) I have tried before and failed to remain motivated. When the heat of summer or the cold winds of winter set in, I quickly abandoned my best laid plans. So, I have decided to try a fitness experiment for the next forty days.

Each day, rain or shine, I will run. I have no illusions. My hope is that at the end of the journey I have a new attitude about exercise. I don't expect it to be easy to keep my commitment. Even if my attitude remains the same, perhaps a new habit will take root in my heart. Perhaps, if I stick to the plan, I will begin to see exercise as a habitual necessity, much like folding laundry or washing dishes. I probably won't love the process, but perhaps the results will be enough to keep me on track.

So, I am five days into my journey. It has occurred to me, that perhaps, this was the wrong time of year to take on this challenge. It is, after all, summer in Texas. For all of you less fortunate folks who do not happen to be living in the Lonestar State, summer in Texas is a whole new kind of HOT! My legs ache and my joints are stiff. Yet, despite my many grievances, I dutifully continue to step out onto the pavement each day. I still hate to sweat! But, my I-Pod is charged. My shoes are laced. And my mind is made up. Forging boldly ahead, I am ready to run along the path of His commands to find a healthier me. Who knows? Maybe I will even get my legs back!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Walk In Peace

"My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin." (Malachi 2:5-6)

Overly analytical and cautious, I am extremely prone to indecision. When I look back and ponder my past regrets, I recognize they are almost always linked to my inability to choose a path. Decisions are hard for a "control freak" like me. Desperate to make the best choice, I carefully study my options. I think. I ponder. I analyze. I question. And finally, I end up right back where I started, just more perplexed and anxious.

My endless quest for "the best" option, has often led me to heartache and loss. It is a character flaw I had hoped not to pass down to my children. So,naturally, I was a bit dismayed when I witnessed the same indecisive nature in my young son. For the past few weeks, Jack had gone back and forth about his seventh grade schedule. Afraid to choose the wrong electives, he brought his concerns to Marty and me. Time and time again, we counseled Jack to pray and listen to his spirit. One night, gripped with worry, Jack asked vulnerably, "How do I know what my spirit is telling me?"

As he remained paralyzed to make his choice, I saw uncanny similarities between me and my son. Confounded by his options, Jack's heart was filled with confusion. He longed to make the right choice. But, perhaps even more, he desperately wanted to avoid the wrong choice. Even though I completely understood Jack's caution, it was clear to me that choosing a path of confusion would only lead him astray.

His was a question I had pondered many times as well. Determined to quiet the growing sense of anxiety in my son, I researched the word "peace". With Strong's Concordance, I discovered the following synonyms for the word peace:

security (freedom for danger, risk, or uncertainty)
prosperity (a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition)
felicity (bliss)

Suddenly, the answer to Jack's perplexing question seemed so clear and simple. Like his mother, Jack was over thinking his decision. The right choice was the one that led to God's peace.

Feeling bold and empowered, I took this new knowledge to my son and reminded him that Jesus promised peace. Therefore, Jack need not fret as God has instructed him to "Go in peace. His journey has the LORD's approval." (Judges 18:6 NIV) The way was not hidden. Indeed, Jack's path was marked with security, prosperity, felicity. In a word...peace.

Taking some cues from scripture, Marty and I reminded Jack that God did not intend for him to be troubled by his options. To the contrary, God's desire is that Jack would allow God to lead him in peace, not confusion. For, we are told that "God is not a God of disorder but of peace." (1 Corinthians 14:33 NIV). As a child of God, Jack is "to be filled with joy and peace so that joy may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13 NIV) So, Marty and I continuously prayed for our son to be led with God's peace. Meanwhile, Jack began to take his thoughts captive and search his heart for peace.

This week, Jack finally had a breakthrough. At the dinner table, Jack announced he had made his final course selection. Although some of his choices were a bit of a surprise, Marty and I supported Jack's decision because his heart is at peace.

With his schedule finalized, Jack is now looking forward to a long and lazy summer. No doubt, next year holds new opportunities for Jack to grow in knowledge and prepare his mind for the future. Perhaps even more rewarding, I see my son growing wise with God, as he learns to walk in peace. (Malachi 2:6 NIV)

Monday, May 24, 2010

His Story

God's word had illuminated my path since I was a little girl. A gift for my birthday, I got my first Bible when I was five years old. My favorite place to read it was while I rode in the car on my way to my grandparent's house. My heart swelled with love for my Heavenly Father,as I studied the pictures in the stories with wonder. Intrigued by the characters, I listened intently as my loved ones read the stories of Noah and Moses. Learning from their experiences, I admired these characters deeply, as their faith became woven into mine.

As I grew, I soon discovered a painful truth. The road of life is difficult. When I encountered a flood of tears, I failed to recall the obedience of Noah. In the fires of adolescence, I did not have the courage of Daniel. As I wandered through the desert of early adulthood, I did not possess the same trust as Moses. It soon became clear that it was time for me to leave the "stories" of childhood behind. It was time to "grow up" and become part of His story.

Rather than reading the Bible for entertainment, I resolved to study it passionately. Instead of casually passing through each story, I carefully meditated on the truths within the scriptures. In time, the men and women of the Bible became as familiar to me as old friends. For, they were ordinary people facing real challenges, just like me. Their lives had been recorded by God so that I might learn from their mistakes, grow through their adversity, and walk faithfully with God.

A love letter written from God's heart, the Bible is filled with unshakable truth. In its pages, we find tangible evidence of God's limitless compassion and faithfulness towards His people. As His children, we must never stop maturing in our faith. To the contrary, we must continue to study our Bible as we allow God to grow us in wisdom and truth. For we are told that "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.(2 Timothy 3:16 NIV)

Today, I have another Bible. With notes in the margins and scriptures marked for memory, it is a recording of all I have learned with God. When storms of adversity rage in my life, my Bible gives me the courage to be still and trust that God is in control. As the fires of persecution blaze around me, it is God's word that gives me the strength to stand firm. And when temptation is all around me, my Bible helps me choose obedience.

Life has come full circle. For, I have been blessed with three children, and it is my task to teach them the truth in God's word. Daniel. Esther. Adam and Eve. Each of my children relate to different characters they meet as we read together. While we discuss the stories together, we apply them in our everyday lives as well. And as we study His word, my children understand that this book is more than just a bunch of stories.

It is the Bible. The living word of God. A revelation of His unchanging character and record of His amazing, sacrificial love. It's truth marks a path of righteousness, for "every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him is His gift to His children." (Proverbs 30:5) God's gift to His children, the Bible points the way to eternal life with Him. For, we are part of His story.

Friday, May 21, 2010


"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD."---Psalm 27:14

After a long and somewhat discouraging day, I kneeled beside Sofie's bed and said a prayer over her as she sleepily laid her head upon her pillow. The first day of physical therapy since Sofie got out of her cast had not gone as I had anticipated.

While I had expected her to just stand up and walk, muscle atrophy had left her weak and unable to stand without assistance. It was now painfully obvious that the road before us was a bit longer than I had thought. I wanted to see my daughter run. I hoped to see the days of her injury behind us. After weeks of immobilization from a full leg cast and a wheelchair, I was tired of waiting.

As I leaned over to kiss Sofie's forehead, she put her little hands on my face and stroked my hair. "Do you know why I didn't pray for my leg tonight, Mommy? I think Jesus just needs me to give him some time," she said sweetly. Her wisdom pierced my heart as I heard God gently whisper, "Wait on me and I will strengthen your heart."

Many of us are waiting right now. Some are waiting on job or new opportunities. Others are waiting for healing and restoration. The simple truth is that sometimes God asks us to wait. And it's hard. Especially since we live in a fast food world of instant gratification.

Indeed, God continuously works behind the scenes of life as He prepares our hearts for His blessing. And as we wait, we must draw near to God for strength. Yes, sometimes we must wait on the Lord. But, He will not forget His children. Taking a cue from my little girl, we must remember, that sometimes God just needs some time.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stay Hungry

Morning had faded into evening, and I was midway through my commitment to fast for a friend who was serving on a mission trip in Bolivia. With three hungry children, I dutifully prepared dinner. As the aroma of chicken nuggets and macaroni cheese filled the kitchen, I prayed for strength to remain hungry.

Hours later, the house was still and quiet, but my stomach was still growling. While chocolate pudding taunted me mercilessly from the fridge, I turned my thoughts towards God. Hungry and tired, my heart pondered my place in His kingdom.

In between hunger pangs, I considered the many changes my husband and I had embraced to allow me time to pursue my dream as a writer. Many sacrifices had been made so that I could serve the LORD with words. “What if I am wrong? What if this is all for nothing? Then what?" Hungry for spiritual fruit, I took my questions to God as He led me to seek nourishment from His word.

Scripture tells us “the laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.” (Proverbs 16:26 NIV). My hunger for His divine work in my life will not be satisfied immediately. In fact, it is God’s will that I remain hungry. For I must be willing to give up the comforts of today to see the glory of tomorrow.

With hearts bent towards instant gratification, we live in a society of abundance and self-satisfaction. In work. At play. Within every facet of our daily lives, we rarely deny ourselves even the simplest of pleasures. Consequently, many of us lack self-discipline and fall into gluttony. God wants more from His servants. He desires for us to be driven by His divine work in our lives.

I awoke the next morning and rushed to the kitchen. I waited with anticipation for my toast to spring out of the toaster. My fast was over. Still, I resolve to stay hungry, for “"blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God." (Luke 14:15 NIV)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hard To Love

"I give up! Some people are so hard to love!" my heart screamed. As tears rolled down my cheek, the ache in my heart turned to anger. Deeply wounded from the careless words hurled at me from another, I tossed the series of unfortunate events over in my mind and concluded that some people are just unlovable. With burning eyes and a broken heart, I decided life would be easier if I just stopped trying so hard to love the difficult people in my life.

Still, there wasn't time to sulk properly, for the responsibilities of a busy mom simply don't wait for heartbreak. My son had a taekwando class scheduled and we had to leave in a few minutes. Momentarily setting aside my pain, I pulled myself together and drove Jack to his Taekwando school.

Having promised my him that I would stay and watch, I sat down and waited for Jack's class to begin. Meanwhile, a lower belt class was just finishing up and their faces reflected discouragement. Looking at their expressions, I could feel their frustration and it was a feeling close to my heart as well.

In that moment, the lead instructor called the group to "take a knee" as he offered validation and encouragement. "I see your faces. You are right. This IS hard," he said frankly. "Earning a black belt IS hard. It is suppose to be hard. Most things worthwhile in life ARE hard," he continued wisely. "But, you have a patient teacher and I am here to help you. Just don't give up."

Though the teacher was not aware of the way God was speaking through him, I knew God was talking directly into my troubled heart. All at once, I didn't hurt so much. The words, filled with wisdom and truth, acted as a healing balm to my troubled spirit. God had seen it all and he understood my pain. Loving IS hard.

Then, a scripture crept quietly into my mind and has challenged me ever since. For God has called his children to love the unlovable.

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.(Matthew 5:40-48 NLT)

Our ability to love has little to do with our own abilities. For love is not a feeling, but an act of worship. The sad truth is that some people are indeed unlovable. Love them anyway!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Eyes

Shortly after putting out the emotional firestorm brewing in the heart of my wounded eight year old, I sent all three of my children off to school. Now running late, I threw on some clothes, quickly brushed my hair and put on my best fake smile before I rushed off in my car. Though I had started my day optimistic, the drama of the morning had me feeling wilted. Quite honestly, I was more in the mood to hide in my study with a cup of coffee and cyber-spy on my Facebook peeps than "go and be" the church.

Still, I had previously committed to help with the "Step Into Africa" exhibit at my church for "Go and Be" week. It was too late to back out now. So I half-heartedly drove to the exhibit, with a scowl in my heart. Hoping to lift my spirits, I turned on the radio and heard a favorite song called Give Me Your Eyes. seeing my need for an attitude adjustment, God now had my undivided attention.

As I drove, I silently prayed for new eyes...

"Dear God,
It has been a long morning and though the day is only beginning, I am already tired. I need an attitude adjustment. Help me to have your heart. Let me love what you love. Let me hate what you hate. Allow me to see this world with your eyes and let me be the hands and feet of Jesus. Let your people be a help not a hindrance. Show us how to step in compassion and walk in love, respecting the culture of Africa while embracing the needs of its people. Let me step into Africa today, Father, and give me your eyes."

Once I arrived at "Step Into Africa", I no longer had to actively seek for a new perspective. Truly, one would have to be completely void of compassion to have missed the misfortune suffered by the children featured in the exhibit. Being a mother, a teacher, and a woman, my eyes were quickly drawn to the children in the photos hanging on the walls. At first glance, the faces in the pictures seemed much like my own children. But as I studied the eyes looking back at me, I saw a noticeable difference. For these children had faced adversity that would cause most adults to shudder.

Many of the children were orphaned and homeless, desperate for shelter and life's bare essentials. Several were infected by HIV. All of them had seen life altered in some manner due to the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Captivated, I was drawn to the eyes staring back at me in the photos. While dwelling in the harsh realities of severe poverty, childhood had been eliminated for these kids.

For the next few hours, I assisted other visitors, as we conversed and reflected on all we had witnessed in the lives of these sons and daughters of Africa. As the morning quickly faded into afternoon, mine were not the only eyes opened to the plight of these forgotten children. As I reflected on the events of the day, I asked God to "turn my eyes away from worthless things,preserve my life according to your word." (Psalm 119:37 NIV)

"Give me your eyes for just one second. Give me your eyes so I can see. Everything that I keep missing. Give me your love for humanity. Give me your arms for the brokenhearted. The ones that are far beyond my reach. Give me your heart for the ones forgotten. Give me your eyes so I can see. Lord give me your eyes."-Brandon Heath

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Change In Plans

"I have small dreams," I told my parents as I prepared to graduate from high school. Being a planner, self-suffient and responsible, my way was carefully mapped before me. College. Marriage. A family. Security. In that order. If I did not deviate from my well laid plans, all would go as predicted.

So, that is precisely what I set out to do. Determined and focused, I calculated my steps carefully, my goals fixed firmly in my rational mind. Selecting Iowa State University, I committed myself to my studies and earned my degree. I fell in love with a wonderful young man and joyfully took his hand in marriage. Things were going just as I had planned. Yet, two careers, a move out of state, three kids, and eighteen years later, my dreams have changed. For I have learned that things don't always go the way I plan.

To penetrate my stubborn will, God has to shake my plans. Sometimes life throws a curve and forces me to evaluate my position with God's eyes. At times, when my plans have failed and all hope seems lost, I have found myself feeling a bit like Job. In disappointing setbacks I painfully groaned, "my days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart." (Job 17:11 NIV) In trial and error, I have discovered that the only path that truly matters is God's. However, if I am to travel His path, I must abandon mine and trust Him alone. And that sounds easier than it truly is most of the time. Especially for a Type A control freak like me!

Some days I wonder in anticipation. Others I wait more impatiently, as I linger out of my comfort zone. But at all times, I watch expectantly for my Heavenly Father has big dreams for me. After all, God assures me that "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) It is a promise I keep near to my heart and it sustains me as I let go of my empty dreams and embrace a life rooted in Christ.

In the past year, God has changed my plans in countless ways, planting a new dream in my heart. I have stepped out of teaching and taken my place in writing ministry. I have abandoned the security of my comfort zone at home and embarked on an international mission trip to Austria. And I have stopped making plans, choosing instead to look to God as He reveals His dream for my life.

So as midlife slowly closes in, my path in life has turned. No longer are my dreams determined by what is small, secure, and safe. Instead, I have made a decision and I am willfully sticking to it. Indeed, I choose to "live by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV)

In this fallen world, we often fail to remember that God continuously sits on his throne. Despite the roadblocks of life, God never ceases to direct our steps as we look to Him and entrust Him with our lives. Though we see only what is right in front of us, God sees our lives with a bird's eye view.

He is never shaken or surprised and He never makes mistakes. Even more amazing, God takes our missteps and weaves them into something beautiful for His glory. And we are assured that "many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)

We need not fret when life changes course. It just means that God has changed our plans.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Father's Daughter

My life is a tale of two fathers. One man gave me life. The other showed me how to live. One man was there at my birth. The other present at the birth of my children. Both men are my Father. Yet one has chosen to be absent from my life since I was 12 years old. The other stepped in to fill empty shoes.

My mother married the man I call my Father when I was in sixth grade. For years, it had been the three of us, my mother, my brother, and me. So, when my mom announced she was getting married, I was happy for her, and nervous for me. After being abandoned by one father, I wasn't sure I really needed a new one. With one foot firmly rooted in childhood and the other stepping into the uncertainties of junior high, God was wise to bring me my Dad.

They say that the relationship between a father and his children plows the way for how they will one day see God. In my life I definitely find that holds true. Cruel and abusive, my birth father caused me to look at all other men with fear. Even though I longed to be "daddy's girl", his very presence filled me with anxiety. To further complicate matters, my dad left me and my brother when we were quite young. One dark night, during a fit of rage, my dad spewed dreadful words that damaged my fragile spirit for years. It was the last time I saw him. Consequently, I was suspicious of God's love from the start. Rather than viewing God as a caring father, I believed Him to be an angry tyrant, ready to punish me at any moment for any small offense, real or perceived. Insecure and broken, I hid within myself for years.

My "stepfather" on the other hand is gentle and quiet. A private man, Dad is not overly demonstrative and he keeps his feelings to himself much of the time. While the rest of my family is animated and passionate, my Dad is quiet and reserved. My rejected and oversensitive heart often misread his intentions as I was growing to know him. Having been mistreated by my biological father for many years, I suppose I was overly suspicious of this new man with whom my mother now shared her life. Our transition wasn't easy for either of us at first. Still, over the years I have come to respect and appreciate the man who chose to be my Dad when my natural father walked away. The world refers to him as my "stepfather". To me, he is the father placed in my life by the loving hands of God.

He is my mother's faithful husband, my children's grandpa and my Dad in every way that matters. Ironically, my brother and I even look like we are His natural children. I have no doubt that God looked to and fro and then assigned him to be our father.

Patient and calm, my Dad is a good teacher. Over the years, he taught me how to drive. How to change a tire. And how to close the back door. After all, we didn't live in a barn! But the greatest lesson he has taught me in life is how to trust again. While he didn't have to be my dad, he chose to be a father, and claimed me as his own. As I grew, I was proudly recognized as his daughter.

It is a beautiful parrallel of my standing with my Heavenly Father. Grafted into God's family through the blood of Christ, I am precious in His sight. He could have left me in my sin, but instead He came for me. Despite my failures and shortcomings, God claims me as His own. Nothing can snatch me from His loving grasp. God looks upon me with favor and intercedes in my life. His loving eyes are always upon me, nothing happens to me without first being filterd through his sacrifical love. And, unlike some, God will never leave me nor forsake me.(Deuteronomy 31;8 NIV)

I am his beloved child, "an adopted heir in Christ." (Galatians 3:29 NIV) And he works daily to teach me how to be me more like Him. God longs to help me become more loving. More patient. More kind. He wants me to look and act like Him. In this life, I am called to be my Father's daughter.

Monday, April 12, 2010


A teenager discovers she is expecting a baby and chooses life over convenience. A young single mother leaves an abusive marriage and forges ahead to raise her two children in a peaceful home without threats and violence. A loving grandmother takes her grandaughter under her wing and shelters her from the loneliness of being a tween. What do all of these scenarious have in common you ask? Courage!

Some of us have it. Some of us don't. In a world that rejects the moral bounderies of absolute truth, courage is a rare commodity. Fearing the empty label of intolerance, all of humanity seems to shrink away from right and wrong. Hiding in our cowardice, we foolishly accept moral decline and decay. And, while some claim we have lost our moral compass, I strongly feel that it is more likely an issue of courage. It is a story as old as Cain and Abel. Both brothers knew what was right, but one chose obedience, the other murder. We are told that God reminded Abel, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7 NIV)

The same is true of us today. Obedience takes courage and many of choose the worldly road instead. It is not that we don't know what is right and what is wrong. Our Heavenly Father clearly leads us in righteousness. Rather, we prefer to stay hidden in sin, for we lack courage to stand out.

It shouldn't be so. For scripture pointedly says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9 NIV) God doesn't suggest we be courageous...He COMMANDS it! The world hasn't changed. It is still gripped by sin and will continue to be so until Christ returns. Yet, because of His sacrifice on the Cross, we are changed. With courage we can do the "God" things that truly revolutionize the world and bring glory to the Father.

Long ago, in the midst of exile, there was a woman, not so different from you or me, who initially lacked courage in a desperate and seemingly hopeless situation. Her name was Esther. Gripped by fear, she remained silent for a time while her people confronted threats of certain death. Her choices were grim. On the one hand Esther faced execution for being a Jew, on the other, execution for approaching the King without first being summoned. In all fairness, it seemed like a lose/lose proposition. But, we learn a lot from this bold girl who was also the unlikely Queen of the Persian empire. When in doubt, we must pray for courage. We are told that Esther told her cousin Mordecai...

"Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." (Esther 4:15-16 NIV)

Mustering her strength, Esther faced the uncertainties, victoriously saving both her people and herself. In short, she looked to God and courageously conquored fear. Each day, we encounter opportunities to display courage as well. We are courageous when we choose to reject humanistic ideals and instead embrace eternal truths in our homes and families. We show courage as we speak truth and love into the life of a friend who has stumbled blindly into sin and certain destruction. And we display courage as we boldly claim the gospel of Jesus Christ in a world bitterly consumed with hatred for our Savior.

Life is not for the faint of heart. Daily, we face an unseen enemy who seeks destruction in our lives. But we can be certain that darkness flees when we have courage and boldly follow God.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Marty, Jack, and I living the dream...building our first home in McKinney 10 years ago. <3

"They have no idea how lucky they are to live here," I said to my husband Marty as we drove past carefee children running freely on the manicured sidewalks of Stonebridge Ranch. A master-planned community in charming McKinney, Texas it was a place I yearned to be established. With tall flowering trees, luscious green landscapes, serene parks, and families everywhere, it seemed like the perfect place to settle down. It was mid-April 2000, and we were a young couple with our first child, looking for a place to grow as family. I remember thinking, "If only..." as the dream of raising our children in such an ideal location faded out of sight. While the community was truly lovely, it was also completely out of reach on our meager combined salaries. Dreaming the impossible, I imagined a sign on our nonexistant front door that read, "The Arbuckle Family. Established 1992".

Today we drove down that same tree-lined street as we returned from the grocery store. It has been ten years, and now we live just blocks away. Our children play in those same parks and our family walks down the very streets that once seemed so unattainable. And as we drive through our surroundings in our daily activities, God often reminds me that "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26 NIV)

Life if full of highs and lows. Ups and downs. Trials and triumphs. Most certainly, change happens and things don't always go the way you plan or expect. Still, we should never underestimate the plans of God. His plans are always bigger and more complex than we can ever imagine. I see that clearly in my own life. Much has happened in the ten years since I first gazed upon the place I now call home.

Five houses,
Four neighborhoods,
Three churches,
Two daughters,
Three companies,
Five promotions
Five professions of faith,
Four baptisms,
Five elementary schools,
One middle school,
One Life Group,
one mission trip,
numerous sifted friendships,
some trials,
a few setbacks,
many disappointments,
Countless victories,
One BIG God.

Clearly, the past ten years have been anything but predictable, except for one consistent truth. Our walk with the LORD has been an unshakeable constant. As we have drawn nearer to Him, our Heavenly Father has graciously refined our life together, making our family strong with Him. I haven't always liked the road we have traveled. Some of the paths were difficult and even unpleasant, but all roads led to our heart's desire which was to be rooted. We aren't planted in the false security of a safe neighborhood. Our security is not confined to the walls of a house. We have something even more steadfast. For we are securely "rooted and established in love." (Ephesians 3:17 NIV) Not a perishable worldly love, but the lasting eternal love of Jesus Christ.

Of course, this type of shelter can be tough for many to grasp. Just yesterday, I was greeted by a loose acquaintance who could simply not believe we had moved yet again. "Is this the last move?" she asked pointedly, her tone dripping with judgement and indignation. Though at first, her words stung my sensitive heart, I remained quiet and only smiled. After all, she has a point. As rude as she was in stating the obvious, we have had many changes during our time in McKinney. I have no argument for our defense. None except we do our best to follow where God leads, and His plans take time and trust. Just ask the Israelites. Ask Joseph. Or better yet, ask Christ himself. The best laid plans do not come fully assembled. Rather, they are revealed one faithful step in God's time.

In the years to come, I am certain we will stumble. Occassionally, we might even fall. And,we have not seen the end of our disappointment and failures. Unfortunately, life can be like that. Still, today I am grateful for I am a witness to a dream realized because of God's power. It fills me with awe and motivates me to follow God's lead, for with Him life is never boring.

Tomorrow, He may call us to pull up our stakes and move our tent elsewhere. Walking in faith is an adventure. Trusting God for His provision can be messy, complicated, and downright inconvenient, but it is also exhilerating. Truly, I have no idea what the next year holds, let alone the next ten. And while I would love to be firmly planted in one place, free to grow roots, God has yet to reveal that place to our family. In fact, I can only be certain that God has only shown me what He holds for me today. So, here we dwell, uncertain in our resources, but firmly established in His love. The road ahead is unclear, but I shall continue to "run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." (Psalm 119:32 NIV) The road ahead of me is His and I am learning to "let go and let God" be God. He knows my way better than me anyway, for he set the destination before us.

So, to answer that dear woman's question, I can only say this in reply...the future is unknown but my God is certain. If I ever begin to doubt that truth, I need only step out my front door. Here we are. Our family is living a dream that God planted in our hearts a decade ago. It is a dream only God could bring to fruition. Walking before us, the LORD knew the twists and turns along the way. Each move. Every roadblock. All of life's changes are part of His plan to bring us to this exact place at this very time in our lives for His perfect purpose.

By the standards of this world, Marty and I are still far from established. Faithfully, we shall continue to look up and put our trust in the One who "has established his throne in heaven, and whose kingdom rules over all." (Psalm 103:19 NIV) Our future is firmly established in Him who is worthy of praise. Maybe one day, He will give me a sign for my door.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Enough

"I think I am a good person." Blind with a sinful nature, my friend refused to acknowledge her need for a Savior. The words, cloaked in ignorant pride, pierced my heart and troubled my soul.

Foolishly, I too once believed I was "good enough" for God. After all, I almost always told the truth. And I would never consider stealing or murder, you know the BIG sins. Surely, God was more concerned about the truly evil people in the world than He was about my mistakes. I was "good" enough. Unfortunately, my eyes were veiled to the consequences of my sin.

It is a scenario played out daily to all who are born with a sinful nature, bent towards rebellion against God. No matter how "good" we think we are, our sinful nature remains. Because of this, "all share a common destiny, the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. as it is with the good man, so with the sinner. This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun. The same destiny overtakes all." (Ecclesiastes 9:2-3) Put simply, sin is sin. There is no sliding scale for "big" or "small" sins. All sin separates us from God.

Which leads us to Good Friday. Scripture tells us "If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD's commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible." (Leviticus 5:17 NIV) Our Heavenly Father, righteous and Holy, knew we were helpless to recognize our terminal condition. Regardless of how we see ourselves, God painfully witnessed that, "all have turned way, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one" (Romans 3:12) All except Christ. In Him, we find redemption for "the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7 NIV)

Our Savior came to conquor sin. We are told,"as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. ...On the third day he will be raised to life!"--Matthew 20:17-19. Jesus knew what was lay ahead when he placed his Holy feet on the path to Jeruselum.

Christ was aware of all that awaited him. The betrayal. The flogging. The scourging. The crcifixtion. The triumph over sin. Our Savior saw it all. In his goodness, Jesus took the broken road that led to the Cross. It was the only way to restore us to God. For Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. Though we arrogantly deny our sinful position, we are told:

All have turned aside,
they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one." (Psalm 14:3 NIV)

Deceived by our enemy and blind to our sinful nature, we are able to justify our human tendency toward rebellion. Born divine but fully man, Jesus Christ led a perfect sinless life. He who knew no sin, triumphed over sin, taking our punishment on the Cross. He never stumbled, nor did He fall. Instead, Jesus took the consequences from the fall of man on his scourged shoulders and saved us all from certain death. Through His blood alone, we are made righteous, reconciled to our Holy God. For "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." (2 Peter 1:3)

The painful truth is we cannot be good enough. Still, in His great love for us ALL, God sent us the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23 NIV)Instead of turning his eyes away from sinful man, Christ took our sins to the cross and redeemed us with His blood. He, alone, is good enough.

Monday, March 22, 2010

God's Lullaby

“The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
(Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)

Packing. Cleaning. Moving. And to top it off…a six year old with a newly broken leg. It was the end of a hectic week. Though it was late, sleep eluded me as I lay awake late on Friday night. It wasn’t that I was worried. Just exhausted. Mentally and spiritually, I had become consumed with the events of the days past. Over-stimulated and a bit stressed, my body refused sleep. Tossing and turning on the couch, listening to my wounded daughter wimper in the next room, I sighed. It was going to be a long night. Quietly, I remained still in prayer, hoping to find rest. Then I heard it…the gentle sounds of my wind chime filled my ears with a beautiful melody that made my weary heart smile. In that moment, I felt the LORD’s presence near, for I knew my God was singing over me.

My wind chime has been a precious communication tool between me and God for quite some time. It started when my youngest child was born. With my newborn daughter crying and restless late at night, I would hold her close and listen to my neighbor’s wind chime sing us to sleep. When we left that town home and moved into a new house, I desperately missed the chimes, and hoped to one day have some of my own. But, I never got around to buying myself a set. Diapers, formula, and other miscelaneous expenses took precident in our budget. Somehow, windchimes seemed like more of a want than a need. With so many other responsibilities competing for our limited cash flow, a set of wind chimes, no matter how lovely, just didn’t seem very high on my list of priorities.

Years later, we were in the midst of another move following a difficult season in our life as a family. We had come to a crossroads, and in many ways we were in need of hope and healing. As we moved our things into our new home, I was delighted to find an old wind chime, weathered and left behind from a previous tenant. My heart sang, for I knew it was God’s house warming gift to me. On difficult days, when my heart was breaking and I was in need of refuge, the chimes played music that lifted my soul. And I took confidence in God’s assurance that He was in control and I would see brighter days once more.

I still have those chimes. They are old and even a bit rusty. Nothing much to look at really. But, I love them that way, for they remind me that imperfections are part of everything beautiful. Countless days and nights, those chimes have spoken to me when I needed to hear from God most. When I hear my wind chimes singing, I know to stop and praise God for He is as constant as the wind.

So, here we are. Moving yet again. This time I brought my old chimes with me to our new home, and they bring me an instant sense of peace. How lovely a sound to hear them ringing, as chaos closes in around me. Once more, I turn my heart to my God, as the gentle breeze allows my chimes to quietly play just for me. As always, God has heard the cries of my heart, and He is singing me to sleep once more. It is a song I know well. It is God’s lullaby and I am resting in His arms as He sings over me.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Memory Verse: "You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit." (Job 10:12 NIV)

The master planned community was called Providence and the irony in us moving there was it was the very place that God refined me so I could faithfully trust in His sovereign care. Seduced by lakes, parks, and a front porch, I was convinced moving to Providence was the best way to provide a happy childhood for the kids. I fantasized about leisurely evenings watching my children play, as I sipped iced tea from the peace of my charming porch. Maybe I had been watching too many heartwarming commercials on the Hallmark channel, because my "mind movie" and "real life" were about to violently collide. Looking back, I see that God allowed us to journey to Providence in order that I might fully experience His guidance and omniscent provision, but it was a painful "hands-on" learning experience I pray I never forget.

Not long after we moved, I began to see our new neighborhood with God's eyes and I realized I was way in over our head and needed a life preserver. In the darkest days, it sometimes felt as though there was a heavy stone tied around my ankles pulling me into the depths of desperation. For though it seemed like my own personal "Mayberry", it turned out to be something I could not have expected. Almost immediately, I discovered moving was a terrible mistake. If it could go wrong, it did. From harrassment to homesickness, our family saw the full range of how badly something can go when you "do it yourself". One night, suffering from buyer's remorse and chronic heartache, I went for a walk with God. With tears in my eyes, I mustered up all my strength and whispered, "God, I see now I was wrong. This place is not what I expected and things aren't always what they seem. You know what is best. Help us find our way home."

As our situation deteriorated, and fear began to grip my wounded spirit, sleep alluded me. But I have a Savior who never slumbers, and in those sleepless nights, I prayed. Giving it all to God, I continuously surrendered my will to His. Along the way, God was moving in ways I could not see. When all seemed lost and I was helpless to do anything to change our situation, God extended His arms of protection and pulled my family out of the abyss. Only by God's providence did we find our way out of the hopelessness that threatened our peace. In mercy and love, "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." (Psalm 40:2) In His faithful care, God brought me refuge as He healed wounds of my own making. I have never been more grateful for God's providence.

The definition of Providence is as follows:

prov·i·dence   /ˈprɒvɪdəns/ –noun
1.(often initial capital letter) the foreseeing care and guidance of God or nature over the creatures of the earth.
2.(initial capital letter) God, esp. when conceived as omnisciently directing the universe and the affairs of humankind with wise benevolence.
3.a manifestation of divine care or direction.
4.provident or prudent management of resources; prudence.
5.foresight; provident care.

During my brief time in Providence, I learned to filter the cunning lies of my enemy. I was not alone. We were not abandoned. To the contrary, God reminded me,"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Dueteronomy 31:6 NIV) God was still reigning as my King, even as the storm swirled powerfully around me and my family. Though I was weak and powerless, He was strong. When I felt helpless, God assured me daily that nothing can separate me from God's love. And I felt I could not last one more day, God gave me promises of the days to come, reminding me that "I had a hope and future" rooted in Him alone. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

In truth, God promises His children, "neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 8:39 NIV) And though our courage and strength will fade, God is faithful. Looking back, I see God was working quietly behind the scenes to bring us refuge. He had a plan, but I had to trust Him to bring it about in His perfect timing. When all was in order, God moved us and I rejoiced as He brought us back home. Not just to any home, but to one identical to the one we had left in the first place. How's that for God flexing His muscle???

It has been almost three years since we moved to Providence, and I have grown up since then. As a family, we have been quiet with God as He pieced together the broken fragments and collateral damage from our time there. Some things will never be the same. I will never be the same. For that, I am thankful. Now, I believe God is who HE says He is and I have seen Him move mountains on my behalf that I could not budge. After my time in Providence, I KNOW who God is in my life.

Things have come full circle as we moved into another new house this weekend. It has the same ameneties I was seeking for when we moved to Providence, but this time I have walked in God's wake, allowing Him to calm the seas before me, as we followed His lead. I have vowed to "look before I leap". And as my family settles into our new home we look forward to the promise of tomorrow in this new chapter in our lives together. With gratitude, we have once more experienced the joy of His provision. And this time, I am filled with peace rather than fear. Rather than looking at yesterday with regret, today I choose to focus on God in all things and rejoice in His providence.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You are sovereign and we are yours. You are mighty. You are bold. You are powerful. You never fail. We trust in Your providence as everything belongs to you and is ruled under You alone. We praise you LORD for you are the one true living God of all.

Reflection: Are you trusting God's providence?