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 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)