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.