Featured

Unreal Reflections: 100 Word Writing Prompt

Unreal reflections are ones which stare back at us.They are misrepresentations of who we are, showing distorted images of our greater selves. 

They show what we look like on the outside, just a reflection of a superficial image the world sees.

Our true reflections are intricate maps of who God created us to be, the experiences He has brought us through, and the truths we hold in our heart. 

The reflection you see in the mirror, regardless of how you feel about it, is not who you are. It is merely an outside layer to a deeply woven being.

Featured

Morning Walk – A 200 Word Story

She stepped out the front door into the darkness of the early morning. It seemed that she alone was awake. The world slept on while she, already having been awake for hours, started on her morning walk. 

The quiet of the morning brought her restless soul some longed for peace. The streetlights, along with the bright moon and stars, shone enough on the path to make her feel safe. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath of the summer air, and took the first step.

The morning breeze had a slight chill to it, a deep contrast to the humidity already lingering in the air. It felt good against her skin. The quiet, in its own unique volume, was something she had been craving. Her world had become full of noise, impossible to shut off, and here she found what she had thirsted for.

It was only her and God this morning. It was only her and her prayers. She felt as if she had His full attention. She held out her palms as she walked, praising Him for the silence of the barely rising dawn.

She lost herself in His presence. And she never wanted to be found.

Featured

You are CALLED: Releasing Yourself from the Comparison Trap

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30

Comparison. It’s a trap. It’s a snare used to steal your joy – a joy He has given specifically to you. You know you shouldn’t do it – compare yourself to others, but this social media world you live in makes it so easy, doesn’t it?e 

You have found yourself in this “comparison trap” more times than you would like to admit. It seems to come on during certain seasons. Please realize these seasons where comparison rears its ugly head are the same seasons God has called you into. 

God has a plan for you, one which He called you to and predestined you for. Satan does not like this. He comes to steal, kill and destroy and he will use your human weaknesses to do so.

You are called according to His purpose for your life and His will … not someone else’s life. Not someone else’s job. Not someone else’s financial state. You get the picture. If you really and truly want His will to be done in your life then follow the path with your eyes fixed on Him, not on others.

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 2 Corinthians 10:12

It’s time to take your feet out of the snare of comparison and follow Him down the faithful road He has uniquely set before only you. 

JOURNALING QUESTIONS

In what area(s) of  your life do you find that you compare yourself to others?

How does comparing yourself to others make you feel towards them? Towards yourself? Towards God?

PRAYER

Dear Lord, I know You have called me according to Your purpose. I trust in Your plan for my life and the abilities You have blessed me with. Please help me remember these things when I am tempted to compare myself to others. Amen.

Featured

Throwing out the Rules

I don’t know exactly what happened. Somewhere in the last couple weeks I lost sight of what and why I was writing. I managed to subconsciously, and soon consciously, create all of these rules for myself on writing. It amazes me how subtly things like that can seep into your creative world.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about writing, but not actually doing it.  So, last night I sat down and listed all the things I believe get in my way of writing – both external and internal reasons. There is where I found those rules I spoke about.

Rules like, if I am not writing everyday, I shouldn’t call myself a writer or the biggest one, which happens to be the truest of all my stumbling blocks:

If I am not writing a devotion or a piece of Christian writing then I shouldn’t write it.

Where did this rule come from?  Who says that because God places devotion pieces on my heart, means that He doesn’t want me to write other things?

So, I have decided to throw all these “rules’ out the window – to be bold, but still prayerful; to be courageous and take some risks. 

Afterall, God created us in His image. He made us creative.

I don’t know where this revelation will take me, but I hope you will come along on the journey.

“The scariest moment is just before you start” – Stephen King

Featured

Impact of Relationships – A Thank You

What I have missed the most during this pandemic has been the ability to travel to different congregations throughout Texas. This relationship building not only plays a large part in being successful at my job, but on a personal level it has led me to some amazing relationships. Each of these relationships has helped me build a community of prayer warriors and encouragers.

I am so grateful for the ability to worship at different congregations online each Sunday morning. What a true blessing it is to attend multiple worship services in the same day and still be able to attend my home congregation’s service online.I have already been to three this morning and the messages were not only fantastic, but were ones I needed to hear. 

Although I do believe that some people and places are only in our life for a season, I am convinced that all of these people and places have a lasting impact on our lives.

I have come to realize that people in my life, no matter how many seasons they dwell, help me become a better person and help me grow in Christ.

1 Peter 4:8-10 says:

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

Notice, the verses don’t specify a timeline. It doesn’t matter if it’s one day or a lifetime, we must love one another, show hospitality and serve one another, showing grace in each moment.

May this continue to be written on my heart.

Dear Lord,

Thank you to the pastors in my life for working so hard to make sure we can worship together online and safely in person. Thank you to all the friends I have met in my life, whether our time of friendship has passed or continues, you have made an impact. Thank you to God for all the opportunities, including those during this pandemic, to grow in Christ and build relationships.

Featured

42 Word Writing Prompt: Jostle

Thoughts jostle in the space of infinite competition.

Pushing against each other, they vie for my attention.

Where can I hide from their pursuit?

I search for ways to silence them.

I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and try to let go.

Featured

Heart Assessment

I was listening to Spotify the other day when a cover of the song “Diamonds are Forever”. I have heard this song before, of course, since it’s the theme song to a James Bond movie of the same name. Yet, this was the first time I ever actually listened to the lyrics. These lyrics struck me with their power:

I can see every part, nothing hides in the heart to hurt me

It reminded me of how there have been times I have hidden things in my heart. These things, if they had been let out, may have hurt someone or hurt my relationship with them. Sometimes I have hidden things in my heart from others out of fear. It was easier to tuck away things in the darkest secret corners of my heart then it was to be vulnerable.

I have even tried this same tactic with God. It I thought, ‘maybe if I hide the parts of me I am not proud of or the actions I regret deep in my heart, He won’t see them?  

I was only fooling myself. I was only doing a disservice to myself. I could not fool God. How could I have blinded myself to fact that God is Omniscient?

Psalm 44:20-21 says:

If we had forgotten the name of our God

    or spread out our hands to a foreign god,

would not God have discovered it,

    since he knows the secrets of the heart?

It may be a little scary to know that God sees everything in our heart, every dark secret shines in light before Him. However, this is a good thing. We need Him to see what is in our heart, so He can expose the good, the bad , the shameful, the fearful and everything in between. 

Proverbs 4:23 tells us the heart is the place from where all things flow; Where life flows and springs up from.

I can often tell what is in my heart based on what flows from my mouth, what’s stirring in my thoughts, and my overall attitude. Sometimes it’s wonderful, other times not so much.

If you are struggling with what is flowing from your mouth, what’s stirring in your thoughts, or your attitude, may I suggest taking a “heart assessment?”  

No matter what is hiding in the dark corners of your heart, your known and unknown secrets, trust that they are already shining in the light of God’s love. He sees them. He knows them. There is nothing hidden from God.

We don’t have to fear this because we know these two truths:

  1. God will forgive us for all these thing we try to hide

But if we freely admit our sins when his light uncovers them, he will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and he will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 TPT

  1. We can have a new and clean heart

Create a new, clean heart within me. Fill me with pure thoughts and holy desires, ready to please you. Psalm 51:10 TPT

I don’t know about you, but Psalm 51:10 will now become part of my daily prayer.

I will leave you with this quote by Oswald Chambers:

        “ The human heart must have satisfaction, but there is only one Being who can satisfy the last abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Featured

One Lesson Learned in 2020

I started 2020 with a fear which carried over from the previous year. This fear had to do with my heart health. 

Just a couple months into 2020, though, this fear was replaced by a new fear: Covid-19. The pandemic brought with it not only fear for the health of myself and those I know and love, but also the financial fears which come with job loss.

Then, two weeks ago, I had a new fear come and replace the Covid one – Melanoma. This diagnosis brought a fear of pain, a fear of medical bills, and a fear of what may come next.

But let me share with you the biggest lesson I have learned in 2020:  

There will always be something in this world to fear. 

Let me share with you another truth:

God is greater than any fear or any cause of the fear. He is in us and with Him we are more than conquerors!

So, exhale, release these thoughts and emotions and remember His words:

4 My children, you have come from God and have conquered these spirits because the One who lives within you is greater than the one in this world. 1 John 4:4

Featured

GOD IS PERSISTENT

Have you ever had one of those “middle-of-the-night, brutally honest, two way conversations with God?”     

I have. 

In fact, due to not sleeping well in the past week from the surgery, I have had quite a few. (I could use another week just to sit and process everything He has shown me.) 

If I am truly honest with myself, though, none of what was revealed to me was a surprise. God has gently nudged me before on the subjects, but I just chose to subtly ignore Him (which you can’t do by the way).

God is patient, but He is also  persistent.

It’s not easy to hear things about yourself – weaknesses pointed out or personality traits you  wish you didn’t have. Our pride says “if you don’t like who I am, that’s your problem.”

It’s our pride which keeps us from taking a deep dive into analyzing the things about ourselves we would rather keep hidden or refuse to admit.  It was my pride that kept me pushing His gentle nudges aside. The irony that my pride was one of the subjects He spoke to me  about  is not lost on me, by the way.

Again, God is patient, but He is also persistent.

Think about the story of Jonah.  God called Jonah to go to Nineveh.  

What did Jonah do? He ran.  What did God do? He persisted.

Jonah didn’t want to hear or follow what God wanted him to do, but God persisted and prevailed.

God’s persistence is a beautiful gesture manifested by His faithful love for us.

Trust in His persistence in your life.  

“But You, O Lord, are a God [who protects and is] merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness and truth.”  Psalm 86:15

Featured

Being Still

They stood on the banks of a pond, fishing lines in the water.

“This is not what I was expecting when you told me you wanted to teach me mindfulness,” she said to her friend.

“Being still comes in many forms,” he replied.

Upon hearing those thought provoking words, I paused the show, and the character, who just said words that spoke volumes to me.

When did I decide that “being still” meant only sitting in a quiet room praying and reading my Bible? Why did I define it so rigidly?

Being still means being in His very presence, listening for him, focusing on Him and all things by Him.

So, be still on the banks of a pond with a fishing line wavering in the water.

Be still while moving through the trails of a nature reserve.

Be still on a morning walk.

Be still wherever and however you desire to be.

Find your space.

Be still.

Featured

Another Battle to Fight

The words on the other end of the phone call were not what I expected to hear. Everything had led me to believe that it wasn’t anything to worry about. Yet, there I stood, cell phone in hand, learning another lesson in the agony of unmet expectations. I was caught off guard and I felt the air leave abruptly from me, knocked out in one sentence.

Melanoma.

Again. 

My first diagnosis was May 23,2011, a first look into an unknown fear. I tried to process it. I cried and called out to God. Finally, after a whirlwind of emotions, I finally said to God, “Don’t let this be in vain. Let me be able to help others by using this for good.”

Now, here I am. April 24, 2020. Here in a time when Covid has been my fear, I am faced with the harsh reality of having a Melanoma diagnosis again. A new fear in the same arm as last time.  Just above my wrist is going to be a scar – a Battle Scar. 

Melonoma is not just a battle against a cancer trying to attack my skin, it’s a battle against emotional and spiritual enemies. I fight against the devil trying to steal my joy and against letting the diagnosis define me. 

In the past nine years, I have won this battle, fighting diligently through the highs and lows that come with it. I can list for you every blessing I see in this just as much as I can list every fear and reason for frustration.  I see that as a good thing. I never want to lose sight of the blessings that shine even in the darkness. 

So, why I am writing this? What is the point?

Well, I am writing this for YOU. Whether it’s a scary diagnosis, unexpected bad news, or unmet expectations …. YOU have a  God who is right there with you. A God who created you to feel every emotion instilled inside you,

Let yourself feel what you feel. Give permission to yourself to feel and process everything. And when you have, bring them to the Lord, who walks beside you, upholds you, and brings you to the green pastures to lie down to rest and the still waters to rest beside.

So, as I go forth with surgery next week to remove it, the blood tests to make sure it hasn’t found its way in, and the x-rays to ensure my lungs are clean . . . I will prepare for battle.  

Just as was told to King Jehosophat and all the people of Judah in 2 Chronicles 20:15:

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

The army may not be vast in this case, but it is still something on the attack. I will not retreat as long as my God is on my side. 

He will always fight for me.

He will always fight for you.

Featured

SWEET PERFUME

As I was driving to work yesterday, the radio DJ asked this question:

“If happiness was a scent, what scent would it be for you?”

This was a great question! It is amazing to me how the power of a certain scent can invoke a memory, taking you back to a specific time or place. For me, there are a lot of scents which happiness could be: black coffee, incense, the smell of old books.

My answer to this question though would be the smell of a rose.

When we were younger, my little sister discovered a rose perfume she could dab on herself . . . or more accurately, douse herself with. The aroma of roses would fill our home and to this very day, more than 30 years later, the smell of roses reminds me of her at that age. It always makes me smile. (although, I didn’t smile back then when I smelled it)

In the Book of John,  Mary takes a pint of very expensive, rare perfume and pours it out on Jesus’ feet. The fragrance of this perfume filled the house.

This is such a beautiful moment. I can only imagine how much this pleased Jesus and how the sweet aroma filled up his nose as He breathed it in. 

I believe our prayers are like that too. Our prayers are the pleasing aroma which God breathes in. How sweet, how pleasant this fragrance must be to the God who loves us. 

As a child, I loved the smell of incense in church. I loved to watch, and still love to watch when I can,  the smoke work its way out of the Thurible. It rises, carrying the prayers of the Saints in its aroma.

Like the blossoming vines of the fig trees spreading their fragrance, our prayers, rising in  rich aroma, must be the scent of happiness for God.

“And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne,  and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.” Rev 8:3-4

Featured

A Place to Belong (Thank You, Dad)

Isn’t it funny how so many simple things, like a smell, a specific phrase or one word can invoke a memory?

This just happened to me. I was reading a devotion, here on the morning of the five year anniversary of my father’s death, when a word jumped off the page and instantly played a film in my head about a 12 year old me who experienced her first, very real, introduction to rejection.

This is not about my father rejecting me, but about him rescuing me, just as our heavenly Father does.

“Come to Him—the living stone—who was rejected by people but accepted by God as chosen and precious.” 1 Peter 2:4 The Voice

I was trying out for my first ever select soccer team. This was the club to be in and I wanted to be on that team more than anything. As part of the tryouts, I played on their indoor soccer team. I did very well, even having the honor of being the team’s leading scorer. How could I not make the team after this achievement?

When the coach called me to tell me I indeed did not make the team, I was devastated. I did not understand how this was possible. I remember my dad, who didn’t understand either, calling the coach to see if he could get an answer to this mysterious why.

He came into my room and told me that he thought the reason I didn’t make the team was because of him. My dad had already been a somewhat successful assistant soccer coach in the area, but I didn’t understand what that would have to do with me. My dad did not elaborate on this reasoning of his, and I didn’t ask him to elaborate. Besides, no amount of reasoning would make me feel any less rejected.

The next thing my father did changed me from a young girl feeling completely rejected to one who was invited to be accepted, loved and to have one of the greatest times of her childhood. He offered to coach a team for me. (Side note: he would continue to coach me for years)

He started a team for me, one made of a couple girls like me who had experience, but the majority were ones who had never played before. Looking back, I remember how much he believed in each and every one of these girls, coaching them to become good soccer players. He gave all of us rejects – rejects from other teams, rejects from other sports, rejects from social classes, the list goes on – a place to belong.

That sense of belonging, not wanting to feel rejected, is something we will always have. I am so happy my father gave me that place, but I am overcome with joy in knowing that we have a wonderful, beautiful, loving and compassionate heavenly Father, who welcomes the least of us, the lot of us misfits, into His loving arms.

In Him, and with Him, we will always belong.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Is 43:1

This piece is dedicated to my dad, the world’s greatest soccer coach and to all the members of that wonderful team of misfits back in 1985 – Paradise Valley Sting.

Featured

MY SACRED SPACE

On January 29, 2020, I renewed my library card. That was the last day I had set foot into the library. It closed shortly after due to Covid-19.

As the days went on, I found myself missing my more than once weekly trips to this beautiful establishment. No longer could I linger at one of the small tables with my headphones playing Nat King Cole as I worked on my writing. No longer could I stop to check out a book on whatever my interest was that day. To me, this library was a world created just for me – a sanctuary from the busyness of life and nothing but a doorway to knowledge, adventure and imagination.


“Do yourself a favor and love wisdom. Learn all you can, then watch your life flourish and prosper!” Proverbs 19:8 TPT

Although it opened back up with very specific parameters, I couldn’t seem to find my way back. Until today.

I walked into the library and found only myself to be in there among the two employees. I was the proverbial kid in a candy store. I wanted a book from every section, to pause before each genre and load my arms up with more books than I could handle. I was back in my little piece of Heaven where I stood wide-eyed and grinning from ear to ear beneath my mask.

I had it all to myself. I walked each row, each genre and forced myself to a limit of only books I could carry in my arms. 10 books to be exact. I found my sanctuary again. I found a quenching to the thirst the vacancy had created.

It seems silly, doesn’t it? To miss a simple place like a library and be saddened by its removal from your life. It was my place. My place to go to escape, to learn, to dream . . . my sacred space. Outside the doors was a busy, chaotic, stressful world surround by demands, but here was peace.

We all need a place to escape to – a healthy place. A place to call our own. I wonder, what is that place for you?

Featured

30 Word Writing Prompt: Syzygy

We are a syzygy –

connected by experience,

aligned by pain our hearts hold.

Now we float,

in the only realms

we can understand.

Life on earth,

is a distant memory.

Featured

WRITTEN MEMORIES

I spent every childhood summer at my grandmother’s house, the house my father grew up in. It’s a small, but charming house which sits just across the banks of Lake Oneida, or as my family and I affectionately call it, “Grandma’s Lake” in Bridgeport, New York.  Every year we would travel from wherever we were living at the time up to this family home to enjoy a family reunion and Independence Day.

As a child, this summer tradition was one full of excitement and exploration. The time was filled with fireworks, bonfires, swimming, boating, fishing, and my absolute favorite – catching fireflies on the grassy bank of the lake.  

It was a magical and fantastic place full of mystery and intrigue.

It had been 27 years since I had stepped inside this family home.  It took me that long to make it back to this special place, but it was exactly the perfect Godly time in which I was meant to be there. July 4, 2014 is forever imprinted in my memory and engraved on my heart.  

There was no way for me to know it would be the last holiday I would spend with my dad.  

There was no way to know that the last face-to-face conversation I would have with him would be on that very date.

We sat across from each other at a small table, covered in a vinyl tablecloth, just he and I. We discussed our favorite mutual authors, Douglas Adams and Stephen King, quoted “Hamlet” and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.  We shared our passion for writing and the genres we were working in. He gave me his latest short story, “Chicken Little: The Truth Revealed” to read and provide honest feedback. 

I headed home after the trip with the absolute conviction this was indeed the best conversation we had ever had. I treasured it from the moment it happened. It was just he and I, sharing our love for the written word. 

Almost exactly a year later, he would be gone. 

That conversation, that moment, echoes in my soul  forever.

I am grateful to have in my possession the very story he shared with me that day. What a blessing it is to work on something which meant so much to him. As always, my prayer is to do his work justice and to use what I learned in that conversation to write as he would write. 

As I sit at my kitchen table, thousands of miles away from that magical place, I can feel his very presence sitting in the empty chair across from me. 

And I begin to write . . . “Let us begin by righting a terrible wrong and clearing the name of a true hero. You will soon learn — being Chicken is a good thing.”

Featured

Writing in Loving Memory

It’s July 1.

I created a tradition for myself where I spend the month of July working on my Dad’s stories for him posthumously. I also step out of my own comfort zone and work on stories that he would enjoy. It’s always an emotional process for me, but one I look forward to each year.

I never know where this journey will take me, but I am inviting you along for the ride.

Featured

Wrapping My Arms Around Wisdom

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I finally understood what it meant, and how important it was, to pray for wisdom.

In The Voice translation, Proverbs 3:18 describes wisdom this way:

She is like a tree that produces a satisfied life for anyone who can wrap their arms around her;  happiness waits for any who hold her tightly.

This may just be my favorite visual in the Bible.

I imagine wisdom as this strong and mighty Oak, whose trunk my arms barely fit her embrace. I wrap them tightly around her, pressing my cheek against her bark, and listen for the voice of wisdom. Atop, the canopy protects and shields me from all harm, always allowing thin streams of sunlight through. Never leaving me completely in the shade, the darkness. The branches extend in varying directions, guiding the different areas of my life with wisdom and instruction.

And the happiness waits for me who holds her tight.

Featured

My Scars are a Little Less Ugly

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.” Deut. 31:6

Almost every day of my Facebook memories that pop up in May and June from 2011 until now are related to skin cancer.

When I first got diagnosed with Melanoma, the fear was huge. Who knew that it would start a plethora of so many biopsies, surgeries, stitches and scars? I remember praying through the fear and saying to God:

“Okay, God. If I am going to have to deal with this, then please don’t let it be for nothing. Let me be able to use this experience to help others.”

He answered that prayer.

Last night, I was able to talk with someone who just got diagnosed with Basal Cell. It warmed my heart to have them reach out to me – to let me walk them through what is a new, scary experience.

I am incredibly grateful to be able to walk with people, encourage them, pray with them, and to give them the facts instead of all the misinformation on the internet.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t at least feel a little scared every time I go to the Dermatologist. The fear is real, but the faith is greater.

As I told them last night, as I held back tears:

Being able to help someone else through my experience makes every scar I have a little easier to look at.

Featured

Sunday Photo Fiction – The Bicycle Basket (200 Words)

Visiting the charming, quaint tea house in her small town was Claire’s favorite Saturday morning ritual. She rode, the basket filled with fresh flowers she picked along the way. 

Her routine was the same. She would lock up her bike, then head inside for a cup of English Breakfast Tea. Patricia, the owner of the place, would smile brightly and thank her profusely for the fresh flowers. 

Claire, twenty five years old, vibrant and free, found Patricia to be an eighty year old book where every page demanded to be read and appreciated. They were kindred spirits and Claire soaked in this relationship. She never wanted it to end.

Patricia passed away on a Friday evening. The next morning, Claire rode her bicycle up to the tea house, like she did every Saturday, collecting the fresh flowers along the way. This time, Claire parked her bicycle out front, removed the basket and hung it on the tree. 

She wiped the tears from her eyes, exhaled, turned and walked home.

The next Saturday, she walked to the tea house, fresh flowers in hand. She replaced the old flowers from the basket, removed the “For Sale” sign, and entered her new establishment. 

Featured

She Laughs and my Soul Sings

She laughs and it makes my soul sing.

The sound, forgotten and lost in her darkness,

has finally found its way back.

I  welcome it gratefully with open arms.

I close my eyes and suddenly, it’s the only sound I hear.

I record the sound in my memory.

I don’t want this music to end,-

this joyous moment to cease. 

Her laughter lights the world around us,

Leaving years of darkness behind in a single refrain.

She catches my smile with her cheerful eyes,

but she misses my held back tears.

Freedom from her mind chimes with a new day.

The sound continues to play in my mind,

and fills my heart and mouth with praise.

Featured

Sunday Photo Fiction – Escape (200 words)

goal was to write a 200 word story inspired by the image (photo courtesy of morguefile) https://sundayphotofiction.com/author/donnamcnicol/

He was tired of trying to make her happy. When did she get so bitter? She was not the same girl he had married years ago. He didn’t know who she was anymore. He only knew one thing – he didn’t want to be there. Where could he go? If he had to choose between fight or flight, he would always choose flight. 

He escaped during her rants, traveling in his mind to places of comfort and beauty. This time he chose to go camping. It was out of spite. The camper he bought led to an argument where she would not speak to him for days. If only she always gave him the silent treatment.

Her mouth was moving, but all he could hear was the sound of the country air whistling through the open windows. Everything was peaceful until his mind suddenly took him into the city, his car upended, the camper sinking into the abyss of concrete behind him.

He snapped back into reality, finding himself upended in the recliner, shoved over in her fit of unhappiness. At that moment, he wished the carpet beneath him would open up and swallow him whole – enveloping him with deep silence.

Featured

Sunday Photo Fiction – The Tree (200 Words)

The goal was to write a 200 word story inspired by the image (photo courtesy of morguefile) https://sundayphotofiction.com/author/donnamcnicol/

The twisted trunk seemed to point to the path she should follow. Lost in thought, she had spent the day wandering throughout the glory of the towering trees, embracing the safety of their covering canopies. 

Somewhere she had stepped off the path of the life she knew she was called to lead. Love, or what you think is love, can do that to a person – lead you astray, let you forget who you are, and sweep you up into a whirlwind of excitement, only to let you free fall to the ground.

The ground she fell onto was at least familiar. Earthy, wet, covered with fallen leaves – a beautiful, wooded area undiscovered by most people that sat just beyond her Grandmother’s property line. 

She wanted to escape. She went to the place she found solace – the woods she explored so vigorously as a child. It was this place which not only gave her a love of nature itself, but the love of capturing creation through photographs. These woods spoke to her soul. Here life  called her by name and welcomed her into a sacred space. It was here where she found her path. It was here where she found God.

Featured

BEYOND THE CLOUDS

Driving down the highway yesterday, a sudden surge of brake lights caught my
attention. It wasn’t an accident or traffic which caused the sea of bright red
to appear. It was hard rain, which seemed to come out of nowhere, catching all
of us by surprise.

The sky had a few clouds scattered throughout it, but none seemed large
enough or dark enough to provide the rainstorm that came down. It was as if the storm cloud was hovering just above my car at one point because I couldn’t actually see it.

What I could see, though, briefly through the cleared space from the
windshield wipers, was the blue sky ahead.

Isn’t that how life is? Full of storms which are unexpected. Sometimes we can
see the blue sky just beyond the storm and other times, well, all we see is a
sky overwhelmed with clouds waiting to burst open with no evidence of an end.

That’s what faith is. It is knowing the blue sky is going to show up. It is
the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews
11:1) It is knowing that even though the entire sky is consumed with storm
clouds, that beyond it, where our earthly eyes cannot see, there is blue. There
is hope. There is clear, calm sky filled with heavenly brightness waiting on
the other side of the storm.

In Mark 4, we read the story of Jesus calming the sudden storm which shows
up on the sea. His disciples are scared and call on Him. He calms the sea and
says to His disciples in Mark 4:40-

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

When I feel the fear from one of lives’ storms present itself, when I can’t
see the blue sky beyond the clouds, I hear Jesus asking me this very question. “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

It always reminds me that Faith is greater than fear and even the smallest amount of faith can calm the largest of storms.

Featured

A Gift of Conviction

In 2015, at a restaurant and bar in Waco, Texas, a violent riot happened between rival motorcycle gangs. Nine people died that day and 18 people were injured. For many days after this, there was a tension in the air. Suddenly, social media and the news were swarming with stories leading many people to judgement and stereotyping. 

We had suddenly forgotten the words from Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”

Around that same time, I was  preparing for my daughter’s high school graduation. Unbeknownst to me, my brother was sending her a graduation present – a shirt from the University she would attend. This would end up being much more than a present. It would be a reminder of the old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover” and would arrive with God’s perfect timing.

At the same time, a man living in the house we used to live in, dressed in all of his motorcycle riding apparel, was working on his Harley Davidson in his garage. He was anxiously awaiting a part for it, so he could meet up with his club and go riding.  As he was working, UPS brought him a box. He opened it and quickly realized it was not for him. Inside the box was the very graduation gift my brother had sent.

Upon the discovery of a shirt in the box, this man quickly realized this must be a gift. He then tracked down my brother and called him, letting him know what had happened. My brother in turn called me.

I walked over to the house we used to live in, the house where this Harley Davidson man whom social media and the news had already condemned as a violent person just by association, stood in his garage working on his Harley. He was an older man, long hair in a braid down his back, with matching gray in his full beard and mustache. Next to him was the Chocolate Lab he had just rescued named Lucy.

This man, it turned out, was a Vietnam veteran and had been a Prisoner of War. He was so friendly and warm, a complete contradiction to how he and his fellow riders were being portrayed. This man was so friendly that I half expected him to invite me in for lemonade. I would have accepted too.

This experience convicted me for my own judgement. I was guilty for putting a label on this man based on his looks. I was grateful for that conviction. It’s easy to let the world tell us what we should think of people based on race, ethnicity, gender, and every stereotype in between. 

I was changed that day all because of a gift – a gift I still treasure because of the message it brought with it. A message of love.  Love for our neighbors.

For he has given us this command: whoever loves God must also demonstrate love to others. John 4:21 TPT

My prayer is for us to share peace, to shine the light of love in the face of all darkness. There will be darkness, but if we can glow with His love, we can give the hope which can overcome all the shadows.

Featured

NEW PATTERNS OF OLD HABITS

A few years ago, I completed an intricate cross stitch. It was a beautiful scene of a church in winter in the style of Thomas Kinkade. The use of gold and yellow gave the appearance of light in the windows and the lanterns above the doorway. This served as a great contrast to the church itself, which was created using many shades of the same color. However, the greatest contrast would appear later.

After finishing this, I decided to give it as a gift, but I needed to frame it first. As I went to place it in the frame, I placed the beautiful image face down, leaving the back to face me. How ugly it was! I remember hoping that the recipient would never take this out of the frame. I never wanted them to see the ugly side.

Colored floss crossed their way in every direction, heaps of knots loomed, and random mistakes I knew I had made seemed to shine among them all. It was a garbled mess. 

Maria Von Trapp said:

“It will be very interesting one day to follow the pattern of our life as it is spread out like a beautiful tapestry. As long as we live here we see only the reverse side of the weaving, and very often the pattern, with its threads running wildly, doesn’t seem to make sense. Someday, however, we shall understand. In looking back over the years we can discover how a red thread goes through the pattern of our life: the Will of God.”

The back of the cross stitch, in all of its terrible, distorted glory, is like our lives. It’s our bad, old habits, our sins, our faults, our failed attempts at devising our own plans, and everything in between.

Yet, if you look at the other side, you see a beautiful pattern. A pattern designed perfectly for each one of us. Even though we may have taken paths in every direction or even got stuck and knotted a few times, God can still make new patterns out of old habits.

It is He who sits on the throne who said, “Behold, I am making all things new” Revelation 21:5

Trust in Him to take all of your bad, old habits, sins, faults, failed attempts at devising your own plans, and everything in between, and to turn them into a new pattern – a new beautiful creation for the sake of His glory.

Featured

Faith of a Mustard Seed

A couple years ago, my mom surprised me with a gift. There was no special occasion for it. It was just something she saw on her trip to Israel that spoke my name to her.

Upon presenting it to me, she said,

“I see nothing but faith in you.”

I don’t believe, for me at least, there is a better compliment one could receive. This compliment came at the most Godly time. Just after my faith was near non-existent.

A few months before receiving this thoughtful gift, I was trying desperately to help my daughter manage her anxiety. After many different doctor appointments, acupuncture, medications, and natural attempts for help, she finally decided she needed to go to a mental health facility. Upon their assessment, they accepted her. As hard as it was to leave her there, it was the best decision we ever made, and I thank God for it. It was our last hope and it led to the right doctor and the right medication.

After returning home without her, I came into my house to a phone call. It was the facility telling me what they estimated the amount of her bill to be. The amount was in the thousands, and along with every other medical bill we had coming in daily, it overwhelmed me. I had no choice, though. This really was the last thing that might help her, even if it meant not having any idea how we would pay.

I hung up the phone and walked into the living room. It was there that I dropped to my knees with uncontrollable tears. I felt many things towards God in that moment, but mostly I felt His absence. I had been feeling it for a while especially since my prayers for help and healing for her didn’t seem to be answered.

My mom was right. I was a woman of strong faith, at least I thought I was. However, during that moment, the only faith I had was the size of a mustard seed. I reached into that faith and grabbed hold of it tight, squeezing as much out of it as I could. I prayed for the hundredth time that night, admitting to God my anger at Him, my lack of faith, questioning where He had been. I repeated the words of Jesus back to Him from Matthew 17:20: (honestly, I was really reminding myself)

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Before that experience, I had thought I had a strong faith, but until something happens to test it, you really don’t know.

The beautiful and wonderful words of Jesus are enough to move mountains. Know that whatever you may be going through, have faith, even if it is faith the size of a mustard seed. After all, mustard seeds grow into strong trees.

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32

Featured

BEING PRESENT

I was watching a murder mystery last night and this detective was speaking with a witness. She described what happened like this: “He was 15 steps away from me, his head was down, his hands were shaking, he stood facing North.”

When asked how she knew these details when it happened so quickly, she replied, “I like to be present.”

That line struck me. Like many people, I struggle with being present. I decided this morning on my walk to practice it. I was present in every step and I noticed an incredible number of things because of it. The different songs of birds, the way the air felt sticky but the breeze was cool, the sound of music and woodworking tools coming from garages and more. I even took some time to be present with a baby squirrel who wanted to pause his frantic pace and enjoy a staring contest with me.

By being present, all of my senses were affected. I saw things of beauty I have never noticed before. I smelled the onset of rain. I felt the light breeze graze my arms. I tasted the coolness of the water I brought with me. I heard the sounds of an early Saturday morning.

By being present, I was able to enjoy His majestic creation.

Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance,[a] because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities[b] of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived,[c] for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible.[d] So then, this leaves everyone without excuse. Romans 1:20 TPT

Be present and see the visible, so we can understand the invisible.

Featured

WHILE WE WAIT

On Saturday, my husband and I grabbed our face masks and headed out to Hobby Lobby. We grabbed the specific paints he needed and went to check out. The line was incredibly long, but it was mostly due to the social distancing, giving it an illusion of tremendous length.

As we took our places at the end of the line, a woman and her husband got in line right behind us. Immediately, the woman began to rant and complain about the long lines and how their lack of cashiers was ridiculous. (Side note: they had more cashiers than I have ever seen there).  Her grumbling continued even as we were moving pretty quickly up the line. This really could have made the waiting experience miserable.

To me, when I am waiting in line, there is nothing worse than being with or near someone who just wants to complain about the waiting. As I was doing my best to tune her out, I was using this wait as a time to notice. I took it as an opportunity not a challenge. It was a chance to think, notice, pray, and dream. 

This was me in a line at a craft store. This was not me waiting to reach the Promised Land.

It made me realize, though, how our grumblings and complaints while we are waiting must sadden God. It’s one thing to become impatient while waiting at a store, but the impatience we can battle against while waiting on God is on another level.

Yet, we can still take it as an opportunity and not a challenge. It’s still a chance to think, pray, notice and dream. 

“Waiting is a very active part of living. Waiting on God, if we do it correctly, is anything but passive. Waiting works its way out in very deliberate actions, very intentionally searching the Scriptures and praying, intense moments of humility, and self-realization of our finiteness. With the waiting comes learning. I can’t think of much I’ve learned that’s positive from the times I’ve plowed ahead without waiting on God.” Wayne Stiles

Too many times, we try to rush His plan, figure it out on our own, or try things we think will help Him move it along. We need to learn to wait and wait with a beautiful trust and willingness to grow from it.

As the Psalmist reminds us in 27:14:  “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

What attitude will you choose to have while you wait?

Listen to “There Was Jesus” by Zach Williams with Dolly Parton (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37wV6D49iEY

Featured

100 Word Writing Prompt: CHEERS!

“Cheers!”

She was the last one to raise her glass and the only one not to take a sip. 

He was the only one who knew why.

He watched her, quietly and uninvited, from across the room. She looked beautiful in the long, fitted, red gown. Her toffee brown hair draped around her shoulders hiding her scarred, yet tantalizing neckline.

She smiled at the gentleman talking to her. Mustering out a fake giggle at something he perceived as witty, she lightly touched his arm.

She turned, locked eyes with the man across the room, and dropped her glass of champagne. 

Featured

Walking the Faithful Road

I continue to walk the faithful road ahead of me,

though, at times, my feet struggle to move.

It is always Him who upholds when I am weary.

He alone guides my direction with His loving and eternal compass.

Still, other times I find myself rushing,

forgetting the pace of which I am called.

Yet in his wisdom, He begins to slow me.

Reminding me it is in His time and not mine.

Slow down. Pace myself. Enjoy the journey.

That is the only way to see the full road behind –

never forgetting the path which brought me to glory.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

Featured

Pause Like Mary

Today I felt myself get angry for the first time during this pandemic. It wasn’t at the virus, the government or even the people who refuse to wear masks in the stores. I got angry at something implied by the title of an article: “Take this Pause and Write Your Book.” My thought was, “how dare they assume that we are all sitting around binge watching Netflix!”.

Seems harmless, doesn’t it? But to me, it felt, well, false. The anger had nothing to do with writing a book, but had everything to do with the words “this pause”. Maybe it is just me, but I have yet to “pause”. In fact, I don’t know of anyone right now who is “pausing”.

We are either working at a place, or working from home. If we aren’t working, we are spending time looking for jobs. We are teaching our kids in our homes, some parents going to school themselves, navigating needs for our family members in nursing homes and so much more. We are overwhelmed. We are stressed and I feel like I am busier than ever.

So, if you are like me, we do need to take a pause – a pause to pray for endurance, a pause to breathe Him in. Yes, we should pause.

Pause in His presence.

This made me think about Mary and Martha in Luke 10:

3As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Why did I get so angry at the title of that article? I can tell myself it’s because it was making an assumption, but the truth is that it convicted me.

I have been a Martha.

I need to be a Mary.

Featured

Flowers May Fall

The warmth of the sun kisses my skin.

Fields of wildflowers in bloom are noticeably fading,

yet their aroma is strong and swirls around me.

I sing the lyrics, “neither field nor flower escapes His notice”

and I pause to breathe in those words –

filling more than my lungs,

It is a breath of hope in knowing I am never forgotten.

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Featured

RECONNECT -One Word Writing Prompt

Reconnect and restore.

Reconnect with the relationship you were built for.

Reconnect with His Word.

Reconnect with your inner self.

Reconnect with times before.

Reconnect and restore.

Featured

HIS DAILY PRESENCE

Every morning before the sun rises, before I get in my car to head to work, I take a walk. This is my favorite part of the day. The moon is shining down with a beautiful glow, many stars are still shining bright. Besides nature singing off and on, there is mostly silence. During this time, I feel the closest to Jesus. It’s as if He and I are the only ones in the world awake. In this stillness, I have His full attention and He has mine.  I feel His very presence and hear His sweet, soft whisper. It is my quiet time, my prayer time – the time when I am fully aware that He is there.

Then it all changes. 

I get in my car and head to work where my day is busy and even lunchtime has become a time to get personal things done – pay bills,reply to emails and social media, and even catch up on reading the Bible. After work, I go home where family, pets and household needs take over. 

Yet, Jesus is there even during those times. He is there even when we are too busy to be aware. Right here, right now, and in every moment, He is there.

Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

He is ever present, and although we may be present, we are not always focusing or even recognizing His presence. At least, not like we do  when the world is still and we are uninterrupted. 

So, here is a challenge for all of us. Choose to pause in His presence in the busiest times of your day. Pause . . . Breath . . . Recognize . . . Pray.

Thank Him louder than your loudest moments.

SONGS

“Keep Me in the Moment” by Jeremy Camp (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xb1bx3hYfzg)

“Hurry Up and Wait” by MercyMe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxbfyt8Rraw)

“Closer than you Know” by Hillsong United (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHBd-V167Mg)

Featured

RESTORE – One Word Writing Prompt

My mind is a messy, chaotic jumble of words.

They travel in circles waiting impatiently to find their way to the page.

The Holy Spirit nudges, the words pour forth

and the writing restores my soul,

giving me a moment to breathe again.

Featured

REMEMBER – One Word Writing Prompt

Remember the light which shined in the darkness.

Remember the hope found through servants’ hearts.

Remember who you were in the beginning,

and who He has helped you become in the during.

Remember who provided for you.

Remember where your help came from.

Remember the ones who have flown away,

and show love to all those who remain.

Featured

REACH – One Word Writing Prompt

I write with the goal to reach at least one person – to spread hope through the written word.

I write to reach others, so Christ can reach them … To listen to the Holy Spirit reach my writer’s soul … that is my goal.

Reach out to reach them through Christ, through writing.

Featured

Rewrite – A One Word Writing Prompt

I wouldn’t rewrite the current circumstances if I had the power to do so.

How many difficult things will we have walked through only to conquer them and grow in faith and strength?

To rewrite the world would make it too easy.

What would we need faith for?

We will grow from this.

We will learn from this.

We will know He walked with us through all of it.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Is 41:10

Featured

Singing a New Song

I sat upstairs spending my quiet time with God and His Word. The only sound I could hear was the wind blowing through the tree just outside the window. It whistled a tune of nature.

Then, I heard a new song. I heard a familiar voice, but one which I hadn’t heard sing in more than a few years.

She began to sing, recording vocals inside her room. Lyrics, rhythm and melody which had been left unheard and untouched inside her for so long were belted out passionately. Ear to the wall, I secretly soaked in the sound.

Years had gone by leaving her without a reason to sing.

Now, a new song had come from the depth of her very soul.

Its sound rang beautifully to this mother’s ears.

It was the music of healing, lyrics of perseverance, the melody of hope, and the notes of strength.

It was as if all of the prayers I have prayed for her over the years were being lifted up in a chorus and echoed back in love.

To me, it was hearing an angel sing.

Love and hope of our Father rang in my heart as I whispered above her song a reminder, one I had repeated countless times over the years:

He has a plan for her. Plans to prosper her and not to harm her. He plans to give her hope and a future.

She will never know the power and the impact of her singing behind the wall has had on me. She will never know how many prayers have been spoken over her, how many times this mother’s heart has broken in despair and ached for her.

But God knows.

And He has given her a reason to sing again.

This Mother’s Day I will never forget.

Featured

Becoming RESTored

There is a question I have been asking myself since Sunday: How do I find rest?  The honest, but sad to admit truth is, I do not have an answer. The reality is that I haven’t even thought about rest.  Why? Because I have been too busy, too preoccupied with work, family, chores, and yes, even writing, to have it cross my mind.  Until now.

After six days of creating the world, God rested. After creating space and place for us to rest, God rested. He took pause. Genesis 2:2-3 says:

 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” NIV

Rest. It is something we need to pursue and protect. A time where we can just be still with Him, soak in all of His creation, His provision. He knew when He presented this day, we would need rest in order to be restored. After all, you can’t spell “restore” without “rest”.

“Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.” Mark Buchanan, “The Holy Wild: Trusting in the Character of God”.

How can we hear Him if it’s nothing but noise around us? How can we become restored?

Let us remember to pause and be still. Soak in silence. Take time to just sit and listen. 

The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath.  (Mark 2:27)

It is a gift. Accept it. Guard it. Dwell in it. 

REFLECTION

  1. Is your soul finding rest?
  2. What are some ways you can protect your rest time?
  3. How can you change one habit or hobby you already have into spending time with Him?

SONGS

“Come to Me” by Kari Jobe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvzznNAcL24)

“How Great Thou Art” by Alan Jackson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcF75h4BHk8)

“Awake My Soul” by Chris Tomlin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBvL2lRTXjo)

Featured

Unexpected Steps

29 years ago I met the man I was going to marry. Of course, I didn’t know that then because I was pretty clueless when it came to matters of the heart.

Our first date was just hanging out at his house where we watched “The Exorcist”. It was the first time I had ever seen it. I thought he was fun and interesting and how great it was that I had a new friend.

Then, he learned my favorite song at the the time, “I Melt with You” by Modern English and sang it to me at my high school’s battle of the bands. Yet, I was still clueless.

A week later he took me to my prom, our second date. He would tell me later that when we were slow dancing and he held me in his arms, that was the moment he fell for me. I was still in the friend zone.

24 hours later that would change.

The day after prom he took me to a county fair. On top of a ferris wheel, he put his hand atop of mine, and a surge of electricity pulsated through my body. I thought to myself, “I think this is what love feels like”.

Two weeks later he stood by me at my high school graduation.

Four years later we were married.

It’s incredible to look back at a path paved for you. The unexpected stepping stones leading to a future blessed by His hand, is awe inspiring. Why should I be so surprised?

After all, it is written:

Within your heart you can make plans for your future,
but the Lord chooses the steps you take to get there.
” Proverbs 16:9

Featured

Grace at the Well

There are many stories in the Bible of showing grace to others and Jesus showing grace to His people. One of my favorites is the story of the “Woman at the Well” found in John 4.

Here is a Samaritan woman, a woman who is an outcast even in a place considered to be a polluted land. She arrives at Jacob’s Well to draw water and has the most incredible, life-changing encounter. She encountered Grace face to face.

Here is this man disobeying the law and talking to a woman in public. Not only is she a Samaritan woman, but He is a Jew.  We can hear her shock in the following verses:

7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)  John 4:7-9

Then, Grace answers.

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[b] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” John 4: 10-15

Jesus goes on to share His knowledge of her lifestyle. He knows she has been married five times. He knows she is currently living with a man who is not her husband. He knows all of these things, but He extends God’s love to her in spite of her.

He extends God’s love to us in spite of us.

That is grace. 

I heard it defined like this, “ Grace refreshes the soul which is caught in sin and suffering.”   That is what He did for the Samaritan woman. The law wasn’t important to Him. Extending grace to all was.

This grace which we see fully expressed in the forgiveness of sins and salvation, is meant to be shared.  Even the Samaritan woman, wrapped up in His loving grace, left her water jar behind to share the news.

REFLECTION

  1. When was the last time you recognized God’s grace?
  2. What area of your life do you need to extend grace to yourself?
  3. Think of someone in your life whom you would consider an outcast. How can you extend them grace?

LISTEN 

“Grace Wins”  by Matthew West (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3a1WKcB7umU)

“Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone”  by Chris Tomlin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-4NFvI5U9w)

“This is Amazing Grace” by Phil WIckham (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFRjr_x-yxU)

Featured

The Last Daily Reminder of Hope: Joy Comes In The Morning

For just over a week, I have been following the Spirit’s nudge to provide a daily reminder of hope. I had a few likes here and there, but nothing really made me feel as if the message reached someone. (My goal is always to reach at least one person with what I have written.) I was wrong, though. I did reach one person.

This time the one person was myself. It wasn’t as if I had been feeling hopeless, I just had less hope than usual. Every day I would deliver a message of hope and every day that seed was being watered without my knowledge.

I woke up and realized it was the end of the month. This was followed by a great quote by a friend who said “April was a terrible year”. I agree. It really was. However, all the while, hope was being written on my heart.

It’s more than getting out of this month, it feels like a new start. After all, Hope does spring eternal. (Thank you, Alexander Pope)

Joy will come in the morning. That is what the word promises in Psalm 30:5. I love how the Voice translation puts it:

“The deepest pains may linger through the night,
    but joy greets the soul with the smile of morning.”

I also love how Matt Maher says it in his song “Alive & Breathing”:

Joy still comes in the morning
Hope still walks with the hurting
If you’re still alive and breathing
Praise the Lord

So, welcome May with open arms. Welcome it in with new opportunities . . . more love to share . . . and more hope written on your heart.

Featured

Sealed and Unopened (Dedicated to my Dad this Father’s Day)

1383641_698830516811105_2145501296_n

Every year for Father’s Day, I set out to find the perfect Father’s Day card for my dad. For him and I, this card expressed our relationship. It never had Thomas Kinkaide artwork on it (though he really liked him) nor did it have something about him being the World’s Greatest Father. Anything sappy was out.

No, the more obnoxious this card was, the better. It usually had some funny character or Far-Side type comic on the front.  Then inside it always had too be either punny or sarcastically funny.

This was us.  To present him with anything different would not have been a testament to our relationship.

Five years ago, I sent him his Father’s Day card. It did not arrive in time for him to open it before he went into the hospital for surgery.

He never made it out of surgery.

The card laid on his kitchen counter, sealed and unopened. It remains sealed and unopened. I don’t remember what it says or what it looks like, but I do remember laughing out loud in the card aisle when I picked it out.

At first, I was sad he never got to open it, but since I have discovered a beauty in it being left sealed and unopened. It’s like a beautiful, loving mystery he and I share between the realms of Heaven and Earth.

There are so many things we leave sealed and unopened in our hearts and minds. However, we get to to share this incredible mystery between Heaven and Earth, between God and us.

God sees all. He knows all. Our secret selves are no match for him.

would not God discover this?
    For he knows the secrets of the heart.” Psalm 44:21 

Take heart. There is nothing truly left unopened and sealed. There is nothing really left unsaid.

Lord, you have examined me
    and know all about me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up.
    You know my thoughts before I think them.
You know where I go and where I lie down.
    You know everything I do.
Lord, even before I say a word,
    you already know it.
You are all around me—in front and in back—
    and have put your hand on me.
Your knowledge is amazing to me; 
    it is more than I can understand.

Psalm 139:1-6

A Poetic Reflection on Psalm 5:3

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”  Psalm 5:3

Breathing in the morning air,

I lay my requests before you.

Presenting them, lifting them up

To your awaiting ears – confidently, expectantly.

I will wait to hear your voice,

The soft whisper which speaks to my heart.

I am hopeful.

My head has been lifted from the pillow,

My words lifted from my mouth,

Rising up like incense, they fall gently on your altar.

My soul is at peace.

Note: Psalm 5:3 is a beautiful verse to read in the different translations of the Bible. The above piece was used combining language I found in various ones. The verse itself is truly poetic.

%d bloggers like this: