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Written Five Years Ago . . . for This Very Day

I wrote the following piece five years ago. How eerie it is and perfectly right for exactly how I am feeling again today:

There has been death and disease striking many people around me. I have been feeling like I am not doing enough to help them because all I have really been able to do is pray.

This morning I asked God to show me how I could help them. He led me to read Romans 12 and Romans 12:15 jumped right off the page at me: “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” It was a reminder to me that everyone has a spiritual gift that God uses at the appropriate time.

Service is not mine and I was reminded of that. However, I can pray confidently knowing that those who have this gift our serving those who need it right now. In the meantime, I will weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice and continue steadfastly in prayer.

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On the start of my 47th year

No, this isn’t how I expected to spend my 47th birthday, yet I wouldn’t trade the day for anything.

I have a renewed peace in the midst of this chaos. It is the peace which surpasses all understanding described in Philippians 4:7. This is the first time I ever remember experiencing it.

Since this COVID19 started, I have struggled with many things: fear, anxiety, depression, grief, guilt – all at various points. I have spent every day in a constant spiritual battle in my mind. Sword in hand, I have fought those thoughts of “what if”, “where will the money come from”, “what will happen if you get sick?” and the list goes on.

I have fought back with the promises of a God who loves me. Here I am today with peace. Why? Because instead of spending my energy fighting against those thoughts, I am choosing to “shift my gaze” (thank you, Pastor Pete Mueller for that phrase).

My gaze is not on the “what if’s” any more. My gaze, my focus, is on the fact that for another year I was blessed to be loved on the earth by friends and family, to be able to show my love to them as well. Plus, I was able to write, to read, to lead, to serve … and that list goes on.

Each day is filled with many gifts. Keep your eyes focused and your gaze on these hopeful things. They are there waiting to be discovered in each moment.

My prayer is that you will find the peace too.

He give us grace. He gives us mercy.

He gives us PEACE.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

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Sing to Him a New Song

Psalm 33 says, “Sing to Him a new song.” When I read this line, I asked myself, what song have I been singing? The answer was that it was not a happy, joyful, praise the Lord song. Honestly, the song has been one of questions, pleas, and confusion.

You know what I learned? Those songs are okay. It’s okay to sing at the top of your lungs to Him, whatever the lyrics may be. The trick is not be drown yourself in those lyrics.

Sing to Him a new song! Change the lyrics, dance to a new beat, feel the new rhythm in the very depth of your soul.

Let go and dwell in the hope found in Him and all He has done for us.

I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.

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Lean into HOPE: A piece on Acts 2:25-26

“I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced, my flesh also will dwell in hope.”

My heart is glad.

My soul rejoices.

I dwell in His presence ever with me.

Unshaken.

Continually I see Him before me – guiding me.

He lifts up my soul.

My heart is filled with HOPE.

My tongue sings His praises.

I rest in Him.

I rest in HOPE.

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Church Redefined

Growing up the church was a building with a steeple, stained glass windows, kneelers, pews and a place you only went to on Sunday morning.

I see now what a narrow definition that was. Church has been dramatically redefined especially right now.

Church is the devotion piece your friend emails you to help you during these uncertain times.

Church is your niece and nephews drawing and writing messages of love on the driveway outside your mom’s window.

Church is a coworker sending you a Bible verse with a specific prayer for you and your family.

Church is leaving the last roll of paper towels on the shelf because some one else might need it more.

Church is witnessing a twenty-something young man help load groceries into an elderly woman’s car.

Church is loving and serving your neighbors in new and creative ways.

Church is the prayer you speak.

Church is living like Jesus.

Be the church.

“for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:27

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Words Whispered

Mouth silent.

Tongue still.

Ears intentionally listening –

for just a sweet whisper

of Your voice.

To know Your will –

To let You lead me.

Job 4:12 “A word was secretly brought to me, my ears caught a whisper of it.”

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Lost Soul

Trapped under heavy thoughts and mindless ramblings, he is submerged.

He navigates unsuccessfully through the intricacies of the subconscious.

Every corner of his mind holds a clue to the mystery he cannot solve.

He is floating, a lost soul on the brainwaves, waiting to be rescued.

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A Place for You

Psalm 147:4; Psalm 119:35; Matthew 20:23

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14:1-4

In the morning, before I get in my car to head off to work, I like to take what I call a “Prayer Walk”.  I love doing this. It’s early enough that it seems that my whole street is still asleep. It feels like it’s just God and I on that walk.  

A few mornings ago, I headed out the front door to do this routine.  I hardly got out the front door when I looked up at the sky and saw so many stars. Every star seemed brighter than I had ever remember seeing.  I didn’t continue on my walk. I stood there, frozen, one step below my front porch. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the sky. My “Prayer Walk” quickly became a praise session with me standing there. 

God placed every star exactly where it needed to be.  He set the moon to hover above Earth each night and the sun to greet us in the morning.  Every one of these has a specific place- a home. The same is true for us. God directs our paths and sets us into places where we can do His will while we are here.  Then, when He is ready, He calls us home, to another place for us. Jesus has gone before us and prepared this very place for you and I.  

Lord, You set everything in its place for Your purpose. I pray that You will continue to guide me and direct my path until I am called home. Thank You for the place that Jesus has prepared for me. Until I get there, please help me lead others to that same place. Amen.

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ASHES

 “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.  How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:12-14#

Today will be a day when many Christians receive a cross of ashes upon their forehead.  This is done on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. What do ashes have to do with the season,though?

Ashes signify where we came from…dust. They signify God’s love, but also his punishment. They reflect our need for repentance from our uncleanliness and sin.  It is a reminder that we need to “cleanse our consciences…so that we may serve the living God.” They were a sign in biblical times of humility and repentance.  They serve as those same signs today.

We are broken people.  We carry with us unclean hearts at times and consciences full of shame, guilt and many other things that can weigh us down.  The only way we can be clean is by coming, broken and humble, before God and offering our complete selves to Him.

Let us humble ourselves before the Lord, confessing our sins in full repentance on this, the first day of Lent.

PRAYER

Lord, I humble myself before you on this, the first day of Lent. I pray that you cleanse me from any uncleanliness and sin that have been in my actions and words.  You and You alone can create in me a new heart and a new spirit. Amen.

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Tell Yourself a Different Story

The power of the mind is amazing. It can take a false reality or what we perceive to be reality and make it feel like the truth and actuality.

We need to learn to tell ourselves a different story.

I was having dinner with an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in quite a while. She had retired recently and was busier than ever with all the wonderful things she loved to do. I wanted to hear all about them, so I started the conversation by asking her how her last trip to wine country was.

I listened to this beautiful woman joyfully tell me about her travels, the books she was reading, the art she was creating and so on. She never stopped smiling. I was in awe of her.

See, this woman suffers from chronic pain, but you would never know it. She told me in regards to her condition that one day she realized that she had a choice. She could accept the story as it is or tell herself a different story.

She could choose to be defeated or choose to push through it and not let the devil steal her joy.

As we wrapped up dinner, she placed her hand on top of mine and said, “Thank You”. I asked her, “For what?” She responded, “For your first question not being how are you feeling? Because this pain does not define who I am.”

She taught me a few lessons over dinner that night, but the biggest one of all was:

Remember how God sees you and let that define who you are.

Whatever sickness, pain, guilt, shame you have or anything you have done in your past, don’t let that define you. Remember how God sees you.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1

Tell yourself a different story.

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The Girl Who Loved Mary Poppins

I sat by the window seat of the airplane waiting for the inevitable people who would be my close neighbors for the duration of the two hour flight.

An elderly lady and a young girl found themselves standing in front of me asking if they could sit there. I smiled and offered them a welcome. The young girl promptly took the middle seat between me and the elderly woman who I would find out was her grandmother.

I remember thinking how much the young girl reminded me of what I picture Anne of Gables to look like, at least in every way, but the clothes. She neatly placed her backpack under the seat in front of her, but not before removing a book . . . a very worn book. She set it on her lap delicately then turned to me and smiled.

I glance down at the book. “Mary Poppins,” I said. She beamed with a smile, her red hair and freckles beaming along side of the grin. Her grandmother leaned across and said with a not so subtle pride, “It’s her favorite book.”

“Is that so? I have actually never read it,” I responded.

An audible gasp came from the girl’s mouth. “You must read it. You have to read it. I don’t even know how many times I have read it already and I am only eight!”

Her passion sparked joy in my heart. What excitement she had over this book and it was clear that she wanted me to feel the same way.

“Okay,” I said, “but first tell me if you like the movies that were made from it, the original and the remake?”

“Oh, I liked them, but the book . . . the book . . . it’s perfect.”

I will never forget that sentence, describing a book as perfect. This young girl taught me in just a short conversation just what a “perfect” book is.

It is one that evokes such emotion that the reader can hardly contain themselves when they talk about it. They want the emotion to be shared by others and to continue feeling it themselves, so they will re-read it over and over again, always experiencing the same intensity.

I decided after that conversation that I wanted to write the perfect book. Just imagine, evoking such joy and passion in someone, that would be an incredible gift.

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I am Here

I am here.

These three simple words surprised me as they came out of my mouth.

I am here.

This is what I said to God when I intentionally went into a quiet space to spend time with Him and His Word.

I am here.

It was only me and my Bible. No distractions. No phone. No TV. Not even a clock.

I am here.

Fully present in His presence ready and willing to hear from Him and to speak with Him.

I am here.

How often have I wanted to hear those words from others?

Be there for someone today.

Be there.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

10 Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first. Romans 12:10

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The Gift of Prayer

Christmas has passed, but I still find myself pondering the unexpected Christmas gift I received. It came from the very act of giving.


Since I live so far away from my mom and siblings, I decided to try something different this year for Christmas. Instead of giving them tangible gifts, I decided to give them the gift of prayer. This was inspired by Paul’s words in Philippians 1:3, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”

I bought a Christmas ornament for each of them. I picked out ones which would remind me of them every time I saw them hanging on the tree.. For example, my mother’s ornament is a stained glass nativity scene because I think of her faith when I think of her. I have a book ornament for my sister since her first book will be released this year.  You get the idea.

Every night since I put up the tree, I have looked at each of these ornaments and thought about the person it represented. I then prayed specifically for them. I have done this every night since the ornaments first were hung on the branches. 

After a few days of praying, I noticed how much closer I felt to each of them despite the distance between us. Then, after a week of praying, I started feeling this deep connection to each of them. It was as if I was right there with them, holding their hands in mine or placing my hand on their shoulder and praying with them.

This was a beautiful, wonderful, unexpected gift. It all came from giving, from prayer. At a season when it can be sad to be far away from my family, these “gifts” brought me so much closer.

The gift of prayer. It’s a magnificent gift and it’s ours to freely give.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

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UNCHANGING

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – How richly God has decked thee;

Thou bidst us true and faithful be – And trust in God unchangingly

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Jesus was the promise of the new covenant – a promise from a true and faithful God. He came into this world to transform it.  Not only did He change history forever, but He continues to change each and every person who chooses to follow Him.Yet, despite of all the changing He does in the world and in us, He remains the same. All the promises of who He is are perfect and everlasting. However, His followers are made new. They will be given a new heart and a steadfast spirit while He works His will in each of their lives.

Our transformation is a continuous journey, full of repentance and thanksgiving. He makes us new as He remains unvarying, just as it says in Hebrews, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” He uses transformation, but uses it on us. His promises abide and He remains faithful to each of them. The changes that take place within us serve as a reminder that no matter where we are at, we can never be too far from His reach. Jesus will find us and continue to change us from the inside out.

God is true and faithful, Our trust in Him should be firm and unchanging. He has richly decorated our lives through Him.

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6

PRAYER

Lord, You are faithful and unchanging.  Your promises are ones we can hold to as You transform us, giving us new hearts and changing us into who You want and need us to be. Amen.

TRIUMPHAL PROCESSION

Triumphal is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “a ceremony attending the entering of Rome by a general who had won a decisive victory over a foreign enemy.”  It is a fitting title for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before the crucifixion.

Jesus enters to conquer more than the enemy on the cross. He enters to conquer sin and death; our sufferings, our weaknesses, our trials, and our temptations. We have victory over these things through Him and through the cross – because of Him and because of the cross. 

Let’s remember the words in 2 Corinthians:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, you sent your son to us because of your love for us. He went to the cross to save us from our sins and to have final victory over death.  We give you thanks that through Him we share in that same victory.

Check In On …

Check in on your elderly neighbors

Check in on single parents

Check in on your kids

Check in on your spouse

Check in on your friends

Check in on your family

Check in on the one you know lives alone

Check in on those who have battled addiction

Check in on those who battle mental illness

Check in on your coworkers

Check in on your pastor

Check in on everyone because we all need each other.

Check in on yourself. How are you doing?

Check in with God daily

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