Old to New

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 My mattress had seen better days. Better decades, actually. We’d invested in it a year after the hubby and I got married, and it was wonderful then. King Coil with a pillow top. Ever so comfortable. But that was then. This is now. Marc and I are hardly newlyweds – in fact, we’ll be celebrating 18 years of wedded bliss in just a few months. Which makes our mattress. . .old enough to be in high school. And drive. And like most teenagers, it started giving us trouble. It poked and prodded its pointy coils at us – sometimes even drawing blood. It had lumps and sags, holes in the pillow top, and all sorts of other inconsistencies that made it hard to cope with. Neither of us had been sleeping very well for a while. It had become a real pain in the neck (not to mention lower and upper back, legs, and shoulders). Finally, we decided the cost of sleep loss and pain was high enough to warrant some monetary investment. So, we spent an afternoon testing new mattresses (one of the coziest afternoons of my life. Just sayin’.), until we found one that fit our taste and budget. And a few days later, our pokey, lumpy teenager was replaced with ten inches of form-fitting memory foam – as soft and cozy as a baby’s skin. Our sleepless nights, aches, and pains were gone (or at least greatly diminished!). Kind of like salvation. Before Christ...

Honoring Daddy: How To Make Him Feel Special EVERY Day

Popular culture is trying to convince us to downplay the roles of fathering in the lives of children. How often do you see fathers portrayed in a positive light on television, in movies, or any other kind of media? Fathers are often shown as dumb, crude, uninvolved, and/or absent in the lives of their children. And this plays out in the day-by-day as well.

So, what can you do to make your father, and/or the father of your children, feel special, cherished, and loved, not just on Father’s Day but every day?

What You Take With You

When I have to get away from somewhere in a hurry, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what to take along with me. Generally I’ll just grab what is most important and high-tail out of there. My “gotta take it list” would likely include my purse, my car keys, my phone, my brand-spanking-new Kindle Fire, and depending on how long I expected to be gone, my laptop. (FYI, my husband and kids go without saying, if it’s that kind of getting away.) What you leave with in a hurry tells a lot about what you value. So, that’s why what I read in the thirty-first chapter of Genesis got me thinking. Picture the scene: Jacob has, with God’s leading, decided to finally leave his father-in-law Laban’s home and head back to his father Isaac in Caanan. Laban has not been the most gracious of hosts, and Jacob, Rachel, Leah, and the kids feel safest leaving on the sly. Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. Genesis 31:17-19 NIV It appears that Jacob had taken with them everything they could possibly need to start their lives again, away from Laban’s home. But, somehow, Rachel didn’t think so. She needed to sneak back into her childhood home and take a little “souvenir” from her old life, the life she was...

Service (and Anger) at Christmas

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:31 NIV It’s amazing what things can make me bitter and angry. You’d think, with all the “big” struggles my family has had over the past several years, I would have learned “not to sweat the small stuff.” But I haven’t. I don’t (for the most part, anyway) get angry with the Lord about my husband’s health issues, or grow bitter about the financial, emotional, and spiritual struggles that may loom over us. But inconvenience me in some minor way–alter my little schedule without my blessing–and frustration and bitterness often take over. A few years ago – on Christmas, of all days, I let this happen to me – and I learned much. We had been at my in-laws a hundred miles from home for Christmas eve, and spent the night. And I had our Christmas Day planned out beautifully. Have lunch with the in-laws by noon. Be home by early afternoon. Enjoy an unrushed, leisurely Christmas with my hubby and two kids, opening and playing with gifts and praising the Lord for the greatest gift of all: His Son. But it didn’t turn out that way. You see,  we didn’t have our lunch by noon. Why is unimportant – but just know that I decided it was the result of someone else’s selfishness. And I got grumpy. And bitter. On CHRISTMAS. What was REALLY happening? I was the selfish one, demanding that everything go MY way (and, by the way, not even sharing with the person who was supposedly being...

In God

For in Him [God] we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28 NIV In God. What  a thought. I have enough trouble grasping God within me – but me within God? Wow. We live in God. He is our abiding place. If we are His followers, everything we do  in life occurs within the bubble of His everlasting care. He is our home – our refuge. And we are never outside of the loving abode of His presence. We move in God. As we progress through life, from one activity, task, and/or life experience to the next, we are surrounded by our Savior. He is our “outer covering,” if you will, as we travel from strength to strength; from trial to trial; from joy to joy. We have our being in God. Everything about us that makes us human – our strengths, our weaknesses, our nature, our desires, our hopes, our dreams – is in Him. We think that the Lord messed up – that that one physical flaw or weakness that drives us crazy is out of His control. But it isn’t. He is sovereign over ALL of it. Our being – everything about us – is under His control. And there is nowhere I can feel more secure than in my Heavenly...

I’m Not One to Brag…

“But let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.  Jeremiah 9:24 NIV I’m going to be honest here. I love getting credit for hard work I’ve done. It makes me smile when I get a “thank you” for something I’ve accomplished and, I’m ashamed to say, I sometimes get grumpy when my efforts go unnoticed. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a braggart, but I certainly don’t complain when others give me kudos. And maybe that’s natural. Who really wants to be ignored when they have a great accomplishment? But, of course, I don’t really do anything, do I? It is only through Christ that I can accomplish good things. My talents, gifts, accomplishments, and efforts are all from my Heavenly Father – for I cannot do any of them without Him. So when I look for credit, I am asking for kudos for something someone else did – for the work of the Lord in me. So boasting is ridiculous, unless we are boasting about Him who allows us to accomplish these things. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 NIV And He is certainly someone to boast about, is He not? Just look at the qualities mentioned in the verse from Jeremiah. He exercises kindness, justice and righteousness. This world is His, and every good...

Why Am I Like This?

 …She said, “If all is well, why am I like this?…” Genesis 25:22 (NKJV) God has it all under control. You know that, right? Nothing happens without being sifted through His fingers. He may not like all that happens, but He allows it. It is all for His glory. All of it. In God’s view all is – or at least will be – well. And we have no reason to worry or fret. But still we do. Or at least I do. I can’t count the number of times I have sat in the midst of my life and fretted. Asked  why. Worried about the future. Wondered what in the %&#@ (pardon my French) God was doing. Rebecca, wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob and Esau, did it too. I was reading through Genesis  25 just a few days ago, and I noticed my own heart’s cry on several occasions there on the page – from the mouth of one of the matriarchs. Let me set the scene. Rebecca had been married to Isaac for twenty years, and they were childless. Isaac pleaded to God for her, and she conceived. I’m certain she was thrilled with this. But everything wasn’t ideal during this pregnancy. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?”… Genesis 25:22 Lord, if you gave me this writing gift, why am I so frustrated? If my husband’s health issues are in Your perfect plan, why is it so stressful and hard on all of us? If You trusted me to raise my children,...

Unauthorized Fire and No-No Lists

God doesn’t always give every particular we might desire to know in the Bible. I hope I’m not the only one who finds herself wondering about the missing (in my view, anyway) details from various Bible narratives. Where did Cain’s wife come from? Why didn’t Jacob notice he was marrying the wrong woman? What was so special about Enoch? Why didn’t Balaam act surprised when a donkey talked to him? Lately, the question that has gotten me thinking is found in Leviticus. What, exactly was wrong with Nadab and Abihu’s sacrifice? What did they do that warranted God’s punishment of them? Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Leviticus 10:1-2 Aaron and his sons had just been given a fairly long list of rules and regulations, if you will, for presenting an offering to God. They knew what to do. But, apparently, Nadab and Abihu didn’t do it. Did they neglect to purify themselves? Did they eat some of God’s portion of the offering? Did they use the wrong incense? What aspect of the sacrifice was violated so severely that it warranted both of them being burned to death by their Heavenly Father? We don’t know, And lately I wonder if the reason we don’t know is because it doesn’t matter. God requires sinlessness—perfection—for us to be acceptable in His sight. In Biblical times, this need was even more pronounced...

All Tangled Up

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 NIV As as child, one of my favorite toys was my Slinky. Like a lot of kids, I just loved to set it at the top of our stairs and watch it “slink” its way down. Even more fun, though, (for me, anyway!) was trying to make “stairs” with my own hands. I would spend many contented minutes (or perhaps hours) playing with this “wonderful toy.” I decided several years ago to provide my kiddos with the same fun, partly for nostalgia’s stake, and partly because it is a relatively inexpensive and neat (i.e. only one piece!) plaything. So, I presented one to my eager young daughter and son, being sure to teach them the two ways I had enjoyed playing with it. They took to it quite quickly. I forgot something, however. Actually, it was more than one thing that I forgot. I didn’t remember the frustration that could be caused by, well, misusing this classic toy. And, the cardinal error: I forgot to show my curious, inquisitive children how not to play with it. I neglected to mention that wrapping themselves up in it was not a wise use for a Slinky. Not surprisingly, as a result, this wonderful toy became…well…not so wonderful. It no longer walks down stairs (alone or in pairs). It is no longer fun. And no matter how hard I try (perhaps the picture above gives you an indication of just how much effort I did put into it), I just can’t get it to look...

Not Loud Enough – or Not Listening Enough?

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV It was a Sunday morning. We needed to be at church in 20 minutes. And where was I? At the grocery store, trying to get home. I had been there for an hour – not because my list was long (all I needed was a gallon of milk), or because the store was crowded (there was scarcely anyone there) – no, my problem was that I hadn’t the slightest idea how I would get home. When I’d walked into Meijer that morning, I’d been on a mission. I walked in, made a beeline for the refrigerated section, grabbed the milk, power-walked to the self-checkout, bought it and a fountain drink, and headed straight for the drink dispenser. Once the cup was filled, I reached into my purse for my phone and keys. And came up empty. I checked my purse again. And again. Nothing. I...