Nighttime Beauty

There really is something about the beach. The grains of sand, salty sea air, the consistency of the waves, the expanse of the sea with the painted-sky sunsets – it’s as if I’m standing hand-in-hand with the One who created it all while He tells me His love story. Every detail there just waiting to be noticed, observed and appreciated. I am willing. Eyes wide open, my heart aching for Him to speak life into some hard seasons and make sense of them all. Even in the dark of the night, there’s beauty to behold. Millions of stars beam proudly against the night sky and the moon so bold and bright it draws you in, holding you captive as it reflects the perfect beauty of it’s Creator upon the water. This year out on the beach at night, the shore line randomly came to life in little electric green lights. Under the light we discover all this nighttime beauty coming from a little jellyfish, no bigger than a silver dollar. These jellyfish don’t appear to be anything special in the light of day. Only at night when the water washed over them did they display their glory. The moments the wave sweeps over them the electric green comes to life, disappearing as the wave rolls away. Incredible! There. He speaks to my heart about the beauty of hardship and seasons in the dark. Desperate prayers have pleaded for change, yet the call is to stay the course and walk in obedience remain. “Stay. Look at Me. Be still. Know. Shine.” C.H. Spurgeon wrote, “Many men owe the grandeur of...

Run To Be Shade

I love to run! I know, I’m one of those people. But, I really do love it. Not because it comes super easy, but because I’ve learned how. I started running when I joined my high school cross country team. In the beginning, I hated it. But, as I learned how and got stronger, I eventually began to love it. There’s absolutely nothing that compares to a runners high. So much about running translates into my walk with Jesus too. Anyone can run. And, anyone can run a hill. But, the ones who are steady on the uphills are the ones who pick up their feet, pump their arms and dig in on the way up. This is painful to admit, but my uphill season right now is choosing to love others. Real love. As in Jesus love. Not the fake, Sunday morning “look like we love each other” love. I’m talking about the kind of love that responds lovingly even when my son is throwing a massive fit. Or when someone doesn’t act or respond the way I want them to. Or my plans for life don’t play out the way I envisioned them. Or someone else’s poor choices start affecting my life. Meaning: acting and responding in love in the imperfect moments of life. Romans 12:9, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them” This verse stings. Because, if I’m really honest with myself, my struggle to love others is hindered by me. My needs, my wants, my rights. And this me-centeredness can’t reside in the life of a believer. So when life is hard and children throw...

Mortally Wounded Hearts

Recently, while running, I came upon an older gentleman with hat on that said “Army Vet.” I was immediately prompted to thank him for his service because I’ve lived through sending a brother off to war. I’ve wrestled with not knowing if he would return alive. I’ve heard his stories. The sacrifice is real. Immediately, he told me his name was Joe and explained he was an Army medic. It was a pretty surface conversation initially. Joe went on to tell me how he was shot while saving a fellow soldier on the battlefield. Right then, Holy Spirit prompted me, “ask Him about Jesus.” I don’t like that I’m always hesitant in sharing Jesus. I love Jesus and I want to share His life-giving power, but I find myself doubting my words so much that oftentimes I shy away from it. But, hesitantly I asked, “did you come to know Jesus during this time?” Naively, I thought I would share Jesus with Joe, but the truth is he already radiated Jesus from head to toe. For three miles we walked together and he shared Jesus story after Jesus story of God’s faithfulness in his life. Being shot at 18 years old, 13 major surgeries, twice having open heart surgery, battling cancer, having three girls(two adopted), losing his wife unexpectedly to cancer … the stories went on and on and on. Yet, of all the stories he told, one stuck with me. “One day,  I went out to save a soldier and I was also shot. Right here.” Lifting his shirt, Joe revealed a scar on the right side of...

The Call to Worship

In the small, traditional church where I grew up, they passed out bulletins every Sunday. The service order always began with the call to worship. It was almost always a piano solo, which caused everyone to quiet, find their seats, and prepare their hearts and mind to worship. Recently I read Psalm 89:15 (NLT) that says, “Happy are those who hear the call to worship, for they will walk in the light of Your presence, Lord.”  When I read this, I couldn’t help but stop and ask myself two things: Am I hearing the call to worship? And if so, what is my response? In life’s day-to-day circumstances, am I hearing the call to worship? Do I view the call to worship only as the times when everything falls into place? When the stars align, my children are perfectly behaved, I get that job I’m perfectly gifted for, when my husband is ‘perfect,’ loving and responsive? Or – could it be that the call to worship is there regardless of my circumstances?  Here’s the hard truth: worship really has nothing to do with me, or anything going on in my life, but everything to do with Jesus.  Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods. … Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in His dwelling place. … Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and...

The Great Pruning

The fog was dense in this season. Even as I write it, I can’t help but chuckle at the choice of the word “season.” It’s such a Christianease word, isn’t it? Sounds so polished and like an all too quickly quoted Romans 8:28. Unless of course you’re the one in the throes of said “season.” Then it’s real, it’s your passions, it’s your life and it matters. Some days it was like I could barely see. Knees bent, face down in my closet begging God to show up, crying for deliverance, in a sense beating my chest for justice. Reminding Him, in case He forgot, that He’s known for His acts of justice. “Remember God? You do remember that, right?” Knees to the carpet, just me and the clothes hanging nearby, open hands uttering blood soaked words from the depths of my soul. “God, I can go through any of this—I just have to see You in it with me!” That was the heart of the prayer. The earnest plea. Removed scales. Changed thinking. Vision. Sight. Presence. I had my “case.” Don’t we do that? We do our discovery, gather our admissible evidence, write the brief, and bundle it all up nicely in file folders neatly organized in a legal box and hand it over to the living God. “Ok God, inside you’ll find all you need. I went ahead and organized everything—to make it easier, of course. But basically, it’s all there. You just need to plead my case and rule in the favor of justice and deliverance—that’s me. Then, we can wrap this trial up and file it...

The Strong and Courageous Follow

My husband and I are raising two little people. Sometimes when we’re talking to our 6 year old, he’s quickly replying with “yes ma’am” or “yes sir”. No doubt there are times that his quick agreement comes at the cost of fully understanding what we’re asking of him. He’s 6, so I get it. But isn’t this just like many of us with Jesus? We’re like the man in Luke 9:57 that quickly says, “I will follow you wherever you go.” In our heart, we just want to follow Jesus. In Joshua 1:6-9 God tells Joshua, “Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers … Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it … so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I can just hear myself saying, “Yes sir. Strong and courageous, got it. Not sure you needed to say that three times, but whatever. Now let’s go lead these people to the Promised Land!” Then I get in the throes of a hard season, a painful circumstance or even a time where my role plays out backstage and I’m crying...

The Sparrow and the Swallow Life

Excitement was thick in the air as we bought his new school supplies, carefully packing them in the right shark backpack. The one with the whale shark on it – not the sharks that look like camouflage. It was all things kindergarten cute. Our blonde-haired, blue-eyed, first-born son was growing up faster than I liked. Some days I could still catch a glimpse of that chunky cheeked baby we prayed and tried so hard for. Three long years we waited for him. We had just moved a year before to a new city. Close to our previous home, but still completely new and it just felt far away. I didn’t know a thing about this school in our district everyone raved about. Some days the anxiety of sending him off to a new, unexplored, unfamiliar place stopped me in my tracks. I spent many nights and early mornings praying for his teacher. As the year began, God’s faithfulness to give us an amazing teacher was evident right away. She was truly a gift. This was His assignment on her life and she did it with excellence. She was so endearing and he really liked her. As we came to see, elementary schools aren’t immune to the craziness of this world. And great teachers aren’t exempt from students that see, hear and play witness to world of things they should never even know about. Those children inadvertently school other classmates on this thing called life at a pace no parent can predict or prepare for. This schooling of sorts caused anxiety to play out in my son’s life in ways that...

Engaging The Ugly

Have you ever sat and pondered what brings value to art? What actually makes it expensive? How is the term “masterpiece” bestowed up a piece of art? If at the end of the day, it’s just canvas and oils or watercolors or pencils, it can’t be the visible elements that make up the piece. Those are the same regardless. No doubt, a piece of art gains value because of the artist. Hang with me and hold onto this thought for a minute. My husband and I are approaching ten years of marriage this fall. While we are so happy to celebrate this milestone, all around us marriages are beginning to crumble. Affairs filled with the most shocking details seem to be pulling ahead as the social norm, while addictions to drugs, alcohol and pornography are trailing close behind. People are riddled with anxiety and suffocating with depression. Abuse of every kind. Children are making choices their parents never dreamed for them. No doubt some of you are reading this with your hand cupped over your mouth, aghast at the very thought of some of these things demanding, “who?? Certainly not anyone I know.” It’s ugly, but it’s true and it’s playing out up and down the rows of our churches. But what are we doing about this? And by “we,” I mean us – the Church – the people of Jesus? You? Me? What are we doing about this? What are we doing when the circumstances of others are ugly, simply uncomfortable or different from ours? How are we tangibly being the hands and feet of Jesus? I can’t help...

Riding The Struggle Bus

In an edited, cropped and perfectly filtered social media world, do you ever just feel the need for more real in your life? Like you’re desperately searching for a person whose make-up is … well … not on? Or their hair is clearly on day three since their last wash? Some days, I just need to know that the ride on the struggle bus is real for other people too, and not in a cute hashtag kind of way. Just real people, walking the path set out before them, day-to-day by the grace of God. Some days it’s just plain ugly and some days the views are simply breathtaking. Life is real. It’s full of exceptionally high highs, some devastatingly low lows and everything that falls in between. Walking with Jesus includes the hard journey of trusting God when I don’t see. Surrendering when I know His path is better than my dream. A God-given realization that I am made for more than this world has to offer. An order to set my sights on the things unseen. Believing I am loved by the one who sent His Son to die for me. Seeing my not-so-great moments and knowing He knew that slip in judgment would happen and His mercies are still new each day. Trusting God’s unchanging character when my feelings tell me otherwise. This is life. Life lived for Him. Because, after all, He said, “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” [John 16] In my life with Jesus, He has been on a diligent march to bring me from the ordinary...

Turning Point

My phone alerts declaring what is already a reality in my own life. “Dense fog advisory: little to no visibility.” Ever feel like that? So much of life is hanging in what feels like unending limbo, just out of reach and completely out of our control. Whether it’s a current situation or something that played out in the past, that’s life, right? Yet, we pretend it’s not and run hard after the elusiveness of control, planned and carefully calculated believing somehow this will bring peace, happiness or the healing we need. I’ve known this from a really young age. Innocence lost at just four years old through the abuse of someone I trusted. Shame, embarrassment, and mistrust plagued a large part of my childhood. Wounds festered. Years went by and this pain translated into a girl raised in church, yet not walking with Jesus. Fully able to recite the Children’s Shorter Catechism, yet overwhelmed with hurt, mistrust, bitterness, simply needing to be seen and my pain affirmed. Teen, college and single years looking for love in all the wrong places and wild living; yet, garnering success by the world’s standards of career achievements and appearance. By God’s divine appointment He planted amazing people that spoke life and healing to me, that took me to the feet of Jesus. I would marry the kindest man, allowing God to bring more healing in the most unlikely ways. Beauty and pain. Giving and taking. Years of infertility that broke me in ways I’d never known. Then, one baby boy blessing followed by another continued to bring life and joy, eyes to see and...