The Garden Prayer

For years, the account of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane puzzled me. I couldn’t get past the following train of thought: “If Jesus is God, then He knows what God knows. If God knew that the only way to redeem humanity was for Jesus to be crucified, then Jesus knew that. Then why on earth did He ask God to ‘let this cup pass from me’ if He knew that wasn’t an option?” I dissected the account of Jesus in the Garden more times than I can count. I looked for answers, prayed for answers, asked others for answers… and got a lot of nothing. I was trying to make sense of my second cancer diagnosis when I was drawn back to the account of Jesus in the Garden … and it finally clicked. In the Garden, Jesus showed us how to go to Our Father and ask Him to take the hard things from us. He asked for another way to deal with the sin of mankind while remaining completely submitted to God’s will. The account is there for me (and for you). Scripture says this: Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39 HCSB Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26:43 HCSB   In the Garden, Jesus shows us this beautiful truth… When life presses on you so hard that you can’t rest, your chest hurts, and you have a hard time breathing…...

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...

Winning is Helping Others

“What’s wrong with me?” “Why can’t I be like her?” “I’ll never be that gifted.” “If only I was like….” Comparison and jealousy are the problems: not my perceived lack of gifts. All good things come from God. When there is love, it flows from Him. Where there are gifts, they’re from Him. We don’t create our gifts. Our talents and abilities don’t originate with us. Yes, we nurture and practice them. We choose to grow them or hide them, but we did not create the seed. All of our gifts come from God. We are the caretakers. He is the Master. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 What can we take credit for? Nothing. What will we answer for? How well we invested what He gave us. Did we hide our gifts or use them? Multiply them or let them grow stagnant? Any boasting goes to Him. All glory goes to Him. The call is to see Him in the gifts of others, not competition. See His hand and glory. Jealousy is questioning God and how He chooses to show His glory. We’re all on the same team, running in the same direction. Winning is helping others. Winning is when God is glorified. Self-exaltation is defeat. Leaving others behind, shutting them out, resenting their gifts, not loving others, and putting self first are in opposition to God. “…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows...

Life!! It’s a ROLLERCOASTER!

Recently a friend told me that they were on the “bottom loop” of the roller coaster. Isn’t that just life. Up and down, twist and turns. Funny that sometimes the anticipation of the next loop or deep dip doesn’t feel quite the same when we’re “living” it. But what a gift we have! We can be reminded, by God, in His word, that this life, with all the unexpected loops, does NOT surprise Him…not one bit. EVER.  He’s working and moving in it all; even when we want OFF the ride. He is working, He is moving and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! He’s working and moving in it all; even when we want OFF the ride. He is working. He is moving and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! He is working. He is moving and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! He is moving. and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! THAT is something worth throwing your hands up...

New Phone Line

  Recently, we bought our first-born son a new phone for his birthday, so we gave his old phone to his younger brother. My husband took our middle child to the store to get a new phone line for his phone. He was so excited to have his very own number. The only problem was that the person who owned the phone line previously apparently had run up a lot of debt. The phone was getting calls by several collectors daily wanting information about the previous owner. I had to take each call for about two weeks and explain to every person that the phone line had been purchased by a new owner. The debt from the old owner no longer applied to my son’s number because the phone line had been bought with a price. “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6.20 So many times we as Christians drag around the debt of our old selves even though our sins have been completely paid for. Our old sinful self is dead, and we are now a new creation in Christ. Jesus died to pay for our sins from the past and every sin we commit each day. Yes, we are to learn from our mistakes, but we are not called to carry the weight of what’s been wiped clean. We make the mistake by allowing the old debt to apply to our new life. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Corinthians 5.17...

Cling Tight Dear One

When life seems to keep knocking you down and you start to wonder when will you see the sun again just remember to cling tight, dear one. This has been the four words that God keeps pressing on my heart these last few months. Oh how I wish that I could tell you that the Christian life was all sunshine and roses, but truth is that it’s not always easy. Yes, there are times when It’s full of sadness, disappointment, and hurt, but there are also times full of happiness, joy and love. Thank goodness for that, because can you image how hard it would be to even get out of bed each day if it was only the hard stuff? Here’s what I will tell you — I’ve grown more as a believer in the hard times than in the easy times. Sit there for a minute. It’s a hard truth, for sure, but it’s true. It’s when things are tough than we run (not even walk) to God. It’s not when things are going smoothly. So, what’s one supposed to do when you are buried deep in the middle of the hard times? Well, that’s where these four words come in handy…cling tight, dear one. These four words have been on my mind for months now. Every single time I cry out to God for help, relief or comfort I feel Him say to me, “cling tight, dear one”. Why those four words and why every single time I pray these days? I think I’m beginning to understand and it’s my hope that these four words will...

Why God’s Plan for Friendships is Way Cooler

As I comb out her beautiful white hair she reminds me to take her hearing aids out before I spray it. She has family coming in from out-of-town so she wants to look her best. She asks me to find her favorite pearl necklace out of her jewelry box and as I hang the pearls around her neck my mind goes back over the last eleven years of our friendship. We have joked for years asking, “What did God think an eighty-two year old Italian Catholic would have in common with a thirty-one year old hillbilly Bible thumper? I met Landi eleven years ago when I moved in next door to her. When we first met she’d pop over unannounced, tap on the door, walk in and call out my name. I remember the first time it happened I was making my bed and thought to myself: “Did she really just walk in?” I was a little ruffled by it, I mean in our generation we just don’t do that. We have our privacy walls and fences for a reason, amen? I remember one day in particular when she came by, she asked, “Would you like to come over for a glass of my husband’s homemade wine?” I politely declined being I’m not a drinker and she looked up at me inquisitively asking, “Why is it because you’re Baptist?” I chuckled and right away I was taken in by her eager desire to get to know someone and knew I was going to love her. From that day on we have been inseparable. She always tells everyone, “We just took to one other.”...

To Do or To Be, That is the Question

I like having a “To Do” list. Following the list instead of getting overwhelmed thinking about all there is to do is encouraging. I check things off as I go and see my progress. And a completed list feels good! But is a “To Do” list the most important? There are lots of tasks that demand my attention. Vacuum the house, do laundry, go to the bank, buy groceries, and the list can go on forever. What about my “To Be” list? Do I think about that? When I wake up in the morning, my to do list is already in my head. Do I wake up thinking about what I’m to be? If I made a “To Be” list for today, what would it look like? To Be: Be patient on the road, in the grocery aisle, waiting in line. Be loving to those who wait on me today, to those who crowd the aisles, to those who “interrupt” my tasks. Be kind and gentle with each person who crosses my path even when they irritate me or block my way. Be self-controlled not over indulging with food and drink, not giving in to temper fits, not being lazy. Be joyful walking in praise and thanksgiving to my Father who has given me this day of life. Be faithful to Him. Putting Him first. Listening to and following His Spirit. Be prayerful. Praying without ceasing. Don’t forget to put on compassion and humility! What if by following my “To Be” list, I can’t accomplish all that is on my “To Do” list? “Seek first the kingdom of God...

To Hear The Music

As silly as they seem, cartoons are a myriad of strangely relevant stories and plots consisting of heroes, rivals, and topics like revenge, anxiety, and even death. Even so, the way in which they are depicted is far from the life we know. One example is TV tropes, which are a figurative demonstration of a character being stunned or injured. For instance, when a character is hurt or taken by surprise, there’s a halo of circling birds above the character’s head. You might recall the sound of “cuckoo, cuckoo” when these little birds appear. Either way, I’ve felt like one of these characters as of late, with emotions, feelings, and perceptions circling and out of sorts. Graciously, in my time with Jesus, He is showing me how my response and posture in light of things I didn’t’ see comin’ are casting a shadow on my days. When I’m hit over the head with the unexpected, I am a self-confessed over-thinker. I assess the situation. I find out every single thing I can about it. I process. I want to feel better about it…get over it, and move on. Unwittingly, I cause myself a lot of undue stress and anxiousness, because I am not equipped to handle the weight of the heaviest blows of life. Yet, even when I turn to Jesus, I continue to feel the tremendous tension of what’s going on around me. Joy is lost. Faith is weakened. Fear is rampant. What I’m learning is that struggles are a digression from God’s purpose. What’s more is that the struggle itself is not as much of a threat...

Faith sometimes requires cardboard boxes

Years ago, my sister-in-law said something that never escaped me. As we stood together talking in her kitchen, she recalled a statement about her loyalty to my brother when they got married. She said that she loved her husband so much she would live in a cardboard box if she had to, just as long as she was with him. What struck me most about her candid statement was the honesty with which she said it. I believed her, to the extent that I immediately envisioned their cardboard house exactly as their current house: filled with love. That statement of dedication spurred in me the same question of my faith. How far would I follow God? To what cardboard box of life would I follow him? Lysa Terkeurst, in her popular book The Best Yes, describes four bellwethers of change in making a decision based on the best yes: emotionally, spiritually, physically, financially. Reflecting on my sister-in-law’s statement, I envisioned these four areas as cardboard boxes, or places where God may be asking me to follow him into a more challenging place of loyal faith. Most times of growth are uncomfortable. When God is calling me to follow him to places that will require my full trust in him, it may look like: Physically: A new city? An exercise program that is intentional and one I finally adhere to? A mission trip? To deal with a hurtful habit? Emotionally: Counseling or therapy for an ongoing struggle in my life? The courage to look in the mirror and face what has been tugging at my elbow for the last ten...