Weekend Wrap•Up

In case you missed any of these encouraging and REAL devos this week; here they are, all in ONE place. Turning Point – Sarah Jefferson   Decision Time: Is God Still on the Throne? – Patricia Holbrook   Are You Training Your Child for Divorce? – Jennifer Slattery   Although the Doors Were Locked – Nannette Elkins   Bravely – Jami...

An Epiphany on Epiphany

This Christmas, I studied the Nativity and found myself in the characters: I was the peasant girl on the fringe, who wondered: Dare I enter? I was the breathless shepherd, brow beaded with sweat from running. I was the sheep, bleating in the presence of a newborn King. I was Mary, treasuring the moment, with birth pains forgotten. I was  Joseph, flabbergasted and tongue-tied that I’m Family with the Son of God. But mostly I found myself as one of the Magi, chasing a Star and showing up late to worship the King of Kings. Today, we celebrate Epiphany, a lesser-known Christian holiday that marks the kings’ visit to see the true King. In most Nativity scenes, the Magi are placed near the manger to see an infant Christ, but Scripture says they didn’t show up until much later. They followed a moving star to find Jesus, who was likely a toddler by they time they came knocking. By then, Jesus had likely taken first steps; fallen and skinned Holy knees; bumped his head, O Sacred Head; sprouted first teeth; spoken first words, dripping like honey from wee lips of Holy God! The Magi came with gifts to see God in a little boy’s body. Overcome, they fell to their knees in worship. And  on this Epiphany Day, I also fall before the Christ. I grew up knowing the stories, looking and hoping for a Messiah, and following a moving Star on the promise that this pilgrimage of the Word would not return void. Unlike the Magi, I strayed from the path and followed other stars. But the Way in the Manger beckoned me: Come. I showed up late, bringing Him gifts. I was tardy, yet received a...

Pow! Bam! Boom! Take THAT, Satan.

I’m a T-shirt and sweatpants kind of woman. If I had it my way, I’d wear pajama pants to church. My favorite outfit includes a gray T-shirt with the words “I’m the wretch the song refers to” screen-printed on the front. But this week, I’ve been reminded of another outfit that I too often forget to slip on: My armor. “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” – Ephesians 6:11 It’s been one of those weeks. To make matters worse, I left my breastplate, my belt of truth, my helmet and my sword of the Spirit in the bedroom closet. Perhaps my armor was buried under that knee-high pile of dirty laundry spilling out of the hamper. Or maybe I’d simply forgotten that I was only half-dressed for battle. I don’t know why, but I’m far too dismissive of the enemy. Maybe it’s because I have attended churches where we don’t talk about the enemy much. Maybe it’s because I’ve treated the enemy like a spooky character in a horror film – despite the fact that the Scriptures clearly identify him as a very hungry and very real adversary. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” — 1 Peter 5:8 This week, I was reminded once again that the enemy is real. It was a week filled with one blow after another. A ministry I love had come under attack. I missed an important writing deadline. I had two sleepless nights, headaches and a sour attitude toward some of my responsibilities. That’s when...

“P” is for Practice

My daughter sat in front of the piano keys for the first time last year, her feet barely brushing the floor as they swung back and forth. Her teacher pointed out black keys and white keys, and how different keys are assigned different letters. The teacher identified middle C and all the others along the string of 88 keys. But my distracted daughter peeked furtively at another letter: the giant letter P hanging from a hook in the corner. “What’s that?” my daughter asked, jabbing a finger at the two-foot tall laminated “P.” The teacher smiled and explained that the “P” stood for Practice. The huge “P” was a scarlet letter of sorts – only pink instead of bright red. Students who slacked off between lessons would have to take the letter home, the teacher said. And what child (or mother!) would want a giant pink P decorating the piano? For the whole year, my daughter practiced her lesson each week, avoiding the dreaded “P.” We returned to piano lessons again this year. The “P” still hangs on the wall as an effective deterrent. In all these years, the teacher said, she hasn’t sent it home with anyone. But the other day, I considered taking the giant “P” home with me and hanging it over my Bible. For I have gone through seasons when my spiritual life suffered from a lack of practice. Repeatedly, the Bible tells us to devote ourselves to spiritual disciplines: * reading God’s Word. * fellowshipping with God in continual conversation. * doing God’s work in the world by using the gifts He has given us. “Be diligent...

My Hearing Problem

My father needed hearing aids badly, but he fought it for years. He was afraid he’d look like an “old fart,” with chunks of plastic hanging on his ears, squealing with feedback. Time passed, and his world became more and more muffled. He’d respond in conversation with a repeated refrain: “What? What did you say?” He acquiesced a couple years ago and was fitted with a set of hearing aids that tuck discreetly behind the ear. We remind him what a dashingly handsome man he is — not the least bit “old-fartish.” And when I see the flesh-colored plastic behind my father’s ears, I remember that he’s not the only one with a hearing problem. I’m in desperate need of hearing aids, too — not for my physical ears, but for my spiritual ones. The world shouts at me with buzzing Blackberries, whirring washing machines and spiral-bound schedules that read like run-on sentences, page after scribbled page. “God where are you?” I cry out. “What did you say?” I think of the people who seem to hear God speak over the din of their day. They say things like: “God told me the other day…” or “God spoke to me this morning over breakfast …” They readily quote Scripture, have answers, and seem poised under pressure. And me? I stumble and fumble and can’t hear the voice of God. Maybe I’ve been too proud, at times, to wear my hearing aids. The National Institutes of Health report that only about one out of five people who would benefit from hearing aids actually use them. Perhaps they think their hearing isn’t so bad after all? Perhaps...

Are We There Yet?

Our family has made an art out of preparing for summer road-trips. In under an hour, we can pack suitcases, prepare snacks, gather blankets and pillows, find lost flip-flops, hook up the DVD player, map the route and visit the restroom one last time to maximize our time on the road.

Then, we’re off on our next family adventure!

Whew!

Taking People to the Feet of Jesus

A child doesn’t need sophisticated tools to or complicated gadgets to get to the Truth of the matter.

My daughter found what she needed very close at hand: scraps of yarn, slips of paper, some tape, a square of toilet paper and a Bible story from the Gospel of Luke. She closed the door of her room, and made me promise I wouldn’t peek until she was finished.

How to Stop Running

I ran as hard and as fast as I could. After each training session, I would stumble off the treadmill, not at all like that energetic Forrest Gump who trotted across the country. Rather, I was a jelly-limbed Gumby, panting like a thirsty mutt and quite possibly in need of an EMT – or at least a corner in which to curl up and whimper.

Building a House of Prayer

Our home is a House of Prayer.

We start our mornings in prayer, and we end our days the same way. We pray around the dinner table, over the telephone and in the prayer chair by the living-room windows. We pray for scraped knees and hurt feelings and soft rain to make the crops grow. And we bow our heads and lift our voices whenever we hear the medical helicopter fly overhead.

But our home wasn’t always a House of Prayer. It took time to build it, in the same way it takes time and effort to build any house.

Clanging Cymbal

Love thy neighbor, Jesus says. And I think that I do.

But in this racing world, have I slowed down enough to really love my neighbor?