Oh what a view!

My pastor told me a story about a man he knew who had been a paratrooper in WWII. Before they dropped into France, the paratroopers were given the chance to pick whatever weapons they wanted, whatever they could carry from the warehouse. This man, Perry, picked one gun with a spare clip. Most of the other soldiers weighed themselves down with every last thing they could carry, determined to protect and defend themselves. Perry said he knew he could get more from the fallen soldiers if he needed it, so he just took what he needed right then to survive. When they dropped to the ground, the ones who had taken lots — as much as they could carry — broke their legs upon impact. Ever feel like that? Like you’re carrying way more than you can handle? Oh, wait, of course you do — because you’re human. I’m right there with you. I’m feeling the weight of many friends and acquaintances with life-threatening or life-altering health conditions—so many prayer needs. I feel the pressure to work more and make more money. The pressure I’m putting on myself to figure out my next writing project, to fulfill all my plans for updating my blog and creating monthly prayer calendars and keeping my own spiritual life in a good place. I am juggling deadlines and the desire to spend time with friends and the knowledge that I have a patient husband but he deserves to get intentional time with me. I’m wanting to spend time with my girls, who are both adults and moving into their adult lives, and with my son, who...

He Gives Rain… In.Due.Season.

“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them,  then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.” Leviticus 26:3-5 (ESV) – emphasis added The land was vast, and yet, seemingly desolate. A desert of sorts, the people knew that, unlike the Egyptians who had the fertile Nile to irrigate their crops, Israel was solely dependent on the rain season to be able to harvest bountiful crops. When I visited Israel many years ago, I remember listening to the tour guide describing the abundance of its harvest. I had never tasted fresher fruit and vegetables before. Indeed, this tiny piece of land yields some of the most beautiful crops on earth. I find it especially interesting that of all places on the planet, God would choose to place His chosen nation in a land that would completely depend on rain to produce successful harvests. But then again, The Holy God of Israel knew the heart of His people. Had he chosen Egypt as the Promised Land, the people would gladly depend on their own ability to channel the waters of the Nile into their crop beds. Rain would not have been a deal breaker every year, necessarily. However, the success of any given harvest season in Israel did not depend on...

Stop And Smell The Roses – Taking Time For A Year End Review Of Your Life

  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b ESV All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is coming to a close: the house is a mess, the decorations might still be up, and yet now is the perfect time to stop and smell the roses and make time for a year end review of your life.  As a matter of fact, apart from the major holidays this specific week (between Christmas and the New Year) is my favorite time of the year. Do you want to know why?  Every year I take this week to sit and review what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be improved and what I hope to do in the next year. It’s not a complicated process, but it is a strategic process that my husband and I do every year. We started doing this about ten years ago and it’s turned into the most thought provoking and productive week for both of us. Chances are you do something like this either mentally or on paper, so why not make a plan and see what you learn in the process. I’m going to share with you what I do, you take it, then tweak it to fit you and your family. Here’s what you need to get ready; paper/giant sticky notes/notepad colored markers/pens/highlighters calendar (last year and the coming year) music (this is very important for me) – I love to listen to “Epic Soundtracks” on Pandora so that I don’t get distracted by the words in the songs. I put those giant sticky notes...

Why It’s Important To Forgive, Even When…We Don’t Want To

I can almost hear the sighs of exasperation. You are probably thinking to yourself, “seriously, she’s going to talk to me today about forgiveness? She has no idea what I am going through, what’s been done, what’s been said or how far off track things have gotten lately.” You know what, you are absolutely right! I don’t know what you are going through or have been through. I don’t know how bad it is gotten in your world lately, nor do I need to because I can tell you this, it has been a doozy of a run in my world too. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I have stamped my foot (a lot here lately) and cried out to God that this just isn’t “fair”. This is just as hard for me to write as it is for you to read because I have been wrestling with God over this one and here’s what I’ve come up with. but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 ESV (underscoring mine) But. I never thought about it that way. But..if you do not, neither will your Father. But…I don’t want to. I still hurt from it. Oh my friend, you have no idea how much this pains me to write, but here it goes…we need to forgive much because we have been forgiven much. There, I said it. This is not to say that you agree with what has happened, but that you are cancelling that debt against you. When we hold on to that anger, resentment,...

Decision Time: Is God Still On the Throne?

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34 It had been a long time since I heard God speak in such a clear, unmistakable way. It took me by surprise. Of all things He could have used to give me His message, He chose a bird. A plain, small backyard sparrow delivered a message that I would never forget. It was 2002 and I was at home with a small baby and an unemployed husband. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 2001, my husband’s job was eliminated only three months after the birth of our firstborn. Our savings were draining fast and I was afraid. I knelt down by the window of our family room and cried out to God. For the first time since my husband lost his job, I was honest in my prayer: “I’m scared.” “How are we going to pay for the mortgage?” Was God aware of the price of diapers and baby formula? As I finished “informing” Almighty God of all that was going on in our lives and our imminent needs, I felt a strong need to be quiet and wait for Him to speak: “Please talk to me, Father! I need to hear your voice.”  As silence filled the room and several moments passed by, I was about to give up when I heard it: “Chirp!” I looked up and there was the sparrow, sitting on the lounge chair outside my window. It seemed to be looking straight at me. “Look at the birds of the...

Prayer for the weary parent

Lord, I am so tired. Yes, of course I love my children. I adore them. I’m grateful for them, for their own unique quirks and personalities, for the ways they make me laugh, for the joys they’ve brought into my life. I sometimes look at them in wonder—usually as they sleep—amazed by Your creation. Awed by their perfection. Humbled by the powerful emotions they bring out in me. Honored to be given the chance to be part of their life, to be in a position to influence and teach and guide. But at the same time, I’m weary. It’s hard to be a parent, to make decisions that aren’t easy and won’t make me popular. It’s difficult to enforce the rules, day after day, to monitor behavior and ask them to pick things up and remind them to do homework and to not take it personally every time they resist. To not be hurt by disrespect and disagreement and rebellion, whether large or small. It’s exhausting, constantly fighting to get my kids to see reason. It’s challenging to know that I can’t make all their choices for them. I can’t protect them from bad decisions, I can’t ensure they never face harsh consequences, and I can’t do everything for them. And really, I don’t want to. I offered them to You when they were born, and I trust You to lead them and take care of them. I want them to learn from their experiences and I believe they are strong enough, smart enough, and capable enough to succeed (in all the different kinds of ways we measure success). I don’t want to overstep my...

How To Get Your Heart Right This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and yet if I’m being honest there are days in this season of life when it is just plain hard to be thankful. Shocking, I know. I shouldn’t be saying that to you, I should put on my Patty perfect pastor’s wife hat and pretend to have it all together…but, I just can’t do that anymore. You and I both know that being real with each other is so much healthier than some pretend story of how someone else’s life is more put together than yours. Plus, it is a reality that many can relate to right now. I can count my blessings, I can try to be positive, but let’s face it–life is hard sometimes and it’s not enough to know that fact in your head, you’ve got to give it time to get your heart. So, what are you supposed to do when you should have a heart of thanksgiving but your heart and your head aren’t talking to each other? That’s a great question and I’ve found some incredible wisdom for us right here in this verse; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV Let’s dig right in because this is just too good to wait on…if we are anxious then chances are we aren’t going to have a heart of thanksgiving, will we? We’ll be, well…anxious. Worried, frazzled, distracted and trying...

For all of us who need to know that we can hide in Him

Recently, I had a Skype meeting about my writing with Jonathan Merritt. He’s a teacher at the Writer’s Bootcamp Conference I attended last spring. Jonathan nailed me from the beginning, saying my writing was too vague; I needed to “make every word tell” and make my point more clear. And so, in a few direct statements, he nonchalantly blew my cover, and the simple truth of it rattled me. Did he not know how dangerous it feels to say, much less write, my opinions and thoughts in a public space? Did he not understand that being vague and flowery and poetic is, in fact, my buffer and my shield? I prefer to dance gently around my point, throw some flower petals on it, daringly make eye contact with it for just a second, and maybe happen to gesture my arm towards it. This subconscious strategy has been my hiding place, and I had just been found. Game over. Since that meeting, I keep blinking at the floodlight that’s engulfed my little hideaway tendency. I recognize my default more clearly now – I love to hide, and although I may have thoughts and opinions, my fear of being wrong or being criticized sends me darting for cover routinely. And, really, this has little to do with writing. Truth is, that four-letter, f-word – Fear – has been identified once again in my living, not just my writing. He’s been a bad companion. Do you recognize him too? Are there similar shields and buffers that Fear has handed you with a smirk? He knows we don’t need them, but if we...

You Don’t Know Jack!

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; Luke 6:37 ESV Chances are you see just a peek into the window of the world that others live in and with such limited information it’s time for us to stop and admit that we really don’t know jack! Oh, I know I am going to be stepping on some toes today, my own included. It’s so easy to make a remark and a snap judgement about how someone handles the pieces and parts of their world that others see. You know, how they act with their spouse, kids, job, any or all of these (and many more) are out front for others to “see” and watch. What we don’t know is what’s really going on in that person’s world and why they might have acted or responded the way they did. Listen sweet friend, this is something that I’ve wrestled with for some time now. Here’s the deal, God will not let me let it go. But before I go much further I want to stop and make sure that you hear my heart, please oh please, hear my heart, because my words don’t always say the right thing. You and I have got to stop judging people and start giving out great big whopping dose of grace to those around us. Now, I’m not talking about any situation in which you are physically in danger. If that is happening then seek immediate help. I’m talking directly about the part of us that looks at another...

You Are Not Alone

Dear one, I see you there struggling to make ends meet. Trying to make things make sense and just clear your head from all the distractions pulling on you right this very minute. Your mind is racing and you begin to wonder how you even got to this place, but here’s one thing you need to know — you are not alone. I know it might feel like it at times. Believe me I know. That’s just not the truth though. Oh yeah, sure. the enemy is going to do his best to try to get you to give up hope. To feel lost. To isolate yourself. To just plain give up. But don’t because there’s a truth that you need to grab hold of — not just in your head, but also in your heart. Our Heavenly Father is madly, deeply in love with you and He wants to rescue you from the pain that has a grip on your heart. He wants you to know that…You are not alone. Yes, I know that it’s easy to believe the lies that you are alone. I also know that the stress, pressure and stuff weigh heavy on your heart. To the point that some days it is hard to even get out of bed. I get that, because I’ve been there too. I know what it’s like to; – feel like I’m the only one going through this difficult situation. – think that no one would love me or accept me if they knew me, I mean really knew me. – believe that people would abandon me if they...