Saturday, September 27, 2014

Around the Bend

We were really enjoying the view.  Sitting at the marina right on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  I sat on a bench while the group made its way into the water on their canoes.  And I watched as they began to paddle and soon disappeared from my view.  I was content with just sitting at the shore listening to the sounds of the water splashing the rocks and the birds flying about and soaking in the sunbeams and breeze that caressed my skin.  It was pretty awesome!

And as I sat there contemplating, I realized that although my view was wonderful, I had no idea what it was like for the rest of the group as they traveled on to the other side of the bend.  They were all gone.  I saw them turn into and around the bend, but I would never see or experience what other sights and sounds there might be because I was content with just sitting at the the dock waiting for their return.  And I contemplated further, as God brought to mind that this is, in fact, the way many of us who call ourselves followers and believers of Christ, live our lives.

We are mesmerized by the things that stand right in front of us.  We are taken aback by the here and now.  We get so excited about the things we see God doing on our behalf, that we cannot possibly fathom that He would do even more.  So we are easily content and fail to believe that God may have more in store.  In our short-sightedness, we become complacent and basically put God in a box, as if He was limited or too small to accomplish more with our lives.  We're okay with our current view.  We're fine with warming up a pew.  Dare we dream of more?  Dare we ask for more?  How futile is our way of thinking!  And how limited our mindset.

The God who created man out of dust and gave him life with just one breath, that same God is the God who loves us most of all.  Let's get over the reason why He loves us.  Set aside the fact that we are not worthy.  Let's get to the part when we accept His love for us and welcome His lavishing of mercy and grace upon us.  Maybe then we can begin to fathom that He has so much more for us than we know or imagine.  Maybe then we will be willing enough to trust Him with every aspect of our lives.  Maybe then we will anticipate more from God.  And we'd be willing to dream of more in Him and ask for more through Him.  Maybe then we'd get up from the bench or the pew and anticipate what awaits around the bend.  And in faith we will follow Him right into and around that bend.

1 Corinthians 2:9, But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Autumn used to be my most favorite of the seasons. I'd look forward to the change in color scheme and cooler temps.  I'd anticipate long walks that would cue me in to the wonder of the changes taking place.  The changes were so prominent, that even the trees changed their attire, as if there was something special to prepare for.  I loved it!  

And then things in life happened.  Broken relationships.  Rejection.  Betrayal.  Abandonment.  Loneliness.  Why'd they all came in Autumn?  Still I looked for the joy I once felt compelled by with the Autumn breeze, but it wasn't enough.  I cried myself to sleep, as the nights grew cooler and colder.  The whirlwind of broken emotions felt much stronger than any Autumn windy night could ever muster. 

There was nothing to prepare for, yet I braced myself for the uncertainty of tomorrow.  Winter would soon arrive.  And with it would come cold nights.  That I knew.  Although it'd be cold, nothing could be worse than the disappointment that came with Autumn.  

So I no longer look forward to the season.  Life will do that to us sometimes.  Like the little girl inside staring back at my now grown up friend, as she combs her fingers through her now thinning hair.  It's cancer, her new reality.  She's too young I think, and her children depend on her.  Why must it be this kind of Autumn for her too?  It's just not fair!
And the brother who feels too burdened to face the day, so he dives into fantasy world; Internet games and distractions.  It sure beats loneliness in Autumn.

Truly, seasons come and seasons go, and some dreams get shattered along the way.  And we too, change because we have to.  Our faith is tested, many times it waivers.  We are made weak by life's disillusions. We are made to feel humbled and vulnerable with every unexpected trial.  And they don't consider the times or seasons.  We are not alerted in advance.  It's all just part of life.    

But life is beautiful.... It really is.  There is a certain and deeper kind of beauty in the pain felt in Autumn or any time of year. I know it sounds strange.  In fact, it is rather peculiar.  But I am just beginning to grasp it.  You see, I used to hide from anything in life that seemed painful.  I used to think it was my job to avoid all forms of hardship.  So I'd make my daily list of  do's and don'ts and resolutions for the year, as if I could control what time would bring.  And up until recently, I hated to have to suffer.  If I'm honest, I'd say I still don't like it when someone I care for is hurting.  

But I've learned that just like there is beauty and meaning and purpose in those favorite Autumn days when all seems just right.  There is also something very special and important taking place when we accept the pain, and we walk through it with our heads high up.  We don't run from it, and although we don't like it, we take steps toward it and as if approaching a storm that we must endure.  We walk through it.  You see there is always a way through it.  

It may sound sort of cliche, but it's true.  I've learned to be okay with sorrow and pain and suffering.  I've learned that those too, are part of this beautiful life God has intended for us.  And I've learned that He uses those most trying times to reveal His true self and glory to us.  

It's been a year since she got the prognosis.  It was breast cancer.  And from afar I have witnessed my friend walking through it.  With her head above the water, I've seen her do it.  And now a year later, Autumn is again here.  I suspect she will welcome it with high hopes.  I probably would too.  Yet, while she might see it as a season of joy, I know of some one else who is facing her worst nightmare.  And so I pray.  

I pray for Autumn rains and Autumn winds.  I pray for lovely afternoons with sunlight on trees dressed in an array of colors.  I pray for cool nights that keep us close and morning dew that make us feel alive.  But mostly, I pray that my friend will walk through it this Autumn.  With the season's change and in His loving kindness and His merciful grace, may she brace herself for the beauty of pain.  

Ecclesiastes 3:1, "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"

Saturday, September 13, 2014

From Thoughts to Words: Mile Markers of Life

From Thoughts to Words: Mile Markers of Life: I met Deanna back in the year 2000 while I was living in Puerto Rico for a short period of time. While it was totally unexpected to me, i...

Mile Markers of Life

I met Deanna back in the year 2000 while I was living in Puerto Rico for a short period of time. While it was totally unexpected to me, it was definitely fate and a preconceived engagement in God's plan that we'd meet.  Also, unknown to me or her was the fact that we'd only be friends here on earth for just about two years.  What you gotta know is that I met Deanna about six months before she'd find out that she was terminally ill.  Scleroderma.... after months of testings, they had drawn their conclusion.
Most people I know have never heard of scleroderma.  So why was it that I knew exactly what it was?  Well, many years prior to meeting Deanna I had watched a very sad movie about a young woman who had it and died from it.  It was for me, one of those movies that I would not soon forget. And it would turn out to be a movie that God used to allow me the understanding for my friend during this most terminal time.   And so when she informed me of the illness, my spirit grew cold and my heart sank.  I knew she would die.  And she did.  Sooner than I thought.  Actually, within a period of about 9 months she went from being a vibrant 36 year old to what looked like the body of an elderly person barely able to move.  It still breaks my heart when I remember.
And still there is so much joy I claim  to be mine because of how endearing our short lived relationship was.  I believe God used me to be a "mile marker" for Deanna in her spiritual walk and when she needed it most.  You see, when we met, Deanna was a young Christian.  She had tons of questions and although we didn't see it at the time, God appointed me to provide her with not just answers, but a calming reassurance that she was on the right path.  She'd call me and ask to meet because she needed to know what God's perspective would be on mundane things like job opportunities and marital strife.  We'd laugh about questions like "is drinking champagne with your husband" a bad thing?  She was like a young child being overtly curious about the questions to life.

And God knew that.  He knew she'd need answers quick.  He knew what laid ahead for her.  And that she'd need direction.  That's what mile markers do.  They provide perspective on our journeys and road trips.  They are those numbers you see on the roads that read something like Mile 300.  They let us know how far we've come and how much we still need to travel.  They can bring discouragement when we realize we're not even close to where we need to be.  However, on our spiritual walk/run, mile markers can be very encouraging because they always point us to Him.  And we're encouraged by,  "Look how far you've come!" or "You're on the right path!" and "Keep moving, you're almost there!"

Ever notice that either you are drawn to some people or they are drawn to you for spiritual guidance?  I hope so. I know I witness it a lot. I have found others who look to me to know that they're going the right way.  And I know I've looked to others for that assurance that I'm doing the right thing.  Yes, as believers we are all on this same path, and it looks like some of us are at mile marker 300 while others are at mile marker 100.  Nevertheless, we look to each other for some sort of perspective.  Don't dismiss it!  It's not that we are to be comparing ourselves with someone else's spiritual maturity or status (per say).  It is instead, that we should count on one another to affirm that we are on the right path and that we can hold each other accountable to stay the course.  Better yet, to encourage one another that although we're not there yet, "Look how far you've come! and Keep moving, you're almost there!"

Deanna beat me there.  I started this path long before her, and though she looked to me for perspective, she beat me to the finish line.  And I'm still traveling.  Still walking.  Sometimes running.  But always moving.  And if I stop for a moment, let it be to serve as a mile marker.
You see, while on this path, we are not finished until we cross the finish line into our Father's presence and embrace.  There is always more road to travel, more room to grow, more faith to gain, more love to learn, and more grace to impart.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

To an Unknown God

How well do you know the God you worship and believe in?  Do you know Him enough to trust Him even when you can't understand Him?  Do you know Him enough to tell others about Him? Do you really know Him?  
Enough to know what pleases Him? 
Enough to know His will? 
Enough to approach Him?
And talk with Him?
Enough to love Him?  Enough to love others because of Him? 

Can you imagine going to church on Sunday and singing songs and praying with simply the hopes that somewhere there is a god listening?  And as we sing the songs, the words claim praise and honor "to an unknown God" because we don't really know for sure if there is one true God or who He may be...  And we go through the motions, wondering if maybe we made Him up to be what we thought He should be.  

We're uncertain about how to approach Him.  We aren't sure what will please Him.  But we bring some kind of worship with the hopes that someone will respond.  And we then go home and live our lives with hopes that there is a god somewhere who might care for us.

How sad would that be?  To live based on a hope or wish for a god that we don't really actually know.  But isn't that the way many live?  So many live with only the hopes that God is there and cares for them.  And yet, something seems to keep them at a distance from the reality of who God truly is.  Maybe it's just that they cannot fathom His excellency and majesty.   Maybe they were taught erroneously about His power and might.  Maybe they've never experienced a true and personal moment with God that would bring about a permanent distinction of who He is.  Perhaps they just don't know.  

You see, if we truly knew Him, we'd take heart and find peace in the midst of turmoil.  If we really knew Him, we'd let go of our idols and selfish motives for His plans and purposes.  If we really knew Him, we'd seek to do the things that please Him and honor Him.  If we really knew Him, we'd love Him.  We'd live abundantly and love Him and others abundantly.  We'd find ourselves in full acceptance of who we are because of His perfect plan for us.  And we'd love Him.  We'd want to be nearer and nearer to Him.  We'd long to dwell with Him, not caring so much about our earthly rights and possessions because in due time, we will be with Him.  And we'd love Him.

Knowing God ultimately leads to loving Him.  Because He first loved us.  Because He is love.  And we would love too, if we'd truly know Him.

23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. 24 "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.- Acts 17:23-24

Monday, June 9, 2014

Learning the Hard Way

I wrote this back in October of 2000.  Found it just the other day.  It's a reflection of my son's attitude toward starting a new school in a place that was foreign to him.  It took place during our move to Puerto Rico, where we lived for a year and a half.  
What's crazy is that my son is now going on his 3rd year of college and traveling this summer with a music band for which he plays.  I am amazed at how God has brought him through and through, teaching him the hard lessons of obedience.  But blessing him as a result of his humble attitude.  Thank you Lord!

"I don't want to go to school! I want to stay with you", my son cried.  This was the second week of school, and this was the routine every morning right in the middle of the school's main hallway.  The other parents and students were becoming accustomed to this "daily show".  

I surely wasn't.  I was fed up.  I had tried everything.  I pleaded with him.  I lectured him.  I yelled.  I spanked.  I negotiated.  I cried.  Yet, nothing seemed to work that morning.  The worst part was that I knew exactly how he felt.  He wasn't just being a 'brat'.  He was experiencing separation anxiety, as well as, culture shock.  

He was in Kindergarten, and he was the only other boy who only spoke English in a brand new school and an entirely new neighborhood.  I knew he felt alone, scared, and lost.  And although I wish I could have just given in and taken him home, I knew that he had to go to school.  Yet on that morning, I finally said to him, "Fine, you want to come home, let's go home.  But you must stay in your room all day.  No games, no toys, no movies, no cartoons, no computer, no nothing.  That's your punishment for not staying at school."  And to that he said, "Okay."  I couldn't believe his response, but with that,  we headed home.  

Just two hours later, my son was dressing himself for school, and he asked me to please take him back.  "I'm going to listen to you now.  I want to go to school cause I want to be able to play with my stuff when I come home."  So I took him back to school, and after that day he continued to go without any more resistance.

It's amazing how children sometimes prefer to learn obedience the hard way.  Come to think of it, the fact is that it isn't that amazing, and that it is actually a natural tendency to learn things the hard way.  Furthermore, if we look at it from a spiritual point of view, we might realize that we so often try to negotiate with God and we end up learning obedience the hard way as well.  You see just like me on those early Kindergarten mornings, God too pleads with us-- the Holy Spirit tugs at our hearts.  God lectures us-- the pastor's powerful sermon.  He yells at us sometimes--the wise counsel of a good friend.  At times He even spanks--the consequence of sin.  He negotiates--the Holy word is made clear.  And He even cries at times-- the Holy Spirit quiets down.  

It's true God sympathizes with how we feel.  He has felt that way before.  And yet, He knows how essential it is for us obey.  And although He lets us make our choice, He also makes clear to us what could happen if we don't obey.  The choice, however, remains ours.  (Isn't God amazing?!)   What's astounding is how many of us still time and time again will resist God and what He wants from us.  And we follow our own will, only to find that it isn't truly worth it.  (the consequences of sin are no fun)

That's when we find ourselves at times quickly (or not so quickly) turning back to God and saying, "Okay, you were right.  Please take me back.  I'll do as you say.  I want to be able to enjoy my "stuff". (His blessings)    I'm ready to obey."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Secret to Changing Your Spouse

I figured I'd get some one's attention with a title like this one.  So let me quickly put it out on the table, there is no secret.  However, there are some truths that can make all the difference.

After 23 years of marriage, I know that many of us have gone through numerous failed attempts at bringing about a change in our spouses.  We've talked and fought.  We've cried and fought more.  We've issued silent treatment, only to fight some more.  In fact, there's a lot of fighting in marriage.  And not all of it is bad. I feel like I spent more than half my years of marriage fighting to keep it together.  I guess that's been good, but it came with a price.  Doesn't everything?

As I read over a pretty familiar scripture reference the other day, for some reason I gained a new and improved message from it.  To be honest, I've never really been a fan of this scripture.  You know the one that talks about how we as wives must submit to our husbands. Ephesians 5:21-22, 25-27, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as you do to the Lord... Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."  

I always wondered if Paul considered the type of men we women deal with when he wrote it.  And I'd even justify thinking, "Paul wasn't even married."  I mean how can a woman submit to a foolish man?  What's the point of submitting to a man who doesn't really lead effectively?  And so on, I can come up with many legitimate reasons why women don't always have to submit.

Of course, the verse that follows helps me to feel a bit  "off the hook", since it's directed to the men and their responsibilities.  And it always seems much more significant than simply "submitting to your spouse".  I mean the verse calls on men to love us women as Christ loves His church.  That is really big!

And here's where I found the "secret"! In other words, "truth".  As I pondered on this scripture a little longer than usual, I realized that there is a crucial relevance found.  Worded plainly, if the husband wants to see a change in his wife; if he wants to have a more loving and Christ-like wife, he should love her just as Christ loved us.  The secret (truth) is found in loving.  Loving will bring about change.

Furthermore, when we exercise this kind of love, we ultimately are submitting to one another.  We are letting go of our own "agenda" and our own plan and will.  Which brings us back to the first verse.  "Submit to one another," and "wives submit to your husbands".  Submitting, surrendering, yielding, is possible through love.  It is love because when we love, as Christ did, we are indeed trading in our own desires for the sake of the one we love.  And not only are we surrendering our own desires for their sake, but we are considering their best interest as most important.  We deny ourselves for someone else.  That is love.  And when two people are willing to do their significant part, there is a positive change in the marriage.

Now, I know it's easier to simply look at these truths the way I used to.  Simply looking to see what it is your spouse should be doing. Minding and reminding him that he's not doing his part.  But that  isn't enough.  The secret is found in You.  Have you ever seen the movie, "Kung Fu Panda"?  I love the part when the wise tortoise tells him to look in the mirror to find the secret power.  And he finally realizes,  it was inside of him all along.  That is exactly how it is with how we should apply these truths.  It is in us to love one another.  It is in us to surrender our will for his/her sake.  It is in us to change our spouse by loving them as Christ loves us.  It isn't easy, but if God has done it for us, then it must be worth it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Darkness is Light to Him

"If I say, surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Psalm 139:11-12

When is it too dark for God?  When are we too far gone?  When is our sin too much for Him to bear?
We all know the answer to all of these questions will always be NEVER.  And yet, there are times in our lives that we feel as though we're in darkness.  Sometimes even after we've walked by His side or have faithfully followed His steps.  Even after having publicly claimed Him as our only savior and the light of our life, sometimes we find ourselves surrounded by the walls of a pitfall and we cannot see the light from above.
That doesn't mean that the light is not there.  Thankfully.

And is it possible that due to lack of light, we don't even realize we are in darkness?  It's no wonder so many us of live aimlessly through life, seemingly as though without a care.  Yet, in reality it's because of the lack of light that we have no idea where we are going.  And it isn't until we get a glimpse of light, that we begin to see the darkness we're actually in.  And most of the time, we want nothing more of it.  We run to the light.  For there is life in light!

What a beautiful visual for us to grasp the character of God!  To learn that light is a source of energy that allows us to see things for what they truly are.  I was studying the topic briefly with my 3rd grader the other day.  And if I got it right, I learned that light basically consists of  wavelengths of light, and every wavelength is a particular color. And so when we look at an object, the color we see is the result of the wavelengths that are reflected back to our eyes.  What a beautiful mystery!  Just like God's character.  He is that source that provides us with the opportunity to see things in life in the "colors" that reflect back at us.  Sometimes we see all of the colors of the rainbow. Sometimes the colors are so vivid and alive.  And we feel so full of life.  And then there's darkness.  What's there to see then?

But His word says that darkness is as light to Him.  There are no barriers, no limitations, no boundaries for God and His light source.  Therefore, even when we believe to be in darkness, He brings light.  He dwells in light.  And light always draws out the dark.  Always.  Therefore, whether you're in the dark pit today or slowly fading into a fog that leads to darkness, know that He whom gave His life for you remains always faithful.    And there is no pit dark enough to keep Him from you.  Call out to Him.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

God's Constant Character

Joshua 6:2-3 And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days.

So here's what I really like about this passage.  It gives us a glimpse of God's constant character.  You see He starts out by assuring Joshua that He's got everything under control and has already won the victory over the enemies.  It also shows how God is Alpha and Omega.  He has no time boundaries.  He tells Joshua that He's already done the work, as in past tense.  And yet, the work hasn't even begun for Joshua.  I love it!  Makes me think of Him as "Jehovah Nissi", the Lord our Banner, who goes ahead of us and paves the way for us to see which way to go.  

And once He's assured Joshua that everything is under control, He proceeds to give him the instructions.  Now we all should know that God could have handed the city over to Joshua without having Joshua do anything at all. Why didn't He?  We know He had the power, as He had proven previously time and time again with the Israelites.   So why didn't He?  Was it just more fun to watch Joshua do the work?  No.  But it sure must be nice for God to see His people committed so deeply that they would do whatever He asks them to do.  And so Joshua followed the instructions and finally won over the city of Jericho as promised.  

Here's the thing that I find most intriguing and relatable to how God still deals with us now.  He doesn't just grant us things from afar like would a genie or wizard.  He instead brings us into the equation and walks us through the process showing us how He is involved every step of the way as we are faithful to obey and He is faithful to deliver.  He grants us the opportunity to show our faith in Him.  To obey Him.  And to recognize that He is there all along to sustain us and see us through whatever the circumstance.  Be it as big as knocking down Jericho's walls, or as small as showing patience toward our loved ones.  

Yet, the most special thing I find, although it doesn't come across in obvious terms, is that in making us part of the equation, God is actually relating with us.  He wants a relationship with us.  He doesn't want to be a god that sits on a throne and dictates or gives us gifts but doesn't really know us on a personal level.  He wants to have a relationship with us in which we will know Him and He will know us.  One in which we will walk together.  One in which we can depend on each other to do our part.  One in which there is trust and mutual love for each other.  God wants to relate with us.  He doesn't have to, but He wants to.  And He wants us to know everything about Him.  Not just His might and power, but His faithfulness and love.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

With Christ as Lord

What do you think will be said of you when you die?  How will you be remembered?  Have you any clue?  I seldom spend time thinking about this,  but the times when I do, I truly wonder...

I mean words can be flighty, and people's feelings may waver.  But the memory of someone or something can last forever in our minds.  And so when I think of the deaths of Jezebel and Jeroham, I am taken back by, not only their gruesomeness, but by the sad and empty legacy they left.

Do you know the stories?  For one Jezebel is known as one of the bad girls of the Bible, if not the worst. Here are the words of King Jehu spoken about her, "How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?” 2Kings 9:22.  Jezebel did not carry a good reputation, and she did not care to.  So when she knew that the king was coming to her town, she would unsuccessfully attempt to reel him in with her outward appearance.  The Bible says that, "When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window." 2Kings 9:30b.  
Big mistake to try and come up against a man who was charged with the power of God, and he could see right through her.  So he ordered that she be thrown down from her window, and she was.  The Bible goes on to say, "Throw her down!” Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.... But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. They went back and told Jehu, who said, “This is the word of the Lord that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh. Jezebel’s body will be like dung on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’” 2Kings 9:33, 35-37.

How sad to die a death that only dogs cared about.  No one came to claim her body, nobody really cared.  She had earned a reputation that would leave her with little to no friends.  What was worst was that she worshiped other gods and influenced others to do the same.  And that is the legacy of Jezebel; one noteworthy of evil.  

Then there is the story of Jeroham.  
 "Jehoram received a letter from Elijah the prophet, which said:
This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: ‘You have not followed the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or of Asa king of Judah. But you have followed the ways of the kings of Israel, and you have led Judah and the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves, just as the house of Ahab did. You have also murdered your own brothers, members of your own family, men who were better than you.  So now the Lord is about to strike your people, your sons, your wives and everything that is yours, with a heavy blow. You yourself will be very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels, until the disease causes your bowels to come out.’”...After all this, the Lord afflicted Jehoram with an incurable disease of the bowels.  In the course of time, at the end of the second year, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great pain. His people made no funeral fire in his honor, as they had for his predecessors.  Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings." 2 Chronicles 21: 12-15, 18-20

Needless to say, Jehoram was also a villain and he did not live to tell about it.  There were no cool movies made of his life, and most people do not even recognize the name.  If anyone should remember him, it would most likely because of his gruesome death.  

What stuck out to me most, however, were the words "He passed away, to no one's regret".  How sad.  No one would miss him.  No one would care.  No hero stories to share.  No legacy to remember.  

So back to the original question.  What do you think will be said of you when you die?  We're all probably feeling a bit "off the hook", when we compare ourselves to Jezebel and Jeroham.  There's no way that our deaths will be as bad as theirs.  Right? However, do you know that unless you are a follower of Christ, your death will be pointless?  And although it may not be a gruesome one, what comes after a life without Christ is more gruesome that we can imagine.  Life without Christ, is pointless; and death leaves no true legacy unless Christ is our savior.  

This is a tough pill to swallow if you're not walking with the Lord.  But if you're not walking with Him, there is always today to begin that walk.  To change the legacy you're making to one that brings Him glory.  To create a legacy if there isn't one yet.  To make both life and death a beautiful experience.  With Christ as Lord, living and dying have a beautiful purpose. And with Christ as Lord, there will always be much to say about you.  All good, of course :) 

Friday, May 16, 2014

If Only she'd Take Courage

There's a young bride whose dreams have shattered.  The "I do" she whispered not long ago has become much more than what she counted.   On that day she felt happy, but today is a different story.  And all that brought her joy on her wedding day has disappeared.  It seems the well spoken words, hopeful wishes, and heartfelt moments have gone away as well.  Everything has changed.  It seems everything has disappeared, as she stands alone in the middle of the empty rooms surrounded by the scent of the fresh painted walls of what, not too long ago, she considered "our home".

And she waits by the door.  Dinner is ready, but who for?   And she sits by the window, longing for him once more.  And she lies awake at night, wondering if the pain he's caused her will also disappear... like she's disappearing.

And she's almost gone; for sure the person she once was is fleeting.  Not even seeing that there's still more to live for.  Because she's hurting.  Feeling like the little girl whose feelings were crushed when forgotten or excluded.  Only this time, it's so much bigger.

So she hugs her little one, holding back tears every time.  She smiles a broken smile and walks past the broken glass.  Everything seems broken to her.

If only she had the faith... to believe that things can get better.  If only she mustered the courage to anticipate something greater.  If she would just take one more step.  If she would say just one word and believe that God is able to turn it all into good and for the better.
She would find that peace embraces her.  She would learn that love is deeper.  She would see that God is present and will never leave her.  

But if only, she'd take courage.

(Luke 8:40-47)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Go Your Way Till the End

Daniel 12:13, "As for you, go your way till the end.  You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance."

Ever hear of the Hare and Tortoise story?  My daughter was writing a story review on it the other day.  And she concluded that everyone can learn a lesson from that short story.  One of the lessons being that perseverance pays off.  I think we can all agree that when we persevere through something, we achieve our goals.

However, sometimes it seems that maintaining perseverance is easier than at other times.  Sometimes it just feels easy.  It seems easy to be faithful and to be committed.  It seems easy to trust and not give up.  Sometimes....

Then there are those dreadful times when we are hanging on by a thread.  In fact, there are times in our lives when all we see fit to do is give up.  The pressure is on and the afflictions of life seem relentless.  This week alone, I have learned about the deaths of 3 different people.  None closely related to me but, nevertheless, regarded dear and loved by many others.  Two of them being sudden and unexpected deaths.  
I can only imagine the turbulence and suffering that those closely related are feeling right now.  

Losing a loved one is possibly the most difficult thing to bear for us human beings.  Whether it be to death or simply to life, loss is painful.  So what is she to do when her husband decides he's no longer committed?  And what is he to do when the doctors say there's not much time left? What is one to do when your child decides to betray you and the entire family? What is there to do when you run out of creative ideas to make the hospital room a little more cheerful?  What do we do when life is too hard?  Better yet, how can one be expected to "persevere" when there is no more strength left inside, when we've given it all we got?  And how dare we be the ones to tell someone in pain, "You simply need to persevere."?

And still... God calls us to persevere.  You see God sees no limits, as we are set to our earthly boundaries, because His power is without limitations.  Therefore, when He calls us to persevere He is not counting so much on our own strength but on His own.  He knows that we can persevere through anything if only we are set on Him.  There's a lesson to be learned here.  You see God can sympathize. He gave His son up to endure the same kind of pain that we are stricken by.  And He didn't do this just to experiment on His Son, but to be that much closer to us, to our humanness and pain.  Isaiah 53 reminds us, "He was a man of suffering, and familiar with pain" (vs. 3b).  

So truly familiar with pain that He had to endure a very physically painful death.  Surely not the type of death due to the very son of God.  And not only did He bear the physical torment but He carried the weight of this world.  Just think for a moment of all the terrible things that take place on this earth.  All of the painful things you've witnessed and possibly endured.  For a moment grasp the thought of  all the abandoned orphan children throughout the world, the innocent being abused and stripped from their God-given freedoms, the ones still being sold into slavery, the voices of all the unborn children crying out, the sorrowful groans of mothers whose children are brutally murdered, the many and many faces of ill-stricken hospital bodies, the mentally tormented, and on and on. Our world is a heavy place.  

That weight was placed on our Lord Jesus.  Hence, it wasn't just the weight of the cross He carried.  It was the weight of our fallen world that caused Him to regress and pray, "Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done." Luke 22:4
And God's response was in essence,  "persevere", "finish it", "go your way till the end"... "it will be worth it."   To which Jesus ultimately responded with "'It is finished.' With that He bowed His head and gave up His spirit." John 19:30  And God proved faithful when on the third day of His death, Jesus rose from the dead.  You see, God had the complete picture and the end in His hands.  He allowed for His son to suffer in our place knowing that He had the power to bring Him back to life.  

So how does all of this tie in to our day today and the suffering or hardships we may be dealing with today?  Well, let's see... if the son of God endured the suffering and death that was truly ours to bear.  If He took our pain and suffering over 2000 years ago, He doesn't want us to carry it today.  He wants us to know that no matter what kind of hardship it is that we are faced with, He is greater; and He not only knows the complete picture but has the end in store.  And although we are limited, and on our own it makes more sense to give up, His strength is greater.  It is great enough to get us through. For it is not our strength but His that can free us from the burdens, heal us from the torment, and mend and restore what is broken.  Therefore, we should "go our way till the end".  Persevere till the end. Not because we are stronger than any but because He is.  Let us trust that truth today.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I was reminded the other day during a discussion about the well-known grumbling and wandering Israelites, that our grumbling translates to mere rebellion.

I don't think I've ever really thought about it that way, but it makes great sense now.  I couldn't help but think about my grumbling kids, often complaining about not getting their way.  So it makes sense to me now that they are not just complaining because the circumstances are making them feel uncomfortable at the time, but because they are displaying their own rebellious nature that does not want to conform to the guidelines set up for them.  Sound familiar?  Too familiar, if you ask me.  I am that grumbling child.  I too have the tendency to rebel.  

What's interesting is that we look for ways to justify our grumbling.  We rationalize the complaining by explaining that we "just don't feel good about it" or are somewhat uncomfortable with it, and I cannot do this or that Lord because "I'm just not 'feeling it'".  And so I make my way out of obedience and slouch right into my comfortable estate which is found in my rebellion.  It'll hurt God! I say, You don't want me to hurt, do you?  Or it will cost me too much... too much of my little time, and too much of my hard earned money, and too much of my self-disciplined patience. And I know you don't want me to run out of patience!  It's clear then, that what you're asking of me is just too much.  And so we have these types of dialogues with God, the one who governs over all.  And we expect that God will obviously understand, if He's at all reasonable or logical.  If being the key word.  

You see, the one who created our human estate by simply blowing a breath and mixing it with dust, the one who calmed the roaring seas and brought people back to life; in essence, the one who has defied all forces of nature to make them succumb to Himself, making all things seem somewhat illogical and/or unreasonable, He is the same God who is longing for our commitment.  Free of the grumbling.  He longs for us to desire to know Him more and more and want to obey Him just because we love Him, and not out of mere duty. That we'd draw closer to Him in search of His perfect will for our lives, wanting to please Him with the breath of life He granted us.  That we'd obey Him because we trust Him enough and know that He knows what is truly best for us.  So much so that we'd no longer grumble.  We'd no longer complain.  

Although He can empathize with our refrain, He wants us to turn from our rebellion and accept fully whatever He'd want for and from us. That we would just step toward Him, even when it doesn't feel good, even when we can't understand things.  We'd trust Him enough to obey Him and we wouldn't hold anything back from Him. This is the perfect estate as a human being in relation to God our maker.  

And yet, we find a way to see it fit for us to grumble.  What is it about us that makes us prone to it?  Where is the root of our rebellion?  Whether or not we find its origin, it doesn't change the character of God.  We might be undeserving, but He pours out mercy.  We may not always be trusting, but He provides.  We may hold back and dig our feet deep to keep from following His lead, but He continues to shine His light on our walk.  He is not pleased with our rebellion; but nevertheless, He remains committed to His will and plan for our lives.  

So whenever you feel like you have every right to complain about the mundane you face today or about where God is clearly leading you, realize that you are on the brink of rebellion toward the God who granted you this day.  Turn it around! Turn it around with praise to a Father God who has not only hand-picked the kind of sunrise and sunset you will have, but has loved you enough to let you experience it.  Turn it around with submission to the One who gave it all for you.  

The Root of Our Rebellion

Tell me Lord, what is the root of our rebellion?
Tell me now, that I may go deep and uproot it
For it serves no good purpose
And it proves to be deceiving

Its force is like weeds tormenting the beautiful terrain
And though the surface is fine, deep down it's causing pain

It appears to show loyalty
Defending our cause
Protecting our rights
But only to mislead us when we think we are doing right

We want to obey you
We want to show we care
Still there's something between us
Somethin's not clear

So tell me Lord, where can I find it?
That I may use all forces to bind it
For its burn has left its mark
And it will be long before we're mended

What must I do?  Where must I go?
May my response be so....

I hear you Lord
And I'm willing now
I feel you nearer
To your call I vow
I feel freer Lord
I'm on higher ground
The root has been shaken
I'm no longer bound

Friday, April 4, 2014

Unworthy Entitlement

At times our kids feel so entitled.  At least that's how they conduct themselves.  It's as if we owe them something.  Like "hey, you brought me into this world, now make it worthwhile for me!"
So they make their demands and whine when we don't meet their expectations.  They can even grow resentful and become disrespectful if we don't grant their wishes.
Boy!  Had I known all that parenting entails, I don't know that I would have volunteered for it.
It's definitely a humbling experience.  It's sacrificial at its best.  It's self-denying.  It's giving without measure.  It's hurtful at times, although it can be rewarding.

Nevertheless, I'd declare that although there are a few rare cases when a parent purposefully hurts his/her child, most parents adore their children.  It's like we were wired to love them.  We are honored to care for them as infants.  We welcome the challenge of guiding them throughout their primary years, and we determine to be there for them during their tough adolescent and teen years.  We find comfort in being able to counsel them.  We proudly stand by them in their accomplishments, and we still stand by them in their shortcomings.  We love them!

We see their imperfections and we still love them.  We know they can be "selfish brats", and we can't help but to love them.  They reject us, and we wait for them.  They hate us, and we anticipate their next embrace.  And we look beyond their self-absorbed demeanour because we see their true potential.  Have you ever witnessed it?  If not with your own child, with someone else's?  A very bratty mouthy kid and a mother who only sings his praises.  It' kind of funny.  And it's not that she is crazy and cannot seem to accept reality.  It's simply that she loves him and sees what he can be, even if he's not there yet.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not talking about parents who see the wrong their children are capable of and then look the other way.  I'm talking about parents who see the sin in our children and choose to love them in spite of it.  That doesn't mean we "okay" it.  And at times, we have to show "tough love", we have to discipline them, and "hold on for dear life" with a firm "NO."  We love them but we don't always say yes.

Well, I can't help but think about the loving dad of the "Prodigal Son".    What an experience that must have been for that father!  To see his son walk away with his "rights" (aka. Entitlements) and not even look back.  This dad watched his son walk away without a glimmer of assurance that he'd return some day.  I find it interesting that this loving dad did not run after the son or try to persuade him to stay.  He simply let him go.  And that's what we do sometimes with our children.  We let them go.  It's another form of loving them.

But I would dare to say that this dad never took his eye off the road.  The same road his son walked off on would be the one to lead him back home.  And this father most likely never gave up the hope that his son may learn his lesson and return home.  And I"m sure that neither the distance nor the lapse of time, decreased the amount of love he had for his son.  I'm certain that although he was probably hurt, he never stopped loving his prodigal son.  Therefore, on the day that this child came home again, his dad simply opened up his arms of love to embrace him once again.  He didn't interrogate him.  He didn't turn away.  He accepted him and loved him, just as he had done all along.

I can't help but think about our relationship with our Father God.  Yes, we are the children of God, and we too have to admit we too suffer from this "entitlement" syndrome.  If we are honest, we too have been bratty and mouthy and relentless at dishonoring our Dad in heaven.  We make our demands and we whine when our wishes are not met.  We walk away at times; rather, we stomp away at times feeling entitled.  We go to the extent of walking away for an unmeasured lapse of time, hoping He never finds us in our own little "pig sty".  So many times, we play the part of the undeserving prodigal son; feeling entitled, and yet so unworthy.

And how does God respond?  What does He see?  He responds in  and with Love.  He is ready to forgive and show grace.  He shows mercy and grants us peace.  So why does He do this, if we are so undeserving?  It's not like he doesn't see the sin in us.  He's not oblivious to our nonsense.  He's not looking the other way.  He sees right through us.  He knows us, our good and our bad.  He sees beyond our imperfections, and He chooses to see our potential.  Better yet, He sees His one and only Son's sacrifice for us.  That is His ultimate motivation to love us.  It's not because we are behaving or because we are in any way deserving.  He loves us because His Son died for us.  He loves us because He sees His Son's blood covering up our ugly estate.  He loves us because He is wired to do so, and we are His!

*Luke 15:11-32

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pleased and Relieved

I looked up a synonym for the word 'thankful' and found out that it actually means to be pleased and relieved.

Pleased and relieved...

I remember precisely feeling that way when I gave birth to my first child.  What a relief!  He was healthy and big and beautiful.  And he was mine!

My second pregnancy was pretty turbulent, on the other hand.  Early on in my pregnancy, I found out that I also had a hernia, which explained the constant pressure and pain I was having.  The turn of events, lead to being bed-ridden, a lot of eating, wobbling at just four months pregnant, and basically a very long nine months.  Oh but I will never forget how relieved I felt when I first laid eyes on my little boy.  My words exactly, "He's beautiful."  And he was.  Tiny but beautiful.

 I won't even get started on my 3rd and last pregnancy.  That's the one that brought me my little princess.  Although the ultrasounds had confirmed that it would be a girl, I remained in denial.  And even when they handed her to me, I was in disbelief.  She was too beautiful to be mine. And I was beyond pleased!

And to think that I had rendered myself to having  just the one.  There was no way that I would go through another pregnancy with such an unstable marriage.  Originally, I dreamed of having three children.  But soon after having my first, came one of the biggest blows to my marriage; and there was no way I could see a very clear future for neither my child,  nor anyone of us for that matter.  It took everything in me, but I reconciled with the fact that I would have to raise my son alone and find happiness elsewhere.

Now nearly 18 years later, I am celebrating life alongside my husband and three kids.  It's a wonder!  A whirlwind of life... love on a pedestal, pain, betrayal, brokenness, shattered dreams, healing process, believing again, more hurt, denials, despair; another baby on the way, joy, rebuilding dreams, tears fall down, helpless estate, all hope is gone; the story is not finished, there is a calm after the storm, vows are renewed, promises are kept, another baby on the way, and there is joy, and there is life, and there is forgiveness, and hope, and more joy and more life....

And for all of this I am thankful.  Pleased and relieved.
Note that I said for all of it I'm thankful.  Without one you can't have the other.  You cannot truly appreciate joy unless you've experienced sorrow.  And you cannot comprehend hope unless you've been soberly hopeless.  Therefore, I'm thankful.  One may think of me as crazy for seemingly praising the hurts and pitfalls of life.  But one can only truly comprehend it when one knows Christ.    You see, my life is far from perfect and I'm not particularly special.  Yet, I know one thing that has made the real difference and that has been my knowledge of a God who can empower someone when they are holding on by a string.  He breathes life into a cold heart.  He heals open wounds.  He calms anxiety.  He whispers softly words of peace when our hearts are in turmoil.  He gently leads us away from hopelessness and into hope.  His presence will shatter the silence of negativity.  His love gathers us up from the cold floor and wet ground.
Hence, I only speak from experience.  And this has been mine.  And for this, I am thankful.  I'm pleased and relieved.

I hope to encourage you if you can relate.  I'm sorry if you were somehow mislead by false promises of only happy days.  Life is beautiful. But beauty can be found in the storms.  I encourage you to breathe in and exhale whispers or shouts of praise.  For there is one who loves you with immense fashion, and He is worthy of words of thankfulness.  When life's promises are broken, He remains faithful to His.  He not only loves you from afar but chooses to be near you.  And that for this also, I'm pleased and relieved.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


There's giving in forgiveness.  You give away a special gift to someone whether it is merited or not.  And usually, it's not merited.  For who is faultless?  No one is.  If we're honest, we would all agree that each one of us has failed or wronged at some point.  Some of us are guiltier than others... Is guiltier a word?  If it is, I will be the first to admit that I am just that!  I've wronged people I care about.  I've even wronged myself.  And worst of all, I've wrong God.  

There was a distant time in my life when I hurt so many people.  I didn't think I would ever get passed it.  I hurt inside and longed for forgiveness.  The only thing that got me through was knowing deep inside that God offered me grace and mercy.

Undoubtedly, we all hope for the hope of forgiveness at one point or another.  And there is definitely hope found in forgiveness.  I know there are many times as a mother, that I'm called to forgive.  My daughter often comes to me in distress and confession about something and says, "Please don't get mad at me.  I'm sorry".  She longs for that forgiveness.  We all do.

That is why Christ did what He did.  Forgiving us, that we would have hope.  And that we would also be willing to give that hope away to others through forgiveness.

I pray that I may not be one to hold back from giving it away.

Ephesians 4:32  "Be kind and compassionate toward one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

Monday, January 27, 2014

Walking on Water

Sometimes it seems I've lost my way to what I know is right for me.
And I'm consumed by what I feel versus what I know is true.  I get so overwhelmed that I find myself depleted in such a way that I can't see past what's right in front of me.  I lose my faith.  And I lose sight of the bigger picture. It's like I can't keep my head above water, much less be daring enough to walk on it.   Ever feel that way?

I will never forget one of the greatest lessons I learned a while back, and I learned it at none other than Lamaze class.  This was 20 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.  The instructor was providing tips on how to bear the pain of labor.  I was determined I would go all the way without meds.  No epidural for me!  The point being taught was to find a focal point in the room and fix your eyes on that, as you endure the pain.  It was supposed to take your mind off of the pain and centralize your thoughts on something else. Well, I tried it, and it worked!  With some heavy breathing as well, of course...  
I still use that technique.  Whenever I need to truly concentrate on something or bear with pain, I look for a focal point.

Well, the other day I was reminded of it, as I listened to the pastor's sermon.  He used different terminology, but it came down to the same thing.  Finding my focal point.  "Keeping my eyes on the ball", for those sports agents out there.  "Fixing our eyes on Him", for those Bible scholars.  Proverbs 4:25, "Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you."  And who would it be that is right in front of us, but the one leading us?  Kind of reminds me of the story of Peter and Jesus walking on water.  As long as Jesus was his focal point, Peter was fearless.

As I pondered on this message for my life, I felt the spirit calling out to me from what felt like deep within.  I could almost hear my name being called... "Lucy, come back to your focal point.  Fix your eyes on Him.  And walk.  Placing one foot in front of the other, without losing sight of Him."  It was like life was being breathed into me again.  The spirit within wanting to take me a step further in my walk with Him.  But not leaving me alone to figure it out or to walk as I wish.  Instead, reminding me of the source that would keep me well.  That which would keep me above water.  My focal point.  The one who holds the bigger picture in His hands and can see what my entire walk and destination looks like.  Hence, that's why He is the one leading.

You ever lose your way?  Ever lose sight of the one leading?  And with every trying step, you're finding it harder to stay above water?  Look up, find your focal point, and fix your eyes on Him.  When you do, begin to walk.  Placing one step in front of the other, with your sight still set on Him.  You will find yourself walking on water. 

By the way, I didn't get the epidural, although I begged for it at the end. :)