Sunday, August 30, 2009

Born To Do This!

There is something about learning to ride a bike that is so beautiful! I watched my youngest daughter mount her bike and with great confidence, take to it like a butterfly to the sky. Within minutes, she was circling round and round the circle at the end of our street. The wind was blowing the wisps of hair out from under her helmet and her smile spread from chin strap to chin strap. Then, as she was peddling away from me, little head held high, hands gripping the handle bars, I heard her sing out loud, with great joy …

“I wasss boorrrnnnn tooo dooo thisss!”

There is the little child in each of us, I am certain, that yearns to find the thing that we are born to do. I am not talking about the thousand things we do each day, which are important and necessary, but realizing what our God given passion is. What makes our heart sing, and ultimately, what makes our heart sing for God?

It is about discovering what God has called us uniquely to do for Him. It is understanding how and believing that He has gifted us. It is seeking Him for how He desires us to use those gifts.
Ultimately that which we find true joy in is what God has called us to do, whether little or big, and it becomes an act of worship in our lives. If He calls us to serve, and we are doing it with His prompting and in His power, it brings us joy. If we are called to teach, and do it unto the Lord, it brings us joy. If we are called to encourage, and do it with a motivation to strengthen others in the truth, then it brings us joy. If we are called to intercede in prayer for others, it brings us great joy. And on and on.

When we discover what we are born to do we are able to enjoy God in it, glorify Him and find our joy, as well. What about you, dear reader? God has given each of us gifts to use for His sake, to encourage and help others. What are yours? I think it is hard to know, sometimes, maybe even most times. There are so many distractions pulling at us, calling us away from what God wants us to do. Ask God. He will show you. He is faithful to do so.

My prayer is that you will know and with confidence proclaim, “I was born to do this!” and that in it you would find the beauty of who you are and be filled with the joy of Jesus.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Tkty. Clunk. Tkty. Clunk. Tkty.Clunk. Tkty. The children and I listened to the rapid, deep, monotonous tone of the train wheels along the train track, watching it speed along side of our car, as we headed to school this morning.

“Mom? Do bad, troubled people write all that stuff on the cars of the train?” my ten year old son asked. We talked about graffiti for a bit and how graffiti is usually not good. It is commonly associated with people vandalizing, destroying or not respecting other people’s property.

Since then, visions of graffiti have clicked through my mind all day. I think we all have graffiti in our lives. Like the train cars, our hearts have been spray painted with messages by people who are troubled themselves. We travel through life past different scenery - over mountains of hope, in to valleys of despair, across the plains of apathy, over bridges of desire and through forests of confusion. We carry on through different seasons, in all sorts of weather, wearing this graffiti. Our hearts have been vandalized by words that we have heard, going with us wherever we go, and these words have stuck.

We are damaged with messages like, you are not a priority. You are not valued. You are stupid. You are too slow. You are not smart enough. You are ugly. Your feet are too big. Your nose is crooked. Your family is poor. Your hair is funny. You don’t have anything to offer. You are a looser. You are not gifted. You are not worth my time. You are different. You are not special. You are not worth loving.

The truth is, however, that the valuable cargo that the train carries is not at all determined by what is said by the graffiti on the outside of the car. And so it is with us, dear reader. We have these messages – these lies – put upon us either by the words or actions of others that are not true and they do not define who we are. They do not reflect who we are. They are ugly marks of graffiti.

Who we are inside is what matters. Sometimes we forget and believe the lies that others have placed upon us, but God does not forget. God knows who we are. He made us. He loves us, with an everlasting, never-stopping, always seeking, never-abandoning love. We are a priority to God. He has a plan for our lives and lovely things for us. He wants us to believe what He says about us, not what others say. We are valuable to Him. We are His treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6).

Take time today and ask the Lord to help you face the graffiti that is written on your heart and ask Him to show you who you really are. God knows the precious cargo that you are, He created you, and He desires to write new words of truth on your heart. There are those who may vandalize and disrespect you, but God wants to revitalize you. Listen to Him, dearest reader, and believe in His tender love for you.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

... And Set Free

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free” (Psalm 118:1,5).

Yesterday morning I woke up and witnessed the miraculous emergence of the Monarch butterfly from the chrysalis that my daughter and I had “rescued” the previous day. We now celebrated its full life as it unfolded its wings, stretched and eventually flew free. It may have been just one butterfly that we saved to beautify the world, but it was a powerful reminder to me of God’s rescuing power and His desire to set us free, because of His great love for us.

At times, in our anguish we cry out to the Lord, and He reaches down and takes hold of us, and sets us free – free from our sin, from our anger, from discouragement, from fears, from selfishness, from frustrations, from captivity and more.

As the butterfly flew away, I was reminded of the many times when I have called out to the Lord, in need of His power in my own life. Dear reader, if you are struggling, call out to Him and He will answer you. He will set you free to bring the beauty of His love to the world around you, a hurting world that needs to know the love of Jesus, in a way that only you can share. Soar and bring glory to Him, by sharing your story of His freeing love. And as you go, do not forget to give thanks to the Lord, for He truly is good, and His love for you endures forever.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rescued ...

Unexpectedly, we found the chrysalis that was attached to a thin branch of milkweed (usually they attach to the grate at the top of the container) laying on the bottom of our butterfly habitat. Clinging to the remnant of the branch that stuck out of the cup was a big, fat Monarch caterpillar. It had eaten the branch, resulting in the downward demise of this chrysalis that was in the process of changing and preparing to emerge as a butterfly.

Every summer for the past 10 years, the children and I search for Monarch caterpillars and raise them until they are butterflies, tending to their insatiable need for milkweed by providing a fresh supply every day. It is a beautiful process from baby caterpillar (sometimes even from egg) to mature butterfly. Once the butterfly emerges, we set it free and enjoy its beauty.

But what was to become of this budding butterfly? It's tender chrysalis lay helpless and detached on the floor of the habitat. My oldest daughter and I decided we would swoop in for the rescue. She gently removed the chrysalis, holding on to the thin branch, and I tied on a piece of sewing thread, securing it to the top of the cage. There it has hung, waiting to have life. Today we can see the orange and black wings beginning to appear inside. It looks as if the rescue attempt has been successful.

Sometimes when we are in the process of changing and emerging on our journey with the Lord, something happens that throws us off. Either from fears within or difficult circumstances from without, we find ourselves falling to the ground. We can believe lies that we learned along the bumpy road of life or we are affected by outside situations that hurt our hearts. These are "enemies" that besiege us and challenge us as we seek the Lord and desire to be more like Him.

Like the Psalmist we may cry out "Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you" (Psalm 143:9). For whatever reasons, and I am sure, dear reader there are many, we may feel that we are in need of rescuing. We know that we cannot do it on our own, at all. We cannot even pick ourselves up and go on, just like this little chrysalis. To me, God's rescuing power is mysterious. Sometimes I doubt it, and certainly sometimes, I do not even see it. I think that God is far off and rather, He is near. I think that He has chosen not to answer me or ignore my cries, but then I learn later that He has indeed rescued me from something that I would have never imagined.

The big old caterpillar came and ate the branch in which the chrysalis clung, and the chrysalis lost its place and security. Sometimes that happens to us as well. We are in the midst of being transformed and growing, and we are cut off by something unexpected. Call out to the Lord and seek His way. He is faithful to reach down, grab hold of you and secure you to a place where you will continue to grow, being transformed in to the beautiful being that He intends for you to be.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Recombobulation Needed

Preparing to go through security at the airport, I unpacked my lap-top, took off my jacket, slipped off my shoes, placed my personal bag, my purse and my computer bag in the bins (four in all) and pushed them through the x-ray machine. I walked through the scanner and then gathered up everything on the other side. Seems to me, no matter how efficient and organized one tries to be, on the “other side” there is always chaos.

After gathering my items, and feeling more like a pack horse than a traveler, I looked up and saw a sign hanging from the ceiling “RECOMBOBULATION AREA.”

I laughed (and stopped to write it down. I dared not forget this silly yet accurately descriptive term). I could feel the chaos of bags and coats and shoes, just saying the word. “Recombobulation.” (My spell check says that it is not even a word!)

Sometimes, on this earthly journey I feel discombobulated. My emotions and my thoughts are here and there and everywhere. It is a challenge to stay organized and on task. I may not look like a pack horse, but I feel as if I am carrying the weight of the world, and then some, on my back.

I am in need of a “recombobulation” area in my life, but what does that look like? It is “self-care.” It is stopping and stepping out of the chaos and trying to figure out what brings you refreshment and rest, and even joy.

When you are overwhelmed, it is important to take time to take care of yourself. It is not selfish (unless, of course you take it to an extreme) but it is healthy. Ask yourself, “What do I need right now to help me slow down, gain perspective and rejuvenate?” Maybe it is a walk, or a run, or lunch with friend. Maybe it is a pedicure or a haircut. Maybe it is a nap or reading a book. Maybe it is watering flowers, snowshoeing, painting or playing a musical instrument. Maybe it is sitting on resting in the Lord and His tender care for you.

Dear reader, it is hard to self-care, especially when we are caring for others, like our children, but it is essential. We will be better women when we learn to slow down and take care of ourselves. If you are having a hard time figuring out what it is, ask the Lord to show you. He made you and He knows just what you need. When we find time to rest and restore it helps us to have perspective, and I believe that helps “recombobulate” some of the chaos and confusion in our lives. I hope you find it helpful, too.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I sat in the Nashville airport preparing to return home - physically, emotionally and mentally. I said my good-byes, had my coffee, bought trinkets for the children and sat down to wait for the departure of my flight.

The departure time came and went and there was no sign of my plane. There was no explanation for why, or even an indication for when. I sat. I waited. I wondered.

Finally, an announcement was made for a gate change, but no indication of when and why. I overheard from others that there were storms in Chicago. I hoped that we could just fly over those, and not be delayed. I was also eager to get home and get on with life.

“Why do storms have to delay my plans?” I muttered. “And why are they not announcing the departure time changes or the reason for delay?”

I quickly realized why my frustration and irritation were mounting. It paralleled my life. Why do storms, either my own or other people’s, have to delay my plans? And why wasn't I being informed of the delay, or told what the delay was all about? All as if I had a right to know.

I took a deep breath. OK, I may not have known the reason for the delay, but I would attempt to wait with a “happy heart” (that’s what I ask my children to find when they are grumbling or discontent) and make the best of it.

Delays are annoying and often misunderstood. We don’t like them. They frustrate us and sometimes even confuse us. They feel like a waste of time. When they occur amidst our own crisis (and growth) it can be filled with teeth gritting tension and headaches, not to mention, temptations to question “Is God really at work in my life? What is the hold up and what is He up to?”

Hebrews 10:35-38 says, “So, do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased.’”

Dear reader, do you feel like you are being delayed on your journey? Do you feel like God’s work is on hold in your life? Are you confused, frustrated, irritated, or weary of waiting and wondering?

Do not give up. Do not throw away your confidence in the One who has a perfect plan for your life, and who is even using these delays to prepare you for what He has for you. Persevere. You may not know or understand what God is doing, but He is at work. He promised.

I am writing this while in the air. We finally did get off the ground. We are making our way around the storm. The plane is rocking and rolling at times, but I am homeward bound. This too, gives me hope. Whether in the storm, delayed by the storm or skirting around the storm, my hope is in Jesus, who is coming and will not delay, and then all will make sense. I may not have an official announcement telling me when and why the delays are now, but someday I will know.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"The Man in the Arena"

I am writing this from one of my favorite places on earth, where I am staying with my dear friend and her family - Nashville, Tennessee. They are all special to me, and this is a special place to me as much of my growth and God's grace have mingled together in this city.

Yesterday, I was heading out the door to share part of my story in a "new"setting and I was a bit nervous (ok, alot nervous, but it is good to be so sometimes. It keeps me humble.) My friends' 13 year old son, Andrew, was teasing me.

"Don't let the critics get you down!" he mused, as I was getting in to the car to leave.

"Thanks, alot, Andrew, for the encouragement" I teased back, but feeling the lump in my throat grow exponentially.

Then his mother asked him to recite to me a part of a speech that he had memorized months earlier. I thought it may encourage some of my readers. It did me. It is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, given in a speech in 1910, in Paris.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Dear reader, do you find yourself feeling as if you have stepped in to an arena, or are being called to do so? Maybe it's the arena of trial and suffering that you are walking valiantly in, trusting God verses cowering in fear. Maybe you are soon to be entering an arena that the Lord has called you to step in to - a job, a ministry, a calling, an opportunity to share your story.

The arena can be a vulnerable place, a dirty place where our faces may feel as if they are marred with dust and sweat and tears, an intense place. It is here, often in this place where our character grows, our integrity is defined, our faith is strengthened and the Lord seen clearer.

The arena is a place where we enter with courage, trust in the Lord's provision and fight with great tenacity. It is a place that we can live a very full life regardless of whether we experience victory or defeat. It is a battle well worth it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Time and Truth

My ten year old son held out his hand. A trace of blood mixed with lake water ran down the side of his palm.

“Mom, I scratched my hand on a stick, under water and it really hurts.”

I applied pressure with my thumb, and we stood in the sun with the water lapping at our knees. Within minutes, I released my thumb and the bleeding had stopped.

“Should I put a band-aid on it? Maybe it would help to keep it from bleeding” he asked.

“Sure, I think you could do that. Band-aids help protect the surface" I answered.

“But they don’t really help with the healing, do they Mom? Only God can make a wound heal.”

I've replayed this picture over and over again in my mind over the past day. His sweet, dear face looking up at me, offering me his hand, trusting me, and perhaps most of all, his speaking profound words of truth. “Only God can make a wound heal.”

Psalm 147:3 says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Healing a broken heart, a wounded soul, a crushed spirit, how does God do such intricate work? I am certain that I will never totally understand the mystery behind the healing touch of God, but I am also as certain that it is possible. There are no formulas, quick fixes or self-help tactics, of course. Each one of our circumstances is different and only God holds the special balm for each wound, and He is the only One who can apply it.

I do believe, however, that God uses time and truth as part of His healing remedy. He combines the amount of time that He knows is needed with His truths. God uses His truth to expose the truth in our own hearts, whether it be our own sin or the value of our worth, as well as the truth of our circumstances. He is faithful to show us truth if we seek Him, and then it is our choice to believe the truth.

Oh, how I wish that a simple solution, like a band-aid would work, but it does not. It may protect some, and God does certainly use things in our lives to provide comfort and protection. But healing? Only He has control over time and truth. Only He knows the right amount of both, and only He can dispense it. Dear reader, reach out and hand God your heart today and trust Him to heal it. He is faithful.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Road Trip

The children and I took a road trip this past week, thus why there has been a hiatus in my entries. We had a wonderful time together, and I arrived home realizing the great value of spending many hours in a 6 foot by 12 foot Suburban. Upon our return trip, I commented to my thirteen year old daughter that I had hoped to have more inspirational moments to write about on our trip. She responded, “Mom, maybe God just wanted you to have fun and relax.” How wise and wonderful of her to notice.

I then asked the children if they had any inspirations from the trip, and this is what they shared. Some are common (some are silly), but I love what came from their hearts.

1. You don’t have to have to go on fancy trips to have fun. This road trip, although not packed with roller coaster rides and playful characters, was touted to be the best ever – better than the time we went to Disney World, even.
2. Things don’t make you happy. Being with your family makes you happy.
3. Root bear and chocolate fudge can make you really sick to your stomach.
4. On road trips, you can stop when you want and check out new things.
5. One learns a lot of patience driving long distances and living in close quarters, but it does make for closer relationships.
6. Trying out new things, like exploring underground caves, does not have to be scary, it can actually be exciting.
7. Just because something looks run down on the outside, it does not mean it is in the inside. (This was noted after we pulled up to our hotel in an old historic area. The kids said, almost in unison, “Are you sure about this, Mom?” Later that day, they thought the hotel was the coolest one they had ever been in – it was old, historic, had a “real” key and didn’t even have a pool!)
8. You shouldn't rush on a road trip, because you may miss special treasures along the way.
9. Old fashioned toys are a lot of fun.
10. If you miss an exit, you can still get back on the right road if you listen to the GPS or read a map.

After arriving home, unpacking, catching up on sleep, doing laundry and trying to get back in to life, I began to think about the road trip I’ve been on lately, traveling this trial. Sometimes, I’d like to just fly to the destination, but I am learning that traveling along, following God’s lead, enjoying the scenery along the way has great value. There are bumps in the road, detours, and changes in plans, but He is always ready and able to show us the way or get us back on course, even when we get off at the wrong exit. If we hurry through it, we do miss special treasures that He has for us – sometimes they are lessons about Him or ourselves learned in difficult situations, and sometimes they are gifts given by Him for our enjoyment. The world may call us to things, but God calls us to each other and to Himself; this is critical. We have a choice. And lastly, sometimes we are asked by God to do something that we have not done before. This requires a lot of faith, but the outcome is often surprisingly amazing.

I guess there were a few things that I learned from God, via my children. However, perhaps the most valued lessons I learned is that even amidst a time of great trial, God does give us moments of enjoyment, when we can just sit back and allow His love for us, to shower over us. Psalm 31:21 says, “He showed His wonderful love to me.” Yes, it is true. He did on a road trip that I will never forget. Dear reader, look for opportunities to enjoy the delight of His love, no matter where you are.
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