Wednesday, June 24, 2009


My favorite time of the day is when I'm alone in the morning before my family awakes, before the noise of the breakfast dishes are clinking or the cars start swooshing by on the street outside my house. I love to grab a single cup of coffee and head back upstairs to my office, close the door behind me and sink down into my winged back chair. It's my sanctuary of peace and quiet. Sometimes I'll just sit for a few minutes, close my eyes, soak in the aroma of that flavored coffee (hazelnut or vanilla) and just let the absence of noise flood my heart. Then when my mind is focused on nothing, all the cares of the day before me are yet to be important, I hear God gently whisper to my soul. "It's good to see you."

We sit in quiet conversation, just me and Him. I share my thoughts. He listens. He shares his thoughts in a whisper or through scripture. I listen. All the while in perfect quiet. Sometimes neither one of us says a word. It's just a presence of peace, knowing He's there just spending time with me.

Then the quiet is pierced. The alarm sounds from my husband's bedside table. The shower is running. Breakfast dishes start clinking and cars are swooshing on the street outside. I bid my adieu to my quiet friend and head into the busyness of another day. But somehow, there's this peace that envelopes me knowing that he hasn't left my side.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Get Wet

The rain has surely been plentiful in the northeast this June. According to the weather report last night it's the second rainiest June on record, the last being in 1914. I don't like to be caught in the rain. It's wet and I don't like getting wet when I'm supposed to be dry. My husband thinks it's the funniest thing that I don't like to get wet. I only like to get wet when I'm planning on getting wet like diving into a pool or taking a shower. Those are planned moments of drippyness. I don't like it when it's getting caught in a downpour or when the hose is leaking down my arm when I'm just trying to water my plants or wash the car in the driveway. Those times of unplanned wetness means more work for me: changing my clothes, drying and restyling my hair. It's a nuisance and to me, a waste of time.

However, I do like what rain produces when it pours down in consistent and right amounts. It produces mature, healthy, beautiful plants both for beauty and nourishment. I love that I've turned my desk to face the back yard this spring even though most days I've been peering out at rain. At least I've been able to enjoy a birds-eye-view of my flower gardens. It's been the only way to witness the blooming pink blossoms of my fairy roses and the greening of the butterfly and hydrangea bushes. I know that when the sun reappears (and it will) my eyes will be blessed with their full blooming color. My mouth will taste the harvest of flavors from my herbs and vegetables. The rain will have served its purpose to feed the land so that it may be a blessing to us.

Paul says in Hebrews 6:7-8 "Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But the land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned." We are the land that drinks in God's word so that we will be a blessing to those we serve; our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, strangers...anyone that enters our life. The key is that we must drink of the rain that falls. We must swallow (not just taste) a regular dose of God's word in order to produce God's crop of fruitfulness. If we don't drink we become a parched land that will only produce thorns and thistles which are useless in His kingdom.

I met a second grade teacher at an author's meeting last month. She's thinking of writing a book entitled "Are Your Prickles Showing?" or something like that. She tells the story of one of her students who normally is kind and very polite coming to class one day in a very bad mood. He took his mood out on everyone around him so she asked him, "Are your prickles showing today?" I thought what a great illustration of how we are when we take our bad mood out on those around us. It's like everything we say is sharp like a thorn and prickly like a thistle.

Are you a source of beauty and flavor to those around you? Or are your prickles showing? If the latter is true then it's time to get wet in God's word and let His words soak into the soil of your heart.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Duck Feathers

Ahhhh...a sense of accomplishment finally fills the hole anxiety has dug into my stomach these past few weeks. I've written, edited, rewritten and submitted a new children's story for a work-for-hire project. It was a lot of fun once I set my feet firmly under my writing desk and started honing in on the storyline. It was like laying next to my kids making up stories again to help them fall asleep.

Have you ever taken the time to make up your own bedtime stories? I used to think it was a bother some nights because I was so tired. I craved the quiet, alone time with my husband after a long day playing with my kids. But, now I long for all those snugly moments and long good nights. I think of all our bedtime stories and wonder if my kids will tell them to their children some day?

There was one story my son favored about a floating white duck feather. If he wanted me to tell this story I had one rule he had to follow: keep you eyes closed the whole peeking! Of course I'd start out with "Once upon a time..." and continue the story, pretending my hand was the floating white duck feather. At the right time in the story, when the feather was about to land, I'd gently let my fingers fall over his face, down his arms and over his hair. It really helped him to relax and soon he'd be fast asleep. I don't exactly remember the ending. I think it changed every time I told the story. That didn't matter, though. It was a relaxing story that got him to sleep every time.

Ideas for stories are found everywhere. I think I got the idea for the floating feather story from watching the movie "Forest Gump." Remember when Forest is waiting for his school bus? A white feather starts floating down from the sky and lands at his feet when he gets up to walk on the bus. I always thought, "Now there's a story in that feather, somewhere." So I made one up.

When I speak with older students about becoming an author I say, "Writing a book is like telling a story and everyone has a story to tell." I'm not sure how I came up with this quote; if it's mine or someone elses' idea, but I like it. Whenever I find myself with no ideas or writer's block begins to set in, I remember that story ideas are everywhere!

So, what story do you have to tell?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Light. It seems something that's scarce this month. I think this has been the darkest, gloomiest, rainiest June I have ever experienced or that I can recall in recent years. The winter was especially long and stormy and this ol' New Englander is gettin' kinda crabby as the storms keep me housebound a bit longer than usual. It's averaged maybe one day of sunshine a week for the past 4 weeks and trust me those days I've spent outside soaking up any rays of sunshine I could. It didn't matter what was on my schedule, if it was sunny, I canned the plans and sat in the sun to renew my hope that summer is just a few days away!

The Israelites lived for 400 years in spiritual darkness before Christ was born. The prophets were silenced. Their hope for a future, for the promised Messiah seemed lost. God never spoke. Not once until the appointed season when he spoke of sending the Messiah, Jesus to earth. And though Jesus was birthed according to the prophets, announced with the light from the Star of Bethlehem, proclaimed to be the light of the world, people still chose to live in the darkness of unbelief with no hope. They didn't recognize him as their promised hope.

I love how Paul describes God's gift of Jesus in his letter to Titus 3:4-7 "But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared (in Jesus), he saved us...because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior so that...we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."

When I read that today I couldn't help but picture God's tear drop as it fell from heaven in the scene of the crucifixion in Mel Gibson's, "The Passion of the Christ." It portrayed God's compassion for us and his sadness on his darkest day when he was completely separated by our sins from his only son. And yet, it was the beginning of hope for in a few days, in the light of dawn, the promise of life eternal would be revealed through his resurrection. Light would come again.

We find ourselves waiting for the Light to come again; to pierce the darkness of this stormy life. We might get crabby waiting for it but we do have hope. The Light will come again "at the appointed season", just like He promised.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Immeasurably More

This morning I sit with scattered post-it-notes on my desk, thoughts swirling in my head and deadlines on my calendar. There's inspired thoughts partially formed, typed and saved on my computer, nothing yet complete.My head wants to form the words and string them together into sentences and paragraphs but for some reason there's a struggle. Daily chores, interruptions, relationships that are all important demand my attention, move to the forefront of my mind and heart. Pushed aside are the words that were forming that perfect string of sentences and by days end I seem to have accomplished very little. I crawl into bed, pull up the covers, turn out the light and wonder "Do I really have what it takes?"

Waking early for some peaceful quiet time when the rest of my family is asleep I sneak into my office with coffee cup in hand. I savor every warm, delicious sip as I open up God's word searching for His direction, encouragement for today. My heart pines to know, "Do I really have what it takes, Lord?"
I read this, "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesian 3:16-19).

Paul finishes, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations...!" (Ephesians 3: 20-21).

These are Paul's words, his prayer for his friends in Ephesus written thousands of years ago. But today, those are the Holy Spirit's words spoken on my behalf and taken to the throne of God. The Bible says there are times that we do not even know the words to pray and at those times the Holy Spirit is groaning and speaking our hearts' cry before the Father. Wow! What an enormous love God has for us that He has given us a part of himself, a friend who can speak what we cannot form with our own tongues; who is able to do more (immeasurably more) than we could even ask Him to do! This incredible power is actively at work in us!

So, "Do I have what it takes, Lord?" I ask.

"What you cannot do in your own power, I AM doing immeasurably more than you can imagine through you."

Friday, June 5, 2009

It's All In The Fruit

If asked to choose your favorite fruit, which would it be? I would choose the wild blueberry. Not the large type that grow on tall bushes in your back yard or in groves but the kind that grow between the rocks in Maine. They're smaller in size than their bushy relatives and don't need any added sugar to make them sweet. I like them freshly picked, frozen out of the bag, canned, jellied, preserved, baked in muffins, in pancakes, or my most favorite is a fresh-baked blueberry pie! I'd rather a blueberry "birthday pie" than any form of birthday cake ever! Unfortunately, my birthday falls in November when blueberries have passed by. I suppose I should think ahead from August to the fall and squirrel away a few cups as a gift to myself. But alas, I've yet to get them past my mouth and into the freezer!

When needing a blueberry "fix" I don't hop in the car and zip up north to Maine to pick a pint...that wouldn't be cost affective. Nor do I need to plant a bush, cultivate any soil, fertilize or weed, burn off the old dead brush, or rake the berries by hand. I just need to drive to the local produce market and shell out some cash. (However, I don't usually have a the choice of the small, wild, Maine-grown berries around here. I must settle for the larger, bush-grown Jersey or Florida brands. Non-the-less they are blueberries and my taste buds are satisfied). To market a wholesome, tasty berry or any natural food the natural pests and diseases must be controlled, fought-off and destroyed.

Now, isn't that the truth about the fruit of our lives? Paul mentions the natural fruits of our hearts in Galatians 5:19-21 which are: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, to name a few. These are the weeds, the pests, the parasites, if you will, that cause disease in our souls. Already I'm not likin' myself as I identify with some of my own behaviors. What God desires is totally opposite of what is in our hearts! Yaowzah! (My coin word for Yikes).

Luckily, Paul does not leave us hopeless but spells out the healthy fruits that can be produced in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” If our lives produce a harvest of these fruits we know the soil of our hearts and souls have been properly cultivated. But, it’s hard work. It takes discipline because these fruits are not part of our nature. These fruits are transplanted into our hearts as we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us from the inside out.

It's NOT about what WE can do on our own. No matter how many times a week we pluck the weeds from the garden of our hearts, they reappear. It's all about the transformation of the seeds...becoming a new creation. Where do we start? Paul says in Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." It doesn't matter what we look like on the outside or what we do to prove ourselves holy. It's about giving up what comes naturally; laying it down, constantly to God's control so that he can produce the proper fruit.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Love Affair

Just when I thought I could not love my granddaughter any more than I do she does something to redefine my love limits. It has been an amazing journey this year to watch her grow from newborn to toddler but more amazing has been to witness the love affair between her and my son. There's a sweetness, a special unspoken bond between them that words cannot sufficiently express.

Even though we live close by and visit with them often, it's those video clips they share that catch this love affair so perfectly. Just this week she has learned the art of climbing up and down off the couch independently. To Grams delight (that's me) I watched the clip of this new milestone at least 3 times in 5 minutes! The first time I watched it I was just thrilled to see her master her physical world and giggled at her awkward wiggles as she scooched her legs over they edge of the couch cushion and onto the floor. The second time I viewed it I was focused on what she was focused on...her dad coming home from work. As she was in mid-scooch you could hear my son coming in the back door. My granddaughter immediately sped up her scooches and pumped her little legs to hasten her descent to the floor. I heard my son proudly say in the background, "Can you climb off the couch by yourself now?!" And she answered with an excited, high-pitched squeal, "Dad!" If she could run, I'm sure she would have run into his arms by that time! (P. S. That's the sequel to this video clip)! The third time I played this clip just for pure joy of watching and hearing my son and his daughter love on each other.

Today I was finished reading Paul's second letter to the Corinthians. He ends it with what we call a benediction. It goes like this, "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." Normally I wouldn't have thought twice about this little ending. But, today for some reason it got me thinking about how much God loves his children (us). If you think about it our whole journey with God is embodied in this benediction. The relationship with God, our creator, is defined so simply and yet so powerfully.

It is by grace, given through Jesus' earthly life, death and resurrection that we are birthed into relationship with God as pure and holy. It is because of God's love affair with us as Father that we are offered this grace so that we might participate in the fellowship of his Holy Spirit. More simply, that we might love God personally, intimately, continuously now and throughout eternity. God looks forward to that high-pitched squeal of glee from us when he comes in the back door. He desires our affection and devotion as much, if not more, than my son welcomes the same from his daughter.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Groanings For What Is Yet To Be

"Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come...So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." 2 Corinthians 5:2,4b,5

Talk concerning leaving our earthly bodies is usually reserved for death bed discussions. We comfort ourselves or loved ones with the assurance that our dying brings hope for a future with Christ. We hold to the promise made in Scripture that in heaven there will be no suffering, no pain, no sorrow. We will shed this earthly shell and trade it in for a heavenly body, made whole and perfect in God's sight and for the purpose He intended.

If we are honest with ourselves we don't like to think about it much, let alone talk about leaving the comfort of our earthly "homes." It's what we know. It's what brings us comfort. It's what we've grown accustomed to and love, for the most part.

There's those perfect days that we enjoy the beauty of creation on a summer's day; the birth of a new child or the comfort of our lover's embrace. But what to do on those days that life is not so beautiful or perfect? Are those days the life we're promised forever? Who wants to stay in the midst of crisis or trouble?

We are deceived, even on the good days, to think this world is perfect as it is. It's not as it once was in The Garden or as God intended it to be. When in the midst of trouble our hearts are then pressed to wonder if there's more to life than this?

Paul knows-he is confident-that in the hope of the resurrection of Christ our earthly homes will pass away. These shells we call our own-our bodies we've grown accustomed to-will someday be discarded, returned to dust. Or, perchance we will be fortunate to witness our transformation, in an instant when He returns? So, if we place our hope in Christ these earthly homes we should not love more than the One who will transform them into His likeness; the One who now prepares our eternal homes.

It's hard to put our faith in things we aren't sure about or haven't seen with our own eyes. It's hard to think that on the sweetest days life could get any better. But Scripture says it will. What we see, what we know now is only a foretaste of what is yet to be and for all eternity.

"We live by faith and not by sight...So, we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." 2 Corinthians 5:7,9

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Renewed Day By Day

"...inwardly we are being renewed day by day."
2 Corinthians 4:16b
Renewed, regenerated, revived. These words create images of life born anew. It was (is) my prayer that the words God inspires me to write would breathe life into the readers' hearts and give them hope that each "New Day" promises.

The entire passages in 2 Corinthians 2-4 Paul is writing to encourage the faith in those he loves in Corinth. He is a prolific (sometimes confusing) writer but a communicator nonetheless and he undoubtedly inspires and humbles me in my passion for words. In these passages he uses communicative words like "speaks" and "writes" which my ears automatically tune into:
" Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God." (2 Cor. 2:17b)

" are a letter from Christ...written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (2 Cor. 3:3)

I am humbled as I feel the weight to speak and write responsibly with a heart that has first been searched by God. My words, my opinions, my thoughts are nothing important, but God's Word transforms and renews man's heart. My job is to encourage my readers to look to Him for their by day.

"Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Cor 4:16-18)

In the scope of God's sight, the world is a small place. No trouble too overwhelming, or too small; no person too famous or insignificant. Isn't it a humbling thought that we have a God who cares and loves us so intimately when you look at the world from far away? So my encouragement for you today is that wherever you are, whatever you do may you be renewed by seeking God.