Friday, August 27, 2010

Wise Children

"O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you." Psalm 8:1-2

The wisdom of children far surpasses my own, at times. That's why I always welcome their conversations. When I listen to them I'm getting a glimpse of God's heart. Here's a bit of God's wisdom, compassion and power some children have shared with me:


It had been an hour-long, Wednesday night praise service. I'd quickly rushed to the nearest empty seat in the middle section of our modern sanctuary and sat alone. I thought I was the only one aware of my surrounding empty seats . Then, during the benediction, a five-year-old girl slid down the long row of chairs to my side. "Hi! I'm Kaitlyn," she said with a sincere smile and sparkling blue eyes. "I thought I'd come sit with you so you wouldn't be alone anymore."


I shared a late summer walk around the block with my two-year-old granddaughter. She noticed the piles of dry, discarded leaves alongside the road. She soon discovered how they crunched beneath our feet as we walked. "Crunch, crunch, crunch!" she exclaimed each time, delighted in her new awareness. Then she found an itty, bitty red leaf in perfect form. "Awww. A baby leaf. So cute," she said, stopping to pick it up, examining it like a mother tending to her newborn. "So pretty, red." And she carried God's delicate treasure all the way home.


My daughter couldn't settle down for bed. She was just barely 18 months old and feeling out of sorts. I'd rocked her for over an hour and attempted to lay her down three times but each time she shrieked with pain. "What's wrong? Where does it hurt?" I asked.

With that old familiar tug, "My ear," she cried.

"Mommy will be right back with some medicine." I closed the door and whispered up a prayer. "Please, dear Jesus, we can't even afford Tylenol let alone a doctor's visit and Amoxicilin."

When I returned to her crib with a dropper, she greeted me with a big smile, laughing and jumping. "He fixed it, Mommy!" she squealed, pointing to a shelf of stuffed animals.

"Your ear?"


"Who fixed it?"

"He did!"

I pointed to each stuffed animal, Bert and Ernie, even to the characters on the covers of the books we'd read earlier.

"No, Mommy! HE fixed it," she insisted, pointing to the same shelf.

I was stumped. Then I remembered the prayer I'd whispered into thin air. But, Jesus couldn't have revealed himself to my baby girl, for real...could he? So, dismissing that possibility I asked, "Does this man have wings?"

Again she pointed, "No, Mommy! HE fixed it!"

I then pulled out the board book, Jesus and the Children, we'd read earlier and pointed to the picture of Jesus playing leap frog with smiling children. "Did HE fix your ear? Did Jesus fix it?"

Relieved and elated she jumped up and down, "Yes, Mommy. HE fixed it. He fixed my ear!"

"How?" I asked.

"He touched it," she said mater-of-fact, laid down and fell fast asleep for the entire night. She's never had an ear infection since then.


It never fails that when I'm in the presence of children, I see Jesus.

Lord, give me their eyes, their faith so that when they spend time with me, they see you, too.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." Psalm 119:32

I carried home a small bottle of five ugly caterpillars. For a week they crawled around their tiny home seemingly doing nothing but making a mess and eating their way into a coma. By the second week they'd had their fill and one-by-one, inched to the top of the container suspending themselves by a thin silk thread. Overnight they'd spun themselves into a nice little sleeping bag so, carefully following the directions, I transferred the sleeping critters to a safe house.

I waited anxiously for them to emerge as the colorful, graceful butterflies I was promised they would become. For days, nothing happened. I wondered if I'd done everything properly. Finally, after a week the first butterfly broke loose from his cocoon and stood on the side of the mesh walls, fluttering his wings ever so gently to dry them. Within a few more days, the rest of the butterflies emerged and were feeding on the sugar water I'd provided. They were perfectly formed, looking nothing like the ugly caterpillars I'd first brought home.

As all wild things in nature do, they too demanded their freedom. With great fan fare from my family, we led them outside to release them from their bondage. With a little coaxing the first three Painted Ladies flew gracefully into the blue summer sky. We cheered and waved good bye as they set out on their way to enjoy the bigger world.
The last two, however, wouldn't come out no matter how much coaxing we provided. They held firm to the side of the walls that held them back from the world. We closed the door and gave them another day to ponder the possibilities of flying free.

God stands at the door of our hearts beckoning us toward freedom through his gift of forgivness through his Son, Jesus Christ. That forgiveness opens the door to the heights of heaven, where abundant life flows; where hearts are unburdened and joyful; where bodies are healed and made whole; where people become who God intended them to be from the begining of time.

If we could only imagine what possibilities God has in store beyond our own walls, we wouldn't hesitate one moment to fly free. God's desire is to release us. Are you ready to fly?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


"But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation." Colossians 1:22

I walked into her hospital room, like I'd done a few times before, but this time I saw helplessness. She lay in bed immobilized from breaks in three out of four limbs. For the first time I wondered if her life would be restored anywhere close to what it used to be? Trying not to show the panic that tempted to overcome my demeanor I bent over to kiss her, searching for a safe spot, free from injury and pain.

The weeks ahead were slow but through surgeries, therapy and prayer healing came. Her body restored itself to independence and she returned home after a couple of months. But, like the human body does, it accuses us of our past. There's a pain in the hip that comes when weather changes. A couple of fingers don't grip with the strength from before. A persistent limp give evidence of more work needed.

Thankfully, for our spiritual bodies, we're promised full restoration through Christ. In today's scripture Paul reminds us that through Christ's suffering and death of his physical body He has fully restored our spiritual bodies so that God sees us without blemish or reminders (accusations) of past sins (injuries).

This isn't just a promise for our arrival in heaven but it's a promise for today... here and now. If we have been forgiven of our past through Christ, then God sees us fully restored, the way he created us to be from the beginning, whole, holy, pure and perfect.

If God sees us that way now, we need to adopt that same perspective of ourselves (and others) instead of accusing ourselves (and others) of past mistakes and injuries. We need to allow God's healing and live within Christ's forgiveness where we are truly free....NOW.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:13

Held captive by winter, the spring ground of the New Hampshire mountains remained hidden beneath her frozen veil. Darkness was loosening it's grip and the sun lingered a few more precious moments each day. New life was promised but the signs were subtle, barely noticeable to the passers-by.

Trudging out of the cold spring snow, I settled into my gray folding chair near the back of the chapel, grateful for the warmth of the ladies surrounding me. It had been awhile since I'd gone to a women's retreat and I was waiting for God to speak. With great expectation, I waded through the worship music, hoping with each new chorus God would meet me. But he didn't and disappointment crept in.

The speaker took her place center stage and introduced her topic for the weekend, The Names of God. "And tonight, ladies, we'll be looking at his name, 'Abba' or 'Father.'" I took copious notes still listening for God's words meant especially for me but they never came. Instead, I was met with restlessness as I wrestled all night with the thought of the morning's assignment and prayed for God to somehow rescue me. He didn't.

So, I sat in silence in an empty room warmed only by my steaming cup of tea. I opened my journal and penned the title of the assignment in blue ink atop the page. I took five pages to tell God just what I thought of him; how insensitive He was to put me through this painful assignment. I told Him if he were such a loving God He shouldn't be opening this chapter in my life again; the reminder of pain and missed childhood. When I finished ranting, God finally spoke. "Are you done, yet?" he asked. "Now here's how I see (it)." And, I wrote for an hour of how God viewed my experiences through His eyes. And then he left me with a challenge: forgive and offer forgiveness.

That was the beginning of God's rescue of my heart. I'd like to say I was pumped for the rest of the weekend but I can't recall a single thing after Saturday morning. I just wanted to run away and so I convinced the woman I traveled with to leave early.

As we traveled, the New Hampshire mountains gave way to congested highways toward home. Home was full of distractions I hoped would drown out God's challenge. It worked for awhile but by autumn, before the soil of my heart froze solid, God challenged me one more time: forgive and offer forgiveness. And, so I did.

It is with forgiveness we are rescued. It is in offering forgiveness that we gain freedom. It is in love where that forgiveness gives birth to life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dress Me

"...stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
Luke 24:49b

Dressing an infant is no easy task. Their heads flop, their arms droop, their legs kick every which way except the direction they need to go. Seriously, dressing an infant must be like wrangling a steer at a rodeo. It takes time and skill to wrestle them into those street clothes...and my, all those snaps. It's a wonder more babies aren't just allowed to hang in their diapers in public more often.

Then, little bits of time pass and they become a bit more helpful. They hold up their hands anticipating their shirts over their heads. They lift their little legs one at a time into the legs of their Osh-Kosh-By-Gosh's and they demand they be shod so they can play outside. Before long, they're independent of our help, choosing their own outfits (polka dots and plaids...together...on the same body) and clothing themselves without any help from us!

The early church needed to be clothed, too. One of the last instructions Jesus gave his followers before his ascension into heaven was, "stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). Why? Because they had a mission to do and needed to be dressed appropriately. They were to continue sharing the good news of God's kingdom in Jerusalem and then throughout the world just as Jesus had started. They couldn't do it in their own power, clothed in only their humanity. No, they needed to be clothed from the inside out with the power from on high ... God's Holy Spirit.

Being obedient to Jesus' instructions, his followers stayed in Jerusalem, praying and worshiping God in the temple. As they postured themselves in worship, maybe some raised their hands, waiting to be clothed by their heavenly Father. Finally, on the day Pentecost God showed up. He overwhelmed them with power, placing a flame of fire above their heads and a foreign language upon their tongues. They shared the Good News of Jesus to all the foreigners in Jerusalem, celebrating Pentecost. They went out into the streets, into new lands with boldness because they were clothed with God's power.

As we wait for God's call on our lives or wait for Him to tell us what next step to take on our journey of sharing God's kingdom let us take the posture of worship. Let us raise our hands and pray, "Father, dress me!"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Bridegroom

"Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45

I love mystery dates. My husband is a very clever, romantic man and he's pulled off a few exciting anniversary dates over the past twenty-six years.

On our tenth anniversary he showed up at my work place announcing himself with a fresh bouquet of flowers peeking around the corner of my cubicle. Attached was a note that read something like, "Will you come away with me?" With an approving nod and a smile from my boss who sat just three seats away, he whisked me away for a romantic dinner and evening alone.

Today we celebrate our twenty-sixth anniversary and he's done it again! He was out of bed long before I was this morning. I thought, "Oh, he must be planning breakfast in bed." But, then I heard the familiar whir of the treadmill from the next room and drifted back to sleep. An hour later my senses were revived with the delicious aroma of a freshly brewed cup of hazelnut coffee sitting on my nightstand. That's my favorite way to wake up! We shared a lovely breakfast and before he left for work he said, "Stand by for further instructions!"

My anticipation was peaked even more. Promptly around noon he called. "You have an appointment at 2 o'clock at the Body & Soul Day Spa. When you're done there, go home and prepare for dinner, wearing that pretty dress I like. Enjoy!"

So here it is twenty-five minutes before my afternoon at the spa and I'm looking forward to a wonderful evening. I don't know exactly what he's planned. I'm assuming dinner at a nice restaurant. A bottle of wine. Candlelight and "our" song maybe even a listening to our taped vows that we've kept all these years. I'm not sure. But, I am anticipating seeing my bridegroom with great joy and excitement.

Shouldn't the Bride of Christ (the church) also be anticipating the appearance of her Bridegroom (Christ himself) with the same joy and anticipation? Lately, I've had several conversations that prove the opposite. I've found most of us looking toward Christ's return with fear and anxiety, especially as Scripture reveals itself in our current events. Christ has chosen to reveal some of what to expect through his teachings as well as through the Revelation he gave to John. However, like he did with the disciples while he was living among them, I think not ALL is revealed. Therefore, there is fear of the unknown. If we believe in Christ as our saviour, should we not then have no fear?

I'm looking forward to celebrating the arrival of my bridegroom this evening even though all the details have yet to be revealed. The check on my heart is, do I anticipate the Bridegroom's return just the same?

Thursday, August 5, 2010


"But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding." Job 32:8

I coveted rest as a new mother. Torn between sleep or washing the growing mounds of laundry and dishes, I followed the veteran mothers' advice and chose sleep. At least I tried to sleep. The apartment was quiet except for my son's rhythmic breathing coming from the baby monitor on my nightstand. I heard every inhale, every exhale, every rustle of the covers, every babble, every whimper, even the silence.

The silence was the worst thing because it startled me into complete consciousness. I'd stop breathing myself until he took his next breath. If it didn't come fast enough I'd jump out of bed, rush into the nursery and watch for his back to rise and fall before I was able to return to my own slumber. Finally, desperate enough for sleep, I turned off the monitor and trusted God to watch over my baby and wake me when he cried.

I no longer lose sleep over the silence in the nursery, but rather the cries of my heart.

Two years ago, God gave me a burden to write a book for daughters of divorce as a guide toward the rescue, restoration and release of their wounded hearts through forgiveness. I've written three chapters, sat with two publishers who initially loved the proposal but promptly rejected it, joined a writers' group and rewrote two:three chapters. It was my mission this year to rewrite the proposal, the three chapters and work on completing the manuscript. But, life took many detours and it hasn't worked out the way I had envisioned.

Now, I find myself outside of heaven's door listening for God's rhythm. I question, "Are you still there, God? Are you breathing?" I take a deep breath and hold. Time passes. Writing is hard. Words won't come. My face turns blue.

"Breathe!" God says. "Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out."

I catch God's rhythm. Clarity comes. More lessons learned. Wisdom comes. More words are birthed. The goal is no less but the journey is in step with the rhythm of God's breath in me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cabin Scent

"Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely." Song of Solomon 2:14b

Wielding a crowbar and hammer I dismantled the mud room down to the original wood siding. It was an exhilarating experience to finally be rid of the ugliness I'd become accustomed to for twenty years. With all the white-washed, cedar clap boards removed, the weathered insulation discarded and the dirty, worn rug tossed onto the back lawn, a beautiful, familiar scent invaded my senses. Camp!

Taking a deep breath, my mind's eye brought visions of summer camp into focus: campers loaded with suitcases and sleeping bags trudging through the wooded, dirt paths toward their designated rustic, wood cabins; new friends and reuniting with old friends; camp food, silly songs, snack shack, craft shack, lake-side swimming, cute boys, hopeful hearts, thunderstorms, humid days, chilly nights with bonfires and chapels. Camp meant two weeks away from home, enveloped by the natural world, drenched in God's presence. Away from the normal routine, camp was the place where my heart-changing decisions were made. It's where I allowed God to pull off my old facade of white-washed clap boards and expose the beauty that laid beneath the ugliness I'd become accustomed to.

As these precious memories lingered around me, I considered leaving the mud room in it's natural beauty and rustic camp cabin scent. I looked at the walls again and there I saw the water stains, the nail holes, the rough finish and splinters; all wounds left behind from one source or another. Then God whispered to my heart, "There's much more beauty to be added. Just as I exposed your natural beauty, who I created you to be, you were not meant to be left with gaping wounds. Only in the healing of your wounds are you able to find true beauty."

I look forward to a new door, clean tile flooring, and the scent of freshly painted walls. It's the same room with a new beauty and a better purpose... just like my life.