Tuesday, January 31, 2012


"But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."
2 Corinthians 3:16

Day old conversations replayed in my head. Spoken and imaginary words mulled over until I stewed, compared myself to others, questioned my identity and my worth. All lies that once held my heart captive resurfaced, triggered innocently enough, but there they were. And, the longer these thoughts simmered the truer they sounded.

I walked out of the cold and into the sanctuary thick with His Presence and a friend begged me to pray for her - said she knew God would send a friend to pray - the me believing lies.

Husband and I held her close, lifted her needs and prayed truth. And as we prayed for her, truth lifted the veil . All the Enemy's lies stood exposed. God's presence always does that - reveals the lies so we can see his truth.

Paul knew this and gave this advice:

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4b-5).

Knowing how easily our minds fool, the Enemy makes truth and lie indistinguishable - so he begins every spiritual battle there. Left unattended, his lies capture our thoughts, keep us in bondage and keeps God's truth distant. That's why Paul suggests discipline - take every thought captive and placing it under Christ's authority.

The stepping away from lies and into Truth takes discipline - conscious practice - a physical and spiritual stepping away from the negative lies and into God's captivating presence.

We step into God's presence through worship:

"Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name" (Hebrews 13:15).

We replace lies with God's truth:

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). This includes training and rebuking our thoughts.

We ask for deliverance from the hands of our Enemy:

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Matthew 6:13

~ Amen~

What lies pose themselves as truth to you? What does "taking every thought captive" look like to you?

As we go about the day, let's hold each other up in prayer, shall we?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A Loss For Words

Wrestling images swirl where no one sees. Joy and sorrow mingle, riding winds through life's ordinary moments. This leaves me with a loss for words. Even so, thanksgiving comes.

Storm clouds cover and silent white flows down, a bit of heaven on the ground.

A few coins left to feed and somehow we're never left in need.

Oh death, where is thy sting? For life hid in Christ, in heaven she now sings.

Only hearts speak, today. God understands and send His words.

Yet I still belong to you;

you hold my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,

leading me to a glorious destiny.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

I desire you more than anything on earth.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,

but God remains the strength of my heart;

he is mine forever.
Psalm 73: 23-26 NLT

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Unfading Beauty...Is it Possible?

"Your beauty...should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1Peter 4:3-4

As a woman, I secretly wish for unfading beauty. When I dare look at my reflection in the mirror, I wonder, "Who's that woman staring back at me?" She lends me the not-so-subtle reminder that time ticks by faster than my twenty-year-old self thought it ever could.

I'm grateful when my husband whispers that I'm more beautiful now than when we first married (all together now..."awww") but I can't help but notice the wrinkles, the white hair, and oh yes, the double-digits on the tag of my jeans that creep higher and higher every year behind my back.

What a relief to know God doesn't care about all that! Well...sort of.

I wrestle with God all the time with that gentler, quieter self he's looking for. If that's what God desires of me, then why did he make me who I am...the not-so-quiet, not-so-gentle me?

So, I asked God about this today, "God, how do I cultivate this gentle, quiet spirit you desire?"

God said, "It's in the knowing Me better. It's all about knowing I Am...laying everything about you at the cross; crucify the self - your past, present and future - and consciously let it go. Relinquish control."

In a word, surrender.

It's all about surrendering to God because everything else holds us captive, strangles us until we can't breathe.

But when we breathe God in, He fills - fills us up with His light - and darkness flees. For light and darkness cannot exist in the same place. Light always overcomes the dark, especially the soul dark.

His light fills and softens the dark, makes our rough edges gentler to the touch. And the more we surrender to His light, breathe Him in, the more our bodies warm - soul deep. And when a body is soul-deep warm, it quiets.

And what's more attractive to a captive, smothering world spinning crazy than a gentle, quiet spirit?

So, I stare back at that unfamiliar woman in the mirror and smile.

If I cannot but help surrender my outer beauty to time, then I choose to surrender my inner self, my soul and the essence of who I am, to unfading beauty through God my Creator. I lay all that I am (past, present and future) at the foot of the cross and pray the longer I stay in His Presence, the quieter, gentler Him will shine through this fading beauty. 

And the brighter He shines and spills over, maybe, just maybe the world will surrender, too. And maybe this world will warm - grow gentle and quiet.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't Rehearse Your Troubles

"Have I not commanded you, Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Incredibly shy as a young girl, acting became my refuge; a place where I discarded my apprehensions and troubles, crawled into another shell quite unlike myself and safely expressed emotions the real me never could. But, I had to be careful. Rehearsals exhausted me, transformed me and it took hours before I found myself, the real me, again.

Sometimes we rehearse real life.  A problem heads our way and immediately, we imagine all the possible negative scenarios. We turn those thoughts over in our minds - diligently rehearse our parts - until one day our minds transform the imaginary into reality. Our hearts no longer rest, but beat exhausted and anxious before trouble even comes.

Sarah Young puts it this way: "Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are meant to go through them only when they actually occur. Do not multiply your suffering in this way!" (Jesus Calling, 2008, Thomas Nelson).

On the contrary, God says, "Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go"(Joshua 1:5, 9). Relax. God's got it! He is with us and knows what's up ahead before we do. All he asks is that we seek his face with all our hearts. And when we do, he will fill us with his peace - an incomprehensible peace - even in the middle of our mess.

So, if we're to rehearse anything in this life, it is to be being fully reliant on God. Practice our faith until we're transformed into maturity in Christ.

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Joshua 29:13

Lord, may we remember to seek you, not only during trouble, but every day; for this is how we mature in you. May we stop rehearsing our troubles and remember to just be ourselves with you, giving you everything and in thanksgiving, look forward to where you are. In doing this, fill us with your peace.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A Few of My Favorite Things

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22
"When the dog bites. When the bee stings. When I'm feeling sad. I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad." Familiar lyrics from The Sound of Music. Remember?

And in a week full of needs, sickness and stress God surrounds me with a few of my favorite things, cheers my heart and restores my soul:
  • My family all gathered safe from distant lands
  • Warm lemon tea with honey and modern medicine to relieve and heal 
  •  Stacks of books
  • Portable laptop and writing by the fire
  • A story's first draft
  • Handwritten thank you from a dear friend
  • Electronic messages that encourage 
  •  A new writers group full of dreams and hope
 These are a few of my favorite things. What are some of your favorite things that bring comfort and pleasure, especially when you're under the weather?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Don't Think. Just Write.

"The LORD said to me, 'Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen...'" Isaiah 8:1

From the beginning of time, God commanded his words be written down. He's hard-wired some of us for writing, but we struggle getting started.

Here's what worked for me:

The blank page stared me down, taunted me, challenged me to a duel. "Go ahead. I dare you! Strike this page with ink and scratch your thoughts upon these lines! I. Dare. You."

Early on, that's exactly how my writing practice started. A daily duel between me, my pen and the blank page. Then, I read Madeline L'Engle's memoir, A Rock That is Higher. She grabbed my attention with this tidbit of advice: "Don't think. Just write." She explains, if we think too much about our words while actually writing words, we stop the creative flow of story. As writers, she says, we're allowed to think before writing, think after writing, but never think while in the process of writing. According to L'Engle, over thinking our words deafens us to our inner voice, even God's whispers.

Following her advice transformed my writing process. Before I write anything, I read. I read Scripture, Christian devotionals, and inspirational books or blogs. Reading awakens my brain, feeds my heart and centers my thoughts on God. Here, I'm teachable, inquisitive, questioning, thinking. In the midst of reading, something inspires me, gets me mad, makes me question, starts a dialogue between me, the author and God.

Then, I write.

I. Just. Write. I don't focus on syntax, grammar, punctuation, or voice. It's a tough discipline, especially for perfectionists like me, who scour pages with red pens and cringe at every error. If that's you, too, there's hope. Just. Write.

When my inner voice grows silent, speaks it's last word, then I think, again.

I read and reread my free-hand scrawls searching for a nugget worth sharing. If I find one, my brain goes on high alert and editing begins. Words align into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into a blog entry, a speaking topic, a book chapter, or a children's story idea. I don't publish everything. Some words are best kept to myself. Others are private between God and me.

I. Just. Write. That's what I do. I'm hard-wired that way.

How has God hard-wired you? What form of expression do you find most comfortable?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Dream. It's Your Turn!

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

I know this topic of God dreams is timely. I've received emails from some of you, seen Facebook chatter on dreams, and our family has experienced much trouble this week.

On Monday, the first Wellspring Writers Group met. I expected 10 people. God exceeded my meager expectations and 18 people attended, five more were unable to attend. Electricity filled the room and flickering, distant dreams came alive. 

Tuesday morning, I awoke with vertigo and nausea -  a mystery until I remembered how hard I hit my head on the door frame of my car the night before. Suffering a concussion four years ago, I stayed in bed all day.

The same day, my daughter contracted food poisoning from eating tainted meat in Rwanda. Her condition was serious enough to consider flying home to the US for hospitalization. But, family and intercessors prayed and her condition stabilized within 24 hours.

Wednesday brought more news of ill health to our extended family.

By this time, I knew the Enemy was doling out distractions and trouble knowing that I was one step closer to my dream and more powerfully, releasing the God-dreams in others. 

It's in these times of trouble, where we're called to prayer being ever watchful and thankful. Watchful for God in the midst of trouble - ready to move where he moves, for he promises to make good of any situation. Thankful for God's blessings and faithfulness in our lives in the past, the present and the future. For God never fails.

So, in the midst of trouble - on my way towards God's dream - I'm grateful for: 
  • God-sized dreams
  • Opportunities to release God-dreams in others
  • Powerful prayers offered by intercessors
  • A living God who hears our cries
  • Health restored by a compassionate, powerful God
  • Battles already won
  • Readers willing to dream
 As promised, today is for you. Have you enjoyed your time of God-dreaming? What dreams has God placed in your hearts?

You're invited to share with us, right here. And if you do, I'll covet to pray with you, that God would empower you with his strength, his vision, his hope until the very end.

Ready? Go!

Lord, thank you for infusing your dreams inside ready hearts. Protect those dreams, empower these precious children to carry your hope and follow your lead until you bring these dreams to completion. Amen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When Dreams Seem Beyond Our Reach

"For nothing is impossible for God." Luke 1:37

Walking toward our dreams, taking one faith-step at a time, proves exhilarating and exhausting, empowering and deflating, possible and impossible all at the same time. When our journey turns the corner from months to years, Doubt slithers around every bend serving up handfuls of discouragement, hardships and lies hoping we'll let it all go.

Here, confronted by Doubt, we have two choices: trust God's promises and hang on tight, keeping in step or believe Doubt's lies, let go and turn back home, convinced our dreams are simply unreachable.

Avoiding difficulties marks our humanity and Doubt plays that trump card every time. Traveling the straightest, smoothest, easiest road appeals to us most naturally - especially when we're afraid or weary - doesn't it?

Jesus warned his disciples in John 16:33, "In this world you will have trouble." Living in this broken world trouble is inevatalbe. But Jesus didn't leave his disciples (or us) hopeless. He continued, "But take heart! I [Jesus] have overcome the world." What a promise! If Jesus already overcame the world, what have we to fear? If he leads the way, we just need to follow him.

David puts it this way, "God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake their surging" (Psalm 46:1-3).

Here, in the witness of God's word that Hope replaces Doubt and we take hold of Trust. Our hearts rejuvinate and muster strength beyond ourselves until we fall in step with God's pace.

And here's the greatest promise as we journey together: "...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

Oh Lord, when Doubt creeps in with trouble, when our hearts are weary from the journey and our dreams seem unreachable, before we let go, remind us of your promises. Remind us that for you, God, nothing is impossible! Replace Doubt with Hope, fill us with your Truth and Life, rejuvinate your dream in us, help us hold on tight until we burn with desire to follow in your footsteps once again. Amen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Wishes vs God Dreams

"For no word from God will ever fail." Luke 1:37

God is not a Genie in a lamp, huddling inside cramped quarters hoping for relief at the whim of our selfish wishes and a swipe of our hand across the shiny brass. Although, that's how we treat him.

Wired with his DNA to create (ideas, products, ministries, babies, solutions) we often we envision the outcomes of our situations, imagine the perfect solutions and approach God with our wishes. We wish for a better job, wish we lived in a nicer home, wish the pain subsided, wish for slender bodies, wish for financial stability, wish for __________.

Praying for these things isn't wrong, but these things are not dreams. Wishes don't give us hope, but rather disappointment (in God and in ourselves), when they don't work out according to our plans.

So, if we're supposed to have God-sized dreams, if God's planted his desires into our hearts from the beginning, how do we distinguish dreams from wishes?

Dreams are those ideas that just won't leave you alone. They're often given you during prayer, through a simple thought, a picture, a word spoken over you by someone else. Many times dreams coincide with your talents, your passions, and spiritual gifts. For instance, you may have a dream to reach children from broken homes - to bring them hope and healing - but, you're not sure how that looks. At first you think it's through youth ministry, but that doesn't work out. Years pass and you wonder if you've failed but all along, you've journaled your thoughts, envisioned these kids, experienced more brokenness, forgiveness and healing - spiritual growth. Then, God couples this dream with your talent and gives you an idea for a book. Even though you've never authored anything beyond an article in the church newsletter or the school newspaper, it works. The words flow and the dream-seed is nurtured.

Most often dreams are beyond our means whether in talent, finances, time, etc. This is where God is- wrapped in our impossibilities - unwrapping all his possibilities.

After Gabriel gave Mary the news that she was God's chosen vessel for Emmanuel, (Luke 1)she didn't wish for a different way to bring Jesus into the world, she didn't impose her wishes for a better way on God. Rather, she asked "How will this be since I am still a virgin?" Mary humbly accepted the impossibilities with faith that God's possibilities would bring good things; that he would accomplish this according to his promises, not according to her wishes (Henri Nouwen, Watch for the Light, 2001 Orbis Books).

So, how does that apply to us and our dreams? First, distinguish wishes from God's dreams. Second, relinquish control to God's lead. Third, step out in obedience with eyes and hearts wide open, waiting with faith and hope.

Lord, open our minds and our hearts and align our thoughts with your dreams, today. Teach us to distinguish our wishes from your dreams. Help us to humbly accept your call on our lives,even when the outcome seems full of impossibilities. May we relinquish control. Give us courage with each step of obedience.

Tomorrow we discuss when dreams are beyond our reach.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dreaming God Style

"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..." Ephesians 3:20-12 

In my resolve to exercise more (or start) and eat less starches and sugar I've discovered another area of my life that needs attention: dreaming. I don't mean the unconscious dreams of sleep or the lazy summer cloud-watching day-dreamy thoughts, but rather the dreams hidden inside my heart.

I spend much of my day tasking - cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands- writing's  even a task sometimes, no matter how much I love it. Then I read this verse in Ephesians:

"To him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine..."

Hmmm...imagining. When was the last time I stopped doing and imagined? When have I dreamed impossibilities rather than safe limited possibilities? Clinging to safe I've limited God's amazing power that he says is at work in me (and you).

So here's the deal: along with disciplining myself with exercise, eating less, writing more, I'm adding dreaming bigger, God-sized dreams; dreams that scare the pants off me. Not just to dream for the sake of dreaming or personal accolades but because I don't want to limit God in me.

God says he can do more, dream more and I want to participate in his dreams; I want to partner with God to bring about his purposes.  God calls each of us to something for someone else. He wants to partner with humanity - with us - to bring His change, His healing, His life to others.

So here's the deal: Let's set this week aside to dream. Yea, I  know. Sounds crazy, right? I don't mean ignoring everything cuz that's just not our reality. Take a half hour (or whatever time you have) of quiet and ask, "God, all things aside - where in this crazy world do you want to partner with me? What are your dreams for me, God? Where do I fit?" Take time to listen for God's whispers. Record what you hear. Then, get on with your day - listening with one ear, listening with your heart as you task. If something tugs at you, write it down.

At the end of the week, I'll set aside Thankful Thursday for you! Let's share the dreams God's called out of us right here under comments or contact me here if you'd like privacy. Let's encourage one another for God's kingdom purposes.

"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:4-6

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Chicken Noodle Soup for My Soul

"In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun...It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth."Psalm 19:4, 6

Winter's first cold nips my nose and I breathe refreshing air deep. Behind the steering wheel I drive east - away from town - towards the morning sun and winding country roads. Just me sipping coffee and  my iPhone streaming worship.

I travel over hills, past the barren vineyard, empty, muddied cornfields, bright red barns with feeding cows huddled close and Dairy Farmer bundled in wool, topped with fur-lined cap and ear flaps atop his plow. My mind turns 'round every bend with memories of grape harvest, listening to winds blow through tall corn and stopping with my wee ones to watch the cows' tails switch.

This was the way to Grandmother's house - still is. But, today I travel the road alone - no grandchildren in tow - over the river, through the woods. Around every bend and turn I wonder how many times I've traveled there and how many more times will I travel?

The warmth inside her home rushes at me all at once and the reality of today comes with it. With every fold and tuck of the sheets, every swipe of the dust cloth, every push and pull of the vacuum I whisper, "Thank you, Jesus for my mom and dad. Thank you, Jesus for today and for however many tomorrows we can share."

And now I'm home from Grandmother's house, my soul wrapped in the warmth of today's new memory - the sweet conversations, Mom's homemade chicken noodle soup, Dad's hug, and a wave goodbye from the picture window.

On this Thankful Thursday, I'm grateful for
  • Days framed in love 
  • Parents to enjoy
  • Hands to serve
  • Mom's chicken noodle soup
  • Dad's hugs
  • Country roads
  • Farmers wrapped in wool
  • Cows huddled close
  • Vineyards  
  • Snapshot memories
  • Hot coffee
What's your framed-in-love kind of day look like?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Beginnings

"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" Lamentations 3:22b-23 (NIV).

Snow accumulates one beautiful snowflake at a time until the landscape shines with God's glory after the storm. He builds upon our life, one new experience at at time, to reveal his glory through us. I invite you to join me in the midst of these new experiences (not just as a reader but as a participant, if you'd like):

At {Re}fresh, a debut blog hosted by Wellspring Church, I'm writing on small beginings. God planted an abundance of writers in this congregation, for which I feel humbled and honored to join in worship each week. Today, a few of us step out in faith and obedience, sharing our words of encouragement with our fellow worshipers and curious readers.

{Re}fresh is a weekly blog, currently authored by four contributors. Our prayer is that our words penned in prayer may spur you toward a deeper relationship with Christ.

Hop over to Encouragement Cafe to read my guest post Deep Dark Waters: Take Heart! based on John 16:33, "Jesus says, 'In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Amen.

Finally, next Monday, January 9th, the Writers Group at Wellspring launches! If you live near central Connecticut and are a writer or aspiring writer, 18 years old or more, you're invited to join us at Wellspring Church, 222 Lincoln St., Berlin, CT from 7 pm to 9 pm. Please contact me for details by clicking here.

What new beginnings do you see on your horizon?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I Surrender

"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always"
Psalm 105:4 (NIV).

Tempted to list a bunch of resolutions for the new year, I ponder life's themes from 2011: small beginnings and confidence. I don't step into 2012 (or any year) with a clean slate. What I learned from last year, the year before that and the one before that, follows me. In fact, all life's lessons follow me like Peter Pan's shadow attached with needle and thread to the soles of my feet.

I can't separate the past from whom I am now or whom I want to become by the end of 2012, for the past shapes me and influences my future. I know what needs shedding, changing, and transforming: a few unwanted pounds, negative self-talk, doubting, unprecedented fear, to name a few. I know what's worth keeping and nurturing: daily solitude with my Lord, date nights, family time, a regular writing schedule and writing goals. 

Generally, I know where I'm headed - the specifics that lie between the past and December 31, 2012 remain a mystery. It's this unknown territory that I must surrender and accept at the same time. No one can control or resolve to do better when life surprises us with the unexpected, never-before-experienced situations.

So, before it all happens, I surrender and pray that where I've been prepared me, my heart and my mind for what's ahead. One thing I know, the God who has been faithful to carry me through the difficulties of the past, filled me with peace, provided for all my needs will be faithful for whatever the new year holds.  

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

What has your Peter Pan shadow attached to the souls of your feet? How has the past shaped your "now"? your future? Do you know the good that needs nurturing and the negative that needs shedding? Are  you comfortable surrendering the unknown?

May we covet to pray for one another this year, as the Lord leads? I'd be honored to pray with you. Feel free to leave a comment, a prayer request or private message me at d.aldrich@snet.net or on Facebook.

God's richest blessings for 2012!


Monday, January 2, 2012

Praise Gone Mute

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’"
Mark 12:30
With no voice, how was I to praise? What sweet sound of worship could I offer? I stood in awkward silence amongst my family in a crowded sanctuary dressed in reds and greens, wanting with all my heart to lift my voice in praise. But the sacrifice had already been offered; my voice ̶ fallen victim to seasonal laryngitis.

“What do I have to offer you, my God and my King on this silent night?” I begged.
 Clearing my throat, I squeaked out a string of monotone harmonies to which my concerned three-year-old granddaughter asked, “Grams? Why does your voice sound so funny?” If her ears cringed from my singing laryngitis, I knew it I’d better stop before those directly in front of us turned ‘round with pitiful smiles.

Again, I asked, “What do I have to offer you, my God? How do I praise you with muted voice?”

The choir stood close while we sat quiet ̶ listening. And then, His Spirit moved; swept over me and through the room swelling hearts until those seeking were filled with in audible praise. You could see it in our faces, read it in our movement, almost touch it-God with us. 

Worship is more than singing, more than a song and a voice. God created us with bodies, minds, and spirits and asks us to worship Him with all our heart, our soul, our mind, and strength. And when we do, He draws near and we experience God with us.

When we find ourselves limited either physically, emotionally, or spiritually, God says, “I’m limitless. Find a way to worship me from where you are (even in silence) and I will meet you there.”