Thursday, June 28, 2012

Walking in the Dark

"Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:5 NKJV

Mom taught me how to navigate through the dark.

She was (and still is) an early riser - like 4 AM early. I've always like the mornings, but not that early and certainly not in highschool when studying and a part-time job pushed me past midnight. So to compensate for our opposite schedules, we learned to maneuver around our tiny, two bedroom apartment with only natural light or darkness, especially when the other was sleeping. 

Walking in the dark is slow going at first as you train your other senses to be your eyes. But then, when you've mastered the traffic pattern - commited it to memory - you start picking up speed and it's almost as easy as walking in the light.

But, you do miss the light - being able to see far ahead.

Right now, I'm feeling my way around in the dark, seeing only shadows, and I'm kinda missing the bright lights. Headed to another writer's conference in July carrying the same book in my sachel as the year before - the one I know God's commissioned me to write - the story that tells how God healed my wounded heart and freed me up inside and out, where God offers that freedom trail to other sisters - I'm hungry for more light. 

I've spent the year growing up in the dark, committing God's ways to memory, honing my senses to hear His footsteps and look for shadows of His presence so I might follow His lead, and move a little further down the trail.

In Psalm 119:105, David writes:

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."

We don't have to see far ahead if we stay in close relationship with our heavenly Father, learn to trust him. His word, His promises will shed just enough light on our path, like a small lamp or a candle, that we won't trip. He promises that if we commit our way (our hopes, our dreams) to Him and His purposes, He will make it come to pass.

At last year's conference, God set this lesson before me: "Do not despise the small beginnings." And it's been a year of just that - small beginnings that when strung together form a long path that leads toward the bigger goal. In the midst of small beginings we get to feel our way through the dark slowly and safely until we're moving almost as easily as we do in the light.

Do you ever feel like you're walking around in the dark? What are some lessons God's teaching you as you walk in the dark? What promises has He light your path with that keep you trusting and moving forward?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Distracted at the Drive-In

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:3-4 

Packed with cars lined sided-by-side for endless rows, we backed our truck between two cars, just right of center of the drive-in movie screen. The first warm summer weekend draws the crowds early giving everyone ample time to settle-in.

Like a mini campground people  hoist themselves up into their truck beds, onto their car roof tops, or near their open hatchbacks and create their own outdoor oasis. They come fully equipped with beach chairs, blankets, bug repellent, sweatshirts, coolers of munchies, mugs of coffee or soda, and  a variety of preshow entertainment - anything from card games and board games to frisbies and footballs, newspapers and books. The Red Sox game softly echoes through the lot as we all anticipate nightfall and the start of JAWS. (We live in New England, what would you expect?).

As darkness crouches all around the crescent moon rises front and center above the screen, silhouetting the trees against the midnight-blue sky. The countdown begins and the images flicker against the screen luring our attention away from still life and into the action.

But that beautiful moon distracted me - captured my attention - until it disappeared behind the horizon. And I thought, is that what it's like for God when He watches us? Do we captivate His attention even when there's so much action all around us?

"The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God." Psalm 14:2

Scripture says God searches the whole earth, looking for those who seek His face. Isn't that like us with our children or our grandchildren? We could be in a huge crowd with lots going on, but somehow we just can't keep our eyes off them. We love recognizing our likeness in them and how it plays out in their personalities, their physical characteristics and interests. Why would it be any different with God? We are his creation, his children, after all.  

When the world gets loud and distracting and we feel lost in the crowd, remind us how mindful you are of us; how captivated you are by our beauty - your creation. Draw our attention to you that we might seek your face and find you. Amen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Caution: Rip Tides

Sunday was the Sabbath but I got caught up in the toil, the prepping, the cooking, and in the middle of all that do-ing I sliced my finger wide open, spilling red. Hot tears ran down my cheeks as cool water washed over the wound, confirming my need to stop and rest.

It's that blood dripping and sting in our eyes that cuts through us soul deep. Pain awakens our hearts to the need and tears flow straight into God's river of grace where God meets us and asks us to rest and linger awhile.

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will not be shaken." Psalm 62:5-6

Yes, these are the exact words I opened to after my sweet husband sent me away in the midst of unmade salads and tears. God knew exactly what I needed to hear and called me away from all the do-ing, all that tasking to just be with Him - abide with Him - center myself in Him.

So often we get distracted by the noble things like husbands, children, tidy houses, perfect meals, ministry, and passions or jobs well done. We focus on pleasing those around us because they're tangible flesh-and-blood and truthfully, when we spend time alone with God, it looks like we're not do-ing anything at all! So we allow the approval of others to pull us along like a rip-tide; we don't know it's there until we're caught up and struggling against it and cramping with pain.

If you're there today - struggling against that rip tide - I get it. And, I'm offering you a life raft. Stop all the do-ing and hop on. Leave your lists, all those tasks undone for a few minutes, or a half hour (Gasp! I know, but trust me, it'll all get done) and let yourself find God's river of grace. When you do? When you center your attention on God alone? Rest and peace, hope and life, laughter and joy flow from Him through you and to all those around you. It's not some magic spell God waves over your head, but the calming of His Presence; the reassurance that He's got everything under control. And you'll find, somehow, He does.

My heart rested and fully centered, I returned to the kitchen and found my sink empty, the counters cleared, cupboards closed, and my refrigerator full of salads. I was now ready to enjoy my family and Sabbath rest.

What makes you feel like you're caught up in a rip tide? When do you know it's time to recenter your thoughts on God Presence? What do you at those times? What sort of life boat saves you?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How I Got to Auntie's House

Many ask me how I became a writer and I always answer, "I've always written."

When I was a young girl, I found writing a natural form of expression. I kept journals as early as fifth grade, but I never considered writing professionally until college. I first pursued radio and T. V. journalism, but found news writing boring. Then, I discovered a creative writing class where I learned the power of words; how word choices and their arrangement evoked specific emotions in my readers. Until five years ago, I didn't know what to do with this skill beyond personal journaling.

(Now c'mon over to the Christian Children's Authors blog and read the rest of the story! See ya there.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When You Keep Hitting Walls...Turn Back

"He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers..." Malachi 4:6

We start walking the path set before us gaining confidence around every clearly marked corner toward our destiny. Like obedient children we follow our designated routes. The way seems clear - almost easy - so we pick up speed. But instead of gaining ground, endless miles appear before us and suddenly, out of nowhere, we hit a brick wall. We expend great energy and countless hours looking for ways to maneuver around and over this wall instead of turning back, trying to correct our wrong turn.

Reaching the brink of insanity, thinking we misunderstood our calling, we might give up. Exhausted, we settle - plant ourselves down in our shoe-worn ruts at the base of the great wall and accept mediocrity while wondering how others around us move forward.

Sometimes turning back is God's way of moving us forward and through those brick walls.

Statistics say 48-50% of us grew up in broken, rebellious homes, which means at least 48% of us harbor parent-wounds. Our bleeding hearts create bitter roots that can slow us down, create obstacles that we won't ever get around, no matter how hard we run, until we turn back and let God tend them.

But, it's hard turning back when we perceive everyone else is moving forward. Running backwards, toward our past and finding God in the situation can only be divinely driven. It's when we find ourselves frustrated and hopeless, wondering if God got it all wrong to begin with - this is when we hear God calling us back. He calls us back to turn us around - to face our pain - our fathers, our mothers - not with shame, but forgiveness. He comforts our broken hearts, but asks that we offer freely the forgiveness he gave, to the ones who've caused our pain.

And when we agree - freely forgive as we've been freely forgiven - somehow those walls come down and we are free to walk confidently toward our destiny!

Where are you on this life journey? Are you constantly hitting walls, ready to settle into the well worn ruts where you've exhausted all possibilities trying to get around every obstacle? Maybe God's calling you back, asking you to turn around and face a few unpleasant wounds. Run toward Him and let God comfort and heal you. Then, forgive. You'll never know such freedom!

Abba, Father,
For every sister/brother who's tired of running, exhausted from hitting those same walls and making no forward progress, I pray your gentle arm wrap around them. Comfort their hearts, bind up their wounds and instill divine courage that they may turn back, freely offer forgiveness to those who've caused pain. May you fill their emptiness with your presence and give them peace beyond measure. ~Amen


Monday, June 18, 2012

How Has God Drawn You?

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness." Jeremiah 31:3

An artist draws a self-portrait by looking at their reflection in the mirror. They create their masterpiece from that reflective image, recording its shape, color, shades, and hues simply by what they see. Likewise, when God created us the Bible says he created us in His image (Genesis 1:27). He did not form us, take away or add anything to us other than what His perfect, loving image reflected.

When we look into the mirror, what do we see (if we even bother to look at all)? Do we reflect God's image? Can we find His loving kindness drawn on our hearts? Are God's fingerprints obvious? For most of us, we only see sin's distorted view. It's easier accepting that image because it's staring back at us - the age spots, wrinkles, graying hair, and mid-life plumpness - death, really. But, we weren't created to die. Did you know that?

God created man (and woman) in His image so that He might enjoy relationship with us and us with our Creator-God . He infused a creative purpose and partnership into our DNA that he intended to last forever. But, like God, we were given free will and against God's will, we chose sin, separation, and death (Genesis 3).

Looking through God's mirror we still reflect His image. His offer to partner in Kingdom work remains through His Son, Jesus Christ. I know, it goes against our distorted, sinful nature, but it's the only way to restore our former image.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. " John 3:16

And when we accept God's offer, He transforms our image into His likeness once again and we can witness God's pencil drawings - his fingerprints all over us. It's then we start understanding our Kingdom purpose, how God created us to make a difference simply by reflecting His image in this present world.

How has God drawn you? Can you see His likeness reflected in you?

Sunday, June 17, 2012


"Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12

My father wounds ran deep and coursed through my body like a staff infection - hot, lethal, and unforgiving - until they distorted my father's image and his image in me. For decades, honoring my father simply meant remembering him on Father's Day with a token card and simple gift. Choosing the right card took great effort because there were no verses that spoke my broken-heart language and no illustration that depicted our separation and my desperate need for his love, the way it use to be.

But, God...

Rescued. He offered me a glimpse of my father through His eyes - an image I'll never forget - a whole, forgiven, good man. And God said, "Write these things down." Write down all the goodness you see, because this is how I see your father. Write these thing down. Throw away your false image and whenever your eyes behold your father, remember these things and look at him through my eyes.

When we look through God's eyes grace abounds and forgiveness follows.

Restored. Forgiveness was a slow process - a humble journey towards wholeness - the first step toward healed hearts and restored relationships. Forgiveness did not negate the hurt. It didn't mean I stuffed it away in the back of my closet, but rather chose to let the hurt go and offer grace with healthy heart boundaries. It meant willfully focusing on God's image in my father and honoring my father's image in me.

When we forgive God releases our hearts into our Kingdom purspose.

Released. Forgiveness heals heart wounds and releases us into our creative, God-given purpose. It's not that we don't know what that is all along, but unforgiveness binds our hearts, blocks us from receiving the fullness of that purpose. We suffer near sightedness when we focus on our wounds, but when we allow God's forgiveness to permeate our hearts, we can finally lift our heads and see God's big picture. When we fully receive and offer forgiveness then that abundant life Jesus was talking about becomes our reality: "I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full," John 10:10b

And we... 

Honor. When we're living that abundant life (not a material abundance, but rather a soulful abundance) we're truly living. It's a purposeful life that reflects God's image and creative purpose with traces of our human fathers. Yes, God created us in His image and part of that is partnering in the creative process - making and giving life.

When we honor our fathers and mothers we are ultimately honoring God.

Honor humbles us because it means we hold someone else in higher esteem than ourselves. Despite our troubled past, God commands us to hold our fathers (and mothers) in high regard with respect and integrity. We may not honor their actions, but we can honor their place in our lives. God partnered with our fathers to create us in His image for His purposes. Rather than denying our father's likeness God calls us to honor it and step into our Kingdom purpose through it.

Dad, I honor you for instilling laughter, the love of family, generosity toward strangers, the joy of hospitality, an appreciation for music, and courage to ask and receive forgiveness.

I love you.

Happy Father's Day,


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Where Do I Find God's Presence?

"Jesus said, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20  

I can walk into a certain place or into the presence of someone else and know He's there (or not). I can't tell you what he looks like; the shape of his face, the color of his hair, or the texture of his skin, but I know when I'm in God's Presence - when he's as close as my own breath. But how do I discuss watching for His Presence if I've not beheld his color, texture, or form? How do I make the One I know soul deep recognizable to you?  

How do I introduce you to a someone whose glory shines everywhere if you're looking but who's full faced glory would kill you if you saw him? Who can describe that? And if God's so indescribable, how do I show you where he is? 

One thing I do know - one sure way of finding him? He always shows up at a good party! When we gather together and fill the room with music; when our lips give witness to His goodness and we sing with heartfelt praise, God can't resist that. He never could. 

"The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: 'He is good; his love endures forever.' Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud... for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God." 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14

God's Presence manifests in the praises of His people!

Joy is not a prerequisite to praising him. In fact we're told to praise him during the good times (because all good things come from God) and in the bad times (when the Enemy shakes us up). Whether you believe it or not, God so wants to show you how much he loves you, especially during those times. Praising God in tough times is like making a faith deposit. God will honor your faithfulness and your sacrifice of praise. His Presence will manifest itself in your life through that situation transforming it into something good.

Prepare your heart for worship. Offer a sacrifice of praise, even if it's hard. Earnestly and sincerely seek God's face. Boldly ask him to manifest his presence where you are and shift the atmosphere. As you experience His Presence, rest in it, "watch" it and see where He leads you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When You Need a Bit of Fresh Air

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25

I wouldn't call myself claustrophobic, but I tend to enjoy uncluttered spaces and open windows better than tight, messy, and windowless places. There's nothing more refreshing than opening a window and letting a gentle breeze waft through or more satisfying than prancing through a just-cleaned house without stubbing my baby toes on piled-up messes. You may not relate and that's okay. It's just how I'm wired.

But even with the windows wide open and the messes gone, sometimes I need to step outside of my little world called home and breathe in some fresh air - get around other people and survey the horizon. When I stay put too long, I can lose sight of the big picture or get discouraged when lots of little things go wrong all at once. And then, who's there to pull me out when I'm shut up inside my own four walls? No one but my husband and two cats.

Now don't get me wrong, I adore my husband. He's full of God's wisdom and the first person I run to, but we breathe the same air. When God wants to change my perspective, grab my attention, sometimes it's best He change my environment altogether - get me in a place thick with His Presence.

One such place is my corporate church family. It's more than going to church. It's a place where God meets me in tangible ways - through worship, Biblical teachings, corporate prayer, and personal healing. When we worship corporately God shows up and the entire atmosphere shifts - in the sanctuary and in my soul. I leave refreshed, renewed, encouraged, and sometimes challenged (in a good way). And that's what God intended for His Church. We are meant to meet together to encourage one another and to spur one another on in love and good deeds until Christ returns (Hebrews 10:24).

Other refreshing places thick with God's presence are some of YOUR blogs - when you write with pens and cursors dripping with God's words. You encourage my heart. Deliver God's thoughts for me without even knowing. Sometimes I chuckle, sometimes I cry, but always walk away redirected and mindful of God's love through you. Thank you. There's too many to name, but a few are listed under my favorites. I'm sure I'll be adding more after July's writers conference!

Another place God leads me to is the ocean. I've talked about it before,  but that's where I dump my heart - at the edge of the world. When I feel pent up or overly introspective the ocean serves as my release valve. God seasons my tongue with salty breezes and opens my eyes to His majesty, His creativity, His bigness - and I empty all of me right there - until I walk away renewed.

Where do you go when you need a bit of fresh air?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Keep Your Eyes On the Horizon

"I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep..." Proverbs 8: 27

I hopped aboard that glassbottom boat ready for coral reef exploration, confident in my refusal of the freely offered Dramamine. After thirty minutes of puttering through the narrow water canals framed by Florida Mangrove trees, we finally emerged into the shallow open reef where my eyes fixated on the movement below my feet. Now for anyone who understands the confusion one feels when your eyes fixate on something solid while sitting still on rocking seas, you know what comes next. I turned a bit green.

While my eyes stared at the still, coral reefs through the glass window below my feet, my inner ear registered movement. My brain spun confusion and my stomach churned nausea making me wish I'd swallowed my pride AND that free Dramamine! While my husband relished all the stop-and-go sights I spent the remainder of our adventure on the ship's bow, looking forward - tracking the horizon while slumped over a bag of salty pretzels and sipping bottled water.

On our God-journey, when we're past the shore and out on the rocking seas, we get so caught up in the adventure that often, we take our eyes off the horizon. The horizon is that hope - God's purposeful promise - that aligns our thoughts and our steps with His moving Presence. 

When we lose sight of the horizon three things can happen:
  • Fear overcomes  - we hide below deck too long. We get comfortable in our sanctuary that when God finally calls us on deck we can't handle all that motion.
  • Vision hyper focuses- we try ironing out all the details through high-powered binoculars. We get lost in, even anxious about the details and the "what ifs" until we slump over with worry.
  • Head knowledge - we spend more time gathering head-knowledge and doing the details that we miss God. We lose track of His Presence and where He's leading.
While these debilitating situations may slow us down, there is relief:
  • Seek fresh air - surround yourself with like-minded people (corporate worship/fellowship) who will help dispel your fears and encourage God's dream in your life.
  • Focus on the horizon - keep your eyes looking forward toward the goal, but ever-mindful of God's movement. When He moves, follow, even when it seems contrary to reality.
  • Abide - spend more time being (personal worship) in God's Presence than doing and striving. Take deep breaths of the Holy Spirit and long sips in His Word. Pray continually.
Abba, Heavenly Father,
May we be ever mindful of our God-given dreams because that's what you've planned for us to do since before time began. As we launch into the open waters and get distracted by the rolling waves, remind us to keep our eyes on the horizon, but fix our gaze on your ever moving Presence.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Family Fun & Birthday Surprises

"I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving."
Psalm 69:30

Lately, life's journey included lots of celebration and laughter.
Glad to share the joy.


First Dance Recital


Silly Grandpa blowing bubbles                                          Great Grandpa enjoying life

Pool's Open 


Look who turned 4!


Auntie celebrates M's 6th birthday with a surprise reading of her inspired story to her kindergarten classmates.

I pray, in the midst of busyness and long journeys, we all make time for a bit of celebration, sweet laughter and pursuit of our God-given passions.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Joy: It's Contagious!

"Your God has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." Hebrews 1:9

Have you ever noticed that laughter attracts? How it catches your attention when you first enter a room? You can't help but smile and wonder, "What's so funny?" Laughter lifts our spirits and lightens our hearts.

Occasionally, I spend the weekends with someone who loves laughter.

(Pssst! Grab your hot cup o' coffee or tea and join the joy at Encouragement Cafe. Feel free to leave a comment and browse around. You just might leave with a smile :).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

"But you promised!" she whined, cross-armed and stomping her little feet. Does this sound familiar? As parents, we encounter this reaction when we've unintentionally disappointed our children with broken promises.

Maybe my mother learned by the time I came along or she knew the sting of broken promises all too well, but she never promised me anything. Rather, when I asked for something big, she'd say, "We'll see." And when I pushed for her for a concrete promise, she retorted, "I never make promises I can't keep."

Thinking about that today, I'm not sure a broken promise here and there would be any more disappointing than hopelessness. What's that saying? Nothing hoped for, nothing gained. When you hope for nothing what does the future matter? What keeps you moving forward, improving, and persevering if there's nothing to look forward to?

When God gives a dream, a desire or a passion it comes wrapped in a promise:  

"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 1:6).

God never plants a dream with hopelessness or a "We'll see." He waters our dreams with hope - calling us ever forward - through abiding in Him. It's here, in abiding intimacy that our dreams mature.

For some of us, years pass and dreams remain just that - a dream. Our reality screams hopelessness and we may even shout a cross-armed, foot-stomping, "But, you PROMISED!" heavenward. It's in these moments when we swerve away from home, we must breathe deep, gather our composure and determine to persevere.

Paul says it beautifully in Hebrews 10:35-36:

"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."

Perseverance is more than just hanging onto our dreams by a thread; more than tying a knot in the end of our rope. Perseverance means moving forward in the joy of knowing that what you've hoped for, what God promised will be realized, regardless of what our reality paints. It's living out our faith, knowing that we serve a faithful God who always makes good on His promises.

My prayer for you:  "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).

It would be a priviledge to encourage your God-given dreams. Slip me a note (, a comment? I'd love to pray with you today.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Running After God's Heart

"...the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people." 1 Samuel 13:14

There's something irresistible about a man who runs after God's heart. When he pursues that Garden of Eden relationship - catches God's stride - life is good, falls into step as originally planned. God pursuing man. Man pursuing God. Man leading his family. Heaven on earth.

It's been a long, four-year wilderness journey for my man - God's warrior man - betrayed, manipulated, wrongfully shamed. Suffering battle wounds, he limped along the lonely road of anonymity and around the bend of misplaced purpose. I grew weary tending his wounded heart, wondering if it would ever stop bleeding; wondering if he would catch God's stride again and pursue Him with fervor. I pleaded with God to renew his strength, his boldness, his purpose because there's nothing sadder than a man who stops short of God's fullness.

Healing came in small tidbits and miraculous chunks, but always that nagging question remained, "What's my purpose now, Lord?" And the answer finally came, "Renew your love for Me. Pursue Me. Come away with Me, my warrior." And he ran after God's heart - away from life's distractions and noise, deep inside Canadian woodlands.

Why is this irresistible? Because when a man seeks God's heart, he reflects the fullness of God in everything he does and in every relationship, especially at home. A bit of heaven on earth.

We all lose our way now and then - suffer loss, get battle weary - but when our husbands lose their way, how do we respond? Do we give them space to run after God's heart? What does that look like for you and your husband?

May we all be men and women who run after your heart - reflect the fullness of all your glory in all that we do, in every relationship. But, when we lose our way, become battle weary, wounded and feel betrayed, thank you for being a pursuing God. Thank you for being a God who beckons us to come away. May we be obedient to your voice and run after your heart.