Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Why is saying "thank you" so difficult?

Image by petalouda62
"Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?" Romans 8:32 (NLT)

Her petite frame bent low, worn from nearly a century of living. Small in stature but oh, her heart - full and generous and always giving - barely containable. One could never out-give her, never repay her. "Just say thank-you, that's all," she'd say.

Open hands to receive and a grateful heart is all she asked in return. She gave what we couldn't earn. She gave more than we deserved. All because she loved - delighted in providing for others. And today, nearly 14 years since her passing, my heart spills gratitude; not for the gifts but for the giver.

Sarah Young, in Jesus Calling reminds us, "Sometimes {God's} children hesitate to receive {His} good gifts with open hands.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Rhythm of Transformation: the Art of Waiting

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

 It stood up to infant artwork, toddler hand prints, foot scrapes, furniture nicks and vacuum mishaps. Ready and armed with a scraper in one hand and half and half (not the cream but the potent vinegar and water mixture that promises to melt the toughest glue) in the other hand I felt invincible and the rhythm of stripping wallpaper began.

Spritz, spritz, scrape, peel. Spritz, spritz, scrape, peel.

It wasn't quite the waltz I imagined.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Sad Sandwich

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
 for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:29-10 NIV

The phone rings and I take a deep breath wondering who's on the other end. Is it the insurance company inquiring about our snow damage? Is it my husband asking for help at the office? Is it the nursing home or my mother needing help? Maybe it’s my child needing empathy or advice or simply my grandkids asking for a special outing?

At my weakest moments when the fatigue of caring for everyone else’s needs wreaks havoc with my emotions, I fall into my husband’s arms weeping. "Where do we turn? Who's there to care for us?"

Members of the sandwich generation are everywhere. I see them on Facebook, at the grocery store, in the doctor’s office; adult children with an aging parent on one arm and their grandchildren on the other. Our parents are living longer, thanks to better nutrition and modern medicine—three and four generations needing support simultaneously. So, just when we’re starting to enjoy our empty nests, our parents, children and grandchildren all need us, too. Some days caring for the older and younger generations can leave me feeling like a soggy tuna fish sandwich!

With so many people tugging at our shirtsleeves how do we keep our sanity and build healthy boundaries for our personal lives and marriage?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Changing Up the Daily Grind

I like coffee. More so in the cooler months of fall and winter than through the warmer spring and summer months. But one thing I've noticed of late, I like to change up my daily grind to coincide with the changing season. 79787320_deOc43dcse_CC BY-ND 2.0
For instance, in the warmer seasons, I prefer the light, fruity flavor and scent of blueberry coffee. I don't know, maybe it's good marketing or good aroma therapy, but it reminds me of summer as a kid, eating fists full of wild blueberries from my grandfather's farm.

In the fall, of course I've fallen for the ever-popular pumpkin spice or salted caramel flavors. Who doesn't want to be reminded of sitting in a pumpkin patch or biting into a caramel apple at the local fair minus all those sugary calories?

And winter? Well, there's the holiday blends that brew up memories of cinnamon sticks and Christmas sugar cookies that seem to carry you straight through the worst blizzards and comfort your soul.

Well, you get the idea.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

3 Steps to Scheduling a Soul-Cation

Image by Cristian
CC BY-ND 2.0
I anticipate summer all year, yearning for sunny days and warm temps when I can throw off my jacket, fling off my shoes and plant my feet on the cool green grass of my back yard, or bury them under the hot sand of the seashore. or swing them off the side of shade-covered hammock.

Summer's when I reacquaint myself with nature, close up; when I dig in the rich soil of my vegetable garden and smell the sweet scents of the phlox growing by my back deck.

It's when my work seems more like play and the daylight hours linger long enough to make me tired. A good tired. A tired that says, "That was a good days work," or "You played hard today."

Summer rejuvenates and revives me and reminds me I'm part of something bigger.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Afraid to Die

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13 NIV

She admitted her greatest fear. Whispered it in my ear right there amid a thousand women.
I’m afraid to die.

More than that, she feared she wasn’t “saved enough”, that God’s grace wasn’t “big enough” for all the bad she’d done.

My heart broke right there. Oh, the lies Satan wove into the heart of this precious eighty-something-year-old woman to convince her that her sins were too big and God’s grace was too small.

If we’re honest, sometimes we’re convinced of the same, aren’t we? We’re afraid to die. We compare our sins with another or rate our sins on a scale of 1-10 thinking that our sins are too big for God’s grace.

But the reality is, Christ overcame all sin, no matter how big or small, and for believers in Christ, no sin is counted against him.

God’s grace covers all sin and covers anyone who calls upon the name of Jesus, no matter what she’s done in the past.
For Scripture tells us plainly,
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24 NIV
There is nothing we can do to earn God’s salvation. It’s a gift freely offered by God through the shed blood of His only Son, Jesus, who died once for the salvation of all. All we need do is:
declare with your (our) mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you (we) will be saved. (emphasis mine) Romans 10:9 NIV

I cupped the tear-stained face of this precious woman. She reassured me she’d asked Jesus to forgive her sins many times. So I looked her in the eyes and said,
There is nothing you’ve done that God cannot forgive. There is nothing you can ever do that God will love you less. He is for you. He will never leave you or forsake you. He is with you always.
There are times we all need that reassurance. We need to stop managing our sin or the sins of others, and live in the victory of the cross and the empty tomb! Jesus is alive! He is risen!

Our sins (every single one) have been accounted for once and for all. If we believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord, then we are justified, made right before God for all of eternity.

How would we live our lives differently if we unburdened ourselves from our past sins and lived from eternity’s perspective?

If we lived in the present, knowing we are fully loved by our Papa-God, embracing ourselves and one another through the eyes of Jesus? What if we truly believed no sin is too big and God’s grace covers all?
Papa-God, no one loves us as fully as You do, flaws and all. You see us only through the eyes of Jesus, Your Son, our Savior, who paid the price for our sins once and for all.  Help us to see ourselves and those around us through His eyes. May we start living the victorious life through Jesus Christ, where Your grace covers all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

One Passionate Prayer

Image by Eelke
CC BY-ND 2.0

Hearing only chunks of their phone conversation set my adrenaline running.

"Accident. Car hydroplaned. Rolled over. Car is toast. I'm okay. Thank God for German engineering. State police."

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Refrigerator Rites

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18

Our downstairs reeked of sweaty boys, Mountain Dew, pizza, and Doritos from their all-night LAN party--the male version of a slumber party where they eat, belch, pass gas, laugh, cheer, scream, and play online computer games until dawn. Our dining room looked like NASA's control room, (thanks to my techie husband), where testosterone-driven boys, connected by power cords and flashing screens, fixed their eyes on other-world action and threw themselves into the game.

We only had four rules:
  1. Wear headphones after midnight
  2. Keep the noise to a dull roar
  3. No one leaves the house except with a parent
  4. Help yourselves to anything in the refrigerator
Believe it or not, the last rule was the hardest for them to follow. To some, refrigerator rites were almost as personal as snooping through someones dresser drawers; you just didn't rummage around another person's refrigerator and help yourself to their food. But, this rite served two purposes in our home, and we enforced it: First, it relieved me from hostess duty. Second, and most important, it made the boys feel comfortable, like they were at home.

A few of these guys grew up fatherless and I knew what that felt like. I knew how important it was to have a safe place to escape the stress of a broken home--even if it was just for a few hours; a place where they could participate in a whole and healthy family--where two parents lived happily under one roof. Refrigerator rites declare "You're part of the family, part of the whole."

God offers us refrigerator rites, too. He adopts us as his own children (purchased by the blood of Jesus) and says, "You're part of the family. What's mine is yours. Help yourselves." But how many of us shy away, feel like we're eating a piece of forbidden fruit if we take anything from God's refrigerator? Maybe growing up without a daddy makes it awkward at first? We might need more time growing comfortable sharing the same bag of chips before we help ourselves to the last bagel without asking.

One morning after seven years of all-night LAN parties, I found a dollar and a note pinned to my 'frige. It read, "Dear Mrs. Aaron's Mom, Sorry, I ate your last bagel. Here's a dollar. Ben." I chuckled and gave him back the dollar.

Maybe we're like Ben, uncomfortable taking something from God without offering payment, knowing the value of what God's offering. 

Help us to simply accept our place in your family through the blood of your Son, Jesus. May we learn that there is no other payment necessary to find a place around your table. Help us to spend more time with you so until sitting in your presence feels like home--enough like home that we can help ourselves to anything in your refrigerator. Amen.