A Courageous Heart

“Search me, God, and know my heart; Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts…” Psalm 139:23 NASB

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”― Mary Anne Radmacher

The Enneagram (pronounced any-a-gram) test. I took it. It is not for the faint of heart because it definitely shows some hard stuff. Really hard. It shows the weaknesses and strengths of nine personality types. There are two books that I recommend, if you’re courageous, that are really helpful. They have a Christian foundation. You are More Than Your Number by Beth and Jeff McCord and The Enneagram of Discernment by Drew Moser, PHD. They will guide you through your type with the very important message of how beloved you are by the Father before any change is attempted.

I see myself and life as always lacking. Type 4w3. That’s me. I own it. My courage comes from being a beloved child of God. Without knowing how much I am loved by the Father, I will never peek into my heart. I don’t always feel beloved but I know I am.

Wounded child vs. beloved child. That’s the bottom line. Living life as beloved or wounded. Those that counsel with the Enneagram drive this home. I could never look inside and attempt positive change without knowing how loved I am by our Father. It takes courage to know and act in faith as beloved. David showed courage in the above verse.

The wounded stuff just happen—life in an imperfect world. Unconscious. Unaware. Childhood stuff. Life is too much! Life is one big scarcity! Life is one big disappointment. A courageous heart is required. With our Father’s help and the Holy Spirit, courageous change takes place. Sometimes just the right person, counselor, pastor, mature Christian keeps us going. Our Father provides so much support with one courageous step. Sometimes just showing up is all we can muster. Thanks okay. Your Father loves you.


To look deeply inside one’s heart is the most courageous thing one can do and it starts by knowing how much we are loved by the Father.  In the Bible it says, ““Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”

The old Hymn, Just as I am, is right! You are beloved. Just as you are.


Dear Father,

Just as we are — unconditionally loved. Because of what Jesus did, we can go on in grace and hope. Please remind us of how beloved we are so we may attempt courageous change. You created us before the foundation of the world. You thought we were a good idea. We can change because you loved us first.



An Open Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV

“Christianity is not the destruction of desire, rather it’s realignment with God’s desire.” David G. Benner

Will power. Self-improvement. Workshops. Retreats. Memorizing scripture. If there’s anything to do to make me more like Jesus, I was up for it. Sometimes I’d be aware and working on what I needed to change and should change like not swearing at the news and something or someone says, “Love your neighbor.”  Ouch! That would definitely take care of the swearing!

Trying hard can become a trap of earning our Father’s love, which we can’t. He already loves us. It can become a trap of ego. It can keep us from being vulnerable and honest with our Father and others. These things can be good things if they flow from an open and loving heart. Want to instead of have to. Upward call instead of naval-gazing.

That’s where the Psalms come into my heart. The 23rd Psalm is rich in relating and loving God. “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” “He leads me beside the still waters.” “He restores my soul.” “He prepares a table in the presence of my enemies.” Yes, we do have enemies. Who is doing the work?  Who has the open heart? This is a difficult thing to grasp and live fully. After all, he’s the creator of everything and we are the creatures. It’s we. We need to be open to our Father’s loving care and companionship. We go to him first because our Father is not a domineering parent. He is the one that loves us unconditionally and completely.

It’s willingness to experience our relationship with our Father. I have never, ever changed a bad habit, a frustrating behavior, taken a risk without failing—several times. So, I go to the Psalms, pour out my heart and let our Father touch it. Transformation takes place. Not all at once. Not always alone. Sometimes just the right person or book comes into my life. Sometimes it’s just the Father and me. I am so grateful for the Father’s love because good things flow and bad things are squeezed out.  My desires become aligned with the Father’s.


Not only did Jesus, God’s only son die for us, but he loves us, guides us, forgives us, teaches us and provides for us. If honest, it’s our Father that transforms us. No, he doesn’t change our personalities. He designed all of us as unique persons with unique talents. It would be boring if we were all the same! He helps and encourages the good things in our personalities. We are in this together. We are in this for the long haul.


Dear Father,

Thank you that you want a relationship with us. A real relationship!  One that encourages us, teaches us, loves us and guides us. Like all relationships, there are dark times and good times, lonely times and celebratory times but all are for good. Thank you for your patience as we learn to know you better. May our desires align with yours.



A Forgiving Heart

“Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
    who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
    that we might learn to fear you.”  Psalm 130:3-4 NLT

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. It may but not always.

Forgiveness does not mean it’s done once and for all. It may but not always.

Forgiveness does not feel good. It may but it leads to peace.

Forgiveness does not mean you were right. It may but not always.

Forgiveness does not dismiss, belittle, condescend your hurt. It hurt! That’s a fact! And we may think we put it behind us and wham! Something triggers us right back to where we were with all the pain and confusion we thought we left behind.

Many years ago I fell in love with a handsome, intelligent, dynamic man. He called himself a Christian. Many women were starstruck by him. I was not. In the beginning any way. We dated. We had wonderful conversations and little gifts—all the things that make a new romantic relationship heavenly. Walking on air and sunshine! Six months in the abuse began. The belittling, the abandonment, the intimidation. I broke up with him—many times because maybe, just maybe, if I love him enough… But I participated in an unknown dance of terror. Last breakup. Then the stalking. I moved from my hometown and started over, with my son, I might add. My roommate was a male because I feared being alone. A few in my new church were lovely. No judgment. Included my son and me in many Church functions. In fact, I put him in the Christian school, which he enjoyed.

However, I was an anxious, traumatized mess. I was functioning quite well but I would jump at loud noise, refuse to go anywhere alone. Finally, I went to a therapist. With lots of work and prayer, healing began because (surprise!) I attracted and kept this man because of patterns in my childhood. A pattern I hoped to fulfill with love. So unaware! Childhood stuff!

I had to forgive myself first. I made horrible decisions in my personal life because I was unaware. But taking myself to our Father, a professional and supportive church friends along with time, the healing began. Have I forgiven this man? Yes. Was there reconciliation? No! Did I find forgiveness for my childhood traumas? Yes. Was there reconciliation? Not really. There were phone calls and limited visits with some tension. I learned my limits. I learned to set boundaries. The dance of terror was ended. Did I forgive once and for all? No. Situations always come up in life to trigger those dark times. But they’re a blessing in disguise, a caution sign. I walk away.


Knowing, deeply knowing how loved we are by our Father, deeply knowing Jesus and his sacrifice, deeply knowing a mature Christian counselor and/or friend makes all the difference in forgiveness. It’s another discovery process along the journey home. And the truth does set us free if we face the misery first.


Dear Father,

Thank you for forgiveness, especially the things “we do not know what we’re doing.” Help us to see that because of your Son, love and grace we can face the dark and unknown with hope. Open our hearts. Open our minds. Open our hands.



A Fearful Heart

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”1 John 4:18

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.

Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.”— Unknown

I included two versions of 1 John 4:18 because fear is torment! Fear is also punishment! Our Father never gives us a spirit of fear or torment.

Remember as a child those beginning moments of learning to swim, ride a bike, ski, skate, drive a car and someone in our lives coached us, stayed with us holding us up? It could’ve been a parent, relative or friend but someone had your back. Someone caught you. Someone upheld you. But you still had to do the work and step out in trust.

That’s how I think of our Father.

Those sleepless nights, those anxious prayers, those glasses of wine or another activity to numb the fear. It’s torment! And then we put on our big girl/big boy panties and bluster through until exhaustion knocks us off our feet. We forget that feelings are not facts.

Our Father has our back. He upholds us with his righteous hand.

So we do the best that we can with prayer and we give it to our father. We may anxiously take back what is scaring us, paralyzing us but we give it back to our Father. We let go and we let our Father take the wheel. Let him drive and you enjoy the journey. Someone once said, “Who’s driving your bus?” Our Father is. Enjoy the discovery of who you are with your Father.


Only one person loves perfectly and it drives out fear.  We learn over and over that feelings are not facts. Where we are is where our Father is too because he promised he would never leave us or forsake us.


Dear Father,

We may not feel your presence, acknowledge your presence or thank you for your presence sometimes but we know you’re with us. Thank you for your love that drives out fear. Help us to know without a doubt that you are with us in the fiery trials, the rivers that threaten to overwhelm us or any circumstance that threatens. It’s easy to remember you and thank you when life is all sunshine, and we do, but now we thank you for your presence when fear strikes us, slaps us, intimidates us because you’re with us then too. A steppingstone to trust and faith.



Who Are You Under Pressure?

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—
 even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 NIV

“Character is who you are under pressure, not when everything’s fine.” Unknown

We know Christ’s character. Pressure shows us ours. Pressure shows us Christ’s.  

It really is easy to be kind, generous, understanding, grateful and pleasant when all is good with my life. That’s not the true Black Sheep Babz picture. Not by a long shot! My problems and character are nothing compared to the description of Jesus’ character. Broke? I become stingier forgetting God supplies all my needs. Lonely? He’s always with me but I demand the feelings of his presence. Criticized? Here comes bitterness focused on the criticizer. Pressure at work? Blame, blame, worry and control. Watching the news in fear and resentment forgetting who’s really in charge is a constant battle.

When grieving the loss of my husband, there was no relief, hope extinguished, isolation and destructive behaviors multiplied. There was no comfort in knowing Christ grieved. The concept of Christ being the resurrection and the life was not grasped. This was the greatest pressure of my life. The pain seemed an eternity. Quick fixes were abundant with no fix for the empty void. What was your Waterloo? Achilles heel? In hindsight, can you see where Christ bore the pressure?


Who am I under pressure? I’m Peter looking at the waves in the middle of the storm and crying, “help me!” Sometimes I’m Doubting Thomas praying, “I believe, help my unbelief!”  Sometimes I’m the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well skirting hard-to-face truths about myself. Sometimes I’m Pilate asking, “what is truth?” Sometimes I’ve grieved deeply with no hope like Martha and Mary when Lazarus died. Sometimes I’ve sold out for money. Sometimes I’ve cast my pearls before swine. Sometimes I’ve sowed seed in harsh and rocky ground. All under pressure. Thank God for grace.



Thank you that we “vessels of clay” have the honor and privilege to “cast all our cares” on you. Jesus demonstrated his love so many times in scripture from washing dirty feet to the most shameful and painful death. All under unfathomable pressure. All within very short hours. He did this so we can walk in newness of life and to encourage his life in others.



Sunshine Christian?

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Two angels came down from heaven. One to rule the world and the other to sweep the street. Both were pleased to serve. Both were honored to serve. There was harmony. There was humility.

Thomas Paine, one of the founders of our country, called some men Sunshine Patriots and Sunshine Soldiers in his work, American Crisis. All show. No go. According to American Revolution Facts, there were only 48,000 soldiers and no more than 13,000 at a time in battle. There is David and Goliath in the Bible too. They overcame.

We’re going through some very scary times in our country. The latest report says the average family is paying up to $5,000 more a year just for gasoline. Then there’s the grocery bill, taxes, utilities—they’re up too!  No baby formula. Threats of war. The shooting in Texas. I could list more.

What is the message? We humble ourselves. We become Sonshine Christians.

We matter tremendously to our Father. He promises to heal our land.

“We can overcome.” We have overcome many scary and depraved times in our homes, communities and country. We will again if we humble ourselves.


No matter how difficult the challenges, no matter how painful, Christians are still up to the challenge. Our Father expects this and helps us to do so. We still feed the hungry. We still clothe the naked. We still dry the tears and counsel those who have lost much. We still comfort the sick. We still assure the dying. We still pray. We still hold to certain truths. We still have hope. Our work is eternal but also affects this very day and those in our lives. We do these things for our Lord. Our inheritance is sure.

The saying that a snowflake by itself is harmless, but a whole bunch banded together can stop traffic is true. Mothers who need formula have banded together to save hungry newborns. Parents are becoming involved in their children’s education.


Dear Father,

Thank you for our daily bread. Thank you for bringing us through another mystery. Thank you for the promise you will never abandon us. Thank you that we have each other. Thank you for the victory if we humble ourselves.




Christianity is Learning to Love

“Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” Matthew 22:34 NIV

“When people hurt us, it helps us to learn how to let go of wanting them to love us. It helps us to learn how to love purely.”
― Donna Goddard, Love’s Longing

The problem is failure, loss, shame, trauma and all sorts of painful experiences stop us. Who would love with all that? No one. Have you filled the void with stuff, drugs, food?  In Matthew, Jesus was filled with compassion because the crowed was harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.  That’s us, isn’t it?

Our Father knows our stories. Love demands courage and vulnerability. The cross proves this. The Prodigal Son story proves this. The transformation of Paul from a murderer to writing the most famous love chapter in the Bible. The rescue of a thief on a cross. A prostitute.  The Book of Ruth. The Bible is full of love stories. Our story is a love story too.

We start with our Father. If we make a small attempt to know him, he rushes in to save. He rushes in to love. Love is always action. There may be good feelings right away or they may catch up to us after some time. We love because he first loved us. Our spiritual journey brings love lessons, wrestling matches and healing but all is to be loved and then to love others. It’s the whole point.

If we don’t learn to love ourselves and others, how will we act with others in heaven?


Is love knowledge? Is it faith that moves mountains? Is it giving everything to charity? It’s action for sure, but motives? Is it because I love the Father or I want to look good? Sometimes it’s people-pleasing?

We learn to love. Sometimes passionately and sometimes with hurt or numb feelings. But love we must.

One thing is sure: All things will pass away except love.


Dear Father,

Thank you that you made us and thank you for your love. It’s so difficult, it seems, to love when the world is a mess, personal problems paralyze and health is fading but we know it’s the foremost commandment. Being a Sunshine Christian is easy. Following your son is difficult. Keep loving us so we may bring more to you and watch love multiply. Love is what we will be doing forever.



He Delights In You

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he takes delight in his way.” Psalm 37:23

“Cowards are cruel, but the brave love mercy and delight to save.” John Gay

Your peek into your sleeping child’s room and you are mesmerized by the sight of such innocence. You delight in your child.

An elderly man gently assists his wife on a twilight walk. He delights in his wife.

A beautiful rose is handled by the novice gardener drinking in the scent. The gardener delights in the rose.

A couple hold hands at a coffee shop drinking in the closeness and  good fortune of each other. They delight in their relationship.

You giggle at the antics of your rescue dog. You delight in such a simple love.

And our Father delights in us. More than we can comprehend. Sometimes we feel his delight while going about our day and gratitude wells up in us from head to toe. There’s nothing on Earth that compares. Sometimes a lovely surprise welcomes our day. Sometimes we believe that we are loved no matter what. A delightful gift from our Father. And sometimes we mess up royally. Our Father delights in pouring more grace on us.

And we delight in our Father.

We thank him every day.

We meditate on his word, creation and those he has given us.

We love others more easily because we delight in our Father’s creation.

We delight in the Lord and he gives us our heart’s desire. Our desires change into His.

We remember all the rescues he has done in our life leading to our salvation.

We become a little bit closer to being like his son. We delight in this transformation, though painful at times.


The Psalms are filled with praise, confidence, healing, promise and delight. Rich in feeling and wisdom. The Psalms help and teach us to delight in our Father should we be at a loss for words. The Psalms also help us to delight in ourselves—“We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” The Holy Spirit nudges our delight too. Trust this.


Dear Father,

Our delight may not be as beautiful or inspiring as the Psalms. We may be childlike in expressing our delight in you, but maybe that’s the point. Thank you that when we’re sleeping, working, successful or mired in pain, you delight in us now and forever.



What if You Hadn’t Been Born?

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB

“The moment the focus of your life shifts from your badness to his goodness, the questions becomes not “What have I done?” but “What can He do?” John R. Claypool, Learning to Forgive Ourselves.

It’s a Wonderful Life is so popular because the main character, George Bailey, gets to see and experience life if he hadn’t been born. A privilege indeed! On the other hand, Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, experiences his tattered, selfish life and all the missed opportunities of a bitter heart. Both were renewed to become better. Their station in life didn’t change. They did.

Our Father tells us in Ephesians 2:8-10 that he prepared in advance the good works we do. Wow! Powerful! Affirming! Validating! A gift! Purpose!

Until the daily grind, the grouchy boss, the critical parent, the bounced check, the troubled child penetrates our heart and joy is gone. Poof! Empty void. Condemning voice. Good works?

Yes. Because our Father helps us with these challenges. He teaches us. He loves us. He pours grace all over us. And somewhere along the way, we get it. We see the good works our Father gave us in advance. We feel blessed. We feel validated. We have purpose. We see how our Father knows best. Then we help another with love, generosity and compassion.


We are either George Baily or Ebenezer Scrooge. We are the shamed Prodigal Son or the Prodigal’s stay-at-home, resentful brother. Blinded. But our Father opens our eyes and hearts through the Holy Spirit. True, it may be a book, person or article that gets our attention, but it’s not a coincidence. Little signposts, gentle voice, encouraging nudge starts our good works.


Dear Father,

Thank you for giving us good works in advance. We have purpose. We grow. We overcome. We love. Remind and show us what we are to do today with the gifts you have given us for your purpose.



I Do This–I Don’t Do That

I Do This–I Don’t Do That

“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” John 3:21 NASB 1995

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” Carl Gustav Jung

I am a mom. Do you know that I am by what I say or what I do? Does it match with what you see? Anyone can reproduce. But commitment? That’s a whole different animal. And it takes practice every day.

When I became a mom, I was a beginner. I did some things wrong (my son survived) and I did many things correctly. All was done in love. I did mom things like read to him, fed him, listened to him, hugged him. And sometimes I yelled at him, ignored him, said hurtful things. I don’t do that a lot less. Practice.

Are you like this?

You go to work. You don’t play hooky.

You are faithful to your spouse. You don’t flirt with others. Online or at the office.

You pay your bills. You don’t ignore your debts. You negotiate and communicate with your lender.

I’m not trying to be a sugary, do-gooder. Not by any means! Most all the things I do took practice, discipline, love, grace from others and God. Still do. I love the AA quote: “Progress. Not perfection.”

Here’s some others we may have done:

We got drunk. We didn’t care.

Spent big dollars. The item did not make us happy.

We gossiped. We did not feel good about it.

We are what we do. We are what we practice.

And oh so slowly and gently, our Father gives us another picture of who we are and what we do. And we stumble, practice and learn to do the things our Father wants us to do. “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.” Romans 5:20 NLT

Thank heaven for grace!


“By their fruit, you will know them,” Jesus said. It was true then. It’s true now. From the leadership of our nation to our homes, communities and work, our fruit shouts the truth. The other saying my mom drilled into me is, “Actions speak louder than words.” Quite frankly, I’m tired of do-nothing words.

We are what we do. We are what we practice. More importantly when we overcome, others see it has been done by God, our Father. We want what our Father wants. So, we do (practice) what our Father wants. What our Father wants is always good.


Dear Father,

Thank you for your son, the perfect example for us to follow. Thank you for grace so we can haltingly, timidly and hopefully practice his example. It was all done in love. Love is a verb. Be with us as we practice. Encourage our baby steps. Let others see it was done by you.



What Would I Be Doing If This Hadn’t happened?

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18 ESV

“Faith is the only force that can hold you fast at all times.” Lailah Gifty Akita

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

Your child has a bad report from school.

You received bad health news.

Your month has run out of money.

You had an explosive argument with your sweetie.

A letter from the IRS.

There’s a story about a woman who looked out the window and saw her pastor coming up the walkway. She knew it would be bad news about her husband who was serving in the army. She proceeded to put on the coffee and place cookies on the plate. She answered the door and pleasantly invited the pastor in and to have a privileged spot at her kitchen table.

“You know I have bad news,” he said.

“Yes, I know.”

“Then why are you making coffee and being so hospitable?” the Pastor asked.

“Because this is what I’d be doing today with a lovely visitor like you.”

There’s wisdom in this. When something blindsides us, rocks our world and knocks us for a loop, sometimes the ordinary tasks anchor us. They make room for a “still, small voice” to keep us sane. To help us adjust to the unexpected. To breathe. To say a quick prayer. To keep our dignity intact.

Do you go for a daily walk? Do it anyway.

Work out at the gym? Do it anyway.

Work in your garden? Do it anyway.

Go for coffee with a friend? Do it anyway.

The situation will still be there but you’ll be better prepared.

I’m not saying that this fixes the unexpected. It’s a way of calming and preparing the mind and heart for what’s next. And our Father is always with us and will let light in.


There will always be trials, struggles, disappointments in this life but there are comforting and instructive experiences too. May we remember what would we be doing when the unexpected times come. Let some sanity and light that comes from the regular, daily things. Keep your appointment with your routine and your Father. There’s something reassuring in this.


Dear Father,

We overlook the power in keeping with the every day habits and experiences in our day. They so often are the very things that keep us anchored in the midst of the unexpected. We take them for granted. Please keep us anchored in you today.



Art in the  Broken

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”- Vance Havner

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of taking broken pottery and repairing it with gold and other metals. I just learned this! Searching the internet for images of this art was so rewarding, in fact, the broken and repaired items were more beautiful than the original. Do a search in your spare time. It’s marvelous!

And that’s us!

Thanks be to our Father.

My grandmother lost her leg because of a terrible disease. I was with her when the hammer came down and the doctor said, “Your leg must be removed or you will die from the infection.” She said she knew this was coming and with anxious acceptance, the leg was removed. She was in her mid-60’s. She did the exercises to build upper arm strength. She worked hard at her rehabilitation. She stumbled on her new prosthetic until she mastered it. And other disabled patients marveled at her determination. They were inspired. Did she notice? Not really, but she visited with them about their families, their stories and found something personally encouraging to say to each. I was the proud chauffeur to get Grams to her appointments. She had pure gold holding her together. She was even more beautiful!

I bet you are too.


We’re all broken and flawed, but our Father sees us as his masterpiece with a special project we are specifically made to do. We are the pottery. Our Father is the potter. In partnership, he is and we are “able to do more than we can ask or think,” things for his kingdom and our coworkers, families and even strangers. Broken people who know they’re broken are so approachable. Broken people who are repaired by their heavenly Father are irresistible!


Dear Father,

Thank you for the art in us and others. Help us to see it deeply with wonder and with an open heart. We are all broken. Your son was broken for us. The most beautiful of all.



Sifted Like Wheat

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32

“Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.” Serenity Prayer

Sometimes it’s not consequences, disciplines, punishments for our actions that rip through our heart and soul like a tornado. We can do everything to the best of our ability, our motives are right, prayers are sincere, support is in place, hope and faith are ours and everything still falls apart. Darkness overtakes us. Could it be the Father of All Lies, the Murderer from the Beginning, the Power of the Air who attacks with an unmerciful vengeance? With a mocking snarl and a shout, “Gotcha!”

Well, apparently Peter was sifted like wheat. He was so brave and protective of his Lord when he cut off the ear of a Roman soldier at Jesus’ arrest. Hours later, Peter sobbed in despair because of his denials of Jesus. He ran from those who recognized him after the rooster crowed. He was sifted like wheat.

I was sifted like wheat when my husband became terminally ill and died. I was sifted like wheat when my son was in trouble. My faith did seem to fail. It sputtered. It left me. It mocked me. I turned over and over in my bed at night. “Tears were my food,” as the Psalmist said. I did not, would not, could not take this sinful world as it is. Truth is, I still don’t. I’m still appalled by the world.

Three things:

  1. Satan asked to sift Peter like wheat. Satan needed permission to harass and torment Peter from the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings. This is true for me and true for you. It blows our world apart. All seems lost.
  • Jesus prays for us. When all seems gone, friends are ghosts, desperate and toxic behaviors are evident, Jesus prays for us.
  • When we have recovered, we are to strengthen our brothers. The world is a hostile place. Our enemy, even more so. But Jesus prays for us.


Only in hindsight do I see Jesus’ rescue. The pain was too great! Looking at Peter’s life and mission after his great trial, I see how he became such an integral part of the church, the rock, the foundation. His letters are life-saving, inspiring and instructive. He died a martyr’s death, willingly and humbly. So, when all we can do is hang on, remember Jesus prays for you. Someday you will comfort and encourage others, but until then, take comfort in Jesus’ personal, attentive prayers and they’re just for you.


Dear Father,

Thank you that you are with us always and you pray for us. You know that on our journey home there are times when words escape us, faith seems gone, friends are absent but your son prays for us. We know those prayers are always answered. We thank you for the Holy Spirit who prays with deep groanings for us. Help us to hang on. Help us to strengthen our brothers and sisters.



What’s Your Why?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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 11:28-30 NIV

“Great minds have purposes, others have wishes.” – Washington Irving

Jesus’ purpose was to seek and save the lost. He made 12 rag-tag disciples fishers of men. He said to love one another. His why was so the world would know they were his disciples. He made this rag-tag disciple one too.

But first… I became a Christian because I was a hopeless mess! I wanted to be saved from damnation and from myself. I wanted to fix my life and enjoy a lovely life. No more drama, toxic people, destructive choices. Please, Jesus, take my life and fix it. My why was about me. Most people start there—me. I want that rest. Paul says we were immature, still on milk like newborns. I think we all start there. We’re new. We’re beginners and God’s grace covers helps us grow from there.

But then persecutions come. Doubts overcome us. We may question what our Father is doing. You know that rocky, weedy, dried up path? We get in his way and do it our way. It may seem like the right way, feel like the right way, but eventually it’s a big let-down.  We start becoming a victim of others, things, our own minds.

Our Father’s why is different than ours. Our Father so loves us he wants to transform us into being like his son. Like the wise parent that he is, he develops our character. He guides us. He disciplines us. The why, again, is that we love one another so that the world may know we are his disciples. Attraction not promotion.


God’s why is for us to love one another. My why must be tranformed into his why. Do we do this at work? Yes. Do we do this for family? Yes. Stranger? Yes. Perfectly? No. The disciples didn’t either. They had to learn too. No matter what our goals, hopes and dreams are, the purpose must be love. Love of the Father, ourselves and others so that the world will know we are our Father’s. It is the most difficult to do but reaps the greatest rewards here and in heaven. His why, his desire becomes our desire.


Dear Father,

Thank you for your why. You love us beyond all that we could ask or think. We celebrate, especially this time of year, the love your son had for us including torture and death so that we may live. Help us, as we set goals, achieve, work and even dream that our why is in line with yours. Our desires become your desires now and eternally.



Choosing Your Absence

“But he withdrew himself in the deserts and prayed.” Luke 5:16 ERV

“Choose your absence so that your presence will have more impact.” — Emily P. Freeman

Sometimes I withdraw to breathe. Sometimes I withdraw to cry. Sometimes I withdraw to play! Sometimes I withdraw to meditate and pray. These are healthy and growth-enhancing times—not isolation. It’s a positive choice. I can tell because when I rejoin life, I participate in life more fully. I have more to give. I don’t compare myself with others. I have spiritual, emotional and physical energy. That’s presence.

Isolation is not life-enhancing. Isolation is not living fully. It’s a compulsion. The presence, when with others, is like Eeyore, the depressed donkey of Winnie-the-Pooh fame. It’s a thundercloud and blocks the sun. Our light goes out.

What are some of the things we need to withdraw from?

Obviously, an addiction. Toxic people. Social media. Take a break from the news. Most of all, that nagging, parental voice in your head that seems to always condemn. That’s not our Father.

When we withdraw and place our focus on our Father, word, prayer, creativity, even play, we are filled. There’s a quote I love: “Even prophets and saints need a distraction.”  In Ecclesiastes it says, “And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.”

Do we strive too much, work too much? Do we forget to enjoy our family meal? A board game with the family? Many I know, and I’ve done the same, work harder at going on vacation than at their career! There’s nothing wrong, in fact it’s good, to withdraw and enjoy our families with fun! Play! Humor!

And then we have a presence that nourishes others and ourselves.


We all, even Jesus, need time alone to reflect, pray and play. We are not “human-doings!” Our world reaffirms that we must do more, be more, try harder, when we need to withdraw ourselves. Count our blessings one by one, as the song says. Meditate on all our Father has done and is doing in our lives. Enjoy to the maximum the gifts we have from our Father. Sometimes being happy with what we have is an excellent expression of gratefulness. I know when I give a gift and the receiver is tickled, that’s the best thanks ever!


Dear Father,

Thank you for all the gifts you give us. They’re too numerous to name!  There’s nature, your son, others in our lives, our careers, our homes and a time to play and laugh. Remind us we are children. Your children. Absence is a time to relish you and enjoy the gifts you’ve given us and restore our souls.



Get Back on the Horse that Threw You

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

“If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago…”
― Cheri Huber, There is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate

As you can see by my blog picture, I had a horse. Old Pete. He was a forgiving and very affectionate horse and did not cause my fall.  I fell off him once because I forgot to check the cinch on my saddle. Pete stopped knowing I was dropping to the ground. Pete was embarrassed for me so he got a little extra grain for his forgiveness. By the way, I always check my cinch after this humiliation!

Do you promise to stop a bad behavior, develop a new habit (exercise for me), read the Bible more, pray more, stop an addiction, love more, be accountable and on and on? And when you mess it up, you berate yourself, beat yourself into submission? It doesn’t work.

  1. Developing new habits and attitudes is never one-and-done. Willpower goes so far, in my case, not far at all. We start off with high hopes and determination, which is good, and then slip and give up. Acceptance that change is painful, arduous and a learning experience is so important to remember. Change is a learning experience with bumps in the journey. Little tots fall a lot when learning to walk. Adults do too.
  • Doing more than one goal is overwhelming and a set-up to fail. I’ve known people who, in good faith, quit drinking, smoking, overeating and spending at once! Whew! Then beat themselves with over-exercising, carrot sticks and eight glasses of water a day. This borders on abusive, at the very least, self-punishment. God holds our hand. We drag out our paddle! One thing at a time builds confidence in our faith and ourselves then we can attempt another.
  • Not having a trusted person for accountability. If we don’t share with a trusted person what we’re attempting to change, maybe we’re not ready. Maybe they’re not the right person. Fortunately, we have a Father we can confess this too and he starts the transformation.
  • If our Father has compassion for us, shouldn’t we? Self-compassion is a beautiful thing. When we are compassionate toward ourselves and what we’re attempting, it pours out onto others. Beautiful grace.


Remember the verse in Romans where Paul grapples with his humanity, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”  I’m sure we’ve all been there and will again. He struggled too! But the hope is our transformation in Christ. Paul later in his letter passionately gives thanks that we are delivered by Jesus. He is the way. Only way. Look at the miraculous transformation in Paul. Jesus can do that for us too.


Dear Father,

We lay our burdens down. We rest in you and your promises. We thank you that the only way we are changed is in your merciful son. Help us to truly grasp the peace that comes with your eye on us and your hand in ours.



Are We Feeling Deprived?

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” Ephesians 3:20 NASB

“The real spiritual journey is work. You can make a naïve assertion that you trust in Jesus, but until it is tested a good, oh, 200 times, I doubt very much that it’s true.” — Richard Rohr

I pass on dessert and I feel deprived.

I give up drinking and I feel deprived.

I budget my salary and I feel deprived.

I stay home to parent my child and I feel deprived of a career full of money, accolades, attention and notoriety.

I become a Christian and I feel deprived. Others think so too. Can’t do this and I can’t do that. Are you sure God will take care of you? Really? What about… fill in the blank. It comes and many times out of left field.

Am I deprived? Or just feeling like I am.

Deprivation lies are so easy to sink into. Deprivation lies grow into self-pity and/or self-centeredness, envy of some kind. It’s the battle in the mind and eventually the soul. I do feel deprived! It’s not true I’m deprived, but oh how it feels sometimes. We forget the so-called deprivations we choose are made to obtain something much greater like a healthier body, a child growing up loved and secure, and to become more like Christ now and eternally.


Most of the habits I picked up were awful in the beginning:  the first cigarette, sip of beer, shady boyfriend/girlfriend. And so we “learn” to like, stuff the pain with it, be seduced by what is obviously harmful and feel deprived when we give it up. And we give it up over and over and over.

Now some experiences were and are deprivations: absence of a loving home, job closure, divorce, hunger, death of a parent/spouse/child. These need to be recognized, affirmed, prayed over and shared with a reliable person such as a pastor, counselor or trusted friend. Healing. But trouble comes when we use food, booze, drugs, people to fix the pain. Like trying to clean a stain and watching the stain get bigger and bigger because we’ve now got two problems: Our pain and an addiction. Only One can clean the stain completely. The bad feelings don’t disappear overnight, but it happens.


Dear Father,

You never promised an easy journey, but you did promise to never leave us. When we are feeling low, deprived, frightened, struggling with a problem, remind us of all the times you worked in our lives in the past, especially what your son did for us. Remind us of your promises for the future and help us to live fully today.



Cancel Culture?

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. Galatians 3:28 ESV

“Welcome the huge, sticky, strong problems. In them there are the most powerful opportunities.” Unknown

We can’t get through the day without some mention of cancel culture. This person tweeted this, this person offended me, my rights are being taken, up to and including violence.

Do we cancel ourselves? Statements like, “I could never do that, I’m not smart enough, my past is so horrible, I’m too old/young I’m not a good person (none of us is).” Fill in the blank. We all cancel ourselves. Then blame, resentment, envy, isolation come in to destroy.

 My mind screams STOP!

Then I search the Bible. Let’s see… there was the Samaritan woman by the well who had five husbands. Then there was the Roman Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant and Jesus was amazed at this man’s faith. There were nine lepers Jesus healed, but only one returned and dropped to Jesus’ feet in thanks. He was a Samaritan. The 12 Jesus picked to disciple, from a tax collector to a political zealot and surely, they had animosity toward each other. There must have been some very intense and interesting dinner time discussions!

Jesus included everyone. He still does. That means you too. The hard part is knowing the right things to say and do to include others. The verse, “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” presses on my heart. I’m sure you have had experiences where you did the right thing and much later, maybe years later, it turned out to be a wonderful thing. I enjoy the people at my local grocery and always visit with them, ask how they are, trade jokes and sometimes our challenges. One of the clerks moved, married and has a lovely home, children and career and we marvel at our relationship that came out of something unexpected and ordinary.


The reality is we don’t work, worship, live with what society and the media portray. My circle is struggling, everyday people, like me. Jesus’ circle was struggling everyday people too. He overcame evil with good in his earthly life and does so now. No cancel culture. Such simple efforts at relationships with our Father, ourselves and our communities makes life so much better. And hopeful. And rewarding.


Dear Father,

Thank you for including us in everything! Some things are secrets that we will know someday and many things are available right now. Help us to not berate, demean, exclude or cancel ourselves and others. Remind us you are here every moment to encourage, set straight, include and most of all, love us. You make everything beautiful in its time.



Vulnerability is Hard

But necessary

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18 NASB

“To love at all is to be vulnerable, love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S. Lewis – Four Loves

I love authentic people, not only are they easy and fun to be with, but they give me courage to live authentically. They’re warm, inviting, graceful, joy filled.  They are not perfectionists. I leave their presence feeling just a bit better. Enlarged. May we be courageous enough to do the same.

And you will get hurt. You will be stunned. You will have a broken heart. You will be betrayed. You will be criticized and sometimes cruelly by spineless creatures on the Internet. Sometimes our own family. Yet, love we must, authentically, or it’s not love. It’s probably some people-pleasing, approval-seeking, manipulative, codependent behavior. It’s making someone else responsible for my well-being, my sense of self, validation. If that person disapproves, then I crumble. Thank God!  Work to do. There’s only one Person who can give us perfect love. And he waits for an invitation. He does not cross boundaries, threaten or intimidate. He does it perfectly. Where is our treasure? Where is our self-image? What is our idea of success?  

People die. Pets die. Plants die.  I read somewhere that the greater the love the greater the grief. Grief is the final act of loving someone. But it’s authentic, painful, agonizing, but part of who we are. What an empty life without authenticity. Love. The good and the bad. Joyful and despairing.


The most authentic, unassuming, validating Person I know is Jesus. From rabble-rousing fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes to me, what an authentic person! He had no advantages. He grieved. He wept. No status. No sports cars. No designer clothes. No media platform. No agent. Yet, people were drawn to him. Changed with him. Loved with him. Died for him. He experienced everything and more.



Thank you that you have made us unique individuals with stewardship over the talents you’ve given. Help us to live authentically for that is the only way we can truly live and love. Love hurts sometimes. Your beloved son knows this. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Thank you for joy and a life with all the colors.



Who or What Defines You?

“As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point.” 1 Corinthians 4:3 NLT

 “Don’t judge me by my past I don’t live there anymore.” Anonymous

It feels so good when someone approves of me. It hurts when they don’t.

It feels so good when I receive recognition for something I’ve accomplished. It’s so discouraging when I don’t.

It feels so good to be taken care of. It’s scary when I alone must be responsible.

Do my parents define me? I think, to some extent, this is the one that traps me. False images and experiences as children that are so deeply embedded.

Does my boss?

My friends?

My enemies?

My church?





Having people we love and who love us is important. Our Father know this and blesses it. People make this journey so much better with encouragement, support, love and wisdom. However…

I am not everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s a good thing too, though it doesn’t feel that way. In fact, rejection is a brutal teacher, but teach he does.

Who defines us? Some self-improvement books say we do. God says we have a new nature and we do, but it’s a gift.  In my new family, my behavior or performance is moot. Transformation takes hold, which our heavenly Father does with joy, but we must be open to it. Many times we get a glimmer, a token of the beautiful inside us and we trust our Father’s definition of who we are. Real confidence.


We are chosen and loved by our Father. This takes a lifetime of grasping. If we could take into our heart just how loved by our Father we are, what would we say and do? The Prodigal is such a beautiful example. Joseph knew God meant the harm his brothers inflicted on him was for good. It took years! Our Father doesn’t change our personality. He enhances it and uses it for his good pleasure. That’s always good.  Always surprising. Our Father defines us. He delights in us. It’s his approval we seek. His definition. That’s just the kind of children we are. Be you. All the others are taken.


Dear Father,

Thank you that we are wonderfully and fearfully made. May we be open to all the unique talents, wisdom and love that are in us and cheerfully share with those in our lives, especially how much you love us.


Does Frustration Bug You?

“A fool always loses his temper, But a wise person holds it back.” Proverbs 29:11 NASB

“No matter what type of anger or frustration we have to struggle with, a clear picture of how our faith in God is the answer to anything we need to overcome.” – Carol Graham

Small things don’t matter until you’re in bed with a buzzing mosquito!

Frustration is those annoying, itching, biting mites interfering with our goals, rest and peace. It’s so remarkable that people can handle catastrophes, tragedies and pain better than the daily nits that poke at us. An urgent phone call in the middle of a meeting, a child throwing up in class, or a flat tire on the way to work are those little bugs that throw the whole day out of kilter. Worse, our attitude.

Have you been on the phone to make sure your internet provider is aware of a “bug” in your service? Have you waited an hour to be told we’ll send you a new router then it comes and it’s not the problem? So, it’ll be a week or two before we can send someone to your office to correct the problem and don’t even say they’re sorry? This is what really shows who I am! Bad words come into play. Throwing the router out the window comes to mind. The image of Jesus’ cursing a fig tree that produced no fruit so that it withered and never produced again, gives me a wee bit of satisfaction.

Control. I have, once again, fooled myself into thinking I have it. The big obstacles of life are so hard, it’s true, but we give ourselves grace and admit we do not have control over life and death, tornadoes or floods. We pray. We give ourselves a bit of compassion. We seek assistance. We pray for each other. More importantly, we get back up, dust ourselves off, thank the Father, and start again. It’s the same for the little, annoying, and frustrating things. Life is so full of these! And many times in our day.


The termites, mites, gnats and bugs of life. These are what cripple our spiritual walk and our joy. The daily “what nows” of life humble us. The belief that we should have control and do have control over the little annoyances deceives us. Perhaps, that’s the point. Let’s start all over again… With grace. They are small things compared to the eternal picture.


Dear Father,

Thank you for your wisdom, grace and counsel in the big and the little things. We consider little things annoyances and frustrations but they are the daily disciplines of being more like your Son and living in abundance. No matter what happens today, you are with us and we can joyfully, and with a bit of humor and humility, have a good day. Jesus took the world as it is. We need to do this too.


Everything Has a Price

Count the Cost

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” Luke 14:28

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life, which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Good things cost. Having a family means your time and money are not your own. Remaining single means you have your time and money but loneliness may haunt you.

Bad things cost. Continuing an addiction means loss of health, friends, family and possibly arrest. Not paying your bills may cost you more than paying them with the rewards of bad credit, no home mortgage or harassment from creditors.

Following Christ costs. However, a lot of things life dishes out to us happen to those who don’t follow Christ too. However, they don’t enjoy a loving relationship with the Father, grace, counseling, spiritual family or eternity with Him. We do. We are to set our sights on what is “Eternal” while the nonbelievers do not. For them, this is it.

Love costs. “But we don’t grieve as those without hope.” “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” Love anything or anyone and it will die. It’s always a shock, but we are comforted knowing this world is not all there is. The Father provides comfort through his Son, creation and fellow Christians. The deeper the love, the deeper the grief. Grief is the final act of loving someone. Even Jesus grieved—the Man of Sorrow.

Everything we do costs something.  Freedom may mean war. Peace may mean conflicts and seemingly endless negotiations. Time spent with an ill friend costs us the time to do something pleasant. Spending time at work and providing for our families means hobbies are on the back burner.

Neglecting our time with the Father is very expensive. I spent the most fulfilling time with my Father in the car commuting. Your slice of intimacy with the Father may be early morning, jogging, over a cup of coffee or in the shower—any time and any place are good. The Father and I discussed everything! From my finances and the deaths of friends or family to asking for the Father to help me be full and reassured of His love, especially when I’ve done wrong. I am dependent on the Father for the very air I breathe. Acts 17:28 confirms this. I have fallen asleep praying to the Father. Experiencing the Father is not the same as knowing about him. We need both. Relationship. Companionship. Freedom from hiding the darkest secrets and struggles is such a gift. And healing. Transforming.  We don’t depend on willpower alone.


Everything has a price. Jesus fully paid our price so we may “boldly approach the Throne of Grace and find help in time of need.” Think of the Father’s price—the crucifixion of his only Son.

No matter the struggle, the Father is always there for us. He always brings good out of bad to those who love Him. He loves us more than we can comprehend but we’re learning.


Dear Father,

Thank you for Your Son who fully paid the price so we may be called your children. Guide us in the choices we make today. Help us to see and count the costs and our blessings, especially the price Jesus paid so we can have communion with You—to be called Your friend.


Our Attachments

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come! Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Change is never painful, only the resistance to change is painful.” Buddha

Everything is God’s and not mine. It was agony when it was time to put my little dog to sleep. She was gone. She is God’s. But still, there’s pain. I hang on. I still have her collar, numerous photos and still shed tears. Love. Gratefulness. Compassion. Relationship. And a new dog. I became just a bit better with my little dog.

Then there are other changes that are not sentimental or loving. Every time I try to quit a bad habit, addiction or judgment, there’s pain involved. Trying to overcome low self-esteem, melancholy, the past is formidable. I am a new person, yet I cling to and resist changing. Even the Apostle Paul personally struggled with this frustration described in Romans! These things are obviously bad for me and remain a part of me because it’s comfortable, like old pajamas that are no longer useful. Then, immediate regret. Attachment. False security. Instant gratification. Toxic relationship. Someone has to help me accept and live this new life and let go of destructive behaviors. God sees this new creation even if others, including myself, do not. Yes, pain is involved. Eventually, joy.


Picturing ourselves as a new creation takes practice. It involves letting go while enduring the emptiness and trusting our Father. I grab worldly things to fix me and they always let me down. We have a helper to guide and encourage new behavior. We have grace as we stumble one step forward and several back. But new creations we are and we have a relationship with our father, with each other while our grip lets go of “false idols.” Eventually, we glimpse this new creation in ourselves and fulfill God’s plan.



Help us to see attachments and let them go. Help us to see relationships, especially our relationship with you. Help us to see what you saw when you created us.

Everything is yours and we are fortunate that you’ve blessed us with everything pertaining to life and joyfulness. Help us loosen our grip on what is not beneficial and grow into you.



Are You “Touchy?”

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:14 NIV

“People with a style of denial and blaming are definitely on the list of unsafe people to avoid.”
― Henry Cloud, Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those that Aren’t

Ouch! I have been told I’m so sensitive. I hesitantly looked inward with one eye open to see if it was true. It was true but not at the time nor the situation.  This was said to me when I was still grieving the loss of my husband and with some reflection, it was their issue and not mine.

But there were other times I was touchy and usually it was not a major situation like someone stealing credit for my idea or a parking spot— “How dare you!”  “How could you?” The more touchy I was, the more I was focused on Self. It’s family members that can particularly touch a sore spot because they have known our hot buttons since childhood.

How about dismissiveness? Have you ever shared a health concern and someone tells you it’ll be fine? Or worse, “It’s God’s plan or there’s a reason for this.” That isn’t what’s needed. A hug, prayer and concern are much better.

I’m still touchy about some things. I still do not bless sometimes. React? Yep. Have stumbled on this. I’m very touchy about things or people that are important and valuable to me. Like Martha, who was defensive about preparing the dinner for Jesus while her sister was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening intently–I’ve done the same. She missed what was really “important.” What I hold most dear, can become a touchy, dramatic and futile reaction. Someone criticizes my son and the Mama Bear comes to tear and bite. Bless? I will attempt to do so begrudgingly, making it a duty, conscience cleaner and tedious obligation, which adds fuel to my fire. No peace. No joy. Touchy. Making it my problem and not leaving it with the other.

Good news. Grace. Our Father is helping us to look at our expectations of ourselves and others. The Father uses others to learn how to love and draw strength, acceptance and wisdom from him with the grace he has abundantly given us. We may need to let go of some, set boundaries or visit rarely. Others may be lessons in grace, love, forgiveness, mercy and patience. They are all the Father’s tools. They are the Father’s children. We, too, are the Father’s. Who knows? You may be another’s lesson. I know I have been. Ouch!  Touchy! Again.


Life is full of uncomfortable truths but we don’t face them alone. We don’t face them without help. Our Father has provided friends, counselors, instruction and a 24/7 hotline to His Mercy Seat. We have His approval because of Jesus.


Dear Father,

We struggle with touchiness and defensiveness. Our feelings may be unmanageable and untrue. Please bless this person(s) and us. Help us to see your wisdom through Jesus with thanks.


Stormy Weather

The Most Effective Character Builder

“And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” Matthew 7:25 ESV

Life will keep bringing you the same test over and over again until you pass it.” Unknown

Have you felt like life is a setup? Do you wonder why evil people live in prosperity and you’ve barely got enough money for milk and bread? Why are your loved ones deceased and others living joyfully with their loved ones? Me too. I’ve read repeatedly in the Bible that our primary goal is to become more Like the Son, Jesus. And many times it feels so bad! Life is a test. But…

He promises us and God cannot lie:

“So that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him].”

Who we are under pressure is who we truly are. For me, it’s not pretty! And it reinforces my total dependency on the Father. John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  Life is a test.

Dependency. There’s so much out there about co-dependency, self-improvement and success training, which surely builds us and shows improvement. But the Father’s way is to accept and even embrace our failings with him. If we don’t, we will rationalize, intellectualize (my go-to) or deny the truth. Something as simple as losing my temper over the smallest thing like my dog barking non-stop can drive me to frustration. Why? It’s a test and shows my very human logic: I want control over the dog. I can’t so I’m a bad dog owner. I’m a bad person. The neighbors will see what a bad person I am. See how this works? I’m not embracing or accepting at all of my dog, myself or the Father!

And the Father uses others to get our attention. The greatest lessons in my life were handed to me by the Father and they were always others—even a dog. When the boss is demanding, the children are whining, the grocery clerk is snippy and the news depresses me—all character development tests. And I’ve failed them many, many times but realizing I’m truly loved by the Father opens my heart. I sometimes fearfully ask him, “What’s the lesson?” In Psalm 139 it says, “Test me Lord and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” It’s a prayer that is always answered. It takes a huge amount of honesty, humility and bravery. And the Father will send the right situation to nudge us forward. With him. Until we pass the test.


Time for a very honest conversation with the Father. Let’s face it; He knows anyway. Being honest with the Father about ourselves is never easy. It’s never a quick situation. It requires uncomfortable truths, prayer and self-reflection. But it works! It’s peaceful. It’s encouraging. It brings joy even in the midst of turmoil. And it makes us more like the Father’s Son.


Dear Father,

Thank you for Your Son, our High Priest, who never punishes but welcomes our honesty and struggle. We are doing the best we can because we love you but we will always need you to do what is right and good in the storm. Thank you for causing all things to work to good.


Pleasing God

“And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV (Emphasis mine)

“There is no reward from God to those who seek it from men.” Charles Spurgeon

Our first action as new Christians is to love God. Without Him, “We can do nothing.” We might make a little progress in overcoming a bad habit, committing to raising our families or a whole host of things we make a priority. But the joy? The true healing? The intimacy?  Motivation? Desire? Lessons? We will miss out and slog through obligations and duties. They will become tedious, boring and unfulfilling. No true relationship. Imagine being in a relationship, whether spouse, child or friend, and we do our duty but nothing more.

And we don’t and can’t please Him without his help. Our whole being is made to love and worship the Father first and we even need His help with this.  The monk, Brother Lawrence, shared how doing dishes in the monastery was a loving and worshipful thing. Jesus washed the disciple’s dirty feet even though He was the Creator of everything. I may not feel good about it but I know when I’m cleaning the bathroom, I’m doing it for the Father— “Doing my work heartily as unto the Lord.”

That pleases the Father. As I’m down on my knees cleaning around the commode, I thank the Father for a bathroom with running water. I thank him for all the delightful bubble baths my grandchildren had. The soft and well-worn towels embraced my grandchildren. The rescued muddy pets pouting in the tub make me smile (peanut butter helped). This bathroom is the Father’s. It’s on loan. I hang on lightly.


Richard Rohr said, “Some days even a grasshopper can convert me.” This happens because our Father rewards those who earnestly seek him. Even doing the mundane like paying the bills or doing laundry is a faith that pleases our Father. And it happens every day. Some call it serendipity but it’s a joyous reward from the Father.


Dear Father,

Thank you for your Son who demonstrated over and over how the daily chores can be another way our faith in you is expressed. We are caring for your gracious gifts here with thanks. Help us to hold lightly the things on Earth while envisioning your Paradise.

Thank you for rewarding us. We earnestly seek you today.


Good Enough

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 ESV

“Share your weaknesses. Share your hard moments. Share your real side. It’ll either scare away every fake person in your life or it will inspire them to finally let go of that mirage called “perfection,” which will open the doors to the most important relationships you’ll ever be a part of.”
― Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

Spring cleaning! I’m committed to driving dirt from my home so I can play in garden dirt all summer. Fall cleaning isn’t as ambitious but with the holidays appearing right after Halloween, cleaning will be a “lick and a promise.” And the late comedian, George Carlin said, “Your house will never be absolutely clean.” Truth. And we will never be absolutely clean without Jesus.

Or, “close counts.” True for Horseshoes and hand grenades. Works for spring cleaning too. But close will not work with the Father.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Nothing else is good enough.

When I strive for perfection, it never happens.

Perfect means complete in the Bible. We are complete when we depend on Jesus. Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing.” We are free to get back up and start again because we depend on Jesus, not ourselves. We are free to risk. We are free to love, after all, Jesus is Love. And importantly, we learn to laugh at some of our mistakes. Taking ourselves too seriously means we’ve replaced our Father with another—Ourselves!

We need a sense of humor! Let’s learn from this old vaudeville performer:

Charlie Chaplin once told a joke in front of an audience.

Everyone laughed.

And he brought it back for the second time, so only some laughed.

When he brought it back for the third time, no one laughed.

Then he said beautiful lines:

“If you can’t laugh and laugh at the same joke, why do you cry and cry for the same grief and affliction?”

So enjoy every moment of your life – Charlie Chaplin left leaving a great legacy without saying a word or hurting anyone’s feelings. We remember these sentences that touch the heart.


Our Father is totally aware of our sins, flaws and shortcomings. We need to view our frustrations, tantrums and challenges with a light hand and heart remembering who is Creator and who is not. We need to focus on being excellent and joyful for one day. Tomorrow is not ours.

We are good enough because of Jesus’ work on the cross and the Holy Spirit who abides in us. Today and always.


Dear Father,

Thank you for Your Son, Jesus, who completes us and our works. We have grown so much because of this. Help us to view ourselves and our foibles, quirks, losses and mistakes with grace and a sense of humor. Help us do this with others too. Most people are doing the very best they can, which includes us. Trying to be perfect interferes with love for you, others and ourselves.



The Waiting

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV (Emphasis mine)

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while waiting.” Joyce Meyer

Waiting in traffic, waiting in line, waiting to grow up, waiting for my husband to come home from war, waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for retirement, waiting for an answer to prayer, even waiting to die—all tell me about myself and my relationship with the Father. All waiting shows my faithfulness or lack.

Most of life is waiting. Our Father is an artist and waiting is a sharp and painful tool He uses to sculpt us into something beautiful. It’s also a time to get honest with the Father and ourselves—something we’re avoiding may need attention before moving on.

Most of life is beyond our control. That’s why waiting is so uncomfortable and stretches us to the limit. We can’t control most situations. Beauty is the last thing we see or experience, especially if it’s a loved one who is in trouble or ill. Faith is one of the antidotes, regardless of feelings. Reviewing our past personal rescues and experiences from the Father helps.

I waited for my son to be born and there was great happiness when he entered our lives! While I waited, I did everything I could spiritually and physically to ensure my son would arrive healthy.

I waited for my husband to die with anguish over his suffering. His death ushered in relief. Grief, to be sure, but I was relieved he was with the Father where there is no pain. Death is inevitable—such a hard truth and no control whatsoever! It has taken years to understand much of this journey and I still can’t grasp all of it. I could not fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

I wish I could say I waited patiently but I did not. There was too much drinking. Too much worrying. Too much loneliness. Too little prayer. Too many medical bills. Too little asking for help. Too little sleep and food. Too much anger at my Father and the situation. Some of my behavior I regret.

But I trust the Father will make everything beautiful in its time—with tears sometimes. Even my bad behavior. He will for you too. We may not understand all of it in this lifetime but we will see usefulness and beauty.


Waiting doesn’t mean we do nothing. We pray, we do our daily duties and live in only today. We seek help. We ask for help. We forgive ourselves when our behavior does not match our faith. We hang onto the Father’s grace, which never runs out. We read the Psalms with their feelings, wisdom and trust in God—the perfect examples of prayer. I see very ill children on TV with their weary parents waiting for a miracle. Thank God there are professionals in partnership with the Father who are there for the parents and the children. How can God make this beautiful? I don’t know. He will. He just does. He’s a sculptor.


Dear Father,

Thank you for the beauty around us and in us. We don’t always see it or have faith to wait. But we know each time we get up, pray and go about our daily duties, our faith is in action and faith pleases You. We trust. We wait with thanks.


Rejection Hurts!

But just for a little while.

“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Luke 10:16 ESV

“When you lose someone or something, try not to think of it as a loss, but as a gift that lightens your load so that you can better travel the path meant for you.” Marc and Angel, Hack Life

Oh! How it hurts to be rejected! From the adolescent years to old age, rejection happens. And we all have questions about ourselves, don’t we?

What did I do wrong?

Was it something I said or did?

Am I inadequate, insufficient, uneducated, stupid or naïve? (You’re not).

Some self-reflection is good but when it turns into obsessing and ruminating, we are stuck and useless.

People don’t know you well enough to judge you. Even Paul said he didn’t judge himself but entrusted himself to the Father.

If you’re truly rejected, it’s usually not personal—it probably is the other’s issue. If you’re rejected, it truly is a gift. They weren’t right for you. With Jesus, rejection was personal, they tried to trick him, lie about him and ultimately, killed him. But his death has lifted our burdens if only we will see it and act accordingly. Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light.

The book I’m reading by David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself, teaches that the only way to be your authentic self is through a personal relationship with the Father. And I so love authentic people! They just glow! They have strength, compassion and courage—so attractive! I think of an old ballad by Gordon Lightfoot called Everyday People, which describes the heart and love of authentic people.

If they reject you they may be rejecting the Father and Son. If so, shake the dust off your feet and be open to another. It’s not your burden. It’s theirs and the Father’s. Sometimes we call that “Detachment with Love.” Sometimes that is what it takes for change—leave them with the Father. It’s not abandonment. It’s leaving the person with the ultimate Counselor.


Surrender to the Father. Respond to His voice. Let Him transform. Instead of just knowing about God, we experience a relationship with Him. No diploma, education, high IQ or status is required, in fact, they may interfere. Many realize Jesus had no diploma, formal education or status but just went out calling his sheep even while being rejected by his own. Look what was accomplished! He was fully God and fully human and took on all rejection, even rejection from his Father from the cross.


Dear Father,

You and Your Son have suffered rejection that is impossible to comprehend. We may not feel grateful, but we’re grateful we share in Your rejection because it transforms us to be more like Jesus and fulfills Your purpose.

Thank you for burdens that are light because of Your Son.


Ashamed of Shame

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Mark 10:51 NIV

“Shame is the most powerful master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.”
Brene Brown

The blind man wanted to see. I’ve pondered Jesus’ question many times, “What do you want me to do for you?” Walking the Christian journey, we realize “we were blind, but now we see.” How devastating this may be. Before our conversion, we knew we sinned. After our conversion, we are overwhelmed with the flaws, mistakes, sins and hurts we have done. Guilt or Shame?



Horrible behavior at a social or company function.


Being a smoker, obese, uneducated, poor, addicted, having too many sexual partners and on it goes.

Guilt: the realization that what I did was wrong. A change of mind and action along with an apology works well. Grace.

Shame: the realization that I am wrong. A flawed, devastating feeling about who we are that is totally wrong. Isolates. Devastates. Lies. Paralyzes. Inauthentic. Grace doesn’t seem to quench the fire of shame.

Stuck! Stuck! Stuck! I know my life is hidden in Christ, but others? Not so much.

What to do? We are counseled to confess our sins to our Father and to another. Oh! What a big slice of humble pie this is! All is not horrible though. We are a New Creation, though our behaviors shout differently. Thank God for his patience! We need some for ourselves too. Even Paul struggled to do what he did not want to do. Grace gives us a “do-over.”

 When we confess to another Christian, one who truly has our best interests at heart, we are encouraged. Usually, a Christian will say they’ve done something similar. C.S. Lewis said, “What! You two? I thought I was the only one.” Our heart receives some peace in the company of another struggling to grow. Vulnerability: the opposite of shame.


We are New Creations. We are made in the image of God. One mistake, snafu, slip up and then roaring, condemning, shameful feelings! Sometimes I think shame is the Devil’s favorite tool. It stops us from being honest, reaching out and a wedge grows between our Father and ourselves. We don’t deserve joy, success, friends and family. Shame rips away all the wonderful things our Father wants for us. Today  I will be vulnerable. Today I will have courage and share with others. Today I will be grateful my Father made me.


Dear Father,

You nailed shame to the cross. You make us walk in the “newness of life.” Thank you. But we are fearful. Remind us to “step into the water” of vulnerability and watch the sea part. We cannot truly love with shame dragging us down, not ourselves, another or You. We cannot be “real” with shame poisoning our hearts and lives. We give you our shameful feelings today and in faith, share our vulnerability.