Don't Pretend To Know

In My Job:
Part of my role at work is to help educate others on how to respond to a surveying process when they are asked to explain the how's and why's of the way they are doing their job.  Having someone question you and/or watch you do your work can be very unnerving, so we discuss in advance what to expect and how to respond in an effort to help ease the stress when the moment comes.

One of the responses we educate to is, "If you are asked a question and you don't know... don't make something up.  Don't pretend to know.  Instead, respond that you aren't sure but that you will get the answer."

We have discovered that to pretend to know gets us in trouble with incorrect responses more often than not. 

And then that plays out in my life....

In My Life:
Not so long ago I was meeting with someone who I hadn't had contact with for quite some time.  Our paths have often crossed as acquaintances in days gone by, but we hadn't really ever spent much time together.

She went through a horribly tragic and horrific situation a few years ago.  I knew her as an acquaintance, and in that connection fervently prayer for her in the midst.

I knew her to be involved in a church, working for a Christian employer, and knew many of her mutual friends. I assumed her to be surrounded with care, concern, support, friendship....  And initially she was!

As I recently met with her and this situation came up, our conversation revealed that perhaps she hasn't been as surrounded and supported in more recent months/years as I had assumed.

And the hard but needed lesson came to my heart. "Don't pretend to know."

I left our conversation feeling overwhelmed with grief that I had assumed she was being supported in ways that she has not been.

I am thankful to say that God has used that time in her life to grow her in Him... and he has now used it in my life to teach me to not assume.  To not pretend that I know

Note to self: ASK!  "How can I best come alongside, support, and encourage you?  How can I be a friend to you during this time?"

In My Prayers:
And then it trickles into what I have learned and am trying to increase in my conversations as I pray for people.  I can assume I know what's going on in their lives, their hearts, their minds.  I can assume how they would want to be prayed for.  But once again I am prompted, "Don't pretend to know."  And so I am learning to ask this one simple question in increasing measure.... "How can I be praying for you?"

No Response:
As I am intentionally trying to put this into practice, sometimes I get a response.  Sometimes I don't.  Regardless, at least I know the other person knows I am wanting to pray, to care, to support, to be a friend.  And I continue to love and pray... no matter what!

What about you?  Have you learned the art of asking these types of questions?  Have you ever been praying for or supporting someone in a way you thought was needed, only to find out something entirely different was needed?  What other ways do you connect with others to discover how to love them well?



Gratitude in Grief

Just days after I put up my last post... my dad went to be with Jesus.
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants." Psalm 116:15

It impacted me differently than I thought.  It was more difficult than I thought.  It has left me sorting and processing through memories, exhaustion, thoughts, and just the "real" of it I guess.  Thus, my absence from here.  Not that I wanted to be.

I just had nothing.

Nothing, until God used a couple of friends to help re-shape my perspective in the midst of my grief.  And that is what I bring today...

A friend texted me near the beginning of the holidays and reminded me that she was praying for me as memories were sure to surface with the coming holidays.

And they were.

As the memories surfaced, I realized in increasing measure that they were:

* Good memories
* Treasured memories
* Christmas items homemade from my dad held in my hands. Him with me still... in my heart.
* Handmade toys from my dad for the children.  Him with us still... in our home.

As I continued to remember, through the tears:

 Gratitude Surfaced

I have fond memories and trinkets to treasure that remind me of my dad.  Not everyone would have that in the passing of a father.  Yes, most everyone would have a memory of some kind - even if an absent one- but my memories were enviable of so many, even some I know.

Gratitude Swelled

In the midst of my grief, I discovered overwhelming gratitude for what I had been gifted!

How grateful I am to have had him for my father.  How grateful I am to have watched him love my mother and us so well.  How grateful I am to have the memories that make me smile... memories worth remembering.  How grateful I am to have had his example of pursuing God.

I did not do anything to deserve any of this... A godly father.  A loving family. A lifetime of treasured memories.

How grateful I am....
 "Those who say, 'No' to resentment and 'Yes' to gratitude, even in the face of excruciating pain, incomprehensible loss, and ongoing adversity, are the ones who really survive." ~Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Perhaps this is part of why Paul instructs us to give thanks in everything, and why it is God's will for us who belong to Him?
"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." I Thessalonians 5:18
Maybe it's because the grief becomes almost a gift of sorts. A heart fully aware of graces bestowed from my Heavenly Father.  And in the end, with eternal hope and confidence... gratitude thrives in the grief.
"Spoken words of praise and thanks have power to dissipate that spirit of heaviness that sometimes weighs us down and clings to us like a wet blanket." ~Nancy Leigh DeMoss
How about you?  What difficult or unexpected situation are you facing that you could flip on it's head? What blessings rise in that situation as you consider it?  How can gratitude thrive in that situation in your own heart? 

Don't let the frustrations, disappointments, discouragement, doubt, or even overwhelming grief steal your joy! Look for His gifts of grace that have gone ahead to meet you in that place... and be thankful!



Why Eat?

Do you remember what you had for lunch two weeks ago Tuesday? 

Even if you don't remember, do you think that it still had some amount of nutrition?  Do you believe that at some level it sustained you?  Would you admit that it provided energy, strength, and nutrients to get you to the next task on your list for the day?

What if you hadn't eaten that meal?  That day?  Or even for 3 days?  Would you notice?

Just because you don't remember what you had for lunch two weeks ago Tuesday, has that caused you to consider stopping eating all together?  I mean, really, if  a meal can't be remembered... then what's the use, right?  Maybe it's all just a waste of time... this eating gig.

Of course that sounds absurd!

Guess what else is absurd...

I used to excuse the importance of my personal time in God's Word away with that same type of thinking.

"I can't always remember what I read.  I wonder if it's just a waste of my time.  Yeah, I know I should read, but really... who has time for something that can't be remembered later?"

You know what I have found?

Much as the physical nutrition for the moment brings health to my physical body, so the spiritual sustenance and strength I need for the day comes from the Words I read that morning.

Even when I can't always remember the details of each moment at a later date, I am confident that the time spent there meditating and focusing on His Words to me have sustained me more than I know.  More than I would probably even believe were I to know the full impact.

So, although I can't always remember exactly what I had to eat a few weeks ago, I am confident that I did eat.  And that food sustained exactly what I needed for that day.

Confident of this truth - I continue to eat...
  * physically
  * spiritually

Hungry anyone?...


Hands that Shaped are Holding...

I've got some things weighing heavy on my heart.  This morning was a lovely morning (felt very much like fall!) so I decided to grab my ipod with music and take a walk on our property.

As I was walking...
* I was listening to my music.
* I was thinking through some things.
* I was surrendering.
* I was praying...

I've walked the path through our 10 acres many times before.  You would think nothing should surprise me about the path it takes, the forage that lines it, the terrain it contains.

And yet, this morning I rounded a bend, looked up, and stopped in my tracks with a lump caught in my throat.


And here's what made this stand out to me...

The song actively playing on my ipod at the time was "Your Hands" by J.J. Heller.  I was singing along, as if also praying, and the chorus led in to... "Your hands that shaped the world are holding me, they hold me still."

I am not even kidding.  As I turned the corner the words "Your hands that shaped the world" played, and in that moment, as if practiced numerous times to get it exactly on cue, I looked up and saw.... 


Not broken.  Fully intact.  Almost as if purposely shaped from the trunk, bent over, and even for this very moment with all that is on my heart.... for me to be reminded.  Encouraged.  Bolstered in spirit.

".... are holding me, they hold me still...."

His hands that shaped the world.... are holding me.  If He can do that to a tree? Just sayin'...

And in that moment I stopped and circled back to from where I had just come.  I had climbed down into the middle of this and sat for about 10 minutes...

Thinking. Singing. Praying...

The world that He shaped was literally holding me in those moments as I settled into the middle of that place...

A reminder so tangible that the pieces of bark that had fallen down the back of my shirt scratched my neck as I walked back to the house with tears welling in my eyes in gratitude.


* that He walked with me this morning
* that He met me in such a personal and real way on that walk
* that He shaped this world by His very hands
* that He still holds me in those hands... HIS!

No! Matter!! What!!!
Friend, does it feel that your world is shaking, that your heart is breaking?  Do you have troubles and unanswered prayers?  Are you tired, and weary, and just plain worn out?  

I offer you this gentle reminder... Heaven Stands!  He heals.  He is still in control!

Friend, the hands that shaped the world are holding you... even still!!

"See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands." ~Is. 49:16




It's been some time since I've written for a variety of reasons.
- Some schedule related.
- Some "navigating through what's all even in my heart and head" related.
- Some increasing pressures I was putting on myself regarding content, frequency, expectations, etc. related.

I have recently been doing some reading, listening, pondering, and considering.  In doing so, I believe that some of those pressures are lifting, freeing up a sense of the potential of my words being able to flow again. 

And so,
* Since it has been awhile...
* In an effort to catch you up on what's been happening with me...
* To get my fingers typing and my words flowing again...

I decided to share a little bit about the:


On My Bookshelf:

Recently finished reading:
* If: By Mark Batterson
* Audacious:  By Beth Moore

Am currently reading:
* Prayer:  By Timothy Keller
* The Best Yes:  By Lysa Terkeurst

Books of the Bible:
I have been spending the last few months primarily in the Psalms.  I read through in the Message translation one month, the New Living Translation the next month, and this month in the New International Version.

I've also spent some recent time in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.  I tried to be more intentional to read through them as a letter that had been sent since that is how they were originally written. They did read somewhat differently to me in that frame of mind. 

Devotionals I'm Using:
* Streams in the Desert: by Jim Reimann and Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
* Jesus Calling: by Sarah Young 

Music I'm listening to: (Current Fav's)
* It is Well:  Bethel Music
* Breathe: Jonny Diaz
* Trust in You: Lauren Daigle

Items of note:
* I'm hoping to have more time to spend here again.

* School curriculum is starting to arrive. This week will be spent getting that all figured out for another year ahead of us.

* Our oldest heads back to college this week to begin his Jr. Year. (Can you even believe it?!)

* We introduced our little guy to "Amelia Bedelia" this week. Oh the laughter...

What I’m looking forward to:

*  Fall.  I've been seeing online and elsewhere some push back from saying goodbye to summer.  But for me, there's just something about the crisp mornings, warm throws, bonfires, and crisp leaves that are so appealing to me.

* Writing again without the self imposed pressures I was putting on myself in the doing so!
Now it's your turn!  I would love to hear...

What's Been Happening With YOU?


When It Seems That God Doesn't Have a Plan

Have you ever felt like God gave you a promise and then was slow in keeping it?  Or did it in a way that did not make sense at all?  Or perhaps He gave a promise, but then didn't appear to have a plan in place to accomplish it?

I sure have been tempted to feel that way.  But there's a problem with that type of thinking... it goes completely against His character.  His very being.  Who he is.

I was reading in Exodus about His promise to the Israelite's and the land they would overtake.

When I got to verse 29 of chapter 23, I stopped and went back to read it again.

And again.

And then one more time.

"But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you." ~ Exodus 23:29

Do you see it like I did when I read it?

God had shared his promise of giving them the land.


He also explained to them why He wouldn't do it as quickly as they may have hoped, wanted, or expected.  To do so would have caused the land to become desolate and allowed the wild animals time to multiply and threaten them.

He does not owe us an explanation or a plan.

But when He chooses to let us in on it...

Yes, just a small glimpse of the constant truth that we CAN be assured that when He promises, He provides.

In His time.  His way.

He has a plan... and it is ALWAYS for our good!



Light vs. Darkness vs. Darkness vs. Light

Have you ever had the opportunity to be down in the earth?  To enter a cave?

The coolness.
    The dampness.
         The darkness.

When we had reached the very bottom of the cave, the tour guide turned out the lights.  And do you know what we saw?  Darkness!

A darkness so dark, so thick, so palpable.  It was so dark that, even when putting my hand directly in front of my face, I could not see it.   

A few weeks ago I was stirred in my heart to begin considering light vs. dark.  And the theme has continued to surface in my days (which I have learned means I am to press in even harder... I believe repetition of themes, concepts, or ideas is one of God's ways of inviting me into a deeper conversation with Him in that.)

Here is some of what I have pondered and considered...

Physical Light and Darkness:

Without light, dark is. The entrance of light itself is what dissipates the darkness, even from the very beginning.
"The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." ~Gen. 1:2-3
In the cave, the guide didn't turn the dark off, instead he turned the light back on.  The darkness didn't necessarily go away.  It was still there.  The light just overcame the dark.

I am also trying to open my eyes and ears to how creation speaks of the Creator.  And so I consider the darkness and the created light...

Spiritual Light and Darkness:

In addition to sin... how often our difficult, our struggles, our pain, our frustrations.... are referred to as the darkness of our lives.

So then, in that, is there light?  And if so, what (or who) is that?
"Jesus once again addressed them: 'I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.'" ~John 8:12
I am coming to a new understanding of my own "darkness".  We aren't told that it will necessarily go away.  Instead, we are promised that there is a light strong enough to dissipate whatever darkness we find ourselves in!

The darkness doesn't necessarily disappear, the light just becomes greater.

In my darkness, He is my light!
"O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness." ~2 Sam. 22:29  (Ps. 18:28)
 "The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.  For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine." ~Is. 9:2 (Matt. 4:16)

New Truth and New Prayers:

* And then I wonder... instead of praying for what seems my dark situations to go away, would the greater prayer (and miracle) not be to instead pray for my eyes to be opened to seeing Light (Him) in the midst of my darkness?  What if that was His greater will (and good) for me in that?
"Let us walk in the light of the Lord" ~(Is. 2:5b)

* And then allowing that Light (Him) to shine through my darkness and brokenness for others to see Him...
"But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us -- is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God and is not our own." ~2 Cor. 4:7

* And even throughout eternity... He is the Light.
" And the city has no need of sun or moon to light it, for the glory of God and of the Lamb illuminate it" ~Rev. 21:23 

What about you? Have you found yourself praying for a difficult/dark situation to just disappear?  What if, instead, you began asking to see Him dissipate and overcome that with His Light if that was His greater will for you in that? --  And what other ideas of light vs. dark have you discovered, considered, or learned?...

Not all inclusive, but other verses to consider:
2 Cor. 4:4-6;  I Peter 2:9;  2 Cor. 11:14



I Don't Want to be Remembered for Being Nice

I was talking with a co-worker friend recently about the life and passing of a sweet friend that Jesus took home after her 6+ years of fighting cancer leaving behind a young family.  The words pouring in from all over the world via social media and other venues were all pointing to her life well lived, loving people, and how she had lived out Jesus.

As I was having this discussion I said, "It all has me thinking about how I would be remembered."

Their response was, "Oh, you would be remembered like that... for being nice, considerate, kind..."

And as inappropriate as it probably was for me to interrupt, that's exactly what I did.  And I interrupted with these words before I could even think twice about what was coming out of my mouth... (that actually happens more than I'd like to admit which can get me in to trouble.) 
"But I don't want to be remembered for just being nice.  I want to be remembered as someone who pointed to Jesus in every. single. thing.!"

I've continued to consider this immediate, visceral reaction from deep within.  And it is giving me something to pursue. To strive for.  To be conscious of.  To be intentional with.

Not for anything for myself, but all for His Glory!

How about you?  Have you given much thought to how you would like to be remembered when the day comes?  What are you doing or changing to make that a reality as much as possible?



Challenged by God's Goodness

So often the goodness of God is mentioned when things are going right. An answer to prayer, health restored, protection noticed... and the words "God is good" slip across the tongue.

Then I am challenged.

Should those same words not pass through the mouth when things don't seem to be going right? Answers to prayers seem silent or even opposed to what was hoped for, continuing illness with no restoration in sight, death of someone way before what seems their time, tragedy strikes...

Do things and situations alter the goodness of God?

Does God simply just do good? or is He good?

In the classic by C.S. Lewis "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Aslan represents Jesus. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver begin describing Aslan to the children, and this is part of their conversation:
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver...; Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.

Jack Modesett Jr. gives this definition of the goodness of God:
"Wise enough to know what's best for me.
Loving enough to want what's best for me.
Strong enough to do what's best for me.
Gracious enough to give me all that goodness would provide."

And then I consider the words of God Himself: 

"Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!" ~Ps. 34:8 (NLT)
"The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation." ~Ps. 145:9 (NLT)

Circumstances of this fallen world do not change the goodness of God.

Being good is not something God does, rather something He is.

Good or bad, ecstatic or tragic... God is Good!

It is part of His character. Just plain who He is... all the time.

God IS Good.

We have situations that we are working on sorting and processing through. Not ones I would have personally chosen, but ones that are ours nonetheless.  I knew this was a perfect time to put this truth to practice in my heart.

"Even now, in the middle of this...God, You are still good."

What about you?  Have you ever thought or been challenged to remember the goodness of God, even when it appears that things are not going so well?  Or especially when things aren't going so well?

When was the last time you were reminded and able to say that God is good?  Not finishing the sentence with "when"...  

Instead, just using these three words to sum it all up.  

God IS Good.


Learning to Embrace the Wait

We have a theme park not too far from our house. We went for opening day of the season.

Which meant we had to stand in lines. Waiting. For our turn.  Watching others board and ride the ride that we anticipated taking.

 As we were standing in line, I glanced down at our little guy as he was leaning against the railing saying repeatedly, over and over, almost as if under his breath, "I hate waiting.  I hate waiting.  I hate waiting."

I interrupted his cycling statement with, "Oh, but waiting is a good thing to learn.  So many times in the Bible God tells us to learn to wait.  It is part of how He created life to work."

And as I was encouraging and educating my son, my Heavenly Father began to point out current situations in my life where I have been standing, waiting, leaning against the railing saying repeatedly, over and over, almost as if under my breath, "I hate waiting.  I hate waiting.  I hate waiting."

And so I am challenged.....

As I was trying to instruct my son in the lessons of waiting... I myself was instructed.

Not because I want to, but rather out of obedience...

Learning to embrace the wait.