Thursday, August 31, 2006


"I vant to be alone." Greta Garbo

Matthew 14:23
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone...

I like to be alone. I’ve always liked it. I can remember as a child my sister and I shared a room. That, I did not like. However, in a stroke of genius; my parents got us bunk beds. My dad hung shelves up high by my upper bunk and put a clock and a reading lamp there. Oh my gosh; that was bliss. It was my own little space in the world, my sanctuary. It was as close to alone as I could get and I loved it.
I still love to be alone. People aren’t comfortable with the idea of being by yourself. They want to get together so you don’t have to be alone. But what if being alone is just exactly what you want?
Jesus himself set the example that alone wasn’t bad. He intentionally withdrew from the crowd that followed him and from the disciples to find time by himself. I figure, if it’s good enough for him...
Of course, Jesus’ example of aloneness was one of meditation, fasting and prayer. And truthfully, I am much more likely to engage in all of those if I’m by myself and free of distractions.
But alone is also the way I decompress. It’s when I sort out whatever needs sorting, I rest my mind. I study what needs studying. I watch Doris Day movies. I nap. I cook, clean, shop, sing, dance, write.
Sometimes alone is when I just sit until all the thoughts drain out of my mind and calm falls down into my spirit.
I’ll be the first to admit that I can easily take alone to recluse proportions. I’ll even admit that while I recognize that this is considered a bad thing; I’m not sure I wouldn’t be a recluse if I could.
Yeah, I know. We need one another. I know this. And I do need my friends and family. I need my work and my church and I even need the strangers that are the surprise smiles and laughter when I’m pursuing aloneness.
I need to give myself away and I need to receive from other people.
I’m not arguing any of that.
I know I need balance and sometimes those of you closest to me have to lovingly apply a crow bar to me to see that I get it.
But just like I need togetherness, you need aloneness.
Don’t let the hustle and bustle of a world that’s spinning too fast make you dizzy. Don’t lose yourself in the crowd.
Every once in a while, dismiss them and go up on a mountainside (or to a Starbuck’s or your living room) by yourself to pray...
Or to dance or laugh or sing or read or write or watch Doris Day movies.
Me and Jesus recommend it.

P.S. Don’t worry, the world will still be spinning when you are done being alone. Darn it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

My son, Mac, was a member of the first football team his high school ever had. Two years ago Mac, with his usual passion for life; tried out for the inaugural season of the Summit Academy Dragon Football Team and was chosen as a tenth grader to play varsity football.
We went to every game, hauling my parents and usually my sister along. Sitting in bleachers, tailgating like we were at the Big House. The females among the family having no idea what we were watching but keeping an eye out (and a prayer for) #51. Rain, wind, heat and snow showers. From Riverview to Flint two hours away and everywhere in between. We only missed one game, when Mac was too sick with strep throat to play. That was the only game the team won that season.
Last year we were there again for season two. Still eating too much in those stands, yelling ourselves hoarse and now armed with cowbells and special stadium seat cushions. All wearing those Summit Dragon hoodies with “SMITH” “51" on the back. Proud of our boy.
This year my son answered God’s call and went to Thailand over the summer for almost three weeks on a mission trip. He told his coaches last February he was going and that he’d be starting back to conditioning late. He knew he’d have to ride the bench for two games to make up for being out of the country. No problem.
The night before he left the head coach called our home to tell Mac that if he was going to Thailand, he better reconsider playing football. He told Mac that he lacked commitment to the team and maybe he’d better just drop out now. Mac handled him politely and told him “Ok Coach. I’m going to Thailand.”
Mom wasn’t so calm. I called the coach who told me he wasn’t impressed with Mac’s commitment and felt that the mission trip was a bad reflection on his attitude toward the team. Told me that he saw no point in Mac joining the team upon his return. Told me he didn’t care how I felt or if I thought a night before departure call was out of line. “I don’t care what you think.”
Mac left for Thailand the next day. I contacted the school administration who assured me that coach was now being considered for dismissal based on his actions and behavior toward me when I called him to speak to him. To his credit, the coach called the Mr. the next day to explain he’d had a bad day at work.
So Mac went to Thailand and ministered to several hundred kids. Worked with the local church. Talked about his Jesus.
He came home and told us what he and God had worked out about football.
“I’m quitting.”
You see, Mac is a student leader for Fuel, our church’s Junior High ministry on Monday nights. Coach won’t let him work at Fuel over the football season.
Mac likes football.
Mac loves Jesus.
He can’t work for a man who doesn’t see things the way he does. God first. God all.
Everything else is just bells and whistles for Mac.
He wants to concentrate on other things, he tells me.
He wants to work hard on his grades during his senior year. He wants to go to his youth group Bible study on Tuesday nights. He wants to work with those Fuelers on Mondays.
For the last two years he’s been at football every night, come home tired, dirty and beaten up and then done homework until midnight when he’d pass out from exhaustion. He’d be there for every practice and every game. He was always on time, suited up and ready to work. He kept his grades up and joined the National Honor Society. He had the highest G.P.A. on the Dragon football squad. He was named a scholar athlete and awarded a division medal.
So this year Mac and God decided that football was done for him. With it goes varsity status in his senior year. With it goes the colleges that have been scouting him and offering him scholarships to play.
Now he’s just another senior who finds his glory in junior high kids on Monday nights instead of under the lights on a Friday or Saturday night.
No senior year Homecoming game for Mac.
No more roaring crowds or jerseys on game day.
I was torn inside about it. I trust Mac’s heart and yet I worried about what he was giving up. His goodness almost hurt me. I wanted him to grab more for himself, be more selfish.
Then this morning on the way to work the Christian station I listened to highlighted a football player. Don’t ask me his name. They talked about how he stood on a field after winning a Superbowl game and realized, this was nothing. How he won the highest award at the thing to which he’d committed his life and at that moment he found himself yearning for Jesus. How at that moment he wanted to find himself in God’s glory and then decided to walk away and return to the Jesus of his childhood and live to redeem the days he’d wasted.
My son is not quite seventeen years old.
How wise he is.
How good he is.
How proud I am.
Mac will never look back on his glory days; because he will awaken to a new day of glory every morning.
God, give me a heart like that.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Revelation 12:9-11
9The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.10Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ; For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

Sometimes I fee like I’m on trial. I am the accused and the prosecuting attorney. I am my own defense attorney as well and I’m doing a poor job of it. If I were an artist, I’d paint a court room with myself in all the seats.
In truth, it is satan who accuses me. In the space of twenty four hours, he does a fine job of it. He attacks me as a wife, mom, daughter, friend, nurse, boss and Christian. And that is just for starters. He customizes the charges too. Throw in ugly, fat, stupid, selfish, bad driver and lazy.
Then there’s bad hair, poor money manager, messy housekeeper, impatient and time-waster.
It’s no wonder I’m an insomniac. There just isn’t enough time in the waking hours to list all my crimes!
If you’re thinking I have poor self-esteem, that’s really not it. I don’t buy it. I think all of us are living the life of the accused. The reason I don’t want to play the self-esteem card is that the answer becomes thinking better of myself. That’s not the answer.
I have exactly three weapons against this daily onslaught of accusations.
1. The Blood of Christ.
2. The word of my testimony.
3. Not loving my life so much that I run from death.
Simple enough?
The accuser of us all is the devil and he’s really good at it. Even when I have done something well by all standards, he sneaks up behind me for a little private conversation where he points out, just between us, how I could’ve done better. It never ends with this guy.
The blood of Christ is the only thing that will ever cover my short-comings. That’s it. All other efforts minus the application of the perfect sacrifice still leaves me accused without a defense. I need to stop explaining and excusing just start laying it down at the cross.
The word of my testimony. MY testimony? That begs the question, what is my testimony? Here’s the comment corner kids! I love to hear testimonies. Our testimony is just our story with the common ending of when and how we gave it up for the blood of Christ. It’s not a testimony unless it winds its way there and ends with how that changed everything. It’s a reminder to myself and the world that the blood was applied and it worked. It’s the ultimate closing argument. The accused always walks away free after the summation.
Not loving my life. Hmm. That’s the hard one. I do love my life. I’m very attached to it. Why is that in there? Because if I’m loving my life I won’t do numbers one and two. Death can be literal, that’s for sure. Martyrs are real. I don’t want to be one. That’s the unspiritual truth of it. I know people who would lay down and die today for Christ. I hope I would if the time ever comes. I hope.
But death can be a matter of our own perspective too. Some stuff has to die under the flow of the blood of Christ and to walk out a testimony. The things on the executioner’s block are different for us all. To overcome the accusation, we have to be willing to let everything die and Christ only remain.
I don’t like being accused. I don’t like it when I’m innocent or when I’m guilty. I hate it. I hate the tossing and turning while I examine and reexamine all the stuff I could’ve done differently. I don’t like it when I’m talking to someone and feel the need to edit myself to present a face I am proud of even if it’s a mask. I don’t like feeling that I’m inadequate, and when I’m counting on myself I am always inadequate.
I don’t need more self-esteem. Self -esteem needs to be on death row too.
Without the Blood of Christ, a testimony of accepting Him and laying down my own life; I stand accused.
And I am guilty.
I’m so glad that a mighty good leader is on the way and He is going to throw my accuser down once and for all on my behalf.
Three simple steps.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Motivation of My Ways

Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

I’ve been dissatisfied lately. Not with my home or my marriage or my job. I’m dissatisfied with myself.
It seems that I’m learning what my real problems are and once identified; I’ve no choice but to confront them. As often is the case, God threads a recurring theme through my thoughts until I decide to bring it all forward and look at the truth of my heart.
So we come back around to the current theme; motivation.
Have you ever wrestled with choices and decisions and yet never come to a sure understanding of what needs to be done? I think we spend much of our time choosing “the lesser of two evils.”
But the theme of motivation has birthed a new desire that has tended to grow dormant in my search for rightness...maybe it’ll all work out if I just pursue Christ.
So here’s a simple new formula. Good news, peace, good tidings and salvation. God reigns.
And this will make my life beautiful. This will leave me satisfied.
This will allow me to throw aside much of the stuff I wrestle with. The wrongs I want righted. The rights I want recognized. The recognition I wish I didn’t want.
Here is my new motivation. Let all my life proclaim, “My God reigns.”
How beautifully satisfying.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

August 27, 2006

Psalm 145:13
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Interactive Big Fun Jolly Blog

Psalm 47:2
How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!

Finish this sentence...

I know God is cool because...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Motivational Speaker

Yet another blog on watching my mouth.
I was well into my adult life when I finally learned the lesson of zipping it. I now know, but still forget, the lesson.
I only learned it the way we usually learn lessons; the hard way. After I had said something unwise I would beat myself up over it for days. It would replay in my head until I couldn’t stand to be with myself anymore. Apologizing or trying to make right didn’t take away the disappointment I felt with myself.
I needed the schooling of those regrets to mature in the way I handled myself. Today in the position I now hold, I am grateful that the Lord went ahead of me to teach me to speak wisely. Can you imagine being in a position of authority and talking like a fool? People don’t quickly forget in the workplace when you’ve messed up. But this isn’t my true inspiration.
I now realize that I hold a lot of power, and not because of my title. I can slow down and speak calm into a frenzied situation. I can reassure people that they can handle what’s happening around them. I can soothe angry emotions.
I’ve become very aware of the words that come out of my mouth and those I hear from other people and I’ve learned something. It’s not about the words literally, it’s about the motivation. I had to examine my motivation and when I let God change my heart; the words changed too.
I want to speak life, encouragement and hope into the world. I want to be a vessel of God with all of my life. I don’t want to war against God’s purpose for even the ten seconds it takes to say something stupid.
Today I saw something that made me angry and sad. Someone in my life was speaking to another person and invested a good amount of time and effort into destructive words. Telling them they had reason to worry about a situation. Informing them that people were talking about them behind their back. There was nothing worthy in any of the words. It was all spite. It was motivated by something other than the Holy Spirit.
The problem with us is that we don’t often stop to examine our own motivations. We function on auto pilot. We don’t know our own hearts well enough.
And it shows.
I’m going to continue to check myself and my motivations for actions and words. I’m going to own up to it when I’m trying to present a facade or to pursue my own agendas.
There’s nothing to inspire change like regret.
I want to be a motivational speaker; and my audience is One.

Proverbs 12:18
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Gluten-Free Heart?

Galatians 6:2
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

I love those posts where I’ve learned some deep and wonderful wisdom from the Holy Spirit and can show how I am applying the lessons of my life to the glory of God.
This is not one of those posts.
This is one of those posts where I reveal (to the surprise of no one I’m sure) that I’m a spiritual slug.
As mentioned in previous posts, my son Jay has Celiac Disease. Diagnosed three and a half years ago when he was fifteen. It’s a pretty serious auto-immune disorder that involves very strict and complicated dietary management. Controlled by diet it’s survivable.
And I hate it.
But this isn’t really about Celiac Disease It’s about the heart of people and the heart in me. And how I’ve been touched by people carrying our burden in ways that I am ashamed to say; I probably would not give back.
I can give you a short list of heart heros.
These are people who have heard about Jay’s condition and taken it upon themselves to take some of the burden on their own backs on his behalf. They have, on their own, internet searched and learned about Celiac Disease. They send me e-mails and web links with information and advice. They send me recipes and have actually purchased food items for him.
My parents top the list. They are the gluten-free king and queen. Whether taking daboyz up north or just having us all over for a barbecue, Jay is at the top of their priorities. Separate utensils, double-checked ingredients. Complicated and time-consuming recipes to accommodate his needs. The table is presented with place cards specifying gluten-free so there’s no guess-work and no accidental contamination.
My sister keeps a store of gluten-free basics in her pantry because she’s our hostess for most get-togethers. At the drop of a hat, she can whip up wonderful things for her nephew because she is always prepared.
At work Janet, Marsha and Nada are constantly finding me recipes and restaurants that will fit into his complicated diet. Usually with a computer print-out to make it easier.
Cathie and Janet are in constant prayer for Jay’s healing and inquire often as to his health.
Daboyz’ youth leaders Adam and Katie have made it their responsibility to understand Celiac Disease so when Jay is at a youth function, he can eat without any particular attention being drawn to his illness.
Local restaurant owners and waitresses who know our family (yes, we eat out too much); have made it their business to understand this little-known disease and make sure his food is uncontaminated. If we get a new waitress at our local favorite Sunday afternoon lunch spot, one of the regulars will run over to make sure she’s taking care of our boy.
My Aunt Sue and cousin Lisa live in California and mail us care packages with stuff we couldn’t purchase here for Jay; like gluten-free noodles for soup. Especially in the beginning when we were driving for hours to find anything he could eat. Their gestures not only made my life easier but took some of the heaviness from our hearts by sharing the load. And the seemingly simple act of supplying us with food made him feel that this disease was manageable.
A few weeks back we went to Coldstone Creamery and Jay ate ice cream that we thought for sure was gluten-free, and then he had a reaction. A really bad reaction. I called the restaurant just to find out what might have been in the ice cream that I wasn’t aware of for future reference. I got six follow-up calls from the local outlet to main office administration inquiring about his health and taking detailed instructions from me about how to prevent future contamination.
The heart of people leaves me humbled.
These are just a few examples of the burden-bearing we receive on a weekly basis. The list is actually endless. People invested in Jay out of nothing more than love.
The heart of Christ beating in mortal flesh.
As I said, this is a story about me and where I miss the mark. I miss the heart-mark way too often. I offer no excuses.
I just want to do better.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Nobody Nose

Ezekiel 16:11-13
11 I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, 12 and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.

Dear Lord,
As you have instructed me to do; I seek the answers to my deepest problems in your word. And so Lord, we need to talk about this.
I have the jewelry, bracelets and necklace. I have earrings and although I don't have a crown; I do have various fabulous hair accessories that I'm willing to take in trade.
Gold and silver? Well, gold and silver-colored. Does that count? My clothes are mostly fine cotton and I'm not really into embroidery being that I'm less than 120 years old. I do enjoy all variety of flour and honey type pastries and olive oil is definately the best.
I appreciate your opinion that I am beautiful and I choose to assume that others will soon realize that I am a queen.
But here's the issue Lord. I did not get the promised RING on my nose. There was a problem in translation and you gave me ZIT on my nose.
Lord, I try not to complain. But really. Zits and hot flashes happening to one person is a bit much, even if she is a queen.
I'm willing to forgo the ring, but couldya do something about this zit?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lullaby of Peace

1 Thessalonians 4:13
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

We’ve all been there. On the receiving end of an unexpected blow. Grief, tragedy, sorrow. Mourning comes for all of us many times in the course of a lifetime.
I’ve experienced personal sorrow in the passing of my grandfathers and far-removed grief on 9/11 and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
I’ve lain in bed wracked with sobs and feeling inconsolable. I’ve been confused and thought about loss until my head hurt with it.
In the loss of our Katie, I was again knocked off my feet with sadness. Tears came, faded and reappeared without rhyme or reason. I tried to imagine her mom and dad’s emotions and failed miserably. Then I was oh so glad I couldn’t imagine.
I considered what might have been for any life cut short. And I’ll admit that unless someone is past ninety, I tend to think that their life was too short.
Mostly I just do what I’ve always done with great sorrow; talked to Jesus about it and ultimately; hand it over to him.
I have such sweet friends. They love me so much more than I deserve. They literally flock to me to hover around and hold my hand. I know they cry tears on my behalf.
Today one such sweet friend hugged me gently to her for a few extra moments. She held my hand and looked hard at me to tell me how sorry she was for the loss of this young lady. She assured me that she was praying for peace for the family. She told me she’s praying for me too. Then she asked me how I was.
“OK. Actually it’s weird, I’m tired. I don’t really have anything to say. I’m just really tired.”
I was a little surprised to hear my own response. As I walked to my car, it hit me. I am tired almost to the point of sleepy. My muscles are yearning to lay down in my comfy bed and catnap. My eyes are drooping closed against my will. I slept for twelve hours last night and I’m so very tired.
This, I realize, is what grieving in Jesus looks like.
It’s peace. Deep, penetrating, overwhelming peace. Peace that descends from heaven and wraps around me. A heavy shroud of protection easing my emotions and lulling me into quietness.
I had this same sensation when my Grampa Gerstein died. I had it when my Grandpa Trent died.
I have experienced it so many times and only today did I realize what it was.
I don’t grieve like those who have no hope.
I get sleepy.
Like a baby who snuggles against her daddy’s chest and knows for sure she is safe enough to fall asleep. I called out to Jesus and he sang me a lullaby.
Peace. Be still Little One.
I will cry more tears. I will wonder and question and call out to God some more. There is visitation and a funeral and seeing others who mourn Katie yet to happen. I will need another lullaby to be sure.
Today though, I am so thankful for the lullaby of peace.
Good night Katie.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Isaiah 53:5
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

What To Say?

Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

I don’t know what to say.
They just called to tell me that Katie passed away.
She was one of the kids in our group all those years ago when the Mr. and I were youth leaders. She was sweet and silly and I don’t believe I ever saw her angry.
She was a nurturer and soft-hearted and up for anything.
She was smart and beautiful and funny.
She was riding a four-wheeler which surprises me not at all when there was an accident. She lived for six days before her injuries took her home to Jesus.
I was not ready for this. I have been praying and believing for a different kind of phone call.
So I don’t know what to say. Everything I start to speak sounds stupid and empty. It leaves me weary to the bone to consider that she’s gone.
I don’t know what to say, but I do know some things that are true regardless.
God answered our prayers, she is whole and walking around heaven. She wouldn’t come back given the choice. She doesn’t hurt and she isn’t afraid.
And God is good; all the time.
I think that’s all I have to say.

Mac's Thailand List

1. 37 baat = $1.00.
2. 20-hour plane flight.
3. Cows on leashes.
4. Chicken farms.
5. Sleeping on a mat on the floor of a church.
6. Stray dogs.
7. Waterfalls.
8. Teaching English.
9. Eating rice.
10.Church is just like "old-school church" here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Ethical Work

I’ll be honest and tell you right up front that I don’t particularly like to work. I like to be a homemaker. Drop a load of money in my bank account and I’ll quit my job tomorrow.
I have been known to say regularly of my job that it is not my life; it’s what I do to finance the important stuff.
That said, I have a problem with folks who complain about or avoid doing their jobs.
I guess we’re pretty blessed to live in a country where we have the opportunity to exchange the work of our hands and minds for money to feed our families and shelter us from the weather. So blessed I think we’ve forgotten that it’s a privilege and not a right to work.
We all know people who put more energy into dodging getting a job than actually working at a job would require. We know people who put great research into understanding “the system” so that they can take advantage of every private and government program out there to avoid taking responsibility for their own health care or daily needs.
I personally know people who make sure that their traceable income stays under the radar so that they still qualify for government assisted medical care for their children.
Shame on them.
But then there are those of us who go to work and spend eight hours a day trying to be invisible or to invent a theory by which specific tasks should not fall to us.
People who, when they hear of a procedural change, immediately start dancing around in their chairs grasping at the reason that they can’t do whatever is being suggested. Or why it makes more sense for someone else to do it.
Shame on them too.
I have a father-in-law approaching eighty years old who works at manual labor in the Tyson chicken packing plant near his home in Alabama. Suffice it to say, this isn’t at the top of anybody’s dream job list.
He does it because my mother-in-law is chronically ill and they need the Blue Cross in addition to the Medicare she receives. He does it because they have bills they have to pay off and they weren’t prepared for an easy retirement.
He is tired. He will tell you he’d like to retire. He’s been retiring “this spring” for ten years now.
But at the end of every conversation about a seventy-something year old man working at the chicken factory my father-in-law says, “Well, thank the Lord that I am still healthy and strong enough to work. I don’t know what we’d have done without Tyson keeping me on.”
He gets it, the privilege of work.
The other day I was talking to someone who had been informed of a few minor changes in their daily duties at work. Nothing overwhelming. A little inconvenient. Stuff that will demand a little more time and cause a little more hustle. They were mad about the changes and stretching to explain why it was unreasonable.
I finally had enough and here was my answer, “Are you gonna cash your check on Friday?”
Of course they are!
Then do the work.

Dear God, Forgive us for considering the privilege of work with resentment. Remind us of the fact that there have been times in this very country when strong men begged for the chance to earn loose change trying to feed their families. Help us to remember that in other countries, small children work in sweat shops struggling to survive. Make us mindful that you have placed us in this blessed nation with the opportunity to go to work and support ourselves. Let us approach our work as our reasonable service in response to our great blessing. Take the work of our days and let us glorify you with our service. In Jesus name, Amen.
Ecclesiastes 2:24
A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.


Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see, All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness, To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.


Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth;
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


Thomas Obediah Chisholm

Welcome home guys.

Thailand Prayer Request: May the mission go on and on and on...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sing With Me

Psalm 66:5
Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man's behalf!

The team’s headed home! Hooray!!
Will we ever know everything that was accomplished? Yeah, in heaven. Because the team did stuff on God’s behalf that will ripple through generations.
Today I’m inviting you to a party. Wherever you are right now, I want you to throw up your hands and give it up for Jehovah.
Look what he has done!!
How awesome are his works on our behalf!I am proclaiming this an official day of praise. I know, the team hasn’t stepped off the plane yet. I don’t care. I am going to praise. I am going to lift up my hands and shout with a voice of triumph. I am going to do the nah nah nah nah nah nah dance right in the devil’s face. Should I wait until my kid is home and I can prove that God answered all my prayers?
No way man.
I am in a praising state of mind. It’s not just about the Thailand trip. It’s about the great God in heaven who loves man and does awesome things for us.
Come on, get your praise on...

How great is our God, sing with me....

Thailand Prayer Request: Team to see the work God did!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Singing Tears

I hate crying. Unfortunately, I also tend to cry at inopportune moments. National Anthem at sporting events, movies about dogs, pretty much anything involving great pride or extreme concern about my kids. Frankly, I have had to hold it back on several occasions just watching my kid play football.
We’re winding down to the end of the Thailand mission trip and the team is headed home in a few days. I can’t wait. For someone who doesn’t like to cry, I’ve done a lot of it the last two weeks.
I know I told you that I didn’t want to hear about news stories or frightening thoughts while Mac was gone. And you guys have been awesome. Let’s just say it, everyone was watching CNN on Thursday morning. International terrorist plot against incoming commercial flights to America. Greater loss of life than 9/11. Not a good morning.
Thank you for not barraging me with the obvious. Thank you for taking it to God and letting me do the same in a way that still allowed me to function.
But oh man, the tears have been flowing. I’ve almost given up on mascara.
The tears have come from fear and frustration. They’ve also come from comfort and peace and praise. Sometimes in the same moment.
God has been teaching me a lot during this Thailand trip. He showed me that I still haven’t given up my kids completely to him. I have to keep giving them back because I keep trying to grab them away.
God has taught me to let the tears fall too. I thought they were weakness. Not so. They plant a harvest in heaven. I have learned just this week that they produce songs of joy that I have denied myself by holding back the tears.
Tears feel like vulnerability, which I do not like. And yet I am so very vulnerable. If my son doesn’t come home, I will need God to keep my feet walking through the rest of my days.
And yet; I ask with tears for him to come home to us believing that God will grant my request. The tears remind me to keep asking.
And when Mac steps off of that plane on Thursday morning around 1:00 a.m.; I will reap my song.

Psalm 126:5
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.

Thailand Prayer Request: Team to have an increased love for each other.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Makes You Wonder

This is a true story.
One of my patients is a mentally retarded paranoid schizophrenic.
He had been seen by the house physician on midnight shift because of chest pain.
The following morning I asked him how he was feeling, meaning as far as chest pain.
Thinking I was doing my usual assessment of his mental status he looked me straight in the eye and said, "My mind works as good as yours does."
Before I could respond he added, "Makes you wonder, doesn't it?"
It does indeed.

Thailand Prayer Request: Families back home, hang on!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Let Me Produce...

Galatians 5:22,23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Thailand Prayer Request: FUN! Pray for joy in serving the Lord!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Nine Is Enough For Today

1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self-control

Thailand Prayer Request: God to use Mac (& other team members) personally in a mighty way to change the lives of the people he ministers to.

Friday, August 11, 2006


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

Thailand Prayer Request: God to reveal to Mac (& other team members) some of his plans for his life.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


For Mac and the team to draw closer to God. Pray for international security agencies to have success and victory in ensuring safe flight.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My Friends

Tonight our life group will start back up after about a two month summer break. If you want to come, drop me an email. Everybody’s welcome! Right Tonya?
Tonya hosts our life group at her home with her hubby James and daughter Grace.
We get together the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month to talk about whatever Pastor J has taught the previous week or just to pray and fellowship. We ask questions and look for answers together. We live our lives alongside one another.
Sometimes Margie drops by. That’s where we first met. See, life groups bring some cool blessings into your life.
There’s nothing like Christian friends to share your journey. I didn’t even know James, Tonya and Margie a year ago. Today, I can’t imagine my life without them.
They know about my struggles and my bad days. And I know about their’s.
They know I’m imperfect (boy do they!). They take me at face value. They love my husband and my kids.
They pray for me. Oh, how they pray for me. And how quickly I’ve come to lean on and depend on them.
I have lots of Christians friends who aren’t in my life group too. My blog buddies top the list. My Metro Fam holds me up in more ways than they know.
I have friends for the long haul like T-Fab who knew me when. I’m pretty sure we’re destined to be next door neighbors in heaven. T~ is nine years younger than me and she is my teacher when it comes to friendship. . She is someone who loved me despite knowing I was short-tempered and incompetent and sarcastic and faithless and scared.
T~, without knowing it, convinced me to take off my mask.
The mask of “I never worry, I just give it to the Lord. Praise-God-Hallelujah. Glory to the Lamb.”
Over our almost sixteen year friendship she has proven that I can’t be ugly enough to lose her loyalty. That kind of love only comes from Christ.
At the first official life group I ever led I met another soul sister, aka Java Sista aka Becky. She was so brave, asking the questions that needed asking and challenging herself to find the answers. She had never met me and yet that first night she committed her life to me as my friend. She has also taught me the sweetness of friends in Jesus.
The friend who loves enough to pray with you and over you until the bad times ease on by.
The friend who holds your shame to her heart and protects you with her life.
The friend who won’t pretend you’re perfect, so you can admit you’re not and then just keep on laughing and crying and singing together until years have gone by and you’re joined at the spirit.
Now I’m surrounded by these kind of relationships. I know now why we are called brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s a step beyond friends.
I don’t just enjoy my Christian family. I need them. I need to tell them what’s going on because I want their prayer and I know I can lean on them.
I want to pray for them too, and I want to be leaned on.
So tonight our life group will start back up and we’ll fire up the coffee pot and be amazed together at grace.
We’ll take off the masks and pretense that we hide behind “out there” and learn together to be honest and sincere so God can use us.
We’ll probably giggle. We’ll definitely be opening our Bibles and digging through our concordances. We always pray and sometimes we end up crying.
Brother and Sisters in Christ.
How sweet it is.

Ecclesiastes 4:10
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

Thailand Prayer Request: Team unity.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Substance Abuse

1 John 2
1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for[a] the sins of the whole world.
3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God's love[b] is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Maybe I’m becoming something of a curmudgeon in my old age. Actually, I’m pretty sure I was one when I was younger too.
I want conversations of substance. Oh, I can be silly and ridiculous and downright stupid. Sometimes I lay down at night and wonder what possesses me to behave the way I do.
But when it comes to God stuff; give me substance. I guess this is a warning that I’m about to start challenging folks. I want to know what’s beating in your heart so if I’m unsure by what you’re saying, I’m asking the questions.
Christianity has become the only intolerable religion in a tolerant society. All other belief systems are considered cultural and brave and life-affirming while Bible-based faith is derided as judgementalism and, well, intolerance.
I cannot tolerate any more of it.
By substance I mean let’s discuss Jesus. Let’s talk about and wonder about and question the fall of man and redemption through Christ. Go ahead and debate with me if you will. Let’s look at the law and the Septuagint and the fulfillment through the Messiah.
Let’s search the scripture to find out what sin is and where we fall short of the glory of God. And how to make it right.
If you don’t believe that individuals have an eternal destiny in heaven or hell; be honest and tell me so we can examine where your thoughts come from and I can tell you about mine.
If you think the expression of my religion is zealous and over the top; don’t smile sweetly and pretend you think it’s all very admirable. Challenge me. I can take it. I long for it.
Here’s what I don’t want...the gospel according to Oprah.
“The light” or God help me, “the inner light”. What light exactly?
“I’m getting closer to God.” Please define that.
“Intrinsic goodness”, ok, you can say that but I’m gonna challenge it.
“God understands what I’ve been through”, that’s quite obvious. What does it have to do with anything?
“God and I have an understanding”, and that would be....?
OK, I could go on for quite a while here but I’m getting irritated just thinking about it.
I want to say something that is on my mind pretty much every day.
Do you or do you not believe in the Holy Bible?
I mean, if you don’t, just say so.
If you do, please find me the verse that excuses you from living full on devoted and sold out for Christ.
Why would you pray to a God you won’t serve?
Why would you thank God for dinner but not worship Him for life?
I don’t want superficial faithisms or pretentious nods to my Savior.
It hurts me. It insults Him.
We are not walking toward the light. God does understand our sin, but He doesn’t excuse it. Christ’s blood is the only way you or I are going to die and not go to hell. Living daily for God and searching for His favor is Christianity, not pretty words. You cannot know what Christianity is without the Bible being your lifeline. You cannot fake a relationship with Jesus and fool anybody. You cannot love God and resist worship.
You need God’s wisdom and strength to live a worthwhile life. God loves you despite your weaknesses and mistakes. God provided His son to die for you. Jesus Christ was a real man who willingly hung on a cross to offer his blood where yours is owed. God loves you and created you knowing you’d break his heart. God created a world with a road back to Him for you to take.
There’s a lot missing in my understanding and knowledge. The way I walk it out is sloppy and selfish and childish most of the time. I spend my days begging for God to cover my errors. I’m lazy about Bible study and take my blessings for granted. I need to grow a servant’s heart.
I need redemption.
I need to talk about it with substance.
Come on, what do you say?

Thailand Prayer Request: Kids to really understand the meaning of "doing for the least."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

You Will Laugh

Luke 6:20-22
Looking at his disciples, he said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Thailand Prayer Request: People of Thailand to receive salvation.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Things That Make God Smile

1. Babies.
2. Worship.
3. Repentence.
4. Just talking to Him about whatever's up.
5. Surrender.
6. Believing in Him.
7. Kindness.
8. Families.
9. Fabulous shoes.
10.Missionaries to Thailand.

Thailand Prayer Request: Satan's plans to be bound, God's plans to be loosed.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Who, Who, Who, Who? I Really Wanna Know 8/4

Jonah 1:1-3
Jonah Flees From the LORD
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." 3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.

There is a myth out there that living for God is all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it’s white-knuckles and running away to Tarshish.
Did you know that God will ask you to do things you don’t want to do?
I suspect you do know this. That may be why you won’t really sell yourself out to Him.
“Don’t judge me!”, you’re saying.
Oh, I’m not judging you. Couldn’t if I wanted to. Because I am you.
Of course, finally forcing yourself to do what God wants you to will result in great joy.
Not. Well, not always and not necessarily right now. Or even before you die.

Jonah 4
Jonah's Anger at the Lord 's Compassion
1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."

Sometimes you can do just exactly what God wants you to do, and end up really ticked off at what happens as a result. Jonah was angry because these foul people God made him preach to actually repented and got a second chance. Jonah wanted them to pay just a little bit for their crimes. Maybe you don’t want to forgive someone, you want to see them pay just a little bit for their crimes. Maybe doing what God wants will cost you relationships, hobbies, money, career. Maybe you feel like it will cost you, you.
You’re right. It will cost you everything.
So why do it? Why sell out? Oh, to go to heaven, you might say.
Realistically, that won’t keep you living for Christ.
You must give your whole being over to God because He is God. He doesn’t owe you a blessed thing. You owe Him the breath in your lungs and the blood in your veins.
You must turn your every thought and action over to God because you’ve no right to do otherwise.

Jonah 4
4 But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."9 But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die.”10 But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

Now, you may have skipped past all that scripture. Maybe it’s too much reading. Maybe you don’t believe in the Bible. Maybe you don’t like the way it makes you feel. Maybe you think I’m self-righteous. That’s your call. It’s between you and God.
Here’s the Cliff’s notes, Jonah ran away from God, God still found him. Jonah did what God wanted and was ticked at the results so he ran away to pout. God still found him. Jonah was mad, God told him to get over himself. God informed Jonah that he was self centered and proud and worried about things that he had no right to. The lesson was for Jonah in the end and it was this, “Just who do you think you are?”

So I’m asking, just who do you think you are?
And by you, I mean me.

Thailand Prayer Request: Safe food & water; no illness.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Gathering

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

Jesus was the one who said this.
I have experienced a lot of mixed emotions about my son, Mac, going on a mission trip to Thailand. I told him I was praying about it and I reserved the right to stop him right up until his plane leaves the ground. Or maybe I’d drive to Chicago and kidnap him as he tried to change planes!
Before the team left we parents were invited to the home of Mac’s wonderful youth leaders, Adam and his wife Katie. We had the privilege of watching the dramas the team would present to the Thai people and getting a sample of the English lessons they’ll teach.
I realized then that this was all much bigger than me or even than Mac.
Two or three had gathered together and Jesus was in the middle.
It left me speechless and crying. I stood there feeling honored just to hover at the periphery.
It was...holy.
My silly sweet goofy funny smart son was transformed as he re-enacted the creation, fall and redemption of man by portraying Adam.
In another drama he was one of the few who remained loyal to Jesus even as he was crucified. I saw my son’s heart break as though this were Gesthemane and not a backyard in Trenton.
I tried to breathe deep and control my emotions but that was foolish. We all stood there in the 90 degree humidity and wept. But we weren’t weeping any more for fear or anxiety over our children. We were weeping because they had reminded us of our salvation and the love of Christ that compels them to cross an ocean and spend 20 hours on an airplane.
How smart they are, these kids who are now in Thailand bringing love, hope and salvation to people they have never met.
They gathered together and Jesus got in the middle of it all.
God sent me a mission team on their way to Thailand.

Thailand Prayer Request: Wisdom, favor and safety of the leaders.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sara's Technicolor Housecoat

Isaiah 61:10
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness...

A few days ago the Mr. and I were at Wal Mart with Mac buying Thailand supplies. As Mac tried on various shirts and such, I wandered over to the ladies section. And there it was.
My new bathrobe.
Oh, it’s wonderful!
It’s green and white checkered seersucker with pink dragon flies and flowers embroidered around the collar. It snaps up the front.
Mmmm. My new bathrobe.
The Mr. looked upon my new bathrobe with contempt immediately. In fact, he insists on calling it a “housecoat” and says that if he’d known I’d wanted such a thing, he’d have gotten his grandma’s for me.
The Mr. is a housecoat hater.
I put my new housecoat/bathrobe on that very night. The Mr. continues to furrow his brows and make snide comments.
I don’t care. I love my new housecoat/bathrobe.
It’s light and cool and comfortable and summery.
Yes, it is a little matronly but I love it anyway.
And it was only $10.00!
I say there’s a lot of pressure out there to look hip and fabulous all the time and sometimes, you just gotta go to Wal Mart and get yourself a housecoat.
Don’t let the housecoat haters steal another evening of unencumbered bliss.
Go to Wal Mart and get yourself a housecoat.

Thailand Prayer Request-Peace for parents & family at home.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

By Faith Promises Are Fulfilled

Hebrews 11:17
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son...

Dear God,
Here is my son Mac. By faith, I will let go of him today. Thank you for his life. Protect him, guard him and give him victory. Be glorified in this trip to Thailand. Your will be done. Let your angels now surround him and your Holy Spirit be a hedge around him. Be his portion.
God, you are my God. I will trust in You alone.
In Jesus' Name,

Thailand Prayer Request: Safe flight, smooth sailing through customs.