Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Monday, August 8, 2016

Catch 'Em All

I was surprised to see so many people entering at once. Sure, it was a gorgeous summer evening. but since the park closes at dusk, they should've been heading for their cars to slowly drive past the grazing herds of deer on their way to the exit, not streaming down to the marina.

Then I realized they weren't there to soak up the sights and sounds before another day came to a close...they were glued to their phones for the latest craze. Pokemon Go.

Wikipedia describes Pokemon Go as a "free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game."

The official website encourages players to "Get Up, Get Out, and Explore!"

Get out and explore an augmented reality. Is that what people really think they're doing?

I guarantee, none of those scoring Charizards took the time to explore the horizon, catching a glimpse of the huge wingspan and oddly graceful long legs of a Great Blue Heron flying back to its nest.

Nor did Magikarp hunters catch the split second a Sunfish jumped out of the glass-like water to snag some gnats hovering over the surface, sending rippled rings outward.
Saddest of all was the masterpiece of light and color spread across the sky and reflected on the lake that went unnoticed as a Pikachu popped up in front of their eyes.

Reality wasn't augmented, it was narrowed. Their vision was diminished by a false reality.

Now before you think I'm slamming your favorite pastime, or before you nod your head at my examples and think "preach it girl!", let me challenge you with this thought about our everyday lives...

Which augmented reality are you pursuing?

Do you think you "gotta catch 'em all"? You know - that often elusive stuff you're convinced you need like a great job, nice car, good-looking spouse, perfect kids, fame, fortune, power, attention...only to find out the "base capture rate" on some or even all of it is zero?

We don't need to fire up our Pokemon Go apps to get lost in the false claims of an augmented reality. Many things in this physical world steal our attention from the Truth.

In God's economy, the "narrow view" in Matthew 6:33 that tells us to "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously," leads to the augmentation of "and He will give you everything you need."

Do you really want it all? John 10:10 says "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." That's how God does augmented reality. He gives blessings that are pressed down and overflowing.

Go ahead. Get up, get out, and explore true reality - in God's Word. In it you will find an amazing power source. Things to strengthen you, encourage you, and challenge you. You will discover a new reality that is filled with God's passion for you. It's a pretty cool place where you feel His love for you augmented with every promise you read.

Love, peace, grace, mercy, forgiveness, eternal life (the ultimate augmented reality) - go catch 'em all.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

This Post's For You

Her hand trembled a little as I grasped it to join the group in prayer over the meal. Frail and weak, she had used all her energies to make it a memorable day for me.

The trembling hand belonged to my wonderful mother who had been battling cancer for almost 8 years. I had sprung my wedding date on her 7 years prior and given her a scant 2 1/2 months to prepare. She regretted not being able to throw me a shower in that short time. Now that I was pregnant with her first grandchild, she had moved heaven and earth to get the basement finished in time to host the best party she could.

I had almost thrown a monkey wrench in the works. I was a Toastmaster and had won my club's speech giving contest, moving on to a county level against other clubs. The contest was the evening of the shower. Wanting to keep the party a surprise, she couldn't tell me the real reason she didn't want me to participate. I recall her saying things like "are you sure you should be stressing out about speeches this close to your due date?"

I laughed it off and assured her there was no stress. Not for me anyway - I'm pretty sure she had to move up the time of the shower to accommodate her stubborn and unsuspecting daughter.

Now, almost 30 years later, these thoughts come flooding back as I prepare next week's baby shower to honor my daughter who is bringing her own little girl into this world in a little more than a month.

It is all the more poignant this Mother's Day as I experience the expectant joy of the first grandchild.

My mom was kind, caring, loving, funny, beautiful and devoted to her Lord.

She had an awesome sense of humor. When she returned to work after her mastectomy she could tell a co-worker was staring at her chest during a conversation. She looked the woman dead in the eye, smiled sweetly, and said "Jean, it's the left one". "I had to put her out of her misery from wondering" she told me later.

She always said she swam like a stone...she sunk.

She could knit the most complicated things but could never get a handle on crocheting.

I was supposed to teach her how, but she passed away four months after that shower, at the much too young age of 45. We ran out of time far too soon.

As she carefully held my days-old daughter with those same trembling hands, mom said her biggest regret was that Jackie would grow up to love my mother-in-law as her only grandmother. I assured her that I would keep her memory very much alive.

This post is for you, mom. I love you.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Smile In Her Heart

She's struggled a lot...four kids, health issues, and no real income to speak of. She was on the wait list for a car, but after a year or so, she somehow scraped together a few dollars to buy a van that was better left in the junk yard. After months of trying to help her fix it each time it left her stranded on the side of the road, I told her no more good money after bad. She needed to junk it. We put her back on the wait list.

It was a long wait. Neighbors took advantage of Mary's need (I've changed her name) and charged her daughter outrageous amounts for rides to work. Often, promises of rides fell through and Mary would miss doctor appointments and trips to the food pantry.

Even after I matched her up with a vehicle, she had hurdles to overcome. Her purse had been stolen weeks before, and with it, her license and social security card. So in anticipation of getting the keys, she needed to get duplicates. She waited two weeks for a ride to the county court house to replace the social security card.

Last Friday, after having her picture taken and waiting in line for her finalized paperwork, the Division of Motor Vehicles' computer system for licenses went down - statewide. It looked like she would have to wait longer still to get behind the wheel.

Mary pleaded her case to the person behind the counter. Amazingly, they relented, handing over her ID and making her promise to return when the computers came back up to handle the final step.

She was the last person that day to get a license.

But the fight wasn't over. Back in my office all she had was a policy number for her insurance company. I told her I needed a temporary card faxed or emailed over. She got on the phone with the insurance company and they couldn't find any notes adding the new van. It was an annoyance, but we didn't think too much about it - she simply had to answer a few questions again.

They put her on hold.

Fifteen minutes...Thirty minutes...Forty-five minutes. The rep came back on, walked her through the questions, and as she was ready to hit "send", the computer went down and all the information was lost. Again!

Mary was told to call back in a few minutes. She was an hour and a half into this latest odyssey and felt utterly defeated. It seemed like the van sitting right outside my office, so close, was just out of reach.

She started to cry. 

As she dialed again and was put on hold once more, I looked at her and said "Mary, I'm done. This is ridiculous. Enough is enough - we need to pray!"

I asked God to bind all that was at work creating havoc with the process. I acknowledged His power over not only people but situations. I asked for peace for Mary as He worked out all the details.

In less than two minutes, a rep came on, walked her through the application, and emailed her a temporary card.

In I John 5:14 we are reminded: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

From there on out, it was smooth sailing. Mary went back to the DMV, got the title transferred to her name and received the new registration.

Twenty-seven months after being put on the wait list the first time, Mary got her van. Not only wasn't it held together with tape and a prayer like her last vehicle, it had the bonus of a DVD player for her two younger kids. She was over the moon.

But Mary's story doesn't end there.

The following day, she loaded up her family in that new van and came to the Easter Brunch we hold for our food pantry clients.

After a delicious lunch and a time of egg decorating, kids from our children's ministry drama team called Family Time Live, put on a show. The theme that day was "hope...believing that something good can come out of something bad."

After the show, as everyone was leaving, Mary took me aside.

"I know you keep telling me to trust God and believe Him, but today, those kids got to me. I finally understood. I had been smiling with my lips, but now, I'm smiling with my heart. I saw something good come out of something bad!"

There were tears in her eyes again, but this time, they were tears of joy.

My friend, when it seems like the wait is never-ending...when it feels like the answer to your need is just out of reach...do not despair. Something good can come out of something bad.

James 1:17 tells us this truth - "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

We are commanded in Psalm 27:14 to"Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord."

And in Psalm 5:3 it says "In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch."

Eagerly watch in anticipation of His answer.

Be strong and take courage that He is faithful to uphold His promises.

Pray in expectation of what God is doing and has already done even though you don't see it yet.

He will take your circumstances, no matter how hopeless and somehow, someway, make something good come out of them. He'll put a smile in your heart.

Just ask Mary.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Of Grace, Mercy, and Mini Fridges

He hurt me. Not physically, but there were still scars.

My friends know most of the story. Many blog followers have read the resulting journey over the past few years.

But recently, there was a twist to my story that I never saw coming. Something changed and I know it's nothing but God.

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, I received a call from my ex-husband. Once cocky, antagonistic, and proud, he has been beaten down by life.

I am not happy about this. I am not gloating over his misfortune. I don't believe karma has come calling. 

What I think God may be doing is priming his heart to hear His truth. 

During the call, I learned he's pretty much lost everything. A four year dating relationship ended. Unable to find a management position for several years, he's delivering pizzas for a "living"...if you can call making under $250 for 40 hours worth of work, a living. He now resides in someone's basement and often when he stores his food in their kitchen, they help themselves to it.

He kept saying "what am I missing?  I feel like this is the end for me. It will never get better. My life is over. There's no way out. What am I not doing right?"

I let him go on in this manner for half an hour before speaking.

"You're missing what you've always been missing. God. You need Him in your life. You need to get on your knees, confess your sins, and ask Jesus into your heart."

That may sound like a harsh response, but the Truth is the truth and it needed to be said. My tone was not critical, but concerned. For all our difficulties, I have no desire to see him spend eternity in hell.

We talked for a few more minutes and said goodbye. I was shocked to discover compassion welling up inside me. The desperation in his voice moved me to action.

I went on Facebook to a local online yard sale page and said I was in search of a mini fridge. Within minutes someone sent me pictures and I agreed to purchase it.

I texted my ex and told him where to meet me the following day in order to pick up the fridge. He said he didn't have enough gas to get there but he'd figure something out.

We met at the woman's address and loaded the refrigerator into his friend's jeep. I also handed him two bags of groceries from the food pantry I run as well as some gift cards for gas. I could tell he was overwhelmed and uncomfortable receiving the help. He teared up as he thanked me over and over. It was strange seeing him like this.

I asked if he'd eaten that day. "Half a peanut butter sandwich" was the reply. I treated him to pizza and handed him the change from the $20. He told me it was the first time he'd felt like a human being in months.

A few days later he contacted me again saying someone had found the resume he'd posted on line eons ago and he had an interview.

"Can you believe that?"

Once again, I had an opportunity to point him toward God.

"Yes, I can. That's how God works. A few days ago you said you couldn't see a way out. That things would never get better. But God shows Himself in impossible situations. He comes out of left field, and provides in a way that our limited imagination could never conceive. He does it so that He gets the glory. There's no explanation other than God."

I don't know what the results of that interview will be, but I know that a man who was desperate...who confessed to being depressed to the point of being suicidal...has renewed hope. I don't know what the results of my words will be either, but I pray they will ultimately lead to a renewed life.

I could have kicked my ex-husband when he was down, pointing to any number of hardships his actions have caused me. I could have done nothing, considering his circumstances payback for what he's put me through. Many would say either response was justifiable. But God responds to hurts with grace and mercy.

Grace came in the form of the miracle God did in my heart.

He gave me the gift of supernatural forgiveness. A desire to help when it would have been easy to turn a blind eye. Compassion to see the need. A heart to share His eternal truth.

And God's mercy?

It takes on many forms, but this time it looked remarkably like a mini-fridge in the back of a borrowed jeep.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Fifteen weeks ago, I learned my daughter and her husband were expecting my first grandchild.

To realize my "little girl" is becoming a mother herself is a surreal experience.

And to say it was an exciting moment, would not do the depth of my joy justice.

As I ponder this miracle, the words of the psalmist take on new meaning...

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

Yes, we can now see the development of this tiny babe who is just 5 months old. We see hands and feet, eyelids and nose, even, through the miracle of 3D ultrasound, the chambers of her heart and her bones!

But God saw her when she was unformed. 

Before my daughter had any inkling that life had been created inside her, He saw the cells dividing and forming.

Before anything appeared on a doctor's monitor, He knew her sex, her eventual height and weight, the timbre of her voice.

Before we meet her face to face and watch her grow from infant to toddler, child to teen, young woman to adult, He knows her eye and hair color, her skills and gifts, her temperament.

He knits her together, bone and muscle and brain, and He knows all that will happen in her life.

She is fearfully and wonderfully made.

His works are wonderful. But do I know that full well?

I ask the question because I've also pondered other things lately...about myself.

Things that seem not quite so miraculous and wondrous. I ask the question:

As I grow older and things begin to wrinkle a bit here, sag a bit there.

As I reach for the box of color a little more often to cover my "stubborn gray".

As it takes a little longer to recover from the aches and pains of exercising at the gym.

As I begin to look in the mirror and some days, struggle to believe there is beauty and potential in the face looking back at me.

But I too am fearfully and wonderfully made.

He does not create and walk away. His works are wondrous at every age.

He knew the timing of that first gray hair. His word tells me "Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life." (Proverbs 16:31)

He knew that my body would slow down a bit, but He says "Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."

He knew despite the wrinkles and sags, I am still full of potential and He can and will use me. "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree...They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green..." (Psalm 92: 12-14)

Yes, my unborn granddaughter, me, you...all of us are fearfully and wonderfully made.

And I know that full well.