For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Treasures of my Heart

Proverbs 24:3-4
By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

Tim and I hiked through one of Kelleys Island's nature preserves. We trekked along a grass and dirt path until we reached a boardwalk, made of recycled plastic, that rambled through the woods and over the wetland. On the other side, the trees opened up onto a lovely little beach. White sand, created from waves breaking up tiny white shells, sparkled in the sun. As we wandered along the water's edge, we searched for treasures. Not gold or silver, but pretty rocks, pebbles, and lake glass. Lake Erie did not disappoint. We found pink, red, and interesting green rocks along with white, green (two shades) and brown lake glass. As we wandered along, some children playing nearby showed us their finds, including a live turtle they were watching. What a fun trip!

Once we got back home, I cleaned the rocks and glass and added them to my growing collection. I love my treasures. They are memories of my life. Our home is filled with things that remind us of the people we love and the God we worship. So much of what we own reflects the gifts God has created and given. 

Proverbs 24 reminds me my home should be built with wisdom, established on understanding, and that treasures come from knowledge. I believe the wisdom refers to the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit. For my house to truly be a home, God must come first. Understanding reflects our relationship with Jesus and the personal interest he has in us. Knowledge represents God's word of truth, the Bible, which is chocked full of rare and beautiful treasures. Without these elements, my home would be empty. I want Jesus' love, joy and peace to fill our house. I love my rocks and lake glass, but I treasure the heart of our home so much more, which is Jesus.

The treasures that fill the home should also fill the heart.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Lord is my Rock

Psalm 18:2
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.


I had something else in mind to write today, but I've tucked those words away for another time. Instead, my mind and heart are with the folks who have been through or are waiting on the forces of nature that have let loose. Texans dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Harvey, Floridians and other southerners who watch and wait on hurricane Irma. The folks out west praying for rain to put out the wildfires.

Dan Walsh, an author whose books I've reviewed, lives with his wife in Florida. He's been giving updates on Facebook as they pray and watch the weather channel. After so many changes in predictions, Dan posted that he was putting the situation in God's hands. I would hope in the same situation, that I'd have the faith to trust God. But how difficult that would be. Worry loves to wiggle in and take over. But God counters those thoughts with instruction to trust him, even when the situation seems impossible. Don't think for a minute that I haven't fretted. I've done my share. But I'm thankful I have a place to go with my concerns.

I'm sure we all know someone affected by the disasters around the globe. Please join me as I pray for the folks in the eye of the storm.  


Proverb 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The One Who Created Science

Genesis 1:27
So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

A magazine came across my desk this week. The front cover posed this question, "Where did we really come from?" Curious, I opened to the page of the article. I thought maybe there was a tiny chance that someone was writing about the creation story. Instead I found another argument for a different theory.


Understand this about me—I love nature, and I respect science. In biology class, I was fascinated with photosynthesis, the life stream of plants. I enjoyed learning about flowers and found animal habitats interesting. I still enjoy being outdoors watching birds and wildlife. I was excited in Maine when we learned about the lobsters and puffins. So when I read the question, "Where did we really come from?" I already knew my answer. I've prayed and studied over this for a long time.

I believe with all my heart that God created me. He held me in his heart before I was even born. God made me to reflect his image. I may not always do that because we live in a sinful world, and I confess, I sin. But I know, without doubt, that God put me on this earth with purpose. He knew me and he knows my life. Some might wonder how I can embrace God and science. My answer—because I believe God invented science. The galaxies? God tossed every star into place. The butterflies? God painted every delicate wing. My grandbabies? God formed them before we knew them. God gave us the gift of science to help us cope with this crazy world. He has his hand in medicine, technology, astronomy (remember the recent eclipse) agriculture (he did plant the first garden) and every other science we know. My faith in the truth of the Bible leads me to believe that God is the giver of life. He is the one who understands everything because he created everything. I praise God, because his works are amazing! 
Psalm 139:13-14For 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.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

God Got our Attention

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Photo by Maggie Wickline-Jowers
On Monday afternoon, I joined the large group gathered on the commons in front of the college. A buzz of voices bounced about as we waited to see the much anticipated solar eclipse. In Ohio, we knew we'd only see about a 92% eclipse, nevertheless folks were pumped. Would the skies grow dimmer? Might the temperature drop? How would it look? As the clock approached two-thirty, several of us popped on our solar eclipse glasses and gazed up toward the giant star that lights our days and the satellite that orbits the earth. The moon passed over the sun. At 92% a sliver of sun remained visible.  The sky's appearance looked as if I was wearing Polaroid sunglasses and the temperature dropped a few degrees. After I finished checking out this rare phenomenon, I loaned my glasses to folks near-by. As I watched the crowd, I had to smile. For several minutes on a Monday afternoon, everything stopped. No matter who I stood beside, we shared the same purpose. People smiled and laughed, chatted and shared their experience. A little bit of peace covered us.

I loved that we all stopped what we were doing, put away our concerns, and tucked in our differences to gaze on the wonder God created. In all the chaos of this life, God grabbed our attention.

Since then I've thought about another time when everyone will stop what they're doing. A moment, expected yet unknown. A time when all eyes will look to the sky. We won't need NASA certified glasses to cover our eyes. Instead we'll need hearts that have accepted and believe the Lord Jesus Christ is Savior. There won't be a specific time designated by astronomers. Instead, he will come in the twinkling of an eye. Jesus will appear in the clouds to collect his followers, both those who have died and those still alive on earth. All eyes will look to Jesus on that day, the day he returns to gather his children and take them to heaven. I don't know about you, but I'm excited to see Jesus. I'm not sure when he'll come back, but I know he will. I have faith in the truth of the Bible and that God keeps his promises. When Jesus appears in the clouds, everyone will stop and look up. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Freedom and Hope

2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Sixty-five lighthouses dot the coast of Maine. Those historical lights drew Tim and I to visit the beautiful north-eastern state. I've loved lighthouses for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure when I first learned of their existence and purpose, but it seemed I always knew the grand buildings saved lives and provided safety for fishermen and ship's crews. One of the lights we visited, Portland Head Light, is a majestic white structure surrounded by a home and several smaller buildings. As I wandered the property, I rounded the corner of the house and spotted a large stone.  A plaque told me the poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, sat and penned his lighthouse poem there.
Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same,
Year after year, through all the silent night
Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light!
The poem reminds me of the hope I have in Jesus.

Steadfast—He's always here for me.
Serene—The calm in my storm.
Quenchless flame—His light cannot be put out. 
Inextinguishable light—Always shining, no matter what.

The world is a mess right now. Every day we hear stories of death and destruction. If I'm being honest—and I am, the terror scares me. I think of the world my grandchildren are growing up in and speculate about what it will be. Yes—I've gone down the road of "what if." But before I get too far gone, the Holy Spirit taps me on the shoulder and reminds me of the light. The one light that brings hope. The one that is never extinguished. You see, regardless of all the evil in the world, we have hope. Constant hope in Jesus. He's the one who brings peace and joy, the one who gives freedom from the world. He's the one who hears my prayers. He gives me freedom from fear and worry, because I know he has me in his hands. I pray for this world and the hurting. In my prayers, I ask that everyone will find comfort and peace in Jesus. He is the one who gives true freedom. The one who offers hope.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

He's the One Who Knows My Story

Psalm 62:5-8
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

This summer, Tim and I had our first experience in kayaks. I loved splashing through the fast-moving water as much as drifting quietly along the river. A number of times we hit rapids that sprayed up and soaked us. We were having a blast.



Then around one of the curves, the river forked. I rowed left and Tim paddled right. I went over some rapids and thought I was free and clear—until I hit a pile of rocks. I tried to push off with the oar, but I wasn't strong enough. I looked for Tim. He was too far ahead of me to paddle back against the current. Thinking I could get out of the situation by myself, I climbed out and promptly plopped into the water. After I laughed at myself, I stood up and tried to maneuver the kayak so I could get back in. But the rapids kept tugging, as I tried pulling. I wasn't winning. Finally I asked God for help. In a few minutes, another kayaker reached me and helped me climb back in. Then he shoved me off the rocks.

So many times in my life I've thought "I can do it myself," but I couldn't. Too many times I've fallen into the water of life and gotten stuck on stubbornness and blinded by selfish ambition. I struggled and wrestled with a situation, before I'd cry out to God for help. Why didn't I turn to him when he's the one who knows my story, the one who loves me inside out. I'm trying to be better about seeking God's wisdom before I get stuck. I know I trust him with all of my heart. But knowing isn't enough. I have to bow before him and seek his guidance. Every.Single.Day. He's my refuge and my rock.



I can't do life on my own. I need Jesus. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Start the Conversation

Psalm 55:16-17
As for me, I call to God,
    and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.

As a new mom, I didn't get much sleep. My babies' cries stirred me out of bed, sometimes more than once a night. For the most part I'm a sound sleeper, but for those years when my little ones needed me I heard their call. As my children grew into teens and tweens, they'd come to me— sometimes excited about their day, sometimes in tears. When they went off to college, my phone would ring and their sweet voice would say, "Mom." Joy filled my heart. Even now, I react the same way. When my children and grandchildren call my name, it fills my heart to overflowing, even when the tears flow.

On my desk at work I keep a little knick-knack. From a clay base, two stars shoot up on each end. In the middle, the words "Pray Often" are carved. I love that reminder. I need that reminder. God loves to listen to his children. If I wake up in the middle of the night, God is there to listen. When I'm driving, working, playing, God is there to listen. So what keeps me from calling on him? Distraction, lack of faith, too busy, don't care? There's no excuse that should keep me from talking to my heavenly Father. He wants to hear from me. Whether I'm rejoicing or sobbing, God has my heart. He hears my cry. And he answers. Through the Bible, other people, circumstances—HE LISTENS and ANSWERS! Wow, that's good news.


Don't wait to pray when you're in a panic, start a conversation and just talk to him. He's available 24/7. He wants to hear from us. He loves us.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Broken and Blessed

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I just spent the weekend with amazing ladies—dear, dear friends—from Kentucky Christian College. We first met over forty years ago, when we all attended KCC. Since then our paths diverged all over the country; yet it's like we were never apart. That's because we've all kept loving Jesus. You see he's the reason we all converged on KCC in the 70s. We loved the Lord and wanted to serve him.

Thanks to social media, snail mail, and phone calls, we've reconnected and found our love for each other and God still holds true. I'd venture to say that love is even stronger.  We discovered, as a group, we've suffered broken hearts, failed relationships, parents growing old, our children's heartbreak, health issues, and the oh so human struggle with sin. Our dear friend, Holly, shared a devotion with us. She talked about the tears of God and how we shed tears in times of fear, sadness, depression, and even joy. But he takes them and stores them in his bottle, on his scrolls—Psalm 56:8. He gathers our tears and heartaches because he loves us. He holds our tears and understands our sorrows.

I'm a broken person. One who has lived life, suffered, struggled, and sinned. I'm also one who has asked forgiveness and felt God's grace and love pour over me. Even though my friends and I have all experienced the pains of life, we've been blessed by the hope that comes only through Jesus. Jesus is the way to a life of joy and peace. He's the way to heaven. I praise God for friendships anchored by the hope that is in him!

Psalm 116:8-9
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.





Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Measure of Growth

Colossians 1:9-14
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

When we vacationed in Maine, Tim and I took a "Lobster Tour." Our first afternoon in that beautiful state we boarded the Lucky Catch, on the Casco Bay in Portland. The little red boat held about fourteen tourists ready to learn about the trade of lobstering. First, we filled mesh bags with chubs and herring, then tied them into the traps. The captain taught us about the traps, how the larger lobsters get caught and the little ones have an escape hatch. The whole experience was hands-on. When we pulled in the traps and found a female, they showed us she was a layer and threw her back. Then the captain demonstrated which of the larger male lobsters to keep and which to send back to the water.


The captain grabbed the lobster and a gage. He hooked one end of the measuring tool to the socket behind the lobster's eye, then drew the other end straight down along the crustacean's carapace (back). The minimum length had to be three and a quarter inches for him to keep it. Otherwise back to the deep they went for a chance to grow.

Like those lobsters that get thrown into the sea, God wants me to keep growing. My Father knows where I am as a believer. He knows my heart and sees my soul. When I think of ways to grow spiritually I call up the verses in Galatians where Paul names the Fruit of the Spirit. My love needs to multiply. Does God draw me through the fires of life to increase my compassion for people? I'm willing to say yes. Does he require I wait to develop patience? Of course. How about experiencing hurt and pain to remember to be kind and gentle. Yes! God wants me to grow in my relationship with Jesus. He wants me to strengthen my knowledge of his word. Does he use a gage to measure my growth? No, instead he checks my heart. Jesus knows me. He loves me and he wants me to be filled with joy. And that takes growth—in learning his word, in prayer, and in obedience.


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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

God's own Hands

Isaiah 44:23
Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.

I never get tired of experiencing God's amazing creation. On our trip to Maine this week, we spent a day in the rural area between Portland and New Harbor. We journeyed up the coast across parts of the Casco Bay. Trees lined the roadways; not just fence lines of scrubs or a spruce here and an oak there. Instead we passed by forested areas grown by God's own hands. I couldn't help but wonder what animals roamed the woods. Maybe a bear or a moose. But those were left to my imagination. Other areas we crossed were covered by wetlands and waterways. Everywhere we looked, beauty sang a song of glory to the Creator.

As I prepare to leave the great state of Maine, I thank the Lord for the experience to visit another area of the world. No matter how large or small the geographical areas in my life are, I know God's hands formed everything. From the sandy beaches to the evergreen trees to the call of the sea gulls, I witnessed the glory of God by his presence in this amazing environment. I love his incredible imagination and wisdom.


Shout to Him with joy, for He is good!
Do you connect to God through nature?  

Friday, July 7, 2017

I'm Not Home Yet

John 14:1-4
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Have you ever prepared for a long trip? A journey to a new place? An adventure of a lifetime. We've spent the last few months booking places to stay, creating lists of things to do, pages of what to pack and mapping out a route. Maybe you do this for vacation, taking a child to college, or moving across the country. This year, we'll be packing our bags for a week long excursion across several states. I'm excited to go places I've never been and see things I've only dreamed of. But to go from dreaming about the trip to actually loading the car and driving off, we've had to get ready.

In John 14, Jesus talks about a different kind of journey he's designing for his followers. Building 429 sings, Where I Belong, a song that talks about not being home yet and looking forward to the time when they'll meet Jesus face-to-face. Even as Jesus sets the table in his Father's mansion and lays out a path for me to follow, I need to prepare for the journey. I can't just sit around and dream about the day I'll see Jesus. I need to pray and listen to his voice. I want to follow his map, the Bible. I try to obey my God and Savior, as I anticipate his coming. He's promised to return for the faithful. I praise God for his grace and the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven. I know I'm not home yet. But someday I will be spending my days at the feet of Jesus' throne.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Reflections of the Heart

1 Corinthians 13:12
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.


Before July ends, I will celebrate another birthday. I've chalked up a lot of experience in the years I've lived. As I looked in the mirror this morning, my reflection stared back. White hair, tired eyes, wrinkles and frown lines. Life mapped out on my face. Sounds depressing doesn't it. Until I look past the physical markings and see the cheeks my husband, children, and grandchildren kiss. The hair I still have. The eyes that take in the beauty of the natural world. I see hints of my mom and my dad, resemblances to my siblings. Years of worry and sadness are balanced by many more moments of joy and love.

Somewhere in the reflection, I recognize the love Jesus pours over me. The grace he offers freely. Even as I live on earth, I see Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, the apostle Paul talks about "a reflection as in a mirror," as in what we see now—today—here on earth. But "then we shall see face to face," not in a mirror but face to face. Jesus will return to take his followers, the believers, the obedient—and then we will see him face to face. Not just a reflection, but our true Savior will stand in front of us in all of his glory. What a joy that will be!

As I reflect on my life, I pray that my heart reflects the deep love I have for Jesus and the grace he's given me. I praise God for many years lived surrounded by people I love.
Proverbs 27:19 As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

He is my Rock

Malachi 3:6
"I the Lord do not change."

I've joked that the most consistent thing about working in a library is change. New software, new methods of teaching, new information, new ways of getting the information. Constant change keeps the library moving into the twenty-first century.

Monday, the three librarians I work with and I set up our office and a temporary library in two classrooms. We moved the essential books and whatever we needed to work in the space, while the library is getting sprinklers and new heating and cooling. I've lost count of the changes that have occurred in the eleven years I've worked for Clermont. But I can tell you this—I've struggled with every single one.

I'm not good with change. I like my routine. I like the workflow I've set up. I like my office space. Yet, every time a change has been made, I've adjusted (sometimes with whining.) But each time, I've learned the new software, pushed my office chair to a different desk, or moved books to a different location, I've adapted.

For all the change I see in my daily life, I am so thankful that the God I love, does not change. He's always the same. He loves me and wants the best for me. He's ready to listen to my prayers and answer them. God is the same—All.The.Time! No matter how frustrated I get, worried I become, or troubled I am, God stays the same. He's my rock. He loves me. He knows what's ahead and why the change is necessary. And he knows what's best for me. Praise God he is the great I am.

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. Psalm 95:3

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Muck of Worry

Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

When I was a young teen, I nearly drowned. I was swimming with my friends in their pond and I felt like I was pulled under. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't push myself up. Fortunately, my friend noticed and one of her brothers caught hold of me and tugged me out of the water. I don't know if my foot got trapped in the muck at the bottom or if a whirlpool caught me, but I was sinking with little hope of swimming my way out. Lately, I've had that overwhelming feeling that I'm caught at the bottom of a pond, struggling to swim to the top. That's what worry does.

Worry causes me to take my eyes off of the one who calms my soul. I'm not anxious about money, or my health. I'm not as anxious as I used to be about our kids. Although, I can still work up a good worry about them. But the one area that makes my anxiety go up, like the mercury in a  thermometer on a ninety-degree day, is my grandchildren. With Facebook, Twitter, newspapers and the news, I read way too much bad news. So far this summer I've read probably fifteen different stories about how bad ticks and mosquitoes will be this summer and the diseases they carry. People have posted lots of articles on water safety/tragedies. Then there are the other stories that I hate to even mention, that involve children. Please understand, I take all of this seriously, but I shouldn't let it terrify me.

Instead I should take my concerns to the one I trust the most. The God of all creation, who made the universe and counted every silver hair on my head. Our children and grandchildren are growing up in trying times. One tragedy after another. And all I want to do is protect them all. But that's not my job. No, my job is to pray. To ask God to watch after the little ones, and not so little ones. To seek God's guidance as I share life with them. Instead of spending time drowning in the depths of worry, I hit my knees and asked forgiveness for not trusting the one who holds my heart and the hands of our grandchildren. They are a valuable treasure, God has given me. Instead of worrying I want to spend my time encouraging them and teaching them about the hope I have in the Lord.

Worry is a pariah that results in paralyzing fear. Instead of worrying—pray and trust God.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Heartfelt Thanks

Colossians 2:6-7
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

In the past month, we've received six thank you notes. Two in our mailbox, three on my desk at work, and one via messenger. We've been blessed to be included in a wedding, graduations, the birth of a baby and a housewarming. One was for my years of service where I work. Each time I opened a card and read the heartfelt words, I felt good. My heart was happy at the simple, but kind, gesture of someone taking the time to say thank you. Years ago it was the custom to pen thank you notes and send them often. I'm a little sad that our society has gotten away from that.

From receiving the notes, I realized how I've failed to continue the custom of thanks. A custom that predates our society. The Bible speaks often of giving thanks. Paul told the folks who received his letters how thankful he was for them. The Old Testament is full of moments when people gave thank offerings to God. Daniel thanked God for his wisdom. 

We hear a lot lately about being a kinder society. I believe if we give thanks more often, the kindness will follow. Paul writes in Colossians that we should be "overflowing with thankfulness." Certainly, that thankfulness should be given to God. But let's not forget to thank our spouses, friends, children, co-workers, and family, too. Maybe even write a note of thanks. Try that this week and see what happens.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Did Martha Go Wash the Dishes?

John 11:21-27
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

I like Martha; Jesus' friend and Lazarus and Mary's sister. Too often she gets a bad rap. She's accused of worrying about the practical things while her sister rested at Jesus' feet, learning. But when you read the rest of her story...

Martha loved her brother and sister. It appears she takes good care of the household they share. Of course Lazarus has responsibility as the male in a Jewish household. No doubt, Mary does her part. But Martha makes sure the everyday things get done. Food is prepared, water is drawn, floors are swept, clothes are cleaned. But don't be fooled by Martha's focus on the essentials.

In her story from John 11, her brother Lazarus has died. Martha and her sister sent for Jesus, but he arrived after the fact. I'm sure she and Mary prepared Lazarus body with oils before they laid him in the cave and pushed a rock in front of it. So they knew Jesus was too late to heal their brother. I'm guessing Mary wanted to sit at Jesus' feet again and listen to his wisdom and comfort. But Martha wanted hope. In her heart she knew Jesus' power, she understood his significance, she believed he was the Son of God. That faith paid off. Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave and brought him back to life.

Martha and Mary witnessed this miracle up close and personal. Did Martha go wash the dishes? No, she confessed her faith to Jesus. When Martha needed to, she took care of business. Yet, along with her can-do spirit she worshiped her Lord and shared his hope. I like Martha. She's a nice blend of practical and faithful. Her feet scurried around the house even as her heart was full of Jesus' love.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Saturday, May 27, 2017

They Will Walk and not be Faint

Isaiah 40:31
...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

When I worked in an elementary school library, I met a lot of children. Fortunately for me, my path has crossed with many of them over the years. I enjoy learning who they've become as adults. I've even had a few of them work for me at the college library. Today my story is about one little girl. As clear as day, I still see her sweet face peeking at me over my desk as she waited to check out a book. She had a beautiful smile with a hint of shyness. My husband delivered bottled water to her family, and he'd told me a little bit about them. "Good people," he said.

Hannah attended our school for a while, but eventually moved to a different district. But the Lord had plans for our paths to cross. We met up again at church, where I got to know her family. Though our journeys have taken us different directions again, I still keep in touch with her folks. The other day, her dad posted Hannah's photo on Facebook. In the picture, she's wearing glasses, her hair is pulled back, her cap pulled down and she's carrying a huge pack. But under it all is the sweet, shy girl I remember. And that sweet girl is all grown up and going through basic training as she prepares to serve her country. I'm thankful we have people like Hannah, who love God and the USA. God has blessed me just by knowing her.

This Memorial Day, I say a prayer of thanks for the men and women who gave their all for our freedom. I also ask you to pray with me for those who are fighting the fight. I pray the words of Isaiah and ask that "They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Purpose and Passion: Mary of Bethany

Matthew 26: 6-13
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you,  but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

In Jesus time, before a person was buried his loved ones poured oil on the body as an acknowledgement of their love and to help with the decomposition. When the woman in the story poured her perfume on Jesus head the disciples didn't understand. But the woman did. This woman who is the sister of Martha, from the Martha and Mary story, loved Jesus. He was her mentor, her teacher, and her friend. And she knew his time on earth would soon end.

Mary of Bethany is one of my favorite women in the Bible. If you remember, she was the one who sat at Jesus feet while Martha prepared food for their company. Now she's going against the societal grain again and preparing Jesus for his death, when he hasn't yet died. The beauty in Mary's story is her obedience. God gave her a task to do and she listened. Both times, in Simon the Leper's home and in her own house, she worshiped Jesus. Without doubt, Mary understood Jesus inevitable demise, but she also knew in her heart he was the King of kings and he'd keep his promise to return.

Mary had a heart for God, faith in Jesus, and an understanding of her purpose. Someone said the other day, find your passion and you'll find your purpose. Mary's passion was obeying God, her purpose was being a dear friend to Jesus. I believe God places our purpose on our hearts and guides us in them day-to-day. Mine is encouraging and giving hope. I can't change the world, but I can share my love for Jesus and offer hope in the midst of strife. I pray I have a heart for Jesus as Mary did; that I'll do beautiful things for my Lord.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

God Freed Mary from the Ordinary

Luke 2:6
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son.

Acts 1:14
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.


From beginning to end, Mary loved her son, Jesus. She cuddled him in the manger and stood with him at the cross. And she prayed.

Day after day, Mary labored beside her family members, probably her grandmother, mother, sisters, aunts and cousins. Between carrying water, preparing food, and watching out for the families children, she worshiped God. She loved her heavenly Father and followed his direction. When he called on her to be the mother of Jesus, although she was troubled, she obeyed.

Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

I've been reading a book by Sharon Jaynes, How Jesus Broke the Rules to Set You Free. She tells the stories of several women in the Bible and how Jesus gave them respect and love. In Mary's chapter she writes, "God freed Mary from an ordinary life and freed her to fulfill an extraordinary purpose." Isn't that beautiful? In obedience we're set free! God requires obedience, not because he wants to control us. But because he has an amazing life in store for us. Mary's life was truly incredible. She was the mother of Jesus. I can't imagine how extraordinary that would be. She knew him in a way no one else did. And he loved her as only a son could.

John 19:26-27 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple [John] whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

As a mother and daughter, I've been blessed beyond anything I could imagine. I pray that I continue to obey the Lord and pass the blessings on to my mom and daughters.

Happy Mother's Day and God bless!




Jaynes, Sharon. How Jesus Broke the Rules to Set You Free. Eugene, OR, Harvest House Publishers, 2015.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Life is Not a Checklist

1 Thessalonians 1:3
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

I like lists. I have, for as long as I've put pen to paper. On my desk at work, a pad of lined paper rests between me and my computer. I use the notes I jot down to prompt me to complete tasks I've been given. At the top, I've written the typical things I do each week, plus the emergency phone numbers for the college. Under that, I list projects, reminders, social media needs, and anything else I should remember. By the end of the week, I've checked off finished items, made addendums, and recorded new ideas. Without my notes, there's a great chance I'd forget to do something important at work.

As much as I like lists, I can't live my life by checking off boxes. Organization works wonders for a project. But not so much for life. Living life is more about prompts, nudges, crossroads, inspiration, and endurance. Life in Christ includes hope, conviction, the nudgings of the Holy Spirit, opportunities to serve, and unexpected joy. I've seen a cartoon that depicts life in two boxes. What we think life might be, a straight line from point A to point B. Or what life really is, a squiggly line that curves every which way from point A to point B. There have been stretches in my life when I've tried to live off of a check list, trying to get from A to B with the least resistance. Each time God has had other plans.

If you're a parent, take time to play with your kids. If your children are teens, hang out with them. 
If you're married, date your spouse. 
If you're single enjoy the adventure God's given you.   
If you work outside the home, stop and ask your co-worker how their day is going. 
Take the walk, pet the dog, smell the flowers.
My point--God has plans for me. If my head is focused on a list all the time, I'm going to miss out. I want to live like the Thessalonians who were prompted by love and inspired by hope. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Oh, to be a Bird!

Matthew 6:25-27
 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"

The gold finches and house finches visit the feeder beside our porch. We hung it at the beginning of spring and have been blessed with fluttery visitors ever since. After work, I often sit in my Adirondack chair, camera in hand, hoping to catch a photo of these sweet beauties. If you're a fan of gold finches, you've noticed that the male bird's feathers dull with winter. This mechanism of molting hides him from predators. With spring, his plumage returns to a bright yellow to attract his mate. I am amazed how God takes care of the tiniest details of his creation.

Finches love to eat thistle and milkweed. Even though I enjoy having them at my feeder, they don't depend on me for food. God takes care of them. He supplies their need. How much more does he do for me? And why do I worry? I read the other day that worry causes stress and anxiety, but concern results in action/prayer. Worry blows circumstances up to ridiculous proportion. While prayer offers peace and guidance. Jesus is telling us to stop worrying about the basics and keep our minds on the spiritual. Eat what we have, wear what we have and be more concerned about our souls. Feed on spiritual food and grow in him. Praise God he values us!


Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sowing the Seeds

1 Corinthians 3:5-9
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Early this morning I went outside and dug a little ditch behind our lilies. In the row I sprinkled seeds, zinnias and forget-me-nots. The seed packets suggested I plant them in April, where they would grow in full sun. Zinnias have filled my flower beds with color before. I love the bright reds, pinks and yellows. The blue forget-me-nots will be pretty with the orange tiger lilies. Hopefully in a few weeks, I'll see little green sprouts pop out of the ground.  But, all I can do now is water and wait. I can't make them grow. That's up to God.

As Christ followers, we may plant the seed of God's word and truth in the heart of a friend. We may even do a little watering through prayer and compassion. But God is the one who brings growth. He's the one who causes the sprout to burst through the ground and mature in to a blooming flower. He's the one who leads our friend on the path to him. We have a purpose, in planting and watering, but God has the ultimate task of bringing growth.

When I was a young Christian, I thought I had to win people to Jesus all by myself. My heart ached when I couldn't find a way to bring someone completely to Christ. I even found myself getting in God's way. As I grew in the word, I began to understand my purpose. Once I figured out that I was a planter, a sower of the word. I found peace. As a Jesus' follower, plant the seed, sprinkle the water, and allow God to do the rest. He knows what he's doing!

What seeds do you like to sow?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good, Good Father

 Luke 24: 1-6a
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!"

I don't think it's an accident that we celebrate Easter in the spring, the time of new life.

Two places bring me closer to the Lord than any other. One is the ocean, the other is the woods. Tim and I hiked through one of the local wildlife preserves on good Friday. And I couldn't help but think about Jesus. I spied trillium as blood red as the blood Jesus spilled. White trillium reminded me of Jesus' forgiveness and how he will make us whiter than snow. Patches of purple dwarf larkspur wore their royal robes, like those of the King.


As we walked, the peacefulness of the forest calmed my busy mind. With worries and stress quieted, the beautiful song "Good, Good Father" whispered in my ear. At one point I closed my eyes and let the music fill my head. God is a good, good father and without doubt he loves every one of his children. So much so that he sent his own son to save us from sin and offer us the road to heaven.  

Spring is the time to rejoice in new life. The flowers, the greening up of the trees, but most of all the resurrection of Jesus.

Let's celebrate Jesus this Easter. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Where the Spirit of the Lord is...

This week we remember Palm Sunday as Jesus trekked through the streets of Jerusalem on a donkey. The people met him and waved palm branches and sang, “Blessed is the king of Israel!” In Jesus' humble way he knew his future was death and his celebration meant freedom for all who followed him.

He knew the road led to torture and sacrifice, yet he took the path anyway.

Why would this man who understood his destiny walk right into death's door? 
Because he loves us. He knew he offered the only means to forgiveness and eternal hope.

Jesus death and resurrection offer a freedom like no other.

Freedom from the weight of worry.

Freedom from the love of material things.

Freedom from anxiety.

Freedom from the opinions of politicians and Hollywood stars.

Freedom from society's values.

Freedom to pray at any moment of the day.

Freedom from sin.

Romans 3:23-24 ...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 

Jesus is the only road to heaven. He gives forgiveness, freedom, and hope.

On this Palm Sunday weekend, know that Jesus died so everyone would have an opportunity to live in freedom. Praise the Lord for his Son!