For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Prayer for You During the Holidays

I just want you to know I'm praying for you. I know the holidays are weird. They are stressful and crazy and sometimes emotionally crushing. I'm praying... have wisdom to not burden yourself with debt. and your loved ones know the power of presence over presents. find wonder. look beyond yourself and your circle of family and friends to see others' needs. put down what you have to in orde to simply get through the holidays. reach out to someone when you need to because there is no shame in letting someone hold you up when you are sinking. are able to feel God's love for you no matter what this year (or lifetime) has held. are able to feel hope and hold onto it.
May our God be with you in all of your comings and goings, and may His hand guide you. May His Spirit comfort you, and may you know personally His Son who saves you.

Prayer for Those Awake in the Middle of the Night

It's 2:00 in the morning, and intead of sleeping, I am thinking of other folks who aren't sleeping.
I'm thinking of folks who are carrying incredibly burdens that won't let their minds rest, so their bodies are walking around exhausted but following the heavy thoughts.
I'm thinking of folks in hospitals sitting by the sides of loved ones, praying for miracles, thanking you that it wasn't worse, watching the sheet rise and fall knowing it won't belong before it no longer does.
I'm thinking of parents who would give everything they own to be rocking their baby right now but will never get that blessing again.
I'm thinking of spouses who are reaching across the bed with their foot only to find a cold spot.
I'm thinking of children wondering why Mom and Dad can't get along.
Lord, I'm thinking of the person who is hurting too much to sleep, not because their body hurts but because their mind and sould does.
Father, I am asking you in your infinite, mysterious power to step into the lives of these people and comfort them. Settle their minds. Soothe their hearts. Give them hope. You are the only source of hope in situaitons where there is no fix. You are the only comfort when the heart is crushed beyond repair. You are the only one who can carry people through some of the grief and pain they carry. I ask you to do that.
And I ask that you would bring them to this page, so they can see that YOU SEE THEM. They really need to know that. Because, Lord, I know when you are up in the middle of the night and your heart is hurting so much your body aches with it, you want to know God hears. You want to know He cares. You want to know that you matter, and, Father, these beautiful people matter. They are so precious. They are so valuable.
Father, be their peace and comfort. Be the one who gives them rest. Be the one who gives them hope. Strengthen them to keep moving through the pain and doubts and questions. And, Lord, when they don't know how to hold onto you, hold onto them. Oh, God, hold onto them.
Bring the people to be the hands and feet of Christ in their lives. Bring the words and the "signs" that give them hope and strength. Be the voice they may not really even be able to hear that tells them to hold on and not let go, to think beyond themselves, to realize they are loved and needed by others. Give them the ability not to be consumed by the loss or the pain or the anger.
Father, thank you that you are a God that keeps your eyes upon your people, even in the middle of the night, even when they rage against you, even when they hurt so much they don't know how to find you through the pain. Thank you for your love and mercy. Thank you that you are ever pursuing them. Thank you that you are a God who loves so deeply and personally.
Thank you for hearing my prayers on behalf of these very precious people. May they find you in the dark. I pray these in the name of Jesus, the Light that has come into the world that those in darkness may not be left there, Amen

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Prayer for Monday...and Everyday

Glorious King,
Prepare my heart today to serve you. Show me all things that keep me from fully serving you and help me put them down.
I ask you to be glorified in me. Speak your will and word into my life in ways I could not imagine or dream, not for what I get, but so people see who you are. Father, be exalted in me.
I ask you to show me concerns and anxieties and traditions of this life that prevent me from thinking on you and focusing on. I ask you to settle my spirit and mind that I would not be burdened by life here but that I would enjoy the pleasant blessings you give.
I ask you to open my eyes to the people around me who need a kind word, a hug, a pat on the back. Give me words to encourage. Show me how to live my faith in you and your power to change lives.
Father, for all those reading this, I pray that you would remind them that you meet people right where they are, but that isn't a pass to remain as they are because honestly, you have something SO much more wonderful than the way it has been. You have so much more for them than the way they have been. I pray that you would give them courage to believe they can be more, can live bigger.
I pray that you would put a lock on my mouth today and not let discouraging, critical, judgmental words come through. This is something I really don't like about myself, and this is something I really desire to be different about me. I see the imperfections and focus on those instead of seeing the progress. Change my perspective according to what you desire spoken into someone's life and someone's heart. Give me your heart because you always speak life. Forgive me for my critical discouraging outlook, I pray, and purify me from all unrighteousness as you promise in your word.
Father, I thank you for this day and your plans for it. I pray that I would not be so fixated on my plans that I miss yours or dismiss yours. Instead, I ask you to disciple and train me to keep my mind fixed on your plans so that we work together for your will and purpose.
I praise you, Lord, for you are so worthy of my greatest praise and my deepest gratitude. You are overwhelming with your beauty and kindness, and my heart is to love you and you alone.
I lay these petitions before you in the almighty name of Jesus, Amen

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Why I Don't Think I Will Ever Look at Christmas Trees the Same Again

 As I write this, I am looking at what may very well be the most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen.

It's awkward with clumpy limbs, the limbs that are there, and bare spots where the limbs aren't there. It's possibly 20 years old, maybe more. Most people would say it has seen better days. I would say it has seen no day more glorious than today.

The last time we made any real effort to put up a Christmas tree was six years ago. The lack of a tree isn't a rage against commercialism or due to a move away from the mainstream Christian holidays in order to embrace Judaic truth over Roman institutionalization of Christianity. The lack of a tree is more because it is sometimes hard to rejoice with the babe in the manger when your heart feels the weight of the tomb.

Some folks found the lack of a tree disturbing because after all, this is Christmas. To not have a tree on Christmas? When I said we weren't interested, the general response was "But you have to have a tree at Christmas." Actually, you don't. Because here is the real Truth.

Christmas is about the Christ, not a tree, so for these years we've clung to Christ and ditched the tree, and it has been far more healing to forego a tree than it is to perform the "all is fine" fantasy dance.

About a month ago, I was rummaging through the shed of the house I re-obtained, and there it was. The Christmas tree we left there when we moved, the tree I had left for the couple who didn't have a tree of their own. We weren't interested in the tree, and I figured if we ever decided to do a tree again, I'd buy a new one, a smaller one. But there sat this tree with its stand, and I knew. In that very instant, I knew. This year, there would be a tree.

Three weeks or so, it happened. My inbox became home to a Christmas list from WonderGirl. A few days later, WonderBoy's followed. Doesn't sound like a big deal. It's Christmas after all. Except this is the first year the kids were engaging the holiday instead of letting it slip silently by. They were ready to rejoin the hope of Christmas, the hope that things can still be what they want and not what they have endured.

While some are celebrating Christmas, we are walking right into a beautiful Christ mass with all the anticipation and hope that it holds.

Last week WonderGirl asked me if I would mind if she bought a small tree at one of the local stores, and I smiled. She didn't want anything big, just something small so she could string popcorn, put on some candy canes, and cover it with lights. I told her no. I already had the tree. Her face lit up.

So instead of going to the curb the tree went into my truck to come home with me, and today we went to the store and bought ornaments, tinsel, and lights. Then we came home and celebrated.
 WonderBoy likes birds, so he picked a "doofy owl", as he calls him.
 WonderGirl picked her favorite Captain America.

At the top of the tree, we have the story it is all about.

 If you look really closely at the picture above, you can see our ornaments, the things that represent us, but mostly what you see is the important thing. The lights that shine in the darkness. Why is that the most important thing?

Because the Light is everything.

What ornament did I get? I got a lantern. Simple. Plain, but do you see the light in it? That is actually the lights on the tree shining through the lantern. Really, what you see is Jesus shining through this whole tree because without the healing and restoring of hope He has done in us, there would be no tree. This tree isn't just a place for us to put a bunch of lights. This tree is because we have the Light.

So why the lantern? Because in our lives and in our story, I really hope people see the Light and His story. And it just so happens that this year, the story includes the most beautiful Christmas tree I think I have ever seen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Prayer of Gratitude...with Sniffles and Sneezes on the Side

Father God, I have a head cold, and my sinuses are miserable. My eye is watering. My nose is running, and I can't sleep because of the pressure in my head.
And you know what, Father?
I am thankful.
I am thankful for the warmth of my home and the hot water that runs in my shower where I can stand and let steam be one of my favorite things. I am thankful for hot soup and cold ice water.
I am thankful for the sun that comes up in the morning, and the stars that fill the night.
I am thankful for you and the to-the-core knowing that you love me because that really does help.
I am thankful for a recliner where I can rest and doze.
I feel extremely blessed to have my life, my children, my friends. I feel blessed to be loved by wonderful people. I feel blessed that when I am too miserable to read anything or even watch anything, I can lie with my eyes closed and just spend time with you.
Father, I have a very good life. Thank you.
In Jesus' name, I offer this deep gratitude to you.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Prayer for Folks Getting Through the Holidays

Father God,

 I lift up every reader of this message today, and I ask you to bless them. I ask you to comfort them in ways beyond human ability. For those who just got through one holiday and are looking at the Mt. Everest of holidays before them, I ask you to give them joy and show them how to walk in it.
For those who were disappointed due to broken personal relationships, I ask you to show them how they can be an answer and comfort them where they can't.

For those who have questions about the reality this may be a "last holiday season", give them comfort in a way only you can. Show them how to make this a joy and not a season of fear and grief. Show them how to be fierce in finding joy despite the grief.

For those who just had a great day and nothing new is going on because life is just totally amazing, thank you. Thank you for giving them the joy and peace of your blessings. I ask you to speak to them about intimacy with you and how to increase that intimacy. You always want to be more intimate with us, and that is a crazy amazing thing.

Father, thank you for our lives, for the ups and downs, crazy turns and twists, for the hope in the midst of the grief. Thank you that you still have plans for us. I know you do because we are still reading this, and I thank you because there is not one person reading this that is beyond your ability to forgive, save, redeem, and restore.

I thank you because you are God and you love us even when we really aren't deserving of that love, and I thank you that because of that love you gave your Son Jesus as a sacrifice for all of us and in HIm is salvation for anyone who believes in Him as Savior and Lord. Father, thank you for your comfort, for your mercy, for your kindness. Thank you for tending our hearts when they ache and bringing joy in the hard places.

Father, I ask you to show us where we do not serve you well, where we want you as Savior but dismiss you as Lord. I pray that in your great mercy you would reveal the disconnect so we do not stand before you and hear, "I never knew you." Father, lead us into repentance that we would be forgiven from our sins and purified from all unrighteousness.

Be glorified in us.

I praise you Lord for your goodness, for your love, for the very wonder of you. I lay my petitions before you in the holy and all-powerful name of Jesus, Amen

Praising God in the Hazy Silence

Father God,
I praise you today because you are worthy of my praise. In fact, you alone are worthy to receive praise from my lips. You alone are worthy of my worship.
Father, as I sit here looking through my huge window into the grey outside, I am in awe of you. I am in awe of the trees you grew, and I am in awe of the brilliant colors you compel them to turn each fall. Who but you could have such an amazing idea? And I wonder, did you do that for them so they could do that for you? Did you give them a way of giving back a gift of brilliance to you? Is this part of creation's worship of you?
I look at the fog settled thick across the pastures, and the beauty of the haze leaves me amazed. Who knew making things so hard to see clearly could also make them so beautiful? In photography, we are taught to make things crisp and clear so a person can see them clearly, and you slip in this haze that blurs everything, and in it, you can be seen clearly.
And in this quiet that surrounds me, I hear you. I hear the hugeness of you. I hear the absolute presence of you even in the absence of sound.
Lord, I pray for those who are looking for you but can't find you because they are looking for you in human wisdom and in human ways. I pray they would find you in the bareness of trees that slip off their leaves know you will breathe on them new in the spring. I pray they find you in the haze and that in the fuzziness of it all, they would see you clearly, and I pray that in the silence, they would hear you speak clearly to them.
Father, take the things that look so unlike you and show things about yourself these precious folks need to see so clearly.
Thank you for being a God who seeks us in ways that we sometimes feel and can't find our way out of.
You are so worthy of our praise, of our worship, and I offer you my praise, and I worship you alone as God.
In Jesus, name I pray,

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks for the Perfect Thanksgiving

You ever have those days that seem utterly perfect? That was my day.

I woke up about 6:30 after a deep night's sleep. Eight beautiful hours of rich rest. I woke up to my brother's dog sleeping beside my bed and wagging her tail when she saw me peek over the mattress.

Then I started coffee, fed the dogs, set out the rib roast so it would come to room temperature, and went outside to start a fire in the fire pit.

Over the next three hours I did some lunch prep, like getting stuff in the oven on time, but mostly I sat by the fire pit wrapped in a blanket, praying, drinking coffee, reading my Bible, and being wondrously content.

The Larsens, our "other family" invited us to dinner with them today. We love them. They are just amazing gifts, but because we had company coming, we had to decline. Still, Dawna brought of Pink Stuff. One of our absolute favorites! And since lunch was going to be later in the day, we did a taste test for breakfast.

My non-bio bro texted, and we chatted some. He does my heart good.

My friend Leanna texted to wish us a happy Thanksgiving. I had actually thought about her earlier in the day. Four years ago, we spent the holiday when her family. In fact, that year we spent a lot of holidays with her family. Thanksgiving was a wondrous blessing because our family wasn't getting together, WonderGirl had just had her appendix out, and I needed to not be needed. So Leanna's family let us enjoy their company and couch. Despite their having copious amounts of incredibly delicious food, they also let me bring my mom's dressing, and I really needed that. I miss my mom a lot at holidays.

My brother flew home from Georgia last night, so he was able to come over today. We had dinner, played a cooperative team game (which we lost), and just were. You ever have a day when you just were, and it was the best day ever? This is that day.

Oh, and lunch was good, too.

After my brother and his dog left, I took a long nap on the couch and woke up the sound of my kids laughing hard as they played Minecraft. I just lay there and listened a long time, knowing this is gold right here. Having my kids home, their laughing together, their being best friends, our family. Yep. Gold.

For dinner we didn't do left overs. We are burnt out on turkey and ham, so we did rib roast, which was good, and then my brother took home the leftovers. So for dinner, since my daughter and I aren't counting calories today, my son and I had corn dogs. I thoroughly enjoyed that corn dog. In fact, I think it is the best corn dog I have ever eaten. And while we ate, we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas to kick of the season of receiving The Gift of Christ and giving to others because giving to others in need is a natural outflow of having received Christ.

Now the kids are in their rooms with the doors open, yelling and laughing across the hall to each other. And I am listening, soaking it all in. I am heart-full and stomach happy.

Yep. Best Thanksgiving ever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Why Assembling Is Important

In the past I have annoyed people for questioning the form of "assembling" by organized churches. I have suggested that "assembling together" (Hebrews 10:25) does not have to be at a certain time each week in a particular building so we can be talked at by someone. Others have argued that attending a church service is necessary as a Christian, and to not attend not be a real Christian.

Here are my real issues with the "assembling". My real issues are:
--people "assemble" and consider that to be Christian enough.
--people ignore the rest of Hebrews 10:25 which says to encourage one another. I don't think that sounds like one person talking to a group, ending in prayer, and calling it good church.

Granted, a lot of my dislike for assembling has come from attending the larger churches where the pastor is more of a teacher/administrative hybrid than a "pastor" or shepherd, and from what I can tell in scripture, those two things are separate. Where I grew up, the pastor was a shepherd. I could call him 24/7. He knew everyone in the community, and he served everyone in the community. Most of the pastors I've experienced since then, especially in larger churches, are aloof and separate from the congregation. So, I have developed a distaste for "assembling" because I think it is empty in many cases. NOT ALL, but many.

Having said that, I have to be fair. There are pastors who are PASTORS. Jason Duke at Ranchland Church is a pastor. Jason Danielson at Saddlecreek is a pastor. Marion Burgess is a pastor, and I know there are more out there who are. I just don't know them.

Now that I have explained my issue with "assembling," I need to amend my position on that. Too many people have said they totally agree with me. They don't attend church at all, and they don't miss it. Usually their complaint deals with the hypocrites in the church. I won't touch that here. Yes, I will. If you really cannot in any way tolerate hypocrites and must keep from polluting yourself with their presence, stop reading now and close this post. Refuse to read anymore. Because as much as I wish I were perfect and there were no hypocrisy in me, the fact is I am right on the front row of the 1st Church of "I'm a Christian Hypocrite". So if you need to avoid Christian hypocrites, I understand. Thank you for being here, but I understand you need to leave. Please pray for me. Seriously.

So, why it is important to assemble?
  1.  It gives us a good place to hear God tell us how we are hypocrites. I'm not kidding. Where two or more are gathered in His name, God is with them, and when He is there, He is kind and corrects so we can move in deeper. That means He speaks to our hypocrisies.
  2. In a large assembling, the pastor may have understanding we don't. He may have studied a passage more and prayed about it more than we have, and he may have a perspective we have never considered, but might be exactly what we need to hear. We need to be teachable.
  3. Corporate worship can be amazing. Yes, I know. We left a church we love because the music was too loud, but I've had some amazing God moments in their worship. Corporate worship creates an amazing atmosphere that draws God into our presence.
  4. Discipline is good as a Christian. I know. So many Christians are so busy NOT being works oriented that they forget the basic disciplines of being a Christian, and assembling with others is a discipline.
  5. Small assemblies are where the personal stuff goes on. Yes, a teacher/pastor/minister can encourage from the pulpit, and the Holy Spirit certainly ministers in His way, but there is power in assembling with people who know your life, who encourage you in a personal issue, in your personal walk, and in your personal discipline.
  6. If an assembly is done right, it is a safe place. It is a refuge. It isn't a place where you are always told you are right because, frankly, sometimes you are wrong, but it is a safe place to learn how to be right and a place of encouragement while you change.
  7. Sometimes an assembly is the place where you realize you need to change, either because of something directly said to you by the pastor, Holy Spirit, or a person, or indirectly because you see the change in someone else' life, and you want that in yours.
  8. It's a place of learning.

In my last post, I told you about the different assembling WonderBoy and I did this weekend. We liked it. Relationships are valued there. Connecting with each other is important. The lesson was very personal for me. I thought serving one another the Lord's Supper or Eucharist was beautiful as a symbol of Christ as servant serving us. But it isn't for everyone. Friday morning I assembled with my friend Heather via phone for nearly 5 hours, and this morning I assembled with my friend Marza for about 2 hours. It was good. It was personal. Transparency can take place in that assembling that wouldn't happen in a bigger group. RCIA class was a great assembling. We learned a lot about living out faith, and we connected with people.

Assembling has a mysterious thing that happens in it. The Lord is dissipated through and assembly that focuses on Him and has a heart for Him. If you haven't found an assembling that works for you, keep looking. Be willing to look outside the box, but it is important that you are part of a spiritual family.

Honestly, never occurred to me I would ever attend Catholic church, but I enjoy mass a lot. I like the meditative part of it, and when Father Fred is there, He really CELEBRATES mass. We love that.
Never thought I would attend a Church of Christ, but the teaching was solid. You can certainly get to heaven on that food, and surpringly, I really liked the acapella music. Never thought I would visit a Presbyterian assembling, but we liked it. The Methodist assembly we attended with a friend was so rich and beautiful that we would make that our church if we weren't 2 hours away. I learned about Jesus in a Nazarene assembling, and I gave my life to Jesus in a Baptist assembling. My kids have learned about the Lord in non-denominational assemblings. And phone assembling is a great way to pour in Spirit power into the daily walk.

My point is the writer in Hebrews wasn't saying to assemble because it is a requirement as a Christian. Simply showing up doesn't make you a better Christian, but showing up, listening, and letting the Spirit use what is said to help you see what you might be missing is taking responsible for your spiritual well-being. Assembling isn't a requirement by God. It's an invitation to God.

The only right response is to accept the invitation.

Praying you find a good assembling....

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Something Different

One of the things we really loved about the RCIA class was our group. During lectio divina, which was the meditation on scripture, we all took time to read the scripture--some people read it days earlier and meditated on it all week--and then we discussed how the Spirit was engaging each of us. We enjoyed listening and talking, hearing folks' lives, being part of a group. We all agreed we were going to seriously miss that, and we joked about finding a church that actually did church like that.

Yesterday morning, my friend Heather Brizzi and I spent 5 hours on the phone talking God, sharing hearts, being real. THAT was good church, and I told her that we were once again kind of lost with the whole church thing, and by the way, where did she go to church? She attends Evangelical Presbyterian. I had never heard of it, but I have heard her talk about her church a lot, and she likes it. It feeds her, so I did a google search and found one about 45 minutes from our house.

Not thrilled with the 45 minutes, and I was trying to talk myself out of it this morning, despite having taken a shower and already put on my makeup, when I found myself standing in WonderBoy's room asking, "Do you want to go to church with me?"

He really didn't. He was tired from being up late not feeling well, and he really wanted to sleep in, but he said, "Sure." So we went.

At 10:30 this morning we pulled up to the place our GPS said was our destination and the house. I got back online and googled again. There were multiple addresses and times and a lot of not-really-clear, so I tried to call the number but got a recording. WonderBoy and I were sitting there talking about whether to stay or go because who walks up to a house door and asks if that is the church?, when a car drove up and someone started unloading folding chairs. We decided we were at the right address. So, we stayed.

I've been to house churches before. They are groovy. No problem.

Except this isn't a house church. It is a full-blown church that is meeting at multiple houses right now due to the lease on their building running out and no new door opening yet. The church has split up into groups of 20-25 that meet at different times during the week. This group happens to meet on Sunday morning.

This group also happens to have church sitting around a table, sharing a meal, worshiping with different kinds of music (today was hymns we knew! Yay!), and studying the Bible together. Before the Bible study, they light a candle in recognition of the presence of God. During the Bible study, we all had the freedom to share our thoughts and how it applied to us, and once that Bible study was over, we celebrated Eucharist. In unity, we prayed a prayer for the Lord to turn the elements into the manifestation of Christ and for us to partake of Him in His fullness. Then one person held the bread to the person beside him and said, "This is the body of Christ given for you." The person took the bread and dipped it into the cup of wine while the first person said, "This is the blood of Christ shed for you." We all end in a grace prayer in which we bless each other for the coming week.

Not sure how it will look when there is a building again, but for today, it was really neat, and it looked a lot more like the Acts New Testament church than anything I've experienced, and I definitely got some ideas on how a "community" gathering would look. It was good stuff.

I hope your day at church was good, too. I hope your spirit was fed and the Spirit was free to speak what you need to hear. And I pray as you go into the week, the food you received sustains you to do the will of God and serve Him in the fullness of Christ.


Saturday, November 12, 2016


I've been thinking a lot about stuff going on in the world, specifically in the church. I read on Rod Dreher's blog about a church that has begun to socially punish members for voting for Trump. Church denominations continue to fight for denominational lines. This is not new. I grew up in a Nazarene church that was sure the liberal Baptists were wrong, and the liberal Baptists were just sure the weirdo Church of Christ that refused to use musical instruments had something wrong with them, so surely they were, but that was okay because the Church of Christ was sure everyone else was wrong, and the Methodist? We won't even talk about them. It was petty, really. Actually, what it was was a bunch of people who all wanted control and couldn't figure out how to get along, so they divided into different groups so everyone who wanted to be in control could, but once a month they all came together for a community singing, and it was a good singing, too. They had a few planned songs, but mostly they sang what people asked for, and usually what people asked for is what everyone else had in mind anyway, and you could hear the murmurings. "Yep. That's a good one." "Oh, I like that one." Crazy divided people all liking the same songs and singing them together. But once a month they put the denominational names down and called themselves "Community", and as community, these divided groups found their way to be one choir singing praise to their one King.

Comm-unity. Comm meaning "together" or "alike". Unity meaning "in oneness".

Today I've been thinking a lot about community and how to bring people together in oneness.

I keep thinking of what my wise-beyond-his-years 16-year old son said about our group in the RCIA class.

He said he thought that group was the most like real church was supposed to be that he ever experienced. He said the point of gathering or assembling, what most of us call "church" is to:
-learn the Bible, which we did.
-encourage each other, which we did.
-develop relationship, which we did.
-care about each other, which we did.
-learn how to apply what we learned, which we did.
He looked at me and said, "Mom, when we were in that group, no one was Catholic or Protestant. We were just people learning together and caring about each other."

We were a community.

And I keep thinking of the tower of Babel when God said, "If these people are working together as one, nothing can stop them."

I'm asking two questions:
1. If, working as one, nothing is impossible for us, what could we do and change?
2. How does one build that kind of community?

Friday, November 11, 2016


Last night the kids and I attended our RCIA class for the last time. In short, we simply do not believe enough like Catholics to join their denomination. While we realized there were going to be things we didn't agree with or had to consider beyond our present beliefs, we did not expect the hostility toward Protestants that we experienced there. While it would  be easy for us to point our fingers and say, "Catholics are hateful, rude, judgmental, and elitist," the truth is my friend who is Catholic experienced the exact same attitude and hostility in a Protestant church. I know he did because I witnessed it. Unsurprisingly, he left that church, just like we left the RCIA class. Seems Catholics and Protestants are so different in some ways.

Actually, I found a lot of ways that we are similar.

We all believe it is important to go to church and learn about God.
We all believe in prayer.
We all believe in reading the Bible to learn.
Most of us (some Protestants don't) believe in the Holy Spirit as counselor, one who leads us, one who convicts us, one who works in us to transform us into the image of Christ in how we live.
Most of us believe calling ourselves a Christian isn't about taking a name but rather about living like Christ to the best of our ability.
Most of us who take our faith seriously believe in helping others, even others who aren't just like us.
The Catholics and most Protestants I know believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a trinity, meaning three parts of the Godhead, not one.
They all believe in Christ as the Messiah and without faith in Him, there is no salvation.
The ones who truly commit to Christ as Lord and Savior try to show it in their lives, and I think we all agree if you aren't trying to live Him, then it's most likely you don't have Him.
We all believe in baptism, being buried to our sins and raised to life in Christ.

Yep, we are pretty similar.

Let me tell you how else we are similar. We are all people who: our families....hurt sometimes and need healing.
...get it wrong and need grace.
...want to be loved.
...appreciate kindness.
...need a kind word at times.
...need a shoulder at times.
...need the presence of someone who won't slam us for what we believe or what we've done.
...need another chance. about others.

When I started that class, I asked God why I was there, and clear as a bell, I heard, "You are going to learn to love these people." Truthfully, I didn't know how bigoted I was until then. I didn't realize that I saw a denominational name, not people. Over the last two months, I have quit seeing Catholics. I see a woman whose drive to work has gotten increasingly longer and I feel great compassion for her because the traffic will be horrible. I see a woman who is planning a wedding and has a beautiful romance story. I see a woman who has the coolest life story and three boys she loves even when they are "boys". I see a woman with a beautiful heart, who has healed and gives God great glory for getting her through a hard, hard time. I see people who are really pretty similar to me, and I do love them.

In the Korean war, many men reported crawling into the tunnels and in the darkness, coming upon an enemy soldier eating a meal, smoking a cigarette, taking a break from the war, and the two would stare at each other and either go turn around or squeeze past each other. Instead of killing an enemy, they let a man go by. When asked why, they said, "He was just like me."

Denominational wars demanded that we see enemies in anyone not like us, but that isn't the way of Christ. The way of Christ is to see people "like me." And the only way to do that is to stop finding ways we are difference and start focusing on how we are similar.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Obedient Tree Climbing

Last week I told you about my conversation with God about Zacchaeus and climbing a tree. I admitted at that moment I would not have climbed the tree. This morning John Perron and I have been discussing that statement, and he brought up some really important things that need to be addressed and made clear.

First, when the Lord asked me if I would climb the tree, it was not God Almighty telling me to climb the tree. It was a question between friends. "So, let's say Jesus is coming into town, and if you climb this tree, you might see Him. No guarantees, but you might. Would you climb the tree?"

Long conversation summarized, "No. I don't think I would because here is the thing. You and the kids are all I have. I don't have anyone but you, and right now, we feel a million miles apart, and I don't know why. I have climbed every metaphorical tree I know to climb. I have sincerely tried to find you, and I feel like that isn't happening, so right now at this moment, if I climbed that tree hoping to find you and didn't, I would be crushed."

That is where I was at that moment, and no God wasn't mad. He didn't respond with wrath. Instead, He kept talking, kept asking questions and answering them. Like I told John, He was never harsh. It was more like, "I know this is where you are, but this is not us, and it isn't okay." And it wasn't "not okay" because His ego was hurt or because He is God and who did I think I was mouthing to God? It wasn't okay but that really isn't who we are. We have such intense intimacy, and something had gone wrong, which led to that point. That statement wasn't the problem. That statement was caused by the problem, and that was not okay.

Now, after really great conversation and understanding, we are back to being us, only better.

But John brought up another interpretation of the question and answer that needs to be addressed.

He interpreted it as God saying, "Will you climb the tree if I tell you to?" and I replied, "No. I wouldn't."

Y'all, that is blatant rebellion. That is stepping onto the slippery slope of apostasy. It may not look like a big deal, but any time a person knows the absolute will of God and refuses it, they have just broken faith. They have chosen to turn their hearts to stone (Isaiah), and they have become "stiff-necked", stubborn and unwilling to be led. Until a person repents of that, the relationship with God suffers in huge ways.

Before anyone throws this out, yes, the Bible says nothing can separate us from the love of God. Of course He loves us. He loved us while we were His enemies. John 3:16 says He loved us so much He sent Jesus to die for us so we could choose a relationship with Him and have everlasting life. Please see the obvious here. His love does not save us. Our choice to put our faith in Jesus and serve Him saves us. Our choice to have faith is what allows the relationship in which Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit can lead us. When we choose to ignore God's commands and the Spirit's leading, we damage the relationship. How can He be God to someone who won't serve Him? How can the Spirit lead someone who ignores Him?

When God says to climb a tree, the answer is always, "Yes." Period. How I feel or what I think is utterly irrelevant. The only thing relevant is my relationship with God. The only thing relevant is HE IS GOD.

John said it was put upon him to say to the group last week, "Don't ever tell me you won't climb a tree." I totally agree with that. At one time, I used absolutes, but I have learned absolutes are really pride, arrogance, and the determination to have my way. None of that has any place in a Christian.

Don't misunderstand. I still have my desires and my opinions and the way I want things to go, but I have learned not to say I "won't" or "would never" or any such form. I have on many occasions said, "The only way I would do that is if God said I have to," and sometimes He does, so I do. That is the reality of serving God.

Like I told John this morning, we need to be reminded we are servants, not entitled.

Being a Christian isn't a potluck dinner where we get to pick and choose what we want and what we'll do. We are the bride of Christ. How many people think a husband or wife has the right to all the privileges of being a spouse (shared income, housing, friendship, intimacy, sex) until something else comes along that piques their interest or hormones and if that happens, they can just set aside that "spouse" title to sleep with whomever or dishonor their supposed loved one in conversation with friends or just flat ignore them because they aren't convenient? Where in the marriage vows are we given the right to step in and out of the sacred covenant we make as a spouse because we don't like the responsibility or we want to do something totally selfish that breaks the covenant? That kind of thinking totally offends the typical Christian, or at least it should. So why is the mindset that it is okay to step in and out of covenant with God depending on what is convenient, easy, and serves us so prevalent?

See, when God tells you to climb a tree so you can get close to Him, He is telling you, "I'm your beloved. This is what it takes to deepen our relationship," and as the bride, your answer is always, "That is what I want. Deeper relationship with you."

Frankly, if you can say anything else, you need to have a long talk with Him about your commitment to the relationship, and you need to get some things straightened out because obedience should never be considered optional no matter how high the tree is you have to climb.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

To Climb the Tree or To Not Climb the Tree. When that is the Question...

I told you earlier this week that we studied Zacchaeus in RCIA class' lectio divina. I can't really explain what lectio divina is. I thought it was like when Protestants read a passage, pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth the Lord wants that specific person to hear, and the person meditates on that passage until the Lord speaks. However, I was told I was wrong, so no clue what it really is in the Catholic realm, but, I did the Protestant thing.

Anyway, in class we had a good discussion. Okay, it was pretty predictable, actually. It was about judgment of others, Zacchaeus' willing to look stupid to see Christ, salvation, Jesus knowing Zacchaeus' name when He walked up to the tree. Pretty predictable. At least it was until I shared my part.

Like I shared with you earlier this week, the Lord spoke to me about how people only find their value in Him, and once they realize their value in Him, the things that used to be their definers aren't important anymore.

But for me there was something else.

A question.

Every time I read this passage and prayed for the Lord to speak, I heard simply,
"Would you have climbed the tree?"

In case you don't know, the religiously correct answer is, "Yes, I would have definitely climbed that tree to see Jesus." I am rarely, if ever, accused of being religiously correct, and I answered honestly.

"No, I would not have climbed the tree. Not today. Because today, it feels like it doesn't matter if I climb a tree or not. If you want to find me, you'll find me. If you don't, you won't. Being in a tree or not being in a tree won't matter."

In fact, on that particular day, nothing seemed to matter.

Now, I realize none of the rest of you ever, EVER feel that way.
None of you ever feel like the desires of your heart don't matter.
None of you ever feel like your prayers haven't made a difference up till now and they won't make a difference now.
None of the rest of you have ever looked at the altar at the front of your church or the prayer ministers waiting to pray with you or heard someone ask how they can pray for you and thought, "It doesn't matter. Climbing that tree won't make a difference, so why bother."

But just in case one of you might have possibly known someone who could have had that thought once, let me share some things I'm doing that is helping me win the war of the tree.

First, I confessed. I confessed to God that I was mad at Him. I know. You are probably mortified and thinking I have no right to be mad at God. No. I don't, but I was. I was mad that He has made promises that He has confirmed repeatedly, promises that I want so badly, that have not come to pass. Years have passed, and they haven't come to pass, and I was angry.

Second, I quit comparing myself to Abraham. Seriously. Yes, Abraham waited a long time for Isaac, but in the meantime, he had Ishmael. I used to look at that and wonder how in the world someone who had a clear word from God could be so stupid. I now know. He wasn't stupid. He was empty. He and Sarah both were empty, and they found a road to fulfillment that could rationalize and ran hard and fast down it. The Bible never says that Abraham was mad at God, and we know he believed God and God credited that to him as righteousness, but Abraham got tired. When he got tired, the empty pulled him in. None of us are perfect.

Third, I have been praying specifically for strength in my mind, heart, soul, and body to climb the tree. We are told to serve the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. Obviously I'm missing at least one of those, so I confessed that, too, and asked the Lord to meet me in my weakness and be strong in and through me. I pray this every morning.

Fourth, I pray for the Lord to tell me what "tree" I need to climb to see Him. Here is what I mean. Zacchaeus climbed the tree because he couldn't see Jesus from where he was. I have been praying for God to show me exactly what I need to do to get from where I am where I don't or can's see Jesus to the point where I can see Jesus. Believe it or not, the answer is primarily prayer time. The very thing I told God seemed to make no difference in whether I see Jesus is making a huge difference in how I feel about climbing the tree.

Fifth, I pulled out my prayer cards again. I have maybe 100 prayer cards with verses that I pray and meditate on. Not all of them in one sitting, but right now, I have 30 or so cards I read every morning and pray from the scripture on them. For instance, one of the cards is about Blind Barnabus who was on the side of the road and Jesus went by. When Barnabus heard it was Christ, he started yelling, "Son of David, have mercy on me." Jesus called him to Him, and Barnabus threw off his cloak and went to Jesus. When Jesus asked what he wanted, Barnabus asked for his sight, and Jesus gave it to him. When that card comes up, I pray that:
  • The Lord would show me places I am blind to Him and the way I could help others.
  • I would throw off any thing, like a beggar's robe, that might keep me where I am instead of being healed from anything He desires to change in me for His glory
  • I would never be embarrassed to call on Him even when everyone was looking, pointing fingers, and thinking I was totally unworthy of His gifts, blessings, and kindness
  • I would be bold in calling out to Him what I need.
Why the prayer cards? Because I have covenanted with God to pray them everyday no matter how I feel. That does not make them a ritual. Only a hard, cold heart makes prayer a ritual. They are my discipline. Discipline means to train someone for the purpose of becoming something. This prayer routine trains me to pray with faith despite emotion or circumstance. It is training my mind to think in faith, not in what my human eyes see.

Finally, well, it's more what God does than what I do, but when I get frustrated and say, "It doesn't matter," He responds with, "How can you ever say you don't matter to me?" And honestly, His tone is not all compassion and warm fuzzies, and it shouldn't be. He has a right to be offended by the accusation that I don't matter to Him, that He has a heart of stone toward me, that He could ever not find me important. That really is what that statement is saying. "I don't matter to you. Our relationship doesn't matter to you. You keeping your word and being faithful to your word doesn't matter to you. My empty place that aches doesn't matter...because you are a bad Father." Let's be real here. When we tell God we don't matter, we are telling Him He is a bad Father. Only a heartless, bad father doesn't care about His children. Only a self-centered father doesn't think his children are important. That is not our God.

So when He corrects me and asks, "How can you ever say you don't matter to me?", I stop and say, "Of course I matter. Of course I am important to you." I don't say these things in lip service. I say them with conviction, and I meditate on the truth of them. I let them soak deep into me. I let my mind be transformed and my thinking changed. I start thinking like He does. I'm important. I matter.

Is all of that making a difference?

This morning I had a few things for which I had prayed for specific outcomes, and the exact opposite occurred. So I got my coffee and a blanket, went outside to the rocking chair on the deck and said, "I choose to climb the ladder anyway. Lord, show me how."

The most wildly beautiful part in all this: I told God it didn't matter if I climbed the ladder or not. If He wanted to find me, He would...and He did...because I really do matter.

May you find Him...when you climb the tree...and especially when you are so weary that you can't climb the tree, may He find you.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Valuable Enough to be Found

In our Bible study class this week we are looking at the story of Zacchaeus.

Here is the story for those who don't know it.

Luke 19
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him,[a] and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

I've read this story since I was a little kid. I can still sing the song. I know this story. It's not complicated. Jesus, who has become THE celebrity is coming into town, and this short tax collector who is shunned by everyone and hated because he is a tax collector climbs a tree to see Jesus. Jesus walks right up to the tree and tells Zacchaeus to come down because He plans to have dinner with him that night. The short legal thief does what he is told. Jesus goes home with him, and Zacchaeus proclaims that he is giving away a bunch of money as a result. Jesus declares salvation to Zacchaeus as a result.

Simple story. Except it is so simple it gets tripped over.

I was taught that Zaccharus gets granted salvation because he proved his sincerity to Christ. No. If Jesus only declared Zacchaeus saved because he gave away money to prove his sincerity, then that would be earning his salvation. That isn't how Christ works. And honestly, that kind of sensationalism isn't going to last because that is based on the euphoria of the moment. Jesus would have known Zacchaeus' heart and would never have declared salvation to a dram king. So something else had to have happened.

The key isn't what Zacchaeus did. It's why he did it.

See, there is this tax collector who has economic power. He can add fees to the taxes collected. He can be cruel in the ways he enforces tax collection. He can be as ruthless and heartless as they come, and for some people, that power defines them. It means they are valuable. They are valuable because of the power over people, and they are valuable because of the money they can make from it. This guy has position, power, and money...and no real life. The Romans don't care for him. He is only a pion. The Jews hate him. And where does that really leave him? Up in a tree...with only the hope of a glimpse of true celebrity because there is no way a religious celebrity was going to pay any attention to him.

Except He did.

Can you imagine being Zacchaeus up in that tree searching for just the head of the celebrity you are waiting for when you see this massive crowded moving in some way as those it is water crashing upon the bottom of the tree where you are, and suddenly, there at the base of the tree a face looks up at you. THE face looks up at you and says, "Hey, come down and let's go have dinner at your place."

In other words, "I've come to this point just to see you, and I know no one else would be caught dead in your presence or in your house unless they need something from you, but I've come because you need something from Me."

What Jesus was really saying, "You are valuable to me. In fact, you are so valuable to me, I'll risk being a celebrity and being on the front page of every gossip magazine just to be with you."

I don't think Zacchaeus responded by saying, "Lord, look! I'm so different that I'm going to do all this good stuff. Aren't you impressed?" I don't think it was a haughty man who spoke to Jesus. I think it was a humbled one who said, "Lord, Lord, I get it. I give half of everything I own to people who need it because they are valuable. I will make recompense for how I have cheated people because relationship is more important than gold. I get that I'm valuable, not because of what I own, but because of You. I'm valuable because You chose me."

And did you notice that Zacchaeus wasn't offended when Jesus said He had come to seek and save the lost? A proud person would look at themselves and be sorry they had to be found or saved, and honestly, I don't think they would be saved because they are not humble to receive the truth that they cannot fix themselves. However, when a person realizes their only value is in the value placed on them by Christ, they realize that being sought and found is a declaration of value. It is a clear demonstration of how loved they are.

God so loved--so valued--the world that He gave His only Son that whoever should believe in Him--not their own ability to be good or holy--should not perish but have everlasting life.

When Zacchaeus climbed that tree, maybe he was looking for a celebrity. Maybe he was looking for someone bigger than himself. What he found was just how important he was, and that had nothing to do with money and position, and everything to do with Jesus.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Truth

I don't know why I write this blog.

There. I said it.

The truth is I started writing again because one of the things we are told as writers is to write what we want to read, and frankly, I can't find much I want to read. I'm sick of being lectured on things. I'm sick of whining "conservatives" who just drone on and on about the presidential election and what a mess the politics in the United States are. I'm tired of the religious walls. I don't want to read anymore about any of it.

I read David Baldacci books.

And the worst part is I read them because I can relate to the characters.

His characters are warriors that have this numb or dead space either someone, life situations, or they have created that allow them to act in ways that the general populace doesn't like. These characters are detached, and while they realize they are not the norm and don't really have the emotional capability for happily ever after, they realize they are good at what they do, so they do jobs--in the trenches, ugly jobs--that the general populace would find too distasteful or immoral to do.

And I read those characters, and I see me.

Then I sit down at this computer and try to write about life and what is happening and give it some deep spiritual spin because I have this idea that surely someone else out there is looking for something not like everything else, but I have begun to doubt that.

I write things that are poetic and emotional, and people read those, but when I write things that could actually change someone's life, those pretty much get ignored. Honestly, it makes me think people want a place to commiserate but not a place to change their lives, and I seriously stink at the whole commiserating thing.

I quit writing for months and months. Part of that is because I really needed time to be silent, to hear God, to not have voices with opinions and advice. Part of it is because I felt like I was believing a lie that I made a difference, that lives were somehow better, that somehow people were finding God in what I wrote.

I started writing again because I thought I could present Truth in a way that drew people to God, that in understanding spiritual disciplines or how to develop intimacy or some other spiritual teaching someone might find a clearer path to Him or deeper intimacy with Him, but I have to be honest, I think I was wrong.

When I wrote during the first few years after Rob died and things changed, several people said my strength is that I write my heart. Well, here is the truth, I don't write my heart anymore. I have no desire to put it out on display for people to comment on and criticize or judge and not understand.

Sitting beside me on the floor is my brother's dog, Merida. She is with us for a few weeks while he does long hours of overtime for work. She looks up at me confused because she doesn't know why she is here, why things are so unfamiliar, and where my brother is. I reach down and pet her and tell her it's okay, I"m here because I totally relate.

Merida just gave a deep sigh and lay down on the rug by my bed. I guess she got tired of roaming the house looking for my brother and trying to figure things out. That is very much how I feel, and I don't have a deep spiritual lesson for you.

You know, spiritual teachers and leaders don't talk about being lost in the desert while they are in the desert. They talk about it after the fact, when they don't look crazy and flakey and when they have some deep faith lesson to tell us all.

Well, y'all, I'm in the desert, and I can tell you that I believe God is faithful, loving, and kind. I don't doubt Him or His character, but right now, I feel barren with nothing to offer, and there are two ways to go with this: letting His strength show through my weakness or like David's men, go back to camp until I am useful again. I guess we'll both have to wait until tomorrow to figure out which it'll be.


Friday, October 21, 2016


Today WonderBoy took one more step toward being WonderMan as he took his place as a licensed driver. I am so incredibly proud of him, and WonderGirl and I rejoiced with him and took him out for a celebratory lunch. It has been a wonderful day.

It's also been bittersweet.

Some days I wonder what their dad would say if he could see them now. The kids think about it. We talk about it. Both of them wonder if he would be proud of them, if he would enjoy their maturing quirkiness. Of course, I think the questions are pointless. How could he not totally love these amazing kids and be totally in awe of the young people they are and the adults they are becoming? But they wonder. I would wonder, too.

Of course, I am also aware that they are who they are because they survived the loss of their dad and have been raised by God and me the last 5 1/2 years. There is strength and optimism in them that would not have been there had they not been on this road, and there is an honesty about them that most adults avoid. It is a hard won honesty, and it is beautiful. But like them, I wonder what their dad would say to see these amazing young adults.

And days like today when everything is so amazing and joyous that echoing question seems to be loudest.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Remaining Faith, my comment

Yesterday I shared with you my John Perron's words on Luke 18:1-8 and his focus on the last sentence:

When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?

At the end of his teaching, he asked if there were questions or comments. I chose not to add my comments to yesterday's post because I really wanted what he said to stand on its own because it is that good. What I added in class was:

The word faith is not merely an intellectual knowledge of something. It is not the belief that something exists. Faith speaks to fidelity and faithfulness. It stands when nothing else does.

God is not Santa Clause, and our prayers should not be our wish list we expect Him to grant. Prayer is communication and conversation. It is building a relationship. Faith stands even when the relationship is hard and even when the answers are not what we want.

For me, the question, "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on earth?" asks a simple question:

Are you faithful to a relationship with me, or do you simply want what I can give you,
and if you don't get what you want, will you walk away?

Because if you can just walk away, you don't have faith, and when the Son of Man comes, where does that leave you?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Remaining Faith

Last week my friend John Perron gave a really good lesson on Luke 18:1-8.

1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”
Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

While everyone else in the class seemed to focus on the need to be persistent in asking, John looked at something out: persistent faith.

I asked him if I could share it here, and he kindly said yes.

"When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
by John Perron 
So, here it is.  Not quite the way I said it last night as I was letting the Holy Spirit bring out what God wanted said and I took no notes as it happened.

 First, the judge in the parable was interested only in himself.  He only answered the widow's petition because her persistent requests for a decision were aggravating to him.  He agreed to deliver a decision for two reason: 1. to shut her up, and 2. to secure his own physical safety "...lest she finally come and strike me."

 Second, Jesus made it clear that God is not like the judge and doesn't answer prayer to shut us up.  God does not find our prayers aggravating. Instead, Jesus suggests that God will answer our prayers quickly and, to those of us who are persistent in prayer "...who call out to him day and night",  as the widow was persistent, God will answer even more quickly; as if that is even possible.  Faith and prayer are two sides of the same coin.  If you have faith, you go to God in prayer; when we pray, our faith increases, and so on, and so on.

 But the bottom line is that Jesus, in all his parables, challenges us.  In the final verse of this particular story, Jesus asks, "But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith?"  The challenge is for each of us, individually, to question the state of our faith; is it living or dead?  Will Jesus find, in each of us individually, someone who, when prayers "were not answered" chose to lose heart, patience and faith and simply give up on prayer; letting our faith begin to die?  Will he find someone who, regardless of God's answer to prayer, remained in persistent prayer to God and trusted in God completely; no matter what?
Something I meant to share last night and left out:  St Monica prayed for her son, persistently, for close to 30 years.  Praying that he would repent and come to faith in the church.  Had she not done so, the church would have never had one of its greatest theologians; Bishop St. Augustine of Hippo.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Don't Settle

It's tempting sometimes, when you want something really badly. When your heart is kind of miserable, and you just not feel so much like this.

Two weeks ago I was asked if I would consider running for the board of a volunteer group of which I am a member. I considered it. Great platform to work on some programs I really want to start and build. When I prayed about it, I simply heard, "Don't settle."

In other words, wait. Something you want more is coming.

Last week I was invited to a luncheon by the leader of the widows group of the church we just left. I'm not so much into groups for widows. It is hard to feel like I really fit, not because of them but because...well, that is another story. Still, when I explained that I live an hour from the main campus and where the group would meet, the sweet lady said she would keep me in the loop because they want to start a group at our campus. For quite a while I considered volunteering to start the group over here. I could do it. I love planning and organizing, and it would be...something that felt like I was giving back or using my gifts. But, that wouldn't fix the reasons we left, so...

Last night WonderBoy and I were at a local parking lot so he could practice his parallel parking for his driving test, and the pastor pulled up to find out what was going on. Funny how all you have to say to anyone with a license is "parallel parking", and they nod because they know. So Pastor Ed and I chatted a bit. They have a fall festival coming up, and he invited us. Invited us to Sunday School, Bible study, and services, too. Nice man. I enjoyed the chat. The church is close to home. When I came home I looked up the website to see what they believed. Fundamental beliefs. No real place for women to do much, maybe teach the kids' classes like usual, which I don't care to do. Certainly no place for my gifts to be utilized. But you know, when you just kind of what to belong somewhere and someone is nice to you maybe you can make this work? I read through some more, and finally, I just closed the screen and put my computer away and picked up my Bible.

Yesterday morning during my prayer time, the Lord took me to Psalm 68.

5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

I opened my Bible back up to that passage and read it multiple times.

God sets the lonely in families...but the rebellious...those who settle, those who don't trust His faithfulness, those who do things that fill the hole right now instead of waiting for the real in a sun-scorched (or desolate) land.

They have to live with the consequences of their actions, and sometimes those consequences are the hard things they deal with and sometimes those consequences are the loss of the blessings God had planned for them. Both are desolate...lacking Life...lacking the fullness of Him.

Praying for all those who are standing in the loneliness. May you not settle but wait for the fullness of our faithful God.