Category Archives: Articles

What’s Not To Love?

 

Sad things will come untrue…might-have-beens will be…and losses will work backwards…❤️ What’s not to love about a God who loves us this much…

“The Reason For God” (Timothy Keller) spoke to me throughout its entirety. Some of his words/comments, and quotes of other people, quickened my heart and made me smile:

“Jesus insisted that his return will be with such power that the very material world and universe will be purged of all decay and brokenness. All will be healed and all might-have-beens will be.”

One of Keller’s quotes from Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings: “’Is everything sad going to come untrue?’ The answer of Christianity to that question is—yes. Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having been broken and lost.”

And finally, his quote from C.S. Lewis: “They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”

I love Keller’s gathering of these thoughts—and being reminded that somehow, in God’s redeeming and restoring grace, someday every single hurt will be healed and made right.

And finally, one of my very favorite verses:
 
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, 
and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. 
All these things are gone forever.
Revelation 21:4

It Helps When You Know Where You’re Going

 

 

I was the designated booking agent for our first annual sister’s trip; and Joy told me to book our second night hotel in Rockport. She said it was a charming seaside town with interesting shops and plenty of fresh lobster rolls.

 

We’d discussed various things to see and do while in New England and agreed our main objectives were to see fall foliage and eat lobster rolls. Joy said she’d love for us to see Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park off the coast of upper Maine, but Maine was further north than we had time to venture on this trip.

 

Our flight arrived in Boston after midnight and everybody was at the point of silly-tired by the time we claimed our luggage. When Judy made us take our first three-sisters-picture in front of the floor to ceiling mirror in the ladies room, we all dissolved into giggles.

 

We were truly exhausted; and it was wonderful to finally fall into our beds at our functional and clean, but non-descript hotel outside Boston.

 

The next morning, awakened by our hotel’s “gradual awakening system”—which was how Judy’s sleep-deprived brain perceived the morning sun glowing around the curtain’s edges—and fortified by a first-things-first stop at Starbuck’s, we set out to see New England.

 

The foliage was gorgeous along the drive; as was Good Harbor Beach where we stopped and admired the Massachusetts shoreline. Our giggles returned when we tried to casually position ourselves in the background of a German movie being shot in the beach parking lot.

 

Next stop was Rockport. As soon as we got to town, we called the hotel I’d booked to see if we could check in early and drop off our luggage, but our rooms weren’t ready yet.

 

True to Joy’s description, Rockport was New England seaside picturesque. We clambered over the cobble beach and took pictures on the boulders; then wandered through the small shops on the street lining the shore.

 

We sat on a deck by the bay and ate steaming hot lobsters—straight from the lobster boats behind Roy Moore Lobster Co to the stockpot to our buttery fingers.

 

Finishing our afternoon off with ice cream, we headed toward our vehicle so we could check into our hotel and then decide what we wanted to do that evening.

 

A problem surfaced when GPS couldn’t locate our hotel’s address. I knew it existed because I’d booked our rooms there and had spoken to the front desk earlier that day. Fortunately, I’d taken printed copies of our reservations and retrieved them as soon as we got to the car. I handed them to Joy—happy to let her sort it out—because she was the one who’d told me to book in Rockport.

 

She looked at my papers and said, “You didn’t book our hotel in Rockport, MAINE did you?”

 

And I said, “I booked it in Rockport. Just like you said.”

 

As it turned out, there’s a Rockport, Maine AND a Rockport, Massachusetts; AND they’re 3 hours and 19 minutes apart. But the best thing about traveling with your sisters is that you can laugh at just about everything, if that’s what you choose; and we do and we did.

 

We laughed about my booking confusion the entire trip; and my sisters shared the story about “our sister” with people we’d never met, everywhere we went—a nice police officer, an antique shop proprietor, the apple orchard owners, our waitress at The Franconia in New Hampshire, the store clerks in Vermont and on and on and on. And we’d laugh all over again.

 

The three best things about the trip were: the laughter with my sisters, the buttery lobster rolls, and the beautiful foliage. And my take-away lesson was: be sure I find out the state, as well as the town, before I make an on-line hotel reservation.

 

There are all kinds of reservations in life to be made; and I’m every so heart thankful that my final destination reservation was made a long time ago. No confusion there; and I’m anticipating lots of laughter when I arrive.

 

Straight from Jesus’ mouth to my ears and heart:

 

 

There is more than enough room

 

in my Father’s home.

 

If this were not so,

 

would I have told you

 

that I am going to prepare a place for you?

 

John 14:2

 

YES!

 

Happy Colors

I love God’s color palate; and this year’s Japanese maples drenched in strident purples, sizzling reds, Popsicle oranges, and blinding yellows almost defied sensibility. They reminded me of a busted bag of Skittles generously spilled and bounced out all over the floor; and their late-blooming neighbors—fuchsia and coral azaleas—didn’t inspire much awe spread underneath the maple’s flamboyance.

 

Several years ago I happy-color painted my way through the house. My son made me smile when he teasingly told me that the results were akin to walking into a Pixar movie. I laughed; and then reminded him that he no longer lives here.

 

It’s hard to put too-fine a pointed word on it, but I do know that I’m at home in happy colors.

 

At year-end 2015, nametests.com, via a random Facebook post, informed me that my “word” for 2016 was “joy”. That pleased me to no end because I’d been actively seeking joy for some time. It also pleased me that it criss-crossed with a long-standing tradition Dan had established in our church’s Christmas Family Communion service: in the softly-lit quiet of each family’s gathered moment, he’d give them their word for the next year.

 

I love words and particularly love having a word. So I’m pleased to report that my 2016 was filled with joy. Self-fulfilling expectation? Perhaps. God’s blessings spilled out on me? Definitely.

 

I searched nametests.com this morning, but they’re offering different questions this year; which is just as well. And I’ve chosen my own word for the coming year: aware.

 

Stay posted.

 

“Now learn a lesson from the fig tree.

 

When its branches bud

 

and its leaves begin to sprout,

 

you know that summer is near.

 

In the same way,

 

when you see all these things taking place,

 

you can know that his return is very near,

 

right at the door.

 

I tell you the truth, this generation

 

will not pass from the scene

 

before all these things take place.

 

Heaven and earth will disappear,

 

but my words will never disappear.

 

“However, no one knows the day or hour

 

when these things will happen,

 

not even the angels in heaven

 

or the Son himself.

 

Only the Father knows.

 

And since you don’t know when that time will come,

 

be on guard!

 

Stay alert!

 

Mark 13:28-33

My word.

 

My word.

 

When Grace Rained Down On Harley

 

Harley is the quintessential BOY—rough and tumble, fall down, get up and don’t complain or cry. He’s a hard worker with a sweet disposition and the best of intentions.

 

Three years ago, someone who loves Harley a lot saw to it that Santa mailed him a personal letter right before Christmas. Here’s the accounting of that letter’s delivery and reading:

 

Loved, loved, loved Santa’s letter to Harley…our lovable little SPIDERMAN ON STEROIDS. His kindergarten teacher uses the green, yellow, orange and red system and Harley’s had a colorful year so far.

 

His letter from Santa arrived today. His big sister Kendall is one of the best readers in first grade so she read the letter aloud to him, their mom and Honey (grandma)

 

When she read, “I hear you have been exceptionally good this year, Harley,” she stopped, looked up at her mom and said, “WHAT”????

 

Then she read, “I hear you have been really good this year especially in your kindergarten class…Mrs. Claus & I are very proud…keep up the good work”. She paused again and said, “WHAT”????

 

This was repeated two or three more times…and we’ve laughed all evening.

 

Harley just stood there grinning from ear to ear…as grace rained down…thankful, no doubt, to hear what a good boy Santa thought he’d been.

 

Kendall was rightfully perplexed—it can be awfully confusing when we know the other person’s back story, and God still rains down his amazing grace—in spite of it all.

 

 

“You have heard the law that says,

 

‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.

 

But I say, love your enemies!

 

Pray for those who persecute you!

 

In that way,

 

you will be acting as true children

 

of your Father in heaven.

 

For he gives his sunlight

 

to both the evil and the good,

 

and he sends rain on the just

 

and the unjust alike.

 

Matthew 5:43-45

Lamby Lou’s First Christmas Ornament

 

Lamby Lou left the Old Williamsburg gift shop and moved to Texas before Faith Cora was even born. We grown-ups initially thought she was just an exceptionally soft cuddly toy—but as Faith grew, so did Lamby’s persona and family stature.

 

Eventually you rarely saw one without the other: FaithCora&LambyLou. Lamby Lou took the fall for Faith Cora’s misdeeds on several occasions—the first being when she uprooted several indoor potted plants. The most traumatic consequence of that experience was that Lamby had to have her first bath; and what might seem like short wash and dry cycles to one can be unbearably long to another.

 

Various family members have been willing to retrace many miles, particularly at bedtime, to retrieve an accidentally left-behind lamb. It was never much fun to have a sleepover with Faith Cora, if Lamby didn’t come too. We’d begin by rationally discussing and reasonably agreeing that Mama Jan had a Lamby at her house and Faith could sleep with Mama Jan’s Lamby. But what’s an agreeable substitute in the sunshine hours loses its agreeability in direct proportion to the setting sun.

 

Lamby Lou is well-traveled and has participated in many adventures, but there are still some experiences she hasn’t had; and I was informed of one of those a few weeks ago.

 

One of our family traditions is that sometime around Thanksgiving weekend everyone selects a Hallmark Christmas ornament for the tree; and I thought when the kids married, they’d take their ornaments to their own trees, but I was wrong. Turned out the “rule” is that those stay on my tree. This is a fun tradition and in the early years, I’d fill in the empty spaces not taken up by the special ornaments. Those days are long past—our collection has grown exponentially, everyone has an individual tote box in the attic, and every year I need a bigger tree than last.

 

It’s nearly always a family outing when we “go get our ornaments” and this year was no different. Faith, Abe, April and I followed the same pattern as always: examine every ornament multiple times, discuss what best reflects the year, make a choice, and then change your mind. It could be exhausting to some people, but we persevere.

 

We looked at all the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments for Abe and when I pointed out the Little Lamb to Faith Cora—she was immediately smitten. She turned full-face and body toward me, then quietly and reverently, with hopeful expectation, told me, “Lamby doesn’t have a Christmas ornament.”

 

Well…children and lambs are both important. Straight from the Lamb of God:

 

 

He called a little child to him,

 

and placed the child among them.

 

And he said:

 

“Truly I tell you,

 

unless you change

 

and become like little children,

 

you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

Therefore, whoever takes

 

the lowly position of this child

 

is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 

And whoever welcomes

 

one such child in my name

 

welcomes me.

 

Matthew 18:2-5

…………………..

So when they had finished breakfast,

 

Jesus said to Simon Peter,

 

“Simon, son of John,

 

do you love me more than these?”

 

He said to him,

 

“Yes, Lord; You know that I love you “

 

He said to him, “Tend my lambs.”

 

John 21:15

 

From Penalty-of-Death to Paid-in-Full

 

What an amazing God we serve. I recently told a good friend that there’s a big difference between being religious (multiplicity of rules impossible to follow) and knowing Jesus personally (relationship).

 

 

On the day Moses set up the Tabernacle,

 

he anointed it and set it apart as holy…

 

Numbers 7:1

 

 

I’m slowly absorbing how God’s meticulously defined boundaries protected his people from his holiness; and then marveling at how he himself shattered those under-the-penalty-of-death formalities with penalty-paid-in-full intimacy….

 

 

You know that you are God’s sanctuary

 

and that God’s Spirit lives in you,

 

don’t you?

1 Corinthians 3:16

 

 

and reward…

 

 

For we know

 

that when this earthly tent we live in

 

is taken down

 

(that is, when we die and leave this earthly body),

 

we will have a house in heaven,

 

an eternal body made for us by God himself

 

and not by human hands.

2 Corinthians 5:1

 

 

I get too eager to share my love for the Lord sometimes and jump the gun with words; but I never want to beat my friends over the head with my faith—and so I pray…

 

 

Father God,

 

please help me to never disturb

 

the caterpillar-to-butterfly transformations

 

that you are engineering.

 

In Jesus name I pray,

 

Amen.

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I Serve An Improbable God

 

King David cheated with a married woman; and when he found out she was pregnant, he murdered her husband.

 

God knows everything about us. Everything. Period. Before we were even born, he knew everything we’d ever think, say or do.

 

That includes me. It also includes the Obama, Clinton, and Trump families.

 

So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David (the king) this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor.

 

The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle.

 

The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter.

 

One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”

 

David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die!

 

He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”

 

Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul.

 

I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more.

 

Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife.

2 Samuel 12:1-9

 

But years before that happened…

 

…God removed Saul (the king) and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’

Acts 13:22

 

I serve an improbable God. He loves the Obama, Clinton, and Trump families. I am praying for the same.

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I Wish I Could Just Take Your Voice With Me

This morning I told Sonia, my trainer, that I wished her voice could just follow me home and talk while I’m exercising.

 

One of my goals is to develop new muscle memory, but I’m not there yet. Sonia always explains and demonstrates—using correct form and posture—a brand new exercise for me. Then she’ll say, “And now it’s your turn.”

 

I rarely manage to do it right the first time, but she watches and instructs me while I try. Her words help me move from wrong to right positions; and once that happens, my muscles can feel the difference. I’m gaining strength and improving my balance.

 

Our conversation this morning reminded me of something from my years as a mental health counselor. Oftentimes a client would say, “I could hear your voice in my head this last week,” and believe me, I was always curious to hear what they’d remembered.

 

The words I’d like to hear from Sonia, when I’m exercising at home, are the same things she repeats every time I work out: engage your core, straighten your chest, keep your feet straight, your booty out, and your knees behind your toes. Basic things that help improve my form and protect me from injury.

 

The words my clients remembered were usually things I’d also said repeatedly: stop your worry thoughts, journal, get some exercise, eat enough protein, and pray. Basic things that help build mental and emotional muscles.

 

It was a simple process in my thoughts this morning to leap from physical to mental/emotional to spiritual muscles—because I want the very same thing from the Lord. I want his voice to go with me—to grow my strength and improve my balance.

 

Some things I’ve been learning: the more I do basic stuff like reading his word—the more his voice goes with me; and the more I pray—the better I can hear him.

 

My joy is growing deeper.

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The Scent of God

 

I love to walk and pray early in the mornings—usually with camera in hand. Several weeks ago I discovered a flower garden adjacent to some wooded paths I often walk. I enjoy all the plants and always smile at God’s happy colors; but my favorite is a salmon-peach-pink-with-a-touch-of-yellow floribunda rose called “Colorific”. It has an old-fashioned prettiness that glows when the early morning sun reaches it; but its invisible beauty is what pulls me—a wonderful fruity fragrance that reminds me of roses that grew around our patio when I was child.

 

Yesterday I cut my flower admiration time short though when the gardeners showed up to spray with who-knows-what. I crossed the creek back to the wooded trails and then an interesting thing happened over the next hour’s walk. Periodically I’d smell the roses I’d left behind on the other side of the creek—not a tiny I-think-I-just-got-whiff-of-that, but a strong repeated several-deep-breaths-worth of that wonderful fruity fragrance. I smiled—every single time.

 

Since 2014, I’ve been repeatedly reading through my Bible. Last month, I almost didn’t begin again at the beginning, but now I’m really glad I did. This is my fourth trip through its pages and God’s been honoring my request to show me things I’ve never noticed before.

 

I told Mason, age 10, last week that I’d just learned how God smells. His response was “REALLY? FOR REAL?”

 

Yep. In Chapter 30 of Exodus, God shares the recipe for his personal anointing oil and incense. Mason and I think it’s really cool that all the ingredients are readily available; and we’ve ordered them so we can smell for ourselves.

 

God’s Holy Anointing Oil Ingredients:

 

Myrrh – slightly earthy, black licorice scent

Cinnamon – sweet, spicy-hot scent

Calamus – buttery, nutty, soft and sweet scent

Cassia – pungent, warm, earthy, spicy scent

Olive oil – fresh cut grass

 

God’s Holy Incense Ingredients:

 

Resin droplets – aromatic fresh woodsy scent – sap from the balsam tree

Mollusk shell – mild, fresh scent (may instead be onycha – a combination of labdanum and benzoin – which produces the scent of Ambergris. In the OT the mollusk was an unclean animal)

Galbanum – musky, intense green scent

Frankincense – piney, lemony, sweet, woody scent

 

Directions:

 

Blend the spices together and sprinkle them with salt. Grind into a very fine powder.

 

Now God very clearly spelled out to Moses that these blends were holy and to be reserved only for His use. They were for consecrating his wilderness Tabernacle and worship implements. He said that anyone who replicated them for personal use was to be cut off from the community.

 

I stopped reading at those words and pondered; and then I remembered the literal physical earth-shaking change that occurred when Jesus ripped the Temple curtain from top to bottom:

 

Time pivoted from the old to the new; and God offered his very own Holy Spirit to dwell within us in these faulty physical tents we inhabit. The Creator of the universe offered eternal intimacy to His creation.

 

I believe God is pleased when we want to know him better; and I can hardly wait to smell his favorite scent.

 

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I Know What I Know

 

A formally trained Bible scholar, I’m not; I’m just a reader, observer, and learner of scripture and current events. I’m not a prophet or a seer; I’m just fascinated to view the news through the lens of scripture. I’m not a date setter; I’m just a season-watcher. And I’m thrilled when I see new archeological discoveries that offer even more physical proof of the Bible’s veracity.

 

That said, I’m extremely interested to see current news stories reporting that the three major religions of the world—Judaism, Islam, and Christianity—are all expecting their Messiahs to appear soon.

 

http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/75707/cataclysmic-star-nibiru-causing-extreme-weather-events-rabbi/#pqoDgBvV0e3za1o5.97

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/03/isil-prepares-for-apocalyptic-showdown-of-muslim-and-christian-a/

 

http://christinprophecy.org/articles/jesus-is-coming-back-very-soon/

 

It appears that there’s a major criss-cross collision coming; and it’s an excellent time to know that what you choose to believe is, indeed, the truth:

 

 

For false messiahs and false prophets

 

will rise up and perform great signs and wonders

 

so as to deceive,

 

if possible,

 

even God’s chosen ones.

Matthew 24:24

Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says:

 

“Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem,

 

a firm and tested stone.

 

It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.

 

Whoever believes need never be shaken.

Isaiah 28:16

If you confess with your mouth

 

that Jesus is Lord

 

and believe in your heart

 

that God raised him from the dead,

 

you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

 

 

Amen.

 

 

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