Thursday, June 30, 2005

And the Oscar goes to....

She had wanted to do it for some time but it hadn’t worked out until now. Finally though, the time had come and she was up to the task. She gathered the items she would need and set to work. She cracked, she poured, she scrambled and she cooked. Oh, what a breakfast this would be!

“Juice!” she thought. The crowning touch! There was no beautiful tray to serve it on so she improvised and used a cutting board. Small hands proudly bore her carefully crafted gift down the hall and into my room where she presented her offering to me. The brightness of her smile rivaled the sun. I was touched and deeply blessed by her thoughtfulness.

I was grossed out by the under mixed, runny eggs and ‘so tart I may never pry my lips apart again’ lemonade that was to be my breakfast!

Of course I didn’t say that! Instead I thanked her and told her what a good job she had done and what a blessing she is to me. She stood there looking at me expectantly; waiting for me to eat.

My mind frantically searched for a way to avoid eating that yellow and white pile of slime that was grinning up at me from the plate. Thinking quickly I gestured toward the computer and said, “I’m just going to finish this up since I’m in the middle of something, and then I will eat my eggs. Why don’t you go get your breakfast, okay?”

I took a sip of lemonade to show my sincerity. My lips puckered so much that my cheeks cramped but she saw it as my desire for a kiss. A quick peck and off she dashed to get a bowl of cheerios.

I went back to work and tried to ignore the eggs that were mocking me from the blue trimmed white plate that I used to think was pretty! I would still have to eat them however, I had a plan. I had set them by the open window so they could get icy cold while I finished what I was doing!

When enough time had passed, (and I had given some of the lemonade to my son) I wandered nonchalantly out to the kitchen.

“How were the eggs Mommy?”

“Well, while I was working they got cold so I’m just going to warm them up and then I will eat them right away!” I said cheerfully.

Then I nuked them until they resembled one of those hard rubber balls that bounce all over the house when you drop them! Yummy! Not a hint of slime anywhere! I sat at the table to eat them in front of her and made appreciative noises all the way through.

“Those were fabulous Arielle!”

“Great!” she says, “What should I make for lunch?!”

Peanut butter actually looks alluring after facing those eggs first thing in the morning!


How many times have I brought the spiritual equivalent of runny eggs and sour lemonade to my heavenly Father? It’s probably a lot more than I think! Yet He has never once turned my offering away. Like the loving parent He is, He receives my gift with joy knowing it was my desire to bless Him.

If it is your heart to bless God, don’t be afraid that your gift won’t be good enough. Don’t look around to see the other things laying on the altar and start comparing yours unfavorably to them. It’s your heart He wants. Whatever is in your hand becomes the most precious jewel, the purest gold when it’s given from a devoted heart.

When presented in love an old cutting board, a plate of runny eggs and a tall glass of sour lemonade suddenly becomes a sumptuous banquet on the finest china, a goblet of the clearest crystal and a silver tray so pure it dazzles the eye.

“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.” Psalm 149:4

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Okay, for those of you who have been bugging me to post a picture to my profile; here you go. Yes, it was painful! I hate having my picture taken (and really hate posting it to the internet!) Be nice to me (because I will delete mean comments!) :)

Justified For Evermore...

Here is a poem that I love...


…The Lord wiped every tear away, and turned
to see his bride. Her heart had yearned

Four thousand years for this; His face
Shone like the sun, and every trace
Of wrath was gone. And in her bliss
She heard the Master say “Watch this;
Come forth all goodness from the ground,
Come forth, and let the earth redound with joy.”
And as he spoke the throne
Of God came down to earth and shone
Like golden crystal full of light,
And banished, once for all, the night.
And from the throne a steam began
To flow and laugh, and as it ran,
It made a river and a lake,
And everywhere it flowed, a wake
Of grass broke on the banks and spread
Like resurrection from the dead.

And in the twinkling of an eye
The saints descended from the sky.

And as I knelt beside the brook
To drink eternal life, I took
A glance across the golden grass,
And saw my dog, old Blackie fast
As she could come. She leaped the stream –
Almost and what a happy gleam
Was in her eye. I knelt to drink,
And knew that I was on the brink
Of endless joy. And everywhere

I turned I saw a wonder there.
A big man running on the lawn;
That’s old John Younge with both legs on.
The blind can see a bird on wing,
The dumb can lift their voice and sing.
The diabetic eats at will.
The coronary runs up hill.

The lame can walk, the deaf can hear,
The cancer-ridden bone is clear.
Arthritic joints are lithe and free,
And every pain has ceased to be.
And every sorrow deep within,
And every trace of lingering sin
Is gone. And all that’s left is joy
And endless ages to employ
The mind and heart, and understand,
And love the sovereign Lord who planned
That it should take eternity
To lavish all his grace on me.

O, God of wonder, God of might,
Grant us some elevated sight,
Of endless days. And let us see
The joy of what is yet to be.
Any may your future make us free,
And guard us by the hope that we,
Through the grace on lands that you restore,
Are justified for evermore.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

The podium Jon built. (I have more to say on this subject but we are going camping today and I just don't have time! I will be back Saturday and hopefully post again soon.)

Scrap Wood...

A few years ago my husband was asked to build a new podium for our church. He is a woodworker by trade so he was excited to apply his skill to something for the Lord. The first thing he did was design it. He went online and looked at every picture of every podium he could find. In the end, it didn’t look like anything he had seen. It was completely original, a one of a kind creation.

When he was finally done with all the planning it was time to choose the wood that he would use. Jon has a knack for looking at a big hunk of wood and seeing the potential while the rest of us just see firewood. He meticulously chose one type that would make up the panels, the deck and the frame. Then he chose another for the dove that he planned to inlay on the front. Each piece that was considered was inspected and when he found the right ones they were set apart for his purposes. Then he carefully cut each part out, shaped it, fit them together, took them apart and reshaped where necessary, then fit them together again.

Finally, when all the parts were to his standards he glued them together and made the body. At this point he had an actual podium that would have been functional but he wasn’t done with it yet. He wasn’t going for simply functional; he wanted to create a thing of beauty. So he sanded it and smoothed it and got it prepared for spraying. It’s when a piece is sprayed that it really seems to come alive. The warmth of the wood is brought right out there for the eye to see. The grain of the wood that before just seemed invisible suddenly appears with shimmering beauty and there is a depth wasn’t previously noticed.

Just as Jon meticulously planned and created the podium; God carefully designed and lovingly hand crafted each and every one of us. He chose the color of your eyes and the shade of your hair. He shaped each and every eyelash. All those freckles you probably hated as a kid? He put each one in its place. There isn’t a single thing about you that happened by accident.

Psalm 139:13-16 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

Many of us will look at our lives and not see the potential that God sees. We don’t understand how He could use us. The people we would choose have talents and gifts that seem far beyond what we have been given but God sees beyond the rough splintery outside to the beauty that lies within.

One thing you should know about the podium; it was made entirely out of scrap wood. Every piece in it was destined to be thrown away or burned. You may feel destined for the scrap pile but God sees even your potential. After all, He’s the one who put it there. Will you surrender to the hands of the Master Craftsman and allow Him to reveal the loveliness He placed in you?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Blank Page

Writing is hard! I sit down with my pen and tablet thinking, “Okay! This time I’ll get something down!” But then I look at that sheet of paper, clean, crisp…blank like my mind! Am I the only one who looks at it and sees a yawning chasm? I know I’m supposed to fill it with thoughts and ideas but it’s so vast! It’s so empty and huge that I feel lost on the page.

I have never thought of myself as a writer. I feel intimidated and overwhelmed by the very idea of it! Writers are these brilliant people who can paint pictures with a word, make profound truths simple enough to understand and touch feelings and emotions with the stroke of a pen. I’m just a woman with a big vocabulary.

And yet I feel a pull to write. I’m drawn to it even though it frightens me. What am I afraid of?


What if I’m just kidding myself? What if they just laugh at me? Will I look dumb? In my mind my thoughts are private. I can scribble and doodle and no one will ever know. But when you write those thoughts down on paper it’s like hanging your underwear out on the clothesline for all your neighbors to see. You know they all have them too but theirs aren’t out there dangling in the breeze!

What if I let my fear keep me from writing? What if I am too afraid to step out of the boat onto the water? I will be safe in the boat, that’s true but Jesus isn’t in the boat. He’s out there waiting for me. I have to get out and stand exposed on the water to get to Him.

If it is true that I have a gift for writing then I want to be faithful with it. I don’t want to just bury it and not share it. If I have it, it’s for a reason.

In Isaiah (6:8-9) it says, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” And He said, “Go, and tell this people:”

Am I willing to be sent? Will I “go and tell this people”?

Maybe failing isn’t in writing something lousy, maybe failing is in not writing at all.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I haven't had time to blog this week so I'm cheating and posting a pic. (I'll get back to it soon!) We've taken to calling her Baby Won Kenobi or Obi Baby Kenobi. Wouldn't she look cute with a little tiny cloak?

Friday, June 10, 2005

I Love You More Than....

My son Joshua and I have this little game we play. I’m sure it didn’t originate with us; moms have probably been playing it with their kids for ages. There aren’t really any rules and it doesn’t have a name but it’s about the best game I’ve ever played. Sometimes I start it, sometimes he does but it always ends with him in my arms.

“Hey Mom,” He yells, “I love you more than celery!

Gee thanks I think. But still, if he loved me less than celery I would be worried!

“Hey Josh!” I yell back, “I love you more than broccoli!” I’ve upped the stakes. Broccoli is my very favorite vegetable and he knows it.

His little mouth struggles to keep from smiling. His shoulders rise up to meet his ears as he fights to hide his embarrassed pleasure.

“Hey Mom.” He’s quieter now “I love you more than Lego’s.”

Wow! That’s a big one! He really means it when he brings in Lego’s! I want to grab him and squeeze him.

“Oh yeah? Well I love you more than coffee!”

Blue green eyes widen in shock! He looks like he may need to sit down for a moment, then he flashes his dimple at me in a mischievous grin.

“Do you love me more than………chocolate?”

I don’t hesitate. “Yup!”

I stretch out my arms and he launches his wiry little body at me. Then I squeeze him tight and smooch that dimple ‘til he squeals.

To One it was no game…

“Lord, do you love me?”

I love you more than heaven…

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14

I love you more than my comfort….
“He was oppressed and afflicted yet He opened not His mouth…” Isaiah 53:7

I love you more than my right to be honored…

“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.” Matthew 27:27-31

Then He stretched out His arms and died for me, taking my sin, my shame and the punishment that should have been mine.

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6

Then He conquered death so that I might live…

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

He cleared the way for me to run boldly to Him. I launched myself into His arms; He caught me and holds me tight.

His arms are open for you too…

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I was standing on the side of the pool breathing the humid chlorine filled air when my gaze was drawn to them, two sisters splashing noisily. They were giggling and chasing each other in an impromptu game of tag that left me wishing I could jump in and play too. The blond one said something that caused the dark haired girl to throw back her head and laugh with such abandon that I had to smile, even though I didn’t know what was said. Though both were married with children of their own I could see the little girls they had once been.

I wanted to call to them and tell them to enjoy this moment. I wanted to point out to them just how blessed they were in case they didn’t know, but instead I just stood there silently watching as the ache in my chest grew. It was a strange kind of feeling, bittersweet because I was happy for them but at the same time jealous of their friendship.

I shared that kind of friendship with my sister once upon a time. We watched each other’s children, shared secrets, went shopping together and all the things sisters do. Then one day she met a man and fell in love with him. Normally I would have been happy for her but this man was addicted to crack cocaine and had problems with the law. He also happened to be our cousin’s boyfriend and had a child with her.

My sister disappeared with him one day and I worried about where she might be, if she and my four year old nephew were safe. Finally they called. They were in Las Vegas and had gotten married in a drive through chapel with my nephew asking for fries from the back seat. It was one of those “If I don’t laugh I will certainly cry” moments.

The only reason they had called was because they’d run out of money. The big sister in me wanted to send some right away but Jon said “No.” I knew he was right but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. My new brother in law began to rant about what hypocrites we were because we wouldn’t send money. He raved about how if we were truly Christians we would help them out. Jon finally had to hang up on him and we didn’t hear from them again for over three years. I didn’t know where they were or how to contact them.

I cried.

I cried a lot.

Finally I came to a place where I had to give my sister to the Lord. He reminded me that He loves her far more than I ever could. He reminded me that He desires a relationship with her even more than I do. And He reminded me that He is God and knows right where she is and how to reach her.

Why am I telling you all of this? I’m not really sure other than she’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’d love to be able wrap all of this up with some wonderful lesson but I’m still new at this writing stuff and I don’t know how. Instead, I will tell you a little of what I’ve learned from this whole thing.

First, I had to let go of my sister because she was standing between me and my husband and ultimately between me and God. I had always seen her as my responsibility and to many times I put her first. God used the situation to realign my priorities; Him first, then my husband (little sisters don’t make the top two when you’re married).

Second, I learned to trust Him with her. If there is someone you love who has wandered off the path, know that God knows right where they are and what it will take to bring them back. He loves them more than you do.

Third, don’t take your relationships for granted. We don’t know what the future holds and time is too short to be nit picking. If it is an unhealthy relationship then ask the Lord to fix it but be willing to let it go if that’s what’s needed.

And fourth, don’t spend all your time mourning something you no longer have. It may hurt but God removed it for a reason. If you can take your eyes off it to look around, you will probably find He has given you many more blessings in place of whatever was removed. I have many friends who He has brought to fill that void. They laugh with me, cry with me; encourage me when I doubt myself. I can count on them to be there for me when trouble comes or share a Strawberry Frappaccino on a warm spring day.

A couple of them would probably even go swimming with me if I asked them to.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


For days the air had been hot and heavy, pressing down on us like a thick blanket that left us breathless and lethargic. So when the breeze started we welcomed it. It skittered through the campsite like a playful child, flipping the pages of my book until my place was hopelessly lost but I didn't care. The cool breeze ruffling through my hair made me feel as if I were awakening from a dream that had lasted far too long.

All through the camp people were coming out of their trances. Suddenly kids on bikes were everywhere and adults were walking about chattering like they hadn’t seen each other for days.

I wanted to enjoy the turn in the weather but deep inside me a warning was going off. Something was urging me to clean up the campsite. The strong pull to get everything put away and batten down the hatches didn’t seem to fit with the gentle breeze and cloudless blue sky but I couldn’t ignore it.

I hadn’t been cleaning more than a few minutes before I noticed clouds skittering by overhead. The urgency inside me grew and I worked faster. Then someone reported thunder and lightening down by the lake. This news kicked everyone into high gear; tarps were thrown over tents, campsites secured, children and pets were rounded up and tucked inside.

Before we had fully tied the tarps down the first fat drops began to fall. It had gone from hot, still weather to windy torrential rains in less than 20 minutes. We sat huddled in the tent listening to the thunder roll for over an hour.

Finally, the rains eased and the thunder rumbled off in the distance but the wind was reluctant to leave. No longer the gentle breeze that had playfully ruffled my hair, it was now in a full blown tantrum. The tall pines overhead danced and swayed, waving their branches as if in wild applause.

The day was chased away by the fast approaching darkness but the wind still would not subside. As night fell we snuggled the little ones into the tent and settled down by the fire. I usually find evenings at camp to be soothing and peaceful but this night the wind tormented the flames, whipping and swirling them around, blowing hot acrid smoke in our faces before flinging it off into the blackness somewhere along with my peace.

In that dense darkness I could hear the trees creaking and groaning with every blast from the unrelenting wind. Finally, one could take it no longer and we heard it crack then fall with a loud crash somewhere in the inky black night.

I’m sure my eyes were wide with the terror I felt because Jon immediately tried to sooth me. He wanted to go make sure the others were safe but the thought of him disappearing into the darkness caused all of my insides to twist into knots. Finally, though I was reluctant to let him go, concern for our friends won out.

As I watched the beam of his flashlight disappear into the night the huge black void pressed in and surrounded me. I was small and vulnerable, helpless against the power of the wind that lashed about me. I sat there in the dark, alone and afraid.

“Be anxious for nothing.”

The whispered thought crept into my mind amidst the frenzied thoughts of crashing trees and smashed tents. I tried to grab it but I was being tossed wildly about by the fears whirling through my head.

“Be still.”

Though again it was only a quiet whisper the words seemed to carry all His strength and power. Suddenly, the storm that raged in me was calmed and His peace flooded my soul. I was no longer at the mercy of the storm. Instead I saw myself as a tiny flame that was cupped in large strong hands, protected from the wind.

There are so many storms that blow through our lives and most of them are unexpected. We’re just going along enjoying the sunshine and out of the blue the thunder rolls, the lightening flashes and the wind tries to tear us apart. Our minds whirl with fear and doubt and we wait anxiously for the dawn, wondering if it will ever come.

When the night is black and closing in on you, remember He is near. With but a word He created all that we see. With a whisper He can calm the storm or the child caught in it. His love for you is more powerful than the fiercest gale and He cares for His own, whether they are huddled by a campfire or wandering in the dark.

I was lulled to sleep that night by the sound of the same wind that moments before had terrified me.

I know One who is bigger than the storm.

“My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory;

The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.”

Psalm 62:5-8