Monday, December 31, 2018

My Best

My journal entry for December 29, 2018, reveals an ongoing struggle I have in regard to writing. I know God called me to write, and I do write almost every day. Yet, because I fear that my writing isn’t as good as the writing others do, I rarely post and/or submit my work.   

After I’d confessed my sin of disobedience and cried out to God for help, He answered in an immediate and surprising way. Here’s how:

When my husband, who had no knowledge of what I’d written in my journal while we'd sat together in the sunroom, asked Google Home to play Christmas carols, the first one up was “The Little Drummer Boy.”

“Turn it up! Turn it up!”


“I need to hear every word,” I replied.

I listened, wide-eyed with wonder, because I realized God was speaking to me through the words written by Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941. Her song is about a fictional lad who’d been invited to see the Christ-child. As he noticed the fine gifts others were bringing the Baby, the boy also wanted to give the King a gift but felt he had nothing that was good enough.

In a flash of inspiration, he asked, “Shall I play for you?”

Mary nodded.

The lad played his best for Him.

The Baby smiled at the little drummer.

Happy tears filled my eyes as I realized that Christ continues to delight in even little gifts gladly given to Him by those who love Him. I am now resolved to give Him my best, even though my best is not as impressive as the best of others, for I understand that He happily accepts whatever I am able to offer Him. 

To listen to the entire song, click here.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

More, So Much More

When our grandson Bailey (age 17) visited recently, I showed him some digital photos I’d taken of other high school seniors so that he would have a better idea of what kind of senior photos he’d like me to take of him.

After we’d discussed potential places and poses for his pictures, I showed him a sampling of the pictures I’d taken of him through the years. As I clicked quickly from one to another, Bailey seemed to grow up before our eyes.

I said, “Bailey, I can’t believe how you’ve grown!” He nodded and grinned shyly—and a bit proudly—as we enjoyed those few minutes of witnessing his transformation from toddler to teen. "You can easily do things now that you could only dream about doing when you were much younger."  

Bailey has become more, so much more, than he or we ever imagined. And, God willing, there is more, so much more, ahead for him as he transitions from high school to college, to career, to....

Thinking about that reminded me that Christ is more, so much more, than a tiny baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmastime. His full potential was within Him even then; but, as He grew, those around Him observed more and more of the awesome person He was becoming. Those of us who never saw Him with human eyes have “beheld His glory” by reading His story that’s in the Bible. 

Yet, even the most articulate people who wrote the words in the Bible could not adequately tell of the greatness of Christ. But what they do say compels us to worship Him and to praise Him. The more we learn about Christ and the more we experience His presence with us, the more we realize that He is more, so much more, than we realized when we first heard of Him. Thus, Christ becomes sweeter and sweeter to us as the days go by.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created...all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together...." (Colossians 1:15-17, NASB).

Monday, December 10, 2018

Loving and Giving

Note: Below is an excerpt from a newspaper column I wrote in 2001. I'm sharing it again since the idea it expresses remains true for today.

In a Christmas card I received last year, a friend had written, “Every year I like to sit down and re-read the cards I received the Christmas before.” I decided to do that, too.
After re-reading a card from one of my first employers, I paraphrased its message and used it as the introduction for this year’s annual Christmas letter. 

Throughout the year, 
but especially at Christmas, 
we remember the special people in our lives—
the wonderful people 
we’ve been privileged to know and love. 
The people with whom we’ve had good times. 
The people who’ve helped us during difficult times. 
The people who’ve been thoughtful and caring. 
The people who’ve touched our lives
in ways we will not forget… 

Following the writing of that introduction and the re-reading of all the cards, I realized anew this simple yet profound truth: 

A heart that loves, gives.

The special people in my life have done exactly that, as has God who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, New Living Translation, emphasis added).

Love—whether that of God's "love gift" of a Savior or the love of others expressed in diverse ways—is the perfect gift for everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Thankful for Each Day

I may be a tad weird, but I think a foggy day, even at the beach, is beautiful. When clouds prevent the sun from shining through as it normally does, I love the muted blue/gray color that softly shrouds the landscape, hiding many of the surrounding landmarks. I know that the fog will lift, and I'll once again see what it concealed, especially structures in the distance. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the scene just as it is.

Life's like that, isn't it? At first glance, a day (or several) may seem dreary. Even if we long for all things to be bright and beautiful again, shouldn't we give thanks for whatever kind of day we've been given? After all, as the psalmist so rightly said, "This is the day the LORD has made; [Let us] rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24, NKJV).  

In addition to rejoicing in the gift itself, let's be sure we rejoice even more in the Giver who loves us enough to give us that gift--and myriads of others as well.

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Creator's Work

The one who made the Pleiades and Orion, 
who turns darkness into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who summons the water of the sea
and pours it out over the surface of the earth —
the LORD is his name.
—Amos 5:8, Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Floating Along?

By being stricter with yourself, you will begin to live life more deliberately, on your own terms rather than simply reacting to life the way a leaf floating in a stream drifts according to the flow of the current on a particular day.
~Robin Sharma (Who Will Cry When You Die? p.9)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Look up!

As I woke up one morning, I heard a beautiful song via the BBN Radio app on my cell phone. I loved the message it contained, so I got right out of bed and began to search the Internet for the lyrics (see below). 

John Bieri may have written them in the 1930s and 40s. Perhaps after reading what God said to Noah in Genesis 6:16 (“Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks."), Bieri then included in his song other words God might have spoken to Noah.

I want to share the lyrics with you because I believe they will encourage you, too. Although the wording varies slightly from source to source and from vocalist to vocalist, the meaning remains the same: When in difficult circumstances, look up and see God standing by—watching over you, ready to help you.


When God spoke unto Noah, and told him to build the ark,
The Lord knew well the vessel would be cheerless and dark,
So God said build a window with outlook toward the sky,
That's when it's dark and lonesome, you'll see Me standing by.

The storms will come, but fear not; oh, children, I am nigh,
And through the upper window, you'll see Me standing by.

It may be that affliction will rack and rend your frame
Until your mortal body is seared with fevered flame.
But do not be discouraged; just lift your tear-dimmed eye,
And through the upper window, you'll see Me standing by.

Perhaps you'll suffer losses, like houses, lands, and gold,
And you will feel you're homeless, and penniless, and old;
But sweetest peace and comfort will life your painful sigh,
When through the upper window, you'll see Me standing by.

It may be that bereavement will take a loved one dear,
A soul that brought you gladness, real happiness and cheer;
But it will cheer your sad heart, when loved ones from you fly,
When through the upper window, you'll see Me standing by.

If you'd like to listen to the song, please click here:

(Note: This is not the same rendition I heard over BBN Radio.)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Still Standing

Whenever I pass by a chimney, I wonder what kind of house was once attached to it. I wonder about the people who lived there and what happened to them. I wonder what life was like for them.

Whenever I pass by a chimney, I also think about people who’ve suffered many losses, especially losses levied by Alzheimer’s. Those ravaged ones are much like a chimney. They remain, though so much has been stripped away from them, leaving few clues as to what their “house” (their life) was once like.

Perhaps their house had once been a beautiful one having many “rooms” filled with happiness. Perhaps precious children had once romped through those rooms and played in the yard. But time and Alzheimer's (as well as other diseases) had destroyed the house, room by room and piece by piece, leaving only a rock-solid chimney to remind passersby of the house that was once there.

When people pass by such a person, it’s obvious the house has been stripped away. Gone are the memories, the abilities, the personality, the awareness...that were evident in days gone by. Yet, the chimney still stands, reminding passersby that once there was more, much more, attached to it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Year after year, one season ends; another one begins. In books (and in life), one chapter closes; another one begins. People come into our lives; people leave. The tides flow in and out. Flowers bloom; flowers fade. 

Since changes surround us, you’d think we’d learn to accept them more easily, wouldn’t you? But we resist them; sometimes we run from them! However, we'll experience more peace and happiness if only we'll take the advice Jim Milligan (President/CEO of BlueLetter gave in that organization's Summer 2018 newsletter: 
“I pray that as the summer season winds to a close, you will continue to see Christ and what He has done for you. It may look different from what you had planned, but rest in the assurance it will ultimately be for His glory, and your good.”
He's right! And so is Amy Carmichael who said, "In acceptance lieth peace." 

Therefore, it's crucial that you and I not only ACCEPT changes—even those we had not planned, even those we never wanted, even those that terrify us—but that we also REST in the assurance that even those changes will result in God’s glory and our good. Even if we can’t see how that will ever happen, God can see, and He can—and will—make ALL the changes result in glory for Him and good for us.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Prayers of Praise

One day I heard Elisabeth Elliot quote a few words found in the Te Deum (tuh-DEE-um). Being unfamiliar with the Te Deum, I searched the Internet for information about it. I learned that it is an early Christian hymn of praise, possibly written by Saint Augustine or Saint Ambrose in AD 397. The words Elisabeth quoted are translated this way in the Book of Common Prayer:
Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico--Gulf Shores, Alabama
We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee: the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud: the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim: continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy: Lord God of Hosts;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty: of thy glory.
I plan to memorize those words so that I can readily (and often!) offer them as a prayer of praise to God.  I also plan to read regularly Psalm 104, which is a beautiful hymn of praise. Would you like to do that too? 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

On Time—Always!

God is never too late, nor too early, but just on time.
~R. T. Kendall

Friday, September 7, 2018

Not by Chance

For the most part, I agree with what Saint Augustine said. However, I take issue with one word he used. I believe accidents should be changed to divine appointments. That small change is HUGE, isn't it?

As I reflect on my life, I marvel at the people God brings into my life--not by chance, as some would say, or by accident, as Saint Augustine said. I believe God uses time and place and circumstances to bring them into my life. Otherwise, it seems to me, I would not meet them during the normal course of my life. 

Since I believe God puts people in my life for a reason, I should pay close attention to them. I should ask, “What does God want me to learn from them? Has He sent them to bless me? Has He sent them so I could bless them? Or both?" 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Under His Wings

Many times as I read the Bible, I’ll recall a picture I’ve taken that illustrates the principle mentioned in the passage. For example, as I read Psalm 91 (one of my favorites), several photos came to mind, including this one.

I took it in 2013 when my husband and I strolled along the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. The mallard duck didn't appear agitated by the thronging crowd or by the noise in that congested restaurant/shopping area.

I’m not sure why her ducklings had drawn near to her. Had something scared them? Was it naptime?

Whatever the reason, the protective mother and her little ones form a word picture of this promise found in Psalm 91:1-4, NIV: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.... [There] He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Yes, under His wings, we (like the ducklings) find protection. Of course, God has far more skill and power to defend those who seek refuge in Him than the female mallard does. But the mallard and her young ones illustrate the principle of God’s tender love and care for those who trust Him.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Where Do I Get Them?

As I became sleepily aware of a new day dawning, I activated the BBN Radio app on my cell phone. I smiled as I listened to an upbeat, happy, easy-to-remember song my children and I sang many years ago. It’s been given various titles such as I’ve Got Love Like a River In My Souand I’ve Got Peace Like a River. Later that day, I listened to several renditions of it on YouTube. Here’s the link to my favorite:

The song mentions having peace like a river, love like an ocean, and joy like a fountain in our souls. I love the imagery, don’t you? And who doesn’t want to have abundant peace, love, and joy within? 

The writer of the song (John O. Schroeder) doesn’t tell us where to get them. But the Bible does. For example:
  • In John 14:27 (KJV), Jesus says to His troubled disciples, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
  • Jesus also said to them (and to you and me!), "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love"(John 15:9, KJV). The apostle Paul says (in Romans 8) that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from God's love.
  • In John 15:11 (KJV), Jesus also said to His followers, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." 
Now we know where we get peace, love, and joy like a river in our souls! From Jesus! And He never fails to keep us well supplied. 

Aren't we glad our supply depends on Him rather than people or circumstances?

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Brick by Brick

When I read the insight James Clear added to a familiar quote, I realized he was right. Indeed, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.”

Worthwhile projects take time and effort. None of us can construct something magnificent overnight, no matter how much we wish we could. However, we’ll witness our dreams becoming more and more of a reality if only we’ll follow the example of hardworking brick masons. They build beautiful structures by laying one brick at a time, hour after hour and day by day. Furthermore, they work as long as it takes to finish the job.

How hard and how faithfully do we work to reach our goals?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Go Deeper!

When we go to the beach, my husband ventures out a good way into the surf to pick up seashells. As a result, he finds many more unique shells than I do since I can only pick up those that have washed ashore. After we've rinsed our shells and spread them out to dry, anyone who views his collection and mine notices the difference in the variety and condition of the shells. Most of mine are common and often look weathered. But his...oh, my! They are richly colored, unusual, unmarred...

His collection should be better than mine. After all, he waded out into waist-deep water and struggled to maintain his balance while being walloped by the waves, something many shell seekers are unwilling or physically unable to do. Because of vertigo issues, all I could do was stroll on the beach and use a scooper to pick up the shells I wanted to keep.

I thought about that the day I began reading Deron Spoo’s book entitled The Good Book, 40 Chapters That Reveal the Bible’s Biggest Ideas. He encourages everyone, even experienced Bible readers, to reject the tendency to be satisfied with their current level of understanding of the Bible. “Don’t just settle for wading in the surf. Dive deeper! Untold riches await your discovery...each time we read the Scriptures, our understanding is expanded and our love for God is deepened” (Location 273). He’s absolutely right! 

Even though I can't wade into deeper water due to being unable to keep my balance when the sand shifts beneath my feet or when the water surges against my ankles, I'm not restricted from going deeper into God's Word. Whenever I open my Bible, I don't have to be content to play, like a child, at the water's edge. I can--and I do--go deeper, deeper, deeper into the scriptures where I discover incredible insights free for the taking.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Mind the Lord

A minister repeatedly said, "Mind the Lord." I hadn't heard that phrase in many years, but ever since I heard him use it, it has been ringing in my mind and heart.

For example, many times each day, I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to write about a certain topic (like "mind the Lord") or to call someone or to send a card or to pray for a specific individual.

Each prompt provides me with an opportunity to "mind the Lord"--that is, to obey Him. I wish I could truthfully say I do everything He instructs me to do, but, sadly, I don't.

Sometimes I say, "I don't have time right now, but I'll do it later." However, later is sometimes weeks or months away.

Sometimes I say, "I'm willing, but I'm not sure what to say or how to do that, Lord."

Each time I delay, I disobey the Lord, and I withhold a blessing God wants to give to that person. Perhaps they need a word of encouragement to "keep on keeping on" with the good work they are doing. Perhaps they need to know that someone loves them enough to check on them. Perhaps they need financial assistance or help of another kind. Perhaps they're lonely and would enjoy talking with someone for a little while. Perhaps they're struggling with some issue and need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.

For all those reasons and many more, you and I need to mind the Lord. We need to do what He says to do and do it when He says to do it--without delay.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Do Your Thing

The vines of the Moon Flower plant that’s flourishing in a large pot in our yard have climbed to the top of a trellis that is taller than I am. Each day around dusk, a half dozen or so white buds open, each about 6 inches across. Their fragrance is sweet. 

The next morning, the blooms begin to fold up, hiding their loveliness and fragrance. The blooms “do their thing” even if their time is short, even if no one pays attention to them, even if no one brags on them, even if.... They just do what they’ve been divinely created to do and then pass away at the appointed time.

May you and I learn a lesson from them and from the words below.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Trusting Him

I’m overwhelmed by sadness when I hear of the terrible things others are going through. I yearn to be able to “make it all better” for them, to ease their pain or—better yet—to make it all go away. But I can’t. However, I can pray for them, and I do.

As I prayed this morning, the Spirit of God reminded me of the words to an old song. He prompted me to share them online and to copy them and mail them to two persons I know personally who are struggling to survive the terrible things that have come upon them. I pray the words will remind them (and you and me!) of the way to experience peace every day, whether life is relatively pleasant or unbelievably difficult.

Read the words slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully. (I've included them below.) Sing them as you listen here: and/or Then do what the words say! Trust Jesus—every day and in every way for He loves us and will walk with us every step of the way through the difficulties.

Trusting Jesus (Edgar Page Stites, 1876)
Simply trusting every day,
Trusting thro’ a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting him whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly doth his Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While he leads I cannot fall;
Trusting Jesus that is all.

Singing if my way is clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger, for him call;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Trusting him while life shall last,
Trusting him till earth be past,
Till within the jasper wall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Looking and Finding

A photographer (Mark Hemmings) I follow on Instagram suggests finding faces in nature. I’m having so much fun doing that. And I’m finding them all around. The “eyes” in the photo included in this post are side drains that run underneath a neighbor’s driveway. I’ve seen faces in clouds and in thumbnail-size blooms and in rusty spots and in several other places.

As I’ve looked for faces in unexpected places, I’ve been reminded that we can usually find whatever we’re looking for. This has made me even more committed to looking for—and expecting to find— the good, rather than the bad, in people and in situations. Both good and bad exist, but I’m determined to look hard to find the good and to be thrilled whenever and wherever I discover it! 

Would you like to do that, too?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Like Produces Like

We’ve been enjoying the produce my husband brings in from his small garden. He can count on his tomato plants to produce tomatoes, never peppers. His cucumber vines produce cucumbers, never tomatoes or herbs or green beans. Whatever kind of plant he plants, it bears exactly what it’s supposed to. No surprises. Ever. 

This principle applies to all living things. Lions give birth to lion cubs, not llamas. 

The Bible says that like produces like--not only in the natural world but also in the spiritual world. For example, the Spirit of God who indwells believers produces this kind of spiritual fruit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). People who do not have the Spirit manifest very different attitudes and actions. 

Does the Spirit of God live in you? To find out, take a look at your “fruit.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Lord, I Am Willing

Lord, I am willing
To receive what You give;
To lack what You withhold;
To relinquish what You take;
To suffer what You inflict;
To be what You require.

I found that powerful prayer (poem) in a book a friend gave me for my birthday. Its words remind me of this insightful statement (attributed to Amy Carmichael) that Elisabeth Elliot often shared on her Gateway to Joy radio program: In acceptance lieth peace.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday the 13th...

Friday the 13th—a day considered by many as a “bad luck day.” I prefer to think, as the psalmist did in Psalm 118:24, that this day, like all other days, is “a day that the LORD has made.” Therefore, I choose to rejoice and be glad in it even though I know not what will happen in the hours that remain in it. 

Although I can’t control much of what happens, I do get to choose my responses, as do you.

I choose, in advance, to thank God for the gift of this day.

I choose to thank Him for the gift of His presence with me—and He is with me (and with you!) at ALL times (Joshua 1:9), including Friday the 13th. 

I choose to thank Him for causing all things to work out for His glory and the good of His children (Romans 8:28). 

Is that what you choose, too?

A Time IS Coming...

"...for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice, and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."
(John 5:28-29, NIV)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Tale of Two Farmers

Note: A short fiction story inspired by a Bible verse I read recently. Enjoy. Please comment if you'd like to.

The sun was just coming up as two farmers (dearest friends and closest neighbors) were enjoying their daily early-morning phone call.

JOHN: Looks like a pretty day.

SAM: Yep. What are you gonna do today?

JOHN: I think I’ll clean out the gutters. Been a long time since I’ve done that. I also need to trim the shrubbery. Gotta keep the wife happy you know. And she has been after me for weeks to get some of this stuff done.

SAM: Changed your mind about planting your sugarcane today?

JOHN: Yeah. I just can’t convince myself to do it today. I’m gonna do some little jobs around here instead. Get them off my mind. Free me up to focus on the planting when I get around to it, probably tomorrow.

SAM: Better do it today; it’s supposed to rain for the next several days.

JOHN: Oh, I doubt it’ll rain. That weatherman is wrong about as often as he’s right.

He who works his land
will have abundant food,
but the one who chases fantasies
will have his fill of poverty.
~Proverbs 28:19, NIV

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Encounter

I wrote the poem below after reading the Bible passage (John 4) that tells about what happened centuries ago when Jesus came to a certain town. I urge you to read it for yourself and to believe, as the woman and the other villagers did.

I took this photo during a musical presentation at a local church.

Jesus came to my town one ordinary day
And really surprised me with what He had to say.
He told me who He was and all I’d ever done,
So I believed Him when He said He was God’s Son.

I told all my neighbors, “You need to meet Him, too!”
And we invited Him to stay a day or two.
As He spoke, we realized all He said was true.
Many believed in Him—way more than just a few.

The encounter with Jesus changed many a life,
Though the plain truth He spoke often cut like a knife.
I’m glad He spoke with me one ordinary day
And completely changed me with what He had to say.

Everyone can tell I’m truly a “happy girl”
Now that I know and love the Savior of the world.
To know Him is to love Him, and I surely do!
And there's more good news: He loves ME—and also YOU!