“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Anonymous and those Antidepressants and California's Great Adventure and the National Air & Space Museum (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center)and African Children's Choir and Beth Moore's Esther and Cannon Beach and C&O Canal and Christopher's Birthday Scavenger Hunt and playing Chess with Christopher and Dark Chocolate and Dallas Cowboys Game (for Christopher and Anthony) and Anthony's trip to Ethiopia and Facebook and Family and Friends and Gardening and Golden Gate Bridge and Hood to Coast Volunteer and iPod mini-speakers and Jeremiah 29:10-13 (Siesta Scripture Memory Team) and Kink-free hoses and Knitting and Lima Beans and helping in the Lunch room and Maryland and Muir Woods and Me, Myself & Lies and National Parks and NFL Redzone and Ocean City with Lisa and PRC Gala and Anthony's Passion for Photography and Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity and Rock Band (Lego Edition) and San Francisco and Sausalito and Starbucks Gold Card and Snow and SHAPE class and Sunriver and Too Busy Not to Pray and Twitter and Tassimo individual coffee maker and Unusual amount of traveling for Anthony and Vision Therapy and 6 Words and Waterfalls and the eXamined life and Yosemite and Christopher's Little League Team the Yankees and AlcatraZ


The New ILG Hat with Matching Vest

My little nine-month old niece, Peyton.

A handmade Christmas gift from her Auntie Sheri.
This is what Fun Fur was made for!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Today, I Overheard That
It Did Make A Difference

She was with her husband and son. I was browsing at the Christian bookstore. But I had the privilege to overhear their conversation.
She said: What version do you want?
He said: King James Version.
She said: Here it is in the giant print.
He said: How much is it?
She said: Do you know... I didn't even have to buy my first Bible. There was a gal I work with who bought me a really nice Bible and I didn't even believe yet. And she bought me two other books. I bet she spent a lot of money on me... and I didn't even believe yet. Can you believe that?

Have you ever given someone a Bible? Or a book? And wondered later... did it make a difference?

Let me tell you... today, I overheard that it did make a difference. A life-changing difference.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'" Matthew 25:21

Friday, December 25, 2009

Surviving Depression at Christmas

Merry Christmas!
Dear friend,

I know this year has been hard for you. Everyone is wishing you a MERRY Christmas or a HAPPY Holidays... and you wish that was true. That it was merry or happy. But it is not. You are finding no joy in Christmas this year. Actually, you find Christmas to be stressful... anxiety-ridden... and depressing.

You are struggling to make it through Christmas. You know friends and family mean well when they say, "it's okay... just be happy... it's Christmas." And you are trying. Trying so hard, but you're thinking that you just want to lie back down and pull the covers over your head.

Surviving Christmas. Sometimes... we just have to survive Christmas. We know it is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. And we are thankful for His birth. But all the rushing... all the purchases... all the interactions with friends and family... all the EXPECTATIONS... all the unmet expectations... well, it is just so overwhelming.

And so here is my gift to you...

Dear Lord,

I pray You would be with my friend today. That You would give them rest and peace. I pray that You would give sensitivity to those they encounter. I pray that You would plant a seed of hope within them.

You say in Romans 8:11 ...if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. So I pray that You would give life to my friend. Life in their heart, soul, mind and strength.

And that You would be their strength in surviving Christmas.

In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

I love you, friend. And I am praying for you... Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Primal Blog Tour

Earlier this year I shared what was on My Bookshelf. I had just finished reading-- for the first time-- Alicia Britt Chole's Anonymous: Jesus' hidden years and yours. I asked what was on your summer reading list... and Amy of Simplfying... Me left a comment with several books. But a couple days later she felt compelled to tell me about her new read: Mark Batterson's In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day. She said it was challenging and she highly recommended it.

So I borrowed it... and I haven't given it back.

I practically ate the book and thought of all the posts I wanted to write about it. How it spoke truths to me. How I thought that it was written for me. For some reason, I could never bring myself to post about it... until now.

After I finished In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day, I started listening to Mark Batterson's podcasts at National Community Church. I started following Mark Batterson on Twitter and Facebook. And of course, I became a follower of his blog. Soon, I realized that I was not the only one who found his style to be simple yet challenging. Always drawing me back to prayer, reading the Bible, and using the gifts God has given me.

So, when I found out that Mark Batterson had written a new book, Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, I knew it would be on my reading list. But it got better than that... I saw on Mark's blog that I could apply to receive a free copy if I would write a post about it on my blog. Sweet!

Another phenomenal book. And here I am, again. Feeling speechless. How to describe a book that has impacted me... that has already begun to work its way into my cognitive system... in one post. It is impossible. It is a book I have plans to read again at a more leisurely pace. Mark Batterson will be doing a series on the book in January... and I encourage you to buy the book and tag along for the ride.

The book is based on Mark 12:30

Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and
with all your soul and
with all your mind and
with all your strength.

In Mark 12:30, Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. (Which is part of the script written in the Mezuzah.) And Mark Batterson is challenging us to get "primal" or to go back to a time when our love for the Lord drove us to compassion or wonder or curiosity or energy.
I hope this book has taken you back to some of the sympathy breakthroughs that have broken your heart and the epiphanies that have shaped your soul. I hope it's unleashed a holy curiosity to know God more. I hope it's renewed your resolve to devote your energies to kingdom causes. ~ Mark Batterson, Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity
It is a book that makes me hungry to read my Bible... get on my knees and pray... lend a hand to a neighbor... open my eyes and ears to God's wonders. It is a book that inspires me to be authentic in my faith and relationships. Perhaps it is one of those books that I feel like it was written to me... for such a time as this.

And I guess that makes it a real risk to read. Almost dangerous. If you're looking for the status quo... don't read it. Don't bother. But... if you're like me... and some of you are... and you're wondering if you are capable of loving God with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength... then join the reformation.

Our generation needs a reformation. But a single person won't lead it. A single event won't define it.

Our reformation will be a movement of reformers living compassionately, creatively, courageously for the cause of Christ.

This reformation will not be born of a new discovery. It will be the rediscovery of something old, something ancient.
Something PRIMAL.

What would your Christianity look like if it was stripped down to the simplest, rawest, purest faith possible? You would have more, not less. You would have the beginning of a new reformation -- in your generation, your church, your own soul. You would have primal Christianity.

This book is an invitation to become part of a reformation movement. It is an invitation to rediscover the compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy that turned the world upside down two thousand years ago. It is an invitation to be astonished again. ~ Mark Batterson, Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity

Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity
at RandomHouse.com

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Cryin' in a Winter Wonderland"
lyrics by sister sheri

Thinking of my friends and family who are enjoying a very blustery winter storm. Last year at this time we were facing a similar storm in Portland. Our flights were canceled. Finally rescheduled, but our plane was literally stuck to the tarmac... so we missed some of the festivities, but did in the end make it home for the holidays.

To lighten my spirits during the travel delay, I decided to re-write a couple well known Christmas songs. Hope they bring you a little holiday cheer...

Stop the Snow!
(to be sung to the tune of Let It Snow!)

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
And I don't mean to be so spiteful,
But since Maryland is the place to go,
Stop the Snow! Stop the Snow!
Stop the Snow!

It doesn't show signs of stopping,
And the freezing rain is still dropping,
To the airport should we go?
Stop the Snow! Stop the Snow!
Stop the Snow!

When we finally do decide,
How I'll hate going out in the storm!
Christmas in just three nights,
But the airport might become our dorm.

Our hopes are slowly dying,
And, all my family's crying,
Re-booking is the way to go,
Stop the Snow! Stop the Snow!
Stop the Snow!

Cryin' in a Winter Wonderland
(to be sung to the tune of Winter Wonderland)

Southwest called, are you listenin’
"On the plane, snow is glistenin’
Our de-icer's not right, we’re cancelin' your flight"
Cryin' in a winter wonderland

Gone away is the preferred
But we'll not be deterred
We'll check Travelocity, as we garner pity,
Cryin’ in a winter wonderland

In the meantime we can build a snowman
And pretend that we don't have a frown
Friends say, "Are you buried?"
We’ll say, "Sure are"
But we can put on chains and drive around

Later on we’ll perspire
As we join with every flyer
To face unafraid the new plans we made
Flyin’ from a winter wonderland

Footloose from the Snow and Weather!
(sung to the tune of Deck the Halls)

Flyin' through Chicago was our folly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Should' ve just hitched a trolley
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

On we tossed our snow apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Family said, "Don't fly in peril"
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Christopher's tears flow before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Sheri's tears join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Poor Anthony feels our pressure
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Fam'ly memories none can measure
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Flight delays, Christmas Eve passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Landed late, amongst the masses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Family now joins together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Footloose from the snow and weather!
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Jar is Still Cracked

My Siesta Scripture Memory Verse 14 (July 15-31, 2009).
An epiphany for me. Scripture interpreting scripture... what a treasure.

originally aired July 29, 2009
This Jar is Cracked

photography by Anthony

We now have this light
shining in our hearts,

but we ourselves are like
fragile clay jars
containing this great treasure

This makes it clear that
our great power is from God,
not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

As I ponder my current memory verse... I marvel at the thought that God's light shines within me. And also through me... considering all the chips and cracks in this particular jar of clay. How easy it is to see God's great power when the gaps and crevices allow the light to shine through...

And so I was caught off guard when I came across this verse in Jeremiah.

"This is what the Lord Almighty,
the God of Israel, says:
Take these documents,
both the sealed and unsealed
copies of the deed of purchase,
and put them in a clay jar
so they will last a long time."
Jeremiah 32:14 NIV

The beauty of the Old Testament. The beauty of scripture interpreting scripture.

I had only ever considered Paul's inference towards the fragility of a clay jar. Not the durability of a clay jar.

Anthony took this picture when we were in Israel last year. These jars are similar in nature to the jars that housed the Dead Sea Scrolls when they were found in 1947. Jars of clay that protected ancient manuscripts for almost 2,000 years.

Although fragile in nature. They were used for preservation. Preservation of the word of God. Worthy of holding a treasure.

And that is me. And that is you.
"And what a awesome thought—
God has always put his eternal treasure
in fragile jars of clay,
and though the jars eventually break,
the treasure doesn’t,
but somehow makes the jars themselves eternal."
- Pastor Ray Noah

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Experimenting with Love and Fruit

Icy falls. Photography by Anthony.

Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy,
it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse 12/13
(June 15-July 14, 2009)

Today, I thought there might be some correlation between 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (The Love Chapter) and Galatians 5:22-23 (The Fruit of the Spirit).

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

So, I tried a little experiment... and I was surprised with the results.

Love is patient, PATIENCE
love is kind. KINDESS

It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud. GOODNESS

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, SELF-CONTROL
it is not easily angered, PEACE
it keeps no record of wrongs. GENTLENESS

Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth. JOY

It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres. FAITHFULNESS

If you have any insights about this... please do share!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jean is in my life... for such a time as this

Esther Celebration at Jean's house
Sheri, Evelyn, Jean, Sheila
Jan, Nancy, Angel (missing Sherrie & Jan)

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Titus 2:3-5

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse 11
(June 1-14, 2009)

I want to honor my dear friend, Jean. She will be upset with me when she finds out that I wrote a post about her. But it ties right in with Titus 2:3-5, so I think she'll forgive me.

The Bible Study I attend has about 100 ladies. To keep things on a relational level, we sit at round tables of about eight (or nine). I lead a table and Jean was my co-leader for the study of Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman.

We had met Jean and her husband, Joe, a couple years ago at a Bible Study (was it Experiencing God or Kay Arthur's Colossians?) at our church. Actually, they were our table leaders... and we fell in love with them instantly. Joe has since gone on to be with the Lord, but his mantra "Trust and Obey" still rings in our ears.

I guess about a year ago Jean felt led by the Lord to sit at my Bible Study table. The Lord brought her to the table to come alongside me. And when asked to be a co-leader with me, she pretty much jumped for joy.

Jean is an artist of note writing. She must have gotten a note-writing PhD. And when you get a note in the mail box from her... well, you'd think you'd won the lottery. The lottery of encouraging words! She even takes time to add a little flair to the envelope for good measure. She does the thing right!

What I love even more about Jean... oh... there is so much to love... is that at the young age of 83 --she'll be 84 on 12/17, so be sure to send her a birthday note!-- is that she is still seeking the Lord. Still learning. Still listening. Still being refined by Him. To be a better mother, grandmother, friend, table co-leader. And daughter of Christ.

She encourages me. Lifts me up. The grace I receive when I read her words! And yet at twice my age, she is humble... and willing to receive edification and instruction from her table leader... because she longs to be the woman God created her to be.

And so today, I want my words to honor Jean. To be words fitly spoken. To be words that will be received in grace. And since my dear friend is not one to use the internet... I think I will print out this post... write her a little note... with birthday wishes... add a little flair to the envelope... and send it on its way.

Because for me... Jean is in my life... for such a time as this.

I love you, Jean. Happy 84th Birthday!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blogging is so Passé

Winter Water Falls. Photography by Anthony.

But Moses said, “O Lord, please
send someone else
to do it.” Exodus 4:13 NIV

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse 10
(May 15-30, 2009)

"Blogging is passé."

I was startled by the statement. Is it really? Because I just thought I was getting the hang of this whole blogging thing. And what will I do if I don't blog? Hmmm.... actually... it might be a relief. But for now... I blog.

I have often asked, "O, Lord, please send someone else to do it." Send someone else to write this or that post. Sometimes I feel inadequate. Okay, lots of times. Or frustrated. Some posts I struggle to write... some come easily. Some reveal my faults... and some posts seem a bit braggadocios.

Blogging has been somewhat dangerous to me. A bit tempting. I found myself in words Alicia Britt Chole wrote in Anonymous...
...I craved affirmation and longed to be spoken of in superlatives...

Through his Word and his people, he revealed how vulnerable it made me to the power of others praise, my own prideful perfectionism, and a whole host of other unpleasant spiritual ailments...

Man's praise is like cotton candy --sugar-laden and insubstantial... For my spiritual health, I had to make a change...

Once we have known an addiction to man's praise, shifting our diet from finding value in man's acceptance to finding value in God's acceptance does not happen in a matter of days. It is a process we revisit though out our lifetimes. Thank God for hidden years! In those underestimated seasons, when no one shows up to decorate us with praise, life is finally bare enough for us to notice that God's adoring eyes have always been upon us. We had his attention all along. We just could not see it because we were too distracted by the sight of ourselves.

And so, I have found that blogging has been good for my soul. Good for my relationship with the Lord. Good for my desire to know God in a more intimate way. Choosing to be obedient to Him... whether I want to or not... knowing that others may be reading... or not. But coming to a place where I am finding my significance in Him.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV

Now, don't get me wrong... I love me some cotton candy...

What Not To Say

Twilight. Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Photography by Anthony.

"Consider carefully what you hear," he continued.
With the measure you use,
it will be measured to you—
and even more.

Whoever has
will be given more;
whoever does not have, even what he has
will be taken from him.
Mark 4:24-25 NIV

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse 9
(May 1-14, 2009)

I began this year with good intentions to read through the Bible in 2009. I made it about half way through... meaning I didn't read it every day, but I read the selected Scripture about 190 days throughout the year.

Just as Mark 4:24-25 states... the more I heard/read... the more I received. And I thoroughly enjoyed reading through books of the Bible. Finding verses that I heard in the past and wondered where there were. Seeing similar themes repeat. Discovering new stories and remembering old ones. Experiencing the comfort of God's consistency.

And now, being the thinker that I am... I am wondering how to tweak the reading plan so that I do read through the Bible next year. I like this set up, so I will stick with it. And I have decided that I will continue on from where I currently am at and then start at the beginning after I complete all the books of the Bible. One thing I have noticed is that there are days when I only read through one Proverb... and I know they stretch it out so that they have the format they want, but what ends up happening is that there are days with five long chapters in Ezekiel. And I get through one chapter... and never get back to finishing it.

Another thing I have to consider is when and where I read the Bible. I set myself up for interruptions and distractions. So, admittedly for me... I have some work to do. But it is worth it. Because I have found when I am wondering what to pray... or what to say... or what to not say... or what to do... or how to respond... or how to parent... or how to grow in Christ... or how to love... Well, the more I am in the Word of the God the more apt I am to turn to the Word of God at my time of need.

What about you? Have you found a way that has helped you stay in the Word on a daily basis?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

unappreciated uncelebrated unaffirmed and unapplauded.

Reflection of Half Dome. Photography by Christopher.

Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time

we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 NIV

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse 8

She called me yesterday. She was weary. And from our conversation I could tell that she felt
and unapplauded.
Of course she did. She is a mother. She was tired of not only doing it all... but being noticed for none of it all.

Anonymous. Unnoticed. Hidden.

Alicia Britt Chole talks about this in her book, Anonymous: Jesus' hidden years and yours. How "we were designed by God to desire acceptance and affirmation ultimately from him and also from each other."

But sometimes... we grow weary in waiting for that affirmation. And we long for that affirmation. And we start to get angry at those not giving us the affirmation we desire. The affirmation we think we deserve. And desiring affirmation is not wrong. But demanding affirmation can begin to tear down our reserves and we start to give up. It can start to tear relationships apart.

... and in the end, we miss the harvest. All of the time and effort... gone. Because we give up.

So what do we do when don't get the accolades we are seeking? Alicia suggests embracing the opportunity. Essentially if others aren't going to affirm who we are... or what we are doing... then we have to do it ourselves... with God's help. If we feel insignificant to others, we are in the right place to determine where our significance comes from. "Stripped of what others affirmed in us, we are left staring at our undecorated selves, wondering what makes us truly special."

And if we take the opportunity to "develop a healthy portrait of ourselves" we will reap the harvest--"an unshakable identity." And the best place to start? In the Word of God. Reading it. Memorizing it. Wielding it. Praying it.

And perhaps picking up a book like Anonymous... and discussing it with a friend. Because sometimes we need someone to come along and offer... a word of "edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4:29)

So let's not allow ourselves
to get fatigued doing good.
At the right time we will harvest
a good crop if we don't give up, or quit.
Galatians 6:9 MSG

Friday, December 11, 2009

Because He Is The One

In My Garden...

The ones who do the planting
or watering aren't important,

but God is important
because he is the one
who makes the seed grow.

1 Corinthians 3:7 NLT

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse 7
April 1-14, 2009

In April I was busy planning a church retreat. Knowing myself pretty well... I knew I needed to be reminded that no matter what I did... God was the only one who could make seed grow. So, I should be content in the giftings He has given me... and trust Him for the outcome... not myself.

As I was looking back at my gardening posts... I came across this one... that actually references this memory verse.

originally aired June 2nd, 2008
You Lavish Me In My Garden

I was walking in the garden today. I was sulking. Looking at the seed that I had sown. Without sun... there is little growth. It has been dreary. There has been plenty of rain... but not much sun... Day after day after day.

And then I wonder... how many times have I been able to reap what I did not sow in this garden? I have eaten cherries from trees that I did not plant. I have cut roses off bushes I did not plant. I have enjoyed the aroma of lilac and lavender that I did not plant. I have enjoyed the shade of trees that I did not plant.

But now that I have sown the seed. I want to see the growth. I expect it. I want it, now.

Then I recalled the passage in 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 which talks about how one person plants, another waters, "but God made it grow." How did I forget that part?

God makes it grow. It doesn't matter if I planted it. It doesn't matter if I watered it. I cannot make it grow.

And so, as I look at the bigger picture... the garden of my life... I wonder... where else am I expecting growth? What else am I expecting God to do... when and how I want Him to do it?

And now that I think about it... I can wait, Lord. You lavish me in my garden. I will wait. I have to wait. You will make it grow.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ephesians 4:29

Yosemite Rim. Photography by Christopher.

Let no unwholesome word
proceed from your mouth,

but only such a word
as is good for edification
according to the need
of the moment,

so that it will give grace
to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 NASB

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse 6
(March 15-31, 2009)

This verse definitely hit home with me. I ended up writing seven posts on it back in March. They're worth a peek... I was even going to "remix" them, but my words are few, lately. I'm having some difficulty concentrating, but my spirits are good. I have a couple angels who have been checking in on me. Thank you for your prayers.

"And that's all I have to say about that." ~ Forrest Gump

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fah Hoo Forres, Fah Hoo Forres

But do not forget
this one thing,
dear friends:

With the Lord a day is like
a thousand years,
and a thousand years are
like a day.

The Lord is not slow
in keeping his promise,
as some understand slowness.

He is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse 5 (March 1-14, 2009)

originally aired on March 12,2009
Fah Hoo Forres

I've been thinking about the Whos lately. How I grew up being amazed at how the Whos handled the whole Grinch thing... I was really impressed.

But then I thought... they didn't know what hit them. They weren't sitting there on the couch with us watching what the Grinch was doing. They didn't see the deception of the Grinch. They didn't see the hatred of the Grinch. They didn't have to suffer through all the pilfering and pillaging of the Grinch.

They woke up. They went outside. They held hands. They sang a song... "Fah Hoo Forres" and the next thing they know... The Grinch is their hero. He is returning everything that belonged to them in the first place.

And sometimes I wonder... if it would just be easier to be a Who. To be oblivious... and to wake up the next morning finding a green creature speeding toward me with a sled and a dog... and all my stuff.

But I would have missed my favorite part... The part where they show that picture of the Grinch's small heart growing three sizes that day. You know when the heart grows outside of the box. Like there is metal around the heart and it bursts out.

Yeah... I guess I don't want to be a Who after all... I'd rather hang in there during the tough times... just to see a heart grow and learn the true meaning of Christmas...

Now, that's truly amazing.

And they were all
at the greatness of God.
Luke 9:43a NIV

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just One Tree In The Forest

Just Past Fairy Falls. Photography by Anthony.

May my lord pay no attention
to that wicked man Nabal.
He is just like his name—
his name is Fool,
and folly goes with him.
But as for me, your servant,
I did not see the men my master sent.
1 Samuel 25:25

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse 4 (February 15-28, 2009)

I chose this verse in February because I had been given the opportunity to teach on Abigail in our ladies' Bible study. When I recently reread her story in 1 Samuel 25, I was again impressed by her wisdom. Wondering... what had prepared her in the past to give her such insight to act the way she did?
"Because the choices we make in the place of trial today are greatly the fruit of choices we have made in our yesterdays." ~ Alicia Britt Chole, Anonymous
What happened in Abigail's yesterday? We know of her future. She became one of King David's many wives. Just one of many. She might have possibly gone unnoticed. Most of King David's wives did. Why would we see her amongst the many? Just one tree in the forest.

At least Bathsheba became the mother of the king to succeed King David. But Abigail? She is only known for the choices she made. To intercede for her husband's life. And to advise the soon-to-be king to consider the consequences before he acted. Where did her wisdom come from?

And this causes me to look at the choices I am making today. Choices that may seem insignificant... even to me. How could one decision make a difference? One decision of many? But as Alicia Britt Chole reflects in Anonymous... it is the culmination of our hidden underestimated choices that can gain momentum and influence how we respond in times of our greatest trials.

I have chosen the way of truth;
I have set my heart on your laws.
Psalm 119:30

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you,
then choose for yourselves
this day whom you will serve...
But as for me and my household,
we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:15

Thursday, December 3, 2009

epilogue of
A true story.

El Capitan, Yosemite. Photography by Christopher.

And when he was come into the house,
his disciples asked him privately,
Why could not we cast him out?

And he said unto them,
This kind can come forth by nothing,
but by prayer and fasting.
Mark 9:28-29 KJV

Siesta Scripture Memory Team:
Verse 3 (February 1-14, 2009)

originally aired on August 22, 2009

A true story.

Almost everyday I am in the garden watering the plants that do not receive the benefit from our sprinkler system. Last year I bought a hose that insisted on its packaging that it was "kink-free."


This year, every day as I water... the hose kinks. Not just once. Not just twice. Multiple times. Delaying the amount of time necessary for watering as I have to go and "unkink" the hose.

I told my husband, "I am going to buy a new hose."

He asked if I felt that was a wise purchase considering the current economic crisis.

What I should have told him was that I would be helping stimulate the economy by buying a new hose.

I didn't.

So, I have decided to suffer with my kinked hose. Water. Kink. Stop. Unkink. Return. Water. Kink. Stop. Unkink. Return. Ad nauseam. My nauseam.

Until the other day. When I was ruminating a current situation. I felt the Lord prompt me, "Pray for this person/situation each time the hose kinks." I thought, "Are you kidding me?"

And so... Water. Kink. Stop. Pray. Unkink. Return. Water. Kink. Pray. Stop. Unkink. Return. Water.

And so it went. Until Tuesday night. When the hose decided that it was done being a hose and it just wanted to kink. Over and over and over and over and over and over. Until I said to the Lord that I thought I was done praying for this situation. Really! But I continued to pray because I thought... this person must really need it!

Wednesday morning I shared the story with a friend. And we prayed about it.

So, Wednesday night out to water. The hose did not kink once. I was so accustomed to praying for the situation that I still prayed, but was relieved by the lack of kinking.

And the next day. The hose did not kink once. I still prayed, but realized that I was truly feeling a sense of peace about the situation.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

What's the moral of my story? Here's my encouragement... if you have something that consistently reminds you of how little things can really bug you, use it as a reminder to pray for someone. Use that irritation as a prompting from the Lord.

Maybe it is every time you have to do the dishes. Or change a diaper. Or pay a bill.

And who knows. Maybe they'll have to stop selling kink-free hoses.

I wish I could say I have learned my lesson. That there's been no kinking lately. But I am still a work in progress. And so... Water. Kink. Stop. Pray. Unkink. Return. Water. Kink. Pray. Stop. Unkink. Return. Water. Repeat often.

The Only Thing We Have To Fear
Is Fear Itself

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you
will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalm 121:3-4 NIV

Siesta Memory Verse 2 (January 15-31, 2009)

I choose these verses in January because I was anxious. The bad kind of anxious... filled with anxiety. Anthony would be heading to Ethiopia when I chose this verse... which meant Christopher and I were on our own for about 10 days. I was praying for God's protection over him... and us... especially while we were sleeping.

And I was anxious about the inauguration. Thinking that God might have made a mistake when He chose Senator Obama to become president. (Daniel 2:21) Worrying that all my beloved freedoms would be lost... and that America would no longer be "one nation under God."

Anxiety. An emotion of fear. It causes pain to our hearts and minds and... stomachs. It most certainly affects our relationship with God. But perhaps that it is a good thing. What if worry was actually an indicator of something wrong... something that we haven't dealt with? Something that God wants us to deal with...

Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything,
by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

What if we really took everything to the Lord in prayer? If we looked at our anxiety as a way to draw closer to the Lord and depend upon Him even more than we are comfortable with? What would happen?

And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and
your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

So, what's on your heart? Are you anxious about anything? Worried? Perhaps by pressing into your anxiety, you will find an unresolved issue. Then ask the Lord specifically what you need from Him. He wants to know. He loves you.

Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be terrified;
do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you
wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

"Let me assert my firm belief that
the only thing we have to fear is fear itself
—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror
which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
, First Inaugural Address 1933

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Had Actually Become Depression Itself

On the way to Fairy Falls - photography by Anthony

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you; and

when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;

the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2 NIV

Siesta Scripture Memory Team: Verse 1

I've decided to walk through my Siesta Scripture Memory Team verses for this year. Just enough for one a day to finish on Christmas Eve. Hard to believe I am about to select my 23rd verse to memorize for this year. And I wonder if my brain could hold even more next year...

My first verse selection of this year is so precious to me. A verse that I held so tightly during my depression in 2006.

2006. I struggled. My dark night of the soul. Where was God in all of this? I started to believe the lie in my head that was telling me that I was dying... that I would be better off dead... that I was a burden to those around me... that I didn't even exist anymore... that I had actually become depression itself. I had no value.

It wasn't just in my mind. It was physical, too. I couldn't eat. People would bring us meals... because I didn't even have the strength to cook. And I would try to eat, but I just couldn't. And I would cry trying to force myself to eat.

My digestion was a wreck. I remember praying grace over meals... and meaning it. God, please help me to eat and digest this food. Please, God.

I tried to watch television. But everything bothered me. I had to be sheltered from the news. I tried to watch funny programs, but I felt bad for those who were the object of the joke. Soon, my only television watching became the Travel channel with the sound turned off.

I couldn't stand to be on the phone. Everything seemed loud. I couldn't concentrate enough to read. A friend would drive Christopher to school... and I would go back to bed. I would gain enough strength to pick him up at the end of the day.

I would start to feel a little better each night. I would go to bed and wake up worse than the day before. Again, I would feel better at night... like Groundhog's Day, I tried to stay awake as long as I could... fearing sleep... because I would wake up and be back to where I was the day before.

We didn't know at first that it was depression. Although I suffer with chronic depression, it had never been like this... with these physical symptoms. Was I pregnant? Was I premenopausal? Was my thyroid off? Was it cancer? I was taking anti-depressants, but nothing was helping.

I had to live through it. Each day. Each horrible day. Each wasted awful day. Not able to serve in any capacity. Not able to be a wife and mother. Just a sick bump on a log.

But was living through it really an option? Was I going to live through this? Was God really with me? And although at the time I couldn't believe it, I would read this verse over and over.

When I was passing through the waters and the rivers and the fire... When I was in the depression... God was with me. I would not be swept over. I would not be burned. Really? God was with me? and I would survive? I still didn't believe it, but it was better than the alternative.

I posted the verse on my bathroom mirror. I would right it on a slip of paper and carry it with me... as if carrying it with me would make me better. Well, it was worth a try.

And it was all true. God was with me every moment. I can see that now. I can know that now. But then... all I knew was living one fragile moment at a time. And He was right... I was not swept over. I was not burned. The flames did not set me ablaze...

Or did they? Because the fire inside me... that longs for everyone to know Christ... and not just know about Him, but to know Him... to experience His forgiveness and His love... to walk a deeper walk... to live a more abundant life... still burns within me. It is all I have to give.

Oh, dear... are you ready for this? I am actually glad that I went through such a deep depression. What?! Yes, it is true! Because when I am in worship and I sing about God's Amazing Grace... I know it. I KNOW IT! I have experienced it. And it is all true! All true! God is who He says He is... and He can do what He says He can do!

Are you there today? Are the waters rising? Are you about to be swept over by the river? Are you walking through the fire? Whatever it is... He will be with you. He promised.

And friend, I am here, too. With you. Praying for you. Waiting for you.

With much love,

Monday, November 30, 2009

and I babble...

Half Dome, Yosemite - photography by Christopher

Words still escape me. A magical spontaneous trip to Yosemite in November. Never having been... I wasn't even sure what was in store for me. All I knew was that Anthony's anticipation made me long for the place I had never been.

It was a feast for the eyes. And being the blogger I am... I thought of all the wonderful posts I would be sharing with you... about this hidden jewel. The eye candy photographs tied with words of wonder... but alas... I have been speechless.

But I have noticed, when someone asks me about the trip to Yosemite... My eyes light up, my heart beats faster and I babble about standing around the park and just staring at sights I have never seen before. Sights that I could never have dreamed existed. And I am reminded of visits to the Grand Canyon... and Crater Lake. And how can you describe just how "grand" Grand Canyon is... or how blue Crater Lake is?

And the only thing I can compare it to... is my relationship with the Lord. How often words fail me when I try to explain what the Lord is doing in my life... How I want to describe His majesty, His beauty, His love... All I know is that when I am asked about Him... My eyes light up, my heart beats faster and I babble about how totally wonderfully awesome He is. And how grateful I am.

Especially this time of year... when my thorn starts to flare. And although I would rather run from depression, the Lord has asked me to draw near. He will take care of me. It is a trial. Sometimes a temptation. But I know that He will see me through.

And it makes sense. As I read through Anonymous... and Alicia Britt Chole speaks about Jesus' temptation in the wilderness... in the desert... I realize that is where I am. And it is where I learn the most. And it is where my experiences and weakness tend to show me how dependent I am on the Lord. And it makes me who I am.

And I stand on God's promises. Promises I have memorized this year.

That He will show up and take care of me.
He will bring me back home.
He knows what He is doing.
He has it all planned out.
He won't abandon me.
He will give me a future.
He will listen to me.
He can be found.
He'll turn things around for me.
I can count on it.

This is God's Word on the subject:
"As soon as Babylon's seventy years are up and not a day before,
I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home.
I know what I'm doing.
I have it all planned out—
plans to take care of you,
not abandon you,
plans to give you the future you hope for.

"When you call on me,
when you come and pray to me,
I'll listen.

"When you come looking for me, you'll find me.

"Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree.

"I'll turn things around for you.
I'll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you"—God's Decree—
"bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile.
You can count on it.

Jeremiah 29:10-14 MSG

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Trudgery

I almost missed it. We were hiking back (and up) to find the waterfall sweetly named "Fairy Falls." But I turned my head and looked through the trees and there it was. A rainbow. It touched water and sky... and my soul. I was entranced and stood there as I marveled at this play of light and water. I slowly pulled myself away so that I could continue moving on to the prize... of "Fairy Falls."

We were on an expedition. A photo expedition. We were hunting for the perfect shot. Well, at least Anthony was. Christopher and I were along for the ride.

We sent Anthony ahead to find what he was looking for... and we trudged the almost 2 mile trek to the "Fairy Falls." I almost turned back, but I encountered some friendly hikers and they told me it was just about 2 more minutes up the path. And since I had come that far... I decided my weary legs could withstand 2 more minutes... and so they did.

We turned the corner... and when I finally saw the prize... what I had traded in my peaceful quiet Sunday afternoon for... I had left my soul-touching rainbow for... I was disappointed. It was much smaller and darker then the photos had shown. And it didn't compare to everything I had already seen on the journey. It was quite underwhelming. Wishing and wanting it to be more... but I couldn't. It was already getting dark... and I was getting wet.

When we got home and Anthony downloaded his photos, he showed me the prize. It was the rainbow. I told him that it didn't even look natural. And had I not seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed it.

I think of how many times I have sought out the prize. Something that I thought was going to bring me happiness or an end goal. My eyes fixed on the end goal. Not wanting to deal with the long and winding trail that is required. Wanting to be instantly transported from here... to there. Not wanting to deal with the weary.

I'm on that trek right now. Seeing an end goal. Not wanting to deal with the trudgery. But here is the truth of the matter... it was along the way that I saw the rainbow. The miracle. The true beauty. It was along the way to what I thought would be the prize that I saw God's promise.

And the next time Anthony invites me along for an expedition... I will say yes. And, again, I will encourage him to go on ahead, but this time I will anticipate the trudgery. Knowing that the end goal is the long and winding trail. Keeping my eyes open for God's promises all along the way.

What grows in that underestimated gap between God's calling and others' perceptions, between our true capabilities and our current realities? Most of us struggle if our dreams are delayed one year, let alone twenty! We find God's pauses perplexing. They seem to be a waste of our potential. When those pauses extend beyond what we can comprehend or explain (say, for instance, three days), we often spiral into self-doubt or second guessing.

But in anonymous seasons we must hold tightly to the truth that no doubt strengthened Jesus throughout his hidden years: Father God is neither
care-less nor cause-less with how he spends our lives. When he calls a soul simultaneously to greatness and obscurity, the fruit--if we wait for it--can change the world.
~ Alicia Britt Chole,
Anonymous: Jesus' hidden years... and yours

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Can You hear me anyway?

Then you will call upon me
and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.

You will seek me and find me
when you seek me
with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:12-13

Lord Move, or Move Me by FFH

I can't find the words to pray, I'm a little down today
Can You help me, Can You hold me?
I feel a million miles away, And I don't know what to say
Can You hear me anyway?

What I need is for You to reach out Your hand
You have taught me no matter what You'd understand

Lord move in the way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and a lock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move), or move me.

I've looked every where to find a simple peace of mind
But, I can't find nothing on my own
So I gotta leave myself behind, take up this cross of mine
Give away everything I hold onto

Lord I know the only way is through this
But Lord, I know I need You to help me do this

Lord move in the way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and a lock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move), or move me.

Out of this place of complacency
To a place of fellowship with Thee
'Cause I am weak, but Lord, You are so strong
And You know it's been way too long
It's been way too long

Lord move in the way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and a lock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move)...,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Very Own Purim

We're in the last week of our Esther study. Each day of homework that I complete I am somehow more amazed with the One I call Lord and Savior.

I just completed Day 3 of Week 9, An Annual Remembrance. Beth Moore reminds us that the book of "Esther shows that ordinary events are never coincidental in the lives of God's people." She then encourages us to remember any turnarounds (a time when the Lord delivered you from despair) in our lives... to read Psalm 30:1-3, 11-12... and to personalize it, "O Lord, You brought me up from the grave, you spared me from the depths of depression." (The bold is my personalization.)

Beth then shares that we should remember to praise God for our turnaround. Perhaps begin an annual celebration. How our "victories are meant to be joyfully treasured and greatly celebrated." And I thought... I already do... I already have my very own Purim.

January 15th.

And so in preparation for our table discussion this Tuesday, I thought... I will print out my posts that show my celebration of January 15th to share with the sisters at my table. So, I went to the posts to re-read them...

And here's the thing... it's not enough that I already celebrate my very own Purim. Not so coincidentally... or in other words... providentially, the words of Psalm 30 were already penned upon my heart. Thank you, Jesus.

Below is my original post celebrating January 15th on its second anniversary. Here is a follow-up post the next year. Please let me know if you have a "Purim" that you celebrate. I'll bring the cake and presents!

originally aired on January 15, 2008
In Honor of January 15th
ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Christopher overheard me saying that January 15th is an anniversary of sorts. He asked why I was celebrating January 15th. At first, I told him that an anniversary isn't always something that is celebrated, but actually in this instance... in an odd sort of way... I guess he was right.

Sunday, January 15, 2006
I woke up tired. Light-headed. Dizzy. I fought the feelings and pulled myself together to go to church. All I can remember is sitting down in the pew and having the desire... no, make that the need to lay down.

My mind raced. Where could I lay down at church? Wasn't every room being utilized? Then I remembered the "Mother's Room." Perhaps it would be empty this early in the morning. It was empty, but I felt strange laying on the floor... I mean, what if someone walked in? So, I tried to sit in one of the rocking chairs, but I couldn't hold up my head.

At the end of service... I don't remember if I sat through service or not... I think I stayed in the "Mother's Room"... I persuaded Anthony and Christopher to take me home. I immediately crawled into bed.

And so began my journey into a very deep and cavernous depression.

So, why would I "celebrate" such a day? Psalm 30 captures my thoughts today:
I will exalt You, O LORD,
For You lifted me out of the depths...
I called to You for help and You healed me....
You brought me up from the grave...
You spared me from going down into the pit...
To the Lord I cried for mercy...
You turned my wailing into dancing...
You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy...
That my heart may sing to YOU and not be silent...
O LORD my God, I will give YOU thanks forever.

So many of you were used by God... my heart swells when I think of you... Others of you, well, you just met me... but somehow you knew I was a little different. LOL

After we finish The Friendships of Women... if you're up to it, we'll talk a little more about depression... Don't worry, I know what happens at the end of the story... there is dancing and singing and joy.... and HOPE.