Tuesday, July 31, 2012

God’s Eyes

Hey y’all!  I did it.  I posted every day in July. But I’m going to be done with my every day posting now; it’s an added responsibility, and I want  a break…so it’s back to my “whenever I’m kind of inspired” schedule.  But before I go, I wanted to share something with you that I got in an email from Luke today.  Each week that he has been gone to China, his team has sent updates.  Here is an excerpt from his most recent note:

…Then we went inside the orphanage and waited for the kids. As the kids started walking out, some of them were severely disfigured, some had trouble walking and another boy was mute. Initially these kids repulsed me. I didn’t want to be near them. I asked my Father quickly, but sincerely for help to love these kids. Almost immediately I saw the children in a different light, and they began to smile. I began to have a deep love for these children.

When I read his words, I immediately began to sob.  I’m not sure if it was his honesty about his repulsion, or my realization that I do the same thing, that made me cry.  But I think it was the latter.  And I think the words were powerful to me because I realize that not only do some of the “least of these” repulse me, but I allow myself to stay in that state of repulsion and seeming superiority; I don’t ask God to intervene in my mind because I don’t think I am wrong. 

But I am wrong, so wrong, and when I am actually using the mind of Christ, the renewed mind that He has so graciously given, I can see even the imperfect as beautiful; I can see them as His creations, as His beloved children.

God allowed me to witness Luke’s authenticity about his sin through his email. He used it to show the ugliness that exists in my heart.  And it was that ugliness, I believe, that made my spirit sad. But, I don’t need to stay sad.  God has promised me power, power that frees me from my natural, sinful tendencies—the same power that Luke received immediately when he asked his Faithful Father.  All I have to do is ask. 

I have to ask Him to give me His eyes.

And then I have to remember to use them.

May it be so.

Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

Chorus from “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath

Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Hairday!

As I have said before, when God knit me together in my mother’s womb some 45 years ago, I think He dropped a few stitches and forgot to give me the long, flowing hair that I so desire.  I guess He decided that the fine, thin locks he gave me was good enough because He was going to bless me with gorgeous-haired daughters in the future.  And bless me He did.  Both of my teenage daughters have thick curly hair that I can only dream about.  And because they know I can only dream about it, they decided to let me wear their hair for a birthday photo session.  See what you think of my beatific tresses:


I also grew an extra pair of arms during the session…                        IMG_0798

And, as an added bonus, because it is my birthday, I will show some pictures of Cole with lots of hair.  I think he looks like Tess; what do you think?



Sunday, July 29, 2012


My family just returned from our lake house this morning so that my daughters could get home in time to be counselors for our church’s kids camp this week.  We left on Wednesday of last week so we could get our fill of surf and sun.  Here are some things that happened during our time away which I thought to be strange: 

  • On Wednesday evening, when we arrived, I had to mediate an argument between my 14 year old son and my almost 19 year old daughter; they were fighting over who got to use the Pound Puppy pillowcase (obviously a hot item—found only at the lake house) on their pillow.  Really.
  • On Thursday evening, I heard a great thud in the basement of the lake house and found six foot tall Shay laying on the floor with her legs stuck in the baby exersaucer (we share the house with two other families, some of whom have grandchildren).  I soooo wish I had a picture of this, but I was laughing so hard I forgot to take one.  When I asked her what she was doing, she said she just wanted to see if she fit.  Really. 

         For the curious among you, an exersaucer looks like this:


And for the even more curious, Shay looks like this: (does she look like she would fit?)



  • Then, on Friday, as I was attempting to re-learn how to slalom (since I sprained my ankle last summer and didn’t ski all season), and had just gotten up out of the water, I looked to the shoreline and I saw this:

(Now please be gracious with me.  This is just a rendering of what I saw.  I have no fancy computer programs and I had to draw it on Microsoft Paint.  I realize it is rough, but I looked it up on the web and found no images of what I witnessed.)


If you will notice above, you will see a boy on a 4 wheeler, with two long poles attached, one to either side of the vehicle.  On each of this poles were three dogs attached by leashes.  All six of these dogs were apparently going on a mandatory walk with all of its friends and the whole group was having a mandatory drink session in the lake.  I guess this guy had six dogs and decided to create a multi-dog exercising/watering device.  Really.

I wondered what would happen if one of the dog friends accidently tripped…and I pictured the tripping dog getting drug along with all of its friends even though it wasn’t really running/walking anymore.  It was funny and sad all at the same time.  And I was skiing on one ski the entire time I witnessed this. And I was yelling and pointing the whole thing out to my family. Talented aren’t I? 

  • And if that all wasn’t exciting enough, on Saturday night, when we went out for ice cream at the local Conoco gas station to celebrate my upcoming birthday (we are extravagant), we saw a reindeer.  Really.  I am not joking.  We saw a real live reindeer in Corydon, Iowa.  It was hanging out behind the cemetery that we drove through as we ate our ice cream (and we are exciting).  I’m not sure why Corydon, Iowa is hiding reindeer behind its cemetery, but we saw an entire family and the dad looked like this (this time I actually took a snapshot). 


  • And that about sums it up.  Really.  Bet you can’t top it. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Still a Merciful God

I know some of you have already seen this on Facebook, but I thought it was so excellent, I wanted to share it with those who hadn’t.  It is a blog post by a mother from Colorado who, with her daughters, survived the recent movie theater shooting in Aurora, CO.
I so appreciate her willingness to share and the perspective that God allowed her to gain amidst this tragedy.  Please click on the link below and read her story:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Remembering Rosebud

Now it's Cole's turn to tell his mission trip story. Read on... Earlier this summer I went to an indian reservation in South Dakota, called Rosebud. our main purpose of going there was to get to know a few the kids and develop a good relationship with them, then hopefully tell them about God's love. One of the kids that i got to know was a 5 or 6 year old named Mark. Mark young enough that he still had a pure heart that hadn’t been corrupted by the many temptations that the teenagers had to face, like drugs or alcohol. Even so he still had many troubles with his family life, we were talking one day and he told that his mom didn't live with him. We spent a lot of time together playing and talking, just getting to know each other. We had some good talks about the bible, he really liked the books mark and james because his name was Mark James. I talked to him about how the world was created, the ten commandments, and finally how Jesus loved him so much that he was willing die a horrible death just for the sins in little Marks heart. We ended up one night drawing with sidewalk chalk. I drew the bridge illustration, how man was on one side, a cross representing Jesus in the middle and God was on the other side. I told him the only way to get to God was to walk across the cross and ask Jesus to forgive his sins. Mark then proceeded to get up from where we were sitting, Grabbed a piece of chalk, drew a two foot Cross on the ground and walked across it saying that he wanted to follow God now. So I got up and brought him to the Veterans center, where we were staying for the week, and prayed with him to become a Christian. We spent a lot of time together for the rest of the week, and when I had to leave I started to tear up because we had become really good friends, then he drew me a picture of us to playing together and I had trouble getting in the car and saying goodbye to Mark, a good friend, and a new brother in Christ. Cole Haverkamp

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A View from the Summit

In June, Tess had the opportunity to attend a fantastic worldview conference in Colorado.  And since we have been having a kind of “missions” week for the past few days, I asked her to write about her experience.  Here is what she wrote:

This summer I had the opportunity to attend a leadership, worldview, and apologetics conference with one of my good friends, Bethany. Although the complexity of such an experience can hardly be described through words or even pictures, despite their thousand word reputation, I will try to recreate the fascination, depth, community, and beauty I found during my two weeks at Summit.

Our adventure began as we drove up the winding mountain roads of Manitou Springs, CO, towards Summit’s circa 1880’s hotel. The aged building boasted wooden siding, large windows, and a porch lined with green rocking chairs. Situated at the foot of the mountains, peaks were visible in every direction. As we walked in the doors, we were bombarded by gentlemen wondering if they could carry our luggage up to our room. I was in love immediately.

The next two weeks flew by, with classes every morning and evening, and we were able to hear from leading apologists on every topic imaginable: politics, law, abortion, homosexuality, government, scripture, popular culture, science, sociology, history, worldviews, morality, art, leadership. I had never felt so unprepared to defend what I believe in my life. As Christian, I think that we often take our trust in God to be something simplistic and blind. We don’t know why we believe, only that we do. We know that the gospel is truth, but are unable to defend in the light of unbelief. Yet, we are called to love God with our heart, our souls, and our minds. The beauty of Christ is His intricacy, despite simplicity, and His indescribable complexity discovered through reason. We need to embrace both sides of our faith: trusting and reasoning, because the two do not oppose each other, rather, they work in unison.

My idea of what the Christian faith and worldview are broadened immensely as we studied different topics. I learned how God has established a moral code that is known by all, and therefore there is a “right” and a “wrong” (applying a Christian worldview to law). I learned that the laws of physics are set to such an exact measure, that the chances of them being such that humans are able to survive are akin to throwing a dart and hitting a target the size of one atom in the entire universe (applying a Christian worldview to science). I learned that Christianity is the only worldview that has a solution for the problem of evil (applying a Christian worldview to philosophy). I was able to see the Christian worldview applied to all facets of life and was awed by how God planned out the world in a way that we can discover it.

In between classes, we had time to enjoy the beautiful scenery, play volleyball, eat amazing food (Summit even applies a Christian worldview to food – think about it), and meet people from all over the country and the world. Oh yeah… we also got evacuated due to the forest fires. And although it was difficult and uncomfortable at times, it really was a blessing. We were able to witness the body of Christ come around us as all our needs (and beyond) were provided for by Mountain Springs Church and local businesses. Our whole group grew closer as we slept and lived in close quarters. We were able to keep our class schedule, thanks to an amazing staff. It was, in fact, such a small event in light of the whole two weeks, that I often forget to mention it when I talk to people about my trip. God truly did provide and look after us.

Looking back, Summit has provided me with a foundation on this summer and next year. I’ve committed to reading a book a week for the rest of the summer (so please ask me about it!) to learn why and not just what. It has also given me a desire to have discussions about my faith, whereas before, I would shrink from them. I strive to glorify God with my mind, as well as my heart and my soul, and show the world that I am serious about knowing what I believe. Are you?

Tess Haverkamp

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Happy Luke

Since Luke is still away and can’t yet post about his trip and experiences,  I thought I would share a photo of him.  For the last month of his mission trip, Luke is helping with Bring Me Hope, a camp for orphans in China.  Here he is with a new-found friend.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

From Haiti with LOVE…continued


(This is a continuation of yesterday’s post.)

Secondly, Christians in Haiti worship Jesus with unashamed passion. Going to a Sunday evening church service in Haiti is an experience I will never forget. How is a Haitians’ church service different than an American church service? The real question is how are they the same? For starters when’s the last time you saw Cornerstone’s congregation break out into a Congo line in the middle of worship? I’d have to say it’s been a pretty long time. The Haitians are so full of joy and passion when they worship that they can’t stand still. At the beginning of the service, the congregation began to sway and clap to the simple, VERY repetitive songs. Before I really knew what was going on, every one was jumping up and down saying, “Alleluia!”, “Praise Jesus!” and “Amen!” over and over (or at least those were the words I could understand). The kids latched on to our hands as we twirled them around. This spontaneous dance party lasted over an hour, and by the end I thought I might pass out. Their joy was so contagious I could not stop smiling. As it wound down, everyone stood panting and dripping sweat in the very hot Haitian weather. I soon found out this wasn’t a one-time deal. The Haitians did this every week. In fact, the service was usually longer, but they didn’t want to wear the Americans out. It made me think of Heaven, when one day, all tongues tribes and nations will come and shamelessly worship the king.

I can tell you one thing. If Americans worshiped like Haitians did, we would all be in really good shape.

Lastly, the biggest reason why I loved Haiti so much had little to do with the country itself. It had a lot more to do with me and God. While I was in Haiti, I was there for God. I had no distractions, everything I did was purposeful. I went knowing that my only goal for the next nine days was to bring God glory, I had no other responsibility. There is so much joy and contentment when you follow God’s will and His plan. When my trip was over, I realized (though it seemed easier to do when I was on a mission trip) that I don’t have to stop following God’s plan for my life. I can still make everything in my day purposeful in glorifying God. It just seems a lot harder to do when you’re in real life in your own country. Though I loved Haiti and would love to go back, I can still give God glory in America. There are many here that are just as lost.

God really used Haiti to change my life and I hope he used me to bring joy, hope and life to the people of Haiti as well. I will never forget the contentment in the midst of poverty, the passionate worship in the midst of a dark country, and the joy that comes when you choose to let God use you for His work.

Shay Haverkamp

Monday, July 23, 2012

From Haiti with LOVE


Shay just returned from a life-changing trip to Haiti.  She was so full of joy when she came back that I asked her to write out the things she learned there.  Today and tomorrow, she will share what God did through her, and to her, as she followed Him in Haiti.  You will love her stories.

I just got back from a mission trip to Haiti, and I don’t really have the right words to relay that experience to others who weren’t there. But I’ll try to give you a little picture of the last 9 days of my life. After 3 flights and a long, and relatively sleepless, night at the airport, my team of 17 arrived in Haiti. As soon as we got off the airplane we knew we weren’t in America any more. A group of men with guitars and maracas greeted us as we walked in the very hot Haitian airport. We were the spectacles of Port-au-Prince that day as the native Haitians watched 17 very tired, hot, and confused white people walk in the airport in their matching bright pink t-shirts. We finally made it past immigration and to the van and truck that our gracious hosts had prepared for us . For the next three hours we bumped, honked, and swerved our way past the Haitian countryside. As I sat with my eyes glued to the window (that is, when I wasn’t sleeping), I saw goats, dogs, donkeys, pigs, and chickens roaming the streets and open fields. I saw piles of garbage filling every available ditch. I saw women carrying very impressive amounts of cargo on their heads, children that were naked and underfed, and tents, made from tarps, that these people called their homes. Over the next few days I grew to love this country and these people that seemed so different than my own. When I came home and my mom asked me why I loved this dirt, poor, and very hot country so much, I could answer that question in so many ways: the beautiful children, the majestic scenery, my wonderful team, the fresh mangos, the list goes on and on. But these are my top three:

First off, Haiti is very poor. Some go days without eating or have to be satisfied with one meal a day. I saw one-room houses made of dirt that held families of 7, 8, or 9 people. Children were naked because they had no clothes, little boys begged for water on the streets, and most children that do not get the chance to go to school are forced into child labor…and yet these people are full of joy. They are perfectly satisfied with the smallest gifts. Two stories illustrate my point perfectly:

Every afternoon we hosted a VBS camp for the kids in the community. Our second class each day was a class of older guys; many looked to be my age. Some were younger, and some maybe even a little older. I was concerned that many of the crafts we brought were far too elementary to entertain a class of this demographic. On the third day we were scheduled to decorate picture frames and draw a small picture for the inside. I wasn’t sure what to expect. In America, I would probably either get laughed at or watch as the teens did a half-hearted job so they could get on with their life. But here, I was completely wrong. For the entire half-hour that these boys had art, they carefully and skillfully made the wooden Popsicle sticks into works of art. Many of them wrote names on them, with the intention of giving them to someone else. Even our adult translator sat down to make his own; they were so thankful and satisfied with four wooden sticks.

My second story takes place on our last afternoon in Haiti. Our team had packed up many Ziploc’s full of rice and split into groups. We then went out to bless the community with prayer and a physical gift of rice. After stashing the heavy bags of rice into our backpacks (so as not get mobbed), we wove our way through the streets. On our way, dirty children reached for our hands, every eye turned to the out-of-place white people, and we had to carefully navigate the path so as to not fall in a puddle of mud or trip on a nearby wondering goat. Our translator led us into a yard, and an older frail lady in a blue dress was sitting at a sewing machine. I regret that we never did get her name. After the usual greetings, we told her why we were there and, through our translator, asked if she had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Her face lit up as she told us how she came to know Christ when she was sick and pregnant with her first child. Then she called out and a healthy looking teenager came into view from behind the mud hut. This was the child that she had been pregnant with. We then gave her the gift of a small bag of rice. She smiled wide and repeatedly said thank you! Thank you! God bless you! Her smile was radiant. She had so little, yet such great joy. I will never forget the smile on the nameless woman in the blue dress.

(to be continued tomorrow…)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Obedience=more grace

This has been a week of heavy writing for me and heavy reading for you.  So, today, you just get to contemplate…

“The level of my growth in grace is revealed by the way I look at obedience.”

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest (July 19)

Chew on that for awhile.

Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?

Luke 6:46

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Dad’s America

You are in for a treat!  When my husband heard that I was having a “Soap Box Series”, he asked if he could do a post.  Now if you know Brent, you will realize that this is a very unusual request for him, so I knew he must feel strongly about something.  This post will replace my proposed “America” piece and will end our series.  (I also proposed something about teenagers for this series, but that will have be a topic for another time.)

Brent would like to dedicate this to his mom for her 69th birthday which was on July 16th.

My Dad’s America

My dad was the hardest working man I have ever known. In September of 1960, at the age of 24, he immigrated to America from Holland. He didn’t have much education, couldn’t speak any English. But America had tremendous opportunity and he had tremendous drive.

As a boy, every morning, by the time I woke up, my dad would already be at work. He would wake up at 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. each morning, 6 days a week and would typically work 70+ hour weeks. He did this from before I was born to long after I left home. He was happy to do it. He rarely complained, almost never took a sick day, and taught our family the value of hard work.

My mom and dad loved to tell stories of the “early years” when they lived in a one-room apartment and only had enough money to buy a 5 cent ice-cream cone every few weeks. They scrimped and they saved. Dad eventually saved enough money and started his own business – a small dairy distribution. He worked with his hands and always described himself as a milkman. My parents created a good life for themselves in small town Iowa and they prospered. By the time my dad retired, only a few short years before his death, he had perhaps reached the status of what our government calls “rich”. This is why America is the greatest country on earth. This is why, traditionally, people wait years and strive mightily to immigrate to America: To become Americans! I know this was true for my dad.

Because of America’s opportunities and my Dad’s hard work, I’ve had advantages that my Dad never enjoyed. I speak relatively understandable English (notwithstanding my wife’s corrections). I had the opportunity to attend Iowa State University and receive a degree. When I purchased my first rental house in 1991, I borrowed and received $5,000 from my parents for the down payment to acquire it. I’ve been successful. America, my dad and our economic system have been very good to me. I’ve made investments, I’ve started businesses; some good, some bad. I employee people, I provide services. I believe in America. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given.

I’m not very politically minded. I don’t spend much time thinking about our political system. I mean, I vote, and I support candidates that I believe in; I watch elections on TV, but it doesn’t often capture my attention. That all changed on Monday of this week. You see, on Monday a friend sent me a video of our president talking about small business owners. I watched it and became emotional and angry. I rarely become this way, and almost never about politics. The president spoke one phrase that I couldn’t get out of my head. One of the things he said was, “If you’ve got a business--you didn’t build that.” If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it here:


What particularly struck me as surreal were the people cheering in the background. Don’t they realize what he is saying? Don’t they know what it means? The president was implying that the government was responsible for our business successes, and therefore, we (the rich), should be paying more taxes.

I don’t know if I should be paying more taxes or not, and the government probably plays a part in all of our successes. I’ll leave that debate for another day. But this is what I do know. My dad (not the government) got up at 3:30 in the morning day after day, week after week, year after year. It was hard on him and hard on the family. But he did it because he believed in the American dream. He believed that it would be better for his family and better for his children. He built a life, a family, a business and success. People like my dad are what make this country great. Their simple life, work ethic and values seem to me to be the very essence of America. We should esteem the people that work hard, take risks and build businesses in this country. We should not denigrate the essence of America! And we should not denigrate my dad! Let’s honor success and individual achievement. Let’s give my dad a pat on the back and say, “Job well done. You built something beautiful.”

Brent Haverkamp

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Snare of Compare

Last week, I walked through a furniture store with it’s coordinated pieces and unique arrangements, admiring the creativity and perfection of it all.  Later that same night, I walked into my own living room and was immediately dissatisfied with it’s normality and imperfectly composed harmony.  Why did this happen?

I was perfectly content before I set foot in the store, but when I returned home, I looked at my older furniture and decided it looked drab when compared with the new stylish pieces I had adored earlier.  My dissatisfaction did not come about because I was unsatisfied with my present state;  my dissatisfaction set in when I began to compare my present state to something I saw that I thought was bigger, better, and more impressive.  This whole experience made me think of the dangerous comparison games that many moms are playing today.

I feel sorry for young moms of this generation.  My generation of mothers, and those before me, didn’t have the wide web of influence that these gals have.  We could compare ourselves to our best friend, or feel inept because of reading  Martha Stewart Living, or yearn for simplicity like we saw on the Little House on the Prairie. But today, moms can enter into other people’s homes all over the globe via Pinterest, see the exceptional talent of a few via Etsy, compare the cuteness of their children to those of their 500 “friends” on Facebook, and measure their success in the kitchen to Pioneer Woman Cooks.  Because most moms can’t do, or be, or create these things that they see on their computer screen (and because they assume most moms can) they end up feeling like failures.

“Look at the gala the Smith’s threw for their kid’s 1st birthday!  We just ate cake with the fam and sang a song. And the only gift he got was something I picked up at a garage sale. I must be a bad mom.”

“Wow, that woman can feed her kids all organic foods and make necklaces out of macaroni with them.  My kids survive on PB and J and think macaroni only comes in boxes with cheese powder.  I must be a bad mom.”

“She is a professional blogger, photographer and makes wedding cakes in her spare time. And her kids are always dressed perfectly.  I’m lucky if I can keep my kids alive, let alone dressed.  I can barely make it to nap time. I must be a bad mom.”

“Look at that room—so cute and creative!  My kids share a bunk bed and smear their snot on the wall.  And yesterday, they drew train tracks with Sharpies on their carpet. I must be a bad mom".”

“Everyone else seems to have no problem soaking their grains, growing their own gardens and raising chickens in their backyards.  I feel so stressed out that even the thought of planting flowers makes me panic.  I must be a bad mom.”

It’s no different than my trip to the furniture store.  I couldn’t measure up and it made me crabby and discontented.  But I didn’t know I couldn’t measure up and I was pretty well satisfied with my living room until I saw something else.  Moms, wives, single gals, stop doing it!  Stop playing the comparison game! In the book of Genesis, Eve played the game.  God gave Adam and Eve access to the entire garden of Eden, with the exception of one tree. They were satisfied with this…until Satan showed them the fruit from the tree from which they were forbidden…and they saw how beautiful it was and how delicious it looked.  Then Eve decided that she must have it, because the rest of the garden just wasn’t good enough.  Like me, Eve’s dissatisfaction set in when she began to compare her present state to something she saw that she thought was bigger, better, and more impressive.

So, Moms, I will leave you with two words: Stop it!

If your internet surfing is making you feel less than, get off the computer.

If going to the mall makes you feel like all your clothes are out of style, don’t go to the mall.

If Pottery Barn magazine make you feel poor and uncoordinated, throw it away. 

If your not into little kid birthday parties, take your children to Hickory Park and let them get a free Sundae.  It’s really OK.  The party is really for the moms.  No little kid ever remembers his first birthday.

What I’m saying is, I think the majority of us would be a whole lot happier if we would just be ourselves and do what we enjoy doing and not worry about the rest…or about what people think.  Your kids love you because you are their mom, your husband loves you because you are his wife, your friends love you because you are lovable, not because you can quilt or blog or raise free range chickens.

Think about that and choose to be satisfied.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

2 Corinthians 10:12


Thursday, July 19, 2012

To Live, Die to Self

OK.  I need break.  My brain hurts.  I have, however, been very pleased by your responses to my “Soap Box Series” posts. They have been positive and encouraging and I have received no hate mail so far.  I will continue with the series tomorrow, but for now, I thought I would share something that I used to read over and over when I first became a believer…and really should read every day now.  I think it fits well with yesterday’s post.

To Live, Die to Self

When you’re forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set aside, and you don’t sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ,

that’s dying to self.

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but you take it all in patient silence,

that’s dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any annoyance; when you stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensitivity, and endure as Jesus endured,

that’s dying to self.

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good words, or itch after commendations; when you truly love to be unknown,

that’s dying to self.

When you see your brother prosper and have his needs met and you can honestly rejoice with him and feel no envy, or question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances,

that’s dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly, as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart,

that’s dying to self.

Are you dead yet?  In these last days, may the Spirit bring us to the cross, “That (we) may know him…being made conformable unto his death.”

Philippians 3:10

(from The Railroad Evangelist)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rise up Sturdy Christian Women!

Dear Gentle Reader,

Please tolerate my harsh tone in this post and remember that this is “Soap Box Series” week, where I share my opinions on several subjects.  This piece is meant for me as much as anyone else and this is how I talk to myself when I am being a Proverbs 27:15 wife (you’ll have to look that one up.)                                                                     

Christian women, buck up!  Life is not all about you and your needs and your feminine desires.  Stop expecting your husbands to be perfect.  Stop expecting them to read your mind.  And stop wincing and crying out at the smallest infraction.  You are so much bigger than that! God wants so much more for your life and your marriage.  Mostly, He wants you to stop looking inward, stop keeping a tally of hurts, and start looking upward, accepting and extending His grace. Resist requiring so much maintenance and start being agreeable.  As Christian women, let’s decide to be sturdy, not fragile; let’s use our minds to believe the truth instead of using our feelings which often lie.  If you have chosen to be a Christ follower, you gave up your rights; so whether you want to or not, and whether you feel like it or not, you must be obedient to your Master, God.  And God says to be a peacemaker.  Are you making peace or making war?

If you begin to feel sorry for yourself, hurry up and reach out to someone else before Satan tempts you to throw yourself a pity party.  Remember that “community” we talked about yesterday?  Go, get caught up in that and not in your own tiny little world.  You will be amazed how much better your life will be if you decide to overlook an insult or to remain calm when irritated.

Here’s an excerpt from a post that I wrote several years ago, but think about often…especially when I am not doing it.  Maybe it will help you as it helps me:

“While reading Jane Austin's book Persuasion a few weeks ago, I noticed one statement at the beginning of the story. This statement wasn't particularly important to the ensuing drama, but it convicted me nonetheless. First, I will give you some context, and then I will reveal a lesson learned.

In this classic story, Austin writes about a family composed of Sir Walter Elliot and his three daughters, Elizabeth, Anne and Mary. Lady Elliot, Sir Walter's wife and the girls’ mother, had died several years earlier. We get a glimpse of her character from the following statement written about the respect she bestowed upon her husband:

"She had humoured, or softened, or concealed his failings, and promoted his real respectability for seventeen years; ..."

And here is the lesson learned: I don't do that. But I want to.

Why am I not more like Lady Elliot? Because sometimes my husband bothers me and I want him to know it. Because I am selfish and proud often think myself superior. Because I often care more about myself and my feelings than the feelings of my husband.

What can I do to become more like Lady Elliot? I can laugh at the little, silly idiosyncrasies that makes Brent who he is. I can soften and accept the beautiful, well-meaning, but imperfect, man God gave to me. I can choose not to talk of his mistakes and foibles to others, but instead make him shine in their eyes. I can promote his real respectability--the person that I know he is--and believe in that myself. And I can continue to do that for the rest of the years that God gives us together. God help me.”

And that’s my opinion on the state of unnecessarily needy women within the body of Christ.  

What does God think?  His opinion is pretty clear:

Better to live on the corner of a roof
      than to share a house with a nagging wife.     

Proverbs 25:24

Better to live in a wilderness
        than with a nagging and hot-tempered wife.      

 Proverbs 21:9

Better a meal of vegetables where there is love
                    than a fattened ox with hatred.                        

Proverbs 15:17

A gentle answer turns away anger,
                    but a harsh word stirs up wrath.                      

  Proverbs 15:1

A fool’s displeasure is known at once,
        but whoever ignores an insult is sensible.         

  Proverbs 12:16

Pleasant words are a honeycomb:
        sweet to the taste and health to the body.       

   Proverbs 16:24

And that’s just a few of His Proverbs. He has a lot more to say in the rest of the book…have I convinced you yet? 

Rise up sturdy Christian women!

Make your men proud!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Disconnected Community…(or Why Facebook is so Popular)

I’ll be honest.  I don’t struggle with watching TV.  I almost never watch it; it holds no appeal for me.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t waste time.  Things like email, Facebook, and blogs capture my attention in such a way that, at times, it worries me.  I can literally spend hours (usually not in one sitting—but minutes add up ) checking and answering emails, perusing updates, photos and videos on Facebook, and reading other blogs. I’m afraid to get a smart phone because I know I am weak and I fear I will be constantly distracted by the availability of these mediums.

When I allow myself too much computer time, I feel guilty—like I am being a bad steward of my time; “Tomorrow,” I say, “I will only spend 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening on these frivolous activities”, but then tomorrow comes, and I waste time again.  What is it with me? 

Why do these internet  “connections” draw me in?  Why do I gain satisfaction from these “virtual” conversations?  You know why?  Because I long for community.  So do you.  That is why these social medias are so appealing for many of us—especially those of us who work from home (and have no co-workers) or those stay-at-home moms who feel restricted by their lack of freedom.  Things like Facebook create a sense of belonging and acceptance because communication and approval happen; “Oh!  Somebody liked my status!” “Look how many people commented on my photos"!”  We all need to be noticed.  We all need an “atta-girl!” now and then.  This kind of thing happens on Facebook.  This kind of thing happens on blogs.  But why aren’t we doing more connecting in real life? 

Connecting in real life requires risk.  Connecting in real life takes pre-planning and actual talking.  Connecting in real life requires us to show up, put our real selves out there, and invest in others’ lives. It’s not always pretty, but it’s almost always rewarding.  Connecting builds a strong communities, solid societies, and people bonded by common beliefs.  When people connect in real life, they watch and learn how to raise their kids, how to love their husbands, how to make dinner, and how to be hospitable.  You can’t truly experience these things through Facebook or blogging or surfing the web.  And an emoticon ((hug)) isn’t nearly as satisfying as a real one.  As our society becomes more and more connected to technology and disconnected to people, we lose the sense of “unity” that the “United” States once shared—think about the movies you have seen or books you have read about barn-raisings, 4th of July celebrations, small town festivals, even the well-know Thanksgiving story with the pilgrims and Indians.  Now think about your own life; recall things you have done with a specific group—mission trips, vacations, building projects, even connections groups and Bible studies—we often bond with others during these times because of the experiences we have shared together. 

We all want community.  It’s how God intended His church to be—He even chose a community of people—the Israelites—to be His chosen ones. And who doesn’t long for the kind of fellowship the New Testament believers had in Acts 2:42-47 (see below). When we connect like these believers did, we show the world God’s love in 3D. 

In the olden days, people created relationships by spending time together, sharing meals together, doing life together. Let’s stop being lazy and dependent on Facebook for our social fix, and let’s get out there, meet our neighbors and share life.  We will all be the better for it.

Now get off the computer, make a plan, and do something to promote community in your family’s life this week!

Then keep doing it.

Leave a comment to let me know what you did!

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs and wonders were done by the apostles.  All of the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to everyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Mother’s Mission

I remember one particularly hard day, as a mom of four kids 6 and under, telling God, “This isn’t what I signed up for.”  My days were filled with spit up, dirty diapers, fighting kids, and crying (sometimes I was the one doing this).  It seemed like someone was always sick, someone was always screaming, someone was always hungry, and someone was always getting into the fridge and taking bites out of the apples.  I didn’t feel I could keep up.  Of course, there were the sweet moments too, when all four of them were sleeping soundly in their beds (I exaggerate here. We had other sweet moments when they were all awake, but for the sake of building a great story, hyperbole is necessary), but my day-to-day life was one of routine and drudgery.  I was worn out and felt useless in the kingdom of God. 

So one afternoon, as I was hanging out laundry on my clothesline—all by myself—I cried out to God and told Him I wanted to do big things for Him but didn’t feel capable; my family and my mothering tasks were exhausting me.  (You can read that story here (and also learn why I named my blog what I did).  God stopped me mid-sentence, and I heard Him speak clearly to my spirit, “Tori, you are doing exactly what I want you to be doing right now.”  What was I doing?  Something I did several times a week:  I was doing laundry—menial, boring, un-important, laundry.  But God was pleased.  He was pleased because He had chosen to make me a mother, and in doing laundry, I was taking care of my family—the very thing that I was supposed to be doing at that very time in my life.  Laundry, in essence, then, was the most spiritual thing I could be doing.  This understanding freed me to serve my family in a way that I had never done before, because I understood that I was doing big things for God by completing the tasks set before me.  I was building God’s kingdom by striving to be the best mom and wife—and servant—that I could be.

Christian moms, your main ministry focus is to be your kids when you still have them at home.  It’s OK to say no to more “lofty” sounding ambitions like teaching, training, or volunteering within in the body during this season (though for your mental health, you need to keep attending things like Bible study and women’s events, but you don’t have to feel obligated to lead).  Don’t feel you are not serving God because you aren’t  “visibly” building the Kingdom during this busy time.  When you make your kids and your husband your main mission now, the security and peace and routines you create will accomplish much for the future.  You are working on building a godly legacy during this short time; concentrate on it, take joy in it, do it well!  If you are one of those amazing people who can do lots but still be focused primarily on your kids, then go for it, but don’t overdo.  You will have many more kid-free years ahead to be used in that way.  The time that your little ones have to soak in the wisdom that you teach them is so short, but so important; revel in the task…and leave the ladder-climbing, resume-building, and the fast-track for later.

See, as a mom, you are doing ministry—right now, right in your home, when you wipe that nose and change that diaper and teach your children to clean up their messes.  And even if it doesn’t feel like it most days, you are serving the Kingdom in a mighty way.  Don’t let the world tell you that what you are doing is trivial. Raising up generations to love and serve the One Living God is never trivial in the sight of our Father.

Now go do the next thing; wash the dishes, spank the toddler, clean the marker off the carpet, read the same book again, curl up and watch a movie with your kids—your ministry is happening NOW.  And God is very pleased.

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Deuteronomy 4:9

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Soap Box Series

I have decided that this next week will be my Soap Box Series.  Sometimes (not always) I am hesitant to speak strongly of my opinions on certain things for fear of offending some.  But this week (and maybe into next, since some may be two part posts), I will put all pussyfooting aside and tell you exactly what I think on certain subjects.  Here’s a sneak peak at our controversial topics:

  • A Mother’s Mission: how should young moms build God’s Kingdom?
  • Disconnected Community:  Why we desire it and how we are achieving it.
  • Sturdy Christian Women; Why be high maintenance?
  • The Snare of Compare:  Why we think we are inept.
  • Speaking of Teenagers:  Teaching your child to drive their new body and mind.
  • We Lose what We don’t Value:  Why Patriotism and Morality are declining in America.

Whoa, now that I look at that list, I am thinkin’ I am mighty ambitious.  But, we will see how I do.  If I get overwhelmed, I may have to intersperse some nonsense pieces in with the rest just to give my mind some necessary play time.  Adios!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cornfield Conversation

As I was running among the cornfields behind my house this morning, I was bumming because so many things are changing in my life.  To some, these changes would seem minor, but to someone as change-adverse as myself, they loom large.  Here they are:

  • My oldest son is in China and I haven’t seem him since May 18.  And he will only be home for a week before he leaves for college again.
  • My oldest daughter leaves for college in a month and works most evenings now.  In fact, we already took out a leaf in the table because we have only 4 most nights.
  • My younger daughter nannies 3 days a week all day, and as we speak, is in Haiti, for 10 days.  I have to schedule dates with her because of her busy life.
  • My youngest son also works three days a week, but will have to alter his schedule soon because he starts freshman football two-a-days in a matter of weeks.
  • My summers feel different now because I don’t have anyone playing in the sprinklers and tracking water through my house. And I’m not quite sure how to do “summery” things like go to the library and the pool and the park for picnics and to garage sales all by myself.  In fact, my whole life feels different because I’ve operated as a mom for so long that I don’t know how to do otherwise and I know I have complained about these things a lot but I’m feeling my way in entirely new territory here and talking about it helps me.  Thank you for your patience.

But before I got super bummed and started crying among the stalks, God reminded me that lots of things in my life are staying the same and that I should rejoice in that.  So I thought of them.  And I did.  Rejoice that is.  And by the time I got back from my run, I was feeling very blessed and a little more stable.  Running has a way of doing that for me. These are the unchangeables in my life:

  • Brent isn’t leaving.  He’s sticking with me for better or worse.
  • My home isn’t changing.  I told Brent I wasn’t moving ever again (God willing) when we moved in here in 1997.
  • My neighborhood is staying mostly the same.  We all been here together for almost 14 years. I have the best neighbors in the world.
  • My pets aren’t planning to leave anytime soon, as far as I know, and I can rock a cat or take my dog on a walk on our special path every night if I want to.
  • My parents and my sisters will continue to love me and support me even when I complain about my kids growing up.
  • My faithful friends will continue to be faithful.
  • The beautiful sunrises I marvel at every morning will keep on being beautiful.
  • The gorgeous sunsets I see every night will not stop.
  • God will keep on hearing my prayers every day and answering them perfectly.
  • He will continue to protect me and keep me in the palm of His hand (“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”  John 10:28)
  • I can keep writing in this blog.
  • And I can still drink green smoothies every morning.

How’s that for blessings?!  See, I still have lots of stable things to lean on…and I need to remember them and thank God for them when I start to feel all wobbly and off balance.  But mostly, I need to seek the One who never changes and hide myself in Him.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

Friday, July 13, 2012

Road grace

The only thing worse than teaching your teenager to drive is driving with your teenager sitting shotgun while he is taking driver’s ed.  I had no less than 10 infractions as I was driving my child home today.  Cole made me well aware of my rolling stops, my illegal lane changes, my yellow light speed-throughs, and my miles per hour (2 miles over the limit).  He instructed me on driving in the rain and on staying in the center of my lane.  He told me how far ahead to turn on my blinker in town as opposed to in the country.  He suggested that I was following too close.  I suggested he was talking too much and told him to be quiet.  I, of course, did this very sweetly.

Isn’t that how we are in life?  We cruise through our days on autopilot, not really giving much thought to what we are doing, then when someone—even God sometimes--corrects us, we get irritated and tell them to shut up (I did not say this to Cole, I was much more gracious than that) and leave us alone.  But in our heart of hearts, we know that they are right. In fact, if we did things the way they are supposed to be done, everyone would probably be healthier and happier…and safer. 

God gives us rules because He loves us.  He gives us guidelines to keep us safe.  He is not sitting shotgun in our lives, yelling out infractions just to irritate us.   He is living within us, if we are Christ-followers, urging us to follow His way because He loves us. He knows if we will go along with His plans, our lives will be abundant.

We should ask God to show us our sin so we confess and be right with Him.  We should be aware of the people He puts in our lives that speak truth.  We should act when we are convicted in a specific area of our lives.  If we do all these things, maybe we will be able to hear God better when he speaks.  And maybe, rather than correcting us, He will be saying, “Well, done, my good and faithful servant.”

And maybe I should sit shotgun from now on.

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 25:23

Thursday, July 12, 2012

So God

From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth."

Psalm 50:2


I love this verse. When I read it today, it stopped me in my tracks. It created the same kind of awe in me that I experience when I see a deer leaping gracefully in the field while I am running with the rising sun. It created the kind of thankfulness in me that overflows every time I see His promised rainbow in the sky. It created the kind of longing in me that aches every time I read about my treasure in Heaven.

God is PERFECT. God is BEAUTIFUL. God shines forth, perfect in beauty...because He is God. And because He can. I love that.

So powerful. So striking. So right. So good. So GOD.

"I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me."

Isaiah 46:9

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Word from Oswald

I read this this morning in My Utmost for His Highest

“A saint is not to take the initiative toward self-realization, but toward knowing Jesus Christ. A spiritually vigorous saint never believes that his circumstances simply happen at random, nor does he ever think of his life as being divided into the secular and the sacred. He sees every situation in which he finds himself as the means of obtaining a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he has an attitude of unrestrained abandon and total surrender about him.”

Every situation as the means of obtaining a greater knowledge of Jesus;

Every one.


I definitely need Jesus to do that.

How ‘bout you?


I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:10-11

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Still thinkin’ bout feeding Jesus…

Shay’s going to Haiti on a mission trip on Thursday, and when I went to the website to check out her accommodations, I was greeted by this quote from George Bernard Shaw:

 The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.”

Think God’s trying to get my attention?  Yep.  So glad He opened my eyes to see Him.


What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

James 2:14-17

Monday, July 9, 2012

feeding Jesus

I was doing errands with the kids the other day around lunchtime, so I bribed Cole with a B-Bops hamburger if he would just hang with me for one more errand.  He acquiesced, we finished our mission, and we started on our way to the drive through.  As we sat at a red light, we saw two dirty men, with a guitar and a dog, holding a sign that said “hungry and broke”.  And, very uncharacteristically, I had the thought, “I want to buy them lunch”.  Now if you know me well, you will realize that I sometimes lack mercy and say things like “Get a job!” to people like that (they can’t hear me with my windows up), forgetting that they are actually “people"…people who God created…people who God loves.  I set myself above them because I am not dirty and tattered and poor.  I play the superior game…when we all know it is for no other reason than God’s grace that I am where I am—clean, comfortable, and secure.  I do these things because I don’t see others the way that God sees others--as His beloved children.  But lately, I have been hanging out with my friend Sarah, and Sarah loves people—all kinds of people.  And she gives them dignity by just noticing them—whether they are cleaning bathrooms or hotel rooms or serving food or driving taxis.  She reflects Jesus by her love for these folks.  Now she doesn’t do anything specific to make these folks feel special, she just engages them in conversation and cares about their lives—just like Jesus would—and did.  So anyway, I think a little of Sarah is rubbing off on me, cause when I saw those down-and-out guys, I felt love for them and I wanted to bring them joy, or at least a hamburger. 

So with excitement that my kids thought was weird, I drove through B-Bops and got each of the strangers a double burger with everything (along with some burgers for us as well) and a glass of water.  I then drove back to the corner where they were camped, parked my car in the adjacent lot, and presented them with some lunch.  They were surprised.  And I was thrilled.  One of them said, “You’re the first person that has responded to us in any way” and I was soooo glad I had been hanging out with Sarah and I was soooo glad God had given me the opportunity to feed them.  God had enabled me to take the plank out of my eye so I could see the suffering—and the hunger—and the realness--of others. I had not let Him do this before and  had missed out on the joy I was now experiencing.

As the guy with the guitar eagerly dug into his burger, the other man thanked us profusely.  When we left, I told them that we were Christians, and that in the Bible it said that if we fed someone who was hungry, we were really feeding Jesus. 

Jesus was dirty that day.  and he had dreadlocks.  and a mangy dog.  and a beat up guitar. 

And I got to feed Him.

What a privilege!

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:35-40


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Who I am to YOU

The other day, I was meeting with a gal who wanted to talk.  And as she asked me some questions about marriage and life and God, I suddenly felt inept to answer. It was if Satan had taken ahold of my words and whispered, “Who do you think you are?”  and “You don’t really know what you’re talking about.”  I tried to capture those thoughts and make them obedient to Christ, being fully aware they were from Satan to make me ineffective, but the whole time I was talking, I felt wobbly and unfocused and a little insecure.  In my mind I knew that I knew the Truth.  In my mind I knew God was on my side.  In my mind I knew that my wisdom came from God alone and not from me.  But in my heart, I started to doubt myself, and my abilities, and my advice.  This same fear—that I am inadequate—has continued to plaque me this week, and I know that is exactly what Satan purposed it to do.  I have been repeating scripture about Christ’s grace being sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9) and about the LORD giving wisdom (Proverbs 2:6), but I have this little voice in the back of my mind saying, “He was right you know.  Who do you think you are?”  And then I remembered this video that I had seen a few months ago…and it was so good….and so powerful…and so what I needed to hear and see.

It reminded me of who I am to Him.  I am beloved. 

And because of this fact, I am of great worth to God.

Check it out:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Paradoxical Commandments

I didn’t actually write the post today, but it is something I have had taped to my kitchen cupboard for the last dozen years or so, and every time I read it, I say, “AMEN!”  Now it’s your turn to shout  “AMEN!”

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.

Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.

Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.

Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.

Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.


© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

Friday, July 6, 2012

I want that

When I was running this morning, I passed an elderly couple walking hand in hand, and I thought, as I passed them, “I want that.”

How do we get that--lifelong, loving commitment? This is the question I pondered for the remainder of my run. Here are the conclusions I came to:

For lifelong commitment you must do these things:

Choose to love when you feel slighted

Choose to forgive when you feel you can’t

Choose to embrace when you feel like separating

Choose to pray when you feel like sulking

Choose to build up when you want to slander

Choose to think with a renewed mind when your emotions tell you lies.

It’s all about the choices we make. We can live self-centered lives that encourage individualism, defensiveness and pride, or we can live Christ-centered lives--denying ourselves, promoting our spouses, and reflecting God clearly.

I want what that elderly couple had. I want to make the hard choices that lifelong commitment requires. I want my husband to be my best friend. And I want someone, somewhere, sometime to notice Brent and I walking hand in hand and say, “I want that.”.

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
it’s jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like a blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.”

Song of Songs 8:6-7

(originally posted April 10, 2010)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A (dead) fish tale

A little story for you:

Yesterday, we spent time at the lake enjoying the surf and the sun while celebrating the 4th.  We also took Neo.  Neo found a dead fish floating in the water and decided that it would make a good snack even though it was bloated and white and stinky.  Because I was busy enjoying my book in my beach chair, I told Shay, who was obviously not as busy as I, to remove the stinky, dead fish from the beach so that her dog would not die from eating it.  Shay went to look for a shovel to complete this task (isn’t she obedient?!) and not finding one, came back with a kitchen broom with a dust pan attached.  She attempted to use the attached dust pan as a shovel (while it was still attached).  Needless to say to those of us who have already assumed it, this didn’t work, and the dustpan snapped right off and the fish fell to the ground, losing one of it’s eyes.  While this fiasco was occurring, I was helpfully yelling at Shay to just pick up the smelly thing with the dustpan and dispose of it and she was gagging from the putridity. Finally, she succeeded at getting the disgustingness on to the dustpan and she took it about 100 yards away and threw it into the long grass, thinking she had “disposed” of it.  Obviously Shay had forgotten about our dog’s exceptional olfactory abilities, or she would have thrown the fish into the garbage dumpster where Neo couldn’t procure it.  But, because she didn’t think about this factor, Neo continued to smell around for his treat, and eventually ended up finding it just as I had almost fallen asleep on my floatie in the lake…and Shay was off tubing; how inconsiderate of him…and her. Anyway, after scolding my dog from my floating nirvana, I eventually decided to be the adult and get rid of the fish for good.  I made sure Neo knew that I was not happy about this unfortunate occurrence.  As I got out of the water and gagged at the very sight and smell of the fish, I decided that the dustpan was just not going to work, so I got a beach pail and kind of used the broom to sweep the fish into it, and then I carried it at arm’s length to the dumpster which was very far away, and which stunk even worse than the fish, and which is on gravel which hurt my bare feet, and I dumped it into the garbage where my dog could no longer find it.  And I felt very proud of myself for taking care of the very inconvenient, and very gross, and very stinky problem.

And I was very grown up.

And my dog didn’t die.

And I never want to do that again.

End of story.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday America!


"When we view the blessings with which our country has been favored, those which we now enjoy, and the means which we possess of handing them down unimpaired to our latest posterity, our attention is irresistibly drawn to the source from whence they flow. Let us then, unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author of All Good."

    James Monroe
  5th U.S. President

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 

John 8:36

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Assistance from Assisi

I read this well-known, well-loved prayer today and it took on new life.  I especially love the last three lines about giving, pardoning, and dying. I think if I would consciously choose to do just those three things every day, Jesus’ reflection would be clearly seen in my life…and I would truly be an instrument of His peace. 

Lord, that I may give up my hurts and my rights and my feelings so that I might truly hide myself in You.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Monday, July 2, 2012


When Luke was just a little guy and we had just moved into the house in which we now live, we had Kim Harms’ brother, Keith, paint an ocean mural on Luke’s new bedroom wall.  He did a fantastic job making it realistic—even including a sunken ship for good measure.  He also painted fish—lots of them—swimming around in the depths. Some of these fish were so detailed and colorful that you had the sensation of snorkeling while drifting off to sleep.  I know this since I fell asleep many a night there, while trying to get Luke to sleep. All parents can relate to this.

While Luke was not a boy of great emotion, he did seem pleased when Keith was finished, and told everyone of his ocean-themed room.  Soon , though, probably within a week, Luke started having trouble going to sleep at night (obviously,I had no trouble) and we were puzzled.  First, we thought it might be the transition to the new house.  Then we thought that he was worried about his soon-to-be-born baby brother.  But finally, one night, as I was talking to him at bedtime, he blurted out, “I don’t like that yellow fish”.  As I looked from his vantage point, the yellow fish, which had seemed innocuous to me, did seem to have its beady little eyes trained on the red bunk bed.  Luke didn’t like this fish watching him when he was sleeping…or when he was lying awake in bed.  He wished the fish would swim away and leave him alone.  But, because of the nature of flat, painted fish, we knew this wasn’t going to happen.  And we also knew that Luke would have no peace until this problem was solved.  And so we came up with the paper system.  It’s simple, really.  I took a piece of white printer paper, attached a piece of tape, and conveniently covered up the fish.  Luke wanted the fish covered at all times so he knew he was not being watched.  Although this white paper looked a little out of place in the ocean, we soon had our peaceful sleeping boy back. 

After a lengthy time of fish-covering, I decided to remove the yellowed paper and see what happened.  And Luke was OK with it…or at least he never spoke of it again.  Maybe he was too busy being scared of Ursula from The Little Mermaid by this time (he had a few ocean phobias as a boy—probably because he slept in an ocean).

Isn’t it kind of like that with us even now?  Sometimes, we walk around in our lives living only for ourselves, and our families, and our stuff.  And then we have the sudden remembrance that “God is watching”.  And we feel the need to clean up our thoughts or our actions or give something to the poor. But sometimes, this sudden remembrance is an intrusion to our comfy worlds and we resent it—the fact that He is always watching—and we try to cover the reality of his omnipresence with silly things like television or sports or social activities.   We try to ignore the fact that He is watching us by pretending it really isn’t true—no one really saw me do that…or think that…or judge that.  But guess what folks?  He is watching you and you will give an account to Him one day.  Trying to ignore His voice in your life is like putting paper over a painted fish. 

So, listen up, straighten up, make the most of your days and the most of the opportunities He gives. 

Sometimes His voice “thunders like mighty ocean waves” (Rev 1:15).

He wants to make much of you.

Give Him something to beam about. 


The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

Proverbs 15:3

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dogs and Angels

I have decided to try and post every day in July.  Sometimes I do these sort of things to discipline myself when I think I am getting lazy.  And I think now is one of those times.  I’ve done this once before and succeeded in posting for 50 days straight.  So here I go again, hopefully for 31. 

The other night as I was taking my dog on his semi-regular nightly walk, he stopped on the path and stood still.  He didn’t seem to be smelling out some tasty critter or to be looking ahead as if he had seen a deer.  He just stopped; immovable.  Now, if you’ve ever walked a 136 pound dog who loves to sniff, and pull, and GO, you know that this is unusual.  And since I had recently been reading about Balaam and his talking donkey in the Bible (Numbers 22:21-35), I immediately assumed my dog was probably seeing an angel.  When Balaam’s donkey saw an angel (three times), he either stopped in his tracks or cowered in fear and Balaam (not knowing about the angel) beat the poor beast (three times).  And after the last beating, the donkey talked to Balaam, asking him why he was doing the beating.  Balaam casually answers—did he not think it weird that his donkey spoke?—that the donkey made him look like a fool, with all of it’s stopping and starting.  It was then that God opened Balaam’s eyes and he was able to see the angel in his path.

Now here is where my story differs:

1)  Neo only stopped once.  And he soon started walking again.

2) I did not beat my canine, nor was I tempted to since no one was watching and since I did not feel foolish.  And because I am not an animal beater.

3) Neo never spoke with me, and if he had, I would have been surprised.  very surprised.

4) Either I was wrong and Neo did not see an angel, and he was merely taking an uncharacteristic rest break, or…

5) maybe God did not want me to know that there was an angel in the path and so he only revealed it to my dog.  because maybe I would have been more freaked out about seeing an angel than having my dog talk to me.

So, what’s the take-away lesson in this story?  I’m not really sure, but it makes me think that God is probably constantly at work around me and it’s only when I am really in tune with Him that I can see this “working” happening. And maybe sometimes, He can’t reveal things to me yet because I am not ready to receive them with faith. Most of the time, though, I think I blithely walk through my day distracted by the “squirrels” and “deer” that catch my eye.  And, even though I am kind of kidding about my dog seeing an angelic being, I wonder if I would see more if I remembered to “look”, instead of being so caught up inside my own head.  This week, I am going to try to have my eyes open wide to see where God is working. Then, maybe, I will try to join Him in His work. 

And I hope He doesn’t have to make Neo talk so that I will listen.