A Story to Embody: Sunday, October 28

I have nothing personal to add to this week's readings except to say that, Psalm 103 is one of my favorite Psalms. If you want some of my personal reflections on this particular Psalm you can click here: Psalm 103 Symposium:

Ps. 103:13-22
God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.
19-22 God has set his throne in heaven;
he rules over us all. He’s the King!
So bless God, you angels,
ready and able to fly at his bidding,
quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless God, all you armies of angels,
alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—
everything and everyone made by God.
And you, O my soul, bless God!

Acts 28:23-31
They agreed on a time. When the day arrived, they came back to his home with a number of their friends. Paul talked to them all day, from morning to evening, explaining everything involved in the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them all about Jesus by pointing out what Moses and the prophets had written about him.

24-27 Some of them were persuaded by what he said, but others refused to believe a word of it. When the unbelievers got cantankerous and started bickering with each other, Paul interrupted: “I have just one more thing to say to you. The Holy Spirit sure knew what he was talking about when he addressed our ancestors through Isaiah the prophet:

Go to this people and tell them this:
“You’re going to listen with your ears,
but you won’t hear a word;
You’re going to stare with your eyes,
but you won’t see a thing.
These people are blockheads!
They stick their fingers in their ears
so they won’t have to listen;
They screw their eyes shut
so they won’t have to look,
so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face
and let me heal them.”

28 “You’ve had your chance. The non-Jewish outsiders are next on the list. And believe me, they’re going to receive it with open arms!”

30-31 Paul lived for two years in his rented house. He welcomed everyone who came to visit. He urgently presented all matters of the kingdom of God. He explained everything about Jesus Christ. His door was always open.

Hebrews 7:23-28
Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced. But Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. He’s there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them.

26-28 So now we have a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself. Unlike the other high priests, he doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for his own sins every day before he can get around to us and our sins. He’s done it, once and for all: offered up himself as the sacrifice. The law appoints as high priests men who are never able to get the job done right. But this intervening command of God, which came later, appoints the Son, who is absolutely, eternally perfect.

Mark 1:9-20
At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”

12-13 At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.

14-15 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”

16-18 Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.

19-20 A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed.

In Christ,

Lessons from my children Part 5: Traveling the way of love

A couple years ago, I did a series on Lessons from my children.  The series covered things I was learning while working through issues with my children. My kids are entering a new stage and as a result we are trying to work through some new kinks.  So I thought I would add onto the series and share our latest lesson.

I've shared before that my children have opposite personalities - every day that passes accentuates it more and more.  As my son, James the oldest, is getting older he is starting to get very frustrated with his sister.  My son is a straight-forward, no-nonsense kind of guy.  He knows how to laugh but he can also be very serious.  His sister Mercea, on the other hand, is a huge practical joker.  She loves to be silly, all the time, and she is the more aggressive personality, therefore she enjoys pushing his buttons.  So what has been coming out of his mouth alot is an exasperated voice stating, "My sister is so annoying!" "Why does she ALWAYS have to be like that!"

The other day, these words came out again so I thought it was time to deal with it.  When I feel like there is an issue I need to work through with my kids I send them to the bottom of the stairs.  They have to sit there quietly and wait until I'm ready:)!

On this particular day, the Holy Spirit reminded me that just two days before we had read Ephesians 4 together as a family and here was an opportunity for me to pull that out and show them how God's Word interacts with their everyday life:

Ephesains 4:1-7, 15, 24-29
In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

4-6 You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

7 But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.

We stopped here and talked about how we are each different - God has given James one personality and Mercea another personality.  But through our family, God is teaching us how to learn to love, cooperate and get along with others.  I stated how God is preparing both of them for marriage someday. They would someday marry someone who most likely will have a different personality. In fact, James might marry someone who had some of the same traits as his sister. God is giving them the time to learn how to love, how to compromise, how to be kind even when they didn't want to be kind. Do they want Mom and Dad to act like them whenever differences come up? We can have very different personalites but the way of love is learning to appreciate those differences, listen to those differences and learn how to walk together.

We talked about how these verses acknowledge that people do have differences but we need to work these differences out quickly.  What they do share in common is love for God and the fact that He is Our Father and we are His children.  So yes, we do look different and that is okay!  How then, does God want us to live?

God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

Take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

25 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.

26-27 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

I love the practicality of Scripture.  I love that God doesn't leave us with, "Just don't do this, because it is wrong!" and therefore we get left with a weight that we can't carry.  But rather, He shows us a better way and invites us into it.  We see Christ, we know Christ and we learn that, yes, we have differences but there is a way to journey, with those differences intact, that leads to life.

As I walked away, I was overwhelmed with graditude to God for giving us a way to walk in as we manauver through this season of differences.  Also, for challenging me in my adult life to take these words to heart and let it effect how I deal with the people in my life that are different from me!  What a beautiful challenge to leave with - let each word be a gift! 

And this is where I like to rewind - this whole section started out with the words, "In light of all this..."

In light of what?
Ephesians 3:19-21
The extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

The extravagant dimensions of Christ' love is what makes this possible.  God can do anything... even teach us how to love our brother and sister and walk with them in grace and love.  How? By following his Spirit.

In Christ,

Path of peace

Psalm 8:8 states,

8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

This Psalm inspired Matthew Maury to investigate the Atlantic Ocean and to begin charting the paths of the seas (for more information on the story start here).  The inspiration this story gives to me is that a man took Scripture literally and sought to bring its truth into the reality of his everyday life.

As I was thinking on this today, I was reminded of a prayer that is included every morning in Daily Prayer, Luke 1:68-79.  Verses 76- 79 states,

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.

There is a path of peace for our feet to walk in!  I truly believe that this path is available for us to experience in the reality of our everyday life.  But, you might argue with me that this is not possible and one of your arguments is based on the fact that you've not experienced it in the reality of your everyday life.  I understand, because I myself have thought this.  But one of the things I've come to realize is that I didn't know it was truly available, other than in "theory."  As a result, I didn't look for it.  However, reading these verses everyday for 4 months, woke me up to start asking, believing, looking for and expecting to find it.

Think of Matthew Maury looking at the vast ocean and going into looking for specific paths!  It seems crazy.  While, he wasn't the first to discover these paths, nor the last we do know that there were many who sailed these oceans without the knowledge, nor the understanding and as a result it was harder, longer and more dangerous for them.  The same is true for us.  Life is like a huge ocean.  There are many people sailing on it.  Some have discovered this path of Peace and others are still pressing forward frustrated, discouraged and lost...

My encouragement to you this day is to know that He has a path of Peace for you to walk in...

In Christ,

Photo courtesy Melanie Guest Photography

A Story to Embody: October 21, 2012

I love this story that we are called to embody.  The Scriptures for this week, once again thread together to create a beautiful story.  We begin in Isaiah, 300 years before Christ was born and we are given a prophetic picture of what Christ ended up doing for us on the cross.  After that, we get to Ephesians which paints a picture of marriage for us - based upon Christ.  So often these Scriptures have been viewed as a "threat" to women, interpreted in fear that these verses are asking women to be doormats.  But when you view these Scriptures in light of the story God is weaving - it couldn't be any further from the truth.  How often have we've handicapped ourselves because we've not looked at the entire picture?  Finally, when you get to Mark you will see that if we have any authority, we are once again asked to walk out this story in light of Christ.  What that looks like was clearly spelled out in Isaiah...

Isaiah 53:4-12
But he took our suffering on him
and felt our pain for us.
We saw his suffering
and thought God was punishing him.
5 But he was wounded for the wrong we did;
he was crushed for the evil we did.
The punishment, which made us well, was given to him,
and we are healed because of his wounds.
6 We all have wandered away like sheep;
each of us has gone his own way.
But the Lord has put on him the punishment
for all the evil we have done.

7 He was beaten down and punished,
but he didn't say a word.
He was like a lamb being led to be killed.
He was quiet, as a sheep is quiet while its wool is being cut;
he never opened his mouth.
8 Men took him away roughly and unfairly.
He died without children to continue his family.
He was put to death;
he was punished for the sins of my people.
9 He was buried with wicked men,
and he died with the rich.
He had done nothing wrong,
and he had never lied.

10 But it was the Lord who decided
to crush him and make him suffer.
The Lord made his life a penalty offering,
but he will still see his descendants and live a long life.
He will complete the things the Lord wants him to do.
11 "After his soul suffers many things,
he will see life and be satisfied.
My good servant will make many people right with God;
he will carry away their sins.
12 For this reason I will make him a great man among people,
and he will share in all things with those who are strong.
He willingly gave his life
and was treated like a criminal.
But he carried away the sins of many people
and asked forgiveness for those who sinned."

Psalm 104:1-9,24, 35c
My whole being, praise the Lord.
Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with glory and majesty;
2 you wear light like a robe.
You stretch out the skies like a tent.
3 You build your room above the clouds.
You make the clouds your chariot,
and you ride on the wings of the wind.
4 You make the winds your messengers,
and flames of fire are your servants.

5 You built the earth on its foundations
so it can never be moved.
6 You covered the earth with oceans;
the water was above the mountains.
7 But at your command, the water rushed away.
When you thundered your orders, it hurried away.
8 The mountains rose; the valleys sank.
The water went to the places you made for it.
9 You set borders for the seas that they cannot cross,
so water will never cover the earth again.
Lord, you have made many things;
with your wisdom you made them all.
The earth is full of your riches.
Let sinners be destroyed from the earth,
and let the wicked live no longer.
My whole being, praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

Ephesians 5:21-31
Yield to obey each other as you would to Christ.

22 Wives, yield to your husbands, as you do to the Lord,23 because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. And he is the Savior of the body, which is the church.24 As the church yields to Christ, so you wives should yield to your husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it to make it belong to God. Christ used the word to make the church clean by washing it with water.27 He died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault, with no evil or sin or any other wrong thing in it.28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. The man who loves his wife loves himself.29 No one ever hates his own body, but feeds and takes care of it. And that is what Christ does for the church,30 because we are parts of his body.31 The Scripture says, "So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one body."

Mark 10:42-45
Jesus called them together and said, "The other nations have rulers. You know that those rulers love to show their power over the people, and their important leaders love to use all their authority. 43 But it should not be that way among you. Whoever wants to become great among you must serve the rest of you like a servant.44 Whoever wants to become the first among you must serve all of you like a slave. 45 In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people."

Praying your excited to walk out your part in the story.

In Christ,

Prayers for you

I don't write as often as I would like.  One of the reasons is probably because I handicap myself with the desire to always want to write something that is meaningful, impactful, worth your time and something that will be a blessing to your soul...

So as I thought about what I wanted to write today, I thought about all the people who I know take time to read this blog and I was blown away by the various situations people are in:
  • young adults
  • older adults
  • expecting moms
  • mothers of young ones
  • mothers of many
  • homeschooling moms
  • public school moms
  • empty-nesters
  • people waiting to find out the conditions of their health
  • people tired, exhausted in their faith
  • people confident of who God is and where He is in their lives
  •  a few men:)!
  • College students
  • People at the end of their rope, treading for survival
  • people in strong marriages
  • individuals struggling to love their spouse
As I thought through this list, I was once again amazed at the power of Scripture.  No matter who you are in this list or where you are in this list

God sees, God knows, God cares

and He desires to minister to you heart.

So as I read through my daily prayers this week, the specific faces and people behind this list came to my mind, and I wanted to share the prayers that I had for you.

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1).  My prayer for you is that you would be encouraged in Christ, that His love would console you and that you would share in the life of His Spirit as you walk through your daily life.
Psalm 145:4-21
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.
14 The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.

Psalm 139:1-18
O Lord, you have searched me out and known me;
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
2 You mark out my journeys and my resting place
and are acquainted with all my ways.

3 For there is not a word on my tongue,
but you, O Lord, know it altogether.
4 You encompass me behind and before
and lay your hand upon me.
5 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
so high that I cannot attain it.

6 Where can I go then from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
7 If I climb up to heaven, you are there;
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
8 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea,

9 Even there your hand shall lead me,
your right hand hold me fast.

10 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will cover me
and the light around me turn to night,’
11 Even darkness is no darkness with you;
the night is as clear as the day;
darkness and light to you are both alike.

12 For you yourself created my inmost parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

13 I thank you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
marvellous are your works, my soul knows well.
14 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.
15 Your eyes beheld my form, as yet unfinished;
already in your book were all my members written,

16 As day by day they were fashioned
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How deep are your counsels to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I count them, they are more in number than the sand,
and at the end, I am still in your presence.


This is how He feels about you, Beloved.  He knows, He see and He cares.  As I stated in the beginning, your circumstances may be completely different then your neighbors, but it matters not to the Lord.  He is our foundation, where we begin but it doesn't end there - He hems us in behind and before, and He leads us with His right hand.... and even in the end - you are still in His presence.

In Christ,


A Story to Embody: October 14, 2012

We continue to walk in ordinary time.  I think it is quite significant that "ordinary time" lasts so long, because isn't that exactly what comprises the majority of our lives?  The thread between all these verses is the existence of evil.  God has not removed us from this world but He has shown us how to live in the midst of evil.  There are many practical steps included in these verses of how to walk with the Holy Spirit in the ordinary places of our lives.

Amos 5:10-15
"There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth. You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil. Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph."

Psalm 90:12-17
"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Relent, Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands."

John 16:7-14
"But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you."

Ephesians 5:15-21 
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

In Christ,

For more on why I include these verses read: A Story to Embody

4 Special Ladies

Happy 60th Birthday to my Mom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Who is forever young in heart and spirit!
I love you!!!!

In celebration of my Mom's birthday, the e-book version of my book, A Bond of Blessing: Insights from the book of Ruth for Mothers-in-law and Daughters-in-law is free today 10/8/12 at Amazon.com

I'm also sharing my annual post, 4 Special Ladies, that I like to publish on this day.  Enjoy (with a box of Kleenex)!

 Exodus 20:5-6:

for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God,
punishing the children for the sin of the fathers
to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
but showing love to a thousand {generations}
of those who love me and keep my commandments.

I personally have had a lot more blessing in my life from my generations than negative.  I would like to share pieces of the story's of 4 incredible women in my family heritage.

Special Lady One: My Grandma Bernadine

My Grandma had sparkly eyes, a strong spirit and a happy smile. She always looked old to me with lots of wrinkles on her face and white hair. She was the best. As I've learned more about her story, I appreciate so much more who she was and how she showed us the reality of God's love in the way she lived her life.

Grandma had 6 children, which the last 2 were twins! That in itself is a lot, but she raised all of her children primarily on her own, as her first husband was abusive and divorced her when the children were young. My Grandma raised 6 children as a single mother and she worked as a teacher. During one period of her life she worked an hour away from home so her work days were a minimum of 10 hours a day, plus 6 children to take care of by herself. But my Grandma knew who her God was and she served Him all the days of her life. She couldn't sing a note in tune, but she was in her church choir and faithfully attended church. My Grandma was a prayer warrior and I know she prayed for each of us by name, and I know I am still receiving the blessings from her prayers.

To give you an idea of the strength of my Grandma, she died of lung cancer 2 and a half weeks after being diagnosed because she didn't go to the doctor for being sick. The only reason we found out she had cancer was because she visited us for Thanksgiving and when my mom heard the way she was breathing she took her to the doctor. I remember visiting her in the hospital a week and a half before she died and she wanted to prove to the doctor she was strong enough to go home. She literally jumped out of bed (at age 85, and only about 4 feet 10 inches) and was pushing on the doctors hand to show her strength. During that visit she talked about how she was teaching Hebrews to her Bible study and had been studying the Matthew Henry Concordance in preparation.  She plopped open the huge concordance on her bed! Finally, the last time I would see her concious, she sang to me: "He's still working on me, to make me what He wants me to be..." She was an amazing, strong Christian woman and I feel very humbled and blessed to have her in my family line.

Special Lady Number 2: Aunt Ethel
Aunt Ethel was my Grandma Bernadine's sister. She died at the ripe old age of 100 just days after her 100th birthday. She too was an incredible woman of God whose eyes shined of a daughter who knew who she was even after all she had been through. Now I can't find my fact sheet so I might be a little off on numbers  but my great-aunt had an incredibly hard life.

She was married on her 18th birthday because her father wouldn't let her get married a day before that and she didn't want to wait until a day after that! She had a beautiful first son and everything was fine. But after that tragedy began to strike. My great aunt was RH-negative before the doctors knew what RH-negative was. As a result, she subsequently lost 9 children shortly after childbirth. Only one of her other children, Jane survived but she was mentally handicapped. Aunt Ethel once told me how she tried drinking horse's urine during one of her pregnancies because she was told that would help her baby live. During her last pregnancy, they were starting to figure out RH-negative but the babies (twins) were not given the help they needed in time. My great aunt lived through the death of all those babies, and then Jane died of cancer in her 40's, then her husband died and finally she also endured the death of my Grandma (her baby sister by 11 years). However, you would never know she had been through all that if you met her.  Whenever I would see her, she would always have a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. She lived many days on earth and lost so much but she lived with a confidence that was so evident that she knew who she belonged to and where she was going.

Special Lady Number 3: My Mom (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!):
My mom too went through a lot. She grew up in a broken home and had a mom that had to be gone more than present just to keep the family afloat. She married her high school sweetheart right out of high school and proceeded to have 3 children over the next 7 years. She was pregnant with me (the 3rd child) and going to law school when she received a call that my biological father had been killed in a motorcycle accident. This was on August 7, 1978 a month and a day before I was born. She too ended up being a single mom, having 3 kids and finishing law school. She has lost much during her life but she has also given much and loved much.

She is a wonderful Mom and an incredible Grandma.  As I watch my daughter grow, she reminds me more and more of my Mom.  I know her life hasn't always been easy but the grace and love of God has taught her how to love.  She is my mom and I know I can always call her for prayer support and she will pray. She grows more and more beautiful to me as each day goes by. I love you Mom. Happy Birthday!

Special Lady Number 4: My Cousin

And the history of my family line continues to unfold.  Even as I write, the reality of God and our ability to experience Him in the midst of real life, suffering, hardship, excitement and joy is being lived out in my cousin Amanda's life.

I originally wrote this post on 10/08/09 and literally while I was writing it, another story was unfolding in my family heritage. On this date (09), my sweet cousin Amanda was having a routine 20-week ultrasound. During that ultrasound she found out that her unborn daughter, Layla Rae, had Potter's syndrome and if she survived in the womb, her life outside of the womb would be extremely short. I heard the news hours after I originally wrote this post and I literally lost it (Layla Rae's diagnosis and birth date lined up month wise exactly with Nevaeh Rae's diagnosis and birth date; for me it felt like I was literally walking through the story again. Thank God for good friends, my friend Correna came and prayed with me for a couple hours that day). Over the past  three years I have watched my cousin walk humbly, honestly and confidently before the Lord. She has been a complete inspiration to my soul.

Layla Rae was born January 6, 2010 and lived a very short while being loved by her family:

The story continues on, my cousin is due this very month (October) with her precious second child.  She is anxiously counting the days left (17 days from today she is due).  We joyously await the coming of the newest one to our family line and we continue to rejoice at God's faithfulness and love to our entire family line, for generations to come:

My Cousin Amanda!

As, I look at my godly heritage I know that I am blessed.  Each of these incredible women, move me, inspire me and bring tears to my eyes.  I love and thank God for each one of them.
In Christ,

A Story to Embody: Sunday, October 7

This week's verses invade into a territory that many in America don't like to talk about - how faith shapes the actions and choices of our lives.  Instead, many would like to have a religion without it effecting their everyday lives.  But as you read through these verses, remember that we are walking out the story of God.  As you read through the "story" of Genesis, David in the Psalms, Jesus talking to His disciples and Paul talking to the church in Ephesus remember that these too were real people learning how to walk out a God designed life.

I love that this week's verses starts out with Genesis, reminding us that God created us with purpose, blessing, and with gifts for us to enjoy.  Let these truths shape your perspective and understanding as you read the other verses:

Genesis 2:18-24
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Psalm 26
Vindicate me, Lord,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord
and have not faltered.

2 Test me, Lord, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
4 I do not sit with the deceitful,
nor do I associate with hypocrites.
5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, Lord,
7 proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

8 Lord, I love the house where you live,
the place where your glory dwells.
9 Do not take away my soul along with sinners,
my life with those who are bloodthirsty,
10 in whose hands are wicked schemes,
whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 I lead a blameless life;
deliver me and be merciful to me.

12 My feet stand on level ground;
in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.

Remember how in Genesis we saw that God created us with purpose?  In the verses below, we will see that this purpose continues and grows for the Church.  Our purpose is that we are lights and because of that our lives should be walked out in the Righteousness of Christ.

Mt. 5:13-20

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Euguene Peterson's book Practice Ressurection is about the entire book of Ephesians.  I have just gotten to the part where he is looking at these verses.  He points out how the book of Ephesians is written to Gentiles - Gentiles whose cultures were full of gods, such as Zeus.  The worship of these God's did not affect morality, in fact it celebrated immorality and that was a way to show your devotion to your god.  But the difference between Christianity and these other religions is that Christianity did affect morality.  Eugene pointed out how that because of their cultural upbringing these Gentiles had no context to shape their faith.  No context for allowing God into every area of their lives.  Whereas the Jewish Christians of that time, already had a strong foundation laid from their childhood: that God's Way does provide a distinction in our lifestyle.  So as you read these verses, keep the historical context in mind and also recognize that our culture is not so much different than what the Ephesians were dealing with: how to be a light,  how to live as children of light in a world of darkness.
Eph. 5:3-14
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

As I exit these verses I am once again excited about the practicalities of God's Word.  We are the light of the world, we are children of the light!  We've been invited to live out a story, God's Story.  Does it require choices that are different from the world's?  Yes, but the beauty is that we understand that we serve a Living, Loving God, who designed us with purpose and intent and He desires for us to bring life, light, freedom and truth to this world.

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

For the last four months I've started using Daily Prayer from the Church of England as a way to start out my mornings.  You might ask, "What is someone who grew up in an Evangelical church doing using Liturgical prayer?"  This is a question I've asked myself at times, but the beauty and enjoyment it has brought to my faith has practically erased the question. I will share with you the pieces from my journey that have led into Liturgical Prayer.

A couple years ago, I read Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas.  The book was profound for me on so many levels.  The one thing that Dietrich Bonhoeffer had integrated into his life was Daily Prayer, three times a day: morning, noon and night.  He also said that he daily prayed the Psalms.  After reading his book, I started praying through the Psalms and it really did open new doors in my faith.

Then last year, I read Our Favorite Sins by Todd Hunter and he would end each chapter with a prayer from Daily Prayers.  The prayers started to intrigue me and it got me interested in exploring Daily Prayer.  I would return to his book periodically and grab one of the prayers he wrote to use it as a springboard for prayer.  Then one night I typed "Daily Prayer" into Google and I came across Daily Prayer from the Church of England and I've been doing it ever since.

Finally, I read Monk Habits for Everyday People by Dennis Okholm and it solidified the purpose and the reasoning's behind the rhythm of Daily Prayers.  As he discussed his faith journey, he infused the beauty of how participating in Daily Prayer affected his spiritual walk.

So why do I love Daily Prayer?

1. The connection to the larger body of Christ: It amazes me that people all over the world are reading the exact same prayers and Scriptures on the same day, during the same time slots.  I find it encouraging to be reminded that there are other Christians out there being encouraged and strengthened by the exact same Scriptures as I am.  It helps me to tangibly feel a part of the body of Christ.

2. It connects me to the history of the Church: The Church of England celebrates the saints and the history that their individual lives have given to the Church.  I have learned so much about Church History since I've started doing Daily Prayer.  At the beginning of each day, they list the saint or the holiday being celebrated.  If and when I have time, I look up the saints on Wikipedia (I almost always find the time when it is a woman).  I have been utterly amazed at the women of the church and the movements that they have started, which have literally changed their cultures.  Starting my day with the thoughts and inspirations that these saints bring once again, reminds me that today really does matter.  It may seem like I am making, small insignificant choices but the Lord truly does move through our everydayness and it does impact history in tangible ways.

3. Praying through the Psalms:  Daily prayer always includes Psalms.  The thing that stood out to me from what Dietrich Bonhoeffer said about praying the Psalms was that Jesus himself used the Psalms as prayers.  That thought reminds me of the humanity that Jesus carried along with His divinity that He used His physical mouth and His physical mind to celebrate and praise God.  To have the privilege and opportunity to do the same, daily is a huge blessing.  Also, using Scripture as a platform for prayer instead of just filling my mind with information has helped me to interact with Scripture differently.

4. The connection of Scripture:  The majority of Daily Prayer, is straight Scripture.  In the morning, there is always a Psalm, an Old Testament Passage and a New Testament passage.  As I read through all three of these at the same time, I continue to be amazed at the continuity of Scripture and the themes that seem to jump out at me even more clearly through Daily Prayer. 

5. The repetition:  There are a few Scriptures that are a) either repeated daily or b) repeated on a weekly basis.  These Scriptures contain the foundational truths of God's daily love for us and His plan of salvation.  Having them before me daily helps keep me oriented to the truth of God.  John Eldredge discussed in one of his books - our amnesia of God.  How easy it can be to lose sight of the reality of God when we get bogged down in life.  For me, Daily Prayer, has kept God and his purposes at the forefront of my mind.

6. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen.  
Throughout Daily Prayer, these words are repeated several times.  I am still reading through Practice Resurrection by Eugene Peterson and now he is covering the Trinity.  Being confronted with these words multiple times on a daily basis keeps me keenly aware of the Trinity and how I can allow the Trinity to shape my life this day.
7. It gives order, purpose and direction to my prayer: After reading and praying through all the Scriptures there comes a point towards the end which states, "Pause and pray for : the day and its tasks,  the world and its needs, the Church and her life."  The reason I love this is because by this point in time, my troubles, worries and fears have been greatly minimized from when I first entered my time of prayer.  The glory of God and what He is up to has reshaped my mind and helped bring perspective to my day.  It also helps me to take time to look outwards to the people in my life that might need prayer, and to have concern for the greater issues that may be affecting our world, at this moment.

So these are the things that I love about Daily Prayer.  Growing up, I always thought liturgical prayer was so boring, so restrictive and so unnecessary but I had never delved into it because I allowed my preconceived biases to block my path.  However, now that I've experienced it, I've discovered that rather than constricting my faith it has helped to direct it, strengthen it and encourage it. 

Daily Prayer does have a morning, noon and night prayer - all different Scriptures, directions and focuses.  I have yet to fully venture into doing all three prayers on a daily basis, but I love that it is there and I love that when I need a middle of the day refocus, or a night-ending wrap up, Daily Prayer provides that for me.

In Christ,

All thoughts in this post are from me and have come from my personal interaction with Daily Prayer from the Church of England.

Daily Prayer

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