Between a Rock and a Hard Place…

between the rocks and a hard place

This came to me this morning, as I was reflecting on where we are right now.

And even as I write this, I hear my children in the background laughing and playing as if they have not a care in the world.


They are not worried about where we will live, how we will pay our bills, buy food, get from place to place….

They know that we will take care of them and provide for them.  We will keep them safe and love them with all that we have, with all that we are.

How much more does our heavenly Father love and care for us?

How He longs for us to trust Him like children- with hearts full of faith and confidence.

I don’t want to waste time worrying- or gazing at my problems as if staring at them will somehow make them go away.

It has never worked.  They still loom each time and threaten like an approaching storm- dark clouds full of menace, lightning streaking the sky, thunder rumbling ominously…

But my God calms storms.

My God gets out of the boat and walks on water.

My God is the maker and sustainer of all things.

My God is Jehovah Jireh.

I don’t know how.

I don’t know when.

All I know is WHO.

God will provide all my needs according to His riches in glory.

I have learned the secret of being content in all circumstances- trusting in the strength of my God and not my own.  Keeping my eyes fixed on HIM- every moment- HIM- and not my circumstances.

Psalm 43:5

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

 So are we between a rock and a hard place…or in just the right place?  Nothing happens that God does not allow.  In all times, and all circumstances- I pray for faith that trusts not in what my eyes can see, but in the presence and provision of my God who will never leave me nor forsake me.

To Him be all the glory when the provision comes.

What You MIGHT be Thinking…


Sometimes I get preoccupied with how other people perceive me.

I think that all of our moves over the past several years have fed this fear I have of being misunderstood or judged for one careless word or action that could damage the relationship forming between me and another person.

As I was reading my Bible and journaling this morning, God spoke to me once again about his love for me on the journey.

I am aware that there are areas in my life where I need to grow.

I am not a completed work.

And God is so sweet and tender in how He reassures me of his love for me right where I am.

He loves me despite the fact that sometimes I talk too much and don’t listen enough.

He loves me even though sometimes I let my emotions dictate too much in my life instead of keeping my mind in steadfast trust in Him.

He has helped me learn to laugh more and be thankful for things that I used to take for granted- that I didn’t even see.

He has shown me the sweet blessing of sitting in His presence and lingering in His Word– of beginning to invite Him into my daily life and seeking His face, seeking His presence continually.

And I know I have to let go of this preoccupation with how others see me.

I am who I am.

I know whose I am.

I am not perfect.

I will make mistakes and say things I shouldn’t.

But He knows my heart.

I want to be sensitive to times when I may need to ask for forgiveness when I have hurt someone, but I also know there are times when I need to let go of speculation about what someone MIGHT be thinking about me and release it into the Lord’s hands.

As I was reading in “Ragamuffin Gospel” this morning, these two quotes stood out to me:

“Freedom in Christ produces a healthy independence from peer pressure, people-pleasing, and the bondage of human respect…”

“For most of us it takes a long time for the Spirit of freedom to cleanse us of the subtle urges to be admired for our studied goodness.  It requires a strong sense of our redeemed selves to pass up the opportunity to appear graceful and good to another person.”

“Strong sense of our redeemed selves” really stood out to me.

I don’t want to be enslaved by this pressure to please everyone.  I can’t.

And as I surrender all those things that I cannot control, I pray that I would simply choose to focus on one choice that I can make each day- with the words Joshua used to challenge the Israelites all those years ago.

Joshua 24:15-16

14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

I choose this day to serve you Lord, and to seek to please you first.  May no other love (including the applause of others) ever take your place.

Oh Lord, you know how I still struggle with this daily.  Just yesterday at that birthday party, and the thoughts that filled my head on my way home.  I want to be loved and accepted.  Please help me remember that I am!  You love me just as I am.  Your love never changes.  You are steadfast.  Lord, each time that I am overlooked, or left alone while all the other Moms pair up and talk, may I respond in those moments to you in simple faith and trust.  May I say in my heart- Savior, I remember that you were despised and rejected by men.  You were spit on and humiliated.  In this moment- what I experience cannot compare to what you went through for me.  May I be willing to endure hardships and struggles in this life, remembering all that you went through that I might be made clean and reconciled to God.  I trust you to provide all I need in your own perfect timing.  May my words and actions today be pleasing in your sight.  I rest in you, and the knowledge that I am fully known and fully loved today.  In Jesus I pray and give thanks, Amen.




A Season of Interruptions


There is something God has been showing me lately.

Motherhood is a season of interruptions. 

And many times, the most important things are NOT the ones on my to-do list.

It is in those unplanned, beautiful moments.

And every day it is different.

And that’s what makes this daily monotony an adventure.

When I see the list looming on the board in the kitchen, and the kiddos ask me to play Hide and Seek, I can say yes to that one moment.

And how we best see the “Yes” moments in our life is through our connection to Christ.  For we hear his resounding “YES” in our spirit too- and when I ignore the pull of all the responsibilities of today and just say yes to this moment- it is pure blessing.

These interruptions are different every day.  Sometimes it requires throwing the whole plan for the day in the trash and starting from scratch.

Sometimes it means 2 hours at the park or library that I never planned on.

Sometimes it means reading for 30 minutes with my son and then reading for 30 more minutes with my daughter, relinquishing the pressure of those to-dos into my Savior’s hands.

Sometimes it means helping someone else or having a neighbor over for an unplanned dinner.

My house was not cleaned the way I like it to be.  I had other things that I wanted to get done that day, but I feel God beckoning me to hold loosely to “my list.”

Sometimes potty training or some other major “right of passage” grinds all other progress to a halt.  We sit for hours waiting for the possibility of #2 in the toilet, and then dance in the bathroom for joy when the moment comes.

And we fight the war of time.

How will we spend it?

For once it is gone, no amount of money will buy it back.

And I have found myself asking hard questions about those things that take up my minutes.

Pleading with God to give me the courage to not even settle for good, but press on toward best.

And part of that best for me comes in a simple yet profound plea in Deuteronomy, as Moses talks to the Israelites in a final series of sermons before he dies.  You hear the passion, the fervent plea of this humble man who saw God face to face.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

There are some things that remain constant, but oh Lord please let them never lose their power.  May your Word always pierce our soul and soften those places where our hearts have hardened and draw us to your throne once again.

Let us humbly kneel and give way as you lead us.  Open our eyes to see clearly the best way to spend our days.  Choices that honor you and point to you as the meaning, the purpose that animates us.  In you, we move and have our being.

And today is an opportunity to do more than talk to my children.  It is a chance to live out the freedom Christ has granted me.  To not be chained by my “to do list,” but to walk in confidence and freedom.  As I seek my Savior, he will guide me to those things that need my attention and in obedience I release my hold on the rest and entrust it to his caring hands.

Lord, open our eyes to see how interruptions in our day may be moments ordained by you.  Precious Savior, so many times I make mountains out of mole hills.  Renew my mind, transform me.  Free me from this tight grip I have on the things “I think” need to be done, and help me walk in tune with your spirit today- embracing each interruption as an opportunity.  Give me discernment that I might have confidence in the choices I make about how to spend my time. We need you, in each moment, to guide our steps.  And when we fall, oh sweet Savior, may we call you in those moments and in humility confess our failure and seek to walk beside you once more.  Your presence Lord- that’s what I want.  To know you are near.  Our sinfulness does not surprise you.  That’s why you came, and why you died.  You do not wish condemnation and guilt, but conviction that acknowledges your right place in our lives.  You are the faithful one.  Thank you God, for being all-sufficient- the one who animates all things and holds all things together.  My soul praises you.  Blessed be your Name.  Amen.



Weather the Storms

A Sense of Forboding

I was hired for a job yesterday.

I signed the contract this morning.

And not an hour later, I was in the trenches of the boundary war.

Already, I was being asked to attend a meeting on a night when I go to Bible Study with my daughter.

I was being asked to say NO.

God is so kind, to give me this advance warning from a grace-filled person who responded very well to my NO, and to remind me that a fight is required to keep priorities in the right places.

Honoring God and turning away from the temptation of pleasing man has always been a struggle for me.  I feel that pressure to say Yes, to not disappoint anyone.

Being home for the past several years with my children has been an escape from some of these outer pressures.  I have had more control over my schedule, more quiet time, more free time- but I have protected and fought for it.

I am so thankful for this reminder today that as I move into this new role, new challenges will emerge.

There will be very “good” reasons to make a compromise here, and give a little time there- but I am praying this morning, pleading with my precious Savior- please Lord, help me to weather the storms of other people’s displeasure if it runs in opposition of what you call me to do.

May I please you first; please precious Savior help me.

Take this trembling, recovering people-pleaser and make me into a bold woman who can rest in confidence on your promises to me.  Pleasing you is enough.

O Lord, thank you for walking with me each day.  Thank you for the presence of your Holy Spirit- a trusted guide and counselor, my advocate.  I stand in awe of you today, and how you can change our hearts and increase our yearning for you above all else.  My heart swells with gratitude for all the ways you have opened my eyes and continue to show me the path of life.  And as I pray Lord, I remember your word:

All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. Ps. 25:10

I am humbled, O Lord you are here.  I feel held by you, even as I want to wonder how and worry and control- you bring your peace into my troubled mind.  You keep my mind in peace as I say in this moment, I will choose to trust you.  You will hold me steady. You will keep my foot from slipping.  You hold me up with your righteous right hand.  All praise and glory is yours forever.  In the name of my precious Savior and Lord, I rest and hope, Amen.


Love in the Trenches


One of my dear friends is getting married in May.

This led to us having a conversation on the phone a few weeks ago, and I have been thinking about some of the things I told her about my marriage.

She asked what I have learned after 11 years of marriage, and what advice I would give to her on entering marriage.

And it took me back to right after my hubby and I got married.  We were returning from our honeymoon and it was snowing in Lexington, KY.  From summer-like temperatures into the bitter cold of a snowy night, we were both anxious to get home (our first night together in our apartment!) and get warm.

One of my husband’s old roommates picked us up at the airport.  It was a slow drive home because of the snow.  When we got there, my hubby realized that he forgot something on the plane.

Our apartment keys, our passports, our credit cards, yep- all of it- was still sitting under his seat on the plane.

I remember being tired and irritated.  I remember thinking that I would never forget something that important.  I remember these feelings rising up in me and really wanting to express them.

But thanks be to God for His precious Holy Spirit.

I felt the strongest impression to remain silent.

To not say what was on my mind.  In fact, I even remember realizing that my hubby already felt horrible about what was happening, and my criticism would not serve to benefit the situation in any way.

What he needed most from me in that moment was love and support.  He needed me to believe that he would take care of things, to simply pray for him, be supportive, or be silent.

My hubby did take care of things. He climbed in through a window so we got to sleep in our apartment that night together. He went back to the airport and picked up what he left the next morning.

And I never forgot the power of being silent in those emotionally charged moments when you may say something you regret- and though we can apologize- sometimes those words cause wounds that take time to heal.

I don’t always say the right thing, and sometimes I say words that I regret- but I am so thankful for the presence of the Holy Spirit and that powerful reminder to me early in my marriage that my words can build up my husband, or my words can tear him down.

So my dear friends, I encourage you- whether you are married or not- be careful about the words that you say.  They are so powerful and can deeply impact those who care for us.

They can wound, or they can heal.

They can break down, or they can build up.

They can create distance, or foster intimacy.

Oh Lord, remind us that our words matter.  Help us take seriously the words that we say, but also the words that lie below the surface- in our thought life.  May we take each thought captive and bring all under the submission of Christ.  Renew our minds Lord, that they would be filled with thoughts that please you.  Show us the power of conscious effort in our relationships- that we would build each other up, seeking your guidance before we speak.  Guide us into your truth and teach us we pray.  In Jesus Name, Amen.



I am an Offering

" And he said ...  Let there Be Light "

I started doing dishes today, just now, and God whispered, “Look up, ” and I looked and saw these verses.

Several years ago, I wrote these on a card- they just captured me.

1 Chronicles 16:11  Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually.

16:29-30  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come before him.  Worship the LORD in holy splendor, tremble before him all the earth.

And as I read them today, and came across the words, “bring an offering,” I thought to myself- I am an offering.

My life is offered up to Him, to use as He will.

What I want more than anything else is to be obedient to God, and to please Him.

To seek His presence and walk with Him.

And the tears of gratitude flowed for this is a work He has done in me.

He has brought me to this time and place through the work of His precious Holy Spirit and I am filled with gratitude.

O dear friends, there is nothing sweeter than inviting God into our lives and simply saying, “I am here, please come and be with me.”

His presence changes us.

His love strengthens.

His compassion and mercy gives us rest.

For we know that God works all things for good for those who love God and have been called according to His purposes.

We have a calling, we have a purpose, we matter to God.

Lord, I come today as an offering of praise and thanksgiving to you.  To be used as you will, a vessel for you to fill and pour out.  O precious Spirit, strengthen me for the work you have called me to.  Help me to wait on you and listen to your guidance.  Renew my mind as I meditate on the word of God.  Make my steps sure and strong.  Uphold me precious Christ, and may your Name be glorified.  Through the blood of Christ I pray, Amen.


Your Name on my Lips


I was chatting with a Mom at the park on a lovely 50 degree day.  It was an unplanned trip to the park, but the sun was shining and it beckoned us to postpone the rest of school for the day and get out and enjoy!

We started chatting about this and that, and the conversation eventually gravitated toward church.

I have to admire this Mom’s honesty.  She told me that Sunday was the only day they could sleep in and relax, and they just didn’t think that going to church was worthwhile.  They had not seen that it had made much of a difference in their life.

And now, it pains me to confess what I said next.  This was a beautiful opportunity to share about what a difference God’s presence has made in my life- but I didn’t.

I talked about the church and what a great support system and loving presence they have been in our lives over the years.  I spoke of how they encouraged and came alongside my husband and I when he was out of work.

All of these things are great- but that is NOT why I attend church!

I am not part of the body of Christ for the social aspects of it.

I am part of the body of Christ because of Christ.

His presence in my life completely transformed me.  I would not want to live this life without Him.

How I wish I would have shared that instead!  That I had gushed about how great God is- how faithful He has been to us.  How he has carried us through trials and celebrated with us in times of great joy.

The body of Christ is the special place that it is only because the presence of Christ resides in usThe Holy Spirit joins us in mysterious and holy connection. 

We are one in the spirit- We are one in the LORD.

That is what makes this body so precious to me.  It is more than a church building- it is an eternal bond.

And after I got home, and I was reflecting on that conversation, I asked God’s forgiveness and prayed that He would help me at all times, in all conversations, be eager to testify to His greatness.

He is worthy of all my praise.

Today and every day- now and forever.

Lord, forgive me for the times I fail to give you all the praise and glory.  You are worthy of all my thanks and praise.  O precious Savior and God, help me to make the most of every opportunity, that your name would always be on my lips- that I would never cease to sing your praises.  Great is our God and greatly to be praised in all the earth.  Amen.



Seek Him Alone

Arnold Arboretum, 18 May 2010: Steps up to Bussey Hill

It is so easy to be led off track…

Down the road of doing what’s right.

Following the rules.

Doing good works.

Volunteering at church.

Helping a neighbor.

Taking time to invest in our children.

And I am not claiming that these things are bad.

The problem comes when all these things become ends in themselves.

They are failing to be animated by the secure love of God flowing through me and pouring out into others.

I begin storing up a list of “good works” to show God to offset the offense of my sinfulness, and in the midst of my working I lose my connection to the one who strengthens and upholds me.

When I grow weary or fail- if I am disconnected from Him- I fall into despair.

I am seeking the approval of God in the way I seek the approval of man- through doing things that they will approve of so that I might gain their affection/acceptance.

This is a habit that I find so hard to break.

I am constantly falling back into this cycle and then emerging out only to get caught once again.

It is hard, in the midst of my daily work, the ups and downs of my life, to remember that God remains constant in his affection.

He longs to be near me, to walk with me, to guide me into truth and broad, peaceful places.

I start trying to get there on my own- and sometimes I don’t even realize what’s happening in the moment- but I see the evidence of it when my sin leads me to discouragement, shame, and feeling sorry for myself instead of driving me into the arms of my Savior.

I was reading in Romans this morning, and I felt drawn to Psalm 16.  For many years I carried Psalms 16:11 in my car.

You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

My friends, this is something that I desperately need to remember.

I forget so easily that He loved me even before I realized I was a sinner in need of redemption.  He bridged that gap and made a way for me to know Him.

No, I don’t deserve it.  But through the blood of Jesus Christ the fire of the wrath of God has been quenched.  I am received as family.

Truly, what always brings me out of these times of melancholy is one simple truth- the Christian life should be marked by joy (and I see the absence of it in my own life).

We should be so filled with the love of God that we draw attention simply from the peace that lives in secure knowledge that we are infinitely loved and accepted and can do NOTHING to change it.

I want to live like that!

Every day!

(Aside: My Dad has repeatedly talked to me about the word “should.” And I noticed that I used it twice in the past several sentences.  Should is a word of bondage in many cases- God establishes us- this is a work that He delights to do if we only trust Him to do it.  So it is not I, but Christ living in me that accomplishes this work.)

It is not just a smile I paste on for church or saying the “right things” when I am with Christian friends- but it is an abiding peace and security in the arms of my Savior.

It is an anchor in my soul.

I can get caught up in saying the right things without feeling them deep down in my bones.

So my daily prayer is- O Lord, please help me to remember how much I am loved by you- and to share that love with others.

That is what makes our relationship with God so extraordinary.  Not only does God love us, He made a way for us to draw near to Him through the blood of His Son. He allowed His Son to suffer and die for us so that we might be redeemed and live eternally.

We hear it so often the words can become so meaningless.  I want it to soak in.  O Lord, make those words new to me!  Fill me with joy in the truth of all you have done for me.

And even as I wrapped up this post, my daughter asked to read her devotions for today from Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids.  The Title is “My Promise”, and the verse Matthew 28:20-

You can be sure I am with you always…

Oh dear friends, that these words would bring us comfort and peace, and not fear. 

Let us pray for each other that we may hold tightly to this truth in the daily battle with our own sinfulness.  God loves us through all the successes and failures, and compassionately and lovingly longs to draw alongside us, and whisper words of love and comfort into our deepest pain and sorrow.

He binds up the wounded and is close to the broken-hearted.

Oh Lord, precious Savior and God, forgive me for distancing myself from you in my sin.  For giving the lie purchase that your love depends on my obedience. Give me the courage to be vulnerable and honest when times are hard and my knees are wobbly.  Renew my mind and help me to guard against the schemes of the enemy.  May my sinfulness draw me nearer to you as it reminds me of how necessary you are to life- as essential as breath.  I love you, thank you for first loving me.  In Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.



Word for 2015: Nearer

Phoenix Park Pope's cross


Nearer is all I long for.

A little closer to your heart.

Nearer to my LORD.

And two songs came to mind, and brought tears to my eyes. They express what wells in my heart as I reflect on this past year and look forward to the year to come…

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!

There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.

And another song that came to mind today…

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.

Sometimes a song can say- even without words- what we feel, the passion and heart-felt joy or sorrow of a single moment-even a life-long prayer.

The deep desire for intimacy with a mysterious, loving, unfathomable, intimate God that created us all and desires to draw near to us!

He does the impossible.

And I need to hear that today.  Because some days I feel so broken and spent I need to know- to remember- to resonate in the truth that I don’t bear this burden alone.  And when I choose to I am rejecting the beautiful gift of God’s loving, sustaining presence.

The work of this day is simply inviting him in- moment by moment.  Oh, it is so simple friends, but how easily I forget!

I stumble and find myself in a pit I dug myself in- and even now- when I know how he longs to enfold me in my brokenness, I  struggle to turn to him in those moments when the ugliness of sin is showing- when my cracks are gaping wide.

And I hear his gentle, love-filled voice beckoning- come to me…

all you who are weary…

and I will give you rest.

By the grace of God, may we all rest in Him today.

One step toward Him- affirming once again- You are Lord, I need you.

One day- one moment at a time.

Come Lord Jesus.

Draw me nearer.

Lessons in Humility


It all started with flashcards this week.

Ok, truthfully, flashcards have been a problem longer than that.  But this week God spoke to me through flashcards.

Sometimes, I get frustrated when teaching my daughter.

My frustration primarily lies in my inability to teach things in a way she can understand.  There is a break down in communication.  I see the confusion in her face.

And in this emotion I act out wrongly.  I get snippy and short with her.  I say things that I shouldn’t.  Words that hurt, words that criticize.

Not too long after, I felt deeply convicted for my poor attitude.

I apologized to my daughter and asked forgiveness, but as the day wore on, I felt God continuing to speak to me about this interaction.

The fact is, I want to be an example to my children.  I want to model a Godly life for them, for them to see Christ in me.

When I fail, it is so devastating.

I love them more than I ever dreamed I could love someone.  It’s painful sometimes, how it overwhelms and floods me.

But the reality that God was showing me is that I cannot be God to my children.

I will not love them perfectly.

I will let them down.

I will say the wrong thing.

My words will hurt them.

But I can direct them towards someone who will NEVER fail them.

Someone who will ALWAYS be there.


God will ALWAYS give wise counsel.

God is the faithful one, their ever present help in trouble.

So, as my daughter and I headed to church on Wednesday night, the Holy Spirit guided me into a wonderful conversation with her.

The summary:  I will fail you and say words that hurt you, even though I love you so much.  But God will never fail you.  He will love you perfectly and always be there for you.  Remember that when you feel sad and alone- when I disappoint you.  God is there and he loves you with a (Jesus Storybook Bible) “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.”

It is hard as a parent to confess and acknowledge that we will daily fail in what we long to do.  But we can choose how to respond when we sin, when our sin hurts our children. 

I am praying for greater humility, patience, and love- and for God to have his way in me more today than yesterday.  By the power of His Spirit working in me, I hope that despite my faults my children will see glimpses of Christ in me and most of all know that I do love them.

Lord, thank you for walking daily with me.  You faithfully teach me and guide me on this journey.  Thank you for never leaving me or forsaking me.  Thank you for the promise that you will always be with my children- and that your love for them is perfect and never-ending.  Blessed be your Name.  Amen.