Thursday, August 30, 2012

“Doesn’t Matter”…But What If It Does?

Does spending time in God’s Word every day REALLY make a difference?  I mean, seriously, I am busy and isn’t that just one more thing to add to my list?

But what if it does?

What if it changes me just a little? 

      Changes even one word of mine, from tearing down to building up.

      Changes my vision so that I see the need in someone

                    rather than how annoying she has been. 

      Changes me to extend an intentional act of kindness. 

              Or render a harsh word unsaid.

What if, as a result, it changes my direction in where I go today and what I do and who I meet?

What if it builds up strength day after day

                to not give up?

                   Or keep me from going over the


What if someday it literally saves my life?

What if it gives me the audacity to walk away from temptation?

     Or convinces me of injustice and what to do about it?

What if it makes a profound impact three generations from now?

               Or on my co-worker or spouse

               or toddler who mimics my every move?

What if it makes me a little more like Him?

The Bible is not just ancient words printed on paper

but the very Word of God,

living and breathing

and full of more power than I can comprehend.

Time in His Word is never wasted.

It will always bear fruit and not return void.

It will change the course of your life twenty years from now,

        it will change your life this afternoon.

You are different because you have spent time with God.

It matters more

       than you can ever know.


For the Word of God is living and active,

sharper than any two-edged sword,

piercing to the division of soul and spirit,

of joints and marrow,

and discerning

the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

                              Hebrews 4.12

Your Word is a lamp to my feet

and a light to my path.

                         Psalm 119. 105

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

“Something Is Not Right”

In the middle of one night,

Miss Clavel turned on her light,

and said,

     “Something is not right!”

                            (Madeline, 1939)

I can relate to the greatly distressed Miss Clavel, waking in the middle of the night, wondering what is the matter.  Worries LOVE the darkness when the monsters under the bed are making too much noise, shadows grow bigger by the minute, and there is absolutely NOTHING you can do until morning.  It is a feeling of what used to be called “disquiet,”  an uneasiness or anxiety that pushes its way through the door and takes over your entire bedroom.  It is a disturbance in my universe, an awareness that something is missing and not right.

More often than not, that “something” is within, those old fears and foes rallying around like familiar bullies on the school playground.

Anxiety comes packed ready to burden you on your journey into the vast unknown and sometimes into the even larger “I know what I am facing.”  But when you are right with God, you are a David confidently facing a giant with a stone in your pocket.  When you are right with God, you can move, live, and work, energized and unhindered, walking on dry ground in the midst of the Red Sea.  He is your strength and shield.

Sometimes what is missing and not right  is the need to recalibrate our relationship with God.  When He is not at the center of all we are and all we do, that throws everything off-balance.  It is not that our relationship with God has been negated, but something is not right.   Have I ignored what He has been telling me or chosen a path that leads away from Him?   That unquenchable longing in our hearts is our misplaced and misdirected desire for Him,  He alone who holds the key.  French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) nailed it when he said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”

“Something is not right?”  What have I been trying to stuff into that hole?  That longing is only what God can fill. 

Anxiety fills in the spaces when God is pushed to the sidelines or ignored.  And then what seems initially like a little bitty worry grows exponentially into a burden too heavy to carry, too huge to ignore, and too cumbersome to hide.  And the fear that comes with the package deal blocks out any available light. 

The strategic difference is laying these anxieties and longings before Him and praying through them with the LORD, making sure that you are right with Him, recalibrating your heart, trusting in Him alone.   God redeems difficulties for tremendous good.  He may or may not not banish your problems, but God takes away the fear and gives the strength to work through them.  If you ask Him, He will show you how to navigate the situation at hand.  It is not that you will approach life in an artificial-sweetened, fake-smile kind of way, but trust His reality as it is, knowing, going and growing in His unfailing love and purpose for you, no matter the circumstances, His Presence within, His peace beyond understanding.


Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you disquieted within me?

Hope in God;

for I shall again praise Him,

my help

and my God.

…By day the LORD commands His unfailing love,

and at night His song is with me,

a prayer to the God of my life.

                                 Psalm 42. 5,8

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Drought Resistant Life

I can count on one hand the number of times it has rained this summer, even including a few meager attempts at drizzling.  The lawns faded into a grey pallor long ago, crunchy underfoot like shredded wheat.  The leaves on the bushes had crawled into a fetal position as if trying to hide from the hot sun.  Even weeds being pulled gave up the fight, their roots unable to resist removal, the dirt crumbly and loose.  Already at the end of August, leaves are falling from the trees, too weak to even turn colors, unable to hold on for another month until autumn can come.  The woman who cuts my hair said that her husband was even ticketed last week by the village for watering their lawn at the wrong time on the wrong day.  There was a hefty fine. 

When I emerged from church yesterday morning, the pavement was shiny and wet.  It was raining.  And I didn’t hear one word of complaint.  Quite the contrary, there was almost that special hush as when discovering beautiful flakes of snow decorating the trees and dancing in the breeze.  People didn’t even rush through the rain to their cars, few umbrellas even visible as we were so taken by surprise.  I walked to the parking lot slowly, feeling the cool drops roll down my arms.  And as I drove home, I listened to the rain hit the windshield and top of my car, sounding like the thunderous applause of creation.  “And all the trees of the field clapped their hands,” as it says in Isaiah 55.12.  The thirst of the earth was being quenched.

I will never again think of rain as an inconvenience.

Man still has yet to have any control over the weather – and it seems at times not even the ability to accurately forecast.  But from ancient times God has directed His people to a drought-resistant life, ready and able to endure WHEN the drought in life comes to your house.  Deep roots are nurtured through a daily nourishing in His Word, continual prayer, and fellowship with His faithful.  It is not a magic formula or a ritual, but spending time with God.  And through it, God creates in us an inner strength that is not our own and not dependent on outward conditions.  It is a peace, a joy, a sustaining, even amidst the storms or drought of life, deep roots already in place.   And when surrounded by despair all around and within, I hear His voice saying, “You are going to be all right.”

It rained all day.  And this morning, puddles reflected the deep blue sky on what had been my dusty running path.  And even the foliage shed its sackcloth and ashes, the trees raising their renewed limbs decorated in new green outfits, rejoicing and thankful.


Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,

whose trust is the LORD.

He is like a tree planted by water,

that sends out its roots by the stream,

and does not fear when heat comes,

for its leaves remain green,

and is not anxious in the year of drought,

for it does not cease to bear fruit.

                           Jeremiah 17. 7-8

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wild Animal Safari: Not In MY Car!!

We have a chronic problem with chipmunks, oh so cute, and oh so destructive.  Once again I have started my perennial trapping (as chronicled in my earlier post this summer “The Daily Chipmunk”, June 21).  Well, they haven’t gone away.  I have trapped them, driven them miles away, over the railroad tracks, and released them into wonderful new wooded surroundings.  And I am beginning to suspect that these critters have some kind of inherent GPS and find themselves back in my yard, once again burrowing under the paving stones.  And now the patio is once again collapsing from their spacious living quarters beneath the surface.

This past weekend, we loaded up the daily occupied trap into the back of our truck.  We were on our way to a bike race nearby and thought that the chipmunk deserved citizenship in a new town.  We could hear him scampering about in the trap as we drove.  Suddenly, something caught my eye.  Thinking that it was only my imagination, I didn’t say much about it.  And then, a quick movement by my feet happened again.  It was the CHIPMUNK running around on the floor of the truck.  My husband was driving.  He looked back.  Sure enough, the chipmunk had ESCAPED and was running around like he had just ingested a five-hour energy drink.  I would rather face a mountain lion than some little critter with the ability to crawl up my leg.  I pulled my feet up.   AGGGHHH!

He pulled the vehicle onto a side street.  We both jumped out, opened all the doors and the hatch in back.  And waited.  We could hear him running around, but we had no means of shooing him out.  Finally, he jumped and ran for cover.  I think at that point I could have won the bike race myself.  My adrenaline was pumping like I was participating in the Tour de France.

Last year about this same time, we discovered – while driving 70 miles per hour – a long snake running along our windshield and then down into the car.  I love wildlife, but not when I am trapped in the same cage.

Life is an adventure.  We can never predict what we may find on our path today…or as in this case, the car.

And this afternoon, I went out to my car and found in the trap next to the garage, containing not one, but two chipmunks just waiting to go on a ride.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Silence of God

We are engulfed in noise,

buried alive by sound,

i-pod earphones plugging in a non-stop blare,

televisions rumbling, a thousand channels and more on cable

to avoid missing the urgent,

and what do we miss

            but silence.

Keep the music going

    I don’t want to think.

What would I do with all the quiet

but to fill it up?

And yet, it is in the silence of God

that affirms not His absence

                          but His Presence.

Rocking on the front porch at the opening of the day,

listening to the crickets,

bathing in the soundtrack

            that He is

            and He is here.




        and be strong.


Be still

    and know that I am God.

The LORD of hosts is with us,

the God of Jacob is our fortress.

                    Psalm 46. 10-11

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

To Do List

What do I need to do today?

Love the LORD my God

with all my heart,

with all my soul,

with all my mind,

and with all my strength.

And to love my neighbor

as myself.

In whatever form that takes.

And repeat it again tomorrow

in all that I am,

in all that I do.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Praying Outside the Box

I recently returned from a writing class held in the mountains of which no words exist to adequately describe.  I would arise early when the mist still clung to the hills in layers as if the mountains were emerging from a bed piled high with quilts.  Two dawns, painted in tones of rose across the horizon, just about took my breath away.  I was there to pursue writing, but I realized that some things stand beyond language.

The writing exercises that week were designed to help us look differently at the pieces we write, indeed to look at those things around us from another perspective, whether observing the commonplace – including a humble mouse hole – or contemplating our own life stories, written on one page in ten minutes.  The week helped us approach our writing on fresh paths and, at times, right through the underbrush where there is no marked trail.

On my LONG drive home, passing through mountains and prairies, both lush forests and drought-stricken fields, the radio faded in and out as I traveled through invisible barriers.  At one point, during a fuzzy section of highway, I turned off the radio and used the time to pray.  And suddenly, I caught myself.  After stretching my brain all week, a new path emerged.  Instead of continuing to pray, “God, please do this and that,” I began to thank Him instead.  Not just for what He has done, but for what He has already initiated, both things I can see happening and those things yet invisible.  “Thank You for what You are doing.”  -- that which is not yet evident, that which seems impossible at this time, mysteries He has already solved and is leading us through.  He sees what we cannot see.  He knows what we can never comprehend.  And someday, someday, we will finally “get it.”  So, that is why that happened, we will all exclaim.

As I prayed, I realized that it is in contentment and thankfulness that we can more clearly receive and trust.  I found myself that day continually slipping back and forth from praying for someone and then intentionally thanking God for them.  Thank You for how you have designed her.  Not “Be with him” but “Thank you for Your Presence with him in that scary place.”  Not “Lead her this way or that,” but “Thank You, LORD, for how you are leading her through this situation.”  Not “Keep him from going there,” but “Thank You for how you will use and redeem that experience in his life for Your glory.”

Try praying entire prayers in words of thanks to God.  It is HARD.  It is difficult to thank Him for what we cannot yet see, and yet what He has already established.  But whether we can comprehend or not, He is still God, Creator of the Universe, not restrained even by time.  Thank Him for what He has done and is doing past, present and future.  It is not what we pray, but how He has already answered.

His faithfulness reaches the heavens, His ways unsearchable, His love more than we can know.


Enter His gates with thanksgiving,

      and His courts with praise!

Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

For the LORD is good;

His steadfast love endures for ever,

and His faithfulness to all generations.

                          Psalm 100.4-5

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Day of School and Other Known Traumas

beth's first day at school

It snuck up on me suddenly and hit me broadside.  Twenty-five years ago this week, our oldest daughter started kindergarten.  Her growing up was an incredible delight.  Beth infused great energy and creativity into our family.  She was starting school, that much I knew was coming, but it was standing on that curb in front of the school that I realized what that meant.  She had gone to play school for a few years, a couple of mornings a week.  No problem.  But this?  Seven hours until I would see her again?  And then again tomorrow?  I felt like she was teetering on the edge of a black hole and would not surface again until she was eighteen.

With the other moms and dads, I stood in front of what appeared not as a school but the great unknown.  Excitement was oozing from Beth’s pores.   We took the historic picture and hugged.  As she ran inside, tears poured down my cheeks.  And then, Bill said some of the wisest and hardest words I have ever had to grapple with, words that I have never forgotten:  “The letting go starts right now.”

THAT is parenting in a nutshell.  Not letting go in the sense of allowing chaos to ensue and abandoning a child to his own devices.  But letting go to let them grow up and mature and develop character, the letting go that loves completely but lets them struggle enough to figure things out and gain confidence, the letting go that is an encouragement NOT a hovering helicopter, a letting go that teaches and shows and equips them with the “tools for their toolbox” that they will need so that twelve years later, their lives are packed for the great beyond after high school.   Everything they need is not at Target, but that which has been seamlessly woven into their lives for eighteen years.  The letting go allows them to OWN their lives – their character, actions, faith -- because you have slowly and graciously and intentionally tip-toed back and worked your way out of a job.  Because when I let go, I am leaving them in the hands of Jesus.  When I let go, they learn the reality of God.  When I let go, He becomes the hero – not me.  When I let go, they graduate with a magna cum laude degree in His faithfulness to them.  God is not something they have read about or know about, He is of whom they know and have staked their lives upon.  Because they have seen His hand, experienced it, depended on it already.

The letting go starts right now. 


…so that they should set their hope in God.

                                Psalm 78.7

Friday, August 17, 2012

Look For The Joy

I had passed it at least fifty times as I walked down the paved driveway.  And when it finally caught my attention, it was a delight to me.  A spider lily was growing amidst a wild array of ivy and other ground-hugging plants which clung for survival alongside an asphalt parking lot.  Its slender tall stalks were bare as if any kind of leaves would hold them back.  And on top, it boasted a celebration of red, like the grand finale of fireworks on Independence Day.  There were two of them rejoicing, like the laughter of friends cutting through the silence, a burst of color among the mundane, extraordinary standing in line with the everydayness of life.  The pair stood there waving in the gentle breeze of a hot August afternoon, mostly invisible to those who trudged by. 

The joy is there.  We just don’t bother to look for it, so preoccupied with the urgency of the ordinary, carrying around the burdens and baggage that pull us down, those bulging suitcases we should have left on the altar a long time ago.  Focusing only on the dust and gravel, we actually don’t SEE the reality of God’s goodness all around us because other things have distracted, caught our attention, and taken up residence in our hearts, affecting our eyesight, our brainwaves, our words, and even whether we embrace others or walk right past them. 

No matter the darkness of this day you may face, look for the joy.  Just one little thing.  Look for it, the joy God has placed in your life to give you strength and hope.  No matter what turmoil is around, He offers a secret joy.  “…do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8.10)

And be reminded that the conduit of that joy may be YOU in the time another’s need, an opportunity to extend a kindness or the grace that none of us deserve.

Look for the joy.  It may even bubble up out of the ground when you least expect it.


…and delighted themselves

        in Your great goodness.

                      Nehemiah 9.25

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dog-Eared Pages

“When our time comes, He will sustain us, not with what He used to sustain these dear Christians necessarily, but He will sustain us Himself in whatever way He sees we need the most.”   

(the words of Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham)


                        -- Patricia Cornwell

                           Ruth:  A Portrait

                           page 273

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How Big Is Your Flower Pot?

Earlier this summer, I was about to purchase a small plastic package of fresh basil leaves at the grocery store, just enough for the recipe I was making.  But by the front door of the store, I saw healthy vibrant basil plants greeting the shoppers, at about the same price as the teeny little pre-picked package.  Always with an eye for a better deal and somehow ignoring the fact that plants do not survive under my care, I opted for the plant.

I placed the tiny pot on a table on my screen porch where it could get some sun.  The next day, it appeared to have died.  I watered it thoroughly, and the small plant revived again.  An out-of-town friend arrived the following evening for a visit.  She noticed the plant.  “Oh, we planted a small basil plant in our garden one year, and it turned into a bush,” she said.  “It will grow as large as the container it is in.” 

I replanted it into the largest planter that I could find in our garage.  And in a week’s time, it doubled in size.  Throughout the summer, I have pinched off leaves for recipes and salads.  The more I pick, the larger it grows.

During this same season, I have become more and more conscious about how I pray and for what I pray.   How outrageously am I praying?  Do all of my prayers fit inside an eight-ounce paper cup like that tiny plant I purchased at the store?

Cute little reasonable prayers without any substance,

prayers for mere survival

    or those planted in the biggest container I can conceive?

What is the wildest thing I can pray?

            God is bigger yet.


The prayer of the righteous

has great power in its effects.

                            James 5.16

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Imposter In The Choir

You want me to do what?

I looked into the eyes of my child

who wants me to sing in a choir

and for a brief moment longer,

thinks that I can do anything.

I reach into my eternal bag of excuses.

There are always plenty to pull out.

But way down in the bottom was only one:

I have never done that before.

It always worked in the past,

but this excuse looked broken and worn out from use.


Ok, I agreed, thinking that it would be one week

and I would be out the door on my ear,

when they discovered that I could not sing.

I have never really sung out loud

except with the radio when no one is around.

The gig is up.

I follow their voices like a child trying to find mama in the mall.


The first few weeks I moved my lips.

I had no voice.

I was afraid that someone would hear me.

And wonder why I was here.

Then I discovered voices around me.

And like so many times in my life,

I could carry something

when there were others with the same part.

I was having a hard time,

a hard year,

and early every Monday morning,

I joined the others who sang

despite their wounds.

For a few moments,

we could set down our baggage

and glorify God

in a language that we do not even know.


I was a little girl again

awkward with an uneven hem

and unruly hair,

finding myself in the wrong line.

What are you doing here?

You don’t belong.

And while we sang,

it didn’t make a difference that they were better than me,

because I realized that we all had the same part.

It just matters what we do with it.

There are a few that can sing solos,

but most of us need each other

and all of us need to belong.


I found myself in the part of the forest

where there are no paths.

I decided to make it an adventure,

my year of doing things I have never done before.

The scenery would still be the same.

But do I look at my feet

or enjoy the view?

I wonder now how many other blessings

I have missed

because I didn’t try.


You want me to do what?

I look into the eyes of my God

and say I have never done that before.

I can’t.

You can.

I am standing right beside you.

Just listen to My voice.

And you will hear your part.


You want me to do what?

I look into the eyes of my child

who doesn’t need me to sing in a choir.

She just needs to know

that she can do anything.


(Postscript:  I wrote this piece years ago when our youngest daughter asked me to sing in a choir of junior high parents, which among other pieces, tackled a vocal composition written in Latin.  I did it for her.  But I learned that being stretched is never a wasted effort.  God used that semester of choir in many different ways, that year of doing things I had never done before, wandering beyond my comfort zone, giving me courage to do yet something else new.  Eighteen months later, I ran my first marathon.  And He equipped me for some really big rocks yet to come.  It really wasn’t about singing in a choir after all, nor being a role model, but learning to trust God even more.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What’s Behind That Smile? Not Just A Gold Medal

Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas has not stopped smiling.  She has won two gold medals, the first gymnast in American history to win gold in both the team competition and all-around.  She has also fallen off the beam in the finals.  There is a joy within her that many cannot understand, because it is not dependent on her performance.  It is radiating from grace embedded firmly in her heart.

In the first television interview I saw with her, the journalist asked her why she was not a bundle of nerves.  Gabby remarked that she had been meditating on Scripture passages and that God was her strength.   This was not a cheap advertisement for God, but a revealing of her inner core, that which truly motivates and energizes her.  She is at the Olympic games for a purpose deeper than gaining medals for her country; she is there to glorify God.

Here is a short video filmed right before she left to compete in the games.  She loves the LORD, strives to do all things with excellence,  and makes that evident in all that she does.

As a friend of ours who competed as a cyclist in Europe once told us:  “We discovered that God did not need our successes to bring Him glory.”

And so with little Gabby.  People are not just watching how you achieve a medal, but how you respond when you don’t. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Everything Already In Place

A couple of winters ago, I continued to run through the cold and ice even though I was not training for any specific race.  I just ran.  And suddenly one morning in the beginning of March, I received an email about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an event taking place in just two weeks.  I had been preparing for something that was not on my radar, something that was organized suddenly, an opportunity for which one was ready or not.  And I was reminded that training never goes wasted.  Or as my grandmother used to say, in regard to playing the piano, “your practice is never for naught.”

Sometimes we know what we are working toward.  Other times we are called to just faithfully work, not knowing what is ahead but assured that God can use what we are doing right now in this place, even that what we would consider menial or meaningless on the surface.  God uses those times to equip, prepare, stretch us for what is to come, even in building our trust in Him for those times when it appears we are treading on a tightrope high above a canyon.

The Olympic athletes this week have demonstrated to us the value in working hard and working toward.  They learned the practice of discipline long before they knew they would be part of the world competition.  Day after day of exercises,  monotonous laps back and forth, long lonely miles when muscles ached from fatigue, vigorously training as if it counted, continually building strength and falling exhausted every night.  Their Olympic dream – often captured as a youngster – is what drove them all those years to prepare for the Olympic team.   And when that rare opportunity to qualify arose, they were ready, skills honed, minds focused, muscles strengthened.  They knew how to nail the event because they had done the same thousands of times before-- over and over again when no one was even looking.

Even now-- in our work, service, loving others and loving God, studying and meditating on His Word, communing with Him—we are being equipped and prepared for that which is to come, those things which even now we cannot comprehend or imagine.  It is not that God is moving things into place, but He has done that already.  His opportunities for you are already prepared, that which is beyond your wildest dreams. 

Get ready.

Live expectantly.


What no eye has seen,

nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man conceived,

what God has prepared for those who love Him.

                              1 Corinthians 2.9

Saturday, August 4, 2012

His Fingerprints All Over It

God provides extraordinary protection and provision for us even on the most ordinary of days.  Most of the time, we just aren’t aware of it.  We may never even see it.

And sometimes we do.

About fifteen years ago, after a camping trip out West – I mean so remotely WEST that the buffalo roam, and the deer and the antelope play – we were on our way back to Iowa where we were living at the time.  Our old Suburban was packed to the brim with our four daughters and camping equipment.  My husband and I team-tagged the driving – one of us would crawl in back and sleep while the other drove, and then trade off every two hours.  In the middle of the night, in the vastness of Nebraska, it was my turn to drive.  As Bill got in the back, he advised, “You are going to need to stop in Grand Island to get gas.”  It was the next big town on the Interstate, which in Nebraska means, “Your only opportunity for gas for at least a hundred miles.”  “No problem,” I replied, as the four girls and Bill settled down for a deep sleep.

I watched the billboards for truck stops which were the only gas stations that would be open now after midnight.  But as I neared the exits for Grand Island, orange construction barrels created a confusing maze.  One exit was completely closed, and the other was disguised by construction equipment and oddly arranged barrels.  I drove past Grand Island before I knew it, but no problem, I had seen billboards for another exit just 30 miles away.  I could hear snoring in the back.

The “low fuel” light had been on for some time.  But confidently, I drove on.  I pulled off an exit which advertised two gas stations.  The ramp emerged into deep darkness.  No sign of life.  In the moonlight, I could see that one gas station looked like it had been out of business for years, with tree-like weeds growing through cracks in the pavement.  The other, dark and closed, appeared not so far behind.  Bill felt the slowing of the car, looked at the sub-EMPTY fuel indicator, and stated in a very quiet voice, “I have NEVER gone so low on fuel before.”  “There is another exit in 15 miles,” I said.  “We don’t have enough gas to go that far,” he stated.  “Let’s see if we can find a station open in town.”

We drove into scenic Aurora, Nebraska, literally a ghost town, no lights in any house, no indication of any life, even the dogs were asleep.  The town square looked eerily  like a movie set for a Western.  At this point, it was 2 a.m.  We were driving on fumes with our prospects for gas as empty as our tank.  We headed back to the Interstate, planning now to pull into the only available gas station and wait for them to open in the morning.

As we circled the desolate town hall, Bill spotted lights at an agricultural fuel co-op.   Bill swiped his credit card, but not being co-op members, we had no way to get gas.   Suddenly, out of the murky dark streets, a jeep careened into the station, a young man jumped out and started pumping gas into his vehicle.  Bill and I looked at each other in disbelief.

Bill asked the young man if he would swipe his co-op card so that we could get $20 of gas to get to the next truck-stop.  Bill gave him a twenty.  The young man swiped his card, and before Bill could even finish fueling, the jeep took off into the darkness.

“Was he REAL?”  we both said at once.  To this day, I firmly believe that was God’s supernatural provision at 2 a.m. in a tiny Western town, an angel driving a jeep – disguised in blue jeans and a t-shirt - his wings, I suppose, in the backseat with his hunting stuff.

God’s shield surrounds us.  He reminded me in the silence of a Nebraska night.  I live on His grace and His grace alone.


Your way was through the sea,

Your path through the great waters,

    yet Your footprints were unseen.

                               Psalm 77.19

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Know When To Close The Doors

When we lived in Memphis, the windows in our house were painted shut and thus deemed inoperable, an impenetrable barrier against the oppressive heat and humidity that only Memphis can offer.  From house to car to store, we lived in a state of air conditioning.  Ceiling fans decorated just about every room.   In the South, I quickly learned that if you wanted to do anything outside, you did it before 8 am.   I ran early.  And I sweated a lot.  By evening, the heat built up into a blast furnace.  The only thing moving outside was the hum of the cicadas’ chorale every night.   Bill’s mom grew up in southeast Alabama, not too far from the Florida stateline.  She said that as a little girl, sometimes it became so hot at night, they would all pile into the car and drive around with the windows down just to feel a breeze.

Where I live now, summer days get hot and sticky, but for the most part, it will cool down a bit at night.  There is nothing I enjoy more than to sleep with the windows open, feeling the soft cool air creeping in and waking to the sounds of songbirds.  The trick is to open the windows and the screenporch door at night to let in the cool air and then know when to close up the house before the heat invades in the morning.  That way, the house stays cool naturally for hours afterward.

As in many things in life, we need to know when to close the doors and latch the windows -- when a television show becomes a fixation, when a friendship isn’t healthy, when shopping or gossip becomes an obsession, or perhaps, when one is pulled toward questionable behaviors by one’s peers.  Know when to close the doors, batten down the hatches, and flee in the opposite direction.

These things may not be inherently bad, indeed, most things are good in moderation, but BEFORE it develops into a snakepit, a sheer cliff, an addiction, or an obsession (which the Old Testament would call an “idol”), it is time to recognize its power over your heart.  Know when to close the doors. 


All things are lawful for me,

but not all things are helpful.

All things are lawful for me,

but I will not be enslaved by anything.

                       1 Corinthians 6.12