Saturday, December 17, 2011


This is Dilly the duck.  She is the beloved rag of my daughter Anna.

Dilly used to be perfect and plush, but the longer she was "alive", the more beat-up she became.  She was dirty, smelly, riddled with holes and just pathetic to look at.  Dilly was so depleted of stuffing that she couldn't even hold her head up.

I tried to cover her up with yarn and a dress, but those measures weren't enough.  Dilly was going to disintegrate and soon.

But what to do?  Dilly was BELOVED and Anna's heart would break if Dilly couldn't be saved.

BUT... there was a perfect duck sitting on a shelf.  And this perfect duck was not too proud to give its skin for Dilly.

And so the operation began.  Here is Dilly in her hospital bed!  It took six hours of careful stitching.   Amazingly, Dilly still looked like Dilly.  She was full and whole again and Anna was very pleased indeed!

As I was doing the surgery, I couldn't get away from how this was a picture for my daughter of the salvation story.  In our sin, nothing could save us.  The dress of the law couldn't get to ugliness underneath.  And we were so beloved that something had to be done and was!

"I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.  For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness."  Isaiah 61:10

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Need God

My sister went to a website called Wordle which will take the words most used in your blog and make an image of them.  She was so moved (and so was I) to find that the words NEED GOD were dominant.

It has been very hard on Amanda and Craig to watch their little daughter Sophie endure so many surgeries.  It has been excruciating for them to be the ones inflicting pain through daily injections and cleaning of wounds.  And yet they have an awareness of God and His mercies through the very need of Him.

The problem of pain and suffering and evil conflicts many people about the goodness of God.  And yet, Christians' testimonies through the ages have always proclaimed that they would rather suffer with Him and see His provision then live halcyon days with little awareness of His presence.  Our hurts can be a severe mercy from the heart of a God who also suffered so that He could be near to us.

Joy cometh!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


You knew me when
I was less and more
Myself in nature
Virtues poor.

But Someone has been unmaking me,
Refining and restoring me.
He wrestles out the self will be
Immortal through eternity.

Years have passed
With many griefs,
And much joy,
Refined beliefs.

Blessed to find
I know you still.
Re-united by
His holy skill.

The Someone at the heart of me,
Dwells also in the source of thee.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


My sister lent me a book on gratitude last week:  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Wonderful reading.  She speaks of slowing time down by seeing the glory right before our eyes and being grateful.  Practicing presentness.  My sister gave me this book to read because it reminded her of how I live (what a compliment!) and it is true that I notice small glories on a daily basis.  I take the time to marvel in the iridescence of insects, how sunlight falls on my daughter's hair, and I worship God when I chop an array of colorful vegetables.  When I wake in the middle of the night and Andy's as warm as a brick oven, I listen to his steady breathing and I'm thankful.  I know I won't always have those moments; all things are taken away.

But now I am getting to the hard part of gratitude: being thankful in ALL things.  That is where peace dwells and it is a hard discipline to learn.  Two summers ago, I was very ill.  I could do nothing for about a week.  Time crawled.  I cried.  Utterly miserable.  I still want to cry now when I think about that long week and how sick I felt in my soul.  But the oddest thing happened.  As I lay there unable to hardly be, I started praying with the most sincere gratitude I had ever experienced.  I was so thankful for air-conditioning!  Toilets!  Water that ran from a faucet!  What a marvel that machines had plucked fluffs of Egyptian cotton, worked it into strands and their softness and smoothness was soothing me now.  And it went on from there:  I was overcome by all my days of health and wealth, the love in my life, the goodness all around. 

My mother and I have the best talks.  I shared this experience with her and how odd it all seemed to me.  She said it was the Spirit of God in me helping me get through that week.  Could it be?  If He wanted to help me, why didn't He just help me feel better?  Of course, I know the answer to that - God is not up there working to keep me happy every second.  He has deeper plans in mind.  He knew that in time I would treasure that memory.  He helped me in a way that still soothes the broken places in my soul.

I have one of those sensitive constitutions that become nauseous and ill fairly easily.  Stress, noise, headaches - for some reason this causes my insides to melt.  Last month, I was feeling overcome by my body at Walmart and I remembered: gratitude.  I took deep breaths and thanked God for the abundance on those supermarket shelves.  And it helped.  He was near and He was present and I was grateful.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Last month in New York City, a woman died at 104 years of age.  She was a recluse and in fact had cloistered herself in a small hospital room for 20+ years despite being in good health.  She lived under an anonymous name and no one from outside the hospital were allowed in to see her.  Even her lawyer had to speak with her through the door.  She had isolated herself decades before - the last known photograph of her is from 1930, and she lived in her apartment playing with dolls, strumming on the harp, and watching the Flintstones.

Huguette Clark was an heiress.  Her wealth was speculated to be at around 500 million dollars.  She owned the largest apartment on 5th avenue and several mansions that have been kept immaculate for decades and she never visited them. 

When I heard her story (or rather, lack of one), I was bewildered.  How could someone choose to waste all that wealth?  She could have been like the Gates and started foundations.  She could have traveled!!!  At the very least, she could have had lavish parties and enjoyed her wealth.  Did she not understand that it wasn't healthy or normal to be so isolated?  Didn't she want her life to matter to someone?

This summer, I am doing a Beth Moore Bible study entitled Breaking Free.  We are tasked with understanding that "a christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for her."

Each of us in Christ is promised the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, a hope, the riches of his glorious inheritance and His incomparably great power.  We are created for good works, we are promised a spiritual gift, we have the mind of Christ.  We are adopted as His sons, we have redemption through his blood, and forgiveness of sins.  We are more than conquerors; we've been given the armor of God and we can call Him "Abba, Father." 

When I reflect on  these "treasures" available to me, I hunger to live up to them.  I don't want "wasted" years of captivity.  I wonder if the angels in heaven are envious of us, of our endless riches through Christ, and then they shake their heads in dismay when we ignore these gifts bought at such a great cost. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

I've been vaguely uneasy since school let out.  We have been busy. Everyone has been happy and well, but there's been an undercurrent of something amiss and today I think I know what it is.

My children are restless.

Gone are the routines that give structure to their day.  Our workload is drastically less and so is the "running around town getting things done."  I've been looking forward to it all year.  "Finally," I thought, "time to do all my projects, dig into the books I want to read, clear my head..."

Instead, I find myself appeasing them all day long.  Play dates, movies, ice cream, computer.  It is all fun and games and if there is any lag in the entertainment, well, they don't know what to do with themselves.  They crave but they don't know for what.

This has got to be a common problem today.  In the past, children worked.  They helped their family survive.  They had purpose.

Obviously, I know my children have purpose.  But do they know it?  Surely there is more to parenting than keeping them safe and entertained until 18, 21, 25? 

I think I've done a decent job parenting thus far.  I can pretty much guarantee that my children will grow up to be moral, law-abiding, productive citizens.  But I need to make a shift and go deeper.  It is time for them to start owning their faith and thinking about more important things than the Disney channel.

Those of you who have walked before me - I would love your ideas and insights.  Most parenting books address a child's behavior, but rarely address their heart.  I really want to look back on this summer as a time of sifting out some of the distractions.  Thank you!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

His Holy Hands

I am He; I am the first and the last.  My own hand laid the foundations of the earth and my right hand spread out the heavens.  Isaiah 48:13

Our hands are amazing!  They are sensitive and perform all kinds of complex tasks from surgery to playing Bach.  And it is with our hands that we express so much of our love for others.  I looked up "hands" in the Bible concordance and found numerous entries of how God expressed his love for us by his mighty hand.  He even has our name engraved on his palm. 

Today, during practice for our Easter performance, I was stricken again about what my Jesus suffered for me on the cross.  A young man from our church had the humbling job of reenacting Jesus on the cross.  As he hung there, unable to use his hands, I was struck by how much self-comfort we give ourselves through our hands.  We rub out aches and wipe away sweat.  We use our arms and hands to curl up in when we feel threatened, forsaken, wounded, broken.  We dash away our tears and cover our faces with our hands.   Our Jesus could do none of these things.  He was denied even a small measure of self-comfort.  It made me so sad.  It made me want to go back in time and climb up to him on the cross and cleanse his bloodied face and back.   Suddenly, I could closely identify with the women who rushed at dawn to Jesus' tomb to minister to his body. 

During a road trip last week,  my daughter and I listened to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  It was such a pleasure to me to hear the story again with adult ears.  After Aslan arose from the dead and showed himself to Susan and Lucy, they had a romp in the young day.   Lewis describes a most delirious time of running and leaping and roaring and laughing.  As I was listening to this chapter, it occurred to me that Aslan really had a lot to do.  The White Witch was at large with her horrible stone-making wand and Aslan was running around in a meadow with children. 

Mary Magdalene found Jesus near his tomb and mistook him for a gardener.  It made me wonder - just what was he doing?  Was he drinking in the fragrance of spring flowers?  Was he sitting on a rock and marveling in the sunrise?  Did his face glow with that ruddy health that children and people who work outside have - an awareness of the miracle of life?  Jesus wasn't running in a panic to his disciples and immediately setting everyone to work.  He was communing with his Father in a garden because He had already overcome the world.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Thief in the Night

Three times in my life I have been awakened out of a deep sleep believing that Jesus was returning.  The first time was ten years ago.  It was the middle of a cloudy night and the clouds must have suddenly broken up to reveal a full moon.  That moon was like a spotlight on my pillow and its full bright light woke me up.  In those first incoherent moments I felt no fear, just wondering anticipation.  Later, I was glad about my lack of fear for I felt that this marked me as someone at peace with God.

The second time occurred when the earthquake woke all of Vincennes.  The Second Coming was just one of the many possibilities that flew through my disoriented mind.  No one expects an earthquake in Southern Indiana.

At 2:45am on Tuesday it happened again.  An enormous clap of thunder boomed right over our house.  It sounded like the fabric of the sky had been rent in two.  Andy also woke up and the kids rushed into our room.  I wish I could express with words the feeling of holy terror that came over me.  My limbs were shaking from the adrenaline that coursed through my veins.  We all clung to each other for a few moments because there was no other sound - no rain, no wind, no lightening - nothing to suggest that this was just a normal thunderstorm. But after those few minutes, a gentle rain started and thunder rumbled in the distance and with relief we all went back to bed.

I've been thinking about that holy terror I experienced for a day now.  What has stuck with me was this sense that I didn't have any right to my life.  If Jesus had just set His feet down on the Mount of Olives, well then, that was His right.  My plans for tomorrow were of no consequence.  My hopes for my young children didn't matter.  There was to be no whining, no excuses and certainly no arguments that this was a really inconvenient time for Him to make His appearance.  For the first time in my walk with Christ, I really am experiencing that He is Lord in a way that is cutting through some of the "nicer" sentiments like He is Love or He is Good. 

It is Easter week and we have a resurrected Lord. Revelation 19 shows us a picture of what our resurrected Lord is like today:

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood and his name is the Word of God.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  He will rule them with an iron scepter.  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

What a reminder to keep working out my salvation with fear and trembling!
Come, Lord Jesus.  Come.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Boldness and Simplicity

During my last vacation, my family of 15 attended a small Nazarene church.  We probably increased attendance by 25%.  Those dear people were so hospitable.  One older lady came over to our pew and gave each of us a separate verse from a notepad.  The pastor and his wife spoke personally with each family before the service started.  It was just good to be in the house of the Lord. 

Music was simple, choruses and piano.  The pastor's wife led music, taught adult Sunday school, and gave an intimate talk about what God had done in her life that week.  She was young, and had the kind of prettiness that comes from a joyful face and I couldn't keep my eyes off her.

This week, I watched a promotional video by Rob Bell for his new book.  The video was edgy, understated, and artsy.  He was cool and conversational, musing aloud deep questions about God that his book will supposedly answer.

Rob Bell is not much older than me.  He lives in my hometown, went to Wheaton College like me, and leads a church of 10,000 souls.  He is bold and charismatic and undeniable cool.  But his message was heresy and he was even wiley enough to phrase his message in questions so that he couldn't be pinned down.

I'm bugged by the whole thing.  Why do false prophets get glorified and the lovely souls that flower quietly in small places get no recognition.  Is it the smallness that keeps them lovely?  Rob Bell may be wrong but he is bold.  Does boldness count?  Would God spit him out for being lukewarm?

This is what I will be contemplating while traveling today.  I would love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Flowers That Don't Fade

The disciples came to Jesus asking, "Who gets the highest rank in God's kingdom?"
For an answer, Jesus called over a child and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.  Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom."  Taken from The Message - Matthew 18

Only my girls were home on Friday night.  We watched a movie and then I tucked them in bed and curled up downstairs to knit.  I had twenty minutes of peace and then Anna is loitering downstairs.  She is rummaging through the kitchen cupboards and asking me innocently if "I can see what the basement is like at night?"  I indulge her and then minutes later, I hear her digging through the dining room drawers.  Something was up.  I ask her to explain herself.  She calls to Katelyn to see if she is allowed to.  Silence from Kate.  I told her to GO TO BED!

Anna had a bloody nose in the wee hours, so I saw the disaster her room had become after I had tucked her in.  Papers, scissors, glue, tape, straws and my crystal vases were strewn around the room.  So much for reading quietly before sleep.

The next morning as I am still lying in bed, I hear doors crashing open, girls dashing full speed down the hall, and girls slamming doors shut.  Then, silence.

I rise and drink my coffee in peace.  After a while, the girls sedately come down for breakfast.  I return to my room to get ready for the day.  My bed was magically made.  My clothes had been picked up and sitting perkily on the dresser was the cutest bouquet of paper flowers and a love note.

Every christian parent glimpses how much our Father must love us from the very first moment that we hold our squalling, red-faced infant.  What is harder to learn is that we must love Him like little children.  Sophistication doesn't impress him.  But enthusiasm does.  Wholeheartedness does.  Simplicity does.  And sweet, happy praise.

I went down to hug my girls and bless them with my thanks.  Kate said, "Those flowers will never fade or die!"  It made me wonder if God has a few "bouquets" from me that will be forever imperishable.    Let us all give Him a fragrant offering today.