Monday, December 23, 2013

Herein is Love

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”—1 John 4:10

“We love him, because he first loved us.”—1 John 4:19

Snowflakes on the ground. Colored lights on frosted windows. Wreaths hung and trees decorated.* Families visiting. Cookies baked. Presents wrapped. Fires lit. Dinners cooked. And hot chocolate sipped.

‘Tis the Season of this annual festival of joy that brings back warm memories of times spent in laughter, wonder and closeness with those who are nearest our hearts. (I know this may not be the case for everyone, and I hope that for them, each year, their hearts heal a little more.)

It has also come to be the time in which Christians traditionally reflect on our Savior’s birth. How He was born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger—a scene that is illustrated in myriad ways across the globe, in church plays, humble scripture readings, and in simple crèches in homes and on lawns. 

This is the true meaning of the season for many. With that said, I recently read an article about how Christ was not really born on this day (something I have heard before), but that He was most likely incarnated in Mary’s womb around this time (something I have not heard before). So, December 25 could have been the moment that God became flesh for us. What a tremendous thought and a glorious thing to celebrate!

There is yet another theme I am reflecting on this particular season: love, specifically God’s love for us and our love for God and others. God’s love for us can be summed up upon reading the passages I chose to begin this devotion above, in addition to probably the most popular verse in the New Testament:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16

The best section of Scripture, in my estimation, about how our love should be toward others is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

We can be the most eloquent of speakers proclaiming the truth, and yet, if we have not love in the proclamation, we speak as the clinging of brass instruments. Not a pretty sound at all! (1 Corinthians 13:1)

We can have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have all faith, and yet without charity, we are nothing and our works are nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)

We can sell all that we have to feed the poor and we can sacrifice our bodies to be burned, and yet, without love, those things do not profit us. They become empty sacrifices. (1 Corinthians 13:3)

And then, if those things are not convicting enough, there is more we ought to know about how charity is expressed through us:

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”—1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Two areas resonate to me especially: “Charity suffereth long (or is long suffering) … [and] is not easily provoked.”

Goodness, how just those two descriptions of charity convict me and show me I have a lot to learn in my Christian love. See, I know I am often impatient with others, and I get mad hastily, often with the slightest provocation.

I know I have grown much in this area, mainly because of and through my relationship with my husband. He has been a great teacher and guide for me in these areas. But I don’t want to stop growing. I want to be more loving, more charitable, toward others than I have ever before.

Would not that be the greatest present I could give to my family and loved ones during this season of giving?

It would simply be a small reflection of the love Christ has shown all of us when He became flesh and bore the penalty of our sins upon Himself through His death on the cross, so that we could be justified freely and fully to live eternally with Him.

Lord Jesus, may those same words You used Paul to write in 1 Corinthians 13 be written on the tablets of my heart, so that You may ever and always be glorified in me, not just this one time of the year, when many of us gather together to celebrate the moment You became flesh or the day You were born.

 (*I mean no disrespect to my brothers and sisters in Christ who believe strongly against decorating trees based on their reading of Jeremiah 10. I respect their freedom of conscience. I also respect the freedom of conscience of those who do not have that belief.)

Cal Poly Poinsettias (San Luis Obispo, CA)

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Resting Place

“And the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them.”—Numbers 10:33b

With Thanksgiving drawing near, and along with that, menus to create, shopping lists to make, and chores to do, this season’s busyness may eclipse something very important God wants us to know or, rather, something He wants us to remember: His glorious work in our lives.

My husband and I are participating in a small group at the church we are attending. Over the last couple months, we have met every other week. We have prayed for one another, gotten to know one another, and discussed the Sunday sermons and its themes and how they apply to our lives.

Last night, we broke off into two smaller groups, and a beautiful thing happened in our midst. We each shared our testimonies. We shared salient points in our spiritual journey that led us to Jesus, and the moment we came to faith in Him, each of us coming to Him through different circumstances. 

Some came to faith quietly, others with great drama, and still others somewhere in between.

In that beautiful time of sharing, though, I remembered something so very precious I had forgotten in my own testimony. It was not the story of my faith in Christ but the beginning of my story in how I came to give my life to Him, when I became His disciple.

It began when I had sought counseling from my family’s pastor in my early twenties because I had “blown” it with that same family. I had crossed the line in my anger and disrespect toward them, and I knew I needed help. As I was sitting in this pastor’s living room, he began sharing a story from Scripture. I thought he might as well have been speaking Greek as I was so unused to Biblical names and the formal style of Biblical writing. That did not matter though, because the Holy Spirit removed a dark veil from my understanding and deposited truth into my heart that broke me. In less than an hour, I knew my sin. I knew I had a problem with authority and that was the “root” error in my life and the source of many of my poor decisions. I knew it was a result of my parents’ divorce and the broken boundaries that resulted. I knew it was not my fault, which gave me a tremendous amount of consolation and comfort. What was my fault and would continue to be my fault, though, was how I would choose to live my life in light of my problem with authority.

When I left this wonderful pastor’s home (he did become my pastor, by the way, and he was a man God used to grow me and mold me into the Christian I am today), I remember walking to my car and having this sense of vulnerability I had not experienced for a long time. It was as if my heart that had been hardened over the years had finally softened and became open to the love of God for me. At the same time, God healed me in that He gave me the ability to forgive my father, who I was the most hurt by, as he was the one who left our family and started this cascade of unfortunate events in my life that were out of my control.

It was the most beautiful thing, and sadly, I had forgotten it. I did not forget Him giving me the gift of His forgiveness toward my dad, but I forgot being broken through His Word sitting in my soon-to-be pastor’s living room. I forgot that beautiful feeling of vulnerability after so many years of being hard.

Well, this Thanksgiving, I want to remember how God brought me to my “resting place.” I want to remember how much He loves me and how much He sought me out and cleaned up my life in order to experience His love with a pure conscience. My sins had become such a heavy load, and I was nearing the moment I would repent of those sins and lay my life down at His feet to do with it what He will. But before the moment I gave my life to Him, Jesus had allowed me to truly feel His life in me for which I am thankful.

I encourage you to reflect on your journey with the Lord and remember a time you clearly felt His work in your life. Ask Him to show you a detail you may have forgotten and thank Him for what He has done for you.

And have a marvelous Thanksgiving!

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”—James 2:17

Park Bench in Onesti, Romania
(May 2005)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

His Way is Perfect

 (Originally Written March 6, 2007)

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”—Deuteronomy 32:4
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.”—2 Samuel 22:31
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.”—Psalm 18:30
How much more of an end to complaining about what is happening and what is not happening in my life do I need in these verses? I think, I’m 33, and single, and childless. But, “His way is perfect.” I am living at home with mom, making reasonably good money, resettling into American life at a nice pace after coming back from two years in Romania … but, I’m NOT so many things. Again, “His way is perfect.” I am only an assistant at a TV station … “His way is perfect.” I’m not serving Him on the mission field in any capacity like I had envisioned myself doing when I believe God called me to the field … nor do I really have the burden to do that again right now.
“His way is perfect.”
Oh my soul, can you not make these verses the meditation of your heart should you go through another low moment? Remind yourself of His perfection in your life when you dream the big plans, but God’s door does not seem to open on the future you had originally envisioned for yourself.
Oh, my soul, beg God for wisdom and discernment and the capacity to remain spiritual and weed out those things that are stunting your growth.
Lord, help me and mold me into the image You have for me, and help me be contented and pleased to find that Your way is ever right ….ever beautiful … and ever perfect.
I love You so very much and am so glad You are a part of my life. And that I am a part of Yours. Help the meditations of my heart as I lay my head on the pillow be filled with these thoughts tonight … and warmed by the brightness of Your love for me.
Fast forward to November 20, 2013, and I can truly say all my waiting and my trusting God have led me to the “desires of my heart.” Today, at 40, I have been married for just over three years to a wonderful man, and we are raising a beautiful little girl. I do not know where we are going from here, but I do know, yes, “His way is perfect.”
Morro Bay, CA

Monday, November 11, 2013

Made Perfect by the Flesh?

“Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
Galatians 3:3

“For the just shall live by faith.”Galatians 3:11b

I have been thinking about how Christians down through the ages have slipped into the thinking that somehow, even though we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ, we need to continue in the flesh to be justified before Him.

I believe some born-again Christians slip into it with the idea that they can “lose” their salvation if they forsake their faith or sin a sin that can remove their salvation in Christ. (I may be oversimplifying here for the sake of brevity. Forgive me. I mean no disrespect to my brothers and sisters in Christ that hold this view. I only mean to illustrate how I believe this is one way, in my opinion based on what I read from Scripture, we can slip into a justified-by-the-flesh mentality.)

I also believe Biblical fundamentalists of all kinds can get caught up in the trap of believing that separation from the world proves they are justified before God. What I mean is someone can have the conviction that the ladies in their family should wear skirts. In so doing, the flesh has a tendency to view others who do not share in that conviction as somehow less justified in God’s eyes. And vice versa. Those who do not hold that conviction can look down on those who do. Both are wrong, in my view, and I believe an application of Romans 14 fits here. (Again, I am oversimplifying for the sake of brevity. I believe there are those who have that particular conviction but do not have the belief that they are better than another, as well I believe there are those who do not have that conviction but who are kind and respectful to those that do.)

For me, I have a tendency (which is just a bad habit) of looking on the outward choices of an individual and then making harsh and critical judgments about his or her walk with God. One such example is the way I look down on those who do not have a commitment to attending the Lord’s house regularly. I believe they are backslidden and not walking with the Lord, which may be the case, but unfortunately, I don't stop there. I condemn them for their “deficiency” in their walk with God, which is not spiritual at all, and judge them harshly, even sometimes getting angry toward them. This is so wrong, and I can see that it is wrong when I read 2 Timothy 2:24-26, the passage on being a gentle servant.

When I step back and look at the whole person, whom I condemned, I feel so ashamed because I can see they are more advanced (for lack of a better word) in other areas of the Christian life, areas that I am continuing to work on, such as my temper, for the sake of honest disclosure.

There are so many examples I can go into. Suffice it to say, I think what I am learning is that none of us is perfect and none of us can be made perfect by following “law” or rules for our flesh. While some of these self-prescribed rules are beneficial and rest on Scriptural principles and personal convictions God has directed us to, we are not made perfect in them and we are not justified by them. I think the Lord is trying to tell me that I need to understand that to walk with Him is to Walk in the Spirit, not the flesh, period. Principles of separation and principles toward holiness are the result, but they should never be the goal for my own justification.

God has justified me already. I do not have to do one thing to keep it, to earn it, and to prove it.

Dear Lord, help me to learn more about what it means to Walk in the Spirit and to be justified by faith, and let the fruits of my walk be as they should be, from the heart in obedience to what You show me on my journey.

Luang Prahbang, Laos. (2000)

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Yet I Will Trust Him

 “He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him...”2 Kings 18:5-7a
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: 
but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”
Job 13:15

Several Thanksgiving's ago, when I was in Romania, there was a terrible accident that happened to my pastor's family there. They were cutting wood with a planer, and the daughter's mitten had gotten stuck in the planer. As a result, her hand wound up going through it, too. The mother had called me to explain the accident, and I remember being stunned at the turn of events. Soon after, the family went to the states to get the physical care needed to restore as much of the daughter's hand as possible. There was much good that happened as a result of this tragic event in this family, and for me personally, it was a moment in my Christian life where I experienced Job 13:15, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him.” I remember God giving me this verse at the time, as my heart, as well as the heart of the church family there, was heavy with sorrow for them. Yet, God spoke to me this verse to comfort me, but also as a request to still trust Him, despite circumstances. The family certainly displayed this characteristic of Job during this trial.

Yet, there is another element to trusting God, persevering in doing right despite the difficulties that may come. Our difficulties may not even be the result of doing right, but simply a turn in the road God has foreordained. While such a turning can lead one to give up on God and His ways, Hezekiah and Job showed us in these Scriptures how we should continue to trust in God and to continue to maintain our walks before Him.

He is pure, where we are not. He knows the end from the beginning, when we don't. We often fail, and He never fails. We are to trust Him, no matter what.

I think of my own walk. How that little things can easily persuade me to slacken in my walk with God. I view others and what I see God doing or not doing in their lives, and wonder, is it worth the effort? This godly living. This passion for purity before the Lord.

Then I think of His sweet fellowship and times of refreshing communion. I know that if I resist Him and His leading in my life, the sweetness of my relationship with Him is less. I know He loves me the same yesterday, today and forever, but because I am but flesh, I feel the ups and downs of my closeness with Him because of the way I react to the events of my day. The way I trust Him or don't trust Him.

Lord, You are so gracious to us, and we don't even know just how much so. You are patient with our frailties, when we are not patient with our own. You love us, despite ourselves. For that I am so grateful. Thank You for this lesson in trust, and please, my Savior, help me to persevere despite the turns in the road, so that our communion will be sweet in the good times and the bad times.

“I will trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.”—Psalm 52:8b

Damaged Gypsy Home in Conti, Romania
Taken after the Flood of 2005

(August 2005)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Search Me, O God

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”—Psalm 139:23-24

A personalized prayer on Psalm 139:23-24, inspired by a Bible study I'm doing on guilt and motherhood.

Dear Heavenly Father-

Please examine me gently and tenderly, as only You can, and expose areas in my life that harm me and others. When my daughter does something foolish (and sinful—as young as she is) I want to lovingly and gently, yet firmly, guide her out of harm's way. I want to be honest with her, as much as that may upset her, and lead her to actions and attitudes that are correct and that will benefit and not harm her or others.

This is what I ask of You.

I know You are my loving Father and You care for me more than anyone else. I love You. Hold me close, as You gently move me to being a better person, that person You made me to be, as You are my Creator.

Mold me and fashion me, most of all, into Your Image.

With Love,

The Fall in Spokane, WA (2013)

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Sweet Savor

 “A sweet savour unto the LORD.”Leviticus 1:9b

“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.”2 Corinthians 2:15
The Bible has a lot to say about sacrifices, offerings and atonement in both the Old and New Testaments. Some of it is very dry reading and quite gruesome, but the truths these verses express are anything but dull, especially when we ponder that the ultimate sacrifice was the one Christ did of Himself on our behalf, when He bled, suffered and died in our stead for the just punishment of every sin that has ever been committed (and will be committed) since Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden.

Unfortunately, not everyone who has ever lived has accepted that free and precious gift of Jesus' death on the cross. And the hell that was created solely for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41) has to enlarge itself each time a person dies without believing on Jesus and receiving His forgiveness of sins (Isaiah 5:14). In other words, they never received the sweet savor of Christ's sacrifice on their behalf. That savor that only Christ can offer, that goes up to the throne in Heaven, before God the Father, on our behalf.

Praise the Lord that there are many from every tribe, kindred, and language, who do believe in Jesus. They go before God the Father in Heaven and become “a sweet savour of Christ” to Him. That picture is so beautiful to me because it has nothing to do with my worth or my unworthiness. It has nothing to do with what country I live in or who my parents are. It has everything to do with Christ, Who He is and what He's done.

Which brings me to the heart of what I want to say on these verses above. When reading Leviticus 1:9 the other day, it occurred to me that I want to be a sweet savor to my Lord Jesus. I want to grow more in His image. I want my works to express the truths of His Word, the results of which become a sweet smell rising to Heaven under the nose of my Savior.

What this means for me is that I think it is time for a season of consecration to the Lord, when I sacrifice myself on the altar of His love and make myself open and available to be molded and changed into the person He wants me to be. This may hurt. This may show me sins I have yet to see and repent of.

I know this will be hard work, but this will be work He does in my life to bring me closer to Him, which is something I so desire.

After all, it is my reasonable service unto Him for all He's done for me. (Romans 12:1)

St.Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Czech Republic
(August 2005)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Ordinary and Write

Below are two Five Minute Friday prompts. This week was off the word ordinary, and last week's was off the word write. The two fit nicely together, so I thought I'd post them both.



When I was younger, I wanted to be anything but ordinary. I dreamed big and had aspirations that I imagine a lot of young people do.

When I was small, that dream was to be a ballet dancer. They were so beautiful with their graceful lines and delicate movement. Yes, that's what I wanted to be.

Then, it was to be an English teacher, even though I really was not very good at writing. Grammar, well that was another story.

The dreams began to fade for a while. I was just happy if I could make it to adulthood with as few emotional scars as possible. Lots of turmoil in those days, growing up. My high school years. And I was not quiet about it, turning some of my friends off with constant complaining.

Fast forward to Jesus, and my dreams were put into His hands. He lifted my view of the ordinary and guided me to a dream of a family. A husband. Children. And a church family to step in and become that stability I had so long needed in my life.

But during the first days with Jesus, He allowed me to dream about becoming a screen writer or a director or a writer or a photographer. I explored all those avenues until I graduated from college.

Since His dream for me of a family was not presenting itself, as quickly as I had thought, I began to live daily in the moments He provided me.

And my days have been anything but ordinary.

(The italicized portion was written after my “Five” minutes.)

Stehekin, WA(2008)



For as long as I can remember, I did not want to be a writer. I was actually a quite terrible writer. I couldn't get my words to say what I intended them to say going to school, and so, I was into math, science, physics even. Then, something changed in my 10th grade English class. I wrote a paper on the topic of Sarcasm. And I got an A-. An A-! Those were the grades for my other classes … and yet, I did always have a penchant for grammar, being dubbed the grammar goddess in a successive English class only missing one or two out of 100 total questions. Yes, pride is an ugly thing, but I do think for me, it's nice to remember a bit of my history since so much has changed in my life these last three years.

But writing … who would have guessed that was going to play such a large role in my future? And it does. Today, that writing has taken on the form of pithy facebook statuses or an occasional heart-felt journal entry that I can turn into a devotion on my blog. Praise God for His guidance and gifting for that.

Lately, though, writing has taken the form of reading. I cannot believe how many books I have read this year. My mom gave me her Kindle, and it was all she wrote, so to speak. I have been reading so many words, so many thoughts on the pages of other writer's dreams. And I have been lifted again, to dream of that book that someday I hope to write, its words and topic still unknown to me, but brewing ever so gently in the background of my days.

(The italicized portion was written after my “Five” minutes.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Job's Vulnerability

“And he sat down among the ashes.”Job 2:8b

Job was not scared to be vulnerable with God. His thoughts, his words, and his actions seem to regularly come from a vulnerable place when I read his story. His relationship with God was natural—truer and deeper than anything I have personally experienced.

I think of my fleshly vessel, how I often placate it, nourish it with treats, and give it pleasure at the cost of my walk with God. When it comes to my spirit, I starve it and put it in a corner to be avoided, so hopefully God will not see what I am doing to it. (How foolish!)

Job seemed to surrender to the events of his life with such painful grace. I do not think it was easy for him, which is why I believe he is mentioned in Scripture with high praise along with Noah and Daniel, as men who could only save themselves (and not anyone else) with their own righteousness, if that were possible. (Ezekiel 14:14)

I do not think he rebelled. He did question God’s reasons behind allowing all the bad things to happen, and he did feel sorry for himself. But he came forth as gold because, for one thing, he fed his spirit with the things of God prior to his world turning upside down. His relationship with God was on solid ground, and when Job needed to rest on his faith, he had a mountain of spiritual strength behind him to lean upon. This strength did not come from him, but from the One he had a relationship with, His Savior.

I believe if we nourished our spiritual life with Christ regularly, we would live a full and abundant life, despite the circumstances that come our way. I believe we would have an honest and natural relationship with Christ, in which we could approach Him from our places of vulnerability, just as Job did. I believe our daily activities would be clothed with the heavenly and the view of the world around us would be grounded in the Bible.

Life is not black and white. There is much grey in the in between moments that make up our lifetimes. We do not live in perfection here on earth. Job did not either. He had much to repent of at the end of his story. But what he did right, I believe, was he had a close relationship with God before, during and after his great trial.

Truly, God filled his cup.
Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.
From “Fill My Cup, Lord” by Richard Blanchard

Taken in Harmony, CA.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Little by Little

“I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.”—Exodus 23:39-30

I don't know about you, but sometimes I can get so frustrated praying because that prayer request is not being answered on my time schedule. Above is a good portion of Scripture for me to keep in mind when my frustration level boils too high. I am human and fully admit to my lack of understanding of God's time frame when I don't experience immediate answers. Most of us, as His children, know that God is loving and kind and works all things together for good for those that love Him. (Romans 8:28) And yet, we get frustrated, confused, and easily discouraged if we don't see the answers we are looking for to our prayers right after we pray them.

Then, like a breath of fresh air, God can kindly and gently guide us into the truth of what He's doing by delaying the answer. Like He said to Israel about inheriting the Promised Land in the book of Exodus, this promise's fulfillment was not going to come right away, or even speedily. And He blessed them further with the explanation why, so that they can increase in numbers before they take over the land and so that the beasts of the field would not overrun the desolate land thereby making it uninhabitable for them.

In fact, He was going to approach His promise little by little.

Well, I think the same can be applied to our prayer requests that are Biblical and in His will and yet not answered within our time frames.

This passage above comforts me in this truth. I begin to understand that God is Sovereign and sees the end from the beginning. We do not. He is the Master Potter, molding and shaping us in preparation for our desired answer. We are not. He can change hearts and fertilize the ground upon which our prayer requests can be accomplished. We cannot. He alone knows what He's doing in our lives and in the lives of those around us. However, sometimes, in His precious love and kindness, He lets us get a glimpse behind the scenes. When that happens, I need to purpose to rest in Him for the answers and to never give up praying for the things desired, trusting that He will guide my prayers toward their expected end.

Thank You, Jesus, for Your Word, and the way it equips me to keep pressing on.

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”
Proverbs 13:12

Spokane, WA (June 2013)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Five Minute Friday: She

She, who is my daughter. With her chocolate brown eyes and deep brown curls. With her crinkle nose smiles and her fake whines. With her cuddles in blankets and games of up and down and peek-a-boo. She, who is my daughter, I'm falling in love with everyday. One minute my eyes will be on the computer screen deciphering an email from a co-worker, and the next minute they are resting on my daughter as she plays face down on the carpet in our “office” underneath her blanket—her first fort.

At first, I didn't feel that overwhelming love for her. At first, she felt like an inconvenience, yes one that was wanted, but an inconvenience just the same. But she, who is my daughter, is teaching me what it means to love unconditionally. She, who is my daughter, loves her mommy, and in return, I want to love her as I am meant to. I know this love cannot be without our Divine Savior because only in Him is perfect love. Daily, I take this journey with my daughter, and with our hands intertwined, we will walk toward a more perfect love for one another.

Me and my little girl.
(April 2013)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

He Washes Our Feet

“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.”—John 13:3-5

I have been meditating on this topic for over two weeks now, believing that this was to be the subject of my next devotion. Time got away from me, though, and what I probably should have written a while ago, I’m only getting to today. I kept thinking, “How am I going to approach this section of Scripture that just shouts from the housetops that Jesus loves us so very much? How can I share with others what has affected me profoundly, when I don’t even have the ability to express all the riches and depth of knowledge I receive from this portion of Scripture? Lord, will You help me?”

And so, I begin to read this passage again and notice very quickly how Jesus had all things in His possession, as well as knew Who He was and where He was going. He draws me to Himself with His cords of love here because He knows He is God, and yet, He humbles Himself to serve His disciples. Since I am His and a disciple, I believe this is like saying He humbles Himself to serve me.

So, does that mean He lays aside His garments, girds Himself with a towel, pours water into a basin and begins to wash my feet, today? I say, absolutely, in a Spiritual sense. I believe Jesus is in Heaven caring so very much about me and my walk in this life. He cares about my sanctification and growth in Him and from time to time He “washes” my feet. He gently and directly goes to the source of what’s making my attitude, my choices, and my thoughts filthy, and cleans it away. Then I begin, again, to walk on this road of life, and He’s there waiting for me to yield to Him “my feet” for the next cleansing that will most certainly be needed. Did not Peter even have to realize that the cleansing cannot come unless we surrender ourselves to Him?

I can’t look at this section of Scripture and not see His overwhelming love and humility toward us, and how that by His example, we are to have the same mind toward others.

“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.—John 13:14-16

Lord, this is just my small take-a-way from such a glorious passage. Please give those that read this Scripture something uniquely for them. Please show them clearly, just how much you love them, too. In Your Precious and Wonderful Name, Amen. 

Budapest, Hungary
(January 2005)

Monday, September 09, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Red

I know I've written about her before, even on my blog. But her eyes stand out and always will. I can only be in awe of the depth of the look she gave me those years ago, after the “great” flood of Onesti, when my church family went to give a puppet Bible lesson to all the children in her village. She stunned me with her look and behind her was a boy, barely older than her looking off into the distance at just the right moment, when my finger touched the button that set in motion their capture on my camera.

That red sweater. How old was it? Where did it come from? Was it in the dumpster behind one of the many bloc apartment buildings when mom or dad went scavenging for anything of value to keep their family fed? I didn't look that closely, but I imagine it was frayed and filthy, nothing like the beauty of her face … of her innocence.

It was that look in her eyes that captivated me before, and it will always be the look in her eyes that keeps my attention in the years to come. She was beautiful. This little girl. A gypsy. An innocent.

Miora (Conti, Romania)
July 2005

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

I Stand Amazed

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”Isaiah 53:5

“The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: 
so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.”Proverbs 20:30

“Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.”Luke 22:7

Christ, our Passover Lamb. The One Who was wounded, afflicted, and killed for our healing. When I take a look at that picture, I am deeply moved by Jesus Christ and what He's done for me. He is just so awesome, and I don't mean to use that word with today's casual meaning. I mean awesome as in He is beyond my human comprehension. And yet, in such simple language full of grace and truth, God explains to us in Scripture all He did for us, when He became flesh and blood and at the conclusion of that life here on earth, how that He suffered and died for us.

I stand amazed!

Let me look to Jesus often. He is the One my Christianity is all about. Not forms or traditions, although if those are biblical and bring me closer to the Savior, I believe those have wisdom in them. (Colossians 2:20-23)

A good start for me is to read Isaiah 53, a beautiful passage of scripture that prophecies the coming Savior to man. When I read that passage, I am struck by the section that reads, “We have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6b). When I read that in context to all He's done on my behalf, offering me a new start—free and full forgiveness for all my transgressions—not because I have been punished for my sins, but because He has, I stand amazed!

So often though, I know I'm like Peter who denies the Lord, maybe not in words or quite as literally as Peter did when Jesus was betrayed and delivered into the hands of His accusers. It's when I worry, doubt, or disobey my Jesus, etc., that I do deny Him and His power over my circumstances. I think if I go back to Isaiah 53, it will be like that moment after Peter denied Jesus three times and Jesus looked at Peter, in the midst of all His suffering, as if to say, Peter, I love you still. Remember, I told you Satan desired to sift you as wheat. But remember also, I told you I prayed for you, that your faith fail not and that when you are converted, when you acknowledge your error, go and strengthen your brothers and sisters in Christ.

And after that compassionate look of knowing, Peter wept bitterly. He denied his Savior, but his Savior forgives him and loves him still.

Take heart in what you are going through. Put your eyes back onto Jesus. He will never leave or forsake you.

And stand amazed for all He's done for you, all He's doing for you, and all He will do for you.


I stand amazed in the presence
of Jesus the Nazarene,
and wonder how he could love me,
a sinner, condemned, unclean.

He took my sins and my sorrows,
he made them his very own;
he bore the burden to Calvary,
and suffered and died alone.

How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful
is my Savior's love for me!

(Excerpt from: I Stand Amazed in the Presence by Charles H. Gabriel)

Manito Park Dahlia Garden
Spokane, WA
(August 2007)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Worship

“Blessed are they that put their trust in him.”Psalms 2:12b

Somewhere between the yesterday and tomorrow, the minutes exist where I breath prayerfully upward and ask the Lord to help me trust Him. Before I went into my long list of "If it be Your will, Father, please do this, fill this, heal this," and so on, I decided to name what Jesus is to me.

He is:

The Great I Am
He's the Master of the universe
He's the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End
He's my Savior
He's your Savior
He's my Rock, my Strong Tower
My Help in my time of need
He's my Creator
And the Master Designer of every living thing
He's my Destiny
He's my Forever
He's my very precious Friend.

He's so much more than all this, but in reading over my finite list of who He is to me, I am humbled by Him. I wonder at myself for doubting Him … for those strange little thoughts that creep in and question who He is and all He's doing in my life and in the lives of those I love.

I am Jairus asking Jesus to heal his daughter and I'm the demoniac's father, telling God I believe, but to increase my faith.

I am His. And in this, I worship.*

(*This post needed a more solid end, in my mind, so I wrote this part after the five minutes.)

The Black Sea
Mangalia, Romania (August 2005)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Job's Surrender

“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; 
blessed be the name of the Lord.”—Job 1:20-21

The Bible is a mirror to my heart, and in reading this passage, I find my heart to be shamefully fearful of experiencing the tribulations of Job. I am apprehensive of giving my life so completely to God, to say unto Him, Lord, whatever You need to do in my life to make it the witness, the light, the testimony, etc., it needs to be, it’s Yours to do with what You wish. Only You know what needs to happen in my life to make it complete in You, and I give it to You.

I do believe I did just that in my early twenties, as my first step in faith to truly follow Jesus, and it was the best decision I have ever made. But as I mature in the Lord, and time keeps ticking by, I know that sentiment is not often true for me in my daily surrenders to God.

I want my life to be a bed of roses. I want to walk among pillowy beds of ease. I want to have pleasing things to happen to me. I want.

Ironically, when I am in this self-centered frame of mind, my spirit enjoys no peace and no rest.

So often, I am fearful of each step, thinking that the next one may be the one that shakes my foundations, and not in a good way, at least to the eyes of flesh.

I find that I am too selfish to let go of what comforts I have in the present, and thereby neglect the blessings and riches of God that I would have otherwise experienced had I just given Him my worries, my fears, my joys, my successes ... my present and my future.

Really, into whose hands is it better to give my life to? 

Oh, Lord, Jesus, help me surrender my all to You in the big and little things, without fear and with complete trust, even if that trust may be timid at first.

Originally written on October 4, 2002, when I was studying the book of Job.

Barsanesti, Romania (August 2005)



In celebration of receiving "50 Likes" on my facebook page and having 50 posts written on my blog as of today, I want to give away one of the pictures on my blog, as well as try and get more readers!

So, how are we going to do this?

I will enter you in my contest to receive a free photo (assuming you want a matted 3x5/4x6 photo of your choice from my blog AND mailed to you free of charge, ANYWHERE in the world!) if you:
  1. Like my page on Facebook (and haven't already) or if you follow my blog via Google+;
  2. Sign up to receive emails when I put out a new post (you will need to subscribe to “Receive Emails” on the blog itself and then you will get an email in which you will need to verify you want to receive emails); OR
  3. Recommend a friend and they like my page, which was the original goal of the contest. Somehow you or your friend will need to let me know they've signed up via a message on my page or some other way. 
It's possible to enter more than once, if you do more than one of the above.

The contest began yesterday (Tuesday, August 20th), and it will end next Tuesday, on August 27th at midnight (the midnight where you are located in the world!).

This is my first contest, so it may be a work in progress. Please don't hesitate to ask me any questions.

Again, the prize will be a matted 3x5 or 4x6 picture of your choosing, mailed to you at no cost, anywhere in the world.

So, here we go. Happy contesting. And God bless you today!  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Small … & My First Contest!

First, Five Minute Friday … almost a week late!

The word for this week was “Small,” written in five minutes, with no edits.



Down deep in the crevices of my mind, are memories upon memories that seem sometimes inaccessible. I look for the past, and try to reach far back there, and I get what amounts to a blank screen. A kind of feeling that the files have been erased.

But sometimes, there are small bits that I do remember. The happy, joyful bits of my past that help me appreciate the life I have been given. It's when I reflect on a series of small moments, a smile creeps to my face and I think, yes, I have a good life. I was able to travel, speak another language, learn about the Kings and Queens of Britannia, which was most certainly a foretaste of my current love of BBC and Masterpiece Theater, and all things British in the form of mysteries and mini-series.

There is also a small part of me … actually it may not be quite so small in which I don't remember things. Perhaps the shadows of those memories are too dark to dwell in, and I prefer living in the moment and creating new memories, joyful memories, as I build a life with a husband and child.

I don't do backwards, is what I'll say when the memories are too hard to digest.


(Note: Well, the idea of writing short stories with the weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt has fallen flat and after only two weeks of doing it. (Part one, here, and part two, here, if you're interested.) It seemed a good idea in theory but very difficult for me in practice. So, I just wrote what came to my mind this week.)


And now, the CONTEST!

In celebration of receiving "50 Likes" on my facebook page and having 50 posts written on my blog as of today, I want to give away one of the pictures on my blog, as well as try and get more readers!

So, how are we going to do this?

I will enter you in my contest to receive a free photo (assuming you want a matted 3x5/4x6 photo of your choice from my blog AND mailed to you free of charge, ANYWHERE in the world!) if you:
  1. Like my page on Facebook (and haven't already) or if you follow my blog via Google+;
  2. Sign up to receive emails when I put out a new post (you will need to subscribe to “Receive Emails” on the blog itself and then you will get an email in which you will need to verify you want to receive emails); OR
  3. Recommend a friend and they like my page, which was the original goal of the contest. Somehow you or your friend will need to let me know they've signed up via a message on my page or some other way. 
It's possible to enter more than once, if you do more than one of the above.

The contest began yesterday (Tuesday, August 20th), and it will end next Tuesday, on August 27th at midnight (the midnight where you are located in the world!).

This is my first contest, so it may be a work in progress. Please don't hesitate to ask me any questions.

Again, the prize will be a matted 3x5 or 4x6 picture of your choosing, mailed to you at no cost, anywhere in the world.

So, here we go. Happy contesting. And God bless you today!  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Refraining My Lips

“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”
Proverbs 10:19

The book of Proverbs helps my walk with the Lord so much. I try to read one chapter every day, and despite the fact I’ve read this book over and over, God’s wisdom found in these pages of Scripture always teaches me something. Whether a proverb grounds me for the day’s events, whether a verse brings me to conviction, or whether a truth enlightens my understanding of circumstances that make my heart heavy, I often walk away from reading Proverbs with a word from the Lord that is just for me.

Today’s verse is such an example. I read it a few days ago and have been trying to commit it to memory ever since. Why? Because it has been a recurring theme in my dealings with others lately. I often get this sense of pride when sharing my “wisdom” with loved ones in which I think I have the answers to their problems. Without their request for advice, I happily pour forth all the wisdom I think fits their particular situation with such a self-righteous and judgmental countenance. Afterward, when I really take a good look at myself, I get so discouraged (disgusted more like it) because here was another instance I did not keep my mouth shut when I should have.

Now, I do not mean to imply that we should always be silent. For the Bible says, “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20)

On the one hand, some situations call for boldness, but a speaking-the-truth-in-love boldness—a God’s-clear-direction-to-speak kind of boldness that is free from self-righteous and prideful judgment. (Ephesians 4:15)

On the other hand, some situations call for our silence, perhaps because that person is not ready to hear the truth. They have not yet come to the end of themselves, which is precisely the place God wants them to get to so He can begin to heal them.

Perhaps it’s because we are not the vessel God will choose to use to bring a person to Himself and His will for their lives. I don’t know. But there are times I can feel a catch in my spirit that leads me to not speak God’s wisdom and counsel to an individual. It’s when I know it’s not my place to speak and do so anyway, that I know I have a lot to learn myself about the wisdom of learning to keep my mouth shut.

In the end, I know the one thing I can do for those I want to “help” is to pray for them. While I refrain my lips toward them, I do not have to keep quiet before God on their behalf.

“There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword:
but the tongue of the wise is health.”

Proverbs 12:18

Stehekin, WA (August 2008)

Friday, August 09, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Lonely (Part II)

This is the second part of my Five Minute Friday "Story." So far I'd say last week's and this week's writing loosely fit together. Maybe by next week's post, it will have more of a story feel. We'll see. I hope you enjoy reading it anyway.

There is a certain timidity, she thought, when she would venture forth to put words together in some kind of sentence, story or novel. She thought often that what if the words were few and were nonsensical when put together. One word, after the other, and then what? Sometimes, she felt it was all a sham. Sometimes, she would have to muster the faith it took to simply put those words together. As she thought about it, the feeling kind of reminded her of those terrible blind dates, one in particular that felt like two walls meeting, when she walked past the threshold of the door, placed her vision upon one man in particular, and wondered if he was the one she was supposed to meet. He was, and when they shook hands, she felt like the Great Wall of China meeting the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Two large edifices of personalities that could not find the doorway into each others heart. That was for the best, in the long run. But without that initial meeting, there wouldn't be another meeting of the next person, and then the next person, to hopefully, you know, “the one.”

But we're talking about her words here. She wondered if she would leave out thoughts, grammar and words, perhaps making the story a bit more lonely in its attempt to tell a tale.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Abundant Life

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: 
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
—John 10:10

I believe any objective observation of a person’s life could be said to conclude in two ways—that the individual has had an abundant life in Christ or that an individual has had a life that has been destroyed by years and years of poor choices. The broad strokes of one’s existence may not clearly illustrate one or the other kind of life at first, but if we look closely into that person’s canvas, we can see the details of his or her life as the paint dries. We begin to understand what those details say about the kind of life that person has lived.

In the verse above, we see Jesus offers not only life, but life "more abundantly." The thief, however—that great counterfeiter of God, the father of lies, and enemy of our souls—steals away the blessings of God on a person’s life, kills a person's joy, and I believe the Bible says, brings them sooner to physical death. (Romans 6:16)

As I have meditated on John 10:10 over the years, I feel so very blessed by what God has bestowed upon me despite the past destruction I have allowed in my life. When I gave my life to the Lord in my early twenties, I believe that was precisely when God began to grant me His abundant life or at least when I began to recognize it. I felt this life in my soul as I praised the Lord for the big and little experiences He gave me as I learned more and more about Him. I often sung songs of praise to Him as I walked to school or other destinations. I called these my prayer-and-praise walks with Jesus. Witnessing was effortless because I was just so full of my Savior and His love. Earthy blessings were many, as well, but I believe that was just a small part of the abundant life He gave me. The abundant life is a full life in Him, as we learn our place in His divine plan and yield ourselves to it.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying there aren't times of discouragement, sadness, and temptation in an abundant life, but I am saying the overall impression of such a life is full of beautiful colors and gorgeous textures on a canvas of His design.

Then, there is the destroyed life, which results as a consequence of our not only choosing sin, but remaining in it. When we feed our flesh and let our lives be full of the sinful parts of our natures, it only leads to our destruction. This is the kind of life Satan wants to keep us in bondage to, so that we don’t experience the wonderful truth and reality of God’s abundant life.

Over the years, as I've meditated on this verse, my heart hurts for those who have tasted God, who are born again, but who are seduced back into bondage to the elements of this world Satan then uses to destroy them. (2 Peter 2:19) I am very sad for those who choose over and over again to follow the philosophies of the thief toward their destruction, rather than follow their merciful Savior, Who healed and released them from this bondage upon their salvation.

Now, I realize a person’s life is not this black and white. My life, for example, has many gray areas, the shadows of a painting, let’s say, that are just as much a part of my overall experience in Christ. There may be periods of quiet, when I really don’t feel this abundance of God. I also choose to get under bondage again to those sins that easily tempt me. I believe, however, that living an abundant life before God is experienced again when I repent of my sins before Him, including any lukewarmness toward Him, and ask His forgiveness.

I know my canvas has moments of both abundance and destruction in it. But, I believe, when one looks at the overall painting of my life, they will observe a person who has and is experiencing the abundant life God promises His children. This is not because of me, but only because of Him and His grace and His mercy.

And I love Him for it.

I pray that we will not be Revelation 2:4 Christians who leave their first love. Jesus wants so much more for us. Let’s let Him take our lives and paint wonderfully abundant pictures of His love upon them.

Two Romanian Women
Onesti, Romania (May 2005)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...