Be on Guard

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”  Ephesians 6:10


The complete truth is hard to come by these days. People are masters at taking just the right string of words and arranging them into what sounds true. It is a dangerous skill to hold in ones hand and should be called out for what it is -manipulation. Subjects have been studied as to how they respond to any number of stimulus and the data recorded. Knowing this information is what shapes much of our news and advertisements. It really is quite a weapon and we need to live aware.

F5D8A363-9879-4A8E-A8A4-736337EC6163When enough experts display graphs and charts with a calculated conclusion, you can shoot an entire world with an arrow of crippling fear if presented just the right way. We are witnessing this today in the midst of a very real pandemic. I have honestly had it with seeing victims shot clean through with fear. Today I am singling out the virus, but my hatred of the weapon of fear goes much farther back.

What are we going to do today knowing we are being targeted? We unplug. We unplug from the source of fear, which is satan himself and the sources he is using. We focus our attention on the author of truth instead. We purposely feed our mind with His promises and live according to His instruction. Plug into His word and be shielded from the arrows of fear. The choice is ours to make.

Be on guard friends.





Crushing Acorns

Walking with my child today, who is closest to the ground, was time well spent. She made up a new game where she would stomp on acorns. If there were not enough in her path, she would venture off to collect more to stomp. With each one she crushed, I felt a bit of sadness. I recognize this might be odd, but it was because the acorn could have become a tree. If the acorn had been left intact, it would not have taken much for it to grow into a mighty oak one day.

85F79D94-4B45-49F7-8635-3B3141A16C63To grow, this little acorn would first split and a root would then have emerged, anchoring it to the soil. I do not know much at all about plants and trees, but I am learning. In fact, I met a very interesting lady today who is a horticulturist. She had a fascinating story and I cannot wait to visit her again. Her dream began when she was six years old with the seed of a story planted into her heart. In the few short minutes we spent at her side of the road business, I gained a new friend. I plan on taking my six year old to meet her and learn more about growing things.

One seed, one acorn is all it seems to take for good and bad to take root. May we each be mindful of what we are planting during these quarantine days; being mindful where we step as to not crush what could be. May we be ones that cultivate instead and watch even some new things grow.



At Home

“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.” John 15:9

It is easy to be a guest when you feel welcome. When the host has thought through what a guest might need or what will make their stay more comfortable, it creates a more relaxed visit. The preparation for a guest does take time, but you know it will be worth it. Yes, I know we are not opening our doors right now, but we can be preparing to do so during this time. For we know a day will come when we can welcome guests again.

3F87EC06-DBBC-4B78-B688-A034DEEF9198I have been thinking about this idea of being welcoming lately. It is so close to being accepting, wouldn’t you agree? Conviction has also surfaced that I have not always been as welcoming or accepting as Christ has been with me. When something is annoying, I want to change that in a person. In fact, I will confess that I actually attempted this with one of my children here of late. I asked them to stop being a particular way and the response hurt my heart. They said, “But what if I am….”. My response was acceptance of them just the way they are right now. To be clear, we are not talking about sin here. To not tell the truth about sin, would be the most unloving thing I could do. Also, it is not my goal to be my child’s friend these days, but their parent and guide. Friendship will come when they are grown and I am getting a glimpse of this with our oldest.

As the days at home continue, might we take sometime to think about the kind of host we are to guests, our family who actually live with us and to Jesus. Are they getting our best? I see areas that need some attention in my own life. Places that my Father’s love is not as evident. If we are welcome in and to His love, should we not be the most loving, welcoming and accepting people on earth? How do we love people that are different than us or do not know the Father’s love? My prayer is that they will find us different; even attracted to what they sense when they are with us and want to know more. For when our home is found in Him, we reflect His love in a very inviting way.

May we be swamped with guests when gathering is allowed. May those who enter our homes find a family that loves well because we have worked on the unloving parts of us. May the cashier or waitress that is not kind, be shocked at the loving response they receive from us. You never know who might be looking for home. Perhaps we can be just the ones to welcome them.


A Story

I have this little girl who finds her way to me every morning. She’s still small enough to curl up tight with me in my chair. We talked yesterday about how she would one day be much too big for me to hold. She assured me this would never happen. It’s not just morning times she comes, but all through out the day. She comes up beside me, gets real close and whispers she loves me for no reason at all. I see her coming and it just makes me smile. I like the way she calls me mama too.

A523EE3A-D98B-406B-A8B8-97750574E40EThis morning when her sleepy eyes met mine, she asked for me to give her a story, not to read one like we usually do. What an interesting request, but it sure made my mind race. I would like nothing better than to give this child a story to read on real pages. Perhaps one day I will, but in the meantime I will keep telling her the story already written by her Creator. If she knows this story, she can trust Him with the one He has scripted for her before she was even born.

Maybe we are all a bit lost in our own stories right about now. We did not see this page or chapter coming and it is hard to make sense of it all. What will we do? Will we fuss and complain the days away or will we take some time to hear from our Creator, the Author of our story? I like the example we see with the woman who met Jesus at the well. After she spends sometime with Jesus talking, she goes back to her village and gives the best invitation. “Come see a man who knew about the things I did, who knows me inside and out.” (John 4:29 MSG). Because of her visit with Jesus and the invitation she extended, “many of the Samaritan’s from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness.”(vs 39). This woman with an interesting story, that actually included 5 husbands and who was currently living with another man, found Him to be the One she could not live without.

This woman had no idea when she went to get water that day that she would meet Jesus sitting by the well. The best part is He knew. He knew her story from before men were ever a thought in her mind as a source of fulfillment. And He choose this moment to interrupt her endless search in exchange for Living Water. She could have chosen to keep tasting that which would never truly quench the thirst of her heart, but she did not. And she did what those of us who have met Him can’t help but do, we tell everyone!

So maybe as the day winds down or you watch the sunrise, you might take a few minutes to consider the invitation He offers you. He knows your story and can hardly wait to give you real meaning, purpose and love like you have never known. The hard pages, He asks you to trust Him and it is only possible when you see His heart. And if they seem to painful, take a look at the cross. This is the price He paid for our sin; and not only the sins we have committed, but the sins committed against us. So, come to Him and let Him give you your story. I have a feeling you will make Him smile too.

The Cure

“…but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ‘You will not certainly die’, the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

And so goes the original virus of sin. It has killed more than we can count. It has no respect for gender, age, race, marital status or socioeconomic level. Sin has come into the world by the father of all lies and has death in mind. If he can infect you with his lies, the battle is tipped in his favor. Convincing everyone that having your eyes wide open will give knowledge and wisdom, you know “god like” abilities, does sound intriguing. It also sounds freeing, for it allows anything you dream up possible. For all you imagine must be wise, good and right since you are “like God” after all. And so the virus sets in and with it the symptoms soon follow.

3F7191DC-FA04-4D12-A56D-C707B7D184D2Like any sickness, it starts slow. One minute you are fine, but then you do not feel quite right. Before you know it, down you go and you are rendered weak. If it is serious, you are hospitalized. More progression and machines come to your aid to keep you functioning. Monitors are put into place and your vitals are checked regularly. You might recover and return back to your home. Perhaps you are able to leave the hospital, but rehab is the next step to healing. Then there is the other possible outcome, death. This was how it went with my mom. What started as a little image in her eye, became much more serious. Ultimately the cancer spread and she ended up dying. This cancer was not the result of her sin or by any choice of her own. She noticed a problem and sought medical attention. The Lord had other plans for my mom and now she is completely healed and sees Him face to face. Sin and sickness have no hold on her now. Praise God! Even though I miss her very much, I rejoice knowing I will see her again.

While this virus of sin infects us all, there is a cure. His name is Jesus and He died on the cross to heal you once and for all. It is up to you to take what is offered. My mom knew Him and trusted in His life, death and resurrection. I am so thankful! She is more alive now that she has ever been, even on her best day here on earth. Her and my dad made sure we knew this saving truth as well. They took us to “the hospital” or church and we learned about our sickness. We were not left without a way to be well, but learned of the antidote. I accepted my treatment at the age of 11, but honestly do not remember ever not knowing and believing in God. We have then done the same in our families and trust the Lord to keep the healing going.

What I know is that it is not too late to receive salvation if you are still breathing. Even if it is your last breath. To not have that peace, not only for eternity, but for day to day, would make for a fragile existence. Only in Christ, our solid rock, our Savior, is life worth living. The choice remains in our hands and must be made. Once salvation has been chosen, there might be some healing that needs to take place, but He knows exactly what you need and if you trust Him, it will be provided. If doubt remains because you have seen inside the hospital, met other patients and have no interest in the type of life they were peddling; I am sorry. People can get it wrong at times, I know I have. Fear, pride and insecurity give an unhealthy reflection of Jesus. The best place to get a true glance at the Savior is to open up the Bible for yourself. Do not just take my word for it, find out for yourself. You have the time.

May every time we hear the word virus, we be reminded of the number of people dying each day having never trusted in the Savior. May our hearts be spurred into action to represent Him and love people well. That does not mean we celebrate sin, but it does mean we respond to it differently. We see those who are sick with sin, look on them with compassion and gently show them the way to the ultimate Healer. Because deep down they already know they are sick and our response just might give them hope of being healed. May God bring revival to our land and He can start within my heart.



A Song to Sing

”Yet, the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm, for the heart of the storm is the center of calm.” L.B. Cowman

This line was written in a book we read daily, Streams in the Desert. It is an excellent devotional book that is full of scripture and words that challenge your heart. This particular line stuck out to me for several reasons, but one that is common to us all right now. It feels like we are all in the middle of a disruptive storm with the Coronavirus swirling around the world. Yet there is calm to be found in the midst of the storm. There is only one way and that is keeping our focus not on what we can see, but on Him. This is an act of faith, not a denial of reality.

2CF52D8D-3922-4CD1-92B1-23400C4651E2The words we speak, think and type often feel like a song to me that reflects our hearts. When our focus is in the proper place, we find we can actually sing bravely, calmly and with joy. Might you need a new song today? Perhaps your song has sounded a bit fearful, critical or wavered. I know this has been true of me at times. When I have lost focus, my song changes dramatically. The song we sing though out the day affects everyone we come in contact with. We could all use some uplifting music right about now. Will you join in and be a voice that redirects our gaze?


I Almost Quit

“For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” Micah 7:8


When the news came that we would not be going back to school after Spring Break, I was actually excited. It would be like summer time and we would love it. Then the distant learning was put into place and I wanted to quit. Truthfully, I have always dreamed of homeschooling and often people assume we do because of the big family.  I have never really understood that stereotype, but that is neither here or there. Instructions began to roll in from our school district, emails from teachers and zoom calls were scheduled for each child. Keeping up with the calls, passwords, websites, plans for 5 subjects per child, where to send in the finished work and adjusting to everyone being home, about made me quit distant learning all together. I even emailed our elementary school principal to inquire about our opinions. I will not add in the small detail of providing 3 meals a day for 9 people.

51B84927-F1D4-4299-AB45-206B200C9946This was not at all what I had pictured. Distant learning is not, in my opinion, homeschooling. When your home has always been a school in a sense, this seemed a bit of an invasion. These were not my lesson plans, material chosen by me or a good use of our time. Again, I was ready to quit and felt justified with a million good arguments. Then reason entered the room, in the form of my practical and wise husband. He went online and cut through all the information and simplified it all. He is very comfortable with technology and I am not. He reads books on his phone for goodness sakes! To me, a book without physical paper is not something I can embrace. However, I am so thankful for his strengths, for they are not mine.

When he stepped in, we decided to stick with our commitment for the year. The kids will finish out the school year by way of distant learning. We add in what sinks into their hearts and actually have more time now. That is not to say that there have not been tears. Our little kindergartener cried because she “just did not want to be busy”. Online books do not work for her either. She loves her teacher, her friends and misses them. Her teacher knows how to get to her heart as well. Another child loves technology and thinks this is the best set up ever. Another gets his work done and is very content to dive back into science. He likes to learn on his own terms. This is fine for the short term, but would not end well. He would not be able to even write about what he is learning. Then there’s the older kids who are managing just fine and require little involvement. I am thankful for their independence.

The fact that two will most likely miss graduations, makes me sad too. Our kindergartener is slightly aware, but putting on a tutu and participating in a living room ceremony, would be delightful to her. Our senior would like more, but prom is her main concern. We are thinking of ideas to make that one happen as well. She loves to dress us, do fancy makeup, have pictures taken and to dance. She is a really fun kid. The part about liking pictures taken was new information to me. I hate having my picture taken, but she actually enjoys it. I am still getting to know her after 18 years of being her mom. We are all getting more time to know each other. More time around the table and this makes me smile.

Yes, much is taken off the calendar and learning is coming in a different format, but there is good. What may appear to be a dark time, is actually so full of Him that I find it hard to concentrate at times. He is shining bright if you have your heart turned toward Him. And even though I fall several times a day, I get back up. He gives me strength, joy and peace. I find it is when I rely on my own strength, this is when I fall by getting angry or worry. He has been faithful up until now and He is a good Father. I do not doubt His love to change. So, keep getting up by taking His hand and trusting in His love each and every day. His love is not distant and that is a promise.

*A game of “hot hands” was played as I typed. This game will now be banned in our home because it is just a matter of time before I am asked to play.

A Brave Queen

“For how can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my countrymen?” Esther 8:6

One thing that makes the Bible so captivating to me is all the people you get to meet on the pages. You learn from their stories and are often encouraged. God breathed each word into them and they recorded it. I like to think of Him whispering into their ear and I wonder if they had a hard time keeping up. What an experience that must have been for them. I wonder if they were sad when their part had been written? I have a lot of questions.

CBB97D94-BB5C-4B45-A84E-751DC0A513F3Open to the book of Esther and watch as one man plots to destroy an entire race. It seems to begin with an intense hatred of one man and carries over to the Jewish people. Mordecai was the hated man. He was also a Jew and could be found near the king’s gate. He heard a lot of life saving information in this particular spot. He was also the uncle and guardian of a young woman named Esther. Through a series of events, Esther ends up in the king’s palace in a 12 month beauty regiment. The king was in search of a new queen and Esther was chosen. Per Mordecai’s instruction, which she had always obeyed, she keeps her nationality hidden.

Meanwhile, Haman who is highly ranked in the kingdom, cannot stand that Mordecai will not bow down to him. In fact, “he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.” (3:5-6). The pride here is evident and you can just picture him furiously walking about, trying to come up with the most horrible plan. Here I picture satan whispering in his ear and Haman obeying.

The story continues and Mordecai advises Queen Esther again. She courageously goes before the king and makes a request. Her life was literally at stake in this bold move, but she said went anyway. She truly valued life. I love the words her uncle spoke to her, “…who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” (4:14). God placed Mordecai and Esther in this precise moment in history for an incredible purpose. All the events that had to be orchestrated are far to complex for any human being. Only God is the one who determines when and where a person is born. He also gives each person purpose. As we see with Esther, her entire life was leading up to this moment. Her obedience to her uncle and then in the kingdom are also noted. Queen Esther’s courage is also noteworthy. I pray you pick up your Bible and read the account for yourself. It is far more exciting than anything on tv.

I will not ruin the outcome for you, but I will say it ends in victory. It also has me thinking about our purpose during this time. Obviously, God placed each of us here and was very aware that this virus would hit in our lifetime. What will we do? Will we complain, accuse and waste our time at home? What do you think Queen Esther would advise? She was in an extremely dangerous situation and she could have been killed. Might we be in something similar with this Coronavirus? We read in chapter 4 that she requests Mordecai to gather the Jews and fast. She is also going to do the same. My study Bible notes say that prayer is involved too, for you need prayer to fast. I wonder what would happen if we followed their example?

There are several things we can fast from. Food is usually the most common, but can I suggest another option? What if we fasted from complaining and criticism? What about we use our words to whisper prayers that actually have purpose instead of dividing? I have to believe this would please God far more than what He is hearing all to often by us, people created in His image. Queen Esther could not bear to see her family destroyed. Can we not all relate to her words? Listening to the number of people who have contracted this virus, the number of deaths and the impact it is having on finances, is heartbreaking. Everyone has been affected and that is enough to put us all in the same boat. We will not get anywhere if we are rowing in different directions.

May the Lord see and hear our prayers. May He see hearts turned towards Him in worship. May He see unity and kindness like never before. May He heal our nation, not just from this virus, but the division that has evil roots. May we learn from the story of Haman, Esther and Mordecai. It did not end well for Haman and his family. I pray we see a much better outcome.


”And the people said to Joshua, ‘We will serve the LORD our God and obey Him. On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD. ‘See!’, he said to all the people. ‘ This stone will be a witness against us.” Joshua 24:24-26

When we look back over the journey the Israelites took out of Egypt to the promised land, we see rocks mentioned several times. Moses struck a rock twice and water came pouring out (see Numbers 20:11). This was a significant moment because God had not told Moses to strike the rock, only to speak to the rock. After all the complaining from the people, it is easy to see why he was frustrated and lashed out. However, the Lord speaks to Moses and Aaron and says, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” (Numbers 20:12). We see how serious God is about His holiness and our obedience.

A99A7B59-D592-4BB0-80A5-1CBDDB4B7220Another time the Lord has Joshua choose twelve men to each pick up a stone from the middle of the Jordan River. The same river where the water had literally piled up and allowed them to cross safely (see Joshua 3 and 4). “These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (4:7). Twelve stones to remember this mighty act that only God could have done. I think I would have been tempted to pick up a small rock and put it in my pocket while I walked through. It is always good to have something to remind us of the faithfulness of God; especially the further we get away from the big moments, it helps to have a visual.

After the children of Israel cross the Jordan and they march around the walls of Jericho. The walls come down and they take the land, just as the Lord told them. There are more events and I highly recommend you read them for yourself in the book of Joshua, but for now I will fast forward to the end of the book. We find another stone of significance. Joshua is speaking to the people and reminds them of all the Lord has brought them through. He gives them this charge, “Now fear the LORD and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshipped beyond the Euphrates River in Egypt, and serve the LORD.” (24:14). The people say they will and a stone is set up to remind them of their promise.

As I looked out my window this morning, I saw again two huge stones across from our home. I see them every morning when the sun finally comes up. We have many pictures of the kids on these rocks. I was thinking I needed to change my morning place so I could see the sunrise like my friend does. However, I am going to stay put because I thought again of God’s faithfulness over the years and know He will remain so for all my days. This made me wonder if during these days of waiting, are we collecting stones? So much good is happening right now. Yes, there is tragedy in all kinds of ways, but there is more going on than gets reported. Check with your local churches and see how many people are now watching services online. See what is happening around your city to help those that need help. There is prayer times going on continually and those who often go unseen, are now hero’s. Families are spending time together  and kids are playing outside. Education has been handed back to parents and their is more flexibility to add heart shaping lessons. New skills are being learned at home and siblings are helping each other. There is also more time to rest and reconnect. Perhaps “normal” will  be re-evaluated when the doors open again.

So my question is, what stones of remembrance can we be putting into place now to look at when we are out of quarantine? We have gained too much ground to want to go back to the way things were. How will we protect the relationships with the ones around our tables? We must not forget these days where we are very aware of God’s faithfulness. May the Lord draw us so closely to Himself and to those around us, that we smile when our eyes see the stones of remembrance from this time. He has given us this time and we can spend it collecting whatever we decide, but I pray we only bring Him glory during this quarantine.



Stolen Shoes

”Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day…and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:13-15


One of my girls came downstairs a bit sleepy this morning. She told me she had a bad dream and I asked her to tell me about it. In her dream, thieves had broken into our home and she was afraid. I asked her what they were stealing and the response was strange, for they were stealing our shoes. Then she said the most remarkable thing. The thieves were in our home, but we were not doing anything about it. Why would we not put up a fight?

As soon as she mentioned shoes, the verse from Ephesians came to mind. I think of peace as the shoes we wear that keep our stance sure. There is much more to our armor that you can read about it this chapter, but I am focusing on peace today.

FD5CC50C-6410-4B4B-BC15-E6ECB5968FC1With that in mind, what steals our peace? Do we put up a fight? Do we even know how to fight? I can say that listening to the news often is one sure way to send our peace running out the door. Perhaps if we turned away from the news and dove into scripture, peace would tie itself to our hearts with a sure double knot. When anxious thoughts come to mind, have a verse or two handy to steady your heart. What about this one? “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.” (Psalm 118:6). Sometimes just the reminder that we are never alone is all we need to calm our hearts. Here is another good one. “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” (Psalm 112:7). If you are worried about finances, maybe this will put things into perspective; “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). I know I have sometimes put the label of need on what really is a want. However, I have a few stories where even a want was provided in the sweetest ways.

The bottom line is this, just like we decide what shoes we put on in the morning, we decided if we will have peace. You control your thoughts. You control what you read, watch or listen too. You decide whose voice will be the loudest. Peace is found in one place only, Jesus. His words are recorded in 66 books of the Bible and easily available in our country. There are Bible apps we can put on our phones, so peace is just a click away.

Some years ago I heard this county song called, “Peace in This House”, by Wynonna Judd. She tells her kids that there is going to be peace in their home. The first thing she tells them to do is to turn off the tv and come talk with her. She looks at their faces and reassures them that she is going to keep them safe. She tells them that her words will be tender and sweet. She talks to them about belief and how it starts inside of us. She reminds them of her love for them and the importance of the love in them. She speaks of patience, playing nice and reassures them they will get their share. “Sweet peace” she says. Is that not the most calming picture?

We may not have a mom anymore to talk with, but we do have a Savior. He is always wanting to talk with us. Maybe today we can climb up beside Him and let Him put our shoes back on. The shoes He has ready for us are not easy to steal. Who needs a new pair of shoes today? I picture mine as the prettiest pink ballet shoes. What do yours look like?