Category Archives: Inspirational

In Real Life, Wonder Woman is a Redhead

It’s the top-grossing film so far this summer. “Wonder Woman” tells the back-story of DC Comics’ iconic Amazon Warrior Princess Diana. Movie trailers show Wonder Woman filling the big screen with heroics in her quest to save the world during “the war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.” (Quote:

The heroine could have been modeled after our community’s own wonder woman and warrior princess, Marie.

Marie, a 78-year-old redhead who stood barely five feet tall, was killed in an automobile accident in late May. She had just spent the morning with a fellow church worker and was on her way to run errands when another car traveling at a high rate of speed hit her car head-on. Marie died instantly.

In the days leading up to Marie’s funeral, people from throughout our small community shared stories with one another about Marie’s heroics, about all the ways she touched the lives of adults and children alike. Marie’s exploits are too numerous to list, and many were done without recognition or fanfare. But, the children she taught in her trailer park kids club, the inmates she visited and prayed for and the lost and needy souls who somehow found her, will not soon forget Marie.

Marie (right) with one of the guests at Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine, February 2017.

As is often the case with someone who wants to save the world, right up until the Lord took her home, Marie was concerned that she might not be fulfilling God’s purpose for her life. Marie answered her own question about her life’s purpose in a God-ordained video testimony recorded just days before her death. In her own words, Marie declared her only desire in life was “to give back to Jesus because of all He has done for me.”

Marie gave back to Jesus souls who turned from sin, kindnesses that could not be returned, commitment that was unparalleled and a love for scripture that rolled off her tongue. Without even trying, she spent her life “discovering her full powers and true destiny.”

Marie waged her own wars in our community. I’ll never forget the time she stated boldly that she intended to wipe out the disease of meth addiction in LaGrange. We believed she could do that, and so much more.

Marie planned to travel with a team of a dozen women to Honduras next week. There, she would have shared her Jesus with the children of Forgotten Children Ministries and families living in and around the capital city of Tegucigalpa. Since Marie is tending to other business, those of us left to travel without her are charged with trying to fill Marie’s shoes. They’re awfully big shoes to fill.

I was one of four friends asked to speak at Marie’s beautiful worship service. Because I believe this wonder woman’s legacy should be known and remembered, I’m sharing my words for Marie here.

Sweet Marie. I met that vivacious little redhead because of a vivacious blonde woman — Beth Moore. Marie and her best friend, Judy, caught wind that LaGrange First Church of God (down the road from her Methodist church) was hosting Beth Moore Bible studies. We were studying Breaking Free at the time and Marie joined us. She called the studies “a fresh drink of water for her soul.” Her presence at the studies brought light and a new dimension that was refreshing for all of us.

If you talked to Marie more than once, you know how she loved her Bible and loved Jesus. I’ve learned as much in my conversations with her as in most Bible study classes. She not only loved the Bible, she lived it.

I only had the blessing of knowing Marie for about eight years, but the woman I came to love and respect is a product of everything in her life that came before. I recently mentioned a book to Marie, and she wrote it down. In the book, Eugene Peterson, the author of The Message, says this:

“Apart from the before, the now has little meaning. The now is only a thin slice of who I am; isolated from the rich deposits of before, it cannot be understood.”

I didn’t know Marie before, as many of you did, but in knowing her now, I understand that Marie is resilient, kind, positive, forgiving, loyal, independent, determined, sometimes impatient, gracious, generous, devoted, tender…….and so much more.

That little redhead who sat in Bible study classes, in Sunday school and church, who visited the incarcerated, who taught trailer court kids about Jesus and planned to join us to minister to orphans in Honduras — she’s a product of her roots and her life experiences. I think she would tell you she wouldn’t change a thing about her life. I hope she wouldn’t, because it made her who she is for us today.

I was having lunch with Pastor Ben a few months ago when Marie swept into the restaurant for a gathering of the red hat ladies. She popped over to our table and just poured her joy out all over us. When she left, I told Ben “I want to be Marie when I grow up.” I do.

No one can replace Marie, but if we each take up a strand of the work, the heart-filled philanthropy that was part of Marie Dwight, maybe together we can continue her legacy and make a difference in our community.

I mentioned that Marie could sometimes be a little impatient, and I think she might have known her time on earth was winding down. I imagine that when Jesus called her home, she said something like “Alright! Let’s do this!”

Our Sunday school teacher shared these words from Alistair Begg with her class when we learned of her death. I want to close with them now. I’m pretty sure Marie would approve.

“We are not far from home – a moment will bring us there. The sail is spread; the soul is launched upon the deep. How long will its voyage be? How many weary winds must beat upon the sail before it shall be berthed in the port of peace? How long shall that soul be buffeted on the waves before it comes to that sea that knows no storm? Listen to the answer (from 2 Corinthians 5:8) ‘away from the body and at home with the Lord.’ The ship has just departed, but it is already at its destination. It simply spread its sail, and it was there.”


Join me in Honduras! Beginning Sunday, June 11, I’ll share daily reports and photos from the mission field as we minister to the children at Forgotten Children Ministries and to individuals working in the dump outside Tegucigalpa. We covet your prayers — that God be glorified and that our journey is a safe one.


For the Love of a Tea Party :: Thistle Farms Changes Lives

There was a party in Nashville, Tennessee, this week and I really wanted to be there. I would have brought the tea cups.

Let me explain.

A few years ago, on a trip to see my sons in Nashville, Tennessee, I ran across a quaint little café on the northwest side of the city. Thistle Stop Cafe sits in a corner storefront on Charlotte Pike. With giant purple thistles painted on one the side of the building and a huge metal thistle sculpture on the other, it’s hard to miss.

The café serves wonderful breakfasts and lunches, as well as specialty coffees and teas. A display to the side of the coffee counter offers Thistle Farm’s natural bath and body products, handcrafted fair trade items and books.

Photo: Thistle Farms

The food and the service were both delightful, but the most remarkable feature of the café was the lighting. Hanging from the ceiling were chandeliers made of china tea cups.

I rarely make a trip to Nashville without stopping in the café, but when I visit the city this weekend, I’ll have to pass. The café is closed for remodeling and expansion and will reopen this summer. When it does, my tea cups (which I’ll deliver on my visit) will be hanging from the ceiling along with thousands of others from throughout the country and around the world.

More important than my need for a great meal, or my appreciation for the intentional work of the company, or even the beautiful tea cup chandeliers, is the mission of Thistle Farms — to heal, empower and employ women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction. The women who cook and serve and create the body care products are doing a healing work, living out the ministry’s motto “Love Heals”.

Founder Becca Stevens, right, helps prepare a display of skin care products made and packaged by the women living and working at Thistle Farms. (Photo: Thistle Farms)

As for the party I missed, Thistle Farms hosted a concert and celebration marking 20 years of dedication to its mission. Founder Becca Stevens, country singer Reba McEntire and the women of Thistle Farms gathered at the historic Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville on May 3 to honor program graduates in an event that raised funds for the ongoing work of Thistle Farms.

“This week’s event celebrated work that is firmly rooted in the belief that love is the strongest force for change in the world. We do this by providing safe and supportive housing, the opportunity for economic independence, and a strong community of advocates and partners.” Founder Rev. Becca Stevens

Last year, customers and donors of Thistle Farms helped make the following possible:

  • 59 women survivors employed by Thistle Farms, earning over $1m a year in salary and wages
  • 9,215 nights of safe, supportive housing provided to women recovering from life on the streets
  • 14,100 hours of counseling and therapy for survivors, ensuring their physical and mental well-being
  • 40 organizations across the country replicated our housing model, currently offering 185 beds for women seeking sanctuary from the streets
  • 24 shared trade partnerships around the globe, supporting the economic freedom of more than 1,700 women

These words from the father of a young woman healed at Thistle Farms express the heart of this project:

“Knowing Rachel had a safe environment for her journey, gave me, as her father, the comfort and confidence to continue on my recovery journey, which I began during her incarceration. Once a week I now attend two 12-step programs for parents and families with addiction, Al-Anon and Families Anonymous. The strength of the Thistle Farms program provided a secure environment for Rachel, which helped me to pursue my recovery from co-dependence. We were on parallel journeys to recovery.”

My china tea cups belonged to a dear friend who has survived three bouts with cancer and to my step-mother, who passed away last summer at age 88. They’ll be wrapped in newspaper and placed in a box along with half a dozen cups I purchased at a thrift store run by a domestic violence agency in my hometown. Profits from sales at the thrift store help provide services for survivors of domestic violence and their families. It seems appropriate that they should be hanging in a space where women are finding hope and healing.

Tending the Garden: Pour and Listen

The dry spell was broken over the weekend and finally my outdoor plants received a showering that did not come from my watering can. Everything is lush and green this morning, and for that I am grateful.

I have more than one watering can, but only the galvanized metal one gives the nice steady flow that ensures my plants get a good watering. So, I carry it everywhere, refilling it as I go. A week ago, as I toted my old metal watering can from plant to plant, from the pump to the porch to the patio, and stood patiently, letting the life-giving water sprinkle down in measured amounts, I thought “Why don’t I just drag the garden hose over here and drench the thing and be done with it.” But, honestly, I prefer taking the time to give each basket, tree or bed special attention. I like noticing the new blossoms, taking stock of the growth, plucking dead blooms and leaves, and listening as birdsong fills the air and leaves rustle overhead.

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I haven’t always taken the time to tend the plants that looked so lush when I loaded them in car at the nursery. Years past, my baskets have withered in the heat and beds have filled with weeds, and, truthfully, there’s no guarantee that won’t happen again this year, around mid-July when summer takes hold and I get distracted.

As I made my watering rounds last week, my thoughts turned to the women in my life that God has appointed me to “pour into”. Women with real, life-changing, heart-breaking needs, as well as women in seasons of joy and exciting changes. Each of those women brings beauty to my world, each in a different way. And as I tend to those friendships, cherishing them, looking for growth, even attempting to prune and pluck as they allow, I’m learning to listen as each shares her heart. I’ve discovered how important it is to be fully engaged, to move slowly and with intention as, through me, God pours life-giving water on their souls.

There are times, of course, when I’m not called on to be part of the watering, when the Lord speaks directly to them or when others are tapped to use their own methods for pouring into them. But when He sends me, I can only use what I know, what is familiar to me. Like the old galvanized watering can, my source is time-tested and proven faithful. As I dip into God’s word or offer up a prayer on their behalf, I draw from my well of past experiences, of scriptures that have guided me, and ask God to use them to reveal truth to another.

While in Nashville, Tennessee, recently the work of a “master gardener” caught my eye. Becca Stevens centers her ministry to wounded women in a healing garden at Thistle Farms near Nashville. I walked to the ministry’s diner, The Thistle Stop Cafe, each morning for coffee and delicious food served by women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction. Becca founded Thistle Farms in 2001 to provide employment and, more importantly, nurturing and hope for 50 residents who work to create a line of natural body-care products as well as serve in the café, and in the sewing and print shop. She has also established Magdalene, residential communities for women.

This woman, an Episcopal priest, writer and entrepreneur, ministers alongside her volunteers as they pour into women with profound needs in Nashville and throughout the world. My “garden” is considerably smaller than that of Thistle Farms and Magdalene, but it is no less important and I, too, work alongside sisters who share my desire to minister to wounded women.

This summer, I am harvesting wisdom from one of Becca’s books, “Letters from the Farm: A Simple Path for a Deeper Spiritual Life”. Today, I glean from a chapter about praying to get out of the way:

“Listening is the way we stop tripping over ourselves in the midst of trying to serve another….we simply listen and respond with the word of love. It is a simple and spiritual practice.”

With watering can in hand, I’m learning to pour and to listen.









At the Halfway Mark, Some Thoughts on Lent

We will celebrate the Resurrection of Christ in less than three weeks. Halfway through Lent, I’m pondering what the Lenten season means to me, and revisiting an experience from two years ago that turned around my thinking on the tradition of “giving up” for Lent. Reflecting on that experience helped me see that maybe it’s not what we give up that defines our commitment to Christ, but what we do…..or don’t do.

Here are some thoughts on penitence from March, 2014:


One year it was chocolate. Another, caffeine. A couple of times, it was television. And growing up as a good Catholic girl, it was always meat on Fridays.

What did you give up for Lent?

Perhaps the better question is “What will you GIVE?”

It’s the first Sunday after Ash Wednesday — the first Sunday of Lent — and we’re sitting in an old brick church in downtown Nashville, Tennessee with two of our sons who now call this city home. Surrounded by folks who mostly exhibit a bent toward the “artistic”, it’s obvious we’re from out-of-town. But the warm handshakes and familiar worship music remind us that we’re all “the church”, whatever our roots.


Worship ends and a young woman with purple hair takes the microphone to share with us her recent experience as a missionary at Rapha House in Saigon where children are rescued from sex trafficking. A beautician by trade, she is passionate about the work being done there and says she didn’t want to leave. She hopes to go back.

We hear of upcoming events in the church — retreats for men and women, outreaches in the community. This small congregation with a focus on missions is also meeting needs in its own backyard.

But it’s when the young pastor takes the stage that God pulls me toward the heart of His church with this message:

“We define ourselves by what we don’t do.”

As he draws attention to this Season of Lent, the pastor talks about fasting, reading the Book of John weekly, slowing down to listen. But then he returns to it……

……what we don’t do.

The words have hung in the air all week. As we approach this second Sunday on our journey to the cross, I’m still rolling them around in my head.

“Works” are not what God requires. I understand that. It’s not what we DO that earns us the right to call ourselves followers of Christ. Then again, in the literal sense, NOT doing something — eating meat, watching television, consuming caffeine — does not define me, either. During these 40 days, I can forgo luxuries as an act of penitence, but I also know that I need only ask and I am forgiven. Sacrifice in the name of the One who made the ultimate sacrifice is a good thing. But does it define me?

Here’s what I think: It’s a two-sided coin.

  1. Choose not to indulge in practices, attitudes, thoughts that are not God-honoring. If this is what I don’t do, it is good. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Colossians 3:5-8
  2. Choose not to reach out to those in need, to travel across the world and show love to a violated child, to spend time reading God’s word and beseeching Him in prayer. If it is these things that I don’t do, how is that good?  “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ ” Matthew 25:45; and “My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.” Psalm 49:3

Choose either side of the coin, and I am defined by what I don’t do.

So back to our question. What will you GIVE for Lent?

While 17 percent of the adult population, according to a recent survey by Barna Group, will be giving up some form of food or technology for Lent, maybe the rest of us can decide what we will GIVE.

To give our time, love, devotion, energy, attention, wisdom, affection — all things we sometimes don’t do. Lay these alongside things we’ve determined that, as new creatures in Christ, we don’t do — anger, rage, malice, slander. Isn’t this the ultimate gift?

Given in the name of the Christ, who freely gives us grace, mercy and forgiveness, these may be the greatest acts of penitence.


When What You Need is a Facelift

I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror as I passed by recently and I did a double-take. Who is that woman, the one with the glum expression, the drooping face, the sad eyes?

Taking stock of the image most people see when I’m not “on”, when I’m lost in myself, I was struck by how much of my inner condition is reflected in the expression I bear — and how little joy.

I am normally a happy person. In fact, some have accused me of being a Pollyanna (an excessively cheerful or optimistic person according to Oxford Dictionaries).

So why so glum?

There have been trials, disappointments, heartaches and pain throughout the past year. Just like many of you, I’ve soldiered on, making the best of bad situations, looking on the sunny side. But I’ve carried them in my heart, and they’re showing in my countenance.

Have there not also been joy and happiness in the past year? Yes! Why do they not show up in my “resting” face.

I realize that more often than not, I’ve let happiness roll off my back because it’s burdened with sorrow. I’ve taken my eyes off joy because I’ve been focused on the path I’m walking.

An old English proverb says the eyes are a window to the soul. Yet another contemplative says the soul is the window.

I believe both are true. It’s there in my eyes. And, if you looked into my soul, you would be looking into my life, into all the events that have brought me to this day, this place, this season.

What Matthew and Luke say in their gospels might come closer to the truth:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”

Where we put our focus will illuminate the whole of our being. If I continually draw darkness into my sight, it will show in my countenance.

Advent is as good a time as any to ponder the many ways God has shown me and those I love favor, not just in the past year but throughout time — and, yes, even through the difficulties that are just part of life.

I need a facelift. The truest, most inexpensive way I can think of to accomplish that is to shed some light on this admonition from the Apostle Paul, written 2,000 years ago to the residents of Philippi (and to you and me):

“….whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

And smile.


Speaking of smiles, I participated in customer service training at Great Lake Chocolate and Coffee last week. It was fun learning more about the company I work for, about chocolate and coffee, and about people.

What's Brewing- Blog badge. (2)Here’s my latest “Observation from the Coffee Shop” — our customers want a smile with their coffee. Our GLCC trainer Strawberry (yes, that IS her name) helped us learn there are four things customers should receive along with their Peppermint Mocha:

Smiles, Acknowledgement, Genuine Care, Knowledge

And don’t we all want this, not just when we get coffee, but every day we put ourselves out there in this big, cold world. Serve me up a smile and a hearty “hello”, ask me how my day is going and send me on my way with confidence that you know what you’re doing, and I’ll be back for more.




My Friend’s Journey with ALS: 31 Days of Selah

He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”

Joshua 4:24

My friend, Kathy, is living with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive disease that affects nerve cells.

Recently, I shared what I know of both the loss and the joy my friend is experiencing because of the disease. Today, I’m sharing her most recent blog post here. Please read it and be encouraged and blessed. I know it will draw you to selah when you consider the verse from Joshua that she has chosen as the foundation for her writings.


Breathe. We all do it. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. Without thinking. If we don’t, we die.

Webster defines breathe as: to take air into the lungs and then expel it, especially as a regular physiological process.

This week I’ve been thinking about breathing more than normal. Why? Because it’s getting harder for me. to. breathe.

My particular form of ALS attacks the upper body and affects my swallow, speech and breathing. These are all things that most of you never give thought to; they are almost automatic. I think about it more that I used to.

I can’t walk to the back of our property without becoming winded. I can’t speak a whole sentence for lack of breath.

I used to pause on top of the gravel pit and breathe in the changing seasons; I would crush lavender every time walked in the garden and breathe deeply of its fragrance. I never imagined what life would be like without breathing.

The other day I came across an entry from my journal from April 9, 2013:

O God, my passion is to be used by you, Whatever it is that you want me to do, Lord, send it to me. Make me walk in your ways, because you know the number of my days; how fleeting my life is. The span of my years is as nothing before you. My life is but a breath. Lord I want to BREATHE FOR YOU.”

That’s the cry of my heart again. However long the Lord may allow me to live, may I breathe in His sweet spirit and breathe out His love.

This hymn from my childhood is stuck in my head:

“Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew,

that I may love the way you love, and do what you would do.”

Children! Keep Breathing! Remember He gave His last breath to offer you salvation. Breathe for Him.

Therefore, I lay down the stone “ breathe” as a reminder how fleeting our days are.

Kathy is a former midwife, homeschooler and organic farmer. She writes about her journey and her faith here, at

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More Than We Can Imagine: 31 Days of Selah

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

My life journey took an unexpected turn in late 2012 when doctors found a fast-growing cancerous tumor in my left breast. Early the next year, the tumor was removed, I underwent minimal radiation and therapy, and life returned to normal.

Normal, but different somehow.

In the weeks following surgery, I discovered a measure of strength and peace I could not have imagined before cancer entered my world. God not only walked beside me in this journey, he carried me. He blessed and nurtured me. And he changed me.

Miss Independent, the tough little girl who didn’t really need anyone and who could take care of herself and everyone else, found herself in need after all.

Surrounded by my family and friends, I learned to lean on them, to accept their help and prayers. And I found that the God I had returned to some 25 years earlier was more than capable of doing “immeasurably more” than I knew how to ask or imagine, “according to his power at work” within me.

I didn’t ask him to, but God changed me, not because I beat cancer, but because I let cancer lead me into a deeper relationship with my Creator and Savior.

The month after treatment ended — the same month I celebrated my 60th birthday — my husband blessed me with a healing trip to Florida. The sunset photo was taken on a beach along the Gulf of Mexico. Water is my “happy place” and God spoke volumes to me while I let the sun do its healing.

Our church family has been challenged to memorize Ephesians 3:20 as we welcome a new pastor. The verse I underlined in my Bible many years ago is more than a promise. It’s a truth that I claim and proclaim:

“….to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”   Selah

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Note To Mature Women: To Teach, We Must Be

Young women have been on my mind a lot lately.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent selah* in Titus, Paul’s letter to the young pastor he assigned to the Greek island of Crete. As I read slowly and contemplatively, and as I hear our pastor teach on this portion of scripture, I’m struck by some verses in Chapter 2, where Paul gives Titus advice on how to guide different segments of his congregation. Regarding mature women (my age group), he says this:

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:3-5

Any woman who has sought God’s plan and will in each season of her life has been told she should strive to become a “Titus 2 woman”. The weight of that calling is especially profound as I realize Paul places responsibility for teaching younger women squarely in the lap of mature women.

Paul tells Titus to instruct mature men “to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” He also tells him to “encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned….”

But not a word on how Titus should instruct younger women. Paul leaves that role to the mature women.

In his letter, he makes it clear that the best way mature women can teach younger females godly character is by example, “to be reverent in the way they live.” Only then, after they have “walked the talk” are they qualified to give instruction to the younger ones, “to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands.”

To TEACH, I must BE. Click To Tweet

Some days, I fall far short of the call to reverence issued in Titus. I may not be “addicted to wine” but I can be impatient, self-centered, slothful and, yes, a slanderer.

But I also know I am formed in Christ’s image and I live under God’s grace. That is what I can offer to young women the Lord has brought into my realm of influence, even as I strive to live out Titus 2. I stand on those truths as I heed the call to “teach what is good.”

When I hold the hand of a young mother who struggles in her marriage, who is trying to be a good Mama and a patient Wife, but is overwhelmed by the challenge of it all, and we pray and speak of God’s grace.

When next to me on the church pew, tears are streaming down the face of a new friend, broken and lonely and regretting so many mistakes as she tries hard to press in to the grace and forgiveness and glory of this God who’s captured her life. It is so real to her, and still so very hard, because she knows her choices have hurt the very fruit of her womb, the ones she loves beyond understanding. I remind her she is created in the image of Christ.

Photo credit: davidewart

Photo credit: davidewart

And on a late summer evening when I serve coffee shop customers alongside young women giddy with the prospect of future husbands, children and LIFE, I remind myself of Paul’s instruction. I offer encouragement and gentle counsel, perhaps not with words, but with presence.

While I can’t offer these young women the perfection of a fully mature, completely reverent woman of God, I can extend to them the hand of experience, the counsel that all strength is found in faith and in scripture, and the gift of knowing God’s grace will cover it all.

* The word “Selah” occurs seventy-three times in the Psalms, and is found also in Habakkuk. The exact meaning of the word is unknown, but it’s believed to be a command to “pause, or reflect.”

Thought-provoking-thursday-banner_NEWSharing this post today at 3DLessons4Life


When It’s Time To Close the Door: Five Minute Friday

My first thoughts on this first day of May were about the newness of this season. As I looked out my bedroom window at the green grass, sunshine, budding trees, I thought “fresh starts”.

Oh, how I love them.

Do-overs, new days, new seasons.

Open doors.

But the thing about open doors is that to enter them, we must leave something behind. Close a door, if you will.

Unlike “Let’s Make A Deal”, there are not just three doors to choose from in our lives. Three doors to open, or to leave closed. There are many. And, again unlike the game show, once we choose one, we’re not stuck with it.

Grace. God’s grace allows us to turn away from a wrongly chosen door, to close it and say “not for me”.

He’s the King of fresh starts, do-overs, new days, new seasons.

What door do you need to close today? What choices have you made that you know were wrong — choices you wish you could walk away from?

You can, you know. You have a grace-filled, forgiving Savior who says “It’s time for a fresh start. Begin a new day. Close that door. Choose me.”

When we choose — whether it’s door number one, two or three — we have the assurance that He’s already paid the price.

Five-Minute-Friday-4Linking up today at Five Minute Friday as I write for just five minutes on the word DOOR.

If You Have a Perfect Plan, Lord, Don’t Let Me Sabotage It

I’m a planner. Always have been, probably always will be.

The first-born of five children, growing up I was the self-appointed boss of my little kingdom. On those long summer vacations, I would plan out daily activities — not only for myself but for my younger siblings. In the morning, there would be time for reading and maybe some exploring or playing on the swing set. Then, if we were lucky and didn’t have chores after lunch, we’d stage a drama that (of course) I would write and direct. My sisters and brother weren’t always on board with my plans, but I never gave up trying.

Me and my sisters with Grandpa Koch. Our little brother hadn't come along yet. I'm the  one in charge, second from the right.

Me and my sisters with Grandpa Koch. Our little brother hadn’t come along yet. I’m the one in charge, second from the right.

My well-honed planning skills came in handy when I began home schooling our four sons. Every weekend, I labored over detailed lesson plans and started Monday mornings with renewed determination to end the week by crossing off everything on my school “to do” list.

It rarely happened. A couple of years and a few stubborn students into our home school journey, I decided that some plans are just goals and we pretty much became “freestyle” home schoolers. (Don’t worry — they all graduated our home school and are successful, productive adults.)

I still like a good, well-drawn plan, even if it means I may sabotage it later. Most Sunday evenings, I pull out my Day-Timer to write down what I expect to be doing between appointments and other obligations already on the calendar for the week ahead. I note phone calls to be made and items to be purchased (including when and where). The practice makes me feel in control and saves me when memory fails.

Imagine my delight when I recently began to see a plan that could only be of God’s making play out before my eyes.

I don't believe in coincidence. I lean toward Divine Providence. Click To Tweet

I don’t believe in coincidence. I lean toward Divine Providence. I’ve always laid the big things before God, asking Him to listen and respond to my requests. You know the kind of prayers I mean. “Heal this, fix that, make me better, make him more understanding, keep us safe.”

I haven’t stopped praying those things, but lately I’ve found myself saying more often “your will, your provisions, your PLAN.”

And He’s been doing some crazy stuff with my Day-Timer, with my “to do”, “to read” and “to study” lists. There seems to be a theme, a common thread — a plan — running through the opportunities, people, conversations, books, Bible studies, Sunday school lessons and online blogs that come into my world.

And it’s not of my making. Why am I so surprised?

God’s plan for this final quarter of my life isn’t clear yet, but I’m seeing things come together in a way I could never have imagined. Maybe it began when I wrote my Fourth Quarter Manifesto.

Or maybe when I let that last student of mine move seven hours away.

Or maybe when I stopped talking and started listening, then waiting with expectation.

I’m excited to see where God goes with this plan of His. I’m also pretty sure He knows I would be willing to chime in, should He need some help moving things forward. But until He calls, it’s hands-off because I’m all on board with letting Him lay out what He wants to do with this final quarter of my earthly life.

“Lord, just don’t let me sabotage your Perfect Plan.”