Tag Archives: life

Planting Shade Trees Through Story

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For the ladies of @mrocommunitycenter that travel. We have learned many stories this year that tell of who God is and more specifically stories that like Sally Clarkson have transformed my life!

Stories about ordinary people that crossed my path over my husband’s 23 year U.S. Air Force career. People who lives out bold faith for me to model as I watched them in their ordinary lives “do small things with great love” Mother Teresa

This amazing work done by Sally Clarkson inspires us to look for life-stories along the pathway of faith and life. Each one of us making impact through our daily interaction with our circle of life.

You will love Sally’s beautiful heart! She is like us. Seekers empowered by the faith-filled life stories of others! Stories that are must shares and worthy of our attention.

So breathe this all in with me as I share excerpts from Sally Clarkson’s recent blog post- Planting Shade Trees Through Story

Here’s the link for the full blog post. Seriously a must read!!

https://www.storyformed.com/blog/2017/7/4/planting-shade-trees-through-story

“That’s when my heart skipped a beat, and God took the words of a comedian I don’t even remember and began to reveal to me His plan for the rest of my life…..” 

“Like shade trees, stories give us roots. Stories connect us to the world and show us what it’s like to be human… 

Stories also remind us of the hope we have in the Gospel. The story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the most important and greatest story ever told….. 

Stories, like family histories and local lore, can also ground us in our sense of self, place, and community. Like shade trees…..

Stories inspire us to great heights.

Stories inspire us with the same sense of wonder and imagination. It is through story that we can catch a vision of all that is possible in our amazing world. 

We read of heroes, inventors, explorers, creators, and we began to think, “if he can do that, maybe I can too!” 

Like shade trees, stories offer protection. When we hear tales of tragic choices or misguided decisions and see the disastrous consequences, those lessons are stored up in our hearts and minds and, hopefully, keep us from making similar mistakes. 

Stories also offer protection in the way that they form and restore our souls. Tales abound of people who survive difficult situations and circumstances because they called on the power of stories in the midst of their trials to sustain their hope. 

Corrie Ten Boom, in her book The Hiding Place, tells about how, night after night, the Biblical stories sustained her and her fellow prisoners in the concentration camps. 

Like shade trees, stories yield fruit. The purpose of planting stories as shade trees in the hearts and minds of ourselves and our children is so that, ultimately, the seeds come to fruition. 

“Story-formed children grow to adulthood understanding that they have been specially formed by a loving God, destined for his kingdom, specially crafted to love, create, and conquer. They have reason to respond to their parents’ training, to work and learn, hope and know, because stories assure them that right choices and brave actions are the force behind happy endings.”  -Sarah Clarkson, Caught up in a Story

The fruits of the immigrant great-grandfather’s diligent work of planting shade trees were enjoyed by his descendants for generations. But he planted more than physical trees that day. 

He told a story, and that story made its way to me in that wooden pew 1000 miles and three generations away, on an ordinary Sunday evening. And a spiritual seed was sown in my heart that continues to grow to this day. He never saw the fruits of his labors. He never enjoyed the relief from the oppressive Texas heat. He never even knew that one day a woman in North Carolina would catch a lifelong vision as a result of his tale. 

But the fruit remains. Like him, as parents we may never see the fruits of our labors as we diligently work to surround our children with the very best stories, in hopes that the stories will shape them. 

“Blessed is the one…[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1

Excerpt from blog post by Sally Clarkson @ Story Formed Blog

https://www.storyformed.com/blog/2017/7/4/planting-shade-trees-through-story

She Senses The Worth of Her Work

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She Senses The Worth of Her Work

I have aspired to these words because of the faithful example of my grandmother. 

I lived to know “love” like she did. 

Genuine, transparent and honest.

I lived to “do” as she did out of genuine love for others.

No matter their story, she gave, served and never doubted her commitment to the opportunity that God would provide. 

Available. Sensitive. Attentive.

I live to “live” like she did. 

Full. Free. Faithful.
By faith, with the Lord’s help and empowered by the “helper”, the Holy Spirit. 

She was the breath of God and that passion still breathes in me. 

She was opulent. She was a lover of life, a dreamer of big dreams and a faithful servant of God.

Why? 

Because God never does things half-way.

She was brave, strong-minded and invincible, with a whole lot of Scarlett O’Hara in her. 

She picked up the pieces in the midst of tragedy and built life kingdoms with love, grace, kindness and faith. 

My grandfather, her husband, would succumb to a heart attack at the age of 42. Gone too soon. She was resilient and has a push through attitude- There was not an option to quit but to thrive, not just survive!

Yet the steel resolve, life’s had chiseled in stone on my grandmother’s brow as her face told her story of hard things. 

YES! Hard things. 

She grew up a tobacco and watermelon farmer’s daughter. They lived on land inherited from my great-grandmother Emma Blanche Melvin. Her father, Larry Fisher married into a very wealthy, yet hard-working family and proceeded to the work of his hand- a 200 hundred acre farm alongside of his beloved.

Only two of their children survived their childhood. It was challenging but God was faithful to fill their small family with love,  mercy and commitment to giving to the greater good of others.

Sadness. Loss. Struggle. 

My grandmother would learn it all too well herself! She gave birth to my mother, Anne, and she would be her only child after many lost pregnancies.
I have never known such rich love and I have failed at much of the active part of faith spoken to and based on the “perfect” Proverbs 31 wife.

Yet I know grace, an unending love for my Savior and a commitment to give my life to loving and serving others in Jesus name.

So while I never expected unrealistic perfection from my grandmother I learned about grace from her. Grace given. Grace received. She owned her failure, sorrow, pain, offered up a sincere apology for any error and then picked herself up to blaze a new and good path forward. 

I LOVED, still love and admire her tenacity. No time to waste! She KNEW the worth of her work and she challenged me to live the same. She lived fully present despite being a widow until she died.

Passion. To dream big dreams. To obey every little unseen yet worthy sacrifice to see it to the end and to the best of my ability.

She taught me real things. Like how to make biscuits. My favorite place was standing on a short stool at the white and red metal table. Most every morning she cooked and I made biscuits. He morning routine included listening to the local news, weather and of course the obituaries on the old radio in her kitchen. I was offended shushed up so that she could hear. When she hears about a need, an unexpected loss, felt moved with compassion- we’d make more biscuits, fry some chicken, pack a box with it all and add some sweet tea. 

We’d pile in the car and deliver food made with love, wrap compassions arms around someone with great love and set the table, put ice in the glasses and make sure everyone was cared for. She  would say to me as we left every time, “We can only pray that the mourner’s sorrow would be made light with loves response.”

So, Mama Hales, this one is for you! I cannot imagine my life of faith without your tender heart and guided hand that faithfully taught me how to find my passion for doing good with my life and encouraged me to extend mercy and grace to everyone one small step at a time.

Heaven is better for you being there as I can imagine your strong demeanor and passion is bowed low before the Heavenly Father in worship. You are praying us forward and encouraging us to not lose heart. To keep the faith. To obey the Father. To never forget God’s love for us. To serve Him for all of our days.

Not one will ever likely tell of the your impact in your small world but I will remain faithful to every little thing that I am tasked to do- for YOUR glory and our good. 

So much to learn, so much to surrender and so much left to live- a beautiful legacy of faith that you have gifted us with and now we hold it all in our hearts until heaven.

“A good woman is hard to find,and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.

She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises. 

She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfastfor her family and organizing her day. 

She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. 

She senses the worth of her work……and is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. 

She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. 

She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. 

She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. 

She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.

Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. 

She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. 

She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,

and keeps them all busy and productive. 

Her child(ren) respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise.

“Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” 

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.

Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!” 

Proverbs 31:25-3I

The Good and Perfect Road After Wilderness

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“The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” Exodus 13:21

Giving thanks this morning for the Lord our God who always goes before us. 

A beautiful reminder this morning that even though Pharaoh and all of Egypt’s army was in full pursuit of Moses and the people of Israel, God led them on the way day and night to safety at the edge of the wilderness.


Another Daytona. 

Another road that leads to the place where our life’s work meets fulfillment and joy.

Another opportunity to live among the people we love, do real life with, serve, care for and experience reciprocal love. A gift.

Another weekend of heart-living as Team MRO. There is a beautiful thing that happens week in and week out as God brings us together where the road leads us as friends, co-laborers uniquely gifted by God who has melded our hearts to unite as one. Pretty amazing gift even on the most challenging days.

Some days this heart feels so very small, incapable and unworthy, yet I remain assured of the call that God has placed on my life for such time as this. Not only to live out my life as a follower of Christ but to surrender to go wherever He leads.

As we go this morning…… 

I give thanks for protection and safety all along the thousands and thousand of miles of road that we have been entrusted with to follow. 

I praise you for provision Lord, for daily bread, for the resources that we need to do the work and for every little dream that we could ever dream that you have faithfully been the way-maker.

I am overwhelmed by the gift of the Holy Spirit, Your undying, unrelenting love in pursuit of my heart and all of Your beloved creation. The immeasurable depths of Your mercy and grace. You lavish strength and the courage as You empower us to do the work we put our hands to. You are the faithfulness and complete behind every limited ability that I bring to the team You have assembled for Your glory.

Thank you Lord for health and wellness on the days when we may struggle. We look to you and surrender our weak, tired and sometimes broken bodies. You are our Jehovah-Rapha- The Lord our healer.

Not sure where you are in your faith journey today. 

Maybe you stand where God has brought you through the wilderness, you face the promised land and the future is bright with hope. Praying you forward friend! #keepthefaith #celebrate

Maybe you are overwhelmed by the course your life has taken, the path has been paved with pain and you see no way through, around or over the mountain that looms ahead. Praying for peace, comfort and direction.

No matter the challenge you face; years of wilderness, broken heart, armies, giants, mistakes, Red Seas, fortified walls, sins that haunt you, water-rising, decisions, fear, doubt or mistakes- God is there. Just as He was with Moses, He can do the same for you.

Look for Him to lead you by day and by night. You read this today because God brought you here!!

Get into the Word of God. Seek truth and pursue it like manna from heaven. Listen for that still small voice and obey.

Open your eyes and with the strength of the Lord look straight into that challenge and believe God to make a way.

For the heart that can rejoice today in sweet deliverance, tell your story. We learn who God is in every wilderness place and the things you learned is your story and the wandering heart’s answered prayer. Go forward with the story God has written just for you there is someone right now who needs to hear it! 

Finally, don’t look back except to remember what God has done. To use the challenges that did their best to defeat you but God led you all the way and you were NOT defeated but victorious by the mighty hand of God. Speak it forward!!

Right at the edge of the wilderness, Moses would establish what was to be an annual celebration- and oh I just love that!!! 

He told the people after instructing them to “tell it to the children all that God has done”. He went on to say, “this (celebration) will be like a sign upon your hand, a memorial between your eyes, the teaching of God in your mouth.” Exodus 13:9-10

He then reminded and challenged them with these words. 

“It was with a powerful hand that God brought you out of Egypt…” Exodus 13:11

It is with that same power that we go. To tell the children what God has done, carry the sign of who God is in our lives inside and out and tell the story of God’s great power and love with every person we meet along the way.

So as it is with Team MRO this season of 2017. We are all in and ready. Hands gathered center as one, we encircle those we go to serve and shout 1, 2, 3 #LetsGo

Let me help you get started in the telling of YOUR story today. 

Simply share where you are on your journey below. 

#wilderness 

#onthegoodroad

#celebration

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Looking For Lovely

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As a musician and singer, this excerpt from “Looking For Lovely” by Annie F. Downs rings so near to how my heart beats not only for corporate worship but my private interaction with the Lord as worship throughout my day.

While I rarely get to sing and lead worship these days, savoring alone times with the Lord Jesus fuels my spirit. It is there my soul finds encouragement, rest and refreshing.

As author Annie F. Downs, Looking For Lovely writes,

“Based on what’s going on with my day, or in my heart, I take their melody and some of their words and add my own. Because sometimes I like to worship God through a song that’s my own and sometimes getting through a hard day or a hard moment is only possible when I bring my own lovely truth into it.”

Learning to purpose to find the lovely in every single moment of every good, hard or indifferent day has been transforming. A simple practice that implements a small shift- fixing my eyes and fixing thoughts on Jesus in the midst of Him writing my story- for His glory!

~allowing the melody of that day to become my song

Yes!

Just wondering how your day might be going? Can you step back and easily acknowledge your truth and melody?

My soul has learned to sing with breathing melodies. It is not always pretty but it is authentic and honoring to God.

Sweet communion with Him always cares for me so perfectly!

What’s YOUR story of finding the lovely today?

I’d really love to hear! ❤️ Mel

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

 

Looking For Lovely

God’s Comfort, Strengh and Healing Through Pain and Loss

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God’s Comfort, Strengh and Healing Through Pain and Loss

I remember the phone call just like it was yesterday. I was joyfully pregnant with our second child and busy with our about to be two year-old daughter. These were busy, tiring and beautiful days.

It was just after midnight. The phone rang and after the hello, my parent’s neighbor Sam asked immediately to speak with my husband Monty. It struck me as odd but I handed the phone to him. As I watched Monty’s face, I knew in my spirit that my daddy was gone. 

Monty held me and whispered the most painful news that I had ever known. The wave of emotion took my breath. I fell to my knees and was just sure that my heart would stop beating. Nooooooo……. I willed myself to breathe.

The details were cut and dry. Simple. He went to sleep and never woke up. Later his autopsy would tell that the artery on the backside of his heart exploded. The widow-maker artery. There was nothing that could have been done even if there had been a doctor right beside of him. 

There was no consolation in that. It was just simply the facts surrounding his early and unexpected death. My father Morrison was forty-two years old. My life then and even now still knows and aches with the pain of losing him. 


I had no idea that this journey toward healing would lead me to run straight into the arms of my Heavenly Father. In brokenness and grief, I learned more about faith, trusting and resting in the comfort that can only come from God. In the days ahead, all that I knew how to do was to hold on tight and be held by the power that was greater than it all.

I learned soon that the process of grieving would not happen overnight. It would happen in phases. Everything that I had learned about God to date immediately came into question. My not so welcomed journey toward healing and peace was paved with hard places, tears and grace. For the first time in my life I learned what it meant to be held by God and to be surrounded by His faithfulness.

I am not sure what pain your heart may carry today. But the following are some of the words that carried this small heart, brought me back to life and helped me learn to breathe again. 

Jesus knows the pain we are going through and He cares.


In 1985, encouraged me to dive even deeper into God’s Word. The truth is, I did so out of obedience. Nothing made sense but I longed and needed to know Him more. The washing of the water of the Word was my rescuer’s beginning work of transformation not just an sure and steadfast God but my Heavenly  Father and loving God!

During the blur of dark days, there was no greater comfort than that of the Lord. To be held in His arms of love led me safely and renewed my hope.


Our strength comes from the Lord and the Lord alone. There were some days filled with unreasonable fear and the discouragement was a heavy weight that my body became accustomed to carrying. Yet there were days where the light I glimpsed in the distance lifted my gaze. For tomorrow’s bright hope, I fought hard to remain fully there. When I face hard things and feel God’s palpable hold, I am taken back to where my spirit’s strength was forged in fire.


Healing starts where pain, grieving and loss begin. In the deafening silence, there are whispers. God is faithful to draw our lives in the midst of real-life, to honest, yet peaceable places until the promised reuniting with those we have loved so well and miss so very much. 

I can honestly say that the healing came only in complete surrender. 

For every day that was lost to just making it though the necessary moments, God would restore and in the midst of that transforming power I learned to receive grace. 

In learning to receive grace, I can now give grace more freely because it is the pure and true grace of God that I have known so deep in my heart and soul.

The real truth is, I no longer need to understand, explain it nor feel robbed. I can rejoice in the Lord’s redeeming work in my life. Today I was compelled to share because so many people that I know and love are broken, hurting, grieving, suffering, longing, waiting and feeling isolated and alone.

These things I know at this day’s end, that no matter our pain, our Lord Jesus is enough. I am also very well aware that someone telling you HOW you should feel or respond does no good and just alienates you even more from the pathway to healing. In this world we WILL know pain and suffering. 

So what is the answer when you wonder if you will ever feel again? Laugh again? Believe again? Breathe again?

Find another heart who will listen. Reach out to me because the pain is real and I want to hold your hand, walk alongside of you and find you the support that your heart needs. More than anything it is imperative for you to know that your feelings are fair, platitudes just make you mad and the God who loves and created you is the strength behind the very air when you feel you cannot breathe.

And the suffering for “a little while” (OK so that “little while” ‘may fully feel like forever right now)….. and that is ok!

The grief. The pain. The heartache. The loss. The fear. The doubt. 

Not one of those emotions will ever go away nor should we wish that they would but instead their reseidence in our spirits will continue to mold, direct and shape us until we see Jesus face to face. For today and for compassions sake, we are attentive and wait to move until we feel that tug from the Holy Spirit to step toward another life and speak words of hope as one who knows, understands and God has woven His best through their very own valley of the shadow of death.

God promises.

God does.

God will. 

Restore. Support. Strengthen. Place you on a firm foundation.

Defining moments change us from the inside out and in His sovereignty God wants the very best for His beloved. We trust God, faithfully surrender and release every transforming moment back to the Lord as our gift. 

Through it all, He remains constant with gracious direction that sings over us as we become the beautiful grace-givers that He has perfectly guided and shaped for the love and care of others.

David knew this very well. We camp here and raise our hands and voices in worship. 

Goodness. Unfailing Love. Forever.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. 

He guides me along right paths bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

The Hiding Place Forgiveness and Faith by Corrie Ten Boom

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https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians%205:21&version=NLT

“It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, a former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” He said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggles to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I prayed, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

~Corrie ten Boom, the Hiding Place

The Life Community of Hearts in Cancer Treatment

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“Whom have I in heaven but you? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…….as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.” Psalm 73:26

Such calm and peace on this Good Friday as I reflect at the end of this weeks journey alongside of new and unexpected friends. Yesterday, day 4 of my mom’s radiation, there were no huddled families discussing details, overwhelmed with information or shuddering hard as they face cancer’s abrupt detour along winding roads. 

I took a deep breath as I chose my place to settle. I take my mom’s coat and purse before she signs in and off she goes. Today, I am a little sad that the beautiful window into hearts of late may not be as telling of God’s presence that has been so real. Truly my strength has come in the honest surrender and in the telling stories of the providence of God’s plan for every soul. He continues to show Himself trustworthy. His glory in meeting the hearts of His beloved in hard places of fear and unrest is woven in almost every conversation. Today I miss the sweet moments of care among this community that know this so very well.

I quietly give thanks to the Lord for the sweet communion He has given as a gift. Cancer, this precious and uniquely crafted pearl, began as an irritant but is proving to create, if only in my heart alone, a thing of beauty. These are the daily miracles that tell our life’s story. Cancer. Life altering disease. An accident. Financial ruin. A rebellious child. Hard things that we learn in the midst of finding  what is good and  to that we cling….. There are beautiful stories of perseverance, bravery, strength, faith, deliverance……. On this day, my heart longs to tell of them all as Cancer teaches me how to live an even deeper entrenched life carved out by God in this battlefield

I close my eyes and smile after what seems like hours of God’s presence permeating my spirit. And when my eyes open, she sits down one seat away and in that grand space she is now adjacent to me. And of course, the Lord well knows that I will not ignore that I have seen her. Her hair is  gone, her small frame so frail and weak. I speak hello in the awkward silence. I make sure that our eyes meet. Her bald head is of no importance to me but I have seen the anxious stares of those who do not know what to say. She bends her head down and puts her hand on top of her head as if to hide the obvious. I want to run and wish that I had not spoken and drawn even more awkward attention to the obvious. All too well I know that He longs to love her fully and even more real in the next few moments that we share.

This beautiful young life has been stilled and this horrible pause in her has stunned her. So I wait for a moment, I pray hard for her heart to be held and for her to know how very much God loves her. The silence is deafening. I speak quietly, out of respect. “You. Are. Beautiful. Courageous. Strong. Fearless. Loved.” She raises her head. We were alone in this large waiting space. In a whispered response that I can barely hear, she responds “I keep praying for strength.” I reach deep and am reminded that everyday faith-based, God-Inspired responses does little to comfort a despairing heart.  While I know that God is good, His ways and plans are perfect every day of our lives are not always supernaturally “happy”. No platitudes. Only whispers of hope unspoken and in the silence I beg God to speak peace to her whole being. Our eyes stay fixed and I feel her soul beg for rescue.

  

Few words are exchanged between us in this timeless window. She IS a person of faith but for her, cancer has tested everything that she thought she knew. She laughs and speaks boldly of her new-found life experience; “Easy to trust God, praise Him and celebrate when you have your hair and health.” We smile. I may not know THIS very well….but these things I do know from every messy place that God has gifted on my life’s journey to wander. I restrain myself from running to her. This was NOT that moment. I encourage her to run hard and fast to the truths that her heart knows. It is fair for our hearts to feel abandoned and to wonder why. Why me? Why now? And I swallow hard, but really- Why not? 

I wish that I could say that my response along life’s hard places have  always been that of a beauty surrendered with no whys, no doubts and always FULL faith. 

She is so very weak. I see her settling back to find that comfortable place. She is day 30 of radiation after a very long and aggressive series of chemotherapy.

The truth is, moments allowed like these in the full scope of the sovereignty of God have ALWAYS led me to my knees. As His beloved, that is exactly where God fully is. In our surrender, He bows low to where we are because He understands more than we the pain of suffering. Dying on a cross so that we can live, not just glide through life but know it in abundance. 

His love and care shape us. His glory appears when we let go and receive in knowing and understanding that He sees, He knows and carries the pain and suffering In our lives. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. He holds us strong as does the Father and the Holy Spirit. He hears our most intimate tellings and the very things our hearts are never prepared for. Beloved of God, Jesus, the prince of peace, is at the right hand of God the Father interceding on your behalf.

Out time together ends and yesterday as night fell, my heart was still mulling over this 3-5 minute God ordained appointment and I give thanks. Not for the eyes to see but the heart to know, to feel and identify with in some small way the indescribable pain of facing ones own mortality. This heart acknowledges my responsibility to examine my own life. To boldly live out the days that I am given instead of getting derailed by the things beyond my control. To find the balance in it all, so as not to miss the world around us as we run fast forward through life. To march fully into each day that we are given and take hold of life even more purposefully on this side of heaven. The journey through suffering prepares us to be even more committed to the work of the kingdom of God, to its building and to bring glory to the indescribable gift of eternal life. 

Living in this world is not eternal life. Learning to live well even in dying leaves behind the beauty of God’s promise through Christ…..

I have gone to prepare a place for you. Do not be afraid. 

These things I know, at this day’s beginning……

She will wrangle with the Lord during these days that seem to stand still in time as she faces the valley of the shadow of death. Her path will continue to be made straight as her strength to trust God fully returns. She will go to be with the Lord when and only when The Lord has made known in the heavens and His work for her is done. I find great joy in affirming her that her life has impacted and challenged mine in these sacred moments. You ARE His masterpiece, clothed in beauty. Our hearts beat together and His presence resonates with the angelic beauty waiting at the gates of heaven to welcome her…… Someday. When the Lord wills.

i open my tablet and begin to read and sing Psalm 23 over her as a prayer. My unutterable prayer beckons the heavens to open up and  envelope this precious, wounded heart and fill her up with strength, courage and peace. 

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Your are loved precious one so much more than you know……and of this we can be assured. Be comforted in knowing…… we will always be with the Lord!

Trusting God and Finding The Good Path

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At this day’s end……

We all have stories of how life can challenge us, the valley of the shadow of death moments and the need to cling to something sure, true & trustworthy. The reminder that on life’s path, we are not alone!

That difficult journey you walked today: divorce, lost job, job searching, financial despair, separation, trust is broken, daily responsibilities, physical needs, cancer, emotional needs, sickness, infertility, brokenness, infidelity, spiritual needs, loneliness, anger, disease, fear…. That answer you received along that hard road that has washed over your life like a tidal wave…… “when sorrow like sea billows roll” Horatio Spafford

Life has messy places……filled with valley’s that challenge us to find the courage and a strength that is greater to hold on to and believe in.

And God is there. Oh, so very there……and I know it is true…….how??? Because I KNOW!

The platitudes about running to God in time of need diminishes the value of being held in complete surrender; to be fully loved and comforted by a gracious God.

God IS good. His love endures forever. God is trustworthy and sure and a place where grace is more than abundant and so very real. For every heart that aches this night with the guilt of overwhelm when your feet, though firmly planted, have caved in response to unexpected news……your are numbed and you will yourself to breathe…….

I stand with you tonight as my family faces a giant fight for life and prays hard and fast for supernatural answers, the miraculous, best case scenarios and a good path that will teach us about enduring love. We will look back and know more surely how to stand strong in HIS power and might.

I stood alongside of my mom this afternoon…..the words stung! Cancer, surgeon, treatment, serendipitous, benign, cancer found early, small, not much more we can say…. Yes? Words formed in my mind that I struggled to get my mouth to understand what to do next much less speak. Sure. We will make an appointment. Next Thursday. Perfect. Thank you? I think?

Monty Self and I are her caregivers…… My sister, Claudia does all she can to support us in caring for our mom. My flesh and heart shout in my spirit, we will just fix this. Let’s “get ‘er done”. Tonight my emotions have gone from there to…..oh sweet Lord, how am I, are we going to do this? I weep. Monty and I hold on tight to each other and we cry out to to the Lord.

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us!

But for right now, until completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:11-12

These things I know……

Trusting steadily in God…..Hoping unswervingly and walking held close by the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit! We will all together find the good path…..and God has already sprinkled moments Of grace…..

~”the smallest cancer I have ever seen.” Radiologist
~”we just happened upon the cancer behind the benign” “Serendipitous” No. A sovereign and providential God!!!
~”treatable according to her positive markers” I have no idea what that means,! #trusting #blindfaith
~”the best bad news that I can share with you”
~”Do you have a surgeon? Yes. Dr._________ ” Amazing, he is one of the three we use at the Women’s Cancer Center. Go God. He has performed all of my mom’s surgical procedures through the years
~ He can meet with you and an entire care team next Thursday. Your surgeon just “happens” to be available. Thank you Lord.
~”An answer to a long and fervent prayer answered. #thevalley The reminder that God sees, He knows, He hears the fervent prayer of His beloved and His perfect love is beyond any sliver of our ability to understand.

I will not belabor any more small and perfectly timed gifts of grace. Thanks for listening. Really.

Tonight, we come, all hearts encircled in prayer and with thanksgiving before the throne of God in prayer. We rest in the shelter of His wing.

#goodpath
Monday night, I literally cleared a path through the chaos of my office for the annual termite inspector to come, check and treat. I do not like disorder and this room is the arch nemesis of the chaos of traveling 24 weeks out of the year, dumping, retrieving, repeat……all in the name of Jesus and serving the NASCAR community.

This room haunts me as I prepare for the next season but I continue to learn about truly resting fully in today and responding to every day as it needs to be prioritized and this crazy space will be ignored and likely conquered before we leave for Daytona. #itwillnotbeatme

We rallied late to create a way for access to the entry to the crawl space under one portion of our house. I dreaded this moment. Yet Monty affirmed in my heart, that even in the chaos around me, the things that drive me crazy, frustrate and distract me were not a problem. He looked beyond this momentary, light affliction to say, “You have made a good path.”

Friend, tonight your messy place is very real. My heart longs to help carry your burden. And I will surely cherish your heart alongside of mine. Today, the Lord challenged me to remember and “as a way of reminder” to encourage you to find in each new day’s offering, the “good path” in the midst of life’s random and often unforeseen, unexpected pain, heartbreak, messy chaos and craziness.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Making my way, focused on the ‘good path’ today. Will you join me?

The waves and wind still know His name! It is well with my soul.

Treasures In Heaven

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Finding Daily Quiet

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According to 1 Thessalonians 4, we are instructed to live a life that is pleasing to God. God has called us to holiness, and we have been given everything that we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. Holiness is defined as “sanctify”, to separate yourself from the world and to be dedicated to God. We dedicate ourselves to following Christ inside and out. Holy living, not perfection, grows out of personal fellowship with God.

“God is not a mere formality, it is not merely an external surrender, it is the yielding of the life in its deepest affections and in its highest powers to be ruled by Christ Jesus alone.” Ronald Dart

God is concerned with our daily walk, and with how we live the Christian life. God created man in His image because He longed for a relationship with us. Holiness is an honor and our commitment, so that is more than being nice, saying the right words, doing the right things, acting a certain way, living by a checklist of conduct, etc…. Holiness is the who we are when no one is looking and we are alone with our God. The doing what is right, even when no one really knows the total story. It is being at peace with God and resting in the surrender of “for Your will be done” and knowing that God knows and He is near. The proof of that settled time with the Lord, purposefully prioritized every day, will produce the outward manifestation of holiness. The fullness of who He is IN us as we have been set aside for holy use! He uses and works through our humility and brokenness.

Perfection is not the goal. We all inherited sin‘s nature when man fell. And on this journey of faith, there will be opportunities for the “perfect storm” to unsettle our sails and we fall. We will fail. Repent (turn back to God). Surrender. Confess. Grow. And in spite of sin’s nature within us, we will be used by God because that is how HIS grace works through the power of the Holy Spirit in and through us. He continues to love us, grow in us and shape us into the people He created us to be for his good pleasure.

God is calling us to the more of who and what He is and in every good and difficult place, we must consistently seek and pursue Him. In every still moment we are bound by covenant to acknowledge Him. And in every privilege and call to holiness, He will work all things for our good and His glory.

Let’s find the daily quiet together. We are encouraged in 1 Thessalonians 4:11a, “to aspire to live quietly. So, let’s do this thing by slowing our minds and hearts to find the quiet moments as an opportunity for more simple, yet full living. I promise, the rewriting of your time will be the best thing you can do each day.

Take the first step. Choose a verse to meditate on each day. Use the Four “L’s” to help you slow the pace and find the  answers you long for in your heart.

The Four “L’s”

Linger:

In the quiet, with humility, focus on the verse and LOOK for the answers to the need that you have and how the Lord wants your heart to see. Ling just a little longer than before…..

Listen:

In the quiet, with a rational mindset, clear the clutter. Lean in closer to HEAR the answers for the need that you have and how the Lord wants you to hear. Do not miss this time as God often whispers in our stillness.

Lift:

In the quiet, when life happens and anxieties desire is to stop any spiritual progress, LIFT UP the verse you are focused on and pray it back to the Lord. Cry out to Him as you give back the need that you have. God wants to carry this burden. His heart rejoices when we release and lift our heaviness, burden, fear, concerns, doubt, etc… back to Him.  So, you can let go. Really.

Live:

In the quiet, where God begins the working of all things together for good, begin the process of LIVING as an active participant in finding the answers to how God wants you to live out HIS holiness in your life. How will this verse change the steps that you take today? God longs to see His Word come alive in you, His beloved. One foot in front of the other….take courage in His promises.

Be assured, that God will meet with you. He is there in every moment of every day. His gaze is fixed on His creation and the role that we play in the work of His kingdom. It. Is. Written.

“….the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11

God’s grace abounds in His presence. This is the safe shelter and where we find the settled preparation for our soul’s life work…..in the multiplied quiet moments that fill our lives. His story continues as He moves and works in and through your life. It is a beautiful thing in this world. His. Will. Be. Done.

Linger. Listen. Lift. Live.

Linger. Listen. Lift. Live.
Design by Danielle Bolin