Be Still

In a world flooded with words and opinions, find time to be still and know that He is God.

Remember, when we pray we can simply listen to God, as Mother Teresa once said. When asked what God does then she replied, He listens, too.

Companionable silence.

In a world where quiet and solitude so often get neglected, be still.

Connect with the peace and sheer power of our Almighty God who knows the future. He holds the Present. He heals the past. Gentle is strength under control. Marvel in His gentle beauty, His tender compassion and grace.

Cease striving. Quiet your heart.

Rest. Be renewed.

Coming Home

On this cool morning, I’m sitting on my friends’ porch. The sound of birds and farm equipment during harvest soothe my soul. The blueberry fields across the road form lovely lines and in the distance the swathed grass seed awaits the combine. I hear the mourning doves and maybe some pigeons, along with a choir of other birds. Maisy hasn’t discovered that I’m here yet. She’s a happy Swiss Bernese Mountain Dog that I have enjoyed since she was just a puppy. Now she’s a very large one year old. Bumblebees enjoy the salvia in front of me. The long porch with white wooden rocking chairs feels so inviting. I feel incredibly blessed.
Just after sunrise this morning, I checked on Jackie and Ken. He’s settling in since arriving back home from the care facility yesterday. This wonderful couple is adapting so well already. She lovingly guides him and he manages to get up and around with the right equipment. Delighted at being reunited, they smile a lot, and their good humor and obvious love for each other touches my heart. Married almost as long as I’ve been alive, they have a wonderful partnership. I think she said they’ve lived in the same house for 50 years now. The only time they’d been apart, except for during COVID after his health crisis, was when he biked across the entire US, and another time when he biked from Canada to Mexico. This couple knows how to live! At the care facility, they were only allowed to see each other through a little window, and that felt like torture. Their obviously close friendship inspires me.
I hope Jerry and I continue to cultivate such a vibrant relationship that endures for decades. When we’re old, I hope we’ll care for one another joyfully, sharing our sorrows and challenges with grace and humor. Sometimes we do well at that. Sometimes we don’t. We’re human.
We already have plenty of physical limitations and conditions to overcome together. We grieve inwardly, and outwardly that grief shows up in various ways.  Sometimes I need to remember that anger is a dimension of grief, and if not expressed in healthy ways, it will show up in strange ways.  More on that in another blog. We’ve made it through a lot in these five years. I love Romans 8 where it talks about how nothing can separate us from His love, and how God causes all things to work together for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Somehow our love grows stronger as we endure various trials. Somehow, by God’s infinite grace, we grow closer to the LORD and as a result we learn about His Hesed. God’s steadfast, enduring devotion, His covenant love…we get to experience these things in our marriage. We get to experience hanging in there when things are challenging. We learn about loving each other when love doesn’t come naturally. We find a way to forgive each other when we fail miserably. We carry on and we forgive one another because He first forgave us, even when we were hostile to Him. He loves us with a steadfast love. Marriage is a wonderful classroom.  A living laboratory. A chance to fail, to grow, to persevere. To reach the end of ourselves, and allow Him to heal and transform the broken places that painful times reveal.
I call marriage the Beautiful Struggle.

Be absolutely His: writing as worship, an offering to the Lord

After being with so many writers at the summer conference last week, I’ve pondered many things. Being a writer and responding to His leading raises a lot of emotions, doesn’t it? I appreciated how many of the speakers talked about the feelings we might have as writers. Sometimes we feel like we are “not enough.” Sometimes we wrestle with doubts or feel intimidated by the task before us. (I have 1 Chronicles 28:20 posted near my desk as a reminder not to be frightened by the size of the task, but instead to be strong and courageous and get to work because the Lord my God is with me, and He will help me.) We all have various motives for writing, but as believers, we write in response to His calling on our lives. We write as an offering to Him.

Many people I met last week write as an expression of who they are, and because they love to write. I’m sure some write with the hope of publication and some income. Then there’s a whole industry to try to comprehend … with a huge learning curve. Deadlines and improving our craft become vital. Some writers in this world write to make a name for themselves, but as Christians we ultimately write to magnify the name of Jesus, not for our own fame.

We are His Creation, and our identity is found in Christ. I pray that we never get lost in finding our place in the world or become too caught up in how to succeed in this industry. Yes, we have plenty to learn. But “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared forehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV). A text just arrived from my friend with a precious reminder: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”  – Psalm 121:1-2

My prayer is to never lose sight of writing as a way to honor and glorify the Lord, to somehow share His love and grace with a world that needs Him. Rather than feeling stress and pressure to perform well, I pray that I can abide in Him and that writing flows from abiding in the True Vine, my source of life and inspiration. Just as the cherry tomatoes grow and ripen on the vines of the sprawling plant in my garden, I pray that any fruit that comes from my efforts reflects the Vine. The power comes from Christ.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:4-5 (ESV)

While living in China years ago, I heard a tape of Jill Briscoe talking about how her writing only had power when it came from a heart already worshipping the Savior when she picked up the pen. Oh, Father, please help me to begin my days in worship, finding my identity and hope in You. Help me not to splash the page with ink before I have found myself hidden in You.

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  2 Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.    Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)