Following His Direction

The Lie of the To-Do List

January 28, 2017

Did you ever find yourself in an ugly place feeling angry and you didn’t know how you got there or worse, how to get out? I’ve been the church girl (aka the good girl) all my life. At an early age, I made a “to do” list like it was a grocery list and began to check off the things I thought I should do – to live the good girl life.

As a young adult I thought this check-list life would help me go far. I married “Mr. Right.” You know him, he lived with both parents growing up, his family attended church every Sunday and went to Disneyland for family vacations.

We got married, because he asked me.

Well, there truly was more to it than that. But right now, many years later I can’t recall what that was.

After two beautiful children, we got divorced.

There truly was more to it than that. But right now, many years later I can’t recall what it was.

Raising two tiny girls by myself, I woke up to sadness. Life was not pretty or sparkly or anything in between.

For a very long time I blamed myself. I should have done something or been someone different. If I just tried harder, worked harder I’d one day be free from the capital D anchor around my neck. I was an impatient driver, short with store clerks and angry towards anything I viewed as unfair. My hurting heart propelled a feeling of hopelessness.

One daughter learned that a to-do list was her purpose in life.

Do more, be more and someday you’ll be happy.

Heartbreak caused me to give up on myself and finally let God in.  He drew me close and showed me my attempts at finding happiness by doing and being more were for nothing.

God had something better planned. He replaced my brokenness with beauty and I began to see beauty all around me.

There are so many things I am now grateful for and I speak this gratefulness out loud as often as I remember to. My perspective has changed because I realize God doesn’t expect a good girl with a plan.

He expects a girl who looks to Him for everything.

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 4:29

God's Love

What I Learned this Year Will Change 2017 For Me

January 1, 2017

Favorite Quote – inspiration for 2017

Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.   Brad Paisley, singer and songwriter

A Cooper’s Hawk,  with its long barred gray and black tail feathers, landed in our back yard the other day! I hope he wasn’t eyeing any of the precious woodsy animals who make our home theirs.

Cooper's Hawk, photography by Paul Brace of Image-In.

Free Online College Courses for the Lifetime Learner!

I couldn’t wait to tell you about these free online courses. Hillsdale College was founded in 1844 by men and women who proclaimed themselves “grateful to God for the inestimable blessings resulting from the prevalence of civil and religious liberty and intelligent piety in the land,” and who believed that “the diffusion of sound learning is essential to the perpetuity of these blessings.”

I’ve been getting so much out of this course, An introduction to C.S. Lewis’ writings and significance. Next, my husband and I will be viewing the online course The Constitution.  Click here to learn more about online courses https://www.hillsdale.edu/

Forgotten or Chosen?

If you missed my 31 day series, click here. Follow my journey of healing and forgiveness and in the end you’ll be surprised how God blessed me. I promise you, it’s the stuff Hallmark movies are made of!

On the Nightstand

I just finished The Fear Fighting Book, by Kelly Balarie.  “Shushing up and slowing down is paramount to God working in us. God is ready to hit us with unfathomable new perspectives – ones that redefine our past, present and problems if we only stop and receive.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been searching for a new perspective. One thing I know, I am a work in progress. I thank God for the grace he gives me every day. Despite popular belief, women do not have to do more in order to be liked, accepted or loved.

God’s Grace

God’s given me grace by welcoming imperfect me with open arms. Now, I’m giving myself grace – to not be a slave to a to-do list – and instead focus on the most important thing each day and doing that. For now, I have veered from my every other Saturday blog posting.

I continue to pray that my words will point you back to God our Creator who loves us with an unconditional and unfailing love.

May 2017 be the year you find what you are looking for.

Advent

The Journey of Waiting

December 19, 2016

Waiting and journeying…The Light of God enters the world.

 

With Christmas arriving at the end of the year I naturally see it as a time to reflect. Family traditions are such a part of our celebration my thoughts easily go back to those who are no longer a daily part of my life but will always hold a special place in my heart.

 

I’ve experienced the miracle of giving birth. Waiting at times felt overwhelming. I counted and folded diapers and tiny clothes preparing for, anticipating the arrival of a newborn.

And Mary? She was waiting on our Savior.

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”  Luke 1:26-28 (ESV)

This is an example of God’s favor in the lives of his people. Mary carried a baby boy who was conceived by a miracle act of God and he was the Son of God. What feelings flooded Mary’s mind during nine months of waiting? Did insecurities plague her at night and rob her of sleep?

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God

Isn’t that like God? In his divine plan he uses plain people, with no special talent or credentials. People like you and me, broken women and men, God allows his plan to unfold through those who are willing! [Tweet that!]

Trust in the Journey

Did Mary doubt what God was doing? Did she question her ability to care for the Son of God? Did she question why she was chosen instead of someone more mature?

At times of waiting, I’ve questioned God’s timing or what seemed like a lack of response. Do you struggle with this? Can we trust God to come through?

Lord God, thank you for your Son’s birth. How long had you planned this – every star, every shepherd and every sheep. And Mary, you knew her before she was conceived in her mother’s womb. You chose a humble young woman without wealth, without prestige, and without maturity. You chose Mary to trust the plan you had for her and for her son. You chose her.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light.”

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

Following His Direction

Craig’s List Miracle

December 11, 2016

Have you felt like you were waiting on God? My fellow Word warrior, Kaitlin, from the Barefoot Blog, is hosting a month long series, Life’s Gifts in Unexpected Packages. She asked me to guest post!

 We’ve all been there. God knew what was best for me and the death of my dream brought me hope.

Coming back to work after a vacation, I found the contents of my file drawers removed and drawer locks sitting on my desk. My heart sank, I looked around and realized my employees knew something I didn’t. Like an unexpected fall that leaves you bruised and breathless, my heart ached from the sharp sting of careless words and unfair actions.  I thought, how could this happen to me?

Follow the link to hear about the unexpected gift God gave me:  Life’s Gifts in Unexpected Packages.

 

Finding Joy

What I Learned in the Thankful Month

December 5, 2016

Lumiere (light):

Who doesn’t love lights?

Lighting sets a mood, it blankets an environment with soft ambiance.

Here is an idea from the “making Lemonade” website. (I think you will love Carrie’s ideas for decorating with Christmas lights)

Using a quart-size Mason Jar, drop the battery pack of a tiny string of lights to the bottom of the jar and cover it with twinkle, or jingle or a burlap square – something that compliments your theme.  Tape the other end of the string of lights to the underside of the lid.

Surround the lit jars with a garland swag or branches from your backyard. Add a few pine cones (paint the tips with Elmer’s and dust with glitter first) and Voila!

On the Nightstand:

I just finished the book Choose and Choose Again, the brave act of returning to God’s love, by Kevin Butcher. I started reading it and finished it within one week.

Kevin Butcher is a pastor in downtown Detroit. The story is about his journey into the fullness and freedom of the healing power of the love of God our Father. I recommend this book, on so many levels.

Which leads me to the quote of the month:

“All children want to love their fathers – and to have fathers who love them in return.” Dr. Paul C. Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless

Does this ring true with you? Are you searching for his love?

If you missed my 31 day series, “Forgotten or Chosen?” you can find it here. It’s the story of my journey searching for my father and finding the unconditional love of my Heavenly Father.

Drip Coffee or French Press?

I recently learned, next to drip coffee makers a French press is the easiest way to brew a fresh cup of coffee. We have a small and large French press and use it often.

The key to avoid bitter tasting coffee or coffee sludge at the end of your cup? Grind the coffee beans correctly. You need relatively big but evenly-sized grains of coffee. A burr grinder (hand grinder like the kind our grandmothers used) works so much better than a blade grinder.

I’m on a mission to unpack the box that holds my grandmother’s – or great-grandmother’s? – coffee grinder with the hand-crank and little box that pulls out. The last time I saw it I noticed it still smells like coffee.

I am reminded, especially at this time of year, of all I have to be thankful for. Starting each day naming what I am grateful for, changes my attitude but also my perspective. 

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Forgotten or Chosen? Uncategorized

What I Learned in October

October 31, 2016

I hope you have enjoyed reading the “Forgotten or Chosen?” Series. It truly was 31 days of sharing from the heart, my story of loss and God’s redeeming love. My newly found sisters read the series and let me tell you what wonderful women they are. There is something to DNA because the crafting gene runs thick in all of us. And so much love to share, I’m amazed.

A New Family Tradition

I’ll let you in on what may become a new family tradition: we are designing and decorating paper-mache houses for Christmas! The theme is Norwegian Christmas and each of us have a set of three houses from Hobby Lobby:

Paper Mache Houses Set of Three 12.5" , 8" and 6"

Stacie and her daughter Carley in Montana, Courtney in North Dakota, my brother Tony and his wife Regan and Greg and I, have challenged each other to come up with the most original and Christmas-like Norwegian village and on reveal day, we’ll share our creations on Facebook. The rules – everything homemade except the glue and the paint and oh, “yes” to battery operated lights and fire (I know, right?) Would it be a Norwegian Christmas without fire? I’ll keep you posted.

Christmas is just around the corner! Favorite Christmas Quote: I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. Charles Dickens

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

I’d love to hear from you.

Let me know that one thing your family did when you were growing up, that brings back the soft refrain of Silent Night and the sounds of your childhood echo in your heart.

What I learned in October:

  • Grandchildren are babies one minute and grade-schoolers the next. The pages of the calendar pass more quickly now.

  • God isn’t finished with me yet. Just when I thought He was done, He’s teaching me how to love my husband like he needs to be loved.

Forgotten or Chosen?

I Am Chosen

October 30, 2016
Forgotten or Chosen?

Installment thirty, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

God took ordinary days and moments to complete the purpose he had planned for me. He took the days and tied them together and gave them to me as his gift, wrapped in exquisite paper and tied with a frilly pink bow. God took the pain and made something beautiful. I will never forget.

I’ve given up my wounded heart and God is filling it with him. He has replaced the lies stitched in my heart long ago with a confident and fully-loved heart.

My Family History

My family history has been changed, I’ve given the “old pictures a new frame,” a frame of forgiveness and beauty. I know that whatever happens in this crazy life God is and will always be the one I can count on. As I put my trust in him, I no longer fear rejection and abandonment.

God’s word speaks life into me and fills me with hope. [Tweet this!]

I am chosen and full loved by him.

“But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his wonderful grace.” Galatians 1:15, NLT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

Dear Younger Me

October 29, 2016

 Installment twenty-nine, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

I’m back again with more song lyrics that I hope touch your heart like they have mine. We sometimes regret our past yet it has made us who we are today. My past hurts help me have empathy for others who are now going through the same pain.

Listen to the lyrics as Mercy Me sings “Dear Younger Me.” But first, stop at the first video and listen to the sweet, sweet words Bart shares about his relationship with his father. This is a picture of loving like God loves us, unconditional love and grace. It will bless you today

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be
Dear younger me,

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride
Dear younger me, dear younger me

If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

Dear younger…

For those who lived the fatherless life or lived with an absent father, what I hope you take away most is that we don’t have to continue to carry the burden of someone else’s poor choices, it does not define you.

What defines you is the truth in God’s word about who you are and who God is:

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Psalm 139:3 NIV

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  Psalm 139:15, 16 NIV

Be blessed today, feel God’s love for you deep in your heart, I pray, amen.

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

The Healing God Wants for Us

October 27, 2016

Installment twenty-seven, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

Healing through Jesus

Jesus bore the pain of sin on the cross for us. We don’t have to carry painful memories of the past. God promises more for us, here on earth.

The first step to healing is to identify those feelings. Then give your painful feelings to God and ask Him to heal them. God will help you truly love those who have hurt you and love yourself so you can close the door on the past.

I have looked for love in people, desperately needing acceptance and fearing rejection the most. I have only found that unconditional, everlasting love in God’s love for me.

God’s irreplaceable love is waiting for you if you just ask.  God will fill your heart and mind with his love and give you a peace you have never known.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NIV

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” Acts 2:28 NLT

 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

The Pain of a Present Parent

October 26, 2016

Installment twenty-six, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

I’ve talked with women of all ages and so many identify with my story. What about you? Did you live the fatherless life or does the sound of my friend’s story echo in your heart and mind?

“I grew up in a nice house with two parents and a younger brother. From the outside, we looked like the perfect family. But once you came inside you would have noticed it – the silence, so thick you could walk on it. Dad worked long hours, work became his life. He rarely spoke. When he did, his eyes were distant like he was looking past me to something else.

Mom was unhappy; I realize now she didn’t know what to do. The clearest memory I have of Mom is the back of her pretty dress beneath the neatly tied bow of an apron, standing at the sink washing dishes. Although Dad was there every night for dinner, he had checked out long ago.

The icy silence continued and I couldn’t wait to leave.  On graduation day, Dad was in the garage. Mom called from the kitchen and said she didn’t want to be late. He hollered back “I’m not going.” He turned the corner of the garage and saw me standing there. Expecting an excuse to justify his absence he simply said, “I have things to do.”  I left home in August and never looked back.

Today I grieve the wasted days going through the motions of life, the same empty motions that marked the years of my lonely childhood. Searching for the love I longed for – in all the broken places, hope shriveled up as I watch my children walk the same lifeless path I walked.”

Did you grow up in the same house with your father, but still feel abandoned? Was your house as quiet as a church but without the security and peace God offers? Were you that little girl? 

God wants to wrap you in his arms and show you the irreplaceable love you have longed for. He wants you to know you are priceless in His eyes.

Talk to God and he will hear you. There isn’t anything he wants more than to have a relationship with you!

“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:10 (NIV)

 

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

A New Perspective of My Father

October 25, 2016

Installment twenty-five, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

[Father’s Day, 2016]

God’s given me a new perspective of the father I never knew. I’m grateful he is more than a black and white picture now. He was a dad to my half-sisters and did all the things dads are supposed to do.

I wouldn’t be here without him.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

 “Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ‘ashes.” – Elisabeth Elliot

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou

[September 2016]

It came in the mail today, a small department store box. Wrapped in expensive wrapping paper, pink and purple polka dots, the frilly, bright pink bow covered the top of the package.

I read the card and anticipation filled my heart.  I pulled off the paper and saw a black bag with white lettering and the word “Kjaerlighet” written on the front. Attached was a yellow post-it note from my half-sister, Stacie, where she had written “Kjaerlighet means Love in Norwegian.” My heart trembled.

Love traveled through our father to someone I didn’t know a year and a half ago. This love from a father after a lifetime of never knowing him.

God took my hand and led me through the middle of every intricate detail of this reunion.

Healing is within reach, as God takes mistakes and transforms them into something beautiful.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

Deceit and Pain of the past – LOVE wins

October 24, 2016

Installment twenty-four, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

The lies and deceit of the past have been covered by Love; reconciliation blossoms like the fragrant blooms of spring.

Our last day together we drove south to West Seattle, Alki, to our cousin’s house. My brother and I hadn’t seen Justine since she was about three. We walked up 41 steps to the front door. I turned around and the view of a ferry crossing the Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island took my breath away.

We were the first to arrive and to meet Justine’s husband and their son. They made all the favorite brunch foods, set out on the bar in the kitchen. Justine had also used our grandmother’s Krumkake iron to make the traditional Norwegian waffle cookie.

Soon, our half-brother and his wife arrived. I was surprised, he was shorter than my brother but did resemble pictures of our father when he was older. We hugged each other and I gave him the photos I had copied for him. We took pictures of the five of us together and I stood with my arm around him.

Our generation put their lives on hold to reconcile the past and repair the wrongs made by a father we never really knew. We talked for hours and poured over pictures, each of us filling in the gaps of our family history.

What would the adults responsible for the five of us have thought?

Love was the bridge that brought us together, not a careless, easy love. We made a choice to cross over and I’m so grateful we did.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 NIV

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.               1 Peter 1:2 NIV

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You

October 23, 2016
The Heart Jesus Gave You

[If you’ve missed previous days from the Forgotten or Chosen? series, click here]

Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You,” by James G. Friesen, E. James Wilder, Anne M. Bierling, Rick Koepcke and Maribeth Poole. Copyright 2013, Shepherd’s House.

We are all broken people, living in a sinful world. [Tweet that!]

This book introduces The Life Model* as a unifying approach to ministries of substance abuse recovery, counseling, pastoral care, prayer ministry, inner healing, body life and health. The Life Model is a combination of healthy spirituality, intellectual insight, a need for community and friendship to help us become transformed.

The authors focus on getting past what is in the past, how to be authentic and willing to acknowledge how things really are so God will help us discover how to be life-giving people.

People need God to recover. God’s work includes all the redemptive areas: salvation, sanctification, deliverance, and healing. It is our responsibility to mature in Him.

The Heart Jesus Gave You

When we are living from the heart Jesus gave us, we are being the person He specifically designed. There is an inner directive that, if governed by the Spirit of God, keeps us on a path that is spiritually attuned to who we are and how God is leading. When God is there, we experience the freedom and power to be the persons He created us to be.

A central theme in Christianity is that God works good in all things for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Wholeness comes as we let Him lead us through the storms in life.

I recommend this book for anyone who is struggling to get beyond the suffering and pain of your past. Ask God to come into your life and heal your pain and give you hope.

Consider this verse:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV

Heavenly Father, to the reader today give grace and love. Let them feel the Hope that is theirs if they believe in You. Point them to you Lord, draw them in. This is my prayer today.

*Trademark

Forgotten or Chosen?

Yesterday’s A Closing Door

October 22, 2016

Installment twenty-two, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

Yesterday’s a closing door, you don’t live here anymore

I’m back again with more song lyrics that I hope touch your heart like they have mine. This song speaks of the journeying we’ve done together. It talks about the kind of pain that hits you like a blow to the head and you don’t think you can go on. This pain, this pain drops you to your knees and you don’t know which way to turn.

I’ve felt this pain and you have too.

This is a song by Danny Gokey, listen to the song lyrics and focus on the strength and grace God wants to give to us.

Shattered, like you’ve never been before
The life you knew
In a thousand pieces on the floor
Words fall short in times like these
When this world drives you to your knees
You think you’re never gonna get back
To the you that used to be

(Chorus)
Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of Grace
  Yesterday’s a closing door
  You don’t live there anymore
  Say goodbye to where you’ve been
And tell your heart to beat again

Beginning, just let that word wash over you
It’s alright now
Love’s healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up and take step one
Leave the darkness feel the sun
Cause your story’s far from over
And your journey’s just begun

Let every heartbreak and every scar
Be a picture that reminds you Who has carried you this far
‘Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment Heaven’s working everything for your good

And tell your heart to beat again
Your heart to beat again, beat again
Oh, so tell your heart to beat again

 Do you see and feel the hope? In this moment, God wants you to see the hope you have in him when you believe.

Consider these verses in Psalms and Ephesians:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18 NLT

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called – his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. Ephesians 1:18 NLT

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

The Gift from My Father

October 20, 2016

Installment twenty, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

A Gift From my Father

Stacie and Courtney were able to connect with our father’s best friend, Larry, and he came to our hotel to meet us. At eight-five, he easily recalled details of their high school and college days, singing together in a quartet, Mood Indigo, and the time served in the military.

I asked, “Did you know our mother?”

Larry said, “I knew her, but not well. I can tell you this, when your mother walked up the aisle at their wedding and Ken sang-”

I Love You Truly,” I said.

“Yes, there wasn’t a dry eye in the church,” he said, as his eyes filled with tears. Larry went on to explain through his own persistence, he had kept in contact with our father over the years.

As we parted, Larry hugged me and kissed my cheek. I saw in his eyes the unspoken words, “Here’s something your father should have given you.

***

My Heavenly Father’s love illuminates the steps on the path ahead. Faith turns into trust and I feel his embrace.

He loves me with an unconditional, everlasting love:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3 NLT

God’s word speaks to my heart, he is drawing me to him. As he draws me in, my life is changed.

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

My Father Thinks of Me

October 19, 2016

Installment nineteen, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

My Father Thinks of Me

[May 2016]

We went to breakfast and we look alike! Over hash browns and eggs we discussed our lives, where we work, who we love, and what makes us happy. Our sisters told us stories about growing up with our father.

They told us about the locked box.

He had a locked box he had carried with him during every move. He kept it close, by his side. Other things were tossed aside and forgotten. But the locked box, he would never let it go.

The contents had a special place in his heart

The locked box held the secrets of another life. He kept the contents safe and contained in the locked box and told no one. He couldn’t bear to open the box, everything would spill out and who knows what would have happened. It would have been messy, just too much to deal with. Years went by and the tiny faces smiling back at him became harder to face. He no longer opened the box.

Until one day, just before he died, Stacie asked about the locked box with secrets inside. And she asked, “Who are Tony and Nancy?”

My father replied, “They are my children.”

My father thought of me.

***

My Father thinks of me:

“For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord, “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Meditate on this message of hope:

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” John 3:16, The Message

This message changed the world…the message changed me.

Forgotten or Chosen?

I Know My Father

October 18, 2016
Forgotten or Chosen?

Installment eighteen, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

[October 2015]

It took a week for all of this to settle in my heart and I had to ask myself, “what am I afraid of?” We chatted over Facebook and then I called Courtney and we talked for two hours.

There were two questions I needed an answer to, “how did our father die?” and “what was he like?

He repeated his past when he left our half-brother as a baby and Courtney and Stacie while in their early teens.  She told me about the jobs he held and the places they lived. The stories revealed a brilliant and talented man who continued to live a secret life and died alone.

There, in a locked box, they found the secrets of his past, photographs with our first names and chronological dates written in ink that ended when our grandmother passed away.

They didn’t know our last names but they found us

[May 2016]

My brother and I met our half-brother and half-sisters in Seattle for a long weekend. When I saw the faces of my siblings I knew them. We hugged and it felt like family.

The segments of time lost to no connection were pieced together like a puzzle. A time line of dates, events and places of my father’s life allowed me to find my place in him. [Tweet this!]

I know my father.

He was a news reporter and did interviews for a television station. He interviewed people like you and me and some “not-so-regular” people, senators and governors. I was intrigued to see a glossy black and white of him interviewing Richard Nixon. He worked as an aid for the governor of Wyoming.

My father loved photographing trees, flowers, boats and scenery. Framed photographs of the beautiful nature God has created line the walls of our house. Walking and bicycling and capturing nature’s beauty behind a camera lens has made my life rich.

When I saw the picture of him with the golden, my heart skipped and I closed my eyes. To think that he adored the dog breed I’ve loved my entire life.

My father was a PTA parent. He took his daughters to soccer practice and Girl Scouts. He was a father to his daughters and he did what good dads do.

The truth about my father has changed my perspective. I am able to see him in a different light. An unexpected gift, God used this to fill my heart with love for this man whose blood runs through my veins. He gave me a glimpse into the life of a talented man who loved and nurtured until he no longer could, when he allowed a substance to cover the pain of his own short-comings.

His secrets are finally exposed and the fact our father left no longer holds power over me.

***

I know my Father and my Father knows me.

Consider this verse in Isaiah:

…The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.

Isaiah 49:1 NLT

Consider this verse in Jeremiah:

I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you… Jeremiah 1:5 NLT

Forgotten or Chosen?

October 17, 2016
He Was My Father

 Installment seventeen, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

He Was My Father

I sent a message to Courtney and as I typed “yes, he was my father” I knew he was her father, too.

 Our relative, Eric, a continent and ocean away in Norway, had found my search on Ancestry.com in 2011 and asked Courtney,

What about Nancy?”

I didn’t have an account on Ancestry.com, yet my free, limited search in 2011 left a faint footprint.

Eric was able to see an e-mail address I no longer usedAfter I made that search, my last name changed.

 It had been decades since Tony and I had used our birth name.

Our father’s family searched for us.  The odds of them finding us were slim.

 It was more improbable than probable.

But not for the creator of the universe, the God who took a formless and empty earth and said “let there be light” and there was light (Genesis 1:2,3 NLT). Not for the God who watched me in utter seclusion and formed the inner parts of my body in the dark of my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13, 15 NLT).

 A divine circumstance.

Consider this verse in Isaiah:

“I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!”  Isaiah 65:24

God knows me specifically, he knew just what I needed before I did.

They found us.

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

God Knows our Deepest Desires

October 16, 2016
God knows our deepest desires

Happy Sunday!

[If you have not been following the Forgotten or Chosen? series  or if you’ve missed previous days, click here]

Consider this verse in Psalms:

“He satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. Psalm 103:5 NIV

The *book I am reviewing is “The Seven Desires of Every Heart,” the authors, Mark and Debra Laaser write: “If you didn’t receive the seven desires as a young person, you will yearn for them from everyone around you, especially your spouse.

To fulfill the desires of your own heart, may help with unrealistic expectations you put on others, the consequence of not having your own desires met when you were younger.

How do you cope when someone else doesn’t meet your desires? Before you look to others to meet those desires, bring your desires to God.”

Like I did on Easter Sunday, writing my father’s name on a piece of paper and nailing it to the cross, we must give our unmet needs to God. Surrendering them to God involves recognizing your own attempts at false solutions that don’t work.

“It is a letting go. It is sad….as you grieve you will process the feelings you go through when you really realize that you have lost something…grieving takes time.”

“To process grief you need to talk about the loss to those who can relate and listen…others will hear you, and if they have been through a similar loss, will understand. They will affirm you for talking openly. They will accept you where you are and for who you are, a real blessing.

God wants to fill that emptiness with something real, something lasting. I’ve found reading God’s promises in the Bible have filled that place with such hope and a love that will never leave.

God blesses us: The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11 NIV

God keeps us safe: The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10 NIV

God gives us unconditional love and blessing: The Lord appeared to us in the past saying “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:2 NIV

God smiles on us: Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy. Acts 14:17 NIV

God is eternal and will never leave: Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen. Psalm 41:13 NIV

God is our creator and affirms us: Do you not know? Have you not heard: The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. Isaiah 40:28 NIV

God is a giving God: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

*The Seven Desires of Every Heart, Mark and Debra Laaser, Zondervan, Copyright 2008

 

 

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

You Are Priceless

October 15, 2016

No matter what you’ve heard, this is what your worth, more than all the money or the diamonds and pearls, you are priceless in God’s eyes. 

Consider this verse in Psalms:

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”  Psalm 139:16

God knows me! He knew me before I was conceived, he knew everything thing that would happen to me. Be encouraged. He knows you too, and he longs to have a relationship with you.

Read the lyrics below as you listen to the band “For King and Country”

Mirror mirror, mirror on the wall
Tellin’ those lies, pointing out your flaws
That isn’t who you are
That isn’t who you are

It might be hard to hear, but let me tell you dear
If you could see what I can see, I know you would believe
That isn’t who you are
There’s more to who you are

So when it’s late, you’re wide awake
Too much to take
Don’t you dare forget that in the pain
You can be brave, hear me say

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you (oh so priceless)
Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you (oh so priceless)

No matter what you’ve heard, this is what your worth

More than all the money or the diamonds and pearls
Oh this is who you are
Yea this is who you are

[This is me again] I hope you’ll join me tomorrow for more of the book review, “The Seven Desires of Every Heart” by Mark and Debra Laaser. On Monday, my story, “Forgotten or Chosen?” continues.

Thank you for stopping by today, it means everything to me.

 

 

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

His Family Looked For Us

October 14, 2016

Installment fourteen, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

[Year: October 2015]

God is always working when we don’t know it, he was working to provide the closure He planned for me.

My brother sent a text message to me, “look at your Facebook page.” I went online and saw a direct message from someone named Courtney. She asked, “Did you search for Kenneth Owen Ness on Ancestry.com in 2011?” My heart raced as I drew in a sharp breath and clicked a link to her Facebook page.

Through tear-filled eyes I saw a photo of my mother, brother and grandparents, in a desert landscape, looking back at me. I cried all the tears of a little girl who missed her daddy, the tears of a teenager who wondered if her dad thought of her and the tears of a grown woman who struggled with “how could he leave?”

Consider this verse in Daniel:

“He (the angel Gabriel) explained to me, “Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.” Daniel 9:22, 23a.

A divine encounter like this would have left me speechless. However, God’s promise is clear, when we begin a conversation with God, he is present in our lives. He “shows up” and does what is best for us. God knew my deepest need and unfolded his plan at just the right time for me.

We had looked for years for our father, never realizing his family was looking for us. [Tweet that!]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

A Moment In Time Changed Everything

October 13, 2016

Installment thirteen, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

YEAR: 2011

I went online to Ancestry.com and searched for “Kenneth Owen Ness.”

Knowing my father had passed away, I didn’t know what I hoped to find. It was a spur of the moment action that I didn’t think much about.  What I didn’t realize was this everyday moment in time changed everything.

God, by his design, was preparing a way to provide the missing link on my journey to healing.

Mark Batterson, the author of the book “If” wrote:

“God made him who had no sin be the sin for us, so in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Salvation is the trade-up; that is why it’s called the Good News.

The trade-off is giving full veto power to the Holy Spirit. He’ll take you places you can’t go. He’ll set up divine appointments with people you can’t meet.

And he’ll do things in you and through you that are impossible.”

I’m grateful for the love God has for me that never quits. I am amazed that He hears me before I speak, and that he knows me so specifically that He knows everything I need.

The thing is, He loves you too….He loves you in a way no one else ever will.

Forgotten or Chosen?

October 11, 2016

Installment eleven, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

I saw it on Facebook (maybe you saw it too?) a precocious little girl singing and her dad strumming a ukulele and singing along. When her tiny maestro arms stopped the music, he stopped. When she sang, he sang.  He didn’t say, “That’s not how it’s done, or that’s not how we practiced it.” He didn’t prompt her to sing better or keep singing. This was her gig.

Her dad turned off the football game, put down his phone and ignored the lawn that needed to be mowed. He got down on his knees to play what she wanted to play.

This dad was at home in the living room, not in another state with another woman or family. He wasn’t at the office or a ball game, he was inside the four walls of the home where this little girl lived.

Why? Because he is a dad that takes his job seriously. The video was short, not more than five minutes. But the little girl knew all the words to the song, why? Because they had sung it together before, over and over again. Probably more than a hundred times, during every car trip, while bathing before bed and at breakfast, over pancakes just the two of them.

When she’s ten, this girl will remember the sound of her dad’s singing voice, and when she’s old the strum of a ukulele will make her pause and remember the dad who knelt down at her level to sing with her. [Tweet that!] She’ll hear the soft sound of his voice in her ear, and she’ll remember the time, the minutes, the hours, and days spent with her dad.

Dads (and moms) can’t go backwards, there are no do-overs. You can’t get back the moments you could have spent with your little girl. Someday she’ll grow up and it will be too late. You won’t be on her list of favorite people.

Do you want to be on that list? Start now, do something with your little girl, even if she is 16. Take her hand and look into her eyes. Tell her how important she is and then show her. Go where she wants to go, do what she wants to do.

Give her the memory of a dad who gave up everything to spend time with his girl. That love will keep her going through the hard times, she’ll remember your kindness and attentive gaze.

Most importantly, your love is the love she’ll look for in the eyes of the next man in her life.

YEAR: 2007

On Easter Sunday, I went to the altar and wrote my dad’s name on a piece of paper. I nailed the piece of paper to a wooden cross and asked God to take away the crippling father wounds of rejection I had carried all of my life.

I asked God to replace those wounds with his unconditional and unfailing love for me.

Forgotten or Chosen?

October 10, 2016

Installment ten, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

I circled the Women’s Health Fair in the auditorium three times and I couldn’t exit the building. Something (Someone) drew me to a booth at the back of the room and to an older woman advertising counseling for women.  I met with Gail for three years and she became a mentor, surrogate mother and friend. She shared with me what it meant to have a personal relationship with God, my Heavenly Father.

She gave me tools to use that still bring me hope every day. I read the Bible and wrote scriptures on index cards and I kept them with me wherever I went.  God’s word transformed my heart and mind and I began to heal.

Consider this verse in James:

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:8a.

I went from religion to relationship with God, my Heavenly Father. [Tweet this!]

I discovered God’s word was the answer to my specific need each day. God showed me how to apply the promises in His word to my life. If you are wondering in your own life, “How can I go on?” God gave me the strength and I allowed him, through his Word, to guide me each day.

Consider this verse in the Psalms:

“For this God is our God forever and ever, He will be our guide even to the end,” Psalm 48:14. NIV

My heart was changing, the healing was beginning to unfold just how God planned, with my best interest in mind. My hope is in Him.

Consider this verse in Lamentations:

“Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.” Lamentations 3:21-24 GNT

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

The Seven Desires of Every Heart

October 9, 2016

Hello, and happy Sunday!

In addition to reading the truth of God’s Word, there are several books I’m reviewing that focus on wounded hearts in need of healing. We live in an imperfect world and pain is a given.

“The Seven Desires of Every Heart,” written by Mark Laaser, (PhD in religion and psychology and MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary) and Debra Laaser, B.S. Mark and Debra work full-time at their counseling center in Minnesota. They went through extensive counseling with therapists who were taught by one of the great therapists of the twentieth century, Virginia Satir.

This book explores the common desires God gives each of us – to be heard, affirmed, blessed, safe, touched, chosen and included. The authors explain each desire and show us how we seek it and what it feels like to have it truly fulfilled.

We go through life hurting and wanting more but we often don’t even know what that something more is. We mistakenly look for our relationships to fill us up. In the book, the authors suggest that God is the creator of and the fulfillment of these seven desires.

The purpose of the book is to understand the seven desires and how childhood and adult life experiences teach us about the desires and getting them met. The authors want to help the reader reclaim the truth about themselves and their desires. Lastly, they want to teach the reader how to help other people have their desires met.

I read this book to help me understand specifically more about which desires were not met in childhood to have a richer relationship with others. My husband and I are reading the book together in hopes of connecting on a deeper level.

I bought the book used on Amazon for under $5.00. I actually purchased the older version, copyright 2008. The only difference between this book and the newer version is the cover.

And now for a free gift for you – click here come-near-to-god for a printable in PDF form to print and post where you can see it and be reminded of God’s intentional love for you.

Join me tomorrow for another installment of the Write 31 Days series, “Forgotten or Chosen?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

The God I know

October 8, 2016

Music inspires me, it truly is the backdrop of my life.  My story, Forgotten or Chosen?will continue on Monday. Today I’ll share a song that speaks to my heart.

Today’s song is “The God I Know” by Love and the Outcome. I’ve included some lyrics that speak to me, I know it looks like I’ve copied all the lyrics but they’re just so good! At the risk of sounding like a dancer on American Bandstand, “the song has a good beat,” I don’t want you to miss the message.

If It Was All About Religion

What To Do, What To Say, What To Wear On A Sunday

All About Perfection
Black And White, Wrong Or Right, Never Grey
Well I’d Never Make It
I’d Never Be Good Enough

I Tried To Walk The Line, Pray That I’d Find

Somethin’ That I Knew Was Real
Began To Realize, The Harder I Tried
The Colder I’d Start To Feel
Until The Moment
The Second I Met Your Love

(Chorus)
And Then I Threw My Hands Up
Worries Down
I Remember When He Showed Me How
To Break Up With My Doubt
Once I was lost but now I’m found
No Strings Attached When He Saved My Soul
I Want You To Know The God I Know
Oh, You Gotta Know
Oh, The God I Know

He Is More Than Just A Rescue
That’s Where It Starts, Not Where It Ends
Let Freedom In
More Than Just A Story
In The Sky, Wearing White, He’s Alive
In Every Moment
And Now That I Know This Love

The bottom line is [this is me again!] I hope you know the God I know. That’s it.

I hope you know.

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

October 7, 2016

Installment seven, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

Year: 2001

After two divorces and our mom’s death, determination alone was not enough to keep me going. The problem was too deep. Every day after work I drove passed a church. Day after day, week after week, I wondered about the name, Mountain View Church of the Nazarene. I finally realized, Jesus was a Nazarene. I stopped by for a Christmas Eve service and I never looked back.

I joined a women’s group and we met every Monday night for ten years. We experienced life together. We grieved over our children, buried spouses, prayed for grandchildren, celebrated marriages and laughed until our sides ached. Transparency revealed my hidden heart as I exposed my deepest fears. Most of all, I discovered that sweet, holy place of a real relationship with God.

During a Beth Moore video Bible study, “Believing God,” I learned that the Bible was filled with the heart of God. The promises he has made in His inspired Word were meant not just for the Bible characters we learned about in Sunday school, but they are relevant today and were meant for me and you.  I’ve always believed God exists but I began believing God – God is who he says he is, he can do what he says he can do. Not only that but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. [Philippians 4:13]

Consider this verse from Ephesians:

“I pray also the eyes of your heart will be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you; the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 2:18-19.

I opened the Bible and through every day circumstances, God patiently began showing me his promises were true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

October 6, 2016

Installment six, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

YEAR: 2000

Using my father’s social security number I went online to the Social Security Death Index website. I typed in his name and social security number and in a matter of minutes I learned after a lifetime of searching he had passed away in 1999.

My father passed away just a few months before Mom lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. I was thirty-nine. The emotional pain I experienced wasn’t just due to her death, our relationship blossomed late. We had sweet, tender moments coupled with years of silence and forgotten wounds.

Belongings were sorted, funeral arrangements made. I took a breath, looked around and realized, I had lost my way.

The bible on my nightstand had gotten dusty, like an old trophy put away and forgotten on a shelf.

With both parents gone, I thought, what now?

With my father, there was no relationship to grieve. The gift of a father-daughter bond experienced by a lucky few, did not exist. The unasked questions would remain unanswered. There would be no reunion and no reconciliation.

The mercy of healing the father wounds seemed beyond my reach. [Click to Tweet]

Was this the life God planned for me?

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

October 5, 2016

Installment five, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

YEAR: 1988

In the photographs I was reminded how much my brother resembled our father. Unlike the typical picture of blonde Norwegians, they had matching dark hair and brown eyes. I saw a man who felt comfortable hamming it up for the camera. He and his friend wore sombreros, and our father, crouched low, pretending to dive into a shallow pond.

I wondered, who is he? What would he look like now? Is his hair starting to gray? Does he still sing?

In black and white our mom stood next to him smiling, yet never touching. There were pictures with our grandparents in front of a desert landscape with more friends and more smiling and cutting up for the camera. Lastly, pictures of me as a baby with our grandparents and him.

And then, as if time stood still, the pictures ended.

I kept going back to the box of pictures, like a gnawing, stubborn root that multiplied, growing and getting deeper. Did he pray now that life would be easy and kind to us or that we would never know the pain of divorce and our children would never know the agony of an absent father? Or, did he forget us?

I gave birth to our second daughter, Caitlin, a cherub faced angel with blonde hair and large blue eyes. Again, my heart grew larger with love I couldn’t contain and I thought, “How could anyone leave this?” [Click to Tweet!]

The thought of my father was never far from my mind. Was he still alive? What would I say to him if I ever found him? Who was this unknown man who was such a part of me?

Like a magnet, being pulled by an unexplainable force, I went back to that box of memories, black and white bits of peoples’ lives, our lives, again and again, to see,

“Did I miss something?” 

If I could only forget . . .

 

 

 

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

October 4, 2016

Installment four, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

YEAR: 1985

I gave birth to a daughter and we named her Jessica. Words can’t adequately describe the miracle of carrying a baby inside you and giving birth to a tiny person. We counted fingers and toes and I looked into her eyes and felt a kind of love I didn’t know I was capable of feeling. It consumed me, it engulfed me . . . it changed me.

The emotions I had bottled up inside came rushing to the surface. My heart screamed.  “How could anyone leave this?” I was a part of him, he was a part of me. What allowed him to think this was okay?

Feelings of abandonment and rejection overwhelmed me. I searched frantically for the things my mother had given me that were his, things I had absently placed in a box for another time. I found a few photographs, their wedding album and his Marine Corps discharge papers. The reminder of the love they once had gave some comfort but I wanted more. I needed more.

Now that we were adults, was he looking for us? Will I see him again?

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

October 3, 2016

Installment three, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

YEAR: 1982

Several years went by, my brother married and then I. We moved and changed jobs and it just became easier not to think about our father. What I didn’t count on was the wound in my heart growing larger and more incapacitating with time.

* * *

We seek people to love how we were loved. Transparent relationships escaped me. My reaction to every boy or man in my life came from a place of my father leaving, an empty place, a hole in my heart, just waiting to be filled with a father’s love.

To be cherished was my heart-shaped need, an obscure pursuit, the result of never receiving this gift from my father and never seeing a healthy male/female relationship modeled in our home.

I gave all of me to men whose needs came first.  I wondered why I surrounded myself with those who took advantage of me and applied little effort to love, those expert takers who lacked what it took to be unconditional givers.

I walked apprehensively, on a path of broken glass, fearing the cruel face of rejection around every corner.

Fearing rejection, I hid my heart and never let them see the real me. [Tweet this!]

 

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

Forgotten

October 2, 2016

Installment two, in a 31 day series, Forgotten or Chosen?

[If you’ve missed previous days, click here]

Year: 1973

We saw our grandparents on Christmas and birthdays and sometimes in between. They never mentioned their oldest son. On my birthday, I wondered, did my father remember me today?

Grandma’s presents were from department stores in downtown Seattle. On my ninth birthday I received a small, important looking box in the mail. Wrapped in girly pink and purple polka dot paper, the frilly bright pink bow covered the surface of the package.

How I longed to open the card to see “love daddy” on the inside. [Tweet That]

Secretly, I pretended he picked out the dainty, silver-chained necklace linked to a deep-blue sapphire pendant. This special birthstone necklace made grade-school me feel pretty.

When Grandma died we weren’t allowed to go to the funeral. “He didn’t attend his mother’s funeral,” Mom said. We saw Grandpa one last time before he moved to California. Tony and I walked to the waterfront with him. I don’t remember the words he said, but I can still hear the richness of his Norwegian accent in my mind today.

Then, it was over, erased from our lives like it didn’t happen. Our mother remarried and our last name was changed. That part of our lives felt like a mistake begging to be forgotten.

* * *

When Grandma died and the pictures stopped, in his eyes did we stop living?  Or, did he long to know what teenage me looked like? What I thought? What I feared? What I longed for?

Grandma had given him regular updates regarding us and we had nothing… no connection, no answers to the unasked questions. Well-intentioned adults allowed the pain to fester on our hearts and deceive our minds.

They really believed that ignoring the truth would resolve the void left by a father leaving.

In my mind, finding him would make everything right.

 

Forgotten or Chosen?

Did my father think of me?

October 1, 2016

YEAR: 1972

 In the 70s, it seemed a lot of families had something taboo they didn’t talk about. Something off limits, that “thing” that if others knew about you they wouldn’t approve. Our father left when I was two and I remember just one conversation with our mother about him. She told us he left with her friend and they had gotten married and had more children. As I got older, “Why did he leave us?” became I question I longed to ask.

I was twelve and my older brother Tony, two friends and I rode the bus to the college to swim. Afterwards we visited the campus library. Tony led us to a corner of the library where I saw shelves of telephone books lining the walls.

“What are we doing here?” I asked.

“Start with the big cities in Colorado. Look for Kenneth Owen Ness.” It was then I realized the same ache in my heart for my father had left a hole in my brother’s heart as well.

We flipped through telephone books looking for Ness. I was surprised to see there were four pages of Nesses listed in Denver and not one Kenneth had the middle name of Owen or even an O for a middle initial. Thus began the tedious task of looking for a man who didn’t want to be found in the 1970s.

 
* * *

I grew up wishing I knew my father’s perspective during my parents’ divorce. Did the choices he made in 1962, bring him to tears? Did he long to make it right but didn’t have the resources to do so? Did he regret the legal arrangement he agreed to regarding my brother and me? Did he feel pressured into it, or mislead thinking it would be best for us? Or, did he choose this, the easier way out?

Did he think of me?

Did the sight of a blonde-haired girl send his thoughts back to his blonde haired little girl? When he held his next child in his arms did he wonder, “How big is Nancy now?”

When he drove to Washington was he tempted to take a detour and drive by our house? I imagine he rehearsed in his mind what he would say to Mom, “I miss them and I have to see them.”

Did our father secretly hope we would find him so he could look into our eyes and tell us what we longed to hear?

Did he, think of me?

God's Love

What to do If you didn’t have Love

August 13, 2016

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure.”  Ephesians 1:5 NLT

I grew up not knowing a father’s love. The feeling of being forgotten and unlovable penetrated my heart and I allowed those feelings to define me.  Unfailing love and acceptance from our Heavenly Father seemed far away. I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was using life’s difficulties to draw me to Him and I made a decision to believe.

 Accepting the Royalty Jesus Bestows on Us

And now, I ask myself, am I willing to take my place near Jesus and accept the royalty He bestowed me as the daughter of a King?

 We celebrated my daughter’s birthday at a restaurant. Afterwards, I walked to the lobby with my granddaughter. Near the door we sat in tall, floral upholstered chairs as we waited for the rest of our group.

“Maddy, let’s be queens!” I said. “Everyone will have to do what we say!”

She giggled. The smile on her face said she was “all in.” Once outside, Maddy repeated what I had said to her mom as she and her family walked to their car.  It was dark outside so I couldn’t see her smile but I felt her delight in my heart. In her eyes, I am always the hero, or in this case, the queen. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for this girl or her twin brother. My most fervent prayers are for their walk with the Lord, long after I am gone.

 Do You Feel Like a Queen, Wrapped in God’s Love?

He longs to spend the “in between” time with us, not just when we need His help. God loves it when we show up and thank Him for all He has done. He whispers to my heart, “linger with me, you are priceless in my eyes!” I have traded in the picture of a punitive God for the satisfying knowledge of the height and depth of God’s love for me. The idea of this no longer just rests in my mind, but the unfathomable depth of God’s love for me is sinking deep into my soul. I not only believe in God, but He whispers sweet acceptance to my heart and I believe Him .

“Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” Galatians 1:4 NLT

His sacrificial love washes over me as I meditate on His promises and claim His love for me. God is working in my life in specific ways, I know it can only be from Him.

Can you see through God’s eyes, His relentless love for you? Are you willing to trust His love and live like a daughter of the King?

Finding Joy

Encouragement and Hope in the Scenic Route

July 16, 2016

“We get so focused on then and there, we don’t enjoy here and now. When was the last time you exited the freeway? Took the scenic route?” Mark Batterson, in his book If.

I’m reading the soon-to-be released book, The Happiness Dare, by Jennifer Dukes Lee. My happiness style is Experiencer, I have “the enthusiasm of a child and a deep sense of wonder.Go here if you want to take the test yourself! However, my natural bent to stop and smell the roses often struggles with the planner beast in me, when I let a to-do list determine the course of my day.

Last week, after hiking with my husband and friends at Larch Mountain Crater, someone suggested a detour to the Vista House. I had seen it before, in fact it turns out we all had. However, I intentionally chose to trade my mental to-do list for the possibility of what if? And the payoff – an hour of unfiltered sunshine and casual conversation on the edge of a cliff overlooking the stunning Columbia River and one majestic mountain in the distance.

What did the steady stream of people from faraway places see on that crowded viewpoint? Do you take for granted the beauty you see every day?

Is my day so focused and so driven that I experience life with blinders on? Or do I pause long enough to see what God wants me to see? God has divine opportunities planned for me, I don’t want to miss this!

He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” Isaiah 50:4. Like the hopeful words of Isaiah, I’m trading my plan for his, and can’t wait to see where he takes me next.

“Happiness isn’t about what we hold in our hands, it’s about what we hold in our hearts,” Jennifer Dukes Lee, The Happiness Dare.

Finding Joy

How To Develop a Deep Knowing Between People

June 18, 2016

Grandma Ness reminded me of the ladies in the shoe department at the Bon Marche. Thick European accents, they wore solid colored skirts below the knee and sensible shoes, exuded a quiet strength and were probably always on time. Yet, there was something else about grandma and I noticed the twinkle in her eye.  Our relationship lacked the gift of time, time required to develop a deep knowing but I recognized glimpses of her past and knew she had dreams she called her own.

Grandma shopped at the best stores in downtown Seattle and I could always count on a package in the mail for my birthday. She didn’t just send a new dress or skirt but she included the socks or tights and a fancy coat that matched.

The scarlet lined, rabbit fur hooded jacket made four-year-old me feel like a princess. She gave this girl who dreamed about horses not a children’s book, but a real book all about horses to acknowledge my dreams. She noticed me and what made my heart skip a beat, she discovered my passion and made it important.

When I was a little older, but not much, I received a small, important looking box, that when opened revealed a dainty, silver-chained necklace linked to a deep-blue sapphire pendant. This special birthstone necklace made grade-school me feel pretty.

Other than my grandmother’s generosity and good taste, she remained a mystery to me, because days and months of time are needed to develop a deep knowing between people who belong to each other. Yet, I always knew the great sense of love she had for me, her first granddaughter.

Imagine my surprise when I found a post card she wrote to her mother in 1960, “I toured Squaw Valley where the Olympic Games were held. The building was very interesting. I keep wondering if I turned off the electric iron. Love, Anna”

The requisite sense of responsibility that shrouded women who grew up in her generation didn’t surprise me. What made my heart laugh was the humor in it, my grandma possibly expecting her mother to rush next door to check on the electric iron when she had already been gone for days by the time they received the post card. And the honesty of letting someone see her neurotic side, one who worried about being forgetful and irresponsible while traveling to new and exciting places. Grandma called the iron “electric” because she once used an iron that was very much the opposite of electric.

Then I found this black and white of grandma in a dark skirt, nylons and heeled shoes and wooly sweater, snapped next to a tall snow man. Did a once lost memory draw her to the snow again to reflect on snowy, childhood days? Did she pause for a moment to feel who she once was, and who she still was, on the inside? Is this what we do when we see more life lived than life left to live and memories have made our minds so full that remembering what we did today no longer matters?

God our Creator

What Will You Do With 100 Days?

June 11, 2016

I heard on the radio the other day, there are 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. What will you do with 100 days?

In the Pacific Northwest, the chance of sunny skies greatly increases during this time.  I’m more likely to spend time outside and when I’m outside I’m reminded of the beauty God created. And, sunny days brighten my mood.

It’s been above average temperatures here and this is a smattering of things I’ve done this week: Our women’s Bible study ended for the summer. I’ll miss seeing the women of table 13 who have gathered together every Tuesday morning since September 15th. We’ve prayed together, cried together, we did life together and grew close.

My grandchildren and I went to three parks and one giant Splash Pad. At one park we saw a nurse log that provided ecological facilitation to six seedlings. The six trees, all in a line, towered way above our heads, touching the sky. I had never seen anything like it before.

We watched other five-year-olds play homemade drums and we wrote a poem together for father’s day. At the Splash Pad they ran around getting wet and learned how to hang onto something that you really like so you don’t lose it. I wrote a real letter to a friend with an envelope and postage stamp and everything.

My husband and I placed 200 flyers around our neighborhood for the upcoming neighborhood garage sale. We did this at 6:30 in the morning to “beat the heat” and the quietness of our neighborhood surprised me.

We went kayaking on Lacamas Lake and watched an eagle make several low flights across the water. It looked like he had hopes of snatching up a duckling for lunch. The mama duck thought so too, judging from the harsh discordance of noise she made when the eagle flew close.

Not a bad start for the first seven out of one hundred days. What will you do? Do you have any great plans or any plans at all? Places to go? People to meet?

Leave a comment in the comment section or tweet this post. Let me know how you will spend 100 days, I can’t wait to hear from you!

On Motherhood

The Power of Words that Touch Another’s Soul

May 28, 2016

There is a basic human need to feel understood. We run towards others who get us. We long to be known. There is power in the words we speak, they touch another’s soul. How often do I stop to listen?

Over coffee at Panera, a friend speaks about her daughter’s pain.  Our eyes meet, feelings mesh together and emotions overlap.  She talks about their struggle and her words fall softly and land at a familiar place. When she talks about their struggle I remember a similar one. I look back to past days with a loved daughter and remember the same pain. 

 I acknowledge her struggle, not just with words but with my heart. 

To be understood by another is gratifying, satisfying… This is the stuff of good friendships, relationships. Looking at each other and seeing into each other’s heart.

My feelings are familiar, so well known. I read your words today and I am in the hospital room with you. They take me back there again and I remember the pain, the grief and the hopelessness.

Your words transport me to a white sand beach and I hear the gentle crash of the waves and the distant gull’s cry. I feel the warmth of the sun on my golden skin.

I was there again and experienced the fullness of first love. Your written words took me back to that place of acceptance and feeling wanted above anyone else.

Relationships grow strong from looking into another’s heart. [Tweet that!] Listen more and talk less, I’ll wait before I speak and ask to understand. I long to know you more. I sometimes fear it will be too late…Don’t let time steal this soul connection from us.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” Ralph G. Nichols

Following His Direction

Did your father see the beauty in you?

May 14, 2016

My Father sees the beauty in me….

When you read this today, my brother and I will meet our siblings for the first time. The adult children of the two families our father created after leaving our little family of three. From three states, they will interrupt their lives to fly to Seattle, to close the circle and fill in the father-gap. The son he left as an infant and the daughters our father stayed with…until the teen years. Sweet, conclusive closure, for them and for us. God longs for relationships to be restored.

Tony and I didn’t know we had siblings, much less how to find them. In 2011, I did a one-time search on Ancestry.com, using our father’s name. A relative in Norway was using Ancestry to document our family tree. Eric sent an e-mail to the Ness sisters and asked, “What about Nancy?” I didn’t get the e-mails he sent at that time. God’s timing is perfect, his beneficent plan is purposeful and specific for me.

In October 2015, my brother sent a text message to me, “Look at your Facebook page.” I saw a direct message from Courtney who asked, “Did you search Ancestry.com in 2011 for Kenneth Owen Ness?” I followed a link to Courtney’s Facebook page and saw through tear-filled eyes, my mother, brother and grandparents looking back at me. I knew from the photo she posted on her Facebook page we were about to find answers to the questions left unspoken so long ago.

Have you felt the sting of a father who never saw the beauty in you?  Were you that four-year-old who needed him to look into your blue eyes and say, “I love you, it’s going to be okay”?

It’s not too late for me and it’s not too late for you.

God is ordering the steps of my life in a specific, God-filled way. [Tweet that!]

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3 NIV

I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

God’s plan, like the unfolding of a cabbage rose, reveals the center of his safe healing. [Tweet that!

God's Love

Were you – are you – quiet girl?

April 30, 2016

Quiet girl.

Six-years-old, looking out of innocent blue eyes and standing quietly in the corner, unsure of what would happen next, believing “quiet was safer.”

 Living up to the shy label others gave me – longing to be liked by others but always falling short.

 I hid who I really was. 

Never the first to speak, always afraid if my answer wasn’t like yours it must be wrong.

 Over the years I robbed friends and family of the gift of meI side-stepped how I felt and stuffed my needs so far down I couldn’t identify what they even were. Striving to meet the needs of others, seeking their approval – this became an idol in my life.

 God had a plan for my life and because of fear, he had to use someone else.

 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

 I’m on a courage journey today, God is growing a brave heart in me. He’s giving me the strength to overcome the lies that were stitched in my heart long ago.

I’m letting God deal with those things I have no control of and putting all my trust in him. I’m asking God to reveal to me the truth of who I am and help me change what I believe about myself.

 Looking a certain way or saying certain things to gain acceptance is no longer a lie I’m willing to live. Jesus bore my emotional pain on a sinner’s cross and because of this cross-shaped sacrifice my heart is no longer fettered to this lie.

 And you? What about you? God will meet you right where you are – let him know what you need today.

 God, help our hearts and heads feel your unconditional love and acceptance for us today.

God our Creator

Growing in relationship with God

April 16, 2016

We had a few days of really warm weather in the PNW and it prompted me to start preparing our garden for planting. The 80+ degree weather we had last week was unusual for April.

I used to dream about living on a farm. The traditional farm dream changed into something that seemed more glamorous as I got older… a lavender farm, a nut farm or an avocado farm. Okay, avocados wouldn’t fare well in Western Washington. When I first visited my in-laws in California and saw the orange tree growing in their back yard – I was so jealous!

It’s that feeling I get standing in top soil, with the sun on my neck, warming my legs. And months later going back to that spot to gather dinner. Dinner tastes so much better when you’ve grown it yourself.

I’ve learned to prune tomato plants to stimulate growth. At times I’ve cut too much and the firm, green tomato lies alone on the dark earth. If the vine isn’t connected the tomatoes won’t continue to grow and bear fruit.

Gardening is like relationships, we have to be connected to grow.

How would my marriage thrive if I never hugged my husband or asked him about his day?

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.  John 15:4 NLT

Remain means abide, which means to dwell or reside.

How do you remain or abide with God?  I heard someone say recently scripture is the mind of Christ. I see a day to day relationship –  being honest with God by bringing everything to him and asking for His help. Reading and meditating on his Word, so the truth settles in your heart and you trust that it’s true.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7 NIV

How are you cultivating a relationship with God and how is he growing you?

God's Love

If You Want to Feel Taken Care Of

April 2, 2016
Forgotten or Chosen?

Do you want to feel taken care of?

My granddaughter is five years old. Recently, a television commercial caught her interest.  You’ve probably seen it, a little girl digs a hole and plants jelly beans thinking they will grow. On Easter morning, she rushes outside to see what once was a pile of dirt is now Easter candy and decorations “sprouting up” from the ground. My granddaughter said to me, “You’ll never believe what she grew Nana, more jelly beans!” 

I smiled, and thought briefly about setting the record straight and explaining to her it is impossible to grow jelly beans. But, I didn’t. I wanted my granddaughter to think, for a little while longer, if you plant jelly beans, they will grow.

It reminded me of how deliberate God is with us. He has a purpose and plan and knows the beginning of our lives from the end. The Bible goes into detail about his intentional love for us.

In just the last eight chapters of the book of John, Jesus expressed concern for his disciples fourteen times. Read the tender words Jesus spoke:

“Don’t let your heart be troubled.”

“I will not leave you orphans.”

“I will come to you and you will see me.”

“Peace I leave you, my peace I give you.”

“Do not be afraid.”

“Father, protect them by the power of your name.”

“I say these things now so they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” John 17:13 (NIV)

Jesus explained in John 17:20, his prayer is not for them alone but for all believers. Can you hear God whisper these things to your heart, do you believe it?  I feel taken care of in the love I receive from God. My God sees me, he knows my name.

“Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.” St. Augustine

God's Love

How to Fill the Void in Your Heart

March 26, 2016

I’ve carried around a hole in my heart since 1961, the day our father left. I was just a baby and my brother and I never saw him again. I don’t remember him, yet, every day that passed without him created a void in my heart I could not fill.

As a teenager I joked, “He left one night for a carton of milk and never came back.” It was easier to make light of it than to face the pain staring me in the face.

My reaction to every boy or man in my life came from a place of him leaving. My heart longed for a man to cherish me. Instead, I gave all of me to men whose needs came first. I hid my heart and never let them see the real me.

A lifetime of searching for my father and I learned too late he had passed away. I really don’t know what I had hoped would have happened if I had found him but God did. God’s plan unfolded just how it needed to be.

“Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.” Lamentations 3:21-24 GNT

The search for my father led me to my Heavenly Father and God’s unconditional love for me. God knows where we can find the safety of unconditional love, the kind of love I could never have found in a man who was lacking and could never give what he didn’t have himself.

Are you feeling that void today? Has someone left you with a hole in your heart? Did something you longed for not happen and it crushed you? Did something you thought was the real thing get ripped from you and you’re still bleeding inside?

Heavenly Father, we need you today. We need you to touch our hearts and fill us up with your comfort and love. Let us feel your love, not just in our heads but in our hearts.

If you’ve come to a place where you can’t go on, ask God to comfort and heal your heart. Ask him to show you he is with you right now, ask him to help you feel his love.

 

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.  Saint Augustine

 

Following His Direction

How to Find Help with Life’s Tough Choices

March 5, 2016

My husband and I went back to the cabin at the southern tip of Puget Sound to live for six months. The harvest gold and burnt orange décor looked like it did in my memory, with mom and Aunt Nancy cooking lunch in the tiny kitchen with the creaking floors.

On a cold, fall evening I lay stretched out on the sectional facing the big windows and marveled at the starry night sky. The pale roundness of the moon hung from the darkness, casting light on the water.

Later we watched with curiosity as lone lights bounced slowly along the water and across the cove to the other side. We stepped out onto the deck and our golden retriever stuck his furry head through the railing in an attempt to help us unravel the mystery.

And then we remembered earlier sunlit days watching teens skim across the water on stand up paddle boards, dipping a single oar, stirring the water, propelling them from the shore and back again. Tonight they navigated past floating docks relying on head lamps to guide their way.

Is there a way for us to navigate the darkness towards the safety and security of the shore?

Do you wake up feeling anxious with current events swirling in your mind? Are you facing decisions not knowing which way to go?

Life is full of tough choices. I’ve been there and I’m still there, we live in an always changing, fast-paced world.

I want to put past fears behind me and live.

I’m finding help when I ask God for direction. I ask him to close a door that isn’t right for me if I’m unsure.

What if I make the wrong choice? What then? I let God know when I’m confused and worried.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”   John 8:12 NLT

“It is God to whom and with whom we travel, and while he is the end of our journey, he is also at every stopping place.” Elisabeth Elliot

I put my trust in him and his love illuminates the first steps on the path ahead. Faith turns into trust and I feel his embrace.

Finding Joy

The sea, the sea….draws me

February 20, 2016

The sea draws me.

The glory of God is reflected in the great expanse of the sea, the cyclical crashing waves echo his name.

I learned to sail on a co-worker’s 35-foot Catalina sailboat. Rain or shine, we sailed on race days and became known as the estrogen crew. Yes, I knew it would be rainy and cold, it didn’t matter. I bought all the right gear and dressed for it.

Growing up on Puget Sound, our summers were spent at the beach. In between Budd and Henderson Inlets, we scoured the sand for shells and sea glass, tangled up in seaweed fights and lazy afternoons on air mattresses mesmerized by the swoon of the salty sea.

Cousins captained a small row boat and fast boats with skiers jetted by, waiting in anticipation for residual waves. The waters were our text book, revealing every color of jelly fish and bright orange sea pens, closely resembling the male anatomy.

Rainy afternoons gathered us around the wood stove with Richy Rich and Archie and Jughead in hand. Our moms savoring cups of coffee near the picture window, fitting a 1,000 puzzle pieces back together and contemplating the puzzles of life.

I’ve never been far from the sea and I’m grateful I’ve always been surrounded by God’s love.

God draws us in like the sea.

The great expanse of God’s love for all of us amazes me. Yet, he knows each crashing wave in our individual lives.

It is the Lord who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. Jeremiah 31:35a NLT

For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord. Habakuk 2:14 NLT

God's Love

God’s Perfect Love, I Need It Now

February 6, 2016

God’s Perfect Love…

Her words were final, “I let go of this a long time ago. I don’t need him.”

I fought back tears so my words would make sense. “I know what you are going through because I went through it myself. Silently I prayed, “God, give me the right words to say, the words she needs to hear.”

I wanted to have this conversation in person, not over the phone. I wanted her to see my face and feel my love. “I’m not asking you to go for him, I’m asking you to go for you.”

“I’m done with him! I told him how I felt two years ago and he didn’t respond. I don’t need anything from him.”

I pushed on, fighting the desire to retreat to an easier place, not wanting the conversation to end until I had shared my heart. “This might be an opportunity to receive love from him, the setting is right, won’t you consider going?”

“I’ve moved on, I don’t need him. It’s fine. I don’t need him,” she repeated.

Knowing firsthand the ache of father wounds that lingered well into adulthood, I pressed on. “I don’t want you to do what I’ve done. Don’t let this keep you from being the person you were meant to be,” I said through tears.

“I’m going to be late for work. I love you, bye.”

In the end, she and her sister did go and it went like we expected. However, the unexpected gift was, she took the first step down a long path of healing. She set aside her feelings of fear and rejection and chose not to allow past choices made by others control who she is today.

I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me.” John 10:14 The Message

Dear God, I give the hurt I’ve experienced because of choices made by others to you today. I ask that you comfort me and heal me. Help my heart believe like my mind does, that you love me no matter what. You chose me and you know me by name.

God's Love

Unconditional Love and How We Need It So

January 30, 2016

“You are a bad…” I slowly turned to face my grandson. “….Nana.”  I looked into his bright blue eyes as his heart caught up to his words- “good, good…,” he said, as he started up the stairs. “Good. You are a good, good, Nana.”

My grandson expressed his frustration with me because of boundaries that “ruffled his feathers,” “No ice cream before dinner. No more shows, only one a day.”

Unconditional love, I love him no matter what he says or does. My love for my grandson won’t change.

We spend a lot of time together. My visits have become routine and he feels safe to express his real feelings. He knows and trusts my love.

I don’t want to ever miss an opportunity to show him love even when setting boundaries.

Chris Tomlin’s song, You’re a good, good Father, reminds me of God’s love for us. “You tell me that you’re pleased and I’m never alone…You know just what we need before we say a word.”

God loves us with a sacrificial, unconditional love. When we make wrong choices his God’s love doesn’t change.

When life happens and we question God’s presence, during these dark times he holds us even closer. It’s during difficult times in my life I’ve grown the most, I tuned in and looked up – for guidance and help, for peace.

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children. Psalm 103:17 NIV

In a world where there are no guarantees, God is our guarantee. From everlasting to everlasting, His love is without end.

God's Love

From Phoenix, Arizona all the way to Tacoma

January 23, 2016

Follow love…

If you recognize a lyric in the title you probably grew up in the 70s.

I don’t think God had this kind of love in mind when he inspired the words that Paul wrote to the people of Colossae, he was writing about a self-less love:

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14 NIV

It’s hardest to love those who I determine, almost subconsciously, to be unlovable. The co-worker who gossips. The friend who doesn’t return phone calls. My husband who I think only sees my faults and none of my amazing virtues.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV

1 Corinthians chapter 13 is called the love chapter for a reason. It gives a very succinct description of what love is.

It takes little effort to love the people in my life who are easy to love. It’s easier to avoid those who have done nothing, in my opinion, to deserve love. This attitude makes it difficult to live the Christian life when God’s second greatest commandment is to love one another.

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31 NIV

If we are to live our lives by Jesus’ example, he loved the leper, the blind man, the beggar, the thief. He sat next to and spoke with love to the woman at the well who was not only a different nationality, but was living a life of sin.

Follow love.

Dear Heavenly Father, show me the hurts that are still buried deep. Empty me from the hurts I’ve hidden all these years, to make room for your love. Heal me and make me whole.

Only then can I pour out God’s love to others.

 

On Motherhood

Practicing Motherhood, While Growing Up

January 16, 2016

I practiced motherhood while my daughters grew up. I should have been more prepared. June Cleaver did not wake them up in the morning or tuck them in to bed at night. I juggled single parenting and working full-time and my daughters saw the real me, in all my mess.

However, what I missed when I was growing up, I shared with them. Regular trips to the beach to sit in the sand and pause for the sunset, leaving the windows open at night listening to the sound of crashing waves. We took time to notice the moon and many starry, starry nights.

For my 34th birthday, we went to Disneyland. It was my first visit, too.

In the Northwest, falling snow is reason to celebrate. We made snow angels and pelted each other with snow balls. There were days we stayed in our pajamas and watched Anne of Green Gables and Gilmore Girls. Krispy Kreme came to Washington and we drove 40 minutes and waited in line to experience the original glazed doughnut.

At some point, I realized motherhood had changed me. I evaluated what I had learned and experienced as a child and young adult and what I truly believed. I wondered, is this it? Is there anything more?

And then I did some tightrope walking, trusting God, more tightrope walking, and trusting God…and I got it, this is it. This life, with God in the middle, with my attention and focus on him. This is what I had missed. Unfortunately, I missed it with the most important people in my life. My daughters were almost grown when I discovered who God was and how he longed for a relationship with me.

So now, I share all of it, like their lives depend on it. Because really, their lives depend on it.

In his book, The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson writes “The prayers of my grandparents are being answered in my life right now. Prayer is the inheritance we receive and the legacy we leave.”

I’m praying those prayers now, every day, for my children and grandchildren.

Just being intentional about leaving a legacy of God’s Love.

God's Love

Chocolate-Covered Cherries and Memories

January 2, 2016

One of my most vivid childhood memories is receiving a small box of chocolate covered cherries in my Christmas stocking each year. A carefully wrapped box, even without a “to and from” tag, I knew they were from her. I always felt loved by my mother. Every birthday mom baked a cherry pie; moms know all your favorite things.

That first Christmas after mom passed away, I was surprised to find a box of chocolate covered cherries under my tree. I looked at my daughters and our eyes met. That tender mother love had been passed from my mother, to me and now I saw it blooming in my daughters’ lives. These sweet, grown-up girls continue my mother’s tradition to this day.

More sweet memories – little me clinging to the outspread arms of my aunt’s old cherry tree picking buckets of cherries. And sitting on an old stool next to Nana removing the pits with a hair pin.

Memories can be subtle, yet powerful, taking us back to the past in a nanosecond. Back to the people who made our lives rich and full, it happens quickly and I feel a tug at my heart strings.

2015 is now a memory, a new year has graced the doorway of our lives.  May you experience a renewed sense of hope and a daily reminder of the love and life God’s given us.

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Anticipate Jesus’ Second Coming

December 22, 2015

Anticipate Jesus’ second coming

“He Shall Reign Forevermore” sung by Chris Tomlin, listen to the words anticipating Jesus’ Second Coming.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:3 NIV

He shall reign forevermore

I hear so much hope in this, forevermore…do you hear it too?

The Bible tells us Jesus will come back again. He is coming back in all his glory, the sin of the world will be taken away and a new life established for those who believe in him.

Sin entered the world through the choice made by Adam and Eve and life has been difficult ever since. Advent is a time for us to remember how much we need Jesus. But it is also a time of such celebration.

The advent season celebrates the joy Jesus brought to this world during his ministry here on earth. It’s also a reminder of the joy we experience when we believe in and follow him.

We don’t have to live in despair. Jesus came as a light in darkness to forgive and to give us the only gift that should matter, eternal life with him.

The gift of salvation is free, you and I have done nothing to deserve it. All you have to do is confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and ask him to come into your life.

Will you unwrap the gift?

 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.      1 John 1:9 NIV

Dear God, you’ve changed me from the inside out. I’ve been made new in you and my life will never be the same. You give me hope and a promise for something better. I’m so grateful for you and your son, Christ the Messiah.

 

 

 

 

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The Final Waiting

December 19, 2015

The final waiting…
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. James 5:7 NIV

The time we live in could also be called “the silence of God.” There has been no inspired Word from God for almost 2,000 years. He speaks to us but not like he spoke to the ancient people. Despair is all around us, yet God still has a purpose in our lives and he still has a purpose for the world.

God is setting into motion all the words spoken about the coming of his Son, the Messiah, to establish his kingdom. Are we ready and waiting expectantly? Or, are we caught up in the busyness of life and drifting without purpose?

Scripture says, no one knows the time or date the Father has set by his own authority. No one knows when Jesus will return again. Are we ready now?

If Jesus knocked on my door, would I know him? More importantly, would he know me? [Tweet that!]

There is a reason why the Holy Bible is considered by many to be the best selling book of all time. It’s never lost its value. The words of truth continue to comfort, guide and heal. The Bible very clearly tells us the way to salvation and eternal life is through Jesus Christ. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father but through me. John 14:6 NIV

If you’ve lost your purpose in life and are searching for something that gives you hope, open the Bible, let God’s truth speak to your heart. Get to know him by reading his word, he will meet you right where you are.

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Act 1:11 NIV

Dear God, your scripture says your Son is coming back and he will arrive in Heavenly Glory for those who know him. Every knee will bow and confess that he is Jesus Christ our Savior. I am waiting expectantly, prepare my heart, God. Amen.

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Celebrate the Revelation of God in Christ

December 12, 2015
The revelation of God in Christ…

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” Matthew 3:1-3 NIV

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:13 – 17 NIV

John’s ministry prepared the way for Jesus. The coming of the Holy Spirit revealed that Jesus truly was and is God’s son.  Jesus began his ministry performing miracles so all would know he was the Son of God and his glory would be revealed. The revelation of God in Christ began to unfold.

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.

…“Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2:6-11 NIV

It doesn’t matter what the need is, Jesus restores organic matter, physical loss, weather conditions, minds and hearts. Jesus makes all things better.

More than anything else, it was Jesus’ suffering and death and on the third day, his resurrection, that revealed his Godship, his glory and his unmatched love for the world.

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 NIV

The disciples witnessed first hand the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They recorded these events so all would know and accept Jesus as their Savior. I can’t help but think, if I had been there, would I have stood firm in my faith and believed?

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Acts 1:9-10

Lord Heavenly Father, you sent your Son into this world to live like us. He was born into poverty, had nothing and lived simply. He was separate from the beginning, never really fitting in. As he boldly spoke your true words they ridiculed him and questioned him. They were relentless. He never had a chance but that was part of your plan.

Your Son was holy, without sin, yet he chose to pay our sin debt so we could live forever. This is the gift he so willingly gives, the gift of eternal life, the revelation of God in Christ.

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Oh, Holy Night

December 10, 2015

“Oh, Holy Night,” the old familiar Christmas carol is performed by Jillian Edwards, Ellie Holcomb and Rebecca Roubion. Listen to the pure harmony and sacred words recounting the holy night when God’s divine plan was unfolding. You see, God’s appointed hour had come.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to Sonship. Galatians 4:4, 5

 

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:16-20 NIV

The three young ladies sing with pure harmony and sweet delivery. “Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices, oh night, devine, oh, night, when Christ was born!”

Christ’s death and resurrection was foretold in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, centuries before Christ was born:

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5, 6

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:10, 11

There is a day coming when again the heavens will be filled with rejoicing, for victory over darkness and our Messiah will come back for all who believe.

 

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Angels we have heard on high

December 8, 2015

Angels we have heard on high

Listen to the heartfelt words and melody of the old Christmas carol, performed beautifully by the Piano Guys, Peter Hollen and David Archuleta. Watch the video while the Nativity scene comes to life!

Gloria in Excelsis Deo, “Glory to God in the Highest!”

The number of participants in this living Nativity give us a glimpse of the magnitude of that humble, historical and holy night. What a night it must have been!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find him wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2:8-12 NIV

Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heavens, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14 NIV

“Host” means an innumerable throng or limitless company. What must it have been like to be in the middle of a host of heavenly voices singing praise to God? Scary, yet glorious at the same time? When I see God face to face I will surely fall to my knees, overcome by gratitude and love and worship him.

Oh, how he wants that from us even now in the middle of our mundane lives. When I look around me, I want to see all that he is doing, all that he has blessed me with. I want to be overcome by his love and gratitude so much that I never fail to acknowledge him.

This time of waiting is a time to do that. I challenge you to find a quiet place, even for a moment and thank him. It doesn’t have to be out loud. The rain is falling hard on the roof this morning and it’s a reminder of his presence in my life. God is here, all around us. He wants to be part of our lives.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.   Mark 10:45 NIV

The birth of Jesus was the greatest gift to humanity, he came as Messiah for us! Let’s remember and celebrate the the greatest gift to us all!

 

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The Light of the World Came to Save Us

December 5, 2015

Jesus, the Light of the World came to save us. Listen to the lyrics while Lauren Daigle sings “The Light of the World.”

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
 
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  Luke 2:8-11 NIV

This preparation for something better meant something bigger and greater than the world had ever seen. God had sent his son to the world to live among us. He then made a sacrificial choice to die on a sinner’s cross for our sins. God’s glory was revealed when three days later, our Messiah was raised from the dead.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

God sent the light to shine in the darkness of the world and to save those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. If we believe, we will receive the greatest gift of all, eternal life.

 

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The Light of God Enters the World

December 1, 2015
Waiting and journeying…The Light of God enters the world.
I’ve experienced the miracle of giving birth. Waiting at times felt overwhelming. I counted and folded diapers and tiny clothes over and over again.
And Mary? She was waiting on our Savior.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
 
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
 
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”  Luke 1:26-33
Can you see the example of God’s favor in the lives of his people? Mary carried a baby boy who was conceived by a miracle act of God and he was the Son of God. What feelings flooded Mary’s mind during nine months of waiting? What insecurities plagued her at night when she was unable to sleep?
In his book, “God Came Near” Max Lucado imagines the night of our Savior’s birth like this: “Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of the stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter. She touches the face of the infant-God, How long was your journey?”

Isn’t that like God? In his divine plan he uses plain people, with no special talent or credentials. People like you and me, broken women and men, God allows his plan to unfold through those who are willing! [Tweet that!]

Did Mary doubt what God was doing? Did she question her ability to mother and care for the Son of God? Did she question why she was chosen instead of someone older, more mature in the Jewish faith?
At times of waiting, I’ve questioned God’s timing or what seemed like a lack of response. How about you? Do you struggle with this? Can we agree together to trust God to come through?
Lord God, thank you for the miracle of conception. Thank you for your Son’s birth. How long had you planned this – every star, every shepherd and every sheep. And Mary, you knew her before she was conceived in her mother’s womb. You chose a humble young woman without wealth, without prestige, and without maturity. You chose Mary to trust the plan you had for her son. You chose her.
I know you will do all you say you can do. I’m so grateful I can trust you with your plan for my life. Thank you for choosing me!
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Luke 2:6, 7 NIV
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The Waiting: four hundred silent years

November 28, 2015

The waiting….

In 435 B.C., Malachi, the last of the inspired prophets in the Old Testament, spoke and the world waited. It would be four hundred years before God spoke again through the New Testament writers.

Why was God silent during this time? Was he drawing his people to his inspired word, the teaching of the Old Testament?

My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life... Proverbs 6:20-23 NIV

The Jewish people longed for a Messiah and remembered the promises in the Old Testament, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. Deuteronomy 18:18-19 NIV

God was laying the groundwork behind the scenes. He was making plans and preparing for something better. Paul wrote in Galatians “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law.” Galatians 4:4 NIV.

The first four books of the New Testament, the gospels, tell remarkable stories of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. Our Savior’s birth was God’s appointed hour, a divine plan, drafted by the divine maker.

Lord God, I am grateful for your infinite wisdom and plan for us from the beginning. Help us be still and not distracted so we can hear you speak into our lives. You want our lives here on earth to reflect you. Thank you for drawing us near, amen.

Finding Joy

Riding Down Mount Haleakala

November 21, 2015

I see God.

The van struggles to make the last leg of the steep ascent up Mount Haleakala. The remnant of a low lying cloud lingers before the arrival of the morning sun and leaves a soft mist on my face. It’s chilly now but I’ll soon be peeling off layers during the 24-mile descent down the mountain.

Pairs of bicyclists leave and I close my eyes, breathe in and slowly exhale and wait, for a quieter, slower pace riding alone. After the van and the others leave I notice it – the stillness in the air is deafening. Alone, I pause to drink in the quiet. Gliding down the narrow, two-lane road I ride to the rhythm of clicking gears.

For a moment I think, riding alone, should I be fearful? I set aside the reality check in exchange for the gift that bicycling unwrapped for me as a child. Carefree summer days, a warm breeze brushing my short blonde hair across my freckled face… letting go of the handle bars and pushing the limits.

Another distant Hawaiian memory, studying in Honolulu for a semester and riding the “beach mobile” with my girlfriend on the handlebars, back and forth from the beach every day. And a familiar warm breeze brushing my light-brown hair across a 20-year old face, the pink strings of my bikini top flying in the wind.

Around the bend I see the first sign of life; cows grazing in a fence-less pasture near the side of the road. Will one amble into my path? They blissfully ignore me as I glide by.

Easing down the series of switchbacks and blind turns, I see a handful of houses, shacks really, that season after season have stood the test of time. Suddenly, an intoxicating smell overwhelms me, familiar but like nothing I’ve ever smelled in nature. A glance to the left reveals shadowy figures of Eucalyptus trees. The pungent, medicinal smell tickles my nose and my eyes water.

Farther on, I pull over to the side of the road, small swags of coffee beans dangle just above my shoulder. I gather a few dark red cherries for a closer look after my ride. An old sign catches my eye, boasting of Hawaiian coffee and my interest peaks. I walk my bicycle up a path where creamy petals of island plumeria line the trail. I savor the soft, sweet fragrance that stirs another familiar paradise memory.

At the top of the driveway battered, barn-red siding outlines an old storefront. I lean my bicycle against the front porch and open the squeaky screen door with the toe of my shoe. An older man with a dark, weathered face and a young mom and toddler sit inside at a table. A younger man behind the counter offers a “Mahalo” greeting as the screen door softly slams behind me.

“Where are you from?” “Visiting from the mainland, Washington State,” I replied. The older gentleman was seven years old at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The mom makes her living at a roadside stand closer to town selling coffee. I buy a bag of coffee and candied ginger and am on my way.

The descent gets steeper now with more switchbacks. Suddenly, I turn the corner to a stunning panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. Leaning my bicycle against a tree, I scan the flat line of the horizon, amazed by the intoxicating scene. Camera shots won’t capture the paint-box blue sky reflected on the deep green water and twinkling white waves.

A rock bathed in sunlight begs me to linger, I flatten out and close my eyes; slowed breathing relaxes my soul. I see God, through all that he created. [Tweet that!]

I am the LORD God.
I created the heavens
like an open tent above.
I made the earth and everything
that grows on it.
I am the source of life
for all who live on this earth, so listen to what I say.
Isaiah 42:5 NLT

Finding Joy

Have You Ever Played Cards With a Vicar?

November 17, 2015

We walked our bicycles loaded with gear onto the Black Ball Ferry in Port Angeles. Our first stop was the cobbled streets of Victoria on the way to the Gulf Islands, just north of the San Juan Islands in Washington.

After exploring the city, we road north to the Tsawwassen Ferry terminal and sailed to Sturdies Bay on Galiano Island. It was a short ride to the Provincial Park to set up our campsite for the next three nights. The following day, we rode from one end of the long, skinny island and back again with a view of the sea on both sides of the narrow main road.

On Sunday, we attended a small church service at St. Margaret’s of Scotland. Sitting in original wooden pews, the early morning sunlight poured through aged leaded glass windows onto our bare legs and arms. We rode the ferry to Saturna Island where the terrain was hilly but beautiful. Long ago I discovered the saving grace of steaming hot coffee and doughnuts at the end of a ride.  It can keep you going when changing a flat tire in the rain or struggling with the painful ascent up a hill that keeps on giving. Trincomali Bakery was calling us. We sat in the sunshine eating warm pastries and marveled at the untouched beauty around us.

On the ferry ride back to Galiano, a vicar in a black suit and white tab collar sat near us. We invited him and his assistant to play a game of “Scum” and they accepted. The vicar traveled every Sunday between Galiano and Saturna Islands to preach at two parishes. What better way to pass time with a vicar than playing a card game based on the principles of ruthless American Capitalism?

The next morning we sailed back to Port Angeles, our bodies weary from riding and sleeping on the hard ground. Some stretched out on benches for a nap and others read or sat silently in thought. The quiet was soon interrupted by excited voices and pointing out the windows on the starboard side. I turned in the direction of the pointing to see a pod of Orcas swimming in the same direction, not far from the ferry.

The image of glistening, black bodies jetting in and out of the water in unison will stay in my memory forever. This mysterious marine mammal reminds me of how big God really is.

God created the great sea creatures and every living and moving thing with which the water swarmed, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21 NET

I see God’s hand in creation and in all that is. Our invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [Tweet that!]

 

Finding Joy

Rainy Day Bicycling

November 14, 2015
Rainy day bicycling.
My friends and I often ride the Chehalis-Western trail from Lacey to Tenino or Rainier and back; round trip about 32 miles. Across the country, unused railroad tracks (Rails to Trails Conservancy) have been converted to bicycle pathways that walkers, runners and horseback riders also enjoy.

Connie and I have known each other for years and bicycle together often. Today, we met in the parking lot next to the trail, loaded up our gear, water bottles and compact bicycle pumps and headed out. About a third of the way into our ride it began to rain, just a sprinkle at first and then the drops fell as if poured from a pitcher. We rode through it, into the wind, our hair quickly soaked and even our shoes. Large rain drops dripped off my nose onto my upper lip.

Connie and I arrived in Rainier, cold and completely soaked to the point our shoes sloshed when we walked. We parked our bikes in front of the little grocery store. Inside we settled on bagels and cream cheese and ham on light rye with extra mayo. We paid for our lunch items and walked next door for a tall espresso coffee, extra hot.

The laundromat across the street was open. We walked our bicycles, lunch and coffee across the street. The place was empty so we brought our bicycles into the small waiting room and leaned them against the wall. We stripped everything off as far as we could and not be arrested for indecent exposure. Everything went into a big commercial dryer, including our shoes.

We settled into a pair of black vinyl chairs for girl talk, about life and how God was working in every issue. We prayed for each other and reminisced about old times, when we met in junior high school, previous bicycle rides, and tangled relationships.

We laughed remembering island hopping with our bicycles in the Gulf Islands in Canada and washing our hair in the sink on the ferry, reminiscing the familiar way only old friends can do. I was there during a cancer diagnosis, Connie was there during a painful divorce.  We gave support during the dark times and laughed until our sides hurt during happy times. We bicycled together in between.

When our clothes were dry we got dressed and wheeled our bicycles outside to start the long trek home. The sun shining on my face and arms warmed my insides, too. I looked up to see a rainbow, as only Washington weather can bring, and thanked God for my friend, bicycles and rainy Washington weather.

 

God our Creator

Bicycling gives me a feeling of freedom

November 10, 2015
Bicycling gives me a “take your breath away” freedom and I’ve never experienced it more than while bicycling in the San Juan Islands.
bicycle sunset
Every bend in the narrow, two-lane road reveals a spectacular view of the water, that salty smell in your nostrils or an undisturbed sunset shared only with the hollering gulls.
On the islands a bike map isn’t needed. There are only a handful of stop signs and the locals are friendly, giving way to groups of bicyclists is a common occurrence. If you’re willing to climb a few hills and back track when needed, you can go it on your own.
At Agate Beach Park we walk our bicycles down a stairway to the lonely beach. We search for agates and sea glass, broken bits of glass rubbed smooth by persistent waves. I admire the starfish, the intricacy of the pointed limbs and mauve colored bodies and think to myself, God must have a sense of humor.
So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21 NIV
Riding away from the water, yellow farm fields dotted with a rusty tractor or plow meet the stark blue of the sky and sheep graze peacefully in old pastures.  A humble, white steeple rises in stature in the distance.  The Lopez Community Church was built in 1904. I wonder, how many weddings and funerals have taken place here? Did a lifetime of joy begin at the altar of the small church? Were sorrowed tears wiped away with the comfort and hope that only God can bring?
How unchanged this place is over decades and decades of life lived, a small square of land in a fingertip of waters coming from the great and mighty sea.
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.”  And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1: 9, 10 NIV
God’s word affirms He is the creator of all things. The freedom I feel while wandering comes from the joy I experience seeing his creation. God’s Word gives me strength and clarity, it is my sure thing, my map and my guide for each day. [Tweet that]
God our Creator

There is a plan for everything.

November 7, 2015
There is a plan for everything.
Facebook Autumn
A plethora of autumn leaves greets me, great shots of yellow, orange and red mixed with green at every footstep. Pointed leaves like fingers reaching out. Dark rib outlines against soft yellows, contrasting red going into green.
Cooper Mountain Nature trail, we made it around 1.3 miles with five-year olds and that’s amazing. The pond is bone dry, which doesn’t surprise me considering our record-breaking heat wave this summer. We wondered, where now do the red-legged frogs reside?
In my front yard the mighty cedars have left a plush carpet of cedar boughs, burned fiery red by the summer sun and now fallen to the ground after the first hard rain.
There is a plan to everything around us and nothing is left to chance. [Tweet this]
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Romans 1:20 NLT
Creation all around testifies of God’s reality, it is undeniable. [Tweet this]
How did he know what we would marvel at? Did he know we’d stop to listen for the whisper song of the Stellar’s Jay or search the ocean’s horizon for a pod of Orcas or kneel in the grass with a five-year old to admire a bright yellow dandelion?
His creation, the magnitude and the beauty bear witness to me of his infinite plan and gift, a reminder of his love for us.
Indescribable Peace

Get Back Up When Life Has You Down

November 3, 2015

Have you struggled to get back up when life has you down?

Pinterest Wind

Douglas fir trees should stand straight and tall, like the stately evergreens announcing the arrival of Christmas. At the beach the firs are bent over, leaning, wind-swept. The velocity of the wind blowing over time, in one direction, trains them to grow away from the wind to survive. They don’t look the same.

We saw them, along the trail on the ocean side the other day. Gnarled, twisty limbs straining for relief. Leaning trunks, fighting to stay upright but yielding to a powerful, unseen force.

I want to trust the goodness of God even when he allows the wind to blow and I can’t catch my breath. He has drawn me to him all of the days of my life. He knew me before I was born and he holds my future in his hands.

I may struggle and complain and go my own way when something I’ve planned for and counted on ends or an invitation I expected doesn’t come my way. But he’s still here, drawing me back to him.

Do you feel overcome today? Is life relentless and you can’t get up? Call on him, he knows every detail…simple words, like you’re speaking to a friend.

I thank him ahead of time for reaching your heart today.
“Indeed we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:9 NIV

31 Days of God's Goodness

Celebrate God’s Goodness

October 31, 2015

I made it through the blog challenge of writing every day for 31 days and I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for celebrating with me 31 days of God’s Goodness!

The Write 31 Days international blogging challenge coincided with publishing my blog, Timeless Truths. The intent of my blog is to create a community of readers to share life’s joys and difficulties with each other. I hope my stories ring true in your heart and you see God’s goodness recorded in the pages of my life, because to tell you my story is to tell of him.

In the daily posts I hope you saw strength in the middle of a storm, hope where it seemed there was none and a peace that comes from something deeper than ourselves. If you were restless for something more I hope you saw his beauty unfold in your life and you were amazed by his love for you.

Remember, God is all in for you, too.

Let’s believe God’s promises of goodness for our lives:

RELATIONSHIP: Follow God and He will come near to you. [James 4:8a]

HOPE: Trust in God. He will bless us if we trust in him. He gives us hope and confidence in him. [Jeremiah 17:7]

PEACE: God will replace fear, doubt and pain with a quiet, confident peace we can’t understand. [Isaiah 32:17, Philippians 4:7]

STRENGTH: God gives us strength to go through whatever life brings. [Psalm 73:26]

WONDERFULLY MADE: God knew us before we were born. We are uniquely made. [Psalm 139:13]

UNFAILING LOVE: Follow God and trust him, he will never leave. [Psalm 9:10]

In the middle of the mess I see a glimpse of God’s goodness, I see a sign of hope. [Tweet this!]

 

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16 NLT

I hope you’ll come back and read more. Let’s see together what the Bible says about the ancient paths previously walked and walk in the good way, his way, together. God will give us rest for our souls.

 

I’ve included printables for you or to share with friends. The BEST printable is one of my favorite Bible verses. The Bible verses printable is all the verses I’ve referenced during the 31 Days of God’s Goodness. Life has a way of surprising us. I hope you’ll find the verses that speak to you.

Free BEST printable                         Bible Verses Printable

In November, I’ll post on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. I hope you’ll join me! I look forward to reading your comments, let me know how to pray for you.

The Advent season is a time of waiting and preparing for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus. An Advent series will start at the end of November. I’ll share short crafting videos in a new menu selection “Art from the Heart.” If you are feeling crafty, try a project that I hope will be a visual reminder of Christ’s birth.

God bless you today, I’m so glad you stopped by.

“Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness.” Psalm 145:7 NLT

31 Days of God's Goodness

My Story Isn’t Finished Yet

October 30, 2015

My story isn’t finished yet.

Listen to Steven Curtis Chapman sing, “The Glorious Unfolding.”

Steven sings “You’ve got to believe your story is so far from over, so hold onto every promise God has made to us and watch his glorious unfolding.”

Each day is a new day. There is order to the universe God created and he is in control. It’s true, my life isn’t anything like I thought it would be. When we ask God into our lives, we give up control and look to him for guidance. He is faithful to respond to us.

I’m probably the last of my group of friends to finally see the movie “War Room.” My husband and I saw it yesterday at the matinee.

In the movie, a problem was presented in Elizabeth’s life. Elizabeth then came in contact with an older woman who became her mentor. She showed her what God promises in the Bible and taught her to pray.

The movie’s message was an excellent example of what happens when we look to God, give up control and wait on him to lead and guide us. It also showed what happens when we give up our own selfish feelings to be filled with God’s love so our reaction to events in our lives come from his viewpoint and not our own.

 

31 Days of God's Goodness

God’s Goodness – Experience him, draw near

October 29, 2015

pin day 11

God’s goodness

In the ’60s, my family, cousins, aunt and uncle attended Faith Lutheran Church. I wore pretty dresses and white anklets, shiny black patent leather shoes polished with a dab of Vaseline the night before. The boys wore suits and bow ties.

School friends were in my Sunday School class and we played in the field behind the church while waiting for our parents. An electric fence separated the church from a farmer’s field and my cousin thought it would be fun to pee on it.

We all sat still through church at a young age. I remember the shiny offering plate, the mystery of communion and hymns posted by page number on a wooden sign next to the pulpit, the same songs sung Sunday after Sunday. I can still recite the Apostles’ Creed.

I experienced a close relationship with God much later in life. God sent his only son to be born into this world to live like we live. Jesus accepted God’s plan for redemption as his own. He chose to suffer and die on a sinner’s cross for our salvation. He bore our sins and pain so we don’t have to.

Grace. We don’t deserve it. That’s about as good as it gets. Tweet that!

The first four books in the New Testament, the gospels, tell the good news of the story of Jesus’ humble birth, his sacrificial death on a cross and his miraculous resurrection.

It took years for me to understand the full impact of this sacrificial gift God gave the world. Salvation for those who believe was bought for the price Jesus paid on Calvary.

I experience God’s goodness the most  while reflecting on the wonder of Jesus, my Savior. His willingness to go through this suffering so I can live will always amaze me.

31 Days of God's Goodness

You Are All I Need

October 28, 2015

You are all I need.

Rhett Walker Band sings “All I Need,” from their Come to the River album: Tell me, will I ever catch a break? Cause the storms roll on and where I am, it does not feel safe.

I don’t know what I should even pray.

But here I am, here my hands are raised. The rain keeps fallin’ down as the waters flood this town. On my knees I’ll be found  – All I need, all I need is you.

Have you been at the place where you didn’t know what to pray?

The words don’t come. My mind swirls with bits of conversation. My heart lunges with fear, anger, rage, bitterness, resentment…pain, sadness, grief… Sometimes tears don’t even flow.

Why God? What did I miss? What were you trying to tell me that I just didn’t hear? I speak the words between labored breaths. I want to run, so far, so fast, run away.

It’s then I pray. . .with bits of fear, anger, rage, bitterness, resentment…I take my pain to him, my sadness, my grief. The tears flow now and won’t stop flowing. I don’t know what will happen next. But I know now, who it will happen with. My God, my God, will never forsake me. I’m cradled in the safety of his arms, he’s guiding me with love into security and peace.

31 Days of God's Goodness

Help Me to Look Up and See Him

October 27, 2015

Blanca sings Greater is He, “I face a giant, in over my head, help me to look up. I take a deep breath and take the next step. Though I may be weak, I know who is with me. Greater is he living in me, than he who is in the world.”

Help me to look up and see you God.

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4 NLT

I believe you God, I belong to you. Help me to see you in the middle of every the storm.

 

31 Days of God's Goodness Indescribable Peace

God Uses Life to Increase Faith

October 26, 2015

Has a life event sent you reeling, like an unexpected fall that’s left you bruised and you can’t catch your breath? Is it a serious illness, the sharp sting of rejection by a friend or worse, your husband?

I remember that tender waiting space when it seemed time stood still and I thought I’d never find my way out.

Pieces of paper framed neatly on the wall, long hours and days upon weeks and then years of planning, reaching, striving. It all fell apart and was taken away. How could this happen to me? My heart ached from the unfairness of others actions and the sharp sting of careless words.

I expected God to set the record straight and take me out of this undeserved situation, but he didn’t. God didn’t rescue, he refined.

God uses life to increase faith.

Conversations were cold and aloof. Chatting stopped when I entered a room. What do they think I’ve done? What lies were told to make them act like this?

Through tears I cried, God, what do you want me to learn here? I need your help, how much longer will I have to go through this?

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV).

Jeremiah was in prison when he wrote God’s message of hope. The King of Babylon and his people came at the city of Jerusalem from all sides. The people were starving and ready to surrender. Jeremiah looked up and was reminded of God’s faithfulness.

Jeremiah trusted God to do what he said he would do.

I begged God for a sign of hope and he gently revealed to me opportunities for growth. Over the years I realized I had put my trust and security in something other than him. God wanted me to trust him in everything.

During my Bible study time I came upon nuggets of truth that helped me piece the puzzle together: “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.” Jeremiah 17:7 (NIV).

God was steering the ship and for the first time in my life I was allowing it to happen. My faith was strengthened, he was growing me and I was learning to trust him.

Slowly, my attitude and perspective changed. I stopped focusing on when this undeserved situation would end and focused instead on believing the promises in God’s word.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe he exists and he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NIV).

I am encouraged by the faithful men and women in the bible, like Jeremiah, who chose God in the face of adversity. Their stories give me hope and courage.

Do you need hope and courage today? God knows your pain, your heartache. Trust God to do what he says he will do.

God wants to take your pain and make a difference. Tweet that!

31 Days of God's Goodness

Do Answers Feel So Far Away?

October 25, 2015

Are you feeling pressured by the world’s demands? Do you feel there’s no way out? Do answers feel so far away?

The lyrics of Casting Crowns new song “Just Be Held” drip with God’s comfort and safety. I didn’t always feel that from God.

As a young girl my vision of God was one of judge and jury. However, the Bible says God loves us so much, he sacrificed his own Son so we can have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. For God didn’t send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 NIV

I praise him and thank him for taking care of what comes next before I even see it.

Thank you God, thank you. I’m on my knees and I’m not alone. I come to you and believe.

 

31 Days of God's Goodness

God’s Clear Direction in My Life

October 24, 2015

Pinterest day 3

Psalm 42, King David wrote about his thirst for God and asked “when can I go and meet him?” His prayer was written as a reminder to himself, a plea, to put his hope in God. In his anguish he expressed thankfulness for God’s love during the day and sang a song, a prayer, to the God “of his life” at night.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV.

The Apostle John recorded the words Jesus said to remind us we will face trails on earth. Yet, even with trials we can have the peace that comes from him.

With God’s clear direction in my life, he provides for all my needs and gives me the tools to live “above the noise” of the waterfalls.

Live above the noise.

31 Days of God's Goodness Indescribable Peace

Tranquil Peace with a Complex Life

October 23, 2015

Living life on auto-pilot, days turned into weeks and a young mom realized something had changed – it crept up on her, like a parent aging or a child graduating.

Careless wounding words layered with indifference and broken promises unraveled the stretched strands of a marriage – there was no going back. And a four-year old asked, “Will you leave like daddy did?”

Lives changed overnight. The young mom stood alone in the living room, wondering how she would balance work and parenting and house chores. The only sound was the slow “tick” of the clock on the wall. Grief danced like filtered light through the shades, in and out.

Peace was stolen and worry set in, unpaid bills and young daughters who didn’t understand. Silently, she navigated the tumultuous feelings of a broken heart. . .the solitude of night brought only morning light spilling out on a tear-soaked pillow.

A church girl who made the right choices, said please and thank you and didn’t cause trouble. She struggled with the “why” of this.

I knew that young mom, she was oh, so familiar to me.

It was a new town and she sat alone in the church pew Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. She craved peace and it was a process to get to that place. She dug deep into God’s word searching for something, anything?

Her Bible open, she discovered hope and peace and healing. Her girls slept through the night and she fell asleep with her thumb in 1 Peter. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7 (NIV). The Apostle Peter’s encouragement to the persecuted Christians, a simple “Sunday School” verse brought new meaning to her life.

She found his perfect peace, the kind of peace that floods minds and bathes hearts when we are “stayed on Jesus.” “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NIV

A job interview, the purple wool suit from the YWCA, she landed that job the same day she interviewed. They picked her.

The young mom came to God with child-like faith because she had nothing left. She gave up control and watched him work in her life.

I knew that mom, she was oh, so familiar to me…

31 Days of God's Goodness

Surrender All to God and Believe

October 22, 2015

This worship song moves my heart towards God. I’m filled with gratitude for all he’s done. In a worshipful place my worries disappear. I believe and trust God is in control, even when I don’t see it yet.

Is there something you need to bring to God today? Talk to him, give up your worries, sadness and grief. Jesus paid the price for our emotional pain, we don’t have to go through life alone.

One of the most beautiful promises in the Bible is “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 NIV

It took me years to discover God is really all I need. Everything else will fade away but God promises to be our God forever. He wants the best for you dear friend. Let him in and feel his love for you.

Surrender all to God and believe.

 

31 Days of God's Goodness

Trust God’s Perfect Plan For You

October 21, 2015

Pinterest day 2

I’ve always believed in God. But believing God, like Moses did, that is something entirely different. You might say he had something of an advantage – Moses saw an angel appear in the form of a burning bush. He and the Israelites witnessed the waters of the Red Sea part so they could leave Egypt unharmed. You can read the story in Exodus 3 and Exodus 14. Moses trusted God’s plan.

I’m inspired by the Biblical accounts of regular people like you and me who experienced God in a more tangible way than we do today. However, God is just as present and just as real as he was then. The Apostle Paul writes “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” Romans 10:17 NLT

We can trust God that he will do what he says he is going to do.

Look back on your life, do you see Him? Remember the movie, War Room? I keep a written account of what God has done in my life, a “wall of answered prayer.” Often, it’s easier to look backwards and see how He worked something for good. At other times I see Him move in the present moment and it takes my breath away, because I know it’s Him. 

I made one of the hardest decisions I had ever had to make in my life, walking away from something that had provided a deep (although false) sense of security for many years. That day, I learned to trust God’s plan. I could barely breathe or focus on anything, yet I felt God take my hand and walk with me. Later, I was listening to a Beth Moore Bible study on CD and she was speaking to her audience, “Girlfriend, God is pleased with you, don’t you forget it!” Can you hear Beth’s southern charm in those words? God intended her words for me and spoke through a recorded message, specifically for me. I cried my eyes out that day knowing how intentional his love is for me.

I hope you feel it too, he wants to love you like that. Girlfriend, God is so pleased with you!

31 Days of God's Goodness

Complete trust in His complete plan

October 20, 2015

Do you think you know God’s plan for your life but struggle to see it when hardship knocks on the door of your heart?

College graduation, career building, planning for retirement and investments for the future – all pro-active and smart things to do. However, sometimes God allows specific events to happen and when he told me it was time to let go, I did. Giving up financial security was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made.

I’m afraid. Solid plans make me feel secure. What if this is God’s plan but we don’t have enough to pay the bills? God, do you really want me to just wait? How long will it take for an answer from you? Will I know it’s you?

My family questions me, how I can be at peace when “nothing” is happening to move forward in life? I know God wants the best for me but I don’t see it yet.

In Proverbs, Solomon’s words reflect the wisdom God gave him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV.

I struggle with trusting God in all things.

I lean into him, “God, I’m taking steps to follow you and I’m only able to do the next right thing.”

I wait to see a sign of hope.

An opportunity I never thought I would have – I dust off my college textbooks and thank God for this gift of time to pursue a life-long passion for writing.

In the waiting, while trusting God, my relationship with him deepens.

During a time of great suffering, Isaiah comforted the people of Jerusalem with this promise from God:

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a path through the wilderness, I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19 (NIV).

I follow him.

I’m six years old again, eagerly unwrapping a large pink box with a polka-dot bow. The pieces of his plan unfold – It’s the lyric of a praise song, my pastor’s Sunday sermon. God, is this from you? Something resonates deep inside me and I am sure of the hand of God. I whisper, “thank you.”

God is in control. He knows the beginning from the end. [Tweet that!]

I’m thankful for my dependence on him. His gentle nudge is steady and strong. It softens my heart, I don’t ever want to lose that. I don’t want to be away from Him so long that I question His presence.

My grandmother’s story echoes softly in my mind. I begin writing and a faith-filled plot with real-life characters unfolds. A century ago, loving grandparents welcomed her into their home, the landscape of her young heart already dotted with hardship and broken promises. And yet God was there, his love and faithfulness carefully recorded on the pages of her life.

Time separates our stories but God was present for both of us. His love and hope in him, remembered in blessed words of old hymns and reverent awe of his beautiful creation. And God rescued us. . . through the arms of our grandmothers.

 

31 Days of God's Goodness

God Works Things Out for Good

October 18, 2015

Pinterest day 9

The foretelling of fall was the changing colors of the leaves in late September. We enjoyed t-shirt weather last weekend at the beach and now the rain is here. The still green, not-yet-ripe tomatoes in my garden are protesting.

I remember rainy, stormy moods . . . when it rains and rains and doesn’t let up. When will it stop? How did I get here? What do I do now?

Have you ever felt so alone, facing a difficult decision alone, or raising kids, alone?

When I felt all the pain, all the sadness and all the grief, God met me there, right where I was. When I had nowhere else to go, I felt him carry me.

You’ve probably read the poem, “Footprints in the Sand”(author unknown). When life hurts the most, it’s during those times that God carries us, leaving only one set of footprints in the sand.

Looking back on those alone times, God used scripture, a phone call from a friend, or some other means to give me hope and get me through.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Christians living in Rome: “For those who love God, all things work  together for good, for those who are called according to his purposes.” Romans 8:28. And I believe it.

Dear God, for those who are reading and struggling with this, open their eyes and open their hearts to receive from you, all that you have to give. Amen.

31 Days of God's Goodness

Reliable Strength in the Storm

October 17, 2015

Are you disappointed with love? Did a friendship you thought was solid change overnight?

Significant challenges in my work environment changed the friendships with co-workers I had cultivated over the years.

At the time I thought, how could I spend eight hours a day with people who were friendly one day and barely spoke to me the next? What lies were told or promises made to make them willing to deceive me?

God, you allowed this to happen in my life, I’m struggling to see how this situation will bring you glory. Oh, how I long to put my trust in Jesus and never waiver, his love is unchanging.

I was determined to go through this season with grace and love and no regrets. My interactions with co-workers and my supervisor were pleasant and professional.

I asked God to release me from the burden of caring too much about what others think. These thoughts have robbed me of confidence in the past.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

The words of this beautiful psalm are still true today. No matter what he allows to be taken from us, he is always there. He waits with open arms to comfort and provide.

I’m learning to put my trust in him, He is enough. My heart settles on this important truth. [Tweet that]

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like the stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” Philippians 2:14 – 16 (NIV).

What a powerful promise! Jesus is who we need and who we can count on, always.

31 Days of God's Goodness

God Gives Us What We Need

October 16, 2015

God gives to each of us exactly what we need. He is a loving and giving God. At times I’m overwhelmed by how God is intentional in my life and gives me just what I need but it’s usually what I could never have asked for myself.

I’m grateful for you, my reader. I hope what I’ve written has resonated with your heart during the first 15 days of the October Write 31 Days, international blog challenge.

“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.” Isaiah 32:17 NIV.

To thank you I’ve created a scripture poster of this verse to print and enjoy in your home or share with a friend. There is nothing better than to have God’s word reminding us of his truth every day.

Click on the link below for your free printable.

The fruit of that (1)

Also, click the link below to enter an exciting give away from Dayspring!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ff92849712/

Join me tomorrow for the next installment of God’s Goodness!

Nancy

31 Days of God's Goodness

Grateful for Our Great God

October 15, 2015

Chris Tomlin sings, “How Great is Our God” and the lyrics: Age to age he stands and time is in his hands. Beginning and the end, How great is our God.

Our great God, the God of Moses, Abraham, David, the Apostles Peter and John. He was the God of Martin Luther, John Wesley and Billy Graham. He was the God of my grandmother, Carolyn Lucille Darling.

He is present in my daily life at the same time he sees you go about your day. He cares about us and wants only good for us. He gives the invitation, but he is a gentleman and will never force himself on us. We get to choose him.

As you go through your day today, look for glimpses of God you can see and feel.  Make God big in your life today.

I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess. Martin Luther

31 Days of God's Goodness

How a Grateful Heart Changes My Perspective

October 13, 2015

Life is hard! Worry comes easy for me and it hasn’t paid off. At times I wonder, what is with me? Why do I immediately go there when disappointment takes flight and lands squarely on my shoulders?

The Apostle Paul wrote letters to the churches of his time, many of them while he was in prison. The purpose of the letters was to encourage them.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV).

In the middle of difficult circumstances, Paul changed his attitude to thankfulness for all God had done for him.

Praising God for trials is usually the last thing I want to do. However, when I start my day with gratitude, my perspective changes. Worry and anxiety disappear and my mind is caught up in the gift of gratefulness.

David was a man after God’s own heart. In many of the Psalms he wrote of his thankfulness for God’s goodness even during great trials. When he did this, his attitude changed.

“You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to you for you will answer me.” Psalm 86:5-7 NIV.

I think of how God has worked in my life. I can pin-point rough, discouraging times, days I wanted to give up. Days I was tempted to crawl under the covers and not get out of bed. God was there in my discouragement, my heartache and pain. With a grateful heart, I put one foot in front of the other until I could feel the peace that is hard for us to understand, the comforting peace that is a gift from God.

Thank you God, for your goodness, even in trials that let me see who I am so I can be more like you.

31 Days of God's Goodness

Power of God

October 12, 2015

 

 

Jeremy Camp’s potent rendition of this anthem, “Same Power” remind us, “The same power that rose Jesus from the grave lives in us.” The Power of God lives in us and we have victory, victory over everything that comes our way.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV

The message of the cross is complex but complete. It’s a message of God’s love and power through Jesus his son to love and forgive those who put him to death. It’s a message of salvation and forgiveness. It’s a message of God’s power to raise the dead and bring back life.

To us that are being saved, the message of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross is the power of God.

If Jesus sacrificed his life for our salvation, why wouldn’t he care about the other challenges we face? Hearing and trusting the true gospel will bring the power of God into your life.

31 Days of God's Goodness

The Perfect Gift, Peace of Mind

October 11, 2015

Pinterest day 8

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV.

Perfect peace is impossible for us to achieve on our own. It can’t come from anywhere or anyone else.

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3 NKJV. The word “stayed” is rarely used in this sense today. However, it means “to stand firm.” Trusting God and keeping our focus on him will give us peace.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV).

The Apostle John recorded the words Jesus said to remind us we will face trails on earth.

Perfect peace is no anxiety, no worry, no striving or competing with others. Perfect peace is an inner rest. We don’t understand this perfect peace because it’s present despite our circumstance.

“And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

31 Days of God's Goodness

Hope for the Broken Record in your Mind

October 10, 2015

God protect my heart from the ugly that people dish out that leave me bruised and broken.

Conversations haunt my night time and occupy my day. Like a broken record, I replay what was said over and over in my mind. Senseless rumination is an all-consuming activity. I’m drowning in a deep pool of lies; harsh, cruel words overflowing and never ending. Others have used their words as a weapon against me, how much more can I take?

As Christians, we face dark principalities because we live in a fallen world. The Apostle Paul wrote letters to encourage the believers in Corinth. “We demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV).

Spiritual warfare takes spiritual weapons. Expose situations with prayer and ask God to move in and change your thoughts. When I’m barely able to tread water I ask myself, “is this comment or thought true? Does it benefit me?”

God, protect me from the opinions of others. Make only what you think matter to me.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
I focus on the truth God’s word reveals. Reading his word each day fills my heart and mind with the soothing assurance of his truth.

31 Days of God's Goodness

Celebrate God’s Love

October 9, 2015

Kari Jobe sings her song, “Forever” with such depth and expression, “The moon and stars they wept, the morning sun was dead. The Savior of the world was fallen. His body on a cross, his blood poured out for us, the weight of every curse was broken.”

I hope you see a recurring theme about God’s goodness developing here.

It’s all about him. And when we make it all about him, he is all in for us. No matter the circumstance, what happened before or what isn’t going to happen now, no matter the people, places, and funds, he is always there for us.

Seek him first and celebrate the richness of God’s love. God wants to shower us with his unfailing and unfathomable love.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”   1 John 4:9, 10 NIV

31 Days of God's Goodness

Seek God for that Real Relationship

October 8, 2015

Pinterest Day 10

Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy for the Israelites, God’s chosen people. He wrote from the heart and impressed on the people the importance of obeying God’s commandments. This verse is written as a warning about disobedience, but also contains a promise of hope. From a place of difficulty, a place of forgetfulness, a place of too much busyness, or just too much… From there, if you seek the Lord your God you will find him, if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

“If from there…”  If from anywhere? When the money runs out and tempers flare? When your husband gives up or your doctor gives a diagnosis that makes time stand still. And the diagnosis is for your child, not you, and you don’t know if you can go on?

I want to seek God first. Like King David wrote in Psalm 69, I want to have a “zeal for God that consumes me.” I’ve wasted so much time doing what I thought was best only to complicate and prolong receiving his best.

When I seek God and trust he knows what he is doing, my heart follows. Faith shows up, my focus is on God while I believe what I don’t see.

I made up my mind to believe God will do what he says he will do and that has made all the difference.  [Tweet that]

31 Days of God's Goodness

The Real Relationship God wants with Us

October 7, 2015

Today my daughter called me on the telephone. Did you catch that? She picked up the phone and dialed. Okay, well no one dials anymore. I remember when telephones were mounted on the wall, with a cord so short you couldn’t move from the kitchen to get out of mom’s earshot.

My lovely daughter had quiche in the oven and asked me to come over for lunch. Me? I had a long list of things to do for the day. But I set those aside and accepted her invitation. It isn’t often that kind of thing happens. The craziness of life gets in the way and it feels like we need an appointment to spend time with each other.

It got me thinking, is my relationship with God on a first name basis? Or is it by appointment only, every Sunday morning at 9:00? What about the rest of the week? God wants more from me. Unfortunately, it was a difficult time in my life that made me realize this.

In desperation I cried out to God and allowed him to see what he already saw. “Why is this happening to me? I can’t do this. I need to see you in this.”

During the struggle, I put aside my good intentions and began seeking God every day, throughout the day. Sometimes it was just a minute or two between phone calls or at stop lights, I checked in with him and I checked in repeatedly.

And I thanked God and got real with him for the first time – it changed my relationship with God and it changed my life.

I read the Bible and kept reading. And I copied verses out of the Bible onto note cards to keep them handy when I was driving or in my desk drawer at work. Those words became life to me. Those words gave me hope when by myself I had nothing.

The tragedy I faced would someday pass and no matter what the circumstance I believed God would be there and see me through it.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10 NIV.   I can’t imagine going through the difficulties of life without God.

 

31 Days of God's Goodness

Sacrificial Love for Us

October 6, 2015

The image of the cross brings me to a place of reverence and humility.  If God cared enough to ask his son Jesus to give up his life for us, wouldn’t he, couldn’t he, be everything the Bible says he is?

He could have skipped the assignment God gave him but he didn’t. He made a choice to love us with a sacrificial love, a love so complete and so perfect, this love is all we need. He is all we need.

The Apostle John records in John 1:14 (NIV) “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

My study bible indicates “Word” in the Greek is logos, meaning divine expression. Jesus is the Word who became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

John and the other apostles saw Jesus’ glory in the miracles he performed and in his death and resurrection.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you’ve been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Close your eyes and listen to the lyrics of Chris Tomlin’s song, At the Cross.  You will want to listen to the end or you’ll miss out on another old hymn, How Marvelous, How Wonderful, is my Savior’s Love for Me.”

Jesus died so we could live and we did nothing to deserve it.

That is Grace. And that is the goodness of God.

 

 

31 Days of God's Goodness

Designed and loved by our Creator

October 5, 2015

Pinterest day 6

Psalm 139, verses 13 and 14 have become my life verses. They are my go to verses when feeling loved seems faraway. God created me and knows me by name. My ability to love others is hindered when I don’t accept God’s love for me. How can I pour into others when I don’t feel loved?

Many of us carry through life the lies that came out of rejection and abandonment as children. We don’t have to continue to live our lives with the burden of our parents’ mistakes. Our children don’t have to live their lives with the burden of our mistakes.

I chose to forgive my absent father and my abusive step-father. The day I shared my “cardboard testimony” at church was the day I placed their names at the foot of the cross and asked God to release the pain that clung so tightly to my heart.

It’s been a process. There are days when old memories flood my mind and I have to ask God for help again. The scripture above reminds me who I am and who I belong to.

Are you held captive by lies? Ask God to help you exchange the hurt for a forgiving heart. It doesn’t mean the hurt didn’t happen. It means it’s time.  It’s time to let that hurt go and gain the freedom God wants for you.

Dear Heavenly Father: I ask that you help me identify the pain I still cling to, take it from my heart completely. I won’t go back to that place again without asking for your help. Your son bore this pain for me at the cross on Calvary. Replace the pain with your unfailing love for me. I believe your love will never go away.  Help me feel all of your love for me today, Amen.

31 Days of God's Goodness

The Safety of his Unconditional Love

October 4, 2015

 

The sanctuary is crowded today. I hear the soft strains of worship music playing in the background. The line moves forward and then it’s my turn. I walk on stage holding a square piece of cardboard. I lift the sign for everyone to see. “Abandoned by my earthly father.”

Tears fall from my eyes and roll down my cheeks. For just a moment, I’m that two-year-old girl again. I wait a few seconds and then flip the sign over to reveal, “Loved unconditionally by my Heavenly Father.” Emotions flood my heart as I walk off stage.

My father left me and my brother when I was two years old. We never saw him again.

 Father God, you will never leave me nor forsake me. I can trust you and count on you.

My step-father said hurtful words that injured. “I don’t care what you want.” (Your needs don’t matter) “You’re just a child.” (You are invisible).

He used his mouth as a weapon.

My twin grandchildren are almost five. Maddy plays with her dolls, “I love Cupcake the best because she looks like a real baby.”

Jack lays his boy doll, Turner, gently in the doll crib and covers him with a blanket. “Nana, I don’t play with dolls. Turner is a baby,” says Jack.

Thank you God for a grandson who is learning to nurture.
I’m learning to be grateful for a step-father who worked every day. We had a home to live in and food on the table.

I no longer carry the burden of emotional pain due to someone else’s behavior. Your son bore this pain for me on a sinner’s cross, yet he was without sin. He made that choice for me.

“For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV).
Psalm 139 – the heart of the Old Testament. David’s poetry illustrates man’s weakness and God’s greatness.

This is who God is. God the creator was there at the initial moment my life began. He was active in my life then and remains active in my life now.

 Dear God, I am your daughter and I accept your unconditional love for me. [Tweet that]

 Jesus whispers sweet acceptance to my heart and I begin to believe it.

 

31 Days of God's Goodness

I Want to Seek God First

October 3, 2015

When I heard this heartfelt song on the radio I was moved by the simple lyrics written by the artist, Lauren Daigle. “I want to seek you first.” When God showed up in my life and I recognized it was him, gratefulness overwhelmed me. I don’t know how I missed it before.

God has moved in my life in such a way I know it has to come from him. You’re right, life gets busy. I stopped paying attention. But no more. I want to be so intentional in my daily life with him that I never lose my way again.

The closer I get to God, the more God gets into my motivation and attitude.

31 Days of God's Goodness

Know God, Draw Near

October 1, 2015

My mother died before she grew old. We had sweet tender moments coupled with years of silence and forgotten wounds. One night she slipped quietly away and her 18-month battle with cancer was over. I was thirty-nine. Her death showed me somewhere in between getting married, raising babies and working full-time, I had lost my way.

After her passing, the depth of sorrow and emotional pain I experienced was overwhelming. I thought, she’ll miss seeing my daughters graduate from high school and walk down the aisle. What could our late-blooming relationship have been like with the gift of more time?

How much longer do I want to go through life, missing out on something more from God but being unsure of how to find it? I don’t want to just go through the motions day after day. I won’t know something better unless I take a step of faith.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:8a NIV.

Like an old trophy forgotten on a shelf, the Bible on my nightstand had gotten dusty. Opening the pages I found his words that met my need each day. God drew me back to him and he filled me with his Holy Spirit. I’m experiencing a richness and peace in my life I haven’t known before.

“I pray also the eyes of your heart will be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you; the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1:18, 19 (NIV).

Paul prayed this prayer while he was in prison. He feared that Christians had gotten stuck in their routine and lost their sense of hope. Growth as a Christian requires a mind and heart change. He wants to use us now, here on earth. He will work in our daily circumstances if we allow him to.

There are days when I still miss my mom. But my need for something more, something greater, grew out of the emotional pain I experienced with her passing.

In our failure, God will never fail us. Tweet that!

He is there in our loneliness, our fear and our sorrow. God knows the beginning from the end. I’m learning to trust him more each day.

“For this God is our God forever and ever, He will be our guide even to the end,” Psalm 48:14 NIV.

Welcome

This is My Story

September 30, 2015

I love old hymns. A wave of nostalgia rushes over me and I see a little girl in a pretty dress sitting on the wooden pews of St. Mark’s Lutheran church.  “Blessed Assurance”, written by Fanny Jane Crosby in the early 1900s, is a favorite of mine. Listen to a song by Big Daddy Weave that makes reference to this old hymn.

My story is about a “hope that never lets go, love that never gives up, and a story of life that isn’t mine” because God is the hero of my story, and to tell you my story “is to tell of him.”

I see “God points” in my story, specific times in my life when God comforted me, directed me and gave me strength. The situation may not have turned out the way I had hoped or planned but the end result was good for me.

My personal relationship with God began when I asked how he wanted to use me to share his love and salvation message with others. The trials I’ve experienced resulted in a deeper faith and closer walk with him.

I came to a point where I could do nothing more than give up control of all parts of my life. That’s where his beauty unfolded and I was amazed by his love for me.

God is present in my life, but he’s all in for you, too. Let’s celebrate that together. Share how God is working…share if you need help seeing it…share if life is “status quo” or average and you feel a restlessness for more. Being in community helps us navigate the difficulties in life.

In the middle of the mess I see a glimpse of God’s goodness, I see a sign of hope. [Tweet this]

I want to share the goodness God has shown me, with you. And that’s what my posts are all about.

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16 NLT

Let’s share what the Bible says about the ancient paths previously walked and walk in the good way, his way, together. God will give us rest for our souls.

I hope you’ll join me!