Thursday, October 30, 2014


I work so much better with a routine.

I am more productive and less stressed, and I handle the inevitable disruptions with more grace.

Some folks eschew routine for uninterrupted spontaneity. But if every moment of life is lived "spontaneously" - doesn't that kind of negate what it means to be spontaneous? If every single action or decision is spontaneous, well, that's not really spontaneity - that's failing to plan or to prepare. Maybe you could call it passivity, or apathy, or reactivity, but I don't think you can correctly call it spontaneity.

All of this to say, I was very happy to exercise with the ladies at ADBC this morning, after a week away.

My morning routine - coffee and Bible, then a few pages of whatever book I'm currently reading (right now, it's N. D. Wilson's "Death by Living" - AWESOME book), exercise at Caroline's studio, home to tend chickens, fix second breakfast, shower and dress for the day...

Yesterday, after more than a month off, I was even able to sit down and begin working again on Book #3. It. Felt. Amazing.

I love that the routine of life is punctuated by unexpected situations and unforeseen twists, by special occasions and interesting opportunities. I love having the freedom and the occasion to  be spontaneous. To do something "just because."

And I love routine.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Like a water balloon filled to the point of bursting.

And another splash of water is added.

Then another.

The weight of the water, the tension of the elastic skin - you hold your breath.

So much fullness that it can barely be contained.

That's how my heart felt this past weekend.

A busy day Friday, packing and driving and setting up for the rehearsal dinner. The wedding rehearsal - so many dear friends and family together under one roof. So many smiles and hugs, so much laughter and delight.

The ladies at Salem ARP Church - many of whom I had never met before - gathered in the church kitchen, where they baked and decorated and served and cleaned. They loved me like one of their own. Loved my whole family. Loved my new family, too.

I woke in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday - that's what you do when you're 50 years old and you have achy bones and joints, wake up at 3:00 a.m. - and I lay considering the evening past and the special day ahead. And I felt like I was basking in the warmth of a ginormous, holy, heavenly smile. "Do you know how much I love you?!"

I smiled back in the darkness. "So very much," I thought, "that you have completely overwhelmed me. My heart is bursting."

"Oh, I love you that much, and even more! Wait and I have in store!"

I think He cracked my ribs. He so over-filled my swollen heart that it burst. And a great torrent of joy and gratitude and delight has been bubbling out ever since, so that I feel adrift in a flood of God's great goodness.

Congratulations, Nate and Abby!

Friday, October 17, 2014


With two flat tires on the van recently, I found myself stuck at home for an entire week.

I did...
mop the floors,
clean the bathrooms,
chug through a ton of schoolwork with the high school sophomore,
pull grass out of the irises,
walk to the neighbors' house to visit several times,
hose off the back porch,
catch up on some paperwork,
work a couple of crossword puzzles,
and read a book.

I did not...
exercise with the ladies at ADBC each morning,
make a run to town for groceries,
shuttle Helen to her piano lesson
or to the homeschool group teen meeting,
mail packages at the Post Office,
shop for a dress to wear to the wedding,
make my weekly stop at the newspaper office,
visit the expectant mother,
check out the deals at Goodwill,
or shop for fresh fall vegetables at the produce stand.

It was nice to have a clean house.

I love George MacDonald's fairy tales.

And I am very thankful for new tires on the van.

Friday, October 10, 2014

WOMAN (Bride, Part 3)

Continuing the "bride" theme...(You do know what's coming next week, right?)

WOMAN (Bride, Part 3)
- originally published June 19, 2012

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. - Genesis 1:26a,27

One of the treats of going to my grandmother's house as a little girl was that I got to watch TV.  We didn't have a TV at my house.  I remember a commercial for a particular brand of hair dye (was it Clairol?) that proclaimed:  "It's you, only better."  Even as a child, I thought that statement seemed nonsensical.  How could a product claim to be "me" and "better than me" at the same time?  Seemed like it should be one way or the other, but not both.

I remember another commercial which featured a vampy woman singing in a throaty voice as she stared out of the TV with come-hither eyes:  "Who can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you're a man?"  She began the commercial in a business suit, switched to an apron, and finally ended up in a slinky nightgown.

Funny what sticks in your head over the years from watching television!

There is a philosophy of womanhood running rampant today that asserts women are just like men...only better.  Yes, we can dominate the corporate world, and we can cook dinner and be sex goddesses while we're at it.  Young women feel pressure to be it all, do it all.  The woman who genuinely desires to devote herself to seeking God, to loving her husband, to motherhood, home-making, hospitality, and the slow, unglamorous business of a life of service often finds herself pressed to "do more" with her life.  Like she's wasting her potential, selling out womankind, betraying the sisterhood, by refusing to buy into the lies of the age.

Sara Groves laments this new age of womanhood in her song "Every Minute":  I can think of time when families all lived together, four generations in one house.  And the table was full of good food and friends and neighbors.  That's not how we like it now. Cause if you sit at home you're a loser.  Couldn't you find anything better to do?

In Genesis, we read that when God purposed to form a creature that would bear His image, He did so by making a man and a woman.  Woman was not a copy of man.  She was not man-only-better.  She was a unique representative of the God of the universe.  Whatever God wanted to communicate to this world about Himself through His image-bearers, He chose to do so through two distinct, complimentary beings - man and woman - each with their own gifts, strengths, and abilities.

Many woman today resent this distinction and labor to usurp the place of man.  Instead of gratefully receiving the good gifts and opportunities given them by God, they long covetously for another role.  Ironically, by doing so, they belittle the value of women rather than elevating women.

My challenge to you today, young bride, is this:  Never, ever forget that you are a unique image-bearer of the most high God.  God has made you different from your husband for a reason.  There is something about Himself that God wants to tell the world through you, a woman, that He has chosen not to tell through a man.  Because you are different, you have much to learn from your husband, and he has much to learn from you.  Don't be tempted to suppress the differences.  Celebrate those differences, and seek to use them to glorify God and to serve those around you.

And I'll caution you, young bride:  being a woman - a true woman - is hard work.  God's daughters are not pale lilies, locked away in ivory towers, eyes weak from embroidering tapestries.  No, they are strong women, warrior princesses, laboring against the lies and schemes of Satan.  Our service is right on the front line of Satan's attacks - our homes, our marriages and our families.

Don't get distracted.  Don't waste your time and strength trying to be something that you're not, "only better."

Suit up.  Stand strong.  Be a woman.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

BRIDE: BEWARE! (Bride, Part 2)

Continuing with the wedding theme...!

BRIDE:  BEWARE! (Bride, Part 2)
- originally published June 14, 2012

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me. - Genesis 20:2-3

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened...they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. - Romans 1:21, 25

I've heard it said that idolatry is when we take something good...and make it ultimate.  God is our ultimate source of life, security, purpose, joy, wisdom, hope, delight.  No thing - and no body - can supplant God.  Try putting something else in the place of God and you're headed for disappointment and misery.  Why?  Because nobody else can meet our deepest needs, satisfy our deepest longings, give us greater purpose or hope or joy.  Nobody.

A friend once described idolatry to me this way:  "I could never be happy in life without _________.  Fill in that blank, and you'll know what your idols are."  What would you put in that blank, young bride?  Hmmmm.  Tough question.

Paul writes in Philippians 4:11, "...I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."  Earlier, in Philippians 1, we read this from Paul:  "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain....My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better."  Now that's a heart rightly devoted to Christ!

Dear bride, a husband is something wonderful to have.  A very good gift from a very good God.  But a husband makes a lousy deity and an inadequate savior.  At this young stage in your life together, it is easy to become completely wrapped up in and focused on the delightful companion that God has given you, even to the point that your world shifts - how easy it is to make your husband the very center of your life's orbit, to put him in a position that only God can fill!

Beware!  Don't make your husband an idol!  Don't put pressure on your husband to be for you and do for you what only God can be and do.  This will lead to disappointment and heartache on your part, and frustration and defeatism for your husband.  It will strangle the life out of even the sweetest relationship, begun with great joy and intimacy.

Love your husband.  Enjoy him greatly.  Respect him and submit to his leadership.  Thank God for him every day.  But don't make him your life's purpose and substance.  Rather, walk together with your husband, side by side, toward that ultimate goal of knowing and loving Christ more deeply, trusting in His sufficiency and reveling in His goodness more each day.

Monday, October 6, 2014

BRIDAL ARMOR (Bride, Part 1)

A precious, beautiful young woman is changing her last name to Kendall at the end of this month. In honor of the occasion, I'm reposting three "letters" written to a bride-to-be...

BRIDAL ARMOR (Bride, Part 1)
- originally published June 12, 2012

It's upon us again:  The Season of Love.

Twenty-eight years ago last Saturday, Steve and I stood before family and friends and committed to love each other "until death do us part."  This coming weekend, a dear young sister in Christ will stand before God, her church, family, and friends, and make a similar vow to her beloved.  Anniversaries, bridal showers, wedding must be June!

Honestly, even after twenty-eight years, I have to admit that I do not have this marriage thing down.  There are sweet seasons of delight, and then there are days when this feels more like the front line of a war zone.  But I guess that shouldn't be too surprising:  marriage is a war zone, and we have a cunning, ruthless, persistent enemy who wants very much to take us down.

In Ephesians, Paul spends a great deal of time talking about relationships within the body of Christ.  Husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants (or "bosses and employees").  And then, right on the heels of a lot of very particular instruction concerning these relationships, we encounter the passage that tells us to "put on the whole armor of God."  Why the leap from "love your wife" and "submit to you husband" - to - "put on armor"?  Doesn't that seem a little strange to you?

Not when you consider that Christ loves the church and that it is precious to Him.  This multifaceted jewel - the bride of Christ - reflects the radiance of the Gospel and of God's love for His people as we relate with one another.  And it is here, in our most intimate relationships, that Satan labors tirelessly to discredit the Gospel and to bring dishonor to the Bridegroom.  Paul exhorts Christian husbands and wives to arm themselves against Satan's attacks, and to STAND.  Yes, it's going to get messy.  Yes, we are going to get weary.  It may even get so tough that we want nothing more than to flee the battlefield.  But our command is to stand. Stand. Stand.

It's easy to get so preoccupied with The Dress that a bride forgets to put on her Armor first.  Sadly, the lace and the satin won't provide much defense against fiery darts.  All that said, what counsel would I give a young bride as she "suits up" for her wedding day?

First, young bride, always remain conscious of the truth that your eternal husband is Christ.  The handsome young man standing with you at the altar today will be your husband for only a season.  Five years, twenty-eight years, seventy years.  I don't know how many years God will bless you to have together, but I do know that one day, this earthly marriage will come to an end.  Enjoy your husband for the season God gives you, and let the delights of your marriage whet your appetite for the greater delights of Glory.  Walk together through the trials you and your husband encounter in this life, and let those trials increase your longing for the wedding feast of the Lamb, where there will be no sin, tears, sickness, or pain.

Just as you want to know and love and serve your earthly husband better throughout your lifetime, seek also to know and love and serve Jesus better.  Married life should not be a distraction that pulls you away from Christ, but a powerful vehicle for pulling you more and more towards Christ.  Marriage is not just an opportunity to know and enjoy another person in an intimate way...It is an opportunity to learn and experience more of the beauty, grace, and sufficiency of Christ, and to extend more and more of that grace to one another.

I like to think of it this way:  marriage is a living billboard of the love between Christ and His church.  It is an interactive, earthly picture of a greater, eternal marriage.  Yes, there will be times when we fall flat on this stage, or get our lines all wrong, but what a privilege to be part of this living drama!

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels. - Isaiah 61:10

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church...Therefore, take up the whole armor of God...  - Ephesians 5:31-32; 6:13a

Thursday, October 2, 2014


"Fine," I answered. "Pretty good, I guess."

That was how I answered the man standing next to me at the coffee pot in the church fellowship hall Sunday morning when he asked how I was doing.

It wasn't a lie. I really was fine. I had food, clean clothes...and soon I would have hot coffee, too! My kids were all healthy. I hadn't had to sleep in a house that had raccoons fighting in the attic or that was infested with fleas. (Been there, done that, and it is NOT "fine" by any stretch of the imagination.)

Except that I really wasn't fine. Not on the inside. Still struggling with this penchant for duplicity, obviously. "Um, yeah, I guess I'm fine." I looked at the man standing next to me and managed a smile. "That's the short answer. You don't really want the long answer, do you?"

The fellow finished stirring creamer into his cup of coffee. "Nah, not really!" he chuckled. "That'll do!"

On the other side of the fellowship hall, a friend sat down next to me at the table. "How you doing, baby?" she asked as she leaned over for a hug. I looked at her and smiled, and then the deluge of tears began.

Funny, isn't it?, how some people can see right through the facade, right into your heart. And when they ask how you are doing, you don't have to pretend or be "fine" anymore. Such friends are a gift.

So, on a different note, I am currently reading through the book of Isaiah. I sat down to read this morning - strange how I can already feel so tired, so early in the day - and, after I had prayed - for my kids, for endurance, for stronger faith, for comfort and encouragement... - I read:

...I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine...I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you...I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you...bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made...

Funny, isn't it?, that God would have me right at Isaiah 43 first thing this morning.

Ever feel like God is speaking directly to you? Like He wrote the entire Bible just especially for you?

He is just that good, isn't He? :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


This is going to be a very eventful month for our family. To kick off October, Bethel Road is available for Kindle for FREE, today through Friday! Take advantage of this opportunity to get your free copy, and, when you're done reading, do me a huge favor and write a review on Amazon &/or Goodreads - I really appreciate your feedback!

Click HERE to request your Kindle download.