My life has been a journey full of twists & turns, highs & lows. Honestly, I'm not sure I could really define where I'm headed. But one thing I'm learning, the journey isn't all about the final destination but more about how we travel. And fulfillment is found in all that we learn & experience as we journey, not just getting to the end of it. I can't even imagine making mine without Christ before me, behind me, and beside me...

Sunday, April 24, 2011


     I remember those little things in Easters past. . .Easter dresses my mom made. She usually made matching dresses for Tammy and me. We later hated wearing the same dresses but we loved the ones that flared out when we twirled. One year Mom made my "air conditioner dress"--at least that's what I always called it. It wasn't a twirly one but it was my all-time favorite. . .I remember shiny shoes and sandals, rollers in my hair, and...good grief! All that hairspray for those curls I hated. Straight and stringy was more my style but Mom insisted on curls. They were way too painful! . . .
     I remember colorful Easter baskets, cellophane Easter grass--we had to have Easter grass! Massive Easter egg hunts with my Stephenville cousins--and I mean MASSIVE! I remember big family picnics at the park, good food, lots of laughter, swings, slides, and merry-go-rounds, Uncle Jay and Uncle Dub pulling my hair, and watching my Granny Morris laugh. She had one of those laughs that made her whole belly shake--but it didn't stop with her belly. Her shoulders, arms, and chest too--her whole body laughed. Seems funny I remember that now but when I was really little, I would watch her laugh and it made me feel good somehow. . . Easter back then was a day to set aside all things serious--homework, bills, personal differences, and complicated matters. It was a day to enjoy and celebrate the life we had been given.
     I remember Easter Sunday services no matter where we went to church, Sunday School, and resurrection sermons that seemed to last forever when I was a little girl. In later years, those Easter sermons were breathed in and absorbed. I remember communion even before I really understood what it was or grasped its significance. But I most remember Bill Pope leading the congregation with gusto. His powerful voice belted those familiar resurrection hymns--"He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today. . . Christ the Lord is risen today, Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-lay-ay-lu-u-ia." I especially remember this one: "Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o'er His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain. . ."  
     Today, those words stop me--"a victor from the dark domain." We don't often think about what happened between Good Friday and Resurrection morning--that dark domain.  But that time in between is what mattered most. . .The darkness came as His body and His spirit gave in to death. Evil had won. In a moment, the world changed, but the story wasn't over. While the disciples hid in the upper room and grieved His death--while temple leaders celebrated their riddance of this uncomfortable adversary--an unseen battle waged in that place between the living and the dead. Even in His own Son's death, God had a plan. This was the fight that would make all the difference. In the dark domain, Christ fought against death and sin and evil that eyes can't see. It was the battle for eternity. And Jesus bore all the blows as war raged those three days. But on the third day, He arose a victor from the dark domain...
      You see, the Resurrection wouldn't be a victory without the time in between Friday and Sunday. Jesus wouldn't be my Savior except for that time in between. And because of His own battle of the dark domain, He understands mine. Because of the war he waged AND won, my battle can be won too.

Don't take much for this crazy world to rob me of my peace.
And the enemy of my soul says, "You're holding out on me!"
So I stand here lifting empty hands for You to fill me up again;
But it's the time in between that I fall down to my knees
Waiting on what You'll bring and the things that I can't see.
I know my song's incomplete, still I'll sing
in the time in between...
Words & Music by Franscesca Battistelli & Clint Lagerberg as recorded on "My Paper Heart.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I think I am worthless - HE says I am His treasure. (Deut. 14:2)
I think I am alone - HE says He will be with me always. (Matt. 28:20)
I think I am unlovable - HE says He loves me so much that He died for me. (John 3:16)
I think I don't belong - HE says He has chosen me. (Isaiah 41:9)
I think I am unwanted - HE delights in me and rejoices over me. (Zeph. 3:17)
I think I am ugly - HE says I am His masterpiece. (Eph. 2:10)
I think I am far from perfect - HE says He will finish the work He started in me. (Phil. 1:6)
I think I am tired - HE says He will give me rest. (Matt. 11:28-29)
I think I am nothing - HE says I am a living branch, a true disciple. (John 15:5-8) 
I think I am out of chances - HE says, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."  (John 8:11)

      I am weak - HE is strong. I am ashamed - HE restores my soul. I am lost - HE finds me. I am dying - HE rescues me.  I am afraid - HE protects me. I am hopeless - HE becomes my Hope. I am broken - HE makes me whole. I am a sinner - HE forgives me. I am condemned - He saves my by His grace.
     "Who do you think you are?" Truth be told, I'm not much...not much at all. On my own, I am flawed and imperfect. In fact, I am nothing, but HE changes everything. HE is the Lover of my soul, my Deliverer, my Redeemer, my Prince of Peace, my Everlasting Father.
      I can't even begin to guess WHY He would love me or give His life for me. All that I am is because of Jesus Christ. Not because of anything I've done but because of who He is in me, I can say with calm assurance,

...That's all that really counts.

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." - 1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV

Monday, April 11, 2011


    This past week it has seemed like tragedy and death had the upper hand.  In some ways for me, it has seemed that way for me for a couple of months. Life, love....and loss. No matter what our position in this world, we all must face the inevitable truth that you can't have one without the others. If you really live, you will find a way to love...And if you love, you will undoubtedly suffer loss at some point. Loving brings life and losing means you have dared to love...and to live. Do you see the miracle of this circle?
     This week I visited a young man with his family in the hospice unit. Suffering a tragic head injury, life support had been removed and he was breathing on his own though his breath came in halting and strained gasps...He had dealt with confusion and strangled emotions for years but, in this moment, his face was calm. My heart immediately went out to this family in their sorrow and brokenness. I prayed with them--that, no matter what the outcome, each one of them would know peace even in the things they could not understand.
     I left there with a heavy burden for their pain and all that they would face in the days ahead, promising to return the next day. As I went down in the elevator, tears were hard to hold back as I prayed, "Give them peace, Lord. Just give them peace." 
     Within an hour, I received a call that the young man passed away. Death isn't new to me. I've seen the last moments of life up close many times--family, friends, church family, and even strangers. I understood what was to come. I had only met them personally an hour before for the first time. I had only invested a few moments of my life with this family, but the loss was too quick and too deep--this mom losing her son. 
     I called to offer help and condolences. Her voice was steady and sure. I was trying to lift her and her strength lifted me. She knew her son was finally at peace. Even now, she still clings tightly to the words Pastor had read the previous Sunday from Isaiah:  

    "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,”  declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV                                                           
    The next day, a precious friend lost her grandfather. Though his illness had been long, thinking of life and family without him was unimaginable. Her grief runs deep. 
     I watch my children continue to deal with the loss of their dad. The hurt at times seems too hard to bear but they go on. Daughter finds love that is strong--a young man Dad would surely approve of. Oldest Son begins the task of being the backbone--the one that keeps home and land in order. Not just house or properties--he's the spine that holds the family together. Even as he misses the everydayness of his Dad, he gets through it by making the legacy--the best part of Dad--his own. Middle Son looks to the future and asks his true love to be his wife. The next Son--our fourth child--shares before he leaves for Afghanistan. He looks ahead to opportunity and dreams that await him even though unsure what it will be. He shares his heart--he seeks love. Youngest Son returned so quickly to the battleground in Afghanistan but looks forward to the day he returns and makes plans for college beyond the Marines. Each one would give almost anything for one more day with dad. He was taken too soon and they can't understand it, but life goes on...They go on, keeping the best of Dad with them and letting the rest go--not living in regrets.
     As I pray for these other grieving families who grieve--maybe my own still too fresh, those words in Isaiah sink deep: "My ways are higher than your ways..." And I remember well what follows for it's one of my favorites:

"...Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don't go back until they've watered the earth. Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, so will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They'll do the work I sent them to do; they'll complete the assignment I gave them.
So you'll go out in joy, you'll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thornbushes, but stately pines—Monuments to me, to God, living and lasting evidence of God." - Isaiah 55:10-13 The Message

Stately and lasting evidence of God. I think again of my children--MY sequoias, and I know there are regrets I have to let go too. Life goes on. There is much that we can't understand about loss and love and life. Death may come at any stage of life--young, old, or in between--but we can always trust in God's promises. He is still in control...He is with us always... And no matter what we face, He walks before us making a way through it. I remember the strength of the mother knowing her son was at peace and the confidence of my precious friend knowing she will see her Papa again someday. Their lives too will go on. Suddenly, the truth of the resurrection cracks this stubborn armor:  DEATH DOESN'T WIN.