Contact Me

If you enjoy my blog and would like to contact me, you may reach me at this email:

Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Powerball Jackpot: You Won!

Seems like every time I turn on the news this week I hear about the 550 million dollar Powerball jackpot.
There's a part of me that's tempted to go on down to my local convenience store and buy a ticket or two.
Wow! Just think what I could do with the money.
What would you do?
I think I'd set up all kinds of accounts for my favorite charities.
Lots of my winnings would go to my church.
Some would go to local hospitals
Some to women's shelters.
And, of course, there'd be lots for me, too.
First thing I'd do is help my children get the rest of their schooling.
Then I'd set up education funds for my grandchildren.
I'd pay off the house.
Maybe pay off my children's mortgages, too.
Maybe I'd get some liposuction for my middle-aged midsection.
Buy a condo in my favorite city. Then I could jet over there any time I wanted to sight-see and attend the ballet and the opera.
Gosh, all my money woes, and all of my dreams would be fulfilled.


There are a few small problems attached to having all the money in the world, though.
I think my personal problems with a largesse might approximate  what I believe happens to societies who have too much material wealth:

We stop putting our hope in God.

Oh, I'd keep worshiping my Lord.
I'd give Him thanks for His tremendous blessings.
But I think, somewhere down my wealthy road, I'd begin to focus more about my money in the bank and less about my Lord in heaven.

Our Sunday school once hosted a Russian missionary who flies planes and brings supplies to villages in Siberia.
He shared about his many struggles, both physical and spiritual.
The intense weather saps the physical strength of the village people he serves. Health care is sparse.
Never enough food and supplies. Religious persecution rampant.
So many needs.
Yet this missionary and the people he serves are on fire for the Lord. Their faith is vibrant.
They have nothing. Yet everything. Because God supplies all their needs. And they look to Him for their nurture.

The Russian missionary said he pities us in the western world for this very reason.
We have no need, so we have little faith.

So, I think I won't go down and buy a Powerball ticket.
Winning might be losing.

"And my God will meet all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19 NIV Bible)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Refocus and Really See

My daughter and I went to the San Diego Zoo about a year ago.
My favorite viewing place is the big cats, especially the lions.
There was a gorgeous lion who seemed to be enjoying all the gawkers.
I'm not sure if he was enjoying the attention from all of us, or simply planning his next meal.
I got a great shot of him through the rope fencing with my digital camera.
When I loaded the picture onto my computer and it came onto my large screen, I was surprised by the effect.
The fence, which looks like a rope cyclone fence is in the foreground.
For a minute, my eyes focus only on that, and the lion behind the fence seems to be just a blur of light brown.
Then my eyes adjust to the background and I see the lion.
He startles me every time.

I wonder if we tend to view life like that, too.
Do we focus only on the immediate things in our life? The rope fences?
Do we see only the urgent things that need to be done?
 the meals to be prepared, the errands to be run, the bills to be paid, the workload sitting on our desks?

 The "fence" is valuable.
But it is the lion that we came to view.
He is what we will remember after we have returned home. 

Can we allow our "eyes" to refocus...
On the larger picture?
  • The meaning of our lives in the light of eternity.
  • The larger goal of our child-rearing. Not just the immediate need to frantically chauffeur our children from one activity to another each day.
  • The timeless quality of our relationships—not just for the pleasure (or the work) of the here and now— but for heaven's sake.
  • That God is near, very near, and waits for us to stop and enter His presence, so that we might touch eternity and view the universe from His perspective.
Stop from time to time and think about the events of your day.
Not just the routines.
But the significance of each event, each conversation.
See the lion behind the fence.

"For we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Cor. 4:18 NIV Bible)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Saved From Suicide

Some of you have already heard the story of my encounter with God. But if this testimony is new to you, I encourage you to read on. Perhaps my story will bless you today:

Years ago I hurt my spine and was in such unrelenting pain that I spiraled down into a deep depression.
I prayed and cried out to the Lord for help.
But I could not feel Him near.
It seemed as if He'd simply gone out of the room and shut and locked the door.
For weeks, as I lay on my bed and tried to recover from my injury, I prayed.
"Please, God. Please let me feel that You are near. Please answer me. Where are You? Do You even hear me?"

Friends prayed for me.
Other friends helped me clean the house, and took care of my young children.
But the Lord...where was He?

After many weeks, I woke up one morning and wondered how I could die.
I saw no end to my suffering. And God had abandoned me.
In the middle of my black thoughts,  a voice intruded.
It said, "Get up and praise me."

What? Praise the God who had abandoned me?
I could barely walk. But I got up and hobbled down to my piano.
I thumbed through one of my praise and worship songs and started to play.
My neck was so tight from severe muscle spasms that I could barely sing.
But I tried.
I sang  a song adapted from Psalm 139: Where could I go from your presence? You know everything about me, when I rise and when I lie down. I praise you because I'm wonderfully made.

In the middle of my song, I felt a Presence enter the room. There are no words to describe the transcendent sweetness and goodness of the Presence. I turned from the piano and saw nothing.
But I didn't need to see Him. I knew instantly Who was approaching.
The Presence hovered over me, then enveloped me.
He spoke into my brain three things that I will never forget:
"I love you. I've never left you. I've heard every prayer that you prayed."

He stayed for only a few more seconds.
If the piano had not been in front of me, I would have fallen flat onto my face.
Instead, I fell onto the piano keys and wept...joyfully.

If anyone ever tried to tell me I had imagined all this, I would say that there's no way my puny, mortal mind could have conjured and experienced the magnitude of such a Presence.

That was the day I began to heal.
Not my spine—that is still in progress—but in my depressed spirit.

That was over twenty-five years ago and I have never forgotten the day that the Lord visited me.
He could have strengthened me through a reading of His Word.
Or He could have encouraged me by the presence of my husband and children and friends.
But in His great mercy, He gave me a very special gift, one which I shall cling to the rest of my life: the physical sensation of His Presence.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you my wonderful memory.
Whenever I'm sad or discouraged, I remember the day of my encounter.
And give Him thanks.

(I even put this encounter in my latest book about a young woman who suffers from panic attacks.)

My prayer is that my experience will encourage others who feel that God has abandoned them during their crisis.
He has not.
Sometimes He is silent.
But He is always with you.
Don't ever give up crying out to Him.
He hears you.

 "Never will I leave you.
Never will I forsake you." (Heb. 13:5 NIV Bible)

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Choir Sang Without Me

What a disappointment.
I spent hours practicing and memorizing our church choir's music. We were presenting a concert of Brooklyn Tabernacle songs.
Last Friday night we performed our Offerings Concert.
The soloists sang beautifully.
The orchestra played like they've never played before.
And the choir gave it their all.
Standing up there in the alto section, I felt a little queasy.
But I chalked it up to nerves, even though there was really nothing to feel nervous about.

We had two more performances of the Brooklyn Tabernacle songs on Sunday.
Saturday night I started to feel more than queasy.
In fact, I felt downright sick: terrible headache, sick stomach, and a body that felt like it had been run over by a truck.

So I missed singing on Sunday.
I know, I's not the end of the world.

But for me, it was almost heartbreaking.
To work so hard on the music, attend all the rehearsals, encourage other singers...
and now this.
Why, Lord?

I guess my plans are not written in stone.
I need to keep a light grip on my belongings and my calendar.
And trust God, that He knows the beginning, the middle, and the end of my life.
He knew I wouldn't make that Sunday performance.
Couldn't He have given me a little heads-up about getting sick?
No, I guess He doesn't operate that way.

I think the Lord sees the significance of a performance as more than just the experience of singing in front of a crowd.
He delights in:
  1. The act of rehearsing, of being with other singers, of listening to their testimonies, of praying for each other during practice,
  2. Of giving glory to Him each day as I plunk out my part at my own piano,
  3. Of meditating on the powerful messages contained in each song,
  4. Of singing the songs for Him each day in the privacy of my home,
  5. Of memorizing words that will stay in my mind and spirit for the rest of my life.

For me, the performance was the goal.
Perhaps in God's view, the preparation is the goal.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This Is Not Heaven

Sometimes I have to turn off the TV and stop watching bad news.
Wars, famines, unjust governments, murders, rapes, diseases.
It breaks my heart.
And if I feel so very bad about these things, what must the Lord of heaven feel?

I want to beat my breast and plead with the Lord, "Why, Lord? What do such terrible things happen?
Please stop this evil!"

Today I was reading in the book of Revelation. In chapter 13, scripture describes a beast that resembles wild animals. People will worship this beast. He will be proud beyond imagination, and a hater of God.
One verse struck me: "He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation." (Rev. 13: 7)

Why would God allow such an evil person to conquer His own people?

Later, in verse 10, we read, "This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints."

I tend to think that life will go smoothly if I worship God, do right in my community, serve in my church, obey the government.
But in some parts of the world—and I believe it will be the case in America soon—doing right will not reap any civic reward. Instead, those in authority will come against those who do right by honoring Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ stands in the way of their own quest for total domination.
We should not be surprised.
Jesus was hated by His religious contemporaries because they rightly saw him as a threat to their control.

For whatever reason so great and mysterious that I cannot fathom, God has allowed misery to continue to flourish in this physical world. (When will it end?)
As long as we sojourn here, we are not in heaven.
This is the domain of the one who Jesus conquered. This one's time is short, and he will wreak as much mayhem as possible until his final punishment.

Hurricane Sandy's will keep ravaging nations.
Pandemics will sweep the world.
Evil rulers will inflict misery on their subjects.
There will always be corruption.
There will always be unfairness.
There will always be people who have, and people who have not.

Presidents and prime ministers, and parliaments, and congresses, and the United Nations will never be able to legislate or tax or fine or penalize or control the sin that is in the hearts of men.

Because this is not heaven.
We should never place all of our hope on any human ruler to bring an end to injustice or human suffering.
Let's keep our eyes focused on the Lord and the justice and healing He will bring.

"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'" Rev. 21:2-4 NIV Bible)

Monday, November 12, 2012

We Couldn't Stop Praying!

When we heard about our friend's accident, we started praying. Throughout the night, we woke and immediately thought of him, and prayed again. And again. And again.
Our hearts ached not only for our friend, but for his family, his dear wife and children.
At church that morning, every one we talked to said the same thing, that they had been praying throughout the night for J.
The congregation prayed together.
J has been stabilized now. For a while it was touch and go.
Today we heard that J is much better. Of course he will have a long road ahead of him for full recovery.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people prayed for J.

It is a wonderful thing when crowds of Believers come before the Lord and intercede for someone.
Has that ever happened for you?

In some mysterious way, the Lord beckons us to partner with Him to bring about His perfect will.
How can that be?
How can we help bring about God's will?
Do we "help" Him?
Or are we agreeing with Him for some great answer to prayer?
Is it that, as God's adopted children, He is allowing us to come alongside Him as He works?

I don't understand prayer.
I only understand that God wants me to pray, and it is glorious to enter His presence to plead someone's case.

What would happen if we didn't pray?
Would the outcome be different?
I don't know.

Someday I will know more fully, when I stand on the other side, outside this temporary shelter of my body.

What are your thoughts?
Why do you pray?
How has God answered your prayers?

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Discern the False Prophet

My friend was under attack, both emotionally and spiritually from a man who claimed to have a message from God for her.
My godly friend is a woman of great spiritual strength.
She's spends a lot of time in the Word and in prayer.
Her life is characterized by service, submission, worship, leadership.
 She is supported by her pastors and elders.
And all who know her can attest how God works through her to minister to people and to encourage their faith.

Nevertheless, a man came to her office and tried to tell her that she should submit to his leadership and allow him to "teach" her.

My friend's experience is not new.
We've probably all run into a man or woman who claims to speak for God.
But how do you discern the truth —or deceit— in that person?

The Bible contains many warnings about "false prophets."

In the Old Testament, if a prophet claimed to have a word from God, and the thing he predicted didn't happened...then the people did not have to listen to him or to fear God's punishment. (Deut. 18:22)

But what about nowadays?

Matthew 24:11: "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people."

Steps to identify a false prophet:
  1. Study the Word daily. A thorough knowledge of scripture will help you identify spiritual error in a person's words.
  2. Spend much time in prayer with the Lord. Learning to recognize His voice will sharpen your ears to recognize the true voice of God.
  3. Be under the proper submission to those placed by God over you: your pastor and other church leaders, your parents, (if you're a child) your husband, etc. because a rebellious attitude in one of these relationships makes you especially vulnerable to deceit.
  4. Spend time with other believers in fellowship, study, and worship.
  5. Meditate on God's Word throughout the day.
  6. Ask God for a discerning mind and heart.
  7. Discern the true motives of the person who is trying to tell you something in contradiction to what you've heard at church or through your Bible readings. Answer the following questions:
a. Do you know this person well?
b. What is this person's testimony of salvation?
c. Does he/she demonstrate saving faith?
d. Does this person have good relationships with others at church?
e. Has this person frequently left other churches? Why?
f. Is this person a new convert, or so new to the church that no one knows much about him/her?

If the words of this person are so troubling that you doubt your own mind, then seek counsel with your pastor or elder or counselor.
Examine your own heart. Why do the words of this person trouble you? Is it your own sin attitudes, or is it because something he says doesn't square with what you already know?

Surround yourself with mature and praying Believers during this time of perplexity.

Here's a verse to encourage you:

"As soon as it was night, the brother sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Act. 17:11 NIV Bible)

God bless you!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Faith in Faith, or Faith in Jesus?

"For it is by grace you have 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." (Ephesians, 2:8, 9, NIV Bible))

I had a friend who frequently used to say: "I just gotta have enough faith,"
when referring to something she desperately wanted to happen...or not happen.
Usually it was about the health or safety of one of her family members.

My friend wasn't a Christian, so I'd ask her, "What do you have faith in?"
And she'd say, "Oh, just faith. If I have enough of it, bad things won't happen."

I think she thought that faith is a kind of mental energy which, when there's enough of it, can magically produce whatever you happen to envision.

But that sounds to me very much like magic.

Now, I'm all for keeping a positive attitude. You feel better and live life with more energy and optimism with a positive mental attitude.

But to have faith in faith itself is a whole different focus.

I tried to tell my friend that faith must have an object:
I have faith in the chair I'm sitting in, that it will not suddenly collapse.
I have faith that the sun will come up tomorrow.
I have faith that my heart will continue to beat, at least for the next minute or so.

But these attitudes of faith are based on strong evidence in the reliability of these objects.
The chair is sturdy and has always held me up in the past.
The sun has been coming up for as long as recorded history.
My heart is healthy and I'm not so very old.

My faith is based on an object, a glorious Object: Jesus Christ.
And my faith in Jesus is based on:
  • Archeological finds that support accounts from the Bible,
  •  Irrefutable historical acts, 
  • The testimony of eyewitnesses,
  • The transformation of cowardly men into men and women of such conviction that they were willing to die martyrs' death.
  • The power of the cross to change whole nations from death-dealing Vikings or Romans or Goths, etc. into peaceable and civilized societies.
  • Witnessing the transformational power of Jesus in others' lives.
  • Answered prayer.
  • My own experience.

Faith in faith means nothing.
It's like saying I have faith that "nothing" will protect my children or heal my husband.

When a Christian says, "I have faith," he/she is saying, "I have faith in God."
God has supplied the Believer with faith (saving faith and faith to continue to believe and trust and obey God).

It is not the faith in itself.
It is the faith in its Object: Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ brings about God's will.

And it is not the amount of faith.
For even when my faith was small as a baby Christian, God answered my prayers.
I did not ever have to summon enough faith based on the size of my request.
(A little faith for a small request, a large amount of faith for a biggie?)
No, it is just that my faith rested in Jesus.

It is easy to think that the size of my faith will move God.
But faith comes from God. (Eph. 2:8, 9)
It does not originate from me or you.
I cannot add to the faith God has given me by generating my own faith "energy."
That would be tantamount to saying: God plus me equals my desired outcome.

Perhaps this is why so many people put faith in faith itself (which then becomes a feckless idol); they do not want to risk that God will mess things up by providing the wrong answer.

Faith is not simply thinking good thoughts.
Faith is placing your trust in a loving God who has proven Himself reliable and good
over and over in both good and bad times.
And trusting that even if He does not answer the way you want, He is working a perfect outcome.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb. 12:2 NIV Bible)

Friday, November 2, 2012

He's Been Transformed

Yesterday I met John (name has been changed) down at the guitar store, to try to decide if I should lay out the money for a new guitar.
Actually, it wasn't a new guitar. Just new to me.
John demonstrated his impressive skill on the guitar, then handed the instrument over to me. As we talked about guitars and I played my classical guitar music for him, I asked him how he had first gotten into guitar playing.
John said that he had once been a heavy metal player. He'd been a drug abuser and an alcoholic,
a real miserable guy with a god-complex. But he'd accepted Christ about 16 years ago.
I stopped playing and gave him my full attention. "How did that happen?"
He went on to explain that he'd met a country singer who shared her testimony with him. Little did she know that John had reached a low in his life and had been searching for God.
She gave him a tract about the four spiritual laws.
John read it over and over, but couldn't comprehend how it related to him.
In anger, he prayed, "God, please help me to understand this."
Then he read the tract again. Suddenly he understood that "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," applied to him personally.
When he read, "for the wages of sin is death," he knew that the wages for his own sin was death.
But the rest of that Bible verse reads: "...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
That's when John prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord.
He says that he was instantly healed of his drug addiction and his alcoholism.
I looked at John. It was hard to imagine that this clean-cut, nice-looking man could ever have been the man he'd described himself to be.

Wow! I came to buy a guitar and got to listen to a man tell me how Christ has transformed him.

I asked John, "Have you considered playing and sharing your testimony for other musicians?"
He looked kind of skeptical, so I said "you never know what's going in the mind and hearts of these musicians. They might seem hard, but privately searching for Something better."

I did buy the guitar that morning.
John made me promise that after I'd had the small crack in the instrument repaired I'd come by and show it to him.

My time with John was another God-appointment.
 John's testimony had me driving home rejoicing.
Because Jesus is in the business of transforming people.
Oh, if only people realized how passionately Jesus Christ seeks each one of us.
How He yearns to come close and embrace us.
He doesn't want you or me because He wants to oppress us, or take all of our "fun" away.
He wants us because He made us, loves us,  and understands our deepest needs.
He wants to give us everything.

When John was a drug abuser and alcoholic, miserable, as he lived only for himself, treating those around him with anger and disrespect, he thought he was pleasing himself.
But he wasn't happy. Far from it. And the harder he tried to fulfill himself by pleasing himself with booze, drugs and sex, the farther he got from fulfilling his deepest need:
reconciliation with God.

To all who met John in his former years, he probably appeared hard, sure of himself, unapproachable.
But his spirit was yearning for answers.
I guess you never know what kinds of struggles and searches are going on in the people you meet every day.
Like that nice country singer, we just need to be available for the next "John" that God puts in our daily path.

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Pet. 3:15 NIV Bible)