Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rare Stillness


Deep breath in.  Quiet sigh.  Open ears.

Silence is rare stillness in our home filled with noises of our kids playing (and sometimes bickering), their music loud coming through the crack under the door, the washing machine or dish washer rumbling, the background noise of the construction still going on nearby, and even this past weekend, hearing the announcers and cheers coming from the TV showing the Olympic games. 

Life is constantly moving, constantly noisy.

But this morning I sit in silence…and have the gift to be for a few days.

With this gift to just be…with just me… will be many opportunities to be in silence.

But this silence does not make me feel alone.

Silence is holiness in the Presence of God.

There is humble gratitude for the gift of short moments of time of silence, whether they be a few sacred silent minutes in a crazy day or the few times of an extended retreat away from the every-day noises of life.  

I’m thank-full for this retreat…and I ask for God’s whisper to drown out all the other noises that I’m used to, and other distracting voices I constantly hear, to just be and to just hear... 

Because often when we carve out time for silence, we’re allowing ourselves the gift to listen.  And truly listening often comes with the gift of revival and revelations…fresh revelations of God’s goodness and grace.

Silence can be difficult.

Silence can be a challenge… so this I pray this week…and you can too for your own moments of stillness and silence.

Uncrowd my heart, O God,

until silence speaks

in your still small voice;

turn me from the hearing of words,

and the making of words,

and the confusion of much speaking,

to listening,




-Thomas Melton


#751  to just be

#752  silence

#753  time to listen

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July weekend gifts


Thank You, Abba, for these blessings with family this past weekend…


#731  a velvety summer peach

#732  son home from camp safely

#733  just son and me staying up until 1:30am talking…him telling me how we are like Jonah in Scripture…God was there…then and at camp last week.

#734  gift of vacation- replenishing

#735  gift of home – a refuge

#736  gift of relaxation – refilling

#737  surprise party for mother in law



#738  celebrating Gloria

#739  zinnias


#740  children singing and dancing praise to Jesus at church

#741  sour cream pound cake with fresh peaches

#742  Kline’s Homemade custard

#743  reminder of patience…and how God has the most.

#744  being together with my husband’s family

#745  being together with several 3 year olds to celebrate niece’s birthday

#746  being together with my husband’s grandparents

#747  being together with my husband and kids at the dairy bar on a beautiful, breezy summer Sunday afternoon

#748  Bobgrandaddy writing his story

#749  pink lemonade or sweet tea on a warm summer evening


#750  moon rays shining through clouds at night…bursting out from the top

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fresh Creativity

Thankful gifts…

#724  Special mom/daughter time for 6 days

#725  scripture painting

#726  2 Thessalonians 5:16-18

#727  Fresh paint.


Fresh paint with a clean pallet.  Fresh smell of paint.  A blank canvas.  Creative juices flowing.  Endless possibilities. 

This week while brother was at camp at Jonathan Creek with a group of kids from church, my daughter had some special mom and daughter time.  One of the things we did was paint.

We got out the grocery store ad newspaper to put under the canvas, pulled out a plastic cup and filled it with water, found many different paintbrushes with different sizes that had been scattered in different drawers around the house, got A LOT of paper towels, washable kid paint and went to work!

We had seen the blog Our Family for His Glory who posts creative ideas and activities a mom done with her children.  I really like the idea, especially since we’re about to re-do our daughter’s room this summer.

We chose a bible verse (one of my favorites that I’m instilling in our children).  Then we started looking through magazines to find the letters for each of those words.  Next we cut them out and taped the letters to the canvas which read”

“Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances.”                                 2 Thessalonians 5:16-18


We then painted over the letters on the canvas.  Once it had dried, we pulled the paper letters off and ta-da!


After we finished that project, many others followed.  Just free-hand, free-mind painting.  Abstract…silliness…creativeness….MESSY!!!

It got me to thinking…“In the beginning God created…” 

The very first verb in the bible is “created”. (Genesis 1:1)

HE is creative.   Just look outside your window and see what the Creator did with His creativity! 

The fluffy clouds above, the hundred of different types of leaves in the woods, butterflies and bumblebees landing on flowers, sunrises and sunsets, everything from the vast mountains to the tiny sea shells and even smaller grains of sand.

God is an Artist. 

The universe, and everything in it, is His Masterpiece.

And while He was creating all the things in nature, He was preparing to create us.  And when that time came,

God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1:27

We are made in His image…so we should be creative with the gifts he gives us, too.


More fresh gratitude gifts…

#728  Fresh creativity

#729  Fresh tomato sandwich from garden

#730  Fresh clean sheets (for son when he gets home late from camp and crashes!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Story in a Jigsaw Puzzle


Over the weekend it was another hot one so our family pulled out some jigsaw puzzles out of the closet we hadn’t put together for a while. 

There were 300 pieces regular size so it was one we knew we could complete in a couple of hours.  We turned the box upside down and started turning all of them from the cardboard brown side to the bright and colorful side. 


We also looked for the end pieces with a straight edge to make the border.  I always like to make the border first. 

Do you have borders in your life to set biblical boundaries in for protection and obedience? 

Or do you need to step out of your own little box and have faith?

I think each person answers “yes” to one or the other or both of those questions at certain times in life depending on the circumstance...they are important questions to ask ourselves sometimes.


While we were putting the puzzle together, my husband held up a piece and said, “You know…our life can be like a puzzle piece.”

Our daughter asked, “How?”

He said, “We sometimes question God why He allows certain things to happen in our lives.  But God can see the big picture even though we can’t see it or understand it all the time.  See, this is just one puzzle piece but it’s an important part of the entire puzzle.  We are like being that one puzzle piece.  God has a special purpose for allowing circumstances to happen and He has a special purpose for us in His big Story…or his big puzzle.”


Lesson learned from putting a puzzle together. 

I thank God for the ways He can teach our kids and give us reminders about Himself in ordinary, and even fun, activities like putting a puzzle together. (#713)


#714  gift of a story… the story my husband told of his “mishap” at 3am when he took our son to church to leave for camp. 

#715  Roger, the greeter, at church and his story he shared with me.

#716  an email from a Christian sister and her steadfast encouragement

#717  Our dog Levi’s 3rd birthday and the party our daughter threw for him.


#718  hearing that unoffered prayers are worse than unanswered prayers

#719  a morning spent with special friends

#720  hearing with a smile about the book of Titus

#721   gift low - friends’ basement filled with enormous opportunities of imagination   



#722  gift high… bloomed sunflower risen high over head 

#723  gift far away… son far away at camp…please pray for safety and him knowing Jesus even more.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Are you wearing thin?


It’s miserably hot and humid in the middle of July in the south.  So hot when you open the door to let the dog outside for a few minutes, it’s hard to take a deep breath because the air feels so thick. 

I step outside to get the mail and by the time I’m back inside a pearl of sweat has already formed on my forehead.

And even though wearing a thin layer of clothes I still collects sweat on my back when we get in the car that’s been sitting in the parking lot as we run some errands.

Wearing thin…it’s the middle of the summer and sometimes I feel like I’m wearing thin.

Wearing thin of creative ideas to do with the kids at home because it’s even too hot to play at the pool.  Wearing thin of patience.  Wearing thin of diligent time in the Word.

When it’s so hot it makes me feel lazy.  And it makes our kids feel lazy in the heat of the summer. 

And we have to be careful with that because lazy plus lazy can equal boredom.  

And boredom can become aggravation. 

And that can be easy to become because we’re out of our regular routine during the school year.

All we need is some replenishment.

Our tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini in our garden need replenishment.  Our roses, day lilies and plant on the porch need replenishment…daily.  I need to water them daily.  The scorching sun and heat sucks the life and growth out of them.


If I’m not getting replenishment from the Living Water (Jesus) and the Living Word daily…it can suck the life and growth out of me.

On days when you feel all dried up and thirsty, when your cup becomes empty…it needs to be refilled.

Refilled with energy.   Refilled with prayer.  Refilled with reminders of hope.  Refilled with patience.  Refilled to keep growth growing.  Refilled for revival.  Refilled with Living Water until the cup, or can, overflows…




Reading this Truth is what I put my stake in…reading this Truth replenishing and fills my cup full again…


We can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:5 The Message)


May you be replenished this weekend


Gratitude gifts

#702  God generously pours gifts into our lives daily

#703  gift musical - song of blue jay instructing her baby how to fly



#704  gift musical - my mom and her organ

#705  gift musical – today heard one of my favorite songs on radio…God of Wonders

#706  daughter home from camp safely

#707  daughter having a blast at camp

#708  the leaders who love her and love God

#709  husband came home from trip safely

#710  gift of darkness…the dark clouds moving in bring water to replenish our yard and garden as I write this post

#711  the rainbow after this rain


#712  gift of shadow cast at night on the back porch…still light in the darkness.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Who would not want more grace?

Gifts hanging down, gifts learned and more:

#694 ceiling fan hanging down and swirling to keep us cool

#695 butterflies hanging down under a flower as they get an afternoon snack

#697 all the Facebook pics and comments of how much crazy fun our SMC kids and leaders are having at Camp KidJam!!!!

#698 a gift learned…most valuable lessons come when we share stories of God’s faithfulness in our mistakes.

#699 a gift learned…God is not finished with us yet

#700 a gift learned…grace prepares the heart for more grace.

#701 It has been a gift the past couple of days to be able to spend quality time with my son. My husband had to go out of town for work and our daughter went to church camp for a few days, which left my son and me at home.

With him being a tween now…and will be thirteen in a few months…times like these become even more special. So, we went to the small downtown soda shop for dinner and then walked over to the $3 movie theater and saw The Avengers.

It was definitely an action packed movie about some of the Marvel heroes throughout the years who were brought together to fight an epic battle.

One of the characters in the story was named Phil. He wasn’t a hero…well, a famous one anyway…he was just an agent who worked as an assistant to the commander of the “good guy team”. I could tell Phil felt honored to know the heroes and be part of this mission to get rid of the bad guy.

But Phil was injured and shortly thereafter died which became the turning point in the movie where the heroes finally grasped the enormous depth of evil and need to rescue everyone.

But right before Phil took his last breath, his last words stood out to me.

Phil told Loki, the enemy, that he will loose the battle because he lacks conviction.

…Because the enemy lacked conviction.

Whoa…I had never thought of that before. The evil one lacks conviction?

The enemy knows the difference between evil and good, but feels no conviction?

Have you never felt a little twinge when you’ve done something you know you shouldn’t have done or shouldn’t have said? When you stretched the truth a little bit, when you said something behind someone’s back that wasn’t uplifting, when you are clearly doing something you know is a sin but chose to do it anyway?

I sure have.

That twinge, that prick…or even punched in the gut.

Conviction is when your heart knows it has done or thought something it was not divinely or originally created to do or think.

Conviction is that moment when your heart skips a beat because it was sacredly disturbed right to the core.

Then, it really is a gift to be given conviction…

I don’t want to be the enemy. I don’t want to be the bad guy who’s only mission in life is to try to gain total power and be in control of the world...his own world. His world that revolves around himself.

Self. It is the selfish power to be in control of your own world, and even others’ worlds.

Lord, please convict me when I try to be in total control
…and when I give in and allow the enemy to win some battles. Help me remember you have already conquered the evil one and won the war…the epic battle.

That person who lacks conviction is empty and void of the Pulse that keeps a heart alive.

“We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” Hebrews 3:14-15

Jesus, break my heart for what breaks Yours…

Sinclair B. Ferguson once said, “The heart-conviction of sin is the way grace prepares the heart for more grace.”

Who would not want more grace?

Who would not need more grace?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Do you have a stone?

It was almost exactly 6 years ago today. I was the farthest away from home that I had ever been.

It was a windy, chilly and overcast day as my husband and I drove on U.S. Hwy 101 along the coast of California.


For the past couple of days we’d been driving up the state of California. My husband had just graduated from an online Masters program through Pepperdine University in Malibu and grandparents were wonderful to keep our kids at home on the east coast side so we could turn this occasion into a get-away vacation and celebration of his accomplishment. Our final destination was Seattle.

As we got very close to Oregon, we decided to stop to be able to say that we set our feet on the west coast sand.  All before now we had been on the winding road with huge old Redwood trees surrounding us.

We found a “tourist” attraction sign so we stopped. We saw the beach from where we parked but had no idea it was a mile hike to get to it. And not just a flat coast line to run on to get to the sand. It was a one mile hike down a very steep and wooded hill.

Even though it was gray all around, the green leaves were lush with explosions of colors from wild flowers splattered along the way. We heard the trickle of a creek along the way to the beach. We couldn’t see it from the trail but I just had to see it. So, pushing back branches we unveiled the view of a breath-taking waterfall.

Water was running over, between and around smooth, large stones. That was just a taste.

We kept trekking to the shore and once we got there… I was surprised.

Living in North Carolina, when we go to the beach, we go to play in the pale yellow or light tan sand…even white in some places. And the grains of sand are minute…every single one of them!

We stepped foot on the very gray sand, with some specks of light gray and even black sand. And not only were there tiny grains of sand, but also different sized stones in the midst of the smaller pebbles and grains of sand.

They were beautiful, smooth stones.


They were magnets to my hands.

I had never imagined the beach to be dull gray, black and white, but it was one of the most beautiful and intriguing creations I had ever seen.

Just like seashells, each stone was different. There were streaks and splotches of white and light gray swirling around the stones…each one different…each one sacred.

I don’t know if I should’ve done it but I slipped one of the prettiest ones in my pocket to take home with me.

That moment was a sacred time for me. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like a small and ordinary stone in the midst of millions of others, all the hue of gray…

But there is still beauty in each one.

Breath-taking beauty in the eye’s of God because He created all beautiful things and all things beautiful.  He created each beautiful one of us.

I still have that stone in a little box on my dresser. Occasionally I’ll pick it up and run my fingers over the silky smooth stone. I see it and feel it to remember that sacred moment.

Jacob in the Bible had a sacred stone…the pillow he laid his head on the night he saw a ladder reach up to heaven. All throughout the journey at the Promised Land, God’s people would place stones on the place they experienced God as memoirs to remind themselves when and where God had revealed Himself and His holiness to them.

Do you have a “stone” to remind yourself of a time when you were on holy ground? Do you have a memoir that you can hold in your hand, put in your pocket, place on your bedside table or dresser, or the dashboard of your car as a reminder of God Moments in your life? It might be a stone, a seashell, a marble, a picture, a cross…anything small you can hold… that takes you to that holy space.

That holy space being a time when you knew God was present…where you heard God’s Voice through a specific bible verse or words in a song, where you felt your heart change, where you knew without a doubt that you were on holy ground in holy Presence.

Praying and hoping you’ve found or will find your own “stone”…


Continued gratitude count…

#686   the smooth stone the reminds me of God’s beauty

#687   free meal at CFA

#688  bowling with family


#689  yellow bowling balls


#690  picture daughter drew on yellow paper that hangs on fridge of RESURRECTION!


#691  yellow magnet on fridge saying,  “Love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength…”

#692  yellow mushrooms in our flower pot???


#694   communion

#693   daughter excited about going away to church camp for first time “on her own”…will you please pray for her to have a heart-impacting experience where she’ll know Jesus even more? 

Remember to look for stones!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Choose joy this weekend…


This weekend…reflect on this:

“You are a special and sacred word-of-God-made-flesh.  He loves you as you are.  He spoke your name and created you as a unique person.  So be who you are as created by God.  In prayer say your own word, sing your own song and be true to it.”

(A Traveler Toward the Dawn by John Eagan)

This weekend…




#680 my sister-in-law…who chooses joy and put this sign up in their kitchen. 

#681  growing in gratitude

#682  growing because of grace

#683  being with older people makes my heart swell. 

#684  the promise of eternal joy

#685  We can choose to live the life God created us to…when we choose joy…and dwell in possibility.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Just Jesus

I woke up early as I usually do each morning to take our dog for a walk.  It’s my morning routine.

This morning I looked out the window and it was raining. 

The thought of crawling back into bed sounded so good, but I also heard the invitation to stay up and listen.  I go to my sacred space…the time on the porch.


The rain falls steady.  No too hard.  Not just a sprinkle.  But it’s steady with hundreds of drips in harmony that whispers rest…that whispers peace…that whispers refuge.

There’s also the steady cry from a mourning dove.


Is it a cry from God I hear?

Does He mourn because His people have abandoned Him?  Is His heart broken because of the many idols we worship instead of Himself?

He created us to worship Him – just Him

But my idol is self…myself

The root of all sin.  What I want.  What I need.  It’s instinct.

I know He is a sovereign God and doesn’t need us. But he desires us.  He created people…His children… to love, to father, to be a close friend…a best friend.  To stroll with in the dawn and middle of and dusk of the day.  To linger.  To dwell.

He planted in the core of our hearts our deep desire to be loved…so we will depend on Him for all we need. 

God wants…He desire…..to bless us.

It’s still so hard to understand why He chose to bless me…with the comforts of a family who loves, a safe home, provisions beyond measure… and so easy to take for granted. And it’s not just me…it’s all of us who are blessed.  (Just for example, everyone reading this has a computer, iPad or other electronic device to read this blog!)

As I listened to the rain and sat silent, little did I know that later this day I would be the one who had water dripping down my face that whispered brokenness, whispered heart ache, whispered a mourning cry.

I read Ann Voskamp’s blog posted later today.  She and her son are in Haiti this week with Compassion International.  (Our family supports and loves a girl who lives in Mexico so I especially took an interest in this post.)

It’s a story about Jonathan.  (I recommend reading Jonathan’s story).

It hit me in the gut”, too.

But the same God who loves Jonathan, loves you and loves me. 

Jonathan’s stomach may be empty and his home a shack, but his heart is full of God’s love and truly has what it means to have hope through Christ.   That’s really all he has.

I have much…much materialism, many people who love me…many comforts.  But it’s so easy to fill my heart and mind with those things…not filling my heart with just Jesus.

Just Jesus.

Jonathan’s favorite story in the Bible is about Noah. 

It reminds me of the dove that brought Noah the branch to show him there is life.

Not a mourning dove…but a dove of hope…a dove of promise.



More blessings…

#672  the open ears and hearts our family had about Jonathan’s story

#673  where I am weak, God is strong

#674  the much needed rain

#675  being still and silent except for the sound of rain listening for His Voice.

#676  lollipops in jar at bank

#677  mayonnaise jar which holds the mayo to put on my first fresh-from-the-garden tomato sandwich

#678  jar of popcorn kernels to pour in the pot filled with sizzling oil

#679  two hours family game night

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rhyme and Reason


Our daughter surprisingly burst out saying this as she splashed on the seashore this spring,

When the waves come near I steer!”

But when they come closer I do not fear!”

Have you ever been to the beach and feel the sun warming your entire self…inside and out? 

There’s sand in-between your toes and stuck all over your legs, hands and arms.  There’s even grains of sand in the crevice of the book you’re reading.  And after a few hours, your hand kind of sticks to your leg because you’ve gotten uncomfortable hot and a little sticky.  That means it’s time to get in the water to cool off and ride a few waves!

I remember when I was young how our family went to the beach every summer for a week.  I’d get on a blow-up rectangular raft that was as long as I was long.  I’d just lie on the raft and slowly rock when a small wave rippled underneath. 

But it was usually in the late afternoon the waves would get higher and stronger as the tide rose.   The under tow would tug a little stronger.   I remember times when I’d be lying on that raft and see a wave coming and I think it’s just about to crest but it just keeps building higher and higher…growing bigger and bigger. 

I’m thinking…I’m praying…"Please don’t let this take me under!”

But then, right when the wave begins crashing at my feet, my fear is gone because I know….I know…  it’s going to be the best ride!

I ride all the way to the shore laughing, squealing and grinning ear to ear….a wild rush of joy!

There’s the anticipation of the unknown…bringing fear…and excitement.  It can become a joy rush that keeps growing.

#669  daughter’s wave rhyme

#670  rhythm of daily communion with Jesus

#671  it’s a gift for God to have a reason for everything

#671  our salvation is a reason to rejoice!

Assignments that creep or leap…and a fun summer baseball game

The hunt assignment is to look for gifts of challenge, conflict and change.

Whoa…when I’m in the middle of those things, it’s hard for me to consider those as gifts.

Conflict and change and even challenge are challenging.  So much to the point, a few years ago there was a time when all those things were going on in my life and I got shingles from it.  (You know I like to put photos on my posts, but I’ll spare you the one of my face and eye where the shingles were.  My husband said…with love of course…that I looked like a Klingon from Star Trek).  Studies say stress is one of the main causes of shingles.

I admit I get stressed when those “c” words creep… or even leap… into my life.

A few years ago there were several challenges and changes and even some conflicts going on in my life all at the same time.  All I could do was hang on.  Or better yet, maybe it was just the opportunity of having to let go of all of those challenges and let God make me, shape me and mold me more the way He wants me to be.

But that still doesn’t make it easy.  And I can be stubborn sometimes.

But God was patient with me (thankfully I was patient enough), and I quietly learned a lesson from this challenge as I recovered from shingles (which took several months).  It was a time for me to relinquish my worries and doubts and have a better understanding of what “trust in the Lord with all your heart” means. 

And God was right.   But I knew… He always is… but it’s hard to swallow that sometimes.  He can give us “assignments” to teach us.  We just need to try to do our best…because God does not give us any assignments… we can not handle. 

God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13

And the temptation was allowing challenge, conflict and change to be bigger than God. 

Recently I heard the teacher say at the church I attend… “God is bigger than every giant in our lives.”

So…yes, conflict and change are gifts.  They will always be a challenge but being able to see how God has used them in the past can help trust Him with the more to come.

Challenge, conflict and change…

#652  …gives the opportunity to let go and let God.

#653   …gives the opportunity to thank God for the conflict…and sometimes God wants us to practice that so we’ll get better at dealing with it!

#654  the gift of change, (of which I’m sometimes stubborn to accept), gives the opportunity to practice yielding…surrendering…relinquishing and giving in to my selfishness.

#655  the gift of unwanted change really can be really good.

#656  All of those gifts are opportunities for a divine appointment with the One who has an assignment for me.     (also what our teacher said at church)

#657  An assignment for me to desperately depend on Him, for me to trust Him more, for me to allow my “self” to become more “selfless”.

Divine assignments are gifts.


Still counting…

#658  celebrating my daughter’s last single-digit birthday


#659  celebrating my sister’s birthday

#660  trying out a new ice cream shop

#661  spending afternoon with my sister and her family

#662  the little rain shower we got after a 2 week drought with 100* heat

#663  a new sprinkler

#664  water to drink in the syrupy and sticky heat and sweat.

#665  a baseball game with church family and SM:FX (St. Marks Family Experience)


#666  daughter being bold…in front of a camera and in front of a stadium.


#667  little pink house of hope ministry







#668  our fearless SM:FX leaders!




(thanks for the photos from the game Laura Williams and Laurie Mundy!)