Singing and Clinging in the Shadows: Psalm 63:7-11

We finish today in safety and triumph! “Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. I cling to You. Your right hand upholds me…All who swear by God will glory in Him.”

It is good to embrace the imagery of God’s truths. I am so grateful when I encounter vivid images that God has abundantly sown in His relationships with people, and in His preserved Word. He has taken deliberate care to provide us with assistance in connecting with His divine nature.

Shadows are an interesting image. They can be either frightening, as they obscure the unwanted unknown, or they can be a place of hiding and safety. The shadowed place here, in which David sheltered is one of divine protection. David found comfort under the shadow of God’s wings. As he waited in the Judean Wilderness, surely it was difficult for this man of action, to be still. His “regular life” was on an enforced pause for a season. This can happen to anyone, at any time. Sometimes the seasons of pause are brief, and others seem unending. img_20200324_172919267

David’s response to his pausing has much to teach us. He speaks in this psalm of seeking God, and thirsting after Him. In this season, he blesses God and calls upon His name. He meditates on Him and the memories of His past provision. And he sings with JOY in the shadows!

We, too, are gathered under God’s wings—a place of Holy Shelter. Jesus is a gatherer, and He reaches out to us always.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Matthew 23:37-38

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37

Every gathering has a holy promise of spiritual protection, fulfillment, and holy rest.

David’s response in his desert wandering—as he pauses, as he rules, as he battles–is to cling to God. Cling. Stick with. Follow closely. While David’s specific trials likely don’t match our own, the feelings may, and the comfort does.

David closes out this psalm of praise with a rejoicing. He is confident in God’s divine character as provision of satisfaction, comfort, and protection.

We, too, can be confident of the same.

Today’s Ponderings

  • Are there other scriptures of God as the Protective Gatherer of His people that come to your mind? 
  • What are you singing today?

Be blessed in your paused seasons.

Posted in Deflecting the Weapon of Discouragement, Grief and Suffering, Hope, Spiritual Drought, Studies in Psalms, The Walk, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Satisfied: Psalm 63:5-6

“My soul is satisfied.” At the time of penning this heartfelt praise to God, David had long lived a life of abundance, moreso that we ever have, or will. Yet there were periods of time in his life that he was acutely aware that such blessings and privilege were not what provided him true protection, comfort, or satisfaction.

My soul is satisfied. 0423171510a

Satisfied. It is an interesting word. Its 21st century dictionary meaning is content, convinced (as in an argument), or completely paid (as in a bill).

I visualize David as these words of praise stir within him. Perhaps he was looking out over the brown, barren desert hills, filled with longing for home and peace within his family. Maybe he rose early, eager to meet with the LORD in prayer, hopeful that the dawn over the horizon of a new day would bring new grace, and resolution to his situation.

We’ve all been there, rising hopeful that this will be the day that change comes. Change in the course of disease. Healing in relationship. Relief from financial strain. Peace in parenting. Shift in souls.

My soul is satisfied. In Hebrew, saba’. Its meaning can include shades of abundance and excess, but it always means enough.

The RSV interprets this as feasted: “My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat, and my mouth praises Thee with joyful lips when I think of Thee…”

When David thinks of the LORD, he cannot help but sing joyfully, despite the joyless desert. He recognizes that his true self, the part that matters, is always blessed with the LORD’s great and promised abundance. David’s soul is fully convinced of, fully content with, God’s provision and unrelenting love. It is as a feast. Rich as he was, I can’t imagine David bringing along stores of food worthy of a feast as he flees Absalom. (It would be a little tough to carry, even with a myriad of helpers. And who has sufficient feast storage in a desert cave?) Yet feast he does–with the richest of “foods”.

When he thinks of God, when he meditates in the quiet of night, David feasts on the help that He has provided in times past. Did God not work through him to slay Goliath, to soothe the soul of Saul, and then to escape his jealous wrath? Did He not continue to pour out steadfast love despite his own horrific choices with Bathsheba and Uriah? Did He not provide wisdom, leadership, and victory in battle?
David’s memory, like ours, was laden with the goodness of God. Memories of such provision and wonder are easily packed and traveled with. They are untouched by the desert wilderness, ready for feasting at a moment’s notice.

Be blessed. I know you are. Enjoy the feast!

Today’s Pondering

My soul is satisfied. Can you say that today?

What is laid upon your “table”, where the steadfast, holy, unrelenting love of God is the centerpiece?

Do you have tangible reminders into which the rich, spiritual fat and marrow of God are tucked? What are they? I have plenty. Some are: shelves of family scrapbooks and photo albums; a glass framed etching of an audio file of precious church family singing “We love you with the love of the Lord!; a metal bucket hand painted with hydrangeas, and gifted to me in thanks by special women, that is now my gardening companion; a set of scrappily-handmade stuffed animals from my son that he made as gifts for Christmas.


Posted in Counting Joy, Gratitude, Grief and Suffering, Spiritual Drought, Studies in Psalms, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Unwavering Love: Psalm 63:3-4

We join David again this morning, in the Judean wilderness. It is a place of retreat, selected so because over time, it has been mostly uninhabited. (It was great for social distancing!)

When I think about David at this point in his life, many things run through my mind: He carries the baggage of his past—both huge mistakes with dire consequences, and great successes as a man, a soldier and king, faithful to God. His household is messy. How grievous it must have been to have your own son pursue you with hate in his heart. To survive, David is forced to abandon the privileged comforts of his home, the routines and benefits of leading a nation, and, I imagine, those closest to him (because who would drag their beloveds into desert caves while being pursued by family member with violence in their heart?).

For the time being he is stripped down to the bare essentials. In that, he never loses the companionship or care of the LORD.

As vastly different these circumstances are from our current situations, there are parallels with which we can identify, and from them draw strength.

At this particular writing, there is an enforced global desert. The world is responding to an enemy virus by retreating. We find ourselves disrupted and dislodged from our regular routines, lives, and fellowships. At any other time, we may find ourselves in the desert of barren relationships, unemployment, financial struggles, familial strain, church difficulties.

So what does God, through David, have to teach us? (especially in verses 1-6?)

When we are living in our own kind of desert, God’s steadfast lovingkindness remains. Those that endured some of the worst kind of situations were convinced of this Truth. Even Paul confidently claimed it:  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)

We can SEE God. Are you looking? The LORD is not contained by human parameters, nor limited to human form. His wonder, His power, His grace are all manifested daily in His creation: the rhythm of the seasons, the power of a storm, the unfurling of brilliant color, the uniqueness of each spring snowflake. He moves through people in loving gestures, words of guidance, strength of leadership. He reveals Himself in the endless cosmos filled with new things for us to discover. He raises up and dismantles power. He surprises us with solutions we never thought of, and satisfaction we could not have dreamed. 0308181518

God’s steadfast love, His lovingkindness, His CHACED, is better than the sum or parts of all we consider to be Life here on Earth. This word, chaced, troubles the translators. It has been difficult for them to narrow down all that chaced contains to one word. How does one describe the most important essence of God in His relationship with His people without speaking paragraphs? The best they can come up with has been lovingkindness or steadfast love. Contained in this word is all that is unique to God, and therefore worthy of our praise. It is the kind of love that refuses to let go. It is God’s determined faithfulness toward His children, despite their wandering minds and hearts.

“The word stands for the wonder of His unfailing love for the people of His choice, and the solving of the problem of the relation between His righteousness and His loving-kindness passes beyond human comprehension.” N.H. Snaith, Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament, London (1944).

This is so unique to God, we have no one word to accurately use that conveys the true meaning and its many layers.

I am going to cling to this now, as the lush greenness of non-virtual fellowship, freedom of casual mobility, and ease of hunting and gathering is disrupted. I am going to return here again and again when our 401K limps along pathetically as a casualty of pandemic. I am going to wrap my arms around this Truth in the future as I age and perhaps lose abilities, awareness, and independence. (I’ll need you all to help hold my arms in place!)

Our Response

Name one thing in nature that assured you of something in God’s character today. (His creativity, power, knowledge, faithfulness, etc.) Lift your heart up in praise to Him for this!

How did He show His presence in your life today, or this week, through a person?

Remind yourself of the times that God’s steadfast, unrelenting love was evident to you. (Would you perhaps share it with us here, to encourage us?)

Next time we get together here, get ready for a FEAST!

Be blessed today.

Posted in Grief and Suffering, Hope, Love, Spiritual Drought, Studies in Psalms, The Walk, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Thirsty Soul–Psalm 63:1,2

(This post is part of a new, short series. I am part of group that meets regularly to study God’s word, and our study of Psalms has been interrupted by the world’s pandemic. I am thankful for technology, and through it hope to inspire common “meeting” and discussion-virtual as it may be-over God’s word. )

Psalm 63   The author of this psalm is David, when he was in the Wilderness of Judah, while he was king, and quite likely when he was being chased down by Absalom his son.img_20190913_155001505

Charles Spurgeon put it so well: “David did not leave off singing because he was in the wilderness, neither did he in slovenly idleness go on repeating Psalms intended for other occasions; but he carefully made his worship suitable to his circumstances, and presented to his God a wilderness hymn when he was in the wilderness. There was no desert in his heart, though there was a desert around him. We too may expect to be cast into rough places ere we go hence. In such seasons, may the Eternal Comforter abide with us, and cause us to bless the Lord at all times, making even the solitary place to become a temple for Jehovah.” (Spurgeon, Treasury of David commentary, accessed at

In verse 1, translations phrase the praise of David’s heart differently. My soul THIRSTS for Thee (RSV)…EARNESTLY I seek You (NIV)…EARLY will I seek Thee (KJV). The Hebrew word is SHACHAR, which means to seek early or earnestly.

I love Spurgeon’s comment about carefully making worship match our circumstances. Our situations can be desert-like but our souls never have to wander in barrenness with unmet thirst.

Because of his desert circumstances, David makes a choice. Look at the progression of these first few verses: He states his position (You are my God!). He takes a reading on his soul (finding himself thirsty and earnestly seeking to satisfy this thirst, early in the day). Then he chooses where to start: (Here we are again, as in other psalms we’ve studied!) He focuses on God’s power, glory, and position.

Todays’ Pondering:

Consider your place in the current “desert”– removed from the greater fellowship, usual ministries, expected activities, and connections. How are you doing SHACAH?

How does God speak to you in these first two verses?

If your usual “water” is no longer accessible, how are you satisfying your thirst?What about the thirst of others?

Be blessed today as you earnestly seek to have your souls satisfied.


Posted in Grief and Suffering, Hope, Spiritual Drought, Studies in Psalms, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

When Life Gets Diverted Onto Bumpy Terrain

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

He IS the God of our hope. Matthew Henry said: “He is the foundation on which our hope is built, and He is the builder that doth Himself raise it: He is both the object of our hope, and the Author of it.” (Matthew Henry commentary, my caps)

As an educator, I, along with my peers, was trained to “begin with the end in mind.” If we had a clear picture of what was the specific outcome we had –the hope, the goal– for a student or class or the whole school, we could then start there and work backward to plan for all the incremental steps to encourage success. This deliberate focus on what we wanted the end result to be kept our path (mostly) straight, and helped us discern when to jettison previous practices and become masters at new ones. It encouraged focus that would not be shattered by any of the challenges we faced daily. img_20200304_090029438_hdr

As people of faith, we are called to a similar practice. We are called to begin our spiritual lives, even each day, each task, each moment, with the end in mind. And what a glorious End that is!

Yesterday I was pondering Paul’s encouragement to me, and the Christians in Colossae, to deliberately set our minds and hearts on what really defines our life here on Earth. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4 NIV)

How exciting and reassuring it is to be reminded, yet again, that what we have right in front of our faces is NOT the endgame! Our circumstances, world events, family drama, and political shenanigans don’t define our living. We have Life outside of these things. Look at the sweetness and richness of these verses. It is Christ, who is our life! Thank goodness, for His Goodness, and for this truth. He is far more dependable and appealing than anything else. How glorious the promises are that He is with us now and preparing a place for us in His presence in Heaven!  (My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? John 14:2 NIV)

The apostle Peter was so convinced and excited about this, that once he dispensed with the required formal introduction to open his letter to the Christians scattered in Roman provinces, he got straight to the heart of the matter: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV) I can envision Peter shouting this out to Silvanus his scribe, and to God Himself, as he dictated this passionate encouragement! Imagine their faces. (I see grins from ear to ear, and lots of joyful embracing and backslapping!) Times were tough for those sweet brethren of ours. They, too, lived in a pagan and hostile society. But God, through Peter, wants to remind us of the peace and joy there is in Him.

What other Bible truths have given you HOPE today? img_20200304_085912679

Our Greek word for today is ELPIS (el-pece’). HOPE. Expectation. Interestingly enough, that word can be used to mean both expectation of evil or fear, and in the Christian sense, joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation.

Take your inner emotional/spiritual temperature sometime today. Which one is it for you--expectation of evil or fear, or joyful and confident expectation in your salvation? If it was fear or evil, and you overcame it, what deliberate action did the Spirit lead you to take, to be victorious in that moment? (Please share. We have a lot to learn from you!) If you are struggling with this, how can we pray for you?

What do you think God is saying to you, specifically, in these verses?:  1 Peter 1:7-9

As always, be blessed today, Dear Ones.

Posted in Counting Joy, Deflecting the Weapon of Discouragement, Grief and Suffering, Hope, Spiritual Transformation, The Walk, Trials, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Readjusting Our Grip

These are strange times. It is so easy to let the anxiety of the unknown, and the uncertainty of best practices and our future, loosen our confidence. It is easy to slip into the spirit of finger pointing, irritation, and distrustful doomsaying. We are called away from such a spirit, toward the Spirit we have been given, that stands alongside us. Within us.

The mind has always required a deliberate grip to steer it. Without conscious guidance, it is a bit like a brilliant, hyperactive child—responding to stimulus reactively, and often excessively, without the benefit of gathering the wisdom from experience and inner strength it possesses.

Intentionally, we must place filters on our minds as we take in information. Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15). Invite it to rule. Allow it to rule. Accept it as the holy and mysterious gift it is.

We can be at peace, knowing that above all created things, our LORD has sovereignty. He is in control. img_20200123_174453022

We can at peace, knowing that He is faithful in all of His promises, as He has shown over and over again.

We can be confident, that even amid what is difficult, exhausting, and unknown, He has a plan that shepherds humanity toward Him and ultimate Rest in His Presence.

With that in mind, over my mind, I am thankful.

I am thankful that our global population is, for a large part, not isolated as in times past. There is sharing of information, practices, and resources. Technology and other advances have made this possible. Warnings and proactive responses, while not perfect, are possible.

I am thankful for the tirelessly giving souls in the medical field, political leadership, military, police, and other safety support groups. They are learning as they go, and we are called to extend them grace for missteps, and pray for their wisdom.

I am thankful for corporations, management, distribution workers, and store clerks in the supply chain that respond to the wave of demand with patience and care.

I pray for those that have loved ones that are vulnerable to viruses—for their protection and comfort.

I pray for the millions worldwide that will suffer economic hardship in order to protect their communities—for those that depend on group gatherings to pay their bills, the cooks, the wait staff, the event planners, the retail clerks, the production employees, the airline workers…

I pray for the nursing home staffs that will dispense love and care in our absence to our older and infirmed.

I pray for the epidemiologists that research and advise, that their knowledge and understanding increase.

I pray for the international community, that it will be kind, be patient, and be selfless in every trial.

And I am thankful for this opportunity for the world to pull together instead of apart.

Posted in Deflecting the Weapon of Discouragement, Grief and Suffering, Prayer, The Walk, Trials, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Understood…and Held

Today I am meeting God in His word, and He is engraving Himself upon my soul. I am passionately overwhelmed and excited by the Truth He brings in His word, that we share much of His heart. Deep down, you and I share the stamp of His image upon our soul.

Have you ever pondered the heart of God? Have you ever wondered how, with our impossible imperfections, we can be created in His image? How is it possible that we are like God–similar to the One who is so much bigger and holier than us?

To me, it is usually quite apparent how different I am from Him. There are ways we are not like Him at all, and the grace of His Son and His love covers those gaps. However, being created in His image is a Truth we can count on. We are aligned by His grace to the very heart of the LORD. Like with like. Me. You. Him. In some ways, we are so much the same.

The other day, I had mined the news headlines, perused my newsfeed with my usual down-arrow-held skimming, and held prayer requests texted and e-mailed in my heart. I became a little overwhelmed with grief on behalf of others, whose lives held unexpected and unwanted sorrow.

In general, I have a spirit that is positive, aware of the joy that surrounds me—tiny WP_20160804_005successes in nature and living that cry out God’s holiness and victory over the world’s soiled existence. But some days, I am pressed with reminders that at the exact same moment I am experiencing the joyful gratitude of God’s Yeses to my prayers, others are crushed with frustration or despair, or sudden mourning. I scan headlines or prayer lists, or read a blog from the trenches of suffering, and my heart breaks. I see their hurt, or can imagine their mourning, or wonder at the depth of sadness they must feel that I have never experienced. It’s a helpless feeling. The only possible role for me here is to offer broken-hearted prayer, and in this, join them in mourning and hope-seeking.

From this place, as I drew close to God, He prompted me to seek His heart a little more. To understand Him even better. To increasingly love and trust Him.

Don’t we all have corners inside our hearts that beat slow and heavy, laden with the


agony of disappointment and grief?  Like you, in places, my heart is quite wrecked. For me, there is a corner that is darkened with the sorrow of loved ones living away from the grace of God, with sadness for a mom whose brain is just plain worn out and doesn’t think straight, and a long list of beloved friends who struggle. I ache for the damage in the world.

Do you ever have a heart that bows in sorrow? Have you ever grieved over the wreck someone else made of something you valued? Long ago, it may have been a piece of crayoned artwork, given with sticky, but love-intended hands that was found later, tossed underfoot. What you had hoped, and believed, was that it warranted the tender acceptance and care of a Rembrandt.

Has something precious to you become broken by the carelessness of others? Perhaps a relationship you invested in deeply has been upended, or your children have hit a snag that most definitely wasn’t part of your parenting plan.

I believe that in this way, when we suffer grief of the undesired that is an unwelcome guest to our plans, we are united with God’s heart, and bear His image.

One spring, during the early stages of our marriage, my handyman husband, intent on major renovations of the house we hoped to flip, trampled on my heart just a little bit. This was before flipping real estate was trendy, just before the market tanked and our house became a money pit (which is a cautionary tale and journey for another day). It was also at the point in our relationship that he hadn’t a clue about how hard-wired my heart is into needing nature and beautiful places. I say this to let you know my wonderful partner did not upset me intentionally. This was one of those accidental, we-are-wired-so-differently kind of steps in the marital adventure. However, the wound felt shocking and my heart grieved.

On the side of our driveway, over the edge of the dilapidated stone wall, lay a beautiful ground cover of periwinkle. Well, actually, it was just a long area of low, green plants that had yet to bloom. But I knew their potential. In the spring, for a short season, sweet violet-colored flowers would blossom in the bed, brightening up what was otherwise a non-descript area of bramble.

I came home from work one day, to discover my guy had made great progress in scraping off the layers of paint on the house siding. Hurrah for him! (That’s genuine, by the way. He truly is an impressive workhorse.) At some point, probably days later, I discovered he had dumped all the paint chips just over the little stone wall, on top of the myrtle bed. If you garden, you’ll get my reaction. If you don’t, just roll your eyes and skip down a few paragraphs. I’ll understand (but I won’t let you near my flower beds.)  Upon viewing the periwinkle, suffocating underneath a layer of non-biodegradable (and probably lead-laden) paint chips, crying out for mercy, my heart broke. I knew what this carpet of ground-covering could become. I was looking forward to its unfurling. More importantly, I valued its beauty. Distraught, I began to imagine picking out individual paint chips for hours during the rescue, in order to reclaim the beauty. I imagined the poison of paint leaching down into the soil as a forever-heritage.

The point of all this is not to garner sympathy for my Crazy Gardener heart. In a world of social and spiritual strife, this event is small and unimportant. When I remember that moment, though, I am in touch with the holy image-sharing soul God placed in me, in each of us. The point is, I valued something. I saw its potential. I eagerly anticipated its fullness. Even if no one else would view the myrtle bed in the same way, its damage cut me, for no other reason than I deemed it precious. To me, that unkempt, non-descript area of wild was important. The fact that my husband (and probably most of you) would never see its importance, did not lessen the impact its destruction had on me.

Such a trivial example of a wonderful, greater truth.

   Is this not like our LORD and Father? He sees value in His creation. He sees potential in His work. He deems every human as precious. He eagerly anticipates the unfurling of His plans. No one else views His beloved in quite the same way. He grieves when something wounds what He loves. Who He loves. Even as He sees the train wreck happening.

Isn’t it exciting, and well, a huge relief that our holy LORD shares this ache of our hearts? When words fail, He is already there, like-hearted. Understanding.

God is the LORD of all. He gets to place value on what and who He chooses.  He says that Mankind, all of His creation, is very good. (Genesis 1:31)


  The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.  The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. Genesis 1:5,6

In the RSV, it says: “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart.”

Jesus wept over Jerusalem. There is a great example of grievous disappointment in potential unachieved.

  In our sorrows, whether small and short-lived, important only to us or life-changing, our hearts cry out for understanding and comfort. The wonderful truth is, we can trust that the LORD is exactly who we need to provide that–more than an earthly friend, or spouse, even. While no one else can walk in our footsteps, and get inside our grieving hearts, He can. When we don’t have the words to articulate how we feel for an empathic listener, or even to Him, He grasps them from our heart. He understands when our plans are wrecked. His own plans have received near-fatal wounds and intentions have been bent and misshapen. When our dreams are broken or trodden upon, His Holy Spirit searches our hearts (Romans 8:27) and intercedes with holy, comforting, understanding companionship. Sometimes we don’t need “fixing” in our sorrow, but what we crave is to be held in good company, and understood. He who knew us first, even before we were born is the Perfect One to provide what we need.

What about you? What are you grieving over? What do you value that’s been torn in two? Maybe a friendship, a marriage? Is it the health of a loved one, or yourself? The dementia-confused mind of a parent? Perhaps it’s a project or act of service you spent hours planning that imploded upon execution, or worse yet, didn’t meet your expectations? Maybe it’s been carefully orchestrated family gatherings or holidays? A career? Dreams for your child? Dreams of a child? Maybe this season of your life is totally not what you anticipated, or hoped, and your heart is broken over the loss.

  “Shout for joy, you heavens;1001170729
    rejoice, you earth;
    burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted ones” Isaiah 49:13

Today, SHOUT FOR JOY with me! In your grief, may your heart burst into song because the LORD shares your heart. It is He who can completely understand you and walk with you.

Be blessed, my friends. He is ours.

Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:4

    Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Hebrew 2:17

  And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:27

  I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Posted in Deflecting the Weapon of Discouragement, Grief and Suffering, Jesus, The Walk, Trials, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Forgetting…and Remembering

Today the whispers of memory are cloaking my heart. As I release tangible things to other people by donating, toss others into the trash, and prepare my home for new owners and memory-makers, there is a reluctance and sadness hovering.

It’s less difficult to unclench my heart’s fingers from the actual items, than the memories they hold. I am urgently trying to collect all the Last Times—the last time hosting anyone’s sleepy heads in our bedrooms, the last time clanging the pots and pans around and rolling out the dough for guests in the kitchen that has rung with those happy sounds for 30 years…the last time loving and laughing around the family table on the screen porch, the last time skimming my fingers along the ivories of the piano, the last time hearing that creak of the rocker as Scott puts on his shoes…sigh…

Today I am just letting myself feel it. Being grateful for it. Checking the memories’ engraving on my heart. 101_0742

When you have one parent whose mind succumbed to the memory-robbing disease of Alzheimer’s, and another whose last years are being spent with only fragments of recollection and a great deal of dementia-clouded confusion, it makes those soul-fingers want to feverishly grip all the things that are connected to memory, as if those tangible objects are the memories’ containers, rather than the heart and mind.

What I’ve come to realize is that I am afraid of forgetting–forgetting why I am who I am, and how I’ve become. Forgetting what are all the sweet (and bitter) drops that have been the kneading of the Potter’s hands. All those small moments and large ones that are the foundation for maintaining who I am, the relationships I’ve built, and the support for going forward.

I ask God to help me remember.

It has me thinking of how precious God’s Reminders are…Nature cries out a reminder of His glory, displayed in creative artistry beyond human ability to replicate, though we try in paint, in cloth, in photography. Ocean’s rhythmic slapping against the shore and moonlit nights remind us of His steadfastness. The cycle of seasons reminds us of His faithfulness, and His timing. The joy-filled, struggles-laden life of children and families remind us of His grace and love—His shaping of our journeys for our benefit. His preserved Words remind of the work He has done, and does, deep into the hearts of His people, and all humanity over oceans of time.

This fear I have has me wandering over His word, looking for reassurance. Remembering is important to our heavenly Father! Over and over again He calls us to remember His faithfulness.

Sometimes it is something physical that reminds us of what has shaped us. Once hearts had been returned to God and His people had been rescued once again by Him, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel  7:12

Without making every object my personal Ebenezer, or giving the objects themselves power, I am reassured that it is okay to select a few to remind me of God’s blessings on this life journey so far. (“A few” is the one of the hardest parts…)

What provision God lavishes on us, in sending us Reminders! We all have them, though maybe not all of them, but we are all graced with some: preachers who tirelessly sift through God’s words and remind us of the Promise-keeper God is…mothers and fathers who remind us of the value they’ve never doubted is there in our hearts, even when buried under layers of callous…friends who cover us with giggles or drape us with loving arms, and help us see past Satan’s barriers of doubt and negativity.

The Holy Spirit is our greatest Keeper of Memories, and most important Truths.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:26-27

Peter was a Reminder. He knew hearts would falter. God knew, and graced him with words of encouragement that would endure, and keep those hearts supported. In relationship, it was he who was the Ebenezer.

“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.  I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” 2 Peter 1:12

These sweet words calm my heart and call me to ask God to help me to remember. They also exhort me to BE a Reminder to others. I am called to be one who speaks joy, encouragement, and a calling to mind of how I see God has worked and is working in the lives of others. When there are things too difficult to explain (who, after all, knows the mind of God?), I can be the Ebenezer that reassures that God is faithful, even in fearful and despairing circumstances. Going forward, I have new energy to make every effort to help others remember God’s faithfulness in His promises, the evidences of His work, the hope in His love.

So, grab a stone or two (or a faded photo or chipped plate) and remember the blessings. Then, stand tall and help others gather theirs. Ask yourself, “Am I a Reminder?” 101_0743

Be blessed. Be a blessing. (And, if you would, help me when I forget, and help me unclench, and instead open my fingers to God’s remembrances…)

Posted in Deflecting the Weapon of Discouragement, Gratitude, Memorial Day, One Another, Spiritual Transformation, The Walk, Trials, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Starting Small

In the midst of packing and purging our home, and trying to create the illusion of perpetual tidiness for the next set of dwellers, I find myself staring at my spice cabinet. Well, actually, it’s more like a spice shelf, crowded and totally inefficient. There are no alphabetized rows here, just “most-used in front”, “less-used” in the middle, and “those purchased for some exotic recipe I never actually made” in the back. Also in the back are those wildly outdated containers that used to come with purchased spice racks, pre-filled with recipe ingredients that the average cook will never need. At one point, I threw most of them out. However, I did keep the one labeled “Mustard Seed.” Not for cooking purposes, because, seriously, when was the last time anyone actually cooked with mustard seed? If you know the Word of God, you know why I kept that 1980s bottle filled to the brim with tiny seeds…as a reminder of small things. Small things which lead to big things. 

In Isaiah 58:6,7 when God speaks of sacrifice, He speaks of unyoking the bonds of oppression and feeding the hungry.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (NIV)

… and then becoming like a watered garden.

“The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.” (NIV)

Those seem like really Big Things to me.

It seems like a lot to tackle the Big Things.

Here’s what that expired bottle of seed reminds me: Jesus says that Starting Small is our job, and Growing Big is His. 101_0745

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31,32 (NIV)

Ann Voskamp began a new chapter of her own journey tossing a whole day full of small things upon her hometown without knowing where it would lead. “…this birthday spent gift-blitzing the whole town seemed ridiculously small and insignificant. Beginnings always are, I suppose. First steps always seem like not enough, but they are the bravest and they start the journey to where you’re meant to go. It takes great trust to believe in the smallness of beginnings.” The Broken Way, p. 75, Zondervan 2016

Now that has me thinking of the mustard seed beginning, the smallest acts of faith, through which God’s mighty Spirit broke through and grew His whole Church. His whole Church. That is bigger than any disciple could have possibly envisioned– before steamships transported crowds from continent to continent, before they even knew of the other lands so far away! Huge.

Here I am, tucked way over in a tiny New England state of an enormous country, an ocean away from the place upon which there was a plot of soul-soil planted with the tiniest of seeds. The mightiest of seeds. Of faith. And grace. I am part of that “Whole Church!” Isn’t that astounding?!

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

So small.

Somedays I feel so small. Each act seems so small. In God’s eyes, in His hands, small is His beginning of something Big. 101_0748

Today I did a reflective check to look for my So Small that God could grow into His Big. Strawberry picking with a young woman. Praying over a broken family. Writing scripture for vacation Bible school signs. Removing mounds of sodden trash out of the driveway of a weary and overwhelmed family. Giving my extra pots and pans away.

Maybe those so small mustard seeds will grow into something big. Our human desire to have impact in a big way can cause us to overlook the thousands of small ways God would have us join Him in His work. If we’re not careful, we will miss it all, and strangle His holy potential lived through us. If we focus on trying to be, or find, a large branch of His plan, we will miss the seed where it all begins.

Here’s to the casting out of our small seeds!

Posted in Sharing Jesus, Spiritual Transformation, The Walk, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Creating Space and Picking Up the Threads

When you neglect a muscle for so long, not only is it difficult to reawaken it, the work is harder, the doubt is deeper, the commitment is harder to muster.

There have been matters both of passion and calling that I have laid aside over the years, largely due to an ever-demanding schedule on the limited minutes granted in each day, and a lack of conviction that their season should continue. 101_0726

Do you ever find yourself longing to rekindle something? To pick up where you left off, to move forward in a direction or dream whose timing seemed “off” or forced long ago? Maybe it was an interest you felt flickering. Maybe it was a healthy habit that you felt your body calling you to practice. Maybe it was a ministry or relationship or life-changing position.

In all that we choose to invite into our lives, it can be difficult to discern what has holy purposes, and what are selfish ambitions or satisfactions. What needs to be picked up, what needs to be laid down. This has been my struggle.

What I have discovered, over time, or perhaps been lovingly nudged to realize, deep down in the spiritual places where God works silently and powerfully, is that you often have to deliberately create space in your life so you can receive God’s best work and guidance, and discern the holy picking up and laying down. Otherwise, He is left to call loudly over the clamor of other demands and interests, and compete with either their allure, or their entrapment.

God does not always choose to shout, however.

Sometimes, He just waits. Sometimes He pauses a season and then weaves it back in when His timing is ripe. He waits for us to make room. To desire to make room.

The challenge for me, for us as His children, is to discern which threads to take back up again. Which are from His hand, and which are left from a season that is over, or one that He intends should remain paused?

I take God very seriously when He encourages us through Paul to “whatever (we) do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through Him.” Colossians 3:17


“…there are different kinds of working, but in all of them, and in everyone, it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:6,7

Do everything. With whatever He gives you.

So, alrighty then. (Deep breath. Fluttering heart.)

Here I am, finally, after a very long pause, and after having deliberately created an enormous space in which I have determined will be a place of listening and following God’s sovereign lead. There is a longing that won’t quit.There are words that keep spilling out. Words written. Words spoken. There is, also, a desire that both the longing and the words will be shaped by the LORD into something beautiful of His design, for His purposes. For the common good. For building up. For leading a life worthy of His calling.

That’s what He keeps giving me, so in the yawning space that retirement and relocation will create, I’ll pick up these threads He’s handed to me and see where He leads. Together with my life partner, I have cleared room so I can actually see the threads and follow them.

What about you? Have you created space yet? No, I am not advising you to pull the plug on your income and move across country, severing proximity to much that is comfortable and valued! (I know, we’re crazy over here in this household! It’s a journey of trust and faith we have joined.)
But…is there something that needs unplugging or uprooting or laid down in your life so you can receive God’s guidance and be attentive to His nudging? What about this week, or this day? Is there a passion with hidden holy purposes God is waiting for you to discover (or rediscover) with His help?

Keep me posted. It’s good to have company on this journey.


Things to bring to your own Farmer’s Porch Sit with our LORD:

Lest I leave you with an uncertainty about passions and gifts that have no obvious link to an observable giving of glory to God, let’s ponder something together for a minute. I certainly need wrestle with this.

What about art for art’s sake? Or music for the sheer joy? Or the hiking of tall peaks? Or gathering of history? Or the developing of athletic prowess? The click of a camera? Or dirty hands covered with the earth’s rich soil? Or the magical deliciousness that comes from exploring the melding of varied flavors as we cook? Or… you name whatever it is that tugs at your heart.

We cannot spend any time in God’s word without seeing what are expressions of His sovereign character. In Him there is joy…creativity…passion..strength. He IS these things, and their Creator. The wonderful truth is, we are made in His image, which includes these traits, to reflect His glory. Can it not be true then, that in all things that are true and right and beautiful, we can be used to shout out His name to a broken world, or whisper it into its hurting corners? Used wisely, they are merely the ways in which His character is known. Sometimes these beautiful opportunities build us up and draw our hearts closer to Him, if we seek to discern their holy purpose.


“I…beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called…eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…and his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4

Blessings on your journey, today and always. Thanks for coming to the porch.


Posted in One Another, Spiritual Transformation, The Walk, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments