My great friend Marlae challenged me some time ago to commit to a consistent DAWG day. She did this as counsel for my consistent need for spiritual encouragement. You see, Marlae is one of a handful of women that I know that I consider wise beyond their years, especially when it comes to matters of spiritual growth and balance in life.

This “Day Alone With God” has still not become a regular outing for me. Usually it is more like a MAWG day (Morning Alone…) than a DAWG day, but I often recall Marlae’s voice in my head saying, “start with what you can do.” So, today, with the advent of a convenient Christmas office closure and a nagging urge to walk into a new year with a renewed relationship with Who matters most, I’ve been reading and writing, praying and crying at my local thinking spot (where they also serve a great latte!).

It’s more difficult than I thought it would be – trying to focus on just this one thing. I did turn my cell phone off and vowed to only use the computer/internet to write, but I am invariably more distracted than I want to be. It’s not the hubub of the coffee shop at all. It’s the urge to DO. I can focus for about 2 hours and then, sure enough, here comes “the to-do list” again!

I’m hoping this blog post will allow me to reset through expression of the frustration. The morning brought some amazing insights from Job. Here are just a few thoughts and verses that I ended up journaling about:

  • Trials are an opportunity to turn to God for strength.
  • Doubt is one of Satan’s footholds in my life.
  • Job 28:28 – “The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is understanding.”
  • Job 29:16 – “And now my life seeps away. Depression haunts my days. At night my bones are filled with pain, which gnaws at me relentlessly.”
  • Job 42:2 – “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.”

Okay, back to the Book.

About every 6-8 weeks me and hubby make a “Costco run.” Conviently, there’s a nice store not far from our church so this errand is usually taken care of on a Sunday afternoon. Today was the day. The only difference between this time and the many other trips we’ve made is that today we went to a friend’s home for lunch beforehand, delaying our usual Costco time by a couple hours.

One of the great things about shopping at Costco are the wonderful “sample stands” setup at the end of many of the aisles. They are manned by pleasant senior citizens (almost always) who offer you a tasty sample of one of the products they sell. Children flock to these carts begging for parent’s permission to partake. And I just know there’s a whole group of folks who intentionally skip lunch so they can walk around and scoop up samples!

Today, though, I noticed something more. Sample recipients quickly became “zombies” as they reveled the taste of each bite-sized freebie. They would stop in the middle of the aisle completely unaware of anyone around them who may be waiting. Then if and when they decided to move, their feet would just drag along the ground, barely making any progress.

I’m not exactly sure what was going on. Did someone come through and secretly drop “zombie juice” into each little sample as a halloween prank? Or is it because our precious Broncos didn’t have a game today and folks had nothing else to do?

Whatever the reason, it pretty much droze me nuts.

Have you ever noticed that when God wants you to get something, really “get it”, He continually spells it out in front of you? The last couple of weeks have been that way for me.

It started when I picked back up reading Secrets of the Vine by Wilkinson. Learning about how God “prunes” us is certainly interesting and I became increasingly intrigued by the idea. So, I began looking up verses that were referenced and studying the notes in my application Bible.

Then it started. I became acutely aware of how I was responding to adverse circumstances. Even though nothing joltingly remarkable happened, there was plenty of pain to attract my focus. Now, a couple of really crappy days and a few bad decisions later, I am realizing that God has been doing “His thing” in my life all along!

I am praying that I can truly get it now and do better. And I am encouraged by the words of Paul in Philippians 3:13-14:

…but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I want to focus on that ONE THING! My heart’s desire is to join author John Piper when he writes:

Lord, let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am.

I know God will continue to prune as He sees fit. My only hope is that I can respond by focusing on the prize…

Over the last couple of weeks I had some extended time to devote to reading and studying:

  • In the waiting room while receiving the MOHS procedure for skin cancer on my face (they remove, test, remove more, etc. – takes awhile).
  • A six day camping trip to New Mexico with Rick.

My friend/co-laborer/pastor, Greg Stier, was kind enough to give me a bundle of reading materials to enjoy. The stack included a devotional from Spurgeon, a tiny little book by Bruce Wilkinson, and an old paperback written by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor about their dad, Hudson Taylor.

I started with the tiny book, Secrets of the Vine, by Wilkinson. I quickly learned that the author has some amazing insights regarding my perspective on abiding in Christ. But I was destracted by his writing style to the point of almost giving up on the little thing 2/3 of the way through. So I stopped reading and picked up the paperback about Hudson Taylor.

Before now, I really didn’t know anything about this great man. Greg recommended reading just Chapter 14, but once I started in it gripped me so much I had to go back and read more in the earlier pages. What an amazing and sacrificial life this man (and his family) led!  Yet, he struggled with faith and an abundant life. He tried and toiled to “abide”, but yet couldn’t find the secret. His fundamental believe was that “holiness, practical holiness, was to be gradually attained by a diligent use of the means of grace.” Finally, he began to wonder if “perhaps to make heaven sweeter-God would not give it down here.” He continues to explain that he felt assured that there was in Christ all he needed, but he couldn’t practically figure out how to get it out. As I read, I really resonated with his struggle – something I have never been able to fully understand.

But God gradually revealed it to him. He realized that to strengthen faith one need not strive after faith, but rest on the Faithful One. The sentence jumped off the old, yellowed page maybe as boldly as it did to him as he revealed it. He continues to explain that Christ promises to abide in us, meaning He will never leave us. For all our struggles, He will abide. He will never fail.

As he spoke about the vine and the branches he realized that it was foolish to try to get the fullness out of Christ. We are one with Christ. He cannot be rich and us poor, no more than “your head could well fed while your body starves.”

This statement says it all;

Do not let us consider Him as far off, when God has made us one with Him, members of His very body.

What wonderful truth revealed in this old book through an exact duplication of a personal letter to Hudson Taylor’s sister about his remarkable discovery.

So I picked up Wilkinson’s little book again to give it another shot. I am overlooking my feelings about his writing style and picking up on some great advice regarding the difference between discipline and “pruning.” I am looking forward to thinking and praying and continuing to grow as I learn more and more about Spiritual Secrets.

Yesterday my family came together to say goodbye to our beloved Granny. But instead of a traditional memorial service, Granny specifically requested a picnic in the park. She took the time to write down the details of this day before she left us. A casual gathering, a couple of songs, the release of helium-filled red balloons. I’m not sure why she wanted to be remembered this way, I never talked to her about it. But my guess would be that she didn’t want a big fuss, she just wanted everyone together and for everyone to get along with each other.

Granny treasured times with family. I remember her being the happiest when she was with the whole crew. Even in her later years, she seemed to enjoy watching the little ones running around playing just as much as being involved in the adult conversation. When I was younger her Christmas Eve party was something I looked forward to all year. She would rent a big clubhouse so there would be room for all the cousins. Santa would personally deliver our gifts and there was an endless supply of food.

I still can’t believe she’s gone. For some reason, I really expected her to outlive me. Up until the past couple of years, she was extremely active and healthy. She never was what anyone would consider a typical American grandma. She wasn’t a gray-haired, apron-clad woman who baked cookies. No, she was a beautiful professional woman – undeniably classy and unashamedly independent. And whether she was going to a 4 year old’s birthday party or out for a night on the town – she always looked good. As a young girl I remember bragging to my friends, I wanted to be just like her.

Before I became a teenager she would take me on special excursions. We’d shop for hours and hours and then she would treat me to a meal at a fancy restaurant. I would stay the night in her high rise apartment. She would talk to me about the way a lady should act. She would tell me I was beautiful and full of potential. I always felt grown up and sophisticated. These were some of my fondest memories.

So here we were, all of us a part of a family that she in fact began. Memories filled the air as we compared stories and shared fried chicken. Tucked away back in a little neighborhood park. She would have loved the atmosphere. Kids laughed and played in the playground, the teenagers enjoyed volleyball and the men competed at horseshoes.

Then the mood changed slightly as we each took a red balloon and stood in a circle out in the grass. An Irish bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace played loudly in the background and then the balloons were simultaneously released into the air. I couldn’t hold back the tears. It was a bittersweet goodbye.

I will see you again soon my sweet Granny. Someday soon.

Just over two weeks ago Granny suffered a severe stroke and heart attack which led to a decision for her to be placed in hospice. I will never forget that day. We all knew that the decision for hospice was what she wanted, she made that very clear. But it certainly didn’t make it any easier on any of us.

It was a blessing to be able to spend some time alone with her before she was moved from her hospital room to the hospice unit. I decided to ask her if she knew what would happen when she died. It wasn’t like this was new territory for a conversation between Granny and me. We had talked about her diverse “religious” upbringing many times. She would laugh about how many times she had been “saved”, walked an aisle, or been baptized as she and her mom traveled from home to home when she was young. But here, in this hospital room, I was asking point blank. “Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins Granny?” She shook her head yes. “Do you know for sure that you will go to heaven when you die?” She nodded again. “Do you want to hear about what heaven is going to be like?” She shook her head no and put up her hand. Apparently, she didn’t want to hear anymore about it. So I prayed. I prayed out loud and boldly. And she held my hand tightly.

Over the next six days family members would be in and out of her room. She could hear us but her responses grew weaker and weaker as the days passed. We would pray and cry. We would read to her and play music for her. I read the entire book of John to her when we were alone together. And with many others in the room, I read about heaven.

I was asked many times if I thought she would be in heaven. As sincerely as I could, I would answer that there was no way to know for sure. But I have faith that I will see her again. I have faith that Granny understood who Jesus was and why He came and accepted it as her only way to eternal life. My prayer is that every person in my family will also make this decision. I know Granny would want us all together again.

Last weekend I was pulling out of the garage and wasn’t paying attention. I ran right into our Jeep which was parked in the driveway right behind me! As I go out to assess the damage, I was furious with myself. Rick was on a fishing trip and I was (once again) trying to pack twenty things into only a couple of hours. I was preoccupied and distracted. Thankfully, the damage wasn’t too bad to my Miata and the Jeep didn’t have a scratch. But it didn’t help the way I felt.

I decided to put aside “the list” of to-do’s and head to the coffee shop to spend some time in the Word. I sat there for two hours – sipping coffee – reading and journaling.

I have been studying 1 Peter. And as I poured over the first two chapters again, God lifted one small word off the page for me. SO. It amazed me how many times it showed up just in those few short passages. I felt as though if I could only focus on what followed that one small word, maybe I would be able to take small steps toward getting my focus back where it should be. I spent some time and wrote these down SO I wouldn’t forget:


  • be truly glad.
  • think clearly and exercise self control.
  • live as God’s obedient children.
  • live in reverent fear of Him.
  • show sincere love to each other as brothers & sisters.
  • get rid of all evil behavior.

My prayer these next few weeks is that I can just start with these few things SO I can focus my eyes more clearly on what matters most.

Ten years. A decade. It seems like a long time in a lot of ways. But really, it’s not. Time goes by so fast, especially when I stop and think about it. Over the last couple of weeks I have been thinking about it more than usual.

Tomorrow marks an unusual “anniversary.” Ten years ago tomorrow at 11:21 two young boys decided to act on a premeditated plan of violence and hatred. And it changed my life.

It was a nice Spring Colorado day. Business as usual. I was at the office with a handful of other D2S staffers when someone heard the news. Greg was out of the office meeting with some youth pastors at the time and so those of us back in the office scrambled to make sure he had heard and they were praying. The phones began to ring as friends began to process what was going on just a few miles away. All we knew to do was to pray and get others to pray.

Those of us with kids in school (my son was a freshman in high school at the time) wrestled with feelings of fear and panic. Should we go get our kids? As parents we wanted to control the situation by gathering our families and going home to lock out the world. I remember wondering about the “why” behind these boy’s behavior. What could have driven two middle class suburban teenagers to such a desperate place? How could this have happened?

Hours later I was in the parking lot to pick up my son. “Did you hear?” I asked. “Of course, mom,” he answered. “Are you okay? Are you scared?” I was terrified but didn’t want him to see it. “Yeah, a little bit.” He was at an age where conversations were more short than sweet.

It’s amazing to me how quickly I can recall the emotions of that day even after ten years have passed. Once I knew my son was safe I began to think about the hundreds of teenagers that D2S had been able to reach up til then. We needed to reach more! These kids need hope. They need purpose.

My prayer was (and still is) that God will use this small army of D2S teenagers to reach their own generation! I have no idea what else it’s going to take to make this happen, but He does. I just keep asking Him for wisdom. Help me. Help us. Lord, please don’t let this happen again.

Please pray with me this week that the memory of this horrible massacre will burden the hearts of teenagers to reach out to every teen around them (inside or outside of their “circle”) with the good news of Jesus Christ. Pray also for love, encouragement, and support for them from the adults who surround them.

I had a great talk with Jane last week. Remember Jane? She is my good friend and fellow Dare 2 Share co-laborer who is now dealing with a second cancer diagnosis after just recently recovering from breast cancer a little over a year ago.

Jane is 30% through her chemo treatments. 2 down, 4 to go. We had a minute in the midst of the busy work day for me to ask how she was doing. How she was REALLY doing. She sat down and calmly explained to me that while it has been hard (and especially difficult on her children), God has given her just enough grace and mercy that she needs at any given moment. We joked about how it could be illustrated like a video game – you jump and sure enough here comes a platform to land on – just in time!

Sure enough. That’s how He rolls. “Come to me,” He says. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, today has it’s own problems,” He reminds us.

Last week Rick’s company was sold. It certainly didn’t come as a major surprise, they had been struggling for years. We can’t even recall a profitable quarter. But when you are 50 years old with MS and have commited over 15 years to a place, it’s still a hardy jolt. How’s Rick? He, like Jane, is a pillar of faith. He won’t know anything for about a month while the company goes through a special accelerated Chapter 11 bankruptcy process and then finalizes the merger. But Rick is patiently waiting to see what God has in store next.

We’ve been talking for a while about life changes as we enter a new “season.” Looks like those changes will come whether we like it or not! 🙂

So, here we go… JUMP! Thank you Lord, in advance, because we know that you will provide that platform for us to land on “just in time.”

Our church is working through a series on Luke. Today the sermon centered on Luke 22 – the Last Supper. Not having grown up “churched” like most of my friends, this sacrament is one that I never grow tired of learning about. The reverant remembrance of Christ’s work on the cross never fails to stir up something in me and today was no different.

But today, as Rob taught, he brought up the fact that the disciples heard Jesus claim that the one who would betray him was sitting right there with them and each of them began to wonder if they were the one.  I found myself reflecting on this last week. Then I heard Rob teach about the personal introspection that should be a part of our communion experience.

So I went there. I pulled up the “tapes” from this last week for an inside out inventory of my behavior. Monday – okay. Tuesday – okay. Wednesday – oh yeah… a few emergencies at the office to respond to… how’d I do? If I was grading myself, maybe a C+, possibly a B. Thursday – blizzard – yep, things started heading south. I remember having to find a quiet spot for repentance. Friday? Seems that attitude of repentance didn’t really help much, by mid-afternoon I was back sliding again.

All that to say, I am SO thankful for God’s grace and mercy! I know these inside out moments are necessary for my relationship to grow in Him, but if it wasn’t for the hope I have in Christ they sure would be depressing!

Let it be known that I am an avid people watcher! But not the typical people watcher, mind you, I have a twist. My most favorite thing to do (especially at airports, the zoo, or the park) is to zoom in on parents and their children. No, I am not a parental critic. Most often it doesn’t really matter to me how parent’s decide to raise their kids. I spend my time trying to figure out who the kid looks like! I find it fascinating! Mom’s eyes? Dad’s nose? Hmmm…

I can spend hours doing this and for some crazy reason I just think it’s a blast! I wonder if it’s because deep down inside I am absolutely amazed with the entire creation process? Have you ever thought about it?

Here’s another twist… Have you ever wondered who you look like? Have you ever wondered how much you “look like” Jesus? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and it’s been an interesting introspection. When I recount my day and put it through the test, I see many, many moments where I didn’t “look like” my Savior at all.

I am reading a great book called, UnChristian, by David Kinnaman. The entire book is based on research about how young “outsiders” (those who do not know Christ) perceive Christians. As a believer it has helped me understand a few things. At the end of each chapter the author has given pages to a few contributors for insight. Yesterday I found this great quote from Sarah Raymond Cunningham:

I am not asked to impersonate the Holy Spirit but to live a life that gives off God’s fluorescence. And I resolve to remember that God often allows us to learn just as much as we travel our chosen paths as we would have if we had walked only his lighted portions.

I love what she is saying here about learning from our bad days as well as our good days. Yes, no matter what, my desire is that I learn what He would have me learn.

God’s fluorescence… I love that!