April 30, 2010


CJ: I love my Daddy.

Me: I know. I love your Daddy, too.

CJ: I love him more.

Me: No, I do. And I've loved him longer.

CJ: My Daddy loves me.

Me: Your Daddy loves me, too.

CJ: Well, he loves God more than both of us.

She's right. He does.

Lord, today I thank You for the gift of my husband. For the way he loves You, and his girls. For his commitment to work in a job he has disliked for so long to provide for us. For the opportunities the coming months are bringing, to use his talents to serve others and bless our family. I see his excitement. I sense his nervousness. Thank You, God, for growing him during this transition. Thank You for considering me worthy of such a beautiful, fine, godly man.

April 29, 2010



The question not often on my lips, but never far from my heart.

My shaking legs take unsure steps on the road away from this life. I  am a newborn foal not yet ready to run, ignoring my Father's nudges. I want to stay in the shelter of the stable, lie in the warmth of the hay. Yet He is calling me to step out of this life, and into a field unknown.


In direct contradiction to the American dream, God actually delights in exalting our inability.  He intentionally puts his people in situations where they come face to face with their need for him. In the process he powerfully demonstrates his ability to provide everything his people need in ways they could never have mustered up or imagined. And in the end, he makes much of his own name (see 2 Cor. 12:7-9)...This is how God works. He puts his people in positions where they are desperate for his power, and then he shows his provision in ways that display his greatness.
(Scripture reference added from footnote)

The sun glistens brightly just outside the stable door. It dances across the grass of the open field. The warm breeze whispers my name.

Am I ready?

No longer held back by my own comfort or expectations. No false security in an employer. It's almost time to run in the wide open spaces with my Father.

He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me
~ Psalm 18:19 (ESV)

April 28, 2010


The gray stacks have marked the landscape of this town for a century. The putrid smell constant, offering security to employees and community alike. 

Daddy came home each afternoon, worn down from a hard day's work and the troubles of keeping a paper mill running. He tried to satisfy my curiosity by describing his workplace, but I was unable to see it in my mind's eye. I just knew it provided the clothes I wore, the meals I ate, the vacations we took. As I prepared to leave home, I was thankful for scholarships and summer employment.

A paper maker's daughter eventually became a paper maker's wife. I watched my husband come home each day, worn down from the demands of shift work and sending paper out into the world. I listened as he tried to describe his workplace to another curious young girl. She'll never see inside the place where her two favorite men gave so much of their lives.

The star Daddy made atop the Christmas tree that's looked down over our community for years shines bright in these cool April nights, a final, rebellious farewell.  The gray stacks now stand still. Hard hats form a makeshift monument to the way of life that has defined us. "For Sale" signs pop up like weeds in every neighborhood, each day bringing more. Moving vans, instead of log trucks, rumble down the highway.

Today, I grieve.

Eager for a new life, but sad to see the old one end. Wondering what God has in store, I fall into His lap as the tears begin to flow.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. -Matthew 5:4 (ESV)

April 27, 2010


Today I am caught off guard by fear. Its persistent assault rubs away at my resolve, my innate bent toward self-preservation.  I am bone-weary, ready to crumble under its heavy weight.

I search for help, and my Savior does not disappoint.

Ten Ways to Fight Fear

1. Talk to God. Out loud. There is power in the spoken word.

2. Praise. Psalm 8 — God uses our praise to silence the enemy.

3. Strengthen yourself in the Lord. Jonathon strengthened David in the spoken word, and then David "strengthened himself in the Lord."

4. Watch the words you speak about God when you are not praying. No words are neutral; all words have consequences. Watch how you talk about God when you are not praying! Do you doubt, question, complain, to others about your life, his treatment of you?

5. Always put the word of God above the word of man. Watch out for the "theories" of others (e.g., the new widow who was told by her friends that she was entitled to be angry at God for a period of time. She went to the Bible and found nothing on this "theory", and decided not to "be mad" at God; and it probably helped her grieving process).

6. Memorize the Word. "It's a secret doorway to God's heart."

7. Choose joy. Command: "Rejoice in the Lord always!" It's a command! We're commanded to be happy — do it, be free!

8. Don't always wait to be happy. "After this circumstance changes, then I'll be happy." No, because there's always something coming. Be joyful now; don't wait to be happy!

9. Talk to yourself, don't listen to yourself. "A lie is still a lie, even if you've been believing it for 40 years. The truth is still the truth, even if you've only believed it for 2 weeks." Also, don't let a "no" answer deter you from continuing to ask God. Sometimes it is his will that we ask longer.

10. Have a special place to pray.
~Andrée Seu (HT: Desiring God blog)

This truth both sustains and encourages me. Armed with this new-found wisdom, I rise up and start walking once again.

P.S. - After yesterday's decision to remove the "follow" badge, I realized doing so might make readers feel unwelcome or unwanted. Instead, I've decided to display it less prominently at the bottom of the page.

April 26, 2010

Twenty-Two, with announcements

The days of shift work are coming to an end in our home. I wonder how I'll adjust to having the man of the house in residence every evening. After 15 years, I've grown to like the pockets of alone time that shift work has afforded me. Selfish, I know.

As I count down the days, I've been thinking a lot about time and my use of it. I've realized that I don't make the best use of the time the Lord has blessed me with. Particularly when it comes to blogging.  What started as a hobby nearly four years ago has sucked up more of my life than I ever intended. Some serious changes are in order.

Checking in several times a day to moderate comments is not the best use of my time. I appreciate your encouragement. Really, I do. But comments have fed my need for validation, and it's grown into something pretty ugly. If someone hasn't commented in a while, I wonder if I've offended. If I pour my heart out and no one comments, I wonder why I even bother to write. When a new reader comments, I feel obligated to visit her blog, which takes even more time. Beginning with this post, comments will be turned off. Please hear my heart on this. I pray that your visit to my blog is the best use of your time, and I don't want anyone to feel obligated to comment. I pray my words inspire, encourage, inform, and perhaps even minister. If they do, it is because of God. It is not because of me. My email address is in my profile if you have a question or want to share something with me. I would love to hear from you.

Although I still think it's a great idea, I will no longer host The Week in Words. The obligation to leave a comment on each link (and the guilt when I don't) is too much. If someone else wants to host it, please feel free...and make sure you let me know so I can participate.

Throughout the past four years I've had dreams of a big ministry, lots of comments and followers. My plans, my pride. I have finally, FINALLY come to a place where I accept that it's not about me. A public display of those following this blog nurtures my already-healthy ego. I'm disabling the "follow" option. If I could keep it and not display that badge, I would. (If there's a way, please tell me how). There are still subscription options in the sidebar.

Blogging has taught me much in these past four years. I've been encouraged to rightly divide the Word of God, be more frugal, be a better woman, look for God in even the smallest details of my life, and help others. I've discovered great recipes and even greater books. I hope to continue to grow and learn, while using my time more wisely. I've whittled down the number of blogs I subscribe to. I will comment ONLY when I have something worth saying.  Not commenting will in NO WAY be a reflection of the truth, importance or beauty of a post, but rather of my inability to add anything of value to the conversation.

These changes have been on my mind for a while, but I wasn't motivated to implement them. My Facebook break has taught me that I don't need so much information in my life. I need balance. I've made some true friends through blogging, relationships I hope to maintain this side of Heaven. I also have a wonderful family, church family, friends and fantastic group of teenage girls who deserve more than I give them.

These changes are not about choosing better, they're about choosing best.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  ~Ephesians 5:16-17 (ESV)

April 25, 2010


The music begins. I bow my head as my pastor beckons those in need to come. Tears pool, blurring my vision. My eyes release them to pour down my cheeks, and suddenly I see.

The need glorify Christ in our circumstances crashes over me. It makes my soul ache. It catches my breath as I whisper the words tumbling from my heart. For a moment, I feel like Hannah. Will I be found as faithful as she?

Are others seeing You when they look at me? 

Do they know that I count this walk as a joy, a privilege for the blessing of knowing you more? 

Do they understand that even though this road is a rocky one that leads to places unknown, I would rather walk it with You than stay on the comfortable path without You? 

Have I been faithful to praise Your Name above all else?

I examine my heart, and keep putting one foot in front of the other...

April 24, 2010


An impromptu lunch with R is one of the joys of my life. There, in the booth with crimson vinyl covered seats, we connect. How many meals have I shared with this man? Amazingly, we never run out of things to say.

Through the years we've talked about everything under the sun. These days, our conversations are different. They bring to mind the days before we married.

I can't wait.

I'm nervous.

I'm excited.

Is this the right decision?

Do you think we'll make it?

 I look past the crinkles and gray hairs and into the eyes of the man I love. He grabs my hands, which have somehow morphed into my mother's.  

We know

that God is good and He is faithful

that home is wherever the other is

that we are wiser, stronger

that 17 years together have forged a bond not easily broken

that we will survive.

April 23, 2010


Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth - Psalm 86:11 (ESV)

According to the calendar, I am behind in my Bible reading plan. And I am right where He wants me to be.

Teach me your way...

Judges 2 & 3 - Israel wavers. When a judge is raised up, they obey. When there is no judge, they return to their sin. The Lord tests them.

Lord, give me a steadfast heart. Is this a time of testing? Am I being obedient?

...unite my heart to fear your name - Psalm 86:11 (ESV)

Lord, hear my cry. I plead for a heart that is solely focused on You.

...And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. - Mark 6:51-52

Lord, even Your disciples suffered from hard hearts? Were there still breadcrumbs in their beards, the stench of fish clinging to their fingers when they cried out in fear as you tread across the water? How could they not see who You were? How can I not see who You are?

Now these things took place as examples for us...Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction...1 Corinthians 10:6, 11 (ESV)

The Master, Creator of all things, has woven the day's teachings together in a beautiful array of Truth, spurring me one step closer...

April 22, 2010


The morning is dark, still. Quietly I ease out of the warm bed, careful not to wake the one slumbering beside me. In the kitchen, I pour and stir until I am satisfied that with the muddy hue that fills my favorite cup. I settle into our meeting place, ready. He is as eager to speak as I am to listen, for He does not tarry.

But the people of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem, so the Jebusites have lived with the people of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day
~Judges 1:21 (ESV)
Curious, my eyes fall to the bottom of the page to scan the notes. A second notice about Israelite failure...previews a series of six almost identical notices in vv. 27-36. The Israelites were apparently satisfied with a comfortable home in a productive land and were not zealous to achieve God's full purpose for their life in the land. (from the ESV Study Bible)

Despite the warmth of the coffee, I feel a chill. My skin tingles. My fingers shake as I underline this gem, one of many I've been gathering on this journey of faith and freedom.

I determine to no longer be satisfied in a comfortable home in a productive land. I praise God for tearing us away from a life of complacency. I want to be zealous to achieve God's full purpose for my life. I praise God for planting that desire in my heart, for I know it is His and not my own.

 One step closer...

April 21, 2010


...but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
~Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

My fingers ache. Nails, bitten practically to the quick, taunt me. Visible proof of my impatience. Autumn and winter, usually beloved, were harsh this year. The wait has been long, oppressive at times.

And I am weary.

Today, Lord, I pray for patience. I confess that I am tired of waiting. Your Word promises renewed strength for those who wait upon you. Oh, how I need that strength! I pray for grace to take captive any thought that is contrary to your Word, your goodness & faithfulness. Steady my mind on the good, the noble, the trustworthy. Remind me that You are the creator of time, and it is Your privilege alone to bring this wait to conclusion. Lord, I praise you that this temporary state is nothing compared to eternity! Even so, I am weary. I know I cannot endure the waiting without You. Rain down Your presence in my life today. Amen, and amen.

April 20, 2010



That's the number of days before my husband will be officially unemployed. When he walks out the door for the last time, he'll be saying goodbye to more than 15 years of service with this company.

We are ready.

At least we think we are. We can see the edge. Slowly, deliberately, we inch forward, getting into position. Poised to dive at his command. As we draw nearer to the precipice, I'm overwhelmed. No longer with fear or trepidation. No trace of anger or grief. It is the goodness of the Lord that floods my soul.

We steel ourselves and try desperately not to flinch. I seek to calm the adrenaline, the eagerness and anxiety pumping through my veins. One false move could be disastrous. It is imperative that these final paces are in sync with Him.

I pray and I listen. I watch and I learn. These are the last steps of our old life.

And, one by one, I will share them here.

April 19, 2010

The Week in Words: April 19


Taken from The complete works of Anne Bradstreet

The treasures of this world may well be compared to husks, for they have no kernel in them, and they that feed upon them, may soon stuff their throats, but cannot fill their bellies, they may be choked by them, but cannot be satisfied with them.
(spelling edited for clarity)

And from Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart

God came down and lived in this same world as a man. He showed us how to live in this world, subject to its vicissitudes and necessities, that we might be changed - not into an angel or a storybook princess, not wafted into another world, but changed into saints in this world. The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.

Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.

That's really it, isn't it? To be content in this world isn't the point. Not what my heart should seek, despite its cravings. I whine because I don't have a perfect life. My Savior loves me too much to give it to me.

Wait, He whispers. Just wait.

And so, thankful for a small, ordinary life, I settle in to do just that.

April 16, 2010

No Ordinary Life

So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? - Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail .

Kathleen is lamenting her small, ordinary life. It's a sentiment I too often echo.

Is my life what I dreamed it would be?

Am I where I thought hoped I'd be?

The map I had for my life is lost. Visions of a big and extraordinary life that once filled my head now vanished, vapors long ascended into the skies.

I have a fantastic life. Absolutely, I do. And yet I sometimes find it difficult to accept this small, ordinary life that is mine. Small and significant battle each other, polar opposites in my mind.

Why hasn't my blog "taken off"?

Will I ever have a ministry that counts for something?

Conventional wisdom may proclaim my heart insecure, my self-confidence wounded by a direct hit from the enemy.  No...pride, self-importance, and the desire for control are the true culprits.


I repent for the sense of entitlement that pervades my soul. Confess my tendency to think of myself too highly. Pray for a circumcised heart.

Graciously, my Father reminds me that His map alone is trustworthy. His visions greater, those of the only One omniscient. His Name the only one to be glorified. He doesn't count pouring my life into my husband, my daughter, or a group of young women as small or insignificant.  He sees the beauty in the minutia, which is anything but in His eyes. He knows the value of a life surrendered to Him.

Although I am small and ordinary, He is big and extraordinary.

And once again, I am completely undone.

April 14, 2010

Around the House: April

I am:

~Looking for my blogging mojo. I honestly don't have a clue where it went.

~Coming to terms with the fact that it's okay if I don't ever find my blogging mojo.

~Pondering what encouragement and/or wisdom I can impart here.  I will limit my blogging to lessons I'm learning in homemaking and in my walk with Christ. Your thoughts, please?

~Thankful R & CJ enjoy gardening. My sole contribution was selecting the seeds & plants...but I'm guessing I'll be the chief cooker of all those wonderful veggies and herbs.

~Not missing Facebook AT.ALL. Seriously. I admit, I miss Twitter a little bit. I love small, power-packed doses of inspiration.

~Sad that my weekly study with CJ & her friends ended, but looking forward to picking up with a mother/daughter study this summer.

~Loving Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. It's insightful and a little alarming, and has definitely caused my family to rethink our food consumption. All three of us are glued to the TV for this one.

~Looking for some new Christian music to encourage and inspire. Suggestions?

April 12, 2010

Fireworks over Toccoa

Reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society whet my appetite for WWII fiction. When I found out that 5 Minutes for Books was hosting a book club for the new WWII novel Fireworks Over Toccoa, I jumped at the chance to participate. You can read others' reviews of the book here. I'm not writing a formal review, but I'm going to tackle some of the discussion questions (others have done the same here.) WARNING:  spoilers may follow!

Do you think duty is ever more important than love? Unequivocally, yes. I say that because the world's idea of love is not genuine love. (And I'd refer you to a great book on the subject of marriage).

How would you describe the love between Jake and Lily? Was it genuine? Born of fear or loneliness? Could it have survived the intricacies of "real life," or could it only have existed in the tiny pocket of time outside of reality that they had? I wouldn't characterize their relationship as love, but lust born out of loneliness, neediness & physical attraction. For Lily, Jake represented everything that was completely opposite of who she was raised to be. The danger factor made it more enticing. I don't think they could've survived "real life" because they were living in a fantasy world for that small period of time.

Lily’s father Walter is very clear with her about what he expects her to do when he speaks to her the morning after she has been out all night with Jake. What was your response to how Walter handled this situation? In his place, in what ways would you have reacted similarly or differently? I actually agreed with Walter. Someone had to bring Lily to her senses. In all honestly, I felt that he should have intervened before she married in the first place.

Though not a typical Young Adult coming-of-age novel, how is Fireworks over Toccoa the story of Lily's coming of age?  Lily realizes that her impetuous marriage may have been a mistake. She also finally finds the courage to ignore the expectations of her parents and the community of Toccoa. We find out that the events of that summer change the course of her life, sparking her to break out on her own and develop her talent as an artist.

Overall, I wasn't thrilled with Fireworks Over Toccoa. Author Jeffrey Stepakoff did a wonderful job of bringing his characters and the town to life, but I found it sad that Lily seemed to have devoted a large portion of her heart and life to a man she knew for less than a week. I wonder if she would have even recognized him 10 years later, because she was obviously clinging to the idea of him.

So there you have it, my very straightforward opinion of the book! If you'd like to know what others think, click on the links listed above.

The Week in Words - April 12th


Sorry for the unplanned two week break from The Week in Words! But I'm back with a really great quote. In fact, it's an entire blog post that truly rocked my world. Click here to see if you agree. Then come back and link up your own posts.