Personal Essay

Hometown Vigilantes

It was a summer of tree climbing, front porch sitting, walks to the library and the community pool with friends. There may have also been a little cigarette smoking and joy riding.

Front porches were one of our favorite summer perches, and we noticed a short, middle-aged man with a pot belly and sandy brown hair, feathered back like Shaun Cassidy who started by walking past the house once a day, then multiple times a day.

For the first few weeks he never spoke a word, he just circled. Gradually he became brave, and began making little comments, then sexual comments that grew more crude as the days went by.

As he grew brave, we grew brave too, “Pervert!” We would yell back at him from the safety of a porch. Then a shift happened and some of our phones began to ring, only to hear breathing and sexual threats, the kind of threats that are thick and heavy making your stomach roll and skin crawl.

We were smart enough to know that this danger had become real and parents were told. Word flew around the neighborhood that danger was lurking, and it was hunting their children. Suddenly the hairs on the back of necks were raised, eyes were wide and alert.

I was walking home from the library one late afternoon the sky was blue, the sun warm and books were tucked under my arm. With not a care on my mind I walked and daydreamed. Suddenly Mom pulled up beside me. “Get in the car,” she hissed. The kind of hiss that meant I was in big trouble, or something terrible had happened.

Even on the sunniest day darkness can dwell, and it turned out the predator had been tailing me and I hadn’t even noticed. A friend’s mother had been driving by, her mama bear instincts sensing danger, and she rushed home to call my mother.  Mom dropped everything to come rescue the clueless prey from her predator.

Late that summer Dad and his friend happened to spot the man walking and pulled their pickup right up onto the sidewalk behind him. In an instant the predator had become the prey.

As my Dad would tell it, they pushed him up against the pick-up truck, roughed him up, and then threatened him within an inch of his life. They reminded him that if he looked or spoke to any child in the neighborhood again, they would simply run that old truck right over him.

I remember feeling so proud and protected. Grateful to my friend’s mother, who was normally quiet and reserved, for sounding the alarm.  Thankful for my mother who would drop everything to come to my rescue and cheering inside for a strong father and his fellow vigilante, who made it their business to protect children from the predators of this world.

 

 

Devotional

The Mark of a Disciple

A phrase I heard recently keeps rolling around in my mind…

God is Supernatural and We Are Not

Yet He welcomes us to play a part in spreading the Gospel. He welcomes us as co-laborers, His Hands, His Feet to the world in which we live. What an honor and what an adventure.

We see a beautiful picture of this in the life of Phillip. His first interaction with Jesus was Jesus simply saying to him, Follow Me.

And guess what? Phillip did and his life was never the same.

He was present when Jesus fed the five thousand and see a bit of his personality there.

John 6 4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.

7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”

We see in these verses that Phillip was a logical guy, a guy who tried to figure things out. A life of following Jesus was about to change all of that.

One of my favorite stories in scripture is Acts 8: 28-40
Take a walk through this story with me…

Christ Is Preached to an Ethiopian

26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went.

An angel of the Lord appears to Philip and gives him instruction, to go to the desert. I’m sure that desert was not a preferred local. People were not lining up to go to the desert. Yet, we do not see Philip hesitate, even ask a question. He obediently AROSE and WENT.

the mark of a disciple (1)

The mark of a disciple is one who is willing to walk out this verse.

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

I’m betting that a trip to the desert was not on Philips agenda for the day. Yet, he rearranged his day, denied his plans, picked up his cross and followed the Lord’s instruction for that day.

We are planners. We have our days planned, our weeks even months planned out. What we will do, where we will go and who we will be with. We leave very little wiggle room in our schedules. When God asks us to reorganize, change our plans, take up our cross. We resist and we miss out on partnering with Him, co-laboring with him and we miss out on miracles.

If there is one thing these strange days are teaching us, it is that delay and unknowing have released us of all the plans, all the schedules.

The question is, once this is all behind us, will we fill our schedules again. Will we again leave no wiggle room to take up or cross daily and follow our Lord wherever He will take us. I fear if we do, we will miss out on miraculous opportunities.

Let’s look at the opportunity that was set before Phillip –

And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.

Philip comes across a man who is seeking. His interest in Jesus had peeked and he has pulled his chariot to the side of the road, reading the scriptures. A strange place to be reading the writings of Isaiah wouldn’t you say.

29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”

30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

Again, Phillip receives a command from the Lord via HIS SPIRIT. Go and overtake this chariot of a man from another nation. I would guess that this could have been somewhat dangerous.

Yet again Philip does not hesitate, as a matter of fact, HE RAN TO HIM.

When is that last time God has given us an assignment

and WE RAN in obedience to complete it?

31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

I love this picture. A man who was seeking, simply needed someone with more information to guide him. What does Philip do, he climbs up into that chariot and sits down beside him.

Philip had taught to large crowds, when he prayed, people were healed. Yet he did not hesitate to sit down with one man and tell him all he knew about Jesus.

Most people that God calls us to simply need someone to sit with them,

to spend a little time with them.

To tell them the things we know about Jesus.

  • We do not have to be counselors
  • It is not our job to convince them
  • We do not have to lay awake at night worrying about them

We simply tell them what we know, help in any way we can and then trust God to do what He does best, the work of the heart.

32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this:

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,

So He opened not His mouth.

33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”

34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?”

The question of all questions, who is this prophet talking about?

Himself? Or Someone else?

Philip knows the answer, because he has seen and experienced the answer. He experienced Jesus!

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

Philip then tells the man all about Jesus.

That is simply all we are called to do, tell people who Jesus is, and who He is to us.

  • Tell them why we love Him
  • Tell them why we are willing to deny ourselves, take our crosses up daily and follow Him.

36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

So Simple, So Beautiful!

The Lord’s priority for Philip, that one man on that one day. Time well spent!

Now are you ready for a few WOW moments?

38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

There just so happened to be, sitting in the desert – a pool of water. Everything that was needed had been supplied.

39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.

In this moment Phillip joined a club that few are in. The club of being caught up in the Spirit of the Lord and transported to another location.

Can we agree to say – WOW!

40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.

We find Phillip right back to business as usual. I wonder, could this have been a normal occurrence for him? Oh, I hope so!

We wonder shy the Ethiopian man did not seem concerned that Phillip had disappeared, the answer is clear… he was too busy rejoicing!

Friends, will we loosen our grip on our daily schedules?

Will we take up our cross and daily Follow Him?

I wonder what supernatural adventures could await us.

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Personal Essay

Of Planting and Tearing Up

My hands have been deep in the dirt these past weeks, pulling and planting.  It is a peaceful place for my hands, heart and mind.  Sweet memories, the seeds and water of my life, re-root there.

Dad was a man who was always willing to try new things, I loved that about him, and I am grateful that he passed that willingness along to me. Nothing makes my heart stir like a new project.

One Spring someone gave him burlap bag full of strawberry plant starters.  Dad began to talk about a strawberry patch, how we would have so many strawberries and would be eating all the strawberry shortcake and strawberry pie we could stand by the next June.

He went to work clearing out a small plot behind the garage.  It wasn’t easy turning over that earth, it was covered in strong rooted grass.  He was strong and never a man to give up and after a few days of toiling and turning, the rich dark soil showed itself.

Once a shallow crevice was dug out for each one, we carefully planted each of those tender strawberry plants.   Our strawberry patch was perfect, there is something wonderful about freshly turned soil and newly planted plants, it is a place where hope dwells.

We checked our patch every day, giving our plants plenty of water and tender loving care.   Dreaming about the day we would have more strawberries than we could imagine.

Those dreams came to a crashing halt, when our neighbor Mrs. Kitch, who’s favorite past-time was to snitch, came to my parents with the bad news.  Two boys had pulled up all of Dad’s strawberry plants, and she just happened to know which neighborhood boys they were.

I remember my Dad standing over our precious strawberry patch, his camouflage hat in one hand, his head bent in defeat with his free hand running through his hair.  This told me he was upset. Our once strong plants laid scattered and uprooted, their leaves wilting in the sun.   Inside I raged, not only for our uprooted plants, but for the loss of our hope and plans.

The next thing I knew Dad was walking down the sidewalk to the house of one of the boys.  After a few minutes Dad, one of the boy’s father and two crying boys stood over our decimated strawberry plants.  In silence, the father shook his head in shame as he surveyed the damage, not wanting to believe that his boy was one of culprits of this act.

I stood off to the side watching the scene unfold and I’ll admit I enjoyed it, every uncomfortable moment.  It’s easy when you are not the one squirming.

After some discussion the boys and the father were back with gardening tools.  The two men, with arms crossed over their chests, supervised two scared and sweaty boys as they carefully and gently replanted each plant that they had torn out.

When their work was finished, I watched as my Dad looked each boy in the eye, he shook their hands and tousle their hair.  His way of saying, this can be forgiven.

The sun would not be so forgiving, and our plants would require extra water and tender loving care.  With that care, they rooted, they grew and our hopes and dreams for them revived.

Strawberries

Seeds were planted in the hearts of two boys that day, forgiveness and redemption can come when one rights a wrong. Plants that have been torn out and left for dead can thrive again when planted in good soil.

Seeds were planted in the heart of a girl, as she watched from afar the ways of good men.  Seeds of humility and forgiveness, of wisdom and kindness, of words spoken with grace producing sweet and lasting fruit.

I think of that day in the early Spring, as I clean out my strawberry patch.  Tearing out the weeds, making room for the new runners that will dig in and new young plants will sprout.  I am reminded as I dig and pull that hope dwells here.

 

Seeds and Water

Seeds and Water

Here we are in week four of quarantine and life has taken on a strangeness. Gone is the normal schedule, gone is the daily flow. We find ourselves being tossed around on the waves of unknowing. Our sense of daily awareness is gone, the hours and days running together.

Through out these weeks I have been thinking about my Dad and what his reaction to all of this would have been. I miss his calming force. He had a sense about him that made you feel like everything was going to be alright, even when it wasn’t.

I began to write down all that I could remember about him, for you see, I’m terrified I will forget, forget his laugh, his smile, his words. Funny thing, when you start recalling memories, God is good and brings you an avalanche of them.

They come in the shower, while bending over a sink full of dishes, while folding laundry and when you lie in bed at night. Some memories bring life and comfort, others the sting of pain still lives.

I found that not only memories of my Dad came, but memories of many people who have come in and out of my life. I began to imagine them as seeds and water, the planting and watering of a garden, the growing of a girl.

Seeds and Water

Some of the seeds took deep root in my life, some blew away in the wind. Some of the watering was like soft spring rain, other torrential downpours that washed growing seeds away. All of them have grown me into the woman I am today, teaching me many life lessons, about others and myself.

I have been wrestling with Paul’s words about those who plant and water our lives. He says that they are important and equal, God sees their labor and their reward awaits them. Yet is is God who does the growing, the growing of a girl, a vineyard, a garden, she is the house where God dwells.

God, who causes the growth, is the only One who matters. The one who plants is no greater than the one who waters; both will be rewarded based on their work. We are gardeners and field workers laboring with God. You are the vineyard, the garden, the house where God dwells. 1 Corinthians 3 7b-9 The Voice

We are often looking forward, preparing and planning, rarely looking back. I must say, this time of looking back has been good for my soul.

Some of my planters and waterers still live and others have gone home for their reward, and I know their rewards are sweet. If I do not share how their stories entwined with mine, who will ? How will they be remembered? How will their seeds continue to grow in future generation?
It is a strange time we are living in friends and we have been given the rare gift of time. Let’s allow our memories to stir and then watch the avalanche come. Remembering the stories of those who have planted seeds and poured water over our lives.
Our life is but a breath and we are the only ones who can tell our story, and everyone loves a story. Say what you have been given to say.

With Love,

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Poetry · Uncategorized

Home

Here most of us are, sitting at home.  On any normal day isn’t this the place we long to be?

Here is a little reminder of the beauty of Home –

 

Home

A place of solitude

The building of a sanctuary

Where peace is found

 

A place of communion

The ringing of laughter

Where joy is shared

 

A place of gathering

The keeping of conversations

Where bonds are made

 

A place of meals

The filling of the empty

Where hearts are warmed  

 

A place where wisdom is taught

The falling of tears

Where grace is given

 

A place of warm blankets

The drifting off to sleep

Where rest is found 

 

A place of understanding

The art of listening close

Where knowledge is known

 

A holy place

Where rooms are filled

With precious and pleasant riches

 

D.E. White 

Scripture Shaped Prayer

Protection

The prayer of a mama for her children’s protection is a prayer that never ends. My boys are twenty-seven and twenty-four and I’m still praying for their protection every day.
 
Today we are all praying for protection from a virus that is crawling through this world, and tomorrow will bring new prayers for protection. The hazards in this world that threaten our children’s well-being are endless.
 
Think for a moment about today’s prayers coming from mother’s lips all over the world.
 
Mamas praying prayers of protection from contaminated water, starvation, violence, from those who seek to prey upon their children. They pray protection from broken systems and corrupt governments, protection in the midst of war-torn countries and war-torn lives.
 
The list is long, our concerns over our children deep. We can rest in this today, God’s love and concern over children is longer, it is deeper and it is wider. ❤
 
That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19
Let’s join together and pray over one anothers children today. 
 
Praise
 
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. Psalm 91:14
 
Thank God today that He is the One who rescues and protects.
 
Confession
 
Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Psalm 79:9
 
Take a moment and examine your heart, remind yourself that you have been forgiven.
 
Give Thanks
 
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
 
Thank God today for His faithfulness to you, as well as the strength and protection He gives.
 
Shaping Your Prayers with God’s Word
 
Father, I thank you that you go before __________ today, that You, the God of Israel, will be _________ ‘s rear guard. Isaiah 52:12
Putting Feet to your Prayers
 
Remind your children often that you are praying for their protection. Ask them about moments that they remember God protecting them. This will be a great reminder to them, and you, that God protects.
 
 
 
 
Scripture Shaped Prayer

Physical Healing

It is heart wrenching when our children are sick in body.  Just the thought of an ear infection, cold, or the flu can make a mama shudder.  If you have a houseful of kids, you could be looking at almost a month of sickness by the time it runs through everyone.

Maybe you are a mama with a chronically ill child, or your child is facing a terminal illness and you have prayed, until you feel you can pray no more.  May you feel the arms of God wrap around you in this moment, holding you close, holding you tight.

We live in a fallen and broken world and it is a place where disease lives, where bones break and accidents happen.   One moment a child’s body can seem so strong and resilient, the next moment as weak as a baby bird.

We know this about Jesus, He is in the healing business.  With one touch the blind saw, the deaf heard and the dead were raised to life.  Those are not small things, they are life changing miracles.

There is one thing that those who were healed had in common,  they asked, or someone asked on their behalf.

As mamas who follow Jesus, we ask, and then we ask again on behalf of our children. We remind ourselves of the healing touch of Jesus and then we trust in the One who hides them under the shadow of His wing.

Let’s Pray  

Praise

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.  Psalm 103: 2-4

Praise God today for all of His benefits, this includes the benefit of healing.

Confession

I said, “O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.”  Psalm 41:4

Take a moment an confess sin that could stand in the way of healing.

Give Thanks  

And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment and as many as touched it were made perfectly well.  Matthew 14: 35-16

Thank the Lord today, that in prayer you can touch the hem of His garment, where His healing virtue flows.

Shaping Your Prayers with God’s Word  

Father I ask that you restore health to ________ and that you would heal ___________ of his/her wounds. Jeremiah 30:17

Putting Feet to Our Prayers

When your child is sick or injured remember the power of touch.  A back rub, a kiss, a cool cloth on their forehead. They will remember those moments of tender loving care.

Scripture Shaped Prayer

A Love for Others

A Love for Others

One summer at church camp my boys met a young lady, and for weeks after returning home all I heard about was Britney.   I had never seen my boys so taken with someone.

The camp theme that summer had been Standing in the Gap Through Prayer.  Every evening during chapel the children had the opportunity to pray for one another’s needs.

They boys told me about Britney’s request for her family.  Her sister, who had strayed far from her family, had found herself pregnant and in the grip of addiction. Then I understood what was going on. The boy’s hearts had been expended through prayer.

They had never been faced with a prayer request as monumental as this and they took it very seriously. Faithfully they prayed for Britney’s sister and her baby.  It was as if they were treading on holy ground during those daily prayers. Never knowing how things would all turn out yet trusting in a God who they knew could intervene.

Prayer was the place where their love grew for their dear friend and her family.  Nothing opens a heart to love others quite like prayer does.  Suddenly their eyes were off themselves and set on the needs of another.

Let’s Pray!

Praise

 For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.  Psalm 117:12

 Praise the Lord for His Great Love for you.

Confession

And live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2

 Maybe you haven’t been living a life of love, confess that to the Lord today.

Give Thanks

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.  Ephesians 1:3-5

 In love you were adopted by Christ, throw up your hands and give thanks today.

Shaping Your Prayers with God’s Word

I thank you Lord for _______.  I thank you that his/her faith is growing more and more; and the love that _______ has for others is increasing.  2 Thessalonians 1:3

Putting Feet to Our Prayers

As prayer requests become known to you share them with your children, big and small. Take a few minutes each day and pray for others together.