Thursday, April 30, 2015

At a Card Table

Four women sit around a card table. Each reviews the current season of her live…with each memory, a sigh…

I praise the Lord for He delivers us from all the evils of this world. Even when it feels like the floor retracts and we seem to collapse…He is there to catch us in His loving arms.

Four women sit around a card table. Each shares of her hurt, her pain, her frustration, her fear, her hesitation to believe and to fully trust in Him who is Faithful…

Four women sit around a card table. Each finds the common tread to their stories. They realize they are bound together by the love of the One who made them His own.

It was there, sitting at that card table that He reminded me of the intense period of grieving, loss and fear that He and I had been navigating through in the recent past. My unwillingness to forgive, my heart ache at the pain of my loved ones, my frightful days caused by the panic of disease, my fear of financial instability, my mourning at the loss of my rock, my frustrations at my perceived failings…His eyes never missed any of it. He has seen it all…He has known it all. In His unfathomable love, He guides me through it all ‘till He sees me come out the other side, unharmed.

Four women sit around a card table. Their fellowship causes them to each open up their eyes wide to realize that His hands have been holding them all along.

Praise the Lord!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Helen's Song

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. Jeremiah 17: 7-8

Today is the day of the Lord’s favor.

A glorious day to praise Your name,

for a faithful one has flown to you

on the wings of an angel

to be part of your court

and to delight you

with the fully ripen fruits of Your Spirit in her heart.

Today, she walks with you among the blossoms in the garden of her forever home.

And, though her departure leaves a deep void in our souls

we rejoice for her rewards are plenty.

Today she wears the crown

that you have destined

to adorn her brow for eternity.

Tonight we mourn.

Tonight we cry,

but tonight we are also assured

that joy comes in the morning.

For as surely as the Lord lives

we know You bind the brokenhearted

and You comfort the soul that bleeds.

She walks with angels now.

There’s no more pain or grief.

She dances in paradise.

She sings songs of worship,

as she waits for you and me.

We miss her, that’s true,

but we are also relieved

that she is overcome this world

and now dwells in the courts above

enjoying her new mansion

forever…and more…

The Lord provides…

...for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61: 3

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Friendship and Fellowship

Last Friday afternoon I drove through the hilly roads of Western PA to a retreat house tucked away at the top of a very special and hard to reach mountain (this year it was especially hard to reach due to some crazy detours!) However, once I got there, I was blessed by the soothing balm of friendship and fellowship.

I have to say, godly friends are a true gift from God. He places them along our way at the right moment when we need them the most. Don’t ever think you are alone. You are not! Though we may go through seasons of loneliness in our lives, we are never truly alone. Jesus, our faithful companion is always with us and in us. In His unfathomable love, God also gives us sisters in Christ to share the burden, encourage one another, keep us accountable, cry, laugh and chit-chat as we walk on our own personal winding roads.

I know this is a broad generalization, but I do believe that as women, friends are indispensable. I don’t know how this thing works in men. I don’t presume to know much at all about the deep jungle of the male psyche, but in my limited experience with two sons and a husband, my observations are revealing that it is not quite as indispensable for them to have friends to talk about things with.

At any rate, my point is that I believe that as women, even if we are shy, reserved, quiet and a bit high in testosterone-meaning: not the grisliest of girls (speaking for myself here) we all crave the friendship of other women. We may have a wonderful husband, boyfriend, clan, children, whatever…but in the midst of all of them wonderful people, loneliness can quickly sink our hearts if we don’t have girlfriends to share it all with.

Opportunities like women retreats offer a chance to connect or reconnect with other sisters in the faith. At events like these one can easily see the relational nature of women. And the New Bedford Women’s Retreat was no exception. As we gathered around card tables and explored the seasons of our lives, women of all ages and conditions expressed their hurts, their hopes, their loss, their fears and all the elements that collide together to form their lives.

Every small group was different, but in mine, I praise the Lord for He provided a group of women who were vulnerable enough to share their situations in a way that allowed me to realize that I am not alone and that I too can open up my heart and see what The Lord has done for me.

I do believe that the time we spend with our fellow believer girlfriends is time spent in fellowship with Our Lord. He has forged such friendships for the nurturing of our souls. He has brought us together to chase away the hurt. He made our paths cross so we can help each other carry our crosses. He arranged it so we could meet each other in order to cry a little and laugh a lot for the glory of Our Maker. Therefore, any time we get together in Him is an act of special worship and praise to the One who designed our relationship.

We talked, we sang, we ate, we laughed and we fought tears in a wonderful display of love and understanding for the humanity of the female condition who seeks God as the ultimate goal. At the end, we left thoroughly satisfied while at the same time thirsty for more. On Saturday afternoon, I drove away from that special mountain lamenting how fast the time flew by and wishing I am able to come back again next year. May the Lord allow us to all continue gathering together in faith, in spirit and in truth.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In the Garden with God

This past weekend I had the blessing to be able to attend my home church’s women’s retreat, and as it has been the case over the years, it was a fantastic experience. It was a time to re-energize. It was a time to fellowship with sisters in Christ. It was a time to spend much needed quality time one-on-one with My Lord.

The theme of the retreat was "Garden Getaway."  And let me tell you…I am no gardener, but the theme was right on!

It all revolved around one of my favorite passages in Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8. From the first session, as we settled into our tables and read this precious piece of the Word I knew God had brought me to the retreat to speak to me directly…(I know…that’s true for every woman who attended…but you know what I mean?!).

God used the retreat to take me for a walk with Him. Both figuratively and literally I walked alongside My Savior through a garden of His making to communicate with Him in Spirit and in Truth. Jesus took me by the hand as we explored the most recent seasons of my life. He placed amazing women at my table to help me in this excursion and as it usually happens, at the end I was both: deeply satisfied and very thirsty for more!

As I walked in the garden with Christ He did many things:

1. He provided a group of women who were vulnerable enough to share their own seasons, hurts and situations so I could realize that I am not alone and that I too can open up my heart and see what The Lord has done for me.

2. He reminded me of the intense period of grieving, loss and fear that He and I had been navigating through in the recent past.

3. He showed me the peace and the joy that He is blessing me with right in this moment…and…

4. He prompted me to think about the future and about the reason(s) He has delivered me for.

It is my intention to develop each of these points in separate posts; therefore, this is just an introduction. I hope you stick around with me during the next few days as I try to turn each post into a picture of the hand of Christ in our lives and the way it looks when we pay attention.

May these humble meditations inspire you to take a walk with God in the garden of your life.

A Time for Everything

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Scary Times

Often times I get really worried about the state of affairs of this country. Our culture is currently making a strong push against anything traditional; and values are changing to become something unrecognizable. I worry about the kind of world my young sons will inherit and the kind of society they will have to navigate. I fear that as a nation we have wandered way too far away from God and that now He is distant and detached. I’m not sure what His plan is, but I’m nervous about it.

I don’t want to feel this way, but I can’t help it. I try surrounding myself with all things good and clean; but the filthiness is getting too hard to escape. Staying in a counter-culture position is becoming exhausting and I’m wondering if I am going to ever be able to truly shelter myself and my loved ones from what’s coming (which I’m not sure I know what it is).

There is a rebellion against God right now and I see it in the face of the youth that sits in my classrooms. Although they seem to be searching for truth, they are rejecting the only source of truth. Although they are thirsty for hope, they reject the source of true hope. And I feel disheartened.

But then I remember…it does not matter. It doesn’t matter how I feel or what the majority of our society does or what they choose to believe or disbelieve…God is unchangeable. Regardless of our actions as a people, the fact that God is the One True Sovereign, Mighty King is never going to change.

He is the Ancient of Days that Daniel tells us about, and even though the world may deny Him and even though the beast may oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws, the beast will be slain and thrown into the blazing fire... and the Son of Man will come down, riding on the clouds and His kingdom will not pass away. (Daniel 7)

There are hard times coming, no doubt, but in due time, the heavenly court will sit and the books will be open. The beast will not stand the power of the Almighty and judgement will descend upon us. But those who belong to Him will be spare and will be released to enjoy eternity with Him.

This is what I must keep in mind at all times today. This is the truth I must not forget when I feel the despair of the unknown approach. This is the revelation that I need to carry with me as my heart endures the darkness that is threatening to overshadow the Light. The Light of the World will not be extinguished…There is not power that can put it out. And at the appointed time, He will make Himself be seen as every knew will bow. Come Lord Jesus, come!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


How hard is it to forgive?

Well, if you have ever been wronged in any way, you know…it is VERY hard to forgive. Today, just a couple of days after Easter I sit and wonder about this. Deeply within my heart I know I have a hard time with forgiveness. I have struggled with it immensely. I have held grudges. I have rehearsed scenarios of vengeance in my head to get even with those who have offended me. I have spoken harsh words about those that I find hard to forgive. I have pretended they don’t even exist so I don’t have to deal with forgiving them. In the end, however, the Holy Spirit, in His limitless love and patience, has taught me that the right thing to do…the only thing to do is to forgive and let go. There is no other way.

Forgiveness is the way to freedom. As Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:14-15 NIV:

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Notice that Scripture does not stipulate anything regarding under which specific circumstances we should forgive others. The Word very plainly says we must forgive if we want to be forgiven. Refusing to forgive binds us to our own un-forgiveness regardless of the sin that was committed against us. No matter what the other person might have done to me, my job is to forgive if I want to be forgiven by God. It’s just that simple.

How many times should I forgive? Well…

Matthew 18: 21-22 NIV

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

…even if it means forgiving those who are putting us to death:

Luke 23:33-34 NIV

When they came to a place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Jesus set the bar really high. And we are to follow His example.

The good news is that we are not left to our own devices to find it within our hearts to forgive. Prayer is our ally in the quest for forgiveness. It is an almost impossible thing to do alone. That’s why we don’t have to. Through constant prayer we will receive the necessary grace so we can extend it to others to finally break the cycle of hate and bitterness that lack of forgiveness creates. Praying to Our Heavenly Father for Him to teach us how to forgive over and over again will soften our hearts to forgiveness. Praying that we can abide in Jesus’ Words and follow His example will put us into the path to freedom from the bondage of grudges. Prayerfully confessing our own inability to forgive will bring about the cleansing that is necessary to take the first steps into that path. Through prayer we will be able to lift our burdens up to the heavens, receive His forgiveness of our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. As our cup overflows with His grace and mercy, we will be able to extend them both to those around us…even to those we find hard to forgive.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Have you ever met someone who gets excited and overjoyed about…B.O.? (yeah…b. o. – well, it is April Fool’s after all, right? A day for pranks and fun, and while this is not a joke…it is kind of fun!)

At any rate…

As a typical baby of the family, my nine and a half year-old son Dylan can’t wait to grow up and show us he is more than just our little pet. For a few years now, he has been fascinated by the idea of deodorant. Even though he does not have a clue why, he does understand that putting deodorant on for the first time means some kind of mysterious rite of passage into some sort of more adult state…and he wants in!

He gets this idea, I think, from the fact that every time he asks us if he can put some deodorant on, we say a resounding NO! accompanied by a: “you are too young for that, besides, your armpits don’t stink!” Then, I usually would go to him, raise his little arm up, bury my nose into his armpit, take a good whiff, and say: “nothing but baby smell”.

Well, last Saturday morning, we were urging Dylan to stop being so lazy and get in the shower, but as usual, he was insisting on doing other things, stating that he didn’t need to take a shower. I told him that he stunk. He said he didn’t stink, and the thing went back and forth for a few seconds until I walked to him, raised his little arm, buried my nose in his armpit, took a big whiff…and to my surprise… “O my gosh! Dylan, you stink!” I fell on the floor gagging (over-dramatically, of course!) Then I saw him reaching out with his nose under his own armpit to suddenly hear him shout: “I STINK!” as he raised both arms in joy.

“I need deodorant!” He announced. “Grant, I need deodorant!” “My armpits smell!”


Dan and I didn’t really know what to do, so we just laughed (I mean, really, what else can you do in this situation?)

The rest of the weekend, Dylan kept on “reminding me” to go buy him deodorant at my earliest convenience. I finally convinced him that he could wait until Monday. So sure enough, as soon as he walked into the house after school on Monday, first thing he asked: “did you buy me my deodorant?” “Yes.” “Where is it?” “Over there.” “Hey, it’s the same Grant uses.” “Yes.” “What does ‘Speed Stick’ mean?” “I don’t know…it’s just the name of it” “I’m going to tell my friends!” “Uhumm” “Can I bring it to school tomorrow to show them?” “No.” “Can I show Grant?” “Okay.” “Can I put some on right now?” “Yes.” “How do you open it?” “Sigh…”

I just couldn’t stand it. The whole thing was surreal, but incredibly cute. It was also bittersweet. My little baby is growing up…

I know the coming years will bring many changes for my boys as they enter adolescence. But there is still time to enjoy their innocence for a little longer. So I better savor all the sweetness I can squeeze out of them right now, while I’m still able. One thing has definitively changed for good, though…I won’t be burying my nose into anybody’s armpits in this house any more.

p.s.: he’ll hate me if he ever finds out I wrote this post…