What’s in a Name?

Inspired by our ever changing society and the way we as humans grab at the “quick fix” and forget to seek real change through Christ.

Much ado is being made today

On the subject of branding and mascots,

As we squirm in the spotlight

Of our less-than-exemplary days.

Fiddling with age-old monikers,

Wielding a heavy broom at the past,

Banishing chapter and verse,

Seeking to make vanish

Anything remotely troubling-and fast!

Understandable? Well, yes, I can get the desperate acts of contrition.

Yet, I feel compelled to express this cautionary addition…

What exactly is in a name?,

(As wise old Will might say.)

To be sure, some rightly evoke

Centuries of grief and plenty of pain.

And it’s certainly not that I stand

Stubbornly in the camp

That such words should forever remain…

But, still, I find I must also say-

All this panicked wiping away does

No earthly good

If the heart forgets to further pursue

What it should!

For, you can change a name all you desire,

Take a scrubbing brush to history,

Sand out the surfaces of blame,

And hope ugliness will expire.

You might even extend a

Well-versed,

Expertly rehearsed apology.

But, none will ever wash the years of shame

Nor fix a broken philosophy-

Especially if we allow ourselves to plunge from one dissonance to another,

Refusing to embrace the opportunity afforded

By the Lord to lift us

From opposing forces to brother.

For what we ought to ask,

Perhaps,

Is- what’s in His name?

Meekness.

Power.

The ability to bless.

The sin-cleansing shower.

What’s in His name?

Well, friends, that’s called change.

Real change and healing.

And only in Him will ever come the

Much-needed, ever-alleviating rain.

Oh, nothing can ever replace that feeling!

May we seek after that real change in a world addicted to quick fixes. Blessings and prayers, friends! Thanks for reading! ❤

Iron Sharpens Iron at the Family Table

Coming back following holidays left my mind tired yet full. This thought rose above others tonight…

Sometimes, it’s difficult to be with family after a long absence.

Well, duh, Captain Obvious. 🙄

It’s also difficult to leave them when time draws nigh.

Also pretty much a well duh statement. 😏

There are the numerous delights and countless challenges alike to our spirits in coming together after extended months apart.

You’re no longer a child and your tendency is to attempt earnestly to prove it, all to varying degrees of success.

For, there is also the something of being in their midst that pulls you back to that place of littleness compared to the elders in your life.

In my particular case, there’s a lot of shadows to that former existence, some areas stepped into tentatively, others not at all.

Apprehension can seize my soul if I don’t take care to surrender it to His hand.

Now, forgiveness has been flowing in abundance among us for decades now, and, yet, must still rise up to be met again in entering into one another’s presence.

Past is not swept under any rugs, by any means, but, in looking back, love softens the edges of the pain.

Hearts don’t necessarily forget all the twinges, but they do connect afresh through the knowledge Christ makes all things new.

Including each other.

And, then, we get to share that newness of being. What a wonder that is!

Thoughts fly back and forth across the table. Struggles are examined in a different light, growth is noted, wisdom imparted.

Each moment, both the tender and the hard, threads itself to the ever-changing tapestry of our existence, tethering us tighter together.

Iron sharpening iron sounds sort of scary at first glance, but, how it shows itself in our lives can be incredible.

Home can be a great place to see this at work, for you get to surprise each other with what God’s given us to bring to the table.

You get to witness the learning you each have done and become that safe place to reach across said table with it.

It may not exactly feel like light family fun at times, yet these times the Lord affords us to deepen our walks, both with Him and with one another, are vital.

Hence, the observation at the beginning.

Difficult to be there, difficult to leave…

But, this truth I hold fast to to keep me going:

God grants us fond memories to soothe the bittersweet and carry us through to the next day we meet.

In Him, we are never truly apart.

I hope your Thanksgiving was a blessed one, dear friends. May we ever seek those iron sharpening situations, whether by family, by friends, or both.

Gratefully His

I have had many a lofty thought rolling around in this old brain lately.

Lots going on in this world to inspire a lot of pondering, to say the least.

Yet, I find the moment of putting pen to paper…oy, showing my age here- 😏

I should say, putting fingers to keys- everything I think ought to be said vanishes like a puff of wind.

Therefore, I will leave aside all more ambitious thoughts and adhere instead to what I feel He wants me to say as we gear up to a busy and bountiful week.

I just want to say how grateful I am to be His.

The idea the Lord of this vast universe takes note of a humble speck like me is absolutely…

Astonishing. Just, well, astonishing!

May I never cease to be in awe of this fact!

The grace He bestowed on us through Christ’s death and resurrection is absolutely the most beautiful truth in this life.

That He has allowed me to partake of it overwhelms my heart.

I am grateful for the people He’s planted next to me to share in that truth, the love He graciously pours out through them, the dear, growing, learning, amazing children He entrusts to my hand.

For blessed forgiveness, both the opportunity to extend it as well as to receive it.

For the incredible miracle that is simply redeeming the time.

For second chances.

And forthieth. 🙂

Because, boy, do I need them!

Furthermore, I am grateful for this welcoming place of fellowship and you wonderful folks who share in this pursuit of the written word with me…

As well as in pursuit of His word with me!

So, in this spirit of gratitude, I say thanks-for writing your terrific and terrifically challenging posts.

Thanks also for reading mine. ☺

May your Thanksgiving be joyful, surrounded by His love and goodness.

Prayers and blessings to you, dear friends!

A Time to Refrain

There is a time for everything under heaven, according to Ecclesiastes 3:1.

But, the knowing of what to do and when is sometimes like peering into the fog.

Everything is murky from intentions to executions thereof when mist shrouds judgment.

Such has something in my life been of late…

This situation, of which the particulars matter not here, has arisen of the longing to help an individual who is in desperate need.

Frankly, I was not first to see it. I, shamefully, had to be dragged kicking and screaming into it.

Mostly for the fact pieces of said situation pierced at tender points in my past.

Causing surprisingly bitter rancor to ooze out as a result.

After all this time and all these years…

It tasted terrible!

Would that I had immediately spat it out as such, but there is something about resentment.

It’s hard to extract once begun.

So, some of me feels I should do penance, so to speak, for having the capacity yet for such hateful thoughts.

I should care more, I chided myself recently.

I worked on caring more.

Time and again pleading with the Lord to take away the acidic sensations inside, to replace it with the compassion I knew I ought to have.

I did things I didn’t necessarily feel motivated to do for this individual but knew needed to be done, praying my feelings would fall in line with this painful obedience to His call.

I struggled and strived to yank back the drapes tightly held on my soul to begin letting this person in, to open the door for my dearly loved partner in these mercies to move more freely, as he wished.

Then, just as I began to feel like we were all rounding a corner, unhappy truths began to stare me in the face.

Inklings I had had instincts on, but feared to voice out of a sense it would just be my mixed emotions talking, or, at least, be perceived so.

Yet, red alerts would continually blink at me none the less.

I gave them over to God, begging for wisdom, only to take them back, fretting my way through them for a while before beginning the process over again.

Finally, I surveyed the need and the recurring cancer of it despite all our efforts, and saw clearly what God was telling me.

It was time to refrain.

Not for my petty complaints. Not out of spite.

But for the sake of this individual who took our help, our love of the Lord, and seemed to accept it.

Yet, enacted no lasting change.

Not for herself or for those the Lord entrusted her with.

So…just this week came a time to put one foot in front of the other, take some needed actions, and put some distance between us.

But-

Without the shadows of anger humming over us as before.

Rather, with the Lord’s love and prayers between us.

My heart contracts with the heaviness of it all.

After all, God does direct us to answer need when it’s right in front of us, does He not?

Yet, there does also come that place when we must recognize assisting has tipped into enabling, leaving help a rather moot point.

And, for the sake of love, He directs us to walk away.

I pray this is a not-for-always.

I pray the seeds planted will still one day sprout.

But, whether it is us or another to do the watering, I cannot say.

Only the Keeper of Time has it all in His hand.

The whens, whats, and whys are all there. We need only trust the Lord in the fog and He will make it clear.

In His time. 🙂

Prayers and blessings, friends! May we all seek to hold on to Him and allow Him to direct us through all our various times.

We’re Fighting the Wrong Enemy

I feel like I might be harping on this issue, but it’s what He’s placed on my heart…

Even in my somewhat limited scope of living, I hear and read so many things from fellow believers:

“If only so-and-so group would stop doing this, we (Christians) wouldn’t have to do this.”

“If that wasn’t happening over here, we wouldn’t have to do that over there.”

“We have to mobilize ourselves.”

“Fight fire with fire.”

“Get stirred up for a cause.”

“Take down the enemy.”

Wait…what?🤔

Now, which enemy is it that you refer to?

“Well, the other side, of course.”

Ah. The other side.

The nameless, faceless amalgamation that stands for everything you do not.

That enemy?

Yes, keep them in that clumped up category to make it more palatable:

The liberal.

The neo-Nazi feminist.

The tree-hugging, seal-cub-saving, vegan toothpick.

The hateful Atheist.

The snowflake millennial.

The lisping fruitcake.

I could go on tossing out cruel, pointless stereotypes, but, that’s belaboring the point.

Which is that every one of those groups, the groups we as Christians often deride and label oh-so-conveniently are not just collective groups across the divide.

They’re people.

Individual people with names and hearts and dreams and vulnerabilites.

Created by the same Creator as us.

Souls for whom Jesus died, same as us.

Souls He expects us to care about, even when they answer with vigor.

And it’s not our job to fight them, no matter how much we might disagree with them.

They are not our enemy.

That designation belongs to he who is in the world.

Remember? The one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy?

The prowling lion, seeking to devour?

All too often, we believers forget that, standing idly by, hurling our useless words at the ones being devoured instead of addressing he who devours.

And don’t you think the devil loves that?

For he knows it does nobody any good to stand there stomping our feet and shouting at these misguided souls to stop letting the lion devour them.

Especially if we get so busy on that particular bent that we lose sight of sharing the way out of the lion’s jaws-the truth found in the Word and the grace Jesus provided through the blood He shed on Calvary!

Satan delights for us to forget that key!

Now, this is not at all to give the tired, off-the-mark argument of “judge not lest you be judged.” That verse gets misused way too often to excuse all sorts of rampant, ungodly behavior!

No, we must remain firm in our stance for Christ and in the Word.

But, that stance must always, always be in love or we’ve lost our foundation.

It isn’t to say all will answer our love with gratitude.

Most assuredly not!

But, it isn’t for us to fret on that score. Do we really think God does not have it all in hand anyway?

Of course, He does!

All we can do is prayerfully, humbly tell the good news of salvation as He instructs us and then leave it in Hands.

If we could only use our desire to mobilize for that!

Another thing to pray for, I guess.😉

Of Trust and Forgiveness

Thanks to my dear brother-in-Christ David Ettinger for stirring my heart on the direction to head next here…

Trust.

A very difficult matter in my soul.

Has been since I can remember.

Being a four-year-old girl and already so unsure of your world you don’t really let anyone in is not the sort of thing one likes to spend a lot of time talking over- though I have written of it in blogs and book past. 🙂 ( Hello, old friends. You might remember some places where I’m going to go. I’ll try to add fresh perspective here.)

I haven’t brought it up in this venture much yet for reasons I’ve alluded to before.

But, today, in participating in a great and challenging discussion about Joseph and his brothers, my heart felt a pull towards discussing a bit more about the issues of trust and forgiveness.

Particularly, how they have manifested in my forty-plus years experience on this earth.

So, for testimony’s sake…back to that little girl. I hope I can make this concise enough. So much to tell…

I can’t quite remember the first time my mother turned on the sudden switch and took out her displeasure on me verbally and physically.

That part of my past is more a patchwork quilt of living, ragged at the edges, wild, screaming colors representative of the tough days, some muted squares for the quieter ones.

All I knew was what the proverbial eggshells felt like to walk on from an early age.

I tried very, very hard to be as good and unobtrusive as I possibly could, tucking myself away with my older brother most of the time, asking for as little as possible.

Dancing lightly around the edges of the days she poured out unexpected affection, taking it as a momentary relief, but being sure to remind myself it wouldn’t last.

In the midst of all this, my dad was on the road working, home some weekends, very much aware of us and yet…not.

They’d take us to church a lot of Sundays, various non-denominational gatherings that leaned heavily on “experiential” services.

Somewhere in there I did hear about Jesus loving me. I prayed a sinner’s prayer once with a Sunday School teacher, a prayer I didn’t fully grasp then, other than that I was full of intense longing for this unconditional love thing they spoke of.

And wondering how it could possibly be real.

There wasn’t much discipleship to assist with that, honestly. Mostly, a confusing jumble of “laying on hands”, urging for the further “baptism in the spirit”, and the occasional Bible story from my dad when he could be home.

I wanted to believe this Jesus was doing a work in me, but, like most of my world, my understanding was just…unsure.

So, that is how I grew up, mostly ducking in the shadows. Not much changed for quite some time. By middle school, church was something fading from our world after a sour experience at our last go-around with attendance.

Sometimes, my dad would play a B.J. Thomas or Sandi Patti record and I’d hear God’s name. I’d remember He was supposed to love me. But, honestly, I struggled to feel it in the midst of the pain.

Thoughts of suicide crept in, though I can’t say courage to carry it out then was there. I really just wanted someone to see me. Anyone.

Then, low and behold, my parents started to go to a new church. Still very much in the charismatic vein, but, they didn’t make my brother and I go this time.

And something in those services resonated with my mom. We never sat down for a big conversation in those days, but, by the time I hit high school, the abuse began to fade away.

It was surprising, to say the least. Yet, I remained wary. The other shoe always, always dropped. If I put my guard down, she could blindside me.

However, my dad did finally persuade me to attend a few services for myself, hoping, I think, that this would help us all heal. My brother, for his part, was having none of it. Felt weird to break from my loyalest friend, but go I did.

Yet, where I so wanted this to be it for me, I couldn’t find my fit. Between the heartfelt worship still came too many unusual practices I could not figure out for the life of me.

Maybe it was doing my mom and dad good, I thought at the time, but not me ( Charismania is a whole other ball of wax for another post, by the way. I’ll delve into it further down the blogging road for any wanting a more detailed perspective.).

So, out of that came my “pinball” years, ricocheting from that bewilderment into the relationship that would become my first marriage, attending a few different types of churches with him, in some still feeling a disconnect, but one in which I can say Jesus did become real to me at last, thanks to some very loving mentors.

Forever grateful for the tender way they took a wounded girl and showed her the grace of the cross in a way no one ever had.

But, still, the man who’d be my first husband and I were prone to drifting and, honestly, dragging each other down. Egos and lack of trust kept getting in the way of growth in the Lord and in our relationship.

Eventually, after a few bounces, we began to give heart and soul into his desire for youth ministry, hoping that would give us much-needed stability.

But, three kids (one still in the womb) and nearly complete studies later, the strains of our all-too-often emotionally stunted existence had collapsed us.

He found comfort in someone else’s arms and the kids and I were left behind.

And a lance stabbed through my ability to trust in love once again.

Suicide’s dark spector revisited in earnest, but, blessedly, not for long. Because, Jesus was there, too. Only a whispered prayer away.

My desperate prayers, yes.

But not mine alone!

My mother and father were on their knees, too.

As well as by my side, scooping up the grandkids and me with more overwhelming love than I had ever known from them.

My wariness took time, but, finally, it began to melt away and forgiveness began to bloom.

Need has a way of threading together healing in broken hearts.

On this point, the story of Joseph and his brothers resonates with me.

“Though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good…” Gen. 50:20

For it was need that circled all the pain of those years back around and knit that family back together, too.

All those thousands of years ago, and God is still the same.

Still about the business of reconciliation-when we give our hurt over to Him.

If you find yourself hurting and just need someone to pray with you, send me an e-mail via the info page.

God bless you!

Light Switch in the Dark

When you’re in a dark place, it’s hard sometimes to find the light switch.

It could be right next to your hand and still, you could fumble for so long just trying to find it.

For the dark can be disorienting.

Enveloping.

Convincing you it’ll fasten on for good with its unseen claws and smothering armhold.

Depression is like that-

It’s something I am rather well-acquainted with after my 40-plus years and many miles on this earth.

I could and have pointed to the varying circumstances in my life as to why I have spent so much time in the pits.

The world and even many believers would nod their heads as I shared about the physical and emotional turmoil of my youth.

They’d be breathless as I told the tale of a ministry dream robbed, a marriage betrayed, and a mother of three left behind.

Of discovering special needs in my children, of scraping poverty, of the pain to rebuild a life, remarry, and reimagine…

Heck, it was enough to write a book.

And I did…once upon a time. Printed and everything. 🙂

But, where I wanted and still want to testify to all the pits He rose me from, I don’t want to necessarily linger in those stories anymore.

For in lingering comes the temptation to wallow.

And wallowing never helped a Jesus girl grow up in Him.

It’s not that it’s “put on a sunny fake smile for the world, deny sorrow, and then cry to myself.”

Been there, done that, worn the ugly T-shirt. 😏

No, rather, it is an unflinching acknowledgement of the fact depression is there.

Going to be there.

Woke up with its grayness this very morning.

Where one would wonder if trust in Christ has made any difference if I still have that going on, I’d have to say I can actually understand why.

Aren’t we Christians supposed to float on a carefree bubble singing about how happy we all are? 🙂

But, there is a difference and it comes in this:

I own the presence of depression, it doesn’t own me.

God’s the only owner I desire.

And then, of course, there is the giving over every mucky emotion to Him. Nothing can be accomplished without it.

As many times as I need to throughout the day. Thank you, Lord, for never wearying of it.

This difference also means not pummeling myself or making myself feel less a Christian for not being able always to “put on a happy face”.

Scripture is packed full of evidence Christianity is not all skipping down a pretty, rose-petal path, anyway.

As well as reminders joy is not the same as happiness. Happy dissipates when circumstances sour, but joy?

Well, joy is our strength, that which abides beyond the temporal overhang of darkness.

In our core of cores where we know Jesus lives, hope eternal and wellspring of life.

And that will never dissipate.

So, where I could resist these harder emotions or just sink down in them, I choose neither.

Instead, I allow for the tears, navigating honestly, reaching beyond what I can’t see here on earth for what I know to be true in heaven.

I snatch out in the dark for the Word and for heartfelt prayer, knowing He is right there next to my searching hand.

Always ready to help me find the light switch. 😉

If you find yourself in the dark, please feel free to contact me via the info page. Prayers and blessings to you.

Fish Out of Water

Sometimes, it’s hard not to feel the strain of being in this world, but not of it.

It’s like being a fish out of water floundering in a very murky sea.

Everyday, in dozens of ways, we are assaulted by those things that grieve our hearts and stir in us a disgust for the dirt of humanity.

It becomes easy to choke on that smog.

For the air is heavy with others’ collective soot, yes.

But, perhaps more importantly, with our own.

There’s an undeniable burden of duality in knowing our own grime exists and the deep despisement of it.

It is that which Paul refers to in Romans 7: 19:

For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

Sigh. A lot to relate to there. A lot of grunge in these old palms. 😏

But, lest we sink in the discouragement of this dust that we are made of, there is a blessed hope to remember.

Where the inevitable decay of our bodies and souls began way back in Eden the onerous day of the fall, hope began as well.

The bright promise of salvation, embodied in Jesus Christ, completed on the cross, through His resurrection.

This amazing, crystal-clear, life-giving grace to breathe in.

A forever-in-His-presence to rest in, a face-to-face to look forward to for all eternity.

And the free will to choose it.

For we must choose this incredible gift in order to receive it.

And, hence, in the power of choice comes joy, but, also, sadly, what we see so much of in society today…

The choice to turn backs on the gift, the choice to revel in the filth instead of lifting our dirty hands to God to wash them.

A hard thing to witness on a daily basis, a hard thing to keep our hearts free of.

But-

Thanks be to the precious Lord who does not leave us to fend it alone, that guarantees this present muck is all just temporal!

That one day, for all who trust in the cleansing found in this sea of grace, we will be doing eternal backstrokes, free and easy, no longer hampered by this world.

What a strain-lifter off of weary shoulders that should be for all who believe! 😊

Blessings to you friends! If you have questions about salvation, see my info page and shoot me an email.

Loving the Unloved

This title?

It would seem to be fairly obvious.

A straightforward request from our Lord if ever there was one.

Love one another.

Yet, in our human hands, how mangled and mismanaged it becomes…

Mostly, because we all seem to have our own set of stipulations:

“Today, I’ll love this guy lining up for soup over here because he looks like he wants to work, that cute little foreign girl on the charity ad over there, and that group of “troubled” teens that comes on Wednesdays, as long as they mostly listen and do the whole pitching in bit. Oh, and, of course, my Bible study buddies. Because they look and talk in ways I am comfortable with.”

You know, the ones to love that don’t take much effort?

Ouch. Yes, that was me feeling the convicting kick in the tail end…😉

Uh, oh. Pick myself up, dust myself off…

More to come…

Yes, the easy ones…

Yet, what about when it comes to that politician whose policies are, well, ungodly?

The audacious reality star who shamelessly thrives on the spotlight, no matter what sins it shows up?

The rich corporate guy who seems interested in only lining his pockets that much more?

The deeply disturbed instruments of satan that unleash mayhem and murder in our cities?

Well, then, love is the last thought on most of our minds, right?

Oof. Told you there was more. 😉

Oh, I know it’s hard. I know how hard. I don’t imagine many of us ponder such grave thoughts too often.

So, well aware I inhabit a rather small group here in even bringing it up.

And, in the interest of assuring you that I don’t consider myself in some rarified, holier-than-thou role, 🙄 let’s bring this out of the abstract, into the perhaps more relatable day-to-day.

Without a long spiel, I have had a lot to forgive in my day:

Childhood abuse, a first marriage abandoned, friendships gone awry.

And I’ve seen incredible restorations in some situations, still in prayer for others.

Beyond that, there are a few souls in the here and now He has placed in my vicinity I can admit a reluctance to let in.

A row of people, honestly, that I would dearly have loved to not be asked to love.

And, yet, He’s asked me.

He asks us all.

And why?

To scold? To punish? To crack the whip of suffering and shame?

Oh, no.

It has nothing to do with those things.

Rather, it is a reminder of His greatest gift to us:

His love, poured out on the cross, that we might experience salvation.

Life eternal, despite our raggedy, dirty sin, something all of us have. ( And cannot make lesser than our neighbor’s sin, try the comparison game though we might. 🙂)

And, when we remember that, keeping redemption in the forefront of our minds, the resultant outflow ought to be forgiveness where needed and… love!

Love for our fellow man, desirable or not.

Seemingly pristine or not.

A palatable picture of need or not.

Of course, the kind that doesn’t excuse transgression, dismiss you to doormat status, or promote easy believerism, but also the kind that reverently covers a multitude of sins rather than rubbing their noses in it.

That cares enough to pray that these desperately lost find the same cleansing and healing we have known in Jesus’ arms.

A challenge indeed! But one when surrendered to Jesus-as all needs to be- that is well worth taking on.

Prayers and blessings to you, my friends. May we keep fighting the good fight of faith.

And, if you’ve stumbled on this place and have questions about the Jesus I write of, see my info page for how to get in contact. ☺