Fearfully & Wonderfully

March 24, 2017 — 2 Comments

Recently, my oldest child joined AWANA. For those of you unfamiliar with this program, it encourages children to memorize Scripture while at the same time playing games and learning more about God. One of her Bible verses was Psalm 139:14a – “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (ESV). Although I have heard this verse countless times, it took on a new meaning when I heard it out of the mouth of my three-year old because as I have matured, I have realized the beauty of this truth, and how few people actually embrace it.

Part of what it means to be “fearfully and wonderfully made” is that God has given us unique talents, skills and opportunities. He has not made you to be someone different; instead He has formed you to be who He intended for the purposes of His Kingdom. He desires to use you in a way that He doesn’t intend to use anyone else. Ephesians 2:10 says that He has planned out the “good works” that we are to do. This means that my job is not the same as yours. And just as He has created you “fearfully and wonderfully” for what He has called you to do, so He has created me. We are different partly because God intends to use us in different ways.

Of course the temptation is to compare assignments and capabilities, giving truth to the old saying “the grass is always greener on the other side.” We may look at the family of God and wish that we had someone else’s role. But imagine what an affront that must be to God! He has given us the privilege to be used by Him – and equipped us to His work – and yet we want to argue over who gets the better gig.

Instead, may we all rejoice that God has gifted us in unique and purposeful ways. And may we use what He has given us for His Kingdom’s purposes. That others may know Him more, and that His name may be praised.

People often want to convince us that it is what we do that counts, and that our thoughts and beliefs are secondary. However, throughout the Bible it is made clear that what we think about forms what we do. Therefore our thoughts are not inconsequential, but instead have primacy in determining how we behave and the person that we become.

Romans 12:2 tells us that when our thoughts are transformed by the wisdom of God, we will have discernment into what please Him and therefore wisdom about the choices that we make. This is why it is imperative that we fix our thoughts on Him – after all, the Christian should desire that every choice we make brings Him glory and praise.

May our minds be fixed on Christ and may all of our lives bring Him the honor He so richly deserves!

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2 (ESV)


Weakness & Strength

March 22, 2017 — 4 Comments

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)

Starting something new can fill one with a variety of emotions. You may be eagerly looking forward to what the future has in store, or you may be concerned about whether you will be able to tackle the challenge successfully. You may be filled with hopeful anticipation, or you may already be concerned about the work you will need to do. In addition, there is the rest of life to consider – with unpredictable twists and turns that may weigh you down.

Regardless of whether you are approaching a new season with joy or with trepidation, followers of Christ can be confident that whatever the future holds, that He will prepare and provide for what lies ahead. In 2 Corinthians Paul reminds us that it is when we are most aware of our own inabilities, that we are often most prompted to rely on God.

In the good times and the tough times, may we be fully dependent upon God for your strength, guidance and perspective. And may we be able to join Paul in saying, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Five Years Later

April 8, 2015 — 6 Comments

Five years ago my dad received his ultimate promotion. In many ways, it is hard to believe that it has been five years. His presence is still so pronounced, his absence is still so significant, that it is easy to think that he has merely been gone for a bit, but his return is expected soon. Conversely, a lot has changed since he has been gone. In just my little family, my husband has earned a master’s degree and started a new career; we have two wonderful children; we have sold and bought a house, and our lives have changed in a myriad of small ways that would be unfamiliar to my dad if he were to suddenly reappear. Along the way, families that we love have experienced searing lost and we have cried with them – not only because we grieve their lost, but because we have a new understanding of the ache that resonates in their bones and the hole in their hearts. Yet, it has been a good five years. We are older, wiser, and five years closer to joining my dad in eternity.

As I think back about how these five years have shaped me, what I wrote about grief one year after our good-byes still reflects many of my thoughts. And yet, there are additional lessons I have learned as my dad’s Homecoming is further in the rearview mirror. Here are some of them:

  • Time Changes Wounds – As I previously wrote, I am a firm believer that despite the prevalence of the adage that “time heals all wounds” – it is just not true. The loss of my dad is still painful and I imagine it will be until I am in glory. He was such a force in the lives of all who knew him, that it is impossible to not acknowledge and mourn his absence. Yet, while the pain is still there, it is not as jarring as it once was. Sure, there are moments where it still takes me by surprise, but overall, his lost is like an extra appendage I carry. It is there, it is heavy, but I have adjusted to it. The wound is not healed (nor, quite frankly would I want it to be), but a “new normal” has risen alongside it.


  • Make a Difference, Make a Mark – When my dad passed away, my mom asked people who attended his memorial sentence to write down words that described him. The goal was that the grandchildren would have a way to learn who  their poppa was. What I have realized is that each of those words represents a story of how my dad made a difference in someone’s life. People don’t primarily remember someone’s character traits; they remember how those character traits changed things for them. We talk a lot about “leaving a legacy” when you are gone. I have come to learn that legacies by and large are not made be sweeping gestures or overwhelming personality. It is the moments of “tiny” impact – of being the person that God has called us to be and loving Him and loving others – that forge a legacy that will stand.


  • Remembering Matters – Every year one of my friend texts me to acknowledge the anniversary of my dad’s passing. It is a relatively simple and unassuming gesture, but it means so much to me. In the months that followed his death, as people went on with their lives, there was the tendency to feel like our family was in our own little world with our grief. The text that I receive each year reminds me that others carry the burden too. They help me know that, while grief is not a shared experience, and our family is forever changed, our brothers and sisters in Christ are there to help us along the way.


  • Keep Your Eyes on the Prize – A sweet friend from church recently buried her husband. In her blogs and social media posts, she often reminds us that we are one day closer to eternity. It is a great acknowledgement that regardless of what the day holds, we know this – for the Christian each day is one step closer to the day when we will be face to face with our King. This should prompt us to make the most of the day – knowing that the things that matter will be the things that matter in eternity. And it should cause us to look at the inconveniences and hurdles in life in light of the reality of God’s ultimate plan. The day may be difficult, the journey may be hard, but for the Christian, respite is promised and assured. This may not change our circumstance, but it should change how we consider and approach it. Our pain may not lessen, but we can cling to God’s faithfulness to as we grieve.


With all that has changed over the last five years, it can seem like my dad has missed out on so much. Yet I am confident that from his perspective the last five years have been just a blink. My dad’s passing was a loss for us, but a gain for him.  He had finished what God had called him to do and heaven was his reward. Five years later we know that as long as God gives us another breath to breathe there is still work left for us to do. May we faithfully do so, until that day that we are with Him.


The Long View

February 27, 2015 — Leave a comment

There are many joys of being a parent, but there are also many hard lessons. Some of the lessons come from learning what not to do the next time around. Some of the lessons come from seeing your own sin tendencies in living color as you watch your child succumb to the same temptations as you.

Recently, I was reminded of this as one of my children protested rather dramatically after having taken a bath. The child was cold and uncomfortable and from her limited perspective, the discomfort was not going to end anytime soon. I knew that the situation was momentary; soon she would be warm and cozy and ready to conquer the day. Telling her all that though fell on deaf ears. She knew that she didn’t like the current situation and she wanted me to change it…stat.

While I certainly understood my daughter’s desire to get warm (and quickly), I couldn’t help but smile a bit at how limited her viewpoint was. I had the larger perspective and I knew that if she trusted me, all would soon be made right. She didn’t need to worry or fret (it wasn’t going to change the situation anyway.)  My past faithfulness in this regard should have been enough to calm her fears. My legacy of love and provision should have squelched the anxiety she felt. She had every reason to believe that I would take care of her, and no reason to believe differently. Yet, in the moment her loss of control overwhelmed her confidence in me.

Despite my smiles at the absurdity of the situation, I couldn’t help but also experience the twinge of conviction. How often does my behavior mirror that of my child’s when God places me somewhere that I am experiencing uncomfortableness or pain? How quickly does my confidence erode when I don’t see any benefit to my current despair? When I recognize that my control is limited and my future unclear, do I carefully recall His past perfect provision or instead do I anxiously protest and complain?  God’s remedy may be moments away, but am I so busy seeking my own solution that I neglect to take solace in Him?

Too often an examination of my life would find that my response and my daughter’s is pretty much the same. Instead of trusting the One who can see not only my present circumstance but also my future condition, I let the fear of the unknown overrule my thoughts, my heart and my response. I plead and complain – desperately wanting things to change – without acknowledging the goodness of His yet-to-be revealed plan. My perspective on the current situation is unclear; why wouldn’t I rely on the One who not only knows today, but Who also holds the future in His hand? He has the long view in mind, and from that perspective He can see just what I need, both now and in the moments ahead.


Sweet Sorrow

February 26, 2015 — Leave a comment

It was William Shakespeare in his play “Romeo and Juliet” that popularized the idea that parting could be “such sweet sorrow.” The phrase, uttered between two lovers as they prepare to bid adieu to each other for the night, reminded us that while good-byes are necessary, they hold within them the hope of when we will see our loved ones again. The anticipation of being reunited can mingle with the despair of separation, and something that is at its essence sad, can be marked by promise.

The last few weeks have brought this phrase to mind repeatedly because, as God ordained it, three people that we know have passed away. Two of them were young men in their thirties who left behind young sons. Another was a mom, seemingly in good health up to the moment of her death. These were good-byes that you did not anticipate. These were deaths in which no “plausible” explanation can be given. Medical opinions aside, it has been hard to grasp the reasons that these individuals are no longer with us. From a human perspective, it just doesn’t make sense.

However,  despite the lack of clarity, one thing that has been made evident – all grief is not the same. There is a different kind of grief when a Christian passes away. The pain is no less real; the gaping hole is just as wide. Yet, despite this, there is an assurance, a confidence that this good-bye is one that can, on the perimeter, be characterized as “sweet.” The farewell is not permanent; the separation is not forever. In anticipation of when we will see our brothers or sisters again, we grieve, but not without hope (I Thess. 4:13). We know that our Redeemer lives (Job 19:25), and we can boldly look froward to that time where we will be united with Him and reunited with those in faith who have gone before. Every day that passes is a day that brings us closer to that Day. There is sadness, and it is deep, but the grace and love of our Father can fill it with peace.

It is hard to say goodbye to those that we love. It is difficult to imagine a “new normal” – a life where they aren’t in it. But the Christian knows that life on this Earth is merely a vapor; hope is not to be found in it but in the One who conquered death to bring us true life with Him. And when He calls us Home, the pain of sorrow will dissipate as we experience the sweetness of being reunited with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we rejoice together in the presence of our Lord.



The Pride Fight

February 25, 2015 — Leave a comment

It can creep up on you without notice.

And yet sometimes it smacks you right in the face.

It can convince you that everyone feels this way.

And it can tempt you to think in your case, it is o.k.

It can seem like a pebble, barely worth paying attention to.

Then it can become a boulder that brings you down.


It is such a sneaky sin. Just when you think you have a handle at staying humble, the reality of your self-concern is brought to the forefront, making you understand that even in thinking that you have a grasp on humility, you are really just exercising the same haughty muscle in a new way.

Whether its the fact that your inner self objects when someone else receives a compliment you don’t think they’ve quite earned, or your quick to add your own child’s accomplishments to the one-up-manship game, the tendency to be self-concerned can not be ignored. And as justifiable as we might think it is, God makes it clear –  Pride is antithetical to a relationship with Him (Ja. 4:6). If we are so busy thinking about our desires, skills, and plans, we certainly do not have our focus on Him.

And that’s the real problem with pride. It takes my eyes off of the Savior, and puts them on the sinner. It shifts my attention from things that are eternal to what is temporal. It prevents me from looking heavenward, because I am too busy looking at myself.

Which is why I must fight it. Every day.  Although my victory may be incomplete this side of Heaven, the fight must wage on. Sure, over time, my punches may land a little more squarely in its face. I may learn how to bob and weave more deftly to avoid its attacks. But it will always seek to gain the upper hand. I want my hands, however, to be lifted in daily surrender to my Lord. So I fight. I fight to think of myself less, and to think of Him more.


Growing Accustomed

February 24, 2015 — Leave a comment

Last year, my husband and I moved into a new house. God graciously provided us with a chance to get a little more space, which included a yard for our growing family, and we were overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift. A year before we couldn’t have anticipated that this provision was part of His plan; His generosity and kindness to us were evident.

When you move, they say that you grow into the space you have. Although at first it seems like you will never be able to fill the new square footage, you soon realize that the challenge is not as difficult as you once anticipated. It is easy to think that it is because we have also added on to our family, but I know that in reality that is not the case. Even without really trying to, there is a propensity towards accumulation. What once seemed like an abundance, can quickly seem insufficient. It is easy to think about what you have, what you would change, and what no longer seems ideal once its your daily experience.

Although there may not be anything wrong with pondering what you would do differently, I fear that often when we do so, we show that the gratitude which at first overwhelmed us has dwindled. Human beings are surprisingly resilient, but one of the shortfalls of this resiliency is that we quickly become accustomed to the gifts that God has given us. What was originally a daily reminder of God’s kindness can become a benefit that we ignore. What we once couldn’t anticipate can become an expectation.

The challenge is to maintain a heart of gratitude for the generosity shown towards us even when we experience that same generosity day in a day out. It’s the same reason that I teach my child to say “thank you” every time I give her a snack. She may be completely confident by this point that I will not let her go hungry, but I want her to know that every good gift is worthy of appreciation, to the person from whose hands we receive it, and ultimately to our kind Father.  When we grow weary of giving thanks, it tends to lead our heart towards sin. When we forget that we are owed nothing, and yet God graciously gives us so much, we tend to grow discontent.

There are many things that God has given us that we are now in the habit of receiving, and as a result we have grown accustomed to their presence. May we not let their prevalence in our life be an excuse to not give thanks.  Instead, each time that we experience that same good thing may our heart be filled with the same level of gratitude as it was when we first received it. Instead of growing accustomed to the gifts, may we become habitual at giving thanks.



Minding the Moments

January 22, 2015 — Leave a comment

The other day I was struck by the fact that in less than 16 years my oldest child would be a legal adult. When I shared this realization with my husband, he smiled amusingly, probably thinking that this was only something that a mother would consider a “short time.” Although I realize that many people have children that are much closer to being on the brink of adulthood it nevertheless caused me to pause. It seems only a short time ago that we were coming home from the hospital and with the lightning paced that the past two years have flown by, I can only imagine that the next 16 will be gone before we know it.

While there is a part of me that it sad at the rapid growth of our daughter, rationally I know that this is a good thing. A parent wants their child to grow, develop, and eventually enter the great big world as a responsible adult. However, this realization prompted me to recall again that the moments are fleeting. I will never have another “today” with my children. The days that seem so long will be gone before I know it.  Every moment counts, even the seemingly insignificant ones, because there are no “do overs” in the sands of time.

This means I want to take every opportunity that I can to teach my children – not just what it means to be a responsible adult, but what it means to be a person who solely depends upon God. When we hear sirens blaring in the distance, I want to stop and remind them that we need to pray for whomever the emergency personnel are rushing towards. When something unexpected and inconvenient happens, I want to demonstrate my confidence in the One who orchestrates the setting of the sun and the dawning of the moon, knowing that what happens to me is not outside His hands. At the start of the day and at the end of the day, I want my life to be replete with gratitude for all that He has provided and all that He will.  I want my moments to be filled with lessons – both stated and observed – of what it means to live a life for the sake of eternity.

Of course, it would be tempting to try to contrive these moments. But kids, even when they are 16 years away from becoming an adult, are remarkably gifted at seeing what’s authentic and genuine. Therefore, the best way to ensure that my kids learn the lessons I desire is to conform my life to the aspirations for them. While this won’t make the moments past by any slower, it will help ensure that each moment is spent mindfully.

Minding the Moments

Fear & Love

January 21, 2015 — Leave a comment

One of the beautiful things about Scripture is that you can read the same passage year after year and still learn something new from it. The depths and richness of the Word of God means that there are always new treasures to uncover; there is always new lessons to be learned.

Recently, the reality of this was brought home to me as I read through Matthew 10. In verses 26-33 we have recorded two familiar passages. In the beginning of this section, we read of Christ’s admonition to His disciples regarding the proper perspective on fear. He teaches them that while the world may fear those who have the power to kill them, they would do well to instead fear the all-powerful and all-knowledgeable God – the One who has their present and their future in the palm of His hands. In the adjoining verses, however, we stumble across another familiar section of Scripture when Christ talks about the Father’s care for His kids. He reminds the disciples that God cares about the sparrows that fall; He certainly is concerned with them.

Reading this passage it may seem like an odd juxtaposition. Just after Jesus talks about how people should fear God, He talks about how much God loves them. Right after He warns them regarding their eternal destination, He encourages them about their Earthly care.

While it is tempting to see this as a dichotomy, I don’t think it is. Instead Christ is concisely revealing two marvelous aspects of Who God is. God is awe-inspiring and majestic; and God is loving and kind. God is the proper object of our worship and allegiance, and He is the only conduit of true love.  Our eternity is in His hands, and through the nails that pierced His skins, He provided a way that we can spend eternity with Him.

In our humanity we tend to emphasize one aspect of God over another. We exalt His justice or we revel in His love. Jesus taught us that both these things are true of God, and because of it, we should fear Him, and rest in Him all at the same time.


Fear and love