December 30, 2010


So I went to the grocery store and somehow ended up with THAT cart. You know the one – it’s got that wobbly front right wheel which pulls the cart to the right as you push it. I told myself it was going to be a quick trip and I could put up with it. It was. I did. But as I left the store and went to my vehicle, I found myself shaking my head. With the badly aligned cart, I actually chose to make the chore a little more difficult and less enjoyable than it could’ve been. I could’ve easily gone back and gotten a cart with better alignment. It’s interesting how important alignment is – ‘the proper adjustment of components for coordinated functioning’. Proper alignment ensures efficient, smooth function and more productivity with less energy.
When you think about it, good alignment is essential to living.
Alignment is necessary with possessions – no one wants the cost of new tires or repairs for a vehicle due to poor alignment, especially when that is totally avoidable. Socially, alignment of values, views and goals allows for better communication, cooperation and productivity. Physically, I know the pain that one’s hip and lower back being out of alignment can cause. Intellectually, alignment of thought in a specific field of study is necessary for learning and attainment of skill. Emotionally, alignment with feelings that are open, caring and the positive is healthier than alignment with feelings of anger, resentment, fear and the negative.
However the most important alignment in life would have to be spiritual alignment.
When you are living your life in line with God’s will, your life – in every aspect – will be perfectly aligned. This perfect alignment brings focus, purpose, contentment, joy, peace that surpasses understanding and blessed assurance.

Psalms 37:4 Delight in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart.

Matthew 6:33 Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

December 28, 2010

holding patterns

I will admit that one of my biggest pet peeves is being put on hold. I can accept that at times it is necessary - a party may have to search for pertinent information or deal with an immediate situation. I have issues with “on hold” when it becomes a state of suspension or inaction with no progress and no change.

As I sat down at my computer to begin writing again, it was with thoughts of life being put on hold with changes and obligations that I have been experiencing. Perhaps at some point, we all feel like life is on hold.
Maybe, it’s more like experiencing a “holding pattern”. A holding pattern is based on a ‘fix’. An aircraft flies towards a fix and once there will enter a predefined pattern for safety until ground issues (runway safety or availability) or weather issues are solved allowing for destination arrival. I find myself staying in a pattern waiting for life’s ground or weather issues to resolve.
However, in this contemplation of being “on hold” or in a “holding pattern”, I see personal progress and action that has occurred – new direction. I haven’t remained in one state or course – hindered or restrained.
So instead of “on hold” or in a “holding pattern” maybe I’ve been “holding the course”. I continue on towards the goal, persevering, being persistent and resistant as I am going. Overcoming detours, distractions, and obstacles, I find forward motion. I see lessons learned and skills acquired. I gained insight. I discovered. I enjoyed moments.

Philippians 3:12 - Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Hebrews 10:23 - Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

November 14, 2010

Game Faces

This weekend held state play off games for a few of our high school’s athletic teams. Our athletes conditioned, trained, studied, practiced and played hard to make it to the top in the state in their division. They are reaping the reward of all their efforts, time and sacrifice. As they go into final games they must ready one more asset – putting on the Game Face.

The Game Face is somewhat of an oxymoron which both conceals and expresses player emotion. Game face comes form any expression held that conceals the player’s emotions. Some players call it the THUG MUG. Others call it the ICE GRILL. Both of these versions use hostility and bravado to block out showing of authentic emotion. And let us not forget the POKER FACE which shows absolute lack of facial expression all together. But is does communicate intention and focus.
Sarah Gerhard (top competitive surfer) said "the winner’s game face is really a mental, spiritual and emotional quest – The minute you get into that zone your whole being, body language, expression and mentality changes. You see that stare, that intensity and the focus."
As I stand still pondering the game faces in these playoff games, it seems obvious that Game Face isn’t solely used as a sport asset. I think people are quite adept at using Game Face in all situations of life:
A leader trying to maintain control throws on the ICE GRILL.
A young person struggling behind the scenes with their home life throws on the GAME FACE in social settings. 
A student is beginning to feel behind – maybe a lack of friends – maybe unsure about the future decides to “man up” behind the façade of the THUG MUG.
A woman deals with changes in relationships with her kids,  friends seem to be distant maybe not quite in the same spot of life she’s in, tired of running on the treadmill of life feeling one step behind on come the POKER FACE.
Each of us has a whole repertoire of Game Faces we could claim.Truth is … Game Faces are bogus. First off – more people that you may realize, as you work so hard to maintain the facade see through it … yep …right through it, clear as day.
Why do we actually compound the weight and effort of maintaining the Game Face façade when it is worthless?
Secondly and more importantly, God has made each one of us uniquely different with our own strengths and weaknesses. He knows exactly who we are. He thoughtfully and lovingly designed every individual with purpose. So Game Face or no – He sees right trough it. He knows you and has confidence in who he made you to be. He uses not just our strengths but our weeknesses.  He gave us others around us to encourage us and support us. He sent His Son to overcome our greatest obstacle and lead us.
Now Stand Still. Look in the mirror. See yourself without any of those faces. Embrace that self. Allow others to know that self; support that self and encourage that self. Turn to His Word for the game plan this self should follow.
His Purpose awaits.

Galatians 6:2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Psalm 100:3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his.

November 12, 2010

Of Serendipity, Coincidence, Fate and Luck

Recently someone’s need, my readiness of circumstance, and timing all came together to bring about an opportunity and change in my life.

‘Serendipity’ was the word someone used to describe the situation as I shared the news. I’ve been standing still in consideration of “serendipity”.
Good fortune; luck; happenstance; coincidence; fate; kismet – all words and concepts that fall with serendipity. I have probably used each of these words. But in standing still with ‘serendipity’ I know that I really don’t believe in a single one of them.
This is what I do believe. There are no such things as serendipity, coincidence, chance, fortune, luck or fate. Nothing happens by accident.
It is Providence.
God in His omniscience provides direction, guidance, causation, benevolence and care according to His will and purpose. He does so for each of us out of great love. Everything happens in accordance with God’s plan.
Our Father’s greatest Providence came through His Son. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, He reconciled each of us unto Himself. This is the purpose of His heart. 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us He “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Providence gives us what serendipity, coincidence, fate and luck never would be able to – a deep and lasting peace, hope and assurance.

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Psalm 33:11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

November 5, 2010

Hearing or Listening?

It was about dinnertime the other night. Kid2 and kid3 were intensely working on attaining the next level for a video game they’d been going at for awhile. Twice I had asked them if they were at a point that they could pause and help out with last minute dinner readiness. I poked my head out from the kitchen into the other room and asked in that firm mommy tone “Did you hear me??” Kid 2 looked over his shoulder quickly and said “More precisely mom – what you might want to ask is if we’re listening.” I raised an eyebrow and cleared my throat at which point the game was paused and I immediately had two helpers in the kitchen.

As I reflect on the past week, I find myself standing still with hearing and listening.
Two words I often perceive as being interchangeable similar in meaning. For the most part, I guess they are. But there is a difference, however subtle. Hearing refers really refers to the more physical aspect of registering sound – to perceive by the ear speech or sound recognition; the faculty of perceiving sound vibrations. Listening has more to do with the attention one gives to that which is heard – to heed; to attend closely for the purpose of hearing.

Standing still I wonder of myself – am I in the habit of hearing or listening? I think that my child’s perceptive comment was a reminder for me. I need to strive for listening each day – be attentive and engaged in my daily interactions with others. I especially need to be listening, not hearing, in my relationship with the Heavenly Father. I wonder how many times He’s raised His eyebrow at the use of my hearing.

Another thought comes to mind that makes me smile – I can know with certainty that God both hears and listens… attentively and lovingly.

Proverbs 1:5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—

Psalm 66:19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.

October 27, 2010

Day after day, after day, after...

Day to day routines. I caught myself again. I could brag that I’ve been multitasking but what is really happening is that I’ve gotten caught in that frenzied pace. Urgency, commotion, distractions and interruptions have grasped a hold. There comes a point when the realization hits that multitasking can become divided attention; distraction can really be procrastination; going with the flow may actually be diversion. I end up succumbing to allowing time to manage me instead of me actually managing my time.

Annie Dillard wrote, “How you spend your days is how you spend your life.”

Days slip by. Days add up. Days define our lives.
So here I stand…still.
I regain perspective. Once again, I realize the need for awareness … the need for consciousness.
When I develop awareness of where moments are being spent and consciously choose how to spend time, I can almost visualize my day falling into line. No more chasing circles. Instead of commotion there exists calm even in the unexpected. Instead of interruption there is continuation and completion. Instead of disorganization there is systematic order.
Days spent this way add up to the life I’d like to spend. This life can be spent with a little more enjoyment, contentment, and personal value. This is the day to day routine I want. The best way to ensure the life well spent all lies with how I focus. If I focus inward – I’ll end up with inattention, anxiety, unproductiveness…(this list goes on). If I focus on the disruptions I’ll end up with preoccupation, commotion, complication…(this list goes on). But if I focus upward, toward the Giver of days and His Will, I will have that life well spent.
I am thankful for the opportunity to live these days- day after day, after …..

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

October 25, 2010


The gift of music touches each of our lives in some way. It has an effect on our minds, our hearts and our spirits. I think the most interesting aspect of music is harmony – the simultaneous combination of tones; a blending of sound and rhythm. Music has always been a part of my life. I spent my youth listening to my mom sing. I loved hearing her sing the hymns at church. She often sang the alto line. I think that is one of the reasons I am able to follow a line of harmony and easily harmonize when I sing. I’ve experienced the joy of singing in harmony with my own daughter many times. I just did so recently when she visited home for the weekend. It is amazing to be singing notes in harmony and experience a resonance that just gives you goosebumps.

I’ve been standing still with the concept of harmony.
After singing with my daughter, I went for an evening walk. I was struck by the fact that harmony surrounded me. I audibly heard harmony in the chirping sound of the crickets at different pitches and the syncopation of a birdcall. This brought forth to mind in general the beautiful harmonies heard in nature. How often have I heard the harmony of the different birds calling at once?
I also think visual harmony exists in nature. I noticed that during my evening walk as well. The light of the setting sun reflects in all the colors of autumn on a single tree – green, red, orange and gold. Standing still with thoughts of visual harmony I can picture the field of tulips that colorfully blossoms every spring at a nearby farm. Also coming to mind is the symphony of color that exists in a mountain field of wildflowers in full blossom on a summer day. All of these bring a harmonious blending and expression of color to the eye.
Standing still with harmony the thought comes to mind that we can possess harmony in our relationships with others. Some relationships have a natural harmony – there is balance in strengths and weaknesses; agreement of personalities; a blending of dispositions. In some relationships we experience unity and being ‘in tune’ with that person. I love ‘harmonic’ relationships that possess cooperation, like-mindedness, rapport, kinship, understanding … tranquility.
Questions begin to surface. What kind of ‘harmonies’ exist in the relationships I have? Do I need to practice ‘harmonizing’ with certain people? Do people perceive me as ‘harmonic’ or ‘dissonant’?

Still standing still…

Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

October 22, 2010


There are those times when I feel the need to be comfy. Sometimes that means putting on sweats and fuzzy socks. Sometimes it means being in my pj’s snuggled in bed with a good book. Sometimes it is curled up on the couch covered by my favorite throw blanket with a fire in the fireplace. And then there is that sense of comfy when I’m snuggled with one of my kids or my sweetheart watching a favorite movie.

We each have those places or things that give us that comfy feeling. Comfy means being at ease; snug; having a homey feeling. It’s restful. It’s safe and secure. Sheltered.

I think we also can experience ‘comfy’ when it comes to people. Comfy people are those with whom you feel at ease. There is a secure feeling of being able to just BE – be silent; be silly; be able to express YOU; have a cry; have a laugh; share uncensored thoughts. Time spent with a comfy person refuels and renews. You come away somehow ‘better’ after each time spent with a comfy person.

The comfy people I have in my life are blessings.
-the fellow mom with whom I laugh over our kid experiences and receive insight
-the prayer sister
-the compassion filled witness/friend that nurtures
-the new friend whose passing smiles and greetings brighten my day
-the gym friend whose positive outlook no matter what life brings amazes me
-the smiling encourager that fills me with laughter and lightens my spirit
-the faith buddy that shares daily positive scriptural messages
-those miles apart but available 24-7… whose voices immediately bring joy and calm
-a fellow blogger sharing grace
-that quirky, insightful, encouraging fb friend
-the 3 blessings doling hugs and maturing into priceless comfy companions
-the old ‘sole’ with whom I walk through life

As I continue to stand still with all things comfy, I become enlightened by and with the fact that I am truly blessed being able to know a particular comfy. I have a personal relationship with God. It occurs to me I have never thought of my relationship with my Lord as “comfy” but I guess it is. My soul is at rest with Him. He gives me security and shelter. I am able to ‘BE’ with Him. He knows my weaknesses, my sorrows, my joys, my hopes and my very thoughts. Yet, He loves me – unconditionally; sacrificially.

I think I’m going to stand still for a bit in this ‘comfy’.

Psalm 119:76
May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.

October 20, 2010

Favorite Things

The Sound of Music is probably my all time favorite movie. I happened upon it a couple of days ago. I watched the scene in which Gretl, frightened by a storm, comes running into Maria’s room followed by the rest of the Von Trapp children. Maria shares with them that when she is feeling frightened or unhappy she thinks about her ‘Favorite Things’. I found myself humming the song this morning and decided to Stand Still with thoughts about favorite things. Thinking about favorite things does brighten the outlook somehow. There’s a warm kind of happiness that follows… good feelings… comfort. A few of my favorite things:

-the laughter of my kids
-the love in someone’s eyes
-a hug
-rolling sound of thunder
-raindrops on the roof
-smell of burning leaves
-the first crack of light at dawn
-a beautiful sunset
-the smell of lily of the valley or roses
-spring blossoms
-fall color
-fresh fallen snow
-baby’s feet
-laughing ‘til you cry
-random stories of an elderly person
-the smell of baked goods or Thanksgiving dinner
-star gazing
-a lazy cup of tea with a good friend
-sitting around a campfire
I turn my thoughts heavenward – grateful to the Provider of all my favorite things. He is the top of my favorite list. The Father… Lord and Savior… the source of my strength, my hope and my joy. I think about my favorite promises He has given. Here I find not just happiness but true contentment and comfort.
Revelations 2:10 Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Philippians 1:6 He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

There are so many more. I think I’ll be standing still a little longer …

October 19, 2010

Root Bound

I am somewhat of a gardener. I enjoy planting, tending, nurturing, and reaping the harvest. I inherited my ‘green thumb’ from my dad. However, my green thumb does not apply to indoor gardening. I like houseplants but unless they are extremely resilient I just can’t keep them alive for any length of time. My husband often comments about how puzzling it seems that I can grow just about anything in my garden and it thrives but any greenery that passes through the door has its days numbered.

Thanks to a brief sentence about repotting a plant in a note from my brother, I think I discovered the key to my indoor gardening dilemma. I learned about plants becoming root bound. I never learned that a plant becomes root bound if it is allowed to grow in the same pot for a length of time. I suppose I knew and heard about this but never appreciated its full affect on indoor plants. In nature, a plant’s root system naturally extends up to three times the length that it grows in height. As plants grow fresh foliage above soil they are simultaneously extending and thickening their root systems. If left to grow in the same space for an extended amount of time, a plant will literally choke itself. This stunts plant growth and potential. Roots also can rot. Plants need to be repotted every 2-3 years to flourish. As you repot, you may need to remove up to 1/3 of the plant’s existing roots and you should break up the remaining root clump to promote health and growth.

Standing still with my latest gardening lesson, the thought occurs to me that I may be a plant that needs repotting. Am I existing in “a pot” that has made me root bound? Is there any complacency causing root rot or bounding happening due to staying in a comfort zone (social circles, parenting, relationally, time invested, self invested, mind set, etc.) that is causing a lack of growth and productivity in my life physically, emotionally or spiritually? Has root rot affected areas of my life? Do I have ‘deadness’ that needs to be removed? Maybe I need to look at repotting myself – even if it causes a little shock to the system, it will ultimately allow me to grow in a healthier, more productive way.

Think I might start looking for a different pot…

1 Corinthians 3:7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

October 18, 2010


We had set out for a hike in the Columbia River Gorge to summit Dog Mountain. The trail offers scenic views of the Columbia River, winding pathways through forest lines, beautiful flowered meadows and from the summit at certain points you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and on a clear day – the top of Rainier. The sights that day were quite beautiful – proclaiming the handiwork of the Creator. There was one sight that stopped us in our tracks and gave us pause. It had nothing to do with the fore mentioned sweeping views. We were ascending through the wooded hillside, walking through tall pine trees. There it stood. A single small maple tree glorying itself in the full ray of sun that shone down through the canopy of the pines that surrounded it.

This little tree had altered its growth in defiance of its surroundings to find what it needed to continue growth. A perfect example of tropism – growth in response to an environmental stimulus (here it is phototropism – growth toward the light). Its tropistic response is a matter of life or death. I find certain aspects of this somewhat amazing. That little tree exhibits resilience, determination, persistence, strength, and perseverance.

I think people can also exhibit tropism. The ‘environment of life’ provides a multitude of struggles for our emotional and spiritual growth. We find ourselves needing to respond with the same traits that little tree possessed – resilience, determination, persistence, perseverance and strength. We need to reach for that which will help us grow in defiance of what threatens. Just as that little tree reached for the rays of light that allowed it to continue to grow – we need to stretch heavenward, glorying in the rays of Hope, turning toward the Light. This tropistic response of our souls will ensure life…eternal.

Psalm 119:130   The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
Isaiah 58:8   Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
John 8:12   "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

October 15, 2010

Making a Living or Making a Life

We are all focused on making a living. Focused on finding a means to support ourselves and our families – a means to provide needs of shelter, food, and clothing. Some people strive when finding that means, and focus beyond - at attaining status and wealth as well.

Right now it seems that people have gone from finding a satisfying career to just finding a job… any job. So many people are struggling to make a living.

I saw a quote that’s got me thinking about making a living as I stand still. Tennis Grand Slam Champ and civil right activist Arthur Ashe said, “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”
Several thoughts come to mind:
-Making a living is necessary but there is a difference when the focus is on making a life.
-It’s easy to become a slave to making a living; losing yourself in distractions, the “urgent” or false fulfillment.
-Making a life brings more satisfaction and contentment than making a living – there is purpose.
-The most giving people I’ve met are those who don’t have great wealth.
- In his book “The Prophet”, Kahlil Gibran writes, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give…
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life,
and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy,
and their joy is their reward.”

As I stand still, questions come – Am I making a life? Time, talent, self, heart, faith – I see these as what I have to share. How else can I make a life? Am I modeling the difference between making a living and making a life to my children? Do I seek guidance often enough as I seek to make a life?

Once again, I need to stand still a bit longer…

Proverbs 11:24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

October 14, 2010

Hearing Voices

I hear voices.

Now that I openly admit it, you can admit it as well. We all hear them.

I hear “THEIR” Voice. The echo of voices of those around us who say things to us like: “You’re trying to do what (translation – can’t be done, you’re doomed to failure)?” “You should…” “You shouldn’t…” “Good luck with that.” “That may be true for you, but in the real world…” “That doesn’t quite flatter you (translation – you could stand to lose a few).” “Hmm…” “Really?!”

THEIR Voice may speak out right put downs or the less than positive innuendo. THEIR Voice is things that people have said that have hurt us and stick with us. THEIR Voice can originate with those we know or even be societal views that negatively impact us.

I also hear “THE Voice”. THE Voice expresses my own doubts, self criticisms, fears and anxieties. THE Voice is often referred to as negative self-talk. It whispers things like: “loser,” “I don’t fit in,” “I sounded so stupid,” “time for the fat jeans,” “why bother trying.” THE Voice is often referred to as negative self talk.

Both of these voices need to be silenced as we hear them. They are unhealthy. I need to remind myself that of all the voices I hear, the only one worth listening to is HIS Voice. HIS Voice comes to me through the Word, through others, and through whispers to my heart.

HIS voice tells me “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”(Psalm 139:14).

HIS voice offers strength - “O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God (Psalm 59:17).” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).”

HIS Voice offers comfort - For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones (Isaiah 49:13).”

HIS Voice gives wisdom – “For the LORD gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6).

HIS Voice can bring peace – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).

Stand still and listen … hear HIS Voice with me.

Psalm 29:4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic.

October 13, 2010

Conquering the Mountain

Took a trip northward recently. Had many views of Mt. St. Helen’s as I traveled. I now view it somewhat differently since this summer. My family and I hiked up to the crater rim of Mt. St. Helen’s. It was a challenging hike five miles up to the crater rim with an elevation gain of 4,500 feet summiting at 8,365 feet. The first part of the hike is two miles through the tree line. The second stage consists of a two mile stretch negotiating through, around and over lava boulders. The final push is a mile long trudge up a slope of ash.

It was a long day. There were some struggles to overcome. There were some beautiful vistas. There were some strong lessons learned. There was laughter. There was fear. There was awe. There was strain. There was rest. There was joy. There was a huge accomplishment!

Throughout our lives there are mountains we face. Mountains we must climb to continue on our journey. Some seem insurmountable. Some we feel we struggle and struggle with as we try to summit only to slide backward and have to climb those same stretches over and over. Some have clouds that have settled in and we have trouble marking the trail. Some take a long time to summit. Some we can conquer in a day. Sometimes we may need help to get to the top. Some we have to climb ourselves.

Sir Edmund Hillary (New Zealand mountaineer who, with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, was the first known climber to summit Mount Everest) once said -

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

This quote is one of my latest ‘AHA’ moments. Standing still with that thought I’ve realized no matter what mountain I’m facing – no matter how menacing, it is myself I need to overcome. My fears, perspective, reaction, anxiety, need for immediate gratification, pride, stubbornness, defensiveness, impatience and more – that slows my progress, holds me back and even deters me from attempting the mountain at times.

There is a realization that the easiest way to overcome myself is to set “me” aside altogether. Conquering is simply a matter of surrendering “me” to One who is greater, all powerful, all knowing and ever-present. Standing in God’s will and in His Word I can overcome my fears, perspective, reaction, anxiety, need for immediate gratification, pride, stubbornness, defensiveness, and impatience.

Any mountain is surmountable. Any mountain can be conquered.

Isaiah 45:2 I will go before you and will level the mountains.

October 12, 2010

when friendship brings grief

Sometimes during my hours as the “mommy-cab driver”, I listen to talk radio. Today I heard a caller expressing grief upon the discovery that the person they thought of as a friend didn’t value the relationship as a friendship. Been there…

I’ve invested in someone, given of myself, given my time, given support and then was puzzled and hurt when efforts didn’t have a return. Learned a few things along the way though:
-Even in the deepest of hurts, it’s good to know where you stand.
-Friendships themselves go through seasons. And sometimes a friendship simply runs its course. Any relationship is made up of two people who are growing – sometimes you grow at different rates – sometimes growth happens in different directions causing some to become different people (can you build on that, sharing and become stronger or are those differences unhealthy, detrimental and divisive?).
-People come into our lives for different reasons and different lengths of time. There’s a great poem about this called “reason, season, lifetime”. ( ).
-You never know from the outside what people are coping with – there are often underlying personal factors and is not a judgment on you.
-People are human.
-It’s okay to have friends at different levels of relation and enjoy it for what it is and who they are.

There is one relationship that will never fail. And that is my friendship with Christ. One that bears grief and pain, shares joys and sorrows, knows your weaknesses and yet loves – a refuge, a solace. It brings to mind a hymn from my childhood. “What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. … Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? ... Jesus knows our every weakness. … In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.”

I wish this friendship for all you friends!

October 11, 2010

Wonder and Awe

I heard someone comment that year after year she is in awe of the beauty of Fall.

I love taking in the beauty of Fall also. But what I find myself standing still with is the word awe – very similar to the word wonder. I think awe carries with it a type of fearful respect and wonder has elements of curious consideration. But both are words to describe an overwhelming feeling – admiration, astonishment, to be impressed, stunned, surprised, to marvel, to find remarkable, to be fascinated.

As young children, we seem to have wonder and awe with the smallest and simplest of things. Now we get caught in routines and schedules. Often we have developed a complacency and take things for granted. Beyond standing still – I want to redevelop that freshness of perspective with which to view even the most familiar of things. Rediscover the daily wonders as I follow routines and schedules. In pausing the moments, allow wonder and awe to bring daily joy.

“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his yeas are closed.” – Albert Einstein

In this single moment, I pause; open my eyes. Wonder and awe.
- There is beauty as the colored leaves of autumn wave from the tree tops reflecting different hues in the sunlight.
- Clouds peacefully float in a sea of blue.
- Smiles and laughter of the kids and their friends.
- The natural symmetry and beauty of a spider’s web.
- Shades of blue in the blossom of a hydrangea.
- The perfection of a dahlia flower.
Awe for creation … Awe for the Creator … a song of praise come from the soul.

Psalm 40:5   Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.

Job 5:9   He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.

October 8, 2010

Happy Place

A friend posted her status on FB asking the question, “If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?” Another way of asking this question might be, “where’s your ‘happy place’?”

We each have that ‘happy place’ inside - be it a state of mind or a place we can picture in our heads – that we can go to in order to find calm, joy, peace and rest. I’ve heard it defined as a mental vacation spot or mental escape.

Stressful day? Bored out of your skull? Pressured? Panic? In turmoil? Tension filled?

Go to your ‘happy place’. It’s a personal place – a beach, a quiet wooded spot near a stream, a wildflower filled field, a snow covered pine forest, or a moment in time revisited. Sometimes it not just a visualization but also mentally perceiving sensations – the warmth of the sun on the skin, a breeze flowing, the coolness of rain droplets, sweet aromas (floral, baked goods, a smell particular to a place) or sounds that drift by (laughter, waves coming in, birds singing, wind whispering).

Close your eyes. Relax. Breathe. See it. Feel it. Smell it. You’re there.

I think there is an innate need in each of us for a Happy Place. That need is physical, emotional and spiritual. We each need the balance, calm, smiles and tranquility that come from going to the happy place.

I have a secret about happy places. I’ve discovered a way to experience more than ‘happy’ in my places. I don’t go there alone. When I go to my happy place, I’m accepting an invitation – “…Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31b). At some point of being in my Happy Place, I breathe and let God’s presence wash over me. I feel engulfed by love (1 John 4:8b – God is love).

Rest becomes restoration.

Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul.

October 7, 2010

Picking ‘em up and laying ‘em down

As I started the wash this morning, I double checked pockets before throwing things into the washer. I smiled as I pulled out a rock. It’s been awhile since I’ve found rocks like this now that the boys are older. I shook my head as memories of family hikes came to thought. Hiking with the kids when they were young was an experience. I would take a pack that had what we needed – water, snacks, first aid supplies, etc. Funny thing though – my pack was always much more full coming in from a hike than going out. You see, the kids would collect all kinds of things, especially rocks. When pockets were full or the discovery was larger than the pocket, mom would end up with it in her pack. If one of the kids didn’t want a jacket after awhile, mom would end up with it in her pack. If a child didn’t want to hold on to their water, mom would end up with it in her pack. The picture is clear.

Standing still with my memories, I think about such a picture relating to this long hike we are on called life. As we are hiking we find ourselves carrying extra “pack items”. Sometimes they are “rocks” we pick up. Sometimes they are things handed to us that really aren’t ours but we take them on. Often we end up with a heavy load – borne with difficulty. It can be oppressive – a pack full of burdens. Some of those burdens are ours to carry. But a great deal of what we have in our “packs” are burdens we weren’t meant to bear. We hold on to anxiety and worry. We jump into situations and battles of others – perhaps with good intentions – resulting in adding strife. Often we over extend ourselves by trying to carry too much at a given time.

Frustration, weakness and exhaustion begin to set in.

At his point we just need to lay ‘em down.

Our Father has promised to bear our burdens with us, to sustain us, to care for us.

I need to stand still a bit longer as I lay a few things down. I invite you to do the same.

Psalm 68:19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens

Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

October 6, 2010


Compassion, kindness, forgiveness, benevolence, favor, tenderness, goodness, generosity, mercy, and love.  Put all those things together into one word and you have GRACE. 
I’ve been standing still with that word.  I almost cannot comprehend that a single word can offer so much.  What is even more unfathomable is the fact that GRACE is all those things freely given – no cost – unwarranted – unmerited.

I would like to think that I exhibit traits of grace.  I know that I hold in my heart those traits and try to express them especially to those dear to me – my husband, my children, my family members and friends.  I would hope that perhaps others are able to see at least a portion of grace in me. 
I recognize though, that I am unable of fully giving grace.  At times the goodness and kindness I have to offer are conditional.  It is easier to show mercy and be benevolent toward those who have given the same towards me.  The forgiveness I give may not be complete as I hold on to the hurt and in a little dark corner of my heart resentment hides.  I’m not always in a loving mood, especially on “those” days. 
That freely given, unwarranted, unmerited part that makes grace GRACE?---- uh little short on that.

There is one enduring Friend who offers grace to the fullness of all measure – heaven reaching out to cover us in GRACE completely.  I am humbled…, awed…, thankful.

Although I am incapable of fully giving grace to others I’ve decided I can
-continue to share the One who is capable of true GRACE; and
-pray that I can reflect to others His GRACE.

Incidentally, as I pondered GRACE, a friend pointed out to me that if GRACE wasn’t enough – as a result of true GRACE we are given peace.  It is the peace that is not of this world (John 14:27); the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).  In God’s Word, St. Paul greets his brothers and sisters in Christ 15 times with “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  God’s GRACE is amazing!

John 1:16   From the fullness of his GRACE we have all received one blessing after another.
Romans 3:24   …and are justified freely by his GRACE through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:8   For it is by GRACE you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

October 5, 2010

Using both oars

We were talking with a neighbor about kayaking.  Growing up in the midwest, the closest thing to kayaking was an old aluminum rowboat we used on the lake.  It’s been awhile since I’ve thought about that rowboat.  When we were young we’d sit next to each other taking an oar and row out onto the lake.  I’m chuckling as I remember that we often ended up rowing in circles because one of us was older and stronger as we handled the oars.  The older or stronger one had to temper their stroke to match that of our partner to straighten out.  Once we were old enough to row on our own, we often still would find ourselves rowing in circles due to a dominant stroke that may have depended on the stronger arm – right or left.
As I stand still, I think that rowing in that old rowboat is kind of a metaphor for life.  And a question arises for me …

Am I rowing straight ahead or going in circles?

In the daily grind, we interact with people on all different levels.  As I work with people, do I sit along side of them and temper my rowing?  I may need to give that other person encouragement, patience, understanding or maybe guidance and instruction so we can pilot our course.  I may also need to be on the receiving end of that encouragement, patience, understanding or guidance which means admitting my own fears, shortcomings or flaws.  Hard work.

Am I rowing straight ahead or going in circles?

When I try to row out into life on my own am I using both oars?  Can I recognize when I’m so focused one aspect of things, pulling hard on that one oar, I’m actually just going in circles wearing myself out?  Or what about those times when I get overextended and I try to row a little to this side and a little to that side, a little to this side, a little to that side?  Progress isn’t really made very well that way either.

What is really needed as I row my boat is a coxswain.  The coxswain is someone who sits in the stern of the boat facing the bow – he steers and coordinates the rhythm of the rowing.  The coxswain is in command of the boat, provides motivation and encouragement, directs and can see all that lies ahead keeping the boat safe.

A smile crosses my face – I have the perfect coxswain.  All I need to do is to listen to His calls.  Acknowledge Him as the master of the vessel.  If I do I will be on course, avoid unnecessary accidents, never get worn out rowing myself in circles and am guaranteed to reach my destination.
I think I’m ready to keep rowing my boat!

Proverbs 3:5-6   Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths (rowing) straight.

October 4, 2010

Mourning the Loss --- and Rejoicing.

Two days ago, a family I am acquainted with experienced the death of their precious and beautiful daughter.  After a long struggle with brain cancer, she was taken into the arms of our Heavenly Father.  Others cannot truly know the loss, the pain… the sorrow in the hearts of this family.  Surrounded by those who love them offering comfort, there is an emptiness, an anxious void, disappointed dreams, tears…

There are no words that can express the loss.  There are no words to take away the hurt. 
Our family knows this.  May 12, 1994, our baby girl was taken into the loving arms of Our Lord. 

Even knowing my own sorrow, I can have no comprehension of their loss – all I have to give this family is very heartfelt, loving prayer.


Your ways are not our ways; Your thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).  We have no words we can say to this family.  But You do.  I pray Lord that You speak to their hearts – through Your Word, through others around them…through the whispers that only You can speak directly to their hearts.  Assure them of Your presence as they feel brokenhearted and crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).  Let them see You, feel You, hear You in a tangible audible and visual manner – ever present, walking through this valley.  In this time of great sorrow allow them to see triumph.  Give them comfort as you proclaim - “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting? …But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57).”  Assure them of Your compassion and unfailing love (Lamentations 3:32).  Assure them that even when they feel nothing but emptiness in their hearts and feel they have no words to pray, you understand and hear for the Spirit prays for them with groans words cannot understand (Romans 8:26).  Allow them to cling to Your promise that you will personally “wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).   As they wonder how to continue, what each day now holds, or what to look for to face the next moment at times – give them Your hope (Psalms 39:7).  Let “your unfailing love rest upon” them as they put their hope in You (Psalms 33:22).  Grant them with the knowledge that pain and healing can exist together.  There can be mourning and rejoicing. 
Rejoicing of what was - there was laughter, joyful moments, memories, hugs, time – although not enough, a life lived, faith in her heart.
Rejoicing of what is – relief, healing, salvation, perfection, joy, love…all of which exists in Your glorious presence. 
Rejoicing of what will be – reunion.
Let them know as Pastor Bill said to us “Our Christian faith has in its heart a song that cannot be silenced, a praise that our tears cannot still.”
I pray this and all the words in my heart that I cannot express in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

October 1, 2010

Truth's found in the garden

I have spent a good portion of the last two days “tending the garden” as a British friend would say.  Truthful translation:  a good portion of the last two days has been spent cleaning, pruning, weeding, recovering and tending to the entire yard which was left to languish the past month and a half due to neglect.  In my defense there has been little time between family events, taking Kid1 to college, the start of school schedules, sports schedules, youth meeting, parent council, etc (please feel free to add to my list of excuses).

As I worked I found quite a few spiritual life parallels and truths:

-There are so many weeds and pests that can invade the garden – choking, sapping, stunting, killing growth – if we are not attentive in care.
-Weeds are sneaky – they slink in, grow quickly and spread even more quickly; it’s easier to catch them as you regularly weed rather than deal with the overwhelming bunches that have taken root.
-Sometimes the garden needs to be pruned, cut back, in order to bring forth optimum growth and fruitfulness.
-There is a proper time for everything; a time to plant, a time to nurture, a time for pruning, a time to reap and a time to leave fallow.
-If a plant has strong deep roots, it can withstand the dry season.
-The gardener will harvest what is planted – he can’t expect anything else.
-The yard work – “gardening” – is a lot easier when it is a collaborative effort (people working together, sharing the burden, encouraging one another, sharing knowledge and experiencing together the joy of the harvest).
-Just as we need to take time to tend; we also need to take time to enjoy the beauty and produce of the garden.

I know I had other insights but these are a few that stuck with me.  Stand still for a minute in your “garden”.  Share what you find.  I’d love you to be part of my collaborative “garden” crew.

My prayer today is for those gardening – may you find your field ripe and a harvest waiting.

John 4:36   Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
Galatians 6:9   Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
James 3:18   Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

September 30, 2010

Counter Culture

Looked at some pictures of this summer when we took a few days to get away as a family and visit California.  We had a few hours one day and decided to head to the beach – choosing Venice Beach.  T and I had gone to Venice about 20 years ago.  I remembered an off beat place that offered more than just a spot on the beach – street performers, market stalls and especially the artists that you could watch as they used their talents and created original crafted works.  Well…Yeah.  Not sure if it was one of those cases of selective enhanced memories but..uh..20 years allows for a lot of change.  Off beat went to counterculture; street performers went to hawkers and hustlers, market stalls went to tourist traps and although there may have been a handful of artists there were mostly knick-knack novelty “what in the world” not quite crafted … “items”.  I’m not even going to mention the ‘ads’ for medical marijuana and incense sales.  Maybe we’ll just consider this a familial lesson in counterculture.
Pondered that term for awhile and stood still with it. Counterculture – values and norms of a group that run counter to those of the mainstream of the day; rejecting or opposing the dominant values and behavior of society.
My realization – I am counterculture.
The social mainstream of our society today encompasses relativism (all things are gray there’s not right or wrong; we each have our own truth), promoting secularism, places value on aesthetics, strives for status, emphasizes monetary gain, encourages living beyond means, rewards non-productiveness, promotes “tolerance” and… you get the picture.
Me – I believe there is such a thing as right and wrong, absolute truth, intrinsic value and reward, productiveness, work ethic, living within one’s means, and tolerance in the true sense of the word (to be fair, to be objective, to endure NOT to accept, to condone or embrace – to say it’s all equally good).
Standing Still with things, I think about how Christ was actually counterculture and that the world honestly hasn’t changed when you look at the larger picture. 

Yep, I’m counterculture and I have and will continue to teach my kids to be as well! 

1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

September 29, 2010

Screened Calls

I was spending time with a friend the other day.  During the course of conversation she voiced her feelings about people screening their phone calls.  From her point of view it simply is rude and frustrating.  I bit my lip, took a breath and - with what I’m sure was somewhat sheepish look - I stated, “I’m one of those people sometimes.”
Some calls are just plain irritating – sales calls, political calls, survey calls.
Sometimes it’s a bad time to talk.
Sometimes I might be in the middle of something and I just can’t get to the phone in time.
Sometimes it’s a matter of priorities (mealtime, helping with homework, etc.)
Sometimes it helps to know who’s calling so you can be in the right frame of mind to deal with an issue or a certain person.
Unless the call falls into that “irritating category”, I do get back to the caller – hopefully no one is ignored.

I know that I’ve been screened.  I’m okay with it.  My worth lies not in being deemed important enough to merit time and attention.  My worth lies in who I am.

I will say if one of my kids calls I drop everything to answer that call.

I too have a ‘parent’ that will drop everything to answer my call. My Heavenly Father doesn’t screen any of my calls. There’s no voice mail that I’m sent to.  I’m not on some B-List for priority in being heard or answered.  I am His kid- loved and redeemed.  He actually waits for me to call to pour out His love and He answers giving measure according to the fullness of His grace; blessings beyond expectations and belief.

John 1:16   From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.