Monday, October 31, 2011


Today I found myself re-reading, for the hundredth time, a favorite little book by Phillip Keller, called “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”. Keller, a former “keeper of the sheep” and a lay pastor, lovingly paints a picture of what a good shepherd truly does for the sheep under his care.

One of the most poignant and, simultaneously, hilarious descriptions he gives us is that of the 'cast' sheep.

According to Keller, a cast sheep is one that, for any number of reasons, ends up on the ground, belly up, all four legs flailing in the air, unable to get up, unable to help itself in any way. While the picture it evokes is pretty funny, Keller explains that a sheep in this position is in imminent danger of death. The center of gravity in its world has shifted and it literally cannot stand up. It cannot help itself. If the shepherd doesn't find it on time, it will die. It is desperately in need of the shepherd's intervention if it is to live.

Keller describes how, as a good shepherd, he would peruse the sky constantly, anxiously searching for any sign of buzzards circling over a fallen sheep. If there was even one missing, he would leave the rest and search for the one that was lost. Finding the sheep that was “cast down”, the shepherd would gently stand it up, lovingly reassure the terrified sheep with words of affection and calling it by name, he would rescue it and restore it to the flock. The lost sheep needed to hear the shepherd's voice and feel his touch to be fully reassured that he was safe and in the care of the shepherd.

This story made me laugh at the thought that we are so often like the cast down sheep, lying on our backs, unable to help ourselves, completely terrified of the buzzards that are circling overhead. We cannot help ourselves. We are totally dependent on the Good Shepherd to come after us, to rescue us, to calm us down, to reassure us that He loves us and is watching out for us.

What about you? Are you down and don't have the strength to get back up? Are the buzzards circling overhead? Are you lost? Are you terrified of what might happen next?

Do you know the Shepherd? Do you hear His voice? He's calling your name. He has you in sight. He's coming after you. You are the one He's searching for, the one He wants to rescue. You are the one He will rejoice over, throw a party for, and carry home on His shoulders. You are the one...

Scripture Reference: Luke 15: 4-7

...And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost! I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rivers of Joy

Many years ago, when I was going through the heartache of a painful divorce, a very dear friend gave me a wall plaque with the words “The Joy of the Lord is your Strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)  I wondered what in the world that meant to me, as I struggled to come to terms with the harsh realities of divorce and single parenthood. Joy was the last thing on my mind.

I dismissed my friend's gift, deciding that, although she meant well, she just didn't have a clue what I was going through. On the contrary, she most certainly did. She saw the pain written all over me and came to me in a spirit of love and generosity that was so characteristic of her as a friend. She sat with me, and she cried with me, deeply joining me in my grief. But, she refused to leave me there.

She called me to come out of my despair and self-pity and choose instead to “Count It All Joy.” (James 1:2)

It's easy to embrace joy when everything is going right, the sun is shining, we are healthy, the bills are paid, and life is good. But, what happens when life “blows up” on us and everything is up for grabs?

Life can change in an instant. We get a dreaded diagnosis from the doctor, we lose our job, we lose our house, or, worse yet, we lose someone we dearly love through death or divorce. Where is the joy then?

In my own life, these kind of crises have visited me more than once. Ever so slowly, I have learned that I could choose to be buried in the grief and pain - or I could choose joy. I could pray that God would fill me to overflowing with His joy, in spite of the circumstances. That He would surround me with friends that wouldn't allow me to sink into self-pity. I could pray that He would draw close to me and, especially in those painful times, 'The Joy of the Lord' would be my strength...

I have found Him to be faithful, beyond measure, to answer those prayers. He knew, as my friend did, that I would have to choose joy in those moments when I would rather not.

My friend lovingly called me out of my misery to look for my Redeemer. She taught me not to bury all of life's goodness in the grave of despair. With a gentle push to look to the Lord as The Source of My Strength and My Joy, she taught me to listen for His still, small voice, over the screaming voices of pain and heartache.

It is so often in the middle of a heartbreaking or frightening crisis in my life that I hear Him calling me to come a little closer and let Him carry me into the River of Joy...

Scripture Reference: Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is in your midst,
The Mighty One will save,
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love...”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

You are the Light of the World...

When I read these words, spoken by Jesus,  I am tempted to look around to see who it is He must be talking to!  Surely, it isn't ME?!  I think He means YOU!  That would make me a lot more comfortable, thank you very much!  

Of course, like you,  I never fail to be charmed watching a children's choir of little angels singing "This little light of mine - I'm gonna let it shine!"  Aren't they adorable?!  Please don't get in my way, though, when I'm jockeying for position to get a picture of my little darling in her big moment!  I might knock you down or, at least, push you out of the way.  You understand, right?! A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!  Surely, you don't expect ME to "let my little light shine"?!  

When I take a serious look at what Jesus was saying in this often quoted, too often ignored, verse in Scripture, I discover it follows the amazing teaching of Jesus that we call 'The Beatitudes'.  Tough stuff to live up to for most of us.  Right before He speaks these words to us, He tells us bluntly "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets before you."  Matthew 5: 11,12

There He goes again, ruining the moment!  I just want to skip that whole part and land on the harmless and sugary sweet sentiment of my little light shining!  But He brings it into focus.  He's asking for a willingness to be drastically different than the culture around us.  He's asking for a willingness to be bold about being identified with Him.  He's asking us to choose Him at the risk of being made fun of, ridiculed, even persecuted because of our relationship to Him.  Oh.  That's a different story!  There He is again.  Jesus being Jesus!  He's just so all about that cross thing!

I don't know about you, but, I'm not into persecution!  Or even ridicule for that matter!  I'll take a pass, OK?  I'll just try to melt into the culture, shop 'til I drop, revel in my "stuff" (that's what Americans do, right?) and avoid anything that smacks of a sacrifice in my life.  After all, having all this stuff is clear evidence that God loves me!  He's blessing me, because He loves me!  But, what was that about "Blessed are you when they persecute you..."?  How could that be a blessing?  Could Jesus have been wrong on this one?!

In America, we have a very hard time wrapping our minds around what the 'blessing of persecution' really means.  We don't like to look at the pictures of victims of torture and martyrdom of so many followers of Christ around the world.  It makes us uncomfortable. It rocks our boat.  And, you know, I, personally just don't have time to think about that stuff.  I have a million things to do!  I'm getting ready for Christmas!

We have to ask ourselves, why is the church in America stagnant?  It's uncomfortable to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, who are we serving, really?  Is it Jesus who calls us to a radical identification with Him, even to the point of strong opposition and sacrifice?  Or are we rejoicing in the "blessings" of a materialistic, self-serving culture?  Like the old "To Tell The Truth" t.v. program, I think we have some impostors in the room!  Will the REAL BLESSING please stand up?! 

Something tells me we are like the frog kissing the cook and thanking him for putting him in that pot of nice warm water. He's relishing his swim.  Until, too late, he realizes he's being cooked for dinner... 

Scripture Reference:  Matthew 5: 14-16

"You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's Gonna Be Alright...

I love the childlike beauty of this artwork and the simple message of faith and hope that is in the music by Sara Groves.   This is for all of you who are going through a crisis, large or small, that shocks you at times and at other times scares you half to death. Holding on to Faith is sometimes hard to do when we're scared, or sick, or out of a job, or grieving the loss of someone we love.   In those moments of fear and dread of what's coming next, how much we need the faith of friends and family to surround us and lift us up in prayer to the Source of our Hope and Strength. Because, sometimes, we're just too weak to do it on our own. Scripture Reference: 1 Peter 5:7  NKJV "CAST ALL YOUR CARE UPON HIM, FOR HE CARES FOR YOU."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Outrageous Love

The reality of sin in my life came home to me again today. How about you? Is it a reality in your life, too? Does it sometimes threaten to bury you? Or at least, to derail you from any thoughts of serving the Lord? I'd like to tell you no, I don't have that problem. But, that would be a lie. And we all know what that is! Truth to tell, though, I don't like the whole concept of sin. It humbles me and teaches me my dependency on God.

These are radical thoughts in our sophisticated, modern society. We are encouraged to pretend sin doesn't exist anymore, if it ever really did. But that's not what the bible tells us. It calls sin what it is and lays it on the table for all of us to see!

There are so many stories in the bible that show us the reality of sin in the lives of the people of God and their complete dependency on Him for forgiveness and restoration. I revel in these stories! So many sinners! They were far from the perfect little cardboard characters you and I would probably create if we were telling the story. But, God shows us their weakness, their depravity, their sin in all of its ugliness. And then He shows us, He loved them anyway!

We all know about Moses, the great leader of God's people. But, before God rescued him, Moses was a murderer and a coward, hiding in the desert for forty years. Or David, an adulterer, murderer, and liar, pretending he was God's man until confronted with his sin. Or Paul, a self-proclaimed murderer and persecutor of the church. Paul never got over the reality of his sin and the forgiveness of his God.

Of course, women were no strangers to the sin game. How about the woman caught in adultery, the demon possessed Mary Magdalene, the bitter Naomi? I love that the Word of God spares none of the ugly details in telling us about His people. By far, though, my favorite sinner of all time just has to be Peter.

Here was Peter, one of the closest confidants of Jesus for three years; the first to declare that he knew Jesus was the Son of God; the one who walked on water with Jesus. But, then, we see Peter taking Jesus aside and REBUKING Him! How out of touch can you be?! Poor Peter! It's Peter that brings forth the stinging rebuke from Jesus: "Get behind me Satan!" It's Peter snoring away under the moonlight as Jesus sweats drops of blood a few feet away, on the night of the crucifixion. It's Peter jumping up out of his sleep and, full of his usual bravado, chops off the ear of the soldier. It's Peter, scared to death of being associated with Jesus, who denies he even knows this Jesus guy, not once but three times! It's Peter punctuating his words with swearing just to make sure everyone believes - he NEVER knew the man! It's Peter staring into the eyes of Jesus from across the courtyard, realizing the full weight of his sin.

It's Peter hiding in the Upper Room, afraid that he might meet the same fate as his friend, Jesus. It's Peter unable to forgive himself for his failure to follow Jesus, like he always said he would. It's Peter ashamed to look Jesus in the eye after the Resurrection.

It's Peter that Jesus sees hiding in the corner, buried in self-condemnation. It's Peter that Jesus reaches for and still loves, in spite of his sin. It's Peter, breaking under the weight of the love of His Redeemer that accepts His forgiveness. It's Peter who understands finally that he is a sinner in need of a Savior. It's the love of Christ that sets him free.

How about you? Do you ever find yourself hiding in the corner, ashamed of your sin? Do you ever struggle to forgive yourself? Do you believe that He loves you in spite of your sin? Is He calling your name? Has He set YOU free?!

Scripture Reference: "Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:36

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Out of the Pit...

I knew a little girl once, growing up in poverty. She didn't live in China or Africa. She lived in the United States of America. I know they say poverty doesn't exist in America. But I know it does. I've seen it with my own eyes. Maybe you have too. Maybe, this little girl lived right down the street from you...

You might have seen her on her way to school. She had big holes in her shoes. She made cardboard cutouts to fit inside the shoes to keep the cold and water out. She really didn't even have her own shoes. Her family couldn't afford them, so she wore the shoes her sister had outgrown. You could tell they weren't hers. They were two sizes too big for her. Her hands and face were always a bright cherry red in the dead of winter. She didn't own a scarf or gloves.

She always went to school hungry. There was nothing to eat for breakfast before school most days. Many nights, her mother fixed bread and butter sandwiches with a bit of sugar on top for dinner. That kept the wolves at bay. Her mother didn't "work". Unless you count the eight children she was struggling to raise. She wasn't a single mom. She had a husband. It just didn't make much difference. He was a young veteran who had fought in the war and then returned to a country that had no job for him. He sank below the poverty line and took his family with him.

Most nights you would find him trying to bury his fears at the corner tavern down the street. She was often told to "Go get daddy." Mommy needed him. It was a frightening place for a child of eight to enter. It was so dark. So noisy. So many men talking funny and looking at her in strange ways. Like any child, frightened by a world she didn't understand, she searched for the safety of her father. She didn't care that he seemed not to recognize her when she found him. She didn't mind that he walked funny and leaned on her when they were walking home. She was just happy she had found him and he was coming home.

When he did come home, though, he carried his fears with him, along with his anger. Rage really. Sheer rage. All the hopelessness and despair of not knowing what to do to care for his family erupted in an out-of-control rage that threatened to crush the life of this family. Life is overwhelming in these kind of circumstances. Especially, for a child.

You may have guessed by now. Yes, I was that child. It was a difficult and, sometimes, terrifying way to grow up. I don't share this with you to evoke your sympathy. But, to simply say that, into the midst of this despairing and angry world came Jesus. He walked right into the darkness and fear and plucked that little girl right out of the enemy's hands and claimed her for His own. Another time, I'll have to tell you how that happened. But, for now, I just want you to know. He came after me and sought me when no-one else knew or cared how lost I was. If He did it for me, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt, He will do it for you.

There is no place too dark, too dirty, too poor, too ugly, too anything, that He will not go to find you. He loves you. No matter what...

Scripture Reference: Psalm 40: 2

"He brought me up out of a terrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps."

Christian Hymn: "He Hideth My Soul" by Fannie Crosby

"He hideth my soul, in the cleft of the Rock
that shadows a dry, thirsty land;

He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand..."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fingerprints of God

I love the unabashed beauty of the Fall! You can have the Summer - even the Spring! To me, there is nothing like the beautiful season of Fall.

Nature dresses up in crimson and gold and struts it's stuff in a defiant shaking of the fist, as if to say - 'You may think I've died, but, do not be deceived - there is a Resurrection coming!'

I see the fingerprints of God everywhere I look in this breathtaking display of His majesty. He's in the beautiful, golden and rose kissed maple tree that sheds its leaves in full obedience to the Master's hand. He's in the chilly winds that trumpet their warning - winter's coming - better be prepared... He's in the rustling breeze, the bonfire at the park, the last dance of the sun before it goes to bed for another winter. He's in the giggles of children dressing up for Halloween. He's in the apple pie that's baking in the oven - the first chili I make to greet the changing season, the hot chocolate and marshmallows I fix for a treat.

Do you see Him winking at you in the extravagant beauty of the world He has created for your pleasure? He's painting the sunset for your delight. He's dancing on the wind. He's singing His love over you today. Listen closely... Do you hear His still small voice?

He's saying, "Look for Me. I'm hidden in the beauty of all you see. I made it all for you. I love you. I love you. Never forget, I love you..."

Scripture Reference: Psalm 19:1 NKJV

"The heavens declare the glory of God..."

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Bag Lady (Reprint!)

I had only known her a short time, but we were instant friends. I was brand new to the church I was attending; she a founding member from way back. I was really very shy - she didn't seem to have a shy bone in her body. I was trying to find where the Lord was leading me - she was certain she was called to the mission field - in Romania of all places. She was well over 50 years of age. I watched incredulously as she began the preparations for her missionary journey.

She was just a little, middle aged, mother and grandmother. She didn't strike me as the "world traveling" type. She wasn't what I would have called daring. I loved to watch her sitting in the pew on a Sunday evening with her little granddaughter asleep on her lap. She always brought her granddaughter, who always slept through the whole service, resting in the secure knowledge of her grandmother's certain love.

She had never been outside the United States. She would have to go through at least a year or two of training and fund raising before she could embark on her journey. She was a bit like Moses! Called late in life; not sure of herself at all, but determined to follow His call.

I was with her the day she departed from O'Hare International Airport for the long trek to Romania. So were her daughter and little granddaughter. We drove to the airport attempting to hide the tension that dripped from every corner of the car. When we arrived at the airport, she began to unload bag after bag after bag of her belongings into a cart to drag across the airport to the gate where she would depart. She was laughing. We were trying not to cry.

After trooping all over the airport to find the gate she needed, she stood at the ramp to get on the plane, waving to us with a cheerful smile and blowing kisses to us all. I could not believe what I was witnessing. I found myself averting my eyes from her children - this was really a sacred moment in the life of this family as they said goodbye to their mother and grandmother. There were no tears. It was as if she was going shopping at the mall and would be back by evening's end. It was surreal.

Here was a woman, old by most standards of our culture, saying goodbye to the dearest things in the world to her. Her daughter, whom she described as "owning her heart". Her granddaughter who was like gold to her. My eyes could hardly take in the scene I was watching. Everyone said their controlled goodbyes, she disappeared into the belly of the plane and we walked in silence to the car for the long trip home without her.

I sat in the front seat as we entered the stream of endless cars fighting for a position in line to get out of the madhouse that was O'Hare Airport that day. Surrounded by a silence that enveloped us like a shroud, I wanted to get home as quickly as possible. Suddenly it happened. An ear piercing cry from the backseat shattered the silence and the pretense that this was no big deal. Her dear little granddaughter could no longer contain the pain of "losing" her grandmother. She cried inconsolably all the way home and rocked back and forth trying to fill the gap of her grandmother's arms around her.

There it was. The truth. All pretense was gone. Shattered by the love of a child who couldn't play the game anymore. She had just said goodbye to someone who loved her more than life itself. There are no words to console a child in that moment. I knew this had been excruciating for her and for her grandmother. I imagined my friend, alone, heading to a strange place so many miles away from home. I imagine she too cried on the plane - all the way to Romania...

I have never forgotten that day. She may have looked like a little old "bag lady". But, in truth, she is probably the most courageous person I have known in my lifetime. She just loved Jesus. She 'counted the cost' and willingly paid it all. I still stand amazed.

Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with a friend like this. She has witnessed to me a love for You that knows no bounds. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.

Scripture Reference: Mark 10:29

"I assure you of this. Anyone who leaves house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children, for My sake and for the Gospel, will receive in return a hundred times as much..."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Bushel and a Peck...

I wrote this recently for a dear, dear friend who is coping with her second bout of cancer. I used to sing this sweet children's song to my granddaughter to calm her down to rest or when she had just awakened and was disoriented.

Really, that's just the way we are sometimes as grown-ups! Life can be terrifying sometimes. We see 'lions and tigers and bears, oh, my!' and are just plain scared about what's coming next. Or we are going through a painful experience that we weren't prepared for and we so much need the reassurance that we are not alone. We need the sweet caress of the Father, loving us, comforting us, holding on to us.

That is my prayer for you today, dear friend. May you know, no matter what you're going through, that The Father has you. He is able to keep you. Rest your head on His shoulder and let Him carry you. You were never meant to do it all alone...

A Bushel and a Peck...

"I love you. A bushel and a peck. A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!"

I smile to think of the Father singing it to me today. He's swinging me in His lap on
the porch swing. It's a beautiful fall day right before winter blows in. I snuggle closer to the warmth of Him. His arms are holding me. His voice is singing over me. His eyes are smiling down on me. He starts to laugh and pulls me close for a whisper just between us. "Do not fear little one. I have you. You are safe..."

I look into His face and see His smile. In that moment, I let go of all my fears. The Father's love surrounds me. No matter what's coming, He has me. I am safe...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

He Counts the Stars

She sits by the window and waits to see my car in the parking lot. Before I get to my apartment, she is on the phone to "check" on me. I am tired. I am not in the mood to be needed by anyone but me tonight. I call her back and try to rationalize that I have done what was required and I can go about my business now. But, I can't ignore the aching loneliness in her voice. I take a deep breath and tell her I will be right down. I want to see how she is.

At 75, a widow and mother of an adopted son who never comes to visit, she is, like so many today, abandoned when she most needs to be loved and cared for.

I have only known her for a couple of years, and yet, I seem to be her closest friend. I smile patiently as she tells me the same story for the hundreth time. She lives in the past victories of her life. That's so much easier for her to think about than the painful realities of her life as it is today.

She falls repeatedly. This time she cracked her head open and spent the night in the emergency room getting stitches in her head. Last Christmas, she broke a bone in her back and 3 ribs. I realize watching her that I have come to love this dear, frail, sickly woman like my own mother.

Instinctively, I reach for her and beg her to listen to her doctor and use a walker to protect her from falling. My emotions catch me by surprise. I hate to cry in public, but here I am with tears coming unbidden into my eyes. With a voice shaking with the sudden realization that she may not make it through another winter, I tell her, I just don't want 'anything' to happen to her... She sees my heart and smiles at the love that is on display toward her. She reassures me that she "isn't going anywhere" - she has decided to live to be 114! She's just "too ornery" to die!

But, God is whispering to my heart - she is close to the end. He invites me to be faithful to stay close to this little lamb that the Shepherd sees and loves and wants to bring home. Witness to her, Maureen. She needs her Savior.

I hate the pain I see all around me. So many people are hurting, wounded, abandoned, alone. Why? Does God see? Does He care? Really?

He speaks to me of the depth of His love and understanding for my friend and others like her who are suffering. Some physically, some emotionally, some spiritually. He leads me to the Psalms, where I always find Him comforting and loving me with His Word, spoken to a broken and wounded world. I find myself grasping onto the promise of His Word in Psalm 147: 3-4

"He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up all their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name..."

My dear friend isn't abandoned. The same God who "counts the stars and calls them all by name" is right there with her. And you. And me.

I commit you to Him tonight. He sees you. He loves you. He will meet you in your every need...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


My two little granddaughters were visiting this weekend. They love to curl up on my bed in the morning and settle in for tickles and giggles and stories to tell. I don't know who likes it more - me or them! This past time, I watched as my seven year old played with one of her latest Barbie dolls - a birthday present from her grandfather. Her sister, at age eleven, is beginning to question the impossible standard that she sees embodied in Barbie. With a clear and honest observation of the contradiction between these dolls and what she sees all around her, she tells me flatly, "I don't get it. Nobody looks like that!" This little girl is growing up! I imagine to myself, what would Barbie say, if she could climb out of her plastic body, move her plastic lips and tell us what she thinks of her world. It might go something like this.

Would you stop looking at me, already? I hate the way people are constantly gawking at me. Little girls want to grow up to be just like me. Little boys hope they get to marry their own 'Barbie Doll' some day. Let me tell you, it is no picnic being Barbie! For over 50 years now, I haven't had a decent meal, EVER! If I gain an ounce, I've been told - I'm out of a job. And I cannot afford to be out of a job. Do you realize how much money it takes to dress like this? I set the standard, they say. Everyone wants to look like me. For my entire life, I haven't been able to age a day. That's right. No fat, no wrinkles, no laugh lines, no grey hair...No life. I wonder what it's like to laugh so hard your belly hurts. To smile so often, your face gets lines? To cry when it hurts instead of pretending it never does? To know that even when you are old and grey, you are loved by your Creator? To know that it's OK to admit you're not perfect. You don't have to be. God loves you just the way you are. I can't imagine that kind of freedom. Don't ever trade it for a cheap imitation.

You know what I wish? I wish I could trade places with YOU. I would do it in a minute. Just for the chance to be real...

Scripture Reference: Psalm 139: 14 "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."

Monday, October 17, 2011

In My Father's House

This has not been one of my better days. I planned on writing this first thing this morning and here I am at day's end, just getting to it. Pretty much anything that could go wrong, has. On days like this, I struggle to maintain my composure to fit the well constructed view I have of 'what a christian woman SHOULD be'! Do you have a list? Here's some of mine.

She should ALWAYS be demonstrating the Fruit of the Spirit. Oh, dear, blew that one! Where's the patience hiding? Not to mention the self-control! That went out the window first thing this morning! Joy? Not today, thank you, very much. Peace - what's that? Who could have peace in the middle of this chaos? Long Suffering? Why would I want to do that?!

Winding myself up in knots, I took my complaint to the Lord. He sat down next to me and listened to my list of grievances against His expectations of me. Just not fair. I can't do this. I'm having a bad day. On and on I went. He waited for me to come up for air and then smiled that smile that always breaks my heart with His love. He pulled His chair up close to mine and laughed at my self-condemning critique of my day.

"You know, little one, He chided me, You're not in this thing alone! I told you to come to Me for help, because I know you! I knew you would be pounding your head against a wall if you tried to do this on your own. I'm right here. I was waiting for you to come. My name is Helper. Comforter. The Source of Your Strength. The One Who Carries You. The One Who Knows You by name. You belong to Me! I have made a place for you in My House. That's what fathers do...

I took a deep breath and felt the steam go out of the room. I knew I was safe. I knew I was home. In my Father's house...

Question: How about you? Ever feel like a failure at this 'christian thing'? How do you handle it? How do you get past it and forgive yourself for blowing it? Or, do you?!