Sunday, December 28, 2014

Can These Bones Live?

"Can these bones live?"
Ezekiel 37:3

Can you imagine taking a tour of a local cemetery, minus the headstones with the graves exposed and the dead bones lying everywhere in plain view?  That is precisely the scene described in the Book of Ezekiel, as the Lord takes him on a tour of a valley full of dry, dead bones.  Ezekiel describes a scene where he is standing in the middle of a valley surrounded by dry, dead bones.  Not a trip I’d like to take. But, God takes him there and questions him.

“Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O, Lord, God, YOU know.” Ezekiel 37:3  A perfect answer when you are having a conversation with the Lord.  Best to admit, that, in His Presence, we scarcely know our own name.  Simply no contest.  God is God and we are not…

Ezekiel, knowing it is impossible for him to make these dry bones live again, nevertheless acknowledges that God can do the impossible and make even dead bones fill with life and dance on their own graves, if He so chooses.  The Lord, being the Lord, instructs Ezekiel to “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them:  O dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.  Thus says the Lord God to these bones, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live…and you shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:4,5  
I find it odd, somewhat, that, as Christmas draws to a close for another year, I am drawn like a magnet to these verses.  I am humbled, once again, to remember that God decides when and where He will take us to speak to us, just as He ruled the time in Ezekiel’s life and took him to some shocking places.  Why was this so shocking for Ezekiel and why is it for me?  Because it was dead.  It was rotting.  It was ugly.  It was hopeless.  We don’t like to look at those kind of things, especially not at Christmas, the birthday of the baby Jesus.  Let’s protect Jesus’ eyes from this horror.  And, while we’re at it, let’s protect mine too.  But, Jesus doesn’t need protection.  He knows these realities better than we.

I have spent some wonderful moments with family and friends this Christmas.  But, in the middle of the wonder and sparkle of Christmas, I smelled dead bones.  I looked into eyes that were dead.  I felt the cold chill of hopelessness sitting across the table from me.  I hugged stone hearts that could not really feel my love.  Or God’s. 

As I was reading these verses, I heard God say to me “I took you on a tour of dry bones.  Maureen, can these bones live?”  I have to say, Lord, God, You know they can.

Are you dry and dead and out of all hope tonight?  Are you ready to close the door and bolt it shut for good?  Are you giving up on something – your future, your children, your marriage, your faith, your calling, your God?  Do you believe God can make your dead bones live?  Do you believe He can breathe on you and make you live in ways you cannot even imagine?  Do you believe God?  That’s really what it comes down to.  We can do all the religious rituals we like to do to feel spiritual, but, is God really able to touch us in the dead places?  Do we really believe He can bring new life into something we have decided to walk away from? 

I have to admit, looking at dead corpses is scary.  Carrying them around with us is even more horrible.  Why don’t we let God have His way?  I know.  That’s pretty scary too.  But, I want to believe He can do what He says He can do.  I want to believe He can make the dead bones in my life and yours, live.  And dance.  And shout the praises of Our God.  Because, then, we will know that He is Lord...

I'll pray for you that, in this coming year, you will see God breathe new life into the dead bones in your life, wherever you have buried them.  I'm counting on you to do the same for me...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

There is a River...

"He who believes in Me,
Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water..."

John 7:38

I sat me down and talked with me
I told me everything that needed to be said

I forgot to even go to bed!

I wanted to say the important things
The things that no one else has said,
About the world this Christmas time.

What is good and right and fine.

Under all the silly things,
Even the brutal, ugly things,

There’s a river of kindness
That flows for me, for you,

For all of us that need to know.

There’s a river of kindness that washes me
That satisfies my thirsty soul.

I just want to put a toe in the water
And see how it feels,

To wash away all my sin and my fears.

I so want to go deeper
In this river of love.

I want to know where it comes from
And where does it go?

I want to jump in with never a care
And let it cover my feet to my hair!

I just want to swim in it up to my ears
I want it to wash away all of my tears.

River of kindness, of extravagant love
Wash me all over with Grace from above.

Make me all over this Christmas Day.

God of the River of Kindness and Love,
Come to me, stay with me,

Always, I pray...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Finding Room for Gratitude...

Gratitude is a memory of the heart...

Watching the craziness in Ferguson this past week, I had to remind myself that all across the nation this Thursday, we will gather to give thanks.  Not to just fill up on turkey until we can't get off the couch, but to say thank you to our God for all of His many blessings.  For some, it is a lonely and difficult time.  I know that there are many people all around America that aren't feeling very thankful.

I believe it is a good thing to call the nation, and oneself, to bend a knee and say a prayer to thank the God of all provision and grace, even when we least feel like it.  But, let's lift a prayer for those who aren't in the mood to say thanks. I have been there myself.  When I have been in an unthankful mood, from somewhere in my heart there came a little whisper saying, "do it anyway..."  Here's my do it anyway list of thank yous that need to be said - anyway...

When you're alone and missing those you love, and don't really feel thankful, say it anyway.

When you're angry at all the craziness around you, and don't really feel thankful, say it anyway.

When you feel like you have absolutely nothing to be thankful for, say it anyway.

When you feel like the whole world is having a party without you, say it anyway.

When things just don't make sense anymore, say it anyway.

When you can't remember a single reason to give thanks, give it anyway.

When you are sure that God has forgotten you, say it anyway.

When you're ready to give up and throw in the towel, say it anyway.

When you wish you could find a single reason to be thankful, say it anyway.

When you are tired of all the hoopla and can't remember what the holiday is all about, say it anyway.

When you don't understand life and it seems so unfair, say it anyway.

When it feels like nobody cares, really, say it anyway.

When you're counting your blessings and drawing a blank, say it anyway.

When someone you love is dying and you can't bear their loss, say it anyway.

When you just feel like screaming, say it anyway.

When you are hurting, angry, lost, ready to give up, say it anyway...

When you've taken the last step you think you can take, take one more and say thank you anyway.

Sometimes, it's in the choice to be thankful when we least feel like it that are hearts are changed and gratitude finds a home.  No matter what, say thank you to the God who loves us when we are the least lovable.  He was alone, abandoned, lonely, forsaken, frightened, and wanting to run away.  He knows what you're going through. He loves you, anyway...

Monday, October 20, 2014

More Than Many Sparrows...

"Do not fear, therefore -
You are worth more than many sparrows..."
Matthew 10:31

Who is this Jesus that I love?

The Jesus I love doesn't have long flowing girlish hair and a halo shining over His head.  He doesn't tell me to just sit back and put my feet up, because I "deserve a break today."  He doesn't cover my eyes so that I won't see the nasty things that are going on in the world today.  He doesn't promise me that I will never be hurt by any of these things because I belong to Him.  He doesn't follow the script written for Him by false teachers of a phoney gospel.  No. The Jesus I love has a radical agenda.

The Jesus I hear speaking in my ear is on fire.  He is deadly serious.  He's speaking about life and death.  He isn't "playing at religion."  He demands that we take Him seriously or not at all.  If we want an easy chair to soften our ride into heaven, sipping a Margarita while we have a mani/pedi, we're going to have to find another Jesus.  I can't squeeze the Jesus of the Gospel into the round peg so many churches have pounded out for Him.  I don't know what God they're serving, but, it isn't the One who suffered and died for me.

"Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing,
but inwardly, they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruit."
Matthew 7:15

This is the Jesus that captivates me -

"These twelve Jesus sent out saying: ... As you go, preach saying 'The kingdom of God is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons...  Whoever will not receive you, nor hear your words... I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"  Matthew: 10: 8, 14,15 What?  Really?  My that sounds awfully harsh, doesn't it? Where is the "nice" Jesus, we've all grown to love?  The one who accepts everyone and everything and never calls a sin a sin, let alone, even thinks of sending anyone to hell, if there really is such a place! This can't be the same guy! That's right.  It isn't.  This is the real Jesus, calling us to wake up, pay attention, come out of our fairy tale and preach the real Gospel. The one that He died for, and, for many of His followers, the one they will die for also.

Here's another golden nugget from the lips of Jesus as He sent His disciples out.

"Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore, be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and beat you in the synagogues. You will be brought before kings and governors for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles..." Matt. 10:16-18

"But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak, for it is not you who speak, but, the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you." Matt. 10: 19-20

"You will be hated by all for My name's sake, But he who endures to the end will be saved...If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of His household. Therefore, do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.  Matt. 10:22

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But, rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell..."  Matt. 10:29

I am captivated by the Jesus who calls us with fire and passion to follow Him, to sell out to Him, to fear nothing man can do to us in this life, but to shout from the rooftops what he tells us "in the dark." I don't want to be bothered with cheap imitations of this Jesus, who is worth everything I have to follow Him.  

Believe me, I am not, by nature, a courageous person.  I run and hide when I see a spider.  Put a mouse in the room and I may die of a heart attack!  I know I am not given to this kind of courage on my own.  But, I am in love with this God who promises to be with me, to give me the words to speak, even when I am trembling for fear of my life.  

Terrorists are rampant, kings and dictators torture and kill.  Help me to remember, Lord, God, that You have called us to this glorious Gospel, for Your name's sake, "as a testimony to them..." Matt. 10:18

I don't want to chase after the wind, following a fraud of the gospel.  Give me the real Gospel.  Let me live and die on that Gospel and nothing less.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Kaleidoscope of Memories...

I see the many colors of you
Dancing on the mirror of my memory...

(a love letter to my mama)

Times have changed so much since I was a little girl and my mother was a young woman. As children, our parents are like God.  They own the world we live in and rule with ultimate control, either wisely or foolishly.  As time unfolds its secrets, like the sand washing back into the sea, we begin to see them with new eyes and realize we only see a fraction of who they were before they partnered with God to give us life.   This is a short story about my mama, a woman who was complex and difficult to get to know, even for me.  Today, I am looking into the kaleidoscope of yesterday, turning the lenses over and over, trying to bring into focus the woman I loved as my mother, but never really knew.   

As a child, I remember my mother being very beautiful.  She had creamy white skin, dotted all over in the summer with tiny, pretty freckles that covered every inch of her five foot, two inch frame.  As children, we would sit on the porch in the summer trying to count her freckles.  Impossible!  Even as we counted, the sun coaxed more pretty dots to pop out on her skin.  I always wished I had freckles like my mother.  She, of course, wished she didn’t have them and washed them away with the magic of makeup every chance she got.

Her tiny frame was topped with a gorgeous head of thick black hair that she wore piled up on her head in the style that was popular in the war years.  It was, by our standards today, a little prim, a little sexy and very, very feminine.  She knew how to be a girl and watching her, I was happy God had made me one too.  By contrast, the boys (I had four brothers) seemed to be boring, always dirty and too plain.  No makeup, no pretty dresses, no jewelry!  How they could stand not being a girl was beyond me!

The average woman in my mother’s day never spent money on “manis and pedis” – they had just come through the Great Depression and were grateful to have money to feed their children.

My mother didn’t work outside the home.  Her time was consumed trying to raise the eight children she brought into the world.

I don’t ever remember seeing my mother in a pair of jeans.  They were for the kids, not for grown women.  She mostly donned little cotton dresses “house dresses” that were simple, cheap and functional.  She was a house wife before the name became anathema to women…

Halloween was a very strange holiday back then!  Adults made costumes for the kids!  It was all about the kids, end of story!  I never, ever saw my mother dress up in a Cat Woman costume or a sexy, French maid costume for the adult Halloween party she was attending. 

When I was very young, I always walked home for lunch and sat in front of the TV watching “Uncle Jonny Coon” and eating a hot lunch my mother had prepared.  Every day, rain or shine. 

She didn’t have diamonds or rubies or, even pearls.  Where would she get the money for that?  A beautiful woman doesn’t really need those things.  A woman without beauty doesn’t gain it no matter how many jewels she wears.

There were two objects of beauty that I remember my mother treasuring.  One was a delicate blue bottle of French perfume (at least I thought it was French!)  Labeled “Midnight in Paris” it captured my imagination and gave me a love for a faraway place, somewhere across the sea, known as “Paris”!  Surely, there was simply no more romantic place anywhere on the planet!  And, somehow, my mother had a bottle of their perfume!  She must have had some secrets I didn’t know about as a little girl!

The other object of my admiration from among the things my mother owned was a winter coat, scarlet red and lined with beautiful auburn colored fur surrounding the neckline and cascading down the front.  Wearing this coat, posing next to my father who was over six feet tall, she smiled a shy smile that lit up her face with love and vulnerability.

Vulnerability.  As a child, I never saw her as vulnerable.  Or in love.  It has taken me many years to grow into an understanding that she was a little girl once too.  That she had dreams of her own and struggles as a woman and a mother, just as I do.  She was far from perfect.  She needed to be forgiven a lot.  She needed grace. As it turns out, she was just like me… 

"Honor your father and your mother..." 
Exodus 20:12

Thursday, September 4, 2014

God of Everything...

Amazing Grace...

Are you the God of everything?
Or just the big important things?
Do you care when nothing goes right for me,
When I feel alone and no one sees?

Do you hear me when I curse and scream
Not caring what you think of me?
Do you turn away and shake your head
And wish that you could just forget

My name, my face, my everything?

Or do you know me inside out and upside down
Dressed in rags or in a crown?
Do you have your regrets
And I am one of them?

Or do you stoop to pick me up
And carry me when I can’t take another step?
Are you the One I’m looking for
When I have gone to bed and locked the door?

When I have given up on life
And want to die.
Are you the One who calls my name
Are you the One who takes my hand?

Are you the One I can’t forget
Are you the One whose voice I hear
Speaking my name, calling to me
With love that melts away my fear?

Are you the One who understands
What no one knows or even cares?
Are you the One
Who cries with me

When life no longer makes any sense?
When the price I paid
 Is much too much
When I no longer feel your touch?

They stole all that mattered to me today
And murdered my heart for all to see.
They laughed and laughed and laughed at me
Like so much garbage, they hated me.

Or was it you?
Are you the One they hate to see?

Are you the One,
Who won’t let go?
Who loves me when I don't love you
And forgives the unforgiveable.

I don’t understand you.
I only know
I need you, Lord
I need you now.

I need to know that you are there
When life is black and so unfair
I need to know that you won’t leave
When I lock the door and bury the key.

When life overcomes me
With grief I can’t bear
I just need to know

That you’re still there…


This is a poem for all who are hurting tonight and for whom the light seems to have gone out. Especially for the parents of James Foley and Steven Sotloff.  And all who have lost children who have been taken too soon and for whom the pain is too much to bear.  May God comfort you and draw you very close and may you feel His love all over you...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Love Letters

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
For Thou art with me..."
Psalm 23:4

I remember with great affection a feature of many magazines in the past called "Pen Pals".  People were encouraged, through Pen Pals, to reach out and befriend someone far away, whom we had never met, and may never meet this side of heaven.  I love that concept.  Too bad it has disappeared from the landscape of publications today.  If ever there was a time when we need to connect across the miles, it is today.  Some of the greatest writing we have as a christian community is in the form of letters, written from a distance, expressing the love and encouragement of the writer (Paul) to those he loved and cared about that were far away in miles, but ever near in his heart.  It is in that same vein that I have decided to begin a series I am calling Love Letters.  These will be letters of affection and encouragement to brothers and sisters I will never meet but are near and dear to my heart, as well as letters to those who know me well and with whom I share an unbreakable bond of love and treasure.  I am excited about beginning this series.  I hope you enjoy and are encouraged by what is written, with love and prayers that you will meet God and experience the priceless gift of His love as you read.  May God hold you close all the days of your life, and may we meet in heaven to celebrate His love...


To My Dear Suffering Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, in Iraq:

I want you to know that, although we have never met, and live in vastly different parts of the world, we are deeply connected to each other as followers of Jesus Christ.  I have been reading and watching news reports of the horrors and tragedies you are experiencing because of your faith in Jesus.  I truly cannot imagine having to endure what you are going through.  I want you to know I cry with you at the loss of your home, your lifestyle, and, most especially, your loved ones, sometimes even your precious children. I know that you could not persevere in this trial without the grace and love of God.  I pray for you constantly that God will carry you through every trial and comfort you in every loss.  

I pray that you will have courage to face whatever is asked of you, because of your love for Jesus Christ.  I hope you know that the prayers and love of many, many brothers and sisters, all around the world, are offered for you constantly.  I do not, in any way, make light of what you are suffering.  I know that if I were asked to endure what has come to you, I would depend on the prayers of God's people to carry me through.  

I hope that you will remember, in the middle of this darkness, that God is with you, you are not suffering alone.  Remember all of the times He has carried you and know that He is carrying you through this, as well. Without Him, where would we be?  I do not know why God has allowed this to come to you in this time at this hour.  But, I believe, if it breaks your heart and mine, it breaks the heart of God even more.  Not only to see you suffer, as you do, but, to know that you are persecuted and suffer because of your faith in Jesus Christ. 

The hatred and evil unleashed upon you is solely because you follow the Lord Jesus Christ.  I struggle sometimes to be a witness in my safe, comfortable corner of the world.  And yet, you suffer the unimaginable because you are a witness to the worthiness of our Savior.  I am so humbled in the face of your witness.  

I pray that you will be surrounded by the love of God at the very moment of your deepest struggle to be that witness.  I pray that God's love and promises will be so much more real to you than the evil you are experiencing. I pray that you will overcome by the depth of your awareness of His love for you and His grace.  I pray that the Word of God will be so alive to you that you will remember His promises to you that are never forgotten by God.  I pray that you will be saturated with the oil of gladness dripping down all over you.  I pray that you will have courage.  That you will be comforted, as only God can comfort.  And that you will be victorious witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ, who is worthy.  He is worthy.  Praise God, you are His witnesses.  

I speak for many in America who stand with you in love and prayers for God's sustaining, overcoming grace. Thank you for your faithfulness in the face of enormous suffering.  Jesus is worthy...

"Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.  God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.  Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful.  And He said to me, "It is done!  I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  I will give of the fountain of water to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son..." Revelation 21:3-7 NKJV

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I'm Late, I'm Late, I'm Late!

"No time to say, Hello, Goodbye,
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late..."
Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

I love children's fairy tales and Alice in Wonderland is at the top of my list of best books ever written!  Of course, it doesn't hurt that this classic was written by a gifted author whom I fantasize was a distant uncle who passed down his love for writing to me!  A favorite grand-grand-grand niece that he knew was coming in the future!

But, enough of that.  This is a serious expose on the trouble with time!  It is always running ahead of us, don't you think? The picture of the white rabbit, scurrying past Alice, checking his watch, unable to pause even long enough to say hello or goodbye, tickles my sense of humor and fills me with little girl giggles at our human tendency to announce our own self-importance! After all, if I don't announce it to you, you might miss it!

Alice can hardly believe her eyes watching the rabbit, dressed in his very proper attire, barely able to acknowledge her presence, as he chastises this child for interrupting his day. Where is he going?  He doesn't know.  He's just impressed with how important he is going there!  Now that's classic! Because we are all so like that!  We are just so busy doing something, we think it must be very important and, surely, everyone knows it!  Right?  Hold up there - we might be missing something!

This delightful and artfully drawn picture of our own self-importance and tendency to strut it for all the world to see, brings to mind one of the many times in the gospels the disciples strutted and vied for attention as the 'most important' in the kingdom.  Time after time, Jesus pops their inflated egos and brings them down to earth with a thud! 

One of those classic episodes happens in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19.  It is one of their "moments" and they are reveling in the time they have with the Master.  The last thing they want is to be interrupted by a bunch of whiny, crying, demanding little children.  It's late, it's late! They don't have time for this!  But, Jesus, once again, stepping outside the script the guys have written for Him, takes the little ones to Himself, gathers them in His arms and pulls them on His lap.  He stops the clock for them.  He puts them first. He makes room for them when His followers push them away. Jesus didn't accept their exaggerated sense of their own self-importance. He pointedly drew their attention to the children. See the children in front of you, He seems to be saying.  Stop what you're doing. Listen to them. Really see them.  Love them.  "For, of such is the Kingdom of Heaven!"  Matthew 19:14

Jesus, the most important person ever to enter human history, stops the clock for little children. He often stops along the way for those that are ignored by the rest of the world.  Children, the sick, the mentally ill, the elderly, the forsaken, the dying. He seems to be saying, "Get it straight. This is what really matters to Me." 

Stop the clock. It's later than you think...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lame in Both Feet...

"As for Mephibosheth, said the king, "he shall eat at my table like one of the King's sons.  
So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the King's table.  
And he was lame in both feet..."  
2 Samuel 9:11, 13 NKJV

This is the obscure tale of Mephibosheth, son of King David's friend Jonathan and grandson of David's enemy, King Saul. Mephibosheth, whose name means "Son of Shame" was the crippled and shame-filled grandson of Saul.  As a little boy Mephibosheth suffered a fall that crippled him in both feet, leaving him unable to walk on his own.  The shame that he felt as a cripple, completely dependent on the kindness of those around him to carry him everywhere, covered him and sent him into hiding.  I think that is a great metaphor for the word "shame" - it always seems to cover us from head to foot and sends us into hiding, sometimes, even from ourselves.

As I write this, I am remembering my favorite uncle, Uncle Eddie, an avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan, "back in the day" when they were still in New York.  I met my Uncle when I was five years old visiting my grandparent's home in New York where this wonderful man lived.  He would invite me into the back yard to listen to the Dodgers' games on his transistor radio with the big antennas sticking into the sky.  I had never met anyone like him.  He was gentle and kind to me. He was in his twenties then, and very good looking.  He had a wonderful, funny accent.  After all, he was from Brooklyn!  He loved the game of baseball.  He never played it though.  He was crippled in both legs, just like Mephibosheth.  

He had been a victim of polio as a very young child.  He walked in a strange way, to the eyes of a child. He always had to place his legs in very heavy iron braces, in order to stand and walk at all.  No one ever explained to me what had happened to him.  My five-year-old eyes grew wide with amazement as he strapped on his braces and haltingly stood up.  At first, that is all I could see.  He was different.  He was crippled.  In both feet.

It didn't take too long, though, for me to see the person hiding behind the braces.  He was shunned by everyone in his family, as if it was his fault he had contracted polio.  I guess it was because, to them, he was a burden of sorts.  He needed to be cared for in unusual ways.  Just like Mephiboseth. He was ashamed to be a burden.  But, to a little girl, far away from home for the first time, he was the most gentle, kind and loving man I had yet known in all of my five years on the earth.  He was so good to me that summer.  To me, he was a hero.

Later in life, as a young mother, my own father lost a leg to a dangerous infection.  He endured the "shame" of being "crippled" and in need of kindness and understanding of what it feels like to need people to help us and to understand our need.

This captivating story, found in the Book of 2 Samuel, tells the tale of David's kindness to Mephiboseth, because of his great love and oath to his dear friend, Jonathan, Mephiboseth's father.  But, even more than that, it tells the story of God's unending search for us, to call us out of hiding, to heal us and to show us kindness beyond our ability to even imagine.  When one is crippled in both feet, unable to move on our own, covered in shame, it is not on our radar to expect kindness.  Mephiboseth expects to die when summoned before the King.  He has absolutely no expectation of kindness. He certainly does not envision himself sitting at the King's table for the rest of his days, the invited guest of the King.  But that is exactly what the King does for him.  He sees beyond the victim and loves the person hiding within...

Where are you tonight? Crippled in both feet?  Ashamed of who you are?  Broken in pieces? Feeling like a burden?  Expecting the worst?  Can't imagine anyone sees you - anyone knows you - anyone cares?

Believe for a moment that the King is calling your name.  He is requesting your presence at His table.  

Bring whatever's broken with you.  He is well able to heal broken bones, broken hearts and broken lives. He is well able...


Friday, March 28, 2014

Love Song to the Gardener...

I'd rather be in the Garden of the Lord
Than in the palace of a king...
He carried me so tenderly and covered me over with rich dark soil,
When I was just a tiny seed.
He planted me deep in the garden surrounded by rocks and thistles
That mocked my every need
Or, at least, that’s what I believed…

I heard His footsteps in the garden growing fainter and fainter.
He was leaving me all alone –
He didn’t stop.
He didn’t care what happened to me.
Or, at least that’s what I believed…

The only life I saw were ugly, broken weeds
Sprouting all around me.
No beauty.
No joy.
No life was in the air around me.
Or, at least, that’s what I believed…

Endlessly, it rained and rained.
I never saw the sunshine.
I never saw a flower.
I called to Him to save me.
But, against this cruelty,
He had no power.
Or, at least, that’s what I believed.

I wept at least as many tears
As raindrops fell upon my fears.
All for what? I didn’t know.
I decided I should just let go.
What was the use in holding on?
He must not love me, or so it seemed.
Or, at least, that’s what I believed.

Strangers came and stomped on me.
They mocked and laughed and jeered at me.
Down in the heart of my tiny seed,
They broke me down and made me bleed.
Left alone to face this mess,
I hated Him, I must confess.
Or, at least, that’s what I believed.

But, He who loved me had buried me deep,

He had buried me,
In the rich dark soil of His love.

He had promised He would come for me.
When all seemed dark and dry and dead,
He was still strolling through the flower beds
Or, at least, that’s what I came to see…

I, no longer hoping, no longer strong,
I heard Him walking on the dawn.
He lifted my head to see His face,
He smiled His Glory all over the place.
I never ever doubted His love for me...
Or, at least, that’s what I came to see!

The storms brought the rain that I needed to grow.
The weeds made me fight for the chance to have life.
The stones and the rocks made me sink in the mud,
Where the rich, velvet soil caressed me with love.
He used it all to shape me and form me to be,
A tiny reflection of the One who made me.

I don’t know the answer to all of the whys.
I only know darkness is broken by Light.
I learned to be gentle toward those who are broken,
To reach out in tenderness for those who are lost.
To leave it to Him what I don’t understand.
To trust Him who holds me in the palm of His hand.

To hold on to the One who holds on to me.
Or, at least, that’s what I’ve come to believe…


“Then He who sat on the throne said,
Behold, I make all things new…”

   Revelation 21:5  NKJV

Sunday, March 9, 2014

History Happens to Real People...

"In the day of trouble
He will hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock."
Psalm 27: 5  NKJV
It was 1956.  I was a little girl attending a Catholic school in Chicago, where I wore poodle skirts and bobby socks with saddle shoes or penny loafers.  I was beginning to notice boys and listen to the rock and roll music blasting on my brother’s transistor radio.  I always left home with a dime in my pocket to call home in an emergency from the telephone booth on the street corner.  I watched the Mickey Mouse Club after school and occasionally was allowed to drink a six ounce bottle of Root Beer for a treat. 
On Saturdays, if I could find a quarter, I walked over to the Movie Theater up the street to watch Saturday cartoons on the big screen.  The world was celebrating Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show, “Ike” was in the White House, WW II was behind us, and, we imagined ourselves relatively safe in the world.  I was blissfully unaware of what was going on half way across the world as the Russian Bear roared and threatened and, finally, in 1956, invaded its neighbor, Hungary.  I seldom watched the news and never heard my parents talking about the horror of having one’s homeland invaded by a foreign tyrant that rolled over everything in its path.  This wasn’t supposed to be happening.  After all, Hitler had been defeated, the War was over and we were “at peace".
Into this little girl’s fantasy land, slipped a little boy who sat next to me in my fourth grade class.  He didn’t speak any English.  He didn’t have any friends.  He was alone all the time.  He looked frightened to me.  His name was Charles and I was fascinated by this stranger who showed up in the middle of the school year, as if dropped from the sky.  Why in the world would his parents move him in the middle of the school year?  What was that funny language he was speaking?  Didn’t everybody speak English?  Why was he so nervous?  Why was he so “different”?
In the most stunning geography/history lesson I had ever received, the answers were laid out before the class one day soon after Charles’ arrival.  The teacher explained that Charles was a “refugee.”  His family had fled with their children to the United States to escape the tyranny of Russia, who had boldly and viciously invaded Hungary with tanks that rolled right over citizens who resisted the invasion.  The brutality of their invasion was well documented.  All of the world knew.  And all of the world looked the other way.  Those who were able, fled their homeland and became refugees all over the world, especially in the United States, prized for her reputation of liberty and religious freedom.  Here, sitting right next to me, was the child of parents who had fled for their lives, and the lives of their children, to my homeland, America.
I was just a child of ten.  The only “hungry” I had ever heard of was when my tummy rumbled and demanded to be fed.  But, here was a child my own age, whose life had been lived in a country far, far away, called Hungary.  What had he seen on the streets of his homeland as Russian tanks rolled down the streets killing anyone who dared to oppose their invasion?  How did he feel when he had to say goodbye to all of his friends and relatives?  How did he now handle having no friends and no one at school who spoke his language?
I stared at this little boy the way children do, unabashedly.  To me, he was a hero.  He represented resistance to evil and courage to do whatever it takes to be free.  I think I may have had my first case of “puppy love” with a boy I couldn’t speak to in a language he understood.  But, he spoke to me a language that transcends nationalities, just by his presence. 
I don’t remember much about history, and geography was always my worst subject.  But, I have never forgotten the lessons I learned that year as a frightened little boy of ten brought history to my doorstep and made me an eyewitness to the reality of evil marching across the world, displacing and murdering everything that got in its way.
I hope and pray America hasn’t forgotten the lessons of fifty years ago as the Russian Bear exposes its ugly teeth and claws once again, across the sea in Ukraine.  My prayers are with the people of the Ukraine.  And the people of the United States…

Saturday, February 22, 2014


"You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God."
Isaiah 62:3 NKJV

Hephzibah, Hephzibah, what is in your name?  A name found in my favorite book of the bible, the Book of Isaiah, I am captivated by the beautiful, loving name that God gave to His people to remind them of His love for them in Chapter 62 of Isaiah.  Hephzibah, is a Hebrew word meaning "My delight is in her" and "one who is protected, safeguarded" in this case, by God, Himself!

God uses so many images of love and marriage to express His love for His people, and this is one of the most tender and touching to me.  Taking His people back to His bosom after a season of war and suffering, God turns to His people and takes them back in His arms, assuring them of His unending love for them. 

God doesn't stand at a distance, aloof from their suffering.  He cries out to them with expressions of His deep and compassionate love for them, reassuring them that He hasn't forgotten them.  How stunningly beautiful is His assurance of His love and care.

I don't know what you are going through today.  Maybe you're having a "once in a lifetime" day of celebration of something wonderful in your life.  Or maybe, you're struggling to hang on, wondering if anyone really cares for you, sees you, remembers you, loves you...  If that's you, turn off all the noise around you, close your eyes and listen to the voice of your Savior, calling out your name. 

Listen to Him speaking your name tenderly, lovingly, comforting you, encouraging you, knowing you, surrounding you with His love.  Have you felt abandoned, forsaken, neglected, rejected, abused, unseen, and uncared for?  Rest in the beauty and certain love of God and in His words spoken, not only over Israel, but over YOU tonight.  These are words of love from your God to you.  Do not miss them.  Cherish them.  Believe them.  Bath all over in them.  They are life...

You shall be called by a new name,
Which the mouth of the Lord will name.
You shall also be a crown of glory
In the hand of your God.
You shall no longer be termed Forsaken,
Nor shall your land any more be called Desolate;
But you shall be called Hephzibah,
And your land Beulah;
For the Lord delights in you...
And as the bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you.
Isaiah 62:3-5   NKJV

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Building Bridges ...

of Hope...

It’s snowing outside. Again! It’s so beautiful to look at from inside where it’s warm and cozy and the falling snow is beautiful to see from my picture window. It looks like God is shaking powdered sugar all over the chocolate earth!

It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon and I am grateful to have a warm little house to hide inside while winter roars and little brother earth trembles outside my window. I am in a reflective mood today. On this beautiful winter afternoon, I have just finished reading a story about the poverty stricken families in a faraway land, where the children are born and live their entire lives in desperate poverty, hunger and abuse. My heart has been moved to sponsor a child through one of their programs, to give a child hope and a future, not just in this life, but for eternity. I will sponsor a little girl through the Bridge of Hope, an outreach to the poorest of the poor in India, through the Gospel for Asia.

These beautiful children are given a hot meal, clean clothes, taught to read, and told for the first time, almost always, that Jesus loves them.  These children, who have no life in their eyes and who never dream that they were made for so much more, are transformed by the life changing message that Jesus loves them enough to die for them. They respond to the Gospel with the innocence of a child. They believe what they hear and they grab ahold of God’s hand when they see it extended to them. No wonder Jesus said we must become like little children if we want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. They don’t debate with God. They just fall in love with Him and chase after Him, as little children do.

My heart has been stirred with the plight of these children. In his heart wrenching book, “No Longer a Slumdog”, the author, K.P. Yohannan, tells story after story of children whose lives have been forever changed by the ministry of Bridge of Hope Centers dotting the landscape of this huge country we know as India. We think of this as a faraway land, a culture different from our own, a nation very different from America. But, God doesn’t see it that way. God’s eyes don’t recognize national boundaries, or cultural taboos, or despise people based on their economic or social status. He doesn’t show favor to the rich while despising the poor. He doesn’t see anyone, least of all, a child, as someone that can be “thrown away.” God doesn’t choose favorites, at least not in the same way that we do. On the contrary, where we, in our culture, seem to favor the rich and idolize the young and the beautiful, God says He “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds… The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.” Ps. 147: 3,6

Now this is the problem I see in the church in America, including me!  Rich, affluent, comfortable, overfed,  and sometimes indifferent America. Most of us read the kind of things I just wrote about and say something like “Oh, that’s too bad. I feel so sorry for them…” And then we turn on the T.V. or go shopping. We medicate the discomfort that God wants us to feel to spur us into action

Don't believe me?  I can't tell you how many "Christians" I have talked to about sponsoring a desperately needy child who look at me as if I have asked them to do the impossible.  If the shoe was on the other foot, and you or I were the mother or father of a child in need, I know we would pray that someone who could help would do whatever it might take to help!

When I first read this book, I felt a very deep sorrow for the children and their families, trapped in this nightmare, with no hope, for their entire lives. But, feeling sorry for them isn’t what I knew the Lord was calling me to do. I knew He wanted me to sponsor a child. I knew it. And yet, I had “to think about it…” Why? Do I think that the Lord of the Universe speaking to my heart is something I can ignore? Is the cost of sponsorship (about $1 a day) too exorbitant a price to put on the head of a child in desperate need? Is God asking just too much of me? Are these children real to me or am I just reading a fictional tale about situations that are just made up?

On the other side of the question, if these desperate and suffering children with the dying eyes are real, how can I turn away? If it is God who is asking me to get involved, how can I ignore His voice? Who am I to ignore the voice of God in my life? Am I really a believer in the life saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Or, is it just a nice story I like to tell that has no real bearing on anyone’s life, including mine? God forbid that I should be so foolish as to ignore His voice and trivialize His Word in my life.

The thing is, either God is God or I am. If He is, than I am not. And so, I do His bidding. I submit to His amazing love for me and for others, some of whom I have never met and never will meet this side of heaven. He asks me to trust Him that He knows what He is doing and He will take my meager little offering and multiply it many times over in the life of a child that He loves…

As I look outside at the beauty of the falling snow, a picture book story playing out right outside my window, I thank God for the beauty of the world all around me. I realize how blessed I am to have a warm and cozy place to live, a job that blesses me with enough money to share with someone in need, and a God who knows me and loves me even when my needle is stuck on “well, it’s all about me, it’s all about me, it’s all …”

He is so patient with me. He is so generous. He is so kind. 

Dear God, make me more like You…

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this:
to care for the widow and the orphan in their distress..."
James 1:27 NKJV