In Winter

keep walking in winter

though the cold makes you shiver 

there’s growth to be found 

Buried deep in the ground 

In winter 

Keep walking in winter 

Though the frost may be bitter 

Barren fields lie in wait 

For the sunlight to breakthrough

In winter 

Season come 

And seasons go 

Every moment

leads to growth 

Like seeds our change 

Is happening 

In places unseen 

Seasons come and seasons go 

In every one of them

I know that

You’re working 

Deep below In winter 

Keep walking in winter 

Don’t be a quitter 

Keep your eyes on the prize 

therein our joy lies

In winter 

My snow buddies- the real reason I go walking in winter 🙂
a frosty delight 🙂
Even trees need to “lean in” to the Son.
Is that popcorn on my branches?!

I am a “morning” person by nature, but ever since the time change this past November, my dogs have wanted to get up before the crack of dawn. Literally. I mean like 5am sometimes. I have always been a light sleeper- and I can hear their faint high pitch whimper… which slowly turns into a deep, guttural “ARF”! The “boys” are getting older, and when they’ve gotta go, well- they’ve gotta go!

So I am usually out walking with them sometimes as early as 6am. I have learned the hard way that it is much more enjoyable when I take the time to actually prepare for this walk ahead of time. If you know me- the less I have to bring with me the better! But these chilly mornings beg for socks, snow boots, a hat, scarf, gloves, and a winter coat.

I hate wearing all that stuff, because I feel like I am weighed down. But deep down I know that preparation is everything. Just like I prepare myself to brace the cold, I have to also prepare my heart and mind each day for the spiritual walk…
so that I can be prepared to weather whatever storm comes my way 🙂

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.- 1 Peter 1:13

leaning

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we’re in a time 

of “leaning”- 

all our excess 

stripped away 

we’re in a time 

of leaning 

on our Savior 

 day by day

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This is a strange season we are in.

Just a few short weeks ago I was excitedly planning Easter festivities at church, my girls were anticipating their spring concerts and trips with band, and my hubby was gearing up for another busy tax season.

And then came Corona… 

It seems like life as we know it has come to a screeching halt.

Alone with my thoughts, I have come to realize how many things I have taken for granted.

Like my trips to Starbucks for egg bites and flat whites…those weekly galavants to the thrift store to socialize with strangers and to get lost in my thoughts sifting through junk…meeting friends for lunch and coffee…having the house to myself throughout the week to clean and organize…. but of everything, having “church”- this is the biggest for me.  I miss being able to hug my church family every week.  I miss seeing all the smiling faces and being together in person to praise the Lord on Sundays.

And yet here we are- all going through this strange season together.

We’ve been stripped of everything that isn’t necessary for our survival.

And yet, even in the midst of uncertainty, I have peace.

In these “lean” times- may we lean into Him! 

“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
leaning on the everlasting arms;
what a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning,
safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning, leaning,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
leaning on the everlasting arms. 

-E.A. Hoffman (1894)

that is all

Simply trusting every day;
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all. 

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by,
Trusting Him, whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly doth His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Singing if my way be clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger, for Him call,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Trusting Him while life shall last,
Trusting Him till earth is past,
Till His gracious advent call,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.  

– Edgar Page Stites (1836- 1921)

I am learning to trust Jesus more every day.  I am learning to trust Him in big things and in the small things too.  And every time I have handed over a worry or a concern to Him- I can look back and see how He has always, ALWAYS worked things out!

Yesterday, as I was preparing to lead worship for the service, I set my binder with the worship order and the chord charts for the music on the piano.  As I began singing, I realized that the folder was NOT the same folder I had used earlier in the week… in fact, by the time I got to the third song, I realized that the song was not in this particular folder.

It was a song that had lots of words to it, and I had even decided at our practice to change the key to another one- one that I had never played or sang the song in before.

I had a very brief moment of panic set in… and then I remembered all the times I had led worship before- and how He had always provided what I needed- ESPECIALLY the times I felt the weakest.

So I began to play and prayed He would give me words…. and the words just flowed right out of my mouth.  It was like my fingers were dancing across the piano keys.  I was so grateful for all the days I have sat at my piano and worshipped just because.  I play and sing every day- not because I’m “practicing”- but because I want to be close to Jesus.

The more I worship, the closer I feel to Him.

The closer I feel to Him- the easier it is for me to hear His gentle whispers, and the more I can trust and obey Him-in ALL things!

“While He leads, I cannot fall; trusting Jesus, that is all.”

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.  Psalm 28:7

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Home

the place where I can wear 

my hair 

up in a messy bun 

the place where doggies blissfully 

 “happy dance” under the sun 

the place where I can look around 

and see love in a frame

family pictures scattered ’round

showing just how far we came 

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I sort of feel like Dorthy in Oz- “there’s no place like home!”   I have a always been a “homebody” and enjoy having the house to myself.  I can play piano, sing at the top of my lungs… snuggle with my dogs (and pet my daughter’s bunny- but don’t tell her!).  But I’ll say this- being a “homemaker” is not something that comes natural to me.  I don’t really have an eye for decorating, I’ve never been fond of cooking (except for baking- I LOVE making desserts!), and anyone who knows me well will tell you my home is “lived in”.

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But today I am finding joy in making my house a “home”.  I am praising the Lord that I have this day to sweep up all the pine needles and the little bits of trash on our hardwood floors, and for a new steam mop that makes those floors shine!  I’m praising the Lord for a brand new dishwasher- one that’s quiet and cleans and dries all my dishes to perfection!

And I’m praising the Lord for my two doggies- who always follow me and lay at my feet- no matter where I am in the house!

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And I’m praising the Lord for my two daughters who will be home soon and will help me put up our Christmas tree today!

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”- Anne of Green Gables 

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As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord-  Joshua 24:15

do stuff with your kids


one day I’ll look back-

grateful for the time I spent

being with my girls

I love haikus. They say a lot with few words. Sometimes lots of words make me tired, lol!

Like yesterday- for some reason I was really, really tired. I could chalk it up to the time change and still getting adjusted to that, but I was really wanting to take a nap when I got home yesterday afternoon.

And then my daughters got home. One of my girls has been begging me every day to take one of our dogs to the dog park (the other one of them is not so friendly, that’s for another post, lol…). I said earlier in the week that it would be too muddy from all the rain we have had lately- which was true. It is also true that I am tired and don’t feel like going anywhere extra once the girls get home.

She asked me again yesterday. My whole “muddy” excuse didn’t really fly after the few gorgeous, sunny days we have had here. I began to think about what a blessing it is that my 16 year old daughter really WANTS me to do something with her. I began to think about all the other things that will eventually get in the way of her time… a job, college (one day), future relationships, children… the list goes on and on. One day she will be too busy for me.

So I made an extra cup of coffee and said “Sure! Let’s go!”

Can I tell you what a joy it was for me to say yes to her?

All smiles, she was, as we got into the car with our friendly fur baby! She beamed from ear to ear the entire drive. She kept saying how she hoped there would be other dogs there that ours could be friends with. And sure enough, we pulled up to the dog park, and there were several dogs playing.

Our dog pranced around the fenced in park- reveling in his newfound freedom. I sat on a bench and watched as my daughter went up to strangers to talk to them about their dogs. I was so proud of her. She is shy and it takes a lot for her to initiate conversation with strangers, but dogs are her love language. Bring a dog around her and she can’t help but be joyful.

It was a perfect afternoon.

My other daughter asked me to do something with her today.

This time I didn’t hesitate.

I can’t wait for our afternoon together 🙂

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court- Psalm 127:3-5

counting the cost

fullsizeoutput_1f39In search of solitude

I walk fullsizeoutput_1f3b

and to myself I softly

I talk

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the talking soon becomes

a song

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and then I hum it

all

day

long!

I was compelled the other day to stop and walk on the trail.  There was a green glow about the trees, and the birds serenaded me as I began to walk.

As I walked, I realized another victory He has given me!  For years, I have been in bondage… a “slave” to numbers- numbers on the scale, the number of calories I consume at each meal, or the number of calories I burn while exercising.  I would track them on my cute little phone app all day long.  I was a slave to that app.  And then there were days when I would take a break from tracking the numbers- and yet I would STILL keep a running tally in my brain.

But since Dec 31, I have stopped “counting”.  Cold turkey.  This was one of the things I had prayed to be free from, and praise the Lord I am finally FREE!

So as I walked, I realized that I wasn’t clutching my phone…and  I wasn’t trying to beat my best walking time…and I hadn’t set a goal for distance or calories burned. I was just walking to walk, and it was wonderful!

I no longer need the validation of a magical number to find my self-worth.

I have Him and He is all that I need.

let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12 

Built for a King

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He is working-

moving and shaping

changing and growing

cultivating, crafting

He’s transforming

You 

into something magnificent

a beautiful building-

something He sees

worthy

of Living

in…

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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50 Years

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half a century

of loving and living 

half a century

of sacrificial giving

half a century 

as husband and wife

half a century

of love in Christ

half a century

an example so great

50 years- 

we celebrate!

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My husband and I went out of town recently for a very special occasion.  My in-laws celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary!  All of the family got together to celebrate at one of their favorite restaurants. It was a beautiful night!  My mother in-law was even able to get a wedding cake made from the same bakery that did their original one- 50 years ago!

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My in-laws have had a huge impact on my life. I met them when I was only 17 years old- a know-it-all, cynical young adult.  My own parents separated and later divorced when I was 16- leaving me to question everything I knew- about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. But my (future) in-laws loved me anyway. They saw past my mile-high guard rails and the walls I put up around myself- and welcomed me into their family with open arms.  They where among the first people to really show me what it was like to love like He loves us- without judgement, free of expectation. They saw me like He saw me.  

During their anniversary dinner, my mother in-law was chatting with me.  She reminded me of a conversation we had nearly 20 years ago. 

“Do you remember me asking you if you had ever considered becoming a minister of music?”

I vaguely remembered this conversation… and remembered thinking NO WAY would I EVER want do that…

“I always knew you had a calling on your life” she told me at their celebration dinner.  “Even back then.”  

Many times she has told me how she prayed for her sons’ future spouses- even when her boys were babies. What an awesome thought that she had been praying for ME all those years!!

I am grateful. 

And grateful to been adopted into their family…. and into His! 

I am blessed.  

Happy 50th Anniversary!! 

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Breaking the (food) chain

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peel me like an onion

heavy on the layers

I shed the outer skin

as I go to You in prayer

crying as I’m sliced up

a little more, I’m diced up 

I’m ready for the next plan

dump me in the pan

straight into the fryer 

turn the heat up higher

cook me till I’m done 

I’m in refiner’s fire

the hotter I’m becoming 

the more clearly I can see

molting all these layers 

leads me to transparency 

Tears welled in my eyes as I sliced the onion in half. I broke through that top layer of skin, and the tears freely flowed down my face.  Onions have a funny way of doing that to me.

I tossed them into the hot frying pan to sauté them. They sizzled as I stirred them back and forth. I was no longer tearing up, but noticed the sweetness of the aroma.  After they had been sautéd, their translucency was striking.  

Isn’t it something that an onion could be so drastically different in appearance, in taste, aroma, and in sight- after experiencing a little bit of “heat”?  Honestly, I don’t like being uncomfortable.  That’s why we all like comfort food, right?  It makes us feel good.  But it’s only an emotional reaction- not the real thing.

For  my entire life, I have used food for reward, punishment, pleasure, and emotional comfort.

I’m tired of being comfortable. I want to be all God wants me to be- and I really do believe that He wants me to be free from this ridiculous food obsession.

I woke up this morning, ready to cook some eggs, and I tried to tell myself that it was what I really wanted for breakfast.  Not true. I really just wanted a ginormous bowl of oatmeal.  But more than oatmeal, I want to break that chain…the never ending cycle of obsessing over food and using food for comfort.

And the only answer is more Jesus. And less self-gratification.

Less of me (literally and figuratively)…more of Him.

I’ve jumped into the frying pan with both feet, I’m feeling the heat, and I’m ready to be changed!

God- make me uncomfortable so I find comfort in YOU not FOOD! 

eat to live, not live to eat

There is power in His Name to break every chain!

Always be joyful.  Never stop praying- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 

Minding the Nudge

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Friday evening’s vibrant sunset

Steadfast keeping eyes on You

You never fail to see us through

our circumstance and mundane days

when we seek to walk Your ways 

So I mind each little nudge 

I listen and I do not budge

revealing purpose in due time

He knows best- Father of mine! 

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Sunset pic #2

It was a lovely evening.  One daughter at a sleepover, and the other one sitting at the dining room table playing a board game with a friend.  I was sitting with them, putting together a puzzle.  All was peaceful, and then my daughter jumped up and said we have to go outside and see the sunset!

We would have missed it if she had not been on the  lookout.

I find that’s true with my walk with Him as well. When I am seeking Him, when I “mind the nudge” to go and do what I feel in my heart He asks of me- He always shows up.  I woke up one morning last week, thinking about someone and praying for them. I didn’t know how to get in touch with this person, and for some reason, I couldn’t get them off my mind… so I kept on praying for them- every time He put that person on my heart.

The next morning, I had planned to take the girls out to eat brunch and do some shopping.  I had been in a funk for most of the week- for no reason in particular, other than I was coming down off the excitement of Holy Week and Easter.

So we woke up the next morning, and headed off to the restaurant to have breakfast. It was a gorgeous morning and we had such a good time people watching and chatting about girl stuff. After we ate, we headed off to do some shopping.  

Isn’t it funny how you can make your own plans, and then He reveals what His plan was all along?  All week I had intended to go to this place, and all week I had been praying for this one specific person- who I didn’t even know how to get in touch with.  And guess who was there shopping?  That very person who I had been praying for!

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Sunset pic #3

Now, I have lived here for (almost) 11 years, and I have never- not even once– seen this person in any store I have ever shopped in, that I can remember.  It was definitely a God- incident that I saw them there.  Teary eyed, I hugged them told them about how I had prayed for them all week… and God met us right there in the middle of the store.  His timing is perfect.

I thought back on the entire events leading up to that moment we saw one another.  Every little detail… that He put this person on my heart all week… and that He put me in the exact spot at just the right time that morning… it really is amazing to see how He orchestrates the events of our lives when we are minding those little nudges.

My walk with Him gets sweeter as the days go by.  He’s like that sunset-

some evenings we wait…

and wait…

and don’t see a thing.

And then other evenings, He aligns everything in perfect order and we catch a glimpse of Him.

He’s always there- we just have to be on the lookout!

 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18