When the voice of the Accuser echoes in your head, the only way to stand under the onslaught is to plant your feet on the Scriptures and take shelter under the truth of what God said thousands of years ago: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

There is a Love that has no limit, drawn in the black and white lines of the written Word, painted in graphic strokes at the Cross.  “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)

This is reality that does not change, firm ground on which to build a life, no matter how much your feet falter. This is how Paul could say with such unshakeable certainty, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) 

No fiery darts of the Enemy can harm me when I am resting under the shadow of the Almighty One. “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34) Overcoming is nothing more than keeping on till the end, persevering one day at a time until suddenly the race is over. I don’t have to be big and brave, or strong and amazing. Only be His and not get discouraged under the weight of this world.

Some days your heart just needs to cling to the Cross, and gaze at the Savior who loves you more than life, count your soul safe and whole in Him, regardless of how the battle rages all around.


I have this hope
As an anchor for my soul:
Through every storm
I will hold to You.

With endless love
All my fear is swept away;
In everything,
I will trust in You.

There is hope in the promise of the cross:
You gave everything to save the world You love,
And this hope is an anchor for my soul.
Our God will stand

Anchor, Hillsong Worship


And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:2-3

Making All Things New

He was an unpromising hero, keeping his head low to avoid unwanted attention and trying to be safe, even while on the inside he re-told the old stories of legacy and glory, miracles and powerful deliverance. He had no intention of stepping out of the familiar, even though the everyday was almost unendurable and fear was in the very air he breathed. Until one day God showed up on his doorstep (or more accurately in his field) and called him “mighty warrior,” as if he were not just a young farmer trying to feed his family. And Gideon scoffed, but there was this thrill of adrenaline and hope, this seed of change that might sprout into something bigger.

See, God knew Gideon better than he knew himself– the way he was wired, what he admired and longed for, what held him back. God knew Gideon because He had put him together. More than that, God knew how Gideon’s particular personality strengths and weaknesses interacted with his environment and shaped his perspectives, knew the exact circumstances it would take to spark change, move him along in his growing process. The Musician-King sang of God’s personal involvement in our shaping, His intimate knowing of who we are and who we are becoming: “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:15-16) 

In these days after Easter, with each branch sending out new green and flowers springing up in corners everywhere, it seems like anything is possible, a thrill of change in the air that might take us from where we are into something bigger and better. The women I know are cleaning out basement storage totes and upstairs closets, opening windows to air out bedrooms, and sweeping off porches, gathering up the accumulated debris in the yards from the Winter storms. And who knows where we could go from here as the world comes back to life? But the visible clutter is the easy part; on the inside we may be stumbling over piles of debris we think no one can see but us. And The Living One Who Sees Me (Genesis 16:14) knows just what it will take to get rid of the stuff that gets in our way: our reason, our self-sufficiency, our achievements, our to-do lists…..and our self-doubt, our past failures– all the ways we measure ourselves in this world and fall short.

God knows how we are made, what we long for, and who He intends for us to be. God shows up on our doorsteps and calls us by the name He gives us– no matter how crazy it may sound or how unlikely it may appear, as of yet. So Gideon the farmer is called Mighty Warrior, stumbles out of a winepress-turned-threshing-floor, and becomes the leader of a miraculous army that can set his people free, because God goes with him. Turns out that having no visible qualifications is just the material God is looking for, to accomplish the impossible.

I know a little boy who loves crawly things with a surprising amount of focus and passion (and entirely undeserved, considering the objects of his affection). One poor creature has made a cocoon despite its less-than-comfortable accommodations. It is in a countdown to transformation, the improbable cocoon a testament to the miracle of rebirth…and the Little One eagerly waits to see what will emerge from the tomb-wrappings. He has more faith than many of us older, who tend to forget that New Life is more than just a season of the year.

Maybe we have grown used to the baggage cluttering up our insides, learned to live crippled because we don’t know how to clean it all out…or maybe we are just afraid of the change and what might come next. Like Gideon, it seems better to keep your head down and stick with what you know (no matter how it presses and chafes) than listen for Someone calling you to a new name that makes no sense and means stepping out into the unknown. The older you get, the more transformation can feel impossible.

But this is the other side of Easter Sunday, and the angels are reminding us “…the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God. For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:35, 37), and “He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay.” (Matthew 28:6) No one is too old, too broken, too jaded for a resurrection. And a little boy waits beside a cocoon for a new creature to emerge, and the Holy Spirit keeps on blowing this wind of change, calling us to throw open the windows and let Him make us new.


…we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at Him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!

2 Corinthians 5:16-17, The Message


My future hangs on this
You make preciousness from dust
Please don’t stop creating me….
Oh Your cross, it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross, it’s where my hope restarts
A second chance is Heaven’s heart

Second Chances, Rend Collective

A Building Permit

Originally published August 2013.

It’s hard to explain when they ask how I can let my daughter go away: that I’ve been doing that since I sent her off to school and it’s not getting any easier through the years… that some things become inevitable after awhile… that the consequences of choices play out gradually, and it gets hard to pinpoint where the actual milestones of decision stand in the long line of days. And when I think hard, I’m not sure I would choose differently, even if I could roll all the days up and start again. At the time it was the right thing to do, so would I really go back and change a lifetime of days, just because I am struggling with their logical outcome?

Maybe that’s why Jesus asked His followers to count the cost of what they were building: “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28) Be sure this is the path you want to take, because it will lead you places you cannot yet see, and if you are serious about following Him you need to be serious about seeing it through to the end. Investing in eternity, by definition, requires the spending of this world– this life– for something beyond (although I think most of us cling to the hope that we can have both if we spend carefully).

But then I read again what Jesus was saying about cost, and I know He was already looking ahead to His own wholehearted outpouring, knowing exactly where every step on that path would take Him, ready to give up everything for the sake of His Father’s plan. Maybe our short-sightedness works for our good sometimes, because if we could see all our days ahead, I wonder if we would have the courage to live them. Yet He asks us to look, to consider where we are going and how we will invest our lives, to build our days on those decisions, those values. “…Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24) This is how Jesus defines success: a life built on the bedrock of God’s truth, one decision after another, until it stands a tower-monument to God’s glory.

This has been on my mind for some months now, how if we are to live with integrity in the present, we must remain faithful to the right decisions we made in the past. When we teach our children to submit to God and trust His plans for them…tell them He is good, and His loving-kindness reaches to the heavens…model giving our lives away for the sake of the Kingdom…then it’s too late to dig in our heels and protest when they begin building on that foundation a tower that looks different than we thought it would. And if we cannot accept the results of our teaching– the practical outworking in our own lives and theirs– because it is uncomfortable or unpleasant, then what does it say about how truly we believe it? Did we imagine any of us could build for eternity without cost or effort?

Like Jesus said, “…Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24) Would we really want our children to do anything less?


And I will follow,
My heart surrendered;
My Jesus, I am Yours.
And I will follow,
My life in your hands;
My Jesus, I am Yours.

I Surrender All, Elevation Worship


I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18

Measuring Hearts and Camels and Other Impossible Things

Commitment is costly–don’t let anyone tell you different. Saying yes to one thing means shutting the door to something else. Going one direction means turning your back on another possibility. Focus on something you desire, make it your priority, and you’ve already assigned lesser value to a myriad of other good things in life. And that is perfectly all right, because we were given free will in the Beginning, and told to use it well and wisely in order to have the best life. But somewhere along the line we picked up the notion that we should be able to have everything we reach for, without strings or consequences. Maybe it has to do with our losing sight of what choosing the best life looked like. Or maybe it’s this delusion we seem to have in general about limits: like I can always squeeze in one more appointment on my calendar, talk to one more person, work all day and make my house/kids/face/dinner photo-op perfect, and still have fun me-time with friends. It’s just a click away. And everyone else is doing it, so it must be possible, right? Being more-than-enough is pretty much expected, these days.

But it is costly, oh yes. No one talks about the toll it takes on heart and mind and sleep and self-image. A wise woman once said that “perfectionism is slow death by self” (Ann VosKamp), and I would be the first to raise my hand and attest to the impossible weight of trying to be good enough, to get everything right enough, in order to have the life I thought I needed. The hard truth is that I will never be enough– that I am indeed limited by the hours in a day, by the physical needs to eat and sleep and play, by the particular frailty of the way I am wired, by the circumstances of the life I have been given. And Jesus’ gracious invitation offers healing and freedom to every heart looking for a better life: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) I could trust an invitation like that…let go of all my striving in order to find rest. Leave behind this busted-up heart for an easier way. It would be so worth it. The Musician-King wrote it in one of his songs, that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:18) When we are ready to give up, at the end of what we can do, then we are finally in the right place to find Him near and big enough for every need.

And that would be me at the end of my rope, because grace costs too, for all it is freely given. It means stripping off pride, feeling the shame of your humanity in all its not-enoughness. It costs in tears and broken dreams of what you thought your life would look like, shattered ideas of who you are, burst illusions of control… but if it was all a house of cards anyway, what do you really have to lose? And Jesus keeps talking about the impossibility of camels going through the eye of a needle, and aren’t we all just as silly, trying to get what we long for by our own efforts? Grace says the best life is a gift, because Jesus was willing to pay for it entirely– an impossibly crazy plan to rescue our run-ragged hearts. “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.(Ephesians 2:8-9) I could trust a sacrificial love like that…banish fear and run into the arms that accept me completely. It’s more than okay to mourn your own need, to turn in a new direction and leave the past behind when it means finding what you’ve been looking for all along. All you have to do is say yes to Someone who loves you enough to move heaven and earth to rescue you. Terrifying? Absolutely, but so worth it.

The Church-planter Paul tells us over and over again that this is what we were made for, the wisest choice. Because when we choose Jesus, He is everything we could have hoped for in life, and all His plans are for our best life: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.(Ephesians 2:10) On this side of surrender, it doesn’t seem like that big of a leap after all. It has been so worth it.


This is love
Bending skies to heal the broken
This is love
Bleeding life into the grave
Hear the sound
As our hearts cry out forever
Singing hallelujah
Breathing in a brand new world

Empires, Hillsong Umited


…may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Ephesians 3:18-20

Courage to do the Hard Things

We are all looking for a change, here at the start of a new year, and only in a good way. More peace, better health, less grief, calmer waters to navigate. I keep thinking about that One Word to adopt for the year, and how I would like it to be an easy word, just for once this time. And I know we all feel the same way, that life has been too complicated lately, too much to handle, and we could use a break– and who hasn’t felt the deceptive longing for “back to normal” (as if we didn’t used to feel stressed about life at all?). But let’s face it, if we are looking for growth, and becoming our best people, easy doesn’t look that good on us.

I look back over the past twelve months, and see the difficult paths we have walked, and how we have found God there, and unexpected grace leaking out of every weak and broken place. I wonder if I would trade any of it, given the chance. There have been holy treasures hidden along the way, and the beauty of shared burdens. We are not the same people we were a year ago, thanks to these hard things, and that’s not all bad.

I used to tell my kids “just because something is hard, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it,” and “anything worth doing, is worth doing well.” Because I wanted them to know that the longer, harder way is usually the best way. Better results in life, and better for our inner life of heart and spirit and mind. We were created to do the hard and wonderful things: to steward this created world for God’s glory, to walk with Him and worship Him with our whole selves, to image His beautiful nature. A high calling. A weighty responsibility. The biggest challenge is not getting distracted by shiny things that look more fun, or listening to the whispers that you deserve a break, just a little more me time.

The writer of Hebrews could have been standing here with us looking out at the year ahead, when he encouraged his readers: “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.” (Hebrews 12:12-13). It’s solid wisdom for anyone: Pause and regroup, take a fresh hold on your life, and make a sensible plan for moving forward so that you will grow strong and not stumble. And he knew we needed that reminder that God is for us, acting with love and purpose– that what He does is “always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness.” (12:10)

There is nothing that can happen in the coming year that can overwhelm me or destroy me, if He is working good for me– so why would I fear? Just take the next step, into the unknown, and know that He will walk there too. And I can hear the promise that the Prophet Isaiah recorded for his people, still ringing true: “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...” (Isaiah 43:2-3)

I am here, Lord, at the beginning of a new year, and you have my full attention. Everything may change this year, for all we know, but we know You will not. You are “the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). And You will be right there in the middle, whenever we look for You, just as You were this past year. No matter what we face, You will shine brighter. In every clamor of voices, You will speak more clearly. Regardless of how steep the path or how deep the valley, Your hand will uphold us. Only let us fix our eyes on You and run joyfully.


Your love surrounds me
When my thoughts wage war;
When night screams terror
There Your voice will roar.
Come death or shadow,
God, I know Your light will meet me there.
When fear comes knocking,
There You’ll be my guard;
When day breeds trouble,
There You’ll hold my heart.
Come storm or battle,
God, I know Your peace will meet me there,
Again and again.

Prince of Peace, Hillsong United


…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus….For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3

The Light Has Come

Seven hundred years before Christmas, the Prophet Isaiah wrote, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2) And our hearts leap at his words, because we know that darkness– have lived and worked here all our days, pushing back against it to build a life here for the people we love. Some days we feel like we are actually gaining ground in making the world a better place. And we string up the lights at Christmas, and make as much joy as we can for one another in the strength of that hope, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if there really were an ending to the long night, a light as certain and overwhelming as the dawn? And right here in the bright bustle of the holiday season, all our dreams and fears intersect. We are decking our halls and making merry with gift-giving, but our hearts long to hear the old familiar tale of a baby in a manger and shepherds under the stars. Remember, it whispers, a light has dawned.

So we light our small candles in the dark tonight, and remind ourselves of the true message of Christmas: that we are not alone in the dark. We have a Savior and He has come to us, and a new age has dawned. Isaiah knew the names we would call Him, long before He was born: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) But his mother called Him Jesus, “because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) We could never have guessed it would happen this way, this mystery of God’s grace that lights our darkness. As one contemporary writer puts it: “Our God who breathes stars in the dark– He breathes Bethlehem’s star, then takes on lungs and breathes in stable air. We are saved from hopelessness, because God came with infant fists and opened wide His hand to take the iron-sharp edge of our sins.” (Ann VosKamp)

Isaiah exults in the dawning glory of God over a land struggling in chaos and injustice. “For unto us a Child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:6) And we rejoice in this at Christmas, because we have seen Jesus, and the way He lived and died for us here. His friend John wrote, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) This is the best gift, this promise of a happy ending, and life that does not end with the here and now. The Light of the World is here with us, and the darkness cannot extinguish it, no matter how grim the world may seem, at times. If Light was dawning on the world on that first Christmas when Jesus came, it will blaze like lightning when He finally comes to set everything right.

So tonight we hold our candles in expectation and we sing, looking forward to the day when His radiant dawning light wipes out all the darkness everywhere, forever. This is the hope of Advent, whispering in our hearts: He has come for us; He is coming again for us. And the angels sing it back to us in the Christmas sky, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)


A child has been given,
The King of our freedom;
Sing for the light has come!
This is Christmas.
Come and adore Him,
And bring gifts before Him;
Joy to the world,
Worship the Son!
This is Christmas.

We Have A Savior, Hillsong


And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:3-5

Prayer That Changes Me

When I was younger I envied Jesus’ disciples who could see the expressions on His face and hear the sound of His voice, share a smile or a sandwich. But when you really think about it, what could be better than to have His Spirit living beside us and in us, as close as our next breath? As intimate as our hidden thoughts. As powerfully at work in our hearts as He is in the fiery explosion of the stars. I can’t help but think Who am I to have a conversation with the One who spoke the world into existence?

And how could we fail to be changed as mortal beings, if we are sharing life with the immortal Creator? It is rather like being in a divine incubator, and us growing under the careful attention of His presence. It is slow, over many years, but if you watch closely you could see the inner self gradually healing from its wounds, the mind’s eye growing straight and true, the heart filling with God’s own love and goodness– and us turning into the creatures we were meant to be from the Beginning. Our elders have always told us this, to be careful of the company we keep, because we become like those who have our attention. The Church-planter Paul explains this to the believers in Corinth in full expectation of their becoming: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 3:18)

Often what we label as prayer is only a reciting of requests (as if it were a necessary sacrifice of time in order to get the desired results?) and perhaps all of us have veered into that dead-end alley, one time or another. It is at least a starting place. But the Biblical word pictures of prayer are much more vivid and dramatic: Jacob wrestling all night long with the angel of the Lord, Paul challenging the believers to take up arms with him in prayer against the forces of darkness, Jesus’ story of a woman pounding persistently on the judge’s door in the middle of the night. By these accounts, prayer is more like the heavy labor of the soul, the work that reshapes us. Because there is this frequent clash between what I experience here and what God says is true; this constant pull between the old self and the new self; this divide between who I am now and who I want to be. And He is calling us to be brave enough to seek for answers, to not be satisfied with where we are, but to see more of His glory. If I want to experience the presence of the Almighty in life-changing prayer, I had better be willing to roll up my sleeves and step out into the unknown and unexpected.

And He promises to meet us there, when we trust Him enough to pour out our hearts to Him. He says we will find Him when we seek His help, His ways….says we will not be disappointed when we wrangle emotions into submission to His will. The prayer that changes me isn’t afraid to be vulnerable in its need. Big-brother James tells us straight out: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5) I can invite God’s resources into my everyday life because He has already given me an open invitation to ask. But the Musician-King David sings it best: “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5) The prayer that changes me wants to see His face more than anything His hands can give. Only the truly hungry spirit can say with Jacob: “I will not let You go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26) It’s clear that prayer is as much about the condition of my inner life as it is about the condition of my outer circumstances.

At its heart, prayer is pouring out our desires and emotions to God, stripping away all the masks– because we know He sees us clearly already, and who wants a relationship that is based on something false? And when we can stop hiding ourselves, we are in turn able to see Him more clearly; when we have nothing left to say but the groanings of our hearts which only the Spirit can hear, then we can hear His words to us; in that space where Self lets go of everything but God, there is room for the greatest change.

Not that we need only pray for the big things in life. The Musician-King sang in wonder that the Creator would “see me when I travel and when I rest at home…know everything I do… know what I am going to say even before I say it.” (Psalm 139:3-4) He is right here with me in the middle of every step of every mundane day, making holy the common ground of life as surely as He did to that flaming bush for the Shepherd Moses. And maybe as we learn to talk about every little thing with Him, we are taking the small steps that will enable us to tackle the bigger issues in time. Conversations with Someone we cannot see might seem awkward, or maybe will come in starts and stops, or even feel like duty at times….doesn’t the beginning of anything new feel like that? But our prayers grow up with us, as we persist. Prayer that changes me is, above all, the constant everyday process of bending my human will into agreement with God’s Spirit. We can hardly fail to be transformed, if we are sharing life with the immortal Creator…every part of us becoming beautiful in His light.


True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that– it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of heaven and earth.

Charles Spurgeon, The Power of Prayer in The Believer’s Life


On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night. Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. I cling to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:6-8

At Home in Him

We’ve been talking for months about knowing God and becoming who we were meant to be, finding our identity in Him alone. Because at the heart of us all is a desire to be seen, to be known and accepted…to be loved deeply and truly. And we will go to any lengths for our whole lives, trying to prove our worth, justify our lives as significant, or at least hide the fear that we may never amount to anything.

And I can’t help but think of an obscure Quaker woman named Elizabeth, who lived in the mid-1800’s, known by all accounts for her gentle spirit and the light she shone into the lives around her. Her collection of letters to family and friends reveals a young woman who desired to please God in the small things of life– at home with her family and in her sphere of influence– to encourage others to greater depths of faith and perseverance. Elizabeth died at age thirty-four, in childbirth, and left only that small quiet legacy of good deeds and a life well-lived. I guess what stands out are the glowing memories of others who were touched by her life, and the realization of the everyday ways her life mattered.*

There is truth here, as we study how knowing God gives us a framework for living. It’s natural to apply our knowledge of God to big concepts like sovereignty, the problem of pain, personal free will, accountability, and the breadth of eternity; but if we fail to apply our theology to the everyday, then we are missing something basic and important. God is real. And life is full of heart-breakingly real struggles. And we are real and fragile people with such needy spirits. Our knowledge of God has to affect real life, if we are going to trust Him for the next life. Even the word points us to it: know Himyada… understanding by the everyday experience of someone….what moves a person, drives him, makes him who he is….the intimate knowing of someone’s heart and mind from moment to moment, so that you can finish each other’s sentences, the way an old married couple does.

And that’s the crazy thing, that the Creator always wanted us to know Him in this face-to-face way. Walked into the Garden each day in the Beginning and loved the way His children came running to greet Him, treasured all the things they had to say to Him– the way we hang on every lisping word of a toddler, cherish the sturdy dimpled limbs, and celebrate every gleeful discovery of the world. And when we grew up and ran away, He followed, just to make sure we would be able to find our way back to Him when we got tired of living on our own.

It sounds like a big challenge to produce a life “worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1) But Hosea the prophet writes down what God is saying, showing His heart for us: “…I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6) This is a God who finally wraps Himself in skin and walks into everyday life to show us Who He Is in living color, to bring us Home: God Himself walking in the dirt of the world He has made, listening to our voices and living our lives and carrying all our sorrows. This is where we experience Him then, in the mundane, and the blessings, and the rugged reality of everyday life.

And He says it is making me new, knowing Him like that– changing the way I think and act and live. Just like life together changes an old married couple who keep on loving each other. I see the spiritual legacy an ordinary Quaker woman left behind, and it is both inspiring and challenging, because she was not aspiring to greatness, only trying to follow her Lord Jesus with single-minded devotion. I see how we can fill our heads with intellectual knowledge of God, but our experience of Him must be built in the everyday world, one day at a time, as Elizabeth learned. God is not calling us just to study Him, but to know Him, and this is what makes a life worthy.

God’s heart for people shows me how to forgive those who are angry and hurtful. His love shows me what it means to be patient with little ones who only know their own needs. His becoming flesh-and-blood reminds me there is joy and fulfillment in serving, in giving up my rights. His words teach me how to trust when I am worried, protect from the fear that stalks in the darkness, caution me to stay close when other voices clamor for attention. This is theology that matters; this is a life that matters. So I walk beside Him and imitate what He does, just to see Him smile, the way a child adores a beloved papa. And it will happen in the smallest of ways, decisions made in the moment that gradually change who I am and how I think, from the inside out.

I need a theology that intersects with everyday stuff, because right here is where I need God’s help, and because right here is where deception and discouragement and fear come sneaking in. Because in Him I discover who I am and what this life is for. Because wherever He is, there is my heart at Home.

*Memoir of Elizabeth T. King


 It is poor religion– is it not?– which can not bear little trials, and keep in a meek and quiet spirit under petty provocations and discouragements! And yet how many fail! How I do!

Elizabeth T. King


Keep me within Your shadow–
Lord tether my heart to Yours.
I want nothing without Your presence;
All I want is You.

Street called mercy, Hillsong United

Giving Thanks

The cobalt glass on the windowsill.
The tree slowly turning to flame across the way.
The smells of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.
Crisp, juicy-sweet apples.
Hugs that let me know I am not alone.
These are things I am thankful for today–
The offerings of praise lifted up
To recognize Your beauty, Your goodness,
painted across the canvas of Your creation.
I can taste and see that You are good,
And I will lift up my worship against the Darkness,
Hold fast to the Truth that has overcome.
There is hope that waits for the Morning,
And thanks-giving is our battle song.


I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth….I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

Psalm 34:1, 4-5


…’God is good’ is not a stale one-liner when all’s  happy but a saving lifeline when all’s hard….And every time I give thanks, I confess to the universe the goodness of God.

Ann VosKamp

The Most Important Thing for Women to Know

“I know all the right things in my head, but when it comes down to it, I am not really convinced God loves me.” She said it quietly across the table, almost hesitantly, as if afraid to say it out loud. But I understand, and have said it myself, that it is not His power or ability that we doubt, so much as His heart. And it’s like we are all back in the Garden standing beneath a tree with the whispering in our heads…. Maybe God isn’t who He says He is… and maybe He is not really good… and what if His love is not something we can trust, after all? It is the place we are stuck, that one moment in history working itself out in our individual lives over and over again, and our experiences in this world confirm that true love is an iffy business, and trust is a risk.

Even after we have been to the cross and have been re-created, we are often left with the lingering fear. Because knowing your sin and being forgiven is only a starting place in many ways, and feeling safe and truly loved is something different that might take a lifetime to gain. And we can explain all the practical ways to learn about God, but the only way for a woman to know for sure that she is loved, to sink that Truth deep into her heart, is to connect what she is learning about God to everyday life, put her theology into practice, till the old whispering lies have faded and she can hear a new voice saying, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17) 

We talked about Mary’s anointing of Jesus, the way she has become the example of lavish, unrestrained giving, holding nothing back in her adoration. What lies beneath her gift often goes unnoticed, because we (along with the disciples) get completely sidetracked by the value of her perfume.  But Jesus considered her a friend, knew her as well as He did any of the Twelve, knew her heart and her struggles, and the whole thing is really about relationship and what she believes.

So we backtrack to discover how she gets to this dinner-time story, and we see her sitting at her brother’s bedside, watching him die… and Jesus ignoring her summons. We see her grieving at home when He finally comes asking for her. We hear her honest acknowledgement of bone-deep pain and loss: “…if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (John 11:32) Some struggles break you to your knees, and oddly enough, if you are looking for Truth, that is often the best place to find it. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

It’s not so much a matter of looking in the right place as it is how much you want to find the answers; and in the wilderness– in the dark places of the soul– when your need is most desperate, there is nothing you want more. Mary is desperately searching for answers and she finds them in the Son of God standing right beside her, weeping. God’s Words echo down six hundred years with His promise: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Isaiah 49:15-16)

So here at the dinner table, with the fragrance of incense filling the room, we find Mary at Jesus feet, like she was the first time we met her… and her sister Martha is still doing what she does best by serving everyone. But this time Mary comes in worship, and in complete confidence of Jesus’s love and acceptance of her unexpected outpouring.

When she wrestled honestly with God’s plans for her life, because she could not understand what He was doing or how this could possibly be for the best, it was in her relationship with Jesus that she found her answers. He was incomprehensibly Other-than-human, and still the close friend who sat and talked for hours in their living room. He was powerful enough to raise the dead, and still able to feel their pain. He had His eyes on an eternal Plan for the universe, and He heard His friends in Bethany asking for help. It was her sister Martha who said it straight out, in the midst of her own grief, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:27) And they stood together, those two sisters, and watched their brother walk out of his tomb, while their Friend stood beside them and looked ahead to His own soon-coming fight with Death.

In this dinner-time story we see a woman who knows Jesus as Friend and Savior; who can live out her faith in confidence to serve Him, even when it goes against cultural standards; who knows above all that she is loved and accepted by the One who matters most. In a matter of days, Jesus will demonstrate unequivocally what God’s love looks like, in all its world-changing power. As the Disciple John will write later, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) All our names, written forever on His palms as a sign of His love.

See, the more we get to know God and see Him at work in our lives, the more we know His love, and the more we realize we can trust Him– and this is what every woman needs to know above all. God loves us…”He loves us, oh how He loves us”…this is the song we will keep on singing.


So amazing to think about my life;
And after all that I’ve walked through,
I still see that
All I’ve ever known is Your love, Jesus.
Doesn’t matter the ugliness of the past;
Doesn’t matter the pain of the past;
This is how great Your love is,
How redeeming Your love is…
All I’ve ever known
Is a love that runs to the ends of the earth
Just to find me.

Coming Through, Kim Walker-Smith


This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins….And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.

1 John 4: 10, 16-18