Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 76

Wisdom Reads

Though Wyndham was always an excellent student, in elementary school he was occasionally chastised by teachers for reading. Yes, you read correctly. It seems he would creatively have his “correct” school textbook open while reading a biography tucked neatly inside of his textbook. He would keep reading this way until the teacher noticed—or until he had read all the biographies in the library, which he did. His love for reading continued through the years.

Wyndham is in good company. Certainly, Jesus was an avid student of the Old Testament, as he quoted it often. Also, we know the Apostle Paul greatly valued “books.”

Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
  I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
  When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
(2 Timothy 4:11-13)

I’m reminded of Wyndham’s love of reading tonight as we watch our beloved Red Sox in the World Series. (Stay with me, Los Angeles friends.) Wyndham had no television when he was growing up, so he read. His parent’s “no television” choice had one exception. Every year, for the World Series, his dad would rent a television. This was a big event. The World Series is still a big event in this house.

Reading helps us gain wisdom. Of course, nothing surpasses the importance of reading the Bible. I love reading the Bible but must fight to read it simply to hear God speaking to me. It’s easy for me to read it for teaching purposes, or for ways I can share it with someone else. All good. But, the most important way for me to read the Bible is to really let the Spirit speak to me. In the quiet (or even the noise), God is always speaking to me. Then, I must ruminate on what he says…concentrating on what he speaks to my heart. God’s Spirit communicates.

Today I read a Facebook post by Jonathan Laing, quoting his young daughter saying she was “Missed— Underheard,” thinking she was saying “misunderstood.” I thought this was a brilliant perspective of “misunderstood.”  I wonder how often God feels like he is altogether missed. And, underheard.

Reading shows that we desire to learn. Reading expands our imagination and gives us new perspectives. Reading makes us think, and if we let it—makes us better. I love reading spiritual books and am energized and called higher by many books. Sadly, Wyndham can no longer hold a book to read, so I read to him. This has resulted in an unforeseen blessing. Most nights I read some Scriptures out loud, or at times read something I have read in a book I know he would appreciate. I have learned that reading out loud adds a new dimension to reading, which is good. “Community reading” gives us the opportunity to grow together.

I must close here. The World Series is on, and this is no time to read…or write.

If you would be so kind, in your comments feel free to share a spiritual growth book that has served you well, and perhaps something about the book. I’ll post a collection. Happy reading, and go Red Sox.

My husband is a good sport with my photo requests.


4 Ways to Feed Your Faith

Carnivore. Vegetarian. Vegan. Gluten free. Dairy free. Organic. Eating for our blood type. So many “eating” options are before us, at least in the land where I live. We give great attention to our food intake, knowing it affects our physical health. 

I’ve often asked myself: What would my physical health be like if I ate physical food in same way I ate spiritual food?

Would I be healthy and energetic? Malnourished? Would I have so little nourishment that my appetite would be gone? Would I be getting by, but with needed changes? Or, would I be dead?

These are important questions to ponder—because spiritually, like physically, we are what we eat.

It’s easy to eat food on the fly, while running out the door. Or, to just grab something someone hands to us in a drive-through. However, these aren’t the meals that do us the most good, or the ones which we remember.

Do you feed your faith “on the fly,” or mostly when someone hands something to you in a “spiritual drive-through?” Do you pay careful attention to your intake, or lack thereof? It’s crucial to take time to eat at the spiritual dinner table.

How healthy is your faith? Is it well fed and growing, or is it waning? Thankfully, we can build ourselves up in faith. While we can become physically healthier through our eating habits, surely eternal life is of greater importance than physical life.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
(Jude 1:20-21)

Maybe you have been disappointed, or have been struggling to see God at work in your life—wanting to see victories that don’t seem to happen. Perhaps you feel as if life is going in the opposite direction from your desires. As a result, faith can suffer– tempting us to lose our appetite for the spiritual nourishment we need. Consequently, we are more apt to consume “junk food” that’s neither satisfying, nor good for us. It can come in the form of mind consuming social media and entertainment, or people or things that confuse our spiritual focus.

So how do we feed our faith?  Here are some simple reminders.

  1. We’ve got to eat the meat—or at least protein. There’s no substitute for opening the Bible and taking in the words of God. When we read, we can remember the power of God, his kindness, his love, and his truths…for faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

And, let the word digest. Take time to really listen. Take time to see God. See him at creation. See him with Moses, David, and Mary. See him raise the dead and see Jesus raised from death. Be amazed at the magnitude and minutia of his creation. Take time to read the word. Take time to hear the word spoken. Sometimes, hearing the word of God spoken out loud speaks to me even more keenly, while at other times silent meditation moves my heart and mind.

  1. Invite others to “eat with you.” We need each other. Sometimes I need to “do my own cooking” spiritually, while at other times my faith is fed through others. When friends are hurting, or going through trials or life changes we often encourage them by sending physical meals. Often, food prepared for others is arranged through an internet tool called “the meal train.” Perhaps we could also encourage each other with “spiritual meal trains,” as together we encourage one another’s faith.  When I feel weak or hurting, nothing encourages me more than receiving a meaningful Scripture that speaks to my particular needs.

We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.
In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know…Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.  
(1 Thess. 3:2-4,10)

 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong– that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.  (Romans 1:1-12)

It’s a special treat to “go out to eat.” Likewise, it’s a privilege and special time to “go out to eat spiritual food” as we meet together as a church, worship together, and  hear the word preached.  Neglecting this privilege and responsibility will weaken our faith.

  1. Sharing our personal faith feeds our faith. Yes, inviting people to church can be helpful…as friends may come and open their hearts to seeking God. But there is so much more involved in sharing our faith. Sharing our faith reminds us of what God has done in our lives. As you read the book of Acts, the disciples went everywhere sharing what God had done in their lives. It’s crucial, as the Scriptures state, to be active in sharing our faith. This feeds our faith.

  I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers,
because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.
  I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
(Philemon 1:4-6)

As we hear encouraging news of how God is working in others’ lives, it strengthens our faith. We can’t hear these workings of God if we aren’t actively sharing them. Sometimes, without this focus, we can forget the mighty ways God has and is continuing to work on our behalf.
 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. (Romans 1:8)

  1. Take supplements to strengthen your faith.

Often, in addition to reading the Bible, gaining encouragement from others and being encouraged, and sharing my faith I’m strengthened by spiritual books and spiritual songs. I try to always be reading spiritual books, and I’ve gained so much from them. At times, music strengthens my faith like nothing else can do at the time. 

  When you come, be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers.
(2 Timothy 4:14 NLT)

Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!
(Colossians 3:16 MSG)

You may feel you have little faith, but it can grow if you feed it. Fortunately, our faith does not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power. Even a little faith, with God’s huge power, can move mountains.
 I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it— and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it,
  which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.
(1 Corinthians 2:3-5 MSG, emphasis added)




I Know Exactly Who I Am!

Recent conversation between my daughter and granddaughter:

Gracie:  Mommy, can you take my trash? (Gracie holds out a chewed on apple core.)

Mommy:  Gracie, I’m driving. You can just put it in the paper bag you are holding.

Gracie: I need you to take it.

Mommy: No Gracie. You can put it in your bag.

(Gracie continues to argue her point. As mommy reaches back for a “friendly knee squeeze” Gracie quickly thrusts her apple core into Mommy’s hand.)

Mommy: (In a stern voice, maybe some steam coming from ears) Gracie, just who do you think you are?

Gracie: I KNOW EXACTLY WHO I AM . img_0740

And there you have it. An interaction between a mom and a perfectly precious yet sometimes precocious 5-year-old. Yes, she was disciplined and was penitent. She tests her borders for sure, but truly is a sweetheart…who knows exactly who she is…Just sometimes has to add a dose of humility.

I love this confident quality which exudes from Gracie. She is secure in her own skin and is not afraid to step out with surety. My mother-in-law had a description for this quality in children that surely fits her—“a real ringed-tailed-peeler.”  I have no idea what that is, but it sounds about right.

Or, as Shakespeare penned, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”

The truth is, when we know who we are (as Christians) our confidence can be rock solid. We can know exactly who we are. Perhaps we shouldn’t shove our trash in people’s fists…but we can be secure and confident from deep inside our souls.

When we aren’t exactly sure who we are, insecurity reigns. This insecurity can present itself in myriad ways, most which are not helpful in building loving relationships. We might withdraw, or attempt to “prove ourselves,” or perhaps look for confidence in a drink. When insecure, we may be easily angered when someone points out a weakness, thinking our “felt worthlessness” is accentuated. Often, insecurity breeds people-pleasing.

Certainly the ways we were raised and treated contribute to our confidence, or lack thereof. Our background, ethnicity, education, appearance, and finances can add to or subtract from the value we place on ourselves.

I have been struck by the millions of women around the world who marched this past weekend. As a woman, I am deeply inspired and humbled by the many heroic women who have gone before me, and even sacrificed their lives so that I can work, vote, have a voice, and much more. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. But there is more.These, alone, are not enough to give me the identity which brings confidence and inner peace.

One thing is abundantly clear.  We all long to feel valued, considered, and respected. We want to matter.

I firmly believe no one lifted the society imposed barriers like the radical man, Jesus. No one serves as a better example or inspires me more to learn “exactly who I am.”

Jesus knew who he came from and where he was going (John 8:14). Because of his sure identity and confidence he:

Was not a people pleaser (Mark 12:13-14).

Had inner certitude, which made him impervious to criticism.

Did not feel servile even when serving others. He simply focused on serving God.
  Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;
  so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
(John 13:3-5)

Did not retaliate, but entrusted himself to God who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23).

The truth is, only through holding to the convictions that I was created by God, belong to him, and am living for something greater than and beyond this world can I begin to live like this…with this same kind of assurance and confidence.

Nothing else can provide me this inner confidence and peace—No man, no family, no job, no political scene, no money, no circumstance.

Though I am deeply grateful for my husband and family, my job, and so many blessings…only with God can I say the words of my granddaughter, “I know exactly who I am.” Who am I?

I am planned (Psalm 139:13-14, 71:6)

I am God’s child, with his love lavished on me (1 John 4:16, 3:1)

I am his treasured possession (Jeremiah 32:40; Exodus 19:5)

I am thought about (Psalm 139:17-18)

I am a song in his heart (Zephaniah 3:17)

I am carried (Isaiah 40:11)

I am engraved on his palm (Isaiah 49:16)

I am not separated from his love (Romans 8:38-39)

When I know who I am, then, and only then, can I strive to imitate those qualities of Jesus. Only when I am sure of myself, can I be free from myself to serve, to not retaliate, and to not care what others think. I have a purpose. I can go to sleep each night with peace, awaking with hope and God’s mercies…new every morning.img_0494

Do you know exactly who you are?









The Little Fox and the Little Cockerpoo

There are big things in life that give us pause—and tempt us with worry. Things like illness, job struggles, and conflicts.  They call us to a deeper and higher faith.

Then there are other things that are small, and stupid, and annoying, and seemingly insignificant in the face of life and love. Often, it’s those things that try to steal my joy and pulverize my peace. A verse in Song of Songs 2:15 describes this type of annoyance:  Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

And, if these foxes aren’t caught they can put a choke-hold on our spiritual growth.

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.  Luke 8:14

For me, this fox recently took the form of an eighteen pound ball of fluff—my thirteen-year-old cockerpoo.20150417_013724

Until recently I had a love-hate relationship with him. You see—about a year ago, after his dog cousin came for a visit, he felt obligated to claim every space where his dog cousin had ever set his paw. Yes, this became a terrible daily ritual. It began in the yard…where every blade of grass and rock or pebble seemingly called out to him for ownership. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.

I would hold my breath each time I walked through my front door, wondering what claimed treasures awaited me.  I would then cautiously peer at all of the usual suspects—the front left wooden leg of my new chair and the right wooden leg of the same chair.  (He was at least symmetrical in his claims.)  I’d then venture over to the plastic bin containing our golden retriever’s food—to find it had also been claimed. The trashcan, the vacuum cleaner…yes, they all had his initials written on them—PP.

If ever a new object entered the room, he was determined to “own it”.  I gasped whenever a guest placed their purse or briefcase down on our floor, knowing it was a race against time as to who could reach it first…him or me.  I would hastily grab said object as if I were sliding into base—placing said object somewhere above the four-inch- high margin required to be safe from “claimage territory.” Every day, twice a day, I folded about six paper towels and placed them under the left wooden leg of my chair and the right wooden leg of the same chair. A paper towel palette was also carefully placed under the dog food bin. This way, I could “catch” the claimage and throw it away. My house began to look like a sea of Bounty.

I explained to my little dog that really…he could have it all—everything in the house I’d give him—No need to claim it again and again.

He didn’t care.

My husband, sensing my angst, offered various solutions—all of which didn’t end very well for the dog. My dog’s disturbing antics began to haunt me, appearing in my dreams and consuming too many of my thoughts.  Really, how stupid…in the big scheme of things… that my dog’s marking could take so much attention from much more important things.

So, I made an appointment for my dog to see the vet.  I reasoned that there must certainly be a medical reason for such horrible behavior. An infection? A tick eating away his brain?

Alas…He was healthy. The vet, noting we had never had him “fixed”—(duh, he was obviously broken)—suggested we try neutering him. If this didn’t work (which was possible due to his age) then he would be given behavior meds.  If those didn’t work, perhaps I could take them.

My husband was not keen on the idea of spending several hundred dollars for a “possible” solution, suggesting he had much less expensive solutions (of course he meant petting him more often and giving more treats 🙂 ) My veterinarian told me about a shelter an hour away that offered inexpensive neutering.

So, early one snowy morning I drove over an hour to “the place.”  After I dropped him off for the day I went to pray—praying that if this little deed being done would not stop the madness—that he would go quietly and peacefully to doggie heaven (I hoped) while under anesthesia.  Later in the day, when I picked him up he was as frisky as a young pup.  It was obviously not yet his time.  Later that evening…day of surgery…we had a birthday celebration at our house that included all of our family and all family dogs. 16 humans, 5 dogs.  Not a smart move.  My 13-year-old newly-neutered-canine felt the commotion and in his anxiety… peed. Fail.

However, the story didn’t end there. I am thrilled to tell you that this was nearly three months ago…and he has been perfect since that day! No marking…just calm and obedient. (This was perhaps the best $100 I ever spent.)  Fixed and fixed. I now smile when I walk in the front door, as there is nothing to find.  I sent my veterinarian flowers (not really, but did send her a thank you) and no longer fold the paper towels and place them around the house.

The fox has been captured and the dog has been saved. I’m once again sane and can more peacefully focus on matters of greater significance.  That is, until the next fox comes and tries to steal my peace.  Prayerfully I’ll be ready for him.



Spiritual Editing

Mark-ups (whether red, purple or blue) from editing are my friends. A  fellow writer and dear friend once told me of his posture toward editors—they are his welcomed friends. Thanks, Gordon. He told me he accepts most all of the input they give him. Ironically, he taught me much about accepting “spiritual editing” in the same manner. You see, writing books and articles can make me feel very vulnerable. I write because I desire to share things that help me connect to God and his Word.  I pray these things will benefit many others. But the voice in my head can say: What if this sounds stupid, or makes no sense? Is this any good? Is it helpful to anyone? 

That’s why I seek editing for my writing.  Editing exposes and corrects my weaknesses, which really is a great thing.

Likewise, spiritual editing can feel vulnerable as in:  Someone noticed  I’m not perfect 🙂in fact quite flawed.

If I want to be a growing writer, and more importantly a growing Christian, I must seek out and embrace editing.

When I first began writing, I was sort of encouraged—assured that when there were red (or purple or blue) marks on the page it meant my editor felt she had something to work with. That was a start. Sometimes the marks were there because I misused a word or used incorrect grammar. Other times they were there because the flow of words was confusing and difficult for the reader to follow.  Funny thing—in my head the words made sense to me. However, I realize I don’t always see them as others do. In fact, I can know what I want to say so clearly that I can leave out an entire word, reread it five times, and still not realize the word is missing. My editors have been kind—as they intersperse  words of encouragement  among the corrections.  Aaahhh.

Since I see editing as my friend I have learned to accept most all changes that are suggested.  Actually, there is a nice little editing feature you can turn on in most computers. 20150318_130848This “edit mode” allows someone to go back and forth with another person as the document is edited. One can comment on another’s comments and vice versa. Editors can strike through words and give alternative choices. You can also “accept” or “reject” their input.  At times I can be tempted to just accept everything without paying attention–in order to save time. However, I prefer to look at each correction and comment I receive so I can learn from the editing process. There have been occasions where my intention was not clear, so instead of just accepting the changes I learned to reword things–to make my intent clearer. And my editors won’t just give me “answers” but make me think through the process and come up with a new approach. I’m so tempted to just have them do it…but that would hinder my growth. Even though I was instructed in my early  teen years by a teacher who was surely the chief commander of the “Grammar Special Ops Forces” I continually learn new rules of grammar—as well as punctuation possibilities such as hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes—which I’ve come to enjoy.

Currently, I am supervising a college writing internship for a young friend. This puts me on the other side of the red marks—the one sending them. The process is actually easier than I anticipated because of the knowledge and experience I have gained through my personal editing processes. Now, I’m extra grateful that I paid attention and tried to understand the things I was being taught. That instruction makes me a better teacher.  I can’t be a good teacher without being a good learner. I’m sure of that.

When I returned my young friend’s article to him full of “red edits” I reminded him of the same thing I learned from my friend—corrections are your friends.They make you a better writer, which is what you want to become. He responded with these remarks:  “Thanks so much for clarifying the intent behind your edits. It really helps me. While I know intellectually that criticism is extremely important and beneficial, sometimes I get discouraged by lots of it because I think it reflects poorly on who I am. But again, I’m glad you cleared that up! I’m very encouraged.”

I love that response. I thought about the many applications this has for our spiritual progress.  Spiritual editing—discipling (or helping each other to grow to be more Christ-like) is a command from God, and is for our good.

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (Hebrews 3:12-14)

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:23-24)

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. (Colossians 1:28-29)

We can feel insecure when we see or are made aware of areas where we need to grow (as if they aren’t obvious to others anyway.) Or, we can choose to see these things as encouragements and stepping stones toward growth—which are really what we want, right? If we begin with the knowledge that we don’t always see our writing clearly—or much more importantly our hearts— it will be easier to greatly welcome editing—of words or hearts.  Jeremiah 17:9 is really true.  The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

We need help from one another. It’s a good thing—a good friend.

When we learn from the editing in our lives, we can then offer the editing we have learned to others—honest and sincere, while encouraging and confirming of each person’s value to God and to us.

Editing is our friend…so keep your computer and your heart in the “edit mode”.






A Work in Progress

For nine consecutive mornings, while attending a church leadership conference in Singapore, I opened the hotel window curtain to an inspiring view.  It wasn’t a view of the bustling harbor below or of the beautiful orchids carefully planted throughout the city.  This simple view of a construction site inspired me. IMG_5326 It reminded me that I’m under construction too, a “work in progress”  before God (and people.)  I’ve come a long way, but I’m not nearly finished.  I continue to need growth, adjustment, renovation (also known as repentance,) tweaking and shaping.  But, I know that as long as God works on me he is touching me, molding me, and lovingly shaping me.  This reminds me that he cares for me.   If I ever begin to feel like I’m “a finished product” then I’m surely in spiritual trouble.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Corinthians 10:12)

I take heart in the scriptures that speak of the need to add to my faith (2 Peter 1:5-9); to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (2 Peter 3:18); to grow in love and faith. ”We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. (2 Thessalonians 1:3); and to grow in the knowledge that God’s spirit helps me grow “from one degree of glory to another. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Over the past few days in Singapore I have been challenged and inspired by my brothers and sisters from all over the world, who are also works in progress, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

The “construction stories” of my sisters around the world challenge my faith and help me grow.  I’m challenged and inspired by my sisters in India, sometimes enduring intense persecution because of their faith; my sisters in Abidjan, who dodged bullets while serving the church during civil war; my displaced sisters,  affected by the unrest in Eastern Ukraine; my sister from Pakistan, who was enjoying her first international fellowship; my sisters from the Middle East, who experience much less freedom as a woman; my friend with three little ones who recently moved from a comfortable life on the West coast  to serve the poor in Cambodia…and on and on. Your faith calls me higher—as God uses you to reach many women around the world with the wonderful message of hope that Jesus offers.

As I converse, read the Bible, counsel, and share my faith with women who  struggle to find meaning in their lives, overcome addictions, struggle to forgive, and learn to accept that they are indeed loved by God— I am reminded this building pictured—a “work in progress.”  We are all works in progress, but if we let God work on us we will indeed make great progress.   I  recount the many ways God has worked in and on my life…sometimes fulfilling my dreams, sometimes thwarting and changing them and sometimes telling me to “wait.”   The victories and struggles all remind me that I am still a “work in progress.”

The story of Singapore’s history calls me higher.  Fifty years ago the city was filled with poverty, chaos and pain.  Kicked out by its “motherland,” Singapore was left to fend for itself.  Lee Kuan Yew, who became prime minister,  looked out at his impoverished, abandoned and isolated city—and from his love and passion envisioned a nation of unity, strength, beauty and excellence.  49 years later Singapore enjoys all of these and more.  It’s a vibrant, thriving and beautiful city.

It’s so easy to think that God looks at us with disdain, seeing chaos instead of vision and love.  When I think of ways I need to grow in prayer, in boldness, in caring for the poor,… I can think I’ve so far to go.  Yet, God goes to work on me with his construction tools full of love and grace—for which I am so thankful–and I make progress.

If a physical city can be built with human leadership and willing volunteers, imagine what God can do through his spirit to “grow us” to completion as together we build the kingdom of God on this earth.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-6)


What’s Your Caption?

I happened upon this picture a few minutes ago.  My granddaughter is having fun hiding behind a glass pulpit.  I thought this photo communicated a lot with just a few words.

If I were put my face here….would the words shown “‘to’ God Be the Glory” reflect my life?  I pray so.  I want the fruit of God’s spirit to be evident in my life so that God’s glory can be seen and He will  be honored. I love the thought of seeing each of our faces in the background of this picture…reflecting God’s glory.   Glory is sort of a “church word” – where meaning can get lost in familiarity.  I see it most simply as the awesome (in the truest sense of the word) and consuming presence of God!  Imagine with me your face behind this caption.  Does it fit there? Does your expression and demeanor reflect God’s presence?  How about your words…and the tone of your words? Do the choices you are making reflect the glory of God?  What would your caption say?  Our demeanor, words, and choices always reflect something….and could always have an accompanying caption.

After reading many verses about God’s glory….and thinking about my “captions”…I am more keenly equipped to consider what and who I am reflecting as I go through my day.  I’m also grateful, as the scripture below states, that God sees me as a work in progress – that I can grow and change each day.  He is full of grace as well as truth, helping me in my weaknesses to become more like Jesus every day.

16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Cor 3:16-18 (NIV)

16 Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face to face! 17 They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! 18 All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

2 Cor 3:16-18 (MSG)

16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

2 Cor 3:16-18 (NRSV)


Goodbye Ol’ Friend (Jordan Shaw, July 3, 1997 – November 15, 2011)

-Can’t say I’ve ever written a letter to a dog before.  However, as I say goodbye to you, my furry friend,  I want to thank you for several things.  I think you know them, but it’s therapeutic for me to write them down.

It seems a mere “blink” ago when Wyndham and I decided, while on a marriage getaway, to look for you.  We found you in Maine and stopped by to surprise the kids with you, while on our way home.   They were at teen camp, and were so thrilled they could hardly contain themselves.  I felt an instant kinship with you, as we got carsick together on the way home.  Proverbs 6:6 tells of what we can learn from watching the ways of an ant.  Let me tell you ten things I have learned from watching you – the ways of a Golden Retriever.

  1.  You stretched yourself. – You were pretty fast yourself, but as a youngster I loved watching you run with Pharoah, the neighborhood greyhound.  You tried so hard to keep up…and made yourself stronger and faster by having a buddy like that.  I, too, always need to surround myself with people who are better at things than I am.  It makes me grow.
  2.  You thrilled at your purpose. – You came from a hunting heritage.  It was a beautiful thing to see you hunt pheasant (as I’ve seen from the videos). You gave your master, Wyndham, so many great memories.  Your instinct was natural.  God made you to hunt birds…and you did it well.  Though perhaps a “spoiled bird dog” you didn’t hesitate to the thrill of finding birds.  (Well…except the one extremely cold, rainy morning when you knew Wyndham was going hunting and you hid under the covers at my feet.  He looked all over for you.  I told you I wouldn’t tell….but finally had to “spill the beans” – sorry… however I heard you did enjoy it).   When you started to get too old to hunt you went out with the new little guys (the goldens we got for Sam and Kristen) and  showed them what to do.  You trained them when you got too old to run.  Likewise, I know I am so much happier when I am living out the purpose for which God created me.  And…as I age I want to be all about passing what I have learned on to others.
  3. You made friends with everyone. –  I called you the “mayor of the park”.  Since we live across the street from a park you assumed every person or dog that came was there to be your friend.  So many people in this town know your name.  You loved everyone.  You joined in a few soccer games, ended up at neighbors ‘ homes, and even had little girls down the street come knock on our door every afternoon after school to ask, “Can Jordan come out to play with us?”  You have introduced me to so many people, and remembering your ways encourages me to try to make friends with new people.
  4. You loved children. –  You were the best dog a kid or grown up could have.  You made Jacob’s transition into our home so much easier for him…as you seemed to understand Romanian better than anyone. He had many conversations with you. You raced our kids down many a hill while they were sledding.  You welcomed each of the grandchildren – and even let them ride you like a horse.  Even in these last few days, feeling so badly, you patiently lay still while Micah held you around your torso to hug you and kiss you.
  5. You cared, in your own doggy way. –  You had a keen sensitivity to emotions.  Whenever I was sad you would just come close to be near.  That’s all.  Whenever anyone came over to talk with us… if they were hurting or crying you always chose to sit close to them.  Somehow you knew.  I see how sometimes just being there…really helps.
  6.  You took care of your “little brother” and endured his neediness of you. –  Poor Blackie (our cock-a-poo, named by Jacob, who got him for Christmas 10 years ago) will be lost for a while without you.  He has never known life away from you.  He slept inside of your four legs all scooched up to your stomach.  Thinking he is part cat, he constantly groomed you..from the insides of your ears to your gums (I know…disgusting)….and you let him!  Even last week, though you can’t walk, you somehow managed to get up when he was being chased by a dog.  You were a great big brother.  I can sometimes get annoyed by others’ neediness.  May I learn to have the patience you showed.
  7. You weren’t afraid to ask. – You loved sweets, particularly chocolate chip cookies.  I never could resist those eyes.  They caused me to give my food away to you, even the last licks of my ice cream (and I don’t like to part with my ice cream).  You assumed I should have a piece of popcorn and then you should get a piece…and back and forth we would go.  You mastered the art of propping your head on my knee and giving me the “sad eyes”.  You loved our “Nana and Papa nights” where you got lots of pizza from begging with all the grandkids.  You were persistent…and it worked.  While I don’t want to be a nag…sometimes I lack the courage to ask for things.
  8. You never had a bad day. –  You were so consistent in your demeanor…always happy.  You got lyme disease several times, hit by a car once,  skunked a few times, and were constantly losing your hair. (Wow, I even think I’ll miss using the lint roller several times a day.) You were in pain often this last year but never complained.   You just stayed happy….this is one more reason it’s just hard to say goodbye.  May I be as content as you were.
  9. You grew old with dignity. – These last few days, you tried so hard to help us out when  it came time to carry you outside.  I know you wanted to do for yourself, and it was  hard on you to be so needy.  When you could still walk, you would sometimes need an encouraging word to go up the stairs but you would push yourself hard.  I think you would truly rather die than “mess up” in the house.  You like privacy when you do your business.  You remind me that…even though you are a dog…you have dignity about you.  How much more do I need to honor those who are aging and show them dignity and respect.
  10. You lived to please your master. – This is what stands out to me the most, old friend.  You truly did live to please your master.  Nothing pleased you more than to please first Wyndham, and then me.  As I write this with tears streaming…I pray that what can most be said about my life is that I live to please my master.  Nothing better could be said.  Thank you for 14 golden years, golden boy.  I will miss you more than you know.

Eccles. 3:1-8

    There is a time for everything,

        and a season for every activity under heaven:

        [2] a time to be born and a time to die,

        a time to plant and a time to uproot,

        [3] a time to kill and a time to heal,

        a time to tear down and a time to build,

        [4] a time to weep and a time to laugh,

        a time to mourn and a time to dance,

        [5] a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

        a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

        [6] a time to search and a time to give up,

        a time to keep and a time to throw away,

        [7] a time to tear and a time to mend,

        a time to be silent and a time to speak,

        [8] a time to love and a time to hate,

        a time for war and a time for peace.