I have to layover WHERE?

I won’t mention the company’s name, but suffice it to say it was not named “Competent”.

My request was simple. At least I thought so. Due to recent health challenges (I thank God I’m getting well), my husband and I needed to revise our travel plans. We had been scheduled to go on to Madrid after spending several days in Munich, Germany. This travel was needed for business, but we felt that both legs of the trip (Munich and Madrid) were more than “our legs” could handle. So, the night before we were to leave I called the travel company to cancel the “Munich to Madrid and then back to Munich” portion of the trip. We simply desired to move the date of our Munich to Boston return trip so that we would arrive home a few days earlier than previously planned.

That’s not so hard to understand is it?  Apparently it was. I was on the phone for an hour and a half trying to make this change. Several times, as I was put on hold the call was dropped. And…when I was finally able to request the change, the agent “helping” me was absolutely determined that this change of date required a necessary layover. And…this layover was to be in HONG KONG! Untitled design

I explained to this agent again and again that the route she was demanding made no sense, given the way the world was put together. I even told her (looking at the company’s web site) that there was nothing on this route remotely resembling her stated necessity. The route did not exist.

She was not moved. She repeatedly stated that an earlier flight back to Boston from Munich was not possible without a layover in Hong Kong…and an additional $11,000.

I wondered if she was also going to suggest that I reserve an oceanfront hotel in Iowa. I would not have been surprised. I told you the company’s name was not “Competent”.


Realizing that this conversation with the agent was going to go nowhere (except Hong Kong) I decided it would be better to initiate this change once we got to Germany. Honestly, I was afraid that if I kept speaking with her our entire flight would be in jeopardy.

Fortunately, upon arrival in Munich the change process was seamless. Our flight was moved up three days and was direct—without a stop in China!

As I recounted this little exchange with the travel agent I had to laugh as I realized this situation was all too analogous to my life. (To be honest, I’ve cried more than laughed so it was nice to laugh.) Lately, I have felt that numerous situations in life have been rerouted against my wishes—and I’ve often felt that the rerouting has not made sense. In my mind there is a simple and direct route to my life’s “destinations”…and then someone says I must layover in China? Really?

The layover is not efficient, sensible or even fathomable to my imagination.

While I did have the choice to decline the proposed airline route with the layover in Hong Kong, I can’t always refuse to go places life takes me. Sometimes the routes of our lives travel in directions we don’t want to go and which don’t make sense to us. They may involve layovers we neither want nor expect and cost more than we desire to pay. With each “change in reservations” life hands me, I must trust that God knows what he is doing and that I am safe in his care. I really am.  And he really does care.

And, I must remember that I always have a choice in how I respond to the rerouting. God is a really good travel agent. In fact, he is a perfect travel agent. He sees things I can’t see, and often “allows” me to go places I don’t wish to go. He also keeps me from places I intended to go when they aren’t best for me.

I am sure of these two things, though I must at times remind myself:

God is better at directing my life than I am.

God always acts in love, because that is who he is.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD‘s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21  

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9 

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 him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:16-18 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:28-31 

In Due Time

Three little words.  Hard words.  In. Due. Time.

I have been holding on to this scripture:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.   (1 Peter 5:6-7 emphasis added)

Due time can feel so elusive. Isn’t it due time yet, God? dreamstime_xl_4965945 (1)

Yet I wait, and trust, and over and over give my anxieties to him…holding to the truth that he cares for me…even when I am tempted to doubt that truth. I’ve had plenty of anxious thoughts—especially because the nerve tingling physical pain I’ve experienced also brought on shivering and anxious feelings—and thoughts that would at times go to worst-case scenarios. Note to self:  Don’t google your symptoms.

I’ve struggled to find the words to pray, so I’ve prayed through the Psalms—which have become more and more meaningful to me through these weeks of pain. I cherish the love and scriptures that friends have sent, texted, and written in cards. They really help.

Over the past six weeks God has put me back in the “school of trust”. I know that one day I will be able to share about all the things I learned about God, myself, and others through this time but right now I just feel humbled, under God’s mighty hand…and eager to be lifted up.

I’m humbled by the complete lack of control I have over my situation and my utter weakness. I’m humbled knowing that others are fervently praying for me. I’m humbled to be on the receiving end of meals and help from family and friends—instead of the giving end. I’m humbled by love.

I know many of you have been through more difficult times than I–though I’ve had my share. Many of you have lived with chronic illness or shared a loved one’s pain. Some of you have gotten back tests or x-rays that were not normal. I’ve been in extreme pain for six weeks and have had seemingly every test and picture imaginable which have all come back normal, giving no answers except—“this must be some strange viral infection.”  Fortunately, most of the intensity of the pain has now morphed into muscle soreness, weakness and extreme fatigue.  So, there’s progress. I am getting better. Meanwhile, my husband’s legs are getting worse and I feel more helpless in being able to help him right now. God, when is due time?

All too often, when I’m preparing to write or teach I receive more life lessons and illustrations than I want. At the time I prefer to “pass” on these lessons. Right now I’m working on a new book entitled, “An Aging Grace”. I guess I should have known better than to pick this subject! I don’t really feel like I want to learn hard lessons about God’s grace in aging. Perhaps I should write a cook book instead.

However, I know that it in these “in between” times…before the lifting up part…God’s mighty hand is still there. Though at times I may feel squished under that hand,  I remember it is a protective hand…one that cares for me.

Lessons of love are often learned in times of pain…during the time before “due time”.

In many of my books I’ve shared lessons I’ve learned from God and his word through some crazy, some funny, and some difficult life situations. In “My Morning Cup” there is a little coffee cup icon printed in each chapter that separates the crazy situation I experienced from the lessons I learned.  What the little cup does not tell is the many things that went through my mind and heart before those lessons learned “in due time.”

For example: I share lessons learned about God’s faithfulness after waking to discover someone with a knife in my back. However,  I did not share about the nightmares that followed, or about the fear that came into my heart every time I heard a motorcycle (since the guy rode off on one.)

I share a chapter about a junior high teacher who lost her mind, threw my books and shook me against the lockers while spouting off about a scheme I had to “get her”.  And I was one of her favorite students! The coffee cup icon separates the situation from the lessons I learned, but doesn’t tell of the fear I had of going back to school and wondering when the proverbial shoe would drop again. It doesn’t tell of times I transferred the feelings from that moment to unrelated situations where authority incited fear. Life lessons are learned “in due time”.

So…I’ll keep reading in 1 Peter 5 as the passage describes our inward battles before  “due time” comes.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 5:8-11)  

Never forget that God’s hand is with you, as he cares for you. He will himself make you strong, firm, and steadfast.  In. Due. Time.







Who’s the Boss?

Recounting a recent conversation between my daughter and my nearly three-year-old granddaughter, I was reminded of the struggle it can be to let go of control in our lives.  (Disclaimer:  Gracie is as joyful and sweet as they come…but the inner struggle occasionally gets the best of all of us, whether we are two or ninety-two years old.) IMG_1286

K:  Gracie, you haven’t been potty since this morning. You’ve had a lot to drink and you need to go potty before you take your nap.

G:   I don’t need to go.

K:  Yes, you need to go.

G:  No, I’m not going potty. I can hold it.

K:  You will try before you go to bed.  Gracie, you are not going to win.  I’m going to win.  You might as  well go potty now.

G:  No, I will win.  I’m the boss.

K: (With eyes bulging and praying to keep her cool amidst the sassiness)  What?!  You are not the boss.  And you will go to the potty now or be disciplined!

G:  (Knowing discipline is eminent) I’m going potty!  You and daddy are the boss!  You and daddy are the boss!

Sounds rather two-year-oldish, right?  Well, I can certainly relate to the struggle.  I can struggle with letting God be in control (as if I could possibly be in control of God, anyway).  I can think I must figure it out, work it out…anything but faithfully waiting and trusting. I am reminded of the discourse between God and Job.  After God questions Job (on who is in control) Job replies:

  Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.  You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’  My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.  Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6

It’s not hard to see the fight for control in a two year old.  It can be more difficult to see it in ourselves.  So, what do your struggles for control look like?  Here are some of mine.

It’s all too easy when my husband has neuropathy and doctors can’t yet find out why… to spend more time on Google than on my knees.  The struggle (not in my mind but in my actions) comes with my desire to fix things…thus becoming more self-reliant than God-reliant.

It can be an inner struggle for me to trust that God is always out for my good.  Instead I can dwell in fear.  I can take most anything and find a way to worry about it.  When I do this, I am taking control of my life and plans, rather than entrusting them to my Father, who loves me so much he eagerly hears me, watches over me, sings to me, and allowed his only son to die for me.

I can feel a struggle for control when I feel anxious and repeat conversations in my head after someone hurts my feelings or something isn’t fair…somehow thinking it will be better staying in my mind than releasing it from my grasp and giving it to God…fasting and praying that God will move in the situation and help all of us learn things we need to learn.

It can be a struggle to let go of control and say “I’m sorry” when I feel like someone else has “more to be sorry for,” as if my doing the right and humble thing would somehow make matters worse.

When my plans for my life get disrupted and God has other (or divergent) plans I can say (in grown up words)…”I’m not going potty.  I don’t need to.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-8, 10

However, when I pray and read and meditate on God’s truth, it’s much easier to say, “I’m going potty. You are the boss.”  And truthfully, that’s a really good thing. The result of my granddaughter’s trust and obedience made her feel better, left her kidneys healthier, and saved the sheets from a wash.   Likewise, as I let God “take the wheel” of control in my life…. I feel much better as peace and joy take over the place where stress and anxiety once resided.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)




Timing is Everything

It seems uncanny how often the baby poops right before we walk out the door, the dog runs off, our keys go missing, the traffic is backed up… and timing just seems to be working against us. IMG_4243

I have often experienced nagging and discouraging “incidents” that result in altered plans – usually resulting in a greater degree of difficulty for what might have once been simple.

I have just come through such a season.  As I previously posted, my husband went through a knee replacement surgery three weeks ago.  The recovery is difficult and tedious.  I knew I would need an extra measure of God’s strength to be the helper he needs and prayed for such.  Being a (usually) healthy person,  I found it rather annoying before and during the week of his surgery to find myself with various maladies.  The saga began with a case of hip bursitis.  I have never had it before and never wish to have it again. It’s painful and makes walking, sitting, turning over…and really moving in any way excruciatingly difficult.  Bursitis also sounds like something someone older would get…so what’s with that?!   Fortunately, my dear chiropractor worked and worked – and gave it the magic electrical ultrasound wand –  so that after a few long days it was gone.  Relief?!…Well ..not yet.  This ordeal was followed by the passing of a kidney stone.    That was special.  (said no one, ever!)  Unfortunately this has become a nearly annual tradition for me– one I would care to quit.  Fortunately, it passed after a few days and all was good.  Well no…not really.  That was followed by pain I’ve experienced only a few times before…that is, the few times before when I’ve had a gallbladder attack.  This also lasted for several days.  The serendipitous aspect of this condition is that I can’t eat while it’s going on…so it’s a good week to weigh in at Weight Watchers.

At least during these “special events” the busyness of coming and going to and from the hospital and caring for Wyndham kept me from focusing on the discomfort – (sort of.)  As I was discouraged with the unfortunate timing  of these situations I was also reading through Exodus.  This scripture got my attention and in a strange sort of way, encouraged me.

Exodus 23:27-30

    “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. [28] I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. [29] But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. [30] Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

The Israelites were making their way to the Promised Land.  God, time and again, promised that he would be with them and bring them victory. However, it didn’t happen all at once.  God’s timing and our timing don’t always match.  I can be frustrated with the timing of events that happen or don’t happen as planned – by me, that is .  However, God has a different view of time and sees the big picture, which I can’t fully see – because I’m not God.  I wonder how frustrated or confused the Israelites were when they knew God had promised them victory but it did not come in the timing they likely expected.   This passage of scripture reminds me how detailed God is in the intricacies of our lives and the timing he sees as best for us – whether or not we understand.  He knew that if they had immediate victory the land would not support them and the wild animals would become too dangerous for them.  Who knew?!  Amazingly and again, God is in the details.  I am comforted, (even  though too often fighting with my own thinking of what is best)….knowing that God knows the timing that is needed for all things.  I don’t know why I experienced the nagging and painful difficulties while Wyndham was in the hospital.  But this I do know –

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

        neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

    [9] “As the heavens are higher than the earth,

        so are my ways higher than your ways

        and my thoughts than your thoughts.






Global Roaming

This week my work has taken me out of the country.  As I prepared for my travels I learned I needed to change a few settings on my phone in order to avoid exorbitant data roaming fees.  I also programmed settings allowing me to make calls and send and receive texts via global roaming (all for a slight fee).  The fact that I can speak into my phone, and someone in a far off country can read what I just spoke involves sound waves and laws of physics and nature that some very smart people have learned how to use.  (And, if I used the data available I could even press another button that translates what I wrote into another language!)  Understanding how all this works, to me, is like understanding another dimension. Some things just boggle my mind. I can somewhat begin to grasp how this functions, but can’t even fathom the “whys” behind the “hows”. The workings of the laws of physics behind the laws that must be harnessed, used and relied upon to make these things work are too wonderful to me.

We had breakfast yesterday morning with a German disciple who is a world-renowned professor of physics.  His deep understanding of physical science has only increased his amazement toward and faith in the Creator of it all.   I learn from God’s speaking to Job:

Job 38:1
Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said:….

Job 38:31-35
“Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?
        Can you loose the cords of Orion?
    [32] Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
        or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
    [33] Do you know the laws of the heavens?
        Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

    [34] “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
        and cover yourself with a flood of water?
    [35] Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
        Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?

Job 42:1-3
Then Job replied to the Lord:

    [2] “I know that you can do all things;
        no plan of yours can be thwarted.
    [3] You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’
        Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
        things too wonderful for me to know.

I take comfort in knowing God has perfect global roaming.  I count on this as I am here and have seen several specific prayers answered that I have prayed for the churches over here.  Specifically, that God would help bring a revival in the youth and campus ministries.  I am so amazed at God as I’ve heard of numerous teens getting baptized as well as God providing some campus disciples who “just showed up” here from other countries.

Yesterday I received two texts from my family informing me that in the same evening my oldest granddaughter had broken her arm and that my youngest grandson had been transported from the doctor’s office to the hospital by ambulance because of the severity of a croup attack, that had come on suddenly.  It feels helpless to be where I can’t “do anything but pray”.  And yet I realize that often prayer is the most important thing I can do!   I count on the fact that though I am miles away, my prayers  reach God and can touch the lives of those in another country.  What a comfort!  What an amazing God.  The power of prayer is way more wonderful than global roaming.

Ephes. 6:18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Philip. 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Col. 4:12
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

1 Thes. 5:17
pray continually;

1 Peter 3:12
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
        and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
    but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
The photo is the German sky above where I was just praying alongside a corn field.  Today when you look into the sky I hope you see more than just a blue expansive slate…..Marvel at the great God who has ordered creation, and who can hear and act upon our prayers no matter where we are.  Our prayers can make more difference than we can know.

May I Hold Your Emotions?

If you look carefully inside my hands you may see my oldest grandson’s emotions!

I met my daughter Melissa at the mall yesterday during lunch time in order to help her with the kids.  They were scheduled to have their pictures taken.  We played a bit while waiting for their noontime appointment.  We waited and we waited some more.  About 25 minutes later, as Caleb was moving one of the large stools in the waiting area, it slipped and landed on his foot , scraping some skin from his toe.  He fell to the ground sobbing, landing on something gooey in the carpet – which promptly stained his freshly laundered khaki shorts.  Of course, at this very moment they were called to the room for the photo session.

Things sort of melted down at this point.  Caleb was crying and felt his toe was hurting too badly for him to walk.  The situation was looking bleak for getting a picture that would contain any smiles.  Melissa was doing a great job comforting him, as well as reminding him of the chic- fil-a lunch and cupcake dessert promise that lay on the other side of the picture taking.  It seemed all begging was to no avail.

As emotions were flying, I thought of one of my favorite scriptures – 2 Corinthians 10:5.  Certainly now was an opportune time to capture some of these emotions.

    We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The Spirit was surely at work at this moment.  Remembering the scripture, I cupped my hands and walked over to Caleb.  I told him that I would like to hold something for him while he got his picture taken; his sad emotions and the pain from his foot.  I would hold it carefully, and then when he was done I could give it back to him.  Amazingly, Caleb put his little hand in between my hands as if to place his emotions inside.  Then, an amazing thing happened!  He stepped onto the mat where the girls were already standing, posed for a group picture and gave us all the most beautiful smile imaginable.  He could not have been more cooperative or giving throughout the session.  When it was over I told him how proud I was of him for giving over his emotions and that he could have them back if he wanted.  He didn’t reach for them.

Later, he told his mom how hard it was for him to control his emotions when he got hurt.  He expressed to her that he just couldn’t seem to figure out how to get it back together and was so glad  that Nana was there and offered to hold his emotions in her hands.  And then he proudly told her that after the pictures were over he didn’t even feel the need to take them back anymore!

Melissa and I were sort of amazed that this worked.  However, it’s really not that complicated.   You see, Caleb really believed that I was capable of taking his emotions and reliable enough to keep them for him.  Again, I am learning from children.  If I really believe that God is capable enough and reliable enough to be entrusted with my emotions…I can let go and be at peace!  Thank you for this lesson Caleb.

Philip. 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. [7] And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. [7] Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.