I go into my room, sit in my chair and set out to pray for this desperate, broken, sad world which God so loves.

Words don’t come.

How does one pray for the world?

Finally I say, “Father, show me Your heart for the world.”

And sudden tears spring to my eyes, taking me by surprise.

Oh, I see.

Your heart weeps for the world.

And I wonder, will God be just as relieved and happy as the rest of us when the new heaven and new earth finally arrive?

Does the promise of no more tears apply to God as well?

When He wipes every last tear from our eyes, will that also be the end of our Father’s tears?

god so loved

“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.”  Revelation 21:4

Butter Disappointment

You know how it is when your toast pops up and it’s perfectly crusty — not too dark, but crisp enough to crunch?


And you grab the peach jam jar with all those little bits of sweet summer swimming in the sugary gel?


And you have the knife blade in hand, about to slather that browned bread with a base-coat of butter?


And you take the dish with daubs of divine creaminess dancing around the edge?


And then you lift the lid?


You know how that is?

10 Things I Learned in October

hello nov1.  It’s hard to let go of October.  On Sunday, the 11th, I sat outside and held on to the last wisps of the 80 degree sunshine on my face. Sure, the leaves were falling all around me, but for a moment I could close my eyes and feel the last gasp of summer-like breeze waving good-bye.

2.  I threw away a book.  The title was on somebody’s recommended reading list so I bought it because it sounded promising.  I groaned so many times while reading it that PB asked me if I was sick.  And I was.  Sick that I spent good money on such a poor read.  I couldn’t even put it in the Goodwill box.

3.  If you email a famous person, sometimes they email back.  Since getting a response from a recording artist, I’m making a list of famous people to whom I’m going to shoot an email.

4.  My new prayer is “Give me this day my daily words.”  My freezer is full and my grocery store is handy, so daily bread is not a struggle.  But I need words – lots and lots of words.  I am aware of how completely dependent I am on holy inspiration on a daily basis if I’m going to keep traveling down this path.

5.  People say “um” a lot.  Maybe I’m too sensitive, but I get really distracted by speakers or podcasters who throw an “um” into every sentence.  I find myself counting the “ums” instead of listening to the content.  “Like” is gaining ground on “um”. I listened to a 28 minute podcast in which the interviewer said “like” 37 times and the person being interviewed said “like” 194 times.  Uh-huh. I actually listened a second time, just to count the “likes”.

6.  I have another favorite old dead guy.  Right up there next to Charles Spurgeon is a man named Robert Murray McCheyne.  He lived from 1813-1843 in Scotland and was a preacher, pastor and poet.  He said things like, “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.”

7.  I spend a lot of time transitioning.  For one week in October, I kept a log of how I spent my time in half hour increments. It was an eye opener.  It wasn’t just the time spent watching TV or eating that surprised me.  It was the time spent transitioning between home and work and then work and home.  I can’t blame a commute – I work one block away from our house.

8.  The best part of going to conferences is the bus ride.  I went with 30 women to a conference this month and enjoyed the music and speakers.  But three and a half hours on a bus there and back was perfect for nice long conversations that otherwise wouldn’t happen.

9.  PB will not be outbid at an auction.  Since it was a fundraiser for our youth group, I didn’t mind the $120 pie.

10.  I get an extra hour to be 55. Daylight Savings Time ends on the night before my birthday. Delaying the inevitable bump up in the age bracket is okay by me.

What’s one thing you’ve learned in October?

Flourishing with Sandra McCracken

The book of Psalms has the shortest chapter in the Bible (Psalm 117 — 2 verses) and the longest chapter in the Bible (Psalm 119 — 176 verses).  This book contains some of the most beautiful poetry ever written, although the 150 pieces were composed over 3,000 years ago as songs to be sung in worship.

Someday I hope to hear King David in concert singing the original scores. Until then, we are left with pages and pages of inspired lyrics. Song writers find the Biblical poetry irresistible because it lends itself so easily to melody. If I tried to set one to music, I’d definitely pick Psalm 117. 

Sandra McCracken came out with an album this year called “Psalms” and she’s fearless, because she tackled Psalm 119.  It’s my favorite track.  She captured the mood of this acrostic poem without using all 176 verses. Bless her.

I wondered why she used the word “flourishing” in the song and in the title, since it doesn’t appear in the Psalm.  I don’t know what got into me, but I sent her an email asking about it.  To my surprise and delight she graciously responded!  With her kind permission, here are Sandra’s comments and the song:

“The word ‘flourishing’ as connected to Psalm 119 feels like the heart of the passage, in that what it is to love and obey is not intended for the sake of rigidity, but abundant life.  Looking back at the idea of ‘shalom’ in Genesis, the word ‘flourish’ to me summarizes in a fresh way who and what we were made for, according to the good design of our Maker.”  

May her anointed music continue to flourish.

This week, this is my story, this is my song.

Flourishing (Psalm 119)


Running the Route

greenIt’s football season and for us Cheeseheads, there’s excitement in the crisp, cool autumn air.  Our Green Bay Packers are off to a 5-0 start.  Things are looking up after a dismal summer of baseball doldrums in Wisconsin.

I admit that I don’t completely understand football.  Other sports seem to be more straight-forward.  For instance, golf — a little ball, a little hole.  Chase the little ball around until it goes in the little hole.  What’s so hard about that?

In baseball, there is a fairly small window across home plate where the pitch is predictably coming. The batter knows the ball is arriving somewhere between his knees and the letters on his jersey.  All he has to do is hit that ball when he sees it coming straight at him.  Easy schmeesy.

In basketball, everyone on the court knows where that ball is going — through a round hole 18″ in diameter and 10 feet off the ground.  Every single time.  Yawn.

But with football, there’s this thing called a moving target.  The quarterback must throw the ball to where the receiver is GOING to be.  Sure, they plan it all out when they huddle up before the play.  Hopefully, the guy runs his route as expected so he happens to be at exactly the same place as the incoming ball at exactly the right time, if the quarterback threw the ball at exactly the right speed.

That concept is a little beyond my grasp, obviously.  But some measure of truth did leak out into my soul.

I need to get in a huddle with God at the start of every day.  I need His Word to give me the game plan.  Then, I need to run the route in obedience rather then tearing around on the field expending lots of energy but never being in the right place at the right time.  I need to be open to receive whatever comes at me during the day and run with it.

Football is complicated.

That’s why it’s so impressive when teams make it look easy.

Following through on God’s commands is not that hard.

That’s why it’s so baffling when we make it look complicated.

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  Hebrews 12:1

Little Boxes

black boxI love little boxes.

No, I’m not talking about those little black ones tied up with a bow and containing sparkly diamonds or shiny gold jewelry.  

Instead, my heart goes pitter-pat for these little boxes.


Let me explain.

I’ve been reading up on something called a bullet journal — “The Analog System for the Digital Age”.  The purpose of this journal is to organize your life and boost productivity using a good old-fashioned notebook and a pencil.  It started as a simple, streamlined system created by an art director in New York City who “specializes in interactive design and usability”.

I have no idea what that means.

But then some really creative artsy people got ahold of this thing and took it to a whole new level.  After perusing the “Bullet Journal Junkies” Facebook page, I got hooked.

As it turns out, there’s a whole culture of dedicated fans who have very strong feelings about the best notebooks and writing utensils to use. They also are extremely supportive of each other and offer newbies tons of encouragement.

So I dove in with a Moleskine journal and some Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens. Now I see what this really is all about.

  1. This is a way to create a completely customized planner.  I decide what goes in and what stays out.  In other words, it’s a control freak’s dream.
  2. This is a glorified chore chart.  I remember making job lists for my kids when they were learning to make their beds, get dressed, go to the potty.  After every completed task, they got a sticker to put on the chart.  A chart full of stickers usually meant a trip to town to buy a toy. It was pretty effective. Instead of stickers, I get to color in little boxes with my new pens.  It’s pretty effective.
  3. This is an ingenious mix of a right-brain organizational tool and a left-brain creative outlet.
  4. Some people need a little box to color in at the end of the day to give them a sense of accomplishment.
  5. I am one of those people.

Here’s a peek:

See all those orange boxes? They make me so happy.


This is my habit tracker — it’s keeping tabs on my behavior, helping me stay accountable to the good habits I want to develop.


Yeah, I’m not about to disclose what those habits are — that might be a little too much accountability.  I know it’s working, though, because I caught myself thinking, “If I don’t eat my 1/2 pound of raw veggies today I won’t be able to color in my box.”


I’m not much of an artist, but I can make dots and dashes and print nicely.


I already know what I want to tweak for November.

Maybe this is just another kick that will wear off by 2016.

Or maybe I will become a bullet journal fanatic.

Either way, coloring in little boxes sparks joy.

And it might give me an excuse to drive into town and pick out a new toy.

10 Things I Learned in September

sept1. I like demolition.  PB and I have been working on a house project this month, with the help of some good friends.  With a lot of help.  From some very good friends.  It included 40 pound sledgehammers and pulling up 3.7 million screws and a dumpster filled to the brim with our blood, sweat and tears.  I loved it.  I felt like I was on an HGTV show.  Busting stuff up and getting filthy dirty was great fun.

2. I’m a journal junkie. At present, I have seven journals on my desk.  One leather bound journal for, well, journaling.  One small bound book that is a five-year/one-sentence-a-day volume.  One that keeps a list of books I’ve read for the past eleven years. Another that is titled “Pretty Good Ideas”. Then there is a spiral notebook for brain dumping, another for taking notes on podcasts and sermons, and yet another for writing reflections on scripture reading.  Oh, and one more that I use for copying down excerpts from books.  Make that eight journals.  Last week I stumbled onto something called the “bullet journal” so now I am chomping at the bit to start October so I can roll out number nine.

3. Gardening is not my strong suit, but I do like digging in the dirt.  When we moved to a new place years ago, I had a hard time adjusting.  When spring rolled around, I told a friend that it finally started to feel like home when I started digging in the dirt.  She laughed and said, “You old farmer, you.”  My thumb is not green and I can’t keep a houseplant alive, but this month I’ve pulled some weeds and took pleasure in the feel of dirt in my hands.

4. Podcasts are fun to listen to, but lots of work to create.  Our church started producing a weekly podcast with updates, announcements, sermon recaps, family devotions, etc.  It helps to have a super talented technological wizard doing all the heavy lifting.  All I have to do is push record and try to talk naturally into a microphone in an empty room.  It’s harder than you’d think.

5. Live theater makes me happy.  PB and I went to see “Newsies” this month and we’ve been seizing the day ever since.  I always leave musicals wishing I had stuck with dance lessons.  Alas, when I was five, I refused to go on stage in my tutu.  My mother walked me around the parking lot and tried to talk me into performing, but I was a no-go.  Hence, the end of my dance career.

6. Nobody’s favorite Bible verse is from the book of Nahum.  I’ve been reading through the Old Testament minor prophets this month and it’s a hard read.  Bless the people who are called to pronounce impending judgment on nations.  Bless the nations who heed the warnings.

7. September is my new favorite month.  Summertime has always been my season of choice, but this year September was spectacular.  Bring on the sweatshirts and flannel jammies.

8. I’m willing to be a fool for Christ.  Every Sunday morning we do some silly theatrics for the K-5th grade Sunday school classes.  So far I have 1) mixed a Super Hero concoction of chocolate syrup, maple syrup and cough syrup and drank it, 2) pretended I couldn’t lift a five pound weight, and 3) swallowed a packet of hot sauce.  Anything to get kids excited to come to church.

9. After observing Jesus’ habit of going outside to pray, our Bible study ladies were given an assignment to take a prayer walk.  I get it.  It was so much easier to praise God when I wasn’t distracted by the dust on my table or the streaks on my windows.  My confidence in God’s ability to hold the world together, including me, soared.  Getting out into big beautiful nature put my problems in perspective.

10. I am not prolific.  I wish I could pound out blog posts like nobody’s business.  I just can’t figure out how these people blog every day.  But then I remembered that I’m ghost writing for another blog, creating content for the new podcast, putting together a 12 week Bible study and trying to keep up with my eight journals. Make that nine journals starting tomorrow.  Bring on October!