With Us

god with us

I used to know all the common prepositions by heart.

About, above, across, after, against, along, among — and 28 more. Memorizing that list helped in picking out the prepositional phrases when diagramming sentences, which was important because…… Why was that important?

The one thing that did stick with me from Freshman English was to never, ever, over-your-dead-body, end a sentence with a word from “the list”. The horror of leaving a preposition hanging there, right before a period, struck a fear into me that still exists today. No matter how much I want to write, “Who were you talking to?” I force myself to be proper and write, “To whom were you talking?” Sounds a bit formal, though, for this midwestern girl.

My favorite preposition is at the bottom of the list.  

…….over, since, through, to, toward, under, with.  


What a lovely word.

When God picked out a name for His Son, it was Emmanuel —

God with us. (Isaiah 7:14)

I am grateful for that choice of names.

It’s so much better than

God above us, God behind us, God beyond us, God over us.

I love the “with-ness” of God.

“God With Us” by All Sons and Daughters

There are lots of great prepositions in this song (none dangling).


More Winter Than We Need

“There seems to be so much more winter than we need this year.”
–  Kathleen Norris

I agree, Kathleen.

Especially today.

As the headline yesterday said, “Blizzard To Pummel State”.  

Well, the pummeling has commenced.

What’s keeping me sane during this Groundhog’s Day snowstorm?

“I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad.”

Today I will shut my shades, sip my coffee, and share some of the things that are saving me right now.

IMG_1987My own little corner in my own little room.

This is where I go to find out what I’m thinking.

I never really know for sure until I pick up a pencil and start writing.

IMG_1988My bullet journal/planner extraordinaire.

New in February: rainbow colors!

IMG_1985Raspberries and blueberries on my cereal.

I can close my eyes and taste summer.

IMG_1990Extra time for reading, studying, and writing on a snowy day.

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.” 1 Timothy 1:17


Waking up to this cutie every morning.

There’s nothing like the sound of her little voice calling, “Opa! Nonnie!”


Listening to the “What Should I Read Next?” podcast on my hand-me-down iPod.

And Sandra McCracken’s “Psalms”.


This is Mark.  Mark the Bookmark. His feet stick out the top of the book I’m reading.

He makes me smile.

I tried to find more Marks to give as Christmas gifts, but not one could be found in the United States of America.


I saved the best for last.

These guys. Half a dozen grands. How I love these six little people.

They are wild and sweet and irresistible.

These are a few of my favorite things.

Is it still snowing?

10 Things I Learned in January

1.  Healing takes time. PB and his new knee are trying to get used to each other. I think they will become good friends, soon. I guess you can’t expect to make an 8″ incision, pull a joint apart and insert a piece of hardware without some pain and suffering.

2.  Lazarus had a lot to teach me. I didn’t have high hopes for a 5 week Bible study on “The Life and Death (and Life) of Lazarus”. It was simply something to fill in the weeks between Christmas and Lent. But wow. There was a gold mine in John 11 and 12.

3.  If you chase down the garbage truck and tell the driver you’re very sorry you forgot to take out your garbage bins, but your husband just had knee surgery and he usually takes out the garbage and besides that, your grandchildren were visiting and there is some very stinky garbage in your bins, the driver of the truck will have mercy on you and go back down your street to pick up your garbage.  (Thank you, whoever you are.)

4.  I still get excited when school is cancelled because of cold or snow. We don’t even have kids in school anymore, but it doesn’t matter. Seeing our school on the list of cancellations conjures up good memories of going into my teenagers’ rooms and whispering, “No school today.”

5.  “Downton Abbey” is pure delight. Maybe because it’s the last season so I’m soaking in every minute, but it seems extra good this year. I’m predicting happy endings for all.

6. Abraham Wright is my newest favorite old dead guy. He was a Puritan minister in the 1600s who said this: “I am mended by my sickness, enriched by my poverty, and strengthened by my weakness… What fools are we, then, to frown upon our afflictions. They are our best friends. They are not indeed for our pleasure, they are for our profit.”

7. The legalism of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time doesn’t look much different today. When rules are more important that relationships then love has been replaced with law. It’s tricky, but I must deal with people graciously even if I disagree with them.

8. I can’t read the Genesis story of Joseph without breaking out into song from the Broadway musical – “Go, go, go, Joseph, you’re doing fine; you and your dreamcoat ahead of your time.” What I didn’t know until this month’s re-reading of Joseph’s account, is that he sat in an Egyptian prison for 14 years after being falsely accused. Yet Joseph didn’t become bitter or hopeless. There was no documentary filmed on Joseph’s life and no petition was circulated on Facebook to release him from prison. But “the Lord was with Joseph” at every turn.

9. Recommending a good book is one of my greatest pleasures. I finished “Peace Like A River” by Leif Enger on New Year’s Day and turned right back to the first page and started reading it out loud to PB. It’s my new favorite novel – read it. Please. (Sorry, I can get bossy about books.)

10. Going through a painful time makes us more compassionate towards other people’s pain. PB will be able to minister well to those who go through knee replacement surgery and rehab. Our pain is never wasted.


Beginning – Day 6

“Jesus had known from the beginning who would betray him.” John 6:64

I’m so glad I’m not omniscient. Knowing everything about everybody all the time would crush me. Not knowing things is actually a relief — it takes one off the hook for certain responsibilities.

For instance, if I don’t know how to start the snowblower, then I’m not expected to clear the driveway. That’s a good thing to not know.

In the early days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he called twelve men to be his disciples.  The night before he finalized the list of twelve names, he didn’t sleep a wink.  He spent the whole night praying. (Luke 6:12)

By this time, Jesus had already called Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew, so there were only seven spots left to fill. Certainly there were some good prospects, some fine men from which to choose. What kept Him up all night?

I wonder if there might have been a struggle over one application for the position of disciple. You know the one I’m talking about –Judas Iscariot.

Jesus talked the decision over with His Father out on that Galilean hillside in the moonlight. “Uh…Judas? Father? Are you sure about that one? Do I have to invite him to join the group?”

Yet, when morning came, Judas was on the list.  In fact, Mark 3:13 says, “He called to him those he wanted.” Because, in the end, Jesus wanted the will of His Father more than anything. Jesus knew Judas was the betrayer even before Judas did. But that didn’t stop Jesus from walking on water to him, or sending him out to do ministry with the other disciples, or washing his feet.

I get the same grace Judas did.

That’s all I need to know.



Beginning – Day 5

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.”  Rev. 21:6

There is no end to our beginnings.

We start over again year after year, week after week, day after day.

The steadfast sun rises.

The calendar pages turn.

The toast is lifted — cheers!

And we’re off once more, beginning again.

This is what it is to live.


There is an end to our beginnings.

We hurry through our days, and weeks, and years.

The final curtain closes.

The last chapter concludes.

The finish line is crossed — glory!

And our one end becomes a grand genesis.

This is what it is to die.


There is no end to The Beginning.

Always and forever Alpha-Omega – who was, and is, and is to come.

The Self-Existent One.

Limitless in scope.

Unbound by space and time — yes!

Forever before the beginning, and after the end, forever.

This is what it is to be God.

Beginning – Day 4

“Even now this is beginning to happen.” 1 Kings 14:14

Most beginnings are unseen —

the seed germinating in the ground,

the repair of a muscle under the skin,

the cells of a new life forming in the womb.

We are often unaware of beginnings,

but they are happening all around us,

all the time.

New Year’s Day seems like a momentous event as we let go of a past and welcome a future.  But, truly, New Year’s Day is just a day.  We don’t receive the whole new year at once.  All we get is 1/366th of it. Each day is a new beginning — each one a momentous event.

A prophecy was given in 1 Kings 14:14, foretelling of a time when God would uproot Israel and send her off into exile. The fulfillment of that prophecy wouldn’t come for another 300 years, yet, according to God, it was starting to happen, even then.

So when it seems like nothing is going on

and you’re stalled out in the middle of nowhere,

believe that there is a current moving below the surface

and, even now,

something is beginning

to happen.


Beginning – Day 3

This is about the time New Year’s resolutions start to flounder. Unexpected things come up, like a nasty cold that puts you on the sidelines for a few days. Or an early appointment messes up your work-out schedule. Or somebody brings a box of doughnuts to the office. No matter how earnest our decisions to implement good changes, it doesn’t take much to throw us off our game.

Not so with God.

When He says His eyes are going to be on us “from the beginning of the year to its end” (Deuteronomy 11:12), that means every single day, the whole year through.  No days off, no forgetfulness, no floundering.

He is watching us all day today, and will continue tomorrow and the day after that.  We will still be in His sights on March 9, and June 27 and September 19.  By the time December 31st rolls around, He will still be watching.  Not once does the Lord our God remove His watchful eyes from His people.

This is not a raised eyebrows “don’t-misbehave-because-I’m-watching-you” kind of look.

It’s more like a loving “I-can’t-take-my-eyes-off-of-you” gaze.

It seems God is resolved to keep His eye on us this year.

Maybe our best resolution would be to keep our eyes on Him all year, too.

eyes on jesus