Monday, July 27, 2009


To say he's athletic is an understatement. Our dog, Mighty Joe, sure does live up to his name. I would definitely say he shows great power, skill, strength or force; the words my dictionary uses to define 'mighty.'

This past Saturday, my husband and I were out working in the yard. Our daughter will have her senior pictures taken this week and we wanted to have some of them taken on the bridge overlooking the pond. Weeds needed to be pulled, rocks needed to be placed around the waterfall and pinestraw had to be laid to provide the right background we had envisioned. We let Mighty Joe join us while we worked.

When we first got Mighty Joe, he didn't understand that he was a retriever. After spending a day teaching him how to fetch a ball and consistently telling him, "You are a retriever," he caught on quickly and now is rarely seen without a ball. He literally spends hours dragging his ball from one end of his 'bark park' to the other. Sometimes he amuses himself by tucking his ball into a stack of firewood and going after it with all he's worth.

On Saturday, with tennis ball in mouth, Joe came over to me and dropped his gooey prize at my feet. I threw his ball and returned to pulling weeds. It seemed I could only pull a weed or two before my fine Chesapeake was back, waiting for me to throw his ball again. I could tell it was a bit irritating to my husband, who was also outside working; after all, technically, Mighty Joe is his dog. Not to be deterred, however, Mighty Joe resisted my husband's whistling and coaxing and continued to bring his ball to me.

As he continued to streak after his ball and leap into the air to nab it before returning to me, I thought about his intense focus. No matter where I threw his ball, he knew enough to keep his eyes on the ball, retrieve it and return it to me for the next throw. Although it was uncomfortably warm, his mind was bent on retrieving. He didn't let anything dissuade him from what he viewed as his 'purpose.' I thought about Ecclesiastes 9:10a "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;" (KJV) God used our dog to provide the perfect visual example of this verse for me.

When God has something for me to do, can He count on me to focus on the task, never taking my eyes off of Him, until the task is completed. Or am I distracted when others would have me get involved in another area? Do I let the inconveniences I encounter, become excuses for me to quit, or am I willing to persevere in spite of uncomfortable circumstances?

I love the way God uses the simple things in life to teach us profound truths. My desire is to complete those things God has asked me to do in order to cultivate the characteristic of the person in I Corinthians 4:2 "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." (KJV) What is your 'purpose'? Will you choose to be a faithful steward today?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Right On Time

Her Dad is dying. The hospice nurses say it could be any day now. Eighty-one years of life will soon become cherished memories of the life her father had lived. No one in the family is ready to let go. Although it's easy to understand that with his passing, he'll no longer be in pain, it's hard to imagine life without him; hard to imagine experiencing peace in the midst of so much grief.

I can relate. My Dad was chronically ill much of my life. In addition to having heart surgery in his early 40's, he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis just a few years later. Each day was a challenge and he suffered with constant pain. After my brother and I moved away from home, Mom would let us know when Dad was going through a really bad spell. Over the years, we got used to the ups and downs and just figured that Dad would bounce back.

The holiday season of 2002 was shaping up to be really special. After celebrating Thanksgiving at home, we were going to drive up north to spend time with my in-laws and my parents. Our Thanksgiving Day feast, traditional turkey and stuffing with a thousand sides had left me pretty sleepy and I remember toying with the idea of waiting until another day to call my parents. It would have been easy to talk myself out of calling, but for some reason I picked up the phone. That night, I heard Dad talk like he never had before. Usually when I'd ask him about his health, he'd just say he was fine and change the subject. That night was different. I asked him what he wanted for Christmas and mentioned some things I thought he might like - his response shocked me. He said he didn't think he'd make it until Christmas. I told him it was just a few weeks away and that I couldn't wait to see him. After we hung up, I sat at the kitchen table and just sobbed, begging God not to allow my Dad to die. I knew I couldn't handle it...

Just a couple weeks later I got the call. I remember the phone call as if it were yesterday. My Mom's wavering voice, softly letting me know that my Dad had passed away. No time to pack my bags, get in the car and make the drive to Michigan. No more opportunities to call him one last time. He was already gone.

Instead of falling apart, God's peace engulfed me. I was right - in my own strength I wasn't able to handle my Dad's death, but God's strength and peace made it possible. God brought to my memory some verses that I had memorized long ago, Isaiah 26:3-4, 3 "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:" In the days and weeks that followed, I experienced the reality of Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 12:9 "...My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

Death is never easy to face. With each trial, in His sovereignty, God gives us the grace we need at the exact moment we need it. I've learned that God's grace is always right on time. Let His grace be sufficient for you today.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Whose Words?

It's not very big. It serves a big purpose. According to my dictionary, it's the principal organ of taste, an important organ of speech, and moves to aid chewing and swallowing. It's the tongue. Last week I couldn't get away from it; not because it was attached to the inside of my mouth, but it seemed that whatever Bible study I picked up, the tongue and the speech it produces where the topic for the day. I don't believe in coincidence, so obviously God was trying to get my attention. He did.

You know the scenerio. You hear something negative about someone, you latch onto it, and before you know it, you're adding your own two cents about the person. Our tongues speak powerful words. With our tongues, we're able to tear down or build up. James 3:8-10 puts it this way: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (KJV)

It's no secret that we all stuggle to harness the power of the tongue. I was well aware of the inward battle between flesh and spirit last week. Often times, I would blurt something out based on emotion, rather than realizing I didn't have all of the facts and committing to pray about the situation. I was reminded that even the great prophet, Isaiah, had issues with the things that came out of his lips. Isaiah 6:5 "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; becuse I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." (KJV)

Isaiah was able to identify his sinfulness when he saw God. I see my sinfulness when I see God through reading His word. If I were to complete Isaiah's statement, I would have to say, "Woe is me! For I am critical of others and expect perfection from them, while excusing myself." That's the ugly truth. Because of my pride, I gossip and say rude and unkind things to make myself feel better. I'm glad God can change all of that when I'm obedient to submit to His will.

God's desire is for me to use my mouth to praise Him and share His powerful truths with others. Paul wrote the following to the Corinthians, in 2 Corintians 4:13 "We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;" There is something very powerful about the spoken word of God. If you think about it, God didn't just think the world into existence. He spoke it into existence. When Jesus was on the earth, He didn't refute the devil with His thoughts, He spoke His word to defeat him. He didn't heal with mere thoughts, He spoke His word out loud.

The same is true in our lives. We have the opportunity to choose to believe God's word and vocalize it. Instead of speaking my words, I'm determined that the truth of God's word comes from my lips. I challenge you to let the power of God's word come from your mouth today and be ready to praise Him for the outcome!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Phone Calls

(The names of the individuals listed below, have been changed to respect their privacy.)

Phone calls are a part of everyday life. Some days I get more phone calls than others, and there are days when my "to do" list includes making several phone calls. At the beginning of the week, I was the one making the phone calls. I left several messages and by the time I made my final call, was expecting to speak to another answering machine. I was surprised when Tracy answered her phone.

A few days ago, my husband and I had been asked to visit Tracy and her boyfriend, Luke. They had visited our church a few weeks prior, and had filled out a visitor's card asking for more information about our church, indicating a need for special prayer, and that each one was seeking a better relationship with God. It's pretty incredible when someone takes the time to fill out a visitor's card, let alone ask for prayer. We wanted to make this visit as soon as we were able.

When we pulled into the driveway, it was apparent that no one was home. That fact was confirmed when we climbed the steps to the front door and received no response after knocking. Disappointed, we headed back to the car. We left a gospel tract from our church, with a short message mentioning that we had stopped by. Back in the car, I made a note on the visitation report that I'd try calling Tracy early the next week.

When Tracy answered her phone and shared what had been going on in her life, I could only praise God for His goodness. The very night that we had come by to visit them, Luke had called Tracy to let her know he needed to talk to a pastor immediately. He couldn't wait until Sunday, he wanted to speak to someone that night. Luke went to meet with a pastor that Tracy knew, and after asking several questions and receiving godly counsel from the Bible, Luke put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Luke realized he was a sinner and that Christ had died for him (Rom. 3:23, Rom 5:8). By shedding His blood for all mankind, Christ had made the ultimate sacrifice to pay Luke's sin debt (Heb. 9:22). Christ was extending the gift of eternal life to Luke (Rom. 6:23). He only had to have faith to receive the gift (Eph. 2:8-9). In humility, he bowed his head, confessed his sin and proclaimed his belief in Christ's completed work on the cross in his behalf. Luke became a child of God.

Tracy told me that they had visited a lot of churches and that Luke had been discouraged in the past, when no one from those churches had taken the time to visit them. Within the past week, people from two different churches had visited or called. As I think of my initial discouragement when it seemed we had made a 'fruitless' visit, I'm reminded that God can do "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." (Eph. 3:20, KJV)

God was able to use the placement of a gospel tract to reassure Luke of his salvation and bring encouragement to him. Galatians 6:9 speaks volumes to me as I determine not to be "weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (KJV) My husband and I have the opportunity to encourage this couple to grow in the Lord due to leaving a gospel tract at Luke's home and making a phone call to Tracy. Are you willing to take the opportunities that God gives you, knowing that He can take your efforts and multiply them beyond your wildest imaginations? I pray your answer will be, 'Yes!'

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


My mom is an incredible woman. She's told me stories of her childhood that help me to understand the determination with which she's chosen to live her life. Her mother died when she was only a year old. Her dad remarried, so my mom and her sister where raised by their step-mother who brought her own three children into the marriage. When my mom was eight or nine years old, her step-mother decided to leave her dad for a few years - leaving my mom and her sister to take care of their step-mother's three children. I had a hard enough time adjusting to all the responsibilities of motherhood at 25 years of age. I can't fathom that kind of responsibility being left to sisters who were only children themselves.

Growing up on a farm meant responsibilities of another kind, as well. There were chores to be done: cows to be milked, eggs to be gathered and horses to be fed. The garden had to be hoed and the ripe vegetables gathered. Today, it's very fashionable to have a dark tan, but my olive-skinned, mom hated showing up for the first day of school with a tan. There was a stigma attached to having to work on a farm - the city kids thought of themselves as far superior.

It's amazing that God can use every experience to shape us into who He wants us to be. My mom was a fan of the yodeler, Elton Britt. By listening to his records over and over, she taught herself how to yodel and would practice while pumping water for the cows. At an early age, my mom developed a love for art. She tells me of the time that she used charcoal from burned, rotting stumps and began drawing on an easel made out of a board found in the pasture. That 'doodling' began a lifelong journey as an artist.

At some point, my mom's step-mother returned. They didn't have a very close relationship. By age thirteen, my mom asked for money to buy her schoolbooks for the up-coming school year, but her step-mother refused and told her to get a job. To her step-mother's surprise, my mom did. She moved into town and lived with a family who hired her as a nanny. Again, God's fingerprints were clearly seen - using the difficult experience of raising her step-brother and step-sisters to equip her for the next step He had for her.

Throughout her life, my mom has chosen not to give up. After she married, there were many challenges she continued to face after my dad had open-heart surgery and later was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. In a day when marriage vows seem to be taken seriously only "in health," and not "in sickness," my mom honored the vow she had made before God and took care of my dad. When my dad had to go on medical disability due to the progression of his disease, my mom supplemented their income by finding housecleaning jobs. She sacrificed, so my brother and I could make it through college, debt-free.

I'm so thankful for my mom and all that God has taught me through her. Even after my dad passed away, she continued on, refusing to give up. Today, my mom is a successful artist who has had the opportunity to display her art work not only in the United States, but also in Japan and Australia. At 71 years of age she taught herself how to build a web-site, how to use difficult software, and to this day, continues to take courses to improve her artistic talents. She turned 74 this year and currently displays her art work in galleries around the Michigan area. What a legacy, what a mom!

*You can view my mom's art work at:

Monday, July 13, 2009


I have to admit that I have a hard time keeping my life balanced. When I think about it, it's incredible that God gives us the ability to juggle so many things on a daily basis. It's very easy to be absorbed in a project to the point that several other important things are neglected. Housework is one area that doesn't make it to the top of my list unless company is coming over. I would much rather write, make phone calls, or run any number of errands as opposed to picking up a dust cloth or the dreaded toilet brush. Don't get me wrong, things stay staightened up for the most part, just don't drop in on me with your white glove, or you'll know what I'm talking about! Yesterday, I was made aware of another area I'd neglected.

In addition to spending time in prayer and Bible study, exercising, blogging on a regular basis, and doing some other writing, I still need to feed my family, keep up with the laundry, help with yard work, take care of pets...and the list goes on. By the end of last week, I realized my 17-year old would be leaving for Youth Conference on Monday. She had been doing her own thing and I had been doing mine. 'Things' had been accomplished, but since I was absorbed in my schedule, the 'people' in my life hadn't gotten much of my attention.

Only when faced with an argument, did I slow down enough to table my agenda and seek God's wisdom for how He'd have me respond. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminded me: "5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (KJV) Funny how easy it is to drift toward 'our own understanding' when things seem to be going well. When we hit a bump in the road, however, we're brought back to the reality of our need for a great God.

Following our conversation, I was humbled when my daughter came to my room and asked me to pray with her. Oh, how I constantly need to communicate with my Heavenly Father so I can speak "the truth in love." (Eph. 4:15, KJV) I was also reminded of the importance of communication within my family so that we're all on the same page. Open, honest communication needs to be a part of my daily life. I need to balance the things God has given me to do, with the family God has given me to enjoy. It's that important!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


He was such a cute kitten. A long-haired, Maine Coone, with big, tiger-yellow eyes and the most distinct "M" on his head: we knew Nathaniel was destined to be a "Morgan." He was my first Christmas present from Steve, after we got married.

I remember that Christmas Eve vividly. I had to work at the Health Improvement Center in Cincinnati from 6:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. As you might have guessed, December in the north is quite different from December here in the balmy south. It was frigid that day with a sprinkling of snow; so when Steve came to pick me up, I made a beeline for the car. Steve handed me a fluffy black, tan and white kitten. He had the smallest black dot on his pink nose and seemed so small and helpless. I wrapped him up in my scarf and watched him drift off to sleep on the car ride home.

Because he grew up with our dog, Jackie, Nathaniel was more like a dog than a cat. He would come when you called him, cuddle up on your lap at every opportunity and sprawl out on the floor on his back when he was done playing. He was smart, too. Who says you can't teach a cat tricks? He loved treats - especially Pounce. In order to 'earn' his treats, we taught him to pick up his toy bunny and shake it. After shaking his bunny, he would look up at us expectantly and wait for his cat treat. And talk about a cat with nicknames! It seemed like we added nicknames daily: Huber, Bart, Zenith, and Tychicus to list just a few.

Fall proved to be one of his favorite times of the year. It was clear that he felt it was his duty to 'guard' our house from all of those pesky leaves that would fall from the trees and attempt to make their way inside. He'd take up his post at the door leading out onto the deck and make funny growling noises while leaping up at the leaves as they made their erratic descent to the deck.

He seemed to know that he was a Christmas cat, because every December without fail he'd sing "Jingle Bells" with us. We'd sing a few words and stop, letting him fill in the appropriate 'meow.' He was very talented. He loved to check out the Christmas presents under the tree and on Christmas day we would find him fast asleep in one of the gift boxes that had held someone's present - as if to remind us that he was the first Christmas present Steve had gotten me.

This year, we'll miss Nathaniel and all of the special things he used to do. After being diagnosed with kidney failure last November, Nathaniel put up a brave fight until he passed away just two months ago. I'm reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a "1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die;" (KJV).

Although a void has been left in our family with the passing of Nathaniel, God allowed us eighteen and a half years to enjoy our faithful pet. What a lot of great memories we have to treasure. God's creation is amazing. I'm thankful that in His infinite wisdom He not only provides our biggest need - salvation (John 3:16), but that He provides little things like pets that give us joy along our journey. What a mighty, caring God we serve!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Plugged In

I like to exercise. More often then not, it's part of my daily routine. We have enough gym equipment in our basement, that I've toyed with the idea of selling memberships. Not really, but the variety of equipment does give me a lot of options when I head down the stairs to work out.

Some days I feel like using the eliptical machine for my cardio workout, and other days I step onto the treadmill for a challenging 'wog' - something between a walk and a jog. As I laced up my gym shoes this morning, I opted to use the treadmill. As I positioned myself on the treadmill with anticipation, I pushed the 'start' button. Nothing happened. I pressed again, thinking I may not have pushed hard enough. Still nothing. I glanced down to make sure the treadmill was plugged in. It was. Since we've only had it for a year and a half, I didn't think it was something major. I unplugged it, and found that the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) switch needed to be reset. Although the treadmill was plugged in and the power was flowing, it had been interrupted and was unable to power the treadmill. Once the GFCI switch was reset, the treadmill was good to go - so was I.

I got to thinking that I'm often like my treadmill. I was created for a specific purpose and while I may look fine on the outside, when I'm called on to do the things God created me to do, I'm unable to do them. My 'switch' needs to be reset in order for me to once again have His 'power' supply flowing through me.

Years ago, I heard a quote at a Pregnancy Care Center Conference that I'll never forget, "If you're not plugged into the Source, you have nothing to give." How often do I try to offer a word of encouragement, meet the needs of someone, or simply try to live life without staying connected to my Heavenly Father. John 15:5 is a great reminder: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (KJV)

Without His power in my life, I'm operating on my own strength and based on His word, I'm unable to do anything of true worth. When I have lots to accomplish and make the decision to skip spending time with God in prayer and Bible study, I'm cutting off my power supply, and my 'switch' needs to be reset.

How do I stay plugged into the Source and avoid things that cut off His power supply? By reading His word, submitting to His will, praying for direction, and following Him. Does your 'switch' need to be reset? Stay plugged into the Source, so you have something to give.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Formulas are helpful. For those of us who like absolutes, they're comforting, because they guarantee the right answer. Although I can't recall them today, I remember memorizing countless formulas in high school and college for Algebra, Physics and Chemistry. When I'd take a test and plug the numbers into the correct formula, I'd come up with the right answers. Although formulas are needful in some areas of life, when I try to come up with a formula for how God should act, I get myself into big trouble.

I have to be honest - change is hard for me. I like familiarity and thrive when I have a set routine. But when I get into the mind-set that everything has to be a certain way, I'm easily derailed when things turn out differently than expected.

The teens from my daughter, Riley's, Sunday School class were scheduled to go to Six Flags Amusement Park, yesterday. I didn't even consider it an option for her to go, since she had just had her wisdom teeth removed four days ago. Although it was true, that she had done phenomenally well with the entire prodecure, I was convinced that roller coasters and wild rides would somehow cause dry sockets. My initial response was a resounding, "NO!" In an attempt to be fair, I told her I'd call the oral surgeon and get his input before I gave in to my gut reaction. You can imagine my surprise and irritation when Dr. Meaders said it should be fine. His only concern was that with the heat, she may get dehydrated; something that could easily be remedied by drinking water consistently thoughout the day.

My formula went something like this: wisdom teeth extraction + Six Flags = painful dry sockets. When the doctor shot down my formula with the facts, I had to swallow my pride and admit that it wouldn't be a bad thing for Riley to go to Six Flags. Needless to say, she was ecstatic when I told her she could go.

I tend to do the same thing with God. I know how He has worked in a certain situation in my life, so I come up with a formula that has Him working in the same exact way in someone else's life. Instead, I need to let God be God, use my experiences to empathize with others, and then let Him do what only He can do in that person's life. I am so much better off when I exercise faith in God and don't restrict Him to working within my formulas. Are you willing to step out in faith, let go of the formulas and let God be God?