Slow Down

One of the messages of this past year for me has been to “slow down.” I can’t remember how it exactly started, but I believe it was a song:

Teach me to number my days
and count every moment before it slips away
take in all the colors before they fade to gray
I don’t want to miss even just a second more of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash,
It happens in the time it took to look back,
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time,
What is it I’ve done with my life?
It happens in a blink.

Slow down, slow down, before today becomes our yesterday.
Slow down, slow down, before you turn around and it’s too late.

I remember the words “slow down” speaking so clearly to me. If I’d leave work and have something on my mind, I’d hear the song and realize I needed to let it go and focus on what was in front of me at home.

I was dropping my son off at his piano lessons one afternoon, and as I was walking across the street, I looked up at the store window that sells tea and such, and there in the window were the large words, “SLOW DOWN.” They weren’t there the next week; they were there though the day I needed to see them.

During our pastor’s sermon a week or two ago, I caught it when he clearly mentioned “Slow Down.” I remembered again the message this year that I had kept wanting to overlook. Because sometimes, slowing down means letting go of things we feel better at or things we enjoy doing in order to do the things that don’t come as easy (training children!). But it’s what my children need, and it’s what I need.

I don’t know that I’ve done a great job of assessing what it looks like for me to slow down, but as the year has gone on, it seems to be happening. This week has been our spring break, and I’ve enjoyed the days with my children, doing things we haven’t done together in quite some time, focusing on them, not just being physically present with them, but being there in the moment with them.

One thing I haven’t been able to get off my mind this week: a family we knew from our time in Virginia who were in our Sunday school class lost their son, a freshman at University of VA, in a tragic fall at the university Sunday night. They are now missionaries in Ireland, but the dad was in Charlottesville that weekend. He went to church with his son, they spent the afternoon together, went to dinner and a show with grandparents, and ended the evening around 10 when they dropped off the son at the dorms. His last words to his dad were, “I love you, dad.” Apparently, he went out then with some friends, and less than an hour and a half later, he was dead from a tragic fall. This same family lost another grandson in a drowning accident 2-3 years ago. I have been praying for them all week and trusting this is not in vain, that God knew the days ordained for this young man, and that He has good and perfect purposes. I am praying for their comfort, for his two brothers, for his precious parents and grandparents, that they are able to see even now some of the reasons and ways God is glorified in something that from man’s perspective is so harsh and tragic.

As my son played trick after trick on me today for April Fool’s Day (seems 12-year old boys especially enjoy things like short sheeting the bed, putting salt on toothbrushes, pretending to splash you with water, and such), I was reminded to just enjoy him and enjoy his joy in the fun.

I am excited about the days ahead and learning more what it means to “slow down” and finding the outcomes of what this means for our family.

**UPDATE**

I just finished this blog post and had to take my husband’s car to get a headlight replaced. As I walked to the porch to get my shoes, I found them with shaving cream in them! The jokes continue, and I try to remain glad!

On the way back home, we drove past this sign in a yard and it seemed timely:

The Lord is My Shepherd

Each new year, I try to choose a theme to reflect on for the coming year. In 2009, it was “the fear of the Lord.” In 2010, it was “God is Light.” I am always amazed at how much comes up during the year when focusing on a theme like this and how every time it comes up, I see something from a different angle.

Until this week, I hadn’t finalized my theme for 2011, though I had considered a “Shepherd” theme. In early December, I was praying through Psalm 23 one morning and read John 10:7-18 about Jesus being our good Shepherd. The good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep, knows His sheep and they know Him, and knows His Father. There is One Shepherd, and His sheep hear His voice.

On December 26, I wrote in my journal that I was considering this “Shepherd” theme for 2011. I read I Peter 2:25 and Ezekial 34 and thought about God as the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls.

Well, the year got started and I had not formalized anything more on my theme, sort of jumping right into the new year. But my heart this week had been very restless and unsettled. I needed peace. I needed my mind to be calm and controlled by the Spirit. I went to work Wednesday, feeling tired and needy. I asked the Lord to give me a Word from Him because of my restlessness.

I went to chapel (at the school where I work) for the first time in a while. The chaplain to my surprise spoke on Psalm 23. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

I loved those words of refreshment, restoration, reminding me of the confidence I have in Him that He is worthy of all my trust. He leads me in the right path. I have no need with Him.

I felt led to read Psalm 100 before I left the sanctuary. I did not remember that it also speaks of our Shepherd: “Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

Finally, I ended in Ecclesiastes 12:11-14, finding that the words of the wise are given by one Shepherd. I am to fear God and keep His commands.

I’m so thankful for our faithful God who reveals Himself to us through His Word. I now have my theme firmly in place for 2011: the Lord is my Shepherd. I’m looking forward to seeing more how He leads and guides this sheep in the coming year!

God is Light

Two themes I’ve been reflecting on recently: “Whiter than Snow” (from my last post) and “God is Light.” This was another theme that ran through my Christmas season, verses on light and darkness that I had never spent too much time thinking about.

It started on December 4th with our school newsletter. My co-worker added this verse to the top:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” Isaiah 9:2

I thought about her selection at the Christmas season: His Light shining in the darkness. Not the first verse I would have thought about at Christmas, but so right. I continued to run across verses talking about the Light that came into the world and that contrasted the Light and darkness.

While we were on vacation after Christmas, everyone went ice skating, and I was alone in the cabin. As I was reading my Bible and praying, confessing, I was thinking about my sin, who I am before God. I looked up and directly across the room on the table was a book entitled Sinner that I had given my husband for Christmas. (He’s been writing fiction, and thus enjoying reading other fiction, this one by Ted Dekker.) As I looked across the room at that book, with the spine facing me, the large words SINNER looking right at me, I thought, “that’s who I am. That is the perfect description of me.”

As I was thinking this through, the sun shone through the dreary overcast snowy day, and all of a sudden, light came shining so brightly into the room. The light was so bright, in fact, that I could no longer read the title on the spine of the book across the room. It was such a perfect illustration of what Christ’s Light does. He comes into the darkness and by His sacrifice, forgives all our sin, such that we become identified with Him, the Light, and He exposes and removes the darkness and changes our lives!

I’ve been thinking a lot about that picture and what to take from these truths. Yesterday, my son had a CD on the counter that he had received this week at his first Upward basketball practice (a national Christian league that is run locally at our church). I asked him what it was, and he said they were songs to help him learn the weekly Bible verses. We put in the CD, and these were the titles of 8 of the 10 songs:

God is Light
The Light Shines in the Darkness
The True Light
They Wanted Darkness
He Will Have the Light
Live in the Light, Too
If We Live in the Light
You Should Be a Light

The common thread to these songs was not lost on me! A verse goes with each song, such as:

“God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” I John 1:5“The Light shines in the darkness. And the darkness has not overpowered the Light.” John 1:5

“The true Light was coming into the world. The true Light gives life to all.” John 1:9

“Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will never live in darkness. He will have the Light that gives life.'” John 8:12

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” I John 1:7

To think about these verses and these truths has been a powerful thing for me. I love our God, that He is so personal to lead us and teach us through His Word.Praise You, Lord, the true Light, who came into the world to save us and take us out of darkness and into your marvelous light! (And as I write this, I’m reminded of the verse that accompanies my blog at the top of it! “To proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous Light.” Yes, Praise You, Lord!

Whiter Than Snow


I’ve been thinking a lot lately (the last month or so) about this “whiter than snow” imagery that I shared about in the last post.

It started with a “service project” our school did in early December for the refugees that take ESL classes at our church where our school also meets. The church had a Christmas program for them, and our students were able to sing hymns and recite Scripture, followed by a gospel presentation from the pastor and a time of fellowship, food, gifts, and distribution of New Testaments. I left my work to run over and take some pictures, but while I was standing there watching this amazing program, my heart was convicted, “This is not a photo op for service.”

Our school is very service oriented with a Vision to see the students propelled to a life of service for Christ. Of course, we want this to flow out of a relationship with Christ and a grateful heart to Him for what He has done for us, extending it to others. It’s not service for service’s sake. And we are dependent on His Spirit for this, as in all things. So the conviction to my heart was, “this isn’t simply a service project that you need to be photographing… this is gospel transformation happening!” I was so moved by the whole program, seeing this large room, packed with refugee students, and seeing the simplicity of the gospel and how God is working in all our hearts.

A teacher came over and asked me to run back to the office for something. I normally would take an inside route following a tunnel underground to get to the other building, but I ran out a back way, found myself in the kitchen, with the only door leading to outside. I figured I could handle the cold for a few minutes, so I stepped outside only to find myself in the first snowfall of the year. It was beautiful and timely, and the verse that came to my mind was from Isaiah 1: “come, let us reason together, though our sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow….”

This theme ran through my December, even as I looked for a gift to send a friend. Amazon popped up a book by an author I like (Paul Tripp) entitled “Whiter than Snow.” At our New Year’s Eve prayer and praise time, our friend read from Isaiah 51 during the confession time of prayer. As he read, “purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow,” those words again hit my heart: “whiter than snow.”

What an amazing thing that Jesus has done for us that we can be whiter than snow! He cleanses us from all our sin through His sacrifice on the cross, and we gain everything through our faith in Him.

At church this morning, I opened up the program to see that during communion and the “distribution of the cup,” a soloist would be singing a song entitled Whiter Than Snow. One more reminder through the beautiful words of this song of what we have in Christ and a beautiful prayer:

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul.
Break down every idol, cast out every foe;
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Refrain

Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow.
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, let nothing unholy remain,
Apply Thine own blood and extract ev’ry stain;
To get this blest cleansing, I all things forego—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Refrain

Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat,
I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet.
By faith, for my cleansing, I see Thy blood flow,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Refrain

Lord Jesus, Thou seest I patiently wait,
Come now, and within me a new heart create;
To those who have sought Thee, Thou never saidst “No,”
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Refrain

The blessing by faith, I receive from above;
O glory! my soul is made perfect in love;
My prayer has prevailed, and this moment I know,
The blood is applied, I am whiter than snow.

Refrain

Whiter than snow. Thank you, Jesus.

Happy New Year 2010!

We enjoyed bringing in the new year in a new way. We were invited by friends to a prayer and praise night in their home from 9 p.m. -12 midnight to begin the year with praise, thanksgiving, prayer, worship, and song. It was a wonderful way to reflect on 2009 and consider 2010.

I particularly liked the image of “white as snow” from Psalm 51 and Isaiah 1: “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow” and “Though their sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”


With all the beautiful snow that has fallen this year already, it left a beautiful impression in my mind. To be whiter than snow! So thankful for Jesus’ blood that washes us and cleanses us from all our sin.

Here are a few pictures of some things we’ve enjoyed these last couple of weeks during our Christmas break.

Making a gingerbread house
Watching some football
Cooking with KKChristmas Eve after church

Ice Skating

Sledding

Riding up the sledding hill

Ready to go again!

I pray the coming year is one of great blessing and joy for you and your families!