25 years! A look back, a look ahead

One of the reasons I started this blog back in 2008 was to have a place to store “stones of remembrance” in our lives. As my blog has become more public over the years, I often hold back from doing that and miss keeping a record as originally intended.

In this, my 25th wedding anniversary year, it seems fitting to write a post to give thanks to God for my husband and to remember this year. This particular year was one we couldn’t have imagined, and yet contained so many life and faith lessons. Many of these things I’ve learned by watching my husband. Read more

This Day All His Mercies Are New

I’ll return to the series on calling soon, but as I watch the sun rise this morning, I’m again reminded, as I so often am at the beginning of the day, of God’s great love and mercy toward us.

When I see a sunrise, I think of hesed, the Hebrew word for God’s loyal love and covenantal kindness toward His people, so often expressed in the Old Testament when we see the “LORD” (the all caps LORD in the OT indicates a reference to Yahweh, the Hebrew name for God revealed to Moses by four consonants, YHWH, the tetragrammaton).

Read these well-known verses:

Lamentations 3:23-25 “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’ The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” (NKJV)

The sunrise reminds us again of the mercies, compassion, and unfailing love of the LORD that are new every morning. Praise the LORD! As I type, the sunlight rests on my hands, and I am praising the LORD for hope, a new day, His faithfulness, His steadfast love, His mercy, and His compassion toward us.

It also brings to mind the verses in Luke 1:78-79, where Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, is prophesying. The whole prophecy (verse 67-79) is worth reading, but I focus here on verse 78-79:

“Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (NAS, emphasis mine)

What beautiful prophecy of the coming Messiah, Jesus, who was and is the “Sunrise from on high” – what a picture! – bringing light to darkness and guiding our feet in the way of peace.

As the sun rises and shines on me even now, I ponder His love and mercy and remember the Sunrise from on high who brought light to our dark world, salvation in His coming. Praise You this new day, Jesus! In You I hope and wait and receive with joy and thankfulness your love and mercy.

Happy Mother’s Day

Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”

This is my mom with my son last Easter in Memphis. The verse above applies to her! I’m thankful to have a mom who fears the Lord and who has always been an example to me of living a life devoted to Him. She is full of compassion and love for others, selflessness about herself, and always seeking to direct people to the Lord, their source of hope, and His truth.

My mom has not had the easiest of lives, but she has a fruitful and joyful life lived in the Lord. When I was 2 months old, my father died in a car wreck. My mom was 25 years old, a young widow with two daughters. She moved back to Memphis, her hometown.

3 years later, my mom lost her mother to cancer. She did get to see her mother come to a saving faith in Christ 2 weeks before she died! When I was 7, my mom’s father died. We adored him. When I was in college, her sister and only sibling died. I’ve always thought it must have been hard to lose those closest to you in such a short span of time and still while relatively young.

This last year, my mom lost her second husband suddenly, only about 2 weeks after losing a dear friend. She’s still figuring out life with his absence.

In all these losses, her confidence in the Lord has never been shaken. She is grounded in the Bible and trusts the Lord for each day, and He has always provided. There are so many stories of His faithfulness to her and to us through the years.

Through God’s grace, faithfulness, and provision for us, we never lacked a thing. My sister and I both attended a Christian school for 13 years that gave us a solid foundation and stability. I have no idea how that worked out precisely, but I am grateful. We always attended the same church where I was baptized, married the preacher’s son, and had my children dedicated to the Lord.

While her life is a story of God’s faithfulness, on this Mother’s Day weekend, I want to thank her for choosing to follow Him, for her consistency and the choices she made that brought us stability and a solid home life. It could not have been easy to do that alone, to have to go to work each day, to be a single mom, but she did it with grace, without complaint, with joy.

Thank you, Lord, for my precious mom!

Summer Lessons

I’m finally remembering to do my summer wrap up post on how the Lord revealed Himself so mercifully to me during challenging times.

From the moment my husband planned our Europe trip, I dreaded it. I didn’t want to leave the children, I was anxious to travel overseas, and I am quite simply a homebody. I am a creature of habit and routine, and travel has always caused upheaval for me to leave my comfort zone. There are only a few exceptions, such as Florida, the Smokies, going to the lake, family camp, or other trips with my family. Nonetheless, I felt like it was the right decision to go, and I was encouraged to do so by many friends and family members.

Several times a week in the weeks prior to the trip, I would wake up in the night with an anxious heart, confess it to the Lord, acknowledge that this fear was not from Him, pray, quote Scripture, and return to sleep. Oftentimes, I would even wake up and scream out from crazy confusion in my sleep!

As the trip grew closer, my feelings of nervousness grew, the stress even manifesting itself in physical ways, but my decision to go was also certain. I would not back out. I was waiting to be surprised by how magnificent a trip it would be and to surely discover that my fears were unwarranted; somehow I expected to find out that maybe I would be a world traveler and be excited to plan future trips! I was also sort of waiting to be blessed for my “obedience” to go, if I’m honest!

No matter how much I had prayed about it during those weeks, there didn’t seem to be any kind of confirming word from the Lord speaking directly to my concerns. I just held on to what I knew was truth as found in the Bible, and I kept on in prayer, waiting for Him to help me. He did. There were nights I was comforted, nights I was blessed by reciting Scripture, and His presence was real. But I really wanted specific insight into how to handle this trip, and I didn’t have that.

Until the day before I left. June 13th. I love that about God. There is purpose in the waiting of learning to trust and obey Him, to believe Him even when we can’t see or know the outcome. And at the right time, He just provides exactly what is needed.

I was down in Memphis dropping off my children, planning to fly back to Chicago that afternoon to then fly the following day to Europe. It was a Sunday, and we did not make it to church. My mom’s friend called and said she wanted to bring by the CD of the sermon that she had just heard. It was by Reggie Sessions, pastor at Independent Presbyterian in Memphis. I’d never heard him before, but this was an excellent message from I Samuel 18, I believe. He talked about the slavery of living in our kingdom, the freedom of getting out of the way, and what we find at the end of the line.

In looking at the life of Saul, he described that it is when we live to protect our kingdom that we are bitter, jealous, resentful, angry — “it takes away our humanity,” he said, and we become a shell of a human being. We’re trying to be God and the center of our universes, and we’re bad at it. We want to be free, but we’re addicted to our kingdom.

He then talked about how we need to get out of the way. He looked at the life of Jonathan, Saul’s son, who surrendered to David’s kingship. He got off the throne and didn’t demand his rights. He laid his life into David’s hand, and gave David his sword, belt and bow.

Reggie described how we are at war with God, but we must surrender. We are fighting against Jesus the King and don’t want to surrender control of our lives. To stand down and be broken is the only way to liberation and peace of mind.

At the end of the line, there is nothing left to hide and no more attempts to control the world. This is where there is peace and joy. He described THE Person (Jesus) who got off His throne for us, who came to give us abundant life. When we surrender and go to the end of the line, “we get our true humanity back.” At the end of the line, it’s not loss, but gain.

What I found so convicting in the message was the description of one trying to control her life. Reggie said, “Some of you are too afraid to leave Memphis and all the things you love to go on a vacation.” It was funny how there were perfect quotes throughout the sermon that were completely accurate to my situation.

Later in the day, I was sitting in the Memphis airport delayed on my flight to Chicago. I began to pray and got out my journal to write my thoughts. They centered on the faithfulness of God: “Lord, You have been faithful!” I wrote a couple of paragraphs on His faithfulness and accompanying verses, then wrote, “You are asking me to do something so outside of my comfort zone, but I thank you for speaking to me, and I pray You will show me Yourself and reveal Yourself to me all along the way, just like You did with the sermon this morning.”

As I sat there, praying and listening, I wrote down what was on my heart: “Just take the next step. One step at a time. Wait on Me. Trust Me.

When I finally boarded the plane to Chicago a short time later, I opened up a book my mom had given me. It was The Saving Life of Christ by Ian Thomas. I’d never opened it before; it was a completely new book to me.

I opened the first page, and it said, “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” (I Thess. 5:24) He then writes, “If you will but trust Christ, not only for the death He died in order to redeem you, but also for the life that He lives and waits to live through you, the very next step you take will be a step taken in the very energy and power of God Himself…. You will be restored to your true humanity.

Not only did the book begin by talking about the very contents of my prayer moments before — God’s faithfulness and my call to trust Him and take the next step — but it also re-affirmed the words in the sermon from Reggie — in so doing, you will be restored to your true humanity!

As I read this book, it absolutely amazed me that it spoke so directly to my current situation. As Ian Thomas developed life in the wilderness versus walking in abundance with Christ each day, he even wrote: “Do you still consider that you have the right to choose where you will spend your vacation? You do not have that right! Except in the wilderness!”

Over and over, the book spoke to my specific situation, and while I had waited for the Lord to speak to me, He so mercifully met me in such a powerful way.

The following day, June 14th, in traveling to Europe, I just did what He had shown me: take the next step. All I need to think about is the next step… not be worried about what is beyond it. So I would stand in the line to check my bags. All I need to do is check the bags. Then I would figure out boarding, and take that step. And the trip became just a series of steps wherein I could trust Him with each one.

When I was threatened to be overcome with fear, I could just remember He was with me, He is faithful, He would take me through this step, I could trust Him.

I hope I will hang on to these lessons as I go forward in my life. There were so many other things over the remainder of the summer, but these things really stick out to me. He is all we need, and He is more than enough. It is right to let Him be on the throne, to let Him guide us in each successive step, to believe Him for those moments and trust His sovereignty. He is faithful; He is good. I praise You, Lord!

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23 (ESV)

Faithfulness and Friends


I love seeing God’s faithfulness in the smaller details of our lives. When I flew down to Memphis for the funeral this summer, I realized I had nothing appropriate to wear to a funeral. I had a picture in my mind of what I would want — just a plain, basic black dress, sleeveless, knee length, fitted. As I considered where I might find it, Talbots was the only store I could think of that might have it. I dreaded spending the money for a dress.

I mentioned to a couple of family members that I would have to go out and get a dress. The next day, the day of the burial, my cousin walked up and said to me, “We’re bringing your dress over after this.” “What did she mean?” I wondered. “We have a dress we think will work,” she explained.

They walked in the house later and handed me a plain black dress, sleeveless, knee length, fitted, with a Talbot’s tag and my exact size on the label, exactly as I had pictured! What a blessing from the Lord! The very dress I imagined, I now had without spending a dime!

The morning of the funeral, my sister and I ran out to grab a couple of things we needed, one being shoes to wear with the dress. We ran in Dillard’s, and they had the perfect pair of black heels for $90! No, couldn’t do it, but I also didn’t want to drive around the city or shop.

My sister wanted to run in Target and suggested I glance at their shoes. We found shoes there identical to the ones at Dillard’s — leather black heels — exactly the same, except these were $25! I was so excited for this provision. I scanned all the boxes only to find they did not have my size. We asked for help; she looked in the back, found nothing, and printed a list of other stores. I was so disappointed. I knew I did not want to be out shopping and circling the city for every Target to find these shoes.

I left the aisle and went to another one and started to pray. I felt like the Lord had led us to these shoes and was making a provision for me. He knew our needs and that we did not want to be out shopping. I knew He was able to supply me with those shoes and meet that need. I asked Him to do so and wanted the faith to believe He would. I knew those shoes weren’t there, but I knew He could make it so they were.

I finished praying and went back to the shoe aisle to find my shoes. I began lifting shoes out of each and every box, no matter what size it said, and comparing sizes with the sizes listed on the box. And there I found my shoes in a 6 1/2 box! I was so thankful to the Lord for giving me exactly what I needed.

It also made me wonder about something: what do I not have because I have not asked? It’s not that God is just sitting there waiting to give me whatever I ask for; I understand that. But I so easily could have exited the Target store without asking or believing Him to do a thing. I could have traveled to more Targets until I found something, and maybe never known that He could have done this for me. What do I not have because I have not asked? I want to pray for faith to believe Him more.

One other sweet provision during this time were my friends. I have 3 friends whom I have known almost since birth; we all went to school together, graduated together. They all 3 live out of the state or country, 2 very far away. In God’s perfect timing, 2 were in town (or close enough to drive) at the time of the funeral, and my 3rd friend changed her day and drove over from Arkansas.

I really thought it wasn’t a big deal if they couldn’t make it — would never have even thought about it — but it was so dear to my heart that they all came! When I was standing in the receiving line at the church and looked up and saw the 3 of them together, I just burst into tears. How could we all have been apart for so long and all be standing together at one time? And how special it was to me that they would come to be with us on this occasion, that this mattered to them.

One of them commented to me later, “We think this is what heaven’s going to be like when we are reunited with so many.” I think she’s right. So thankful for lifelong friends. I don’t know how common it is to have these kinds of friendships, but I cherish them all greatly. I praise the Lord for His perfect provisions in my life, from the most significant one of rescuing me from my sins and giving me salvation through Christ, to all the little details of life. Thank you, Lord.

It’s Officially Summer!

2008 Field Day — Casted Arm

School ended today with what has become a tradition — field day followed by lots of food in the classrooms before noon dismissal, then the conclusion of parent teacher conferences. It’s a great conclusion to the year!

For those of us who work at the school, it’s a sentimental day, as well, as we realize some of us will now be parting ways, perhaps never to see one another again. It’s a day full of reflection on the past year and emotion in seeing what God has done in our children, in our school, the beauty of what He has brought together, and the hope that He will continue it despite change, which is unavoidable and even necessary.

Today reminded me of God’s faithfulness as I looked back to one year ago at this time. We finished field day, and I took my son to the orthopedist for a follow up visit to see how his wrist was healing. It had been broken 2 weeks before, but was not displaced and looked to be a simple matter. However, we learned at this visit that his wrist had become displaced in the cast and he would need surgery the next morning to try to correct it as soon as possible. The hope was he wouldn’t need an incision or pins, but those were feasible options.

Two days prior, at our teachers’ chapel where we shared Scripture and exhortations with the students, I had shared a special verse to me: Jeremiah 32:17: “Ah, Lord God, you have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched hand and there is nothing too hard for You.” That was the first verse I had learned in Kindergarten, and God had used it in my life as I had prayed for this school.

I shared with the children the power of God… that we sat where we were, had the teachers we did, had been blessed with this school because God was and is powerful. I encouraged them to trust Him and not put “God in a box” but instead believe that He can do great things.

So as I sat at the orthopedist’s office hearing his words “we need to do surgery, right away, tomorrow, ….. pins, incisions,” I could also hear in my head the words I had spoken in chapel, “God is powerful, trust Him…” I knew this was a chance for my son’s faith to grow, that God had allowed this for good.

My son was naturally nervous about the surgery. My husband had left town that morning on a 6 hour trip, and had turned right around to come back home. We went to dinner while we waited on his return. A song played on the way: “Your grace is enough, Heaven reaching down to us, Your grace is enough for me; God, I see your grace is enough, I’m covered in your love, Your grace is enough for me; remember Your people; remember Your children; remember Your promise, O God. Your grace is enough. Your grace is enough. Your grace is enough for me.”

It was just a good song to remind my son that God loved him and is gracious. I told him to lay out his arm before God and ask Him to heal it. The sunroof was open and the sun was pouring in down on his casted arm as he held out his arm to God and gave it to Him. It did seem like “heaven was reaching down to us.” I loved seeing my son’s faith that He was willing to lay it before God. Before bed, my son told me he wanted to read Job “because it was about a man who suffered.” It was sweet to see him seek the Lord.

The surgery the next day went fine, and we were thankful to find the surgeon could shove the bones really hard back into place and did not need pins and incisions. However, he ended up with a much larger cast and sling for the next few weeks and we canceled summer camps and plans. But we saw in the midst of it again God’s goodness and grace.

Opportunities to trust Him. Steps in our journey. Stops along the way where we see God actively in our lives so that we can look back and remember what great things He has done and move forward with confident expectation that the God who has done great things can and does act on behalf of His people.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” Jeremiah 17:7