Who To Believe

I get massages on a regular basis. Out of need. Of course. I have a scar that has built up scar tissue, and it causes much tightness in my shoulder. So, of course, when the massage therapist advised me to get monthly massages, I obliged. Who wouldn’t? I also have some trouble with my right foot. The muscles get tight, which makes walking uncomfortable. She suggested I keep my feet in their natural state as much as possible. Basically, I shouldn’t wear shoes.

I love this massage therapist. She pursues training in new massage techniques. She uses several different methods to help provide relief to my tight and aching muscles. She seems to work magic. I walk away from her sessions feeling relaxed and renewed.

When this massage therapist moved away a few years ago, I had to find another. I had to find someone else who would be able to provide as much relief for my problems as she had given. It was a difficult task. But I found someone who worked in different ways to achieve the same results. This massage therapist is a man with much strength. He is determined to remove all the tightness from my muscles. His massages aren’t relaxing, but they are effective. They are just what I need.

But he gives different advice. As he was working on my tight right foot the other day, he asked if I wore shoes. I said no. Since I’m working from home, I only wear shoes when I leave the house. He didn’t seem pleased with that news. He acted as if my feet would be better off in shoes, rather than in their natural state.

Who am I to believe? Why wouldn’t allowing my feet to be in their natural state be better than being boxed into a shape formed by man or machine? Would my feet be better off walking on more padding? Should I choose what feels more comfortable or what is easiest for me? How am I to know what is right?


My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Psalms 73:26


I think of my daily walk with God. What words am I feeding my soul? Am I getting a daily dose of God’s word in my diet? Or am I filling my mind full of words written by man about the Bible? There is a lot of truth out there. But there is also a lot of false teaching. My first line of defense must always be God’s word. It’s time to put away the junk food and feast on banquet food.

As I consider how best to care for my feet, I have a choice. What is easiest or what is most effective? Am I willing to pay the price now to have healthy feet, or do I just slip my feet into flimsy flip flops and be carefree? Because later, after years of neglect, there will be a much heavier price.

When I think of my spiritual life, I must consider the price I’m willing to pay today in order to be welcomed into the pearly gates of heaven one day. Is the price today so high that I forfeit it for comfort and pride? If I don’t pay the price today, I will pay it for eternity. The price today is a bargain, really. Serving God faithfully. Obeying his instructions. What do I have to lose? That seems to be the question these days.

I’ve never suffered for being a follower of Jesus. I’ve never been inconvenienced for my faith. I’ve never been persecuted or threatened because I attend church or read my Bible or pray. I’ve never been denied the basic comforts of life because I’m a Christian.

Could that day come? Yes. Will it? Only time will tell. But as for today, I will live for Christ regardless of any discomfort I may face in the future. My hope is in God Almighty and the salvation he freely offered.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here, in the love of Christ, I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save
‘Til on that cross, as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin, on him, was laid
Here, in the death of Christ, I live

There in the ground, his body lay
Light of the world, by darkness, slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave, he rose again
And as he stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am his and he is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from his hand
‘Til he returns or calls me home
Here, in the power of Christ, I stand

Keith and Kristyn Getty

Do You Blush

The ending of a prayer this week has sparked a new controversy. Or shall I say. It has added fuel to the fire. Who doesn’t know that saying Amen at the end of a prayer isn’t a statement of gender identification. In an effort to be politically correct, this former pastor made a mockery of himself, not of prayer or faith. And the fact that a former minister is the one saying the prayer says so much about how lost this great nation truly is. Can we honestly say we are a nation under God? Can we?

On a daily basis, the news is streaming acts of ungodliness without shame. As a nation, we are no longer ashamed of our sins. We no longer blush over wrongdoing or apologize for our sins. We do not heed the warning of our conscience any longer. To say that we’ve lost our way is an understatement. Is it possible for this great nation to repent and return to worshipping God? Who is the god of this nation?

Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 6:15

We are clearly living in an upside-down world where right is wrong and wrong is right, where moral is immoral and immoral is moral, where good is evil and evil is good, where killing murderers is wrong, but killing innocent babies is right.

Unknown

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. Isaiah 5:20

Just recently, I realized that I had accepted a belief that didn’t align with Scripture. After voicing that belief to another, I felt my spirit checked to reconsider what I felt was truth. As I realized I had bought into a lie, I knew I needed to repent and follow biblical truth. What I learned was that I need to test every belief to see if it aligns with Scripture. If it doesn’t, I need to pray for forgiveness and turn my thoughts and beliefs toward God.


The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9


We’ve forgotten how to disagree. Nowadays, it seems that we all must agree on a subject or we can’t be trusted. We kill unborn babies in the womb up to the day of delivery. We’ve come to the conclusion that there are more than two genders. Some have gone so far as to demand a change in the way pronouns are used.

The nuclear family is in jeopardy. We no longer blush about making the holy commands of God unholy. We applaud same sex marriage and call it equality. We congratulate our child who wants to change their gender. When was the last time we stood against the destruction of our sacred family values? 

We proudly congratulate an unmarried couple on their pregnancy. It’s assumed that at some point an unmarried couple will live together before marriage. But do they know what God says about such matters? Does anyone care anymore?

We think nothing of spewing out four letter words. We show a falsely perfect family life on social media. And yet we applaud those who have publicly announced the deconstruction of their faith. 

We’ve stopped reading God’s Word. We don’t even know the most repeated Bible stories. We can’t pass down biblical truths that we’ve never learned.

And we call ourselves Christians. 

“Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am planning disaster for you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.” But the people replied, “Don’t waste your breath. We will continue to live as we want to, stubbornly following our own evil desires.” Jeremiah 18:11-12

At times, we choose comfort over truth. My question is why are we comfortable with lies? And how does that happen? How long does it take before we have exchanged the truth for a lie? Why do we stay silent when we know the truth?

We’ve forgotten how to spot the lies that we hear or see. False and exaggerated stories fill the news. We don’t look for the truth. We accept what we’re told as gospel. Especially if it’s comfortable for us. 

Why do we choose comfort over truth? Is it because we don’t know truth anymore?

I’m blushing over here. Are you?

Almost Divorced

Mary and Joseph. The couple who almost weren’t a couple. They planned to marry. But before they officially started their life together, it almost ended. Due to no fault of either of them, their marriage would forever be marked by scandal.

Mary was pregnant with a child who wasn’t Joseph’s. 

Imagine Joseph’s fears. The concern. The shame. Knowing he had done no wrong but unable to prove his innocence. Could he trust his bride? Was she being honest?

Imagine Mary’s concerns. Knowing she had done no wrong, but unable to prove her innocence. But who would believe her? Would Joseph trust her? Would her family believe the news the angel spoke? Would Joseph still want to be her husband? Would she be an outcast? But she knew what the angel had told her. And she believed.

It would have been easy for Joseph to win the case in court. Mary was pregnant with someone else’s child. They both knew that. The evidence was stacked against her. What man wouldn’t have dumped her?

But the angel who spoke to Joseph in a dream had a most convincing argument.  But how could it be possible that his Mary had been chosen to birth the Son of God? The Promised Messiah was the babe in her virgin womb. How would they sell that story?

Oh sure. Every Jew was taught that they were awaiting the coming of the Messiah. But why Mary? Why now? So Joseph did the unthinkable. He believed the angel. He kept his vow to Mary. He moved forward with the marriage. He would raise her child. 

The right decision paved the way for Joseph to raise this child in a safe and stable home. Oh. It wasn’t easy. I’m sure. But Joseph could sleep well at night. He could have peace within. He had trusted the all seeing, all knowing God to an unknown future. He willingly accepted the life God laid out for him and his family.

Even Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, recognized who lay in Mary’s womb. And so did the child in Elizabeth’s once barren womb. Mary didn’t need to be vindicated.  But her word and God’s word proved true even before the child was born. And then multiple times after his arrival.  

There were the shepherds who heard the news from the angels. The old man, Simeon, stood in the temple and recognized the baby immediately as the Son of God. And Anna, the prophet, also confirmed the 8-day old baby as the Promised Messiah. Later, the bright star that shone in the east led the wise men to seek this child.

These were no coincidence. These incidents were all by the hand of God. He was moving in his chosen people. The long awaited Messiah was now among them. Carried in a virgin womb. Wrapped in swaddling clothes. Delivered in the town of Bethlehem. Born to be the Deliverance of his people.

 The proof of Mary’s innocence and virtue were in place, if one was looking. 


“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord . “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9


How many times have I almost taken the wrong step, even though the right step was the road less traveled. The wrong step would have been the path of least resistance for Joseph. But the right decision looked foolish in the eyes of his family and neighbors. Who could fault him?  How could he explain the situation to those who asked? Mary and Joseph knew they were in for the long haul. But they didn’t really have a clue what life would be like living with the God Child. 

In our times of uncertainty, it’s easy to choose the obvious path. Especially when it’s what everyone else would do. But I’m not everyone else. And when God clearly says to take the least popular approach, then the response should be just as clear. I wonder how often I have chosen the easier path instead of the one designed by God. No one else has to know. Right? Except for God. But isn’t that enough to make me pause? God knows everything. He knows his plans for me. He knows when I follow his plans and when I don’t. So who am I fooling?

 A life of obedience to God’s will over the ways of the world can be the only choice. It is His perfect plan, even when it doesn’t seem the perfect solution. Even when friends and neighbors offer their unsolicited advice. Turn the other way. They say. Don’t stir up trouble when you don’t have to. Look out for yourself.

But God’s ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His plans are perfect.

Running on Fumes

I can only imagine how Mary felt as she rode that donkey to Bethlehem. Hugely pregnant with a child she never planned to carry. Traveling with a husband she had never slept with. Now she was basically alone giving birth in a strange place without her mother and other women who knew about birthing babies. No baby shower to honor her and provide for the baby’s needs. No one to gently advise her on mothering and wifely duties. She was a woman without, yet she had all she needed. God was with her.

This year has been that type of year for many of us. We’ve lived alone in our own homes. Not allowed to freely live our lives. We wear masks in public. We’re advised to follow the guidelines, yet we see so many of our leaders freely breaking those guidelines when it suits their whims. We’re told we need to lockdown, yet the lockdown is pulling some people and businesses under without hope for survival.

In some states, churches aren’t allowed to meet in person. But you bet that riots welcome any and all unmasked activists with open arms. Indoor dining is banned in some states, unless you’re in a special class of people. Vaccines are being administered, but no one is satisfied with the priority of recipients. Life is turning out to be hard for so many of us who are accustomed to comfort and mild luxury. We have taken freedom and spontaneity for granted.

I’ve said it before, and apparently, I’m saying it again. This has been a tough year. For many reasons. For many people. In many ways.

For most of the pandemic, I’ve been handling things pretty well. Except for the fact that I’m working from home, my life really hasn’t changed. There have been times during the past nine months when I’ve realized I’m happiest when I’m at home. So working from home has been a great relief for me. My commute is non-existent. I haven’t seen the workplace drama queen since early March. I can use flex time each week. Life sometimes feels pretty good.

But then reality hits. Work demands take all the joy out of working from home. Unorganized and lazy coworkers make the job a lot harder than it should be. Management makes changes without vetting them and expects everyone to fall in line. Workers are expected to do more with less. And the list goes on.


You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. Isaiah 26:3-4


People are on edge this year. For different reasons. Those who lost their jobs are fearful of what lies ahead. Those who are essential workers are running on fumes. And still more is expected.

 I am one of those essential workers. And for that I am grateful. I really am. No. I don’t work in healthcare, but I work with healthcare companies. And my work is never ending. Especially at this time of year. 

I so don’t want to complain. But today, enough is enough. 

I find I am easily annoyed at things I can normally brush off. I find anger bubbling when there’s no need. I find I need to slow my thoughts to find the true reason for my outbursts. I find I’m probably not the easiest to live with in these uncertain times.

I want to be kinder. I want to be patient. I want to hold close those I’m close to. And I find it’s a choice. I must search deep within to learn the reason I am so on edge. The findings aren’t comfortable, but growth never is. And I realize that comfort isn’t a necessity of life. But oh. How I wish it was. And I’m learning that comfort may be a thing of the past. Can I live with that?

I know that my true comfort is in the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is with me in all my trials and troubles. He is with me when life doesn’t seem kind or fair. He is the great I Am. He is my protector and provider. He is with me always. Even to the ends of the earth.

The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. Psalms 121:8

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

Love One Another

God sent his Son in an act of love and sacrifice. His Son left heaven to become a baby born to a virgin teenage girl. She hadn’t known a man in the way that one must in order to conceive and give birth. His was an immaculate conception. He was a gift from a God who loved the world and offered eternal life through that swaddled babe.

Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace.

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:27-31

Jesus ate with Zacchaeus, a local tax collector. Zacchaeus had a history of overcharging his neighbors and townspeople for their taxes. He kept the overages and became wealthy. He was hated by the community. But Jesus came along one day and invited himself to have dinner with Zacchaeus. The town was in an uproar. How dare he eat with such a sinner. Didn’t he know how Zacchaeus had treated these people? Why would he stoop so low for such a man? Yet Jesus loved him the same as he loved anyone else. When Zacchaeus repented and returned the money to the rightful owners, he walked away a forgiven man.

Another time, Jesus and his disciples were on a journey and had been walking all morning. They were tired. Jesus sat down to rest at the local well in Samaria. The disciples went into town to buy food. As Jesus rested, a local woman came to draw water. He struck up a conversation with her. Being God in human form, he knew everything about this woman. And he told her things about herself that no one else knew. And then he offered her living water. Water that would quench her eternal thirst. This woman, who was living a life of sin and shunned by her neighbors, was offered eternal life by the Messiah. She knew that Jews and Samaritans didn’t even speak to each other, but here was this Jewish man who offered her the gift she had always been searching for. She ran to tell anyone who would listen.

Truly He taught us to love one another.


So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34


The Christmas story is one of love and peace. But soon after his birth, this God babe was being hunted. I’m sure Joseph and Mary didn’t feel like they were surrounded by peace, because it wasn’t too long before they were running for their lives. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to get up and move his family. That very night, they left for Egypt.

Before Jesus began his ministry, he went to the wilderness to fast and pray. 40 days and 40 nights. Satan came along and tempted him three different times. Even though he was hungry and weak, Jesus resisted and commanded Satan to leave him. When Satan left, angels came to Jesus and took care of him.

During his ministry, Jesus taught love and peace. His love was self sacrificing. Jesus laid down his life for all people. His love provides peace to a hurting world.

This world doesn’t seem to be too loving or peaceful right now. Oh. People are looking for love and peace all right. But they’re looking in all the wrong places. Unkind words are being said and written. How can people even think such things, let alone say them. Selfishness and gluttony seem to be the theme of the day. Yet we look the other way, hoping our sins seem less offensive than the sins of those we are judging. Where is the love? Where is the peace? We wonder how the world has gotten to this point. It’s time we ask ourselves if we’re part of the problem or part of the solution.

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:8

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Behold Your King

This year has been both brutal and wonderful all at the same time. Poor combination of adjectives, you say? Yes, it’s been brutal. The entire world has struggled to make sense of a virus that has devastated so many lives in so many ways. And it still isn’t over. Is the end in sight? Only time will tell. Yes, this year has even been wonderful. God is working among us. He is here with us. In the midst of all this chaos, God is right here. He sees our hurts and our longings. He knows our dreams and our plans. God is a giver of life and hope. He gives good things and allows tests and trials to come upon us. But he is with us.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger.

Think about it. God knows our need before we mention it to him. He knows our need even if we don’t tell him. He knows our need even if we deny his existence. He knows our need. He always knows our need. God sees everyone who is struggling. And if there’s been a year to struggle, this is it. There’s no denying that.

God is no stranger to our weakness. He sees our hurts and flaws. He is so familiar with our struggles and our needs. He sees it all. He calls us to shelter under the wing of his strength and righteousness. We can boast in our weakness, so the power of Christ can work through us.

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Isaiah 40:29

This season is bittersweet for some. Previous disappointments and struggles are reminders of what we’ve lost. Unfulfilled dreams point the finger of failure. It seems that we spend so much of our time focusing on our fears, that we forget to look for hope.  Our strength is in the Lord. Let’s relax in that thought for a second.


Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” Isaiah 35:4


Oh. Anxious heart. Be not fearful, because he holds you in the palm of his hand. He leads the way when the path is bumpy and unpaved. He knows your name. He knew you before he formed you in your mother’s womb. In your darkest hour of need, our heavenly Father is right by your side. He paves the way when there is no way. He is the lover of your soul. So stand strong. Be courageous. Be willing to fight the enemy as he advances. Resist evil.

Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us! 2 Chronicles 32:7-8

Why do we tremble before the enemy of our soul? Why do we doubt the God we serve? Our God is mightier and stronger than the devil’s schemes. The enemy is out to bring us down with his disguise of self centeredness. Let’s not focus on ourselves. Let’s focus on the One who saves our souls. The One who gave his life for our sins. He is the Savior of the world. Let’s not be tricked by the enemy. The Lord is on our side. Oh. The enemy of our soul has an army fighting against us. But the lover of our soul fights for us. His truth will stand. We need only to be still. He will prevail.

The Weary World Rejoices

How does a weary world rejoice?

I know people who are weary. I think of the one caring for elderly family members in their own small home. I think of the one going through chemo. I think of the one who has a family member dying of cancer. I think of the one who lost their job earlier this year. They’ve moved on, but change is difficult. I think of the one who was unemployed for a few months and is afraid it might happen again.

I know people who are fearful to be with others. I think of the one who recovered from COVID. I think of families who have lost loved ones to the virus. I think of the frontline workers surrounded by this virus every single day. They’re weary. When will life be normal again?

I see the news. As disturbing and twisted as it is. Who do we believe? We hear elected officials giving orders to do one thing, yet they do the thing they say we shouldn’t. Who can we trust? Both presidential candidates say they won the election. We hear of voter fraud. Will we ever know the truth? We’re weary of all the back and forth of pointing fingers and placing blame.

Some believe that the police should be defunded. Others are holding tight to that blue line. Some fear for safety. Others want revenge. They’re weary of not being heard. They’re weary of being fearful in their own neighborhoods.

Where is our hope? How can we feel joyful at a time like this?

 I must say. This year has been much easier on me than it has on most others. The only change I saw was my commute to work. I’m now working from home indefinitely. But I am weary for the ones who are weary. I am weary of the world’s lament. I am weary from the loss of joy in what is a good life. I am weary thinking of an uncertain future.


Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. Isaiah 26:4


But then I remember the reason for the season. The weary world has a reason to rejoice.

I think of Mary, the unwed pregnant girl. She was given news that would make most women joyful. But in her day, that was unwelcome news. I’ve never been with a man. She told the angel standing before her. How can it be? But behold. The God who created the universe planted the seed who became the physical Son of God. The young Mary was to give birth to this God child.

Imagine Joseph. When he heard the news of his betrothed’s pregnancy, he didn’t take it well. He knew the child wasn’t his. How could he trust her? He would have to set aside the dream of marrying this girl bride. He was weary thinking of how to tell his family and friends. The village was small. News would travel. Fast. How could he put her away quietly?

But the angel in his dream shared God’s truth that this child was the Son of God. And Joseph chose to believe. He chose to believe. Oh. He would marry Mary and raise the child as his own. But he knew the truth and believed the angel’s message.

Oh. It was a huge belief. The people had waited for so long for the promised Messiah. And now he would be born in the worst of times. There was a census. Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem to be counted. Mary, huge with child, rode a long bumpy ride. Knowing she carried the Son of God, she endured. She was weary. They were weary when they arrived in Bethlehem. No room. They were told. Hugely pregnant and no room for comfort. Instead, they found space with the animals. And in the lowliest of places, the Son of God was born.

It was a starry night. The shepherds in the field saw the star and knew something amazing had occurred. The angel shared the message. Find the babe in the manager. And they did. The shepherds weary from a long day’s work found the baby just as they were told. And yet. They rejoiced. They knew they were in the presence of God wrapped in newborn skin. They worshipped.

So we can rejoice among our weariness. We can choose to believe the truth of God’s love and His gift of salvation. We can set aside the lies the world tells us. The lies that cause our hearts to be weary. We can rejoice. We can choose joy. We can worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Oh. Come let us adore Him. Christ the Lord.

Thanksgiving Isn’t Just for the Good Times

Is it hard to be thankful this year? Have things not gone well for you? Did you have your heart set on a certain type of year, and it never materialized? Did everything that could possibly go wrong go wrong? Did all the goals you set for this year crumble at your feet? Do you feel like life is worse than it’s ever been?

Have you stopped at any point this year and looked for the good moments? Have you paused long enough to count your blessings?  Have you looked past the ugly and seen beauty? Even for a moment? After all. The daffodils bloomed in the spring. The lilacs and peonies still offered their sweet fragrance. The leaves on the trees didn’t fail to do their job.  The apple trees and grapevines produced their bountiful harvest. The sweet corn tousled. The wheat was harvested in the fall. Life went on, not as usual, but it continued.

Our country isn’t at war. And yet it is.  We’re at war with ourselves.  And it’s the worst battle we’ve ever faced. We face an uncertain future like never before. We’re unprepared. Yet God is in control. God’s will is being accomplished.  For that we must be thankful. For if we aren’t thankful that God is working during the tough times, why would we expect him to work in the good times? Where is our trust?

This year, chickens have produced eggs and cows have provided milk. The sun rose each morning and set each evening. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served in most every home.  Every day. Life does go on.

Why does life have to be good in order for us to be joyful?


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:16-18


Some say that desperate times call for desperate measures.  How about we desperately seek God? How about desperately looking for things to be thankful for? How about desperately trying to please God? Above all else. 

Lest we think this year is wasted and useless, it is not.  It is far from that. Oh. It has been a trying year for many. But we have gained much from these daunting times. More time with our family. A slower pace of life. We’ve learned that there are storms we must sit back and wait out. We’ve learned there really are some things that are out of our control.  We’ve learned to just wait. We’ve realized the need for community is really a need. We’ve always taken it for granted. We’ve also taken for granted those who serve the sick and the poor, the needy and the lonely. Those workers are so needed and appreciated. Much more than they will ever know.

I thought 2020 would be the year I got everything I wanted. Now I know 2020 is the year I appreciate everything I have.

anonymous

We can learn to find joy in the smallest of things. Things we once took for granted. The chance to actually see someone smile without a mask. The fist bump from a friend.  The copier at work actually working. The neighbor stopping by to deliver chocolate chip cookies. The beautiful flowers sent by a dear friend. The unexpected nap on a rainy afternoon. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

It would be easy to focus on everything that went wrong this year. But if we just take a minute to search for what went right, our perspective on life will change. Oh. The future still seems uncertain. There are obstacles to recovery. But hope is on the horizon. Without hope, we might as well give up. But God is good, even when life isn’t. God is with us. In the midst of the trials and fears and uncertainty, God is true and certain. God is sovereign and powerful. He hates evil and loves good. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. For that we can be thankful. Let’s put our hope in him.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord ! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:17‭-‬19

Swaying Trees

We live in a neighborhood that backs up to a wooded area. It is breathtaking to gaze out at the trees in bloom in the springtime. And in the autumn, the colors of the turning leaves are a showstopper. Nature at its finest is my backyard.

The ground drops off to a ravine that ends in a small creek. To know that deer and fox and coyotes run loose in the space is thrilling, to say the least.

But it’s the trees that catch my attention on this day.

We’re having a windstorm and the slender trees are swaying in rhythm with the breeze. The beauty of the rhythmic swaying is almost tranquil, if I wasn’t aware of the damage one strong wind could cause.

In a wooded area, the older trees have much larger trunks than the young saplings. They’ve had the time and space and light to grow wide and tall. But the younger trees are a different story. They are thin and reedy. Wispy and willowy. They sway easily with the wind. They count on their roots to hold them steady.

The small trunked trees must grow tall in order to catch the sun’s rays. Their trunks don’t reach a fully mature size, due to the space and light restrictions. So when the windstorms come, these small trees sway with all they’ve got. It’s amazing and frightening at the same time to watch them bend with the wind. And yet, somehow at the end of the storm, they stand tall and strong. They’ve learned resilience. And strength. Their trunk may be small, but they bend as the force pushes.

But I’m wrong when I think that the wispy trees are strong and steady because of their roots. Just this morning, I noticed a casualty from the windstorm three days ago. One tiny but tall tree had been easily uprooted by the wind. The exposed roots told the story. They weren’t deep and broad. They weren’t made to withstand the strength of the wind. The tree was lying on its side among the leaves and branches fallen from another day’s wind.


Everyone who hears my teaching and applies it to his life can be compared to a wise man who built his house on an unshakeable foundation. Matthew 7:24


I work for a consulting firm that helps hospitals and other healthcare organizations prepare for and guard against disaster. Not just one kind of disaster, but many different types. Ransomware. Hacking. Phishing. Environmental. You get the idea.

This year has been a true test for our clients. It began with the pandemic. These clients had to pivot practically overnight to be able to provide care for patients infected with an unfamiliar virus. They sent some workers home to avoid exposure. They lost revenue due to canceled procedures and strategic plans gone awry. Now, just as they thought they were turning the corner, they’re facing another round of the virus.

And to top it all off, some hospitals have been hit with a disastrous ransomware attack. The bad actor, as it’s called, is unknown at this point. But it’s causing procedures to be canceled. Entire email systems have been shut down in order to avoid spreading the attack to other hospitals.

My job is to help make sure they are aware of these attacks and to fight against them. That means they should have a plan in place so they’re ready at a moment’s notice. We’ve advised clients to pull out that unused plan and dust it off. Put it into action to see if it really works. We’ve told them that now is the time to act. Don’t wait until disaster happens to start preparing.

You can’t wait until the storm comes to build a boat.

Tara Leigh Cobble

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. Matthew 7:24-27

I find that life is the same as the trees. We sway with the winds of change. We bend low when the momentum of the moment takes us beyond our comfort zone. We don’t know where to turn. We’re tossed on every side. And we’re unsure which is the right path. Confusion and doubt set in. We question everything that we once knew to be true.

But what have we done to prepare for the storm? Have we stored up supplies and built a reserve? Have we, through the years, held fast to our faith and followed God’s path? Have we dug into the Word and studied as though the final exam is tomorrow? How deep do our spiritual roots really go? Are we susceptible of being toppled, roots and all, from the least bit of tests and trials that blow our way? And then what? Do we still have faith to hold on?

Or. Have our roots grown deep and wide in the soil of faith? Have we built our spiritual house on rocks that won’t budge when the mightiest winds blow our way? Do we have a band of fellow warriors holding us accountable and praying for us? Do we hold onto the pylons of God’s goodness, knowing he is with us in every step of our battle?

Swaying is fine. It builds strength and perseverance. When the waves of doubt come, it’s time to dig deep to find truth. Hold onto hope. Giving voice to those doubts and looking for answers are stepping stones to building a strong faith. Don’t give up. Give in to God’s goodness and love and ride out the storm in his arms.

After we moved into our house, the city planted a tree in the green space between the sidewalk and the street. The previous tree had died, and the city replaced it. Free of charge. Oh. We didn’t get our choice of trees. It was a freebie, after all. And the next year, a city worker came by and added a stake to stabilize and straighten the small, crooked tree. This poor tree needed help as it was growing. It had begun to lean to one side and needed support in its formative years. The stake is still in place, and the tree is still leaning. But it’s growing. Perhaps, the leaning will be its signature story of its survival.

The neighbors have a tree that is leaning precariously toward another neighbor’s house. It was hit with an onslaught of wind last week, and I’m afraid one more strong burst of wind will topple it. I don’t think there’s a chance of recovery. I’m afraid it will soon be turned into mulch. While the tree looked strong and healthy, one windstorm has shown the true story of this tree’s struggle for survival.

Trees face an uncertain future if they haven’t grown firm, strong roots. Even then, the winds and storms can destroy them in one fell swoop.

If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? If a person is struggling and holds in all their doubt, does it mean their pain isn’t real?

It’s in these struggling moments that we need to be prepared. We can’t wait until the storms of life are upon us to start preparing. We must act now. It’s never to late to strengthen our faith. Let’s dust off that Bible. Let’s fall on our knees and pray. Let’s attend church and fellowship with other believers. Let’s ask those questions of doubt and seek answers until we find the truth.

A house built on sand will not stand. But a house built on rock will stand strong. What is your house built on?

Goodness Gracious

I don’t like to wait. I don’t like to be inconvenienced. I don’t like to be forgotten. I don’t like being lied to. I don’t like being cheated. I guess that I’m saying I’m selfish. I don’t want to be selfish,  but I like things my way. 

So, when I was standing in line at the grocery checkout, I had to decide. Would I show my annoyance or would I show grace. After all.  The person in front of me was trying to use a special coupon that the cashier couldn’t scan. Someone with more authority had to scan it, and they were struggling with getting the job done. I was silently sharing in that struggle.  And all I wanted to do was sigh loudly and glare. But I didn’t. I avoided eye contact and sighed inwardly. I berated myself for having such a poor attitude.

 So when the cashier thanked me for waiting, what was I supposed to say? No problem? But I was feeling like it was a problem.  And why? Where was I going that I was in such a hurry? My mask was hot, which makes me grumpy. I was hungry, and that makes me grumpy. What is my problem?

You each have the ability to let the words restore, inspire, soothe and build bridges instead of wound, separate or belittle. Let us pause before we speak, listen before we judge and stay curious, even when it hurts.

Darling Media

I admit it. I’m struggling. Just when I think I’m doing ok with all that has happened this year, something new comes along and sweeps me off my feet. And not in a good way.


The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalms 103:8


In case you aren’t aware, there was recently a presidential election. There was a winner and there was a loser. Some say there was a definite winner and let’s move on. Others are challenging the results due to voter fraud and demand legal action. Someone has to be the winner and someone has to be the loser. In a race of two, that’s how the ball rolls. At this point, it seems both parties are losers.

Oh. I wasn’t a political candidate. I never will be. I’m not an athlete. I never will be. I’m not big on open competition. It just isn’t in my blood. But I do love to win. I admit it. I will be a fair weather fan if my favorite sports team is losing their game. If they can’t show up to play, I can’t show up to cheer them on. Call me a bad person. I’m not. But I don’t like it when things don’t go my way. Just being honest.

I’ve found that both the winner and the loser have a role to play once the results have been determined. The winner needs to win graciously. And the loser needs to lose graciously. Neither role is easy. One wants to gloat. Maybe it’s payback. Or pride. Or greed. Or finally my day has come. The other wants revenge. Or a second chance. An opportunity to prove the other wrong. Maybe it’s pride. Maybe they’re just a sore loser.

The telling is in how the winner and loser respond to the results. How does the winner win graciously? And how does the loser lose graciously?

It’s easy to spot idolatry in another. It’s very hard to be humble enough to see your own.

Mary DeMuth

I find I’m aging. I can tell it in the way my skin wrinkles. I can see it in the lines and creases in places that once were smooth. I know that if I can see it, others can too. But that’s the way life is. I can ignore it, but it won’t go away. I can pretend I look as youthful as I did 50 years ago. But it just isn’t the case.

I find grace is needed when it comes to aging. An acceptance of the way things were and the way things are and the way things will be. It’s not that things are ok. It’s just how it is. But I also find that there’s still time to make a difference. Gracefully, of course.

I find that when someone disagrees with me, I must be graceful in how I respond. Can I see their point of view, or is it my way or the highway? Can I accept their position in a kind, agreeable way? Can I respond in gentleness and fairness? Can I willingly hear what they’re saying and not judge?

Grace is a lesson to be learned. I find it’s a trial and error process. Oh. Being ungracious can be intentional. But so can being gracious.

We sat at lunch watching the young waiter. He didn’t seem to understand the idea of multitasking. He was able to complete only one task at a time. And it slowed down the entire lunch for the multiple tables he was serving. I heard him apologize more than once.

He seemed to be a nice young man. He was trying to do a good job. He was pleasant and kind. He was attentive when you had his attention. The trouble was that his attention was divided. I knew my patience had already been tested at the grocery store, so I decided I needed to take a deep breath and hold my tongue. Was it really that hard to do?

I don’t know what he is dealing with in his life. Maybe he’s trying to balance his school and work schedule. Perhaps he was struggling with wearing a mask all day while doing his job. Perhaps he has an upcoming midterm that he isn’t quite ready for. Or maybe he was assigned too many tables and just couldn’t manage his time well. There could be a multitude of reasons why he was struggling. Why not just give him a break?

I pray for God to envelop me with peace. I ask for his grace to overwhelm me as I consider the forgiveness I have received.  Now I must offer that same grace to the person who may challenge me. Or to the neighbor who stands opposed to my beliefs.

What are my intentions? What do I want to accomplish in the exchange? Am I willing to sever a friendship or a family relationship for many years to come just because I think I’m right? Is holding a grudge more important than gentle concern and kind humility? Is saying those harsh calculated words more important than my relationship with God? Am I willing to say those derogatory words in front of God? Because if I say them, then I’ve said them in front of God. 

Let’s be humble and kind, even when we don’t want to be. There are no regrets in that.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.