Category Archives: Encouragement

The weighty things <3

It is my experience in my journey of faith that God always gives back way more than I think I am giving Him.

Sign up to go help people halfway around the world who have so little and find out how poor your land of plenty really is…and how much you can learn from people who have nothing and give everything.

Volunteer and give up a week of your summer to serve in Vacation Bible School so the neighborhood kids can learn about Jesus and as you sit and listen to the teachings, you find truth nuggets for your child-size brain.

Load up your car with stuff you had trouble parting with and find  yourself knocked to your knees by the sweet lady with scars on her face who helps you unload it all and thanks you so much and do you want a receipt for taxes…no thank you…this one is going unrecorded.

So last night we drug ourselves off the couch and out from under blankets to answer the call for prayer from our pastors and leaders. 

We drove on slick roads and navigated the parking lot, cautioning each other to be careful because we have heard the horror stories of people who weren’t and we don’t want to add that to our deductible this winter.

And as we approached the doors of the prayer meeting, we were told to select a rock from a basket.

I did what I always cringe doing…I made a quip about it…perhaps involving a reference to stoning people…and found out that I was one of many who had said the same thing. 

Dang I hate being a cliche sometimes.

Anywho…back to the prayer meeting…

We found some seats and gathered with others who just can’t resist when they open the doors of our church for any kind of service…and the prayers and praise commenced.

And God showed up.

Just like He always does when two or more gather.

It was old school church with a guitar and one person leading songs and I kind of loved it. 

We were led through various prayers, and for whatever reason I never put my rock down. 

I held it all the way through the whole event. 

To be honest, it felt comfortable in my hand and I often found myself just holding it to my heart. 

I guess since our sermon that morning had referenced 1 Samuel 7: 10-12, I was still associating the “Ebenezer…thus far” reference. 

But then one of our leaders took her turn in the service. Turns out the rocks were meant to remind us not of how far God has brought us, but how much we weigh our own selves down at times.

She talked about sin. 

Our sin and the sins of others against us. 

The weight of them.

Oh, I get it about my sin.

I carry it like a chain at times. 

And not like a martyr.


Like a woman who has underestimated the power of her God and overestimated the stain of her sin.

But as she led us through the prayer exercise, and she talked about the weight of the sins we have had against us…the hurt and the pain…and the way it has distorted us…hardened us…wounded us…that rock in my hand started getting pretty heavy. 

I thought back over the previous portions of the service and how at times I had held it to my heart as I participated in worship.

I remembered how I had to hold on to it with one hand which only allowed me the freedom to raise the empty one in a kind of affirmation. It had limited me from full on, both hands and arms raised in surrender praise. 

As she reminded us to forgive as Christ has forgiven us, I had to recognize that while I have forgiven the ones who this tangible weight in my hand represented…I still carry the pain of it because, in truth, I don’t know what to do with it. 

It has changed and colored both our past, our present and our future. 

I don’t know what to do with the memories that now look different because of other’s choices. 

It has stolen my joy many times and it has clouded and crowded out my joy for others who are experiencing what I would love to have.

It permeates so much more than I could have imagined and even as life goes on, I am left at times grappling to just stay afloat amidst the changes brought on by a fallen world and my own fallen nature that continues to rise up unbidden, even as I know and believe and declare that in Christ I am a new creation.

As we finished the exercise, we were given instruction to ask God to forgive us the weight of our sin and to ask Him for His help and assistance to forgive…let go…release…the pain and hurt of the sins against us. 

The service had come to an end and we were invited to share in one more song of worship and praise. 

We were invited to sit or stand.

Whatever posture seemed to express our heart to God for what He had done and our hope for what He will yet do.

In the fellowship of believers, sitting there with people I have known and shared so much of this faith journey with for so many years, I stood…still hanging on to that rock that fit so comfortably in my fist. 

And as we sang, I realized that somewhere along the way the pain has become such a part of me that I just assumed I had to hold on to it. 

I set the rock down on the pew and raised both my arms. 

I will have a choice to make in the days ahead when a photograph or a comment from someone triggers the feel of the weight of it once again, for most assuredly that temptation will always be there. 

I will have to choose if I will draw it close to my chest and hold on to it or lay it down. 

I pray I will remember His faithfulness.

The stone I laid down will be a reminder of the Rock I lean on. 

That all stones…all sins…those against me and those I have made against others… are laid down at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ…

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shem, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”   1 Samuel 7:12  <3

One in a trabillionzillion <3

I was trying to think what to send you and I keep pushing away this little story, but it persists in rising to the top and so I am going to share it. 

Do you ever have things happen that are just so sweet and tender that you almost want to hide them away in your heart? I do.

I never want to betray the sacred ground of our family life for a story and yet God seems to give me such moments to share with you – maybe something you can relate to…maybe He has a word of encouragement for you…maybe just to make you smile and think on good things in a world that is becoming increasingly hard and divided. 

So here is my little gift to you today from my heart.

A couple of months ago when I was spending the day with our crew, Graham took a super close zoom in on my face and very sweetly pointed out that I had something on one of my front teeth. 

I asked him if he was seeing a little divot near the bottom edge of the tooth and yes, that was it. 

I told him I have always had that. Some dentist along the way told me my permanent tooth had been delayed coming in and that caused this kind of chipped spot.

 I don’t know if he was correct in that diagnosis, but over the years various other dentists have offered to fill it in if I would like but I told them no. 

Graham seemed fascinated that I would pass on having this little mar fixed. 

I can understand why he would be surprised since I can’t bear having a spot on my clothes or a mascara smear at the corner of my eye and can waste a huge amount of time stressing over a chunk of hair that is stubbornly refusing to join ranks with the rest of my head. 

As he looked at me like I had suddenly grown a third eye in addition to my chipped tooth, I explained to him how I kind of love that little blemish for some reason.

 It is like a familiar friend to me and I always felt like it gave my ordinary features something special and unique. It was how God made my tooth and I actually love my little chip.

I totally forgot about the conversation and for story purposes, you need to as well….

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and another day with the band of brothers and Little Miss Thing. 

We were driving in the van and from the far recesses of the back, Graham asked me if I ever noticed he has a bald spot. 

Well, I did know that he has a tiny place on the side of his head near his temple where hair just never has grown. I noticed it first a few years ago and had asked Rachel if he or another Kindergartner had taken a scissor to it because he seemed self conscious about making sure it was covered. She told me he had always had it and yes, he was embarrassed when people noticed and commented.

So with this memory popping up, I immediately began to downplay any recollection of having noticed this on his precious head. 

Instantly he stopped me in my tracks. 

Oh no Lola!!! I do have a spot…it’s like the chip in your tooth. God made me that way. It makes me special and unique.

Even as I tell you this, I have a big lump in my throat and tears brimming thinking of the joy in his voice as he shared my own words right back to me. 

I took a peek in the rearview mirror at his beaming face as I asked him…Graham! Have you come to love your little bald spot the way I love my tooth? 

Nodding enthusiastically he replied with a happy….. Yes

Oh my word…such a moment. 

There are so many things about myself I wish were not so. 

Not just physical things, but ways I am wired and driven. 

And yes, God is in the business of transforming me more and more into the image of Christ. 

But how fun when He helps me see that some of my flaws and shortcomings (not my sins…just my human “stuff”)  are just the ways He has made me unique and different from everyone else so that we can all come together and add our flavor to the Body of Christ <3 

What’s your little imperfection or quirk that God has shown you makes you unique and uses to encourage all the other works-in-progress who share the journey each day?

Can we learn to love how we were fashioned because we love the One who made us this way? I hope so. 

You are unique and one of a kind beautiful and you are loved <3

Taking a look at the “one word” thing…

So the thing the last few years that has kind of been added to the mix of goal-setting and resolutions appears to involve having a focus word.

You may have noticed that I have a tendency to use more words than necessary as part of my modus operandi. 

As Russ likes to point out, why use ten words when you can use a hundred…yes, that would be me. 

And if a picture paints a thousand words, then by all means…use both. 

Settling on one word seemed impossible until last year when I took the quiz and discovered the word “simplify” and it was like an epiphany moment.

And it probably wasn’t until well after the actual  Epiphany date on the liturgical calendar that I arrived at my word for the year, because besides being extremely verbal I am also rather slow to make decisions.

I wasn’t sure I would stick with the word very long since I tend to get bored and forgetful. 

But it would keep cropping up in unusual ways and I found myself pinpointing areas of my life I overcomplicate. 

I may touch on this more at some point…we shall see…

but since I did sharpen my ability to eliminate stress at certain points by not dwelling on EVERY SINGLE TINY DETAIL all. the. time….

I am skipping that for today and introducing you to a fun new perspective introduced to me by my friend Shelly D. Templin. 

Here is the link to her post about how she turned the one word idea in a new direction for 2019.

I am giving it a whirl…tune in tomorrow…but for now enjoy her clever way with words <3

Friday thoughts <3

Good morning to you and Happy Friday!

Yesterday I spent some much needed time going through several stacks of notes and paper around and on the desk Russ and I share. He got his stacks cleared this week and it inspired me to finish this dreaded task. 

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have the brain I have because ideas come to me at all times except when I am actually sitting in front of the computer, so I jot them down on any available piece of paper and then stash them in the office. 

There are times I can’t even read what I wrote…or piece together why I thought it was a good idea. 

But other phrases are gems to be mined on mornings like this, when I pray and ask God for a good word to share with you and He whispers … how about that one?

So today I bring you the phrase our dear realtor planted on me two years ago when we were scrambling to get our house on the market ASAP because, lo and behold, we had just finalized the purchase of a new one scheduled a few days before Christmas.  

We have owned two homes before so we didn’t need to go travel through that desert again.

I assured God we had learned all that could be taught the first go round, so I began to launch into high gear as we packed up boxes and parted with treasures like all the construction paper projects for elementary grades 1 – 6 times 3…yes…I am that mom. 

The agent we were working with happens to also be a good friend and so she looked at my sentimental self and our house that reflects all people loved by us and she sagely gave me this truth…

They’re not buying the HOME. They are buying the house. They are not buying your bathroom rugs or your stuff on the fridge. All these things are what make your house your home, but they are not looking for your home. They are looking for a house to make into their home. 

I could go so many directions with that this morning, but I am going to share just one thought and then leave that truth to speak to you as God would lead your understanding. 

I wrote down in my notes my own take for the season we were walking through and it was this. 

Sometimes my imperfections are ok for me, but not to show everyone. 

It is not false to withhold displaying all that is in my heart to strangers passing through. 

I am wired to be an open book. 

What I am thinking, feeling, going through is transparent to everyone from my closest confidants to the check out girl at Kroger. 

But not everyone is looking for my heart. Nor looking out for my heart. 

And it is ok to guard our hearts. 

Be safe with who you are today.

You…yes you…

with the refrigerator door full of hand drawn pictures and some old wedding invitations from summer….

you with the tears hovering a bit too close to spilling over and…

you who struggles to fight back inappropriate laughter in awkward situations…

or any other of the wildly unique and quirky ways that God has made YOU….

you are precious and loved and of great value to Him who gave His life for you <3 

The hostess with the mostest… right down to clean up detail <3

As promised yesterday, I am sharing a suggestion from the first chapter of the book Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp. **

I actually marked the passage and then wrote “Genius!” out to the side. 

But let me forewarn all who venture here to journey with me on a daily basis. 

Some of you can totally relate to me and the way I am wired and some of you can at least hopefully glean some insight into your family and friends who drive you crazy. 

So as I share this EUREEKA!! moment of enlightenment today, I am picturing a few of my dear friends who struggle not at all with indecisiveness and hesitancy to complete tasks.

I can imagine you shaking your head and possibly dismissing this as nonsense….but for those who are like me and for those who are not…this is useful because people like me are not being difficult or stubborn…we just lack direction in how to direct others….let alone ourselves…

In the opening pages of the this book, Kathi writes about the scenario that invariably occurs in a kitchen when friends and family gather for holiday meals. 

I would add that this will apply to ANYTIME you have opened your home for entertaining guests throughout the year. 

She writes on page 17:

“Every year we have people over for our celebration, and the most common question is, ‘How can I help?’…In the heat of the moment…I’m almost always at a loss for how to direct people on how to assist.”*


I so understand this. 

When I prepare a meal for guests, you will find stashed in a drawer a stack of the recipes, a timetable for preparation, oven settings, additions to be made to each dish and the time frame to make it happen and what to pull out of the fridge five minutes before they will arrive. 

But when the meal is over and one to nine women are gathered in the kitchen with me amidst stacks of dirty dishes and food that must be stored away, I become overwhelmed. 

Russ attempts to gently remind me before guests arrive that they will want to help clean up and to be nice when that happens…he truly is my better half. 

When I read Kathi’s words, I felt understood. 

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the help, it’s just that I find my head spinning as I am being asked a variety of questions and decision making is something that takes me quite some time to commit to…and if you don’t believe me, simply pull out that drawer I mentioned and look through all the recipes I weeded out…the adjustments to the schedule I made to tweak my timing…etc…etc….

So what is the solution to my dilemma? 

Kathi suggests pre-planning for those who will want to help. 

Take all that hyper-planning gift a step further so that I am prepared for the inevitable.

For me, this would mean having containers already in place for the leftovers, and Lord help me, room in the fridge for them to stash it! It involves knowing in advance what can go in dishwasher and what will need hand-washing and helping the helpers help.

It’s not cheating to have a list of ways people could help me with clean up so that I am not left offending my sweet friends and family because I can’t process all the questions and end up alienating the people I worked so hard to make at home in our house.

I am looking forward to applying this knowledge, not only for the holidays but for our get-togethers throughout the coming year. 

Such a simple concept, Kathi ends the chapter with the truth that a little planning in advance for how others can help will bring much relief to the hostess, her guests and her poor husband who loves her in spite of herself. 

Be blessed <3

If you are interested…here are the resources and information for the book <3

* Get Yourself Organized for Christmas, Kathi Lipp; Harvest House Publishers, 2015, p 17

**Information on how to order book: