Category Archives: Encouragement

Celebrating well…while we wait <3

Last night I was able to attend a beautiful event sponsored by the women’s ministry at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. 

You all know I am a “decorate for Christmas after Thanksgiving” kind of girl, but oh… it gave me the fever for all things yuletide. 

Picture a room filled with tables all decorated creatively and lovingly with real life Pinterest holiday perfection and then gathering in the stillness of the sanctuary as a narrator walked us through the Advent wreath amidst the backdrop of a set right out of the best illustrated O Little Town of Bethlehem scene possible. 

We were asked to suspend the reality of being a group of women who had silenced our cell phones and all of our twenty-first century thoughts and were invited to pretend we were villagers hearing the joyous story of a young girl who had taken an extra cloak to her shepherd brother on a chilly evening that turned out to be the night that changed not only her, but everything. 


Oh, I hope I have transported you to the experience well enough for you to at least get a feel for not just me sharing an event I got to attend, but also I hope you are picking up on the tension we live in as we approach the Christmas holidays. 

We will be packing a lot of extras into already full schedules, just like we do every year at this time. 

We will face the urge to compare our preparations: not only with what we see, and or perceive (big difference) about how others are doing it all, but also our own reality versus what we hoped it would look like. 

We will be inundated with enticing visuals on television and social media.

Holiday eye candy… as one of my dear friends calls all the shiny glitter that can make us giddy with anticipation and leave us empty with disappointment. 

We will try to balance this with the “reason for the season” and perhaps wear ourselves ragged making sure we attempt to juggle the fun of Santa with the importance of the Nativity…and all this to say…

I am checking out a new book to help me get this over thinking mind of mine into a more disciplined state before I drag out those tubs of decorations and launch into Christmas 2018.

So far it has proven to be a sane voice and I hope to share some tidbits gleaned.

One of the things mentioned during the gathering last night was how the women of the village loved and cared and watched out for each other. 

This holiday season, let’s do that … men and women…let’s not fill up our lives and calendars with so much of our own celebration that we neglect to care well for those around us who are struggling. 

Let’s be intentional to leave room for interruptions and the unexpected and uninvited. 

We are not watching for the Messiah to come…we are celebrating the time He came. 

We are watching for His return. 

Let’s watch out for each other as we wait <3

Held <3

I just wrapped up the Psalm 34 study  this morning. 

No coincidence God would teach me the lesson in real time before I listened to the last video. You can check it out here:

Psalm 34:22 reads: 

The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned. NASB

The video that accompanied this passage was a reminder that while we are saved into eternal life upon receiving Christ, we are also saved over and over through the rest of our days as God works on our souls. 

Our soul…the headquarters of our mind, will and emotions.

He is in the long term business of redeeming us from our natural tendencies until He comes back for us once and for all time. 

This is good news for one like me. 

Because; as all the rest of humanity does, I struggle with a soul that is in the process of redemption. 

It is called sanctification and it is, at times, a bloody skirmish as the flesh that still clings to entrenched places in my heart wars against the regenerated spirit that longs to mirror Christ. 

I get my feelings hurt. 

I feel rejected. 

I feel misunderstood or taken advantage or out of favor with those who matter to me. 

And I respond in a way that does not line up with the truth that it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me. 

In these moments, the turmoil within me opens wide the door to all the lowest parts of my nature.

The resulting fallout can leave me assured I am the biggest failure and disappointment to God and humanity….yet again. For one who can dwell in self-condemnation as a comfortable cave…this is not good. 

But I look at the verse today and reflect on recent soul battles, and I see God’s redemptive truth calling out to me. 

I am a servant of the Lord…even when I fall short.

My heart and my life are committed to serving Him. 

He redeems my soul from the challenges I face at times to surrender my will, emotions, feelings and mindsets.

I take refuge in Him by lifting hot tears and cries for help, holding out the opposing forces fighting inside my heart and thoughts up to Him and pleading for His help.

Sitting still and letting Him love me just as I am, I face the voices of condemnation that would sentence me to accept the verdict of impossibility that I will ever change…

and in the shadow of His wings…

this daughter of the King…

is held and loved and is a little more transformed into the image of Him who died for me <3

Sometimes it doesn’t add up <3

Hey ho and happy Monday to you! 

I am chuckling because I just noticed I have my posts for this month saved on a document I have entitled “Novermber 2018” and for some reason it makes me hyperventilate less to have a made up month added to the year so I am keeping it. 

Maybe we could just add an extra time between October and November to catch our breath and finish off the leftover miniature candy bars, rake the leaves and get the yard furniture off the patio and slow down the transition into winding down the year. 

Why not?

It would seem pretty much anything is up for grabs these days and it seems we increasingly encounter things that cause us to pause and wonder what in the world is going on. 

Last week Rachel sent a text with a math assignment for Graham where two problems were marked incorrect. 

He had added two numbers together correctly but both equations had a red X marked through them. 

Granted the directions asked him to first separate the numbers out so that he would first come up with a combination that equaled 10 and then add the remaining numbers. 

To which Rachel and I both ask…why?

Because if the point is for the child to be able to add and come up with the correct answer, why jump through unnecessary hoops to get there?

I have heard parents and teachers vent about common core math over the years but now the problem (no pun intended, honest) has landed squarely in our laps. 

I remember when John was in grade school and would do his math assignments without showing the work. His wise teacher told me her solution was to ask him to do a couple in front of her. 

Like his Great Grandpa Lochner, whom he never even got to meet, John had the uncanny ability to do complicated math in his head. Once he proved himself, she was fine with how he did it. 

The point was that he could do the math, not spend hours doing extra work. 

Once that skill was mastered we could move on. 

I am sure there is a good reason why this method is being used and required and Graham and his parents and his grandparents are going to respect the requirements and jump through the hoops and for sure attempt to bite our tongues…not counting this blog post, of course…I will bite my tongue after this, I promise. 

I realize there may be a teacher or two who would love to set me straight on the value of Common Core Math, but I am just sharing the heart of a Lola who has to watch her daughter try to explain to her grandson why he can’t just solve the math equation for math class…he has to do it in a way that is confusing and more difficult for him. 

My heart goes out to young parents as the options for learning and the methods are as varied as ways you can add 12 + 6.

So much confusion. So much noise. So much division. So much strife. 

Yet this morning I flipped my little desk calendar to NoVERMber 12th and I read this unchanging, solid word of truth….

Try hard to live right and to have faith, love and peace, together with those who trust in the Lord with pure hearts. 2 Timothy 2:22 NCV

I love what is packed in that truth right there…

Living right and having faith …having love and peace…won’t be easy. 

There are things that are going to make it difficult…but you…who trust in the Lord with a pure, undivided, clean-before-Him heart…you keep trying. 

Put forth the effort every day…no matter how much you want to quit…keep doing the thing….day after day…in fellowship with the Body of Christ <3 

It’s about time <3

Good morning to you

I am looking out on a dusting of snow and gathering my thoughts to get pulled together for work and thinking of how brief our time of fall leaves and crisp weather seemed this year. 

You all know I pray and ask God what I should share and then I start typing. Some day I hope to be a real grown up and actually have a plan, but for now…this is what you get. 

Seriously, I have typed four different emails and deleted every one. 

So I am writing a simple thought that is on my heart because that’s what I feel like someone may need today. 

I am behind on so many things right now – emails (968 and counting), text threads, pictures saved to phone, paperwork and notebooks full of ideas to write with no time to write, projects in stacks to finish and start and even though I am determined to not over do, over spend or over think the holidays…I will. 

My mind is running at a record high of thoughts per minute and the hyper organized side of my brain is longing for large pieces of white paper where I can map things out and set priorities and then have time to execute all my great plans. 

But, story of my life, having “enough” time eludes me yet again as we hurtle into a weekend that is rapidly filling up with places we know we are meant to be to show love to the people God has gifted us with on the journey. 

So I am digging back through my journal to the day I read in John 7 about time. 

Ironically, it was the morning of October 31st <3

In reading this chapter I counted … seven…yes…SEVEN….references to time:

Jesus was responding to the taunting of his brothers, who at that point in HIs ministry, did not believe. 

They were urging Him to prove He was who He said and go do big things in Jerusalem. 

His response was to tell them that those who insist on their own schedule and agenda do so to bring honor to themselves. In contrast, He was working to honor God and so He would only speak and act in accordance with God’s leading and guidance. 

And then throughout the rest of Chapter 7 we see these references to “time”

Verse 6 [Jesus said] “The right time has not yet come…for you, at any time is right.”

Verse 8 “for me the right time has not yet come”

Verse 14: Not until halfway through [the feast]…

Verse 30: because His time had not yet come

Verse 33: I am with you only a short time

Verse 37: On the last and greatest day [of the feast]

Verse 39: Up to that time

As I read and reflected on those passages, I thought how often I feel pressured to do, to act, to speak, to respond by some unknown force. In those moments, I can sense the vexation in my soul that I am working out of sync with God’s timing. 

I can contrast that with the times that are God’s timing and how I act, do, speak with a boldness and directness that is soooo not me. 

There is a peace that attends God’s timing. We may feel the rush of decisiveness and surprise ourselves and those who know us with our choice of timing, but if we will lean into God and trust Him to lead us…it will always be the right time for whatever we are led to do. 

And, as always, for those times we are off…there is grace. 

Grace for us…grace for those we think we messed up by our hasty movement or words…grace … abundant grace <3

I pray we all would walk wisely today, seeking His direction for our time here as we…

you know…

journey onward <3

My go-to phrase for days like today <3

When John was attending ORU, the President of the college during his four year tenure was a man named Mark Rutland. 

He led the weekly Chapel services most of the weeks and I found him funny and engaging and relevant to walking out faith in this upside down world. 

One of the phrases he would use was short but spoke volumes and has come in handy for me over the years. 

Whether expressing his own frustration with his personal road to sanctification or trying to figure out how to surrender when he didn’t understand or was misunderstood, he would say….”Thou knowest”

Drawing from the language of his King James roots, and a throw back to the archaic wordings that we may, in our text language day roll our eyes at…he would remind us that truth is as old as time and sometimes the simplest expressions shout across the eons.

Today is a “Thou knowest” day for me. 

As analysts and talking heads stand in front of maps of the states with splashes of blue and red and confusing charts with percentages and predictions adding more noise to the polarization of America….

Thou knowest

With a day marked by several appointments and tasks that need completing and unknowns lurking….

Thou knowest

With the options for how we will celebrate the upcoming holidays and with who and where looming on the calendar and daily additions are being inked in…

Thou knowest

With so many to pray for…so many to love well…and so little time…

Thou knowest

As I am running late and trying to gather loose ends and look like I don’t care and really I am trying to cover all the bases with excellence and dot all the i’s…

Thou knowest

So whatever your day holds…in all the ways you try so hard…in all the ways you just didn’t have it in you to even try at all today no matter how much you wanted to do your best…

Thou knowest 

Be blessed…you are loved…He knows your heart….He knows the outcome…He knowest it all