Category Archives: Refined by the Word

Lessons learned from the young <3

It is rainy and temperatures are forecasted to drop here all day. Every day is a new weather adventure here in the Midwest! 

Our two oldest grandsons play soccer on a set of fields in their hometown that are great as far as the fields go, but someone did not plan the parking lot well for crowded practice and game days. 

They double up on start and end times and the narrow and pitted gravel lanes extend quite a long distance with parking on either side of the entrance and exit paths. 

The way out of the complex means a loooooonnnnnngggggg wait to turn left and many cars trying to turn right as well and the gridlock struggle is real. 

Last Thursday evening, I picked up Graham from practice and was ready to get him to his home and then head home myself. 

We sat in the car for quite some time waiting for some kind soul to let us pull out into the line of cars making their way out of the parking lot. 

True to my Lochner genetics, I began verbalizing my frustration and talking to the other driver’s as if they could hear me. Finally, someone slowed and motioned for me to pull out. I waved my thank you numerous times and got in the procession. 

We were parked quite deep in the lot and so as we rolled along, we passed many other cars waiting to be freed from their parking place. However, I was so busy focusing on the tail lights ahead of me that I was missing seeing the ones who were fervently peering for an opening to pull out. 

I would be right on the front of a car before I saw the driver in place and their wheels slowly inching forward. 

As this happened repeatedly, I felt such conviction for my criticism of others who had seemed so uncaring. It’s possible I may have said several times during our waiting period how everyone was in such a hurry and couldn’t they help a sister out??? 

I said to Graham how I seemed to be the one now who was not leaving an opening for another car to pull out and from the back seat came the gentle reply…”Lola, you have to treat others the way you want to be treated.”


I realized that in order to let some other cars join the exit line, I would need to be proactive to not be so eager to escape the madness. I would have to intentionally move slowly so that I would be ready to stop and let someone out. I needed to think more of them and less of me. 

It is a good lesson, isn’t it? 

In all of life. 

It is so easy to see when we are being wronged and so difficult to notice the plight of others once we are delivered. 

To remember how it felt to be in certain circumstances and to treat others how we would have wanted to be treated. 

As a bonus lesson, Graham hears that a lot from his parents. He may not always live it at age 8 (goodness knows his Lola is still learning the lesson in her 60’s) but they are sowing seeds of truth and those seeds are taking root.

 Our words and our actions matter. We all have a sphere of influence…sow truth into your sphere.

Living free of unforgiveness <3

Last night it was so warm and still in the house that I turned the air on for a bit…this morning I switched to the furnace…oh my…tis the season!

This morning I read a section in a book of prayers for your grandchildren about forgiveness. Prayers for them to forgive quickly and sincerely. 

With all prayers of intercession for anyone, the pray-er must always bring him or herself under the same prayer.

As I read about the importance for all of us to truly, deeply and sincerely forgive; I felt my own convictions.

One of the Scriptures was Matthew 5:44-45:

I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. 

Matthew 5:44-45 NKJV

This is a teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One I say I follow. 

If He is my Leader, then this is my example. 

So I have to stop this morning and step back from the culture I live in and the voices inside me and around me that speak a different teaching and really examine my heart. 

Do I love my enemies?

Do I bless others when they curse me?

Do I do good to those who hate me?

Do I pray for those who have spitefully used me and those who have betrayed and/or persecuted me?

And by “me” I can tell you that anyone who has done any of the above to any of my people…may as well have done it to me; and better for them if they had done it to me instead of one of them. 

So no. 

I don’t measure up well. 

I carry grudges and ill-will wishes for others who have done any and all of the above to me or to those I love. 

So I have to acknowledge that in this teaching, I have missed the mark.

I have sinned. 

And in my failing, I fall on grace. 

In my confession, I find forgiveness extended to me and thus, I am empowered and equipped to live counter culture and I choose to forgive. 

He gives me grace to extend grace. 

What an incredible gift He has given to us, His children.

Be blessed today….Let us ask God to call to mind those against whom we still hold a grudge. 

Yet again, we can lift up our battered and hardened hearts and ask Him to soften them and shape them even more today into the image of the One who forgave us all.

He is able, even when we are not <3

Wednesday check in <3

I didn’t show up here yesterday because I had an aggressive to do list and a lot of that Fall energy and adrenaline I spoke about on Monday. 

I managed to stay on task for two solid days and I am hoping to have a three-peat today. 

I’m telling you…Fall is my season. 

When Russ got home I made him walk around the house so I could show him all the things I accomplished…it’s like living with a kindergartner…bless him <3

I have so many thoughts bubbling around in my head so today I am just sharing a couple of them and then we can move on with our day <3

October is the anniversary month for starting this blog. In the summer of 2013 I attended a writer’s conference even though the only writing I did was in spiral notebooks like you buy at the start of the school year (wide rule please, to accommodate my messy handwriting.) I also sent out a newsletter to about a hundred people and had the audacity to schedule a meeting with a publisher who was so very kind, she looked at my material and smiled sweetly and said the most amazing thing. A hundred people is a good-sized church, you know. I have kept that in my heart. One person encouraged on a given day is enough in the Kingdom. One weary saint who feels understood. One person who doesn’t feel alone that can be reached through this…it’s amazing. 

I am getting so much out of the Kelly Minter study “Finding God Faithful” and one of the aha moments from this week came from a new look at 1 Peter 1:3-9. Looking at this passage through the lens of Joseph’s struggles and heartache when he was unjustly imprisoned gave me a new perspective. 

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 3:7 NIV

It occurred to me as I read these passages that I have misconstrued this in my life.

I thought my trials were a pass/fail and after I go through them, God will look at my faith and see if it was the real deal and either give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down and the whole thing probably developed early in me from a works-based type of religion that I refuse to blame anyone for. 

The process of learning about Jesus and what He did is a lifelong process…and yesterday some more scales fell off these blind eyes. 

I realized that the “faith” that is in me is the faith given as a grace gift from God when I received Christ as my Lord and Savior. 

When I go through trials and testings, that faith IS gold. That faith makes it through because it is indestructible. And when I get to the other side, I can clearly see that the faith in me is the real deal.

So every time I endure a trial or a testing, as I lean hard into God and seek Him in the midst of it. As I struggle with my old fleshy-selfish-idolatrous nature and with His help overcome it….that faith that was given to me comes through unharmed. 

And the result of it is – beautiful and pure worship and praise of God because that faith was a GIFT from Him!!!

Something I cannot attain when I am full of myself and my worth. 

Here is what I wrote in my study page:

I am seeing this verse from a new perspective. Is it that the faith given me can only be shown its true value and character in times of suffering and trial – stripped bare of all that I thought was blessing and favor? In the heat of loss, betrayal, doubt – the faith that comes as a gift of grace its shown for what it is: an underserved, unearned gift. And then I see with clear eyes how great our God is. And my worship of Him grows more pure and deeper because of my own sin and self burned away in the fire of trial. This is why I rejoice greatly in my trials.

I am forging ahead today with another Facebook live and sharing some other things gleaned from the study. If you do Facebook – check it out. If you don’t, carry on with your day blissfully free of all that is social media.

I pray today in whatever you are facing, you can begin to see that the faith that is in you IS pure gold…you are not being tested to fail.

You are being tested to be proven genuine. There is a world of difference <3

When we resist rest <3

I had a thought all ready, to end this week and then God scrapped it this morning and you can just stop and give Him a high-five because it was long and complicated and this one is just short and sweet. 

As you may know, most Tuesdays and Thursdays I get to go spend either a half or whole day with our four grandchildren while mom and dad are working.

Either way, I usually end up with the nap time routine.

Caroline never stops moving and talking from the moment she rolls out of bed in the morning, so she goes out pretty quickly.

Joel, however, is convinced he doesn’t need a nap but his behavior without one convinces us he does. 

We read a couple of stories and we turn out the light.

As he gathers his blankets and stuffed animals close, I tell him the longest, most boring story I can make up and then depending on how tired he is, he fights it or drops off to sleep. 

If you have ever spent two minutes with a preschooler it will come as no surprise that it is when he is MOST tired, that he fights sleep with the most wiggles and energy. 

Mildly tired Joel will gently drift off somewhere mid-story. 

Over tired Joel will use every last ounce of mental strength to force his body to remain in movement of some kind.

His feet keep inching to the edge of the bed, his droopy eyes are held open in a stubborn stare. His shoulders are tensely hunched and drawing tight as I rub his back, until finally I have to tell him he HAS to lay still. 

Perhaps because he is the third child, he doesn’t realize I have no power over him to actually stop him from wiggling and so eventually his still body no longer resists sleep and his breathing relaxes and he rests. 

I look at those lashes laying on chubby cheeks and watch his chest rise and fall so peacefully and wonder why he didn’t choose this path to begin with. 

I sense God often looks at me and wonders the same thing. 

Every invitation to encounter God through Christ involves a promise of peace and rest. 

Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden…weary….burdened…and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Let the peace of Christ rule in you hearts…you were called to peace…be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Cast your anxieties on to Him…he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Take my yoke upon you…learn from Me…for I am gentle and humble in heart…and you will find rest for your souls. 2 Corinthians 4:16

When we are resisting rest…when we are striving and pushing ourselves to the point of exhaustion…when we are tense and in constant motion…it is difficult to feel God’s love and peace and comfort and rest. 

Yes, we must work hard and put good effort into our tasks, but don’t forget to rest.

Everything that needs to be done will still be there after you are refreshed. 

Enjoy some rest this weekend. You and your loved ones will be so thankful if you do <3

What we call coincidence….<3

It is a beautiful sunny day here, and yet I am mindful that the southern states are experiencing horrendous flooding. A Texan friend of ours was headed to Beaumont LA and received pictures of streets that had become rivers and so turned around and headed home. It is devastating to think of what some are dealing with and our prayers are lifted for them. 

I started a study based on the life of Joseph by Kelly Minter this week and as God would plan it, the readings are overlapping the current readings for our all-church series. 

As I have gone through various portions of Genesis this week, I am once again alarmingly amazed at the dysfunction of humanity and the grace of God to not just throw us all in the scrap heap and start over. 

But He doesn’t. 

He works redemption in spite of and, curiously enough, through the flaws and failings of His creation.

Just this morning as I read the account of a young Joseph being dispatched out into the countryside to check on his shepherd brothers, I had a new discovery I had never noticed in these passages. 

Kelly suggested reading them with an eye that was looking out for how God was working in the story. 

Having preceded the study with a short devotional reading that pointed out how often we mistake God’s timing for “coincidence”, I read the passage with the intentional eye of God-sightings and here is what I jotted down from Genesis 37:12-18

* Joseph is wandering around in the middle of nowhere and a man, who happened to not only see his brothers when they were tending flocks in the area, but overheard them say where they were going next just happens to run into him. Kelly adds Jewish tradition holds that the “man” was an angel – but whether an angel or a man, it was incredibly helpful that he happened to be there for Joseph

* Reuben happened to be amongst the group when Joseph appeared in the distance and was able to thwart the “let’s just kill him” plan

* The cistern they threw him in was empty…so he didn’t drown

* The location and timing of the Midianites passing by in conjunction with where they happened to have settled to pasture, Joseph finding his brothers, Reuben interceding and then wandering off for a bit.

* The caravan was headed to Egypt, which is where Joseph would need to end up

I have read this story many times but I had never stopped to think about how God was orchestrating the whole thing. What seemed to be just one awful event on top of the next was being allowed under the direction and protection of a master plan. 

Could it be then, that what seems to be interruptions and dead ends and frustrations, the times we are misunderstood, side-lined, dismissed…that these too fall under the permissive will of our God who does all things well? 

I pray that I would increase in faith to believe that the things that seem so out of the blue disruptive to my plans are being carefully watched over by the Master of all plans. His ways are not my ways. They are higher than I could think to ask or imagine. 

Praise Him <3