Category Archives: Take Him at His Word

It is for freedom that we are set free <3

I am well aware of the stress and anxiety that is making itself available to us as July winds down and we check off another month of a year that has been fraught with chaos and unrest and ugly surprises. I have started this email so many times and I keep deleting it because you don’t need me to remind you of all that is presenting itself. My goal in sending these is to always offer you hope and truth and an opportunity to choose to live differently than the world. 

After numerous starts and rewrites, here is what is on my heart: 

One summer when Russ’s parents were definitely slowing down, but still living in their own home and maintaining independent living, his mom did something that was so out of her normal personality it kind of took me aback. She basically mandated a family reunion with as many of us as we could snag for a weekend. Our collective children, among Russ’s siblings, ranged from elementary to young marrieds. I have to say that at the time and even as I look back, I marveled that she was so adamant we do this. It was so unlike her and it was a bit of an inconvenience to all of us to make it happen and I couldn’t possibly be more thankful that she did. It is one of my most treasured memories of her. 

It was the last time outside of a nursing home setting or funeral home that we were all together. The memories made still make us laugh and smile. And I learned so much about the history of the area that Russ’s family settled in and called home that I am richer for it. 

One of the things she arranged for us to do was visit an old farm house out in the middle of nowhere, Iowa that was on the Underground Railroad. We traveled caravan fashion out through parts of the countryside  that had not been introduced to cell phone service nor paved roads. Our car was so thick with dust, I can still remember laughing with our sides held as Zach scooped layers off of the INSIDE of the car doors when we opened them. 

But my heart still burns and the hot tears still fall when I recall the tour of this home and the sacrifice of this family in a time in American history that marks our country to this day. 

The home was built with a full basement but designed in a way to conceal half of it. An elaborate system of walls and furniture made it appear to be a partial basement for food storage, but if you slid a heavy cabinet aside the other half was a place where runaway slaves could hide until it was safe to make the next part of their journey to freedom. As we stood in that basement I could hear the echoes of hushed voices, mommas trying to keep children quiet, fathers who prayed against the odds for when that ferry would be able to run and hoping against hope that no betrayer was going to interfere along the way. They had selected this plot of land because it was in close proximity to a landing for a ferry across a nearby river. 

The house was purchased along with a large plot of farmland. The owners had bought it fully with the intent to build this basement. They hid their work of a full basement as they made a home in the community and farmed the land and made a life there. The whole project involved a huge investment of money, resources, time and taking on the role of a farm family so that they could be a part of doing the right thing. They researched, planned and executed a way to help their fellow man. 

I don’t know the name of this family, but their story inspires me to this day to be wiling to use all that I have been given for the purposes for which God has given me to make a difference in the lives of others. God is all about setting captives free. As we look around us today, what can each one of us do…not demand others to do…but we ourselves, with the resources and opportunities we have been given…what can we do to set up a stop along the way for someone else to journey to freedom? 

God bless you as you sort through that question. May we each rise to the occasion to serve faithfully in the time and season of our own lives <3

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The angst that comes as we walk the byways <3

Yesterday I had to make a quick grocery run and a couple of errands. It was hotter than the face of the sun and I had already run into some snags. As I was rolling up the hill to a light that was turning red, I could see a young man in the median setting his backpack down and pulling out a cardboard sign. 


As my car eased to the stop, his sign was up and the stress that was already stirring in me ramped up as a stream of thoughts ran through my mind. The light lasted a mere minute but I processed an hour’s worth of dialogue in my head and heart.

I have the mixed blessing of being able to think multiple thoughts at the same time. I know you are jealous. I thought perhaps in sharing them, you might be able to recognize your own conflict in similar situations for whatever good that might accomplish. And then I do have a point at the end. 

* Since I was right next to him as in I could see him out of my peripheral vision, I felt slightly threatened because he was close to my window, young and apparently has been able to have access to a gym because he looked pretty strong. 

This led me to think about how, even though I have never been accosted physically by a man, I carry a real live fear in me that the possibility always exists that I could be 

Which carried over into how people might have a fear of someone or something even though they have never personally experienced it, just because there is convincing evidence it could happen. I thought about how we need to acknowledge that as legitimate and not dismiss because they have no actual part of it happening in their story.

  • This stream of thought was followed by the consideration of the age old question, WWJD. 

If Jesus were in this setting in my skin, would he reach over in our wallet and pull out some money and roll down the window?

What if I did that and he used the money for something harmful and what if he is one of those guys who is making a nice tidy sum and gets dropped off at his day job that he doesn’t have to file a tax return for? Would He have me say “sliver and gold I have not…(even though I did have silver and paper with me)…but I give you…and then share the gospel?

  • Should I even be asking those questions? Is that judgmental of me? Am I judging this stranger as being unsaved and unscrupulous? Who do I think I am? 
  • At this point the Matthew West song about If not me than who-ooo-ooo-oooo? Started running through my head. Along with a panicky feeling of what if I did try to give him money and just as he was walking over the light changed and the driver behind me laid on the horn. Because the thought of someone honking angrily at me sent my blood pressure dangerously high and then…

Thankfully the light did change and I proceeded on down the road, where I began the process of evaluating my decision not to give him money and yes, heaped all manner of guilt on myself for loving money more than people. Sort of. 

Because I still wondered how the people who are asking for money at corners always have access to nice squares of cardboard and a big marker and have better handwriting than a Kindergarten teacher. 

And by this point, I was sweating profusely and exhausted from all the thoughts and emotions that happened in the 60 seconds of waiting for a green light.

Which brings me to my point. 

While I would like to be like Jesus and show His love and grace and mercy all day, every day; I encounter a lot of situations and circumstances out and about and in my interactions with friends, family and strangers that are not clear cut. 

I don’t always have all the facts and truth and wisdom needed to make 100% perfectly godly decisions. I get tired and hungry, I get anxious and fearful. Sometimes the things that sound right and true turn out to be deception. 

And in the midst of all the overthinking, I can forget that Jesus must have been a pretty easy guy to walk with back when He was putting foot to sod here on planet earth. I rather doubt the people who traveled with Him on the daily and those who drug their families around lakes with nary a snack to munch on would have done so if He were not kind and funny and compassionate and patient. 

So when I am getting all twisted up inside with my own spinning thoughts, I find it best to take a deep breath and then another one. I can talk to Him and trust that He still has things to teach me and I can know that He would understand that even if my actions sometimes get off, my heart is set on following Him. 

We are a mixed bag of thoughts, experiences and feelings. It’s okay. He knows what we are made of. He came to save the likes of us. Praise Him <3

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No wonder he was weeping…Jeremiah <3

Currently I am reading in the book of Jeremiah and struggling to keep my focus on what God was saying to the Jews as the clock ticked down to the time of their captivity and not as a modern day warning to us Christians here in America. 

But it is difficult. 

Like in our times, the people had lost sight of following God.

They had gotten all caught up in the popular gods of the nations they had blended in with. They were being warned over and over and yet were listening to voices that told them what they wanted to hear. 

Jeremiah was called to speak unpleasant words and as a result he faced extreme persecution. He fought off his own doubts personally in dialogue with God even as he continued to speak and do the sometimes odd things God asked Him to speak and do. 

I feel compelled to mention here in light of the days and times in which we find ourselves, God doesn’t call all of us to do, speak and be odd. That isn’t a hallmark of doing His work. Jeremiah was a prophet who fulfilled a difficult calling during a pivotal time in the history of Israel and yet was consistently checking in with God to make sure He was still the one calling the shots.

As of this morning, I have read up to Chapter 26. Four chapters until I will read that verse we all love to quote about how He knows the plans for us and how they are plans to prosper us and I am reminded as I am every time I read through Jeremiah that the plans He had for them included some hefty repercussions for bad choices, serving 70 years as captives in Babylon and the complete destruction of their city. 

Chapters 1 – 25 have abounded with warnings against false prophets and bad shepherds of the people. He calls out the sins of the people and cry after cry from this weeping prophet should have brought conviction and repentance. But the sins continued, the selfishness and idolatry carried on to the point that God even told Jeremiah not to pray for them anymore. 

Now I am weeping. 

Can you imagine being so stubborn that God finally says – don’t even pray for that one? 

The margins of this new Bible are splattered with sad faces. Normally my margins have a lot of hearts, but not these pages. Instead, broken hearts are what I draw. 

My attention is drawn to what these people were hanging on to that displeased God so much. It isn’t an enigma.

If you read through Jeremiah, the problem is clearly identified numerous times. 

Here is one sample of it:

I am going to bring such disaster on this place that everyone who hears about it will shudder because they have abandoned me and made this a foreign place. They have burned incense in it to other gods that they, their fathers and the kings of Judah have never known. They have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. They have built high places to Baal on which to burn their children in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, something I have never commanded or mentioned; I never entertained the thought. Jeremiah 19: 3-5 CSB

Basically they had forgotten who God is and had replaced Him with who they wanted Him to be. 

It didn’t work. 

It never has. 

It never will. 

The plans to prosper us are God’s plans, and giving us a hope and future is all part of His design, but on His terms. Not ours. 

We can rant and rave all we want to but in the end, He is Sovereign. It is His world and we are His creation. He is worthy of worship because He alone is worthy. Not because He is better than other gods, but because He is the only God. And He has stooped down and become one of us, so that we might be one with Him. 

Praise Him! 

I hope you are reading His word and discovering His nature so that you can spot the counterfeits of the false prophets in our day and age. 

Pray for me and I will pray for you. Eyes wide open. Let us walk worthy of the One who saved us <3

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