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Friday, August 31, 2012


August 31. Yay!

As much as I dislike the fact that my life seems to slipping down the water slide at turbo speed, the end of August couldn’t come soon enough for me.

Sure we still have some 90-degree days in store, perhaps through October. But psychologically, August ends the summer heat and ushers in the coolness of Autumn.

There are those of you out there—you know who you are—that enjoy the heat. But really, what are you thinking? In fact, how can you think when your brain is sizzling?

In truth, I praise God for His plan for our world; for creating weather patterns that transfer heat, cool temperatures and water from one place on this great planet to another.

I praise God for creating variety—the changing seasons; the coolness of early morning and late night with the warmth of daytime in between.

I praise God for giving weather that soothes each of us in whatever way He created us to enjoy it.

And as we end August and look to cooler temperatures, I praise God that now, He’ll start making the weather just for me!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for variety in all things—especially in people. Remind us that variety is good. Remind us that your plan is good even if we don’t understand it, because you are good. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Are you a crazy person who likes heat? It’s OK, God loves you anyway…[smile]

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Today I was reading Isaiah 49:16: See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

We know that the book of Isaiah is filled with prophecies about Jesus. The book takes us from the original meaning of the word prophet as a person who speaks the truth from God; to the more modern definition, that a prophet is a person who foretells the future.

In Isaiah’s case, it is both.

God loves us so much that he personally knows each one of us. And God loved us so much that He gave Jesus to be hung on the cross—the palms of his hands pierced for us.

Do you remember when you were in third grade and you figured out that secret, sneaky way to write answers to test questions on the palm of your hand? It was brilliant. No one had ever thought of that idea in the history of public education. No one would ever know that you had secret answers. No one would know you didn’t deserve the grade you got.

So maybe our idea wasn’t so brilliant. But God’s idea was. No one but God could have thought up the idea of providing us with a savior to satisfy His own laws requiring a blood sacrifice for our sins.

No one but God has the secret answers.

No one but God can grant me mercy and grace—that I don’t deserve.

We stumble on through life…jotting crib notes and reminders on the palms of our hands. But we can remember that Jesus loved us so much that those reminders written on the palms of His hands were for us. It wasn’t cheating. It was open-palm, loving hands, pierced for us; our names written in his blood.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for your reminders and your plan. Thank you for never forgetting us and never forsaking us. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Tell the truth. Did you ever use your hand as a cheat sheet? [I did once and yes, I still feel guilty.]

+ + + 

Today's post is part of the Christian Writer's blog chain. Our theme for August is "memory." Please follow the links to the right to see what my friends have to say about memory.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dear Lucky Agent Contest


For you children's writers: The Writer's Digest 11th annual Dear Agent Contest is  focused on middle grade novels. Here's the link: Dear Lucky Agent contest

Good luck!



After Moses died, Joshua was preparing to lead the Israelites across the Jordan river; to fulfill God’s promise began 40 years earlier when Moses led them out of Egypt. It was all up to Joshua: cross the river or wander the rest of their lives in the desert. No doubt Joshua was more than a little afraid of his new responsibility. So God assured him, saying: "Be strong and courageous." (1 Joshua 6)

After God told Joshua to be strong and courageous, God then told Joshua, "Be strong and very courageous." (1 Joshua 7)

Finally God told Joshua once more, "Be strong and courageous," adding, "Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (1 Joshua 9)

Three times God repeated His encouragement to Joshua to be strong and courageous. God knows how much easier it is for us humans to be timid and fearful.

Throughout the Bible, whenever God sent his messengers, often the angel’s first words were: "Do not be afraid." Angels know that as wonderful and lovely as they are, seeing one show up can turn us humans into screaming scaredy pants. Angels, too, know that fear is a natural part of our lives.

Paul, however, reminded us that …

God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7)

The point about courage is not that you have no fear. The point about courage is that you do what is necessary in the face of fear. You do it even though you are afraid.

In Philippians 4:13, Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Paul isn’t saying he’s strong just because he’s a believer. Rather, Paul means he can do all things because the Spirit of God empowers him. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, Paul now has the Holy Spirit. It is God’s Spirit who makes Paul strong.

And this Spirit of God that made Paul strong? It’s in each believer, living, waiting, available to strengthen us, too.

Our spirit of weakness, timidity and incapacity does not come from God. What comes from God is a spirit of power, love and self-discipline because it is God’s own Spirit; His Holy Spirit, living in us.

Every time we remind ourselves that God’s strong and courageous Spirit is in us, and step out in faith, we experience the courageous power of God in us and become stronger and more courageous, both for now and for the next time we are faced with the choice of fear or courage. It usually begins with the small stuff—not angelic visitors; not leading a million people into a promised land; not birthing a famous baptist minister like John. Sometimes it simply begins with an attitude of submission to God’s will and a trust that He is in charge of everything—for our good.

Each time we shut our ears to fear and open our hearts to the power of God’s Spirit, we let courage expand and become a more natural part of who we are and especially—who we are in Christ.

If an angel ever comes to visit me, I hope he says, "Fear not. Be strong and courageous, because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you."

NOTE: This is a reposting from where our theme for August was "fear."

Friday, August 24, 2012


Northern California is on fire. Literally.

Thousands of acres of fires are raging here. Smoke has darkened the sky for hundreds of miles. Many people have been evacuated from their homes. Homes, businesses and livelihoods have been lost.  National Guardsmen, fire fighters and public servants are risking their lives to contain and combat the fires.

My brother's monestary was evacuated nearly one week ago. They still do not know whether the monestary buildings, the church and the chickens, bees and three monestary cats have survived. The brothers are homeless, temporarily residing with church families several hundred miles away from home.

Please pray with me for people who are in crises caused by natural disasters and for the people who work to protect us from them.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we thank you for this world. When natural disasters strike us, please remind us that you are still in charge. Please protect our loved ones from harm at these times and grant them your peace, courage and strength. Amen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


As a pastor’s kid I attended church every Sunday; went to Sunday school and youth group Sunday evenings. But one thing I never heard of until I was an adult was the idea of "memory verses."

It was when my own children attended Sunday School that they came home with a slip of paper each week, on which was written a Bible verse. They were to memorize it over the week and return the next Sunday to recite it. If they did, they got a prize.

My initial thinking was…hmmm... I’m not opposed to bribery in child raising. My point of question was the idea of having children memorize and recite a line of scripture by rote—without really knowing what it meant or the background from which it was taken.

I’ve gotten over that point of wonder.

The more I read scripture, the more verses seem to spout from my mind and my lips. The more I study the Bible, the more verses take hold in my heart and my soul.

I may not be able to cite the verse. Sometimes I can’t even cite the Book. Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s O.T. or N.T.

But the important thing is that those verses have become "memory verses." They have become part of who I am and more importantly—who I am in Christ.

They are a daily, continual and re-occurring reminder of God’s promises to me. Promises that He wrote in blood. Promises that are now and will always be part of who I am.

It took me a few decades to discover memory verses and a few more years to understand their importance. But, thank God, we’re never too old to learn. And remember.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word written down and preserved for us. Thank you for our minds that seek to understand and remember what we learn about your character, your plan and your promises. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Did you grow up learning memory verses? How about now?

Monday, August 20, 2012


I'm pleased to welcome my friend, Chris Vonada again for the next in his series on the 10 + 1 Building Blocks of Relationships. Welcome, Chris!

Appreciation. The positive reinforcement that greases the squeaky wheel. Whenever I think about appreciation, gratitude comes to mind.

Gratitude motives one to acknowledge their thankfulness for kind gestures. This effort improves their relationship with another person, the one who has been kind, caring and loving to them.

Here are my All-Stars for Appreciation:

  • Appreciation is noticing the little things. It doesn't have to be off-the-charts 3-second handstand material to invoke gratitude. Those events don't happen every day. Don't wait for the formation of the Himalaya's to show appreciation.
  • Share your positive feelings frequently and with meaning. Don't speak EGO-ESE... that's my Urban Dictionary word for puffing up someone's ego. That's not really authentic.
  • Be specific and make it thoughtful. Write it out if you have to.
  • Gratitude actually takes practice! Keep trying and you'll get better at it.
  • "Appreciate the people in your life for being authentic, but don't ever expect them to be perfect." - CV
Yep, I have some examples... and Yep, I'm thinkin' of the HB...

"I appreciate how helpful you were today when you made lunch and brought me some green tea while I was working. You are always so thoughtful like that!" 

She is a really sweet, warm, caring, sensitive, kind, genuine and nice person. So when she does something that is sweet, warm, caring, sensitive, kind, genuine or nice, I need to try to recognize it.

"That was really sweet of you to care so much about Big Bobby, he's been kind of down and I know that you helped pick him up by chatting on the phone with him today."

I tell her how incredibly cute she is in the morning. SO cute, that I came up with a name... CDC... but, since it sounded like the Center for Disease Control (that's not what it really stands for)... and since she's a wee bit of a germ-o-phobe... we had to nix that one and just go with HB.

"You were so so sweet to me this morning! I know you have a lot on your plate right now, but you always seem to keep a positive attitude. That really makes it difficult  NOT to love you... AND it makes you that much cuter in the mornings!"

Appreciation doesn't always have to come in the form of words. Sometimes I can express my gratitude  in other ways as well... flowers, cards, taking her car through the car wash, picking up the cat food from the Ace Hardware... there are many more...

Hoping that this sets a spark of passion for appreciation in your heart today!

What other ways can you think of to express Appreciation?

Friday, August 17, 2012


Lassen Volcanic National Park: Bumpass Hell Hydrothermal Area

As this post comes online, hubby, son, puppy dog and I are off camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We had reservations at Lassen Volcanic National Park. But when a lightning-ignited fire closed most of the park, we headed up from the summer heat of the California Central Valley, beckoned by the cool mountain air of the Sierras.

Despite the fire, back at Lassen, the mountain lakes are crystal clear. The mud pots are burbling. The volcanic scent of sulfur mixes with smoke to fill the air. The strange and bizarre processes of vulcanology are evidence that our world continues to change.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a reminder that—whether the earth is millions of years old or merely a few thousand years old—God is still at work on it; still changing its face; still creating beauty; still making things better.

Just as He is doing with us.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


This post is based on the Christian Writer’s August theme, "memory." Please click on the links to the right and see what my friends have to say about this theme.


One of my earliest memories is of Jesus.

No, this isn’t one of those mystical, astral-planing, late-night radio experiences. This was a dream I had when I was a 3-year old child.

I had already heard many of the bible stories at church and Sunday school, probably including Genesis 1:1. My dream however, explained it all to my little mind.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

But how did that happen, I wondered. What did it look like?

In my dream, I saw it unfold clearly. There was nothing. The universe was simply a black, dark emptiness. But wait. What’s that I see?

It’s a small shiny dot, growing larger. Coming closer. What could it be? Wait for it. It’s almost in view.

Yes, it’s Jesus, driving through the universe in a Model T Ford.

Funny? OK, maybe. But to a 3-year old child, the oldest thing my mind could imagine was a Model T Ford. So that’s what it envisioned. Jesus driving through the universe on his way to create earth.

I’ve never forgotten that dream; never forgotten how real it felt; never forgotten how it made so much sense to me.

Of course I realize Jesus didn’t literally drive through the universe in a flying car. What touched my 3-year old heart was the image that Jesus came and created everything where nothing existed before.

There was nothing. There was Jesus. He came.

It reminds me that, just as we can fly as if on wings of eagles, so can we fly with Jesus through the dark emptiness of this world to the wonderful, beauty-filled place he will create for us.

It reminds me that Jesus is the one who was driving that flying car. He was the pilot. I didn’t know how to drive a Model T; much less make it fly. If Jesus ever becomes my co-pilot, I need to switch seats. He’s the only one who can fly me safely through this world and into the next.

It reminds me that every time I watch a movie about flying cars, from Flubber, to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to the Back to the Future trilogy, Jesus is there, driving his own flying car throughout the universe. Still.

It also reminds me that my very first memory is not of a puppy or a stuffed bear or a favorite toy. It is not even of my mother or father. My first memory is of my Heavenly Father. And every memory throughout my life should include Him in it.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us insights into your character and making them understandable for whatever level our relationship is with you. Thank you for being ever present in this world and for making your presence known to us if only we look for you. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What’s your earliest memory?

Monday, August 13, 2012


This post is part of an ongoing ministry where I create prayers that people we love would live the meaning of their names. Go to the tab at the right, titled, "PRAYING NAMES" for a list of the names and prayers already created.

Every month I add new names. If you know of someone you would like to pray the meaning of their name, please click on "Comment" below and leave the name. I will research the name's meaning and create a prayer for them for a future month.


Kevin: handsome beloved

Heavenly Father, I pray that Kevin will live the meaning of his name. I pray that he will understand that—whatever he does, whatever he doesn’t do, whatever is happening in his life—to you he is beautiful and he is loved by you. Amen.

Thadius, Tad; heart

Heavenly Father, I pray that Thadius will live the meaning of his name. I pray that you will instill in his heart a deep love for you. I pray that his heart will remain strong and true to you. I pray that he will have a heart and desire for your will to be done in his life and in the world. Amen.

Virginia, Ginny: virginal, pure

Heavenly Father, I pray that Virginia will live the meaning of her name. I pray that she will live a pure life for you. I pray that—whatever mistakes she makes; however she may sin—that when she returns to you, repents and is forgiven—that she understands that your forgiveness returns her to purity in your eyes. I pray that always she will seek to live a pure life for you. Amen.

Joyce: little lord

Heavenly Father, I pray that Joyce will live the meaning of her name. I pray that she will understand her station in life as an adopted daughter in your family; that once she accepts Jesus, she becomes royalty as the adopted daughter of the King. I pray that always she will understand that you are Lord and thus, though royalty, she is little, while you—Oh, mighty God—are big. Big enough to handle every situation, every crisis, every joy, everything in the universe, no matter how large or small. Amen.

Friday, August 10, 2012


I’m too young to have a 26-year old son.

OK, I’m not too young. But I feel too young.


Does God place us inside a time warp once we reach a certain age? Some days I think He does. Because I remember clearly being 26 myself not so long ago. I remember what I looked like; what I thought about; what I loved to do; what I did; the mistakes I made.

I also remember how shallow my faith was; how much it has deepened since then.

And that makes the wrinkles and crinkles, the sags and bags not seem so depressing. Because inside, there are no wrinkles, crinkles, sags or bags. I’m all filled up and expanding with joy because God has taken me along His road with Him.

Imagine what I’ll feel like 26 more years from now!

Happy birthday to my son, Doug.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for growing us; for deepening our faith and understanding of you; for caring enough about us to help us on our journey. Thank you also for time, that allows us to measure and keep track. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Any memories of life 26 years ago?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Magnet from

Mark Twain's words decorate the all time best T-shirts, bumper stickers and kitchen magnets. His brilliance is especially poignant now that I’ve passed the middle-age marker and am firmly entrenched in the back half of life.

But the back half of life means that my mind—when I can find it—is jamb-packed with memories from that great first half.

Not all memories are pleasant, but they are all evidence of a life well lived. Evidence if only to myself.

Other memories are shared. One of the best and greatest things about being married for several decades is shared memories. Not the ones like, "Yes, I DID remember to pick up the dry cleaning." Or, "Yes, I DID remember to put out the garbage can."

No—those other ones. The taste of ice-cold root beer out of the trunk cooler on a hot Philadelphia afternoon twenty years ago.

Our 4-year old son asking if they call it "Pennsylvania" because they make pencils there.

Our 2-year old daughter trailing Ernie at Sesame Place until he was forced to escape behind the "staff only" gate.

You have your own memories—shared or not shared—that are precious to you.

Today I am particularly grateful for memories. God didn’t have to give us that gift and sometimes, by His grace and wisdom, He gives us selective memory.

When the memory is a good one, we are grateful.

When the memory is painful but a lesson is learned because of it, we are grateful.

When a painful memory is forgotten or seen through the soft filter of time, forgiveness or healing, we are grateful.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. So is a memory. Treasure it as the gift it is from the amazing God of the universe that He is.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for making our brains function the way they do, so that we are able to remember what is important, even if what is important may seem trivial to others. Thank you for making us teachable through learning from our past. Thank you in advance for the new memories and experiences in this life and in the life to come. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Wanna share one precious moment with the world?

****Today's post is part of the Christian Writers blog chain. We're writing about "memory" during the month of August. Please click on the links to the right and see what my friends have to say this month.****

Monday, August 6, 2012


Do you have a green thumb?

I used to think I did; but lately I seem to be buying more replacements for my window garden than usual. And I’m wondering if there’s something I should be doing differently for my poor little green babies.

I set them in the sunshine; angling the blinds just so—filtered light; but not too much to burn their tender leaves.

I water them each week, letting the water run through the pot but not letting the poor plant roots sit in the drainings.

And since my garden sits behind the kitchen sink, there’s plenty of humidity from the dishwashing and cooking pots nearby.

I also have a handy pack of Miracle Gro. The stuff that makes things bloom and grow.

God also has a bag of Miracle Gro; an enormous bag. Sometimes He sprinkles it tenderly from heaven. Other times I think He dumps it all over us. Whatever His technique though, it encourages us to bloom and grow in Him so that when ultimately we leave this life, we become part of His eternal harvest.

We may not be able to see the face of God, but one thing for sure: we know His hands. They’re the muscled hands of a carpenter, pierced for our sake and with brilliant green thumbs, growing us into His likeness.

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus that you were born a carpenter but became our eternal harvester. Thank you for never giving up on growing us into your likeness. Thank you for your harvest. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a green thumb?

Friday, August 3, 2012


Every month has a birthstone. The birthstone for the month of August is peridot. And it reminds me of Jesus.

Peridot from:


Biblical Gemstones

Translations of mineral names from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic to English are not always exact. Most scholars and historians, however, believe that the green stone referred to in Bible translations as chrysolite, is beautiful lime-green peridot.


Back in the Garden

Without getting into a discussion of who Ezekiel meant by the King of Tyre, Ezekiel says peridot (chrysolite) was present in the Garden of Eden:

You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. (Ezekiel 28:13)

In the Middle Ages, peridot was believed to have the power to drive away evil. Too bad Eve didn’t know that back in the Garden…

The High Priest

Peridot (chrysolite) was named as one of the stones adorning the breastplate of the High Priest (Exodus 28) and represented the Tribe of Zebulun (the sixth son of Jacob and Leah). When the Hebrews entered the Promised Land, the Tribe of Zebulun’s inheritance was generally the territory toward the Sea of Galilee where Jesus conducted his Galilean ministry. It also included Bethlehem—the birthplace of Jesus.

Only the High Priest was allowed to wear the jeweled Breastplate. Because Jesus became our High Priest forever, Jesus symbolically wears the Breastplate of the High Priest—and August’s birthstone, the peridot—forever.


The Apostle John shares his vision of heaven, saying,

The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. (Revelation 21:19)

Did you see? The seventh layer (the number of perfection in biblical symbolism) of the foundation of heaven is peridot.

I fell in love with peridot when my son was born in the month of August. When I wear peridot, I think of my son. After this post, I’ll also think of Jesus—the Son of God. I hope you will, too.

Happy birthday to everyone born in August.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the beauty in our world—in mountains and oceans, flowers and gemstones. Thank you also for your beautiful son, Jesus. Please open our eyes and hearts to see your love through Jesus in the world around us today. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Written on those 12 jeweled foundations in heaven are the names of the 12 apostles. John doesn’t say which layer represents which apostle. Any guess at who peridot represents?

Today is a cross-posting with Chris Vonada. Please visit him often at:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


This month the Christian Writers’ theme is "memory." No doubt lots of jokes will be made about our memory and lack of it. No doubt I’ll do some of the joking. Please go to the links at the right column and see what my friends have to say.



This month began with several personal reminders of how short our lives are in the grand scheme of things. This life is a dot on our journey throughout eternity. But as a dot, this life is still important. To us. To God. To the people we love and who love us. And also to the people who don’t know us but whose lives we touch or whose lives are touched by something we do in the here and now.

Because of the reminders I’ve had recently, I’ve settled this week on some serious work toward life goals. Things to do before I die. That bucket list.

What memory will others have of my life, when I’m gone?

More importantly I’m taking some time to think how I can make my life memorable in a good way and to help make good memories for others—in the name of Jesus.

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for each day on this earth you give us. Please help us make the most of each day. Help us create good memories for others and help us live lives that will result in good memories of us for the people who remain. Most importantly, remind us each moment to live with gratitude for who you are and all you do for us. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it?