The massive displays of pumpkins, mums, and candy signal autumn and Halloween are here. October 31 is one of my favorite childhood memories. For one night a year, I enjoyed a fun costume and received candy from people I didn’t know. What is not to love?  But looking back, my appreciation of that evening isn’t in the cool costume or the big bag of sugary delights. Now, I realize it was an evening spent with my father. It remains a special place in my heart.img_0204

My sisters and I hurried to get our homework done before donning our simple, hand-me-down costumes. A ghost, a witch, or a skeleton were reused year after year. They consisted of a step-into jumpsuit with a single tie in the back and a plastic mask secured to our sweaty faces with a tiny band of elastic. If someone wanted to be mean, they could snap that piece of elastic and sting your head. Like I said, if someone wanted to be mean.

I believe my father got the trick or treat assignment because we traveled to his neighborhood where he grew up and worked. He knew the homes where we would be welcomed. He was familiar with the side streets and back alleys which added to the excitement. Just picture this small group of short hobgoblins scurrying through the dark alleys, the fallen leaves crunching under our feet as we chattered excitedly,  Where we going next, Daddy?

Our evening began at my father’s childhood home where my grandparents made the first deposits into our empty bags with the good stuff: Milky Ways, Snickers, and Mr. Goodbars. My grandfather had a sweet tooth so there was always candy around. From there, we headed out though the little town of Paramount, Maryland.

We followed my father. We knew we were safe and in good hands. He knew the way; he knew the route. We just needed to follow and keep up. We trusted him to lead us.  House after house. Trick or Treat. Thank goodness, no one ever demanded a trick. I had no tricks up my little ghost sleeve. Just thankful for the yummy treats.

My father would hang back as we made our way up the front steps, half blinded by our lopsided masks and drooping costume pant legs. Trick or Treat. Then my father would come out of the shadows and make some small talk with the neighbor. We made sure to say thank you. Manners always.

Where we going next, Daddy? 

“This way”, he would respond with a little bit of mischief in his voice.  He enjoyed this as much as we did! Later, I discovered this precious joy of parenthood: enjoying fun activities with my own children.

With simple, childlike faith we followed our father. We didn’t have to be concerned about the direction; he knew which way to go.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. Matthew 18: 1-5 (NIV)

I enjoy revisiting my childhood memories, like Halloween night. Life was imaginative, playful, and spontaneous.  The foundation of my faith was built in tiny Sunday School rooms with flannel graph pieces illustrating the stories of Jonah, Daniel, Paul, and Jesus. I believed and followed with childlike faith.

Unfortunately, now I have allowed too many adult-like doubts and questions to cloud my once joyful relationship with my Heavenly Father. I want to return to a childlike faith that is wholly trusting, transparent, carefree, and full of joy. I want to follow my Heavenly Father with childlike faith through life’s alleyways, just like I followed my earthly father through the dark alleyways those chilly but magical Halloween nights.

Where we going next, Daddy? 

This way. Follow me. 





Growing up on a farm, I found many places to play, hide, work, and think. The apple orchard was one of those places. In the spring, pink-tinted fragrant blossoms filled the air.  During the hot summer months, lower branches invited me to climb and stay awhile, delaying my chores.  In the fall, I gathered and enjoyed the free-falling fruit. The wintertime barrenness signaled it was time for the orchard to rest.

Proverbs 25:11 is wise King Solomon’s metaphorical use of ‘apples of gold’ to praise good speech and the value of words.

Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given. (NIV) 

Other versions say it like this:

Timely advice is as lovely as gold apples in a silver basket. (TLB)

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. (KJV)

The right words spoken at the right time in the right way is as pleasing as beautiful pieces of fruit in a silver setting. Choose words carefully. Speak words that bring joy and life to the recipient. Give apples of gold: give words of comfort, praise, counsel, and encouragement. The right word from the right person at the right time is life-giving and priceless.

A story from Greek mythology highlights the appeal of golden apples. The young and very beautiful Atalanta is a skilled hunter. Originally abandoned by her father, they are reunited and dad is eager to find a spouse for his daughter. Although, many suitors come seeking her hand in marriage,  Atalanta is hesitant to marry.

But to keep daddy happy, Atalanta agrees to marry but with one stipulation. Her suitor must beat her in a foot race. Since Atalanta is extremely fast, no suitors are able to beat her. Her singleness remains preserved.

Then one suitor, Hippomenes, develops a plan. Armed with three golden apples, he drops one at a time during the race to distract Atalanta. It works. Atalanta stops running long enough to retrieve all three golden apples. Hippomenes wins the race and Atalanta’s hand in marriage.

The golden apples distracted Atalanta.  Was she hungry for pretty objects? Did they catch her eye and she just couldn’t resist?I don’t blame her. Golden apples get my attention too. Kind, inspiring, and life-giving words get my attention. I will stop what I am doing and gather them.

Someone once advised me to keep an encouragement file. Harsh criticism naturally comes with leadership but hang onto the supportive and uplifting ‘apples of gold’ when they come. Start a file, a place to gather golden apples. Then feast on them during the dark and hard days.

When a golden apple comes my way, I gather it, keep it, and savor it. If inspiring words come as a note, I keep it. If it is an uplifting email, I print it and file it. They serve as drops of soothing cool water during the dry, dusty, challenging days. I stop, gather, and collect golden apples representing  words of praise and reassurance.

Since I know what apples of gold mean to me,  I want to be a giver of golden words. Thoughtful words to inspire and uplift. What words do others need to hear from me? I want to offer golden words just like the Golden Rule based on Matthew 7:12: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It is apple harvest time. If Atalanta slows down, I will join her and we will pick up golden apples tossed our way.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)






stacking stones

There is a small flower garden tucked behind the historic jail museum in the small coastal town of Southport, North Carolina.  Within the garden, there is a pathway of engraved stones called Heritage Stones. These Heritage Stones honor individuals who had a significant impact on the development of Southport. Some commemorate the signers of the 1792 original charter. Others represent women and men of various professions: postmistress, pastor, principal, artist, historian, and civic leader. Each left their mark on this town.

One Heritage Stone names an event, not an individual, that left its indelible mark. An event that forever changed Southport and eastern North Carolina: Hurricane Hazel. When Hurricane Hazel arrived on October 15, 1954, she brought with her 120+ mph winds and a storm surge of 15 feet. Southport and surrounding areas would eventually recover but the landscape would never look the same.

In our lives, people and storms change our trajectory and our lives are never the same. We are headed one way; but then our direction is altered. When that happens, it is important to pause and remember. It is time to stack some stones. The Heritage Stones invite the residents and visitors of Southport to pause and remember. Remember the people who gave unselfishly. Remember the Storm.  Do not forget. To help remind us, they placed stones.

Stacking stones as spiritual markers began in Genesis. In chapter 31, Jacob and his relatives stacked stones following their covenant with Laban. This monument of stones and this stone pillar that I have set up is a witness, a witness that I won’t cross this line to hurt you and you won’t cross this line to hurt me. Genesis 31: 51,52

Later in Joshua 4, the stone stacking continues. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. Joshua 4: 5-7

Stacking stones so those whom come after us will see and remember. Remember how the mighty God brought us through this situation. Do not forget. Stack stones.

If I were to stack stones representing my life-altering events, one stone would be for my fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Cordell.  He inspired and encouraged me to be a teacher. His love for his students and for teaching left a mark on my life. My life was changed because of Mr. Cordell.

I would need another stone for Bill and Ruth, my Sunday School teachers. They took time, tons of time, to share about love, life, and God. They walked their faith everyday. They changed my life.

Another stone would represent my junior year at college: 215 Seavers. My 5 roommates drew me closer to God and made me laugh daily. It was crazy fun. They changed my life.

One more stone would be for a country that feels like my second home, Tanzania. I love the people. I love who I am when I am there. I love the beautiful children. I feel closer to God. Tanzania has changed my life.

There are many more stones that have shaped, molded, and altered my life. When I pause to remember, I know I am very blessed.

What about you? What names are on your stones? Who are the people who helped mold you into you?  Have you named your storms that altered your lifescape?  Let’s pause to remember.

We need to stack some stones for those who come after us. They will see the stones, and they will know we were here. But more importantly, they will know God was here.

Stacking stones claims ordinary moments of life for God. And when someone comes along and asks you, “What do these stones mean?” tell them the story of what God has done. ~ Jayne Hugo Davis



Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work. 

~ Peter Marshall

Waiting is hard. Waiting for the light to change, the line to move, the game to start, and the phone to charge. I wait for the laundry to finish, the microwave to beep, and the repair person to show up.  I wait for my food to come through the magical drive-thru window and for the line to snake through the amusement ride queue. Please stop me if I ever insist on waiting five hours for Disney’s newly open Frozen Ever After ride. A five-minute boat trip through the mythical land of Arendelle is not worth the wait!

Winter-lovers await the first quiet snowflake. Summer-lovers await their first beach day. Moms and dads wait for doctors’ reports while comforting their sick child. Children, women, and men around the globe wait for their freedom from abuse and exploitation. My friend, Tommy, spent 8 days waiting on a boat while fleeing Communism in Vietnam. Some waiting is cruelly defined by life or death.

Waiting isn’t easy; it requires patience and perseverance both qualities I am recently lacking. I am a doer, by God’s design, not a wait-er. I want to go and do, not wait and see. Waiting is starting to freak me out. I am becoming  grumpy and fidgety. Let’s get on with it!  I don’t own a git ‘er done t-shirt but maybe I should as a visual reminder to God of my inner workings.  Nike and me: Just do it!

So here I am, anxiously waiting.  I am waiting for an answer, actually 2 answers. One answer from a lady regarding my writing. I am pretty sure what her response will be, but I am waiting to hear it in her own words. I pray she is kind.

The other response?  I am waiting on God. I am waiting for Him to tell me my purpose in life. My I-am-turning-55-and-at-a-crossroads purpose in life. You would think I would be willing to be extra patient for such an important answer, but no.  I am growing impatient with God. Sadly, my impatience is creeping toward anger. Why doesn’t God answer me? Doesn’t He hear my cries? Doesn’t He care?  I am starting to believe I am no longer a blip on God’s radar screen.

Perhaps my impatience is being fueled by a post mid-life crisis. Approaching birthday, getting older, slowing down, stepping away from ministry responsibilities, too much gray hair, too thick at the waist and other areas, too many new aches and pains. All those red flags which scream, Help me find my usefulness, my purpose in this life! Wherever I drive, speed limit signs remind me of my age and my anxiety gauge ticks up a few notches.

I know I have turned the page of a new life chapter,  but did God forget to turn the page? Is He a few chapters behind?

I need Him to show me my new path, my new game plan. What does He want me to do? How can I serve Him? I am seeking His direction, which is a good thing. But I so desperately want a map. A nice big, clear map, since my eyesight left a long time ago.  I need to know the next play.  Football players receive their next play through their helmets. I will strap on a helmet, if need be. I want to get busy for God; my hands aren’t happy idle. As these waiting days flow into each other with no answer, the grayness thickens. The darkness is getting uncomfortably close. How long will I have to wait?

When will God answer me? Not sure. Sarah spent many years in the harsh grip of childlessness while waiting on God. God’s people waited in Egypt for 400 years before hearing His response to their cries. How long did Simeon wait to see the child Jesus in the Temple? Paul waited in jail for two years before arriving in Rome.

Two requests before God and silence. The deafening kind of silence. I want answers, yesterday. I recognize my time-table is so nearsighted, so finite.  God’s time-table is beyond comprehension, certainly beyond my limited vision.

David reminds me over and over again in Psalms to wait and do so patiently.  Psalm 27:14,  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 37: 7a,  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.

As I learn to wait, perhaps I will find God is patiently waiting for me. Is He waiting for me to become still? Is He waiting for me to start trusting Him again? Is He blessing me with time to be quiet but I am narrow-mindedly discarding it as wasted time? Is this waiting time a precious gift from my good, good Father?  Time to rest and refresh, not whine and complain. During this waiting period, I need to accept the open invitation to climb onto His lap and be close to my Heavenly Daddy. A gift of time to rest in His embrace.

Time to pull up a chair, grab a soda, and lots of chocolate. Time to wait but also time to read, pray, be still, and just enjoy Him. Maybe being in God’s waiting room isn’t so bad after all. Maybe I can learn to embrace this time and utter thank you, instead of hurry up. 

As I look around, I see I am in very good company. So many pictures of those who have passed through this same waiting room. Some waited longer than others, but all have waited. Joseph waited in a pit and prison. Job waited. Hannah waited. Father of the prodigal son waited. So many have waited and so many are still waiting. I am not alone here.

I will wait expectantly of what God will do. I will wait as He authors the next chapter in my life.

I will wait; for I know He is working.

Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. ~ John Ortberg



open hands

With the close of the  2016 Olympics, I have my evenings back. More time to do whatever I did before the athletes paraded into my life.  No more late nights in the Olympic Zone and counting medals. This geography geek is putting her map away. FYI: Bhutan is in South Asia and has never won any medals.

I enjoyed learning tidbits about little known countries, like Burundi. Mentioned by ABC News as one of the countries with snazzy outfits, Burundi (FYI: south of Rwanda in Africa) entered the arena with each athlete wearing a traditional African attire featuring animal prints and carrying a wooden staff. They completed their look with neon  Nike shoes, combining traditional with modern. The 9 Burundi athletes returned with one medal, a nod for Best Looks, and tons of country pride.IMG_9781

Choosing to sacrifice my sleep time, I enjoyed women’s beach volleyball.  Looking beyond their ridiculously tiny uniforms, I was amazed by their athleticism on display in the big sandbox.

I noticed many of the female volleyball players stood waiting to receive a serve with open hands, palms up. The American, April ‘the Boss’ Ross would take her stance with open hands, palms up, and wiggle her fingers too. She was ready and waiting for whatever was coming her way.IMG_9780


Do I come before God with open hands, palms up, and fingers wiggling? Does my Father see me ready and willing to do His work? Does my stance convey the message, I am here and I am ready to be used by You?

Too often, I fear God sees my hands, tightly closed, like fists.  He sees me clinging to things that don’t really belong to me. I, like the selfish seagulls in the movie, Finding Nemo, declare to God, “Mine. Mine. Mine.” I foolishly and arrogantly believe all I have is mine. I am so wrong.

My family, my belongings, my life, my next breath: all from God. Everyone and everything in my life represent the blessings and perfect gifts from a loving Father.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Only open hands are ready to receive all the blessings and perfect gifts from a loving Father.  Only open hands can be used by Him to give and receive blessings. Only open hands can embrace a loved one and can reach down to pull up the fallen.  Only open hands can serve another. Only open hands can clap in praise and wipe away tears.

The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance as it receives. ~ Biddy Mason.

 Only open hands are ready to return a wicked volleyball serve as the beach volleyball players demonstrated.

What can I do with open hands? When offered in love,  everything!

Then, with a wink in His eye, I will hear my Heavenly Father say, “Mine.”




I didn’t know

Dear God,

I didn’t know the new boy in my eighth grade science class was someone very special.

I didn’t know IMG_9732 in tenth grade he would become more interesting to me.

I didn’t know our separate college years would deepen our bond.

I didn’t know there was a ring hidden in the drawer one December night.

I didn’t know a wedding could be planned in six weeks.

I didn’t know our first married year apart would strengthen our marriage.

I didn’t know 2 amazing blessings would result in this union.

I didn’t know loved ones would be gone too soon.

I didn’t know the tough challenges we would walk through.

I didn’t know family and friends would be such valued treasures.

I didn’t know daughters could also be dear friends.

I didn’t know the adventures ahead of us.

I didn’t know 2 wonderful sons would join our family.

I didn’t know we would be blessed to be involved in children’s lives around the world.

I didn’t know the path we would walk.

I didn’t know I would say ‘I do’ 33 years ago today.

But You did.

I say thank you with all that I am.


back stories

For the remaining 14 nights, you will find me in front of a TV.  Drawn by the lure of  Olympic-size competition, I will arrive with  snacks to watch toned and muscular bodies in action. With regular season football still weeks away, I will receive my sports fix via the race for medals. I will be mesmerized by superhuman feats of athleticism on display. Why does anyone even attempt to do back flips on a 4-inch wide beam? 

Focus. Toughness. Strength. Perseverance, Determination. Endurance. Resilience.

All show up every night; all exhibited in a wide array of colorful uniforms.

What makes a  person work so hard and practice so long while striving for perfection? Each athlete has an overachieving, internal drive force that keeps me tuning in for more.

During the opening ceremony, one commentator made an insightful comment. He said that for many of the athletes this single event of entering the arena to thundering applause and celebration was their Olympics. Most would not make it through preliminaries, most would not achieve a personal record, and most would certainly return home empty-handed. So before the cauldron was lit, most had achieved all they possibly would in the Olympics.

In addition to the drama and cheers,  I enjoy learning about the individual. Tell me about the person. I am curious about their journey. Their back story doesn’t need to focus on whether they set a personal record  or awarded a medal. Yes, I will see what they are capable of but who are they and what is their back story?   What did they and their family endure to arrive on this world stage? What did they sacrifice and was it worth it?

Terrorism, in its ugly form, has touched many people and nations. Freedom to live, work, practice, and train have been infringed upon. Yes, each athlete has a back story; we just aren’t privy to all of them. Occasionally, Bob Costas may enlighten us with a human interest story but with 11,000 + athletes competing in these  Olympics, there are  11,000 + back stories.

Tell me more about Laura Graves, the hairdresser from Boston. What motivates a hairdresser to purchase a horse that she saw on a sales video?  Why did she nickname him Diddy?  How did their journey unfold in Florida where they train in hopes of an equestrian medal? Curious stuff.

By telling me their back stories, these media-inflated gods and goddesses become more real and human. They are not to be worshipped, but they can be admired.  By telling me their back stories,  I hear their struggles and I don’t feel so alone in mine.

I was dialed in on night 3, when David Boudia and partner, Steele Johnson,  were competing in the 10-meter platform synchronized diving competition. One could say that Boudin’s back story is one of drugs, alcohol, and the contemplation of suicide. That is all true. But the climax to any good story is the most exciting part. It is when the conflict of the plot is resolved. That occurred when David accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.  The red  blood flowed from the cross and covered all of David’s back story. His life was never the same.

At the end of the night, David and Steele  celebrated their silver medal performance. With a microphone in front of them and the world listening, David put his back story front and center. On national TV, he told the world his identity is in Christ alone. He is more than a medal. David and Steele both openly shared  whose they are.

It’s totally freeing when I stay in tune with scripture. I don’t have to worry if I miss a dive. I go into competition and it’s like, ‘Praise God no matter what.’ If I do well, that’s awesome. I praise Him. If I don’t do well, praise Him even more. Competition looks way different now.           ~ David Boudia

When the cauldron is snuffed out and the Olympics rings go dark, the athletes will travel home.  Hopefully, they will carry David’s back story with them. Perhaps they will pause to consider their own identity, whether they have a medal around their neck or not.

Now when David stares down a dive from 10 meters high, he knows the climax to his back story carried him there.

That is all he needs to know.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can erode away or may be stolen. Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value and are safe from thieves. If your profits are in Heaven, your heart will be there too. Matthew 6:19-21

Let’s Walk Worthy!






power of one word

Maneuvering the hallway lined with perfectly polished women, I keep my eyes downcast. Grasping my welcome bag and holding back tears, I rush into my hiding place: the ladies restroom. Why am I here? I must be crazy. Dabbing at my eyes, I catch my reflection in the mirror.  Good grief! Look at me!  My yard-sale find, a brown sweater, stares back at me reinforcing my unworthiness. As the tears begin again, I know only two things :  I do not have enough tissues and I do not belong here.

Attending a women’s conference in Charlotte, North Carolina seemed like a good idea six months ago.  Now, I am questioning my sanity and decision-making ability as I sink deeper into  yard-sale-girl-crying-in-the-bathroom-alone.  Staying here will only keep me locked in this dark and sad place feeding on the enemy’s lies.  Another woman, not wearing a yard-sale sweater, will eventually need to use the restroom.  Leaving my make-shift sanctuary is my only viable option.

Trying to re-establish my composure, I realize I need to do something, anything. A comfortable and familiar activity pops into my mind: eating! Yes, I will find something to eat. After making several wrong turns in the massive conference center, the lunch buffet for attendees comes into view. Choosing a table away from the chattering crowd, I engage my cloaking device for invisibility.  By burying my head in the thick conference notebook, I play invisible. However,  I am thankful my soda glass is not hidden as the kind staff continually fills it to the brim.  But then…


One word. Just one word causes me to lift my head.

One word and I reach out to grab God’s life-line.

One word and I am looking into the eyes of a lady who is also searching and alone.

My new friend takes the seat across from me and begins chatting away in a lovely southern drawl. We easily slip and slide into each other’s life. We share. We laugh. We cry. We contemplate dessert choices and decide to get both.

One word. With one word, I am no longer alone.  With one word, I gain a lunch partner, a conference buddy, and a new friend.

My friend was brave to offer me one word; I want to be brave and offer one words freely to others. A simple one word like Hello. But maybe those who cross my daily path  need to hear the one word, Thanks, more generously.  My family needs to hear more often the healing one word, Sorry.

It is amazing how much meaning and power there is behind one word. But the greatest and most disarming one word of all is the name of Jesus. I want to be brave to offer ‘Jesus’  to someone who needs to hear this saving one word. I need to offer it to those outside of my church, small group, and safe places.  Maybe someone you know needs to hear the most important one word,  Jesus.

By myself I have sworn,
my mouth has uttered in all integrity
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear. Isaiah 45:23 NIV

Only one word will cause others to lift their heads.

Only one word will offer a  life-line to someone who desperately needs it.

Let’s Walk Worthy!









pray like it matters

While in Tanzania, my itinerary included a visit to the country office on Friday morning.  As we drove toward the office, my guide informed me that Friday was prayer day. He said it with an enthusiastic anticipation that I usually reserve for a planned shopping trip with dinner and ice cream afterwards. He knew what was coming and he was looking forward to it.

Compassion International battles poverty in 26 countries, working through 26 unique in-country offices. So on Friday morning, we headed to Tanzania’s country office which is located in the city of Arusha.  The plan was to join the staff for morning devotions before heading out to visit a Compassion Center nearby.

The Compassion staff gathers for devotions every morning. However, Friday mornings are special because they are devoted to prayer. So after a time of worshipping God through singing, we got busy praying.  We prayed and then we prayed some more.  We prayed corporately and we prayed privately as some of the Staff sought a quiet place in the room.  Some prayed standing, some kneeling. We paired off and prayed with a partner. If there was a way to pray; we found it and we prayed!

During corporate prayer, we prayed for a country where Compassion is currently serving approximately 137,000 children. This country is facing questions from the government about their program. Will Compassion be asked to leave this country? What would become of the children? Such heavy burdens.

We  prayed for the sponsors. Yep, we prayed for you and me (if you are a sponsor). I was humbled. Then these questions popped into my brain: Why are you praying for me?  Why are you praying for sponsors?  None of us live in or near extreme poverty that exists right outside this office door.  That didn’t matter. I was prayed for and all the sponsors were prayed for.

When it was time to pray with a partner, I looked around for my guide. Partnering and praying with my guide seemed like a comfortable choice. But he had moved to the back of the room during the private prayer time. Nearby, a tall lady with a warm smile looked my way. Yes, let’s pray together. So we stood, faced each other and joined hands.  And we prayed. IMG_9568

What struck me most was how she prayed; how everyone in that room prayed. They prayed like it mattered. They prayed like they knew God was in the room, standing amongst us.  They prayed boldly and with authority.  They prayed like they knew their prayers made a difference. They prayed like they knew God was actually listening.

They rocked my prayer world.  Do I pray like it matters? Not usually. Do I pray expecting God to answer? Uh….maybe sometimes.

Sadly, I have to admit that my approach to prayer is very vanilla and lightweight.  When I take the time to pray, I lob softballs to God. I use the excuse that I am just too busy to really pray. But I make time to check Facebook and play cookie jam on my phone. That must make God sad too.

Recalling that day, I realize what an honor and privilege it was to spend time in prayer with my Tanzanian brothers and sisters. They taught me so much as they demonstrated how important prayer is to them and their work. They know they serve a Big God and they talk with Him openly and honestly – like it matters.

A little bit of Heaven moved that Friday morning because God was listening.

Pray like it matters, because it does.


Let’s Walk Worthy!

photo credit: dailyverses.net



The Collector

The  room is filled with the most beautiful  bottles you can imagine. Various shapes and sizes; all sealed with elaborate stoppers, not inexpensive twist-tops. They stand side by side, filling shelf after shelf. The shelves encircle the room  floor to ceiling. There are too many to count! The bottles are transparent enough to see that they are filled to the top; each and every one of them.IMG_9474

The door opens and the Collector enters. He has come for another bottle. Upon entering the room, His Brilliance illuminates everything inside. You and I would need to shield our eyes from the intensity, but the Collector carries on with His work unfazed. In one hand, He carries a book.  His other hand is closed tightly, like He is protecting something precious.  Approaching the bottles, He places the book aside for a moment.  His attention is on a particular bottle as He lifts off the stopper. He moves about slowly; His mood appears somber.  What could cause the Collector to be sorrowful?


IMG_9472 2

Then the Collector raises His hand above the bottle and releases its contents. Out of His hand and into the bottle pours a steady stream of a sparkling but clear liquid. The Collector studies the flow as if He recognizes each individual droplet. As He closes the bottle, He slowly bows His head. Gradually, He brings the bottle up to eye level and with a tilt of His head, nods, as if to say He understands.

         You keep track of all my sorrows.

        You have collected all my tears in your bottle. Psalm 56:8

The Collector then turns His attention to the thick book. He flips through the worn and yellowed pages revealing line after line of entries.  Using only the tip of His finger, He goes about recording this new entry.

Date: May 31, 2016   The tears collected saying goodbye to Jackline.

I remember that day! At the end of our special day together, Jackline and I both cried. I brushed away her tears as my own tears rapidly fell. There were so many of them; it was a busy day for the Collector.  He helped me to my feet when I thought it would be impossible to stand. He was there; gathering all those tears into His loving hands. I remember my deep sadness. IMG_8075

The Collector pauses and flips back several pages.

His book reveals numerous entries during September 1993 and November 2000. Yes, many bottles were filled during those seasons. Entry: Parents’ Home-Going

          You have recorded each one in your book.  Psalm 56:8

Again, the Collector pauses; He remembers too.

As He surveys the room, He can recall each time He has entered this room and filled another bottle with my tears. Tears from the dark days.  Tears following harsh words and unkind actions. Tears brought on by death and life. Tears collected when I thought no one else was around. But the Collector was always there. I was never alone when my tears fell. They were gathered into the caring hands of the Collector.

One day, “He will wipe every tear from my eye. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. ” Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

And all those beautiful bottles will be empty.

Let’s Walk Worthy!


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