“Talitha Koum!”

You know… I am passionate about God’s word. I can completely fill up on the pages of Scripture, and it takes real effort to pull myself away at times. Because I find it addictive. And it was through several years of devouring God’s word that I developed another passion… God’s women. That’s because for so long, this woman simply went through the motions of church, and all that implies. Honestly, it’s only recently that I’ve begun to know God. And I’ve come to know Him through His word. And because I have developed such a taste for Scripture, I want other women to be as hungry as I am. I want them to know what I know. And so, my passion is for God’s word, and for His women. 

And Vacation Bible School? Well, that’s something I haven’t felt so passionate about. Because it’s for kids, right? And so, I volunteered only because it was something I thought I should do. I simply told the person in charge to put me where she wanted to put me. And the truth is (shamefully), I wasn’t really looking forward to it. My heart just wasn’t in it. Because in my mind, it wasn’t about God’s women. Or so I thought.

And so, this week I was pleasantly surprised. Because although I was placed with 4th through 6th graders (who intimidate the heck out of me), I was blessed. Although I wouldn’t have selected this age group had I signed up myself, I found my nerves subsiding. See, my child is only six, so I don’t have those older kid skills yet. And because kids don’t come naturally to me, I usually feel awkward with children beyond my son’s age. And so, what I found within my heart this week caught me off guard. Because what I found inside was unexpected and wonderful. I found love. Real love. And most particularly… I felt it for those precious girls.

sad girl 4

Do you know what 4th through 6th grade girls are? Why, they’re mini-women. And right now, they are full of life. Their faces are bright and shining, and grins and laughs abound. They have energy… they have love… and they have hope. Some are exceedingly confident and some are quiet and shy. But all in all, I saw happy girls at Vacation Bible School. Full girls. And so, my heart ached. It broke just a little because I know that they are right there on the edge. I know what they’re likely to come face to face with in just a few short years. I know because I was just like them. I clearly remember how I took things to heart. Because girls, well, they’re fragile. They’re sensitive. And they’re breakable. And before long, these girls will enter the school of hard knocks. And I just have to wonder what they will be like afterward. Will life dull the shine? Will circumstances still the laughter? Will reality quell hope? Is their fullness enough to carry them through?

You know… the truth is some of these mini-women have already endured hard knocks. I saw it when a man spoke harshly to a young girl this week. He didn’t mean anything by it, and it wasn’t really a big deal. But, I cringed inside. Because I remember how I felt. See, a hasty command issued in a stern tone can be humiliating to a young girl. Especially when everyone else hears. So cutting. And yet, she kept smiling. But I wondered… how was her inside at that moment? And kids… you know, they get so excited. In their eagerness, they forget about other people. And so, they can push. And although it was only for a short while, I saw when a young girl shut down. Her arms crossed in front of her, and her face fell as she backed into the wall. She didn’t want to get pushed further aside. And then there’s home life. In speaking with a couple of moms, I found some young women already have hurts and anxieties. And in reality, they have already entered the school of hard knocks. The truth is, some of them have endured the blows of life… some being knocked down already. God’s girls… His mini-women. And my heart aches for them. Because I want them to know what I know.

Then He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha Koum!” (which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”) Immediately the girl got up and began to walk. (She was 12 years old.) Mark 5:41-42

These girls, who are really just mini-women, touched my heart this week. But I am hopeful for them. See, they have a foundation and are building their lives on Christ. And no doubt, they will get knocked down in life. Because life is full of harsh people… and pushy people… and disappointment… and heartache. They’ve had only a taste of the bitterness life can afford them. But they’ve also tasted the sweet… Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. I want them to know that when life knocks them down, they can get up. I hope they hear Him when He calls to them, “Talitha Koum!” I hope these mini-women graduate from the school of hard knocks with honors. May their testimonies be honoring to God when all is said and done.

Yes, I have such passion… I am passionate for God’s women. But also for His word. Because it’s His word that sustains me and keeps me going. I know that God has issued an open invitation to His banquet, and that He supplies us with fresh manna daily. We just need to open our mouths, and Bibles, and feast. We must fill up on His word, so that we have enough sustenance to carry us through. Because the school of hard knocks is lengthy. And life is harsh. People are pushy, and we can be knocked down. It’s His word that will help us stand up again. What Jesus said in Mark 5:43 holds true today. He said that “she should be given something to eat.” Let’s give these young girls… these mini-women… the word of God. Let’s show them how to feast on the pages of Scripture. So that when they fall, they’ll remember what He said:

“Little girl, I say to you, get up!”

And may she rise.

Does she know?

I’m studying the book of Esther. And through the second chapter, I learned that this young, Jewish woman (who became the queen of Persia) was beautiful in both form and face. Basically, she was a knock out. And not only that, her beauty was more than skin deep. There was just something about Esther that made her so likeable… to both men and women. Because she won the favor of everyone she came into contact with. It sounds like she had it all, doesn’t it? But no, if you read closely you see that she must have had some sadness in her life, for she was orphaned. Because she had no parents, her cousin adopted her and raised her as his own. And not only that, because the king put forth a decree, she was taken to the palace along with all the other beautiful women. So Esther, who had lost her parents, was then abruptly taken from the only one she knew as a father. So realistically, she didn’t have it all. She only looked like it. And the amazing thing is that despite her less than favorable circumstances, she retained a sweet soul. She had to have, for she gained favor wherever she went. She must have positively glowed… inside and out. Do you know anyone like that?

Yesterday, I wondered if there was someone like this in my life. But sadly, no one came to mind. Because I must be honest… if I know a drop-dead, gorgeous woman, there may be the smallest part of me that feels a little bit jealous. And maybe, I feel a hint of intimidation. So, really, no one readily came to mind yesterday. But this morning, I thought of someone. See, I’m memorizing a new verse…

I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living…       Psalm 27:13

“Lost heart” captured my attention. Another version of the Bible says it this way… “I am certain that I will see the LORD’s goodness.” This verse is all about faith. This verse exhibits such hope. The psalmist who wrote this fully expects to see God’s goodness in the land. And this made me think of a woman I know. She happens to be exceedingly beautiful. Not only that, her beauty is more than skin deep. Whenever I am in her presence, I feel happy to be with her. She is sweet and authentic and lovely… but in reality, she doesn’t have it all. See, her circumstances are less than favorable. This woman has two boys, both with a disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Her days are hard, and her heart must positively ache at times. But you would never, ever know it. For her attitude is always uplifting. This woman gains the favor of all those who see her (Esther 2:15). And coincidentally (or not so coincidentally), this woman posted something on her Facebook page yesterday that moved me. Perhaps this is what brought her to mind today:

“I want to thank God even for the afflictions, pain, hardships and discouragement I have met with over the years, for through them I have realized God’s ever-loving presence no matter how hard things may be.”

Amazing. I just bet you this woman has faith that runs through to her marrow. I’m sure that with each new dawn, she has fresh hope. Because she has to… for her boys. They are her life. This woman has to look to God. She must believe and never give up… or else she would lose heart. But for her boys, she will endure. She will not lose heart for she believes that she will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. I’m sure she feels that way… she must. But I just have to wonder… would I be that strong? Could I be?

And so, today, I find it’s her birthday. Perhaps that’s why God brought her to mind this morning. And today, on her birthday, I wonder if she knows. Does she know how much she inspires the people who know her? Does she know what a light she is in this dark world? Does she know that she gives hope to each one of us? Does she know that I want to be just like her… and that I admire her… and that if I am ever surrounded by such circumstances, I hope and pray that I could stand in faith… as she does. I would hope that I could follow her lead, and be of good courage, and that I would wait on the LORD… as she does. And, does she know how very, beautiful she is… both inside and out? Does she know??

Today, it’s her birthday. And so today, I ask you to please surround her. Bathe her in prayer and lift her up. Because she deserves it. Pray for those boys, I implore you, and pray for this woman, who is exceedingly beautiful. Pray that she will rejoice and that she will endure. And pray that she will see the goodness of the LORD. Pray, so that she’ll know. See, I want her to know, for her birthday, just how beautiful she really is… to all of us.

And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5


Perhaps you’re familiar with the quicksand scenes in movies. Wikipedia states that during the 1960’s, nearly 3% of all films included such a scene… you know, someone begins to sink in mud or sand or clay and they began to flail about in a panicked way. Coincidentally, I just saw such a scene in Wreck-It Ralph. And inevitably, someone cautions, “Don’t move!” Because apparently, the more you move, the quicker you sink. But you know what… according to Wikipedia, this does not happen in real life. This type of scene is unrealistic and one being fully submerged in quicksand is purely fiction. And metaphorically, I find this to be true in my own life – spiritually speaking, that is.

For the past week, I have been fully submerged in God’s word and captivated by verses regarding His spiritual food and drink. And how simple it all sounds… “Come to me, eat and drink.” And it’s beautiful and seems so simple. But realistically and practically, how do you do that? How does one drink living water and feast on the bread of life? And at the risk of sounding over simplistic, I have found that it is just that… simple. Because eating and drinking and resting in Him is dependent on one thing… faith. Yes, we can come to Him, but “come” will take us only as far as our faith will carry us. So that’s the question… do we have faith in God? Do we really trust Him with our lives and every, single circumstance? Or do we still place our faith in man and precarious situations that can change at any given moment. And here’s truth… if we trust in the temporal, then we’re building on sand. And if we trust in only what we can see, then we end up focusing more on the problems at hand than on the God who can do all things. And when our troubles loom larger in our sight than God, we sink…

For troubles without number have surrounded me; my sins have overtaken me; I am unable to see. They are more then the hairs on my head, and my courage leaves me. Psalm 40:12

Only faith in God can hold us upright. And that type of faith can only be cultivated over time. I know, because after fifteen years of walking with God, I finally have a track record with Him. See, I am a worrier by nature. I tend to fret about the things I have no control over. It’s what I do. But now I can see, time and again, that God has always taken care of me. Always. No matter how many times I sank down in fear and anxiety about what might have been, God never let go of me utterly. He never released His grip on me, and by His grace, I never fully submerged in the muck of my making. God always brought me through it, whatever it may have been. And so it’s only now, after fifteen years, that I can see what’s taken place. It’s only through the years of walking with God, that my faith has been established.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6

I was amused when I read about quicksand. I’m no scholar, so I confess I don’t understand all of it. But pieces of it came together for me. Specifically, the fact that quicksand consists of three elements. One, a fine granular material (such as sand or silt), clay and water. And what a picture of our lives here! See, God is the Potter, and we are the clay. And we have unlimited access to His living water. And the sand? Well, “like sand through the hour glass, so are the days or our lives”… And what I find incredibly interesting is the fact that quicksand forms in loose sand when the sand is suddenly agitated. The way I see it, the sand is our every day activities. And the best we can hope for is that our sand (or circumstances) is loose so that we can walk freely, unencumbered. But it’s only when the sand becomes suddenly agitated that we’ll know how deep our faith runs. In other words, when the pressures of life begin to mount, and when our schedules become more compressed, and when we feel restricted in some way… will we sink or will we stand? Will our faith hold us up? Because the fact is, quicksand forms in both standing water or in upwards flowing water. See, even if we’re fully immersed in God’s free flowing, living water, the sand can suddenly be agitated. It makes no difference where we are (spiritually), because quicksand can form. As Jesus said, troubles will come. So, will our faith hold us up, or will the burdens of life threaten to bury us. Will we stand, or will we sink?

The truth about God & me is that I’ve not always stood. It’s only in looking back that I can see this. But now, I have a track record with God. I can see His hand upon my every step. And so, my faith is deepened. And I have hope… the hope that next time I will stand. We all can. Because whether we realize it or not, we have a firm place to rest our feet. For Christ is the solid rock. And all that other ground is simply sinking sand.

I waited patiently for the LORD, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure. Psalm 40:1-2

Isn’t it ironic?

It was just under three years ago that God’s favor rested upon me. He brought me into a land (my hometown), of which I was desperate to possess for years and years. I likened my time away to the Israelite’s years of wilderness wandering. I fancied that surely I must have felt similar to them as they anxiously awaited that glorious day… the day when God would usher them into their promised land. And it did happen… for them and for me.

For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams of water, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills; a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without shortage, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you will mine copper.” Deuteronomy 8:7-9

Today, my heart is stirred by this passage of Scripture on more levels than I can describe. Because it speaks of the promised land… a land that I always considered my home. And when I ponder how God moved me from there to here, I now see it’s been more of a spiritual move than anything. Because my relationship with Him has utterly changed since coming back. And it’s through these last few days that my undivided attention has been on His spiritual food and drink. So when I stumbled across the above passage, it nearly leapt of the pages of my Bible. I knew I wanted to use it in a blog because of references to plentiful food and water. But, the funny thing is – or shall I say the ironic part is – I didn’t plan on using last line! Because rocks of iron didn’t flow with what I had been feeling and thinking. But my eyes have been opened… And today, it’s specifically the last part I am captivated by.

This morning, I looked up irony and was surprised by the definition I found. I·ron·y  adjective – consisting of, containing, or resembling the metal iron: an irony color. What? I had never heard of that, and it’s not at all what I expected to find. And so, this new definition immediately brought Deuteronomy 8 to mind… because I remembered… I thought, “rocks of iron.” And so, I saw the truth. Because since returning to my promised land, irony is exactly what I have been mining. Honestly, I have been chipping away at a massive boulder of iron since day one. Because I am here in this land of plenty, and yet, I am not tapping into what’s good and abundant. See, my eyes have been closed. How ironic…

Irony is having your deepest, heartfelt prayer request answered, but upon entrance to your promised land finding yourself in a place you never, ever would have imagined… the deepest of pits. Irony is being delivered to the place you always wanted to return to; however, rather than a heart filled with joy, you find a heart full of bitterness. Irony is that on the heels of God’s goodness, you find yourself further away from God than ever. And irony is finding a home that you just had to have, and yet, there were issues with the well. There were problems with the water source. See, the water was dirty. Oh, there was plenty of it… only it was filled with bacteria. And perhaps what I thought was a coppery hue was in fact irony. Because it is so very ironic that at that time, I had unlimited access to clean, living water… only, I was completely overcome by anxiety and worry over an earthly well. I didn’t have faith in God, rather, I placed all my trust in a bank, and man-made methods, and UV lights, forsaking the One who brought me into the promised land to begin with. Irony is that I was torn up over a well, of all things, and the foul water that housed it… when there were streams of living water directly in front of my eyes. I just couldn’t see it. And so, instead of digging for living water, I mined for iron. And the deeper I dug, the wider the pit became in which I dwelt. Down, down I went as the troubles and worries heaped higher and higher.  Yes, irony is that upon entrance to your promised land you find yourself in the driest of deserts.

Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind, who makes human flesh his strength and turns his heart from the LORD. He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives. Jeremiah 17:5-6

Today, I looked up the definition of well. You know, the place where you expect to find water. And once again, irony abounds. Because according to Strong’s concordance, there are two meanings. One being, a shaft in the ground for extraction of water. And two, a pit, a depression in the earth with no focus on water. How funny is it that the house I wanted to buy within the borders of my hometown had a well full of dirty water… and how very ironic that I was so engrossed by the water shaft in the ground that I ended up falling into the deepest of pits – a depression – and I had no focus on the living water that could have lifted me out.

I bet Hagar could taste the irony that surrounded her. Do you remember her story? She was the servant by whom Abraham fathered a child. See, Sarah was tired of waiting on God for a child, so she manipulated His plan according to her time table. Sarah offered her maidservant to Abraham, and when Hagar actually conceived (which Sarah wanted), she became embittered. See, Hagar was able to do what she had not. And then, Sarah began to mistreat Hagar for the very thing she wanted her to do in the first place! Ironic, huh? Hagar ran away, but encountered the living God through her desert wandering. And by a spring of water, of all places. God sent her back, but eventually Sarah had her own child. Because things became worse, and Sarah commanded it, Hagar had to leave once again.

Abraham sent Hagar and her son away, but with provisions… a waterskin filled with water. They wandered through Beer-sheba, but inevitably, the water ran dry. And this time… Hagar didn’t see a spring of water. This time, she had no hope. And so, the child lay under a tree dying, and Hagar walked off a distance and wept. And then, when things looked the bleakest, an angel spoke to Hagar. He said, “What’s wrong, Hagar? Don’t be afraid, for God has heard the voice of the boy from the place where he is. Get up, help the boy up, and sustain him, for I will make him a great nation.” Genesis 21:17-18. And that’s when it happened… God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. Do you see? The water was there all along… Hagar just couldn’t see it. Her problems had grown so high, that’s all she could see. Because Hagar was dwelling in a pit of despair, she was blinded to what lie directly before her. And when the scales fell away, she finally saw hope. Because she was in Beer-sheba, which means seven wells. How ironic that Hagar journeyed through the land of seven wells, but couldn’t one of them.

Yes, it’s true that living water is available to us all. But here’s another truth… we must first see! Because living water, like H20, can surely run dry. We have to do our part… we must get up and sustain ourselves with it. Like Hagar did. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink. Same thing with us, spiritually speaking. We can be led to the edge of His live-giving river, but only we can take that first sip. What irony abounds in our lives… how ironic that we can be surrounded by God’s living water, and yet find ourselves dying of thirst. May it not be so.

May we refuse to remain in a dry land, and may we open our eyes to see! May we ever dig deep, tapping into the life-sustaining water that runs within us. And when we find it, may we gulp it down…

Again he measured off a third of a mile, and it was a river that I could not cross on foot. He asked me, “Do you see this, son of man?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I had returned, I saw a very large number of trees along both sides of the riverbank. He said to me, “This water flows out to the eastern region and goes down to the Arabah. When it enters the sea, the sea of foul water, the water becomes fresh. Every kind of living creature that swarms will live wherever the river flows, and there will be a huge number of fish because this water goes there. Since the water will become fresh, there will be life everywhere the river goes. Ezekiel 47:5-9



Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

My son and I just read about Noah and the ark. We talked about how the floodwaters surged on the face of the earth for 150 days, and how the ark finally came to rest atop a mountain. Eventually, the waters began to recede. And after 40 days, Noah opened the window of the ark to send out a raven… and the rest is history.

After the story, I asked my son how he would have felt being surrounded by all those animals in an ark for so long. And his answer took me by surprise. That’s because he said, “Hungry and thirsty.” What?? This is not at all what I expected, and so I asked him why he said what he did. And he answered, logically, “Well, 40 days and 40 nights…”

And quite rightly. Because after forty days without food and water, I, too, would be hungry and thirsty. My son seemed to have overlooked how long Noah was really aboard that ship, though… and obviously, we neglected to discuss food rations.

At any rate, I was stunned by my son’s reply. Because earlier this morning, I just thought about his early years. I smiled as I reminisced, picturing my son on his throne (otherwise called the couch), and how he used to make his demands. He would cry out, “Hungry! Thirsty!” And until I realized how very wrong it was, I used to jump at his every command, supplying him with food and drink as quickly as possible.

Eventually, I figured out I needed to teach my boy some manners, and how one should politely ask for food and water. But, for a time that’s just what I did… he would yell, “Hungry!” or “Thirsty!” and I would fulfill his need.

I find it amazing that this is where his little mind took him this morning. For in contemplating what life must have been like on that ark, he did not hone in on it being fearful, or dark, or scary, or perhaps exhilarating and exciting. No, it was physical needs that spoke to my son. And that makes me think of Jesus, who also had physical needs.

Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. And afterward, quite rightly, He was hungry. That’s when the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” See, although Jesus knew the reality of real hunger, he also knew a deeper truth… and it was this deeper truth He spoke of in Matthew 4:4.

Today, we know very well how real hunger and thirst are. Because when our throats become dry, or when our tummies begin to rumble, we can barely concentrate on anything else. Because those physical demands consume us. But, there’s another type of hunger and thirst that is every bit as real as the physical. Only this type goes so much deeper than the surface.

See, I have felt hunger pangs that Wonder Bread cannot assuage, and I have experienced a thirst that not even Evian could quench. And perhaps the woman we read about in the fourth chapter of John felt the same. Perhaps she, too, had an unquenchable thirst and a hunger for more than bread alone. Because although this woman went to the well to gather water, she gained so much more. Oh, she was thirsty, alright, but for something deep and internal…

I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:2

Jesus came to a town of Samaria, and because he was worn out from his journey, he sat down at a well. In the evening, a woman of Samaria came to draw water but Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” She was surprised that He spoke to her since He was a Jew, and Jews did not associate with Samaritans. When she mentioned this, Jesus simply said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.”

The woman wanted to know how to get this living water since Jesus didn’t even have a bucket and the well was deep. He said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I give him will never get thirsty again-ever! In fact, the water I give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.” She said, “Sir, give me this water…”

I’ve heard several sermons on this passage of Scripture. And because of circumstances, we can infer that this woman must have been an outcast. First of all, she was a Samaritan hated by the Jews even though they shared the same ancestry. Basically, she was from a mixed race and apparently racism extends as far back as we can recall. Not only that, she came to the well when it was evening… perhaps there was less chance of running into people she wished to avoid. And finally, this woman had been married five times and the one she lived with was not her husband.

I would bet this woman had some excess baggage and a closet full of skeletons. I would even venture to say she probably felt quite desperate. And hungry. And oh, so thirsty by the time she ran into Jesus. But then, something out of the ordinary occurred… for when the woman from Samaria tended to her daily chores, she encountered not just another man. No, this time she encountered a Savior. Right there in the midst of routine, she discovered Jesus Christ.

And though He was a Jew, Jesus did not turn the other way in an attempt to avoid her (which would have been the norm). No, He did not greet her with indignation or contempt or condemnation or judgment. Rather, He met her right where she was. He tended to her deeper needs. He spoke of spiritual matters and He told her how to assuage her thirst with living water.

I just have to smile when I think about my son in his more tender years. When his stomach growled, he’d yell out, “Hungry!” knowing that his mama would take care of him. And when his throat became parched, he’d call out, “Thirsty!”, again, knowing I was there to handle it. And I just have to smile when I think about what God would say to us, His own children, when we do the same today…

Because there are those times when I ache inside… times when I need something, but can’t say what. And it’s then that my starving soul must be crying out, “Hungry!” And His reply?

“I am the bread of life. No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry again…” John 6:35

And for those times when I feel as dry as a bone… times when I am near desperate for revival of my soul but just can’t seem to get there. It’s then that my insides must be screaming, “Thirsty!” And His reply?

If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! John 7:37

God is simply waiting for us to ask… because He is our heavenly father. When we’re hungry, He will feed us. And when we’re thirsty, He will give us drink. And if we open our ears to His word, we will hear Him.

For He says, “Come…”

Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost! Why do you spend money on what is not good, and your wages on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and you will enjoy the choicest of foods. Pay attention and come to Me; listen, so that you will live. Isaiah 55:1-3


So, what have you got?

If you’re alive and walking God’s green earth, then He has a plan for you… His thoughts are of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. And sometimes, that’s just hard to imagine. We look at our small lives, and wonder how in the world the God of all creation could possibly have a custom-made plan for each of us. Because we simply cannot fathom how we can be of any use to Him. We may even think, “I have positively nothing to offer.” Because times are hard, right? And the cost of living is rising. And because we’re so busy, time has become a commodity. Since we feel constraint, perhaps we hold back. But I know in my bones that holding back cannot be part of God’s custom-made plan. And as such, with regard to contributing to God’s kingdom and His plan, I just have to ask myself a question. I’ll pose the same to you. “So, what have you got?”

I can speak only for myself here, but at the basest level, I have me. And I have a pulse. And because I am living and breathing, I have God-given life. At the very least, I have that, right? And so, indeed, I possess life. And God has placed me strategically on this earth… for His purpose and His plan. He wants me to use what I have, which is life.

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness”- He has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may be revealed in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. 2 Corinthians 4:6-12

So I see. I am but a clay jar housing life, but also, so much more. Because inside, there is light and knowledge of God’s glory, and the face of Jesus through His death and His life, and God’s power. And I have spirit… the Spirit. All of this is contained within me, an earthen vessel, to be used for God’s glory. But He doesn’t want me to keep this treasure to myself, for it’s to be shared.

“The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”       John 7:38

God wants for me to lavishly pour out these treasures, so that they splash onto and into the clay jars surrounding me. Because what I possess should be doled out freely… until everyone I come into contact with is drenched. I can be emptied, poured out as a drink offering, without the fear of drying up. Because the Spirit is endless. And I believe. And so, this is what I have… a river within me, and there are those who thirst.

There’s the story about a woman who lived long ago. We find her in the fourth chapter of 2 Kings. She was near the end of her rope. Her husband died, her debt had mounted, and finally, the creditors were coming to take away her two children as payment. And so, she did the only thing she knew to do… she approached the man of God. And Elisha asked her, “What can I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” She said there was nothing… nothing, but a jar of oil. But whereas she saw only need, Elisha saw opportunity. He told her, “Go and borrow empty containers from everyone… from all your neighbors. Do not get just a few. Then go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour oil into all these containers. Set the full ones to one side.” And that’s what she did…

Long ago a woman filled empty jars with oil until there were none left. And that’s exactly what we’re supposed to do today. See, God fills us – His clay jars – with His own oil. We have the Holy Spirit. And He can fill us to the brim. He can pour into us until there’s no more room and we’re overflowing. Because the Holy Spirit is not a commodity… Its supply is limitless. And so, now, when we contemplate the question, “So, what have you got?” We can answer… We have a river. And it flows from deep within… streams of living water.

Yes, God has a purpose and a plan… for you, and for me. We are His earthen vessels, each one made to be filled. Until there are none left…

Many, mini deaths

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

It started with a promise. God said He would be found by me. But now I see. I have found Him… again and again. Because invariably, I begin to lose sight of Him. Inevitably, something will displace Him from my view. Something will claim all my attention, and ultimately, hold me captive. And it could be a good thing, or, it could be a bad thing. But ultimately, it makes no difference whether it’s good or bad, because if I’m holding to it tighter than God, then I will lose my grip on Him. And this is when I fall into captivity. When I loosen my grasp on God, I fall back into the pit of whatever it is that claims me. And there I stay… held down. Until, I remember. Him. For He has plans for me. I do have a future. And when I remember, I go to Him and I pray to Him. And He promises to listen to me.

God said that when I sought Him with my whole heart, He would be found by me. And this is true. Because when I turn to Him with my whole heart, He leads me back from my captivity. And this is my revelation. First, I must die. Because I am flesh and blood. And the flesh wants what the flesh wants. And if it’s sin I crave, then that sin leads to a spiritual death. And if misguided passion turns into obsession, then I have an idol I place above God. And if fear holds me down, then fear is my master… not God. Always, always, something begins to hold me captive. But the key that unlocks the the chains of my captivity is death… I must die to the want, I must die to the misplaced passion, and I must die to the fear. I must die… and there will be many, mini deaths in my life. For I have seen it. But behold, there’s beauty in my death throes. For with each occurrence, God brings me back to life. He never fails. Each time, He breathes fresh breath into my heart and soul. With each agony, He revives me. He never lets me go utterly.

And each time God revives my heart, there’s an opportunity. This is part of God’s plan for me. Because someone may witness my death. Someone may notice the change in my demeanor. Someone may even wonder what set me free from my captivity. And that someone is the whole point. For they may need to know the truth… the truth that they may need to die, too. Many, mini deaths may ultimately set them free. And do you see? My death only mimics what happened over 2000 years ago when a tomb lie empty. What someone else witnesses through my life can point the way to the cross, to the tomb, and to everlasting life. Because many, mini deaths lead to many, mini revivals. Someone will see a life, my life, resurrected.

And so it’s clear to me now. See, throughout my many years with God, I may have gotten “carried away” by something. And really, it’s happened more times than I can count. But God has been so faithful. Because with each banishment, I began to wither and die. And the longer my captivity, the drier I became. And eventually, I became so parched, I had to cry out for His living water. And that’s when I neared death, spiritually speaking. And when you’re that close to a spiritual death, you realize what’s really important. You don’t want to stay there, and so you realize you must die to whatever it is that holds you down. At least it happened that way for me. And so, I called out. And He kept His promise for He heard me. He listened out for my cry, and He gathered me from where He banished me. He brought me back to where I was first carried away captive – into exile. And He brought me back to life… again and again. Each time I neared a spiritual death, He picked me up and carried me… all the way to the cross. It’s at the foot of the cross where I find my life renewed… again and again.

And someone will see this… that’s the whole point. For it’s part of His plan. For me and for you. It’s through our many, mini deaths that someone will be led to new life. And my hope and prayer is that all who see will be carried to the cross… right there with us.

There’s a heartbeat…

Most of us have seen the dramatic scenes in movies… there’s a traumatic event, and someone ends up lying on the pavement. A person hurriedly approaches the lifeless form, and then drops to their knees to help. An ear is pressed to the chest in expectation… surely it will be there. And then yes, we hear the proclamation. We find there is hope, for “There’s a heartbeat.” And it was yesterday in Sunday School that I realized this happens in a spiritual sense, too. Because I felt the very same. I felt a quickening of my heart that made it’s way to my ears… the kind that thuds all the way through your body… the kind that lets you know that God is in deed there with you. It’s the kind of thudding that comforts you… because it lets you know, “There’s hope, for there’s a heartbeat.”

I don’t know who’s stuck with me for the duration of this blog, but if anyone has, they have seen a rollercoaster of a spiritual journey in just a few short months. In a minimal amount of time, my life has depicted both highs and lows. It’s a life that’s reflected fullness of faith. But then, perhaps some doubt peeked through. There have been mountaintop experiences where there is fullness of life. Only to be followed up most recently with a darker period. See, I had fallen deep into a pit of gloom… surrounded by sadness, loneliness, and well… just plain depressed, I guess. I felt silence on all fronts and couldn’t quite say why. And honestly, for a short while, I felt as if God were absent. It’s as if His presence were no where to be found. Until yesterday, that is.

Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember You from the land of Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me. The LORD will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night- a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:5-8

It was yesterday morning when I began reading the book of Esther, and something stood out. See, there was a king who issued a command to his queen. He commanded that she come before him, but she refused. And when he sought counsel from his wise men as to what he should do with his queen, the wise men said this, “Vashti is not to enter King Ahasuerus’ presence, and her royal position is to be given to another woman who is more worthy than she.” This caught my attention as I glimpsed a nugget of truth here. But I had to tuck it away until later because it was time to get ready for church. It wasn’t even a half an hour later that I declared to my husband that I was through with something. There was a nagging feeling that had followed me for quite some time, but I always pushed it down deep. Perhaps down deep into that pit of gloom that I found myself. But yesterday, I made my decision. Enough.

And so, an hour later in Sunday School, I was surprised by a deafening thud in my chest. Because that roaring of my heart hadn’t made its appearance for so long. And oh, was it ever music to my ears. Because that bump, bump, bump was the Holy Spirit. He touched me yesterday morning. And I so needed to feel His touch. See, I’ve been sad and lonely. I’ve been feeling separated from everyone and everything, but most importantly, I’ve been feeling separated from God. I’ve been sulking in a deep pit of gloom… but thankfully, it doesn’t matter how deep I go, He can still reach me.

It’s true that I went down for a time, but God didn’t let me sink too low. He called to me while I was in the deep, and so, I learn that He is really is faithful. Even when I’m not. Because He reached down and touched me. And as Psalm 42 proclaims, I find that He is in fact the God of my life. Because He spoke to me through His word and His touch. See, I made a decision before I left my home yesterday morning. It was a nagging thought I had carried with me for over a year now. But I kept pushing it down. And my realization yesterday morning was that God told me to do something over a year ago. But I procrastinated… why, I was just like Queen Vashti, who refused to do the bidding of King Ahaserus. My King gave me a command, and I rationalized it away for so long. And so the truth of the matter is, I’ve been living in sin. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin – James 4:17. All the silence… all the loneliness… all the depression… could this be the root of it?

There is no soundness in my body because of Your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my sins have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear. Lord, my every desire if known to You; my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart races, my strength leaves me, and even the light of my eyes has faded. My loved ones and friends stand back from my affliction, and my relatives stand at a distance. I am like a deaf person; I do not hear. I am like a speechless person who does not open his mouth… Psalm 38 (various verses)

I try to write out a Psalm a day. It doesn’t always happen, but when I do so, I pen them in order… one right after the other. And the above happens to be my Psalm for today. In my Bible, it’s referred to as a Prayer of a Suffering Sinner. And so, I see the truth about God & me. It’s my sin that weighed me down, it’s my sin that caused the separation from God, and it’s my sin that caused the silence. And sin that I carried for too long caused the light of my eye to fade. Why, it extinguished my very life. But He is the God of my life, so there is hope. Because although sin may have flooded over my head and pushed me down deep into a pit of gloom, God was right there with me. For His Spirit resides in me. And it was the breakers and billows of His living waters that swept over me. Deep called to deep in the roar of His waterfalls, and He spoke to me through His touch. And with His ear upon my lifeless chest, I heard Him as He proclaimed, “There’s hope, for there’s a heartbeat.”

You are not alone!

When I was nineteen, we were three. There was Shannon and Gracie and me, and we were always together. I loved them fully, and when they were with me… I was never lonely. Because I had my best friends. And I can’t remember if it was when I still lived at home, or when I joined the Air Force that we gave each other pet names. Shannon was pretty much the leader and was christened “Wise One.” Gracie, who was petite and quiet natured, became “Little One.” And me? For reasons I can’t recall, I was “Lonely One.” I had forgotten that till just this morning. Loneliness… it touched me then and it’s touched me now. And so I see, this must be a recurring pattern in my life.

I am convinced that there are no accidents or coincidences. I fully believe that we find ourselves in circumstances over and over again… until we get it. And so, rather than sweep this unwelcome feeling under the rug by filling my life with as much activity and business as I can possibly manage, I want to understand this feeling. Why should I be lonely? As I contemplate the last two blogs, it’s apparent that I am. I am once more that vulnerable young girl of nineteen… once more, I am “Lonely One.” God has brought me to a place where I am surrounded by silence. In more ways than one. I work from home, and rarely get out amongst people. And as time passes, the once frequent voices of old friends have almost completely hushed and stilled altogether. And then there’s God. I haven’t been hearing from Him lately. And so, loneliness has nestled down into my heart once more… I am utterly, “Lonely One.”

You know, I don’t think we’re made to be alone. God Himself is three in One. He is Father, and Son and Holy Spirit. He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” And after man was created, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is like him.” After Eve made an appearance, man said, “This one, at last, is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called woman, for she was taken from man.” It’s Genesis 2:24 that says “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.” And so, there was Adam and Eve… and God Himself chose to fellowship with them. He walked with them in the cool of the garden.. they were three.

I believe it was after I met my husband when I began to refer to myself as, “Lonely One No More.” See, we became one flesh, and for quite some time I was filled. But, as time wore on, I had bouts of loneliness. First, we moved away from family and it was just us. We did make friends at first, but when one moved turned into another, and then another… well, new friendships waned. My husband worked long hours and was away most evenings and weekends. My karaoke machine became my best friend, as I had a party for one just about every Friday night. My telephone was my other best friend because I made frequent calls to those I loved and missed. We were three, my Karaoke machine, my phone, and me.

Loneliness began to fill my soul as the years marched on. And so, today I’m surprised that I find myself here. Because I am in my homeland… surrounded by family members. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful child. I have been blessed. And yet, “Lonely One” is etched on my heart. And this time, I want to know why.

Here is truth. In all the years that I spent away from family and loved ones, I was never, ever alone. Because what Jesus told His followers holds true today… “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17. I have the Spirit with me and in me today, just as I did all those years ago. And all those years did not have to be forlorn. They could have been magical! There could have been so many special moments for just God and me. I could have shared hours of intimate fellowship… with God. But I chose not to. And I think that’s why I find myself here today. Thus the silence. I believe God wants me to know… I do not need to be lonely. He wants me to take the truth out of my head and let it seep deep into those lonely black holes of my heart. And it’s not just me that needs to know this. For we are not alone. That means you are not alone!

I have a choice… I know when the dark times are coming. I can feel them hovering on the outer edges of my contentment. And I can do one of two things. I can invite loneliness to my pity party for one (and whether I acknowledge it or not – both God and my husband are in attendance anyway). Or, I can cancel the party. I can ignore what God is telling me, or, I can let the truth of what He says settle into my heart. See, my husband and I are one flesh. And I have the Spirit of the living God residing in me. And so, I am not alone. God, my husband, and me… we’re three. I can be “Lonely One No More” if I want to be. And you? Only you can answer that. But if you have God the Father through Jesus the Son, then the Spirit of the living God is in you, too. That makes you two, and two are better than one.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12


I used to have a good friend named Carmen, and I loved her so. When I was in the Air Force, we spent nearly every day together for the span of a year and a half (or more). But the time came for her to move on, and we decided to keep in touch via journals. We bought identical books, and were to fill them and mail them to each other monthly. And we did well for quite some time. But eventually, as time and space grew too deep and wide, the journals stopped. Our paths moved in different directions not to intersect again, and today, I don’t know where she is. It was while I was stationed in Korea that I received her journal, and inside the cover she had written:

Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

I was delighted, and shared the poem with my new friend, Cheyenne. She laughed because I wasn’t familiar with the lines, as she knew them well. I believe she said she sang the tune in girl scouts. As with Carmen, Cheyenne and I became tight. I loved her, too. She was my roommate in Korea, and we shared everything. And when the time came to move on, as with Carmen, we stayed in touch for a while. She even made it to my wedding, and I visited her once down south. But alas, the ever widening time and space eventually divided us, and today, I don’t know where she is.

Early in marriage, I made two more friendships that were dear to me. One, my sister-in-law. We had so much in common and connected almost at first. I’m sure you know what I mean… when you meet someone and know immediately that you’re going to be the best of friends. It was my first weekend with her that we had to share a bed, but we stayed up till the early hours sharing story after story. That was seventeen years ago. The other friendship was with my cousin. Although we grew up playing together, it was after the Air Force that we became like sisters. She was another that I shared everything with, staying up till the wee hours of the morning swapping story after story. She was another that I immediately connected with. And those connections were priceless to me… even golden.

And so today, I find myself sorrowful. Because time and space is ever widening. Phone calls that used to occur multiple times a week have dwindled to once or twice a month, if that. And I feel like a piece of me is gone. Because they’re gone. See, I love these women, and yet for some reason, I am separated from them. There’s silence. And it’s no one’s fault… there are schedules, and events, and sicknesses, and before you know it, distance has inserted a wedge into something that was priceless and golden… something you thought you’d never lose. But I feel as if I’ve lost my priceless friends. And I miss them. I feel alone.

In the Bible, we read of a friendship. It was one of those golden relationships that neither time nor space could sever. And it was King David who had a such a golden friend… his name was Jonathan. The only problem was that Jonathan happened to be King Saul’s son. And enmity had grown between Saul and David, because David was to be the next king. Saul lost God’s favor, but David gained it. Because of that, Saul grew to resent David… so bitter was Saul that he even tried to kill David. But that was not so with his son, Jonathan. Quite the opposite took place. The King James version states it like this:

Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 1 Samuel 18:1

Another version of the Bible says that Jonathan committed himself to David. And that’s just what a good friendship is… it’s a commitment. A good friend will fiercely protect you and stand up for you when someone says the wrong thing. She will even place her life in danger for your sake. A good friend is your shelter and hiding place – she’s who you can turn to when you’re feeling blue. She’s the one whose doorstep is most welcoming, whose couch is most comforting, and whose hug is most warming. Her cup of refreshment never empties. And it’s that type of friendship that David and Jonathan shared. Oh, how David grieved for him when he died:

I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother. You were such a friend to me. Your love for me was more wonderful than the love of a woman (for me). 2 Samuel 1:27

Today, I feel sad. Because it’s here in the sounds of silence that I miss those who were so dear to me. It’s here alone that I wish I had my dear friends close. And so it’s here that I lamented to God, and told Him how I felt. I told Him that I’m lonely and that I need a friend. Because those golden treasures are hard to come by today. See, when you move back home as an older woman, the patterns of life have already been set. And they were set without you in them. Peoples’ lives are already in order, and thus, it’s hard to insert oneself into a life that already has a steady flow… And it’s so hard to meet another. Because, although new friends are good… it’s the old ones who are golden.

God has an answer for this. See, when it comes to old friends, He is my oldest. He is the most faithful and the most loyal. Because He knew me before time began. He is the One who knit my soul within the womb of my mother, and so He knows me best. And it’s to His doorstep I can run when I’m feeling blue. Because He will always be available… He is the One who will never leave me nor forsake me. And His cup of refreshment will never run dry. He tells me so through His word:

Your faithful love reaches to heaven, Your faithfulness to the skies! LORD, You preserve me and it’s Your faithful love that is so valuable. It’s in the shadow of Your wings that I can take my refuge. I can be filled from the abundance of Your house and drink from Your refreshing stream… You are the One who leaves the light on for me. (Taken from Psalm 36)

It’s true, I may be lonely today. And it’s true I may be separated from old friends by space and time and schedules. And if I want to be honest, I may even be wallowing in the sounds of silence. But the truth is, I have the best of friends. His name is God, and He is my Maker. And as far as relationships go, why, this one is golden.