Monday, December 29, 2008


I've been doing some reflecting on the past year and all that God has done for me. There is so much to thank Him for. This has been such a difficult and painful year in many, many ways. Yet it's also been incredibly beautiful and amazing as I've seen the Lord take care of me and hold me through everything.

It's been a year of paradox, everything upside down. Acceptance in the middle of rejection, joy in the middle of sadness and grief, beauty out of desolation, abundance in the midst of poverty. I have been very blessed in so many ways that really matter.

But there are times I wake up in the morning and I find myself empty, with a restless longing for something more. I don't always recognize this deep need in myself; it usually takes a while. After attempting to satisfy this heart hunger with entertainment, other people, chocolate, even spiritual activities, or trying to distract myself with new ideas, work, housecleaning, facebook, whatever -- I find myself just getting frustrated and the longing has only intensified.

I've even found myself thinking that if my husband's heart changes and he returns to us, then I will be satisfied and have my heart's desire. Or someday when I'm doing what I was created for and fulfilling my purpose in life, then I will be filled up. I just have to wait for those things. But the honest truth is that I will still be hungry and empty even then.

What I'm realizing is that this deep need is my heart's longing for God. He has done so much for me and shown me so much of His love for me, especially this past year, that I would have thought that would be enough. But I'm discovering that it's not. I need more.

I was created empty. That is my supreme offering to the Lord -- me, with all my lack, my failure, my inability, my weakness, my empty heart. I'm seeing that it is His great joy and pleasure to fill me with Himself. That's what He's been waiting for. And maybe the truth is that this inner restless longing is simply His gift to draw me into a deeper intimacy than I can imagine. And I will find that when I have Him, I have everything.

So I wait -- empty and thankful for it, trusting Him to fill me and satisfy me when He wants to and in His good time.

"Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Some things to ponder --

To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do - to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst — is by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life itself comes from. You can even prevail on your own. But you cannot become human on your own. - Fredrick Buechner

I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am. - John Newton

Maybe when we truly trust God we are empowered to trust others, because the outcome of our trust -- for better or for worse -- is in God's providential hands.
- Jason Brian Santos

Not only do we not know God, except through Jesus Christ, we do not even know ourselves except through Jesus Christ. - Blaise Pascal

The issue of your ‘name’ is the concept of your essential being by which you live. God has His own name for us all. And to live out of your in-God-identity you must refuse the many names, labels, roles imposed on you. If the enemy can superimpose a ‘name’ on you . . . you have become who you are not.

This matter of identity is crucial to live for God in a hostile world. If you take your personhood from the world, you lose God. If you take on your 'new creation' - your new existence, the world cannot oppress you or own you.
- Martha Kilpatrick

I am more me now than I used to be.
- Angela

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation."
2 Cor. 5:17

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Tree

I've inherited a Christmas tree from the friends whose house I'm renting. Back in July, when I first moved in, I noticed the tree in a box in the garage. I was thankful that we would have a tree but didn't give it much thought since December seemed so far away.

But now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it's time to prepare for Christmas. So the plan was for the kids and I to put it up and decorate it in the evening. I had visions of us sipping hot cocoa and admiring our beautiful tree.

After school, the kids and I went to Walmart to buy a few bulbs to decorate our Christmas tree. All our normal Christmas decorations are in storage in another state along with everything else. So I wanted to get a few items but not go overboard.

We got home, ate supper and I told my son he could start bringing in the tree pieces. After multiple trips to the garage to get branch after branch, I started to realize that this tree may be bigger than I thought.

As it began to take shape, I knew the truth. This was God's tree. He provided it. So it stands to reason that it would be MASSIVE!!!! The thing is huge!!! It stands at least 7 feet high, by far the largest tree I've ever decorated or owned. It's also very wide. The small area of the living room I had picked out for the tree to stand in was not going to work. So my kids and I rearranged the furniture and now our tree dominates a corner of the room. (Or should I say, stands regally and majestically.)

My 20 bulbs are hardly visible. You need binoculars to find them in all the branches. I'm going to have to get more decorations, because my tiny collection isn't going to cut it. (By the way, that picture I included is not The Tree. I don't have a camera so had to cut and paste.) Anyway, we'll have to finish decorating after I make another trip to the store.

But it was just hilarious looking at that thing last night. It's like way overkill for one woman and her two kids. I know God was laughing. When I look at that tree, I see the lavishness of God. It's a reminder.

I only ask for little things and expect small things from the Lord. But He has a much grander, more immense and MASSIVE plan in mind and THAT is what He wants to give me. He just asks me to trust Him and wait and dream BIG.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His mighty power at work within us." Eph. 3:20

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wider and Higher

A few days ago, I posted about writing my mission and vision statements. Upon closer examination I discovered that my mission statement doesn't quite fit anymore. I must have grown when I wasn't looking -- or else became more aware of myself. Either way, it doesn't fit.

So I went back to the beginning -- "Who am I, Lord, and why am I here?" He reminded me of a few key facts, such as the name He calls me and some verses He gave me years ago. After fiddling around with it, praying, pondering and reading bits of my mission statement help book "The Path" by Laurie Beth Jones, I came up with something.

But I've continued tinkering around with it and now I can't see the forest for the trees. So I think I need to stand back from it all and get some perspective. But as frustrated as I feel that I haven't conquered it yet (which means I can't check it off my to do list) I'm also thankful that it's unfinished.

This is important to me. A mission statement needs to fit well and be able to go the distance. My week has been busy and I've been living on the surface. So when I have time to go deep into the heart of God, then I will come away with more of a sense of my mission.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Times of transition and upheaval provide the greatest opportunity for vision and change. When I first came to Florida with my whole life falling apart, my aunt signed me up to attend a workshop on finding your purpose and passion. I went with no clear idea of what I was going to do or even what I was getting myself into. I came away with a mission statement and a dream of what I want to do with my life.

But survival dictated that I set everything aside and focus on finding a place to live, getting a job, putting the kids in school, etc. So I set that on the back burner, pulling it out from time to time in conversations with people or when I would get frustrated with my current work.

The dream continues to build and expand, taking clearer shape and focus. I've become more aware of the need to write this out in a vision statement. That can be daunting because there is something very powerful about writing down what you really want and describing what it looks like. It can make you even more dissatisfied with what is. It can also be hard to live in the in-between place of not yet.

Yet the act of writing a mission and vision statement can become like a prayer and opens up the heart to believe that God will give what I truly long for. Looking at Jesus and the way He interacted with people, time after time, He asked them, "What do you want?" I believe He still asks and waits for us to be specific and fully aware of our heart's desire, trusting in His goodness and love to make it our reality.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


We went to watch the Endeavor launch last night with some friends from church. My kids and I had never seen a space shuttle launch. We were a several miles away up the beach. But we had a great view.

The whole night sky lit up like a sunrise. And then it was off and what an amazing sight! We watched it go all the way across the sky, passing in front of the full moon. Then the booster rockets fell off and we heard the sonic boom.

It was AWESOME!!! I've never seen anything like it. The thing that really hit me was that there were people on top of all that fire. We watched until it became just a tiny speck of light, like one of the stars.

How very small we are, yet how infinitely precious!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tongue in Cheek

To my loyal reader (and anyone else who happens to stumble upon this page) I just have one disclaimer to make:

If you find yourself listening to Jennifer Saunders' famous "I Need a Hero" song from Shrek 2, then let me just make this disclaimer -- No, I'm not totally devoid of musical taste.

But on my last post, I kept thinking of that song and decided to add it to my playlist just for the fun of it. Somehow it seemed to fit the mood I was in. And I'll keep it on until I get tired of it. (Oops! I guess that does say something about my lack of musical taste!)

My kids are getting annoyed with me for continuing to play it. Oh well, they've always known their mother is a little strange -- harmless, but strange.

Happy listening!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


"In my distress, I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help.

I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for Him but did not find Him. I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares. I will search for the one my heart loves.

Look! Here He comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.

Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes out before Him and consumes His foes on every side. His lightening lights up the world. The earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the LORD of all the earth.

He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under His feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; He soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness His covering, His canopy around Him -- the dark rain clouds of the sky.

The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. The voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, the voice of the LORD shakes the desert.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.

My lover spoke and said to me, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me."

"Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace, you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth, and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

For your Maker is your husband -- the LORD Almighty is His name. The Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.

The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit -- a wife who married young, only to be rejected," says your God.

"My dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside. Show me your face, let me hear your voice: for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely."

I held Him and would not let Him go. This is my lover and this is my friend."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


A friend recently gave me the book by Ruth Myers called, "31 Days of Praise." It was especially meaningful to me to read in the preface, Ruth's story of how she lost her husband to cancer and was left a young widow with 2 small children to raise. If there is anyone who is familiar with shattered dreams, heartache and loneliness, it's Ruth. So when she talks about praising God in the midst of darkness and suffering, I find myself paying attention because she's been there and she knows.

There is something incredibly powerful about praising the Lord when your whole world has fallen apart. I discovered that for myself several months ago. One morning I got up early because my heart was in turmoil and pain and I couldn't sleep. I just could not believe that anything good could come from my husband filing for divorce and abandoning me and the children. But as I sat wrestling with God, the Holy Spirit asked me to praise Him.

What? Praise Him for this?? How on earth could I do that? But He gently insisted. So as a simple act of my will, with all my emotions protesting loudly, I opened my mouth and through tears I began to praise Him. I thanked Him that my husband had rejected me. I thanked Him for the divorce papers that he had filed. I thanked Him for all those things that felt like little spears thrust into my heart. I thanked Him that He is God.

The strangest thing happened. It was like a quiet, peaceful warmth came over me. My heart was at rest and didn't hurt anymore. It was surreal. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I knew something was different. All that pain, fear, anger was just gone. So I sat for a while just enjoying the quiet in my soul and the love I felt from the Father.

After some reflection, I began to understand more of what had happened. When I choose with my will to praise God even for the things that are destroying my life and causing so much pain, it's like my spirit by faith reaches through the dark and grabs hold of the hand of Jesus. I lay hold of the truth that "all things work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose." I am trusting that His heart is good towards me, even when He lets me suffer. I receive hope that even this horrible thing in our lives, in the hands of Jesus, is turning out for our highest good.

Although since that day, I have had many times of anger, pain, fear, doubt, loneliness -- you name it, I have not forgotten that simple truth. I might spend a few days wrestling with God, but eventually, He gets me back to that place of surrender and praise.

And interestingly enough, I'm still married. My husband moved to another state and will have to refile when he becomes a resident. Although nothing has changed in his heart about our marriage and my circumstances as a virtual single mom are still the same, yet the Lord continues day by day to give me reason to praise Him.

Surely our griefs, He Himself bore and our sorrows He carried. Isaiah 53:4

Because You are my help
I sing in the shadow of Your wings.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand holds me up. Psalm 63: 7,8

Monday, October 13, 2008

Little Toad a.k.a. "I Need a Hero!"

I'm terrified of frogs and toads. Have been my whole life. I know, it's silly. Go ahead and laugh.

My mom thinks she passed it on to me. But I believe it also may have something to do with being raised in Colombia, the country with the most species of frogs in the world. I have memories of living in the boarding school for missionaries' kids in the middle of the Andes foothills. During rainy season, the frogs and toads came out in droves (or so it seemed to me.) They found their way in everywhere.

You'd go to take a shower and be washing up, all vulnerable and exposed. Then you'd turn around and see, in the folds of the shower curtain, a tree frog!! So now there's the dilemma of "How do I get out of here without that THING jumping on my little naked self?!!"
I learned to pray fervently in those times. "Please, Jesus, don't let it jump on me! Please, Jesus, get me out of here! God, why did you create frogs?? What were You thinking?" Really devout prayers for a 9 year old girl.

It didn't help that I lived in the dorm with a bunch of MK boys known for their mischeiviousness. If they had discovered I was afraid of frogs/toads, my life would have become a living hell. But fortunately, I wised up early on and acted all nonchalant when one of them would hold up a disgusting specimen of toadhood right in my face. Some comment like, "Oh, cool toad!" would take the fun out of scaring me with them and I was able to walk by inwardly shivering in revulsion but keeping my phobias to myself.

As an adult living in the midwest and southwest US, I've been able to avoid amphibians for nearly 20 years. But now that I'm in Florida with a home that is surrounded by nature, they're in my face again. Every time it rains, the cutest little toads start hopping through the yard. I say they're cute as long as they stay away from me. But last night was a different story.

I had tucked the kids in bed and they were already sound asleep. When I walked into my bedroom, there was one of those little toads! He was still cute but in a sinister way. I watched in horror as he hopped under my desk. I had some work to finish up on the computer and how could I sit there at that desk knowing at any moment, he could hop his repulsive little body onto MY FOOT??!! My mind raced as I frantically thought of how I could get him out of here and still stand safely on the bed. There was no way. I had to do something.

I toyed with the idea of spraying it with roach poison. But what if that didn't work but only made it really sick?? I didn't want the creature to suffer needlessly. I thought of my son's machete. I could try to kill the thing. But more than likely I would hack the floor to pieces in the process and then would have a disgusting murder scene to deal with. (Not to mention the guilt.)

So I did the only thing any phobic loving mother would do. I woke up my brave 10 year old son and patiently waited for him to come to full consciousness. Then I earnestly begged for his help. He valiantly came to my rescue and caught that toad with a cup and piece of paper. I stood on a chair and opened the front door while he tossed it out safely into the night. I told my son he was my hero and I meant it from the bottom of my heart! He said, "Sure, Mom" and went back to sleep.

I realize that some day I will have to face my fears. Who knows? Maybe I will grow fond of frogs and toads and even let my kids keep one as a pet. Someday, when Jesus comes back and there is peace once again between woman and amphibian. But for now, me and my phobia will keep a watchful eye out for little hoppers in the night. And if I see one -- well, I know where I can find a hero.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


It's hard to be going along, everything seems to be normal or at least okay. Then out of the blue I get blindsided with grief. It can be the smallest thing that sets it off. But it just hurts and there's no getting around it. I guess the good thing is that it's not so overwhelming or constant as it used to be. Now it's more of an occasional thing.

Sometimes I get angry that I'm in this limbo place -- married, but not. For all intents and purposes, I'm a single mom, but with none of the freedom or benefits, (if you can call them benefits.) I'm angry that my husband gets away with sinful irresponsibility and there is no justice, and I have no recourse. Yet at the same time, I don't want full justice because then the kids and I would lose out forever. He would be gone. So I want God's justice, but with mercy. Mostly I just want God to change everything and make it all new.

I find myself beating my head against God's brick wall. He has allowed these things into my life and He keeps me hedged in so that the only place I have to run is to Him. And so I pour out my heart to the Lord:

"O Lord God of my salvation, I cry out to You by day. I come to You at night. Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer. Answer me for I need Your help. Protect me, for I am devoted to You. Save me for I serve You and trust You.
You are my God.
Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on You constantly.
Give me joy, O Lord, for I give myself to You.
O Lord, You are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for Your help.
Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord, hear my urgent cry.
I will call to You whenever I'm in trouble and You will answer me.
For You are great and perform wonderful deeds.
You alone are God.
Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth.
Grant me purity of heart so that I may honor You.
With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God.
I will give glory to Your name forever,
For Your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death.
Send me a sign of Your favor. Then those who hate me will be put to shame, for You, O Lord, help me and comfort me."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Backyard Symphony

The other day I was sipping coffee in my favorite chair, venting to God about -- well, lots of things. So He invited me to go outside to my backyard. I sat on the weathered picnic table in the mid-morning sunshine and continued with my complaints and worries. He said nothing, just sat there next to me, listening. After a while, I stopped talking and started to listen too.

That was when I noticed a sound that had been in the background while I was busy talking. It was the sound of hundreds of hidden cicadas playing a symphony. The music swelled and rose to a huge crescendo and then faded to almost quiet.

I thought they were done. But a small group on the left side of the yard continued playing. Soon they were joined by more until the sound filled the air with this amazing insect music. Occasionally, they were joined by a blackbird solo or the buzzing of a bee. The song rose and fell again and again.

I was completely fascinated. We both sat there listening to this beautiful concert of hidden musicians. I didn't see a single one, not even the bird. The only creature life I could see were a couple of butterflies chasing each other around the yard or the occasional lizard rustling through the grass. But even that sound seemed to fit in with the rest of the music as if it were planned.

Then it began to dawn on me how much enjoyment the Lord was getting from the music of His little creatures. He listens to them all the time and never gets tired of it. He pointed something out to me as we sat on that table. Every single one of those cicadas were simply being themselves. They weren't doing anything out of the ordinary, only what they were created to do. Each one by itself would still make amazing sounds. But when they all joined together, being themselves, living their lives to the fullest, the beauty of their symphony leaves you filled with awe and wonder.

I sat there for a little longer enjoying the music and reflecting on what He showed me. It was a lot to take in. I don't think I realized how much the Lord enjoys it when I'm being myself, especially with Him. But how much greater is His delight when His children are being themselves together, living freely in His love. To Him it's the most beautiful music in the world.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Our Song

God and I have a song.

I heard this for the first time on the radio a couple weeks ago when I was discouraged and felt very alone. These lyrics describe so much of what I've been through and experienced over the past 2 years. So it was deeply meaningful to me to have the Lord single out a song to communicate His love for me. And the funny thing is that several times since that day, when I've felt unloved or alone, I'll pour out my heart to the Lord. Then I'll turn on the radio and guess which song is playing? Ha! That's right. So here it is -- the lyrics to our song:

"You're Not Alone"

by Meredith Andrews

I searched for love,
When the night came and it closed in
I was alone,
But you found me where I was hiding.
And now I'll never, ever be the same,
It was the sweetest voice that called my name,

"You're not alone, for I am here.
Let Me wipe away your every fear.
My love, I've never left your side.
I have seen you through the darkest night.
And I'm the One who's loved you all your life,
All of your life.

You cry yourself to sleep,
'Cause the hurt is real and the pain cuts deep.
All hope seems lost
With heartache your closest friend, and everyone else long gone.
You've had to face the music on your own,
But there is a sweeter song that calls you home,

"You're not alone, for I am here.
Let Me wipe away your every tear.
My love, I've never left your side,
I have seen you through the darkest night.
And I'm the One who's loved you all your life.
All your life, Faithful and True forever,
My love will carry you.

You're not alone, for I am here.
Let Me wipe away your every fear.
My love, I've never left your side.
I have seen you through the darkest night,
Your darkest night.
And I'm the One who's loved you all your life,
All of your life."