Monday, December 28, 2009


His divine power
has given us
we need
for life
and godliness

through our knowledge of him
who called us
by his own glory
and goodness
2 Peter 1:3

Seeing Him in these gifts,

  • afternoon sunlight through the trees
  • laughing with friends
  • quiet, restful solitude
  • grace from those who see me at my best -- and worst
  • red wine and artichoke spinach dip
  • walking through memories that no longer hurt
  • tasting life more sweet now than bitter
  • unexpected words of encouragement
  • generosity from a stranger
  • beauty in music

holy experience

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Gift

Merry Christmas!

Today has been simply wonderful in unexpected ways. (smile) God is so good!

I've been thinking of having a giveaway for some time now. First, it was going to be on my blog anniversary, next, a 100-post celebration. But both dates passed by unnoticed by me until it was too late.

So here we are at Christmas -- what better time to have a giveaway?

I have a special present to give one of you lucky readers. I'll ship it anywhere in North America (including you guys in Mexico and Canada). To enter, leave a comment on this post from now through December 31st. On New Year's Day, a winner will be randomly selected (my kids will pick your name out of a hat) and I'll announce who you are.

Feel free to post about my giveaway on your blog. The more the merrier!

Many blessings,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sacred Ordinary

He who entered the chaos, dirt and sweat of common humanity and became Emmanuel, God with us,

still enters in to my common human existence with the gift of His Presence and makes the ordinary something sacred.

Thanking Him for these gifts
  • an unhurried morning with no school preparations (I'm loving Christmas break!)
  • seeing my kids unwind, relax and play
  • clean dishes and clean laundry
  • sipping coffee and looking at our Christmas tree
  • vanilla sugar body lotion
  • one secret, longed-for dream made real
  • the smell of brand new books
  • the joy and excitement of giving
  • watching a friend teach my son to use power tools
  • a new garden taking shape
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." John 1:14

Sunday, December 20, 2009



Let the stable still astonish.
Straw–dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.

Who would have said: “Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens and earth
Be born here, in this place?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says, “Yes,
Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born here
In this place.
- Leslie Leyland Fields

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Meaning of Shepherds

It's that time of year to reflect on the Lord's birth and what His coming means.

Recently, some friends sent me a newsletter with intriguing insights into why God chose shepherds to be the first people to hear of the Savior's birth.

Here's what they say:

"Have you ever wondered why God first announced the birth of His Son to a few shepherds out on the Bethlehem hillside? Why not wake up the people in Bethlehem? The town was overflowing with people there to register for the census. I am sure that they would have been just as impressed as the shepherds. The account says that the angel said it was good tidings of great joy to ALL people. But to look at it from a human viewpoint is to miss the whole point.

God could have chosen any town in Israel for his son to be born. Why choose that particular town? Bethlehem was a cattle town but more specifically a sheep town. The sheep raised in Bethlehem were raised specifically for sacrifice in Jerusalem not far away. Many people that came to Jerusalem from the remote corners of the country would buy their sacrificial lamb there, which had been most likely born and raised in Bethlehem.

The night that Jesus was born the shepherds on the hillsides around Bethlehem were out there because it was lambing season and they were out there to protect and inspect the lambs that were born because they had to be without blemish to be of any good for sacrifice in Jerusalem. Are you starting to get the picture? Baby Jesus “the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” was born in the very town where the sacrificial lambs are born and the same shepherds that are inspecting the newborn lambs are sent by God to inspect His lamb. They find him acceptable and even worship him. These wild looking men in rustic clothing with sun burnt faces and smelling of animals and earth are acknowledged by God, at this point, to be the experts for the job at hand. The people in town were not qualified. I marvel at the painstaking and detailed planning that God went to, in order to make sure that there was no mistake as to why Jesus had been sent to earth." -Tim and Bunny Cain

I found this very fascinating. One of the things I love about God is how He uses symbolism to communicate deep truth. It's the poet in Him, I think. But I love catching glimpses of that in His Word, in nature, in His interactions with us.

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out!" Rom. 11:33

(photo courtesey of

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oh Fudge!

A time-honored Christmas tradition in our home is The Making of the Fudge.

Fudge can be complicated. Or at least, I have found that to be the case.

Some fudge recipes require you to be a rocket scientist to pull them off successfully (which we all know I. Am. Not!)

Over the years, I have made some memorable batches of fudge. Like the time a friend and I met one afternoon to bake our families a bunch of Christmas sweets, including fudge. Since she had never made it before and supposedly I was the expert, she was ready to learn. I had made a point of buying a brand new candy thermometer from Walmart, just for the occasion.

We followed the recipe to a T, carefully stirring the boiling fudge, watching the temperature rise. We waited and waited. Why was it taking so long? Finally, we decided to pour it out into the pans anyway because surely by now it was ready. About half an hour later, we tried to slice a piece to sample. The fudge had turned hard as a rock! The knife wouldn't even go in! Needless to say, we didn't have fudge that Christmas. Apparently, my brand new candy thermometer had a crack in it. What a disappointment! (Sorry Becky. We're still friends, right?)

But all the trials and tears were worth it when I stumbled on this melt-in-your-mouth and oh-so-easy chocolate dream. Now this is a fudge recipe! (And no candy thermometers to mess with either.)

As my Christmas gift to you, here is my secret (well, not anymore!) never-fail fudge recipe.

The Most Amazing Fudge in the World

1/2 C. butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 T. milk
2 pkgs. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 pkg milk chocolate chips
1 C. butterscotch chips
1 7-oz. jar of marshmallow cream
1/2 tsp. almond flavoring
1/2 tsp. vanilla (the real deal if you have it)
1 C. chopped walnuts

Line a 13x9 pan with foil and butter it.
In a heavy saucepan, melt 3/4 C. butter over low heat.
Add the can of sweetened condensed milk, 3 T. milk, semi-sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. Stir constantly till melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in butterscotch chips, marshmallow cream and flavorings, mixing well. Add in chopped walnuts (if you're the nutty type. I am, but my daughter isn't so I may leave them out this year.)
Pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate until set. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.

(The advantage of having the foil-lined pan is that you can lift out the fudge and slice it up nice for serving. Not everyone cares about little details like that so really, it's up to you.)

Well, there you have it. How easy is that? Are you ready to go make yourself some fudge? I know I am!

Enjoy! Let me know how it turns out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Counting. . .

The gratitude list continues.

Giving thanks for these gifts
  • misty, foggy mornings
  • handwritten letters from a child I've never met
  • hugs out of the blue -- "just because"
  • twinkling eyes
  • silent creativity late at night
  • the wonder and beauty of a Christmas tree
  • "death by chocolate" desserts (ooh-la-la!)
  • that God likes tiny
  • painful surrenders that end in freedom and peace
  • peppermint and lavendar (aaahhh)

"By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me -- a prayer to the God of my life." Psalm 42:8

holy experience

Sunday, December 13, 2009


This morning God came near.

Sometimes you hear ancient, well-known truth like it's for the first time.

"...the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

"... I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20.

The nature of love, the nature of God is to give.

Jesus gave Himself for me. Jesus gives Himself. He does not take, He gives.
What does that mean?
What does that look like?
Not just on that cross, laying down His life, but now. He gives Himself in intimacy.

I cannot understand this being in relationship with someone who keeps on giving himself -- not sparingly, not hiding, not self-protecting, not withholding love and intimacy when I don't meet expectations. But always giving himself freely to me.

The more I think on this amazing truth, the more I realize how much it is outside my experience. But imagine what it would mean to live daily in the reality of this truth!

Something worth pondering.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


The week has been hard. We got home and hit the ground running.

Then one after another of us came down with the flu.

Emotions were low, energy was waning and it wasn't long before we had all reached the breaking point.

Today was truly a day of much-needed rest.

Most times I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to live as a mother on my own, doing the job of two people. It's not supposed to be like this -- yet here I am.

I know many people have done this before successfully. I'm glad for them. But this is my life, my children and my path. And sometimes the future scares me.

In the slow and quiet moments of the day, I lean in to the Everlasting Arms and let go of the burdens one by one. Let my frightened, overwhelmed little heart be held and comforted. Lift my face and look deep into the eyes of Him Who Sees me. Listen to His Spirit whisper truth I need to hear.

"Did you think I would leave you to handle this alone, Little One? I am with you. I am always with you. You go into a future I have made for you. There is nothing to fear."

Peace settles in and trust deepens.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. Isaiah 12:2

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gifts of Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful time with family in Virginia. It was a quiet week with no sightseeing in D.C., as I had planned.
But God's plans always seem to be just what we need.

Seeing His beauty in these gifts. . .

Girl Time

No words are needed

Breaking bread


Life and death

Sunrise in Virginia

Sunset in Georgia

The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3

Monday, November 23, 2009


We took a roadtrip from Florida to Virginia, stopping in the Carolinas along the way. It is beautiful this time of year, with still plenty of fall color to delight the eyes.

Arriving in Virginia late last night, we were greeted by lots of smiling little faces as cousins reconnected and we all exclaimed how much everyone had grown. My sister and family live close to D.C., so the plan was to do plenty of sightseeing during our holiday week.

But things took an unexpected turn this morning when I fell down the stairs. (Yeah, me, a grown woman, falling down the stairs!!) As I lay moaning and groaning at the bottom in a heap, the first thought running through my head was, "But I wanted to see the White House!" My sister reassured me as she held my swelling ankle that I still would get to see it even if she has to push me around in a wheelchair. We'll be heading out soon to the doctor, but I want to take a moment and give thanks. It could have been a lot worse.

Giving thanks for these gifts:
  • warm winter coats
  • helpful little hands waiting on my every need
  • a sense of humor
  • crutches
  • good times with family
  • laughter and more laughter
  • medical care readily available
  • safety and protection on the road
  • brisk fall weather
  • being still with God

Not sure what the Lord has in mind for me this week. But I think I'll have more time than usual to listen.

"Be still and know that I am God." (somewhere in the Psalms)

holy experience

Monday, November 16, 2009


Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:25,26

Praising Him for these things. . .

  • roses blooming lavishly outside my door
  • tickle time and group hugs
  • watching Atlantis speed across the sky
  • hearing my daughter pray for the astronauts
  • quiet whispers from my Beloved throughout the day
  • unexpected laughter
  • hot dogs and baby carrots
  • encouraging news from good friends
  • the excitement of anticipation
  • freedom from fear

holy experience

Sunday, November 15, 2009


My mom called with an update on Ana Maria, the 11-year-old Colombian Cinderella.

There's good news. Ana Maria was able to escape from her cruel step-mother and neglectful father and ran away to one of her schoolteachers. The teacher, fearing kidnapping charges, would not let her stay. However, she took Ana Maria to the Colombian child services agency where she has been placed in temporary foster care and her situation is being reviewed.

Thank you all for praying for this little girl. God is watching over her. My mom asked for continued prayer that the judge would rule to keep Ana Maria away from her abusive family and placed in a loving home.

"I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; God sends his love and his faithfulness.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth."
Psalm 57:2,3,11

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

After the Rain

Stepping out with my camera after the rain. . .

Sometimes words aren't necessary.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Multitude Monday

God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame
- Elizabeth Barret Browning

Seeing the beauty of God in these gifts:

  • solitary walks in tree-lined neighborhoods
  • sandhill cranes stepping with quiet dignity
  • box turtle meandering across my path
  • clean laundry piled high
  • refrigerator stocked with fresh vegetables and fruit
  • the scent of my girl's freshly washed hair
  • snuggles, snuggles and more snuggles
  • smile from a friendly stranger
  • new rosebud peeking open
  • comfortable silence

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits -- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. Psalm 103:2-5

holy experience

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I've begun writing down desires.

For me, letting myself want something has been a stretch. My habit of years was simply to accept my lot in life and not dream for more.
But our lavish God was not content to let me live in my gray world.

Many times in the gospels, people came to Jesus for help and He would first ask them, "What do you want?" Being God, He already knew. Yet He wanted to hear them say it.

As He began to ask me, "What do you want?" I found it hard to respond. There is something about answering His question that makes you own what your heart truly longs for in vulnerable honesty.

But when I allowed myself to desire and to tell the Lord these secret hopes, He began to give me what I asked. Even more than what I asked. And each time He does that, I am undone. I don't know what to do with this grace. He cares about my heart, and I am trusting deeper.

"The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you." Psalm 116:5-7