Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Every morning when I wake up, I make a fresh pot of coffee. I don’t do this for myself, as I am not a coffee drinker. I do it for my family, who I love very much.

There was a string of mornings earlier this year when the coffee would just sit there. Dad was still in the hospital, mom was staying in Bethesda to be near him, and Grandpa would just forget. After several mornings of dumping out a full pot of coffee to make a new one, I thought to myself, “Why am I even doing this? No one’s drinking it. This is just a waste.”

(Quick side note: For some reason, the idea of reheating old coffee just doesn’t seem right to me. I think this is because even though I am not a coffee drinker, I absolutely love the smell. Mmmmm.)

God whispered to my heart, “My mercies are new every morning.”

This phrase comes from a passage in Lamentations, and I can’t think of his mercy being new every morning without continuing on to the next thought “Great is your faithfulness!” As the hymn says: All I have needed, your hand has provided. Great is your faithfulness Lord unto me.

How often do I forget that?

Whether I need it first thing in the morning, or after a long exhausting day.
Whether I need a perk up after a hard night, or just a cup to sit and savor the beginning of a new day.
Whether I need a cup or the whole pot.
If I ignore it and leave it forgotten on the counter.

His mercy is there. Waiting. He doesn’t need it. It’s not for him. It’s all for us, and he is faithful to provide it. Not yesterday’s leftovers. Nope. Brand new. Fresh brewed. Every morning.

Don't hesitate to pour yourself a cup if you need one.  I got this picture of myself carrying the guilt and shame of my failures and struggles, and how that's like someone who leaves the coffee forgotten on the counter, only to be poured down the drain. What a waste!

I brew coffee every morning because I want my family to drink it. God's mercy and compassion are the same. He wants us to be free of the burden. That’s why he went through all that trouble to brew the pot.

Why does he do it? Because he loves us.

A short thought to perk you up this morning.

"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." ~ Lamentations 3:22-24

Friday, August 23, 2013

Helm's Deep

Five-Minute Friday
This week's word: Last


Today when I ponder the word “last,” my thoughts take me to the definition of “last” as in “only.” And as soon as my geeky brain stumbles upon the word “only” I can’t help but think of the famous holographic message left by Leia in the very resourceful and capable R2D2 – “Help Me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

“Hope” leads me to a devotional I shared with my dad yesterday. I shared it with him because in addition to keying on a verse, it featured a quote by Marshall Foch: “There are no hopeless situations; there are only men who have grown hopeless about them.” The verse was “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18

My dad said, “Yep. That’s all I have left.”

Hope might be the last thing. The only thing. But what a strong thing! To me, hope is like my own personal Helm’s Deep. It’s where I can dig in and make a stand against 10,000 orcs.  Because no matter how dark the night, or how fierce the battle, there has never been an army that has breached the deeping wall.

Hope helps me last the night.

I hold onto hope and look to the east. Because on the 3rd day, as the sun rises, I know hope won’t be the last thing anymore.

Joy is coming too.

More on my Dad's story can be found in these posts: Psalm 23 - Part 2 - Surgery, Psalm 23 - Part 3 - Serenade

Thursday, August 22, 2013


A little while ago, I went to a dinner and music night at a local Italian restaurant. We were upstairs in one of the group dinner rooms, and since we weren't really in a performance venue, it was an unplugged and acoustic sort of night. It felt like we were in someone's living room -- warm and intimate and laid back. Just a lovely evening.

Then, in the middle of a song, the musician made a comment that really struck me. He paused for a moment, mid-guitar-strum, and apologized. He said, "There's usually an awesome solo here, but you'll just have to imagine it tonight since I don't have anyone to back me up." Without the context of the rhythm and the foundation of the chord progression, the solo just wouldn't make sense.

It reminded me none of us are meant to do this thing alone. By backing each other up, we also give each other the chance to shine.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t have known the difference. I was attending that evening as a tag-along to some friends and this guy’s music was completely new to me. Until that moment, it was another lovely song in a great set. But after the apology, I knew there was something missing, and part of me wondered what it was. It made me a little sad.

It reminded me there are people who have yet to experience what it feels like to encounter God’s profound, out-of-the-box love. They have no idea what they’re missing, and if we neglect the basics, then there’s no platform for them to hear the good stuff.

It reminded me context and good foundation make all the difference in the world. What we say and do matters, but the how and where and when and why are critical. "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, (or awesome guitar solos) but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." 1 Cor 13:1 Without the context and foundation of love, it's empty and abrasive.

I don’t want to be a clanging cymbal. I’d rather be a soaring solo.

Let’s let our lives be a love song. One where each of us has a chance to shine.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Find Your Greatness

Today I just wanted to share two bits of inspiration with you.  Because I've been rediscovering my discipline in two areas:  writing and running.  And without fail, whenever I get a little discouraged or start to compare myself with one superstar or another, one of these two thoughts will rise to the surface and encourage me to just keep on.

The Find Your Greatness Commercial from the London 2012 Olympics

"Greatness.  It's just something we made up. Somehow we've come to believe that greatness is a gift reserved for a chosen few -- for prodigies, for superstars -- and the rest of us can only stand by watching. You can forget that. Greatness is not some rare DNA strand. It's not some precious thing. Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing. We're all capable of it. All of us." ~ Find Your Greatness, Nike

The commercial pitch from the movie "What Women Want"
She's running. It's early, it's quiet. Just the sound of her feet on the asphalt. She likes to run alone. No pressure, no stress. This is the one place she can be herself. Look any way she wants, dress, think any way she wants. No game playing, no rules.

Then the commercial starts:

"You don't stand in front of a mirror before a run and wonder what the road will think of your outfit. You don't have to listen to its jokes and pretend they're funny in order to run on it. It would not be easier to run if you dressed sexier. The road doesn't notice if you're not wearing lipstick, does not care how old you are. You do not feel uncomfortable because you make more money than the road. And you can call on the road, whenever you feel like it, whether it has been a day, or even a couple of hours since your last date. The only thing the road cares about is that you pay it a visit once in a while. Nike. No games. Just sports.”

Whether you've hit your stride or you've had a stutter step or two,
Find your greatness today. No games. Just life.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


In the process of completing a massive crossstitch project, I had a deep thought:  details make all the difference.

I don’t know how familiar you are with the cross-stitching process, but first one has to finish the blocks of colors (some large, some small, some really convoluted, etc).  Once all that has been done, one has to go through and add the finishing details (mostly single lines that form the outlining and some smaller details).

The vast majority of time spent on a project is on the first part – stitching all the different colors.  It takes a lot of time and concentration (and counting).  And when that step is done a viewer could totally have a basic idea of the finished project.  It’s all there.  The outlines go by really quick, and with relatively little effort.  But the effect is extremely dramatic. The finished product goes from being “nice” to “wow.”

It made me think.  How much do the little details of our lives have an impact on the whole?

Sure, the big sweeping components take the most time and effort, but I think it’s those little details, the things that may happen at the last minute, or even almost as an afterthought that make all the difference.

They take the overall product from “nice” to “wow.”

I’ll borrow a story as an example:
A pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, reopened a church in suburban Brooklyn. The pastor stopped by on December 21st to find that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit. By chance, at a flea market, he happened upon a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church. As he returned he noticed an older woman waiting in the snow because she had missed her bus.  He of course invited her in to warm up.  After he’s done hanging the tablecloth over the hole, he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor," she said, "where did you get that tablecloth?" The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted there. To his astonishment, he found they were. These were the initials of the woman. She had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. She could hardly believe it, for the pastor told her how he had just acquired it.

There’s more to the story.  But the point is those little initials on the back of this used tablecloth made all the difference.  In fact, they end up reuniting this woman with a husband whom she thought had died 35 years earlier.

Those of you who know me better than others know my brain works in several directions at once.  So here’s part two of my deep, rambling, thought.

I was listening to Ravi Zacharias on the radio early one morning and he said something that deeply resonated with me:  “Worship is co-extensive with life.  It is a moment by moment experience.”  I wish I could take credit for putting that phrase together, but alas, I must borrow it from someone else.

There’s no doubt in my mind God is pleased when his children come together for times of corporate worship.  (Not too long ago, I compared church to a football game.  You can watch from home, but there’s nothing like the electric atmosphere of being in a stadium with all those people who are as excited about the same thing you are.  Corporate worship is like that.)  But while those times may be the equivalent of broad sweeping blocks of cross stitches, I think the beautifying details...and in all honesty, the real worship of our lives…is lived out in midst of our moment by moment experiences.

I had a passing conversation in the office, and as I was leaving I complimented my co-worker on something.  I honestly can’t even remember what it was now.  I literally saw her entire countenance change.  She stopped, gathered herself, and looked deep into my eyes and said, “Thank you.  I really needed to hear that today.”  You know those moments when you realize something deeply significant has happened?  It was one of those.

Just a detail…a passing moment…but I think God was up there somewhere doing the equivalent of a touchdown celebration.

I guess all of this is just a reminder to myself to pay attention to the details.  I know I can sometimes feel trapped or simply swept along by the everyday demands and existing schedule of my life.  But maybe that’s ok.  In the midst of the broad sweeping segments of life I can keep my eyes open for the chance to add details -- adding an outline or throwing in that occasional French knot (which I myself find extraordinarily challenging to cross-stitch.  French knots are my nemesis!).

These are the things that will take life from “nice” to “wow.”  And that’s really the reaction I’m going for anyway.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah. ~ Exodus 1:15

This is it. The beginning of the epic saga that includes Moses’ birth, the famous 10 plagues, and the triumphant exodus from Egypt. In this whole story, we never learn the identity of the king of Egypt. He’s probably the most powerful guy on the face of the planet, but we never learn his name. Historians and Bible scholars all have their theories on which Pharaoh is the one we read about in Exodus, but no one really knows for sure.

In contrast, here are these two women – Shiphrah and Puah – whose names were deemed worthy enough of recording in God’s holy word. Why? Who are they anyway?

16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”

These women are the lowest of the low to Pharaoh. He probably charged them with their mission because he didn’t want to degrade (or bother) Egyptian midwives to do the job. They had more important babies to birth. But he knew these Hebrew women were perfectly positioned to do what he needed, and who would dare to disobey him?

17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.

Their fear of God was greater than their fear of Pharaoh. And despite being women…even worse, Hebrew, slave, women…they took a stand. They didn’t let their position or the pressure put on them keep them from doing what they knew was right.

18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

Can you imagine being in their shoes? They had just defied the most powerful man in the world, were caught red-handed, and are now standing front and center with his anger staring them in the face.

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

What kind of excuse is that?! And Pharaoh buys it! I can just imagine him, a powerful, pampered, man, suddenly squeamish and disgusted by the subject matter at hand.

This story concludes: 20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

They didn’t just live to tell the tale, they got a happy ending! (And part of me wonders, since it’s mentioned so specifically – were they older women who had trouble having children before this? Or were they single women still wondering when all their puzzle pieces were going to come together? It doesn’t really matter. What matters is God saw their faithfulness and lavished them with his favor.  He loved them so much that he gave.)

Their story inspires me. It’s a reminder that greatness isn’t always measured by position or power. Heroes don’t always get chapters and books and epics dedicated to their name. Sometimes they simply sparkle in the context of a single verse.  They may seem small, like mustard seeds. But their faith moves mountains.

That’s how God does things. He uses the foolish things to shame the wise and the weak things to shame the strong. He calls us by name and uses us exactly as we are -- with our exact skill set and in our exact position.

Midwives who saved a nation? Sounds unlikely. But it’s totally true.

Who are Shiphrah and Puah? Ordinary women, who had the audacity to stand up to the most powerful man in the world.   They are bright beacons of faith who simply did the right thing, and their bravery is the catalyst that sets the stage for the rest of the Exodus story. They stood up in the path of reckless hate and came away the victors.

Who are they? These women are heroes!

Take that Pharaoh.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Not long ago, I added a mandolin to my menagerie of musical instruments. There are a few things I find super fun about it.

It’s tuned the same way as a violin, which means even though I’m fairly new, I kinda already know my way around. In case you’re not familiar, a mandolin’s design is like someone took a violin and made it into a guitar – there are 8 strings, a flat bridge, and it’s strummed. So I can pick out familiar melodies and fake my way through finding chords. Sometimes it can be a challenge to isolate the string or note I want, but it’s an enjoyable one.

But you know what’s really fun about a double stringed instrument? Tuning it! Once I get one of the twin strings in tune, it’s almost easy for the other one to follow. That doesn’t stop me from using my tuner to be sure both notes are right on the money, but I’m serious. If one of the two is in tune, I can use my ear to bring the other one in line.

It’s like…I’m dating myself here, but do you remember the THX start-up noise? Here it is for reference.
It’s like that: dissonance at the beginning and resolution at the end. (And I always think it sounds a bit triumphant.)

Somewhere in the midst of tuning, I got to thinking about the importance of good friends. People who help you stay in tune, because they have their heart fixed on the same note.

Everyone should have at least one of those.

That’s not to say you both don’t rely on an official standard to make sure you’re actually in tune with the right thing, and not just each other,  But if you’re both pursuing the same thing, it becomes easier to stay on the path.  What was it Paul said? “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

The power and importance of good friends.

Thank you mandolin.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The Lord has promis'd good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
~ John Newton, Amazing Grace

This time when I sing the song, I don’t think of “portion” as in food.  Instead I dwell for a moment on the idea of “portion” as in land. 

I know where I stand, and where I can make a stand.  I have found my place worth defending, and my hill worth dying upon.  This is my firm foundation. My bulwark never failing where I dig in and find refuge. 

My thoughts jump to fields and farmers. 
This portion is a partnership.

"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work." - Emile Zola

Like land, I need to work on it (Philippians 2:12):  Hoeing, planting, watering, and weeding.  Breaking ground, removing stones, irrigating if there isn’t enough rain, keeping away crows and other rascals – carefully and faithfully tending and protecting.  Because this is my portion.  And if I take care of it, it will yield back a harvest…my portion.

My thoughts jump from fields to paddies.

I remember Malcolm Gladwell’s explanation of the seemingly simple, yet extremely complex rice paddy.  It’s a demanding form of agriculture that is only successful through constant labor.  Everyone has the same allotment.  It’s up to each farmer to work from dawn till dusk, all year long, to get as much as he can from his little bit.

"No one who can rise before dawn three hundred and sixty days a year fails to make his family rich." ~ Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

That's dedication!

My thoughts jump one more time from rice paddies to English manors, where lands are called estates and they are both an inheritance and a responsibility.

“I’ve given my life to Downton. I was born here and I hope to die here. I claim no career beyond the nurture of this house and the estate. It is my third parent and my fourth child. Do I care about it? Yes I do care.” ~ Lord Grantham, Downton Abbey

And I don't doubt him one bit.

May I always have the conviction of Lord Grantham and the work ethic of a paddy farmer.  To tend my portion, and in turn find my portion there.

As long as life endures.

Monday, August 12, 2013


God promised he would provide for our needs, but he never promised a path without risk or danger. (He cares too much about our character, and his story.)

He’ll feed you, but he's not Safeway.

We don't always get to pick and choose what we want. Chasing down bargain deals or stocking up on favorite foods.

God's provision is wild and crazy ride. Always enough (and always what we need), but full of adventure and adrenaline. He'll come through every time.  He can be trusted to keep his promises.

But hold on tight.

It might be one stop shopping, but it's not sterile and predictable.

"He is not a tame lion." ~ C.S. Lewis

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Whirls and Swirls

In my quest to reconcile all my bloggy thoughts, I came across this fragment I wrote way back in 2008. (My first year blogging!)
I've discovered as much as I talk about wanting to relax and cut back from things... I really don't know how.  There are too many people to love, and too many adventures to have, and too much that I'm still supposed to accomplish.  I suppose I come by it naturally.  You should see my father's schedule!    

It's easy to get overwhelmed by it all. Sometimes all I really want to do is move to the country and have my house with a lake and a horse named Glorfindel.

Still in the midst of all the swirling around that life tends to do, I'm encouraged by this verse: “Many are the plans in a man's heart but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.”

No matter what I'm juggling in my world, I know that ultimately God's got it all handled.

That is a calming thought indeed.
I’m happy to report, since I first wrote those words, I’ve learned and grown.  I’m better at saying no.  I’ve pruned some things and protected others.  Let go of old dreams, and discovered new ones.  I’ve also experienced the truth of the statement:  “Life has many ways of testing a person's will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” ~ Paulo Coelho

But through it all – the feast and the famine, the wait and the race, the clear and the uncertain, the familiar and the strange – no matter how much life whirls and swirls, it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Just Walking

If you had to go to a café in a strange city for lunch…let’s use New York as an example (a place I am not familiar with at all)...or even better, let's use Venice (I love it, but it's a complete labyrinth).

You’d have a couple options for successfully reaching your destination.

One option, you could purchase one of those cool city maps—the ones that are laminated and fold up nicely and have points of interest highlighted. You could walk, or drive, through the city with your nose buried in the map, hoping that you are interpreting it correctly.

You’ll probably reach where you want to go eventually. But it might be a stressful experience, full of uncertainty.

(If you still have Venice in your imagination, the maps are worthless anyway. Seriously! There are no accurate maps of the city. So no matter how closely you follow your printed guide, you'll be surprised by streets that are supposed to be there but aren't, or by ones that are there but not on the map. I imagine it feels a little bit like being at Hogwarts as a first year and trying to get used to the changing staircases.)

Option two:  Go with someone who knows the city.

You get the benefit of all their “street smarts” and all you have to do is be along for the ride. 

Maybe you’ll be introduced to a special nook or cranny along the way.  Maybe you’ll get flagged down by a friend and treated to an unexpected conversation. You’ll certainly avoid the parts of the city that should be avoided and have the flexibility to re-route around traffic or other unplanned obstacles.  But regardless of whether the journey is meandering or straight to the point, it’ll be free of worry and full of peace.

Do we really just want a nice, laminated, road map from God? Really?

I think what we really want, and what He wants, is to go on the adventure together. God’s will isn’t about finding the café…it’s about walking with him to get there.  Trusting there's a reason for the route even if we don't understand the scenery.

Putting our little hand in his big one, and just walking.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


It was the last day of my very first trip to Jinja, Uganda.  As a final treat, my friends arranged for us to travel by fishing boat to the source of the Nile river.

I was super excited.  After all, this is the beginning of the longest river in the world!  I didn't know what to expect, but my imagination had conjured up a few images that were very waterfall-like.  I couldn't wait to see the impressive beginning of such a mighty river.

The reality was underwhelming to say the least. 

There's no fireworks.  It's not big and impressive.  In fact, if someone hadn't pointed it out to me, I probably would have missed it.  (It didn't help that it was even more tame than usual that day.)

Here's my picture from that day.  Can you find it?  Here, I'll help.  See that little bit of extra rippling in the water next to giraffe's head. 

Yep.  That's it.

That's where everything changes and this body of water goes from being Lake Victoria to being part of the longest river on planet Earth.

It's just a constant steady bubbling where the contained lake takes direction and starts flowing.

But the more I thought about it, the more I it grew on me.

May I also be driven, steadily and consistently, by something that just bubbles up within me, urging me to break from whatever limits might be surrounding me.  It doesn't have to be fireworks.  It can be a still small voice -- speaking words of vision and direction and leading me to a brighter tomorrow.

We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love. ~ Ephesians 4:15, The Message

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Move that bus!

Do you remember the show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”?  For a while, it was one of my favorite shows. I even went through the necessary song and dance to record episodes on VHS each week to be sure I didn’t miss a single, inspiring story.

It was funny, creative, unique ...and touching. The team didn't just redecorate. They dug beneath the surface to discover the unique needs of each family and designed a new home with those people in mind. It was personal.

They kept the layout of the house familiar for a special needs child, installed a two-story gym for a family of basketball players, gave a salon to a lady who gave makeovers in her bathroom, built a secret tunnel for a little girl to be able to get to her parent's room (she was a cancer survivor...and her parent's room had always been her "safe place,"), and provided one family with a table big enough to allow them to all sit down and share dinner together. They were amazing.

The team brought healing into families’ lives by giving them a new start and a place to call their own. They set up college funds, burned mortgages, packed sheds full of toys, and filled closets with clothes and kitchens with appliances... and hearts with joy. The love that spilled out of every episode was overwhelming.

I loved it.

But in a way, the show wasn’t about a house at all.

It was about a bus.

The whole show hinges on three words.  It all builds up:  the team brainstorms, a community rallies, a ramshackle house is destroyed and rebuilt, and the whole time the family has been away at Disney World.  But now the whole street is lined with people and there’s the family (mom and dad and their four foster kids and the three kids they adopted and the two kids they took in and their nine dogs), with Ty looking more excited than Christmas morning.

It all leads up to this moment.  Those three pivotal words:

And then…the bus…moves.  And when it moves, what do you see? You’ve been waiting the whole show.  You see the house, right?  We’re waiting for the house.


When the bus moves, you don’t see the house.  When the bus moves, the cameras are stuck on the faces of the people.  The bus moves and the cameras stay.  And you don’t see the house. You see the tears and wonder on their faces. You see a family going crazy with disbelief and joy and gratitude and shock.

We’ve spent an hour waiting to see this house.  Now the bus has moved and we still don’t see it.

Or do we?  I think we do.

We see the house on their faces.

The bus has moved and the cameras stay and the family is going nuts, and just looking at them…you know it’s not a pup tent or one of those little utility houses you can get at Home Depot and put in the back yard.  You know something awesome is over there.

You haven’t seen it, as it.  But you’ve seen it, on them.

It got me thinking.

What do people see on my face?

I live in a world that can’t quite see Jesus or the beauty of the Gospel.  But I’ve seen him.  He’s awesome!

And the camera’s on me. And it's on you too.

That’s what being a believer is all about.  It's knowing Jesus and letting the world see him on your face.  So they can go, “You’re crazy.” …“No really, you’re completely bonkers.”  …“What are you looking at?”  …“Wow.”

Giving credit where credit is due:  This post was enhanced by Louis Giglio's message "Let's Work It Out" delivered at Passion 2010 and included on the Passion: Awakening album.  Give it a listen!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


A year after the 2012 Olympic games, I still find this commercial inspiring:
"Luck doesn’t get you to the Olympic games. You can’t wish your way onto the podium. You can’t buy it, or hope for it. It’s not enough to dream about it. Luck didn’t get me to the Olympics, I swam here." ~ Ryan Lochte

Whatever your dream, have the courage and tenacity to make the swim.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Steel Sieve

You’ve heard the phrase “a mind like a steel trap”? Well, with all the chaos I’ve been juggling over the past year, I feel like my mind has become something of a steel sieve. (I’m certain turning 30 didn’t help.) I try to mitigate it in one way or another, but the truth is my thoughts sometimes hide from me with greater skill than…well, something very good at hiding.

While I haven’t been blogging, I’ve still been thinking bloggy thoughts. I’ve tried to follow the advice of the many wise and inspired people who came before me and write down the thoughts when I have them: on a post-it, on a notepad on my nightstand, on a note in my iPhone, in a draft email, even in a draft blog post! But by the time I get back around to reading my little prompts, I can’t for the life of me remember what they’re talking about.

A steel sieve I tell you!

I have quite a collection of these idea fragments. On one hand, when I look at them I feel a little disheartened as I desperately try to recall what I’m supposed to remember. (For example: “turn lane light”? Huh?)

On the other hand, the smorgasbord of words and phrases and half-formed sentences stand as a testament to the running dialogue I share with my beloved Savior.

A very heartening thought indeed!

Maybe the window of opportunity has passed for some many of those thoughts to become published posts. They’ve slipped through the sieve. But I’m making peace with that. Because as I look back, I’m encouraged to see not the sieve, but the evidence of God’s voice consistently speaking into my everyday moments. More than that, each fragment is evidence not just that he’s speaking to me, but that I’m hearing him too.

May I always have ears to hear and eyes to see.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Five-Minute Friday 
This week's word: Story


I was working in the kitchen.  Cleaning and clearing and organizing as I tend to do.  This was early in Dad’s recovery period when he was at Walter Reed and Mom was staying at the Fisher House in Bethesda to be close to him.  So it was just me, Grandpa, and Midnight at the house.

In any case, I was keeping myself busy with one thing or another when Grandpa called in from the living room.

"Hey Regina?"

"Yeah Grandpa?"

"I think you’d make a pretty good moonshiner."

Well that just stopped me in my tracks!  What an unexpected thing to hear! I know he's been watching a lot of that Moonshiner's show, but I can't make heads or tails of what he's getting at.

"Why is that Grandpa?"

"Well, you’ve gotta move pretty quick to stay ahead of the law, and you’re real good at zipping around."

My puzzled expression morphed into a wide grin.

"Thanks Grandpa."

I just love him.  Sprinkled throughout my nondescript and ordinary days, I get these precious moments of quirky brilliance.  They’re stories I treasure, and the kind that get better with each retelling.

Plus, if things don’t work out for me in corporate America, my Grandpa just might be on to something.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Psalm 23 - Part 6 - Conclusion

Yesterday I shared about being unafraid, no matter where in the world my travels take me.

Also because of my travels, now more than over, I am so very acutely aware of the greenness of my home pasture, and the overwhelming abundance of the goodness and mercy that surround me. 

I see it in the way God's blessings overflow on the trip themselves and the relationships that have emerged from them, and I’ve seen it in the ridiculous amount of richness which is so often invisible and taken for granted in the context of my American lifestyle. And as crazy as it may sound, I really struggle with that at times.

But there in my struggle to reconcile these things together, when my heart feels attached to and torn between so many places and people, when I feel guilty about where I get to live and the smallness of the things I feel like I can do in comparison to such great needs – God is right there to breathe peace into my chaos. 

He takes my troubled heart that yearns so desperately to change the world and meet each need and leads me beside still waters.  Yes, I live in a green pasture.  He makes me lie down there. I am right where he wants me to be and he will continue to lead me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

He reminds me that “my cup overflows” is not just true for me, it’s true for all of those He shepherds. 

It is not my job to solve every problem or meet every need, but to be obedient to his voice and his leading.  After all, if I can feel these things this keenly, how much more does he feel them and long to lavish his extravagant love and provision on his children? He frees me from my burden and reminds me he can handle all the heavy lifting.

So let me just conclude by saying: For me, for my father, for my ever expanding spiritual family, I know “the Lord is our shepherd,” and that keeps me relentlessly optimistic.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Psalm 23 - Part 5 - Unafraid

In the past few years, my world has been rocked, expanded, and profoundly changed through short-term mission trips.

I’ve been in Uganda during election season when riots and violence abound. Last fall I had the honor to travel with my mother to Myanmar, which is actually classified “hostile” to the Gospel and where simply owning up to your faith can be a tremendous risk. And I just returned from Rwanda, 5 minutes from the Congo border, where racial and national tensions are healing, but are still very real.

…and in all these places, I have never once felt afraid. 

Deep within my heart is a peace because I know whatever location or circumstance in which I find myself, He is with me, and if He led me there, then He also prepared for me to be there.

Just let that simmer for a moment. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Psalm 23 - Part 4 - Correction

As you might imagine, stressful times can bring moments of friction into even the closest relationships. 

While it has been my honor and true joy to serve and support my family as we face this huge challenge (if you're just tuning in, my dad had a major brain surgery in January), I can also vividly recall a night when I was frustrated with my mom and praying for God to correct and deal with her, as well as feeling lonely and disconnected from my friends and all the things that normally make my life so vibrant and colorful. 

In the midst of that moment, two scriptures came to mind, followed by a line from Psalm 23.

"Love keeps no record of wrongs"

My flesh wanted to add this new instance to a long tally of offenses, but 1 Corinthians reminded me to throw the record out the window and show love instead.  No matter how many times my mom might do that thing that hurts or frustrates me, I need to love her enough to show grace and patience, every time.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice"

I’ve missed a lot of things this year.  There’s a string of Instagram photos out there that when I look at them, I see a Regina-sized hole or wish I had a Regina-sized equivalent.  But Romans reminds me I shouldn’t begrudge or be jealous of other’s joy.  I should be happy and share in it, even if that’s from afar for right now.

…And through the sting of these two bits of conviction and correction, I heard God reminding me "your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Which is true.

While the correction or reminder might sting, they are also a comfort.  They help me to let go of the hurt, the frustration, and the jealousy, and find comfort in choosing love and patience and gratitude and joy instead.

The strength and truth from this passage and others, have allowed me to walk through this journey with relentless optimism and a deeply-rooted, pervasive faith that God has always been, and will always remain completely in control.  My dad, my whole family, is in good hands.  Most importantly, my dad is still here with us and getting better every day. 

My cup overflows.

...the journey continues tomorrow.