Joy to the Girl


Today I lit the first Christmas candle of the season, then began my morning ritual of banging the tea kettle against the sink, dropping a spoon on the tile floor and splashing boiling water around the outside of my mug. You’d think such precision of this daily routine would awaken me (there arose such a clatter), but instead I sit squinting at my Bible, pretending to read, as a flame flickers and sputters in my peripheral- my mind and the candle, coming to life.

Eventually, I find Psalm 116: “ I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy…He turned His ear to me…”

A piney scent drifts over the table.

I read on,

“…The cords of death entangled me… I was overcome by trouble and sorrow…”

I envision twisted, knotted strings of burned-out Christmas bulbs.

“…When I was in great need, He saved me…”

Careful hands untangle the cords, change out the bulbs, set them straight along the path.

I read a portion from Isaiah: “Come, let us reason together, says the Lord…”

And a question flickers to mind: Why would the Reason for the Season desire to reason with the unseasonably unreasonable likes of me? No reason; but love.

“…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow…”

Softly falling now, Comfort and Joy.

Not the tinseled variety, but from the Clear and Present Manger: the Evergreen Christ, Our Peace on Earth, and the only Hope of goodwill toward each other.

I’m finally wide awake from today’s morning ritual, which is no ritual at all, but reality; from Joy To The World,

Joy to this girl,

And to you.

Emmanuel means “God with us”


Pray Without Sleeping


Never give up praying. I was just reminded of this because as a mom of eight kids, I prayed a particular prayer 30-plus years. All that time, He was doing something; He was growing my kids up, so He could answer my prayer. Which was,

“God, please let me take a nap.”

He didn’t just give me ONE nap either. Nowadays, I can pretty much take a nap whenever I want.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m not kidding when I say I’m really encouraged by this answer to prayer. So all you loved ones I’ve been praying for, get ready- God is going to answer THOSE prayers for me, too.
Probably right after my nap.

Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not give up.*

Pray without ceasing.*

*Please find the references yourself- I gotta get that nap.

I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Phoned


I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Phoned

There are no words to aptly describe how horrible I am with All Things Tech. I lose phones. I drop them in toilets, throw them across parking lots, leave them at out-of-town restaurants, and drown them in pools and oceans. I forget passcodes and security answers. John just spent two hours with the Apple tech guy, reconfiguring my new phone because I’d forgotten all my pertinent information, but never once did he roll his eyes at me or say, “Are you some kind of idiot that you give me 5 possible answers to the security question, ‘What was the first movie you ever saw?'”
When the problem is finally resolved, he hands me my shiny new working phone, and what do I do to show my appreciation? I drop it on the floor. He quietly said, “Laura, take care of your phone.” Not with visible restraint, just gentleness.
I literally cried, and laughed, and cried. At my stupidity and his goodness. I’d be living in the dark ages, but for John, my Tech Redeemer. John rightly could’ve said, “Laura, you don’t deserve a new phone.” Yet he loves me enough to give me one anyway. That’s grace.

It got me thinking of the verses in the Bible that begin with a description of our sorry human condition of failure, sin and death, and then breaks the despair with this phrase: “BUT GOD…”

“We were dead in sin, BUT GOD…made us alive in Christ…” Eph. 2:1-4

“BUT GOD will redeem myself from the power of the grave, and He will receive me” Ps. 49:15

“BUT GOD is judge…”

Ps. 75:7

“BUT GOD knows your heart…” Luke 16:15

“…BUT GOD chose the foolish…” 1Cor. 1:27

“…BUT GOD…comforts the downcast, and comforted us…” 2Cor. 7:6

“… BUT GOD had mercy on…me also…” Phl. 2:27

“BUT GOD shows his love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ” Romans 5:8

There are too many BUT GOD’s to list here, but if you, like me, recognize your utter hopelessness to be anything, or do anything other than fumble and fail, remember “BUT GOD…”

His Eye is on the Jack Sparrow


You can tell I’m a preschool teacher by my classroom rules. I try to keep things simple, but each year I forget to mention a thing or two. Like, “We don’t lick the bottom of our shoes.”
In any case, there’s always a student whose goal in life is to see just how many rules can be broken. This little guy thinks I’m oblivious to the Lego man slipped into a pocket, a horn snapped off the plastic triceratops, or the puzzle piece forced through the heater vent.
I have a special affinity for little rascals- as I am one myself, so I try to encourage, remind of rules and consequences, and exchange elaborate high-fives for any movement in the right direction. But if a child is bent on destruction, I limit their access to activities and items that may be stolen or damaged, or cause them harm. The covert removal of freedoms goes unnoticed, but their world is a tad smaller than it was yesterday.
The Bible addresses those who think God does not see, or misconstrue His silence as approval. God does see, but most often He allows His created natural laws-like Cause and Effect, to take their course. He wants to save us from ourselves and the destruction around us, but He’ll not force our compliance. Instead, He sends warnings, engineers damage control, safeguards the Legos, and sets boundaries. We may be free agents in rebellion, but that perceived freedom restricts us from abundant life.
God’s forbearance should not be confused with poor eyesight. He’s seen it all, and He winces, and sometimes…cries.
“His eye is on the Jack Sparrow, and I know He watches me.”


Ps. 50:21

When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But I will rebuke you and lay them out in order before your eyes.

Psalm 94:7-15*

They say, “The Lord can’t see what we’re up to; their God pays no attention to us.” Think, brainless people; when will you get it? Does the God who set the ear in its place not hear?Does the God who made the eye not see? Does the God who teaches the nations and guides humanity to knowledge, not exercise just correction? The Lord knows the highest thoughts of the “experts”, and they are worthless.

How fortunate are those You discipline, O Lord, those You train by Your divine law;

You relieve them in times of distress, until a grave is dug for the bad guys. The Lord will not abandon His people; He will not turn away from those He redeemed.Justice is coming for those who do what is right and all the good-hearted will pursue it.

* from The Voice paraphrase



We hadn’t known the guy prior to his three-day visit with us years ago. I don’t remember his name, or why he came, only the irritation I felt coming home from work and having to step over his body stretched out before the T.V. in a nest of empty beer bottles, chip bags and an assortment of crumbs. Frankly, I was disgusted. Freeloaders. Ugh.

God knows just how I feel. I free-loaded off Him many years; feeling entitled, using all His blessings for my own pleasure. Whining when He blocked my plans, responding with,
“Lord, could you MOVE- you’re standing in front of the screen.”

Like Ps. 73:22 says,

“I was senseless and ignorant; a brute beast before you.”

I still have freeloader tendencies. When prayers go unanswered, I fix my eyes on the empty screen, take control in hand, and click every possible button, surfing the channels of discouragement, sadness, and my own brokenness, as if I serve a remote God. All the while, He calls from the kitchen for me to come and dine.

Lord, forgive me for making idols of unanswered prayers and unchecked emotions. May I “forget not all Your benefits”, but may benefits -given or withheld- never be idols distracting me from loving You, for Christ’s sake.

Forgive me for free-loading off the One who frees me from my load.


Let ALL that I am praise the Lord; May I never forget the good things he does for me.       Ps. 103:2

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  1Pet. 4:10

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.                    1 John 5:21

I am afraid that …you’re minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  2 Corinthians 11:3

The “Three Things” Game


I’m playing  my “Three Things” game to jumpstart my heart:

I will look for three things of beauty

Pray for three people worse off than myself  (which is more like 3 billion+)

Meditate on three promises of His faithfulness

Focus on three things in which to be thankful

Sing three songs of praise, and

Serve and encourage three people today

For “This is the day the Lord has made…”

Even THIS day, a day when my heart whispers,

“Go crawl in a hole. Make it six feet deep”.

That thought gets kicked to the curb, along with every other godless musing and instead,

“ I will rejoice and be glad,”

because joy is the great resistance movement; a choice, a choice to trust- not in rehabbed circumstances or people, or a new and improved me, but in this One Sure Thing:

Christ who never changes, never gives up, never fails, and comforts us in every situation.

I play my “Three Things” game because beauty, truth, praise, and serving resets my heart and mind to who He is, what He’s done, and that, in fact, He has the whole world- and this day- in His hands.


Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going.  He always keeps His word.  Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do, but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:25 (The Message Bible)

This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.  Ps. 118:24

The Lord will comfort her…and make her wilderness like Eden.  Is. 51:3

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord; whose trust IS the Lord.  Jeremiah 17:7

It is good to sing praises to our God for it is pleasant and praise is beautiful.  Psalm 147:1

Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.  Ps. 96:6

For all God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding, “Yes!”  2 Corinthians 1:20

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  1 Thes. 54:14

Yours and Mine


I walked into a crowded restroom, and seeing all the stalls were taken, I moved to the handicapped door. But just as I opened it, a woman clearly needing that stall came through the restroom entrance, so I stepped away. Her response was,
“What is it with you people? Why are you so afraid of using our stall? Do you think we have cooties or something?”
Due to the number of people listening, and my shock, I said nothing.
Yesterday, while I was walking downtown, a tourist was taking a picture of a popular local icon. Since I was about to walk right in front of it, I stood aside so as not to photo bomb. His mocking response was, “You don’t have to hide – I wasn’t taking a picture of YOU!”
Like a dog heeling by her Master, I heard a firm warning,
“Leave it…”
So I smiled and walked past, but I felt the deep burn of wanting to bark and bite his ankle.
Geesh. People are so easily offended these days; and I’m very offended by there offendedness.
Which is to say, I haven’t “reckoned the old man dead” or, in my case, “old woman”. I have not “made myself nothing” as Jesus did; and I’ve forgotten to pick up my cross and follow Him. It’s such a teeny tiny cross compared to His. It’s as if Jesus, hauling a world’s worth of groceries out of the car, asks me to carry the single roll of toilet paper, and I complain it’s too heavy. What if I believed “underneath are His everlasting arms” actually carrying it himself, but LETTING me “help” Him, like a toddler in training?
How would our world be different if we each carried not only our own roll, but bore the roll of the one who “pooped” on us? (Pardon the visual, but exchanging the word “sin” for “poop” really brings it home for this mother of eight).
Jesus does the clean-up; we are just his trusty side-kicks, holding the roll.
I’m gonna try to remember next time somebody offends me to pray, “JEEESUUSS, clean up on aisle 12!” and, as the old hymn says, yield to His “cleansing flood”- for me first, and the other guy, too.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord
forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 3:13

When they hurled insults at him, (Jesus) did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to Him who judges justly.” 1Pe 2:23

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross! Phil.2:5-8

In the same way, reckon yourselves dead in relation to sin, but alive in relation to God, because you are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 6:11

(Jesus) told all of them, “If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself,” (stop being self- centered) “pick up his cross every day, and follow me continuously”. Luke 9:23

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