Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why She Talks Sports: Loving The Unlovables

Hey Friend,

In the US, for sports aficionados, fall is the "Happy Time"...the delightful convergence of many professional and college sports.  Since I was young, I could tell you the difference between a breaking ball and a fast ball slider.  I have a scrapbook I made on the life of Roberto Clemente, complete with scorecards from his games, newspaper articles and baseball cards.

I grew up with the "Steel Curtain" in Pittsburgh and could appreciate the grittiness of Jack Lambert as well as the fluid artistry of Lynn Swann's receptions.  Did I mention donning full goalie gear so my son could dream of being Mario LeMieux?

I confess that I didn't immediately love sports, but my dad did.  I am a people pleaser and I quickly learned that it pleased my dad that I took an interest in what he was interested in.  I was all about my father's business, and in being so I grew to love what he loved.

It is very much the same with my Heavenly Father.  If I love Him (which I do), I want to be interested in what He is interested in...I need to be about my Father's business.

"Be imitators of God...and live a life of love..."  (Ephesians 5:1)

It is easy to love others when they are lovable or when we know and like them.  But what about the nameless faces we see on the street or in the park?  What about the homeless man holding a tattered sign?  Do we love him?  Take it one step further...what about those we don't like, the ones who have hurt us, the unlovables?  What does God say about them?  Let me share some insights borrowed, in part, from my pastor.

In Genesis 1:26, God said, "Let us (Trinity) make man in our image, in our likeness..."  God used His very own image to fashion us.  He created ALL men and women in His likeness.  He didn't withhold His image from some; so, when we look into the eyes, the face of another individual, we are looking into the very face of God.  We are created to love those people because they bear the image of God.

Furthermore, in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, we learn that "We are given the seal of God written on our foreheads by the Holy Spirit."  God put His holy signature on each of our foreheads.  He loves us (each of us) so much that He gives us the seal of ownership.

So, when I find it hard to love others at times...I will look for God's image and for His signature.  I will attempt to imitate God.  I will let all that I do be done in love.  I will be about my Father's business.

Play ball!

In His love,


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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Perseverance Posse

Hey Friend,

Lisa, Cathy, Linda, Bev...together we comprise a tight sisterhood known as the "Perseverance Posse".  We are a group of Christian, middle-aged women with grown (notice I did not say fully mature) children.  We have navigated the waters of divorce, infidelity, mental illness, surgery, prodigal children, job loss, military life, financial difficulties, even death (and don't forget menopause).

A strand of three (or more) cords is not easily broken.  When one of us is down, the others come alongside and lift her up in prayer, word and deed.  I don't know where I'd be without these women in my life?!

Sometimes when we get together we jointly ask, "Why so many trials, Lord?"  I believe our answer can be found in James 1:2-4:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

"Pure joy" is a strong term.  Often we are not joyful while in the crucible of suffering, but when we look back and see, once again, that God was faithful to bring us through, we can truly be filled with joy!

A Christian can rejoice in suffering because he knows it is not meaningless.  Part of God's purpose is to produce character in his children.

God is more concerned about our character than our happiness.  Why?  Because learning to persevere ultimately produces hope.  Not only does hope not disappoint us, but it gives us life, builds our trust in God and alleviates fear. That sounds like a recipe for happiness.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us... (Romans 5: 3-5a)

My daughter is in her first year of teaching middle school - Yikes is right!  She has been totally overwhelmed by the whole experience and has thought about giving up on many occasions, but she is sticking it out.  "Why so hard, God?" she asks.  It's really tough when you are IN the crucible of trial, but take heart - there IS hope!

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  (James 1:12)

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  (Hebrews 10:36)

What glorious promises for those who lean into the Lord and keep on going. What abundant love God lavishes upon those who persevere!

So, together with my posse and with my daughter, we wait on the Lord.  Wait for the strength He promises when we persevere through trials and suffering.

How has God worked in your life to build character through perseverance?  I invite you to scroll down and share your thoughts under "Comments". 

In His love, 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Words We All Need To Hear

Hey Friend,

As a young girl, I would walk home from school (yes, in the days when kids actually walked to and from school) with my girlfriends.  We'd tug at our knee socks and we'd pick wild daisies.  Nudging each other on, we would think about a boy we thought was cute and then, one by one, we'd pluck the petals off...he loves me...he loves me not...he loves me...he loves me not... On it would go until we reached the last petal.  HE LOVES ME!  We'd laugh and giggle with excitement.

We never, as humans, outgrow our need for love and affirmation.  God designed us that way.  It is our heart's deepest desire to feel that we are worthy of being loved.

The world can be a hard, cruel place - reminding us at every turn of how we don't measure up.  Children learn, at an early age, how to bully and inflict harm with their words.  A close friend of mine has lived for over twenty years in an emotionally and verbally abusive marriage.  Many of us know her pain.  After hearing, "You're not worthy!" long enough, you start to believe it.

God's message, however, is far different than that of the world.  He whispers to that deep place in our soul, "I love you! You ARE worthy in my sight." We are precious gems unto the Lord.  He loves us unconditionally.  God so wanted to spend eternity with you that He was willing to send His only son as a sacrifice for your sins.  Our tiny minds cannot fathom the height and depth of His great love for us.

If you measure the price God paid for are of GREAT worth!

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

In return for the love and affirmation God shows us, He calls us to show and speak love and affirmation to others. 

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these."  (Mark 12:30-31)

Read it again...There is no commandment greater than these!  This is the heart of God.  He calls us to renew our minds and to view others through a different lens - through the lens of His great love for us.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  (Philippians 4:8)

I believe that God would have us take it one step further.  Do not only just think about these things, but speak them.  Speak them to ears that are hungry to hear words of love, affirmation and praise.  I have to pray, hourly, that my words do not default to a critical spirit. 

Through His Spirit at work in me, I can speak life giving words to others.

Who in your life needs to hear words of love, affirmation and praise?  I encourage brave enough to speak those words to them today.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meeting God On A Mountain Top

Hey Friend,

Yes, you are in the right place!  Welcome to my new blog home.  I feel like I've been handed the keys to a brand new car that I don't quite know how to drive yet lol.  Hope you'll bear with me as I get the kinks worked out?! 

If you are new to my site...WELCOME!  This is a place where we get to be real.  I hope you will settle in and let me share with you what God feeds me each week.  If you have been a faithful reader, thank you, and I hope you will subscribe to my weekly post (no other spam mail will arrive).  I also hope you will find it easier to comment on posts because I would love to get your feedback!   If you are reading this, please know you are being prayed for every morning and every evening.  I believe in the power of prayer.  I also invite you to contact me at my email address if you feel led to do so...

So what's on my mind this week?  I just returned from a wonderful week in The Great Smoky Mountains with my 80 year old mother.  Oh, what an adventure we had...

My SUV climbed up the steep and curving highway to get to the mountain top town of Franklin, NC.  From there we turned off the main road onto a narrow paved road which soon turned to gravel and dirt.  Kicking the car into 4 wheel drive we began the ascent to the very last cabin on the tippy top of the mountain.  We navigated narrow, sometimes washed out road that had many switchbacks. 

We reminded ourselves that this city girl from the hills of western PA and her mother from the mountains of WV were homesick for the mountains.  I secretly prayed we would not meet anyone coming down off the mountain.  At last we arrived at our destination and what a sight to behold.  We were really up there and the purple hue of the mountains stretched out in every direction.  What an awe inspiring sight we beheld!  The beauty and majesty of the view around us made me gasp in disbelief.  This was going to be a true mountain top experience.

I've always been amazed by people who don't believe in the existence of God.  As I stood on the wood deck of the cabin, I thought how can you NOT believe there is a God when you look around and survey His handiwork.  The mountains stretched out endlessly and the sun, starting to set, lit up the sky with hues of pink and orange that filtered down through the umbrella of trees that surrounded us.  The woodland animals scampered around in the trees, oblivious to the great view that they had.

With no tv, internet and questionable phone service, my mom and I spent our evenings and our early mornings in the giant sunny yellow rockers out on the deck.  Glass of wine in hand, we rocked and talked and gazed out on the tree covered mountains.  The dogwoods were already a deep crimson red and the tips of the other trees were just breaking out in brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red. 

In the early mornings we would sit on the deck in our fleece jackets and jammies.  The hot coffee warmed our hands while we literally sat in the clouds.  The birds chirped their good mornings to us while we waited for the sun to rise and break through the cloud we were in.  Our sleep was restful with the crisp mountain air and the crickets singing and owl hooting its lullaby.  Slowly the sun would start to break through the fog with its tendrils of light streaming through the tree tops and then the first glimpse of the mountains would appear.  This was truly meeting God through His creation.

If I did nothing else that week, but to take in God's majesty, that was fuel to my soul.  My mom and I hiked to cascading waterfalls and strolled through quaint mountain towns.  We dug our hands in the dense NC mountain dirt and found God's treasures hidden there as well.  Stones, that appeared to be nothing more than muddy rocks, came alive with color when you would shine a light through them.  There were colors that only God could have dreamt up. 

My mom and I talked and laughed and shared with each other.  We basked in the stillness of the mountains and not having to know what time it was.  We met with each other and we met with God on that mountain top.  I have stored up this time and will treasure it in my heart.  Is there a God?...after my week in the mountains, it confirmed what I know...that my God is an awesome, creative and loving God.  He made all this for our good pleasure.  When has anyone ever given you a gift quite like the creation He has gifted us with?

Usually my posts are infused with scripture, but this week, I let God's creation speak for itself.  My prayer is that I will never cease to be amazed and astounded by the world that God has given us.  May I see His love in the beauty He has created just for you and me to enjoy.  May my heart lift up a song of thanksgiving and praise.  Our God is truly good...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Special Guest Post

Hey Friend,

This week, while I head to the beautiful mountains of NC, I have asked my very special friend and blogger Beth to guest post at my site.  Beth's tag line to her blog, Simply Beth, is "Let all that you do be done in love."  To me, Beth has a heart that exemplifies God's great love.  She's the "real deal"!  I hope you will welcome her and then take some time to visit her blog site:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I've seen it written many times that one of the keys to a great blog post is a vulnerable story.  "Dare to be open and truly vulnerable about your life," says writer Mary Demuth.  It certainly isn't easy being vulnerable.  For many of us, being vulnerable is the complete opposite of how we were raised.  Stuff your emotions and move on was more of the norm.

I was reminded of words shared by Joyce Meyer in her Amplified Bible from First Corinthians.  She wrote how we are like jars of clay.  "Imagine a clay pot with a lamp in it and a lid on it.  Even though it may be filled with light, no one can see the light within it.  Yet if the pot is cracked, the light will shine through the cracks.  In this same way, God works through our imperfections."

Read just a few stories of the Bible and you will notice how God used imperfect people over and over again.  If we were perfect we wouldn't need God.  Isn't it refreshing to know God isn't asking us to be perfect?

"God works through our imperfections."

For many years I was sure I had failed my children.  Their younger years were spent watching their parents go through many battles.  Many times I wished we could go back in time and do it over again.  Countless hours were spent worrying about how the choices and mistakes we made as parents would impact the lives of our two boys.  How would those choices and mistakes impact them as they became husbands and eventually fathers?

Could it be possible that during those years of pain and sorrow, and the many mistakes, there was something greater taking place in us?  Could it be God was using our brokenness to draw us closer to Him?

My husband recently shared with our small group about a time when he asked our oldest son for forgiveness.  The two of them had a very difficult relationship for many years.  He shared his story with such vulnerability.  It's his story to share, but imagine a father approaching his son on the day of his wedding and asking for forgiveness.  I imagine a light was shining through the cracks of the doorway as the two of them embraced.

On the day of my son's wedding, I didn't see a young man shattered from the brokenness of his parents.  I saw the greatness of our God.

"God works through our imperfections."

The imperfections of my marriage can seem too great at times.  We made many mistakes and the reasons to ask for forgiveness are long.  For much of our marriage we relied on our own strength, a strength we simply didn't have.  How do we ever apologize for all the pain our children endured as a result of our imperfections?

I can't help but to think of my husband again and the story he shared.  Kristen Strong ( says it better than I ever could, "A genuine apology is a gateway to shocking, glorious redemption and a fresh start."  My husband had not told me about his apology to our son.  I was hearing his story for the first time as he shared with our small group.  I did witness what took place following his apology: a "glorious redemption and a fresh start" for a father and son.

The pain we endured - those imperfections - God used them.  He used them to paint a glorious story of forgiveness through a father and son.  He uses them over and over as we dare to be vulnerable in exposing those cracks in our marriage.  Each crack is another story to tell on how God redeems.  Each one leads to sharing the greatness of our God.

"God works through our imperfections."

That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

With love,

Let all you do be done in Love.