Mar 272016
 

 

empty-tomb

He is Risen

He is Risen, Indeed

A stone written on by the finger of God gave us the law.  Condemnation.  Sin.  Judgment.

The wages of sin is death.

 

A stone moved by the hand of God opened the tomb.  Defeated sin and death.  There is a new outcome.  Death no longer has the final word.  Victory over the grave.

The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

O praise the One who paid by debt

and raised this life up from the dead.

Mar 262016
 

 

4398388_orig

I attended a Good Friday service last night.  It was moving.  Worship that lifted up my need and His sacrifice.   Old songs & new songs that point my heart towards a Savior who has paid my debt in full.  Scripture reading and prayer filled my heart to the brim.

In the middle of all this goodness I felt the urge to jump ahead.  To quickly move from songs of the cross to songs of resurrection and victory.   To move from my need to a shining morning of victory.  It’s hard to sit in the slow pace of holy week.

He hung on the cross for six hours.

Darkness covered the land for three long hours.

Between his death and his resurrection is about 36 hours (according to my quick math).  Two nights and one long, quiet day.

We don’t like this.  The entire day on the cross.  Hours in darkness.  Nights and day of waiting.  The in-between.  The pause in the plan.  The unexpected and unnerving.  The long, quiet wait.

 

dividernew2

I grabbed my Bible and thumbed through for a quick tour to grab this fleeting thought.  How often did people have to wait – uncomfortably – in the middle of God’s plan?

  • They were promised a son but it took 15 years to get pregnant.  Way after her body had given up its cycle of fertility.
  • They ate the food of Heaven but longed for fresh vegetables and spices from Egypt
  • He was anointed King but spent years as an outcast and rebel leader.
  • He should have been a Prince by marriage but she was taken away by a political plot.
  • May of God’s chosen walked through military defeat and being conquered.  They were slaves, moved against their wills, alone, deserted and often far from family.

But we squirm when God’s plan for our lives include periods of waiting.   Unexpected changes.  Isolation, fears and long pauses.

His ways aren’t ours.   His own Son suffered and was buried.   The day of quiet in the middle of the plan that purchased our redemption.

Tomorrow I’ll sing the songs of victory.  I’ll weep at the immense glory of His love for us.  But today I’ll sit in the quiet.  Uncomfortable.  Unnerving.  The in between.  The day of Sabbath rest as we wait for God’s timing.

Nov 262015
 

DSC03485

A Thanksgiving blessing from the book of Common Prayer:

 

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you:

wherever he may send you;


may he guide you through the wilderness:

protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing:

at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing:

once again into our doors.

Happy Thanksgiving – wherever in the world you may be saying a prayer of thanks.

Nov 252015
 

4d0a21218aeb3b5bf4e1915bcf8523ed

Has a verse ever hunted you down?  I mean, really follow you around the block?    This verse has been chasing me all week.  It was my daughter’s memory verse for Bible class, mentioned in chapel, and popped up in my devotional.   It’s following me!   I think it’s the answer to the stone that my heart has been carrying this week.

How do we live in a world with innocents slaughtered while attending public events?  How do we respond to images of boats full of Moms & children risking their life for anything better than daily terror?   How long does our society keep killing in racial strife?   How do I sit at a full table and give thanks knowing how many are hungry in my city?

It’s been hard to slog through normal life this week.   To finish a blog post about Jen Hatmaker’s new book (that I adore!).   To educate in such a way that teenagers care about Ancient Roman artifacts.  To organize all the comings & goings of a house full of college boys home for the holiday.

But my heart is carrying around a stone.   Maybe God is chasing me with this verse because it is one of my only options.   To pray.  To seek.  To give thanks…even in this as obedience to His will.  My classroom has been full of conversation & prayer & thanksgiving.    Here are two things that helped give us faces & information so that we could pray & talk with some perspective.

I love Samaritan’s Purse and their front line, hands-on ministry to those arriving in rafts.  Let this video provide the faces & voices that are missing from the numbers being thrown around by politicians,

http://www.samaritanspurse.org/article/voyage-to-a-second-life/#ooid=lvYjcyeDoXG-OAM-rfGk3GS5O3_1lsGS

In order to get your heart around the number of people currently displaced due to violence, Lucify has a visual to track people for the past three years.  It feels like watching grains of rice parade across a game board…but these are people.  Bus loads of people.

I don’t have an answer.  There isn’t an easy answer.  There are only hard choices facing real people.  I wish I could solve it all.  I wish my understanding could figure out a way to put it all together in my mind.   But I can’t.  You can’t.  Politics can’t.   Only the will of God in Christ Jesus can transform this whole screaming mess.

So I give thanks from my full table.  I pray and seek and talk  – and give thanks  in this moment as obedience to God’s will for me in Christ Jesus, my Lord.

 

Oct 162015
 

Want to take a field trip with me?  This post is for those of you living far from home.  Maybe you can join us vicariously on our Fall Crawl and feel a little closer.   Every year my daughter, Grace, and I spend a lovely Autumnal day stopping by every local pumpkin & apple farm.  The Fall Crawl.

Upstate New York is full of yellow & red leaves, pumpkin patches, fields of cabbage & squash, apple orchards and fresh pressed cider.  I missed these little treasures so much during my years as a missionary.  It refreshes us every year to spend a day soaking all this goodness into our hearts (and mouths!)

IMG_2303

We started at the Ford’s Farm.  Isn’t this farmhouse a great advertisement for their pumpkin patch?  If you’re looking for exotic, large pumpkins you got to stop here!

 

IMG_2323

They had a cute photo “booth” set up at the back of the patch – with a huge pumpkin throne and a jack-o-lantern cut out.  This is an instagram-able patch!

 

IMG_2320

We walked around the property, camera in hand.  On the side of a shed we found these delightful pumpkin stacks on planters & bird baths, surrounded by fall flowers.  My favorite of the day!

Our second stop wasn’t as scenic…but you could pick your own apples.  This is how a dancer picks apples:

DSC03741

DSC03742

 

Our third stop was at Kirbys, one of our favorites.  It is the full experience:  pumpkins, squash, dried corn stalks, local honey & produce, and lots of varietals of apples.  Oops!  Did I forget that they make my favorite fresh pressed cider?  They do!

DSC03765

 

DSC03767

The score of the day was TWO new varietals of apples.  TWO new varietals.  You know we bought a basket of each to taste test at home.

DSC03768

This was my favorite of the two new tastes.  Very crispy & juicy.  Sweet like a honeycrisp.  I’ve had one with cheese & crackers for lunch every day this week.  The perfect crunch of fall.

DSC03769

Grace enjoyed the Autumn Crisp.  It is a softer apple.  Very sweet to the taste.  The inside flesh of the apple is a butter-yellow.  She’s a fan!

DSC03756

We love taking photos in their front lawn that is strewn with every size & shape & color of pumpkin.  Isn’t Gracie so beautiful in this photo?  She told me she’s practicing for her senior photos next year.  Already?!

 

Our last stop is a local favorite.  Huge pumpkins.  Fresh pressed cider.  Homemade donuts.  You can’t do a fall crawl without stopping by Kelly’s Farm Market.

IMG_2325

One of the unique features of Kelly’s Farm is the bee hive – inside an old kitchen hutch.  The fun thing is that you can watch the bees through the hutch windows.  Talk about local honey…it’s from that exact spot!

IMG_2326

We brought our load home:  3 half gallons of cider (one from each stop), two baskets of apples, 6 homemade donuts, 12 little pumpkins for the porch steps, 3 stacking pumpkins for the dining room sideboard, parsnips and carrots from Kirby’s.  An autumnal feast!   I made a tasting menu for Grace.  She had to pick her favorite cider and new apple.   Of  course we needed the home made donuts to clear our palate for our tasting!

IMG_2329

 

IMG_2328

Thanks for joining me on the Fall Crawl.  I hope these pictures made you smile and lifted your heart for a moment.  You’re in my heart and prayers…even when I’m focused on conferences and my school job. I look forward to being back with you on the porch soon.

 

Sep 272015
 

dsc5746_1024x454

The lake at Odosagih Bible Conference & Retreat Center

I’ve missed you girls!  You’ve been in my mind and prayers during this long quiet spell on the porch.  The school year is underway.  I don’t know if I’ve found my new rhythm yet.   It’s quite an adjustment being at the school full time, both working as the guidance counselor and teaching two AP/college courses.  Our second full week of school was Spiritual Emphasis.  We had three chapel services, special music & activities…and a lot of shorted and interrupted class time!  As a teacher I was needing another week of “normal” to get new students settled into the class routine.   Maybe this week?

Once things get running smoothly, I’m planning on using one evening and some weekend time for Martha Street writing & conversations.  However, right now I’m preparing to speak at a ladies retreat at Odosaigh Bible Conference and Retreat Center.  The ladies weekend is October 16-18.   If you live in this area, I’d love to have you join us!  The topic for the weekend is seasons of growth and will focus on what happens spiritually during different seasons of our lives.  Odosagih has beautiful fall colors and a gorgeous lake.   Does that photo above entice you?   You can message me or follow the link above to get more information.  I’d love to see you next month!

I won’t be writing consistently on the blog until after this teaching.  It’s taking up any spare minutes that I have in my schedule.  Know that you’ll be in my heart and we’ll pick up conversation mid-October.   I’ve been reading & studying and may have some good book ideas for us to read & discuss.

Until then, I adore you and continue to lift you up to the throne of grace and ask for help as you minister to families, churches, communities and countries.  See you soon on the porch!

 

Aug 182015
 

HRT-Store-Daniel_legacybook

You didn’t read that title incorrectly.  I’m so happy to announce Monday’s public launch of the new site  He Reads Truth.   Many husbands & small groups asked for a man’s counterpart to the She Reads Truth Bible reading & devotional plans.  It was launched on Monday with the kick-off of the Daniel series.

He Reads Truth is in conjunction with She Reads Truth – meaning that they’ll cover the same Biblical reading & topic.  But each devotional will be written to the target audience of either men or women.  The tone, conversation and application will be for each gender.  Both sites offer the online plans or the option to purchase paper journal copies.  He reads truth also has a t-shirt & mug for some good men gift options!

If your family or small group would like to use on of the studies as “curriculum” you can have She & He both use the daily plan and talk about it when you get together.  If any fathers & teenage boys want to use this site, it would be a great addition to family devotions and conversations. (I’m assuming some Moms & daughters are already walking through She Reads Truth together!)

My husband & I have consistently used She Reads Truth for our Advent & Lent family readings. Now we have the option for any study to be specific to our needs but uniting in our conversation.

So proud of all the hard work to launch this new site & app.  Make sure you check it out and pass the word along to the “He” in your life.

Aug 142015
 

LPL-simulcast-hero-2015-v2

It’s that time of year again.  Last trips to the lake.  Sweatshirts for the evening cool breeze.  Lists of school supplies.  Restocking the sandwich baggies & tupperware containers.  And getting excited about the Living Proof Live Simulcast with our dear, Beth Moore.   It’s a fall tradition here on the porch (actually in the living room since its  often too cold to sit on the porch on a Saturday in September!)

I know that many of you are having large simulcast events at your church or MOPS group.  As an administrator & Bible teacher, I love this.  Everyone at your church gets to sit under great Bible teaching & worship…without having to plan & prepare.  A win-win day for everyone involved.

I want to encourage those of you who feel alone.  Maybe you’re isolated due to location.  Maybe you’re homebound due to newborns or medical issues.  Maybe you’re one of the only girls your age at your church.  Maybe you don’t have an established church home in the middle of life’s transition.   I’m talking to you, sweet friend who doesn’t have a large group of girlfriends to attend this simulcast with you.

Living Proof wants to make sure you’re included in this powerful day.  You’ve been prayed over.  You need the corporate worship.  You need your heart filled with Jesus and His Word.  You need this day maybe more than the girl headed to the simulcast with her besties with a starbucks in hand.

You can register as an individual.  It will cost $20.  You can watch the simulcast anywhere you have internet.   I’ve watched this simulcast alone in the past.  It was powerful to spend the day alone with Jesus and this online group of women.  I know it feels lame.  Yep, it is – but don’t let that stop you!  Get over to Lifeway and get your individual ticket. 

(Note:  The simulcast “pass” is good for a month.  If you’re working or unable to view the simulcast that day, you can pick a day in the next month and have your very own Simulcast. Don’t let your work or kid’s soccer keep you from the goodness of this simulcast)

Audacious-Cover

An additional piece that is part of this year’s simulcast is the release of Beth’s new book, Audacious.  As a Liberty University Alum, I’m taking pride that the content for this book came from a chapel address she gave at Liberty.  What words of wisdom & challenge would she speak to students…and to us?  The title gives a peek of where she’s going with this book.

Pop over to Lifeway and get information on the Simulcast & book release. What a wonderful day with Jesus & His community of women world-wide.  I’d love it if you’d join us – wherever in the world you are.

 

Aug 012015
 
IMG_1177(This isn’t a blue moon – it’s a pink moon!  It occurred earlier this summer in the Seattle night sky.  The moon was pink due to the ash in the atmosphere from the fires in Vancouver, B.C.)

 

It happened last night…a blue moon.  The last blue moon was in 2012.  I thought about all that’s happened in our family life since the last blue moon.

  • My boys graduated from high school and left for college.
  • Our church re-located to a new building in the city.
  • My beloved Grandmother passed away.
  • Martha Street gained momentum.
  • We said goodbye to our loving beagle, George.
  • I spent a year loving on a little boy, Abraham
  • We’re about to bring our 3 year Sunday School curriculum to the end of the Bible.

The period between these two blue moons has been marked by change.  Transition.  A touch of something new. An ebb and flow.  Did I mention change?

I’m in the middle of another change.  This one feels big.  Tsunami Big as I’m often feeling overwhelmed by it all.  I will be working full time at Northstar Christian Academy next year.  I’ve been there in a part time capacity for several years and love my role as Guidance Counselor.  This year I’ll expand that role as our school continues to grow with more Seniors and an increasing international student population.

At my request (begging!)  I get to break up my guidance paperwork to teach two classes.  I will be teaching AP Art History and AP Psychology.  I’m in the process of becoming an adjunct professor at Roberts Wesleyan College so the Psychology course can be offered as dual credit through their college.    IF I can make it through the preparation stage, this sounds like my dream job.  Teaching art history & psychology & talking to kids about their futures & keeping paperwork moving on time.  But there is that big IF….IF I can make it through the preparation.

These classes require an approved syllabus to both AP & Roberts Wesleyan.  Both have huge content to learn and organize.  Both are on a tight schedule due to set dates of testing in early May.  I’m feeling the pressure to get it all in my head, write an accurate syllabus, and inject some fun & passion into the teaching for my students.

That’s why it’s been so quiet here on the porch.  When life gets Tsunami overwhelming, I re-arrange my priorities.  Here they are:

  • Read my Bible & pray
  • Eat as healthy as I can
  • Try to keep a consistent bedtime
  • Keep drinking…water…coffee…bubbly water…iced tea…repeat
  • Keep washing clothes & towels.  This family is either the dirtiest or the cleanest!
  • Sit on the porch as much as possible
  • Work on school work with great purpose and focus

Martha Street still gets my heart and mind, but computer time & work focus have been re-directed this past month.  I’d love for school to get into a rhythm and Martha Street to get at least a post or two a week from me.  That would keep us on a slow & steady porch pace.

So check into the porch from time to time.  I’ll post whenever I can make space.  Until then, know I love & adore you.  I pray for you and the ministries you represent – even if I don’t get space to write a new post.  I can’t wait to see all that God will do in our hearts, families and communities between now and the next blue moon.

Jul 162015
 

SRT-WITW-OT_instagramday1

I continue to lag behind in the She Reads Truth summer study of Women in the Word.  I traveled to my visit my brother in Seattle and left the large, heavy book out of my carry on luggage.  So I’ve picked up where I left off once I returned.  Now I’m WAY WAY behind.  No shame, girls.  If you purchase any study in the She Reads Truth app it stays forever.  That way you can finish up on your own schedule.

My intention for this study was to read the passages about each woman and really sit with her for a bit in my mind.  To insert myself into the situation.  Add my voice to the conversation.  Let the life of these stories bleed into my life.  Sometimes the most familiar stories are the most “flat” in our minds. Enter Jochebed, the mother of Moses. (Day 16 of Women of the Old Testament).

Jochebed is raised a Levite in Egypt.  In faith she feels her son is special at birth, and keeps him hidden at home for as long as possible.  We’re unsure where she got the idea of a reed basket bed – but Moses takes his baby boat ride into Egyptian history.  Moses’ sister, Miriam, is the one who negotiates the deal of her mother nursing Moses to the age of weaning…for a wage!

Here’s where my mind sat:  How do you think Jochebed’s neighbors responded to her between Exodus chapter 2 versus 9 and 10?

Moses is the only boy his age in the neighborhood.  The sight of his quickly developing body reminds neighbor women of their sons that were slaughtered.  Did women watch him playing and wonder what was so “special” about this boy and not their sons?

Did the neighborhood grocer roll her eyes at the money Jochebed spent on extra items?  What did she do with that unexpected income?

Was there a pushy mama of a daughter that was arranging a future marriage to Moses in her mind?  Remember, there was a generation with exponentially more women than men.  Match-making Mamas had to start early!

When Jochebed had to wean him and send him off to the Egyptian palace, did any women weep with her in the midst of her grief?  Did others feel satisfaction that she’d FINALLY felt their wrenching pain of loss?  Did she cry alone in her home?

Xdivider

None of us have lived through this scenario.  But I was in a similar spot 12 years ago when I was healed of my physical suffering.  People rejoiced with me for about a week.  Then it got very quiet.  And then critical.   I was living as a missionary in Europe at the time and church members started taking offense with my healthy body.  They sneered, “Of course God healed HER.  She’s an American.”

Local ladies continued to pray for their healing or for the healing of their family members.  And I walked into church obviously better & healthy.  My health felt like salt in the rawness of their unanswered prayers.

I made me realize the need for the command to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.  In our flesh we don’t want to join in the joy or sorrow of someone else when it pushes big buttons in our hearts.  It’s an act of the Spirit to live beyond ourselves.  To join someone when their journey is opposite our own.  To un-barricade our hearts to really embrace the joys and sorrows of another.

May we be good neighbors & church friends to the “Jochebeds” in our lives.  Move us, Spirit of God, towards love, unity and compassion for one another.