Monday, April 9, 2012

What does it mean to live a sacred story?

    Do you see yourself as living a story for the Lord that has great value in His eyes? Sometimes the plot of my story feels mundane or not as signficant as others.  It can also seem like my story is moving in slow motion.  I think, Come on God. You sure are writing a long chapter with this situation or stage!

     And yet, God works behind the scenes in the circumstances of our lives as we devote our stories to Him.  We may feel like we've messed up our story or other people and events beyond our control have ruined parts of the plot through wounding us.  Amazingly, God takes the scribble and composes a beautiful narrative of His faithfulness and restoration.  The Lord shines through as the Hero who saves the day!

     Hour by hour. Day by day.  Whether we feel small, confused, delighted, disillusioned, determined.  The Lord beckons us to offer the minutes of our lives by faith to Him as a "sacred story" that makes a difference in His grand epic. Based on this reality that we all have a "story to live and a story to give", God recently begun a fresh chapter in my life with the launch of SACRED STORY MINISTRIES.  I will share more with you as I have opportunity as I'm really jazzed about this new chapter! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Latitude of Gratitude: Pain and Mundane

What does it mean to lengthen our latitude of gratitude?  I've been thinking about being thankful and what that looks like in daily life.  Sometimes my heart is more easily drawn to tell God about what I am grateful for and then there are days when it seems like annoying inconveniences, unmet longings and false expectations about how life should unfold muffle my voice of gratitude.

Let's soak in a fresh perspective on I Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  I've heard this before and perhaps you have also but I think it bears repeating.  The Scripture does say to give thanks "in" all circumstances and not necessarily "for" all circumstances.  This is a big relief to me.

Suffering and loss created by our circumstances can cause our hearts be in pain.  The reality is that God grieves also over brokenness in our lives and the affects on us and those around us.  At the same time, He calls us as His daughters to a higher hope and joy beyond what we are experiencing around us.

I am learning to ask God what it is that He wants me to know about His friendship with me through my circumstances.  I am also learning to say that I will embrace all circumstances He has in my life as an opportunity to know His love and purposes more deeply even when they don't seem to make sense.

Beyond the pain, there is also a reminder to give thanks for what we might think of as the mundane. Were we able to get out of bed this morning?  Did air conditioning and/or heat keep us cool/warm in our homes?  Do we have consistent access to the internet?  Do we have nail files, wardrobes, and blow dryers?  What simple interactions with others will bring a smile to our faces this week?

We can thank God by faith for the ways He is working: restoring the brokenness, providing for us, conforming our character to become more like Jesus, inviting us in to a deeper knowledge of Himself and protecting us from the evil one.  I am SO GRATEFUL to share the journey with YOU.   

Monday, October 10, 2011


This is the thought that ran through my mind as the car following me obnoxiously blinded me with their brights.  We are driving on a major freeway after all with lamps providing light.  It's not like we're on a two lane country road with no sign of life. I turned my mirror up so that the reflection was not so piercing.
I am even more annoyed that the car had the audacity to take the same exit I did!  And then to proceed to stay behind me to get in the same turn lane.  All the while intruding my driving vision with those blasted brights.  To top it off, the driver turned at the light and stayed behind me.  Of all the routes to be taken in a major city! My annoyance alarms were definitely sounding.  This inconsiderate driver was clearly out to get me.

Then I had a heart check. Ok, maybe a little paranoid. I talked myself "down" a bit~ the driver is simply wanting to get to and fro and happens to be on my route.  Maybe there's a good reason for the brights to be on although I cannot for the life of me think of what that may be.  Perhaps he or she doesn't realize the serious driving transgression that the brights are turned on.

My anger level over the bright light driver skyrocketed out of proportion.  I had to think to myself, why am I so frustrated?  What or who in my life is bringing up the same feelings~ helplessness, inconvenienced, intentionally making things harder?  Emotions are a mirror in to the heart.

I'm asking God for answers since He's the One who truly understands me.  I am not sure of all the reasons for my heightened frustration level. I am trusting He will shine His bright lights on my heart so that I can grasp how my  freedom in Christ is being threatened.  I'm so grateful that God is out to get me with His bright lights.    

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How do you spell relief? R-A-I-N

What's that stuff coming from the sky? Could it be? Rain. Big drops falling from the sky. A sight for sore eyes. Months of intense heat without a drop of rain left Houston beyond parched. Wildfires consumed homes and threatened to take over the city. My mom mentioned doing a rain dance. From pulpits to bedside altars, prayers for rain have been on the lips of Houstonians.

I don't normally think too much of the weather or the yearly rain totals until this severe drought settled in for an extended stay. It seemed that there was no end and no sign of a moisture rich cloud in the sky. Hot, hotter and hottest. And I wish I were talking about men. My skin dried out. I never thought I'd be so eager to feel humidity again.

Yesterday the drops came pelting to the ground. A hefty afternoon thunderstorm with puddle making fervor. As God would have it, I was not alone during this storm but thankfully was visiting my sister, bro-in-law and nephews. Leave it to a kid to know how to make the most of life's simple pleasures.

My five year old nephew devised a plan when cats and dogs started falling from the sky. We watched it on the porch of their apartment and then he had had enough of the watching. The little guy rallied his dad and the next thing we know, they are out runnin, splashin, and kickin in the rain. Of course, the three and a half year old joined the rain celebration ritual.

It was only a matter of time when my sister and I jumped in to splish splash. Tongue stuck out, I modeled for my nephew what catching rain drops looks like. I have a new understanding of what it means for a city to go through a long period of time without. In this case, it's without rain. Stories in the Old Testament talk about famines. A long period of time where the source of food is dwindling.

I think about how droughts and famines can propel us to seek God's presence. No matter what we are without for a long period of time, it is an open door to pursue the Lord. It may seem like God is silent. Take heart, He is working in unseen ways. "So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, like the springs rain watering the earth." Hosea 6:3

Friday, August 26, 2011

Did you say celebration? I'm all there.

Celebrating is one of my favorites things in life. I figure there's a lot of mundane, pain, and just plain mystery to our days that when it comes to celebrating, I want to kick off my heels and boogie! Not that I wear heels. I admire those who are able to sustain stilettos. Anyway, back to celebrating even if it means kicking off my flats.

Recently I was talking with a group of women about a chapter in the book of John and we all went around to share ways we were going to apply what we learned. There's just something to saying it out loud that makes it more real. When it came to my turn, I mentioned that my lease was expiring soon and I would go through the ritual of signing for another year. I lamented how it can feel like a defeat to sign the lease because I am reminded that my life is the same in some areas.

Although I know God is constantly changing my heart. I just wish He would change my season of life. So after I sign the lease I usually go back to my apartment and lay on the couch, trying to recover. As I was processing with this group of lovely ladies, I vowed that this year would be different. I would not lament the lease but instead celebrate the signing of the lease. I created a "sign the lease" celebration in the midst of processing this new vision.

I would celebrate something that normally felt like a sting. I wanted to affirm that God's presence, His ways and timing are worth celebrating and that He was going to come through for me. I grew more excited about turning something that might cause me to doubt the goodness of God in to something that would be an opportunity to exercise faith. Take that, enemy.

My dear sister in Christ who was with me at the group said she was "in" on being part of the party. Celebrations are so much better with kindred friends. She came over to my space, bearing decorations, sweet stuff and prayers that we would be bubbling over with the joy of the Holy Spirit.

We ended the time of sweet fellowship by pouring out our hearts in prayer and acknowledging to the Lord that He is a "Abba, Father", Daddy, who cares deeply about His daughters. What a precious time with a faith filled sister in Christ! My faith was strengthened and my anticipation for God's activity, however He continues to give me His "lease" on life, is ignited.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


"Evening and morning and noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice." Psalm 55:17

I was living life with the psalmist the other day as we both were lamenting why the world is so broken, wondering where God is, down on people who are obstacles to God's purposes and our peace, making our way back to praise, believing in the unseen. A typical day with my friend guiding me by his thoughts in the Psalms.

I am so thankful to walk with this brother through his unedited prayers to God that have consoled me on many an occasion. Suddenly, I heard a statement that I couldn't believe my friend had the nerve to utter. I rose up and chastised him for making such a bold claim.

"Have you not read Philippians 2:14 where it says to do all things without grumbling or complaining? [of course, he hasn't because he lived before the New Testament was written, but never mind history] Why are you condoning murmuring and complaining? You are saying you will do so, not just once but THREE TIMES A DAY? What are you thinking?"

I thought my friend might cower and slink away, saying I was right and that he wished he wouldn't have put that part in there because God doesn't like complainers. But no. He stood his ground about his words in Psalm 55:17, looking me in the eye and taunting me to dig deeper.

So what does this schooled seminary grad do in such a theological pickle and panic? That's right. Consult the Bible software. Upon doing so, I learned that the word complain in this context means to "rehearse", "repent", "go over a matter in one's mind" with the added insight that, "this meditation may be done inwardly or outwardly." The word murmur is quite colorful with descriptions like, "roar, mourn, be disturbed, be a loud drunk."

I was a bit relieved when I read this because secretly I have quite a few things to complain and murmur about and am glad to have permission to do so. My complaints can be anywhere from the way people treat me, the fact that I have pimples at my age, the timing of my life, the paint job on my car that is oxidizing. Taking a closer look, that's not exactly what my friend has in mind.

It seems that my brother the psalmist is giving full on license to "get loud with God" [as a friend of mine who is a pastor's wife has been known to quote] by calling out to him fervently and consistently about how things are not right in this world. When a friend turns their back on us. When we run in to another dead end. When evil decisions and people rock our security either personally or as a nation. He exhorts the listener to consider and meditate on God's character in the midst of experiencing stress, betrayal and confusion about God's ways. Finally, there is a call to "cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you."

"To cast our burden upon God is to stay ourselves on his providence and promise, and to be very easy in the assurance that all shall work for good. If we do so, it is promised that he will sustain us, both support and supply us, will himself carry us in the arms of his power, as the nurse carries the sucking-child, will strengthen our spirits so by his Spirit as that they shall sustain the infirmity. He has not promised to free us immediately from that trouble which gives rise to our cares and fears; but he will provide that we be not tempted above what we are able, and that we shall be able according as we are tempted." Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

Monday, February 14, 2011

Let's go coconuts!

I have been learning about how great coconut milk, coconut water, coconut oil are for our bodies. Coconut contains what is called medium-chain fatty acids that are supposed to boost the immune system as well as be anti viral, anti fungal, anti bacterial, basically, anti any pathogen that would cross its path. I decided I needed to go check it out for myself so I went to Roatan, Honduras to take a sip of the real deal. Ok, I also was beyond blessed with the opportunity to join a dear friend for some fun in the sun. We decided it was like being on a honeymoon with Jesus. However, I can't help but think that if I were on a honeymoon with my husband, that Jesus would be there too. I'd like to try that variety. Sometimes I just don't get timing and I'm not sure I ever will. Speaking of godly couples, a very generous family allowed us to stay in their condo. The cool thing is that while they enjoy the destination for fun, this couple and their daughter also comes alongside a local orphanage and is helping to build a school on a nearby island. What an amazing example of how the Lord weaves adventure, relaxation and significance in to our lives.

For those of you who want to take a stab at a recipe with coconut milk, here's a tasty one!
Creamy Chicken Curry in a Hurry
1 ½ Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 med. onion, diced
2 tsp. curry powder
1 (12 – 14 oz.) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup canned diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 packed cups fresh baby spinach

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ¼ tsp. of salt. Cook the onion, stirring often, until soft (about 7 minutes). Add the curry powder and continue stirring for 1 minute more. Stir in the coconut milk, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Continue cooking the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.
Add the chicken, stir well, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until the meat is cooked through. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add more salt to taste. Makes 4 servings. Serve over rice.

I can be over for dinner any time!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Out of the Pit

The Chilean miners rescue has captured the attention of the world over the past couple of months. It is an amazing story of how inviting God's presence and power into a tragedy can strengthen and sustain people under the most trying circumstances. When I read the account below by a Campus Crusade for Christ staff member in Chile, I was moved to thank the Lord for coming to deliver those who cry out to Him, no matter how dark the pit, physically or emotionally.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Hello team and friends! I want to share with you about the last 2 very intense weeks as we have worked on the project to take the Word of God and the JESUS audio version to the mine, but it has really be worth the effort as it is food for the soul. This long history of the miners that is now passing 2 months has been without doubt the longest survival experience for people trapped underground.

This all started on the August 5, when the San Jose mine collapsed because of the exploration in the mine. The news was not good as it was only 6 months after we had experience the very large earthquake and tsunami. With a population less than other countries in the world, problems like this seem much closer to you and much more like it is part of your own family.

After 2 weeks without news from the miners we could only think the worst. The government had made every effort, but it was reasonable to think that the miners were lost, above all considering the distance where they were located, some 700 meters (2,000 feet) deep with a difficult future to be rescued. But God had other plans and 2 days later (the 17th day), contact with them was made. Obviously we were all very happy and we celebrated the miracle that all were alive.

As Campus Crusade, God guided us to think about how we could help these men and this was how we took the initiative to contact some churches in the north, leaders and authorities about sending the JESUS audio into the mine. It wasn't easy in the beginning because of some apathy in the Christian leadership and a lack of a sense of urgency, together with the restrictive control of the rescue team but, God in His sovereignty provided that we were able to gain contact with the daughter and the brother of 1 of the 3 Christians that were trapped there.

During several weeks, I was in contact with them and I explored the possibility of sending them audio material. Finally, I traveled to the mine with 33 MP3's containing the JESUS audio version and an ample portion of the Bible. I was there for 2 days and we sent the MP3's through each family members that were there.

Jose Samuel, my contact in the mine (father of Hettiz and brother of Gaston) is an extraordinary man who has really surprised me. The psychologists that are giving help from the surface have recognized that he has been a tremendous emotional and spiritual support for the rest of his co-workers.

He sent me a letter that grabbed my attention for his incredible clarity of thought. For example, some parts of the letter are:

"I want to express my appreciation for this great blessing for me and my co-workers, it will be very good our edification" (He is talking about the MP3's)
"I am well because Christ lives in me"
"We have prayer services at 12 a.m. and 6 p.m."
"I ask all of you for pray not only for us here, but for all the lost people in the world"
At the end of the letter he signed off with Psalm 95:4, "In his hand are the depths of the earth, and mountain peaks belong to him."
This is a very motivating story, let's continue to pray for the salvation of these souls. Thanks for being part of this.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I'm so grateful for God's faithful servants who reach out in times of need to offer hope in the Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Posture of the Heart

The church I attend recently moved in to a beautiful, new facility. What a great day to celebrate God's faithfulness to provide after 14 years of waiting for a permanent home. This is my first time to experience such a move and it is delightful to watch God's fingerprints all over the details.

One feature I particularly like is the kneelers on the chairs. As our pastor mentioned, sometimes the position of the body can reflect our spiritual posture. It is interesting to me how the physical and spiritual are intertwined. I think of the Psalms where I like to camp out for encouragement on how to pour out my heart.

On a number of occasions the Psalmist talks about his physical posture as he seeks God. For instance, he bows down toward God's holy temple (Ps 138), and he lifts his hands (Ps 141) to the Lord. I think of David who danced before the Lord (II Samuel 6). It seems that a natural part of worshipping the Lord is found in physical expression.

The kneelers remind me of this. I think sometimes I don't feel like my heart is in the posture of humility or reverence whether I'm alone or in public. However, by faith at times I want to move toward a physical expression, asking God to help my heart catch up. A popular Bible teacher once commented that sometimes, "We get to the next place [in our realtionship with God], by coming before the Lord on our face."

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Psalm 95:6

Monday, July 26, 2010

This is The Day

I used to be an ER groupie. I know I'm dating myself a bit by saying so. In my mid to late 20's when I lived in Fort Worth, a couple of girlfriends and I would pow wow on Thursdays to faithfully watch George Clooney (AKA Dr. Ross), Dr. Lewis, Dr. Carter and Carol Hathaway live out their medical dramas. Did I mention we watched George Clooney?

When you have most of your life ahead of you, it's normal to envision how it might turn out. Whether intended or not, it seems that the human heart is wired for expectations. I know my friends and me presumed that life might have its maladies but that God would come through to save the day like the doctors on ER did on many occasions.

The longer I live, the more I experience the reality that misplaced expectation is the root of disappointment in my relationship with God and people. I think of my friends and me. We've had our griefs that none of us would have ever chosen, like family members who have yet to turn to Christ, miscarriages, a debilitating stroke, untimely deaths of loved ones, singleness, moving out of a dream home to down size, divorce, children with learning disabilities, and chronic pain.

To be sure, there have been many celebrations in life if I were to add them up for my friends and me like 10 years and counting of a godly marriage, children who are thriving, publishing a Bible study, family members who love well, recovery from physical struggles, friendships that are rich, travel adventures, and more.

Because life and God are unpredictable, it does all come back to the good deposit of wholeness that God is making in our hearts as we know Him through the ups and downs of living in a broken world. One expectation our hearts can know for certain is that unlike the ER docs who may or may not save a life, God saves THE DAY. I realized recently that Psalm 118:24, "This is the day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." isn't just saying, as I have often thought, that we can simply find joy in each day. Sometimes the difficulties of a day seem to stink when expectations are dashed by disappointment or a painful turn of events.

I discovered that when I looked at the two verses preceding verse 24, I had a different take on it. "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice in it and be glad." God has saved THE DAY by pouring out His beloved Son on our behalf. No matter what happens on our journeys, this reality brings healing to our hearts including the tendency to misplace expectations. It is also the source of our rejoicing and gladness as we experience God's restoration personally and pour out on behalf of the hearts of others.