Monday, December 25, 2017

Let's Sing His Praises!

O Come Let Us Adore Him!

I love symphonies at Christmas. The music allows you to sink deep into your thoughts. For a beautiful rendition of O Come Let Us Adore Him, click here, listen, and ponder all that babe in the manger has done for us.  

And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins...  Matthew 1:21

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Did you ever wonder what wrapping presents has to do with God's gifts to us?

In this season of Christmas, there a lot of wrapping of presents going on. Do you wonder how the tradition began? Why do we wrap presents? Why not just give them unwrapped?

I do, so I looked it up. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, in an online post dated December 9, 2013, says: “The desire to hide the identity of the gift until just the right moment led people to wrap gifts long, long ago.”

How about that?

We began concealing the identity of a present ages ago. Why? Because we’re looking for ’just the right moment’ to reveal the gift.

Makes sense, right?  

After all, I’ve received gifts and waited to open them until the ‘real’ date.  Or I’ve waited to open them until the giver is present to share in the joy.  Or, I’ve waited to open it until I have time to savor it.

I never thought about it, but, yes, we wait to open gifts at ‘just the right moment.’

It reminds me of a particular scene from my childhood.

“Have a seat on the sofa,” my mother said. “We have a surprise for you!”

What? A surprise? I couldn’t imagine what it was, but surprises were always good. I raced to the couch, sat down, and turned my smiling, freckled face her way.

“Close your eyes,” she said.  ”I’ll be right back.”

I squeezed them shut.

Moments later, I heard my parents shuffling something through the room, stopping at my feet.

“Okay,” they said. “You can open your eyes now!”

Delight filled me as I saw the present set before me.  It was wrapped in colorful paper, which I immediately removed.

Underneath was a big grey case. I flipped the latches open, first one…then the other. I gasped with delight when I spotted the full-sized accordion, marble-gray with stunning ivory keys.

What? I’d wanted this forever! At least as long as I’d been taking accordion lessons.

“I love it!” I said, jumping to my feet. “Thank you!”

My parents helped me take it out of the case and adjust the straps to fit my small frame. Moments later, I played a simple rendition of Silent Night.

Initially, when I started lessons, my parents rented an accordion, waiting to see. Would I practice weekly? Would the novelty wear off? Would I still want an accordion months later?

I didn’t tire of the lessons. I enjoyed music. I loved practicing.

So, when the time was right…and undoubtedly, the right deal came along…my parents, delight dancing in their eyes, gifted me with my own accordion…unexpected and unforeseen by me…at just the right moment.

Don’t you imagine this is how God helps us? He’s beaming, knowing he’s got great gifts for us…wisdom, understanding, counsel, name a few.  Although unexpected and unforeseen by us, we have what we need before we even need it. 

His holy gifts are hidden in the ordinariness of our lives, waiting for just the right moment to arise. And he knows the place…and he knows the time…

You can trust him. Our surprises are always good.

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him.   1 Corinthians 2:9

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Are you ready for Christmas?

People ask: Are you ready for Christmas? 
Sure, I am, I say.  I'm ready.  My soul knows I'm in need of a Savior.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Are you ready for Christmas?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thursday's Thoughts

Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, 
and have need of nothing," do not know 
that you are wretched and miserable 
and poor and blind 
and naked

Revelation 3:17

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Yesterday my husband and I made a quick stop into a store for something he needed.  While there, I raced to the toy aisle. Although I'd finished my Christmas shopping, surely we needed just a few more things.

I picked up a little yellow farm tractor, held it at arm's length and studied it. Too big for our infant grandson? Too little?  Suddenly an animated doll caught my attention. Maybe his big sister would like that. Or is that too creepy for a toddler? Next, I spotted a sparkly box containing four toy soldiers. Oh my gosh, what kid wouldn't want that?

I'd already done my Christmas shopping, but, really, is it ever done? With Christmas just a couple of weeks away, I was just, in my mind, trying to figure out who needed an extra thing or two. Did one kid have more than another? Were the parents taken care of? What about my husband's brother and his wife. What, really, did I have for them? And my husband? Gee, did I have enough for him?

Joe found me in the aisle, putting some toy horses in the basket and taking the animated doll out.

"What are you doing?"  he asked.

"I don't know," I said. "I'm thinking I don't have enough things for Theodore. And then I'm wondering about Lynn's kids. Maybe I should get another gift for Ayla...or Dominic? I don't know...I've lost track of what I've bought and what I might still need..."

I picked up a Barbie doll, but, moments later, returned it to the shelf. After all, I'd taken inventory recently and everyone was covered.  But still...were the gifts good enough? Maybe I needed another boy gift? Or perhaps another girl gift?

"Ugh," I said. "I'm so confused. I feel like I don't have enough stuff."

My husband, ever the calming influence in my life, looked at me.  "You have enough," he said. "Christmas Day will come and everyone will be happy. It'll be enough."

Spoken like someone familiar with the abundant love of is always enough.

For to us a son is born...a child is given to us.. and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace... Isaiah 9:6

Listening to Hooked on Christmas by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with David Arnold delivers the spirit of the season! Enjoy!

Monday, December 11, 2017

How these words happened to light my path

Years ago, after years of coexisting with the cancer diagnosis, I developed flu-like symptoms...bone pain, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue...I went to our family doctor, who diagnosed it as 'walking pneumonia' and prescribed antibiotics.

It was a busy time in my life. My husband, a salesperson, traveled often in business, and I managed the household. I drove our three children to and from school and chauffeured them to after-school cheer practices, gym meets and horseback riding lessons. I worked part-time in business and also volunteered at school and church. 

I didn't have time to be sick.

It had been years since I'd been diagnosed with cancer, and was still in a 'wait and see' approach to treating it. The  frequent checkups simply served as a reminder that each day is, indeed, a precious gift.  The diagnosis sharpened my vision of God's presence in the ordinary events of my life, and I began writing short, one page stories about it. 

I shared the stories with family and friends, and the insights kept piling up and so did the stories. Eventually, I needed more. I felt compelled to reach beyond my circle of contacts.  I needed to write for publication. 

Back then, there was no Facebook. There was no online blogging. There were no e-books. There was only print.  

Print took time.  If you wanted to publish articles, you had to develop a knack for each publication's style, contact the editor and wait weeks for a reply.  If you wanted to write a book, it would have to be approved by a gatekeeper, who sent it to an editorial review board for acceptance. Most were rejected.  If you were a nobody, like me, it was difficult to break into print. Becoming a published writer was a very competitive, elite field.

It took time...time that I didn't have.  
Then this illness hits. 

I couldn't work. I cancelled volunteer commitments. My neighbors drove the kids to school. Week after week, I kept thinking I'd be better soon. My health, however, continued to decline.  I became too weak to empty the dishwasher, drive my car, or check the mailbox. 

That's when the oncologist got involved. He upped the antibiotics, but when that didn't help, I phoned him and explained what was happening.  I'll never forget his response, "I think this is the lymphoma," he said. "Stay by the phone. I'm going to get you into the hospital. I'll call you back with instructions." 

This was before cellphones. My beloved husband was working, making sales calls, so there was no way to reach him. I phoned a friend, Jan, who agreed to take me to the hospital. She'd arrive shortly.

In those silent, waiting, moments, I randomly flipped open my Bible.

"What I tell you now in the gloom," I read, "shout abroad when daybreak comes." (Matthew 10:27)

 I was so weak I couldn't sit up straight in my chair. Every bone in my body hurt. My muscles ached. My head was pounding. My body was drained.  

But the verse spoke to me.

I'm going to get well, I thought. It doesn't say 'if' daybreak comes, it says 'when' daybreak comes.

And my shouting abroad? That's going to be my writing. 

I was going to get well. I was going to write. I knew it. I just knew it. 

P.S. During my hospital stay, I happened to be playing this song  by Amy Grant (Thy Word is A Lamp Unto My Feet). when my pastor came to see me.  Sorry there are no cool graphics on this one, only lyrics, which I thought were more important. What can I say? I'm a writer. I love words.  And I love that you are here, reading them. May God bless you, my friend!  

Have you ever heard God speak to you? Please leave a comment, or email me at 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How do you spell r-e-j-o-i-c-e?

Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice! 

Philippians 4:4

Overwhelmed by the lingering effects of last month's cancer treatments and dumbstruck by the possibility of another surgery, I shared those fears and concerns with a friend of mine after Mass Tuesday morning.  "This is so hard," I said.

I knew she'd have something redemptive to say. She's a holy soul. 

"We all have challenges," she said. 

I nodded. We all do. We sure do.

"I know what you are going through is hard," she said. "But try thanking God for it."  

Yep, she's right. I believe it's called the 'sacrifice of praise'...when you praise God despite the circumstances. 

"Once," she said, "when I was struggling with a serious health issue, I heard the Lord say to me, 'I'm preparing you.'"

She looked heavenward, adding, "I said, 'For what?'"  

I'm not sure she got a response.

We looked at each other.

"We don't know what's to come," she said. "Just try thanking the Lord anyway. Trust God."

I left with a spring in my step.

Good advice for all of us.

So let's sing! Rejoice in the Lord Always!   I used to play this song for my kids all the time.  Now I'm playing it for me...and for you...Thanks for tuning in!

P.S. It might help to know the apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians (exhorting them to rejoice in the Lord always) while he was in you might say he really practiced what he preached!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Be careful what you pray might just get it!

I’m not the kind to pray for a specific outcome. I figure, who am I to dare tell God what to do?Instead, I pray for the gifts of the spirit: wisdom, understanding, courage, right judgment, knowledge, reverence and awe.

But on this particular day long ago, when my daughter Sara and I were visiting colleges, I broke the mold: I prayed for a parking space when we arrived at the university.

With 40,000 students and 10,000 parking spaces, I figured I needed a little divine intervention. Sure enough, we circled the congested parking lots only to find them crammed, until finally, among the last crowded rows, there was one narrow parking spot available.

“Take it!” Sara shouted.

I paused, surveying the space.

“I can’t fit my van in there,” I said.

“Yes, you can,” she said. “Just try!”

The lot, designed for petite Volkswagen beetles, was overcrowded. An enormous sport utility vehicle filled the space to my left. A shiny long green metallic pickup truck occupied the spot to my right. The thought of squeezing my mini-van into the narrow sleeve between the two didn’t equate.

But Sara urged me, and I didn’t want to park miles away and hike in high heels, so I decided to have a crack at it.

I swung wide and aimed for center space. Halfway in, my left headlight nearly shaved the SUV beside us.  On my right, you could floss between the rear corner of the green pickup truck and the side of my grey minivan.

My heart was pounding. My palms were wet with sweat. I sucked in my gut, as if it could help.

Then a young man arrived. He threw his hands over his face as he watched the short erratic movements of my van, wedged between the SUV and the pickup.

I rolled my window down. “Is this your pickup?” I shouted.

He nodded and proceeded to guide me, as I inched to and fro until the van was finally sandwiched between the two vehicles.

Visibly shaken, I backed it up again, and centered it as best I could into the tiny space.

“Thank you for your help,” I told the owner of the green pickup, who was just as relieved as me when I finally exited my vehicle.

“When are you leaving?” I asked him.

“In about an hour,” came the reply.

“I hope your truck is gone by the time I have to leave,” I said. I think he felt the same.

As Sara and I walked away, I looked at her. “Next time I’m going to pray for a parking spot that’s easy to get into,” I said, with a chuckle.

When our meeting ended, the truck was gone and the space remained empty, making an uncomplicated exit. It was another answer to prayer.

Honestly, though, next time I’ll leave the circumstances to God.

Instead, I’ll keep praying for courage, strength, wisdom and peace. After all, that’s all I really needed to deal with the skinny parking space.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Sometimes God asks: Do you love me?

One day, years ago, our pastor asked me if I'd consider leading a small group bible study in our parish. Although it sounded interesting, I balked. What was he thinking? How much time would this take?  

At the time, I had three kids who had to be driven to and from school everyday and a husband who traveled in business. I worked as an insurance consultant, co-led a Brownie troop, and after school, chauffeured my kids to cheerleading, horseback riding and gymnastics lessons. Life was busy.

So I had one question: "How much time will it take?"

"I don't know," the priest said. "There would be some prep time..." He cocked his head, deep in thought, and began calculating. 

I feared this commitment would demand too much time when suddenly, a scripture scene popped into my head. Jesus was asking Peter; "Do you love me?"  
Peter's response: "Yes, Lord, You know I love you."
Jesus: "Feed my sheep."   (John 21:17)

Standing there, pondering this added responsibility, it felt like the Lord was asking me: "Do you love me?"
"Yes, Lord, you know I love you."
And I heard him loud and clear. "Feed my sheep."

I waved my hands, as the pastor was still trying to come up with a response to my question. 

"Never mind," I said. "I'll do it."

That fall, a small group of incredible women joined me as I led a weekly bible study at my home on Wednesday mornings.  Surprisingly, the added commitment didn't drain time away from me. Rather, it simply enriched my life and the lives of those who joined me.   

The bible study ran for five years, and then, unexpectedly, something happened to change it all. I would have kept that routine forever, but, for circumstances out of my control, I had to quit.

The Lord had other plans for me. 

Thanks for reading! The Lord never leaves us stagnant. He's a creative God who continually makes all things new.  (Revelation 21:5)  Come back next week to see what those new plans were!  

In the meantime, you can listen here to All Things New by Hillsong Worship. Enjoy your day!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Friday's Thoughts

Click here to pray this beautiful song Lord, I Give You My Heart by Michael W Smith.

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that he had to go to Jerusalem , and he told them what would happen to him there. He ...