Dec 31, 2008


Resolution. A promise. A declaration. A decision. I hear so many people making New Year’s resolutions. It seems the thing to do. The year is closing out. It’s time for a fresh start, a new perspective, some way to improve our lives.

I am reminded of Ebeneezer Scrooge in, “The Christmas Carol” and the story of how the ghosts that come to him teach him how to have compassion in his heart and to open his heart to love others again. That is the kind of resolution that resonates with me. I’m reminded during this time, that what I have to clean up most is who I am on the inside. Are there shadows within me I need to reveal? Is there someone I need to forgive in order for healing to occur? Have I forgiven myself for my own shortcomings? Is the way I’m living my life pleasing to God? And in all things, am I constantly striving to seek the face of God? And not only the choices I make in my life, but am I responding to life and to the choices of others in the way God would have me? And do I strive for God’s will and open my heart so I may be ready to receive the gift of unconditional love God has for me, for my life, so I may experience His presence and to share that light with others? Do I really hear and heed the cries of help of others? Do I worship and glorify God with my whole life?

When I think of resolutions, I think the best place to start is to learn to trust God more and more. I want my life to be a gift back to God for all the blessings he’s poured out on my life. And even in a year that has had its share of challenges, there is so much I have learned and so many ways I see the face Christ. For it is through the storms of life that I’ve learned the most about the faithfulness of God and that my own faith has been strengthened, because there is much yet to learn.

So I want to make my resolve, my promise, to be all of who God created me to be. This isn’t an easy task, but it is what I want to strive for and with God’s help, and help of my band of angel friends who surround me with encouragement on my walk with God, I know I can move in the right direction. It is my prayer. It is my promise.

As I was thinking of what I would resolve to work on within me, this scripture from Galatians 5:22-23 came to me: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Which one among us cannot develop each of these fruits as a model of how to live our life in Christ?

I think about the challenges we face. They are actually gifts to mold us into something more. They don't seem it at the time. But constantly, looking back, I can see how God refined my heart through times of challenge and struggle. These fruits of the Spirit teach me how to be better than I am. They teach me that I will fall, but in all things striving for these gifts that Christ best showed as he walked on this earth, are examples of how to live my life.

So, as I make my resolutions, as I pray my promises, as I make my decisions to walk with Christ more passionately, more seriously, in a more committed walk, may God guide me and hold onto to me so I can truly become the faithful disciple he has planned me to be.

Dec 28, 2008

Unexpected Disguise

You enter the world
The Savior we've longed for
Majesty and Honor--royal and priestly
But wait...instead...humbly born in a stable so bare

It causes me to wonder over and over
What way do you come to us now, Lord?
Aren't you hidden in the person we haven't forgiven?
Or in the hearts of those we find it difficult to accept?

And isn't that you in the homeless man--the cold concrete his bed?
Or those scorned by society so they can hardly raise their heads?
And the awkward teenager, doing everything to try to find a way to belong?

Those we are quick to judge
Because we cannot understand the depth of their pain
Or the reason they put others down instead--
The very ones we cower away from?

I think I see you there--behind their eyes
In their heart, in their pain, in their disease
In the gruffness of their voice, in the tears in their eyes
And I wonder if they see you, too--anywhere, everywhere.
In noone, in everyone.

And I wonder if I will respond:
Will I know you?
Will I accept you?
Will I welcome you?
Will I love you?
Will I make my heart your home?

Dec 22, 2008

Coming Home

The doorway to my childhood was joy. It was an elation that was complete, unbridled, uninhibited, unrestrained, passionate, all-consuming.

Life on my family farm was a really glorious event. I had no idea until I was much older that we didn’t have much money. There was always laughter, adventure, beauty in nature, hard work, hard play, good food and immense helpings of love.

I began to see how important the relationships were that were built in that family and in our community of church and friends. When I think of coming home I always think of that farm and farmhouse. The memories of those encounters--our joys and even our suffering--is so wrapped up in a tapestry of the recollection of that period of my life.

I think it defines me in some ways—that simple life, yet that rich life that was my childhood. Maybe I go back there in my mind because of my own life that has experienced divorce and true brokenness of a family. Maybe it is because I longed to give my own children that wholeness that I grew up with. Maybe going back to the farm in my mind reminds me of safety, and warmth and comfort. Maybe it is because home is not the building—the house, but what goes on there—what grows there—like love and faith and because it was my own start of those things in my life.

I just know that the kind of joy I experienced was God-given. It was so deep and complete and exuberant, that I wish all could experience a coming home like that. From making mudpies, to building a raft to float down the creek, to the old swimming hole, to working in the gardens, to singing around the piano, to sharing meals together, to the excitement of Christmas morning, the memories of joy stand out the most.

But when I think about that joy and I think about coming home at any time, especially Christmas, I realize that the innate, instinctive joy I experienced, I carry with me every day. So coming home really is awakening to faith, to the God who never leaves no matter the circumstance. But having joy as the doorway to my childhood makes me realize that because of that gift in that place, I can recognize deep, rich joy in a new way at every turn in my life. It is natural that when I think of coming home for Christmas, I think of our family farm. Christmas morning with its joy, starting traditions, sharing love…it was all so priceless to me. And Christmas centers itself on joy. But our true joy is so deep. It starts with a babe born in a bare stable to a young mother and father…coming home…to change the world, to transform hearts and lives...the King of Kings, born in a lowly stable coming to us in pure humbleness...and entering our lives to save a fallen world...that is what coming home for Christmas is all about.

Coming home for Christmas is wrapped up in the joy of that one single life that changes all of us, if we’ll just let Him.

Dec 11, 2008


I have an amazing friend. Marg is someone who I've known for a few years. But it feels like we have been friends since childhood. She knows the very core of me, she hears the cries of my heart, and rejoices in the joys of my soul. Every moment spent with her is joy to me. She is one of the friends that God has sent, when I needed it most. When I look back on times that God has sent people along my path that I needed or that needed me, I am always amazed.

With Marg it was so clear. I was sharing my personal testimony on a Saturday night service during Lay Leaders Weekend. I had never met Marg and I could tell when she greeted me after the service she was on fire for God. And she shared that she had many of the same experiences I had (wounds and joys). I thought she was the warmest, most open human being I knew. And our friendship just grew from there. We found that we had many things in common. And few people make me laugh like Marg does.

The thing about Marg is she is so authentic. She's serious about her faith journey and this is the place I think our friendship has grown and blossomed -- as we experience the living God together and share all our experiences--pains and joys, failures and struggles--I just feel enveloped in the love of Christ in this friendship.

I don't think there are coincidences. I think my friendship with Marg is God's reminder of what I needed and what Marg needed. And to feel God's amazing blessing in this relationship is just so like God--to pour out His abundant love.

Are there relationships like that for you? Are there people God has put in your life for a specific time and a specific purpose? I know that I'm more aware and awakened to that fact that every moment is extraordinary. Every moment has God's mark on it. And I'm grateful for that.

I wrote this poem at the time I met Marg and I had experienced other friends God put in my life...

(based on passage from Romans, in the Message by Eugene Peterson: Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. 1Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.)

Be good friends, who love deeply
Face each other in love and understanding
In friendship, be true and open up your lives and hearts
And in humility pray for each other--
For patience, wisdom, peace, forgiveness, trust.

And embrace the failings and hurts that are caused--
with honesty and understanding--
To accept each other in humanness

For this simple truth remains: Sharing and receiving love in
True, deep, connected friendship in concrete ways
Requires us to open our hearts, to risk ourselves
And there is both pain and uncomfortableness in that truth sometimes

But only in honest, authentic friendship that is ordained by God
Can we learn about ourselves--the treasures in our hearts,
Who God has called us to be, what gifts we have to offer the world

For in God-given ordinariness, we rediscover each other

In a profound way.

Dec 9, 2008

Emmanuel, God With Us

It was the first Christmas after my husband left. My boys were 6 and 3. Though I choose not to go back to that place in my mind too regularly, I can still recall the feeling of that first Christmas Eve.

Truthfully, it took me years to get used to the fact that especially on holidays the boys' time would be split between my ex-husband and I. I just knew that I was on auto-pilot trying to get everything done to make our first Christmas special. I wanted to forge new traditions, make the special time in my faith life special for the boys, celebrate the birth of the King and try to get over this numb aloneness I felt so deep within my heart.

Christmas Eve was always spent with my husband's family in a wonderful celebration. We would go to an early family service and then celebrate with his side of family. But on this first Christmas apart the boys and I went to church, and then I sent them off with their Dad. I didn't want to go be with my own family (my parents or sisters and families) because somehow my solitary existence seemed magnified in the midst of these people who literally breathed life back into me through the most difficult time I've experienced.

I sang with the choir at my church, recognizing this nagging feeling of wanting to be with my children as they shared in all the festivities. The tears came easily and my heart was just overwrought with grief at the loss we were walking through. My heart wanted to soar as I entered the story again of that first Christmas. Yet, the pain I was in kept me from the true Christmas joy that I had always felt.

As I made coffee and laid on the couch praying through the pain, the phrase "Emmanuel, God With Us" seemed indelibly written on my heart and I began to repeat it over and over. As I lay there staring at the nativity set under the tree, I expressed my sorrow. Through the tears and even the deep gutteral sobs, I felt a softness in my heart, eventually. I knew intellectually that God was always with me, but on this night, I experienced it so deeply. I was certain that although I felt alone, that I really wasn't. And somehow I knew I never would be again.

Looking back now I think it was that first Christmas Eve that I was so racked with pain was really the first step of diving in deeper to my faith life. I look back now and can sense the pain of that first Christmas where everything changed--and where the brokenness of our lives seemed so amplified. But now, I can rejoice in the fact that nothing can separate me from the love of God. I have truly experienced (as has my family) the joy of Christ through others who shared their love and helped us through to find healing.

And I'm ever so grateful to have encountered first-hand this deep abiding love of God in that tiny babe: Emmanuel, God With Us. What a deep meaning those words have for me, even all these years later. Never alone.

May the joy of Emmanuel, God With Us be with you in a new way this Christmas season.

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23

Dec 6, 2008

Martha, Mary and Advent

The season of Advent always brings to mind for me the story of Martha and Mary.  It is a story that has spoken to me so strongly through the years.

From Luke 10:38-40  (The Message)  As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. "Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand."  The Master said, "Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it's the main course, and won't be taken from her."

I think the story speaks to me so much because I have both parts of Martha and Mary within me.  In the book "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life" by Joanne Weaver the author tells us:  "The thought intrigues us.  Deep inside of you there is a hunger, a call to know and love is the heart-to-heart intimacy you long for.  Yet a part of you hangs back.  Exhausted, you wonder how to find the strength or time.  Nurturing your spiritual life seems like one more duty.  Martha appeals to our tendencies...what a hostess!"

The thing is, during the Christmas season especially, how can we not be Marthas?  There is planning, baking, decorating, countless events to attend...sounds like Martha will be in full gear, to me.  And in some ways Martha gets a bad rap...I mean is she not serving and practicing hospitality?  But it's when all those things wear us down to the point of exhaustion, that we truly do miss the point.  Where do we find Christmas peace when our "to do" lists are so long we don't even time to think, but only to do?  

But Jesus shows us the heart of Mary.  Mary definitely knew what she was "supposed" to do...I'm sure there was scurrying and chaos surrounding Martha's wanting to be a great servant and prepare everything perfectly for the Messiah.

But Mary was drawn to Jesus.  She was drawn to sitting with Him, to being with Him, to soaking up all He had to teach her, to the love that exuded from Him.  The story always strikes me that Mary seemed to have this wonder and awe in needed to be close and learn at the feet of Jesus.  He tells us in the this version of the Bible that  "only one thing is essential". That "one thing" is what I need more than anything else.  I hunger and need that heart-to-heart intimacy with a Savior.  Not just any Savior.  THE Savior.  The Savior who has come to save us.

Our church is experiencing the Advent Conspiracy ( during Advent.  The focus is:  worship fully, spend less, give more, love all.  I can't help but think more about learning how to have a heart more like Mary.

There is so much that can distract us from the manger.  But having a Mary's heart makes such sense to me, and I want to strive to have that heart.  To be part of the story as never before.  To drink in the love, joy, peace and hope of that tiny babe that came to transform each of us.  Taking in the love of the one who came to transform all of us.  

A Mary's heart in a Martha world is really going against the culture of the world we're caught up in.  But a Mary's heart seems to be not only what I need, but what God wants of me. 
After all, Christmas is about the greatest gift of all -- Emmanuel, God with us.  That is just the gift I was hoping for.

Dec 5, 2008


I had the unbelievable privilege of growing up on a farm in Allentown, NJ. It truly was there--through the beautiful creation around me, through the bonds of family, that I began to sense God and know of His goodness. I couldn't have asked for a more tranquil, fun, loving childhood--and especially setting to become the child of God I was meant to be.

In my memory, I keep snapshots of photographs in my mind--memories, special times, events, special words that I remember in my mind, but tuck away in my heart. The picture is one of a little girl, blond hair flowing in a ponytail walking hand in hand with her Dad through the cut down rows of corn that had already been harvested. The picture is especially beautiful in my mind's eye. The sun is setting on a fall day, a blazing orange sky with fingers of sunlight shining through trees that tower with leaves of red and gold on the edge of the field they line.

But it is not the beauty of the scenery that strikes me most, but maybe that's because I can recall the heart of the picture I carry. If you draw in closely it is the connection between a girl and her dad that creates the splendor of the moment for me. The way her green eyes fix upon her father's face and the gentle way he smiles back that causes such joy at the memory. Because the picture reminds me of something greater on this journey of faith. It is assurance, conviction and belief of a priceless gift: child-like faith.

There is something special about the simplicity of children. The way they love passionately, laugh contagiously and seethe world through eyes of awe and wonder. It was easy to love my Dad as a little girl. He was (and is, in many ways) my hero. He always had time for us, make adventures with us from the ordinary to the extraordinary, to laugh with us, to listen to us. And always, always loved us. I could trust him. He was my anchor. And my world felt safer because he was there to protect us.

What a wonderful model and example to understand and fathom the love of a heavenly father, given the gift of the earthly father I was blessed with. Through trials, hard times, joys and triumphs I have learned what it is to be loved unconditionally by a God who never leaves, who walks with me through every moment and has also paid the greatet sacrifice by the blood of the Cross. God wants me to be faithful and give all of myself in that child-like faith. We live in a world where commitment come an dgo. It is easier sometimes to walk away from keeping a promise, giving your word, reaching out and remaining true and authentic.

I want my faith and love for God to be that life-giving, life-enhancing, deeply immeasurable joy, that I had as a child. I want to love and serve God with passion and zest everyday. I like the photograph I hold in my heart and mind. It reminds me of who I was created to be. It reminds me that the delight and excitement of loving and being loved by a God who is so much greater than my own circumstance, deserves every part of me.

The words to "Faith Like a Child" by Jars of Clay really speak deeply to me and remind me of this childhood memory. But more remind me of the passion within me that I want to use to bring glory to God.

Dear god,

surround me as I speak,

The bridges that I walk across are weak

Frustrations fill the void that I cant solely bear

Dear god, dont let me fall apart,

Youve held me close to you

I have turned away and searched for answers I cant understand

They say that I can move the mountains

And send them falling to the sea

They say that I can walk on water

If I would follow and believe

With faith like a childSometimes, when I feel miles away

And my eyes cant see your faceI

wonder if I've grown to lose the recklessness

I walked in light of yo

Ive got joy like a fountain!

Be kind one to others

In Jesus Christ your sonT

hey say that love can heal the broken

They say that hope can make you see

They say that faith can find a savior

If you would follow and believe

With faith like a child

I may not always love and serve like that, but if I am constantly striving, I know I'm moving in the direction of child-like faith. And that gives me hope. Follow and believe. With faith like a child.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14

Dec 3, 2008


A friend asked me to post a poem I wrote this past year based on my teenage son. Being a single Mom has come with such a special mix of both joys and challenges. But no one could prepare me for parenting a teen. But I have to say, through God's grace, I'm grateful to friends who support me, a God who loves me and two young men that I am am so privileged to have as sons. The truth is, I've grown as much as they have. What a blessing every stage has been!


I remember rocking you during those early morning feedings
Singing softly to you and promising two things:
I would give you roots—a foundation, a hope
And I would give you wings—to let you fly free
…to be who you were created to be.

The years have a way of rushing past and here we are
Living through divorce, and pain that you describe as the “hole in your heart”,
but amidst that struggle--to experience extraordinary joy and laughter
and perspective that has defined us
Learning together about growing up,
about what matters most
Learning how to be there
Living out a life of love.

I look at you now straining my head to look up into your eyes
Your face contorted with this “Oh, I am so right” determination
So willing to take on any political view just for the debate of it
Willing to stand up and do what is right, just as I hoped
(Though maybe with a little less of an attitude)

I sometimes think, “Where have you gone my precious boy?”
But I know you are in there, though sometimes I have to dig deep
Until I find the little boy smile or the eyes that light your face

Finding those faults in me that I thought were hidden from view
Examining my values, my choices, my life under a microscope
Pushing and pulling, struggling and negotiating, loving and doubting

Yet I know we are just where we are supposed to be in this moment
You wanting to push and test and see if I really do believe and trust in you
Me spending sleepless nights wondering if I’ve done the right thing
Picked the right battle, let your character shine through enough

And I wonder now: Have I done enough? Do the roots go deep enough?
Yet I know I have done my best in our circumstance to build the foundation
It’s really the wing part I have the hardest time with.
And yet, promises are met to be kept.

We have each held on tightly and now we know the time comes
For the releasing of hands, of hearts, of lives
For you have been molded into the individual you are becoming:
establishing even now, YOUR values, YOUR faith, YOUR choices, YOUR life

Because this is life as it should be
And I promised I would give you your wings.

Poem: The Shell


The shell’s solid outer covering
Feels like thick skin—firm to the touch
Tiny holes seep into the gray and white coating
As run my fingers over all the ridges
Worn, yet still strong

The thrashing of the waves
Tossing and turning
Battering and bruising
And breaking apart its wholeness

Yet, washed clean and thirsting
Through the imminent drenching
Of the tide, that though rough
Is shelter and refuge, too

For turning to see the shell’s inside
Its rare splendor sparkles
Revealing a luster that illuminates—
That reflects light and glimmers

Taking what was once broken and defeated
To reveal a new smoothness and softness
That is not perfection, but exposes its genuineness
Uncovering what is authentic and real

The broken shell
Now renewed

By the plan of the
Author and Maker of her life
Mending what is broken
Giving hope through despair
Allowing joy through the pain
To be beauty and a gift of upward glory

Unfolding spirit with beauty and truth
In an extraordinary way