Thursday, January 31, 2019

The One About My Mother-in-Love

I thoroughly enjoy ministry...serving the Lord in what I have always called my joy-job.

I'm never more fulfilled than when I get to do what the Lord has called me to do...or to watch my husband do what God has called him to do...

It's not without its sacrifices, however.

There have been those moments when I'd have liked to have cloned myself so I could be in two places at once.

The first significant moment was the morning we got a phone call, while serving in Africa, that our niece, Caitlin had been born.

It had been hard enough to leave our two little nephews that were only months old.

However, now, we were missing the GREAT ARRIVAL of a precious new life.

And, I hadn't been so homesick as in that moment following that call.

There have been other arrivals we've missed since then.

Departures, too.

And, of course, other significant events...

Currently, we are in Arizona.

Arizona is not Africa (by a lonnnnnnnnnnnng shot)...

However, we've had to make a decision with serious repercussions.

We're in the state for a number of reasons -
     Board Meetings
     Our grand-treasure, Ethan's baptism

     A belated Christmas with our Mace family

     Doctor's Appointments & follow up visits
     Speaking in a church and a university chapel...
     (where some 50 students gave their lives to Jesus    yesterday!)

      Prepping to fly to Cuba
     And, soon, the Cuba ministry


We find ourselves torn betwixt and between:

The longing to be in one place that is not this place, and yet knowing this place is exactly where we are supposed to be.

On Saturday, Bay's mom had a significant stroke.

It took her as far as the pearly gates...but for some reason, the Lord has allowed her to rally, and she's doing a wee bit better, as of yesterday.

She still doesn't remember much.

She asks about her sister, Grace...often...and when she hears that Grace grew up, got old, and went on to heaven one night, she is shocked. The look on her face is priceless (from the pictures and videos we received).

When she asks for her daughter, Dorothy Kay, and DK says, "That's me, Mama. I got old..." She just shakes her head.

She has some lucid moments.

We called via the technological wonders of FaceTime yesterday.

She knew Bay.

I wasn't a blip on the radar (and I was sure I had always been her favorite!)...

In those lucid moments, Gramma insists, "Yes. Go."

When she's told where we are and what we are doing, she makes it clear, "GOOD!"

So, we're still planning on the go.

However, back home, we're missing the living-celebration of Gramma's life.

We're missing sweet family time.

We're missing the family singing around her bed

We're missing walking with her through whatever this current season holds.

We could be missing the moments of her last final breath on this earth...and, seeing her graduate to Jesus' arms.

I'll be honest, it's a bit difficult.

But last night, before sleep finally claimed me, I thought about all I had learned from Gramma.

So, bear with me, as I wind this up, and celebrate, in my own little way, the life of the woman who became my other-mother.

I was only in high school when I first met Dottie Forrest.

I wasn't even in love with her son, then.

But, LIFE CIRCUMSTANCES (ha! we all know it was God's Sovereignty), put this family into my world, and I just knew how loved and accepted I was by her...unconditionally, so...I could see it in her eyes when she looked my way...

...Even though my life was a mess!

...Even though I was a rebel-child,

...Even though I had no clue about a relationship with Jesus.

Dottie's smile and encouraging words were Jesus to me.

I'm not sure but that those two things weren't instrumental in drawing me to seek more of Him.

I saw something...

Of course, it was His-Spirit-in-her!

After I became a follower of Christ - and began to date her son, she welcomed me with open arms into her home...

Not many moms think any girl is good enough for their son...but she seemed OK with me...

I learned what hospitality looked like from Dottie...

There was always a place at the table for one more...

I learned what it looked like to be a woman who served...endlessly....

I learned how a Christian wife and mother lived, loved, and cared for her family...

I learned just how precious it was to live behind the scenes doing for others and never seeking the limelight...

She was always our biggest cheerleader - literally, in the stands as Bay played basketball, but metaphorically, in whatever we were called to do (sometimes those things that didn't make sense, like turning down an NBA contract to play for Athletes in Action...even Grampa Nelson raised his eyebrows at that)...

After Bay and I married and started a family, she often served Jesus by caring for our kids...they'd have sleep-overs on Gramma and Grampa's floor, while we were off at some youth event, or another, with someone else's kids attempting to speak and live Jesus for them...

I'll never forget seeing her standing at the fence, watching us all board the flight to Africa, when we left to serve at Rift Valley Academy. She was clinging to it, tears streaming down her face, but I learned what "letting go" looked like from her willingness to open her hands and let us fly so far away...

She taught me practical things: to cook (no question about this - for which Bay is grateful), to garden, to sew (even though I still made her do Bay's mending), and how to grow old, with grace and a myriad other small things...

I'm forever grateful.

There's no telling how long she's still destined for earth...

She could still have years...

But, the hole in my heart that misses the-woman-that-was is large.

OK...this is a longer than normal post. If you've stayed with me this long, you're wondering if there's a point, or if I'm just pontificating for no reason.

There is a point. There are a couple.

1)  Relationship is not about the GREAT ARRIVALS or the DEPARTURES, it's all about what has come in between - that messy middle.  It's all about what each person brings to the table of our lives, and how they leave us better versions of ourselves.  As you can tell, Gramma Dottie served up a whole lot more than just food in my world. When she goes, she is leaving me better: a better wife, a better mom, a better woman, and most of all, a better follower of Jesus.

So, I'm asking I doing the same? 
Will there be others who can say the same about me...
How about you?

2) In one of the little videos Steph sent to me, my sister-in-love is reading Psalm 103 to Gramma from The Message. These verses (1-5) caught my attention:

O my soul, bless God.
    From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
    don’t forget a single blessing!

He forgives your sins—every one.
    He heals your diseases—every one.
    He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
    He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
    He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.

    He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.


I don't know if it registered with Gramma, or not...but she has longed for heaven for the last couple of years, especially since her sister Grace beat her to the punch.

Why? So. Many. Reasons.
But, among them - THE GREAT REUNION!
To see all those who've gone before - and to see Jesus face-to-face!

Also, there is the hope of this: Her youth will be renewed. She will be young in His Presence....and filled with joy.

I have always needed to have something to file away in the filing cabinets of my soul for every decision I make. I want to know that when I look back there will be no regrets.

Yes, it's hard to be away while Gramma is entering into this final stretch of her journey toward her HEAVENLY HOPE.

But, this is also why we go...
There are others who need that same HOPE that Gramma has.
That she has passed on to us!

And, Gramma wouldn't want to keep us from that mission.

So, I'm putting this in my pocket...
It is with joy I can open my hands and "let go," just as she did with us so many years ago at a fence at an airport in the middle of nowhere.
I wouldn't want to keep my sweet mother-in-love from her GREAT ARRIVAL, even though I might miss her DEPARTURE.
Thinking of Gramma "always young in His Presence" is total comfort and consolation.
Knowing she would want the same for others is compelling.

So we will "Go" and be "Good"...come what may!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The One About the Way of Words...or How to Detox the Heart

It was a casual, off-the-cuff statement. Probably not meant to be ANYTHING.

But then…my mind…oh, the mind.

It does what it almost always does.

It’s absolutely AMAZING (!) at making mountains out of mole-hills.

It’s a gift, really…a nightmarish strength.

And, then, just like that my peace-of-heart was disrupted, going in countless different directions, instead of just stopping and taking what was said with a little grain-of-salt…

…a bit of benefit-of-the-doubt…

…a little drop of water rolling off the back of a duck.

For a spell of a day or two, I lost a little bit of that “peace that passes all understanding.”

Yet, it had me stop and think.

And, I considered, once more, the way of words…and, 

Just how toxic they can be.



It doesn’t take many words to cause harm.

Just one word, in a certain tone of voice, spoken without thought or care, can be sickness to the soul.

Of course, the opposite is also true. 

A few simple words, a positive affirmation, a timely well-done, a few edifying and encouraging statements bring LIFE to the inner parts. 

Healing to the hurting.

A smile to the downcast spirit.

So, I had to stop and wonder, how have my words been of late?










Have I been granting others the “benefit of the doubt” that I desire? 

I’m quite afraid, I don’t have the best track record. 

The saddest part of all of this is that Jesus made it clear about the way of words.

What comes out of the mouth is what is in the heart.

The words we speak are the mirrors of our soul.

We’re all pretty good at micromanaging our images………………………………..for a season.

Then, all of a sudden, something slips out the mouth, and my initial thought is, “Where did that come from?”

“What just happened?”

The Spirit of the Lord is quick to remind me that it came from deep down inside.

It’s a representation of what’s really in that heart of mine.

An indication of a deeper spiritual condition.

Toxic words = Toxic heart.

In which case, I need a soul-detox!  

Quite frequently.

One author I read recently made this statement:  

Your words matter. If they aren’t God-words, then your “country of origin” is exposed as that of this world, for they are certainly not of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Makes sense. We can certainly tell when someone we meet is from a different part of the country, can’t we?

So, the same holds true of our language.  If it doesn’t sound like something Jesus might say, then it’s a clear indication of where our current place of abiding is: the world, the flesh, or the enemy’s Kingdom of Darkness.


So, how to change?

How do I detox the heart?

Sadly, there are no smoothies, no particular diets, no fasts that accomplish what assists the body in detoxification…

Or are there?

How about blending up some smoothies of love, kindness, goodness, self-control? If we fill our minds with God-words, those will make their way to our heart, and what comes out of the mouth will be an overflow?

How about fasting from everything we want to say? Not everything we speak is edifying or beneficial. Some things even fit the worthless column. Not everything is true, right, noble, pure, lovely, or honorable. Not everything is praiseworthy or of good report. Check your words before they leave your mouth. They say more about what’s in your heart than they do about the person or situation you want to say something snarky about…

How about guarding your heart (dieting) from choosing to listen to anything that fits the list above? Set guards over your ears. Find ways to walk away from conversations that are toxic. Or, better yet, be the bigger person, and turn the conversation to one that is uplifting…and healing…and PEACE-FILLED.

Our mouths have such power.

I’m choosing to do the above, so I can be a peace-maker; as opposed to a peace-faker, or a peace-breaker.

And, this is my prayer:

Let the words of my mouth…
put a smile on your face, O God!

Psalm 19:14

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The One Where God Said, "Sit! Stay!"


It can be disrupted by so many, many things.

Last week, I mentioned this "biggie," which is true, not just for me, but for, oh-so-many people:


Busyness is a big one, because it leads to stress.

Chinese Word for "busy" is comprised of two symbols - Heart and Death - when we are too busy we put our hearts at serious risk...

Stress leads to physical pressure, emotional pressure, and, sooner-than-we-realize-it, spiritual deadness (see the small writing under the picture above).

Worry fills our thoughts.

Sleeplessness fights the night;

And rest is no where to be found...

...and, Jesus?

Well, there's just no time for Him! Absolutely, no room in the inn...

There are other things that unsettle me, as well, with the same results.

As a mom and nana, I carry the hurts, the struggles, the concerns, the questions, and the potential dangers of my children's lives and that of my grand-treasures. That invisible umbilical cord is long and far reaching.

As a servant, speaker, writer I've had to learn to get over people-pleasing (but, the truth is that it still upsets-the-apple-cart-of-my-heart when I think someone doesn't like me...).

Don't even get me started on the current political situation...and, while I don't (where the re-occuring, never-ending battle between democrats and republicans is concerned), I'd just as soon turn off the news and throw out the television. I'm just so OVER IT!

As a counselor, a mentor, a friend...well, life is just HARD for so many...and fix it? I can't...couldn't...wouldn't if I could...but, it doesn't mean that I don't find myself troubled for these dear folks! I do!!!

Of course, there's always that foggy unknown that clouds my vision of tomorrow...and the fear of what's around the do the next days, months, years, of my story unravel? Will I like it? Will it be hard?

It all adds up; and, it's no wonder that followers of Jesus are overcome, overwhelmed, overstressed, out-numbered by problems, and lack PEACE.

Even though Jesus said He would leave us with His peace (John 14:27).

Even though He left us with a directive: In this world, you will have problems, but be of good-cheer, take heart, I have overcome the world...and in me you will have...PEACE (John 16:33).

Even though the gospel of Jesus is itself "good news of peace (Acts 10:36)."

Even though the Apostle Paul admonishes nearly every church he wrote to "let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...(Col. 3:15)."

All those things listed above have assaulted me with the beginning of the New Year in one way or the other.

I have had a few sleepless nights (ok, many).

So, it's been a good time to dig into peace...

To make peace my prayer focus.


This month's prayer has been:

Oh, God of Peace,
Teach me to live in peace when the world around me seems to be in pieces...
Conform my troubled heart
To  match Your heart of peace.
For this is Your Will for me in Christ Jesus.

We already know (as followers of Jesus) how critical living in peace is, because it's a testimony to the Great God we serve.

So of course, the enemy is going to fight us in that area.

And, we will need to do battle time and time again to reclaim our peace-of-heart (peace-of-mind)...

Last week, I mentioned my first find: Understanding (believing and receiving) Grace!

Then, I bumped into these words from God through the Sage of Proverbs (Solomon):

My (daughter) son, be attentive to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight;
Keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all...
Prov 4:20-22

This isn't a new teaching:

We are desperately needy for God-Words.

Sometimes hearing old truth, through new ways and different passages, resonates a little differently in the heart.

I've rephrased these verses (Peg's Paraphrase).

________________ (put your name there): 
Pay attention, lean close, look ME in the eyes, and don't just hear what I am saying:  LISTEN! 
Let my words resonate in your brain, over and over and over...
Write them out, keep them where you can see them - on your wall, your mirror, your computer screen, in your journal, on pieces of paper in your pocket.
Repeat them to yourself throughout the day.
Preach them to yourself throughout the day.
These words of Mine are REVIVING and HEALING...
They bring peace,
steadfast courage

Yes, we desperately need God-Words.
They are oxygen to the soul.

However, to get God-Words...
We, also, need sit-time...
...and, a sit-place!
Then, stay PRESENT & ENGAGED, until His Words reach your heart.

So here was this week's challenge from God to Me:
Create a consistent sit-time...
...and, a sit-place...
...and STAY for a spell!

When intentional, God assured me,
"I will meet you there,
with MY Words for your troubled soul."

Take up this challenge for yourself...

Lean in.
Hear His Words for your heart.
Keep them ever near.
And, oh yes,
respond as the Spirit leads.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The One Where My Heart Was in Pandemonium (Ever Been There?)

The following happens every(!) year(!)...

The minute I flip my calendar to January 1, an unsettled sense of chaos begins to fill my soul.

It's not that I'm unhappy about a new year, because I am - I LOVE FRESH STARTS and NEW BEGINNINGS!

It's not that I'm unprepared, I always try to usher January into my life with a set-apart-day (or half-day) in rest and renewal...

...It's just that the beginning of every new year signals a crazy-busy season for me until somewhere around the middle of the month.

January is hectic for many reasons.
1) I hear this internal bell ringing that signals "GO." and with it, the frantic pace of getting out year-end-receipts to our more-than-generous donors (and, of course, there's a deadline)

2) It's time to close out books and prep for tax season (and I'm on a deadline)

3) I have approximately two weeks to finalize the year-end-budget, balance sheet, P & L statements, copy minutes, upcoming schedule, and put together the other various and sundry items that will help direct the traffic of our annual ministry board meeting.

4) Then, there's getting things shut down at home because we always leave for winter ministry mid-January for close to two months...this includes packing, "winterizing," finding someone to pick up mail, and cover the home office chores minimally...

These are just four of a full page list of to-do's, and I've already given you more information than you care to know.

Here's the point (which you've probably been asking for since the first sentence).... 

The month of January is made up of days where I need to make every little minute count...

It may be winter, when most things tend to slow down, but for me, it's mahem-like...

We all have these times.

Times when life seems out of our control, and extremely chaotic.

Times when our hearts match those external circumstances.

Times when we have to wonder about that "peace that passes all understanding" that is promised to believers....

Right there...this is my first month's prayer word:  

Peace had actually made the short list as a possible word-of-the-year, before I rebelled against a word-of-the year, and then, before the Lord restored it, in spite of me.

I find it interesting that there are two words that the Apostle Paul prays over his readers at the beginning of so many of his epistles. 

The first word is Grace.

The second word is Peace.

Have you ever thought about why those two words specifically?  Why not hope and joy?  Or, what about love and kindness?  Maybe,  faithfulness and self-control?

It dawned on me, as I began praying about my own personal peace, that...

...the combination of these two words in the life of a Christian is POWERFUL.

When I truly understand the grace of God, and what has been done on my behalf, by granting me SALVATION, peace-of-heart reigns. If God-the-Father-through-Jesus-the-Son is Sovereign enough, and ABLE enough to save me from a hellish destination, then He is powerful enough to do ANYTHING else on my behalf...

What a perspective! 

In fact, this perspective alone changes the heart's-condition...

But, there's more!

When followers-of-Jesus have peace-of-heart in the middle of chaos, confusion, pandemonium, persecution, hardship, and suffering, the world sits up and takes notice.

Everyone gets rattled and anxious over life-out-of-control.

Peace-in-me says to the lost, I have a secret weapon they don't have.

And, they wonder...

I want my lost friends to wonder enough that they ask why? how? what? where? WHO? can I? 

And, the answer is YES!

I CAN...



And peace? It starts with an understanding of GRACE...
...which moves us to PRAYER!

(Coming next week: more answers I've discovered over the week as the Lord has settled my soul with His peace...)

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The One Where the Rebel-in-Me Stood Up and Refused to Sit Down

New Year's Eve Day.

I spent the day in fasting, prayer, and seeking the Lord for the New Year ahead.

I highlighted those delightful places where the Lord showed up in 2018.

There were so many, when it came right down to it, I filled pages with my list.

I said good-bye to some hard-stuff, and prayerfully let it go, buried it (literally) and determined to move past it all in 2019.

There was a time when it was so all consuming.

...there were only three caskets.
That says something, doesn't it?

I listed those things I was waving an exuberant HELLO to in 2019...

(of course, I had to throw a picture of Brynley Joy waving hello to a new day at 1:58 in the morning... 
It's really a perfect picture of how I feel about this New Year, however...)

Some activities on the calendar, of which I'm already aware (as the Lord wills)...

Others, of which I am expectant...

And, those that will be surprises (good and bad), which are all part of God's perfect plan, His glory, and my growth - well, I pro-actively thanked Him.

I dusted off my hands, and settled into the seeking phase.

As is my norm, I looked for God's Word for my New Year.




This was unusual.

I've had a Word every year for the last seven.

This past year, my Word was HOPE.

I filled five journals, and part of a sixth on the topic.

I have 52 blog-posts.

I wrote a four-session retreat.

My file folder is over an inch think with research.

Just on one Word.

I waited.

I listened.

Nothing came.

There's this thing about fasting and praying... least where I'm concerned.

The Lord tends to show me the "stuff" in my heart that I'd rather not see.

"Stuff" that sometimes blocks my hearing.

"Stuff" that needs to be swept out of the corners of my soul, and disposed of...

In the midst of praying, waiting, listening, He did just that.

He showed me the rebel in me.

You see, here's what was happening...

I'd been on different social media outlets earlier in the day.

You would not believe (or maybe you would, because maybe you are one of them), the number of people posting about their WORD for 2019.

I was shocked!

When did this become, so trendy!

At the time I began this tradition, I didn't know another person doing it.  There probably were; I just didn't know them.

Something within me rises up when a thing becomes a fad.

I start shutting down, closing up, turning away.

When I find a new author who inspires me, then all of a sudden the whole world begins quoting them, I go looking for another new author.

When a "topic" becomes the only "topic" of bible studies, women's conferences, retreats, and memes...well, you guessed it, I want to change themes.

So, there you have it:
God revealed the rebel in me.

She was alive and well, no matter how I tried to hide her.

There was this side of me that didn't want a new word, simply because so many were chasing the trend.

But, in the tension of it all, I still longed for the Lord to show me what new direction He had for me in the New Year. I wanted His Word that would bless my soul and further my spiritual growth, helping me deepen my roots.

Truly, I'm amazed at what I learn when I start digging into a new Word that I'll research...a Word that comes from God's mouth to my heart.

However, NOTHING was coming my way simply because I was standing up on the inside, when I was supposed to be sitting down and seat-belted in the back of the car.

I wasn't along for the obedient-ride.

I just wanted a special dispensation.


So, my adventure into 2019 began with heart-felt confession.

On my knees.

Before His throne.



AND THEN?????????

Not a WORD!

Nope, not A WORD...

What I received from the Lord was a new to me....probably not to anyone else.

As I journaled some possibilities, I had this mini-revelation. Not one word, but more like twelve words. A WORD A MONTH.

Not a word to study, but a word to pray.

Here's what I think the Lord was attempting all along to convey to me, but the rebel-girl just wasn't able to hear:
my conversations with Jesus need to improve!
far more than my study habits...

2019 needs to be a year of growth in the intimacy of communication with my Savior...

My life of personal prayer needs to streamline.

I need to become more specific.

It needs to be more sustainable.

More steadfast.

More centered.

And, what better way than to pray around ONE THING OF IMPORTANCE, while sitting at Jesus' feet.

As for the rebel-in-me...I pray she sits down, buckles up, and shuts up!  
(That's a fairly grand goal my New Year...)


...but, when it all boils down to it, I guess God did give me a word, after all, in spite of the fact that rebel-girl-in-me didn't want to join the trend.

Here it is:


There will be more to come.
As well, there will be a few changes in 2019...
So, stay tuned...