Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Voices That Steal Our Joy

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Ours was wonderful (!), and 3/5ths of our family gathered together to celebrate the abundance of blessings God has poured out on us this year.  

Those blessings far exceed the hard times...

That's why a season set apart to give thanks was a great idea (thank you, George Washington).

From little to big, there is much for which to be grateful.

(Bay and I even played in a family pickleball tournament, and did OK, considering we had never touched a racket).

Right before the holiday, I began studying the full and generous heart of God toward His children.

He promises us "life to the full...more than abundant!" 

And, just to remind you, the giving of thanks is the start to experiencing this fulness, in spite of our circumstances.

Of course, John 10:10 tells us we have a thief that wants to steal away our "life" (our zeal, enthusiasm, bounce, sparkle...the attitude with which we approach each day).

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I met with my online bible study and we discussed this passage. 

I asked them "who is the thief?"

Of course, the obvious answer is our mega-enemy, the devil, Satan.

However, the ladies had other's ANYTHING that takes away our hope, our joy, and our peace. 

AND...we have to look at the verse in context (John 10:1-11):

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd.

All the highlighted and underlined parts, I added. 

These are some of Jesus' key points...

Followers of the good-shepherd listen for His voice.

They learn to ignore the voice of the would-be-thieves. 

Unfortunately, in this day and age, the sheep don't always spend enough time with the shepherd to know His voice, and the voice of the hope-joy-peace-robbers can be just (!) so (!) very (!) winsome (!). 

Winsome, kind, compassionate to begin with, then all of a sudden, those voices can trap us, and before we know it, we're on the losing side. 


I'll never forget the little red dune buggy Bay owned when we first got married.

It was adorable, and great for zipping all over Phoenix and it made a great little quail hunting vehicle in the dessert. 

One morning, he got up to head to basketball practice at the GCU gym, walked out to the covered space where we kept it at our apartment, only to find it GONE!

During the night, someone stole it right out from our personal space. 

And, that's exactly how this violation very, very personal. 


The life-thief comes to do even more damage....and, it is even more Oh! So! Personal!

Steal our hope - yes!

Kill our joy - for sure!

Annihilate our peace, so there is nothing left - that, too!

Then, when all is said and done, we wonder why God seems to have hidden His face from us? 

And...little by little, our faith begins to leak away...

What can we do? 

Start by learning the voice of our shepherd.

Spend enough time with Him in order to do know His whispers above all other voices. 

Today, that's what I'm contemplating!

What voices do I listen to that are keeping me from "life to the full?"


Thursday, November 16, 2023

TO THE FULL....The Muchness and Generosity of God


I ended last week's blog with these words:

Jesus has a propensity that leans toward filling things to the full and overflowing. 
In fact, He seems to get great joy in doing so!

Then, in faith closed with these final words:

"I'm pretty sure that's just around the corner."

By that afternoon, I'd secluded myself in a little personal space of "solitude and silence" to pray about an upcoming topic for a speaking event I have next Tuesday morning. 

It's for a Zoom meeting I do about once a month.

Not a large group of gals attend (this is just one screen shot), but they come from all over the world, where they are serving globally.

We began in 2020 during COVID isolation, and have maintained a little online family.

I enjoy these gals, and am honored to be allowed to "spur them on," as they frequently do me! 

Once again, in that place of rest and simplicity, as I began to reflect on the blog I had just written, the Lord began to fill the "net."

What struck me during that time hovered around the "muchness" and "overflow" of our God.

He doesn't just fill...

He's more than generous.

What Jesus fills, overflows! ALWAYS!

The muchness and generosity of Jesus became evident in the casting of nets; in filling of wine jars; in feeding the 5000 + on a hillside (with 12 baskets left over); in healing sick bodies so they could immediately get up and serve with added energy; in the dead brought back from the grave days after decomposition should have already begun (i.e. within 24-72 hours internal organs already begin to decompose).

Whatever Jesus did, He did "to the full, ABUNDANTLY."

My pondering led me to John 10:10 (here's the whole verse):

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Talk about a verse that fits the concept of "to the full!"

So, I played around with the verse and mapped it out for a while that afternoon.

Key Words: 

Abundantly. Greek: Periossos - meaning, super-abundant; more than you could ever anticipate; so full it overflows, as full as one can fill a container and then some...

Life. Greek: Zoe - meaning, a life full of vitality, animation, vigorous enthusiasm, dynamic excitement; zeal, bounce, sparkle...

That's probably enough for right now, 'cause here's the question that comes to my mind. 

On a meter of 1-10, how am I experiencing LIFE?

somewhere in the middle

I'll quit with a short story.

As a little girl, I always tried to sneak extra food onto my plate at meal times. 

My mother kept close watch on how much I ate.

Her line to me, always the same:  "You're finished. You've had a sufficiency. Any more would be superfluous (more than enough)."

With hands raised in praise, I can say that when it comes to our lives, the path we are walking, the journey as we step heavenward, Jesus is not my mom.

He's cheering us on, metaphorically heaping more and more on our plates, saying, 

"Live! I've come to give you LIFE and that LIFE is to be SUPERFLUOUS."

Is mine? 

Is yours?

If so, yay!

If not, why not...

Better yet, where am I on that "Zoe" meter / where are you... and where do we want to be?

So, in the next blog, we'll look at some potential ways the enemy of our souls tries to "steal, kill, and destroy" the fulness of life Jesus promises.

For's reflection time.  


What a great season to begin looking around to experience thanksgiving and the start of life to the full...

Be assured...even in the midst of struggle and the absence of strength, our God wants to pour into us "abundance of life." He is re-weaving our life-strings to create a beautiful tapestry of faith.


P.S. There will be no blog on Thanksgiving - may you all experience a Thanksgiving that is FULL of LIFE in EVERY WAY!!! May your GRATITUDE LIST be long and you overflow with praise for the blessings your Heavenly Father has bestowed upon you.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Empty Nets, Full Nets, and Rest

There are days when my mind feels totally empty of words.

The night before the first session of the women's retreat in Greece, I felt a bit like the disciples who'd fished all night and come up short. 

Of course, I'd planned and prepped for each session, but when I went to bed that evening, it felt like this particular fishing hole had NOTTA (thing). 

What happened to everything I had studied?

All I could do was pray, try to get some sleep, and hope the morning brought a clearer, fuller mind. 

Morning came early.

I sat with my notes and the flood of words came.

Keeping with the analogy, Jesus now stood on the shores, and instructed me to throw my net onto the right side of the boat.

Like Peter, I wanted to say, "Lord, we've been fishing ALL NIGHT..." 

Then, Peter went ahead, shrugged his shoulders, and threw the net.

Of course, as the story goes, the net was so full, they could hardly pull it in to the shore.

That morning when I stood before the attendees, the net of words overflowed.

All I had to do was sift through them, put them in order, and speak what the Lord had given me. 

Why do I tell you this little story?

I'm back home after several weeks away.

Once again, the net is empty (& there's this blog I committed to write...).

There aren't any words.

So I'm reminded, there are times when the Lord fills the net, and there are times when He says to set the net to the side and just REST. 

That's where I am this morning.

Nothing really of great importance to share...except...

Only to remind myself, and in the reminding, share with you this truth.

Sometimes the most Holy action we can take is to simply be still!

Without stillness, we miss the Lord's invitation to intimacy with Him.

Without stillness, silence, and rest...we can miss out on KNOWING our Lord more deeply.

From time to time, we all need to step off the path of busy to just be attentive to the presence of God. 

There in His presence, He awakens us to Himself...

Fills our souls with peace...

...our minds with the words of His voice...

...and our feet with the next right steps. 

So, for now...this is where you'll find me; I'll simply be "SON-BATHING" in His presence. 


As I bring this blog entry to a close, I'm reminded of this word of warning I read recently:

Let's be aware

We can linger

So long



that it stops being 


at all






Truth is that as much as I need to sit a bit right now, I would hate it long-term.

In fact, I think I might stagnate.

It's fullness of joy to me to continue doing what the Lord has called me to do.

So...I'll rest a bit.

Receive from the Lord.

Return to the work. 

I love being useful to/for the Master.

There's a P.S. I should add here: 

Jesus has a propensity that leans toward filling things to the full and overflowing. 
In fact, He seems to get great joy in doing so!

I'm pretty sure that's just around the corner. 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Stop Trying to Be the Lion…

I just arrived in Tampa, Fl after 10 days in Greece, where I served at a conference for women working globally.

I don’t have a compilation of places they all came from, nor the roles they play in their host countries; but, off the top of my head, we had several from Northern Ireland, the UK, France, Israel, Ukraine, Serbia, North Africa, East Africa, South Africa, and Romania. 

Just from this list alone, your observations inform that many are carrying the weight of heavy burdens. They arrived, we welcomed them into a safe space for worship, prayer, encouragement through the spoken word, counseling, spiritual direction, and a lot of TLC. 

One of the attendees said she felt as if, upon arrival, everyone came “tied up” with much heart ache, but over the course of several days, she sensed the spiritual, emotional, mental, even physical unraveling through the hand of the Lord. 

The Lord began a good work and I truly believe each woman left more equipped with tools to allow Him to finish what He began. 

I went to speak what the Lord had placed on my heart to share with these gals I consider my “tribe.” 

They are green-like-me (to understand what I mean there’s an explanation on a blog here…)

As ALWAYS HAPPENS, I leave challenged in many ways by these gals. So, here is one of the most impactful “thoughts” for me at this retreat. Perhaps it will spur you on, as well, and/or leave you pondering.

With each session, I left the gals with an optional assignment to further investigate Scripture on their own.

The first assignment came in the form of a Visio Divina exercise, where they looked up various verses, studied an image that went along with the basic theme and pondered the answer to a few personal questions to ascertain what God might be speaking to their hearts.

This was the photo:

Here are a couple of the verses:

Psalm 73:28

But, as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge…

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to those who are broken-hearted…

Psalm 145:18

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

You, too, can play around with this exercise and answer some of the following questions (the questions are myriad, so ask some of your own, along with these):

  • To what are your eyes drawn? Why?
  • What message is this picture bringing in general?  What message is it bringing to you, specifically?
  • What emotions does this picture solicit within you? Why?
  • How does the artist use color, shading, brush strokes, etc. to bring out deeper aspects of the image?
  • Who are you in this picture? How do you know? Is it who you want to be? Is it who the Lord wants you to be? 
  • Does the photo bring up anything that expresses a deep desire of your heart? 

So, the next morning, one of the gals who lives and serves alongside a ministry team in war-torn Ukraine, shared with me her experience with this assignment. 

She followed the directions, didn’t really seem to be “hearing” anything, until she flipped the page over, and saw the question: “Does the photo express a deep desire of your heart?”

To herself she responded, “Yes! I long to be the little girl resting fully, cuddled near to the heart of God.”

As soon as she thought her answer, the still small voice of God spoke into her heart:

Then, when will you stop trying to be the lion?!?

In that one question, the Lord also spoke to me.

I, also, fight waaaay too hard to be the lion…

The King on the throne of my own heart.

The one in control; trying to orchestrate the protection of many who are under my “watch.” 

The one manipulating pieces so life is easier, safer, and more secure. 

The one attempting to direct the traffic of circumstances. 

Busy, busy, busy.

Finding it difficult to simply “be,” and not always having to “do,” on this journey I travel heavenward. 

Of course, there are times we must “work” as laborers in the Kingdom. 

But, there are times, we need to step to the side, into lush green pastures and by still waters, where the Lord, our Shepherd, can watch over us and restore our souls. 

Then, we can step back into the journey with greater fervor and eagerness to see the Kingdom expanded.

With that, I’m reminded of this:

Without rest, we cannot fully risk for Jesus (Mark Buchanan).

That’s worth pondering….