Severe Mercies


“God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful — ‘severe mercies’ at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better” (Elisabeth Elliot).

I saw where you entered through those gates of splendor you had written about all those years ago. I read where your own suffering had ended, that ‘severe mercy’ that God gave you to bear, Alzheimer’s disease, was finally over.

You taught me that the mark of a man is in being both tough as nails about what he believes and fights for and tender toward those he fights for.

You shared the words that your first husband, Jim, wrote, before he was martyred for his faith: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

You showed me that faithful obedience and surrender to Jesus aren’t the keys to joy. They are the joy, that a heart given over completely to God is a heart at rest.

You helped me see that trust doesn’t always require explanations or answers or reasons why. Faith is its own reward and God above all is enough.

You defined true femininity when you wrote these words: “. . . my plea is let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is”.

I hear God saying to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into your rest.”

I and so many others will carry on your legacy you left behind in your books and speeches and letters. We are your legacy.

So thank you. May all who come behind us also find us equally faithful.

Be Encouraged. B-E Encouraged.

“God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, The Message).

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read this verse aloud at least once a day for the next five days. Unless you feel really weird reading it aloud, in which case you may read it in your “inside-your-head” voice. You have my permission.

Remember, Jesus didn’t die to give us a get out of hell free card. It isn’t about something that’s waiting in the bye and bye.

It’s here and now. It’s life– abundant and full and overflowing life– right now.

Some of us are having a hard time remembering that right now. Some feel so weighed down by grief or stress or despair that it’s hard to feel alive. It’s hard to live abundantly when you feel as if all you’ve been doing is treading water to stay afloat in the flood.

That’s why Paul tells us to encourage each other. He didn’t say think good thoughts toward each other and have the best intentions to let them know that their in your prayers. No. He said to actively encourage them through any and all means at your disposal, whether that be pen and paper, face-to-face affirmation, smoke signals, social media, or morse code.

Who needs your encouragement most? Who is God putting on your heart? Your real mission is to encourage that person in a real and tangible way in the next 24 hours. Go!


The Odd Blog


I had an idea or two about what I was going to write about this evening, but at the moment, neither of them seem as compelling. Plus, I’m very tired.

I’m thankful for people. I know it’s an odd thing to say. Besides, people can be disappointing and rude and unkind at times. Even the best of people have their off days every now and then, not to mention periods of grumpiness and bad moods.

But life without people isn’t nearly as fulfilling as life with people. As much as I love my cat, she’s not the most stimulating conversationalist I’ve ever met. She tends to be a little short on words.

The right people in your life can inspire and encourage you to do more than you thought you could. They can keep you going when you by yourself would have given up.

That’s what I want. I want someone to say, “Because of you, I kept going. I didn’t give up.”

I’ve had those people come into my life at just the right moments. Some were only meant for a short season and some are still around. I thank God for all of them.

My assignment for you is this: find someone who needs encouragement and be that encouragement. Find someone who won’t believe that God loves them until they see it from you. Find people who doesn’t see much in themselves and help them to see that they too bear the Imago Dei, the image of God, and are intrinsically valuable.

In short, love people the way you want to be loved. Treat people like you want to be treated. And remember that God loved you at that moment when you were at your very worst, so you can love anybody.

Another Blog About Nothing


I swear I had a great idea for a blog this morning. I probably had another two or three decent topics lined up. Right now, at 10:23 pm, I can’t remember a single one of them. One day I will write these strokes of genius down on paper or make a note on my phone.

So you get another one of my stream-of-consciousness ramblings. Which is make even more fun by the fact that my brain is tired, as is the rest of me.

I can’t believe it’s almost the 4th of July weekend already. That means the year is over halfway over. That means we’re past the summer solstice and the days are getting shorter again. Before you know it, school will start back up again.

The seasons are reminders of God’s faithfulness. Just as summer follows spring and autumn follows summer, so the promises of God always come to pass. That will always be true.

I hope that is as comforting to you as it is to me these days. It’s good to have a few constants in this crazy world of change and unrest. It’s good to know that as unpredictable as life can be that God will always keep His word.

Friends and Pins and Stuff


I have a Pinterest account. I think I’ve established that fact.

I will go a while without pinning anything and then I will pin for 30 minutes straight. Or something like that. I’ve never actually timed my pinning sessions.

Lately, I’ve been pinning a lot of Friends- themed pins. It’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that the last episode of that show aired 10 years ago. 10 years.

In my mind, 1994 was 10 years ago, not 2004. It’s like I have a 10-year block in my brain. And I am really not ready for 1984 to be 30 years in the past.

I don’t feel 40-something. Most of the time I feel 30-something (or even 20-something on really good days). The joke is that you feel like you’re in your 20’s until you hang out with actual 20-somethings, then you feel your own age again.

So back to Friends. I still love watching the re-runs. All those characters were so perfectly cast and each one had his or her own quirks and faults and strong points. Like me. I’m sure I have my strengths and weaknesses like anybody else.

I think we all have to realize that as imperfect as we are, so is everybody else around us. If I can give myself grace for not being perfect and for committing the occasional blunder or two, I can do the same for others.

It’s easy to nurse the wounds and play the martyr and hold grudges. Somehow, it feels better. But it’s not the better way. Jesus showed that the better way is forgiveness. The better way is turning the other cheek. The better way is loving your enemies.

Notice I didn’t say the easier way. Usually, the better way is the harder way because it goes against my natural inclinations. I’d rather treat others like they treat me and not give those who don’t treat me right the time of day.

But ultimately, it’s not about how others treat me. It’s about how Jesus treated me when I was a stranger and an alien and an enemy. That’s my new standard now.

And no, I didn’t expect to go from 90’s TV sitcoms to heavy theology in one blog. That’s just how I roll sometimes.

It’s 12:18 AM on a Sunday Morning


I met a new friend today.

Well, I say that loosely. This “friend” is a canine who just so happens to be old, blind, and deaf. So it’s possible he’s still not aware of my existence, but I think he got to recognize my scent.

Dogs and cats are good like that. They are (for the most part) automatically trusting. They don’t require you jump through a lot of hoops or adhere to a slew of unwritten rules the way that people often do.

My cat Lucy remains loyal, no matter how many times I’ve accidentally stepped on her tail or let her food bowl get empty (for her, that means she can see the bottom of her bowl). She still likes to curl up in my lap and fall asleep.

I could take this post in a direction where I wonder out loud why more people aren’t like that. But then I’d be pointing a finger at me.

I could also say that I’m promising to be a better friend from now on and never give up on any of my friends, but then I’d be setting myself up for an unrealistic dream and inevitable failure.

The truth is that some friends are forever and some friends aren’t. Some will stick with you though the hard times and some won’t. Some will be blessings and some will be lessons, but each and every person God brings to your life is there for a reason.

I think it was Madea who said something like this: “Some folks are like leaves in that they change direction with every gust of wind. Some are like branches that give out when you try to put your weight on them and lean on them. Some are like roots that will be around for the duration

Or something to that effect. Madea said it a lot better than I just did.

I do believe that if you have five or more true-blue friends in your lifetime, you are truly blessed. Facebook may tell you that you can have up to 5,000 friends, but the real truth is that you will have far less who are really and truly friends in every sense of the word. The rest are just good acquaintances.

Here endeth my lesson on Sunday morning at 12:31 am.

My Nothing Blog (Again)


When you write a daily blog, chances are very good that some days you’ll have the ol’ blogger’s block. I’ve written almost 1,300 of these, so I’m allowed to have the occasional off-night.

I’m thinking that in my experience, nothing ever quite works out exactly like you want, but more often than not, what you get is better than what you originally expected. Try working that one out in your head.

Sometimes, you say goodbye to people you thought would always be around. Some people pop into your life unexpectedly and stay for a while. Very few will be in your life for the long haul.

I’m thankful for all the people in my life, whether they were there for one hour, one day, one week, one month, or one year. Some have gone and some are still around. Some were blessings and some were lessons.

If you’re reading this, I’m thankful for you. I don’t take you for granted.

Hopefully, I’ll have something better to write about tomorrow.

A Prayer Before Sleep


I confess that I am selfish and self-centered, like so many of your children. My comfort comes first and I don’t want to be inconvenienced in any way.

Remind me how you gave up all your comforts above to come dwell among us.

Remind me how you chose a poor teenage girl and a backwoods town and a dirty feeding trough to make your entrance into this world. There was nothing comfortable or convenient about Your arrival.

Remind me how the first to hear the good news weren’t royalty or the high-ranking or the well-to-do but some lowly unwashed shepherds out with their flocks. They were your first evangelists, your first preachers, your first missionaries.

Remind me how you gave up Heaven and all the rights associated with it and chose to become nothing, a slave who was faithful and obedient to the point of a tortuous and excruciating death on a cross.

Remind me how it was all for me. It was all for people just like me.

Never let me forget that you went through all that because you would rather go through hell for me than be in Heaven without me.

Tell me again how You are with me, how You will never leave me nor forsake me, how You will finish what you started in me, and how nothing is too hard for You– not even my stubborn streak and my hard-headedness or my hard-heartedness.

Thank you that Advent means you love me where you found me like I was but you refused to leave me that way.


For Rosanne* and All The Others Like Her Out There

*I have changed her name slightly just for the purposes of avoiding embarrassment for anyone involved. And because it sounds and looks cool.


I’ve been watching you.

I’ve seen how you desperately long for attention from certain guys. You hang around their work areas and act demure and flirty around them. Why?

Maybe you’re looking for affirmation from them. Maybe you’re looking for them to love you.

Who knows?

I know one or two of these guys have pretended to be nice to you and then proceeded to talk about you behind your back. Even call you names like “slut” and “whore.”

It’s sad that people are like that. It makes my heart hurt for you.

Didn’t you know that you have a Man crazy for you? That man is Jesus.

Didn’t you know that you have a Father who adores you and longs to hold you close and sing songs of love over you while you sleep at night?

Didn’t you know that you are not the number of guys you’ve slept with or the number of failed relationships you’ve had?

You are a real-life princess because your Father is a king. The King of the Universe, in fact. God Himself loves you just as you are and not as you should be. Or even as you would like to be.

He wants you. Just you. Even with all your mess and all your scars and all your fears. He wants you to know Him and find out that He really isn’t angry at you for all your mistakes and screw-ups.

God has a man for you who will cherish and respect and love you. A man who will treat you like royalty and not like an object. A man who will be as nice and kind when talking about you as he is when talking to you.

Oh, and one more thing before I forget.

Jesus is for you. God is for you. And I am, too.

I remain, as always, your friend.

My Exhausted Advent Prayer


Note: I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired in my entire life. Working 136 hours in two weeks will do that to a person. Plus, I have some sort of allergy/sinus/cold crud that is extremely annoying.

I just finished watching A Charlie Brown Christmas again. As always, I loved it.

As always, I got a little emotional when Charlie Brown thinks he’s killed his little Christmas tree. He says, “Everything I touch gets ruined.”

Have you ever felt that way? Maybe about relationships? Careers? Hopes?

This Advent prayer is for you and me:

Lord, this season marks the anticipation of Your coming. We long for and look forward to Your arrival. We so need you.

Too often, we feel neglected, forgotten, left out and alone. We feel like the only ones that people can never make time for.

We long to matter to someone, to not always feel like the substitute people that others will be around only when the people they REALLY want to be with aren’t available.

It seems as though sometimes that people have given up on us, decided we weren’t worth the effort, and moved on. Only they neglected to tell us.

Be near us tonight. Remind us that Your coming is not far off now.

Remind us that Immanuel means “God is with you” and “God is with me.”

Immanuel means that You are near to the broken hearted and crushed in spirit. Those who have all but given up on people and who are so fearful of being let down and hurt yet again that they have shut down their hearts.

Let us feel you near. Let us hear You speak words of tender compassion in the day, sing songs of joy and delight over us in the night. Call us by our true names that only you and we know.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.