And the Verdict Is…

And the Verdict Is…

My daughter made and presented this jar to me after church one Sunday. She demanded that I immediately take out one of the questions she had placed inside and answer it out loud for her. I laughed, “These are personal questions that you can talk to God about”. Her face deflated and she declared, “But I don’t want to talk to God”.

Truth is, it is HARD to be truthful with God…partly because we don’t even talk truth to ourselves. We convince ourselves that our stomachache is from heartburn, when the truth is that we REALLY overate at Thanksgiving dinner. We lie to ourselves about how we spend our time, what we spend our money on, and what we really believe. We lie about whether we cheated in a relationship or on our taxes or talked negatively about a good friend to another. If the stakes are high enough, we lie. We even lie about whether we lie!

It is hard to be honest with ourselves and each other, but honest with God? That can be even harder because we know that God is perfect and in the Old Testament, He comes across as a bit judgmental! Anything we say could be used against us in a court of law! At least that is how it feels. Get your Bible out and put your hand on it. Promise to tell the whole truth and only the truth.

The truth is that so many of us get freaked out when we want to pray because we think that God is up there with a gavel just waiting to hand out His next verdict. Truth is that He already decided the verdict about you. He deliberated about your past, your lies, your drama, your inability to see past your own nose, your dislike of everyone different from you, your desire to overeat, overindulge, and over-evaluate everyone. And He found you……

NOT guilty. (More on that in a sec)

There was a woman back in the 1st century who had a bleeding problem for years. YEARS! 12 of them in fact! She was part of the Jewish culture that Jesus was born into and because of this culture, she was considered unclean. She would not have been in close relationships with anyone considered worthy or upstanding in their society. She would never have anyone or be anyone in that culture.

She had heard about Jesus and how he healed people so she came to where a crowd was around Him. She said to herself that if she could just reach out and touch the hem on his clothing, he would heal her. So she reached out and he did heal her! She could feel the healing. But he could feel the power of the healing also! And then he did something terrifying.

He asked who had touched his clothes and the whole crowd stopped and waited for someone to speak up. She had been willing to reach out to him, but then he posed this question to the entire crowd! What could she do?Would she speak with him? Would she let him know what she was thinking and feeling? Would she trust him enough to let him get to know her?

He wanted more than just to heal her. He wanted a relationship with her. He wanted to hear from her mouth what she had done and why. And even though she was afraid, so afraid that she was shaking, she came and told Jesus the whole truth. She let him in on what was going on inside her mind and heart and body!

When she chose to answer Him with the whole truth despite her trembling and fear, He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” When we do choose to tell Jesus our whole truth, He answers us with the same love and affirmation. We bring the diseases of our body and soul to Him and He listens and tells us that our faith has healed us and that we can go in peace.

I want the kind of healing that comes from laying it all out in prayer with my God. I want the kind of healing that touches body AND soul. And to get there, I just reach out to God and tell Him the whole truth. The truth is that I can’t do good or be good on my own. I can’t stop lying or cheating or calling names without His help. The truth is that I need HIM!

Only Jesus can listen to that level of truthfulness and still call me “Healed”, because He is the only one who can call me “NOT GUILTY”.

A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with. At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!” But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and gave him the whole story. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

Mark 5:25‭-‬34 MSG

Out of Control

Out of Control

Yesterday, getting ready to leave the house on an errand that my preteen daughter did not want to go on, I told her that the HUGE stuffed animal she was planning to bring had to stay home. I was tired of her leaving it and retracing our steps to find it. I took the squashable stuffed mint green owl and plopped it onto the couch and watched it fall off. She said that she hated me and that I was mean. “You threw my stuffed animal on the ground and it landed on it’s FACE and you don’t EVEN CARE!”

As we got in the car and began our journey, I tried to reason with her. I tried to help her see logic. I then tried to help her see that I am the Mom and she is not. She, in turn, let me know repeatedly that I was not measuring up to her standard of what it means to be in a relationship with her. In her mind, I was not the Mom I was supposed to be. In my mind, I was talking to God while she raged on. “Why God? Why is she saying this? Am I not good to her? Do I not love her enough? I need You to show me what to do. I’m in over my head with this parenting business. How am supposed to be a mother and a father to this child?! What do I say back to her? I am at a loss.”

As a mother with a fourth child, I have finally learned the importance of taking a break from an upset child who is looking for a reaction. So after my errands, I drove toward my sister’s house 5 minutes away, planning to take a walk there. I deposited my child on the couch at her house with a requirement that she not move until she was done making a ruckus. I made a cup of coffee while the wailing continued. In my head, I continued my conversation with God. “She is testing every boundary I have, God! I need a break. I don’t have answers here! Why aren’t You giving me answers?! Don’t you even CARE about me?!!” My sister came out of her room wearing a sleeping bag. I laughed and snapped a pic. She slumped to the kitchen floor to relax and chat with me as my coffee brewed.

We discussed the situation at hand…the wailing child on her couch, my desire to take a walk. She told me about an article she read that said to tune into what a child is feeling when they are upset. The child is no longer capable of logic and must have their feelings understood so they can reach a point of lucidity and step out of the tantrum. So, taking her advice, I went to my squalling child and tried to use understanding words. I quickly gave up and let her know that if she wanted to continue to fuss, it was her choice. My sister urged me to go walk, so I set out the door determined to get into a better frame of mind.

Around the twenty minute mark, I looked out over a pond and saw the sunset. The thought entered my mind, “Did I just yell at God and tell Him that He doesn’t care about me?” I was struck by the resemblance my daughter had to me. Do I blame God, my Father, when my day or even my LIFE is not turning out like I think it should? When I struggle, I just want God to make life feel good again. I want Him to do everything to make me happy. It is easy for my daughter to blame me when she is upset, but it is just as easy for me to place blame on my Father in heaven.

Our lives are not easy and we just want things to be easy so badly! We want our life to make sense. We want simple equations like “If I do good things, then I will get good things.” But as we live life, we meet people who defy that logic. I have a friend who worked hard to be good at basketball and then ended up paralyzed from the neck down. I know another man whose little daughter died while he was a Pastor trying hard to help others with their daily lives. I developed lead poisoning at 21 years of age from scraping paint on the apartment I was preparing to live in as a newlywed. We were all working hard to achieve something good and trying not to hurt others in the process. We all ended up in a dark place where we felt abandoned and rejected by God. Was this a “good” place to be? Would any of us have chosen this path at the time?

During our darkness, we felt like God was letting our hearts burn into a pile of ashes. How could this ever cause anything “good”? There was nothing left to salvage and none of us could see any good in the suffering at the time, but each of us came to a place where we realized that we could choose to trust God anyway. Decades later, we can all see that these dark times were a period of life where God was doing something “good” in each of us. We each chose to live life accepting that we are not in charge. Not being in control of our life is a good thing because the One in charge is worthy of our trust. He is the God who raises the dead to life and turns ashes into beauty!

Last night, my sister talked with my daughter while I was on that walk. She used her God-given ability to tune into the emotions of others and reach my daughter in that dark emotional place she inhabited. When I returned from my walk, this child, the one I could not reach, was laughing and playing a game with my sister. I can’t even describe how grateful I felt in that moment…toward my sister, but also toward my God who listens to my cries and answers my prayers. He may not answer in the exact moment I want and He may not always have the answer I want, but I can always trust Him to have the answer I need.

Though he slay me, I will hope in him.

Job 13:15



For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-10



to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3

What is the Point?

What is the Point?

Abba, I need more faith this morning. I need to know that You are here with me and that you see me and know me and still love me. I need to know that I matter to You. And I need direction. I feel like I have no idea what I am doing here on this earth. I need Your hand to guide me and show me what I need to be doing on a daily basis. I am just super lost trying to figure this out on my own. Only You have the whole picture and know what is the best course. I only see through a glass darkly and right now that glass is really fogged up.

I get so worried about the future that I don’t know how to live in the now. It feels like my days consist of sitting and worrying and doing things that are meaningless. I want to know that I am making a difference to someone out there…that I am making a difference for you. I want to know that You think I am doing a good job. I want to feel like I am where I am supposed to be. It feels like I am just dangling over a precipice and waiting for the last terrifying moment when the string holding me breaks loose. I just feel so defeated wondering what the point is to what I spend my time on. Will you lead me? Will you send me where you want me? Right now, my life feels meaningless.

Is there a person out there who is supposed to tell me what I need to work on? Do I need a partner in my life? Do I need a boss at a job? Why do I struggle so much with keeping my life full of things that I find meaningful? Is it because I am still grieving over loss? Is it because I have a personality disorder or PTSD? Am I depressed? Am I not right in the head? Do I need to seek help from other people or is it ok to curl up in bed and just cry because I don’t have the answers? I feel like I am failing the test of life. Is life a test? I know it’s not, but there are a million things that I want to be faithful in that I am not and I don’t understand why I keep messing things up. There are a million things that I do right also, but it feels like they are a drop in a bucket.

So God, since I can’t get it right, I need You. I need Your direction, Your will, Your ability to love others, Your light to guide me, Your clarity for relationships, Your eyes of love on me, Your vision for my future, Your kindness to me, Your favor as I do the things that You guide me into, Your EVERYTHING. Whatever You have for me today….that’s what I want. I can’t do this on my own. This thing I have called life is too much for me. I need Your life in me more than I can say. I need ALL of YOU to fill ALL OF ME, because I have nothing left. I have nothing without YOU.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

John 4:13-15

What Am I Worth?

What Am I Worth?

Abba Father, I am coming to you because you understand me like no one else. You know that I struggle with myself more than anyone else. There is just a part of me that is afraid that “What I do is never going to amount to anything, so why do I even try?” I know that this attitude is defeatist in nature and not good for me, but sometimes I am literally paralyzed with this fear and I stay in my room watching Netflix or just finding pins to put on my Pinterest boards so that I can say to myself that I am doing something worthwhile. I know that every moment doesn’t have to be productive, but I am just feeling like I don’t know what is worth something anymore. Which parts of what I do actually matter? Which matter to You? Are you pleased with me when I do almost nothing for an entire day? How far does Your ability to love me go?

I look at my kids and realize that You love me more than I love them. My love for them is not contingent upon whether they do anything. I just want them to work on whatever they love and have a passion to do because I know that doing what they love is part of living in the giftedness that you gave them. So since You are a good and perfect Father to me, you love me right where I am no matter what I am doing. Your love is not about what I do.

So today I am letting go of trying to be something other than who I am. I will live in the moment and let myself work on things that you’ve given me a desire to do! I will live in the truth that You love me just as I am and you have joy over me. And if you have joy over me, then I will have joy that you feel that way about ME!

The fact that the God who made the entire universe and keeps life in motion loves me and feels actual joy over me is beyond comprehension! How can you feel joy when you look at me? I look at me and see a self-absorbed, anxious, worried, inept, disaster who keeps hurting others and can’t seem to stop. But then I see You watching me and how Your eyes light up just because I am me! You created me so that you could enjoy knowing me. When I talk to You, You listen and You care and You are glad that I came to chat with You for a while.

And then I think about how Jesus came here to this earthly place where he lived like me and felt all of the same messy jumble of feelings that I do. And he endured those feelings of shame and humiliation and sadness and then pain like I’ve never known when He was made a human sacrifice.  All because You love me enough to do absolutely anything to have me in Your life!!

So what can I say? I will choose to see myself as whole and healed and loved and righteous. I will say of myself the things that are true. I am clean. I am held. I am blessed. I am highly favored.


Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10

“But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”  Isaiah 49:4
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”  Habakkuk 3:19
Daniel 10:17  “How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

It’s Time to Give Your Heart Away

We’ve all heard that it is more blessed to give than receive. But do we realize that when we live generously, we develop a new kind of heart?

My kids make me the most proud when I see them being kind to others who don’t give them anything back except gratitude. This is my youngest daughter at the park making sure that all the younger kids have a good time as she pushes the equipment and is careful that no one falls off or gets left behind.


In this world, it sometimes feels as if the rich and powerful get there by ruthless determination and manipulation. I love how God shows us another way in the book of Ruth. In this book, there was a man named Boaz who was rich and powerful but talked to his field laborers with kindness even though he was an upper-class Israelite. He treated others like they mattered.

One day a poor woman from another culture that Israelites looked down upon, came to his grain field to pick up the leftovers. Because Boaz was in the habit of being kind to others, he immediately asked about her and quickly realized that she was also in the habit of practicing kindness to others. She had given up her own culture and country to follow and care for her mother-in-law in a foreign country.

Neither Boaz nor Ruth were kind in order to receive something back in return, but because of their generosity of heart, Boaz and Ruth found one another and were married. Their great-grandson was King David and their line produced the Savior of the entire world, Jesus Christ, who blesses us with the most generous gift of all….His own life.

As I watch my kids grow and mature into adults, my prayer is always that they learn that having a giving heart is part of having God’s heart. That’s who God is. In love, He laid down His life. Because of love, He gave everything He had to every single person in this entire world who has ever lived. He gave because we needed Him. He gave because He heard our prayers. He gave because no one else had what we needed.

King David would grow up to ask God to give him a clean heart. And even in the pain of giving His own life to save others, Jesus knew the power of giving. With His last breath He said “It is Finished” because He had given the whole world what we needed more than anything…

a new heart…a clean heart…HIS Heart

a heart that is free to know the power of living generously