Enjoying the Middle



I was recently reading a book, becoming more and more enthralled with the main character’s perilous journey, when the focus shifted to the rugged trail he had to take. There were pages and pages describing this trail.

Can I be honest? I skimmed those descriptions. My eyes went searching for his next thought or the next section of dialogue. Something other than that same rocky path.  I just wanted to get off of that trail and see what was going to happen next.

When I started to get frustrated, a gentle whisper informed me that I do that sort of thing all the time in my own life, and I need to slow down and enjoy the middle.

It’s true. I find myself wanting to hurry things along and get to the “good stuff.” Let’s get on with it, I might think. I’m ready for the next big thing, Lord.

But God doesn’t always want that. He doesn’t want us to miss the middle of our journey because not only are there a multitude of lessons to be learned in the middle, but God Himself is the One doing the teaching IF we’re willing to slow down and stop fidgeting out of frustration.

He wants to teach us lessons that will strengthen our faith for today, tomorrow, and way, way down that eh, rocky path, we might find ourselves on. 🙂

And a lesson we certainly don’t want to miss: God is in the details of our lives.

God is in the details all around us in our everyday lives and we may overlook those details if we rush right by thinking this is just a bunch of slow-me-down descriptions. He wants to show us things that, to someone else might not mean much, but to you and me, they could offer jaw-dropping, laugh out loud (literally!) moments that open our eyes to more of who He is and how He works in our lives.

But if you and I hurry through, skimming over them and rushing to get to the “good stuff” we’re going to miss that closeness with God, that intimate moment He wanted to share with us.

Need an example? There are thousands, billions perhaps.

Have you ever needed a quarter for the shopping cart or parking meter and found one in your car? Have you ever felt discouraged and a text came to you right then?

Did you ever notice how the rain stopped just when you stepped outside to get the mail or a song playing the perfect lyrics for your aching heart was on the radio the very moment you turned it on? What about receiving a card in the mail that gave you the confirmation you’d asked God for that same morning?

What about finding the last two pounds of the “right” kind of sausage at the grocery store to make your family’s favorite potato soup or seeing your Mom’s favorite spaghetti sauce was not only available but on sale right before you left to visit her?

You see, God is in the details, enriching our lives and blessing us all the way through the middle while we travel on the paths to get to where He wants us to be. And we don’t want to miss a single moment, a single detail of walking with Him.

Spending that kind of time with Him really is the good stuff.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (Psalm 46:10 NLT.)

“You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right- you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.” (Psalm 119:1-3 MSG.)


(Photo from pexels.com.)

When God is Working On You


I’ve been struggling this summer with various trials, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Health, finances, direction…whatever you’re dealing with, I pray this revised post brings you some clarity and peace as it did for me. (If you’d like to read the original post, click here.)

When you ask God for more of Him, sometimes things can get painful as He works on you, as He renovates you.

But it’s okay. God is in the renovation business.

He is like the silversmith that heats the silver, revealing the dross, those impurities in your heart, so He can scrape them off and toss them out of your life.

But before He removes them, He lets you see them. All of your bitterness and anger surface and sit there like ugly black chunks beside the bright, hot metal.  God allows you to get a good look at it, to really see it for what it is.

You get more and more uncomfortable the longer He allows it to stay. You want it gone.  You want God to hurry up and dispose of it because it’s painful to see.

And you can’t help but notice the striking contrast:  His blinding, powerful light against the darkness of your sin.

But again, you asked God to draw you closer to Him. This isn’t a task to simply point out your flaws but to point out your need for Him.  He’s the only One who can remove such agonizing and toxic things from your life.

He’s the only One who can prepare your heart for the blessings that are coming.

So you take a deep breath, acknowledge what you see and ask for forgiveness and for help. And then you let go.  You let go of the control. You let go of the situation. You lower your head because it’s all to much for you to handle. You just can’t. You’re too overwhelmed to fix anything, and you realize you shouldn’t be trying anyway.

It is God who is in the renovation business; taking the old, worn, and broken and making it new.

So you focus on Him. You imagine His mighty hand removing all the dross, all the poison, refining you.  Perhaps you hit your knees, completely falling apart knowing He is about to rebuild.  Or maybe you stand taller, tears streaming down your cheeks as you close your eyes and lift your face heavenward, knowing He is watching you… and smiling.

His renovation has brought you not only closer to Him but to a place of peace. You can let go. You don’t have to try to figure everything out. He’s got you. And He’s got this situation.

Which means you don’t have to let the stress of everything suffocate your joy.

You are free to walk even closer to God. It’s where He’s wanted you all along.

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” (Psalm 66:10 NIV.)




It started snowing on our flowers this morning, so naturally I grabbed my camera and ran out the door. A lone daffodil that had been standing tall in the sunshine yesterday, hung its head in a layer of snow and ice today.

I can completely relate to that flower.

Last week I had an amazing day with God and felt like His hand was in mine, and His face was shining on me all day long. I woke up, slipped on a really comfy and bright T-shirt (not just my socks!) and felt like God instructed me to grab some old CDs for the drive into town to get groceries.

I listened to songs I hadn’t heard in years and found myself laughing at what I used to think was so “cool” and crying when a few love songs made me think of God. (Am I the only one who does this?)

After visiting a few grocery stores and feeling such a peace among the bags of spinach, frantic mommas and their fussy little ones, and a kind woman who explained to me how to make dandelion jam, I was about to go home when I felt God telling me to go to one more store. I shrugged (what a profound response to my Lord!) and obeyed. As soon as I walked in I realized they had shelves full of chocolate on sale. I laughed and thought, Okay, Lord. If you really want me to buy some I will. Sometimes it’s downright fun to obey God. 🙂

I wandered over to the book section with a particular book in mind for a few friends, but instead found a biblically-based book on a subject I’d been praying to understand more: angels. As I went to pay for my items (only one piece of chocolate in my hand!), I heard a song over the speaker that stopped me right in the middle of the store.

I once had a vision of Jesus waiting for me under a tree with tears in His eyes as I ran to Him. I had the vision while listening to this song, so whenever I hear it, it stops me and I lock eyes with my Jesus.

I stood in that store and smiled. The chocolate was great and the book was a blessing, but this was a treasured moment; a private conversation between my Savior and me.

I was completely overwhelmed by His love that day, by the blessings He tucked into songs and brought through friendly faces, the surprise of flowers hidden around a corner when I took a walk later, and the sunlight filtering through the bare branches in our backyard and dancing on the ground at my feet.

But a new week began and life picked up its pace. I hit the ground running with my to-do list crammed in one pocket, writing deadlines in another, friendships to be nurtured in yet another pocket, planning for an event, preparing for two speaking engagements…I found myself running out of pockets. And air. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.

Until today. Today I hit my knees and prayed. It wasn’t anything fancy.  No special words or powerful Scripture came from my lips. Just a simple, “Please help me, Lord. I don’t know what to do.”

Not long after my prayer, I noticed the snow and the daffodil. In a strange way, I felt like I was looking at myself.

No, I’m not a bright yellow flower, of course. But I felt God shining His light on me just recently and here I was overwhelmed and loaded down with all this “stuff” I needed to get done.

I realized I can’t control time any more than that flower can control the snow.

But I know Who controls every bit of it.

And now as I look out the window, the snow has already melted and I know the daffodil will soon lift its head to be kissed by the sunlight again. And I will soon find myself standing in the middle of my life, smiling and in awe. Not because things are perfect or have slowed down, but because I’m no longer overwhelmed by anxiety but by peace. Peace that comes when I cry out to God for help and when I admit I can’t do it all.

Peace that overwhelms me like a day spent with God and locking eyes with my Savior in the middle of a store.

“O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed.” (Psalm 61:1-2a NLT.)

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT.)



Ice Cream and Instigators

ice cream and instigators

I did some pretty dumb things when I was a kid. When my brother and I were having ice cream at Grandpa’s, my brother (Mr. Instigator) dared me to take a spoonful and fling at it Grandpa’s face. Yep. Right at those glasses Grandpa was wearing, the ones he peered over as if to warn me of impending doom if I went through with it.  The clock hanging on the kitchen wall ticked, ticked, ticked while I debated, while my brother egged me on.  Grandpa’s glare.  Brother’s snickering.  Which one?  Which one?

Unfortunately, I listened to my brother, did the dirty deed, and watched as Grandpa marched right to the phone and called Dad. I was in trouble. BIG trouble. Suddenly pleasing my brother seemed like an awfully stupid thing to do, especially when I had to abandon my bowl of ice cream for a fun-filled, bottom-spanking walk back home while my brother finished his ice cream with a smug smile on his face.

Why would my brother convince me to do something like that? Maybe he just wanted a good laugh, to get me in trouble, or maybe he wanted my ice cream.  I don’t know. But whatever the reason, I didn’t do the right thing and I had to pay for it.

You know, you and I have to deal with two instigators every day who will get us into loads of trouble by trying to convince us to do the wrong thing, to disobey God.

The first instigator is our flesh; that weakling, whiny little toddler who pouts and stomps her feet until she gets her way. She’ll demand we pay attention to her and make sure she’s comfortable at all times and she certainly won’t part with anything we want to share with someone else.  “That’s mine!” she yells as she folds her arms, sticking out her bottom lip a bit further to show her displeasure.  She will deliberately drag us away from volunteering at the soup kitchen because she wants to go to the fair, insisting she needs cotton candy and a funnel cake. She proudly wears a T-shirt that states, “It’s all about me” and she will point to it anytime we forget.

The second instigator who diligently works at keeping us from obeying God is Satan. He is the enemy of our souls, the father of lies, the accuser, and the thief.  He will work very hard to steal our obedience because he knows if he gets it, he’s rendered us pretty useless for God’s Kingdom.  We’ll just sit in the corner, looking a lot like our fleshly selves, sucking on our thumbs and whimpering about God wanting us to do something that’s too hard or weird.  Satan will try to use our weakling flesh against us, to side with him.  He will creep up beside us, beside our fleshly selves, and pat us on the back, murmuring lies and filling us with doubts:

“What will everyone think if you do that? You know. Everyone is going to think you’re crazy.  Why don’t you just stay put, get comfortable.  You don’t need to do that. You don’t need to do what God tells you to do.  Surely if He’s God He can find someone else to do it.”

But when you hear that last one, you shoot straight up in your chair. Of course God can find someone else, but He chose you. Our Almighty God hand-picked you out of every other person on the face of the planet to do something for Him in this precise moment in time.  Why would you want Him to pass you up and find someone else?

What do you do?  There is no middle ground on this battlefield.  You’re either going to obey God or disobey Him.  Which will you choose?

Let me tell you, there is such joy in obeying God, in stepping out and moving through the fear to meet Him in the moment He ordained for you to be involved in.

And yet, there is such deep remorse, such profound and lingering sadness in disobeying God, in giving into those instigators and their ridiculous thoughts and lies. When you disobey God, you grieve His Holy Spirit who is within you.  It’s a pain you will share with Him, one that is nothing short of excruciating.

The choice is yours. Just remember the price to pay for listening to the instigators and disobeying God is far greater than the price of missing out on a bowl of ice cream. You’ll miss out on a blessing, a moment with God Himself.  A moment He chose to share with you.

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10 NLT.)

“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Galatians 5:17 NASB.)

 “So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. (James 4:7-8a MSG.)

 “He [Jesus] replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” (Luke 11:28 NIV.)

Heart Blessing


I can think of a thousand blessings in my life, and I’m sure you can too.  But what about those that line up with the desires of your heart; those blessings God withholds until you’re ready for them, those that bring Him honor and glory and leave you in awe that you, little old you, got to be a part of something so grand?

This of course is different for each of us.  That sort of overwhelming blessing, I’ll call it a heart blessing, can be finding the spouse you’ve wanted to find for so very long.  Or it may be to hold your child in your arms, inspecting those delicate eyelashes as tears rush right through your own.  Perhaps it’s finding your purpose and standing right there in the middle of it all, you find yourself almost shrinking into yourself as you realize how important, how massive this moment is in your life.

Heart blessings.  The desires of your heart become living, breathing realities.

God gives us more than just one.

I mean, our hearts are full, if we allow them to be, and over time they grow-up like the rest of us and our desires change.

When I was little, I wanted a pony, to be an astronaut, and to be a belly dancer (this one still makes me shake my head and laugh, especially when I pair it with “astronaut”).  I wanted to be and do so many things, and as I look back, I thank God none of them happened.  If they had, I may have been too busy dancing in outer space with my space pony to find two enormous heart blessings God had for me:  my husband and our daughter.

And yet I find I’m nervous.  Is it too much to keep dreaming?  Too much to keep hoping for another desire to come to fruition?

It’s like I see this blessing I’m praying for as a firefly.  It’s so close, so very real and lighting up before my eyes, but I’m afraid to touch it or my clumsy hands might hurt it or crush it.  And once I get it, then what?  Will I know how to handle it?  Will I try to cram it into a mason jar and forget to take care of it, forget to poke holes in the lid?

That’s why I’m praying:  Something so close and embedded within my heart needs God.  He’s the One who can bring that delicate blessing right into my hand when it’s the right time.  And if He chooses not to, I’ll trust Him.  (He kept me from orbiting the earth with my tummy hanging out…why wouldn’t I trust Him?)

I smile as I think about the years I’ve chased thousands of “fireflies” and how I tried to grab them, jumping and reaching. Not yet, God must have whispered.  And so the little girl in me, with chubby cheeks and pouty face, probably fought to hold back the tears.  But I kept going outside.  I kept watching and waiting for God to tell me when.

And now that I’m a grown woman, I’m sitting outside with God in the cool of the evening watching those fireflies.  I’m enjoying just being in His presence, listening to Him whisper my name and laugh as I am still, and forever will be, the little girl who smiles at butterflies on my hand, deer coming close, and the way leaves sound when they applaud the wind.

I do hope for another heart blessing.  One that has been with me since I was eight years old.  But I’m learning there is another heart blessing that’s been a reality my entire life:  my Heavenly Father.  He loves me, knows me, and cares for me uniquely, powerfully, tenderly, and boldly.  And knowing Him is the truest, deepest heart blessing any of us could ever have.

Funny, we can have that blessing whenever we want it.  No chasing it down and trying to force it.  All we have to do is ask, and God is there.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 NIV.)


Pulling Weeds

pulling weeds

How would you feel if your dentist were distracted by texting and forgot to numb you before beginning the root canal? Or what if the guy you carpool with to work was distracted by the tailgating-driver behind and didn’t see the stop sign or the school bus up ahead?

Distractions can be painful and deadly. They are like weeds growing up all around us that choke the flowers, those things in our lives we’re supposed to be caring for, and they diminish our focus; sometimes to the point where we forget God.

Weeds like to stand big and tall, so we’ll take notice and believe they’re important.  But they’re not.  Not really.  (That text really can wait until you pull the car over.  And the unanswered phone call isn’t going to make your cell phone disintegrate.)

It’s easy to get caught up in all the things you need to get done, to drag your panic attacks along with you as you breathlessly rush out the door to the next thing on your to-do list or to pat yourself on the back because your calendar has no bare spots. But is all that hurrying and busyness a distraction in disguise?

What you believe you need to do may be the very things keeping you from what God wants you to do.  You need to yank that big weed if it’s choking out the new growth God is bringing into your life.

Need an example?

I have a ton of work to do around the house and even more weeds, the literal kind, than I can count; a whole field of them! I feel like they’ve been taunting me and beating up on my sad little tulips and poking fun at my purple phlox.  But then I had an opportunity this week to volunteer at a food pantry.  I could have thought, “I can’t go anywhere.  I’ve got all this work to do, all these weeds to pull,” but instead I turned away from those busy distractions and focused on what I believe God wanted me to.

And let me just tell you, I have never known such a deep blessing in my soul. I went to bed that night thinking, “Today was one of the best days of my life.”  That’s the kind of life God has for us when we fix our eyes on Him.

So what distractions are keeping you from God’s blessing? Look around.  Do you see any “weeds?”  Anything that “seems” important but really in the overall panoramic view of your life doesn’t amount to a pile of dirt?

Give those weeds a good pull, those that are keeping you from God and His purpose for your life, and you’ll be able to see what was quietly waiting underneath all that other stuff is so much better.

“And the seed [the Word of God] that fell in the weeds- well, these are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun.” (Luke 8:14 The Message.)

Still Eating Sand?


Have you ever been excited about something new? Ah yes, that new car smell comes to mind.  Or maybe a new job has your mind spinning and pumping with adrenaline.  Or perhaps something like a new hairstyle and a new pair of boots has you grinning a little bit more and walking a bit taller.  “New” does not always mean “stuff.”  In fact, I like it more when “new” is from God:  a new approach to someone who’s grumpy, a new and exciting task we never thought we could accomplish, a new door we never noticed.

So what’s our part in “new” when God’s at work? Wait and pray.  Watch and be excited.  (This is coming from God…it could be anything!)  And be willing to accept change.

Wait a minute. Change?  What if we don’t want to change?  What if we like things nice and comfy and predictable?   Do we really have to change?

If you want something new, yes, you need to be willing to change. I need to be willing to change too.

I mean, I used to eat mud pies and crunch on a little sand from time to time in our sandbox in the backyard when I was a little girl, BUT thankfully God lifted me up, wiped the mud and sand from my face, and guided me through years of changing from that little girl into a woman who wants to make Him smile; my heart set on Him and my eyes fixed on the horizon for whatever He doesn’t want me to miss.

Let me put it this way, you only have two hands. You can either hold a mud pie in one hand and clutch a handful of sand in the other OR you can drop them both and pick up the “new” God has for you, the “new” He has specifically designed for you at this very moment in your life.

If you’re trusting God and not running away from change and His “new” for you like it’s something dreadful lurking in the shadows, it may possibly emerge as one of the biggest surprises and blessings of your life. So don’t run away.  Just sit tight and wait on God to introduce you to this change, this “new” He has for you.  You don’t want to miss it.

I’m sure it will be a whole lot better than sitting in the sandbox eating sand.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV.)