What are Sparks?

deer sparks

I know you’re busy. Life can be frantic and chaotic, messy and wonderful all in the span of about five minutes.

Maybe you just need a little spark of encouragement or inspiration to warm your day and draw you closer to God.

I hope these Sparks do just that.

Blessings to you!!




Don’t Forget the Forgotten

don't forget

I once had a writing teacher who taught to look for the unnoticed, the dismissed things in life and write about them. He explained writers are to use peripheral vision.

I thought about that for a long time. How do we use peripheral vision?

In writing, it means to catch those hidden gems, those tiny details in a scene: the smell of fried potatoes as they hiss from a cast-iron skillet, the man wearing a suit and tie who digs into his pocket, pulling out a fifty-cent comb to smooth his already sleek hair, or the sparrow hopping in the slushy parking lot who stops to peck at a piece of plastic.

But what if God wants us to use our peripheral vision for His purpose?

Maybe He wants you to notice the elderly man who can’t reach a bag of potato chips and not only help him with it but talk to him; you may be the only person he’s talked to in days. Or maybe the teen across from you at the gas station just learned his parents are getting a divorce and he could really use some kindness.  Perhaps there is a woman you see every day who is hiding behind her smile, loneliness slowly breaking her apart.

They are out there. And it’s no accident that you are out there with them.  Let God use you to reach them.

But the forgotten are not always those we’ve never met or those we believe society has dismissed. Sometimes they are those in our lives we simply get too busy to remember.

I know, it’s the Christmas season and you’ve got a million things to do.

But what if instead of worrying about all of those things, you honor Jesus’ birthday by remembering those He came to save, those the world seems to have forgotten.

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16 NIV.)

An Open-Faced Sandwich

Open-faced sandwich

Are you waving goodbye to summer with a smile on your face or are you starting to whimper as it fades like a lonely sunset?

Me?  I’m still trying to take it all in. This summer was like a sandwich with thick bread and yummy apple jelly slathered on top.

I know.  Goofy, right?

Let me explain.

Our daughter was away for most of the summer visiting Grandma and Grandpa some six-hundred miles away.  Knowing she was safe and loved like crazy gave my husband and I time to tear into projects around the house.  And while he was at work, I was with God.

Big slice of bread.

God sat with me in the quiet of our house in the early morning hours, teaching me more about who He is and who I am to be.  He brought breezes while I hoisted bags of mulch and rain when I was too tired to keep sanding the deck with the belt sander I was sure could rip off my arm in a nanosecond.  (God was smiling when I ran and laughed in the rain like I used to when I was little girl and reminded me I will always be His little girl and that I need to laugh more.)  He gave me energy to paint the bedroom walls, the basement windows, and the deck doors, and I gave Him a few good laughs when I did my crazy dance when no one else was around.

Crazy dance?  You know…you hold your nose and pretend like you’re going down into the water with one arm raised high while your body gives a little wiggle.  Remember, God told me I needed to laugh more.

Then it was time to follow our daughter those six-hundred miles away to my Mom’s.

That was the apple jelly of my summer sandwich; time with family, making memories, slowing down.  It was all so very sweet.

Unfortunately, the time we had together quickly came to an end and we found ourselves back at home with more painting and mulching waiting to be done.  Combine those tasks that stared at me like a puppy waiting for a pat on the head with getting our daughter ready for school in a big hurry, and I hit the panic button in my brain.

I rushed her to various appointments I knew would be easier to take care of now instead of during the school year.  I hurried her through dressing room after dressing room for school clothes, barked that she needed to start going to bed earlier, and then followed along as she carefully chose the right school supplies (her favorite part).

After a few days to rest, she was back at school and I found myself task oriented again.  What job should I tackle next?  Which one takes top priority?

But I realized, I was staring at an open-faced sandwich.  One piece of bread only.

I forgot to ask God for another slice of bread; another moment, another lesson, another song-in-the-rain and dance-until-we-both-laugh kind of moment with Him.  I’d been nibbling on the crumbs that had fallen off since the apple jelly, but I wanted more.

Funny how being so busy and task-oriented causes such a hunger only God can fill.

I’m hungry, Lord. For more of You.

I want to wake up every morning to the scent of freshly baked bread, to cut off a great big slice, and sit down and enjoy every fragment of it as it fills me like nothing else can.

Yes.  I want God’s presence, His love and His lessons, to encompass all things in my life.  I want Him to be the beginning and the end of each season of my life.

And I wouldn’t mind a little crazy dance every now and then.

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35 NIV.)


When Your Defenses Are Down


If you’re fighting the flu, it’s hard to fight off other infections.  Your physical defenses are down.

The same is true when your spiritual defenses are down. You haven’t been praying, pushing God off to the side thinking you’ll talk to Him later, and reading the Bible?  Well you’re too busy for that.

Until something hits you hard. Maybe not a tragedy but something comes along and aggravates you and your patience melts like an ice cube on a hot sidewalk leaving you foaming at the mouth in anger and narrowing your focus to the problem and the impossibility of fixing it or figuring it out.

You’ve just been caught in a trap, my friend. Remember the cartoon where a loop of rope is hidden under a pile of leaves to catch the unsuspecting rabbit?

Well here you are, the rabbit, hanging upside down from a tree just kicking and flailing and totally stuck. Before long you run out of kick and you just dangle there.  You’re plumb tuckered out.  The blood is rushing to your head and now you’re forced to hang there and think about what just happened.  If you would have paid attention, you would have seen those sneaky eyes peeking out from behind the tree watching you and waiting in the darkness to pounce on you when your defenses were down.  But you were too busy.  Too busy for God and too busy to be alert.

Of course the enemy comes out from hiding, smiling at you and laughing this sickening laugh that makes your skin want to peel off and crumble. He’ll start talking to you while you’re hanging there, telling you you’re defeated, and he’s got you now.  He’ll remind you of the fit of rage you just had, and he’ll smirk when he tells you he caused that whole situation.  He’ll laugh when he tells you how this time, you really messed up and it’s too late to turn back to God now.  Yes, he’ll even remind you how you were pushing God away because you were too busy.  And he’ll ask you why you think God would want anything to do with you now.

My friend, it’s time to cut through those lies with the truth of God’s word that’s hidden in your heart:

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5 NIV.)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9 NIV.)

“I have loved you with an everlasting love…”  (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV.)

Speak His Word with authority from the core of your spirit and watch as those words slice right through that rope like the sword that it is. And don’t worry about the fall.  That pile of leaves?  Satan may have used them to disguise his trap, but God will use them to cushion your fall.

So stand up, brush those leaves off, and turn your back on that lying enemy, and press on. And after you thank God for that rescue, ask Him to forgive you for pushing Him aside and ask Him to help you make Him your number one priority.  When you do, everything else will fall into place.  And you’ll know the next time there’s a trap up ahead.

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11 NIV.)


Lost in the Shuffle


It’s easy to lose things. Keys get misplaced.  Coupons, paperwork, and homework can all wind up missing in a stack of the unknown.

But can we lose God?

It’s easy to lose Him too. Not in the sense that we’ve misplaced Him like He’s some inanimate object.  Not hardly.  But we can lose Him in the shuffle of life.  We get caught up in our own world, doing our own things, and we lose that closeness with Him.  We’re simply too busy to slow down and really, really focus on Him.  So we allow Him to fade into the background. We think it’s okay because He’s faithful and He’ll always be there, right?

But then we feel like He’s not. You know, that feeling that God is so far away.  Only He didn’t go anywhere.  You did.  You moved on without Him.  You forgot to ask Him to stay with you, to be extra close, to whisper throughout the day what you need to hear from Him.  When you went to bed, you forgot to remember Him.  And when you got out of bed in the morning, you forgot to thank Him.

But the moment you realize what’s going on, that very second you tell God you’re sorry, that you miss Him, He whispers back,

I miss you too.

That’s right. The relationship you have with God is not a one-sided deal.  He misses you when you don’t slow down to talk to Him, when you rush through His Word like it’s a duty instead of a privilege, when you forget to ask Him to help you through that tough situation, and when you close your eyes at night without going back through your day and seeing Him everywhere and thanking Him.  He still watches you, but from a distance because that’s how you want it to be.  You chose it by your actions or lack thereof.  He never wanted it that way.

God wants to be your number One priority, your Best Friend of all time, the One who saves you from yourself, Who protects you when others fail to see the danger signs in your life, and Who loves you when you’re not so loveable. God wants to teach you and guide you and lead you to the awesome life He designed just for you.   But He wants to be a part of it.  In fact, He wants to be the biggest part of it.  He’s a jealous God and won’t allow anyone or anything to take His place.   And He wants the best seat in your life, right there in the very center of your heart where you give Him everything you’ve got and you can’t possibly lose Him.  Not because life suddenly slowed down and everything grew quiet and perfect, but because you love Him so much and you’re so fixed on Him, you know right where He is:  Within you.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied:  ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.”  (Matthew 22:36-38 NIV.)