Friday, March 20, 2009


Nominations had been made, the court was selected, and escorts had been asked. The big question was looming, and it was nearing the final vote. Who would win homecoming? Although years have come and gone, and it has become a blip on the screen of life, right then it was as important and talked about as the presidential elections. This was a small town, and not a lot of news came down the pike. The cows and corn stood in the fields, and anything that altered the daily routine in the slightest became news worthy. Homecoming was the big event, and who would be crowned Queen her senior year was the fairy tale we all dreamed and waited to see to whom such an honor would be bestowed. It was the culmination of our high school career, speculated about, and commented on endlessly—we had our own version of CNN way back then and there were voices that were the authority on the pick. It was voted upon by our peers and counted by the student council, but endlessly bantered about with all the details as if it were Entertainment Tonight at the Oscars. There were four finalists. It was American Idol—who would be the winner—who would be left standing in the spotlight? The air was electric with the excitement—today was the big vote.

As you may have guessed this was not just any vote—they were voting on me! Sadly enough, I had all my worth wrapped up in it—no one was there to balance that voice, and I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. I was nervous, excited, and ready for the results. As is the case in most hand counted ballots, those who did the counting were the first to know the results. AND they happened to be friends that knew I would be excited, so they did what a good teenage friend would do. They called me after school to let me know that---I had won! Seriously? I was in shock. Wow! It was hours before the announcement at the football game, and they couldn’t wait to tell me. I think they were as excited as I was. So I got ready and waited for the official announcement, determined to act surprised.

The halftime came, and my football hunk escort escorted me out along with 3 of my friends, the other candidates. The 3rd runner up was announced and applauded, and we all hugged her as she joined the other representatives from the freshmen, sophomore, and junior class. The 2nd runner up went her way as well. Then it was just me and Mary left, and although I already knew, it was still heart pounding as the stadium shook with whistles and cheering. The voice continued, “The 1972 Delavan Darien High School Homecoming queen is… “Mary______”! True to plan, I acted surprised—but it was no act. We hugged, and the crowd stormed the field, and tears were on everyone’s faces, but my tears were of a different nature. I managed to keep my smile and soon my friends that “knew” approached and hugged. They were stunned and so apologetic that they had given me the information ahead of time, and they were mad; they knew she had not won. They had counted the votes themselves. They saw and knew the injustice. Mary had not gotten the most votes, but welcome to the real world. They went to the supervisor of the student council to get answers. Although we did not believe in child sacrifices in my town, and no one had ever literally slain a child on an altar, I believe they did slay me in a figurative way that day. I felt that I was sacrificed on the altar of injustice. What they were saying in doing this switch was that money had more power than the vote, that social status was exalted, and that factory workers of my father’s position were not honorable enough; and coming from the wrong side of town had its penalties. The altars of worshiping the dollar, the social strata of valuing some over others, and rigging elections took precedent over the one man-one vote, in which our country firmly believes. It was wrong plain and simple.

It finally came out that Mary’s father was a prominent businessman that was well known for his generous gifts to our community. As the years have passed, I understand what really happened and even agree with their choice. Mary modeled a much better overall package than I did. She was an ideal girl and held up the image well to the community of brains, beauty, and money - the things for which we bow down as a country on the whole. I, on the other hand, was from a home that was quite the opposite.

I understand it now, but at the time, Satan used it to wrap me in chains. I became in bondage to lies. They became my truth—not real truth, just my perceived truth. They have entangled, chaffed, and clanged in my ears for years. That is until just recently. True truth has been unlocking one bloodied chain after the next. I had fought them, pulled on them and yanked at them, but I think I finally gave up. For they seemed to almost become as accepted as a necklace of ornamentation of my identity. Their clanging and rattling noises became the comfort sounds to which I walked and slept. These lies told me who I was and what I was worth. Thankfully, God was not satisfied with letting me remain enslaved to my lies, and He has set me free. I have known verses and tried to use them to file away at the chains, but they were as iron. Many friends through the years would appear to tell me I was bound, but they proved to be quieter voices than the sounds wrapped around me. Then God used a friend to speak truth, and as iron sharpens iron, it became a key to opening me to run unfettered and unshackled and free. It was my appointed to time to hear truth to be set free.

I knew there were lies around me; I just didn’t know how to get set free. As freedom came, the lies are now more easily recognized, and I can reject them and cling to truth, and allow my heart and mind to be filled with truth. As I do this, it changes what I believe and what I hear and how I react. It is a wonderful place.

My dear poor husband has watched and listened to my lies and has been trying to point them out and has loved me well through them, but for whatever reason, I could not believe him. All of his, “You are beautiful” were only because he loved me and not real in my ears and head. I feel so bad for him and so thankful at the same time. He has been so patient and truly loving. These chains, no doubt, caused many a bruise to him. O dear, my children as well have no doubt been hit (not literally) with a flying chain on occasion! It is no wonder that the sins of the mothers are passed down to their children. They had to put on chains to defend themselves from my chains and on and on the story would go it there were not a way to stop these generational sins!

God arranges things to show us His love and demonstrates His wisdom in circumstances. Last night, I had dinner with a friend in Virginia at their home with her kids and husband; it was a lovely meal, but beyond the meal I observed her wise mothering style and well-behaved, kind children. I was blessed by dinner discussions and the evening routine of homework, playing outside, emptying the dishwasher, and taking out the trash done by her kids without an attitude or cross words. I spoke with her this morning as she told of how her mom taught her and guided her through being a young mom. I was staying with her mother and father in their home, and I could see the blessing of being raised in this home. I realized that that is what He desired for me too. That is how He meant for homes to look like; what children should know, and the identity that they need to have. It affects how we think of ourselves and how we behave; it is what we believe.

As I write this, I am well aware of how many of you are mothers and have children growing up in your homes. Do you believe lies? Are you dealing with chains from incidents in your past that form chains around you? Are your children hearing the same lies? Wouldn’t it be great to be free; to hear truth and operate out of truth instead of lies; to be able to let them hear and experience a healthy happy home? Some of you are doing just that; I am so proud for you. But some have chains that you carry and lug around weighing you down, struggling to be set free. Have hope! Freedom is possible.

Isaiah is filled with wonderful phrases and verses: “I have chosen you” “thus says the Lord, your Creator, …and He who formed you, do not fear for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine.” “…I love you” “I am with you” “I am the One who wipes away your transgression” “my servant whom I have chosen” “you will not be forgotten by Me” “I will go before you…” He wants you to operate in truth and so do I; it is for truth that you have been set free. And you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. YOU ARE CHOSEN BY GOD. The vote may have been rigged against you too. Satan means for you to stay bound by feelings of rejection, inferiority, and abandonment, but that is not what God has for you. Saturate yourself in the Word, call and let us pray with you. Let’s see what God wants to do to set you free. Come run with me in the wide-open spaces of freedom God longs for you to hear truth, fill your mind with His Word, and feel the presence of God with you. Chosen by God - aaahhhhhhh.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


There is nothing like a best friend! Agree? Girls need best friends. Someone that speaks your language, hears and knows your heart, and wants to be together as much as possible—you know what I am talking about.

What are your thoughts on a best friend? I am curious, what makes a best friend for you? Someone who is loyal? Someone you want to talk with? Someone who is completely honest? Someone who is excited about the same things that you are? Someone you can have meaningful conversation with? Someone who is not exclusive in friendship; that shares friends but you know deep down they love you best? Someone you can hardly wait to share news with big or small? Someone who will share deep heart thoughts? Someone you can tell your deep thoughts to and they will still love you? Someone that encourages you to be your best and sees your strengths even if you don’t see them yourself? Someone that laughs with you over life?

I Facebooked this question: What does a “best friend” mean to you? I loved the answers! A best friend is: Someone who looks out for you. Someone who has endurance, presence and laughter; someone who has seen you through it all and loves you more because of it; someone you feel at home and comfortable with; someone who just “gets you”; someone who knows the ugliest part but loves you anyway. These are so great.

Here are some more. A best friend is: “…someone who understands your past, believes in your future and accepts you the way are today”; “someone who goes to the end of the earth again and again and again never asking why just because they need you to be there with them”; and “friends know your flaws but a best friend sees them as growth spurts”. I love these. How about... “A friend hears what you say, but a best friend also hears what you don’t say”? Or “a best friend knows not only that you like tea but from which cup is your favorite.” Lastly, “a best friend is a friend for life—no matter what.” Thanks for your thoughts; they are really beautiful. So what?

Maybe you have a best friend; maybe you have had one; maybe you have only dreamed of such relationships. It may have been in childhood, in high school, or college, or perhaps you are still hoping for a best friend like that. Think back to some of your best memories with a friend, laughing so hard you could not breathe or so eager to make that phone call to tell them some earth shattering news of the day. Perhaps it was places you went together, the things you did, or conversations that you had never shared with anyone else before, and instead of thinking you were weird, they loved you all the more. Best friends are a category all of their own, don’t you think? Rare, wonderful, and a gift from God.

I have heard that there are multiple best friends - a best friend for different areas, one that makes you laugh, one that you like to walk with, one that challenges you, one that comforts you or whatever. I don’t see that so much as a best friend but just simply multiple friends. There is plenty of room for opinions, and there is no one right answer, I know, but best friends are best overall. Some think you grow out of it and that adults have many but none “best”. Mates are great and best friend mates are special, but another women as that best friend is a remarkable thing. Those moments that you know not to look at them or catch their eye or you will burst into laughter. Best friends have moments and memories that are frozen in time. I will never forget a high school friend who gave up being on homecoming court that she had been on before so that I could have a chance at being homecoming queen. She wanted me to win.

I was thinking about best friends from the past and found myself crying this afternoon. Perhaps it’s because Buddy is gone on a trip and I am feeling lonely, but I think it is God at work in me. I think feeling sad is sometimes His invitation to show me truth. Where are the best friends now? I just heard that an early childhood best friend is now near St. Louis; another best friend is in New Hampshire; a high school best friend lives in Wisconsin where we grew up—(literally, she bought the house she grew up in!) A few years back, we sat in her old room where we used to talk ourselves to sleep till wee hours. That room is now her daughters’ room—it was a really wonderful time of reminiscing. We lay on the beds and laughed of old times escaping ever so briefly into being kids again. It seemed like her mom was about to poke her head in any minute to see what on earth all the ruckus was about. We visit by phone, but the distance and the years of going our separate ways have left blank spaces and gaps. Best friends are not so “forever”. Life seems to change and we do too, not so intentionally, but stages change, and time together is gone.

I always wanted my sister to be a best friend sort of person—that was not ever going to happen. One of the worst hurts of life is loosing a best friend. Whatever the reason, a move, a marriage, dreams divided, or circumstances of life. There is a loss. But that place is not wasted. God wants you to know truth where you have let lies fill in. Lies that make you feel worthless, unloved, or alone. Been there? Still there? What is the truth? There is “He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother”. There is “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He is everything you want in a friend. There is nothing He is going to find out about you that He will ever like you any less. There is no length He is not willing to go to be together with you for eternity. Satan drowns out the truth with raging lies, frenzied falsehoods, and terrorizing tales or whispers and daggers of doubt. Sometimes so subtly that we almost don’t realize the lie and swallow it until in pollutes our very insides poisoning us from within. We wonder why we do not feel well; we have eaten the rot of unbelief. Sin is corrupting our thinking. Sin is thinking wrongly about God. Our thoughts carry out in our actions and we deny what we believe by how we live.

“The Lord delights in you”—He enjoys your company. “You are precious to him”—He thinks you are special; there is “unfailing love” found in Him alone—it never wanes or wobbles, “He lifted them up and carried them through all the years” through all the stages and circumstances He is there, He never bails on you—you are never too much or too difficult. “I am on your side”—He is loyal. “With everlasting love”—He does not love conditionally or if your performance has been good enough. “I am the One who comforts you”—He always knows just the right things to say. “ I said I would do it and I will”—He is reliable and has never lets us down. “ I cared for you since before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age” He is not just a childhood friend that has lost track of you or no longer has things in common with you—this is a forever friendship. He has been there all along you never have to catch Him up on what is going on. “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am the Lord your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”—Because He is with us, nothing should be too scary, too depressing, or too wearing. We are on the winning side we never have to feel like losers. “He never grows faint or weary”—He is always strong and able despite our condition. “I know you well—your comings and goings and all you do.”—He is interested in us; He is not surprised. “No matter how deep the stains of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool.”— Do you know any friend that can do that? He is an awesome God.

Sound impossible to have all that in one person? Nope! He is all that and more! “ I have called you friend,” you know, that is not to be taken lightly. He is your best friend. “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” The term BFF is more than just a texting phrase: He wrote it to you and about you long, long ago. He wants to be best friends forever. Who can pass up a friendship like that—who would want to?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fall Down Like Rain

Do you ever get a song stuck in your head? I have had the most beautiful song stuck there all week! I don’t even know all the words, but I have had only a few lines running over and over again. I found my heart humming it, desiring it deep within, and washing my mind with it as well. “Fall down like rain, I don’t want blessings—I want You…” So I guess this is why I have been all the more aware of rain as I was reading scripture this week. This must also be why I became all the more blessed with the rain this morning falling gently from the sky. I feel like it has been raining inwardly all week—this soaking, gentle sort of rain. Today I can see how my inside has felt all week. It’s funny because usually I don’t care for rainy days. They seem depressing and sad. My own way of making rainy days happy was to wear fun rain boots and use happy umbrellas.

Previously, I have put crying and rain together, but this week it has been different. For some reason there are no tears involved in the picture. It is more like health in that just as rain is needed for the growth of the barren trees and bushes surrounding us, bringing about spring, so too does my soul need rain—I need God! I need blossoms and new growth. I see the earth about to erupt with the tiniest buds of twisted green or red, waiting to unfold their beauty and grace us with those fresh garments of spring. To hang God’s majesty beautifully draped in greens and yellows, pinks and reds dripping from every tree and rising out from the very ground beneath us. Reminding us of He is creativity and taking our bareness like the gray trees, and astounding us with a fresh new leaf or bud at every turn and twist of our branches. I want that sort of life. One that is fresh and blossoming, full of health and vitality—alive with the display of God at work.

“Rejoice…for the rains He sends are an expression of His grace.” How beautiful is that?! Not weepy, but full of rejoicing! Rain is an expression of His grace. Saturated, and fully absorbed by His grace. Isn’t that the sort of rain that makes you want to go for a long walk in it? It makes me want to go barefooted with no rain boots, raincoat or umbrella, but to let it thoroughly drench and soak me to the bone. Saturated in grace, ah, what a lovely thought. Do you feel it with me? It is not the ugly, cold winter rain. It is that perfect temperature rain that is almost warm. There’s no chill, or anything that distracts from enjoying every drop. Each drop makes you crave the next. It is designed for growth, not destruction, ruin or fury.
Whenever rain falls onto a plant, it causes it to grow. If it falls on weeds—weeds grow. If it falls on potatoes—potatoes grow. “Plant the good seed of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of My love.” How amazing! I have heard “righteousness” defined as right thinking. Inserting that into that verse reads: “plant the good seed of right thinking and you will harvest a crop of my love.” Does that speak anything to you? It does me. For one, if you read it conversely it is: “Don’t plant the good seed of right thinking and you won’t harvest a crop of my love.” That seems like a waste of a perfectly good harvest. Secondly, it says to me that right thinking about God produces a harvest of love, which seems too good to pass up! Do you ever feel like you know God loves you biblically or in your head, but you do not feel He loves you in your heart? For you, it may not be feeling unloved; it may be feeling unaccepted or uncared for. Each of us has some sort of lie we believe that affects how we are behaving. According to this verse, planting the seed of right or wrong thinking may be how we are thinking about God. Wrong thinking about God hinders our ability to feel in our heart what our head says or reads in scripture. We have to think right about Him.

As we think right, the rain will fall on those seeds—even if at first they are only as small as a mustard seed. They will grow and multiply. I don’t have mustard seeds in my pantry, but I do have flax seeds. They are soooo small. It is befuddling to my brain that God would even be aware of something so small in me—that little bit of faith honors God! With that little bit, He sees it and has something to water and work with—He, with something that small, can move mountains! It reminds me of those tiny little specks that you put in water to soak and they grow to be the size of the bucket. Or those Chia-Pet things that look like nothing but become a crop of “fur”. Our faith can virtually look like a speck or a baldish form, but when permeated and filled with God, it becomes enough to move what seemed like a mountain of unbelief and not just a bucket full or a fluffy fur ball.

It is no wonder that Satan keeps our unbelief or wrong belief about God his number one priority. It has been his method of operation since the beginning of time—he is not creative. I have had wrong thinking about Satan as well. I realized that I thought he was creative but realized that only God has that character—He alone can create out of nothing. He shares that creativity with His creation…us! I think Satan only has the same old bag of tricks. He is not creative—crafty, yes but not creative. I have given him too much credit. He hates us to expose his lies, but the best way to expose them is with the light of truth for he is a liar. When he speaks, he does so with his native tongue. There is no truth in him at all (John 8:44).

I just read a definition of righteousness: “right action”. I have a problem with that! I cannot do right unless I think right! My doing is contingent on my thinking. I carry out what I believe. What we believe affects how we behave. To say behave right without believing right is impossible. Wrong thinking leads to wrong behavior. We must think right to behave right. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” It is even more than what you think in your head, it says, “As he thinks in his heart”. God knows we can think one thing in our head, but our heart is really where we confirm or reject it—so it is with what we believe. That is why when I read another definition of righteousness: “right thinking about God”, it rang true. If I think right about God and believe, this produces right actions. It may be put: “right beliefs about God in our hearts that lead to right actions in our life”. It is in right belief that more right belief is produced. OR in wrong belief, more wrong belief is produced. What is being watered is what will grow. If I accidentally put corn in the row of beans, corn is going to grow there. If the packet was missed marked as being beans rather than corn, corn is still going to grow. It is what is inside that makes the difference.
Yesterday was a gorgeous day. The rain of the previous day turned into huge snowflakes outside our window, piling up in a most beautiful way. As our hunger grew, we all decided chili sounded like the perfect meal. I made it, but it wasn’t as great as I had hoped. No one really remarked that it was all that delicious so I threw away the rest of it and chalked it up to finding a better recipe next time. However this morning as lunch grew near, people started looking for the chili to reheat. They were so surprised to hear that I had thrown it out. “Why did you do that? We wanted it! We were looking forward to warming it up today.” My wrong belief—that they did not like it—led to the wrong action of throwing it away. What I believed affected my actions. Wrong thinking led to wrong actions. What we believe wrongly about God affect our actions. What we believe wrongly about our mate, our kids, or our chili affects how we behave as well.

Believing wrongly about chili has little overall impact. I can make some more. But believing wrongly about God can have huge ramifications. He is the only God there is! People that worship idols become what they worship (Psalms 135:18). If they worship a god that cannot hear, they become deafened to the needs of others. If they worship a demanding god, they too become demanding. Do you see what that means? If you have wrong beliefs about God, it will affect how you relate to others. If you feel God does not accept you as you are, you’ll have a hard time accepting others as they are. If you feel God does not have power over things, and that He has not been powerful in your life, then you will step in and try to take control of it yourself. Our wrong thinking leads to wrong behavior—it waters it in us and it grows a distorted, perverted, messed up god. Notice I did not capitalize god there because it is a false god—not the God Almighty, Maker of the universe, Lover of our soul. Then that is not honoring to God, it is not who He is. He is whole and true. There is nothing messed up about Him. He wants us to know Him for who He really is, what He is really like, and how He really feels about us. He is crazy about us. But don’t believe it because I said so—listen for yourself. Ask Him “True Lord Jesus, what do you want me to know?” Let Him rain down on you, allowing truth to grow in you, through you, and around you. Let’s see what blooms of beauty will grow in more than just our yards and trees this spring. Are you ready to sprout?