God’s Hush


IMG_1493This morning I awakened to a snow-covered world. I had a glimpse of it when I awakened briefly during the night and peeked out the window after noticing the light shining through the curtains and blinds.


As I pulled the blinds apart in the very early hours after midnight, the air was full of snowflakes that were already mounding up on trees and lawn. The air was so thick with snow that I could not see much beyond our own yard. It was little wonder this morning to discover the heavy wet snow was piled so high on the tree limbs and branches that they were nearly touching the ground.


The snow cushioned away every sound. No plows had come to our street. School had been canceled and children were nowhere in sight. No sounds of snow blowers broke the hush.


I could not help but smile as I savored the morning recalling so many other days such as this.


When our children were young and I was a stay-at-home mom, I loved the surprise of an unexpected day off from school. Because it was unexpected, I did not have plans made so it truly felt like a free day for them as well as me to enjoy one another unrushed.


During the years I was teaching, I loved the very early morning phone call letting me know the school day had been canceled. It was the kind of day that begged savoring, not rushing, and feeling released from perpetual “doing”.


Such days are meant for lingering in pajamas, sipping hot chocolate, lighting a fire in the fireplace, and savoring a favorite book I had not had time to read.


During the years after teaching, such days were not quite so much fun. The office was not closed as schools might be so the day began facing slippery roads, unpredictable traffic, and a late start with canceled appointments despite my efforts to make it to the office.


Today was not one of those days. Retirement means I can enjoy a “snow day” as I once did with my children. I need not leave our home and I can savor the gift of such a day once again.


Today was a day for cuddling in my cozy red leather chair with my Bible and journal and enjoying a steaming cup of butterscotch caramel tea. It was a day of enjoying the scent of candles that somehow seemed more fragrant on such a day.


I somehow think that in this busy world where we are far too often rushing from one thing to the next, God uses a snowy day to hush the world, to quiet the outdoors and the inner parts of us to give us rest as a surprise gift.


So today has been a savoring kind of day. It has been a day to not rush from my red leather chair, to make another cup of tea, and to enjoy the reflective words of other writers in the blogs waiting for me in my email inbox. It has been a day with time to write responses of encouragement as a result of their words, a day to write a note of encouragement to a granddaughter.


When my husband and I were considering where he might secure a job after his military active duty, there were a variety of options we could consider. In the end, we chose to return to the county in Ohio where we grew up. There were a list of reasons, but one that was very near the top was being able to enjoy all four seasons of the year.


Even though I have preferences for some seasons (fall), the variety and the discoveries that each holds is something we both enjoy. Our weather is not so extreme in any season to make it miserably hot or cold, too snowy or rainy, or too dry.


I think on days such as this, God hushes the world so we can rest and also can hear Him better. He doesn’t shout when He speaks and only when we quiet ourselves in quiet places can we hear His gentle whispers to our hearts and spirits. Sometimes He uses snowy days to invite us to come closer to Him and listen to what He wants to share with us.


Yes, I love the expectation of spring just a few months ahead as well as the activities, sounds, and smells of summer. Fall never fails to delight all of my senses and I always wish it would linger a bit longer, but there is something very special about a “snow day”.


God hushes the world on snowy days. He also brings to mind scripture that speaks of snow.


“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” NIV










And Then There Was Love


I had been out a few leisurely hours for coffee with a dear friend and was looking forward to getting back home to get started on the chores that had been waiting. As I stepped into the house, my sweet husband greeted me at the door asking if I had had a good time. As he stepped aside and I walked into the kitchen, I could see the beautiful vase of red roses laced with red hearts and nestled in baby’s breath and fern.


He has never forgotten.


The tradition of red roses began when we first knew love for each other when we were college students. The first time came on an October Sweetest Day that coincided with my birthday. They arrived again on Valentine’s Day. After we were married, they arrived on our anniversary as well. He also sent them for the births of our children, arranging the first time for them to be delivered even though he was half a world away in Vietnam.


Through each season of life together (now 51 years of marriage), he has found many ways to express his love. Red roses for these occasions are his reminder of a pledge, a covenant, made long ago when we were both so young we had only a small understanding of what that meant.


During my years as a clinical counselor and marriage and family therapist, I have had many young single women talk about what they hoped for in a future spouse. Some of the lists were very funny. Others were practical like having a job and not having a warrant for his arrest. Then I heard one young woman call it her “Boaz” list.


She shared with me that as she read the story of Boaz in the book of Ruth she saw in the character of Boaz the type of man she hoped would one day pursue her heart and pledge his love.


The love story of Ruth and Boaz is no ordinary love. Ruth demonstrated an uncommon love for her mother-in-law when her husband died and she chose to follow her mother-in-law, leave her homeland of Moab, and travel to her mother-in-law’s homeland adopting her faith and her culture.


As these two widows travel home, they face an uncertain fate. How will they survive? How will they find provision for themselves?


In all ways, Ruth submits to and honors Naomi and her counsel. So as the story goes along, Ruth goes to glean in the fields after the reapers have already harvested the field, looking for stalks that were left over or unnoticed along the edges of the field.


Of course, as in any good love story, we discover this is not just any field. It belongs to Boaz, a relative of Naomi who has the right to redeem all that had been Naomi’s deceased husband’s including her son’s widow, Ruth. He is prosperous, honorable in the town, and he has heard at the city gates about Naomi’s return and Ruth’s love and care for her mother-in-law.


What kind of woman was this? What kind of love?


The love Ruth generously gave to Naomi was not common. It was hesed love. It was the kind of love and blessing Naomi had sought to give Ruth and her other daughter-in-law, Orpah, as she left them in Moab to head home.


What is hesed love? It is sometimes translated “steadfast love” and it combines commitment and sacrifice. It is a stubborn love that refuses to give up or leave the one loved.


Paul Miller richly writes about this love story in his book, A Loving Life. He says, Hesed is one-way love, Love without an exit strategy. Hesed is a stake in the heart of the changing seasons of life. Words of commitment create a bond that stands against life’s moodiness.”


Hesed love is a determination to do someone good, no matter what, to be faithful to a covenant regardless of its impact on you.” Paul Miller


Ruth’s demonstration of hesed love in action was clear. It showed in all she did and was. You see hesed love is not something that can be imitated when it is not present. It is so woven into the fabric of the person in whom it resides that it becomes the very nature of which she or he is and requires no post-it note reminders.


It is little wonder that when Boaz discovers Ruth is gleaning in his fields (knowing how everyone in the town had observed her), he is attracted not only to her physical beauty but also the beauty of hesed within her.


Ruth learns before long how powerfully hesed love is also resident in Boaz as he asks his reapers to leave extra grain in the fields for her and to provide protection for her. He later invites her to lunch and as the story continues we see the Lord’s perfect plan for Boaz and Ruth unfold. You see the legacy of this love in the genealogy that comes from this union. (If you have not read it in awhile, you might want to savor it again with Paul Miller’s book alongside.)


Have you known that kind of hesed love? It is the way Jesus loves us. It is a covenant, forever love.


Hearing a young woman say she has a Boaz list for a future husband says a great deal to me about the quality of the woman as well as the quality of the man and love she seeks.


Such a love is worth waiting for!











Pause and Consider Again



As I walked into the softly lit sanctuary, something in the room appeared to hush the noise of the day beyond the softly falling snow outside. It brought a welcoming quiet, an invitation to pause, reflect, and consider once more.


It was Ash Wednesday, the traditional beginning of Lent, the 40 days prior to the celebration of Easter, the provision for our salvation.


As the worship music began, it too had been chosen to turn all of our hearts, minds, and spirits to ponder and examine the relationship at the center of my life. The lyrics and the melodies invited meditation.


It can be far too easy not to stop for this day on the calendar in many of our non-Catholic churches. It also can be too easy to get lost in traditions and lose track of its purpose.


Lent is a time for examining my heart. It is a time to pause in the doing of my life, even the doing for Him. Lent is a time for being with Him, a time of soberly considering the condition of my life.


Lent is a time to remember.


It is a time to consider the horror of the cross was necessary for my sin, my unrighteousness. It is a time to remember no matter how long I have known Him that I have no righteousness of my own. And it is time to mull over my human weaknesses that can still tempt me to fall prey to their seductions.


What does it really mean to follow Christ, to deny myself and follow Him?


I think it is less about denying myself some thing I enjoy and more about denying me, me and all that is not Him within me. As I enter Lent and approach Good Friday, it means identifying with a dead man even as I recognize the death He suffered was my fate were it not for Him.


It is more than going along with Him, following Him in that way, and more about walking like Him in the very fabric of my being and demonstrated by my attitudes, actions, and affections.


As the pastor shared the meditation he had prepared, he spoke of what it means to remove the leaven in our lives as well as what leaven signified. The yeast in leavened bread decays causing it to rise and symbolizes my sin.


Lent is a time to examine my heart for evidences of sin, to quiet myself during this season and repent so that the leaven is removed once more by the sacrifice of His death on the cross.


Certainly, I (and likely you) can identify specific places where sin has slipped in, but the pastor encouraged me and all of us present to look deeper and remember “PEAS Are Green and Little”.


He used the sentence to imprint our minds with the seven deadly sins that so easily can slip into our lives unacknowledged too often. He spoke also of the significance of listing pride first since it holds so much power in each of our lives in obvious as well as subtle ways.


PEAS Are Green and Little:

  • Pride
  • Envy
  • Anger
  • Slothfulness
  • Avarice
  • Gluttony
  • Lasciviousness


I can be tempted at first glance to dismiss the thought that I have fallen prey to any of these seven deadly sins, but that in itself exposes pride.


Would it be possible during this Lenten season to seek the Lord for humility to erase pride, contentment to erase envy, gentleness to erase anger, serving to replace slothfulness, giving to replace avarice, fasting to combat gluttony, and purity to knock out lasciviousness? Impossible? No, not impossible because of the cross, but also not possible without my recognition of those things that are present as well as my repentance for them.


As I walked forward to take the unleavened bread and the cup, I sensed the Lord affirming the need to sacrifice and deal with “PEAS (that) Are Green and Little” rather than some material thing that could dull my senses about what the real issues are that need to be put to death and sacrificed.

PEAS Are Green and Little










The Trouble with Tension



While I was preparing to take my comprehensive exams when I was in graduate school, someone gave me the gift of a massotherapy appointment. I had never had a massage before, but it seemed like a good idea after spending hours upon hours of reviewing notes and pouring over highlighted passages in books. I could feel every muscle in my neck, shoulders, and back tied in knots.


I must admit that I felt a bit intimidated at the outset as I entered the dimly lit room. Soft music was playing and the bubbling sound of the fish tank in the room added to the atmosphere. So far, I got the picture that relaxation was the goal, but I was not feeling it.


Over the hour I was on the table, however, the diminutive Japanese woman working on me seemed to be able to identify every taut muscle as well as each strand of that muscle. At the end of that hour, she had successfully relieved all the tension I had carried into the room.


I would love to say that she fixed the problem permanently and that tension never returned; but as I am sure you can guess, that was not the case.


Tension is unavoidable. It is born from multiple sources in each season of life. It happens to women as well as men, the young and the not so young.


 “Tension is living in the gap between certainty and uncertainty.”  Dan Allender


Reading Dan Allender’s statement gives me much to ponder because I live often in the gap despite certain assurances and absolutes that provide me with a foundation on which to stand. (So do you!) As a believer, I can have a certainty of God’s love and grace, His provision, care, and my eternal destination. But in the midst of that, much uncertainty remains in the details of daily life. I don’t live in Eden before the fall. Life is not a rose garden.


I plead guilty to trying to avoid tension as much as possible despite knowing its inevitability.


Is there value in tension?  Does God have a purpose for creating or allowing it?


 I wanted to reduce tension (stress) as I prepared for my comprehensive exam, but a certain amount of tension also was needed to push me to work at focusing and studying to demonstrate I had mastered the material being used to evaluate my learning. The right amount would cause me to function at just the right intensity and serve me well, but if it were too high I would be more likely to forget or jumble the material I had studied and do poorly.


That kind of tension is situation specific, but without my awareness surface tension is acting all around us, everywhere and all the time, affecting our daily life and bodily well being.


God has designed tension into His creation in a variety of ways.


For instance, surface tension keeps billions of cells in our body functional and ensures the proper organization and balance of biomolecules such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acid into membranes. When I discovered that information in reading about tension, I was in awe of the intricate design of our Creator. It gave me another glimpse of the purpose of tension if it is in the exact amount needed.


I love music and am blessed to recall the sounds of the piano echoing through the house as our son and daughter were growing up learning to play and becoming proficient doing so. I get reminders of that when I visit their homes now and often hear a grandchild practicing. Other stringed instruments have been added to our family beyond the piano and include violins, cello, guitar, and ukulele.


You and I can be similar to a violin. Exact tension is necessary with stringed instruments for them to stay in tune. Lack of tension in piano strings not only affect tune, but also can cause the soundboard to crack.


The exact tension on a violin not only keeps it playing well and in tune, but it also keeps the bridge in place and balanced.


A violin is also sensitive to many environmental factors including humidity and dry air. In addition to tension, friction is needed on the strings to produce a decent tone. Tension also might not be a friend to the violin. If the bow is left with tension on it, it will warp.


Our challenge whether we are playing a stringed instrument or not, studying or not, facing a crisis on not, is to remember that living in this life in the gap between birth and heaven will expose us to tension. Our daily life will include certainty and uncertainty.


God has designed us, hardwired us, to grow. All growth stretches us beyond our comfort level. Tension is a constant companion.


 The trouble with tension is that it can be a friend when it works exactly as needed and a foe when it is absent or present in excess.


The good news is that God uses it not only for our growth, but to remind us of our reliance on Him. Growth comes when I learn to rest in Him in the midst of tension and focus on the assurance of the unseen.


“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”   Heb. 11:1 ESV

















What Is The Reflection?


Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park

When I was completing my undergraduate degree in elementary education, one of my courses required each of us to create a collection of poetry for children. Of course, the result would also provide each of us with a resource for a future classroom. That collection in a wooden covered “book” still sets on one of my bookshelves. It is a treasure trove!


There are many poems in it that still resonate with me. It is also true that many of these poems are as significant for adults as for children.


One of my many favorites is a poem by Rachel Field entitled “Some People”. It continues to illustrate a powerful observation and as I was reading my scriptures for today, the poem came to mind again. Let me share it with you.

Some People


Rachel Field


Isn’t it strange some people make

You feel so tired inside,

Your thoughts begin to shrivel up

Like leaves all brown and dried!


But when you’re with some other ones,

It’s stranger still to find

Your thoughts as thick as fireflies

All shiny in your mind!


I so agree with Rachel Field’s words and description!


I most enjoy being with people like those described in the second stanza of the poem. They bring energy, refreshment, and passion into any conversation. (None of us are always that way, but if we are never that way???)  I am also aware I desire to be that kind of person to others as well.


I think that can really only happen when the Lord and I are intimately connecting and He is growing me in Him and opening my eyes to see possibility and open doors that I would miss too often without Him.


When I am spending time with Him, personal intimate time with Him, I think it should show and be evident but not because I tell someone I have been with Him.


The connection of the poem to my scripture reading today came from two passages I was reading. The first passage was in 2 Corinthians 3:12-18. I often read a passage in more than one translation. Today The Message translation arrested my attention near the end of the passage noted. It reads as follows:


“All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.”


I felt as if the Lord was highlighting this part and challenging me about what I reflect. Unlike Moses who veiled his face so the Israelites could not see when the shine faded after he had met with the Lord, we speak to the Lord face-to-face and the Holy Spirit keeps us in communion with Him daily versus periodically as it was with Moses.


I am not suggesting I (or any of you) should go around daily with a photographic smile plastered on my face. I’m sure you know what I mean.


Nevertheless, if I am spending time with the Lord in communion with Him, something of Him should be reflected in me.


That reflection may be in my demeanor, my attitude, my speech, my imagination, my creativity, my peace, my love, and so on. I think it is what would make others hungry or thirsty to know what the source of that reflection was.


A bit later as I was reading in Proverbs 4:18-19 the theme seemed to connect again from The Message translation especially:


“The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.”


 I don’t think the Lord would want me to pretend or wear a mask or disguise to try to suggest He and I are in communion with one another. That lack of integrity is far too often tried by many and results in so many wounds and marring of Christ’s image that can actually turn people away from Him if we proclaim to be His disciples.


If I am spending time with Him, even though I am imperfect and shot through with humanity, I think He was reminding me that it will and should show.


I should also be more like those in the second stanza of Rachel Field’s poem. Something living and vibrant of His life in me through the Holy Spirit should be reflected in me.


This isn’t new news, but it is the Holy Spirit reminding me that each day I reflect something or someone. I reflect the gospel or I don’t. The reflection comes more from my behavior, my attitude, and my demeanor than from my words.


Who am I reflecting?