Have We Missed It?



The headlines are certainly not sharing good news for the most part. Natural disasters abound from one side of the world to the other and that doesn’t begin to touch the folly of man that points to other tragedies around the globe.


It would seem we could all do with a healthy dose of Good News and I know of only One solid source for that that never fails. What is tragic is that too often shadows even fall over that and discourage too many from believing there is Good News or there is a place where they can find it.


In the novel, Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, that has inspired a fair number of posts of mine, Jayber talks of his own struggles as a result of the various church experiences he has known in the various small Kentucky villages and towns he lived in. At one point he muses:


“…as I have read the Gospels over the years, the belief has grown in me that Christ did not come to found an organized religion, but came instead to found an unorganized one. He seems to have come to carry religion out of the temples into the fields and sheep pastures, onto the roadsides and the banks of the rivers, into the houses of sinners and publicans, into the towns and wilderness, toward the membership of all that is here.”


Our reactions to his experiences can range from offense to strong agreement based on what we view as the hypocrisy of the body of Christ or organized church or the very personal wounds we have experienced within it or as a part of it. Our reactions are very img_3627much based on our own experiences, our own lens, even as Jayber’s were.


The result can be that we can be duped into either dismissing the church (or ourselves from being a part of it) or we operate with a certain denial that ignores the truth of evidences it is blemished to varying degrees by the human element and the enemy’s assault.


Major fractures have taken place in our churches and in other places minor cracks have been observed. They are evidences of the fragmentation within each of us. Try as we might, perfection eludes us which is why we needed a Savior to begin with and why God’s grace and love was extended because He knew He would have to do for us what we could not.


I wonder if we have expected too much of the church or perhaps too little. I wonder how often we consider our own role in the conundrum.


How fragmented we may or may not be affects the fabric of the church as well. Fragmentation is the handiwork of the enemy. It exists in varying degrees in us all and he has been using it since time began and most certainly after Jesus left His disciples to spread the Good News and usher in the body of Christ as the bride He is coming for.


John Eldredge speaks of how traumatizing the enemy’s work has been from the very beginning, pointing out his lustful desire to separate us not only from God, but also from  one another. In one of his latest book, All Things New, listen to some of the ways he describes this:


“Our Enemy is the Great Divider. His most poisonous work takes place at the level of fragmentation, dividing families, churches, and fomenting racial hatred. He uses pain and suffering to create deep divisions within our own beings.”


 A few lines later he adds:

Yellowstone National Park


“Our lives have become cut off from the Garden we were meant to flourish in.”


Have we been duped into looking to each other to be what only He can be?


Have we forgotten the thread of humanity that resides in all of us is what can bring us together in a crisis or tragedy? Do we not value that enough?


There is not only Good News to be had, but also truly the very BEST news.


Certainly the Bible speaks about it, but He is not limited to that primary source. He speaks to us through creation at every turn, through the rustling leaves stirring in the breeze, the babbling brook, and the warmth of the sun on our skin. He reminds us He has created and set us in time to structure our days and nights and create order in the midst of the enemy’s desire to create disorder.


The growing disorder we see is also a reminder He is coming again and likely sooner than we may think.


Can we see in the midst of and beyond the headlines and see Him watching and looking for us to look up and see Him?

















There is Nothing Like Him

Photo by Rob Blair


It can be easier than it ought to be to miss so much about the Lord even if we worship Him regularly, are involved in ministry, and have a daily quiet time. Like so many other things and people dear to us, we can almost take much about Him for granted unless we take time to get a glimpse of some of the millions of millions of things about Him that we rarely notice as we walk through our days.


He is the God of the possible.


And I am persuaded He wants us to see the possibilities far more often than we do. But I am not talking about those of us who tend to see  possibilities as dark shadows because there is no darkness in Him, and He operates easily in the midst of the darkest of situations.


If we don’t see Him right away, it can be easy to think He doesn’t see us or what we are going through. How unfairly we can judge Him!


More often than we realize God is at work on our behalf before we know we need it to be so.



background-beautiful-beauty-532168That couldn’t have been clearer to our family than what happened recently when our adult son was dealing with a watery eye that quickly led him through several specialists resulting in a shocking diagnosis of a fast-growing lymphoma tumor in his deep upper sinuses. You see, God allowed that watery eye to be such that our son checked in with his optometrist without any idea of why that would be important or that God was already at work.


He also could not have known how and why God would use the speed of the appointment to then see an ophthalmologist who soon after sent him to an ocular surgeon. We all know what it is like to wait for an appointment and wait on tests, but these appointments were happening only a day or two apart as were CT scans, MRI, biopsy, and all the rest.


Within days the diagnosis was clear and in less than a week he was headed into his first round of chemotherapy. Our heads were nearly spinning, but God was looking out for our son before he even knew how much He needed God to do that.


Even though we may not always see something like this happen, it cannot diminish when it does.


That speed may well have saved not only our son’s eye, but his very life. There just is no other like Him.


But don’t expect Him to show up in the same way all the time.


A friend of ours has been in a complex medical crisis of more layers than I could begin to describe and everything has been going slow — the opposite of what we  see with our son. Results of tests and biopsies are inconclusive or delayed, but guess what?  God is in this mix as well. In the delays, several of the long list of organs that were not functioning well  and could be at risk are now beginning to be clear of any issues. No, not all and tests are still out on three big things, but God has still been at work in what was as many as a dozen things that were very wrong and concerning.


Yes, God is the same and consistently true to Himself, but He doesn’t do things in the same way all the time. You can see that through HIS story.



He created humankind with only one boundary that could not be crossed, and humankind failed, but that was not the end or even the beginning of the end. He had a plan for that which would give us an opportunity to make another better choice.


In Lisa Wingate’s powerful book, The Story Keeper, she describes it this way:


“…no matter how many wrong choices we’ve made in the past, we can always decide to make the right ones today. The past need not determine one moment of the future.”


But that is something the enemy doesn’t want us to believe. He wants us to believe we are lost and lost to God as well. He wants us to forget that even when Adam and Eve failed and went into hiding, God knew exactly where they were and covered them.


Have we missed the truth about the Creator in the creation story and the role each of us has to play?


“The biblical doctrine of creation is not just about where we came from; it’s about where we are. It’s not just about who we are, but whose we are. It’s not just a statement about our past; it is a calling to a future.”

James K.A. Smith

Is it possible you have missed the expanse of what you/we have been designed for?


“To understand the world as God’s creation is to hear rumbling in the world itself as a calling.When the Spirit gives you ears to hear and eyes to see, creation is a gift that calls – it is a chamber of God’s glory that resonates with an invitation.”

James K.A. Smith

Are you missing HIS possibilities and getting tangled up in the weeds along or even in the path you’re on?  


As Morpheus might say to Neo in the pop film, The Matrix, has the world been pulled over your eyes? (It can happen easily when we are flooded with sensory stimuli all the time.)


This week our son is just past the midpoint of chemotherapy treatments. Many of you know how brutal they can be, but just prior to starting the fourth round of six planned treatments his oncologist ordered a PET scan to see if treatments needed to be adjusted and how effectively the protocol was working.


As we and many others had prayed, we were believing God was at work in, through, and beyond the great medical team He arranged to fight this war with the tumor. Prior to starting round four, the oncologist showed him the scan from June and the one just taken.


The evidence was stunning – no tumor could be seen. Our son was in remission even though the additional treatments would be needed to squelch this tricky disease we know as cancer.


There is no one like Him and whether that evidence had come or not, it is still true because He sees the big picture as well as all the little details we don’t even know are going on.


But we need to pay closer attention.


In Smith’s book cited above (You Are What You Love), he reminds the reader of our role in creation. Most of us know we are called to be image bearers, but I love what he also adds: “You are called to unfold creation’s potential.”  And, “You are called to occupy creation.”


This week’s great news about our son gave us a glimpse of God at work in multiple ways including how doctors and scientists and researchers have been used to unfold creation’s potential.


But you know what?  None of us should need something this big to awaken us to our role in HIS story and what He wants us to discover about Him every day.


air-atmosphere-beautiful-533833 (3)

The Wonder of the Monarch

Photo by Erin Wilson on Unsplash


For the past several weeks I have had a sharp eye out for glimpses of Monarch butterflies. It’s one of my August to September rituals born when I was a special education classroom teacher.


Then a news segment from our local TV station put me on high alert after showing thousands of them hanging in trees on the southern shore of Lake Erie from a late summer just a few years ago. Each of the last several days, I have spotted several in the air and looked at them once again in amazement.


Another teacher and friend of mine with a biology background educated me about these specific butterflies. It was a gift I have enjoyed every year since she taught me about them.


I learned where the Monarch butterflies reproduced in the late summer, what they ate, and the long impressive flight each makes from Canada, throughout the upper Midwest, northeastern U.S., and even extending along the east coast into Florida until they reach Mexican mountainsides.


As a result of what I learned from my colleague, each September as a teacher I searched along the roadside areas for a patch of milkweed plants. It was there I hoped to find at least one plant where I discovered the female Monarch had laid her eggs, which would result in the emergence of the striking orange and black striped caterpillar.


Photo by Phil Garrison on Unsplash

For a number of years, I was able to locate both the distinctive striped caterpillar and a pupa and brought them into a terrarium in my classroom. The caterpillar would then eat away at milkweed leaves and stems that I asked my students to bring.


The excitement would build as the developed caterpillar stopped eating and located a perch where it would spin a stunning light turquoise pupa with small touches of gold accenting a ridge near the top. Day-by-day the students were mesmerized as they watched for two weeks until the pupa began to become translucent and then transparent revealing the colors of the Monarch. Slowly, cracks began to appear in the pupa and the butterfly began to emerge pumping body fluid into its limp wings.


Very gently, I would place my finger next to the butterfly and it would step onto my finger. Then carefully I would transfer the butterfly to the finger of a student.



The student would move slowly down the hall past open doors of curious onlookers until our whole class reached the playground where we watched and waited for our Monarch to take flight. What a moment for my students and also for me!


Several other things I shared with my students that increased their wonder included how the released butterfly would fly to Mexico even though it had never been there before and would face many dangers along the way. There the many butterflies would hang in the trees of Mexico in a semi-dormant state until early summer when they would return to their homes in the north and the cycle would repeat.


Every detail of this creature is unique. The milkweed plant it uses for food is poisonous to any other creature that eats it; but once the butterfly is created in its lovely teal pupa and emerges to fly, it will only live on the sweet nectar of flowers. The poisonous substance of the milkweed it used as nourishment, will serve as part of its protection as a butterfly since anything that seeks to eat or attack it will die from the poisonous residue


What impacts me is how much detail our Creator puts into this one butterfly species!


Should we also remember He has shown us that much care in our creation?


Before we knew Him for who He is, we too have eaten of many poisonous things, but when He transforms us as His own child He invites us to taste and see how good He is and sends us into the world (even as He sends the monarch) so we might glorify Him.


Like the butterfly, He will show us the path if we will listen and He will also use those things sent to destroy us to give testimony to His goodness and greatness.


Monarch butterflies.


What a wonder!


What a gift!


What a Creator!



What Are You Feeding?

Photo by patrice schoefolt from Pexels


One of the things my husband and I most enjoy is when we can visit our adult children and grandchildren that live hundreds of miles away in different directions. 2020 has reduced the opportunity to do that with the pandemic, some medical procedures for my husband, and our son also going through chemotherapy.


We grow more eager as we are well aware of how fast our six grandchildren have been growing up. None of them are babies or even toddlers anymore. Three are in their early 20’s and the other three are in their teens. Despite the distances involved we drive to see them multiple times a year and did so even before retirement. We want to really know each one and encourage them as they move through each season even as we seek to do that with their parents, our children.


Each family has their own traditions and each grandchild relates with us around a variety of things. Yet each one is unique. (I love that!)


Recently we were able to visit our daughter and her family. That potentially gives us time with four of the six grandchildren, but most often only three now. Our oldest grandson is away in his second year of medical school, so we missed connecting with him this time.


Natalie’s cake

While we were there, we watched one of his sisters create an amazing homemade cake with handmade frosting roses that was delicious as well as beautiful. YUM! Another sister and I had a lovely chat over coffee sitting on her bedroom floor. His younger brother was sharing about all his physical training as he prepares to try out for soccer


Visiting with this family (as with our son’s family) invariably involves good food, good conversation, playing games, and usually watching a movie or two.


This visit one of the movie selections was one my husband and I had never seen. (That is often the case.) The movie was Tomorrowland and it included a story within the film that packed a powerful message, one I will remember long after the movie. It is also one that really speaks to the challenges most of us have struggled to face in 2020.


I jotted the story down and later learned it is an Indian parable entitled “The Tale of Two Wolves.”  Some of you may know it, but it was new to me.


The story begins as an elderly Cherokee Indian grandfather is talking to his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. The wise grandfather tells him that there is a battle that goes on inside of everyone (I would guess each of you might be nodding now). He then tells the tale:


He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one that you feed.”


What a powerful truth!


We can too easily be tempted to nurse our hurts, slights, biases, and opinions that have met opposition without much thought to the wolf we are feeding within ourselves. News of the day adds to it since there is usually little “good” news reported and the days of news reports have become more opinion pieces than straight news. Our downward mood and dwindling hope point to which wolf gets offered plenty of food.



Feeding the other wolf needs to be more intentional than many of us have been used to doing. It requires us to recognize there is much beauty to discover if we are looking for it. It pops up everywhere – in the cloud formations against the azure sky, the starry night skies, the Monarch butterflies preparing to wend their way south for the winter, the ripening tomatoes just outside our back door, the smile of a friend, the warmth of the cup of coffee in my hand in the morning as I am waking up – the list is endless if we look for it.


I think Paul was nudging us there in Philippians 4: 8-9:


“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG)


And God wants us to be the changemakers rather than always waiting for someone to come along and relight our candle.


Every day we have a choice of which “wolf” inside of us we feed.


The wisdom of Susannah Spurgeon’s writings suggest these words to exhort us in how to choose the right “wolf”:


“What a revolution there would be in all our Christian circles, if each one of us carried into every thought and word and action of the day the fragrance and freshness of our seasons of sweet communion with our Master! It is good to talk with God; it is far better to walk with Him. About the former, we may be self-deceived, but about the latter – never!”

From A Basket of Summer Fruit


Does Impatience Get in the Way?



Impatience – we never seem to escape it! It’s only a matter of how often we are grappling with it and what sets it in motion. We don’t like to wait on much of anything oftentimes and yet we have more than a few opportunities to practice learning how to wait.


Recent months have maybe stirred more impatience than usual as our lives have been disrupted by so many things and our choices have been more limited. We have all learned some things in the process, but not happily much of the time.


Many of us are familiar with how often scripture exhorts us to wait. That fact alone points to God’s value in waiting whether or not we like or even recognize it. The key is what we do in the midst of waiting.


Today I was reading a devotional focused on a verse from the Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk (not one you likely read with any frequency). Consider what this prophet is saying:


“I will stand my watch
And set myself on the rampart,
And watch to see what He will say to me,
And what I will answer when I am corrected.”

Habakkuk 2:1 (NKJV)


Clearly the prophet is modeling what waiting looks like. He stood his watch, and on a rampart, no less. I love the word picture of the meaning of rampart – “a defensive wall of a castle or walled city, having a broad top with a walkway and typically a stone parapet.”



But it gets more precise when he says he is watching to see what He (God) will say to him AND how he will respond when he is corrected. Those lines speak volumes about the character of this prophet of old.


In the midst of our waiting are we watching to see what God says or are we frantically running around in circles trying to make something happen to shorten or halt the waiting?


This verse challenges me in my own waiting during this season. There has been far more waiting than the obvious waiting impacting us all related to the pandemic and the waiting has been torturous at points. Waiting on biopsy reports, waiting during surgery of a loved one, waiting in the midst of treatment, waiting in the midst of recovery, and more.


The devotional focused on this verse I barely noticed in times past reading through this prophet of the Old Testament is A Basket of Summer Fruit by Susannah Spurgeon. Ever since I read her biography featured in a recent post here, I have been seeking to linger with the insight and wisdom found not only in Charles Spurgeon, but also his wife, Susannah.


Let me share part of her reflection on this verse:


“Are any of my readers in such deep trouble that all around them looks black, and thick, and threatening, as did that notable midnight sky? (Earlier she writes of awakening from sleep, going to her window and observing a sky that was “dark and heavy, not a star was to be seen.”)

Let me beg you to watch to see what He will say unto you. If you watch with real desire to hear and obey, you will certainly see the light of His love parting the densest gloom, and tokens of His mighty power appearing to reassure your fainting spirit.

There are no clouds so thick, that they can obscure His glorious light if He bids it shine; there are no troubles so black and appalling that they can fright the soul from beholding the brightness of His grace and truth when He reveals them; and the feeblest of His children may always trust Him to fulfill that blessed promise in His Word, “I will make darkness light before them. (Isaiah 42:16)”


Photo by Joonas kääriäinen from Pexels

As you consider her words, consider her life. She had experienced many trials and lived with a physical condition that caused her great pain and often prevented her from traveling with her husband as he went about preaching or retreated to study. At the time she wrote this, she was dealing with life without Charles at her side because he had died.


As she continues to exhort her readers, listen to her wisdom and truth:


“You may not be able to see your way on earth; but turn your eyes to Heaven, and gaze long and lovingly there. You do not need to see the path down below because He has said He will guide you and you know the darkness and the light are both alike to Him. Put your hand in His, and trust Him…”


“Remember, too, that He is watching for you to watch.”


How often it is that those who have gone before us leave a legacy in their lives and words to steadily point the way when our vision is blurred with tears or confusion and the enemy of our souls would have us believe that God is far off and unaffected by our situation.


He is waiting for us to watch.


That is what faith looks like!