It was a joy and a privilege for me to serve as developmental editor with Jeff Kemp (Family Life Vice President and former NFL Quarterback) in the writing of his book, Facing the Blitz: Three Strategies for Turning Trials into Triumphs, which will be released March 24th by Bethany House Publishers. It is available at your local bookstore, bethanyhouse.com or by calling 1-800-877-2665. Click the link below the book image to go to my InspiraLit site to read more!
You can follow this link below to the first installment of a daily Lenten Devotional from my friend Cynthia Bezek. It’s poignant, inspirational, and timely. I definitely think giving up being served is much more impactful (to myself and others) than giving up coffee or chocolate! I am looking forward to following along with Cynthia’s devotionals this Lent. Maybe you will want to, too. Journey to the Cross–February 18. Photo courtesy of digidreamgrafix and FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We arrived at 6:30 a.m. to a bit of a soggy, muggy day. I grabbed a quick nap and then went on a run into town to meet a couple of friends for coffee. Was I really in Gig Harbor only yesterday?
Lots of construction going on in the town square in Woking these days. It’s looking beautiful and oh-so-modern … then right around the corner I run into a street of row shops that looks like a scene from a Dickens novel. I love that about England.
Running past lovely manor homes and laurel hedges, holly with morning glory pouring out of it, a house called “Pooh Corner” (all the houses have names here)… past the football (soccer) field and the neighborhood pub (can’t wait for fish and chips and STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING) … have I mentioned how much I love England?
This is my sixth trip to the U.K., so it’s kind of becoming a home away from home, of sorts. We absolutely love it here: the people, the sights. The culture and history. The heart and spirit.
It’s hard to say if that’s just coincidence and personal affinity, or because we both have roots here. Doug’s grandfather was born in Devon, my great-grandparents in Hampshire and Scotland. I find it kind of a surreal (but very nice feeling) to go back to where our “people” came from.
That’s why I love it that God would bring Doug and me around full circle, back to the area our own grandparents and great-grandparents left almost a hundred years ago. Not just to vacation, but to serve. Not just to teach, but to learn. Not just to work, but to enjoy authentic friendships and Kingdom community.
We’re really looking forward to being part of the Prayer-Saturated Life conference at ChristChurch Woking next weekend, June 29-30 in Woking, Surrey. UK friends, if you’re around and available, please join us!
It’s going to be a full ten days. I’ll post some pics and blog entries and share some of our experiences, observations, and reflections. Glad to share the journey and keep you posted! 🙂
Funny how quickly I can turn from an I-hate-rain attitude to an Oh-joy-it’s-raining attitude. Maybe I garden just to save my sanity here in the rather waterlogged Pacific Northwest. Nonetheless, waking up to raindrops is a whole lot less depressing when I know it’s going to good use … and that the thirsty little seeds I planted last week are getting a Big Gulp this morning.
Good thing they don’t live in New York. (Oh wait, that’s a ban on big gulps of pop, not water.)
I’m really excited about this year’s garden. I planted a little differently, creating a grid with a combination of square foot sections and conventional rows, and way more flowers than last year.
A crown of blessings to my husband who dashed home between appointments one day just to till the garden for me because he knew how anxious I was to start planting. He screeched into the driveway, jumped out of his car, ran over to the garden, got behind the rototiller and tilled the garden IN HIS WORK CLOTHES, ran into the house, cleaned up a bit, and ran off to his next appointment.
Marking the grid was a little tedious but I think it will pay off in terms of tidiness. Plus it made it easy to create a “map” of my garden that I can use for future reference. I’ve always meant to keep a journal from year to year of what I grew in which part of the garden and how well each variety of plant did there. This will help.
I marked off one-foot sections, used a drill to insert screws every 12 inches, and marked off the square-foot sections and foot-wide rows with heavy twine.
Then I planted this year’s line up:
Vegetables: beans (2 kinds), peppers (green and red), tomatoes (3 varieties), lettuce, carrots, chives, onions, zucchini, parsley, and cucumber.
Flowers: A border all the way around the garden of dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers, snap dragons, nasturtium, and poppies.
Gardening is one of those things that’s kind of evolved for me over the years. Growing up on the prairies in Canada, pretty much everyone had gardens. (I still kind of think that Prairie people grow the best gardens but I’m probably somewhat biased on that.) When my kids were younger and I had less time I found it hard to keep up with the weeding and there were a lot of summers my garden got overgrown and Doug rolled his eyes at me that I even tried. But I persevered and, over the years, got more organized and systematic and disciplined.
(Now that I think of it, that goes for most things in my life. The organized and systematic part had to grow on me. )
There are lots of life lessons in gardening, of which God constantly reminds me throughout the growing season. I’m sure I’ll get a few of those this summer, too. Anyway, now my garden is planted and I’m looking forward to watching it sprout life and color and food for our table. And today’s gardening life lesson? We all need a little rain sometimes. 🙂
Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms.
He gives showers of rain to all people,
and plants of the field to everyone.
Granted, I’m an optimist. I like my life, as well as my eggs, “sunny side up.” Pollyanna was one of my favorite movies of all time (I even named one of my daughters after the actress who played the main character, Hayley Mills).
That being said, even if I weren’t an optimist, I would still believe this: With God, there is no worst case scenario.
I was reminded of that just this week, facing a medical situation. Thankfully, the combination of my swollen lymph nodes and bottomed-out iron levels did NOT equal something cancerous. But they could have. And yes, a couple moments of fear did cross my mind before the hematologist ruled that out and pronounced me simply, profoundly anemic. IV iron infusion, here I come …
Being confronted with fear (i.e., getting my boat rocked) once in a while is probably a good thing. It sure shows me where my trust is, anyway. It reminds me that fear says, “What if?” whereas faith says, “So what!” I want to be a woman of faith. Not flippant faith, but sound, solid faith that knows the facts and looks past them to a truer reality: Faith says that God is bigger than anything life, the world, or the devil can throw my way.
You might think I’m being overly simplistic and maybe I am a bit. But if my life belongs to God, if I’m really trusting Him in the driver’s seat, then I can trust that He will direct. He will provide. He will make the crooked ways straight and the broken things whole. It’s what He does. He’s a compassionate, powerful, redemptive Father who always comes to His children’s rescue (Psalm 103:8-14). Maybe not always in the ways I would like Him to. But He always shows up!
And in the meantime, I believe Jesus’ promises: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world … I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (John 16:33; Luke 10:19). I am with you. I have given you authority to overcome. Nothing will harm you.
I’m not being a Pollyanna when I say I don’t believe anyone should live held down by fear, anxiety, hopeless, sorrow, or panic: What if? What if? What if???
If IF happens, He will still be there. He will still be good. He will still provide, direct, redeem, and restore. It’s who He is. It’s what He does. And I’m so very, very glad about that.
“There are eight hundred happy texts, did you know that? If God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must have wanted us to do it.” ~Pollyanna
Little did I know the day I picked up a copy of a book called Breathe at a used book store that I would be learning that lesson in more ways than one. The book caught my eye first by its title, Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life. I thought that sounded good (and welcome), and the inviting picture of a comfy chair in a sunny corner looked particularly appealing to stressed-out little ol’ me.
So I took it home with me. It would be a great jumping-off spot for my daily devotions and fodder for reflection about some of the high-impact issues going on in my life and family.
Did I mention last year was a CRAZY BUSY year?
Our eldest two children got married within six months of each other.
Our third child trotted off to Europe for three months and then transferred universities across state upon her return.
Our youngest child started high school (aargh!).
… not to mention a number of writing and editing projects, speaking engagements/work and ministry trips, a growing kids ministry at church, health issues with one of our kids that required drastic diet changes, major car repairs, my husband starting a new career, and well, truthfully … learning to parent young adults instead of children has been a whole new world in and of itself. It’s been a busy, full season of life—and no end in sight!
Ironically, at the same time I picked up Breathe to be my “travel-companion” of sorts during this season, I managed to land myself with the worst case of asthma I’d had in eight years. It got so bad I ended up in the allergy/asthma doctor’s office for a breathing treatment!
Probably not a coincidence, ya think?
God has a way of doing that, doesn’t He? … of giving us a graphic object lesson in the natural realm to get our attention and help us understand something in the spiritual realm. It certainly got my attention!
I could almost hear Him whispering in my ear, “Sit down. Relax. Take a breath. Breathe in Me.” So I did. And I am. I’m pacing myself better. Listening and following a little better (I hope). And certainly breathing easier.
A lot of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book I skimmed through because (season-of-life-wise) it’s more directed at mothers of young children … but the principles and insights have nonetheless been invaluable and thought provoking for me. I recommend it. You can click on the photo of the book above for a link to where you can buy it if you think you might need a little “breathing treatment” of your own. 🙂
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. ~Job 33:4
It’s been said that the family that prays together, stays together—but do you know just how true that really is? Seriously! A Gallup poll revealed that among married couples who attend church together regularly, the divorce rate is one out of two. How sad. That’s the same statistic as for marriages anywhere. But get this: among couples who pray together daily, the divorce rate is one out of 1,153. [i] What a difference!
One of the best gifts a couple can give their children (and each other) is the gift of a strong marriage and family life knit together through prayer. Prayer builds unity and intimacy. We become intimate to whom we pray, for whom we pray, and with whom we pray. Prayer is the key to unlocking extraordinary blessings for children and families the way a key unlocks a gate.
Years ago, Doug came up with a slogan for our family that, in our house, prayer should always be “the first response, not a last resort.” I’d go so far to say that prayer has not only been our lifeline to heaven (and sometimes to sanity!), but it’s also been our greatest and most valued parenting tool.
What that’s meant for this mom, specifically, has been to make every effort to pray first, open mouth second. I’ve had to work on it even harder as my kids have grown and become adults. More often than not, my role is not to fix, not to correct, not to express an opinion … but to pray. And then step back and trust God. (Yes, hard to do I know. But He always comes through and I’ve learned to trust Him.)
Proverbs 31: 27 says, “She watches over the affairs of her household.” I skipped merrily over that verse for years until one day I just happened to read it at the same time as I was reading elsewhere in the Bible that day. Isaiah 62:6-7 says, “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest.”
That jumped out at me. I’m a word person. Both roots of those words—watches and watchman—have similar meanings, “to peer into the distance, observe, watch; to hedge about (as with thorns), guard, protect, attend to”[ii] They can also be translated “lookout” or “doorkeeper.”[iii]
How very cool. I realized way back then that prayer is one of the most powerful roles a mother can play in her children’s lives. So much more can be accomplished for my kids from my knees than from my mouth! Correction, instruction, suggestions, and advice are all very well and good—and necessary. But years of experience tell me (and I know many other praying moms who will agree with me) that some of the most powerful breakthroughs I’ve seen with my children have been when I prayed instead of only trying to fix a situation with natural means.
My friend Cindy has a sign posted in her family room, where she can see it every day, that says PRAY BIG. I love it. I think it’s the perfect mom-slogan. 🙂
Have you PRAYED for your kids today?
This post adapted from my book Prayer-Saturated Kids, by Arlyn Lawrence and Cheryl Sacks, NavPress 2007.