Monthly Archives: November 2015

Giving Thanks: Not the Usual Suspects

Giving Thanks- Not the Usual SuspectsI’m not quite sure how it happened, but Thanksgiving appears to be upon us. I have no idea what I’m making yet. I have not admitted to myself there is cleaning to do, groceries to buy, or even plans to firm up. I’m in limbo. Stuck. I’ve been waiting on news on whether a loved one is moving forward in cancer treatment or facing an overgrown, unwanted enemy who invited more friends to the table while we weren’t looking.

I simply cannot plan, think, or even decide which task to start.

Ever live in limbo, holding your breath for the next news to ring your phone, pop onto your e-mail, or flit across your newsfeed?

The truth is that we all come to our Thanksgiving table this year with so many world events on our minds. Amidst ISIS, beheadings, bombings, displacement, wars, genocide, human trafficking, school shootings, tense political debates, riots, and the like, how do we give thanks with any sense of peace and calm?

And, if you’re like me, knowing the weight of what is going on around us, I feel guilty sitting at a table spread with provision and leisure with the luxury of casually discussing terror and turmoil as a dinner topic over “Pass the mashed potatoes, please.”

So, where do we go to put ourselves in a place of grateful and outward, positive focus, to give thanks the way the Apostle Paul did for the early church in Ephesus? Read the rest of this entry »


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A Book Review of “Ishtar’s Odyssey”

A Book Review of Ishtar's OdysseyI rarely review books, but when I was asked by Kregel Publications to review Ishtar’s Odyssey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide, I didn’t even have to think about it. My family and I have been enjoying his Advent books for years. They have become part of our tradition around the table each Advent season during which we find ourselves eager to begin the next chapter every day.

Considering we have read Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels, I can honestly say that Isthar’s Odyssey is my absolute favorite!

What I love about these books is that they are historical fiction through interwoven tales of families and characters who meet up throughout their individual stories, ending at the point of Jesus’s birth. You can read the books in any order, and while each one offers its own unique tale, after reading all of them, you will see a rich tapestry unfold. The collection does a great job communicating how so many different groups of people must have regarded the birth of a baby Messiah with a bright star leading them with such awe, confusion, and yet tremendous hope.

What is refreshing is that these stories contain the true grit of life, Read the rest of this entry »


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Are You an Armor-Bearer?

Are You an Armor-BearerI had just sent a quick “Pray for us!” email to a mentor and friend in the middle of a very difficult crossroads in my life. There was a decision coming I had seen from a distance for a while but tried for two years to navigate around it—finding a different path—to avoid going through it.

And here we now were. My heart hurt as reality settled in. One of my children needed yet another intervention to smooth out the bumps in his road. It was a last resort for me. Not Plan A or B but really Z. “God, why are we going down that path? I told You that was not desirable!” (Um, in hindsight, that was rather arrogant of me!)

Within 5 minutes of my heart’s cry going out over email, this dear woman’s reply was as follows:

“We are praying for His grace and His calling on this tender-hearted warrior for God.”

What? A Warrior? Oh, wow. We couldn’t feel weaker than we do right now—more like at our wit’s end. What do you mean by warrior? Warriors have strength. Where is the might in this? I see us in a heap of surrender. I really don’t view this as a victory.

But that’s not at all what she was saying. She was conveying Read the rest of this entry »


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Where Fear Tries to Tread

Where Fear Tries to TreadMy 9 year old Little Man and I were out waiting for the bus, watching Bobo the Smith Lawn Chipmunk scuttling around in our front wooded area. He was eating and storing things in his little cheeks.

Little Man was fascinated for quite some time, but then he
said: “Mom, what if a snake gets him today?”

And isn’t that a sign of how we all mature from our innocence and learn the darker side of the world? When fear creeps in where we used to prance about with untainted optimism?

Don’t we all so quickly “go there” in our minds and hearts? Fear is always crouching. Darkness always wants us to think it wins.

2 Timothy 1:7, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking 

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

It’s interesting that the King James Version uses the word “sound mind” instead of “self-control.” It suggests to me we are given the tools in Christ to put our minds where they should be. Our minds don’t have to be tossing about at the whims of our fears. We are given the power and love to keep them sound, safe from the torment of crippling “what ifs.”

What if:

  • The chemo doesn’t work?
  • We never work through this conflict?
  • S/he leaves me?
  • S/he never learns to read?
  • We can’t pay for college?
  • They never learn to live on their own?
  • I fail?
  • The car dies before we can afford to replace it?
  • We never sell this house?
  • There’s a car accident?
  • S/he never comes home?
  • I never get well?
  • We die before the kids are raised?
  • I lose this job?

Read the rest of this entry »


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