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The True Source of Lasting Satisfaction

Photo by S. Forest

I have a sweet friend that loves to feed the local bird population. She has birdfeeders hanging from her balcony and protruding from the ground below. We often have text exchanges about the birds collecting in her yard and conversations about how to attract more birds when the visitor numbers slow.

I was inspired by her enthusiasm and truth be told a little friendly rivalry was rising – how many birds could I attract to my yard?

So armed with the knowledge she had imparted to me, I added two feeders to my backyard. They were directly below the dining room window, well within view of watchful eyes – will they come?

Then one by one, finch, bluebird, dove, and a random covey of quail found the feeders – a full-blown obsession was conceived.

Each morning, Titus (our fur baby) and I make the trip to the feeders, fill each to the brim, and scatter a little on the ground. During the day, my husband and I keep watch on our guests. He often comments on the number of birds. Yes, the obsession has captured him as well.

One morning I was standing at the window, a warm cup of tea in hand. I noticed the doves. They are frequent visitors. They congregate under the feeders, scratching, searching for seed. I know they are ground feeders but today it struck me. They searched for food, moving from feeder to feeder looking to the ground. While all along, hanging above their heads were full feeders! As the wind caused the feeders to sway, seeds would fall to the ground. But, what they wanted, what would meet their needs, provide satisfaction was right above their heads. All they had to do was look up.

As a younger woman, I had dreams. Things in my life I wanted to accomplish. I moved from goal to goal, accomplishing some, experiencing devastating loss with others, but constantly striving – one more goal. Scratching around life, looking for the one accomplishment that would meet my needs, feed me, all the while looking to myself for satisfaction.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying, dreams are not bad, goals give us motivation. But when we depend on these things to define us, to give us purpose and value, we are like doves – never looking to the true source of real satisfaction.

The Bible tells us in the book of Matthew,

 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

Matthew 6:25-26 – The Message (MSG)

This is a beautiful reminder if we are God-worshippers we don’t have to scratch and search for something to fill us. All we need to do is look up. He promises to care, provide, and love us. And that brings true satisfaction.

Be Blessed,


REFLECT:

Psalm 139 – New International Version (NIV)

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of saw when I awake, I am still with you.

For additional reading – Psalm 139:1-18 NIV – For the director of music. Of David. A – Bible Gateway

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  1. What or who are you looking to for satisfaction?
  2. Do you believe God can meet your needs? If yes, why? If no, why not?

ENJOY:

Won’t Stop Now (Paradoxology) | Official Music Video | Elevation Worship – Bing video

Laid Bare

Photo by J. Lee

At 36, Elizabeth had more life experience than most women her age. A thriving career, a loving marriage, a bright energetic daughter, and an entourage of friends that loved and supported her.

Yet, when you talked with her or spent any time around her, you felt a disconnect, a brokenness that was difficult to explain. There was the person she wanted you to see (an accomplished professional with a full life) and the reflection of the person she was.

People say you know the person by the company they keep. I think you know the person by how they feed their souls. What they allow into their minds and permit to influence their behavior.

People are what they do in the secret spaces of their hearts. The truth of their lives surface when the pretense that keeps their image intact is revealed.

Elizabeth experienced this unveiling on a Thursday afternoon as her workweek was ending. She was looking forward to the weekend, some scheduled time with her best friend. She glanced at the clock, 5:35 PM, as the phone rang. The display reflected her boss’s number. “Hey Liz, I need to see you in my office?” She gathered her coat and purse, thinking she would leave from his office for home, and made her way to his suite. She knocked gently on the door. He responded, “Come on in!”

As she opened the door, the tension in the room spilled into the hallway. Shadows from the setting sun cast odd shapes on the conference table and adjacent floor. Her boss sat at the head of the table, the Director of HR to his right. A file folder laid between them.

Elizabeth shifted, right then left, until she landed squarely on both feet, “What’s going on?”

He motioned for her to join them at the table. She sat at the opposite end.

Her boss reached for the manila folder and rummaged through the file. He found two pieces of paper and started to read a list of client names accompanied by the dollar amounts that had been taken from each account. Elizabeth’s heart exploded and then dropped to the ground. She had been so careful, small amounts that would fly under the controller’s radar, a total sum of just under $10,000.00.

Thirteen years at the same bank. Elizabeth had grown up there – socially, professionally, and intellectually. Unfortunately, it would be the place where she would be exposed, the pretense of her life laid bare.

You may read this story and determine it’s fiction. Unfortunately, it is based on the truth of women whose lives were destroyed by deception and arrogance. Women who filled their hearts and minds with the seduction of fame, the lure of greed, and the pride of self-reliance.

And before you convince yourself this could never happen to you, let me say, it happened to me. My offense was not criminal. Yet it was just as destructive and damaging.

For decades, I bought the lie that to be personally successful meant I had to be a professional warrior. Every job promotion was a battlefield waiting to be conquered. Every new project a victory to be won. Do you have an unproductive division that needed some motivation, send me. Was there a team that needed redirecting, I was their “true north.” My career gave me purpose, it defined me.

Until…

There was no job and I was left with the ugly truth that I had become prideful, arrogant in my abilities, and my efforts would never be enough to fill the void.

Steve Maraboli, recognized as a leading voice in the fields of peak business performance and human behavior writes,

“We must transcend the illusion that money or power has any bearing on our worthiness as children of God.”

Elizabeth bought the lie that taking a little from her clients’ accounts would never be detected. Honestly, she never considered the impact it had on their finances. Her conscience had hardened to the truth that her actions were wrong.

I had bought the lie that driving, pushing, being professionally successful, at the expense of everything else, brought happiness. My fulfillment was derived from my success. My heart had hardened to the truth that my worth was ultimately found in being a child of God.

The world would love to keep us focused on its lies. After all, we are what we feed our souls. What we allow into our minds and permit to influence our behavior.  

If we focus on lies then we live a lie.

Yet, there is an alternative. We can choose to leave behind the illusion of worth, value, and power and rest in God’s truth,

1Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 

Ephesians 2:1-6 (New Living Translation)

But God!

We can continue to live the lie, but God…

We can linger in our pride, greed, self-reliance, but God…

He offers the truth.

He brings freedom.

Choose to trust Him today.

Be blessed His BeLOVED,



REFLECT:

Philippians 4:8-9 (New Living Translation)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

For additional reading – Philippians 4 NLT – Therefore, my dear brothers and – Bible Gateway

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  1. What are you feeding your soul, allowing into your mind, and permitting to influence your behavior?
  2.  If the truth of your life were laid bare, what would it reveal?

ENJOY:

Nothing Else (feat. Cody Carnes) // The Belonging Co – YouTube

The Other Side

Photo by Unsplash

The drive to the bridge was filled with mixed emotions.

Nestled atop a cliff, it spanned the gorge, offering breath-taking views of the river below and the waterfall that graced the mountainside.

But there was something a little unsettling about a bridge suspended precariously in the air. It didn’t feel quite right to be walking across wood planks connected by rope and bordered by a wire cage. I should add, suspension bridges sway – controlled by the wind and the steadiness of those crossing.

The bridge was a few miles from the parking lot and with each step, my excitement turned to anxiety. I came to the end of the path and the entry to the bridge was in view. It appeared narrower than I had imagined and it seemed to disappear into the trees, a dark uninviting space.

People say the first step is the most difficult. So, I inched my toes to the edge of the first plank, prayed, and started walking. Gripping the wire cage with both hands, I made my way to the middle of the bridge, stopping briefly to look over the edge – water, rocks, a deer, and yes a waterfall cascading over the rim of the gorge to the floor below.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see them running down the path. Teenage boys, R U N N I N G with abandonment towards the bridge. And that small voice in my head began to scream.

Get. Off. The. Bridge!

My peaceful encounter with anxiety, suspension bridges, nature, was about to be profoundly disrupted by a tsunami of swaying, the turbulent waves of teenage boys running across a suspension bridge. As their feet hit the first plank, I turned and started walking towards that dark uninviting exit. But before I could make it very far, the wave hit, the bridge shifted and swayed, and all that I had feared was realized.

I clung to the side of the bridge as the boys ran by. Their laughter and screams could be heard as they disappeared into the shadows.

The bridge’s movement slowed and finally came to rest. I gathered what little courage I had left and made my way to the other side.

It was done. I was safely on solid ground – challenge conquered, crisis averted, and courage growing.

Making my way through the dark uninviting space, I found a path that took me to the river floor, across a shallow stream, up a narrow ridge, and back to the parking lot. All the while, the bridge hung overhead, swaying in cadence with the wind.

Once safely back on pavement, I replayed the day’s events in my mind – toes to plank, first step, boys RUNNING, and a path to safety. I remembered looking up from the river floor and seeing the bridge suspended from cliff edge to cliff edge and at that moment realized I had been changed by the experience. There was a peacefulness settling in that quiet space deep in my heart. A subtle confidence – another fear faced and overcome.  

2020 felt a little like an endless suspension bridge, swaying in the turbulence of unprecedented times. With each step, the movement intensified leaving us searching for something to cling to. It became a year of divisiveness, anger, self-absorption, and unprecedented anxiety and fear.

But it was also a year of opportunity. A break in our normal pace allowing us to reflect and refocus.

Theologian Edmund Clowney writes,

“God sends trials to strengthen our trust in him so that our faith will not fail. Our trials keep us trusting; they burn away our self-confidence and drive us to our Savior.”

Looking back over the journey, I see that I have changed – a little less cynical, a bit more compassionate, and perhaps more focused. Focused on the things that mean the most – husband, sister, best friends. Focused on the truth that regardless of the circumstance, God remains in control.

I pray that in 2021 you will discover the truth taught to you by last year’s journey. That you embrace the fact that God remains near, and that your faith in the steadfastness of Christ grows.

Blessings His BeLOVED,


REFLECT:

James 1:2-8

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

For additional reading – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+1&version=NIV

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  • As you look back over 2020, what have you learned about the steadfastness of Christ?
  • How will you allow this new knowledge to penetrate your heart and change you in the New Year?

ENJOY:

The Blessing with Kari Jobe & Cody Carnes | Live From Elevation Ballantyne | Elevation Worship – YouTube

The Gift of Eternal Life

Taken from a blog written in 2019

Photo by Unsplash

I was so excited this Christmas about the gift I selected for my husband! It was something he needed, unexpected, actually something he never considered.

His home office chair was made up of bits and pieces from his previous chair and parts found at a thrift store. It worked and he was excited about his creation.

Yet I noticed that as he spent time in the chair, he slowly lowered. The hydraulics no longer worked. And at 6’2”, you need a chair’s hydraulics to work. Otherwise, you look like a giant sitting in a child’s chair – his knees creeping close to his ears.

So, his present was a leather desk chair. Of course, it came unassembled in a box – a very large heavy box! And when you are trying to surprise a person, a large heavy box is an obstacle. The store clerk loaded it into my car, it was unloaded at a friend’s house to wrap, reloaded by the same friends, and then I made my way home. Once there, I had this large wrapped present and no way to get in the house.

Standing at the tailgate of my car contemplating my challenge, my husband stepped out of the house. He asked, “Do you need help?” I reluctantly responded “yes,” but added, “don’t shake it” – as if he could really shake this thing.

We got it through the doorway, rested it on the floor near the Christmas tree and stood back to take in the enormity of the box. My husband turned to me and with his boyish smile asked,

What is it?

Is it for me?

I responded, “You’ll have to wait for Christmas day and yes, it is for you.”

For the next few days, he made statements about his present, speculated about its contents, and commented about the size and weight. I would catch him standing and staring at the box and then…

Christmas morning arrived.

He opened the big box last, still no clue about what was inside. His anticipation and excitement broke as he ripped open the wrapping paper to reveal his new office chair.

He was surprised. It was a practical gift; something needed, and quickly became his “best” Christmas gift. 

God, in His goodness, gave us some amazing gifts.

He created us in His image, in His likeness – the gift of life. And even when we disobeyed Him, wandered aimlessly through a desert wilderness, He was sovereign. He sent His Son that Christmas morning making a way to reconcile us with God – the gift of new life.

You must understand that from the day God created us, He knew we would reject Him. He was never taken by surprise, never stunned by our actions. He has always known our disobedience would lead to the ultimate sacrifice, the life of His Son.

Hundreds of years before Jesus crucifixion, Isaiah prophesied,

(5) But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

(6) We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

(7) He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

(8) By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.

(9) He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53: 5-12 New International Version (NIV)

Take a minute to allow that to sink in. God never had a Plan-B, He has always known – Christmas would lead to crucifixion. A sacrifice that led to the best gift, the gift of eternal life.

Roman’s 5:6-8 says,

(6) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (7) Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. (8) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us… (21) so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

NIV

The greatest gift, our sins forgiven and eternal life with our Father.

As we close 2020, I encourage you to remember God’s great love for you. From the creation of the world and throughout history,

He remains close.

He loves you.

You are His BeLOVED!

Blessings,

The Gift of New Life

Taken from a blog written in 2019

Photo by Unsplash

Christmas is 3-days away and I am so excited about sharing time with my husband.

We’ve celebrated with family and friends and now we get a chance to slow down, light a fire in the fireplace, cuddle together on the couch, and reflect on all the blessings, the gifts, God has given us this year.

You see it’s been one of those years that cause you to take notice. It forced us to take a deep breath. It tested our faith and it drove us to abandon our pride and self-reliance. 

This year, God gave us an amazing gift, the gift of new life. Wrapped in the hands of a skilled surgeon, a new artery replacing the one that had blocked my heart.

I am grateful.

We are thankful.

I am forever changed.

Some 2000 years ago, a new life was born in a humble stable. Wrapped in cloth and placed in a manger, a baby – the Savior of the world.

His parents hovered close; they had encountered the angels and listened intently when told about His purpose. What a life-altering gift that first Christmas.

I doubt anyone witnessing this infant fully grasped the enormity of the event. Jesus, God’s son, taking on human form to offer a broken world new life.

(4) But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, (5) to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (6) Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (7) So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Galatians 4:4-7 New International Version (NIV)

Through Jesus’ birth that Christmas morning, we are heirs, sons, daughters, and a child of God. Our gift is a life transformed, becoming more and more like our Father. No longer enslaved by sin, controlled by our fears, confined to the world’s definitions, or imprisoned by unattainable expectations. Our faith and trust in Jesus bring newness.

This Christmas, I hope you take a few minutes to step away from the demands of the holiday and reflect on the gift God has given you.

You are loved.

You are a daughter of The King.

You are His BeLOVED.

Blessings – Merry Christmas!

The Gift of Life

Taken from a blog written in 2019

Photo from Unsplash

If we are honest, Christmas is hard!

The shopping, cooking, parties, cards, expectations, unmet expectations, and inevitable disappointments. All are condensed into 4 weeks. There is just not enough time to make it all fit and sometimes not sufficient emotional capital to address all the needs.

Christmas can be challenging! 

I think one of my challenges is finding the perfect gift. One that tells the person I have thought about you. I care about you. You are special to me.

Particularly hard is shopping for the young adults in my life and those that already have enough and have asked for “no more.”

This year, I tried to maneuver around the shopping trials and made most of the presents for family and close friends. And because family and chosen family live in other states, I placed my treasures in cute gift bags, packed them in boxes, drove them to the shipping store, and prayed they arrive before Christmas day.

During this season, I am drawn to the manger scene. Baby Jesus, shepherds, and that bright shining star. But long before the Wise Men offered their precious presents, before an untimely trip to Bethlehem, before Mary and Joseph, God gave us His first gift. The gift of life.

(26) Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and overall the creatures that move along the ground.”

(27) So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

(28) God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 1:26 – 28

God gave each of us an amazing gift – the gift of life. He chose us to occupy space and time with Him. He offered us intimacy, a relationship, a garden filled with His created beauty, communion with our Creator. And then He offered us purpose – multiply, fill the earth, and rule over it.

Genesis 2:7 shares,                                                                                                                                  

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Can you imagine the scene? God kneeling on the ground. He scoops dirt from the earth and forms a man. He then bends close and breathes life into his lungs. A creation of love – the first human. The origin of our lives.

And then,

(21) …God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. (22) Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:21-22

God fashioned you and me (women) out of the man he formed, a single rib – our life.

This Christmas season let us not forget that we are God’s creation, shaped in His image, bearing His likeness. He gave us life that creation day and He continues to give us life today, directing our paths, providing for our futures. 

Please don’t lose sight, with the busyness of the Christmas season, the gift-giving, the parties, the expectations, and inevitable disappointments – 1000s of years ago, God gave us the most amazing gift – the gift of life.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:17

Blessings,

More Je-Sus

Taken from a blog series written in 2019

Photo by unknown

Samantha couldn’t have been much older than 3, tugging at her mom’s hand and pointing in the direction of Santa’s workshop. Mom was trying to finish her conversation with the sales clerk but Samantha would not be ignored.

They finally made their way to the end of the line and settled behind a snake of excited squiggling toddlers. Each made their way to Santa’s lap, a coaxed whisper in his ear, and a candy cane to complete their visit. Stepping off the stage, each running with excitement to the waiting arms of family.

Samantha walked up the steps, mounted Santa’s knee, and announced to the crowd what she wanted for Christmas. No whisper, no coaxed conversation – she shouted clearly for all to hear.

To the surprise of her mother, the list included a baby brother – his name will be James just like her Grandpa, a fairy doll set, and a new goldfish. Goldie, her previous goldfish, was found floating upside down in his bowl and was sent to heaven by way of a flush. The crowd chuckled and then froze at Samantha’s next statement,

I need more JE-SUS!

Santa looked a little puzzled. What do you say to a child that wants more Jesus?

Samantha smiled and scooted off Santa’s lap, collected her candy cane, and made her way back to mom. Mom bent down and gave her a hug, then stood and clarified,

Cheez-Its, she loves them; we’ve run out!

The crowd let out a collective giggle, Samantha walked away, candy cane in hand.

Samantha was unaware of the truth she had shared with her sweet mispronunciation. But such a profound reality innocently communicated.

I don’t know about you but this Christmas, I need more Jesus!

Replacing the uncertainty of the world, with the comfort that He is enough. Substituting the hustle with the beauty of time spent in His presence, available to hear a Word, gain a glimpse of eternity. I need to move my attention off my expectations and wants, refocusing the minutes of my days on all He has done, His provision, His future promises.

What a perfect Christmas gift, more Jesus.

In Galatians 4:3-7 we get a glimpse at the gift of Jesus,

(3) And that is the way it was with us before Christ came. We were slaves to Jewish laws and rituals, for we thought they could save us. (4) But when the right time came, the time God decided on, he sent his Son, born of a woman, born as a Jew, (5) to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his very own sons. (6) And because we are his sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, so now we can rightly speak of God as our dear Father. (7) Now we are no longer slaves but God’s own sons. And since we are his sons, everything he has belongs to us, for that is the way God planned.

Living Bible (TLB)

That first Christmas God gave us the ultimate gift, His Son. And every Christmas since that day, His precious gift remains available to us.

For some, the gift remains unopened. If the truth were told, they don’t even see the humble package. They scan the stack of gifts, drawn to the shiny boxes, the fancy packaging, those that sparkle of gold and silver.

Some open His gift, trying it on to see if it fits, and later decide to re-gift it. They recognize it will require sacrifice. They can’t appreciate the value, the great price paid.

A few unwrap the gift and immediately recognize the treasure inside. They are overwhelmed by its beauty and value, moved to tears for being offered such a cherished treasure.

As you navigate this Christmas season, I encourage you to reflect on why you celebrate. Evaluate if you need more Jesus this year and consider slowing down a little to enjoy the extravagant gift you’ve been given.

My prayer for you this Christmas season is that you have received the precious gift of Jesus, recognize the treasure you’ve been given, and share your gift with those around you.

Blessings,


Over the next three weeks, we will look at three gifts God has given us. We will take time to unwrap each precious package and discover the depth of God’s love and care for each of us.

As we focus on these extravagant gifts, I invite you to shift your focus from Christmas as it has been to Christmas as it can be. A Christmas filled with more of Jesus.

I am excited to unpack the gift of Jesus with you.

What My Dog Taught Me About Satisfaction

Photo by C. Lutke

Our dog, Titus, has a few favorite humans in his world. My husband and I, and two of my close girlfriends. This weekend, we were scheduled to take our morning walk with one of them.

We headed out the garage door and made our way across the open field. As we neared the sidewalk, I mistakenly told Titus that Karen, one of those FAVORITE humans, would be joining us. From the moment he heard “Karen,” the pull was on!

For the next mile, he tugged and lunged, eyes searching the roadside to find his friend. Until we rounded the corner and he caught a glimpse of her crossing the street. He could not contain himself – the moans and grunts erupted and the pulling would not stop until he was at Karen’s feet.

Doggy kisses and paw hugs ensued and if tails could talk, Titus’ would scream – “I MISSED you SO much!”

As we walked, Titus investigated every scent left by animal and man. Occasionally he looked back in our direction just to confirm we were following, keeping pace. He moved from one side of the path to the other until eventually, we made our way to the end of the trail. We stopped where path meets road to say our goodbyes.

Titus danced excitedly at Karen’s feet and as we parted, he kept looking back until we turned the corner and she disappeared from his view. He looked up at me, his brown eyes fixed and steady, and if dogs could talk, I am certain he would say, “I’m satisfied.” I encouraged him, “Let’s go home,” he turned, made a left at the top of the hill, and took us home.

I have been thinking about Titus’ interaction with Karen. From the moment I mentioned her name, he made every possible effort to get to her, he was focused. Once he saw her, his efforts intensified. He was determined. And once he made it to her feet and walked with her along the path, he was satisfied.

Focused.

Determined.

 Satisfied.

I think I do focused and determined pretty well. The start of a new project, a new job, a new adventure – I’m focused. Making certain no detail is missed, organizing, coordinating, and checking each item off the list. If I run into challenges or roadblocks, I find ways to push through – I guess you can say I’m determined, but satisfied…

Satisfied is complicated.

Focused and determined are both things I can influence. Things I have the power to improve.

However, satisfaction is something received – the contentment that comes after the need has been met. And the assumption is that when you’ve obtained satisfaction, you don’t need anything more.

I seem to achieve satisfaction only to lose it again. My insecurities, perceived inadequacies, my wants, and desires all build and I become anxious, start striving, tugging, pulling – a frustrating cycle that moves me from satisfied to wanting more.

So perhaps being truly satisfied, is not about what I do (being in control) and more about what I don’t do.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 11, the author writes,

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

New Living Translation (NLT)

I think this verse is telling me to bring all that striving, my need to be more and do more, my insecurities, and inadequacies to Jesus and He will give me rest – satisfaction. Perhaps, as I think about it, He is the only true source of contentment.

Each time Titus hears the name of one of his favorite humans, or sees a car that looks like theirs, or hears their voices, that focused determined behavior repeats.

Until…

He sees them, touches them, and then he can rest.

I want that same focused determination to drive me to my heavenly Father in anticipation of the rest He will provide. And once there, I want to let go. Let go of my striving. Let go of my need for more, and instead rest.

I pray dear BeLOVED, that you do the same. That you find lasting satisfaction in the only One that can provide it – Jesus.

Be Blessed,

Be Thankful – Grateful

Photo by P. du Preez

I was so proud of myself. My Thanksgiving blog was written, edited, and scheduled to post – two weeks early! It was a sweet piece about all the things I love most about the holiday.

Then, last week, life happened.

All that I wrote seemed trite, out of place in contrast to the week’s circumstances.

Our dear friends lost their son, unexpectedly, so needlessly.

A friend’s daughter was diagnosed with COVID, the family, extended family, friends all exposed.

A 16-year-old killed on the expressway.

A father of four heading home from work, gone, instantly.

So no, my original blog post no longer worked. It didn’t address the burden my heart felt. It doesn’t answer the hard question,

How can I be thankful (how can you be thankful), even grateful, in the midst of the pain that fills our world, our lives, the lives of those we love?

I wonder if you have ever experienced those moments when being grateful is out of reach. Times when you want to trust but trusting feels awkward and if you’re honest disingenuous. Thankful and grateful are great aspirations but today, today you just want to wake up and have the pain gone.

I’m not going to try to provide a formula for transforming your aching into gratefulness or offer a series of clichés to encourage you to be strong. Instead, I want you to imagine that I’m sitting across the table from you, cups of warm tea sit between us, your hands rest in mine. I lean forward and as clearly as I can express I remind you,

Life on earth is hard, often unfair, even unkind. But our lives are not confined to this earthly realm. I am confident that pain, suffering, brokenness will be replaced. Replaced with unimaginable joy, a peace beyond understanding, an awareness that you are loved beyond reason. Today we live in the hard. Yet this is exactly where we find God. It is in our brokenness, a contrite humble place, that He molds, shapes, transforms us into His image.

And as I sit back in my chair, I recognize that this reminder may not be enough to comfort you. But it is the only thing that has ever provided reassurance for my pain.

Tim Keller, in his book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, offers this insight,

One of the main ways we move from abstract knowledge about God to a personal encounter with him as a living reality is through the furnace of affliction.

Every event in my life that dragged me through life’s furnace, lead me to greater intimacy with God.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reminds us,

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. 17 These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! 18 So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

Living Bible (TLB)

My prayer for you this Thanksgiving is that you come to understand that this world’s hard can realign your perspective and lead you to the feet of Jesus. And as you look into His eyes, my hope is that you realize you are cherished and loved. You have so much to be thankful for, so much to be grateful for.

Be Blessed His BeLOVED,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Take a few minutes to enjoy Thank You by Maverick City

Do I Have Anything To Be Thankful For?

Photo by G. de Germain

Some say 2020 has been the worst year ever! If I am completely honest, I’ve had moments when I share that sentiment. It’s been challenging on so many levels, and the funny thing is, we don’t know if 2021 will be any better.

And now, Thanksgiving is 11 days away. The day we set aside to remember, to give thanks, to appreciate those special people in our lives. But what will the holiday look like when we are again quarantined, isolated, and that little anxious twitch is knocking at the door. I don’t know about you but I’m searching for the thankful – do I have anything to be thankful, grateful for?

Take a few minutes and watch this short video.

What a beautiful reminder, regardless of how hard the year has been or how uncertain the future may be, we are blessed beyond our temporal understanding. We can walk through our lives missing all the blessings or we can choose to open our hearts, turn our gaze away from ourselves, and look up. When we take time to refocus, we will find,  

God loves us,

We are His children,

We have eternity to look forward to.

Deuteronomy 31:8 reminds us,

God is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.” The Message (MSG)

Be thankful, grateful His BeLOVED,

I want to challenge you, take a few minutes this week and list all the things you are thankful for. You may be pleasantly surprised.