Favorite Things

Photographer Unknown

I have never been fashion conscious, but I know comfortable. And that is where the story of my favorite pair of pants begins.

I found this amazing pair of JJill khakis at a thrift store. I like the designer because she makes clothes that fit a woman’s body. What a find, the perfect size, amazing price, and great feel. They immediately became my favorite pair of pants.

I have to admit, I wear them a lot, well until…

Did you know that cotton fabric is not made to last forever? I know; I was surprised as well.

Fast forward a few years and unfortunately, the first holes appeared. One on each knee. But, these are my favorite pants – I had to do something.

So, each knee was adorned with a swatch of burgundy and cream fabric. Adding a little character, reflecting my creative side, making them special.

No longer useful for everyday wear, they made a great pair of gardening, special projects, and artsy endeavors pants.

During a day in the garden, hole number three appeared on the bottom, another patch applied. Then, I noticed the fabric was thinning on the thigh of each leg, holes four and five surfaced. Not just tiny gaps but fraying from seam to seam. More patches applied and now there was more burgundy and cream than the original khaki.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t give them up, so comfortable, eclectic, embellished in memories.

Then a painting project and with each knee bend or thigh raise, the fabric gave way, leaving holes six and seven. At this point, my husband started preparing my heart for what he thought was the inevitable, “Your pants are done, give them up!” Such. A. Sensitive. Man.

More fabric applied.

My favorite pair of pants no longer has visible weaknesses, legs and bottom reinforced. I want to believe they have a few more projects left in them.

I know you can relate each of us has that one favorite thing we just don’t want to give up. A well-loved T-shirt frayed around the edges, so thin skin peeks through. That special pair of shoes, soles peeling away from upper. Your first car. The trunk no longer closes completely but it runs, if only occasionally. The faded baseball cap, reminding you of when you stretched your arm just long enough to catch that stray ball. All memories – never let them go. There are treasures embedded in each.

We all need the familiar, the well-worn. Something that reminds us of who we are, the pasts we’ve overcome. A small thing that provides a little comfort for the unknown of the future. There’s no problem with holding on, just remember to do so loosely. Consider your past as you build the future and don’t forget to adorn each minute with bits of your heart, making them your own.  

 My favorite pair of pants is folded neatly in the closet. They are a reminder that another adventure is coming soon.

Photo by A. McCormick

Be Blessed,

Love Like He Loves

Photo by S. Johnson

There is this artsy side of my brain. I nourish it by creating – writing, sewing, drawing, painting, all outlets for the noise in my head.

There is something magical about putting pen to paper, thread to needle, adding paint to canvas, or charcoal to paper. An outward reflection of my inward thoughts and emotions.

There are no limits to what you can create – except those imposed by your own mind.

I think this passion for creating is a trait I share with my Heavenly Father. Since His creation of time, He has expressed His joy, sense of humor, love for beauty, and a keen sense of order, by calling into existence all we see, hear, and touch. He meld together color, bone, and sinew to create the beautiful variation we experience in humankind today, man and woman – He made them both. Each created in His image but unique, unequaled variations of His perfection.

So, it saddens me when I hear what is going on in the world, in this country, my community. We have become a divided people, fearful, unforgiving. Grace and mercy have left many of our vocabularies, our hearts. We assume the worst and are surprised by anything less.

Don’t misunderstand me, I know how we’ve landed here – years of injustice, decades of promises followed by failure and disappointment, ignorance, a legacy of sin, an air of superiority. In light of our history, it may seem natural to become angry and jaded.

But you have to understand, I try to see the world filtered through Jesus’ creative lens. A mindset that causes me to believe we are created equal; we are His image-bearers, brothers, and sisters. So, in my paradigm, there is no room for today’s hate.

 I am the product of an African-American and Chinese father and a White mother. I’ve lived as a tapestry of color. But this doesn’t mean I didn’t feel the impact of not being “White enough” or “Black enough.” I lived on the fringe of these cultures, experiencing exclusion – perhaps because I didn’t look like or reflect their cultural attitudes.

I just wonder what would happen to our world, our communities, and neighborhoods if we actively decided to see each other through Jesus’ eyes. If we began behaving like brothers and sisters, more alike than different, more family than hated foe.

In the book of John, we are commanded, not suggested or recommended, but commanded to love.

34So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:34-35 New Living Translation (NLT)

So what if as believers, we took the instruction found in the book of John seriously? What if we took the first step to demonstrate to the world the same kind of love we are offered by our Father – unconditional, unbiased, passionate love?

I encourage you to educate yourself about the history that has marred our past, seek to understand the differences and similarities of races, keep your heart open, soft, and humble. But commit dear Sisters, commit to LOVE like He loves. Just like you are profoundly loved by your Father.

Be Blessed His BeLOVED,


CeCe Winans celebrates the amazing diversity of our world in her song Colorful World, enjoy!

More Than Enough

Photo by D. Ellaby

Dads leave a legacy that influences us for a lifetime.

For some, the relationship moves us to see the world with optimism and hope. We courageously walk in the world and know that a safety net is always available, a refuge forever near.

While for others, the connection has taught us to be cautious. To live our lives right on the edge of anxiety and anticipation. Hopefulness has been exchanged for a deep yearning, an endless pursuit for acceptance. Our hopelessness causes us to search for more (more value, more self-worth, more…).

Parents (Dads) are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child…

Bob Keeshan

My Dad died several years ago but our relationship was a melding of the courageous with a healthy dose of hopelessness – never feeling like I was enough. A delicate balance that has left me strong but wondering…

The one thing I remember about him was his eyes. There was a gentleness about them but it was the sadness that caught your attention. Life was hard for an 8-year-old navigating life on his own.

And then there was his smile. It stretched wide across his face and at that moment, his eyes would shift from sad to sweet, mischievous, childlike. Such a paradox – a hard life moved to a glimpse of joy.  

To say that Dad was a complicated man was an understatement. He worked hard, was a man of few words, and a temper that could ignite at any minute. Yet, he always took the time to share what he knew – how to bait a fishing hook, the best ways to plant a garden, his secret recipe for tamales.

He taught me so much.

My tenacity to keep going, regardless of the circumstances, was birthed through him. I can put hammer to nail and come out with a finished product – his teaching. And my love of Chinese food – his influence.

I know he loved me, he told me so. But there were times that his temper caused a wedge. It made me vigilant, not wanting to ignite the flame.

I wished our relationship could have been different, deeper, more… I would have relished more conversations, details about our family, his life with Mom, and more direction for the decisions I made or perhaps didn’t make. A touch, a hug, a word of encouragement meant so much; just a little more would have filled me.

But I know he did his very best, I am forever grateful. I love you Dad…

Our dads make such an important, significant, everlasting impact on our lives. Regardless of whether they are loving, abusive, unavailable, or present, they influence us, and fortunately or unfortunately, we often pass on what we’ve learned to our current and future relationships. We carry their teaching throughout our lives.

Regardless of who our earthly dads may be, despite how they have shaped our minds, we have a heavenly Father that waits for us. He will never disappoint, never miss a need, He is MORE than enough.

BeLOVED, I encourage you,

Pick your Father carefully, thoughtfully, intentionally – He makes a difference.

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:18 New International Version (NIV)

Be Blessed,

Epidemic of Hate

Photo by N. Dumlaoue

The pandemic hit the U.S. in February and by mid-March, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, New York, and 4 other US territories had reported disease. We’ve had some 2 million cases and lost over 100,000 lives.

The virus hit the country as a silent assault, masked under the cover of just another flu. But we soon learned that it carried a deadly punch.

In a few short months, it changed how we experience the world, how we treat one another, and how we navigate our lives. Who would have thought this silent enemy was hiding in plain sight, waiting to disrupt and conquer.

And just as we were getting our arms around a pandemic – masked, hands sanitized, and socially distant – the winds swept in an epidemic. A virus of hate that has been incubating in this country for 100s of years. Each time it raises its ugly head, many fight the assault, pushing it back underground.

The illness contaminates those with narrow minds and hardened hearts. Unfortunately, it has infected the fabric of our nation, threatening the country’s foundation. The carriers spread the contagion through social media posts, community conflicts, and acts of violence towards those that look, speak, and believe differently.

But this disease also devastates the lives that fight to eradicate it. A history of brave souls that have fought diligently to wipe out the virus and its effects – Harriet Tubman, Dred Scott, Frederick Douglas, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy, and hundreds of others.

A persistent, sinister illness that takes vigilance, education, and determination to eradicate.

My husband and I are Black. We live in a small Oregon community where blacks make up less than 4% of the total population. If you’re not intentional, you will overlook us.

My husband is very active in the community. I don’t think there are many people he doesn’t know. And if doesn’t know them, it won’t be very long until he can tell you their life stories. He is one of those people that love to engage in the lives of others.

A few years ago, he was driving home – the same route he has taken 100s of times. He pulled through a major intersection, the light flashing yellow, the intersection clear. He headed up the hill making the right-turn to our home. When behind him red lights flashed in his rearview mirror. The officer had been following him for nearly a mile. My husband pulled over and lowered his window.

The officer sat in his vehicle for a few minutes and then approached the car. As he neared the window, he belted out the standard, “Driver’s license and registration.” After a glance at both, he asked, “So how long have you had this car?” No references to driving violations or vehicle maintenance issues, just a focus on the ownership of the car. My husband responded, “I’ve had it a few years.” The officer added, “You didn’t give me enough room at the yellow light.” My husband acknowledged his comment. The officer looked around the car, handed him back his license and registration, and walked casually back to his vehicle.

As the officer drove off, my husband sat a few minutes gathering his thoughts, what had just happened? Was this an innocent inquiry? A chance to educate? Was this a subtle, perhaps unconscious, judgmental action that reflects the insidious nature of the virus of racism?  

Unlike our need to rush to create a vaccine to battle COVID-19, we have an inoculate for this epidemic.

We each can play a role to combat this infection. When it comes to covert racism, injustice, ignorance, and hatred,

We Are the Vaccine!

Photo by E. Unuabona

We are the answer.

Gen 1:27 reminds us that,

…God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

New International Version (NIV)

The color of our skin, the languages we speak, our cultures, traditions, food preferences all speak to the amazing creativity of our father. Yet, we all carry His image; we all are created by Him. There are no differences, no superiority, only beautiful variation.

We can work to celebrate our differences, honoring the image of God in each person. We can encourage, educate, reflect God’s original plan for His children. We can allow Him to work through us, we are the antidote, and God is the healer.

Image bearers, brothers, sisters, family – in this paradigm there is no room for hate, no place for racism, no space for inferiority.

BeLOVED, please join me in praying for God’s original plan to be recognized in this country and around the world. It is only through Him that we will find our healing.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Be Blessed,

And Then They Were Gone…

All photos by A. McCormick

Last week I shared that we had an Uninvited Guest, a house finch with 5 blue eggs. We found them nestled in the curve of our front door wreath.

It’s been an interesting journey, keeping watch over the new family. I began feeling responsible for momma and babies, so I posted a sign blocking the path to our front door,

STOP – Birds Nesting in Front Door Wreath!! Leave packages here or call.

A bird feeder was placed in the center of the front yard, I didn’t want momma to have to travel too far for food, and our dog was kept clear of the front porch.

Neighbors walked by staring at the sign and then asked the obvious question, why are birds nesting at your front door? Unfortunately, I was asking the same question. And then a friend shared that she knew of a similar situation. A morning dove had taken occupancy on a neighbor’s front door wreath.

My curiosity got the better of me so, I started doing some digging on the internet and found it is a very common occurrence. Evidently, the doorway provides protection and a wreath offers the makings of a fine nesting place, a safe cozy home to raise a family.

Over the next few days, the babies went from beautiful blue eggs to fury fledglings.

If you look closely, you can see one unhatched egg.

And then as quickly as we found this family, they were gone. The nest was empty – mom, babies, eggshells all vanished. Leaving only twigs and leaves to remind us of their stay.

As I was dismantling the sign and removing the wreath from the door, I have to admit I was disappointed. I had missed mom and babies practicing leaving the nest and the final flight to their new home. I didn’t get a chance to hear the little ones chirping for food and thankfully they were gone so fast that there was no mess to clean up.

But my disappointment was soon turned to joy!

I spotted a new nest. Newly constructed in the tree just outside my home office window. This time a lesser fence and her babies.

I have promised myself not to get too attached, there will be no signs keeping people off the sidewalk but I will keep my hears attuned to the song of the babies and my eyes open for fledgling’s first flight.

I love all that God’s creation teaches us.

Momma finch knew exactly what she was doing and no sign or bird feeder was needed to help her do what innately she knew had to be done. She instinctively built her nest, in a safe protected place, keeping watch over it night and day. And when the time came, she quietly taught her little brood to fly. All skills given to her by her Creator.

God used this little family to remind me that I am not in control. Not of the birds that visit our home, the circumstances that occur in my life, or the pain and challenges that happen in the lives of our family members and friends. Sometimes, I just need to get out of the way and let God do what He does best – orchestrate the details. I can rest in knowing that His timing is perfect, His awareness complete, and His love limitless.

Just as we are reminded in Matthew 6:25-28,

25 “I tell you this: Do not worry about your life. Do not worry about what you are going to eat and drink. Do not worry about what you are going to wear. Is not life more important than food? Is not the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They do not plant seeds. They do not gather grain. They do not put grain into a building to keep. Yet your Father in heaven feeds them! Are you not more important than the birds? 27 Which of you can make himself a little taller by worrying? 28 Why should you worry about clothes? Think how the flowers grow. They do not work or make cloth.

New Life Version (NLV)

Be encouraged, BeLOVED, God is aware of exactly what you need and be on the lookout for His loving choreography of all your days.

Be Blessed,

Uninvited Guest

All photos by A. McCormick

Front doors tell a lot about the people that live behind them. Some are adorned with beautiful words that invite us to share life with the occupants – “In this house…We love unconditionally.” Others wear wreaths, changed as the seasons dictate. Some doors remain bare, leaving us to wonder what’s contained within.

The wreath on our door is meant to invite people to come in and rest. It tells our guests you are welcomed here, we care about you, you are home.

This month we had an unexpected guest. She knocked gently on our door, so softly we never heard the sound. Yet she was drawn by our front door wreath. She knew she had found a home.

By the time we recognized our visitor had arrived, she had moved all her belongings to the door. Making it very difficult to navigate from the front porch to the house. In addition to her personal belongings, she brought her 5 little ones, all decked out in light blue. Each one looked just like the next, making it a little difficult to recognize who was who.   

I called my husband, come meet the family, and has he rounded the corner of our garage, she unexpectantly swooped in. She wanted to thank him for the home we provided for her and her flock.

Our porch was suddenly full, my husband and I, momma and 5 babies, and how can I forget our dog.

My husband gathered his composer, repositioned the furniture to accommodate the new family, and smiled my direction. We made certain everyone knew where the food was kept and pointed out the blue bath. And as the family settled into their new space, my husband and I discussed a few changes we would need to make to assure our guests were comfortable and felt safe. We will keep the dog away, and be careful not to use the front door – too much noise for the babies.

We don’t know how long this beautiful family will be with us but we are so excited that they picked our house, our front door. We will watch over them until they are ready to leave and then we will miss them – perhaps they will visit to let us know how they are doing.

So many changes to accommodate this brood. But what joy they have brought. Each day we check-in to see how everyone is doing and encourage momma, it’s a tough job to have 5 little ones under your wing.

Just when you think life has settled down, a nice routine hum to your day, God gives you a little drama to challenge you. Six new lives under our roof, His gift to show us the beauty that surrounds our lives.

Even during times ravaged by a pandemic or set ablaze by anger and frustration, He still finds ways to reassure us. He whispers, “You are not doing this alone. I’ve got you.”  

For us, he sent a family. Just the reminder we needed. They took up residence in our wreath, a fitting home for a house fence and her 5 eggs. Nestled in the curve of our front door wreath, a gentle reminder that life goes on. God’s creation goes on, unimpressed by the drama of the moment.  

Momma was not available for this picture, but her 5 babies are doing great. All resting safely in a nest in the curve of our front door wreath.

I will never doubt that God isn’t aware of our circumstances or that He doesn’t care about His creation. He gives us opportunity after opportunity to see Him in the simplicity of our days if we keep our heart and eyes open.

Look at the birds. They do not plant seeds. They do not gather grain. They have no grain buildings for keeping grain. Yet God feeds them. Are you not worth more than the birds?

Luke 12:24 New Life Version (NLV)

Be Blessed His BeLOVED and never forget, you are loved, cherished by your Father!

In the Silence

By Janet Gesme

Janet playing her cello with her daughter, Zeta, four years into recovery.
Photo by B. Lanphear

I think it is a familiar story for a lot of us: one day everything is okay—you have your health, family, friends, career . . . and then something happens and you watch it all slip away.

For me that “something” was a car crash. The physical injuries consisted of some pretty gnarly whiplash, a frozen left shoulder blade, and the right side of my pelvis was rotated down and out, resulting in a separated pelvic symphysis, damage to the SI joint and other ligaments that tend to hold a person together.

Sitting was excruciating, and walking became more and more difficult. For a good nine months I was deteriorating instead of getting better. I had played the viola professionally for twenty-nine years prior to the accident. My injuries forced me to release this key part of my identity.

Would my husband, the conductor of the symphony, still love me? I was not sure. I had become useless to him: musically, physically, I was a constant drain. How long could he stay with a woman who had turned into what seemed like a 95-year-old overnight?

I am grateful and amazed at the patience and love that my husband showed me throughout the years of slow, painful recovery. But he is not the only one . . .

Letting go of what you love is never easy. After giving my viola to a friend, after releasing what had been my self-worth, my talent, my place in this world, I kept seeing the same scene over and over:

I was standing in front of a closed door, staring with all my might. On the other side was my viola. I wanted so badly to have what was on the other side of that door! But gentle hands would take hold of my shoulders, turn me around, and a voice spoke into my heart, “Look! Look at this beautiful world, so full of wonder! Don’t waste your time staring at a closed door. Go seek out the blessings that have been prepared for you.”

Danney Gokey’s song, “Tell your heart to beat again,” spoke volumes to me with the simple text, “Yesterday’s a closing door, you don’t live there anymore. Say goodbye to where you’ve been and tell your heart to beat again.”

So limping along in my pelvis brace, unable to feel my right foot or turn my head, I searched for these blessings. I told my heart to beat through the tears. Most of my time, however, was spent in bed reading, which in turn opened up opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. But it would take years before those blessings were revealed.

The book that changed everything was Martin Schleske’s, “Der Klang,” (German for “The Sound”). I read about the trees that Martin, a master violin maker, uses to build overwhelmingly gorgeous, sweet-sounding instruments. This wood, these trees, live and grow in the harshest of conditions: barely enough soil, water, and light—their growth is painstakingly slow. But it is this slow growth that makes them beautiful. “The Sound” is found here, in these harsh conditions, in slow, silent growth.

Martin’s hands
Copyright 2019, J. Laszlo

After my accident, there was nothing I wanted more than to get better quickly. However, through these trees, God kept repeating: “I’m doing something. Slow. Slow. Easy does it.”

And so here we are, more than five years later. The miracle for me was that I got to translate Martin Schleske’s book! Definitely worth all of the pain and heartbreak.

People often ask me if I have recovered from the accident. Yes, I have! But my history is written deeply in my body: I will never be without pain. And yet I am stronger than I ever could have imagined possible. God can and will pull us through anything that comes our way.

Janet before the accident with her viola


Questions for reflection:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

1. “In quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:16. This was a hard lesson for me to learn! It is worth repeating: “In quietness and trust is your strength.” Have you gained strength through quiet times, through trust?

2. Even when I was not able to walk, I found myself running away from the peace being offered to me. “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee.” Isaiah 30:15-16

Have you ever rejected the rest that is offered to you and found yourself in a cycle of running away? How can we break this cycle?

3. “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up and show you compassion.” Isaiah 30:18

Let this compassion sink in. There is healing beyond measure for your soul. Breathe it in. Step into the light of grace. Find rest and strength in this Love.

What a Garden Taught Me About Fear

Spiske

There is something so inviting about the feel of warm earth between your fingers. It tugs at our agrarian roots, reassuring us that the cycle of life continues – seed, seedling, plant, produce, seed.

 In Central Oregon, late May to early June are safe times to consider planting a garden. But, many veteran gardeners enter heated debates as to whether one should wait until the snow is off the peaks of the Black Butte Mountain. Something about the magic of that mountain gives protection for the gardens resting in its shadow.

This year, I felt brave, put spade to dirt, and against all reasonable advice planted – tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, squash… A banquet of vegetables and herbs.

I meticulously covered each raised bed and pot with warming cloth, confident that I had taken every precaution to assure gardening success, until…

The nightly news revealed a storm lingering off the coast, warm air meeting cold resulting in potential thunderstorms. Now the thing you may not know about Central Oregon is that thunderstorms are often accompanied by significant hailstorms. And when I say hail, I don’t mean a few little hailstones falling to the ground. I mean there is so much hail that it looks like it snowed. The ground is covered, the deck is covered, and yes – your raised bed garden is covered. But not just covered, it is destroyed! Pitted leaves, broken branches, young shoots shred. For a gardener, it is devastating – your heart sinks with the forecast.

Luckily, the storm was forecast for the following afternoon giving me enough time to insulate the garden against its formable enemy. I called a friend to borrow drop cloths, plastic sheets, or vinyl tablecloths- anything that could act as a barrier against the potential insult of frozen stones.

And then it happened, my mind raced to that place of looming disaster. The place where fear taps you on the shoulder and claims defeat. Instantly I was taken back to the last time a hailstorm destroyed my garden. I was 7-days post emergency surgery. It was a time of vulnerability, a place of weakness. And now I was reliving the situation, fear was winning.  

My mood shifted from peaceful joy to panic. What if the storm wipes out the garden? Why did I plant so early? How could I let this happen again?

That evening I planned and strategized how to protect my crops, how to defend against the looming storm.

The next morning brought with it a beautiful sunrise and a sweet revelation – what if the thing I was the most fearful of never happened? What if the storm passed, no hailstones – just a gentle rain that nourished the ground?

I took a deep breath, released the tension in my shoulders, and chuckled. The revelation brought an indescribable calm and then a somber thought. Even if the storm strikes, the garden is pelted, the loved one dies, the healing never comes, the career, reputation, possessions are all wiped away – God remains God.

He’s still in control.

He continues to love me.

My relationship with Him never changes.

Satan will lie to you, hoping you believe the story he has contrived from the memories of your past. The story is filled with half-truths, distortions of reality, and just enough facts to keep you engaged. But his goal is to keep you fearful, fretting that something may happen, anticipating the unknown. And as long as he can keep you focused on him, you lose sight of your Father.

Isaiah 43:1-3(a) tells us,

1But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…

New International Version (NIV)

A soft rain fell on and off throughout the day, the sun played hide-and-seek, and then grey clouds gave way to a beautiful blue sky. The storm adverted for today. My fear never recognized.

I don’t know what you are facing. But I am confident that God stands with you. Fear does not have to cripple you, it has no power over you. In fact, most of our fears will never be recognized. But when we do have to face them, remember we never face them alone.

God promises to:

Still the waters.

Extinguish the fire.

Never leave, forsake, or abandon you.

You can trust Him.

Be Blessed His BeLOVED,

God Never Promised Easy

Photo by Unknown

Margie has been a part of our family since I was a child. She was my mother’s best friend and the grandmother I never had.

She was a big woman with a round face encircled with tight gray curls. She was most frequently seen in public with a wig pulled neatly on her head, short brown hair going in every direction. Yet in the comfort of her home, her wig would be quickly pulled off and tossed on the kitchen table.

I think Margie was my mom’s only friend, the one she would call sister. She was a confidant, the person my mother could rely on when everything around her was falling apart.

When my father lost himself over another love, Margie helped to bring justice – an icepick does wonders to car tires and the angry wrath of a dishonored wife. When it was time to celebrate birthdays, Margie helped to plan surprises, wrestling oversized birthday cakes in the back of her small car. And when my dad found his senses, Margie was the first to encourage mom to forgive.

Margie was a stable force in my family.

Reflections of her through the eyes of my childhood mind always bring memories of her hands. I know it is a strange focal point but you have to understand, her hands represented so much to me…

They were large and powerful from years of manual work, wrinkled and weathered from time spent in the sun. They told her story, each line, freckle, and crack.

She would envelop you when she gave you a hug but those hands…

They provided direction, one placed on each shoulder, making certain you were not losing track – carried off your path. Their strength helped to reassure you when you were off balance. They were weighty and a constant reminder that she was available, ready to support, a fixture in your life.

Margie raised her children alone, worked hard to provide for her family and her children’s families. She scratched, saved, and sacrificed to make ends meet, and yet each day she woke early, faithfully, determined to make the most of each minute.

Her life was not easy. Yet, she had an inner joy. A peace that was consistently visible, even during sickness, recurrent delays, and frequent hardships.

As a young woman, I spent time with Margie. We would sit on her front porch, drinking tea from her favorite plastic glasses, and she would teach. Not the type of stuff you learn from the halls of academia but the curriculum that life experience brings, suffering brings, the lessons that you can only know when you’ve been pushed beyond yourself.  

One afternoon while she was shelling peas, recently picked form her garden, I asked Margie, how do you do it? How do you get up every day, face the struggles you do, and still have a smile?

She looked up from the bowl nestled between her legs, peaked from under her sunhat, and said,

God never promised easy!

He told me He would be with me, through it all, and that’s all I need.

Sisters, life can be so hard at times. Whether from personal crises, poor choices, or natural catastrophes.

It is hard being human.

But we have to be honest, God never promised easy. He never promised our dreams or desires were going to materialize. He never guaranteed wealth, status, or professional success. He promised us that he would be with us through our lives, despite personal disappointments, in the face of our struggles. And, He assured us that he would never leave us, never forsake us. 

John 16:33 tells us,

I have told you these things so you may have peace in Me. In the world you will have much trouble. But take hope! I have power over the world!…

New International Version (NIV)

And Matthew 28:20 adds,

… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

(NIV)

Margie trusted that God’s power would prevail in her circumstances. Her faith was demonstrated in her attitude, the way she walked through the world.

But how about you and me? Do we believe that God will provide? Do we trust that His power is sufficient for our challenges, that He loves us enough to come through, that His plans are the best?

I encourage you to take time this week to search your heart and determine what you believe about your Father. Challenge yourself to face what you are placing your trust in and wrestle with what you’re allowing to direct your life. You may be surprised at what you discover.

BeLOVED, God never promised easy but please don’t forget,

You are loved,

You are His daughter,

You are His BeLOVED!

Be Blessed,

Value…

Photo by T. Colomb

As women, we deal with an ongoing dialogue in our minds, a struggle of the heart. Our conversations may use different words but they all cause us to question our sense of worth, our positions in the world, our value.

Take a few minutes to watch this video by Jeremy Anderson and when you’re done come back and join me here.

Jeremy uses a dollar bill to drive home his point about true value.

No matter what we do to the dollar – crumple it into a ball, stomp on it, or rip it in two, it never loses its innate value. It will always be a dollar.

He goes on to shares that life can throw some hard blows; our circumstances can take a real toll. But regardless of what we face, what we have experienced – we remain, YOU remain valuable.

Powerful words!

YOU.

HAVE.

VALUE.

At the end of the clip, Jeremy shares a few steps we can take to recognize our merit,

Pick yourself up… dust yourself off… and keep on moving.

These are all encouraging statements. Yet, I can’t help but feel that he may have left out something important.

Jeremy fails to share how we are to accomplish these tasks. How do we recognize our significance by picking, dusting, and moving?

I want to suggest that it isn’t enough to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move especially if we continue to face the same old direction or continue to look for meaning in our careers, possessions, or status. Merely hoping our broken thinking or Satan’s lies will no longer influence us is not an effective plan. We have to change the scale by which we measure ourselves.

When it comes to a dollar bill, it has worth because, at some point in history, our founding fathers said a dollar is worth a dollar. It is more than just ink and paper, it can be spent.

In the same way, we have value, not because of our form and features, our possessions, or our cleverness. We have value because our Father has deemed us valuable.

 In Genesis 1:27, we are reminded,

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. His creation, in His likeness, His image. And that truth is unchanging.

New International Translation (NIT)

We are created in God’s image, an unchanging truth. And because we bear His image, our identity, our purpose, and futures are orchestrated by God’s great hand. We can rest in this truth regardless of our pasts, faulty thinking, or Satan’s lies.

So the next time you are tempted to doubt your value. When the challenges of life attack your very core, please remember…

You bear the image of your Farther and in Him you are valuable. It is an inherited trait, a gift from God.

Be Blessed,

2 Corinthians 5:17