We Don’t Know What to Do

blogThis has been on my mind the past couple weeks.

2 Chronicles 20:10, 12
10 If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’

12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (2 Chronicles 20:10, 12)

For the past couple weeks I’ve had this scripture in my head. We’re faced with something that has completely turned this world as we know it upside down. We can’t find what we need at the store. Some of us can’t go to work. Schools are closed. Churches are closed. We’re told to stay homel and social distance.

And we don’t know what to do.

Keep your eyes on God. Jehoshaphat and his people were facing a different kind of danger in this passage of 2 Chronicles, but their response should be our response. They humbled themselves, they fasted and prayed, they admitted their need for God, and then they waited on God to see what He would do.

And what God did was amazing! It’s one of my favorite stories in the Bible. God told the people to stand still and that they would not have to fight because the battle was His and not theirs. All the people had to do was praise and worship God and as they did, the enemy was destroyed. Not just destroyed, but confused so badly that the enemy attacked itself. What came to destroy Jehoshaphat and his friends, God turned around and used it to destroy itself.

Praise precedes the victory. No matter what it is that we are facing, no matter how bad the situation looks, keep praising God. He’s still God. He’s still almighty. He’s still sovereign. He’s still worthy of praise.

So in this time of uncertainty, turn off the news. Keep washing your hands and taking precautions. Stay at home, but turn off the TV and open your mouth in praise to a God who will fight for you. God, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You!


Faith, Uncategorized

I Used To

I’m sitting here in my favorite chair. It’s dark. Everyone is asleep. Except for the humming of my heated back massager, the house is quiet. I can’t really be this old.

But I am this old. It’s not old as in “at the end of life” old. Or “silver-haired” old. More like “mid-life” old. Not quite “over-the-hill” old, but “I can see the summit from here” old. That’s where I am. At least I don’t have any gray hair yet.

As I sit here in my favorite chair, sipping my Coke Zero, and listening to the hum, I am thinking about something that stuck out to me in Bible study tonight: Seasons. It wasn’t the point of tonight’s lesson, but it’s what I took home. At one point in the lesson, the conversation went to the fact that we are all gifted in some way. God has given us special talents and gifts to use in ministry and for His glory. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do the works He had planned for us from the beginning. God created us to do certain things. All of us have different gifts, of course, but we’re to use them collectively to advance the Kingdom. Makes sense.

What struck me, however, was when the teacher of the class started asking us what we thought our gifts were. She asked the oldest one in the room first…a mighty woman of God who has lived for Him all her life. Her answer was, “Well, I used to teach, but I can’t do that anymore.” Next up was another senior citizen. Her response, “I used to bake bread, but I don’t do that anymore.” Next was another older lady who said, “I used to sing, but I don’t do that anymore.” All of these women are prayer warriors and encouragers and helpers now. Just because they can’t do what they used to do doesn’t mean they no longer do anything. It’s those three little words that hit me, though. “I used to.” Why? Because I can say those words, too. “I used to teach.” “I used to be a youth leader.” And you can say those three words, too. “I used to take care of the nursery.” “I used to clean the church.” “I used to _____________.” You fill in the blank. We all have things we used to do.

Is it wrong that we don’t do them anymore? Not necessarily, and that is what I am thinking about tonight. Life is made up of seasons. And God sometimes only calls us to a certain thing for a season. It’s not a bad thing when the season ends. It’s sometimes a hard thing when the season ends, but it’s not bad. It just means that He has other plans for you and needs to move you somewhere else.

And so I was curious and went online to do a spiritual gifts test. I hadn’t taken one in a few years, and I wanted to know if my giftings had changed. They have changed dramatically. When I was in the youth pastor season, my giftings were leadership, administration, teaching. Those gifts fall somewhere in the middle now and have been replaced by faith. Faith was one of the lowest scores I had the last time I took the test. That was before cancer. I definitely needed faith to get through that.

My point is, God equips us for the season we are in. Embrace it. God created you to be exactly where you are right now and He wants you to walk in the gifts He’s given you.


Eyes Wide Open

I ran into an old friend at Wal-Mart today. I was there to get hamburger buns for the guys and some healthy stuff for me. As I was placing the things from my cart onto the belt, I heard someone say my name. So much for sneaking in and sneaking out of the store unnoticed. Side note, I am not that unsociable, but when you are a teacher who works and shops in the same town, someimtes going to Wal-Mart is a little like a rock star trying to leave a concert. Anyway, I turned to look and I saw a dear friend I had not seen in a couple of years. She keeps up with me on facebook so she knew all about my cancer journey and was supportive while I was in the middle of it. Today she told me that she was diagnosed with melanoma and that she had all of her lymph nodes removed. I felt sick to my stomach to hear her tell me the story. I hate cancer. I hate what it does to people. I hate the fear that it causes and the lives that it steals.

On the way home, I heard a man on the radio talking about being grateful and not taking things for granted. He said, “What we feel entitiled to, we do not feel grateful for.” It’s true. If we feel like life owes us a break, do we stop and say thank you when the break comes? If we feel like God owes us food or provision, do we stop and thank Him for the provision? Not hardly. We pray things like, “God, You said that You would supply all my needs and this is a need.” And then expect Him to do it. That’s not a bad thing. His Word does say that and what He says He will do, He does. And we are to expect in faith. Those are not bad things. But when He does supply that need, do we stop and thank Him for it? Better yet, do we thank Him for it before He supplies? Now that would be faith, wouldn’t it?

One thing I learned from cancer is that I am not entitled to anything. I am not even guaranteed my next breath. I learned not to take people and things as small as red blood cells for granted. The big and the little things in life, literally. I am not entitled to any of them, and I am grateful for all of them. Of course there were days when it was hard to find something to be thankful for. Those days when I couldn’t get out of bed, or the days in isolation in the hospital were dark and lonely. I still have days that are tough. But if I look long enough, I always find something.

Look around with eyes wide open for the blessieyes ngs. They are more in number than you think.


Faith, Health, Uncategorized

Fit and Lean in 2017!

Fit and Lean in 2017!

That’s what a friend has deemed her mantra for the new year. As I thought about it, I discovered that it could cover all aspects of life. So I stole it (sorry B!).

Of course, I don’t have to go into great detail about how “fit and lean in 2017” can apply to the physical body. It might look different for you than it does for me, but it means to get healthy. Period. Maybe you’ll eat clean, maybe you’ll low-carb. Maybe you’ll join Weight Watchers. Maybe you’ll join a gym, or the Y, or sign up for C25K. What’s important is that you find something that fits you. Make sure it’s something you enjoy and can continue. Otherwise, you’ll be done by February.

You can also be emotionally fit and lean in 2017! What I mean by that is, stop over-thinking. Quit holding people liable for what you think they meant instead of what they actually said or did. Cut out the drama from your life. Cut out the negativity from your life. Purge the toxic thoughts and relationships. And for goodness sakes, get off of the emotional roller coaster. Life is too short. If you don’t like it, change it. If you can’t change it, use it to strengthen you. Don’t tell me that’s too hard to do. I just beat cancer. I didn’t like it and I couldn’t change it, but I used the experience to become stronger.

“Fit and Lean in 2017”…fiscally. This is a hard one for me, because I want what I want when I want it, and I want it now…but it’s an area I am ready to tackle in the new year. Get out of debt, cut back on spending (wasting) your hard-earned money on things that you don’t need to impress people you don’t like. Start a savings account. Even if you only save $10 a week, that’s still $520 at the end of the year. Virtually everyone can find $10 a week in their budget. Cut out your expensive morning coffee and make your own at home. Eat out less and cook at home more. You can do this! For some extra motivation, go find Rachel Cruze’s book “Love Your Life, Not Theirs”.

How about materialistically fit and lean in 2017? I’m not saying go be a minimalist. If that’s what you want, that’s great, but there’s no need to go to extremes. Go through your closets and garages and sell what you haven’t used or seen in the last year. Go ahead. I dare you. If you haven’t seen it in that long, you don’t need it and quite frankly, you probably forgot you had it anyway. Do you really want someone else to have to go through all of your stuff when you die? Keep nothing in your home that you don’t view as purposeful or beautiful. Not what I think, but what YOU think. It’s your home! Make it yours!

Be spiritually fit and lean in 2017. Whoa. What am I talking about? Stop going to church so much? Stop praying so much? Absolutely not. Those are necessary things if you want to be spiritually fit. What I mean is stop trying to live up to all of those man-made rules and the “do not’s” that we have placed on ourselves. Get back to the basics of your faith. Find a church home and attend regularly. Find a Bible reading plan you can stick to. Spend some time in prayer each day. Help the helpless. Feed the hungry. Give to the poor. Do all of those things! Live out your faith! But stop being so hard on yourself (and others) when they don’t live up to your expectations of what a Christian should look like, or act like, or talk like. Love God. Love People. Make Disciples. Basics.

Here’s to being Fit and Lean in 2017!


Faith, Uncategorized


Mark 6:30-31—The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

If at any time you have ever felt guilty for taking time off, read that scripture again. Slowly. Jesus told them to “come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” The apostles had been busy doing and teaching. They had been ministering and doing what God had called them to do. They were exhausted. Yet, they weren’t saying “We need a vacation.” Jesus was telling them they needed one.

But look again, it said that the apostles had been so busy that they hadn’t had time to eat. They were hungry! And instead of Jesus saying, “Let’s go eat.” He said, “Come away with me by yourselves to find quiet and rest.” I highly doubt they were hitting McDonald’s on the way there. Jesus could have fed them. Later in this same chapter, He feeds 5000. Feeding 12 would have been a piece of cake. So why didn’t Jesus say, “Let’s get something to eat”? I don’t know, but I think it was because He knew their greatest need was rest and time in His presence. They needed refueled spiritually before they could refuel physically. He knew the importance of resting and refreshing to remain effective in ministry. And in life.

That scripture spoke to me this morning as I was taking time to read my Bible on this day after Thanksgiving. I’m on Thanksgiving break and just as I was feeling guilty about doing absolutely nothing, I read that passage.

When I had cancer, I did nothing but rest. I had no other choice. I would get frustrated that I wasn’t doing anything, and there was literally nothing I could do about it. The chemo made me so sick that I could barely hold my head up. Walking across the room made me so short of breath that I felt like I would collapse.

Once I finished treatment and regained some strength, I couldn’t wait to get back to work and doing all the things that I hadn’t been able to do. At the end of June, I hit the ground running and hadn’t stopped to take a breath since then. I was working. I was doing youth ministry. And worship ministry. And trying to keep up with everything at home. I didn’t take time to rest, and I felt like I was running on empty.

I couldn’t wait for Thanksgiving break when I could breathe. Because my life was out of balance. In all of my doing, I forgot the importance of rest.

I’m not the only one. And neither are you. The apostles also forgot to stop and rest in the quiet that is Jesus. In His presence, I trade chaos for calm. In His presence, I trade noise for peace. I trade exhaustion for renewal; depletion for restoration; hunger for satisfaction. In Him I trade busyness for rest.








It Is Well

I’ve done a lot of reflecting the past couple of weeks. I don’t know why, exactly, that it is happening now. Maybe it’s the new medication. Maybe it’s a survivor thing. It could be a combination of both, I’m not really sure.

What I do know is that when I look back over this past year, it’s hard to believe that it happened. Some days it feels like a really bad dream that went on and on forever. I know it wasn’t a dream because the scars are there and I still have this foreign object known as a port protruding from my chest. But it doesn’t seem real when I look back. Or maybe it’s real, but it doesn’t seem like it was me. Like one of those dreams when you feel like you are hovering overhead, watching yourself. Maybe that’s what it feels like. Like I watched it happen to someone else.

But I know that it happened to me because I can see the effects. Cancer changes you. The treatment does things to your body, of course, but the cancer experience changes your whole being. I read a quote today that said, “Sometimes God allows you to face Goliaths in your life so you can find the David within.” Everything happens for a reason, and sometimes that reason is to make you stronger. Or show you that you are strong when you thought that you weren’t. I read a book in the midst of my journey called, “Stronger” by Clayton King. I recommend it.

Before cancer, I was a wimp. The least little thing went wrong and I was whining, sometimes to God, sometimes to a friend, but I was whining nonetheless. I thought tiny inconveniences were the end of the world as we knew it. After cancer, I’ve learned to stand and say, “It is well.” Storms and hard times and inconveniences are going to come into our lives, but we can trust God through the storm. Sometimes He calms the storm, but sometimes He calms His child in the midst of the storm. He didn’t calm my storm. I went through the whole process and it was hard. There were nights I thought I was going to die and there were a few when I wanted to. I prayed for healing every day, but trusted that if healing didn’t come, God was still in charge and He had a bigger plan.

I think that’s the hardest part about storms. Trusting God no matter what. We have no problem trusting Him for healing or deliverance out of the storm. That’s what we want to happen. We want the easy way out. Trusting God through it is another matter, but I can promise you from experience that the same God who heals and delivers is the same God who holds us for the duration. To quote a Casting Crowns song that got me through some difficult days, “When you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away, you’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held. Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place. I’m on the throne, stop holding on, and just be held.”

I can’t tell you why we go through things. I know that God has a plan, but sometimes it’s hard to see what that plan is. What I can tell you is that it is well. It might not feel like it right now, but it is well. It might not sound like it right now, but it is well. It might not look like it right now, but It. Is. Well.


Mere Words

There are no mere words. In a world where words are so readily available, in print, online, streaming over a podcast, or blaring out of the TV or radio, there are no mere words.

If you’re like me, you have had more than enough of the words coming from election campaigns, yet they are still spewing forth. The candidates use words to attack and tear each other down. They use words to try to sway people to their side of the issue. Words are a strategy to gain votes. We know, of course, that most of them are lies and used solely to take the focus off of oneself and place it on the opponent.

Those are obviously negative words. But not all words are bad. People use them to communicate love and compassion. Words are used to teach, to advise, and to direct. They are used to praise, encourage, and comfort. They convey appreciation.

Words have meaning. They have a purpose. Good or bad. There are no mere words. They build up or tear down. Encourage or discourage. Comfort or cause distress. Heal or hurt. Bless or curse.

“Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)

“Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (James 3:9-10)

Words are powerful. By them, God created the whole universe and everything in it. He spoke them into being. Likewise, our words have the power to speak things into being. I see this every day as a preschool teacher. I can say, “Don’t run” to a child and he continues to run. I can say, “You can use your safe feet in the classroom” and the child slows to a walk (usually). I am speaking that into existence. How many times have you heard someone say “ice cream” and not long after that you are craving it? Words have the power of suggestion. You can wake up in the morning and complain about being tired and all of the things that you have to do that day, and chances are, you’ll have a long day full of work. Or you can wake up in the morning and choose to say something positive and your day goes better. It’s the same day, but your attitude is different because you chose to speak the positive instead of the negative.

I lived this while I was going through chemo. There were so many days that I did not even have the strength to get out of bed. There were nights when I felt like I would not make it through. But I refused to complain. Why? Because I had the choice. Every day I had the choice to complain about the situation, and I would have been justified in that, but what good would it have done? It would have made me feel even worse. I chose instead to be positive. Our words follow our thoughts and our actions follow our words.

My challenge to you is, for the next few days, be mindful of the words that are coming out of your mouth. Evaluate them. Are they speaking life or bringing death? Are they building up or tearing down? Are they blessing or cursing? There is no in between. Words are not idle. Once they are released into the atmosphere, they are moving to accomplish their purpose. There are no mere words.