Monday, April 8, 2024

The Book's Burial

It was not lost on me that I was laying to rest my old Bible, the written Word of God, on Good Friday, the same day the Living Word of God was killed and placed in an empty tomb.

Oh, how I hated to part with it! A new edition of the Living Translation Bible, simply called The Book, it presented the truths of the scriptures in easier-to-read language than the King James Version I’d been struggling with earlier. Suddenly my study times became an exciting adventure as I could better understand the stories in the Old Testament and the instructions on how to live today in the New. I simply devoured it.

And it showed. The cover was now battered and torn, the binding broken so that the pages fell out in sections and individually, the treasures highlighted and underlined on them likely to be scattered and lost if not for the elastic band I kept around the volume to hold it all together.

The Book held my life together in those early days of growing spiritually, when my daylight hours were filled with meeting the needs of my growing family until I fell into my bed exhausted at night. It helped me see how the truths of the past could help me in my life today, and it’s only because it presented the words I needed to hear in such a readable format that I bothered to pick it up at all. But I did, and it fed me, bite after bite, until eventually my morning meeting with God in those pages became the most important meal of the day. I was simply so hungry for what God had to say.

I’ve had several Bibles come into my life since then, different translations of the original text and different formats in printing, some with commentaries or small devotions included in appropriate spots in the text, one even with pertinent pictures to color as you read along and special space in the margins to make your own notes. Each has had a special place in my spiritual growth and thus in my heart. Every January I pick a different one to study from in the coming days of that year.

That’s how I came to hold The Book in my hands again this past New Year’s Day. Except that I soon found I couldn’t keep it in my hands this year – the broken binding had the pages spilling everywhere and the effort of holding it together rendered its purpose of holding my life together less effective. I finally realized that the words on those pages had long since been written in my heart and would be kept safe there by the Spirit of God, never to depart. I could let The Book go.

The same day I came to that decision I ordered myself a new Bible to take its place. The Book itself is no longer in print, so I chose a translation new to me, to add to my collection and read through the rest of the year. It arrived a few days ago, but I haven’t opened the box yet. I’m saving that moment for tomorrow’s Easter morning, when I hope to see Jesus come alive in new and unexpected ways, even as His resurrection from the grave brought new life and hope and joy to all mankind. I pray that as I flip through those pages I’ll hear the Spirit within me likewise say, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

Amen and amen.

“So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, ‘The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!’” 

(Luke 24:34 NKJV)


Monday, March 25, 2024

A Splintered Mind


(Billy Pasco/Unsplash)
I’ve never been glad to get a splinter before.

Not that it was the most pleasant experience this time, either. Yesterday I was taking the dogs out to the back yard to do their business when I stopped to kick off a piece of excrement that had been left in the middle of one of the wooden steps by a hound in a hurry sometime earlier. As I raised my leg to kick, I reached for the rail to steady myself and caught my hand on a rough spot in the wood, leaving me with a small cut and a splinter just under the skin.

It was no big deal; once back inside the house I poked around the wound a bit with a needle, dislodging the splinter in short order. And that was the end of it, or so I thought…until today when I reached to grab something and felt some soreness in the middle of my left palm. It was then that I remembered the episode from the day before and shrugged it off, knowing the miniscule cut would be healed up in no time. But today, repeatedly, I’ve been reminded, even ever so gently, of the little hole in my hand.

And I’ve smiled, grateful for the tiny reminder of what this week is all about.

You see, I blew past Palm Sunday yesterday. I was shocked when I opened my Lenten devotional this morning and saw a special Sunday entry that I’d missed the day before. On all the other Sundays in this season there had been no reading available, the author suggesting we use the day to rest and recharge as God intended. But yesterday was Palm Sunday, a big part of the Holy Week narrative, the day when Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, and the crowds welcomed and worshiped Hm by spreading their clocks on the ground before Him and waving palm branches in greeting, before later calling for His crucifixion.

I suddenly remembered the years upon years of palm fronds being handed out as one entered the sanctuary before the service on the Sunday before Easter, first in my own childhood, and then as we eventually brought our own children to church, as well. At one church we attended, an Easter Egg Hunt always followed the Palm Sunday service, adding weight to an already heady day. Even after my kids grew up and the churches we attended grew out of the practice of passing out palm fronds, the significance of the day was at least mentioned in the message from the pulpit.

I was surprised to realize that yesterday it was not.

I don’t blame the speaker; our congregation is currently deep into the study of the book of Genesis, and his mind was full of the subject matter assigned to him by the pastor he was filling in for that day. Nor do I blame the worship leader, who surely believes that every Sunday we should worship as if Jesus was arriving in our midst, and welcome Him with our praise.

No, the blame for forgetting the day lies solely with me, and the fact that my mind was focused on other events on my calendar this week. I was remembering the multitude of appointments scheduled in the days ahead for both me and my dog. I was looking forward with anticipation to an exciting end to a PGA golf championship that afternoon, the leaderboard packed at the top with viable contenders; I wondered what I would knit while watching. I wanted to monitor my bracket for the ongoing March Madness basketball contest …all the while I was busy researching the viewing times on the streaming service that would show an important ice skating event. My mind was everywhere but on Easter. How sorely I needed the little sore on my palm to remind me of what is important this week!

Surely by Easter Sunday morning the little cut will be healed and forgotten, but it’s interesting that Jesus’ hand wounds were not… they remained after His resurrection, evidenced by His invitation to Thomas to examine them for himself. And I want that picture to remain with me… so that each time I reach up and receive gifts from His hands, those holes remind me that He healed all the ones in my heart, and to never let the sacrifice He made for me be forgotten, nor take the  grace He gives for granted ever again.


“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among the and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’” (John 20:26-27 NIV)

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Wound and Bound by Worry


I looked out the window to see two downy woodpeckers fussing with each other at the suet feeder.

 “That’s odd,” I thought to myself. Usually a bird at any of the feeders gives way to an incoming version with its wings spread intimidatingly and speed on its side. But this one refused to give ground. It stayed and retaliated with pecking motions of its own directed at the hungry visitor. Their back and forth squabbling continued as I turned away to get on with my day.

I thought it strange later in the day to see the same type of woodpecker again standing ground over the suet cage. It fluttered about the feeder but never flew away. Could it possibly be the same bird? And why was it being so territorial?

As darkness settled over the backyard I again saw the bird clinging to the rope just below the feeder… unnatural behavior for this time of day. I began to wonder if it didn’t leave because it couldn’t leave… but I went on with my evening plans.

The night was cold, with temperatures at freezing or below. So when the sun rose and I looked out on the deck, only to see the bird still clinging to the rope, I knew something was wrong. My son came upstairs looking for coffee just then, and I pointed to the woodpecker. “It’s been there since yesterday afternoon.”

He stepped out to check things out, his height negating the need for the stepladder I would’ve had to pull out to reach the high-hanging feeder. The bird flapped its wings at his approach, fluttering in tight circles around the rope but never flying away. Gently Kevin cupped his hands around the flapping wings to still the frantic escape attempts and discovered the reason they weren’t successful: a strand from the rope had knotted itself around one of the woodpecker’s legs, keeping it on a short lease. Releasing the bird momentarily to retrieve a pair of scissors, he was quickly back with them in hand. Gently collaring the bird with one hand he deftly snipped the string holding the bird bound with the other, then released it and watched as it quickly flew away to safety and freedom.

How like that bird am I when I allow my worries over a situation to hold me captive! My thoughts persistently flutter around and around the problem in increasing desperation, but my mind won’t let me leave it alone – I’m seemingly tied tightly to the problem at hand and cant escape on my own.

Thankfully there is One Who comes to my rescue and does for me what I cannot not do on my own. With His death on the cross Jesus overcame the power binding me and set me free from that which grabs my attention and holds me fast.

He cut the string… He tore the veil… He conquered the forces trying to conquer me, and when I simply remember that fact, I am suddenly released to soar freely in the heavens with Him again.


“Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare…” (Psalm 91:3 NIV)

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Tent Camping with Jesus

Do not fear.

Oh, I know - those words are a whole lot easier to write than to live.

But God didn't say, "Do not fear when your problems are small." He didn't qualify His instructions; they are the same, no matter the size of the obstacle we're facing. Whether your difficulty is the size of a molehill, a mountain, or an exploding volcano, His directions are the same: Do. Not. Fear.

He didn't say it would be easy. Unfortunately, fear is usually my first response to a scary problem. My stomach tightens, my body shakes... I'm often literally worried sick. But I'm working on that, because I know that fear is a choice. Jesus wouldn't tell us not to do something if we didn't have a say in the matter.

So how do we make the faith choice and keep the terrifying thoughts away? Maybe it helps to remember the choice that He made... to live in our world with us... to "pitch his tent in our neighborhood" (Max Lucado), so to speak. It helps me to picture Jesus just next door... when in reality, He is even closer than that; He lives within our hearts. 

Whatever issue you're dealing with then, He is facing the same... and He's not worried. He knows He can't be beat.

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." 

(John 16:33 NKJV)

Monday, June 19, 2023

Esmee's Eyes

Her eyes are always on me.  

Seriously… her eyes are ALWAYS on me!

Esmee is my little white dog, a four-year-old bichon frise puppy mill rescue I came home with one Saturday morning shortly after my aged golden retriever had died. As I picked her out of her crate and held her at the adoption event, trying to determine if we would be a good fit, she just huddled in my arms, unresponsive… perhaps wondering what life held for her next. She was just so scared, the foster mom asserted, promising me that in no time she would be my new best friend.

I had my doubts. Because she was a purebred, the adoption fee was high. And she was a little rough looking, any grooming having been postponed until after the more immediate need of having her spayed. Her white fur was shaggy and dirty, and there were dark tear stains underneath her eyes. But my cat and I needed a new friend to fill the hole in our hearts and our home, and since Esmee needed the latter, I decided to give her a go.

I couldn’t be more glad. Now two months since that morning, my little white buddy has blossomed. She greets me every morning standing on her hind feet in her crate, then bouncing around my legs before we head outside and she races to find a spot to do her business. For the rest of the day until she returns to her crate at night, she is by my side or watching me from the couch, the rug at my feet, or any spot in which she settles that gives her a clear view of me. She still has moments of panic when something startles her or a new situation comes into her world, but they are occurring less and less as she learns that I am her place of safety. And so every waking moment of her day, she is looking my way .She never lets me out of her sight.

What a lesson there is in that for me! I, too, am a “rescue”, you see… a life that was likewise a bit of a mess with no clear direction… until the morning my boyfriend introduced me to a Man Who was willing to pay the price of His life for mine… to take me as His own, love me, care for me, and eventually take me Home. I gradually came to trust that all my needs would be met in Him, as long as I kept Him cotinually in my sight.

And so now I strive to have “Esmee Eyes”… constantly following His movements in my life, dogging His footsteps, and rejoicing in every moment we spend together.

“You can change her name if you like – she doesn’t recognize it,” said the lady from the adoption agency. But when I found out that it means “esteemed” or “beloved”, I knew I wouldn’t. Daily she is coming to recognize that she is exactly that… and teaching me new ways to see that I am, too.

“Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end…”

(Hebrews 12:1-2 GNT)


Monday, May 29, 2023

Focused on Freedom

Ceremony complete, caps flung, grads hugged, photos taken… it was time to find the car and head to celebratory ice cream with the family back home…. only to find that we couldn’t get there! The bar across the parking garage exit was down and wouldn’t go up! No attendant in the booth at the gate,  no answer on the phone when the number for assistance was called… no choice but to wait. Never our strong suit, drivers in the back of the line started honking their horns in frustration, having no idea what was causing the delay. We all just wanted to be on our way. 

Finally we saw a man striding purposefully to the front of the garage… and then thankfully the cars started to move. As we got closer we could see that he was simply standing there, holding the gate up himself and letting all the cars pass through! Surely he wanted to get out as badly as the rest and had family celebrations to get to, too. But he put his plans on hold so the rest of us could get on with ours. 

“Tell him thanks,” came the whisper from the passenger seat to our driver as we got closer… but his eyes were on the taillights of the car ahead, frustrated like the rest of us and focused on freedom. Next came a nudge in the ribs, and an urgent, “Tell him thanks!!” …but we followed the guy in line ahead of us and just zoomed out past the hero into the night. 

“You should have told him thank you!” she said one more time as we made our way to the family waiting and now calling, wondering where we were. None of us took the time. 

And so that is what this day is about. Today we uniformly TAKE the time to thank those who put uniforms on and their own plans on hold… who didn’t just sacrifice their own family time but their very lives…so that we can continue to enjoy ours in the freedom they provided.

Let’s all be the one who remembers to say thanks. 

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

‭‭(John‬ ‭15‬:‭13‬ ‭KJV‬‬)

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