100 Followers!

IMG_20180721_175143029 I started this blog as a way of practicing my writing and hoping someone might be inspired or encouraged along the way. I didn’t know if anyone would actually want to follow me and am so excited to reach 100 followers!

I am very grateful to all of you who find my blogs worthy of your time!

Dear Brave One, (from Someone Who Loves You Series)

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Dear Brave One,

It’s so hard to watch you hurt as you struggle to grow. Your face all red and grimacing reveals the battle going on inside you. Your body is fighting to get rid of the things that don’t belong in there. Be strong, Little One, and let them go. I know it hurts sometimes but you don’t need them.  And you will feel so much better once they are gone. Can you feel my hand on your back, supporting and encouraging you? Probably not, but that’s OK. I’m here whether you know it or not. I’m not going anywhere.

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my new granddaughter. But deeper down I hear God telling us the same things.  As you reread them, replace the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

The Swing

“I was so close,” she thought with disappointment as gravity pulled her away. “Why can’t I just stay here where things are so much clearer? Why am I always pulled away?”

Helplessly she watched the sky grow further away, then disappear as the angle of her IMG_20180719_144815604body changed. Her vision now was filled with overshadowing trees, prickly bushes, weed-invested grass, and dirt crawling with bugs – the everyday mixture of good and bad she was very familiar with. Although she could no longer feel as if she was part of the glorious sky, she could still get a glimpse of it if she looked up. But the land around her was interesting in its own way and thoughts of it slowly crowded out the sky from her mind.

She didn’t get to stay there very long. She was pulled back up, this time backwards where all she could see was the ground receding from her. The dark, flat view that filled her eyes replaced the memory of the wide open blue sky and began to make her question if that blue sky even existed. “Did I just imagine it?” she wondered. “I can’t see blue sky anywhere around here. It must have been just wishful thinking.” However, in spite of the sad feeling that accompanied that thought, she was surprised how the distance provided her a new perspective on what she thought she knew so well. Like how little those bugs really were, and how the weeds seem to disappear into the greenness of the grass.

Just when she accepted her new vision, it changed.

“Arhh!” she screamed as she fell facedown towards the ground. “Not again!” Visions of smashing into the ground filled her mind with anxiety. As the ground loomed larger and larger in her sight, she just knew this time there was no way she was going to come out of this unhurt. With hands clenching on tight, she closed her eyes and began to pray.

But when the impact didn’t happen, she took a peek through one eye and saw she was not going down anymore. She was moving sideways and missing every obstacle. “Whew”, she said to herself. “I don’t know how, but I made it again.” Relief flooded her and she drew in deep breath and relaxed as her familiar world surrounded her yet again. Then in her peripheral vision, she got a glimpse of blueness above her and something in her spirit stirred. Looking up she was reminded of the things she had seen before and a longing rose up in her. How could she make her way back up there? And if she did, could she get high enough to stay there? She strived to push herself upwards but that didn’t help, and neither did wildly kicking her feet. Eventually she gave up.

Before long, though, she noticed everything began to seem brighter and she got increasingly frequent glimpses of the blueness above her. Her angle continued to change until all she could see was the bright blue sky and awesome white clouds. And once again everything seemed so peaceful and clear to her and she wanted to stay there forever.

But of course she couldn’t, and gravity pulled her back down again and she started the cycle all over.

“Wow, that was amazing!” she said as the ride stopped and she got off.

“Swinging like this has its ups and downs,” she thought. “Just like my Christian life. Sometimes I get so close to God and seem to understand everything so much clearer, but then that feeling fades away as days go by and I find my vision limited to what I can see down here.”

Then she had another thought. “There is one big difference. This swing may always come back down, but one day, I’m going to make it up into that spiritual sky and never come down!”

Dear Sleepyhead,

Dear Sleepyhead,

You are so cute I can’t take my eyes from you as you sleep here in my arms. Hours go by as minutes – and still I don’t have my fill of you. I wonder what you are dreaming about, and if you feel the incredible love I have for you. Do you hear me as I whisper to you? Can you feel the strength of my arms keeping you safe as you sleep? Somewhere inside you, I think you do. For when you grow restless in your sleep, all it takes is a few pats to settle you back into the deep, restful sleep you need. And knowing you trust me to watch over you fills my heart to overflowing. I treasure each and every moment I get to spend with you.

Always,

Someone who loves you

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my new granddaughter. But deeper down I hear God telling us the same things.  As you reread them, replace the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

Dear New One, (From Someone Who Loves You Series)

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Dear New One,

Welcome to your new life!  What do you think? A bit bright, huh? Everything is so different. But don’t worry, you’re safe with me and I’ll help you get used to it little by little. We are going to have such fun together. I have so many dreams and plans for you! But first you have to grow a little more. So rest here in my arms as I surround you with my love. We have plenty of time.

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my new granddaughter. But deeper down I hear God telling us the same things.  As you reread them, replace the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

Dear Hidden One (From Someone Who Loves You series)

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Dear Hidden One,

Maybe most people can’t see you there, moving in the darkness that surrounds you, but I can. You are so beautiful! And I love you so much already!

You probably think that where you are is all there is in life. But you are so wrong. There is so much more to life than you can imagine, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Although most of the time you seem content in your small dark place, I wonder if you sense there is more.  I see you stretching out your arms and legs, testing the walls around you. Do you ever get frustrated with those boundaries?  Or do you know they are there to keep you safe until you’re ready to join me in the light?

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my granddaughter. But they are also letters God is writing to you. Reread them, replacing the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

 

 

Before GPS, There Was GPS

It happened more than once. More than twice. It happened so often that they knew it had to be a God-thing.

In their early years together, back before the babies came and even before GPS, they liked to travel. They would pack their tiny car, make sure they had maps for every state they would be driving through, and set off with a bag of snacks and a cooler of soft drinks.

He would drive since he was more secure about driving in heavy traffic. And she would navigate as she was better at reading maps. Stopping only for ice and gas, they would get to their destination city without incident. But once there, they frequently found that their maps would not match the streets they found themselves on.

 

“Turn right at Union Street,” she would say, eyes glued to the map. “The hotel should be pretty close.”

“There is no Union Street. All these streets have numbers.”

“Numbers?”

“The one we just passed was Sixth Street. The next one will probably be Seventh Street.”

“What street are we one?”

“Oak Tree Blvd.”

“That’s impossible,” she responded, studying the map. “Oak Tree is way over there. It doesn’t even come close to Sixth Street.”

“Well, I’m telling you what I see on the signs. I’m not making it up.”

“Then the map is lying. Maybe there’s another way.”

After studying the map a bit longer, she said, “Yes, we can take 22nd Street to get to Maple Street, then get on Pine Tree Road, which will take us to Union Street.”

“Which way do I turn on 22nd?”

“Turn, um… right.”

“OK, here comes 22nd.”

After making the turn, he said, “Which way now?”

“You’ll need to turn left at Maple Street.”

“How far is it?”

“Only a few blocks.”

They both look at street signs until they spot it. “Yes! Turn left!”

After making that turn, he asked, “What was the next street? Pineapple?”

“No, Pine Tree. It should be just ahead.”

But after a dozen blocks go by, it’s obvious they missed it. Or it didn’t exist. Or the map lied again.

“Turn around, maybe we just missed it.”

But going back didn’t help. “There is no Pine Tree around here. Maybe you read the map wrong and it’s further up.”

She glared at him. “I know how to read a map. But you can keep driving if you want to.”

He kept driving. Another dozen blocks, it was obvious they weren’t going to find it.”

“OK, turn left up there. The map shows the streets are pretty much laid out in blocks. Since we took a right off Oak Tree, then a left, another left should take us back to Oak Tree.”

He turned at the next intersection.

“I said left! Not right!”

“Oh, I’ll just make a U-turn up there at the next light.”

As he began his U-turn, she yelled out, “Stop! Don’t make a U-turn! That’s Union Street!”

Managing to avoid getting hit by other cars, he got the car pointed in the right direction and began to drive slowly down Union Street.

Still studying the map, she tried to figure out how they got to Union Street. “How did we get here?” she wondered aloud. “Union Street doesn’t even come close to Maple!”

“I don’t know, but there’s our hotel.” He sighed with relief.

Perplexed, she said, “God must have done it. He must have picked up our car and IMG_20180714_223659842plopped us right where we need to be. There’s no other way we could have gotten here according to the map.”

The first time that happened, they both laughed at the idea. But after many other trips, with similar experiences, they began to believe that God really did have mercy on them when they got themselves totally lost. Did He actually pick up their car and move it? Or did He move the roads? They didn’t know. And they didn’t care. They were just amazed each time He did it.

They may not have had GPS to help them back then, but they did have GPS – God’s Personal Service – which was more than enough.

Counting On

Chewing on a brownie, she read the title of next short story in her book. It was an odd little book with the oddest stories. But each had a fascination of its own, so she would read one every chance she had, usually during her morning breaks at work. This one was called Counting On. Counting on what, she wondered as she turned the page.

The little girl loved to count. She had to count. She needed to count. But counting on things didn’t always work out for her. Actually, they rarely worked out for her.

Like when she tried counting on her crayons. She would line them up as she counted them. IMG_20180714_101429188One, two, three… until she ran out of crayons. No matter how big the box, she always ran out of crayons. That was bad enough, but the worst part was trying to keep the crayons from rolling around. It seemed most surfaces had some kind of slant to them, no matter how slight, that caused the crayons to roll at the slightest movement. She could sometimes lay them out on the carpet, but then someone usually came along and stepped on them, smashing them down into the ground.

So she tried other things. But nothing seemed to work. Not her beads – they were worse than the crayons. Not her dolls – there weren’t enough of them. Not her cereal – bugs eventually found them.

Finally she thought she had it! Silverware! They didn’t roll and there were plenty of the forks, knives, and spoons in the drawer! So she dumped them all out on the table and began counting them. It worked like a dream… until people began taking them.

“Hey, where did all the spoons go?”

“I need a fork.”

“Excuse me, mind if I take a knife to butter my bread?”

She got frustrated as silverware was taken from her and then returned to the wrong place, if they were returned at all. It got so bad she lost track of what she had counted and what she hadn’t. Didn’t anyone care enough, respect her enough to care where they took and returned the silverware? The hurt and frustration she felt each time finally took its toll and, crying, she gave up.

But her need to count on something remained so she looked for something else to count. Something that didn’t roll or attract bugs. And something that no one would take from her.

Then one day, while out shopping with her mom, she found the perfect thing – a bag of colored glass jewels! Not only did their flat bottoms keep them from rolling, they came in pretty colors. And not being edible, bugs would leave them alone as would everyone else since they were her own property.

For days she happily counted on her jewels, lining them up and enjoying the colors as she counted. She kept them in a velvet bag on top of her dresser when she wasn’t counting them. Whenever she felt the need to count, she would run to her room, grab the bag, dump them out on her bed, and count on them until her need was met.

But one day they weren’t there. She searched frantically as her need grew, until finally she found them behind the dresser. How did they get there? Did someone touch them when she wasn’t around? Relieved that she found them, she didn’t think anymore about their misplacement. That is, until it happened again. And then a third time. After searching, she would end up finding them in odd places. How was that happening? Was someone messing with them – and her? Or was she doing it herself? Was she having memory lapses? In any case, she knew she could no longer trust being able to count on the jewels. She had to find something else.

And then she found IT!

IT was perfect! IT didn’t roll. IT didn’t attract bugs. IT was her own personal property that no one could take, even if they wanted to. And IT was always with her, even when she wasn’t thinking about IT.

IT was her fingers! She could count on them every time she had the need. And when she ran out of fingers, she would just start back on her first finger while counting higher and higher. She found she could count forever with them, if she wanted. She had finally found the perfect thing to count on that would never disappoint!

Closing the book, she thought about what she had just read. Definitely odd, but it reminded her of something. Didn’t everyone have a need to count on something sometimes? Counting on the weather to be nice for a beach day? Counting on a friend to help with a task? Counting on her dog to provide entertainment when she was bored? And didn’t most things turn out to be unreliable at times? Rain instead of sunshine? Friend cancelling at the last minute? Dog too sleepy to play with?

But, she thought, we also have an IT. An amazing IT.  IT’s called Jesus! He’s always with us, no one can take Him from us, and we can count on Him forever!

She set the book down and, wiggling her fingers with a smile, got back to work.

The Lunch Invitation

Nancy looked at the lunch invitation with delight. Meals at her friends’ house were always an adventure. They liked to experiment with their recipes, often finding creative ways to tweak the ingredients to make the dishes unique and unforgettable. This meal, scheduled for the following week, should be no exception.

Each day she tried to imagine what they would be serving.  Probably nothing as ordinary as spaghetti or grilled cheese, unless they added some fun ingredients, of course. Maybe something with lobster, she thought, mentally licking her lips.

Finally the day came and she drove to her friends’ house with great anticipation

“Come on in! I’m so glad you’re here!” Susan exclaimed as she held the door open for Nancy.

“Thank you for the invite,” Nancy replied. “I love your cooking!”

They walked down the hall towards the kitchen. “Bob is finishing the salad right now. We kind of burned the main dish so we added some extra ingredients to make the salad larger. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all. Salad actually sounds good.” Nancy knew whatever they served would be amazing.

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The large salad in the center of the kitchen table did look amazing. So full of greens with lots of colorful veggies, eggs, and cheeses mixed in.

Bob held the salad fork and motioned to the salad. “We weren’t expecting to have to make such a big salad and didn’t have enough greens so I added some lettuce leaves from our backyard garden. It’s the first time we’ve ever grown lettuce and I’m so excited that they were ready to use today.”

Nancy glanced out the window to the back yard, then stared with horror. A dog was peeing on the bed of lettuce. Was this the same bed that Bob got his lettuce for the salad? It had to be.

“Umm…” she began. “Your dog is… umm… peeing on your lettuce.”

“Oh, that’s OK,” Bob said. “He does that all the time. It doesn’t hurt the lettuce.”

Nancy looked at the salad. Was some of that peed on lettuce part of this salad?

Susan saw her look and said, “Don’t worry. I’m sure Bob rinsed the lettuce before adding it to the salad.”

“Of course,” Bob agreed. “I always do.”

Nancy thought of the quick rinse she usually did to her own vegetables. Surely he did better than that.

“Besides,” Susan went on, “even if he happened to use a lettuce leaf that had gotten peed on, it’s such a little part of this salad that you won’t even notice.”

Somehow, Nancy had lost her appetite and began wondering what excuse she could make to get out of there without eating.

Later, much later, she thought… is this like us and sin? We think we do so many wonderful things that a little sin here or there doesn’t really matter. But is that how God sees sin? That it’s OK to accept small sins as long as we basically try to do the right things? Would that be like Susan and Bob accepting that salad since it was basically all good ingredients? A little contamination wouldn’t be noticed?

No, God was pure holiness. There was no darkness in Him at all. So all sin, no matter how small, must be as despicable to Him as the possible yellow lettuce had been to her.

Wow! That sure puts sin in a whole new light.

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

Their loud cries disturbed her peaceful soak in the pool. Opening her eyes, she watched as two young girls, maybe around seven years old, fought over a doll and a plastic cup of small toy ice cream cones.

“Give it to me!”IMG_20180711_165015740

“No!”

“I need the cup!”

“No, it’s my turn!”

“Give me the baby!”

“Ask for it!”

“Give it to me!”

“No, ask for it!”

“Give it!”

The exchange went back and forth but wasn’t getting anywhere as one girl held the toys out of reach of the second girl. Neither girl paid any attention to their grandmother’s voice warning them to stop fighting. A third girl, younger by a few years, quietly watched from a distance.

Finally frustration won over and the girl without the toys began flailing at the girl with the toys.

“Girls! Come out of the pool. We don’t act like that.” The voice of their grandmother finally penetrated their battle. “And leave the toys there.” The girls reluctantly left the toys floating in the pool as they climbed out and went to sit next to their grandmother.

The third girl, the patient one who had watched from a distance, glanced up at the other two girls, then at the floating toys. She swam over to them, quietly gathered them up, and swam back to her own grandmother.

“Nana,” she asked her grandmother. “Do you want to play kitchen? I have ice cream!”

Closing her eyes, she smiled. It reminded her of what she had read in the Bible. “The meek with inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) Ps 37:11 had put it another way: “The meek with inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.”  This might not be what God had in mind when He said those words, but it sure worked out that way for this little but wise girl as she played with her new toys in the now peaceful pool.