Be a Difference Maker

We have them all around us–the lonely, the mentally ill, the disenfranchised, the bullied and the bullies. Sometimes they are almost invisible. Teachers see them every day at their schools, but there is not enough time nor enough resources to reach each one individually.

We see the patterns of individuals who isolate themselves from others, who have obsessions with violent video games, who have not been taught positive ways to deal with anger, grief, pain, and loneliness. And yet, we still do not recognize the signs until it is too late to save them and others from their own poor judgments.

We have the conversations about gun control–pro vs. con, bump stocks, semi-automatic and automatic weapons. And yet guns still wind up in the hands of the mentally ill, criminals, and young men who are angry at the world–often legally.

We have a generation of children who are addicted to their phones and social media and are poor at face-to-face relationships. We have parents who do everything for them–or who do nothing for them.

The issues raised every time there is a Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook or Parkland mass shooting are complex and troublesome. I do not know anyone who thinks this is an issue that is as simple as just banning guns. It is daunting to look at the complexities of these incidents.

But I do know this. We need to find a way when children a very young to identify those who are at risk of being isolated and lonely. We need to provide training for parents to love their children and give them the tools they need to navigate a broken world. We need to bring volunteers into our schools who can love these children and help them find their gifts and passions. We need people who can help children know that their lives matter and they do not need to go through life alone.

The hope of the world is Jesus and as Christians we need to be sharing that good news. What if we, the Christian community, volunteered to be in our schools, reading, tutoring, helping in the lunch lines, watching for the child who no one wants to sit with. What if we helped on the playgrounds and watched for the children who are being bullied, and taught compassion and kindness with our actions and words–to both the bullied and the bullies. What if our churches taught parenting classes for the community, offered after school programs for the single working moms, or a host of other creative ways we can help families. What if we just loved on people. The way Christ did.

I do not have the answers. I do not even pretend to understand the depth and complexities of the problem that leads an individual to think it is okay to slaughter others. I do know that we live in a world full of sin. Satan is a liar and a thief and he will steal the souls of our children, and yes even us, if we let him. It is time for the church to step up and try to make a difference in the world around us. We need to let people know that God loves the unlovable–that he sees the worth in our lives, as messed up and difficult as they are. No matter how many times we hear, the truth is there, right in John 3:16.


How will you respond to God’s love? Will you be willing to step out of your comfort zone and love the unlovable? Will you be willing to volunteer at a daycare or an elementary, middle school or high school to help identify at-risk kids? Will you be a difference maker in someone’s life? It is so easy to talk about solutions, but it is so much harder to be a part of one. Believe me when I say, I am preaching to myself right  now. It is time for us Christians to stop pointing fingers and become active in trying to make a difference.


What’s Her Story?

We all have them in our churches. Women whose lives are full of hurt and pain, who struggle with job loss, economic woes, health issues, parenting issues, and more. They sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday, trying to trust God with their struggles and frequently wearing a mask to cover their pain. We will never know their stories unless we make the effort to invite them into our lives and discover who they are.

A friend and I listened as a woman shared her story of a son who is struggling with paranoid schizophrenia. She lived in fear as she watched his hallucinations and bizarre behaviors become increasingly more frequent. The hours leading to his involuntary hospitalization were something I would never wish for anyone. My heart ached for her and her pain. We held hands as we prayed for her family. My friend and I both prayed that God’s healing hand would be on this family, but it was her prayer that made me cry as I truly saw the heart of a mother who loved God.

I watched as another woman lost her son to an illness that had robbed him of his job, his marriage, his self-confidence, and eventually, his very life. Losing a child is one of the most devastating things that can ever happen to a mother, and seeing her pain and knowing there was nothing I could do to alleviate it, was extremely difficult.  I saw her grow stronger in the Lord, serve with a humble heart, and lift up others during their times of pain. God has been a constant companion to her and her husband, and her painful loss has not been in vain. Her witness to others is not unnoticed.

woman comfortingUnfortunately, not everyone who sits in our church pews has a strong faith and a story of triumph through tragedy. Some of them are discouraged, some of them are questioning their faith, some of them believe that no one cares about their struggles.  How do we minister to them? How do we find out their stories?

First, we need to pray that God will open our eyes to see and ears to hear the needs around us. Listen for concerns that are expressed by them or others. Do they have a friend they sit with at church? Do they participate in a small group outside of Sunday morning?  Does anyone else at church socialize with them? Are we aware of their family needs? We have many lonely women sitting in our church pews. Do you see them? Do you hear them?

Second, we need to let them know we care. Sometimes women just need to know someone out there cares about what is going on in their lives. A gentle word, a loving touch, a little kindness, a card, a meal–anything that says “I care about you”–goes a long way. When a woman knows that we care, she is much more likely to share her life and her needs.

Third, we need to give them a safe haven. We don’t always know what is happening in a woman’s life and what her story is. Sometimes a woman is reluctant to share her story because she has been hurt in telling others. We need to listen to her without judging, we need to keep her story in confidence and ask permission to share if there is a need, and we need to provide her with a safe place to share her life.

Last but most importantly, we need to show them a God who loves them. God created us for relationship and the most important relationship in anyone’s life is their relationship with God. When that is right, all the other things, discouraging as they may be, are put in a different perspective. When we ask a woman to share her story with us, we want to be sure that our response is a reflection of our Father’s love. We need to be sure to focus on Him.

All of us have a story. Some of them are more dramatic than others, but they are all important in God’s eyes. Get to know the women around you. Find out their stories.  Some of them will shock you. Some of them will surprise you. Some of them will inspire you. Some of them will make your heart ache.

The amazing thing is God uses our stories. He is constantly rewriting and updating them. What’s your story? If a friend asks you why having God in your life matters, what will you tell them? Be real. Be transparent. Let them know you do not have all the answers and sometimes you struggle. Ordinary people serving an extraordinary God – that is the crux of the story. We all need to be ready to share our story so that others can see how God has worked in our lives.

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 ESV



Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

d4d99c902daa5cbcb06a9bf93963714f-big-mirrors-round-mirrors-hallwayFor our recent annual writer’s retreat we rented a lovely, large home that had enough space for us to spread out and write. One of the first things I noticed when I arrived was a large mirror hanging on the wall at the foot of the staircase.

Now there are things in my life I seriously have love/hate relationships with–my computer, my car, and food, for example. But my relationship with mirrors? There is no doubt; I absolutely have a hate relationship with them! Can you imagine that?

Mirrors simply reflect the image in front of them (unless they are magic like in Snow White). When I look in the mirror, I see an aging overweight body, a graying head of hair and a double chin. The mirror reflects the reality of my aging self. And mirrors with a magnifying glass? Who needs that?

The tricky thing about mirrors is what you see is based on your perspective. 

When I look at others I do not see the wrinkles, the age spots and the graying hair I see when I look at myself. My perspective of them is different. I am way more forgiving of the flaws I see in others than the ones I see in myself. And while I am critical of what I see in a mirror, it is very handy to have one. It can prevent me from leaving the house with my blouse inside out or show me that stain I didn’t initially see on my jacket. It can even remind me that I forgot to brush my hair when getting ready.

I often wonder if I had a mirror that reflected what is inside of my soul, what would I see? Would I see the insecurities, the doubts, the longings, and the fears that reside within? Would I see the pride, the arrogance, the envy, the deceit, and the lies that I bury inside? Or would I see the grace, the joy, and the beauty of a redeemed life? It all comes down to my perspective and how deeply I am willing to peer into that mirror.

1 Corinthians 13 is well known as a love chapter of the New Testament. However, Paul also reminds us in the end of the chapter that sometimes we just do not see the full picture of our life with Christ. In verses 12 and 13, he states, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” God sees us as we truly are without having to resort to a reflection in the mirror. He knows us. He looks at us not in a reflection, but with eyes that can pierce to our very souls.

For now, what I see in the mirror is just a poor reflection of what will be someday when I sit at the foot of the Savior. Right now I can only envision my future with Christ from my perspective. I cannot wait until I see him in a way that is not a reflection but reality.

I cannot help but think if the God held a magic mirror in front of us and we asked, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” the answer would come back “You my child, are fair indeed, but the fairest of them all is our Fairest Lord Jesus.”.

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heav’n can boast.

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than Thou, my Savior, art to me.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine.


The Cost of Compromising Our Dreams

Recently I was having a discussion with a friend regarding the current #metoo movement. From my perspective, I think it is healthy to be having a discussion regarding the rampant culture that allows sexual harassment to remain unchecked for generations. It is easy for us to point the finger at Hollywood and the rampant immorality that has existed. It is easy for us to condemn the abusers, and yes, even those who are abused. The fact that people seeking to become actors and writers and directors allowed the abuse to happen, and even participate in it, does not mitigate the responsibility all around. While there are many complex issues involved in the why and how of the abuse, the fact remains that finally we are having a discussion and people are being held accountable for the abuses.

The issue is far more pervasive than just in Hollywood. Continue reading “The Cost of Compromising Our Dreams”

Come as You Are

This morning as I was pondering so many of the difficulties my friend’s are having, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness as I realized all of the needs out there. The diagnosis of breast cancer, the possibility of losing a spouse, the challenges of being a parent, the ravages of grief, the unanswered questions of why God does not answer prayers the way we think should happen–all of these issues came at me like a starship in hyper drive. Life can become overwhelming at times, and even as Christians who know we should put our trust in God, we sometimes become shaky in our faith.

Life is frequently hard–even for those who put their faith and trust in God. I love Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 and often cling to them when my life seems to be in chaos (which is more frequently than I like to admit!). Continue reading “Come as You Are”

The Fear Factor

indexI was 10 years old when we moved to “the farm.” All eight of us (Dad and Mom and 6 kids) lived in a two bedroom home with two additional bedrooms in the upstairs attic space. We had no running water, a coal stove to heat the entire house, and no running water for the indoor toilet, necessitating–the outhouse! And it is there that my very real fear of spiders began after listening to one of my male cousins tell me that when I used the outhouse a spider was going to come and bite me on the butt. I know that my fear of spiders is hugely unrealistic, but in my mind a totally improbable fear became rooted. Even today I hate spiders!

The fact of the matter is, most of us have fears in our lives. They come from various arenas and are frequently unrealistic, but they are indeed present. Continue reading “The Fear Factor”

Lessons from a Hummingbird

imagesI remember it like it was yesterday. My husband came in from the garage and told me that a hummingbird had flown into the garage and he was trying to get it out. The problem was that every time he tried to catch the hummingbird to help it out of the garage, it would flee from him.  Deciding that he would just leave the garage with the doors wide open, he came in the house so the hummingbird would not feel threatened.

As we periodically checked on the hummingbird, we found that he was flying up high and would not fly lower to where the open door was.  We watched as he flew into the walls over and over again in trying to fly away. Continue reading “Lessons from a Hummingbird”

Does Praise and Worship Really Matter?

This morning I was very tempted just to stay home in anticipation of bad weather. Instead, I braved the gloomy skies and headed out to church. I was so blessed to participate in praise and worship and be reminded of how great and good our God really is! There is something refreshing about praising God and taking the focus off of myself and putting it on my Creator instead.

I want to start off this year by talking about why praise and worship is so important to me. Continue reading “Does Praise and Worship Really Matter?”

A Little Kindness

It was December of 1991 and I was one stressed out Mom that Christmas season. I had four children, ages 8, 7, 5, and a newborn infant. I remember needing to make a Target run and loading up all four kids in the car, getting them corralled to go in the store, and shopping for the items I needed. My stress must have been showing for sure! As we were shopping and I was telling my children for the umpteenth time that no they could not have a toy, a lady approached me in the aisle.

She was very kind and said, “I remember what it was like to have kids and try to go shopping.” She held out her hand and offered me a small box. Continue reading “A Little Kindness”

The Holidays Are Coming

holiday_stress_shutterstock_62603809I love the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of my favorites. For many people the holidays are a joyous time to be around family and friends, however, for some individuals it is a time of stress and turmoil. For the perfectionist, unrealistic expectations of the perfect house, perfect gifts, and perfect entertainments can take a toll. For the lonely and those who have recently lost loved ones, the holidays can accentuate their very aloneness. For others, the thought of being with certain family members makes them cringe. The reasons for holiday stress are many and varied, but most of us experience it to some degree.

One of the hardest things I have learned is to Let Go of Unreasonable Expectations. Here are some expectations that contribute to stress during the holidays. Continue reading “The Holidays Are Coming”