I haven’t been writing regular posts in a while.  I’ve been praying about whether to renew my Little Potted Plant account, whether I really had anything to say that anyone would want to read.  But I think that’s part of the process I’m in with the Lord right now.  I’m still in transition from moving away from my family and, in some sense, have been going through a grieving process as the reality of it has settled in over the past few months.  

When I first began this blog almost two years ago after my sweet mother’s death, I said I wanted to “just be real.”  My purpose was to discover who God created me to be.  And I think I started to make my posts a little “preachy,” as though I needed to teach a point with each post instead of just sharing my heart.

So now I want to try again.  I just want to share, hoping that somehow what I write will touch someone else who needs to know they are not alone in how they feel.  And as always, I want to invite others to find the answers in our very faithful God.  So here goes! Thank you for being here with me.


March 24, 2015

I went for a walk after dinner with Mark and Chloe, our little bichon frise.  There was a cool breeze, the grass was green, birds were singing–spring at last, and with it the sheer joy of being alive with all of my senses heightened. Thank you, Jesus!  But if that wasn’t enough, we came home to a magnificent sunset visible out our back windows.  Contentment.

There was a time I was focused on making my home beautiful–nothing wrong with that. It’s part of being a woman, and it’s important.  But now my eyes are being opened to see God’s beauty.  While once the paint colors on my walls were a primary focus until I got them just right, now the colors of the sunset are what capture my attention.

A few short years ago, I became fascinated with the subject of simplicity.  I read books, did a group Bible study from a book entitled “Abundant Simplicity,” and started following a couple of Christian blogs on minimalism.  I never knew back then that I would be whisked away from Arkansas to Texas, from a roughly 2000-foot, well-appointed home to a little duplex with carpet and white linoleum that is reminiscent of my earlier homes “back in the day.”

But the Lord knew.  And more personally, the Lord knows me.  Yes, his plan was to move us to Texas to establish our ministry.  But he also cares about the personal details.  He knows what my heart needs, and he is so generous.  He knew I would be captivated by shade trees and sunsets and a park right beside us to walk and time to think and to just…..breathe.  It is a place where distractions are few, and my eyes can gaze on what I need most.  And what I need most is Jesus.

Sometimes the Lord’s plan seems so painful, like moving me away from five, almost six now, grandbabies.  But that’s where trust comes in.  He created me for himself, just as he created you.  And I know that whatever that looks like, it will be the best, for he promises to work all things for good.  I can’t see all the changes that are surely happening inside of me as he draws me closer, but I know that he is doing something in me that needed to be done in this place.  I know the process is not over, nor will it ever be completed on this earth.  But I am a little closer.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the grace to say yes and the courage to follow you.  Thank you that you have a plan for our children and grandchildren as well, a plan that is unique to each of them.  I pray for them and for all who may read this post, that they will know you and understand that you are concerned about every detail of their lives.  I pray that we will continually say yes to you, so that we will truly live.  Amen.

An Invitation to Dance

A new year, a fresh start!  Jesus, I’m so glad to be alive, to have this chance to walk with you this year and to be on this adventure with my wonderful husband.  Thank you!  A new year always bring hope.  Resolutions are made.  The focus is put on the future, as it should be.  There is an innocence about us that believes this year really will be different. Then sometimes, when the first mistake is made, all of our expectations come crashing down.  The problem is described in this wonderful quote:  “Everywhere I go, there I am.”  I’m still me.  Alone, I am needy and helpless.

David says in Psalm 4:3, “Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.”  Even if I can only say, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner,” I know my heart is in the right place and that He hears, for only good soil produces the fruit of repentance.  Let me say that again, for I sense the Spirit is leading:  Only good soil can produce the fruit of repentance.  (See Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13).

“Good soil” is not evidenced by being sorry for failing in some way, like the self-inflicted, demonic-led pain I experienced a few days ago, falling in “the pit” again.  This type of sorrow is completely self-focused and is based on lies.  But it is hard to get “self” out of the way when your natural life has been built on good works!  Sinning grieves your heart because you have failed, and you can’t face the shame and the thought of your own unworthiness.  This was the same sorrow and shame that drove Judas to suicide.

Godly sorrow is the pain you feel for knowing you have grieved the heart of God.  It is rooted in truth.  The truth is if we belong to him, we are declared worthy because He is worthy.  This is what Peter experienced after denying Jesus.  He was sick at heart at the enormity of denying the One he loved so much, and because his focus was on Jesus, he was able to be forgiven and restored by Him.  Peter’s heart was good soil.

Lord, this is what I ask for in this new year.  May I see all things in relation to you, for you are the center of all things. Sometimes I feel so immature as a believer, yet you tell us to come to you as little children!  Holy Spirit, give me the mercy of your conviction so that I will operate in truth and keep my focus on you and on our relationship.  I know that is when I can sit at your feet and be lovingly restored.

I’m seeing the skin of a snake that has been shed.  I sense that the Lord has taken that skin, that layer of my heart that the enemy has held captive, and has torn it away.  And the place that has been torn in my heart is now the circumcision that must take place so He can have all of me.  “Know that I have set the godly apart for myself!

Wonderful, merciful Savior, you hold my heart in your hands.  All of life comes down to this:  What do I do with you?  You knew me when I was formed in my mother’s womb.  I came from you, and I will return to you.  So what do I do with you in the remaining time I have in this life?  As I pray, I feel the slightest butterfly flutter of my heart, and I hear the words, “Dance with me.”  Yes, Lord, with your leading, I can do that.

To my husband:  Because of the way you love me no matter what state I’m in–happy, sad, angry, or full of shame–I’m understanding at a deeper level just how much Jesus loves me.  Thank you for loving me with His sacrificial heart.  How blessed I am to have you as my bridegroom and Christ as my bridegroom God!  I love you desperately.

As this new year begins, reflect on these words by Sarah Young in Jesus Calling:

“I, your Prince of Peace, long to pour Myself into your neediness.  My abundance and your neediness are a perfect match.  I designed you to have no sufficiency of your own.  I created you as a jar of clay, set apart for sacred use.  I want you to be filled with My very Being, permeated through and through with Peace.”  (December 31)

The invitation of a lifetime awaits.  May God bless you abundantly 2015 as you dance with your Prince!

The Greatest of These is Love

I wonder if faith that hasn’t been tested is truly genuine faith.  It’s so easy to think casually about faith when you think you don’t need it—when everyone is healthy, finances are in good order, relationships are stable.  But then something happens that threatens your little secure world, and you are thrown off balance.  It’s not that you don’t trust God, but you don’t understand what He is doing, and you’re not sure how to lay hold of the faith that you need.

So I have been doing just that, wrestling before the Lord about how to lay hold of that faith.  Mark and I are going through some testing in the area of our provision.  I want to come out of this testing, as it says in the first chapter of James, mature and complete, not lacking anything.  I want to get it right.  But that has the scent of performance in it, that old bugaboo that comes back to haunt me.  Then God in his kindness showed me there is something greater, something right in front of me that I’m not seeing.

Everyone is familiar with “the love chapter,” I Corinthians 13.  I had even memorized it at one time, but I haven’t understood the scope of it.  I can do many good things for God, but if they aren’t motivated by love, Paul says nothing is gained.  He says if I have the faith to move mountains but don’t have love, I am nothing.  Those words penetrate the soul, and they have gotten my attention.  I see that faith and love are inextricably connected, that faith is the fruit of love, loving God and believing that God loves me.

How could I have missed this?  Since the Lord told me that what is coming next in my life will require greater faith, I have been diligently in the Word, wanting to learn everything God has to say about it, as if I could learn how to possess it.  But then the realization came over me like a flash of light–I have already been through trials much harder than this one.  When my former husband died, it came out of nowhere.  I didn’t study about faith to prepare for it.  All I had been doing was pursuing God and loving Him.  When the time of testing came, the faith was there. I was able to stand because I knew my God loved me.  All the faith I needed in that moment Jesus supplied.

I could not have moved to Texas and left my precious family if I didn’t believe God loved me and would work it all for good.  Was it hard?  Of course, but not as hard as I thought it would be because God met me here.  Yes, I do miss them, and sometimes I’m sad, feeling like I’m missing out on my grandchildren’s lives.  But that doesn’t happen on the scale that I thought it would.  The Lord has given me what I need most, Himself.  He is everywhere in my life as He was (and is) in Arkansas.  He is in my new friends, our life group, our church, and my marriage, knitting Mark and me together in a deeper way.

I don’t think I have ever truly grasped this truth about faith.  I have had a distorted view. I have been searching out how to have greater faith, and God has shown me the answer is greater love.  I was overcome with emotion as God revealed this to me, just at the thought of how much He loves me, that He actually chose me to be his child. There is no reason that I could know this except for God’s grace.  I can honestly thank God for testing because I know He loves me, and He always proves Himself faithful.

I know as I get up from this writing and go about my daily business, my passion in this moment will fade, but the truth of what God has shown me will stand.  And now I’m burdened for my sisters and brothers out there, many that we see in our home for ministry, who don’t understand how much God loves them.  Oh, the mercy of God, to open my eyes and give me His heart for others.

Thank you, Lord.  I say yes; tenderize my heart for your children.  As I am learning to abide in you, my oasis, let your love flow through me to those you place in my life who need to know your love.  Jesus, I don’t have the words.  I just ask you to keep me on your path, the narrow path that is rooted in your love.  Amen.

But now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

Happy Anniversary to Shawn and Matt

Today, September 28, 2014, is a very special day.  It is my baby girl’s seventh wedding anniversary.  Shawn and Matt are the “oldest married couple” in our family!  Mark and I, my daughter Susan and Chris, and my son Steven and Jennifer all were married in 2010.  I have had tears in my eyes as I’ve looked at their wedding pictures on the computer this morning.  They are still young, but they looked really young in those pictures, yet they handled the trial our family walked through with maturity and wisdom.


If you have kept up with my posts, you know that my former husband died six weeks before Shawn’s wedding, just a few days after we had bridal portraits made. She was the one who found her dad after a frantic call from me while traveling home from out of town.  My son was with her at the house, but she was first on the scene.  I have so much pain still at the thought of it.  Twenty-three years old, happily doing all the things soon-to-be brides have to do, and then a tragic interruption.

My future son-in-law Matt, just 23, was a tower of strength.  I know he doesn’t think of himself that way.  He must have been crumbling inside, but he took care of his bride.  And if that wasn’t enough to handle, he stepped up and was strong for me.  I saw in him then the strength and faith in God and compassion that makes him the man he is today.  They have had some very rough places in their marriage.  They suffered a devastating miscarriage a few years ago that opened the door for the enemy to wreak havoc in their lives with depression and all that goes along with it.

But God restores.  May 23, 2013, the Lord blessed them with beautiful little Emma.  And although they have the same day-to-day problems all couples do, they have learned to rise above them.  As I said in my last post, the outcome of all trials if we look to God will be greater faith.  Actually, James said it first–lol–but I have experienced it personally (James 1:2-4).  Jesus said in this world we will have tribulation, but to take heart, for He has overcome the world!  The grace he gives us to overcome cannot come from anyone but Him, so our faith becomes more real and solid as we face trials in Christ.


So with love and joy in my heart, I want to wish Shawn and Matt a very happy anniversary!  Thank you for your love, care, and compassion for me as I walked through the fire and then through the years of trying to find where I fit in the life of singleness.  I know that you put your own pain aside to be there for me when I needed you.  We have shared so much, but I won’t write about it all.  (Moms tend to embarrass their children, you know!)

I pray for you Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, Ephesians 3:14-19:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in you inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God!

Love you so much!








I Have Found My Oasis

Where do I begin?  I haven’t written in quite some time.  Of course, I journal most every day.  But I’ve been waiting….waiting on the coming oasis that I wrote about last time.  And I have found it!  Oh, the inexpressible faithfulness of God!  How to describe it….you must experience it for yourself.  It is for everyone who knows Jesus.  But testimonies we hear of others build our faith, so I will be obedient to continue to tell my story.

One year ago my daughter Shawn and I were able to attend the Woman Conference at New Life Church, my home church at the time, in Conway, Arkansas.  It was amazing.  Lisa Bevere was our speaker, and I remember her main theme centered around being courageous in Christ.  It was the first time we had worshiped to Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) (Hillsong United, 2013).  And I remember clearly during the chorus, the Spirit spoke to me. The chorus of Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) is this:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,                                                                Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me.                                               Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,                                                              And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

As I worshiped with all my heart, the Spirit spoke to me and told me something was about to happen in our lives that would take great faith to walk through, but that He would be with us.  When I returned home that evening, Mark was sitting on the couch starting at the T.V.  He doesn’t watch T.V.  It was then he told me he had gotten a call from our Christian financial broker.  Having made a commitment to diversification, he had violated his own standard without our knowledge and made an unwise investment decision, and our money, along with that of the other investors, had been stolen.

We had been living on the interest on that investment to fund our ministry, Hope Preserved, since 2010.  When the Lord called Mark to this ministry, He told Him that He would have to leave his job, but that He would provide for us.  A couple of months later, his department where he worked downsized, and he was laid off.  We tried to wisely use what funds we had, and they were sustaining us. Now what we had to live on was a limited amount of money in savings and a small rent house which we soon sold.  But God said He would provide, and He is reminding us to exercise our faith in His promise.

This happened before we had ever been called to Waco, first to teach a ministry workshop (that came a couple of months after this), and then two month-long visits earlier this year to do ministry and continue to seek God’s will.  We were led to Antioch Community Church, and taken in warmly, invited to lunches and people’s homes and finally settling into an amazing life group of Christ-followers.  Through much prayer of our own and prophetic words from various persons, both in Waco and Arkansas, it became clear we were to move here.

God was leading us here to Waco to plant this ministry in a spiritual climate where we are learning humility and sacrifice and community in a way we hadn’t experienced. Precious, broken people continue to come for help, more than we can handle, but the Lord has brought someone forward who wants to learn the ministry and take some of the load.  We are able to bring some of these persons in need to our life group for prayer and words of encouragement, and our comrades are always ready to help.

Now exactly a year after the Woman Conference, Mark and I attended the World Mandate Conference hosted by Antioch Church at Baylor University.  Since we have been at this church, we have learned about God’s heart for the nations.  I am truly seeing that there is a world past my front door in middle-class America, a world for which Jesus suffered and died.

Worshiping at World Mandate with thousands of others, the Spirit reminded me of His faithfulness throughout my life. It was like a video playing in my mind of all the times the Lord had been there to sustain me, from my childhood through raising my children, through the death of my former husband and the years of widowhood, through the move to Texas and the difficulty in leaving children and grandchildren.  I was moved to tears.

And then as we began to worship to Oceans, and the Spirit spoke to me again. What did the Spirit tell me?  He said something like this,”You thought your life was winding down. Everything you had envisioned yourself doing has changed, and you haven’t known exactly where you fit in.  But you have only begun to live, really live, for me.  I love you, my daughter, and I have chosen you to be a part of my great adventure.  It will take great faith, but I will be with you. You need only to stay close to me.”

I have been walking toward the oasis, my dead branches cut off, fruitful ones pruned back, waiting on the Lord to show me what it is.  I have found it.  It is Christ!  He is the vine, my life source (John 15), and I am soaking in His Spirit.  You may be thinking, “Didn’t she already know Jesus?”  Yes, of course.  But He is showing me there is much more for me ahead, more than I could have imagined.  And I don’t have to figure it out or worry about it.  All I have to do is abide, live connected to the vine.  When we are connected to Him, the ultimate outcome of every trial will be greater faith.

Jesus, yes, I understand.  I get it, and with your help every day, I will surrender.  How could I not?  You are the lover of my soul, and you are faithful.  Forgive me for trying to make my life work in my own strength.  Fill me with your Spirit.  Submerge me in your love.  I want nothing more than to live for you the rest of my days.  I won’t try to figure out where we’re going or what we’re going to do.  I simply want to abide in you.  Rest and peace.  Freedom.  Life abundant!  Yes, Lord!

God bless you, and thank you for reading.  I know it is a very long post!

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…..I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain (abide) in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-2, 5.

An Oasis is Waiting

“You, God, are my God,

earnestly I seek you;

I thirst for you,

My whole being longs for you,

in a dry and parched land

where there is no water.”  Psalm 63:1


I see myself walking through the desert,

dead branches cut away, fruitful branches pruned.

Yet I have peace.

Stripped down to the root,

I know I am still protected.

He wants me to know He is my sufficiency.

So I keep walking.

I am thirsty but no longer satisfied by the trappings of the world.

There is an oasis ahead waiting for me,

a watering place, a place of refreshment.

I want to reach it, so I keep moving forward.

I want to be submerged in it.

It’s as though I’m going back into the womb,

and my umbilical cord is the Spirit.

I know I will emerge forever changed.


Father God, keep me on this path.

Show me how to get there.

I want to know you more intimately.

You have taken me away for yourself.

This I know is true.  Have your way in me.  Amen.


“I have seen you in your sanctuary

 and beheld your power and your glory.

 Because your love is better than life,

 my lips will glorify you.

 I will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.

 With singing lips my mouth will praise you.”

 Psalm 63:2-5.


The Answer to My Question


Growth is the epitome of incremental change, and your desire for spiritual growth requires change.  The only thing holding you back is your resistance.  You can’t keep things the way they are and grow at the same time.  Something has to give, and that would be your will.  Be willing to let go of everything that has outlived its usefulness in your environment, says the Lord.

Philippians 3:13  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.

Moving away from family for the first time as a mom and grandmother has brought me to a place of wrestling with God about who I am now.  What is logical and reasonable to my mind doesn’t fit with the resistance in my heart.  This working-it-out process with God has been painful, but He has been merciful, as He always is, in showing me truth about myself.

Born into a world that is controlled by our adversary, we begin our lives learning how to survive, to force our way in and try to find the answer to the question our hearts want to know:  “Why am I here?  Do I matter?”  We see ourselves in the faces of others and in their responses to us.  And there begins the tension.  If only we could know and accept at the early age of infancy that we are born to die:  To die to self-interest, to striving, to making our own way.  We are born to die to flesh and live in spirit, in His Spirit, in freedom.

But it is for mercy that we are not allowed to be spiritually reborn in this way, for He wants our hearts, by choice of our will, to be given to Him that He might live through us.  Is anything valuable without sacrifice?  His sacrifice on the cross proved we are valuable to Him.  The willing sacrifice of our lives proves our love to Him.  And then we can go home.  Everything stripped away:  Self-protection, futility, strife.  Our souls are now satisfied.

Weekend before last we made a quick trip home to do some repair work on the home we have for sale, and naturally I wanted to get in all the time I could with kids and grandchildren.  But it was stressful and unsatisfying.  Spending time with the Lord this week, He showed me that I was forcing my way in, frantically wanting answers to the questions in my heart:  “Are you glad to see me?  Do you still love me?  Am I still important?”  Again, tension.

I’m genuinely thankful and excited to be on this new path the Lord so clearly has led Mark and me to take, but I can’t walk down this path and keep everything the same.  I’m not an in-town grandmother anymore.  My family can’t just drop over to my house.  I can’t meet them for walks with the children.  I can’t bring them all together under my roof.  I have to let go and embrace the new path.  But I am still a mother, still a grandmother, still me.  I am just realizing how much of my identity was wrapped up in being loved and accepted by them and a part of their lives.

God spoke intimately to me through Galatians 5:16-18 in The Message:  “My counsel is this.  Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.  Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.  For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as a free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.”  Sinful self-interest.  That hit me between the eyes.  My frantic need to be loved and affirmed was all about me, which is pride, and it put me into bondage to self.

I started writing this blog over a year ago after the death of my mother.  Sitting with her through the night as her life ebbed away stirred in me a passion to find out the answer to this question:  Who did God create me to be?  And now I know.  It’s so simple that I can’t believe I didn’t see it then:  His.  I was created to be His, nothing more, nothing less, a dearly loved child of God.

Embracing the truth that my identity is in Him will bring freedom and give me the ability to love not for what I can receive, but for what I can give.  And though my interaction with family will be different living away, it will be good, and it will be healthy, and it will satisfy my heart.  Lord Jesus, I still have so much to learn about being yours.  Help me be willing to see myself as you do.  You are the one who knows me best.  Amen.


Safe Harbor

The words “safe harbor” keep coming to mind, that Christ is our safe harbor during all the storms of life.  Sometimes the water is smooth, and we sail through easily with the praise of God on our lips.  Sometimes the water is choppy, and we can manage okay if we send out a few prayer requests and dig in a little deeper into the Word.  Sometimes the seas are downright rough, but still we manage with the help of our prayer warriors and seeking godly counsel.

Then sometimes we are completely cast overboard.  We look for someone to throw us a life preserver, something we can hold onto and stay afloat, and sometimes someone does.  We can climb back in the boat, praise God for our narrow escape, and go back to living life as usual.  But sometimes there is no life preserver.  You thrash around in the water as best you can, but panic seizes you.  You realize that there is nothing or no one that can put you back on the boat.

Then in the darkness of the water, you look up, and across the waves, you can see a dancing sliver of light.  You frantically dog-paddle toward the light, and it becomes a teeny little brighter.  You think, “This is too hard.  I’m not that good of a swimmer.  I thought I was, but I don’t have the strength.”  But the light is beckoning.  And each time you bravely take a lunge toward that light, a wind seems to come up and push you a little closer.

“I am the light of the world.”  The words come from someplace deep inside of you.  “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”   “I have come so that they might have life and have it to the full.”  “For I know the plans I have for you….to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.”  The words keep coming…”Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

The Word continues to come forth from your inner being and gives you the courage to keep slowly moving forward as the light gets brighter and shows you the way.  You know those words and you know who the Word is.  “Where can I go from your spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”  You stop struggling and let the wind of the Spirit carry you home.

As a light from a lighthouse, He beckons us on until we make it safely back to harbor, safely in His arms.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  But sometimes he doesn’t allow us to get back into the boat.  He lets us feel the panic or the ache or the longing or our great need so that we will struggle our way to Him and know that He is enough.   No matter how many times we are cast into stormy seas, He will always show us the way to safety because He is the light.  And though we may lose our way for a time, in Christ we are never lost.

This post was written as an entry in my journal during my season of singleness.  I had lost my equilibrium when my former husband died.  Now seven years later, Mark and I have moved to Texas and away from family following the direction of the Lord.  It has felt at times as though I have been cast overboard as homesickness overtakes me.  I know those times may intensify, as it has only been a couple of weeks since we moved.  So to read this post that I wrote so many years ago comforts me, because I know He is with us and has a good plan for us.  Jesus continues to be my safe place, the one who holds my heart.  He is your safe place too.  No matter what you are going through, look for Him.  Run to Him.  He is faithful.  He will carry you through.  And if you will say yes to His will, it will be an amazing ride.

Following Jesus to Texas

What do you do when Jesus says, “Follow me”?  His command is quite literal, but most of us live our lives unwittingly telling Jesus to follow us.  “Lord, follow me while I buy a new house or pursue this business venture or plan this vacation.  Protect me from making a bad decision.  Catch me when I fall.  And thank you so much for blessing me.”  It is the way I’ve lived most of my life, not wanting to truly believe that He requires me to give up everything.

The problem is we forget God is sovereign, and truly we think we are, not so much in a conscious way, but we think we are in control.  As a result, we take on all kinds of stress by trying to make our lives work according to the standards of our culture.  The Lord brought the following verses to mind in rapid succession this morning:

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  James 4:14-15.

You are not your own; you were bought with a price.  I Corinthians 6:19-20.

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “No one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come, eternal life.”  Luke 18:29-30.

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to you a heart of wisdom.        Psalm 90:12.

Giving up everything means giving up control.  It means holding things loosely.  It means living with a kingdom mindset, meaning everything belongs to God, including our very lives, and is to be used for His purposes and His glory.  It means simply trusting Him and believing Him when He says He will take care of us.

One week from today we will be moving into a duplex in Hewitt, Texas, just outside of Waco.  Our house has not sold yet.  Our children and grandchildren are all here in Conway or Little Rock, except for one daughter in school in Memphis.

My Mother's Day present from daughter Shawn.

My Mother’s Day present from daughter Shawn.

Our friends are here.  Our ministry was birthed here.  We are trusting God for our very provision, because Jesus has said, “Follow me here.”  If we had the slightest doubt, we wouldn’t be going.  But He has given us loads of confirmation, so much that not to go would be disobedience.

These words by Oswald Chambers describe it best:

“If a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he must risk everything by his leap in the dark. In the spiritual realm, Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense, and leap by faith into what He says. Once you obey, you will immediately find that what He says is as solidly consistent as common sense.

By the test of common sense, Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad, but when you test them by the trial of faith, your findings will fill your spirit with the awesome fact that they are the very words of God. Trust completely in God, and when He brings you to a new opportunity of adventure, offering it to you, see that you take it.”  Excerpt From: Chambers, Oswald. “My Utmost for His Highest, Enhanced Edition,” May 30.

Jesus, the time has come.  Faith for the journey-that’s all I ask.  Thank you for trusting Mark and me with this assignment.  You have blessed us so much already.  I can hear the words to Misty Edwards’ song in my head right now, “The point of life is you.”  (Forerunner Music, International House of Prayer.)  Have your way, Lord Jesus.  We love you.  Amen.

Here is an interview with Misty Edwards you will enjoy:

Not that I have already obtained all this or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:12-14.

Losing Chelsea

Unconditional love:  Is that why God created pets?  I think so.  They can’t do anything for us except show us unconditional love.  They will survive on a minimal amount of attention, but they will thrive on love lavished on them.  We are like God to them.  We determine when they will eat, when they will go out and come in, where they will sleep, and if they get a walk or playtime with a ball.  They watch our every move.  I like to call them “eternal optimists.”

Chelsea was special because no one wanted her when Mark found her being offered for adoption on a store parking lot.  She had been abused and would have surely been put down if he hadn’t taken her.  But just like in ministry, my husband is drawn to those who have no hope and need to know the unconditional love and healing of Jesus.

Mark and my stepdaughter Michelle loved this funny little dog that could jump a six-foot fence and run faster than a speeding bullet to catch a ball or a Frisbee.  Slowly trust was built, and Chelsea had found her safe place in her new home.  When I came on the scene, she had to have time to accept me and my dog Maggie, but she did, and we became part of “the pack.”

Chelsea was gentle and affectionate with us but very wary of strangers.  She didn’t want to be away from her people and would take the screens off the windows to try to get in if left too long outside.  As a result, we still have no screens on any of our windows.  She would never leave our yard even if she jumped the fence, but would come scratch on the front door or just wait for us to come home if we were gone.  She liked to sneak up on our white couch in the front room, leaving her dark hair all over the sticky fabric.  That drove me nuts.  But she was part of the family, and we loved her just the way she was.

A few weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon, we took Chelsea and Chloe, our little Bichon, to my daughter and son-in-law’s house and put them in the backyard with their dog while we all left to attend our grandson Colton’s birthday party.  Our house is for sale and was going to be shown that afternoon, so we couldn’t leave the dogs at home.  When we went back to pick them up after the party, Chelsea was gone.  She hadn’t wanted us to leave her there, but we didn’t think she would leave their yard.  No doubt she was looking for Mark.

The search began.  Driving, driving, and more driving.  Handing out fliers, talking to everyone we saw outside.  Posting on websites for lost pets, posting fliers around town.  Even after Mark had hip surgery that Monday, he was back out there with his crutches looking the very next day.  Family members and some friends tirelessly searched.  Michelle’s boyfriend Spencer came in from Memphis and searched day and night for three days, followed by Michelle when she got a day off from work.  Our daughter-in-law Jenn drove around many days with babies in tow in carseats.  Hopeful leads came in, but all were a dead-end.

How long do you continue to search?  In the end, we know that she is God’s dog as are all things He created.  There has to be a release, but when a dog is lost, there is no closure.  I cannot imagine the anguish of parents with missing children.  When my little Maggie died because of an auto-immune response to tic fever, I was able to hold her and say goodbye with my family gathered around.  Mark would have liked to have that kind of closure as well.

Now I’m asking the Lord what it is He wants to teach us through this experience.  And I think I know.  He too loves us unconditionally.  We are completely dependent on Him to save us, or we will perish for all eternity.  There is nothing we can do to earn His love and nothing we can do to lose it.  All we have to do is say yes to Him and receive.  He hurts when we hurt.  And He will come looking for us if we wander away.

Most of all, I’m brought to the realization once again that love and pain go hand in hand.  If we didn’t love, we wouldn’t grieve over the loss of who we love.  When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He bore the physical pain of crucifixion and emotional pain of separation from the Father.  He loved us when we were unlovable, bruised by the enemy and hurt by the world.  If I can trust that Jesus would do that for me, then I can surely trust Him with the life of our little pets that bring us so much joy.  And I can praise him for enlarging our hearts, for to not know sorrow is to not know love, and to not know love is to not truly live.

Chelsea, you were a good dog.  Maybe you will show up one day, or maybe you are already jumping and running in heaven.  Jesus, thank you for bringing more of the knowledge of how you love us through our time with this little dog.  Wherever she may be, we will trust that she is safely in your care now.  Amen.