Photo By: Laura Ruth

Photo By: Laura Ruth

There are moments when every part of me is dry.  I need quenched and in the long, dry moments I often don’t know what to say.  How do I articulate my need?  If we need, truly, we are helpless.  Not in the way of physicality, but utterly void of ability to help our spiritual condition.  We have to come to that moment poor.  We must give up control and say, “OH LORD, fill me!” He wants to meet with you!

While retreating, it came to my attention that plants begin to revive immediately upon receiving water.  We just need to get into the streams of his goodness and let HIM restore us.  If you’ve known a barren land, a needy field, perhaps you can relate to the poem below.  It was written, just weeks ago now, by a woman who dared to be still.  Jesus met her and poured out healing rain.   May it be rain for you.

Gather Me Up

My soul is a dry parched land

and my mind is a shattered piece of glass

I cough out the dust

and kick the broken shards to the sky

Oh Lord, Gather me up

Oh Lord, fill my spirit

Oh Lord, Gather me up

Oh Lord, Quench my thirsty soul

My feet won’t move toward you

and my hands are fists swinging wide

I scream out your name in pain

and cry out for healing rains

Oh Lord, Gather me up

Oh Lord, quench my thirsty soul

Oh Lord, Gather me up!

2011- Melissa Duckworth

(to learn more about the author see:



Photo By: Kasia Koniar

Sometimes, I just need to get away.  I had forgotten this and must admit I wasn’t really aware of my need as I left to retreat with God and a host of women just a few weekends ago.   I signed up for one reason, well, two:  my conceptual brain connected with the topic they’d chosen (water) and maybe, I’d finally hear more than one sentence from the women I’d been passing by lately.  Maybe God would just do HIS thing.

Sometimes we just need to get away.  Break in routine does something special and furiously rude to life.  It makes us look at our world differently, if only for a moment.  So, due to a weekend where my world halted, just enough, the blog, too, gets its BREAK into something new for a moment.  Stopping suddenly to make way for something else may be not only a change of pace, but also something we were born for.   Enjoy this journey into stories, poems and revelations; and take a moment to “retreat.”  God is waiting to meet you in your parched place.

Isaiah 41:17-20

17 The oppressed and the poor look for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched from thirst. I, the Lord, will respond to their prayers; I, the God of Israel, will not abandon them.

18 I will make streams flow down the slopes and produce springs in the middle of the valleys. I will turn the desert into a pool of water and the arid land into springs.

19 I will make cedars, acacias, myrtles, and olive trees grow in the wilderness; I will make evergreens, firs, and cypresses grow together in the desert.

20 I will do this so people will observe and recognize, so they will pay attention and understand that the Lord’s power has accomplished this, and that the Holy One of Israel has brought it into being.”



Photo By: Kasia Koniar

I’ve always loved the idea of a masquerade ball.  Perhaps because I’ve never been to one, unless you include movies watched, and I find even movies aren’t made up primarily of balls and pretty masks.  I always wondered why a mask was so fruitful in knocking people off someone’s trail, when I could see, plain as day, that holding up a stick with some pretty beads and feathers on it, just doesn’t change anyone’s hair color nor does it affect their shoe size, ring size or canter.

In the same way, the masks we wear don’t alter what’s really going on inside.  We can say “fine,”   to the inevitable, “how are you?” that will be thrown our way, but if we’re putting on pearls and our attic is a mess, our attic is still a mess.  Let’s face it, hurt is hurt … junk is junk.

I was reminded today that our world is increasingly “positive savvy.”  You may hear things like, the power of positive thinking and changing your life via positive thought process.   We’re being taught that the way to success and happiness is being positive.

Granted, there is nothing wrong with positivity.  I like it; and if I work with you I hope you’re positive, because that’s just nicer to deal with.  But, let’s get real for a minute and think about what’s going on around us.  Did you look?  Did you stop and think about the lives around you … about your life?

If we are continually positive and that’s where our power lies we have nothing.  Emptying your mind and getting some “good vibes” is not going to be enough when everything around you is crumbling.  When the one thing you love most is stripped away you will become bare, broken and without hope, wondering how happiness was ever part of your vocabulary.

And when we smile and say, “I’m good!”  Are we lying?  Sometimes we just don’t want to let people in.  But if just one person knew the real us, how many masks would they see?

Jesus was known for entering into people’s pain.  In the story of Lazarus in John 11 Jesus has planned to heal Lazarus.  He tells Mary and Martha, “Your brother will come back to life again.” (vs.23) But they think he’s talking about the resurrection.  Jesus says to them: “ I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live even if he dies and the one who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”

Later when Jesus sees Mary weeping along with the crowd of mourners he is “moved in spirit and greatly distressed.”  And as he asks where they laid him, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

Why would a man, knowing the outcome of the situation weep?  Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.  That’s something to rejoice in! In just a few moments Lazarus would be alive, but in that moment Mary was hurting.  In that moment the mourners did not understand and so Jesus enters into their pain.  He loves them enough to meet them right where they are and bring them to the point of understanding.

And aren’t we just like Mary?  We’re hurting.  Some of us are through the pain, some of us are in its depths, but none of us are immune from its presence.  And wherever we are it’s likely we don’t see the full picture just yet.  We’re waiting for the resurrection that we’re not quite sure is around the bend.  We’re living daily, wondering how much more we can really take.

And what happens when we “go positive?”  We feel guilty about how we really feel in those moments of weakness.  “Everyone else is so positive, they must not be dealing with all the things I am.  I must be the only one.”  And we begin to isolate.  We start to withdraw and the pain that we feel is not entered into by anyone.

Denying what’s welling up inside us, we push our emotions down until we’re crippled, unable to enter into others pain, unable to truly help others when they are hurting, because we’ve not walked through our own journey with honesty.

But Jesus wants to walk with us through the pain.  He’s in it all.   He calms the storm and has entered into our pain in the deepest way.  God sent his son so we can be free of the chains the enemy would bind us with.  He sees your today.  He knows your masks and he is victorious over them all.  Let him have your life.  Know him.  The question is for you: Do you believe this?

Just like Mary and Martha you have a choice too.  Do you believe God’s son?  He’s honest with you in letting you know there is life in his name.  He is honest with you in letting you know there will be pain in this life.  But he is also true to his word when He says He has overcome!  Believe the One in whom true happiness is found. He will bring to light your masks and you can drop them at his feet.



Photo By: Kasia Koniar

Your name is a strong and mighty tower, your name is a shelter like no other, your name, let the nations sing it louder … nothing has the power to save, but your name…

I looked ahead, through the rows of heads.  Towards the front was a little girl.  She was shorter than the crowd. Her golden-red locks are a mystery now (were they locks or braids?) not mattering nearly as much as the finger she had pointed to the sky.  Pressed, high above her head, was one finger extended out against the rest … and she was stretching towards the one who made this moment.  “Your name” rang softly around me like a chorus I’d never really heard well before.  I heard only those words, as the rest of the song faded in the presence of a tiny index finger.  It began to point higher, faster … as if to say, “He’s the one! Don’t you see it!?  I know this!  And I’ve met him! He’s the ONE!!!”

I looked around … tears blurred my sight and I realized she was the only one.  This girl, probably about 7 years old, was the only hand raised in that moment.  I felt like a fly, on the wallpaper of a moment so precious only God knew the heart of it.   In reality, only he does.   But I was standing, watching, and He was covering me with his love through her.   She was pouring love on me with no comprehension of my existence.

And as the music played she danced with no reaction from the friend sitting beside her.  Still, she danced.  It was not invasive or annoying to the people around her, but a dance nonetheless.  We were here, at a non-denominational service, 11:30 am, and I was witnessing beauty. And when the time was right another hand went up beside her; and they worshiped together.  Perhaps it was her mother?  I imagined this was so.  Perhaps this was something they shared in moments no one else saw.  But, what I thought didn’t matter.  This moment was, and this mattered.

How often have you wanted to make a difference?  You came to serve and give your life and serve you did … you did it well.  You thought that by doing, you’d somehow bless others and that would bless God.  And perhaps, in the process you’d become closer to Him.  Perhaps this God thing would just rub off.

God’s way of doing things is different than our own.  His plan for us includes timing, where the burden is light and our spirit rejoices in the ease of His presence.  Often we take his plan and timing, smacking it around until it becomes something burdened and broken.   If only we would listen.

In the beginning, God established relationship with his creation.  He walked and talked with them until they did the one thing they were not meant for.  And everything changed … almost.  God did not change in his love for them.  HE still pursued their hearts.  He still asked the difficult questions.  And God did not stop the story of healing for mankind.  He wants relationship with us!

So he tells us: ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.  Matthew 22:37-40

So often we manage to miss commandment one and favor commandment two.  We flip them, placing a burden on our shoulders. We see the benefit of helping others, of loving them and serving them.  But, we’ve forgotten that God has to come first.  He has to be our first love or the service … the loving others, will become a bondage.

Is God so mysterious that we can’t love Him?  Or is it that we don’t believe because He is so other than we are?   The beautiful thing about this mystery is that it’s given to us; and He’s not hiding.  He’s opened His life to us, His home, His story, and He is our family if we have given Him our life.  And you understand family, right?

There are rows and rows of people just waiting for help; and if we take a moment to really see what’s around us … whose around us, the weight of the world would crush anyone.  ‘So, we’d better get started,’ we think.  But, God has already finished the work.

He sees, He knows, and He’s there.  Each of us has a part to play, but if we’re missing HIM, we miss it all.

God’s ways are so other than our own.  When we throw ourselves at his feet, laugh in the light of his presence, dance with his arms around us, and LISTEN … He just pours out.   We are changed when we encounter the Lord.  His word becomes a lamp to our feet, we are protected and fed in the desert and water pours out from the most unlikely places.

Enjoying Jesus will always bless others.  You won’t be able to help it!  God showed up today and poured his love over me as a little girl chose to lift her arms in worship.  She didn’t know I existed, but God did.  Don’t you see?  It’s His work, it’s His molding and making that is being accomplished; and none of us are the Potter.

So, let yourself be molded. Look to HIM, LOVE HIM with all your heart, your entire mind and all your soul.  He’ll see to your overflow … even if you don’t know it’s happening.

in the parlor

Photo By: Christa Kimble

Photo By: Christa Kimble

“She packed it all and headed South.” That’s how this story began.

I moved to Nashville in 2004, in love and prepared to start a new life, whatever that meant.  Post college a few years I still felt I wasn’t quite old enough to marry, to live on my own, to be me. But I was … still waiting to hear God say, “GO!”

You know that moment when you just know what you’re meant to do, where you’re meant to go, who you’re meant to be? Neither did I. Some call it purpose, some mission, others identity.  Somehow, no matter how you look at it they’re all wrapped up together.

I knew my identity was found in Jesus.  I had given him my life; we were pals.   And, I had a purpose.  Marriage was right around the corner and planning ensued, giving me multiple daily missions to accomplish.  Once the wedding day was over, family gone, I was alone with the man I was to spend life with and all of a sudden, many other daily missions.  I was learning what my new world looked like and in that came a question that would gnaw at my identity.

“What do you do?”  It was inevitable.  Every new person I met and sometimes those who knew me, would throw out the line as if it’s answer would determine our relational fate.   What did I do?  Cook.  Clean.  Be a wife.  I hadn’t figured out a career path yet and wasn’t sure I wanted one.

The question kept coming.  I’d play around with my answer.  None of them seemed satisfactory.  And in the world of 30-40 something’s that knew exactly what they did and what they did want, I was lost in a big way.  It didn’t seem to matter WHO I was, they just wanted to know what I DID (for a living)?

FIRST of all:  I’d just gotten married – give me a break!

SECOND:  Did I really have to DO something to BE viable?  To be worthy?  To be enough? To be your friend?

And, if I wasn’t enough as I was, what was there to reach for?

Fear of man (basically what everyone else thought of me) had me wound up and I was sinking in its muck and mire.  I was trying to perform and I felt lost, unimportant and unloved.

Oh, I knew I was loved.  Grant and I had a solid relationship.  I could even talk to him about feeling lost and unimportant and unloved, but I wanted so badly to just have one girl friend.  One friend that knew me like Jesus does… Who was I kidding?

I do this occasionally.  If you have a husband and you’ve ever wanted them to be just a bit more like a woman you’ll understand.  Otherwise, you’ll just think that was a weird sentence.  In this instance I wanted a friend who would know me enough upon first glance to care and walk into my life and say yes, you’re important.  I love you.  Let’s hang out.  I want to know you.  We belong together.  There are so many things I want to tell you.  What would you like to tell me?  I can’t believe we didn’t talk sooner!  I’d like to make snow angels when the snow falls.  I’m coming over for a sandwich.  Talk to me.  I’ll wait for you to speak.  I’ll listen.  Take your time.  And on and on it goes.

Yes, I wanted a true friend …  one that really cared to know me.  And Jesus was the only one who cared.  And instead of inviting him over for coffee, I was sitting at his feet asking for friends.

And the question kept coming and I kept trying to find an answer that would make my counterpart smile and somehow fill a void that was growing deeper everyday.  I knew Jesus was everything, but what about my career?

It was cyclical.  Run to Jesus and live in peace for a day and then, go out into the fray and get asked the inevitable question.  Each time I let myself become discouraged because I didn’t know where I was headed.  I didn’t have a career and everyone around me was living a life that said career was everything.  And at the time, I had forgotten who I was.  And after all, God never said GO.

He had said, ” Wait.”  Wait upon me and I will renew your strength.  Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)  I was weary.  I was tired of fighting my own battles.  I was tired of not understanding my way.  I was tired of knowing Jesus and going in and out of head and heart seasons that didn’t make sense.   I just wanted rest, and friendship.   And, Jesus wanted to be that friend.

It wasn’t that we’d not been friends before.  I’d been coming to his parlor now for some time.  But, this was a step into the kitchen.  Jesus didn’t just want to be my parlor friend.  He’d been bringing the food in for a long time, but he was asking me now to come on in.  He was saying I had to want Him.  I had to seek Him with all my heart.  That done,  God promised I would find Him.  He honors a heart that seeks him truly and he offers that promise to YOU!

I had to remember (and he began to remind) that this is who I was: I belonged to Him.  He bought me and I live IN HIM.  And IN HIM I was made HIS inheritance … we were made His inheritance.  (Ephesians 1:11) The value we place on our earthly possessions is nothing compared to our value as Christ’s inheritance.  He loves you! Begin to know and get a glimpse of just how vast that love is.

leaving. loving.


Photo By: Christa Kimble

I’m a leaver. It’s my M.O. When I get angry I need to think about why and processing emotions, reason and layers of motive often makes me withdraw to my bubble, which, to my confrontational husband, is hurtful not helpful.

And it doesn’t matter if I’m trying to save him the pain of the blathering I don’t even understand  … he still needs me to stay and I still want to run.

I think he has yet to learn how predictable I really am, but 99% of the time I want to be chased.  The leaving gives me time to breathe and think and then I want a savior. I want him to come after me, to hug me, to tell me it’s ok and then talk our hurt through until we’ve realized it’s not such a big mess.

But, that doesn’t happen 99 percent of the time, because I communicate with my mouth the exact opposite sentiment.  “Leave me alone! And don’t follow me!”  I actually mean that for about 5 minutes.  When the steam blows over and I’m sitting alone, realizing how blessed I am and how ridiculous we’re being I just want to be chased.

Granted, it’s not the most comfortable pursuit and the first moment you lock eyes after the meltdown are an exact misery of pain and love and heartache.  Who’s going to give in?   Who’s right?  Does it matter?

And in the end it’s usually about our expectations being shattered, appreciation lost because we’re putting ourselves first and our identities shaken because we’ve started to believe the lies we didn’t know were hiding in the closet.

It happened to us in our first year of marriage:

We were learning, beautifully, how to live in the same space, share a bathroom and sleep at night in the same bed.  But none of these things were challenging compared to the single most horrific obstacle in our marriage …  aesthetic dorm room ugliness.

In his bachelor days Grant had a system by which he organized socks, underwear and t-shirts using an old laundry basket with holes cut in the bottom. It was genius – in and out, no folding necessary.   It was also stored behind a tall wooden wall that was our temporary headboard and from the moment I saw it I knew I was in trouble.

“This HAS to go.”  I said it like it was fact.  The eyes that stared back at me said this was definitely not an option and I would not be changing this.  My heart dropped in my chest and I argued.  I presented my reasons and told Grant that his system was ugly.  Bad idea!

We battled for weeks.  I suggested options and Grant shot them down.  I was beginning to feel like I didn’t matter.  My opinions didn’t count and deep inside I was weary of trying … trying to fix this, trying to create a haven, a home, trying.  Truth was I didn’t know how to do this.  I desperately wanted it all to change and instead of hearing my heart for our home Grant felt attacked.  By wanting to change this, to remove this thing he felt so strongly about he somehow saw me saying he wasn’t enough.  He wasn’t good enough and because I had spoken clearly about the ugliness of the system I was stomping all over the man God had created him to be.

Instead of encouraging him and rejoicing with him in the system he’d created I was speaking words of condemnation.  Instead of loving one another and coming to a solution we were set deep against one another, our own desires taking precedence and everything that came out of our mouths issued our selfish tendencies.

It all came to a head one day and I caved, unable to take the weeks of pressure that had been mounting due to the presence of the system and my lack of understanding regarding how this was affecting Grant.  In a fitful rage I slammed as many doors as I could and left my husband at his desk, stunned into laughter at the sheer insanity of my actions.

I did return.  I always do.  And the talking began.  We understood the need for communication, but in that moment I still wanted to run.  I loved grant and did not want to fight.  I surrendered to the fact I had no solution to the issue at hand.  And, with no solution came no change.   We moved forward in love and I began a silent battle I should have begun long before.

I began to pray daily about Grant’s system and the wall that was up in our bedroom, asking God what His solution could be.   I’m not a visionary when it comes to building things.  I just saw the wall and it made me want to cry.

I then pulled in my accountability partner.  I told her about our fight and the struggle this had all been and she began to pray with me that God would present the solution and Grant’s heart would be open to receive it.  We were also praying that God would change my heart.

A few days later I stood in our bedroom staring at the wall.  In a split second, a vision appeared before me of a built in wall unit with drawers and doors.  In the middle was a place for Grant’s system to be built in beautiful wood and it would clearly be a space saver.  Upon first look it seemed to be covered in silver.   I was almost knocked off my feet.  What had just happened?

For the first time in weeks my heart felt full.  I was smiling, jumping up and down inside, knowing God had provided the solution.  Now all I had to do was deliver the message in the proper manner.

I prayed that God would go before me … that Grant would be receptive.  I walked confidently before him and shared with him God’s idea for the new system.  It honored his system.  It told him I loved and appreciated his talents and I knew he could build this.  This was going to be a new project for him (super attractive) and all of a sudden, we were in a place of unity.  Our distance and selfish goals faded and we embarked on God’s plan for HIS system.

It was here I learned to take it all to Jesus.  He is interested in the details.  He was interested in OUR best … in this case, a system that was beautiful and a marriage of unity!   And only He knew what to do and how to do it.  He revealed to me the damage I had done by verbally assaulting “the system.”  It was a thing, but it was important to the one I loved.  By assaulting it, I had assaulted him.

My identity was frail.  I’d believed the lie that beauty … a haven for my family, was more important than my family itself.  It wasn’t what I would have said I believed, but I was living it.  In the way I was walking and talking, I was stomping on the lives of the ones I loved most and believing that because I was right in this one thing I was justified.

Jesus wants to take our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh.   He will do it.  Say YES!

I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them; I will remove from them their hearts of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 11:19

highly invested


Photo By: Laura Ruth

The Lord remembers us and will bless us.  He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron; He will bless those who fear the Lord – small and great alike.  Psalm 115: 12-13

Dishes, laundry and deep cleaning are some of the most profound moments.  It was here this past week that I recognized a newly formed lie.   I believed God wasn’t thinking about me.  If we speak the truth in our heart there are these moments … the ones where we “feel” God forgot about us.   We think surely he must have bigger problems he’s handling.  Perhaps we’re “too far gone” and he doesn’t really want to deal with the likes of us.  On and on the lists go and we start to believe lies we allow to penetrate deep into our heart until we are so blinded we can’t even see the God whose been cradling us the entire time.

So, God … in his matter of fact, over the top, amazing love way… gave me my reminder.

My husband is one of the most tech-savvy men I know.  If I have a computer problem, I ask him and he always knows what to do.  I am SO blessed to have him!  Keeping up with technology is important for his work (and probably just fun) and I’ve watched as he’s changed our technological world, as I would never have been able to do.  Yes, I would still be using dial up.

In the process, I started liking his Mac.   I had a PC and Grant had a Mac (silver and beautiful).  Keep in mind, there is nothing about the operating system itself, I knew anything about.  I just thought it was pretty.   In comparison, my little PC was looking well, not p.c.   But, I was thankful, loving my operational skills!

A few months later, having forgotten about my hearts yearning for the silver Mac, Grant comes home and informs me that he’s getting a new computer and I’m getting the silver Mac.  I’m not sure what my face registered, but inside I was jumping up and down.  And this was the moment God placed his finger on my heart and said, Lois, I see you … I want to give you good things.

When you know God knows everything about you and still chooses to give you good things it’s overwhelming.  I knew in that moment God was gifting me his heart.  This was more than a computer with a pretty silver cover and a glossy screen.   God was letting me know that though I hadn’t mentioned it, he knew me … my heart, my desires and he just wanted to say … I remember you.

This word remember isn’t just an, “oops, I just remembered I forgot my sunglasses” right after you’ve locked your front door kind of word.   Remember, in this verse, means to take notice of, to recall, to actually call to mind.  It is causing to be remembered and keeping in remembrance, mentioning, recording, and memorializing YOU!  God is keeping YOU on the forefront of His mind.  And, he talks about you.  Wrap your mind around that!

And there’s more.  He wants to BLESS YOU.   There is a promise here, with condition. He WILL bless those who fear the Lord – small and great alike.    God has the authority to bless.  We have the choice to fear the Lord or oppose him.    Fear the Lord.   Those who fear the Lord walk in blessing.  So, what does that mean?

Fear means to revere, stand in awe of, respect, to honor … some versions actually say loyal followers.  Instead of living in “fear” in the sense of being scared we literally stand in awe of God.  We walk in awe of God and that awe changes how we operate.

It doesn’t say He will bless those who are perfect or he will bless those who always go to church.  NO.  He will bless those who fear the Lord.  That is something that we can’t do on our own.  We surrender our lives and the Holy Spirit works in us what we could never work in ourselves.

But, I’m mostly remembering one thing.  God remembers me.  He remembers you.  He’s not forgotten us.  He is highly invested in us NOW, so much that we’re on his mind ON PURPOSE.

off the top

Photo By: Laura Ruth

Photo By: Laura Ruth

Set them apart in the truth; Your word is truth.  John 17:17

I saw it stacked beautifully atop the other Rolos.   It wasn’t sticking out or falling down, but it was calling my name and I didn’t have 50 cents.  It really didn’t occur to me to ask my mother for the money, but I doubt she would have offered anyway.  I was only five and she was protecting me (protecting our home) from sugar overdose.

I looked at the caramel colored wrapper, looked at Mom, and when her head was slightly turned I pulled that roll of Rolos off the top of its beautifully stacked pile and shoved it effortlessly in my pocket.

We made it out the door, but not to the car when I heard, “What is that!?”  My mom has a keen eye and I was feeling a little more than obvious.  Pulling the package out of my pocket, having already denied its presence, I felt the gaze now of our whole little town.   I was charged with walking back through the doors that clanged my presence and up to the counter to make my public confession.

In the end, it was just humiliating.  I knew I had stolen, but I was more miffed that I’d been caught.  Up until the catching I’d felt no remorse.  I’d been so eager to eat candy I would have done anything to get it.  To this day I can’t quite resist that caramel colored packaging.

It seems funny now, but I was operating in my Lois “I want candy now” flesh.  I was so far down the road of desire I was willing to take something that wasn’t mine and not feel any kind of remorse EXCEPT, I got caught and I don’t like disappointing people.  I then moved into needing approval from everyone … my parents, the people I stole from, my brothers, and I felt shame because other people had seen this.  But I still didn’t feel that taking the candy was wrong.

But, God said that taking the candy was wrong.   You must not steal. Deut. 5:19 So, shouldn’t I think that too?  At the time, I didn’t know what God thought about stealing.  I did know my parents didn’t like it very much.  I was young and learning.  We’re all still young and learning.  But, when we know truth, that’s what sets us free.  It also gives us a choice.   We can walk in it or run from it.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.   John 8:32

Though I didn’t know it, God was in the process of purifying my little life in that moment.  My sin had been on display and my heart, still in confusion was something only He could work out the details of.  Even at such a young age I was messed up in the most serious way … broken, and needing Jesus.  Not even my parents knew the place I was in due to my desire for candy.

It all came clear, however.  I don’t remember when or where, but I knew I was wrong.  I knew stealing was not of God.  It was not his choice.  But, more than that my heart of greed was not from him.  Here was a God who gave his life for me and at the beginning of my childhood I was greedily stealing Rolos.   Had I not said Yes to God, I can only imagine the depths of despair I would have pursued, blind to the reason for my unhappiness.

We are set apart in this truth for special use.   As Jesus prayed for his disciples he asked His father to set them apart in truth, declaring His word is truth.   I realized today that Jesus was set apart, in this truth, so I could be.   We are able to be set apart for “special use” because Jesus was set apart, betrayed in a garden, to die on a tree, where I should have paid the penalty for all my depravity.  But, that would have meant that you would have to pay your penalty and your neighbor would have to pay theirs.  We all deserve death and yet, God is handing us a lifeline.

Instead of thousands upon thousands of deaths, sacrifices for sin that are never enough, God sent his son, Jesus.  He died once, for all of us, and that is a gift so unfathomable you just say yes.  Trying to understand the depths of it will take WAY more than a lifetime and yet, when you say yes … something happens that causes it all to make sense.

In his blog, pages in the story of our life, Jameson Allen puts it this way:

“At the same time that GOD is calling Israel to be clean, holy, set apart, and without blemish, HE also tells them repeatedly,that ‘I am the one who sanctifies you.’ It may seem like this text is giving countless rules for how we can make ourselves free from sin, but according to this passage, it is quite clear that GOD is the ONE who sanctifies us …”

(to read more visit … )

It is he who sets us apart and he who by his blood has bought us.  Baffling, perhaps.  But, stand in awe and say YES!  We’re about to see what He says about us.

agree with love


Photo By: Laura Ruth

In Him was life and that life was the light of men.  John 1:4

I write to you, dear ones, to remind us:

Before we can really understand who we are, we must know who HE is.  Re-reading that statement it seems rather grand and sweeping.  “As if!”  I’m saying here that we must know HIM: where he comes from, what he plans, his desires for us, the character that informs how he lives.  And most of all, I’m saying we CAN know Him.  Possible is just one word to describe the great journey of living life with Jesus.  But you don’t have to wait for your pastor to download the goods into you.  Jesus wants to be your teacher!

I write these pages to encourage you who know Jesus … belong to HIM, walk with HIM, rejoice IN Him and suffer on behalf of Him.  I pray if you’re far away that God will open your eyes and perhaps something here will spark LIFE for you in a new way.

To be saved:

If you’re headed for the emergency room, there’s a good chance that whatever you’ve done (or haven’t done) to warrant this is not something you can handle.  Granted, there are exceptions.  But, if using this facility properly, you ARE in some form of pain (on a scale of 1-10) on arrival!  And usually, the events that follow are beyond your control.

All that to say … you can’t do it … YOU CAN NOT save yourself.  We TRY all the time.  We try to fix our problems, our marriages, our relationships … all without God’s help.  But, He IS our help.   HE WANTS TO SAVE!  And, it’s really much better than that. He already has!


Save is considered by many in the Christian community to be a nice term for a heaven ticket.  “Jesus died so we can get into heaven when we die.”   That’s just part of God’s plan.

The word for save means a complete protection … a wholeness and deliverance that comes not just upon our bodies failing, but here on earth as well.  This is what relationship is about … allowing God to save us, to help us, to heal us.  But we have to be honest with him.  It’s the basis of any good relationship.  Do you need to yell at God?  He’s the only one I know who can actually handle that.   Do you need to whisper a secret? He just wants your heart … raw, honest and weak.

This is what GOD, in HIS LOVE has done for us: He made it possible for us to be IN Jesus who became wisdom from God for us.  He became our right standing.  He made us pure and special.  And he rescued us from dying a permanent death and living in lies.  All of these things He has done and we receive the benefit when we give up living for us.

Back to Basics:

I was guilty.  I was sick, broken, wounded. You name it, I had it … I,LOIS.

God knew, before he created the world, that HE would create me … that he would create YOU.

There was a garden, once upon a time, where man walked and talked with God, free from the prison that comes from deception, but not from its temptation; and, one day, man chose to be bound.  The lie was that he would be like God.  The reality was death.   Instead of walking without shame, he hid from the one he had come to share life with.

So, something had to be done.  God knew he would send His son.  Jesus was born to a woman named Mary, who’d married a man named Joseph. But, Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit.  He was fully man, but also completely God.   He was the only option for peace in relationship with God.

Because man had chosen death over God, relationship had been destroyed.  There were two options:  1) Death forever or 2) someone must pay for the crimes committed (yes, committed – remember how God knew I was going to be born? He also knew my crimes).  But, who could pay? Only someone perfect … Jesus.

So he and my guilt and my pain and my sorrow and struggle and heartache were nailed to a cross … every pain from this dark and broken world was crushing him.   He died rejected, wounded, spat upon, naked, and all my shame bled there that day.

Three days later the tomb they had placed him in was empty, Jesus was in possession of the keys to hell and I had a choice … LIFE or DEATH?  Sounds simple enough.  But, everyday we choose death.  We praise “fill in the blank” over God and choose a lie instead of truth.  Deceit is a tricky business.


Confess means to say the same thing as.  When we confess our sin we are agreeing with God that we have sin.   He says we have sin, so we do too. (for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23) We are admitting ourselves guilty of what we are accused of and are declaring it openly.   And this is the place of freedom.  To know that what Jesus says about me is right and true, but is meant to unlock my chains and lead me into LIFE abundant.

If you’ve never met Jesus, agree with HIM and ask him to visit you! He will meet you where you are.

Change YOUR mind:

I’ve always been somewhat indecisive.  This is not helpful at restaurants or while parking your vehicle and it often hurts your chances of being liked in the fast lane ANYWHERE.  But there’s one place changing your mind can be a good thing.   Repentance is a word we often hear in church and it literally means to think differently for the better … to heartily amend with abhorrence one’s past sins.  It follows that this is not just with language, but with action.

And when we say YES to Jesus we do this.  We change our mind.  And this process should continue as God continues to refine us.  As God does the work that only he can do in us, we’ll begin to see things we didn’t see before and, a change of mind will take place.  We recognize the difference and agree with God.

So, he’s saved us … but we have to say YES!  We agree with him and change our mind, which eventually changes our step.  We can reject HIM.  We can choose death.  But, we have the privilege, because of His obedience on the cross, of choosing relationship … seeing Him smile.

And so it begins … My betrayal and God’s great sacrifice.  This is the heart of God for you: I love you!

half the battle


If you haven’t made it to etsy yet, I’d recommend a perusal.  For those of us who like art, vintage and color coordination it’s the perfect combo.  My day has been spent gazing mindlessly at the color once or twice and I catch myself to realize etsy has to be put on hold for now.  It’s our nature to become extreme.

This month I’ve been transitioning the blog a bit, embracing the fact that I cannot do it on my own and that stepping into God’s plan sometimes requires action … a step, when we don’t even know where we’re headed.

I realized this last week that I wanted to see the future … a blog before me, complete and written down before I opened my heart.  And that is not what God is asking me for.  He wants me to step … one post at a time, just a word here and a word there and He will build something beautiful in the process.

So, with thanks to our friend Jeremiah (THANK YOU!) the look of the blog has changed a bit and my thought process as well.  I am not alone!  To write the words has been a faith step, but to ask artists to join me and lend beauty to the process is another step entirely.  I hope I’m learning.

In the next few months you’ll be seeing work from Laura Ruth at Purdy Prints.  It’s one of my favorite Etsy pages and she is offering FREE shipping for simply. grant and lois readers through January (see coupon above). And, for those of you who shop online, you know that shipping is half the battle.

Until next time …