Friday, December 30, 2005

It's a Story of Sacrifice

Advent Devo Part 5: The Week of January 1

When once Aslan had been tied (and tied so that he was really a mass of cords) on the flat stone, a hush fell on the crowd. Four Hags, holding four torches, stood at the corners of the Table. The Witch bared her arms as she had bared them the previous night when it had been Edmund instead of Aslan. Then she began to whet her knife. It looked to the children, when the gleam of the torchlight fell on it, as if the knife were made of stone, not of steel, and it was of a strange and evil shape.

At last she drew near. She stood by Aslan’s head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but his looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice,

"And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him out of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die."

From "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Book 2 of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Little did Lucy and Susan dream that the mighty Aslan would be caught, shaven, bound, tortured and killed. They knew him as a mighty ruler of Narnia, not as the subdued body on the Stone Table. They must have had their doubts as they watched the minions of the White Witch torment him. How could this be?

Jadis underestimated, however, the power of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea and the way that the Deep Magic would be satisfied, once and for all. She connived and believed that she had destroyed Aslan and even the Four Thrones of Cair Paravel. She was wrong! The sacrifice was made; Edmund would be restored as a future co-ruler of Narnia, and Jadis herself would be defeated.

Daily Scripture Readings

Day One: Psalm 4, Exodus 12:21-30, Mark 12:28-44
Day Two: Psalm 20, Exodus 13:1-16, Luke 5:12-16
Day Three: Psalm 27, Exodus 32:1-14, Acts 7:44-60
Day Four: Psalm 50, I Kings 8:22-30, Romans 12:1-8
Day Five: Psalm 51, I Kings 8:41-61, Romans 12:9-21
Gospel: Matthew 9:9-13


Glory be to God on high,
and in earth peace,
good will towards men.
We praise Thee, we bless Thee,
we worship Thee, we glorify Thee,
we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory,
O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son Jesus Christ;
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father,
have mercy upon us.
For Thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord;
Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost,
art most high in the glory of God the Father.

From The Book of Common Prayer, Rite I, © 1979, Church Publications, New York. P. 52

  • Last fall, Goreth, Mary and Matilde visited our church and shared how they had remained faithful in spite of sacrifice and persecution. Was your heart moved? Did you see how much they gave up, out of obedience to God? Their stories touched us because, I believe, we could see the love of God through their words. Stop and pray for the courage to be faithful and sacrificial in your life, as these women of God have been. Pray also for them and the ministries of Amani ya Juu, as they share the Good News of Jesus in their home countries.
  • The Western Church often mistakes inconvenience for ‘sacrifice’. We volunteer or shop or write a check when asked. If it is only an action, God is not impressed! It doesn’t matter what you put in the offering plate if your heart is not part of the gift. Ask God to give you a heart that seeks to sacrificially serve and bless Him.
  • Hans Urs VonBalthasar, a Swiss philosopher and Jesuit priest, wrote: "Religion is the world in its journey toward God. Christianity is God journeying toward the world, and people who believe in Him taking the same direction as He." Part of our "journey" is following Christ in the way of self-denial and self-sacrifice. How is God showing you to change and grow as His disciple?

Unless otherwise noted, ©2005 by Deb Vaughn.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

It's a Story of the Difference a Day Can Make

Advent Devo Part 4: The Week of December 25

"Come on!" cried Mr. Beaver, who was almost dancing with delight. "Come and see! This is a nasty knock for the Witch! It looks as if her power is already crumbling."

"What do you mean, Mr. Beaver?" panted Peter as they all scrambled up the steep bank of the valley together.

"Didn’t I tell you," answered Mr. Beaver, "that she’d made it always winter and never Christmas? Didn’t I tell you? Well, just come and see!"

And then they were all at the top and did see.

It was a sledge, and it was reindeer with bells on their harness. But they were far bigger than the Witch’s reindeer, and they were not white but brown. And on the sledge sat a person whom everyone knew the moment they set eyes on him…

"I’ve come at last," said he. "She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move.The Witch’s magic is weakening."

And Lucy felt running through her that deep shiver of gladness which you only get if you are being solemn and still.

From "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Book 2 of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Father Christmas’ arrival in Narnia was the first concrete evidence that Aslan was indeed on the move. Stirrings and whisperings among his true followers had been only rumors up to that point. The day that Father Christmas returned, bringing a celebration of joy and cheer to Narnians, was a special one. They knew that when Aslan, the true King of Narnia, returned, the Witch’s evil rule would soon end. The second evidence of Aslan’s return was the return of spring. It was no longer "always winter." The world changed from January to May in the space of a few hours!

Jadis realized that she was no longer in total control of the affairs and activities of Narnians. Her anger lashed out at the squirrel family and their guests for celebrating Christmas, turning them into stone. She belittled Edmund for asking for mercy for them. But most of all, she raged at the very name of her opponent, Aslan. "If either of you mentions that name again," said the Witch, "he shall be instantly killed." Irrationally, she plotted the overthrow of Aslan. It was the day that made the difference…

Daily Scripture Readings
Day One: Psalm 2, I Samuel 2:1-10, 2 Samuel 22:47-31
Day Two: Psalm 8, Joel 2:12-13, 2 Samuel 23:1-5
Day Three: Psalm 40, Joel 2:21-27, Daniel 7:10, 13-14
Day Four: Psalm 45, Joel 2:28-32, Daniel 9:1-10
Day Five: Psalm 89, Joel 3:17-21, Daniel 9:11-19
Gospel: Luke 2:1-20

Ah, dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled within my heart that it may be
a quiet chamber kept for Thee.
Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest,
through whom even wicked men are blest! Thou comest to share our misery,
what can we render, Lord, to Thee?
My heart for very joy doth leap,
my life no more can silence keep; I too must sing,
with joyful tongue that sweetest ancient cradle song:
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given!" While angels sing, with pious mirth,
a glad New Year to all the earth.
A Christmas Prayer by Martin Luther


  • What difference does Christmas Day make in your life? Other than shopping, baking, huge meals, stockings and presents, is it any different than any other day of the year? We all know it should be, but the busy-ness of the day can make us forget its original intent. Re-read the Christmas story in Luke 2 and pray or write a prayer of "welcome" to the Lord Jesus into your home this week.
  • Luke writes that the shepherds rejoiced with exceeding great joy. That’s not just being "happy and you know it". It’s not based on circumstances but the reality that they had seen and heard the sign that the Messiah had come. Is that joy a reality in your life today? If not, ask for it!
  • The manger glows bright and clear, the very night gives out a light, darkness must not here appear, but faith remain both sure and bright. (German Advent Carol) Reflect over the past year. Has there been a "spring thaw" in your life – has some hard-fought battle been won in your heart? Thank Him! Thank God for the reality of His Presence in your life, and for the ways you have grown in your faith.

Unless otherwise noted, ©2005 by Deb Vaughn.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It's a Story of Love

Advent Devo Part 3: The Week of December 18

"They say Aslan in on the move – perhaps may have already landed," [said Mr. Beaver.]
And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words, everyone felt quite different… At the name of Aslan, each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.

…Aslan stood in the center of a crowd of creatures who had grouped themselves round him in the shape of a half-moon. …And next to Aslan stood two leopards, one of whom carried his crown and the other his standard.

But as for Aslan himself, the Beavers and the children didn’t know what to do or say when they saw him. People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.

From "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Book 2 of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


The very name of the son of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea brought life and freedom to the Land of Narnia. It evoked emotions of joy and peace, of tranquility and beauty. Even though Narnia was caught in the snares of the White Witch, there was an unforced response to his name. Beyond all possible logic, his name made them respond from the depths of their hearts. These unguarded places showed their true attitudes, especially Edmund’s, who knew he was not on Aslan’s ‘side’.

Aslan brought the children more than safety and security; he showed them complete, unreserved love. The love shone from his eyes; it resounded in his roar. It enveloped them in the warmth of his furry mane and protected them from their enemies. They felt as though they had always loved him, and that he had always loved them. They could not help but love someone who loved them and knew them so well!

Daily Scripture Readings

Day One: Psalm 130, Isaiah 2:2-5, I John 1:1-10
Day Two: Psalm 133, Isaiah 9:2-3, 6-7, I John 2:1-17
Day Three: Psalm 136, Isaiah 11:1-12, I John 3:1-10
Day Four: Psalm 138, Jeremiah 23:3-10, I John 3:11-24
Day Five: Psalm 139, Micah 7:18-20, I John 4:7-21
Gospel: Luke 1:5-56

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me O Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit,
that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit,
to defend all that is holy;
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
that I always may be holy.
St. Augustine of Hippo


  • Hymns, choruses and praise songs have been written over the years to express the lyricist’s love for the Lord Jesus. Try writing your own ‘love song’ to Him. If you are stuck for words, start with one of the Psalms in this week’s Scripture readings.
  • The love of family and friends can get us through many rough spots in our lives. Consider that even though Edmund was a ‘traitor’, his brother and sisters still wanted to search for him at the risk of their own lives. This kind of love was expressed in the I John passages we read this week. Ask God for the heart of Christ, that it would be reflected in the ways you respond to and serve your family, your Church and your community.
  • What is your heart’s response to God? Are you emboldened like Peter, inspired like Susan, joyous like Lucy, or secretly terrified like Edmund? You can’t hide your true heart from God. The Psalmist encourages us to trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8)

Unless otherwise noted, (c) 2005 by Deb Vaughn

Sunday, December 11, 2005

It's a Story of Sin...

Advent Devo Part 2: The week of December 11th

“…I didn’t like to mention it before (he being your brother and all) but the moment I set eyes on that brother of yours I said to myself ‘Treacherous,’ [said Mr. Beaver.] “He had the look of one who has been with the Witch and eaten her food. You can always tell them if you’ve lived long in Narnia; something in their eyes.”

“All the same,” said Peter in a rather choking sort of voice, “we’ll still have to go and look for him. …”

“Go to the Witch’s House?” said Mrs. Beaver. “Don’t you see that the only chance of saving either him or yourselves is to keep away from her?...”

…You mustn’t think that even now Edmund was quite so bad that he actually wanted his brother and sisters to be turned into stone. He did want Turkish Delight and to be a Prince (and later a King) and to pay Peter out for calling him a beast. As for what the Witch would do with the others, he didn’t want her to be particularly nice to them – certainly not to put them on the same level as himself; but he managed to believe, or to pretend he believed, that she wouldn’t do anything very bad to them, “Because,” he said to himself, “all these people who say nasty things about her are her enemies and probably half of it isn’t true. She was jolly nice to me, anyway, much nicer than they are. I expect she is the rightful Queen really. Anyway, she’ll be better than that awful Aslan!” At least, that was the excuse he made in his own mind for what he was doing. It wasn’t a very good excuse, however, for deep down inside him he really knew that the White Witch was bad and cruel.

From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Book 2 of The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis.

When Edmund’s deception and lies are discovered, the children begin to understand the danger they are facing. Jadis, the White Witch, not only wants to capture them, she wants to usurp their rightful positions as heirs to the throne of Narnia. She fears the prophecies’ fulfillment because she knows it will end her power there.

Jadis uses intimidation, lies, mocking and manipulation to persuade Edmund that Aslan is a cruel dictator. She suggests that it is not only difficult to know who is ‘right’, but it is best to play it safe and depend on someone powerful (like herself) to defend and protect Edmund’s future. She plays to Edmund’s pride, selfishness and greed. He decides, with some degree of fear, to succumb to these very human temptations. In doing so, he becomes a traitor and violates the laws of Narnia. Unfortunately it is the Law of the land of Narnia– the traitor pays for his deception with his own life!

Daily Scripture Readings

Day One: Genesis 2:4-17 Romans 2:1-11 Hosea 6:1-7
Day Two: Genesis 2:18-25 Romans 3:21-26 Hosea 11:1-12
Day Three: Genesis 3:1-7 Romans 4:13-25 Hosea 14:1-7
Day Four: Genesis 3:8-13 I Cor. 15:20-28 Malachi 1:6-11
Day Five: Genesis 3:14-:24 I Cor 15:45-58 Malachi 3:1-4
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-18


O God our Father,
Who has set forth the way of life for us in Thy beloved Son:
We confess with shame our slowness to learn of Him,
Our reluctance to follow Him.
Thou hast spoken and called, and we have not given heed;
Thy beauty has shone forth and we have been blind;
Thou has stretched out Thy hands to us through our fellows and we have passed by.
We have taken great benefits with little thanks;
We have been unworthy of Thy changeless love.
Have mercy upon us and forgive us, O Lord.

From the Covenant Service, Celtic Daily Prayer © 2000 Harper San Francisco,

Northumbria Community Trust. p. 316


  • The contemporary worship band Jars of Clay wrote these words: “Give to the wind your fear; hope and be undismayed. God hears your sighs and counts your tears. God will lift up your head.” Where you personally struggle with sin or fear, know that our Heavenly Father does hear your sighs and count your tears! Express them to Him now and thank Him for walking through them with you.
  • Like Mr. Beaver, we may be able to see “that look” in someone’s eyes – someone who is living a life that is “Treacherous”. Do you know someone who is still seeking God? Pray for sensitive, caring words as you live out your faith in front of them this week.
  • Know your weaknesses. Where do you most easily succumb to sin? Is it pride? A desire for power? Anger? Selfishness? Ask God to help you see your sin as He sees it, to look to Him for forgiveness and to use the power of the Holy Spirit live in a way that that pleases Him.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

It's a Story of God on the Move...

Advent Devo: Part 1 - The week of December 4th

“Aslan is on the move…”

“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan.

"Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver. “Why, don’t you know? He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father’s time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment…”

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Book 2 of The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis.

The kingdom of Narnia was bound in a spell under Jadis, the evil Queen. As Mr. Beaver explained, “It is she that makes it always winter; always winter, and never Christmas!” No hope. No change of seasons. No warmth felt from the sun’s rays. No nesting season for the birds. There aren’t any gorgeous fall colors or early spring flowers. Narnia is just a world of cold weather, dark clouds, and a black and white landscape. Evil seems to have won.

Evil has also bound up the hearts of the inhabitants of Narnia. Every creature lives in fear of the Queen. Her anger, her decrees are unquestionably obeyed. To defy her means death: being turned into stone statues. There seems no way out. Or is there? Some of the faithful know: Only Aslan can deliver the land of Narnia from this evil. And now the word is out – He is on the move!

Daily Scripture Readings

Day One: Psalm 95 Isaiah 42:1-9 Rev. 21:1-7
Day Two: Psalm 96 Isaiah 42:10-17 2 Peter 3:8-14
Day Three: Psalm 97 Isaiah 43:1-13 Zech. 2:10-13
Day Four: Psalm 98 Isaiah 43:14-28 Genesis 1
Day Five: Psalm 99 Isaiah 44:1-8 Luke 21:5-28
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25


Thank You for speaking to us through Your Word and Your prophets. It strengthens my faith to read of the many things that were prophesied in Your Word which have already come to pass. I know this means that every promise in Your Word will be fulfilled. Thank You for always keeping Your promises.
I pray that I will not be like the people in Isaiah’s time who would not humble themselves before You and listen.
And I don’t want to be like the people Micah spoke to who refused to obey You. Nor do I want to be like the people who heard Jeremiah’s prophecy but didn’t have faith enough to believe it.
Instead, I humble myself before You this day and ask that You would help me to clearly hear and understand Your instructions to me. Enable me to fully know Your laws and obey them. Give me ever-increasing faith to believe that Your promises are true. Help me to see all the promises to me in Your Word so that I can claim them, stand strong in them, and rest in You as I wait for them to be fulfilled in my life.

In Jesus’ Name, I pray,

Stormie Omartian, "The Power of Christmas Prayer",
© 2000, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. p.


  • Is God on the move in your life today? Or do you have some ‘desert places’ that need His Hand of renewal and healing? Ask God to change and renew a right Spirit within you by praying Psalm 51 aloud to Him. Write down your heart’s response to God.

  • What can you do to insure that your home does not fall into the spell of ‘always winter and never Christmas’?

  • Theologian Karl Barth once said that pastors should write their sermons with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other." (The equivalent today might be a Bible and Google™!) The challenge remains for us to try to live out our faith in our culture. As you read your paper or listen to the news today, where do you see that God is on the move in our world?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

No U-Haul behind a hearse

The old saying goes, 'There's no U-Haul behind a hearse.' True enough - we don't take anything with us when we die...

Recently I attended a funeral for my friend's mom. There WAS something behind her hearse. A line - a LONG line - of cars full of people! It stretched for over a mile as we drove from the church to the cemetery. It struck me that this was a picture of her legacy, that she had affected so many lives to the good that they would honor her memory by spending a perfectly gorgeous fall afternoon in a cemetery!

I did not know this woman well, though I had met her. She was someone's "Mom", someone else's "Gran". But her life of praying for, nurturing and investing in others' lives paid a bonus dividend in the character and the love of the women she influenced. Her legacy is in people. And people last forever. Things don't.

Her funeral was full of laughter and tears, mingling on the faces in the church. Laughter when her grandson's cell phone went off in the middle of his testimony! Tears when we saw her family praising God in the midst of grief, relief and somehow, joy. A recent study in Ecclesiastes brought this memory back to me...

Eccl. 3:14
I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere Him.

If I could pick a legacy to leave behind, that would be it...

from our home to yours -

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Back-up Singer to God

This past weekend, I had a sterling opportunity to worship and not lead. (Any of you who do lead worship on a regular basis understand what I mean by that...) At any rate, I enjoyed the moment to focus on the God of my music, and not the tempo, dynamics, how many reps, closing out, etc.

The worship leaders were wonderful! Let me explain why:

  1. The rhythm section: They were tight. They were totally TOTALLY in sync. I think they even breathed as one! They were so "together" that it seemed totally natural. That only happens with a group that has spent many hours working on music together. They were not imitating each other - they WERE ONE TEAM.
  2. The visuals: They were designed to focus my mind on the words themselves, to engage my brain as my mouth was moving. Outside of that novelty (there - I said it first!), there was also the beautiful nature shots that were backdrops to the sung and spoken Word of God.
  3. The back-up singers: They fit in with the lead singer, supporting and giving color to the words and melody. They did it so carefully, you had to actually listen with a discerning ear to find their melodic line. Their parts could not stand alone. They were simply depending on the Lead.
These three aspects of the worship team led me to ponder my heart attitudes towards leading worship.

  1. The rhythm section: Am I tight with God? Do I know without any reservation what He wants from me, and where He is leading me? Am I clear on His Words to me?
  2. The visuals: What do I show others? Does it distract or point them towards the main message of my life - Jesus Christ? Do I encourage and lift them up?
  3. The back-up singers: Am I content to be used however God asks - - even if it is not what I really wanted to do? Does my part blend with the Lord's so perfectly that you don't see "Deb", you only see "Jesus"? That is my desire above all else!
I have much to learn and a long way to go...

and you should hear the angels sing
all gathered round their King
more beautiful than you could dream
i've been quietly listening
you can hear 'em now, i hear em now...
- david crowder

From our home to yours,


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Spiritual Termites

Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for Himself;
the LORD will hear when I call to Him.
In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
(Psalm 4: 3-4)

Termites, those wood-munching midgets, cause most of their damage silently. By the time you see their tunnels, or discover the chewed wood, they are either long-gone (leaving weakened structures behind) or they are in full attack mode.

During my grad. school days, I remember watching houses in the Miami area being "tented" for termites. First, families, pets, plants and food were removed. Then, a whole building was covered in non-gas-permeable tarps, and the structure was flooded with poisons to kill off all of the crawling things. Here in Maryland we have these lovely subterranean termites (the kind that "recycle" downed wood and colonize in the frames of houses.) Our "perimeter defense system" (aka buried poison and baiting stations) have helped keep our home free from termite infestations... I think...

And that's the problem. We THINK that we don't have any termites. But I have this sneaking suspicion that, on any given day, you could find some chomping away less than a meter from our home. We dare not let our termite treatment 'guarantee' lapse. We don't want to be caught off guard.

Ah, that I could only be so diligent in the spiritual realm. But I am not! Over the last several months, I've found 'colonies' of all sorts of "spiritual termites" trying to take up residence in my life. By themselves, they are basically innocuous, or at their worst, distracting others from the Christ-likeness I want to show in my life. It is a bit disquieting to discover this.

The only effective treatments? Prayer. Times of quiet reflection. Scripture. Accountability to friends. Honesty - REAL honesty with God about what I dream of doing for Him, and where I am in the process. It's not that I need to self-flagellate or have a time of morbid self-introspection. Nope. I just need to get "face time" with Jesus. I need to hear His Heart, as He knows mine so well, and respond...

Are we on the same page, Lord?
Is there anything else I should be thinking
...or doing

...or saying
...or not saying?

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD;
He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.
All a man's ways seem right to him,
but the LORD weighs the heart.
To do what is right and just
is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
(Proverbs 21:1-3)

From our home to yours -

Thursday, October 20, 2005


In September of 2003, my husband and I started the application process for his mom to move closer to us. Though she has been living an apartment not too far from us for the last year, she was actually in a 'holding pattern', waiting for her number to come up in a life-care community. Now, 2 years after the process began, we have come to moving day! It will be a day of frustrations, confusion, and unfortunately, rain showers!

All I could think of was what had happened in the process of meeting this much-anticipated mile marker. In the waiting, there has been illness, surgery, grief, vacations, misunderstandings, celebrations, birthdays, Christmas, middle school graduation, concerts, hurricanes, thunderstorms and finally... a move. In the midst of the highs and lows of the last months, inspite of worries and joys, God has been there and has been faithful.

What is hardest to spell out for the cynical and the angry person is how God has helped me cope. He has. I have laughed hard, cried often and loved much. I've had supportive friends at each wobble in my course. I've stayed married - no small feat in today's world. I have read His Word and found encouragement; I have neglected my prayer life and heard His love for me anyway. Obviously, this Love one does not earn!

In a way, my calendar is no more or no less busy than any other woman or mother. I don't have high-flying clients. I don't have a nanny or maid. I don't have a fancy wardrobe or a facelift... but I do have Love in my life. Unending Love. Undeserved Love. Unexpected Love.

I looked at my calendar for next week, trying to gauge what's ahead. A mammogram. Ah, there's pause for thought and a few anxious 'what ifs'??? Yet, in spite of what is or is not going to show up on a piece of film, God will be there. And for all the other milemarkers ahead in my life? Yup. He's there for those, too...

From our home to yours...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Something in the fridge is growing hair!

It never fails. I make a list, go to the grocery, and in a week, something in the fridge is growing "hair". Well - not really hair - I guess it sounds better than wild funky mold spores.

Fact: one mold spore can recolonize a whole fridge. Who knew? I've cleaned and bleached it. Still it grows hair. I've emptied and rinsed it with boiling water. Still it grows hair. Gee, isn't THIS uplifting. And appetizing!

Much like the example of the yeast in I Corinthians 5, I've got an ugly metaphor for the sin in my life. Oh, my tendency to sin will never go away completely. But I am noticing, that, as I grow along with Christ, I'm getting a little better at seeing my sin earlier in the process. I will struggle - - and keep on growing. Just like the hairy vegetables in my fridge, it doesn't get as bad before I notice and work to clean things up...

Here's to a hairy-free fridge! And the promise of an eternal (sin free) life!

From our home to yours...


Friday, September 02, 2005

Closet Secrets

I know everyone has them. The closets that you pray NO ONE will look into because they are toal disaster areas. I have named 2 closets in our house, to the amusement of my kids. The front hall closet is called "The Black Hole", and my closet is "The Pit of Despair".

"The Black Hole" never seems to stay organized. I've tried every trick, gotten bins, special hangers and labeled boxes. I've drawn up a "map" of where things go. I've hung silly signs. My family is not functionally illiterate, just organizationally challenged.

I understand their rationale: "I'll just stick this here and get it later." OOHHH!!! BAD IDEA! "Later" never happens!!!

I have discovered no organizational scheme works... EXCEPT this one: every other month, I clean out and reorganize it. (I've chosen the 'even' months, but it doesn't really matter!) On the appointed day, everything comes out of that closet: coats, boots, camera, craft supplies, school supplies, cleaning supplies, and more. Somehow, there is always a bag of trash, a bag of giveaways, and a bag to put away where it belongs! Every single time? Yup.

The closet seems to have magic powers of multiplication for everything except money! No wait, THAT'S not true! I found $20 squirreled away in a winter coat!


I'm sure you are looking for some grand spiritual connection. There is none, other than de-cluttering your heart with God... don't let the junk pile up.

From our home to yours...


Thursday, July 28, 2005


Summer is usually a time for 'un-routines' for me, and for the whole household. Slowly we drift from early bedtimes and predawn "stagger-to-the-coffee" mornings to a more unpredictable, relaxed schedule of waking and sleeping. Alarm clocks are rarely used. It's a nice change of pace.

Actually, the only significant difference is the lack of scheduled appointments and required events. The calendar looks almost bare! NO homework tutoring, after-school rehearsals or projects clutter the day. NO volunteer work at school. NO choir rehearsals or drama practices. NO committee meetings! (YAHOOOOOOOOOOO!) Instead, we have downtime with friends, play at the pool and read a ton of books.

I have found that I desparately need my routines in the Spiritual disciplines regardless of the season. My time of private prayer, study, worship, Bible reading and time with Christian friends can't go on vacation. I need to keep those spiritual 'muscles' strong. The only way I can keep them going is to have some sort of predictable schedule. For if I sleep in until 9 am every morning, I don't have time to read and pray before starting on the day's activities.

This summer, though, I had to admit that there are others areas in my life that can't be shelved for the summer. For instance, much as I dislike cleaning, doing laundry, fixing meals and washing dishes, the household doesn't run for long without these tasks. Especially fixing meals! People can walk on dirty floors and make do with wrinkled shirts, but take away their food and they get a little cranky! And as much as I get lobbied for a 'vacation' from it, practicing musical instruments can't stop, either. (And no amount of whining in the world gets me to bend on that one!)

With a sigh, I'm back to being a Flybaby again, EVEN in the summer. No whining, just doing the best I can. I'm working at keeping my routines done, yet done flexibly. I love FlyLady because of her sense of humor, and the way she keeps me on task. The other day I did a "sofa cushion dive" and found $3.21 in change, a missing hairbrush and a couple of pens and pencils, not to mention a permission slip for school that "never" came home. I realized then that my kids and husband need me to be a Flybaby all year.

FlyLady, you'll be SO proud of me. My sink is shining!!! :)

From our home to yours,


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Wash away those stains...

Four days of painting... one outfit. It bears the stains of my work!
- primer
- ceiling
- wall colors (2)
- trim
- closet doors

Yup, it is now a technicolor shirt and jeans outfit! Thankfully, I've washed it and the smell that came with those colors is gone. But the stains remain.

The immediate parallel that came to my mind was the forgiveness but the lingering effects of sin. My sins are washed away by accepting Jesus' death for me. But the 'stains' (or scars, if you will) are still there.

As time goes on, the paint stains will weather and become smaller, but they will never completely go away. The guilt and shame are gone - the visible reminders of what I've done will crop up from time to time... but come the day I go to heaven, they will be gone!

OK so you might think that is too restrictive a belief system. I guess one day we will find out who's right... I'm banking on my Savior...

How clean is your shirt?

From our home to yours...


Sunday, June 05, 2005


I'm benched! Required to sit on the sidelines! Out of the game! And all because of a virus turned bronchitis.

It's especially hard because my kids both had concerts this weekend, and I could not go. Well, I COULD have gone - and shared whatever is causing my fever and cough with the populace. But that would not have been kind. So my husband, as chauffeur and chef in my absence, went and took pictures. Not quite the same...

I'm sitting here feeling grumbly and decided instead to pray and read. And since I am feeling short of breath, decided to look up all of the verses that deal with "breath" or "breathing". Here's a quick synopsis...

Powerful, creative, and brings life, death and judgment to every human being.

Every time I read this, I stop and think, "and in that next moment, he was in the presence of God Almighty." Yet somehow this does not bring me comfort when I am wheezing and struggling to breathe...

The most frequent reference suggests the ways we humans love making threats or venting anger (under our breath). Humanity is full of angry, vengeful people. I belong to that class of created beings, so don't think I am acting holier than thou. While God has the ultimate power - - we have it too.

I can 'slice and dice' someone's argument under my breath (the most frequent place this happens is listening to a sermon...) but that is the same in God's eyes as if I were doing it out loud. My heart attitude is what needs the cleansing... and my actions need to follow.

A sort of "spiritual antibiotic" to get the bugs out...

From our home to yours...


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Souvenirs of misery

International travel has a way of showing what I really "need" to take along. While I have gotten better and better at packing and consolidating my suitcase, I still don't do a perfect job. Part of the problem is not what I start out with, but what I bring home!

Yup, I'm a good tourist. I bring home LOTS of souvenirs. And as I pack and re-pack, I struggle to fit them all in...

One of my daughters was listening to a song the other day, and the lyrics helped me put some pieces together:

Well, I was doublin' over, the load on my shoulders
Was a weight I carried with me everyday
Crossin' miles of frustrations and rivers a ragin'
Pickin' up stones I found along the way

You see, it isn't what I started with that causes my problems over the long haul. It's what I add to my already full suitcase...

I staggered and I stumbled down
Pathways of trouble
I was haulin' those souvenirs of misery
And with each step taken my back was breakin'
'Til I found the One who took it all from me

Souvenirs of misery... What a great way to describe what I carry along as I stagger through life! The misery itself (the sin, the mistakes) are over and done with, forgiven and forgotten by God. But the 'souvenirs' live on in the consequences of our actions: in broken relationships, hurt feelings, bad memories, or a bad habit that I just can't break so easily.

Through the darkest alleys and loneliest valleys
I was draggin' those heavy chains of doubt and fear
Then with the one Word spoken the locks were broken
Now He's leading me to places
Where there are no tears

Little by little, I'm releasing my hold on the chains of doubt and fear that I've collected in my life. God unlocked the chains years ago, but I seem to insist on carrying them around any way. (No it doesn't make sense... but that just proves I am so very human!) I can say in confidence that when I make it to heaven, to the place "where there are no tears," every one of those chains will be gone.

I really am learning how to be "travelin' light"!

From our home to yours -


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Buildings for God

After a recent trip to England, visiting some of the large and small "buildings for God" (i.e. churches and cathedrals) I had to ponder "what do these buildings mean to the everyday person?"

  • Are they monuments to what people believed in the past?
  • Are they historical landmarks that make a city or town look quaint, and attract tourists?
  • Or, are they centers of empowered worship, vitally portraying the Living Triune God?

I'd like to hope and believe for the last option. But I'm not so sure.

I'm not the only one who has pondered this question. Howard Snyder, in a recent article in Christianity Today, offered his thoughts. He notes that "Jesus-centered" churches can keep their priorities straight between builidngs and ministry, between worship and outreach.

Don't get me wrong! Visiting the cathedrals at York and Canterbury, craning my neck to view the high, lofty and vaulted ceilings, marveling at the construction and artistry in carved wood and stone was a wonderful experience. Worshipping in a church where my immigrant ancestors were once members was also a spiritual highlight. But it all means nothing, in England, or in Maryland, if the people who attend services in these buildings don't take the Word out into the world.

I'm still processing what this means... and how I'll make a difference here in my zipcode...

From our home to yours,

Thursday, April 28, 2005


I really don't like weeding, but it is required if I'm going to have a house that, at least on the outside, looks loved and lived in, instead of abandoned and rejected. Right now the weeds are growing faster and stronger than my flowers. My dandelion crop is quite lovely... but that's not what I planned to bloom as perennials in my garden!

There's work to be done to make my front flower garden less of an eyesore to my neighbors and more of a reflection of who lives here.

And there's work to be done in my LIFE to show that the Person of Christ who lives in me is reflected accurately to the world. I'm praying that God will shine through even the dandelions...

From our home to yours,


Monday, April 18, 2005


It's the end of a weekend retreat. I'm on a spiritual high. There's a lot to catch up on here at home, and lots to think about in terms of what happened during the retreat.

Then there's my luggage. So much to unpack... It is all over the table, the family room floor, in a pile for the laundry, a stack on the steps to go up to our bedroom. I'm in a disorganized state - emotionally and psychologically. I've changed my daily routine today to have time to think, pray and look at all that I learned over the last few days...

Unpacking. We do a lot of it in different ways. Unpacking memories. Unpacking feelings. Unpacking motivations. It's possible to get through life without unpacking, but it can get a little inconvenient. And it's not the way we were meant to live.

Think about living out of a suitcase: you never settle in; you never make things permanent; you aren't committed to a place or time or people. You never feel secure or at home. If you've been on a week long tour, you know what I mean when I say "it gets old FAST!"

How about half unpacking your suitcase and living with the mess: you can't find things; it's disorganized; it isn't hospitable to others you live with. Fortunately, you can get out of this stage with a little hard work.

Then there's the ones who unpack their suitcases immediately, completely and thoroughly. They settle back quickly into their routines. The laundry gets done. The prescription meds and toiletries are where they belong. Life is smoother.

In my mind, these are ways of dealing with events and issues in our lives, too.

Living out of a suitcase: you back out of people's lives; you aren't with any group long enough to form a bond; you move away from permanence. It is easy to bottle up emotions this way. But if you keep 'stuffing the suitcase' of your mind, eventually it will reach its limit, and you'll have a 'suitcase explosion'. Picture that suitcase that self-destructed on its way around the luggage claim area at the airport. Make that your emotional state... not very manageable, is it?

Living with the mess: You have good intentions, but you tend to move on to something before you've really addressed the need at hand. This happens in grieving, especially when people tell you "oh, you just need to stay busy." Well maybe you really need to just flex and change your routine enough so that you 'finish unpacking' what you have to deal with at the time. It takes self-discipline, and an almost unprejudiced eye to say, "I haven't finished dealing with this yet." It means not trying to justify what you haven't dealt with (either because you can't handle it, or you can't figure out what to do.)

Unpacking immediately: This is what a mentor I had called "keeping current in the processing of your emotions." It's doing your emotional laundry when it comes up instead of letting it pile for months at a time. It's being honest with your handling of stress. It's choosing to be loving intead of hurtful in your speech.

Many times for me the 'unpacking' happens as I pray with a desire to see God's heart and attitude towards what has happened in my life. It means being still long enough to hear and respond. (Sometimes I don't hear, and sometimes I hear but don't respond.)

Hebrews 10:22
...let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled
(unpacked?) to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

It's more than just 'unpacking' - it is staying close to God, with a sprinkled (unpacked?) heart.

Romans 12:9-21
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I have some more work to do... That's based on the fact that I am typing this instead of getting my suitcase cleaned out. I think it will take me more than today to finish unpacking!

From our home to yours...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Following the directions

It was NOT rocket science. I only had to follow the directions. But for some reason, this was incredibly hard.

The craft before me was simply to print and iron-on a decal on a tote bag. I was reassured by those who have done this craft that it is not difficult, that you only have to read the directions on the box and then do them.

WELL... I read them, but then decided to take a short cut. And I had to buy another box of iron-ons because they um... didn't work. A second attempt went flawlessly after I was attentive to the detailed instructions. Who'd a-thunk it?

You'd think I'd know by now. Directions are not a subversive plot to drive me nuts! They are there to make things easier, to give me such a positive experience with a product or service that I would GLADLY use them again. But the human, prideful part of me tries to do things my own way.

OK, so maybe you always play by the rules. I'm envious. And maybe a little surprised. But hear me out...

Too many times these days we try to take shortcuts when we think it does not matter, or when no one will see. Many things it does not matter, but on matters of honesty and integrity, in areas of spiritual 'rules' such as the Ten Commandments, it does! The cost in human pain and suffering when you don't follow them is enormous!

Yes - Following directions is always a good idea...

From our home to yours -

Tuesday, March 15, 2005



Towards this person who is irritating me?

I don't feel it. I don't WANT to feel it. I'm mad at someone, and my first honest response is to nuke. To blame. To yell. To whine.

Unfortunately, I am also called to be a peacemaker. To walk an extra mile. To exhibit kindness as a fruit of the Spirit. Oh yeah, along with gentleness and self control.

Great. Just great.

So, what to do with this anger? This indignation that is welling up inside me? This desire to have MY side of the story heard, to set people straight? This need to justify my actions and reactions?

All of it blows off like so much fluff in the wind when I read in Romans 4:1-4

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

Setting myself up as a Christian in a public forum means that I get judged, but can not respond in kind. It is very hard not to make my case. The funny thing is, though, the less I defend myself, the nastier the other party appears. I don't look "good" or "holier-than-thou" for not responding. I just look a little less stupid.

That is probably a good thing.

From our home to yours...

Monday, January 24, 2005

Our children's education

I honestly don't mind my friends who choose to educate their children differently than I do. It is a matter of democracy and personal freedom that we do not have to send our children to a church-run school, a government school or homeschool them. My husband and I choose public school. Sometimes that makes us "odd man out". And I admit that I can get a little defensive.

For instance, someone once assumed that we homeschooled because our children are good students, generally respectful and pleasant to be around. "I can tell your kids are homeschooled," she said. "They are just so nice!"

Once I explained that we did not homeschool, her jaw dropped and she stared at me. "Why would you do that to them?" she gasped. "It will ruin them!"

Before I give the whys and wherefores of why we are using public school, I need to give a caveat: we seriously re-evaluate and pray about where and how our kids will be educated each year. There is no lock on one way or place that they will go to school. This year, for these kids, the decision is made. However, I have to be humble enough to say that God can always change our direction... Having said all that, here goes:

  • We choose public education because it most accurately represents the world where our children will grow up, marry and minister. Our grandparents went to one-room schools, or lived in close proximity to extended family. The truth is, this close-knit family model does not exist, by and large, in 21st century America. Our closest family members live more than 400 miles away.

  • Our children are being exposed, gradually, to a worldview that does not "jive" with their parents'. In baby steps, they can explore, discuss and get support for standing out as being "different". They are able, at their level, in their terminology, to talk about what they believe.

  • We augment the reading material in the classroom with magazines, books and newspapers which present a different viewpoint to the story.

  • As parents in Montgomery County, Maryland, we monitor and carefully consider what parts of the curriculum we will allow our children to participate in. (Yes, you DO have a voice and a choice!) For instance, our children do not attend the human sexuality portion of the "Family Life" classes, held in Grades 5-9. We have a companion unit that we do with them instead of or in addition to classwork. And we have requested alternate assignments for literature we find objectionable. It does not make you popular with the faculty, but that was never our intent!

  • We show a different kind of lifestyle to parents who use the TV as a babysitter. Our kids don't know the latest commercial jingles (neither do I!) and they have limited time on-line.

  • As volunteers, we can help in the classrooms, and pray more accurately for the children and their teachers. We don't go around handing out Bibles. We don't invite them to every event at church. We do our best to parent our children. We listen to and respect the professionals who work with them.
From time to time, I've gotten criticism for choosing "the godless public schools". Realize that there are Christian teachers, parents and children who are continuing to have an influence on the public schools of America. Yes, we Christians could all choose to pull our children from public shcools. And the vast majority of children would then have no Godly influence in their lives...

These kids won't come to church (their parents won't or don't), they don't read Christian literature (not racey enough), they don't listen to Christian radio (not cool), they don't understand much about Christmas and Easter outside of Santa and bunnies (blame mass media for that one!)

These kids are growing up without moral absolutes. They are living in a world like that of Mr. Tumnus, who said that his world was "Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!"

I understand the polluting effect of modern culture on a person's attitudes and actions. I hear it and see it every day. We all do. (If you are not watching TV or reading secular newspapers, just take a gander at the tabloids where you buy your groceries! Why do you think they publish what they do?? Because people love to read it!)

And as Christians pull away from the public education arena, the rest of the members of our society are hearing less and less of our worldview. Doesn't that strike you as just a little sad?

Are there other options for educating our girls? Possibly. This year, this time, we have chosen public schools. Next year, next time? That's in God's Hands.

From our home to yours-

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Break it down

"I can't do this!!" I heard my daughter wailing from the next
room. "It's too hard!"

A quick trip to the piano revealed the problem. Her new music was complicated enough that she could not just sight-read it any more.

"Break it down, honey," I said. "Take little parts at a time, one
hand at a time."

She had to slowly work on one hand, then the other, until she could put it together. It was actually a good sign that she was progressing and playing harder music, but she didn't see it that way.

We worked out a new way to practice, which, to her disgust, took more time and repetitions than previous practice sessions. Over the course of a week, she was able to master the new music, but with great effort and tenacity on her part.

I began to ponder how I struggle in similar ways when I face new and difficult changes. I don't want to 'break it down'. I just want to DO. I don't want to practice or try again. I want to get it right 'the first time'. Or I don't want to do the same thing day after day. I get bored with the basics. In piano, it's scales, arpeggios and warm-up exercises. In my spiritual life, it's prayer, Bible study, Scripture memory, and self-discipline.


Yup. Time to break it down again...

From our home to yours,