When Life Plays on Shuffle

Confession … I have been writing this article for 3 weeks and thinking about it for several before I even put words on paper (um … screen).

My days seems to be in perpetual shuffle mode.

Today, for instance … rain began at my son’s tennis sectional match. Shuffle. We are currently waiting in Panera for 2+ hours to finish the match indoors.

Earlier today, my daughter sent a video of her talking in baby voice to my “grand” dog, “Ready to go see grandma today?”

I punch speed dial: “You are coming TODAY? I thought you said tomorrow.” Shuffle. Sheets changed and breakfast casserole defrosting a day earlier than planned.

I often press shuffle on my music app. I like not knowing what song is next.

Side note: I like all the songs on my phone — I picked them! Shuffling music is a safe surprise, and I can always skip if I’m not feeling it.

But honestly in day to day living, shuffles can be more annoying than amusing, unless someone ahead of me pays it backward for my coffee, or I get to see my kids for an extra day. I like those shuffles.

This past month, the shuffles squeezed my heart kind of hard, taxed my sleep, rearranged my calendar, and drained my phone battery while I made back up plans to Plan H.

But God — I just love those two words — is faithful, patient and forgiving as I am still in process and continually learning to trust His hand and heart.

How deep does my faith need to go? Evidently, only deeper till I don’t need it anymore when I get to heaven and see Him face to face.

More dialogue, honest talking with God is happening in my heart. I am excited to share more on that in the near future. Unless, of course, God presses shuffle again.


For the second year I am spending this week before Easter sleeping on a bunk bed in a camp cabin with 17 & 18 year old girls.

My day job is spent in the camp kitchen with eight other women (and one brave man) preparing and serving 3 meals/day for the construction team of 90 teens and roughly 50 tradesmen and adult chaperones.

For me, it’s a week of women – older gals, peers, and lots of those who will be replacing us in the coming years.

It is the best of both worlds … learning from and enjoying my elders as we work together to feed and sustain the crews. Their feet and backs hurt (truthfully, so do mine!) yet the joy of serving overrides the pain and discomfort.

I come back to my bunk and dream about futures of young women who are growing up in a world so different from my growing up years, and yet not so much.

Listening to them cracks me up — what to wear, fashioning eyebrows, braiding hair, college test scores, looking for socks and shoes …. the banter, the sarcasm, the giggles, the whispers.

I look at these future women, figuring which one was me at that age. Other future women remind me the current women in my world. I see future moms, deep thinkers, artists, business and community leaders.

But every morning this week, we put on our grubby work clothes, work boots, and bright smiles. We all have jobs to do.

The trades teach the next generation … building cabins, chopping wood, digging and laying pipes, whatever needs to be done to make the future of this camp brighter.

The older and the younger working and learning together for the future – this is how community works best.

The words of the apostle Paul to Titus reflects this same principle … the older teach the younger. (Titus 2)

I am not at the river this week. I am in the dark in a sleeping bag, my face illuminated with one of the few cell phones allowed at camp, reflecting with my thumbs, and dreaming and praying for a unknown and hopeful future for those still snoozing around me.

Have a great week and Happy Easter! Jesus Christ is risen and is the true hope for our lives and the future.

My 3 Favorite Sweatshirts

Thankfully my all-time favorite clothing item can be worn during spring, fall and winter.

I love a good sweatshirt! Surprisingly, I only have 3 of them. I don’t have a sweatshirt “B team.”

I recently did a “between season” clothing switcheroo. I looked at my 3 favorites and just felt thankful that I don’t have to put them away just yet.

My favorite public sweatshirt is blueish green, zips easily, wears great with a base layer without being too hot or bulky and I’ve had it about 4 years.

My favorite hoody-style sweatshirt boasts a springy peach color, is made of lighter softer cotton with an unexpected v-neck. This 7-year old slightly stained, stretched out friend doesn’t venture out of the house, but is super comfy to clean or cook in.

Last, but not least — my early morning hoody. It is ugly, heavy and way too big, but it’s also warm, cozy and the first thing I put on in the morning as I make my way downstairs for coffee with Jesus. It’s muffled my laughs when reading Bob Goff and absorbed my tears and spilled coffee.

Of course, they are really nothing in the grand scheme of eternity. I feel a little ridiculous even writing about them. The sweatshirts haven’t changed my life, but they are part of me, my life.

It’s important to notice the regular stuff and be thankful.

Jesus talked about not worrying about what we wear, what we eat or what we drink. He takes care of it.

So it’s good for me to notice and think about these little things … I thank Him several times a day for my food (and always very grateful for coffee!) but not too often have I thanked Him for my daily clothes.

Well, just a few of my thoughts as I enter this weekend. Enjoy your Saturday!

Misery Redeemed

Three days ago, my day trip to Michigan proved to be a most miserable thing. I hadn’t slept well due to a stuffy nose and slight sore throat. I woke early to start the trek out of town and got a little miffed that someone turned the heat up in the house. It was so hot … and then I was freezing … and then my nose was running … and then I was sweating … and then I took my temperature … yep, I had a fever.

The trip had to happen, and I was the only one to drive. So I prayed, cried (it’s a given), swallowed some tylenol and forged ahead, leaving in the early  morning darkness. I was miserable.

My coffee tasted awful. Ten minutes out, we were dead-stopped by a train. Evidently, Monday morning trains are the longest ever. My map app rerouted due to an accident (love this modern blessing!) We eventually made it to the interstate and around Chicago.  Intermittent snow and yuck greeted us as rounded the eastern side of Lake Michigan.

My co-pilot (teen son) had fallen fast asleep, leaving me alone to listen to his playlist. It was awful — the movie score from Inception — no wonder he was sleeping. I mean, the movie was good, I think, although I might have slept and dreamt through parts of it (inside joke for the movie people.) Anyways, it is not good driving music in the dark when one is sick, trust me.

Have you joined in my misery yet??  My nose raw and red, my voice nasally, and my eyes glassy, I was not at my best when we arrived. However, the next few hours of tests and meetings exceeded expectations and my prayers — all of my little Monday morning miseries redeemed.


Honestly, I felt (and looked) ridiculous. But I was thankful. I apologized profusely for my germs, tried to remember to not shake hands and thanked the staff for the almost whole BOX of tissues I used while in their office. I am sure I heard the spray of lysol the second we walked out of sight to the elevator.

Redeem, redemption, redeemer … these words and their meaning still my heart as I sit and listen at His feet this morning (still stuffy and under the weather.) God Himself redeems my life from the pit. I can rest in that today.

The daily little miserable pits (or even the big ones) that litter my path cannot hold me with God as my Redeemer, my lifter-out-of-pits. He has redeemed my life forever through Jesus Christ, and He redeems it daily for my good and His purposes. So I bless the Lord with all that is within me.

Psalm 103:2-5  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good, so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.

Now, pass the puffs please … the ones with lotion would be super. Thanks.




As a four year old cuddled up next to my daddy watching a televised Billy Graham on a random Saturday night, I looked up at him and asked “Who is God?” That question put wheels into motion that lead right to where I sit today! I still picture the large gold flower print couch and still see the somewhat surprised (maybe a little guilty) face of my dad as he tried to give an answer.

Last night my TV screen replayed Billy Graham’s Memorial Service at the nation’s capital via C-SPAN. Undoubtedly the Rotunda setting and powerful audience provided an austere backdrop. However the speeches, the prayers, the deep respect and honor given to this servant of God shone like a beacon of the glory of God.

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 11.58.35 AMWhen the evangelist’s body arrived at the capital, nine members of the Honor Guard carried the box, each of their steps called out by the commander who stepped to his own command as well.

Not a foot stepped until the command “Ready, Step” was heard. The regular rhythmic cadence of command call, then foot fall lent a seriousness and respect to the task at hand.

Partial Bible verses flooded my mind instantly. The evangelist would have been pleased that even in all the attention given him in death — he still impacts the world for Christ, and this girl’s thoughts were focused on God and His Word.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord … Psalm 37:23

… the sensible man considers his steps. Proverbs 14:15

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

A man’s steps are from the Lord, how then can man understand his way?                              Proverbs 20:24

The evangelist certainly knew all these to be true in his life and his death.

My thoughts linger today and my prayer lifts “my steps” up to the Lord. It can’t just be every few steps in response to His command. Every footfall, every action, every word, every decision — or my life’s rhythm is off, God-given tasks are not completed or haphazardly so, the respect for God and His role in my life wanes.

“Every” shouts Impossible! on this side of the blue sky for me and all mankind.

Thoughts lead to prayers which lead me to love deeply and depend on the One whom I call Helper, Redeemer, Forgiver, Sacrificer, Commander. I know the ONE who calls my steps and He is faithful and trustworthy!

Ready, Step.

Ready, Step.

Ready, Step.





Apple Pie Celebration

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 5.49.55 AMToday, I am quietly celebrating – not the Eagles’ victory last night (what a great game though!). Forty-five years ago today, I asked Jesus to save me and forgive me of my sins so I could go to the heaven and be with Him.

As a five-year old, I definitely did not understand all the spiritual implications and deep theological doctrines surrounding this event. All I knew is I had a problem (I was a sinner) and Jesus was the answer (He paid with his life for it).

I remember so much from that Sunday night  — my pastor coming to our house, sitting in the living room as he explained the free gift of salvation. It’s there for everyone, but I had to choose to take it.

I prayed a simple prayer along the lines of “Jesus, I do wrong things. Please forgive me and come into my life.” And yes, He did! I am so thankful this morning as I sit and remember.

I read Psalm 103 every day. The shepherd boy’s song gives rhythm to my heart.  I bless the Lord for His steadfast love and faithfulness! He has forgiven me, He redeems my life from the pit, He satisfies me.  Thank you Lord for all your benefits I do not  deserve!

I also remember from that night so long ago this very important detail — my sweet mom baked an apple pie and we celebrated my new life in Jesus. I think I will bake an apple pie today.

My Word for 2018

Do you have a word for 2018? I have seen friends posting theirs on Facebook, Instagram — even my husband and his running buddies have words for the year.

I decided not to participate, as I didn’t like the word that kept coming to my mind. When someone would share his or her word with me, I responded “that’s a good word” and subtly changed the topic.

And yet “my (unlikable) word” sticks around  and recently showed up in my time with God, and strangely, now I am pumped to claim it.

My word for the year is WEAKNESS … see why I didn’t really like it – that word is supposed to inspire me each day?

I am reading in II Chronicles, and honestly, it’s not a part of the Bible where I really connect, but it’s where I am in the Old Testament. It’s a history book for the Jews who are returning from captivity.

In Chapter 14, Judah’s army is comprised of 580,000 men armed only with bronze shields and spears. They need to defend their border against an Ethiopian invasion of 1,000,000 soldiers, along with 300 chariots.


Naturally Judah and their king (Asa) sense their odds are not good!

King Asa prays (actually he cries – that is totally me!) in 14:11,

“O Lord, there is none like You to help between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”

God answers that prayer and not one of the million soldiers survives the ensuing battle, and no chariots are driven back to Ethiopia. WOW!!!! intense and devastating.

I rewrote this prayer as I think about the things that overwhelm me or even the little things that annoy me. My prayer goes something like this …

O Lord, there is none like You to help me! I am weak and my problems are mighty daunting. I rely on You alone. In Your name, I come face to face with my circumstances. O Lord, You are my God. Do not let the circumstances win over You.

My circumstances may not change or die completely … but I do know HE ALWAYS WINS!

So if you ask me “how are you?” … I might just say “weak” and that means awesome! He is winning!!

Abundant & Amazed

It was a great Sunday to start this week! God was lifted up in worship and communion. I was lifted up in His word and several great conversations with others in my church family.

The abundance of God’s work and presence in my days overflows my heart and I cannot contain it. God does these little amazing things ALL the time – it could be a conversation, a verse, the birds, my crazy squirrels, a song that shuffles first on my playlist, or the way things just “happen to happen.”

My early morning time with Jesus is filled with WOWS as the Bible reading directly relates to the stuff of my life. Not always pleasant and joyful, my eyes often fill with tears as He points out my sin and teaches me the way to go.  I see His timing in what is happening in my heart, my marriage, my kids and the Scripture I read. I could jump out of my skin with excitement at times.

With heart and mind about to burst, I “take five” and get more coffee, love on my doggie, play a round of Words With Friends. Does that surprise you? I don’t think He minds as He is usually on my side.

deniz-altindas-38128My life is not always smooth, I would say it rarely is. Each day teeter-totters with the possibility becoming a “bad day.” A change of plans, something breaks, someone says something or seemingly unimportant details fall out of place — I get cranky and out of sorts. But that response is happening less often, as I learn that praying is abiding in Jesus and roots itself in faith — both (prayer and faith) are hard to describe but so real.

Look for God working around and in you. Ask Him for eyes to see it.

For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your works; at the works of your hands I sing for joy! – Psalm 92:4

Christmas 2017

The thoughts started rolling just a few minutes ago as I wiped from the kitchen counter a mixture of rice krispies, glitter and cereal milk spots. I half-smiled saying “okay, God, if this is the time and this is what you want me to write.” My husband came around the corner with “what? what did you say? who are you talking to?” Simple answer, God.

It was the second time my husband walked into a room where I was this morning. The first time was in our bathroom and I was crying my eyes out while washing my face. I am overwhelmed with the expectations of Christmas – the presents, the wrapping, the groceries, the cleaning, the cooking, working, laundry, and the list goes on.

The  mundane routine of cleaning up from breakfast put my mind in a place to think about what I had enjoyed about this season … by and far, it was a quiet trip to my friend’s basement workshop where she makes amazing things for her etsy shop. I picked out for most of the women and girls in our families simple, special items as gifts from my heart to them.

This memory prodded my thinking about Jesus – THE gift of HIS heart to me. It is definitely NOT what I would have texted Him with links to the things I think I want or need. He didn’t even ask me what I wanted … because it’s about what He wants, and He wants me! He wants you!

25394914_10212848742286043_964476638095032709_oGOD wants and loves me so much He gave me an everlasting gift that reaches down to the dirty depths of my soul to redeem it. My  mind sees God thinking of me as He sent Jesus to be born of a woman in a barn. The simpleness of the gift humbles me, and I know I am loved by Him.

Rest in the first Christmas, the best Christmas! We cannot top it, but we can enjoy it!

So this is my Christmas post. I have been praying about what to write, and God answered this morning in the mundane.

Merry Christmas and see you in 2018!