Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I felt like my heart was going to bust earlier this morning.  I was just driving along, thinking about life and I felt really full of gratitude.  There is so much to be thankful for. 

I've been thinking a lot about gratitude. "Counting one's blessings" is a wise and healthy thing to do.  For me this week I have been counting mine, repeatedly. Stepping out of the shower the other night I suddenly uttered "I love my family so much."  And I meant it.  My gratefulness for them just bubbled right out of my mouth on its own.  It made me smile.  Because there have been lots of times the spontaneous utterances of the past have been tinged with anger or frustration.  Bitter words don't make you smile when they suddenly slip out. But I am crazy mad in love with my husband of almost 24 years, we have three not perfect but perfectly wonderful kids that although they drive me nuts a lot of days, I am really grateful to be their mom. 

I took the time to write some cards this week.  I wanted to express my gratitude for some of the women God has placed in my life.  The Lord spoke to my heart about them being "pillars" in my life when I was struggling a while back with loneliness and isolation.  God's brought new friendships since those days but more importantly he's made me more aware of certain relationships that have sustained years and years of relationship.  And my heart has felt full and blessed because of it, so I had to say so.

I had an icky season with my health recently (icky is the best word I can come up with because scary seems too dramatic and difficult seems overstated.) And so as I have come through the process and learned more about my overall health, I am really grateful that I am pretty healthy, as are my husband, my children and for the most part my parents.  Losing my beloved grandmother this year and seeing others lose loved ones as well makes me realize how blessed we are, but not to take it for granted - even still, tomorrow is not guaranteed, which makes me grateful for today. 

Our home, our jobs, our old but running cars - we are pretty blessed.  And I even find myself grateful that my 13 year old minivan is still running and I am car payment free for today.  Grateful. 

Being off Facebook for the last month has been good for me.  It's calmed my spirit and quieted my brain and removed a lot of distraction from my life.  It's given me the ability to focus on MY world instead of THE world and it's changed my perspective quite a bit.  

But in all my thoughts about what I am grateful FOR, the thing that has run through my mind the most the last few days is WHO I am grateful TO.  Because gratitude for the sake of itself does not compare to the sweet joy and fulfillment in recognizing Who I am grateful too, especially realizing how much more there is to be grateful for than the things He's given me. 

God loves me so much.  It's not some far off superficial thing when I say, "He gave his Son for me." It's Truth. Deep, powerful, foundational TRUTH that life is all about.  Grace, redemption, forgiveness - real, real and mine.  If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, it's yours too.  If you really know Him, then you know you have a lot to be grateful for too.  God is good.

God is good. 

I am grateful. 

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
    I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

Psalm 9:1-2

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I had this moment....

It's been an eventful few weeks for me.  I've stepped back from a lot and I did it with one intention and it ended up becoming about something completely else.  (Is that an acceptable sentence?  You get my point.)

My health has been challenged, a problem progressing into treatment that brought out complications, then more treatment brought pain and then complications just seemed to escalate and I've dealt with a plethora of issues that have worn me down physically.  Thankfully the first step back has done wonders for maintaining spiritual and mental strength and emotionally for the most part as well. (Translation: God is good.)

But when my daughter sang worship in her junior high youth group this past weekend I sent my husband to watch with a request to video tape because I just couldn't get there physically. Literally my pain and fatigue had me beat.

So it was actually days before I even came to myself and remembered to ask my hubby to let me see the video tape he'd made of her helping lead worship.  She sang along with one of her leaders one of my favorite (currently especially) worship songs. I don't know if it's a Bethel song or a Jesus Culture song (I think they may be related, actually) but it's a powerful and beautiful song that ministers to my soul, and is particularly ministering in this current season.

You can listen to it and read the lyrics as it goes along here:

As I watched the video of my daughter I was, of course as any mom would be, very proud.  But I could see her nerves, and maybe even a little disconnect from what she was actually doing.  She was "leading worship" but whether or not she was TRULY worshiping I couldn't tell.  To some degree, yes, but the fullness of it, I just didn't know. 

My husband helps "lead worship" from behind his drums, and what I love about him is that he TRULY worships.  Worship isn't easy for me, I am highly distractable, and so when I see the way my husband really enters in, that's powerful, especially when his hands and feet are doing a thousand different things.  But for me, the most powerful worship is always when the ones who are leading are TRULY worshiping because that isn't always the case, especially I am sure when you're just learning HOW to lead.  So I am not criticizing my daughter, just making an observation.  She did beautifully. 

So much so that as I headed to the shower after watching the videos the song really stuck with me.  And as I was singing it in the shower, I really was able to enter in.  That's just how I roll, in the middle of a congregation singing with me I fight to focus, get me alone and vulnerable before God in the shower, and there His presence is most powerful and evident to me. 

As I sang the second verse, "I've tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves, when my heart becomes free and my shame is undone, Your presence, Lord," it was as though something pierced my heart.  I could see the slow unbraiding of shame.  That's what it looked like to me, I could compare it to the "grave clothes" of Lazarus.  

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:44

He was bound, and Jesus set him free.  I had this profound a-ha moment of my own shame that Christ had freed me from.  That's the way I came to Christ, full of shame, and that was the first thing He dealt with me.  "Diana, come forth," if you will, and he took off the grave clothes of shame with the help of some of the women who followed Him.  

Remembering is good.  Because two decades and then some later it is easy to forget from whence I came.  And suddenly I thought about my daughter again, singing that song.  Of course it was hard for her to connect to the words.  She's 12, and thankfully had a relatively peaceful and uneventful life, and I don't think any "shame" she's ever felt could even compare to the shame being sung about in this song. 

Suddenly I had this moment, where I was glad that my young daughter had never experienced shame like that.  I think of so many young people violated or broken living lives that no child ever should, as victims or by their own choices, it doesn't matter.  It breaks my heart that they feel that shame.  And so I had a grateful thought and I had the hope that my daughter might NEVER know that kind of shame.  And of course I don't want her to ever experience any shame as the result of sinful choices - whether her own like me, or being victimized by someone else.   But, I thought, I DO want her to know that Jesus.  I want her to know the depth of His love, grace and redemption - somehow.  

I've said many times I feel stuck between as a mom wanting my children to have that testimony of knowing and following Jesus faithfully from a young age.  I want the goodness of that from them.  But I am also grateful for the depth of knowledge I have of Who Christ is because He called me out of the grave. 

I know He calls us all "out of darkness" and into His glorious light, but I am grateful that I know the pain of walking around in the darkness.  I still don't want that for my children but I do pray God will reveal Himself to them in the same depth, somehow.  Through His Holy Spirit of course. 

I guess at the end of it, we must embrace the testimony God has given us.  There are no comparisons, no one better way - it's just a matter of following Christ.  Letting Him write the story of our lives that in the end is for our good and His glory.  But I do hope that at some point, however God sees fit that all my children will be able to sing the words to songs like this and really GET IT. I am glad that as my daughter sings that song, she is making that invitation, even if she doesn't fully understand it yet.  "Holy Spirit You are welcome here..." The goodness of God is overwhelming, I want my children to know that.  In His presence is fullness of joy, I want people to know that. 

I am so very thankful for my Savior and all that He has done and continues to do for me. 

Holy Spirit You are welcome here,
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.
Your glory God is what our hearts long for,
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Ran across this random poem I wrote I have no idea when.  It looks like pages that fell out of a small journal or something.  I'm not sure.  I didn't date it, or possibly some of it is just missing, but the words are timely as I have just stumbled across it now.  Always fighting against the sense of not belonging, or being out of place - not matter where I am, or not being effective there at the least.  I sometimes feel inclined to give up on church, but never on Jesus.  But this poem whispers the truths that God places us where He wants us for His purpose.

I'm not sure if this was posted somewhere here before.  If it was, I couldn't find it. I made a few small edits, and part of the original prose may be missing too


My heart wants to wander
My eyes grow to weary to heed
My own flesh tries to prevent me
From my soul's sole greatest need

My soul longs for Your presence
I need to just sit at your feet
That Your Spirit may pour into my want
And make my satisfaction complete

Circumstances will conspire against it
The fellowship of my heart with Yours
The enemy of my soul seeks to destroy it
But my spirit deep within continually implores

"Father help me overcome every obstacle,
"That hinders my path to You
"Help me lay aside this life's cares
"And bask in the knowledge of what's True"

You've called me to a greater purpose
Than what I can see before my eyes
You have a plan to use me
To break through all the lies

Lies that say we don't matter
That there is no God who cares
They must be shattered by Your mercies
That Your love may reveal You're there

You're reaching out to each one of us
Calling us ever closer to Your heart
For it is Your greatest longing that
Of Your family and purpose we'd be a part

I know You gave Your all
So we could fellowship as One
No thing did You withhold
Not even Your precious Son

Yet still my heart longs with want
My flesh and my heart will fail
But I cling to the hope I have
That Your purpose will prevail

You are my Strength and my Hope
So my heart must persevere
And as I reach out in my weakness
I know You'll meet me here.

My weary head You'll lift
And look into my face
With gentle words You remind me
In Your plan I have a place

So in my weakness of flesh
My soul cries out in hope to You
Knowing no matter how I struggle
Your love and promises

©Diana DePriest
Original date unknown. 
Rewrite September 16, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

American Christian

Just felt like being poetic today, and this sort of took off in a direction of its own... not even sure what I think of it, but this is my way of processing sometimes.  I know it has a lot of truth to it... other than that, decide for yourself. 

American Christian
We stand and watch as the storm circles about
We hear cries of fear, no hope and of doubt.

The world is off kilter and the view incites fear
Dead seem the values once dearly held here.

There, for faith, people are losing their life
Our “global community” is connected through strife.

Nation against nation, man against man, war doesn’t end
Such great hate, hurt and anger, we can't comprehend.

Your people there are dying, their blood shed on the ground
In their world beheaded but in Your world they’re crowned.

The death of Your saints is dear to Your heart
And You are there with them, every suffering part.

But while watching their storm we can’t understand
Why do You hold back Your rescuing hand?

“Sovereign” is a word that is hard to choke out
It’s painted with faith, but colored with doubt.

In one simple word comes forth hope and disdain
Love for Your promise, but hate for their pain.

“All things together” is the promise You’ve made
We all stand in the steps of the plans that You’ve laid.

These things all must happen for Christ to return
These things that happen make our hearts for You yearn.

Hear our cries, “Come Lord Jesus, please won’t You come”
“Not yet,” is Your answer, by Your strength not succumb.

In faith they stand, believing till their last earthly breath
That’s why for Your saints it is so precious a death.

But Lord, it’s so hard to see that You’re working there
We imagine their pain, but in their grace we don’t share.

Great is Your grace and Your presence among them
From there is where their strength and power must stem.

But God save Your people, speak to their storm
Peace in their hearts, Your miracle to perform.

But here we continue to watch slip away
Freedom to worship more every day.

Could we hope to have the faith they have there?
American Christian in truth, we must be aware.

We look at them and we think “may it never be”
"Surely that kind of battle couldn’t happen to me."

There’s a darkness that’s coming we must withstand
Would we hold our faith if our life it demand?

“Live your life for Jesus,” we simply say
People are dying for Jesus today.

They are standing against true persecution
We here need a true faith revolution.

American Christian it’s time to awake,
Look and see what’s truly at stake.

Is your faith simply something you choose “do”?
Or is your faith what is the Truth about you?

Apathy has overtaken as we live in this bubble
American Christian this world is in all kinds of trouble.

Prosperity gospel to appease itching ears
Is the truth, little t, that America hears.

Our comfort is crumbling, the wolf at the door
I hope that we know what we really stand for.

Our brothers and sisters are on the front lines
But trouble is coming, ignore not the signs.

The days are evil, be redeeming the time
Declare the Truth, big T, the harvest is prime.

American Christian your faith must run deep
Beware of the danger, they come to slaughter His sheep.

It’s not them and us, to one body we belong
The persecuted need our prayers to help them be strong.

More believers today died by the blade
Their faith too strong for fear to dissuade.

Turn not your eyes from your TV screen
It could be our future that’s there to be seen.

Do we know our Jesus in this tangible way?
That not even death could cause us to stray?

Oh American Christian we must dig in deep
Oh American Christian we cannot continue to sleep.

Whatever you do, do not be deceived
Darkness is coming Truth must be believed.

Anchor your hope, all your life, in this Jesus
In good times and bad He always sees us.

Into His arms believers giving their lives
May we stand as strong when trouble arrives.

American Christian it is time to awake
Your very life may someday be at stake.

By Diana DePriest
© September 3, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014


I hate... no, let me be clear, I HATE detours.  

If you look at the picture and map above, this will tell a glimpse of the story for my strong personal reaction (repulsion) to detours.  On the map you'll see my messy marking of yellow and red.  The yellow indicates the closed road we dealt with for two years.  It was the passage way to much of the places in life my family likes to go (and doesn't "like" to, but has to go.)  For me I found that blockade mostly inconvenient when I was trying to get home.  That back passage way into our neighborhood was the way I got home from almost everywhere, and out of habit I would drive that way only to be turned around to a blockade similar to the one in the photo above. 

It was a glorious day when they opened back up that road.  I got up early just to drive through it when I saw another friend celebrating its opening on Facebook.  It was a good two weeks before I stopped whispering "Wooohooo" every time I drove through.  But it was just over a month before another blockade came into my life, the ugly red scribble on my map, and the actual photo above.  This too is a familiar passage way - leading to church, the grocery store and my kids' school (which starts in just over 2 weeks.)  And it's going to be locked up tight till at least some time in 2016. And the beginning of the process will include massive pile driving within a stone's throw from my house that is likely to give our house a good rocking on its foundation. And I'm not happy about that either. 

Even more than actual physical detours on the road, I am not at all a fan of the detours of life.  I don't like being asked to go a way different than I wanted or planned. I don't do well when I come up to a road block that says I cannot proceed any further, and I don't like it at all when I get pushed into traffic that says I have to go through an area that I have no interest at all in being in.  But like the roadblocks on the road, detours of life can not be powered through, manipulated out of or even avoided all together - not as long as you're trying to move through life.  This walk of faith isn't one you plot out for yourself.  It's one you have to simply follow along. 

I find myself dealing with little inconvenient detours right now, things like children breaking arms, and car trouble, and relational and financial struggles and that ugly six letter words CHANGE that force me to take a left turn where I wanted to go right, or a U-turn where I wanted to go through.  In the big picture they are a pain in the rear, and they have their negative effects, but there is nothing life shattering (although, could have been bone shattering, so there's that) but it's just uncomfortable and definitely NOT fun.  

My detours haven't taken me down any roads of late that I'm not still familiar with, but they are complicated and out of the way, and I just don't want to go there.  But, there I am.  And in all honesty, it does not bring the best out in me, especially when they seem to come in rapid succession.  Boom, boom, boom.  I want to cry out "FOUL!"  And in all honesty, it even makes me a little mad at God. (I know, I know, I'm the only one...) I think over and over, "Lord, if only _____" and I am adept at filling in the blanks with the little things that could have been different to change the outcome, and to keep me out of the detour.  In all honesty, "Why?" becomes my favorite question.  And the little spoiled child rises up inside me and my internal temper tantrum (which sometimes oozes out externally) twists my innards in a knot.  

The reality is, not all detours are minor like the ones I'm muddling through now.  Some of the detours are long, dark and windy.  They are the roads no one ever wants to find themselves on - but once detoured in that direction, there is no way out but through it.  No U-turns.  Death, disaster, divorce, miscarriage, infertility - no one ever plans for these things, no one ever signs up to take that road, but sometimes the detours just come, and there is no way around it but through it.  It brings a couple of scriptures to my mind. 

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord
and He delights in his way.
Psalm 37:23

I have a love/hate relationship with this scripture.  On the one hand it offers hope.  It tells me that God had a plan, and that there is purpose.  On the other hand, it just really ticks me off that in God's sovereignty He was OK with the struggle, or worse, in those really dark times, He was OK with the pain.  In my very fleshly humanness, I would like very much for life to be painless and simple, but it's simply not the way. 

Yes, I realize the Bible says that "it rains on the just and the unjust" and that in life bad things happen to good people, God's people.  Or as a Californian in the midst of the worst drought in decades, you could say that "Good things happen to bad people" (since we'd see rain as a good thing.) But which ever way you see it, it's true.  Belonging to God neither makes you immune to struggle and pain, nor does it guarantee you a blissful and peaceful existence (and on a side note, we should really stop presenting the Gospel as a panacea for that exact reason.) 

In all honesty, as I annoyed (and disagreeable) as I am about my detours, I see other people in detours of their own that make me even more filled with "Why?" and "God couldn't You have just"s...  As much as I "get it," I just don't get it... I know what it says "on paper," but the practical of scripture does not play out painlessly.  And the old adage "Life is hard, but God is good," sometimes sounds hollow, whether you're feeling a little beat up by life, or whether life has pulled the rug right out from under you.

There's this other scripture that comes to my mind as I think about the detours of life. 

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

It says it with authority, ALL things.  So from inconvenience to injustice, God promises to have His hand in it.  And He promises to work it out - for our good and His glory, and most of all to make us more like Jesus. It does NOT make the difficulties or the disasters any easier to weather.  At least for me, I know my flesh still rages against it, BUT if we are honest it does again invite in that little glimmer of hope.  God has not abandoned, He's actively at work, and we can trust Him.  For me, I do it with a little kicking and screaming along the way, but turns out God is equipped to handle my humanness, He loves me right in the midst of it.

Whether you are dealing with absolute darkness or just unpleasant difficulty in the midst of your detour, God's there.  Dare I say you might even find Him more present on the "long way around" than you would have if you had just continued on your plotted out road for yourself.  Above all others, I would say I don't like detours - I HATE them remember? But even in the midst of that I would encourage you, God is God of the detours too.  So hang in there, follow along the unplanned road, and keep your eye out for the signs, God will meet you there and He will lead you through.  Because although you have been led a way you did not plan, God has set that road for you all along, and You will find something there intended for you, even if its just more of Him.

I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
Isaiah 45:3

Monday, August 11, 2014

With my whole heart, the better part

It's only been a couple of days - and they haven't been perfect, but they have been good.  And I feel like the Lord has been speaking to me through them.

A few weeks ago I was really in that "good place" with the Lord.  Abiding.  It is a glorious thing to truly sense the Lord's presence as you go about your day.  I was sensing His nearness (which, by the way, is constant.) But I was hearing Him too.  I had a profound experience, a perspective eye opener type of interaction at the Lord's direction with another person that would fall short off the page if I tried to explain it, but it left me moved.

Then something went awry in our home and with in a couple of days I was knocked out of that abiding place.  Then I spent the next days and weeks trying to figure out how to get back to where I had been.  So profound an experience and it was like the pathway to it was quickly being forgotten.

Now mind you, life is life and to expect to always "experience" God in all of our emotions and senses seems unlikely.  Not because He is not near but because we in our humanness and sinful flesh have the cards stacked against us.  But that does not give us the pass from making the effort to get to that place of abiding that God calls us to.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." John 15:4

I love this verse, the whole chapter is one of my favorites in the Bible, and I often hear the Lord whisper to my spirit, "Abide, abide, abide."  Always in three - perhaps for Father, Son and Spirit.  But it my hearts cry to find the way to truly abide.

But disappointed and distracted, despite a few amazing days, I was having the hardest time "getting back" to that place.  But unlike so often in the past, this time I wasn't willing to just give up.

Last week as I opened the scriptures I visited one of my favorite passages.  The lesser known neighbors of one of those verses that is very popular, recited constantly, tattooed regularly and claimed as a life verse for many, Jeremiah 29:11.  But it's the next two neighbors that speak most profoundly to my heart:

 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13

It is verse 13 in particular that grips my heart: And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

So "simple" yet so profound. So this weekend I decided I was going to seek God, as best I could - with ALL of my heart.  And I prayed what that looked like.  

I turned off "data" on my phone - no Facebook, no email, then I left the phone in my car, or plugged in to the charger at the back of the house a lot rather than having it in my hand or in my pocket 24/7.  When I was in the car I kept it in my purse, behind my seat. There was no Twitter, no Instagram checking, and I (gulp) turned off the TV quite a bit too.  Instead of flipping through all 400 channels until I found something I was willing to "settle" on watching, I just turned it off.  It was quite a revelation for a leading member of a family that has multiple TVs on in every waking hour at our house. 

Saturday was the one day I managed to completely unplug for an entire day.  And I focused, FOCUSED on God and on my family.  I got up early before anyone else and read the Word and had breakfast with Jesus.  I took my daughter out and spent an ENTIRE day with her without looking at my phone once.  Not a single "just a minute, honey" to her while I reached out to say something to Facebook, instead I talked to her, and in my mind I talked to God too.  What a novel concept.  We went school shopping and out to lunch together, and I was mindful all day of focusing and investing in her, and ever so aware of God's presence right there with us.  

I did what may seem simple or even stupid to others, but I surrendered my eating to the Lord that day too.  I prayed and was thoughtful about how all my actions helped or hindered my witness and usefulness to Him.  Later in the day I went out with my hubby and I left my phone in the car while we did his errand at Home Depot.  

That night we had dinner the five of us together, working to put everything on the table, praying around the table, laughing and talking through the meal.  Then we went for a walk, ALL FIVE OF US!  It was AWESOME!  And we came home and had a family movie night.  And I actually focused on the movie, and on the people I was watching it with.  

I felt so close to both my God and to my people.  I just hadn't realized how much of not only a distraction, but a detraction from life my phone, social media and even the TV had become. I mean, I knew, but I really didn't know. I never watched a movie without playing solitaire on my phone. "What did I miss?" I would always ask because I was reading someone's post on Facebook.  

At one point in the midst of my time with Victoria while we were out and about during the day, I whispered a little silent "thank You" to the Lord for directing me to seek Him with my WHOLE heart.  I thanked Him for what a gift the time with my daughter felt like.  And I heard in my heart Him whisper back, "You have chosen the better part." 

It's a reference from the tale of Mary and Martha: 
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Now, I have never considered myself a Martha type - not so much because I am not thoroughly distract-able, but because I am not likely to be found busy in the kitchen when there is company in the living room. In a heartbeat I would rather be with the crowd.  But I am also likely to be the girl with her phone on the table, or in her hand, constantly disconnected from what's happening right on front of me.  
"Diana, Diana," Jesus might say, "You are worried and troubled about many things - Who liked your Instagram photo, who commented on your funny Facebook post, how many hours you can waste watching a marathon of all the Law & Order SVU episodes you've already seen many times.  But you CAN choose the better part." 
And so that's what I did almost all of this weekend. (I will confess when I made a short visit to Facebook to post something for a friend in need, it felt like it rose up a crack level addiction inside me, wondering and worrying what I was missing, but I managed to step away.) And it's what I long to do consistently and always - Choose the better part. Step away from the things that trouble and distract me, and focus on my God and my people. 
My husband, my children, and most of all my God - they are first.  (Not in that order but God, hubby, kids.) I've spent a lot... A LOT of years longing to fit in and find a place of belonging, and honestly Facebook magnifies how much I have not found that, specifically in ministry.  And lately the Lord has just been over and over reiterating to me that my family is my first ministry, and my most important.  And God has placed good and solid friendships in my life that actually extend beyond Facebook, and I am trying to invest myself there in a greater way - in a REAL life way, face to face, with coffee or dinner or with a handwritten card or (gulp) maybe even a phone call on occasion.  
Most of all the quiet that is created when changing this priority seems to make my heart more open, and my spiritual ears as well, to hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit in my life.  So I am going to really intently try to seek the Lord, WITH MY WHOLE HEART - and I'm going to choose THE BETTER PART, of quietness and sitting in relationship with God and others "IRL", rather than busyness and striving in the distractions of life today.  It won't be easy and I will likely fail, but I'm going to try.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Spoken For - A Book Review

I want to come right out of the gate by saying, I REALLY liked this book!  A lot!

When I thumbed through all the options of books to choose to review for Blogging for Books, I had a hard time picking on out, but this book, Spoken For, kept drawing me back.  In my mind the concept, "Embracing who you are and Whose you are," seemed simple but the truth proves profound, and that's exactly what I felt was so wonderfully expressed by the authors Robin Jones Gunn (author of the Christian novels in the Christy Miller Series) and Alyssa Joy Bethke (new mama, author and wife of Jefferson Bethke, hip young author, evangelist and "YouTube preacher" - you may have seen his viral video sensation "Why I hate religion but leave Jesus.")

I drug the reading of this book out for several weeks, most of the chapters were read sitting on the on the edge of the ocean with my toes dug deep in the sand and with the beauty of the Pacific Ocean peeking over the top of the book.  It was the perfect place for me to soak in the simple but profound truths filling this book.  It wasn't that it was difficult to read but I just wanted to take my time and really soak it in.

One of my favorite things in the world is a good women's retreat, and that's what the 182 pages between the covers of this book felt like to me.  I love a retreat where you are given solid teaching and then wander back to a big room with lots of couches filled with women pondering what they have heard and how it has or could apply to their own lives.  As I opened the book, Spoken For, I felt like I was sitting on a comfy couch between Robin and Alyssa with my feet tucked up under me as they shared stories from their own lives about how God had proven Himself to be true to the promises and declarations in His word.  They took me into the truth of their own experiences and I was touched by their faith, and it made the scriptural truths they shared more tangible and real.

Although I read this book on my own, I think this book would be an excellent resource for a women's study group - whether it was a few friends going through it together or an entire women's ministry study.  It's the kind of book that is simple enough for even a new or young believer but also holds nuggets and powerful reminders even for a woman like me who has walked with the Lord for decades.  Although I didn't take advantage of them going through the book alone, it has a great section at the end of each chapter titled "What Do You Think?" that is filled with thought provoking questions that would make it great to go deeper into the topic or foster excellent discussions in a small group setting.

Whether it's 5 out of 5 stars or two thumbs up, I would say this book is absolutely worth the investment.

If you aren't ready to take my word for it, read the first chapter for yourself by clicking here.

When you see I'm right, you can buy the book by clicking here.

You can also hear from author, Alyssa Joy Bethke, for yourself in the video below:

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, June 27, 2014

"No longer a Christian"

This blog of mine.  I think this is the longest it's gone dark since I started it six plus years ago.  It's not that I haven't had anything to say, but it's just that I've had so much to say that I haven't found the capacity within myself to filter through it.  

I have NEVER found this "Walk of Faith" that my blog is titled after an easy journey to make.  I look around at other Christians I know and I wonder, "What is it that they have that I don't?"  There was a time when I was able to figure some of that out.  I've shared here a lot in the last couple of years about the turn from grace I realize happened in me over the first decades of my faith in Christ.  What I mean to say is I had forgotten what a horrible wretched sinner I was and got pretty full of myself - I thought I was doing Jesus some sort of favor with my oh so righteous life.  But revelation came, and I got over myself and remembered the "amazing grace that saved a wretch like me," but it didn't fix me, or make this difficult trek any easier.  Maybe for a short season, but not much of one at all. 

I know, or rather I THINK I know, that a lot of people probably think I make it hard for myself.  I especially think that's so with some of those folks who I find myself looking at who seem to make this Jesus walk look like a simple one.  I don't think I actually believe that it IS a simple one, but that's the perception given off.  "Everything is good and happy in Jesus."  I mean, I think there are mountain tops, experiences, maybe even seasons where it feels like that, but in my heart of hearts I believe there are some pretty damn deep valleys in between.  Valleys, deserts, darkness - I don't think any walk of faith is without them.  

Now I think there is a division between the glass half full camp and the glass half empty, but then there is my little camp that says, "Look at that damn glass, it's got a crack, and there are hard water stains, and I think that water - that by no means is half full - looks like somebody backwashed in it."  Yeah that's me - and some folks think I just CHOOSE to see the world that way, but they'd be mistaken.  I have no Pollyanna in my DNA - I don't even have any Polly (unless you want to talk about her pie because I have been known to let a little of that into my DNA.)  I see the wrong in the world around me, it's like it's in neon and 3-D most of the time screaming out at me, and not only is it hard to see the forest through the trees, but I can't even see the leaves through the termites.  And all I can focus on is how things ought to be different.  

And when you live like that (the way I am made up) in your world and your world is the Church, that makes for a lot of struggle and complication.  I always feel like I am hitting up against one more wall.  And I just have to be honest with you, I'm worn out.  A lot of days I want to chuck the "whole thing, "throw in the towel." I'm not saying the Church isn't a good thing, I'm just saying I am really worn out and tired of trying to find my place in it. 

"No longer a Christian."  That is the thought I have had about myself a lot over the past couple of weeks.  When I think of the word "Christian," I think of two meanings: (1) a follower of Christ; and (2) a "little" (imitator of) Christ.  And I don't feel like either one of those definitions applies to me.  I don't feel like I see anything "Christ-like" in me anymore.  And I don't feel like I am following Him anywhere.  My description of my faith right now would be to say it's as though I am looking at the Father, and I am thinking to myself, "I see You, I know You, I just have nothing to say to You."  I'm not mad, I'm not backslidden (despite the old argument "if you aren't moving forward you're moving backward" - that's another thing I'm pretty fed up with, sound bite/ cliche Christianity.)  It's not even that I don't WANT to talk to the Father, I just have no idea what I would even say.  The reality is that the following Him and the reflecting Him go hand in hand, and it's because I don't feel like I AM following (or that He's actually leading anyway) that I am seemingly unable to even reflect Him at all.  

But I guess the reality is that my definition of "Christian" is actually inaccurate. And that I am a "Christian" just because however I feel about the walk, the talk, the struggle and even this "life," at the end of the day I know, believe, accept and rely on the fact that Jesus is in fact who He said He is, that HE died for me, and I confess Him with my mouth and I believe it in my heart...  I AM saved.  At the end of the day "MY Christianity" is about HIM, and Who He is and what He did and not at all about what my life, or my words or my attitudes, make-up or DNA even look like. It's not about me, it's about Him.  

Maybe this is some small part of what Paul meant when he told the Philippian church to "WORK out their salvation with fear and trembling."  WORK being the operative word here. Lord knows I find my salvation to be WORK.  Sometimes there is fear, sometimes even trembling, but for me, consistently, if not always it is - WORK.

I am grateful that the Lord is patient with me - He may well be the only One, but no matter what any other human reaction may be (to my blogs, to my words, my attitudes, my life), God has not grown weary with me.  And God, unlike any other human knows the truth of my love and relationship for and with Him.  It may NEVER look like peaches and cream to those in the world or Church (or church - little "c") around me, but perhaps there will be some hope found or offered in a relentless effort in me that though I may walk away from a lot of things, people, relationships, a church, a ministry, whatever, I hope and pray my heart that is so prone to wander will manage somehow to be steadfast and continually struggle for the faith that may not look pretty but will be thoroughly refined, worked hard and in the end perhaps have the strength that will survive the struggle and never walk away from Him. 

I hope so....  this is my prayer. 

My heart is steadfast, O God;
I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my [a]soul.
Awake, harp and lyre;
I will awaken the dawn!
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples,
And I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your lovingkindness is great above the heavens,
And Your truth reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
And Your glory above all the earth.
That Your beloved may be delivered,
Save with Your right hand, and answer me!

Psalm 108:1-6

Monday, May 19, 2014

Lessons in death and its aftermath.

It's been over a month since my last post, the monumental 500th. And it's ironic to me that it ended with "Easter is coming, and not just on the calendar," when it seems like life has demonstrated a lot of the opposite since I last held my fingers to the keyboard. It's been exactly a month, and the kind of month filled with questions like I talked about in my last post:

Where are You, Jesus?

How could You let this happen?

Don't You care about me?

Now I say all that knowing EXACTLY where Jesus has been, knowing He not only cares about me but loves me beyond my finite understanding. I know He's been with me, and with my family and loved ones, and I know that everything happening has been with purpose, because He promises it so. But it does not change the factor of feelings, not one little bit.

Easter Sunday went over pretty well. I served at my post and accomplished my responsibility at the Helicopter Egg Drop for the church's Easter outreach. I sometimes miss participating in Easter a little, but at the end of the day I feel like I have served - God, my church and people in our community, and that outweighs anything else.

Who would have thought that supervising the corralling of hundreds of kids and dozens of volunteers would seem tame compared to the weeks that followed.

The day after Easter while my family was celebrating the ten year anniversary of our "Gotcha Day" my beloved maternal grandmother was admitted to the hospital "for a few tests." I got the phone call later that evening to let me know what was going on and like pulling a rip cord on a top, things just spun a completely different direction and fast right after that. 8 days of hospital vigil led to two days of hospice which led to a week of planning a funeral and then just a few hours to formally say goodbye. It was stunning.

I learned several lessons through that spin of the top, ones I hope I won't soon forget:

Friendliness isn't friendship. People you think might actually be your friends reveal something deeper in times like this. It's hard, but also important to know.

Hospitals are places for quiet voices and gentle spirits. If you can't be a calming influence, don't come - not only for the sick, but for those who surround them full of emotions like anxiety, fear and sadness.

Never say things like "At least she had a long life." FYI when someone is still freshly grieving the loss of somebody they love don't try to find the silver lining, it doesn't exist in that moment - and when they come to the revelation of that, they will do it on their own. And please, please, please, please don't compare their loss to your or someone else's loss in the past. When someone is grieving, do everything in your power not to make that moment about you.

Scripture isn't a cure. Good intentions aside, the classic "All things together for good" or "we grieve with hope" promises do not make everything better for a person overwhelmed in the moment. It cheapens God's Word in all honesty. Reality is it isn't something we are supposed to apply to someone else's hurt or problem. Ever look in a mirror? Ever shine a mirror in the face of someone else? Not the same effect. There will be a time when someone grieving or hurting will reflect on Truth and find comfort and healing in it - they may even receive it from you, but it has to be in relation not simple application. So don't do it - and if you don't heed this warning, don't be all offended when it isn't received well.

People will surprise you. In both bad ways and good. Some of you just really suck at grief and death, for all the reasons above and more. And honestly I can't give you a do and don't list in this respect because it's really based on the needs of the hurting and grieving. Some people need you to come and sit at the hospital with them, for others that's the last thing they want. In this process you need to be a responder, responding with time and patience, not easily offended, filling the needs as they come - driving kids to school, picking up food, texting a simple "I'm praying for you," and then actually doing it.

People will surprise you - in a good way too. Some people are really really good at the whole hospital, illness, death and grief thing. If I had my guess it would most often be people who have been through it, but I have also seen that it can be learned (major props to my 20 year old son who went past his comfort zone to step up and learn to be good at something he'd never really been through.) Cards and test messages, voice mails (don't expect long phone conversations) are like drinks of cool water. Getting cards from people I didn't ever think I would made such an impact. People coming and sitting in a funeral of someone they didn't know out of love and friendship to one who is grieving, ministry beyond words.

Death and the grief process are a filter. It's like when you go and get your physical eyes checked and they have you testing for glasses. You sit looking through this little machine, they flip the lens, "Which is clearer, A or B?" Death is clearer than life. It is like a magnifying glass to delineate: friendliness from friendship - fair weather friends from true friends, ministers from administers, and love. There are three kinds of it that become easily deciphered in times like this: The throw away "word"; the emotion of it (which isn't always reliable) and the action of it. For the record, I will take the action without emotion every day and twice and Sunday, though the emotion at least has a value - but as for the throw away word, I'm really pretty much done with it. "We love you guys," is a load of crap when it's said as you walk away. It's right up there in the silence of those who use the throw away phrase in the every day and disappear in the challenge.

Mmmm... everything in me is more convinced that people suck. But I am also reminded that not all people suck. Most of all I hope I have learned some life lessons that will help me not to be that kind of person.

If people find this post offensive, I will only sort of apologize. I'm still a little raw, so it may be a tad harsh, but if it ruffles your feathers, I challenge you to stop and think if maybe you need to reevaluate how you handle situations like these.

Now I will make one disclaimer, I do know we're not all called to minister to everyone in their pain and struggles (though some of us have to do it at some level in vocational and familial situations.) But I will say this, a kind word, like "I'm sorry for your loss," or a simple (kept) promise like "I'll pray for you," goes a long way. A hug is golden and a listening ear is a treasure. You ought to be able to find that in yourself. It's called LOVE, and if you are a Christian, guess what, you're called to it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Days of Silence - 500th post, 6 years later

I have sat down twice now to type up this, somewhat monumental 500th post. The first time I sat down and did it from my phone and Swyped the whole thing out... then between the news of braces required and ten teeth (two kids, 8 teeth and 2 teeth) needing to be filled - the hour's worth of text I had entered disappeared. The second time I sat down on the actual 6 year anniversary and I just stumbled and fumbled with what I wanted to say. I tried to make the 500th post an event and it just wasn't meant to be.

So a couple days have passed, and it's a busy week here - in addition to the ten year anniversary of our family Gotcha Day and of course this other little event called Easter, I have had a lot going on - family sickness, trouble, struggle and more. I really wanted to make this post "something" but it just wasn't working out.

Then it occurred to me - I never intended this blog to be about ME, so much as (as it says in the title) about my Walk of Faith - which for the record is WAY more about God than me. He's the point. I am not.

So it's Holy Week, and today, Saturday, is sort of the least spoken about day of that week, but it has always been the day that has been most intriguing to me, and I think about it a lot. There was no triumphant entry on this day of Holy Week, it was not the day Jesus was anointed with a woman's tear for burial. There was no important ceremonial dinner, no crowds crying out, Jesus wasn't in the garden praying.

Jesus was in the tomb. The disciples were scattered, the apostles were hiding, Peter was overwhelmed with guilt of his betrayal, the women were weeping. The Pharisees were rejoicing, the devil was feeling victorious for the Light of the world had seemingly been snuffed out.

For those who loved and followed Jesus, the darkness and death of hope had to have been overwhelming. The questions had to have been tearing at their faith. The lack of understanding had to have broken their hearts.

Was it real? Did they truly see the miracles? Was Jesus truly who he said He was?

Where was the victory? The freedom? The peace they had been promised? They had believed for one thing - that God would rescue them, and instead it seemed they had been abandoned.

Evil had won. Surely as they looked about at what they could see, this must have been the thought that plagued their minds. Surely this was the darkest of days. They could no longer hear His voice. They could not understand His actions. They had to have even had at least a note of doubt about whether or not Jesus was the Son of God at all.

In my 22 years of faith, I have had dark and quiet days, days where these kinds of questions plagued my mind.

Where are You, Jesus?

How could You let this happen?

Don't You care about me?

But I cannot begin to imagine how much darker they days that Jesus lay in the tomb must have been. To have been a witness to something to vile and violent, so incomprehensible, and to have wondered when He said "It is finished," just what that meant.

I am grateful that I have lived life on this side of the cross. Because I know what the disciples did not. Sunday was on it's way. That life and resurrection was coming, and that the stone would roll away to reveal an empty tomb that would change EVERYTHING.

When I have dark days where God is silent, and even where I cannot make sense of things, even having to wonder where God is in any circumstance I face - I know this, Jesus is the God of resurrection life - and that Hope is real in Him.

He NEVER abandons.
Never leaves.
Never forsakes.
Never forgets.

And ALWAYS is God...

Of life.
Of light.
Of hope.

True to His word, faithful to His promises. He will not "return" the way He did after the resurrection, because no matter how things seem, He never leaves us, is always with, and even if the shadows of this life overwhelm, it's just a matter of time before He steps out from behind them to show and to prove that He has never ceased to be working in us, through us and on our behalf.

I don't have to fear the Days of Silence, because although in can be hard and scary when God works quietly, I can know to the very depth of my being He is always working, just like He was those dark devastating days He was in the tomb.

He changed everything. Oh death where is your sting? Jesus came and died and took your power, snatching up the keys of hell, death and the grave, usurping back the power of the enemy, making him nothing more than impotent fool awaiting his eventual but definite demise.

Whatever we face - we are MORE than conquerors in Christ Jesus. Victory is His, and in Him it is ours as well.

God is for us.

God is with us.

Silence and darkness mean nothing.

We just have to hang on.

I am my Beloved's and He is mine.

In Him I have




and Everything I need....

Easter is coming, and not just on the calendar.