Archives: Life with God

Dancing with the Unseen Partner

Does your neighborhood have a lot of trees?

photo by ECP

photo by ECP












Trees cover our part of town. Tall ones, short ones, and in between. I love it. From where I write green fills my view of our backyard.

Birds chatter and chirp. When there’s a breeze, they sing while grasping the swaying limbs where they perch.

It’s those breezes that capture my gaze today.

Well, not the wind itself. Can’t see that, of course.

It’s the leaves. And those branches that wave to each other with grace, like neighbors calling to neighbors over the backyard fence.

My imagination takes over, and I’m almost convinced that the leaves and branches move themselves. But my common sense knows better.

…And I’m back to the breeze. Without that, the trees have no movement. No dance. It’s what brings them to life and makes them graceful.

The dancing trees give visual testimony to the invisible wind.

So it is with our God. Without Him, we stand solitary and motionless. We exist, but there’s no dance.

Yet when we give Him our life, He breathes His Holy Spirit over us and into us. We move. We sway. We reach out to others who’ve joined the dance.

We’re full of grace, and the world sees the evidence of the invisible God.




In the Trenches

What is it about challenges that bind a group together? Have you ever noticed that?


I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week. As I write this, our church youth group is taking part in an annual mission trip/youth camp.

Several youth groups in our area are spending the hotter-than-the-sun days of this week all over our town. They’re ripping off roofs for new ones, giving elderly and disabled people access to the outside world through new wheelchair ramps, cheering up homes through fresh paint, and other repairs.

It’s fascinating to watch our group during these weeks. They don’t scatter as much during free time or meals. They gravitate toward one another naturally, even if they’re on each others’ last nerves.

And throughout the year they keep these common experiences alive. “Remember that cactus that grew through the roof?” Yep, they all remember. Together. Just like I remember stories from mission trips of yore. (I like getting to use that word whenever I can, don’t you?)

Challenges bind us together.

The other day I ran into a former coworker from my hospice days. Eight years spanned the time from our last meaty chat. But we–and several other comrades–had hunkered in the trenches in those times. As we talked it was like we’d seen each other yesterday. Nothing can break our experience together.

It’s as if these bonds are God’s bonus for surviving and thriving in difficulty.

So, what challenges are you going through today? Are others facing them head on with you? Then take heart! You’ll share those common badges of honor forever.

And it’ll be like no time has passed, even if the years carry you far away from each other.



Stomp. Thud. Whack. The ceiling sounds like it’s ready to rain down on us.

I smile and look down at my little hound dog, Daisy. Ruff! [Whimper.] She can’t decide if she’s defending our home or needing to cower.

Roofers rule the top of our house, showing the old, damaged shingles no mercy. The noise and commotion sound great to my ears. I know we’re getting the shelter of a much-needed new roof in return.

Daisy’s not convinced. I wish I could explain it to her. Wish she’d trust me when I tell her over and over, “It’s okay.”

She tucks her tail and paces anyway.

Do you think God ever feels like we do?

He allows noise and scary commotion in our lives to grow and benefit us. Out with the old, damaged bits. In with the new and improved things we need to heal and to carry out His will.

But we don’t understand or glimpse the big picture. We just feel the confusion.

He knows that. And He tries to comfort us. “It’s okay,” He whispers to us over and over. He wishes we’d just believe Him.

We’d do well to listen to the whisper and take shelter in His arms.

Even if we won’t understand this side of heaven.



Say It! Three Reasons to Praise God

If someone knew God based solely on what you said about Him, what would they know?

He’s put it on my heart lately that too often I’m silent about Him–His work, His worthiness, His love and care for us.

Can you relate? It’s not that I’m mute on the subject on purpose. It’s that a day, a week, can go by and I don’t realize that ears around me haven’t heard two words from me that praise Him specifically.

David didn’t have that issue. The Psalms bulge with his specific praise of God. Here are just two:

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.  ~Psalm 34:1

We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.  ~Psalm 75:1

And did you notice something about these verses? Verse one, both of them. David kicks things off with praise of God. It’s not an afterthought. How often do my friends and family hear God’s praise first from me, not last?

But it can be a win-win for God and for us:

1. God deserves our praise and acknowledgment, period. When we speak highly of Him, it blesses Him.

2. It’s gets us outside of ourselves. Have you ever noticed that it’s easy to focus on ourselves and our problems? Telling about what God has done gives us the gift of perspective. We’re reminded that God is faithful and loving. It’s hard to wallow or be negative when we look up at Him.

Not only that, but…

3. Praising God in our everyday life holds out hope to those who need it. You never know when something seemingly insignificant that we mention is just what someone needed. It may even point them to Jesus for the first time.

I think it’s high time I loosen my lips and invite God into the conversation.

How about you? Do you find it easy or challenging to bring God into your daily conversations?





Speaking out loud about what God is doing.

Why? God commands it, it blesses others, it blesses us

How? Awareness, then everyday conversation


Got Fear? Three Ways to Handle It

What are you afraid of? What makes you worry?

Josie, the heroine of my current novel-in-progress, wouldn’t admit it, but she fears a lot of things. The very flying that she adores, letting her family down, loving again… I’d best shush from telling all her secrets or else she won’t speak to me for awhile.

The truth is, most of us carry more anxiety than we realize or care to acknowledge.

I know I did.

Few people know this, but, for a couple of months many years ago, anxiety trapped me in its web.

Maybe it was the newness of working with a local hospice and the realities that come along for the difficult ride. Maybe it was other things. Either way, those were some of the longest weeks of my life. Every little physical “symptom” became something to worry and obsess over. Twice I ended up in the ER with tangible symptoms that my anxiety created.

I prayed. I prayed a lot. That helped, but then something else happened.

A godly woman who’d been through something similar recognized what was going on. She sat me down and gave me my diagnosis: “You have anxiety.” The worry itself had become the problem, rivaling any real boogey man. Over the next half hour she shared her story. The light bulb went off in my head, and the peace flooded my heart.

Yes, I did have anxiety, and I also had God. It was going to be okay. And it was. Exposed and robbed of its power, the anxiety slinked away.noun_4619_cc

I’m glad I had that experience. I can say that honestly. God used it to bring me closer to Him. I came out stronger and wiser, and it has served me well.

That’s not to say that I’m immune to relapse or am a mental health professional, but God taught me a thing or two about dealing with anxiety. Perhaps there’s a nugget of helpfulness here for you or someone you care about.

1. Nip it in the bud. Spending time with God each day–real, quality time–helps head off gripping anxiety. Praying, reading the Bible, and sincerely giving over the day’s worries keeps our eyes on Him and keeps us from relying on our own strength.  Yes, bad things may happen still, but which way would we rather face challenges: with God or without?

2. Set an alarm clock. Do you ever not even realize you’re worrying excessively about something? It can be easy to ignore the soundtrack of anxieties that’s set on repeat in the background of our hearts. Ask God to alert you, like an alarm clock, to anything that fuels anxiety. This can prevent the worry from accelerating into a runaway train.

3. Nurture relationships. Anxiety festers in isolation. The worrier might feel embarrassed or ashamed of their anxiety. Godly friends and loved ones who care and hold us accountable can help deflate the worry. They can also throw that lifeline of objectivity and perspective.

The world is a scary, wonderful place. There’s a lot to worry about if we allow ourselves. Anxiety itself doesn’t have to be one of them.

Related verses:

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8 (NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18