Archives: Life with 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


Life with God: Impossible?

“Whom in your life do you believe, deep down, will never give their life to God?”

I turned off the engine, dropped keys into my purse, and slid out on the driver’s side. I left the car behind as I crossed the parking lot, but the question hung on. The pastor on the radio had posed it during his weekly 30-second devotional.

To paraphrase his longer question, who would shock our socks off if they ever left their current life and exchanged it for life through Jesus? We all know, and often love, people who either don’t give God the time or day, or they spend time shaking their fists in His face.

They’ll never become a Christian.

Ooops, did I just say that out loud? Nope, but if we’re honest, we’ve thought it about the person we’re picturing. Probably a lot.

Sure, we claim that we believe in God’s power to draw people to Him. But we know, too, that He allows free will and choice.

The question that came through the radio challenged me. Do I give up praying too quickly and assume their choice is final?

You can bet no one dreamed that Saul would change. Remember his murderous campaign on Christians?

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.  Acts 9:1-2 (NLT)

Saul thundered throughout the land, chasing down terrified Christians. Yet God did change his heart, his life–and through him, the world. But Ananias even debated with God Himself, doubting Saul’s (now Paul’s) transformation when God gave him the news. God’s power in Paul’s life sent shock waves throughout the infant Christian community.

We’d do well to think twice before giving up on someone. Let’s think of it this way: If Paul could sit down with us today and talk about God’s power to change a person (and his gratitude that He did just that), do you think he’d challenge us to keep praying for people we’re sure will never change? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question. =)

Or, let’s pretend for grins. Say you had made different choices before now or had found yourself in life-altering circumstances. Say you weren’t a Christian yet–maybe far, far from it. Knowing what you know now with your life in Christ, would you hope that someone would keep praying, keep reaching out to you?

Me, too.