Monthly Archives: January 2012

safely through till morning

“Because the LORD kept vigil that night… ” (Exodus 12:42)


A few weeks ago, our elderly neighbor, Mr. Jim, called us in the middle of the night. We’d instructed him to do so should a need arise. It did. His bride of sixty years plus had fallen in the bathroom, and he couldn’t get her back on her feet. Billy was able to help out and to save our neighbors another 911 call.

Since that time, I check on them every morning. Not with a phone call or a visit but, instead, with a single glance out my window. I look for the familiar lamplight in their den. If it’s glowing, I breathe a sigh of relief. The lustrous warmth from behind their window pane tells me one thing.

They made it safely through the night till morning.

In many ways their certainty serves as mine. I, too, made it safely through the night till morning. Seeing their light reflects back on that fact that my lamplight is also burning… lit and fueled by a night’s worth of resting. I cannot see it as it’s happening—this collection of rest that gathers in the folds of my flesh as I slumber in the dark. But each new morning, I’m reminded that what I cannot see happening in the dark—cannot manage nor manipulate while in an altered state of consciousness—is often the strength that carries me through the daylight hours.

God is the Keeper of that darkness. God superintends the gathering and collection of strength as I rest. I’m not always comfortable with the conditions of that rest. Many have been the nights when I’ve fought the constraints of my darkness, wrestled with the unknown realities of nighttime, only to arrive depleted by dawn’s arrival. Rather than giving in to a normal, nocturnal cycle, I rally against it. I burn a candle in defiance, refusing to let the night do its work in me. Those are times of lesser faith… lesser trust in the God who keeps vigil for me.

Oh to be a woman of faith who doesn’t run from the darkness but, instead, who believes God to see her safely through till morning. A “kept” woman—kept safe, kept warm, kept closely, kept wholly by the Father who draws his children closely to his heart and who uses their darkness as the growing field of a tremendous, unshakeable trust.

I’ve been through a dark night, friends. A long, drawn-out season of nocturnal growth. As the dawn approaches, I don’t feel as rested as I’d like. Some night seasons require more than others. But of one thing I am certain…

I am stronger for the night I have known, because God has kept vigil for me.

A dark night with a vigilant God grows a stronger spirit. God is the candle that stands in the shadows of our sleep and that keeps our hearts fueled for the arrival of dawn. A new day, a new season to live as a certain witness to the night’s growth that has preceded it.

Today, I’m a witness. You are as well. We’ve made it through another night, and our candles are still burning. You may not be aware of it, but you have a few neighbors—a friend, a family member, a co-worker, a stranger—who are looking through their windows into yours this morning to make sure that your lamplight is on. Your light is important to them. It shines as a testimony to a night’s rest, a night’s trust, a night’s growth, a night’s vigilance by a loving God. He kept you then; he keeps you still.

Thanks be to God for the keeping, reaching hold of grace! God is growing his kingdom in you and through you… even in the darkness. The light from your window strengthens me. Thank you for allowing me a look inward from time to time. As always…

Peace for the journey,

On Nagging God…

“At that time I pleaded with the Lord: ‘O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.’ But because of you [referring to the Israelites] the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me.
‘That is enough,’ the LORD said. ‘Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.’” (Deut. 3:23-26)


My son has perfected his nagging. How do I know this? Because, more often than not, I’m officially nagged. Weary worn from his tactics of repeated negotiations and hugely bothered by the fact that he doesn’t know when to quit… when my “no” is a “no” and why it isn’t wise to cross over that line. For the record, I’m not much of a “no” momma, so when a “no” rolls off my tongue, I think, perhaps, it confuses my son and fuels his will for the debate.

Just a little more persistence, just a little more obnoxious determination, and I’ll wear her down.

Sometimes it works, especially when he was younger. But now that he’s approaching puberty (and I’m approaching forty-six), he’s got less wiggle room for negotiation tactics, and I have less patience for entreating them. Things might be easier now if I’d have said more “no’s” to the dinosaurs at the Dollar Tree when he was three years old, but there’s a huge divide between dinosaurs that cost a dollar and purchases that exceed that amount by fifty times. Fifty dollar purchases must be weighed carefully in any household, and for a boy who’s prone to whims over reason, even more so.

Nagging notions + wasteful spending = selfish, temporary pleasure.

I know. I’m not so unlike my son, especially when it comes to nagging God about something rather than letting his “no” come home to roost in my heart as acceptance. Fortunately, I have a bit of age and life experience that allow me to sometimes see past temporal gain. I know something of nagging and wasteful spending and winding up with far less than what I’d hoped for. Accordingly, when I now receive a “no” from God, I’m more willing to accept it without need for further explanation. God sees better than me, and his forecast for my future is more expansive and far lovelier than what currently can be seen from my dining room window.

Moses was a nagger, not so unlike my son and me. He, too, wanted something he couldn’t have—immediate access to the Promised Land. Unlike me, he had open access to a conversational God and didn’t have to wonder about God’s response to his desire.

“That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”

God shut Moses down, because God saw better than Moses—a future more expansive and far lovelier than the current reality claiming Moses’ feet. God saw past the earthly Promised Land. God saw the Promised Land of eternal consequence. God saw heaven. God saw home. And God knew that saying “no” to Moses’ nagging was a gain for everyone in the end. Moses would no longer have to deal with an obstinate people; instead, Moses could go directly through the gates of forever and live in peace with his God, his Friend.

Nagging notions + God’s understanding = limitless, eternal pleasure.

Sometimes, we just have to wait for it, friends.

How much energy are you wastefully spending in nagging negotiations with God today? When have you heard his “no” only to be confronted by your willful “yes”? If, by all accounts, you’ve been given a “no” by God, then will you trust that it is for your good and for your gain?

Today, as I’m sitting at my dining room window and contemplating all things Jesus, I am tenderly and willingly confronted by God’s rebuke to Moses. I receive it as my own and fall to my knees in conviction for the nagging agitation that I’ve contributed to his ruminations in recent days.

That is enough, Elaine. Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.

God sees better than me, and his forecast for my future is more expansive and far lovelier than what currently can be seen from my window.

Nagging notions + God’s understanding = limitless, eternal pleasure.

Knowing this… I know enough. Canaan is the eternal “yes” that allows me to see beyond God’s “no.” Today, I rest there while living here, and all is well with my soul.

Blessed, sweet peace for the journey.

PS: From a random drawing, the winner of Lisa’s book and a set of Cindy’s cards is Denise! In addition, I chose Leah to also receive a set of cards from Cindy. Ladies, please check out Cindy’s etsy shop and let me know which design you’d like. Once I receive them from Cindy, I’ll send them to you.

"You are Beautiful in God’s Eyes" by Lisa Shaw (a give-away)

Several months ago, I wrote a post on solving the problem of pain. In it, I talk about the idea of personal creativity and its direct connection to helping heal the wounds of others. Musicians play instruments. Singers sing. Bakers bake. Teachers teach. Planners plan. And writers… well we write. We give our words to others in hopes that something we’ve written might resonate with readers in a positive way, thus fostering heart health—body, soul, and spirit.

Lisa Shaw is one such writer, and she delivers a message of healing in her first book release, You are Beautiful in God’s Eyes. I’ve read the book through a few times now, even keeping it on my nightstand. Why? Well, I like the cover. Seeing Lisa’s beautiful smile reminds me of the loving investments she’s made into my heart over the years. Secondly, I keep her book handy because every word contained within is a continual reminder for me to look beyond the flawed perceptions I harbor about myself and, instead, to begin to see myself as God sees me.

Beautiful. Created by God’s hand. Thought about. Considered. In God’s image. On God’s heart.

Indeed, a message easily forgotten by me on days when I’m tempted by the enemy to focus solely on my imperfections. Each chapter in Lisa’s book rings with a clarion call to get back to the basics… back to the beginning when Father God sat with the idea of me on the front side of Genesis and called me very good. The idea of me when he walked his Son to a bloody grave. The idea of me when he walked his Son out from the grave and into the folds of heaven. The idea of me when he sent his Spirit to dwell in the hearts of his people. The idea of me when he tucked my life inside the safety of my mother’s womb. The idea of me some forty-five years later when it’s sometimes easy to forget that I’m still God’s very good idea… warts and all.

Perhaps you understand. Perhaps there are seasons when you’re easily swayed by personal opinion rather than God’s opinion. Times when you let down your spiritual guard to entreat the lies of the enemy that label you to a lesser degree than God’s very good. If that’s you (and it’s certainly been me), then You are Beautiful in God’s Eyes is a good starting point for redefining who you are in Jesus Christ.

Lisa writes like Lisa lives—authentically and passionately for the kingdom cause. She is a strong encourager of God’s people and an even stronger advocate for the transforming work of God’s Word. Lisa doesn’t let her readers off the hook easily. She calls for greater discipleship on the part of her readers, a willingness to dig deeply for the “beautiful” that belongs to each one of us as God’s children. I am grateful for her deliberate prod and for her obedience to take the Father’s message to the world. In doing so, she is helping to solve the problem of pain.

Thank you, Lisa, for writing these words. You are beautiful in God’s eyes and in mine. As always…

Peace for the journey,

PS: For a chance to win a copy of Lisa’s book, please leave me a comment expressing your interest. In addition to Lisa’s book, the winner will receive a set of Cindy’s handmade note cards as beautifully promoted at her Etsy shop.

Please take time to review Cindy’s craftsmanship and let me know some of your favorites. She, too, helps to solve the problem of pain with her creativity! The winner of Lisa’s book and Cindy’s note cards will be announced with my next post. Shalom.

moving past the unknown..

I’ve been thinking about the conversation we had back in August. The “I’m going back to college, and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life” conversation. Not an unfamiliar conversation between us. It surfaces on occasion, more so now that he is mid-way through his junior year at the university. Certainly, he has some thoughts and is working his way through a degree program, but there’s a nagging confusion that lingers in the shadows.

The unknown.

The unknown can be paralyzing, especially when you’re twenty-one and many in your peer group already have their five year goals in place and their resumes written. So often the unknown can foster paralyzing fear over adventurous faith, crippling insecurity over settled confidence. The unknown can keep a life stuck right where it is, walking in circles with feet shackled to the comfort of uncertainty. Yes, comfort. Sometimes it’s more comfortable to stay stuck in uncertainty than to move forward.

I’m not so unlike my son. I’m forty-five, and I’m still wrestling with what I want to be when I grow up. Some days, the unknown overshadows known truth, and I get stuck. Fear and insecurity creep in and the shackles around my feet seem an easier fit for me than the faith and confidence that is mine in Jesus Christ. Instead of progression, I regress. One step forward and two steps back isn’t in keeping with God’s growth plan for my life. Certainly, any forward movement is a gain, but at forty-five, I need to do more. With age, comes wisdom, and it’s time I started acting my age.

Acting. Action. A verb, not a suggestion. And so, I go back to that conversation I had with my son nearly six months ago, and I remember those few words I spoke into his confusion.

Try something new, son. Get out from behind your computer, get out of your dorm room and try something new… even if it’s uncomfortable. What’s comfortable isn’t working for you. It’s limiting your vision and keeping you stuck. Getting out into the world, meeting people face-to-face instead of on the Internet, is going to re-connect you to life. People and places—that’s where you’ll find it. Your dreams, your goals, the pulse that will move you forward into your “next.” It’s not in our DNA to stay put, to live inside. You’re a Killian… at the heart of it all, you’re a Killian. And Killians know that the best part of life is found in people. Go to them, son, and you’ll find your focus.

I’m pleased to report that my son has taken some new risks this year. He’s growing and maturing, moving into his own as his junior year unfolds. I see more confidence in his gait, more wisdom in his words, and I can’t help but think that just a few simple steps outside of his familiar are partly responsible for this ever-emerging transformation. He’s moving forward, and so must I.

Time to try something new. Time to get out from behind this computer screen and re-connect with life… face-to-face. As I look at my future, there are a multitude of unknowns looming on my horizon. The unknown could easily keep me shackled to my familiar. And while I cannot see much beyond today (and I’ve come to firmly believe this is a very good thing), I can take a few steps forward that will alter the course of my tomorrow. Just one or two baby steps to grow my confidence, to extend my faith. And then just one or two more beyond those initial ones. Before long… a lengthy accumulation of forward progression that will more fully transform me into the woman God intends.

A woman of adventurous faith and settled confidence. Oh to be her… even one little bit!

Movement wins, friends. With the cross before us, movement always wins. Keep to it. As always…

Peace for the journey,
PS: What steps are you taking to move yourself forward?

Jesus, her, and me…

“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” –Matthew 18:20


Together we worshiped the Lord this morning. Just the three of us. Jesus, her, and me. I’d hoped that others would be there, planned on others being there, but when the big hand was on the ten and the little hand on the twelve, my hope merged with reality. Today, we kept it small. Today, it boiled down to just Jesus, her, and me. Jesus, my daughter, and me. And we didn’t let it dampen our enthusiasm. Instead, we kept doing what we’ve been doing for nearly two years now…

having Sunday School on the second floor of our church.

Some might ask, “Why bother? Why plan and prepare for ten when only one or two show up on a regular basis? Why the investment of energy and prayers and late night runs for supplies to supplement a lesson plan already burgeoning with abundance? Why sow largely into such smallness?”

Reasonable questions. On occasions, questions I’ve asked myself. But each time I do, I cycle back around to the only reasonable answer.

The church belongs to me, and I belong to the church.

When I became a Christian, I signed on to God’s investment plan—sowing his kingdom seed into the lives of those within reach. I don’t get to choose the conditions for that reach. My only obligation is to make sure that I continue to stretch my arms and release God’s heart into the hearts of those who sit beneath my influence. It matters not the size of the audience; what matters is my faithfulness to God’s calling for my life—to know God and then, out of that knowing, to lead others to know the same.

It takes a while to arrive there… to get comfortable with the parameters of God’s choosing. Two years ago, I would have told you that there was little room in my agenda for small investments. Two years ago, I was focused on larger parcels of land. Two years ago, I wasn’t prepared for a Sunday morning of just Jesus, her, and me. But today, it is enough—just Jesus, her, and me.

Today, I see more clearly than I saw two years ago. Pain, suffering, and loss have a way of tempering large notions. Pain, suffering, and loss have a way of sharpening personal perspective, shedding personal ambitions, and shaping a heart for effective ministry. It doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes pain, suffering, and loss foster opposite understanding. But as for me, my pain, suffering, and loss have taught me the great lesson of reduction.

He must become more; I must become less.

For in that lesser estate, the greatness of God is revealed. And whenever the greatness of God is revealed, then heaven’s work goes on as planned. Even in a Sunday School classroom when it’s just Jesus, her, and me.

Especially then.

The church belongs to me, and I belong to the church. The church belongs to you, and you belong to the church. Whether you sow in largeness or in smallness this week, sow generously and sow always in the loving name of the Lord. God measures your kingdom influence not by numbers but rather by your faithfulness to minister to those numbers. Even when it’s just Jesus, her, and you.

Especially then.

Even so, keep to it. As always…

Peace for the journey,


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