Monthly Archives: August 2009

A Sacred Exchange

“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:15).

Where is your “here”? The well you return to, time and again, in order to quench your insatiable thirst? What “deep and dark” cavernous hole beckons your ladle and, therefore, your strength with empty promises of lasting fulfillment?

These are the questions that linger in my heart this day. My friend, Lisa, has challenged me to visit them … to be a “lady on a mission from the inside-out: lay it down seven day challenge” (LOAM). Several of us have answered the call for intentional discipleship with the Lord; not with man, or in this case, with several women, but rather with him. On our faces, before his face, with his Word and the prayers of our heart as our guide.

Lisa is prompting the daily retreat by an offering of prayer and Scripture readings for reflection. This morning’s reading led me to few verses from John 4. I was compelled to read more. A familiar story about a Savior whose thirst led him to a well in Samaria and a woman whose thirst kept her there until understanding arrived and she presented, what I believe to be, one of the purest offerings we can make to our Lord.

An exchange.

Her ladle for God’s water. Her strength and daily “labor” for God’s strength and abundant overflow. Her sin for God’s grace. Her temporal for God’s eternal.

“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

And with that offering, Father God reaches down, deep down into his personal storehouse of eternal love and lavishly pours his own offering of excess into her empty cup.

Living water. A wellspring of holy consecration flowing in and out of her with headwaters issuing forth from the Spirit of the Living God who decided that she was an appropriate dwelling for his holy presence. He’s made the same offer to each one of us.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John4:13).

So again, I ask you the same question I’m asking of myself this day. Where is your “here”? Where does your thirst lead you? To a man-made well that is deep and dark, sapping your strength every time you notice your thirst? Or, to a God-made well that is amply filled to overflow so that strength can be given to you rather than taken in equal measure from you?

The journey to God’s well is a simple walk; it doesn’t require the heat of the day so as to hide you from the shame of your sin. You can make that pilgrimage in the quiet of your own room, in your own way where the only “eyes” on you are the ones belonging to your Savior. He’s been waiting for you and the refreshment you will bring him because of your obedience to come and sit with him.

Yes, our Father is refreshed by our presence. It’s part of the exchange.

Living water from the living Word … loving worship of the living God.

Sacred intimacy at the deepest level. May your heart know the value and the beauty of such a sacred exchange this day. As always…

post signature

a wave of empty

“So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” (Acts 27:25-26).

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received came from a counselor during a time of great personal crisis nearly fourteen years ago. It went something like this…

Elaine, you spend a great deal of your time trying to “out swim” the waves that are chasing you. You expend your valuable energy in trying to reach the shore before they have the opportunity to consume you. Sometimes you make it; sometimes you don’t. How much better would it be if you stopped swimming, anchored your feet into the sand, and turned to face the wave … head on and with the full confidence that your survival has already been written in the history books?

Facing the wave. That’s where I am today. Actually, where I am is in an upstairs bedroom where two beds are stripped of their linens and where closets are mostly bare. The trophies remain … the bookshelf filled with yesteryear’s reads, and the dust all the more; but what I notice most about this room this morning is not the remnants left behind. What I’m most keenly aware of is its emptiness. The silence. The incredible void that fills this place because two young men are no longer making this room the place where they lay their heads at night.

My tears have mostly dried, and the exhaustion has nearly subsided; for the most part, I’m ready to “get on with the gettin’ on.” But before I do, before I have clarity about “what’s next” for me and for those of us left behind, I want to spend some time this week “facing the wave” and allowing the full force of change to hit me squarely in the heart, therefore requiring me to grapple with some questions that are worthy of more than my casual acknowledgment.

Questions that arrive because routine has been stripped away and because there is now ample time and space to formulate some answers, out loud and before God in a way that wouldn’t have been possible a week ago. A week ago, I was still walking through this parental obedience of “letting go” with the objects of that “letting go” still shadowing my every move. Today, the shadows are removed. They are gone, casting their depth on the campuses of two universities that are just out of my reach.

Truly, I’m fine with the distance between us. It is part of their “becoming”; it’s part of mine. All of us are searching for the “next thing”—the next step in this journey called faith. And while their search leads them along different paths than mine, one thread remains constant for us all. Change has arrived, and when change comes, we can do one of two things with it. We can fight it, or we can bend to it … bow to it, turn to it and allow the full force behind its pulse to hit us where we stand and to shape us accordingly.

I choose to turn and face the wave this day, knowing that regardless of the “hit” my survival has already been written in the history books.

Some days … some seasons … our ships, like the Apostle Paul’s, get the “go ahead” from God to run aground. Our safety isn’t in question. We may feel as if it is; after all, the waves are high and the surge is certain. We may have lost all hope of being saved from the storm; but even there, our God comes to us in the dark of the night and reminds us that not one of us will be lost. We live with the assurance that our lives will be spared. But our ships? Our comfortable and our familiar?

Well, sometimes they know the splintering and breakage of an intentional island, placed in our paths on purpose and with the sole intention of stripping us down to the basics. The island is never intended to destroy us but, rather, to save us. Without it, we are at risk of succumbing to the treacherous battering from a sea’s fury whose relentless passion has sent more than a few ships to a watery and forgotten grave.

With the island, we get reprieve. A fresh start. A place of beginning again; of rebuilding and renewal and re-examination of a life that will continue down a new path, yet one with the same destination in mind.

Home to God.

He will use many routes to get us there, all manner of detours and obstacles to accomplish our arrival. We may not always welcome the change … the “stripping down” and painful emptiness that calls for our contemplation and our maturation. But to deny its reality is to delay its intentional good. And God is after our good; not for goodness’ sake, but for his sake. For his plan. For his perfected end that gloriously welcomes and includes our “becoming” as part of the determined process.

Perhaps this day the waves are fiercely and desperately chasing you from behind. Your ship is hanging by a thread and your efforts at “lightening the load” are doing little to quell the fury. Your “frantic and frenzy” at trying to “out swim” the inevitable embrace of the waves in order to reach the safety of the shore has worn you out and your exhaustion is complete.

Would you be willing to pause, to stop where you are, to dig your heels deeply into the soil beneath your weary feet and then to courageously, turn and face the wave? Sometimes a ship has to be willing to be broken in order for a life to be saved. It maybe your ship … your life. It maybe the life of someone you dearly love. Either way, the willingness to invite the “stripping down” of the waves is the beginning of the “building up” of a new way of doing life with Jesus.

Thus, keep up your courage, friends, and I will keep up mine. I have all the confidence in my God to lead us as we go and to bring us safely home, just as he has said. Our God is ever faithful. He will do it.

Even so, do it today, Lord Jesus. As always…

post signature


Today, we packed our second-born son for his freshman year at college.

Tomorrow, we’ll move him in.
On Saturday, we’ll pack our first-born son for his junior year at college.
On Sunday, we’ll move him in.
And somewhere between now and then, my heart will hurt and grieve the passage of time, all the while being incredibly grateful for the years we’ve been given together beneath the same roof.
A family. One I would have never predicted, yet one that is so beautifully woven with the golden threads of heaven and a Father’s sacred and unifying love.
I love my boys. Seems like yesterday we were packing bookbags.

Now, we’re packing our good-byes. Ones that cut more profoundly and with more clarity. Ones that leave me hoping that our years together have been enough to launch them in the right direction.

Pray for me friends. I’ll see you on the other side of some miles and some hugs and some tears that are sure to wet my heart. As always…

post signature

Walking My Way to Worship

“Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned o the Father.’” (John 20:15-17).

Tonight I walked my way to worship.

I could have run there, but if you lived where I live you’d understand the reasons behind my walking. It’s hot here. Finding an ounce of desire for the pavement beneath my feet in this type of inclement weather is a difficult obedience. But does that mean I shouldn’t try … shouldn’t step out into the day’s sweltering confinement in hopes of finding a few minutes of solitude with my King?

Not at all. If “heat” was an ample excuse for my not moving outside the comforts of my air-conditioned life, my flesh and my faith would have long since grown stale with neglect. Heat doesn’t warrant my complacency. Heat simply requires I step up my will in the matter. It means I choose to walk it through on days when I’d rather stay inside. Staying inside keeps me as I am. Moving beyond the parameters of my comfort forces the issue of my growth.

Thus, I laced up my shoes and headed outdoors this evening to walk with Jesus. He met me there. He always does. I don’t know why it’s easier for me to find him on the road rather than other places in my life. Perhaps because I’ve grown to expect him there. Perhaps because he’s grown to expect me. Either way, when my obedience melds with his presence, sacred ground is walked. It is the purest form of worship I know.

Worship. A big word; an even bigger endeavor. We make it so hard by turning it into a prescribed set of steps to get there when all we really need to make it happen is us and our Creator.

Worship is a mutual endeavor between two hearts—ours and God’s. It happens when he recognizes us by name, and we recognize him by his. When we stand face to face without the obstruction of the world’s distractions and connect with him as one. When we’re stripped naked of all pretense and aren’t ashamed of the glances he cast in our direction. When we look into his eyes and see the reflection of ourselves staring back. When understanding is clear and right and good, therefore casting all of our questions into the shadows of his illuminating truth.

That’s worship for me, and when it happens, I, like Mary, want to grab hold of my Savior and not let go. The hem of his garment is a sweet embrace and a good place to linger … especially in the heat.

If anyone understood the pressures of “heated obedience”, it was Mary–a woman in search of Jesus following his death on the cross. The last few days of her life offered her ample reason to stay inside. Three days earlier, the temperature in Jerusalem was exponentially elevated because of the crucifixion of her Lord. Her Teacher. Her Rabonni. She could have mourned him privately … could have stayed inside, salving her wounded heart with tears that rained diligently and painfully upon her grief. Instead, she chose the road to the tomb. To the one place she’d last seen him, and in doing so, received the revelation that would alter her forever.

“Mary.” …


Mutual recognition between two hearts.

Pure, untainted worship between a sinner and her Savior.

For that kind of moment, friends, I’ll walk some “heat” … again and again and again because I know he’s waiting for me on the road as I am faithful to come. He’s waiting for you too. In fact, he’s summoned you by name. Are you willing, this day, to summon him by his?

Worship with him fearlessly. Worship with him passionately. Worship with him tenderly, knowing that your name is on his lips and that your life is engraved in the very palm of his hands.

As always,

post signature




I laughed this morning, loudly to myself and with little regard to my surroundings. I suppose I needed it; the pressure and chaos in my life have been immense over the past several weeks. In the midst of the busiest season I have ever known, there have been few occasions that have afforded me the release that I experienced today through my uninhibited and unrestrained laughter. The culprit behind amusement?

Hot Stuff. The smash hit made popular by Donna Summer in 1979 when I was but a young thirteen. Thirty years down the road, I’m less young, but somehow the song still manages to find its way into radio play. It did so this morning in the dentist office while I was awaiting my semi-annual clean. At age thirteen, I knew little about looking for some hot stuff. At forty-three, I’m content to drop the hot and simply stick with stuff … less of it!


My life’s been filled to the brim and then some with its consumption. I imagine you could voice the same. I’ll spare you most of the details. After all, stuff is stuff. It packs heavy in every household. Yours probably doesn’t look like mine, but I bet it sometimes feels like mine.

Too much;
Too detailed;

Stuff does that. It weighs us down and keeps us from a single-minded focus, at least it does for me. I like the neatly defined parameters I’ve created for my life. When an abundance of stuff threatens to overflow those self-imposed boundaries, my inclination is to shut down. I don’t always manage the “excess” of stuff very well. It effects every area of my life (physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually … have I covered all the “ally’s”?).

I don’t eat right, think right, feel right, act right, pray right. Instead, I default to mediocrity—to just barely getting by with the hope that tomorrow will birth less stuff and more peace. And while the current stuff in my life will lessen with the passage of time, I imagine future stuff will soon arrive to fill any void.

We can’t help but live with our stuff. It finds us regardless of our striving toward keeping it at bay. Stuff barks loudly, refusing hiddenness. We can ignore it for a season, but eventually it catches up with us until we can no longer refuse its insistence. We simply must collect the strength and grace to deal with it.

God is the true source behind that strength. Regardless of my desire to shut down, God’s desire is to see me through my times of stress-filled stuff. He understands a crowded agenda. I can’t begin to understand the “stuff” he’s dealing with on an everlasting basis. Can you?

I know what you’re thinking. He’s God. He can handle it. But friends, God intends for us to handle our stuff in accordance with his will. His Word tells us that we’ve been given everything we need to lead a godly and holy life. That we have been endowed with the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), the Spirit of Christ (John 14:16-17), the power of Christ (Eph. 1:18-20). God means for us to manage our stuff with his management staff in tow. Then and only then, will any of it be done with a measure of success and, ultimately, to the glory of his kingdom.

This morning, I packed the book bags of my two young kids and sent them off to their first day of school. This weekend, I’ll help two more with their packing. Not book bags, but rather with the packing of their cars as they make preparations to return to college, one a junior and the other a freshman. The amount of stuff we’ve got to do between now and then is large and overwhelming. I’m not sure I’m up for the task.

Still and yet, it’s my stuff to carry. I want to do it well, with efficiency, with patience, and with a heart that is willing to bend to imperfection even though the perfectionist in me is desperately trying to state her case. I want to get to the end of my current stuff with my sanity in tact and with my faith all the more. I’m not sure how God is going to work it all out in me and, therefore, through me, but I am willing to offer up all of me for the process.

It’s a hard surrender, but one of the benefits that comes because of my exhaustion is that I’m finally willing to concede my flesh and inabilities into the hands of God’s capability. He, alone, can turn my stuff into something.

I don’t know what stuff you’re carrying this day. If your plate, like mine, is full and overflowing with deadlines, my heart is with you. You are not alone in your struggle. We journey this road together with God, and if my confession about my “stuff” can buoy your spirit along these same lines, then these few moments before the screen have been a worthy pause in my life this day.

May God’s good favor, heavenly understanding, abundant patience, calm assurance, and grace-filled reminders be your portion at every turn as you walk your week. Stay close to Jesus no matter the stuff that’s warring its insistence into your life. Whatever you have to do to get to Jesus … do it. Don’t wait until your inclinations carry you to a place of despair. Instead, bolster your busyness with the truth and power of God’s help.

It’s ours for the asking. Ask boldly. Ask with confidence. Ask a lot. Ask today. As always,

post signature

PS: If you have a specific prayer concern you’d like for me to pray over, please indicate in the comment section or feel free to e-mail me. Adding your “stuff” to mine is a privilege, not a problem. Shalom.

error: Content is protected !!