Monthly Archives: November 2009



“This is a time of abundance in your life. Your cup runneth over with blessings. After plodding uphill for many weeks, you are now traipsing through lush meadows drenched in warm sunshine. I want you to enjoy to the full this time of ease and refreshment. I delight in providing it for you.” (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, entry for November 12th, pg. 331).



Surely she isn’t writing these words to me; she’s missed the mark on this one, Lord. Abundance? Lush meadows? Ease and refreshment? Are you talking to me, Lord, about the current season I’m in or regarding the one I knew a few seasons back? Sure, I’d like the romp of lush meadows and warm sunshine right about now, but currently it all feels more like a slow crawl through the dismal swamp. Maybe next season, but right now, I think I’ll save Sarah’s words … your words … for another day. Another time when abundance seems a better fit with my current living conditions.

This is the conversation I had with God a few days ago after reading my morning devotional. Ever felt this way? That somehow the words written don’t quite match up with the dailyness of your life? It kind of bothered me… this “imagining” by Sarah on my behalf regarding the current condition of my life. After all, we’ve never met. She isn’t wearing my shoes, and she certainly isn’t holding the pen for my book—my journey with Jesus. If she were holding the pen, her words would have read more like a tragedy rather than a triumph. Why?

Because these have been some hard weeks for me. Not devastating, just hard. Just more crawling than running. More questions than answers. More frustrations than smooth sailing. As I write this tonight, my heart is full of ponderings and wonderings and hopes that one day soon, all will make sense. But right now it doesn’t, and I realize that I don’t have a clue about how all of my “this” is going to work itself out in the days to come.

And mostly, I’m OK with the not knowing, but sometimes the not knowing fills my heart with heaviness, keeping the lush meadows of God’s goodness seemingly out of reach. But then, something like what happened around our dinner table tonight happens.

A reminder to me about the goodness of my life. About how for every “thing” contrary and difficult that wanders into my world, none of it is enough to diminish the worth of my day. That, in fact, there is lush and warm sunshine and abundance in my every day because I don’t live my days in isolation. I live them with Jesus. And wherever Jesus is, cups runneth over with blessings ten thousand beside. That for all of the ways I could call this day “less,” there is One who calls my day “more.”

Not because I live in temporal pleasure, but rather because I live with eternity in reach.

I don’t wake up each day because I did something to deserve another day’s privilege. I wake up each morning because my Father holds my life and breath in his hands and has decided that another day is worthy of my embrace. I get the bounty of this day because he’s given me this day to enjoy, to ponder his abundance in my life and to find my thanks despite the chaos going on around me.

Life rarely makes sense to me. I’ve long since given up trying to put tidy parameters around my day in-day out. I simply live my days. Sometimes in thanks; sometimes with complaints. But tonight as I sat around a makeshift candlelit dinner brought about through the imaginations of two young children, I quietly confessed my discontent with my day … my life … and asked God for more tea-light treasures to be my portion.

This is my life today, and it is enough … more than enough to warrant Sarah’s pen on my behalf. I feel God’s warm sunshine despite the coolness of my season. I taste God’s abundance despite the famine of my season. I walk the lush meadows despite the rocky soil of my season. And I drink the cup of overflow despite the thirst of my season.

Seasons come and go, friends, but our God? Well, he never leaves. He is the same in all our seasons. Never once has he diminished in his covenantal goodness to us. We may be blinded by the conditions of our seasons in seeing that goodness, but his presence predicates his overflow. His presence assures us of his participation in our dailyness.

And wherever God is, is a place of good living. In my heart. In yours. We are the carriers of an extraordinary “good.” Let us spend this week acknowledging our lives for what they are.


He has declared us accordingly because he is good eternally. And that is enough to warrant my heart’s thanks in all the seasons of my life. May it be the same for you. As always…

peace for the journey,

PS: The winner of the Gatlinburg give-away is #17 Saleslady 371. Congrats to you! Please send me your snail mail via my e-mail, and I’ll have this to you this week. Shalom.


“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” {Jude 3}

I ran across it this morning; rather, it ran across me. All over me. In me. Through me. Within and without of me.

A verse. A single Scripture that my desperation cried out for like a beggar plowing through a garbage bin for the scraps from yesterday’s fine dining. A yesterday’s fare that still tastes fresh and rich and full of all the nutrients a hungering soul needs.

God’s Word is like that. It feeds our wanton estate with the richest bounty of heaven. All that is required from us in the matter is our willingness to entreat the bounty with faith enough to believe that what we’re looking for will be found in ready supply. With God’s Word our souls never go hungry, never leave empty, never walk away with “less” than what we had prior to our arrival at the table.

God’s Word feeds fully.

Today, he fed me with this verse from Jude. He told me to contend for the faith that he has entrusted to me. To “strive and to fight” for the faith that has been “delivered, handed down” to me. Those words shot through me with a clarity I’d not seen before. The previous underlining of them was a good indicator that I’d read them before, but for whatever reason, today they packed a punch and forced my pondering.

Interesting that this “contending” in the Greek is the opposite of the word eireneuo which means “to keep the peace or to be at peace” (and you know how I feel about that particular topic…). I am not to be at peace with my faith… to be a casual attendee on the road of faith. Rather, I’m to be vigilant in my efforts at faith’s cultivation. At growing and further developing the initial belief that was first transferred to my heart from a loving God who entrusted me with faith’s safe-keeping.

It doesn’t make sense to me to have been entrusted with such a gift. God knows just exactly how many times I’ve failed him in this department. Times when I’ve chosen doubt over trust. Selfish control over selfless release. My shifting manipulations over his tried and true. My plans, my thoughts over his. Indeed, it seems another saint might be a better fit for God’s gift of faith.

Still and yet, he calls me his saint, his “set-apart and his consecrated.” He tells me that faith is mine for the keeping. Not to contend with it, but to contend for it. Why? Because faith isn’t a gift that warrants my rebellious fists. Faith is a gift that deserves my open hands. My willingness to receive, to hold, to absorb, and to clothe myself in the cause of Jesus Christ.

A gift so precious is a gift worthy of my best contending.

Day in. Day out, until all of my earthly days are done and I come open-handed to the throne of my Jesus where I return to him the package of faith I’ve been given. He will put the punctuation mark on this journey he’s authored in me. In that moment, there will be final perfection—an end that serves as a fitting conclusion to the story that he and I have been writing together for the past forty-three years.

How I contend for my faith now is directly linked to how I will be commended for my faith then.

They won’t measure out equally, for there is nothing I can do here in the present that will match what I’m going to receive from God in the future. His grace and blessing will always trump my efforts at the same. But I do believe there is something more to be gained from my contending for the faith on this side of the eternity that will matter for the other side of eternity. Something better … something further … something grander because I was willing to go to the mat for my faith and for my Jesus until my final breath.

I don’t want to peacefully find my way to heaven. I want to go there contending for the One who was willing to go to the mat for me on a hillside 2000 years ago. Who looked down through the ages and saw a young girl named Faith Elaine and decided that her life was worth his. That her heart could be trusted with faith’s impartation, with faith’s safe-keeping. A risky calculation in my estimation, but not enough to keep Jesus from making his altared surrender.

I want to honor that surrender with my honest contention. My best efforts at forging ahead with my faith. These are the days when we must move forward in our faith, friends. We are not to shrink back in our belief. We must not waver in our understanding regarding our finish … our end. God is that end. He who began a good work in us is faithful to complete it. He serves as the bookends to all faith journeys, but we must be vigilant in our walking the “in between.”

Faith steps ahead, not behind. For faith to grow there must be movement beneath our feet and progress within our hearts. Otherwise, we’re stuck.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to finish this race stuck. This is the tragedy of an infant-fed faith. Do you realize that we could spend the rest of our spiritual lives stuck right where we are, right now? When we close our eyes on our earthly days, if all we have is an initial belief in Jesus, then we’re going to make it home to him. But I don’t want to just make it home. I want to make it home with something more to give him—a package of faith that was well-contented for and well-lived. Not some half-hearted attempt at the process.

Thus, I choose striving over peace-keeping. Moving on rather than staying stuck. Keeping the faith rather than casting it to the curb. Pressing in, pressing further, pressing through until my faith becomes my eyes, and I hear the commendation that my heart is contending for even today.

A good fight for a good faith all the way through to a very good finish. Keep contending for the King, friend. He still contends for thee. As always…

peace for the journey,

Me and Beth E., her Bill and my Billy

Me and Beth E., her Bill and my Billy

I don’t why certain events in my life move me so profoundly, but this past weekend has been one of those occasions, and today my heart is hurting. Thankfully hurting. Seems an odd contradiction, but the “hurting” signifies that my past weekend meant more to me than simply an enjoyable weekend between friends. A thankful hurt signifies something far deeper. It means that there is love attached to my heart, and, right now, I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I’ve been trying all day to get my thoughts down on paper, but the words are mostly vacant. Not because they’re not there, but rather because I can’t seem to pen them with the justice they deserve. Some memories just write me rather than me writing them.

This past weekend deserves more than a few words. It deserves a chapter all its own. And while this chapter in my life known as “Elaine and Beth E., her Bill and my Billy” may never make it to print, it certainly has scripted its remembrance into my heart for always.

I like knowing that my “life book” now includes a chapter specifically designated to the companionship I shared with my husband and a Virginia couple on a beautiful November weekend in 2009. It cannot be changed, altered or tweaked to read any differently than it lived. It simply was and, therefore, continues to be because it is now a part of my history. A history that I am better for living through because of the beautiful friendship that was birthed in the end.

Beth and Bill are the real deal. I already loved Beth for so many reasons (even though we’d never met face-to-face), and Bill quickly warranted my genuine favor as well. He’s funny, laid back, talkative, and very kind to his wife. Very kind. It’s obvious to me why they’ve made it to almost thirty-one years of marriage. Kindness in a marriage does that. It births longevity, and as I watched them interact with one another, I couldn’t help but hope for the same in my marriage with my own Billy.

And for more weekends with them. Lots of them. In fact, if we lived closer to one another, I’m confident we’d spend lots of nights eating Hillbilly Salsa together and allowing our “Bill’s” plenty of time in the man-cave to do, well, whatever Bill’s do in a man-cave. Some friendships just seem to arrive automatically, genuinely and without a lot of effort on the front end.

That’s the friendship me and my Billy now share with Beth and hers. Our lives are similar in too many ways to chronicle here, and our hearts deeply connected because of the love we share for our Lord. I’m not sure what that means for the four of us down the road, but my heart tells me that another trip to the mountains or to Montana or to the movies would be just fine with me. I know that heaven will be filled with fellowship akin to this past weekend, but until I get there, I wouldn’t mind a few reminders like this past weekend to “hold me” until then.

Only God could dream this up, friends—these cyber connections culminating into weekends and retreats and all manner of gatherings that he intends to endure for all eternity. I imagine he’s dreaming now and that, before long, those sacred dreams will birth deeper friendships in many of us. Until then, let’s keep connecting, keep opening up our hearts to one another, keep praying for one another, and keep writing the truth of the One who threads all of our hearts together with the single chord of Calvary’s love.

It’s my privilege to be in community with you all here. And while it sometimes hurts to love so much, I wouldn’t miss a good hurt for anything. A good hurt is the foundation for a good growing, and this past weekend, I grew at least an inch. Thank you, Beth and Bill, for fueling my heart’s development. Until next time…

peace for the journey,


PS: Leave a comment for a true mountain give-away… a Christmas dove ornament, hand-crafted by Liza Bach and showcased at the Highland Craft Gallery and a pair of earrings, hand-crafted by me at the Smoky Mountain Bead Bar and Gallery. I’ll draw a winner later in the week.

And now, meet two blogging friends who had an idea not long ago… (I apologize in advance for the quality of this video/slide show. I don’t know what I’m doing, so if anyone knows how to make a slide show using a specific song as background… would love some tips!).

vacation anticipation

Me and Beth E.,
along with her Bill and my Billy,
are headed for a rendezvous in Tennessee,

for some food, fellowship, and long-overdue revelry.

Not sure what we’ll find,
although God’s mountains come to mind,
and as long as He’s there,
a deep communion we’re guaranteed to share.

OK, Laura, so I’m not a poet, but I felt the upcoming weekend deserved a little tribute. Beth, I’ll meet you in the mountains, and Lord willing, I’ll “see” the rest of you next week. I might even pick up something crafty for a give-away! Until then,

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word of deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15-17)

As always, friends, God’s peace for the journey,

there will come a day…

~Alex Christopher Mercado~
Your day has come… rest in the sweet arms of Jesus, precious boy! I’ll meet you there soon.

PS: For those of you who haven’t read the previous post, this is the young child who inspired my heart-felt response. Apparently, yours as well. Thanks for weighing in with your thoughts and support.

Hold onto your faith, friends … there is coming a day.

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