Monthly Archives: October 2010

a moment with the Gardener…

“Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden;” {Genesis 2:8}

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” {John 15:8}

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law…. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” {Galatians 5:22-23, 25}
Enjoy some time with the Gardener today; may his good seed find a generous and willing soil within your heart. Shalom!

a tuesday table…

a tuesday table…

I miss them this morning; thought about them throughout the morning… those “ancients” who will gather in a short while to do lunch without me. For six years we gathered as friends around a Tuesday table, usually at the local pizza place. It wasn’t so much about the food; instead, it was about the fellowship.
The gathering.
The coming together to hold hands, break bread, share laughter, and speak hope. It was about understanding, about setting aside personal preference in order to entertain the preferences of others. About loving beyond limits and allowing friendship to birth over salads and drinks and believing that, just perhaps, a table was meant for more than physical sustenance. That a table was meant for grace. God’s grace—another yet undeserved kindness from his heart because he better understands what happens when hearts connect across the table for kingdom consequence.
They served my heart well, those precious “ancients” (affectionately titled in the spirit of Hebrews 11). They didn’t know at the time all of the ways that their lives would impact mine; they simply did what they’d been doing most of their lives—
Living life as it comes; not being afraid to embrace new experiences, new people, new ideas, new routines. No, six years ago, I was their new. And they loved me; they love me still, and today as they gather around that table, I wonder if they notice my absence. I certainly notice theirs, and a tear or two falls in remembrance for the lavish gift of memory I now hold as my own.
Tuesday tables. The gathering of the saints. I don’t know where you’ll be spending yours today, but I’d certainly like for you to be a part of mine. And while we won’t sit in close proximity to one another, our hearts simmer together in this moment. And just for fun—just to feel less disconnected to my Tuesdays, I’d like a little conversation. I’d like to know what’s on your mind.
What you’re having for lunch.
What costumes your kids have chosen this year.
What Bible study you’re working on.
Where the good deals are hiding.
What books you’re reading.
What ailments riddle your heart and flesh.
Whose coming for dinner.
What’s on the menu for dinner.
What you’ll be watching on TV tonight.
When you’ve known grace in the last 24 hours.
What you’re praying about.
Generally speaking, any what, where, or when about your life.
Stuff like that. Whatever you’d like to tell me as we have lunch together this Tuesday… all day. It doesn’t matter if you miss the eleven o’clock hour. Tuesday lunches have no time constraints. They pour forth goodness all day long, seven days a week, sowing God’s grace along the way and as it arrives.
So join me. Tell me. Lavish me with nothing and with everything and make my table full. I know that at over at Lisa’s place, she’s serving up JiffyPop. And at Beth’s? Starbucks. Make sure you stop by there as well and pull up a chair for a moment.
Today, you’re in charge of the menu. My plate is empty; come and fill my hunger with your fellowship. I’ll eat most anything you’re serving (minus collard greens and chicken & pastry). As always…
Peace for the journey,
PS: Christmas special on peace for the journey books. Click here!

a greater thing…

I’ve been stuck recently. Hung up on and hunkered down in a thought or two regarding a particular spoken word from Jesus. A promise. One that doesn’t compute with my internal, spiritual compass. One that has always confused me, challenged me, asked me to consider just exactly what he meant by his saying it. Perhaps it’s brought you reason for pause in your personal, exploration with God.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” 
{John 14:12-13}
Doing what Jesus did. Even greater things. Almost seems treacherous typing it, much less laying claim to it as part of my personal identity. Surely he didn’t mean it as it sounds. Surely he isn’t saying what it seems as if he is saying. That I, that you, sinners saved solely by the grace of the cross, could walk in his similar shoes, dispensing a similar grace on similar occasions with similar results.
Surely not. Such a gift feels too weighty. Too much sacred privilege given to human flesh. Too much trust. Too much kindness. Too much royalty. Too much inheritance.  Too much glory for any one person to handle with any measure of Godly humility. Too big of a theology for a pint-sized brain like mine and an even weaker flesh to absorb in this moment.
I am in a diminished state. My thoughts aren’t always what I want them to be. Medications and course of treatment force my limits. My thinking is sometimes scattered, and I labor to have it make sense. Accordingly, when it comes to the weightiness of the Word of God and all its intricacies—the mystery and marvel of words that breathe as fresh breath from his lips today even as they were spoken in yesterday—I don’t always get it right. I’m no scholar; no theologian deeply steeped in study and adorned with degrees from the most prestigious religious institutions.
  Yes, my daddy is a preacher and served as a professor of preaching at one of the finest seminaries in the country. I spent years running its hallways and sitting under some of the richest preaching and teaching offered to formative young minds. As a youth, I was mentored by one of the most deeply committed, well-known youth leaders in the country who made it his solid commitment to make sure that the pulse of my heart would eventually catch up with my over-grown head. Indeed, I was offered the best when it came to my spiritual shaping. But even with all of that tutelage back then and with all of what I’ve come to know since that season…
I still get stuck sometimes. And I wonder about God and his promises to me and what he means for me to do with such knowledge. How do I take what he says, apply it to my heart, and then live it out most courageously before his watchful gaze in hopes that I do him some justice… bring him some glory? What could I do in this season of my life that would even come close to matching the sentiment of his heart as spoken in John 14? How can I, sick as I am, stand where I am, as a representative of the I AM and do even greater things?
It doesn’t compute, but then again, neither does grace. And just the other morning while others (perhaps even you) were catching sleep granted humans via the natural cycle of life, I was clutching my cross, and I had a thought regarding my “greater thing.” It arrived in the form of few words from God’s Word. Silently, they crept in without notice, transferring me from the dark of my bedroom to the dark of a sea. A night some 2000 years ago, steeped in chaos, waves, and despair. A fourth watch where disciples, not unlike me, took to the waters in hopes of reaching the other side without incident. A night when fear roared its opposition in the face of truth and when faith was shaken to its core. A night when those who were closest to the Master needed the witness of his eternal hold.
A night scare that required a night God and the witness of a night Word that would carry them through to the morning’s light:
“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” {Matthew 14:27}    
And with those eight words, I become less stuck in my previous ruminations. For with Christ’s mandate in that moment—an event in history separated from his promise in John 14—I begin in my understanding of what Christ might mean by my “greater thing.” That I, feeble in flesh yet strong in Spirit, might be a someone who could make that night walk on behalf of the fearful. That God in his infinite mercy and willing cooperation might so endow me with the gift of his Spirit so that I could cross waves and cut through currents to become a hand’s extension. Heaven’s extension. A sacred bridge linking the dying, fear-filled soul to the living, faithful God.
That I, a single pilgrim on this journey of faith, might know the power of an interceding Jesus. And that because of his Holy Spirit, I might be filled to overflow with Him so that I would be able to withstand the fear of the night’s storm in order to walk in peaceful pause to extend the courage of Christ to others.  
That, my friends, is a greater thing… a greater work. To be one extension amidst millions of other faith-filled extensions who are well-supplied and well-equipped to dispense the King’s courage. Not because of anything we have done, but rather because of everything he chose to do. He chose to make me and you a part of his rich inheritance. We stand alongside him as co-heirs to an undeserved kingdom. On paper and in our minds, such grace will never compute. We’ll never be able to make sense of the “greater things” he has in mind for us to do. But every now and again, when we really take hold of all of what that might mean for us, we catch a glimpse of perfect understanding.
And we find our place… our sacred responsibility and our reason for moving forward with our faith in this world.
We are here for God’s greater thing. I don’t know what that will look like for you in the week ahead, but I do know where the fearful live in my little corner of the world. They cloister together less than a mile from my front door, in chairs hooked up to the deathblows and life-giving vein named chemotherapy. Many are stuck in the fourth watch. Many have yet to know that God is the Master of their fourth watch. That his courage and his hands are available to them, and that just maybe, those hands might come to them through a weakened vessel named Faith Elaine. Hands wrinkled by years. Hands drying by drugs. Hands weathered by understanding.
Hands extended in love. Hands speaking the truth in love…
“Take courage; It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Words rightly and humbly spoken by a daughter of the King. A greater thing, indeed. What a marvelous, treasured gift with which to be entrusted. Live your greater thing like you mean it, friends, and never underestimate your worthiness in the kingdom of God. He has called us, each one, to a greater understanding of the greater gift we’ve been allowed. Use it all, do it all, love them all with his greater end in mind. As always…
Peace for the journey,
post signature

Ascending to my "overlook"…

“When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.” (2 Chronicles 20:24).
My spirit is moved today in a strong direction—a navigational pull that leads me into the midst of a story belonging to my spiritual ancestors. They are your ancestors as well, for (as believers in Jesus Christ) we are the spiritual seed of Abraham. Those long ago and faraway events tucked into ancient history and laid out for us on the pages of Scripture belong to us. They are commended to us for our good care and careful consideration. Theirs are the ancient paths (Jer. 6:16) given to us as a road map for our current walkabouts in faith.
I find strength in their witness, and today my thoughts are anchored within a Judean soil, alongside a king named Jehoshaphat, and in the midst of a people named Israel. Collectively, they faced a real threat by a real enemy in a real place during a real point and time in history. Their response to that threat has me thinking… even more so, has me doing.
1. When the enemy came knocking, they immediately took their concern to the one place, the One God who had promised them consideration along these lines:
Spoken by the king… “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple, that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.” (2 Chronicles 20: 9)
2. The corporate gathering of Israelites waited in anticipation of God’s Spirit to move; when He did, He lighted upon one of them and spoke this message over them:
“Listen King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them…. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’” (2 Chronicles 20:15, 17).
3. The Israelites received the message as their own, and when tomorrow came, they obeyed God’s directives, worshipping as they went:
“Early in the morning they left for the Desert. … As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. (2 Chronicles 20:20,22) 
Note that in the midst of their praise and worship and unbeknownst to them, God moved on their behalf.
4. God’s people took their position at the overlook and witnessed his faithfulness in manifold measure:
“When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.” (2 Chronicles 20:24).
These are the makings of a good walkabout in faith, don’t you think? When the threat came…
They prayed;
They listened;
They worshipped;
They obeyed;
They took up their positions;
They witnessed the deliverance of their God.
And in the midst of all their “theys”, God was working to procure an ending in keeping with his God-ness. This is corporate, spiritual victory at its best; responses from both ends of the equation—ours’ and God’s—working together to solidify and set in concrete a heart truth. Not merely a head truth, but a truth that exponentially increases as we courageously allow it some feet and a voice so that it can make its way from the pages of a book onto the pavement of real understanding.
Theirs is a faith I want to live.


Accordingly, I have stood before the Lord in his temple (1 Cor. 6:16). I have listened to his directives, and I have worshipped. I am taking him at his word, and now begins my ascent to the overlook. I don’t imagine the climb will be easy. Mountain terrain always hosts its fair share of rocks, edges, misshapen branches, and pebbles that like to get wedged into the soles of our feet. Sometimes the air around us betrays us as we make that ascent, forcing the issue of our every breath. Sometimes our companions as well; not every mountain ascent is created for every mountain climber. Sometimes our journeys are meant to walk in isolation.
But of this one thing I am certain of today, for I have known it to be true in my yesterday…
When we arrive at the overlook of God’s intention, the view will be breathtaking. Why? Because our good and gracious Father has gone ahead of us to secure for us a victory that will far outweigh any difficulty required of us while making personal pilgrimage toward eternal Promise.
I am counting on the upcoming view from my overlook; in many ways, I’ve had an advance glance at it today. What a joy to know Jesus and to know that he can be trusted with my all! He just keeps multiplying his goodness and grace into my world. May you know and hold a similar understanding in your hearts this day. You are good pilgrims with which to share my journey. Thank you for spending some of your time with me. I count it a privilege. I love you each one. As always…
Peace for the journey,
post signature


 PS: I will be MIA most of the week, but will try and check in with you as I can. Shalom.
another side of me…

another side of me…

I noticed some sparse, brittle sprigs of hair in the tub after my bath yesterday morning. 
Accordingly, a decision was made.
My husband tells me that I am brave.

I tell him that I am free.

And that I am grateful for my numbered hairs and for my Father who watches their surrender to the grave.

Quiet Peace for my journey… settled rest for my soul.

post signature

error: Content is protected !!