Monthly Archives: December 2011

the quiet pause of Christmas…

My voice has been silenced in the last twenty-four hours. Literally. Sickness has claimed my vocal cords. This has never happened to me before, not completely in the way it has happened for me this time around.

My whispered shouts for the attention of others are met only by their silence. Not because they don’t care about me, but rather because they can’t hear me. Their listening isn’t prone to my whispering, so mostly… I’m ignored. Probably a relief to most of those in my household, but to a woman who’s used to being heard… a great frustration indeed.

And I’m thinking…

About my voice. About my words. About needing to be heard. About what I will say when I am, again, able to say.

And I’m thinking…

About quietness. About the value of forced silence. About going inward with my thoughts instead of outwardly displaying every single one of them.

And I’m thinking…

About God. About his voice. About his needing to be heard. About his willingness to keep company with silence… with his thoughts, instead of outwardly displaying every single one of them.

And I’m thinking…

About how very connected I feel to Him in all of this. About how my inability to speak amplifies the volume of God’s witness.

How many times has the Father whispered my name in the midst of my chaos, only to be ignored because of the noise surrounding my life? My hearing isn’t prone to his whispering. But in silence—in this period of fewer, personal words—I more clearly hear the phrases from heaven.

Beautiful, peace-filled, stilled expressions of understanding from God’s heart.

My ninth grade English teacher once wrote in my yearbook, “Elaine, if silence is golden you can forget it.” Apparently, I was destined for poverty. Thirty years ago, I hadn’t a clue what she’d meant, and I couldn’t have cared less.

Today, I have a clue. Today I care more, exceedingly more. Today, silence really is golden, because silence has given me access to the whispers of home. And whenever that happens, friends, I’m the richest person alive.

I’m so glad I know Jesus. I’m so glad he knows me. And I’m exceedingly glad for those moments when I am able to clearly hear his voice. What tender grace is mine as a daughter of the King! I pray that you know him, hear him, worship and celebrate him in the quiet, closing moments of 2011. I believe that God has something vital and important to whisper to each one of us. I’ll be anxious to hear from you in coming days. As always…

Peace for the journey,

walking to Bethlehem with Jesus…

I’m relieved that I don’t have to make something out of Christmas.

Christmas already is something … all on its own … completely and wonderfully set apart from me. There’s nothing I can do or not do that will a


lter the truth of its glorious revelation. Bethlehem was and is and will always be God’s moment birthed God’s way.

The best I can do, the best we can do, is to do our level best at reflecting upon God’s moment in a way that honors the birthday of the King. All of us approach the manger with personal perspective. The baggage you carry with you is uniquely yours. The memories, the life experiences, the traditions, the sacred shaping of your yesterdays, all collectively gather together as luggage within your mind and heart as you make pilgrimage to Bethlehem this year.

Not all of us will celebrate in the same way, but all of us will have the opportunity to do so. To come to the manger and to rejoice, again, over the arrival of Jesus Christ in our lives. Bethlehem belongs to us every bit as much as it belonged to the original participants some 2000 years ago. Are we really so unlike Mother Mary? Haven’t I, haven’t you been given the same news and responsibility that she was given?

“‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:35)
“‘ … what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” (Matthew 1:20-21)

That which is conceived in us, birthed in us, is from the Holy Spirit. Like Mary, we have been given the gift of the Christ Child to carry within us. Bethlehem becomes deeply personal for each one of us in that moment when God’s truth is revealed in our hearts and we accept his invitation to behold and to take hold of the baby in the manger. He is the something of Christmas—the One thing that will remain as truth, certainty, and surety in the midst of all the other unwrappings thrust upon us in this season. So…

No matter the week in front of you, no matter the checklists that are burdening you, fear not! He who is conceived in you… remains. He travels these days with you and only asks that, every now and again, you take a few minutes to pause, to pray, and to ponder the glorious truth of his companionship. God is not threatened by your need for celebration—by your tree, your gift-giving, your programs, and your parties. God is with you. God is with me. This is the joy of Bethlehem.

Emmanuel … God with us.

Light a candle or two in Christ’s honor this week and move forward with peace… Peace. It’s all good, friends. With Jesus, it’s all good. He is well-pleased to make pilgrimage with us. I’ll meet you at the manger. As always…

Peace for the journey,

living with a 92%…

My son came home sobbing yesterday.

“I can’t do it again, mom. It’s not fair. I missed one problem on my Math test… one problem, and she’s making me take it all over again. And she said it would be harder … 28 problems instead of 12. I made a 92%, and it wasn’t enough, mom. I can’t do this.”

He kept repeating the phrase as he collapsed onto his bed in a heap of tears.

“One problem… one stupid problem.”

It was then that I had a problem… an angry kind of problem. A problem that wasn’t going to work itself through quietly. This time, I would not ignore the injustice. This time, I would speak up on behalf of my son and his diligent efforts at trying to “make the grade”… his grade … the fifth grade.

Jadon has a learning disability, not unlike many of his peers. It’s been difficult to adequately diagnose his issues over the years. Some term it dyslexia; others ADHD. Still others, a combination of both and then some. I’m not convinced about his labels. There doesn’t seem to be one that accurately describes his problem. Consequently, I spend a lot of time trying to educate his teachers about how to best educate him. This learning process, both for him and them, doesn’t always flow smoothly. Case in point? Yesterday’s debacle.

We’d spent a lot of at-home hours preparing for this Math test. Angles, parallel lines, polygons and the like had been on the after-school menu for several days. S.E.V.E.R.A.L. D.A.Y.S. Those of you who have kids with similar issues get this one. No small amount of blood, sweat, and tears were shed in preparation for this test, not to mention all the other tests that are being crammed into these final days of the nine weeks. Accordingly, we would have been happy to take our 92% (yes, I said “ours” as this learning process is a collective effort) and walk away with a smile. Instead, Jadon’s achievement was met with disapproval and with his tears as he realized, yet again, that a 92% was not enough to appease his teacher’s expectations. Those who scored a 100% received a pass on a second test; those who didn’t score perfectly will sit for another try at it this morning.

And I am angry. Not because there isn’t merit in trying to do better (especially for those who bombed the test) but because a 92% is Jadon’s better and should be celebrated rather than diminished.

Is this where it begins, readers? When did we start believing that our 92%’s aren’t good enough? Did it start in our younger years at school? Maybe even earlier in our homes when the beds weren’t made perfectly, the toys weren’t organized correctly, the dishes weren’t rinsed properly, the clothes not folded correctly? When did our best efforts at living life, accomplishing life, become not good enough? Further still, who gets to make that determination?

I’ve spent my lifetime feeling the weightiness of my 92%’s. Rather than celebrating my achievements, I’ve languished in my desire for perfection. Rarely have I been satisfied with the outcomes of my efforts, and there have been others who’ve been all too willing to agree with my personal assessments. There have been times when a 92% just didn’t cut it.

As a daughter.
As a sister.
As a student.
As a wife.
As a preacher’s wife… twice.
As a mother.
As a friend.
As a writer.
As a homemaker.
As a teacher.
As a speaker.
As a patient.
As a survivor.
As a Christian.

Time and time again, when my best efforts didn’t warrant personal celebration. Times when I was forced to take a second test, a third one, in hopes of getting it right, making my grade, all the while choking through my tears,

I can’t do this … it’s not fair. One stupid problem … one stifling obstacle keeping me from a 100%. I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not spiritual enough to past this test. My learning disabilities are preventing my perfection.

Perfection. Isn’t it time we move past our notions regarding our 100%’s and start living in the realities of our 92’s? Sweet ones, hear me on this one. Our perfection is coming. Each day that we live with Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit as our compass, we move further along in the process of our perfection. From glory to glory, one beautiful, God-shaped step at a time. We’re getting there, being conformed into his likeness with every deliberate faith-filled choice we make and with every heaven-filled grace we’re given. We’re getting there. But, until we do, wouldn’t it be gloriously freeing if we could celebrate our best efforts … our 92%’s? Why must we continually force an expectation on ourselves and others that is impossible to achieve on the front side of heaven?

Would it be alright for us to celebrate the gains today rather than to unnecessarily focus on our almost’s? Is one stupid problem tripping you up and limiting today’s effectiveness, today’s joy? I know that we should always strive to be and to do our best, to be God’s best. To tell you to live lesser would be a false teaching and not in line with biblical standards. But when our best levels at a 92%, couldn’t we just acknowledge that achievement with joy and call it a win? Call it enough?

I don’t know what test you’ve recently scored a less than perfect grade on. I don’t have to look too far back in my history to find mine. But as I see it today, I’m willing to afford some grace to the situation and to realize that all is not lost with my 92%. In fact, there’s been some great gain because of it. I’m not perfect, not yet, but I’m closer today than I was yesterday, and so are you.

Give your best at living life today. Give it all in the name of Jesus Christ, and then let it be enough. A 92% in God’s book is pretty darn close to glory. Keep to it, friends, knowing that the grace of God is working in your heart and life to finish you home perfectly. Look toward that end while taking the time to celebrate the progression. I love your 92% and so does our Father. As always…

Peace for the journey,

Prepare the Way of the Lord…

“A voice of one calling:
‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD;
Make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
Every mountain and hill made low;
The rough ground shall become level,
The rugged places a plain.
The glory of the of the LORD will be revealed,
All mankind together will see it.’
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)

I had a thought a couple of days ago when first reading these words from God’s heart via the pen of the Prophet Isaiah. Several thoughts really, but one overriding theme that keeps skipping around in my mind, trying desperately to shelve itself alongside other holy truths that have come home to roost in my heart. A thought that I could, perhaps, one day use in conversation with others when trying to explain to them the gift of Bethlehem—the incarnation of God.

Have you tried that lately? Tried to explain to anyone in this season of Advent the reason of Advent? Are you, like me, so tangled up in ribbons and bows and undone lists that you’ve neglected your responsibility to be a baptizer like John—a heralder to the coming Kingdom? When was the last time you doused a soul with the life-giving, Living Water that courses through your veins as truth? In the midst of purchases and planning for the perfect Christmas, what plans have you made for the giving of Jesus Christ? The purchase has already been made… gift-wrapped and hung on a tree nearly 2000 years ago. There is no excuse we can offer for missing it, for missing Him. Even more so for giving Him to others. None.

And here’s my thought…

In giving us Jesus Christ, God leveled the playing field for all mankind to enter into a loving, intimate, eternal, and knowing relationship with him.

Jesus came to our desert, to our wilderness, and with his royal witness… with every holy step of progression he took toward us…

the deepest valley,
the steepest mountain,
the roughest terrain,
the rugged places…

all were made level to make entrance for the King.

With Jesus comes stability. With Jesus comes clear and certain revelation. When Jesus points his compass in our direction and makes pilgrimage toward our hearts, there is no obstacle in our past or present that can prevent his arrival. None. The only obstacle that stands in the way of our receiving God’s truth is our stubborn pride—our ridiculous need to be in charge of our own hearts, our own determinations about our tomorrows which, in the end, will lead us straight to the threshold of hell rather than the gain of heaven.

God didn’t create the obstacles that block our path to freedom, readers.

In giving us Jesus Christ, God leveled the playing field for all mankind to enter into a loving, intimate, eternal, and knowing relationship with him.

There is level ground beneath the feet of Jesus. His way is straight, his steps determined, and there is nothing that will prevent him from making pilgrimage to the front door of our hearts.

Advent. The coming of Christ, the Child. The redemption of Christ, the Savior. The forever with Christ, the Lord! The glory of the Lord has been revealed. It’s time for all the world to see it.

Herald Him loudly. Proclaim Him boldly. Take your place alongside John the Baptizer and be the one voice on this desert earth who is willing to make straight the highway for our King. God has leveled the playing field. Time to find your place alongside Him this week. I’ll meet you on the road. As always…

Peace for the journey,


coming home to daddy’s arms…

My dad is the funniest man I know. Not the stand-up comedic kind of funny, but the everyday conversation kind of funny. As the man walketh, so does his humor. Those of you who know him well, know this to be true. Those of you who know me well, know this also to be true of me. I know this shocks some of you. I’ve even heard it from some of you upon meeting me for the first time.

Elaine, I thought you’d be this serious, contemplative type of person who sits around all day thinking profound thoughts about God. Instead, you’re funny.

I’ve never been offended by the conclusion. After all, I write about some fairly heavy stuff here at “peace for the journey.” But I like knowing that I can be both—contemplative and humorous. I have my father to thank for this genetic DNA. My daddy makes me think and makes me laugh, sometimes within the span of a few minutes. He’s the most generous man I know, giving the best of himself away to all who cross his path. He’s not impressed with things, more importantly, not impressed with himself. He is, however, impressed by the story. Your story; my story; God’s story.

My daddy sees God everywhere, because my daddy is connected to life. To joys and pains equally. To highs and lows. Griefs and graces. Sorrows and celebrations. Regardless of the occasion, my dad has discovered how to live with a balanced perspective. My father lives contentedly and always tempers the tough times with large doses of humor.

I’m so glad I still have him around. He was the first man to ever hold me, to ever love me. The first man to wipe my tears, to tell me bedtime stories, to pray the prayers that all good parents should be praying with their children. He was the only man who loved me when others would not … could not. And his were the arms that stretched wide-open for me and welcomed me home after a long season of loveless wandering in the wilderness. In doing so, my daddy told me the story of Jesus all over again. That one moment in my personal history did more to script the eternal witness of God into my life than any other.

And so, today, I tell you again this story I’ve told you before via this video that I posted on my one-year blogging anniversary, nearly three years ago. It’s a bit painful for me to watch it, considering the many miles that have been walked in the time since first posting it. But one thing, one thread remains the same to this day.

My daddy is still stretching his arms wide-open to welcome me home. He’s still making me laugh, still telling me stories. Still connected to the world, and still making sure that I know the way back to Jesus. Today, I honor my father by sharing this witness again. He’d want you to know that, even if you’ve never had an earthly daddy to love you, you have a heavenly Father who loves you perfectly and whose arms are stretched wide on your behalf.

I love you, daddy, for so many reasons, but none more so than for telling me … showing me God. You tell him well!


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