Category Archives: a quick word

when God paints pink …

A Cherry Blossom in full bloom greeted me on my way into Cape Fear Valley Cancer Center this afternoon. Fitting that it should be there, waiting on me. I think God knew I needed its witness. Just two weeks ago, an ice storm wreaked havoc on our community. The only colors that afternoon were white and gray, still beautiful in their own right.

I am grateful for the limitless color palette of our Creator. He paints the witness of his presence into every scene of our lives. Whether we’re in the midst of the brittle bite of winter, the extravagant blossom of spring, the sun and shade of summer, or the earthy harvest of fall, no matter the season of our lives …

God is there. God is near. God is here. With me; with you.

Look around. Look up. Look beyond. Just start looking. You will see him, even as I have seen him. Today, God wrapped himself up in pink and reminded me that I am not forgotten, that I am his daughter, and that a tree from his garden would be his preference to remind me of his great love for me.

Considering the recent weather conditions in our area, some would say that spring has arrived a little early to eastern North Carolina. The Father would say that it has arrived right on time … in blossom and wearing pink.

‘Tis a grace unspeakable and filled with glory. My heart sings the refrain, and my knee bows humbly to drink it in.

There is still time to secure a copy of Beyond Cancer’s Scars or Peace for the Journey; click here to learn more. I greatly appreciate your support as I walk through this transition in my writing ministry.

it might be hope

I made a telling discovery this morning during my morning devotional time – a few thoughts I’m lingering on and in as I begin this grace-day with Jesus. It’s about my standing “near the cross” and the posture of my heart therein. Let me explain.

Three years ago, I led a group of women through Alicia Chole’s study, Choices: to be or not to be … a woman of God. In this current season, I have the privilege of doing the same with another group of women at our new church. One of the questions that Alicia repeatedly asks of us in our times together is, “How is your garden growing?” (alicia chole, choices: to be or not to be a woman of God, 2003, p.4)

What I like most about this question is that it roots in intentionality—something along the lines of: This is the garden of your soul, Elaine; what’s being planted in that place? What is growing there? And therein, I cannot sit back and simply lead. Instead, I must sit alongside my sisters as a participant. Just because I’ve done the study before, doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be some fresh digging, fresh seed planted in the soil of my own heart. If I can’t give God access to the spade and shovel to work within the confines of my soul, I certainly shouldn’t waste the time of the members of my group in shepherding them toward the same.

And so, I give the trowel over to Jesus and ask him to break up the soil of my unplowed ground, to see, once again, what is growing within me nearly three years after this familiar blade first broke the soil regarding the choices I make … to be or not to be a woman of God.

Week Three, Day One (ibid, p. 29). Alicia guides me to consider that familiar scene at the cross, where Jesus’ mother, close friends, and followers were “standing by” as eyewitnesses to his suffering (see John 19:25). I journal my thoughts regarding the many, strong emotions that must have been present that day. I do so without looking back at the responses I wrote to this same question three years earlier. In keeping my responses fresh, I’m able to (at the conclusion of the activity) look back to those earlier responses and compare them with my current ones. It’s a rich exercise in evaluation.

Easily, I find the similarities. Feelings that include: confusion, emptiness, sorrow, loneliness, fear, gut-wrenching pain. I imagine many of you might reach these same conclusions regarding the emotions surrounding that day at Calvary. What surprised me the most in the comparing of my two lists was the inclusion of a couple of emotions this time around that were glaringly absent from my list three years ago. Those emotions? Relief and hope. Relief that Christ’s anguish had come to an end—a finishing point to an event that had, undoubtedly, been building up in their minds for a long season. And feelings of hope based on the reality of the finishing work of the cross—something along the lines of: Now that we’ve come to this moment in his story, I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next.

And therein is my discovery, my lingering. Why the emotions of relief and hope this time around and not three years ago? Well, that’s another story for another day. But when I look back to where I was three years ago (a season of deep suffering and wounding) and to where I am today, the discrepancy is more clearly understood. Suffering sometimes clouds the truth, and the truth is … suffering does a finishing work in all of us. When we arrive at suffering’s end, hope often turns up in our hearts to surprise us and to invite us forward into holy expectation for the words yet to be written onto the pages of our lives.

This is the garden of your soul, Elaine; what’s being planted in that place? What is growing there?

Well, it feels like relief; it feels like it might be hope. What about you, friends? What is growing in the soil of your heart? Won’t you take some time today to consider the question with Jesus? It’s a fine deliberation and one that has the potential to yield abundant fruit for your soul. As always …

Peace for the journey,

“Beyond Cancer’s Scars” book review and give-away

Over the past two years, I have been the recipient of many gracious reviews of my books, written by you, my readers. This grass roots effort at marketing has been the key to getting the word out about my work. I’m always grateful for and humbled by your generosity, even more so by the truth that my words have moved upon your heart in some measure.

Today, Leah @ The Point Ministries picks up the pen to chronicle her thoughts about Beyond Cancer’s Scars. In addition, she’s offering a give-away of the book at her website (click on this link). I hope you’ll take the time to hop over to Leah’s place to hear her thoughts and to register for a chance to win. Leah is a gifted writer and teacher and has been a consistent, faith-filled presence in my life over these past years. Her friendship is yet another undeserved grace from Jesus!

Please note that comments are closed on my post in hopes that you’ll leave one at Leah’s. Have a great day in Jesus!

moving the Kingdom forward in the next sixty minutes . . .

Movement wins. If you’ve been a regular reader at my blog in the past year, then you know that I chose this phrase to serve as my “anchor word” for 2012. Forward movement is a worthy pursuit, whether in the physical or spiritual realm of advancement. When we make the deliberate decision to move forward in faith, then it’s a win, not just for us but for the kingdom of God as well.

Along these lines, I’d like to offer you a challenge today—a single way that you can move your faith forward, thereby advancing God’s kingdom. It may sound simple, but I imagine it might be harder in practice. That’s what we’re going to do . . . practice our faith in a practical way. Practice is often the conduit for transformation. Great teaching will only take us so far, but great teaching applied in earnest unlocks the sacred potential in all of us to move forward in our perfection. So if you’re willing, let’s apply this one change to the way we spend our next hour (whenever this hour arrives for you).

Two steps are required. First, listen to the Word. Second, do the Word. Ready? Then listen up:

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” –2 Corinthians 5:16

Now, do this one thing: No longer regard anyone from a worldly point of view.

Translation? Stop looking at the people in front of you from a worldly perspective. Stop viewing them as flesh and blood. Instead, view them as soul and spirit. See them not as temporal beings but, rather, as the eternal children of God. Look deeply into the faces of those around you, those who’ll cross your path in the next sixty minutes, and find the face of God. Notice Jesus and his pulse as he hovers around them. Recognize a single human life for what it is—a created being fashioned and formed in the image of God, a life worthy of Calvary’s investment. Grace’s investment.

With the Holy Spirit’s help, you can do this, friends. We can do this. In doing so, we move the kingdom of God forward. We may not be privy to the results of our investment or feel the earth move beneath our feet, but we can be certain that the heavens are marking our paces and turning the pages of the kingdom calendar in great anticipation of the arrival of its King.

This is not the time for weak faith and shoddy investments. This is the season for bold faith and Jesus investments. No, God doesn’t need us to move his kingdom forward, but because of his great love for us, he offers us the privilege of sacred participation. He gives us the opportunity and the occasion to see his people, all of his people, from his vantage point.

No longer regard anyone from a worldly point of view. The souls in front of us cannot afford our negligence. So get busy; the clock’s ticking. Fifty-seven minutes and counting. Make them count. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

Lessons from the Lunchroom {on doing the right thing}


“Hey, Lunch Lady, can I have another slice of pizza?”


So said my son last Friday around noon. It’s only in hindsight that I can laugh about it. In the moment, my emotions were otherwise occupied with thoughts of escape, retreat, and getting out of Dodge while there was still some gas left in my tank. Being his lunch lady is just one of the many new labels I’m wearing around my house. Teacher, principal, janitor, and bathroom monitor are a few others. Yes, we’re homeschooling this year . . . a 6th grader and a 5th grader.


It’s hard, but it’s right.


How do I know? I just know. I knew it the moment we began. It took us a long time to arrive at this decision, but after a few years of educational frustration, it was time to make a change. Sometimes you just know when a change is needed. Sometimes you take a large leap away from what’s reasonable . . . what’s comfortable because of that knowing.


It’s good to have that kind of information stored away as an anchor—the assurance that the hard decision is the right decision. I’ve not always had that certainty when it comes to making decisions. Sometimes it’s a 51/49 process. Fifty-one percent says “yes”; forty-nine a “no.” Sometimes I just have to go with that extra two percent, believing that God goes with me and will make up the difference. I’m glad that’s not the case here.


God has this year in his hands. His reach is generous. It’s going to be hard, but it’s already very, very right.


Right isn’t always easily defined. But as we stick close to Jesus . . . lean in to him, rely on him, expect from him . . . he is faithful to provide us with an ample supply of strength, courage, and direction for the path we’re traveling. With such grace, we’ll find that what is right is also good, even when it feels so very hard.


Being a lunch lady will bring many changes to my life, of this I am certain. I don’t know the ebb and flow of it all just yet. I do know it’s requiring far more of me than I anticipated on the front side of my decision. I’m having to let go of a few good things in order take hold of this better one.


But I’m ready to try, and really, in the end, isn’t this most of the struggle—garnering enough personal willingness to try and do the hard thing? To just step on, step forward, and walk the line of what’s right? Those steps might be fraught with difficulty, hardship at a whole new level, and surrender at the deepest of levels, but when they’re the right steps, the struggle will be worth the gain.


This I believe to be true. This is how I will live my year as lunch lady, with struggle and with faith. And most wonderfully, with two young hearts who first called to me from their cribs and who, now, call to me from the lunchroom. This is going to be a wild ride, friends! Thanks for coming along with us. As always . . .


Peace for the journey,

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