Saturday, May 15, 2010

I'll Be Back!

I know you want an update but I'm in Dallas, Texas! And I am as happy as could be.  Mark's eldest daughter is graduating from college today and I couldn't be more proud of our future Kindergarten teacher!

Later...there will be a wedding.  This beautiful daughter of ours will be marrying her long time love and I couldn't possibly be more thrilled.  She asked me to make some mini-chocolate cupcakes and top them off with little cherry blossoms to coordinate with their wedding cake.  Look at the topper:

It's a groom with his bride in a graduation gown!  How cute it that!?!!!  I love it!

And as I think of her...

She is not flesh of my flesh but with her every breath I feel joy. From the very first time I saw her as a young teen, she has captivated my heart.  I couldn't imagine my life without her and I am thankful to her parents for sharing her with me. I also am so grateful to our daughter, now maturing young bride, to have allowed me a space in her heart along with cherished others. She carries me with them, side by side and there is no place of more humble honor when she calls me "mother".

She is not flesh of my flesh...but she is mine. I love her completely and now I have another son.

Congratulations to both of them!

All my love,


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cookie Cutter Words - Part III

From Cookie Cutter Words Part I , the story continues.  As I wrote in the last part, I needed to let her go and I was having a hard time doing so.  I honestly do not know why but I hope to be bold enough with you to show you what happened when I finally did.  Some parts may not be pretty and I may sound a But hold on tight until the end...this is not about me.

Remember I had told you last week about a story I was editing and editing?  I finally decided to leave the story as is. I want to let you see my thought process in the story I was telling so you might experience and feel what I felt. Afterall, the story is not about me or her.  It's about...Him.

The following is exactly what I wrote a few weeks ago:

"I have prayed for her several times and I did again today as I wrote this out. I don’t know what happened that afternoon nor do I know if I will ever see her again. But I would love to think that God continued to put people in her path to lift her and encourage her and bring her to a deep love where she would understand there is a place where there are no more tears.

I love the thought that someday I would be so honored to experience God’s glory and in His presence thank Him for all the beautiful people He’s placed in my life. To think that in the heaven above this hectic earth, He would introduce some of the ones I had never seen again back to me…one by one. Then I would see her smiling face again as He lovingly says,... [continual cursor blinking]"
Goodness! What in the world was I thinking?!!  No wonder I stared at the blinking cursor for days and couldn't finish the sentence.  Don't get me wrong, praying for someone and hoping to enjoy eternity with them is not a bad thing.  Trust me, there are alot of girlfriends I can't wait to hang out with and get "our worship on" in THE best place to dance and sing. But I was still making this experience about me...somehow.

I don't know if you noticed or not, but I had still not let go. Somehow I had convinced myself that praying for her and hoping to be introduced to her in heaven by our Creator, was letting go.  I had subconciously placed her in my "cookie cutter" expectation. It had all become about what I had done, and how I had prayed and what I wanted to see. But just like I had described previously in the "conversation" with my loving wasn't about me. Only I didn't see it yet.

Now fast forward.

It had been about six days since I last edited my story and gave up.  I told myself I would let it rest for a few days and then come back to it. When I finally did, it was a Friday morning. What was significant about that Friday was I had just experienced some pretty intense persecution a few days prior.  During that time, there was alot of prayer in which I thanked God for being able to see my heart.

There was aLOT of prayer and thanksgiving.

Here's the funny thing. I told my husband I felt I would be able to finish editing my story because I felt I was tender enough to understand...cookie cutter expectations because of cookie cutter words.  I then re-read my story.


To my surprise, I saw what was in my heart and God had known it the whole time!  I had not let go of my expectations. I had not let her go in order to give God all due credit. I realized I was to be in thanksgiving for the interaction. Yes, in thanking God that He would handle all the growth from the seed that was planted those five months prior, it opened up an entirely different thought pattern. I didn't need to stop praying but I did need to start praising.

So I did.

I thanked God for all the things I could think of in how He had handled me in any of my own personal pain. I thanked Him for His goodness, love, gentleness, compassion, mercy, and encourgement. I thanked Him for His wisdom, understanding, patience, and kindness.  I thanked Him that He never misses a thing...not one tear. And I thanked Him for His Son, our sweet and beloved Jesus.  Yes! I thanked Him for the example we have in Jesus in how to live and how to love.  Because, "We love because He first loved us" (Jn 4:19)

That is how I let her go.

If you're still with me, remember I told you it was Friday morning when I realized I needed to start praising?  Seriously? You're still reading? Thank you.

Here is your reward:

(teaser alert!)

I had to run another quick errand that Friday afternoon.  You don't want to miss this update.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cookie Cutter Words - Part II

If you haven't already, start by reading Cookie Cutter Words - Part I


For months I thought of her. I kept seeing her face and hearing her voice...and seeing her tears. I kept her close to me in my thoughts and prayers. She was just one of the reasons I spent so much time with my Father in deciding how to show humble respect in my story telling.

Although I did not know it yet, God had kept her in my thoughts for a purpose that would simply blow my mind away. So in the meantime, I went over and over the words I could not remember saying to her. I prayerfully asked Father for the lesson and if I could put my heart onto paper...or this screen, it would have gone something like this:

-What did I say to her?  Did they make a difference?
- Why does it matter to you?
-Can't I learn from this? What could I say differently? The same?
- This isn't about you.
-But she was so upset about having to work. And Christmas. And...
-What makes you think that is what she was truly upset about?
-Was it something I said?
-This isn't about you.
-But she was so sad!
-I know her pain and I love her, just like I love you.
-But I want to help her. I have so much I could say.
-I know.
-Let it go.

(Just so you know, I do not mean to say I have full conversations like this with the Creator of our universe. I will tell you I could feel a very strong pull of me wanting to control the outcome because I thought I knew best. What I will also tell you is that it's not a good idea to argue with God. I mean know...He's got bolts of lighting and stuff!)

SO, I entertained the thought that maybe I had misread this woman's tears.  Maybe there was something more and I could have made things worse by saying things I thought she should hear. But I listened to His words in my heart and reminded myself: 
God loves her.
He loves her just the way she is and just where she is. He loves her when she laughs and He loves her when she cries. He knows every little detail of her life...all the good and all the bad and He loves her. He knows what will reach and what won't. I don't and I needed to stop thinking I did.

Too often we think we know best and sit in judgment of another's circumstances and try to give “good advice” by our cookie cutter responses. We see the woman whose infant is screaming at the top of its lungs as she frantically struggles to mix formula with water and we may think, “If she would have breastfed, her baby wouldn’t have to wait and cry.” We don’t even realize she just adopted.

We look at the woman in the grocery store with her three children as she fumbles while trying to keep track of them and we may think, “If only she would have left them at home.” We don’t know that her husband is in the military overseas and there is nobody at home to watch the kids.

We look at the Muslim woman wrapped in her Hijab and may avert our eyes from looking into hers. We’re not aware she’s experienced tragedy. Or that her family is seeking political asylum, and she doesn’t know a single friendly Christian person. Not a one and yet she holds onto hope that somehow honor can be restored.

How many things do you think my sobbing woman heard that day?

What do you think she remembered?

I don’t know. But I certainly hope it was what I said to her. Not because it was me but because I want her to remember that someone cared enough to stop and encourage her. That someone would pray for her and not all people will treat her poorly. I hope she saw Jesus.

What I do know is that God knew what would reach her and it was not by my own understanding.  It would take months of praying for her and another quick errand on a sunny Friday afternoon to discover the true impact of my words.

But first, I still had to her let go.

Part III awaits...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cookie Cutter Words - Part I

Nine little words...months ago. This story is still unfolding and has a few updates. Therefore, in the interest of time as I continue to edit and honor this woman's privacy, I will leave her name out and have to post this long chapter of Nine Little Words in parts.

Won't you walk with me and feel my experience?  Feel her. Pray for her.


I had a few things to get as the Christmas season was winding down. Trust me, it was nothing fancy and it had nothing to do with butter or cookies or Christmas at all. It’s just that during the mad retail rush of the season, you can’t seem to get anywhere or get anything without waiting in a line. I was determined to not get pulled in by the strong under toe current of shoppers. So I had my list: shampoo and wash for the kids, tights for the princess, pull ups, toothpaste, toilet paper, hair color for me and razors for my husband. Excellent! It was just supposed to be a quick errand and nine little words were not even on my radar.

Then, I met her.

I’ve told you before that I have no problem being courteous and using the name of whomever I am dealing with. I didn’t realize until this day, this Christmas season, on this quick errand, how important it would care.

Everything was just fine until I handed her a coupon that would not work. The sale simply would not ring up, no matter how hard she tried. I could sense her frantic frustration as she tried to find someone to help. Her line grew longer and all the while, I assured her I was fine in having to wait. Not knowing if she was seasonal help, I asked her name and then assured her she was doing a good job and not to worry.

When help finally arrived, it became clear to me that I was not the only customer having a problem with that store coupon, that day, in that line, on that computer with this beautiful woman whose name I cannot tell you. I’m not sure if it was the busyness of the season, but the “help” didn’t seem like help at all. Some quick override function with a key took place and then an over the shoulder glance that said, “it’s ok” which was more belittling than encouraging, as the “help” immediately walked away.

Wow. That wasn't very nice.

She seemed more frustrated than ever as I swiped my card. I tried to make one more desperate attempt at telling her the day would go better but this time I added one more thing. I reached out and touched her.

-“Don’t worry. You’re doing fine and it’s going to be okay.”

Her eyes told me the truth. She didn’t believe it was going to be okay and it was not because of that stupid coupon I was now wishing I had never used.

-“It’s just that it’s almost Christmas and I’m here. I don’t want to be here but I have to be. I don’t know what to do!”

I knew what she was saying. I knew what she meant by the way she said it and she began to shake. It wasn’t Christmas yet but it was coming and she felt she had to be there…working and doing, doing, doing.

This time I put my stuff down, reached around, and with both of my hands tightly grasping hers I told her I would pray for her day to go smoothly and for her not to worry anymore. That is when she began to sob.

There was something about her quiet sob that shut every other noise out. Now, at this very moment, I knew I had to ask even though it seemed so very petty. I held her hands and they began to tremble as I said the words I had no intention of asking:

-“How can I ask God to bless you today?”

No answer. Just tears. Tears streaming down her face.

-“Please tell me. I am going to pray for you.”

Still no answer, but it was obvious that work pressure and Christmas approaching was taking its toll. I took a deep breath and ran my hands over hers. I know I said something to her but I didn't hear the words I was saying and I honestly don't think anyone heard them except her. I feel that may have been what God intended because He was needing to remind me of something very important. People aren't made from a cookie cutter and we are not to have cookie cutter responses. 

I do know my words meant something to her because she closed her eyes and sighed a big “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” The tears stopped and were replaced with a peaceful smile.

I left with my heart completely torn to pieces for her and I haven’t stopped thinking about her since that day. I’ve looked for her time and time again but I never find her. Regardless, I remember that day and what I needed to be reminded of...each person being uniquely made and uniquely loved by God.

And He was preparing my heart to show me Himself in a way I could have never predicted.

I promise. Part II is waiting to be told.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thanking God with joy in my heart...

There is a nine little words story that I have written out but have not yet published.  Something was wrong. It wasn't right and I kept editing, and editing, and editing...and crying.  After finally "letting go" of the encounter this week, God gave me the most amazing gift because of the interaction I had with this woman who had griped my heart for the past five months.

He gave me the gift this afternoon and you will be amazed.  I cannot contain my joy and needed to let you know.

Back to editing...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Woman to Love

"See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (Hebrews 12:15)

I love to love. But I wasn't always this way. I do have some trust issues and it has taken quite a while to get where I am today. Believe me when I tell you that I still have a long way to go.  Once trust is broken, as with many, it is difficult to get back.  However, with me it seems like an impossible mountain to climb.  I'm currently climbing Mt Everest with one experience but that is not the story I will tell you today. Nor is this about trust. It's about loving others as Christ does.

There is one woman I love. She is the complete opposite of me.  In many ways I wish I was more like her. I wish I had her confidence, her beauty, her generosity, her sense of style, her connections and her courage to do what it takes. She can walk into a room and command attention. When she speaks, people listen. This woman has no fear. Well, except one.

The fear she has goes completely against what I believe and hold to be Truth. Often times I have felt wrongly judged and misunderstood. This does not make her any less of a person or less lovable. The problem is with me.

I'm not going to try and sugar coat my failures as a Christ follower but to save some face I will spare you the details of my insecurities and how that can translate into judgement of others.  But what I will tell you is that I have recognized that the problem is in me and that it is a problem. In trusting my beautiful Father, I have in turn given it to Him and asked Him to show me when there is a bitter root that needs...whacking.

So one particular morning, I was having a hard day trusting and letting go. I knew I had to go in prayer. I knew I had to hand it over to Him and that all I needed to do was courageously love. I asked God to clothe this woman in His grace so I could see her just as He loves her. I wanted to see her as He does every day, every morning, every minute of every hour. I needed to see her clothed in the same grace He covers me in. I finished up my prayer time and went about my day feeling thankful that God was helping me whack away at roots that needed to be removed. I certainly didn't want to leave in anything that the adversary of relationships could use against this woman I love.

It so happened to be that I was to meet up with her later in the day and I was looking forward to seeing her. I simply was not prepared for what I would see when I came around the corner.

I could have fallen to my knees in that moment.

This is what she was wearing...



... a shirt that said:


Thank You loving Father for showing me You are always listening. Thank You for loving her and letting me feel Your heart for her. Thank You for making sure I didn't miss Your grace.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Time with my Father - Part IV

Please be patient with me because this blog is changing.


Not to worry. I’ve received so many beautiful and gracious comments here, via email, or in person that it has been very encouraging. I’m not going to stop writing but I do have to change some things and I’ve gotten the “go ahead” to tell you.

Part of the reason I started writing the series of “Time with my Father” was because of this very blog and those nine little words. I questioned how I could possibly bring my beloved Father all due credit for what was happening in my life, in the lives of others. So we spent a lot of time together and He showed me many things. With every little thing He showed me, my eyes opened wider and my heart grew bigger.

I want these stories to be about these beautiful people and how God is pouring Himself into blessing me in the process. I don’t want to write the stories about these encounters for the purpose of writing or recognition. I want others to feel bold and brave enough to do it also...and feel His mighty love.

In addition, if for whatever reason someone I had asked happened to come to this blog, I don’t want these individuals to ever feel like I exploited them for my purposes. That is why so much time is between each encounter and post. I allow their requests to soak in so I can love on the individual in private prayer.

I also wait for God’s lesson.

The stories are all so different from each other but what remains the same in every experience is that the blessing I receive is immediate and the lesson I learn lingers. For some time afterwards I feel like I am walking in another dimension, as if I have stepped into the lives of those I have spoken with. I become less petty and less critical, even if for a moment, of my life over what I have or don’t have. It’s almost as if I am experiencing the truth behind when Jesus was speaking to a religious leader about loving God and your neighbor as yourself.

Hearing Christ's words he responded, "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." [(Mk 12: 32, 33) emphasis added, mine.]

Oh! You mean not just going to church, and giving, and talking the talk but actually LIVING by serving and LOVING by walking the walk in our communities...our neighborhoods?


In asking the question “How can I ask God to bless you today?”, I am having the unique opportunity to see the heart of the one I ask. To see what is not talked about. To see what they carry hidden. Maybe it’s not a secret that they share but a hidden burden, concern, worry or even joy. I also feel God's heart for their request.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen tears well up or how many times someone has laughed. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked away and wondered how in the world I was able to see God’s heart for that person. His heart? A complete stranger? Just by asking a question? How is that even possible? I certainly do not understand it but do you know what Jesus said to the religious leader who understood what He was teaching?

“‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.” (Mk 12:34)

Out of so many pharisees who dispised Jesus, this one got it! He got the heart of everything God has ever said. Care enough as you would yourself. Care enough to love and you will experience His heart for those around you. Experience His heart and He is magnified in your life. You can't help but to fall deeper in love with Him. It is a glorious circle of loving God, loving people, and feeling completely loved in return. You can't get any closer to heaven on this earth than that.

No wonder those listening to Jesus  in that moment didn’t ask anymore questions. I don’t know how I feel God’s heartbeat when I ask those nine little words, but I do and I don’t dare ask anymore questions. I let the experience fill me.

Which brings me to what is changing about the blog.

These very private moments are between the person I ask, myself and God. At first I told my sweet and caring Papa God that I no longer wanted to write any of these stories because I feel completely inadequate to do it any justice. I felt Him speak to my heart that this mini- adventure I am on is to be shared. But I was still...afraid.

Don't worry. I didn't stop. I have spent weeks asking people those nine little words and debating whether I should share or not or even how. Needless to say, my Creator and I went on many walks and spent a lot of time talking. He’s been very convincing…in the gentlest way of course.

So, I will continue to share the stories but I will no longer tell you the details of where I had the encounter. Yes, I will give you the names because I believe in the power of praying for a person by name. I will also let you see my stumbles and self discoveries but in order to honor the privacy of these people God clearly loves and cares for, I will focus more on what I learned through the process.

Here’s to being “not far from the kingdom of God” by stepping out and pushing away my fear in order to experience the blessing of feeling my Father’s heartbeat…one beat at a time.

I believe it will be a beautiful thing.


Photographs of Monarch Butterfly in various by Lisa Arnold
taken with: