Scarred Beyond Hope???



Scarred Beyond Hope???

“All of the cards are stacked against the woman at the well.  Looking at her long string of bad choices, many would consider her unredeemable, unsalvageable, unteachable, and beyond help.  She hasn’t just made a few mistakes; she has lived a lifetime of mistakes, enough to cause most to conclude her life is scarred beyond hope.  She comes to the well at the middle of the day because respectable women come in the morning, and she understands that she is no respectable woman.

But Jesus respects her.

Jesus doesn’t see what everyone else sees.

As far as Jesus is concerned, this woman is salvageable, teachable, and redeemable.  As far as Jesus is concerned, the woman with no future has a future; the woman with a string of failures is about to have the string broken.  Jesus sees her present desire, which makes her past irrelevant.

You don’t suppose, do you, the same could be true for you and me?  Our mistakes, our strings of failures, and what everyone else labels unredeemable may actually be redeemable?  You don’t suppose the mess we’ve made of our lives can be the place where we meet Jesus?  Do you?”

(taken from Messy Spirituality- (one of my absolute favorite book)s- by Michael Yaconelli)

Art by Christopher C. Randolph


What They Didn’t Tell Me…


What They Didn’t Tell Me…

If they had told me some things about motherhood, I might have changed my mind. If they would have told me that it doesn’t matter how old your child gets, that there is this invisible cord that connects from their heart to yours that emits shock waves, and emotional highs and lows that never stop, that the protective instinct  that you were given by God doesn’t go away when they turn 18, and that your heart will be a squeezed, patched up, scarred up, convoluted organ that looks like a worn out washcloth… on the good days.  But how could they tell you that?  You might actually listen and change your mind… but we all know the truth.  We humans often don’t listen to the voice of reason, and we do what we want.  We take the plunge despite all the warnings, and we jump off the cliff into the freezing cold water that shocks us from the inside out, and the outside in.

And what is even more absurd, is that we women (some of us) chase the pain by multiplying it (I have 10-you do the math!) BUT  I don’t regret it!  Call me crazy, but seriously,  I am not lamenting the pain, or wishing I hadn’t, I am just saying…

I had no idea that it was going to hurt so much.

I wasn’t the greatest mother, either, when they were little,  I know I was impatient, and I focused too much on the house being clean, and them being clean,  and other things, instead of just having fun with them.  But we did have fun, too!  So much fun, and I don’t regret it for a minute… I just wish I had been a better mother.  I wish I had been a more joyful, happy and loving example of someone who loves Jesus, and not preached so many self-righteous sermons to them, or expected  them to be spiritual giants, especially during their teen years.  Aaayaayyaaah! My poor kids!

So, my advice to you mommies of young children, is to just love, love, love them, and help them to find that close friend that Jesus will be to them, and help them to establish that connection with him so that even as they grow and experience the world and start to question, and think that they have found a cooler, more intellectual, or scientific, or amazing path, that it holds them fast, that connection, even without their being aware of it.  And that, even if they stray for awhile, and think they can make it on their own, without their best friend, that eventually they will miss him and look around for him, and friend request  him again. There are so many things that parents need to prepare their kids for, it is really a ridiculously long job description, but Love and Understanding are the top things that cover  the lacks.

He made it that simple. And another thing to be aware of is that you can’t expect them to change their ways to make you happy, because it has to be for the only good reason, because they realize that the high road, no matter how rocky or bumpy, is still the best road, and that the low road may look easy now, but it becomes empty and boring and very dark and painful.

And despite the afore-mentioned pain…I must clarify…My children are the most amazing part of my life that make me who I am…. We read books and search and study to find ourselves and who we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do and I have to say,  no matter what else I have done or will do, God gave me the gift of motherhood.  Yes, in spite of my description of pain, etc. it has been and continues to be what makes my life epic. Seriously!  That is how I see it! Each communication heart to heart with them, each memory, each struggle, agonizing prayer,  each proud moment as they succeed, or win, or fall, and rise up again.  Each step forward that they take, each gesture of love and care for others and each other, each time they make a tough choice, or blow it and make a bad choice, but learn from it.  The loving parents they are becoming,  they hard working people that they are, the funny, interesting, serious, unselfish, talented, beautiful and nutty individuals that they are is so much a part of what makes my life worth living.  So I am glad I didn’t hear it when someone might have said “are you sure you want to have kids?”

A Friend loves at all times…

A friend loves  at all times…

Friends are so important, and maybe I took mine for granted, before I moved so far away to a place where I really didn’t have so many.  Of course, I have my dear hubby and my wonderful kids & their significant others, and I am pretty close to some of them. But we all, at any age do need to have a friend or two who will listen, care, be honest, & love us through the muck and mud of our humanity. This kind of friend is a  treasure  so valuable that you really want to keep it.   I was happy to discover that my best friend from High School (who I am friends with on FB) is still there for me.  Recently, when my son was shot in a gun accident and spent two weeks in the hospital, I was so amazed to see my dear friend giving updates and sending out prayer requests for him!  Our friends in far flung countries, and nearby as well,  have stood by us and prayed for us and for these I am truly thankful, for a true friend is someone who is looking out for what is best for you, someone who helps you to be your best self and someone who cares about you, even enough to tell you the truth, someone that you can always trust, and someone you know your heart is safe with. 

But, of course, even though I have great friends, they are not perfect and not always “there for me”, and I am not always “there for them”, when they need me.

I concur with Celeste Palermo in her book THE COFFEE MOM’S DEVOTIONAL,

“There is only one true and lasting friend who is always available.  He understands me and wants the best for me.  He not only inspires me but he sustains and equips me.  He tells me the truth- straight up, all the time.  He is Jesus.

(she continues…)

“I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I used to see my relationship with Jesus as a duty, a chore to be crossed off a list.  I’d think, I need to have my Bible study today or I need to pray so that I could feel like I was “growing” spiritually.  I actually approached my relationship with God like a Monday through Friday job.  I’d do Bible study five days a week and take weekends off.  And, if I “took a sick day”, off, once in a while, I figured the Big Boss would understand.

He does understand, but what He wanted me to get, that I (finally!) get, is: He is my Friend.

A relationship with Jesus is not a checklist duty. I don’t call my friends because I feel like I need to.  I call them because I want to- and it’s no different with God.

Friendships do not grow when we feel forced into them.  They grow when our hearts connect.  When I came to understand, to truly understand, that God wants me to talk with him all the time- about ordinary stuff- not just requests or ritual, I became His friend. My heart connected with his.  I now look forward to talking with him 24-7, whether it is first thing in the morning, in the car, at work, or last thing at night. Jesus is the go-to friend who never fails and who loves at all times.” (see Proverbs 17:17)

Taken from A Coffee Mom’s Devotional by Celeste Palermo

Do You Need Fixing?

Don’t feel bad if you do, for this is the human condition that we all know and experience.  We may be  all happy and shiny one day and then, the next day, fall down and break, really break, into what might seem like a million pieces.  Everything may look lost and hopeless, but it never is.  Never.  Because we know someone who can fix anything and everything… bodies, hearts, lives, relationships, …souls.

It’s true.

The thought of redemption is a curious one.  Redemption is one of my favorite words,  along with validation. In her book,The Path,  Laurie Beth Jones encourages her readers to choose words that stir something in them, in order to discover the secrets to composing their own personal mission statement for life.  It is a beautiful exercise and pretty eye-opening.

The word Validation is one of my own favorites, as I can’t help but be stirred by the desire to somehow help people to find their value and purpose.  This is a deep passion that the Lord has given, only a minute fraction of a reflection of His own intense love and care for every soul, no matter who or what they have done, or how lost in this world they may be.

And, let’s face it, it is extremely easy to get lost in this world.  So very easy.

But, I want to share this thought from John Eldredge:

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”-Isaiah 61:1

“When the Bible tells us that Christ came to “redeem mankind” it offers a whole lot more than forgiveness.  To simply forgive a broken man is like telling  someone running a marathon, It’s okay that you’ve broken your leg.  I won’t hold that against you.  Now finish the race.”

That is cruel. To leave him disabled that way.  No,  there is much more to our redemption.  The core of Christ’s mission is foretold in Isaiah 61:1.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives & release for the prisoners.”

He came to “bind up and heal, to release and set free.  Your heart. (body, too, I might add.) He comes to restore and release you, your soul, the true you.  This is the central passage in the entire Bible about Jesus, the one He uses to quote about himself when he steps into the spotlight in Luke 4 and announces his arrival.  So take him at his word-ask him in to heal all the broken places within you and unite them into one whole and healed heart.  Ask him to release you from all bondage and captivity, as he promised to.”

J. Eldredge

Redemption is just a whisper of a word of a prayer away…please try it, and then wait and watch for it.  The answer may not come in the way you are expecting,  but it will come.

Ephesians 1:7

Do You Hear It?


As obvious as it may be to some,  I think that many of us too easily forget that whether we want it or not,  there is still a war going on.  There is still a war and we are players in it, whether active or passive.

We either  hear the  sound of the call to arms in our hearts.. or  choose to ignore it, drown it out or pretend it isn’t there…

John Eldredge puts it this way:

“We are living somewhere toward the end of Act Three.  We have a future, but this tale is not over yet.  We now live between the beaches of Normandy and the end of the war.  Between Paradise lost and Paradise regained.

We live in a far more dramatic, far more dangerous Story than we ever imagined.  The reason we love The Chronicles of Narnia or The Matrix or The Lord of the Rings is  because they are telling us something about our lives that we never, ever get on the evening news.  Or from most pulpits.  They are reminding us of the Epic we are created for.  This is the sort of tale you’ve fallen into.  How would you live differently if you believe it to be true?

The final test of any belief or faith that claims to provide an answer to our lives is this.  Does the one explain the other?  Does it explain the longing in your heart for a life you haven’t yet found?  Does it explain the evil cast around us?  Most of all, does it give you back your heart, lead you to the Source of life?

Something has been calling to you all the days of your life.  You’ve heard it on the wind and in the music you love, in laughter and in tears, and most especially in the stories that have ever captivated your heart.  There is a secret written on your heart.  A valiant Hero-Lover and his Beloved.  An Evil One and a great battle to fight.  A Journey and a Quest, more dangerous and more thrilling than you could imagine.” John Eldredge-Epic

Don’t  forget that in your life your role is the lead and it does matter very much how you play it out.

Don’t Lose Touch with Your Heart…

“All my longings lie open before You, O God, my sighing is not hidden from You!”

Psalm 38:9

“Indeed, if we will listen, a “Sacred Romance” calls to us through our hearts every moment of our lives. It whispers to us on the wind, invites  us through the laughter of good friends,teaches us through the touch of someone we love. We’ve heard it in our favorite music, sensed it at the birth of our first child, been drawn to it while watching the shimmer of the sunset on the ocean. “The Romance” is even present during times of great personal suffering, the illness of a child, the loss of a marriage,the death of a friend. Something calls to us through experiences like these & rouses and inconsolable longing deep within our heart, waking in us a yearning for intimacy, beauty & adventure.

This longing is the most powerful part of any human personality.  It fuels our search for meaning, for wholeness, for a sense of being truly alive. However we may describe this deep desire, it is the most important thing about us, our heart of hearts, the passion of our life. And the voice that calls to us in this place is none other than the voice of God.

We cannot hear this voice if we have lost touch with our hearts.”

From The Sacred Romance– by John Eldredge

One thing I know from experience: His Love and care and abundant desire to woo our hearts and souls and spirits back into His loving care is eternal. The only thing that stops it is our own loss of communion with our hearts- His voice is there, whatever our need, whenever our need, no matter how profound or simple. His richness, genuine care for us and overwhelming love is available.  But we have to stop and listen and breathe Him in…

Feeling Invisible?


To All of you young mothers out there I have a little quote to lift your eyes from the dishwasher loading and the laundry folding & the face & bottom  wiping  to loftier heights!

My gorgeous daughter, Carmel, loaned me a book a few years back, called  The Invisible  Woman by Nicole Johnson, which I highly recommend.

Nicole (also on Youtube, type Invisible Woman and you can hear her speak,) brings you through a journey that all moms go on but elevates it to wonder and greatness.

I’ll share the closing prayer here:

“Almighty God, who sees every sparrow, continue to teach me life’s great lessons from the world’s great cathedrals.  Make me more invisible. Strengthen my heart to do the things that no one sees or appreciates, and to do them as unto You.  Help me make personal sacrifices with no trumpet & no credit to myself.

Let me be more invisible to You, so that real love may be more clearly visible.

Let me allow humility to cloak my love at every opportunity.  And if history never knows my name, may I have helped it know Yours a little better.  Allow me to b e invisible, that the world might see you- the living God who sees and loves all invisible women. “

Nicole Johnson

Broken Dreams?

What is a broken dream, anyway, but an idea of a path, or somewhere we thought our life should go that led somewhere else?  We made a  turn, somewhere,  where it seemed to fall apart, or we lost  our way,  and missed it somehow.

Then, usually;  flawed human beings that we are, we think we failed,   begin to blame ourselves or others and carry a weight of failure or disappointment around  for sometimes years.  If we blame others, that can be a heavy weight to carry. Until we can release that burden and forgive, it has the power to taint and mar the joy of our life so much that life itself becomes a sad & weary experience to simply attempt  to survive.

The way we tend to judge things to be either successful or a failure is often such a keyhole sized view, also, that we look and see a tiny glimpse and confirm to ourselves, once again, a sad, sad acceptance of our failure.  But if we could only see our lives from a bigger, more complete perspective, the other elements and colors and highlights could come into view, making it the marvelous masterpiece that it really can be and probably is.

Lets look at it this way.  Say there is a gorgeous painting leaning on the floor of an apartment, painted  by a great master.  It contains, of course, varied contrasts of image, colors, shapes and elements when you look at it in its entirety.  But, if you are looking through a keyhole, you may only be able to see a small glimpse of the darkest, most shadowed section.  You think, “ what a dark & depressing painting .  Why didn’t our artist use brighter colors or grace the canvas with light?” And this is so often the perspective of our own lives. We focus on the dark spots, losses, & perceived failures, all the while missing the beautiful and colorful, joyful & light-filled moments.  Maybe it’s our lack of financial success, or a lost love or broken marriage, missed opportunity, career disapointment, or just a dimly lit view of our  goals and dreams slowly being swept away by the practical demands to survive.

It all can change!  Did you ever hear that “God can mend a broken heart, if you can give him all the pieces?”

If we try to figure out God and His plan for our lives, and fit things into our very limited perspective, we will only be disappointed in ourselves and Him, when it doesn’t  come true the way we dreamed.

I read recently that we cannot disappoint God.  And it’s true,  we can’t.  Not because we shouldn’t, but because He already knows that we can’t be perfect and He is right here in the middle of our failures, set- backs and yes, even sins, and loves us intensely with more care and compassion than we can begin to comprehend.

All He wants is our heart and our acknowledgement that we need Him in our lives. Why do we try to do it alone, when He is begging us to let Him heal our deepest hurts and wounds,  and help us to find joy again and love again?  He simply and lovingly waits for us to come to the end of ourselves and our futile attempts to fix things so that He can then pick up the pieces of our broken dreams  & make them so much more than we were able to dream up on our own.

He, who is only Love, has a dream for our lives. He, who has only our best interests in heart and mind, stands waiting with a paintbrush ready to paint a dream of a life, full of bursts of light & color and depth and texture.  And this is the dream that will not break if we will let Him.

So Close

“Our Lord means so much to us because He is intimately acquainted with all our ways. Not one of us is hidden from His sight.  All things are open and laid bare before Him: our darkest secret, our deepest shame…even our vain attempts to cover the ugly with snow-white beauty.

He comes up so close.  He sees it all.  He knows our frame. He remembers we are dust.  Best of all,  He loves us still.”

Charles Swindoll

Daniel’s Gloves

My mom sent me this story and it really touched my heart.  She didn’t know who had written it, so I can’t give credit, but it really moved me!

I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town-square. The food and the company were both especially good that day.As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There,  walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read,  ‘I will work for food.’ My heart sank.I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief.

We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that
seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car.

Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: ‘Don’t go back to the office until you’ve at least driven once more around the square.’

Then with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square’s third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the store front church, going through his sack.

I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town’s newest visitor.

‘Looking for the pastor?’ I asked.

‘Not really,’ he replied, ‘just resting.’

‘Have you eaten today?’

‘Oh, I ate something early this morning.’

‘Would you like to have lunch with me?’

‘Do you have some work I could do for you?’

‘No work,’ I replied. ‘I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch.’

‘Sure,’ he replied with a smile.

As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions. ‘Where you headed?’

‘St.. Louis’

‘Where you from?’

‘Oh, all over; mostly Florida.’

‘How long you been walking?’

‘Fourteen years,’ came the reply.

I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, ‘Jesus is The Never Ending Story.’

Then Daniel’s story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He’d made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences…

Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought.

He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God.

‘Nothing’s been the same since,’ he said, ‘I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now.’

‘Ever think of stopping?’ I asked.

‘Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me, but God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That’s what’s in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads.’

I sat, amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: ‘What’s it like?’


‘To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?’

‘Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments.  Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn’t make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people’s concepts of other folks like me.’

My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned to me and said, ‘Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I’ve prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in.’

I felt as if we were on holy ground. ‘Could you use another Bible?’  I asked.

He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite. ‘I’ve read through it 14 times,’ he said.

‘I’m not sure we’ve got one of those, but let’s stop by our church and see.’ I was able to find my new  friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful.

‘Where are you headed from here?’ I asked.

‘Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon.’

‘Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?’

‘No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that’s where I’m going next.’

He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town-square where we’d met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things.

‘Would you sign my autograph book?’ he asked. ‘I like to keep messages from folks I meet.’

I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah. ‘I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord,  ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you; Plans to give you a future and a hope.’

‘Thanks, man,’ he said. ‘I know we just met and we’re really just strangers, but I love you.’

‘I know,’ I said, ‘I love you, too.’ ‘The Lord is good!’

‘Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?’ I asked.

‘A long time,’ he replied.

And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed. He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, ‘See you in the New Jerusalem.’

‘I’ll be there!’ was my reply.

He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, ‘When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?’

‘You bet,’ I shouted back. ‘God bless.’

‘God bless.’ And that was the last I saw of him.

Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car.  As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them…. a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them.

Then I remembered his words: ‘If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?’

Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office. They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry. ‘See you in the New Jerusalem,’ he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will…

‘I shall pass this way but once.. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.’