Coffee Connection

I had coffee with a dear friend on Saturday. Her name is Corinna and we haven’t seen each other in several months. Like all good friendships, I am amazed at how we just seem to pick up where we left off – even though we haven’t really talked or been in touch for months. Our ability to stay in that "good friend" mode no matter how long it has been is a great blessing in my life.

It was fun catching up over our favorite overpriced coffee drinks and sharing what's been going on in each other's lives. During our coffee connection, we exchanged stories about dark valleys and caught up on mountain top victories as well. But here’s the rest of the story - coffee is just an excuse to get together. The connection in our friendship is Christ.

Having a close friend is a sacred privilege. I am grateful for someone to pray for who also prays for me. I value having someone to laugh with and cry with – someone who cares when I’m hurting and celebrates with me when I’m rejoicing. I know she feels the same way. Everything that God is doing in both of our lives is better with a friend.

It’s just like God to find a way to make something great (life) even better. He connects us to others in friendship and uses us to strengthen and encourage one another.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. ~ Proverbs 27:17

Attitude of Gratitude

Always be joyful. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

For years I struggled to understand these verses. How could God expect us to be thankful for everything (all circumstances) in our lives? Being thankful for the good things in my life made perfect sense – but being thankful for the bad things? No way!

I could never imagine saying, “Thank you, God that I am sick today” or “Thank you that my car broke down on the freeway.” On a more profound note, I have never been thankful that my oldest son was killed in a car accident when he was eighteen.

Then I took a closer look. God didn’t say to give thanks “for” all circumstances. He asked us to be thankful “in” all circumstances. I think this passage is encouraging us to find the joy of living in the midst of life’s pain and disappointments. God wants us to keep on trusting him and praying in spite of the difficulties and disillusionment we often face. We must thank him for taking us through the darkness while we are still going through it.

Look for the silver lining. Find and believe in the blessings that are hidden in even the most difficult circumstances. God didn’t promise that life would be easy. He never said we wouldn’t experience bad things, hard times, or devastating circumstances. But he did say he would be with us and never forsake us and for that we can be thankful.

If I can believe that God loves me enough to send his only son to pay the death penalty for my sin, surely I can have faith that he has my best interest in mind no matter what circumstances I am experiencing. If nothing else, I can be thankful that one day my trials will end and I will spend eternity with the God who loves me more than I know or understand.

So join me in a renewed commitment to develop an attitude of gratitude and be thankful – today and everyday.

The Present

I have a long time friend named Linda. She started out as my secret pal (see blog post dated 11/24/09) and ended up as one of my best friends. How did that happen? Glad you asked.

Fun and laughter were always a big part of our friendship. I was drawn to her warmth and friendliness. She taught me how to make covered photo albums and invited me to tea parties when her girls were young. She gave me a surprise baby shower when I was pregnant with my daughter.

Linda cried with me when the doctor told me I had cancer - when he advised me to have an abortion or face a swift and certain death due to the rapidly spreading malignancy. She stood beside me when I decided to disregard the doctor’s advice and rejoiced with me when my healthy baby daughter was born. She cared for my daughter six weeks later when I had surgery to remove the cancer that had not spread as predicted.

After my surgery, I was in the hospital missing my newborn baby daughter when Linda came to visit. She entered my room, walked up to the bed, and leaned down to whisper in my ear, “Don’t tell anybody, but I brought you a present.” Then she reached into her exceptionally large purse and handed me a small bundle of joy all wrapped in a fuzzy pink blanket. Linda spent the next twenty minutes “standing guard” at the door while I held my precious baby daughter in my arms and thanked God for my wonderful friend.

Life is sometimes good, sometimes not so good, and occasionally downright awful. But God is faithful. He sees us through every situation and sometimes puts special people like Linda in our lives to remind us how much He loves and cares for us.

Do you have a Linda in your life? I hope so.

Secret Pal

It’s amazing how God is interested in every detail of our lives. He pays attention because he loves us – and he often uses people in this process. Over the years, God put people in my life who showed me how to walk with God and helped me grow in my faith.

One of these people is a dear friend named Linda. I first met Linda when I was a new mother and a young Christian. A group of spiritually mature women in our church decided to take an interest in some of us who were younger in our faith and the Secret Pal program that would forever change my life was born.

From October 4th through December 18th of that year, I received a series of notes and small gifts from my “secret pal” that were thoughtful, encouraging, inspiring, sometimes funny, and often intriguing. I wondered who my Secret Pal could be. As Christmas drew near, the time arrived for the “unveiling” ceremony and I looked forward to finally meeting my Secret Pal.

I remember it well. A tall, pretty woman with brown hair and a twinkle in her eyes walked up to me with yet another small gift and said, “Hi, my name is Linda and I’m your secret pal.” Linda’s beautiful smile, loving spirit, and generous nature won me over in an instant.

In the months and years that followed, Linda became one of my best friends and the greatest mentor a young woman could imagine. God used her love, patience, and kindness to help me grow as a Christian, a woman, a wife, mother, and friend. Linda’s influence helped me become the woman I am today. Her example of “lived out” faith and her life of obedience to God’s word taught me what it means to be a woman of God and a child of the King.

And the things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, teach these truths to trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. ~ 2 Timothy 2:2

The Unlocked Door

I have a life long friend named Sheryl. When she was fourteen, she lived in a small town in Oregon with her parents, younger sister, and two brothers. They lived in a small home in the country that sat right next to a busy state highway.

One warm summer day Sheryl was walking up the highway to visit a friend. She noticed a car coming and stepped to the side of the road. Two men in their early thirties pulled up beside her to ask if they were on the right road to get to the Oregon coast.

Sheryl was a bit nervous but in those days it was not uncommon for people to stop and ask for directions. When she told them they were on the right road, they asked if she would like to go to the beach with them. She stepped away from the car as a silent alarm went off in her head. The man in the passenger seat opened his door to get out of the car.

She noticed she was across the street from the Johnson house where she babysat from time to time. She pointed to the house and said to the men in the car, “I live right there and I think you better leave me alone.” The two men didn’t seem to believe her.

She looked both ways and darted across the street as the men watched. She walked confidently up to the front door, praying to God that the door would be unlocked – in spite of the fact that the family who lived there always stressed the importance of keeping “the front door that faced the highway” locked because of its proximity to the street. They reminded her to keep the front door locked every time she babysat for them.

Sheryl knew the men were watching and feared they would come after her if the door was locked. She continued her self-assured stride as she prayed and walked up to the door as if she lived there. She turned the knob. The door was unlocked. She opened it, stepped into the house, and closed the door behind her. Safely inside, with her back pressed to the door, Sheryl began to cry.

Having heard the front door open and close, Mrs. Johnson turned and ran back down the hall. She was surprised to see her babysitter in the house. With tears streaming down her face, Sheryl explained what had happened and why she had come into the house without knocking.

As they stepped to the window and watched two men in a car disappear from sight, Mrs. Johnson told Sheryl the strangest thing. Just ten seconds before Sheryl entered the house, Mrs. Johnson had locked the front door – just to be sure. She was still walking down the hallway when Sheryl let herself in.

Grumpy Old Man

In 1979 I was a young mother with two small children. We lived in an apartment complex that was filled with other young couples like us with one exception - the elderly couple who lived across the courtyard.

They were in their mid-seventies and very much out of place – like an ancient island floating isolated in a vast sea of strollers and tricycles. The lady was kind and friendly for the most part but her husband was a cranky, mean-spirited, grumpy old man.

He was always barking at the kids to be quiet when they were outside playing. He would hide their toys and then lie when parents confronted him. Before too long, I found myself going out of my way to avoid him. I told my children to follow my example.

I felt a twinge of guilt whenever I avoided him. When I told my children to do the same, it was worse. Even as a young Christian, I knew that being kind and compassionate was a good thing. Deep inside, I wanted to show my children how to love unlovable people. But I couldn’t do it.

It was easy to be kind and loving to his wife. She was so sweet. I had no clue how she could tolerate his behavior day in and day out. The entire complex could often hear him shouting abusive comments at her. Yet she was still so kind and sweet to others. I often felt sad for her and wondered how she could love him.

Then one morning we heard sirens. The ambulance pulled into the parking lot and the paramedics hurried into the elderly couple’s apartment. The grumpy old man had suffered a heart attack and died later that day.

I felt horrible for not even trying to befriend this man. His wife once told me that her husband didn’t believe in God. She said she prayed everyday that God would use someone or something to get through to him. I remembered the many times I felt compelled to say hello or show kindness and how I never did it – not even once. I felt guilty and remorseful for my actions, but he was gone.

I wrote the date of the grumpy old man’s death in my Bible and asked God to forgive me. Whenever I saw the date, I prayed for opportunities to love unlovable people in thought, word and deed.

Looking back, the grumpy old man’s death was a turning point for me – a new beginning in my faith journey. Since then God answered my prayers for opportunities to love people again and again. I now know that my kind words, loving behavior, or simple act of compassion may be the only Bible some people ever read. I don’t want to blow the last chance someone I know or meet may ever have to know the love of Christ.

When they hear the good news of Jesus and his loving sacrifice on the cross for them, I want them to remember what it feels like to be loved. I want people to see God’s love in me before they hear it from me.


Before I knew God personally, I experienced what I thought was an amazing coincidence. I’ve since learned that the word coincidence is not in God’s vocabulary.

As a young adult with twenty years of life experience under my belt, I had a spur-of-the-moment idea. I decided to surprise my boyfriend, who lived 340 miles away in Elgin, OR at the time, with an unexpected visit.

After work, I caught the last bus out of town and, 300 miles later, arrived in LaGrande, OR. It was midnight. I walked a couple of blocks to a local pizza parlor where I could wait while my boyfriend made the 37-mile trip from Elgin to pick me up. I was anticipating his excitement as I dialed. Just one problem – he didn’t answer.

It was time for a quick assessment of the situation - 20 year-old female in a pizza joint 300 miles from home in the middle of the night without a plan. What to do? Ah, the impulsiveness of youth!

After asking the tiny after-midnight pizza parlor crowd if anyone was going to Elgin, I decided to walk three miles to a restaurant I knew where I hoped to catch a late night ride to Elgin. It would definitely be faster to walk under the freeway overpass. It was just a hundred feet away and would save at least twenty minutes of walking alone at night.

But the pitch black darkness of the underpass frightened me. I decided to back track four blocks, cross over the railroad tracks, cut through an abandoned property, and walk by a few homes and empty buildings to get to the restaurant instead. This route wasn’t well lit either, but at least it didn’t involve a pitch black tunnel with who knows what lurking in the darkness.

It was after 1:00 AM as I started my three mile trek. My brisk pace matched my intense desire to safely reach my destination. As I pictured the desolate emptiness and quietness of crossing the abandoned property, I was overcome with fear. I came to a complete stop and was wondering if the pizza parlor would still be opened if I turned around and went back.

Suddenly, I heard a car coming towards me. My fear increased to sheer terror but I needed help. I turned around and waved my hands, signaling for help. The risk of flagging down a stranger was much less than the fear of being alone in this “middle of nowhere” darkness.

As the car slowed and then stopped, I realized it was my boyfriend’s car. He didn’t recognize me until I opened the passenger door to get in the car. You should’ve seen the look on his face. Neither of us could believe it.

On the way to Elgin, I learned that he had to work late that night and that he always used the underpass when returning home at the end of his shift. But that night something told him to take the longer way across the railroad tracks.

We later learned that another woman walking in that same area was raped and murdered that night. What if my boyfriend hadn’t listened to that still small voice telling him to take the longer way home? Could that have been me? I don’t know - maybe. Even when I was living far from God, he had his hand of protection over me. I don’t believe in coincidence. Do you?


I had a meltdown yesterday. It came after a phone call from a dear friend. She is kind and loving and would never say anything knowingly hurtful. The problem is that she just doesn’t “get it” when it comes to my life. She can’t understand the level of our commitment to follow hard after God - even when the going gets tough.

She’s not alone. Many of our family and friends have a hard time understanding our willingness to sacrifice so much (financially and otherwise) for what we believe is God’s calling on our life. If we were missionaries in a foreign land, maybe they would “get it” – but we’re not. We’re right here in America watching our comfortable, upper-middle class, suburban lifestyle disappear by choice, all the while convinced that we are right in the center of God’s will for us.

I hung up the phone feeling angry, depressed, ashamed, embarrassed, and hurt that yet another person I care about thinks my husband and I have gone off the deep end in the name of following God. I think I was also frustrated by our current inability to keep up with the Joneses (even though we are the Joneses) after so many years of being comfortable.

I marched down the hall and unloaded a lethal dose of “meltdown madness” on my unsuspecting husband. I launched into a full-blown tirade about how I was sick and tired of living this way and having people think we were lazy, crazy or delusional. I ranted and raved about having to depend on God’s provision for even the most basic necessities of life; food, gas, medicine, income, and a place to live. (Feel free to insert your own twenty-minutes of faithless, self-centered grumbling, moaning, and complaining at this point). You get the idea.

As the gale force winds of my tirade began to subside, my husband calmly asked, “Do you really believe we’ve got it wrong and aren’t where God wants us to be? Is a season of financial struggle too high a price for our God-given dream of a kingdom business that can touch and impact millions of lives? Has God’s ability to provide everything we need suddenly disappeared? Do you want me to give up on our dream and get a job selling my time to someone else to build their dream?”

My husband knew that I knew the answers. I just needed a reminder. “Well I didn’t think it would last this long or be this difficult,” I said. He agreed and mentioned the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness for forty years before they were ready to enter the Promised Land.

I smiled when it hit me. We have been wandering in our own wilderness – a long and sometimes confusing journey that has cost much financially and materially. But we have gained so much more.

I decided stop dwelling on what we’ve been asked to give up - the financial abundance, material possessions and extra physical comforts we no longer have. I chose to focus instead on our many “wilderness” blessings of late - deeper faith in God, more trust in his provision, new adventures in life, renewed excitement about each day, more time with my husband, a better marriage, an increased sense of meaning, purpose and fulfillment - so many things that money can’t buy.

Suddenly, my perspective changed. I was grateful. Meltdown over.

Angel in Red Capris

Do you believe in angels?

I’m not talking about elegant, feminine creatures with beautiful wings or porcelain figurines you find in a gift shop. I’m talking about real angels - the kind that look like you and me.

When I was nine, my mother took me and my younger brother and sister to my dad’s logging site. After a family picnic lunch, my parents gave us permission to play by a nearby creek where they could keep an eye on us. It didn’t take us long to “wander” upstream and away from the creek. Before we knew it, we were lost. Try as I might, I had no sense of the way back to the creek – and to my parents.

It was then that I noticed a lady in red capris coming toward us. She stopped and motioned us to follow her. I remember shouting that we were lost and asking if she knew the way back to my dad’s logging camp. She nodded, “yes” and motioned again for us to follow her.

Before too long, I heard my mother’s frantic voice screaming our names. When I saw her I smiled and began to run. After the quick hugs and stern lecture, I turned to thank the lady in the red capris for helping us but she was no where to be found.

Years later, when recalling the incident at a family gathering, my mother looked at me in disbelief. I will never forget her words. “Are you crazy? There was no one on that path but you kids,”

“But I know the lady in the red capris was there,” I said. “We followed her back. She was walking right in front of us the whole time.”

God is like that, isn’t he? He walks in front and beside and behind - and sometimes he sends an angel in red capris.

Blessing or Disaster?

Does God always protect his people from disaster? Of course not - but he does use difficult circumstances to build our character, to grow our faith, and/or to point us in a new direction.

Almost three years ago my husband went into business with a Christian man that he had known for over twenty years. After just a few short months of working together, it became obvious that this man was a different person at work than he was in public. He had a bad temper, a controlling spirit, and was basically impossible to work with. After much prayer and soul searching my husband ended the partnership and we basically spent every penny we had saved buying our way out of this partnership gone bad.

But God used this trial to help us make a decision to take a huge step of faith in our financial life. This change would not have happened had we not gone into business with this difficult man. It certainly wasn’t any fun to endure the vindictive threats, painful transition, and financial devastation that resulted from this partnership. But in spite of the enemy’s desire to use this circumstance to destroy us, God used it for good in our lives.

My husband and I are both convinced we would have completely missed the blessing that God had in store (and the opportunity to be a blessing to others) had we not gone through this difficult experience. He used it as a catalyst for a life change that would not otherwise have happened.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28

Hazards in the Dark

Four mornings a week I go to our local aquatic center to work out and swim. Because I am an early riser, I usually try to get there by 5:30 AM when they open.

I am a little nervous about driving in the dark anyway - so I am extra careful when I drive the three short miles to the pool. I have driven the road enough times that I am familiar with the possible hazards I could encounter. I always choose the well-lighted route and am extra careful when driving on darker streets that have rough patches and bumps in the road.

As I was heading to the pool this morning I thought about how God often lights our way and steers us through the dark places. And how he sometimes allows rough patches and bumps in our lives to help us learn what he wants us to know or to help us to grow in our faith.

Have you come to a dark place, a rough patch, or a bump in the road in your life? Remember that our light and our hope is in Christ. Trust him today to take you through it.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

Life's Owies

Ever been mad at God? Ever blame him for something that happened in your life – or something you are going thru right now?

This summer my five year-old grandson was playing near an apple tree on our property when he got stung by a yellow jacket. As I dried his tears and put ointment on his sting, he looked up through tear-filled eyes and stated quite firmly, “Grandma, I am so mad at God right now!” I suppressed an urge to laugh and asked why he was mad at God.

“I’m mad at him because he made bees and I got stung. He should have made them without the stingers,”

“Do you remember what you were doing when you got stung?” I asked.

“Sure. I was hitting a bunch of bees in a hole in the tree with a stick.”

“Well that’s why you got stung,” I told him. “You threatened the bees and they were defending their home.”

He thought about this for a minute then said, “Well I still don’t understand why God made something that hurts so much. They aren’t much good for anything.”

“Do you know where honey comes from?” I asked.

As I explained the honey-making process, his eyes widened and a big smile lit up his face. “Wow Grandma! God really does know what he’s doing even when we get owies.”

From the mouth of babes - what my grandson learned that day was that things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes the owies of life are God’s way of moving us to a better understanding of who he is and what his purpose is for each of us.

New Beginnings

We all have them in some form or another, don't we? A new baby, a wedding, a new job, the first day of school… Each day is a new beginning, another chance, a clean slate. New beginnings are not always good but they can teach us something about life - who we are, where we are going, and who God is.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for evil, plans to give you a future and a hope."

In today’s world, especially in this economy, it is so easy to wonder where God is. Is he real? Does he care about my situation? Where do I go from here? The questions are endless but the truth is that God is right where he has always been, right here in the midst of our life with all of its joys and disappointments, happiness and sorrows, pleasure and pain, struggles and uncertainties. His loving arms are stretched out to all who will take his hand and trust him to love and guide us on the path he has set before us. He is there to walk with us every step of the way.