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“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19

Monday, July 19, 2010


“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, . . . to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3

Several months ago a friend of mine sent me a devotional book entitled, JESUS CALLING. What makes this book different from other devotionals is that it’s written from Jesus’ point of view. It reads like Jesus Himself is speaking to you in quiet, personal, intimate conversation between friends. Opening this book every morning is like sitting down across from my Best Friend and listening to Him tell me those things He wants me to know.

I know . . . the Bible tells us everything He wants us to know, and please understand, I’m not discounting God’s word in any way. Sometimes, however, when I read a blog or an article or a devotional or even the words to a hymn written with God’s word as its basis or theme, it speaks to me from a different angle, a different point of view. Using scriptures I’ve read a hundred times before, this devotional book shapes them in such a way, my heart “hears” them with fresh ears.

Thus it was on July 3. It just so happened that it was my birthday, and when I went into my office and pulled out my Bible and devotional book, I asked God to give me something I really needed. The entry for July 3 grabbed my heart and shook me. For years I’ve struggled with the issue of forgiveness—not forgiving others--forgiving myself. The old adage that says we can’t turn the clock or the calendar back and do things over has been a millstone around my neck. Life doesn’t give us do-overs, and I nurtured a guilt that I intended to carry for the rest of my life. I knew God forgave me, but that’s because He’s God and in His omnipotent love—a love we can’t wrap our mind around—He forgives completely and absolutely. But I’d told myself I'm human, and in that humanness, I can’t forgive that way. So I took on a burden God never intended for me to carry, and it weighed me down and began affecting other areas of my life as well.

As I read the words of that short devotional on July 3, a new clarity dawned. The entry said that Jesus is the only capable Judge, and He has acquitted me through His blood. I have been acquitted—declared not guilty. And since my acquittal came at the price of Jesus’ sacrifice, who am I to refuse to forgive myself when Jesus has declared me innocent? The scriptures listed in the devotional were ones I’d read a hundred times or more. I’d believed them and used them in talking to others about the Lord. I had claimed His forgiveness for my salvation and praised Him for His demonstration of love. I’ve known His forgiveness for many years. So why did I nail guilt over this one issue to my soul? How could I say I claimed his forgiveness of all my sins . . . except this one?

Most of us who have lived for any length of time have known regrets or wish we’d done something differently. But when I finally understood how offensive my refusal to forgive myself was to Jesus, I was able to let it go. Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Instead of walking through the rest of this life dragging a chain of condemnation, I can now run with a freedom I’ve not allowed myself for several years. Because when Jesus gave His blood as a sacrifice for me, it was all-inclusive, and I’m forgiven.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


“So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” I Thessalonians 2:8

For the past two months, I’ve been fretting about my lack of time and opportunity to post a blog. I was afraid those folks who told me they read and enjoyed my blog might think I’d abandoned them. But not so.

Since April, I’ve been occupied with creating dude ranch decorations for our church’s Vacation Bible School. While designing a herd of comical-looking horses, cardboard fences, and a stage backdrop 24 feet long and 8 feet tall is fun, it does take an enormous amount of time. In addition, I attended the BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE in May, followed by a writers retreat in Hutchinson, Kansas with my awesome critique partners. I arrived home on June 7, put up the VBS stage set on June 8th, and wrapped up a few loose ends. I took a day to do laundry and re-pack my suitcase in preparation to leave two days later for Pennsylvania where I spent two glorious weeks with my sister and her family.

When I finally arrived home last week, exhausted but contented, I reflected on that contentment and why reconnecting with dear friends and family is so satisfying. Our relationships are one of the gifts God gives us. As a writer, I’ve had the privilege of making friends with other writers all over the country, many of whom I only see once a year. Email keeps us connected in between times, but it’s not the same as a real, live, in-person hug. Spending time brainstorming, working, laughing, and a little goofing off with my incredible critique partners is such a joy (although this year we were saddened because we were incomplete—missed you, Eileen).

God gifts us with special friendships—those people with whom we can be completely transparent and not have to worry about condemnation or rejection. Just when I realize that God has blessed me way more abundantly than I deserve, He adds something extra—a sweet touch of grace. We get to worship together. That connection we have with those dear friends whom we rarely get to see is enhanced by the gathering together and connecting with God in a spirit of praise.

The family visit was even sweeter. My niece decided to plan a birthday surprise for her mother—my sister, Pam, and I enthusiastically went along with her plan. What fun to spend time watching my great-niece and great-nephew win their championships with their softball and baseball teams, and sit around the table with family members that live way too many miles away. Then my sister and I drove across the state, back to her home where more delightful times with more family members awaited. My two nephews are the handsomest guys, and their wives and kids are such fun. I’m sure my nephews grew tired of this old lady hugging them every time they turned around, but hugging those guys feels just like hugging my son. Did I mention they’re handsome?

There were several dozen times during the hugging, laughing, and “reunion-izing” that I felt a wee bit guilty about neglecting my blog (especially after the marketing classes I took at the writer’s conference in May!). But I believe God gives us connections for specific reasons. I’m not talking about the connections one makes marketing or promoting their work. That’s called networking, and it has nothing to do with the nurturing of friendships or cherishing of family members. As children of God, we have a responsibility to make sure those people who are the most important in our lives are assured of that special place they hold in our hearts. God gave me the opportunity to reconnect with great-nieces and great-nephews, all of whom are growing up way too fast, a dear niece who reminds me of my mother, and two nephews (did I mention they’re handsome?) who remind me of my son. And my sister… oh my goodness, the time we spent laughing and hugging. Who needs a therapist when you have sisters?

Let me mention here that this is only one half of the family. The other half lives in Florida, and I intend to spend time “reunion-izing” and catching up with my Florida sister, Chris, and her family just as soon as God works out the details. The most awesome thing about these connections? God is in the midst. Pick the phone or jump in the car today, and go tell someone how important they are to you.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.