Saturday, January 29, 2011


"A word aptly spoken is like
apples of gold in settings of silver."
Proverbs 25:11

In their pre-school years, our cherubs both added memorable words to our family's vocabulary.  Each of them had a few words they couldn't quite pronounce that came out adorably close to the real word.  Gabrielle had a few we use frequently.  She called a carousel a "casserole" and a sandwich a "sam-a-lich".  So cute.

Well, the other day, at the ripe old age of eight, she spontaneously came up with another word we are adding to our family vocabulary.  I was doing dishes at the kitchen sink as I heard her bouncing down the stairs from her bedroom rushing to talk to me.

"Mommy, I have to tell you something.  And please don't, don't...", waving her hands in the air and hesitating for a moment searching for just the right word...
"don't SCOO-KA-MA-BOB-A, Mommy!"

Laughing aloud at the cuteness of the word, I asked, "Scoo-ka-ma-bob-a?  What does that mean?"  "It means freak out.  Please don't freak out, Mommy."  Ouch. 

The cuteness and conviction in that moment was bittersweet.  Pleasantness and painfulness in my heart were wrapped up in two small sentences spoken by my daughter.  I was pleased and delighted that she bounced the down stairs and rushed to me with her concerns.  I was tickled by her wit and words. 

But my heart was pricked, necessarily, by the convicting truth she had innocently spoken.  Sometimes I scoo-ka-ma-bob-a.  Oh, Lord,  how I don't want to scoo-ka-ma-bob-a!  I want to honor God and represent Him well to my family.  I want to yield to His Holy Spirit's work in and through me, especially during moments that bait me to freak out.  And when I let my flesh get the better of me and I do scoo-ka-ma-bob-a anyway, I always want to go back to the kids, tell them I didn't represent Christ's love in that moment and ask them for forgiveness.

Neither she nor I remember, only a few days later, what had happened that she thought I might scoo-ka-ma-bob-a when she told me.  Perhaps a bottle of nail polish spilled on her carpet or an earring fell in the toilet water.  We don't remember.  And it doesn't matter.  The lesson I learned will reverberate in my heart for my life time. 

Our cherubs are such beautiful sanctification tools in our lives.  God lovingly and graciously uses them to make us holy.  And if I am not being made holy through His truth, they will not see the Lord in me.  With humility, thankfulness and a desperately teachable heart, I want to learn what God wants to teach me through them.  One lesson this week:  "Don't scoo-ka-ma-bob-a, Mommy." 

So, we add this word aptly spoken to our family vocabulary.  It is like an apple of gold in my heart.  And when we use it, my heart will smile for both the love and lesson swaddled within.  

"...without holiness no one will see the Lord."
Hebrews 12:14 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Right In Front of Jesus

"Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus."   
Luke 5:18-19

Our pastor taught from Luke 5:17-26 yesterday.  God's Word stirred my heart on so many levels through this familiar passage brought to me in a fresh way yesterday.  His Word is alive and is moving me.

In Luke 5, friends of the paralyzed man were carrying him to Jesus on his mat.  When they could not get in the door of the house where Jesus was teaching due to the crowds, these determined men, without hesitation, went up on the roof, cut a hole in the roof and lowered the man down until he was "right in front of Jesus" (v. 19). 

I am so thankful to have precious friends who carry me to Jesus.  They point me to Him, whether by a bold or quiet example of Christ lived out in their lives, by praying for me or by literally giving me His written Word at the right moment.  When I am discouraged and struggling, "paralyzed" so to speak, they come alongside me, carry me and put me right in front of Jesus.

As I listened to my pastor teach, tears welled up in my eyes.  "I'm going to the roof," I thought.  I began praying for "paralyzed" friends.  A friend whose cancer has returned and has spread to her lungs and her liver.  A friend who is in perhaps her darkest hour.  Friends whose children are seriously ill.  A friend who is traveling to another state this week for medical testing and treatment.  Friends whose parents are gravely ill.  A friend who has been held captive by depression.  A friend whose heart is breaking.

Precious friends.  Paralyzed friends.  

Carrying and putting them right in front of Jesus, our Healer, our Redeemer, our Shepherd.   Climbing to the roof in prayer.  Cutting a hole in that roof with God's sword, His Word.  Exercising faith muscles to lower them down and place them right in front of Jesus.  "...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith."  Hebrews 12:2 

Jesus, our Great Physician, please touch and heal these lives and bodies.  Drench them in Your grace and mercy, allow them to pick up their mats and go forth praising You.  Be glorified in and through lives by the remarkable things You do today.  Touch, heal, restore, make whole.  We love you.  Amen.   

"Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, 'We have seen remarkable things today.'”
Luke 5:26

Friday, January 21, 2011

My 2011 Annual Verse

"I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out Your precepts."
Psalm 119:45 (NIV)

So many sweet visitors have stopped by here this month from my article titled "An Annual Verse To Shape My Heart" featured at P31 Everyday Life.  Most of you have been quiet visitors.  I warmly welcome you all (whether outgoing or quiet) with a humble, contented heart.  Thank you sincerely for stopping by!  I don't take it lightly that you would take time to visit. 

I've been seeking the Lord for my 2011 verse...the one He wants to use throughout this year to do a specific work to mold and reshape my heart.  As I daily read His Word, I've been excited for a verse to pop off the page for this divine purpose.  I do believe I am honing in on the scripture(s). 

"...offer yourselves as slaves to
righteousness leading to holiness." 
Romans 6:19

He keeps bringing me back to the theme of "righteousness leading to holiness" (Romans 6:19).  1 Corinthians 1:30 says "It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption."  He is our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  And throughout scripture I am moved by how righteousness, holiness, peace and joy are continually linked together.  

My verse for 2010 was:  "If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with You." Exodus 33:13   How I want Him to continually teach me His ways so I may know Him and find favor with Him.  I've prayed my 2011 verse would be a continuation of that. 

A few weeks ago I read this passage and it halted my heart.

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification."  Romans 14:17-19 

And then I read this:

"Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."  Hebrews 12:14
Oh, a holy hush filled my dining room that morning.  "Without holiness no one will see the Lord."  Wow. 

Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Serving Christ.  Doing what leads to peace and mutual edification.  Holiness.  These are biggies!  And they are only attainable through Christ.   

I know the rotten, sinful areas of my heart that need to be cleansed.  Big gulp.  Yet, with complete trust in the One who is perfect in faithfulness (Isaiah 25:1), I willingly and gratefully put my heart of clay into the hands of the Perfect Potter who will, with grace and love, reshape and mold my heart according to His Word.  And He promises us in these scriptures that He will be pleased, we will have approval, and others will see the Lord!  How comforting and humbling to know all of this can only be accomplished in and through Him.

I do treasure His Word.  I desperately require His precepts.  And I count on His Word to shape my heart. 

"And I will walk at liberty and at ease, for I have sought and inquired for [and desperately required] Your precepts."
Psalm 119:45 (AMP)

If you have an annual verse, please share it!  I love to hear what God is doing in other's lives.  Spur us on!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Boomerang Bag

"The Lord Jesus Himself said:
'It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Acts 20:35

For several years, my older brother, Paul, and I have exchanged gifts in the same gift bag over and over.  My brother wasn't much of a hugger, so when I saw this gift bag years ago in a store, I purchased it to give to him so he'd just have to give me a hug.  The gift bag says:  "Here's your gift.  Where's my hug?"

Christmas Day 2010
At my mom's house Skyping with my brother, Paul, and his family during our Sibling Christmas Pollyanna Exchange
(Paul and his wife, Ronni, live in Texas.)

Paul has since become a great hugger and hugs me whenever he sees me...not just when he receives the gift bag!  The bag is lovingly worn from all the back and forth giving over the years.  Now that Paul lives in Texas, the bag travels a few times a year via the USPS.  This bag has been around.  It's funny how the love and memories wrapped up in a simple gift bag means so much to me.
A few months ago, my fun friend, Erika (pictured here), gave me a cute gift bag and announced:  "This is our Boomerang Bag!"  "What is a Boomerang Bag?", I asked her.  Erika enthusiastically explained that it is a gift bag that you give back and forth to each other with little gifts whenever inspired to do so.  Wow!  I LOVE that and the name "Boomerang Bag"!

Boomerang Bag from Erika
Erika had filled the Boomerang Bag with pretty purple tulip cupcake liners and purple sugar sprinkles.  (Purple is my favorite color.)  She saw these items at a store and sweetly thought of me.  I was so touched!  (In addition to the Boomerang Bag gifts, she had made me a tray of cupcakes with purple icing and purple sprinkles and presented them in a baking dish with a lid that was part of the gift!!  Isn't she creative!?!?)  Now, when we see something that "is so you", we give it to each other in the Boomerang Bag.  Weeks or even a few months may pass without the bag being returned, but we excitedly wait for just the right thing for each other before we wrap it up in the Boomerang Bag and shoot it back.     

I love Erika's idea and the love, thoughtfulness, encouragement and friendship that the Boomerang Bag represents.

I had been practicing the Boomerang Bag concept with my brother for years and now could give it a name.  I am also inspired to start the Boomerang Bag tradition with others I love when I see something that is "so them".  

So many times, other's thoughtfulness and kindness towards us is God's sweet hand of love and encouragement on our hearts at that moment.  Boomerang Bags spread love over and over and over.  And as the love is returned to us, encouragement and thankfulness fill our hearts and we are refreshed.

Go ahead...give a Boomerang Bag to someone you love! The love returns...over and over and over.

"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed."
Proverbs 11:25

"Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people."
Philemon 1:7