With Our Eyes Looking Up

New Will Come

While enjoying a walk with a friend on a cool, windy afternoon, I stopped to take a picture of dried out leaf petals hanging from thin stems of a tree. He asked me, “Why did you take a photo of that? What is it that you like about bare trees with old brown leaves?”

I think old brown leaves are beautiful. Every tree is a piece of art, wearing delicate leaves like jewelry. I like the frailty of the leaf petals that would crush easily in my hand, yet there is strength in each one with hanging on to the stem, even the brisk wind has not set it free. Look at each petal and see the life that lingers. I like the shimmer of sunlight through each petal. I love the different shades of brown and tan against a glorious bright blue sky. And I had to be looking up to see it, instead of looking down at the path we are walking on. When I notice the old dry and dying things, it makes me more aware that new will come. Don’t you see?

The wind was cold. My nose began to drip. He smiled and said, “I see.” We pulled our jackets tight around our neck and began to walk together with our eyes looking up.

New Will Come 3



The Quiet Moments of Reflection and Stillness

Lake stillness

Hours spent on this deck drift away. Quiet conversations, making plans, sharing hope. Dreaming over-sized dreams. Our laughter bubbles over, slowly stopping with a smile, a wink and a sigh. The water is soothing. Birds are chirping. Geese follows the leader, honking for their young to keep up.

A Blue Heron catches the wind, flying overhead with a stick in its beak, landing on the very top of the highest pine tree, to build a nest.

Is there an Osprey nest close by? The great bird caught a fish in its talons and announced it loud. Searching for the sound, we look up to watch the grandeur.

We soak in the quiet stillness, giving way for the memories to carve a place to settle in deep.

There is a “for sale” sign in the window.

We will crave this moment when it is gone.

Lakelife stillness 2

The Alpha and Omega: A Prayer for Silent Saturday of Easter Week


The Alpha and Omega 1 copy

The Alpha and Omega | A Prayer for Silent Saturday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 40

Today’s Reading:  Revelation 17 – end

It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Revelation 21:6

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”  Matthew 27:62-64

Dear Lord Jesus,

I confess, that in the past, I’ve had a wrong understanding of grace. It’s not that I didn’t believe in grace, because I believed in grace a lot. I just didn’t believe in grace alone. My faith was built on a wrong belief. My faith in you was all about me…how much sacrifice can I make for you rather than the sacrifice you made for me. How much do I love you, rather than how much you love me.

Once again, I am astonished on this Silent Saturday when I remember your sacrifice of giving ultimate goodness and grace on Good Friday. You are the great “I Am”…the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. You are the first and last and there are no other gods but you and in you we live and move and have our being. Grow my faith to be all about you and less and less of me.

The tomb was sealed out of fear that your words are indeed true. The seal was placed by finite men…it was all about them. How foolish when the promise from you, the infinite God is that your seal is upon us by your grace alone. How foolish we are to keep you inside the tomb with unbelief and doubt that your word is true.

Why do we continue to doubt that from the very beginning, before the reality of beginning ever existed that your plan all along was to rescue us, to give us life everlasting? Why do we continue to doubt that you broke free of the tomb to crush the head of the deceiver, rendering him dead once and for all?

The staggering truth is that you are the absolute Alpha and you are the absolute Omega. Our story begins with you and our story will end with you. Help us to continue to be astonished that you rescued us, for the full story of Easter to become a reality that our life is all about you.

In your infinite name, I praise and pray.


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About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent


A Father’s Rescuing Faith

Son Rescued

A Father’s Rescuing Faith | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 34

Today’s Reading:  Hebrews 8 – end

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. By faith … He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. Hebrews 11:1 and 27

It was several years ago that he found himself in a frightening predicament. He was in a serious situation, a crisis without a clear solution. He was racked with anxiety and fear. There was no holding back the tears, his body shaking with hard sobs and his mind straining to find equilibrium. His father was notified and with urgency went to his son, to rescue his son from harms way.

The son was so distraught with hopelessness that he didn’t hear the voice of his father say, “Son, I am here.”  Again the father said, “Son, it’s me…look at me.”

The son continued to cry into the palms of his hands and again his father repeated, “Look at me. Look at me. This is Dad, I’m here.” The son moved his hands from his face and began to look up towards the sound of his father’s voice. “Look at my eyes, son. Don’t take your eyes off mine.” The son fixed his gaze into his father’s eyes and the father asked his son, “Do you trust me?” “Yes”, replied the son. “Have I ever broken a promise I’ve made to you?”, asked the father. “No”, replied the son, with his eyes fixed steadily on his father.

The son’s hope was returned, believing and assured that his father would be with him through the end. Months and years went by and the father never broke his promise to his son, he was there to rescue him time and time again.

This chapter in the son’s story has two wonderful conclusions…the son was rescued twice. Once by his earthly father extending unconditional love and then by his Heavenly Father, extending the gift of grace. Because of receiving all of that, the son is living a better story now, with his eyes fixed on God and his faith growing strong. And what about the father?  From the very beginning, he never took his eyes off God…he was reflecting God’s grace to his son. When the son looked at his father, in way he saw Jesus, a reflection of God’s love for him, the beauty of a father’s rescuing faith.

(This is another redeeming story of God’s grace to our family)

 Faith Quotes to Ponder:

Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.” A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Tim Keller, The Reason for God

The issue of faith is not so much whether we believe in God, but whether we believe the God we believe in.  R.C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture

True faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God’s fidelity to His Promises. Francis Chan, Crazy Love

Son Rescued 2

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

A Solitary Place

A solitary place

A Solitary Place

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 9
Reflections on Luke 1 – 4

At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place… Luke 4: 42

I would find her there, in a secluded place alone. As a girl, I thought she needed this solitary time because she wanted to get away from us kids. But actually she needed this space to get away with God.

My childhood home always had more people living in it than the family that resided there. We had extra cots and air mattresses when there wasn’t enough beds. Our supper table had extra folding chairs squeezed between and I learned to spoon soup into my mouth with my elbows tucked into my side. Mom served us all with joy and grace as our home became a lighthouse of escape for many.

Over time, even the good things will take its toll, clamoring for peace and competing for rest. There’s the danger of pride crowding humbleness, pushing it aside…tempting us to focus on ourselves, thinking we can do it all.  We focus more on the people needing our attention, their voices wanting to be heard and the food cooking on the stove while the sheets need to be washed and the children are asking for help with homework.

All of the good busy things crowd the one best thing.

Now years later, here I am repeating her life in many ways.

I think of my Mom going to a solitary place to unwind her crowded thoughts, to be refreshed and focus her energy off of herself (and others) and instead on to Christ. Taking time to be alone with God was a gift to herself and to her family.

Thank you Mom, your life is a gift that keeps on giving long after you’ve gone.

“Solitude molds self-righteous people into gentle, caring, forgiving persons who are so deeply convinced of their own great sinfulness and so fully aware of God’s even greater mercy that their life itself becomes ministry.” ~Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

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About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. I want to focus on the freedom I have in Christ to overcome strongholds, yet also to gain strength, hope, and peace as I lean into the trials…To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent


Five Minute Friday

Linking up at Five Minute Friday to write five minutes about the word: CROWD

A Really Good Story

A Really Good Story

A Really Good Story

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 6
Reflections on Mark 1 – 5

He did not say anything to them without using a story. Mark 4:34

We want to raise a generation who find their identity in the story of God. Tell them a story they will never forget, a life changing truth that is bigger and better than themselves. Teach them, instruct them…cause them to ponder and question, to want more of a really good story.

Thank you God for making us characters in and carriers of your great story of grace. You are the author, the narrator of this really good story, the hero that rescues us from ourselves.

Look for God in these coming days, to write stories of redemption that will reveal his glory and showcase his grace—leaving you reveling in his goodness and rejoicing in him.

We’ll grow in our lives what we plant with our love” ~Bob Goff

A Good Story

About 40 Gifts of Lent 2014

I love the anticipation of celebrating birthdays with my children and grandchildren and can’t wait to gather again with my family and friends around a brightly lit tree at Christmas. My focus for any event or special occasion is mostly on the gift I will buy and then tape it up with all of the wrapping and trimmings to make it a beautiful presentation to give away. I do enjoy watching them rip into the paper and toss the pretty bow without a care to get to the inside of that package.

It’s so much fun to be on the receiving end of good gifts!

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. I want to focus on the freedom I have in Christ to overcome strongholds, yet also to gain strength, hope, and peace as I lean into the trials…To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent


Searching for Sanctuary

Redeemer Presbyterian Church, PCA (www.redeemindy.org) Indianapolis, IN

While standing in the check-out lane at the grocery store, I watched the young lady who was robotically scanning labels and punching in price codes for fruit and vegetables and with meticulous organization, bagged each item that I was about to purchase …she never turned her eyes away from that task.

To be honest, I wanted her to hurry-it-up and not to be so careful with the bagged lettuce and carrots. It didn’t matter to me if produce was mixed with dairy or if a jar of tomato sauce was placed in a bag with paper napkins.

But I stopped that impatient urge of aggravation to notice her. To appreciate her methodical and calculated process of scanning and bagging food.

So I spoke to her:  “Hey! Thank you so much for organizing this chaos of food and stuff! I guess you have been standing here for a long time already. How’s your day going?”

WOW! Her comments almost brought me to my knees. She looked up at me with clear eyes and a beautiful smile. “Thank You!” was her reply.

She proceeded to tell me about her day as a cashier (I will never take grocery store cashiers for granted again) and she gave me a peek into her family. She is also attending a community college and working for a better life for her children.  Our conversation continued as I shared with her some tidbits about my family and the peace that God has given me through the trials I am facing. I noticed that she slowed down scanning food. She slowed down organizing the bagging procedure.

She felt that I wanted to listen to her…and she wanted to listen to me.

I continued to compliment her, to praise her work ethic and striving to succeed for her family…and I sweetened all of that with nuggets of God’s grace and the peace He gives to them that search for all that.  And while we chatted, the strangers standing in line next to me had their ears opened and eyes watching us, with pleasant expressions on their face.

So you see, we are all searching for sanctuary. A better place to be.

The photo I shared of this post is of a sanctuary, a photo of the interior of a grand and humble church.  Perhaps it’s the image you may think of when you consider where to go for sanctuary.  But sanctuary can be found wherever you are.

I discovered sanctuary while standing in line at the grocery store talking with a stranger about God’s love and grace because God was with me…with both of us.

She is searching for sanctuary. I am searching for sanctuary.

Our deepest and most enduring peace and happiness…a sanctuary–can only be found in God.

To Count It All Joy is a Real Life-Change


I’m so thankful to have coasted through life without a major illness, broken bones or high blood pressure, or anything else. I’m never ill and instead of medications in the medicine cabinet there are vitamin supplements. I love to run and work out at the gym but now all of that has come to a screeching halt. I’ve not been able to pick up a thin brush to watercolor paint, nor able to sit at my desk in front of my computer because of excruciating nerve pain. It has not been easy to deal with this trial.

I understand that no one is exempt from difficulties and trials. The business you work for is downsized and suddenly you find yourself facing the trial of how to provide for your family when you are unemployed. We hope our children are given a pass from hardships, but they are not exempt from a serious illness or being bullied by a cruel kid at school. Every individual and family will have their share of trouble and stormy seasons to plod through.

Trials should be expected. But you don’t know where your heart will go until you’ve been hurled into a specific trial that will cause a life-change. This life-change can be one of bitterness and constant complaining or it can be a life-change of joy and perseverance that keeps you in the boat, steadily rowing against the headwind, perhaps exhausted but not without hope. (Mark 6:45-52) There are moments when we’re crying out, “Where is the grace of God?” and we’re getting it. But it’s not the grace of relief, and it’s not the grace of release. Largely, those are to come. We get them in pieces, but largely they’re to come, because what we need right now is the grace of refinement. We better become committed to teach, comfort, preach, and encourage one another. [1]

I’ve been close to losing hope and have the weight of depression over this unfortunate situation. I once wrote a post about being a “Mat Carrier”…the service of intercessory prayers, carrying my friends to Jesus when they can’t walk to him on their own. (You know the story in the bible of a lame man being carried on his mat by four good friends so that he could meet Jesus and be healed.) In my state of despair and weariness, I realized that I am like that lame man in need of help from my family and friends to carry me to God through prayer.

The faithful and consistent prayers of family and friends on my behalf has helped renew my strength to persevere, to be hopeful, to experience more grace from God to stay the course…to be steadfast with rowing, making headway painfully for the wind is against me. (Mark 6:45-52)

I would like to say that I’m a brave person, able to face any challenge, but I’m actually afraid to face the unknown. I’m frequently asked, “How are you doing?”  So, instead of saying that I feel awful, I answer with a brave response which I believe they would rather hear. I think being afraid and wanting to be brave all in the same heart-beat is quite normal. Being angry or sad and asking God, “Where is the grace?” is quite normal. “If you have a body, you are entitled to the full range of feelings. It comes with the package.” (Anne Lamott, Grace (eventually): Thoughts on Faith)

What isn’t normal for me (or perhaps for anyone) is to have my first response to a trial as the apostle James exhorts us to do in James 1:2: …”to count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds.” Contrary to the way many believers sometimes think and act, Christian joy does not mean that we ignore or deny the pain of suffering and grief. Nevertheless, suffering and grief can lead to joy, for trouble provides an opportunity for us to deepen our relationship with Christ and to learn how to walk more intimately with Him. [2]

And there’s the rub! Suffering and grief can lead to joy…there is an opportunity for us to deepen our relationship with Christ and to learn how to walk more intimately with Him. I must make the choice to pray to God for more grace to be able to count it all joy. My life-change is becoming a deeper story of knowing Jesus more intimately and holding on tight to the gospel of grace.

Sure, I’m asking God, “Why now?” and “How long will this continue?”  I don’t know the answers to those questions  but I do know that the key to rejoicing in suffering is to trust that God is good and is sovereign. I am asking God for a life-change of deeper faith, a faith that is not just something I do with my brain (head knowledge) but the way that I live my life. [1] I am not being forsaken. I am not being forgotten. I am being refined. I am loved.

A memory I have from my childhood home is seeing the phrase, “Count it all joy” written on index cards and taped to the fridge, or in the corner of a bathroom mirror or on the dashboard in our car. My mom would also write those words in perfect calligraphy, framed and displayed on our family room wall. My mom suffered through chronic pain and illness for most of her life. Those four words, count it all joy, reminded her that God is good and she will lack nothing. I once read that joy is the best makeup [3] and mom wore it well. Truly, I am depending on more grace from God to strengthen my faith before I can even begin to smear on joy.

The joy is not in the trial but in the work of the gospel transforming and changing my heart. God is giving me more grace, albeit an uncomfortable grace. I visualize myself in that row-boat with Jesus’ disciples, fighting the headwind and struggling to row through the storm.  And there Jesus is, walking on the water towards me.  “I AM” is here! The One on whom all the covenant promises rest. The One who’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. The One who created the world by spoken word. The One who holds it together by his power. The One who is sovereign over every experience I will ever be in. The “I Am” has invaded my life by his grace. [1] This testing of my faith will produce steadfastness and I will lack nothing.

Throughout life, our faith must grow. We start with a small faith, but as we live the Christian life our faith becomes stronger, enabling us to trust God more and more. As the disciples once did, so too must we ask God to increase our faith (Luke 17:5). This He will do by bringing us through various trials so that our faith will produce the steadfastness of perseverance, guaranteeing that our sanctification will be complete. [5]

I’ve been writing this blog post for a few weeks, already, taking a few quick moments here and there to type a few lines or to share a few quotes from authors and pastors that communicate my thoughts precisely. This trial is not over and is bound to change in time, in some way. What will never change, however, is God’s gift of grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. His grace is filling and satisfying my faith. God’s grace is enabling me to count it all joy. That’s a real life-change!

God will take you where you haven’t chosen to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own. ~Paul David Tripp
Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)


 [1] The Difference between Amazement and Faith |Faith is not just something you do with your brain; faith is the way that you live your life. | Paul David Tripp. [2] Counting It All Joy | Reformed Bible Studies & Devotionals at Ligonier.org.  [3] Anne Lamott  [4] Anne Lamott |Grace (eventually): Thoughts on Faith. [5] Trials of Various Kinds | R.C. Sproul