Category Archives: Inspiration

Baby Blanket

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The dream fogs forward.
We’re weeks away
from grand baby to be,
plums barely clinging to the branch.

The ocean, a little further than
the next door rooster, breaks on the beach
morning after morning, anticipating footsteps
as our family strolls.

The math of compassion adding up,
the little ones make us larger.
Passing down humor, songs,
and curls, decades away from going grey.

God has no grandchildren, the one thing
we can pity. The smallest finger
He’ll ever feel in His hand
is ours.

Awaken Dry Bones In The Name of The Lord

Awaken Dry Bones

My dry bones lay on the battle floor.

Yielded.

Inside of me.

After the fire. The war.

That burned away the flesh.

Laid on God’s altar.

The test.

Tests.

Submission requires so much rest.

To die. To surrender.

Peace, at best.

White-flagged, bones, stripped of my flesh,

finally yielded to the war inside.

And, out.

Picked, finely clean by the buzzards,

God allowed.

Removing what’s not of Him.

You know, pride. Ego. The hardness inside.

All that it entails.

Pecking through the shell that blocks what God speaks,

from Him, through others, through the winds,

please, never cease.

The winds wax, they wane,

blowing through, then pulls away,

the debris that no longer has a place to cling.

‘Til nothing remains for my flesh to sing.

The rains follow.

Drops, showers, quench the pain.

My tears attest.

Yes, the rain, the storms, cleansing what tries to remain.

Awaken Dry Bones

Cross Amid the Clouds

The Son reigns, He shines above it all,

as I rest, squirming at best,

beneath the Son. The beaming Light.

Whitening the stains,

the scars from too much flight,

from His path.

Barren bones lay dead,

awakening through His grace.

The voice calls beyond the dessert.

Surrounding my soul.

“Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these dry bones,

that they may live.”

Oil, sweet oil, flows from the mantle above,

as the vase breaks–

through.

The anointing.

The fragrance of God, leaving nothing to expose.

It’s revealed.

Polishing the bones with the oil of grace.

Awaken me back, more broken, yet more whole,

for your Holy Spirit to live.

To thrive.

Not merely survive.

My bones start to rattle against the ground where I lay,

from the battle around, He chose me to raise.

Up from once ashes, heaped here, around

The breath of God calls to me,

the dry bones

–dead upon the ground,

Waiting for His hand to fasten these bones as He desires.

Waiting, waiting, for the pieces to reveal.

In the waiting, the real work is sealed.

A Voice calling beyond the wilderness,

once crowding out my soul,

“Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our Lord.”

These bones rise up, fastened back for Life.

A fresh wind is moving,

lifting me up,

stronger for the war.

All for Life!

Abundant Life!

Found surrendered to the Lord!

Awaken Dry Bones

Warrior Princess Awaken For The War

The Horse Trade

photo credit Ari Bronstein

I never thought this day would come. Nor had I expected the heartache to be as intense. The feed bin was empty. The water bucket was gone. Everything had been cleaned and swept away. The only trace that there had ever been a horse inside this stall was the name plaque still on the stall door.

I was fifteen when a girl, a few years older than I, opened up the door to her grandfather’s barn and two of the fattest horses I’d ever seen bulged against the doorway to greet me.  Before I knew it, I was on a trail ride with baler twine holding the saddle on a horse that looked like a Quarter horse but had the mentality of her Tennessee Walker companion.

It never occurred to me how that girl may have felt selling her horses, until this day when I stood in the empty stall of that same Quarter horse I’d loved for six years.

It was for the best, or at least that’s what I tried to convince myself in order to ease the pain of losing my best friend. Soon, I would move away with my new husband, a man allergic to horses.

I hadn’t been home when my dad sold my horse. He thought it was best for me not to be there when my horse left. I never got to say that final goodbye. I never got to meet the person Dad entrusted my horse with.

I’ll never be sure which I regret more – having to let go of my horse or not being given the opportunity to say goodbye.

Over the years, I’ve kept my saddle. It reminds me of all those races and trail rides and memories I have of my horse. It also reminds me of a promise my husband made to me just before we married. A promise I’ve held onto in my heart that he would keep – one day I’d have a horse again.

As I look back fifteen years later, I know it couldn’t have happened any other way. I may have had to let go of my horse in order to marry a man allergic to animals, but God has blessed us in so many ways over the years.

While my husband may not have fulfilled his promise of a horse yet, I wouldn’t trade our life or three kiddos for anything in the world.

So when people ask me about that saddle sitting in the corner, I tell them, “I traded my horse for my husband.” Because sometimes in life we have to choose to give up one thing in order to gain something greater.  (Please click to Tweet this.)

 

Feature image credit: Ari Bronstein

A Hill of Beans

photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com “I don’t like beans.”

My son and daughter swore they did not like beans of any kind as kids. Green beans. Navy beans. Pinto beans. I reasoned, “How can you know whether you like a food until you try it? The next time we have beans, you will taste them.”

Resolved to have a taste test, I simmered a pot of pinto “soup” beans. With Sprite in one hand and a spoon in the other, ever so carefully, the kids put one pinto bean in their mouth.

Chewing and swallowing with unpleasant faces, gulping a drink lickety-split. “I don’t like beans, Mom.” Well then. Now I know that Megan and Caleb do not like pinto beans.

I realized there are types of beans I do not like. Things bringing unpleasant faces, hard to swallow.

I have bickered about issues that amount to a hill of beans. Anxious thoughts filled my mind with problems I discovered were not worth a hill of beans. Equating to virtually nothing in the grand scheme of life. Time wasted.

My friend Debbie teaches at a university. Insightful, she was relaying how people in the academic world have letters of abbreviations that follow their name. College degrees, titles, Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com certifications in a field of study or credentials indicating the position they hold.

MD, PhD, RN, CPA, MBA and CEO bring well-deserved merit to names and recognition to people. The background of such achievements is hard-working and diligent people.

Because it is a great deal of time and effort, I want the full credit for holding a bachelor’s degree in communications. In writing, if one day I am blessed to list a book title after my name, I will be grateful for the honor. Like most aspirations, writing is hard work and takes a substantial amount of time.

The pursuit of academic studies and credentials is commendable. While they are honorable in this life, they are temporary earthly accolades.

This life quickly fades. Our time on earth is short. In our last moments of life, titles that follow our name in the present will fade ever-so-quickly in the future.

My sister-in-law, Michele, reminds friends and family to consider all things in an eternal perspective. Does this really matter in light of eternity? Sometimes it does, often it does not.

Time spent on things with eternal value equate to a significance in this life and in the next life.

I aspire to reach all degree levels of study from the University of Eternal Significance.

  • Associate’s Degree: an Associate of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.
  • Bachelor’s Degree: BA, graduate of the Blessed Assurance Program. Jesus is mine.
  • Master’s Degree: MA, graduate of the Master’s Advancement Program. Christ becomes greater, I become less.
  • PhD: A doctoral study in the existence of heaven and relaying the philosophy of truth to others. A recruiting program for the university.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.comI’m learning to spend my time and focus in life on things worth more than a hill of beans. Not bickering over the unimportant issues. Not spending precious time in worry and anxiety. But giving these areas to the Lord.

We have a hill country awaiting us with much richer and exquisite delicacies.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything. Deuteronomy 8:7-9

Friends, the time is now. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8

 

Images courtesy of www.Pixabay.com

 

Mrs. Rabb and the High School Mutiny: Regret and Thanks

Sorry Pixabay

The roomful of freshmen was unusually attentive as Mrs. Rabb praised the class on their creative writing assignment. “I was pleased with each of your efforts,” she announced from the front of the room, “but there was one story that was especially well-written.”

My heart fluttered and I repositioned in the wooden desk carved with the writing efforts of previous Hillcrest High School students. Could she possibly be talking about me?

No, she couldn’t. After all, she knew I had been a leader in the classroom mutiny staged only weeks before. We had planned for the day and watched with anticipation as the clock’s second hand danced around the bold black numbers. At exactly 9am, in the middle of freshman English, a group of us simultaneously dropped our English books on the floor.

The room echoed with insult.

Mrs. Rabb didn’t say a word. She didn’t have to . . . her face said it all. I watched as her good morning smile gave way to the heaviness of undeserved contempt. Her eyes, once bright with anticipation of the day’s teaching, now wounded by unilateral attack, searched my eyes and begged to know why. Why had her kindness resulted in such mockery? I had no answer.

To this day, I don’t know why we chose her. Mrs. Rabb hadn’t done anything to prompt such treatment. But at that time in my life, it was all about the dare. It was all about making a statement, following students across America in defying authority and standing against the Viet Nam war.

Not that I had any particular interest in the war or why we should or shouldn’t be there. For me, it hadn’t been about the war. It was all about the dare to step out in rebellion.

So I knew she couldn’t be talking about me. Not after the way I had treated her.

Mine was a dark story. A story of violence and welcomed death. Even the single-word title had set the mood of my teen angst and all its hormonal disdain: Requiem.

But as she read the opening line, I knew. I knew she had seen past my disrespect, past my youthful ignorance, and—in front of my peers—had celebrated the budding possibilities of a future artist. One who painted with words.

Decades later, after my fourth book came out, I searched for Mrs. Rabb and eventually found her. But I was too late. Her response, spoken through the veil of dementia, walked a convoluted path of confusion. She didn’t know who I was. She didn’t understand how her praise led to a life of writing.

It was too late to thank her. Too late to ask her forgiveness. My regret could not be soothed by her forgiveness.

So today I pronounce publicly, “Thank you, Mrs. Rabb. Thank you for looking past my ugliness to the beautiful possibility of written words. You validated the worth of my writing and altered the direction of my life. You made a difference.”

Dare to Dream Big

courtesy bing

When God pulled Abram, whom he later re-named Abraham, aside and told Abe to look up at the sky, God said he would have descendents like the stars … too numerous to count.

Of course if we remember the story, there was one little problem … Abraham had no children, and at his age it was looking like he never would. But God had a dream for Abraham and he dared Abe to dream it, too.

old man_3When Abraham was 100 years old and his wife, Sarah, was 90 they had a son. Isaac. God was faithful to keep his promise.

Side note: Some time after Sarah died at 127 years of age, Abe remarried … he and his new wife, Keturah, had at least six more children. (Genesis 25:1-2)

Before Abraham was ever born God knew his plan would be fulfilled through this man. Same thing with you and me. Before we were ever born God had a dream, a plan for our lives. Sometimes the plan is clear to us. Sometimes it’s rather foggy. Doesn’t matter. It’s God’s plan and it will be accomplished. Even when to us it may seem to take an awfully long time to fulfill.

Abraham wasn’t perfect. Neither are we. Still, God chooses to use us to accomplish his will on this earth. He asks us to dare to believe him, to dream with him. God wants us to step out in faith. To trust. To act on that trust.

Easier said than done sometimes. Can I get an Amen?

Like me, are you struggling with the dream you believe God has dared you to dream? Maybe it’s something others are getting in the way of, or are trying to snuff out. Maybe fear to actually grab hold of that dream and run with it keeps us from moving forward. Maybe doubt has moved in and made itself waaay too comfortable.

Abraham could have made excuses why he wasn’t up to the task God called him to. He could have dwelt on past failures. He could have told God he’d think about it, or told God to give him more time. Excuses we often find ourselves making.

It may take courage and persistence on our part to step out, overcome regrets, past courtesy pixabayfailures, fear. It may take a firm faith in the belief God is with us in this. It may take stubbornness and the will to put one foot in front of the other to press on and redeem whatever time we have to accomplish the task set before us.

In the song, “Who But You” by Casting Crowns the questions are asked Who but you would ever choose to dream your dream in me? Who but you would dare me to believe what I can’t see? Who but you?

Only God. That’s who.

Whatever our situation, if we feel God has dared us to believe what we can’t see, maybe we need to remember good ole Abe and step out in faith.

Hopefully it won’t take until we turn 100 to git ‘er done.

Then God brought Abram outside beneath the nighttime sky and told him, “Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that—too many to count!” And Abram believed God; then God considered him righteous on account of his faith. Genesis 15:5-6 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

Redeeming Our Time Brings A Quiet Heart

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See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5: 15, 16

Mary Slessor was a young single woman who left Scotland at the turn of the century to go to a part of Africa that was infested with disease and indescribable danger. But she had an indomitable spirit and kept going when lesser men and women broke down, ran, and never came back. Once, after a particularly draining day, she found herself trying to sleep in a crude jungle hut. Of that night she wrote:

“I am not very particular about my bed these days, but as I lay on a few dirty sticks laid across and covered with a litter of dirty corn-shells, with plenty of rats and insects, three women and an infant three days old alongside, and over a dozen sheep and goats and cows outside, you don’t wonder that I slept little. But I had such a comfortable quiet night in my own heart.” (Italics mine) -taken from “Ordering Your Private World” by Gordon MacDonald.

In this book, Dr. MacDonald writes on the necessity for us to have a quiet place where all is in order, a place from which comes the energy that overcomes turbulence and is not intimidated by it.

I’m convinced this kind of “quiet energy” is experienced only when we choose to value the development and strengthening of our inner being as much as we do the outer man. Think for a moment. How much time and energy have we already invested in our appearance today? (If you could stand to spend a little more time in this area, there’s plenty of space in line behind me.)

I’ve been jazzercising now for three months. Only in recent weeks have I noticed a tad more definition developing in my muscles. This doesn’t happen overnight, and neither does developing our inner being. It requires time, energy, and sacrifices to develop and strengthen our values, beliefs, and love for Christ and others. But when this happens, our time is redeemed, made the most of, in ways we could never imagine. Ways we may not even realize until we reach the other side of heaven.

Are you as inspired as I am by Mary Slessor’s story? God used the quietness dwelling in Mary’s heart to glorify Him in the hearts of many during her time in Africa, as well as countless others in years since. This spurs me on to consider the condition of my own heart. Mary could have spent her time complaining and mumbling about her circumstances (and honestly she had every right to do so) but instead, she chose to cultivate this kind of inner strength, thereby redeeming her time for God’s glory.

Is there some way I can pray for you today as we strive together to make the most of every opportunity?

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

 

Finding Shade

www.unsplash.com

www.unsplash.com

“I wish we could sit in the shade.” My daughter Megan’s sentiments were shared by each of us as the beaming afternoon sun made its presence known.

My family was visiting a local summer festival. A venue of culture, athletics, arts, and entertainment. The events are held outside and the stifling temperatures soared to the 90’s.

A musical band from the area would be performing in the high school football stadium. Having concert tickets, we made our way up the street to stand in line with hundreds of fans.

The sidewalk looped around a street curb and beside a grassy area populated with oak trees. Branches and foliage shaded the ground with an inviting look of coolness. Shade brings relief from the heat and shelter from direct sunlight. But we would need to leave the waiting area. Concerned the other fans wouldn’t be understanding—to allow us our shade and keep our place in line—we stayed put.

www.pixabay.comA slight chance of rain prompted festival-goers to grab their umbrellas. Even with no rain, umbrellas everywhere opened as a shadowy cover.

Entering the gate, we were thankful for forty-five minutes inside an air conditioned building for a “meet and greet” with the artists. It gave us time to rest from the heat. Back outside and seated in the bleachers, my husband used the concert program to shelter us from the afternoon sun. I discovered as long as I stayed on the inside of his shadow, I rested in the shade’s coolness.

My husband Mike is a pastor and a shade kind of guy. Picnics are planned around a shady spot. An avid motorcycle rider, camp sites are chosen based on ample shade. In parking lots, he is always on the look-out for shadiness, ensuring our vehicle is cool once we are ready to depart.

When the weather heats up in the summer, the direct beaming rays of the sun and activities can drain our energy. Seeking shelter and shaded rest can revitalize us.

Psalm 91:1 describes it this way, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (NIV)

We find rest from life’s tiresome activities under God’s shelter. The Almighty’s shadow is a cover for our weariness—a place of physical and spiritual rest.

I discovered as long as I stay on the inside of His shadow, I have ample shade and rest from life, bringing His strength and restoration.

“The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.” Psalm 121:5 (ESV)

www.pixabay.comIn your search for shade in outdoor summer festivities, remember the Lord is our spiritual shade. He refreshes our spirits. He promises to shelter us from the scorching heat. A refreshment never far away.

We can dwell under the shelter of the Lord. We can sit down under His shadow where He makes His presence known. He wants to meet and greet us there. He is our rest.

 

Photos courtesy of www.unsplash.com & www.pixabay.com

Does Our Walk of Faith EVER Get Easier? 

Does Our Walk of Faith EVER Get Easier?

By Jennifer L Griffith

My heart is broken.

More so than at any other time.

Circumstances are not the matter,

as long as it’s for what breaks God’s.

This, definitely does…

My path is scattered with shattered pieces–some mine, some another’s.

My heart steps from side-to-side, seeking God’s light upon this path,

with crevices so deep, I could fall in, and never get back …

up, truly alive.

If my flesh had its way, I could get lost,

missing the direction of whom I seek.

Yet, I’d miss the summit, where all these pieces may just fit.

A breather comes at times, sitting by the water, still,

planted, waiting for the next climb.

I wonder, does this walk of faith–

this journey following the Light,

EVER get easier?

Part of me wants to say, “I wish.”

Yet, the part that yearns to grow,

knows that if that path ever came, it’s likely not of Him.

It’d likely be of the one whose ways are to stagnate what’s inside.

That pool that ebbs and flows with God’s breaking…

That sound is so clear, shattering at times,

as the drops of my tears keep that pool inside alive.

You know, that part of my heart, that yearns to grow.

The only part that eases

is the believing, the knowing,

that God truly is

good through it all.

The rest, the pieces, the tears, the pain from what I see,

from the cries that I hear,

the ones that move me closer to the deeper faith that I seek.

The kind that requires no sight to see, only steps.

Of faith.

Lead me, Lord, where more of You is required,

so I grow ever closer …

To the One who makes all of life divine.

You, who makes sense of so many shattered pieces,

leaving none that should reside.

Does Our Walk of Faith EVER Get Easier?

Shattered Heart

Well Healed

Moccasin

I wear a dead chef’s boots
to preach in prison.

Black Johnny Cash jeans
because cliche`s don’t clash
with the dress code.

I speak no Spanish, recognize
no tattoos, never slept behind bars.

I’m welcome because I show up,
shake hands, pray and come back.

Familiar equals family
when everything is strained and chained.

The insiders know my heart is locked with theirs,
even driving home.

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