wierd-kind-of-peaceMany of us have been impacted by Hurricane Matthew and will remain affected by it for years to come.  The morning after the storm the sun was shining in the bluest of skies. The sounds of wind and rain were replaced with the sounds of generators and chain saws – a typical scenario following a hurricane.

Being without electricity for several days made me have to stop and re-think how I was going to accomplish my basic needs.  But it also made me slow down and at times, to stop completely. I raced through my days trying to do as much as possible before daylight faded and I would be forced to spend my evenings in darkness with just a flashlight to maneuver my way around the house. It was in the silence of the darkness that I found my surroundings strangely peaceful. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have to do anything, I didn’t have to drive anywhere, there was no TV or internet to distract me, and I especially enjoyed not hearing the phone ring. God certainly has a way of getting our attention.

The electricity has been restored and now I find myself surrounded by devastation, not peace.  Roads have collapsed, homes and businesses have been wiped out, cars have been swept away, and lives have been lost. Even after personally seeing the damage and then seeing pictures of other areas destroyed by the storm, I still find myself questioning what I am seeing. Could this be real? How could so much widespread damage be caused in such a short period of time? I am truly thankful our house was spared and for the inconvenience of no electricity for a few days.  But I also recognize that so many others were not so fortunate. The storm left a hole in my heart. My prayers go out to those who have lost homes, businesses, and family members who perished in the floods. The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

Perseverance“…and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NRSV)

I woke up to an absolutely beautiful day – sunny, but cooler, and perfect for running.  It’s been a while since I ran so it didn’t take long for me to realize how out of shape I am. My legs were feeling the strain and I think I actually heard them telling me to have mercy on them and walk for a while. Trying not to get distracted or discouraged, I concentrated on my high-powered, Jesus running music and this scripture from Hebrews came to mind. As I forced myself to continue I imagined Jesus standing just ahead waiting for me. He didn’t have a stop-watch, just arms open wide and encouraging me to press on – to finish what I started, which for today, was a two-mile run, an easy and realistic goal in the broad scheme of things. I completed the two miles. Probably my worse time yet. But it wasn’t about the time. It was about perseverance.  I could have easily stopped and walked the rest of the way home, but that’s not what Jesus wanted me do.

Perseverance has taken on a whole new meaning for me this year. When I refocused my run from a two-mile cardio to running to Jesus, not only did the running become easier, but I realized that while I’m working my way through the challenges I currently face, I often let destructive thoughts of self-pity and resentment creep their way into my mind and prevent me from seeing Jesus in my circumstances. We will always be faced with changes and challenges in our lives. Some are more difficult than others, but Jesus will always be right there waving us to the finish line.

Eugene Peterson says it best in his translation of this same scripture: “…Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message)

Grace and peace, my friends!

This morning I settled back with a cup a coffee, enjoying a moment of peace, and asked God to speak to me. I picked up Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and here is what God had to say:

Jesus Calling 4-25-16

No truer words could have been said to me today. That’s just how God works. I especially love the analogy of how a spinning ballerina needs to return her eyes to a given point to maintain balance; so must we fix our eyes on Jesus to maintain balance. I certainly do not have the grace of a ballerina – except one that is spinning out of control – which is exactly how I’ve felt lately. I’m sure many of you know that feeling and would agree that it’s not good. My prayer today for you and me, is that we will give God the chaos in our lives and leave it with Him. He knows what to do with it! May your day be filled with God’s grace and peace!

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” (Genesis 12:1)

The United Methodist Church uses the practice of itinerating pastors. No one is exempt – if the Bishop and his/her Cabinet decide to appoint you to a new church, you go. These decisions are prayerfully made by imperfect people who serve a perfect God. Many of you know my husband is a pastor in The United Methodist Church, and it is with bittersweet feelings I share with you that he has been appointed to another church.

Receiving the call made me think of Abraham and Sarah and how they must have felt when God called them to pack up and leave. They had no idea where they were going – just “to the land that I will show you.” But they went, fully trusting that God was with them and would give them direction along the way. At least we were given an address to go to.

Aside from the actual moving part, we are excited about this new opportunity. Although change brings challenges, we know that we can’t grow if we don’t change. Joyce Meyer once said, “Don’t be afraid of changing; be more afraid of staying the same.”  We look forward to what God has planned for us as we begin this new chapter in our lives.



Uplifting Grace Oct 2015

Earlier this fall we spent a week on Hatteras Island. As many of you know, this area is well known for its historical lighthouses, fishing, hang-gliding, and a multitude of water sports. But there is another activity that occurs at Hatteras Island that catches my attention every time I go there – flying kites on the beach. It’s almost as popular as surf-fishing. Maybe that’s because it’s one of the few places that usually has sufficient winds to uphold a kite for hours at a time.

We sat on the deck of our rental house one evening and watched several kites suspended in mid-air, maintaining their altitude thanks to the steady winds. The kites flew gracefully out over the ocean, sometimes dipping but then soaring right back up as the wind caught their fall. For a fleeting moment, I wondered what it would be like to hang-glide and soar through the sky like those kites.

The wind that upholds kites is very similar to how God’s grace upholds us. You can’t see the wind, but you know it’s there because you can feel it; the same is true with God’s grace. We can feel it, because with His grace comes strength, joy and peace. Like the wind, God’s grace is bigger than anything we can imagine. It catches us when we start to fall and sustains us no matter where we are and no matter what challenges we are facing. It is only by the power of His grace that we are able to endure tough times or do what seems impossible. The wind is sufficient for a kite; God’s grace is sufficient for us. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”… For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Divine MajestyThe last day of vacation is the pits. After a couple months of planning with excitement and   great anticipation – BOOM – it’s over. Just like that. Our week at the beach came to an end and the “real” world was waiting for us.

It was a great week. We were surrounded by the work of God’s hand, immersed in His abundant grace and peace. The ocean itself is an amazing phenomenon with the rhythm of the surf, the tides, and the waves crashing on the beach. Looking up to the heavens I saw the fullness of the majesty and glory of God’s creation –the patterns of the clouds and bright sunlight during the day; the moon and the stars at night.

It felt sad to leave this beautiful place and even though this year’s vacation is over, God’s abundant grace and peace certainly are not, and we are still surrounded by His glory – the birds, trees, fields of wildflowers, and gentle breezes. His glory is everywhere! Fall is here and soon the leaves will be changing colors – just another example of God’s majesty. “O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9)

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Reading through my journal I came across some notes I had taken a couple years ago while watching Joyce Meyer’s “Enjoying Everyday Life”. She was presenting a two-part series entitled “Your Words Affect Your Future.” I remember watching this program during a time when I was feeling especially down and uncertain about my future. I felt stuck where I was, and my negative thoughts convinced me that I would never again be happy. 

The notes I took were these: “You’ll never progress beyond your own opinion of yourself.”; “If you’re going to talk to yourself, you might as well say something that’s worth hearing!”; and “Believe that God has a plan for you.”

Feeling convicted, I realized the crippling effect my attitude was having on me and those around me.  I knew I needed to get a grip…quickly! Taking her advice, instead of speaking negative thoughts into my life I turned on some serious positive self-talk and wrote down the desires of my heart.  A few days ago, as I reviewed my short list, I was delighted, and humbled to see that during these past two years, three of the four did indeed happen.

Apparently I had Chinese food for lunch that day because in my journal, taped next to my notes was a fortune cookie fortune that read, “Your secret desire to completely change your life will manifest.”  Coincidence? I doubt it.

Thank you, Joyce Meyer, for your wisdom and encouraging thoughts.


Sherry and I have previously written about waiting for God, having grace and patience while we wait, and changing seasons as God calls us from one place of ministry into another. We pray for Jesus’ guidance when we are uncertain, and we pray for God to use us according to His will. We even pray and sing praises about willingly serving when and where Jesus calls us.

But how do we really react after waiting for what sometimes feels like an eternity and then God throws a curve ball by calling us to do something completely unexpected – something we never would have thought of on our own? Or when His calling is a life changing event – like when God called Abraham to pack up and move to a new land? Complete disclosure – I’ll go where God calls me, but I don’t always go gracefully and peacefully, and like the cartoon, sometimes God has to drag me into His plan.

I’ve come to expect the unexpected from God, especially when I’m feeling very comfortable with where I am.  Leaving our comfort zones makes us dependent on God.  It allows God to challenge and strengthen us so that we can grow for His purposes – not ours.  And when I get to the place God wants me to be is when I realize that while I was waiting on Him, some pretty incredible blessings were waiting for me. Not just any blessing, but blessings that have been prepared by God just for me, for just the right time. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Father Forgive Buzz 5-2014On November 14, 1940, Coventry, England was heavily bombed by the Germans. Among the many buildings destroyed was St. Michael’s Cathedral. Although devastated by their loss and this vicious act of war, the people of Coventry remained faithful to God by turning the ruins of their cathedral into a monument that reminds all of the horrors of war and God’s desire for peace. Using two burned wooden beams from the destroyed roof, a cross was formed that now stands in the ruins with the words “Father Forgive” inscribed on the wall behind it. This sacred place is a reminder to Christians everywhere that we are called to be peacemakers. A new cathedral was constructed adjacent to the charred remains of the former. [a]

I recently had the opportunity to visit this war-torn place that now symbolizes peace and reconciliation to the world. So often when we suffer an injustice, regardless of how large or small, our first thought is to seek revenge. I wonder how different our world would be if we would skip the desire for revenge and fast forward to forgiveness – like the people of Coventry. After all, isn’t that what Jesus died for? From the cross Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

God wants us to be at peace – with Him, with each other, and with ourselves. If we can’t forgive, we can’t experience the contentment (peace) that God offers us through our salvation. Being a peacemaker doesn’t mean we make or declare peace wherever we go. Being a peacemaker allows us to share the inner peace that comes from God, thereby being an example of His peace. [b] “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)Litany of Reconciliation Buzz 5-2014




And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” (Gen. 1:24)God's creatures-1

It’s no secret that my husband and I are passionate animal lovers…probably to a fault.  We live in a farming community where feral cats are more common than corn and tobacco. Too often, a kitten will appear at our door and before we know it, we’ve been adopted. Until recently, our cats have stayed indoors, mainly for their safety and their mother’s (my) peace of mind.  We finally reached a turning point where the cats’ need to be in their natural environment exceeded my protective instinct to keep them inside.  In went the cat door and out went the cats…with the security they could come inside at their leisure.  And soon, the cats returned with lizards, grasshoppers, and birds…so far.

My husband is quick to remind me of this scripture from Genesis and that the “creepy” things are biblical and therefore, not to be harmed. I have to admit he extends a lot more grace towards these biblical creatures than I do, particularly when they show up in the house.

Yes, these critters are God’s creation and verse 25 assures us that God saw that it was good.  But…in my house, not so good.

Reading forward: Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image…and let them have dominion…over the birds of the air… and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” (v. 26)  By giving us dominion over these creatures, God intends for us to take care of His creation.  Extending grace to “creepy” things isn’t easy.  However, sometimes grace can be extended with the sweep of a broom.

Grace, Peace, and Coffee