Is It Worth It?

“Is it worth it?” Landon asked.

He was excited but anxious. Standing in line to board his first flight, our 8-year old grandson, white-knuckled the handle of his new luggage and asked again, “Nana, is it worth it?”

His fear was anchored to a single newscast he happened to be in their family room to see. Only a few weeks prior to our trip was the catastrophic crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Though he was assured a thousand times that air travel is safe, percentages are beyond second-grade math and tragic loss is more than anyone can dismiss.

So we talked through what stepping on this plane would mean. Our trip was filled with exciting firsts—his first plane ride, first visit to New Mexico, first trip with just his Papa, Nana, and 6-year old brother Jack. While he was pumped to visit Uncle Nathan and Auntie Melanie and to experience even more unique firsts that they had planned, his mind was racing faster than a jet plane. In the short term, Landon wondered if the long term was worth it.

He’s not alone. It’s a question asked when considering remodeling projects, new health habits, and anything that requires extra time, effort and Continue reading “Is It Worth It?”

5 Quotes about Taking up our Cross

One of my loves is His Word and gathering words from books, blogs, and more. As I streamline my scribbles about the cross into this space, may it strengthen your heart, too.

  1. Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”—Jesus (Luke 9:23)
  2. To take up the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us.—John Henry Newman
  3. The cross is your daily decision to deny yourself, and deliberately, wholeheartedly, unreservedly live out your commitment to His will and His way and His Word and His wisdom.—Anne Graham Lotz (Read more here.)
  4. If my life isn’t cross-centered, my life is off-centered… and the warping spin leaves me sick.—Ann Voskamp
  5. I realize “taking up our cross” may sound strange or vague at first, but for me it’s meant breaking old habits to create space in my heart for new growth. It’s meant moving beyond a plastic Christian checklist … Go to church. Read the Bible. Don’t cuss. Be nice. Pray. Give to the poor … and letting God mess with any and every area of my life.—Lysa TerKeurst (Read more here.)

If you have Scripture or quotes, blogs or books to share about the cross, please share. It is grace to grow together.

10 Things I Don’t Want to Forget from the Going Beyond Simulcast with Priscilla Shirer 2019

On April 6 it was grace to gather with local sisters in Prinsburg, Minnesota for this year’s simulcast with Priscilla Shirer. And though my notebook contains many scribbles, here are 10 things I don’t want to forget.

  1. Abiding with Jesus is a choice. Draw a line in the sand and make the daily choice to hangout with Jesus, enjoy His company, remain, and stay.
  1. God wants to encourage and challenge us. Every time we open His Word individually or in community, He has something for us. Be expectant.
  1. Your identity in Christ matters. It changes everything! Live up to who He says you are instead of living down to who you or others say you are.

Continue reading “10 Things I Don’t Want to Forget from the Going Beyond Simulcast with Priscilla Shirer 2019”

What do you want God to do?

Stacey is the sentimental one. Out of the four sisters in my family, she has more stuff that sparks joy for her than the rest of us do. Because, for Stacey, items are never valued by shelf space or price tags, but in the memories and meaning they possess.

So when she told us she had a handwritten recipe card from Grandma Lena, a grandmother who died when our mom was a teen, no one was surprised. But we were jealous.

We looked at mom and said, “Why didn’t you give us a recipe card?”

Continue reading “What do you want God to do?”

An A to Z Guide to Lent

A         Acknowledge your desperate need for a Savior. Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).

B         Be brokenhearted over your sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me (Psalm 51:3).

C         Cling to Christ who convicts, but never condemns! Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us (Romans 8:34).

D         Draw near to God. Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:8).

E          Examine your life. Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord (Lamentations 3:40).

Continue reading “An A to Z Guide to Lent”

The Key to Perseverance

By faith he [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27).

Persevere. I have a hard time spelling it, much less living it. It’s one thing to make it through a nasty cold or bout with the flu. It’s something altogether different to persevere through chronic illness and cancer treatments. It’s one thing to check off today’s to-do list, it’s quite another to persevere when we’re buried beyond what seems possible.

And while it’s good and right to celebrate when we make it to the other side of a disagreement, debt, or another difficulty, it’s disheartening when we wonder if our current tunnel has an exit ramp.

When God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and bring His people out of Egypt, he may have thought the Exodus was the exit ramp. In reality, the journey had only begun! How did Moses make it not only through the Red Sea, but through the wilderness of rebellion, complaining, and challenges? Look where he looked. This is the key to perseverance!

Moses’ eyes were not fixed on the visible—a sea too big to cross, people too big to feed, and an enemy bent on their destruction. His gaze was locked on the Invisible! “He persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).

Struggling to persevere? Look at what you are looking at. Are you primarily seeing the visible or the Invisible? May God open the eyes of our hearts to see Him!

God is for you and with you. He sees you and your visibles. He loves you with an unstoppable, never-ending, never-failing love.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Helen Howarth Lemmel

Children Are Like Seeds

In the thirty years married to my farmer husband, we’ve seen significant change in the ag industry. So have you. And though tiny seeds sprouting into new life is an unchanging, humbling miracle, the timing of when seed sales representatives show up is in flux.

They used to go door to door in February to highlight the company’s top-producing varieties from the previous harvest. Then seed sales came at the heels of harvest, after the equipment was parked for the season. Today sales reps drop into combines through cell phones or in person to ask farmers to plan for a year they’re too preoccupied to think about because they’re in the harvest hub.

And though farmers have a variety of needs and preferences, they don’t need a seed representative to remind them what they already know. How, Continue reading “Children Are Like Seeds”

A Love that Pursues

I can still picture the water fountain where she went missing. Time hasn’t erased the horror. It was almost twenty-five years ago, and our first family outing after our youngest daughter was born. Melanie was a couple of weeks old; her sisters Elizabeth and Stephanie were six and four.

The girls were giddy. What child isn’t about a county fair? Carnival rides, cotton candy, animals, and more. But we didn’t see any of those things. Because our first stop was the water fountain, and that’s where we lost her. Continue reading “A Love that Pursues”

When Patience Isn’t Your Virtue

It was the store’s employee who directed me to the express lane. He would’ve made a different choice had he known how many products were packed into my small basket. But the dude behind me saw full well. As the clerk rang up item after item, the man at the end of the line with only three items in hand, started to whistle Christmas jingles. An odd thing to do eight days before Easter.

His impatience became an irritation. In an effort to defuse the situation, I smiled and asked, “Are you thinking you’re going to have to wait until Christmas before I’m checked out?”

He laughed and the ice broke. “Nope,” he said. “But it may be Easter.”  

I wonder if there are those whistling through their teeth and losing patience with you? Or maybe someone has her stiletto heels standing on your last nerve? Although I’m clearly a work in progress, here are three ways for the impatient to grow in patience.

  1. Ponder on how patient God is with you. He is “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). His patience is not measured on how well we may or may not be doing at the moment. It’s based on him. It’s who he is! Liz Curtis Higgs writes, “God doesn’t just show us patience. He is Patience. It’s how he defines himself.”
  2. Pray for patience. When you’ve run out of patience with your family, co-workers, or even yourself, go to Jesus. In him you will be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11). He is able to infuse us with patience-power. This is a prayer that lines up to his heart
  3. Put on patience. Colossians 3:12 tells us to clothe ourselves in patience! My friend Linda modeled this for me at a conference I spoke at in Canada. Five minutes before we were ready to begin, two of the key ladies needed to host the nearly 500 women were not there. As I paced and bore holes through my wristwatch, Linda looked at me and smiled. Though she fully understood the gravity of the situation, she put on patience rather than panic. Instead of pacing, she chose peace. And it was contagious to the other volunteers who I had put on edge. Linda’s clothing choice changed the atmosphere of the room and my heart.

There are a thousand places we can expect extra patience to be required, an express lane is not one of them. Yet here stood Mr. Whistling Dude and me. And though it may seem easier to purchase patience than practice it, that’s not how God works.

We must look to him and rely on him. And when we do, we can point the impatient to the one who is immensely patient with us (1 Timothy 1:16).

Three Ways to Care for Friends Who Hurt

Jackson is accident prone. Every bump and bruise on our four-year-old grandson has a story. “You should have seen it, Nana,” he said. “I fell off my bike and my face hit the ground before my hands.” One look at his noggin and I knew he spoke truth.

He then pulled three bandages out of his pocket and said, “I brought these just in case. I even have an extra for you.”

Love that kid. And in his simple act of kindness I was painfully aware that I often overcomplicate what it looks like to care for friends who hurt.

When grief and disaster strike, I’ve been one of those well-meaning people who has done more damage than good. I’ve avoided people because I didn’t know what to say or do. And I’ve poured vinegar into a wound by immediately talking about God’s good plan when there was no good in sight.

I wonder if you have too? If so here are three ways we can care for friends who hurt.

1. Show up. Don’t avoid the person or the tender subject because it’s too hard and painful, and you’re afraid you’ll make things worse. Simply show up. Draw near. Your presence speaks volumes about your love and care.

That’s what Sandra does. She cares deeply about people. And when she shared how a woman in their small group had a heartache so heavy she couldn’t get out of bed, she knew what they had to do. The friends piled into a car, drove to her home, and stood on the front porch asking her husband if they could come in. They didn’t stand there long.

“What did you bring?” I asked. What’s the cure for heartache? Casseroles, cards, calla lilies?

“Nothing,” she said. “We just showed up.” That’s what friends do for friends who hurt.

2. Listen. Most of us think we’re better listeners than we really are. After my last phone conversation with Alecia, I was convicted by my end of the conversation. I texted, “Interesting how I tell you I need to learn to listen as I interrupt you. Sorry!”

She responded, “Huh? Did you interrupt me? Didn’t notice!” I may not be the only one with a listening problem!

When you sit with friends who hurt pose thoughtful questions, then stop talking. Be comfortable in the silence, and resist the urge to fix the situation or to fix her. Remind her how much she matters to you.

3. Pray. When my friend Theresa was dying from a debilitating illness, she taught me this about prayer. She said some people would tell her they were praying for her and others would take her hand and pray with her. She always felt most loved and encouraged by those who did the later.

Pray for and with each other. Even if it’s a single-sentence prayer of blessing. Here are a few examples:

  • May you experience the nearness of the one who promises to stay close to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18)
  • May you remember that he sees you and counts your tears. (Psalm 56:8)
  • May he wrap you in his comfort and compassion and surprise you with glimpses of his tender care. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

When we can’t see God’s love through the tears, we need sisters who will prop us up and demonstrate his love. Show up. Listen. Pray. Repeat.

As Bob Goff writes, “God doesn’t pass us notes, he gives us friends.” And sometimes those friends may even have an extra bandage in their pocket just for you.