Monday, January 30, 2012



There we are - in living color!

(Our faces are big because I took this photo - holding the camera out at arm's length!)

I know you've all been wondering what my *cowboy* looks like - well, here he is! I know I'm kinda partial, but isn't he a *keeper*?!

So, in his honor, I am re-posting something I wrote in August, 2010. I hope that you'll enjoy it!


Sometimes following is not an easy thing to do. Some of us are not natural followers. We want to lead, to choose our own way, and trust our own judgment. And more often than not, that is when we really lose our way.

My husband and I love to go camping. Quite often we go hiking. Some of these hikes are more like leisurely strolls that don't wander far from familiar pathways. But sometimes we just strike out and go where our feet take us. We don't go with a map, we don't take a compass or a GPS devicewe just walk.

And yet, I can honestly say that I have never been afraid of getting lost.

You know why?

I trust my husband.

Sometimes when we've been hiking for a long time I get really hot and tired, and sometimes I don't think I can take another step. What do I do? I keep my husband in my sights ahead of me, and I just plod on after him.

On one particular hike in Joshua Tree National Park in California, the full realization of what I was doing hit me. We were making our way back to camp after a full day of hiking and exploring. It was starting to get a little dark, I was thirsty, and I was completely tuckered out.

We were going in the general direction of where we had left the car – at least we thought so!!

But the going was tough.

Joshua Tree is beautiful in its own desert way – but for hiking, it's just dirt, scrubby bushes, and endless boulders to scramble over. Each footstep became harder and harder. I was so tired I could barely look up. But as long as I could see the faint traces of my husband's footprints in the dirt, I just placed my feet in line with his…and followed.

God taught me a great lesson that day.

We are to TRUST Him…and follow.

Look for His footprints, place one foot in front of the other in line with His, and go where He leads. Jesus issued this challenging invitation throughout the New Testament…and it's the same thing He calls us to today"Come, follow Me."

I'd like to encourage all of you to start each day by praying to the Lord, telling Him that you are ready to listen to His voice and to follow where He leads. Be ready. He may lead you through sadness or suffering. He may lead you through pain. He may bring you into a wilderness, or have you climb some boulders.

But always remember this -

He goes with you EACH and EVERY step of the way!

So onward
I plod
planting my feet
in the
firm footholds
He has already made,
trusting Him
and knowing
I am totally safe –
as long as I follow…
I am
accompanied by
His sense of peace
along the way,
for I know
Someone who loves me
is leading me,
and He will
bring me safely
if I just trust Him
and follow…

…in His footsteps.

© Sharon Kirby
May 23, 2006

Happy Trails, my friends!

Go with God!

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they FOLLOW ME."
(John 10:27 – NLT)

Where is God calling you to let Him lead? Are you willing to follow?

Linked today with:

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Sunday, January 29, 2012

BIBLE PICK 'EMS - Hallelujah!

It's always interesting to me where I land in my "Bible Pick 'Ems."

This week is a great pick!

We have landed in Psalm 111:

"Praise the LORD!
I will thank the LORD with all my heart
as I meet with his godly people.
How amazing are the deeds of the LORD!
All who delight in him should ponder them.
Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
His righteousness never fails.
He causes us to remember his wonderful works.
How gracious and merciful is our LORD!
…All he does is just and good,
and all his commands are trustworthy.
They are forever true,
to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.
He has paid a full ransom for his people.
He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever.
What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom.
All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.
Praise him forever!" (Psalm 111:1-4, 7-10)

A little background. Psalms 111-118 are called *hallelujah psalms.* The word hallelujah literally means "praise the LORD" – and it is an expression of great joy. Don't you think that perfectly reflects the uplifting and optimistic tone of these heartfelt songs?!

Psalm 111 is like an ode to our wonderful God, the Almighty LORD, the One that we all worship. It is an affirmation that all that God does is good. It contends that reverence for God is the beginning of wisdom.

It is a beautiful outpouring of love.

And the Bible does not record who wrote it.

There are a total of 50 anonymous psalms, and there is widespread speculation on who the authors might be – including Ezra and Hezekiah. But for some reason, God has chosen to keep these authors anonymous.

And so, I enjoyed reading this psalm as if I wrote it.

These eight verses contain meaty truth!

Here's what came to my mind:

Verse 1 – We should practice being grateful, really and truly grateful, with our whole hearts. And a great place to be thankful is in the community of believers("as I meet with his godly people")

Verse 2 – We must cultivate and nurture our sense of awe at what God does. He is amazing. We should delight in Him, and ponder(one of my favorite pastimes) – really think on, meditate on, contemplate His mighty deeds. (Definition of ponder: To reflect or consider with thoroughness and care)

Verse 3 – Everything He does reveals His glory and majesty. That includes the *bad stuff* of life – the difficulties, the struggles, the suffering – ALL things are good. HIS righteousness is perfect. (In Greek the word for "righteousness" is dikaiosune, which literally means equity of character. Equity of character is to possess all good qualities in perfection and perfect balance)

Verse 4 – It is the work of the Holy Spirit within us that continues to make us aware of God. HE causes us to remember. What a reflection of God's grace and mercy! He does not ask us to do what His Spirit will not enable us to do.

Verse 7 – God is both just and good. (I thought this definition of God's justice was really good – that perfection of his nature whereby he is infinitely righteous in himself and in all he does, the righteousness of the divine nature exercised in his moral government. Justice is not an optional product of his will, but an unchangeable principle of his very nature)

And because God is perfectly good, and perfectly just, then all of His commandments are trustworthy eminently worthy of trust. We can depend on them.

Verse 8 – God's words are eternal. His Truth stands forever. Our part in it? To obey faithfully (adhering firmly and devotedly) and with integrity (adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty). Faithful integrity reflects the God we serve. It is a necessary character trait that all of God's children (as representatives and ambassadors) should have.

Verse 9 – The ransom here pictures the rescue by God of the Israelites. Ransom means "to free from captivity by paying a price." Of course, we know that the ultimate ransom was paid by Jesus on the cross, forever freeing us from sin. His ransom was indeed FULL – once and for all.

God's covenant – the new covenant sealed by the blood of Christ – is guaranteed. The Holy Spirit is the seal on our souls. And this contract cannot be changed, for it is based on the immutable promises of God.

Yes, what a holy and awe-inspiring name He has!!

Verse 10 – The only way to become truly wise is to fear God. I loved this definition:

the fear of the Lord: an inward attitude of humble reverence toward God, in light of His self-revelation, that results in outward expression of Christlikeness

"According to this definition, the fear of the Lord involves two parts. The first is the inward attitude. This attitude is humble because as the Lord reveals His character, His majesty, His power and holiness, we are humbled before Him. We realize that God alone is worthy of our devotion and reverence. The second part is the outward obedience, which flows from this inward humility. God reveals Himself to us so we will obey Him. The two parts are linked." (Find the link to the whole article here):

The more we know Him, the more we love Him. The more we love Him, the more we obey Him. The more we obey Him, the more we become like Him. And that is the beginning of true wisdom – the secret to life.

No wonder the author of Psalm 111 ended with his resounding coda!

So do I!


A big amen to that.

Won't you join me today in celebrating this psalm, and thanking God for all He is and all He's done?!

Linked today with Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS and Peggy at SOAKING ON SONDAY!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Welcome to "Quaint Words!"

This post will contain thoughts from an old book that I found in my travels. I love browsing at antique stores, flea markets, and garage sales - (not to mention bookstores!)

I love the rhythm and sound of the older English language, and am blessed by other believers who have gone before me!

"It is good to understand that Christ's service never did secure a man from all the ills that flesh is heir to, and never will. If you are a believer, you must reckon on having your share of sickness and pain, of sorrow and tears, of losses and crosses, of deaths and bereavements, of partings and separations, of vexations and disappointments, so long as you are in the body.

Christ never undertakes that you shall get to heaven without these.

He has undertaken that all who come to Him shall have all things pertaining to life and godliness; but He has never undertaken that He will make them prosperous, or rich, or healthy, and that death and sorrow shall never come to their family...

If you desire to serve Christ...I entreat you to take the Lord on His own terms. Make up your mind to meet with your share of crosses and sorrows, and then you will not be surprised.

...leave to the Lord Jesus to sanctify you in His own way. Rest satisfied that He never makes any mistakes. Be sure that He does all things well.

The winds may howl around you, and waters swell. But fear not, 'He is leading you by the right way, that He may bring you to a city of habitation' (Ps. 107:7)."

(From "Holiness" by J. C. Ryle, c. 1816-1900)

(A listing of books and authors, and also dates of individual postings from those books, will be found on my "QUAINT WORDS" page)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, January 27, 2012


Welcome to "Fan the Flame" Friday.

This is a weekly post that will be "short and sweet" (kinda like me...)

Just a word and a phrase, a sentence or a question...just a little something to "fan the flame" of your creativity!

Today's word: awe

What does the word awe mean to you?

What is one thing in life (besides God) that inspires awe in you?

What does it mean to hold God in awe?

Let me know what you think!!

"This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Ever believe something your whole life, only to find out you're wrong?

Let me tell you a story about that!

Years and years ago, when I was a very little girl (OK, you strict blogging buddies – years and years and eons ago…). Where was I? Oh yeah, a long time ago when I was a little girl I watched the Disney movie, "Dumbo."

I loved that movie.

Dumbo was so cute, and so sweet. And I completely identified with his innocent and timid ways. And yes, Timothy almost cured me of my fear of mice – not quite – but he certainly was less *eekish* than real mice!

I loved that movie – but I also didn't like it at all.

Because the scenes between Dumbo and his mother were heartbreaking. When she got captured, I felt sick. And when Dumbo came to see his mom in that cageand that little scene with them entwining their trunks, and then pulling apart well, I sobbed for days.

I remember talking to my own mother.

And she tried her best to console me.

Many years later, my oldest son – (who was probably a toddler at the time) – and I went to my mom's house to visit. My sister was there. And we decided to watch a movie. I thought I'd let my *big* boy choose which movie. Of course, he chose Dumbo.

I wasn't sure what to do. I looked at my sister over his head and mouthed, "What do you think?"

Because both she and I knew something about the movie Dumbo – Dumbo's mother dies.

We decided we would let my son watch the movie, and then make up some happy ending for it so he wouldn't be traumatized. We sat right next to him. Crying, waiting for the moment when we’d have to "fake" the happy ending.

Except, it never came.

There actually WAS a happy ending.

After an amazing performance, Dumbo became a media sensation. Timothy became his manager. And lo and behold, in the last scene, there is Dumbo's mom, big as life (literally) – dancing along in a joyous parade. (Turns out, she and Dumbo are given a private car on the circus train).


My sister and I both turned to my mom, who was in the kitchen.

In unison, "Mom, you told us Dumbo's mother died."

She, rather sheepishly, replied, "Doesn't she?"

We adamantly blurted, "NO!!"

Mom, now rather pink in the cheeks, said, "Oh. Sorry. I guess I never watched the end of the movie."

We all laughed. Now, I never resented my mom for letting me (accidentally) believe all these many years that Mrs. Jumbo died. But tell you what, it always made me avoid that movie, or even thinking about it. It was too sad.

(Now I just have to avoid "Bambi" – that one really IS sad…)

Got to thinking about this the other day.

How sometimes, because we are just so sure of how a story ends, we can make a judgment that's all wrong.

I think about how I always viewed the Garden of Eden story until just recently. I always thought God was so mean making Adam and Eve leave the garden. It always seemed to me like such a harsh punishment. And then, to place scary, fiery angels at the entrance to chase them off.

Cruel was the word I chose…

But then, years later, I heard it explained – from God's perspective.

It wasn't cruelty – it was love – tough love.

God was preventing Adam and Eve from living eternally in their state of sin. He was pushing them out of the garden, so that someday He could rescue them forever. He knew staying in the garden meant separationultimate separation – but leaving meant the chance for reconciliation.

He made them leave so they could die – and only in their dying – and the future dying of His Son – would they ever have a chance at Life!

God, wise and merciful.

The story of the Garden of Eden didn't end like I always thought it did. Not in punishment, but in provision. Not in anger, but in love.

How many other stories is God writing that I just don’t foresee the correct ending?

Or the ending at all, for that matter?

Are there situations that I have already deemed "hopeless"? Are there people I have given up on, written off because I "know" how their story ends?

Are there dreams I've put aside because I know they'll never happen?

Are there things I'll never try to do because I'm sure I'll fail?

Do I sometimes view struggles and suffering as God's punishment, when it just might be (and most probably is) His tough love for me?

What if I waited – just waited – on the Lord…

And just watched for how HE ends the stories.

Even my story.

Because I tell you what – when all is said and done, at the end of my movie, after all, Mrs. Sharon doesn't die!

Is there a story that you've already *pre-determined* how it's going to end? Might you just be wrong?!

Linked today with Joan at the GRACE CAFE

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, January 23, 2012


Sometimes things are just misunderstood.

Sometimes things get a little mixed up between the *telling* and the *hearing.*

I have a cute story.

Many years ago when my youngest was in 1st grade, he and I were walking home one day after school. I was asking him about his day, when all of a sudden he said:

"Oh yeah. Susie was back in school today. She was *on the women* for five days!"

(Note: I changed the name, just in case…)

Thinking I must have heard him wrong, I asked:

"What was wrong with her, honey?"

"She was *on the women.* For like 5 whole days."

I was instantly puzzled. Now I'd done some reading, and had heard that the onset of puberty was getting earlier and earlier because of the hormones in our food. Girls were…ahem…"becoming women" as early as 9 or 10 years old.

But, first grade?? Six??

I immediately flashed on a picture of this poor, dear little girl – all bundled up in bed with a heating pad (and other paraphernalia) – while her poor mother tried to explain the facts of life.

I remember how traumatized I was at the age of 13!

I had to get more information from my son to sort this all out.

"Sweetie, did Susie say she was *on the women*?"


"So why did you think she was *on the women*?"

"Because when you're getting better, they say you’re *on the men.* So I figured that when she was sick, she was *on the women.*"

Oh, how I chuckled. I had to keep it inside because I didn't want my son to think that I was laughing at him. But it was just so cute.

Six year old boy's logical math:

Getting well = *on the men*

Therefore: Being sick = *on the women*

I didn't have the heart to correct him. Frankly, at least in part because I thought he was a "tad" too young for all the details. Years later, when I re-told him this story, we both had a good chuckle. ("Ohhh...on the mend...")

But this story has a good lesson.

I think about my relationship with the Lord.

How often do I just misunderstand something?

How often is something lost in between the *telling* and the *hearing*?

Quite frankly, I often misunderstand what God is saying because I'm not really listening. Sometimes I just want to hear Him confirm my own thinking, or my own plans. Sometimes I interpret His words to "fit" into what I want them to say.

Sometimes it isn't even a case of misunderstanding.

Sometimes I just plain don't want to hear what He wants to say.

Selective spiritual deafness.

Why am I like this?

Because much of what the Lord has to say is tough. It's gnarly and convoluted. I have to wrestle with it.

Yup, I've had many a *Jacob* moment with God.

Because God's words often rub up against my life – they rub ME the uncomfortable way.

God is a shaper, a molder, a potter.

And quite often, this old clay is a stubborn lump.

I don't want to hear.

Because the hearing of God's wordsreal, listening hearingwell, that requires action.

Trust and obedience type action.

The tough stuff of faith.

But, frankly, I'm tired of being my old "sick" sinful self. I want to be more and more conformed to Christ. I need the Lord's words, and I need to hear themmore than I want them to make me comfortable.

I want Him – and that means I have to listen. Listen to what He's REALLY saying.

Even when it's tough love.

Yup, I think I'm finally *on the men*!

Is it hard for you to truly listen to God's words? Why?

"My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God." (Proverbs 2:1-5)

Linked today with:

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Sunday, January 22, 2012

BIBLE PICK 'EMS – Whale of a Story

OK, so I have to start with a small admission – (confession?)

I’ve *cheated* a little on my "Bible Pick 'Ems" this week. I've *hedged my bets* so to speak.

But I've got a good reason.

There are so many great verses in the Bible, so many wonderful people. And God has much to say through the stories of their lives. But, especially when it comes to those pesky minor prophets, it would be *divine luck* indeed if I "happened to land" in their chapters.

And I just don't want to miss out!

So, I sorta fudged – I picked a book, and then I "randomly" opened my Bible.

So, with my *fessin' up* over with, let's get on with the lesson.

We're in Jonah – and I like Jonah.

Jonah is like me.

Stubborn, willful, ornery (yes, I have that capability within me). Fearful, mistrustful, doubting (definitely have that within me!) And yet, in the end – lesson learned trusting and obedient (with God's help, that is also me).

We're all quite familiar with the story of Jonah, aren't we?

The small, four-chapters-long book of Jonah is packed with great stuff.

But, today I'm pondering these verses:

"I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. I sank down to the very roots of the mountains…But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you…" (Jonah 2:3-7)

Have you ever thought you were going to drown?

When I was younger – (oh, so much younger) – I used to go bodysurfing. I can remember *wiping out* all the time. It was really scary being tossed and turned, chewed and churned, by the mighty waves. The ocean can be a washing machine, for sure.

I remember being frightened, but I don't think I ever thought I was going to drown.

But, there was this other time.

I was on vacation with my parents, my sister, and my brother. We rented a cabin on Bass Lake in Northern California. And we went water-skiing…all the time.

My dad liked to get us up really early in the morning to go out – before all the other people got up – before the water got all choppy.

It was glorious water-skiing on that glassy expanse of clear water.

I remember this one morning, this one very cold morning, and I had just finished my "run." I was freezing. I had myself all bundled up in my jacket and like, two or more towels. I was wrapped like a mummy.

My brother was skiing, and my sister was keeping watch. Dad was steering the boat. Well, my brother got all "fancy" and fell trying to execute some crazy maneuver. My sister cried out to my dad to turn around, and as he leaned on the steering wheel to make a very sharp U-turn, the plastic steering wheel broke.

The boat went crazy.

And I, wrapped up like King Tut, slid erratically to one side of the boat, and then rapidly to the other. My sister tried to grab me, but I slipped out of her hand.

And so, I plunged over the side of the boat.

I was terrified!

The waters were seething around me – I was pretty sure that the outboard motor was going to shred me to bits and if that didn't kill me, then my swaddling layers would.

Somehow, (and I think it was God), those towels loosened, and I was finally able to claw my way back to the surface very nearly at the end of my breath.

I gasped, I choked – I floated there numb.

Finally, the boat made its way back to me, I was dragged on board, and that's when I freaked out. I hyperventilated, I sobbed uncontrollably. I had a total panic attack. The shivering was no longer just because of the cold.

But, I lived.

I can only imagine the horror that Jonah felt as he was sinking, entangled in seaweed, running out of breath. I'm thinking that that "random" hungry fish was a very good sight to behold! (I love how the Bible puts it: "Now the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah" – 1:17)

Here's where my lesson is for today.

Jonah said, "AS MY LIFE WAS SLIPPING AWAY, I remembered the LORD."

This sounds like me.

Why do I so often wait until the last minute to call on God?

Why do I have to be on the edge of panic before I turn to Him?

Why must I be drowning in confusion, or fear, or doubt, or any other emotion, before I finally "remember" the Lord?

Why do I wait?

I don't always, but so very often (too often) I do.

The Lord was there for Jonah, and He's always been there for me, too. I have to think, though, that many times when I finally cry out to HimHis first thought is probably this:

"What took you so long?"

I'm learning to make God my FIRST *go-to* – the One place that I immediately turn to in my times of trial and struggle. I'm practicing making my *earnest prayer* go out to God before I start to drown. I'm asking Him to save me before I start to sink.

He will.

"For my salvation comes from the LORD alone." (Jonah 2:10)

God's mercy is even deeper than those waters that threaten to overtake me. He is stronger than those fearsome waves.

He longs to rescue me, even before I need it.

So, I'm going to practice trusting and obeying in the beginning, turning to Him before I'm overwhelmed leaning on His faithfulness, relying on His ability to keep me from drowning in this life of woe sending my prayers out FIRST THING…

…so He doesn't have to *fish me out* after the fact!

Do you turn to God in the beginning of your troubles, or does He sometimes have to "send a fish"?

Linked today with Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS and Peggy at SOAKING ON SONDAY!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Saturday, January 21, 2012



In these posts I will be interacting with Scripture – making it a conversational walk of faith.

Sometimes we'll be talking with Jesus, sometimes God will be talking with us.

There might even be *guest appearances* by some of our beloved characters from the Bible!

So put on your walking shoes – you know we can all use the exercise!


I'm afraid my complaint is rebellion. But it is still a bitter one. Not that I'm bitter, Lord. I'm not resentful (maybe a little) – but life is a bitter pill to swallow – difficult to accept, often unpleasant.

I try hard not to groan aloud. But Your hand is heavy despite my groaning.

Why, Lord?

I just don't get it. It is so hard to understand You when life is difficult – when I have turmoil – when loved ones are suffering – and circumstances are impossible.

Oh, if only I knew where to find You, where You might be. If I knew that, I might come to Your seat! Yes, I would go to Your court.

I would present my case before You, laying it all out. And I would fill my mouth with my arguments.

Then I would listen to Your reply. I would learn the words that You would answer, and perceive and understand what You say to me.

Would You contend with me?

Would You use Your great power to argue with me?

No, surely You would pay attention to me. Surely You would give me a fair hearing…

…wouldn’t You?

So, I search for You.

I go forward, but You are not there. I go east, You are not there. I move backward, but I cannot perceive You. I go west, but I cannot find You.

When You act on the left, I cannot behold You. I do not see You in the north, for You are hidden. When You turn on the right, I cannot see You. I look to the south, but You are concealed.

Where are You, Lord?

Why are You silent when I need You?

Why are You hidden when I need You?

Why do I feel so alone…when I NEED You?

But I am consoled and comforted and strengthened by this one Truth.

You know the way I take. You know where I am going. And when You have tried me, tested me, I will come forth as gold – pure and unblemished.

For I have stayed on Your paths. I have held fast and followed You. I have not turned aside.

I have not departed from the commands of Your lips. I have treasured the words of Your mouth more than my necessary food.

But You are unique.

And You're a little (a lot) scary, Lord.

Once You've made a decision, who can change Your mind? What Your soul desires, whatever You want to do, that is what You do.

I know that you will do to me whatever You have planned. You will perform that which is appointed for me.

You control my destiny.

I guess my heart struggles with Your sovereignty, Lord.

And sometimes I am just so scared, and hurt, and despairing.

Darkness is all around me – thick, impenetrable darkness is everywhere. Deep gloom covers me.

But I am not silenced by the darkness.



I will bring You through the fire and make you pure. I will refine you like silver and purify you like gold. When you call on Me, I will answer. I will say –

"This is My child."

Will you trust Me?

Oh Lord, I had only heard about You before, but now I have seen You with my very own eyes.

You are the LORD, my God.


(From Job 23, Zechariah 13, Psalm 139, and Job 42 - NASB and NLT translations)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, January 20, 2012


Welcome to "Fan the Flame" Friday.

This is a weekly post that will be "short and sweet" (kinda like me...)

Just a word and a phrase, a sentence or a question...just a little something to "fan the flame" of your creativity!

Today's word: lonely

What does it feel like to be lonely?

Can you feel lonely when you're not alone?

How does God fill up the lonely places in one's heart?

Let me know what you think!!

"This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I love shoes.

Does that sound typically female? (Oh, I hope not…)

But I do have more than one pair.

No worries – I'm not even close to beating Imelda Marcos' record (anyone remember her? She had like 2700 pairs of shoes in her many closets. Can you spell OCD??)

I've got shoes for walking, and shoes for lounging. Shoes for the rain, shoes for hot days, shoes for in-between. I've got cute shoes and practical shoes. Dressy shoes, and then even dressier shoes – those would be the high heels. (Question – do shoe manufacturers realize that our feet are not shaped like Barbie's?? Just sayin'…)

Shoes have purpose.

Even if that purpose is just for making my feet look cute. (You're probably wondering – I wear a size 6. Used to be a size 5 until two babies flattened those puppies out…)

My shoes take me all over the place. I accomplish many things in my shoes. I get the *have-to* stuff done in life, the *really-ought-to* duties, the *yeah-OK-I-probably-should* things – but I also spend quite a bit of time in my *just-kicking-back* fun mode, too.

But, the other day I got to thinking.

Is there something more I'm supposed to be doing in my shoes?

And then, I was hit with a profound thought.

Someone else is literally walking in my shoes every day.


"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

I immediately had this picture in my mind. A pair of feet, shod in rather shabby, well-worn sandals. Dusty, dirty – maybe calloused and blistered. Sandals that literally walked all over the place.

I read somewhere recently that someone actually calculated the miles between the many towns and places that Jesus visited. It was rather startling. No cars, no mass transportation, not even a bicycle.

Jesus walked.

To reach people with His message – His very Good News.

Am I not to do the same?

After all, one of those wardrobe items from Scripture is the Ephesians *shoes of peace*:

"For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared." (Ephesians 6:15, NLT)

The Shoes of Peace represent our readiness to share the gospel message. We must never leave home without them.

I ponder.

Every day, and in every way, I am carrying Jesus to people.

His hands, His feet, His words – His love, His kindness, His joy, His peace.

People won't literally see His face, no – but are they seeing His face in MINE?

I'd like to think so. And I know they will be better able to see Him if I make a conscious effort to move out of HIS way and let Him do the walking and talking. I'm not going to win any souls to Christ on my own – that is the work of the Holy Spirit.

But I do believe that I make the Gospel more or less attractive by my behavior.

So I ask myself these questions:

Do I resemble the Lord?

Do I act, think, speak like Him?

Do I reach out to the ones that He would reach out to?

Am I willing to walk in His shoes for the sake of others?

Am I willing to walk in their shoes for the sake of Jesus?

The answers will have a profound impact on my priorities. They have the potential to turn my life upside down. I want them to…

So I'm putting on my Jesus sandals.

Lord, where do YOU want to go today?

How can you let Jesus walk in your shoes?

Linked today with Joan at the GRACE CAFE!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, January 16, 2012


I am an avid reader.

I read everything.

I've been this way as long as I can remember. In fact, in second grade my teacher thought I had a problem with reading, because I couldn't read out loud. She spoke to my parents, who promptly told my teacher the books I was reading at home(evidently "War and Peace" isn't "usual" 2nd grade reading material NO, I am totally kidding). Turns out it was wasn't so much a "reading" problem as much as it was a *shyness* problem…

I'm also in a neighborhood Book Club that meets once a month. We commit to reading a book each month that the group has voted on. (In case you're interested, we're reading "Fingersmith" by Sarah Waters this month).

There is an unwritten rule that the book must be read. No, if you don't read the book you won't be kicked out of the group automatically. But, you will have to face the disdainfully disappointed faces that stare at you in contempt. (It's not unlike going to the dentist and the hygienist asks if you've been flossing every day – you hang your head and mumble guiltily, "No.")

So, I read.

One month I finished an entire book (well over 500 pages) in one 10-hour marathon. Yes, I fear the faces…

But it's also a lot more fun to participate in the lively discussion that ensues.

I'm also a book purist.

I do not read the last page.

I do not skip pages.

I read any foreword or preface.

I looked up those two words, by the way. Learned something new:

Preface – A preliminary statement or essay introducing a book that explains its scope, intention, or background and is usually written by the author.

Foreword – A preface or an introductory note, as for a book, especially by a person other than the author.

So, a foreword is usually written by someone else – a preface is usually written by the author.

A preface can give you some valuable information. It gives you a *feel* for the author, and for the direction they are going to be sending you. It gives you a *window* into their mindset when they wrote the book – and it often provides a hint of their writing style. They are quite often very entertaining in themselves.

I like reading them.

But today, I'm thinking about the actual wordpreface. Being Mrs. English Major, I'm looking at that word, and breaking it down into its parts.


"Pre" is actually a prefix – (yes, some irony in that – pre is a PREfix…). It means:

Earlier than : prior to : before : preparatory or prerequisite to : in advance : beforehand : in front of

"Face" as in "to face something" is defined this way:

To confront with complete awareness : To overcome by confronting boldly or bravely.

Lots of introductory information here, dear readers. Consider it my preface to the blog post!

Here's what I'm thinking.

Jesus is my preface.

And here's all the reasons why.

He literally is the pre-beginning to all that there is. He is the Eternal One the one who precedes, predates everything.

In the Bible, He is also named the *firstfruits* of all believers.

"But the fact is that Christ (the Messiah) has been raised from the dead, and He became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [in death]."
(1 Corinthians 15:20, AMP)

Jesus is the first one to be raised from the dead into the new incorruptible body that we are all destined to inherit.

But, He is also something more.

Jesus is the One who PRE-FACES everything that happens in my life.

He is the One who has known every single day of my life since before I was born. There isn't a day on my calendar that surprises Him (rumor has it that He owns a heavenly Dayplanner all filled in!).

He's been there before, in advance, in preparation.

He goes into each moment knowing what's coming.

He's the best One to help me – because He will walk in front of me. Like the cloud of smoke by day, the pillar of fire by night.

And He will face it all with me.

He will confront my battles, my sufferings, my temptations, my fears with complete awareness. And it is only by His Spirit that I will be able to overcome these things with brave boldness.

I am daunted by many things – many feelings, many thoughts, many situations – in my life. But, the Lord is not intimidated by any of it. He holds the keys to Life and Death, after all. He has defeated the power of the Grave. He has firmly sealed my soul for eternity.

With Him on my side, what else should I fear?

(Note: The correct answer is pretty much NO ONE, NO THING…nothing)

Jesus is the preface to the story of my life.

He really is the ultimate "Been there, done that" guy.

I am so overwhelmed with gratitude by the fact that I do not walk alone. I am so awed by His omniscient presence in my life. I am trying to be humble in my submission to the One who covers my every step with His loving providence.

I'm not sure how my story is going to end (remember, even if I could, I don't read the last page of ANY book!)

But Jesus does.

And I know Him.

So He can be my Preface – my PRE-FACE.

He's the Author of my story, after all.

I'll let Him determine the plot outcome!

What are you facing or fearing today that you need Jesus to go before you?

"You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed."
(Psalms 139:16)

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Linked today with:

(A little disclaimer: I was exaggerating about the Book Club girls - they're really great!!)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

BIBLE PICK 'EMS - Reputation On the Line


It's an important thing.

The dictionary defines the word this way:


1. (a): overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general
(b): recognition by other people of some characteristic or ability

2. a place in public esteem or regard; good name

Have you ever been in a position where people spread rumors about you?

Have you ever had your reputation doubted, attacked, soiled?

A long time ago, I did something that was out of character for me, and it affected my reputation.

I was a senior in high school(I told you it was a long time ago!) At the time, I was considering a career as a teacher. So, my good friend and I enrolled in a Teacher Observation class. Once a week, we were allowed to leave campus to visit a local elementary classroom.

It was a pretty big deal – for one thing, my high school was a closed campus. That meant that we weren't allowed to leave school grounds until our day was done. No open lunchno venturing off campus if you happened to have a gap in your schedule.

So, this was a real privilege to be able to leave for a class.

However, after a couple of months, my friend convinced me that we could just tell our teachers that we had an "assembly" at school, and we wouldn't be coming to the classroom that day. Then, we'd go eat and have some fun.

After awhile, my mentor teacher caught on (I suppose he questioned two or three assemblies a month, always on the same day of the week)and he reported us.


Our supervisor called us into her office and read us the riot act.

The worst thing was all the accusations she threw at me about my character. You see, I was a VERY. GOOD. GIRL. A solid citizen, an honor student, a pretty compliant and rule-following person.

And she accused me, among other things, of being a slacker, a cheater, a liar.

It hurt.

I flashed back on this incident when I read today's "Bible Pick 'Ems." It's found in the book of Daniel.

First, a little background information.

It is the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede – (the son of Ahasuerus) – who had become the king of the Babylonian Empire. During this first year, Daniel learned that Jerusalem must lie desolate for 70 years.

I love how Daniel says it, in his very own words:

"…I, Daniel, learned from reading the word of the LORD, as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting…I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed…"

You know, you gotta love Daniel.

Here he is, trapped in exile, and yet he is faithful to his God, and to the reading of His Word. And, not only does he read the Word, he is responsive and obedient to it – he does NOT stop at reading – he acts in faith.

His prayer is beautiful.

But it's this particular passage that has me pondering:

"'Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary. O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city – the city that bears your name – lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people and your city bear your name.'"
(Daniel 9:17-19)

And here's what I'm pondering.

It's the way that Daniel prays. He prays for himself and his people, yes. But it's not what he prays for that is interesting to me – it's how he prays for it.

He calls on God's reputation.

Do you see it?!

Phrases –

For YOUR own sake, Lord, smile again…

See how YOUR city – the city that bears YOUR name…

We make this plea…because of YOUR mercy…

For YOUR own sake, do not delay…

For YOUR people and YOUR city bear YOUR name…

I've read passages like this before in the Bible. Where someone calls upon God's own reputation to move Him to act. I've often wondered about this.

Is it manipulative?

Is it self-serving?

Is it wrong?

It doesn't seem to be. At least if it's done from the proper heart-position. So, what am I missing?

I try to think of a human corollary. For instance, let's say hypothetically my son says something to me like this:

"Hey Mom, you might not want to wear your sweatpants outfit to pick me up, for your own sake."

Is he thinking about me? Or about HIS reputation – and the possible embarrassment from a sweatpants-wearing mom? Or is it somehow a combination of both?

I'm not sure I have the answers on this one, but I'm pondering.

God seems to welcome these kinds of prayers. Sometimes He even honors them.


I think it's that heart-position thing.

Daniel started his prayer with confession and repentance. He started with a humble heart, and a spirit willing to be obedient. He called on God's reputation, because he held God in such HIGH esteem. He KNEW God – and He didn't want God's reputation to be soiled because of His faulty and flawed people.

That makes sense to me.

Maybe if I begin to align my heart more truly with the God that I so highly admire and esteem – the LORD who inspires awe and reverent fear in me – then I can also ask for answered prayers for the sake of HIS honor – (of course, always yielding to His Sovereign will).

Lord, we bear Your name. Sometimes we don't wear it very well. But, in spite of all our failings, make us better ambassadors for Christ.

And for the sake of YOUR reputation, please show us mercy.

"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, FOR MY OWN SAKE, and remembers your sins no more." (Isaiah 43:25, NIV)

What do you think about this? What does it mean to call on God's reputation in prayer?

Linked today with Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS and Peggy at SOAKING ON SONDAY!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Welcome to "Saturday Stroll!"

In these posts I will be interacting with Scripture - making it a conversational walk of faith.

Sometimes we'll be talking with Jesus, and sometimes God will be talking with us.

There might even be *guest appearances* by some of our beloved characters from the Bible!

So put on your walking shoes - you know we can all use the exercise!

Sometimes God calls us to leave…

A comfortable emotional place, a complacent attitude in our faith, an easy background role – and sometimes a literal physical location.

And when God calls us to leave, He speaks…

It is time to leave your native country, your relatives, your friends, your comfort zone – and go into the land that I will show you.

But Lord, I am unfamiliar with this territory.
I'm not good with change.

I will make you great.
I will bless you, and you will be a blessing to others.

I want that, Lord.
But I'm scared.

Do not be afraid.
I have defeated your enemies for you.


Yes, really.
I will protect you and your reward will be great.

So, where do I go from here?

Do as I tell you.
I will be with you and bless you.

Thank You, Lord.

Now, I hereby confirm that I will give all these new lands to you.
And I do not break My promises.

You stand on Your name – the LORD.

I am the LORD, the God of Abraham, and Isaac.
I am giving this new territory to you.

It's still scary.

I know.

But you will not walk a step without Me.
And I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.

Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn't even aware of it.
Where He leads, I will follow.

And when you follow, I will make the way clear.

I trust You, Lord.

What an awesome place this is!
It is none other than the place where God is.

Yes, and I will accompany you into uncharted waters and unfamiliar places.

God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey.
I will present to God everything He gives me.

I am ready, Lord…


(Various selections and inspiration from passages in Genesis)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, January 13, 2012


Welcome to "Fan the Flame" Friday.

This is a weekly post that will be "short and sweet" (kinda like me...)

Just a word and a phrase, a sentence or a question...just a little something to "fan the flame" of your creativity!

Today's word: motive

What does the word motive mean?

How do you think a person's motives affect their behavior?

Can a person do a bad thing with good motives? Can a they do a good thing with bad motives?

What sorts of motives should a follower of Jesus have?

Let me know what you think!!

"This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012



You heard me right – it is not a bowl of cherries.

Have you ever looked at a bowl of cherries? "The Hub" loves cherries. And so, he often eats an entire bowl at one time. A bowl of cherries is beautiful. All those pretty, deep red, perfectly shaped, deliciously sweet cherries – all piled together – like they're posing for a still-life artist.

Yes, they present a lovely picture.

(Of course, even a bowl of cherries ends up being a huge pile of pits in the end – but I don't want to get too cynical here…)

My life isn't very often a lovely picture. It isn't all uniform, and neat, and colorful.


When it comes to my life – pasta prevails.

A tangled, intertwined, snarled pile of noodling problems, struggles, turmoil, and frustration. Sure, there are some good moments along the way – even spaghetti has sauce! But it's often just a confusing mess.

What is the proper way to eat a bowl of spaghetti?

Some aficionados are real pros. They expertly wield a fork and spoon like a surgeon uses a scalpel. Twirl perfectly into one *eatable* wad of noodles. Insert into mouth – no stragglers – and chew to your heart's delight.

I have not mastered this technique.

I slurp and slop my spaghetti like an amateur. I make a saucy mess of myself. I've even taken to chopping up my noodles into bite-size pieces. Seems kinda like cheating to me, though. Evidently, I'm a pasta purist, even if I can't wrestle it into submission.

This is how I seem to deal with my spaghetti life.

Daunted by the twisted and jumbled mess that real-life living is, I muddle my way through.

But truthfully, isn't this the way it is for all of us?

We all struggle with a life that doesn't quite play out the way we would like. We can't control all the events, or people, or relationships, or circumstances. (Disclaimer: You can't – I've tried). As much as we'd like to run the show, we don't.

Why am I so dismayed – and comforted – by that fact?

I am not in control.

There is a part of me that really bucks up against that truth. Some part of me wants to be in control. I'd like to dictate how things happen.

I'd like everyone in my family to be healthy, happy, and financially stable. I'd like my marriage to be the perfect picture of communication and cooperation. What else? Dogs would live to be 100 (in human years), there would never be natural disasters, nothing would ever break or break down, and there would definitely never be death or taxes.

If I ran the world, things would be perfect.

There's just one problem.

I'm not perfect.

(I know – I've shattered your perception of me. But keep it a secret, OK? I've still got some people fooled…)

It's hard to look at a life that's not perfect, isn't it?

I ponder this…

How did God feel after that whole Garden of Eden *apple* debacle?

Because, after all, He had created a perfect bowl-of-cherries world. Without pits. It was all good – very good – by God's standard. Life was pretty, perfectly shaped, deliciously sweet. All according to God's holy standard, His wise design.

And then, it turned into a bowl of spaghetti.

I'm sure it broke His heart.

Does God long for Eden, like I long for a perfect life?

Oh, I'm sure that He does. And I happen to think that's why we long for a perfect life. We have God's image stamped on us – He has placed eternity in our hearts. There is something in our spirits that longs for a return to the beginning to the way "things were supposed to be."

It's programmed into us.

And that's why life is hard – at least in part. We know that this ISN'T the way it's supposed to be.

God knows it, too.

And He's done, and is still doing, and will do something about it.

He sent His Son, so our relationship to Him can be restored. And through His Son, one day all things will be remade. Everything back to perfect order, all working in perfect unison – no mess, no problems, no worries…

So, in the meantime, what to do?

Well, for me, the thing that makes the most sense is to trust the One who has the original blueprints. The One who invented the recipe of life. The One who masterfully cooks the whole of my life – the good, the bad, and the ugly – into a beautiful sumptuous meal.

Yes, I'm still going to thrash around in the spaghetti. I'm going to make a mess with the sauce. I'm going to slurp and slop in my poor attempts to master life.

But I'm also going to let God teach me.

Teach me how to let go of the past – the things that I can't change.

Teach me how to live in the present – and be satisfied with His daily bread.

Teach me how to hope for the future – when all things will be made right again.

And I will pray for the peace to accept that my longing is proof that there is another day coming – a wonderful forever – when life will be a bowl of cherries.

Just perfect.

No pits.

How does God help you with your *spaghetti life*?

(SIDENOTE: See post below for a short - and sweet - explanation of the new blog look!)

Linked today with Joan at the GRACE CAFE!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"



I snuck one by you guys!

I've been seeing a lot of people changing their blogs around, and I've been thinking about it myself lately. So, last night when I got yet another case of insomnia, I started experimenting!

I was up half the night...

I love all things western. And this background reminded me of the many weathered structures "The Hub" and I see when we visit old ghost towns - (one of our very favorite things to do).

It was called *barnwood* - and it charmed me with its rustic and earthy look.

I also thought it might be appropriate to go along with my little profile photo. Thinking of billing myself as a "Cowgirl for God!"

One frustrating thing, though. The template automatically chooses certain things and you can't change it. So, whatever text color I picked for the blog post automatically became the text for several of the gadgets - (read "it forced me"). I prefer a lighter background/black text, but the black text disappeared on the sidebar, and couldn't be changed.

This was the best compromise I could come up with - hope it's easy enough to read.

I'm thinking that this new look will symbolize *wide open spaces* to spread the Word, as I venture into the *wild frontiers* that God will lead me to in 2012.


(Disclaimer: I'm still not sure if I'm going to stick with this or not...LOL)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, January 9, 2012


I go to church in another town.

It's about a 20-minute drive.

It's OK – I like my church. It's where my sons go, and it's nice to worship with them there. The pastor teaches me a lot. I feel at home there.

And the drive is really rather pleasant.

Yes, part of the way involves the 405 freeway – (trust me, if you live in Southern California, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't – well, picture a NASCAR race, add a thousand more cars, and then consider yourself lucky that you don't live near the 405…)

But part of the way I drive by some wide, open spaces. Yes, there are some open spaces in Southern California OK, maybe not WIDE open – but fields and hills.

And just about every single Sunday I see the most wonderful sight.

On the top of a random streetlight, I see a huge hawk.

Some Sundays I see more than one – like yesterday, I saw one going to church, and one coming home.

First of all, these hawks have got to be pretty big. Because they look big to me, even though they're probably about 30 feet up in the air. The one word that comes to my mind is majestic.

And they don't say that someone has "eyes like a hawk" for nothing. Those hawks are perfectly still, perfectly focused on the ground – always watching, always on alert – nothing escapes their single-minded concentration.

So yes, yesterday morning I saw a hawk.

And I thought about God.

It's almost like He's the hawk He sees me, faithfully driving to church.

It hasn’t always been like this. Though I've been a believer for many (many) years, and have attended church for most of my life, there was a period of time when I didn't go. A very long period of time I'm ashamed to admit that, a bit sad to admit that. I didn't realize how much more difficult life was without fellowship and teaching.

But, God grabbed hold of me a few years ago, and He hasn't let go. And part of my faithful return to His side involved regularly attending church again.

So I looked at that hawk – and saw God.


The One who is perfectly still and immovable in my life, perfectly focused on every detail and every moment of it. He is always watching, always on alert. Nothing escapes His single-minded concentration on me.

Is that awesome or what?!

I am reminded of one of my favorite names for God – EL ROI.

It's the name that Hagar used for God.

Hagar had a rather…ahem…"complicated" relationship with her mistress, Sarai (Sarah). At one point she ended up running away. She found herself pregnant, alone, scared. But God found her – and He said some remarkable things to her:

"…where have you come from, and where are you going?"

He knew – but He wanted Hagar to know that He knew…

"…the LORD has heard your cries."

What blessed comfort.

"Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, 'You are the God who sees me.'"

El Roi.

Hagar's wilderness experience brought her face-to-face with God. It taught her that "I AM" is the living God who SEES our plight and HEARS our cries. He is a personal God who cares for those who trust Him.

I am encouraged by this meeting. It helps me remember that even in the most painful trials, I may also have the most intimate and close encounters with God.

He loves me.

I am reminded of that unchangeable fact almost every Sunday when I see those hawks.

You know, yesterday morning on my drive to church, I looked up at that hawk. And I saw God – seeing me. I smiled and said to myself, "I'm on my way to Your house, Lord."

And He said, "I know."

I think the hawk saluted me with his wing.

And then, as an added bonus, on my way home I saw yet another hawk, soaring over the hills. A tear came to my eye as I felt in my heart the presence of El Roithe One who soars over my life, watching my every step…

The One who sees…


What does the name "El Roi" mean to you?

Today I am linked with Joan - SHARING HIS BEAUTY with joy!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"