Wednesday, November 30, 2011



Ready for some "California Whining" on such a winter's day? (Thank you "Mamas and Papas"…)

Before any of you bloggers out there look down in disdain at this California girl, let me be the first person to say that yes, we Californians are *winter wienies.* We complain when it gets below 50 degrees, we absolutely cannot drive in the rain, and we have been known to stare in dismay as a select (very) few trees actually turn orange and lose their leaves.

That's my California disclaimer…

But, still – when the weather turns colder and wetter, my body starts to ache. My joints are not jumpin' – they are creaking, grinding, and swollen.

Especially my knees.

Also, I've been a victim of terrible headaches since I was a young girl. Not sure if they're "typical" migraines I don't get the weird little lights that they call a migraine *aura* – but they definitely send me to a darkened, silent room with an upset stomach. And I seem to get these headaches more during cold weather.

Do you guys have your hankies out yet?!

My point is this – winter sets off all sorts of alarms in my body.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself in church on a very stormy day (actually stormy – not just California "stormy"). I had to run to the sanctuary through pouring rain – it was very cold and windy, too (actually cold – not just California "cold"). I found my sons, and sat down with them. I was wet, freezing cold, and I hurt my joints were on fire, and my head was pounding in pain. I sat there and tried to re-adjust my attitude. It was, after all, time for worship…

I looked to the front stage of our church – they have this huge wooden cross up there. And it's always lit up in some way. This Sunday, there was a wash of red light across it. I spoke to Jesus…

"You know, Lord, I'm really hurting today. And much of this pain has become sorta chronic. It distracts me, it sidelines me, it's making it difficult to negotiate life sometimes. Am I always going to have to deal with this – for the rest of my entire life? I'm tired, Lord."

There was silence.

At first I was frustrated. Is the Lord just going to ignore me pouring out my heart?

No…He wasn't.

He was just waiting for the quiet moment – soon I felt the still, small presence of Him near.

And then, something inside of me changed. I felt a rush of power and peace. An undergirding of strength. An infusion of encouragement and joy. And a great truth began to wash over me as I stared at that cross.

It doesn't matter.

It really doesn't matter what my body does or what it feels like.

And with a determination that I didn't know was in me, I said this to that cross:

"You know what, Lord?! SO WHAT? So what if my body hurts the rest of my life? So what if I always suffer from these stupid headaches? So what if I struggle with suffering? So what if the enemy plagues me every single day of my life until I die? SO WHAT…

If I have pain the rest of my life, it doesn't matter. If you choose not to remove my particular *thorns in the flesh* – OK, I can deal with that. You had a reason to leave Paul's with him – so I can accept that You have a reason to leave mine.


I can still serve You. I can still speak out. I can still write about You and walk with You and worship You.

And Lord, I will love YOU forever in spite of anything else that comes up against me. It's all nonsense when compared to the joy of knowing YOU!"

I smiled.

And then my smile just got bigger and bigger.

Because, you see, while I had been talking, Jesus had stepped down from that cross, made His way across the aisles, walked through the crowd, and found His way right next to me. He'd sat down and put His arm around my shoulder.

"Yes, Sharon. You've got it! You and me together, it's all that really matters. As for all the rest of it?"

He paused...

And then we said together, "SO WHAT!"

The holy *SO WHAT* that puts everything else into piercingly clear perspective. The *SO WHAT* that doesn't ignore the tough stuff of lifebut subordinates it to the tremendous privilege of walking every step of life with the Lord. The *SO WHAT* that chooses to claim every "thorn" that comes along as a medal.

A sign of battles waged, and wars won by the One.

The only One who matters at all.


So what?!

"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Philippians 3:8)

What are the things that plague your spirit? With the Lord's help, can you say SO WHAT?

It's time for Joan's GRACE CAFE - C'mon over and join us!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, November 28, 2011


I was having a conversation with my son the other day.

We like to talk about life and faith.

He's wise, that young man. I'd love to say that he got his wisdom from his mother. But, since most of you know quite a bit about that mother, you know that can't be true!!

This day we were discussing some of the many trials that arise in life. How sometimes the narrow way is fraught with confusion. How it’s difficult to stand strong, let alone stand firm. How following Jesus is sometimes daunting(cross-carrying costs something…)

He asked me a rhetorical question –

"What can we do about it, Mom?"

I told him – "Hold fast."

All of a sudden, I was reminded of something that happened when "The Hub" and I visited my brother a couple of weeks ago. He lives by the ocean. We ate at a restaurant on the San Clemente pier. I had the most delicious salmon fillet. And I've got to tell you, a piece of fish never tastes better than when you eat it outdoors in the ocean breeze.

After eating, we walked along the beach.

I collected rocks.

(Oh, the joy of my rocks!)

The beach was littered with giant strands of kelp. (Kelp trivia – I like stepping on the little *bulbs* that are connected to the stalks. They make a really fun "POP" sound – like my knees). Evidently, a recent storm had churned up the kelp beds laying a few hundred yards offshore.

My brother told us that those kelp beds were artificial – (not the kelp!)

Here's the backstory on that (from 2008):

"SAN CLEMENTE – State and utility officials applauded the completion yesterday of the world’s first artificial kelp reef, which they say will provide a thriving habitat for fish and marine organisms for decades.

Spread over two miles south of San Clemente Pier, the pioneering reef was undertaken by Southern California Edison to make up for environmental damage caused by the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. (Editorial opinion here: Boo, San Onofre!! The damage wasn't radioactive, by the way, or I would glow in the dark...)

The 175-acre reef was constructed by dumping 120,000 tons of rock ranging from the size of a soccer ball to a miniature refrigerator in a patchwork over an area about 1 mile by 2½ miles, at a depth of 30 feet to 50 feet.

David Kay, Southern California Edison’s manager of environmental projects, said the rocks must be large enough to anchor the kelp, which are algae that can grow 1½ to 2 feet a day to a length of 120 feet.

Some of the rocks have to be light enough so the ocean can toss them about, to shake off organisms that crowd out the kelp.

The reef will add marine habitat to the Southern California coast by nourishing as many as 50 varieties of fish and invertebrates.

The reef is named for the late Wheeler North, a California Institute of Technology scientist and kelp researcher."

I find this information fascinating, by the way.

So, as we're walking along the beach, we came upon a HUGE piece of kelp. It had to have been at least 20 feet long. And attached at the bottom of this kelp was a huge clump of…well, for lack of a better word…clump. A thick, roundish, glob of tiny intertwined tubes of seaweed. It looked like the aquatic version of a massive root system.

My brother said to me, "You know what they call that, don't you?"


"They call it the holdfast."

I googled it as soon as I got home.

"A holdfast is a root-like structure that anchors aquatic organisms, such as seaweed. Holdfasts vary in shape and form – often having complex tangles of root-like growths. The holdfasts of organisms that live on smooth surfaces (such as the surface of a boulder) have the base of the holdfast literally glued to the surface."

Light bulb moment.

Yes, you see it too, don't you?

When I told my son to "Hold fast" – all of a sudden, I saw the spiritual lesson found in God's creation.

Each of us is like a piece of kelp. And we must *hold fast* to the rock – The Rock – which anchors us against the storms and currents of life. Just as the kelp is moved and jostled and sometimes thrashed by the motion of the sea, we are tossed and turned by circumstances too. But just like the kelp, firmly anchored by its holdfast, we are firmly held in place.

We are literally glued to the Lord.

Come what may – we "go with the flow"buffeted perhaps by the stormy waves, but never loosened from our connection to the Rock that holds us.

We will never be swept away.

Hold fast, dear friends, hold fast.

How do you hold fast to the Lord when the narrow way gets a little stormy?

I'm linking up with Joan - it's a great day to be SHARING HIS BEAUTY!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

BIBLE PICK 'EMS - Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones
May break my bones,
But words will never hurt me.

Who ever came up with that one??

It's the silliest thing I've ever heard.

Any of us know that words have the power to injure us deeply to hurt us where the wounds don't show.

And taunting is a powerful weapon.

I've had times in my life when other people hurt me by giving me unflattering nicknames, by making fun of me, by teasing and poking at my shortcomings.

I'm sure you have, too.

It isn't fun.

It hurts – a lot.

Today I am reminded of something else, though. We are told in God's Word that we do not battle against flesh and blood. That we have a very real, and very fierce, enemy.

Satan – the Accuser.

And he loves taunting the faithful. Nothing delights him more than persecuting God's own children.

He is cruel and conniving and clever and cold-hearted. His words have the power to destroy. He fashions weapons uniquely tailor-making them for each individual. Honed to evil perfection, he aims those weapons at our weakest spots. And oh, how it hurts when they find their target.

Sometimes I think I can hear him cackle…

It gets discouraging sometimes, doesn't it? Constantly being attacked by someone who hates you so much. His words feel like spiritual sticks and stones – and they break us.

You know what I think his worst words are?

"Where is your God?"

Sometimes the enemy has other people deliver those words, and sometimes he whispers them himself into our very souls.

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" is found in Psalms, and I think it is a rousing answer to that particular taunt:

"So many are saying, 'God will never rescue him!'
But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
I cried out to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy mountain.
I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side.
Arise, O LORD!
Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!
Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
Victory comes from you, O LORD.
May you bless your people." (Psalms 3:2-8)

Can I get a holy WOO HOO from my blogging audience?!

I want to break this passage down a bit.

First of all, sometimes the best answer to any taunt from the enemy is these words – But God…

In spite of all the accusations, all the attacks, all the posturing and taunting – there are the simple words – BUT GOD.

Tell me what you may, enemy of mine, BUT GOD has saved me. You may try to enslave me, BUT GOD has broken the power of sin and death in my life. You may try to make me feel guilty, BUT GOD has forgiven and redeemed me. You may try to tell me that I am worthless, BUT GOD loves me.

Second, God is a shield.

From the book of Ephesians, we are told that the shield of God is a powerful defensive weapon: "…hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil." (Ephesians 6:16)

The shield of GodFaith, the unswerving belief in God's Truth is impenetrable. It surrounds us with protection. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but faith will save our souls.

Third, God is our glory.

We are weak, He is strong. Paul tells us to boast only in what Jesus Christ has done for us. But oh, we can boast on THAT proudly, confidently, hopefully! It is our Savior's gift of salvation, and His promise of life everlasting, that enables us to hold our heads high. We can be proud because we reflect HIS glory.

Fourth, the Lord hears us.

He listens to our cries. He doesn't miss a thing. He hears the loud wails, the silent tears, the grief that's too deep to express. We are given this tremendous promise:

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle." (Psalms 56:8)

And I believe that one day all those tears will be poured out in Heaven – mixed with the blood of Christ – a final offering that will be swallowed up in the joy of everlasting lifenever to be wept again.

Next, God gives us peace.

He never slumbers, He never sleeps. He is watching over us all the time. He hovers over us like parents over the crib of a newborn baby. Ever watchful, ever vigilant, ever our jealous and protective Father.

We are not out of His sight…ever!

Not even when we are surrounded by enemies not even when we are accused or attacked, not even when we're the victims of persecution. Not even when it's the devil himself posturing and taunting. Rest assured, God sees.

So finally, because of all this, we can do some *trash talking* back to that old enemy of ours – (a sports term for "the art of telling another person off"):

The LORD will arise, my enemy.
My God will rescue me.
He will slap you in the face!
He will shatter your wicked teeth!
Victory comes from Him.
And He WILL bless His people.

Take that, you tired old devil.

God has spoken.


How can you claim these verses in your fight against the Accuser?

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Saturday, November 26, 2011



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 to 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!

Lord, how come You do things so backwards sometimes?

I've just celebrated Thanksgiving, and there are many things that I'm grateful for. But honestly, You tell me to be thankful for the *tough stuff* of life, too.

Don't You?

Yes, dear one, I do.

Lord, will You speak a good word to me on that?


I tell you, don't be surprised when fiery trials come your way. Really! Why do you think it so strange? Didn't the world persecute Me?

I want you to be thankful - indeed, very glad - for these trials.

Lord, why on earth WHY?

Because, these trials make you partners with Me! It was My suffering that redeemed you - and it was My suffering that made you right with God. My suffering that was the perfect sacrifice - and My suffering that gave you freedom from sin and death.

Yes, Lord - I am eternally grateful for that.

Sweet child, I'm glad you brought up eternity. For that is the ultimate result of suffering. You will one day have the wonderful JOY of seeing My glory when I reveal it to the world!


Yes, really! So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian - and that includes all the suffering that this tired old world sends your way - for it is then, in the midst of your suffering, that the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.

Oh Lord, I couldn't endure without Your Spirit.

I know. So consider these times of trouble to be an opportunity for joy. You know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. I consider your spiritual maturity a prize well worth the cost of suffering. Because when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfected and complete.

Yes, Lord, that is my goal, too. I just don't like the *tough* way I have to learn sometimes.

Sweet one, gold is never refined by gentle sifting. It is purified by fire. And trials will show that your faith is genuine. When your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring much praise and glory and honor on the day when I am revealed.

Lord, I just get so tired sometimes.

I know. But remember, I am renewing your spirit every day. So don't give up. Your present troubles are small, and they won't last very long. Don't look at the troubles you can see now - fix your gaze on the things that cannot be seen. Someday all of this will be over - and you will see how everything worked together to produce for you a glory. And, great news, this glory will last forever!

Lord, what an awesome reward!

It gives me great joy to bestow this reward on you!

I have made you right in the sight of My Father, and I have given you peace with Him because of what I've done. Trust Me, eternal glory is going to far outshine and vastly outweigh the troubles of this world.

I believe that, Lord. Will You help me endure?

Of course. Your endurance is building strong character, and that strength of character is what enables you to understand your confident hope of salvation.

And, believe Me, your hope will NOT be disappointed!

Lord, I think that's the best promise of all!

Yes! And one more thing...I want you to always remember this. I have told you all of this so that you may have peace in Me. Not peace like you might understand it - absence of anxiety, safety from troubles, lack of uncertainty, health and wealth security. No, My peace is different.

Though you will have many trials and sorrows on this earth, I want you to take heart. And here's the secret to that...


Yes, Lord! Nothing can ever separate me from You.

No, dear one. Nothing, no one, not ever.

And one day, I am coming back for you.

Yes, Lord - come soon!

(Today's stroll was taken from 1 Peter, James, Romans, 2 Corinthians, and John. God's Word speaks...)

(SIDENOTE: I am enjoying these *strolls* so much, that I have decided to do them more often. Hence, "QUAINT WORDS" will be on hiatus for awhile. I changed my mind, woman's prerogative!!)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, November 25, 2011


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: abundant

What do you think of when you hear the word abundant?

How does the word abundant compare with words like ample, enough, sufficient, necessary?

How do you reconcile the idea of an abundant life in Christ with the reality of trials, struggles, and suffering?

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, November 23, 2011


Thanksgiving Day.

Ah yes – a day of family, fellowship, and food – lots and lots of food!

But, have we forgotten the original intent of this very special day?

I have copied below the original proclamation of a national Thanksgiving Day written by George Washington. It's long – so I've highlighted the portions that I think are so very important:

"Proclamation of National Thanksgiving

George Washington

City of New York, October 3, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have...requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God...

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection...for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence...for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed...for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of render our national government a blessing to all the people...and to bless them with good government, peace, and he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789."

The first Thanksgiving Day was not about family, fellowship, and food. It was all about our Almighty God, the Creator of everything, and the Giver of good blessings. The focus of thanksgiving was correctly aimed at the One who is responsible for everything we have – including our very lives.

The correct view of things is that this is a day to give thanks to God.

God to whom we owe our hearts. God who gave His Son as a sacrifice for us. God who loves us beyond measure. God who gives us abundance in this life, and a hope for life everlasting!

Family, fellowship, and food? Well, that's just added gravy!

So, in every real sense, though Thanksgiving Day is set aside as a national holiday – and most people will have their focus on everything else BUT God – may we as believers remember why we have anything to be thankful for. It is because of God – all because of God.

We should have an attitude of thankfulness every single day of our lives.

So, dear brothers and sisters in Blog Land, have a wonderful day enjoying the bountiful blessings that come from a faithful and benevolent Lord.

Happy Thanksgiving Life!!

Linked today with Joan at the GRACE CAFE - a bit of fellowship before the feast!

***(This next part is optional – just for fun!!)***

Here's some added trivia in case you need something to read while digesting the 10 pounds of food you just "stuffed" into your belly! (Or if you want to impress all those relatives with your scintillating knowledge of random and inconsequential facts. I've added a little commentary here and there to keep you awake):

Though many competing claims exist, the most familiar story of the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony, in present-day Massachusetts, in 1621. (The Pilgrims wore their best black and white. The Indians wore…well, next to nothing).

The Wampanoag Indians were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land. The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621. He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast. (Perhaps he really took to heart the words of Jesus – "But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good…" – Matthew 5:44-45)

The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days. (Which is the average amount of time I sleep after my feast…)

Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast. (Actually, that sounds pretty good! Guess I better start putting out my lobster traps…)

The pilgrims didn't use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers. (In my family, this tradition often continues…)

More than 200 years later, President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. Sarah Josepha Hale, the enormously influential magazine editor and author who waged a tireless campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday in the mid-19th century, was also the author of the classic nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Her letter to Abraham Lincoln finally persuaded him to issue a 'Thanksgiving Proclamation' on October 3, 1863, officially setting aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving. (Notice that Sarah did not recommend eating any lamb on that day…)

In 1939, President Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving would take place on November 23rd, not November 30th, as a way to spur economic growth and extend the Christmas shopping season. (Wow, as if we need more days for that!)

Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday by passing a law on December 26, 1941, ensuring that all Americans would celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year. (Was that the last time we were unified on anything in this country??)

Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States. (A bald turkey just isn't quite as majestic to me as a bald eagle… just sayin')

The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds. (Which is about the average that I think I ate last year at the dinner table…)

The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog. (Good grief. Can you even imagine?! Great Dane? Nothing compared to a Great Turkey…)

A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat. (Personally, I'm a dark meat fan – how about you?)

The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey is as a sandwich, in stew, chili or soup, casseroles and as a burger. (I prefer not to serve any "leftover turkey" at my house. I usually just tell them to leave – "Uncle Joe, you turkey, you need to GO HOME NOW!")

Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef. (Didn't know that one…)

In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations. (Why do I always feel so sorry for the turkeys? Poor things. Delicious – but still...)

Each year, the average American eats somewhere between 16 - 18 pounds of turkey. (Do any of you eat turkey on other occasions? Or do you inhale that 16-18 pounds in one sitting??)

Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States. (Doesn't surprise me – I've always thought my state was full of the most "turkeys" in the nation…)

Although Thanksgiving is widely considered an American holiday, it is also celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada. (Hmmm…didn't know that one. Guess Canada has a lot to be thankful for, too!)

Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, where it is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season. (And, incidentally, the beginning of the traditional nervous breakdown season, outrageous debt season, and road rage mania season that sweeps this country. Tranquilizer anyone?? *This isn't true – I made it up…*)

The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimated that 42.2 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2010. (Maybe this has something to do with the beginning of the aforementioned road rage phenomenon…)

Cranberry production in the U.S. is expected to reach 750 million pounds in 2011. Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington are the top cranberry growing states. (Gotta love cranberries – they're tart and tangy – just like me...)

Illinois, California, Pennsylvania and New York are the major pumpkin growing states, together they produced 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkin in 2010. Total U.S. production was over 1.5 billion pounds. (Ever heard of the GNP? You thought it meant Gross National Product. Nope. Gourd National Product…)

The sweet potato is most plentifully produced in North Carolina, which grew 972 million pounds of the popular Thanksgiving side dish vegetable in 2010. Other sweet potato powerhouses included California and Mississippi, and the top producing states together generated over 2.4 billion pounds of the tubers. (I can do sweet potatoes. Yams? Not so much…)

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured just over 12 feet long. It was baked on October 8, 2005 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio, and included 900 pounds of pumpkin, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, 155 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of sugar, 3.5 pounds of salt, 7 pounds of cinnamon, 2 pounds of pumpkin spice and 250 pounds of crust. (I don't care how big that thing was – I'm just not a fan of pumpkin pie. I think it's the texture or something. And don't even get me started on mincemeat pie. No, I'll take apple pie or some kind of berry pie instead, any day – in fact, why don't you slice me up a piece right now...)

So, why are you sleepy after a big turkey dinner? It's a combination of the type of food (carbs, fats, L-tryptophan), amount of food, and celebratory atmosphere. (Zzzzzzzz…)

HAVE A GREAT DAY, my friends!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, November 21, 2011


Roy is a spider.

A very big spider.

I didn't make friends with him right away.

At first, I had to make sure what kind of spider he was. Having satisfied myself that he was NOT a Brown Recluse(and that my life wasn't in any immediate danger) – I further researched and found out he was a Garden Orb Weaver.

Hence, the name Roy – as in Roy ORBison. (I hear groaning out there in Blog Land…)

Actually Roy might be a she – he might be Charlotte (as in Charlotte's Web – more groaning?!) – but I like the name Roy. Plus, I skipped Biology class on the day they taught us how to determine the sex of spiders. (Do you just go up and ask them?)

So, let me tell you the story of Roy.

One morning about two months ago – a cold, drizzly, foggy morning – I saw this rather spectral, flimsy, ghost-like "something" shimmering at the corner of my kitchen window. I have a sunshade on this garden window, so it wasn't clear right away what I was looking at. I pulled the shade up – and there was Roy. Firmly planted right in the middle of a web of sparkling diamond dewdrops.


I gotta tell you, Roy makes an impressive web.

It's all uniform, symmetrical, intricate. And it's huge! Probably measures about 18 – 20 inches across. (I haven't actually measured it because I just don't have the heart to interfere with his business by sticking my tape measure up in his face!)

Since that morning, I've checked on him every day.

One day he was gone. Or at least I thought so. But later that day, in the pre-evening dusky light, there he was – patiently reconstructing another web. Evidently, once in awhile he takes down an old web – I watched him do it once – and then makes another new one later on.

One day it was really windy. Roy's web developed a gaping hole in one side of it. No worries. Next morning all the necessary repairs were made.

And one day "The Hub" – forgetting about Roy – walked around the corner of the house and pretty much destroyed the web. I got all upset –

"Where's Roy? Did you hurt him?"

Yes, for a spider.

But, have no fear, next morning Roy was back – just like the faithful little sentinel he is.

I like watching what he catches. Mostly it's just gnats and teeny little creatures that I can barely see. Once he got a fly. Feast time for Roy.

I know someday he's going to be gone. It's just the way their lives are. But until then, I like having Roy around.

Would you believe that he's taught me some things about God? (You know me…)

First of all, Roy has taught me about perseverance. He has taught me how to withstand the inclement elements of this world. We face a lot of "stuff" on this old, fallen planet...

Sometimes our carefully constructed *webs* get gaping holes in them, sometimes they get destroyed, sometimes someone just plows right into us, and sometimes we find that we need to completely dismantle them and start all over again.

I find that discouraging.

But not Roy.

You see, Roy has a purpose. And that is to catch things for sustenance – and to make other spiders.

I've got a purpose, too.

It's not that dissimilar really. Spiritually, I also need to "catch" the things of God for sustenance – and then, I am to go out and spread the Word to make other disciples.

I ought not tire of the work.

Roy doesn't. And why? Because that’s what he was made to do.

Second, Roy has taught me about how to catch things. I read about the webs of Garden Orb Weavers. It's really quite fascinating.

You see, the Garden Orb Weaver does not use poison to kill their prey, nor sticky threads in their web. No, their threads can be recognized by their fuzzy appearance, which captures prey by a Velcro-like mechanism.

And Roy has a special body part made just for spinning his web. He has a cribellum:

"The cribellum is a silk spinning organ found in certain spiders. Unlike normal spinnerets, the cribellum consists of one or more plates covered in thousands of tiny spigots. These spigots produce extremely fine fibers which are combed out by the spider's calamistrum, producing silk with a wooly texture. The fibers are so small in diameter that prey insects easily become entangled in them, without any glue needed." (From Wikipedia)

Before you think this is a class on spiders(and no, there isn't going to be a pop quiz) – let me tell you why I liked this information.

It has something to do with how we attract others to Christ. How we win them with our words. How to make the Good News something they want to hear about.

We don't need to poison them with a "holier-than-thou" attitude.

We don't need to be all "sticky" – with a thousand "thou shalt not's" clogging up the way to the cross.

We do need to send out numerous little tendrils of friendship, and time, and prayer, and acceptance.

We do need to speak Truthbut Truth mixed in with large, large amounts of Love. We need to be *fuzzy.* (You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar).

We do need to entangle others in our joy, to capture them by our peace, to snare them with our hope.

No glue needed.

And finally, Roy taught me one other thing.

His steady little presence has been reassuring.

I've come out first thing every morning and looked for him. And there he is. Just like the day before. Just like the night before.

Steadfast, dependable, reliable.

Sound like anyone else?!

Roy is like the Lord.

Steadfast, dependable, reliable. Unmoving in His presence in my life. I can count on Him to be there. Just like the day before. Just like the night before. The Bible promises that the One who watches over me never slumbers, never sleeps. What a comfort that is.

My question is this – am I coming out first thing every morning and looking for Him?

I should be.

His steady presence is the only reassuring thing in this life.

So, as I finish this post, I'm going to go and look out my window at Roy (love my laptop!)

OH! He's on the move. He's crawling around. What's he up to? Is he repairing or re-constructing his web? Is he getting it all ready to catch some stuff? Is he feeding on the nourishment he's worked so hard to procure?

Don't know.

But, he sure is cute out there. And his web, though barely visible to the naked eye, is right this minute shining brightly in the mid-afternoon light.

Dear Lord – oh, that I might weave like Roy!

What kind of web are you weaving?

Today I am linked with Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

BIBLE PICK 'EMS - Empty Words

How the mighty have fallen.

That phrase came to my mind when I read the Scripture for today's "Bible Pick 'Ems." It is an excerpt from the account of a confrontation between King Hezekiah of Judah and Sennacherib, the fearful leader of the Assyrian people, as told by the prophet Isaiah.

I thought it might be fun today to do a sort of *play-by-play* of this confrontation.

Let's start with a little history lesson:

"Sennacherib (pronounced Sin-ahhe-criba) was an Assyrian ruler in Mesopotamia who reigned from 704-681 BC. He is known in history for the destruction of Babylon in 689 BC and for his siege on Jerusalem that was under the Hebrew King, Hezekiah in 701 BC (see II Kings 18:13). He spent a good portion of his leadership protecting what his predecessors and namely his father, Sargon II, had established.
 Sennacherib became the first Assyrian ruler to rebuild Nineveh and make it his capital city…We get a lot of information on his conquests from the discovery of what is known as Sennacherib's Prism, a six-sided clay cylinder-like document which contains the story of his conquests. A Colonel R. Taylor during a mid-19th-century archeological study discovered it in the ruins of Nineveh. The prism is now on display at the British Museum." (from

Here's an interesting excerpt from that prism – Sennacherib's account of his initial invasion into Judah:

"Because Hezekiah, king of Judah, would not submit to my yoke, I came up against him, and by force of arms and by the might of my power I took 46 of his strong fenced cities; and of the smaller towns which were scattered about, I took and plundered a countless number… Then upon Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of my arms…"

Amazing, isn't it, how his arrogant tone still carries all these centuries later?

The Biblical account of Sennacherib's siege details Sennacherib's attack on Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem. Hezekiah had rebelled against the Assyrians, so they had captured all of the towns in Judah. Hezekiah, realizing his error, sent great tribute to Sennacherib. But the Assyrians were not deterred – they marched toward Jerusalem anyway. Sennacherib sent his supreme commander with an army to besiege Jerusalem. The supreme commander met with Hezekiah's officials and threatened them to surrender, while hailing insults so the people of the city could hear, blaspheming Judah and particularly Jehovah.

"This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don't let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria…They have completely destroyed anyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different?" (Isaiah 37:10-11)

Dripping with sarcasm and pride, isn't it?

When King Hezekiah heard of this, he tore his clothes (as was the custom of the day for displaying deep anguish) and prayed to Jehovah in the Temple.

"After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord's Temple and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed…'Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib's words of defiance against the living God…Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power…'" (Isaiah 37:14-15, 17, 20)

I love that the very first thing King Hezekiah did was to turn toward the Lord. He laid out his problem before the Lord all the frightening and daunting details – and then he prayed. He prayed his heart – he prayed his heart out.

Isaiah the prophet told the king that Jehovah would take care of the whole matter and that he would return to his own lands.

"Because you prayed about King Sennacherib of Assyria, the LORD has spoken this word against him…'Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel!'" (Isaiah 37:21-23)

YAY! God is coming to the rescue.

That night, the angel of Jehovah killed 185,000 Assyrian troops. (Jewish tradition maintains that the angel Gabriel was the angel sent to destroy the Assyrian troops, and that the destruction occurred on Passover night). Sennacherib soon returned to Nineveh in disgrace.

The Bible says it this way: "Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home…and stayed there." (Isaiah 37:37)

If you really try to put yourself into this story – if you really try to picture all the characters and actionit's incredibly exciting! It's scary as the enemy troops threaten. It's humbling as the enemy king pompously struts about, bragging about all his power. It's inspiringas King Hezekiah turns to the only source of his sure hope, God. It's thrilling as God rides in on a "white horse" of rescue, and saves His people!

On a personal level, our story is no less different.

We face a powerful enemy, who takes great delight in threatening us, taunting us. He postures his mighty armies against us. He details his great victories, and brags about previous conquests. He is pompous, and proud, and mocking…

"Don't let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that I will not defeat you. I have completely destroyed anyone who stood in my way! Why should you be any different?"

Where can we turn? To God – where else? ("Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life." John 6:68)

We must "lay it all out" before Him. Every detail of our hopes and fears, our confusion and weakness, our total inability to fight any battle in our own strength.

We must let God be the One to answer our enemy. And He will. For it is God that the devil is defying. When he attacks God's children, he is really coming up against God Himself.

"Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice?"

Those words just give me holy goosebumps!

Yes, the Lord will send the enemy skulking away, with his "tail between his legs." You see, though there will be many battles against the devil – he has lost the war. The cross took care of all of that.

And one day, because of that cross – and because of a certain empty tomb – we are promised this tremendous Truth about our nefarious adversary:

"He went home…and stayed there."

There is an eternal punishment awaiting him. We can be sure of that.

And in the meantime, all of his words are empty. They are just the blustering rant of an arrogant, but defeated, enemy. Just posturing, prideful "Sennacherib words"…

For the LORD has spoken:

"'…I know you well – where you stay and when you come and go. I know the way you have raged against me. And because of your raging against me and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth…The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!'" (Isaiah 37:28-29, 32)

God to the rescue! YAY!

Are you turning a deaf ear to the "Sennacherib words" of our enemy, and claiming the victory won by the LORD of Heaven's Armies?

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Saturday, November 19, 2011



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 to 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!


My dear child,

Oh, how I long to have you understand!

Don't you yet realize that there is NO condemnation for you?
You belong to my Son, Christ Jesus.
And because you belong to Him, the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the POWER of sin!

I sent Him to do what the Law could not do - save you.
In His body, I declared an END to sin's control over you.
I fulfilled the just requirement of the Law - and I made you right with Me.

One sacrifice - once, for all.

I made you My child - and you can call me "Abba."
(Won't you please call me that?)

I want you to remember that what you suffer now is NOTHING compared to the glory that I will reveal to you later.
The Spirit that raised My Son from the dead, now lives in you!!
And surely, because I raised Him, I will one day give life to your mortal body by this same Spirit.

The Spirit will help you in your weakness.
He will pray for you in line with My will.
I know your heart.
I will cause ALL things to work together for good.

I will - trust Me.

So, if I am for you (and I AM), who can ever be against you?
There is no one to accuse you - no one to condemn.
In fact, my Son pleads for you at My right hand.

NOTHING can EVER separate you from Me.

Here's a checklist of things that are powerless to contend with My love:

Fears for today.
Worries about tomorrow.
The very powers of hell itself.
No power in the sky above.
No power in the earth below.

NOTHING in all creation will EVER be able to break our bond of Love.

I revealed it to you and the world through My Son, Jesus.

Now claim it!

You are more than a conqueror with Me on your side.

I love you,

(Selections from Romans 8, NLT)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, November 18, 2011


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: conceit

What does the word conceit mean to you?

Do you think there's a difference between conceit and pride?

How does conceit affect a person's relationship with God?

Why is our world so full of conceit?

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, November 16, 2011


I love surprises.

Well, most of them.

An unexpected bouquet of flowers – good thing. An unexpected flat tire – not so much.

But, my favorite surprises have to be the ones that come from God's Word. You know what I'm talking about. Those nuances or details or insights that, though you've read them countless times before, suddenly jump out at you – and you learn or see or hear something completely new in the Bible.

Spiritual serendipity.

Moments when I slap my head (sorta like one of those "I could've had a V-8" commercials) – and just smile and go, "Huh…"

I've had several in the last few weeks, and I thought it might be *fun* if I shared them with you.

Let's start in the Old Testament:

"Moses said, 'I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.' So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here I am.'" (Exodus 3:3-4, NKJV)

OK, the story of Moses and the burning bush. You've heard it many times – I've heard it many times. So, what did I see this time?

This part: "So when the LORD saw that [Moses] turned aside to look, God called to him…"

I had never really noticed before that God did not talk to Moses UNTIL Moses turned to look. I have always known that God talked to Moses from the burning bush. What struck me this time was the timing.

Moses turned toward the bush – THEN God spoke.

So, here's what I'm thinking.

I spend a lot of time thinking about, looking for, wanting some kind of "opportunity" to drop in my lap to serve the Lord. I think to myself, "Shouldn't I wait for the Lord to show me what to do?" And then, after waiting for a (long) while, I might say a little less patiently, "Isn't God supposed to bring something to me?"

After this particular passage hit me anew, I asked myself this question.

Is God just waiting for me to turn?

Maybe God is waiting for me to move first. It's hard to drive a parked car, after all.

Now I'm not advocating moving willy-nilly all over the place without prayer and counsel. But I am saying that sometimes we sit waiting when we should be faithfully moving out.

I think God just might be saying – Turn in curiosity, and see what I might say. Try some new doors, and see what I might open. Explore new avenues, and see where I might guide you.


Now let's move on to the New Testament:

"They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, but he called out to them, 'Don't be afraid. I am here!' Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!" (John 6:19-21, NLT)

OK, the story of Jesus walking on water. You've heard it many times – I've heard it many times. So, what did I see this time?

This part: "…and immediately they arrived at their destination!"

I had never noticed that part. I've always been so captivated with Jesus' ability to defy nature. I've always been so comforted by His kind and encouraging words. I've always been so sure that I had the complete story, that until now, I had missed the second miracle.

I checked other translations to make sure that that little tidbit of miracle was there. It was. And here's what John Gill's commentary had to say about it:

"...and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went –
 which was done, as Nonnus observes, by a divine motion; for not only the wind ceased, but another miracle was wrought; the ship was in an instant at the place whither they intended to go."

So, here's what I'm thinking:

Jesus didn't get into the boat and help those disciples row the rest of the way to shore. Not this time. This time He performed a second miracle. He immediately brought them to their destination – suddenly and unexpectedly.

When I am in the middle of the storms in my life, I pray – of course I do. And the Lord comes to me. I invite Him into all the troubles that are raging around me. And He does indeed say to me, "Don't be afraid. I am here!"

But, do I ever really consider the possibility that He might immediately change the situation? Do I pray bigbelieving that He could perform a miracle? Do I entertain the thought that Jesus knows my destinationand He might just fast-forward me there?

Do I believe that when Jesus appears, anything can happen?!

Yes, sometimes He calms the storm.

Sometimes He invites me to walk on water.

Sometimes He gets into the boat, and we ride out the storm together.

But now – a new possibility! He might just perform a miracle, and my rowing might be instantly needless in one shining moment.


I've got one more.

Can you hang in there?

New Testament again:

"[Jesus] stepped forward to meet them. 'Who are you looking for?' he asked. 'Jesus the Nazarene,' they replied. 'I AM he,' Jesus said…As Jesus said, 'I AM he,' they all drew back and fell to the ground!" (John 18:4-6, NLT)

OK, the story of Jesus being arrested. You've heard it many times – I've heard it many times. So, what did I see this time?

This part: "As Jesus said, 'I AM he,' they all drew back and fell to the ground!'"

How did I not notice before that these words, this Name, uttered from the lips of Jesus threw these people to the ground?!

I wonderdid Jesus shout it? Did He whisper it? Or did He say it calmly, stating it as the matter of fact that it was?

And this – did the disciples fall down, too?

Oh, how I wish I could have been a "fly on the wall" (a gnat in the Garden??) – and seen this scene unfold.

So, here's what I'm thinking:

There is power in The Name.

Does that thrill you like it thrills me?!

Just the Name, just the Voice of Jesus saying it, was enough to topple people. His Voice had authority, it had power, it had the ability to knock people off their feet.

It still does.

It's a divisive name – a bold claim. Jesus is God. In many circles, that isn't going to win you the Most Popular vote. I don't know about you, but I kinda like that. It kinda makes me stand a little taller.

One day, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.

But what about now? What about me?

Am I knocked off my feet by the fact that the great "I AM" died for me? That the awesome "I AM" rose from the dead to give me life? That the glorious "I AM" is the One that I serve? That the majestic and almighty "I AM" is my friend?

I should be.

I should be knocked off my feet, down to my knees, and flat on my face.

I am loved by "I AM."

His words silence me. I am hushed with humble gratitude.


So, my friends – thanks for hanging in there with me! I hope my thoughts cause you to ponder, too.

The Word of God is alive and powerful.

And it is full of surprises – really, really good ones!

What's something you've learned lately from the Bible that struck you in a new way?

Come and enjoy some nourishment at Joan's GRACE CAFE!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, November 14, 2011


So, last week I went out with a girlfriend for coffee – (you know where…there's one on every corner…*$'s. BTW, I'm a Coffee Frappucino Light kind of girl).

We were talking away, about anything and everything. We're good at that. But one of the final things we talked about really hit me hard.

J knows someone who leads personal growth seminars. And they were having a conversation a while ago. This other woman tells J something to the effect, "You know, in all my experience I've found that the women with the lowest self-esteem are Christians."

I looked at my friend.

"You know, that really makes me mad," I said, "and really sad, because I think it's true."

So I've been mulling and pondering this ever since.

I think there are two problems here. First of all, there's the woman part of it.

We women seem to have a problem with always being "too much" – "not enough" – "unworthy of being loved" – "trying to measure up" – you get the idea. It's like there's some sort of personal yardstick – and we always fall short. Kinda like the rides at Disneyland. You know the little painted lines – "You must be this tall to go on this ride." And, no matter how tall we stand, even if it's on our tiptoes – we're still below the line.

Why does this happen?

I can think of several reasons. Our society – ladies, it's still a man's world out there. Our family upbringing – which can give us faulty "tapes". Our past experience with men – don't get me started on this one. I spent way too many years thinking that I was only lovable if some man "loved" me. Our innate nurturing nature – which makes us tend to think more of others than we do ourselves. Our culture – which has bowed down to the idols of youthful appearance, and being rich and/or famous.

You know those television shows - "The Real Housewives..."

Let me tell you, there is nothing "real" about those women.

The really real housewives are women like me – unsure of themselves, insecure, wasting time comparing themselves to others, and always thinking they're falling short of some ideal standard.

The other problem I see is specific to Christian women.

We tend to think of ourselves as unworthy worms. You know the lyrics, "Amazing grace that saved a WRETCH like me." We believe the wretch part. However, the problem, in my opinion, is that we haven't grabbed onto the grace part.

Here's the deal.

There's a big difference between being unworthy, and being worthless.

You see, when we stand before the throne of God, we are indeed unworthy. Our sin makes it so. Unable to ever measure up to the bar, we fall short every time. Our meager and puny efforts to reach God, and to attain His righteousness, will never happen on our own.

It's why the Savior came and died.

But woefully, here's where too many of us get stuck.

"We are unworthy," we cry out.

Of course we are. That's the whole point.

But here's the wonderful, tremendous, awe-inspiring truth.

We are eminently worthwhile!

Have you stopped yourself lately and thought about the Crucifixion? Really, really thought about it? Are we so used to hearing about it that we have forgotten what it meant? Yes, of course, Jesus died for our sins. But why??

He did it because He considered it WORTH THE COST of His very life to redeem worthwhile creatures from their unworthy sinful natures.

Excuse me, but I just don't see the Almighty God of the Universe stooping to earth, giving us His Son to die – for worthless worms.

He loved us – yes, WHILE we were still sinners – and He considered us WORTH rescuing.

I find that exhilarating!

So, I believe we do a disservice to the Lord's sacrifice when we diminish ourselves.

Pride is a subtle enemy. Sometimes it's overt. Sometimes it's undercover. And either end of the spectrum is dangerous territory.

I have this word picture in mind.

Picture yourself in the middle of a raging sea. And you are definitely going to die unless someone rescues you. So, a boat finally arrives. The captain himself dives in to save you. Overt pride says, "No, I'm OK. I know that I can save myself. You go on without me."

Undercover pride does something else.

It lets the captain rescue them – and the captain loses his life in the process. They are pulled into the boat and saved. But then, undercover pride never stops moaning and groaning.

"I don't know why anyone would want to save someone like me. I'm not worth it. He should have just let me die, because I'm no good. Nobody loves me. He really wasted his time rescuing me."

Is this not completely dismissing the sacrifice of the captain??

There's a fine line here. And we Christian women are called to walk it.

Humbly saved from our unworthy sin? Yes. But considered worth the cost to the Lord? Absolutely yes!

We, of all women, should have the highest self-esteem. We should esteem ourselves as much as God does. Knowing full well our unworthiness, we should claim the Love that deemed us worth the rescuing. We can be like Paul – and boast gladly in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ladies, our filthy rags have been exchanged for glorious white Robes of Righteousness.

Why aren't we wearing them??

What is keeping you from looking at yourself the way God sees you?

"…each of us must ultimately open up with vulnerability and humility to acknowledge our unworthiness and yet also to accept our own worth, which is sometimes the more difficult. In confessing our sin before God, we accept our unworthiness--not worthlessness! In that moment of vulnerability we discover that God…through Jesus Christ, graciously covers the sinner with love and forgiveness. We know that although we have been found out, we have also been found. We come to accept that God sent the Son into the world because he deemed us worthy to be loved and forgiven, we who are created in the divine image and destined to become fully restored to it…" (From Bible Gateway)

“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

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BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"