What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Praise and Thanksgiving

When I was in college I was challenged to look at things from God’s perspective. My perspective is pessimistic and negative. I was sure that nothing would ever work out for my good. For anyone’s good, for that matter. But I had tunnel vision. I was unable or unwilling to see the big picture.
So I started to praise God each day for Who He is – not what He’s done – just for Who He is. But this was hard for me to do because I did not know Him very well. I needed help in getting to know my God. I found lots of descriptions of God in the Bible. I especially liked the Psalms, but found other descriptions of God in the Minor Prophets and the New Testament.
My favorite place to visit to refresh myself with the attributes of God is Psalm 136. Every verse includes the phrase, “For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. He is the God of gods, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. He is the Lord of lords, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. He does great wonders, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. He made the heavens and the earth . . . And on and on it goes listing characteristics of God and reminding us that everything exists because His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Just remembering that His love for me right now is totally without end is reason enough to praise Him. He’s never going to give up on me. He’s never going to say, “I’ve forgiven her too many times already.” He’s never going to forget I exist. His love for me is here right now and forever. I can’t really wrap my thinking around what forever looks like or feels like, but that’s the point. His lovingkindness is too big for me to understand. But I can count on it day in and day out, forever, however long that is.
This perspective allows me to trust Him and to have joy and hope where none existed before. Why did I ever stop having specific and faithful praise time? I don’t remember when I stopped doing it, but I know the benefits of doing it, so I’m doing it again. It doesn’t have to be some huge commitment. Five minutes everyday. That’s doable and it does so much for me. So I started doing it again a couple of weeks ago. My mood and my outlook are so much more positive – and getting better everyday.
I challenge you to spend one minute, each and everyday, praising God for all that He is. Start by looking through Psalm 136. See if you can see things from God’s perspective.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I’ve started working on converting my son’s bedroom into a study. You wouldn’t know it by looking into the room, but I’ve spent 6 – 8 hours working on sorting through some of the stuff he left here after his move to Muncie, IN to go to grad school at Ball State University.
I am most impressed with the number and types of books he’s accumulated since he was born. He’s got a little of everything. Science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, mysteries, picture books, legends, Vikings, explorers, missionaries, kings, cowboys, and many more. It was kind of fun to note the books that are well worn, the books he’s read and reread many times. It was fun to remember him propped up in bed near bedtime reading a novel. He loved to read. He still does.
Sometimes, even as recently as last year, I’ll catch him reading through a Three Investigators book. It used to take him a few days to read through one of these children’s mysteries. Now it takes an hour or two. So I packed them up so we could move his bookshelf as I get ready to paint. But, those books, along with his Harry Potter series, Brian Jacques books, The Lord of the Rings series, Susan Cooper books, and his other favorites will be back on the bookshelf once the painting is done.
The thing is, I’ve read most of his books, too. They were good reads and remind me why I was able to recommend books to him that he would enjoy. Because I enjoyed them!
Time to stop writing and return to the sorting and cleaning. However the room looks like more of a mess than when I started cleaning it. I can’t do much more until I have some place to put the boxes of books and knick-knacks while I prepare the walls for new paint (like in my daughter’s room once she leaves for college!)
I’m getting excited to see how things turn out. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


My life is trouble and problem free. Or maybe not. If it was without struggle would I have anything to share with anyone? That’s one question I’ve been pondering as I’ve been studying the role of suffering in a Christian’s life.
Before I became a Christian, I may have been attracted to people whose lives looked perfect and peaceful, but I don’t think I would have believed they had any answers for me. They could not understand where I’d been or where I was. The woman that shared Christ with me did not try to tell me that her life was perfect and problem-free. If she had, I would not have believed her. A problem-free life was something I could not understand. The fact that she had issues to deal with made her seem real to me. It made her message of help from God through Jesus Christ credible to me. It was not a message that said, “Believe and all your problems will go away.” It was a message that said, “There’s help for dealing with your problems.”
This was a good thing. My problems did not all go away and no one criticized me for having problems. In fact, the people God placed in my life during the next few years were understanding and sought to get me help that blended Christian truths and psychology. My Christian friends over the years have actually found counselors for me to see. My problems would not go away instantly. Some still exist. But, there is an ever-present help that I did not know how to access before. And, some of my problems have become issues of the past through the miraculous working of God in my life. For instance, I no longer struggle with the urge to drink – get drunk from – alcohol on a daily basis.
My imperfect life, just like those who shared Christ with me, has a message, too. My sufferings say to others, “Look. Things could be worse and things have gotten better.” They say, “I understand your heartaches and hardships.” They say, “Let me comfort you with the same comfort I received from others and from God.” Suffering gives me basis for telling other people that their lives can be better – not perfect, but better. My suffering does not hinder the message of Christ. It may actually enhance the message. My hard times allow others to relate to me, give me credibility. My suffering has a purpose.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Suffering, Part 2

When I was in college I spent a summer with a Christian organization called The Navigators in Indianapolis. The point was to learn, with about 50 – 75 other young adults how to walk the Christian life in everyday life. We had training sessions on everything from how to have a “Quiet Time” with God to how to develop conversations with other people about what Christianity is all about.
One week we had a guest speaker lead several workshops. This speaker, whose name I am unable to remember, centered his messages on the basic topic of using every situation in our lives as a platform for sharing about Christ. What was remarkable about his message is that he specifically mentioned how he was trying to use his ongoing fight against cancer to share as much and as often as he was able. His prognosis was not good. He expected to die within 6 months, but he was focused on other people and their needs. He talked to other patients, doctors, nurses, visitors, and anyone else he came in contact with about the hope he had because he was confident of where life’s end would bring him: into heaven and into the presence of his Savior, Jesus Christ.
This week as I read in the Bible, I came across a passage written by Paul where he is telling us that suffering should be the platform for sharing about our hope. Colossians 1:24 says,
I myself have been made a minister of this same Gospel, and though it is true at this moment that I am suffering on behalf of you who have heard the Gospel, yet I am far from sorry about it. Indeed, I am glad, because it gives me a chance to complete in my own sufferings something of the untold pains for which Christ suffers on behalf of his body, the Church. For I am a minister of the Church by divine commission, a commission granted to me for your benefit and for a special purpose: that I might fully declare God’s word –
Suffering gives us a chance to talk about how Christ suffered on our behalf in order that we might fully understand the Good News and come into a right relationship with Christ. That’s pretty remarkable in my opinion. Suffering exists to bring us into a relationship with Christ. Without it, would we even see the need for Christ? Would we even understand just how much Christ suffered for us? Would we be able to minister to other people who are suffering if we have not suffered ourselves? Would we be able to tell others about how Christ suffered to give us eternal life?
I think not. It is the role of suffering in our lives to bring ourselves, and others into an understanding of Christ in such a way that we live out our lives in a way that serves God. Suffering is not a burden to bear, so much as it is an excuse, a good excuse, to proclaim the forgiveness offered us by Christ. And, as Paul said, we should be “far from sorry about it.” We should indeed be glad that God can use us to proclaim His Good News.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I was challenged to investigate the role of suffering in a Christian’s life. I thought it was something to be avoided at all costs. I thought it didn’t jive with a productive, faith-based lifestyle. I thought that suffering is something that went away once Christ was part of a person’s life.
I was wrong. Suffering is an expected and worthy occurrence in a Christian’s life. How can it not be? If we are truly trying to be like Christ, suffering is mandatory. Sounds pretty dismal, doesn’t it? I could easily get wrapped up in hopelessness when I think that my life will include suffering. But, that would be missing the point of Christ-like suffering. We were never promised that we wouldn’t suffer but our current suffering is just a moment in time, a breath, compared to the expected joyful glory to come.
In Romans 8, the apostle Paul tells us that we suffer as Christ suffered so we may also be glorified with Him. The passage goes on to describe suffering using the analogy of childbirth. Childbirth is painful. But it only lasts a short time in comparison to the amount of time we have with the children the pain brings forth. The pain actually helps us expect the joy that is coming. So a few hours of pain brings forth hundreds of thousands of hours of joy. (I calculated it out to over 700,000 hours; 24 hours in a day x 365 days x 80 years = 700,800 hours in a life.) That comes out to childbirth pains (assuming labor takes 10 hours) being only .014% of the time we are dealing with our children. And, in spite of the pain I know I experienced, I don’t really remember it after 18 years.
Another verse in Romans 8 said that our current suffering is not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to come. It’s not a 1 to 1 ration. We don’t just get 1 cup of glory for 1 cup of suffering. The ratio is incomparable. It’s like 1 cup of suffering to infinity cups of glory. Immeasurable. Incomparable. Incomprehensible.
So it’s not that suffering doesn’t exist. It’s just not as important as we make it out to be in the overall scheme of things. It lasts only a brief time. It hurts only a little bit. And, the glory that will come to us is well worth the suffering and the wait.