And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.

John 3:26-30

Because I didn’t get married until the age of 34 ( which seemed ANCIENT at the time!), I served as maid of honor in several weddings. It’s kind of a special role. You have certain responsibilities, special tasks to do for the bride.

But every maid of honor knows that it’s not “her day” to shine. 

It’s the bride’s. 

And the same goes for the best man.

He also understands that this day is ALL about the bride and groom.
John gets this concept, too. He knows his role is to support the groom, and maybe give a nice speech or two.

He accepted and WELCOMED the time when Jesus would “go public” in His ministry, and had a clear understanding that, even though JOHN had been the celebrity in town, when Jesus arrived that would all change.

He would, in essence, begin to disappear in the shadows of Jesus!

And to John, that was an awesome thing.
You know, my abilities, my energy, and my talents have been tampered with by the things that have happened to me.
And sometimes, I  still wonder,

“What should I be doing for the Kingdom?”

“What is my grand purpose?”

“Since I can’t really do ‘this’ anymore, what should I be doing instead?”

Sometimes I get more wrapped up in MY role in the story than I do about the “STORY” itself!

Often, I  am like John’s disciples, whining about someone else stepping into “my gift area”, or doing  the things I thought I was supposed to do.

Please don’t tell me I’m the only one!😊
While we should all strive to have a sense of what God has called each of us to do, we should  never let any of those desires ever become greater than Jesus Himself, and His desire to be known by all.

It’s tough for us humans to think like John did.

Desiring to become LESS so someone else could be
MORE.

But there is beauty in becoming less.

Beauty in disappearing….

Beauty in the destruction of all of these “positions” or roles we once thought we deserved….

Beauty in becoming less and less…

‘Til we all but vanish

And all that is left is…
Jesus.

The Greatest Disappearance




In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1,2

Fluttering. 
That’s another word for “hovering”.
Fluttering.
Like a bird’s wings.
Hovering in protection, some texts indicate.
God was hovering, with all His power, restraining nearly every bit of it.

Restraining His power in the darkness…

In the emptiness…

He was there.

He was there, when nothing was there.

Before we ever were…
Before we knew His plan for us…
Before He created light.
Before we could truly see!
The darkness had no idea what was about to happen, that very soon, the blackness wouldn’t be all there is.

God hovered in the dark…
With us.
FOR us.
BECAUSE of us.
He hovered like a bird, protecting His young.  

Humming, like a generator.  The power was on, 

Even in the black.
What an amazing thought!
Ages and millenniums before the birth of Emmanuel,  God With  US,


He was there.
With us…
 In the dark.
This is what God does, even at the very beginnning….it’s what He’s ALWAYS done!

His wings flutter above us, hovering over us just like a mother bird.
I used to think of the word “hovering” as the humming sound of a powerful machine, just getting warmed up.

Now, I still sort of think that, but  I’m starting to discover what He was warming up to DO….

To CREATE!
To create LIGHT!
To create a universe of people. 
People who would constantly return to the darkness.
People who would sometimes be DRAGGED to the darkness by other’s.
People who would LOVE the darkness, because there, they can hide.

God’s power and great protection was always there, long before there was anyone to protect.
I’d like to think that’s why this verse is included in the bible. 
So we would know something deeper about God’s power.

So we can rest, knowing that the God who hovered over the darkness
Also hovers over OUR darkness.

What is YOUR darkness today?

Illness, loss, addiction,  betrayal, sin…

Whatever the  blackness is that has kept you from moving forward,
Kept you from hoping,

Prevented you from persisting,
God is there.
God is with you, through ALL of it.
And He’s getting ready to

TURN ON THE LIGHTS!!!!

The God Who Hovers

Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart
Jeremiah 15:16
When your words showed up, I ate them—

swallowed them whole. What a feast!

Jeremiah 15:16

Many of us will be feasting this week, because it’s Thanksgiving.
What better excuse do we need to eat tons of turkey, swimming in gravy, mashed potatoes with a literal lake of butter in the center, which we formed by pressing down our spoons in the middle of the mound of spuds?
What better reason do we need to wear sweatpants to dinner, so we can squeeze in all that sweet potato pie, pumpkin, shoofly….
All of it!
But I’m talking about another kind of feasting today.
Feasting on His word!

There, the food never runs out.

His Word has become food for me,
Food that I can’t live without!

It’s food that sometimes doesn’t taste good going down, but know we need it. That’s why Mom always gives you a little spinach or brussel sprouts, or whatever it was you didn’t particularly like as a kid. She wasn’t as concerned about pleasing your palate as she was about keeping you healthy.

Well-fed.
And the Bible tells us that when His words showed up, Jeremiah ATE THEM. If you read Jeremiah, you would know that alot of the words God gave him to tell His people were not mashed potatoes and butter.
They weren’t pumpkin pie.

They were spinach and brussel sprouts.

Not pleasant to digest, but COMPLETELY NECESSARY!

We don’t like hearing that sex outside of marriage hurts God,
But it does.

We don’t like hearing that jealousy is evil,
but it is.

We don’t like hearing that hate is actually murder,
But it is.

Sometimes His words are knives, and they are meant to cut us, to hurt us, and lead us back to Him.

And sometimes His words bring healing, a soothing balm for our dried, cracked, starving souls.

They bring love when we thought we were unlovable.

They bring mercy to those who thought they had done things beyond repair.

They bring comfort to those who have lost everything else, but Him.

READ HIS WORD TODAY.
Any whatever words He gives us,
May we EAT THEM.

It is an everlasting feast!
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Matthew 4:4

Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.

John 6:27

The REAL Feast!

When I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money. So, my mom used to sew all of our clothes. My older sister and I are two years apart, and I think my mom had some kind of “mama and a set of twins” fantasy, which explains why she always dressed us alike. Sure, my red corduroy jumper had triangles on it and my sister’s was green with circles, but it felt like they were identical.
I know. 
Corduroy. 😄
I have to admit, it must have been kinda cool to have clothes nobody else had.

To be the only one with a dress that particular shade of blue,

With that very  same neckline and length.

When I was little, that’s all I had.

A closet full of original Shirley Waite (mom) exclusives!

Talk about unique!
I was recently listening to an album by my favorite group, Rend Collective. The title of the recording is Homemade Worship by Handmade People.

Think about that.
Handmade people.
That is so awesome!

“Your hands have made me and fashioned me, an intricate unity; Yet You would destroy me. Remember, I pray, that You have made me like clay. And will You turn me into dust again? Did You not pour me out like milk, And curdle me like cheese, Clothe me with skin and flesh, And knit me together with bones and sinews?

Job 10:8-11

    
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain…

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth


Psalm 139




He has these great plans.



For EACH of us.



Plans to change us,



Mold us,



Melt us,



Break us.








BEAUTIFUL plans!!



Awesome plans!



Just like it must’ve been pretty cool to know that not a single person had the same clothes as I had, 




It must be just as cool to know He created no one else exactly like me.




Or you!


Every person in my life is so special!


And unlike any other person in this entire world!!


Doesn’t that just make you want to embrace all the uniqueness of the people you know, who were knit together in secret places, just like you? 

That’s the one thing we have in common with every single other person in all the universe:


We have the same Maker.


Let’s stop getting annoyed about how people don’t understand us, and just worry about being the one who understands OTHERS!


Be someone who appreciates originality in others.


That you know exclusive, one-of-kind people.


That when they leave this earth, you will NEVER EVER meet anyone exactly like them again!


Wow. 

He never runs out of designs for the people He loves.

And He will always look at these handmade “dresses” of who we all are, 

And declare,

“It is VERY good.”





Plans for a life that isn’t identical to ANYONE ELSE. 

Unique,

Original….

Handmade.

Made by His great and beautiful hands.









Handmade




“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3


“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

Matthew 5:3 MSG



I really, really hate having to try to explain evil to my children.

The danger, the brutality of it.

I’m constantly walking this tightrope between scaring my kids into sensible behavior, and scarring them for life!

Recently we had to talk to them about kidnapping, and without giving many details, described  what it is and how to keep safe.

The other evening, I took Macy to a nearby town. It was dark and we were looking for a parking spot. I purposely passed one free space, and my daughter exclaimed that I missed an empty spot. I told her it was next to a van with no side windows,  and I told her I would feel safer in another space. 

Well, this brought the whole kidnapping subject up again.

Then Macy says,

“Mom, God would never let anybody take me and do bad stuff to me!!”

Long pause…

She looks up at me…

“Would He?”

It broke my heart.

The sad fact is that danger and searing pain are totally unavoidable.

I told Macy that God promises to be with us ALWAYS. 

I told her that He can bring beautiful things out of broken people.

I told her that nothing will ever happen to her without God’s permission,  and that if she is hurt and broken , God will show up and comfort her heart in amazing ways.

I wish I could tell her we didn’t live in a world where  a man could lose his wife and THREE  children by evil, wicked, brutal bullets…at church.

But I think those who have suffered greatly would agree with Jesus’ words that relay that you’re blessed when you are at the end of your rope. 

He shows up! And His presence is like NOTHING ELSE! The God of all comfort will comfort every last one of us who know we are at the end of our rope.

I pray that when Macy is broken, she will reach for Jesus.

I pray for the church in Texas….

Oh, God,  the brokenness!!!!

So many families,

So much loss. 

The suffering is unimaginable to me.

But C.S. Lewis totally got it right when he said “He isn’t safe, but He is good!”

He will give peace.

He will give comfort.

He will give grace. 

He giveth,

He giveth,

And He giveth again.

Blessings For The Broken Heart





 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

Romans 1: 18 


But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries

Exodus 23:22
For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil

Romans 13:4

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.

Romans 16:20
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him,

Revelation 20:1,2
 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.

Revelation 14:10,11

He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8





We need to change our thinking about the world and all its wickedness being so very dangerous to considering what a dangerous and powerful God we have.

Sure, this world is a scary place. 

And it’s even scarier when we consider that Satan is a roaring lion, seeking whoever he may devour.

That He is also a snake, who slithers into our safe places, and steals everything we love, 

Everything we have.
But honestly,  that sneaky roaring thing , with all of his MANY willing and often unknowing servants doing his bidding just can’t hold a candle to the One who makes the tempests swell and swallow up entire islands, while simultaneously guiding and protecting and blessing, and teaching every last one of the billions of people on the earth…

God’s nostrils breathe out smoke, and fire from His mouth devours the enemy!(2 Samuel 22)
And the all-consuming rage that Satan will one day be swept up in, carried away to the abyss will, 

Once and for all,

Be our GREAT VICTORY!!

I know I sure don’t want to be counted as one of God’s enemies on the day he exacts vengeance on every evil thing!

He is so much more violent, dangerous, frightening than anything Satan will ever throw at us!

This brings me great peace.

To know His fury and rage for all the evil I have seen, for all the things Satan stole from me, for all the ways he deceived me…

For the sin that created cancer, abuse, betrayal, neglect, grave illness, murder, jealousy, hate, and every other evil thing…

There will be a grand, awful, brutal, savage 

RECKONING!!!

Suddenly,  Satan doesn’t seem quite so intimidating, when we remember that God was the One who hovered over a world not yet created!

He will one day soon avenge us for every bloody wound the bully of our souls has doled out on us. 

We will be free!

And evil will be finally tormented!

Eternally.

Come quickly,  Lord Jesus.

Dangerous World Or a Dangerous God?





…​looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

Hebrews 12:2
Harper Lee, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Daphne DuMaurier, Dickens, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Andrew Murray.

These are some of my favorite authors, even though  some of them have written books that are too tough for me to read anymore. But I still try.

My current top pick writer is Brennan Manning. His writing is beautiful, raw, and stabs me right in the heart sometimes. 

But.
Then there is Jesus!
Think about this.

God wrote each and every one of our biographies.

LONG before He decided to create light, or  the heavens, or anything else that He made!
He wrote the grand stories of our lives, right along with every single person in the bible.

And our stories are somehow woven into the tapestry of OTHER great stories.

Like Moses.

Like Paul!
He wrote MY story.
Every chapter.
Every one.
Including all the nights when doctors worked to keep me alive.
All those long, wilderness days when I wondered if “this” would always be my life.
And. 

On all those many nights when I  failed Him, and all I  could hear was the bleak, black crowing of having let Him down.

 Again.
He wrote it all, before I ever lived a day!
He knew all about the horribly bad  choices I would one day make, and He wrote it in. 

Included it, 
And somehow, brought me THROUGH it.
And I may be a little biased, 

But I LOVE my story!!
I mean, it’s  really good!!!
Well, the first twenty or so years were a bit of a snooze fest, but the last twenty???
Man, it has been one turn after another! It is page- turning, people!😃
And He writes ALL OF THEM. 

What an amazing thought! We can have total peace whatever chapter we are in, because it is already written!

And God knows how it ends.
Cancer,  abuse, betrayal, addiction, a bazillion other illnesses, and even death.

NONE of those things will ever stop your story!

YOU CAN’T DETER THE PLAN HE HAS FOR YOU, NO MATTER HOW HARD SATAN TRIES, AND NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY!

I know sometimes we hate our story.

We get tired of this chapter that seems to go on for years.

We hate that our sin and shame has to be a part of it.

But ALL of it is totally GLORIOUS in the end!

Our story is jam-packed with His love, which redeems EVERYTHING!!!

The rescue is always the best part of any story.

“And they all lived happily ever after.”

You can’t get any better than that. 

And that IS my story.

And I  pray it is yours, too.❤

The Great Storyteller

I read somewhere that Buddhists call the drudgery of routine , the ” laundry”. Well, some Buddhist somewhere probably got that from his mom. 

Because no truer words have been spoken!
I really don’t like laundry.
Don’t get me wrong…
I love putting on fresh smelling clothes, especially when they’re still a little warm from the dryer!
Heaven!
But I HATE the neverendingness of it.
There is always more to wash, more to dry, more to soak.
There’s always a crayon that’s mistakenly left behind in somebody’s pocket (cough! cough! Micah!)

Folding clothes is stupid.
It just is!
Once the kids pick them up to take them to their rooms, they are SO not even resembling a piece of folded clothing!
It’s so pointless.
But I DO it.
And I’ll wash those same shirts, socks and stained underwear (cough!cough! Micah!😁) within the next two days!

Guaranteed. 
“Drudgery”, indeed.
Monotonous, boring, robotic, mindless….
YUCK!!

How much of your life is beginning to feel like this?
How about your life with God?

Is it more of an intimate,  encouraging,  ongoing,  revitalizing relationship?
Or is it more like
Laundry?

Is it you and Him, figuratively holding hands when taking a walk down by the river?

Is it you, letting Him wipe away your tears?

Or is it a box you check?
Sometimes I treat Jesus like He’s “one more chore” I’ve got to finish.

And I  KNOW it’s not supposed to be like this!

And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:32


And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.

Mark 12:27




My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away.

Song of Solomon 2:10



“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely.

Song of Solomon 2:14 




Now, don’t get me wrong. Every relationship takes work, time, commitment, and discipline.

But it’s also supposed to be EXCITING!

THRIVING!

PASSIONATE!

THRILLING!

ON FIRE!!!!!!

Please don’t miss those adjectives!

And please don’t miss those verses!

 Soak them in. 

Marinate.

These verses tell of the passionate love God has for each of us.

He wants EVERYTHING we are.

When I  hear how our hearts should BURN inside when He speaks through His Word…

When I  read how He wants me…

My heart,

My mind,

ALL my strength…

When I hear how He wants to steal me away to our “secret place”…

That’s BEAUTIFUL. 

Everything we’ve ever wanted and more!
And…
Nothing like laundry!

Laundry or Love!




Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’ “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

Luke 15: 11-22

If you asked me ten years ago,  I would state I identified most with the elder brother in this story.

If you asked me five years ago, I  would say the same.

If you asked me one year ago, I would have totally changed my answer.

It’s not like I was jealous of the forgiveness offered to all the prodigals  in my life, or that I felt less celebrated than others, or unrecognized in the deeds I performed.

My problem was that I had subconsciously put degrees on sins, and had decided that mine were not so severe as some others. 

I also identified with the older brother, in that I looked at his life and      learned that I didn’t ever want to become judgemental towards others. (Too late!)

I never felt I had much to learn from the prodigal son, because I was never anything like him! 

Never had I screwed up so badly that I found myself begging for bread, and forgiveness. 

No.

I was always the one wronged.

The victim.

The martyr.

Until last year.

Last year, I found myself not being able to look people in the eye…

Feeling like I didn’t even deserve to ATTEND my church, let alone serve at it.

I was filled with shame, grime, and every other filthy feeling.

Now, I’ve accepted God’s amazing forgiveness, one in which He forgets it ever happened!(Isaiah 43:25)

But I  can’t forget what I was forgiven for.

And I’ve also learned that even the “small things”, or the secret things I’ve done were just as ugly to God as the ugliest thing I think I’ve ever done.

Alot of people who have walked with God for many years would also say they identify more with the older brother.  And to that, I have to say, we need to look again at our hearts.

If we ever get to the place where we DON’T identify with the prodigal, the one who knew he was messed up  and didn’t feel WORTHY of being just a hired hand in the place he had once called home….

Check yourself.

We’re not supposed to live with guilt and shame, but we ARE called to never neglect ” so great a salvation “. (Psalm 119:93) (Hebrews 2:3)(Psalm 51:12)

We should always remember that we don’t deserve “so great a salvation”.

Nobody can earn it.

Nobody can win it.

Nobody can attain it.
We can only be given it, 

By Jesus.

What a beautiful truth!

Journey To Becoming The Prodigal