I'm Just A Girl Who Can't Say No

Bunny PoutThe word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. Jonah 1:1-3

Nope. No thanks. No can do. I’ve heard other people use these words, but I, myself, find it very hard to utter them. Even telemarketers and those hucksters at the mall and superstores fill me with trepidation at the thought of having to politely say ‘no’ half a dozen times before they leave me be. I avoid them at all costs.

Several times lately someone has said to me, “You’re too busy! Just tell them ‘no!’” I nodded, but I’ve thought a lot about that since then and have come to a conclusion.

I made a commitment long ago to alter my life and free up my schedule to make room for working for the Lord. This was something I definitely felt called to do. In the beginning that involved a lot of child rearing activities, but now, not so much. So, when an occasion arises and someone calls on me, I generally look at it through the filter of a ‘God’ opportunity. Is God arranging this so I can learn something, be challenged by something, advance His Kingdom work somehow, witness to someone, or just get to know someone better? Or, am I the best person for this? Is God preparing me for something by this? It’s usually only later that I actually check my schedule. I’ve rarely regretted saying yes.

I would like to put in a good word about making yourself available. When I think to myself about why some people have awesome opportunities to serve the Lord and experience success after success, while others of us seem stuck around the starting gate, I ask if we’ve ‘been faithful in the little things.’ The Lord rewards those who do a small job well with greater responsibility. We all need to be honest with ourselves about whether or not we truly WANT greater responsibility.  I know I have not. But God loves us too much to leave us stuck in our fear, or apathy, or whatever it is that keeps us from wanting God’s best for us no matter what it takes. I think of Him like a parent who knows that making us take out the trash will ultimately build character, obedience and perseverance.

Often, like with Jonah, we say ‘no, thanks’ to God, and He says, ‘but this will be a growth experience for you, to prepare you for what comes next in life.’ We reply, ‘growth means discomfort, and I haven’t got time for the pain.’ And then God sends a storm and a giant fish to reorder our priorities. As it says in Isaiah 55:10-11, the Lord will accomplish His purposes.

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

And speaking of ‘bread for the eater,’ on this subject of being available to help out, I often think of the Little Red Hen. There are always plenty of reasons to say ‘no:’ "I'm sorry, but I'm too busy wallowing in the mud to help you," "I would love to help, but I'm busy swimming in the pond," "I'm sorry, but I have to take care of myself and groom my fur,” "I have other things to attend to, like guarding the house and keeping watch," etc. But I’m more afraid of missing out on something that the Lord has for me, some lesson, or gift or insight. When we fail to make ourselves available to the Lord, we don’t just miss out on fresh, hot, homemade bread, we miss out on the Bread of Heaven.



**To all those I have ever successfully said ‘no’ to, please know that I really did think it over first and just couldn’t.

Pass It On

Instruct the Wise bestTeach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many

(Deuteronomy 11:19-21)

Like so many things, faith is better ‘caught than taught’ they say. Meaning that rather than just preaching goodness, kindness, prayer and Bible study, it’s more important to model these behaviors. The other saying is, ‘your actions are speaking so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying,’ suggesting that the old, ‘do as I say, not as I do’ just doesn’t cut it, especially with kids.

Over the years I’ve heard so many people tell me they can’t teach. But everyone is a teacher in their own way. Actually, with no disrespect to schoolteachers, I submit that family is the first and best teacher, and it’s the place God established for passing on His Word to successive generations. School is a wonderful thing and a terrific opportunity, but it’s at home at the table where lessons are reinforced, love of learning is instilled, values are passed on and stories are shared. Not to mention all the teaching that happens at the craft table, in the garden, in the workshop, at the chicken coop, in the kitchen or on walks in the woods. There’s always something to be taught and so much to be learned!

Every moment we’re sitting at home, walking together, or driving around town is time that we can be sharing, teaching, passing on knowledge and learning. And not just with kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews. We all have so much wisdom and experience to share. The Bible encourages older women to teach younger women (Titus 2:3-5). Men are encouraged to mentor younger men. At all the ages and stages of life, it is so valuable to learn about the Christian walk from others who have trod that same path.

And of course, we teach others around us with our words and actions in everyday life. We have a responsibility to carry Christ with us into all of that. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8)

Never think that your faith and your knowledge are not worth passing on. Never think that you are too inexperienced, or too shy, or whatever your objection might be. Jesus chose ordinary men as His students. He lived with them, spoke with them and then sent them out two by two to spread His Good News. It changed the whole world. It isn’t us, and it wasn’t those disciples that impacted people forever, it was and is God’s Holy Spirit working through us. We’re all cracked jars, imperfect and fragile, but containing the most glorious knowledge of all: Jesus lives! His salvation is for all! That is really something to pass on.


(from Kurt Kaiser, “Pass it On”)

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,

And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing;

That's how it is with God's Love,

Once you've experienced it,

You spread the love to everyone You want to pass it on.

Lord, create opportunities for me today and each day to pass on your love: at home, at work, everywhere to everyone.




Bountiful Backpacks of Blessings

Bus Angel gamma15 BEST“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:1-3

I have very fond memories of my school days. I remember looking forward to learning, feeling safe and valued and enjoying the challenges of the work. Sure, there were a few teachers or students who I didn’t get along with so well, perhaps a bully or two who said some mean things that have stuck with me, and a few project assignments that didn’t go as planned. But it really wasn’t until I had kids of my own in school facing challenges that the memories of the negative stuff resurfaced, and I got a more comprehensive view of the school experience.

My kids had a few terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. These issues and episodes reminded me of times in my own life I had forgotten, and they also highlighted to me how little control I had as a parent to protect my kids from these kinds of things. Which is one of the reasons we must surrender our kids to God and trust that He will protect them or use any suffering and sadness for their growth and ultimate benefit.

Many kids have a much harsher school experience. Severe learning or behavioral disabilities, gun violence, an unstable home life, language challenges and communication issues make school beyond difficult. And thanks to social media, teasing and torment doesn’t stop at the schoolyard gate, it follows kids home on their phones and computers. Add to that the stressful, fear-based daily news and the pressure to succeed and we shouldn’t wonder why so many young people today are suffering from anxiety and depression.

The world is not going to change, at least not right away. Therefore, it is up to us, as prayerful people, to intentionally pray for our schools, our children, our teachers, staff, bus drivers, crossing guards, and daycare workers, etc. We can daily pray for a hedge of protection to be placed around them, and for God’s will to be done in their lives and their schools. We can look for ways to support our local schools and teachers. We can be the first ones called when they need supplies, books, or a fundraiser for equipment. We can volunteer our time to assist teachers, do admin work, or help out on the playground or in the cafeteria. We can’t go to the schools and preach Jesus, but we can preach His message silently by being salt and light as His hands and feet and by showing His compassion and care.

It's a different time now, and school is not as safe and nurturing as it once was. Complaining, worrying and crying won’t accomplish much. Instead drop down to your knees (in spirit if necessary) and start and keep praying. Prayer changes things. Prayer accomplishes God’s will. Prayer puts God’s power into action. Pray without ceasing.


Dear Lord, I pray for the students as they head off into a new school year. I pray as well for the teachers, professors, administrators, staff, custodians, bus drivers, safety personnel, aftercare workers and volunteers in our schools. May they all be sustained by your blessing. May You keep each one surrounded by Your hedge of protection and lead them in Your will. And remind me to support their call to teaching and learning and surround them with constant prayer, love and care as well. Amen.



Apple of Your Eye

Apple of Your EyeFor the Lord’s portion is his people,
    Jacob his allotted inheritance.

In a desert land he found him,
    in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
    he guarded him as the apple of his eye,

-- Deuteronomy 32:9-10

Apple of your eye. The phrase comes from a Hebrew expression that literally means 'little man of the eye.’ It refers to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other people's pupils. To be the apple of someone's eye clearly means that you are being focused on and watched closely by that person. Your very image is central in the eyes of that person!

It is astounding and comforting to know that in a world of 8 billion people, you and I are the Apple of God’s eye, shielded, cared for and guarded by the Most High. In a world of ‘bad apples,’ the ever-present Lord of the Universe has adopted us as His precious children and given us an inheritance in His Heavenly Kingdom. At a time when the world’s ways seem ‘rotten to the core,’ we are apples dipped in honey, representing the sweetness of this life. And although it often feels like ‘mixing apples and oranges,’ we are called to love both the believers and unbelievers, friends and enemies, even those who mean us harm. Love them and pray for them.

And just as ‘the apple never falls far from the tree,’ we should never be found far from our source, our roots, our True Vine, Jesus. Because ‘an apple a day might keep the doctor away,’ but Jesus is the only One who can keep that worm, Satan away. The devil is always on the prowl trying to ‘upset the applecart.’ He’s ‘one bad apple trying to spoil the whole bunch.’ That’s why it’s so important to always be ready to share the Good News with everyone we encounter because we may not get ‘a second bite of that apple.’

I don’t think it would be ‘polishing the apple’ to say that we owe absolutely everything – all that we have, all that we are and all that we ever will be – to Jesus, the one who daily hears our prayers, shows us the wonders of His great love, and gives us refuge in the shadow of His wings. Because ‘as sure as God made little green apples,’ we will reap the reward for our steadfast trust, obedience and worship. There is a place in the Heavenly orchard prepared just for us! ‘How do you like them apples?’

PRAYER: I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. (Psalm 17:6-9)

Bushels of Blessings,


United in Love

BrothersTherefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2

We were listening to the car radio discussing the upcoming election the other day when my hubby observed that nothing brings people together like hate. A common enemy unites. I added that, conversely, love – who we allow in our innermost circle – tends to be very sectarian. We see this in our sports enthusiasm: ‘we can’t be friends if you support the Steelers,’ our choice of neighborhoods for living and shopping: ‘I don’t want to be anywhere near those people,’ and of course in our politics: ‘how can you support that guy/gal, they’re the devil!’ Birds of a feather flock together. We prefer to be around ‘people like us’ who look, speak, think and believe like us. It’s comfortable. And that’s okay. But that can’t be the end of it.

Jesus, in His wisdom, knew that His twelve apostles had to be Jewish men. No Gentiles, no women just yet. It was going to be hard enough for His people to accept His message, which seemed to turn everything upside down, without the additional stumbling block of Gentile or female apostles. But within that group of twelve, He chose a Zealot or two who despised Rome’s occupation and a Tax Collector who was working FOR Rome, extorting taxes from his fellow Jews. He chose fishermen and other regular guys from various towns in Galilee. Their personalities were quite different: one a brash leader who often put his foot in his mouth, one a doubter, one honest to a fault, one a thief and betrayer, a couple of brothers who spent a lot of time arguing amongst themselves. Although a few of them were already friends, many of them would not have come together but for Jesus.

Jesus stretched them by asking them to follow Him around the countryside. It couldn’t have been easy living that way. He took them to Jewish villages and big cities, Roman towns and even the dreaded Samaria. He stretched them further with the variety of disciples who joined them: women, people from all over Israel and other countries, former slaves, Pharisees, a wife in the king’s court, former prostitutes, former lepers and all kinds of social outcasts. Despite their common love of Jehovah and Jesus, the social and cultural tension must have been hard to put behind them.

This is a picture of our friendship groups, coworkers, neighbors, club members, and Church! A bunch of very different people drawn together by a common mission, interest or faith. We are called to love, accept, pray for and interact with all kinds of people. We don’t have to like what they like, believe what they believe or live like they live. But we must always be kind, compassionate, gentle, patient and loving towards them. We must be united in the goodness of love, not the power of hate.

With fellow believers, the command is even stronger: we must be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. The same Holy Spirit is living in each of us, and He should lead us to unity working towards His will, not the divisiveness of demanding our own way.

I was searching Amazon recently for an adult version of a WWJD bracelet. I was surprised to find that that perennial question, ‘What would Jesus do?’ has been answered with another acronym: HWLF ‘He would love first.’ Indeed. Lead with love, value unity, avoid discord, ‘keep no record of wrongs. Do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. Always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere.’ (1 Corinthians 13:5-7) When you start thinking about putting these into action in daily life, with family disagreements, with difficult co-workers, with people on the news, with people on our social media feeds, with our leaders and politicians, it gets much more challenging. But I know you’re up for the challenge! You might want to get one of those WWJD bracelets for yourself as a reminder. (Seriously, they have so many for men and women in all kinds of styles.)

PRAYER: Lord, I accept the challenge of leading with love and valuing unity and harmony. I know this means that you will likely test me on this immediately with some person or situation, but I’m ready. I want to do what Jesus would do. And even if it takes a while, I know you’ll keep working on me. Mold me and shape me! Amen.

Blessings of unity,