Words Remaining

Breadcrumbs Along the Path…

I Don’t Want to Leave a Legacy

Now that the retirement years are here, I find my thoughts drifting from time to time as to what I’ll leave behind someday.  I wonder about the imprint my one small life might leave upon the road I’ve traveled.  Sadly, there may be more than a few potholes created by one bent on a prodigal heart.  I mourn that possibility and wonder about the lives I may I’ve impacted negatively for the Kingdom.  But there have been good times too.  The sweet breath of God has passed through this fragile flesh, surely accomplishing some of His purposes.  I have not always loved well, but I have loved.  I have spoken careless words, but I have also spoken God’s Word which promises never to return to Him empty.  I’ve failed to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength but my desire to do so is greater than ever.  There were days I clung only to the hem of His garment, but most days it was He who held me fast, speaking softly in the quiet of my heart, “You are mine”.

More than a few times I’ve commented on the impact of a Godly legacy and I believe the desire to leave behind good and holy things for those we love is healthy.  But a fragment of a song recently pierced my heart and I recognized something I’d never considered before.  A legacy is about me.

Is that really what I want?

I’m pretty sure that John the Baptist had this one down.  Jesus’ description of John was: “among those born of women, there is no one greater than he”.  Yet John knew that in the larger scheme of things, his own greatness was of passing importance.   Of Jesus, John said, “He must become greater, I must become less”.  I will forever look to John the Baptist not for what he did, but for what he did not do…cling to his own greatness.

Really it matters little what anyone thinks about us once we’re gone, as life continues at a furious pace for those remaining.  But let’s be honest.  Happy times filled with laughter, tender moments of love, and family tradition are certainly good things.  They fill our own hearts and the hearts of others with great joy. The problem is not in their value, but in their longevity. All these things will pass away at some point.

I must ask myself, “Where am I sowing eternity in the hearts of those I love?  Or in the hearts of those who cross my path?”  I’ve learned it doesn’t occur by wishing and hoping and staying at a distance as I’d prefer to do some days.  It happens by purposefully engaging, maybe never knowing what impact I might have on a life for the kingdom of God.  It’s sowing Jesus seeds…purposefully, passionately and prayerfully… “ a long obedience in the same direction” as the recently deceased Eugene Peterson has written about.  This is not my natural flinch.

Maybe it won’t be so painful to depart this earth if I’m leaving everything to follow Him now.  Maybe today, this very day, I’ll reassess what really belongs to me which is precious little.

There is only One lasting inheritance that’s mine to give. Jesus. In the end, it’s the utterance of His name that splits open the glory of God.  The finished, perfect work of the God-man.  May His Name be on my lips and all that remains after I take my last breath.


“I don’t want to leave a legacy.  I don’t care if they remember me.  Only Jesus.”

“Only Jesus” by Casting Crowns


The balm of wet foliage, as rain drizzled down the eaves of the cracked open window, nudged my senses from seasons past.

My Dad and I both loved the autumn rain that smothered the fallen leaves on our driveway, slick with a burst of browns, burnt reds and oranges.  The sights each year were only overshadowed by the sweet earthy scent that summoned me into a nostalgia of ends, but with hopes of new beginnings.

But there was no hope on this day.  My homes over the years had been legion, and my childhood home, a place of my past.  And this day I was visiting a new “home to be”, a new city.  But my heart ached for something different, for mine was a prodigal heart.  I had spiritually left my God’s estate and set off for a distant country, distancing myself from the One who knew me best.  I was hungry and among the pigs.  The beauty of the autumn rain, which had brought such joy, now filled my heart with only pain.  I longed to escape, at least part of me, while the other side of me was still spending everything I had on emptiness.  But the Father was watching for me, waiting when I was still a long way off.

I look back upon that weekend from a different place today.  My prodigal heart has returned. It’s been years since that weekend and the terrible and painful return.  But it’s also been beautiful.  God’s love, grace and mercy shine brightly against its backdrop.

The autumn rains now hold not only the past, but the future of God’s goodness in my life as He washes away all that is ugly and renews me.  Even now, in my later years, my senses are flooded over with sweetness as heaven’s moisture meets earth.

Silence Corner

The reverberations from his Harley diminish as he weaves through the curves to the roadway that will take him to Rocky Point, Mexico. I’m always a little raw on my husband’s weekend excursions from the perspective of safety – both his and mine. But as the minutes pass, my frazzled soul, tarnished from a retirement schedule that needs to breathe, settles in my heart as I settle in my chair. Cradling me is that silence, in a world that increasingly knows little of it.

While many demand stimulation and nonstop entertainment, I crave the quiet corners to steal away. For it’s in those places that my God speaks most clearly to me. But there is more. I can hear my own heart answering Him in a desire for obedience.  These niches create a space for my soul and spirit to be shaped in a way that only He can accomplish.

Jesus sought out places of silence to commune with His Father. If He needed it, how much more does this earthly vessel that I inhabit need to pause and refill, letting the silence wash over me, as I seek the face of my Father.

While the culture runs from one stimulation to another, it’s worth noting that it screams another message. Float spas, monastery retreats and massage therapists are scheduled to grab that elusive down time, if only for a little while.  Many seek the quality of “quiet” in a luxury car ride and we leisure at seaside as the crashing waves create a kind of white noise that soothes our ravaged senses.  To deny our need for silence is like denying our need for sustenance.

I’ve learned there is a battle that rages to “have me”, to dull my ears to the gentle whispers of my Creator who knows more of what I need than a world gone wrong. In that precious stolen silence, as an adoring child, I pull up a chair to sit with my King. Until He returns.

(This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!)

Watching Debbie

She was there with me in those difficult days when I thought Jesus and no one else could possibly love me.   But God wove a golden strand through it all.  Today, she battles cancer and now I seek to encourage her.   Not that she needs it most days.  Her first reaction to the C word was anticipation of how God might use her to draw others to Jesus. This is Debbie.  For as long as I’ve known her, this is how she lives.

And yet I have a confession to make. In the past, her extroverted outreach sometimes left me cowering.  I don’t have the gift of evangelism and found her ways sometimes overpowering.  Sadly, this speaks more to my lack of passion for another’s salvation than a critique of her efforts.  Because every conversation with Debbie is a party and a celebration of Jesus.   And somehow the recipient feels like he or she is the noted guest rather than cornered prey.  People are never her “project”.

I hold self so tightly much of the time that the Spirit has little chance of a spontaneous conversation with someone.  Memories of being approached, trapped, and given the 3 minute Gospel elevator speech repel me.  There is no question that people need Jesus or that I’m anxious to share this awesome news.  But with most not recognizing or owning that need, I fear coming across like some crazy zealot.  I long for that elusive Ethiopian eunuch to ask me to climb on board his chariot to explain the Scripture to him.  I need an “invitation”.  Not so with Debbie.

Whether in the chemo room as the toxic conquerer invades her veins or while chatting casually with the hospital chaplain, who, herself, left Debbie encouraged and moved to tears…always, I sense I am walking on holy ground.

As I’ve had the privilege of sharing bits of this difficult path with her, I’ve made some observations that I’ve found helpful for interacting with others.

  • Debbie lives an expectant faith. She always expects God to act and sees Him in every casual life encounter.  The truth is, she doesn’t settle for a small, distant God.
  • Debbie loves people and truly sees God’s image in them. She recently described herself as a hummingbird flying from flower to flower, tapping into the nectar of each precious life.  As I’ve observed her, it’s a brilliant depiction.   Her love of each ‘flower” eventually disarms any defensive responses and God uses her infectious joy to everywhere “spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him”.
  • Debbie speaks to people as if they are already on her team, emphasizing the commonalities they share, rather than that which divide. She gets enough Gospel in each conversation so at its conclusion, the individual has heard it repeatedly and is nodding their head in agreement.

Many of us will never be a Debbie.  Each of us, created in God’s image, reflect Him differently.  While she loves to witness, I love to disciple.  Maybe you love to teach?  Or to serve? Maybe you love to give generously with your finances or have a heart for missions?  Or perhaps you have a gift of administration or helps?  As Frederick Buechner said,  “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Debbie has found that beautiful place.

Congratulations to my sweet friend Debbie who is ready to cross the finish line of her chemotherapy!  

Words, Eggshells and Time

When I first began to write for someone other than my journal, I was hungry.  I read everything I could get my hands on.  I followed other writers whom I respected, and read books about writing as well as some of the classics.  I seemed to walk around in a writer’s daze, lifting subjects from the air I breathed.   Scripture would come alive with illustrations and my scribbled ideas filled post-it notes, gum wrappers and grocery receipts – anything I could get my hands on before I lost a thought.

I never wanted to write a book as such.  The concept of having a platform and marketing myself not only did not appeal to me, but actually seemed antithetical to Biblical teaching.  I just could not convince myself that strategizing and posturing for success was what the Lord had in mind for me.  I still feel this way.

A couple of years ago I attended a wonderful Revive Our Heart conference in Indianapolis that was preceded by a workshop on writing.  Lore Ferguson Wilbert, one of the speakers, has long been my favorite blogger/writer.  We all sat attentively in our classroom, pens poised for note taking, anticipating her words of encouragement and instruction.  She smiled, leaned forward and in her most loving and gentle voice, spoke words that pierced my soul:

“The world does not need your words.  The Word has already spoken.”

The room fell silent.  This advice, I’m convinced, is the best and most godly I could have received .  It has lessened the frazzle of having to have something to say all the time.  And it’s also continued to challenge me to weigh my writing in the frame of the Kingdom.

“For we who live, are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”  2 Corinthians 4:11

We all need to die to many things, moment by moment, so that His life is manifested in us.  And it may be that this includes my writing.  I need to die to thinking that God needs my words.  He doesn’t.  Can He use them?  Yes, if he desires to, for only He can breathe life into them.

In recent years, I’ve found myself disconnecting from the preponderance of faith-based blogs, websites, etc.  They litter my in-box and suck time away from better things.  Maybe like me, you get drawn in and 30 minutes later you don’t know where the time went.  Even worse, you can’t give an account of what you read that ensnared you.

Quality writing can still be found.  But a search for that which compels us to know Him deeply, can be like fishing pieces of eggshell from a broken egg.  It’s slippery.  We are confused by a thousand voices that invite us into Christian culture.  Offered are tasty things that are good and enjoyable but may be short on solid truth and mind renewal.

I’ve taken a break over the past several months to reassess my writing and its purpose.  I will continue to plant the occasional seed of a post from time to time, realizing my place in the greater scheme of life.  It may be that just cracking the door open again will bring on a flood of thoughts worth writing about.  God is good that way.  He knows when my heart is where it should be.

Everyone who writes will have hits and misses.  But there is a challenge for all of us – those who write and those who feast upon it – to be discerning.  Please don’t let my words or anyone else’s become a snare to you.




Bridging the Divide


I came into this world with white skin.  I’ll never be a person of color, so my insight is limited to what I hear from one who does life from that point of view.  I’m sickened by the thought that I might see a person of a different skin color as less than me in any way.  God’s image stamped upon us declares value on every human life, and I dare not mar that image.

I only remember one person of color who attended my high school, a daunting position for sure.  Unfortunately, I was too traumatized by my own insecurity to see another’s burdens.  I never felt any superiority, but had little contact.  Our paths just didn’t cross. College and church opened up more opportunities but still they were brief and superficial encounters.  Over the years, I’ve noticed an absence of friendships of diversity, unintentional on my part, but perhaps that’s the point.  It’s so easy to dwell among those who are like you.

With all the conflict and violence of late, I’ve been trying to read and learn about racial reconciliation.  I vacillate between horrible grief over the atrocities, and annoyance over accusations of universal bigotry that I’m unaware of within my heart. Many would say that while I may bear no personal prejudice, my “white privilege” perspective limits my vision for what exists culturally. The very phrase floods me with guilt and shame.   But it also makes me feel helpless.  I had no control over the family I was born into, the affluence in which I was raised or the education offered me.  Yet I understand that with privilege comes responsibility.  And maybe this is the nudge that I feel.

Recently when in public, I’ve experienced an increased eye contact with other races and ethnicities.  The exchange, though limited, has been sweet.  Do they feel as I do?  Are they saying with their eyes, “I do not represent the current hostility and misunderstanding. I long for more.  Do you?”  Never have I had so many strangers in the course of my day ask how I’m doing, smile my direction, or make casual conversation in line.  I suspect there are many of us, who though silent on the spectrum of protests and hate filled articles, have a message of peace, longing and friendship pulsating within our hearts.  This is what I want to be attuned to.  Not the drumbeat of division as proclaimed by the media, but the reverberations of human connection.

So how do we close the existing gap?  How do we start the conversation?  Or better yet, how do we stop talking and start listening so that we can cross these unholy borders?  I wish I had easy answers.  It may begin with an acceptance that a problem exists.  And if our neighborhoods and local churches do not create a natural flow, then we, ourselves, must discover spaces that nurture this relational component.

In college, I read the book “Black Like Me”.  The author, John Howard Griffin, underwent a dramatic physical and medical treatment to temporarily change his white appearance to that of a black man.  He recognized that he would have to get behind the black man’s skin in order to see through his eyes.  His experience, though published in 1961, was insight into the misunderstanding between races that still persists today.

Jesus also took on a skin not his own when he came to dwell among us.  But it wasn’t for lack of understanding of us, but that so we could see God in Him. Maybe that alone is enough reason for us to reach out – to let others see Jesus in us.

In a world rife with discord, our efforts can reflect our Savior to a watching world and that might be the most important step anyone can take.



Lessons from the Back of a Harley

I must confess, I never planned to ride a motorcycle.  As a former ER nurse, I have seen my share of rides gone bad and many did not have happy endings.  But when your beloved’s passion rests here, one has to at least reassess perspective.  In the short time I’ve been riding, there are a few things I’ve learned that oddly enough mirror living a life of faith

Know your Driver

I’m not by nature a confident passenger.  When I first began riding, I clung to my husband’s middle, grasping for flesh, shirt or whatever I could find to secure myself.  But I’ve learned to trust; to align myself with the rhythm and leanings of my husband’s body rather than fight them.  We then can begin to move as one.  When I refuse, it makes his job more difficult.  Like a drowning person who finally relinquishes himself to the lifeguard, I’ve stopped fighting for a false sense of control.  I know this man and he is worthy of my trust.

Similarly, God is the driver of my faith and life. There are times when I assume I know better than He. My limited perspective obscures reality, promising a more desirable outcome.  The years have proven that wrong.  He alone is worthy of ALL my trust.  So when fear grips me, I can choose to lean into His will for my life, because I know him as my Father.

Be prepared

Before I climb on, there are some important steps of preparation.  A helmet protects my head from that unexpected accident while goggles protect my eyes from insects and flying debris.  I wear long pants to protect from the heat of the motor and leather boots to secure my footing.  The sun’s piercing rays are repelled by the necessary application of sunblock.  These are things I know to do out of wisdom and experience and are key to the safety and joy of the whole riding experience.

The Bible provides a prep of its own.  It counsels us to hide His Word in our hearts and to put on the full armor of God. It says to forgive, pray, love deeply and be humble; to clothe ourselves with compassion and give sacrificially. These admonitions protect us from the weakness of our flesh, the assault of the enemy and our naive invincibility.  The One who created us cautions us to be alert and prepared in order to navigate the twists and turns of this life.  He knows what we need in order to be prepared for this earthly walk.

Enjoy the scenery

There is so much to behold on a ride through the southwest desert.  From flowering cacti and wild horses,  to mountains that ascend out of fields of waving grain.  On a recent morning, we passed a humble clapboard house on the Indian reservation  where a native couple relaxed on their front porch.  I thought to myself – “What a simple life they have and how few their wants must be.”  But then I turned my head and caught the majestic mountain range to which they were facing.  With all my blessings,  I could never claim a view of such magnificence.

In the busyness of life, I miss so much of a beauty that doesn’t require wealth to enjoy.  Often all I need is a change of mental perspective to really see.  Sometimes it’s found in nature but other times in the face of a grandchild, or words spoken by a friend.  Sometimes it’s in a discovery of God’s truth or through the blessing of music.  But I’m assured none of this without a bit of intentionality. My eyes will see what my mind is attuned to.

We’re family

As with anything else that unites people, motorcycle riders have a sense of belonging.  When we pass one another on the road, there’s a certain hand wave done to signify the relationship  It’s a type of brotherhood, described by Aaron Cortez of the Bike Bandit blog as “…a way to show some solidarity with people you don’t even know, just because they’re riders like you.”  And if you’re stranded on the side of the road and a brother comes along, you can be pretty sure help has arrived.  Riders share a sense of family.

But there’s something much sweeter in a family of faith that transcends hand waves and roadside rescues.  Though the church is a gathering of imperfect people, we are still the “Bride of Christ”. Rescues occur here as well, but ones of eternal proportions.   And because we know this world is not our home, our joy persists through difficulties.  If you aren’t committed to a Gospel centered church, you’re missing out.   Solo Christians are about as common as unicorns.

We’re planning our next trip. This one will take us through twists and turns, and up and down mountainous desert terrain.  I’m scared and excited.  But know this: No ride can ever thrill like the ride with the Lover of my Soul.  And this one lasts an eternity.








Seeking and Finding

Dear Seeker Church,

I understand.  I know that there are loads of people that walk through the church door who don’t know why they are there.  It isn’t as if they have had some apostolic vision calling them to your church.  And you think if things can be orchestrated nicely, just maybe they’ll come back.  Send them home with free gifts and tee shirts bearing the name of your church; reward them when they return and surely these will be enticements to coming on board.

But I fear you may have missed the mark.

There’s a striking difference between luring someone to church and drawing someone into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Do we really need to nurture the consumeristic fever that permeates our culture?    Is this really what Jesus meant when he told the disciples he would make them fishers of men?

Perhaps if we spent more time making disciples rather than bench warmers INSIDE the church, there might be an authentic influx of those OUTSIDE the church.  Disciples breed and nurture disciples.  Programs beget…well, more programs.

There is no greater tragedy than those who sit in our pews, congratulating themselves for their attendance and bearing the name of Christian to the world, but whose untransformed hearts make a mockery of Jesus Christ and His bride.  I fear we’ve been far too easily tamed and molded into the shape of the world with the resultant loss of our message.  We must become a people with a flame burning deep inside that warms those in our midst.  God cannot be an addition to our lives, but must take over and progressively swallow up the self that rages and demands.If we’re not careful, our name may be on the church roster having never understood our sin and the magnitude of God’s grace and mercy.

I’m burdened for this because I was one of those.  And I was pierced in my barrenness even as I served in leadership positions in the church and thought I had it together.

The church must never forget: Only when we, ourselves, have been transformed by the Gospel, will we have the capability of drawing and transforming others in our midst.

Rosaria Butterfield said: “We may never know the treacherous journey people have taken to land in the pew next to us.”

Do we really want to send them on their way with only empty tokens?

Our message must always be:

Come into our midst and taste that the Lord is good. But there is more.  We’re not a country club but a stable.  We are a broken and imperfect people, hungering after a perfect God who is here among us.  We cannot clean you up, but He will take your meager offering of self and transform you.  And if you think life is hard now, the journey ahead with Jesus will be wonderful but unlike any you’ve ever undertaken.  It will take all of you.  If you come empty, He will fill.  But He will not polish your resume or guarantee health and prosperity.  Your heart will be broken a thousand times; you’ll have to forgive when it’d be easier to hold a grudge and you’ll likely have to die to self over and over again.  You’ll serve when you don’t feel like it and hold your tongue when you’d love to give a lashing.  Because once you really see Him and know Him, the value of all else plummets, assuming its rightful place.   This is what we as the church have to offer.  Only this.

So come.  Come see Jesus among us.  There will be no tokens given for your visit. 

But He will be your great reward.

Sweet Silence

Oh, beautiful silence

How you strum the chords of my heart.

You know me like no other,

Yet you live as an alien in a world

That espouses perpetual connection.

Ears heavy with noise leave no room for you.

The most vociferous sounds yielding the least,

Even while monopolizing airwaves.

Our world continues at a deafening pace and in peril,

A house with a shaky foundation.

As in the days of Isaiah,

It is ever hearing, without understanding.

No room for pause,

To think, to feel, to see one’s heart.

You, silence, are viewed as empty and lacking,

Yet you fill.

Seen as purposeless,

Yet you invite meaning.

For in your quiet,

I hear.

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