In Other Words…

Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.

Hosea 2:14

Allure– verb, to attract or tempt by something flattering or desirable

Desert– noun

  • 1. any area in which few forms of life can exist because of lack of water, permanent frost, or absence of soil
  • 2. any place lacking in something

Disobedience…discipline…wilderness…whispered invitation…return of the prodigal…

Israel was a prodigal, again and again, as am I. Hosea spoke of Israel’s sin, God’s response, and their subsequent reunion. This cycle, my life. The words of love whispered, but only once I am in the desert. Why? Because I won’t listen otherwise. I am distracted, drawn away, by the voices around me that are so much louder, that have so much more weight.

His voice gently touches and steps back, waiting to see what I will do with the words He’s spoken. Often I ignore them. Often I pretend I haven’t heard. Often I turn away, and run.

A true desert has nothing to do with temperature. Dryness is what makes a desert. Antartica is desert, Sahara is desert, both are arid- one cold, one hot. As are my days, some hot- full of strife, anger, frustration; some cold- full of withdrawal and silence. Those desert days may have different surfaces, different textures, yet both need to be saturated with the Living Water.

I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the deserts into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.

Isaiah 41:18

Yes, God can allure us into deserts, places that lack something we think we need, where we can be confronted instead with our need for Him, and be filled.


He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither…

Psalm 1:3

Visit Heather for more “In Other Words”.

In Other Words

They gave our Master a crown of thorns.
Why do we hope for a crown of roses?
Dr. Martin Luther

When I read the quote that Iris chose for this week I knew I must post on it today. I didn’t even know what I would say, but it spoke to me quite strongly. As I began thinking about it, I was reminded of the following poem entitled, “I Asked God”, author unknown…

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey;
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things;

I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise;
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of man,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God;

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy things;
I got nothing that I asked for – but everything I had hoped for,
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered,
I am among all men, most richly blessed.

There is a simple answer to this quote’s question. The reason we hope for (dare I say expect) a crown of roses is because we are human. We are full of pride and a sense of entitlement. Especially in our western mindset, the feeling of being deserving of good things and a hardship-free life pervades all we do. This is even true of Christians. And I speak for myself first.

I am guilty of wanting it all to be easy. And life, of course, is not. It is often messy, painful, and overwhelming. But as the poem expresses, it is in these character-building moments and unexpected twists and turns that we find jewels amidst the chaos. Appreciation only comes when we realize that what we have is something worth appreciating. Someone struggling with infertility has profound appreciation for the gift of a child. Someone who has been through an illness has appreciation for health that others may miss. Someone who has loved and lost will appreciate true love even more deeply when it again appears. Someone who has nothing will more sincerely appreciate God’s presence.

Decisively wearing the crown of thorns, as Jesus did, and wearing it gracefully and humbly, is the only way to bloom. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

Visit Iris and be blessed today.

In Other Words

Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched. Why would you really want to do that?

~ Henri Nouwen ~

Does anyone really know you?

(Lord, you have searched me and you know me…)

Are there places in your soul that are unreachable?

(Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

Do you fear that your darkness is impenetrable?

(This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Are you afraid of being touched where it hurts?

(He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge.

Do not be afraid of being known

(There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed,
or hidden that will not be made known.

For in being known there is security

(I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

there is forgiveness

(I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.

there is guidance

(See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

there is holiness

(Let us draw near to God…having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience…)

there is grace

(For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…it is the gift of God.)

there is love

(“As I have loved you, so you must love one another…”)

The desire to be known is divine.

(“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know me and believe me and understand that I am he.”)

Allow that Someone in. Let Him make your darkness light and heal your untouchable places. For there are riches waiting to be found.

Why would you want to do that, indeed?

Because I AM, says the Lord.


In Other Words

*For the Honor Your Husband Challenge, go here.

“As Christians, we are called to convert our loneliness into solitude. We are called to experience our aloneness not as a wound but as a gift–as God’s gift–so that in our aloneness we might discover how deeply we are loved by God.”

~ Henri Nouwen ~

When I was a child and teenager, I loved being by myself. I would choose to be alone reading over almost anything else. I had friends, my preference being a couple of good friends over a gaggle of girls, but often I would not want to call anyone to play. My mom worried about me a bit, but essentially allowed me to be me.

Even now, I enjoy my solitude. If given a choice between a night out with the girls and a night all to myself with no responsibilities, I’d probably choose being alone. Much of my most peaceful time with the Lord is spent just “being”, without a lot of purposed activity to mar our relationship.

Henri Nouwen, in the compilation of writings on prayer, The Only Necessary Thing, contrasts the three concepts of aloneness, solitude, and loneliness. Aloneness, he says, is just a fact. It is the uniqueness God built into each one of us. There is no one like us in the world. We can either experience this aloneness as loneliness or solitude. If given the choice, we’d all choose solitude, I believe.

But sometimes I find that I am lonely. The kind of deep loneliness that can come even in the midst of a crowd. The kind of loneliness that tells me no one knows what I’m going through; or no one would care for me if they really knew me. These lies detract from our relationship with God and other people and come straight from that neverending well called pride.

“Loneliness is one of the greatest sources of suffering today. It is the disease of our time.”

If I, a Christ-follower, one who loves and is loved by our Creator God, can be mired in loneliness, how much more can those who don’t know Christ be fooled. How can we give others the message of saving grace if we ourselves take on our aloneness as a wound rather than something to transform into time spent with God?

It is precisely where we are most alone, most unique, most ourselves, that God is closest to us. That is where we experience God as the divine, loving Father, who knows us better than we know ourselves.

When I choose to believe that no one knows, no one understands, I render useless the sacrifice Jesus made. I tell Him that what He did for me didn’t really matter. But when I look to Him for comfort, knowing that He suffered and was tempted in every way, I can see Him in others and feel the bond of brotherhood that He intended for His body.

Solitude is a wonderful thing. Loneliness can be a gift as well. I long to make them one and the same.

In Other Words

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”
~ Oswald Chambers ~

Faith is something we all talk about, read about, pray about. But how many times do we exercise that faith in an obvious, jump-off-a-cliff-and-know-he’s-going-to-catch-me kind of way? I have had a few of those moments in my life, none so meaningful for me as the leap of faith I took when deciding whether or not to attend grad school.

I was fresh out of my bachelor’s degree, teaching at a beautiful little girl’s academy in South Florida’s posh Coconut Grove. Jason had moved up to the midwest to attend grad school, we were dating and trying to figure out where to go from here. I decided to audition at the school he was attending and hoped for acceptance and a full scholarship, which was the requirement I set to justify moving from where I was. At the same time, the school I was working at as a temporary sub to finish the school year offered me a wonderful contract with a great salary. I loved that school, but I loved Jason too. I was praying for the scholarship to come through.

Time passed after my audition. I finally heard of my acceptance and was waiting for news of scholarship. The scholarship decisions took longer than usual. I called the admissions office every Friday like clockwork and always received the same answer- no decisions yet. I was beginning to get nervous.

The headmistress, a formidable and intimidating nun, pressed me to sign my contract, but I put her off.

Why, God, is this taking so long? And why are you silent on this matter? Should I go or not?

I prayed each day for a sign. I wanted something concrete to tell me what my decision should be. I wanted that scholarship. I didn’t want to be in debt up to my eyeballs if I had a perfectly wonderful job opportunity in hand.

I cried to Jason about my dilemma. I put off the headmistress again. They gave me an extension on my contract and I waited. Still no answer from the admissions office.

One clear morning in late May I was sitting in my classroom during a planning period (I had pretty much the entire morning for planning…you can’t get any better than that!!) with my head in my hands crying out to God for an answer.

You already know My answer. You have to make the leap of faith. Don’t accept the contract.

I heard God’s voice as if He were in the room with me. Right then and there I decided to go to be with Jason and that afternoon I turned down the contract. It was a Thursday. I felt completely at peace.

The next day I got the call. I had received a full scholarship. I felt God’s smile and a surge of gratefulness for His provision and the words He had lovingly given me. His work was so obvious in that situation and my faith grew by leaps and bounds that day. I never looked back.

Faith is more often needed for the little things from day to day. The small things allow us to flex our spiritual muscles so we’re ready for the big things. Faith as a mustard seed is all that’s needed and God can grow it if we’re open. Then we can be ready to jump off that cliff when He asks. His arms are up to the task of catching us on the way down and lifting us higher than we were before.

Visit Iris for more thoughts on the quote today!

In Other Words

Busyness is not a spiritual gift.
Lisa Harper

“We need chaperones for the youth mission trip, are you available to help out?”

“Sunday School teachers needed! Sign up today!”

“You’re a tenor, right? How about singing in the choir?”

“We need helpers in the kitchen for our yearly women’s luncheon, can we count on you?”

I have to admit, I am one of those people quoted above. In my work at our church, I rely on volunteers to keep my music ministry running. Soloists, music librarians, meal providers, there is no end to the list of ways to serve in the church. And they all seem like such worthwhile ways to spend our time, don’t they?

But I have a secret to tell you, right from the mouth of a church staff member:

I respect those people who know their limits, prayerfully consider a request and say no when it doesn’t rank high on their list of priorities.

Now those of you who know me from church, don’t always say no, OK??

On a serious note, though, there have been certain individuals who are very faithful to the call that God has placed on their lives in serving the church through the music or other ministries and yet have set clear boundaries so that they keep a balance in their life. They put family first, look for ways to serve in the areas of their gifts, and keep their plates from overflowing with too many “good” things.

In Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna Weaver digs deeply into this topic of balance.

While there are many things that need to be done, things I’m capable of doing and want to do, I am not always the one to do them. Even if I have a burden for a certain need or project, my interest or concern is not a surefire sign that I need to be in charge. God may only be calling me to pray that the right person will rise up to accomplish it. What’s more, I may be stealing someone else’s blessing when I assume I must do it all.

I have so many ways I want to serve- with and without my family. I have felt a call to begin a nursing home ministry, work with Habitat for Humanity through our church, and join the women’s prison ministry. I would love to teach Sunday school classes, begin a Titus 2 ministry, and maybe work as a Stephen’s minister. Could you imagine if I jumped in with both feet into all of these projects? My life would be ten times as chaotic and I couldn’t possibly serve with a full heart and mind in each ministry. While there are many noble endeavors, they are not all meant for this season of my life.

In the story of Mary and Martha and their hospitality, Jesus chides Martha for her worry and busyness while praising Mary’s attention to the “one thing that is needed”- spending time at his feet. God’s desire for us first is clear in Isaiah:

“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.”

We are first and foremost to know him, then service will be a natural outgrowth of what we know and believe and understand of our loving God. Martha’s “fault was not that she served, [but] that she grew ‘cumbered with much serving’, so that she forgot him and only remembered the service.” (Charles Spurgeon) I want to make sure my relationship with God in Christ is an everyday one and not let desire to take on too much, or even guilt from not doing enough, keep me from Jesus’ feet.

Lisa Harper is right. Busyness is not a spiritual gift. We do each have at least one spiritual gift, however, and it’s important to know what it is. If you’ve never taken a spiritual gift assessment, you can find one here. As a part of the body of Christ, I look forward to doing my part. In Joanna Weaver’s book she quotes Jill Briscoe in saying,

“It’s a great release to know that the secret to ‘doing it all’ is not necessarily doing it all but rather discovering which part of the ‘all’ he has given us to do and doing all of that.”

I don’t have any illusions of having tons of free time, but I want to feel as if I can devote myself to the ‘one thing’ that’s most important and listen for God’s call in my life without taking on every service activity that speaks to me. Then the things I do choose will be more meaningful and have more of an impact for Christ.

In Other Words

“Ancient Words, ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart.”

~ Lynn DeShazo~

I went from a life without God to a life following Christ in a moment, though the journey since then has been a step at a time. I gave my life to Christ in the living room of my pastor when I was in college. Before then, I knew nothing about Jesus and even looked down upon Christians for living as “puppets”. With faith as a mustard seed, for I had many things I could not yet accept about a life of belief, I took the first step. Pastor E. and his wife loved me through that evening in their home, and nurtured me during the months following. He told me to first read James, for that was the basic blueprint for living the Christian life. I immediately read James, and then other epistles and the gospels, to better understand this faith that I had recently found.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

James 1:22

The quote today speaks of the bible as containing “Ancient Words”. They may have seemed ancient to me when I first began my Christian journey, but the older I get, the more current they become. James was so simple and sincere in his command: Do what it says. So simple, and yet a command that people spend their entire lives trying to accomplish. Have those ancient words changed me? Yes. Are they still? Every day. My first bible, given to me on the event of my baptism as a twenty-year-old, is a treasure- a well-worn and highlighted one. I read back over the verses that spoke to me throughout the years and follow my maturity one hill and valley at a time. An open heart is all it takes to enter its pages and be changed. My journey of 13 years seems at once like a lifetime, and the blink of an eye.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

James 3:17

I desire that wisdom. I want to be changed day by day. I live to reach the goal of Christ-likeness.

“O let the ancient words impart”, indeed!

In Other Words- I hope…

Iris has a wonderful quote to guide us in thinking about and experiencing Passion Week. Unfortunately Jason has a colleague coming in town and staying here tonight so I have no time to post on it! If I can, I’ll do it later, but in the meantime, go check with those who are participating at Iris’ place.

“At the heart of the story stands the cross
of Christ where evil did
its worst and met its match.”

~ John Wenham ~

In Other Words

“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before…either into a creature that is in harmony with God,…or into one that is in a state of war with God. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

We have a CD for the car that has a hodgepodge of Christian kids’ stories told by different actors. One of them is the story of Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness and the actor refers to the Israelites as the “Moaning Moanheads”, meaning that they moan and complain a lot. The kids just eat it up. This story has prompted many a discussion about obedience and the choices we make daily to follow what God says or ignore Him. And the delivery of the story is just plain hilarious, so that doesn’t hurt.

I used to find it easy to look at the story of the Israelites and wonder how they could possibly keep on disobeying. My goodness, if I saw even a few of the miracles they saw, I’d be bending over backward to obey and make right choices. But the more I grew in my faith, the more I realized that I make wrong choices all the time and I have few hardships in my life to blame. The choices may be small most of the time, but put in the context of C.S. Lewis’ brilliance, I began to see that even the smallest turning away from God was a turning toward myself and would lead me to eventually become something I did not want to be.

I thought of myself on a plane of behavior much like the one below. I am the X and every decision in behavior or thought-life would either take me toward Christ or toward myself. There is no other way to go. “Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.” Knowing that God gave me power over my daily choices in the form of free will humbles me and keeps me seeking to right myself over and over again.


Those Israelites have given me a lot of food for thought throughout my faith journey. Even Moses wasn’t allowed into the promised land because of his choice to be disobedient. I expect God to discipline me and get me back on the right track- through the Holy Spirit, through godly advice from friends, through a pointed verse in scripture- and my goal is to always have more steps forward than back so my ‘X’ keeps on heading in the right direction.

In Other Words…

“One of the secrets to a happy marriage is remembering the source of our joy, which is not one another. The source of our joy is the Lord. Yes, we share tons of joyous moments, but we don’t expect, let alone demand, endless joy-filled moments from each other.”
~ Liz Curtis Higgs ~

I love that God made Jason to fill my gaps. The quote from Jerry McGuire, “You complete me”, when spoken biblically, is so true. God has made each of us to uniquely fill the needs of our spouse. But when we expect our spouse to fill our emptiness we are expecting more than they can provide. I believe much of our emptiness comes when we don’t find the joy in what God has already given us. It is our selfish nature to burden our spouses because of our inability to find contentment in life. I admit that especially earlier in our marriage I had the tendency to blame Jason for my insecurities and discontentment.

This is the solution:

Happiness…in married life is not an mere accident. When the union has been formed, as most Christian unions are, by God Himself, it is His intention and His will that it shall prove the unspeakable joy of both husband and wife and become more and more so from year to year.
Elizabeth Prentiss in Stepping Heavenward

God’s will is for us to first find fulfillment in Him, and then experience joy with each other. I think it also can cause deep joy to share in each others failures and sorrows. All of marriage, the good and the bad times, when rooted in God, can bring about a lasting joy that springs from filling the gaps for each other. I am so grateful for the strengths Jason possesses in my areas of weakness, and am honored to share my strengths with him. This is one of the greatest joys in marriage.

I am not always seeking “joyous moments”. Instead I want God to show me the joy inherent in who Jason and I are as a couple through the life we share from day to day.

Visit Darlene to read many other thoughts about this quote.