RUN!

[This excerpt is from Sara's ebook devotional Up to Know Good Daily Inspirations, on sale for only 99¢ March 21-28.]

I work from home and the other day I found myself looking into my pantry. I wasn’t hungry. I just wanted some chocolate to help me deal with my stress.

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As I stood there, I started to make a deal with myself. If I get some work done, then I can eat some. Suddenly I realized what I was doing. I firmly shut the door and ran down the stairs to my office determined to get my work done before the end of the day.

Do Good–Temptations look different for each of us. It might be TV, chocolate, too much time at the computer, etc. Whatever unhealthy choice you are facing today, do not stop and negotiate with it. Simply turn and run the other way.

I not only finished the tasks I was dreading that day, I also started on some other work. Though turning away from the chocolate was difficult, I left my office that evening feeling elated at what I had accomplished.

“She caught him by the cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left the cloak in her hand and ran out of the house” (Genesis 39:12).

God, help us to see through our temptations and courageously run away from them.

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When Will I Be Grown Up?

My four year old moves the rocking chair in the living room back and forth. With her legs too short to reach the floor and swaying in rhythm, she looks like she’s swinging more than rocking.

“When will I be grown up?” She calls into the adjoining kitchen.

As I do my domestic dance–my preferred way of describing walking countless times around the kitchen as I prepare a meal–I hesitate before giving a glib answer.

In that pause God whispers to my heart, “This is the question you’ve been asking me.”

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I look at my daughter in her pink tiara, several layers of shirts and dresses and neon blue and yellow striped socks. A lump forms in my throat. I enjoy her being four–innocent yet smart, sweet yet stubborn. But she wants to grow up.

“It takes years to grow up, Honey. You’re a little more grown up today than yesterday, and tomorrow you’ll grow a little more.”

She stops rocking and stares at me.

“But if you’re wanting a specific time, you are considered an adult when you’re 18. That’s when you can vote and join the army.” (I have no idea why I tell her about enlisting in the military, but there you go.)

“Okay,” she says, and then in typical Princess fashion twirls away onto something else.

Meanwhile, I return to my domestic dance so we can eat lunch soon. The daily grind goes on, and I struggle to accept it. I swallow down tears and confusion.

God, when will I grow up? A simple response whispers in my spirit. Two scriptures:

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Psalms 126:5-6
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.

A harvest. Sheaves. (Umm, what exactly, God?)

From dictionary.com:
Harvest (n)
1. a crop or yield of one growing season.
One lifetime? My lifetime?

2. a supply of anything gathered at maturity and stored: a harvest of wheat.
Okay, not until the crop is ready. That makes sense.

3. the result or consequence of any act, process, or event: The journey yielded a harvest of wonderful memories.
Definitely in this case a process. God said in Galatians to not grow weary. Anyone can hang in to see how one act or one event in life will turn out. God asks us to wait and see what the process will produce.

Sheaves, plural of Sheaf
-noun
1. one of the bundles in which cereal plants, as wheat, rye, etc., are bound after reaping.

2. any bundle, cluster, or collection: a sheaf of papers.
Okay, now I’m getting excited. So God promises not just one shaft of wheat, and not even just one sheaf, but bundles of bundles?! Yes, sow those tears, and God promises loads of joy in return.

I might know 12 people like that–full of joy, living in the reality of Christ day-by-day. Most people, even Christians, are polite, superficially nice. Some are grumpy, bitter, cynical, in denial, or simply shut down. “Do you want to grow up?” I hear the Spirit inquire. Yes. Yes I do.

As much as I love my daughter at four, I cannot wait to see the young woman she will be in 20 years. With a smile, I imagine my heavenly Daddy saying something similar about me. A little more deeply I trust His goodness and believe the harvest will come in the right time. For today I think I’ll go swing in the rocker.

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The Answer Is “You”

“Do you know who the pearl is?” Kathy asked me. My mind stumbled as I quickly found Matthew 13:45. I love having a search function in my eBible. Did you know “pearl” only appears three times in Scripture? Anyway …

I found it and silently read Matthew 13:45-46:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

As I searched and scanned in my Bible, Kathy went on. “Of course Jesus is a Pearl of Great Price and a Treasure. But for the first time, God showed me that I’m the pearl. I’m. The. Pearl.”

The next morning I found the passage again. Despite sipping decaf coffee, I slowly woke up. I read the parable imagining an 18th century distinguished merchant sailing on oceans world-wide looking for the best jewels money could buy. Then the last two words arrested me, bringing other verses to mind.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; YOU WERE BOUGHT AT A PRICE. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, emphasis mine).

Like a movie, my mind went from the high-seas to the cross. The picture zoomed in on Christ’s bloody, pinned, mangled body. He looked at me as He exhaled and literally gave His last breath for me. In that moment, I was bought.

Tears streamed down my face. I searched for the tissues and prayed. “Oh, God. I didn’t realize. I knew in my mind, but I didn’t really believe. I’ve still been trying to be beautiful according to the mirror and the scale. I’ve been trying to reach significance through mothering and ministry. Thank You for literally giving EVERYTHING, down to Your last divine breath. I believe You. I am the pearl.”


–>Do you know you are beautiful and significant? Is so–please share how in the comments below so we may further encourage one another.


In this self-important world, too often I downplay the ache inside for beauty and value. But God created me with a need to matter. Then Jesus came, stretched out His arms, and invited me into life that overflows with love and purpose.

You and I are not special in the one in a million way. In all of human history, we are each one of a kind! God saw you and gave up everything else so you could be His. YOU are the pearl. Let the Merchant adore and treasure you.

The day I realized I was His pearl, I (uncharacteristically) got a manicure with pearly white polish. Knowing how quickly I forget, my fingernails remind me: I’m. The. Pearl.

–>What can you do today to remember God’s great love for you?


“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

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The Death of a “Pet”

Today, September 19, 2013, my life-long companion Underdog passed away. Underdog was known for her self-pitying, self-loathing, yet prideful posture. On walks she looked mostly at the ground with a smirk on her snout that suggested she expected a reward for this later on. Sometimes she received doggie treats, but never enough to satiate her enormous hunger.

Underdog was needy all the time. Her nick-name was Never Enough. When not sulking, she lay at home, whining. She whined to be pet with affection. She begged to be fed from the table. She pawed pitifully for recognition.

Underdog, however, never achieved the great destiny she believed she deserved. Instead her posture eventually left her crippled. Her appetite left her grossly unhealthy, and her incessant whining left her alone and abandoned by even those who tried to love her.

The death of my “pet” is a day to celebrate. I have walked and taken care of Underdog long enough! Today, in the great process of becoming more like Jesus Christ, instead of being tugged along by Underdog, I walk taller and freer Under God.

What pet attitudes or beliefs keep you company? What lies do you live with?

God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, He followed it up by calling people by name. After He called them by name, He set them on a solid basis with Himself. And then, after getting them established, He stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what He had begun. –Romans 8:29-30 (The Message)

God, thank You for setting us free from lies that have become destructive companions to us. Make us like Jesus. We praise You for the destiny and freedom we truly have in You.

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In The Deep

Growing up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (i.e. on the border of Minnesota) I was forced to take swimming lessons.

I felt awkward and uncoordinated. Every year when lessons began I’d panic, fearful of looking like a fool. It didn’t help that I became the oldest in my swim group–lagging behind my peers in all ways aquatic.

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Finally I passed Beginners and moved up to Advanced and then the Intermediate class. With each progression, I moved into deeper water. Eventually I met the goal and could keep myself alive and afloat when my feet were far from the bottom of the pool.

Lately I have been in the deep with God. I’ve been experiencing suffering in my family, health, relationships and ministry. Little by little in the pain and darkness, God has drawn me into deeper waters.

Getting to know God, however, has been the opposite of swim lessons. Instead of passing tests and learning to rescue myself, I’ve sunk to the bottom. I have let dreams, relationships, and most importantly my ego drop away like airless life savers.

God is becoming the air I breathe, the Spirit that moves me, the heart that beats in me. I’m starting to understand moment by moment what Paul meant when he told the Galatians, “I am not my own, I have been crucified with Christ …

When we suffer, let’s sink into His infinite love. Nothing–absolutely nothing!–is deeper than that.

God, You are amazing. Help us to know You and believe You. You hold us in the suffering and comfort us. May we relax in the reality of Your love for us. Amen.

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The Long Hello

I looked at my telephone as a knot of anxiety tightened in my stomach. What are you waiting for? Pick. Up. The. Phone.

Ambivalence trapped me. On one hand, the longing to connect with a friend  pushed me forward. On the other, embarrassment about the long silence between us held me back.

Can you relate? You want to talk with that old friend, but it’s been SO LONG that it’s become awkward.

I feel a bit this way as I start to blog again. It’s been awhile since we’ve ‘talked,’ and there is much to catch up on. Still, all of my reasons to stay quiet are pretty silly. So …

HELLO! I’ve missed you. I’ve missed being in contact with you through this blog. Not to mention there really IS a lot to catch up.

Where to begin? Right here with “hello.” I will catch you up on my recent journeys through darkness, light, confusion and clarity, and I welcome hearing a hi back from you.

For today, blessings to you. It’s time to be Up to Know Good again together. Let’s start by greeting each other kindly. Blessings to you today, Dear One!

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.  –1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

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Pursuing Peace

When I think of the word peace I imagine something like this:

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or this:

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I rarely imagine this:

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But the Bible tells us again and again that we must pursue peace.

We don’t have to look far to understand this truth. We eat and create dirty dishes daily. What if we didn’t wash dishes? Ever. Actually, I don’t need to imagine. I can just think back to my first apartment the summer after my sophomore year of college.

Three boys had lived there during the school year. One had never done dishes. Or thrown away opened cans of food. Apparently the landlord was too scared to clean for us, too. (Ew!)

Cleanliness requires effort. Peace does too.

“Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it,” (Psalm 34:14).

To have spotless dishes, we wash them with soapy water. To have peaceful minds, we bathe them in the truth of the Word.

–> Are you pursuing peace or hoping it will just happen to you?

When I am anxious, I need to make an effort to open my Bible, find time alone, and pray. It may not change my circumstances, but time with God definitely changes me.

Lord, give us energy to pursue Your peace and the discipline to immerse ourselves in Your Words everyday. Amen.

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Wilted

Remember my beautiful plants from a few weeks ago?

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Here they are today:

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After only a day or two away and without watering, they’ve wilted.

Some travel and circumstances have left me feeling the same. I’m tired. Tiny challenges discourage. Insignificant decisions overwhelm. Small stuff makes me sweat.

My plants and I need some Water.

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters…” (Isaiah 55:1).

I’m pretty sure the petunias will perk up after I give them a drink. I need some rest, but I also need the spiritual refreshment of God’s Word.

How often do you read your Bible? How often do I?

Click the link above to read all of Isaiah 55 and ask questions. Who is speaking? Who is the audience? What do these words say to you personally? What else comes to mind as you meditate on this passage? Don’t simply read it. Drink it and let fill you.

Time to water my plants. And yes, they’ll probably need more water tomorrow. That’s okay–so will I.

Lord, refresh and nourish our wilted spirits with Your Word. Amen.

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Lemonade Stands and Free eBooks

Sitting out on the curb on mom’s green and white striped tri-fold plastic lawn chair, I yelled at each passing neighbor, “Lemonade! Lemonade for sale!”

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An upside-down laundry basket held the pitcher and cups. My best friend sat beside me. I was in business.

In some ways, I’ve never shut down that sticky, sloppy stand. Being an entrepreneur is fun, exciting, and hopeful. But in all my ventures so far, I’ve found one pursuit that is thrilling.

“Preach the word of God…encourage your people with good teaching,” (2 Timothy 4:2 NLT).

No, I’m not a pastor or even technically a preacher. But nothing makes my heart race more than discussing, sharing, and teaching the Word of God.

It’s why I blog. It’s why I am part of Bible Study Fellowship. It’s why I wake up early and study and listen as much as I can throughout my day. God is Life and His Word is life to me.

But now I’ve gone from blogging to gushing (I told you this was still sloppy, sticky work.) Whether you understand the joy I’m describing or are simply curious if you can find it yourself, I invite you to enjoy a free ebook Thursday, July 26th.

Simply go to Amazon or click here for a free copy of Up To Know Good Daily Inspirations. In it, you’ll find over 150 refreshing encounters with our relevant God.

It will be more thirst-quenching than the neighbor kid’s lemonade. I promise, or your “money” back! And if you like it, please share some refreshment with a friend!

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Q4U: How do you give refreshment to others?

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uprooted

BEFORE:

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Fourteen bushes once lined our home. Three remain.

Most were tall and leafless. A couple of others were partially alive, but bare wooden tentacles interlaced with the leafy branches. Not pretty.

AFTER:

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Now there is bare space. It needs cleaning and renewal, but at least the obstacles to replanting are gone.

I even took the leap and bought myself a few pretty plants for the rest of this season.

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While I still have a very low interest overall in landscaping, I’m desperate for beauty around me and life within me.

What are you uprooting? How are you bringing beauty into your life?

At the start of the summer I felt the Lord saying one word repeatedly to my soul: rest. As I take time to be still, I do not always see beauty. I’ve noticed unproductive thought patterns, unhealthy words, and ugly feelings. My first step: uproot them!

Like my bare flowerbeds, areas in my thoughts need cleaning, planning, and replanting, but even in the process I see splashes of color through a verse, a conversation, a song.

May God speak renewal to you through His lovely words. Blessings and beauty to you, dear one.
Song of Songs 2:10-14

Get up, my dear friend,
fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Look around you: Winter is over;
the winter rains are over, gone!
Spring flowers are in blossom all over.
The whole world’s a choir—and singing!
Spring warblers are filling the forest
with sweet arpeggios.
Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed,
and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms.
Oh, get up, dear friend,
my fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Come, my shy and modest dove—
leave your seclusion, come out in the open.
Let me see your face,
let me hear your voice.
For your voice is soothing
and your face is ravishing.

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