Making Time to Play

Yesterday morning I escaped! It was my husband’s idea. I’d been home with a sick child, and he decided I needed a break. I didn’t argue. Just grabbed my camera and ran.

Our favorite groundhog had said, “It’s spring!” So I took him at his word and went flower hunting . . . in the fog . . . mixed with a little rain. I got some great pictures anyway. That’s one thing I love about flower hunting. I never know what I’m going to find to photograph. I see surprises as gifts.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from yesterday morning’s photo shoot:

Ground Hog's Day Flower Hunt
Ground Hog's Day Flower Hunt

That last picture was especially fun. The birds just kept flying in, filling up the tree with the perfect white fog behind them. I moved closer hoping to catch them all taking off at once, but they weren’t afraid of me. When something did spook them, I didn’t have my camera in the right place. It happened so fast! This is all I caught:

Maybe next time I’ll catch the picture! This is a fun practice memory.

That was yesterday’s adventure. Today I am playing with food! A lady from church raises chickens. She sent home a few dozen eggs – just in time! We’d run out this morning. Included in her sweet gift were three quail eggs. I don’t know how to cook them, yet, but they got to be part of a photo shoot! Here they are:

Quail Egg Photo Shoot

And now I’m trying a new recipe. No. It doesn’t involve the quail eggs. But I’ve realized I like to cook, and I’m accepting my daughters’ challenge to find healthy things I can cook that they will like to eat. Tonight we’re having Steak Pizzaiola, courtesy of my Mad Hungry cookbook. (Note: This is not an affiliate link. I just thought you might be interested in learning about this book. If you purchase it, I get nothing. I’m okay with that.) Here’s a picture of my work in progress:

Steak Pizzaiola

I plan to serve it over macaroni with a salad on the side.

  • What’s your favorite way to play?
  • How have you found ways to combine work and play?
  • Is your play restful and rejuvenating or does it seem like work?

That last question was important. If your play feels more like work than rest, maybe it’s time to find a new way to play. Put your imagination to work. What can you see yourself doing just for fun? Make a plan to give it a try . . . or just grab the tools you need some morning and run!

Remember, Celebrate, Tell the World

Remember, Celebrate, Tell the World

“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” -Hebrews 10:1-4

Some questions popped into my head when I read this passage.

I don’t have all the answers, but here is what I asked:

  • Thanks to Jesus’ perfect, one-time sacrifice for all, will we one day have no memory of our sin?
  • Does Him taking away the sins of the world include not only God forgetting, but us forgetting, too?
  • But if we forget, how will we be grateful for what Christ has done for us?
  • What sacrifices do we make today that remind us of our sin year after year?

As I pondered these, I realized that instead of always trying to make it up to God for our sins, something we can never do, we should instead, as Jesus Himself told us to do (Luke 22:19), spend our time remembering and thanking God for Jesus’ sacrifice and all of its benefits. Our guilt is gone! God invites us to celebrate by thanking and praising Him!

Just think about it. In Old Testament times, God’s people were constantly reminded of their sin. If they weren’t offering their own sacrifices, someone else was. These sacrifices involved sights, sounds, and smells that the people encountered every day. The endless sacrifices of animals were constant reminders of the people’s failings before God. They lived with a burden of guilt with no hope for relief.

But Jesus changed all that.

Thanks to His once-for-all sacrifice, we can receive salvation from sin and enjoy a guilt-free, peace-full relationship with God. Instead of offering sacrifices, we can celebrate! We celebrate communion to remember Christ and His work on the cross. We celebrate Christmas to remember His Incarnation, that is His first coming to us, both fully God and fully man. We celebrate Easter to remember His resurrection, the act that conquered death, making eternal life with Jesus possible. We celebrate whenever we think of Him because He Is with us, every moment of every day – always! This Christian life is a life of 24/7 celebration regardless of circumstance.

Some of us are living like we’re still in the Old Testament.

If you are one of those, looking for ways to earn God’s approval or things to do to make up for sin, please know you will never succeed. But you don’t need to – and God doesn’t want you to! He sent His Son to pay the price for your sin. Move past your doubt with thanksgiving, and live a life of celebrating Jesus Christ, your Lord! Instead of mourning because you’ll never be good enough for God, rejoice that He loves you so much. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” -John 3:16. Once you turn your life over to Him, He’ll make you over into the person He created you to be – and you will be amazed! But you have to stop trying to do the work by yourself in yourself first.

Others have no idea that there’s a God Who loves them so much.

And some of these are carrying a heavy burden of trauma, guilt, and low self-esteem. They may or may not be trying to prove themselves good enough for God, yet they are trying to prove themselves worthy of life, worthy of love. They are living without hope. For this reason, we need to share our celebration with them as often as we can because Jesus died for them, too – and He wants them to know it.

We share our celebration by learning how to live out joy in God’s Presence no matter the circumstance. We also share our celebration by showing our love for God by loving the people He brings to us. No person we meet is a coincidence. All people are opportunities to show our love to and for God.

The days of sacrifice for sin are gone. Let’s forget about them like God has forgotten our forgiven sin. Instead let’s remember Jesus and all He has done for us. Let’s remember by offering celebrations of praise and thanksgiving and by showing God’s love.

Father, we thank You for sending Your Son to die for our sins. Help us to live lives of celebration that both honor Your Name and draw others into Your Kingdom. We love You, Lord! Amen.

A Parachute Prayer for When We Feel Sad

A Parachute Prayer for When We Feel Sad

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” -Revelation 21:4

When I read Revelation 21:4 this morning, Ecclesiastes 3:1 popped into my mind. It was as if God were saying, “There is a time for My wiping every tear from my children’s eyes. There will be a time for no more death or mourning or crying or pain . . . when the old order of things has passed away. But that time is not yet.”

These verses reminded me that we’re living in transition now. Through His death and resurrection, Christ has made it possible for all people to choose eternity with Him. God is currently giving people time to make that choice. The new order is imminent, yet the old has not yet passed away. We live in a world where both good and evil exist. Therefore, we still experience pain, tears, grief, and death, though these will someday pass away.

Parachute PrayerUntil then, whenever we feel sadness or distress, we can praise God for His patience in giving more people time to come to Him. We can thank Him that people are coming to Him. We can pray that more people will come to Him—especially those we know personally who don’t know Him. And we can joyfully anticipate Heaven, eternal life in God’s Presence, someday.

Father, thank You for using times of pain, sadness, and distress to remind us of what You are doing and what is to come. You are patiently giving all people time to come to You (2 Peter 3:9). You are preparing our heavenly home (John 14:2-3). For this we thank You! We also pray Your Will will be done in people’s lives, that more people will come to You—quickly, while there is time. Thank You for Your promise that someday You will wipe every tear from our eyes and that there will be a time when pain, tears, grief, and death cease to exist. Christ has already conquered these. We’re working for You in this waiting, transition time. Amen.

To learn more about Parachute Prayer and its blessings, order your copy of my book here.

Resolutions of a Different Sort

Hebrews 10:36

Sometimes, when facing an extended separation, some military families will make what I’ll call Deployment Year Resolutions:

While we are apart, I will . . .

  • learn a new skill.
  • read my Bible more often.
  • pray for you every day.
  • finish that project or two or three that I’ve been putting off for so long.
  • achieve a goal.
  • lose weight.
  • get in shape.
  • write, e-mail, call every day, week, hour.

. .. and so on.

I realize these sound a lot like New Year’s Resolutions, but there’s a difference in purpose and intent. We make New Year’s Resolutions in order to improve ourselves in hopes of making a new year the best one ever. Military families make Deployment Year Resolutions to help themselves focus on the relationship and future reunion instead of on the stress of being separated. This helps families endure.

Hebrews 10:36 urges Christians to do the same thing. We Christians are deployed! Our mission is to face whatever trials and tribulations come our way, letting God use them to make us into the people He originally planned for us to be, while, at the same time, witnessing to others by mouth and through the way we live our lives that many of them will come to join His Kingdom, too. In order to accomplish this ginormous task, we need patient endurance. God’s Spirit will provide this, so that we can continue to do God’s Will—even when it seems as if the answers to our prayers are a long way off, along with Jesus’ promised return.

Military families know that deployments eventually end. Christians know that God keeps His promises. That’s why we endure, working to strengthen the relationship, faithfully serving with hope until that highly anticipated, happy reunion day.

Father, thank You for Your promises and the knowledge that You always keep them all. Help me to keep in touch with You constantly through prayer and the study of Your Word while serving You faithfully. It’s all about relationship and hope right now. I love You, Lord. I live for You. Amen.

Making the Most of This Brief Life

"You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." -James 4:14

I had the strangest dream the other night. My husband and I were packing as fast as we could to move out of a temporary home. The landlord kept calling and banging on the door, telling us to hurry and get out, that the next tenants were ready to move in, that we’d been there too long.

Note: My husband just retired from the military, and we’ve been living in our current home for almost three years. We’re programmed to move and we’re not, so my subconscious is complaining. I am not. As Alice said in Once Upon a Time (Season 7, Episode 18: The Guardian), “Yeah, well, as much fun as traveling realms is, I’m starting to learn you can have a lot of other adventures just staying put; good ones, too.” Having time to find things we haven’t had time to find in just three years, to dig more deeply into our community and get to know its people – really know them – is one of those good, new adventures of staying put.

But back to my dream: We were trying so hard to cooperate with the landlord, but the house was full of clutter. [I didn’t recognize any of it from my real, wide-awake life.] Every time we opened a closet or drawer, we found more clutter. We were throwing things in boxes as fast as we could, but there was no end to it!

Then suddenly we both paused and looked at each other. Mike said, “What are we doing? Where we’re going we don’t need any of this stuff!”

I said, “You’re right! Let’s go!” We ran out of the house, jumped into a waiting vehicle, and told the driver to go, go, go . . .

The dream got really crazy after that, but I won’t go into details. I’ve told you the part that matters, the part that stuck with me.

The dream reminded me that life is short. We’re “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). So why do we spend what time we have collecting clutter, both physical and mental, that we can’t take with us when we go? It’s so easy to get bogged down in distractions, but it’s important to learn, with the Spirit’s help, to keep our eyes focused on what matters and move on.

Father, please “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Help us to focus on what really matters as we journey through this temporary life toward eternity with You. Help us to “throw off everything that hinders . . . and run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). Teach us to let go of clutter, to leave it behind and not look back.  Help us live wisely for You. Amen

  • What is clutter in your life?
  • What might letting go of it give you more time, money, or energy to do?

Calmed and Quieted

Psalm 131:1

“I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” -Psalm 131:1-2

I have always loved the analogy of Psalm 131:2. Before a child is weaned of breast milk, she will often refuse to sit quietly on her mother’s lap. So close to her source of food, she will fuss for it – especially if it’s close to feeding time. But as she grows and begins to eat table foods, she’ll learn to sit, calmed and quieted, on her mother’s lap.

Likewise, as we mature in Christ, we’ll learn that we can trust Him to provide our needs at just the right time. We’ll learn to self-soothe when we’re waiting for Him to meet needs by sitting in His Presence, praying, studying His Word, and remembering how He’s cared for us in the past. Calmed and quieted, we are able to rest content.

I gleaned a new insight about this the other day, though, as I focused on part of the previous verse: “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.”

As I go about my day, every day, there will be tasks that I can handle, problems for me to solve. Accomplishing these things leaves me feeling pretty good. But when I come across something that impacts me or my family that is out of my control, I can become anxious. I’ll be tempted to devote a lot of thought and prayer time to wondering how the issue will resolve itself or begging God to fix it right now. Both of these are a waste of energy.

God wants me to learn to discern the difference between what is my responsibility and what is not. I can then devote my resources to doing my part while calmly trusting God to take care of His. Even if my concern involves choices that other people make that will impact me, God is in control. He knows all about the situation and is working it out for my good, for everyone else’s good, and for the glory of His name.

Does this mean I don’t pray about it? No. It just means I learn to pray differently. I don’t run to God in a panic demanding that He do something right now. Instead I calmly tell Him what’s going on and how I feel about it. Then I leave the matter to Him. Calmed and quieted with Jesus in charge, I am able to rest content.

Lord, please help me to do my part and trust You with the rest – content. Thank You for Your constant care. Amen.

Eyes on the Unseen

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” -2 Corinthians 4:18

Photographing flowers on a windy day can be a challenge. I’ll get the shot set up just right, then a breeze will blow the bloom to another place. There have been times when I’ve had to hold the flower in place in order to take its picture – camera in one hand, flower in the other, fingers not in the frame.

I can’t see the wind, but I notice it when I’m trying to take flower pictures or keep my hair in place. If I’m not on the way to an event, I love it when the wind plays with my hair – especially if I’m walking on the beach. Sand, sun, a breeze – the perfect combination to engulf me in God’s Creation and remind me He Is here.

The wind is an often used analogy for God’s Spirit for a reason. We can’t see it, but we know it’s there just as we know God is with us even though we can’t see Him. So let’s turn this word picture into a Parachute Prayer.

Whenever we notice the wind, let’s thank God for His Presence. Let’s remember that He Is with us and have a conversation with Him – just as we would have a conversation with a friend. God is our Friend! He Is with us because He loves us; He wants us to take notice of Him. Let’s let His gift of breezes, warm or cold, remind us to praise, thank, worship, and chat with Him.

Lord, we thank You for the reminder of Your Presence. Thank You for being with us always. Send Your Spirit to help us remember, to help us focus on the Eternal we can’t see. When winds disturb the flowers and mess up our hair, let us see it as a call to talk to You. Amen.

To learn more about Parachute Prayer and its blessings, order your copy of my book here.

Removing the Rubble – Clearing the Path

“Don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!” -Hebrews 12:12-13MSG

A few months ago, when I was reading through Nehemiah, I stumbled across this verse. I love it when God brings two seemingly unrelated passages together to illustrate an idea. That’s what happened in this case.

In Nehemiah, I had read about how discouraged the people had become as they considered rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall. They complained to Nehemiah: “Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.’” -Nehemiah 4:10

I wrote about feeling that way and what to do about it here. But the Hebrews verses give us a new thought.

It may seem hard to believe right now, but sometimes God leads us into circumstances that are not overwhelming. In fact, we may find ourselves in an underwhelming season of life. Maybe we’re in a personal waiting season. Maybe we’ve just completed a task. Though excited about this, we’re wondering, “What’s next?”

When this is the case, when we find ourselves in an interim season of life, Hebrews 12:12-13 gives us some things to do! First, we look around to see who’s tripping over too much rubble, and we offer our hands. Next, we clear the path for the runners. We can also help the builders make room for the wall and lift hurting people in prayer. Whatever our hands find to do for another, we do for the glory of God.

Eventually, at just the right time, God will give us our own new tasks. And if we find them overwhelming, He’ll send help from another person who is living in an interim place.

God doesn’t want us each just always doing our own thing. He wants us to work together, to learn to help each other out. Sometimes He calls us to run and build, but when He doesn’t, we’re free to remove the rubble and clear the path for someone else.

Father, please make us aware of the season we are in. If You’re given us a clear task, help us to work at it faithfully, and please send the help we need when we feel overwhelmed. If we find we have extra time on our hands, though, please help us to use it well. Show us where we can help out. Thank You for the different seasons of our lives. Give us wisdom in each, please. Amen.

The Most Urgent Parachute

Today’s Parachute Prayer is a sad and sobering one, but this is probably the most important prayer of all! I hope you’re already praying it. I also hope this Parachute will prompt us all to pray it more.

A few weeks ago, I learned that one of my cousins died. I hadn’t seen him since I was in junior high – maybe younger. (I won’t tell you how long ago that was; let’s just say I’m old enough to have three grown children and a grandbaby now.) My cousin wasn’t a Christian so many years ago. I hope he was a Christian when he died.

Like a lot of you probably do, I keep a list of unsaved relatives and friends to pray for and any time God brings them to mind I pray. Because God brings them to mind, I don’t really need the list. It’s in my head and on my heart. But when God prompts me to pray for one, I often take the time to pray for all. I love these people, and I long to see them saved!

Sometimes a Bible verse will prompt me to pray. Other times it’s a memory or one of my other Parachutes. It’s always God’s Spirit at work.

I know it’s God’s Will that no one should perish (2 Peter 3:9), so sometimes I simply pray for all unbelievers everywhere, knowing God knows who they are. But I’m especially concerned for those I know. God gives us connections for a reason. If we all pray specifically for those we personally know, we’ll cover the whole unsaved population in prayer.

Imagine that!

Not knowing if my cousin was saved or not at his personal point of no return tempted me to wonder if I’d prayed hard enough or often enough for him. But that thought is Satan trying to discourage me. Ultimately each person makes his or her own choice. Yet I still want to make sure I keep praying for those alive right now who may be facing eternity. Prayer makes a mysterious difference. It may have even made a difference in my cousin’s fate. I don’t yet know that story.

When we see things that remind us of death, let’s pray for our unsaved friends and family. Cemeteries, coffins, and funeral processions may be included on this list. I hope that’s not too morbid for a Parachute. Let’s learn to see these reminders as symbols of hope. Jesus won the ultimate victory over death, making eternal life possible for all. Let’s ask Jesus to draw all our loved ones to accept His victorious gift.

Father, please turn these sobering sights into reminders to pray. Please help all of our loved ones recognize Your invitation to spend eternity with You. Your Son paid the price. Please help them see their need. We thank You, Lord. Amen.

To learn more about Parachute Prayer and its blessings, order your copy of my book here.

Dealing with Doeg

“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.” -Psalm 52:7-8

When Doeg the Edomite betrayed David by giving away his location, David was angry. Almost calling-down-sulfur-and-brimstone-from-Heaven angry. Just take a look at the first six verses of Psalm 52. David calls Doeg a worker of deceit. Not just a liar, but a man who uses his lies for personal gain at the expense of others – others like David. David tells Doeg that God is going to let him have it someday by breaking him down forever, snatching and tearing him from his tent, and uprooting him from the land of the living. Just take a moment and try to picture that. Never mind. It’s pretty violent. Finally, David adds that the righteous are going to laugh. Yes. David was angry with Doeg.

But even in his anger, he left the matter in God’s hands. He didn’t go after the one who betrayed him personally, but said, “Just wait until my dad finds out what you did. Boy, are you gonna get it!”

And then he let go.

Just. Like. That.


By reminding himself of who he was and where he stood before God. David was able to flourish in adversity because he remembered that he was safe and thriving in God’s Presence.

And in God’s Presence, we also are safe. We can thrive in adversity, too. Doeg may try to stop us in our tracks, but he’s no match for the God Who loves us, Who has called us according to His purposes, Whose plans to give us hope and a future will stand because we choose to dwell in Him.

Father, when people give us a hard time, when we feel angry, please help us to respond as David did. Remind us that we are Your children. We can take the matter to You and leave it there. You are our defender. You are our safe place. You are the One righteous Judge, able to work justice with mercy to make everything right in the end. Thank You, Lord! We love You. Amen.