Posted in Wildflower Thoughts

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?
Posted in Lingering with the Word

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.

Posted in Parachute Prayers

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.

Posted in Lingering with the Word

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 something to do! We look around to see who’s tripping over too much rubble, and we offer our hands. We clear the path for the runners. We help the builders make room for the wall. We 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.

Posted in Parachute Prayers

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.

Posted in Lingering with the Word

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.

Posted in Wildflower Thoughts

Learning to Chew

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” -Psalm 34:8

On a day when I felt overwhelmed, I had the idea during my quiet time to search the Word I was reading for a deeper understanding of Who God Is as opposed to seeking how I should live. Both are important, but I wanted to draw closer to God—to let His bigness, His Presence assure me all is well and will be well. I wanted to intentionally put my focus on Him. To do this, I started listing the attributes I saw or remembered as I read, completing the sentence, “God is . . .”

My first list read like this:

God is—

  • bigger than all my troubles.
  • in complete control.
  • the purest, truest love.
  • always available.
  • patient.
  • merciful.
  • compassionate.
  • creative.
  • my safe place.
  • perfect, perfection.
  • here.

I made several more such lists, but they soon started to feel more like an academic exercise than devotional time with God. I told Him so.

“Emulate Me” was the thought that popped into my head, followed by the recent memory of a moment with my granddaughter.

Our family had stopped at a fast food restaurant on a day trip. Aspen isn’t eating solid food just yet, so her mother fed her while we ordered, then I held her while everyone ate. (There are more important things than food, you know.) I watched her darling face as she looked around at everyone, forehead scrunched in concentration. Slowly she opened her lips and began making chewing motions as she continued to study the moving mouths all around her. It was the cutest thing! What a proud moment for our little prodigy!

The sheer delight on her parents’ faces when they saw what she was doing was priceless, too. Grandparents get to watch as two generations grow.

The memory helped me see that our growth into a deeper relationship with God is somewhat like what I witnessed in Aspen that day. God is our heavenly Father. We can watch Him to learn His nature by reading His Word just as Aspen watched her family to learn how to chew. As we meditate on different attributes the Spirit calls to our attention, we can begin to try to emulate some of them, while letting ourselves be awed by the ones we’ll never be able to attain.

For example, I’ll never know everything like God knows everything. He’s God. Omniscience belongs to Him alone. When I think of this and realize He knows things we’re not even aware are able to be known, I am amazed by Him. This is just one of many reasons He is worthy of worship, and worship draws me closer to Him. I know wisdom is important to Him, though, so I can ask Him to provide it for me and do my part to gain it. I also know God uses His wisdom to help all people find Him and grow to know Him better. I can ask His Spirit to guide me to the wisdom I need to help the people He brings into my life draw closer to Him as well. My efforts are miniscule in the grand scheme of things, but God will use them because He loves me. This gives me even more reason to praise Him.

Through our poor attempts to imitate the God we love (for His glory and our own good), we’ll gain greater understanding of and appreciation for Who God Is and how He works in this world. We’ll be drawn to worship, to praise, to love Him more. And because God Is our Father watching us, He will delight in our baby steps to be more like Him. He’ll respond as a Father to a child He deeply loves.

Father, there is nothing academic about growing to know more of You. Pair Your Word with our experiences in order to help us see with our own eyes what You are like. We want to know You more. We want a deeper relationship. Thank You for making this possible. We love You, Lord. Amen.

Posted in Wildflower Thoughts

The Resilient Tree

“For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.
Though its root may grow old in the earth,
And its stump may die in the ground,
Yet at the scent of water it will bud
And bring forth branches like a plant.” -Job 14:7-9, NKJV

About a year and a half ago, my husband planted a tree in our backyard near our house. We were hoping it would grow up to provide a little shade in that spot. Shade’s a valuable commodity in Texas on a hot, summer day.

A few months after we planted it, though, a child knocked it down. Its little trunk snapped close to the ground. We thought our tree was done for.

But then it grew back!

And then my husband accidentally ran over it with the lawn mower.

And then it grew back!

Then we had some construction done in our backyard, and the workermen dragged something heavy over the little tree and broke it again.

Guess what? It grew back.

When my husband accidentally ran over it with the lawn mower again, though, he decided that spot must be a bad one for a tree. He pulled up what was left of it, thinking that was the end of that.

But the little tree is back!

Perhaps we should give it a name. I think it’s here to stay. I’m going to call it Phoenix.

I asked God to give me the resilience of this little tree. But then I realized that’s a scary prayer! In order to develop resilience, we have to be cut down, broken, knocked over, pulled up by the roots. We have to have a reason to grow deep roots and fight for our lives. I’d rather read a book.

Yet I know that God is building resilience in me. He has been doing so all of my life. He does this for you, too! And not by accidentally knocking us over or cutting us off at the ground. He is quite intentional about allowing all-consuming challenges to come our way. I know this is not for our harm, though, but for our good and His glory.

If life knocks us down and we stay down, that doesn’t do anyone any good. But if we call on God for His strength, our roots in Him grow deep, making us more resilient. Eventually we overcome harsh circumstances and grow firmly into what God intended for us to be. People see and know that God brought us through and grew us strong. They may even seek shade from the harsh sun under our branches where we can tell them about the God Who loves them, died for them, and wants to grow them up strong, too.

I don’t like praying scary prayers. When I catch myself praying them, I sometimes stop and say, “What am I praying?!” I’m tempted to take the prayer back. The older I get, the stronger this temptation can be because prayer becomes more and more scary. I’m no longer praying naive. Yet I must keep praying. It’s what connects me to God. It’s how I surrender myself to His Will. It’s how my life roots grow deep, so my branches grow stronger still.

Sometimes I don’t much like the immediate results of scary prayers. But I love what God does with them when He is through! For that, for Him, I choose to trust as I pray.

Father, please give us the courage to pray scary prayers, so we can grow up in You. Remind us to focus on the work You are doing in us instead of on distressing or uncomfortable circumstances. You are worthy of our trust. You are doing something amazing. We believe in You. Amen.

Posted in Parachute Prayers

Parachute Prayer: For Finders of Lost Belongings

I have a new Parachute Prayer for you today. When you lose something, pray for the person who finds it.

I’m not talking about when you lose something around the house that will eventually turn up. I’m talking about when you accidentally leave your jacket at a restaurant or a book at the doctor’s office or a tote bag at the library.

I did the latter yesterday. I have a tote bag I use for my library books. It’s kind of fun, made for book-a-holics like me. Using it makes me smile, though I would never light a candle on a bookshelf. That’s just asking for serious trouble!

At the library’s return desk, I emptied the old books out of the tote bag. When I checked out some new books, however, there were a lot of people waiting. I grabbed books, bag, and purse and hurried out. At least that’s what I thought I did.

When I got home, I placed books, bag, and purse on the table. At least I thought I did. But when I went to put these things away, the tote bag wasn’t there. I looked all over for it. I thought maybe it had fallen off the table and the puppy dragged it off. She wasn’t talking. The tote wasn’t in any of her usual hiding spots. I realized I must have dropped it at the library. This made me feel kind of sad.

So I decided to pray for its new owner, and I asked God to make sure that it ended up in the hands of the person who needed it most and that that person would be blessed by the find. I continued to look for the tote throughout the day whenever a new possible place for it popped into my mind. When the place turned out to be empty, I prayed another prayer for the finder of my tote. I also felt thankful that God had given me someone new to pray for.

This story has a happier-than-that-ending though. I went back to the library this morning. The person I was praying for had turned in my lost tote bag. The librarian was happy to return it to me. Perhaps the person who most needed that tote bag for this time is me; I definitely feel blessed by its find. Yet I’m appreciating the reminder that stuff is just stuff is just ours for a time until it wears out or moves on to someone else.

It’s also possible that the finder of my tote bag needs a little extra prayer. Maybe God used the tote bag to give that job to me! From now on when I use my lost-tote-bag-found, I’ll whisper a Parachute Prayer.

Father, thank You for prompting someone to turn in my bag. I am thankful to have it back, this little luxury. Please send an extra blessing to the kind and thoughtful person who helped return it to me. You know who he or she is and what he or she needs. Please provide as only You can. I thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

Posted in Random Reflections

Redemption Rewrites

Warning: This post contains spoilers of what I believe to be the best movie of this decade. If you haven’t seen The Greatest Showman, go watch it now. Then you can come back and read this post.

I watched this movie musical for the second time last night and enjoyed every moment again. It’s not Christian. It has its problems, though few. But it’s a powerful film with a beautiful message, a new favorite for me!

After watching the movie, though, I made the mistake of Googling “P.T. Barnum” to learn how much of the movie was real. (My mind just has to know these things!) I am feeling terribly disillusioned now. Though loosely based on the life of P.T. Barnum, the movie is historical fiction. And I like the fiction version better!

Yes. P.T. Barnum married Charity, but they had four daughters, not two. He did visit Queen Victoria. There was a fire. Phillip and Anne did not exist. (They did not exist!) Barnum did promote Jenny Lind for a time, but they parted ways not because he refused to have an affair with her, but either (sources disagree) because she wanted to give more money to charity and he wanted to keep their profits or because she was tired of Barnum’s relentless marketing. (The movie did at least allude to her interest in charity when it had the two meet, but that’s as noble as it let poor Jenny be.)

The saddest revelation to me was the belief that P.T. Barnum used his last words to ask about ticket sales for the day. Whether or not this is true, no one knows. But the fact that people believe it says something about his character. The real P.T. Barnum probably didn’t learn the beautiful lesson that his movie counterpart learned.

That kind of breaks my heart.

Then again, if the quote attributed to him at the end of the movie is true, he was motivated to make people happy as much as he was motivated by money, so there’s that. History has blurred the truth about P.T. Barnum, but God knew his heart. (And no matter what anyone else thinks of us, God knows all of our hearts. And He loves us anyway! In the movie, Charity told her husband that “You don’t need everyone to love you, Phin . . . just a few good people.” I would take that statement further: all we really need is the love of God – and we all have His love! Please pardon the rabbit trail. I just had to share that thought.)

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all rewrite our own stories in order to go down in history as people who learned all the right lessons and accomplished all the most important things of all the things we can possibly choose from? We can’t do that, of course. But thanks to Jesus Christ, we can entrust our lives to the Author and Finisher of our Faith. He is able to redeem all things – to reconcile all things to Himself! Every sin. Every misstep. Every wrong motivation. Every wrong choice. Every wound. Every broken heart. All we have to do is accept Jesus’ invitation to be our Savior and ask Him to help us live our lives according to His plan.

Best of all, once we do that, turn our lives over to Him, God’s work of redemption in our lives, this fixing of all broken things and making what’s wrong turn right, isn’t historical fiction. He works all things together for good. He makes all things new. He is writing the greatest story ever told ever – and He invites us all to take part. His story is real. And so is what He works in and through us for the glory of His name, for the good of all humankind.

The writers of The Greatest Showman did a beautiful job of polishing up P.T. Barnum’s life and presenting their own message to viewers through it. But God is doing a very real job of recreating our lives to present His message of love and redemption to the world.

That Truth boggles my mind.

Father, thank You. I try to live right, but I make mistakes. What a comfort to know that You’re still writing – the world’s story, my story. In the end, all Creation will be a master work authored and finished by You. Thank You for writing me in! Please draw many others in, too. I love You, Lord. Amen.