Tag: encouragement

Two Wolves: When Your Soul Is Shredded


There are two wolves inside us.
The one we feed is the one that will grow.
-Native American proverb

The attacks came without warning, one after another. These last months our family has been reeling from a series of setbacks we never anticipated. Problems we didn’t cause and can’t fix.

Yesterday was so bad I just had to escape from the phone and the stress and the numbness shredding my soul. I bolted down the driveway and glanced around, remembering to check for snakes and the coyotes that had been calling this morning up the dry canyon above our house. Occasionally they wander all the way down to the yard looking for wayward scraps or cats.

Usually I alternate between anger and pity for them. Anger when they kill our animals. Pity when the summer is hot and barren and they comb the hillside in mangy coats looking for food.

Yesterday I envied them.

I wanted to flee up the canyon wall far away from humans and their struggles, to find a way out. I needed escape. I wanted to release the fear and the anger and the helplessness.

Actually, I wanted to howl.

Instead, I walked for a bit and returned to the house. Our family circled the wagons, as is our habit when new challenges threaten one or the other of us. We spent the evening together, drawing strength from each other as we enjoyed a meal and movie.

Today, the wolves are again at war. Today I halt between two opinions. Is disaster on the horizon? Or is God at work in a mysterious and mystical way?

Fear and Faith sit at my door. Both are ravenous. Will I feed one and allow myself to be consumed, or will I feed the one that will send the predator packing? Which one will I give my trust?

So it comes to this. I must choose to turn off the outside voices feeding the beast and give my mind permission to feed my starving soul on the goodness of God. This was surely what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote these words:

…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is of good repute,
if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8

Dwell on what is good and holy. Frolic in the fruit of the Spirit. Reach for the joy set before you. Trust in a faithful Creator.

If you’re as hungry and dry as I am, pray with me:

Here I am, Lord. 
I’m dying on the inside.
My enemy is too strong for me.
Strengthen my faith; teach me how to trust You.
Help me to close my ears to the voice of the predator.
Give me eyes to see Your great power and love.
Feed me.  




Will You Survive the Storm?


Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
And He brought them out of their distresses.
He caused the storm to be still.
Psalm 107-28-29

He is called the “prince of the power of the air.”* He invades world events, rattles our physical world, and causes havoc in the hearts of men. We know him as the devil, or Satan. He always blows in bringing trouble for God’s creation.


It had been a particularly busy and productive time of ministry for Jesus, though danger lurked everywhere. Many were healed and heard the Good News. But His cousin had recently been beheaded by the king. It seemed a storm was brewing.

“Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile,” He told His disciples. They took a boat across the Sea of Galilee to find a quiet place.

The crowd followed them, however, and were waiting for Him as their boat reached land. Although Jesus was bone-weary, He was filled with compassion at the sight of the people, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He spoke to them until it was very late, then He filled their empty bellies with a miracle dinner of five loaves of bread and two fish.

If He was tired before, He must have been exhausted by then.

He told the disciples to go on ahead of Him in the boat while He sent the crowd away. Then He went to the mountain to pray for awhile.

As Jesus prayed, a strong wind came up and threatened the boat and His disciples. It was nearly morning. The disciples were caught in the middle of the sea, buffeted by the winds, unable to reach safety.

In the dark, in the middle of a sea, Jesus saw them struggling. He came to them in their crisis; He met them in the storm. He didn’t have to join them. He had just miraculously produced enough food out of thin air to feed a crowd. He could have spoken the word from His mountain and calmed the waves.

Instead, He went to their side, walking on the storm as if were His personal highway. The disciples were terrified. Who was this man? 

He told them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” Only He did not actually say “It is I.” He said, literally, “I AM.”

I AM. The ancient name for the LORD God of Israel. The name given to Moses out of the burning bush. The Eternal God.

Our Creator.

Are you weary of fighting the storm? Are you caught between destruction and the safe shore for which you long? Are you more certain of the strength of the evil one than you are of the Savior?

Take courage.

God sees you. His Son Jesus has conquered the winds and the waves that threaten to sweep you away. Even when His power was restrained by the constraints of a human body, Jesus commanded authority over every challenge raised against those He loved. Now at the right hand of the Father, He has released the awesome power of the Holy Spirit to fight for you.

You’re not alone. You won’t sink. Watch and trust Him to come to you and conquer your storm.

He has promised, “I AM”    …everything you need.


*Ephesians 2:2

Knights in White Satin: Taking Out the Dragon


Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

The princesses are everywhere. Most grandparents in the United States have probably wandered through the bewildering array of Barbie royalty at some point in their search for that perfect gift. There are princess movies and princess jewelry and princess dresses and even the lady who gives the ultimate princess experience for birthday parties – complete with gowns, crowns, and portraits.

And we buy that stuff because we all love the fairy tales we learned as children. Who hasn’t dreamed of being a knight on a white horse or a beautiful lady waiting to be rescued? Who hasn’t looked at pictures of castles and imagined entering their own great stone hall?

Somewhere along the way, we grew up and learned life isn’t a fairy tale. Few men can measure up to the fantasy a young girl has of her knight in shining armor. And few women can pull off the perfect princess bride countenance. The truth is, we all live in a gritty, flawed world.

Though princes and princesses are rare, dragons abound. They come in all shapes and sizes and feed exceptionally well on human souls. They wear commonplace names that disguise their fearsome natures: FearDespairDoubtDisbelief, and Gluttony.

Some have darker names. But they all have one thing in common: They belong to a cold-blooded family of reptile called Sin. Fornicasaurus ona bigscreenacus is a large dragon that invades many unsuspecting homes. Hisnameacus vex is a pervasive monster. Some little ones, like Gossipin agroupus, seem harmless enough but have sharp little teeth that cripple those unwary folks who step on them.

And there are more. Many more. They are legion.

It’s hard to make it through a day without encountering at least one of these creatures. Thankfully, we don’t have to live under their power, because there really are such things as kingdoms, kings, and happy endings. There is a King who sits on a throne and rules from one end of eternity to the other.

This King has a Son who wears many crowns and the name Prince of Peace. He’s good at slaying dragons, and He is available on call to slay ours.

Deliverance is as easy as calling on His name. There are, however, a few things He requires:

  • We have to belong to His kingdom. The reptile called Bondage will only fall under the sword of the Prince. No other weapon is sharp enough to kill our tormentors.
  • We have to actually want to escape. Some creatures are annoying but just too cute to kill. They remind us of the rescue dog we got from the shelter. We enjoy their company and comfort. We even feed them. We attempt to ignore the damage they cause and tell ourselves we’ll send them to obedience school one day.
  • We have to do our part. The King has forged powerful weapons to destroy our enemies, but He puts them into our hands to use. We need to learn how to swing that sword and aim the arrows to sink deep into the heart of the enemy. There can be no holding back in battle; this is no time to be squeamish. There will be blood.

We must have no pity on Sin. None should be spared, ever, to hide out in our hearts. As the little foxes ruin the vineyard (Song of Songs 2:15), so small sins ruin our lives.

Are you needing peace in the kingdom today? Start swinging your sword. Take out the torturer of your soul.

Resist. Submit. Rest. In proper order. To the right king.

One day, we will live happily ever after. Our Prince will return for those who love Him. Look up, and take heart. He is here. You are not fighting alone.

 The Lord will deliver me from evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom;
to Him be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.
2 Timothy 4:18

The Angels of Woolrich


Greater love has no one than this, 
that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

The last public images of Drummer Lee Rigby alive show him ordering take-out at one of his favorite haunts.

Two days later, he lay in a pool of blood on a London street, butchered by two men with a knife and a meat cleaver. He was wearing the same hoodie he’d worn at the pizza shop, the one that proclaimed “Help for Heroes.”

The 25-year-old from Manchester was part of the 2nd Batallion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the father of a two-year-old son. He served with distinction in Cyprus, Germany, and Afghanistan before working in the recruiting office in London, England.

As he lay dying, a mother and daughter drove by and saw the gruesome scene. It occurred to Amanda Donnelly that the body in the street could have been her daughter, 20 year-old Gemini Donnelly-Martin. Her heart went out to him. She just had to help the young man.

They stopped their car and approached the attackers, one of whom was still holding a weapon in his bloody hands. They asked to be at Rigby’s side. Surprisingly, the killer consented.

Amanda stood guard as her daughter Gemini knelt at his side. Ignoring his massive wounds, she shielded him and prayed until the police arrived.

Ingrid Loyau-Kennett was also at the scene. A Cub Scout leader and mother of two, she was concerned the men would attack nearby children. She approached one of them and began talking to him in the hopes she could divert his attention until the authorities came. According to the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail report, she decided if anyone else was going to be hurt, it would be better if it was her than a child. The attacker told Loyau-Kennett he wanted to start a war in London. To this she replied, “You’re going to lose.”

In the days since the brutal attack, these three women have been called the “Angels of Woolwich.” All three reject any references to heroism, sure that they were only doing what needed to be done.

Their courage reminds us, on this Memorial weekend, that battle comes in many forms. We are all warriors in one way or another in the fight against evil. Lee Rigby’s murder has drawn world attention to the value of each soldier’s life and to the brutality of war. It has also shown us how important each of us are in this struggle to support and pray for one another, and to confront evil wherever it appears.

Special thanks to our soldiers around the world who must place their lives on the line for us every day. Thanks to those who pray for them, comfort them, and honor their memory.

What a lesson for us who struggle against the forces of evil in heavenly places! What courage it takes to stand against the oppressor, to lay our own lives on the line to care for the wounded! How can we drive by another body in the street without at least a prayer?

No soldier should die alone. No one, ever, should suffer without someone to fight for them. Confront the oppressor. Protect the innocent.

Be an angel to someone today.

This Old House


The Master spoke, but I scarcely heard
Above the noise and the din
Of hurrying feet and hammer-stroke
I was building a house for Him.
Then He took me aside and He taught me this
While earthly things grew dim
He would rather a place in this heart of mine 
Than the house I was building for Him.
– “The Master Spoke” Author Unknown

My old joints are groaning today. My husband and I have been slowly remodeling our aging log home. The process is slow because time, money, and energy are always just short of what we need. I spent the afternoon yesterday sanding the new doors and sidelights that adorn the little “office” overlooking my beloved Clearwater River.

This morning my body is complaining.

The log cabin we built in the radical seventies is really showing the years. Raising five children has taken its toll on it. Like me, it’s sagging in places and looking a little tired.

But there’s one thing I know. This house may be frayed at the edges, but it’s solid right down to the foundation. I know this because I know who built it. My dear carpenter husband poured the foundation himself, and he builds things to last.

He made the foundation walls especially strong because he knew they would have to bear the weight of the logs. He envisioned the end result and built the house especially to the design specifications.


 I know another carpenter, too. Really, the best. This builder doesn’t work with wood. He works with flesh, soul, and spirit. He doesn’t build houses; He builds lives.

  Consider Jesus,
 the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;
He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses was also in all His house.
For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, 
by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.
For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.
Christ was faithful as a Son over His house-whose house we are,
if we hold fast our confidence 
and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
Hebrews 3:1-4, 6

 We are His house! A temple, actually. A place of worship.

The foundation is the Rock set in place by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Upon this foundation we add our lives:

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
each man’s work will become evident;
the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire,
and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
1 Corinthians 3:12-13

We are a living temple, our souls the holy altar upon which we offer the sacrifices of a broken heart. Here we give the dreams, hopes, and desires of our lives to Him. From here our prayers rise like sweet incense in the holy place.

Jesus’ sacrifice tore the veil separating God from humanity. Here man walks with God once again. We are as holy to God as the temple that once stood in Jerusalem. We are holy because God has chosen to live in us.

May that knowledge inspire us to set aside the things that weaken and dishonor His house. May He teach us to build with an eye to the future, choosing the precious stones for the work.

May His House be forever holy and beautiful in His sight.

What are you building today? Do you feel like a temple or a shack? How do we decide the proper building materials for our templesWhat things might we have to change to build with an eye toward the future?



and last of all, as to one untimely born,
He appeared to me, also.
1 Corinthians 15:8

 My grandma called them “jump-up lilies.” They are bulbs that yield a mass of long, smooth leaves in the spring. The leaves are prolific and green. But for all their promise, they die back in early summer without so much as a single bloom.

What a disappointment. The plant spends the majority of the summer dying slowly and looking unsightly. Finally, I clean all the dead leaves away, leaving bare dirt where they grew.

Done. Finished. No sign of life. Definitely past hope.

But I know better. I’ve had these lilies for years, and I know the best is yet to come.

In late summer, when the rest of the garden is summer-worn, I look out one day and find blooms where there was not even a hint of life. These lilies spring up so quickly, it appears they have leapt out of the ground. They always fill my heart with joy. They don’t seem to care that they are breaking all the rules. They burst out of the ground at the bidding of their Creator the moment the blooms are mature.



The apostle Paul was the one called by God after the Lord had already been crucified, resurrected, and returned to the Father. He compared himself to one “born out of due time” (NKJV). But God’s timing is always flawless. God knew what would best give Paul the humility he needed to become a vessel of honor  and servant of high calling.

Maybe you once grew up green and full of promise. Maybe your faith has been scorched and endured so many dry days, you have died back to the dirt. There is an empty field where you expected a harvest. Disappointment has killed your joy. It appears nothing has come of your struggles to live for Him. More than once, you’ve been tempted to give up.

But deep inside, beneath the apparent barrenness, there is life. God is at work. He has plans to bring you into a place of fruitfulness at the perfect moment.

 Wait for it…wait for it…

It’s coming. Joy is on the way. Hang on with all your strength to every promise in God’s Word. You have not been abandoned or forgotten. On the contrary, you’re growing just as He planned.

You were created for this time. You are God’s workmanship, a thing of beauty, awaiting the moment He commands, “Arise.”

So hang on. Wait in faith. Believe in a faithful Creator to finish the amazing work He is doing in you. It will be worth every tear, each desperate prayer, all your trust. The seasons are changing; the earth is stirring.


The Battle for Renewal


Then He showed a river of the water of life, clear as crystal,
coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street.
On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kind of fruit, yielding its fruit every month;
and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:1-2

Winter has never won the battle of the seasons, but this year it seemed to have its cold, gnarly fingers firmly clamped around the ground and my heart. The garden lay in dead disarray. My life followed a similar trend. Heartrending situations with my family and friends gripped us in an icy chill of  relentless drama and tragedy.

Faith ran daily to the window to look for signs of life on my horizon. It was usually met with gray skies and new storms. It seriously looked like spring itself had given up and taken off for a long southern vacation.

Then I began to notice that although the storms still buffeted us, spring seemed to have a change of heart and decided to show up, after all. It was still cold, and uninviting outside my window. I was delighted to discover that the daffodils had gotten the memo, though, along with the hyacinths.

Once it decided to commit to a change of seasons, spring braved the weather and cued the greenery. The cold raised a challenge with a blast of hail. Tender life, having gained new courage, marched forward to undaunted.

Every year, the battle for renewal rages in the earth. Each year, death appears to triumph over the promise of resurrection along with our dreams. We know, however, that life always wins.

Today it is gray and cold again here. But I can look out my window and see that spring is going to conquer. In fact, it already has. My garden is blooming.

There are still parts of my life which haven’t felt the sun’s warm rays. I tell my impatient heart that renewal is on its way. God encourages us to look not to the daily storms, but the inevitable thaw what will arrive.

Winter will end. Spring will come.

Rooted in Reality, Part 3: We are De Branch, Not De Vine


 Remember He is de vine, and you are de branch. 
-Keith Green

I am the vine, you are the branches; 
he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit,
for apart from Me you can do nothing. 
John 15:5

My husband loves trees. During the thirty-plus years we have lived on our country lane, we have planted well over a hundred shade and fruit trees. Some of the fruit trees in his modest orchard were called “no name” trees, meaning the actual variety of tree was unknown before selling. If a person didn’t mind a surprise or two, the trees didn’t cost as much as labeled trees. We could tell the general type of tree each was, like “apple,” but we didn’t know what variety of apples we had until the trees bore fruit for the first time.

 Some plants are hard to tell apart just from the leaves. But the fruit and flower of a plant always give it away. Jesus told us, as recorded in Matthew 7:16-20, that we can recognize people in the same way – by what shows up at harvest time. In fact, He tells us in this passage that it is impossible for a bad tree to produce good fruit or for a good tree to produce bad fruit.

 Fruit is what we are. We can’t fabricate fruit. Fruit is the natural result at the end of a season of growth. No matter how well a thistle grows or how much it is fertilized, it’s going to produce thistles. This is why we can never reform ourselves. We have to become grafted into the Root of Jesse. We are grafted in when we accept the sacrifice of Jesus for the mess we have made of our own gardens. We are literally cut away from a life of sin and grafted into the life of God.

 And then we “abide.” The Greek word used for “abide” simply means to remain, stay, move in with, or live with. It’s a relational word. Don’t try to change yourself. Move in with Jesus. If I want to exhibit godly character, I have to be planted in God. He doesn’t want a new, improved version of Pam. He wants Pam out of the way completely. He wants me to die to who I am and become a conduit for the life of God, so that in my actions and words others may catch a glimpse of the Divine.

I wanna die, and let You give Your life to me,
so I might live.
-Keith Green

…I die daily.
-the apostle Paul

 How do we abide?

1. By thinking and acting relationally, not religiously. We focus on association with Christ, not mere imitation.

2. By diving into His Word. It’s the living letter from the Father to His children. His Word cleanses, teaches, inspires, and restores. It’s the food for our souls.

3.  By listening to the uncomfortable nudging of the Holy Spirit to keep us pruned back. That way we won’t stray into unhealthy ground. Our conscience really is our best friend. 

4. By cultivating healthy relationships and habits. Abiding doesn’t mean just lying around. There is work involved, too.

God gave His very best in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ to give us all we need to flourish. May we plant ourselves in Him and grow up to be everything He has planned for us.

O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
Psalm 34:8

Rooted in Reality, Part 2: What Lies Are Sinking You?


What really matters is what happens in us, not to us.

-James W. Kennedy

Scientists now say that a series of slits, not a giant gash, sank the Titanic. The opulent, 900-foot cruise ship sank in 1912 on its first voyage from England to New York. Fifteen hundred people died in the worst maritime disaster of the time.

The theory most people hold is that the ship hit an iceberg, opening up a huge gash in the side of the ship. But an international team of divers and scientists recently probed through the wreckage, buried in mud two-and-a-half miles deep, with sound waves. They found that the damage was surprisingly small. Instead of one big gash, they found six narrow slits across the six watertight holds.

Like the tragedy that happened to the behemoth liner, it’s those small compromises to our protective armor that threaten to sink us on our journey to find and live in integrity. In fact, it’s their insidious nature that makes them so dangerous. If we had one huge assault on our faith with which to contend, we would be alarmed and rise to the challenge. But the small blows go largely unnoticed, barely blips on our spiritual radar, until they have weakened us and breached our defenses.

This is why it’s so important to be accountable to God and trusted people around us to help us see the danger signs that we’re going down. The still, small voice of the Holy Spirit will be our guide if we’ll just listen to Him. To ignore His voice is like turning off the radio broadcast of icebergs ahead because we don’t want to change course. We can ignore the warnings, but we’ll hit the ice just the same.

A simple acronym can help us stay tuned into the leading of God:

 Listen for the excuses you tell yourself.

What reasons do you make up to give yourself permission to do something you know is wrong?

I  Identify the weak spots in your faith, the ones that make you vulnerable to temptation.

What do you fear? What makes you angry? What causes you to feel out of control?

 Examine your temptations.

Discover why you give in over and over to a particular temptation. Identify ways that have been successful in the past to help you successfully navigate around that danger zone.

S  Seek the truth.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23 NASB

 It’s no good to attempt to navigate in the dark. Light reveals our path. It also reveals the obstacles in our way. But that’s good, because it’s better to deal with changing course than to live in ignorance. Ignorance leads to destruction; truth brings us to safety. God wants us to take an honest look at our lives under the light of His purity. God’s Word is the source of the light for our journey and the best way to open our hearts to the work of the Spirit.

Never underestimate the power of the Scriptures to cleanse, guide, and strengthen. God is the best Captain ever. He’s been this way before, and we can trust Him with our lives.

Your word is lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105


Next week:  Rooted in Reality: Building Character – Part 3

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