Perception vs Reality

If I told you it takes two to equal one, you’d likely tell me it’s not a mathematical equation that makes much sense! But let me explain.

My mother was an artist. When I was a child, she would point out objects and ask me what I saw. I recall vividly an impatient conversation I had with her regarding a tree. She asked, “What color are the tree trunks in our yard?” With all of the confidence of a mature 10-year-old, I answered, “Brown, of course.”  She lovingly directed me to look again.  I replied impatiently, “Brown! Can’t you see they are brown?” She gently pointed out that if you looked closely, they were not brown but a rich, deep gray. My mother taught me to see the natural beauty of this world with my eyes, not with what I perceived in my mind.  

There are a lot of lessons in that encounter with a tree trunk, but perhaps the most important one is to look at life more closely. See things as they are, not as how we assume they are. We must overcome our perception in order to see reality.

I believe there is timing involved in the revealing of reality. People say that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, but I don’t think that is accurate. Rather, life doesn’t give us more than God can handle. Sometimes it is His gentle peeling back of our perceptions that reveals God’s truth. One way He does this is through nature.

God’s creation speaks to His people. Nature witnesses to the character and intent of our Creator. Unfortunately, many worship the creation, missing God Himself – the passion and depth of genius that He holds. But it’s always God communicating with us through His creation. No one knows us as intimately as Him.  

Some years back I experienced a devasting loss. I spiraled, becoming numb and unresponsive. I didn’t know how to begin life again. I had no emotional strength nor direction, unable to give or receive. I was lost to myself and to those who loved me. 

One morning, as I left the emptiness of my once full home to return to work, something colorful caught my eye. A few blue flowers sat tucked away in some dense green leaves. It was soothing to see new life. The flowers were a bright spot in a dark, unwanted season of my life. Those little pops of color felt somehow encouraging. Curious to know what they were and how they got here, I inquired with my neighbor. He said the flowers were just weeds, and he had weed killer if I wanted some.  But I had had enough of death.

Weeds have a negative reputation as unwanted pests. But those flowers on my walkway were a gift I wasn’t going to refuse. I felt I had something to look forward to again – at least for that short walk to my car. Soon the blue flowers grew into a blanket, covering the once drab dirt and stones along my walkway.  As silly as it sounds, the weeds brought a smile back to my face. These things of beauty didn’t ask anything of me; they were simply present for me every morning. I loved seeing their blue hue amongst the most beautiful deep green leaves. They flourished under the warmth of the sun, and their simple beauty helped me feel the warmth of the Son once again. How funny that my connection with God was rekindled by a simple flowering weed! I began to take solace gazing at them while sipping my morning coffee each day.

But as time passed, the mornings began to feel colder. Winter was approaching, and soon the flowers would disappear. One day after a few weeks, I had to hunt just to find a few bright pops of color. My familiar morning greeting card was slowly disappearing, and I felt that familiar sting of loss settling over me once again. I was angry at myself. It all seemed so silly, and I felt stupid.  They were just useless weeds that grew wild in my yard, but I was heartbroken. I yelled out loud in frustration, grieving yet another loss in my life. 

But, in that moment of anger and frustration with myself, tears started to fill my eyes as I stared at the weeds. My perception had been that the beauty, the gift, was in those little blue flowers that winter came to steal. But how could I have missed what was in front of me all this time? The leaves! They were shaped like hearts! The blue flowers were nestled amongst deep green hearts. The leaves were the support, the richness, that made the flowers pop and capture my attention. Without those heart-shaped leaves, the flowers would have no support or protection while waiting for the warmth of the morning sun.

It is the heart of Jesus that has felt every imaginable pain that tries to overtake our lives. It is His heart that always brings us back to His path that life tries to knock us from. God knows how to guide us to His plans for us. There is always a path to restoration, and His heart desires to draw us in.

I failed to see the heart-shaped leaves each day not because of poor vision, but due to the depth of personal pain and loss. The brightness of the flowers caught my attention, but the eventual revelation of the shape of the leaves was my graduation day. In those early days, I could not find direction, so I clung to what caught my attention. But what I really needed was to cling to God’s heart.

Even when we feel we have no vision for the next moment, or when we are lost and cannot see a path back, God provides for us. The Bible reminds us to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, and to lean not on our own understanding. God’s love is a place of rest and renewal. 

I relied so deeply on the brightness of the flowers, their cheeriness and beauty – but when those flowers disappeared, they revealed what had supported them (and me) all along: the heart-shaped leaves. In the same way, the heart of our Creator was holding me. No matter how lost, numb, or hopeless we may feel, no matter how empty or dark it seems, God will get our attention. He’ll draw us back to His path for our lives. The next spring, I finally saw how those heart-shaped leaves unfold. They unfurl as two halves that mature and join to form one heart – thus proving it takes two to equal one.


I Want to Know What Love Is

God speaks to us in a way we can understand. He builds on our individual likes, experiences, and giftings. He communicates with us individually, and He uses our interests to reveal His nature to His children. If we look and listen discerningly, we can see that He is in constant communication with us. He is a loving Father who never misses an opportunity to speak into our lives. He has a direct connection to our hearts. 

I had a moment of connection with Him recently. As I was listening to the Oldies station, my mind was on auto pilot, mindlessly singing along. But suddenly auto pilot switched off, and I heard every word clearly, as if the song was speaking directly to me. The song is by Foreigner, written by Mick Jones: “I Want to Know What Love Is.” 

Thinking about love can take you down a path you no longer want to walk. Memories of love can remind us of the hard lessons of life that we are determined never to repeat. I looked up the lyrics and read them aloud as if hearing them for the first time. There was a message here that I wanted to hear with my heart, not just my ears. “I want to know what love is. I better read between the lines; in case I need it when I’m older.”  

Our first teachers of love – as wonderful as we may believe they are – are other broken, incomplete folks. As the Book of Romans states, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But the God who created this complex universe is the designer of true love. And we were created to connect our heart to His; we are created to love and be loved by Him. There is no greater love than the love He has for us, His children. 

One of the most profound lessons I have learned about love is that other broken folks can’t fix our lives or heal our hearts! Only the master Creator, the Designer, knows what love truly is. Only He is fully capable of reviving our hearts and healing all the broken places and pieces.

But what is love? It has been redefined by the world to be all about self.  How many relationships are based on how the other person makes us feel, or what they do or give to us? However, our greatest living example of love is selfless: Jesus. As he walked through His life both on and off the cross, He died to self.  

Receiving God’s love is rooted in knowing who we are and what we are created for. Mick Jones, in writing this hit song, was looking for truth.  He obviously had been through relationships that failed. He had been through experiences that left him disillusioned and feeling empty. The lyrics tell us that he was still trying to understand love!  

As Christ-followers, understanding true love – God’s love – gives us strength to make choices out of His love, not our own selfishness. His true love, which never fails, has the power to restore our broken hearts and lives. We live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people, so our love outside of God will fail, but the love that God has for us doesn’t fail. 

Our circumstances can be devastating at times, but if we know that our identity is found and rooted in the God who created us, and if we carry understanding of the love of Christ for each of us, then we are equipped to keep on keeping on. When we face defeat in body and soul, and when the enemy says there is no hope, His love holds us steady. 

Mick Jones said the following in an interview about this song: “Don’t know where this song came from…probably written by a higher force” (2014).  I think one line of the song reflects that: “Through the clouds, I see love shine; it keeps me warm as life grows colder.”We serve a mighty God, and He is all around us, speaking to our hearts.  He is not limited to a particular person or place – only to the condition of our hearts. Are our hearts open or closed?  Listen! He is speaking.  Believe! For it is out of our relationship with our Creator that we find love as it is meant to be: freeing and strengthening. Love is not a burden that we place on the shoulders of another broken soul; it is found in Him. His love never disappoints, never fails. He will never leave us or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). When we “know what love is” and that knowledge is firmly planted in our beings, then we can truly love and receive love, and we will never lack. “Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again’” (John 4:13



“The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” ~Proverbs 19:11

Our church is in a series called “Wisdom of the Ages” and we’ve been challenged by our pastor to read through the book of Proverbs this month. This series was planned quite a while ago, and Pastor approached the congregation with a request for responses to four specific questions:

  1. (Parents) What do you wish your children knew?
  2. (Children) What do you wish your parents knew?
  3. What would you tell your younger self?
  4. What do you wish your pastor knew?

These questions must have created a flood of emails, letters, and maybe even a few phone calls for the church office. It took most of us a while to respond (probably because we were each trying to think of a nice way to say what we wanted). As I typed out my response to each of these questions, it was difficult to decide what to include… so many situations came to mind. I would imagine you felt the same as you re-lived some family tension, or disagreement, or even an estrangement between family members that can no longer be reconciled. 

How quickly did that offense come up in your memory? – Was that hurt made dull by the passage of time, or had it been erased by reconciliation? When you answered Pastor’s questions, did the opportunity to share your heart weigh on you as you wrote the words to “that” person or were you holding back because it. Just. Hurt. Too. Much. There’s no way for me to know, but as I’ve been reading Proverbs, I’ve been taking some much needed solace from the certainty that somebody must have learned these things not just before me…. but learned them the hard way

We are the lucky ones who can read Proverbs from the vantage point of being a Christian with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to live by these sayings without help. “Don’t be offended.” This is nearly impossible without Christ. Especially now. If we’re able to avoid being offended, it seems we manage (without trying) to offend someone else. 

This is where I believe Proverbs 19:11 brings us back to reality. “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger.” It is up to my discretion to get angry… or to show the grace of God when I’m tempted to take offense. The Holy Spirit helps me make that choice in that moment. My knee-jerk reaction toward anger can be held back in Christ—Who will reveal to me the deeper reason for the offense. “…and his glory to overlook a transgression” moves me beyond that quick meanness and on to an understanding of where the offense is the most painful. I’m so thankful we don’t have to look at that pain on our own. We can “overlook” (look over, dissect, understand) the hurt in the good and healing company of the Comforter. This verse has been such a blessing to me!

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It has been said a thousand different ways in a thousand different languages; the value of connecting with someone. A spouse, friend, loved one, or even co-worker. When there is a heart connection it does something majestic for the soul. I sometimes think “where do we get this from?” or “why are we wired this way?” and I believe the answer is found in Genesis chapter one, two and three.

We see God telling, revealing “’s not good for man to be alone..” and creates Eve for Adam. This is a clear picture we are made for connection. But, notice it starts with our connection with God.

I believe this, we can correctly and in a healthy way connect with others ONLY after we connect with God. If we try any other way it is like getting the cart before the horse.

And when we connect with God it overflows into every relationship we have. When our connection to God is our first priority it flows into every other area of our life. Jesus said “..if your eye is healthy, then your whole body is full of light.” Matthew 6:22

So the question becomes; How do we connect with God who’s name is Yahweh, the creator of the universe?

One, big practical step: Spend time with Him.

This can look like reading the Bible, reading a devotional, reading a Christian book. It can look like taking a walk or a ride. It can look like praying no matter where you are. This can look like worshiping while you cook or drive. Take the time to get the words of Christ into your heart, however it may look in your life.

The whole goal is to make time to connect with God, because He greatly desires to connect with you.

“Move your heart closer and closer to God, and he will come even closer to you…” James 4:8 [TPT]

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Trust in the Silence

“Silence is golden…unless you have kids, then silence is suspicious”. Anyone with kids relate to that? Having two kids of my own and working with kids weekly, I can absolutely testify to this! At our house it usually means there’s some sort of mess being made or plot being conspired. Kids…am I right?? 

Silence can actually be deafening can’t it? Silence can be alarming. Silence can trigger our need to take action. 

Having just celebrated Easter this past weekend, this is all still fresh on my heart so stay with me because I really want you to “see” this part of the story!

Friday was the crucifixion; violence, mourning, grief. 

Sunday was the resurrection; excitement, celebrating, joy. 

But Saturday? 

Saturday was silent. 

So often we want to bypass Saturday because nothing “good” seems to be happening. It’s that messy, middle part of the story right? Where there’s disappointment, isolation, hopelessness, unexplainable hurt. 

We’ve come one day away from the trauma and we hear that “Sunday is coming and just wait for it, it’s going to be amazing what God is going to do on Sunday”! And that is absolutely true, don’t miss that. (Matthew 27:45-65, Matthew 28:1-10)

Of course God was at work Friday, it was part of His perfect plan. And of course God was at work Sunday, it was God’s promise fulfilled. 

But, you know what we tend to forget? 

God was still at work Saturday. He was still there in the silence. He was still there in the disappointment. In the hopelessness. In the hurt. God was there! When we’re searching for answers for the unexplainable pain and crying out with total abandon desperation…He’s working to bring it all together for good. (Romans 8:28)

Psalms 94:14 “For the Lord will never walk away from his cherished ones, nor would he forsake his chosen ones who belong to him”

When you think there’s silence, God is speaking in that space. When you think you’re isolated, God is working in that void. When you think you’re alone, God is shifting things on your behalf.

God is always, always at work even when we can’t see it or maybe even feel it. God is still the author of your story on Saturday, just like He was on Friday and Sunday. 

God CAN and WILL do for you what nobody else can do for you, even in the silence on “your Saturday”. 

We remember Friday, we celebrate Sunday. 

Let’s trust God on Saturday

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Birds and Grass

Leaving my house and heading into the office this morning I counted four different lawn crews working on just a small stretch of road. When I got to the red light I noticed two birds flying not too far above the traffic intersection. This morning, in the short mile and a half road and a thirty-second wait at the traffic light, I felt my trust for God deepen.

God reminded me of His words in Matthew 6

“Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food.

Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they?

So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life?

And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these!”

So if God has clothed the meadow with hay which is here for such a short time, then dried up, and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need? Even though you live with such little faith? So then, forsake your worries!

Matthew 6:26-31 TPT

Can you feel the weight of His words to us?

In our current day and time trusting God at the highest level is a must. We aren’t sure week to week what news headline will shake our nation next, where our economy will go from here, what will “normal” look like!

 Yet, the grass just keeps growing and the birds keep flying.

Those four lawn crews reminded me that God is still making the grass grow. The birds I saw flying above the intersection made the words of Jesus ring in my ears “Look at the birds…aren’t you more valuable to your Heavenly Father than they?”

Let these promises sink deep in your heart. Let them envelop your entire way of thinking. If the grass is growing and the birds are flying, God has your back and you absolutely can trust Him no matter what comes your way.

How can you be sure?

Because if He is taking care of flowers and birds He absolutely will take care of you as His child.

To hear a sermon that takes a deeper dive on this click here.

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Faith over Fear Equation

Remember the days in high school where we thought we new everything we would ever need to take on this thing called “adulting”? I certainly do! Especially when it came to math classes. Will I ever actually use x = −b ± √b²-4ac/2a or x2+3x+2, 4×2−1, x2−5x+6? In many professions I would say yes! In many I would say no! But that is a debate for another time.

Here’s an equation you have to use no matter your profession, age, or background – putting your faith over your fear. When fear starts to rear it’s ugly head, my answer is simple; I trust God. I trust that He will protect me, heal me, provide for me, and fight for me.

For a deeper dive we did on this check out the sermon here!

Fear is a real thing everyone deals with, but we do not all deal with it well. Fear has a way of robbing us, abusing us, and ruining us. It stops dreams, opportunities, fresh starts, and reconciliation unlike anything else. Fear is not a respecter of persons and will be used by the enemy on every person.

The good news?

It is NOT the most powerful force on the earth. According to 1 Corinthians 13 “, hope and love..” will remain after everything, meaning there is nothing that can conquer  or rival those things.

 For today we are going to look at faith in which we know is trust.

So what does this faith over fear equation look like? It is the posture of heart that says “I trust that God has my back and He has me covered – more than I trust the roar of my fear”.

It is when I get a bad doctors report, I trust God has me covered no matter what. It is when hours are being cut at work or I lost the bid on the job or I didn’t get the sale, I trust God has my back and He will supply all of my needs. It is when I feel like instead of wholeness in my home I have nothing but a shattering dream…I trust God has us covered and will do what only He can do. And what God can do is bring beauty from ashes, dead bones to life, and water to the dry places.

Take whatever your fear is and put over it the trust (faith) that God is greater than those fears. Put over the fear how God is still undefeated. Put over the fear that you have a loving father who desires to do exceedingly, abundantly more than you could ever ask or think. This is the equation of the Christ follower!

For a deeper dive we did on this check out the sermon here!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

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Faith is simply trust

I thoroughly enjoy catchy words, creative sayings, and even tag lines that get engrained in your mind that everyone can relate to. The problem with these catchy and creative tag lines is outside of its context the meaning can easily be lost.

For example the old McDonald’s saying “badabababa I’m lovin’ it” makes complete sense as you are eating a juicy, fresh Big Mac. Add in a large fry with a large coke and a McFlurry, “badabababa” seems to just roll off your tongue! Now if you were to say this as you didn’t meet a deadline, getting a ticket for a fender-bender, or set fire to your kitchen while making dinner…badabababa Im lovinit” would make zero sense!

The word faith is certainly one of these words that, out of context, the meaning can be easily lost.

Phrases about faith are said a lot in church circles and rightfully so as Jesus even makes a few like “have faith in God!” (Mark 11:22) We are even told “it is faith that pleases God” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith makes sense in songs and sermons, gets amens from pews and online streams. You can even find faith printed on trendy shirts & Yeti cups in the trendiest calligraphy.

But what does this frequently mentioned faith look like in day to day, hour by hour life?

It is simply trust. Trust that God loves you, is guiding you, and wants the absolute best for you. God desires complete devotion to Him and it all starts with trust.

This trust in God is one of the most powerful things on this side of Heaven. It was trust in God that led Abraham to be called the Father of Faith. It was trust in God that led David to slay Goliath. It was trust in God that led Daniel to not only survive a den full of lions but to influence his culture even when it seemed to have no hope. It was trust in God that led to Peter stepping out of the boat, Lazarus stepping out of the grave, and the leaders of the early church stepping into their calling of proclaiming the great news of the Gospel.

This trust in God is one of the most powerful things on this side of Heaven.

Let this same trust that all the heroes of faith walked in, that is available to you and I, strengthen us to take a step in whatever season we find ourself in.

I encourage you today to see faith for what it is – a complete trust in the goodness of God as your Heavenly Father. He has your back and has never lost a battle or forgotten one of His children. Rest in this truth today and put your trust in Him.

. God's plan

Adopted into the Family

With all the benefits that go with it…

The Bible has several stories of adoption. Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. Esther was adopted by Mordecai. Jesus was treated as a son by Joseph, even though Joseph was not his biological father.

Adoption is amazing. It turns strangers into family and turns orphans into sons and daughters. But the deepest, strongest, and most amazing act of adoption is not when people adopt children, but when God adopts people.

For it was always in his perfect plan to adopt us as his delightful children, through our union with Jesus, the Anointed One…and this unfolding plan brings him great pleasure!

Ephesians 1:5-6

We are more than just God’s creation. We are more than just his servants. And God is more than just our judge. He is our father. When we give our lives to Jesus, we become part of God’s family, with all the benefits and rights that come with being his adopted child. Our God-planned destiny from the beginning was to be adopted into his family.

It’s hard to believe, but it gives God great joy and pleasure to adopt us. We weren’t cute, cuddly, and captivating. On the contrary, we were a mess. We were all born with evil, selfish natures. Our lives expressed the depravity inside us, as we pursued any wicked thought springing from our selfish nature. We deserved God’s anger. Yet, when we were unlovable, he still loved us. God loved us so much that he adopted us. He made us his very own children.

What does that mean? When someone adopts a child, they make that child part of their family forever. They give that child their family name, invest their time in that child, bear the necessary costs to support that child, and make that child an heir of their estate. Adopting a child is a huge, weighty, life-altering decision.

God made that decision for us from the beginning. He knew how much trouble we would be and the price it would cost, but he never wavered. He adopted us and gave us the right to call him, “Daddy.” He didn’t do it out of obligation or pity. Our heavenly Father adopted us out of love. We are part of the family of God, dearly loved, forever.

If you are a Christian, you are a child of the living God, adopted into his family. Because you are his child, God loves you, protects you, and provides for you. He will never leave you. He will hear and answer your prayers. He will make a way for you. Always. That’s what a good father does…and God is a very good father.

Father, I am thankful to be adopted into your family. I’m overwhelmed that you loved me enough to adopt me and make me your child. I want to grow into your image. Thank you for your grace, your presence, and your overwhelming love. In Jesus’s name, amen.


Claim These 17 Words Today

Need some words to live by?

I love me some Chick-Fil-A. Give me a Chick-Fil-A sandwich with extra pickles and some fresh-out-of-the-fryer waffle fries with a large unsweet tea and I’m a happy girl. I don’t need a cow to tell me to, “eat mor chicken.” I’m a self-motivated chicken eater.

Chick-Fil-A’s vision is to, “be America’s best quick-service restaurant.” Their purpose is, “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-Fil-A.”

There’s a lot more to running a Chick-Fil-A than just knowing the vision and purpose. I’m sure there’s written info about how to run a cash register, how to make a milkshake, and how to greet customers. But their vision and purpose provide a concise statement that gives overall direction to the organization.

Have you ever wished for a concise statement about how to live a Christian life? Ephesians 5:15 says, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.” Did you ever wonder what that meant? How do you live wisely? How can we be careful about how we live?

In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, we read seventeen wise, concise, and directional words. In these few words, we see an overview of how we should live. We are given values that enable us to live wisely. Here are the seventeen words:

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.

So simple. So short. And yet so powerful. Stick, “I will,” in front of each sentence, and you’ve got some forceful and compelling words to live by.

Of course, the Bible gives more detailed information about how to live, but these words give a great overview. If everyone embraced these seventeen words, what a change that would make in the world. Families would be stronger. Addictions would be broken. Kindness would abound. All this and more would result if we stayed alert, lived out our faith, acted with courage instead of fear, and walked in the strength of God.

And just imagine if we did what we did because of love. Everything. All the time. Y’all, that kind of living changes the world. That’s the kind of life Jesus lived. And that’s the kind of careful, wise living Jesus wants for us.

It’s only five actions and only seventeen words but they sure pack a punch. Let’s strive to be awake and aware, rooted in the truth of the faith, fearless, and strong in the power of God. And at the core of it all—our calling and purpose—is love. Let’s love God with all our hearts, and love others in the way God has loved us. May we live wisely and walk worthy of our incredible calling.

Dear God, I want to live with these seventeen words embedded in the fabric of my life. Lord, keep me alert, true to my faith, courageous, and strong. And fill me with a supernatural love that reaches out to warm the world and point people to you. In Jesus’s name, amen.