Blog_SkeletonSeen a lot of skeletons lately? I have. They seem to be everywhere these days—lying in garden beds, hanging from trees, lining the clearance aisles at the store. And while these skeletons are mere plastic replicas of the real thing, they serve as a reminder. Not just to buy tons of candy to pass out to costumed kids over the weekend. No, they are a reminder of something much more sobering.

Beneath our fashionable clothes and beyond our fading flesh, a mere skeleton holds us together. And when we’re gone, that skeleton is all that will be left of our bodies.

During a trip to a third world country, I walked through an impoverished graveyard where skeletons lined the pathways. My face-to-face encounter with those empty eye sockets and fleshless bones awakened me to the reality of my own mortality. I won’t be here long, no matter how slowly time seems to pass.

It’s easy to get sucked in to the monotonous routine of everyday life, forgetting how fleeting it all is. It’s tempting to invest time and resources on the needs and desires of my flesh, neglecting to consider it’s just a temporary house. How many hours have I spent worrying about how I look or how others perceive my external appearance, when this flesh is destined for the grave?

We are more, so much more. And life is more, so much more. When I stare at the skeletons in the neighborhood yards, I’m reminded again and again. I don’t want to live for short-lived gratification. I want my life to count for something that won’t rot in a casket with my bones.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

Source: Skeletons

Photo Credit: Skeleton Reading Book | Flickr – Photo Sharing! www.flickr.com

Greater than My Fear

Yes, I feel afraid when I hear of all the awful things going on in the world. But I know my God is greater than my fear, and I know that one day, after my flesh has been destroyed, I will see him with my own eyes.


Photo Credit: Free photo: Landscape, Night, Road – Free Image on Pixabay – 696825

Beware the Mind Invaders

Blog_UFOI’ve done stupid things, and I’ve done stupider things. And though I tell my kids stupid is a bad word, it’s just not possible to describe my most recent near-catastrophe without saying it was one of the stupider things I’ve done.

It all started with fear. Some rogue message appeared on my computer warning that if I didn’t click the link my computer would be infected with a deadly virus. I didn’t click the link. Yay, me. Smart choice. But throughout the day, I kept worrying that maybe my computer WAS getting sick and would shut down and lose all my treasured info. Hardly catastrophic on the scale of world catastrophes, but for a writer it would be quite devastating to lose a dearly beloved laptop.

Long story short, I looked for a reputable virus removal software, clicked the link to download, and that’s where it all went bad. Before I knew it, I was on the line with some outsourced customer service agent of some not-so-reputable company trying to take over my computer. As they small-talked me about the crazy weather and other random topics, they were subtly attempting to sneak info from my computer while implanting viruses.

Good thing my husband was smart enough to shut it all down and clean it all up before it was too late.

The same thing can happen with our minds. Fear sets in, leading us to seek defense. Somehow, in the process, we download bad info that attempts to take over our minds.

Take bitterness, for example. Someone hurts us. We fear they’ll hurt us again. Our defenses go up. Yet as we seek to protect ourselves, something insidious seeps into our thought life. While we initially sought to control our circumstances, we find we are the ones being controlled. Before we know it, bitterness rules our thoughts, words, and actions, if not paralyzing us completely.

The danger of allowing bad data to enter our thoughts applies in every arena, from self-hatred to racism to rage to depression. It begins with fear, moves to self-protection, then whammo! We’re the victims of a mind invasion.

When I realized what was happening to my laptop, it had to be shut down, rebooted, examined, and cleaned up. We had to put up a firewall, protecting my data from malware. We need the same defense when it comes to our thought life. And how much more valuable are our minds.

“Watch your thoughts for they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.”
(Margaret Thatcher)

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

The Beggar

Blog_Beggarat first glance he’s just a beggar…

a blur in the background
of my immutable schedule

an unwelcome disruption
to my carefully laid plans

his greedy hands reaching out
for my hard-earned wealth

of my well-deserved luxuries

unequal to the value
of my precious time

but when i take a closer look,
i see a mirror reflection

helpless eyes that could be mine
if hope had escaped my grasp

desperate hands that would reach out
if opportunity had eluded me

hardships i would bear
if fate had dealt me another hand

he is no beggar
he is a reminder of what can be lost

he is a messenger
of what has been forgotten

he is a friend
inviting me to find my humanity


Source: More than a Neighbor

Photo Credit:BEGGAR  | Street Photography © 2014 www.r… | | by richardovertoom

The Safest Place

Blog_LighthouseInStormWhen my husband and I lived in the inner city, friends and relatives rarely came to visit because they were afraid of getting shot. I would think, “What are you afraid of? We’ve lived here fourteen years and only been shot at five times.” Encountering random gunfire in the city is not a daily occurrence as most would presume, though I can understand that for most people one close-encounter is one too many.

Let me say upfront that the majority of those we met while living in the inner city were average people wanting to live peaceful, productive lives. As a matter of fact, most of them were beyond average people wanting to make a difference in their communities and in the world at large. But yes, I will admit that while living in one of the most dangerous communities on the west side of Chicago, we did have our share of close encounters.

There was the time we were at our neighbor’s house, standing up to leave, when someone drove by and shot through the living room window, level with our heads. One of us should have been hit. Yet “somehow” the bullet lodged in the high corner of the wall, far above our heads. And there was the time we were driving home from a fourth of July picnic and someone shot off a random bullet, which lodged in the roof of our car just above my husband’s head. I can recount other stories with similar outcomes that were by no means merely coincidental.

What I learned through it all is this: there’s no safer place in the world than in the center of God’s will. We were in that neighborhood because God called us there to tell people of His power to free them from addiction and gang violence. So when we encountered that violence ourselves, God placed a shield of protection around us.

I once read of a missionary called to share God’s love with a cannibalistic tribe in a remote jungle of Papua New Guinea. Countless times he was nearly killed by spears, poisonous darts, arrows…but God kept him safe for as long as he needed breath to do what he was called to do.

In this crazy, violent age, the safest place to be is in God. It doesn’t ensure we will never experience physical harm, but that He will preserve us until our calling in life is complete. My prayer has always been: “Lord, preserve my life to fulfill every good work you have for me, until the day when my death will give you the greatest glory and honor.” And knowing He’s always been faithful, I walk in confidence and will not fear evil or death in these evil days.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)

Photo Credit: File:Split Rock Lighthouse – November 10, 2009 (4094837910).jpg …

The Gift of Loss

Blog_FlowersIt was the perfect job. The pay was low but sufficient, the hours enough to keep me busy but not overwhelmed. And the opportunity to stay home with my kids outweighed the benefits I didn’t receive. Everything was good until the organization I was working for unexpectedly discontinued funding for the contract.

Fear and depression threatened to take hold. What would we do without the extra income? Where would I find another job that wouldn’t detract from my family? And why did this happen so suddenly?

Somewhere in the midst of it, I stopped checking my email for word of a renewed contract. It was time to move on. As good as the job was, I had to admit it wasn’t my life’s passion. What had come as an unexpected storm was truly a wake up call.

In a scene C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy, the main characters are chased by a lion they’re certain is bent on destruction. It’s not until journey’s end that they realize the lion was chasing them to their destiny while protecting them from the real enemy. In life, trials can be like that lion—pushing us out of our comfort zones, into the place we truly belong while protecting us from that which drains our life.

Looking back, I now see how losing that job was truly a gift. It pushed me to reassess my life, my goals, and my desires. As a result, I’ve had an abundance of needful, quality time with my children along with the opportunity to pursue my passions of writing and teaching. Had my work contract continued indefinitely, I might have stayed on, going through the motions—content, yet unfulfilled.

Maybe you’re in a similar situation, with fear and depression threatening to take hold. My prayer is that you’ll find a gift in the midst of your loss. Take this time to consider what’s really worth living for. Use this season to find your purpose and establish your priorities. Loss can be an opportunity if you let it.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth…he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:1-2, 7-8)