Pine Tree Dreams

So this evening I learned something new about my dad. Something even my mom had never heard. Something to me bittersweet, but to them overall good.

After supper we had apple crisp and stayed in the dining room chatting. The topic of pine trees surfaced, and my dad opened up about his long-time dream. He said he’s always dreamed of building a cabin and being there with his family, and his dog.

“You have a dog?” my aunt asked jokingly. We haven’t for several years. I never knew he actually wanted one.

My dad continued that his dream was the reason he purchased land and started working on it. Soon after getting married, my parents started buying five acres on the county border.

He would leave behind their gas-guzzling Impala and ride his bicycle to the property, where he would work the land. There he dug an immense area for an underground greenhouse. He also planted 50 strawberry plants and 100 pine trees. One night he got home after 11 and had my mom worried; he explained he had worked by moonlight.

What he said next hit me hard. He said that they gave that up when they moved to Greenfield and he started into the ministry.

Somehow that touched me deeply: our young father with adventurous dreams giving them up to follow God’s plans for his life.

I felt somewhat sad, but my parents showed no regrets.

My dad, well, he acknowledged that was a dream of his, but said God had something better for him, and still does. And my mom said, “I wouldn’t trade the life that we’ve had for some property.”

My dad referenced Jesus’ words to His Disciples: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29, NKJV)

It can be hard to give up dreams for God, but it’s worth it – He’s worth it! Am I willing to trade my ideas for His? Are you willing to surrender everything for Him? His rewards are beyond comprehension.

When we wait and pray, God opens doors. He also calls us to move ahead.


Dividing the Sea

After a summer missions trip and a month off, I’ve finally reached that daunting step: the job search. Yesterday I viewed job postings on (I do love that site), added LinkedIn contacts, and read overwhelming job descriptions and equally challenging qualifications. One must have excellent communication skills, be able to multitask and work under pressure, meet strict deadlines, be creative and think outside the box… Requirements big enough to bowl me over.

But I realized yesterday that God has provided jobs before. In amazing ways. I must do my part, but it is He Who makes it work.

That’s really a profound realization, one which wraps an entire job search in confidence: If I do my part and God wants me to work at a place, He will handle the details, open doors and move hearts. If He does not, He will guide me elsewhere.

Just out of college, I applied to a whole string of companies, dutifully listing each place and date and response (or lack thereof) in a notebook. On one such day, walking down the Main Street sidewalk, I noticed a stately brick bank I’d never entered before. I decided to ascend the steps and walk over to the center desk.

They gave me an application, which I completed then and there. My boss-to-be came from her office to meet me. It just so happened that they were hiring for a part-time teller. That seemingly stumbled-upon opportunity turned into the blessing of a good job, which soon grew into full-time. God had worked it all out and guided each step.

It’s hard to be positive when the well seems dry and you see no results. But bottom line, there’s no cause for worry.

I think of the Israelites as they were escaping Egypt. They were pinned in by the Red Sea (in front) and the Egyptian army (behind). “So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.” (Exodus 14:10b)

I love the responses to their fear; they speak strongly to our situations today: “And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today.’ (Exo. 14:13a)

Then God told Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.” (Exo. 14:15) He instructed Moses to lift up his rod and stretch out his hand over the sea and divide it.

With the Egyptian army menacing behind them, how could they not be afraid? And with the sea in front of them, how could they go forward?

But God had it. His Angel moved around behind the people to create a barrier of protection, keeping the Egyptian army from approaching them. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea in front of them, and God sent “a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.” (Exo. 14:21)

Thus the children of Israel walked across the sea on dry land and escaped the Egyptians, who in turn drowned.

Who does that? Can you imagine being hunched against a strong wind, walking on dry ground with walls of water on either side? That is only and totally God working!

I don’t know what you’re dealing with today. It may not be a job search; it may be something bigger. Some insurmountable obstacle looming ahead, or some fear engulfing your mind. Reach out to Jesus.

God wants you to stand still and see His salvation for you. And also to go forward, knowing He will work everything out according to His good plan.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

The Light of the World

I just got back from visiting an art exhibit at the library. There I saw amazing paintings, drawings, photography and sculptures by talented local art teachers; but I also got more than I bargained for. It was completely dark when I walked outside – next to the shortest day of the year – and I felt sickeningly dark inside, too.

Why? Because I had walked back to revisit one display on the back wall, and stood there reading a portion of the testimonies and letters of people affected by drugs – a mom who lost her best friend (daughter) – though still alive, now addicted to meth.. a former addict who said her mind is like a 14-year-old’s, though she is 45 – but she has been clean for 10 years, thank the Lord, and is blessed to have the Lord and loving family in her life.. a letter home from a daughter in a center..

The artist lamented the swelling drug problem in Lancaster. In all Ohio last year, 3,015 people died of overdoses, he reported. No one wants to think about such tragedies at Christmas time, but so many families are living these horrendous nightmares not of their choosing.

Of course the problems don’t stop at drugs, though that is problem enough. There is alcoholism, pornography, abuse.. We find ourselves or people around us struggling with addictions, and we all need help.

There is help, and hope, in Jesus.

To point to Jesus is not trite at all. In fact, He is the only hope. When Jesus came at the first Christmas, He shone light into this dark world, just like He will shine light into our lives when we accept Him. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)

Certainly, Jesus is the only One Who can, and will, break the chains around our lives. He alone can set us free.

I love the hopeful passage in Isaiah that talks about the affects of Jesus’ coming to earth:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” (Isa. 9:2)

At Christmas time especially, I want to focus on the light. Though even at Christmas time this city/nation/world may be a dark place for some, the Light of the world is still shining brightly – shining on us and in us if we open our hearts to Him.. The Light of the world is Jesus.

Why I’ll Vote for Trump Today

Starting into the election season, Donald Trump was my last pick among Republican candidates. But today, I plan to cast my vote for Trump.

There are many reasons to choose him for President, but I might say the top one is a img_0829candidate named Hillary Clinton.

There are lots of issues at stake in this election, but at the top is the lives of unborn babies. Close to 1 million of them murdered by abortion each year in the United States.

No question where the candidates stand – the contrast couldn’t be clearer. Hear it in their own words:


“We will sign a bill banning late-term abortions and we will uphold the historic Hyde Amendment that will prevent the use of taxpayer dollars to fund that which millions of Americans find to be morally objectionable.” – Mike Pence

“I will defend Planned Parenthood. I will defend Roe v. Wade, and I will defend women’s right to make their own health care decisions.” – Hillary Clinton

“The days of public funding for Planned Parenthood are over when the Trump-Pence administration arrives in Washington, DC.” – Dawn Laguens, Executive V.P. of Planned Parenthood

DSC03818Both sides point out that whoever becomes President will nominate at least one Supreme Court Justice (for life) to an equally divided Court. This watershed would send decisions one way or the other.

If there were no other issues at stake, saving lives should be enough to direct our votes. How could we knowingly pick a person who will direct our taxes to pay for abortions, who will defend the “right” to murder babies as they are on their way out of the womb – or at any stage of life?

The babies cannot speak up for themselves. But the Planned Parenthood executives at risk of losing funding – they have weighed in big-time. Who else will speak up? Voters can.

To me, the choice is clear. Vote for life.


“Open your mouth for the speechless,

In the cause of all who are appointed to die.

Open your mouth, judge righteously,

And plead the cause of the poor and needy.” – Prov. 31:8-9

Being Transparent

You know that heavy, heartsick feeling that drags down your whole being (even though your problems are nowhere near as serious as most)? That was mine today.

When you’re 32 and single, you’ve faced a fair number of disappointments, and felt like a failure many times over.

When you’re 32 and single, probably the only girl at the family Thanksgiving who doesn’t have a ring on her finger and isn’t taking care of babies. And you wonder, Why not me?

That soft spot of the heart that is so deep and so treasured is also prone to intense aching when empty.

When you’re 32 and single, and you go on the first date in 3-and-a-half years, you find yourself timidly envisioning possibilities you’d closed your mind to indefinitely.. Those aspects of life that are never yours to share, well maybe they could be now..

When you’re 32 and single,you’re a bit more resolute and a little less prideful than in the past. Not in it to impress others, but to move toward a goal. Willing to push through a disagreement because you want this to work.

And then, when the door seems to close, you’re very heavy-hearted and don’t know what to think.. Except to realize you don’t want to be back to square one, because hopefully you’ve learned and grown and God used this short time to mold you into a better person, better toward others.

My dad shared recently, “The longer you wait, the stronger you get.” I don’t want to wait! But it’s so true. There is some measure of hope when you’re at the base looking up, when you’re looking to the Lord.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” – Proverbs 13:15

I believe that God has good things in store. Paradoxically, it seems harder to imagine but easier to trust God for as time goes on.

I guess it boils down to this: Do you trust God?

When you’re 32 and single, you have to trust a little harder.. But He gives you grace for that, because He is good. There is no one more trustworthy than God, so go ahead and trust Him – you img_20161016_185826couldn’t be in better hands!

Proverbs 3:5-6

The Wind

Over cereal and preparing for church, Grandpa and I discuss the wintry temperatures this week and last. His friend spoke of impending 5- and 6-degree days. I comment how cold that will be. Grandpa reminds me that it was 2-below last week. That’s true.

I recall last week’s road trip to Indiana and Michigan. It was cold, and there were strong winds. When we stepped out at a gas station, the wind hit us and made things 100 times more frigid.

Grandpa comments, “That wind sure does make a difference.”

Somehow, I immediately think of the Holy Spirit. Jesus likened the way He works to the moving of the wind. Furthermore, the Hebrew word for Spirit, Ruach, also means wind. And certainly in our lives – in every situation, He makes a difference. If the Holy Spirit is not working in and through us, we are utterly ineffective, useless.

Grandpa noted the difference you feel when the sun is out and there’s no breeze, and then you step around the corner into the wind… Even a small breeze makes a difference.

Jesus told His Disciples in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He was leaving to Heaven, but His Father would send another Helper, the Holy Spirit.

Just as He had promised, on the Day of Pentecost, the Father sent the Holy Spirit. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Filled with the Holy Spirit, the apostles stepped outdoors and Peter preached – to see about 3,000 people saved!

The Holy Spirit is still working today. He is our Helper, our source of power, and we need Him desperately. Amazingly, He dwells inside of us. For Christians, that needs to be our prayer today, our strength, our only way of living … to be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit. He will make the difference!


If Christians are hated, berated and booed
Silenced and sidelined and misunderstood
The world hated Him, they will hate us too
But they will know that we are Christians by our love

If following Jesus comes at a cost
We find the repayment, reward for our loss
By the beauty of lives that are changed by the Cross

Most often it’s a scarred church that truly extends
His love and His nail-scarred hand to them
Yes, it is worth
The sacrifice, the cost
To see the beauty of a life that is changed by the Cross

God uses scary adventures

The instant I finished filling out the online Loan Entrance Interview, Mamalini and I hurried toward the front door of the Admin building. “They want me to wait at the front door,” she said.

She had flown out to Portland to help get me moved in and set up for college. We had enjoyed the last few days. Besides taking care of financial arrangements, we trekked through wintry weather to buy supplies. At the hotel, we ordered pizza and watched a marathon of Bonanza reruns. She helped me to settle into my new dorm room and spent that last night in a guest room downstairs. Now the day had come.

“I hate that I had to fill that out right before…” I lamented.

She agreed. “I know.”

When we reached the door, at the end of the walk sat a yellow taxi. I started to cry the instant I hugged Mamalini, especially because she really started to cry. It was just too terrible.

After a short while, she looked up and said, “You’ll do well.”

“Call me today-tomorrow,” she said.

She hurried to the waiting taxi; once inside, she rolled down the back window.

“Please keep her safe,” I prayed, waving as the taxi rolled down the street. Wave until out of sight, I thought.

Before long, she was out of sight. Wind was icy. Tiny snowflakes swirled.

After going back into the office, I was relieved that I didn’t have to do anything else. I hurried back to the dorms, up to my room and got stuff ready to go to the empty lounge for a mug of hot chocolate.

When I opened the door to the lounge, more than a dozen girls were seated on the floor and chairs, everywhere. It sounded like they were watching a movie. Heads turned to look.

Smiling embarrassedly, I closed the door and returned to my room.

No bones about it, the new adventure was terrifying; I faced so many challenges. But I couldn’t see until they actually arrived what wonderful things God had in store – for that night, that week and the seven semesters I spent out there.

Sometimes the most adventurous, beautiful, growing and fruitful times in our lives come about when God brings us outside our comfort zones. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it if we trust in Him.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O LORD, endures forever-do not abandon the works of Your hands. ~ Psalm 138:8

What this world needs

This world is

In a state of moral regression,

With religious-freedom and human-rights suppression,

Horrific brutality in ISIS aggression

Hatred of Israel and Christians and good,

Violence and looting in neighborhoods,

Deficits, corruption, regulations and greed,

Hunger, abortion, and hearts that still bleed,

Arguments, hatred, embroiled in fights,

Depressed in the daytime and crying at night

Thinking the world will never get right


We once were here before,

Injured hearts longing for life,

Lost in a darkness so deep we couldn’t breathe

We could do nothing to help ourselves,

But God did.

Though Himself perfect, He looked down at our imperfection

In love

And gave His only Son

A huge sacrifice beyond comprehension

And in giving Jesus,

He gave life

To all who believe

Hope for right now, and hope for forever,

To spend eternity with Jesus and our Heavenly Father


This world needs a faith larger than the grave,

A faith that moves boldly and makes the righteous heart brave,

A faith that our God is mighty to save

This world needs a hope past politicians or kings

A hope that makes the widow’s heart sing

That finds its anchor in eternal things

This world needs a love that protects and forgives,

A love that’s not there to take but to give

As shown on the Cross by our Savior Who lives

We don’t need entertainment or idols to please us

This world is broken apart and falling to pieces

What this world really needs,

All this world needs,

What we all need,

Is Jesus

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