There are lots of ways to Run

Some runners are what we call linear runners. They plow straight through until they reach their destination or finish line for the day.

Some are more like “block” runners. They don’t necessarily prefer to go in a straight line, but instead like to circle around things until they have logged all their miles.

I am sure there are probably those as well who like to do a mixture of the two.

I am someone who prefers linear running. I don’t really mind block running, but feel more effective when the majority of my run is such that I run in pretty much straight lines and just plug in my headphones and zone out for a while.

There are benefits to both and there are downsides to both types of running as well.

I was thinking today about how this translates into how we deal with grief, conflict, or even just minor difficulties.

Let’s think about grief for just a moment…..

I have been in a grieving process before in which I just tried to go around it – this was what I did when my father passed away well over two decades ago. Quite frankly, I didn’t deal with it, friends. I just “went around it all.” It came upon me like a rushing tsunami later and hammered me into the ground for years and years and years. Avoidance is not the way to go when it comes to the death of a close loved one.

Then, when my mother died, at first I handled it by facing it head on (or so I thought). But again, I found out a week or so later that I had still been trying to bypass it by just plowing right through it. That one hit me like an earthquake inside – deep down in my soul. Then I was able to deal with the grief, but not until I got past the shaking of the quake.

Sometimes we know we are trying to go around, through, or past our pain in life while it is happening. And at other times, we think we are “doing it right” until it comes back up on us later and bites into us.

The fact of the matter is, there are lots of ways to run, and when it comes to difficulties in life, especially tragic things or things that strike us down in our core, we have to do something more than run for the sake of running – we have to keep going, but not try to bypass the hard stuff. In fact, I believe we have to actually embrace the icky.

Thank GOD we don’t have to do it alone.

Some (actually a lot) of runners like to run so much we bypass strength training. But it is critical that we not neglect this piece of things or we will end up breaking down one day and not being able to do much of anything at all.

Yes, we have to keep moving through the pain, but we also must allow the Lord to have His way within us throughout the entire process. This means that our agenda goes out the window sometimes – and that is something that many runners do not like at all!

Sometimes, He builds up our neglected muscles pretty quickly and we stay healthy all the way through. And sometimes, it takes a while for us to gain the strength we need to emerge all the stronger in Jesus than we were from when we first began. The key is to be flexible and willing to embrace the pain. The key is not to run past it or merely through it, but to live within it and find our new stride.

Guess who needs to hold the key? (Hint: It’s not us)

The simple truth is that there really is only one way to run that is the right way – the best way – the healthy way – when it comes to such things as grief, suffering, or even conflicts in life…..Right into the arms of our loving Savior.

He is where we find our way – on His path and in His footsteps.

He is where we gain our strength – in His arms and placing our weight on His back.

He is the One who makes the way – according to His map, ending in His desired and eternal destination that He has planned for us.

One way or another, grief and trials in life are going to hit us – some way and some how. We can run from them, we can try to hide….we can try to plow right on through or over or around or under them. But eventually, they will find us (these heart impacting things). We will either crumble beneath the weight of it all, or emerge triumphant – it all depends upon who we look to for our strength training and endurance.

In a nuthsell? We can allow ourselves to perpetuate the illusion of control over how we handle our grief, or we can yield to the Savior and His mighty and divine power.

Yes, there are lots of ways to run, dear friends. It is my prayer today that we all remember to run right smack into His loving arms, alongside Him, or even allow Him to carry us whenever and however HE sees fit.

Hopefully, we are already there. But sometimes, (I know at least for me), although I am a linear runner, I tend to look at bright shiny things and veer off the best path when it comes to dealing with grief and difficulty. How about you?

Here’s to not trying to “finish the race” in our own limited, mortal, and flawed power – I pray we all go to Jesus for the patience and the strength we need to finish it well –  even if we are already awesome marathon runners.

Drop the body fat (spiritual sickness and self sufficiency and sin)

Strengthen our muscles (pray without ceasing and spend time with and lean upon Jesus)

Face the pain (with the divine power and inspiration that only HE can offer us)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1-2



The Small Stuff that Matters Big


Sometimes we struggle to truly be of service to others, don’t we? We can get so caught up in our own little world, our own particular needs or circumstances, that we just become – well, selfish.

But even when we begin to really re-focus on loving others and in so doing, serving them (first, before ourselves), we can find that we get discouraged. We find ourselves at times thinking that we need to do something bigger….better….that the small things we have to offer just aren’t enough.

I find that this usually occurs for one of two main reasons for me:

1 – When I discover that I am not really serving from the heart – This is when I am serving just to serve, and pretty much means that a serious heart check is in order. This means that I am either trying too hard – to do it in my own power, or my heart has grown partially cold and I am not serving out of real love and need God to do a work within me to change that. That’s when it’s time to pray and ask for Him to “renew a right spirit” within me.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

2 – I am not paying attention to the fact that often, the greatest ways to serve others comes through the “little things.” The thankless things, the smaller things, the things that don’t make a huge impact for the whole world to see? Those things characterized much of Christ’s life and behaviors as He walked this earth. This is our role model for what it truly is to be a real servant friends – Jesus. And Jesus is into the small stuff that matters big.

“And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:44-45 ESV

Lately, the second category has been more the one that has caused me to feel I am failing to serve others the way Christ would want for me to. And it has dawned on me today, that sometimes, it’s good for us to take a moment to pay attention to the ways we can defer to others or put them first that are “small” yet powerful!

I did lots of things today that I discounted as acts of service while I was doing them, but now that I look back and reflect, the Lord is putting it on my heart strongly that I should not let the enemy make me feel like I am not a light in this world. Are you finding yourself in that boat today as well?

See, I don’t think we should “count up” all that we do as some sort of tally or way to feel good about ourselves – or as some type of way to feel like we met our serving quota for the day – not at all. But if we are feeling discouraged, it can often be a really good exercise for us to check in with the Lord, and in so doing, we can then rejoice in the fact that He will and IS using us to be lights to others in this world – something the enemy would love for us to not realize or minimize completely.

Sometimes I make a list of things I am grateful for if I am struggling in that area and becoming self absorbed. But today, I shall make a list of very small things that we can do, and may already be doing consistently that show we esteem others, love them, and show Jesus to people with whom we interact.

If you, like me, have been subject to the enemy’s tauntings regarding this, maybe this would help you too – making a list of the small things you do or want to do for others – and then praising God that He is doing this through you. It matters – it matters to Him, and it should matter to us.

Nothing is too small. As long as it’s done with a BIG and God-filled heart!

Opening a door for someone
Smiling every time you enter a room
Making eye contact with everyone
Saying “hello” like you mean it!
Complimenting someone on something specific
Remembering something special someone shared and asking about it
Letting someone go before you in line
Moving out of the way in traffic for someone to get by
Asking someone “is there anything I can do to help” and meaning it!
Hugging someone
Showing interest in something someone is talking about
Telling someone something specific you learned from them
Offering to go last (or first if someone is shy)
Specifically asking for a person’s opinion or thoughts on something

There is freedom in being someone who has a servant heart – it’s Jesus freedom, friends. This kind of “slavery” is the only kind that truly sets us free. Service through an attitude and heart of real love – that agape kind of love – makes us more like Jesus, and more importantly, shows Him clearly to others in our world. That is power unleashed, for sure and we should notice it and keep on doing it by His power, through His grace, and all for His glory!

Be free in Christ today and help someone else feel that same freedom by making all the little things you do truly count for Him. Make the small stuff matter big – just as Jesus does. And find true freedom, true love, true joy, and true peace.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14 ESV


Count the Way


How do our hearts grow cold? Let me count the ways…..











Sin, Sin, Sin!

And How do our hearts remain pure, clean, and full of compassion for others?

Let me count THE way….


Being Sick in My Luxurious Little World

This may not apply to all people and situations, but for me today, it certainly does.

I woke up and found that I had finally succumbed to this sinus “sickness” that several of my family members have been battling for the past couple of weeks. It starts out with an extremely sore throat, and ends up sapping all energy out of your body. If I hold true to what my husband and daughter have been experiencing, I am in for a yucky next week to ten days.

Guess what? It’s just purrrrrrfect timing too! I start my new job tomorrow – and although I am still very grateful and extremely excited about it, I don’t relish the thought of being in a learning curve while my head and throat are on fire and distracting me.


Anyway, just for the record (in case you didn’t notice yet) I am a BIG WHINING BABY when I am sick, friends. I mean, I don’t deal with it well at all. I get cranky, I get lazy, I get discouraged, and I certainly fail to reach out to others in love very much.

So today, I will write my blog post as “therapy” for the attitude adjustment that I need in relation to all of this.

See, I am aware of how blessed I am – living here – in a country where even without having insurance at the time, we still have the ability in most cases to take care of ourselves far better than we could if we lived in different circumstances.

Yes, I know it. But I don’t feel it. And I haven’t yet bridged the gap there in relation to feeling sick and yucky today yet knowing I am blessed and should act accordingly – healthy or not. Attitude adjustment time for Annie? Um….yah.

So hopefully, my blogging today will serve as a way to get my little self on the right track in relation to how I am going to act whilst being “sick,” down and out, or whatever this junk is.

Know what else? I think sometimes we act this way in relation to our sin. Sometimes we get cranky when we aren’t in line with God’s will for us in our lives and especially when we realize we have been choosing to be disobedient.

He has already offered to forgive us for everything – we should be rejoicing! But when we screw up (again – sheesh) we momentarily “forget” that we need only to come to Him…be with Him and turn to Him for help in walking the path He has for us and for the salve and healing that only He can provide.

He can heal us – from all physical ailments as well as spiritual or emotional challenges (yes, even our new sins we perpetrate – which we do) and make us healthier than ever. But we must remember to look to Him. We can’t spend time being cranky and focusing on the ailment versus the cure. Sometimes this means rest and other times it means working our way through it. But every time it entails surrender, prayer, and faith.

It’s hard…..and being physically sick today reminds me of that hard. It seems much easier at the time we are down and out to just focus on the negative and grit our teeth and ride it out alone until it’s over. But in a way, our “sickness”…..our imperfections….our times we are going to fail or be less than perfect in our human bodies or natures, attitudes or actions, behaviors, thoughts, feelings…well, until we go home to live with Him forever, they aren’t ever going to be “all the way over.”

Thankfully, what He did for us on the cross – our Lord Jesus Christ – Savior and mighty King – allows us to walk tall regardless of our current bill of health – knowing we are seen as perfect in the Father’s eyes if we have accepted Him as our own Lord and Savior.

Because of HIM, we have this luxury and this gift. Because of Him, in spite of our continuing human imperfections and inadequacies, we are children of God! And because of Him, our eternal health is completely ensured regardless of what ails us right now.

So, here’s how  I need to look at this…this physical sickness and my spiritual sickness today (grumbling, complaining, and thinking mean thoughts). CLEARLY, I sometimes need to get my stuffy head out of the sand and look up to Him. In fact, I need to do that pretty much all the time!










Sick Young Woman Lying in Bed


Unmade Bed




Cough syrup

Permeating Illness….


HIS sacrifice for MY “sickness”…..


Forever Forgiven…..


Forever His Child….


Imperfect, Inadequate, Lost…


Held, Loved, and Healed….


O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. Psalm 30:2

My Savior used a Sharpie

I don’t believe that we should look to our dreams for inspiraton or insight into how to live our lives most of the time. The one exception, is when it really does seem to be something that lines up with scripture and what a person and the Lord have been working through together. If it emphasizes what He already has given us in His complete and finished, authoritative word (the Bible) then I do believe that God still can and sometimes will speak to us through our dreams.

At the very least, He can use them to teach us something as we are seeking Him and a greater closeness with Him by always looking for lessons He wants to teach us.

He can speak to us through that still, small voice through an impression, through another person, a passage in scripture, or through our dreams and our thought life. God is unlimited in how He can reveal Himself to us. But we do need to be careful and check such things out prayerfully and against the Word of the Lord. Far too many of us in our world look to such things as replacements for God and what He has already given to us in His Word.

With that being said, I do want to share about a particular dream I did have at one time – one in which the Lord really made an impression upon me – one that just confirmed it was time to move in a different direction with Him in my life. The dream, really, was just the solidification of what my Savior had already been nudging me towards in my personal relationship with Him. But it was so neat to receive such a clear confirmation from Him in this special way!

About four years ago, my dream life became quite active. I was in a season of despair for several reasons, but was clinging to the Lord for strength, comfort, and guidance. My mom was on the last leg of her cancer journey, spiraling downward health-wise, while moving closer and closer to the Lord every day and one step further away from us here. My brain was in overdrive and when I finally would go to sleep. I was dreaming a lot!

Along with my mom’s battle with cancer, one of my children was going through an extremely difficult period and it was affecting all of us – that child, my other children, my husband, myself – it was heart-wrenching. We truly didn’t know what was going to happen day-to-day, and just prayed and prayed that the Lord would guide us and tell us what we should do. I found that I would pray in my sleep and in my dreams during that time too.

I had health issues I was dealing with myself as well. Chemical and hormonal changes (but we actually didn’t know what was going on at that time), sleeping problems, a busy schedule as a wife and mother of three children working at night, trips to arrange to be able to go out to Kansas to see mom, and all kinds of unknowns on the horizon.

I was stressed – and as much as I tried to turn it over to the Lord, I just couldn’t seem to shake off the weight of it all. Some of that is just part of the growth process that eventually comes with going through grief and trials and suffering – some of it is the failure to let go of things and focus on what’s most important – to truly surrender – and allow the Lord to carry us through, deepen our faith, and give us that peace and joy that transcends even the grief and fears and unknown.

So, back to dreaming. I had been having pretty regular dreams in which I could hear myself screaming out loud – in fact, often, those screams would wake me up and bring me back to reality. Sometimes upon waking, I still felt like my reality was in and of itself a dream. I was walking through times that seemed pretty surreal to me back then. The presence of my Savior is the only thing that really kept one foot on the ground. I actually stand in awe at the fact, now that I look back, that I was even functioning at work, while driving over and over again to Kansas, and in my day-to-day life at all. Because of this fog and haze, I have lost a lot of memory in relation to specific details at that time in my life too.

These scream dreams – they weren’t all bad. I am actually grateful for them. I truly think they were blessings – ways to get out all the angst and fear and sadness that I was carrying around on a daily basis as things continued to “develop” with all the previously mentioned situations. Each new day was filled with so much more “stuff” to assimilate and deal with – decisions to make – new emotions to process – other people in my life and all that they were going through themselves – and how to adjust to them and help them through it all as well.

Sudden changes in plans was a constant part of life.  There was hoop after hoop to jump through only to find that once you were in the air and on your way to reaching ground on the other side, the course you were supposed to be on had been changed mid-stream. How do you continue to jump with confidence in situations like that?

But one day, I had a dream that was so calm, so crystal clear, that I have put off writing about it because I don’t know that words will adequately describe it. Yet for quite some time, I have felt strongly that i need to try, as the Lord is whispering in my ear that I really do need to share this with others.

This dream involves my Savior, a Sharpie, some cardboard boxes, a beach, and a hammock.

Picture a beach with soft and gentle waves coming up and lapping against the sand. Now allow yourself to hear the sound of the ocean…the waves hitting the shore, the gentle sound of the water kissing the land – swishing forward, and then retreating softly….it’s just around time for the sun to start to set.

I can’t believe how relaxed I feel right now. I feel the sun setting but still kissing my skin as i lay here – whoever thought that a hammock could be so comfortable. I squint and look up and am momentarily caught by surprise…I see a small white gazebo is above me, sheltering me. It’s getting darker now that the sun is setting but I still feel warm – there’s plenty of light still – I guess I can stay here a while longer.

“How did I get here?”, I thought.

I close my eyes again and decide to enjoy this quiet and restful moment. I really love the sound of the water…it’s so soothing. I wish we could just live here…it is so nice. What ever in the world possessed me to live in Colorado? I could have gotten my husband to move to a beach back then if I really had pushed him for it.  Actually, I feel kind of guilty thinking about this right now when my mom is so sick and all this other stuff is going on.

“I wonder how I even got here…do I have somewhere else I am supposed to be?”

Then I heard the sound….

Squeeeeeshhhhh.  Squeeeeeshhhh.  Squeeesh.

What is that sound?”

The water broke the sound apart and brought me back to where I was before.

“Must have been in my imagination.”

More time passed by as I rocked gently on the hammock.

Squeeeeshhhh. Squeeeeeshhh. Squeeeesh.

I opened my eyes knowing that I definitely heard it again – it was unmistakable. Someone was definitely behind me near the shore and they were the one making this sound.


I sat up in the hammock and looked over to my left and behind me a little. I saw several cardboard boxes – like the kind that you use when you pack up your belongings because you are moving? Yah,those.

Two, three, four…..

Wow, where did those come from?”, I thought.

Five, six………..

Who brought boxes here? I thought I was alone out here. This is too weird!”

As I continued to scan the beach and follow the squeeshy sound, I saw Him.

I cannot begin to articulate the feeling I had in this moment. All I can say is that my heart stopped, not in fear, but in some feeling of euphoria and peace that I cannot explain. I was SO happy!

His tunic was breezy and flowing behind Him…I wanted to touch it. He was barefoot. So simple….no adornments at all. But just absolutely glorious! He was not intimidating, yet I had never looked upon such beauty. And it seemed to emanate from Him all the way over to me – it felt like being enveloped in a warm, soft hug just by looking at Him.

He looked at me and smiled. He didn’t open His mouth, but He did talk to me with His eyes – kind of like telepathically. He said hello to me. He was so assumptive too – He acted like I fully knew what He was doing there, what I was doing there and what all the boxes were for – like it was just another day.

When I looked at Him questioningly, He told me…..

“You know why we are doing this today, dear one – I know that you know.”

And then he laughed softly.

I looked down at the three boxes that were in front of Him. He had a Sharpie in His hand, and had almost finished writing on the box that was on the top of the other two. He smiled, turned back to the box, and finished writing. Then He turned it to me….

“See? Don’t you remember?”

He was looking at me the way one gazes upon a cute little toddler who is playing dumb…not patronizing at all, but just the way adults feel when little kids are in their own little world and forgetting something they definitely already knew about. I felt loved and adored although I felt kind of confused – like “why don’t I remember?” kind of confused.

It felt as though I awoke out of a dream within the dream at this point. All of a sudden, box after box that was scattered in front of Him along the water line – all of the writing on each of them just popped out for me to read.

Reality hit quite suddenly.

  • Mom’s Cancer
  • Child’s Difficulties
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping Problems
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Old Boyfriends
  • Surrender
  • Self Reliance
  • Weight Problems

The list went on and on. There must have been 100 boxes!

I expressed concern to Him that I was laying on the hammock resting while He was doing all the work. He looked at me and just smiled. He said I didn’t need to do anything – that I was right where He needed me to be so He could get His work done.

“But what will become of them?” I asked, concerned about the stuff He was “packing away.”

“Why are you worried about them, dear one?”

“Uh…I just….I don’t know, really. I just feel uncertain….guilty that we are leaving them  here for some reason.  Who is going to deal with this stuff?”

“Would I put them in the boxes if it was bad to do so?” He said, gently smiling.

“No….I guess not.”

I wasn’t sure why it was still bothering me a bit – the idea of leaving them behind. And I felt badly that I was concerned too. I was concerned about being concerned. Sheesh.

He walked over to me. You see, my friends, He knows me and loves me so well.

He knows that in the face of all of this, something that is disturbing to me is that the boxes – well, the tops of them are still open. I am worried that the contents are going to spill out into the ocean and wash back up on shore and make an even bigger mess than we started out with.

After all the work that He has done, they are just going to spill and make a mess everywhere!

He reached me, and placed the Sharpie by the table next to me. He pulled me up out of the hammock and hugged me. Then He put out his hand in expectation of something. I looked at him with questions in my eyes.

“What am I supposed to do here?” I thought to myself. “I don’t want to let you down.”

He just stretched His hand out further.

And then I knew. He was planning to seal them up all along – He was just waiting for me to do my part.

I looked behind me and on the hammock, right where I had just been sleeping, and there it was. The roll of duct tape.

It was that thing that I had been hiding from Him. It was that one “right” I had reserved to do part of this alone – without Him in the picture. Without Him in control.

He knew it was there. He had known all along. And He showed me compassion even though I had been hiding it.

I picked it up and handed it to Him. He told me to pray while He went back over to the boxes as we would be leaving soon.

Graaaaaappppp. Graaaaaapppppp. Graaaaaapp.

“Father in heaven, thank you for helping me to turn over my pain to you and leave it in these boxes. Thank you for not making them disappear entirely and for knowing that I am not ready to forget about them all just yet. Thank you for helping me to know that you are here to help me – that I won’t be facing any of this alone. And thank you for loving me in spite of the fact that I tried to cut you out of the picture here.”

Graaapapppp. Graaaaappppp. Graaaaaaaap.

“Thank you for taking them off my shoulders and allowing me to lay them down, only to return to them as you see fit and deal with all the contents. They were so heavy.”

Graaaaapppppp. Graaaaapppppp.

“I don’t know where we are going, but I know I get to go with You, and I am so grateful for you, Father. Thank you for the past that is in those boxes because it reminds me of your grace and all that You have done for me. And thank you for allowing me to lay down the ones that contain the trials of the present too….I know they are still there, but at least I can lay them down.”

I looked over and could see that He had heard my prayer. He knew I was speaking to Him.

I felt the soft hand on my shoulder. “Are you ready, dear child that I love?”

“Yes. I am so sorry  that it took me so long. I am sorry for disobeying you.”

“My child, you had a lot of boxes. You are tired.  I’d like to carry you for a while.”

“Thank You.”

I didn’t want for this dream to end. But in essence, it never really did. From that point on, He has shown me time and time again that He will never be placed in a box!

Jesus revealed more of Himself to me through hard experiences and through my disobedient past, through my grief, and my shortcomings…through my trials, my tears, and my pain, than through anything else. And He did so in ways that cannot be compartmentalized. And my pain, my past sins, my regrets that I cannot change, the fear of the unknown, the grief and heartache, they aren’t weighing me down any more.

The contents of those boxes – most of them are things that I have been able, with the power and love of Jesus, to place in the trash now. But some aren’t in the trash just yet. Those, I just needed to stop carrying around with me all the time.

My testimony is in those boxes. My faith grew out of what He did with the contents inside of them. The full realization of all that He’s done for me can be seen through how He moved me away from the box and into a new place that is lighter, more joyful, and full of HIM. It’s a place where I am free. And it’s a place that’s full of HE.

Sometimes when new trials ensue, He still has to remind me to get out the duct tape and hand it over. But He is faithful to do so. And His compassion and love never fail.

I don’t know where all we are going to go in this life as we travel through it, but I do know that we are walking everywhere together, hand in hand with Jesus if we truly turn it all over to Him and follow after Him with all that we have.

Sometimes, He picks me up again and carries me for a while -that’s my favorite part of this life. And when it comes time to return to a box now and then, to do some work there and decide what can be discarded and what should be kept in order to tell our story, I don’t have to worry about the labels on the boxes will have been worn out or even erased.

Because see…. Jesus knows everything! He is perfect. He is perfectly Holy, and He is perfectly accurate.

And He used a Sharpie and a roll of duct tape to show me that.

He meets us where we need to be met without compromising any of His perfection or the truth that He is. He can deal with complexity in the simplest of ways, speaking volumes to us in the entire process. Isn’t Jesus Christ just AWESOME?

Nothing can separate me from Him now. Not the boxes, not the suffering, not the regrets I have, the sins I commit…not even death.

Like I said, I don’t put a whole lot of stock in “just” dreams.

But my God and my Savior? I believe in Him. I hang all my hope upon Him. He can bear my weight -it’s not hard for Him to do so. He bore all the sin of the world – past, present – future – on that cross.

He can speak to us anytime, anywhere. And He doesn’t need a Sharpie – He just used one once for my benefit.

I’m so glad He knows how to meet me right where I am at in ways that speak to me and make sense to me.

And my God, my God? He doesn’t live inside a box. He lives inside of me.

Roughly four  years ago, it was my moving day. A Mighty Mover showed up and took care of it all with grace and ease. All I had to do was give up a roll of duct tape I had hidden away.

And when we were finished – He even carried me away on His shoulders.

Make no mistake about it – He can do the same for YOU.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

There’s Beauty in the Ugly






































Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20


Sometimes Ya Gotta Do It

I’m not this cute…..


And I’m not this cuddly….


But I am this tired….


And “that’s today’s memo.” Heh Heh

~ Annie  🙂

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a
while.” For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have
time to eat.
  Mark 6:31


Smile, because He loves You


See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called  children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us  is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1

New Normal?


Isaiah 41:10…. fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

In the days and months, even years, following the loss of a loved one, there are times where nothing seems to offer us a full sense of comfort.

Did you see what I just said there? I said FULL.

*  Sometimes our words help, sometimes they don’t.
*  Sometimes our prayers help, sometimes they seem disconnected.
*  Sometimes reminiscing about good times or memories helps, sometimes it makes   things worse.
*  Sometimes sharing and reading scripture helps, sometimes the pages are a blur.
*  Sometimes just having a listening ear helps, sometimes we want advice, mutual sharing, or something back.
*  Sometimes being with family and friends helps, other times it’s a distraction or irritant.
*  Sometimes being alone helps, and sometimes it makes us feel lost and more confused.

The list goes on and on, and it changes moment by moment. What “helps” one minute, may actually make one angry the next, more sad or lost-feeling, and an array of roller coaster-like emotions, behaviors, thoughts and feelings becomes the new normal.

The new normal is there is not much predictability at all – then add in the fact that there are multiple people grieving in multiple different ways, and you have a complicated octopus of roller coasters to contend with.

As I contemplate this tonight after realizing it has not even been yet a full week since my dear brother in law, Dave passed away, I realized something so comforting and helpful (to me, at least).

Here it is….

Only God can offer us the “fullness’ of pretty much anything of value in life – and this includes comfort for our weary and grief-stricken souls in times of loss.

*  God offers the fullness of peace…even when our “feelings” don’t seem to match up with that.
*  God offers us the fullness of joy…in the face of even the most tragic of circumstances.
*  God offers us the fullness of love, wisdom, understanding, in the midst of numbness, indecision, or confusion.
*  God offers us the fullness of comfort, care and concern, when we feel uprooted, forgotten, or discarded.

And most of all…God offers us the fullness of Himself – (as much as we can handle) if we continue to seek after Him as our main source of comfort, love, joy, peace, or anything else for that matter.

Isn’t that what our “regular normal” should be all the time anyway? Isn’t that how God wants it to be, regardless of our sense of things in life? Sometimes I truly believe that it is only in the times that seem “abnormal” here in this life, that we actually come closer to the “normal” that He has in store for us when we will one day be able to be in His presence in the fullest of ways. Our brains or hearts, bodies, or minds can’t handle that right now, which is why He gives us seasons of respite, if you ask me. But these sufferings we endure do serve, if we allow them to, to remind us that God truly can draw us closer to Him through them.

Part of the way that the Lord ministers to us in times of grief is definitely made up of the things I noted in the first list in this post. Other people, family, friends, pastoral counsel, time in the scriptures, prayer, support, working through feelings, sorting things out, remembering the good, the not-so-good, and learning from it all or celebrating it ~ all of these things are ways the Lord can speak to us and console us.

But no matter what we do, using our time of grief to become closer to the Lord is most important. Finding ways to glorify Him through it all is not as hard as we make it out to be. No matter what situation we are in, or what emotions we may be experiencing, we can choose to glorify God. And He can heal us.

We don’t have to be perfect about it. We don’t have to even do so without making mistakes. But if our heart is truly in it all to come through the grief, not only for ourselves, but to enrich others lives, and ultimately,  to give all the glory to God, I truly believe He helps us do so and heals us in ways that would not happen otherwise.

Just like with anything else in life that you consider to be a trial, tragedy, bad situation or lame circumstance to contend with, if you are struggling for comfort today, remember to seek the face of Jesus. He is the One, friends – He is where our focus needs to be, especially in times of grief or heartache. If we focus upon ourselves in these times, rather than on crying out to the Lord and seeking Him, we are in for a worse struggle than we already face.

We are to draw near to Him and trust in His timing, but have faith that He will offer us the comfort (and even the growth) that is needed at just the right time. He does that, you know. In one area He may take what we perceive to be a very long time to help us come through grief and to what we consider to be the “other side” of it. But in another area, He can work amazingly fast. The truth of the matter is, whichever way He chooses to heal us, we can be comforted by Him every step of that way during the process. We just have to want that and seek that.

Why settle for less? I don’t see the Lord asking us to do so, as long as what we are seeking is of Him and in line with His will for us.

Just when we think we can’t stretch any further, the Lord reminds us that it is not for us to stretch all the way – it is going to be HIM and HIS power that heals us. We only need to stretch out our hands, and ask Him to meet us. His arms are longer than ours anyway.

Remember this today, my friends, if or when you are struggling. If and when you are weary. And if and when you are wondering “why, God…why?”

HE is our “always” normal.

Psalms 77:2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.


Graduation Day for my Jessie J


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Today my first baby graduates from high school.

She wants to go on to college to become an elementary teacher.

She has known this since she was a toddler – that desire to teach – to impact lives.

She’s had her plans, made them, and is following after them. Dreams and plans.

But she follows after Jesus even more. She knows that plans can change unexpectedly too. She’s willing to bend if so needed. She’s willing to dream big dreams, but place her hope and trust in our sovereign Lord.

I am so proud of my beautiful Jessica Jane. I am so proud of her for so very many things. But if I had to choose what I am most proud of – most grateful for – most blessed by – aside from her salvation and love of Jesus, it would be her commitment to walk in His ways. To walk in His truth. To walk in His light.

And to share that with others.

Today my baby will “walk” the graduation walk. She will walk into the next phase of her life and educational endeavors. This walk is not a symbol of her stepping away from her family, or stepping out alone into this world. Because one thing is not changing on graduation day for Jessie J….and it’s the one thing that is most important – that’s her walk with Jesus and her desire to walk in His truth.

I celebrate my beautiful daughter today and her accomplishments. I celebrate who she is. But I am so filled with joy that she wants to follow after the way, the truth, and the life that Jesus is no matter where she is in life.

Congratulatons Jessie J! On your graduation from high school, and for having your feet firmly planted in the truth of our unchanging God no matter where you’ve been, where you’re at, or where you may go.

We love you.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth3 John 1:4



Chipped Ice



Feeling cold…


Parts feel old…


Murky, dark…


Yet also stark…

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Anger’s there…

Now enraged…


Parts encaged…

There is fog…

He is hidden…

Easy access?


Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Lost a bit…

Feeling forgotten…

Pieces neglected…

Gone Rotten…

Things ignored…

Become malnourished…

Then parched…

Needs Replenished…

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23


Getting confused…


Truth abused…

Faking love…

False Security…

Looking inward…

Is it Him or Me?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Offer up…

Sacrifice of Self…

Being willing…

Hammer from Shelf…

Hit it Hard…

Chip Away…

Time to Resist…

Enemy Slay…

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

Melting Now…

Little reflections…

Pool of Water…

All Directions…

Softened Up…


Now the Warmth…

In the midst of humility…

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37


A Forever Thing


My brother-in-law passed away yesterday (Thursday) morning. His name was David. I called him Dave.

I couldn’t write about it last night yet – well, no, that’s actually untrue. I was thinking of him when I wrote that last blog post. But I couldn’t write about it in quite the way I am tonight.

I won’t be writing an obituary tonight for Dave. I won’t be writing about all of his awesome character traits and funny stories, great nicknames, and accomplishments.
I will say he had one of the most tender hearts for people that I ever knew. But I can’t do him justice in that way just yet – he was just too cool – trust me.

But, the biggest reason why I can’t do that is that I experienced something with God and with Dave that transcends all of that – thus, the rest just pales in comparison right about now. That’s because Dave died in my arms yesterday morning. Yes, me…his sister-in-law.

I believe the reason for this is that as we prayed to the Lord for David to fully surrender to Jesus Christ if he hadn’t done so already, it was time for there to be no barriers in the way of that surrender. When one is crumpled on the floor taking their last breaths and facing eternity, being concerned about how a family member – a brother, a mother, a father, might feel or be traumatized can get in the way of surrender. This is just what I personally believe may have been a reason that the Lord chose me to be the one to be with Dave.

God didn’t want Dave to be alone through this, and He made it clear that He didn’t want anything to stand in the way of the chance for full surrender – not worrying about how frail or weak he might look to his loved ones, not being concerned with scarring them for life, or not being embarrassed about being in that state in front of others – just being focused upon letting all of this life go and making the choice as to where he would start his new life (the forever one).

That speaks volumes as to how merciful and compassionate our Lord is regarding one of his own who had became lost during part of his life on this earth.

In the last three years (roughly) I have been in the presence of four people as they are beginning to leave their earthly body and earth-bound life and cross over into eternity. The first was my mother. Then, three months later, my grandpa (her dad). Then, a month after that, a girl that I worked with. And yesterday, my dear Dave.

I can’t write about it all right now, but I do want to share something with you about this today. Something very strange – very aweseome – very exhausting – and most of all, VERY difficult to explain in words happens when you are in this “state” with another person who is leaving this earth. It is not made up or imagined. It is not mere adrenaline or shock coursing through your veins. It is not trauma alone that makes you feel you aren’t “all there” during, and then after for a while. All of those factors are present, for sure. But there’s something more happening than all that – and it’s impossible not to see it, feel it, KNOW it when it is there.

It truly is something not fully of this realm that you experience. And it’s also an honor and a privilege to be invited into an experience like this by God and for that person.

For me, this doesn’t just go away once the person or loved one passes away. It sticks around with you for a while after. This sticking thing varies in how long it lasts from situation to situation or person to person. With regard to my mother, my brothers and her sisters were present as well. But I don’t think it unstuck (for me) for several days. Really, it might have been weeks.

Let me try to explain this in the only way I know how…

It’s as though you are still firmly planted in this world, yet one toe of your other leg is just dipped into another realm with that person as they are passing out of this world and into the next. As soon as they leave entirely, you think you have both feet fully back, but in reality, something is still sticking with you there as you begin to walk fully in this realm again (now that they have left).

Here’s one other way to explain it…..

Have you ever been half asleep and half awake and in your half asleep part you are dreaming? But your half awake part is aware that your half asleep part is dreaming and it’s talking to your dreaming side and saying “you know this is just a dream, right?” and the dreaming side wants to continue the dream and is negotiating with the awake side so it can do so? Yah. It’s like that too.

Then there are the layers of feeling God’s presence in the “normal” way that you feel it, and sensing and experiencing His presence in this different way. You know He is there in a new or different way than you normally feel it, but He is being seen by the person passing away in ways that you cannot see Him. You just know He’s there. You can feel it with every fiber of your being.

For me, I get tingles throughout my body while it’s happening too. Not a tingle here or there, but a “filled with tingles” thing that sticks around – VERY intensely the whole time it’s happening, and then residual for a day or day and a half after.

Something different happened this time though. I was in Wal-mart on Wednesday and thinking about Dave. This was the day before he passed away, friends. I was walking into the store and said a prayer for him – “God, I am concerned about Dave as he hurt himself pretty badly last night – I am concerned he may not make it through surgery on Friday.” And as I was saying in my mind/prayer the word surgery, I got through the first syllable and the tingles came.

I have had these tingles before, especially over the last year. They happen in church a lot, and sometimes when I am praying. This is fairly new for me though. The only other times I had them before was when mom, gramps, and that young lady died. But now they happen randomly.

But I kid you not: When this happened in Walmart as I was praying for Dave, I temporarily got a bit freaked out. I really and truly did pause and wonder (after finishing that prayer) “God, is he going to pass away soon?”

My husband (his beloved brother) and the rest of Dave’s family did indeed know that he had serious health problems, and I am sure at several points in time have wondered how much longer he might have left in this world. But you still think it’s going to be longer than it really is, you know?

But at Walmart, I really was freaked out. I wondered if this was God’s way of telling me that it wasn’t just a gut feeling – that it was true Dave would not be lasting much longer in this earthly body. The tingles came, and I conversed more with God and just resolved to place it in His hands. I figured that the tingles may be the Spirit of the Lord just filling me with love for Dave and letting me know He is hearing my prayer, or it could possibly be that He was filling me with His Spirit for some other unknown reason. I didn’t know, but I knew it was God.

The next day, through a series of unplanned events, (not planned out by me) it was me who was chosen or needed to go by Dave’s apartment to get some Tylenol to him – something not ordinarily that would have been me.

I have far greater concerns and things I am focusing upon with Dave’s passing away right now than myself or my own story about how I was involved in it. There are a lot of different blog posts that I could have written tonight. But I felt that God wanted me to share this with you today for a reason. I am more concerned with Dave’s brothers and parents, his other family members, the grief they are experiencing right now than anything else. But I believe the Lord wants me to share this today with you my friends.

The pull into that realm (the one that makes up eternity – the One where God reveals Himself in a different way than what we can experience here on this earth) is POWERFUL beyond belief. There is no way whatsoever I could explain away this “pull” – this “sticky” this surreal-seeming thing by mere shock, adrenaline, or other stuff. And I tell you it’s real. I tell you God is real. And you don’t want to miss this.

Jesus Christ is waiting for every one of us to accept Him as our Savior so that we can enter into God’s presence – so He can fill us with His Holy Spirit (our helper) now, while we still reside here, but usher us into the fullness of His presence when we move into eternity.

Please, if you haven’t accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, would you do so today? It can happen in the flash of an eye, moving out of this life into eternity. Anything can happen any time. Any second.

And if you already follow after Christ with all that you are, but you know someone who hasn’t made that important heart decision – consider the fact that they will likely be grateful that you chose to share Jesus with them – if not now – when they are taking their last breath.

We need to be bold for Christ now, dear friends. We need to share His grace and mercy and love with others. Time is short. So is this life.

But eternity is a forever kind of thing. And so is our Mighty God.

1 Corinthians 2:7-9 But we  impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for  our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they  would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,”What no eye  has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared  for those who love him”


He “Has” a Lot

lost sheep 1[1]

We talk a lot about how we need to draw near to the Lord – and this is true.

But sometimes we forget about the fact that our Mighty Savior will go to great lengths to grab us back unto Himself if we have gone astray.

Ownership is to the extreme when it comes to being a child of God’s.

Our Redeemer also offers comfort to those of us in the herd who never may get to know for sure (until we get to heaven) just what happened to that one who got lost. Recapturing the lost one is something that usually happens between that wandering soul and Jesus alone, while the rest of the herd stays together.

In other words, it’s between that one and God.

But I believe this is why the Lord makes it so clear in the scriptures to the rest of the herd how extremely important that even one, single, solitary lost one actually is to Him.

He takes it quite seriously, dear friends.

In light of this, and some circumstances that have occurred in my family today, the Lord has encouraged me with these two sections of scripture. I wish to share them with you.

If you have lost a loved one, either because they are going down a path you aren’t certain about, they have removed themselves from your life or communication with you and your family, or if they have passed away, please know that God is Big, God is Mighty, and God is always at work to bring about His will in all circumstances. We must do all that we can if the Lord puts it on our hearts to seek after them, but also trust in HIM that it is HE who will do the greatest and mightiest work in looking after His sheep out of all.

One thing we can know for certain: He wants to give us every reason to come to Him. And if at any time in our lives we decided to be one of His and we get lost, He will come after us with all He has!

Guess what?

He “has” a lot. And His reach cannot even begin to be fathomed with the mere human mind or heart.

This we do know.

“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (1 Cor 4:5).

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:3-7


Tuff Enuf

Have a problem you think is bigger than you can handle? How about something you think is even too big for God to take care of for you?

If you think differently, but find yourself enduring something right now where you are:

Filled with Doubt
Wondering if it’s too far gone
Am I too late?
Too early?
Am I not worthy?
Am I impeding God’s work?
What do I need to do first before ____?
I’m too far gone – I am beyond help

Take a step back. Really look at it full-on square in the face.

Look to Jesus and look to the truth. Look past these deceptive lies and look to the truth.

When we do these things, say these things to ourselves, or allow the enemy to get into our minds and hearts – especially when we have been sinning, we need to embrace the truth head on – and that is the fact that Jesus Christ came to save us – all of us – even while we were/are still sinners!

There comes a point where we have to put these lies and worries down at the feet of Jesus (and yes, sometimes that happens before we have been able to get completely out from under our particular sins and imperfections) and then He can really get  to work on us.

Get this: Next, we need to NOT. PICK. IT. BACK. UP.

Did you hear that?

Say it out loud at least once – right here, right now.

Lay the lies down. Do not pick them back up. Let Jesus then work on our sin and imperfections and grow us from there.

What Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, and through His resurrection SAVES us.

If we “wait” until we think we are sinless, spotless, perfect, before we accept Him as our Savior and Lord, well – why need a Savior at all?

Doing a complete turn from our sin and looking to Jesus instead does not mean we have overcome all sin in our lives. It simply means we are ready to turn it all over to Him and work with HIM and with HIS power to grow the way He wants us to and walk in His will as we follow after Him. Naturally, He will begin to work in us and help us to conquer the existing sin we contend with day to day from there.

It is never too late. Never, ever, EVER!

He is bigger than that.

He is tougher than that.

Yes, dear friends, He is tougher than nails.

He is also tougher than anything else you can go through, experience, be “deceived” by, suffer, be confused about, screw up, the list is infinite.


Lay it down and don’t pick it back up.

“Taking up our cross” can hold a lot of meaning for us too and can be applied to many situations to strengthen us and help us follow after Jesus with zeal and sincerity. But for me, the greatest act of “taking up my cross” and following after Jesus Christ, is….well, in a way….it’s putting it all down. Daily.

Sometimes letting go seems like the heaviest burden to bear (or not bear?). But the fact is, that surrender is hard. When one gets used to carrying all that weight around, it feels strange to put it down at the feet of Jesus.  But we acclimate beautifully if we just allow Him to change us in this way.

He is tougher. And He will fill us more and more with Himself (and that tough stuff, amongst a multitude of other amazing and awesome things) to help us carry out whatever He has for us in this life.

But first, we have to lay it down.

And when we find ourselves trying to be “all tough” on our own and pick it back up again, and again, and again? (Which we will)…..

Remember just who the tough One really is.

Remember that He’s got you covered.

He did enough to prove that. All we have to do is remember, remain, and rejoice.

“No one is like you Lord. You are great, and Your name is mighty in power.” Jeremiah 10:6


Have a Cuppa – (or two million billion trillion)

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace
because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the
power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

God, help me be more awesome, K?

boy-s-prayer-11099939[1]I want to pray like a kid.

Like a simple, pure and awesome child of God.

What do you suppose this little man is praying?

Maybe something like this?

“God, thank you for my cool pajamas and for the ice cream we had today. I am really glad you are making it be summer time soon because I was getting tired of staying inside all the time. It gets kinda boring. Tommy is being really mean, so you might want to talk to him. Thanks for everybody else. Thanks for making cool stuff in the world for us to have fun with and enjoy. Can you please fix those bad people soon? Also, I just want you to help me be more awesome tomorrow. Today I had some awesome stuff, but I think I could do better. Amen.”

This was inspired by my son who is almost sixteen, but has the heart of a child before the Lord – something we could all aspire to, if you ask me!

A couple of months ago, I expressed concern (while driving him to school in the car) about an interview I was a bit nervous about. I asked him to pray for me. He closed his eyes really tight, and said “God, help make my mom be more awesome today.”

Don’t be afraid to ask God to help your awesome-lover-and-follow-after-Jesus factor today and every day! As long as we ask for it because we want to glorify Him in all that we do, why hold back? It never hurts to ask. In fact, it just may be hurting us not to.

He asks us to come to him like little children. In fact, He commands it of us.

He wants that kind of relationship with us. This transparency, dependency, and faith and trust are what truly indicate we “believe” in Him. It goes way beyond an intellectual decision – to believe in Christ. It’s a decision of the heart. It’s what makes the difference between believing He exists, and truly knowing Him.

Now that’s awesome!

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little
children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the
kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14


Happy Heaven Day, Mama


What do I look forward to the most when it’s time to go to heaven?

Meeting Jesus and seeing His glorious face…
Basking in His presence and love forever…
Getting to live with Him for all eternity and know my family is there too…
And being reuinted with my mama.

My mama will always be my mama, even though she is no longer here physically. But more importantly, she is HIS child. Sometimes I forget to remember that. Sometimes I just miss her so badly that I feel like the little girl in the image above.

But then I remember to stop forgetting – I remember that I’m so glad that I can still celebrate the times I had with my mama while she was here with me on this earth.

I remember – I can do this in my mind – I can do this in my memories – I can do it with my heart, my soul, and every time I see her in the faces, gestures, and behaviors, laughter, and love shown through my own children…her grand babies.

And then I’m astounded, elated, comforted, and inspired that I can remember that every day now is Happy Heaven Day for my mama.

She’s my mama….and yes, I miss her…

And she’s HIS child.

He is the Father to whom both of us belongs.

One is with Him in heaven right now, while the other is living day by day drawing as near to Him as she possibly can until it’s time to join them.

I hope He’s giving her a flower for me today…

I hope He’s showering her in flowers.

I hope they dance and laugh and sing together every single day.

And save a spot for me when it’s my turn to come and join the party.

I know the party there is far more awesome than what I could have for her here.

Happy Heaven Day Mama….

Happy Heaven Day.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a  time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time  to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time  to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance Ecclesiastes 3:1-4