Who Do You See?

Cindy & Chris wedding

We are our own worst critics.  Condemning, shaming, comparing.

More often than not, we see where we fall short and not in the spiritual sense but rather in comparison to those around us.

  • Fit in a smaller size.
  • Make every meal from scratch.
  • Take up a hobby or four.
  • Get more involved in activities.
  • Earn more.
  • Buy more.

So why then do we preach His love but choose not to believe it?

Isaiah 62:5 states “…as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

He delights in us.  Takes pleasure in us.

We’ve heard it a thousand times–it’s not our accomplishments or what we have.  But what does it take for that to sink in?

Be still.  Rejoice.  The Creator sees you.

And is pleased.

Photo by Jeremy Yates


Cindy & Chris wedding

Life is heavy.  It’s also fleeting.

How quickly we can forget the things that once brought us joy.  It seems to be second nature to find something wrong with someone or something around you.

Rather than things appreciated, we lambaste our spouse with a laundry list of to-dos or complaints as they walk in the door.

Charlie Chaplin reminds us that “a day without laughter is a day wasted.”

Ironically, as I write this, I’m scowling at my four drenched dogs traipsing through the kitchen while my son throws things from his high chair.  I drop a toy by accident and he starts laughing.

What would life look like if we, as adults, viewed life through a child’s eyes?  We’d stress less, laugh more.

What is one thing that makes you laugh today?   I tried something new.  Playing the harmonica.  A good laugh for all.

Photo by Jeremy Yates

Fire Came Down

Cindy & Chris wedding

I’m convicted by how little I really know about or experience prayer.  The mountain of books on my nightstand on this topic shame me each day.  Yet as I start my day, I realize there’s no amount of reading on prayer than can substitute for it.

I sit down but stumble on what to say.  Distracted by my own thoughts, the baby talking, dogs barking, birds chirping, phone beeping…anything but what I’m trying to focus on.  Within minutes, I’m through.  Discouraged.

As I read 2 Chronicles 7, I realize there is so much more to be experienced.

1When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.”

There is power when we pray.  Yet we make excuses, self-blame and assume we must be deemed worthy or perfect before we can pray or see results of prayer.  His glory is here.  His glory is now.  His love endures forever.  He commanded Solomon later in the chapter:

“14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Will I turn from what I want?  My selfish ways?  If I want His glory, will I choose humility?  Will I tune out distractions to seek His face?  Will I choose to believe I will hear Him?

He has forgiven my sin.  He has healed me.  His love endures forever.


Photo by Jeremy Yates

He Will Not Return To Me




His infant son became deathly ill.  He wailed in despair, refused to eat and laid on the floor in his grief-torn clothes.  Friends drew near only to have their comfort rejected.  A week later, his son was gone.  Fearful he would break, or worse, his friends delayed delivering the news.

But when he did discover the unbearable truth, , he showered, ate and worshiped.  Wait, what?

King David’s response to this unthinkable loss was While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 11:22-23)

The grief doesn’t go away.  Walking through it is the most painful thing I’ve experienced thus far.  There is nothing to be said that can make it hurt less.

But as David recognized his own finiteness, I am reminded of my own as I read 1 Corinthians 15:54-57:  “Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?”  For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.  But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The sting is quite real.  And penetrating.  And at times, debilitating.  And I don’t want it.  I don’t want death, I don’t want to walk through it.  But it does come.  And there is no victory in it without our Lord Jesus Christ.



Lifted Up


It’s amazing how you can read Scripture multiple times and it rings true in a different way with each read.

In Exodus 17, we read of the Israelites battle against the Amalekites.

Moses said to Joshua,“Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”  10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 

Moses knew his responsibility.  And he did it with hands held high.

I’ve read this story several times.  But convicted by my lack of prayer, I wonder, why do I not practice this?  Several excuses run through my head.  Ah, that was then.  It’s just a matter of the heart.  That’s embarrassing, even in private.

Then I look at my son.  His earnestness.  No words, just hands lifted high.  A trust that he will be lifted up, embraced, comforted.

When I practiced this, I was overcome.  Humbled.  Now lifted up.


Skip the Instructions


There is no manual that comes with parenting.  That said, my son, I will fail you.  I came into parenting with preconceived notions, as I do in many situations, and I realize I don’t have a clue.  But I do know I must learn to study you.

What I’ve learned so far:

  • Play in puddles.
  • Jump on the trampoline daily.
  • Love dogs.
  • Enjoy books.
  • Share a common interest.
  • Explore everything.
  • Have no fear.
  • Experiment doing things yourself.
  • Voice your opinion.
  • Slow down and swing twice a day.
  • Laugh so hard until you don’t remember why you started.

Photo by Betsy Markwald   www.betsymarkwaldphotography.com

Dear Son


I never imagined how much you would fill my heart with joy.

Your curiosity, laughter, compassion and smile is contagious.  You must be where the people are and you force a belly laugh when you hear us laughing because you want to join in.  You make friends wherever you go.  As we pass strangers, you hear, “Ah, que bello!  Los ojos!”  You never slow down, not wanting to miss a thing.  You are fearless as you pull the dogs tails or try to mount them like horses.

You know what you want.  Even if that means taking the butter right off the bread to eat it directly.  Or picking out your daily clothing and shoes, including your pajamas.  You never stop chatting, even as you go to sleep.

My dear son, in just a matter of months, you have made me a better person.  I am challenged to grow in my compassion, patience, authenticity and communication.  You are teaching me to slow down and see the flowers, insects, animals around me.  You are teaching me to pray as you reach out for my hand and give an enthusiastic “Amen” every time.  You are teaching me to love, to embrace, to want what is best for someone other than myself.

Thank you, my precious boy.

Love, Mama

Photo by Betsy Markwald



Webster defines fraud as “an act of deceiving or misrepresenting” or “a person who is not what he or she pretends to be.”

I came across this term twice in one day by two different authors–Sheryl Sandberg and Brene Brown.  I never really gave the term a second thought until now.

When I speak in Spanish, people assume I’m fluent.  Fraud.

When I write each day and hit “Publish,” what do I hear?  Fraud.

When I talk with a friend who is struggling in marriage…Fraud.

When I brainstorm creative ideas and how to improve the world around me…Fraud.

When I voice my opinion…Fraud.

When I consider using my talent in a new way…Fraud.

When I discipline my son…Fraud.

How do we battle the onslaught of this particular lie?  Remember who you are.  So much of our energy is spent trying to prove something or worrying what others will think.  Remember where the lie comes from so you can fight it with truth.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”    John 10:10 (AMP)

My Next Fix

next fix

I’m a “next thing” junkie.  Always looking forward to the next trip, the next activity, the next social event, the next fix.  When I don’t have it, well, I’m bored.

When I moved to a new country, sure, that was one long “next thing.”  But the high wore off when I realized how limited I was without language, work, friends or family.  I was frustrated every time I wanted to do something and couldn’t communicate my desire or find where I wanted to go.  So I found myself alone and bored a lot.

Oswald Chambers says “A true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening.”

This season has been teaching me just that.  I have to work at cutting myself off from “the next thing.”  I am learning to stop hunting the extraordinary and stop fighting the ordinary.

So yes, my days may be spent on hold with customer service or hours waiting at the vet.  Definitely nothing extraordinary.  But I’m seeing what’s in front of me as I begin to recover.  There are people around me who are in the ordinary, and alone too.

Who are we in the ordinary moments?

This Is The Day


Many mornings throughout my childhood, I was awakened to blinding sunlight as my mom sang “This is the Day”.  In response, I would groan, hide under the covers and wonder where she got that annoying joy from each morning.

Now, as an adult and a mom, I realize it’s a choice.  More importantly, it’s a discipline.  In my experience, it’s much easier to vent in search for sympathy rather than to think about my words or attitude.

King David in Psalm 34 declares:

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

We see David practice this discipline throughout his writings in Psalms.  What would it look like if praise was always on our lips?

He goes on to to invite the afflicted to join him.  What?  I’d like to think I am one to practice praise and thanksgiving.  In reality, I’m more prone to do so when or if things are going well, rather than in the midst of affliction.

When I complain, I’m inviting others into my misery.  I’m rarely considering how I can invite them to praise.

Author, Greg Ogden, states, “If we see praise only as giving God compliments, then we miss the everyday nature of praise.  Enjoyment spontaneously overflows in praise.  We go to an enjoyable movie and speak its praises.  When my wife and I take a Sunday-afternoon drive on a spectacular day, we keep saying to each other, ‘Look at that.’ Praise not only expresses our joy, it completes it.”

As for me and my house, we will praise the Lord.  May we be complete in Him.