Present Perfect Chapter 4

September 5, 2017

I don’t know about you, but last week was a blur. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked at practicing the presence of God moment by moment. I’m not beating myself up because those moments are gone. The moment I am in right now is the one I’m enjoying and being reminded of the great love of God and His kindness to me! I hope you will do the same!

Chapter 4 is entitled Single-Mindedness. In it Boyd explains our predicament in a way that is very helpful. When we are born, and our brain is developing, everything we are exposed to is building our awareness of and influences our interpretation of our world. Our parents, our culture, the media, our friends, our varied experiences play a part in the programming of our brains. Boyd writes, “Unless you’ve taken intentional steps to change, the way you presently experience yourself and the world around you was mostly chosen for you, not by you.” Most likely this programming didn’t include the awareness of God and His love being present moment by moment. This brain function void of God is called the flesh mindset. It is what keeps us from enjoying the life that is truly Life that God intends for us.

The thing is, we aren’t even aware of this! Our brain runs on auto-pilot on the software which was programmed into it unbeknownst to us!  Boyd says, “To the extent that the way we experience ourselves and the world is determined by our flesh – mind-set, we live as semiconscious slaves to whomever or whatever programmed us.” Oh wow!!! Read that again. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live that way!

Now, when we become followers of Christ we are forgiven of our sins and are given a new nature instead of our former sinful nature. We are “in principle set free to enjoy God’s abundant Life.” The thing is, we have to do something about that programmed flesh – mind-set. It just doesn’t disappear into thin air. “Our brain continues to operate with the same autopilot programs it inherited before we surrendered.” That is the challenge of the Christian life. Not living from the flesh mindset but living by the new mindset of Christ which we have access to in God’s Word and through the Spirit of Christ who now lives in us! God will never force us to think a certain way. We choose to follow Him moment by moment which is why this practice is so vital to our lives!

Boyd then talks about double-mindedness which is knowing what we should do, how we should live, but doing and living otherwise. “As we noted in chapter 2, what we consciously believe has little impact on the operation of our flesh mind . . . Once activated, our automatic programming bypasses our conscious awareness – including all the things we consciously believe. This is why acquiring information in and of itself isn’t able to bring about lasting transformation. The truest and most insightful information in the world won’t change us so long as our moment-by-moment experience of our self and interaction with the world is dictated by our programmed flesh-mind. We’ll simply become a slightly more informed slave to whomever or whatever programmed us.”

Boyd explains that this is why:                                                                                                         ~we can know we’re loved by God yet feel unloved                                                                   ~we can be forgiven of being greedy but still spend too much money on ourselves     ~people can know adultery is wrong but find themselves cheating on their spouse

Boyd doesn’t say this, but this is why I believe that Christians have the reputation of being hypocrites. We are loved and forgiven by God and we know the truth, but we are still living by the preprogrammed flesh mindset. We haven’t reprogrammed our brains and this is done moment by moment day after day for the rest of our lives.

Boyd says, “No amount of resolutions, sermons, Bible studies, self-help books, or conferences will rectify this situation if they just provide us with more information. There is only one thing to be done, as James says, and that is to submit ourselves to God – not just intellectually, theoretically, or abstractly, but truly. Which means, submitting ourselves in the now – for the only actual life we have to submit is the one we have this moment.”

The answer to double-mindedness is to become single-minded! The way we do that is to live our life “against the backdrop of God’s ever-present love, moment-by-moment . . . .”

We can do this! If you can chew gum and walk, you can do this! If you can talk on the phone while you wash dishes, you can do this! If you can listen to the news while fixing dinner, you can do this! It’s not that we stop what we’re doing, but that we’re mindful of the presence of Christ in all we do!

Boyd gives three ways to practice this. One is committing each task we do to God. It’s one of the most reliable ways to “stay awake to God’s presence and ensure our thoughts remain captive to Christ. . . . As you engage in any task, commit to doing it for God. It helps to vocalize your thoughts and intentions. As you carry out your task, you might say things like, ‘I offer this task up to you Lord’ or ‘This present moment is all that matters, and I offer it up to you.”

Another exercise is to think in terms of “We”.  I think most of us talk to ourselves in one way or another. This practice transforms that behavior. Boyd quotes Frank Laubach, “Instead of talking to yourself, form the habit of talking to Christ . . . . Make all thought a conversation with the Lord.” Even when reading a book, “keep a running conversation with Him about the pages you are reading.”

Boyd says, “No aspect of our flesh – mind-set is more deeply embedded in our consciousness than our proclivity to be self-absorbed. Our fallen ‘I’ is at the center of the universe. Cultivating the habit of thinking as a conversation with God rather than merely talking to ourselves is thus challenging to say the least. Ask God to help you think of creative reminders. For example, before reading a book you might insert little sticky notes throughout the book that say things like, ‘Remember, Jesus longs to read this book with you.’ With persistence, you’ll find that over time thinking in terms of ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ gradually becomes more natural, which indicates that your very identity is being shaped in relation to God rather than merely in relation to yourself.”

I can’t wait to try these this week!

Once again, I’ll close this post with Boyd’s prayer:

“Ever-present and ever-loving God, we confess that we have often been conformed to the pattern of this world instead of being conformed to the image of your Son. Free us to be wholly yours in this moment and in every moment.”






Present Perfect – Chasing the Sun

August 29, 2017

This is the real chapter 3. Somehow I messed that up last post. Sorry about that!

Boyd starts this chapter with the lyrics to Pink Floyd’s song, “Time”. The gist of it is the problem common to man, time flying by and what have we done when time is gone? It’s a very sobering song.

In the culture we live in, worshipping youth, and beauty, the laws of nature still have the final say, age and gravity! Boyd points out that we are in a “perpetual, relentless process of decay.” I know that sounds depressing, but it doesn’t have to be!

The world we live in is not the world for which we were created. It is not the world we are destined for either. But we live in the ‘meantime’ and how do we deal with the clash of this stay young forever culture with the feeling that we’re running out of time? Botox and exercise and diets don’t help, rather they perpetuate the problem – taking our gaze from God and focusing too much on our situation.

We live with the fear “not just that we’re going to die. The fear is that we’ll never really live.”

What this chapter is about is the truth that “freedom from fear and dread is one decision away, and it can be made in this moment. In fact it can only be made in this moment.” Freedom is in one single decision!

Boyd says it is vital to remind yourself of some truths:                                                                          ~right now is all you have, so savor this moment without thinking forward anxiously or looking back regretting (or longingly)                                                                                           ~right now you are surrounded, encased by God’s perfect, unconditional love                                  ~you cannot be more loved, more valuable, more significant than you are right now        ~it’s not because of anything you’ve done (which takes the pressure off of having to keep it up) but because of the astounding, lavish love of God.                                                    ~”this perfect love never began, never ends, is never threatened, and never wavers.”

“As you breathe your next breath, let it represent your decision to breathe in God’s loving presence and all these truths associated with it.”

Colossians 3:1-3  says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” 

This doesn’t mean that we don’t live in the ‘real world’ (except, ironically, that this world we live in is so NOT REAL in the eternal and spiritual sense, but I digress.)  When we set our hearts (our minds, thoughts, attentions and energy) on things above, our whole perspective of the here and now changes.  Our value and meaning don’t depend on our accomplishments or appearance. “The bottom line is that we were meant to live life as a celebration of a fullness of Life we get from God rather than as a desperate attempt to get fullness of Life on our own.” It’s where our identity is, hidden with Christ in God. So we can let go of clinging to the world, or chasing the sun as Pink Floyd put it, as a source of life, because that’s just an illusion.

To help us practice letting go and stop chasing the sun, Boyd gives a couple exercises to practice. One that I like a lot he has borrowed from Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline. You can do this anywhere at any time.

“Foster teaches that you should begin by holding your palms downward on your lap as ‘a symbolic indication of your desire to turn over any concerns you may have over to God.’ Call to mind everything that is weighing on your heart and mind and give it to God. Let your downward facing palms represent letting cares and concerns fall from your grasp into the hands of the sovereign God of love who holds you in existence, moment-by-moment. Notice your breathing and envision every exhaled breath as a further release of weight in your life. . . .When you’ve finished this part of the prayer, Foster encourages you to turn your hands over in your lap so that your palms are facing upward ‘as a symbol of your desire to receive from the Lord.’ Remain in this posture with a receptive attitude as you wait for what the Lord would like to give you. With every breath you take in, receive the fullness of Life that comes from God. Breathe in his forgiveness, direction, peace, healing, or whatever else he has for you.”

I’ve found myself doing this several times this week when I felt overwhelmed and when my thoughts were racing. I took a moment to stop what I was doing and focus on God, reminding myself of His loving Presence and turning my palms down and breathing out then turning my palms up and breathing in thanking God for His love and peace and presence. Whether I felt anything or sensed any direction wasn’t even the point. Sometime I will I’m sure, but the point for me is that I redirect my attention to the One Who deserves it. I sense His peace. I sense His pleasure that I’m refocusing on Him and not what troubles me. As Brother Lawrence wrote: “I am in a calm so great that I fear nothing. What could I fear? I am with Him.”

Another exercise Boyd offers is using your imagination to place yourself in the middle of a vast virtual infinity. Putting yourself in context so to speak. So often we see our lives, our problems our little world as so big, but get above it and look down and gain perspective on just how small you are. Not insignificant, but small and finite in comparison to the galaxies. “The awe-inspiring vastness and smallness of created reality should be viewed as a symbolic pointer to the even more awe-inspiring magnitude and intensity of God’s love . . . . We might say that Calvary is to God’s love what the virtual infinitude of space is to God’s majesty. Though we are microscopic in size next to the vastness of the universe, the Creator loves each of us as if we were the only being he created. For a God of unlimited love, size does not matter.”

This is absolutely astounding! God, Your love is incomprehensible! Thank You for Your great love! Thank You for Your great sacrifice! I love You!!!

“Eternal, ever-present Creator, help us to see your love as the background against which we view all things. Free us to let go of the world that is fading away and to cling only to you. Keep us awake to your presence in this moment and in every moment.”



Present Perfect Chapter 3

August 22, 2017

This chapter, Finding Home, is one of my favorites. In it Boyd discusses so beautifully what we all know, but still struggle with – the things we do to try to fill that longing we have, that insatiable hunger within us for significance and worth.

Boyd unpacks some common ways humanity tries to deal with this dilemma. He discusses the false gods of materialism, control, fame, religion, tribalism, and so on.  “Whatever we try to derive our core sense of worth and meaning from is our god.”

This is powerful. Take a moment and think about what gives you meaning and worth, and don’t be over-spiritual about it. For me, I’ve struggled horribly over my life to be thin. My value came from not being overweight. Maybe some time I’ll unpack this and its horrible effect on my life for so many years, but let me tell you that practicing the presence of God and becoming aware of His incredible love for me has begun to dissolve that shackle. It’s almost completely gone! All that matters is that I’m home in Him. I’m created by Him, I’m loved by Him, I’m rescued and healed by Him. I adore Him. That’s why I want you to take the time to think this through. What are you doing to try to feel valued and important and significant? What are you doing to try to fill the void and feel like you’re really alive?

What Boyd points out is the futility of chasing after anything other than God. “…our deepest hunger is only satisfied when we’re rightly related to God. Only our Creator can give us the fullness of Life we crave. Jesus’ death on the cross is proof that we could not possibly have more worth and significance to God. Despite our sin, our Creator thinks we are worth experiencing a hellish death for. In fact, it was for the joy of spending eternity with us that Jesus endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). In other words, Calvary reveals our unsurpassable worth and significance. At the core of our being, this is what we long for.”

Wow. I had to stop and reread that and let it sink in. “Calvary reveals our unsurpassable worth and significance.”

Boyd then points out the difference between our beliefs and our reality. We can think we are living for Jesus and still be bowing to false gods. How can that be? This is his response:

“I’ve observed that we in the West – especially Christians – tend to attach great importance to what we believe. We treat beliefs almost as though they have magical power, as though merely believing something makes it so. For instance, many assume that believing Jesus is Lord of their life magically makes him Lord . . . The truth is, merely believing Jesus is Lord no more makes him Lord of my life than believing Kim Jong-il is the leader of North Korea makes me his follower.”

Wow again.

Just believing something doesn’t make it so. “. . . the belief is not itself the surrender.”

“The important question, therefore, is not what you believe. The important question is what you decide to do, moment-by-moment, on the basis of what you believe.” (emphasis mine)

Are we going to continue to ignore God’s wooing and keep trying to fill our “hole-in-the-soul” pretending we’re self-sufficient? The only outcomes to doing it our way are alienation, anger, anxiety, apathy, boredom, and depression, not to mention exhaustion! Trying to live as though real life “can be found outside a relationship with God” we continue in the “grand illusion” – life lived in the flesh, not the spirit. “Living as though God was not our only true source of Life forces us to live most of our life in the past or future,” not in the present moment, and all we have is the now, remember?

Boyd asks us to investigate our own soul. To examine how much time we spend thinking past and future thoughts. Where does our mind go when we aren’t focused on a specific task?

“Only a person who is no longer driven by an insatiable hunger can consistently live in the present moment, and only a person who has learned how to find Life in the present moment is no longer driven by this insatiable hunger.”

Home is our relationship with God, and our homing device is broken.

The life we search for is a poor substitute for the real Life God has for us. To give up the pursuit of the faux life is painful, for sure.  “As scary and as difficult as dying to the false way of living may initially be, nothing could be more liberating.” That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 16:25, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it,” and that’s why Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.

“As we are freed from the grand illusion that we can meet our own needs, our built-in homing device begins to work correctly. We’re on our way home . . . The moment we surrender, we are home.”

“Yet, while the belief that the love of God is our home can be embraced at one moment and then forgotten about, the actual decision to release the illusion and embrace the truth cannot. As with everything else that pertains to our actual life, this act can only be done one moment at a time.”

Boyd concludes this section with these words: “The only thing that matters is that we – right now – cease our striving after false gods and become aware of God’s ever-present, perfect love.”

Boyd then gives a few exercises to help us continue in this process of practicing God’s presence. The one I’ll share with you is physical – an awareness of our body and it’s contact with our surroundings – a chair, a sofa, our bed. “Allow yourself to rest in that support and realize that every point of contact reflects the truth that you are held in existence each and every moment by the perfect love of God (Hebrews 1:3). God is personally holding you securely in the world…Throughout your day, turn your attention over and over again to these physical points of contact and transform those physical sensations into a deeper awareness of the great love of God.”

I’ll close this post with the prayer Boyd offers:

“Our ever-present Creator, you alone can satisfy the hunger in our hearts, for you made us for yourself. Help us to relinquish all idols and to find our fulfillment solely in you in this moment and in every moment.”








Present Perfect Chapter 2

August 14, 2017

Well, how did you do last week with staying awake to noticing the presence of God in your daily moments?

The Chapter I’ll review today is entitled “Mere Christianity” and begins with this encouragement and prayer:

“So begin . . .

make that resolution.

Now! . . . Be daring.

None of us have a long time to live . . .

what years we have,

let us live them with God.”

Brother Lawrence

“Our ever-present Father,

We pledged to surrender our life to you,

but we confess

that most of the moments that make up our actual life

are not surrendered to you.

Help us,

to remember you

and offer ourselves up to you

in this moment

and in every moment.”

Gregory Boyd

In this chapter, Boyd briefly unpacks the secular world view and its influence on our lives whether or not we are aware. He says that we live as functional atheists – we compartmentalize our lives into spiritual and secular moments. He says we isolate “the ‘spiritual’ from the rest of our experience.”

“The call to practice the presence of God is not a hyper-spiritual exercise. On the contrary, it’s the core of what it means to surrender our life to Christ.”

Those of us familiar with C.S. Lewis recognize the title of chapter 1, “Mere Christianity” as the title of a book Lewis wrote. This practicing the presence of God is so basic. It’s the core of what it means to be a Christian.

Boyd says that in Western Christianity so many have this idea that because on a certain date they surrendered to Christ and prayed a sinner’s prayer that somehow that means they have a relationship with Christ.

“I believe this is the most prevalent and tragic misunderstanding that afflicts Western Christianity. We make a vow to submit our life to Christ but then spend 99 percent of our time excluding him from our awareness. We make him Lord over our life in theory, but we do not make him Lord over most of the moments that make up our life.”

There are so many examples in the New Testament where Jesus’ disciples are reminded (and thus we are reminded) to be aware of God’s presence. Here are a few of the exhortations given and a few of the many scriptures followed by a brief commentary by Boyd:

Seek First the Kingdom of God  Matthew 6:33  “This implies remembering that God exists and that yielding to his will is our supreme objective, even as we strive for other, less important, goals.”

Live in the Spirit  Galatians 5:16-18 “…we submit to the Spirit in the present moment. . .”

Remain in Christ  John 15:4-5   “Branches don’t visit a vine once in a while on special occasions . . . [they] are permanently attached to their source of life.”

Take Every Thought Captive  2 Corinthians 10:5; Romans 12:2  “Invite him into your thought process, and turn your thoughts into a conversation with him.”

The Body of Christ  1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:4-5; Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 1:18; 2:19  “… before we can function as the body part we are called to be, we must stay continually connected to the head, ready to respond when he tells us to do so.”

Boyd ends the chapter with several activities which we can implement to increase our awareness of God in every now moment we have.

1. Game with Minutes

Think about a time when your mind is least engaged – like when you’re mowing the lawn or jogging or doing dishes, then set your timer and see if you can remember Christ at least once a minute. Doing this changes something mundane into something sacred.

2. Waking Up to God

In your first waking moments, instead of jumping out and rushing on with your day, lay in bed awake for a few minutes. Before allowing yourself to think about the day ahead and your schedule, and so on, train yourself to think about God and his ever-present love. Boyd says, “I preview my day in my imagination and offer up everything to God. I typically follow this by praying for whatever people and needs that pop into my mind.”

3. Inviting Fellow Travelers

As in anything we commit to, (like a diet, running a 5K or marathon) having others who are like-minded increases the probability that we will succeed. Find a few friends who are interested in joining you and encourage one another as you embark on this journey of being awake to God.

4.  Strategically Placed Reminders

I already mentioned the sticky notes, but there are other means of reminding yourself to be mindful of the presence of God.  A piece of jewelry, a phone or computer alert or alarm, little notes tucked in various places. I’m sure you can come up with some others that I’d love for you to share with me!

I want to pray for you (and myself) as we face another moment to practice our awareness of our amazing God and His astounding love for us.

God, it boggles my mind that You, the Creator of the world are interested in us and love us so very much! Forgive us for giving you our lives but then living as if we haven’t. I pray that you’d awaken us from the subtle sleepiness that has settled into us. Our secular, compartmentalizing culture sings its siren song, dulling us to the reality of life in you, right now. Let your Son shine through and burn off the haze we are living in and awaken our hearts and minds to the reality of your loving presence now.


Living Mindful of God

August 7, 2017

When I was in college I read a book entitled The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, a 17th century monk. It was the first time I was ever introduced to a way of living that was intentionally mindful. I tried and failed countless times, but kept at it, trying various methods over the decades since to keep Christ at the forefront of my thinking. Last month I came across this book and it was perfect timing for me.

Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now by Gregory A. Boyd.

This is an updated approach to an ancient practice. In his book, Boyd draws from Brother Lawrence, J.-P. de Caussade and Frank Laubach as well as his own life experiences to breathe new life into living mindful of the reality that God is present in every moment.

In the introduction, “Now Is Where God Lives” Boyd tells his story of being out on a run one morning like hundreds of other mornings when his attention was arrested by a cricket chirping and he began to notice not only the sounds around him but the sights and smells. He had an awakening to all the things he had been oblivious to that were all around him every day – the glory of creation and the love of the Creator that he’d completely missed.

He says, “I realized that my trivial, self-centered mental chatter about the past and future – like a dark cloud blocking the sun – had kept me from seeing the glory of God that surrounded me every second of every day. Never before had I realized the extent to which our focus determines what we experience – and do not experience – in any given moment.” (emphasis mine)

Boyd points out how we spend most of our time thinking about the past, regretting, stewing, growing depressed – and about the future, the unknown, becoming stressed and anxious, but the irony is that we cannot live in either the past or in the future. All we have is this present moment.

“The past is gone. The future is not yet. We remember the past and anticipate the future, but we always do so in the present. Reality is always now. And the single most important aspect of reality is that God is present in it every moment.”

Boyd began the habit of putting post it notes around his house and in his books with the words “Are you awake?” written on them to remind himself to remain awake to God’s presence.

You’re probably wondering how on earth you can do that with everything else you have going on. Boyd says, “Remaining aware of God’s presence doesn’t compete with our attention to other things; it augments it.”

It’s important to remind ourselves that God created us to live in this tangible, hands on world, but with the capacity to be aware of and live in a spiritual realm simultaneously. Whatever is “going on in our lives, the ultimate goal must be to consciously obey what one senses God’s will to be. To ‘seek first the kingdom of God,’ as Jesus commanded we must first seek to submit to God’s reign in each and every moment. When we do this, de Caussade proclaims, we transform ordinary moments into sacred moments and our live becomes a living sacrament.”

I love this because then it doesn’t matter if I’m going to the grocery store or taking a walk or driving or babysitting my grand babies, I can enjoy God in each activity and know that I please Him in these ordinary moments. It isn’t just about doing spiritual things, everything we do is spiritual when done in concert with Christ.

Boyd says, “Remaining awake to God’s presence in the present moment is the single most important task of the Christian life. . . It is, I’m convinced, the bedrock of a vibrant relationship with God and the key to transformation into the likeness of Christ.”

He says the essence of this practice is to remind yourself that you are “submerged in God’s love. That is the practice of the presence of God.”

God is present right now. And now. And now . . . .

The challenge is remembering moment by moment. But Boyd says not to be hard on ourselves when we forget, because that pulls us back into the past and pulls the focus from God back onto ourself and derails us. Just pick up in the now because now is only moment we have. So in each moment, remind yourself that God is present with you. Don’t think about the future – how you’ll be able to keep at it. Just focus on now. Be awake to God’s presence in this one moment.

“…embrace this discipline as a way of being liberated from the prison of our self-preoccupation while waking up to the beauty and joy of God.”

I have experienced this joy and it is incredible. When I stop thinking about myself and my issues and my schedule and my activities . . . my my my ad nauseam; when I notice the delicate perfection of a flower blossom or the dappled leaves of sunlit trees, I exclaim, “God, you are amazing! The beauty of your creation is beyond description! Thank you for eyes to see and a heart and mind to appreciate and enjoy all that you’ve made! It’s inevitable that I will just eat to thank him and praise him for his presence in my life!

Boyd finishes his introduction with the encouragement to “never stop experimenting and growing.”

“As multitudes throughout history can testify, no other single discipline has the power to revolutionize how we experience life moment-by-moment as the largely forgotten and profoundly simple discipline of remembering God exists, right here and right now. God is now.”

As preparation for the next chapters, why not make yourself a post-it note or two asking yourself if you’re awake. Take some time to really notice your surroundings – sights and smells and sounds. Have a conversation with God about what you see right now. Thank Him for being present right now.


My passion to share my passion!

August 4, 2017

I enjoy reading. A lot.

Like anyone who delights in something immensely, I assume that everyone experiences as much satisfaction from reading as I! There is a certain person in my life that I am constantly giving books to – I long to encourage and bless and help, but these books just end up on a shelf or at a Goodwill store, unread. This is mind-boggling to me! Who doesn’t want to read?! I just can’t relate!

I find myself recommending books to my family and friends and acquaintances. I have lost count of how many books I’ve given away. I love sharing books with children and adults alike and don’t see that ever changing!

Over the years I’ve learned, as much as it saddens my heart, many, many people don’t read. There are reasons, some of them even sound good. (wink)

No time.  (Really?)

Other priorities. (I get it, a little.)

Never learned to like reading – bad experiences in school. (This breaks my heart! The purpose for school is to foster a love of learning and reading is a huge pathway!)

TV (Don’t get me started. . . .)

Full schedule – kids’ activities. (Take books with you.)

Learning style – would rather listen. (Then listen!)

Making time to read feels selfish. (Then be selfish! It really isn’t though.)

There are always good excuses, but rarely good reasons. I’ve had to tweak my life to get back to reading more myself. We ultimately make time in our lives for the things that are the most important to us. (I’ve had the following conversation with myself, more than once: Do I really benefit myself and those I love by playing one more game on my phone? It’s ok to play while I’m waiting in the car or at the doctor’s office, but is playing Hay Day or Moxie or Solitaire really going to change my life for the better? N.O. Is it a good use of my time? N.O. Is it a giant time-sucker? Y.E.S.)

I heard a quote years ago that impacted me: “You are the same today that you’ll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”

Whether or not this is exactly true, it has a lot of truth to it. I think the essence here is learning. Whether we learn from books or podcasts or people we meet, the reward is learning which hopefully will produce positive change in us. (Otherwise, what’s the point? Just stay home and watch tv and do virtual reality stuff and live a pretend, non-life.)

This summer I’ve read more books than I have read in several years. Some fun and light, and many rich and thought-provoking.  All enjoyable and worthy of my time.

One day on a walk with my husband, I was sharing my desire for those I love to be able to glean from these books but I know they don’t enjoy reading or their lives are too full, or both. He made a suggestion to me that I thought was really smart! He said I should blog about what I’m reading so that others can benefit without having to put in the time.

I’ve taken that to heart and have decided to give it a try.

If you’re interested, I’d love to share what I’ve read/am reading with you so that even if you don’t have the time or energy or desire to pick up a book at this point in your life, you can still glean from the excellent books that are out there, available to you. You don’t even have to buy a book or go to the library!

The format may vary book by book. I’ll figure it out as I go. But the point is, if you would like to be a different person next year, one changed and enriched by learning, then jump in and we’ll grow together!

Here goes!

If you’re interested in joining me for my book summaries, let me know!

Now I need to decide which book I’ll present to you first!

In the meantime, here’s an interesting article about Charlie “Tremendous” Jones to browse! His love of books and reading is contagious! Let me know what you think!

14 White Plates

April 22, 2016

I will have been married 34 years this June 1st. For special and marginally special occasions, I use the same white dishes that I registered for when I was a wee 20 years old. My mother suggested I choose a white pattern; I wasn’t sure I wanted white. My older sister had registered for some really pretty square dishes with seafoam green and mauve and some other fashionable color that escapes me now. My mother and she had disagreed about the wisdom of getting dishes that would be out of style in a few years. My sister won but my mother was right. (Those are some hideous dishes.)

This relating pattern was typical. My older sister pressing for what she wanted. Me rarely ever pushing back. I don’t know if it was because I learned from watching my older brothers and sister in their battles, or if I had no self confidence from my older siblings pushing me around. When it came to wedding dishes, I knew that maybe someday something would be worth the fight, but I didn’t think what I put on the dinner table was. So I allowed my mother’s wisdom to prevail. If she said I’d be glad one day, that these would never go out of style and that I’d always enjoy them, then I believed her.

I registered for 8 place settings because that’s what she said I should do. I don’t think I took my fiancé with me to make all the house stocking decisions, but rather, my mother. She’d raised 5 kids, worked multiple jobs, entertained and knew more than a thing or two about dishes and about life.

After I was married, my mother would scout the sales. I remember her telling me that my china pattern was going to be discontinued and she was concerned I didn’t have enough. 8 seemed like more than plenty, so when she rustled up 6 more dinner plates, I was amused. “Mom, when will I ever need that  many plates?!”  She told me she knew that I couldn’t imagine ever needing that many, but indeed one day I would. I don’t know how she knew, but she knew.

My husband was in grad school for 5 years and the dishes were stuffed in our small apartment. When he took a job in Omaha, NE, we packed up our few belongings and our 14 white Noritake Swan Lake dinner plates and the 8 place settings and headed northwest.

I have used those dishes for nearly 34 years and as she predicted, have never gotten tired of them. They go with everything. Pottery Barn, Pier 1 and Crate and Barrel sell white dishes galore and none of them are as pretty as mine. Not too masculine, not too feminine, but just right.

I threw a baby shower for a friend today and pulled out the white dishes. They looked lovely stacked on the blue table cloth surrounded by white serving pieces of a variety of designs. Guess how many guests we had? 14.


Mom, you were right. You were always right.

Thank you.

I love you.

I miss you.

In awe,

Your grateful and impressed daughter,



December 11, 2014

I spent some time this morning reading from a book I’ve been enjoying: The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. I actually reread the chapter from yesterday. It expanded my mind and brought insight that was breath-taking. The author described the giving of the 10 Commandments at Mt. Sinai in terms of a Jewish wedding; the components of the (cloud) covering, the time of purification, and the contract. Seen in this light, the 10 Commandments are a reflection of a loving relationship and not an angry set of rules. This longing for relationship and loving commitment from God for those He created is absolutely astounding. It is at the same time beautiful and powerful and desperately sad. So much love and blessing and relationship God offers his people; so many lies and betrayals his people give in return. Not just the Israelites of ages past, but anyone who is a Christ-follower today, me included.

Oh how I want my heart to long for Him the way I long for a vacation or a warm breeze on a spring day. I want my heart to be fully given to Him, my thoughts to be about Him throughout each day, longing for a chat, sitting near one another and sharing thoughts unspoken. Just being together.

The kindness of God I take for granted too regularly, as He waits. It’s not like He isn’t doing anything else, but in His expansiveness, He can be caring for the entire world and still long for me to long for Him. Long for me to make space for Him. And time.

God is with us in our difficult times and it’s easy to forget Him during the good times. The relationship God wants isn’t that of a paramedic, but a bridegroom, the closest most intimate friend. God is the Alpha and the Omega, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace; He’s our Physician, Wonderful Counselor and our Shepherd. He’s the Bridegroom. And all year long, not just at Christmas, He is Emmanuel.

Emmanuel…God with us. With. With us! With me, with you!

What a marvel!

This time of year maybe a bit more than at other times, I scurry around, busy and distracted and I don’t allow God With Us to be with me. Unintentionally I shun His mind boggling gift and end up hurting myself and hurting His heart. How can God be with me if I don’t slow down and make the time and the place; if I don’t make our relationship my priority?

I’ve gotten pretty good over the years with starting every day reading God’s Word and journaling and praying, but I’ve found of late that I’m not very good at listening, just being with Him.

I’m like a puppy put on a leash – pulling, twisting, tugging, and I just need to wear myself out, reach the end of my tether and finally lay down. My mind is busy, my body is antsy and I need to ask Emmanuel to help me stop. I need to ask the One who longs to be with me to help me be with Him.

The amazing thing is, He will! He stops and stoops and joins me in my little world, my little life because He is Emmanuel. He is God with us. God with me. God with you.

What a mystery He is – His attention is completely undeserved – His kindness a glorious gift of love.

Maybe I’ll bake no cookies this year. Maybe the house won’t get decorated as extensively. But I plan on becoming better friends with Emmanuel. My King, my God, my With Me Friend.


April 10, 2014


you’ve been so slow to come

are you reticent or just lazy?

what’s to be done?


in like a lion

out like a lamb

you’ve been roaring and bullying far too long

lion, get on your way, be gone!



signs of hope and 

new beginnings 

longer days and fresher leanings


spring forward 

like a doe leaping

a new lamb bleating

it’s time for a rest from winter’s ruthless beatings



change your costume

from predator to prey

bring us sweet scents and warm breezes today

fuzzy yellow hope

March 4, 2013

My husband pointed out to me the aspens in our backyard this morning. He said, “Look up and down the entire tree and tell me what you see.” Isn’t it amazing how growth happens right before our eyes, often without our even noticing it? The trees are full of little fuzzy bulb-buds where leaves are growing secretly within, awaiting the right moment to emerge and salute spring!

I’ve noticed over the last week or so that our goldfinches are changing also. I always enjoy the transformation. Bright yellow feathers begin peeking beneath the dull feathers of their chests and heads hinting at the brilliant gold they will sport in the spring and summer months.

Hope wears feathers. It wears leaves. After the interminable winter, they are a happy testament to new life, warmth, growth and joy to come! Hope is embodied in buds and feathers.

Even when more snow falls this month, I will remind myself that I’ve seen those buds and yellow feathers. I know without a doubt that although winter tries to maintain its grip, it can’t last against the power of Spring. Fuzzy yellow hope will carry me through until then!