Isn’t it so like us to automatically assume that our own experience mirrors what others think and feel in similar situations? How many times have we said to someone else, “I know exactly what you mean” or “I feel your pain,” when, in actuality we can never know what it’s like to be inside someone else’s brain or to share in the anguish of another’s suffering. We say these things to be empathetic. We say these things to build connection. We say these things in order to let them know that whatever they are going through that they don’t have to go through it alone. We mean well. But when we plow ahead with the certainty that because we’ve been in a similar situation that we know their experience, we run the risk of further isolating them by our efficiency in bolstering their spirits without taking the time to listen to their story.

Each person’s story is unique, and each one needs to tell it in his own way. When we hear with an ear that hones in on key words or phrases with which we are familiar, are we not really just trying to find our own story within the context of their tale? Are we not listening for how the words they say reflect upon our own lives more than receiving the gift of trust and respect that another gives us when he allows us to get a glimpse of what is behind his mask?

When is the last time we listened not to what someone else words meant to us but to what they meant to the one speaking them?


what is your heart’s desire?

Halloween is over, so the “holiday season” is upon us. I have learned to be less offended by this, because now that it starts in November the holidays include Thanksgiving, and whether we like it or not, the Christmas season begins the moment the turkey is off the table. The commercials for the season, however began Halloween night. All of a sudden, whatever an advertiser wanted to sell you the day before has now become a potential Christmas present. Hungry for steak? Give it for Christmas. Need a new kitchen appliance? Wrap it up for Christmas. A luxury automobile? A really expensive Christmas present. One commercial blatantly suggests that if you purchase the right gifts, your recipients will love their gifts and that will lead them to love you. I thought we bought things for people we love, not that we bought things for people in order for them to love us…

Anyway, I digress. This post is not a rant about the commercialization of Christmas. It’s about figuring out what we really want.

So many of us see life in two columns. In the first column there are the things that we think we are expected to do. Some might label this column: What God Wants Me To Do With My Life. The other column is what we want. The second column might contain things like fame, fortune, and beauty. Most of us see the two columns of our life as being two completely different lists. But what if they aren’t? What if they aren’t all that different?

Sure, fabulous vacations and a life free from financial woes sounds terrific, but go deeper. What do you REALLY want?

You want to not worry. You want to live a life that matters. You want to have meaningful relationships. You want to do work that fulfills you. You want to be happy. God wants those same things. God didn’t create you so that the rest of your life was a frustrating dichotomy of wanting what He didn’t want you to have. God created you, BECAUSE He loves you, and BECAUSE He loves you, He wants you to be happy.

All the things we could possibly want in life could probably be placed into a few categories:  Love, Hope, Freedom, and Respect. Think about it. All the cars and foods and clothes and whatever else we might wrap up for Christmas would most likely fit under one of those headings. And there’s nothing wrong with giving them to those we love, as long as we realize that they aren’t love itself.

Ask yourself what you REALLY want. What is my heart’s desire? Chances are, it’s also God’s desire for you. Where do you think it came from?

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Only God does perfect

It’s really easy as a Christian

to fall into the trap

of trying to be the perfect follower of God.

I am so cognizant of the gift of my life –

this one life –

this one opportunity to get it right.

I don’t want to squander it.

It’s too precious of a gift to not be mindful of its importance

or to take the responsibility of it for granted.

But it isn’t my job to do it perfect.

It isn’t my job to make it through life

without making mistakes.

It isn’t my job to be God.

It’s my job to be human –

to be flawed –

to be imperfect.

It’s my job to need God.

God made me imperfect,

and it is only through Him that I can be perfected.

That is the toughest lesson of all for a Christian.

I may want to light the world on fire.

I may want to eradicate poverty

and heal the suffering

and feed the hungry

so that there are no longer any people who are poor

or hurt or in need of food.

Jesus came into a world like that,

and when he left the world still contained those problems.

Even He didn’t leave the world a perfect place.

He came into this world to be one of us –

to feel our pain –

to share our want –

to know our hunger,

and what He left us with was something

that fixing all the world’s problems wouldn’t have taught us as well.

He gave us the gift of knowing

that He understands what it’s like to be human

and that He doesn’t expect us to be superhuman.

He just wants us to do our best

and to recognize that that will never be enough

to end the imperfections of this world,

but it will be enough for us to know

that we need Him

and that when we quit trying

to impress Him with how well we do our lives,

we are left with the knowledge that all He expects from us

is to accept His love.

No amount of perfection will make Him love us more.

No amount of service will make Him love us more.

No amount of anything will make Him love us more,

because He already loves us perfectly.

And He is the only one who can,

because only God does perfect.

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this little light of mine…

Yesterday, as I write this, was the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. It is a very radical idea for us to exalt the most horrible instrument of torture of Jesus’s time, but this is exactly what we do as Christians. We take the very thing that was used to kill our Savior as our most visible symbol. We wear it with pride, so to speak. It’s almost a taunt, if you will, that says to others, you think this scares me? No. this brings me life! Without this Cross, I would not have the promise of eternal life. This life came to us through Jesus, who God sent into the world as Light. In direct light all our flaws are evident. We cannot hide from our sinfulness when we shine light into our deepest recesses. But that very light can make us want to shrink back into the shadows to avoid having to face our fears, our sins, our flaws. If we don’t want to see what’s wrong with us, we will avoid the light. In other words, we won’t be able to see as well; we are somewhat blinded and only see narrowly which leads to confusion.
I don’t know about you, but as I get older I need more and more light to see clearly. When my husband and I visit our adult children in their homes, we’re always looking for brighter lights to be able to see, especially at night. The kids think it’s humorous, but they will see, with time.
Using the metaphor, it’s as if, when we become more and more accustomed to the light we can come to need it more and more. We invite it further and further into the darkest corners of our lives. As more and more things about ourselves are brought into the light, they can be healed by His love. Isn’t that what I’m trying to learn to do in my studies in Spiritual Direction? We are there to help others, to walk with them, as they shine His light into the fears and insecurities and reticence in their hearts and bring them out into the light of day. It’s painful, dirty work, and as we’ve already seen, it gets messy, but, Wow, what a gift!
I think, as I become more and more aware of my sinful nature, I see just how completely dependent I am on God. Trying to see life through His eyes, I see Him everywhere – in the needy He is the opportunity to help; in the frustrations and challenges of life, He is the One who walks with me so that I can face those struggles; in the joys of life, I see His gifts. Do I do this perfectly? Not by a long shot! But the more I try to look through the lens of God’s camera I see His handprint all over the place.
It’s kind of like when I go through my days I am pretty oblivious to what kinds of cars people drive. Friends think it’s funny that I don’t always recognize their cars when I’m driving through our tiny town. Cars just aren’t my thing until I need to purchase a new one. Then I start to notice the makes and models of other cars on the road. I ask others about what they like and don’t like about the vehicles they drive. I am looking at cars through a different lens because it’s a focus in my life. But once I’ve purchased the car and get used to it, I go back to my not noticing the various modes of transportation people use.
Likewise when I started trying to see God in all things my focus naturally began to notice things more. It’s as if a light shines on them and lets me see the things that have been there all along. I hope I never go back to taking that for granted. I pray that I never stop being “blinded by the light.”

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travels with goofy…

Yesterday my husband and I left Orlando to come home. We had gone down to visit our son and his wife and to make a pilgrimage to see our 2 ½ year-old grandson’s hero – Mickey Mouse. It was a crazy, wet and wonderful day in the Magic Kingdom.
Seeing Disney World through the fresh eyes of a two-year-old is an incredible experience. The look of awe was interspersed with a wide-eyed star-struck gaze on his little face. He saw singing bears and crooning tropical birds. He rode on a magic carpet and he played in an arcade while Mama, DaDa and PopPop went on Space Mountain. He had no idea as he jumped from game to game that he was actually playing none of the video games. The screen would change and he would gleefully shout, “Me did it!” content that he had won a race or flown a plane or danced his way to a new level. He couldn’t have had more fun if we had put tokens into the game consoles. During one particularly bad thunderstorm we ducked into what we thought was a show to discover that Minnie Mouse, Daisy and Donald Duck and Goofy were all inside – in the flesh! His amazement at meeting the real-life characters was like one of us having a photo op with the President of the United States.
He is young enough to not realize that it was a day of terrible weather and rides that broke down just as we were about to go on them and a drive back home in a torrential down-pour with almost zero-visibility. He happily played with the plastic cards Disney uses as “tickets” emblazoned with Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Mickey the whole car-ride back to their house. It couldn’t have been a better day.
So, yesterday, we went out to breakfast with Katie and Nate, and headed home. My logical, practical and level-headed husband announced that he would rather not drive south to go north – or was it to go east in order to head west? – whatever it was – he figured there must be another way to get home than to go on the 408 to get to the Florida Turnpike, so another way we went.
We ended up on the 436 in a westerly direction and went through traffic light after traffic light as we inched our way through the westerly suburbs of Orlando. We drove through Apopka and Altamonte Springs; we drove through Tavares and meandered through Mount Dora. We saw Leesburg and went past their International airport. What other country can one possibly get a direct flight to from the Leesburg Airport? Finally, we got on Florida 44, not to be confused with County Road 44, which is conveniently located very close to the same numbered highway, and, in short order, we were on our way to Interstate 75 north. Our little foray through Central Florida took about two hours.
Luckily, we both had a sense of humor about the detour which aptly taught us the lesson that quite often it’s much quicker to go back just a little before proceeding in the direction you’re ultimately headed. It also made it quite clear just how difficult it is to decide once you’ve gotten on the wrong path, whether or not it’s too late to cut your losses and go back, or if it’s better to go ahead and slog through until you discover an alternate route. Either way, we end up at our final destination and, hopefully, we discern some valuable insights about life and about ourselves along the journey.

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lessons of a disc golf widow…

The Tournament is over. THE tournament, the weekend I have been dreading for months, the one that has challenged me to places I didn’t think I had the strength to go, the one that pushed me past my comfort zone over and over. Allow me to explain.
My husband is into Disc Golf. Disc Golf is a sport where players throw specially designed Frisbees into metal baskets that are scattered across a course which is set up like a regular golf course with fairways and roughs and outs-of-bound. They use putters and drivers and discs that are designed to veer to the left or the right. They spend hours practicing and playing and discussing their practicing and playing. They have groups that play together once a week. They have favorite courses. And they have stories to tell.
They talk about the aces – the “holes in one” if you will. They speak in tones of awe and wonder about the shots that went in in one throw from the tee pad with an almost mystical quality. Divine intervention has been mentioned when relating the stories of aces quite often. Usually when an ace occurs there is the clink of the chains in the basket and then a roar of admiration and excitement from the group. It reminds me somewhat of the howl of the coyotes I often hear at night when one of their number catches its prey.
The “Prey” in disc golf is the aforementioned basket. It’s a circle of chains which extend downward into another circle. Below them is the basket portion that “catches” the disc. The chains stop the disc which usually causes it to fall into the basket. I say usually, because sometimes it falls to the ground. Just like in golf when the ball sometimes goes into the hole and rolls around the rim and right out. It’s no less frustrating in either sport. This basket is fitted onto a metal pole which sits into the center of a stand – most of the time. There are the occasional hanging basket where the metal apparatus is suspended from a tree branch and the buried basket where the parts, minus the stand and the pole, sit into a hole in the ground.
So why did I dread this particular tournament? Because the course where this tournament was played is in our “yard.” We live on nine acres of land in rural north Florida. To the right of our house is another eight acres that has not had a house built on it. To our left are the kindest, most generous neighbors anyone could ever have the right to ask for, and towards the front of our property, which is situated on a cul-de-sac, there are another set of above-and-beyond neighbors who don’t object to the craziness that often ensues when multiple disc golfers descend upon the course for a day or a weekend of flinging plastic. But this weekend was the first PDGA (that’s Professional Disc Golf Association) sanctioned event. The tournament was open to 65 players and required several volunteers, both before, during, and after the tournament to bring the whole thing to fruition. This tournament has been in the planning stages since last November. My husband, the Tournament Director, was required to take an exam testing his knowledge of the many and varied rules of the game. He submitted diagrams of the course for approval and had to take care of all the hundreds, no thousands, of details most players would be amazed at that are necessary for putting on a tournament. He has made many improvements to the course. He has mowed and mowed and mowed. He has picked up sticks and branches the piled these bits of nature’s litter into several piles higher than him that were burned over the last several months. He has matcheted the wooded portions of the course into submission, and he has put signage all over the place, leading players in the correct direction to the next tee pad.
As if actually living on a disc golf course isn’t already bordering on eccentric, putting on a tournament of this size and scope is downright insanity. This event has become my husband’s obsession. And, truth be told, I didn’t always appreciate that. I’m not always the gracious hostess to having a few dozen of my husband’s friends walking all over our property, causing the dogs to bark and howl all day long, or in the case of night golf, into the wee hours of the morning. But this was a whole other level of commitment. There were all the players and volunteers to feed, there were the out of town guests who stayed with us during the event, and there was the players’ party beside our pool on Saturday evening – complete with a Jazz band and more food.
I’ve been cooking for days. I’ve been talking about this whole thing for months and stressing out over it for the past several weeks. But it all worked out. It worked because my husband and I are blessed with incredible friends who came without being asked and cooked and served and listened and planned and setup tents and baskets and built tee pads and mowed and cleaned up and allowed us to use parts of their properties and showed us that they love us. I am overwhelmed that our son drove up from Orlando to help his Dad and spent his first night in more than 6 years away from his wife, and that he brought his two-year-old son who helped distract us and entertain us and remind us of what is really important in life. And I am in awe of the God who helped me through the loneliness of the last several months when my husband and his mind were so often elsewhere, and I felt the isolation of feeling that I was too often less important than a game.
But I was wrong. Although I haven’t always been the most willing participant, I have been the witness to the amazing power of love. I have watched the friendships that my husband has developed through this sport blossom. I have learned the value of men helping men and bonding with each other in ways that are so foreign to my gender. And I have been a witness to my husband’s love of God and his somewhat odd way of living out the gospel to feed the hungry and house the homeless and share the blessings of God with others. My husband lives his faith better than I do. Sometimes I just want to be home. As an introvert, I need my down-time when I don’t have to be “on.” I need peace and quiet and my own space to think and pray. I had none of that this weekend, and I survived.
No. I amend that – I actually enjoyed it.
I’m glad it’s over, and I don’t know if I ever want to do it again, but I handled it better than I could have ever hoped, and, that in and of itself, is a small miracle.



Being called holier than thou is an insult in our society. What is now considered virtuous is being more tolerant than thou. Tolerance is the watchword of moral relativism which declares that I have no right to tell anyone what is right or wrong.
How many times have I heard fellow Americans say that they think abortion is wrong, but that they have no right to tell anyone that it’s wrong to have an abortion? They think suicide is wrong, but they do not have the right to tell another person that he is wrong to end his own life. They believe that rape and murder and genocide are abhorrent, but that our country’s government has no right to tell leaders in other nations that what they are perpetrating or allowing to happen to their citizens is completely unacceptable.
What happened to “I am my brother’s keeper?” What happened to there being a code for what is just plain wrong and what is right? And where is it written that none of us has a right to speak up when someone else is clearly behaving badly?
I think it comes down to responsibility. If I admonish my fellow man, I have to take some form of responsibility for his actions. If I don’t want to be responsible for anyone other than myself, I have to keep my mouth shut, or so our modern world tells us. It also tells us that we are responsible for our planet, for the animals that live upon it and for people who are unable to take care of themselves, but only as far as we do not commit the sin of telling anyone that they are wrong.
This attitude is garbage. It doesn’t pass the sniff test. And it’s taking us down the path of destruction. Once we took the step down that slippery slope of tolerance for bad behavior we began the quick descent into a world where everything is deemed okay and that self-esteem is the most important characteristic to cultivate in our children. How can we raise children to feel good about themselves if they are expected to feel remorse when they do the wrong thing? Society’s answer to that is to tell us that there is no sin, that whatever you want to do is fine, and that your right to live the way you choose is more important than anyone else’s opinion.
No wonder our world is such a mess. I don’t see it getting any better.