three red birds

Note: this was first published on 2/2/12. It remains just as true today. And I’m reposting it because of the beautiful little painting of a barn I just added to my barn painting collection, with three red birds.

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Before I knew what life could do to a person . . . before I knew what had been done to me . . . I felt peace. I remember it, whole and holy, round and full, like the weight of a newborn infant in a mothers arms.

It was the sort of peace that comes from a youth undented and undaunted by the hammers of hurt.

The sort of peace that lives in a heart that has not yet realized people really are capable of evil . . . of lies . . . of betrayal . . . of stealing innocence, no matter how old we are when someone snuffs the last piece of us out.

Holed out, hollowed and spent, fear fills us first.

Unless we believe God and His promise to pour His Holy Spirit into us.

Unless we believe His promise to never leave us alone.

Only then, by releasing the clutch of our unbelief, can we let fear, unfettered, flee from our hearts.

The other day, I realized the depths of my unbelief as fear and shame overwhelmed me once again. I ran down a quiet path, spindly brush, naked trees and silence surrounding me.

Help.

Me.

Overcome.

And then, unrequested and unrehearsed, the birds appeared.

Bright, red cardinals. Chests bursting and fat with downy, winter feathers.

First one.

Then a second.

Then a third.

Three cardinals stained red flew wild across my path. And I remembered God has something important to say when He says it in threes.

died for you, He said.

died for you, He said.

I died for you, He said.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture . . . We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Romans 8:31-39 (TMV)

My one word for 2018: SEEK

In recent years, I’ve gotten in the habit of asking the Lord to give me one word to focus on throughout each year. For example, my one word for 2017 was OBEDIENCE. And in 2016, it was FOCUS.

This year, after praying and doing really nerdy things like looking up the word origin in the Greek, I felt the Lord nudging me to choose the work SEEK.

The word appears many places in the Bible, but in particular, I felt led to Matthew 6:33:

“But SEEK first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…”

Seek Him.

Seek Him first.

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Seek His Kingdom.

Seek His righteousness.

Seek, and faith and hope and love and all the good things will spill out.

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SEEK Him first because that’s how we can spread the hope of the Kingdom best.

And hope means everything in a world that lives largely without it.

Hope means everything to someone like me who chooses to often to worry rather than seek Him and pray.

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So today I’m pausing to dwell and pray over my one word for the year.

I’m praying the Lord is gracious and helps me seek Him first in my marriage, in my parenting, in my work as a nurse, and in each word I pen as a writer.

What about you?

Do you choose one word for the year? If so, what’s yours? And why?

Happy New Year, dear readers! And may the Lord comfort you with the hope and peace of His word today and throughout the year to come!

When Home Feels like a Fixer-Upper

My husband and I stood and stared at the scalding hot water pouring onto the bare plywood floor of the bathroom we are remodeling. Neither of us knew how exactly to go about plugging a hole in a water main. Finally, the shock wore off. I grabbed nearby towels and stuffed them around the split copper pipe, and my husband ran to the basement to shut off the water. Thankfully, the plumber was scheduled to come the next day, and the neighborhood pool made a great stand-in for showers that evening.
Do-it-yourself projects look really easy, all smiles and shiplap, until something like this happens.

Read the rest of this story in More to Life Magazine by clicking here!