Thursday, August 30, 2012


Three scriptures; summarized by three words; reviewed often.

Walking in the woods behind our home one afternoon, reviewing those three scriptures along with their corresponding three words, it came to me: echo, aroma, reflection—the three words that describe who I want to be—also form the acrostic, EAR.

Psalm 40:6 records, “…you have given me an open ear…” A more literal translation from the Hebrew would be, ears you have dug for me. (Thank you, Eugene Peterson)

Hearing is so important to God that He created me with two ears so I can listen for His voice; for your voice; for the voices of my other friends and family.

My friend Deb is 95% deaf. But I have learned so much about hearing and listening from Deb. She focuses her whole attention on me when I speak; she questions to help her understanding; she laughs at herself when she hears incorrectly; she appreciates repetition. Deb is a great listener.

I want to listen to God like Deb listens to me. Like Deb I don’t always hear accurately the first time; I don’t always understand what I hear; and I don’t always remember well what I hear. I need to grow in focused attention.

  • I journal.
  • I review.
  • I ponder.
  • I ask God; I ask others.
  • I create hooks, like acrostics, to help me remember. 
What has helped you develop your listening skills?

“…God not only loves you very much, but also has put his hand on you for something special… Something happened in you. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, …”
From I Thessalonians 1, The Message

“But thanks be to God … who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance (aroma) of the knowledge of him everywhere.”
II Corinthians 2:14, Revised Standard Version – parenthesis mine

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory,
are being transformed into his likeness …”
II Corinthians 3:18, New International Version

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chicken or Egg; Picture or Frame

What comes first?

For my birthday this year a friend gave me a BIG pad entitled, “Brilliant Ideas”. It was the perfect gift for me, an idea person. So far five pages remind me of my thoughts, my ideas, my dreams. It's giving me a glimpse of what my future might look like.

This summer is a transition time for my husband and me. We’re enjoying a sabbatical and pondering how best to steward who God created us to be for the rest of our lives. So the ideas are recorded on my new BIG pad, not acted on; and many will be discarded.

Two pictures help me wait patiently to see which ideas will come to fruition. One is a jigsaw puzzle. When I work on a jigsaw puzzle (which is one of my Christmas activities), I always do the perimeter first. That framework guides the placement of the inside pieces. The frame helps avoid frustration.

The second picture is the small get-away cabin Bill and I built in the mountains this past year. The framing is the essential and primary piece of the cabin that holds everything together. Without the framing, there would be nothing to guide the electric wires; to anchor the walls; to give boundaries to the insulation and much more.

The frame is essential: to finish a jig-saw puzzle; to build a cabin; to know which ideas fit best within the context of our next contribution. The frame must come first.

I can get quite excited about some of my ideas. One morning I heard God whisper, Sue, you have the picture before the frame. You won't know which ideas are good ideas until the framework is in place.

So I record my ideas; wait, ponder, pray. “God what is the big picture you have planned out for us for our next season?”  Right now I'm letting my ideas be ideas. When the frame is clear, the ideas fall into place.

“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; …”
Psalm 16:6, ESV
"Now you've got my feet on the life path, ..."
Psalm 16:11, The Message

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Post for our Sons and Their Wives

And yes, for the rest of my readers, you are welcome to listen in.

“The word of God is living and active…” Once again I experienced the truth of this Scripture from Hebrews 4:12 during a recent devotional time.

Since before our marriage, two Scriptures have anchored my prayer time for Bill and me—Romans 15:5-6 and Psalm 33:20-22. Over forty years later, I heard God’s voice in a new way through these familiar passages; “the word of God is living and active”.

We received the gift of a sabbatical from ministry responsibilities this summer to rest and define our best contribution for the next season of our lives. These verses offered important parameters.

“May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another,
in accord with Christ Jesus,
that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
Romans 15:5 and 6, Revised Standard Version

Only two relationships need to give voice to and affirm our next steps—us and God. Two relationships; highlighted two times; in two verses! Repetition signifies importance.
  • Verse 5 puts it this way: “live in such harmony with one another”. Verse 6 uses the words, “together with one voice”. Each other, one relationship.
  • Verse 5, “in accord with Christ Jesus”; verse 6, “glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”. God, the second relationship. 
Friends and counselors will guide us as we finalize this decision. We are thankful for their input; we will listen, eager for their wisdom. The final decision rests with God and us; the two primary relationships.

(Thoughts from Psalm 33 in a future post).

"The Law of God is in his heart, his steps will not slip".
Psalm 37:31

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Love Them Well ~ Give Them Space

You know when I most want to connect with a friend or family member ~ besides all the time ~ it’s when they are hurting. Many of my closest friendships have been forged through pain.

Yet, when someone is hurting, that is often the time they hide from connecting. Perhaps, their circumstance embarrasses them—life shouldn’t be this way; sometimes they need time to process alone; or they might be an introvert who suddenly has come into the spotlight—a very uncomfortable place for them. Whatever the reason, connecting is not high on their desire list.

Connecting is different from serving. Serving is doing on their behalf; serving can happen without connecting. I can leave a casserole in the cooler on the front porch and never see those who will be enjoying it later that evening. Serving starts with the mind.

I need to serve and I want to serve. I also want to connect. Connecting understands—at least to a degree; connecting is giving a hug and letting the tears flow; connecting doesn’t need words or service; connecting is the gift of being with, allowing what is to be what is. Connecting starts with the heart.

I remember Mary and Martha—that familiar incident recorded in Luke 10. Martha wanted to serve Jesus; Mary wanted to connect with Jesus. Job’s friends when they first arrived sat with Job for a full week without saying a word! Job 2:11-13.

Several years ago, five couples gathered in our living room. As we shared what was happening in our families, one of the husbands started to weep as he spoke of his prodigal son. The rest of us came close; we laid hands on him and prayed for him, his wife, and their son. We drew near and connected on a heart level. Sometimes connecting and nearness are one and the same. Not always.

Recently I was pondering my desire to connect and turned in my Bible to Hebrews 10. I was reminded of three great truths; three invitations I am offered because God is near:
  1. I am invited to draw near to Him.
  2. I am invited to hold fast to the hope He offers.
  3. I am invited to consider how to encourage others. 
Hmmm, connecting doesn’t even require that I’m physically in the same state as my friend. Perhaps that is a good thing—an opportunity to love them well and give them space.

“…weep with those who weep.”
Romans 12:15

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Do I Believe ...

More questions to ponder; thank you Stormy, my friend.

Do I believe that God views me with the same carefree and adoring love that I offer my grandchildren?

Do I believe that God smiles when He thinks about me or talks about me?

Do I believe that when I smile at Him and call for Him it warms His heart?

Do I believe it doesn’t bother Him at all that I haven’t learned to walk yet; and He cheers every attempt I make without demands?

Do I believe He would push me away from an oncoming car and take the brunt of it Himself?

Do I believe there is absolutely nothing I could do that would make Him love me more—and that even when I’m extremely naughty and petulant He still wants me?

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord …”
Psalm 127:3

And one further question from my friend Kathy has greatly challenged me.

What thoughts, fears or doubts are intruding into my thinking that keeps me from taking the next courageous step in my spiritual, relational, and missional journey?

“A friend loves at all times …”
Proverbs 17:17

If these questions intrigue you as they have me, look back at my previous post for more challenging thoughts and questions.