Thursday, September 1, 2016

Echoes has Moved!

Echoes of Grace has a new home!!! Grab a cup of coffee or tea, and please come visit and take a tour. Like all new homes it is not totally finished ... but almost and I'm excited to show you around. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Big Day

The Unveiling is only 7 days (or less if you're reading this after Thursday) away.

The all new Echoes of Grace can be found at its new address on Thursday, September 1 ...

Do update your address book and subscribe to the new Echoes of Grace. Then you won't miss out on any new posts.

See ya' soon,

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Gift for YOU

Okay, I'm not going to reveal this surprise now ...

but you'll for sure want to check out Echoes of Grace's new home in September.

New look.
New offerings.
New information.

And a special gift for you.

As of September 1

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Echoes Is Growing

Monday Quotes is joining the Echoes of Grace website on October 3. Words like this will offer thoughts to ponder throughout the week.

"Sabbath isn't about what you do, it's about the attitude of your heart. And Sabbath isn't a day off, it's time set apart."
Shelly Miller, The Sabbath Society

Do remember, Echoes, the blog returns on September 1 at this new address,

Looking forward to seeing you then.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I Can Hardly Wait ...

... for YOU to join me this September for the almost all new Echoes of Grace!

Echoes is moving to a new home. You are invited to the Grand Opening, Thursday, September 1!
     It will look different.
     It will offer new opportunities ... more than a blog.
     It will have a new address,  Please update your address book.

Echoes of Grace, the Thursday words you look forward to returns Thursday September 1.  

For the month of August, Echoes is on its yearly vacation-sabbatical. Not only will it return refreshed, rejuvenated, refueled (and whatever other re you can conjure up) but with an all new look.

I can't wait to show you around. Sue

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Time to Pause

Thank you, Nancy Ruminski for sharing this picture from your blog, A Little Dash of Love.

Psalm 23 is perhaps the first scripture I ever memorized as a child. Back then it was only words, important words - they were in my Bible, but words. I hadn't yet been introduced to The Word who is God, who is life, who came and lived on this earth. John 1:1,4,14.

This Word is now my foundation for my relationship with God; he calls me his child. John 1:12. And this Word is full of grace and truth. John 1:14.

But grace is only grace, and truth is only truth, until I learn to trust it.

My Bible now is not merely a book of words, it is an invitation to live my relationship with God as his child. It is my opportunity to trust truth. I open my Bible to enjoy my son-ship with God, to experience the reality that is mine.

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."

In my single teaching days, Ellen was my roommate. She has a lovely singing voice. One of my favorites from her repertoire was Psalm 23. She voiced the first words as Because the LORD is my shepherd, I have everything that I need. Now, because the Lord is my shepherd, I am able to experience his care, his guidance, his protection, his provision, everything that I need. Words come to life.

My days have been full, wonderful, and tiring. In August my shepherd is providing a time to pause, to rejuvenate, to listen for his love. This is what I need.

"He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul."

My green pastures are the Wet Mountains; the still waters are the gurgling brooks sliding over the rocks in Colorado streams. I look forward to soul restoration.

Long-time friends, visited this morning. The wife told the story of  a spiritual conversations she had with some friends.

One day she asked them, what is the most important thing I can impart to you? There answers were many and varied. It was obvious they respected her. Then it was her turn. She said, you know, I think the most important thing I can leave with you is the you know how much God loves you!

YES! That's what I want too, a new dose of God's love!

So for the month of August, Echoes of Grace is pausing, taking its annual vacation. It will be a time of simple living, of focusing my attention on God and experiencing his gaze on me. It will be sleep-in days, reading days, hiking days, Scrabble nights or movie nights with Bill. 

Echoes of Grace will return September 1.

And it is returning with a SURPRISE! There will be hints during the month of August.
So check in each Thursday, so you won't miss anything.

See you in September,

"He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name's sake."
Psalm 23:3b

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Neediness ... Weakness?

Have you seen this crazy movie? (You just learned my opinion.) Bob, Bill Murray, is pictured above with his therapist, played by Richard Dreyfuss. Bob is neurotic, phobic, obsessive-compulsive, and much more - majorly needy!  Not literally, but inside crying for attention.

Do you ever have Bob-moments? 
What is the path they lead you down?

            N - an accurate word picture.

Bob experiences attention deficit that he tries to fill with the wisdom of a professional; neediness exudes. Some see, and Bob feels, weakness.

Our needs are NOT weaknesses.

"It is the nature of the soul to need." Soul Keeping, p.81. 
God created us with needs so He can be our provider, so He can meet those needs. My friend, Bill Thrall says it this way, "Love is the process of meeting needs." 

Needs invite us to experience God more deeply.

Needs are not weaknesses; they are opportunities to receive and experience love, the love of God and the love of others.

We all came into this world with a Bob complex, with the need for attention ... among other needs. When I admit it, I have the opportunity to deepen relationships. Needing attention is not a weakness.

As a young wife and full-time missionary, I didn't get this. Yes, I knew I wanted attention, but if I had been brave enough to voice that, I would have learned I was seeking the attention in all the wrong ways. I thought wanting attention showed neediness, weakness, and I sure didn't want to own those descriptors. My self-esteem suffered, I began to believe lies like I'm not good enough. SHAME! It never, NEVER occurred to me to take my neediness, my desire for attention to God. 

I'm discovering that my attention needs are met in relationship, relationship with God and relationship with others.

God created me; he knows me and the needs he put in me to draw me to him. When I pay attention and listen to the words he whispers to me, I experience his attention; his love. 

I was sitting on a sofa in front of the quiet fire reading one of Brennan Manning's books early one spring day. As I turned to the new chapter, Brennan opened with Song of Solomon 7:10, "I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me." In those few words God's love exploded in my heart; I experienced his attention! I knew he called me beloved, but the thought that he had desires for me, WOW, that was overwhelming. And if God is for me, who can be against me? God gives attention by paying attention to the details, the desires of my life. In receiving his attention, I receive his love.

Often God meets the needs I have for attention through others, like my husband. Unlike God, he is not all-knowing. Sometimes I initiate and share my attention needs with him. In doing that I give him permission to meet those needs. And I experience his love.Sometimes I don't and the downward path begins. I experienced God meeting that need through Bill earlier this month when he publicly shared how I met one of his needs. It was humbling and affirming; God met that need through Bill.

 On Sunday mornings, our pastor often brings our time of worship to a close with the familiar words from Numbers 6:24-26, "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."

As I look down the pew, many are standing with hands uplifted. We want to receive this blessing.

The pronouns in this scripture are all personal. This is a blessing for us individually. And an accurate picture of this verse is of God stopping in front of you, focusing his eyes on yours, giving you his full, undivided attention, and offering his peace. Shalom, the most positive words he can offer for our well-being.

My need for attention is not weakness; it is an opportunity to experience the love of God.

How about you ... are you allowing God to meet your needs? To show you his personal love?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bordered By Love

I have a special treat for you this Thursday.

Please meet my good friend and writing mentor Amy Nowak. Her creative word-weaving and winsome story-telling draw you in and gently communicate truth.

In this post, you'll likely learn a bit about the history of our nation which Amy uses to lead into a piece of her history and led me to remember a scary story from my history - the day I thought I lost my GRAND. But more importantly, this all connects to us and our sometimes reality. You can find her words here.

At the bottom, Amy shares a book that has been meaningful to her. Perhaps it would be for you as well.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Questions Begetting Questions

YES! NOOOO! Maybe???? I just don't know.

Two months ago the email landed in my inbox. With one mindless click on the senders name I needed to think about something I didn't know existed. I was invited to consider joining the group of shepherds in our Sunday school community. Invited. This invitation was not the easy type, not the quick response type. It required more information, prayer, and reflecting on the questions this invitation surfaced.

I guess age doesn't make it easier.

The question, the invitation, begged more questions. I needed to allow myself to back up and view it not as an easy yes-no option, but in light of what I've been hearing from God. 

"keep yourselves in the love of God,"
Jude 21

My mind has been swirling around God's personal, Sue-shaped love. The words of Ephesians 1:5, "In love he predestined us for adoption according to the purpose of his will." My life has purpose and it is soaked in his love for me. I want to follow Jude's admonition and keep myself cradled in God's love.

I glance over my shoulder at the path God has had me on. 
I look ahead and ponder what trust would look like in this situation.
I focus on who God says I am ... His beloved child. 
I ask ...

How does this opportunity help me to stay in God's love?
What does staying (keeping myself) in his love look like?
Will this allow me to live out of my identity as God's beloved child or be another hat to squeeze onto the hall hat tree?
Is this a people-pleasing opportunity or a God-trusting opportunity? Or both?
Who are my closest allies who might speak wisdom to me? What are they saying?
Does this opportunity fit with my values?
What is my spiritual journey needing at this juncture? Would this opportunity feed that or starve it?
Will I be able to live from my giftedness?
Will this enhance who I am?
What else does God want me to be asking?

As I sit in quiet and ponder questions like these, seeking God's guidance, I find myself experiencing peace. I find myself melting into obedience. And a light bulb goes on; I discover the answer. 

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, 
who gives generously to all without reproach, 
and it will be given him."
James 1:5

Thursday, June 30, 2016

An Invitation - An Advertisement

"Humility is trusting God and others with me."

Three years ago the invitation arrived. Sue, we'd like you to be part of the beta group for the brand-spanking new High Trust Leadership Certificate. 

Interesting ... I'd been asking God, what are my next steps for spiritual growth. Not only asking, but researching, lots of researching; praying, lots of praying; and seeking counsel from many others. 

Honored, surprised, and neutral. My neutrality surprised me too.

But I took the plunge, paid the money, signed up ... still neutral. Was the HTLC the answer to my prayers?


"In a community of grace, who I am in God's eyes is not questioned --
it is affirmed."

The online course started in January. Placed in a cohort with a few other new-to-me women, we started the journey together. Communicating on the online news feed gave us glimpses into the lives of each other. Sharing how we met God through the bi-weekly exercises deepened our new friendships. Truly, I have never participated in any other small group where the depth of vulnerability and humility was so well lived. Even though we never met in person, I know our friendships are life-long. 

God opened my heart in new ways as I viewed the weekly videos teaching the Bible through the lens of grace. Transformation was happening - a new Sue was emerging.

"Understanding who I am is virtually impossible
 without interacting meaningfully with others."

Now I'm inviting you to share this journey with me.  
The next course starts August 1.

In the words of Trueface Ministries who sponsor this opportunity ...

Grace can only be experienced in relationship, ... We have designed tools to help create and accelerate relationships of trust for you, because without trust: 
  •   I cannot experience love
  •   I cannot experience truth
  •   I cannot have relationship with God or man
We cannot be High Trust Leaders who build High Trust Environments without personally risking trust with people.
To learn more about the HTLC and experience a sample of the course, visit I also encourage you to watch this youtube video. The Two Roads represent choices we make every day, and reveal to us our understanding of grace.

Please, let me know of your interest. I want to share a few more details with you.

"The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him."
Psalm 92:12-15

The quotes sprinkled throughout this post are all copyrighted by Trueface.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Privacy Behind the Hedge

Water is scarce in Colorado. And I love water. I love the waves of the oceans crashing onto the shore; I love the quiet of lakes nestled among trees; I love the sound of water careening over the rocks of the rivers. 

"He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul."
Psalm 23:2b, 3a

Not all water is still, but for me all water restores. Ahhhh. Did I say I LOVE water?! Even listening to the small fountain off the edge of our deck is a bonus these summer mornings.
Last week I headed to a small man-made lake, a beautiful spot on the south of town. Armed with my coffee, my Bible, my journal, and my camera, I was ready for a time of listening to God. The day was
warm, blue, and cloudless. Perfect! I found an empty bench at the edge of the lake and settled in. These Ducks (hoping for a hand-out) kept me company bobbing up and down as the breeze ruffled their watery perch. They made me smile.

Occasionally someone passed by - morning exercisers, or strolling with their baby, or talking with a friend. Some greeted me, some didn't. 

When the sun climbed higher in the sky, I moved in search of shade. And I found the perfect spot behind the hedge. 

My view of the lake was not as clear, but the privacy was wonderful. Hidden behind the hedge, those exercisers, mamas, and friends passed unaware of my presence a mere few feet away. 

I soaked in the words of Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church. I journaled. I talked with God - silently, I wasn't all that far from people. It was good.

And I learned something ...

You might remember my post last September entitled The Message of The Picnics. I spoke of how beauty and quiet were key ingredients for me to restore my soul. In my mind water was another ingredient. And it is. But I learned that even more important is a place, a space to be with God that is alone. That's what the hedge offered me last week. 

What about you ...
What are the necessary ingredients to restore your soul?
Where are the places, the spaces that create the perfect environment for you?

"Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear that your soul may live;"
Isaiah 55:3a


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Here She is To Save the Day - NOT!

A superhero, I'm not! Thank you to my friend Lisa Anderson for her insightful words the week I stepped on the plane to visit Mom. It was the first of several grace-sightings I experienced while there.

Mom is 96 and lives in her home of 55 years - by herself for the past 19. She is an amazing woman who loves her 2-story home, loves having her daughters visit, loves puttering in the yard, loves her screened-in back porch, loves her freedom.

She doesn't move quite as quickly as she used to on the basketball court. Her hearing aids are a must. She swallows several pills a day. She sold her car.

She has her routine, the newspaper every morning after breakfast including doing the daily Bridge hand often beating the one who posts. She still manages her own finances and investments. Mom cooks for herself several times a week ... although we know she appreciates her breaks from that. She has her favorite TV shows.

I have much to be thankful for.

I also wonder. Is she safe? Is this home - that I love too - still the best place for her?

We disagree. Disagreements produce tension.

And I did NOT want tension on this visit!

I invited several friends to "come" with me, to pray for my time with Mom, and perhaps text a scripture that I can think on during the day. They "came"; it was a good week - not perfect but very encouraging. 

My grace-sightings continued beyond Lisa's words and the support of my friends. 

*The first day there, the Holy Spirit whispered, Sue, you don't have to win. I needed that.
Honor who Mom is and how she feels. We'll never agree on everything.

*My friend Kathy texted, I'm praying you will be a blessing to your Mom. Immediately Philippians 2:4 came to mind. It was a turning point that week.

*I thought about how she understands love. We spent much time just being with each other and chatting. (My knitting project appreciated that.)

*We talked about Psalm 23, her favorite scripture.
I've been pondering it since and the phrase, "I will fear no evil" (verse 4) has been ministering especially as I thought about all the care Mom's house needs and the care Mom could enjoy. My sister Sara who lives in the same town admonished, Sue, you just can't worry about it. She's right.

*I can't compare Mom to Kathy's Mom who still takes regular cruises with her family.
  I can't compare Mom to Carol's Mom who lives in the local Alzheimer's facility.
  I can't compare Mom to Mary's Mom who is the family prayer warrior.
  Kathy's Mom, Carol's Mom, Mary's Mom, and my Mom are God's unique creations even now
  living in their 90s in very different places; the perfect places for each. 

Several weeks previous to our visit, I read Proverbs 30:11, "... and do not bless their mothers." That day I started praying, God, what would it look like to bless Mom today even across the miles? Mom would agree this visit was a blessing.

"and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with faith and love that are in Christ."
I Timothy 1:14

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ever Green

We live in Black Forest, Black Forest Colorado that is.
Our neighbor's home burned to the ground.
Three Junes ago this very week wildfire threatened our forest consuming 14,000 acres of pines. Black sticks, once lovely Ponderosa Pines, a forever reminder. The 100 year fire left many of our roads including one we often drive a moonscape.

As I turn right onto our road, my breath catches, I inhale a deeply. The green still stands. Slowly I exhale and bow in awe. So very close!

Our road, our home, our view charred but spared.


Mana's Writing Room, the re-purposed bedroom on our main floor is my place. My desk, my computer, the bookshelves all claim their space. A writer can't write without tools. The pines close to the windows a piece of creation informing my creations.

My most essential piece of furniture, my comfy overstuffed chair is angled toward the triple windows framing those 80 year old Ponderosa Pines; tall, beautiful, cone-bearing evergreens. My fingers would never touch the keyboard if it wasn't for that comfy chair, the place where my writing begins.

One hundred miles south is our small cabin we call *The Sanctuary. It sits in an in-holding of the San Isabel National Forest. Evergreens abound.

Last week at The Sanctuary I sat in another overstuffed chair gazing out a sliding glass door at the cone-bearing Cedars and the Pines. The sky overcast; the temperatures more late fall the summer. The message the same.

Evergreens ever green. Small brown cones on some; others with cones encapsulating pine nuts we  harvest in season, the fall.

"They still bear fruit in old age;" 
Psalm 92:14

God's creation picturing my heart - to still bear fruit in old age.

"The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the LORD: they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him."
Psalm 92:12-15 

What atmosphere fuels your creativity?
What are your pre-requisites?
What is your heart's desire?
How are you living that out?

* I penned my first poem at The Sanctuary. It carries an important message if you desire to stay ever green.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Red Hot Buttons

It happened again.

The old familiar cycle repeated itself A-GAIN!

So frustrating. Why can't I break this pattern?

The circumstances may be different; the contexts may be different; the pattern is the same.

Atychiphobia strikes again!

At least in my eyes.

Her husband commented to her, When we go to visit your family in the city, you always turn into a different person. I guess I'm not the only one.

A few months ago while visiting my extended family, it happened. That is sometimes fertile ground for my atychiphobia. But truly I've experienced many other contexts as well where my victim-hood shines, I'm not good enough.

Over the years I've tried different methods to reach my good enough goal. What outfit might be just right for this occasion? How should I style my hair? What thoughts should I offer for this dilemma - what would sound really wise? 

It boils down to people pleasing, and the cycle begins.

It starts with this unhealthy self thought, I'm not good enough. This is the fuel the feeds the cycle.
But I can handle this, I think. I review Psalm 139, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." (verse 14)

But even that truth is not quite enough.

I hide my feelings and paste on a smile.

I take cover away from others trying to erase my reality and protect myself.

These resistance techniques are digging me deeper into despair.

Now I'm tempted to act out, No, I DON'T want to go shopping with you. No, I DON'T want to go to that meeting.
I justify that decision. I need time and space to lick my wounds.

Blame is easy, they really don't know me and my opinions are not important to them anyway.

The shame sets in. I'm a mature woman. I should know better than to be acting so foolish.

Truly I'm not good enough. 

My hope that it will ever change vaporizes.

And round and round the cycle I go.

David's cry in Psalm 30:2 gave me words, "O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me." I prayed for God to heal ... or at least give relief from this damaging cycle. Hope begins to surface. Awareness is huge.

1. Remember and review my primary identity, the beloved child of God. Be on the offense.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us ...
called children of God ... exactly who we are."
I John 3:1, The Message

2. Remember and review God's personal whispers to me concerning atychiphobia. Be on the defense.

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you."
Jeremiah 1:5

3. Be humble enough to invite my community, a few trusted friends to 'come with me', when I know atychiphobia could be knocking at my door. Ask them to pray; ask them to text scriptures. 

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin."
I John 1:7

"Therefore confess your sins to one another
and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power and is working."
James 5:16

I'm thinking, this is the way of escape.

"Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful,
and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,
but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape,
that you may be able to endure it."
I Corinthians 10:12, 13 (bolding mine)

Reviewing truth, walking in the light, inviting community - these are life-giving principles to overcoming atychiphobia. 

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,
but of power, love, and self-discipline."
II Timothy 1:7 NLT 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Three Ways Hurry Hurts Me ... and You!

Memorial Day - the first picnic and parade and celebration of summer. Enjoy.

Summer is the beginning of a different schedule for Bill and me. Since I was 5 years old, my calendar rotated with the traditional school year.

Summer always brought a slower pace, a time for family, a time for camping, a time for rejuvenation.

Three Ways Hurry Hurts Me…and You!

Performance driven Christians live in a continual state of anxiety and fear. How? By hurrying. We have so much to accomplish so God is pleased with us we push the accelerator to the floor. We live by the lie that busyness equals importance…that my accomplishments create my identity and my value to God lies in my usefulness.
I learned the hard way the destructiveness of busyness. Here are three lessons living at warp speed taught me. I have more I will share later.
  • Busyness is the enemy of my soul. Lance Witt says, “You can’t live life at warp speed without warping your soul.” Not only do I desperately need time with God, Jesus wants time with me. He tells me he no longer knows me as his servant, but as his friend. He has made a fire on the beach and wants me to come sit with him (John 21), and just “Be still and know I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
  • Busyness is the enemy of friendship. Hurry always hurts relationships. Always. Hurry is a “Hi, how are you” without stopping where you are going. Hurry is texting while listening. Hurry is scheduling five minutes between appointments. It’s not building in a buffer to have time for people. It creates resentment. It demeans and hurts. Hurry believes there is no meaning in the present, only in the next thing I have to do for God.
  • Busyness is the enemy of love. A common closing blessing in many churches is taken from Numbers 6:26, “The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” This means he takes time to stop and look right at us…full in the face. He takes time to pay attention…to our joys, our hurts, our concerns, our anxieties. In His stopping we know we are important – we are loved…and in His stopping we find peace.
“God takes the time to do everything right – everything” (Isaiah 30:18, The Message). May we do the same.

QUESTION: Where do you need to slow down? How will you do that? Is there someone you need to turn your face toward?

ACTIONS: Become a part of our blog family and become a subscriber – it will help you slow down. Then share this with a busy friend.

NEW!  Starting this coming Monday, visit my “Monday Quotes” page. I’ll share with you the best of the best quotes I have journaled over the years that help me live in the freedom of the gospel and that I regularly take time to review.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

He Holds My Hand

2016 opened a new chapter of my journey. Friend after friend after friend met Jesus face to face. My wonderings, my curiosity, my trust about heaven was stirred, a good thing.

Jerry Bridges titled his memoir, God Took Me By the Hand. Apt words for me as I've pondered familiar scriptures expanding my thoughts of heaven.

I'm overwhelmed a-GAIN by the love of God

His nickname is Doubting Thomas. His faith challenged when his friends tell him they have seen Jesus after the resurrection. He retorts, "I won't believe unless I see the nail wounds in his hands ..." John 20:25 NLT

Jesus submits to his request.

Jesus has visible wounds AFTER his resurrection! Doesn't the Bible teach that our resurrected bodies will be new, whole, healed, well? It appears Jesus is an exception.

Wayne Grudem in Systematic Theology says, "The scars from Jesus' crucifixion are unique ...The fact that he retains those scars does not necessarily mean that we shall retain ours" page 616.

I wonder, if Thomas was the only one to ever want proof of Jesus' crucifixion by seeing the scars, would those scars have remained just for Thomas?

Yet those scars testify to us as well of God's amazing love, love big enough to send his son to the cross so we could have a relationship with him.

Inner Renewal

My friend Larry met his Savior face to face on March 6. As a result of a horrendous car accident 39 years ago, Larry suffered a closed head injury that defined the rest of his days. Although his physical capacity (his outer self) was forever changed, it was obvious that his inner self was the same and being renewed. He loved God and his family and because of the few words he spoke, I believe he knew God loved him, his inner self not hampered by his broken body.

II Corinthians 4:16, 17, "... though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Jesus never leaves us ... He takes us by our hand

Psalm 23:4 speaks of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Physical death, our doorway to heaven. The Psalmist declares, "I will fear no evil," Why? "Because you (God) are with me."

Hebrews 13:5 referencing Joshua 1:5, "I will never leave you ..."

God never ever leaves His beloved children! Never!

In the opening verses of John 14, Jesus tells us that he is preparing a place for us in his Father's house. When that place is prepared he will personally escort us there. (verse 4)

Even in those moments as we pass from our earthly life, Jesus has our hand. Never are we away from his presence.

"Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you blameless
before the presence of his glory with great joy,
Jude 24

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Forgiveness and the Child of God

(The sentence I cannot agree with in the above quote is "the forgiving free spirit of children is our true nature." If it said that forgiveness is part of our nature as children of God then I would agree.)

It happened in the '80s. I remember the feelings it conjured up as if it were yesterday. We carpooled together, my friend and I, their two daughters, our two sons. Most of the time without incident.

But then there was this one day, and one disagreement leaving two estranged friends. Oh, it takes so little.

I laid on my bed and sobbed. She was a good friend; friendship is important to me. But I couldn't get past the hurt. Left up to myself, the pit was too deep.

Thankfully, God did not leave me up to myself. He brought another along side; another who was un-involved; another who loved enough to get involved and lead me to truth. This time it was my husband.

Sue, is this hard worth losing your friend over? His simple nine word question was the beginning of the turn.

Finally, repentance came, forgiveness happened, and a friendship was restored.

Why is it so hard to repent and forgive?

My identity is at stake. Is this how a child of God behaves? My behavior and my incorrect theology are in conflict. As a beloved child of God, I still sin.

Pride. Repentance calls for me to agree with God for my piece of this mess. Asking forgiveness puts me at the mercy of the other. I forfeit control to God and my friend - that calls for humility.

Fear. that my asking for forgiveness will not cure the issue. What if this wrong is held over my head? Will this incident always defines our friendship?

Shame. Admitting my wrong means to admit something is wrong in my thinking or in my perspective. Is our friendship worth being the wrong one?

Stubbornness. Faulty thinking gets faultier and faultier the more I try to make it look different.

Trust. In my pride, my fears, my shame, and my stubbornness the common thread is I am not trusting God!
    And the question became, how can I invite God in and trust him with this mess?


"O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you."
Psalm 69:8

Author and blogger, Ed Cyzewski writes, 

"Perhaps this Psalm comes as bad news to some. Some may read this as a kind of “surveillance God” peering into our lives, seeking any kind fault or reason for judgment or exclusion.

However, what if God’s awareness of our hidden faults is the best kind of good news, the good news we all need. Jesus spoke of himself as a doctor who has come to heal, and the prophets are filled with accounts of God mourning that Israel will not turn back to him.

What if God is a lover who sees our foolishness and faults and still remains enamored with us? God sees our secret sins and wants nothing more than our healing and redemption.

There is grace and mercy for us before we even acknowledge our failings. In many ways, confession is more for us than it is for God. Confession convinces us that God has known who and what we are all along and still wants to call us his beloved."

Me and my good friend Barb, April 2016.

"Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."
James 5:16

Thursday, May 5, 2016

My Mother's Heart

Mom and Me, May 2016

Views in Mom's neighborhood
 My Mother's Heart knows no age,
Inside she's still the same.
Her 96 years may show their ware,
But who she is does not change.
Mom loves her daughters, all 4 of us,
And wants the best for each.
She still wants to spoil; she still wants to treat,
Her strengths even stronger through the years.
As Mother's Day comes again this May,
I pause and ponder in wonder ...
My Mom is special.
My Mom is unique.
She lives who God created her to be.
So, Mom my prayer for you these days
is summed up in Moses's words ...
"May the LORD bless you
and protect you.
May the LORD smile on you
and be gracious to you.
May the LORD show you his favor 
and give you his peace."
Numbers 6:24-26, NLT 

My personal favorite

Barbara, me, Sara, Mom, Penny


Thursday, April 28, 2016

One-Upping and The Gospel of Grace

My friend Carolyn
Welcome to a special Echoes of Grace. My friend Carolyn Eden and I collaborated on this post.Thank you Carolyn.

And thank you to Julie Breuninger and her words in Velvet Ashes on one-up-man-ship that stretched my understanding of this concept. 

Our words were friendly enough.
The conversation flowed easily - perhaps too easily.
It was subtle; not until I left and thought about it did I realize the one-upping.

An opportunity to affirm turned to competition. Woe to me!

(Not the real conversation, but similar. You'll get the gist).
Hey Carolyn, thank you for dropping this off at church for me today.
No problem. I'm going to an important leadership meeting anyway.
I'd do it myself, but I need to bring lunch to Sandy.
I'm busy too. My year end Bible study brunch is this week. Twelve ladies is a squeeze even in my dining room.
Oh, and I was asked to help with a reception at church on Saturday. It was already a full weekend, but ...
We're hosting a missionary couple who are coming to town. They always stay with us. Clean the guest room again!

One-up-man-ship - the art or practice of outdoing or keeping one step ahead
of a friend or competitor. 
Do you see what is happening in the above exchange? We both are set on being the important one. The conversation overflowed with one-upping. We were not trusting Proverbs 11:25, "Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered." When I bless, God is able to enrich. One-upping not necessary.

This imaginary conversation could have been true. Both of us are committed to our friends and our local church. Both of us have strengths in hospitality and keep our guest rooms ready and clean towels in the bathroom.

Because we have much in common, we are more susceptible to one-upping.

Stewarding our gifting in serving ... even with words ...  is living God's grace. Thank you Peter for that reminder. I Peter 4:10.

Instead the conversation highlighted our insecurities. We spoke as though our involvements equaled our significance. NOT TRUE!

We needed  to cast our gaze on God to affirm our significance, the very significance he created in us, but we were silently begging the other to notice and affirm. BAD IDEA!

The unspoken desire actually accomplished the opposite - igniting the neediness of the other.

Paul reminds of the words of Jesus, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."  Acts 20:35. Most often I hear this reminder in terms of monetary giving. But could it not also refer to the giving of words of blessing and encouragement?
We don't need to one-up to prove our worthiness
or highlight our significance.
We were significant enough for Jesus to go to the cross for us.

And because of the cross, "Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand ..." Romans 5:2. 

"When I am living in God's grace,
I receive all the validation I need from Him."
Julie Breuninger 

Our listening was thwarted. Instead of blessing the serving of the other, we felt the need to insert ourselves into the story and be the important one.

We were acting as though our reputation was at stake in our doings. 

Our reputation is God's responsibility. Our part is to live out who God created us to be. Perhaps we were doing that with our serving and our hospitality. But the emphasis in our words highlighted the one-upping.

Do you hear the pride? Reading even the pretend responses was mortifying!

God exhorts through Peter to humble ourselves and allow Him to exalt. Never are we called to exalt ourselves. I Peter 5:8. One-upping is exalting self.

"If you want to really experience the flow of love as never before,
the next time you are in a competitive situation,
pray that the other around you will be more outstanding, more praised, and
more used of God than yourself."
Dallas Willard

"Grace liberates us to serve one another without the burden of competitiveness."
Julie Breuninger 

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up ..."
I Thessalonians 5:11

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, 
but in humility count others more significant than yourselves."
Philippians 2:3 

When do you find yourself vulnerable to one-upping?
What helps you experience God meeting your significance needs?
What does living in the environment of grace look like for you?


Thursday, April 21, 2016

David's Story

My friend David is one of the directors of the Certificate in High Trust Leadership. CHTL is an online course for which it is my great privilege to be an adjunct faculty. I invited him to share part of his story on Echoes this week. Thank you, David.

You'll be so glad you invested 5 minutes and 54 seconds to watch this video.

Are you interested in living in the freedom of applied grace? I think this is one of the best definitions of CHTL

"Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand ..."
Romans 5:2

Grace is more than a doctrine, it is an environment in which we stand, in which we can live.
Men are welcome too.
In this graduate level course, you are exposed to excellent teaching videos covering blocks of scripture helping you learn how grace works; regular exercises putting these principles into practice leading you to an increased ability to apply grace in all your relationships; stories (like David's) and practical illustrations enhance it all. I encourage you  to check out the CHTL link above.
The next course starts in August. And YOU are invited. The value is both in the content and in the
interaction with the others in your cohort.
What questions do you have?
I'd love to talk.  sue