Tag Archives: faith

Cactus Underwear or Cascade Mountain Lake?



A very wise man, Dennis Prager, has said that the most grateful people are the happiest people.

And even though Dennis Prager is not a Christian (he is Jewish), he adheres to the biblical theology that people are made in God’s image, made for His purposes, to reflect Him in all we say and do.

The Bible is filled with accounts of God’s people singing, dancing, playing on lovely and loud instruments, verbalizing their praises in both speech and song to God.

Praise Him, all ye little Children

Because gratitude, rightly understood, involves thanking someone outside of ourselves, it lifts our minds and hearts away from our poor, poor selves, and focuses it on someone else, on the giver of the gift, even if temporarily.

Gratitude is an outpouring of faith. Without faith, it is almost impossible to thank God for hard times. Because faith says: “God, I don’t understand, but whatever comes my way I will trust you, because I know you are in control and you are working out a greater plan for my life than I can imagine. Thank You.”

I’m a pretty thankful person, most of the time. Probably because, growing up, I didn’t have too much, I very much appreciated what I received. My parents weren’t wealthy, and I was well aware of their struggle to provide for us kids.

In my church and in my community I know both grateful and ungrateful people, and let me tell you, there is a huge difference between them. People who only focus on the negative things that happened to them in their day aren’t too pleasant to be around. These are often the same people who complain whenever something isn’t exactly what they want. Their attitude is ruled each day by what they did not get, what other people aren’t doing to please them, or how the weather or traffic conspired to cause them grief.

Do you know people like that? I do. Sometimes that person is me, temporarily.

But I try to get out of that attitude quickly, because it’s not a pleasant place to stay. It’s like living in cactus underwear. Prickly, scratchy, get-me-out-of-this! And who wants to be too near a cactus?

And, being an old woman now, I’ve come to know that my best days are the days when I’ve taken the time to get my eyes off myself, to look around and list the wonderful things I’ve been blessed with. I call days like this, “Cascade Mountain lake days.” Could anything be more lovely and inviting?


I recently purchased a sweet little journal called, “A Life of Gratitude.” The book, by Lori Roberts, takes you through daily written exercises where you list blessings, or positive thoughts, or beautiful things, etc. It’s not necessarily a Christian book, but since I am a Christian I prefer to do these exercises while lifting to God in gratitude each thought that I write down. After all:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James1:7, NIB Bible)


Here’s what I’m thankful for today: Jazz music woofs from the speakers down on the lowest level of the house. Because my loving husband is actually home this week, working in his office. He usually travels, but today he’s around. I’m thankful for him.


It was cold this morning. I slipped warm socks on my feet and marveled at how God constructed my size 6, double E width feet. How they take a daily pounding under my 125 pound frame, but they’re still ready to carry me on the next 10-mile hike.


It only takes seconds to notice something God has provided you, then utter an awed prayer of thanks to Him.

It’s a great habit to cultivate. And I mean to keep cultivating it each day.

“And whatever you do, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:17 NIV Bible)

Ten Reasons We Pray


Prayer is perhaps the most worshipful thing we do.

It says to God:

  1. “I look to You because I am Your child.”
  2. “I recognize that I am spiritually poor, unable to make a change in my heart, or the heart of another.”
  3. “I recognize my human physical frailty.”
  4. “You are the God who cares.”
  5. “You are great and good.”
  6. “You are all powerful, much more powerful than my enemies.”
  7. “You have a plan that is eternal, Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts.
  8. “I trust  You.”
  9. “I can approach You with my intercessions because of what Jesus did for me on the cross.”
  10. “I love You.”

We can depend on our Heavenly Father for His …






I love the Psalms. Many of them, written by King David, begin with a complaint or a plea for God’s help.

I love the Psalmist’s honesty. He does not couch his words with false piety. He states his problem, then calls on God to bring about justice.

I hope you read the following Psalm and reflect on it today. The key phrase for Psalm 43 is “put your hope in God.”

Psalm 43 (from the NIV Bible):

“Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men. You are God my stronghold. Have You rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, 0ppressed by the enemy?

Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.

I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed with me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

If that’s not worship, I don’t know what is!

Get The Bleep Outta Here!


I really didn’t think it would bother me. I’ve had many medical tests. I’ve been poked, manipulated, sutured, tractioned, specimen-ed, stuck with needles—and nearly bled dry.

No sweat. I’ve even had an MRI before.

But Monday afternoon, as I drove to the imaging center for my neck MRI, old conversations with friends rumbled around my brain:

“It was just awful.”

“I felt like I was being buried alive.”

“I had to be sedated ’cause I’ve got claustrophobia.”

Of, piffle. That’s just silly.  I don’t have claustrophobia. I’ve got other irrational fears, but not fear of tight spaces.

But after I donned my scrubs and positioned myself on the sliding “tray,” a bit of anxiety spread through my torso.

“The test will take about twenty minutes,” the technician informed. She handed me the panic bulb, just in case. “You okay?”

I smiled and gave her a thumbs up. “No problem.” The technician snugged the shoulder stabilizers… “so your body doesn’t move.” Doesn’t move?!

Then she placed a neck stabilizer…so my head would stay absolutely still. Lastly, the headphones because the MRI sounds are so loud they could “potentially cause hearing loss. Want some music through the headphones?”

“Sure.” My voice came out kind of shaky. “I’d love some jazz.” How nice to drown out the MRI sounds by soothing jazz, I thought.

The tray move backward into the narrow crevasse. I closed my eyes. No way was I going to stare at a ceiling only two inches from my face.

“HMMM, BZZZ,” said the monster that had swallowed me, merely warming up.

Please give me the jazz, just gimme the jazz, I pleaded silently.

The MRI machine started to make its awful noises, and I listened in vain for any soothing jazz. After about five minutes, the technician’s voice came through the headphones. “How’s that music?”

Music? What music? “Uh, could you turn it up a bit?”

“Sure thing.” A faint saxophone melody burbled intermittently, vastly overwhelmed by the MRI pounding, rattling, and buzzing.

My neck and head vibrated as if I’d been attached to giant woofers and tweeters.

My heart pounded, my breathing came in little gasps, my arms tingled and my mouth grew numb. Now, stop that, I admonished myself.  Breathe slowly.  In, two, three, four. Out, two, three, four. In, two three, four…

Years ago, my husband and I and our two little boys played at a state park in New Hampshire. One of the activities to try was squeezing under and around giant boulders.

Squeeze. No, don’t think about that.  

Breathe, two three, four.  Out, two, three, four.

“Seven more minutes,” the technician encouraged. “Make sure you remain still.”

Seven more minutes to fight the battle with unreasoning fear. You big baby. Buck up! This is a test. This is only a test. Keep your eyes closed.

Finally, the MRI finished and the nice lady resurrected me from my tomb. I almost said, “Don’t I get a sucker?”

Driving home, I marveled at the wonders of the brain. We have this primitive part that responds to stimuli and warns us to “get the bleep outta here.”

Then we have this nice, civilized part that says, “Chill out, Mate. What you see and hear isn’t necessarily the reality.”

That’s what had nearly overtaken me inside the MRI machine. Primitive, unreasoning fear spread adrenaline throughout my body. My heart beat fast, my breathing got erratic, my arms tingled.

Then my reasoning brain spoke, “You’re cool. This isn’t a big boulder in New Hampshire. It’s all under control.

But even though the rational part of my brain reigned, I still had to fight the little insurrections launched by the other brain.

It made me think of the verse in the Bible, “We live by faith and not by sight.”(2 Cor. 5:7)

In our spiritual lives, as well, we fight the battle every day: what my eyes see tell me to respond accordingly. My primitive, natural inclinations  urge me to be petty, spiteful, bitter, vengeful, prideful, grudge-holding?

But, by faith, the loftier Mind of God, whispers, “listen to my words instead.”

Like the panic-inducing experience in the MRI machine, it is a constant struggle to choose to respond to God’s Word and not my primitive mind.

Thank God, like the MRI, the struggle will be over one day!







My heart is breaking. There isn’t much that I can say at this point about my daughter’s illness except that she is in the ICU.

Thursday is my usual day for blogging about spiritual issues.

But I don’t think I IMG_0661can do it. All I can think of is my precious grown daughter, hooked up to monitors, an IV tube dripping glucose and maybe some helpful drugs into her system.

What do you do when your heart is breaking?

You scream, you weep, you try to reason with God.

You acknowledge your complete helpless and utter dependence on God.

Why don’t you heal my daughter? Why does it have to be like this? God, are You even listening?

I’m so hurt, so scared, so angry, so desperate.

Why God? Why God? Why God?

Help her. Help me.

Then the Lord reminds me that:

  • This is an evil world. Jesus said, “in this world you will have trouble”
  • “I (Jesus) have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • Always keep on praying. Eph. 6:1
  • “He  (Jesus) will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev. 21: 4

I hold onto these words because in them are God’s love in His offering of life and hope. And faith.

Curious, that just a few weeks ago I chose these very words to adorn the bulletin board above my office desk:

Faith, Hope, and Love.

Was God preparing me to receive the kind of news that puts a chill in every parent’s heart?

He’s calling me to have faith in Him, that nothing is beyond His power or His notice. That He is indeed good beyond measure, and faithful and true.

He’s calling me to pray without ceasing. He’s calling me to praise Him even when I can’t see how my daughter’s illness could possibly be a good thing.

I will continue to trust Him because I’ve experienced His faithfulness for 62 years.

And His faithfulness does not merely extend to our short stint on this earth. His plans for me and for you are for our eternal good.

Pray for my daughter, please!



Great Expectations

For years, I used to have this recurring dream:

We buy a house. It’s a simple, middle class house. Perhaps three bedrooms, an average sized living room, kitchen, dining room, baths. Mediocre. Nothing grand or thrilling about the place.

After we’ve moved in, I notice a door at the end of the living room. (It’s always the living room.)

No one else seems to have noticed this door, so I go to explore. I open the door and discover a large room—like palace sized—opulently furnished and decorated. Wow, I marvel, how come we didn’t know this room was part of the property?

Then I notice another door at the far end of this palatial room. Intrigued, I go to explore again. When I open this second door, I discovery, to my delight, another wonderful room, with hallways spreading out in all directions, each leading to more lovely, ornate rooms.

How could this be so? We bought what we thought was a typical house in a typical neighborhood. Surely the sellers would have sold the house for much more than we paid for it if they had known what they had.

Or maybe the sellers knew all along. Maybe this magical house is a special gift.

I haven’t had the recurring dream in several years now. Psychologists and dream interpreters could probably tell me what the dream signifies.

But I prefer to believe my own interpretation:

I come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I place my trust in Him and begin a walk of simple faith, living in a modest “house” which I believe encapsulates the whole of the life I imagined within His Kingdom.

But, after a short time, God begins to show me things I never could have dreamed or imagined would be part of my inheritance as a child of God.

Simply overwhelming. I could not see how wondrous this new dwelling place of faith was when I stood on the outside, looking in.

And, even after I moved in, the walls of this simple place seemed secure, but limited.

As a new child of the faith, I could not conceive of the magnitude of God’s gift to me.

Yet, each new royal room that I discover shows me that the splendor of my inheritance expands exponentially. And never ends. God keeps on giving and giving.

My modest little house expressed how I viewed God: limited, not that big, stingy, holding back on the richest of His blessings (because I don’t deserve them.)

My “house” continues to grow as I learn just how big my God is, and how generous He is.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14: 2 NIV Bible)