All Things New…

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…       Phil 1:6

Isn’t that a beautiful promise?  It’s practical, it’s encouraging, it’s good news. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion: Conclusion. Closure. Attainment. Culmination. Finalization. Perfection. That has always been one of my favorite “go to” verses when I didn’t feel like I was doing, performing, or being good enough…when I had messed up, gotten discouraged, or felt hopelessly flawed. Fittingly, it’s also the motivational opening verse in the introduction of Elisa Pulliam’s newest release “Meet the New You.” *

 I recently joined the launch team for the book release, but didn’t initially make the connection that “The New You” would be released just in time for the new year.img_8161 Can you think of a more appropriate title to wave like a banner over the first day of the new year? New Year: New You. Popular circles, headlines, and social media are all ablaze with talk about resolutions, words for the year, new choices, and various lifestyles that focus on self-improvement, accomplishment, or personal satisfaction. How many fitness clubs are bustling with new members who pledge their commitments to better discipline and habits? At least for  a little while. How many bookstores offer stacks and displays that encourage better or trendy lifestyles and practices? Or at least offer to take up room on your already crowded bookshelf?


“Real change happens when you start embracing fresh attitudes and focused habits, all in light of God’s grace and truth.” (Elisa Pulliam)

When I decided to read “Meet the New You,” it wasn’t necessarily because I felt stuck or discouraged. It wasn’t even that I disliked or disapproved of the old me. I think it was the subtitle that caught my eye and encouraged me to dig in with pen, paper, and bible in hand: “A 21-Day Plan for Embracing Fresh Attitudes and Focused Habits for Real Life Change.” Fresh? Focused? Count me in! All accomplished in a concise 21-day plan? Even better!

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  Isaiah 43:19

Do you not perceive it? How often do we not perceive what God has done or is doing in our lives? How do we so easily miss it? Are we distracted? Unaware? Opposed by life circumstances or an unseen enemy? Consumed by busyness, uncertainty, insecurity, or ambivalence?

How appropriate that the first section of the book is titled “A Fresh Awareness.”  I won’t outline the entire book, but in plotting the course the book would direct us, the author offers practical encouragement and suggestions:

  1. Seek the Lord for relevant, biblically sound solutions.
  2. Face the obstacles before you through the power of God at work in you.
  3. Discover your God given identity and wiring.
  4. Uncover the story God is writing through your life.
  5. Carve out a vision for your future based on God’s purposes for your life.    (Elisa Pulliam  #theNEWyou)

Those simple, specific words of instruction offer a framework, a point of reference, a compass as we walk into a new year. Notice the verbs: seek, face, discover, uncover, carve. They are active. They are intentional. Today is January 1, the first day of a new year. A blank page, an empty shelf, a fresh start. What will you write on the page, store on the shelf, or begin afresh and new? What will your journey and your story recount when you look back on the year from December 31st?



“Time will pass between your fingers and weave around every breath. You can’t stop it, grab it, or bottle it. But you can live purposefully in it.”  (Elisa Pulliam)



I don’t make traditional New Year’s resolutions, but I have purposely chosen a motivational word for 2016: a word to think about, focus on, engage, and actively pursue. That word: choose. I have chosen to choose. 🙂  I will choose to seek the Lord, choose to face the obstacles, choose to discover my God-given identity and wiring, choose to uncover the story God is writing in my life, and choose to carve out a vision based on his purposes for my life. In addition to those specific choices, I will also choose to see, choose to feel, choose to believe, choose to heal, choose to live, choose to love, choose to try, choose to pursue, choose to speak truth and encouragement, and choose to be a newer, more complete me. Happy New Year!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Cor 5:17








The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.    John 10:10

*   “Meet the New You” is written by Elisa Pulliam,  life coach, author, speaker, and ministry leader. You can visit Elisa at or



Toddler Jesus

‘Tis the season…

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulders. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace… Isaiah 9:6

I was recently blessed by the sights and sounds of the season as singing shepherds and wise men, toddling sheep and donkeys, and handcrafted garments and props presented the Christmas storyIMG_8042 in living color right before my wondering eyes. Dozens of voices sang and fingers signed the good news, heralding the announcement of the birth of Jesus.

Low in budget but rich in warmth, heart, and expression, the Advent message was presented as concisely and clearly as I’ve ever seen or heard. It wasn’t the lighting, the music, the stable, or the shining star of Bethlehem. It wasn’t the hand-sewn costumes, the fuzzy sheep, or the dynamic solos. Those were all great: well-presented, appropriate, and effective in painting a clear picture and promise of the IMG_8048coming Messiah. It wasn’t even in the plastic baby Jesus that sweet Mary, stroking his head and holding him close to her heart, lifted from the humble wooden manger. Fast forward past the angelic announcement, the trek to Bethlehem, the King-sized manger bed, and the humble shepherds’ visits. Fast forward to toddler Jesus:

Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end…

The lights in the center aisle shown on the faces and IMG_8038lit the paths of the wise old men of about  6-7 years old who had just received word of the long awaited Messiah. They journeyed the long aisle to the stage, front and center, where toddler Jesus stood waiting. His real name was Lincoln but for that few moments he was Jesus incarnate. Nestled between Mary and Joseph, he stood about three feet tall. His traditional robe hung loosely off his small frame and belted around his waist. From beneath his head covering, his eyes IMG_8049sparkled wide with wonder as he considered the gifts laid at his feet. His face, perfectly angelic, studied the young wise men. That was the moment that toddler Jesus became more tangibly real and larger than life. That was the moment his humanity shouted louder than his divinity. There, boldly noticeable from my third row seat, just below his left eye, toddler Jesus humbly wore a timeless mark of humanity and fragility: a cut just above his delicate cheek. A thin line, more than a simple scratch: tender, swollen, bruised. Toddler Jesus was hurt. My eyes fixed on Jesus but my mind fled to scripture.

The music, the celebration, and all the various sights and sounds faded into the background. Why now, in the midst of all the Advent promises that offered hope, joy, love, and peace, did one seemingly unrelated verse repeatedly echo in my ears?

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses.. 

Jesus had actually been a helpless baby and toddler. So obvious but so new to my mind. I had raised two toddlers. I had taught toddlers, examined toddlers, chased toddlers, wrestled with toddlers. I love toddlers. Toddlers are busy and active, exciting and inquisitive…often challenging. Jesus was a toddler who loved and laughed and ran and blessed and probably challenged. To deny it or to sanitize it is to lessen the truth of his humanity. Did He ever plant his foot in the dirt and sound off a resounding No! or Mine!? How did He feel about sharing his toys or his time in the workshop? Did He ever complain about chores? How did He act when He was hungry and tired? Did He cry easily or often? Did He run and play until He staggered or collapsed from exhaustion? Did He ever toddle too close to the fire? Cry from the unexpected pain of scraped knees or splinters in his tiny fingers? What was his favorite snack? What was his first word? Mama? Daddy? Abba?

…but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Hebrews 4:15

I didn’t ask Lincoln’s mom how he injured his face.IMG_8039 I doubt she was concerned about how he would look as toddler Jesus in the children’s program at the moment he actually  cut his face and blacked his eye. I imagine that she hugged him, calmed him, and was thankful that it wasn’t more serious. He is fine. He is active and healthy and perfect. But in that injury God gave me an image..a deeper realization. Maybe for the very first time, I saw his humanity as fragile. He hurt. He was bruised. He cried real tears and bled real blood. Yes, everyone knows that. It just looked very different on the face of a child.

A baby…a toddler…a carpenter…a shepherd…a king.

He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  Isaiah 9:7












When Holidays Hurt

I’ve been feeling it in the air for awhile now… Days are shorter, nights are longer. Skies are darker and breezes are colder. Changing seasons and impending holidays are often harsh, stinging reminders of loss and loneliness.

roomThe evening grows long as I look out across the waiting room and see the many sad or sick faces waiting patiently…or not. Some fidget, sigh, and look at invisible watches on their wrists. Some stare blankly into the unreachable distance or at the monotonous pattern of the enclosing four walls, perhaps replaying old scenes or longed-for visions. Some stare absently into their phones for distraction, relief, or escape. Still they wait. I know many of their stories before they utter a word. I know their history or I read their eyes. I watch their shoulders slump, their hands fidget, their lips frown or faintly quiver. I feel the weight and the want and the weariness.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” plays through christmasalonethe overhead speaker, piped in like a merry elf entertaining ideas of fun, frivolity, and lightheartedness, in denial of the pain, the longing, and the loss that the season brings to so many people.

The door opens and closes. Another name, another face, another story. There’s the familiar cloak of usual sickness: flu, sore throat, bumps, and bruises. Those are easy. Passing pain, sickness, or inconvenience that at least offers the hope of speedy relief and healing. But hanging heavy on the heads and shoulders of many are weightier garments: coverings made of death, disease, dysfunction. There’s divorce, abandonment, rejection, loss of dreams and other not-so-merry reminders in every piped in song, well-placed decoration, and carefully thought out department store diorama.

His wife was just found dead. Her husband lost a long battle with cancer. Children’s Services is involved. Her dad kicked her and told her not to tell. Her daughter has run away. Her son is in jail. It’s two weeks before Thanksgiving. He just lost his job. Their house burned to the ground. The Alzheimer’s is so much worse. Hospice has been called in.Third DUI. Arrested for heroin. Suicide. It’s almost Christmas.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   Matt 11:28

I’ve been told it’s like a walking a treadmill…walking and climbing and struggling but never getting anywhere. Three steps forward and two steps back.alone1 But still they put one foot in front of the other. Some days are harder. Holidays are harder: days meant to gather and celebrate with people you love and people who love you. A time to reflect on blessings and health, the past and the future. So much to celebrate and be thankful for. But there are some who sit in quiet rooms all alone. There are some who sit in loud, clamorous rooms with many others, but are still alone. There are some who sit facing those who have mistreated, rejected, abused, or betrayed them. There are some who sit facing empty chairs of those who have left them through death or abandonment.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matt 9:36

What does it look like to offer hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, compassion for the hurting,church1 and comfort for the grieving? Is there ministry in hearing, caring, and simply being present? What do you do when there’s no written prescription to ease the pain of heartbreak and loss and devastation? No first aid kit to stop the bleeding or cover the wound? No tender kiss to make it all better?

From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and weak; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  Psalm 61:2

It has been a slow, humbling process…the realization that I don’t have all the answers. The fixer in me can’t fix all the hurt, restore all the loss, patch all the holes, or fill the empty seats.  I can’t and I’m not meant to. And with that, another realization… that it’s okay. I don’t have to be the great fixer, the final answer, a redemptive savior. I can’t be.

But what can I do? What can anyone do to make a difference in stara world with so much hurt and loss and fear and hopelessness and uncertainty? Is it enough to have eyes that see and ears that hear? To give a gift that is both free and priceless: to be seen and heard, recognized, and acknowledged? Validated and assured that they matter, that their struggles are real, that their hearts and lives are important, that someone cares, and more importantly, that there is hope?  Yes, it matters. It all matters. I can be a hand to hold. I can choose to extend a hand that reaches, lifts, holds, supports, gives. A hand to guide, to direct, to point to the truth that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of a God that loves them and wants to fill the empty places and the empty seats. I can be a voice. A voice that speaks truth and dispels lies and speaks words of encouragement and validation. And I can just be. I can sit in the ashes, care in the silence, be light in the darkness, and warmth in the cold season of the soul. I can offer hope in the simple ministry of being present and attentive. I can care.

I can love. ❤



Books and Bombs

I like to read. And I like to write. IMG_7565So when I was offered an opportunity to read and review Elisa Pulliam’s soon to be released book, Meet the New You, I jumped on board expectantly and wholeheartedly.

But this is not a review. I actually haven’t started it yet…at least not on a page one, left to right continuum like a compliant, conformist reader. I did, however, skim the chapter titles, speed read the planner, and glance over pertinent quotes.

By ” pertinent quotes” I actually mean words that pierced the heart, stung the conscience, opened the eyes, and fell in my face like a cold, drenching rain. Why did I read those particular words on that specific day at the precise hard place I had just found myself sitting in anger and frustration? I don’t believe in coincidence, happenstance, or luck. I choose to see “coincidences” as divine appointments, purposeful encounters, connecting crossroads, or meaningful words and events in due season.

“Forgiveness Frees Us from the Chains of Pain”   -Elisa Pulliam

That was the first quotation from the book that jumped off the page and into my conscience. A few months ago I wrote a blog post about forgiveness…about turning the other cheek and going the extra mile. Back then it was merely a little obstacle, a tiny bump in the road, but the struggle this week had been chain2very different: deeper, more hurtful, less easily released. Okay…not released at all, but held firmly between fingers clinched so tightly, for so long, that I couldn’t remember how to open them. Just as old friends, old songs, and old photos often bring back the warmest feelings and happiest memories, old hurts and offenses are often embedded in the deepest, darkest places and forge the most pain, anger, and confusion. They inflict invisible wounds to the heart and soul.

This isn’t about confession. Or scandal. Or grungy details of sin or hurt or loss or betrayal. It’s just about humanity. About feeling. About living, loving, hating, and believing. It’s about guilt and regret and confusion and trying and succeeding and failing. About falling down and getting back up. It’s about emotion and expression and repression…and sometimes even a little regression. At its core, it’s about struggle and chains and wires and bombs…and freedom.

“Unforgiveness wires our soul to the past yet causes explosions in the present.”    -Elisa Pulliam

That was it! That one sentence explained the pressure that had been building in my mind and body until I thought I might explode. It was linked and wired and crisscrossed like a complex circuit board. Or maybe it was more like a pile of dynamite. I’ve heard that one potential sign of harboring unhealed hurts or unforgiveness is having an unusally tender spot that we hide and cover and push people away from. I’ve also heard it compared to a thorn that we adapt to, wrap scar tissue around, and sometimes forget it’s there…until someone or something touches it and then we recoil in pain, confusion, or shame. So…unforgiveness may manifest as a tender, unhealed wound? Makes sense. But a bomb?

This really isn’t all about me. I talk to lots of people. It’s what I do and I love it. But I frequently witness the consequences of unhealed hurts, repressed feelings, and unforgiveness. I counsel people who are confused about seemingly unexplainable anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, tension, and lashing out: “I just snap.” “I can’t control it.” “Something just comes over me.” Sometimes there really is no obvious present-day trigger. Sometimes it’s not situational or chemical or hormonal. Sometimes it seems as if a hidden remote control or detonator button is pushed and they have very little control.

But what is about me is this: I had a bad day. I snapped IMG_7563at someone for no legitimate reason. Snapped? Okay…I exploded all over someone. Not just any someone, but someone I have a long, deep, hard history with. I said very hurtful things…words and expressions and tones that I didn’t like and don’t typically use. It was hurtful. It was hateful. There was no love, no grace, no mercy. Truthfully, the worst was not even said to the person directly, but to the four walls of the room I retreated to as a private sanctuary…an asylum. But I heard my tone, my words, my intent, my heart. Who walked away with the greatest pain and regret? I have no doubt that I did. I was the bomb. Unresolved conflict was the detonator. Unforgiveness was the catalyst. Explosion was inevitable.

“It is only through forgiving others that we become unchained and able to really move on.”    -Elisa Pulliam

Does knowing that there’s a distant, remote trigger for what we say, do, or feel today make all the hurt, struggle, and guilt disappear? Probably not, but it does give IMG_7561more focus, direction and new weapons to engage in the battle. It’s difficult to fight an unknown, unnamed enemy. What will you call it? Anger? Hurt? Bitterness? Unforgiveness? By naming it, we see the potential battle lines, mine fields, and obstacles and will be better equipped to grab hold of a live wire and trace it back its point of origin and unplug it. Diffuse it. Disconnect it. Purposefully. Prayerfully. Vigilantly. Is it easy? No, but we walk it out one step, one breath at a time. Pray for wisdom, patience, guidance, discernment, and willingness. Pray, cry, talk to someone, learn and speak truth. Fall and then get back up. And be willing. Willing to love, willing to share, willing to forgive or at least willing to be willing to forgive. And then forgive. And forgive. And forgive. Forgive those who hurt you and forgive yourself. In doing these things, we snuff out one fuse, one fire at a time; and we snip one link in the chain….and then another, and another, until the chain snaps and falls and we are finally loosed.


“Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. Forgiving is about remembering and releasing.”   -Elisa Pulliam

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  -Jesus, John 8:36

For more information and encouragement, please visit  #theNEWyou

Swords, Shields, and Stretchers

It’s Thankful Thursday…actually it’s slow-down Sunday. 😉 There’s always so much to be thankful for… including the job, family, bible study, and busyness that demanded my time and attention on Thursday; so I’m taking the time today to be thankful and to reflect on a retreat I attended  a few weeks ago.

I don’t usually like women’s retreats. They can feel heavy, IMG_7279weighted, sad… Rehearsed or complicated. I’m not sure why, but I imagine drama, complaining, comparison, and superficial conversation. I expect everyone to smile and say they’re fine. I project answers assuring that their faith is strong, their walks are straight, their thoughts are pure, their pasts are blameless, and their kids don’t talk back.

But what happens when the masks come off, the pretense falls away, and the reality of struggle and pain and loss and abuse and addiction and lack of faith surge to the surface to gasp a drowning breath of air and hope?

“…we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.”  Heb 6:18

The evening started with anonymous hand-written words, two words, to describe the condition of our hearts as we pried ourselves away from routine, repetition, and responsibility to participate in a group that had the potential to be threatening and exposing, or accepting and healing. Some words were expected and encouraging: hopeful, excited, needs refreshing. Others were raw and revealing: sad, guarded, uncertain, unknown, vulnerable, needy, weary.


[weer-ee] adjective

  1. physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain, etc.; fatigued; tired
  2. impatient or dissatisfied with something.

“Weary” seemed to be the condition of most hearts. What an unexpected, yet IMG_7037eye-opening introduction to the weekend and to dozens of women I had never met. The honesty and admission of brokenness and need seemed to “level the playing field” and put us all on the same team. The theme of the weekend was hope: hope in the struggle and brokenness, hope in the shattered dreams and unmet expectations.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Heb 6:19

As the weekend unfolded, there were cleansing tears, IMG_7034joyous laughter, and reverent quiet; but also the realization and revelation of unmet expectations, hidden pain, and unresolved grief. There were testimonies of loneliness, sickness, struggle, and darkness, but ultimate victory and healing…at least the promise of ultimate victory and healing. There was hope, like an anchor…not preventing raging storms or rushing waters, but holding firm, steady, and secure in the midst of struggle, shattered dreams, grief, and unmet needs.

So why the title? What do swords, shields, and stretchers have to do with hope? A sword is a tool, a weapon…a symbol of power, justice, and authority. The sword of the Spirit is the word of God. The Truth. Is it possible to cling to hope in the midst of tragedy, brokenness, and unfulfilled longing if your life and beliefs are built on untruths and unknowns? Or do we construct a house of cards or a wobbly shack on shifting sands and live in fear of strong winds, unforeseen storms, and uncertainty? A question was offered to weary hearts late that evening: “Where does hope begin?” Two suggested answers:

  • Knowing we are loved and pursued
  • Confessing, coming before God in humility and naming what is true

“The truest thing about you is not your pain or your disappointment. The truest thing about you is who you are in relationship with Christ.”  Beth Wayland

IMG_7036Ultimately truth was proclaimed, eyes and ears were opened, and light was shed on who we are in Christ and in relation to one another. Honesty and transparency were modeled and encouraged. Walking and sharing and struggling together in community were presented as healthy and expected privileges and responsibilities of Christian life and sisterhood.

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Eph 6:16

Not sure how many times I heard the phrase “lock shields with one another.” It painted a picture of unity, of protection, of warfare, of standing side by side and fighting our battles together. Stories of deep roots, strong bonds, and unconditional love and support made me painfully aware of gaping holes in my self-built defenses and weak spots in relationships where I had failed to unite, to stand side by side, and to know and be known. I knew there was something missing and it left me recognizably hurt and grieving.

“Find people willing to walk in the darkness with you. Choose community. Break your independent spirit and make your needs known. Find people to lock shields and walk with you.”  Jenny Rone

When you intentionally seek to know and are willingly, freely known, you make yourself available to both give and to receive love, care, assistance, and presence. In the story from Luke 5, the paralytic was unable to stand, to walk, to get to Jesus. His companions lifted him and bore his stretcher, his load, his weight, and brought him, weak and helpless, to Jesus. He may have had good intentions. He may have had great self-discipline and solid determination, but in his own power he was simply unable to bear his own weight, make his own path, see above the crowd and confusion, and find his healing.

Again, what do swords, shields, and stretchers have to do with hope? What exactly IMG_7033is hope? Is it simply a feeling? Is it crossing fingers and wishing for the best? Or is it more? Could it be steadfast confidence that is anchored in the Truth of God’s word, his character, and his promises? Might it also be a refuge, a place of calm security, knowledge, and peace that is fostered, encouraged, and protected in a community of warriors that will not only stand and fight, but will also kneel in quiet strength and humility in the midst of sickness, helplessness, or pain.

As the retreat drew to a close, I recalled a question the speaker had asked earlier in the weekend: “Will you turn your chair to another?”  

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matt 18:20

It wasn’t a question of position or convenience. It was a picture of a willful, voluntary choice to see and be seen, to hear and be heard, to know and be known. It represented a meeting of souls: “an intentional intersection of who I am with who someone else is…at the level of the soul.” (Beth Wayland)  While I can’t honestly say that I’m comfortable with the idea of complete transparency and vulnerability, I did walk away with questions, longings, empty places, a new awareness of needs and vulnerabilities, and, more importantly, a recognition and desire to fill the empty spaces.

I continue to see images of swords and battles, of standing together, of linking shields IMG_7263and bearing stretchers. I can even imagine myself on a stretcher, being humble and receptive to being lifted or lowered. I also walked away realizing that maybe I do like women’s retreats…even with the uncomfortable closeness and the inevitable messiness.  Next time I wont imagine, expect, or project anything.  Next time I will just hope…and maybe even turn my chair to face another.

Paws and Purpose

The question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us.”  C.S. Lewis

I was deep in the midst of a hectic day at work when the phone in my pocket announced the arrival of a new picture message… IMG_6701Sneaking a quick peek, I glimpsed an image that was instantly familiar, but definitely out of place. There in the midst of wrinkled sheets and crumpled pillows lay a warmly familiar fuzzy bear. Face down, paws outstretched, in comfort or in reverence, I don’t know. Relaxed. At home. Comfortable.

A thousand images of dimpled cheeks, chubby fingers, and cozy bear hugs flashed through my mind and heart. It was my son’s bear. Was. Years ago. He had long left behind his fuzzy friend for the world of video games, high school, and cars. He no longer needed the presence, friendship, or comfort of Little Bear. Bittersweet, it took me a moment to fully recognize the importance of the candid photo my daughter had just snapped. Little Bear left us several months ago. My daughter works at an assisted living facility and had recently devised a creative, thoughtful idea: outgrown childhood stuffed animals may find new purpose in the faithful, tired arms of her elderly residents. It had been less traumatic for me to release Little Bear knowing that he would find a new home, a fresh start, and a renewed purpose. This was my first glimpse into his new life.

IMG_6695The following day I received a second Little Bear photo with the caption: “He got the place of honor today.”  There he lay atop the pillow of a worn soul, young yet old, offering comfort and companionship, love and acceptance.

I doubt Little Bear is really aware that he is loved and wanted and fulfilling his purpose… Walking out his calling as a companion and a comfort. He wasn’t knit together with a heart and soul longing for acceptance and communion. A place to belong and a purpose to fulfill. A calling. A knowing of who he is, why he is here, and how he can make a difference. A need to love and be loved. To comfort and be comforted.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

Is everyone created with a need to feel that they belong and are loved? That they have a purpose? An inner knowing that they can make a difference?

I started a new bible study this week. The promise and chosenencouragement for today: Philippians 1:6 says “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Okay, so maybe the verse doesn’t exactly reference teddy bears or life goals and purpose but it does point back to a past, a beginning, as well as project forward to a process, and finally to an end. A completion. A purpose. It’s a promise. It doesn’t guarantee an easy journey and doesn’t say we won’t be repurposed along the way. But it says He knows, He plans, He gives, He completes. When there is confusion, loss, or lack of direction along the way, there is promise of presence, purpose and completion. And for that I am thankful.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from     beginning to end.   Ecc 3:11



  • [res-kyoo]   verb  
  • to free or deliver from confinement, violence, danger, or evil.

“All I want for my birthday is a cat.”  That’s how it all started. So simple, yet so complicated.

We spent the weeks leading up to his birthday visiting pet stores, animal shelters and various rescue sites. He wanted them all. He loved them all.IMG_6368 He explored aisle after aisle, inspecting cage after cage with mixed emotions: excitement to find the perfect companion, mixed with the weighty sadness of looking into the eyes of caged, abandoned animals. Some knew no other life. They had been born into bondage. Others had been helpless victims of life situations they didn’t understand: health crisis, death, family move, divorce, new relationship, tiredness, or simply inconvenience and lack of commitment.

Then he saw her.

 She was a skinny, sad looking ball of uneven, not-sure-what-color fur. The hand-scribbled tag attached to her cage listed her color as “diluted” but I thought she just looked tired and faded..worn and sad, maybe even hopeless; but he reached down and chose her, lifting her out of her caged despair, abandonment, and neglect and into a new world of light and love and life. She leaned into his chest and enfolded herself in his arms and held on. Very close. Very still. She could hear his heartbeat and he could hear the revving of her hope and contentment as she purred like the sound of a thousand well-tuned engines. That’s all it took: leaning in, hearing his heartbeat, trusting his hold and his love for her.

Why did he choose her? Nothing special, she did nothing to earn his love. There were more attractive, well-groomed cats. Cats who jumped, played, made noise, and vied for attention. She was sick, imperfect: fleas, watery eyes, and a little off balance…not very pretty or desired by most standards, but he loved her. He reached in and pulled her close. He wiped her eyes, held her tight, and took her home. She was perfect.

I won’t suggest that animal neglect or abandonment should be weighed on the same scale as human suffering.  There are greater, more urgent crises: orphans, slavery, addiction, oppression, starvation, victimization.  I won’t offer suggestions or supposed remedies. I will just simply reflect on how one small act can make a difference in a very small corner of a great big world. One choice, one rescue at a time.

IMG_6370 I will also remember what it means to be chosen: to be set free, to be held, nurtured, and loved. To be fed, provided for, trained. I will remember that regardless of the situation, the bondage, or the cage,  I can lean in, be still, and be rescued.   And for that, I am thankful.