Sunday, December 8, 2013


Recent events in my family of origin have highlighted how easily we revert to/hold onto a flawed view of God's grace and human fragility.

Unfortunately, it seems that God allows a whole lot more ambiguous and painful things to enter our lives than we were led to believe in our younger days. There was definitely a teaching that if we followed Christ perfectly we could be spared most of the nastiness of life. Turns out that bad things happen to Christ followers, too. Faith, prayer, legalism, etc. can't cure mental illness.

Funny... Legalistic Christians can accept cancer, disease, tragedy, etc. as just the experience of every life, but there's a bias that believes that mental illness hinges on a right relationship with God. Now, that's a slippery slope that we watched our mom slide down. Repeatedly.

Mental illness was the background of our family relationships. As was faith in an omnipotent God, and his call on us as Christ-followers to walk a righteous path.

The fact that my siblings have built healthy, loving families who continue to walk with the Lord is precisely attributable to prayerful grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles. And, to God's grace and unconditional love.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Real Love

... Love has to be tough and uncomfortable, and it has to sting if it's going to prove to be real and last for the long haul. Love that's too timid to ache isn't love at all.

Pg. 31

The Rook

by Steven James


Well said. A jewel hidden in the pages of an FBI procedural novel.


Not the popular culture's view of love, for sure. But in the midst of months and months of walking alongside encouraging, questionning, and challenging my brother, it's the love he needs. And, it's the only love I can offer.


I've grieved his circumstances. I'm angry at his choices and lethargy. I've exhausted myself emotionally, but the anger has helped me to regain the healthy emotional distance I need for the long haul.


I can pray, but I'm done with the advice. He's extremely intelligent. He remembers much. He's heard it all. Taking action is his downfall.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Child Evangelism Fellowship

Mom's after-school Bible clubs were a huge part of my childhood. While I may have not always wanted to attend and been a bit embarrassed that the teacher was usually my mom, we had dozens if not hundreds of these lessons in our home throughout the year, and in our backyard (garden) in the summertime.
Flannel-graph. Quiet chair prize. Scripture memorization. Treats, sometimes.
Throughout mom's lifetime and despite her struggles with mental illness, she was faithful to CEF. Definitely, one of her callings.
The reason I'm reminiscing about this today, is that my brother PJ has been volunteering in the Peoria office two days this week. He's on medical leave and looking for worthwhile places to invest his time.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise
for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish.
And who knows whether you have not attained royalty
for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14)
Our family has had a summer of waves. Tsunamis. God is faithful. We're surviving. Thriving. I keep thinking, "For such a time as this."
We are each particularly gifted, shaped, polished, hewn for specific endeavors. It's amazing to see how each sibling, family member, steps up to the plate with just the perfect solution, action, wise words.
Our lives have been designed and cast for such a time as this. We only need to be willing and available. Then, let God do the directing. Our deeds and words are multiplied exponentially. It's the loaves and fishes story all over again and again.
It's absolutely shocking to hear what comes out of my mouth at times. Wisdom or solutions far, far beyond my grasp. Same for my sisters and other family.
We're each taxed far beyond anything we could ever have imagined. Yet, there's strength for each day. And, middle-of-the-night or early-morning answers to irresolvable issues and problems. Peaceful resolutions. Bounteous blessings. Disappearing mountains of concern, grief, fear.
We're not in the clear yet, but we will not be defeated. God shall prevail. And, our family will likewise. Amen. (Biblical for "so be it.") Selah. (Pause and think of that.)

Luke 6:37-42

[37] "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. [38] Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."


Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Way by Edwin Muir


“Friend, I have lost the way.

The way leads on.
Is there another way?
The way is one.
I must retrace the track.
It’s lost and gone.
Back, I must travel back!
None goes there, none.
Then I’ll make here my place,
(The road leads on),
Stand still and set my face,
(The road leaps on),
Stay here, for ever stay.
None stays here, none.
I cannot find the way.
The way leads on.
Oh places I have passed!
That journey’s done.
And what will come at last?

The road leads on.”

~ Edwin Muir,

”Collected Poems”



An example of dialogic poetry, used by Calum McCleod at Fourht Presbyterian in today's sermon.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Favorite Verse and Life Lessons

‘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.’ Jeremiah 29:11

I’ll be the first to admit that trusting in God’s providence is hard to do when it comes to difficult circumstances over which I have no control. God’s work is often behind-the-scenes, hidden from our view. He doesn’t give a play-by-play on everything He is doing to coordinate the details of His providential plans. In fact, often His work is most clearly seen in the rearview mirror. But I’ve looked back enough times to see and trust that my life is not a product of good or bad luck, or of random coincidences. It is divinely shaped and guided by the providential hand of God toward a wonderful conclusion.

So today, let’s choose to align our perspective and even our vocabulary with God’s. No more “luck” and no more “coincidences”! It won’t make for memorable movie quotes, but it will make for an infinitely more meaningful and biblically lived life!


Sunday, June 2, 2013

How True!


It All Goes Back in the Box
This is considered one of John Ortberg's best messages ever. Today I'm as blessed hearing it as I've been every time.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Unglued: A Prayer

"God, I'm so tired of being hurt. I'm so tired of feeling distracted and discouraged by this(these) situation(s). Pour your lavish mercy on my heart and into this(these) hard relationship(s)... help me see how to separate myself graciously from this(these) constant source(s) of hurt in my life. It all feels impossisble...Reveal clearly how I can best honor You, even in this."

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Families: The One You're Born Into and the One You Make

Short of fleeing the country, pulling your phone land line, and ditching your cell for an anonymous pay-as-you-go, you can't shake family. They never go away.
Thank God for the family we've created. They're the people I choose for my desert island. We're far from perfect, but love, truth, and openness are key values. We make it all work.
The family I am born into is not without it's flaws, but for the most part we all make it work. We don't cut each other out, do the silent treatment, destroy each other on major holidays. But, as the years pile up the resultant baggage gets huge. Out-of-control. There's too many players. Too many personalities to wrangle. Too many life-altering, critical events and decisions. Too many conversations. Control issues. Viewpoints.
We're a family of words. Too many words. Good intentions backed up with too little information and empathy, and too many biases.
Good intentions run amok.
I have just enough empathy and energy these days for the family CA and I made. Anything extra is too much.
Yet, no one believes me when I say I can't do it all anymore. What will it take?
"No." should be enough. Just say, "No." And repeat until they hang up, leave, go in search of a more empathetic relative. Good-bye.