Crush Words


I often ponder, and wish to write about, the challenges to open discussion of problems in the world. How words seem to morph in meaning, and some are used as arrows and mud rather than to discuss and illuminate.

But while I was writing and rewriting such a post, some new words were dumped into our lives. Ugly words ~ like biopsy. Cancer. Bone scan. Treatment protocols. Radiation.

And maybe a few hopeful words. Contained. Seven weeks. Good chance. And “God is in control.”


So while these words are dominating our days, my time will be spent elsewhere. Hope to meet you here again soon, but until then, I’m spending my words on medical jargon and insurance companies and on keeping my hubby encouraged as I drive him to daily treatments. And writing ~ of course.

May the words in your life during this season bring peace and joy to you.

Paths cross. Roads converge. Events collide.

That’s what happens Under the Lamppost at the intersection of Our Plans & God’s Purposes. And it happens today, April 3, 2015. A Friday, but a very special one.

How it crept up on me without my noticing, I cannot say. But when I wakened to something, it struck me dumb.

This evening at dusk begins Passover, the Jewish holy day commemorating the story of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt.

You may remember the ten plagues God sent to urge Pharaoh to release the Hebrews, the tenth one leading to the name of this holiday. The Angel of Death visited Egypt, taking the firstborn of every family and also of the animals. BUT …

God commanded Moses to have the Hebrews kill an unblemished sheep and daub some of its blood on the doorposts of their homes as a sign of their faith. When done, the Angel of Death PASSED OVER each of those homes and the firstborn was not taken.

The shed blood of the lamb protected them.

Hundreds of years later, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples, just hours before he was betrayed, faced false accusers, mocked, beaten, and hung on a cross. But the nails didn’t hold Him there. He chose to stay because the shed blood of Jesus, The Lamb of God, is protection for all people from paying the price for sin.

On Good Friday we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. Pierced by a spear, His blood dripped on the cross and ground.

I cannot take my eyes and mind off the intersection of these two historical incidents. Over a millennium apart, they are inextricably linked. Parts of a whole. And how often are they brought together in the modern day to display their incredible connection? Friday afternoon we will remember the Passover Lamb nailed to the cross to save us and Friday evening will be the commemoration of the Passover lamb’s spilled blood protecting every family who in faith claimed its protection and displayed it on their doorposts.


PS How often do these to holidays converge? About twice every ten years.

Photo credits: Passover clip artBlood on doorpostJesus & disciples, Eve of cross Lucado quote – Mary Kay Moody, 2014


Blind? Blinded?

Anyone else need some help?Hello, friends. I haven’t meant to be a stranger. But with computer crashes, loaners, hibernating data, my library of blog posts and notes has been unavailable. That’s OK though because, really, outside of work, I’ve been so distracted by “the state of the world” [euphemism for barbaric murders abounding], nothing has seemed appropriate.

Have you ever experienced the temporary blindness when you step inside from walking through a snowy field on a sunny day? The momentary blindness after a camera flash goes off right in front of you?

Or the opposite, when you walk out of a pitch black cave into intense sunlight? Our eyes can’t catch up with the transitions immediately, and we’re unable to see clearly or keep our eyes open against the brilliance. That off-balance state is what I’ve been experiencing lately as I try to comprehend the state of our world. How about you?

In the 1930’s and early 1940’s, many people claimed they did not see the impact of Hitler’s advances through Europe. They did not see the systematic slaughter of millions of Jews and others deemed undesirable, “racially inferior” or enemies of the state.

What would I have done? What would you have done?

ISIS and other Islamic extremist groups are marching through the middle-east slaughtering thousands of “undesirables” such as Christians, Jews, opposing factions. The atrocities reported, even shown via video, is too awful to describe for me.

And too awful to ignore. Therein is the dilemma. I cannot go and fight. And who would I search out if I could? I can speak, write, … and others are doing that admirably. I cannot ignore it, wish it away. I cry, I rage. I turn down the volume. I work and read and distract.

Yet, what can I do to make an impact? To stop this evil, bloody tide? What could you do?

If it were next door to me, perhaps I could intervene. Protect. Help. Call attention. But the horror is thousands of miles away. (Yet as near as the next room! I can hear it on the news. Oh, I hate to hear it.) If I were a soldier, I could enter the fray. I am no soldier.

But I am a prayer warrior. So I pray. Though groaning and uttering words seem so paltry an effort.


One of my morning devotional books* continually urges me to:

Keep my eyes on God.

Rest in His Presence.

Hold His hand and follow Him step by step.

Immerse myself in His Presence.

Be still in His Presence.

So, as my word for this year ~ CHOOSE ~ calls me to do, I choose to obey. I continually pray and come back to His Presence, and trust that in obeying God’s guidance to me through His Word and His speaking to my heart, I am doing what I can.

I must say though, that turning from the brilliance of His Presence to attending to this world’s business, sometimes leaves me flash blind, and I am unable to see anything at all. Perhaps that is why faith is described in Hebrews 11:1 as “the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of THINGS NOT SEEN.

*JESUS CALLING, by Sarah Young, 2004


Does your choice matter?

Do our choices matter?  I read two things yesterday that sparked off each other and melded into a crushing assault that reverberated through me like a Big Ben gong.

1.  “Our stories affect one another whether we know it or not. Sometimes obedience isn’t for us at all, but for another. We don’t know how God holds the kingdom in balance … but we can trust Him when he says press on, cling to hope, stay the course. He is always at work….” [quote from Jen Hatmaker ]*

2.  “Devon bought a gun and killed himself.” [personal email]

Awareness of the truth of the first, and shock and sadness of the second paralyzed me. The utter hopelessness he must have felt gnawed at me. I’ll be juggling emotions and thoughts and responses for a while. But one thing I know:  We are a part of each others’ stories. And somehow Devon slipped between the pages into darkness, and did not know he wasn’t alone or unimportant.

I also know that what Jen said is also true of our prayers. God works in myriad ways we are often not even aware of, and in mysterious ways beyond our understanding. But Scripture tells us to pray and that our prayers have impact. **

And I know that choices we make matter. I must be vigilant and remind myself of this fact. Even when industries and countries and churches and mobs of people in the streets shout:  “You are one alone and your little bit of action isn’t going to make any difference. Will not move the decisions of the powerful one smidgen.” Even when doubts are whispered to my spirit “Who do you think you are? Your effort, your prayer, will not put a scratch, much less a dent, in the collective needs of this world.” These taunts are lies and I must choose to remember that. I’m guessing you do too.

The truth is ~~ all of history is the accumulation of every action and word of every individual. And if I do not remember what is real and what is shadow, I might follow Devon into the hopelessness.

If you are in a dark, lonely place, please choose to reach out. At the very moment of your darkest hour, the lightning-bright answer may already be on its way!

*          Jen Hatmaker, 7, (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2012), 114.

**        “Pray without ceasing.” [1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV]

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” [James 5:16, KJV]


My name is Mary … but I’m a Martha.

Not especially happy about that. But it just may be my nature. I’ve been a fretter since toddler days. Seems I’ve always worried about things and worked quite hard to try to understand — everything.

I think that was often an effort to push away fear. To delude myself into thinking if I understood something I could control it. That works okay when applied to plugging in a hairdryer, managing a clutch in a manual transmission car, or training your dog. But the practice doesn’t work well with the world in general. As Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes, trying to learn everything is like “grasping the wind.” [Eccl. 1:12, 17, 2:17, 26 NKJV]

He also mentions that “He who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” [Eccl 1:18 NKJV]

Yikes. How’s that for encouragement?

Well, here’s the encouragement: God has given us the gift of CHOICE.

As I prayed about what word He might want me to focus on this year, I considered LEAN, as in “lean into,” since I failed so often this year to WALK WITH Him moment by moment. I’d start the day staying close. But often when the day’s agenda became clear, I became like an arrow–shot in some direction and flying as I’d been launched. Evening would bring awareness that I missed some detours and side roads I’d been meant to travel. And God reminded me that I had the choice to continue that practice or change.

A dear friend, Carol King, used to talk about “double witness.” That when God chose to give you two or more versions of the same message at the same time, He wanted you to PAY ATTENTION.

Well, He gave me the point about CHOICE way more than twice in one day! One is a photo (which I can’t reproduce due to copyright, but you can see it on my FB page on Jan 1) saying “Your Call.” My devotional by Max Lucado has a section about “Today I choose …” and on Jan 1 he made the point if I choose to talk to God, God will always listen.  And — surprise! — today’s devo. is called “Chosen People.”

Duh. I think I get it. This year I’m aiming to remember that moment by moment, I have choices–about focusing on gratitude or grief, trusting or trying, resting in God’s care or running my own show. Any choices you are facing?

Finding the Christ in Christmas

Early in our marriage Ed navigated job transfers and down-sizing—both of the company and salary. We developed the habit of purchasing our Christmas gifts throughout the year, and when December rolled around we had no need to shop. But we’d spend a date night sipping hot chocolate and strolling through shopping areas enjoying the decorations. Years later we shifted to a big shopping mall. But nowadays, it seems walking the aisles of stores at Christmas is more endurance test than enjoyment. Do you find it that way too? 

Well, the next time you’re out and about during the Christmas season, or watching television and get bombarded with commercials, try this. Look at individual decorations and try to see the spiritual connections they might make. A few examples–


Easy. “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea … there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.’”  Matthew 2:1-2

“I Jesus … am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” Revelation 22:16

Candles, Lights

“Then spake Jesus … ‘I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’”  John 8:12

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Believing Christmas versus Doing Christmas

“It is easy to think Christmas, and it is easy to believe Christmas, but it is hard to act Christmas.” [Act Christmas by anonymous]*

Scripture, especially Matthew chapter 25 gives me ideas of how to act Christmas. There is related that Jesus will say to some, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” because they fed, clothed, and in other ways ministered to Him. When questioned about when they had ministered in such ways, he answered: 

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’” Matt. 25:40

So it seems that doing Christmas is more about serving others, meeting others’ needs. Perhaps even sacrificial giving.   

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Where Love is …

Each year we spend time in the story “Where Love Is” by Leo Tolstoy. Sometimes we read, but our favorite is to listen to the amazing radio drama version played years ago on the Moody Bible station. 

God tells recently widowed shoemaker Martin that He will visit this day. Listening to it is so rich. We’re impacted by even the sound of the wind blowing when Martin opens his door to assist a child pelted with snowballs. We’re caught up at the crunch of snow as tired street sweeper Ivan walks away, warmed by Martin’s mug of hot tea and pair of gloves. 

Martin’s assistance to others passing his window continues, but his disappointment is palpable as the day grows late. He sighs, glancing at the window. “Lord, I thought you were coming today. … I guess it was only a dream. A lonely old man’s dream.” 

He opens his Bible and reads from Luke, but his eyelids grow heavy and he slumbers. Suddenly a voice calls his name. He startles, runs to the door, and flings it open. 


Darkness stared back. He slammed it. “Acht. Another dream.” 

“No, Martin. It is I, your Lord.”

“But, Lord, where were you? I thought you were coming to visit me   today.” Martin held his breath. Maybe he should not complain to the Savior.

            “But I did come today, Martin. You were a wonderful host. Did you not see me?”

            “No, Lord. I did not see you. When did you come?”

“But you fed me, Martin. You warmed me, and you clothed me.” 

Martin scratched his head. “Lord, when did I feed you? Or warm or clothe you? I did not see you.” 

Then the soft, clear voice said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

In his mind, Martin saw the old street sweeper; the sad, young lad; the frightened young mother with the hungry child. And he smiled.

“Thank you, dear Lord, for visiting me today.”

“It was my pleasure, Martin.” *

 What are some of your favorite Christmas stories?

[* Note: Section transcribed from the Moody Bible broadcast, but I’m unable to give credit to specific copywriters as MBN can no longer locate information about this radio play. ]

(adapted from a previous post)

ADVENT – Waiting Expectantly …

Our neighbor, Marge, faced Christmas from her bed. Battling illness, she’d grown so weak her life was pared down to activities of survival.

My friend, Jean, had emigrated from Scotland fifty years earlier and still reveled in all things Scottish. When any of us was ill, mourning, or struggling in any way, Jean’s gift was always a prayer and a tin of luscious shortbread. 

Jean remembered Marge’s comment from a previous Christmas. “My grandson said your shortbread was the best cookie he’d ever tasted.  I’d love to have your recipe so I can make him some.” Marge’s grandson, serving overseas, was coming home for Christmas and to see her before she died. So rather than shopping, or singing carols around the neighborhood, or watching Christmas movies, Jean baked shortbread. She wrapped it up in bright Christmas paper, tied it with a red bow, addressed the tag to Marge’s grandson, signed the card “Love, Grandma,” and walked it over to Marge’s. 

As we walked and talked about Christmas, Jean praised me for teaching a Bible study and said she wished she had some talent or God could use. Jaw dropping, I stopped and stared at her five-foot form, then shared my disagreement. Her comment highlights the way many of us have trouble knowing how to convert our beliefs into actions.

 We all know that when Jesus was born, Bethlehem was crowded, and with no room available, Joseph and Mary had sought out some humble space to rest.

Whether stable, cave, or what, we don’t know exactly, but Immanuel’s first crib was a manger—a crude feed trough. In our modern world, we often hear the admonition, “Make room for The Christ Child.” But what does that mean? How do we do that nowadays?

Some ideas:

Making Room in our Hearts 

Purpose to clear out junk that may be residing there~bitterness, grudges, sin. Pray and ask for help in identifying areas that need sweeping clean, then give up keeping trash that needs evicting. If something or someone holds a position of more importance to you than God, that idol needs moving off its pedestal. If God could (and did!) give World War II concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom the ability to forgive a guard who, years later, apologized and reached to shake her hand, He can sweep clean any filthy areas I retain.

Making Room in our Lives 

Christmas season, above all others, seems to ratchet up the busy-ness. It takes focus and discipline to set priorities and limit our activities, expenditures, commitments. Or, it takes the practiced discipline of living in God’s Presence and letting him guide us moment by moment. But then, life can only be lived moment by moment—so why not let Him Who is omniscient guide our steps? 

The Christmas season in the United States is celebrated with ever bigger light displays, pageants, music. More and more activity, food, presents. But perhaps making room for The Christ whose birth we celebrate will mean forgoing some parties, avoiding some shopping malls, and collapsing on the floor with a toddler to read a Christmas story. Or spending an afternoon baking Scottish shortbread.

[adapted from a previous post]


Don’t you just love Advent? The days leading up to Christmas seem unlike others in our year. Oh, not the uber-busy but the intense reminders of the holiday approaching and what that holiday means … if we have eyes to see it.

Oh, friends, I hope you do have eyes and heart to see it.

Some family things are pulling me to focus there. I’m sad to not be here to share slivers of light that point to The Light Who came into our world [John 9:5] ~ Immanuel meaning “God with us” [Matthew 1:23]. So I’ll be re-posting some Christmas thoughts from previous years. Again, may you celebrate this season with the eyes and heart of a child.