Posts tagged Jesus

(image by Bethany Small)

He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. 

Psalm 107:29

The boys in the boat were in their element.

Fishermen raised by fishermen, these guys lived, breathed, worked, played, dreamed to the rhythm of the lake. So when a squall came up suddenly, surrounding them with gargantuan waves, swamping their boat, heaving their bellies… they knew enough to be legitimately afraid.

Hadn’t they heard the stories?

Of men lost at sea, bodies washing to shore months later, of widows wailing beside the graves of men too young to die?

They knew enough to be afraid. Desperately afraid.

In the front of their boat, Jesus seemed impossibly unaware of their troubles. Curled up to keep warm, his head nestled into a pillow, He slept right through— oblivious.

This week, I have been just like those fishermen.

Storms threaten to swamp my boat. Hard things: squalls, upheaval, unrest. Too many things coming too fast and I feel swamped, overwhelmed, afraid.

Afraid for my father, whose body is fighting too hard to breath. How do I live and laugh and joy while my dad, this man who has been my refuge, my picture of the Father, faces agony?

And then all the other minor waves which, alone, are entirely doable, but added together, swirl into a deadly undertow.

How do I do this?

I keep coming back to these men, boys really— rough and tough, confident in that swagger of strength that comes from a life well lived.

They know it all. They can do it all.

They’ve set goals, figured it out, worked out.

And then the storm hits and all they know to do doesn’t work.

And so they panic. And so do I.  And so do some of you.

But Jesus doesn’t get mad at our fear. He doesn’t slap us down, shame us, trade us in for someone braver and better.

He doesn’t even rebuke these guys for their audacious shouting in His ear.

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically, they woke him up, shouting, ”Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?”

When he woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Quiet down!” 

Suddenly the wind stopped and there was a great calm. 

You’d think the next words out of his mouth would have been lined with disgust at these wimps. After all, they’d been with him long enough to know him as not only a miracle maker, but as a man with a message of a kingdom yet to come. Of God’s upside down kingdom where everything is not as it seems.

They were supposed to know by now that life is about more than success and tranquility and hunky-dory dreams come true.

And so should I. But sometimes I forget. And then I panic and get overwhelmed and frantically fearful.

But listen to what Jesus says,

Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?

I hear his words and my soul stills.

There are lessons here for me, for us.

These men saw the waves and panicked.

I do that. Anything out of the ordinary mixed with a little bit of too much, thrown in with a cup full of liquid gunk and suddenly I’m sinking.

The key, I am coming to see is to trust God before hand.

To live as if difficulties are normal. To live unafraid of loss. To live unafraid of death.

And the only way to do that is to let go of my Christian bumper sticker view of life, instead, soaking my mind in Jesus’ words and stories. 

Jesus didn’t panic because He lived at peace with the imperfect.

These men saw the waves and assumed the worst.

And so do I. Give me enough waves; enough conflict, enough stress, enough bad news, and I assume the worse. I’m going to drown.

Two plus two equal the end. Woe is me. I can’t do this.

But it’s not true. I can do this.

I can do whatever He allows in my path because He is in me and He has overcome all my not enough-ness.

These men saw the waves and got mad at God.

I do this too! Don’t You care that I am going to drown?

There He is, all curled up comfortable, blissfully unaware of their sinking ship—  and they get mad. I mean major mad. Shouting in God’s face mad.

Can you relate to their reaction? Do you do that? Shout in anger when really you’re scared witless?

These guys knew His power, they knew He could save them, so why didn’t He? There He is, seemingly passive and unaware while their lives sink into despair. Right when they need Him the most, He falls asleep on the job.

Is it any wonder they got a little miffed at Jesus for sleeping through the storm?

But, I am coming to learn, sometimes storms are needed. And I don’t know all the reasons why, but I do know that He uses those sinking kind of circumstances to bring me in close, to draw me near.

Jesus didn’t always understand either.

And the not-knowing hurt. And yet, still He chose to believe— not in fairy tale endings, but in the great heart of His Father.

He chose trust.

And that’s where I am today. Done with the panic. No longer waiting for the worst. Believing and trusting because I’ve been doing this for long enough that to not trust Him is just... wrong.

Today I chose to believe that He is good and He knows and He cares.

Today I chose to believe that He calms my storms with His whispers…

From my heart,


P.S Are you facing some storms that threaten to do you in? Can I pray for you? I would love to hear both your fears and your trust… 


Ruth 4v18-22

Epilogue (Part One)

(Click here to listen to the seventh teaching of Ruth)

Verse of the Week




More Word from the Father

1 Corinthians 10v1-14

1 Peter 3v3-6

1 Peter 5v6,7

1 Peter 4v8

1 Corinthians 13

Psalm 23



From my Heart

Who Am I?


“I do not want you to be unaware, brethren…with most of them God was not well-pleased…” (1 Corinthians 10v1, 5)


What a terrible and terrifying indictment! In referring back to “our fathers,” God gives this less-than-satisfactory summary of their lives. Then He gives a list: they craved evil things, they were idolaters, they acted immorally, they grumbled…


Uh-oh, sounds like me. I fit right into that list.


“Now these things happened to them as an example and they were written for our instruction…” (1 Corinthians 10v11)


Okay, I see. Instead of condemning them as hopeless, God writes their stories to show me what I ought to be like and what I should avoid at all costs. Instead of just issuing commands, He gives me examples, both good and bad. And that’s why we study the lives of the men and women recorded in Scripture.

The Old Testament is rich with stories. Between the tragic tales in the book of Judges and the trying escapades recorded in the books of Samuel lies this almost hidden gem of Ruth. Each character is easily identifiable. I can relate to Ruth, grieve with Naomi, give up on Orpah, shun those women around the well, and fall head over heels in love with Boaz. Yet these stories are meant for more than a history lesson. They are intended to instruct us in the ways of Yahweh and in the tendencies of His followers. We would do well to read carefully, to put ourselves in the places the Patriarchs walked, to listen, and to learn.

Let’s take a look at the characters in the story of Ruth to see how we measure up.



She let Satan’s lie sink straight to her bones. It’s a lie he’s been using since the beginning of mankind - the idea that God is holding back His goodness; that He just might not have our best interests in mind. That He’s not nice. And as long as she nourished that little tidbit of falsehood, Naomi failed to thrive. She grew bitter and joyless. Hesed was happening all around her and she just couldn’t taste it.

Is that me? Am I feeling sorry for myself? Am I inwardly dissatisfied with God’s provision for me? Is all my worry and fussing an indication that I don’t really, honestly believe that He is able and willing to take care of me and mine?



She went after God with the most appealing combination of humility and determination. Nothing would stop her; not the disapproval of people, nor the scolding of Naomi. Not even the looming specter of starvation could deter her. That girl poured every inch of her heart into pursuing God. And in the process, she won over her skeptics. By dying to her dreams, Ruth stepped right under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty, allowing Him to write her happily-ever-after ending.

What about me? Have I grown somewhat lackadaisical in my personal pursuit of God? Kinda lazy? Expecting Him to throw me a bit of wisdom just when I need it instead of storing up His treasures every opportunity I can grab? Am I gleaning - hot and sweaty out in the fields, searching for food?



She gave up. Too hot, too hard, she turned back to the easier way. The old way. Orpah turned to the idols she was comfortable with rather than risk following Yahweh. Those idols of her heart gave her a sense of quick satisfaction.

What idols do I turn to? How about you?

A glass of wine, a bowl of ice cream to ease the stress of the day? An ungodly boyfriend? How about a shopping spree to pick me up? Or a mindless movie? What do I turn to? When I am all poured out, how do I fill back up?


The servant in charge

I like this guy. When Boaz inquired about the new worker in the field, the supervisor gave a glowing report about her progress. He made sure that her reputation was unblemished and utterly honest. Not one mention of any unrest among the other workers at her presence. No words of gossip or innuendo. He praised her hard work and let Boaz know that she was a welcome addition to his fields.

Do I do that? Or am I quick to point out the faults and flaws of others? Am I poking my nose in business I really don’t need to know? Can I be depended upon to let other’s share their own stories, knowing when it’s their story to tell and not mine? Am I willing to keep my mouth shut on stuff that doesn’t really matter? Do I believe the best about people?


The women

Twice in the story we hear of them. Once, right at the beginning when Naomi dumps her load of bitterness all over them in an unsolicited display of drama. And then again, right towards the end when they turn around and bless her. These women jump into the story with their own unsolicited commentary, making sure that Naomi knows and notices the good hand of God in her life. They bless God and they bless Naomi in a sort of sing-song vision for her future happiness.

Is that my tendency? Do I listen unjudgmentally when my sisters need to unload on me? Or do I lift my shotgun of Bible verses at them and blast away? These precious friends let Naomi vent without censorship. They listened. They watched. And then they applauded her story, giving God a standing ovation of praise. How must the angels have grinned! Maybe they joined in.

What about my kids? Do I let them question and complain from time to time, or do I shut them down and shame them for their rawness? One thing about the book of Ruth, the Author didn’t leave anything out. Nor did God defend Himself. He just let the story play out to its conclusion, letting lessons be learned little by little, all in good time.


And then of course, there’s Elimelech

He ran. He lost sight of what was most important (his relationship with God) and lost himself in the pursuit of pleasure and plenty. And he died doing it. What about his sons? There’s no telling how old they were when they left the Promised Land to follow their dad to Moab, but they were certainly old enough to decide for themselves to marry those Moabite women. They died too.

Oh, there are lessons to be learned alright. Life lessons to soak in and savor. The book of Ruth is rich with wisdom and insight into the Kingdom of God compared to the comforts of life.


While you read it, lean a little closer and listen carefully.

From my heart,






Four Women

The genealogy at the end of Ruth is copied almost verbatim in the genealogy of Jesus found in the first chapter of Matthew. One significant addition, however, differentiates the lists. In Jesus’ genealogy, the names of four women are highlighted - Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Why did the author include these four women? The inclusion of any women would have been considered inappropriate at the time of the writing. The place of women in society was downplayed; they were considered insignificant to the story. But these women were something of a black spot on the family tree. Why mention them at all? There must be a reason.

As we delve deeper into their stories, take some time to examine what these tales tell us about the women - and about the God they adopted as their own.



Ten Generations












Ruth 4v13-17

Ever After (Part Five)

(Click here to listen to the sixth Ruth teaching)

Verse of the Week




More Words from the Father 

Philippians 1v1-11

Philippians 2

Philippians 3v14-21




From my Heart

Pages from the past: March 1987



Waiting…so much of our life is spent waiting.

Such a lot of our time is spent on boring, mundane details.

Yet fulfillment does not come

from excitement, adventure, challenge, importance;

but from doing the will of the Father

with all our heart and soul.


The purpose of my life is not to do something

big and important for God,

but to empty myself,

to be a “clay vessel,” as it were.

To be used and used up by God

in everything I do.


Thus the mundane is of eternal importance,

the boring, an adventure in spiritual enlightenment.

The Creator of the Universe, the Savior of all peoples,

the Comforter of our hearts-working

in and through me!

Magnificent wonder!

Thank You Lord.


From my heart,






When Does Life Begin?

Dare I answer this question? No, definitely not. Let the scientists, biologists, politicians, and activists argue, blog, chant, and pass their laws. I wouldn’t dare poke my head in their conversations.


But God, the creator of life, does dare.


I’ve listed a few of the Scriptures most frequently referred to which give God’s answer to the question:


1. Psalm 139V13-15 -The Psalmist sings of this life-affirming truth-

“For You created my inmost being

You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from You

when I was made in the secret place,

When I was woven together in the depth of the earth,

Your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me

Were written in Your book

Before one of them came to be.”


2. Luke 1v44 -Elizabeth tells Mary of her unborn child’s response to the presence of Jesus-

“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears,

The baby in my womb leaped for joy.”


3. Jeremiah 1v5 -The prophet Jeremiah recognized God’s appointment before birth-

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

Before you were born I set you apart…”


4. Isaiah 49v1 -The prophet Isaiah describes his calling before birth-

“Before I was born the Lord called me…”

The Scriptures make it crystal clear that life begins at conception, blossoms at birth, and bears the image of the Creator throughout all the days of our lives. So we’ll let the talking heads argue all they want while we celebrate God’s affirmation of the worth of every human life.





The End

Ruth 4v18-22

Seemingly tacked on to the end of our story is this list of names. Not much of a read, just five short verses - one long sentence. We usually let our eyes just sort of skip this part. Genealogies seem like simply a list of hard to pronounce names, of little interest to our hurried lives.


But wait.


Hold on.


Look closer.


There are ten names brought to our attention. And each of these names represents a real man, with a real wife, and real kids. A family. And in every family lives a story - God’s story-involving love and laughter, dreams and drama. His-Story.


Just as you and I cry out to be known and seen as significant, so these stories of real people call from the pages of our Bibles to be examined and explored. Who were these people? How is it that their lives followed a path that put their families into the back story of the King of Israel? They begot royalty. Somehow they laid a foundation for future greatness.


Let’s take some time this week to turn aside from our usual rush and dig up some of these jewels of wisdom dropped around the treasure of God’s Word. Let’s snoop and explore, reading between the lines and coloring in the lives of these men who God chose to mention in the closing lines of Ruth.


You might just discover your own keys to the Kingdom.


John didn’t want to do it. This was way beyond his comfort zone, unexpected and unwelcome. He knew his role and this didn’t fit.

For as long as he could remember John had known that God’s calling on his life was to urge his people to make space in their hearts for the coming of the Messiah. To repent from the sins that held them captive and turn to the One who would set them free.

He even had his handy come-back to ward off his many ciritics: God in heaven appoints each man’s work, (John 3:27)  

John knew his job and this surely wasn’t it. This felt all wrong.

Yet Jesus insisted, demanded really.

It must be done, because we must do everything that is right. (Mt 3:15)

Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation that goes against the grain. We don’t want to do it— at all.

That’s when Jesus comes alongside us, saying we.

We must do everything that is right. 

He never wags His finger in our face with ought’s and should’s and shame-on-you’s. Instead He inserts that lovely, welcoming, inclusive pronoun.


He joins Himself with us in that too-hard task. He won’t do it for us but He doesn’t make us do it alone either.

It must be done, He whispers, we must do everything that is right.

If you’re facing one of those everythings today, something you must do just because it’s right, may I remind you that…

Jesus is right there beside you and with you and for you.

Welcome Him, drink deeply of His presence, delight in His nearness… and then go together to do that thing that must be done.

From my heart,


P.S. Can you tell us a story of how He turned that thing you didn't want to do but knew you must into something good?


RUTH 4v1-12

The Wedding (Part Four) 

(Click here to listen to the fifth Ruth teaching)

Verse of the Week




More Words from the Father

Revelations 3v20

Song of Songs 1v1-4

Song of Songs 2v3-14

Matthew 11v28-30

John 1v1-18



From my Heart

…He Commands the Morning Job 38v12

The dark hour before dawn wrapped its silence around me as I burrowed deeper beneath the comforter. Ahh…that luscious sense of waking early, only to realize I can luxuriate in a couple more hours of sleep…ahh…sleep.

Then a whisper echoing over the silence,




Blinking open my sleep encrusted eyes, I peek out of my warm nest into the darkness.




This time I raise my head. Did someone call my name? Who could be up? My husband’s steady snoring assured me it wasn’t him. My imagination, of course, a dream perhaps. Back to sleep.




This time I’m startled awake. What? Who?


“Come, my beloved. Come meet with Me.”


Could I be hearing right? Could this inexplicable voice be my Lord’s? Was He calling me to come to Him?

As I lay there wondering, I heard it one more time.




Reluctance fled and with it all sense of sleepiness. Throwing back the covers, I padded downstairs with my heart pounding in anticipation. What did He want? Why would He wake me? Was this real or was I going crazy?

Within moments I had my answers.

God wanted me. He wanted me to be with Him. And what’s more, He wanted to be with me. Just be. Not to read my Bible, not to pray, not to do anything at all.


Just be.


Curled up in the corner of the sofa, my Bible open on my lap, a steaming mug of tea in hand, He spoke to my heart. Words of wisdom, words of delight poured over my heart that morning. I felt lavished in His love. Surrounded. He simply wanted me.


And He still does.


From my heart,






Come with me

my friend

and be.

Be with me

a while.

Just be.

Your senses-

Do you hear?

Do you see?

Tell me.

Tell me of your wanderings.

Be with me

a while.

Just be.


-Rebekah Fechter





The City Gate

Boaz hurried away from his clandestine meeting with Ruth driven with determination. This was not the time to dream about the future, for he faced a formidable mandate. He had to establish himself at the city gate in order to negotiate a complex contract to obtain what he wanted - Ruth.

Every city or town of decent size in Israel was surrounded by a thick fortress-like wall for protection. These walls were constructed of stones or brick, with fortified towers placed at intervals in order to survey the surrounding area. Oftentimes, houses were incorporated into the wall, with the entrance facing into the town. The gate through these walls leading into the city became a place of political importance. Legal proceedings were often conducted there, sometimes out in the open air for all to observe and, on other occasions, in deep niches within the walls themselves. This is where Boaz rushed to in those early morning hours after his proposal from Ruth.

Several instances in the Bible illustrate the importance of these places of power in Old Testament culture. Rebekah is given a blessing by her family when she left them to marry Isaac, which includes the hope that her children would “possess the gate” of their enemies.  Job looks back longingly on the days before his afflictions, when he sat in his seat at the city gate to be revered by young men and honored by the aged. He made a difference there, where he “investigated the case I did not know” and “chose a way for them and sat as chief.”  And we all know about the woman described in Proverbs 31, whose “husband is known in the gates” and whose life of service caused her husband and children to “praise her in the gates.”

Boaz called a meeting at the city gate in order to declare his honorable intention to marry Ruth and to redeem the land for Naomi. He wanted the proceedings to be witnessed by the entire town and endorsed by the ruling men in clear legal terms. In this action, Boaz brings his bride-to-be into a place of legal, moral, and social safety.

Can you see the implications? There are parallels between Jesus, our Redeemer, and Boaz, Ruth’s redeemer. The two collide in this moment to create a magnificent picture of His bringing us legally and morally into a safe place. Before the entire world, He declares us worthy to be His bride. Like Boaz, Jesus rushes to our defense, making our right standing before God His primary concern.


 “And the angel of the Lord…came…and sat upon the stone.” 

Matthew 28v2

The stone stood as a silent sentinel, blocking the entrance to the cave. On the other side, or so she thought, lay Jesus, her Lord. And wrapped up with Him lay all her shattered hopes and dreams. Dead.

She’d come to say good-bye - farewell to faith.

She’d come to grieve - to let go of the hope that had held her in such wild expectation every time He talked.

It was over now. Best to be done with it and cope with reality…

deal with drudgery…

face her future…

But that stone blocked her way.

Falling to the ground in a heap of defeated despair, pulling her knees tight against her chest, she rocked back and forth, back and forth, as her sobs filled the early morning air.






Waves of grief shook her. Years of hurt overwhelmed her reason, spilling out upon the unyielding realities of that stone. There was nothing to do but die.

Somewhere in the periphery of her mind she sensed movement, but her sorrow was too great to stop and listen. But there...

A sound...A scrape.

Was that a cough?

Her sobs slowed, again a noise.

Fear froze her. Oh no, what now?

Slowly, hesitantly, as if she could wait away the next disaster, she looked up.

An angel sitting on the stone,

that gargantuan…


uncontrollable mountain of impossibilities

And the stone was moved…just like that.

Is a stone blocking your way to life? To peace? To joy? Have you worn yourself out trying to push it away? Have you exhausted your soul trying everything to change your circumstances? Are you sweaty and angry and defeated and discouraged? Have you lost hope?

Sit still awhile. Sit at the tomb of your tomorrows and let yourself grieve what might have been…should have been. Cry it all out.

And when you’re done,




be still…

In the ashes of your grief, in the failure of your fantasies of how life ought to be, sits Jesus. In dazzling white He sits atop that stone…

immune to impossibilities…

with a different idea of the ideal.

And while you’re there, let Him fill you with His hope and His dreams. Let Him store those tears away, pack up your past, relinquish your regrets, and give you a new start, a new life … a renewed hope.

After all, He rolled away that stone.

From my heart,


Can you tell me what hope has come out of your ashes? Is there a story you really need to tell to point all the rest of us to His hope? Please do.


On the Sunday after Phil broke up with me, I slipped into church reluctantly. I knew he’d be there, on the platform leading worship. I knew I would cry, unable to hold back the grief at the loss of the life I’d dare to dream of. 

I wanted to be strong but I wasn’t. Wanted to be cool and remote, but my red nose and swollen eyes wouldn’t fool anybody.  And so I tried to avoid anyone I might know by finding a seat in the back corner, as near the exit doors as possible.

All my fears and feelings of inadequacy and fakery and not-good-enough-ness kept my shoulders slumped and my head down. I wanted to believe what I’d been taught, that God had a wonderful plan for my life. But how was this wonderful?

What I hadn’t factored in was a redeeming Savior and His relentless pursuit of a woman who needed to know Him in a way that would fill up all those achingly empty places in my soul.

All I remember about that morning was the words of the hymn we sang:

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

Every word sank deep. Soothing, true, hope-filled. This was what I was longing for, what I needed. A hope built on One who would love me always, no matter what. 

Could it possibly be true? With all my less-thans, all my pretending to be better than I was, could I learn to wholly lean on Jesus’ name?

It was a theme that would echo over and over again in my life. That when dreams die and wishes don’t come true, when things happen that I don’t want and when I can’t make the hurt go away, Jesus is there...

Really there.

I went home elated. Fully surrendered, ready for whatever God had for me. I wanted more of Him. I wanted to be able to sing the last verse and mean it…

When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found;

Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the Throne.

Something significant happened deep inside me that day. In losing something I wanted, I gained more of what I needed. 

A deeper trust.

A greater intimacy. 

A new sense of adequacy.

I was just beginning on my journey to finding Grace.

And even though I said I would finish our story today, I just can’t. Not yet. It would seem not right to tack a happily ever after ending right here.

I knew our break-up was final. Phil didn’t need space, he needed peace. And I was powerless to put that peace in his heart. It was over.

The real story is that God met me here in this broken place.

And so I’ll just have to tell you the rest next week…

And then we can get started on why I wanted to start this series in the first place.

Until then, thanks for listening,

From my heart,





part 1

part 2

Once upon a time I fell in love with Phil.

I fell in love for all the obvious reasons—all that tall-dark-handsome stuff. Throw in a really cool car, the fact that he was a drummer, the brown suede jacket (with fringe!) he wore, his way of smiling that insisted on response… and I fell head over-heels.

Falling in love was easy.

Riding the ups and downs and tensions and worries of wondering if this was The One? That was hard. 

Pain-filled. Humbling.

Our relationship didn’t develop slowly with friendship first. Instead we rushed headlong into romance. It was a fun, exhilarating, all-absorbing, drastically life changing time.

Everything about Phil was intense: every conversation, every decision, every date.

He was 26 years old, had finished college, then found his niche in music ministry. Just two years earlier, he’d quit the rock band that had defined his life for 9 years and was now a pastor at one of California’s first mega-churches. 

The man spent every minute living, breathing, and thinking ministry.

He had strong ideas about everything.  And I do mean everything.

I loved that! I’d only been a Christian for about 3 years when we started dating and I was still figuring it out, wishing for a rule book to get it right. Or at least clear instructions about what I should do and what I should avoid and what I ought to say,when

The attrition rate of new Believers during those Jesus Movement days scared me—  how could I avoid being one of those who “fell away”?

Phil read his Bible voraciously and made sure I was reading mine. For him, this was no rote discipline of duty. He read to discover, to absorb truth, to know God.

He thought about what he read, scribbled notes in a journal, underlined, questioned and studied. And then he talked to me, inviting me into conversation— the depth of which I’d never before experienced.

Our conversations centered around the Scriptures we were reading.  We memorized verses together, mulling over this way of living in alliance with God. It was a heady and exhilarating time with a whole unknown world opening up to me.

But I was scared.

This man was just so much better than me. Smarter, quicker, stronger, more focused and absolutely sure of his calling. I was a freshman in Bible College surrounded by students who had been raised with at least some background of faith. While I was untangling the Patriarchs’ stories, getting lost among the Prophets, and barely understanding the Sermon on the Mount (Blessed are the poor? Are you kidding?), everyone else seemed to know everything. 

And that, I think, is when I first started to pretend.

I’d nod my head knowingly, keep my mouth shut, and fake it. I copied the way others prayed, God-blessing everyone I could think of.

When Phil prayed I’d add all the expected amen and yes, Jesus affirmations in order to sound more sincere.

 Instead of understanding that growing a backlog of faith takes time, I hurried to catch up in order to feel adequate, accepted, good.

With no concept whatsoever of grace, I performed the way I thought I ought to, the way I thought Phil wanted me to. Phil was an idealist and I longed to be his ideal.

And that, no doubt, set me up for some deep disappointment down the road.

Phil was as intense about our relationship as he was about everything else. After 3 dates in 4 days, he initiated “the talk”.

He wasn’t interested in dating just to date. He was on track to marry and wanted to pursue this relationship with that in mind. What did I think?  

Well I would have eloped then and there, that’s what I thought. But I managed to say something somewhat sophisticated like me too, and so we were off.

We had rules.

No kissing on the lips, quick forehead and cheek kisses were okay. Limited hugging, but lots of hand-holding. We avoided being alone at my house and I was absolutely not allowed in his.

Phil was shockingly upfront about why. He’d not lived a pure life before giving his life to Jesus and no way was he going to mess up now. Keeping a safe distance just made sense. 

And those rules worked to make me feel like the most cherished woman in the world. Phil was protecting my purity while guarding his.He wanted more of this relationship than groping in the back seat of a car. He chose to keep his hands to himself while he handed me his heart with the purest trust.

Phil opened his life to me and let me in. He probed the corners of my introverted self— he discovered me.

I’d never had anyone want to know me the way Phil did. Slowly, timidly, I let him see the real me. I shared my worries. Let him see my inadequacies. The more we talked the more I could see my place in his life. He needed help, was barely managing to keep up with the frantic pressures of a mega church music pastor’s life. 

Our differences seemed destined to compliment rather than conflict. 

But there were two problems. Two glitches to the Ideal.

First of all, I was almost 9 years younger than Phil. Was that okay? The second question worried him more. While Phil’s ministry revolved around music, I could barely carry a tune. I couldn’t sing, play the piano, or read music. How in the world would I be a music pastor’s wife? 

His fellow pastors ridiculed the questions when he worried out loud to them. They teased him out of his intensity and told him to relax, forget the “role”. He needed a wife, not a pastor’s wife

Still, that sense of sureness eluded him.

We’d been told that we would just know.

Everyone said it: You’ll just know when you find the One. 

But Phil didn’t know.

He knew he loved me and made no bones about his attraction to me. He knew I loved him enough to lay aside my plans to join his, we knew our parents approved, that our goals coincided… but he didn’t just know. 

And so we broke up.

Because he didn’t know.  And he needed to know... 

Our story could have ended there. I thought it would.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you why it didn’t.



Feel free to e-mail in your questions for this new series about love and marriage from a Biblical perspective at


Ruth 3v1-18

The Proposal (Part Four)

 (Click here to listen to the fourth teaching of Ruth)



The Verse of the Week 





More Words from the Father

1 Peter 2v19-25

1 Peter 3v1-19

Psalm 34




From my Heart

Home / Not Always a Safe Place

Some of you are “making your home” amongst difficult people. You feel afflicted and picked on; judged and found wanting. No Walton family reruns, where everyone kisses each other at the end of the day and tucks them in with kindness. Instead, you absorb sarcasm and criticism, harsh words which poke and cause pain.

Oh, I’m not talking about abuse here, but about that every day brand of meanness that is so prevalent in our society today - so seemingly acceptable in its boundaries.

Not one of us is immune to the wounds received when living in this fallen world. And though it ought not to be in our homes, the reality is that sometimes it just is.


What’s a woman to do?


Some of us protect ourselves by putting a hard shell around our hearts. Others withdraw, keeping a safe distance from anyone who might lash out and hurt their tender souls. Or sometimes we fight back, returning meanness for meanness in an attempt to turn away the flood of negativity, giving them just what they deserve for hurting us so.


It doesn’t work, though, does it?


We end up feeling as ugly as we sound, or bound up and cold hearted; unable to pour on people the extravagant affection that makes a woman truly beautiful.

I have found Psalm 34 to be an invitation into the shelter of the Almighty during those trying times. This is David’s answer to those afflicted (NIV), discouraging (NLT), and humbling (NASB) realities.

Let’s walk through this Psalm together to discover how David found shelter from what he so poetically called, “the strife of tongues.”


Psalm 34

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly sing His praises.

I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are discouraged take heart.

Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt His name together.


It sounds to me like David is having to pull himself out of his discouragement one painful handful at a time. By turning away from his detractors and determining to focus his thoughts on God, David’s sore heart is being healed.

Sometimes it takes herculean effort to pull yourself away from the pain of hurt feelings. The only possible way to do so is to praise God, to boast about Him, to open your mouth and sing  out loud to Him. The out-loud part is important. You can’t stay down in the dumps for long when you are singing about God’s greatness.


I prayed to the Lord and He answered me, freeing me from all my fears.


This is just what you will need: freedom from the fear that life will always be this way - that strife and conflict instead of “goodness and mercy” will follow you all the days of your life.


Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; 

no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and He heard me.

He set me free from all my fears. 

For the angel of the Lord guards all who fear Him, and He rescues them.


Just like Ruth, you and I need a Rescuer - someone who will tuck you under His wing and guard your fragile heart. Rather than step in and rescue yourself by fighting back, what might happen if you, like David, chose instead to simply cry out to the Lord and wait? What if, instead of acting out your hurt and anger, you chose to bow low before the Father and honor Him with your tongue?


What if we so feared Him that we wouldn’t dare lash out?

Here’s what He says would happen:


Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Oh, the joys of those who trust in Him!

Let the people show Him reverence,

for those who honor Him will have all they need.

Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,

but those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing.


To taste is to experience, to relish the flavor of God’s goodness. When you get a taste of God, especially in the face of difficulties, you take Him in and are filled with His joy. When you honor Him in spite of how you are being treated, He will see to it that you have all you need. That hunger and that longing for love will be satisfied by God Himself.


How do I know this is true?


By long, hard experience. Too often, I have taken things into my own hands, determined to stick up for myself when feeling underappreciated, or ready to sass back when someone’s irritation interrupts my peace. My face wears a frown, and filled with “righteous indignation,” I let‘em know not to mess with me!


But that is not the way of Jesus, nor is it the way of beauty.


On those all-too-rare occasions when I have chosen to follow His way of dealing with difficult people, I have known a peace and a joy and a deep-down satisfaction that puts me in instant intimacy with the Father. There is nothing like it!

If your home is not an easy place to rest, and you find yourself longing for the love and acceptance that Ruth found with Boaz, perhaps you should follow the example of Jesus…and of those “holy women of old” in our Scripture reading for today. Read over those verses again. Ponder them in the light of your own circumstances. They are loaded with wisdom, full of keys to staying safely tucked under the wings of the Almighty.


And while tucked into that safe place, look around. You just might spot Sarah…or Ruth, maybe even Esther.


From my heart,





Fear Not


“…and now my daughter, do not fear.” Ruth 3v11


If this phrase sounds comfortingly familiar to you, it may be because it is something our God says over and over again to His far-from-courageous chosen leaders. Men and women who seem invincible when we read their stories were in fact terrified at the time. Yet they didn’t stay that way. As they watched Him at work, and as they listened for His voice, they gained the temerity to trust God to do what they knew they couldn’t. Ruth was one of them.


Maybe it’s time you were too.


Read up on their situations and ask Him for the kind of faith that banishes fear.


“Fear not…


Abraham  / Genesis 15v1

Isaac / Genesis 26v24

Jacob / Genesis 43v3

Moses / Exodus 14v13

Joshua / Joshua 8v1; 10v8

Jehoshaphat / 2 Chronicles 20v17

The RemnantIsaiah 41v10, 13, 14; 43v1, 5; 44v2

Ezekiel / Ezekiel 3v9

Daniel / Daniel 10v12

Joseph / Matthew 1v20

Zacharias / Luke 1v13

Mary / Luke 1v30

The shepherds / Luke 2v10

Paul / Acts 27v24

John / Revelations 1v17


“Thus Sarah obeyed…and you become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” 1 Peter 3v6


The Gleaning

Ruth 2:1-23 (Part One)

(click here to listen to the third teaching in the Ruth study.)

Now we get to the good part. We’re agonizing with Naomi, fearful for Ruth, frustrated with the so-called friends who leave them tired and hungry at their doorstep.

And…in walks Boaz. Of course he was tall, dark, and handsome (actually the text leaves this bit of Hollywood drama out), just the man to come to their rescue. He’s John Wayne and Billy Graham all wrapped into one.

As Ruth resorts to the backbreaking labor of gleaning for leftover grain, she “haps” on the field of the one man who is both willing and able to rescue her from a life of destitution.

This scene is full of spiritual innuendo. Boaz, representing our own Redeemer, Jesus, is a man full of grace and good will. He cares about Ruth. He asks questions, shows concern, and offers hope. Then he lavishes grace upon her, immediately elevating her from starvation to salvation, all without asking anything in return.

This unexpected twist in our story leaves us longing for more. Somewhere deep inside every woman lies this yearning to be loved and protected. Now the story takes on even deeper implications as we begin to see the way our Savior rescues us right when we need Him the most.

Come with me as we follow the story of Ruth, gleaning our own treasures of wisdom and understanding sprinkled throughout the Scriptures. And keep an eye on Boaz, for I have a feeling you’re going to be falling head over heels in love with him before the story ends.


Verse of the Week:

“… be still” Psalm 46:10 NIV


More Words from the Father:

Matthew 28:1-10

Luke 12:32

Psalm 4:4

Psalm 46:10

Isaiah 61:1-11

Isaiah 43:1-3

1 Peter 1:6-9,

13; 2:18-25; 4:19


From my Heart:

An Impossible Obstacle

“And the angel of the Lord…came…and sat upon the stone.” (Matthew 28:2)

The stone stood as a silent sentinel, blocking the entrance to the cave. On the other side, or so she thought, lay Jesus, her Lord. And wrapped up with Him lay all her shattered hopes and dreams. Dead.

She’d come to say good-bye - farewell to faith.

She’d come to grieve - to let go of the hope that had held her in such wild expectation every time He talked.

It was over now. Best to be done with it and cope with reality…

deal with drudgery…

face her future…

But that stone blocked her way.

Falling to the ground in a heap of defeated despair, pulling her knees tight against her chest, she rocked back and forth, back and forth, as her sobs filled the early morning air.






Waves of grief shook her. Years of hurt overwhelmed her reason, spilling out upon the unyielding realities of that stone. There was nothing to do but die.

Somewhere in the periphery of her mind she sensed movement, but her sorrow was too great to stop and listen. But there.

A sound...A scrape.

Was that a cough?

Her sobs slowed, again a noise.

Fear froze her. Oh no, what now?

Slowly, hesitantly, as if she could wait away the next disaster, she looked up.

An angel sitting on the stone,

that gargantuan…


uncontrollable mountain of impossibilities…

And the stone was moved…just like that.

Is a stone blocking your way to life? To peace? To joy? Have you worn yourself out trying to push it away? Have you exhausted your soul trying everything to change your circumstances? Are you sweaty and angry and defeated and discouraged? Have you lost hope?

Sit still awhile. Sit at the tomb of your tomorrows and let yourself grieve what might have been…should have been. Cry it all out.

And when you’re done,




be still…

In the ashes of your grief, in the failure of your fantasies of how life ought to be, sits Jesus. In dazzling white He sits atop that stone…

immune to impossibilities…

with a different idea of the ideal.

And while you’re there, let Him fill you with His hope and His dreams. Let Him store those tears away, pack up your past, relinquish your regrets, and give you a new start, a new life … a renewed hope.

After all, He rolled away that stone.

From my heart,





How do I begin to introduce you to Boaz? Here is the man every woman dreams of: a hero, a warrior, a friend. He is successful, driven, relational, kind, and appealing. He is godly, he takes initiative, he notices things, he listens, he leads. People like him, his reputation is irrefutable, his integrity undeniable. This is a man that a woman can trust implicitly.

The rest of this story is so real, so raw. Naomi with her bitterness. Orpah who walks away. Ruth with a reputation to overcome. From whence came this perfect man? How does he fit in this story of grief, of heartache, of broken people? What was the author thinking?

God wrote this book. Oh, He used the pen of a person, for sure. But He is the author. He created the characters, narrated the plot, came up with the protagonist and the antagonist, the beginning, the climax, and the sweet ending. So what’s He up to with Boaz?

The term that theologians use is “typology.” Boaz is a type of Christ. In other words, Boaz is a picture - painted with words and images, impressions, and dialogue - of Jesus, or at least of some aspects of Jesus. Other types of Christ include Joseph, David, Adam, and Melchizedek. Each tells a story of something God wants us to discover about His son. And while theologians emphasize the Kinsman- Redeemer aspect of Boaz, I think there is much more here to draw us into a love relationship with Jesus.

Look at the way he blesses his workers (Ruth 2:4). See how he shows interest in someone in dire straits (2:5), how he protects (2:9), and serves, even though he is clearly the boss (2:14). Hear his gracious speech (2:11) and his blessing directed at Ruth (2:12). Notice how Boaz takes care of Ruth’s needs, leaving her satisfied and overflowing (2:14). Look at his mercy in giving her far more than she deserved (2:16). This guy is amazing!

But there’s more. Boaz’s name means “strength.” He is extremely wealthy, a landowner, and a local leader of significant influence. He respects the Mosaic Law and knows its intricacies well enough to untangle what could have become a mess for Naomi (4:1-10).

Boaz’s reputation continued long after his death. Look at his influence on his son and grandsons: Obed, Jesse, David, Solomon. King Solomon was Boaz’s great, great grandson. In an obvious reference to the honor he felt towards his heritage, he named one of the foundational pillars in Solomon’s Temple after this man (1 Kings 7:21).

Take some time to ruminate on the qualities of Boaz painted so painstakingly in the story of Ruth. Observe, notice, list, circle, and underline. He is no braggart who trumpets his goodness, so you’ll have to dig a little. Read between the lines. Warm up to him and watch how everyone else in the story does as well.

As you discover the beautiful characteristics of Boaz, let these truths fill you with the beauty of Jesus. Feast on the richness of Jesus, the man. Relish the pursuit of Jesus, the lover. And by all means, worship Jesus, our Redeemer.


Ruth 1v6-22

The Journey (Part Two)

Verse of the Week:



More words from the Father:

Colossians 3:8-14

Psalm 139

Luke 10:41,42


From my Heart:

What About Me? 

On pondering Ruth’s boldness, her verve, her enthusiastic embracing of hardship, I find myself asking, “What about me?”

Have I arrived at this place, in this role, because God led me here? Or did I take a few too many wrong turns along the way and then settle in just to survive? Am I here…doing what I’m doing…being who I am…because I’ve so entrusted my life to the Father that I have followed every hint, every word He has spoken and landed finally in my sweet spot? Am I in that place intended for me to serve Him?

Or not?

Did I, instead, take the reins in my own hands to drive me and everyone else around me down the road I chose…the path I preferred? What if, deep down inside, I don’t want to be this person I’ve become along the way? What if I don’t want to do the things that define me?

What if…

I don’t want to play the role of policewoman/Nazi-commander in my home anymore? Will the world collapse around me if I turn nice? Will clothes mold in wadded up piles? Will the health department have to step in and close down the kitchen if I’m not there to catch every crumb? Will my husband bankrupt us? Will he go off and buy a Maserati the minute I let up?

What would happen if I let go of control?

Should I warn them first?

“By the way, I’ve decided to play the nice guy from now on. No more scolding, sulking, silently disapproving. I’ve decided to be like Ruth and Sarah. Oh…and Mary. Definitely like her.”

“From now on I’ll ask nicely, or not at all. Because I love you, with all your faults and flaws, you don’t have to fit yourself to me any more because I find you fascinating and fun, intriguing, and delightful.”

What would happen after I scraped them off the floor?

And what if…

I don’t want to be bound by my birthdays anymore? Are the freshman 15 and baby-fat and middle-age spread inevitable? Or could I push my slothful self out the door, slip into my running shoes and change all that? And if my body is indeed the temple of the Spirit of God, aren’t I somewhat obligated to try?

What if…

I quit complaining? Would I be okay if nobody knew I had a headache? I once tried not to complain for a whole week. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even make it through one whole day! My conversation is laced with common complaints.

“My, its hot…







boring today.”

What if I stopped all that?

What if I never said a bad thing about anybody ever again? Would I have anything to talk about?

The real question is, “Can I change?” Can I overcome my past patterns to become who I want to be…who I believe God made me to be? Can I overthrow my history, much like Ruth did, to reinvent myself? Can I really change by choosing?

One glance through Scripture convinces me I can. The change in Peter between who he was at the end of the gospel of Luke and who he emerged to be in the beginning of the story of Acts is nothing short of astounding! He went from whining wimp to warrior preacher in how many days?

What about Paul? Talk about an about-face!

And John? Jesus nicknamed him and his brother, James, the “sons of thunder,” clearly referring to their raging tempers. A look at his trilogy of letters in first, second, and third John reveals an entirely different temperament. There he’s known as the “Apostle of Love.”

If they can change, can’t I?

I can almost hear Jesus break in to interrupt my raging thoughts… “Martha, Martha…hush now…settle down…you are worried and bothered about so many things.” “Mary,” He gently reminds me, “has chosen the good part.

Choosing the good part…again,

From my heart,



Wisdom from the Scriptures


Naomi’s life started out well. Pleasant, as the meaning of her name suggests. She grew up in the town of Bethlehem, situated in the bread basket of Israel. Her childhood would have evolved around agriculture: plowing, planting, gathering, preparing, and the celebrations which accompanied ample harvests.

She married well. Elimelech was of the elite tribe of Ephrathites, thought to be the founding fathers of Judah. Their family originated with Caleb, Joshua’s consort in their spying days.1

But then her life took a downturn. Due to an apparent famine, Naomi’s husband chose to defy the dictates of the Mosaic Covenant2 and migrate to the land of Moab. There, she lost her entire family to premature death; first Elimelech, and soon thereafter, her two adult sons, Mahlon and Chilion. She found herself abandoned and alone in a foreign land, estranged from the God of her childhood, far away from all that was familiar and safe.

Called a “female Job” by many commentators,3 Naomi becomes a spokesperson for every woman who suffers. In the narrative you get a clear look at Naomi’s hurting heart. She is exposed, bearing her pain for all to see. Naomi feels that God is against her (Ruth 1:13, 21), that He has afflicted her (1:21), and brought misfortune upon her (1:21). She feels empty (1:21) and bitter (1:20).

And yet, little does she know, God is lovingly dictating even the most excruciating of circumstances. By the middle of the story, Naomi is dishing out wise advice to her daughter-in-law. She exhibits a keen understanding of her culture and even an underlying sense of God’s purpose for His people. And she gets her happily-ever-after ending. Holding her grandson, Obed, in her arms, Naomi’s life once again takes on meaning and purpose. Her friends bless her and help her to recognize that God is restoring her life and giving her hope for her future.

In this raw and wrenching depiction of pain, the God of Scripture gives us permission to go ahead and ask those questions that defy easy answers, to rail against the circumstances that upend everything we hoped for.

Naomi’s story is a story of a God who listens…and cares.



For this is the love of God, That we keep His commandments; And His commandments are not burdensome.

I John 5:3

Yesterday I made my list.

1.  Dust downstairs

2.  Mop kitchen floor

3.  Finish making jam

On and on the list droned the delight right out of my day.

Yet still, I had my list and it needed doing and so I did.

That’s when I saw the little Mobile Man standing at the door of my barn church.

Which started a quiet chuckle… then a laugh…which led to a full blown I love life moment as I imagined Jude or Duke or Mo or maybe it was Sunday, setting that little man there with a whole story to go with him.

And do you know what? That little man changed my whole day.

Children don’t work through lists.

They play—all day long.

And didn’t Jesus gather those play-planning kids into His lap and with twinkling eyes tell His goal-oriented, stress-driven disciples to be just like these little players?

“Like a child”, He said.

And so my list changed in that moment.

1.  Dance through my beautiful, cozy home, swinging a dust rag as I do so it’s all shining tonight when we get to pray over John as he leaves for Zimbabwe…

2.   Swish those sticky places and do a little jig of joy for all the meals prepared and people loved right over this floor…

3.  Create beauty in a jar and imagine the moment of opening in mid-winter…

4.  Discover… play all day!

I wonder if Jesus wasn’t thinking of me that day when He gathered those kids on His lap. Looking down through centuries, past history, at the stressed-out woman writing her list. Grim faced and determined to do it all.

“His commandments are not burdensome”, John said. So why am I so burdened?

Maybe because I need to be just like a child.

Maybe because He has other plans for this day.

Maybe because He wants me to play the day away…

From my heart,







Hello! Welcome to our newly redecorated and reorganized site at He Speaks In The Silence.

I hope you will take some time to meander through the blog and see what we’ve been up to. We will still be making some changes here and there over the next few weeks and I’ll be adding pictures and descriptions of my family as well as the team who make this blog happen.

We will be offering fresh posts nearly every day.

On Mondays I will continue the series of Letters To My Son. I just can’t seem to find enough space to tell him all I want him to know about choosing and pursuing a woman to be his wife someday.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be spillovers from my own time of listening to God early in the morning with my Bible as my guide. These will be short, in the moment Glimpses straight from the Scriptures.

Friday is Elizabeth’s day in The Kitchen to bring you fresh, wholesome recipes and ideas to try on your own. We’ll also occasionally feature women who have elevated the tasks involved in making a home into art and beauty.

Every Saturday we’ll be posting from a Bible Study I wrote and taught on the story of Ruth. We’ve formatted it to be used either all alone, curled up in your favorite chair, or with your best friends gathered close and a few others added in.

On Sundays we’ll be featuring a favorite Scripture or two. I’m going through my marked up Bible and giving you some of the verses and phrases and simple truths that have caught my heart and changed the way I think.

And that’s our week!

It is my hope that this will be a place of encouragement and instruction.

That in reading these words and entering my world you will become captivated by Jesus. That you will see how He works and hear how He speaks. And that by knowing how He has helped and taught me, you will want more Him.

May I suggest that you subscribe to have fresh posts delivered straight to your inbox? I’d love to ask questions from time to time of those on our email list, just be sure I’m writing about the things that concern you.

I am humbled and so very grateful to be a part of your life.

From my heart,



LETTERS TO MY SON: confidence

She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night.

Proverbs 31:18


Dearest son,

It is early as I write these words. The summer sun is just tinting a smattering of wispy clouds with the barest glimmer of translucent light. I sit outside watching the world awake.

Upstairs three of my grandchildren lie sprawled in that deepest of slumbers only happy children know. They are safe and they are loved and they know it.

When they wake up they’ll clamor for more of the fun that comes from having a Pops who is still a kid at heart. Maybe they’ll want “awful waffles” (Phil’s title for frozen waffles in a box) for breakfast. Or a sip of “Pop’s wa” (the sparkling water Phil drinks). And they’ll ask with confidence, knowing full well that these two grandparents pretty much never say “no”.

I think we used up that word on our four kids and now just don’t have the heart to ever say it again!

Jude and Mo and Sunday have absolute confidence in our love for them. They know beyond even the slightest doubt that we have their best interests at heart, that we want only good for them, that we will go to great lengths to make sure they have all they need and more.

They are safe here, fully able to rest and be who they are. Confident.

And that is what I want to talk to you about today, Matt.


Your dad and I have laid a foundation of safety and security for you. By God’s grace our home has been a place of refuge—far from perfect, but fully stable.

Unlike so many fathers, your dad has been faithful and present. He has fulfilled his role as Priest of the home, as Provider for his family, and as Protector of all of us. You have a rare gift in that, Matthew.

But now you are launching out on your own.  You have to carve your own way, make your own decisions, choose for yourself how you will live.

You will no longer have your Dad just a few feet away to warn you of danger, nor will I be there to soothe away the hurts that come from living in a world of sharp edges and bumpy roads.

But you will have Jesus. That One who is your real safety, who is always watching over you, who fully knows who you are and who you can be.

He knows how He wants to use you in His story of redemption for a world that needs more of those stories in real time.

My son, if you will live fully in the presence of this One, if you will place all your hope and confidence in Him, inviting Him into every aspect of your life, then and only then will you experience the confidence that comes to those who revere Him. “For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” Proverbs 3:26

A man or a woman who places their entire confidence in God is neither insecure nor dependent on others for approval. Such a man or woman has this underlying sense that “her gain is good” Proverbs 31:18. She does not have to prove herself or boast about her accomplishments. Such a man knows that he is on assignment from God, that he has work to do and if he does it well and faithfully he will hear just the sweetest echo of the words he longs for: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” And that’s all the reward he craves.

Only a close and honest walk with God can give you that kind of confidence, Matthew. Not perfect grades, not stellar reviews, not pats on the back from important people.

You will never be as good nor as bad as some people will paint you to be.

But if you will learn to put your confidence, your sense of who you are as a man, in God—if you will look to Him for approval, knowing His grace covers you and carries you where you lack—then you will experience that same sense of safety and well-being my grandbabies are experiencing right now.

Perfect rest. Trust. Peace.

And Matthew, marry a woman who has found that same confidence in the only One who can give it fully. Do not marry a woman who looks to you for her sense of self or beauty or approval or worth. Do not marry a woman because she makes you feel better than you are. Marry someone and be someone who is safe simply because you have found real safety in Jesus’ startling love for you.

How will you spot that kind of woman?

Here are some  questions to ask yourself as you watch her life (and your own!):

  1. Is she the same person no matter who she’s with?
  2. Does she get her feelings hurt easily? Or do you get mad easily?
  3. Does she have a sense of purpose? Do you?
  4. Does that purpose help her/you make wise choices?
  5. Is she able to be a graceful woman in intimidating social situations?
  6. Is she able to follow with finesse or does she control and manipulate to get her way?
  7. Does she/do you need the limelight? Or can she/can you let others shine?
  8. Does she/do you need to be right all the time?
  9. Is she interested in other people? Does she ask questions about them, about you?
  10. Is she proud of you?

Last night on the way home from church, your dad showed me in full color what this confidence in the Lord looks like. He’d just finished preaching four times throughout the day. He was tired, poured all out. But instead of giving in to his need for quiet and rest and assurance that he’d done well, he became a human juke box. First Jude requested a song, then Moses. Sunday got to shaking her imaginary maracas as Phil launched into all their favorites.

This man who had spent his day preaching to thousands, gave his night to singing to a rapt audience of three.

Why? Because his confidence, his sense of who he is, has been fully formed by Jesus. Whether waxing eloquent about the true definition of joy found in Philippians or showing the true meaning of joy to three giggly grandchildren, your dad knows he is honored to serve His Savior.

That’s what this looks like, son. May you know such soul-lifting confidence in your Savior and may you find a wife who knows it too.

From my heart,









Proverbs 31:17

She girds herself with strength

And makes her arms strong.


She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.


She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.



Dear son,

You were born into a family of hard-working women. Not a lazy, bon-bon munching, soap opera watching one among us.

Do you remember how your Gramma Ruth used to hustle about the house? Always slightly out of breath as she tackled her tasks? Yet when we’d come for a visit she’d have all the time in the world to sit and listen and laugh in delight at her family. In reality she’d prepared for days in advance, baking, shopping, making up beds, dusting and setting out flowers and fresh towels.

So when we got there she could just enjoy us.

And how about my mom? She’s made quilts for each of us— long hours of cutting and sewing and designing just what we want. Basketball quilts for your cousin, cozy quilts for Rebekah, airplane pillow covers for you. And we won’t even talk about her cookie baking, lest we both start to salivate right here on the page.

And there is a purpose to all their hard work, Matthew.

They both poured their strength into making their families’ lives better. 

This woman described in Proverbs 31 did the same. And we get a hint how in this verse and the ones to come.

First of all, she inconvenienced herself.  She had to tuck her long, flowing robes into her belt so she could work hard and efficiently.

Secondly, she humbled herself. Remember, this was the wife of a king. When she cinched that belt up, she was intentionally choosing to set aside her position of royalty and get to work.

And she strengthened herself. And while this must have included physical strength training, I think it was more than that. I think she purposefully chose not to be whiney and weak and demanding and needy. Instead, she got up early every morning to put on strength of spirit by connecting herself with God and choosing to serve Him by caring for her household.

Matt, look for this kind of woman. And be this kind of man. 

Because this is just what Jesus did when He walked into the Upper Room, just hours before He knew He would die.  He saw (and probably smelled) all those dirty feet of His disciples, knew that none of them were about to tackle the unsavory task, tucked His robe up into His belt, and washed their feet.

And in so doing, He strengthened all of them for the days ahead.

Matthew, ten years from now you’ll most likely be married with a baby and maybe a toddler or two and more work than you can possibly get done in a day. If you have a wife by your side who is willing to put her shoulder to the tasks with you, who cheerfully and vigorously pours herself into whatever needs to be done, who is willing to do more than her fair share just because she’s that kind of woman— well, my son, you’ll be singing her praises just like King Lemuel did.

How can you tell if the woman you date is “energetic and strong, a hard worker”?

Here’s my list for the day: 

  1. She makes lists in order to figure out what needs to be done.
  2. She keeps a calendar in order to fit it all in.
  3. She adds that extra flair to what she does.
  4. She whistles while she works- seriously!
  5. She knows when to set aside her task and sit and listen.
  6. She is all about making others comfortable.
  7. She is planning for a future that involves helping others.

I think you can see from this list that the purpose of this woman’s work is not to get rich and famous. She works in order to make the lives of people she loves better, more comfortable, happier... beautiful.

From my heart,


P.S. Do you have a story of someone who worked for your benefit? Someone who set aside her comfort in order to make your life better?




LETTERS TO MY SON: from drudgery to delight

She gets up while it is still night;

she provides food for her family 

and portions for her female servants. 

Proverbs 31:15


Dearest Matthew,

Last week in my letter to you I let you in on the secret so many women share— the whole intimidation factor in the Proverbs 31 description of a “worthy woman”. Since I read the chapter of Proverbs corresponding to the day of the month most mornings, I get faced with her seeming perfection once a month.

Who can do all she does? And if I tried, wouldn’t I get lost in all that work? Become a mindless machine, lose my own creativity, shrivel up inside, and have a massive identity crisis while failing to be perfect?

The fact is, this is an overview of a woman’s life, not what she did every day. Kind of a portfolio of one woman’s description to her son of what an intelligent and godly woman’s achievements can look like over a lifetime and how those doings can benefit her husband and family in such a way as to enrich their lives incredibly.

But notice her first act of the day— getting up early.

It was many years ago that I learned my need for those early morning hours alone. I’d tried and failed time and time again to be disciplined enough to get up early and read my Bible. I knew it was the right thing to do, but with babies up at night and a husband whose ministry mostly happened in the evening hours, it just seemed impossible. The thought of losing precious sleep to cross Bible reading off my list just wasn’t enough to rouse me from slumber.

It wasn’t until my world began to unravel that I discovered the truth this woman in Proverbs 31 lived every day— that it wasn’t more discipline I needed, but more desire. And that when I craved hearing God’s intimate speaking to me more than I craved a little extra sleep, and when that craving actually woke me up in the morning and propelled me into His presence, He had treasures of wisdom waiting for me.

The Bible often likens the Scriptures to food.  Jesus spoke of Himself as the Bread of Life, able to fill and strengthen and nourish us deep within. In the Psalms, God cried out to His people, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it…. I would feed you with the finest of wheat; and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” (Psalm 81:10,16)

He longed for His people to listen to Him, to hear and obey the instructions He was waiting to give them.

The wise woman knows God hasn’t changed through all the days of history. He still longs for us to listen. He has tasks for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Directions and impressions to lay on our hearts, wisdom and understanding to satisfy our longings.

Matt, I would wish for you a wife who is hungry enough to get up early and feast on God’s words.

A woman who listens carefully to the wisdom God gives and then goes to meet the needs of those whom God has given her to serve.

A woman who listens with a pen in hand, making a list of how the Father wants her to love that day.

A woman who sees need before anyone else does and applies the strength she’s already received from God to rise to the challenges of real life.

And son, I would wish for your someday-wife that she would have a husband who shakes off those sleepy morning cobwebs, gets out of bed, starts some coffee, opens the Scriptures, and listens.  Every morning.

I don’t have a list to leave you today. What I do have is a record of my own journey towards this kind of early morning listening. Maybe it will help you to see where you are headed as long as you keep crying out for more of Jesus. And maybe my own list will help you to lovingly lead a woman as she seeks to do the same.

I started with DRUDGERY,

grew up a little into DUTY,

tried but failed for a long time at DISCIPLINE.

Then life led me to a place of DESPERATION,

and that’s when DESIRE

for more of what He poured all over me

led to absolute, unending, every morning DELIGHT.

From my heart,


P.S. For those who are reading these letters:

Are you stuck in the DISCIPLINE phase?

Mad at yourself for failing too often to manage your life in such a way that getting up early to read the Scriptures and listen to God actually happens?

Let me give you a little motherly advice: ask the Father to do whatever it takes to fill you with enough DESIRE so that you will know the DELIGHT of rising early to listen for more.

And if you’re already there- will you tell us your story? I love stories, and I especially love hearing how God moved others to want Him more.


LETTERS TO MY SON: two kinds of women





Dear Matthew,

There are, I have come to see, two kinds of women: God-needing women and man-needing women.

God-needing women are women who are learning and growing and practicing what it looks like in everyday life to “hope in God” (see I Peter 3:5). They’re not perfect, not by a long shot. But they’ve figured out that only God can satisfy the craving in their hearts for more. And they’re pursuing Him actively and purposefully, gaining wisdom and knowledge and intimacy with God.

These women intentionally reject the notion that a man will make them happy. Instead, they look to God for all that He has to say about happiness and joy and serving and giving out of the overflow of a heart that belongs wholly to Him.

That’s the kind of woman I pray you find when the time is right.

Man-needing women are pursuing men.

They’re sure that a man will quench their raging thirst for affirmation and affection. The right man, they dream, will sweep them off their feet and carry them away to a world of beauty and romance and love, love, love.

And they’ll drain you of every last drop of your hayil in their frantic attempt to find what they crave.

Now, let me tell you the real truth about me.

When I married your dad I was just 19 years old. I had grand dreams of being a godly women, wanted with all my heart to serve Him and honor Him. I knew I was marrying a godly man and I loved everything about the life he offered me. With my head in the clouds, I imagined that being married to a leader would offer me security and a place in this world. It would be like being at church 24/7. All happiness and singing praises and satisfaction at the deepest level.

I was wrong.

In reality it felt like the church wanted everything from Phil and I was supposed to be chipper and happy and smiling and nice all the time.

But I was lonely.

And needy.

And not happy.

Somehow we survived that tumultuous first year of adjustments and my unrealistic expectations and I began to realize that my good and godly and loving and romantic leader of a husband would never fulfill me.

In fact, the deeper I delved into Scripture, the more it dawned on me that it was not his job to fulfill me!

Yet that yawning hole inside my soul beckoned to be filled. With your dad’s wise guidance and many hours spent with godly older women, I began to understand that my desperate neediness was meant to drive me into an intimate and satisfying relationship with Jesus. And that He alone could fill those empty places.

But, Matt, it wasn’t a pretty process.

And that’s why I want to warn you away from women who erroneously believe that a man— any man— even you, will make them happy.

With Lemuel’s mom, I want to warn you away from such a woman- a woman like I once was. Because the truth is, I was sucking the life out of my husband, trying to grab all his strength and vitality and attention for me.

And you know the rest of my story.

How God let me get to a place of deep surrender and how He has been filling me and feeding me and satisfying me all these years— not by my good and godly husband, nor through my super-smart-absolutely-perfect children, but just in Himself.

Lemuel's mother cries out for her son to listen! listen! listen!

She knows that the wrong woman will ruin the king. The word there in Hebrew means to “wipe out”. And that is exactly what can happen if a leader marries a man-needing woman.

And it is almost what happened to your father— because of me.

Next week, I’m going to write out another one of those lists for you. I know how men think in tangible, identifiable terms. But for now, just listen, my son.

Don’t be fooled by the giddy idealism of a girl who thinks you will sweep into her life and carry her away on your gleaming white horse and make life perfect.

You can’t.

What you can do is invite a woman whose heart is filled with God to join you in serving Him. You can offer her the breathtaking adventure of following at whatever the cost. You can point her to the security that can only be found in Him. You can point her to the Cross, and all the life that dying to self offers to everyone who chooses His way.

I love you, son. And I’m praying that you will have the discernment to know the difference between a woman who needs God and a woman who needs a man.

From my heart,


To the women who are reading this:

Can you offer some practical pictures of what a God-needing woman does with all that desire for more?

Would you help me explain what it looks like when a well-meaning woman thinks a man might fill that emptiness?

 After all, I’m thinking there must be a whole lot of women like me who are learning the hard way how to find all our hope in God.


MOMMY TO DO LIST: by michele fordice

Not long ago, my friend Michele Fordice left a comment after a blog post about prayer.

Michele is right in the thick of raising and teaching and training two young leaders while she consistently pours herself into supporting and encouraging and helping with her husband’s ministry and vision.

And all the other stuff that happens in real life.

So when Michele makes her list it’s a long one. Full days, never enough done, and without the immediate satisfaction of lots of crossed off tasks.

You know about that?

And Michele has figured something out along the way— something we all need to stop and ponder. I’ve asked her to tell her story so we can grasp this truth along with her.

And maybe, for once, we won’t have to get learn the hard way…

From my heart,


MOMMY TO DO LIST: by michele fordice

This year I am attempting to read the Bible through chronologically.  Having had to take LONG detour through Job, I am still on Gen. 15.  Technically, I am still in week 1 of the year.  Ha!  So…I will finish just maybe in about three years!

Genesis 12 v 1-2 starts out with Abraham’s glorious calling and a promise from God.  I can’t help but romanticize it a bit.

God clearly spoke to Abraham.  Haven’t you at times just longed for an encounter with the living God to speak so clear and boldly?

God said, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”

In response, “I (the Lord) will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

God’s call on Abraham’s life was clear and so was God’s blessing.

Are you waiting to hear your “calling”?  Doesn’t this picture seem a bit romantic to you?

So easy?

So clear?

I remember back in the day… I know, I sound a bit old.  Jay and I were dating long distance; I was finishing school in southern California but when he’d visit we’d frequent Disneyland.  My favorite part was visiting Tarzan’s tree house.  Hand in hand, we’d stroll through Tarzan’s tree house.  I’d dream about our life on the mission field together, sharing the Good News of Jesus, having babies and living a long happy life in the Amazon Jungle.

I know, dreamy.  Right?  Maybe it was my innocent youth coming out, or the dreaminess of Disneyland and the princess stories of love and living happily ever after.

Or maybe he designed me with an innate purpose and calling.

I can tell you that I did marry my love.  We do have two adorable boys. And we are on mission.

Our surroundings aren’t so junglesk though. When I look around, I am thankful for two healthy births, a home that is filled with laughter and electricity, and a life that is filled with adventure.

The adventure begins every morning.  Every morning that I decided to die to self or live for my self.

I can tell you that I have chosen both.

I have chosen the way of Jesus.

AND, I have chosen my own way.

When I am irritated by the fact that I can’t eat a simple meal without getting up four times to refill water, get someone a napkin, a fork, a second helping….

When I am frustrated in the morning because I can’t take 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to be in the Word…

When I want to fly off the handle because my eldest son won’t stop asking me the same question over…and over… oh, and one more time because he didn’t like my original answer…

When I leave an event expecting to be filled, blessed instead of BEING a blessing for others…

When I can’t seem to muster up the ability to find it in my heart to forgive a family member that has wronged me… (for the ONE time I am actually not guilty)

When I am so frustrated at the Lord for yet another rainy day…

When I can’t seem to give up on a shattered dream…expecting that I was somehow owed something more from my childhood…

These are the times when I can look back and say, “Yep. Clearly I haven’t chosen to die to myself today.”

Abraham, a man of faith.  A man who clearly heard from the Lord.  Had a calling, a purpose and a blessing.  He too, got distracted.  He took his family to Egypt because of famine in the land…the Land of Promise.  Walked away from God’s plan.  Lied to Pharaoh about his who his gorgeous bride was….

And he too, the Lord showed mercy too.

Later in Genesis 15, God said to Abraham, “Don’t be afraid.  I am your shield, your very great reward.”

God would use Abraham’s family as a light and a witness of God’s ways for generations and generations…leading to the birth of Jesus.

In my own little way, I pray that I can be a light and a witness of God’s ways to my husband, my children, my friends and family.

The other day my husband happened to come across my to-do list while I was away at coffee with a friend.  He text me a message with a picture of my to do list.  He lovingly mocked me and said, “hey, you forgot one thing!”

“Thanks, Babe!  I haven’t quit conquered this one today!”

The truth: it will probably never get crossed off.

And that is the woman I hope to continue to be. Always focused, purposeful with my day.  Yet at any moment, dying to my self…my agenda…my to do list.

Love, Michele

PS.  If you want a good read and a truly beautiful example of a Godly woman choosing Jesus first read, Gladys Aylward with Christine Hunter, The Little Woman.  I can hardly put it down right now…and when I do, it’s to pause because I am in awe of her deep faith in who God is and her bold desire to make HIS name known throughout the villages of war torn China.

When have you had to make a choice to die to your own dreams, desires or plans to say “YES!” to Jesus?  Your story just might give someone else the courage to say yes to Jesus too!

What scripture has the Lord given you to encourage you to die to your self?  What would you share with your sister who wants in on this journey?


These have been powerful pieces of scripture that I have meditated on.  Asking the Lord to help me really understand what it means to die and for him to live in me!  

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Phil 3:10  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain the resurrection from the dead.

Martha + Mary

Thursday was a whirlwind. I woke up looking forward to the day and with a To Do list packed full.

Duke and I were going to have a morning around the house of playing, working out, getting ready and tidying up.

Then we were headed to make a quick stop by Brook’s new office to say hello.

Then off to my mom’s house so Duke could take a nap there while I went grocery shopping for us and for my brother (his wife had been in Uganda for 5 weeks while they adopted my new niece!)

I was just slightly looking forward to grocery shopping by myself. Not that going with Duke isn’t wonderful… just a bit different of an experience.

I had a two-hour window to go to Costco, Winco and Trader Joe’s and be back to pick up Duke and take John Mark his groceries.

I pulled up to the Costco parking lot with a massive downpour enveloping my car and realized I had forgotten my phone. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal but I am 9.5 months pregnant and could go into labor at any moment.

I thought for a minute about going back to get it but then decided to just shop as quick as I could and hope my water didn’t break.

I buzzed through Costco and Winco… getting SOAKED in each parking lot and then headed to Trader Joe’s.

At this point my “relaxing” time of grocery shopping all alone was not feeling the way I had envisioned.

I pulled into Trader Joe’s, got out my list and realized something…

Everything on John Mark’s list was from Trader Joe’s.

John Mark’s list was on my phone.

My phone was at my parent’s house.

Stress level rising.

To make my long day shorter…

I ended up getting home at 8:30 that night , putting Duke to bed, eating dinner after 9  and falling exhausted into bed as soon as Brook got home at 10.

Needless to say, my day didn’t work out the way I’d planned.

Instead of feeling accomplished and satisfied at the end of the day, I was exhausted, frazzled, and wishing I had been able to finish my laundry, sweep my floor and cross everything off my list of things to do.

Yet this morning I awoke earlier then usual and God had something waiting for me.

I opened by Bible to Luke 10 and the story of Martha and Mary jumped off the page to me in a whole new way.

I have always resonated with Martha and am certainly a woman who gets wrapped up in tasks. In fact, I often enjoy the tasks. Yet, I can get consumed by them and lose sight of what else God might have for me in the day.

Jesus says:

Luke 10: 41

Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

This verse sums up my Thursday. I was worried and bothered instead of choosing to sit at Jesus’ feet.

My floors will stay clean only until my husband and son come running down the halls, filling our home with laughter and joy.

My To Do list will always have something new to be added as soon as something old is crossed off.

My laundry will be finished for a few fleeting moments before Duke spills lunch on his t-shirt.

My grocery shopping will be complete until I get home and realize I forgot bananas.

Yet these are the very things that give my life meaning and purpose. They show that my life is filled with people… and people are so much more important then tasks.

I am speaking from a place of weakness and asking God to give me strength. Will you ask Him to the same for you?

In the passage immediately following, Jesus speaks to his disciples about prayer:

Luke 11:9-10

"So I say to you, ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock; and it will be opened to you. For anyone who asks receives; and he who seeks, finds; and him who knocks it will be opened.”

Often His answers are different then what we would picture.

They may not come in more time to accomplish tasks.

They may come in the form of more interruptions that seemingly create more tasks.

But may we remember to sit at His feet, first. Asking what His will is for today.

From a mom who is learning,


PS: In light of what God is teaching me this week… I’m taking the time to enjoy my family this week and rest a bit before we add a new baby girl.

But I don’t want to leave you empty handed in the recipe department so I wanted to link you to one of our favorite treats on these stormy days. ENJOY!

PRAYER: when God says yes

“And Peter got out of the boat,

and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

But seeing the wind, he became afraid,

and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying,

Lord, save me!”

Matthew 14:29,30

Peter was this really gutsy guy. Brave, bold, the first one to try anything. And those very qualities he was so proud of sometimes got him into trouble.

There was one time when he was really scared. Of course, he wouldn’t have admitted it for the world. A ferocious storm had come up and the boat he was in was “tormented by the waves, for the wind was contrary.” Can’t you see those twelve macho fishermen huddled in the bottom of the boat?  Looking up, they spotted what they were sure was a ghost coming to get them. Everyone, including Peter, started crying.

Contrary winds will do that to you.

As soon as He saw what was going on, Jesus, who was walking along on those crazy waves, spoke to them, saying,

Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.

Then Peter did the strangest thing.  He challenged Jesus to order him to walk on water.“Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

And He did. With just a simple word, Come.

So Peter clambered out of that boat right into those contrary wind driven waves.

So bold. So brave. So stupid.

He’d gotten himself into a real predicament now and he knew it.  Here he was, in the middle a massive storm, battered by the wind, and the boat with the rest of his compadres drifting way behind him.

“He became afraid.”

Stark raving terror.

Have you been there? On those waves, surrounded by out-of-control panic, sinking fast?

I’ll bet you did exactly what Peter did. I’ll bet you prayed.

“Lord, save me!”

Big, invincible, self-sufficient, got-it-all-together, me.  Short and sweet.


And He did. Jesus just stretched out His big beautiful hand and took hold of poor Peter before he had so much as a chance to get water up his nostrils. He gave the guy a good talking to right there out on the water. “Oh you of little faith, why do you doubt?” Then He lifted a now considerably humbled fisherman into the boat and the wind stopped.


Wow. That’s a story.

Do you have a story like that of your own? Has Jesus ever reached out His big, beautiful, powerful hand to you and rescued you right then and there from something really bad? Like sinking deep into something contrary and terrifying that was all your own fault?

Will you write it down?  Send it in? Let us all know how really great God is?

‘Cuz sometimes we just need to remember how big He is when those winds take us for a ride.

From my heart,