Thank You for Surprises

Thank You, God, for surprises, starting with the fireflies that look like falling, flitting, blinking stars in the forest and summer squalls that blow up all bubbly and burst to soak the smiling farmer and the buzz of a bird that actually hums when it breezes by so closely or trees that blush red in autumn or what about hiccups–how hilarious!

Perhaps we need all these surprises because we get so callous to the mundane miracles, so we need a little shocking. We don’t even blink at the dinner-plate sized Magnolia and the ants that carry more than their weight and tissue-paper butterflies flitting about for over a thousand miles.

And then there’s the biggest surprise of all–that You would love us even to the shocking scandal of sending Your Son to die for us.

And so we say, thank You.

Thank You, for the Children’s Prayers

Thank You for the children’s prayers:

For the “Dear Hope-enly Father” who continues, “I hope Mommy doesn’t die. I hope Daddy doesn’t die. I hope my sisters don’t die.” May she always bring her hope-list to the Hope-enly God.

And thank You for the staller who starts, “Deeeeeeeeeaaaaaaarrrrrrr Goooooooooooood.” May he get another minute before he has to climb in bed. And when he is chided to continue and then asks for heavenly assistance with, “Please help Mom not be so meeeeeeeeaaaaaaan,” may his request be granted.

Thank You for the thankful, who could go on and on. “Thank You for the rainbows and the rhinos and the hippos and the triceratops and the T-Rexes and the swings and the…” May they never find the end to their list.

Thank You for the straight business prayers of “Thank You for this food but I hate broccoli.” May we all remember to stay honest and open with You.

Yes, Lord, thank You for loving us as we love ours.

Thank You for reminding us to come as a child.


***In the spirit of Brian Doyle’s “Book of Uncommon Prayer” and with continuing praise to the Creator, Amen.

Daisy’s First Day

Thank You for the Sun

…which I tend to think of as mine and here for me. An overlooked servant, I ignore it, or curse it when it’s not there, or too much there. Or bless when the wind bites but it gives hope. Or wish on when it seems so cold and distant over a frozen tundra. And thanks for the moon, another gift just to me, to add to the magic of a garden of stars for an enchanting night.

Always there, whether seen or unseen, the sun and moon do Your bidding whether I like the day’s orders or not. They are Your created beings to rule the day and the night that will go on with or without me and have since before the dust that became Eve.

And though I fuss and cuss and pout and groan, and sing and dance and delight and swim and sled and sleep and eat and work with little thought to the perfectly spaced, massive ball of consuming fire above that is the reason I can live at all, I thank You now for its example, daily, of Your hope and faithfulness and sovereign plan which I can neither thwart nor hurry. I need that reminder.

And though the scientists tell me this sun will burn out and turn cold like it feels on an Alaskan January day, foreign and impotent, that is far beyond my ability to be concerned about. I can be content with that.

And so, thank You.

***In the spirit of Brian Doyle’s “Book of Uncommon Prayer” and with continuing praise to the Creator, Amen.

Daisy and the new home

Alone, Together

Somewhere deep inside my head, static crackled me out of a trance. The miles of Western Texas had lulled me to semi-comatose, and the roar of the high-warning winds left me isolated in my brain, even though I was wrapped around my husband on the back of his BMW motorcycle.


His voice coming over the headset inside my helmet might as well have been aliens—which I seriously wondered about, thinking I was hearing a crossed frequency in this empty, foreign land.

‘You good?’ his voice finally rooted me back to this reality. We tried to converse a bit about the moon-like landscape, the wind making us lean into it at a 20 degree angle. We attempted answers to ‘who would live here?’ when we passed the occasional old camper dropped in the middle of nothing. But when the wind covered even our speaker-to-ear connection, with the volume at the highest level, he would tap his helmet off, I’d hear the beep, and descend again into my alone world.

Except I wasn’t alone. Seven hours of silent retreat, I decided. I could pray. I could try this being quiet before God thing. Maybe I would hear His voice over the wind.

New Mexico

My husband and I enjoy road trips together. He’s my road warrior, doing most of our long distance driving, usually in a car. We found over the years a mutual enjoyment of the long periods of quiet. After going through the radio options, saying what needs to be said, we’d settle into our own thoughts in quiet content. Alone, together. A pause in the conversation that didn’t have to be filled out of insecurity, or lack of knowledge. A communication on a different level, beyond words. Sure, when we first met we’d talk for hours. But at times we love comfort of contentedness that doesn’t need anything.

My silent retreat with God didn’t start with my silence. Rather, like any child exposed to new, my words to Him flitted about to everything: awe of the massive sky, started prayers for each of my loved ones until I’d get distracted by one lone cow and I wondered how God kept her alive out here, thanks for the adventurous trip we got to go on, punctuated by panic prayers for protection as my man accelerated to pass, whisps of worship songs or memorized verses. But it all lapsed into forgetfulness.

It took a long time to get tired of myself and finally quit talking. I stilled. Did I listen, or just zone out? I know there was no voice coming through the statics. No reward stickers for having sat quietly. But there was the sense of peace. Joy, even, of being alone, together, as He watched me delight in a different part of His creativity. I felt the warmth of being in relationship where nothing has to be said.

They say people need quality time together. But I believe quality time is a myth. It can’t be forced, scheduled, pushed onto stage on cue. It has to be coaxed, earned, through quantity of time. One isn’t allowed the precious deep secrets till one has built up the trust of listening through all the labyrinth of thought. One can know much about a person, but it takes time and only time to know them.

And it is time we are most selfish with, for it is our life. We want to bill every moment spent; to set it on the scales and weigh it—time spent versus outcome—to judge its worth. But the value of relationship rarely shows on the scale when demanded. It frequently refuses to show its hand until the final call, when its most needed. It takes a lot of faith to keep dropping points into the opaque piggy bank. 

But drop in we must. See the hidden value we must.

‘Invest in what you love. Love what you invest in.’ The principle continues to ring true. The Lord spoke of our investment of our treasure, knowing we love where we place our money. If time is money, then it too can be a down payment. 

So, no. I didn’t receive any great revelation in the desert. But I want to do it again. 


Is It A Happy Day?

“Mommy!” toddler breath hit my face and I swam to consciousness. “Mommy! Is it a happy day?!” I opened my eyes to see their expectant ones. My twin toddler boys had padded in on footed-pajamas feet and waited for my response. There were kingdoms to build (of legos), mountains to climb (on the couch), wild beasts to tame (if the puppy didn’t nip too much), maybe even a damsel to save (because otherwise baby sister screamed too loud).

We implemented the rule when they were waking too early: come check with us before unleashing their hooah holler. Somehow, ‘ask us if it is morning yet’ morphed in their brains to “Mommy! Is it a happy day?”

Many a morning during that time, the question gave me pause. Their dad was deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Osama bin Laden was still on the loose, and my husband’s stryker brigade was on the hunt for him in ‘cowboy country.’ Daily news brought scenes of IED destruction, plumes of smoke and dust, planes coming home with flag-draped coffins, tickers counting the wounded.

We wouldn’t hear from our soldiers but once in a while back then, so we recited the mantra ‘no news is good news.’ Mail came sporadically. No cell phones. Static drenched phone calls lasted a couple of minutes with mostly ‘I love you’s’ communicated. Bread crumbs of hope.

Rolling over in bed, declaring it not a happy day, and wallowing in fear and sorrow felt the most right those days. But the bouncing brown eyes under the Lyle Lovett curls were waiting. Their question asked so much more:

Is there reason for hope today, Mommy?

Are His mercies new again this morning?

Can we trust Him now?

Is the Lord still good?

I struggled to find a smile. Not a fake-it-till-you-make-it one. Not a riding the denial river smile. A thread of a smile that recognized the hard in the midst of a good God. One who brought hope and faithful promises and new mercies with happy days.

I struggle to find it now. The events in Afghanistan bring up concern for tomorrow, fear for today, grief from the last twenty years of yesterdays for the military family. My older friends mourn losses again. My younger friends are kissing their husbands good bye, and waking to expectant children’s eyes. 

I am working again to learn the lessons. I try to turn off the news and turn to my God. I work to shut down the voices of worry and shout them out with the words of His voice. I struggle to learn to trust not in the strength of men or equipment or intelligence but in the One who gives all of it.

I am working again to see what my children helped me see back then: the good in the here and now, the sun waking the world, the fun to be had with things as simple as water and dirt, the gifts still given in a dandelion, a lightning bug, a puppy’s lick. I need to feel the Presence in the present.

The question comes again: ‘Is it a happy day Mommy?’ 

Yes—with Jesus. Oh, yes. 

Verses I’m holding onto today: Romans 15:13, Psalms 42-44, Job 13:15

Love Anyways

A Devotional Given for PWOC Women’s Bible Study, January 2021

My friend was talking with her teenage son when he shrugged, “Yeah, when I turn 18 I’ll leave and probably won’t come back. I mean, I don’t really have anything in common with you.”

These words seared my friend’s heart, though they weren’t a surprise. She had actually suffered a thousand little cuts like this over the last dozen years. She and her husband had traveled to another continent, picked this 4 year old little boy, rescued him from the abuse and dangers of street life. They brought him home, gave him their name, met his every need and many desires, held him, encouraged him, played with him, taught him, called him their very own. They loved him.

But their love was met again and again with stiff-armed resistance, calloused indifference, a lifetime of mistrust.

Perhaps it can be blamed on bonding issues since the day he was born. Maybe the PTSD brain that continues to be uneasy with peace. Or is it the cultural difference that was never broken through?

We adopted him, my friend said, but he never adopted us. 

Our verse in I Cor 13:7, tells us “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

We are in a time of great turmoil. Even if you don’t believe we’re in the end times, you have to admit we are getting closer to them every day. The war is stirring all around us and the final battle is coming—of good versus evil, of love versus hate. We need this love that protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres now more than ever.

But like my friend’s child, we find ourselves incapable of love. We barely know how to define it and when we do with I Corinthians 13, we are unable to truly do it.

Perhaps we have bonding issues.

Perhaps our brain has been hardwired to never trust the peace and always be drawn to the chaos.

Perhaps it’s our culture—we rarely see examples of true love.

Yet the God who IS love cries, “Come!”

And sometimes He rages and threatens 

sometimes He begs and flirts

Or He beckons and reminds

and ultimately He goes, He seeks,

He hunts down

and He crushes His very own Son to pay the ransom.

Sisters this world is dying for love. The Covid-lonely long for it. This divided country demands it. Fort Polk is suffocating without it.

And we are incapable of it.

Without God.

He keeps calling Come. We have to have His love. We have to have His filling. We have to be His daughters. His empty vessels.


He holds out the adoption papers. We have to accept.

This isn’t an invitation to the lovely ladies society. This is giving up everything you hold dear, being completely emptied, so He can fill it.

And fill it.

And fill it.

It is impossible for us to spread love and truly love even those most dear to us without loving Him. But Romans 5:5 tells us, “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

So we are on this lifelong quest to love the Lord. We pray. We hear His words. We spend time with Him. We seek out time with fellow believers who show us more of Him. We look all around us for His love letters—the beauty He gives for our enjoyment and to remind us of Him. Even the hard things are reminders to run into His arms.

Let’s do that.

As we pray this morning, will you turn your palms down to let drop the things you are holding onto, the things you need to have gone from your life.

Palms up, open hands, help us consider what the Lord wants to give us, what He will fill us up with. With hands cupped and open to Him, ask Him to show you the love He has for you, that He has surrounded you with.