Divinely Designed: Sooty to Smashing

Some would say the beautiful ceiling
of the Sistine Chapel is
divinely designed.

The frescos painted by Michelangelo tell the sweeping story of Bible,
from God’s creation to Christ’s ascension.

(A fresco is a painting done rapidly in watercolor on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling,
so that the colors penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries.) 

Moms, before there were permanent magic markers
to “beautify” your walls,
there were frescos.

In the centuries since its completion in 1512,
the magnificent images in the poorly lit chapel were illuminated by millions of candles
which eventually layered the ceiling with soot and smoke
until the frescos were a shadow of their original splendor.

A 14 year restoration process began in 1980.

Standing on scaffolding nine stories above the floor,  
experts painstakingly restored
 the 6,135-square-foot ceiling of frescos
to its original glory.

Look at the difference!

(before)

(after)
(Wikipedia photographs)

God created me to be a reflection of who he is,
but years of worshiping false gods, even being my own god,
layered soot and sin on me so thick my original design was unrecognizable. 

Read More

Training for Team Jesus

Are you staying up late to watch the Olympics? 

Have you picked your favorite athletes?
Do you stand in front of your television screaming,
“Go! Go! Go!”
“You can do it!”
 “Don’t give up!”

I do.
I cheer.
I jump up and down.
I applaud.

When Team USA wins, it feels like I win.

You can learn a lot by watching the Olympics.

1.

You can learn about
Overcoming Obstacles.

Every single athlete has a story of overcoming obstacles.
Painful injuries.
Intimidating adversaries.
Not enough money for training or equipment.
Loneliness, separation, living apart from family while training.

Can you relate?

Read More

You Are Not Alone

This blog was originally featured at (in)courage.  

Saturday mornings are easy at our house.

Seconds on the clock don’t count against us like they do
Monday through Friday as we scurry to school, work, and church.
Children linger in pajamas,
breakfast is eaten in random shifts, and
I putz in the kitchen while my husband sleeps through the
soft singsong of children’s television in the next room.

On this particularly beautiful Indian summer day,
when the weather betrays the calendar with 70-degree temps and sunshine,
we are beckoned outdoors for a last romp without the hindrance of heavy coats.
The trikes and pedal cars will race up and down the driveway on this last hurrah
before exchanging places with sleds and snowboards in the loft of the garage.

As my little boys search for shoes and wooden swords —
standard issue for adventures if you’re 7 and 4 —
I go to invite my husband into our activities.

This man, this husband of mine, makes my world work.
He opens my doors, my jars, and my eyes to possibilities I never imagined.
He works two jobs so I can stay home with littles.
He encourages my writing and he supports my dream of being a Christian speaker one day.
He fixes everything I break, brings home flowers for no reason, and eats everything I put in front of him.
He dances with me in the kitchen, and he plays on the floor with our children.
When he wraps me up in his strong arms and kisses me deeply,
I know that forever is not long enough to be married to this man.
He makes me feel safe and loved and secure.

Finding my husband asleep on the couch,
I lean toward him to whisper him awake.
There is no response.

Read More

Moments, Miracles and Surprise Endings

Blog-Hop-Button-300x300

 Last week I was part of the Speak Up Conference
Mowhere hundreds of speakers and writers converged at the
Prince Center in Grand Rapids, MI to
learn, grow and network.

I was privileged to have the main stage one morning.
Here is the summary of the powerful message God gave me!

Do you ever have MOMENTS?

What do you do when the computer swallows up your documents?
How do you react when you discover your secret stash of Oreos has been raided?
Can you keep your cool when your curling iron overheats and melts your hair?
Imagine your reaction to discovering that your car has been towed!

Would you have a MOMENT?

I dare say,
Delays, Disappointments and Doubts
trigger many MOMENTS.

In John 11,
Mary and Martha are having a moment because their brother is deathly ill.
They send word to Jesus.

They don’t tell him what to do,
They tell him what’s going on – like you would in a prayer …

and then they wait 
for him to tell them what to do.

Read More

God’s Surprising Solutions to Prayer

From my home office, I could hear the racket.

Loud, clunking arrhythmic noises were coming from something big and mechanical.
At first, I thought the washing machine was out of balance
and trying to walk out of the basement again.
I quickly discovered the central air conditioning unit was the source of the noise.

Oh no!

It was 90 degrees outside and summer was just getting started.
I shut it off and called the repair man to look at it.
 

His assessment?

“Call a salesman. You need a new unit,” he told me.
“There’s no way to fix this one?” I ask hopefully.
“This unit is 20 years old. It’s served you well. Let it die in peace.”
“I see. Well, can you estimate what it would cost to replace?”
Without a moment of hesitation, he said, 
“I’d guess close to $3000.00.”

I nearly fainted and not from the heat!

Read More

Small Beginnings Lead to Big Victories!

 

Yesterday, the bathrooms had to be scrubbed.
Tomorrow is laundry day so tomorrow night is dedicated to ironing.
Mr. 4-Ever wants to eat again today,
which means grocery shopping and more cooking.

Just to be clear,
this is not how I prefer to spend my days.

I want to pray, study, and worship God.
I want to teach Bible study to women who love and/or need Jesus.
I want to write great talks to deliver to women desperate for Good News.
I want to create captivating books for women to read
so they can be inspired and energized and reengage with God.

But here I am …
cooking, cleaning, and ironing.

Doing the ordinary stuff.
Doing the boring stuff.
Doing the familiar stuff.

There’s a little verse in Zechariah 4:10 that says,
“Do not despise these small beginnings,
for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin,
to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Read More

Asking for Help is NOT a Sign of Weakness.

 

My Hot & Hunky Hubz was a gear-head.
Restoring old cars was therapeutic for Jay.

Girls, our garage looked like an auto repair shop!
Big tool chests lined the back wall.
Wrenches and widgets hung on pegboard wall to wall.
Shelves and shelves of solvents and solutions were propped up by
decades worth of car magazines and manuals.
A fat red compressor as tall as me hissed and clicked next to
huge welders accessorized by heavy metal masks and thick gloves.
There was a sandblasting stall that doubled as a painting bay.
Jay reserved one stall inside his precious space to park my car but

the rest of the building was all man cave. 

One day, shortly after Hot & Hunky died,
my car wouldn’t start.

Naturally, I called a tow truck.
After a short wait, a big truck backed up the driveway.

Beep… Beep… Beep… 

Out jumped a Burly Man.
“Thanks for coming so quickly. My car is in the garage and it won’t start.”

“Ok, Lady, let’s have a look,”
said Burly Man as we walked toward the garage.

When I swung open the garage door, Burly Man stopped in his tracks.

“Is this a joke, Lady?” he asked as he looked around.

“No! The car really… won’t … start ….”

Read More

Not Really So Shiny As I’d Like You to Believe

I like blonde jokes as much as the next girl.

My favorite one is how can you tell if a blonde’s been using the computer?
There’s white-out on the screen.

Want one more? What is a blonde’s favorite color?
Diamonds.

Ok, last one, why do blondes always smile during thunderstorms?
They think someone is taking their picture.

These jokes make us chuckle because we can all relate to blonde jokes
Everyone makes mistakes.

But in real life, NOONE wants to look too “blonde”.

When my Grandma was young, she lived on the family farm.
Her mom, sisters, aunts, cousins and grandmother lived on the
same property if not in the same house. The advantage to having such close proximity
to family members of many generations is she was allowed to learn from them.
How to make a house a home.
How to grow and preserve food.
How to raise children.
How to handle husbands with respect.

You know what else you get to see in such close quarters?
Flaws!
Mistakes!

Which in turn gave her permission to be imperfect.

Read More

Weary Of Rules and Ready For Easter

Easter Sunday is near!
Hallelujah!

Part of me is relieved that Lent is nearly over so
I can resume the consumption of chocolate and binge watch television.

You would think after 46 days the cravings would be gone,
but they taunt me.

I have repeatedly whispered,
“God, I want to long for you like I long for chocolate and Netflix.”

The glorious discipline of Lent has brought me closer to God and
has transformed some of my strongholds into mere indulgences.

I have experienced God in powerful ways over the past 40-plus days.

But Lent isn’t about just overcoming
temptations or even establishing new patterns.

It’s to prepare me for Easter.

To put me in the place where I anticipate the celebration of an an empty tomb.
To synchronize my trust and faith with the RESURRECTION of Jesus.

Jesus’ resurrection has to be more than get-out-of-hell insurance.

Jesus’ resurrection has to be the assurance that
all the things wrong in my life and in yours
can be resurrected.

Read More

3 Remedies To Keep Your Contentment

Do you ever have what my friend Lauren calls a MOMENT?

You know what I mean?

Everything is just “fine” and then you get triggered.
Something hits you sideways and you have a MOMENT.

Maybe you had a Facebook moment when you saw that
you weren’t included in a party or conversation or outing.

Maybe you had a home improvement moment
as you watched all the options HGTV had to offer.

Maybe you had a Pinterest moment when you
tried your best to recreate the image on your computer screen
and it was an unrecognizable failure.

Frustrated Woman Looking In Oven With Disappointed Expression

Maybe you had a travel moment when you had high expectations of
Swanky Suites but ended up at Bob’s Sleep Palace?

Maybe it was
your car, or
your house, or
your kids, or
your boss, or
your husband, or
your scale, or
your mirror …
and you just had a MOMENT!

The MOMENT dissolved your contentment.

Read More